Thursday, January 18, 2018

Day 2947

I got a haircut today, so I'm probably good until March. Maybe by March I'll have enough money to get a new iPhone X. I only visit the mall when it's time for a haircut, so I'm always curious to see what's new at the Apple Store. I wish I actually need a new iPhone or one of the grossly overpriced new iMac Pro desktop computers. Sadly, my old iPhone 5 and 2010 vintage iMac work just fine. It's hard to justify buying these gadgets for the company anymore. There just isn't that much work these days.

It's becoming equally hard to justify an expensive haircut. What's left of my hair doesn't grow very fast and during the Winter it's usually hidden under an ugly wool hat anyway. Maybe I just enjoy familiar routines. I've been getting my hair cut by the same stylist for over fifteen years and have been using Apple products for much longer than that. It's reassuring to visit the mall every once in a while and realize that it really hasn't changed all that much since I moved here in the mid 1970's.

When I returned home, Dash was still asleep in exactly the same place on the bed where I left him several hours earlier. Sometimes it worries me that he spends so much time sleeping, but even healthy dogs sleep a lot. He must be a light sleeper, because as soon as I opened the refrigerator door, he woke up and came out to the kitchen. I think Dash likes familiar routines even more than I do. Now that he's become a picky eater, I make a big show out of fixing his meals. I wash his bowl and carefully spoon out his food in precise little patterns. It takes three times as long, but Dash gets all excited while I'm fixing things and almost always eats everything. I know this silly little ritual makes a difference, because occasionally when I'm in a hurry I just quickly dump the food in his bowl and he gets mad and won't touch it.

The weather was weird today. When I was driving to Northpark this morning the sky was clearing and the temperature was rising. I thought is was going to be a nice day. It was still pretty nice when I took a walk with Dash after lunch, although I noticed some clouds on the horizon. Everything changed around 3 PM. By the time I gave Dash his evening walk, the sky was dark, the wind was blowing, and the temperature had dropped twenty degrees. It's hard to get used to these sudden changes. In my mind I was already anticipating a pleasant Friday, and then seemingly out of nowhere, Winter returned.

I can't decide whether to go out for breakfast tomorrow. The pancakes I fixed at home last Friday were pretty good. When I enjoyed going out, I never thought about the cost. Now that I don't look forward to these outings as much, the restaurant meals seem like a waste of money. Skipping one breakfast a month would pay for the increase in my gym membership. Skipping the entire month would buy me a new pair of hiking boots. If I skipped the entire year, I could probably get that iPhone I've been thinking about.

Dash's schedule has changed. He doesn't poop on his walks any more and has decided that he prefers to do his business in the middle of the night while I'm asleep. I took him outside twice last night and probably will do the same tonight. I thought I was going to get a lot more sleep after Dot passed away, but it hasn't worked out that way.

Dovey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Day 2946

Today was so similar to yesterday that I briefly wondered if anyone would notice if I just copied a few paragraphs from my previous post. Believe it or not, it's much harder to write about days where nothing happens. The arctic weather continues and Dash and I have had enough of it. It's still too cold to take Dash on a morning walk and this change in our routine makes us both a little restless. Without a walk, Dash slaps at the back door every five minutes and then wants to come right back in again as soon as I let him out. I don't know what to do with the extra time either. Long walks give us both something to do.

I did finally make an appointment to get a haircut tomorrow and to take Dash to the vet next week. Dash is so difficult to transport in the car now that we have to schedule vet visits when Janet can get away from work for a while. I wish I knew what was going on in Dash's mind. It used to be so easy to take him to the vet myself. I hate to wait until next week, but luckily there is nothing seriously wrong. We just need to take care of some routine things that the specialists at the cancer center don't normally do.

I should have waited to pay bills yesterday, because I got some more in the mail today. I used to let the bills stack up and pay them all once a month. Then I started getting late charges. Companies have shortened the due date. They all want you to pay online now and if you pay by mail, you have to be quick. I don't know why I am so resistant to paying online. Sending and receiving mail is just a part of normal daily life that I don't want to give up yet.

