Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm Fairly Certain ...

... that this is how Scooter and his family handle their rental properties.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Truly Sad

Emma isn't impressed by the Marx Brothers. And I was so sure she was my daughter.

Perhaps starting her with "A Night at the Opera" was a mistake. Too MGM-ish. I might get one more chance at this; do I go with "Animal Crackers" or "Duck Soup"?


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

White Christmas

We had one. A solidly white Christmas, like I can't remember having had since we moved here. Some years there has been snow on the ground, but old, dirty, salty, dog-pee-stained snow. But this year was a storybook Christmas -- it looked almost like a fake stage production, with big fat flakes falling straight down outside the family room window as Emma and I sat at the table, beating up on Kristi at the "Sorry!" board. (Kristi is far too nice a person to succeed at "Sorry!")

We spent the day opening presents, playing with presents, reading presents, watching presents on TV, cooking and eating (not the presents, doofus), and generally having a fine time.

Between my birthday and the holidays, I always make out like a bandit compared to Kristi, which never seems fair. Even so, let the gloating begin! Though I'm sure I'll forget something, here's the list: several CDs, including Springsteen's latest; pretty much every Marx Brothers movie ever made, in two box sets; the latest "Harry Potter" movie (more a family gift, really); "To Kill a Mockingbird" on DVD, which we watched Christmas Eve; "Heroes" season one and "Rockford Files" season one on DVD; several computer books, because yes, I am a nerd; a laptop stand and cheap keyboard, so that my laptop can impersonate a desktop computer (I highly recommend this, as the ergonomic difference is enormous); a Caribou Coffee gift card; a Dilbert desk calendar; lots and lots of Red Vines; and a Sansa Clip 2-gig MP3 player, which is making Emma (who bought herself an iPod Shuffle earlier this year) drool uncontrollably.

Shoveling is much more pleasant with an MP3 player; even though I wasn't feeling great, I was laughing my way through Weird Al's version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" when I realized I'd done the next-door neighbors' sidewalk as well. (Which is good, since they're on vacation.)

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Sunday, December 16, 2007


He thinks he's funny. And you know, he kind of is; the photoshopping is pathetic, but he's improving; it used to be gawdawful. In the meantime, his post inspired me to force Kristi to watch a couple of Buffy episodes last night, which means she can blame him for it, which means that the chocolate chip cookies she promised to make him might come out a bit ... funny.

Just so you know whose fault it is, Scooter.

I'm in fact going to Sunnyvale, not Sunnydale, Monday afternoon and returning Wednesday evening. I'll be too busy with work (and too transportation-impaired) to visit with Ali, I expect, but here's her notice anyway.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Isabella Katarina Tillerini

Let me tell you a story. I blogged a bit about my cat Rambis in her last days in October of 2005, and after she died. I don't know if I ever discussed her sleeping habits. Unlike any cat I've ever had, she would curl up next to my chest as I slept. I was her person, and she was my cat, and there was never any doubt of either.

By contrast, Isabella Katarina Tillerini is (and has always been) Kristi's cat. At night, Izzy has always slept on Kristi's pillow (or one of them; Kristi took to using two to allow a little extra room for Izzy). When I say "always", I mean "always". Every night. Even when Kristi and I separated for a few months in 2000, Izzy slept on that pillow -- never on mine.

Then, Rambis died. For several weeks, nothing changed. Then one night I came to bed to find Izzy curled up on my pillow. The next night, same thing. Most nights for a period of a couple of months, she stayed with me. Then she switched back to Kristi's pillow, and has (mostly) stayed there since.

I suppose you could explain this by saying that, with Rambis gone, Izzy was just trying out a new spot (even though that spot was available all along, even when Ram was alive). I'm sure you could come up with two or three other plausible explanations for why she would do what she did. But I know why she did it. She was comforting me. Because that's the kind of creature she is.

It's our turn to comfort Izzy now, as best we can. She's 16, suffering from arthritis and kidney failure. We give her Lactated Ringer's subcutaneously, almost every night, just to keep her hydrated. She has her own room (the computer room, where I'm sitting now -- the room where Rambis spent her last days). We've built makeshift steps for her to climb up and down to her favorite window spot, and put a heating pad there for her aching hips. She's got her own litterbox in here that Smudge can't get to, set on an oil drip pan so that if she misses the box (as she does too often, her hips not allowing her to crouch low), no damage is done. But for all that, she still sleeps at night on Kristi's pillow. And, very occasionally, on mine.


I've been reading a book called "Dominion," by Matthew Scully. It's a powerful indictment of how humans abuse animals. The chapter I've just finished is an attack on the scientific rationalizations that are often used to support the abuse. There are, apparently, plenty of scientists who will happily claim that animals don't feel "real" pain, that they aren't capable of true rational thought. Reading their words made me want to try out on them some of the things they say don't cause animals to suffer. You know, just to see if scientists feel "real" pain.

"Dominion" can be a little bit off-putting (for me) when it focuses on religion; I am not a religious person, and I don't see where religion has, historically, often proven to be a great starting point for ethical conduct. But I give Scully credit for not shying away from the hypocrisy of those who claim to be godly while behaving abominably toward animals. In fact, I give Scully credit generally for being his own man; he's a bizarre combination of committed vegetarian, sincere opponent of animal abuse, and card-carrying conservative Republican. How can one hold the beliefs he does and still work for the likes of Bush and Cheney, as he did? I don't know. It's a mystery. But I like his book, and I suspect I'd like him, even if we'd never agree on either religion or politics.