Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Day 4905

The roof got its first big test today. We had a driving mid-afternoon thunderstorm and no leaks. I resisted the urge to climb up on the roof after the storm was over and see if there was standing water. I am curious though. The roof is also paid for now. A representative from the roofing company came over to pick up the final payment earlier this morning. Hopefully I won't spend much time thinking about the roof anymore. There are other things that need attention.

The rain was somewhat of a surprise. I wasn't expecting it. Dawn apparently wasn't expecting rain either. The thunder and lightning sent her into panic mode for a while. Dawn usually isn't scared of storms, so this was a surprise as well. Luckily, the storm was over in an hour or so and there is no more rain on the horizon.

The day started normally enough. We had a nice early morning walk with Dawn. She seemed to have a lot of energy this morning and wanted to take a longer route than usual. Last month's falling episodes seem like a distant memory now. Hopefully, whatever caused the weakness in her front legs won't return. A healthy dog is a happy dog.

After paying for the roof, I decided to pay all my other bills as well. I'm really going to have to curtail my trips to Florida. These launch trips are just getting too expensive. Airfares have gone up the most, but when I compare expenses with past trips, everything else has gone up as well. It's kind of sad. Maybe I can plan something for the Fall, but I'd better stay close to home for a while.

I'm glad I was able to complete my long walk today before the storm arrived. I've been surprised by weather before and wouldn't have wanted to be caught out in this storm. There was lots of lightning. I don't mind getting wet, but I definitely don't want to get struck by lightning. Even with a waterproof roof, I'm still not a big fan of rain. Rain makes for muddy dog walks and when the grass grows faster I have to mow more often.

When I passed Sunset Bay on my long walk today the Muscovy Ducks were fighting with the geese. One of the geese was trying to run away with a Muscovy Duck's bill firmly clamped to its tail feathers. Birds are not very friendly creatures. They are very territorial and always seem to be fighting with each other. The Mallards are always chasing each other. Sometimes the birds don't seem to like me either. I've had Mockingbirds dive bomb me several times on walks. You don't want to get too close to their nests.

It's hard to believe that it's almost June. Where has this year gone? It still seems like I just finished putting away the Christmas tree. I'll finish up my article tomorrow morning and send it to the magazine. There isn't much else on the agenda. I owe my sister another letter and I still need to fix the screen door, but I'll probably just take a walk tomorrow. 

Ollie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, May 29, 2023

Day 4904 - Memorial Day

Today was a two part day. I walked in the morning and wrote in the afternoon. It didn't feel like I accomplished much, but my article is basically done. I just need to wait until the AX-2 astronauts return on June 1 and then I'll finish things up and send the article to the magazine.

I was sleepy this morning and didn't feel like getting out of bed, but you can't procrastinate when you've got a dog waiting for a walk. These early morning walks are nice, but it warms up quickly. By the time I was ready for my long walk after breakfast it was already too hot.

I'm going to have to go out and find some more shredded wheat soon. I'm almost out and it's only Monday. There's still plenty of fruit though. After breakfast I thought about fixing the screen door, but I didn't have enough staples for the staple gun, so that gave me an excuse to put the job off for another day or two. I quickly reverted to my regular routine of checking my messages and getting ready for my long walk.

If I ever needed an excuse to return to the gym it will be summer temperatures. It really wasn't bad today but the warmer weather gave me a feel for what is coming. I don't think I can handle being outside in triple digit temperatures anymore. The gym is air conditioned and has a nice indoor track. It also has everything I need to work on rebuilding muscle mass. All I need to do is get motivated.

The park was busy today. There were more bicycles and joggers than on a typical weekend. At first I was confused and then remembered it was Memorial Day. Everyone must have gotten the day off. I completed my six miles, trying my best not to get mowed down by speeding cyclists. I think I prefer walking on winter days when nobody is out and about.

I was wondering when the roofers were going to call wanting the rest of their money. They called today and apparently want to be paid tomorrow. That's fine. I'm ready to put the new roof behind me and move on to other things. The new roof still hasn't been tested by a heavy rain, but that's bound to happen soon. Lots of people in the area got rain today, but it was all to the north of us. I hope the roofers come back to inspect things after the next big storm. They promised that the new roof will drain well. I'm a bit skeptical but am hoping for the best. I really don't want to be climbing on the roof to remove standing water ever again.

