When I got Newton and Jefferson in October 1994, my vet’s best guess was that they were about 6 months old, so they have an unofficial birthday of April 1, 1994. Seeing Jackson and Sadie grow up (they’re about 8 months old now), I’m pretty sure my guys were actually younger than that, but I’ll never know for sure. In any event, Newton is now approximately 19 years old, which is something like 94 in human years. He’s an elderly kitty.
Since his hospital stay last year, he’s been doing pretty well, but he’s been getting harder to care for.
First of all, he gets quite a bit of medication:
- Subcutaneous fluids daily
- A half-pill of tapazole twice a day for hyperthyroidism
- A tumil-K tablet daily (a potassium supplement)
- A quarter-tablet of Pepcid daily
- Two ml of aluminum hydroxide gel twice a day (to reduce his phosphorus levels)
- A shot of Epogen once a week, to improve his red blood cell count
This is less expensive than it might seem – only the Epogen is really expensive – but it’s a lot of stuff we have to do every day. This (combined with Blackjack’s condition prior to his death last year) is the main reason we haven’t taken a vacation trip since our two weeks in Hawaii in 2011. It’s been a drag in that regard.
On top of that, Newton has basically stopped using his litter to pee in, so we’ve had to surround the downstairs litter with puppy pads for him to go on, and change them once or twice a day. Some days he doesn’t even make it to the litter and just goes on the floor. It’s pretty annoying. I’d be more okay with giving him all his meds if he just used his litter properly again.
The one bright spot is that he’s still doing pretty well. We upped some of his meds to the levels above when he went to the vet in February. But the vet said that he seems basically healthy, and still happy (since he was rubbing his chin on things in the vet’s office). He has his days when he does little besides sleep, but other days he walks around a bit, sits in the sun, and meows at nothing. And he loves for me to take him outside into the back yard; since he can’t jump well anymore, I let him walk around in the grass on occasion since I know he’s not going to run away (over our 7-foot-tall fence).
Newton’s not really the same kitty he used to be, and he keeps to himself a lot. While I’m glad he’s still around, part of me kind of wishes that his decline wouldn’t drag out quite so long. And that he wouldn’t pee on the floor.
Anyway, we’re going to have to take a vacation sooner or later, and the care he needs means we can’t really ask our friends to come watch him, so we’ll probably have to find and pay for a professional sitter.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon at Illusive Comics in Santa Clara at the Dragon’s Maze Magic prerelease event. I went to the Gatecrash prerelease in January (which I somehow forgot to write about), and had a lot of fun – I played a Simic deck and went 3-2 in 5 matches. I went to that with Andrew, Adam and Subrata and we all chose Simic as our guilds.
This time I was going on my own, but I wanted to go because I thought the structure would be really neat: You pick one guild from either Return to Ravnica or Gatecrash, and get randomly paired with one of four guilds from the other set which shared a color with it. You get a guild pack from each of those sets for those guilds, and then you get four Dragon’s Maze packs to build a deck out of the six packs. I’ve played a lot of Simic and Selesnya, and I wanted to pick a guild that looked like fun that I hadn’t played much. My guess was that Boros and Rakdos would be the guilds to pick to win a lot, but I don’t find either of those guilds to be a lot of fun to play. In the end I decided to go with Golgari. My “secret ally” guild was Orzhov, which as it turns out was my second choice.
The other gimmick in this prerelease was that each guild would advance on a chart for each match win by their guild during the afternoon; whoever got to the end first would get a special prize card, and each guild that reached the end at all would get another special prize card. The problem was that I was the only player who chose Golgari, so I’d have to win 4 of my 5 matches to reach the end.
I opened up my packs, and after some thought I ended up with this deck:
The format strongly encourages three-color decks, which can lead to some shaky mana bases but which I enjoy (in theory) because I like a slower game so that things can develop and we have a chance to play our high-cost cards.
I was disappointed that I didn’t get a single Pestilence in my Dragon’s Maze packs (and yes, I recognize that since it’s an uncommon I probably had less than a 50% chance of getting one). I also did not get any Guildgates in my colors other than in my two guild packs, which meant not playing any Gatekeepers.
My pool had 4 of the 6-cost Maze Elementals, but none of them did much for my deck so I didn’t play any of them, deciding to go for efficiency instead. I wondered if I should have played an Armored Wolf-Rider instead of the Golgari Longlegs, since a 4/6 body might have been more useful than a 5/4 body, but on balance it probably didn’t make much difference.
I wasn’t going to put Guardian of the Gateless in my deck at first, but I overheard people at the table behind me talking about it and saying that it was a really good card, so I decided to run it, and it was quite useful when I was able to play it.
