Anachostic

My tagline, let me show you it.

He Just Snapped

Just so we’re clear where I’m coming from, I’m old.  In Internet years, I’m a fossil.  But I am an active user of technology, so I do have at least a small idea of what’s going on in the world.  Because of my age, a lot of things fall into the “I don’t understand this” bucket.  Not because I don’t understand how to use it, it’s more an issue of why would you use it.

I’ve only recently gotten into the modern phone game (meaning Android), having been a Windows Phone user for its limited lifespan.  And I recall one must-have app that caused a lot of WP users to move on to Android or iPhone – Snapchat.  So when I did upgrade to a can-do mobile OS, I was sure to install and utilize Snapchat.  Snapchat falls so hard into the “I don’t understand this” bucket, it punches a hole through the bottom.

First, the app offends me from a technical perspective.  I do understand that all modern applications have eschewed any form of friendly UI design and that design quality is called “clean” or “immersive”.  That design style involves removing all identifying command buttons, so you have mystery navigation where you have to randomly tap and swipe to figure out what the apps capabilities are. This app is no different.  Resource-wise, Snapchat is a killer.  I will give this a pass because the real-time video filters are impressive.  But, man, it hurts my phone.

Next, the app offends me as a photographer.  Here is the full text of their website home page:

Snap Inc. is a camera company.

We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.

We contribute to human progress by empowering people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.

I am painfully aware that the word “photography” is not used anywhere in that manifesto.  And if you wanted to take issue with my issue about Snapchat offending me as a photographer, you could use that against me.  But for the main populace, a camera is the gateway to photography.  And photography is about recording a moment in time.  And what does Snapchat do?  It makes photos that disappear.  That’s the opposite of photography.

An advertisement for Snapchat says: “It’s a camera for talking because a Snap says more than a text.” This is probably true in the sense that a picture is worth a thousand words.  But if that picture disappears, your words have been lost.  You have said nothing of value.  The ad also says, “So, yeah, Snapchat is a camera—where how you feel matters more than how you look.”  This is clearly a dig at Instagram.  I have read elsewhere that Snapchat is intended to be used spontaneously instead of having heavily “produced” photos like those in Instagram.  But that goes back to recording a moment.  You plan and produce an Instagram shot to capture a mood (or feeling) to be shared. So yeah, Snapchat is a camera, where how you look or feel doesn’t matter.

Next, the app offends me as a communicator.  If you haven’t noticed, I blog.  I also email and text.  When I write something, I am creating something.  It’s meant to persist.  And what happens in Snapchat?  It doesn’t.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a picture or a chat, it’s all disposable.  It’s “living in the moment” as Snap wants you to.  It’s a YO-fucking-LO, get out of jail free card, where your past can’t be brought up to hold you accountable for your actions.  At the same time, it’s an admission that you don’t matter.  The things you create are not worth permanence.  The past is useless and there is no reason to preserve it.  How depressing.  And maybe that’s how things are for the youth of today.

But how about those filters?  I said, they are impressive.  It’s a very clever use of technology, but it’s also pointless.  The issues I take with Snapchat dovetail nicely with the filters.  “…How you feel matters more than how you look.”  Oh really?  I’m going to call bullshit on an app that distorts every face into an anime-grade caricature, smoothing out skin blemishes, enlarging eyes, contouring cheeks – it’s all about how you look.

But it doesn’t really matter anyway, because it’s all transitory.  The silly augmentation filters, while good for a laugh today, are going to be the MySpace embarrassment of the future, if any images manage to survive.  Wait and see.

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New Cat Journal, Part 2

I got a new cat last night.  It’s the same cat I got last Saturday, but it’s definitely a different cat.  He’s changed from a timid lap cat to an obnoxious, wild kitten.

As I’d discussed previously, new cat Charlie has been having a pretty rough go in his new home.  He has been scared of everything, every sound, every room, every corner.  All he wants to do is sit in my lap in the office and be pet.  His food, water and litterbox are all in the office, so he has no reason to ever leave.

