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

Other: Your Attention, Please

I would like to announce that I started the October issue of Scientific American.... while it's still September!!!! Yay!!!! (No, I didn't start it just now, with 3:36 left. I started it yesterday afternoon.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spoonerisms: I Am Siamese If You Please

Rear Window
ZOMG! There's totally different stuff to see on the other side of this window!!!!
Dipity has become much more social and outgoing and, well, Siamese in the past couple of weeks. She now generally talks to me when I come into the bedroom, snuggles with me a couple times a day, and in the past couple days, she's even become bold enough to follow me outside the bedroom, then proceeds to investigate some. Of course, she still hisses at Spoon if he gets too close, and I think he takes her forays into "his" territory as invitations to reciprocate by barging into "her" territory (the bedroom) when she goes back, so I have to watch him and keep him from running in there after her. I don't think he's trying to be aggressive in a dominating way; he just wants to interact with her. Unfortunately, he kind of comes across like a stalker. "I know I stare at you all the time, but I just know we're soul mates! Wait! Where are you going!? Wait for me!"

So, while she still keeps Spoon at paw's length, she is definitely feeling more at home, whatever cats think "home" is.

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

Today was lovely, the first day in quite a while where the weather was perfect for a long walk, something I had missed doing. Well, all right, morning weather is usually also nice for walks before it warms up, but I am really not a morning person.

Late this afternoon, I walked a few miles around town. At one point, I passed this car:

Monster Geek Mash-up Car

The camera phone missed the part with the sword the samurai-dude apparently used to cut off the old-style Cylon's head. Um, putting a Cylon and a samurai together is something that never would have occurred to me. Putting the two on a car? That's, um, interesting.

(It kind of looks like a Star Wars-prequel storm trooper, but trust me, it had the red Cylon eye slit.)

Metro Journal: Following the Beeline

The city of Glendale, where I live, recently completed a survey of its municipal public transportation line, called the Beeline. You probably don't want to read all 266 pages (I think the people who put these reports together must get paid by the page), and neither do I. I did peek at some of the charts, though. One of the very interesting ones had a field for cost per rider, based on the number of miles traveled and the average passenger load. While a ride on the Beeline only costs 25 cents for an adult fare, the cost per weekday passenger varied from $1.13 to $5.68 each. (Guess which line is most likely to get the ax.) Wow, that means the city is doing serious subsidization of the service. Now, there are hidden cost benefits to public transportation, including less wear and tear on roads that the city has to fix, and it also makes the city more appealing to some would-be residents and businesses, but those are very thought-provoking numbers.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Other: Most Oxymoronic File Name Ever?

A recruiter just sent me this questionnaire to fill out: Unix Admin.doc

Particularly, note the space in the name.

Spoonerisms: Freakin' Out Jesus!

(Or, I'm going to love him and hug him and squeeze him and call him Jesus.)

see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Is it just me, or does Jesus look kind of panicked there?

Other: You're My Bitch, Archaeopteryx!

Scientists have unearthed several fossils in China of a 155-million-year-old creature with feathers and four wings, named Anchiornis huxleyi. Scientists feel it is more dinosaur than early bird, but it certainly has hallmarks of the transition between the two. The animal predates the famous "ancient bird" Archaeopteryx by about a million years.

Both Scientific American and Wired magazine have short pieces on the findings, including pictures of a well-preserved fossil. However, the latter article also has an artist's rendering of how the bird-osaur might have appeared in life. That is one pimped-out raptor.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Other: My To-Do List

  • Get more exercise.
  • Get rid of this stupid low-level summer cold that's been making my throat scratchy for the past few days. It's too hot to drink tea with honey.
  • Get started on Xmas presents. (One is mostly done.)
  • Teach Dipity about keyboard etiquette.
  • Get Dipity to stop scratching unsanctioned scratching items. (An herbal spray I got at the pet store seems to be helping.)
  • Get Dipity to realize that Spoon is harmless and impossible not to like, so I can get the damned litter box out of my bedroom.
  • Install FreeBSD on my laptop because upgrading to Fedora 11 makes mplayer playback suck ass.
  • Try playing Fallout 3 again to figure out how to get out of the Vault without getting killed by rad rats.
  • Convince Dan to write a program for graphing amigurumi crochet patterns. Bribe him with some dorky Harry Potter item if necessary.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spoonerisms: The Biggest Spooner

