Thursday, September 29, 2022

Day 4662

Today was disappointing. The rent has gone up again on my storage unit and the washing machine broke. The storage warehouse increases rates every year. All storage warehouses do this. This is why I moved several years ago. Now my rent is even more than it was at the last storage warehouse when it became too expensive. I hate to move again because it is a giant pain. Janet says I ought to just throw everything in the storage unit away. That's not easy for me either.

The irritating thing about the washing machine is that I may have caused the problem myself. I decided to wash the hat I always wear when I walk in the park. The old hat was filthy. I was going to put the hat inside a lingerie bag but I couldn't find one, so I just threw it in with the rest of the laundry. I was kind of worried that the bill of the ball cap might get bent by throwing it in the washer, but I never thought the whole hat would fall apart. When the washer stopped in mid-cycle with an error code that indicated a clogged filter, I unloaded the soggy wash and discovered that parts of the hat had completely disappeared. Who knows how this happened but I bet those missing pieces are stuck in the machine's filter. I'd clean the filter myself if it were accessible. It's buried away inside the machine somewhere. I called the appliance repair shop but my favorite technician doesn't work there anymore. Hopefully whoever replaced him knows what they are doing. It's always something. I was dreading the annual maintenance costs for my car and now I've got an appliance repair bill on top of that.

The web worms in the park keep getting worse. Janet and I have to check each others clothing after our sunrise walk to make sure we aren't bringing any of the little green worms inside with us. Typically a few worms escape our scrutiny and I'll see them crawling on my shirt while I'm eating breakfast. They say the infestation should be over in two or three weeks. It won't come a minute too soon.

I don't know how the people in Florida can handle all the devastation they are currently facing. I think the worst that has ever happened at our house was a broken water pipe under our concrete slab that flooded the AC vents under the floor. A tree fell on our house once, but it didn't do any real damage. It's a good thing we've been lucky because I don't handle major problems well. I get the problems fixed, but they put me in a bad mood for weeks. Even something as minor as a broken washing machine can ruin my day.

At least the weather was nice today. It's easy to avoid the web worms when I'm taking my long walk in the park, but it's dark when we take Dawn on her sunrise walk and she often leads us right through them. Dawn is a creature of habit and it's easier to walk through the web worms than it is to get her to take a new route. I wasn't very fast on my walk this morning. My feet are slowing me down again. I think the recurring foot pain is going to be around forever. It's not bad enough to stop walking, but it sure is irritating. 

For some reason Southwest Airlines has only refunded half my airfare from the canceled Florida flights. I did change my reservation from September 27 to October 2, but I didn't think that would complicate a refund. I suspect that the rest of the money will turn up in a few days, but today the missing funds were just one more source of irritation.

I finally tested the remote shutter app for the Olympus camera. It works, but is not nearly as convenient as the remote shutter app for the Panasonic camera. Both of these apps connect to the camera using WiFi, but it's not easy to get the Olympus camera to connect. I guess I'll keep using the Panasonic camera for rocket launches.

I've taken this week's trash out to the curb and I've got an appointment for a haircut tomorrow. Getting a haircut usually puts me in a good mood for a while. I could have used a haircut today.

Sweet Pea is today's Dalmatian of the Day


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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Day 4661

I'm glad I'm not in Florida now. Ian is really a terrible storm. I was listening to the weather channel this morning and one of the reporters said "I don't know how we're going to get out of here when this is over. We all have rental cars and our cars got swept away." The storm looks like it is headed straight toward Orlando now. Whenever I do return, I have a feeling that rental cars are going to be in short supply. I hope there is no serious damage at the space center. All upcoming launches, including Crew-5 have been postponed.

The weather was beautiful here in Dallas. We had another enjoyable sunrise walk with Dawn. I've really got to watch out for those little green worms. They're everywhere. Even when I tried my best to avoid them, I found a few on my jacket when I returned home. I'm glad we don't have any Hackberry trees. These things seems to be killing Hackberry trees in the park.

I was mesmerized by the hurricane coverage on TV while I was eating breakfast. Whenever there is a hurricane, I wonder why people continue to live on the beach. You are basically a sitting duck when you live on the beach and a hurricane is headed your way. I guess you are a sitting duck when a tornado is headed your way as well, but tornados are much smaller. If there's a tornado in the area, chances are reasonably good that it will miss you. Since  it was still cool outside after breakfast, I took another long walk in the park. It's really starting to feel like Fall. The trees are starting to turn and the days are noticeably cooler. I like Fall. The only trouble with this season is that it doesn't last very long. I hope I can stop mowing the grass soon. I've never liked mowing the grass.

