Monday, April 30, 2007

Have a Willie Nice Day

Birthday wishes for Willie Nelson, who turns 74 today. Willie does not need the last name here, he is the closest thing we have to royalty in Austin (even though he lives a few miles down the road). They might as well just go ahead and build a statue for him. What are they waiting for? Let the man see his statue. Willie has plenty to do with making Austin what it is, and what it has been. He's been through a hell of a lot of stuff, including being the recent victim of the World's Easiest Drug Bust. Instead of a Willie video, I present this mp3 from Bruce Robison called "What Would Willie Do?", lyrics below. It's a funny song.
Listen to "What Would Willie Do"
I was lost, in trouble and strife
I heard a voice and it changed my life
And now it's a brand new day,
And I ain't ashamed to say
You're not alone, when you're down and out
I think you know who I'm talkin' about
When I don't know how 'll get through
I ask myself, what would Willie do?

Long ago, he came unto us
His words were simple,
But they went right through us
And the whole world sang along,
But then they didn't want to hear his songs
He was gone, and we thought we'd lost him
But he'd just grew his hair and moved to Austin
And all of the people smiled

They came to hear him sing from miles
And like a miracle all the rednecks and the hippies,
From New York city down to Mississippi
Stood together and raised a brew
When your skies are grey,
What would Willie do?

You know sometimes I wonder,
When I ain't gettin' nowhere
What would Willie do,
When things get too much to bear
I can see him sittin' on his lonely old bus
And he's got his problems just like any of us
I bet he'd just take a deep breath,
And he'd let 'em all go
And then he'd take another deep breath,
And he'd let 'em all go
And then he'd take another deep breath,
And he'd hold it...
And then I bet he'd feel hungry,
In a way that seems strange
Yes hungry, for all the things he just can't change

Like the time he passed out in his own bedroom
And his ex-wife sewed him up in the sheet,
And she beat him with a broom,
And he forgave her
And you think that that's rough,
Then the IRS came and they took away all his stuff
They took his golf course and his recording studio
And he just went on out and did another show
So when it's all coming down on you
I think you'd better ask yourself,
What would Willie do?

What would Willie do, when it's all gone wrong
The answer is in the words of a sad country song
There's millions down that road,
And with a word he's gonna lighten their load
He loves all the people, the rank and the randy
If you don't believe it, take a look at the family
They'll tell you that it's true
When it's all gone wrong, what would Willie do?

What would Willie do, he'd take a little time
And talk to old Rooster as they drive on down the line
There's millions down that road,
And with a word he's gonna lighten their load
He loves all the people no matter their races
Hell he even made a hit country song with Julio Iglesias
And that ain't easy to do

When it's all too much
When the game gets rough
When they call your bluff
What would Willie do?

Sound file from Commotion PR

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Eeyore gets a party headdress

Eeyore's Birthday Party was really fun this year (is it ever NOT fun? The answer is No.). It's all about taking your personal weirdness to the next level (at least fashion-wise), costumes encouraged. Bring a drum, egg shaker, gourd, gong, cowbell, empty rum bottles, pots and pans from the kitchen... anything that you bang on to keep the rhythms going. It's very people- and animal centric and very non-corporate. Lots of games, costume contest, hula hoops for all ages, giant puzzles and lots more for the kids of all ages, including a real live Eeyore for petting. All the beer sold is from local micro-brews, and it is very good! Mmmmmm. Beeeeer. Also lots of really good food with plenty of veggie selections, and all the food and drink sold benefits various charities.

Costumes only limited by the imagination, and there is not actually a law here against female toplessness (the laws seem to depend a lot on the circumstances), so there are quite a few women who just wear paint on top, like this lovely "Earth Mother" that my husband enjoyed photographing. Lots and lots of dogs in attendance, of course, but we did see one cat. See the pic below. The guys did an Adam & Steve theme, and the kitty had some hair coloring applied (green), but I'm not sure the cat had a themed role to play, maybe Garden of Eden foliage? It just rode around on "Steve's" shoulders, just being the most well-behaved cat in the world. Our cats would never do something like that.

There was a great band there called Rattletree, a Zimbabwean-style marimba group playing 5 marimbas handmade from wood and sewer pipes, also drums. Fantastic! This dog was also celebrating his birthday.
Here is some video I shot, just trying to capture what it's like being in the drum circle.

Also trying to prove what a bad filmmaker I am. In the next one I was trying to capture those fantastic tail feathers!

