Thursday, December 31, 2009

Spoonerisms: Ghosts of Kitties Past

As promised, I made an effort to go through old pictures while at my mother's, to relive some Christmas cat memories. Of course, the pictures stopped getting put in photo albums around the time I was 6, and while my mother could recall finding the photos after that during her recent cleaning, she couldn't remember where she put the box they were in. "I don't suppose it has 'pictures' written on the side." "No."

Then there was a huge nuclear meltdown and I had to get to the minimum safe distance as rapidly as possible, where the minimum safe distance is about 2600 miles.

But, here are some of the pictures I found before that, taken on my parents' old Kodak Brownie...

Yummy Lite Brites!
Kitten Prissy, playing with the Lite Brites I got for Christmas in 1975. BTW, rest easy, as I'm pretty sure that carpet pattern was legally banned on December 31, 1979.
Ok, not a Christmas picture as it was taken around January 1976, but isn't it cute?

Tinseltown Tigger
Tigger, Prissy's son, gets the tinsel treatment, 1978. I believe he was a little over a year old at that point.

Tigger, with one of his classic philosophical expressions, taken around 1986, when he was about 9. This was my Buddhist Shaolin monk of a cat, very even-tempered and exuding such understated power that no other cats messed with him. He was the perfect cat to grow up with.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Other: Breaking Branches In the Family Tree

I decided to turn to the Internet to try to flesh out the tree. Yes, my grandmother left voluminous genealogy records, but they were not ordered or assembled into an actual tree, and it would have taken a long time and a lot of floor space to try to piece through it.

So, among other things, I've discovered that Thomas Watkins "Maggots Saved My Life" Perry, Jr., whom I mentioned in my last post as having survived a Civil War bullet to the lung, seems to have been my great-great-great-grandfather, and apparently died in 1917, aged about 75 and 53 years after his miraculous survival in Atlanta. The paternal line of his wife, Susan Florence, is traced back on one site to a William Flourance, born in 1637 in England or France, and who apparently immigrated to Virginia by the time of the birth of his first child, around 1670.

And Elmer Melvin, recipient of that "shellback certificate," issued the first time he crossed the equator, apparently traces his paternal line (and therefore part of mine) to one Daniel Melvin, born on the Isle of Skye in 1708, who came to America, married a North Carolina native, and then had his first child around 1737. And because the Melvins are the ancestors of my Mormon grandmother, they were all posthumously baptised into the LDS Church. Even the ones who were born and died before Moroni even started talking to Joseph Smith. I am not making this up.

No, really, I'll stop now. Mostly because I've just about run out of free sites to search and I refuse to pay to join one. This obsessive micro-burst has just about run its course.

Although I still don't know whether or not "stopped to look at moon" is a euphemism or not...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Other: Climbing the Family Tree

The papers I mentioned in my previous post made me want to learn a little more about my family history. By great fortune, my paternal grandmother had been a Mormon and they are very big on genealogy. My mother showed me where some of her research papers were. I haven't found a nicely formatted tree, per se, but there are many sheets from The Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Inc with the hand-copied records of various family members of my father's side of the family. The earliest date I've found so far was for a Thomas with my surname, born circa 1783 in Randolph County, Georgia, occupation "Farmer." The fields for his father's and mother's names are blank.

There are some wonderful type-written records with stories. Some are straightforward. My father's father's death, at the age of 43 is described:
...died of a heart attack about noon Sunday July 8, 1962. He had gone fishing, and died at the water.
From what I can tell, his father had also died of a heart attack in 1940 at about the same age.

Two accounts of the same person:
Dr. James Perry of England born about 1770 moved to Richmond or Petersburg, VA about 1790, moved to Darien Georgia to Perry's Mill on Cobb Creek and Altamaha River about 1800 to 1835. Died and ware buried in a brick vault at Perry's Mill about 1835.

Dr. James Perry of England settled at Petersburg Va and was a very eminent surgeon of the day. Subsequently he moved to Darien Ga and built a handsome home on the Altamaha river and established Perry's Mill which remains to the present date 1904. He built a sanitorium and had a large practice.
I believe my great-grandmother was descended from him.

Two accounts of his son and grandson, who had quite an amazing story:
Thomas Watkins Perry, Sr. was born in Richmond Va. and lived afterwards at Hatchechubbee, Ala. He was a veteran of the war of 1812... [He] had three sons in the Civil War in the C.S. Army. Patrick Henry Perry, William Condon Perry of Hardaway's Battery, Thomas Watkins Perry, Jr. of Co. E. 39th Alabama under Col (later Gen) H.D. Clayton. He served through the war and was severely wounded at the battle of Atlanta, Ga. Shot through the chest, worms (blow flies) ate the decay and he lived for more than fifty years.

Thomas Watkins Perry, Jr. born March 12, 1842 son of Smithie Tarver Perry, received his education from the best schools of the country during his time... He was Lieutenant in Co. E 39th Regiment of Alabama Volunteers in the Civil War, under Col. (afterwards General) H. D. Clayton. He left Seale Ala on March 15, 1862 in this company... On July 22, 1864 at the later battle of Atlanta, a ball passed through the body of Lieutenant Perry and tore away part of his right lung. After the surrender he resumed farming. He is now the clerk of circuit court of Russell County of strong vigor, developed by out of door life. (1904)
There were actually a number of relatives from the various branches who fought and often died for the Confederacy.