Yesterday, I had to go to work, like most people have to, so that left Charlie in the house all by himself for about 10 hours.  When I got home, as soon as I got in the house in the laundry room, I called him, hoping he would be out of the office.  Well, he wasn’t in the office.  I eventually found him in the laundry room, tucked in a corner.  I walked right by him and he didn’t make his presence known.  Sigh.

The night went on and Charlie got his attention in the office, but I had to go to bed, like most people have to, so I left him as I had before and went to bed.  At around midnight, Charlie starts crying for me.  I wake up and go give him some attention.  I go back to bed and around 1:15, the crying starts again.  This time, I carry him back to bed with me.  I make him stay on the bed for a while and he seemed mostly happy, but restless.  So I let him jump down and figured he’d just disappear under the bed for the night, which would be perfectly fine as long as I could get some sleep.

Instead, Charlie started exploring the bedroom, closet, and bathroom.  Because I know he hates the open area between rooms, I picked him up and carried him back to the office.  I put him down a little outside the office and sat down on the floor.  Charlie wasn’t interested in going in the office and sleeping.  He was now interested in exploring, as long as I protected him.

So we worked our way around the house and just like that, Charlie got all of his confidence back.  He jumped up on the bar bench, the kitchen counter, and drank from the open-area water bowl, then we worked our way back to the bedroom.  He jumped on the bed, crawled under the bed and came right back out, went in and out of the closet.  All things he was too afraid to do before.  So, great, he’s fine with the house now and I can go to bed.

No, I can’t.  Charlie also found his voice.  He’s quite vocal.  He chirps, squeaks, and meows a lot.  And he’s active.  He jumped on and off the bed many times, laying against me, then leaving over and over.  I got little to no sleep.  And on top of that, he suddenly decided he likes chewing on fingertips.  So petting his head has to be done in a very careful manner because he used to just headbutt, but now he snaps at you.  The change in personality is drastic.

We’ll have to see how he behaves when I get home tonight.  It’s always a mystery bag getting a new cat.  You never really know what you’re getting.

New Cat Journal

Saturday, I brought home a new cat.  It’s been exactly two months since I lost my old cat.  This was an adoption from a friend of a friend.  His name is currently Charlie, but it’s hard to say what it will eventually be.  He’s your average white and multicolor tabby cat. 

I drove him home today and this is the first cat I’ve had that does a freakout in the cat carrier – scrabbling and thrashing around.  He was so spastic he scratched his own nose.  Great, injured on the first day of parenthood.  That makes me look like a perfect pet owner.  However, I turned on some smooth jazz and he was chilled out for the rest of the trip.

Then when I got home, I let him out of the carrier and he was expectedly a little upset by his new surroundings.  I let him do his exploring, which didn’t really go how I expected.  After leaving him on his own for a little bit, I went in search of Charlie and he had jammed himself in a corner behind a drawer unit.  That’s pathetic.  He let me reach in and pet his head, so he wasn’t panicked, just scared.

A little while later, he came out and hid a little more in the open.  I picked him up and he was ok with being held a little.  I sat with him on the floor and he stretched out against me but after a bit, he went back to his corner.  The next couple hours were spent on the floor beside me while I wrote this.  I once carried him out to the kitchen area where his food and water were and he had no interest in it, slinking back to the office.  I guess if there’s going to be a favorite room for Charlie, the office might as well be the one.

His acclimation took quicker than I thought given his initial behavior.  He started coming out of the corner to my hand within half an hour.  He would chill out beside me at the desk.  Sometimes he would do some quick grooming licks, which was encouraging.  Within two hours he would jump up onto my lap on his own accord.  During an extended lap session, he started swishing his tail.  Up to that point, he had kept his tail tucked or tight against his body in a fearful posture.  He explored and sniffed some objects nearby, but still was skittish at every sound the house made.  I don’t think he realizes he’s the only cat here.  Now he’s on the floor stretched out and grooming, tail extended.

