Anachostic

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Category Archives: About Me

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.

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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.

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.

 

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

All Things Must Pass

It was a little over a year ago that I knew my phone was obsolete.  I was one of the few, brave Windows Phone users remaining and Microsoft had announced that there was a Samsung Android phone being sold as a “Microsoft Edition”.  That simply meant the phone was preloaded with all the MS Android apps and you could get assistance on using it at a Microsoft store.  Whee.

And this change was a surprise, but not really so, since there was a Microsoft division that was doing nothing but writing nice software for Android and iOS and not writing anything for Windows Phone.  The up-and-coming mobile powerhouse apps hadn’t been developing for Windows Phone for a very long time.  But none of that was a concern for me, since all I needed was a way to call, text, read email, and browse the web when I was bored.  And play Solitaire. A Windows Phone did all that just fine.  Until it didn’t.  And that became infuriating, because I don’t ask much from my phone.

Early in my WP days, I used to visit Yahoo’s news site, but then Yahoo changed something and the pages started locking up, where I couldn’t scroll anymore.  So, I switched to MSN and happily used their news site for many years.  Recently, though, an odd bug started happening.  After a minute or so on a page, the page would reload, sending me back to the top of the article.  And it would happen again a minute or so later.  And again.  Then the browser would literally give up.  It would display this message:

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Now, there’s a message to piss off your users.  “We’re having trouble so we’re not going to try anymore.”  And when you clicked Back, you didn’t return to the previous page, your history was wiped out and you went back to the Start page.  Keep in mind, this is a Microsoft device, using a Microsoft web browser on a Microsoft website.  And it doesn’t work.  I’ve determined the root cause of the bug is the advertisements injected into the page by script, but without any ad-blocker or other customizations, a fix is out of my control.

Another recent shutdown Microsoft did was of Zune>XBox Music>Groove Music.  I don’t use streaming services, so I didn’t think it was a big deal.  But I also didn’t think it was going to affect Cortana’s music search feature (which is like Shazam).  I searched for a song recently and I got:

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Good job finding that song.

So that’s it.  I made up my mind I’m going to do what Microsoft wants me to do, switch to Android.  Now, where before I had a few available models of Windows Phone, I now have a choice of probably thousands of phones.  Which one should I get?  As a creature of habit, I chose a new model from an old company.  The Nokia 6.1.

Soon, I’m going to be able to be up-to-date on all the apps.  I can start collecting rewards from stores and restaurants.  I can start tracking this and that through apps.  I can use any fitness tracker I want.  I can play games – all the games.  I won’t have to get all pissed off and feel left out when I see:

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And hopefully, I can browse a goddamn web site without the pages reloading until the browser just shits the bed.

I ordered the phone on Amazon for all of $287, which I think is pretty cheap.  What do current phones go for now?  A good place to buy Android phones is the Microsoft Store.  Let’s see.  5 models for sale:  1 Windows Phone (out of stock), 3 Android Samsungs, and 1 Android Razor.  They are priced from $699 to $929.  Nope, I will not be getting any of those.  I don’t need a $1000 Solitaire game device.

It Must Be Said

Grief is a strange phenomena.  It’s more than strange, it’s insidious.  It lies in wait and pounces when you least expect it.  And sometimes it refuses to come out no matter how much you demand it to.

The grieving process is exceptionally singular.  No one can do it for you.  No one can tell you how to do it properly.  There’s no training for it, it’s simply a core emotion.  It would be hard to say grief is instinctual, since it’s closer to an expression of our individual personality.

So indulge me for a short while as I try to work through some of this difficulty and achieve some closure.  As much as I would love to write the tribute first and deal with the messy circumstances afterwards, where they could be reviewed sans emotion, I feel that ignoring the details of the experience might be akin to letting a wound remain sealed up to fester, instead of opening it up and airing it out to heal.

The grief I am processing is the loss of my cat of 13 years, Rump.  Her actual age is unknown, but she was an aged cat and had been showing signs of slowing down.  But with each of my three cats I’ve had in my life, the end is always brought about by a sudden physical disability that requires euthanasia.

Rump’s first sign of trouble was a few weeks ago when I noticed she was becoming very picky about what wet food she wanted to eat.  Around the same time, I noticed she wasn’t eating as much, or any, of her dry food.  She lost weight rapidly and her sides became sunken in.  She also became less social.  These symptoms also happened with my first cat, Mess, and although I’d never had it diagnosed, I assumed it was kidney trouble.