I spent the afternoon writing my article about the AX-2 Mission. The article is basically done unless something surprising happens on the final days of the mission. I had to look at my old article about the AX-1 Mission to make sure that I wasn't duplicating the previous article. The two private missions to the space station are basically the same. This new article was a little shorter than I anticipated, but I think I mentioned everything important. I'll edit some of the pictures I took tomorrow and then submit the article and pictures to SpaceFlight as soon as the astronauts return to earth.

I hope my new driver's license comes soon. I hate loose ends and won't feel comfortable traveling until the license arrives. I have a temporary license, but it's just a piece of paper and doesn't look very official. I doubt that the temporary license would open any doors at Kennedy Space Center. I dread renewing my passport. That's going to make renewing the driver's license look easy. They say it can take up to a year to renew a passport now. Why? I've got some time, but I imagine that conditions will be even worse when it's time for me to renew. It's hard to get used to the fact that nothing works smoothly anymore. 

Emmitt is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Day 4903

Not a bad day. It was supposed to rain today, but the rain never materialized. We had a pleasant early morning walk with Dawn and then returned home for a big breakfast. Our routine on Sunday seldom changes. After breakfast I make the bed and check my messages. Then I go walking at the mall.

Mall walking is a nice change of pace from walking in the park. The temperature is controlled, the terrain is flat, and the scenery is interesting in its own weird way. Every week there are stores that have closed and new ones that have opened. Window displays change, but everything still looks the same. I wonder who buys this stuff? I have never seen anyone wearing anything remotely similar to what is on display in these windows.

From a mall walkers perspective you'd think the most important things in the world were expensive purses. There are tons of purses on display in store windows. Some stores make a real effort to always feature new merchandise, while others never change their displays at all. Although most stores don't open until noon on Sunday, there are already people inside many of the stores. They are dusting things with Swiffer dusters. They are having staff meetings. And they are stocking merchandise. I don't think I'd enjoy working in retail. It seems like a boring existence.

Dawn was ready to go on her Sunday outing when I returned from the mall. As usual, she was eager to get in the car and than panicked as soon as the car started to move. It was a little warm today, but Dawn got a chance to smell new things and I added another mile to my daily step total. We concluded our Sunday outing with ice cream cones and then returned home. The ice cream store always has a help wanted sign outside. There must be a high turnover. 

I finally got started on my article about the AX-2 launch this afternoon. It seemed like a better alternative than fixing the screen door. I made good progress on the article, but still have some work to do. I'll probably finish the article tomorrow and then send it to the magazine on Tuesday. There are several interesting launches this summer, but it might be a while before I return to Kennedy Space Center. Until I can find a publication that actually pays for travel expenses, I need to watch my budget. The cost of everything continues to go up and these trips are getting expensive.

One of the UPS battery back up power sources for the computers in the office has gone bad. Do I replace this thing, or just do without it? After my last trip to the battery store, I'm reluctant to replace expensive batteries again. Batteries are the bane of my existence. They never last as long as I expect. I don't know what people who buy electric cares are thinking. None of these people have had the cars long enough to experience the frustration of battery replacement. It's still much easier for me to just go to the gas station.

I guess Memorial Day is tomorrow. This is a confusing holiday. For decades Memorial Day was always observed on May 30. Then somewhere along the line the date got changed to the last Monday in May so Federal employees could get a three day holiday. I'm glad Christmas is always on December 25. I have trouble remembering dates that change like Memorial Day and Easter.

Sam is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Day 4902

Just another grocery day. The day started as always with Dawn's sunrise walk. It was nice and cool this morning. I wish the temperature would stay in the low 70's for the rest of the summer, but of course that's not going to happen. I'd better enjoy this weather while it lasts, because in a month from now it's going to feel a lot different.

When we returned to the house we had a big weekend breakfast. I couldn't eat like this all the time, but it's nice to have a change of pace from my shredded wheat and fruit. Shredded wheat was on my grocery list today, but I still couldn't find any at HEB. Hopefully they'll have my favorite brand back in stock before I run out. I found everything else easy enough and was back at the house by 11 AM. I've discovered that the stores aren't nearly as crowded if I go shopping an hour earlier. Probably a lot of things would be easier if I did everything an hour earlier.