Charlie ended up spending the first night in the office alone.  When I woke up in Sunday morning, I went to see him and he was sociable.  I carried him to the master bedroom and held him on my lap while he stressed about being in a new room.  After a while, I let him down and he slinked back to the office.  Once back in his room, he was happy again and I praised him for the effort.

A couple hours later, I pulled him back to the bedroom and tried again.  Charlie was less upset this time and when he jumped down, he didn’t leave the room.  Instead, he crawled under the bed.  The foster family told me he likes to hang out under furniture, so I figured this would be fine.  He spent many hours under there.  When I would check on him, he seemed content, stretched out or grooming.  Lots of yawning.  But he didn’t want to come out just yet.  After about 8 hours , Charlie still had no interest in coming out.

At the 11 hour mark, I’d had enough.  He wasn’t coming out for food or play or petting, so I pulled the mattress down and dragged him out.  He didn’t protest, but at the same time, he did not like the transport through the house to “his room”.  Once in his safe zone, though, he started purring again and was eager to jump up and sit in my lap.  Then he noticed the food and had his dinner.  Then more lap time.  Then down on the floor.  Then MORE lap time.  He’s a pretty clingy cat when he’s not hiding.  If he had his way, he’d sit in my lap all day.

In the second overnight spent in the office, Charlie used his litterbox, which I consider a great success.  In the morning, he was eager for his wet food, and drank a lot of water while I supervised.  As far as I can tell, he hasn’t explored outside the office, although at one point earlier in the evening, when he was happy and excited, he unexpectedly chased me into the hallway.  Without wanting to push his comfort level, I stopped and we went back into the office, where he stayed.

Thinking back to Rump’s acclimation process, she spent many of her first days shut in the spare bedroom.  Ever since then, that was “her” room.  If you were in her room, she was very pleased to spend time in there with you.  I expect the same thing will be true of Charlie, that he will always have his room in the office.  As long as he gains enough confidence over time to roam the house, that will be fine.  But we’re only on day three right now.  Plenty of time to grow.

I Can’t Sleep – Web Crawl

This crawl started by seeing AK in a snapchat picture with a BK+Budweiser filter.  I wondered what that bullshit was all about and ended up reading a press release saying Burger King had a limited time burger for sale.

The burger was hyped as best as it could be, I suppose.  It was a double cheeseburger with more shit on it.  The part that caught my eye was “features two savory flame-grilled beef patties totaling more than ¼ lb.* of beef”  Wow, guys.  Two patties to make a quarter-pounder, huh?  I’m not going to say it’s more than a quarter pound, because otherwise they’d be bragging it was 1/3 pound.  Or maybe not, since stupid Americans don’t understand 1/3 is more than 1/4.

Anyway, that got me reminiscing about how I used to love double cheeseburgers at BK.  They were the absolute best value on the menu.  And then they shrunk the fuck out of them around the great recession, 2008 or so.  I wish I could prove it.

Maybe I can.  I went looking for nutritional information and ended up on a site that had these impressively accurate meter thingies about the BK double cheeseburger.

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Does the taste good?  Of course the does!

And from this page, I got a number, a serving size.  171 grams, which is .377 pounds and must include the bun.  So, how do I find out how good things were back in the day?  Well, I use my favorite tool for exposing embarrassing facts, the Wayback Machine.

Looking at the nutritional info for the double cheeseburger on BK’s site from 1999, I get another number, 198, which is .436 pounds.  So, you do the math and see how much it’s lost over the years.  Tip, calculate it as a percentage to make it sound more impressive.  The Fake News Media does it all the time. (Seriously, I don’t care which side you’re on or what you believe.  If you see an article on anything that only uses percentages, be skeptical.  They’re selling it to you.)

