Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Day 4234

Good grief. Usually a trip to the dentist is uneventful for me. I have good teeth and seldom have problems. Today the dentist told me that I have a cavity in one tooth and need a root canal in another. My regular dentist doesn't do root canals, so I had to go see an endodontist. My regular dentist said it was time for another pano-x-ray. That wasn't good enough for the endodontist however. He said I needed a cone beam CT scan. I got both. Needless to say, it was an expensive afternoon. All I was expecting was a routine teeth cleaning today. My teeth don't hurt and I had no idea there was a problem. The x-rays don't lie unfortunately, so I've got two different appointments in August for some major dental work.

This is probably why I still haven't made appointment with two other doctors I need to see this summer. I hate surprises and the older you get, the more likely you are to be surprised during a routine doctor visit. I'll get everything done this summer, but I'm saving the colonoscopy for last. I'd really like to avoid that one. 

Medical expenses always seem so unrewarding. I'd much rather get a new camera lens than a root canal. You can't ignore your health though. Both dentists agreed that it wouldn't be wise to postpone the root canal, even though the tooth isn't bothering me at the moment. The endodontist said the infection was still contained within the bone. "You don't want this to spread to soft tissue," he told me. "It will be very painful." OK. I believe you. I've made both dental appointments and will probably go ahead and make all my other appointments as well. I might as well get all this medical stuff behind me. Then I can concentrate on important things like going to rocket launches and visiting the observatory again.

It was too late to go to the gym after I returned from my two dental visits today. Even though it was very hot, I went for a walk instead. There was no compelling reason to do anything, but I really wanted to get those steps. I have become a slave to Fitbit and my Apple Watch. There's nothing wrong with exercise though. I think I'm in pretty good shape for 73. Age catches up with you though. Dusty Hill died today. He was younger than I am. I never saw ZZ Top perform, although I really liked their music. I should have gone to a concert while I had a chance. The band spent a lot of time in Dallas. Actually Dusty was born here.

Dawn is still trying to lick and bite her paws. I had to put a cone on her before I went to the dentist today. She's still taking antibiotics and I thought it was funny that the endodontist prescribed the same antibiotic for me. I'm supposed to start taking the pills four days before the root canal procedure. The root canal is underneath a crown and I keep thinking that this never would have happened if I hadn't gotten the crown. I chipped a tooth years ago and I wanted the dentist to just smooth the little chipped part and seal it. Nope. He said I had to have a crown, even though only a tiny part of the tooth had broken off. I still think that tooth was basically fine. What do I know about dentistry though? I'm the guy who went fifteen years without seeing a dentist at all.

Tomorrow I get a haircut. Somehow it is much easier for me to make a hair appointment than a doctor's appointment.

Queenie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Day 4233

The sunrise walks are warmer now. You can tell what kind of day it is going to be the instant you step outside. I knew today was going to be a hot one. Dawn's enthusiasm for walking is very temperature dependent. She walked slower today and chose a shorter route. I couldn't blame her for wanting to get back to the house. When the temperature is already in the 80's during the coolest part of the day, even a dog knows that it's crazy to stay outside.

The air conditioner is running nonstop now. I keep hoping that this essential piece of machinery won't break. The problem with air conditioning is that it can only lower the ambient temperature by about twenty degrees. This works pretty well when the outside temperature is 90 degrees. When the temperature climbs over 100 degrees, most systems start to struggle. Our house isn't well insulated either. We have lots of single pane glass. The house was originally built with a thick tar and gravel roof that provided a modest amount of insulation. Modern roofing materials are much thinner and provide little insulation value at all. We have lost several large trees over the years as well, which used to provide lots of shade. We've always had hot summers here in Dallas, but it seems like the air conditioner is working a lot harder than it used to.

After breakfast I wrote a letter to my sister. This is the only way we communicate, so I always try to answer her letters. I kind of wish that everyone still wrote letters. It's easy to put a paper letter or a bill in a file folder and save it forever. I can't tell you how much e-mail that I have accidentally erased over the years. I have already forgotten to pay several bills now that I have switched over to electronic payments for everything. My old IBM Selectric typewriter used to feel so much more substantial than this Apple keyboard. I think my spelling used to be better back in the day as well, since it was such a pain to correct things. The older I get, the more nostalgic I become, so I guess I'm glad that there is still one person who believes in putting their thoughts on paper. My sister is even more old school than I am and writes everything in long hand instead of using a keyboard.

