Saturday, December 30, 2006

slink shots

Our new kitty, Slink, is nearly seven months old. We got him on December 16. He’s a weirdo.

Slink loves Twitch, follows him around. At first, Twitch managed to evade Slink. Then he permitted Slink to cuddle with him, though I’ve seen Twitch smack the little kitty upside the head. Twitch is so not an alpha cat that he doesn’t raise much of a fuss when Slink pushes him out of the way over the bowl of Purina One.

Slink is voracious. He eats like he has worms. He eats the dog’s treats. When Stanley was getting the hot dogs ready to nuke last night, Slink was so tenacious about trying to get to the hot dogs to eat them Stanley had to move to another section of the kitchen: Slink would not be deterred. This evening, he’s after the salmon.

Here you see the kitties cuddling. Of course, the bed is a bed for one. Twitch’s bed—the bed he ignored for five years until Slink started using it. Slink doesn’t seem to mind that he’s more outside the bed than in. (click image to enlarge)

Twitch and Slink cuddle, or try to, in a small kitty bed

Twitch loves to stretch out in the picture window in the kitchen—on sunny days, he bakes. And he hides there. Or at least he did—Slink found him. (click images to enlarge)

cats vying for a place in the sun

kitties in the window more

Slink is still nervous. The dog barks at the cats when they’re causing trouble. Twitch just looks at Ginger—“Yeah, whatever.” But Slink still flees. Creeps up to the top cellar step and peers in, watching for anything that looks edible. He and Twitch have managed to trash dresser and countertops throughout the house. He’s fitting right in!

posted by lee on 12/30/06 at 02:26 AM

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some things just blow my mind

The Grand Canyon was created during Noah’s flood, according to a book approved for sale at the Grand Canyon National Park. But wait, there’s more:

Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

You can read all about it at PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility).

posted by lee on 12/30/06 at 12:31 AM

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

close encounters of the skunk kind

Ginger wanted to go out, so I let her out and went back into the living room to watch tv with Mom and Dad. Maybe four minutes after I let her out, I smelled that rotten garlicky smell—it came in waves. The wave got to Stanley first so by the time I was getting up to run to the door, he was already there trying to cope with a frantic red 85-pound bundle of smell.

The key was to keep her from running into the living room and ruining the rug and the loveseat, so initially we got her into the downstairs bathroom. I was hoping she’d rub on the rugs in there since I want to get new ones (never, ever get fluffy white rugs for a heavy-use bathroom—what was I thinking?) but alas, she did not. So we hustled her upstairs to the bathroom with the tub. Stanley grabbed the skunk off and we worked on neutralizing the worst of it—the critter got Ginger in her mouth and mostly on the left side of her head, including inside her ear—but there was oily nastiness all over her head. Poor thing.

Stanley went downstairs to get the white vinegar and her bath towels, and we proceeded to soak her and then scrub her down with shampoo and this herbal dog soap that smells wonderful.

Meanwhile, Mom and Dad went to bed. I am so, so happy they closed their bedroom door earlier in the day because I just know Ginger would’ve ended up in the middle of the bed because that’s the place she goes whenever she’s distressed about anything.

What an embarrassing thing to have happen. Stanley and I worked for days and days trying to get the house in as good shape as possible—Stanley painted as much of the bedroom as he could and he repaired the ceiling so it would look as nice as possible in there for Mom and Dad. And though the front room still has lots of boxes in there, we reduced the number to about one-third of what was there. We vacuumed and cleaned and washed all the quilts and dusted and dusted and dusted. There’s still a lot of work we’re doing on the house, but at least it is clean and it did smell good. Pleasant, even, I think.

And we were having a nice, relaxing evening, picked up some Chinese from Little Kitchen in Westport (oh, excuse me, I think it’s Asian Fusion or something like that now—but whatever, the food is great), watching funny Brit sitcoms on PBS, playing with the cats and sneaking pieces of chicken to Ginger. I didn’t even get to say goodnight to my parents—they fled to the bedroom as soon as we got Ginger into the tub (truth be told, they were getting ready to go to bed, anyway—but smelly chaos is not exactly sleep-inducing.) So the evening ended in stench. Our nice, clean house is now our nice, clean, stink-o-rama house.

Stanley looked up skunk stench remedies, and one guy said they use Febreze. So, since despite the skunk off stuff, the vinegar, and the shampoo, we can still smell it on her right ear, we used a bit of Febreze. I’m sure we’ll have to giver her another bath tomorrow evening. I guess that means we’re going up to Boston on Sunday—we have to finish shopping (not much—but enough) and deal with the dog. Unless my sister really wants or needs us up there Saturday evening for some reason. Mom and Dad are taking their own car up there anyway since they want to leave from Boston on Wednesday to go down to Florida.