Eeyore's Birthday Party website

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Hug a Tree Today

Image from "The Most Magnificent Trees in the World" on Neat-o-Rama. You must see them!
Today is Arbor Day, a day to plant trees, celebrate trees, and generally raise awareness about them. We dearly love the Live Oak trees they have here, but don't have any in the yard... except for this little guy (pictured). We will not live long enough to get any shade out of him, but he's been planted, and is now being dwarfed by a sunflower. (Soon the sunflowers will tower over us as well)

Click here to find out your State Tree if you don't already know it. The State Tree of Texas is the Pecan. I hear it pronounced "PEE-can" a lot, rhyming with "man" (emphasis can be on either syllable) rather than "peh-CAWN". In this part of Texas they absolutely love their trees. It's really hot and sunny, and a shady tree is a thing of great value. I have seen many fences and even houses with pieces carved out to protect a tree, or even a big tree limb. There are just enough trees to have something to nurture. It is not "tree-challenged" like parts further out west.

Alternate Arbor Day link

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Catblogging - Porch Prince Henry

Prince Henry is trying out his new throne. We've added a special black nylon surface for maximum sun ray heat absorption, and arranged the throne for optimum late April solar exposure during scheduled porch activity.

Henry gives his approval. You are granted an audience with the Prince as long as you will provide petting. There will be no sharing of the throne during peak sunspot activity.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Catymology - - -

Judges - sometimes just a book in the Bible

[LINK] A man was arrested for trying to use a stolen credit card, and gets released because he can recite some Bible verses. When it was stated that the man was a church-goer, he was asked to recite the 23rd Psalm and he was able to do it. (Well... it's not as though that's not one of the most well-known passages from the Bible!!! I recited it on the radio way back when I first learned to talk!). The man has to reappear in court but didn't have to pay anything to be released.

Wonder if he memorized that from a stolen Bible? And why didn't he know the verse that says "Thou shalt not steal"?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Shameless plea for votes

UPDATE April 29: Our little sweetie won Catmodel of the Week. Thanks to everyone who voted.

My little Duncan, who passed away on the 12th, is featured in the Carnival of the Cats Banner this week. Whichever cat gets the most clicks gets to be "Catmodel of the Week" and he has some very cute competition -- so, this week -- if you are so inclined, give a click (vote) to the little black cutie-pie laying on his back. We called that pose his "cute mode".

One sheet won't wipe Rove off your hand

I have to hand it to Sheryl Crow. She got me with those "suggestions". First of all, I would need more than one sheet of toilet paper to wipe my hand off after touching the Turd Blossom. But, in spite of that, I couldn't really tell that she was joking when she wrote these things [FULL POST]:
I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming.

Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required. When presenting this idea to my younger brother, whose judgment I trust implicitly, he proposed taking it one step further. I believe his quote was, "how bout just washing the one square out."

I also like the idea of not using paper napkins, which happen to be made from virgin wood and represent the height of wastefulness. I have designed a clothing line that has what's called a "dining sleeve." The sleeve is detachable and can be replaced with another "dining sleeve," after usage. The design will offer the "diner" the convenience of wiping his mouth on his sleeve rather than throwing out yet another barely used paper product. I think this idea could also translate quite well to those suffering with an annoying head cold.

This next idea I have been saving but I will share it with you if you promise not to steal it. It is my latest, very exciting idea for creating incentive for us all to minimize our own personal carbon footprints. It's a reality show. (I feel pretty certain NO ONE has thought of this yet!). Here is the premise: the contest consists of 10 people who are competing for the top spot as the person who lives the "greenest" life. This will be reflected in the contestant's home, his business, and his own personal living style. The winner of this challenging, prestigious, contest would receive what??.... a recording contract!!!!!

I was thinking that she had to be an absolute clueless bimbo to say that stuff, but that goes to show you that sometimes you really need to read the person's expression to get the real meaning.

Here's the confession at the end of this post. Good ones, Sheryl!

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Back to The Future in Iowa

[FULL ARTICLE] Riverside, Iowa, is preparing for a blessed event, a second coming of sorts. In 200+ years, on March 22, Captain James T. Kirk will be born there. Like many heroes of legend, especially those are fictional, they don't know his real birthday or even what town in Iowa he is supposed to be born, but the specifics were decided post-Roddenberry. Fans can even visit where Kirk will allegedly be conceived, under a pool table at Murphy's bar, and buy vials of "Kirk dirt". I believe Shatner might tell a person who'd pay $10 for that to "Get a life".

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Oh, Mr. Cheney...

Your limo is here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nickel Creek moving on

We drove down to San Antonio (actually, the tiny nearby town of Helotes, TX) to see Nickel Creek on the Farewell Tour. Very bittersweet, they are our favorite band. They made their first record together when the youngest two were just 8 years old, and have been touring and recording as a band for ~18 years. It's easy to understand why they need to move on in order to grow. They are like an old married couple whose brother has always lived with them. Their stage banter was definitely unhinged with hilarious, joking jabs at each other... in fun, but the underlying tension was there and for this tour they are not hiding it on stage. [POSTSCRIPT: I should add that nobody in the band has ever been married to, or romantically linked to any other band member. The Watkinses are brother and sister. The "old married couple" analogy just refers to relationships of people who have been together for a long, long time.]
Their audience is predominately very young, and very devoted... will a few sprinkles of us older, parent or grandparent-aged very devoted folks. Seems like most of them are players, and many were inspired to play by this very band. I have to say that this is the first concert I've ever attended where I didn't notice anyone being drunk or otherwise inebriated... but everyone had a fantastic time. Yes, I know lots of them were too young to drink... that doesn't explain it... it's just that the crowd was not there for the PURPOSE of drinking. It was all about the adoration of the band and their music.

