Monday, January 30, 2006

A round-up of sorts ...

The cat thing: Battlecat seems to have learned a little from the "start yowling, get locked in the spare room all night" routine, or else I'm just sleeping more heavily.

Thanks to Xta for giving me her old roll-out trash cart. It's a tad holey, but it should work well enough. I borrowed my neighbor's pickup truck and picked it up yesterday, then kept an eye out all day for my trash cart-less neighbor's car to be gone from the driveway so I could roll the cart over to her house. Yeah, it's a bit passive-aggressive, but in a constructive way--I mean, I'm giving her a trash cart. I don't think she actually wants it, however, because I think I understand why she never bothered to replace hers: it's much easier for her not to have one. When you have a trash cart, every Wednesday night or early Thursday morning you have to wheel the thing out to the curb. Then, after pick-up, you have to wheel it back to the house--by law we are not allowed to leave the carts by the curb all week (although we've left ours out repeatedly and nothing has ever happened to us). I think Ms. Neighbor Lady has just decided to let us do the garbage-day work for her because it's far less hassle. Instead of remembering garbage day every week and having to roll the cart in and out in all kinds of weather, she can simply stroll across the street when she feels like it and drop her trash in our cart--we do the rolling for her. So anyway, tonight after dark, even if her car is in the driveway, she's getting a trash cart delivered to her front sidewalk.

In other news, Mr. Pants has cast upon me a serious Battlestar Galactica addiction. He's been watching the first two seasons on DVD, and I was mostly ignoring them, preferring to read, play on Flickr or play FreeCell (another addiction). But one evening I sat in for an episode, and I realized how much the new series kicks ass. (When I was a kid my sister was addicted to the original; I watched it but I never really got into it.) So when we got to the end of what's been released on DVD so far (only part of season 2, because they are still airing the second half on the Sci-Fi channel), we went back to the beginning so I could catch up and because he wanted to watch them over again. Now we're most of the way through season 1, and Mr. Pants has gone out of town. Do I have to wait until he comes back to continue watching, or can I go ahead and plow through season 1 without him? I can always watch them again when he gets back (which won't be until Friday). I'm afraid I'm going to be seriously jonesing if I don't get my BG fix ...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My last cat

Warning: long frustrated ramble born of sleep deprivation follows. Probably not even remotely interesting or grammatically correct.

I grew up with dogs, but once I went out on my own into the world of rental housing and frequent moves, I became a cat lover. Home ownership broght back dogs, but I figured I could have both. Now I've decided I'm on my last cat. Battlecat, the old cat who logically should have been the one to come down with kidney failure instead of young, sweet, mild-mannered Kitty/Dr. Bombay, will not shut up. And when I say she will not shut up I mean that any moment that should otherwise be quiet, such as typical human sleeping hours, is filled with a non-stop "mmmmrrrrooooow." Occasionally it will stop long enough for one to think "praise allah, the fucking cat has has shut up," but it always starts back up again.

Although she has always been an annoyingly vocal cat, the non-stop noise started last fall after Kitty was gone. Battlecat never seemed to like Kitty--the only interaction they appeared to have consisted of her swatting him and running away if he got too close or tried to engage her. He always tried to be sweet to her--he would have liked to play but he settled for just being near her, which was usually no closer than about four feet because that's all Battlecat would allow. To be fair, poor Battlecat has been picked on before. Thelma Lou, one of my previous cats (and the coolest cat ever to walk the Earth) used to ambush her, sometimes waiting still and silent behind a door for a half-hour or more just because she knew sooner or later Battlecat would walk by (fortunately it was all posturing--Thelma Lou never actually hurt Battlecat). I started calling poor Battlecat "Battered cat."

So anyway, now poor Battlecat is very alone--unlike Kitty she cannot be in the same room as Mr. Gomez. Kitty would just sit still around the dogs, which didn't stimulate their prey drive ("see something move away fro you: chase it!"), but Battlecat just bolts. Lucy, being a refined and thoughtful little dog, is able to make the distinction between Battlecat and ordinary critter, and the two can hang out on the bed together peacefully. But Mr. Gomez is a bundle of impulses and has become hard-wired to give chase at the mere sight of poor Battlecat. So she doesn't get to hang out with us much, her territory being our bedroom and the spare room that serves as my office of sorts.

I try to give her a few moments of attention here and there, but she has a few habits that make it difficult and frustrating. For example, say she's at the edge of her little territory, and I decide to bend down a scritch her behind the ears. Does she stand there and let me? No, she runs toward the bedroom because what she really wants is for me to follow her, sit on the bed and pet her. That's fucking annoying. So let's say I go sit on the bed to pet her. I have to be very careful, because she's one of those cats who gets easily overstimulated and reacts by batting at one's hand (claws extended) or trying to bite. That's fucking annoying. Oh yeah, speaking of claws, unlike my other cats, she does not allow one to pick her up and snip the ends of her claws with fingernail clippers. No, with Battlecat, claw clipping is a horrible, screaming ordeal, which makes us neglect it. So her claws grow long, she gets them caught on blankets and afghans and then when one tries to free her she goes ballistic and tries to bite/scratch. That's fucking annoying.

