Monday, August 21, 2017

Day 2797

It was an eventful day. We got up at 4:30 this morning to go to the hospital. Janet's surgery wasn't scheduled until 7:30, but there's always a lot of paperwork when you check in. I'm always amazed at how empty the roads are at this time of day. If only it were this way all the time. I stayed until the anesthesiologist came and took Janet to the OR and then I went home and fed Dash his breakfast and took him on a walk.

By the time I finished my own breakfast and did the dishes I got a call saying that Janet was in recovery. She didn't have to stay in the hospital overnight this time, so I drove back down to the hospital to take her home. By the time I arrived, the eclipse had already started. As I entered the building, I passed a doctor looking at the eclipse through a sheet of x-ray film. Some nearby nurses asked him if the x-ray film was safe. "I don't know," said the doctor. The nurses took turns looking through the film anyway, probably thinking that if this makeshift filter was good enough for a doctor, it was good enough for them. Since these people didn't appear to go blind, I asked if I could take a look too. I'll have to say that x-ray film makes a darn good solar filter.

By the time that Janet and I arrived back home again, the eclipse was near it's maximum. The sky was noticeably darker and the light filtering through the trees in front of our house made lots of little crescent shaped images on the sidewalk. Janet wanted to go to sleep, so as soon as she was settled in, I went down the street to watch the remainder of the eclipse through a neighbor's telescope. You could see sunspots through the telescope and by using them as a reference point, it was easy to see how fast the moon was crossing in front of the sun. The edge of the moon wasn't completely round either. You could clearly see the outline of mountains and valleys silhouetted against the sun. The guy with the telescope had a good supply of eclipse glasses, so everybody got a good view. It seemed like half the neighborhood showed up for this impromptu event. I hadn't seen some of these people for quite a while and some of them didn't even know that Dot had passed away. It was nice to see a group of people where everyone was happy and nobody was protesting anything.

I think Janet's surgery went really well. She will be home for two weeks, but that is much better than the six weeks it took to recover after the first surgery. This time there are no tubes that need to be drained every four hours. There are still bandages that need to be changed and procedures that need to be followed to avoid infections, but everyone is anticipating that her recovery will go smoothly.

I need to take Dash to the vet early tomorrow morning for his Phenobarbital level test. I was going to do this on Wednesday, but there are thunderstorms in the forecast. I think it will be easier tomorrow. I need to take Janet back to see her surgeon on Wednesday as well. If the weather is bad, we'll just take Dash with us. I hate to leave Dash alone during a storm. I've learned from experience that he can get into some serious trouble if he panics.

It would have been nice to see the sun's corona today, but I definitely did get to experience the eclipse. I'm glad that Janet's long and difficult journey is coming to a close. Hopefully, in a month or two this summer of surgery will just be a memory.

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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Day 2796

Janet goes back for more surgery tomorrow, so today was another huge cleaning day. I'm not sure whether the kind of cleaning we do disinfects the house at all, but it does make Janet feel better. This surgery is supposed to be the final step in the reconstruction process. Recovery is supposed to be faster this time, but Janet will still have to take another leave of absence from work. I'm sure she hopes this is the last surgery she'll ever have to have.

I was going to go to the gym today, but while I was running a few errands on the way, I couldn't remember whether I'd turned the dryer off before I left the house. I skipped the gym and drove back home to check. Actually, the dryer was off, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Janet and I both worry about dryer fires, so the dryer is never on when we leave the house. I don't leave the washer running either, because once it overflowed into the utility room and made a huge mess. I don't know why I feel safe leaving the dehumidifier running constantly. There's probably something that could go wrong with that thing too.

When I returned home, I realized that I had so many things to do that I never should have planned on going to the gym in the first place. I vacuumed the house, washed the sheets and made the bed, and mowed the grass in the front and the back. I'm not sure how much longer I can continue mowing the grass myself. Every time I take the mower out it seems a little harder to push it up our sloping front yard. I was very tired today. When you get older it's really hard to tell whether you've got some strange disease that is sapping all your energy, or if you're actually doing quite well and just getting older. There's no real benchmark for this sort of thing. Some of my aging friends still run marathons. Others have trouble getting off the couch.