Guess I’ll go find Slink and play with him for a bit before I wash the dishes (which I can’t do until the towels are done washing).

It’s been a wild couple of weeks—and this is only stuff I’ve been dealing with. Stanley has his own set of maddening events. But today, until the Skunk v Dog main event, was a lot of fun. I thought so, anyway.

posted by lee on 12/23/06 at 04:11 AM

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

roof is done and it is gorgeous (plus a cat)

Demetrius and his crew just left—the roof is finished! They did a great job, and what’s more, charged us exactly the estimate. Demetrius said it should’ve cost us about $240 more for replacing the rotten fascia, but, he said, he ignored that to compensate for the inadvertent leak, which damaged the bedroom ceiling. Which I thought was really classy. Stanley hadn’t asked Demetrius for anything for that—just told him to let it go (he put it in the “shit happens” category). Stanley is still stunned—he thought all the replacement work and plywood that needed to be put down would probably push things up and extra thousand, but it didn’t. The entire job was $8,100, just as he estimated (it cost us an extra $600 for the red shingles, which we were more than willing to pay).

And they cleaned up—everything seems to be neat as a pin, though Demetrius said there might be some stuff that got under the dumpster (which will be removed in the morning!) I can handle cleaning up under the dumpster. Debris, gone. Gutters cleaned out. I am happy.

So now we have a nice, tight roof. A red roof. Which means that now Stanley can repairs ceilings and walls in the “new” part of the house that were damaged during past leaks. Which means the kitchen can finally be painted! I got my Christmas present early (I asked for a new roof). What was cool, too, was that Demetrius estimated the shingles accurately—no extra bundles of shingles sitting around that we would’ve had to pay for (along with the mark-up).

So, if you need a roof and live in Fairfield County and areas within a reasonable distance of Bridgeport, we highly, very highly, recommend Demetrius Pettway Construction (203) 332-7567.

We went to Animals in Distress in Wilton on Saturday. It’s a cat shelter. We were (I was) ready to try again in our quest to find Twitch a buddy. And we did: a beautiful, all-black, six-month-old cat that we’ve name Slink. Because he slinks—if he got any lower to the floor I wouldn’t need a dust mop. I will get his photo up soon—just don’t have time at the moment.

Animals in Distress was very off-putting, kind of depressing in a way beyond any animal shelter is (at least for me—I want to take them all home). I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it was the kitty litter dust hanging in the air—they get the cheapest litter they can delivered by some pet shop. Everything is coated with the dust—our faces and, I’m sure, lungs were when we left. The volunteers were nice enough, though the woman there could’ve handed me the cats I was looking instead of making me wrest them from her!

We wanted a three- or four-month-old kitten, but the young kittens there, though pretty, were scared and hostile—the place was in no way calm ... more of a madhouse ... and I’m sure that had a lot to do with it. Then I spotted this older black cat, about six months old, and he leaned into me. And Stanley really liked him. So, after submitting to a BS interview (like we would spend 90 minutes in a dust-laden, piss-reeking madhouse if we really didn’t want a kitten), we paid our $100 and adopted him.

I keep telling Stanley that as bad as that place seemed, it’s still a world better for the cats than being in the woods or hanging out at a dumpster.

Anyway, we took Slink to our vet today (A Cat’s Place, affiliated with Strawberry Hill Animal Hospital) to get him checked out. Oh, my. Slink has a slight cold, which we knew. But he also has ear infections in both ears, possibly because he had mites at one time (but not now), and fleas. FLEAS! So it’s costing us an extra $150 to deal with the fleas and the ear infection—we have to treat both cats (the dog already got her treatment). So we’re not too crazy about whatever vet AID is using.

And we don’t want to entrust Slink to whatever vet AID uses for the neutering (some vet in Darien), so A Cat’s Place is going to neuter Slink at the shelter rate for us on January 3, which is very nice of them. Twitch and Ginger have received nothing but top-notch care from A Cat’s Place & SHAH over the past five-plus years, so we want to stick with them for everything.

