Monday, December 11, 2017

Day 2909

I'm always puzzled when consistency produces inconsistent results. This morning I made my morning smoothie the same way I always do. I dumped the same ingredients into the same Vitamix and turned it on for the same length of time. This time instead of something that resembled a milkshake, I got something that resembled Jello. How did this happen? I debated whether to dump the stuff into a bowl and eat it with a spoon, but decided to just add some more water and run the mixer again. It was a small thing, but I wondered about it all morning.

I wish everything was consistent. There is nothing consistent about taking care of Dash. Every day is full of surprises. It's quite a challenge to get him to eat regular meals. Ever since his last bad vestibular seizure, he's been a very picky eater. We have to keep at least five brands of dog food in the house, because you never know what he'll eat on any given day. He'll eagerly eat something for several days, and then all the sudden, he won't touch the stuff. We've learned to give him a little bite of something before we fill his bowl, because you never know. I think he still has a very healthy diet, but it gets confusing. Today he loved his breakfast, but wouldn't eat the same thing for dinner. If he refuses something, we'll set it aside and see if he'll eat it later. Our refrigerator is full of food waiting for just the right moment.

I got a letter from the government today saying that there will be a cost of living adjustment to my social security payment next year. This was the first increase we've gotten in several years. I was all excited until I read the fine print and discovered that I'll be getting $25 more every month. $25? You're kidding me. I'm sure that will take care of inflation. It still kind of bugs me when I hear politicians call social security an entitlement. Like most people my age, I've paid into social security for my entire working life. It will still be quite a few years before I've taken out more than I put in. Unless I beat the family longevity average, I may never take out more than I put in. It's a shame. If we'd been given the opportunity to take that money that was deducted from our paychecks every month and invest it ourselves, most of us would have done a lot better.

I need to get serious about eliminating sugar from my diet again. I did really well for almost three years, but gradually my sweet tooth has been creeping back. Wheat and grains are almost as bad as sugar because they are converted to glucose so easily by your body. My problem is that I love bread, pasta, pancakes, and almost anything made from grain. I've explored Ketogenic and Paleo diets but they seem way too extreme for me. They are also a lot of trouble. There should be more healthy eating restaurants where you can explore delicious, sugar free low carb meals without a lot of trouble. Maybe these places already exist, but I just don't notice them because I'm too distracted by pancake houses and barbecue joints.

I took a ridiculously small check to the bank today and send out my December invoices so I'll get some more ridiculously small checks next month. I'm glad I had some good years, because this is no way to run a business. I don't know how young people in my line of work survive these days. Everybody thinks they're a photographer or filmmaker and a host of things that used to be lucrative for creative people like me are now expected to be free. If I had a kid I'd tell them to learn how to repair robots. That's where we're headed.

A loose dog in the neighborhood chased Dash and I last week. The owner came running after the dog and nobody was hurt, but now Dash won't walk down that street anymore. Sad. Little by little, our world keeps contracting.

Savannah is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Day 2908

The Christmas tree is up. It's a small tree and all the ornaments are Dalmatians. Periodically new ornaments are added and occasionally ornaments are removed. Most of the Dalmatians with angel wings are now sitting on top of the little urns on the coffee table that contain the ashes of Spot, Petey, Greta, Mindy, and Dot. We don't put presents under the tree anymore. Once the dogs realized that many of them contained treats for them, they wouldn't leave the packages alone.

Before I could deal with the Christmas tree, I had to remove all the equipment from yesterday's photo shoot. I put away the things that had a place in the office and took the rest of the stuff to the storage warehouse. Every time I visit my storage space, I  realize that the day is coming when I'll have to come to terms with all this clutter. The warehouse has become a black hole that sucks up everything I can't figure out what to do with. There are a few treasures here and there, but most of the stuff is old equipment that isn't useful anymore, but will never be collectible either. It will take an enormous amount of energy to clean this place up and I'm not sure I'm up to the task.

With all the Santa Paws gear out of the way and the Christmas tree in place, I realized that the house was very dirty. I spent the rest of the day vacuuming, changing sheets, and cleaning dog blankets. Dash's protective boots were starting to look threadbare, so I repaired them too. The house doesn't really look much better, but at least I tried.

