Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The continuing Harry adventure

    As of yesterday, Amelia quit hissing at Harry, which was a nice improvement. Fortunately, for indoor cat training purposes, it was raining the past two days, so Harry was pretty much OK with staying indoors. I even kept him inside all night by the simple means of leaving the lights on. (I sleep with a sleep mask anyway.) I found on an earlier attempt to keep him in all night that the cats were very mellow and nap oriented as long as I had the lights on but, nocturnal beasts that they are, started acting up once I turned them off. Leaving them on worked pretty well, although I woke up every two hours like a new parent myself.
    Today it isn't raining and Harry started acting like a butthole. I played with him with a shoestring and he loved the hell out of it but got so amped up that I finally let him out. He's been in and out all day, but is in at the moment. It's not like he's romping and carousing; mainly he's just napping out there. Still, he batted at Amelia again, somewhat more seriously than before, so it's probably best to let him out for large chunks of the day for her greater equanimity. Honestly, I have no idea whether he will be amenable to becoming an inside cat in the long run. I think the transition is going pretty well on the whole and I am reasonably optimistic. It occurs to me too that I have a good reason not to rush: he has to go back for booster shots in 2 1/2 weeks, and my best chance of getting him back in the carrier is to nab him coming in the door again. This of course requires him to be out the door first. Logic!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


    I probably have mentioned Herb Nix and Gert's Lounge. Back in the day in Philly, my friends (usually Robert Rex and Mike Fiday) liked to go down there to listen to jazz. Gert's was on South Street, but not on the trendy, touristy part, which stopped about at 8th St. This was on the other side of Broad Street (which takes the place of 14th) near the Southwark projects. So not the most touristic of neighborhoods. But we always felt welcome; nobody seemed uncomfortable with geeky 20-something white boys being in the house, nor did they in any way make us feel uncomfortable.
    Also the saxophone player was a 20-something white boy in a suit. His name was John Simon, and he was a fine player. But this story is about Herb Nix. I am reasonably sure I posted this before because I think I remember writing about Herb getting plastered and/or high and talking about singing in the church choir in the morning and us thinking he was kidding. I found in his obituary (where I was also reminded about John Simon's name) that he wasn't kidding. I also remember a dapper gent named Jeff always singing what I remember as "A Foggy Night In London Town," although apparently that isn't the title. I like it Jeff's way better, though.
    This isn't about that, either. This is about the Hammond B3, which Herb played like a master. And the oddity that I never figured out that the bass part that came out of the organ was played by Herb's feet. I always thought that he was playing it with his left hand. I was then and am now a person who always focuses on the keyboard players hands, so maybe I just didn't notice, or couldn't see that he was working his feet in tempo with the bass line. But I'm also sure I remember that he regularly wore black slip-on loafers. It's odd that I would have noticed his feet to that degree but not what they were doing when he was playing. But it was long ago; perhaps the Hammond was turned such that we could see his hands but not his feet.
    But of course, what I feel foolish about is that I never asked. I mean, how hard is, "How do you get that wonderful bass line out of this organ, Mr. Nix?" More to the point, it never occurred to me to ask; I just assumed I knew what I was seeing. And that's what I most likely posted about when I found out a year or so ago that you play the bass line on a B3 with your feet. And I still feel stupid for not knowing this before.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Not the best of kitchen companions

    Harry is turning out to be a pretty good house cat so far. Amelia is less thrilled about the arrangement, having had the house to herself for nearly 6 years or half her life. But I think she'll come around. There's one adjustment I have to make that I wasn't expecting, however.
    Any food preparations I undertake, he follows me around and cries if I don't give him some. As I'm nearly always cutting up fruits and vegetables, neither of which he should be eating, this results in a lot of crying. Crying isn't the ideal world; it's not pathetic, but cute. But it might get a little tiresome if this behavior stretches out into years as opposed to days or weeks. Perhaps I'll finally break down and buy cat treats. The trick would be finding ones that are healthy, not made in China, and not costing a million dollars. Oh well; the kitties are worth it!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