Dawn is getting better about wearing a cone while I'm away. She doesn't like it, but it works much better than the socks did for protecting her feet. She's got some new antibiotics now, but we still don't know what is causing the compulsive licking. It's rare that Janet and I are both away at the same time, so Dawn doesn't have to wear the cone that often. The redness does improve if we can keep her from licking or biting at her paws, so maybe if we can just keep her away from those paws for two or three weeks, everything will be better.

The gym must have fixed their air conditioning overnight, because the place was much cooler today. A lot of the treadmills are still broken, but I was still able to find a good one. It looks like I might be going to the gym every day this week because we've got a long string of 100 degree days ahead of us. Oddly, my car has better air conditioning than either our house or the gym. I have no problems staying cool in my car.   The only problem I have with the car is that it gets terrible gas mileage. If I'm driving in the city, I can almost see the gas gauge go down while I'm looking at it. Its silly to complain about this though, since I don't drive much and basically go nowhere. I only fill my tank about every three weeks.

The foam inserts for my camera case finally arrived. I haven't installed the foam in the case yet because I still have to cut slots in the foam for the lenses and camera. It seems like I had a special knife for this at one point. I'll have to look for it. Once I replace the disintegrating foam in the old aluminum Halliburton case I probably won't look at the cameras again for several years. It's way too much trouble to shoot on film these days unless you do the processing yourself.

I hope it's a little cooler tomorrow, but I'm sure it won't be. I'm probably going to be complaining about the heat for the next several months. 

Deuce is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, July 26, 2021

Day 4232

The heat is getting serious. The temperature topped 100 degrees for the second day in a row. Everywhere I went today it felt like the air conditioners were struggling to keep up. Even our sunrise walk this morning felt considerably warmer than usual. I can't wait for Fall to arrive. The sad thing is that we aren't even getting the worst of the summer heat. Many other parts of the country have it worse than we do.

Luckily, the kennel was still keeping Charlie and Cooper nice and cool. The boys are alone again, since Daisy went to her forever home this week. Not surprisingly, the dogs didn't want to go outside today. Cooper really didn't want to go outside and decided to poop in the indoor play area instead. We left the possum toy home today because it seemed to be making Charlie sad. We brought two new toys that didn't look like animals and both dogs had fun thrashing them around and trying to get the squeakers out. Both dogs have gotten extremely good at catching toys when we throw them in the air. They know all the basic commands and enjoy showing off. The kennel staff agrees that these two boys are happy dogs. They seem to think that the kennel is their home. Maybe it is. Charlie has sure been there for a very long time. I still hope they can find a real home. For the right person, each of these dogs would make a great companion.

It was so hot when we returned from the kennel that I didn't even consider walking in the park. Even though it was late in the day, I went to the gym instead. The gym wasn't ice cold for the first time I can remember. Even their massive air conditioners were having trouble coping with the heat. Evidently they are still having problems finding a technician to repair the treadmills. Even more were broken today. In fact, one treadmill died while I was using it. I had to search all over the floor to find another that still functioned properly.

More people are wearing masks at the gym again. I have a feeling that it won't be long before there is a mask mandate again. I always keep one in my pocket just in case I'm asked to wear it. Hospitalization rates in Dallas are quite low, but media stories about the Delta variant have gotten a lot of people worried again. You can't say they aren't trying to get everyone vaccinated. I had to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy and the pharmacist asked if I'd had my Covid shots yet. There were big banners on the store advertising free Covid shots inside with no waiting or appointment needed. I don't really understand the reluctance to take this shot. I've been vaccinated against virtually everything over the years and am still doing well. Nobody questions their vet when it's time for a rabies shot. When I was a kid getting vaccinated for everything from polio to measles, there weren't any anti-vaxers. There wasn't any social media either. Social media is at the root of so many of today's problems. It is an addiction every bit as serious as alcoholism or drug abuse. If we could somehow just make Facebook, Twitter, Tik-Tok, and all the other media distractions disappear, the world would be a better place. Medical decisions should be between you and your doctor. They shouldn't be between you and a million other people on Facebook.

I'm glad I'm old. I think future historians will write about this period of time the way we write about the fall of Rome. Civil society is crumbling and we are slowly forgetting that it wasn't always this way. I grew up in a time where my family took vacations all over the United States in a car without seat belts. We played on rusty jungle gyms and swing sets, swam in creeks, and went unsupervised at night on Halloween all over town. There wasn't a single murder in our town during the entire time I was growing up. We rode our bicycles to school and our parents never worried that we'd be involved in a mass shooting. I grew up confident that the world was full of opportunities and never missed not having a phone in my pocket. I'm glad to have experienced this moment in time because it's gone now.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Day 4231

Another Sunday in the books. It was pretty much the same as last Sunday, but there's nothing wrong with that. We have definitely entered the hottest part of the summer. I try to walk earlier and drink lots of water. I wish we'd get a cool day so I could mow the grass. It's just too hot to mow the grass or go up on the roof right now. I do water the grass though. So far, the new grass hasn't died.