But that’s not the end of the data.  After I got the serving size from the old archived BK website, I felt like an idiot for not just going to the current BK site instead of this “Durr, click Delicious or Disgusting button, pleez” website.  And when I went to BK’s current site, I got yet another number. As of May 2018, the size of a double cheeseburger is 148 grams, or .326 pounds.

To summarize, in 1999, BK’s double cheeseburger was .436 pounds, and in 2018 it is .326 pounds.  That’s a reduction of .110 pounds, which is a 25% reduction from the 1999 size. Oh no! Percentages!  I’ve destroyed my credibility by at least 108%.

Things I Can Do Without

Whether my newest CD finds are 80’s pop (Phil Collins) or 80’s metal (Mercyful Fate), I am constantly irritated by shitty lyrics.  It could explain my preference for instrumental music.  The two previously mentioned examples have shitty lyrics for completely different reasons, but most of my gripes are with pop music.  Last night was Loverboy and I think I pulled a muscle rolling my eyes so much.

At the top of my hate list for shitty lyrics is rhyming girl with world.  I’m not a huge fan of near rhymes anyways, but this combo just really grates on me.  It’s not like there aren’t other options, even if they are somewhat weird.  “Curls” and “pearl” (both Rick Springfield) or “unfurl” (XTC) are somewhat daring choices to rhyme with “girl”, but whenever I hear “girl” in a song, I will sing along and try my damnedest to fit in the most superior rhyme: squirrel.  You should try it too.

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She was… an American squirrel.

This has to be a well-known substitution, but anyway… It’s shitty that so many songs want to talk about love, but the options for rhyming with love are terrible.  You know them all: shove, dove, above.  There you go.  Instead, just start changing the word love to drug or drugs (drug if using love as a verb, drugs if noun).  It is a universal replacement.

Another sore point for me is how songwriters completely do not get the concept of “forever”.  Forever is a long time, and even if the song says that line specifically, it’s still not accurate.  Forever is forever, long after everything in the universe has died.  And you want tonight to last that long?  You’re insane, buddy. You’re going to wait that long?  It’s impossible.

Along with forever is the reference to eyes.  Oooh, eyes are the window to the soul.  So expressive!  So vulnerable!  Yeah, well, notice how often songwriters will use 3 beats when talking about eyes: “in your eyes”, “in my eyes”, “sultry eyes”, back door eyes”, “(dun) (dun)… eyes”.  Here’s a game changer for you.  Next time in your car playing secret karaoke with the lame pop music blaring, substitute any of these three-beat phrases with “penis size” and see how often it fits.  Try it now.

It took so long to realize/I see you now through your lies/There’s got to be more to love than…

Expired Insurance

My computer is down.  Well, one of my computers is down – the main one, the desktop, the one I do all my serious stuff on (even blogging).  My house has been a hotbox for some time now and until the new AC unit gets installed, there’s not a whole lot I can do.

When I came home last night, I shook the mouse to wake things up.  I hit the keyboard.  I noticed everything was strangely quiet.  I pushed the power button on the tower.  Getting annoyed, I pushed the power on the UPS.  Nothing is starting up.  And it comes to me quickly, then.  The power supply is dead.  It’s not an uncommon occurrence and it’s one that most people don’t give much consideration.  But not me.  I’ve had times when my power supply dies and it becomes a scramble to get a new one to get back up and running quickly.

And the last time it happened, I said I wasn’t going to be scrambling anymore, so I bought a spare power supply and left it in its box in the closet.  If my computer ever decided to crap out again, ha.  I was going to bring it right back.

But that night, I just wasn’t in the mood.  I had settled down with a nice snack at my desk and was munching on the apple slices staring at my dead tower.  In my head, I ran through the hassle of changing the power unit.  Not only all the cords and cables plugged into the back of the tower, but all the wire runs and connections inside the tower, too.  I continued to eat apple slices and procrastinate as much as possible, because I just wanted to do stuff.  Not that stuff.