Very soon afterwards, Rump could not stand up on her hind legs and her right rear leg seemed weak.  Thinking the end was near, I started the golden treatment.  She was fed tuna fish twice a day, which she enjoyed immensely.  The fresh intake of food started filling her out and her leg strength came back.  This inspired hope, so I scheduled a vet appointment to see if her current condition was treatable.

The vet said that the hind leg issue was simply arthritis and the lack of eating was due to pain from an abcessed tooth.  They would need to extract the tooth, which was a fairly routine procedure and cats typically bounce right back after 12 hours.  So the surgery was scheduled and performed.  Along with the tooth extraction, Rump was caught up on all her shots.

When I picked Rump up from the vet, I was told she shouldn’t eat or drink for a few more hours, and that she was probably still a little dopey from the pain meds and anesthetic.  I followed their directions for that night.  Later that night, she got a little food, which she devoured.  I was a little concerned about the unsteadiness she was exhibiting.  She walked very unbalanced and was very distant.

Before bed, I checked up on Rump again, since she wasn’t coming to me, still being anti-social.  I was told the meds should wear off by 11 or so and it was around that time.  But when I comforted her and gave her attention, she just had a distant gaze.  One moment she turned sharply and stared down the hall, like she saw something.  Then she walked away from me and sat in front of the sliding glass door, staring at her reflection.  It was the most foreboding behavior I’d ever seen from her.  It was when I started to worry.

Rump did not come to visit me that night in bed.  When I woke up, she was sitting in the bedroom doorway, guarding the room.  Before leaving for work, I gave her a full portion of wet food, which she cleaned up in a hurry.  Her gait was still unstable, her back legs were weak.  I was happy to see her eat enthusiastically, but was concerned about her legs.

When I came home from work, Rump did not meet me at the door.  I called for her and she didn’t come.  Remembering how Mess began hiding when his legs started giving out, I started searching the house, dreading what I would find.  I found that Rump had been in the bean bag, because there was a puddle of urine in it.  Incontinence is a death knell, so my worry started settling into emotional preparation for what was to come.  I looked under the bed, I looked in the closet, then I noticed that Rump was curled in her bed in the bedroom, right behind me.  She didn’t make any sound of acknowledgement.

She had also urinated in that bed and had no interest in climbing out for me.  I picked her up, which brought out a pained meow and stood her up on the floor.  Her front right leg was paralyzed and her back legs were extremely weak.  Rump immediately went back into her bed and curled up.  So, this is it.

I called the vet, who told me to call a 24-hr vet hospital since their doctor had already left for the day.  I called the vet hospital and briefly explained that I needed put my cat down.  They set me up with an appointment in an hour.  It would take me about that long to drive there, too.

Rump was loaded up in the cat carrier because she proved mobile enough to jump – jump – out of her bed as I was carrying her in her bed to the car.  A stubborn bitch to the end.  The drive was long and somber.  Rump was quiet the whole way and rubbed against my fingers that were poked through the cage door.  At one stop light, I thought I could open the cage door and get my whole hand in there to pet her.  Nope, as soon as the door opened, Rump started pushing her way out.  Stubborn!

In the exam room at the hospital, I opened the carrier.  Rump charged out and I explained to the assistant that Rump just had surgery yesterday.  The assistant said, “And this is the result?”  It’s something I will probably never forget because of its (probably unintended) insensitivity.  I never intended to blame anyone for this.  Rump is an old cat and there are certainly risks with surgery, plus getting a heavy load of booster shots.  You can only hope for the best.

Rump and I waited for the vet to come in seated on the bench seat.  At times she was docile, other times, she wanted to roam.  I kept her by my side and tried to keep her calm.  The vet came in, checked Rump out and confirmed what we were going to do.  Then he took Rump back for weighing and installing an IV catheter to administer the drugs.

She was brought back to the room and I continued holding her on the seat.  The vet came back with a wee pad and a large pink towel that I could wrap Rump in.  He explained that they would be taking care of the billing soon, which is something I felt down about.  The last couple of times I’ve put my cats down, they perform the procedure, give you your time, then you leave and you get a bill in the mail, after a respectable period.  This paying in advance stuff was slightly hurtful for me.