One transcription has this moving note:
Watt Perry (born June 1, 1877) died Jan 17, 1893 buried in Seale, Ala. Cemetery. "My darling Boy" God have mercy on me and help me to bear this great loss.
Jan 17, 1895 we are back at home where my good child died. Life is still so hard without my boy and how can I live without him.
January 17, 1897 we are preparing to leave our old home. All memories of the dead and past rush thick up on me. Leaving the grave of my poor dead boy, to return when and how is beyound my recording.
Jan 1898 one year in Brantley. "Thank God for all of my loved ones, that out of storm and care, have risen to peaceful heights above and stay to meet me there. Thy will be done."
-Mary Perry

Most of the deaths were of older people dying of natural causes, but there are some exceptions:
Sankey Perry born 1870 died 1935... Was shot on the street in Phenix City, Alabama by a man who was jealous of him because he was kind to and loved by children of people with whom be boared [?].
Nickolas K. Perry, born 1910. Died 1934. Killed by robbers while he and young lady were out for ride and stopped to look at moon, and were singing and negros who were sleeping in the woods appeared to take car and money, not a planned robbery.

Does "stopped to look at moon" sound like a euphemism to anyone else?


My mother found an ancient suitcase of papers which had belonged to my father's mother. Most are various records dating from the 1930s-50s, but there are some gems, including a small (about 2"x4") book containing the four gospels. The very faded handwritten inscription in the front is dated 1889. There was also this large and fabulous certificate rolled up in there, printed on heavy paper and about 14"x18" in size:

Imperium Neptuni Regis

It reads as follows:

TO ALL SAILORS WHEREVER YE MAY BE: and to all Mermaids, Sea Serpents, Porpoises, Sharks, Dolphins, Eels, Skates, Suckers, Crabs, Lobsters and all other Living Things of the Sea

GREETING: Know ye: That on this 23rd day of November, 1936 in Latitude 0000 and Longitude 106 // 30 E there appeared within Our Royal Domain the U.S.S. Black Hawk bound South for the Equator and for Manila, Philippine Islands


That the said Vessel and Officers and Crew thereof have been inspected and passed on by Ourself and Our Royal Staff
AND BE IT KNOWN: By all ye Sailors, Marines, Land Lubbers and others who may be honored by his presence that

Elmer W. Melvin

having been found to be numbered as one of our Trusty Shellbacks he has been duly initiated into the

Be It Further Understood That by virtue of the power invested in me I do hereby command all my subjects to show the honor and respect to him wherever he may be

Disobey this order under penalty of Our Royal Displeasure

Given under our hand and seal this 24 November, 1936

Davey Jones
His Majesty's Scribe

Neptunus Rex
Ruler of the Raging Main

By his Servant J K Esler, Commander

It has the seal of the U.S. Navy. I believe Elmer Melvin was my father's mother's mother's brother. What a find.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Other: Things That Make You Go WTF

I've been saving up some stories that just make me either scratch my head or want to pound it into the keyboard, or even pound someone else's head into the keyboard.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Spoonerisms: The Most WonderFur Time of the Year

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

What is it about Christmas time and kitties? The tree, the wrapping paper, the new stuff that has to be sniffed and investigated and inventoried, the abortive attempts to decorate the cats themselves. (Sadly, my cats miss out on the tree and its accompanying pile of wrapped presents.)

My memories of Christmas are often peopled by, well, cats. Prissy, the tiny Siamese kitten playing in the tinsel when I was 3. The original Coco, posing with reindeer antlers made for a dog for all of 10 seconds, barely long enough to snap a photo, and that with a really pissed face. More recently, the first Christmas I visited after my parents got Coco II. As soon as we put all the wrapped presents I had brought for them under the tree, he started shredding them. Just the ones I had brought, though...

Perhaps when I am visiting my mother over the holiday this year, I will go through the old picture albums and scan some of my own classic Christmas cat memories in.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Costume Ball

Costume Ball A few months ago, my friend Steve and I were discussing the San-X mamegoma characters, those little seals that would be cute enough except they also have all sorts of costumes. Steve asked why anyone would put a costume on a baby seal. Why, because it's unbearably adorable! Of course! While it's totally absurd, we couldn't deny that it was also absurdly cute. Leave it to the Japanese cute machine to come up with something like that. Steve then suggested a new character: a ball.... with costumes!

So, I'm introducing Costume Ball! And Costume Ball's first gender-nonspecific costume, the sunflower!
Sunflower Costume Ball

Stay tuned as I add more Costume Ball costumes!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Other: Escape from the Vault!

I previously reported how, over a year ago now, I had tried to get into Fallout 3. After I finally worked out the graphics card issues, I couldn't get out of the vault. I set it aside, for what turned out to be over a year.

Then, a little over a week ago, I decided to try it again. Why? (****SPOILER ALERT FOR BRAD****) For Brad's Xmas present I made him a Vault Boy amigurumi after the game's mascot.
Vault Boy
That made me itchin' to give Fallout 3 another go, so I did.

I was barely heard from for 9 days. (And I don't think anyone noticed I was missing.) I "finished" the game earlier this evening. (Note I have none of the add-ons.)

Mini-review: Yes, overall, I'm disappointed, for several reasons.
  • Gameplay: Sorry, I'm just not into FPS. I prefer the old interface. Yes, I'm old and stodgy. So shoot me with a plasma rifle.
  • Stability: I cannot count the number of times the game crashed while I was playing it. It would just die. Usually it would fairly quickly come to the desktop again and I could restart, but occasionally it would hang, and I even got a couple BSoDs. So Fucking Annoying. And they weren't re-createable either. I'd load, try to do what I was doing when it crashed, and it would be fine. Fucking Windows. (I don't own an XBox or a PS3, so those weren't options, but the original two were PC-only anyway, and, well, I'm old-school anyway.)
  • Fun: You know, it just lacked some of the magic of the first two. The first two games had this great sardonic humor. This one tries to re-create it, but that's exactly what it comes across as: that it's trying to re-create it. I never thought I'd say it, but I miss awesome characters like Myron. I miss the bit from 2 where you can actually be forced into a shotgun wedding for seducing a rancher's daughter... even if your player is female. (This happened to me once, and try as I might, I never could recreate it. Ever after, I would just get shot at.) Almost everything in that vein that does happen in 3 just seems forced.
I avoided the help guides and cheats for the first several days, but annoyance with the amount of time I wasted getting lost in buildings because they were dark, repetitive, and the Pip Boy map was nearly useless, drove me to lose patience, and I ended up spending a lot of time at the Fallout wiki. Oh, that's another thing. I replayed the first 2 games several times, and even now I start to think it might be good to try again... (No! No! Bad Karen! You need fresh air!) Replaying this game doesn't interest me. Oh, and it's annoying that, unless you buy one of the add-ons, the levels cap at 20. And once the game is over, without one of the add-ons, it's over. You can't keep exploring or finish up any side quests.