Slink will have cost us about $450 by next month, rather than the less-than-$200 we’d anticipated—all because AID needs a better in-house vet. Ah well. At least Slink loves Twitch—even if Twitch is still semi-ignoring him. Twitch: too cool to play. At least for now. (And I really, really like Slink.)

posted by lee on 12/19/06 at 10:16 PM

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Friday, December 15, 2006

a brand new leak and carbon monoxide

The company we hired to do the roof started last week. Um, Thursday I think. Friday was way too cold to work and we expected Demetrius and his crew (crew, hah! One guy.) to show up bright and early on Saturday since it was going to be a good day for roofing. No show, no call. Nobody on Sunday. A call on Monday: Demetrius has the flu, got it last week. Almost over it, so he and Adrian (the crew) showed up on Tuesday to continue.

Lots of rotten fascia to replace, lots of old stuff to get off. They worked on the eastnorth side first, which is completely over the original house (as in 200 years of roof). They covered the roof with a tarp before leaving because it was due to rain Wednesday.

Rain it did. In our attic and into our bedroom. We had leaks where we never, ever had leaks before. On to our bed, the television, hardwood floor ... I am so damned glad Stanley had a reason to go upstairs and saw what was happening because usually we don’t go upstairs at all during the day. I don’t, anyway. While Stanley spread towels and looked for the source, I called and paged Demetrius. Who showed up fairly quickly to fix stuff. Seems that the crew had created a sort of dam with the gutter and didn’t overlap stuff or whatever, and the damned up water found a opening and started pouring into the attic (which is really a third floor and not really an attic).

While Stanley has been working on painting the bedroom, we hadn’t planned on doing the ceiling just yet. That’s changed—ugly brown stains all over the ceiling. Ack.

All went well Thursday, with about a third of the roof done. Today they worked on the west side. It’s above my office so it was very, very noisy but even so, I managed to get quite a bit of work done. The cat was fascinated with it all and kept running from window to window to watch. Which was ok except that the path leads over my keyboard. Pain in the ass cat.

Demetrius and Adrian covered the roof again before they left—it’s supposed to shower tonight. Stanley came down and said, “I think they covered the chimney.” He was peeking through the crawlspace ceiling to see how far along they’d gotten and noticed the blue of the top a lot higher than expected. So he went out and checked. Sure enough, the chimney is tarped. It’s a good thing Stanley noticed so we could turn off the furnace before our house was filled with carbon monoxide. Demetrius should’ve told us. I know it doesn’t matter much in the summer, but it’s December. Good thing it’s fairly warm tonight—it’s only supposed to go down to 40 degrees.

Tomorrow we’ll point out to Demetrius that if he kills us, he won’t get paid. We only paid $3,100 so far out of a total of $8,100-9,000 (depending on how many repairs have to be made). They have to finish the west side and then there’s the south roof, which is over the addition. Then put the gutters back up.

They are good about cleaning up each day, and are being careful about not smashing my plants. There are two trees we’ve been nursing since seedling status, a holly and a Japanese maple, and I would’ve been upset if they were damaged. And they are repairing stuff instead of just putting shingles over rotted wood, which is great.

I’m looking forward to having a new roof—we can finally paint the kitchen and fix the ceiling in our office without worrying about brown streaks down freshly painted surfaces during the first heavy rain. Will make the aggravation from the noise and the smell (from removing old tar from around the chimney) worth it.

posted by lee on 12/15/06 at 11:16 PM

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

einstein is trying to find the computer mouse

Einstein is 18 weeks old now—it’s amazing to see the changes. She’ll be spending the winter with Leo; I hope he knows he supposed to send me a photo to post every month on the 5th! My parents’ Panama City Beach landlord won’t allow them to have even a cat. Too bad. (Click the image to see an enlargement. And Dad provided the title to this entry.)

Einstein Cat at 18 months

Good news: Oliver was adopted last week. By a family with no other pets. Was mutual love at first sight, we were told. We’re really happy about that. And Twitch is back to his usual self, motoring around the house doing that yowl/sing noise that makes it sound like the room is haunted.

And my parents will be here on December 19th—looking forward to that, too.

And the roof is actually going on. They started yesterday, but couldn’t work today because it’s just so damned cold and windy (it didn’t get above 26 degrees today, with a wind chill of 15-17 degrees). It’s supposed to be in the upper 40s over the next few days, so they’ll be back to work. The bad news is the fascia is rotted where the gutter overflows, so that will have to be replaced. We knew it was bad on the west side, but it’s also bad on the east side. Maybe we should get those leaf guards for the gutters one of these days—better than having them serve as tree nurseries. Don’t know how much they cost, but a guy we met had his done and said it’s worth it.