I'm often tempted to open the front door and toss her outside ... did I mention she's been an indoor cat since tiny kittenhood? She's freaked out by her own shadow, and putting her out would be a very mean thing to do (not to mention that I am a proponent of indoor cathood). I don't know what to do. To mitigate her night wailing we have started shutting her in my "office," where her food and litter box are, and then keeping the door to our room closed so we can sleep through the racket. But this sucks because even with the heat turned way down our bedroom gets really warm with the door closed--I guess the heat of two humans and two dogs (body temp: 102 degrees F) can build up. So I swelter and can't sleep. Open the door to vent a bit ... can't sleep because of the "Mrrrrooooww, mrrroooowww." This morning I got out of bed at 5 am because it seemed pointless try and get that last hour of sleep.

I decided to use the time wisely and cut her damn claws. It was surprisingly easy--I swopped her up gently but firmly and with great authority, and just started clipping. She struggled a bit (and meowed, of course) but I think she sensed my determination and thought better of putting up her usual fight. I only did her front claws, but if I can't sleep tonight I may just do her back ones.

Anybody want a cat?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It's a new word! Use it! Love it!

I resent the fact that I have to word verify to comment in my own blog, but I do. Anyway, I was just now responding to a comment, and my word verification word was "shkointz." What a cool word. Now all I have to do is figure out what it means and I can start using it in sentences.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

What, haven't you ever seen a woman ranting before?

I don't normally write in this here bloggy thing on the weekends because I'm usually out doing stuff. But it's raining, I'm still trying banish the last vestiges of a headache I've had all morning and I've got a bee in my bonnet.

Here's the bee: The woman across the street lost her city-issued green trash roll-out cart about six months ago. She presumes it was stolen. So she started putting her trash in ours. She didn't ask first, and another neighbor alerted me to her practice. After a few weeks she told me herself that she was doing it--again, she wasn't asking permission or anything, she just said matter-of-factly that she hadn't gotten around to calling the city for a new one and she was using mine. I said "Um, OK," thinking that it was a temporary situation and pretty soon she would get around to replacing her cart. I think the city charges for replacement carts, but the woman is a tenured full professor at Duke so I don't think that's an issue for her.

But now it's starting to look like a permanent situation, and it just irks me a little. Especially this week. The san men came early on Thursday, before Mr. Pants had a chance to roll our cart out, so our trash didn't get picked up. The cart was about three-quarters full, and then Neighbor Lady decides to completely fill it with two bags of her trash (she uses green bags and we use white, so I always know which portion of our trash is hers). Now we have a full cart and a kitchen trash can that really needs emptying. I'm sure my next-door neighbors will let me put it in their cart (I'll ask first), but I'm bugged on principle. I mean, it's one thing to use our trash cart because you're too lazy/cheap to get your own, but it's another thing to take up all the remaining space in our cart with your garbage, knowing that it will be almost a week before we can empty it. I feel like depositing my trash on her doorstep with a note that says "Hi, you've taken up the last space in our cart so I don't know where else to put this stuff. Have a nice day!" But of course I won't do that because I know that passive aggression only makes things worse. Still, every time I see her now I think "Get a trash cart, bee-atch!"

The normal thing to do would be to go over and say "It's been at least six months since you started using our trash cart, and I didn't realize you meant for it to be a permanent solution. Since you took all the remaining space in our cart this week, leaving me no place to put my trash, I'm going to have to ask you to stop now. Would you like the number of the city's solid waste department? Did you know that they will deliver a new cart to your house? That would be the best solution to your problem." But I hate doing stuff like that. Up until I started resenting her, we've had a friendy rapport. I don't want to change that, but I want her to stop using our trash can. I'm hoping Mr. Pants will go speak to her, although he's not nearly as bugged by the situation as I am. He will be if I bug him, however ...

Have a swell day.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What? David Hasselhoff isn't on that list?

I've mentioned the literature available in the elevators at work before. Recently, someone posted a flier for a series about NC history that has been airing on public TV. One of the episodes is called "10,000 years before contact," about pre-historic NC. Someone scratched out the 10,000 and wrote "6,000." Sigh.

So anyway, I take solace where I can find it, and I recently stumbled across a couple of lists (in a blog called Escape From the Meme Machine) of atheists through history (Part 1 and part 2) complete with some delicious quotes.

