Monday, February 19, 2018

Day 2979

Part of the greenhouse roof blew off this morning. Jeez. I didn't even think it was a windy day. Apparently, it didn't take much. One minute the roof was fine and the next minute it was on the ground. As if I didn't have enough to fix already. I knew it was going to be a rainy day, so I hurriedly tried to get the roof section back in place. I managed to cover the hole, but a proper repair will have to come later.

The damaged greenhouse wasn't an auspicious way to begin the day, but is was a sign of things to come. We did manage to get Dash walked before the rain began, but while we were fixing breakfast, I noticed that there was a coating of ice on the back wall of the freezer again. It was time to defrost the evaporator coil. I had been overly optimistic. I was hoping that the refrigerator would operate normally for a few more weeks because things have been going well this month. Apparently, the coil freezes faster when the humidity is high. When I disassembled the freezer, I found that the coil was frozen solid. This process only took half as long as it did when the humidity was lower.

All bets are off. When the refrigerator was working well in January, I thought I knew exactly the part I needed to get things running reliably again. Now that the coil is freezing rapidly, I don't have a clue. I'm ready to give up. Maybe I'll go out and buy the new refrigerator I don't really want tomorrow.

I can't get the toilet to stop running either. It doesn't seem that cleaning the parts helped at all. Plumbers tell me that I should give up and buy a Toto toilet. Of course, it was a plumber who told me to buy the ridiculously complicated toilet I have now. Am I asking for trouble to go from a French toilet to a Japanese toilet? I should have just kept the old toilet that came with the house. It used a ton of water, but it was virtually indestructible.

Dash's eating habits are driving me crazy. At the end of the day he's usually eaten enough to satisfy his nutritional needs, but he doesn't eat consistently anymore. He'll eat a little and then turn up his nose at the rest. I'll have to put the food back in the refrigerator and try something else. Often he'll like something in the afternoon that he hated in the morning. This reluctance to eat seems to have something to do with his sense of smell. He carefully smells his food and even his water bowl before he eats or drinks. He didn't used to do this. If it doesn't smell exactly right, he won't touch it. Dash spends a lot more time smelling thing on his walks now too. It is as if he has developed a hyper sensitive nose. I know dogs can smell things a lot better than we can, but this is getting ridiculous.

I hope the weather forecast is wrong. It's going to be a very long week if it doesn't quit raining. There is no point to even examining the roof now. I know it is covered with standing water. I've just got to hope that the elastomer coating holds up. I've learned the hard way that the coating is very fragile when it's wet. I can do more damage by tramping around on the wet roof than the rain can.

It's hard not to get discouraged. This is not what I imagined retirement would be like at all.

Spot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Day 2978

I need to find a better time to go to the gym. For the past two weeks there has been a full court game underway when I arrived, so I haven't been able to shoot baskets. This is disappointing, since my time on the basketball court is the only real fun I have at the gym. The rest of the time is just burning calories and trying to raise my heart rate.

Dash was listless today. He did take a walk, but wasn't very interested in eating. I had to try several different varieties of dog food before I could get him to eat anything. Usually, Dash's appetite returns after a walk, but not today. I don't know what was wrong. He didn't seem nauseous or  show the usual signs of a vestibular event. Dash just wasn't hungry. A Dalmatian who won't eat is always alarming. Typically, they are always hungry.

The rain continued today. There was only a light mist when we took our morning walk, but there were several downpours later in the day. Now that the rain has returned, the dehumidifier is struggling to keep the house dry. I have to empty the water reservoir twice as often as on a dry day. Rain seems to amplify all the other problems in the house. When I think about it, every single house issue is related to water.

There is standing water on the roof. There is a leak that allows water to accumulate under the shower tiles. One of the toilets runs and I can't find parts to fix it. Even the ailing refrigerator is basically a water problem. If the evaporator coil didn't freeze, everything would be fine. I wish the rain would quit so at least the air would feel dry. I'm losing my patience with water.