When the temperature climbed to the low 30's, I took Dash on an afternoon walk. The sun was out and Dash was enjoying smelling things. I thought we were going to have a nice long walk, but a loose dog spooked Dash and made him want to come home early. I've seen this guy and his dog before. The man thinks he's trained his dog so well that he doesn't need a leash. I was amused when the dog wandered off pursuing a scent and didn't follow his owner home. I don't know why Dash was upset, because this dog was no threat to anyone while she was off chasing rabbits. I had to show the guy where his dog had gone. Why don't people understand that a leash makes everything so much easier? A leash is safer too. The small dog was chasing rabbits but it could have found coyotes instead.

I balanced my checkbook a few weeks ago. Today it was time to balance the credit card purchases. I added everything up and was one dollar off. Why are these mistakes so hard to find? I must have looked at the figures three or four times before I found the missing dollar. Online banking would eliminate these chores, but I just can't bring myself to give up paper. Things just don't seem entirely real unless I can see them on paper.

I was pleased to see the DOW sail through 26,000 today. It has definitely been a good year for stocks. I watch the market the same way some might watch a NASCAR race. I've got my favorites and I check their positions with every lap. Unfortunately there is no finish line. I wish there was a finish line with investments when you could just relax with the knowledge that you had won. You can always get out of the market if you're feeling nervous, but you hate to get out too soon. I think the economy is good and the upward trend will continue for a while. I could be wrong.

I could be wrong about everything. It's kind up humbling to realize what a guessing game life actually is. Maybe it's good that we don't know what's in our future. I think it's uncertainty that allows us to hope.

Chief is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Day 2945

The only thing on my mind today was staying warm. Not only was it the coldest day of the year, it was colder than any day last year. Even Dash knew it was too cold for comfort. As soon as he did his business in the yard this morning, he came running back inside. I kept the little ceramic heater running in the office today and it warmed the place up a bit. The office is still the coldest room in the house though. It's just too far away from the furnace.

It's hard to avoid cabin fever on days like this. I paid some bills, answered a couple of messages from clients, and picked up a new supply of phenobarbital for Dash at the vet. That was about it. I wish Dash didn't have to take the phenobarbital, but it's pretty effective at preventing epileptic seizures. We can't afford to have another seizure at this point. Dash is far too fragile.

It was still well below freezing by mid-afternoon, but I could tell that Dash wanted a walk. Although it was clear, there was a stiff wind that made it feel like we were headed toward the South Pole. I was freezing, but Dash seemed to be enjoying himself. Along the way, I spotted a large hawk being pestered by three crows. It seemed to be a metaphor for something. The hawk ignored the crows and appeared to regard them with total distain. I'd like to think that animals live in a peaceful, bucolic world, but from what I've observed, they are just as mean and nasty as we are.

Just about everything I was going to do today got postponed until tomorrow. I didn't make a vet appointment and I didn't get a haircut either. It would have been a perfect day to watch Netflix movies, but I couldn't even bring myself to turn on the television. Two long walks, a writing assignment, and a couple of website updates fill up a day pretty well. Without these things, I just flounder around.

It's weird that South Texas got a lot of snow and ice and we didn't. The weather doesn't make sense anymore, but of course nothing else does either. While I was fixing lunch, I watched a press conference where the president's doctor was describing the results of his latest physical. The assembled press corps seemed visibly disappointed that the president was in good health. It was painfully obvious that most of them just wanted him to die. This may seem normal to you, but it seemed very weird to me. I've watched enough old Perry Mason shows to know that this kind of hatred doesn't usually end well.

When I was going to pick up Dash's phenobarbital at the vet, I was listening to a program on NPR where the guy being interviewed thought that it was easier to reach goals when there was a lot of emotion, positive reinforcement, and empathy involved. It all sounded like bullshit to me. I don't rely on any of these things. To me, you've just got to keep moving. If you have the discipline to keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter how you feel, you will look back occasionally and realize that you've traveled much further than you ever thought possible.

Shelby is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, January 15, 2018

Day 2944

Don't ever get a white comforter if you have an old dog who likes to sleep on the bed. It's amazing how quickly this thing gets soiled. The comforter is too big to fit in our washing machine, so we have to take it to a laundromat. Once you go to this much trouble, you might as well wash everything else as well. We managed to do a few other things, but it was definitely a day for doing laundry. I doubt if things will stay clean long, but right now the bed looks very nice.

