Category Archives: Cats

Please Accept My Apologies

On behalf of the sane citizens of the United States (a group that is apparently small and growing smaller by the day) I apologize for our electoral process.

Please accept my apologies. And these cute pet pictures. (Two of these are not like the others.)

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Filed under Cats, Critters, Dogs, Photography, Politics

The Last Resort Of The Blogger

Asimov said, “Violence is the last resort of the incompetent.” Willett says, “Kitty pictures are the last resort of the really tired blogger.” Oreo said, “I do not approve of your existence.”

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Filed under Cats, Photography

2015 – The Schizophrenic Year

(I had to use “schizophrenic”, I already used the roller coaster analogy.)

For almost all of us, every year has its ups and downs, highs and lows, sorrows and joys. (Insert your own dichotomy pairs here – I’ll wait. Done?) It’s a fine line to a certain extent – no one really wants it to be too frantic or hectic, but no one wants it to be too boring and dull either.

2015 might be the most “dynamic” for me in quite a while. I’m not sure that I’ll miss it.

The bad – well, obviously, my mother’s passing last month. I’m glad that we got to see her in July for her 80th birthday,

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and given her condition and how it had deteriorated after the stroke, it wasn’t a surprise, but there are still some strong emotions involved.

We had to put down our cat in February,

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and our dog a couple of weeks ago.

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The house is an empty place without their demanding and cuddly little presences.

On the good side, obviously, the great job I finally found after a long period of unemployment was the highlight of 2015. So far things are going very well and I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures and challenges the new year brings there. Having a regular pay check again is short on suckage as well.

There were three NASA Socials for me this year, to tour SOFIA in February,

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see the LEAPTech demonstration in May,

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and the fantastic trip to Washington, DC in April for the Hubble Space Telescope 25th anniversary.

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That’s a pretty cool trio of events. I enjoyed myself and geeked out a lot.

In addition to the Washington trip, The Long-Suffering Wife and I had three trips in 2015, to Vermont in July to see my mom,

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to North Carolina in April to see a friend of hers and a friend of mine from high school,

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and to Indiana in September for a niece’s wedding.

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In the air and at the hangar, we had a great airshow at Camarillo in August,

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saw the Blue Angels at Point Mugu in September,

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and had “Fifi” visit us for a week in March.

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Getting the opportunity to fly in “Fifi” from Camarillo to Palm Springs was also one hell of a great treat.

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I got to meet some of my heroes,

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and saw the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum for the first time.

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Most importantly, I, my kids, and The Long-Suffering Wife are all healthy and well. This is particularly important since there was one serious scare in particular in early 2014, but so far things are going very well in that regard.

In summary, there were a handful of really deep lows, but there were an awful lot of highs, many of which were pretty stinking good. 2016’s highs don’t have to be quite as big as 2015’s (although I wouldn’t complain if they are) but I could happily live without the really lousy lows.

Call me selfish.

I hope your 2016 triumphs are as satisfying as mine were in 2015, and your 2016 tragedies are more like inconveniences with attitudes.

Happy New Year. Welcome, 2016!

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Filed under CAF, Cats, Dogs, Flying, Photography, Space, Travel

Juicy Chunks O’ Wisdom For Saturday, February 7th

‘Cause I ran a 5K today without benefit of any training, that’s why.

