Monday, January 30, 2023

Day 4785

The weather was dismal today. The temperature never got above freezing and the sleet that everyone had been predicting has finally arrived. I think it's going to be like this for the rest of the week. This is definitely not my favorite type of weather, but there's not much I can do about it.

I shouldn't complain though. The furnace is working well and the house is warm. Although it is currently sleeting outside, the volume of water falling from the sky is much less than a heavy rain. Maybe the roof won't leak. I didn't drive anywhere today because I didn't want to encounter icy roads, but the weather didn't stop me from walking.

I wasn't the only one who wore two coats today. Even Dawn wore two coats on her early walk. It was still dry outside this morning, but it was very cold. We were all glad to return home to a warm house. After breakfast I went out walking again. I wasn't ready to give up on getting my daily steps. I dressed very warmly, but this was one of the coldest walks I've taken in over a year. At about mile three I was beginning to question my sanity. I probably should have gone to the gym instead because the sleet and freezing rain didn't start until after dinner this evening. There certainly weren't many people on the trails today. I only encountered two other people on my walk.

The rest of the day was uneventful. I tried to make a doctor's appointment, but never could reach anyone. After a long wait on the phone, I was just told to leave a message on voicemail. I ended up making the appointment using the clinic website. I don't think anyone picks up their phone anymore.

This afternoon I filled out my 2023 credential application with the 45th Space Wing. This should have taken about ten minutes but ended up taking hours because the PDF document the Space Force sent me was formatted wrong and it was almost impossible to enter my information. I should have just printed out the blank form and entered the information by hand. Eventually I finished the form and sent it back. The information on this year's form was exactly the same as it was last year. Nothing had changed. Even though I wasted a lot of time, it was worth the effort. There are always a few launches where the Space Force provides much better access than NASA. You can't have too many credentials if you want to chase rockets.

I don't think we'll be going anywhere tomorrow. If the sleet continues, there's a good chance that the roads will be icy. We'll still probably take a morning walk with Dawn unless the weather is really bad. I'll reserve judgement on walking further. I like getting my steps, but I'm not fond of falling on my ass. If it's slippery outside in the morning, we all may just stay in the house all day. Dawn is not fond of nasty weather. I think she'd rather stay under a blanket on the bed.

Malcolm is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Day 4784

The weather was strange today. When we took our early walk with Dawn this morning the temperature was in the high 50's. That was as high as it got and it continued to get colder for the rest of the day. It's already down to freezing and will probably get even colder overnight. I'm not looking forward to next week at all. The forecast says we are going to have freezing rain and icy roads for most of the week.

Today was mostly walking and football. I woke up with an upset stomach so I just had shredded wheat instead of our normal big weekend breakfast. After breakfast I went to the mall and walked several miles indoors. I enjoy mall walking at Northpark. The temperature is perfect. The air is clean and filtered. There's plenty to see as well. Looking at the window displays in all the stores is much more pleasant than fighting a cold lakeside wind while wondering why I didn't dress warmer. There are a few weeks in the spring and fall when the weather is actually nice. The rest of the time it is either too hot or too cold outside.

There are always several new stores that just opened when I go to the mall. Things always seem to be changing. Today, even the indoor duck pond was closed for some type of refurbishment. I wonder where they are keeping the ducks and turtles while all this construction is going on. When I returned home Dawn and Janet were ready to go on their Sunday outing. This was definitely the coldest walk of the day, but we made it. We walked faster than usual in an attempt to stay warm, but we were all glad to return to the car. It seemed kind of strange to get ice cream on such a cold day, but Dawn loves her ice cream cones. Personally I could have used a cup of hot chocolate.

It was definitely an afternoon to stay inside so I ended up watching both NFL playoff games. The Bengals and Chiefs game was the more interesting game. It was a close contest right down to the final seconds. The Eagles ran all over the 49ers. It was pretty clear that the Eagles were going to win this game early on. Dawn wanted the bed to herself and wasn't happy with me watching the Eagles game. Later, when Janet came home Dawn was much more interested in the cooking that was going on in the kitchen, so I had the bedroom to myself. I don't often spend the afternoon watching football but the Bengals and Chiefs game was definitely worth watching. 