We still enjoy our sunrise walks. It's amazing how quickly the temperature rises as soon as the sun comes up. Dawn walked a lot today. She went a mile and a half on our early walk and then walked another mile when we took her on her Sunday outing. I took my own long walk in between these two dog walks. Now my routine includes standing under the spray fountain I discovered recently. An early start and a cooling mist of water along the way really helps.

When we got ice cream after Dawn's outing today, I noticed that the cones have gotten smaller. The price is the same, but there is definitely less ice cream in each cone. This is happening everywhere. I can't think of a single instance where portion sizes have increased recently. I've already mentioned dog food cans and paper towel rolls, but I'm sure there are other things as well. When you buy the same things over and over again, you notice small changes.

We've got to come up with a better solution for protecting Dawn's feet. All the socks we've tried don't tend to stay on very long. I don't know how she gets them off, but whenever I look she's always missing a sock. So far we've been using things that were left over from Dot and Dash. We probably need to measure her feet and find something that is specifically designed for her feet. Lots of luck with that though. Dog socks just tend to come in small, medium, and large. Hopefully, when we eventually discover why she is licking her paws, we can deal with the root cause and the licking will stop.

I ordered a new pair of Hoka One One running shoes today. My old shoes haven' worn out yet, but since I will probably be wearing these things forever, it makes sense to buy a pair whenever I see a good sale. It's a shame that running shoes wear out so quickly. I have hiking boots that will last for generations, but they hurt my feet now so I can't wear them anymore. All my old shoes still fit fine. When your cartilage starts to degenerate and wear out, your feet just aren't very forgiving.

Sometimes I wonder what I'd like to do in the years ahead. If I had a car that was absolutely guaranteed not to break down in the middle of nowhere, I'd wander aimlessly along the back roads of America, stopping whenever I found a place that seemed lost in time. I would avoid cities like the plague. The future looks bleak, but the past still exists, tucked away in little pockets here and there. It might be fun looking for them.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Day 4230

It was apparent when we took our sunrise walk this morning that it was going to be a hot day. We got a late start, but it still felt early to me. I didn't sleep well last night. A combination of heartburn and an upset stomach showed me that I've really got to start watching what I eat. I felt better after the walk, but still felt like goig back to bed.

Since today was definitely too hot for a walk in the park, I thought I'd try something new. I went to the gym before I did my Saturday grocery shopping. The gym closes early on Saturday, but this worked out pretty well. I walked three miles at the gym and did a little work with free weights before going to two grocery stores that were on my way home anyway. I got all my shopping done earlier than I usually do and  I didn't have to think about walking in the hot sun. Mission accomplished.

We got a small cone of shame for Dawn, but she really doesn't like it. When I ran my errands this morning I put a waterproof covering on the bed so we wouldn't have another laundry disaster if Dawn started licking again. She does most of her licking while we're gone. It's a shame that we can't leave the paper bootie bandages on her paws while we are away. I'm afraid that she might eat the booties trying to get them off and we would find ourselves at the emergency vet with a blockage. The socks work great while we are at home, but we have to keep an eye on Dawn. The booties do prevent her from licking her paws, but she knows how to get them off now. Keeping her from licking is an uphill battle.

This afternoon was uneventful. There were a number of things I should have done, but I couldn't seem to get motivated. Ants are getting in the house again, but I can't figure out where they are coming from. This would be a good time to patch the roof since there is no rain in the forecast, but it is way too hot. I tried to take a nap with Dawn, but she didn't want to share the bed and went off to her dog bed in the kitchen. It's too bad I don't enjoy watching television. It was kind of a television watching afternoon.

I'm really disappointed that Florida has become a virus hotspot again. The Boeing Starliner launch is next week and NASA recently sent out invitations to apply for credentials to view an upcoming ISS resupply mission in late August. Things are happening, but I'm just not involved. I feel like I'm losing touch with the space community, but I still don't feel any burning desire to return to Kennedy Space Center right now. I don't think I could turn any of this summer's launches into an interesting story for Spaceflight magazine anyway, and I don't want to press my luck by traveling into a virus hotspot.

I've got to find something interesting to do in Dallas, or I'm just going to be mowing the grass and fretting about Dawn's paws. I could make a long list of things I don't want to do, but the list of things that interest me is getting pretty small. I really wonder if I'm going to make it until Day 5000. I may just wake up one morning and realize that this quest is silly and pointless.