Anyway... yeah, it did keep my interest enough for over a week that I didn't do much else, but I wanted to squeal with delight so much more. Playing that much also seriously messed with my dreams. One involved Super Mutants and kittens, although they didn't interact directly. Aw, but wouldn't it be cute if a mean ol' Super Mutant had a snuggly pet kitty?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Other: Dear Job Posters

Dear job posters,

Do NOT put "Linux Engineer" in the listing title if you require as much Windows administration experience as you do Linux. Most of the Linux/UNIX engineers I know, myself included, do not, in fact, have much if any Windows admin experience. It is not some "default" for systems engineers to know Windows before they know how to manage a real operating system. If you want people who know both, call it a Linux/Windows Engineer position and be prepared to get applications from schizoids.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spoonerisms: Junior

Bandit and Coco II
Bandit, top, puts the kitten Coco II in his place, circa March 2005

My father's beloved cat Bandit died over the weekend after what was apparently a rapid series of strokes. Bandit showed up over 15 years ago when friends of my parents found a kitten when they were out walking, and being allergic, brought him straight over to their house. He was the first cat they had gotten since I left home, and the first couple of times I visited, he wanted nothing to do with me. Then one Christmas he had sustained one of his many injuries fighting with some creature real or imagined, and my soft, warm lap was too much for him to ignore.

My father called Bandit "Junior," the son he never had, and their affection was clearly mutual. Always riddled with health problems, mostly from his overactive lifestyle, Bandit's health became more precarious at the same time as my father's. He clearly missed my father when he was away at the hospital. After my father died, Bandit perked up some. I realize it's anecdotal evidence, but I really do think that Bandit felt the stress of my father's absences and the clear distress he was in when he was at home, and it took its toll on him. His health did actually improve somewhat over the past year, but he was still clearly showing his age.

Rest in peace, big guy. You made my father very happy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spoonerisms: Spoon vs. Dipity

Now that Dipity has settled in and seems comfortable enough just to be herself, I decided it was time to do a side-by-side comparison of her and Spoon. It turns out that in many ways they are very similar in personality, much more so than Pandora and Spoon were.

  Spoon Dipity
Size Still around 16 lb. A little over 11 lb. when she was at the vet in September. She still has that long, lanky Siamese body, but she has a slight bulge around the middle.
Intelligence Still not very Ditto. And I thought Siamese were supposed to be smart.
Bossiness (scale of 1 to 10) 3 When she's hungry and out of food, 9
Relationship with electric lap sunnysideup Loll Cat
Camera Hogginess Hog!
Still the king...
Roly Poly Elephant
...but she's a contender
Reaction to vacuum cleaner Still is halfway under the bed as soon as I take it out of the closet Also tries to hide under the bed, which leaves Spoon between a rock and a sharp place
Reaction to strangers Afraid to snuggly in 5 minutes or less Must... sniff...
Leadership rank The Omega Cat Beta, which means she's the de facto alpha cat

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Spoonerisms: My Latest Lolcat

Heated bed direkshuns:
moar funny pictures

Knittin' Crap: Handmade Holidays

nopeekinz As I have far more time (and stashed yarn) than money these days, it's going to be a handmade holiday. And because my stash doth floweth over, everything is being made from yarn and other notions I already have. I already have all the gifts planned out and most are done. The only item I had to buy was a zipper for a pillow cover. Price: $2.49 + tax.

I'll post the gift run-down after the holidays.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Spoonerisms: Story of My Life

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I've also had plenty of afternoons and evenings where that was true. For mornings, though, it's as constant as pi.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Other: I Watch Too Much TV

So, I just finished watching the first batch of episodes of the "re-envisioning" of the classic 80s sci-fi cheezfest V. I can't say I'm enjoying the show, but it doesn't make me cringe too often, so I guess I'll keep watching when new episodes start again in March. However, I thought I'd share the show's theme with those who have not been watching. In one sentence: We need universal health care to keep the Scientologists from taking over the world.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Knittin' Crap: More Anti-Nazi Knitting

I just watched Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood, a PBS documentary about European filmmakers who became refugees during the Third Reich.

The Nazis had placed very strict limits on the amount of cash that a person could take out of the country, and German bank accounts could not be accessed internationally. Paul Kohner, who had been born in what was then Austria-Hungary and had gone to Hollywood long before the Nazi regime, still traveled frequently with his wife, Mexican-born actress Lupita Tovar. Now 99 years old, she recounts in the film how, one time as they were leaving Berlin for Paris in the mid-30s, he handed her a wad of cash to take to impoverished refugees of the Berlin film industry in Paris and told her to hide it. She was knitting a sweater at the time, so she unrolled her ball of yarn and rewound it with the cash inside. When the guards inspecting the departing train looked in, all they saw was a woman knitting from a very large ball of wool. When they got to Paris, he told her to get the money out so he could return it to its owners. She told them they would have to wait while she unraveled the large ball of yarn again.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Anti-Nazi Knitting

I was going through piles of old magazines looking for my license plate (don't ask), flipping through issues that caught my eye. In an issue of Piecework from 2004, I found an article about an Australian man named Jim Simpson who had knitted himself a blanket while he was in a German POW camp in WWII. Wow! He got the yarn however he could and made knitting needles from pot handles. I got up and googled for him so I could share the story, and coincidentally, an Australian news site had just published an article on him last week. Check it out! And we're not even talking a wimpy, simple blanket, either!