The house feels cold even though the temperature inside is the same as it's always been. I've had to bring out the little ceramic space heater and put it under my desk. No shorts today either. I'm wearing heavy pants and a sweater. I'm not sure what to expect with the roof next week. We haven't had sustained freezing rain for quite a while. If memory serves, sometimes the leaks are worse when heat from inside the house melts the bottom layer of ice on the roof. We'll just have to see what happens. There's not much I can do about the weather.

I might not be able to get my steps next week. That would be a shame. It's probably going to be too cold and wet to walk in the park and too icy on the roads to drive to the gym or mall. I'll never get 10,000 steps pacing around the house. The house is just too little. Hopefully, we'll be able to give Dawn her morning walk before the rain and sleet starts.

Spirit is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Day 4783

It was a fairly typical Saturday. I did my grocery shopping and continued to be amazed at how expensive everything is getting. I did my walking and was equally amazed at how slow I'm getting. I'm still making an effort though. It seems important to keep moving.

There was a light mist in the air when we took Dawn on her early walk this morning. It never really turned into rain, but my jacket was wet by the time we returned home. Dawn was wet too. I think she would have preferred staying home. I wish everything would dry out. There are still leaves to rake and I don't want the roof leak to reappear. I was thinking of repairing the damaged areas with what remains of my five gallon bucket of Armorflex silicon coating, but the surface needs to be dry before you can apply this stuff. I'm not sure if I can manage to lift the bucket up to the roof either.

I couldn't find shredded wheat at the store today. Hopefully the shelves will be restocked before I run out completely. I have become such a creature of habit that I don't know what I'd do if I'm forced to eat something else for breakfast. At least I found everything else on my list. I was actually very close to the gym this morning, but I came home and walked in the park instead because I didn't want to leave the groceries in the car. I didn't want my week's supply of strawberries to go bad.

I'm beginning to think that the bald eagles have moved somewhere else. I haven't seen them for over a month and I'm out in the park every day. It still seems kind of ironic that the birds would disappear right after the city fenced off several acres of land near their nest. The eagles stay so high in the trees that I don't think they care what is happening on the ground anyway unless it is something they can eat.

No leaks today. The ceiling is stained again though. It's probably not worth bleaching the stains away with more rain on the way, but the task is back on my to-do list. I really need to get serious about hiring a roofing company to replace the roof. I find it very irritating that replacing a roof has become so expensive, but being mad isn't going to stop the leaks. I need to find someone who will give me a twenty year guarantee. In twenty years from now I'm probably not going to be around anyway.

I looked at some of the test pictures I took with the star tracker yesterday and finally discovered where panorama pictures were being saved when I hit the "save to local" button in the Benro app. I thought they were being sent to the camera, but apparently they are being saved on my iPhone instead. This is good to know if I ever get around to actually using the tracker. For now it is just something to test on a slow day.

Hopefully the weather will stay dry for Dawn's Sunday outing tomorrow. Rain or shine, I'll probably go mall walking as well. There will definitely be ice cream.

Molly is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, January 27, 2023

Day 4782

Another nice day. I wish this weather would continue but there is rain in the forecast for next week. I took advantage of the clear skies and took three walks today. It was cold enough on our sunrise walk with Dawn that I needed two coats. My long walk in the park later in the morning only required one coat. By mid-afternoon it had warmed enough that I wore shorts for a final shorter walk. That's Texas weather for you. Almost 22,000 steps today. Not bad for an old man with creaky joints.

I finally got around to updating the star tracker this afternoon. This update made everything worse. It's always a gamble with these firmware updates. The company is trying to provide compatibility for so many different brands of cameras that when they make an improvement for one brand they often inadvertently cripple something for another brand. I think the tracker works best with Canon cameras. The Olympus I use is not a popular brand and sometimes gets overlooked. The tracker basically still works fine, but my camera wouldn't stay connected today. I have no idea what the problem is. I eventually got everything working, but I don't have a lot of faith in this unit. I think it would be a giant hassle to get everything working properly in the dark.