When I wake up tomorrow I'll be thinking about Dawn's Sunday outing. Janet and I both enjoy this little trip because it makes Dawn happy. If a walk in a different park and an ice cream cone can make Dawn happy, I guess it's good enough for me as well

Molly is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, July 23, 2021

Day 4229

I got a message from Patrick Air Force Base today saying that due to the increased threat from Covid, new protocols would be going into effect immediately. In a long list of new restrictions, one thing stood out to me: no more on base launch viewing. What a shame that things are going backwards. I was hoping to resume attending launches soon. I wouldn't be terribly surprised to hear that McDonald Observatory is reconsidering its plan to resume pre-Covid operations in September. Very little surprises me anymore. I'm beginning to think that this virus might be with us forever. People overestimate their ability to control things. Do you really think we can stop floods, wildfires, and deadly new diseases? We can't even control overpopulation which is causing many of these problems in the first place.

There is no point in being gloomy though. Dawn had a good day and I actually got quite a bit done. Maybe Dawn didn't lick her paws because she wasn't left alone today. I made sure to wait until Janet returned from grocery shopping before I went to the gym. We had a nice sunrise walk and are continuing to explore new locations in the park. Dawn seems curious and increasingly confident. When it was time for me to take her outside to pee around lunchtime, I didn't even need to put her on a leash. I just told her it was time to go pee and she followed me out to the back door. This may seem like a small thing, but it's been months since she has followed me on her own. Maybe Dawn is starting to like me.

I think the camera case foam inserts I ordered over a month ago are finally on their way. I thought I was dealing with a large organization, but apparently the company is just a single guy who cuts the foam to order. He wrote me today saying that he'd been sick lately and was way behind on orders. I was promised that my order would be in the mail tonight. I kind of feel bad now that I've been pestering this guy. Keeping a small business alive is never easy and I imagine that there isn't a lot of demand to refurbish old camera cases.

When I went to the gym this afternoon I was surprised to discover that half of the treadmills weren't working. I usually use the same treadmill, so I've never really paid much attention to all the others. Today someone else was using my regular treadmill, so I was going to use one of the many others on the floor. It took quite a while to find one that would work. What happened to the repairman who used to regularly service these machines. I used to see him frequently at the gym. Did the guy get Covid? Did he retire? People who make or fix things are in short supply these days. One by one, many of the craftsmen and repair people I used to depend on have simply disappeared.

I paid a bunch of July bills today and continue to be amazed at how much more expensive everything is getting. Inflation is real. Utility bills are higher. Insurance is higher. Not only are prices going up in stores, quantities are getting smaller. I've been using those blue Scott shop towels for years and the price has literally doubled. To add insult to injury, I noticed last week that the size of the rolls is smaller and they decreased the size of each sheet to maintain the same sheet count per roll. Who do these guys think they're fooling? When we started buying wet food for Dawn, we've noticed that many brands have smaller cans now. The cans were larger when we bought for Dot and Dash. The prices haven't come down though. The prices never come down.

It's time to make a grocery list again. I will have to buy some more party ice tomorrow because I still haven't gotten the ice maker in the refrigerator fixed. I haven't made a service appointment for my car either, or scheduled two upcoming doctor's appointments. I'd just as soon postpone everything this summer. The dentist did pin me down though. Got to go to the dentist next week.

Jewel is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Day 4228

We're back to square one. I left Dawn alone while I went to the gym today and she did some serious paw licking while I was gone. I thought her paws were really starting to improve, but now they're all red and raw again. I don't know what to do with her. I take the socks off when I leave the house now, because she has started to eat them. If we put a cone on her, she can still manage to reach her rear paws. Usually she just sleeps while I am gone, but today was pretty bad. She did so much licking that the comforter and sheets were all wet and had to go in the wash.

The paw licking wasn't the only bad news either. The vet called and told us that Dawn still has a bacterial infection. The antibiotics she was taking failed to clear it up. Now they are doing a culture of the bacteria to find out specifically what it is and then then we'll probably have to treat it with a different antibiotic. What happened to our gentle, low maintenance dog who just wants to sleep all day? At least she's not as fearful of me anymore. She doesn't run away when I'm fixing her dinner anymore. This probably has more to do with her new food than it does with me though. We've got a long road ahead of us. First, we've got to clear up her bacterial infection. Then we've got to go through a slow process of elimination to find out why she continues to lick her paws. Can dogs self harm like people do? So far, this seems like a reasonable explanation to me. We've taken her to the vet several times and haven't found anything medical that would explain the licking yet.