Spoon is officially on a diet now. I've been meaning to start limiting his food portions now that Pandora isn't here to bitch if there's so much as 1mm2 of the bottom of the food dish visible, and I finally started. First of all, the food bag recommends 1 cup of food a day to 16 lb. cats who are overweight. I got out my kitchen scale and weighed out about half that. It's about 1.5oz. (I plan to split the 3oz. allowance into two daily servings.) Wow. That's not a lot of food. But he is overweight, and even though he wears it well, we need to try to control that. I'm not sure how it will work when (if?) he and Dipity are cohabiting and sharing the same food. I've been giving her as much food as she wants, and she still has that lean Siamese build, so I doubt she's prone to overeating.

Besides, for now Spoon's diet is getting generously supplemented with the treats I give them in my dubious plan to bribe them to like each other.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Other: I Love It When They're Stupid

This is too funny. Some YMD broke into an acquaintance's home to steal some jewelry. Police didn't have much trouble figuring out who did it, because the moron couldn't even stay away from his Facebook page long enough to commit a quick burglary. Not only did he log into his account from the victim's home computer, he forgot to log out afterward.

You just know it's a matter of time before some dumbass has to tweet his way through some crime just so his friends know what he's up to at every single minute of the day. To quote the immortal Lennie Briscoe from Law & Order: I love it when they're stupid.

(via /.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Other: Fake Tweets

(All fake tweets tested to stay within 140-byte limit.)

  • No jury duty tomorrow. Done for at least one year, but have to mail form back to ensure that. Bastards require me to supply the stamp.
  • Forehead bruise faded to lovely yellow-green. Much more noticeable than original pinkish-red, which just made me look like I had bad skin.
  • Lots of yellow-green just above nose bridge. I'm seriously lucky I didn't break it.
  • Dipity getting much more affectionate with me last few days, purring and sprawling on my chest when I get in bed. Still hates Spoon.
  • Getting amigurumi burnout. No more swaps for awhile after this month. Gonna make stuff for me again, dammit!

Spoonerisms: Helper *cough* Cats

Rilakkuma bus pass holder! I was at Kinokuniya today to get stuff for packages for two different swaps, both this month's $10 Amigurumi swap and for a Kawaii/Zakka ("cute"/an untranslatable term for objects that are generally utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing and somehow comfortably familiar) swap. I got a couple things in the Aisle of Unbearable Cuteness, including, for myself, a Rilakkuma badge card holder. I had been meaning to get one so I could tether my TAP card to my bag, but I was just going to get one of those cheap-o clear plastic jobs. This is way cooler.

Monster Hunter Portable kitties This time I also ventured into territory I generally try to avoid: the manga zone. Actually, the zone encompasses about the middle 1/3 of the store these days, but anyway. They had a few turning displays with all those weird collectibles, those little trinkets where you don't know which one you're getting until you open the package. Most were anime-related, but I don't know crap about most of those series. There were random cute things, and then.... there was a display with these Siamese cats wearing battle outfits. They were seriously cute. I had to get some of their mystery charms for no obvious reason. Now, I didn't know what the hell "Monster Hunter Portable" was, but cute is cute. I got 3, although it looks like there 12 varieties. I really want the chick (?) with attitude, shown on the right-hand side of this picture. When I got home, I did a little research. Apparently the PlayStation Portable game Monster Hunter Portable 2G features cat helpers for your player. I watched a bit on YouTube. I have no idea whether they're helpful within the context of the game, but I couldn't help thinking that in my experience, "helper cat" is an oxymoron.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Metro Journal: Sept 16 Hard Tops

First off, I felt a lot better today. The head pain has subsided to a dull ache, at least if I don't touch my forehead or make any exaggerated facial expressions. Of course, while my mother did tell me that, if I couldn't say something nice, I shouldn't say anything at all1, she never said anything about facial expressions.2

