Still More Baby Pictures

I’m dipping way, way back into the vault for this one.

How about the first picture we took of Watanuki when we brought him home?

Well, okay, the first video. But it was taken less than an hour after the first picture. 5:07 pm on December 24, 2010. Yes, as far as we’re concerned, Yuki and ‘Nuki were Christmas babies.

Note that even at the tender age of six months, he displays several traits he’s carried forward to this very day: a tendency to bite when licking would be more appropriate, an extreme fondness for the ‘nip, and a devastating cuteness when he wants attention or knows he’s being observed.

Inconstant, Constant

Here we are in October, and the breaking of rules continues. Oakland has won a playoff series for the first time in umpty-ump years, darn it.

Some rules, however, appear inviolable. The Reds and Brewers have been unceremoniously bounced out of the playoffs (drat!) and the Yankees (spit) are still alive.

Isn’t it nice to know that in a year where the only rules that can’t be broken are the sucky ones, we still have cats?

Specifically, cats being adorable.

(Yes, that is a composite photo. No, I didn’t make any effort to match the halves. Rest assured the two shots were taken mere seconds apart and accurately reflect the situation on the bed Thursday night.)

Clockwise from the upper left, we’ve got Yuki, Lefty, Kokoro, and Watanuki.

Of particular interest, note that Lefty is actually asleep. Not just eyes closed, but on the alert. Asleep. This is a major step forward for Mr. Snugglepanther.

What’s Up With You?

Strange weather we’re having around here. Two straight days over 100 (plus or minus local micro-climate variation), and then yesterday it was a good thirty degrees cooler.

Not because of any normal weather change. No offshore winds breaking up a high pressure zone or anything like that. This is totally due to smoke from the fires to the north.

I hasten to add that they’re all a significant distance away from us. There’s been no suggestion that we’re at risk, at least from the existing fires*. We’re as safe as we can be in an era where the California state motto seems to have become “Burn, baby, burn.”

* Our vegetation is just as profuse and desiccated as anyone else’s. A poorly timed and aimed firework or discarded cigarette could cause plenty of trouble around here.

But even the smoke was unusual. There wasn’t much scent of burning, and visibility was nearly as good as normal, because the smoke was staying high up.

Really, really thick, though. Thick enough to make 9:00 in the morning feel like late evening, and make 6:00 PM feel like a torrential downpour was immanent. Regrettably, the later was not the case: a heavy rainfall would be a big help with the fires.

Maybe we just need more moisture in the air. Let it condense around all those ash particles, and we’ve got a flood of biblical proportions.

Which would bring its own problems, of course, but we’re used to floods around here. A homey little well-known disaster would be an almost pleasant change.

I did say “almost”.

Though, come to think of it, heavy rains and (minor) flooding would tend to encourage people to stay inside; quite different from outrageously high temperatures that lead people to go to parks and beaches. Solving our social distancing and state burning problems at the same time?

No pitcher is going to sneer at a double-play ball.

The unusual conditions have some of the cats a bit off their feed, but not to the point that we’re worried about anyone.

In short, we’re doing about as well as can be expected in the current conditions. Hope the same is true of you all.

Major Milestone

Lefty has been making excellent progress in his acclimation to the indoor life. He has, in fact, been doing so well, we’ve officially declared him “no longer feral”.

The key milestone? He’s spending time on the bed.

Often with his best buddy Yuki–we’ve taken to calling them the Sable Saboteurs for their joint effect on the social hierarchy–but sometimes by himself as well.

There’s still some distance to go before we can declare him a fully-accredited indoor kitty.

Case in point: he’s still somewhat skittish about humans–

–especially humans with cameras. But then again, so are Maggie and I, so we’re not casting aspersions on our house panther.

But Lefty is coming to the realization that humans do have their uses, even beyond the delivery of food and treats. Pettings are nice–and they do require fingers–enough so that he’s begun actively requesting them.

And humans also make excellent pillows if you can pin them down.

Lunacy

Seriously?

I’m used to every unusual astronomical phenomenon sparking a wave of “news” articles about its history, etymology, and economic impact. Not to mention the obligatory “How to watch…” pieces.

But, really, we’ve hit the absolute bottom of the barrel.

See, the moon is full.

You don’t get it? Neither did I. Doesn’t that happen every month, sometimes more than once a month?

Well, yes. But it turns out that once every three years or so, the full moon in September is not called the “Harvest Moon”.

Remember, this is just a naming convention. It has absolutely nothing to do with the moon’s appearance.

The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox. Two years out of three, that’s the full moon in September. The third year–including this year–it’s the October full moon.

And yet, presumably because we’re all so bored out of our skulls staying at home all the time, there’s a spate of articles urging us not to miss this “rare” phenomenon.

I haven’t gone searching, but I’d be willing to bet there’s at least one news story from a conservative website blaming the Democrats for moving the Harvest Moon from it’s “traditional” spot in September.

But that’s okay. There’s probably also a liberal site somewhere blaming the president for separating the Harvest Moon from the Corn Moon.

It’s not just Internet click bait, either. Well, it is, but it’s not just the usual sources of click bait.

Would you believe CNN has a “How to view…” page up?

Solemn truth.

It’s the flipping moon, people! Go outside after dark and look up! You can’t miss it!

*sigh* One more thing to blame on 2020.

Oh, well. At least there don’t seem to be any articles claiming that the moon is about to smash into the Earth and destroy civilization.

SAST 16

Apparently someone at MLB.TV is reading this blog. Less than a week after I noted that nobody’s been talking about MLB.TV subscriptions, they decided to prove me wrong.

