Archive for the ‘Behind the scenes’ Category

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

Thursday, 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

Monday, 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.

Back from travel

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Just returned this evening from a trip to New York. Part of it was fine, but I came down (hard!) with something on Christmas Day. Since then, I’ve been congested, unable to sleep at night, unable to stay awake during the day, and generally miserable.

On my return, I had a few hundred spam emails and pending comments for this blog, mostly trying to advertise sneakers, boots, headphones, sunglasses, drugs, shemale porn, surprises (“click the upcoming website”), and one for personalized Hanukkah pencils. They’ve been simple links, links with text in broken English, links in Japanese characters, in Chinese characters, and several in Arabic characters. At least my blog is so obscure and ignored that I can safely presume that any comments I receive are spam – the last valid comment came in over a year ago.

So here I am …

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

… sitting at home, with plumbers (plural) working on the drain mechanisms of my two tubs, and my car in the shop because it broke down on my commute home yesterday.

The tubs need repair because the lever that shifts the drain mechanism is made of two dissimilar metals – a bad idea in moist environments – and I was unaware that I had to open and close the drains regularly in order to prevent corrosion from building up and locking the mechanisms. Bleah.

Replacing the drain mechanism is a two-plumber job, involving one plumber working in the tub and the other beneath the tub. It’s taken three hours or so to do the upstairs tub (the easy one). For the downstairs tub, the plumber will have to chip away some of the cement floor beneath the tub in order to have room for the new drain mechanism. Again, bleah.

The car is in the shop because, apparently, Saturns with standard transmissions are notorious for having problems with the mechanisms connecting the shift lever to the transmission. When you’re on the road, and all of a sudden the shift lever starts flopping around, it’s not a happy occasion. This is the second time I’ve had it happen. The first time was almost exactly a year ago – Marion and I were returning home from a play, and when I shifted into neutral at a stop light, all of the normal “feel” of the shifter went away, and it flopped around loosely. I flipped the lever around a couple of times and joked to Marion that she shouldn’t feel bad, this sort of thing happened to every guy now and then, but there wasn’t much humor involved in waiting for a tow truck at midnight, miles from home. My mechanic replaced the cables that were part of the linkage mechanism, and I was good to go.

This time, I was on my way home and it happened while I was shifting gears coming away from a stop light. It wasn’t the cables this time. It was a couple of plastic parts that the cables go to. Same effect, though. I’m just lucky that both times, the car ended up in neutral. If it had been in gear, it would have been tougher getting it onto the tow truck.

Joe tells me the repair parts may be in tomorrow, so I may get the car back tomorrow afternoon. Not the way I wanted to spend today, but what can you do? Once more, and third time’s the charm … bleah.


Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Ten years ago today, I posted the first article on my first website. That blog lasted a little more than three years. I moved from there to here so that I could obtain my own domain.

There’s nothing significant in that first post (or, indeed, most of my posts), but it’s interesting to me to see some of the sites I had in my blogroll back then.

Did you miss me?

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Probably not – I doubt that there are many who read this blog. However, my ISP recently upgraded things, and I was unable to access admin mode for a while. I’ve got a different interface to deal with now, but it shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s likely time for another Miscellany post; I have a bunch of accumulated links to deal with.

Proficiency in English is too much to ask for, apparently

Monday, August 6th, 2012

I get spam comments submitted to this website all the time, even though I’m neither very prolific nor is the blog very popular. However, could they at least try to make it less obvious that they don’t speak English (even if it’s their only language)? I just got the following comment submitted by someone spamming for a real estate firm, and, while its poor grammar is, unfortunately, all too plausible today, it still bothers me:

naturally like your website but you have to check the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to inform the reality then again I’ll definitely come again again.

Tough trip for tech

Monday, November 28th, 2011

I just got back from a trip to New York (NYC and Binghamton/Syracuse). Overall, I had a great time, but I can’t say the same for much of the technology I took with me. My cellphone came through without problems, but my camera and laptop both suffered.

The camera (a Sony DSC-TX5) got turned on my pocket, where I’d started to carry it after I noticed the stitching on the belt strap on the pouch I normally kept it in had come almost completely undone. When this happened, it appears that the touchscreen got recalibrated. I can’t get it back into working order, because, with the touchscreen as far out of calibration as it is, I can’t operate the menus to invoke the touchscreen calibration routine. If there’s a way to do it through the USB connection, Sony won’t admit it, so I’m left with sending it in for service (or buying a replacement). The current more-or-less equivalent camera (the DSC-TX9, I think), has more megapixels, which is likely a point against it in my book. Some years ago, I read a very good article that made the point that most point-and-shoot cameras don’t have lenses that are good enough to make more than 7-8 megapixels worthwhile. My camera has 10 megapixels, and the newer model has 14, IIRC.

The laptop is a different story. It worked through most of the trip without problem, but Friday morning, the screen was totally dead. I tried a number of things, and it appeared that everything was working except the display. Luckily, I have a smartphone with internet access, and a quick search for “MacBook Pro screen dead” revealed that this is a known problem caused by defective video chips that were supplied to Apple. Because of that, Apple decided that repairs of this problem would be free of charge, even if your laptop was no longer covered by warranty, as long as it occurred within 4 years of purchase. I’m probably out of luck – I’m about 3-4 weeks past 4 years. Maybe they’ll be lenient.

As it is, I’m just glad that Apple put the ability to boot into “target disk” mode into the OS – I’m currently moving the contents of my hard drive over to an external USB drive prior to taking the laptop in for evaluation/repair. I’ve read that Apple, like numerous other repair centers, has been known to reformat a hard drive even when it’s not necessary, just because it makes it easier for them. Since the MacBook has been my primary system for a few years now, I’m not willing to let them do that without getting a current backup (my last one is a bit out of date). It took me a while to find a local store that had the correct FireWire cable (even my local Apple Store didn’t), but the process seems to be going smoothly enough.

I’ve been corrected

Friday, November 4th, 2011

A couple of years ago, I reminisced about the early days of personal computing.

Yesterday, a comment showed up on that post, pointing out that one of my memories wasn’t accurate, from the pioneer in the field who was involved.


Missed Anniversary

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

I knew it was coming up, and I still missed it. I started blogging at this site five years ago, as of August 24th, 2006. I’d been blogging a little over three years at my previous site, but I decided that I wanted my own domain name.

I chose “” as the domain for the phrase, “Wheels within wheels, bendreth.” The only other “bendreth” I could find was a bicycle-centric site on Blogspot, for which the phrase also seems appropriate. Although it wasn’t as obvious at the time, that blog had apparently gone dormant or dead – it’s still there, but hasn’t been updated since before I acquired my domain.