I could really tell that I had shoulder and knee problems while I was at the gym today. Maybe rain makes my arthritis worse. My shoulder still aches. I wonder how bad things need to get before I consider surgery? Lots of people I know have had knee replacements. Some recover completely and others don't. I've always been fearful of surgery. Most of the surgery the dogs have had was unavoidable, but they never made a full recovery. Surgery is very invasive. I had knee surgery back when I was in college and my knee continues to feel weird to this day. I had something called Slocum's Procedure, which has since fallen out of favor among orthopedic surgeons. It is amazing how many types of surgery have fallen out of favor over the years when doctors discovered that the proceedure basically didn't work.

Tomorrow is one of those holidays that doesn't really feel like a holiday. Janet gets a day off and we won't get any mail, but other than that, it's just a normal day. There aren't even any President's Day savings on the refrigerator I still need to buy. Washington's birthday is really on February 22, but in 1971 we decided that it was easier to give people the day off on a Monday, so a lot of minor holidays began being celebrated on Monday. It was also easier to just take away Lincoln's holiday and call combined birthday celebration President's Day. Not that is matters, but I remember when Washington and Lincoln each had their own holiday.

I have a ton of bills to pay tomorrow, but they will all have to wait until Tuesday. There is no mail delivery tomorrow. It would be nice if there was no rain as well.

Bailey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Day 2977

Dash didn't want to go outside when we woke up this morning. He shouldn't have been so indecisive. Ten minutes later it was pouring rain. The rain didn't last long, but there was plenty of time for Dash to get soaking wet. We dried him off and ate our breakfast. The morning walk could wait until later.

According to the weather forecast, this is the beginning of an entire week of wet weather. I'd better hurry up and find something I want to watch on Netflix. Without any deadlines to keep me busy, I'm going to have a severe case of cabin fever.

Dash did get his walk when the rain stopped and then I got started on my Saturday errands. I picked up some Phenobarbital for Dash and got Carvedilol for myself. For some reason the pharmacist wouldn't renew the Carvedilol prescription until today, even though I ran out of pills on Thursday. Medicare is very inflexible. It didn't matter that I didn't have any pills. What mattered is that they thought I should still have some. Once again, veterinary medicine is so much more straightforward.

I still haven't bought a new refrigerator. The big President's Day sales are a joke. Not a single refrigerator I've looked at during the past three months has seen a price reduction. They're all exactly the same price as they were before. I'm really tempted to buy a supply of spare parts and just attempt to repair my current refrigerator myself if it breaks again.

When I went to the grocery store today I noticed that strawberries have gone down in price. I wonder why fresh fruit prices fluctuate so wildly? There always seems to be a steady supply of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, but the price is always different.  Fruit that grows on vines seems to be available year round, but fruit that grows on trees is very seasonal. I'll be glad when peaches are available again. My morning smoothies always taste better with peaches.

I should have cleaned the house this afternoon, but I didn't feel like it. I must not have felt like doing much, because very little was accomplished today. Some days are like this. At the end of the day you wonder if anything happened at all. At least Dash got a nice afternoon walk before the weather turned cold again.

I finally got the nerve to look at my brokerage account. I'm still down quite a bit, but last week's mini-rebound certainly helped. I've learned over the years that's it's best to ignore a sell off. When you panic, you always end up selling too late and then buying again too soon. I'm hoping that sanity will return to the market soon. The economy is still good.

The United States doesn't seem to be doing so well in the Olympics. I may be wrong, but didn't we used to win more medals?  The Japanese own figure skating now. I watched Yuzuru Hanyu win the gold while I was going to sleep last night and he was amazing. I guess it's been a long time since Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.

It's time to go the the gym again tomorrow. I've really got to start going twice a week.

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

Day 2976

I hate waiting for repair people. They never arrive when they say they will. You can wait and wait, but it never makes any difference. It's only when you give up and decide to take a shower or walk your dog that the service technician knocks on your door. I guess I shouldn't be critical. I'm always late myself. I can't even get to a simple meeting on time. The AT&T guy was three hours late today, but at least he showed up. My fiber optic installation is now finished.

I wish they'd told me ahead of time that the technician wouldn't need to come inside the house. This could have saved a lot of waiting. I still managed to get everything done. I got my grocery shopping finished early this morning before the technician was scheduled to arrive. Instead of going out for breakfast, I tried the breakfast buffet they had at the grocery store. I'd never tried this before because it didn't look very good. Surprisingly, the taste of the scrambled eggs, bacon, and biscuits and gravy I picked out tasted much better than they looked.