Links: [Nickel Creek Website] and better for listening: [Creek on MySpace] [Chris Thile on MySpace] [Sara Watkins on MySpace] [Sean Watkins on MySpace]

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Final footprints

A scientist (reproductive biologist) has issued an opinion that human cremation is actually worse for the environment than burial, provided that burial means a simple cardboard under a tree. [LINK]. He points out that 110 lbs. (50 kg) of CO2 are released through this process. OK, well, I suppose I can agree with that... if people were buried that way. But instead, they are buried in intentionally non-biodegradable caskets that take up a good amount of real estate.

He suggests that donating yourself as "forest food" (the cardboard box) is a good option for the environment. If I could, I would donate myself to be fed to the animals at the Austin Zoo. Neither of these options would appeal to 99.99999% of people. My mother, for example, was strongly opposed to being cremated because she got more fundamentalist in her later years and thought she would need her body for the rapture. I looked into the option, years ago, of donating my body to a university for science -- but found that they, instead of accepting it as a donation, would have charged ME a fee to do that. So, my thinking now is to be cremated, leave my final footprint, CO2 and all, on the earth, and be sprinkled somewhere. About a year ago, we sprinkled my friend, ev brown, over at Rock Island at Zilker Park. That's a fitting place for me someday too. (Look back at this post for more on that).

Yesterday I picked up the cremains of my cat, Duncan. They were provided in a little wooden box. We are discussing where to sprinkle/bury them, and have pretty much decided to do it at the base of this vine. It grows right next to the screened porch, providing shade and privacy. It forms a little area like an alcove which is visible from the porch but not so visible or even very accessible from the outside path. We are trying to get the vine to grow into an upstairs trellis that doesn't exist yet, something to shade the windows. (The design plans for that are very much under discussion!) It's a lovely, strong vine with no thorns. He will have a second life as a well-loved plant.

Find more posts about Duncan.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Catblogging - Alex is filling out his form

Alex would like you all to know that he is doing MUCH better. He hasn't gotten much attention on the blog lately because of Duncan being in a lot worse shape, but Alex has given up a couple of those 9 lives in the past few months and is now coasting along with just a few bumps here and there. Last November, his vet OD'd him on Flagyl and he nearly left us, got over that for the most part, but was still spiraling down with malabsorption and weight loss so that by February we thought we were going to lose him anyway. Then we changed his food (and I guess the B-12 shots helped too) and he has gained nearly 2 lbs! That's a lot for a little guy who was down to 6 lbs. and has weighed as much as 12 lbs. in the past.

Alex is 16 years old, and he's starting to look it, but he's been having some crazy hours, climbing the wall, and being feisty and cantankerous. That's our Alex. Feeling better and looking better too.

He says "take a picture, it lasts longer", so I did. Here's looking at you, Alex. (I am thinking that Alex should have a pair of sunglasses. It would complete his look. What do you think?)

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at The Scratching Post - - -

Faux Pas? You decide!

This is amusing. Fox News, that bastion of family values, while ragging on Leonardo DiCaprio for not giving as much money to charity as Britney Spears, uses a picture of her with her nipple out during a wardrobe malfunction!

Something to celebrate

Today, April 19, is National Garlic Day. I don't know the origin of this holiday but garlic is worth the attention and all the media coverage it will receive today. [grin] OK, maybe Target and Wal-Mart won't have the card racks decked out, but maybe they should. Garlic has lots of health benefits and it's also very tasty. It probably does NOT keep away evil spirits and vampires, so wearing it as an accessory is not recommended.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Who is to blame?

Every time there's an awful tragedy, the first reaction of most people is to try and find someone who is to blame. Someone or something must be held accountable. This is true whether it's an accident or someone has intentionally done a horrible deed.

Did this happen because of not-very-strict gun control laws? Is it because the guy was a loner, or because he was Asian? Because he was Americanized? Depressed? Is it the fault of the University President or the Head of Security? Is it the fault of NBC for not getting him locked up after receiving a package of photos and videos showing the future killer with weapons and ranting against rich people?

Should his writings have gotten him locked up? How can you say? Stephen King writes some pretty scary stuff. Quentin Tarantino comes up with some story lines that scare the crap out of people, and that's why people pay for their products and want to meet them. Should they be locked up?

Depressed and a loner? So am I.

