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.

More TV Talk

I seem to have survived the holiday season, something I wasn’t sure I’d be willing to make bets on along about December 26.

While survival is gratifying, I am still playing catch up on many of the things I normally do on a more-or-less daily basis. Little things like reading the newspaper and checking on my online news feeds, taking pictures of the cats, and, yeah, watching TV.

Worst Cooks, for example. We managed to watch the first episode of the new season, and it was great fun. Alton’s slightly sadistic sense of humor was exactly the goose the show’s format needed. Telling a competitor “I’m confident this won’t be the worst thing I eat today,” is a great change from the usual focus on the good and bad points of each dish. Sometimes the contestants need a reminder that they’re competing against the members of their own team as well as the other team.

And forcing them to use pressure cookers in the first challenge? Evil genius!

I remain optimistic for this season.

On the other hand, I haven’t gotten to the first episode of the new Kids Baking Championship. As far as I know, there are no changes to the show this season–certainly nothing on the level of a new host–but that’s fine. The current format hasn’t gotten stale, so the show remains on my to-be-watched list.

Doctor Who is still on our schedule, too. We caught the first episode of the new season, only five days late. Naturally, it had to be a cliff-hanger episode, leaving us looking for a timeslot for the second episode. We’ll get there.

I continue to approve of Jodie Whittaker’s take on the Doctor and roll my eyes at the brigades of haters who believe the inclusion of anyone other than straight, white males in the show ruins their childhood.

How can a change now ruin something that happened twenty years ago? Or even just three? Sure, it’s a show about time travel–among other things–but nobody’s editing those episodes they remember fondly.

And if they honestly think Jodie’s Doctor is wildly different than earlier versions, they’re remembering those episodes poorly. “Spyfall, Part One” gave us classic Doctor. The whole business of her reminding her companions about “Rule One” before totally ignoring her own advice could have come straight out of almost any Doctor’s playbook, right back to William Hartnell in 1963.

And one of the key complaints they have about Whittaker’s Doctor, the one that poo-poos her emotional relationship with her companions, is utter hogwash as well. Every Doctor since the 2005 revival has been tightly tied to at least one companion.

Since the reboot, the Doctor has explicitly been written as an outsider looking in. Admiring humanity and wanting to be close to it, but unable to take that last step. Look at the Doctor’s relationships with Rose Tyler, Amy Pond, and Bill Potts. By comparison, Jodie’s attempts to including herself in with her “fam” are weak sauce–or, more accurately, slightly-used dishwater. (I’m looking forward to the inevitable point where the current companions start to leave her. From a writer’s perspective, the way the breakups are handled and whether we’ll get a series with only temporary companions will be fascinating.)

But enough ranting*.

* Okay, a little more. I’m well aware of the complaints about lack of LGBT+ representation and ageism. The difference between the complainers I’m bitching about up above and these is that the former group are looking backward, trying to force a reversion to a show that never was and wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as what we got. The latter group is looking forward, trying to make the show we have better and more in tune with the real world.

One group points to lower ratings and says, “Ha-ha! You’re getting what you deserve! I hope you get canceled soon!” The other group points to lower ratings and says, “Hey, fix this problem and the ratings will go back up, because I and my friends will start watching again.”

I know where my sympathies lie.

Rant over, now for sure.

And, to wrap this up on a good note (pun intended), “Spyfall, Part One” gave us one of the best musical bits in recent Doctor Who memory. Give another listen to the background music at the beginning of the “Going to the Party” scene and tell me it isn’t a dead ringer for every James Bond theme you’ve never heard.

I appreciate a show with a sense of humor.

Happy Merry

Happy Whateverholidayyourecelebrating!

Including, of course, no holiday at all, if that’s what you do.

As I write this, we’re somewhere between kid-stuff and adulting. The gifts are opened, but not yet played with. On the other hand, families have not been called, but the laundry is in the washer.

It’s too early to put the roast in the oven, but the hot cider is brewing. This year, we’re trying a variation on the usual recipe. Instead of a conventional–and thus, boring–navel orange, we’re using a couple of blood oranges. Doesn’t look like it’s going to change the color of the finished cider appreciably, but it smells fantastic.

And, yes, we are making the cider in our Instant Pot. In slow-cooker mode. This doesn’t seem like a recipe that would benefit from pressure cooking. So it’s still going to take four hours. Four hours of filling the house with a delightful scent. And having the cooker summon us when it’s time to give the cider a stir is a nice feature our old slow-cooker lacked.

The cats remain unimpressed, including Lefty, who has several times wandered into the kitchen, shaken his head in disgust over the lack of kitty treats, and disappeared back up the stairs.

We suspect there will be more interest once we start on dinner preparations. Cats do prefer beef to citrus, 999 to one, after all.

We’re determinedly keeping the radio off. We’ve had quite enough Christmas carols, thank you. I’ll admit to a fondness for a rendition that came out a couple of years ago, but which I only discovered last week, Revolution Wonderland. But enough is enough. Pack up the carols along with the inflatable Santas, Nativity dioramas, and giant foam snowflakes. Thanksgiving is going to be late again next year, so I’m looking forward to eleven months of nearly carol-free life.

I think I’ll stop rambling here. Time to go be an adult for a bit, thanking people for their gifts, before I can be a kid again and make some horrible noises with my new saxmonica*.

* Courtesy of Maggie, who shall now have to suffer for her generosity.

More Inconvenient Sleepers

Continuing our occasional series of posts of cats who choose where to sleep so as to cause the greatest inconvenience to humans.

Rhubarb, as we’ve noted, is one of the leading experts in the field. A couple of days ago, he came up with a new wrinkle.