Here are a few of my favorites:
"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites."--Thomas Jefferson

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."--John Adams

"A religious person is a dangerous person. He may not become a thief or a murderer, but he is liable to become a nuisance. He carries with him many foolish and harmful superstitions, and he is possessed with the notion that it is his duty to give these superstitions to others. That is what makes trouble. Nothing is so worthless as superstition. . . ."--Marilla Ricker (American feminist and activist)

"If there really is a Holy Virgin or anyone up in the air, tell them to send lightening to strike me down or let the stones of the vault fall on my head. If you are unable to do that Mr. Priest, you're nothing but a puppet taking money from stupid old women. You're no better than the clown in the circus coaxing coins from the public. If God doesn't stop me, then there must be no God. Get out of here! You see, there is no God! You're all stupid cows!"--Diego Rivera

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

David Hasselhoff can do no wrong!

Seriously, does it get any more right than this? High on believin', indeed!

See, that's what I'm talking about ...

Interesting coincidence that shortly after Georg writes about finally discovering Overheard in New York, I read a quote there that's so funny I keep reading it again and again:
Guy #1: You know why we ain't git no respect? Bad marketing!
Guy #2: What?
Guy #1: I mean, "We Shall Overcome"? Bitch, slogan should have been "We Shall Kick Yo Ass." Then we'd be gettin some respect today.

In other news, went to me mum's yet again this weekend. It was OK.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I must be very unpleasant ...

All the women I work with started a "book club" but they didn't invite me to join. Of course, since I rarely read fiction (except for harry Potter, of course) I probably wouldn't have joined anyway ... but it's strange not to be invited. So now it's left me wondering what I said to offend every single one of them. Maybe it was something like "God I fucking hate Oprah" ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

¡Nunca he visto jugar al quidditch!

I've been on a quest to improve my Spanish lately, and I've decided it's time to start actually reading Spanish-language books. In a fit of ambition I checked out four from the public library, and now I'm certain I won't have them all read by the time they are due back. I won't even have the first one finished. I'm starting with Harry Potter (I'm not sure why I grabbed the second in the series, Harry Potter y la cámara secreta, from the shelf, but I don't think it makes a difference) because my knowledge of the story line will help with comprehension, and I figured that children's books will be easier. But it's still slow going. I'm lucky to make it through 4 or 5 pages in 20 minutes, and even though I try not to reach for el diccionario constantly (making myself figure out unfamilar words from context is good practice), I can't help it sometimes. "Wow," I think occasionally "Spanish-speaking youngsters are really smart to know all these big, strange words ..."

I think I'm learning, but it's hard to tell. I am getting a lot of exposure to the second-person plural familiar (vosotros) verb conjugations, which are almost never used in Latin American Spanish. So now if someone surprises me by actually using vosotros in a conversation ... well, I'll still be rather surprised. And if I ever have a run-in with some Cornish Pixies (duendecillos de Cornualles), I'll be able to share the experience with a Spanish-speaking acquaintance.

Friday, January 06, 2006

From the Department of I Told You So

Ha, I knew it! My number one reason for not having children is that I've always figured it would mostly be a major drag. One study, reported earlier this week in the Washington Post, seems to back me up on that: Bundles of ... Misery. Of course, people who already have children love them and wouldn't trade them for the world no matter how difficult to live with they are ... pretty much the way I feel about Mr. Gomez, except that it's not illegal to leave him at home unsupervised all day while I'm at work, and no one's going to call social services if I put him in a cage.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cavalcade of topics ...

Topic 1: Radio tonight, 8-10 pm eastern US. 88.7 FM if you is, wxdu.org if you ain't.

Topic 2: Does any local or former local have any idea of the circumference of Duke's East Campus? I ask because I've walked it at a brisk pace with my dogs twice over the last week, and i shall attempt to make a habit of it. I also intend to make full use of my bragging rights: "I walk X miles X times a week!"

Topic 3: I am in the process of writing a little piece about Durham (500-1,000 words) for an online publication that you have never heard of. I can say whatever I want. If anyone knows what I want to say, please let me know via a comment or an e-mail (bunchofpants, little "at" symbol, gmail dot com).

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Wow, that's really agilitynerdy!

I realize that neither of the regular readers of this little bloggie are into dog agility, which is why I try to keep my chatter about the lovely little sport to a minimum (alas, my idea to create a secondary blog just for agility blather has run up against the hurdle of my incredible laziness). But I've just got to talk about it now to give my old flyball teammate Steve some props for being the nerdiest agility enthusiast I've ever met. He has created a "Jump Box Drill Generator", which deals out 8 jump box practice exercises based on user-defined maneuver preferences. A jump box is four jumps arranged in a box-like pattern, and it's a very good handling skill drill. The last USDAA trial I went to actually featured a jump box as the highest-point obstacle in a Masters snooker course, and I got to watch all kinds of handling disasters unfold. It really pays to practice this stuff. So if you actually know of another agility enthusiast besides me, pass the link along. And thanks, Steve!

In other news, I had a fabulous 3-day weekend, packed equally with exhilarating exercise and blissful laziness.