Saturday, April 30, 2005

Mia, Queen of All She Surveys.

Mia doesn’t regard my taking in the pregnant homeless cat so much an act of Christian charity as an act of terrorism and unspeakable betrayal. So you might well imagine that the sounds of the Outdoor Cat and her four kittens (“the evil spawn” in Mia-speak) behind That Door are annoying the daylights out of Mia, and you’d be right. Last night, Mia did her impression of a Giant Indonesian Hissing Cockroach in the hallway outside the Outdoor Cat’s room. And I have learned to check the inside of my shoes before I put them on.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

What does the King of the Geeks have in his garage?

Or, more likely, in his mother's garage, next to the basement he's living in.

Now available on eBay, a life-size X-Wing fighter. Engines, armaments, and R2 units not included. (Buy it today for only $85,000.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Outdoor Cat and kittens.

The kittens' eyes aren't open yet, but they're beginning to walk around some. It will be fun - and bedlam - in a few more days, when they're exploring the bedroom.

Outdoor Cat is adapting to the indoors pretty well. She hasn't made a break for the outside - which would only be the hallway, and that's pretty well guarded by Mia - and looks forward to 20 minutes of being petted and having her chin scritched. I think she's learned the value of being an indoor cat.

(And please excuse the photography - the photo was taken in a fairly dark closet without a flash. I'll have better photos when their little eyes are open and they're running around in a reasonably well-lit room.)

Monday, April 25, 2005

It's safe to fly again.

The Feds are on the case. Now, even rogue penguins have to go through metal detectors.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Today's Cat update.

Mother and kittens are finally doing well. The poor Little Mama was unhappy and grumpy this morning, and I discovered why this afternoon - she still had a stillborn kitten or two inside her, which she was finally able to deliver while I was off at work today. So when I looked in on her this evening, she looked tired but satisfied and willing to have company. The four kittens seem to be fine. They appear to eat most of the time, and then sleep the rest of the time, the better to save up energy so they can eat.

When I came home from work early yesterday, my neighbor was out working in his yard and wondered why I was home early. (Clearly he was hoping I'd mow my own yard, and he was out of luck in that regard.) I told him about the cat and that I expected I'd have kittens, and that got him started. He knew the cat well - it being the neighborhood stray, and all - and noted that this was at least the third year it had had a litter of kittens. Last year's litter was delivered in his trailer, and when he discovered them, he went into the house to get a box so he could take the kittens inside and then to the SPCA so they could be adopted instead of growing up to be strays. By the time he got back outside, though, Little Mama had moved them to a different hiding place. So he was kind of impressed that I was able to capture her and get her inside, and pleased that I plan to get her spayed. He also confirmed that she didn't have any owners, not that this came as a huge surprise.

Mia is clearly unhappy with this newest turn of events: having to share her house with one Alien Cat was bad enough, but five of them? She is planning her revenge. Some of that revenge includes inappropriate pooping, I've discovered.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habemus kittens!

Three, so far.

Update: Four, at last count. Three black-and-gray tabby striped ones (one with a splash of orange on a back leg), and one tuxedo kitten with white sneakers. And an unhappy enough mother that it's possible more are on the way.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Livestrong ... and go out on top.

Lance Armstrong announced that he's retiring after this year's Tour de France. It'll be sad to see him go, but it's the class way to go: leave while you're on top. No better way for him to go than in pursuit of his 7th straight TdF victory.

What kind of English?

Here's what someone would have you believe that I speak:

Your Linguistic Profile:

70% General American English

20% Yankee

10% Dixie

0% Midwestern

0% Upper Midwestern

You can find most anything on the Web, can't you?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Today's Outdoor Cat update.

No kittens yet.

The Outdoor Cat is continuing to settle nicely into her prison cell, or as she’s finally beginning to understand, her luxury hotel room. She spends a lot of time sprawled in front of the window overlooking the front yard. In fact, near as I can tell, she sleeps there at night, so she clearly feels a lot more comfortable than the first night when she hid in the closet.

She’s certainly eating a lot, but that’s to be expected if she’s eating for six. And she’s gotten over all pretense of shyness. When I come into the room, she launches into a complex medley of meowing, purring, and head-butting. She does a convincing act of being happy to see me; even after I’ve fed her, so it just might be sincere.

She also makes a wide variety of meows and trills. While most of them are clearly feline-based, a couple reveal that she’s spent time watching movies: she has a growl that is a dead-on imitation of an Ewok, and a trill that sounds just like a Skeksis.

Beer Bars.