The refrigerator repair guy called me back today. After talking with him for a few minutes I realized that I now know just as much about repairing refrigerators as he does. The guy agreed that changing out all three thermistors might be a good idea. He also said that the temperature control for the fan might have gone bad. There were no guarantees though. Apparently the way appliance repair works is you just keep replacing parts until the problem stops. I don't know why I'm so surprised. This appears to be the way most car repairs work too.

I wish there weren't so many people walking their dogs during the middle of the day. Dash and I used to have the park to ourselves during the week, but now it's crowded all the time. The dogs on a leash are fine, but almost every day we run into someone who is letting their dogs run loose. I could tell that Dash really wanted a walk this afternoon, but as soon as he saw two dogs running off leash, he refused to go any further. It is so frustrating to have to abort a good walk. These people with their loose dogs have no idea how long it takes me to get Dash suited up in his protective gear and ready to go. I tried again just before sunset and this time there was no danger.

The news was all about Russia today. I don't know why the Russians went to all that trouble to get us fighting among ourselves. We do a pretty good job of that on our own. I think a lot of the outrage about this is bogus. The United States and Russia have been meddling in each other's affairs since the beginning of the cold war. It's not like we don't don't do the same thing to them. Personally, I think that if the FBI hadn't been so obsessed with Russian Twitter accounts, they might have had time to follow up on that Florida school shooters disturbing online profile.

Dash was a picky eater again today.  He'd enthusiastically start to eat something and then ten minutes later he would spit the same thing out. On any given day, I have no idea what is going to appeal to him.  I think Dash takes living in the moment to extremes. One minute he wants a walk. The next minute he refuses to leave the yard. Feeding him is so difficult now. I fed him half a can of dog food around 3 PM. He rapidly ate and then we took a walk. When we returned, I gave him the rest of the can and he wouldn't touch it. This inconsistency tests my patience almost as much as repair people.

It is supposed to rain all next week. I hope the forecast is wrong. You know how I feel about rain.

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Day 2975

I had the best of intentions today. I was going to fix some things around the house, touch base with my remaining clients, and clean up all the dog poop in the yard. Since I got up later than usual, I didn't get off to a roaring start. By the time I finished taking Dash on a morning walk and made my morning smoothie, it was almost 11 AM. I don't think I was always this slow, but it's hard to remember.

The first task on the agenda was fixing a running toilet. This Porcher toilet was made in France about fifteen years ago and is almost impossible to find parts for. Unlike most toilets, you can't just go to Home Depot and buy a new float arm or fill valve. I feel like this thing was engineered by the same people who made Citro├źn automobiles. It is truly bizarre. The best I can do is carefully take apart the aging mechanism, clean everything as well as I can, and then put things back together. Today, I slowed the leak, but didn't stop it entirely. It was the best I could do.

I tried to find out whether the AT&T technician was going to come out today and hook up the permanent fiber optic cable, but just ended up wasting a lot of time on the phone. The help desk people in Indonesia don't really have a clue where the service guys in the trucks are. I don't really care when the guy comes out. I just wanted to make AT&T aware that there was a buried line in my yard that wasn't hooked up. The two guys that dug the hole yesterday said someone would come out today and finish the job. Not surprisingly, no one showed up.

I've been trying to talk to the guy who replaced the thermistor in my refrigerator a couple of months ago. This repairman seemed more knowledgable that the others the appliance repair shop sent out and I was hoping he could tell me whether it was worth one more try to fix my existing refrigerator. There are two more thermistors in the refrigerator. If all it took was replacing all three of them to get things running reliably again, it might be worth it. I still can't find a new refrigerator that is as good as the one I've got. I can't find the repairmen either. So far, he hasn't returned my call.

It is amazingly warm for February. I think the temperature was over 70 today. I can never get used to this rapidly changing weather. When I'm walking Dash, I always seem to be wearing too much or too little. Today was confusing. The grey overcast skies definitely looked like Winter, but the temperature felt like Spring. Dash seemed confused too. He kept sniffing the air on his morning walk and wouldn't take an afternoon walk at all.