One of our neighbors is having an eclipse watching party in their front yard tomorrow. I'm not sure how long I'll need to be at the hospital in the morning, but if I have time I'll go take a look at the sun through the neighbor's telescope around noon. This guy is a real astronomy buff and has all the right solar filters. We'll only see about 75% totality here in Dallas, but the view still ought to be interesting.  I'm a little envious of all the people I know who are actually making the trip to the totality zone. There have been quite a few status updates on Facebook from people leaving for their eclipse destinations over the weekend. A lot of them ought to get a good view. The weather actually seems to be improving across much of the country.

We're going to have to get up really early tomorrow morning. Janet needs to be admitted to the hospital at 5:30 AM. I'll come home to feed and walk Dash and then wait for the call that everything went OK. I don't know how you can be casual about surgery. Even minor surgery seems drastic to me. The dogs have had every type of surgery imaginable and my sister had to endure an eight hour spinal fusion surgery. I've been pretty lucky. I had knee surgery back in college and then went almost forty years before I needed a lithotripsy procedure a few years ago to remove some bladder stones. Janet has a great team of doctors, but they don't make surgery any less frightening. I hope this is the last surgery she's going to need for a long, long time. I also hope she's not going to be driving me to the hospital any time soon.

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

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Day 2795

With each passing year, birthday celebrations become a little more subdued. Janet and I both accept the fact that we are aging, but I can't say that we welcome it. Birthdays just remind us how old we actually are. That being said, it was a nice day. We slept in late, ate a rare breakfast together and walked Dash before it became too hot. Basically, it was just a regular Saturday, full of errands and chores.

I was glad that Janet liked the gifts I got her. You  can tell the difference between when someone really likes something and when they are just being polite. I looked for things that she would like and use, but would never buy for herself. The Dyson Hair Dryer was a hit. Everybody thinks this thing is ridiculously overpriced until they actually use it. It's just as revolutionary as the Dyson vacuum cleaners. Janet is far too practical to buy something like this, but she knew all about it as was happy to receive it. I think the only thing Janet uses more than a hair dryer is her phone.

I was looking for something very different today. I though I'd buy some welding glasses to view the eclipse on Monday. It turns out that very few welding supply stores are open on Saturday. I also discovered that very few welders actually use the shade 14 glasses that are considered safe for viewing the sun. The typical welding glasses you'd find at a Home Depot or Lowes are usually only shade 5, which won't protect you from anything. Oh, well. I gave it a try. I guess I'm back to making a pin hole projector out of a cereal box.

A website I built several years ago vanished when the web server crashed last week and took all the files with it. Luckily, I still had all the original files on a backup drive, so it didn't take long to rebuild the site on a new server. Time and time again, I'm reminded that electronic records aren't very permanent at all. Hard drives crash. Files get corrupted. Software becomes obsolete. I have paper records that go back to when I was in college. My electronic files aren't nearly as robust. Even though I back stuff up regularly and save almost everything, I've lost a surprising amount of information over the years. I began using computers in the early 1980's, but very little survives from that era. I wonder how long my digital photography will last. Probably not nearly as long as some of my old film negatives.

I don't know what I'm going to do about the shower. I took a good look at my handiwork today and I can't see where the water is getting in. The joints and cracks I sealed look good. Obviously, water is still seeping through small cracks in the tiles somewhere, but I can't find the crack. It's looking more and more like the only solution is to have a good tile guy come over and re-do everything.

I started hearing the low battery beep on the smoke alarm this afternoon. I went to replace the battery, but was surprised to discover that none of the replacement batteries worked. This didn't make sense. The batteries were brand new. In fact, I had just opened a fresh box. Eventually, I noticed a message on the box that said, "Use before 2014." I must have actually bought the box of batteries a few years before that. Everything in the house is like this: unused, yet so old that it has become obsolete. The challenge for Janet and I moving forward is to avoid becoming like that box of batteries.

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Day 2794

There are three restaurants in the neighborhood that I go to a lot. One is a favorite of millennials. The next seems to be favored by middle-age teachers and health care workers. The third is a time machine inhabited by really old people who still prefer reading the morning paper to looking at their phone. Each of these groups is so completely different than the next that they might as well be living on different planets. Maybe the world was always this way, but I don't think so. We have really become a tribal society. Does everyone hang out with their own tribe because it has become too difficult to communicate with the other tribes? I don't know. I ate with the millennial tribe this morning. They seemed happier than the other tribes in the neighborhood, but maybe younger people are always a bit more optimistic. I had no idea what they were talking about, but the food was good.