Several people have reported seeing eagles in the park again. I keep looking for them on my walks but haven't seen anything. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It took me a long time to spot the two eagles the first time they arrived at the park. I'm not even sure these are the same eagles, or if there are any eagles at all. Somebody could have easily just posted an old picture on Facebook just to stir things up. I'll keep watching though. I'd still like to get some really good pictures.

I guess I need to take my car in for service. The "service required" light is still showing on my dashboard and it's starting to irritate me. I've grown to hate these annual Land Rover service visits. There never seems to be anything wrong with the car, but they always seem to find something very expensive that needs immediate attention. I'd like a car that never needed attention. I'd like a house that never needed attention as well. I've really grown tired of fixing things.

Dawn did well at training class tonight. She didn't win any ribbons this week, but Janet said her trainer thinks she is doing really well and wants her to move on the the advanced class.  I'm glad Dawn enjoys these classes. They are helping her become a normal dog.

Spanky is today's Dalmatian of the Day


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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Day 4660

Not a lot happened today. It was still dark when we started our sunrise walk with Dawn. There were other people in the park, but you could only see the lights they wore. Some people carried flashlights. Others wore headlamps and some even put little lights on their shoes. A lot of dogs had lighted collers. We used to have a little red light that would clip on Dawn's collar, but it got lost on a walk over a year ago. You don't really need these lights very long. The predawn sky brightens quickly. I could see Orion in the South with Mars overhead and Jupiter setting in the West as we left the house. By the time we arrived home it was daylight.

I discovered where the little green worms were coming from this morning. There is a tree I often pass under on our morning walks with hundreds of the things dangling from thin weblike threads. I must have walked through this mess the other day and didn't even realize it. Evidently the city is infested with these little green caterpillars this Fall. They seem to favor Hackberry trees.

The temperature was nice and cool today, so I took my long walk instead of going to the gym. Our Fall typically doesn't last very long, but I hope this weather continues. It's rare that the temperature is just right in Texas. Today was perfect. I could walk without getting hot and sweaty, but I didn't need a coat either.

It doesn't look like there is going to be an Artemis launch until mid to late November, but I still feel compelled to check on the rocket every day. Overnight they rolled the rocket back to the Vertical Assembly Building where it is safely stowed away. With the hurricane's path moving to the East, there is a chance that the storm will pass directly over the space center now. By the time Ian reaches the space coast it will be a lot weaker, but it will still be quite a storm. It's a good thing I'm not traveling to Florida this week. I've heard that they might even close the airport in Orlando soon.

My seasonal allergies keep getting worse. I'm not sure what causes these allergies, but it doesn't make any difference whether I'm indoors or out. Either way I'm always blowing my nose. The nasal congestion is irritating but I'm used to it by now. I've had seasonal allergies for years. I really appreciate the few weeks each year when the allergies completely go away.

I was thinking about learning some new features on one of my cameras today, but when the time came, I had already lost interest. Modern digital cameras will do a lot of things that people like me seldom use. I basically shoot the same way I used to with my old Nikon film cameras. The only controls I use are shutter speed and f-stop. I wish manufacturers would invent a way to insure perfect focus at night. That's always a tricky one for me.

I wish Dawn would warm up to me. Janet was gone this afternoon and every time I came in the bedroom, Dawn would leave. We both like to nap. It's a shame that it's so hard to do this together. I don't think Dawn will ever completely trust men.

Sophie is today's Dalmatian of the Day


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Monday, September 26, 2022

Day 4659

NASA finally decided to move Artemis back to the VAB, so I guess someone eventually realized that launching on October 2nd wasn't a good idea. Hurricane Ian is moving slower than expected, so what is left of the hurricane might still be in the area at the end of the month. 

As soon as the rollback to the VAB was announced this morning I canceled all my reservations. I wonder why so many companies are so eager to take your money as soon as you make a reservation? Rental car companies don't demand payment until you pick up the car, but airlines charge you immediately. So does Airbnb. Everyone would rather offer you a credit toward future travel than refund your money. I think I'll get a full refund for everything, but it will be several days before the money shows up in my account. If there is a silver lining to this mess, it is that I can now afford to take my car in for service. I don't think Artemis will be ready for another launch attempt until late November.