Is it our gun culture? I hate guns. I fucking hate them. BUT... I am a law-abiding citizen who could pass a background check and I could have a gun if I wanted one. Then... if I got more depressed and more panic-stricken and stressed, and maybe angry... really really angry... I could take that gun (that I will never own) and create a whole world of hurt and death and destruction that will have permanent damages, take lives and ruin others. Anger can do that to a normally peaceful, easy-going person. Have you ever caught a long-time lover or spouse having an affair? Has someone hurt one of your children, parents or siblings? Hurt them badly? Have you personally felt so much rage and anger that it was like something else took control of your rational faculties? Those are the kinds of things that make people temporarily crazy enough to do something VERY stupid and dangerous to themselves and others.

It takes a lot less than that to push some people over the edge. Maybe a romantic rejection or getting a bad grade or getting cut off in traffic is enough. I just read about a man who shot at some Firemen because they refused to get his cat out of a tree. The point is, how can anyone stop these things from happening?

Making guns a lot harder to get is a good start. Guns DO kill people. They not only kill people, they make it very easy for PEOPLE to kill people. Good grief, "why there should be a lot fewer guns in the hands of people" is a topic for volumes of work.

As for the deeply disturbed condition of this young man's brain -- I don't know who or what can be blamed for that. Certainly it's not one isolated thing. Another topic for a stack of books.

Graphic from fan art.
Blame! wiki

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Comedy Central more informative than "real" TV news.

Don't you love survey results? Always something interesting turns up. This one is from the Pew Center for the People & the Press [full article on Editor & Publisher]. It's a general news knowledge survey, and the results show that people who watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report tied with people who read major newspapers when it comes to knowledgeability! Very interesting, considering that those don't claim to be news shows... whereas the least knowledgeable people were regular watchers of morning news shows and Fox News! Well, golly-gosh-darn, hoodathunkit? OK, the Fox News part is not surprising at all, but I'm a little surprised that they were able to beat out the morning news shows.

Check it out, there are some interesting results. For instance, only 69% knew that Cheney was Vice-President. Sometimes I wish I didn't know that. Ignorance might be bliss.

Graphic from Colbert/Stewart 2008

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Truck Stop tigers and Zoo noses

We had a day at the Austin Zoo on Saturday. The Austin Zoo is a rescue facility, they take exotic animals that have been pets, used in circuses, roadside zoos, and other situations where they never should have found themselves. Mostly all examples of man's inhumanity. There are signs on some of the cages/habitats that explain where those particular animals came from. Here's what one of the tiger signs says. Some of these little stories are incredible:

Ramah was rescued from a roadside breeding "zoo" in Texas. He was malnourished and had a skin infection. His littermates did not fare as well. All are now deceased.

Taj was bought from a Truck Stop in west Texas. The owner soon after released him to our care.

While purchasing an exotic pet may be well intentioned, it encourages ill-advised or illegal breeding operations. Many end up in sanctuaries like Austin Zoo.

Here's one of the tigers being a big sweetie to someone who, for some reason, thought it was OK to get up close and personal with some of the animals. First he ran up and down outside the cage, with the tiger following, then he gave the tiger stritches and headbutts... and vice versa. I don't know if he was acquainted with some of these animals or not. Seems a bit ill-advised, to say the least.

Here is the history of a couple of the bears:

Babs and Bruno were bought at a public auction from an establishment called "Noah's Land". Upon "introducing" herself to her new bear cubs, the purchaser was bitten by Babs and lost her finger. Not wanting the bears after this incident, the were sent to Wayne's World. The SPCA then confiscated the young bears and sent them to live here.

Wayne's World is some kind of a small-time tourist zoo near Corpus Christi. Noah's Land is another "rescue" place that has needed a lots of its animals rescued (more about Noah's Land at the bottom of the post*). Very sad. Check out the following story on the lions. You have to wonder what some people are using for a brain:

Molly was sent to the zoo from Plano ISD following a confiscation from a drug dealer.

Leroy was donated by Black Beauty Ranch after being rescued from a junkyard in Arkansas. Leroy and his mate at the time were housed in tiny cages and used as "guards" for the junkyard. Following an attack by the female in which the owner's daughter was injured, Leroy's mate was shot and killed. Authorities responded and promptly seized Leroy.

Nayla was another of our big cats used in the traveling religious circus before making her way to the Austin Zoo. She was donated in 2000 via PETA.

Amara is an ex-pet donated to another adoption and rescue center. She was transferred from that facility to the zoo in 2003. Amara is the highly playful "small kitten".

Can you imagine that guy being used to guard a junkyard? I mean, what could go wrong? [sheeesh] Black Beauty Ranch is Cleveland Amory's (Fund For Animals) sanctuary.

