Friday, November 26, 2021

Day 4355

It's beginning to feel a lot like Winter. The temperature was 36 degrees when I woke up this morning. I'm glad I brought the lawnmower battery inside yesterday. Freezing temperatures destroys these batteries. Dawn enjoyed the chilly temperatures on her sunrise walk, but I wasn't happy with the thought that this type of weather will probably be with us until next March. I had to wear long underwear and a sweater under my jacket on today's walk. It's a lot easier to get dressed when I can just throw on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts.

It was a little warmer when I took my long walk after breakfast, but it was still pretty chilly. The park seemed empty this morning. Only the serious joggers and cyclists were out today. The colder the weather, the fewer people I see. Very few people are as consistent as I am. I know these people by sight now. We usually wave or say "Hi" as we pass each other. There is one cyclist I call the Hello Man who shouts out hello to every single person he passes. You can hear him coming from a long way away.

The big event of the day was that I was able to take Dawn on a walk by myself today. It definitely wasn't a long walk, but this was real progress. As recently as several months ago, Dawn would have been terrified to leave the yard without Janet at her side. Dawn is fine with me walking her as long as Janet is nearby. When I'm alone with her it's a totally different story. It's been a long, slow process to get Dawn to trust me.  We're definitely not there yet, but today's little walk was definitely progress. It probably helped that she had to pee. As soon as Dawn finished her business she immediately wanted to return to the house again.

I had a 20,000 step day today. That's pretty good, considering how cold it was. We've added a late afternoon walk with Dawn to our daily routine. Dawn seems to like the activity and she can certainly use the exercise. With three walks a day now, I don't have time for a lot else. That's fine by me. I usually manage to complete one little fix-it chore around the house during the day and that's about it. Today's task was clearing the leaves off the front and back porch and doing a load of laundry.

Today was Black Friday and I didn't buy a thing. I don't even think Black Friday is a big deal anymore. You don't hear about long lines waiting to get in Walmart or Best Buy these days. I got a lot of e-mail about Black Friday bargains, but the prices all seemed pretty normal to me. Since everything seems to be constantly on sale these days, having a special day just for sales is essentially meaningless.

I forgot what day it was again today. Having a holiday on Thursday is confusing. Almost all the major holidays have been moved to Friday or Monday so people can take a three day weekend. Christmas and New Years move around but they actually are on the weekend this year. Easter is always on a Sunday. I guess there is some justification for being confused by Thursday holidays. The only other explanation is that I've become a forgetful old man.

It's time to make a grocery list again. I wonder how much prices have gone up this week? Inflation is definitely real and I don't think it is going away soon. I read an article the other day that said that when governments gave away money like they did during Covid, inflation is the economy's way of reclaiming it. Makes sense to me. There is no free lunch in this world. Eventually you pay for everything.

Pepper is today's Dalmatian of the Day


Watch of the Day


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Day 4354 - Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I wish all days were this relaxed. We got up late and had a nice early walk with Dawn. I ate a light breakfast and then went out walking again. It was chilly outside, but I kept up a good pace with seemingly little effort. I completed my walk with the best time I've had in over a month. There were a lot of families in the park this morning. I think it is a tradition in some families to take a Thanksgiving walk before sitting down to a huge meal.

When I got home there was a message from the Kickstarter project I backed many months ago. The project is finally finished and getting ready to ship. I think this project was supposed to ship in June, but there are always delays with Kickstarter projects. Today's message was actually a request for more money. Evidently shipping rates from Asia have gone up dramatically since the project started and the amount I had already paid was no longer enough. The project I backed was an advanced computerized star tracker that many amateur astronomers thought couldn't possibly work. I'll be curious to see if it does.

Janet and I both wondered whether there would be many people at our Thanksgiving brunch. This was the first full scale buffet we've heard about since Covid began and it could have easily gone either way. Would the fear of big platters of commonly shared food keep people away, or would pent up demand for a delicious all you can eat meal pack the place? When we arrived, it was obvious that pent up demand won. The Mercury had doubled in size since the last time we'd dined there and the place was packed. There were hundreds of people enjoying their Thanksgiving feast and not a mask in sight. It's pretty clear that Dallas has decided Covid is over.

The restaurant was extremely efficient. They must have hired a ton of extra help for this event. Even though there were lots of people, nothing seemed rushed or hurried. There was always a waiter nearby to refill our drinks and the buffet tables were constantly being replenished with fresh food. We usally make three trips to the buffet tables. First for a plate of salads, sushi and hors d'oeuvres. Next comes the main meal. I'm not a big fan of turkey and dressing, but I love prime rib. Finally, even though we are stuffed at this point, we go back a third time for dessert. I'm glad the Thanksgiving buffet is back. We missed this once a year extravagance last year.

