Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Day 4534

It's a little late, but the rain has finally arrived. I spent most of the day trying to avoid getting wet but I guess you can't avoid it forever. I did manage to get my long walk finished before the storms started and Dawn got her walk as well. Now we wait for the roof to start leaking. We've got quite a downpour right now and the pumps on the roof aren't working. It's not a good combination.

Other than waiting for the rain to start, it was a pretty slow day. I discovered that the shower drain was clogged when I was taking a shower today. I wish I'd discovered this before I was actually in the shower and already wet. I had to get dressed so I could go outside and get my tools to snake out the drain before I could continue. Water is not my friend. Between running toilets, slow drains, and leaking roofs, I've had just about all the water problems I can handle.

Dawn must have know that the weather was about to change because she refused to take a sunrise walk. It wasn't raining, but the ground was wet. That's all it takes with her. Luckily, Janet was able to give her a walk in the afternoon before the next round of storms hit. I think Dawn is much better at forecasting the weather than the apps on my phone. Yesterday they said the rain would start last night and continue all day today. The forecast was only off by 12 hours.

I wasn't feeling lucky today, so I postponed updating the star tracker app on my phone. It was tempting because there wasn't much else to do today, but I kept remembering that the last time I updated this app was when all my camera connection problems started. One of these days I'm going to have to deal with this. My phone keeps wanting to update apps automatically when they become available. I've had to disable this function and update apps manually, being careful to avoid the Benro app.

I wish I could get the pumps to work without going up on the roof. Sometimes when the extension cords to the pumps are under water for too long they short out and throw a circuit breaker. Other times, leaves and dirt clog the pumps and need to be cleaned out. Unfortunately, you never know that something is wrong until after it starts raining. Oh, well. It is what is is. I'd better go get the buckets ready. It will be a miracle if we don't get a leak tonight.

My problems always seem so minor whenever I turn on the news. I guess that's why I don't like listening to the news anymore. I often feel like I am witnessing the total collapse of society. If you are even a casual student of history you realize that all civilizations come to an end at some point. We've had a good run, but we may be nearing the end of ours. I wonder what the next Middle Ages will be like? Probably a bit like BladeRunner. I may be wrong but I keep thinking that globalization is behind many of the problems we are seeing today. Just because something is too big to fail doesn't prevent failure. It almost guarantees it. The world would be a better place if there were lots of tiny little powerless civilizations, all completely independent of each other. If one fails or goes haywire, the rest just continue on. Of course this wouldn't work in a world filled with jet planes and satellite phones. It wouldn't work if two tiny civilizations decided to join forces and take over a third tiny civilization either. Hey, I've got no answers. Maybe we just need a lot fewer people.

I hope this rain stops soon. I know that rain is a lot better than drought and wildfires, but water still makes me nervous.

Ziggy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, May 23, 2022

Day 4533

We're getting to know the remaining rescue Dalmatians pretty well. Each of these dogs has their own distinctive personality. Charlie can go from calm to chaos in a fraction of a second. He's one of the smartest dogs we've known, but he definitely isn't a lap dog. He loves to show off and we've been able to teach him some amazing tricks. Oliver is a goofy clown who will fetch a toy or ball for hours. He's the only one who will bring the toy back to you so you can throw it again. Jo Jo is a gentle giant who prefers to be outdoors. He won't play in the indoor play area, but take him outside and it's a completely different story. He likes to hide his ball, even though it's always in plain sight. He's the only one who likes to climb up on a bench so you can pet him at eye level. Willie likes to play with a weird plastic ball that makes funny noises when it rolls along the floor. He prefers being petted to playing though. He's super affectionatee with people but doesn't seem to get along with other dogs. Rocket is a shy boy who is making amazing progress. He didn't even know how to play at first, but is definitely starting to enjoy playing with rope toys. They all love the treats we bring. It's a shame that these boys haven't been adopted yet. Each of their unique personalities would be perfect for some lucky person.

Today was unusually busy for a Monday. I paid some bills after breakfast and our early morning walk with Dawn. Then I shut off the computer and took the heavy uninterrupted power supply to the Interstate store to get the batteries replaced. I was hoping that the dead batteries would still be under warranty, but time flies and they were already two years old. No free batteries this time. I was amazed at how much prices had gone up since the last time I had to replace UPS batteries. The two batteries in the unit cost $95. That's more than double what the same batteries cost several years ago. Oh, well. One more sign that we are living in a crumbling, dystopian universe.