My blog post on the Austin Zoo from two years ago.
Lions and Tigers and Honey Bears

*Noah's Land excerpt, article [full text here] from 2002
Tax-exempt "preserves": Noah's Land Wildlife Park in Harwood, Texas, currently under USDA investigation, calls itself a sanctuary, enjoys tax-exempt status, and solicits donations. When Cheri Watson took over in 1998, Noah's Land was in bad shape. Watson lacked the money-and enough paying customers-to improve things. She gained nonprofit designation in May 2000, but conditions aren't much better. "We took in way too many animals," she says, "including four tigers that had been kept in a two-horse trailer for six months [that was] never cleaned out." Watson allowed her cats to breed. Within two years, Noah's Land produced 26 new tiger cubs, infuriating regional accredited sanctuaries already swamped with unwanted Bengals. America now has an estimated 10,000 or more generic tigers in roadside zoos and backyard cages, virtually all of them mutts with no conservation value and often suffering painful physical defects from inbreeding. The 275-acre Noah's Land has 48 big cats, six bears, several primates, between 200 and 300 exotic deer and antelopes, and scores of feral pigs that are fed to the predators. Some of the caged animals exist in grim squalor, including cell-like cinderblock cages, but Watson rejects offers by legitimate sanctuaries to take them. "We're still having growing pains," she says. "We haven't got a foothold on the fundraising yet, but we will improve."
I'm not really sure what the current status of Noah's Land is. I know that lots of the animals at Austin Zoo were listed as being rescued from there.

Here's one of the fun parts of going to this zoo, getting to feel like a little kid and feed certain of the animals (these are hog deer, they also have goats, llamas, sheep and pot-bellied pigs that you can hand-feed with approved "chow"). What sweet little faces!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A hard Winter

Finally starting to come back on grid after Duncan's passing. Friday (and Thursday night, of course) I spent crying most of the time. It just wouldn't stop for long. That's my M.O. though -- hold back and keep a stiff upper lip until, at some point, something opens up the floodgates. The transition I am needing to make here is that the 11 years of memories of this little person (and it IS a person to me) need to begin to overpower the memory of the last half-hour spent with him.

I know that everything dies, everyone dies, but I am not so good at being physically close to the end process. I do not want to retain the memory of watching that part, even though I know it is natural and necessary. For the past 5 months, our little guy has been terminally ill, this we knew. We were occasionally given some false hope of his condition improving or stabilizing a bit through medications... barely a glimmer of hope... but basically for the last 5 months -- every morning, noon and night, I'd wonder if there would be one more day for him.

To add to this, another of our cats was seriously ill during this period, near death twice in fact, but I'm happy to report that he has seen some improvement and we are very happy with his progress (He can't be cured but right now he's not dying and his condition is being somewhat managed). However, it was just another thing in the pile-on of stressors: thousands of dollars to pay in real estate taxes, thousands of dollars in cat medical bills, thousands of dollars to Uncle Sam, MY medical bills, thousands for home repair, and half my customers not being able to pay me (or just forgetting!!), and generally being spread waaaay too thin trying to keep up with work responsibilities, working 7 days a week every week, medication schedules, and constant worry. One of my "people" doctors, when I told her about my stress and anxiety and how I had this really sick cat and not getting much sleep, etc., here's what she said: "Just stick him out in the garage or outside. It's only a cat." It's only a cat. Yeah. I guess having a stone for a heart would probably solve all my problems. Stop worrying = stop caring. It would probably work.

I suppose that I really do have one less worry... well, two, if you count his medical bills... but I still don't feel relieved or comforted. I don't believe that loved ones go to "heaven" to look down on us or wait for us. They are just simply gone. Gone except for the memories we have. That's how they live on. That's the "spirit" of the dead... it's what's conjured up in our minds and hearts when we think of the person, see their photo, look at their art or writings, or just read what someone has written about them in a blog post. I'm hoping that soon I can push that half-hour out of the way and look back on the rest of the 11 years that we had. That's when the healing will start. Love hurts. Always has and always will.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Catblogging - Duncan, in memoriam

Duncan was 11 years old. I got him as a kitten from the no-kill shelter where I worked once a week. He came there with his mom and litter-mates from the pound, and he was the last holdout for getting adopted. He still would have been my first pick. He was so loving, and I never heard a cat purr so loud. His purr was legendary. You could hear it from the next room.

I brought him home to be a buddy for Henry, and it worked out perfectly. Those two have been inseparable ever since. Duncan was a very silly cat. He'd meow loudly during the night, but he wasn't crying, I believe he was singing. Either singing or running through the house acting like a nut. He would land on the bed at all hours of the night and announce his presence with a loud MEOW followed by licking your face. He was impossibly cute and lovable... and silly.

His heart always seem to beat loud and hard against your legs when he'd sit on your lap. I always mentioned it to the various vets, but none ever found anything wrong with him. He was healthy, if a bit overweight, and that was Duncan. I didn't know that he had a heart condition until this past November when he almost died from congestive heart failure. I was completely surprised! I had no idea that he had a heart condition, but I have learned many things since that day, and one of the things I learned about his condition was that very often the first symptom of it is sudden death. I happened to be there when he had that first attack, so I was able to rush him to the vet and postpone the inevitable. It was inevitable because not only did he have the chronic heart condition (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), he also had failing kidneys. Treating the heart and kidneys require sometimes opposite treatments, so we were never able to stabilize his condition. He died at the vet today, April 12. He got very stressed on the trip there, and was unconscious when he arrived. They could not revive him, but then there was no saving him in any case. He was too sick.