When we took Dash on his morning walk, there were lots of people preparing for the BMW Dallas Marathon. This used to be called the White Rock Marathon, but I guess everything has a corporate sponsor now. I'm not a runner, but this was definitely a beautiful day for a race. It is almost a tradition to have terrible weather for this marathon. Our house is fairly close to the course and we've watched runners compete in pouring rain many times.

When I returned to the park for Dash's afternoon walk, the same crews that were setting up things things this morning were tearing everything down again. By tomorrow morning, all the signage, rest stations, and temporary parking will be gone. I like the park best when nothing is happening and all I hear are ducks quacking. Our walks are really the only time when Winter weather is welcome. Our dogs have always liked cooler weather and I like the fact that the bicycles virtually disappear. On nice days there are bicycles everywhere and I have to be careful that we don't get run over. On chilly days, Dash and I have the park to ourselves.

Dash didn't have a Cerenia pill yesterday and he still seemed completely normal today. This is good news. I'm sure that Dash will have a vestibular episode again, but maybe he can catch a break and enjoy a few months as a normal dog. This disease never really goes away, but the symptoms can subside for months at a time. Dash is lucky that he still seems to be able to recover from these periodic episodes. Some dogs don't.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing tomorrow. There are lots of things around the house that still need attention and I'm not finished with my website project either. There are fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and bananas for my morning smoothie, so I guess we'll start there.

Princess is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Day 2907

Another year of Santa Paws has come and gone. Today was a big success and I'm pretty sure that we photographed even more dogs than we did last week. We had a several very large dogs today, one cat, a very well behaved baby, and a chinchilla. I don't think I've ever seen a chinchilla before. They have large ears and look like someone tried to breed a rabbit with a rat.

We photographed quite a few Dalmatians today. Dalmatians are very photogenic, but they have lots of energy. Every year I always have at least one photo of a Dalmatian flying through the air trying to escape from Santa's arms. A nervous Husky was the only dog who peed on the backdrop this year and nobody knocked anything over. I operate the strobes on low power now and move the lights in a little closer to get the same exposure. By babying the equipment this way, maybe I can squeeze one more year out of it.

I was pleased at how well things went this year. We've been doing these Christmas pet pictures for almost a decade now and there are few disaster anymore. We've definitely learned how to photograph dogs. I'm not as nimble as I used to be but I feel foolish even mentioning my somewhat minor aches and pains. Our leader had knee replacement surgery last week and it didn't seem to slow her down a bit. Every year I wonder how much longer we can continue doing this. Judging by how well things went today, I think we'll be back next year.

I feel bad about leaving Dash at home so long when we do these photo shoots, but there is no other alternative. Janet and I are both needed at these events and Dash hates riding in the car. He seemed fine at home today. There were no vestibular events and every time we checked him on the baby monitor, he was just sleeping on the bed. It was a very long day, but Dash still got a walk just before sunset. It was amazing he got a walk at all today. Janet left for home earlier than I did, but we both got caught in a horrible traffic jam on the freeway. There was an accident and it took over an hour to inch our way past the wreck.

The photo equipment is still piled up in the hallway, but I'm going to get organized tomorrow and take it all back to the storage warehouse. I don't do many photo shoots anymore and there's a good chance that this stuff won't be needed again until next year. As soon as I get all the clutter cleared away, it will be time to put up the Christmas tree.

I doubt if I'll make it to the gym this week. I might not even make it to the grocery store. There's so much to do that I don't even know where to begin. Maybe Dash will let us sleep in tomorrow morning. That would be nice. I think I'll sleep well tonight. I'm very tired.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Friday, December 8, 2017

Day 2906

It was so cold this morning that we decided Dash needed a sweater in addition to all the regular gear he wears on walks. I'm surprised he could move after we got him all bundled up. The sweater went on first. Then the Ruffwear harness was placed on top of the sweater. The knee brace attached to the harness and then came the socks. Finally, the rubber boots were placed over the socks and Dash was ready to go. We had to adjust several straps so all this would fit properly, but Dash took it all in stride.  He doesn't resist wearing this gear at all. I think he realizes that he is more sure footed now and that he can walk with more confidence. I hope he appreciated the sweater too, because it was only 28 degrees this morning.

I didn't go out for breakfast this morning because I had a meeting scheduled. I was a little worried about leaving Dash, but he slept well last night and had a lot of energy this morning. There were no visible signs that he was still having problems with his vestibular disease, so I decided it was OK to go.

