Tunesday

August 19th, 2014

Been a while since I’ve done one of these. Figured I’d do one to mark Ginger Baker’s 75th birthday. He’s been in a lot of groups – here are selections from a few of them.

No Capes!

Seen on this evening’s walk

August 14th, 2014

Three-Great-Horned

So long, Butch. I’ll hold down the fort.

August 7th, 2014

When I first met Butch, it was at a party hosted by Paul, the guy my friend Sarah was living with. She and her sister Penelope were entertaining the guests with their antics and by generally being cute. The next New Year’s Day, Sarah called and said, “I’m leaving Paul. Can I stay with you for a few days until Marsha can take me in?”

I told her of course she could. She showed up later that day with Orson, Butch, and Penelope in tow. A few days later, she and Orson moved in with Marsha, leaving Butch and Penelope with me. They were both about a year old at that time, and having two not-quite-kittens around was fun.

A week or so later, Sarah said Paul wanted one of the kittens, so Penelope left, because Sarah thought Penelope would be less likely to get into serious trouble there (Butch had a lot more … personality). A couple years later, when Butch sneaked into the dryer after I’d finished my last load and got trapped, I figured Sarah had been correct.

She used to sleep with me. We’d go to bed, and she’d wrap her hind legs around my upper arm and knead my neck for a while. She’s the only cat I’ve known that snored. After a few years, she started putting on a lot of weight, and I acquired Kiki to be a playmate for her. That didn’t work out, and I had to banish both cats from my bedroom at night.

There was never enough lap time for her, and she’d let you know if she thought you weren’t petting her properly. She was a very loud cat until recently, and was a shedding engine from the day I got her. I remember telling Sarah about a week after she left Butch with me, “I had no idea that I had such a cat hair deficiency in my life!” She loved to spend time in the garden, even though I didn’t let her out much or without supervision, since she was declawed before I got her. If I didn’t supervise her closely enough, she’d start exploring the neighborhood.

A couple of years ago, she started losing a lot of weight and her fur got ugly. The doctor prescribed thyroid medication, which stabilized her weight around 9 pounds (down from a 15-pound peak). The medicine helped a lot, bringing back her appetite, letting her put a little weight back on, getting her fur back in shape, and making her healthier overall.

It’s no longer enough, though. Her appetite’s been lessening for a few weeks, and now she’s pretty much stopped eating. She can still get onto her favorite furniture, but she’s not steady on her feet, and sometimes has to try twice or more to jump onto a lap. Last night, she stopped to lie down three times going from her chair in the living room to the food dishes in the kitchen. This morning, for the first time in years, she wasn’t outside my bedroom door to let me know that she was ready for breakfast. She was already in the kitchen, lying down on a rug near the food bowls. She did eat a little, but threw it up almost immediately.

At 9:00 this morning, we went into the vet’s office. Once we were in the examining room, I kept Butch on my lap and petted her until the vet asked for her weight. She was 6 pounds. She lay down on the counter and I continued to pet her until the end. The vet came back shortly with two hypodermics. We put her on a towel and he gave her a muscle relaxant. Less than a minute later, she looked almost as though she were asleep, but her eyes were still partly open. Her breathing was so slow and shallow that I thought she might not even need the second shot. Shortly thereafter, I said “Goodbye, Butch” as he gave her the euthanasia injection. Her breathing stopped almost immediately.

At 9:35, I left with a cat carrier full of about 17 years of memories.

UPDATE: I almost forgot – I wrote a poem for her several years ago.

Partners in Crime
An Ode to US Patent #5443036

A mighty huntress is my Butch, a cat both fast and agile.
I try to keep her occupied, and far from all things fragile.
She is a wild barbarian cat – can’t find a toy? She’ll make one.
If laundry isn’t put away, she’ll find the socks and take one.
But better far than sock of mine is spot of red from laser.
Although she never catches it, it doesn’t seem to faze her.
She’ll chase it ‘cross the floors and walls, and track it on the ceiling.
She chatters when it goes too high, her frustrations revealing.
We have fun; I think it helps to keep her lithe, not fattened.
Although, it seems that we’ve been violating someone’s patent.
Must I pay a license fee, else suffer time in jail?
I don’t think that appeals to me, and Butch won’t go my bail.
The patent office may proclaim they’re only following rules,
But when they granted this one, I think that they were fools.

Plumb and Plumber

July 28th, 2014

Saturday was a slightly worrisome day. I was trying a new bagel recipe, and the dough was stiff enough that my stand mixer (a 6-quart KitchenAid) quit while kneading. I called Marion to let her know that these would likely be the most expensive bagels she’d ever had. I then went online to look for troubleshooting and repair information.

Luckily, it was only a thermal cutout to prevent damage from overheating. Half an hour later, the mixer worked without problems.