I am really glad that he survived his November attack, so that we could appreciate his situation, and try to enjoy every minute with him, giving him extra TLC. We are those people who think that these furkids ARE our kids, we don't have any offspring, so it is something that really hurts. I don't feel like it is my fault though. Everyone has assured me that this condition is genetic, and it's very hard to detect. We did everything that we could for him.

I've posted some of my favorite pictures of him below. They have been featured on this blog going back to 2005. He was well-loved for his whole life.

(Above - Duncan is the one facing us)

To pull up the most recent posts on Duncan, click here or on the "Duncan" label at the bottom. Older posts that won't be found that way are listed here (they all are set to open in a new window):
Office Space
Most Favored Seat
Still Cute with bad habits
Cute with bad habits
We belong together
Love me no matter what
Kitty cat troll booth
Love/hate relationship
Cats write a letter
Duncan and new drinking songs
Duncan gets a clean bill of health
Two cats too cozy
Friday furball

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Books 4 Isreal - - -

Need Spanish help

We want to make a sign to go in the alley to tell the mowers not to mow down our flower bed. They go through a couple of times a year on those big riding mowers that cut everything in sight. I want to make a bilingual sign to stick back there. The English will be:

Please do not mow this area.

Can someone help me out with the Spanish part?

Blueberry, the Spanish 101 dropout

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pair of Killer Bs

We went to see Grindhouse over the weekend, and it is an absolute scream! There's a little of the scary scream, true, but mostly it's just a blast, they aren't really trying to scare you. As you may or may not know, it's an homage to the old B action, monster, zombie, biker, blaxploitation, kung fu, hot rod, prison, slasher, all-of-the-above etc. ... movies that at one time might go straight to the Drive-In or to certain movie houses that specialized in them. Nowadays they could go straight to DVD or even Cable without even hitting the big screen.

This is one that you want to see in the movie theatre! It's going to lose some of its charm on the small screen, as it's got all that old cheesy stuff and hideous food ads that fill our intermission memories plus REALLY bizarro trailers, and then the "Double Feature" directed respectively by Austinite Robert Rodriguez and occasional Austinite Quentin Tarantino. It was mostly filmed in and around Austin (a little bit in Mexico), and the Tarantino part really features our town with some local haunts.

This review by MaryAnn Johanson is a pretty good summation of it, but you might enjoy this one more. It's an Ain't It Cool News amateur review, and I really think it's written as a parody of the reviews on that site (they are their own kind of art form), but I can't really tell... that makes it a great spoof... if it is one. Hilarious!

I guess I've always loved B-movies, I loved going to the Drive-In, especially if it was a monster or some other gross-out, the tacky snack bars with the greasy corn dogs and getting a look at people who'd rather not be in such bright lights after partying in their cars, and the really bad speakers you'd hang on the windows. I loved the playgrounds, even if there wasn't much to them. I loved staying home for "Friday Night at the Frights" on TV, or getting up for a space alien invasion on Saturday morning. My mother, of all people, was fond of what they'd later call "slasher movies" (although they were pretty tame compared to more recent ones). (This is how you live on, you pass along your weirdness.) More recently, I was hooked on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). I miss all of those things.

If you are in Austin, see it at the Alamo Drafthouse and nowhere else. If you don't have an Alamo Drafthouse, any old big screen will do.

EDIT: Almost forgot to mention my souvenir. While filling up the car, there was a VIP laminate badge from the Austin premiere for the movie hanging on the top part of the pumps where the ads are. I tend to collect stuff, so I put it in my purse, without realizing that that the cord smelled of gasoline, and pretty soon so did everything in my purse. Now I have a gasoline-scented souvenir for Grindhouse and my purse contents need washing.

[Official site: flash, needs fast connection]
Extensive coverage in this week's Chronicle:
Interview Rodriguez: Planet Terror
Tarantino: Death Proof

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Monday, April 09, 2007

What Amerika has become

Want to see the new face of Terror? First check out this guy's credentials.

He's Walter F. Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Princeton University, critic of ROE V WADE, supported the Alito nomination, retired Marine colonel who fought in Korean War and was decorated for heroism, then served 5 more years followed by 19 years as a reserve officer.

Tried to board an airplane in Albuquerque, and was refused a boarding pass because of being on the Terrorist Watch List.
"Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said. " (Emphasis mine) Full post at this link.
They finally gave him a boarding pass, but warned him that his luggage would be ransacked. In the end his luggage coincidentally was "lost."