Years ago we would always go up and feed the rescue dogs after our Thanksgiving dinner. We cooked each of them a fresh chicken breast and they loved it. After their dinner, we took the dogs on a walk. We no longer do this anymore. A lot of things have changed over the years. We used to have up to seventeen dogs at a time. Now we have three. We used to have keys to the facility too, so we could come and go as we pleased. The new kennel is a lot cleaner and the dogs get treated extremely well. There are times when I miss the old days though. I still remember all the names of the dogs we helped take care of in the early 2000's. Today it's all a blur. I can't remember any of the dogs from 2019.

We were stuffed when we returned from the restaurant, so we decided if there weren't any kennel dogs to walk, we'd walk Dawn instead. Dawn needs to lose a little weight, so we're trying to walk her two times a day now. It's too bad she won't go along with me on my long walks. She'd get plenty of exercise then.

I seldom watch football, but today's Cowboys game was really good. I thought the Cowboys were going to win, but in the end there were just too many penalties and errors. 28 penalties is a lot. Anthony Brown racked up four pass interference penalties all by himself, including the one that lost the game. Oh, well. It was still a good game.

I almost forgot to take the trash out to the curb tonight. It felt like Thanksgiving, but it didn't really feel like Thursday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Day 4353

I called the restaurant today to confirm our Thanksgiving reservations for tomorrow. I didn't really need to do this, but I don't trust my own memory anymore. I am always checking things that I've already checked. I check the stove several times a day to make sure it is turned off. I check the door locks multiple times before I go to bed. I'm always checking the locks on the gates in the back yard. I don't think Dawn would ever run away, but you never know. Uncertainty makes me nervous and life is full of uncertainties. It's a dilemma.

Today was pretty much a repeat of yesterday. It was cold when we got up, but warmed up quickly. Dawn is back to her short one mile loop. We tried to tempt her with other options today, but she wasn't interested. I started a new box of shredded wheat this morning. The only significance of this is that I won't have any crumbs in my cereal for a few days. I felt good on my long walk today. My pace was good and there was very little foot pain. I wonder where the eagles are? I haven't heard of any reported sightings recently and I certainly haven't seen the birds myself. I keep looking though. It gives me something to do while I'm walking.

I wrote some letters to friends today asking for contractor suggestions. I'm still so old school that it feels more natural to ask a friend for suggestions than to use an app to find suppliers. Almost everyone who has ever worked on the house has resulted from a friend's referral. Most of these suggestions have been good ones. Maybe I'll use The Good Contractor's List or Angie one of these days, but I'm not quite ready yet.

I am ready to return to Kennedy Space Center, so I wrote another letter to a NASA contact asking how to apply for long term credentials. Right now I always apply for daily or short term credentials when I want to attend a launch, so it can be difficult for me to assure the magazine I write for that I'll be able to cover a story they might be interested in. Sometimes I get accepted and other times I don't. If I could manage to get yearly credentials, life would be a lot easier for me.

I'm starting to see a lot of for sale signs in the neighborhood. Are people becoming more transient, or are they just trying to take advantage of today's high real estate values? When we first moved here, all our neighbors had lived here forever. They never moved, but they eventually all died. I miss these people because they represented a world that has largely disappeared. Janet and I are old enough now that we get brochures from retirement communities. I don't think we'll ever move though. It's just too much trouble.

Every Wednesday evening Dawn has training class. I used to go to these classes when we had Dot and Dash. With only one dog to train now, only Janet goes. I'm always happy to hear that Dawn is starting to do better in class. She isn't as scared anymore. You have to be patient with Dawn, but he is starting to relax. Maybe she's finally starting to realize that her old life is over and this new life she's got now isn't so bad. 

Maggie is today's Dalmatian of the Day


Watch of the Day


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Day 4352

Very little happened today. I got up when I heard Dawn barking in the back yard. Dawn and Janet always get up earlier than me. I got dressed and we went on our sunrise walk. The weather was crisp and cool but Dawn wasn't interested in walking very far. Before eating breakfast I changed the sheets and began a load of laundry. All the bed coverings got cleaned today and Dawn spent the day sleeping on an old worn out blanket I've had since my days in Seattle. There were several holes in the blanket, but I can't remember which dog chewed them. Eventually, everything was cleaned and dried and I put the bed back together while Janet and Dawn were eating lunch. Making the bed seems complicated now. There are all these layers and lots of pillows. Was it always this way? It seems like changing the bed used to be much easier, but everything is easier when you are younger. A word of advice. Don't get a low platform bed if you have bad knees.