  • My 5K time was 44:03 officially. How “good” that might be is a matter of perspective. If I were in the kind of shape I would prefer to be in, that would completely suck. Under 30 minutes would be a good time. On the other hand, given the absolute zero training time, 44:03 and still breathing and not needing an ambulance is pretty good.
  • Every cell phone company is running ads where they show you a US map with their SuperDuper 5G+ coverage in a bright color, their 4G coverage areas in a slightly less vibrant shade, their 3G coverage area in a pale shade, and some grey areas out in Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, and about 99% of North Dakota. There’s some fine print there that I can never read, but I’m betting that part of it says something like, “Grey areas represent areas where you are up the creek without a paddle. Have a nice day.”
  • Where everyone else was in a 5K “race”, we were in a 5K “run.” (I ran with my LA Marathon training partner from 2012, who happened to live a couple blocks away and be neighbors with one of the organizers.) Early on, when everyone else was taking off into the distance and I was trying to get at least one lung to work, my goal for the day became obvious. There was a young woman who was running while pushing a stroller with twins and a seven or eight-year-old in tow. The only “racing” I wanted to do was beat her.
  • Sunday morning, grocery shopping, about 10:30. I’m passed by a frazzled looking guy who’s wearing a sweatshirt, red checkered pajama bottoms, and slippers. He’s carrying a jar of peanut butter, a bottle of vodka, a quart of orange juice, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. No one bats an eye — this is Los Angeles after all. The only question I had was, “Chunky or smooth peanut butter?”
  • The mom with the twins in the jogging stroller? We totally kicked her ass, finished at least two minutes ahead of her! WIN!! (At this point, I’ll take them where I can get them.)
  • The Long-Suffering Wife notes that I missed a couple of things in my analysis of how we’re looking for a good place to retire in a few years. I guess I thought they were obvious “givens,” but we will need someplace with good, high-speed internet. She would also like to find a place which has a good deli, but would settle for a place that has decent bagels.
  • Old note found — “Having a cat asleep on your lap when the Raccoons Of An Unusual Size start romping around on the roof can be…unpleasant.” Yes, yes it could.
  • Someone else noted that the title “Where’s A Good Place To Retire To?” should be “Where’s A Good Place To Which To Retire?” Never finish a sentence with a preposition. Fine. Granted. By the way, have you heard the joke about the cowboy and the snooty, uppity Brit?
  • Overall for my age group (male, 55-59) I finished eleventh. And no, it wasn’t out of eleven! (You know that you were thinking it, weren’t you.) It was out of thirteen. Since I was expecting to finish fifteenth out of thirteen, again, WIN!!
  • On the 101 Freeway headed toward Ventura, where they often have a 5th lane on the far right that begins where an onramp dumps traffic onto the freeway and ends at the next exit where it is a mandatory exit lane. Traffic is reasonably heavy. A handful of cars are getting on the freeway, and the first three or four are having a difficult time getting into the through-traffic lanes. As the “exit only” ramp approaches, I see that the final car isn’t hanging back to find an open spot. It’s a classic, cherry red, convertible Mustang, probably a ’65 or ’66, top down, and the driver is making an extremely aggressive move to gun it and squeeze into an open spot several cars ahead, barely making it before the lane exits. I’m figuring that it’s some kid who’s got more testosterone than brains. Then I pull up next to it a couple miles later and see that it’s a woman, probably in her late 60’s or early 70’s, boufant hairdo like something straight out of an “Animal House” sorority, wrapped up in a thin, transparent scarf like my mom always wore. She’s grinning like she just stole the car. YOU GO, GIRL!!

Remember, “I may be old, overweight, and slow — but I’m ahead of you” (Gotta get me one of those running shirts!)

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Filed under Cats, Critters, Juicy Chunks, Paul, Running, Sports, Writing

RIP Joey Chan

Joey Chan, the remaining domestic feline at Casa Willett, started having some disturbing symptoms in the last two weeks or so, initially showing up as an occasional diminished appetite. By the middle of last week it was getting serious, and by yesterday it was time to see the vet. The results were grave and it was pretty clear that Joey’s remaining time with us was short. Since our society treats our pets with compassion, we did what was necessary to make sure she passed on peacefully and painlessly.

I’m grateful that her medical problems only manifested themselves very recently and didn’t result in any prolonged problems or discomfort for her. She was almost fourteen years old and had a good life. She will very much be missed.

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Filed under Cats, Family

Hooray For Cat Hallucinations!

I’ve noted before (I used it as a starting plot point for the 2013 NaNoWriMo) that it’s freaky as all get out when a cat that’s resting comfortably and calmly on your lap suddenly bolts upright, ears twitching, eyes wide open, staring at something behind you that only it can see. It doesn’t help any when they spend the next five minutes with their eyes locked on whatever unseen horror it might be, their head swiveling as they follow their hallucination around the room, as if there’s some poltergeist or invisible zombie creeping up behind you.

When they start making that little chirping noise and twitching their butt like they’re getting ready to leap, and the idiot freakin’ raccoons on the roof choose that particular moment to run the 100-yard dash across the roof right above your head, it’s an invitation to a coronary.

On the other hand…

When you’ve spent the day dealing with people and situations that you swear are there just to see where your frustration breaking point is, then your nominal evening entertainment is all pre-empted by the State Of The Union address, and your substitute entertainment (social media) is saturated with bullshit from both sides on the aforementioned SOTU, and you’re just about to punch something just because, it can be a relief to have the sleeping cat freak out.

“Ignorance is bliss.” I’ve often thought it was nonsense to think that way. I always wanted to know and know more and to understand.

But in the case of both the political/social polarity/intolerance in our society and the invisible phantom haunting the room, I’m starting to place a higher value on ignorance.