The opinions of my friends to the contrary notwithstanding, I actually do not spend all of my spare time drinking in beer bars. So it was with a bit of surprise to find that I have, none the less, been in a number of the best ones, at least as determined by a poll on Beer Advocate. Yes, yes, I understand: This kind of rigor-free poll is nothing more than a popularity contest and a bar’s rating may reflect little more than how many people have heard of the bar or how many people live in the same city as it.

A couple of the ones listed are in Richmond, and I’ve been to them. Fairly frequently. (The Capital Ale House ranked # 30 is about a 10-minute drive from home and the one ranked #19 is a block-and-a-half from my place of daytime despair [ah, I mean “work”].) I’ve also been to # 16, the Great White Bear in Portland ME, and to # 17, the Toronado in San Francisco (although not to its trademark annual barleywine festival)

One of the advantages of a ranking like this, created with no objective comparative measurements, is that it leaves plenty of room for discussion and debate, for suggesting that your favorite place which isn't listed in the top 50 is actually better than ones in the top 10 or that those in the list are clearly in the wrong order. And to that end, I would suggest that the Mellow Mushroom in Charlottesville is better than the Toronado, and the rankings of the two Capital Ale Houses ought to be reversed.

A Jedi craves not these things, either.

Okay, this is just frightening. They now have Star Wars costumes that you can buy for your dog. The Yoda costume is above. They also have a Darth Vader costume, and two different Princess Leia costumes - one is the traditional white robe from Episode 4, and the other is the Slave Leia outfit from Return of the Jedi. Now, I can certainly understand wanting to have a Slave Leia costume and someone to wear it, but a metal bikini (or its cloth equivalent) for your dog? How very, very bizarre. And you need not share the further details with me.

Other newly released Episode III items are tainted with the peculiar as well. There’s a whole bunch of M&M figures in Episode III costumes (my favorite is the Emperor), there’s a Team Jedi baseball jersey, and there’s even a Darth Vader lawn sprinkler.

Three months ago, who would have thought that the Darth Tater Mister Potatohead toy and the Darth Vader lava lamps would have been the sane and reasonable marketing tie-ins?

Only 35 days to go.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Another outdoor cat update.

I took her to a quick vet check-up Saturday, and the vet agreed that she's pregnant, and guesses that she'll deliver "sometime within the next 30 days". Wow. Way to go out on a limb, there. The vet did say that kittens weren't imminent, as the Alien Cat has yet to show any mammary development. No guess as to number of kittens without doing an x-ray, something I thought was unnecessary. The vet also thought that the cat is about 5 or 6 years old, based on tartar buildup and the like.

The Outdoor Cat was not pleased by the trip, the cat carrier, or the vet inspection, and when she was released back into the torture chamber, she made a beeline for the back of the closet (where she'd slept the first night, although she's slept out in plain sight the other nights). Poor, unhappy kitty.

Google Sightseeing.

As soon as Google Maps became available, there would naturally be a blog with neat shots taken from the satellite images available on Google Maps. Stadiums, landmarks, bridges, and odd things in the landscape. My current favorites include Mount St. Helens and the guy who selectively cleared a forest so that what remained spelled out his last name in letters 1700 feet wide and 3100 feet tall, so that his name would be visible from space.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Outdoor Cat update.

Well, I now have the cat safely ensconced (or, as she’d put it, “cruelly imprisoned”) in the guest bedroom (“torture chamber”). I grabbed her the night before last around 10:00 and swept her upstairs past Mia, who didn’t even look twice. Once the new cat got into the bedroom and was set loose, she did normal indoor-cat explorations (jumping onto the bed and furniture, sniffing around under the bed, etc.), and settled down. Well, until it was time for me to go to bed, at which point she started voicing displeasure. This naturally got Mia’s attention, and she took up sentry position outside that bedroom door, occasionally growling and hissing (and getting growls and hisses in return).

And yeah, she’s pregnant. Mighty pregnant. She’s also a little cat, so I hope she pops them out soon.

Not exactly the most restful of nights. The outside cat wailed for about an hour, rested for an hour, and started in again. Mia spent much of the night jumping down from the bed to go investigate and stand sentry, then jumping back up. I’m now ready for a nap.

