Settling In, Settling Down

Lefty is definitely relaxing around us. Which is not to say he’s comfortable; we’re nowhere near the point of giving him pettings. But when he retreats from our presence, he no longer does it at high velocity. He’s sniffed our fingers a few times. And he’s decided that the camera might not be his enemy.
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Note the calm-but-cautious expression. A considerable improvement over last month’s “alert” to say nothing of the even earlier “get thou away from me, oh evil biped!”

Rufus, of course, has no trouble relaxing.
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The computer desk is one of his current favorite spots. I’m not crazy about having a fur-bearing creature right in front of the computer’s cooling vents, but he does seem to be making an effort to leave an air gap, so I haven’t made an issue of it.

And, while he’s always been a very mellow fellow, amiable and eager to please, he does have some firm opinions.

Currently, his firmest opinion is that the desk is his spot.

I was working at the computer earlier this week, upgrading the OS, when Rufus decided it was time for a nap. He strolled up the back of the futon (just visible to the left side of the picture), shoved the mouse off the desk, and flaked out.
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Bets on whether that’s an innocent blep or a message aimed at anyone who would try to usurp Rufus’ computer desk?

Not a Neighbor

I can’t possibly let a Friday go by without a post. But the gang hasn’t done anything photo-worthy since I got home from Sedalia.

Fortunately, I have alternatives.

Meet Missy, official shop cat of Chelsea’s Antiques.
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That’s a typical pose for her. Usually, if she’s not asleep on a sun-warmed chair, she’s actively ignoring the store’s clientele.
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Which is not to say Missy is unfriendly. She’s almost always willing to accept the pettings that are her due. She just doesn’t make a big deal out of it.

At least, that’s the way she’s been on all of my previous visits to Chelsea’s.

This year, however, she was in quite a different mood.
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She met us at the door and demanded attentions. Naturally, I obliged with ear rubs and back strokes. She appreciated those, but seemed uninterested in chin scratching. When I offered, she retreated a few steps.

And then she circled around me, sometimes leading, sometimes following, as I walked around the shop. Every time I stopped to look at something, she started rubbing against nearby surfaces: an obvious request for more patting.
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Of course I succumbed to her pleadings.

And, every time, she accepted no more than four pats, then retreated and resumed circling around me. Tsundere in action.

Next time you’re in Sedalia, drop by Chelsea’s Antiques. There’s plenty of good stuff there–in addition to Missy.

Knitting the Raveled Sleeve

By the time you see this post, I’ll have been in Sedalia for a couple of days. Fortunately, Rhubarb was kind enough to make himself available for photographs before I left.

He’s still one of the most peaceful sleepers around.
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Not just the expression on his face, though that’s delightful enough. But he stays in one position for longer periods of time than most cats. Certainly more than anyone else in our crew other than Rufus.

Nor does he always sleep alone. As we’ve seen in the past, he frequently cuddles with Yuki. Or perhaps “is cuddled by Yuki” would be a better way to put that.

Yuki does often use Rhubarb as a pillow–stability is a virtue in one’s headrest after all–but sometimes he just extends a paw or two, letting Rhubarb know he’s there without getting all demanding.

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Deer Here

We had some visitors the other day.
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Yes, despite the continued presence of the coyotes–though they haven’t been as frequently seen lately–the deer are still hanging around.

It is Fuzzy Antler Season, so they’re a bit restless.

Maggie got a slightly better picture:
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Complete with bonus deer butt.

Unfortunately, as soon as I went in search of a camera with a decent zoom, the deer remembered a pressing engagement elsewhere.

A great shame: I was hoping to get a better shot of the attractive pink insides of their ears. It looks very much like toe beans at a distance.

Unhappiness

Yes, we are still hosting MM in involuntary protective custody.

The weather has been changeable lately, going from somewhat too warm to a bit too cold and back over the course of a couple of hours–and lately we’ve had rain in the mix as well.

MM has been coping by sleeping in one of the shelters.
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Don’t let that peaceful scene fool you. She’s still not happy about her confinement. A few moments after I took this picture, she woke up and realized I was looking at her. That clearly was beyond the pale and she immediately claimed the high ground, climbing to the highest shelf on the catio. Safely above the intruder, she then launched a series of hisses to let me know not to come any closer than was necessary to clean her litter box.

Meanwhile, Rufus and Lefty were also unhappy for a while. They picked up a nasty upper respiratory infection. Lefty’s more robust immune system limited the trouble to bouts of sneezing. He just needed a little help, and he was quite happy to take his antibiotics wrapped in pill pockets.

Rufus, on the other paw, was hit much harder. He had the sneezes as well, but he also had a very runny nose and drippy eyes. He hated the eye-drops and loathed having pills forced down his throat (because of his lack of teeth, pill pockets are too much for him to swallow. It was obvious that nothing tasted right, and even with the bowls elevated, he still dripped snot onto his food, which just compounded the problem.

Yes, he does seem to have made a full recovery, but he didn’t have any qualms about telling everybody just how he felt about the multiple visits to the vet.
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Fortunately for everybody involved, she didn’t take it personally. She was, in fact, quite amused and insisted on getting a picture for his permanent record in their computer system.

SAST 14

Today’s Short Attention Span Theater is not brought to you by disease or lack of sleep, it’s just an excuse to deal with my to-do pile.

First, a brief administrative note.

I will be attending the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival at the end of the month. I’m not planning a book signing or any other formal event, but The RagTime Traveler will be available for sale*. Come on down to Sedalia, enjoy the music, pick up a book, and I’ll be delighted to sign it for you.

* Dad’s ragtime books, both fiction and non-fiction, will also be in the festival store. In my totally unbiased opinion, you need copies of all of those as well.

