plonq: (Dramatic Mood)
[ profile] atara dropped Belladonna at the vet on her way in to work this morning for some teeth cleaning and, depending on the results of the cleaning, a possible extraction or two. Obviously we are worried since there are no guarantees when they put your cat under for any kind of surgery. She's been anesthetized before without any bad reactions, so I am optimistic.

In there was a recent local homicide where the victim had filed a protection order against the murderer. Naturally the local media have latched onto this story and are milking it for ratings. As I was driving in this morning, they were interviewing the sister of a woman who was killed in a similar situation out in Calgary. This woman is championing the cause for requiring mandatory tracking devices for anyone has a restraining, or protection order filed against them.

The host pointed out that the system is far from perfect, and even subject to abuse at times, and putting a tracking device on everyone who is the target of a restraining or protection order could result in innocent people being tracked.

The advocate's response was chilling and priceless. Innocent people should want to wear a tracking device so that they can prove their innocence.

That makes sense. By extension, innocent people should be happy to have their houses routinely searched, and be stopped and frisked in the street so that they can prove their continued innocence. Maybe we could tap their phones and monitor their online activities too.

This is the kind of fertile ground where bills like C51 find nourishment for their roots. Fortunately, they brought in a sane person once they were done with her and they wrapped up the segment with a refreshing bit of non-crazy.

Tea for two
plonq: (Little Stinker)
[ profile] atara and I went up to Safeway today to do our usual Sunday shopping. I am glad that Sobeys opted to keep the Safeway brand, and much of the signature feel and branding of the store after they acquired the chain up here last year. The prices are a little higher for some goods than they are at other chains, but the shopping experience is much more pleasant. I can count on one hand the number of times I have found products that people put into their cart at one end of the store, and then ditch at the other end of the store when they decide they have lost interest. The ground hamburger ditched in with the bread at Extra Foods was a real head-shaker.

While we were picking out some fruit for our lunches this week, I noticed a 20-something girl picking through the broccoli. As she was shoving a floret into her bag, she brushed the display and three more tumbled over the edge and onto the floor by her feet. Without even bothering to look around, she picked them up, shoved them into her bag, tied it shut and dropped it into her cart.

As we wandered our separate ways, I was left to ponder on the question of whether she did that because she in an inherently reasonable person, or if she knew that people saw what she had done.

It led me to wonder about the larger question of why people do the right thing.

If you follow the teachings of many major religions, they tend to preach that we are always being watched and judged, not by each other, but by an all-seeing being or beings. The implicit suggestion behind many of their doctrines is that if humans were not under constant observation, the world would lapse into a chaotic mess of self-serving moral turpitude.

On the other hand, I think that people are generally well-behaved. I believe we are hard-wired, on average, to do the right thing. I think it was inevitable that we are that way, because we evolved as a community species where we could only thrive in an atmosphere of mutual trust. I think that's why most of us feel irritation when we see somebody throw his fast food containers out the window of the car when he's driving down the highway. People like him are an anomaly who put their individual convenience above the communal good.

I believe that most people would have put the broccoli in their bag, rather than kicking it under the shelf, or putting it back in the bin for the next person.

In short, I still harbour a naive faith in humanity.

Flowers in stark


Feb. 7th, 2015 03:41 pm
plonq: (Cat-like Typing Mood)
As I sit here in a Starbucks, sipping a white chocolate mocha and leeching their WiFi, it occurs to me that this is exactly the kind of situations I was picturing when I bought this device.

But that is not the focus of this post.

Ever since we returned from our late-spring vacation, Belladonna has become exceptionally clingy. She has always taken to sleeping under the lamp on my computer desk, but of late she has started demanding space on my lap - something that was usually the domain of Jaws or Merry. In fact, she will crowd her way onto my lap now whether Merry is even there first or not. When I work from home, Jaws used to follow me from room to room, or camp in the back hall waiting for me to pass that way. Now Belladonna has taken up that role.

She has her ritual times when she is more clingy than usual though, and one of those times is bedtime. [ profile] atara usually goes to bed before I do, and if I do not follow along soon enough after her, Belladonna will become agitated. She will plant herself between me and my computer keyboard, or just gad about in the computer room occasionally chirping to let me know that I am supposed to be in bed.