So yesterday morning, I didn’t hear anything from that bedroom, even though I was back-and-forth in the hallway a number of times and Mia breezed by on her way to and from breakfast (stopping by to hiss once at the smell of the Alien Cat). When I went in to feed her, there wasn’t any sign of her. Not sleeping on the floor or in any of the beds/nests I set up for her, or on or under the bed, or in or behind boxes. Not meowing or otherwise grumbling about the wretched situation she found herself in. Finally found her, behind a box in the closet. My guess is that she thought that was the safest place in the room. (And it’s now a frontrunner for where she’ll have the kittens.) She came out, and she gave me a couple of comments about still being locked up in prison. She then spent the next ten minutes head-butting me, rubbing her body against my legs, and purring up a storm. This would lead me to conclude that she’s not feral, and that she’s had a fair amount of human interaction. That, or she’s trying to seduce me into setting her free.

By today, she seems adjusted to and comfortable in her new surroundings (although it might just be “resigned to” them). She’s also beginning to look a little bored, shut up in a room with its limited amount of things to interest her – certainly, in comparison with the Great Outdoors. But regular feedings have a certain amount of attraction, too, and I expect that in a couple of days, she’ll have enough little distractions around her to keep her more than occupied.

My goal will be to let her have the kittens, raise them to adoption age (8-10 weeks), and find homes for them. Then have her spayed, and find a good home for her, too. Well, that’s the plan, anyway. I’ll also be on the lookout for “Missing Cat” signs in the neighborhood, although (a) I don’t think they’re likely, and (b) if I see one, I might not give them their cat back; at least, not without a long discussion of how reasonable it is to allow a pregnant cat to roam around outside without a safe place to have her kittens and without properly feeding her.

Res ipsa loquitur.

It's one thing to file an appeal of an assault conviction based on the incompetence of the lawyer at trial. It's quite another to file that appeal when defendant represented himself at trial, and is now complaining of his own incompetence.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court heard that precise appeal this week though, with the defendant now arguing that the trial judge should not have let him defend himself against charges of attempted poisoning and assault, stemming from the defendant's giving a friend a bottle of beer laced with nitric acid.

He makes a compelling case for incompetence: he has tried to file (and then sell) mining claims in various places, such as George's Bank, the asteroid belt, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter. And he's succeeded in filing such claims - in Texas. He's also threatened to sue NASA for trespassing, and had just gotten out of a state mental hospital.

On the other hand, he did a good enough job of representing himself that the jury acquitted him of the more serious attempted poisoning charge.

And in any event, it doesn't matter all that much: he's scheduled to be released from prison this summer.

Here come Bible Reading Marathons! Sign up now!

Scheduled for dates leading up to May 5 (the National Day of Prayer, as any good non-heathen would know), local Bible Reading Marathons will take place "at such venues as county courthouses, town squares, at State Capitol buildings.

I'm looking to sign up for one around here. I'm volunteering to read Matthew 6:6 -

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Near as I can tell by looking at the list of places where the performances will take place is that there is no mention of closets at all.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Google Maps.

What a great little time-waster! Ah, I mean, what a fine research tool. Google has a beta version of a map feature, complete with satellite photos that you can zoom in on enough to see automobiles and markings on tennis courts. Definitely worth looking at.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Soft touch.

I now appear to have a second cat. There’s a neighborhood cat that wanders around and occasionally is willing to be fed. I first saw her about a year and a half ago, when she sat on my oil tank and looked in through the window at me. (When I went outside to make friends with her, she ran away.) At that point, she looked to be about 6 or 8 months old. I fed her for a week or two last August, but haven’t seen her since. Never seen her wearing a collar. Monday of this week, she showed up at my side door as I was leaving for work, and looked at me expectantly. So I went back inside and got her some food. She’s been back every morning since, and now talks to me while I’m getting her breakfast and backing away from her so she can eat.

She’s a little cat, on the small side for a female (and would be an excessively small male, so I presume she’s female). Just the right size to sit in your lap, though. And she still seems to be curious and playful. She’s skittish, and doesn’t let me get within 15 feet of her. She looks well fed, although it might also be that she looks pregnant, in which case I’m glad I’m feeding her. If she’s not pregnant and is merely well fed and getting to eat more at my house, then good for her for finding another place to chow down. Her fur looks long and unkempt, which makes me think she isn’t just coming over here to eat during the day and then going inside someone else’s house at night.

If she is pregnant, I wish I could figure out a way to get her inside the house. I’d have to keep her closed up in one of the basement work rooms, but that’d be better for her and the kittens than being outside somewhere. Of course, it would drive Mia insane, and I don’t believe that would be a terribly long trip. (And if Mia’s upset, who suffers? Me. Not the ideal solution.)

And no, she doesn’t have a name yet. Until she’s willing to sit on someone’s lap, she doesn’t get a name.