I really thought the leaks were over after I cleared all the water off the roof yesterday. Much to my surprise another small leak appeared today. Will this ever end? Only about one drop of water fell per minute, but it was still a leak. Probably a lot of water got underneath the surface of the roof before I removed all the standing water. That water's got to go somewhere. I suspect that when everything dries completely the next round of rain will start. I really can't catch a break with this roof.

I got a letter saying that it was time for my annual appointment with my gastrointestinal doctor. When did this start? I think that if you see a doctor once, you will end up seeing them forever. Just about every time I've been referred to a specialist by my primary care physician, I end up becoming a permanent patient. I hate to ignore these doctors, since you never know when you will need them again. I do think I have way too many doctors now though.

It's time to renew my credentials with the Space Force. Unlike NASA credentials, these last for a full year. Since there are launch pads at Patrick Air Force Base as well as Kennedy Space Center, you really need to be able to access both locations. Most people think the space center is one big location, but the NASA side and the Air Force side are two separate entities. It's totally different watching a launch on the Air Force side, but the view is still good. I'll try to send in the renewal forms tomorrow and then I'll wonder for months if they got lost. I always seem to get credentialed, but it really seems to take a while.

This week has gone quickly. It's already time to make a grocery list again. Sometimes it seems like I spend my life repeating the same things over and over again. No wonder Dawn always seems to know what is going to happen next. We are very predictable around here.

Sophie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Day 4781

I really thought the leaks had finally stopped when I woke up this morning. Not so fast. Around mid-morning when I was checking my e-mail, I heard the sound of dripping water again in the office. Luckily I was home at the time. I placed a bucket under the new leak and realized that I was going to have to go up on the roof and remove the remaining standing water. Damn. There is typically a lot of standing water that the pumps can't remove after a heavy rain. If I did nothing, these leaks might continue for weeks.

I don't use a ladder to get up on the roof. There is a decorative brick wall in the front of the house with protruding bricks that provide a toehold that allows me to climb to the carport. From there it is easy to access the rest of the roof. The whole process is kind of like urban rock climbing. When I was younger it was a piece of cake to climb up on the roof. Now, not so much. With bad knees, a dislocated shoulder, and deteriorating upper body strength the short climb is a bit daunting. I made it up today, but I really need to avoid making this a habit.

The roof was a mess. One of the pumps had clogged and I found several tears in the elastomer coating that seals everything. After surveying the damage, I wasn't surprised that the roof was leaking. I swept all the standing water over the edge of the roof with the big push broom that stays up there permanently. This stopped the leaks inside the house, but the bad news is that there is more rain on the horizon. If I was a rich man I would just walk away from this house. It has become an evil entity that mocks me.

Aside from dealing with the troublesome leaks, it was a fairly normal day. It was warmer than yesterday, so walking was a bit more pleasant. We slept in a bit later this morning so we didn't need flashlights when we took our early walk with Dawn. The ground was surprisingly dry, considering what I was dealing with at the house. Dawn had a nice walk and I had a nice breakfast after we returned home. 

I waited until it warmed up a bit before taking my long walk in the park. It was still a little chilly when I left the house, but it was a beautiful day. Walking is still a great way to kill time. I probably got more exercise clearing the water off the roof, but walking was a lot more fun. As an added bonus, I didn't have a lot of foot pain today.

Against my better judgement, I ended up applying for the Crew 6 NASA Social today. I probably won't get accepted, since I have already been to several of these events in the past. It's hard to pass up an opportunity to return to Kennedy Space Center though. These periodic social media events often provide better access to normally off limits parts of the space center than a regular press pass, so if I do manage to get accepted it will be an interesting trip. I attended the Crew 1 launch, as well as the private Inspiration 4 and Axiom 1 missions. These crewed missions are never routine and are always exciting. Wish me luck. We'll see if I get accepted.

This week has gone quickly. I actually forgot is was Thursday until Janet told me it was time to take the trash out to the curb. I'm glad the leaks have stopped but I'm not looking forward to next week at all. Right now the forecast is showing a strong probability of rain for the entire week.