The weather was quite a bit cooler today and it would have been a good day to walk if my feet were cooperating. I joined Janet and Dawn on an afternoon walk after we returned from the kennel, but I felt like returning to the house with Dawn after she finished her short one mile loop. I did walk a little further, but not much. Even counting Dawn's two walks, I didn't even complete four miles today. Maybe I overdid things last week. Maybe my Hoka shoes are wearing out again. Who knows. My feet are definitely bothering me more than usual though.

Dawn is a funny monkey. When Janet is away she won't come out of the bedroom while I am fixing her dinner. I have to get everything ready and then return to the office before she will come out and eat. When Janet is home it's completely different story. She's a bossy little thing who is right out in the kitchen with me, barking at me constantly to hurry up and get her supper ready. I wish she was more comfortable being alone with me, but it is what it is. I'm sure Dawn has her reasons for all of this.

There has been rain in the forecast for several days, but I think it's finally going to start raining later tonight. I hope this current forecast is wrong because it shows an all day rain tomorrow which extends into Wednesday. It's a shame that we typically get all our rain for the year in one month. We've had plenty of rain lately and everything is green, but it will be bone dry again by July and August. An all day rain conjures up visions of roof leaks. I hope the pumps are still working.

There's already a new update for the star tracker. I'm afraid to install it though because it might break the fix the Benro folks sent me a few weeks ago. I'd hate to go back to square one again. I should leave well enough alone, but if I'm stuck inside on a rainy day, curiosity might get the better of me and I could end up installing the update anyway. Curiosity killed the cat, or so they say.

Willie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Day 4532

What a difference a day makes. Finally, a proper Spring day. The temperature was in the sixties for most of the day and there was a nice breeze. Dawn was pleased with the situation and so was I. This would have been a great day for walking, but my feet refused to cooperate. This was a bad day for foot pain. After our two walks with Dawn today, I really didn't feel like walking much further.

Dawn really enjoyed our Sunday outing today. I think she knows where we are going by our schedule or maybe by what we wear. It's weird to see a dog get so excited to get in a car she hates riding in. The ride is short fortunately and pretty soon she is back on the ground again, tugging at her leash and smelling everything in sight.

After our walk, we always go for ice cream. The ice cream place raised their prices about a month ago, but now the price has gone back to what it used to be. There must have been complaints. There's always more than one way to achieve your objective though. I noticed today that the cones are smaller than they used to be. The cones used to be filled all the way to the bottom and now there's just a scoop of ice cream on top and the cone itself is largely empty. I feel cheated. Maybe the price increase would have been better.

Today changing the sheets was on the agenda. Why has putting on a fitted sheet gotten so hard? I struggle with lifting the heavy mattress and tucking in the bottom sheet now. This never used to seem like a difficult task, but my wrists still ache hours later. Now I think I know why my Dad started just sleeping on the top of his bed after Mom passed away. It was probably too much trouble to make the bed. Janet says I need to go back to the gym because I'm losing my upper body strength. She's probably right.

Today's long walk was just a short walk through the neighborhood. A lot has changed over the years. One by one all the small frame houses are being torn down and replaced by McMansions. I wonder how people can afford these monster houses or why they even want them. Who really needs a third story on their house? I'm old enough that I don't even like the idea of stairs.

I feel perpetually tired these days. After every activity I feel like taking a nap. You'd think that after a number of short naps I wouldn't feel like sleeping at night. That isn't the case at all. I go to sleep quickly and sleep soundly. Sleeping has become one of my favorite activities. I'm starting to remember my dreams better than my daytime activities. I lived in Seattle for several years right after I graduated from college and I can't ever remember going to the grocery store there. How did I eat? I remember furniture stores and art galleries, but no grocery stores. Weird. The other day I was thinking about a production house that I used to use when I started my business. I went there frequently, but now I can't remember why. What client was I working for and why wasn't I doing the work in my own studio? I could go on and on. I still think I'm pretty sharp, but I'm sure I've lost a few brain cells along the way.

I guess I'm going to have to get the uninterrupted power supply fixed tomorrow. I've already lost one computer due to power surges and I don't want to lose another. The UPS is heavy and awkward though, so I'm not looking forward to this. I'm definitely going to have to take a nap after finishing this chore.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Day 4531

When I started seeing reports of people spending over $100 to fill their tanks, I didn't believe them. "How is that even possible," I thought. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that it would take more than $100 to fill my own tank when I got gas this morning. Yikes. This is a pretty steep increase from a year ago.