Dawn continues to explore new areas of the park on our sunrise walk. We didn't go as far as we did yesterday, but she still had a very nice walk, exploring an area where we haven't been in many months. It's disappointing that her paws looked so good while we were walking this morning. I really thought we'd turned a corner. Now we're starting over again. At least we know that it's possible for the paws to heal. We've just got to keep her from licking for two or three weeks.

While Dawn was making a mess of things at home, I was at the gym trying to undo the mess I'd made of my body during a lazy Covid year. I really wish I enjoyed this because it is much harder to build muscle mass as you grow older. I'm thinking now that I had a stomach ache yesterday because I've been working too hard on my core and abs. My stomach is sore and I'm beginning to think it has nothing to do with what I've been eating. I did some different exercises today. We'll see if that helps.

It's a shame that Covid infections have become an issue again. Texas was doing so well for a while that I thought that we'd put the pandemic behind us. Now Florida has become a hotspot again. 20% of all the new cases in the entire country come from Florida. This isn't good for any near term launch viewing plans. I'm not even considering going to Florida until the state returns to normal. I sure hope they don't reinstate mask mandates in Texas. So far, our state seems to be doing pretty good. Unfortunately, anything that happens in other states can easily come here.

We need a bigger dryer. It's going to be hard to get all the bedding washed and dried again before it's time to go to bed. It takes a long time to dry a heavy bedspread. I've always wished we had one of those industrial sized washers and dryers that you often see at vet clinics and boarding facilities. If you have dogs, a regular washer and dryer just doesn't cut it. The sad thing is that as soon as I get everything back on the bed, Dawn will probably make a mess of things again as soon as we go to sleep.

At least it's Friday tomorrow. I've taken the trash out to the curb and watered the new grass. I ate a very light dinner tonight and so far no stomach ache or heartburn. I"m hoping for a very uneventful day tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Day 4227

Dawn walked two miles this morning. I was amazed. She was tired when we returned home, but this was her longest walk in many months. Something has changed. Dawn seems happier and more assertive now. I don't know if we'll ever discover what caused her to freeze in place and become reluctant to leave the house. It's nice to see her become more confident though. We were probably walking her too far in the beginning. She's an older dog and tires easily. It seems to work pretty well if we just let Dawn choose what to do. She seems to know her limits.

Today was totally uneventful. It was too hot to take a walk in the park, so I puttered around the house for a while and then went to the gym. I need to think of something to do that doesn't involve planning a trip to Florida or West Texas. I probably need to start working again, but the thought of finding clients seems daunting. Things change quickly and I've lost most of my old contacts. I don't think I could work for anyone else either. I've gone way too long without having a boss or a supervisor. Oh, well. So much for working. Probably all I need are a few good books.

I find it strange that there is so much animosity toward Jeff Bezos. There seemed to be a lot of criticism of his rocket on the morning shows today. The same people who find pleasure in hating Bezos always seem to have Amazon boxes on their front porch. I think it's great that Bezos, Branson, and Musk want to go to space. People forget that during the early days of aviation only rich people could afford to fly. The same has been true for most new innovations. Even color televisions were out of reach for many when I was a kid. Hey, somebody has to be first. Say what you will about Zuckerberg, but you are probably on Facebook right now. People like Bezos and Zuckerberg are rich because you want what they have to offer. It seems so hypocritical to badmouth successful tech titans while you are constantly glued to your cell phone, ordering stuff you don't really need online. At any rate, I hope Bezos succeeds with his dream of moving heavy industry off the planet and Musk is able to establish a colony on Mars. We need a lot more people with outlandish big dreams and a lot fewer substance abusers living in tents on city streets.

I can't figure out how my gym stays in business. There are usually only about twelve people on the floor and it's always the same people. I can't believe that the gym is usually crowded and I just happen to pick the times when it is empty. I'm certainly not complaining. I like the fact that most of the machines are always open and there's never a wait for anything. I did my usual routine today and then came home. I actually think I get more exercise walking in the park, but the gym is a nice change of pace. It certainly beats going outside on a hot, humid day.

Maybe I'm imagining things, but I think Dawn's paws are starting to get better. They don't look as red anymore. We try to keep the socks on her while she's sleeping or around the house. She can get the socks off if she really tries, but there aren't as many opportunities to lick or bite at herself anymore. I think the antibiotics she was taking for her urinary tract infection helped too. I hope we can clear this up. I doesn't really matter if the licking is a behavioral or a medical issue. We need to discover the cause and get her back to normal.

I have a stomach ache tonight. This is weird because I ate exactly the same thing for dinner as I did on Monday. I guess life is full of unexplained mysteries. Luckily, like a stomach ache, most of the mysteries don't matter and you forget about them the next day.