Saturday, September 2, 2023

Day 5000

I actually did it. Remind me not to set any other goals that take fifteeen years to accomplish. I'm still a bit surprised that I managed to write something every single day for 5000 consecutive days. There were times when I found myself in remote locations with no WiFi and only one bar on my phone. There were times when I posted from a hospital bed a few hours after surgery. There were lots of computer crashes, but I still never missed a day. This might have been a silly goal, but it wasn't always an easy one.

I learned long ago that writing has consequences. An early story about our first Dalmatian caught the eye of a small magazine called The Dalmatian Quarterly and I ended up becoming a contributing editor. I had a regular column called Seeing Spots that I wrote for many years until the magazine eventually folded and disappeared. A watch company saw my Watch of the Day feature on the blog and it led to a multi-year writing gig. One of my earlier online efforts called The Road to Nowhere was nominated for Website of the Year and I ended up being a finalist. I went to San Fransisco for the awards ceremony but didn't win. Story of my life.

I can't really remember why I decided to start a blog. Blogs were really popular for a while and it seemed like the thing to do at the time. I didn't start with a 5000 post goal, but after the first year it seemed like something I might be able to accomplish. I never thought my life was particularly interesting but I had already been keeping a daily journal in little leather bound volumes that I bought once a year at the Montblanc store. My handwriting was slowly deteriorating and blogging just seemed like an easier way of journaling. I remember blog hopping in the early days and I would faithfully visit dozens of my favorite blogs every evening. I took almost as long to visit other blogs as it did to write my own. Sadly, most of those blogs no longer exist. One or two are still around though and I continue to read them.

Will I miss writing something every night? That remains to be seen. I'll probably eventually end up doing something else but I don't know if it will involve writing. Maybe I'll start reading again. I used to love reading and always had an unfinished book nearby. I doubt that I'll spend a lot of time watching television.  I watch old British comedies on weekends, but there is very little that interests me. I certainly can't say much for the advertising on TV these days. The ads I used to write were much better.

It's probably fitting that my last day of blogging was just a regular day. I did my grocery shopping in the morning and went to the gym in the afternoon. I had a scare later in the day when Dawn had another panic attack. She has had three or four of these since we adopted her. At first we though she might be having seizures but this is just raw fear. Janet and I still don't know what frightens her. It was completely quiet in the house when today's episode started. I heard a strange noise in the living room and discovered she had torn up her dog bed and was trying to hide behind a chair. I led her back to the bedroom on a leash and gated her in the back of the house to keep her safe. That didn't help. A few minutes later I found her behind the television. She had knocked over a large floor lamp and managed to unplug most of the electronics. I took her outside to change the scenery a bit and then sat with her on the bed until she calmed down. The fact that she let me sit next to her was a clear sign that she was really scared.

All is fine now. We had Maryland Crabcakes for dinner and Dawn is snoozing on the bed. Tomorrow evening I'll be doing something different. My thanks to all of you who became regular readers over the years. I really don't know what you saw in this blog, but I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Daisy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, September 1, 2023

Day 4999

I woke up with a terrible stomach ache this morning. I must have eaten something yesterday that had gone bad in the refrigerator. It happens ocassionally. I felt better as the day progressed but I need to be more careful about eating old food.

We had a nice sunrise walk with Dawn and then I made the bed and ate my breakfast. The good thing about eating shredded wheat for breakfast is that it never goes bad. I could probably open a two year old box and it would still be fine. After breakfast I checked my messages and went to the bank. I got stuck behind someone making a long transaction at the drive up window, but I wasn't in any hurry. The only thing on my schedule was a trip to the gym.

I didn't complete my routine today. All I did was walk three miles around the indoor track and come home again. It seemed strange that I did so well yesterday, but I just didn't feel like exercising today. When I returned home I let Dawn out in the back yard so she could sun herself. She loves to sit out in the sun, but I bring her back inside after about ten minutes. When I start getting really hot, I figure she's had enough.