I had that job interview in West Hollywood this afternoon. I just missed my short-cut bus to the 780. It has gotten hot again here, not the kind of weather you want to walk in in the middle of the day, but as I was walking slowly towards the stop, I saw the Beeline drive by, meaning it would loop around in a few minutes and intersect the 780 at Central. Of course, once we got to the stop, which is actually a block post Central, I got to watch the 780 pull away while I was waiting for the crossing light. Crap. Fortunately I had left plenty of buffer room. I still had to sit and wait 15 minutes for the next one, though. While I was there, someone came and asked if she had missed the 780. I told her it should be another minute or two, because I had just missed the last one 13 minutes ago.

On the 780, about the time we were crossing the L.A. Drainage Ditch, the woman in front of me turned around and asked if it was the 780. I nodded. Hint #1 was that it wasn't stopping every two blocks.

I changed buses at Santa Monica and Fairfax. I needed either the 4 or the 704, but it was still at least 10 minutes before either came. It was a 4, but the route is so busy that both lines use the 60' accordion buses. A man sat next to me and politely started telling me about an on-line radio station that has changed his life. Now, he never said anything about religion, but he was Talking That Talk. He encouraged me to visit it and to tell my friends! Tell my family! (I kept my word and just checked out the home page, and sure enough, it's some guy pushing some Christian DIY denomination.)

Going back I took the 704. I needed to go downtown to Little Tokyo to pick up some stuff for swap packages. (See separate post.) It's a long enough distance from West Hollywood to the closest Red Line station that the 4 would have taken a very long time. One of those visibly and olfactorily unkempt persons sat across the aisle from me. Joy.

By now it was late afternoon and the temperature outside was comfortable. I walked to Little Tokyo, got some seriously かわいい3 stuff. It was a little after 5:30, but I knew I should eat. (I think one of the contributory factors to my face-plant episode was not eating consistently or properly.) I always eat at Curry House when I'm there, so I thought I'd check out the other places. There was a place that seemed to put beef on everything. There was a noodle house that said on the menu they put pork in all their ramen broth. I don't eat mammals, so that was out. There was a place called "Tofu Village," which sounded like it would be safe, but from the display menu, it looks like, whether or not there's tofu in their dishes, there's also either pork of beef. There were a couple restaurants, including a sushi place, that weren't open yet. Curry House it was. As I usually get the chicken katsu, I decided to try to branch out a bit. I ordered the curry udon. They brought this enormous, steaming hot pot out. Wow. I had to wait awhile and eat very slowly, and I'm pretty sure I looked like a dork doing it too,4 but it was really good. Still, the katsu is really good, too, and easier to eat. Oh, and as it was still so early, the restaurant, which gets really crowded after about 7, was mostly empty, so I got to hear these two middle-aged guys two tables away discussing a movie script. It sounded... stupid. The screenwriter was trying to defend the rather sadistic aspects by saying that's why people go to movies. Yeah, I didn't quite get it, either.

After I ate, I got some sweets at Marukai, then walked back to Hill and 1st to catch the 794. It was about 7 by then. I sat to wait. And wait. A woman asked me if the 794 was still running and I said I was pretty sure it was, because I was waiting for it. We both passed on a 94. Finally, around 7:30, just as I had resolved to get on the next bus, even if it was the Chatsworth Express, a 794 came. Phew.

I got off at Los Feliz and went across the street to wait at the 180/181/780 stop. I didn't care which came first; they would all get me mostly home, and I wasn't sure if the 780 was still running anyway. It was and came first. I stepped around one of those extremely annoying people who stand at the front so they can talk to the driver, thus making it even more of an obstacle course for people trying to get on. The guy was in his early 20s, wearing a dress shirt and pants. He was talking to the driver about the "church" he worked at, doing counselling. Even though I was several rows back, he had a high, clear voice that carried. He kept asking the driver about areas of his life where he might have problems. I had a sinking feeling.... wait for it.... wait for it... Yes, he dropped the 'S' bomb. Scientology. I was too tired and too close to home and also lacking elbow room, so it just wasn't convenient to pull out my headphones, but I was grimacing in psychic pain, which, of course, made me wince in physical pain because of my swollen forehead.