It was really pleasant on our sunrise walk with Dawn, but I could tell it was going to warm up quickly as soon as the rising sun hit my face. I guess I could have tried walking in the park right after breakfast, but I decided to go to the gym because Janet likes me out of the house when she is cleaning. It took a while to get my reservations sorted out and then I did a few small chores while I was waiting for the best time to leave. I swept the pecans from the neighbor's tree off the front porch and walkways and then pried the broken atrium door open so I could clean up the atrium. I still can't find anyone to fix the oversize sliding glass door. It may stay broken like this forever.

I stayed a little longer at the gym today and spent some extra time working with free weights. It's true what the say about muscle atrophy as you get older. It's really hard for me to build back any muscle at all in my arms. You'd think my legs would be really strong with all the walking I do, but they could use some work as well. I don't think I'll ever have to worry about getting fat, but I may have to worry about turning into a skeleton. I need to come up with a better way to build back muscle.

I watched the DART asteroid redirect mission on NASA TV while I was fixing dinner this evening. I didn't realize until recently that the DART acronym meant Double Asteroid Redirection Test. Artemis might be a dismal failure, but at least NASA can get some things right. It seemed amazing to me that the DART spacecraft could score a direct hit on the tiny Dimorphos asteroid orbiting the slightly larger Didymos when the pair is millions of miles from Earth.

When we returned from our sunrise walk this morning I discovered that I had tiny green worms or caterpillars in my hair. This was disgusting. I think these things are called cankerworms because you often find them in Oak trees, but this is the wrong time of year for them. They usually hatch in March or April. At any rate, I took a shower to make sure I got rid of the things. I was surprised at how many fell out of my hair.

With no trip on the agenda and waning interest in the star tracker, I'm not sure what to do next. It gets old if the high point in your day is a walk you've taken a thousand times before. Janet thinks I ought to do volunteer work like she does, but that's not for me. I kind of enjoyed being in demand as a website developer, but that's ancient history now. I guess I'd better start planning another trip.

Suki is today's Dalmatian of the Day


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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Day 4658

No hurricanes in Texas, but we did get some thunderstorms this afternoon. As usual, the rain missed our house. It always does. We still had to use the sprinklers to water the grass this evening. It's a different story down in Florida. Everyone in the state seems to be preparing for the approaching storm except for the folks at NASA. The Artemis rocket is still sitting out on the pad. What are they waiting for? The odds of a sucessful launch on October 2nd are practically zero by now. My guess is that Artemis will be loaded on the crawler and will be headed back to the VAB sometime tomorrow. I haven't canceled my reservations yet, but I suspect that I will be doing that tomorrow as well.

I didn't have to cancel anything today. It was a regular Sunday that started with a Sunrise walk and ended with ice cream. Janet fixed a nice Sunday breakfast and then I headed for the mall for my Sunday morning walk. For some reason I wasn't allowed in the entrance I regularly use. I was told that this entrance was only for store managers now and that walkers needed to use a different entrance about a quarter of a mile away. Whatever. I came here to walk anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. I have no idea why Northpark has designated entrances now. It must make sense to somebody. Probably a group of very bureaucratic people sat around for weeks discussing the idea in staff meetings.

The store windows are already filled with heavy Winter clothes. Why? It never gets that cold in Texas. I think the mall gardeners must have bought every pumpkin in Dallas. There were massive displays of pumpkins artfully displayed throughout the mall. I've never seen pumpkins and gourds in so many different colors. I didn't even know that green pumpkins were a thing, but I certainly saw lots of them today. I shouldn't make fun of the elaborately decorated mall. It's always a very pleasant place to get my steps.

I though it would be too hot to take a walk on Dawn's Sunday outing, but the skies were overcast and there was a breeze, so we gave it a try. We made a one mile loop around Dawn's Sunday park and then we headed for the ice cream store. I think Dawn was a little tired, but not as tired as I was. I don't do well walking off pavement anymore. My feet hurt and my balance isn't as good as it used to be. Dawn loves all the new smells though, and it is her day.