It's still hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of the blog. I've been doing this for a very long time. I still have mixed feelings about ending things but I think it's time. I don't enjoy writing these daily posts as much as I used to and often feel like I'm running out of things to say. Sometimes I'm amazed that anyone still reads this. In the early days of the blog my readers seemed amazed when I posted something every evening for 500 consecutive days. Now that I'm approaching 5000 days there are few readers left. Blogging just isn't as popular as it once was. My plan was always to take long walks in the morning to keep my body in shape and write something every evening to keep my mind in shape. Not a bad plan actually, but it probably would have worked just as well if I did Sudoku puzzles instead.

This afternoon was uneventful. I hope things finally start to cool off in September. The weather app on my phone still shows clear skies and triple digit temperatures for the next two weeks, but this has got to end sometime. I need to think of something to occupy my time but I'm in no particular hurry. Until something captures my interest I can just watch old Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond episodes on TV.

It's time to make my grocery list again. Janet did her grocery shopping today and Dawn was just as excited as ever when she returned with lots of bags of food to put away. Grocery day is a big deal to Dawn. I'd like to post something meaningful tomorrow, but I suspect that it will be another ordinary Saturday. There has certainly been some excitement during the past fifteen years, but life isn't like that always. Maybe that's the charm of this blog. I make the ordinary and uneventful seem OK.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Day 4998

Not a bad day. We had a nice sunrise walk with Dawn this morning. These early walks are still very pleasant. It's just too bad that the temperature warms up so quickly once the sun appears. We see lots of people walking their dogs these days. I think everyone in the neighborhood has realized that this is the only sane time to walk your dog. Dawn seldom wants to greet the dogs we pass on our walk, but she always wants to smell where they've been. We take our time on these walks and let Dawn smell things to her heart's content. They say smelling things is a really important part of a dog's life. Smells certainly seems to be a high priority for Dawn.

I wasn't in a hurry to get to the gym this morning so I did a load of laundry after breakfast. Doing laundry is oddly satisfying. I like having everything in it's place and folding the laundry and putting it away is so much easier than cleaning up the office. I don't know why I bother to check my messages anymore. I seldom get any. Today I had one form letter from the new head of media operations for the Space Force. It basically said that he looked forward to seeing me at future launches. I'm glad the Space Force hasn't forgotten about me. It's been a while since I've attended a military launch.

Lately, I've been trying to get to the gym just before lunchtime. The gym is never crowded then and it's much easier to find a place in the parking garage. I did much better today. My time on the three mile walk around the indoor track was pretty decent. There are still people faster than me, but I kept up a respectable pace. I actually did great on the basketball court. I completed my ten free throws in less than six minutes which I think is a record. Today I completed five free throws in a row. I don't think I've ever done that before. If I ever manage to complete all ten shots in a row I'll move on to something more difficult. I have no idea if that will ever happen. I still miss quite a few shots.

I did all my weight lifting exercises today and even thought about adding a few more. Maybe later. I was actually pretty tired by the time I headed home again. One of the streets I normally take on the way home was blocked because of road construction so I had to take a detour. You'd think that the city would eventually finish with all the roads, but they've been under construction even since I moved here in the mid 70's. You can't drive five miles in this town without encountering road construction.

I've been making myself a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch lately. I never used to eat lunch so I feel vaguely guilty of eating something now. I think I just eat out of boredom. I'm seldom all that hungry which is probably one of the reasons I don't go out for breakfast on Friday's anymore. A small bowl of shredded wheat is just fine.

Janet wants to get a new chair for Santa to sit in to go with our new Santa Paws backdrop. We looked at chairs that would look nice in a Winter outdoor setting and I think we found something that will work. I'm glad Janet cares about these things, because all I'm thinking about is how tired I'm going to be and wondering whether my strobe lights will still work this year. I thought I was getting too old for this five years ago and yet here we are. We've got three dates scheduled for this year. I guess I can make it.