I stopped at the pharmacy on my way to the grocery store and sure enough, my doctor had renewed all my prescriptions again. "I don't need these yet," I told the pharmacist. "I won't need any of these for a very long time." I checked on the prices while I was there and all the meds were a lot cheaper using GoodRx. I really need to talk to my provider and find out why I have a prescription drug plan. Maybe I'm missing something, but it appears that I am paying a whole lot for nothing.

A lot of my favorite brands are being replaced by private labels at grocery stores. This started at Costco and Sam's Club, but other stores are doing it as well. The cost differences are often significant, but I have to wonder about the quality. I still believe that you usually get what you pay for. I don't really like this private label trend. I've been buying certain brands for years and it's frustrating when you can't find them anymore. Oh, well. I guess this is just one more sign that I'm growing old. I'm not a big fan of needless changes.

Today was another day where it was supposed to rain, but didn't. I took my long walk earlier today because I didn't want to get wet. I stayed dry. I think there is still rain in the forecast, but it hasn't arrived yet. All we got today was the humidity. It was hot and muggy all day. I should have just gone to the gym, but after I finished grocery shopping I didn't want to get in the car again. I was able to complete my full six mile route, but I can't say the walk was pleasant. Welcome to Summer.

Dawn was grumpy all day because she thought that Janet was gone too much. When I fixed her dinner this evening, she refused to come out of the bedroom and eat it. I knew she was hungry, but she stubbornly stayed in her room until Janet returned home. As soon as Janet arrived, she raced out to the kitchen and ate everything in a big hurry. Dawn is a strange combination of stubborn and scared. It's going to be a fun time when Janet goes on vacation next month.

I couldn't replace the batteries in my uninterrupted power supply this morning because the battery store is only open on weekdays. At least I remembered this before I unplugged everything and put the heavy UPS in my car. It's seems kind of quaint for a store to only be open Monday thru Friday, but that's the way it is. It will give me something to do next week, now that my problems with the star tracker seem to be over for a while.

I just looked at the temperature and it's dramatically colder than it was a few hours ago. Looks like it is going to get down in the high fifties overnight. It's hard to get used to Texas weather. It's like a roller coaster. You can be sweating one day and freezing the next. At least we aren't getting snow like they are in some parts of the country. I fantasize about a place where it is 70 degrees all year long. Does such a place even exist?

The big event tomorrow is Dawn's Sunday outing. It's a simple thing to drive to another park for a walk, but it sure beats mowing the lawn.

Casey is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, May 20, 2022

Day 4530

I didn't accomplish much today. I think I'm just avoiding things. I got a recall notice on my car and didn't bother to open it. I'm pretty sure it's the same recall notice I got six months ago. I called the dealership then, but they didn't have the part that needed to be replaced. They said they'd call me when the part was available. Never heard from them. I haven't looked at my blood test results either. My doctor said that they looked pretty good for the most part. I'll take him at his word. I got a call from my pharmacy, but I haven't gone to pick up the prescriptions yet. I have a feeling that my doctor called in new refills, even though I think I have enough pills to last me for the rest of the year. I keep telling them to wait on the prescription refills, but everything seems to be on automatic pilot.

These are all minor problems. There's plenty of bigger things that need attention. I need to call a roofer, a carpenter, a painter, and a tape & bed guy. A lot of stuff needs to be fixed around the house, but getting involved with contractors and repair people almost always leads to further problems. I'm tired of dealing with problems. I'd just as soon eat my breakfast, take my walk, and go back to bed. I kind of miss living in a hotel room.

I don't know why I continue to take long outdoor walks. It's hot and unpleasant out now. I should start these walks right after breakfast before the temperature gets too high, but I'm such a creature of habit that I keep doing things the same way I always have. Usually after I've walked about three miles I realize I've made a mistake and should have gone to the gym instead. Even Dawn doesn't want to stay outside in this weather. I often sit outside with her while she lounges in the sun. Lately, she just pees quickly and wants to go right back in the house. She's smarter than I am about the heat. She knows she's got a nice soft bed and the air conditioner is running well. What's not to like.

I'm dreading going grocery shopping tomorrow. The traffic is terrible. Prices are skyrocketing. And I need to get gas. Janet said gas prices have gone up again. It's a good thing I don't drive much because my car gets terrible gas mileage. We'll see how bad the damage is tomorrow. If I remember, I'll go to the pharmacy and pick up the pills I don't need, just so they will quit calling me. I need to get the batteries replaced in the computer UPS too. Do I even need a battery backup system for the computer? Probably not. I mostly use this thing to protect the computer from power surges. I'm tired of looking at the display that says I have 0 minutes of backup power remaining too.