I walked the last half mile home. I must be a hard top and not a convertible, because when I got home, I was still a devout agnostic.

1She might have said it, but that doesn't mean I always take her advice.
2Not that I would have paid any attention if she did.
3kawaii - Japanese for "cute"
4Hey, the ramen-Western film Tampopo shows lots of noodle slurpage going on!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Other: Owie Update

Other than a constant low-level headache, I seem to be fine. The weather this evening was lovely, so I walked the mile or so to the pharmacy to pick up my car and didn't have any problems at all. It actually felt good to get out and walk, as the weather has been too nasty and hot to do that much while there's still sunlight.

I don't have to appear for jury duty tomorrow because of the mandatory furlough day for state court employees, or Thursday either...
You are not needed on 09/17/2009 . Please check this web site or
call 1-800-SRV-JURY(778-5879) as follows:
Call between 09/17/2009   05:00 PM
and 09/17/2009   12:00 Midnight
However, I do have a last-minute job interview tomorrow. If they ask about the quite visible mess on my forehead, I suppose I will have to explain it. At least if I don't do well on technical questions, I can blame the recent head trauma. And if I do do well, I can say that I'm even more impressive when I haven't recently scrambled my brains.

Meanwhile, early in the afternoon I went back to bed to see if I could nap a bit. Dipity climbed right on my belly and stayed a good 15-20 minutes, purring and relaxed. Then she got up and started playing with her noisy toys. I gave up on getting more sleep. Fortunately the interview tomorrow is in the afternoon, so I can sleep into the morning if I need to.

Other: Owie

Bar Fight!!! A priest and a rabbi walk into a bar... and I started a fight! Man, you should have seen the other guys!

Yeah, I didn't really think anyone would buy that one. Yesterday evening I went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and while I was there, I decided to get a flu shot. I've gotten one every year for I don't know how many years now and I've never had a problem, other than maybe a little soreness at the injection site for a day. While I don't think needles are fun, they also don't bother me to the point of dizziness as long as I sit down and don't look. And it seemed all right last night, too, at least for a minute. Then the waves of nausea and dizziness hit. I sat down and after a minute or two, thought I'd be ok... but I wasn't. I sat down again and it just got worse. Next thing I know, I have a front-row view of the floor and the pairs of feet standing next to my head. "Did I faint?"

Floor: 1. Karen: 0.

I don't know what it was. I'd eaten lunch and I haven't been sick at all. I had apparently just keeled over and my head hit the ground glasses-first. I was still feeling queasy, so staying prone on the floor seemed like a really good idea. I asked for a damp towel, and when I blotted my forehead, realized there was blood. Apparently the impact had made a small cut. The pharmacist called the paramedics, who were helpfully located a block down the road. 6 guys come in and I asked if it was a slow night, because all I did was faint. I was sitting up, still on the floor, by now, but still really out of it, and my head was seriously hurting at that point. They asked if I wanted them to take me to the emergency room. I thought about it, and while I was pretty sure the whole thing was nothing and that falling on my head from a seated position couldn't do enough to cause a concussion, I also knew my tendency to downplay these things and that it would be a bad idea to go home alone with a head injury without having it looked at.

The hospital was about 3 blocks away, although I don't think they charge you by the mile or anything. I got put in a curtain between a screamer and a teenage girl who was sobbing. They hooked me up to the EKG, told me my blood sugar was a little low but not enough to cause fainting alone and that my blood pressure was low. Then I got to wait awhile. Since I wasn't exactly at death's door or anything, I was obviously pretty low on their list of priorities. A peripatetic doctor with an accent from an unidentifiable Commonwealth nation eventually appeared and asked me some questions. I told him I wouldn't have bothered coming if I hadn't hit my head. He said it was probably a good thing to get it looked at because you never know, and then he started to tell me about how his 18-year-old son had cut his finger and... I said I was still queasy enough that maybe we should skip the blood. He got called away. The sobbing girl decided her belly pain wasn't that bad and apparently left. Next up behind that curtain was a drunk the fire department brought in. The paramedic said they had had to bring him in three days in a row for falling down in the street. This time he had a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor. "Nothing but the best for him," the paramedic told the nurse.