It was kind of weird to have a business meeting again. I used to do this almost every single day and now it's all becoming a distant memory. The project sounded interesting and I hope I get the job. There is a website involved, but it's really more of a rebranding project. After a while my brain kicked into gear and I started spitting out ideas. It was almost like old times again. The meeting lasted a lot longer than I though it would, but when I got home Dash was fine. He woke up when I opened the front door, but it was obvious that he'd spent most of the morning sleeping on the bed. It didn't take him long to let me know he was ready for lunch. I'm really glad he's finally getting back to normal.

I was hoping to finish my website project today but that didn't happen. My morning meeting threw me off schedule for the rest of the day. By the time I fed Dash, took our regular afternoon walk, and did a few errands around the house, the day was over. I was feeling good that it was Friday and the long week was almost over and then I remembered that we've got another Santa Paws photo shoot tomorrow.

Most of the equipment is already packed and ready to go. All I had to do today was recharge the camera batteries. I'm glad that we didn't get snow like the Southern half of the state. I've got a long drive in the morning and it's going to be a lot easier on dry roads. I'll need to remember to dress warmly. Santa always gets hot inside his heavy red suit, so that means I'm almost always cold. I'm used to cold though. Both Janet and Dash like a cold house. I'm just the opposite. I'm wearing a jacket now and wishing there was a furnace vent under my desk.

The doctor I saw earlier this week called with my test results. Everything is fine. I've had some major health problems over the years, but most of them have been resolved. I wish I could say the same for Dash. He has a fabulous team of doctors and we do everything we can, but our little guy has never really been healthy. We think he probably came from a puppy mill, but like any rescue dog, we'll never know his early history. Dash might not have been dealt a good hand at birth, but we're doing our best to make sure he stays in the game. He's happy and comfortable now. We've all just got to keep taking things one day at a time.

Willow is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Day 2905

It's supposed to freeze tonight. This isn't supposed to happen in Dallas, but here we are again. The Farmer's Almanac predicts a cold, snowy winter this year. I hope they aren't right. Cold weather is infrequent, so I'm usually not well prepared. I remembered to take the battery out of the electric lawn mower and bring it inside. One year I forgot and the battery was destroyed. I remembered to set the faucet on drip in the greenhouse for the same reason. One year I forgot and the pipes broke.

I really didn't want to go up on the roof today because it was so cold. I remembered what can happen when ice builds up on the roof though, and reluctantly cleared away all the standing water. It was a miserable job, but the good news is that the patches I've made recently appear to be solid. I wish I'd used up all the elastomer material now. The small amount that is still in the container probably won't be usable after a freeze. There used to be potted plants I would bring inside for the winter, but they are all dead now. I guess I'm as ready for cold weather as I'll ever be. I just hope that we don't have a power outage this winter. Some of my worst memories are of sitting inside a freezing house for four days, waiting for the power to be restored after an ice storm.

Dash woke us up last night to go outside, but luckily he wasn't sick. He just needed to poop. Even though he slept well, he still seemed a bit shaky this morning. He took a shorter walk than normal and didn't eat all his breakfast. Often it takes quite a while to fully recover from a vestibular event. When Dash is agitated of frightened, he doesn't like to be alone. I usually curl up with him on the bed until he relaxes and goes to sleep. Then I sneak off to the office and try to get some work done before he wakes up again.

I did some more work on my website project today. I suppose it's time to show something to the client, but I know as soon as I take that step, the fun is over. No matter how beautiful or functional I think things are, clients always want to change something. I didn't spend a huge amount of time selecting images for this project because I know that they are probably just placeholders. Pictures are so easy to change that they are never sacred. The best thing about this project is that the client wants to manage things themselves. When I hand over the keys, I'm probably done.

I finished all the left overs yesterday, so I made some pasta with whatever I could find in the refrigerator. I'm always surprised how tasty my desperation dinners are. Whole wheat noodles, Italian sausage, carrots, cucumbers, and tamarind sauce actually go together quite well. I'm too lazy to be much of a cook, but when I make an effort, the results are usually delicious.