In both cases, I don’t think there’s much I can do to change the situation, and being aware of it is just raising my blood pressure and making me feel bad. So while I’ve always hated being ignorant or uninformed, I think the argument could be made that I might be better off being blissfully ignorant.

Even if it does mean that I’m slightly less prepared to catch Ken Jenning’s record when I finally get on “Jeopardy!”

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Filed under Cats, Critters, Death Of Common Sense, Freakin' Idiots!, Politics, Religion

New Year’s Eve 2014

The mighty, mighty Jessie-puppy-beast wants to wish each and every one of you a most Happy New Year!

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The Long-Suffering Wife and I concur. We hope that no matter what your 2014 was like, your 2015 will be fantastic!

Above all, have fun celebrating tonight and tomorrow (and all through the weekend for some of you) — but be safe and make good choices. Don’t start the year by being a statistic.

Don’t EVER drink and drive!

You’ll hear it a thousand times, but if you think that it doesn’t mean YOU they’re talking about — then it probably IS you they’re talking about. It only takes once, it only takes a second, but the consequences can last a lifetime.

It might not even be your lifetime that’s filled with suffering, pain, and grief. Lots of drunk drivers manage to kill themselves while also killing and/or maiming innocent bystanders. Are your loved ones ready to remember you every day for the rest of their lives, and every time wonder just what in hell you were thinking and how you could have been that stupid?

There are plenty of alternatives, especially tonight. Here in Los Angeles, AAA will take you home and tow your car home as well. Many public transportation systems are running later than usual and many are running free of charge. In some cities, cab companies are giving free rides. A friend could be the designated driver for you and your group. You could get a room, or crash (in the safe, sleeping on someone’s couch sort of way) at a friend’s place.

Lots of options! Driving while impaired should NEVER be one of them. It doesn’t matter if “it’s just a mile or so,” or you’ve “done this before,” or you’re “sure it will be okay.”

What part of **NEVER** are you unclear about?

Sorry for the lecture, but it’s a hot button item for me. I’ve lost friends.

Party on, even those of you already into 2015! Celebrate the good things that happened in 2014, perhaps shed a tear for the bad things, and then let’s look forward to kicking 2015’s ass! Let’s see what we can all do to make the upcoming year memorable for a lot of good reasons!

Oh, for the record, while Jessie, The Long-Suffering Wife, and I all wish you the best, I regret to tell you that Joey Chan doesn’t. Nothing personal — it’s just that she’s a cat.

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It’s a well documented fact that cats don’t give a rat’s ass about New Year’s Eve.

Or anything else.

Except food.

And maybe a warm lap.

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Filed under Cats, Distracted Driving, Dogs, Photography

Christmas Tree 2014

We’re almost ready, the tree is beautiful, the shopping and shipping is (more or less) done. Just a couple pictures for posterity. Maybe an artistic picture, from floor level looking up…

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“What are you doing on the floor? Mind if I head butt you and demand attention and scratching?”

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“What do you mean, ‘go away’? How about if I stick my butt in your face and lash you with my tail?”

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“Wait, what’s going on? Is she getting food? Why am I not getting any food? Where’s the food?”

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There we go! (Just ignore the sounds of a pissed off cat and dog locked in the back hallway for a few minutes.)

I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe, and peaceful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

 

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Filed under Cats, Christmas Lights, Dogs, Photography

Joey Chan Update, December 2014

Because sometimes you just need pictures of cats rather than seeing the news, reading the comments, or having anything to do with about 99.9% of what’s on television – and there’s just not a good book at hand and you’re too tired to get up and get one:

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Joey does not acknowledge the existence of NASA or the Orion flight test (on the television in the background), nor does she approve of you taking her chair (by which I mean, my chair) at 04:00 AM.

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All cats look funny when they yawn, makes you want to stick something in there just to freak them out. (Do not use anything you do not want mangled, like your finger!)

Honest question, how many of you had a yawn triggered by this picture?

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When you can’t find her anywhere in her normal sleeping or hiding spots, remember to look up for “DEATH FROM ABOVE!!”

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Filed under Castle Willett, Cats, Critters

And Now, As Expected, December!

November sure was busy enough, and I’ve still got a list of things stacked up that got put aside due to the NaNoWriMo effort. Christmas lights, CAF stuff, general house stuff-stuff, and now my second NASA Social coming up on Wednesday at JPL in Pasadena for the Orion launch. (Watch the sidebar for my tweets, or follow me on Twitter for up to the minute information on Wednesday!)

Mainly though, I would like to see once more what it’s like to be in bed before 12:30 AM or later. So for today at least, Joey will be my spirit guide.

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Filed under Cats, Photography, Space