Janet's birthday is tomorrow. Since I have renounced gift cards after receiving a fraudulent gift card for my own birthday, I needed to go shopping for real birthday presents. Shopping for people our age isn't always easy. For the most part, you've already got everything you need. I wanted to get Janet something she would really like, but since she is actively downsizing, I didn't want to add even more to the clutter. Hopefully, I did well today. I can see why gift cards are so popular. Gift cards are easy.

Maybe I shouldn't have bragged about Dash's health yesterday. Right after I finished writing my blog post, Dash threw up again. He seemed fine all day. He ate well, took normal walks, and didn't seem to be in any kind of discomfort or distress. Just like when he has vomited previously, he went to sleep around 10:30 PM, woke up about two hours later, and seemed very restless and agitated. Immediately after he threw up in the yard, he went back to sleep and was calm for the rest of the night. This seems to happen about once a week now. It is really odd behavior. The symptoms don't seem to be consistent with vestibular disease and if he were really sick, you'd think there would be other signs of discomfort. I'll talk to the vet again when he goes in for a Phenobarbital level check next week, but I don't expect any easy answers. These periodic and seemingly random vomiting episodes have been a problem for a long time now.

I never did buy any eclipse glasses while they were still available, so I guess I'll need to make one of those pinhole projectors out of an old cereal box. I remember doing this once when I was a kid. The last partial eclipse I saw was right around sunset, so it was possible to safely look at the sun through some thick haze on the horizon. If you are a regular reader, you might remember the picture I took. Monday's eclipse will be right around midday in Dallas. You don't ever want to be looking at the sun when it's high in the sky.

I never really made plans to see this eclipse. In my heart I was hoping that Dot would make it to her next birthday and I knew she needed me. She almost made it, since her birthday would have been on the 27th of this month. I never expected that Janet would be diagnosed with cancer either. She has always been much healthier than me. Life is full of surprises and you've got to stay flexible. You've got to stay hopeful too. There will be another chance to see a total eclipse in 2027. I won't even have to leave town, since Dallas is in the path of totality. Hopefully, we'll both still be around by then.

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Day 2793

It's unusual to have this much rain in August. Usually it is bone dry. The good news is that our yard still looks nice and green. The bad news is that I'm starting to worry about the roof leaking again and Dash is spending way too much time hiding under my desk. Dash slept through the overnight storms, but he definitely didn't like the thunder and lightning that greeted us around sunrise. I had to delay feeding him breakfast, because I was afraid that he might throw up if he ate when he was agitated.

Eventually the rain stopped and she took our morning walk. When I finished my morning smoothie, I got a surprising amount done for such a wet, gray day. I went to the bank, got my new vehicle registration sticker, and went searching for a silicon case for Janet's new iPad. Apple discontinued these cases, so they are in very short supply. I don't know why they quit making them, because they are a perfect match for the new keyboard cover. The Apple Store and all the phone stores have stopped selling these cases, but I found what I was looking for at a Target Superstore. It makes sense. People go to Target to save money. They don't go there to buy overpriced Apple products. There is usually a good supply of Apple stuff at Target because the Apple section of the store gets ignored.

The price of Texas registration stickers keeps going up, while the quality of the stickers themselves keeps going down. It looks like they just print these things out on demand using an ink jet printer now. I always have trouble getting these stickers positioned properly on my windshield. I like them very low, so they won't block my view, but I also like them straight, so they are parallel to the ground.  It's a good thing I have nothing better to do. It took me forever to attach my 2018 sticker to the windshield this afternoon.

It's so disappointing that my shower repairs didn't work. I did a good job of sealing the corners where the shower walls meet the floor. Water is still finding it's way under the tiles unfortunately and now it's harder for this water to get out. I think I've actually made the situation worse. I think my only alternative now is to rip out all the silicon caulk and use traditional tile grout instead. The problem with this is that we'll have to take a bath in the other bathroom for at least a week while the grout dries. I hate washing my hair in a bathtub. The shower is much better.

Dash has seemed pretty healthy this week. His appetite is good and he hasn't thrown up at all. We're not doing anything different, but are making an effort to keep him calm. I think sometimes he gets himself so worked up that he gives himself an upset stomach. The key to keeping Dash calm is just doing whatever he wants. I"m really just a dog butler these days. Actually, I've always kind of been a dog butler.