When I finally give in to her demands and begin heading back to bed, she alternately runs ahead, stopping to look if I am following or - if I am not moving fast enough - she comes back and rubs around my legs a few times to encourage me to move faster.

We were doing this ritual the other night, and as usual I stopped in the bathroom to brush my teeth and do other pre-bed activities. When I opened the door to head toward the bedroom, Belladonna was camped right outside. The moment I opened the door, she gave a chirp and dashed over to the bedroom door ahead of me. She stood up on her hind feet, chirped excitedly again and pushed the door open with her front paws, leading the way into the bedroom.

She usually hops up onto the bed ahead of me and waits for me to get settled in. Then she demands a minute or two of petting before she ups up and curls up on top of me. She spends the whole night curled up on top of me (usually on my hip or thigh, not on my head). This behaviour is new since our vacation last year. Before that, she would usually jump up on the bed for petting, then she would retire to the foot of the bed and find a clear space where she could avoid contact. If i rolled over and accidentally bumped her at any point, she would jump down and stomp out.

Now, I can roll over and she will readjust her position as needed. If she fall off of me during the night when I shift in bed she will immediately crawl back up on top of me and curl up to sleep again.

AH well, I prefer a clingy cat to an aloof one.

plonq: (Dramatic Mood)
I took a day off work on Friday to deal with the garage door installers. Unfortunately, when the installer showed up, he took one look at the job site and immediately started grousing about the estimator who came by and took measurements for the job. The guy who had come by earlier only measured the doors themselves, and paid no attention to the framing, the placement of lights, the rails, or any of the other important stuff.

The installer informed me that there was no way they could install the doors without redoing the frames, and that unless we moved both of the lights over the doors, they would have to go with low-profile doors on both sides, which would cause problems with the shelving that the estimator had also neglected to take into account. Since it was their fault for screwing up the estimate and measurements, he said that they would not charge for redoing the frames, but there was no way they could install the doors with the equipment and supplies they had brought. They made a follow-up appointment to come out this Thursday to install the doors, with the tacit understanding that I would arrange to move the two lights before they returned (which I did this afternoon).

With the lights moved, they can put full profile doors on both sides. The doors cost less than the low-profile one they were originally supposed to install, so I imagine that difference will partly cover the cost of framing (the price difference was not huge).

On Saturday we ran a few old monitors out to the curb and made a trip back up to Oak Hammock marsh. The marsh was almost completely thawed on this trip, and was sporting a much broader selection of migratory birds. We decided to be ambitious and tackled one of the more ambitious, 10km paths around the marsh. The first 3/4 of the hike was very nice, with lots of interesting things to see, and just enough rest spots along the way, but the last 2-3km of the hike was a gruelling death-march.

It was also, we discovered later, full of ticks. They had not been a concern on earlier visits to the marsh, but we got about a mile from the marsh when [ profile] atara caught one crawling up the side of her face. We pulled off the highway, and I found a couple more in the creases of my clothes, and another on her shirt. We checked the back of the car, and did a quick visual inspection of each other, but those were the only ones we found.

Until we got home.

We hung up our jackets and camera gear out in the back porch, then stripped down in the kitchen and gave each other thorough tick inspections. [ profile] atara found one crawling up my back, but otherwise we and our clothes seemed to be tick-free. When went for dinner later in the evening, she pulled her phone out of her purse and found a tick clinging to it. She caught another tick crawling up her shoulder when we got into the car this afternoon. Hopefully that will be the last of them.

We were kicking ourselves, because we had even talked about inspecting our clothes for ticks before we got in the car.

We were sitting at our computers this morning when it occurred to me that I had not seen Belladonna yet today. I asked [ profile] atara when she had last seen the cat, and she was remembered seeing the cat. She answered tentatively that she was pretty sure she had seen her at dinner, but was less certain when I pointed out that she had not shown her muzzle in here once during last night's raid - and Belladonna likes to make her presence known when we are by our computers.