By now I was getting really cold. One of the paramedics had kindly retrieved my sweater from the car before the ambulance left, but I couldn't put my right arm through the sleeve because of the blood pressure cuff. I somehow managed to reach the sheet on the chair next to the gurney, but it wasn't exactly made for warmth. I kind of hunched over to conserve body heat, and tried to read about UFS2 directory layouts. After reading maybe a page in 15 minutes, the doctor came back, said that was a good sign, and left. A little later the nurse came with discharge instructions and cleaned the small cut on my head, using about half a tube of bacitracin. I asked for a cab, and after about 2 hours there, went home.

It's hard to see in the picture, but the area around the cut is really swollen, tapering off up to that red patch near the hairline. Yes, it hurts, like a moderate sinus headache. They told me to take regular OTC stuff for pain, which kills the worst but leaves enough to remind me constantly of last night's face-plant. I also have ugly bruises on my knees, and as tired as I was after all that, I just couldn't get to sleep last night. I tossed and turned for an hour, got up and played computer games for an hour, went back to bed and tossed and turned for several more hours. Dipity did actually snuggle me once for a few minutes when I first got into bed, which was nice. I suspect her dis-owners just weren't affectionate with her at all and she has that Siamese impulse to be loving but is just not sure how to go about it. She's as socially inept as I am!

P.S. I still strongly recommend flu shots. Just make sure you're sitting when you get it, and if you start to feel dizzy, it's best to try to recline so your feet are above your head.

P.P.S. My glasses were none the worse for wear.

Glasses: 1. Karen: 0.

P.P.P.S. At least I didn't get called in for jury duty today. I'm pretty sure an ER visit the night before with visible head damage would be a valid excuse, but just think of all the paperwork it would require...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Paying It Fearward

I got my Pay It Forward projects #3 and #4 to their recipients over the past couple days. They were rather ambitious, but since both people were real-life friends of mine, I felt motivated to make something memorable for each.

Jeanne had asked me awhile back for a shark. I never saw a pattern I really liked, so I came up with my own. The construction is somewhat unorthodox because I wanted specific attributes, like only the right side of single crochet stitches showing and not having to graft a head onto the torso, which just wouldn't look right to me. So, after a good deal of trial and error, and somehow getting one eye one row removed from the other even after I counted 3 times, here's the shark:

Shark! Shark!

Next, Dan got a Chinese hopping vampire. Several years ago, I showed him my DVD (yes, I proudly own it) of the 1985 Hong Kong movie classic Mr Vampire, a film I mentioned here awhile back. I was scratching around for ideas for what to make Dan, who, when I showed him the film, couldn't believe the vampires were based on a real Chinese myth. Nooooo, he had to confirm it later with Chinese friends of his. Anyway, to prove for once and for all that hopping vampires really do exist, I made one. Again, I did some unorthodox things to get certain details I wanted, but he turned out super-cute. And I referred to my aforementioned Mr Vampire DVD often to get the details right. He comes complete in Qing Dynasty dress, with the Buddhist prayer bead necklace and long, black fingernails. I even made the Chinese death blessing to keep him under control.

Mr Vampire Mr Vampire

After I took the initial pictures of Mr Vampire there, I went to the computer to get them off the card. When I came back, I found Spoon snuggling the vampire. Who knew a stiff corpse could be so cuddly?

Mr Vampire + Spoon

Spoonerisms: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Dipity hanging out

Yesterday, I did the trading places thing for the first time in awhile, closing Spoon in the bedroom so Dipity could explore the rest of the apartment. Explore she did, getting into lots of nooks and crannies before settling on the 2-½' carpet-covered cat furniture under the window. I let the experiment go on for about an hour, but Spoon was making pitiful noises. I was hesitant about letting him in, because even if he didn't approach her directly, he would still be between her and the bedroom if she wanted to flee. But I let him out and got the water bottle ready just in case, and while she seemed a little tense, she didn't make a break for it. I did have to rein Spoon back a couple times, especially when, after awhile, she decided she did want to go back to the room.