Finally, I got down on the floor and started yanking cables out the back.  Might as well get this over with.  I took the tower out to the kitchen where there’s good light and a big work surface.  Popped the case open and started unrouting all the power cables.  Inside the case was a collection of dust, which is expected and was all cleaned out.  Ready to go?  Let’s start the bullshit of putting in the replacement.

I went to the closet, fished out the spare power supply and noticed, huh, it’s a 430 watt unit.  The one I just took out is a 500 watt.  Part of me was concerned because I did have a lot of hard drives in the tower, along with other modern pieces that might use a lot of power.  But it should be fine.  It will probably be at its limit, though.

I open the box and pull the new power supply out and take it to the tower.  Then I see that this just isn’t going to work.  The power supply was too old for my tower.  When I bought the power supply, which was many years ago, the power standards were different.  I wouldn’t be able to power my hard drives with this power supply.

The replacement power supply had a bunch of:

256px-Molex_female_connector when I really needed a bunch of:sata-hard-drive-power-cable-connector

So I was stuck.  Off to Amazon to buy two new power supplies: one for now and one for later.  Am I dumb for possibly getting myself stuck in the same situation next time?  I don’t think so.  It’s just an insurance policy.  You may never use it, but you pay for it in the rare event you need it.  Some people carry spare tires in their car.  I don’t have anything in my car and luckily have never needed it.  The one time I had a flat, I filled the tire up and drove the car really slowly to the service center.  If the situation’s ever really bad, I’ll just call roadside assistance from my insurance company.

But anyway, this time, my insurance policy was expired.  I tried to cash in on the policy and it was invalid.  So I bought another policy.  It will be in tomorrow.

 

Revisiting Taxes

For a few years, I used to do a post on taxes, specifically regarding the “marriage penalty”.  It was a rant post because I was married at the time and we were getting dicked over by this penalty.  Things have gotten a lot better in that regard lately (as in me getting divorced), so I stopped making those posts back in 2013.

I saw a post by someone who was complaining that the new tax laws were changing his taxes for the worse.  By using an estimating calculator, he had to increase his withholding rate, but was getting more back per paycheck.  It sounds like a strange con game, give me more and I’ll give you more.  And simply because of that weirdness, I got wondering how the marriage penalty shakes out under the new tax law.  So I went looking.

Here’s the surprise, there is no marriage penalty anymore (for the common person).  If you are a married filer, your tax table breaks at 2X the single income – at every bracket.  Except… if you make over $300,000 each.  Like I commented, not the common couple.

It would make sense that any tax “improvement” would offer a gain for normal income people and a proportionally higher gain for extraordinary income people.  That’s a gripe for another post.  The point of this post is that the marriage penalty is gone.

Just for retrospective kicks, let’s look at what could have been if we did not have the tax “reform”.  Looking at the 2017 tax brackets, as in all other years, the disconnect happens in the upper tier of the 25% bracket.  If you are single, you would be bumped to the 28% bracket at $91,900.  If you have two married people making $76,550 each, that couple will be taxed at 28%.  That is the marriage penalty – you are bumped to a higher tax rate sooner from your combined wages.  Said another way for clarity, if you and your partner made $77k each and were not married, you each got taxed at 25%.  Then you get married and with no change to your salaries, now you’re paying 28% in taxes.  And that sucks even harder if you get married later in the year, because your employer has been withholding taxes expecting you to be in a 25% bracket.  You will have less withheld when you do your taxes and learn you’re now at 28%.

You might think this new tax table is awesome, especially if you were previously hit with the marriage penalty, but it’s not better or worse, just different.  The marriage penalty primarily affects DINKs (dual-income, no kids), especially young professionals, and in these modern times, married gay people.  The tax system up to now has favored and encouraged one married member being a breadwinner and the other being a homemaker.  This high income of the breadwinner has no extra income from the homemaker and is able to utilize the full deduction of both people against one income.