I've finished taking this week's trash out to the curb and it still seems way too hot around sunset. Hopefully September will be a little cooler. I have no plans for tomorrow at all which just means I will be going back to the gym around 11:30 again.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Day 4997

I wish I was ending the blog on a high note. It would be nice to go out describing some sort of grand adventure. Not very likely. It looks like this summer will continue to be an endless series of very hot days where my main activity is staying out of the sun.

The sunrise walks are still nice. The temperature was in the high 70's this morning and there was a nice breeze. The construction activity in the neighborhood seems to have ended. The water department made a mess of the streets, but I guess we have new pipes now. There are currently three empty lots on the street. The houses have been scraped and the buyers of the properties don't seem to be in any hurry to put up anything new. They're probably waiting for interest rates to go down again. There doesn't appear to be any desire to save these older houses. The main reason they get demolished so quickly is that property taxes are lower if there is no house on the lot.

I watched the news about the hurricane while I ate breakfast this morning. It was a strong hurricane, but it went through a rural part of Florida so damage wasn't as bad as people expected. Nobody that I know down there suffered any damage. I'm glad we don't have to worry about hurricanes in Dallas. We do have the occasional tornado, but there haven't been any problems this year. Before you can worry about tornados you need rain. We haven't had any rain for over a month.

I went to the gym again this morning. I didn't even complete my full routine today. All I did was walk three miles around the indoor track and come home again. I don't know why I didn't stay longer because I definitely had no plans for the afternoon. I wasn't particularly tired either. I just wasn't in a great mood. Oh, well. At least I got my steps.

I seem to have lost interest in the star tracker. I haven't even turned it on in quite a while. The lack of interest probably coincides with my lack of a plan to return to McDonald Observatory. I miss the place, but I have serious doubts about making the long drive again. I just don't have the energy that I used to have and it isn't worth being run over by an eighteen wheeler just to get a chance to see the Milky Way again. Hey. I did see the moon tonight though. The rare blue super moon was noticeably larger than usual.

Dawn won a ribbon in her training class tonight. We thought she might never win a ribbon again because she has to wear a harness at class now. All the other dogs are on a regular leash and collar and were easier to control. Dawn did well. She completed all the exercises without the need for a training collar or any pressure on her neck.

It's hard to believe tomorrow is the last day in August. This entire year has gone quickly. Maybe September will be cooler. I certainly hope so. I don't know if I can take another month like this.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Day 4996

We walked very early today since Janet had plans. Dawn wore her green LED collar and Janet and I had little clip on lights. We walk this way all Winter, but it still seems early in the season to be walking in the dark. The weather was pleasant though. The temperature was in the low 70's and there was a nice breeze. I'm definitely not an early bird, but these sunrise walks are still the nicest part of the day.

I usually wake up with no plans for the day. I make the bed, eat my breakfast, and reluctantly turn the computer on to check for messages. Needless to say, I don't get a lot of messages these days. I still haven't finished the website I'm helping my neighbor with. I'm basically done but they can't seem to find the guy with the passwords to the server. Occasionally I get messages from my contacts at Kennedy Space Center. I've applied to attend a launch in early October but haven't heard anything yet. Most of my mail is spam.

I thought about walking in the park again, but it was warmer than yesterday so I decided to go back to the gym. I'm seldom in any hurry because my daily workout is usually my only activity. If I go to the gym too early I'm left with a huge chunk of the day to fill. I could certainly stay at the gym longer, but after an hour on the track and fifteen minutes on the basketball court I'm usually ready to come home again. These trips to the gym are about as close to Ground Hog Day as you can get. They are all exactly the same. The same people seem to be at the gym every day. I'm never motivated to do anything new, but I still feel like I'm getting some benefit out of this. I'm certainly in better shape than my Dad was at my age.

We ordered a new backdrop for Santa Paws pictures today. I've already got a ton of these backdrops in the storage warehouse, but since a lot of people who come for Christmas pictures are repeat customers it's nice to offer them something new. I'm glad these newer backdrops are machine washable. Some of the early backdrops we used to use were hand painted on muslin and couldn't be washed at all. After a few dogs peed on them they were basically worthless.