I was really surprised to hear thunder this afternoon. I wasn't expecting rain since the weather forecast showed nothing but clear skies for the next week. Actually we didn't get any rain in our neighborhood but it was all around us. I'm glad we were able to take Dawn on her Sunday outing while it was still nice outside. 

When I'm busy in the morning there is often nothing to do in the afternoon. I spent an inordinate amount of time searching for information about the Artemis team's plans for the hurricane. Nothing. Probably putting out press releases is the least of their worries now. I heard somebody wonder what happens if the crawler breaks down on the way back to the VAB tomorrow and is stuck outside when the hurricane arrives The crawler is over 50 years old and every time they move Artemis several of the treads fall off the tracks. It's hard to predict what is going to happen next. The hurricane isn't going away though. This weekend I was putting on some sandals and got stung by a bee that was inside the sandals. I certainly wasn't expecting that. I wish NASA luck. They're probably going to need it.

Rosie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Day 4657

I canceled all my reservations for the 27th and made new reservations for October 2nd. Will Artemis actually launch on the 2nd? I kind of doubt it. There's a good chance it will roll back to the VAB tomorrow and sit there for weeks. It doesn't hurt to be optimistic though. I can always cancel the reservations if Artemis has to return to the VAB. One good thing about the October 2nd date is that my favorite Airbnb is available again. I can't imagine leaving Artemis out on the pad with a hurricane approaching but stranger things have happened. NASA really wants to launch this thing. It will be interesting to see what takes place tomorrow.

The park was busy this morning. This always happens on a weekend. We have to stay alert so Dawn doesn't get run over by bicycles. The weather was nice and Dawn enjoyed her walk. We got a later start this morning and the sun was already up. You could tell that it was going to warm up quickly. It felt like it would make more sense to go to the gym today.

I got a late start on my grocery shopping because I needed to change all my reservations as soon as I heard that the launch attempt on the 27th had been canceled. I've finally learned to act fast whenever there is a schedule change. Every other journalist covering the launch was probably doing exactly the same thing this morning.

With my reservations in order again I went to get groceries. The stores were crowded, but this was probably just because I got a late start today. I'm sure they're like this every week. I filled my tank on the way back from the store. Gas is less expensive now. The decrease in gas prices wasn't enough to offset the increase in food prices unfortunately. Food prices keep going up.

The gym was almost empty today. I did my normal routine and came home. I should probably try a little harder to improve myself when I'm at the gym. I just do the same things over and over again. On many days I don't even work up a sweat or elevate my heart rate much. I do get my steps though, and I guess that is the whole point for me.

My task for the afternoon was defrosting the little refrigerator. We got this refrigerator after a power outage years ago. It's small enough that it can be easily powered by our generator. It's weird that this simple little dorm room refrigerator seems essential now. We use it every day.

Tomorrow I'll probably go mall walking again and then we'll take Dawn on her Sunday outing. Since the weather is getting cooler now, we might be able to take a real walk. If not, there's always ice cream.

Scout is today's Dalmatian of the Day


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Friday, September 23, 2022

Day 4656

With a developing hurricane headed straight toward Florida, I fully expected NASA to postpone the Artemis launch today. Nope. They just kicked the can down the road, saying that they were closely monitoring the situation. I haven't canceled my reservations yet, but I probably will tomorrow. Flying into Orlando at the same time everyone else is trying to leave just doesn't seem very smart. It takes three days to roll the Artemis rocket back to the VAB, so NASA will need to make a decision soon. You can tell that these guys are trying really hard to avoid moving the rocket again. I'm sure they realize that after another bumpy journey back to the VAB, it will probably start leaking again.

The weather was fine here in Dallas. We had a very nice sunrise walk with Dawn. The temperature was in the mid-70's. The humidity was low. And there was a nice breeze. I didn't even think about going to the gym today. Even before breakfast I could tell that it was going to be a good day for a walk in the park.

After breakfast I checked my messages and got ready to change all my reservations. There wasn't any news yet though, so I went on my long walk. The trees are definitely starting to show some Fall color now.   I saw lots of Great Egrets today and the American White Pelicans are growing in number.  I didn't see the Muscovy Ducks this morning. After all these years I still don't know where they hide.

