Monday, April 23, 2018

Day 3042

The appliance repairman said that there was nothing wrong with the stove. He agreed that the stainless steel countertop got pretty darn hot when the burners were on high for a while, but could find nothing wrong with the wiring. He suggested that we stop boiling large pots of water on the stovetop, but I don't think Janet is going to like this idea. Sadly, the stove repair was a failure, but I was able to get the washing machine fixed.

All front loader washing machines have a thick rubber gasket that seals the door when you are doing a load of wash. Unfortunately this gasket retains water after you've finished doing a load and since it never gets dry, eventually the rubber starts to mold. Almost all front loader washing machines do this, which is why they are not as popular anymore. A YouTube video showed me how I could replace this gasket myself, but I'm glad I didn't try. The repairman had to to use a special tool to unlock the clamp that held the gasket in place. The YouTube video never mentioned this tool. He also had to remove a large and very heavy concrete counterweight that keeps the metal drum in balance while it is rotating. You basically had to take the machine apart to remove the thick rubber sleeve. I guess the effort was worth it though. I now have a brand new door gasket that probably won't begin to mold for another three years.

Dash slept through the entire two hours the repairman was here. Actually, he continued sleeping for an additional hour after the guy left. Dot would have spent the entire time barking. I don't know if Dash is really tired or he just doesn't care. Either way, repairmen just don't seem to bother him.

I was surprised to get a call about a very old invoice that I'd almost given up on. Apparently, the bookkeeper quit and nobody was aware of the invoice. The owner's wife was doing the books now and asked if I took credit cards. None of this sounded normal, but at least this February invoice might finally get paid. I wonder if I'll ever get any more work from this company? They used to keep me pretty busy, but these days they seem in worse shape than I am.

I got a post card from my sister thanking me for a voicemail message I'd left on her birthday. She never returned the call, but the cryptic message on the postcard was reassuring. I'm not terribly close with family, but when someone has cancer you start to worry if they disappear for a while. I guess we can go back to sending letters back and forth every few months.

I wore the silicon fitness tracker band I repaired today and it didn't immediately fall apart. In my book, that's a success. So far, there's no skin irritation either. I'm already looking for more broken silicon stuff to repair. I'm sure the Jawbone tracker will break again eventually. It might break tomorrow. For now, I am satisfied that both the tracker and the front loader washing machine will live to see another day.

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

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Day 3041

There weren't many people at the gym today. I don't talk to people at the gym, but there are many familiar faces. Apparently, I'm not the only one who has a routine they repeat over and over again. I notice when people disappear. When a younger person leaves the gym I tend to think they've gone on to bigger and better things. Maybe they got married or got a new job. When an older person leaves the gym, I wonder if they died. There was an old man who used to workout next to me. He always wore a t-shirt that said "I wish I were 80 again." When he quit coming, I didn't even have to ask. I knew he had passed away.

Life is fleeting. Almost everybody who lived on our street when we first moved here is gone now. Janet and I are the old folks in the neighborhood now. Most of the dogs I feature as my "Dalmatian of the Day" have passed away. The pictures remind me that dogs don't live nearly long enough. Sadly, I've gotten to know many of these dogs a lot better than the people who pass through my life. I don't keep up with people very well. I have a feeling I may regret this someday.

I doubt that I'll become more gregarious in my remaining years, but I certainly hope that I put the next ten years to better use than I did with the last ten years. Whenever someone who has led a rich and full life like Barbara Bush passes away, I wonder what I've done with my own life. I've had some amazing experiences, but it certainly hasn't been a purpose driven life. I'd tend to call it an accidental life.

There's nothing wrong with an accidental life. Sometimes it's better not to have a plan. I never planned to live in Dallas or have a career in advertising, but here I am. It didn't turn out so bad. I'm certainly glad that my life intersected with dogs at some point. Dogs have been a blessing.

Taking Dash on long walks every morning has made me more aware of the world around me. I know that names of native plants and animals now. I'm more aware of the weather and I'm probably in better shape than I would have been otherwise. I hate seeing Dash slow down on these walks because it reminds me that life is fleeting.

My Luddite sister has quit writing. I wonder what that means? Dash quits eating occasionally. I wonder what that means? There was a segment on Sixty Minutes tonight about Alzheimer's that was somewhat frightening. I had an uncle with Alzheimer's. My Mom used to think that my Dad had Alzheimer's, but he was really just turning off his hearing aid. He remembered; he just quit listening. Memories, even accidental memories, are important. That's why I keep writing. Each day leaves a new memory that gradually forms a trail of breadcrumbs for me to find later.