The roof is finally dry as well. Since there is another cold wave and possibly snow on the way, it was time to clear away the leaves and standing water. In the summer I would never bother to sweep the water off the roof if it was going to rain the next day. Winter is different. I've discovered over the years that ice buildup is bad for the roof, so I always try to remove any standing water when freezing weather is in the forecast. They say that temperatures will dip into the teens tomorrow. I hope the forecast is wrong.

I had a small victory with the computer today. On Saturday I tried to rebuild my directory and the Diskwarrior software kept crashing. I was ready to buy an upgrade, but I needed the serial number from the old software to get a lower price. I launched the program again to get the number and this time it worked. Go figure. I have an optimized directory now and my hard drive is healthy again. I have no idea why the software wasn't working on Saturday, but luckily you only need to rebuild your directory every six months or so. Blind luck saved me some money today.

While I was cleaning the house this afternoon, I watched a Jay Leno's Garage marathon on TV. Car shows are relaxing. I watch them the same way Janet watches Hallmark Christmas movies. It's weird that Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld both have shows about cars now. It must be nice to be able to buy an unlimited number of cool cars. At one point Seinfeld owned 46 Porsches. Leno has an even larger collection of exotic automobiles. I think one of the reasons I started collecting model trains years ago was that I knew I'd never have the money to collect cars. Now that I think about it, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee might be the perfect way to introduce me to Netflix binge watching. I think all 56 shows are on Netflix now.

I can't decide whether to take Dash to the vet or get a haircut this week. Dash needs his nails trimmed. On the other hand, I need a haircut too. I wish I was better at trimming Dash's nails myself. He's terrible riding in the car now. I can't risk clipping a nail too short either because of the bleeding problem. I was thinking about making an appointment at the vet for tomorrow, but I don't know if it is going to snow. I'm definitely not driving Dash around on icy roads. Jeez. Simple things have become so complicated. It might be easier to just get a haircut.

Betty is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Day 2943

I used to be an avid railfan. I liked to ride trains, read books about trains, hang out in hobby shops, and buy model trains. I built several model railroads, although I never really had a place to keep them. Eventually all three train stores in Dallas went out of business, people I knew stopped collecting trains, my own trains wound up in the storage warehouse, and I completely forgot about my old hobby. Today, I was thinking about the owner of one of those old school hobby shops and thought I'd look him up on the Internet. I wasn't expecting to find anything. The guy is older than me and I thought he retired years ago. Much to my surprise I discovered he was alive and well and owns what is billed as "The largest train store between Chicago and Atlanta." For some reason this made me feel great. It's nice to know that it is still possible for old men to pursue an obscure dream and succeed at it. I don't know anyone in Dallas these days who even knows what a train is, but apparently they are still quite popular in Kentucky.

If this store were closer, I might start hanging out in hobby shops again. Kentucky is a long way away though. I'm not much of a collector anymore either. I really doubt that I'll pursue a hobby that involves collecting things ever again. The last thing I need is more useless stuff. That being said, I hope my friend's store stays in business. I'm going to need a place to sell my trains someday and it sure isn't going to be eBay.

Since I can't hang out in hobby shops anymore, I go to the gym. Hobby shops were more fun, but the gym will keep me alive longer. I've started going right after breakfast on Sunday mornings now. The place is practically empty and there is never anyone on the basketball court. It always surprises me that I am so inconsistent on the court. Some days I can sink quite a few free throws in a row. Other days, I can't seem to hit the basket at all. I was not at my best today and I have no idea why. I was actually in a pretty good mood.

I'm getting closer and closer to binge watching on Netflix. I've set up the account on both Apple TV and the Roku Stick, but I haven't actually watched anything yet. I can't get past the enormous menu. I scan through this menu from time to time and it seems endless. You could spend the rest of your life watching Netflix movies if you were so inclined. I was bored this afternoon, so I looked at the menu again. As always, there were too way many choices. There were several things that Netflix said I had a 96% chance of liking. How do they know that much about me already? Hey, I was thinking about watching Black Mirror anyway, so it might be a good idea to just go with their suggestions.