By the time I was ready for my long walk it had warmed up quite a bit. It wasn't uncomfortable though because it was still overcast outside. It always feels cooler when there is no direct sunlight. There were no ducks to count today. The Muscovy Ducks have been gone for several weeks, but the geese were gone today as well. I have no idea where the geese went. I'm not even sure that these domestic geese can fly. I thought that breaking in a new pair of Hoka shoes would ease my foot pain, but the new shoes haven't made much difference. Some days are good and other days are terrible. There's no point in going to a doctor about this. I've seen the orthopedic specialist several times and it's pretty obvious that I have arthritis.

I was going to work on my AX-2 article this afternoon, but never got around to it. I've managed to convince myself that there is no point in finishing the article until the eight day mission is complete and the Dragon capsule splashes down in the Gulf of Mexico on June 1st. Hey, I've still got plenty of time.

I resisted the urge to do another load of laundry this afternoon. I think my obsession with doing laundry is why our water bill has gone up. I hate to think what the water bill is going to be like in July when we are watering the lawn again. Actually, all the utility bills have gone up this year, but what else is new. It's just another sign of the times.

It's supposed to rain tomorrow, but I think we'll still be able to take Dawn on her Sunday outing. The rain isn't supposed to start until later in the afternoon. There has been no appreciable rain since the new roof was completed. I'm curious to see how well it drains. I'd be real disappointed if there is still standing water up there after all this trouble. I'll go to the mall again in the morning. Mall walking is another thing that would benefit from starting an hour earlier. I went earlier last week and the place was almost empty. 

I really need to make an effort to work on my article tomorrow. I need to put a new screen on the screen door at the back of the house as well. I've got a roll of screen wire. I just don't have the energy to do this anymore. Usually after my walks all I want to do is take a nap.

Libby is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, May 26, 2023

Day 4901

Today was uneventful. I mostly thought about doing things instead of actually doing them. I didn't make much progress on my article today and tried to avoid projects around the house. Considering how little I accomplished, it was amazing how the day went so quickly.

It's a good thing that we always take an early walk with Dawn. I think this walk is as important for me as it is for her. I'm always sleepy when we get started, but wide awake by the time we return. Without the walk, I'd probably get up later every day and accomplish even less. The sunrise walks provide a structure that gets the day headed in the right direction. Dawn is always full of energy and is eager to walk in the morning, but as soon as we return to the house, she immediately goes back to the bedroom and goes to sleep again. Not a bad life if you ask me.

I made the bed and ate breakfast, but had no plan for the day at all. When I can't think of anything to do, I do laundry. While the washer was running I did a little research for my SpaceFlight article and came up with a title for the article. That's as far as I got. Maybe I need a deadline. 

It was quiet on my long walk today. I didn't see many cyclists or joggers. I also didn't see a lot of ducks. The Muscovy Ducks at Sunset Bay have all disappeared. There were five of them earlier this Spring. Three disappeared about a month ago and now the final two are gone as well. I wonder what happened? The two large males have been a fixture at Sunset Bay for many years. There is no sign of the eagles as well. The park department finally acknowledged that the pair is not nesting this year and will take down the fencing that surrounded their old nest. They might as well take down the "Do not disturb" signs around the tree with the baby owls as well. I think the owls have flown away.

I"m not really a birder, but the birds and waterfowl are really the only things of interest on these walks. The construction activity that took place earlier this year is finished now and most of the animals are hiding. I used to see a lot of rabbits, but sightings are rare now. I seldom see coyotes or even hear them howl anymore. Maybe some of these animals have moved on now that the park has become a popular recreation destination. The place has changed a lot in recent years.

My pace slowed down a lot today. It's a mystery why my walks are not more consistent. Some days I'm reasonably fast. On other days I move at a crawl. Oddly, I'm usually faster on days when I'm busy and reasonably tired. The way I react to temperature is strange as well. The temperature in the house is always the same, but I'm usually hot in the mornings and cold in the evenings. I'm almost always hot when I'm out walking. I appreciate consistency, but life often seems random.