While I will take my laptop along, I don’t plan to write any blog posts. I’ll make sure to have a post for Friday, May 31–I don’t want to be responsible for riots caused by cat deprivation–but other than that expect silence between May 28 and June 4, with a return to the usual schedule on June 6.

Second, I’m a little disturbed to discover that El Sobrante* is more dangerous than I’d thought.

* For those unfamiliar with the Bay Area, El Sobrante is the closest of the several cities that border the part of Richmond where I live.

Over the years, I’ve gotten accustomed to the suspicious sorts lurking in the local undergrowth, but it appears that a new threat is moving in.

According to a recent post on everyone’s favorite unbiased news source–Nextdoor–“[…]a somewhat large buck with velvet covered antlers jumped out from the side… he mean mugged us hella hard and took a few quick steps towards the car…”

That’s right. As if street gangs of turkeys and terrorist coyotes aren’t bad enough, now we’ve got to deal with deer carjackers. It’s a bad neighborhood, obviously, and getting worse.

But I have to wonder: how the heck did the deer expect to drive the car to the chop shop? He could probably hold the key between his hooves, but it’s not like the driver’s seat can be adjusted to fit his shape. For that matter, what kind of payment would he have been expecting? I’ve heard that fences pay chicken feed, but salt licks?

Anyway, moving on.

The big story a few days ago was that Microsoft is working on tools to (as the Chron’s headline put it) “secure elections”. Which is great news as far as it goes.

Microsoft is doing it right: making the source code freely available, so anyone can audit it and any company in the voting machine field can use it.

The thing is, it’s not a complete voting system, and the value of Microsoft’s software is only as good as the implementation. Voting machine companies have a justifiably poor reputation for the quality of their coding. You can have the greatest software in the world for allowing voters to verify their ballot, and it’ll be absolutely useless if the rest of the software and the hardware it’s running on is riddled with security holes.

How many voting machines run on Windows XP, an operating system that has been completely unsupported for half a decade? (Probably fewer than the number of ATMs running on OS/2, which has been dead for three times as long. But I digress.) Sorry, not totally unsupported. Microsoft just released a security patch for XP. How many of those voting machines running the code are going to get the patch? I’m betting on a percentage in the single digits.

Also, as the articles point out, Microsoft’s new code doesn’t support Internet voting (something far too many people want, given the woeful state of the art) or vote by mail systems, which are increasingly popular.

I’m not running Microsoft down. As I said, it’s a step in the right direction. But we as a country need to take far more than just that one step.

And, finally, no SAST post is really complete without a mention of either the Bay Bridge Bolt Botch or the Transbay Terminal fiasco. I don’t have anything on the BBBB, but there was a brief note in the Chron a few weeks about about the terminal.

The cracked support beams are nearly repaired–though we still don’t have a date for the grand reopening. What we do have is word that the paths in the rooftop garden are going to be replaced.

Those paths, you may remember, are made of decomposed granite, and even before the terminal was closed, the granite was decomposing even further. So the decision has been made to repave the paths, this time using concrete.

As local megaconstruction repair projects go, it should be a comparatively cheap fix, no more than half a million dollars or so. The city and the contractors are, of course, arguing over who is at fault for the failure of the paths. We all know who’s going to wind up paying for the repair, though, and it isn’t either of the arguing parties.

Comfort Zone

I know I’ve posted a lot about the Formerly Feral Fellows lately, but I couldn’t resist today’s pictures. I promise I’ll give the rest of the crew some screen time soon.

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This is, by far, the best picture of Lefty I’ve taken. Admittedly, using a real camera with an actual zoom helped a lot. But even so, Lefty’s growing comfort with allowing us to look at him and point weird boxy things at him helped even more.

He did retreat into his safe space under the futon when I came closer, but I’m fine with that. One paw’s worth of gain at a time is better than we had hoped for.

The reason I stepped beyond Lefty’s comfort zone was to see what Rufus was up to. And the answer was adorable.

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Telephoto helped with this one as well. I couldn’t have gotten close enough to take this shot with my phone; Rufus would certainly have woken up.

Note the obligatory blep–silly pink tongue–and the handsome lavender toe beans.

Yes, he does look a bit bedraggled. The nap came squarely between grooming sessions, I think. By late afternoon, he was his usual dapper self.

Mind you, I’d prefer he not sleep in front of the computer. I’d rather he didn’t make it so easy for fur to get into the case. But there are tradeoffs in everything, and if he’s happy, I’m willing to open the machine and clean it out periodically.

Meet and Greet

Lefty continues to keep his distance from the bipeds, but his distance is getting smaller.

Case in point:
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Quite the change from two weeks ago, when the best shot we could get made him look like a little black blob with one glowing eye.

He spent several hours Wednesday exploring the upstairs hall. In addition to hanging out in proximity to the Tuxedos, he also exchanged a few mildly disparaging remarks with Rhubarb, and set aside time to sleep in the orange condo/footstool.

Six feet seems to be the edge of his comfort zone when food isn’t involved. Which seems highly appropriate, now that I think about it. After all, there are six feet involved here: his four and my or Maggie’s two.

Mix a few treats into the equation, and the boundary gets smaller. We’re not ready to hand-feed him, nor is he ready to be hand-fed, much less patted, but we’ve had limbs as close as a foot away from him without any bloodshed.

Excellent progress–though after a big gain like this, we’re fully expecting a plateau or even a partial retreat in his acceptance of attention.

Rufus, by the way, declined to participate in Wednesday’s meet-and-greet. The other cats, after all, are old news, and he had far more important things to do.
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In our current mini-heat wave (upper 80s, lower 90s), the upstairs bathroom is the perfect place for an extended snooze.