I've got a rare client meeting tomorrow morning. I wish Dash had fully recovered by now, but as of this evening he seems a lot better. We'll see how he is in the morning. If he's shaky, I can always cancel the meeting. There just aren't any projects that matter that much anymore. Dash comes first. I hope Dash is feeling good tomorrow. It would be nice to make a little extra money.

Humphrey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Day 2904

I can't resist taking a picture of Dash next to a fire truck. I have no idea who was being carried out on a stretcher, but it happens a lot in our neighborhood. We're all getting older.

We had our own medical emergency last night. Dash experienced a severe vestibular event and we were up half the night with him. In the past we have taken him to the emergency room when he has one of these episodes, but there is little if anything the vets can do. Now that we recognize the symptoms, we just try to keep him calm and ride it out. The vestibular episodes almost always start the same way. Dash will wake up during the night after sleeping calmly. Usually we will immediately notice that he is drooling. Since drooling is sometimes a precursor to throwing up, I'll take him outside. If he doesn't throw up and seems disoriented and unsteady on his feet, it is often the start of a vestibular seizure. Dash drooled a river last night and was very agitated for about an hour. When he started to calm down, we got him to lay down on a rug in the living room and I curled up next to him. I could tell his breathing was becoming more regular and in about fifteen minutes he fell asleep. I stayed with him until the drooling completely stopped and he seemed normal again. Then I eventually went back to bed. Later that night, Dash woke up and came back to bed with us. He was fine. I was tired the next morning though. I didn't get much sleep.

Vestibular disease is scary, because there is so little you can do. We keep a supply of anti-nausea pills on hand in case he shows signs of vertigo, but the pills don't take effect immediately. The main benefit of the Cerenia pills is if the vestibular events last for several days. The last time we experienced an event this bad was during the summer. Today Dash was completely normal. He ate well and took both of his regular walks. The vestibular disease never really goes away, but episodes like Dash experienced last night are infrequent. We've got enough to worry about with his heart problems. I hope he doesn't have another seizure for many months.

The weather was chilly again today, but there was no rain. I didn't go anywhere because I wasn't completely sure if Dash was back to normal yet. I'd hate for him to have a seizure when I wasn't there. There was plenty to do around the house. I returned to work on my website project and made a lot of progress. I think last night really tired Dash out because he slept a lot today. I always let sleeping dogs lie. It's the only way I get anything done. The website is looking pretty good now. I'm just about ready to turn it over to the client.

I had to renew a domain today and had a real problem turning off the auto-renew feature on my account dashboard. I hate auto-renew because very often I don't want to renew something again. At any rate, when I renewed the domain, my credit card information got captured by the website and all of the sudden I was a perpetual customer again. Damn. It took sitting on hold with tech support for almost an hour before I was able to talk with someone and get the problem resolved. A word of warning. If you sign up for Sirius XM radio, don't ever check the box that lets them auto-renew your subscription. They make it so difficult to leave that you're practically a customer for life.

I'm hoping I can finish the website tomorrow. I'm also hoping that Dash is back to normal. Sometimes the vertigo can last for several days. We gave him another Cerenia pill to help him sleep calmly tonight. I won't need a pill to get to sleep. I'm so tired that I'm falling asleep right now.

Emma is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Day 2903

If I made a chart that showed my productivity on the x-axis and the outside temperature on the y-axis, you could clearly see that the colder it gets, the less I accomplish. It was so cold today that I spent most of my time wondering if I should wear a warmer sweater. My office is on the opposite side of the house from the utility room, so the warm air from the furnace has already cooled down quite a bit by the time it makes its way through the the vent system. If I turn the furnace up enough to warm this room, the rest of the house is impossibly hot. Janet and Dash like the house cooler anyway, so I'm basically screwed.

The only good thing about the colder weather is that Dash enjoys his walks more in the Winter. Even though he was sick yesterday, he was eager to walk today. I have plenty of warm coats, so chilly walks are never a problem. I hate to sit at the computer wearing a down jacket and a wool hat though, so I'm always adding and subtracting sweaters. I never seem to be happy with the weather. It's always too hot, or too cold, or too wet, or too dry.

It was certainly too cold to go up on the roof today. It rained a lot last night, but the standing water will have to sit there for a while. It's hard enough working on the roof when it's warm. When it's cold, it seem downright dangerous. I hope I did a good job with the repairs I've been making for the past several weeks. This is the reason I continue to patch the roof.  The elastomer coating just needs to stay waterproof until the next warm, dry day.