We had our birthday celebration last night (Helene, Stanley, and I have birthdays close together, so we always celebrate with a dinner), which was fun. We went to Jani Restaurant so I could have sushi and Stanley and Helene could have Chinese food. Great food. Today it’s Stanley’s birthday—but we’re not doing anything until it’s warmer out (his choice, and I don’t feel well—a cold settling in, I think—so I didn’t argue with him). We’ll just tuck in, eat spaghetti and watch tv. Then tomorrow or Sunday we’ll go see The Fountain (before it goes away) and go out to dinner.

posted by lee on 12/09/06 at 12:21 AM

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

catching up and other miscellany

First, I should say that Twitch is much better. He’s still not doing his daily tear around the house singing (or his kitty version of singing), but he’s definitely on the mend. Oliver is still at the Westport Humane Society—hope he gets a good home soon. I also got a new batch of cats looking for homes from Julie (a Humane Society volunteer), which I’ll get up on the Pets page tomorrow.

We dodged the bullet—no major storm for us. It didn’t even thunder, much to Ginger’s relief. I talked to a friend who lives in St. Louis and he said they got socked with about two inches of ice underneath several inches of snow—the ice storm knocked out power to 50,000. He was lucky. We got about one-third of an inch of rain, some wind (I don’t know if we lost any branches, too dark to tell), and a damned gloomy day, but that was it. The moon is visible now.

Next week will be a crazy week. I hope. We need a new roof (we’ve needed it for four or five years now) and last month we finally bit the bullet, got some estimates, and hired a roofing company out of Bridgeport to do it because we like the owner: Demetrius Pettway of Demetrius Pettway Construction. He was hoping to get to us before Thanksgiving, but we knew that wasn’t going to happen. He said he’d ask us for our deposit a couple of days before starting—and we paid the deposit yesterday. So, beginning next Tuesday or Wednesday, weather permitting, they’ll start our new roof. Hurray!

It’s going to cost us a little more than the estimates because we want a red roof, and the only red shingles that could be gotten are GAF 50-year shingles. So, it’s costing about $600 more than anticipated. Which is ok—we really want a red roof (we have one now). And we’ll be in our hundreds before we have to replace the roof again, barring natural disasters of the hurricane or tornado kind. Oh joy, no more buckets under leaks, and we can paint some walls without them decorated with brown drip tracks.

So, yeah, it’s going to be a PITA for a few days, and the dog will probably bark until she squeaks, and the real pain will come when we have to pay off the roof, but we really don’t have any choice.

Speaking of Ginger ...  ugh, ticks. We went up to Natick for Thanksgiving, and the dogs went for walks at Elm Bank as they usually do, but the place is loaded with ticks. Jeff took one off her on Saturday and we (well, Stanley, since I’m such a squeamish ass when I can be) took two more fat ones off her over the past couple of days as we’ve found them. Definitely we’ll put the tick crap on her before we head up there for Christmas, yuck. I’m surprised none of our Natick relatives have gotten Lyme, knock on wood. We don’t have ticks around our house because we don’t have any deer close by. At least not over the past five or six years. Big rats is all they are ...

And, in the world of work, we’re in the finishing stages of moving a bunch of stores to a new server, creating two new stores, and optimizing the existing stores, which has been an interesting process. I hate cgi-based shopping carts, and that’s what we’ve been moving. I’ll be glad when they’re all done so I can move on to the next development phase of this ecommerce project, which I’ve been anxious to continue working on.

And we started a website for a new client, rescuing a shitty design done by Lo ... s. I was shocked at how bad the work is—I thought they were better than the stuff they turned over. Maybe they had very inexperienced tyros on this project or something ... all table-based, very little CSS, definitely not scalable, and fugly, sloppy spacing, spelling, and screwed up characters—the top of the screen was all images, no text until nearly below the fold, no balance, the logo uses an ugly calligraphy font for a high tech firm and the kerning sucks and has a double swoosh ... when it’s all finished, I’d like to do a before and after though our client is so embarrassed by what Lo ... s came up with I don’t know if she’ll want me to.

I wonder if that company does any QA before they let stuff go out the door. Doesn’t look like it. There’s no excuse for such shoddy work—especially not at the rates they charge.

And I have to do a bunch of ExpressionEngine upgrades—not hard to do, just time consuming. And all that bloody bookkeeping.

And I still have tulips to get into the ground before it freezes up. Lots to do—my parents are visiting around Christmas, so I have plenty of incentive to get stuff done as soon as I can. I’m really looking forward to their visit.

So, am I overextended already this month? [drool]

posted by lee on 12/02/06 at 04:59 AM

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