One of the things I enjoyed most about going out to the observatory was that there are no radios or televisions at the Astronomer's Lodge. I have no desire to learn what is going on in the world when I'm out there. I think I could go a long time without listening to the news. I like the isolation of Mount Locke, but it's hard to duplicate in the city. You can't go ten minutes here without hearing sirens. I hear them every day on my walks. The constant police and fire sirens are a reminder that life in a city is filled with uncertainty. Was it always this way? I don't think so. Urban life has definitely gotten worse.

Our neighbor's fence has been falling down for a long time. I kept hoping that they'd just tear the fence down so we'd get a breeze again in our back yard again. Nope. Instead of tearing the fence down, they're building a taller one now. I wish I lived on a hundred acres in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors for miles. Of course then I'd have to deal with snakes and the occasional bears and mountain lions. I guess there are no easy solutions anywhere.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Day 4529

I had my semi-annual physical today. It seemed exactly the same as every other physical exam I've ever had. What medications are you taking? Same as always. Do you have any questions or concerns? Not really. My doctor wants me to continue to take baby aspirin despite the negative press it has received lately. He asked if I wanted a second Covid booster. I told him I didn't think I needed one. A nurse gave me an EKG. Another nurse took my blood. I gave them a urine sample and I was done. It looks like I'm still in pretty good shape. The doctor probably made some notes about cognitive decline though. I couldn't remember the names some of the specialists I've been seeing. I couldn't even remember the names of most of the medications I'm corrently taking. In fairness, how can anyone remember these long incomprehensible names? I did remember the color and shape of each pill though.

Medical exams are one of many things that make me think of the Ground Hog Day movie. So many things in life are exactly the same no matter how many times we experience them. We repeat these things over and over again. Whenever I brush my teeth, load the dishwasher, go to the post office, or even take my daily walks, I feel a sense of déjà vu. I've been here before.

I had to fast before my medical exam this morning, but that didn't prevent me from having breakfast when I returned. It was almost lunch time, but I still had a big glass of orange juice and a bowl of shredded wheat topped with fresh fruit. My doctor seems to approve of my long walks, so I took another one after I finished my late breakfast. I completed my full six mile route, but it took me a while. There just isn't much joy in walking in hot weather. I should start going back to the gym, but it's so much easier to head out the back door and start walking instead of driving all the way to the gym. Even when I'm exercising, I'm basically lazy.

The batteries have gone bad again in the backup UPS for my computers. I'll have to take the heavy UPS to the battery store and get the batteries replaced this weekend. I might as well have the lawn mower batteries replaced while I'm there. I think all these people buying electric cars are forgetting some very basic things about batteries. They don't really last that long and they can be quite expensive to replace. If you forget to remove the batteries from an unused item, they can leak and ruin your expensive gear. Batteries have always been my nemesis.

I watched the livestream of the Boeing Starliner launch this afternoon. I kind of wish I'd been down there. United Launch Alliance lets you get a lot closer to the pad to place remote cameras than Space X does. This was a daytime launch too, so the bugs aren't so bad. I always get eaten alive by mosquitos on night launches. Don't think I'll be traveling any time soon though. I paid my remaining travel bills today. Ouch. This is getting ridiculous.

I took the trash out to the curb this evening. This always marks the end of the week for me. Tomorrow I'll think about going out for breakfast, but will probably just stay home and have another bowl of shredded wheat. It's time to mow the grass again. I should call a lawn service, but I'll probably just continue doing it myself. Hey, it's good exercise. My doctor would probably approve.

Holly is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Day 4528

Yay. The star tracker is working again. I'm not sure what the Benro people did, but apparently their third try was the charm. The first two patches they sent me to fix the connectcion problem didn't work, but the one they sent me yesterday worked perfectly. I'm still curious how a routine firmware upgrade rendered my camera useless and what the Benro engineers did to fix the problem. I'll probably never know the whole story though. Communication with my Chinese contacts has been rudimentary at best.

Now that the star tracker is working again, I'll have to turn my attention elsewhere. There are a ton of things that need attention around the house, but most of them are beyond my ability. I can't put on a new roof by myself. I'm not a good carpenter. And I'm certainly not a plumber. Sadly, I'm not very good at delegating things either. It would be easier if I could do everything myself, because I don't tend to trust people.