Mindy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Day 3040

I enjoy visiting the rescue Dalmatians. I often wonder how these wonderful dogs wind up stray, in animal shelters, or being surrendered by their owners. They all deserve better. The great thing about rescue organizations is that dogs like these get a second chance. For many, many years the dogs that Janet and I share our lives with have come from the Dalmatian Rescue group that we both volunteer with. This group has found good homes for hundreds of dogs like the ones we visited today. When they become part of the rescue program, the dogs are often scared, abused, and in poor health. It is our job to make sure that when they find their forever home, they are all healthy, happy, and well adjusted pets. I don't spend as much time with rescue as I used to, but I still think it is one of the most important things you can do. Even if you are not fond of people, you can still make a dog's life better.

It was a good day to visit the kennel. The weather was dismal today, so most weekend chores were out of the question. We did manage to give Dash his morning walk before the rain started, but after that it was better to stay inside. I guess this is normal Spring weather, but it sure seems wet to me. The trouble with Texas is that as soon as the rainy season is over, it's going to be hot and dry for the rest of the year.

Dash didn't seem to mind that we were gone today, but he was really interested in smelling our clothes when we returned. I wish he would get his eating habits sorted out. I had to open three different cans of food before I found something that he would eat for dinner. I wish I knew if he always felt symptoms from his vestibular disease. I'd hate to think that eating has become unpleasant, because every Dalmatian I've even known lives to eat. This was certainly true of the dogs we visited today. It would have much more difficult to photograph them if we didn't arrive with a pocket full of dog treats.

I think the silicon wrist band I repaired the other day has fully cured, but I still haven't had the nerve to wear it. Maybe tomorrow. It certainly didn't take much glue to fix things. If this stuff works, I have enough glue on hand to repair silicon watch bands for the rest of my life.

Janet made spagetti for dinner tonight. I love Italian food, even though it almost always gives me heartburn. I wonder how Italians deal with this? Tomato sauce is a well known trigger for acid reflux. If you have problems with acid reflux, the first thing your doctor will tell you is to avoid acidic foods. It's a shame that pizza and pasta are often at the top of the list. I could live on this stuff.

The best time to view the Leonid Meteor Shower is tonight. That's not going to happen. It's still raining. Dash didn't even get an afternoon walk today. I hope the weather clears up tomorrow. I need to go to the gym and it's time to start doing some serious yard work.

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Day 3039

I'm happy to report that there are still a few good people in the world. When Janet and I were walking Dash this evening we saw an injured dog in the park. Several other people noticed the dog as well and we all tried to convince it to come to us without scaring it away. The dog was very young and needed medical attention. He appeared to be very friendly with the dogs we all were walking, but was frightened of humans. It looked like he had been dumped in the park. He was very hard to catch, so I went back home to get a slip leash and some dog treats. It took some patience, but eventually the dog started to trust us and one of the women was able to put a lead around his neck. She was going to take the dog to her vet for treatment and see if they would help her get it into a good adoption program. I have no idea who the folks we met this afternoon were, but they were all good people. The injured pup won't be eaten by coyotes tonight and hopefully his next family will appreciate him much more than the people who dumped him.

Before all this dramatic activity, it was just a normal Friday. I had a nice breakfast, picked up some groceries for the weekend, and made an appointment for the appliance repairman to come out again. It's not the refrigerator this time. The refrigerator is fine, but there's a problem with the stove. Whenever we turn on a burner, the stainless steel counter top gets really hot. I think you could fry an egg on the countertop. This definitely isn't normal. I asked for the same repairman who fixed our refrigerator, and the dispatcher laughed. "He's our MacGyver ," she told me.

I'm reasonably good at fixing things, but I'm definitely no MacGyver. I was pretty much of a klutz today when I tried to repair the silicon fitness tracker band. I was super careful with the Sil-Poxy adhesive, since the warnings on the label seemed ominous. Despite my best intentions, I still managed to get some of the evil stuff on my hands. I know I should have worn gloves, but I'm even more clumsy with gloves on. Also this stuff fuses rubber together, so I thought if I spilled the stuff on the gloves, I might have trouble getting them off again. At any rate, the repaired band is curing now and my hand seems OK. We'll see whether the fitness tracker still works in the morning.

With or without a fitness tracker, it's pretty easy to tell that I'm not getting enough sleep. Dash got me up in the middle of the night again. I don't even need a watch to know what time it is. If Jupiter is in the sky, it is still pretty early. If Saturn and Mars are in the sky, it is near morning. It's been very clear outside for the past several nights, but I can't linger and look at the sky. If I don't get back to the bedroom quickly, Dash will steal my place on the bed.