Spoonerisms: Attention Dial Tone

In that twilight between sleep and wakefulness, my brain does strange things. Well, even more than normal. This morning, as soon as I began to stir, Dipity was on me. She and Spoon had had a very noisy row at 6AM so, even though it wasn't his "fault," per se, I closed Spoon out of the bedroom/bathroom area so they wouldn't wake the neighbors and so I could get more sleep. This left Dipity cut off from the food in the kitchen, so a few hours later, she was doing the Feed Me Cha-Cha. She was purring and snuggling, but it was in that high-energy, "I don't really want you to pet me, but I thought this was the best way to get your attention" way. I scratched her head and thought about how, while we probably most often associate purring with a happy cat, they actually use it for a lot of things. Yes, it's a bonding tool, but they also purr when they want attention and sometimes when they're afraid. Biologists think it may also aid in healing. Even the big cats purr, but because of the physiological changes made to their vocal chords so they could roar, they only purr on exhalation, unlike housecats, which have the duplex purr function. As Dipity was using the attention purr, it occurred to me her purr was a lot like a modem operating somewhere between 25 and 150 baud, and she had just issued the ATDT command: Attention Dial Tone.

Knowing she wasn't going to let me get more sleep, I got up and opened the door and she was in the kitchen like a rocket.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Spoonerisms: Ridin' the Bus with Casper

This black-and-white cat in England is a regular on the local bus line. Awesome!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spoonerisms: Separate Vacations

Dipity in the Hole Dipity in the Hole

Dipity, the day after Spoon returned. Note he was conked out all of about 3' away, on the edge of the couch, when she got in the donut hole.
Last week, Spoon had a sleepover! My friend Steve had to give his cats away because of family stuff, but with his wife out of town and his toddler staying with grandma during the week, I thought he might like a temporary cat and Spoon and Dipity might like the break. Steve's friend Mark was staying there, too, so Spoon would get extra attention! I dropped him off Monday night and he hid under the couch. He didn't mind when people reached under and petted him. I think he was just really agoraphobic. I actually thought he would adjust faster and if I'd known it would take him almost a day to come out on his own at all, I wouldn't have put him through that. But eventually he adapted and was very, well, Spoon. When I picked him up Friday evening, he still got a little freaked by the ice-maker in the fridge, but he was pretty cool with everything. Meanwhile, Dipity really liked being an only cat. She clearly enjoyed having the run of the apartment, because she spent a lot of time running around the apartment.

Relaxed submissive So when Spoon came home Friday night, they were both a little surprised. Dipity didn't even realize right away what happened because he would walk by her and she wouldn't know to get upset. By Sunday, though, they were about back to where they were before Spoon's vacation. Dipity doesn't come out of the bedroom as often as she did while he was gone, but she also seems unwilling to give up all the freedom and will still wander out to the far reaches.

Really, she's very silly. She doesn't usually look where she's going, so she ends up face-to-face with Spoon. Unfortunately, she usually responds by getting excessively aggressive. There are still too many aggressive episodes, but there are some positive (or at least not negative) interactions. Last night they both slept on the bed, one snuggled on each side of me. This was not without difficulty. Dipity would growl at Spoon whenever he moved. He was clearly trying to be careful. Of course, I had to be extremely careful when I needed to rearrange myself, because then the cats would need to rearrange themselves, and Dipity would get defensive. Still, they didn't fight, at least not until Spoon got up to leave and Dipity felt the need to chase him out of the bedroom for good measure, and then later, un-snuggle me to jump off the bed and chase him out when he tried to return.

This morning Dipity attacked Spoon's tail while he was curled up in my lap, where he'd settled a couple minutes earlier after she turned him back from the electric lap. That got her squirted and closed in the bedroom for awhile so they could calm down. While she was in there, Spoon settled in the electric lap. I let her out and she ended up jumping up next to Spoon and had time to stare out the window and lick her tail before she realized he was 6" away from her, which caused her to growl slightly. She stayed calm and Spoon stayed put, so I gave them a couple of cat treats to reinforce their calm behavior. Spoon even started grooming, which means he is oblivious to what's going on around him but also means he really throws his weight around literally, and Dipity still stayed pretty calm. I suspect the best I can do now is be patient, reward calm interactions, and keep the spray bottle handy to halt excessively aggressive behavior.

Bergman By Cats
Bergman By Cats Bergman By Cats

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pandora's Litter Box

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I'm pretty sure that's not true. I only ever found cat litter and the stuff that you use cat litter for in Pandora's box. I think it's safe to say I'd've gotten an earful if she found anything else in there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spoonerisms: Meow, Meow, Captain

Why does this make me think of Star Trek as enacted by cats?

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

"Because you're a total geek, Karen."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Spoonerisms: Wimpy, Wimpy, Wimpy

Electric Lap, Day 1
January 2007, day 1 of the electric lap. Spoon discovers its joy the first time. Pandora waits in line for the first time after trying to glare him out of it proved unsuccessful. (Spoon had a boo-boo on the back of his head at the time, hence the collar. I believe he had had an altercation with the fold-out couch.)