I think Spoon does think of the bedroom as her territory, which is why he's very cautious in there. He's a little bolder in the rest of the apartment because that's his territory. And Dipity feels the same way. The real problem occurs when she runs, because Spoon is compelled to chase her. But I kept my hand on his ruff when Dipity sped up, and we didn't have an incident.

That evening, I decided to try to lure her out of the bedroom when I took her food dish into the kitchen to refill it. I set it down a few feet outside the bedroom door while she was watching, and she did come out to eat. When she was done, she poked around a little bit. I let down my guard and next thing I knew, she was running past Spoon for the bedroom and he was running after her, and swatting at her backside before I could grab him. He seemed a little contrite afterwards, but the damage was done.

This morning she wouldn't go near the open bedroom door, and I couldn't even get her closer than 3-4' feet from Spoon with the treats. I had just fed her an hour earlier, though, so I will try again this afternoon when she gets hungry again.


I may have to get an escape-proof halter for Spoon for outside-the-bedroom encounters.

And then she made a major stink in the litter box at 4:45AM. I sprayed a crapload of air freshener, but even then it just smelled like flowers and crap for several minutes. (Cats really hate the air freshener, too, I think largely because it sounds like a hissing cat.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spoonerisms: Happy Spooniversary!

headrub Today is the 3rd of anniversary of the day I got Spoon from the Pasadena Humane Society. It also marks the observance of his 5th birthday, since he was "about 2 years old" according to their records. From the day I brought him home, he's been a gentle, very affectionate cat. He was scared that first day to be in a new place, but he also didn't want to get out of reach of my hand because then I couldn't pet him. You can see he's always had that confused/sad look. And, yes, he was skinny once upon a time.... Here are some pictures from that first day:

Spoon, Day 1
awwww awwwwwww

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Spoonerisms: Closer... Closer... Ok, Stop!

Thursday I managed to get Dipity to come within 6" of Spoon voluntarily, using a trail of kitty treats. That ended when he leaned over to try to sniff her head and she hissed and stepped back. He looked all sad and left.

Today I got her even closer, within about 3". That ended when they were both leaning down to eat their respective treats and their ears brushed, and Dipity hissed and drew back. We do seem to be making progress, even if it is in very small increments. She does still growl or even hiss when she sees him, but the close encounters are going well. He never growls and he'll even usually back away and leave when she openly hisses at him when he's less than a couple feet away. I hope she gets the message that she's in charge. Particularly since I'm tired of having her litter box closed in my room. She usually makes stinky around 4 in the morning.

Anyway, I need to get some more treats tomorrow. I'm almost out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Spoonerisms: What Is It With Kittens and Primates?

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

This lolcat showed up on today. It made me think of a few cases of various primate species bonding with kittens. One was Koko, the captive gorilla who was taught sign language. She had her own cat. And I saw a "news" story several years ago from some Mediterranean island. A man's cat had kittens and his pet monkey appointed herself official babysitter. She would hold and groom the kittens and was very protective of them when strangers approached. She let the mother cat nurse them and so forth and the mother cat didn't seem to mind at all. Then there's this cute video from India of a monkey that even appears to be nursing a kitten:

So, what it is with primates and cats? I can understand why kittens wouldn't have a problem, since it's not so different from human socialization, but I wonder what's in it for the monkeys and gorillas?

Spoonerisms: Pwned!

Last night, I was on the bed socializing with Dipity. I had left the door open, and sure enough, Spoon stuck his head in. He was moving in slowly and cautiously, with that perpetually confused look on his face, but Dipity started the low growl. He made his way to the bed, and as soon as he jumped up, about a yard from Dipity, she hissed and lunged at him. He immediately ran away and she ran under the bed.

She just needs to realize that she's already in charge and he's perfectly harmless. Poor boy, he just wants to be dominated by another alpha female.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Other: Magic Belly-Button Lint?