I said that I doubted we’d get a prorated refund. Surprise!

According to the email I received, we do get prorated refunds. We can have them credited to back to the cards we used to pay, or we can credit them against next year’s subscription.

That’s a no-brainer. I see no reason to give MLB half a year of interest on my money. More to the point, though, after the example of this year’s negotiations between the owners and players, I’m not the only person wondering if there will be a season next year.

Refunds will be issued around the end of July. I presume this is so they won’t have to go through the refund process twice if the 60 game season gets scrapped entirely–something that seems increasingly likely in the light of the ongoing problems with testing.

On a semi-related note, team schedules are now available online. You can subscribe to them with your Google, Apple, or Windows calendar.

If, that is, you’re willing to give an unidentified third party access to all of your calendars. At least, that’s the case in Google-land.

Maybe it’s different for those of you using Outlook or iCal; I suggest you check the permissions that come along with any calendar requests very carefully.

Moving on.

Douglas Adams was wrong. It’s not time that’s the illusion. Dates are illusions.

These days, I’m far from the only person who can’t tell whether it’s a Wednesday in July or a Tuesday in November without looking at a phone (or calendar for those of us who still use paper). I think we all know it’s still 2020, but I’m certain enough to bet money on it.

It’s not just the lack of stimulation, with our limited ability to spend time with friends, or the sameness of our personal schedules–especially for those working at home. It’s the sense of futility that comes from not having an endgame in sight. Nobody knows when life will return to normal–whatever that is or will be–and, worse yet, nobody knows when we’ll know when.

We’re just marking time. Seconds, minutes, hours. But not days. They’re just too big to grasp.

Moving on–in a limited way.

Along with the retreat from “reopening,” we’re getting a return of one of the most noxious notions from the days of “Shelter in Place.” You know the one I mean: “Look at all the free time you have. You can finally do those things you’ve been putting off!”

Poisonous.

Maybe it works for you. I’ll admit it worked for me early on. I wrapped up the third draft of Demirep and put it in the hands of my beta readers (and thanks to all of you!). But after that?

My usual practice is to start the next novel while the beta readers are reading. This time, nope. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I do. But actually doing anything with them? Not happening.

And the last thing I need is somebody guilting me about it.

Same goes for you. If you’re not capable of working on one of your projects–whether it’s something artistic or practical–you’ve got my permission to not do it and to not feel guilty or defeated. We’re all different, and we all react to events differently.

If someone tells you that you have to work on something, feel free to politely tell them to get stuffed. And if they gloat about how much they’ve accomplished under lock-down, feel free to deliver them to your local taxidermist for stuffing.

On a related note, I will assault the next person I hear saying “Man, being a professional athlete is the worst job these days.” (Yes, people really are saying that. If you haven’t heard it–presumably because you’re being a responsible adult and socially isolating and being a smart adult and staying off social media–I envy you.)

You know what really sucks? Working in a field where you don’t have a choice about going to work every day, where your employer doesn’t pay for tests and won’t pay you if you get sick. Or not working because your former employer is out of business.

We’re all having to learn new ways to do our jobs–it’s not just ballplayers who have to figure out how to get the work done safely. And very few of us have the same safety nets they do. Well-funded unions that actually look out for their members, affordable health insurance, and well-off senior members of our professions who look out for their juniors* are increasingly scarce.

* Major kudos for the various MLB stars who’ve been chipping in money to help out the minor league players who aren’t getting paid at all now that the MiLB seasons have been cancelled.

Moving on.

Well, maybe. One of these days.Sometime.

A Bad Fit

Lefty shares some of ‘Nuki’s size and shape issues.

Not that they have bad body images or anything like that. I’m talking about their ability to fold themselves comfortably into caves.

Lefty has been hanging out in a condo in my office lately. Mostly in. Over the past week or so, I’ve seen him leave a leg outside.

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A tail.

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And, on one memorable occasion, two paws and a tail.

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Kind of makes you wonder why he bothers with the condo at all, doesn’t it?

Steps in the Right Direction

Lefty is continuing to settle in to his new life. He’s increasingly comfortable around the humans–he even occasionally accepts a patting (he especially enjoys having his neck scratched).

It’s obvious he misses Rufus at least as much as we do. He’s trying to fill the void by cuddling up to the other cats, especially Yuki.

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We’re not sure if Yuki is just more tolerant of Lefty’s attentions, or if it’s a case of “black cats stick together”. Yuki has missed spending time with Rhubarb lately, so he may be predisposed to hang out with whoever wants to spend time with him. Or it may just be that his mobility issues make it harder for him to get away when Lefty hits him with a full-body head bump.

Regardless, they are spending a fair amount of time together. Though that pose is a little unusual: Lefty is usually the one wrapping himself around/across Yuki, but there is a lot of mutual grooming and reciprocal pillowing.

Lefty has also discovered the kitchen window.

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He’s got a fascinating chitter when prey appears outside. It sounds mechanical; combined with the way his head and tail twitch, he almost seems like a feline bobblehead.

He hasn’t joined Ooki Brothers Security. It’s clear that ‘Nuki doesn’t yet trust Lefty to keep proper watch, and has been known to chase him away from the window when he comes on duty.

But, surprisingly, they do manage to spend some time in relatively peaceful coexistence.

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Admittedly, having a barrier between them helps the relationship–and Lefty wasn’t as deeply asleep as this picture suggests.

It’s definite progress, though, and we’re pleased to see it.