I got the electric lap almost three years ago to soothe Pandora's stiffening joints. She spent several hours the first time and would get up for short breaks. All was groovy until, later that day, Spoon also discovered the electric lap. Pandora jumped up, all ready to resume her nirvana... and realized there was now a line. Bummer. Spoon ended up spending more time in the thing, I think mainly because, even with all his extra subcutaneous insulation, he likes to be really, really warm, warmer than Pandora usually liked with all her supercutaneous insulation.

Flash forward. Dipity is totally digging the bed of bliss. She has already started to compete with Spoon for the most outlandish position possible. She has also discovered the queue. Yesterday she just charged up there, looked out the window a bit, turned to the lap, and discovered it was occupied. She didn't even growl at Spoon. (I think she might think of this as "his" territory.) She settled down, I presume to wait or just to act cool. I watched with academic interest for a bit, then set up the camera to video to record the nuances of their interaction while I got up and left the room to take care of other stuff. When I came back about 5 minutes later, Spoon had vacated the bed! Dipity was still sitting there, looking totally innocent. I watched the video. She didn't even do anything to scare him off! He is a seriously wimpy cat.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Spoonerisms: Dipity Discovers the Electric Lap

Dipity Discovers the Electric LapDipity has discovered the wonders of the electric lap. Although she had actually climbed over it before in her explorations, maybe her feet hadn't registered its magical properties. Today, however, she became enthralled. She spent a couple hours there in her first visit and then after a break, returned and has been there several more hours.

Dipity Discovers the Electric Lap Dipity Discovers the Electric Lap

Spoonerisms: Dipity Doo-Dah

Dipity's been here three months now. She seems to be pretty much at home. She even got her first Ravelry avatar appearance! She's also become much more bossy, exploratory, and social.

  • Bossy: See the hungry cat cartoon I posted previously. She's an expert at the "get out of bed and feed me" song and dance.
  • Exploratory: Last week she started following me down the very short hallway from my bedroom to the bathroom. She's pretty consistent about that. The past couple of days, she's started coming out in the living area more, but that creates problems when she runs into Spoon.
  • Social: When I started this post, she was curled up in my lap, something she did for the first time last night. So cute. She talks to me all the time and wants more attention, but I want her to learn to come out of the bedroom and get it, but that creates problems when she runs into, well, you-know-who.
Poor Spoon, he just wants to be buddies, but she's gotten more aggressively defensive, chasing and slapping at him when she feels cornered in "her" territory. Of course, she also doesn't look where she's going, so she'll be exploring, end up 6 inches from him, and start slapping. That leaves him a poor, confused boy. I'm trying to give him all the extra loving I can. And it looks like he might even get a vacation next week!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Other: How That Laptop Can Kill You

Those two Northwest pilots who, um, missed the city of Minneapolis now say they were using their laptops in the cockpit, against airline regulation, to check out the scheduling software of Northwest's new owner, Delta. Considering this isn't the first story they told investigators, I think we need to draw the obvious conclusion.

They were playing World of Warcraft.

Speaking of laptops on airplanes, those lithium-ion batteries used in laptops pose a greater fire risk than most people understand, and the number of fires they cause in airline cabins is starting to rise rapidly.

Ok, seriously, and they're trying to tell us it's not safe to bring our own water on the damned plane????

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spoonerisms: Funneh Kitteh Videos

Kitten vs. doberman!

(My mother said she thought the kitten would win. I figure he won because he pissed off the dog but managed not to get eaten in the process.)

And anyone who has ever owned a cat knows the following morning ritual.

And the engineer's guide to cats:

Metro Journal: Oct 21 Are you Finnished, er, Done Yet?

Kawaii/Zakka Swap Package from spanielino I had an appointment at a nearby hospital today. It's about a mile and ½ away, but, of course, it's at an angle. I took the 685 most of the way, and even though there was another bus that went the rest of the way, it only runs once an hour, so I walked the rest of the way. It was kind of warm, but not too bad. Walking under the 134 freeway, there was some cheap 80s Japanese import parked along the street. It had a pile of 4 tires next to it. It also still had its own tires on.

At the hospital, they needed to draw blood. As my last experience with needles didn't go too well, I was a little apprehensive, but tried not to be because thinking about it would just make it worse. I just refuse to give in totally to a phobia like this, particularly when needles didn't bother me like this before last year. (And it's just medical needles. A couple weeks ago I accidentally stabbed my finger on the sewing machine needle. I cursed because it hurt like a mother, but I didn't get dizzy or anything, just really annoyed.) Maybe I would have been all right except there was a problem with the vein the technician chose, and it started bleeding immediately under the skin. She had to stop before she got enough blood, which, of course, meant she would have to do it all again. Yup, I started feeling hot and dizzy and sick. Fortunately the chair reclined, and the nurses were really cool about it. I'm sure they've seen worse reactions. I tried to take deep breaths, but I'm pretty sure I did actually faint. It finally passed and they gave me some crackers and juice and waited for me to get back to normal. Fortunately they weren't backed up or anything so there was no pressure. The nurse tried again on the other arm, and this time we reclined the chair first. I didn't have a problem that time. I don't know if I had gotten it out of my system, or being reclined was the key, or what. I just hope I don't keep having this problem. I think one issue may be that I haven't been eating regularly, mainly because I lack a regular schedule and end up eating something light and quick when I realize I'm hungry. I'll also have to try to make it a point to eat right before a shot or phlebotomical incident.

I walked down to the post office to check my box and I had a package waiting for me. From Finland! At first I was confused, because the only package I was expecting was from the Kawaii/Zakka swap, but my partner lived in West Virginia. Then I realized that we didn't actually have partners in this swap; the person to whom we sent a package wasn't necessarily the one sending to us. This box had been posted a little over 2 weeks ago, so apparently it didn't take the slow boat from China to get here like the one from England for the plushie swap. However, like that swap, this box was somewhat smushed, too. No matter; everything inside was fine. spanielino made some cute stuff!