I read an article today that the city wants to pass an ordinance that bans loud leaf blowers. Seems like a weird thing for the city to be spending their time on, but I'm in favor of this one. When I take my long walk in the morning all I hear is the sound of leaf blowers. Some of the yard crews bag the leaves and take them away, but mostly they just blow them in the street and the wind immediately blows them back in the yard. What is the point of all this? Nobody blows the leaves away in the park, but by Spring they are always gone. 

My new Fitbit still doesn't count steps the same way as my Apple Watch. At the end of the day there is quite a difference in the step count. I don't know why this bothers me, but clearly one of these devices is wrong. After many years of wearing a tracker, I still don't know which device is right. Maybe they are both wrong. The new Fitbit adds quite a bit of new information, but as you might expect, most of it is useless. I pride myself on not being addicted to my phone, however I'm the weird one with a different tracker on each wrist.

I'm amused at all the birders I see out in the park lately. They usually have huge telephoto lenses that I don't know how they can hold steady without a tripod. There are always a lot more nature photographers on bright sunny days. Don't these guys realize that this is when the light is at its worst. An overcast day without any hard shadows usually leads to much more pleasing pictures. At least these folks are taking pictures though. My cameras are still sitting in a bag at the house. If I didn't have a phone in my pocket I wouldn't be taking any pictures at all.

The phone in my pocket has a new case again. I bought the case about three months ago but never got around to using it. Finally my old case broke and I realized that I already had a spare. When I bought this thing I wondered why it was more expensive. It was exactly the same as the other two Lunatik cases I've used in the past. Turns out that this case wasn't the same. This one was made of metal. I'm glad they finally thought of this. Maybe this one will last a little longer than the other two.

On slow days like this I sometimes think about filling a few paragraphs with political or social commentary. I really try to avoid this. Everybody's got an opinion these days, but very few have the facts. I don't even know how you find facts anymore. It seems like we live in a world with multiple realities. When I'm channel surfing cable news while eating breakfast I realize that there are just a bunch of competing narratives out there trying to convince you that your own preconceived conclusions are right. Are any of these narratives even close to the truth? I doubt it.

Petey is today's Dalmatian of the Day


Watch of the Day


Monday, November 22, 2021

Day 4351

It appears that people have forgotten about John Kennedy. November 22 used to get a lot of news coverage, especially locally. Tons of people used to converge on Dealey Plaza on this day, either to pay their respects to Kennedy or to trade the latest conspiracy theories. Back when I first moved here, I visited Dealey Plaza several times on November 22. I haven't been down there in years, but at the time it seemed like an interesting event to photograph. There were still a lot of old timers who had actually been there on that fateful day. Some of them had little booths selling pamphlets claiming to tell you what really happened. There was always a lot of talk about the Grassy Knoll and the mysterious second gunman. I imagine that most of these people are dead now. I also imagine that there weren't nearly as many people at Dealey Plaza today. A new generation of conspiracy theorists have bigger fish to fry these days.

We didn't visit the Dalmatians today. The holiday week has already started for many and that means a lot more people are boarding their dogs while they travel to visit relatives for Thanksgiving. The room where we typically play with the dogs is transformed into additional boarding space during the holidays and we would just get in the way. We'll be back as soon as things quiet down a bit. We'll be visiting the kennel a lot during the holidays anyway. It's also the location of our Santa Paws Christmas photo events.

With the Santa Paws events in mind, I went to REI today and got a trekking pole. Trekking poles are just a fancy high tech version of a cane. Usually they are collapsible so they will fit in a backpack when you aren't using them. I thought one of these poles in the collapsed position would be perfect for helping me get off the floor when I'm down on my knees photographing small dogs. We'll see how this works. It may turn out to be another stupid idea.

While I was at REI I saw a Fitfit on sale and got that as well. So much for yesterday's post bragging about no longer having a desire to buy things. Oh, well. I did need the Fitbit though. I'm hooked on tracking my activity and my old Fitbit is ready to give up the ghost. The battery is just about gone and I have to charge it every day now. One disappointing thing about the new Fitbit is that it expects me to be even more active than the old one. Give me a break. I move slow. I don't think I'll ever get my heart rate up to 180 BPM.