Found via Raw Story
Graphic from POAC

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Perry's pet is off the leash again

This is priceless. Ted Nugent has outdone even his performance at Goodhair's Inaugural Ball (pictured right) when it comes to helping the guv with a little publicity. This paragraph is verbatim from this week's Austin Chronicle, with the full column (covering other topics) here.
On Tuesday, March 20, rocker Ted Nugent sat down with Evan Smith for an upcoming session of Texas Monthly Talks, and the furor around the "Cat Scratch Fever" author's onstage comments at the Guv's inaugural ball could pale in significance of a new revelation: that Perry's favorite love song is "Wang Dang, Sweet Poontang," with opening couplet "That Nadine, what a teenage queen/She lookin' so clean, especially down in between." The Nuge also clarified that "if you can't speak English, you got to learn as fast as possible or get the hell out of America." He also blamed everything on bureaucrats, bad drivers, and the "overtly irresponsible, unprofessional, obscene left-wing media in Texas" and claimed that no one had said they had been tortured by U.S. forces. But whether Perry distances himself from Nugent could be moot, since his favorite song has the lyrics "She's so sweet when she yanks on my meat." Perry's office was contacted for a comment, but we got no response, possibly because they're all too busy rockin' out to "Yank Me, Crank Me." The interview will appear on KLRU; see for details. – R.W.

Note: I didn't find anything on the KLRU website. Maybe you will have better luck.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

R-Rated Easter (Violence)

The Passion of Mel Gibson is having a lasting effect on Easter celebrations. Apparently, many churches are making their "Passion Plays" a LOT more gorey than they used to, and spending a pretty penny out of your tithings for fake blood.
[LINK]" Performance Studios costuming shop, high season for fake blood is right now, and the biggest buyers are churches.

"At Halloween, we sell blood by the ounce. At Easter, we sell blood by the gallon," says Gary Broadrick, owner of Performance Studios."
For what they are spending on stuff like fake blood, they could help out a homeless person on a cold, hungry night. Just my heretical opinion. And you know what? If Jesus were able to return to this world, I'll bet the last thing on earth he would want to see is blood, even fake blood. Blood, or a cross, or nails, or a crown of thorns.

Hat tip for pool of blood photoshop effect.

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Catblogging - Duncan sees a Specialist

...and right now he is the "specialest" cat.Duncan had a fairly rough week, and so did his human mom's credit card. Last time he went to the vet to have his lungs "tapped" they told us that most of the fluid was in the heart and would have to wait for a specialist to help him out, so he's been having a rough time for awhile, waiting for his appointment. He finally got to see the cardiologist on Monday, who removed 180 ml of fluid from his heart -- and that wasn't even all of it! He is breathing a lot better now (although he has been very tired, and no wonder), but none of us like all these meds. He was already getting 2 shots of lasix a day plus 2 ear gels. Now he's getting that, plus 3 nitroglycerin ear cream smears and more pills! They also determined that he also has chronic kidney disease, which needs treatments that are in direct conflict with his congestive heart failure.

Sweetness times two. I wonder if Henry senses that his little buddy hasn't been feeling 100%?

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Bad Kitty Cats - - -

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Public School Bible Classes

Blog Against Theocracy. To participate in this, get your guidelines at that link.

I saw this topic over on John Good’s blog, an opportunity to blog against theocracy that’s being held this “holy week”. It’s important to understand what theocracy is. It’s having a State Religion. It’s being forced to observe religious customs by law. It’s being denied basic rights such as employment and shelter because your personal religious beliefs have been declared to be in conflict with the ones required. It's being forced to abide by laws that have no rational reason for existing.

A lot of Christians in this country see no problem with establishing Christianity as a National Religion, meaning that Christian beliefs would be required and non-conformity would have repercussions. (I would like to ask the Protestants reading this if they would mind if their government was officially Catholic. Thought so...) They don’t understand that this is the very thing that they hate about the Taliban and many other organizations and governments around the world. The thing that they hate is the very thing they would like to establish here, and that movement has made plenty of progress since Bush got into power. One of ways this movement had made inroads is in the changing of public school textbooks and curricula.

It's the following kind of stuff that makes me wish we could cut off the Texas panhandle and give it away. Who wants it? Oklahoma? Any takers? Really though, the problem is bigger than one extreme right-wing fundie member of the Christian Taliban (Pampa's Warren Chisum) with legislative power. Chisum has filed a bill to make Texas required to teach elective Bible classes in public schools. [LINK] The classes would cover the Old and New Testaments.

It’s already being done in many places in Texas (25 districts out of 1,000), and being watchdogged by the Texas Freedom Network: See Bible Curriculum, and only a handful of districts have managed to keep the studies within the guidelines of the topic as history, literature or social studies. I don’t disagree with offering classes on the subject of religious texts as long as they are presented in this way, and literature from other religions such as Islam, Eastern religions and Paganism must be required alongside. It would also be helpful for students to know about all the different translations of these books (particularly the Bible), how they got there, why some versions include chapters that others don’t.

Links: First Freedom First - Blog Against Theocracy

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Yup. That's pretty strange all right.

In comments published today (April 2), the 63-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist said he had snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine.