I hope I don't have as much trouble publishing today's blog entry as I did yesterday. Feedburner wasn't working and I had a lot of problems getting the feed to syndicate to Facebook and Twitter.  We'll see how it goes. I'm not sure I'll be going out to breakfast tomorrow morning. If the rain continues, I"ll just stay home and do my best to keep Dash calm.

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Day 2792

When I was doing some yard work this morning, I noticed a huge army of sweet ants crawling from a crack in the patio and making their way up the side of the house to the roof. No wonder I've been seeing ants in the bathroom. I found some ant and roach spray in the kitchen and killed the ants that were visible, but I'm sure there are thousands more wherever these came from. While I was trying to eliminate the ants, I also saw several wasp nests. The wasps were rebuilding in exactly the same places where I had removed their nests a few months ago. I've been doing this year after year for as long as I can remember. Keeping the insects and critters out of the house is next to impossible. It's hard enough just to keep Dash from eating the June Bugs.

It doesn't look like my repairs to the shower stall were successful. After I took a shower this morning, I noticed a small stream of water flowing from one of the corners I had just sealed with the silicon caulk. The problem is that there is a small area under the glass shower door frame that is inaccessible. I think some of the tiles have cracked under the door and are letting water seep in. The leak isn't bad, but if there is any leak at all, it will only get worse.

I spend way too much time in this house. It's disheartening to see everything slowly disintegrate around me. Thirty years ago the doors and windows opened and closed a lot more smoothly. The brick floors were completely free from cracks. And the wool carpets looked wonderful. I could never afford to restore the place to its original condition, but it sure would be nice. I have fantasies about those guys from the This Old House show on PBS coming over and fixing up the place. Real contractors aren't like This Old House though. They want to do the work as quickly as possible using substandard materials they picked up at a nearby Home Depot. Sadly, the house will probably just continue to deteriorate.

For years, Dash used to be eager to take an evening walk right after he'd finished his dinner. Now that Janet has been home for most of the summer, Dash refuses too walk without her. It makes things awkward on days like today when Janet had a company dinner. Dash wouldn't walk at all. I tried three times and he refused to leave the yard. It was almost dark when Janet returned, but Dash decided he needed a walk after all. We all walked to the end of the street and back, but he could have had a much longer walk if he'd just gone a few hours earlier.

Janet's been having trouble finding an iPad, so I told her that I'd go locate one for her. After doing a little looking around, I found exactly the model she wanted at a local AT&T phone store. The Apple Store in the mall said there would be a three or four week wait before they had this model back in stock. This doesn't make any sense. You'd think that the Apple Store would always keep a good supply of their own products on hand. It's getting harder and harder to be an Apple fanboy. I think that Apple has become too rich and powerful for its own good. They don't even try to keep customers happy anymore.

I don't know what it will take to keep me happy. I still miss Dot a lot. It would be nice to have a steady income, but I don't really want a job. I wake up each day with a small list of things to do and I usually do all of them. There is no grand plan anymore.  I'm just going from one day to the next.

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Day 2791

I got my car safety inspected today. I called to see if I needed an appointment and my service guy said to come on up because they weren't very busy. I shouldn't have believed him. Instead of taking a few minutes as promised, the inspection kept me at the dealership for over two hours. I used to enjoy wasting time at the dealership. I would look at all the new cars and try to imagine what I'd be driving next. Now, looking at cars is depressing. The ones I like are all ridiculously expensive.

The dealership always asks me if I'd like them to wash my car while it's there. I usually tell them to go ahead because it's free and it saves me the trouble. Typically, the maintenance on my car takes so long that I get impatient and ask them to cancel the car wash so I can get back home a little sooner. That's what happened today. I knew that Dash was waiting for his dinner, but it's a shame I didn't have more time. The car was pretty dirty.

I got a reply from the roofer today. He told me that he didn't have time to send a crew to patch the defective spots this time, but that he would drop off a can of the elastomer coating and I could make the repairs myself. This seemed kind of rude, but I wasn't completely surprised. The roofer has made many trips to my house already. I think he's probably trying to cut his losses. It's too bad that so few flat roofs come with the kind of warranty you typically get with a shingle roof. I'm kind of at the roofer's mercy.

After my recent dog bite, I have become very nervous about walking Dash. The park is so popular now that people come from all parts of town to walk their dogs. There is almost always somebody who wants to walk their dog without a leash. Some of these dogs are well behaved, but many aren't. I try my best to avoid loose dogs at all costs, but it's getting harder and harder. I don't even trust dog parks anymore. We saw another loose dog today. Luckily, Dash and I made it home in one piece.