Today was another nice day, but it is very hard to dress for this type of weather. Typically it is quite chilly when we take Dawn on her sunrise walk. I always wear a ski jacket and a wool hat for this walk. It warms up quickly after the sun comes up, so I only need a very light jacket on my long walk. Usually after I've completed a few miles, I get hot and have to take the jacket off and tie it around my waist. It was easier to dress in the summer when I just wore a t-shirt and shorts, but of course then I was always hot.

I'm looking forward to going out for dinner on Thanksgiving. Covid put an end to the extravagant buffet/brunches that some restaurants and hotels served on Thanksgiving. We were actually surprised to find that a few places that have have resumed the tradition this season. It's about time. We've been to this place before but it's been a while. Hopefully the food is still good.

I keep hoping that Dawn will bond with me soon. Janet is going on a cruise with her relatives in about six months. Dawn and I need to be best buddies by then. We've still got a ways to go.

Chelsey is today's Dalmatian of the Day


Watch of the Day


Sunday, November 21, 2021

Day 4350

Another Sunday with lots of walking. My feet held up fairly well today and my pace was back to normal. The weather seemed strange today. When we took Dawn on her sunrise walk it was warm and a little humid. It was still pretty warm when I took my long walk, but later in the day it suddenly became a lot colder. I've given up predicting the weather. Every day is a new day.

We discontinued Dawn's new meds. They actually seemed to be making Dawn worse instead of better. Janet and I both noticed strange changes in behavior that could only be explained by the new meds. I'm glad that Janet noticed the changes independently and was the first to want to discontinue the meds. I've tried to remain neutral since both Janet and the vet wanted to give the medicine a try. I've never been a fan of Prozac or any other anti-depressants. My Mom was manic/depressive and I've seen what these drugs can do. It's not good. You are playing with fire when you try to mess with the brain.

Dawn will never be completely normal, but she is back to her old self. I don't think any damage was done with the short trial of the drug. She was anxious in the car when we began our Sunday outing today, but quickly recovered when we arrived at our destination. She's always this way. Dawn doesn't like surprises and wants her life to be very predictable. I'm sure the drugs made her feel a little different and in her mind that was a big surprise that frightened her. I can appreciate this. For most of my life I've felt the same way. When I was in college in the 60's, I tried almost every mood altering substance you could eat, drink, or smoke. Once was enough for me. I hated being high. I don't like being out of control. LSD and Psilocybin were the worst, but I didn't even like weed. To this day I still think substance abuse is at the root of most of our nation's problems.

Every year about this time I'm inundated with ads for Black Friday bargains. This year for the first time I can remember, I have no desire to buy anything. I don't think I've reached the decluttering stage yet, but I've got all the stuff I need. Since I've always been somewhat of a gearhead, I can see how technology companies try to make you feel like what you are currently using is obsolete. There is this relentless desire to sell you new stuff because if you were happy with what you had, they wouldn't have a business. I think the fashion industry operates the same way. It's a shame that we are being programmed to desire cheap, disposable stuff that only lasts a few years, when what we really need are a few durable things that last a lifetime.

While we're on the subject of cheap, disposable stuff, I many need to get a new Fitbit soon. Why do they make these things with a battery that can't be replaced? When the battery wears out, you have to buy a whole new tracker. Would it have been that hard to design a tracker using a small flat easily replaceable watch battery for power? A lot of new technology is this way. It is not designed to be repaired, it is designed to be replaced.

While we were eating dinner this evening we heard the news about the Christmas parade in Wisconsin. What a shame. These kind of things keep happening over and over again. It's like humanity has become a bunch of wild, feral animals. Events that would have seemed impossible when I was a child are just considered normal now. It makes you wonder how low we can go? I don't think humans deserve this planet. We manage to screw up everything we touch.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day


Watch of the Day


Saturday, November 20, 2021

Day 4349

I keep hearing that the shelves are going to be empty this Christmas, but that doesn't seem to be the case around here. When I did my shopping this morning, the stores were full of Christmas stuff. Nobody seems to be waiting until after Thanksgiving anymore. Christmas tree lots are already up and running. Stores are full of gifts. Some of our neighbors have already put Christmas lights up.

I keep worrying that Dawn might be having an adverse reaction to the new meds she's taking. She seemed slower on her walk this morning. She spit out the cookie I always give her before I leave on my own long walk. She certainly doesn't seem any friendlier toward me. I guess the real test will be tomorrow when she rides in the car to go on her Sunday outing. It's hard to evaluate Dawn's mood anyway. To me, she is always acting weird. 