Jazz is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Day 4780

The rain has stopped. Unfortunately, the roof is still leaking. I could probably put a stop to this if I went up on the roof and swept all the standing water away. I'm really trying to avoid climbing on the roof though. My balance isn't as good as it used to be and I'd hate to fall off. Heavy rain in the winter is the worst because it never evaporates. Hopefully, the leak will stop tomorrow. The buckets are filling slower now, so at least we're making progress.

It was cold enough on our morning walk with Dawn that I seriously considered going back to the gym. Dawn wore her sweater and it was definitely a two coat day for me. Dawn still enjoyed smelling things but I think she was glad when we returned to the house. I'm already tired of winter and it's barely even started.  We have at least three more months of cold weather before I can start to think about Spring.

I ate my breakfast slowly and did some small chores around the house in hopes that it would warm up outside if I waited long enough. It never did. In fact, I think it got colder as the day progressed. I still needed to get my steps though, so I dressed warmly and headed out on my daily long walk. The walk might have been a mistake, but I made it. There are a lot fewer people in the park on cold days. I saw very few bicycles and joggers today. I didn't even see many ducks. I still see people walking their dogs though. Dogs need to poop and pee in all types of weather.

My feet still hurt on these long walks. Sometimes the pain goes away after a while, but other times it gets worse. I think I've just reached the age where everything hurts. My shoulder hurts when I attempt to raise my arms above my head. My knees hurt when I bend them. Even my wrists and fingers hurt. None of this is really debilitating. It's more of an irritation than anything. I remember the days when nothing hurt.

I still can't decide whether to apply for the Crew-6 NASA Social. One of the cardinal rules for these things is never apply unless you really plan to go. They don't like it if you cancel after you have been accepted. Crewed launches are always interesting, but if I go to this one, it means one future launch I won't be able to attend. My budget is a bit limited this year. I just can't afford to be going down to Florida every month.

Janet and I decided not to visit the rescue dogs this week. It was too cold and damp to play with them outside and it's still unclear if there is an available indoor space we can use. We'll try to go up next week. It's too bad that the old kennel went out of business. It was just about perfect. Hopefully, the dogs will like this new place. It seems clean and well managed. It's just a long way away for Janet and I.

There's new software available for the star tracker and I had plans of testing it again today. The day got away from me though and when I finished everything else, it was too close to dinner to mess around with new software. I have no faith in the Benro people. Sometimes their software and firmware updates make thing better and other times they make things worse. I'm always apprehensive about starting the tracker up after I've installed new software.

Dawn didn't go to training class tonight. It was too cold and damp for her to be outside that long. The days are getting longer though. Maybe next week will be better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Day 4779

What a dismal day. It was cold and raining when we woke up. It rained all day and it hasn't stopped yet. Needless to say, Dawn didn't get her sunrise walk. She didn't even want to go outside. I immediately started the pumps on the roof and prepared myself for the worst. At first I thought I was going to get lucky, but I set the buckets out anyway. I managed to finish breakfast before I started hearing the all too familiar sound of dripping water. The big leak today was located in the office, but I see some staining in the kitchen above Dawn's water bowl. I'm afraid there will be more leaks before this rain ends.

There wasn't much I could do today. I checked the weather radar frequently, but the storm was huge and covered much of Texas. It could have been worse I guess. At least we weren't getting snow like they are are in the panhandle or tornado warnings like they were in Houston. The roof blew off the animal shelter in Pasadena, Texas and all the dogs were left exposed to the weather. Hopefully things will be better tomorrow. I think the rain is supposed to end by midnight.

It was pretty clear that I wasn't going to get 20,000 steps today. A walk in the park was out of the question, so I reluctantly got in the car and went to the gym. You can tell I've become obsessed with getting my steps because I definitely do not like driving in the rain. I'm always glad for heated seats and a heated steering wheel on a cold day like this. I need new wiper blades though.

The gym was crowded today. I guess a lot of people had the same idea I had. I walked three miles around the indoor track to get my minimum 10,000 steps for the day and close all three rings on my Apple watch. At least I kept up a decent pace today. Usually I'm slow on the indoor track. I had planned to work on my upper body strength while I was at the gym, but after finishing my three mile walk I felt like I'd had enough. I did use the leg press for a bit, but didn't even bother shooting baskets. Rain really puts a damper on my mood.

