On Trial

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Despite appearances, Lefty is not actually on trial for his life.

Yes, he is on trial, but that’s just the way Kokoro is with anything or anyone new and different.

Lefty has been making great progress lately. He no longer flees when we approach, though he still retreats. Just much more slowly and not as far. And he will take treats from our hands if we’re patient and let him go at his own pace.

So we’ve started giving him the run of the upstairs hall during the day. That means he’s had a chance to make the acquaintance of almost everyone. He’s only seen Kaja from a distance, and hasn’t gotten closer to ‘Nuki than a couple of feet, with the fence between them.

But he’s had nose-to-nose (and nose-to-butt) meetings with Yuki, Kokoro, and Sachiko without anyone getting violent. As I said, great progress.

Awesome feline.

Changing Times

People change over time. They develop new interests, try new things, and find new ways to avoid terminal boredom.

Case in point: Way, way back in 2013, I said that Watanuki isn’t “aggressive about sitting on newspapers…doesn’t have much interest in chewing on books…doesn’t unroll the toilet paper…and given his choice of dens, he’s more likely to hole up in a plastic cat carrier than a cardboard box.”

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‘Nuki didn’t just stroll into the box and sit down. He had to knock it on its side first. That took several tries. Then there was a period of cautious sniffage, followed by multiple changes of position before he was comfortable.

Perhaps Watanuki has outgrown his early “reverse Maru’s syndrome”. He has taken to sitting on the recycle pile–which is primarily newspaper–and has been seen droolingnibbling on the corner of Maggie’s ebook reader (call it meta-paper).

Or maybe he’s just doing it to mess with our minds. I wouldn’t put it past our house-thug.

Regardless, Rhubarb wants to make it clear that he had nothing to do with ‘Nuki’s behavioral change, has never met Watanuki, and in fact, doesn’t even see the cat to his right.

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While it’s true that times and people change, some things remain the same.

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No matter how lazy a cat may get (Garfield notwithstanding), mice remain a hunter’s favorite target.

Pillowed

Watanuki has some strange ideas about the proper role of a pillow.

Actually, he has a lot of strange ideas. But a detailed discussion of them all would take us far beyond the space allotted to today’s post, so we’ll stick with pillows.

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Most people put their head on a pillow. Not Mr. Knuckles.

I’d think he was trying to keep his butt warm, but the temperature was in the nineties the day that picture was taken. Cold buns (not that he really has buns–but I digress) were not the issue.

Meanwhile, Yuki took the usurpation of his favorite head-and-tail-rest in stride.

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He often finds Maggie’s pillow to be an acceptable alternate Rhubarb. Though it has to be said that I’ve never seen him twist his hindquarters into that position with any other pillow.

Meanwhile, I found the funniest part of the episode to be the way Sachiko completely ignored the boys’ antics.

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Fellowship

As we’ve seen, Rhubarb and Yuki often hang out together. Our bed is their usual venue, so Yuki can use Rhubarb as his pillow.

But, since we’ve started giving Lefty and Rufus the run of the upstairs hall, the Bed Boys have made a point of keeping an eye out.

No more bed–but they do stay in touch.
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Yuki must have the best-rested tail in town with a comfy mattress like that.

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.