There are a lot of new Dalmatians in the rescue program, so I may go up to the boarding kennel with Janet this weekend so I can take pictures of them. I'm not as good about keeping the website current as I used to be, but then I'm not as good about anything as I used to be. As always, I'm hoping for an uneventful weekend. I still haven't heard anything from the roofers. It looks like I might have to repair the leak myself.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Day 3038

The tree trimmer came over today to give me an estimate. The dead limb I was worried about hangs directly over the house and it seems like it would be difficult to gently lower it down with a rope. No problem, the guy told me. I'll take his word for it. This is something I would never attempt by myself. I need to schedule this work before the roofers come over, but that shouldn't be a problem. I'll be lucky if I can get the roofers over here by June.

I was reading the instructions for the special glue I bought to repair my fitness band and I noticed something in the fine print that said "Do not let this product come in contact with skin." WTF? How can I repair a wrist band if the repair can't come in contact with my skin? I need to contact the manufacturer about this. Silicon is used in all sorts of medical products. Silicon masks are also common in film and the theater. Why would anyone make a repair product that couldn't be used in these situations? Maybe the glue just can't come near skin until it has fully cured. I'll be real disappointed if I can't use this glue. Basically, if I can't glue the fitness tracker back together, it goes in the trash.

Dash seems to be slowly inching back to a more regular schedule. He got me up at midnight and again just before sunrise. While this may seem inconvenient, it is much better than getting up at 3 AM. I was hoping that Dash would sleep through the night like he did yesterday, but no such luck. At least he is eating normally again.

It was a nice day to be outside, so I tried to repair some of the roof panels on the greenhouse. It's been really windy this Spring and these panels keep coming loose. I definitely should have worn a long sleeve shirt. The translucent panels are made of fiberglass and my arms were itching for the rest of the day. Fiberglass is terrible stuff. It looks solid but there are always sharp little fibers that come off when you touch it. It's ironic that I was worried about the silicon glue today when I really should have been worried about the fiberglass.

I'm dreading going over to the storage warehouse and taking an inventory of my collection before my friend from Kentucky arrives in town to pick it up. This is going to take a long time and I'm sure I'll have misgivings about liquidating a bunch of stuff it took me so many years to accumulate. If I could go back in time, the first thing I'd do is tell my younger self not to bother with collecting things. The older you get, the less collections matter. In the long run, it is a lot better to have the cash than a bunch of dusty stuff in a storage warehouse.

This week has gone quickly. It is already time to take the trash to the curb again. On Thursday evenings I often read Yelp reviews about restaurants I'm thinking about visiting the next morning. Usually I just end up confused. There will almost always be great reviews right next to terrible reviews. It must be hard to run a restaurant. It's probably just about impossible to please everybody.

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Day 3037

I'm losing track of the days again. The main thing that make one day different from the next is how Dash is acting. He is totally unpredictable. Last night he slept all night, although I woke up several times in anticipation of his usual need to go outside. He seemed disoriented when he woke up this morning, but returned to normal after about thirty minutes. He seemed in good spirits on our morning walk and then slept most of the day after we returned. When it was time for dinner, he turned his nose up at everything. I couldn't tell if he was feeling nauseous or just being stubborn. I tried all his favorites and he wouldn't eat anything. I left some food in his bowl and went about my business.  About an hour later I noticed that he'd changed his mind and decided the food was OK after all. He wouldn't take an afternoon walk with me, but when Janet came home from work he decided that walking was OK again. I wonder what causes these mood swings? Dogs are supposed to be predictable.

I'm having trouble getting people to return my calls. I'm ready to clean up the back yard and get new St. Augustine grass put in, but the landscaper hasn't called me back. I haven't heard from the roofer either. He sent me an e-mail about a month ago saying he'd take care of things, but that was the last I've heard from him. I did finally get a call from the tree guy, but he just told me that he was in the middle of something and to call him again tomorrow. Eventually, I'll get all these things taken care of,  but nobody seems very excited about my little projects.

I was slightly excited when I the UPS guy delivered the special silicon glue I ordered. I had to order two tubes of this exotic adhesive to meet the company's minimum order requirements and shipping cost $10. I could have found a replacement UP3 fitness band for about the same price. I wonder why I'm so obsessed with fixing things? Oddly, I'm really curious to see whether this glue works.

We encountered a bunch of Great Egrets along the shoreline this morning. I wanted to get closer so I could take a good picture, but Dash wasn't interested. Dash is not interested in birds at all. I always carry a small pocket camera with a 30x zoom but the pictures often leave a lot to be desired. I never take a good camera while I'm walking Dash. Dash is a great companion, but he's a terrible photo assistant. It's easier to just concentrate on walking.

I watched another Space X launch on my computer this afternoon. These guys are really getting good at this stuff. Today's payload was a telescope that will look for planets orbiting other nearby stars. I wonder whether humans will eventually reach the stars or just become extinct after we ruin our own planet. It's a toss up.