The September/October issue of Archaeology magazine has a blurb about a 17th-century witch bottle that had been found in Greenwich, England being opened. Among the contents: belly-button lint. Now, how on earth do they know it's belly-button lint? And who knew that belly-button lint had magical powers?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Spoonerisms: That Aggravating Beauty

Such a star I've never seen, she's as pretty as a queen
She's as perfect as an angel from above
If she'll only be my wife, I'll live happy all my life
With that aggravating beauty Lulu Walls
"Lulu Walls," The Carter Family
Hello Spoon
Dipity stares at Spoon...
Hello Dipity
... while Spoon smooshes his face and stares at... nothing.
I'm wondering if I shouldn't have named Dipity "Lulu Walls" instead.1 Oh, she's mostly a good kitty, but she's still stubbornly scared of Spoon. Yes, scared of Spoon. He doesn't really do anything overtly aggressive, although he does try to get closer, and the wimpy voice of his should be a dead give-away, but she's hissing at him under the door right now.

I'd like to think we're making a little progress. I can lure her to within a foot or two using cat treats. Fortunately, she really likes those. But she'll be making this low growl, and if the treats get too close, she'll dart forward an inch to grab them. Plus she's a fast eater and can really wolf the things down. She'll also hiss at him if he moves, even if it's just to rearrange himself in the same spot. He's just terribly curious, but she's terribly defensive in response.

She's become more social with me in the last couple of days. She had been greeting me every time I'd walk in before she got sick, and I'm not sure if it was my having to forcibly pill her after she got home or the extreme heat or what, but she hadn't been doing that much since. She's started it again and is initiating more affection. I knew she would come around, because she was always comfortable around me and Siamese as a breed tend to be very affectionate and social. I'm also getting her to play with the toys more instead of spending most of her time behind the bed, like she's been doing. I'm hoping that as she becomes more actively social with me, it means she is adjusting and calming down and will be a little more receptive to Spoon, too. For now I'm trying to make sure they have at least one treat-mediated encounter a day which generally lasts until Dipity withdraws to the bed.

I think the next step is to resort to homeopathy. Some people swear by it, saying that lavender is especially calming. I already have two Feliway (feline facial pheromone) diffusers going.

1Several years ago, a little boy named Benjamin moved in next door to my parents. Benjamin was fascinated by my parents' cats, which tended to disappear when he came around. After a couple years, he got a kitten named "Lulu." One day my mother asked his mother how Lulu was doing. Turns out Lulu was an imaginary kitten.

Other: Your Assignment For the Day

Request your Department of Homeland Security travel records! Check out what one person found on theirs!

(via /.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Other: Perler Bead Madness!

Remember perler beads? Those little plastic things you use to make pixellated pictures on a special pegboard and then iron to melt into permanent (and since it's plastic, I mean archaeologists will be digging these things up 10,000 years from now) effigies? Well, some people have taken them beyond the realm of smiley faces and, well, whatever 6-year-olds generally make with these things. In fact, if you go to the Geek Craft group on Flickr, some people seem to have made the things their favorite medium for producing homages of their favorite 8-bit video game characters, and even some characters with 16- or 32- bits. Some of these things are seriously hard-core.

Donkey Kong Jr + Burger time
Donkey Kong Jr/Burger Time mash-up in perler beads by Flickr user Danny_8bit

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Knittin' Crap: Swapping Under the Sea

The first picture of my $10 Amigurumi group swap creation: a Mer-Cat
Camera Hog Strikes Again!
The second picture, taken about 15 seconds later. You can still see the ear... sort of.
The theme for the August $10 Amigurumi group swap was creatures that live under the sea. I took a slight liberty and made a creature that would live under the sea if it actually existed.

Mamegoma eraser cuteness!
Mamegoma eraser cuteness!
My swap partner likes anime stuff, so I made a trip to Little Tokyo last week. I got her an official Studio Ghibli Chibi Totoro magnet and this absurdly cute Mamegoma eraser with seals in all sorts of under-sea costumes. See the shark! See the sea otter with a baby seal in matching costume! See the seal in a seal costume! And the little white seal on the front sides actually slides back and forth. Extreme cuteness!

Swap Package from Geologygirl
Swap Package from Geologygirl Meanwhile, I got geologygirl's swap package and immediately experienced swap performance anxiety. She actually made two amigurumi and a clownfish tote bag, which drives the Camera Hog nuts.