This week has gone quickly. I returned from Florida on Monday but that already seems like ages ago. It's time to make a grocery list again. The stores will probably be crowded since it's going to be a holiday weekend. A long weekend won't change much for me. My routine will be exactly the same. I really need to make an effort to finish my article this weekend. My memories of the launch are already starting to fade.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Day 4900

There are only 100 days left before I reach my goal. I've thought about continuing the blog after I reach my 5000 day goal, but I probably won't. Writing something even halfway coherent for 5000 consecutive days is a long time and I'm running out of things to say. It's probably time to put this thing to bed. I have surprisingly few readers after all this time, but a large audience was never my goal. I just wanted to see if I could do this and it looks like I can.

I was finally able to renew my driver's license today. It took two pairs of rather expensive glasses and a new eye exam, but I'm good for another five years. I ordered new glasses yesterday, but the prescription I had on hand was for progressive lenses and the Lencrafter store couldn't fill it in-house. This pair of glasses won't be ready for ten days. I got a second pair of simple distance-only glasses today and took them with me to the DMV. 

Before I could take a new eye test I needed a doctor to fill out a one page DMV form. Seems easy enough, but I couldn't get an appointment with my regular doctor for over a month. My license would have expired by then. I found another eye doctor at the mall and was able to get a same day appointment as a walk in patient. I actually liked this doctor better than my regular doctor. She said my eyes weren't really that bad and that I should have been able to pass a DMV eye test without glasses. I already knew this, but a lot of good that does me now. 

I guess I needed glasses anyway, but truthfully I can't tell any difference wearing them. Maybe things look a little sharper, but I could be imagining things. I kept looking at signs, taking the glasses on and off and the signs all looked the same. I passed the eye test easily when I returned to the DMV. Oddly, the line of letters they had me read today was larger than the ones on the test I failed yesterday. When I asked about this the examiner said that they always have people without glasses read a smaller line. Made absolutely no sense to me. Oh, well. I'm done now and ready for my next encounter with government bureaucracy. As long as my new license doesn't get lost in the mail, I'm good to go.

All in all, it was a very busy day. I finished mowing the grass in the front yard after breakfast this morning. The new mower batteries make a big difference. My fear was that the new batteries wouldn't last any longer than the old ones and I'd have to buy a new mower anyway. I guess I'm good to go on the mower for a while as well.

I still found time for a long walk today. I kind of wish I had a 5000 day goal on long walks as well. I'm getting tired of walking six miles a day. The walks make a difference though. I'm in a lot better shape than many people my age and long walks are conducive to daydreaming. Walking is exercise for lazy people. I still prefer long walks to going to the gym, even though it would do me a lot of good to start lifting weights again. Maybe one of these days I'll be motivated enough to do both.

Tomorrow I need to write my article about the AX-2 launch. If I wait much longer I'll forget everything.

Ranger is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Day 4899

Good grief. I failed the eye exam this afternoon and the DMV won't renew my license until I get glasses. Jeez. I've never worn glasses in my life, but I guess things change. Up until a year or two ago I had 20/20 vision. At my last eye exam, the doctor said my vision had deteriorated and wrote me a prescription. He didn't seem alarmed though and said it was up to me whether I wanted to get it filled immediately. "Fill the prescription if you start having trouble seeing things," he told me. I promptly forgot about the prescription because I thought my vision was fine.

I think I got cheated at the DMV because the lady renewing my license just held up an eye chart card behind her desk in a slightly darkened room. If the chart had been illuminated better I think I would have passed the test. You don't argue with the DMV though. I went home and looked through piles of paper until I found the prescription. Luckily it hadn't expired yet. I went to a Lenscrafters store in the mall, picked out some frames and got the prescription filled. At first I though that I was going to walk out of the store in an hour with new glasses because they had an in-house lab. Nope. It wasn't going to be that easy. It turns out that my eye doctor wrote me a prescription for progressive lenses. Not only are progressive lenses much more expensive, they are also more difficult to grind and must be sent out to another lab. 

Janet says progressive lenses are hard to get used to and I probably should have found an optometrist to write me another prescription for simple distance only glasses. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow because it's going to take up to ten days to get the progressive lenses made. Ten days is cutting it close since my license expires soon. I still don't understand why I need the glasses. I can read all the road signs just fine.