It's easy for me to forget what day it is. I kept thinking it was Monday today. Probably just having a slightly different schedule yesterday was enough to throw me off. At any rate, I spent much of the day doing typical Monday errands. I went to the bank, paid some bills, and picked up some more Cerenia pills for Dash at the vet. It was a slow day, so I also wrote a letter to my sister.

I needed to order some more checks while I was at the bank and the lady I talked to tried to convince me to stop using paper checks. "We've got better ways to pay now," she told me. "Better for you," I kept thinking. What's wrong with paper? Everyone keeps trying to get me to go paperless. When the bank officer was telling me that using your phone to pay was more secure, I just rolled my eyes. Jeez. Virtually all security breeches are electronic in nature. Those Equifax hackers certainly didn't steal a huge pile of paper.

Dash seems fine today. Maybe it was the anti-nausea pills, or maybe his vestibular disease symptoms are over for a while. This is a frustrating disease because the symptoms come and go without warning. We're never really sure what makes him sick and what causes him to get better. I think the anti-nausea pills help, but since he can't keep taking them forever, we kind of just guess at when he really needs them.

It's supposed to be even colder tomorrow, so it may be time to find the little ceramic heater I keep under my desk in the Winter. In many ways it would be a lot easier to just use a laptop at the kitchen table in the Winter, but whenever I'm in the kitchen, Dash thinks it's time to eat. I could never get any work done in the kitchen. I actually hope that Dash is barking in the kitchen tomorrow. When he's acting this way, it usually means he's feeling pretty good.

Emmitt is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, December 4, 2017

Day 2902

Dash threw up again today. This has to have something to do with his vestibular disease. Otherwise the symptoms just don't make sense. Everything will be fine and then all of the sudden he will appear very distressed and throw up everything he has eaten recently. Lately, this seems to happen about one a month. This morning Dash ate his normal breakfast, took a nice walk and then retired to the bedroom to take a nap. This is what he does every day. When he woke up from his nap, he went straight to the back door and scratched to get out. After eating some grass, he came back inside, took another short nap, and then puked all over the carpet. While I was cleaning up the first mess, he puked again in the living room. After that, he was fine for the rest of the day.

I was getting ready to go to the doctor when Dash got sick, so I got out some soft blankets and confined him in the hallway while I was gone. It was hard enough cleaning vomit off the carpet the first time. I definitely didn't want to do this again today. This seemed to be a fairly major episode, so I also gave him a Cerenia pill. When I returned from my doctor's appointment, Dash was sleeping calmly on his blanket and everything seemed fine again. I wish someone could tell me exactly what is going on, but we may never find the answer. I'm pretty sure that this is not another hidden cancer, because we have had him scanned from nose to tail. There are no suspicious growths or tumors anywhere. The vertigo that accompanies a vestibular event can definitely cause a dog to vomit. There's a good chance that this is what is happening. Since there is no real cure for vestibular disease, Dash's doctor says to expect periodic vestibular seizures for the rest of his life.

When I switched primary care physicians, I decided to switch the specialists I see as well, so everyone would be affiliated with the same hospital. Today I had an initial visit with my new urologist. This guy was so much better than the doctor I was seeing previously that it made me wonder why I stayed loyal to my old doctors for so long. All doctors aren't the same and the differences between a good doctor and a bad doctor are enormous. So far, I think my decision to upgrade the quality of my medical care has been a wise one. I just should have done this sooner.

Janet and I went to a Christmas party at the presidential library this evening. As usual, I didn't know anybody at the event, but the food was excellent. I even had a glass of wine. Janet volunteers as a docent at the library one day a week, so that's how we wind up on the guest list. I was a little worried about leaving Dash at home, but he was perfectly fine when we returned. With any luck, we'll have at least a month before we'll have to deal with the vestibular disease again. Even though each episode can be scary, the symptoms don't seem to last very long. I just hope he never has another serious incident while I'm gone.

It never did rain today. I wonder where the weather app on my phone gets its information? It never seems to be right. I'm glad we had another dry day. The repairs I made to the roof yesterday will have another day to cure properly. I'll be so glad when I finally get these roof repairs finished. I'll be even happier to see Dash get better. He had a rough day today.

Camp is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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