Once again we are wondering how we can stop school shootings. I don't think it will be easy. We live in a world where Call of Duty is the most popular video game. Violent video games and movies have been a favorite of kids for almost thirty years. Mental illness is so common that it almost seems like a lifestyle choice. It is unbelievable how many people are taking anti-depressants and other psychotropic drugs these days. Social media has created a world where everyone demands instant gratification. Nobody has any patience anymore. Worst of all, when anyone talks about restricting guns, people rush out and buy even more guns. It's kind of a hopeless situation.

Personally, I think technology has advanced much more rapidly than our ability to comprehend it. Sure, we have self driving cars and everyone is connected to everyone else, but in the process we've managed to destroy a society that has worked pretty well for thousands of years. If we don't slow down, things are only going to get worse.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Day 2974 - Valentines Day

I don't understand AT&T at all. A couple of guys came out to bury the fiber optic line today. After they'd been working for a while I went outside to see what they were doing. Much to my surprise, they were laying an entirely new cable. "Why aren't you burying the cable that is already hooked up," I asked? "That's just the temporary cable," one of the guys said. They didn't hear me when I mentioned that both cables were exactly the same. "Aren't you going to hook the new cable up," I asked when they were finished. "We don't know how," one guy told me. The other guy said that someone else would come back later in the week to connect the new cable they just buried. Jeez. That's three trips for one cable. I don't get it.

I ended up getting cupcakes after all. I'm superstitious and I hate to mess with tradition on symbolic holidays. As usual, there was a long line at Sprinkles. Every single woman in line was texting someone or checking their Facebook page. None of the men were. This probably means something, but I'm not going to hazard a guess.

I went to pick up a prescription on the way home from the cupcake store. "Medicare won't let us fill this prescription until Saturday," the pharmacist said. "But I'm out of pills," I told her. "You shouldn't be,"  the pharmacist told me. I couldn't convince her that I only had two pills left. I think they miscounted the number of pills they gave me 90 days ago, but there is no way of proving it. Whatever. I guess I'll just skip a few days.

I did get Dash's prescription filled. It's always easier to deal with veterinarians than with my own doctors. I often wonder why veterinary medicine is so much more straightforward and affordable than human medicine. Probably it's because insurance isn't involved. Once insurance companies enter the picture, prices tend to skyrocket.

I was going to pick up something for dinner at Central Market, but I couldn't find a parking place anywhere. Not only were all the spaces filled, there were dozens of car circling around waiting for people to leave. One long line was enough for today, so I gave up and went home. There wasn't much in the refrigerator, but I made some pasta with a leftover meatball, some olive oil, and a piece of cheese. My creation was surprisingly good. It's too bad I don't like to cook because my own meals are almost always better than the take out dinners I live on during the week.

I've started watching the Olympics because it's getting hard to avoid it on TV. Curling is surprisingly interesting. It took me a while to figure out what the brooms and all the sweeping was about. Did the sweeping make the rock go faster or slower?  Apparently, sweeping the ice decreases friction and makes the rock go faster and straighter. The game is kind of like shuffleboard, but involves a lot of finesse and strategy. Admittedly, curling is not as exciting as watching Shaun White do back-to-back 1440s, but it's an intriguingly pleasant game I can watch while I'm eating dinner.

I wonder when the fiber optic technician is going to return. I never dreamed this installation would be so complicated. A fiber optic connection is very fast, but I'm not even sure I need fast anymore. I rarely upload or download huge files anymore. I'd rather have rock solid reliability than speed. I was actually happy enough with the 2800 baud modem I used back in the 1990's.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Day 2973

My fitness tracker tells me when I dream at night. It appears that I don't get much deep sleep, but I dream quite a bit. I wish I could click on this dream timeline and recall the dreams. I occasionally remember dreams, but most evaporate a few seconds after I wake up. The few dreams I do remember all involve being lost. I walk endlessly down hotel corridors looking for my room. I can't find my car in parking garages. I get separated from Janet on cruise ships and can never find her again. Sometimes I am walking Dash and he runs away. I wonder why this is such a common theme?

Maybe I am lost. I certainly flounder around a lot during my waking hours. Today I felt like I was sleepwalking. Each day seems like the previous one. I walk Dash. I make my morning smoothie. I clean up the dog poop in the yard. I turn on the computer and pretend like I'm working for a while. Dash gets lunch. I take a shower. If there are bills to pay, I take them to the post office. Dash gets an early dinner at 3:30 and then we take an afternoon walk. He gets the remainder of his dinner at 4:30 after we return and then I see if there are any leftovers in the refrigerator for my own dinner. The only time I watch TV is while I'm eating. Today I sent out my February invoices. This didn't take long. There are fewer and fewer invoices each month.