The weather was nice today, but it is supposed to rain tomorrow. Then on Tuesday, another cold front arrives and the temperatures are expected to drop into the teens again. I wish the weather would just make up it's mind. I don't even know what to wear anymore.

Kasey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Day 2942

I'm glad I didn't wake up this morning with a message on my phone saying that a nuke was headed my way. It was all a mistake, but that didn't stop the conspiracy theories. Why is it so hard for people to believe simple human error in cases like these? Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were caused by human error. So were the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle disasters. In 1961 a B-52 accidentally dropped two nuclear bombs on the city of Goldsboro, North Carolina. Luckily, neither exploded. In 1979 a technician put a training tape into an operational computer by mistake causing NORAD to think a major soviet attack was underway. As recently as 2010 the Air Force lost control of over 50 nuclear ICBMs for over 45 minutes. The Russians made similar mistakes throughout the cold war. When you think about it, we're really lucky we're still here.

People love conspiracy theories. They'd rather believe that Stanley Kubrick staged the moon landing on a Hollywood sound stage than the fact that the entire world watched the event on live TV. There are people who believe that pharmaceutical companies invented cancer to sell drugs. Others believe that aliens are living among us. I guess it makes sense that there are people who believe that the alarm in Hawaii this morning was created by hackers for some nefarious purpose.

It's easy for me to believe human error as an explanation for just about anything. Humans are idiots. We tend to think we are much smarter than we really are. I have listened to five people try to explain Bitcoin and how blockchains work. None of them made any sense. Does anyone really know what a blockchain is? Anytime I hear someone tell me that something is completely safe and transparent, I begin to worry. Did you ever see that documentary called "The Origins of AIDS" about how tainted oral polio vaccine distributed in the Belgian Congo in the 1950's led to the beginnings of the deadly disease? It may not be a nuclear bomb that ends humanity, but one way or another we are accidentally going to do something that ends horribly wrong. That's just the way we are.

I almost made a serious error today. I tried to repair the directory on my computer using Diskwarrior without realizing that the version I was using was not compatible with the Sierra operating system. I've used Diskwarrior for decades and it has saved me from some serious crashes. I haven't used it since I upgraded my hard drive and operating system though. Oops. My bad. Luckily, I was able to force the program to abort before it caused any damage. When I was trying to figure out what to do next, I also discovered that the Apple Disk Utility no longer lets you repair permissions on your hard drive. Damn. Yesterday it was my phone. Today it is my computer. Apple is no longer my friend.

It was a beautiful day today, but it was still very cold. We had such a mild Winter last year that I keep forgetting that January is almost always very cold. I just leave my Winter coat on the sofa now because I have to put it on every time I take Dash outside. I have to follow Dash around every time he goes outside because I don't want him to eat something that will make him throw up. His rear legs are so weak that he also tends to get stuck in the dense Asian Jasmine ground cover in the back of the yard. If he poops, I carry bags so I can clean it up right away. If I don't, it is almost a certainly that I will step in it the next day.

Hopefully, I can limit my mistakes to stepping in dog poop. It's hard to avoid human errors because there is so much that can go wrong. Will I make any mistakes tomorrow? Definitely. Will my mistakes cause hundreds of thousands of people to panic? I certainly hope not.

Taylor is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, January 12, 2018

Day 2941

Slow days can be dangerous. When I don't have much to do, I tend to update software. Lately, these updates come with a lot of rude surprises. Today, I discovered that iTunes is no longer a place to buy and store apps for your phone. I've always bought apps on iTunes and installed them on the phone or iPad later. I thought it was handy that you could activate or deactivate your purchases without actually erasing them. There was also a convenient feature that made it easy to rearrange the apps so they would appear where you wanted them. It's all gone now. Apple apparently wants you to do everything on the phone itself. I guess this is what most people do anyway, but I've never been most people.

It was way too cold when I woke up to take Dash on a morning walk, but the sky was clear and I knew it would warm up later in the day. To pass the time, I made pancakes and sausages at home instead of going out for breakfast. I'm so slow that Dash went back to the bedroom and took a nap before I finished my meal. When Dash leaves the scene while you're eating, you know he's tired.