The examiner didn't even ask for all the documents that I got out of the safe deposit box. I had everything she wanted right in my wallet. I hope I can get this mess resolved soon. You need a driver's license for just about everything these days. I certainly couldn't cover launches at Kennedy Space Center without one.

The rest of my day was fairly uneventful. We walked Dawn early in the morning, I ate my breakfast, and then I took my long walk. I made good time today and completed my walk five minutes earlier than I normally do. Ironically, my Fitbit said that I don't burn any more calories though. Sometimes I think the Fitbit is worthless. It measures the distance traveled fairly accurately, but the number of calories burned is all over the map. Some day when I'm slow it says I've burned a lot of calories. Other days when I'm feeling more active, I says I'm burning less. The sleep function never agrees with the Apple watch sleep function either.

I've got to pick up a bunch of prescription at the pharmacy tomorrow. Every time I get a physical exam my doctor renews everything whether I'm running low or not. I'd rather renew pills one at a time on an as needed basis, but I can never get the pharmacy and my doctor on the same page. I'll just have to find a place to put the new pills until the old pills run out. I guess I'll take all the driver's license documents back to the safe deposit box. They certainly weren't needed. 

Hopefully things will go smoother tomorrow. The weather was nice, but today wasn't a great day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Day 4898

Since I had to fast for my physical exam this morning I couldn't have my morning coffee or breakfast. It showed. I felt like I had no energy for the rest of the day. Of course this might have been some sort of jet lag effect from my trip. I never get much sleep on these launch trips. The exam went well though. The doc thinks I'm in great shape for my age. Of course "for my age" probably just means that I can still move around without using a walker.

I wish now that I'd asked the doctor about all the bug bites I've got. They're horrible. I think Florida mosquitos are much worse than Texas mosquitos. I get bites like this every time I visit Kennedy Space Center because I'm outside a lot. Since the bites don't go away quickly and I'm a terrible hypochondriac, I always worry that I've caught some strange disease. Were there bedbugs in the hotel? Did I eat tainted food? Did I sit next to the wrong person on the plane? Of course not. These almost have to be mosquito or chigger bites because I've experienced the same thing every time I go to Florida. The bites usually go away in about a week.

On the way back from the doctor I had to stop at the bank and get some documents out of my safe deposit box for tomorrow's driver's license renewal. Something must have changed in the law because I've never needed so much documentation before. I used to just renew my license by mail. The weird thing is that I already have a Real ID, so DPS should know exactly who I am. The letter I got for my appointment said to bring two forms of ID to prove I'm a US citizen, two forms of ID to prove I'm a Texas resident, an original Social Security card, and the title to my car. I've had numerous background checks run on me since I visit military bases to watch launches. Seems very strange that it's easier to visit high security areas at Kennedy Space Center than it is to get a Texas driver's license. At any rate, I've got a pile of documents now and hope I have everything I need. I definitely don't want to have to do this again.

When I returned home I mowed the grass in the back yard and then I took my long walk. The yard looks much better now, although there are still a few dead spots where the roofers left pallets of material while they were working. The grass will grow back quickly and I'll have to mow again pretty quickly as well. At least the new batteries I bought for the mower worked. I'll try to mow the front yard tomorrow.

I finally threw away my worn out Hoka shoes and broke in a new pair on my long walk today. These shoes are comfortable and help with my foot pain, but I sure wish they lasted longer. I've had hiking boots that can be resoled for a lifetime, but any type of sneaker is basically a throw away item. If you're active, you're lucky if they last a year. I was exceptionally slow on my walk today. I got started late and the  weather was hotter than I expected. My feet bothered me as well, but mostly I was just tired. I mentioned to the doctor this morning that I don't have as much energy as I used to. He just laughed and told me I was getting old.

Maybe Dawn did miss me while I was gone. She seems a little friendlier toward me now. One of these days we'll finally be friends. Hopefully there will be no problems with my driver's license renewal tomorrow. I need that license to travel. I also need to get started on my Axiom-2 article soon. There is no rush deadline this time, but I promised my editor that I'd get him something by Friday. Right now I just need to get some sleep.