Mattie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Day 3036

Dash surprised everybody today. He was well behaved at the vet. He didn't act up or bark in the car. He let the nurse take his blood pressure. He didn't squirm or try to escape when the vet gave him the rabies shot. Maybe Dash has turned over a new leaf. This was the first time he's been a good dog at the vet in many months. We'll have to go back for a Leptospirosis shot in May, but hopefully vet appointment won't be as frequent now that the blood clot worries have subsided a bit.

Dash was eager to take a walk when we returned from our vet appointment, so breakfast was very late this morning. At least Dash took a nice walk. He's pretty reliable in the morning, but I still have trouble getting him to leave the house in the afternoon. Nothing is predictable with Dash anymore. I was totally surprised at how good he was at the vet today. I never know what he's going to eat at any given time, and I can never predict when he's in the mood for an afternoon walk. They say dogs like a predictable routine. Not Dash. He likes to mix things up.

It's weird that only two days after that Sixty Minutes report about how terrible Allegiant Airlines is that an engine exploded on a Southwest Airlines flight and killed a passenger. Southwest has a good safety record, so I guess you never know when your number is up. I'm certainly going to be reluctant to sit in a window seat again. I'm certain that the poor woman who almost got sucked out of the plane never expected that a routine flight to Dallas would be her last.

I hate stories like this because I have enough fears and phobias already. I definitely don't need to add fear of flying to the list. I rarely stay out late at night anymore. I find driving in heavy traffic stressful. When I go to a restaurant I wonder if I'm going to get food poisoning. I'm always looking for snakes when I walk Dash. Nothing seems safe anymore. This isn't a great way to live, but I don't think I'm being paranoid. Just turn on the evening news tonight and you'll probably agree with me about the state of the world.

I almost called my accountant today to remind him to file my taxes. Luckily, I realized how ridiculous this would sound and didn't make the call. I think I actually did do this a few years ago and the accountant just laughed at me. Jeez. I've got to learn to trust people. At least a little.

I wonder if Barbara Bush will be the last person in the political arena to be loved and respected by everybody. I'm hearing praise and tributes from both sides of the political fence tonight. It's probably the end of an era.

The national news wasn't good today, but it wasn't a bad day for a recluse like me. I was pleased that the stock market went up again and even more pleased that Dash was a good boy at the vet.

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

Monday, April 16, 2018

Day 3035

It's amazing how long it takes to do nothing. Maybe I accomplished something today, but it would be hard to prove. I found a place that sells the weird silicon glue I've been looking for in a smaller more affordable size. I was just about ready to order the glue online when I discovered that the seller wanted to charge $18 to ship the small 1/2 ounce tube. Jeez. The glue itself only costs $11. This seemed ridiculous, especially since you could easily put the small tube of glue in a bubble pack envelope and mail it with two first class stamps. I canceled the order and did some more looking until I eventually found a place in town that stocked the glue. Do I want to drive 20 miles on a busy freeway to pick this stuff up, or pay way too much for shipping? It's a tough choice.

I heard on TV that the supreme court is hearing a case tomorrow that could end up forcing online retailers to charge sales tax. That would really suck. I have purchased computers, cameras, and electronic equipment online for years specifically to avoid paying sales tax. Sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes, cigarette taxes, and much, much more never seem to be enough. The government always wants more. We'll see what happens, but I'm going to be real disappointed if I have to pay sales tax when I order something from Sweetwater or B&H Camera.

I made an appointment to take Dash tomorrow morning for his rabies booster. He's so old now that I don't think he needs the shot, but it's the law. At least the city doesn't require the vaccine every year like they used to. You only need a booster shot once every three years now and many vets think that the vaccine is actually effective for up to seven years. Dash has had a bad reaction to some immunizations in the past, so I never look forward to these shots as he becomes old and frail. I wish these decisions could just be between the vet and the pet's owner. Why does the government need to get involved?

Our neighbors are having to replace their sewer line. What a mess. Since our houses are about the same age, I've started to wonder about the condition of our own sewer line. We've already had problems with our water lines, so it's something to think about. When our house was built in the mid-1950's, they used copper pipes inside the house and heavy cast iron pipes outside. These pipes were pretty durable, but everything rusts or corrodes eventually. I wonder how the PVC pipes they use today will look fifty years from now? The plastic pipes will probably be fine, but I can't imagine that the purple glue they use to join these pipes together will last that long.

I have only a single outstanding invoice now. When even the slow and delinquent payers are current on all their accounts, do I even have a business left? Probably not. I'm a pretty good dog nurse, but I'm really going to have to find something to do with myself when the business officially dies.

Becker is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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