I returned to the house in time to catch an audio teleconference where the Artemis team was going to review their options going forward. There were lots of questions about why the team was moving forward toward a launch on the 27th when the weather was clearly deteriorating. Right now there is an 80% chance of a weather violation on launch day and the forecast is getting worse. The Artemis team clearly wants to keep their options open though and hope for the best. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I think they are running out of time.

I hate that my seasonal allergies have returned. I'm blowing my nose all the time now. I feel like I have inhaled pepper and at night I get nasal congestion and end up breathing through my mouth. This means that I don't sleep as well. I wake up with a dry mouth and have to go to the kitchen to drink some water. When I go on my long walk I have to stuff my pockets with Kleenex. If memory serves, these allergy problems aren't going away soon. I"m going to have a runny nose for the next several months.

I did some little chores around the house this afternoon, but didn't feel like attempting anything ambitious. I watered the plants in the atrium, tested the generator to make sure it was still working, and cleaned a toilet. I didn't do a load of laundry today because I already did that yesterday. I really should have gone ahead and canceled my reservations. I can't imagine that the launch will take place on the 27th, but what do I know. NASA has access to the best weather forecasters in the world. Maybe they know something I don't.

I don't have a big grocery list this week, but I'll still go to the store tomorrow morning. I'll probably go to the gym tomorrow afternoon. I think I've walked in the park enough this week. Hopefully NASA will make a final decision about the launch sometime tomorrow as well. I think Saturday is the last day I can cancel everything without penalties.

Sage is today's Dalmatian of the Day


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Thursday, September 22, 2022

Day 4655 - Autumnal Equinox

It's officially Fall. I'm more than ready. With a record setting string of 100 degree days, this Summer was brutal. Hopefully, the cooler weather will bring lower electric bills. I'm not terribly confident though. Nothing seems to go down in price these days. The first day of Fall got off to a good start with our sunrise walk this morning. Not only was it nice and cool outside, the humidity was low as well. Cooler weather always puts me in a better mood. Sometimes this doesn't last very long, but I'll take what I can get.

Since the weather was nice, I took my long walk in the park instead of going to the gym. I kind of miss all the construction that was going on this Summer. It gave me something to look at and speculate about while I was walking. Now I'm back to counting ducks again. When I arrived at the lake I saw our five resident geese swimming toward Sunset Bay. The bay was several miles away at the time, but the geese beat me there. I've been watching these geese for years and I've never actually seen them fly. Since they appear to be domestic geese, I wonder if they can fly. The two resident Muscovy ducks that hang out with these geese can definitely fly. They have large wingspans and are quite impressive when in the air.

I still walk faster outdoors than I do at the gym. I suspect that this is because the first two-thirds of my walk are downhill. When I measure the final uphill climb to get back home, my pace slows considerably. Surprisingly, there are still quite a few wildflowers in the park. The Purple Asters are in bloom. So are Clematis, Goldenrod, and Water Primrose. The only bad thing about walking in the Fall is that my seasonal allergies are back. There are only about two months a year where I am free of allergy problems. My Spring allergies last into Summer and my Fall allergies last into Winter.

It's getting frustrating that NASA still hasn't announced an official date for the next Artemis launch attempt. They are already hedging their bets on the 27th by calling this a "tentative" launch date.  We've been issued instructions about when and where to pick up our credentials for the 27th though. I really expect that the date will change but I haven't canceled my reservations yet. I'm superstitious. If I canceled my reservations, this would almost guarantee that the launch would take place on the 27th. Maybe I'll hear some news tomorrow. I remember hearing that the launch team would make a final decision before the end of the week. When does the week end though? I can't even remember.

I think my interest in astronomy might be waning. Mars is approaching opposition and getting brighter every month. Jupiter is the closest it has been to earth in 70 years. I still haven't gotten out my telescope to view either of these planets though. Mars rises in the East around midnight but I've got no excuse for Jupiter. I could probably go outside right now and see it if I wanted. My main excuse is mosquitos. We've got lots of mosquitos at night now. I'm also just tired. As soon as I finish writing my blog post all I want to do is go to sleep.

When I took this weeks trash out to the curb this evening I noticed that the city had picked up the bulky trash piles on the street sometime this afternoon. I was going to add a few things to our pile, but I guess I'll have to wait until next month. Will I go to the gym tomorrow or take another long walk? Either way, it's probably the only decision I'll make all day.

Sadie is today's Dalmatian of the Day


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