There's going to be a NASA Social for the Crew 6 launch at the end of February and I can't decide whether to apply. NASA discontinued these events for social media influencers during the Covid years, but they are slowly starting to return. I've been to a few of these and sometimes they provide even better access than press credentials. Since I can't afford that many trips to Florida this year, I'll have to look at the 2023 launch schedule and see if there are more interesting things in the future. I'll think about it. I'm not even sure my application would be approved since NASA tends to favor newcomers now. I've already been to five of these NASA Socials.

I'm getting tired of listening to the roof leak drip. The leak isn't far from my desk and it's a constant reminder that the house needs a new roof. I still haven't decided on a roofing contractor. I have gotten several bids, but all have left something to be desired. Why is a flat roof so expensive. I may get one or two more bids, but I really have to do something this year. Old houses and flat roofs aren't a good combination.

We probably will wait another week before visiting the rescue Dalmatians at their new kennel. The kennel said that Wednesday was the best day to visit. but it doesn't look like tomorrow is going to be a good day. I think we will be playing with the dogs outside and ir would be better to wait until the weather was warmer and the ground was dry.

I don't have big expectations for tomorrow. I just hope the roof stops leaking.

Holly is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, January 23, 2023

Day 4778

I'm getting apprehensive about the weather again. We're supposed to get a lot of rain and possibly even snow tomorrow. This means that the roof will inevitably start leaking and I'll be back to square one with my cleanup efforts. To say that I'm getting tired of this would be an understatement. At this point I just hope the forecast is wrong. It often is.

Today was a another day of long walks and paying bills. I extended my 20,000 step streak to six days. I think that's a record for me. It's going to be hard to make it a full week though if it rains tomorrow. We'll see what happens. I hate the thought of driving to the gym in the rain tomorrow, but I can't just sit around the house all day. Walking brings a necessary structure to my life. I need to keep walking.

It's time to start working on my taxes again. I had a talk with my accountant today about whether it was time to stop filing as a business. Am I retired or not? I'm certainly busy enough. I still build and maintain animal rescue websites and I regularly write for SpaceFlight Magazine. The British magazine even calls me their U.S. Correspondent now. The only problem is that I'm not making any money. I think a business has to make money at least two years out of five. I need to find a gig with a magazine that actually pays for content. Easier said than done though. Especially when all you want to write about is astronomy and space. The magazine industry is not very healthy. I used to receive a ton of trade magazines at the house. Most of them are out of business now.

All the extra walking I'm doing is killing my feet. I probably need to retire my current pair of Hoka shoes and break out a new pair. I have one fairly new pair of Bondi 7 shoes that I just use when I travel and a brand new pair that I got just before they discontinued this style. My current shoes still feel comfortable but I'm sure they are not providing the support I need. The soles and heal areas are completely worn out. It's too bad that sneakers don't last like boots. I've got twenty year old hiking boots that are in better shape than my two year old Hokas.

Tonight there was a conjunction of Venus and Saturn right after sunset that astronomer friends said was a must see event. It's not happening. It was clear for most of the day, but clouds have rolled in and the skies are overcast now. This is probably the beginning of the bad weather that is supposed to start later tonight. There is also a green comet in the northern skies that people are talking about. I'll probably never find this. I had trouble finding Neowise a few years ago and it was much brighter. Lately my only connection with astronomy is testing the Benro Polaris star tracker every time a new firmware update comes out.

We were thinking about visiting the rescue Dalmatians this Wednesday but we'll wait and see what the weather is like. It's a long drive to this new kennel and it looks like we'll be playing with them outdoors instead of indoors like we did at the old kennel. Weather and rain will be an issue. I have a feeling that we won't end up visiting every week like we used to. We'll figure out something though. Janet and I still think socializing the dogs is important.

There's nothing on the agenda for tomorrow. I'll probably spend most of the day fretting about roof leaks.

Chloe is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day