Kawaii/Zakka Swap Package from spanielino

The surprise and all the neat stuff perked me up. I took the 181 or whatever showed up to the nearest Starbucks and treated myself to a white chocolate mocha while I read my book. I looked over and the guy at the table next to me was reading something on his laptop using about 100-point font. He had to keep scrolling left-to-right. That alone would have driven me nuts. I get annoyed just scrolling from top-to-bottom sometimes, particularly when the browser is being stupid and non-linear.

I started home but realized I felt slightly off-balance again. I decided to take the 18-whatever back. Of course, it was standing room only, but I hung on and survived, as it was a short ride. I did actually walk the last half mile home because I wanted to stop at Zankou Chicken and pick up some dinner.

By the way, here's the Kawaii/Zakka swap package I sent to my target. The apple is a little box! Both the apple and the chick bag patterns come from Japanese books, in keeping with the japanophilial nature of the swap. And they're both both kawaii (cute) and zakka (useful everyday items). I also put in some Japanese gummy candy, Mario Bros. trading cards, and a wind-up jumping Totoro! I have no idea how well it jumps, though, because I didn't want to take it out of the sealed bag before sending it.

Kawaii & Zakka Swap Package

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Knittin' Crap: The Great Nihon Vogue Knit-A-Lone

No 24 Pullover There are these things called knit-a-longs, see, where a group of people all decide to make the same pattern or related patterns at the same time. Someone on the Ravelry Japanese Knitting and Crochet group suggested a Keito Dama/Nihon Vogue knit-a-long (KAL). Nihon Vogue is one of the main Japanese publishers of knitting and crochet books. Keito Dama is their popular quarterly magazine. I had wanted to do a pullover from one of my Nihon Vogue books and actually had stash yarn that would work, so I decided to do that. Now, as most of us know, I have serious WIP ADD1, so committing to working on one sweater more or less straight through was kind of a big deal for me.2 But, no, I said ok, I'll do it. And so I started.

And no one else did.

No 24 Pullover Thus, the great Nihon Vogue Knit-A-Long became the great Nihon Vogue Knit-A-Lone. But I worked about a ball of yarn a week for about 8 weeks, and tonight I finished the last seam of the sweater. It turned out really, really well. It's a little, uh, snug across the chest, but it's very pretty and I think it's flattering on me.

So, there you go. A long-sleeved pullover with multiple stitch patterns worked in DK weight yarn completed in less than two months, from a pattern written in a language I can't read a word of.3 Not too shabby.

1Work-In-Progress Attention Deficit Disorder.
2I did make my mother a cardigan for Xmas last year. She got it in February.
3Actually, I know the word for "stitch" now without looking it up. Of course, it helps that it's only a single character.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Whiteboard Jungle: Lolmeerkats

Saw this this morning and it made me think of Hansen, who hasn't gotten a new tag in ages:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Music: No Rain, All Shine

The Fabulous Raincoats Button The Raincoats were scheduled to go on at the Echoplex at 11PM Sunday. I had never been to the Echoplex or its sister club, the Echo. I looked at their little map and it said they were at Glendale Ave & Sunset Blvd in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles. I left about 45 minutes of buffer space to drive the few miles from where I live and find parking, and took SR 2 all the way down until it ended, merging into Glendale Ave. I drove south, on the lookout for Sunset. Then I drove past Echo Lake, which meant I had gone too far. U-Turn. Back up Glendale, looking again. Then I hit the 2 and into Silverlake. Well, that's no good. I pulled into a parking lot and got out my 15-year-old Thomas Guide. GPS is for wimps. My Thomas Guide has never let me down, never run out of batteries, never gotten stolen, and never scared the bejeezus out of me by talking when I thought I was alone in the car. Ok, Sunset was just past Alvarado, and I knew exactly where that intersection was. Oh, and it was called Sunset to the east of Glendale, but Reservoir to the west. Oh, I'd look for both. I then drove down the same stretch 2 more times. WTF? I got stuck in a left-hand turn lane and decided to drive north the next time on the other side of the lake, on what turned out to be Echo Park Blvd/Rd/Whatever. And there, right before me, was Sunset Blvd. I took a left. Then I drove back and forth on Sunset Blvd twice, looking for the damned intersection with Glendale Ave.

Someone was seriously messing with my brain. Oh, and did I mention I still had that headache from the day before, although slightly less onerous.

I stayed on Sunset the second? third? time long enough to hit the Silverlake district from another angle. Then, boom, there's the Silverlake Lounge. See, here's the thing. Several years ago, Julius and I went to see 50' Wave at the Silverlake. I hadn't been there before, and I'm not sure if Julius had, either. The place has no parking, so you kind of have to meander through the small neighborhood streets. I was driving, and I kept getting confused because I'd be driving on the back streets that were on the same side of Sunset as the club, and all of a sudden, I'd hit the intersection with Sunset across the street from the club. Call me slow, but it took me a couple times to realize I'd been driving under Sunset via an underpass.

Back to Sunday night. I'd been at this for nearly 45 minutes now, and I was getting frustrated. I briefly considered just going home at that point, but no, I was not going to let these dumbass streets get to me! I checked the Thomas Guide one more time; the next street after Glendale was Lemoyne. I would just park at Lemoyne and figure out the rest. I parked in a free-at-this-time-of-the-night public lot on Lemoyne on the block just south of Sunset, and started walking west. At what should have been the corner of Sunset and Glendale, I realized I was on an overpass and looked down 20 feet to see.... Glendale Ave. Well, hello. I realized that Sunset and Glendale don't actually intersect, although they do temporarily share the same x-y map coordinates. Sunset's z-coordinate is about 20' higher than Glendale's. Goddamned overpass. Screw you, Sunset Blvd! I looked around and it looked like the only way down was by a stairway on the other side of Sunset. I was about a block either way from a crossing, but there were almost no cars at this time of night on a Sunday so I jaywalked. The stairs smelled somewhat, um, rank, but they got me down and I crossed (legally) and found the Echoplex. I hadn't looked at the clock in my car when I got out, but it was probably about 5 minutes past 11.