I didn't do much this afternoon, but that shouldn't be surprising by now. I never do much in the afternoon. I'm still looking for something to do after I finish the blog. I really ought to clean out the office, but I probably won't. It is filled with years of clutter and remnants of old interests. When I look around it's amazing how many different things I've been interested in over the years. Some interests like astronomy seem to ebb and flow. Other interests just disappear completely. I'm sure something new will come along. One thing I never lost was my curiosity.

Duke is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, August 28, 2023

Day 4995

This morning was a pleasant surprise. We didn't get any rain yesterday but the cold front definitely brought cooler weather. The temperature was in the low 70's when we took our sunrise walk this morning. There was a nice breeze as well. I don't know how long this is going to last but the change is welcome.

It was still reasonably cool after I finished breakfast this morning, so I decided to take my long walk in the park instead of going to the gym. It's been a while, so I thought I'd see a lot of changes. Nope. Nothing changed at all. I suspect that it just been too hot for the maintenance workers in the park. Everything is looking really dry. This is fire hazard dry. Many trees are turning yellow early and starting to lose their leaves. The water level in the lake is very low as well. A big stretch of Sunset Bay has completely dried up. 

I find walking in the park more tiring than walking at the gym. Strangely, my Fitbit seems to think I'm actually getting more exercise at the gym. This is a mystery to me. There are lots of small hills on my walk and maybe I don't burn much energy when I'm walking downhill. My feet definitely hurt more when I'm walking outdoors. I'd almost forgotten how bad my feet can get after a long walk. I think the indoor track at the gym has a cushioned surface. Oh, well. Despite the problems, I still enjoy being outdoors.

I'm glad I didn't go down to Florida for the Silent Barker launch. I was approved for this one, but didn't go because I've been feeling poor this month. Staying in Dallas was definitely the right decision. I just got a notice that tomorrow's launch has been postponed indefinitely because of Hurricane Idalia. They are rolling the rocket back to the vertical integration facility. No new launch date has been announced. This would have been a huge mess if I was down in Florida. I'd be trying to change reservations and get a flight back to Dallas right when the hurricane was arriving.

I got my August electric bill today. Not good. This was the highest bill I've ever received since we moved here many years ago. I know that TXU has raised their rates, but this is ridiculous. The bill was higher than my car insurance payment and more than I charged for monthly rent back when I owned rental property. Oh, well. It is what it is. Hopefully things will cool down and next month's bill will be lower.

I'm so tired of this weather. I never was interested in much but the heat has destroyed my interest in just about everything. I don't want to take too many naps or I won't be able to sleep at night. I probably ought to get some books to read, but my interest in reading has wained. It wasn't always this way. There are hundreds of books on shelves in the office and I'm sure I enjoyed reading them. Luckily the days go quickly. Before you know it Dawn is ready for her dinner and I have mine shortly afterwards. I still don't know what I'm going to do with myself when the blog is finished. This has been my evening for many, many years. So far, no regrets about ending the daily posts though. It's time to do something else.

It would be nice if it's cool enough to walk in the park again tomorrow. We'll see. It was quite nice when I started out this morning, but was getting pretty hot by the time I returned. At least tomorrow's sunrise walk will be pleasant. This is always the nicest part of the day.

Mandy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Day 4994

We almost got some rain this afternoon. Lots of people around us saw a little rain today, but sadly we didn't see one drop. It's still bone dry. I kept watching the weather radar and the closest the rain got to us was about five miles away. Oh, well. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't. I don't  think we'll see another chance of rain for a while. This rain coincided with the arrival of the cold front that is supposed to bring temperatures down to the mid 90's tomorrow.

The rest of the day was fairly predictable. We got up a little later this morning, took our early walk with Dawn, had a big weekend breakfast again, and then I went mall walking. The mall was kind of strange this morning. There were lots more people than usual. Many of them were slightly overweight young men walking around staring at their phones. They all looked like they had spent the past ten years sitting at home playing video games. I had no idea what was going on until I started seeing t-shirts saying Pokémon GO Fest 2023. These guys, along with a few girls, were all looking for Pokémon at the mall. I still don't understand why.