I was balancing my checkbook this afternoon and I couldn't figure out why there was a $300 difference between me and the bank. I'm usually pretty accurate with bookkeeping. I finally figured out that my supplemental medical insurance had gone up in cost earlier in the year and nobody had bothered to tell me. I have health insurance payments directly debited from my account because I don't want to lose coverage just because I forgot to pay a bill. You've got to keep looking at your bank statements though. It's surprising how often rates go up.

I guess I could go get my new vehicle registration sticker tomorrow. I still can't remember how the new rules work, but I think you just need to wait 24 hours for the safety inspection information to be recorded in the state's database. I was thinking that Texas eliminated the safety inspection requirement earlier this year, but apparently not. The bill was passed by the Texas Senate but rejected by the House. I think the legislature is still trying to eliminate safety inspections. It seems like it would be better to keep the safety inspections, but eliminate the registration sticker.

It looks like there might be quite a few clouds across the United States next Monday. I guess it doesn't matter to me since I won't be traveling to view the eclipse anyway. It would be a shame if the weather won't cooperate. So far it looks like Idaho has the best chance of clear skies. I hope you have clear skies wherever you plan on viewing the eclipse. These things don't happen all that often.

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

Monday, August 14, 2017

Day 2790

I finally went back up on the roof today. What a mess. In addition to the usual two inches of standing water, there were twigs and small branches everywhere. The neighbor's pecan tree is starting to drop nuts as well. As soon as I got things cleaned up, I called the roofer again. There are at least half a dozen new places where the elastomer coating has deteriorated or torn. I am so tired of water problems. Over the years, the vast majority of problems we've had with the house have been water related. There have been roof leaks, underground plumbing leaks, shower pan leaks, dishwasher leaks, and toilet leaks. Water leaks are inevitably followed by mold and mildew. I'm sick of it all. I wish there was a way to buy a house that came with a 100 year guarantee against any form of water damage.

I was finally able to contact the watchmaker who has had three of my watches for almost five years now. I told him that I had given up on him and that I would come by and pick up the broken timepieces. He immediately apologized for the lengthy delay and said that if I could give him one more month, he would have all three repaired. I have actually heard this before, but what have I got to lose. I can't even remember what these watches look like anymore. I'll call him again at the end of the summer.

It was still raining this morning when we woke up and although Dash had slept like a baby during last night's rain, he immediately became frightened when he heard a distant thunderclap. This complicated our morning routine, because Dash won't eat when he is scared. I like Dash to eat his breakfast before I start fixing mine, because as soon as he sees me fixing something, he immediately loses interest in what is in his bowl. I fooled him this morning. I got out a bunch of pots and pans as if I was fixing my own breakfast and then fixed his instead. He eagerly ate his meal, took his morning pills, and then wanted to go on a walk. I ended up eating pretty late this morning, but at least I got Dash walked before it started raining again.

The shower stall still leaks a little, but I think I made a huge improvement. The problem is that if there is any leak whatsoever, my repairs will ultimately fail. Moisture will gradually seep under the ceramic tiles again and cause the silicon caulk to come loose. I don't even care if the repair lasts forever. If the musty smell starts to go away and I don't have to mop up small puddles after I take a shower, I'm happy. When the repair disintegrates, I'll just fix things again.

I've just about resolved all my computer upgrade problems, but I still can't print on DVD's. I don't know why this bothers me so much. I haven't had a need to  make a label for a CD or DVD in almost a year. Nobody even uses DVD's anymore. Losing this capability still frustrates me. I have a printer that lets you print directly on blank discs and I used to use it a lot. Upgrading to Sierra has made this printer obsolete.

I'm helping Janet find a new iPad. It's surprising how hard it is to just go to a store and buy one of these things. Most stores, including the Apple Store, want you to buy online and then they'll ship it directly to you later. Depending on the configuration you choose, delivery can take from three days to over three weeks. It's a shame that stores don't carry much inventory anymore. Shopping was so much easier when you could go to a store and know that they'd have everything you needed right in the store.

I'm pretty confident that I have everything I need at home tomorrow. Dash has plenty of food. There's still a good supply of fresh fruit for my smoothie. There are enough leftovers from tonight's dinner to feed me tomorrow. I'm good. If I get really bored, there's always Netflix.

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