You may have confused me, but you did not break me, you absurdly laid-out streets!

The song that had been playing when I got out of my car was "No Looking." The song that was playing when I walked into the club was "No Looking." I circled around to where I could see. I asked someone and she said that she was pretty sure that they had just started.

I won't go into too many details about the show. It was great. Yes, there were some forgotten lyrics and mistimed entrances, but I was amazed at how sparely-played instruments could still seem to fill so much sonic room (and I'm not talking about volume, because any band can crank it up enough to make you deaf). It was much, much more enjoyable after the "hip" couple that had been standing in front of me, talking to each other the first 20 minutes or so finally left, about the same time that the people who were clearly not either there to see the Raincoats or to try to seriously appreciate music they had never heard had cleared out.

At the end of the show, Gina Birch announced we could get their lovely buttons and that she and Ana da Silva would sign records over at the little merch area. A couple dozen people clustered around, that gleam in our eyes. The band was helping break down their stage equipment, so we all waited patiently. I got my t-shirt (women's cut, yay!) and free button. Many people bought the newly-repressed vinyl LP of the first album, something that seemed sadly but perhaps intentionally ironic given that Kurt Cobain's quest for the same in the early 90s led him to da Silva's door. Of course, it just didn't seem quite the same given the thing has a barcode now, something the originals would not have had over 30 years ago.

I was spacing out and someone laid their hand on my shoulder to walk by. I looked. Ana da Silva had just touched my shoulder! She had started signing things and I waited while she wrote a book on one person's LP, and I got her to sign the liner notes I had grabbed from my Moving cd. Gina Birch was further down and chatting with people. I got in the quasi-line. When I got to her, I told her I had also looked for my Hangovers cd so she could sign that, but I hadn't been able to find it. Then I told her, "I love 'I Hate You!'" referring to one of the songs from the Hangovers record, and then not sure if she knew what I meant. She laughed. She hesitated, trying to decide what to write. I laughed when I saw. "I'm sorry, that's so stupid, but I didn't know what to write!" "No, I love it!" And I do.

The Raincoats "Moving" Liner Notes

Monday, October 12, 2009

Metro Journal: Oct 10 Forecast for No Raincoats

Los Angeles Public Library As I'd mentioned, the amazing Raincoats were finally on their way to California for the first time to perform in the Part Time Punks Festival on October 11. I got my ticket right away. I also put myself on the Part Time Punks mailing list so I could keep up with new information on the show. Well, turns out, they had scheduled an afternoon "party" on the roof of the Standard Hotel downtown for the day before, and saying that, among others, the Raincoats would be there to sign albums. I've never been one for fandom, as it requires too much energy for the net effect of looking like a total dork, but I really had nothing better to do, and it was free.

Of course, Saturday morning I woke up with a nasty headache. I took an Excedrin. A couple hours later, no real improvement. I figured maybe getting out and walking around in the, um, "fresh" air of downtown Los Angeles might help, so I went ahead with my plan. The trip, with about ½ mile walking at each end, just took two buses. Waiting for the second bus, the 90/91, on Glendale Blvd, I think I just missed the previous one by a few minutes, because I ended up having to wait almost half an hour, their frequency on Saturdays. When it came, even though there was a woman in a motorized wheelchair waiting at the stop, a rather barrel-chested middle-aged woman stood directly in front of the doors. Um, that's not the way it works. Everyone else stood back, because wheelchairs always go on first. The driver waited the better part of a minute for this woman to get the clue that she wasn't going to open the door until she moved, but that didn't happen. She opened the door, immediately started lowering the ramp, which beeps when it's on, and still the woman wasn't quite getting the clue until the driver told her to move. Geez. The bus was standing room only, but it cleared off several stops later and I settled down to read my book.

Downtown, I got off at Hill & 6th, and then had to walk a bit up to the Standard on Flower. I went in the lobby and took the elevator + stairs to the roof. I had never been there before, and I was struck by how Painfully Hip the place was trying so hard to be. The pretentiousness did not help my headache, with different lighting and colors around every corner. The room numbers were on fake "Hello My Name Is" stickers. As soon as I walked onto the roof, a security guard told me I needed a wristband to be on the roof at this hour (it was 3pm... WTF?) and I could get one at the valet parking area. So, I went down, found the valet parking entrance, and asked for a wristband for the roof. They didn't even ask for ID or anything, so I fail to see the point.

The roof is a pool/bar area. The Part Time Punks people had their DJ and sound system set up. I'm not going to go into design details of the roof, but again, Painfully Hip. I talked to a few groups of people, including three tourists from Greece who were hotel guests. We talked about how nice the weather had been the last few days, how it was impossible to enjoy the beaches around here after growing up with, for me, beaches on the East Coast, and for them, in Greece, where the water and sand are so much cleaner and the water warmer. They were on their way to going skydiving for the first time, so I wished them luck.

Los Angeles Public Library Still, I had the headache, and there was no sign of any Raincoats. I walked around a bit, checking out the view. I saw this beautiful mosaic pyramid that I'd seen a couple times before, but never remembered to figure out the building it was on. When I got home, I finally looked it up, and it's the main branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. Right behind it, to the left, is the tallest building in Los Angeles, now called the US Bank Tower, previously the First Interstate Bank building. However, to me, it will always be the First Intercourse Building, although probably not for the reason most people might think.