It's a good thing that Dash still sleeps a lot, because otherwise I'd never get anything done. As Dash has gotten older, he's become a lot more needy and doesn't like to be left alone. He used to be content to sleep under my desk while I'm working, but now he wants me to go sit on the bed with him. If I wanted to spend the day watching Netflix movies, this would be fine, but I still have things to do.

Today I needed to send out my January invoices, but Dash didn't want me sitting at the computer. I took him outside several times and tried to figure out what he wanted. As it turned out, all he wanted was my complete and undivided attention. I eventually had to block the office door with a dog gate. He barked a few times and then went back to sleep on the bed. I'm slowly learning that life is simpler if I wait until he's asleep before I go to the office.

By lunchtime it was warm enough to stay outside for a while and I took Dash on a nice long walk. If I'd taken him on a walk before breakfast this morning, he probably would have been as much of a pest. You have to do everything in the proper order with this dog. Sadly, I have probably encouraged this behavior. I have to do everything in the proper order myself.

We took a second walk around 4 PM, before the air started turning cooler again. Whenever I see a Dalmatian with behavior problems, I know it isn't getting enough exercise. Dalmatians are very active, energetic digs. Even an old sick one like Dash has more energy than me.

One reason I was tired today was that that I had to get up several times and take Dash outside. This is becoming more frequent and is probably related to his new diet. I'm not sure which of the various brands of food he eats is giving him loose stools, but I'm reluctant to change anything. We've got a routine going now where Dash is eating consistently again. One of these days I'm going to need to get him tested for urate crystals again. I know his new diet is nutritious, but it may cause the crystals to form again. It's always something, isn't it.

I wish it would warm up. I don't know why I'm so cold this year because it's always cold in January. It's actually been much colder in previous years, but i don't  recall wearing so many sweaters before.

Pepper is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Day 2940

I thought the weatherman made a mistake this morning when he was predicting snow. The temperature was in the mid-50's and the skies were clearing. It looked like it was going to be a nice day. Just a few hours later, I realized the weatherman was right. Between Dash's morning walk and his evening walk, the temperature dropped thirty degrees and the skies became dark and ominous. This was Texas weather at it's finest. It still amazes me how quickly things can change.

It was a quiet day, but I got a lot done. I finished my second article and shipped it off to the client. The client acknowledged the article and even thanked me, so I'm taking this as a sign that things will go smoothly again. With my writing chores out of the way, I did some minor maintenance on the few websites I still manage. I wish there was more to do, but at least I was busy for a while.

I spent way too much time deciding what to get for dinner, but ended up just going to the neighborhood Pei Wei and ordering a rice bowl. I like Pei Wei, but am convinced that they just cook one thing and give it different names. I've ordered just about everything on the menu by now and it all tastes exactly the same. I'm not being critical. There is a dependable consistency to these meals. Maybe it's just me. I don't claim to have a very sophisticated palate. All Chili's hamburgers taste the same to me too.

Dash was in good spirits today. Sometimes it's easy to forget his many medical problems. On a good day he just seems like a normal dog. He's been eating well for quite a while now, but somehow his feeding schedule has changed. We eat dinner so early these days. I usually eat my own dinner right after I feed Dash and found myself warming up my rice bowl in the microwave at 4 PM. This is quite a change, considering that we used to eat at 7 PM.

I wonder why I get so many telemarketing calls? It seemed like the phone rang every ten minutes today. Everyone in the universe must have our number by now. I have Nomorobo installed, so the phone only rings once but it still gets irritating. I think every time you list your phone number on an application it ends up getting sold to a telemarketer. This intrusive new world would have driven my Dad crazy. He always answered the phone. I never do. The only reason I keep the landline is that I'm convinced the telemarketers would follow me to my cell phone if the land line wasn't there to absorb the continuous barrage of callers. They say Nomorobo is available for iPhones now too. I'll have to check into it.

It was so cold when I took the trash out this evening that I'm considering just fixing breakfast at home tomorrow. If the forecast is right, Dash might not even get a morning walk. It is supposed to be well below freezing at sunrise. All this is making pancakes at home sound pretty good.

Suzie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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