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The weather has been toasty around here lately, hitting three digits, so he’s clearly not under the covers for warmth. Although he, like many cats, is prone to developing cold toes; perhaps he’s trying to warm up his toe beans. If so, I imagine we’ll find him further under the covers come November.

While I was taking Rhubarb’s picture, somebody else showed up to see what was going on.

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Lefty is definitely curious about the actions of the other cats. He’s also getting much more comfortable around us humans; this photo was taken with no zoom.

Despite his interest and increasing comfort, he’s still not ready to explore the bed. But that doesn’t mean he can’t play the game.

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Snoozing in the bedroom doorway? Big inconvenience points for Sir Lefty.

When he decides to expand his horizons to the bed and the kitchen, he’s going to be a major challenger to ‘Nuki’s domination of the sport.

Knowing the Cost

Nearly three years ago, I wrote about my compulsion to record the details every time we put gas in the car. At the time, I said, “Mind you, none of this information is of any particular use.”

I’m thrilled to announce that after thirteen years, I’ve finally found value in that spreadsheet. Value beyond soothing the need to collect the numbers, I mean.

Hey, I just realized: since I’ve found a use for the numbers, they’re no longer just semi-random noise. They have meaning! They’re officially information. Data! I’m sure the spreadsheet is very proud.

But I digress.

Anyway, the point is that I have a job. Which requires me to commute. And now I can calculate how much it costs me to go to work.

The bridge toll is six bucks in one direction and zero in the other. And, frankly, that’s the lion’s share of the expense. But, being compulsive, I had to add in the cost of the gas.

One round trip is approximately 35 miles, regardless of which route I take*.

* As I noted recently, crossing the Richmond-San Rafael bridge is essentially a requirement to get from here to there. But there are multiple ways to get from here to the bridge. Since all the routes are functionally the same length, and all the drivers are using the same small group of traffic apps, it’s probably no surprise that it takes the same amount of time to drive all the routes. In this case, about an hour and a quarter. As Bay Area commutes go, that’s staggeringly short for the round trip.

According to my spreadsheet, each dollar we’ve spent on gas has been good for 8.6 miles driven. So one round trip to work costs a hair over four bucks in gas. Add the bridge toll and we get the total price of the trip: ten dollars. No, I’m not compulsive enough to figure in depreciation on the car.

Apply my salary–net, of course–and you get forty-four minutes and a handful of seconds*.

* Yes, I realize that the mathematically astute curious types among you are now busy calculating my pay. Have fun. I’d just appreciate it if you didn’t spread the number around. Make anyone who wants to know go to the effort of punching a few digits into their calculators. And looking up the federal and state withholding percentages. And a few other little deductions that I’ll leave as exercises for the nosy.

With all the approximations I’ve included, you can call it three-quarters of an hour without straining the bounds of mathematics.

Why would I bother with all that math, other than to justify thirteen years of data collection? Well, it turns out that driving is two dollars cheaper than taking the bus. That says more about the cost of public transportation than anything else, but that’s a subject for another time.

More importantly, knowing the cost difference allows me to feel a little better about choosing convenience over saving the environment.

Cuddle Buddies

Just a brief post today, for reasons.

But I had promised to try and post video of Lefty and Rufus indulging in mutual grooming. And I do keep my promises.

One has to admire Rufus’ patience with his companion.

The Fellows are a bit distant, I’m afraid. No zoom on the camera. So, to make up for that, here’s a snippet of them sharing the mushroom condo, at the other end of the camera’s range.

For some value of “sharing” anyway.

West Coast Ragtime Festival Thoughts

A quick housekeeping note: there will be no blog post on Thursday. I intend to sleep late, gorge myself on turkey and the usual trimmings, swill far too much crockpot spiced cider, and not even think about writing. Normal service will resume on Friday.

That said…

The West Coast Ragtime Festival was excellent, despite–or perhaps in spite of–the looming clouds of smoke from the Camp Fire, a mere hour’s drive north. Not, I hasten to add, that anyone ignored the fire and its effects. The music was good, the festival seemed better organized than last year, and the hotel staff was on the ball. (As any regular convention-goer in any field can tell you, the facility staff can make or break a convention.)

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Danny Coots–that’s him just to the left of center, behind the largely-invisible drum kit–is…uh…hang on. Am I the only one who sees that? Wait, let me run the image through some TV-style computer enhancement.

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The Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova: come for the music, stay to watch the performers eaten by giant lizard-monsters…

Ahem. As I was saying, Danny Coots must be the hardest-working performer in ragtime today. I swear he not only did all of his own sets, but sat in on every other set all weekend. And yes, I’m well aware that means he had to be in three at once. Maybe he’s triplets. Or clones.

Excellent drummer. Makes anyone he plays with at least twice as good. Buy his records: he’s gotta feed all three of himself.

Speaking of the hotel, questionable choices in décor aside, they did an excellent job of hosting, not only the festival, but the residents of an assisted living facility burned out of Paradise. (And parenthetical kudos to the kind donor who made it possible for the displaced folks to attend the festival.) That’s what people need right now, not snide comments about forest management.

And, on a related note, Diego Bustamante, also a resident of Paradise, did several beautiful sets. If he can play that well at nineteen, in the face of such disaster, he’s going to be a talent to watch over the next few decades.

Also, be on the watch for “Titanic: A Musical Journey”. Contrary to modern popular belief, Celine Dion was not on the Titanic. Nor was the music heard on the film’s soundtrack typical of what was actually played at the time. Barbara Chronowski’s production–featuring Adam Swanson on the piano–aims to correct the record, and largely succeeds. I can’t imagine the two performances over the weekend will be the only ones.