It didn't take long to get my shopping done today. There were no lines at the gas pump. The shelves were well stocked. And I didn't have a long list anyway. It did take a long time to complete my walk unfortunately. The weather was nice but my feet hurt again today. My pace was pretty slow today. Even old, overweight people were passing me on the trails.

I was wrong when I said we weren't going to get any Fall color this year. The trees are just turning a little later than usual. I saw lots of reds and yellows today. I didn't see the eagles unfortunately. I didn't even see the regular group of ducks and geese. I am seeing Kestrels again and the White Pelicans have started to become active. I like it when the animals are active. They keep my mind off the human side of the equation.

I wonder why there are so many for sale and for rent signs in the neighborhood. The population seems a lot more transient than it used to be. Janet and I seems to be the only people who have been here forever. A lot of the older neighbors have either passed away or moved on to assisted living. I don't know what the young ones are doing. I don't know hardly any of them because they don't stay here long enough.

I also wonder why almost all modern cars look the same and why there are so many people walking babies in strollers? It's a different world now. I hear police and fire sirens constantly these days but I don't see as many airplanes overhead. I don't think that air travel has completely recovered yet. Maybe everybody is just out on the highways. I've never seen traffic this bad in all the time I've lived here.

My Fitbit battery ran out this morning. It bothered me a bit because I didn't get any credit for my long walk. I'm definitely hooked on checking my stats. Every morning I check to see how many hours of deep sleep I got and how long I was in a dream state. I dream a lot, but from what I can remember the dreams are never very satisfying. When I was young I had flying dreams. Now I seems to be constantly lost. I'm always looking for my car in a parking garage or riding up and down elevators looking for my room in a hotel. I think Dawn has lots of dreams too. She often wakes me up at night while barking in her sleep.

The vet called with Dawn's test results. Everything looks normal. I hope she enjoys her Sunday outing tomorrow. I'm not a big fan of her new meds but I do want her to be happy. If she is less anxious it's probably a good thing. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Day 4348

I did end up seeing the eclipse last night. Yep, I had to pee. When I went outside, the sky was crystal clear and Orion and Sirius were high in the sky. The eclipse was as near totality as it was going to get, taking on a characteristic reddish hue as the moon passed thru the earth's shadow. It was all beautiful and serene. The night was quiet with no barking dogs or police cars racing down the street with their sirens on. For about ten seconds I thought about staying outside and doing some observing. I quickly remembered that almost every house in the neighborhood, including ours, has a bright security light in the yard and that a huge tree blocks our view of the North, making it almost impossible to polar align a telescope. It was also very cold. I took one last look at the moon and then went inside and back to sleep again. I am glad I saw the eclipse though.

This morning when we took Dawn on her sunrise walk, the moon was on the horizon and just about to set. It always looks larger when it is on the horizon for some reason. The sky was still clear and it looked like it was going to be a nice day. All this put me in a slightly better mood than usual. It wasn't dramatic, but it was enough to keep me from wanting to go back to bed again.

I waited for an hour or so after breakfast to take my long walk. I wanted the temperature to warm up a little. I was surprised when a rather large bobcat crossed my path. The cat wasn't interested in me and apparently wasn't frightened of humans. I've seen bobcats in the park before, but never one this large. Too bad I didn't have a camera with me. I was glad that Dawn wasn't with me though. I have no interest in tangling with a bobcat.

Work crews were busy ripping out the old trail when I was walking this morning. I'm still disappointed to see this happening. When we first moved here, the park was neglected and largely abandoned. At some point, a large bond issue passed and the city began making improvements. I liked the old days better. There were a few bikers who used to hang out in the park, but it was mostly empty. It certainly wasn't a recreation destination like it is today.

My feet didn't bother me today and I was able to maintain a fairly good pace on my walk. I kept looking for the two bald eagles, but have no idea when I'll see them again. I guess I should be content with seeing the bobcat today. When I returned home I couldn't think of anything to do. I did a load of wash and ignored a bunch of "suspected spam" calls on the landline. I really need to call AT&T and see if there is a way to block these calls from coming through. There seems to be more bogus calls every day and they are becoming irritating.

The proton pump inhibitor pills I've started taking appear to have cured my heartburn. We had cheeseburgers for dinner and they caused no problem. I've taken a PPI before and they've always worked well. It's too bad these pills can have some nasty side effects. I wonder how long I can get away with taking these things this time. My gastroenterologist says yes and my primary care physician says no.

Hard to believe that it's the weekend again. It's time to go grocery shopping and fill the car with gas. I wonder how much prices have gone up this week?