The sun had fallen behind the building and the air up on the roof was getting cool. Still no Raincoats. Still no real abatement of the headache. I decided to go home, avoiding the walk back to Hill, instead walking the 3 blocks to the closest Red Line station, where the clock said it was about 4:30, and taking that to Hill & 1st. I was kitty corner from the stop when I saw the 794 go by. Oh, well, I could take the 90/91 again. Crap, I saw it coming down the block. I still had to cross Hill when it got to the stop. The crossing light changed and it was still there! I sprinted across and the driver waited for me. Yay! Seriously, it's all courthouses and office buildings for a several-block radius, so I would have been bored (and chilled) having to wait another half hour.

And once I got home, I took more drugs and still with the headache.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Spoonerisms: Close Encounters of the Sharp Kind

Flip-Flop Kitty Flip-Flop Kitty
Dipity has gone vertical, like here on the top of the dresser, places Spoon just can't jump to anymore.

I've been leaving the bedroom door open while I'm at home the past few days. I thought maybe this would encourage Dipity to come out and explore more, something she'd been doing a lot of, although as soon as she encountered Spoon, she'd usually make a hasty retreat to the bedroom, which often provoked Spoon into chasing her because, well, I don't know what goes on in his head. Of course, if he then corners her, she'll usually charge him and he'll usually run away. I have had to get the squirt bottle a couple times when he just didn't get the clue. But she recovers from those incidents pretty quickly, usually coming out again as soon as Spoon is out of sight. I think that's a good sign, as she's not cowering in terror long after the fact, although it could just mean she has about a 30-second long memory window. We just don't seem to be making much forward progress anymore. She hisses when she sees him, etc.

Huh? (Excuse me while I go force him to stop chewing on the blocking pins holding a sweater sleeve in place.)

Anyway, last night I went out and forgot to close the bedroom door when I left. When I got home, everything seemed fine. No mass destruction or anything, although Spoon did have a small scratch on his big, white nose. Of course, that could mean nothing. He's always sticking it in dangerous places, like the machinery in the fold-out couch, or the blocking pins for my sweater. Or another cat's claw...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Other: Why Some People Need To Be Kept Away From Airbrushes, Part II

Take a look at the picture in this article on the (seriously long overdue) backlash against retouching in ad photos.

Seriously, I can't understand how the clothes Lollipop Woman is wearing can be considered high fashion. Scandalous! Maybe that's what Ralph Lauren is really embarrassed about. I could get that outfit for $10 at a flea market.

(I love this commentary on the whole bullshit retouching thing.)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Paying It Finished

Snail Tape Measure My fifth and final Pay It Forward project went out over the weekend. beltwayspinner got this snail/tape measure transformer. (I'll get around to posting the pattern at some point.)

I may embark on this again in the future, although I'd probably do multiples of 3s next time. It seems more manageable and would put off fewer people. I've already seen others doing it that way, and while I think it's somewhat wimpy, I've proven my mad skilz and can now rest on my laurels. Or something.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Other: This Is Not a Paid Endorsement

Today the Federal Trade Commission announced that bloggers who receive money or in-kind compensation to write an endorsement must now disclose that fact. Now, this hasn't affected me yet, because no one has ever asked me to endorse anything on my blog, but I'm not saying I wouldn't be amenable to the idea. Particularly if it involved free yarn.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Xmas in October

Xmas Knitting I've officially finished my first hand-made Christmas gift of the year. (No, I'm not going to post a picture.) Now that I've finished all my swaps and the last Pay It Forward item is ready to be mailed, it's time to get down to business. I'm not sure how many gifts I'm going to make, and I'm still trying to figure out what to make for one or two people, but it's time to put the knuckles to the grindstone!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Spoonerisms: Spoon Requires At Least Two Rails

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I've never seen another cat that looks so much like Spoon. The only thing missing is the Kitler mustache, and perhaps this one had it waxed.

Of course, if that had been Spoon, the dining car and its occupants would be smushed flat. Or are those the meals?

(BTW, when Dipity went in for her vaccine booster shot on Tuesday, she weighted in at 11 lbs, 3 oz. "Um, I guess she's still not a full-grown cat?" The technician said I should start measuring out her meals, too. And this technician hasn't even seen what I did to Spoon. But at least Spoon is nowhere as bad as this guy:)

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Swap Update

AmyDMinor on Ravelry and I got our swap packages for the September installment of $10 Amigurumi. This month's theme: fruits and vegetables. I made her a banana from a Japanese book and, so the banana wouldn't get lonely, I made an orange. No, I didn't use a pattern to make a ball with a face. She sent me a happy pear!

September $10 Amigurumi Swap
My package to AmyDMinor. That banana is seriously putting the moves on the orange.
September $10 Amigurumi Swap
Amy's package to me. There was also some candy which, um, didn't quite make it into the picture. (This is definitely one of my crappier pictures, but anyway.)

Yesterday, I also had a surprise waiting for me when I went to the post office. Remember back in July when I sent a swap package to England for a swap? Well, Wendy and I had given her reciprocal package up for dead. But I had a pick-up slip in my post office box, and at the counter they handed me a somewhat mushed box bearing a Royal Mail postmark. Dated July 27. Actually, it had gotten to my post office a little over a week ago, but I hadn't made it there during business hours in the interim. So, it only took over 6 weeks rather than 2 months to make it, what, 5000 miles? (Mine going the opposite way took something like two weeks.) But, I'm just very happy it did arrive. The contents were undamaged, and Wendy put all kinds of lovely things in there with her knit Hula Hamster. (I initially thanked her for the hula mouse. I'm not so good with rodent identification.)

Wendy's Plush Swap Package