The store windows are all filled with Fall clothes now. These styles would make a lot of sense in New England, but it never gets cold enough in the Fall to wear this stuff here. Yes, it occasionally snows here and we do get freezing temperatures but it is very rare. Heat waves like we are experiencing now are more common. Although we continue to set record high temperatures, I remember one summer where it got so hot that our lake almost dried up.

When I returned home Dawn was already waiting for her Sunday outing. She even gave me one of those Dalmatian smiles when I entered the house. It was too hot for a real walk, but we took Dawn to the Sunday park anyway and let her smell things for a few minutes. She's no fool. After she found the right smell to pee over, she headed straight back to the air conditioned car. The ice cream cones were nice and cold today, but they didn't give us very much. The server just plopped a scoop of ice cream on top of an empty cone. For the prices they charge, they could definitely do better.

My 5000 Day blogging goal is less than a week away. If you count up the number of days on the calendar since I started posting, I actually reached this goal yesterday. Somewhere many years ago I must have made a typo in the blog header that threw the count off. I've never been able to find the error even though I've tried several times. Looking through 5000 blog posts trying to find a typo will drive you insane. Let's just stick with calling this Day 4994. It certainly wouldn't be the first time I've made a mistake.

Tomorrow's sunrise walk should feel a lot cooler. I think temperatures will only be in the 70's tomorrow morning. Of course it will get a lot hotter later during the day. It will probably just feel like a normal August day instead of the end of the world.  Eventually the heat dome will dissipate and normal weather will resume. I can't wait until we start to see some real Fall weather even if it means raking leaves again. I don't think our Fall will be cold enough to wear those wool clothes I saw in the store windows today, but it will be a lot nicer than it is now.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Day 4993

Another busy day. It never cools down anymore. Our air conditioner runs throughout the night and our early morning walk feels more like a midday walk. At least it's still cool enough before sunrise to give Dawn a walk. It's far too hot later in the day.

We had a big weekend breakfast and then I left to do my grocery shopping and other errands. I had to get a prescription transferred to a different pharmacy this morning because my regular pharmacy couldn't obtain the pills anymore. The new pharmacy said the pills were on backorder as well, but luckily they still had some in stock. Hopefully this problem will be resolved before my 90 day supply runs out.

I filled my car with gas and noticed that gas prices are going up again. I guess the gas companies don't want to be left behind. All prices keep going up. It's a regular guessing game to see what the prices of my regular items are going to be this week. At least I could find everything today. Some common items seem to be in short supply as well.

After I put the groceries away, I let Dawn out to pee, checked my messages, and went to the gym. My gym is always pretty empty on weekends. This seems counterintuitive to me, but I'm always happy to have the place to myself. I did my three mile walk around the indoor track and was disappointed in my time again. I wasn't great on the basketball court either. I didn't even bother with lifting weights today. I was ready to come home and take a nap.

I'm still disappointed that I'm not down in Florida this weekend. Other people's photographs of the Crew 7 launch early this morning looked great and there was a Starlink launch just about an hour ago. There will be a third Space Force launch on Tuesday. It's rare to have this many launches so close together and I could have been approved for all of them. Oh, well. I need to think of the money I'm saving. At least that's a positive.

I went out and got a pizza for dinner tonight. Our favorite pizza place has raised their prices as well. You wonder where this is going to end. Everyone can't keep raising their prices indefinitely. If I was working I would probably raise my own prices as well. Retirees can't do this though. We're kind of at the mercy of everyone else.

I keep checking my weather app to see if there is a chance of rain. Nope. We're looking at clear skies for the rest of the month. They say a cold front will be arriving on Monday, but temperatures will still be in the 90's. It's going to be a while before I can resume my long walks in the park. Tomorrow I'll go back to the mall. Mall walking is pleasant and it's always nice and cool inside. I don't think Dawn is going to get a Sunday outing walk. We'll still go for ice cream though. An ice cream cone on a hot day always makes things a little better.

Cammy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day