We swept through the house, checking all of her usual hiding spots, but she was nowhere to be found. We finally concluded that she must have sneaked out the back door while we were carrying monitors to the curb yesterday morning. I went outside to see if she was skulking about in the yard, and I ran into the neighbour loading up his truck. I asked him if he had seen one of our cats outside, and he said that his daughter had recognized one of them wandering around in our yard yesterday morning. Great.

[ profile] atara spoke to the neighbours on the other side, and they also mentioned that they had seen one of our cats wandering down the sidewalk yesterday evening.


We did a quick sweep of the yard and neighbourhood, calling her and looking in and under things as we went, before returning home to file a lost cat report, and printing off a couple of dozen flyers. Originally we started going door to door, ringing the bell and asking the neighbours if they had seen the cat. A couple had mentioned seeing her this morning, each time further from our house. We split up so that I could continue scouring the streets and alleys for our cat while [ profile] atara stuffed our flyers into mailboxes around the neighbourhood.

In the meantime, we moved her litter box and food dish outside in case she was near enough to smell them and come back. I gathered up tools and wandered out to the garage to move those lights, and [ profile] atara decided that she would up the ante outside and put a bit of tuna on a place, since Belladonna loves tuna. She cracked a can of it and put a bit on a plate as cat bait. When she opened the back door to throw the can in the recycling, there on the steps was a rather dishevelled Belladonna, covered in cobwebs and looking rather frightened and miserable.

If she gets out again, we will skip all of the other steps and go straight to the can of tuna.

STOP: if you are following MLP:FIM and have not seen the season finale, this is a huge spoiler.
MLP:FIM Spoilers behind the cut )
plonq: (Flying cat)
Normally I do not end up with two cats curled up together under the desk lamp by my computer, but circumstances led to an unusual accumulation of felines.

Merry is lying in Belladonna's usual spot.

Bella was lying there, but she left to get a drink of water, and while she was away, Merry swooped in and stole the coveted spot right under the lamp. I put a soft pad on the desk when I discovered that the cats seemed to enjoy the warmth cast by the light.

Belladonna was not happy when she returned, and she stood for nearly 10 minutes, staring intently at the other cat who had taken her spot. I don't know if she was trying to intimidate Merry into moving (the latter was blithely ignoring her), or if her little brain was having trouble processing the change in her potential plan. Eventually she circled Merry a couple of times, assessing the situation further, before she finally wedged herself in between the phone and the lamp.

Naturally Merry was completely ignorant of the drama she had just caused, and when she noticed Bella there she responded with, 'OH HAI!"

"We're buddies, right?"
plonq: (Cat-like Typing Mood)
It is going to take some time for the novelty to wear off of being able to shoot pictures of cats/people/kids/whatever without worrying about red-eye.

This is Merry being concerned that there is another cat on the bed with her. I think that she forgets that they exist as soon as they leave her field of vision because every time she sees one of the other cats, she acts like it is the first time in her life she has seen them. She obviously has very little processing power or storage capacity in that peanut-sized brain she houses.
Merry Is Concerned

If I was to go back and take this one again, I think I would try for a genuine close-up rather than cropping the picture like I did here. Belladonna is being a pest today. She is fascinated by the process of [ profile] atara setting up her new computer, and she wants to get involved in every step.
Belladonna Close

This is the new flash in all its flashy goodness, showing that it knows how to trigger remotely. I had expected it to work on IR, or radio but instead the camera's built-in flash triggers it. When I have the flash set remotely, my camera's built-in unit flashes at its lowest setting and triggers the remote flash that way. That seems a little half-baked to me, but it seems to work well enough. On the down side, that means that the fastest I can sync it to remotely is 1/200 of a second because that is the fastest my internal flash will accept.

I think that most of its external use will probably be with the light box. The rest of the time it will probably just be attached to the camera.
plonq: (Happy Mood Too)
Tomorrow we are going to slap a harness and leash on Belladonna and take her for a walk up at Assiniboine Park as part of the Humane Society's annual Paws in Motion fund raiser.

I should have some interesting pictures here by this time tomorrow, and if things go really badly then I might have some video to share as well...  or some news clips, depending on how bad "really badly" turns out to be.

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