Rilakkuma stickers San-X bonus picture! These stickers came in some Japanese candy which tastes like, well, Frankenberry cereal. I guess the Japanese use the same fake strawberry flavor we have here. And see where Korilakkuma is drawing a face on Rilakkuma's butt!

Other: The Station Fires

For those not following Southern California news, as of this morning over 140,000 acres (over 218 square miles) are burning in the San Gabriel mountains, the closest within just a few miles from where I live. Two firefighters have been killed and at least 62 homes destroyed. The area is actually fairly sparsely populated because most of the area burning is in the Angeles Crest National Forest, not only a nature preserve but a favorite recreational area for thousands of hikers and campers. However, many residential communities to the south of the forest are in increasing danger and evacuations continue as the fire spreads east.

For people who want to help out, the Los Angeles Times has this article. In addition to making donations over the web to various aide groups, local shelters like the Pasadena Humane Society (where I got Spoon!) and other animal rescue groups are in need of cat food and supplies for the animals fleeing the fire and those pets being temporarily housed while their homes are evacuated. Goodwill and the Red Cross have a joint program which I thought was great. If you bring in your donations to your local Southern California Goodwill, you can request that the value be used for vouchers for fire victims. The Red Cross will distribute the vouchers to people in need so they can go to a Goodwill store and redeem them for the things they need. I have a crapload of clothes which no longer fit which I've been meaning to wash and bring in. This is the kick in the pants I needed.

Oh, and I almost forgot to put in this quote from one of the Times articles.
"This was like the Jabba the Hut fire," said Bill Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "It's menacing and big, but it definitely can't move that fast."
It takes a serious geek to use a Star Wars reference at a time like this.

Spoonerisms: 28 Days Later

Must... Defeat... Toy! Day 29 of Serendipity here. Tomorrow will be the magical 30th day since her arrival. I already have an appointment to get her microchipped.

The Spoon socialization is still slow. I think it is moving forward, though, but in very, very small increments. The other day when I got in the shower, I forgot to close the bedroom door. When I got out of the shower, I freaked out a little, because I couldn't find Spoon. I finally did find him in the bedroom, lying on the floor about 2 yards from Dipity with my cd crates between them. She had to know he was there, but I was just glad he hadn't tried to get in her face. That's the kind of interaction they need; quiet time near each other. Unfortunately, when I decided to leave the door open later that day for a little while, Spoon got too nosy and there was a tiff. No injuries though, unlike when Pandora was training Spoon and he would always have at least one scratch on his nose for the first couple months. And I keep the water squirt bottle handy to break up anything. Spoon will usually back away just from the sound of it, now, without even getting wet.

Beatin' the Heat Speaking of getting wet, as I've said, I don't have air conditioning in my bedroom, and I don't want to drag out the little kitty if she's going to be tense and nervous in the main room. She hasn't seemed interested in coming out, either. So, to keep her cool in the afternoon heat, as the temperature here has been in the upper 90s and higher the last week, I keep plastic water bottles in the freezer and leave them at the edge of her favorite spot on the far side of my bed. I thought that, while she would like to be close for the coolness, she wouldn't actually want to touch them because of the water condensation. But, no, she'll actually even use them as headrests! And I've also seen her lick off some of the condensation, so they're multi-functional. And, of course, I make sure there's plenty of fresh drinking water in her bowl.

She's not super-affectionate or snuggly, although that may be partially due to the heat. She does like getting her head scratched, but on her terms. She also really seems to like getting brushed. She doesn't shed nearly as much as Spoon, even on a per-square-inch basis, but I still pick up some loose fur. The important bit is the bonding/trust thing. Still, Spoon was the only new cat I'd gotten in the past 15 years, and he literally came out of the box super-snuggly and loving and trusting. I'd forgotten that many if not most cats need some more time to develop that bond. And Pandora didn't even become a snuggly lap cat until she was several years old, but once she started, she mastered it quickly. This little girl is still young and while she's certainly comfortable with my presence, she may never have been given an opportunity to bond with a receptive person before. I'm pretty sure that everything will work out at this point, though.