I went out and voted after breakfast this morning. When I arrived at the polling place, I was greeted by a poll watcher who told me that the power was out and asked if I was scared of the dark. Hey, no problem. I actually kind of like the dark. The room where the voting machines were was completely dark. All I could see were the glowing screens of the machines. I was surprised that the place was even open, but they said the voting machines were running on backup power. I was led to a machine by a lady with a flashlight and I cast my ballot. If there was even a time to be suspicious about whether your vote counted, this might be it. There must have been some people scared of the dark, because it appeared that I was the only one in the room voting. Voting in a dark room was certainly easier than getting the star tracker to take pictures on a dark sky.

It looked like it was going to rain this morning when we took Dawn on her sunrise walk. The rain never came, but it did stay overcast for most of the day. The cloudy weather made it easier to take my long walk. I was able to complete my full six mile route, but it wasn't easy. My feet seem to be getting worse. The Hoka shoes help, but walking is still painful on some days. It's time for my physical exam tomorrow, so I'll ask my doctor if I'm doing anything stupid. My gut feeling is still that a little discomfort is better than becoming idle. I need to keep moving and walking is still a lot easier on my joints than most other forms of exercise.

I've got to remember not to eat breakfast tomorrow. I need to fast because they will be doing routine blood work again. At least I was able to get an early morning appointment. I hate going without food for very long. I got a call from the clinic while I was out walking reminding me to wear a mask. I have a feeling that my doctor's office will keep requiring masks forever. Not a problem. Whatever keeps you happy is my motto. I don't wear a mask very often these days, but I've got plenty of them. Most are unused. I just wear the same one over and over again.

Dawn won a ribbon at training class again tonight. She's got quite a collection now. Janet says Dawn really enjoys the training class. Like most Dalmatians, she forgets everything she's learned on our morning walks, but that's OK. I've forgotten almost everything I learned in school as well.

Skippy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Day 4527

I had to pick up a prescription this morning and I asked the pharmacist if there would be any difference in price if I used GoodRx instead of my Part-D prescription drug plan. I was surprised. The pills cost $37 using my drug plan and only $10 using GoodRx. Jeez. Why do I even have this prescription drug plan? I would just drop it, except that I suspect that GoodRx only covers certain widely used drugs. Some medications for cancer and other diseases are insanely expensive. You wouldn't want to be without coverage if you needed them. 

When I had hepatitis C, the Solvaldi I needed to cure the disease cost $1000 a pill. I had to take the pills daily for 12 weeks. I've had a healthy respect for medical insurance ever since. When I was working, medical insurance was my largest single expense. Often it made the difference between a profit or a loss for the year. It's hard to even get medical insurance if you own a small business and aren't part of a group. I had friends who were freelancers or owned small businesses like mine who went without medical insurance because of the expense. I always thought this was insane. The quickest way to get wiped out financially is to get sick without insurance. I'll use GoodRx when I can, but I'll keep my prescription drug plan. You never know when you might need it.

I got another update from the Benro people who said it would fix my camera connection problem with the star tracker. I didn't bother trying to install it because I knew it would just cause further aggravation. Why the hesitation? On the same day I received this special patch, there was also a general update to the iPhone app that controls everything. Do I upgrade the iPhone app first and then apply the patch, or the other way around? The Benro folks never said and it could make a big difference. I'm sure I'd have a lot better luck with the star tracker if I spoke Mandarin. I had the same problem when I worked for Seimens in Germany. Language barriers can create huge problems. I tried to learn German when I was doing a lot of work in Europe, but whatever I learned never stuck with me. I'm back to a single language now.

The weather was a little cooler today. We had a nice early walk with Dawn and I was even able to complete my full six mile route on my long walk later in the day. It was still hot outside, but somehow it seemed a lot better than yesterday. I really need to start going back to the gym. They have a nice indoor track and they keep the place very cold. It's boring walking six miles around a small indoor track. but it beats having a heat stroke. I have a feeling that we are going to have a very hot summer. It's only mid-May and it already feels like July.

I'm automatically cleared to attend certain launches and I get lots of messages about when and where to meet to set up cameras or attend press briefings. It kind of makes me sad that I can't attend most of these launches. Some of my Florida photographer friends go to all of them. It's just too expensive if you live out of state and don't have a big media outlet covering your expenses. I think airlines lead the list for price hikes in 2022. Flying has gotten very expensive. Driving isn't so cheap either. Gasoline expenses for my trip out to McDonald Observatory recently were a lot more than they were last year. When I was in college gas was 25 cents a gallon. In the early 70's when I was starting out in advertising, you could buy a Porsche for $8000 and rent a great apartment for $200 a month. I never dreamed then that we would end up where we are today.

I wonder if I'll have the nerve to upgrade the star tracker tomorrow. It depends on how bored I am. I usually make a mess of things when I get bored.

Susie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day