"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME. "He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow.

GodSmell... or "I AM Woman"

[LINK] There is a new perfume out there called VIRTUE and it is supposed to make you smell godly, or biblical, or something. Here are some of the taglines they use on the ad:

Be reminded of the eternal I AM


Spiritual Fragrance ~ Mimics Spiritual Process

And just to assure you that you are not tarting yourself up for a man’s pleasure, they offer these guidelines:

Spiritual Use of Perfume

  • Begin your spiritual practice (prayer, meditation, contemplation, etc.)
  • Establish your desired spiritual state.
  • Smell your wrist, maintaining awareness of your spiritual state.
  • Keep repeating this association.
  • In the course of your day, let it remind you of your spiritual state by smelling your wrist.
  • Maintaining contact with the Spiritual Self brings inspirations and insights, only available by spiritual awareness.

Smells like snake oil... not that all perfumes aren't selling you snake oil, but they aren't claiming you'll get closer to God, they just claim you'll attract the opposite sex... and we all know that scent is part of that. It's not a false claim, not entirely, anyway. I think that if you really want to remain chaste (if that's the goal in keeping with the whole "virtue" theme), put on a stink... a bad one. It'll work. If you believe that God made frankinscence, then you must believe that God also made piss and vinegar and rotting potatoes. Yes?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Stars, Bars, and Guitars

We just had guitar weekend, getting to see an amazing bunch of players, including Eric Johnson. Twice! My favorite guitar player in the world. Pardon the quality of the pic, but I had the flash off which means it's mostly likely going to be blurry. I wanted to do him the courtesy of not using flash at such a close range. This was Malford Milligan's birthday party at the Saxon Pub. The Saxon is a little dive known for having fairly big-name artists just "drop by". Actually, you can say the same thing about a dozen or more clubs in town. Eric's appearance there was a poorly-kept secret, as the radio hinted of a surprise guitar god showing up, and the Saxon website promising someone with the initials "E.J.". Late in the game it was posted on his web forum, but I was already there by then.

Who are these people?
Here goes my name-dropping description of the folks we saw. Malford is a soulful singer is most well known for being part of a band called Storyville, but he has a lengthy resume and very well-loved in this town. First there was Phil Brown, who replaced Lowell George in Little Feat (and is not the same guy who played Uncle Owen in Star Wars. that one is deceased). Drumming was Pat Mastelotto, who used to be with King Crimson among others. Tommy Shannon was on bass, he is most famous for being Stevie Ray Vaughan's bass player, but before that he was with Johnny Winter during his heyday in the 60s. He is also locally famous for being with Double Trouble, Storyville, and the Arc Angels. Add the aforementioned Eric Johnson along with David Grissom to the stage and you've got the makings of a great little guitar jam. David Grissom is locally regarded probably as highly as Eric Johnson. He was part of Storyville, plays with Joe Ely and The Dixie Chicks. In fact, he is their musical director. And he is an awesome guitarist. After that powerhouse jam, Storyville themselves took the stage (minus Chris Layton), meaning the exit of everyone but Malford, Grissom and Shannon, and the adding of David Holt on guitar.

Sunday night (a perfect weather night that followed a perfect day) there was an outdoor benefit concert at Threadgill's to help out the employees of Mother's Cafe. Mother's is a fine vegetarian restaurant that was accidentally burned down by a homeless person, and although the place has fire insurance, they will not be able to pay any employees until probably August... so those people are just out of work... but hopefully not completely out of luck. Eric Johnson was the headliner, and Redd Volkaert opened. Redd has beaten Eric the last 2 years in the Austin Music Awards for "Best Electric Guitar". His other name-dropping claim to fame is that he used to play with Merle Haggard. Yup. He is a great guitar player with a strong old-time country flavor (in spite of that Stairway to Heaven riff that ended up in the middle of that one song)(and that beautiful rendition of Sleepwalk) and is was absolutely great to see Redd and Eric together on stage. Eric put on a stellar show with Roscoe Beck and Tommy Taylor. We had front row center seats, acquired by early arrival, and life was good. Very good.

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Clubbing Gets Whacked

Canadian baby seal clubbers are frustrated this year by the lack of baby seals. Apparently global warming (a.k.a. Al Gore's complete fabrication [snort]) and lack of ice is killing off seals and making them too scarce to begin the operation. [LINK]

Industry getting hit in the purse is unfortunately one of the only things that will make the corporatocracy take notice of something like climate change. It's pretty hard to keep pretending it doesn't exist or will go away on its own. Also, as things warm up, maybe the demand for fur coats will decrease along with the seal population. Fur makes you look fat anyway. It might be warm, but it's not too cool. Seriously.

To replace the loss of income, I'll bet people would pay good money to watch those asses whack each other. At least it's a fair fight.

EDIT: Well, the harvest has begun, in spite of the dwindling seal numbers. They have found some seal pups and have begun the killing. [LINK]