At this time, Rump was alternating between sitting at my side against me and lying on her side on the bench.  I leaned down and listened to her chest.  No purring and a quick, light heartbeat.  She didn’t exactly seem “with it”, just dazed and staring.  On some level she was probably happy for me to be there, but I don’t think she was able to be interactive.  Rump then decided she wanted to be on the table, so I hoisted her up to the table onto the towel and she laid down right away.  I wrapped her up in the towel, to which she did not protest.  It’s not something she would ever have allowed before.

Once on the table and wrapped up in the towel, Rump fairly surrendered.  She stayed motionless and occasionally, I would check her heartbeat.  It seemed to be fading quickly.  I thought if the doctor doesn’t hurry up and get in here, Rump is going to go all on her own.  Then it struck me.  Maybe I had misheard everything.  Maybe this was the euthanization and Rump was going to fade off to sleep slowly.  That’s radically different than anything I’d been a part of before.  I stepped out of the room and asked if that’s what was going on.  A vet tech came back and clarified that no drugs had been administered yet.

When I went back into the room, Rump had her head raised, but put it right back down when I came back to her side.  She stayed still as the doctor eventually came in to clarify once more the procedure and the choices I had made.  And we went forward with it, what’s more to say?

The procedure itself was quite peaceful, since Rump was already so close to the end.  There was no struggle, gasp, or sigh.  And of course the immediate mourning came on, but it was relatively brief.  I headed home with an empty carrier and waves of tears.

Which brings me back to the grieving process.  In this case, I never really have had a total breakdown.  I will get a wave of sorrow, which brings on the sobbing, but then I straighten back up again and continue on.  Relating to current events, it’s more like the Kilauea volcano and less like the St. Helens volcano.  And until the pressure subsides, there will be unexpected lava flows.

Something I’ve been trying to keep in mind is a concept explained in Theosophy.  The phrase I use for the concept is slightly crass, but is meant to reduce the seriousness of death: “back to the bucket.”  To impossibly simplify the lessons of Theosophy, there are two things to consider.  First, humans have a soul that evolves over many lifetimes through reincarnation.  Souls are unique personalities, shown that every human on earth is unique.  Second, animals are still evolving into unique personalities and until they reach that point, have a “shared soul”.  The analogy is that animals are born and a portion of a single soul is instilled in them from a “bucket”.  The animal lives its life and when it dies, all that it has learned and experienced is returned to the bucket for all future incarnations to learn from.

So, when you comment that your pet “has personality” and you notice how your pet forms relationships with humans and seems to genuinely care for humans, you are witnessing the evolution of an animal soul.  If you have participated in that growth, by showing care and compassion and demonstrating trust and forging that relationship, you are contributing positive experiences to your pet’s next incarnation, when they go “back to the bucket.”

Considering that Rump found and chose me 13 years ago, which was about a year and a half after losing Mess, it’s not unfathomable that she chose me based on experiences from the same bucket as Mess.  It’s also not unfathomable that I will see her again in her next life.

Light Music, Heavy Music, Light Words, Heavy Words

With 1,200 CDs in my collection, it’s probably an understatement to say I have a broad taste in music.  Yes, I do have concentrations of genres and time periods, but I can wander pretty far away from center.  And because of that, I feel sorry for people who are stuck on the same band or the same type of music, or who only know things that are on the radio.

Some music is challenging to me, that which I call avant-garde.  The Residents fall into this group, because I typically hear their music as a bunch of noise, or as music constructed so simplistically I can’t take it seriously.  And because of that difficultly to connect with the music, I consider that music to be heavy – even if they’re playing three notes over and over on a toy piano.  I say it’s heavy because it takes effort to listen to it. 

I also have a liking for death metal.  but not all death metal.  Death is one of my favorites because I find the whole thing hilarious.  Like there’s no way you can take the idea of someone vomiting up their own internal organs seriously.  It’s the audio equivalent of watching a horror movie.  But then there’s Sepultura, which is a Brazilian death metal band.  English isn’t their primary language, but they try.  And when I hear the broken English about the topics they write about, I just get the feeling they mean it a little more, because after all, they did try and translate it.  And that bugs me.

But then on the other end of the scale, I do like Indigo Girls.  But Indigo Girls, to me, is heavy, too.  I suppose you’re probably thinking: your evaluation of music is so fucked up.  But hear me out.  Indigo Girls isn’t heavy music, it’s heavy lyrics.  And I don’t mean heavy as in they make you go, “Whoa, man, that’s deep.” (Yes will do that well enough, thank you.)  I mean that their lyrics are SO weighted with metaphor it becomes unbearable to listen to for a long time.  I mean, I can handle a few metaphors in a song, but when you have to squeeze one in every verse, or god forbid, every stanza, well, it’s gonna wear me down.