The other problem was that one of my cats decided to start disassembling the toilet in the ground floor bathroom. Nothing serious, but whichever cat it was (and I have my suspicions) had removed one of the caps that cover the bolts that hold the toilet in place, and had been batting it around as a toy. Idiot beast.

I think I’ve mentioned that I like snarky movie reviews

July 16th, 2014

I caught most of Conan the Destroyer this evening. I find it enjoyable enough, but I preferred the first one. The sidekick in this one is very annoying, among other things. I really like the music during the scene when they’re reviving the god, though.

I do remember part of one review when the movie came out, referencing Wilt Chamberlain’s role as a warrior assigned to kill Conan: “The man can’t even defense Bill Russell, how’s he going to stop Arnold the Barbarian?”

Now, that is a comment that’s tough to refute.

Good, interesting, music

July 12th, 2014

I’ve been down for a few days with some sort of digestive system disorder, but Marion had tickets for Thursday’s performance of the Colorado Symphony at the Arvada Center, so we went. The weather was threatening, but never actually rained during the concert, which was nice.

There was music I’d heard before, and music I hadn’t. Two pieces, one of which was Habanera from Carmen, featured a soloist on musical saw. Definitely not what we were expecting, but quite interesting. Scott O’Neil, the conductor, was also very entertaining. He started doing high kicks during the performance of Can-Can, and had some amusing anecdotes about some of the pieces, including the problems with performing certain pieces at educational concerts (“The theme from Peter Gunn? Oh, no, Mr. Neil, we can’t have Peter Gunn performed!”)

The concert was in three sets, with two intermissions. The first two sets were mostly classical music, and the third set had all of the television and movie themes: Peter Gunn, the Pink Panther, Raiders March, and so on. The only way the third set could have been better for me would have been if it included Harlem Nocturne, which was used as the theme for the Mike Hammer TV show.

Happy Independence Day

July 4th, 2014

As I sit here and listen to my neighbor’s children setting off fireworks, in addition to the larger (and louder) fireworks being set off outside my neighborhood, I’m torn.

On the one hand, I dislike the fact that I’m going to be getting less sleep tonight than I’d like because of the noise. On the other hand, I appreciate the fact that there are people who are willing to defy the local municipalities who outlaw everything but sparklers. On the gripping hand, I have to realize that most of these people are idiots who are defying the law because of a desire to play with explosives, not out of principle.

Then again, maybe I’m over-thinking things. Take your freedoms where you find them, people. The freedom to be obnoxious and foolish is necessary. As C. S. Lewis said in his book, God in the Dock: Essays on Modern Theology:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

The Great Loss

June 28th, 2014

It’s the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip, the event that triggered the start of World War I. General Sherman famously said, “War is Hell.” World War I, also known as “The Great War” and “The War to End War,” was particularly hellish.

I’ve seen estimates that up to eighty percent of the young men of that generation in Europe were crippled or lost their lives, between valiant but stupid charges in the trench warfare, the poison gases, the shelling, and the disease. That is incredibly tragic, but the extent of the killing had other effects once the fighting was over – a lot of traditions and knowledge were lost because the people who maintained them either died during the war, or had no-one to pass them on to after the war.

Among the knowledge lost was most of Europe’s martial arts. There were schools and clubs for such things as quarterstaff, rapier, and the like. Japan has had a continuous martial arts tradition, but after the war in Europe, there were either no instructors or no students, because there were too few men left for any of them to have time for such activities. That’s in addition to the fact that not many people overall take such classes, anyway, so there were fewer who had the interest, let alone the time.

There are groups such as ARMA working today to reconstruct some of the knowledge that was lost. It’s slow going, but fascinating.

Now, imagine that four out of five men in their late teens and 20s die in the next few years. What might be lost? Could our society survive both the loss of manpower and the loss of continuity? Are we more or less robust than those earlier societies? Where would vacuums (of power, of people, of whatever) occur, and who would fill them?

And what would that mean for you?

Dueling with himself

June 26th, 2014

I ran across this and thought it was pretty fun.

One of my neighbors is an asshole

June 15th, 2014

Our trash pickup normally comes on Friday mornings, so you usually see trash cans appearing outside garages on Thursday evening. The only time it changes occurs when we have a holiday during the week, which causes pickup to happen Saturday.

I put my trash out this past week like I usually do. Friday, when I got home, my trashcan was still full, so I thought they hadn’t picked it up. I left it out, even though I couldn’t think of a holiday that would have caused the delay. Saturday evening, it was still full. This morning I realized that the trash in my trashcan wasn’t mine. Someone had come by after trash was picked up and dumped their trash into my can.

I understand that they didn’t want their trash stinking up their garage for the next week, but I’m pissed they felt justified in stinking up mine.