My day has become so repetitive that the thought of doing something new makes me apprehensive. I've been taking care of sick dogs for so long that I associate something new with something bad. As long as Dash stays the same, we're fine. New behavior is usually alarming. I feel the same way about the house. If things stay the same, we're fine. Something new usually involves a water leak or a broken appliance. If I were starting the blog today, the title would probably be "What new kind of hell is this." I dread the thought of anything new.

I do try to take a new photo every day. Maybe I'm hoping that if the narrative becomes too repetitive, the photo will keep things interesting. Today, I encountered a very inquisitive squirrel. I don't know if he was looking at me or Dash, but we were definitely invading his territory. I'm looking forward to Spring and a return of the wildflowers in the park. There are very few things to photograph on cold, grey days like this.

I'm going to need to go to the store tomorrow. I've run out of coffee and the refrigerator is looking bare. I usually get Sprinkles Cupcakes for Valentine's Day, but neither of us eats dessert anymore. It hardly seems worth the trouble of standing in line for overpriced cupcakes if we aren't going to eat them.

I've noticed that my WiFi only crashes if I'm looking at Facebook. That's weird. I can be doing anything else on the computer and the connection is solid as a rock. I wonder what this means? I think all the autoplay movies in my timeline are causing things to go wonky, but it could just be that I'm spending too much time on Facebook.

Tessa is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, February 12, 2018

Day 2972

Why can't you purchase individual TV channels? Janet and I only regularly watch five or six channels, but for years have been forced to buy an expensive cable package with hundreds of unnecessary channels just to get the ones we like. Cutting the cord sounds appealing, but it's turning out to be just as difficult to find our favorite channels on popular streaming packages. You'd think Hulu Live, Sling TV, or Direct TV Now would include PBS in their lineup. PBS is almost as basic as local news. Nope. Even the most expensive packages don't offer PBS. Nobody offers MeTV either. I like this weird little channel because it has all the old Perry Mason and Twilight Zone shows I watch while I fall asleep. Very few people offer NASA TV. This just seems like a public access channel like CSPAN. I though you had to offer public access channels. Maybe I'm stuck with paying too much for cable. It was a slow day and I had a lot of time for comparison shopping. I couldn't find anything I liked.

I'm still trying to figure out why my WiFi connection crashes occasionally. A quick Google search revealed that lots of other people were having the same problem. So many people were complaining about connectivity issues between AT&T and Apple computers that you'd think one of these companies would have come up with a solution. Nope. Neither of these corporate giants would even acknowledge there was a problem.

Here's where things get difficult. If you want to learn how to fix your car, your refrigerator, or your broadband router on the Internet, you've got to sort through dozens, or even hundreds, of wacko solutions offered by ordinary folks and hope that one of them doesn't make things even worse. You'd think people would agree on how to fix something, but they never do.

Fake news isn't limited to politics. It's everywhere. Most diet plans you read about online are fake news. So are restaurant reviews, miracle cures for cancer, and stories about the best food for your dog. When did people become so confident about information that is at best just an opinion? I try to avoid telling people how to fix things. At least I realize that my opinions are probably no better than all the others out there. So far, I don't have the nerve to reconfigure my router based on something I heard on the Internet.

Hey, I did manage to get my refrigerator running again from watching a YouTube video. I've learned a lot about fixing old watches online too. The problem is that I never actually become an expert by watching a YouTube video. Most things I fix end up breaking again. I read a lot about routers today and I still don't really understand how they work. Why can't AT&T or Apple give me reliable, trouble free WiFI? I shouldn't have to do their work for them.

Maybe I should limit myself to simple things. I'm pretty good at doing laundry and finding dog poop in the yard. My morning smoothies are better than anything you'd find at Smoothie King. I make a mean omelet when I'm in the mood too. Maybe this is enough.

At least Dash had a good day. He ate well, took two nice walks, and only got me up once last night. So far, we haven't has any shivering episodes. I was the only one shivering today. It is still very cold.

Lucy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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