Indigo Girls is nothing like Sammy Hagar, who I don’t think would ever get kudos for being a deep lyricist.  That’s not entirely fair, because there’s some of Hagar’s stuff that actually has some potential emotion in it.  But I consider his lyrics to be light and breezy.  Don’t think about them too much and just go with the vibe – usually partying and sex.  It doesn’t take a large vocabulary to express that stuff.

I was once talking with a woman about music and she told me that words were everything to her.  Well, that was kind of a problem because I really like instrumental music.  She was really, really into 38 Special, which isn’t bad, but it’s pretty light on both music and lyrics.  And there’s definitely a place for it.  I like 38 Special when driving because I don’t have to think much about it.

But my point was going to be that words themselves aren’t “everything” to me.  A lot of times, I can listen to a song for years and never know the lyrics.  I’ll know the important ones, but I may miss out on whole concepts in the verses.  I recall one time, I looked up the lyrics for a song I loved and the story wasn’t anything like I thought it was.  It ruined the song for me.

Because of my non-reliance on the lyrics, I shouldn’t really have a problem with foreign music, and in many cases I don’t.  I have some German punk rock and you can probably guess, you don’t need to know what they’re saying.  It’s just aggression from start to end.  And that works for the song.

I suspect for some people, the thresholds of light and heavy, whether musically or lyrically are much lower, so their breadth of music consumption is more limited.  On rare occasions, I daydream about being a teacher in school teaching Music Appreciation.  My experience in high school for Music Appreciation class was kind of a joke.  It was people bringing in tapes of songs they like, we all listen to it, then the teacher makes some commentary on it.  One time, we were listening to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer”.  We all knew the song well enough since it was playing everywhere at the time, and just when the chorus changed key, the teacher jumped up and stopped the tape.  “You hear that!  That’s a key modulation and it’s used to generate more excitement in the song.”  Yeah thanks, you just killed the excitement we all just got from the key modulation.  Me, being one of the few musicians in the class, did the outrageous.  I brought in Rush’s La Villa Strangiato and drew out all the themes on the blackboard and pointed out how the themes entered and reprised throughout the nine minute song.

My approach to music appreciation would literally be a class on how to listen to music.  Start with rhythm – learn how to count a beat, learn odd time signatures. Learn how songs are structured, so you can say things like, intro, verse, chorus, bridge, and coda with confidence.  Learn about instrumentation, so you understand the application of sparse arrangement and dense arrangement.  Probably some other stuff as well (like minor/major keys), but after the foundations are laid, then start with genres, and break the songs down based on past lessons.  That’s how music appreciation should be, teaching you how to appreciate a wide variety of music.

So, Are YOU A Collector? Clearly Not.

As I posted recently, I went on a CD safari and ended returning with 20 CDs.  15 of those were purchased from two flea market vendors, both of whom said they were collectors. 

In the first booth I went to, I felt I was in a hurry for time, so I scanned the discs very quickly, looking for smooth cases.  However, I saw one CD that I had scored on my last flea market trip that was a valuable find.  The CD wasn’t in a a smooth case (actually a shitty, flimsy case), so I was curious what a normal edition of that album looked like.  When I opened the case, I was surprised.  Similar to my previous reaction to finding gold, I said, “Oh, it’s a red-faced Polydor.  Nice.” 

Only a real geek would say “a red-faced Polydor”, right?  That’s a statement that would come out of the mouth of an orthinologist.  Like, you should log that in a bird-watching book along with the time and location.  But, I didn’t log it, I bought it.  WHY?  I already had one and it was a valuable one at that!  Sometimes, you can’t explain these things to collectors.  Different is good.

When I got home and cleaned the CDs all up, I researched what I had purchased.  Now you may recall the post about my $300 find for $3.  Well, this time, I paid $5, and wouldn’t you know it?  Someone has paid over $500 for this CD.

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I now have both of these CDs.  What’s the difference?  100% appearance.  These are the two CDs.  They have the same music.

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And when I say they have the same music, I checked.  They DO.  I posted this on Relative Waves.  It’s the same.

That’s two waveforms overlaid on each other.  There’s no green or white peeking out anywhere.  That means no differences. SAME SAME SAME.

Anyway.  So now I have a new most valuable CD.  Again, by a large margin.  In fact, my collection value went up by over $1000 from this last trip.  After all, I did find a bunch of other rarities.