So, now that the incentive is gone to have two people living under one income, all the people who structured their marriage in this way, on purpose, or by accident, or by default, they are going to pay more in taxes.  That could be the case for this post I read.

The (Sea) Eagle Has Landed

It was many years ago, in 2012, that I started the hobby of kayaking.  I was fresh into a new relationship and had experienced kayaking for the first time.  It was pretty clear that tandem kayaking was probably not going to work out for us.  That meant I needed my own kayak in which to isolate my terrible paddling technique.

As luck would have it, Woot was selling inflatable kayaks at a pretty good price, so I bought some.  Two is some, right?  I did the research and these kayaks, by Sea Eagle, were pretty well respected.  Obviously they had their detractors – those who would never use anything but a solid kayak.  But, there are a lot of conveniences to be had with these inflatables.  The most important is that I could transport it in my MX-5.  Not only that, but I could transport both of them.

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Years have gone by, and I’ve been wanting an upgraded version of the Sea Eagle.  I find it very odd they have such a good entry level model at a reasonable price, $200, but if you want the real deal, the model that really earns its keep, the price is over $1000.  There’s nothing you can do in-between?  Damn.

So I watched and waited.  Actually, I let CamelCamelCamel do the watching.  When I created the watch, the Sea Eagle model I wanted was a little over $1000.  I set my target price at $850.  And I got nothing, for almost a year.  I had nearly completely forgotten about the watch when I got an email notification that the kayak was now being sold for $822, and that was the cheapest it had ever been.

Part of me wanted to sit back and think about it.  The other part of me went to Amazon and saw there were only two left in stock.  There’s a lot of expenses that have suddenly crept up on me lately, so I couldn’t justify buying two of these, so I just bought one.  The next day, I went back and the price on the remaining one had gone up slightly to $835, so I guess I did the right thing.  A few days later, that one remaining kayak was up to $913, so, yes, I think I did do the right thing.  However, that’s not the cheapest I’ve ever seen them.  Woot, of all places, once sold the Fast Track model in the $600 range.  Now that’s a great deal.

The package arrived a couple of days earlier than the the initial tracking estimated.  The box was compact and heavy, just as I remember my other kayaks arriving.

I inflated it to get an idea of how it compared to my original Sea Eagles.  There is no comparison.

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Where the SE330 hugs your sides, the 385FT gives you plenty of width.  The floor in the FastTrack is firm and has little give.  The material on the FastTrack is substantial and much less pliant.  I left it inflated overnight to let it sort of stretch out.  And of course identify any potential leaks.  It was fine for days (because I’m lazy).

I have yet to take the craft out, but I am eager to try it out this year.

Getting By Giving Back

A while ago, I was reading a forum thread about why record stores keep closing.  The majority of commenters posited that it was either Amazon killing them off or that physical media was dead and gone.  But among the “hear hear” for the majority, there were a few anecdotal stories of local stores that were doing well and those voices were defiant.  They made the point that a well-run record shop is a prize to the community, nearly on par with a library, as they both serve the artistic needs of a town.

I am lucky to have a very robust music store in my general area, with two locations that constantly have new stock to browse through.  My downtown used to have a used CD store, which closed, then another opened, with a half-hearted selection, then closed.  Recently, another music store has opened, which I have visited occasionally and each time, I do find something to buy when there.  That’s a pretty good sign.  Their CD selection was relatively slim, but always had interesting items.

So after reading a lot of these posts about how your local store is to be treasured and valued, because honestly, they do have it rough, I decided to stop by my local shop after work to browse around and maybe throw some money.  When I got there, I saw they had greatly expanded their CD section, which was good for me.  I ended up picking out a few albums.  As I was browsing the CDs, I was reminded of one of the sub-topics discussed in the forum.  If a store’s inventory becomes stagnant, the store is not going to make it.  They must have fresh new inventory to attract return customers, and there needs to be enough diversity of existing inventory to capture new customers.  It’s a difficult balance to keep.