    To start with, things are fine with the new kitty. I don't know if he'll adapt to being an inside kitty eventually, but at least he does OK inside. He's already jumped up on the kitchen counter, and for some reason he desperately wants to get in the refrigerator, but in general he isn't any problem. I have yet to see him use the litter box, which is a worry, but I understand that they all figure it out pretty easily. I left him and Amelia unsupervised for an hour so I could go to the store. I was expecting to return to a pile of rubble, but they were totally mellow. Amelia was napping; Harry was itching to be outside again. He's stayed out there all day, but I check on him. Leopards do a lot of napping, apparently.
    So the Harry and Amelia situation didn't inspire the Yeek. It's Aldi's gluten-free baking mix. I tried it for pancakes and they were nasty. I tried it today for a pizza crust; it's nasty. It tastes like stale saltines or stale bran flakes. Although this does constitute tasting like wheat, I'm not sure the Aldi people (or Bisquick, whom they are imitating) would be pleased to hear it.
    I don't mention it just to whine and moan; I'm trying to come up with a fix, and I'm failing. I ran into somebody from the celiac group and he mentioned that he used this very same mix to make a berry cobbler that he loves. I know I tried using it for my various dessert projects last year such as pumpkin cobbler; it wasn't great but it wasn't awful. So maybe adding honey would help. Stale saltines or bran flakes, you just throw out. I'm not sure sweetener would help. Also there's like a coating on the tongue and the teeth. On the whole, plenty of yeek. I still have almost an entire package. I guess I'll use it for desserty type things, and then never bother with it again. Or maybe I'll raspberrysize some pancakes; that probably won't work either, but it can't hurt!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


    After only two months and a week according to this very self-same blog, I caught Harry and took him to the spay/neuter clinic at Pawmetto Lifeline (no-kill pet adoption facility). As it turned out, the fact that their Saturday hours coincided with dialysis time was absolutely perfect, a fact I figured out right after I complained about it yesterday. Only worrying thing would have been if Dad had had to wait an hour to be called back, but for the third session in a row, they called him right smack on time. Expect the Apocalypse.
    The Harry part was easy. I had left the cat carrier against the bed with the door open and the door side up. All I needed was for the little schmoe to try to get in with me, which he has been doing every time I get home from dropping Dad off for the last week or so. Harry did not disappoint and I scooped him up and slid him in and got the door shut before he could jump out again. That'll teach you to follow people into their houses!
    I took him to Pawmetto Lifeline, which required more time on the expressway than I would have preferred. I really thought he was going to make good on the Houdini name; he was clawing on the door of the carrier so hard, I was starting to worry. I had had it on the seat so he could see me, but that didn't seem to be calming him, so I tipped it (gently) down into the passenger side, door side up again, so at least he would have to work harder. It calmed him a little.
    We had a significant wait at the clinic, but he calmed down a lot once he was no longer moving. The other animals didn't bother him especially. The upshot was that he has nothing communicable and no chip, and now he has had his shots. Boosters are required in three weeks (oh joy!). He's been eating like a longshoreman since I got him home, and begging to be let out. He and Amelia have been pretty cool so far. I have no idea if he knows what the litter box is for. Considering how much he ate, I expect I'll find out directly.
    The point is that if he can be an indoor cat, now he may. If he can't, at least I know he's healthy. Having had his shots, he should stay that way. He's an incredible sweetheart; maybe if he and Amelia can't get along I can find somebody else to adopt him. Whatever happens, it was a good day.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Good advices

    My advice from official (or anyway professional) sources on how to capture Harry the cat were the following: 1) Trap him somehow (you know, I figured that part out for myself) and 2) don't feed him, and then put tasty tuna in the cat carrier. The latter seems mean and also like the start of Calvin and Hobbes. Hey! I like it then!
    Really, I'm just hitting a lot of bad luck. On the days when I could take him to the vet, I get a conflict over and over again. Today, the HVAC guy is coming. Eventually. They'll call. Monday, Dad has an appointment. At dawn. I did find out that the no-kill shelter where Alice got Amelia long ago has vet services Friday and Saturday, but of course the Saturday hours conflict with dialysis. Friday afternoon hours would be great... if the HVAC guy would get here. Grrrrr.
    I was up before dawn this morning to be ready in case I could cajole Harry into staying still long enough to be put in the cat carrier, but no. Perhaps it's time for tuna after all!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

You have been absorbed

    This is another Civilization post; further apologies. For the first two versions of Civilization, your civilization was built town by town. That is, each town had borders, which never changed, and your country was as big as the sum of all the areas controlled by each town.
    With Civilization III, there was a change. As you built neat stuff, you also built culture and as you built culture, the borders of each town spread farther and farther out (or is that further?) until your nation has an unbroken territory. Build enough neat stuff and your borders get pretty far (or is that fur?) from your towns. Eventually, if your culture is groovy enough, you start causing rebellions in neighboring towns, and they quit their country and join yours.
    However! I never saw a rival capital quit and join up, until yesterday. I was being Persia (second best to India, so far) and Athens rebelled and joined my country. I had been intentionally building close to them, but only with the idea of getting them to expand away from me. I had no idea that I could absorb a capital. I don't even know how it's possible. (The capital is where your culture is most concentrated, so it shouldn't be, uh, culturally dominable.) But it happened. Now I want to do it every time!
    Sorry again. Really, I'll try to shut up about Civilization IV now. Really!