While considering that, it dawned on me that I could help this store in more ways than just buying from them, I could sell to them and increase the quality of their inventory (I’m actually a modest person).  On one of my other blogs, I do comparisons of different CD masterings, which necessitates duplication.  I have a few duplicates in my library from that side project.  As I paid for my new CDs, I asked the owner where she sourced her CDs from.  She replied that it was just people selling their collections.  So I told her I would bring in my dupes for her to evaluate.

Today, I took them in.  Probably about 80 CDs in a large canvas grocery bag.  She pulled out the first handful and flipped through them.  I said, take what you want, skip what you don’t, I won’t be offended.  After the first handful, she said, this is a very good start.  So I left her to see the rest and browsed the CD racks.

Shortly, she calls to me, “I’ll take all of it for $80.”  I said, there’s nothing in there you don’t want?  I’m thinking, you really want 3 copies of Van Halen, two copies of Heartbeat City and that other unknown stuff?  She said there was some stuff she didn’t recognize, but that was fine.  The price was more or less a dollar a disc, which is actually much more than I expected.  I would expect a buck for the well-known stuff and maybe 50 cents for the unknown or hard-to-sell stuff.  So we had a deal.  I walked out with $80 (Well, I bought a $3 CD anyway) and an empty bag.  I said I hope they move quickly for you and she said it wouldn’t be a problem, there was a lot of great music there.  Intentional or not, it made me feel good about my collection.

And I do hope they sell.  The prices at that shop are usually $3-5 for a used CD – a fair price, so she has the opportunity to make a few hundred in profit if she can sell them.  And I couldn’t have made a dollar a disc on EBay with all the effort of photographing, posting, mailing and the materials and postage.  It should be a win-win for everyone, and I supported a local business in the process.

It was a good day.

The Long Lost Tail Of Rump

It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve become petless.  Last night I had a browse on the website of my local SPCA, which was sad – reading the stories of how these cats came to the shelter.  Then I followed that up with a browse of my county animal control website, which was sadder in that the pets didn’t really have backstories, just how old the cat was and how long they’d been at the facility.  I concluded with browsing the “lost pets”, which left me rather broken, because these cats had no story at all and only a single portrait taken in their arrival carrier, looking despondent and/or scared to death.

Part of the reason the “lost pets” section affected me so much was that I have a personal experience with it, which reminded me that I have yet to write my tribute to my lost companion.  So without further delay, here is her story.

On Halloween of 2005, I went outside on my way to the neighbor’s house for a small holiday get-together.  Just outside, in the driveway, was a cat.  My neighborhood has many stray cats running around, so it wasn’t anything too unusual.  I squatted down and called to the visitor and to my surprise, she came running right over and pressed against me.  None of the other cats have ever been interested in attention before, so I found this strange.  She let me pick her up, so I did and carried her across the street to show my (now ex-)wife.  A dog that was at the party scared the cat out of my arms and I just shrugged the whole incident off.

DSC02069DSC02068The next day, my ex tells me the cat is now hanging around at the house.  I wasn’t interested in another cat, we got one for free when we bought the house.  But unfortunately, the ex had fed the new cat already, so I suppose she’s ours now.

We made plans to get her all caught up on her shots before we brought her into the house with the other cat.  I made the vet appointment for later in the week.  However, the next day, the new cat stopped coming around.  The food went untouched for a couple of days and my ex started getting worried.  I was less worried, thinking the cat had just gone back to her original family, or someone else adopted her and took her inside without the same level of preparations we were making.

The ex couldn’t be talked out of this, so she started going out and looking for the cat and talking to people she met, asking if they’d seen a cat around that had no tail.  A couple more days of this and someone tipped her off that a house at the end of the street traps the neighborhood strays and turns them in to animal control.  The ex calls animal control and asks about the tailless cat.  Unsurprisingly, they are of no help on the phone and say we have to come to them to find out if the cat is there.  So that becomes the priority for the next day.

DSC02115We arrive at the animal control shelter and they take us to the incoming cages.  In these long cages are numbers of cats.  We see the first cage, not there.  The next cage, not there, just some kittens climbing the chain link.  The next cage, not there.  We get to the last cage (the one I assume is the last stop before the back room) and call her hastily-chosen name, “Rump”, and one cat, in the back of the cage, gets up and quickly trots to the front, shying away from her hissing companions.

To say we were happy is quite an understatement.  To look back and consider the situation, it was really miraculous – that we got there just in time to prevent Rump from being euthanized, that Rump recognized us immediately after only spending a couple of days with us, and that Rump knew we were there to get her.

WP_20160416_001We were then shown into an office where an officer discussed the case with us.  The officer asked if Rump was our cat.  We said, no, she’s a stray, but we have a vet appointment for her.  The officer told us that we can’t adopt her because she’s feral.  This perplexed us.  How did they make that determination?  Apparently, Rump was not very pleasant with the impounding officer.  Her intake photo (the one that ends up on “lost pets”) showed her screaming at the camera through a cage.  The ex indignantly told the officer that’s how any cat would feel if she was being manhandled by a stranger.  I tried to be a bit more diplomatic and asked if there was any other way we could adopt her.  There was no adoption route for Rump, but we could claim her as our pet and we would have to pay fines and fees for the impoundment.  We would have to provide proof of vaccinations and neutering.  Additionally, I would have to attend a “responsible pet owner” education class.  I agreed to all of it.

DSC02089I signed a lot of paperwork and paid a fair amount of money to release Rump from prison, then it was off to the vet.  As it turns out, the vet appointment I had made earlier was that actual day.

I found out Rump was already spayed and she got her shots, which kind of doped her up for the rest of the day.  But she was now allowed inside and was given a soft bed to sleep in, closed in on the lanai.  This was her space for a while until the vaccinations settled in and also until she got used to seeing our other cat.

WP_000077The existing cat, Bubbles, was never very fond of Rump, and the feeling was mutual.  Rump would stalk Bubbles throughout the house and worst of all, when she was in the litter box.  This went on for a very long time, despite the few times where they would actually tolerate each other enough to be on the bed at the same time.

Rump’s experience with being a stray, combined with sharing the house with another cat caused her to do a lot of stress eating.  If there was food, she was going to eat it.  Bubbles used to be fine with leaving dry food down all day, but with Rump in the house too, Rump would eat it all.  I assume Rump was constantly in fear that there wouldn’t be another meal or that Bubbles would eat it all, leaving nothing for her.  It was impossible to convince her otherwise.  As you would expect, Rump became very plump.

Time went on, and my ex moved out and moved on with her life, and Bubbles eventually became old and had to be put to sleep, leaving Rump as the sole queen of the house.  Without Bubbles, her diet became normal again and she went down to a less obese weight, but remained flappy.

DSC02080Rump was always a dog-like cat, as most Manx cats are reported to be.  One of her most distinct behaviors was leaning her haunch against your leg, like a dog.  She was a rough-and-tumble cat, playing rough was enjoyable for her.  She could get mad at you, but would make up with you the very next second.

Rump loved everyone she ever met.  She was very kind, friendly, and outgoing.  She enjoyed being the center of attention; the more people that were around, the more she would show off – racing in and out of the room or leaping between countertops to get attention.

Rump was a loving companion for 13 years and had a personality that showed two cat-skeptics that cats can be affectionate and trusting instead of aloof and brooding.  All in all, a good life for everyone involved.

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I dig a well / I dig it deep / And for my only love / I plant a cedar tree / The best / The best we ever had
Cedar Tree – Indigo Girls