Anyway, other than worrying about my mana base I was pretty happy with my deck. Due to my mana base I generally elected to go second, figuring the extra card would let me smooth out my mana curve. Overall my strategy was to overrun anyone who stumbled with my cheap creatures, and otherwise try to stall them out and win through Extort and eventually-superior biomass on the ground.
My first match I played against an aggressive Boros deck, who stumbled in the first game, ran me over with a nifty attack combo in the second game (Riot Piker and Madcap Skills), but I dealt with his stuff in the third game and managed to pull out a win.
My second match was against a Selesnya deck piloted by a player who didn’t seem very experienced. I swept the board with Gift of Granite, but he reloaded and we stalled out. He made an ill-considered attack, I managed to Extort him down to near-death (with help from Deathrite Shaman), and then overran him with all my bodies. But the game took 35 minutes and we didn’t have time to finish the second game, which gave me the win.
This put me tied for first place, so I was matched up against a very good Selesnya/Orzhov deck. We split the first two games, and the third game came down to the time limit. But he played Tesya, Envoy of Ghosts (he apparently had two of them in his deck!), which I didn’t have a way to deal with, and I couldn’t stall him until time was called, so I ended up losing.
The fourth match put me up against another Boros deck, and this we stalled out in the first game again. Unfortunately although it was very close, I wasn’t able to win this one. In the second game he played a Desecration Demon, but I managed to topdeck Grisly Spectacle (using a Cluestone to get there). He reloaded, but I played Gift of Granite. I think I could have won this one, but we ran out of time, so I lost the match.
The fifth match I played a Rakdos deck run by one of the guys I’d sat with while doing deck construction. He got land-shorted the first game, and then I drew plenty of removal in the second game. We played the third game and I won again – my deck was just too fast for him, somehow.
So all-in-all I went 3-2 in my five matches, and was competitive in my other two. I did misplay from time to time, but I don’t think they were decisive in any of my matches; overall I was pretty happy with how I did. I finished in eighth place, winning three booster packs.
I’ve also been happy with the people I’ve played with at Illusive, as they’re not generally clearly better players than me (as has been the case when I’ve gone toChannel Fireball), and they’re all friendly to play with. The game space is a little cramped, but they run the events efficiently so we’re never sitting around waiting for things to begin. We actually finished the event over an hour earlier than projected! So I hung out and chatted with folks for a while afterwards. I should go there for Friday night drafting sometime.
So all things considered the prerelease was just as much fun as I’d expected, and I’m looking forward to drafting the block once it’s out, as I think it should be a very interesting experience with some nifty strategies to try out.
Now that I know she’s received and opened the package, I can write about the idea I came up with for my friend K’s 50th birthday: I bought her 50 birthday cards!
I came up with this idea last summer, possibly while I was back east when my Mom was recovering from her surgery (I forget exactly when), since I realized I had almost a year to buy 50 cards, which worked out to a little more than 1 per week. I knew immediately that it was unlikely I’d actually buy the cards that regularly, but I figured if I could get two-thirds of them by, say, the end of February, then I could easily scramble to get another 15 or so cards in the final month.
One thing I realized when I had bought about 15 cards was that I needed to achieve some balance in the cards I bought. They couldn’t all be cards about age, I had to mix in some generally funny cards, and some more serious cards. When you’re only buying a card a week, it’s easy to just end up buying all the most hilarious cards, but she wouldn’t be reading them one a week, but (probably) all at once.
By February I had done a pretty good job – I had about 35 cards – and I started going through them and signing them. I discovered I had bought one card twice, but that’s the only one I doubled up on, and I had time to replace it, which I did.
I had also started telling some friends about this scheme, and to my surprise none of them had heard of anyone doing this sort of thing before. I’m sure someone has done it, but in my social circle it was a novel idea. My Dad said I should mail them all individually, but I felt that was farther than I was willing to go; instead I signed and sealed all of them, and shipped them in a box.
K wrote to me that she ended up opening a few cards a day, and found them quite funny overall. So, mission accomplished!
I’ll describe one card from the set: Debbi suggested I get a 51st card, “for luck”. Well, as luck would have it, I came across what I thought was a perfect 51st card while I was back east last month. Supposedly a quote from Satchel Paige, it read:
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
A good question for any of us.
This weekend we took advantage of OSH‘s “we pay the sales tax” weekend to pick up a bunch of stuff for around the house. For example:
- New filters for the HVAC system. Apparently you’re supposed to replace them more often than once every 2 years! (LOL.) The old ones were completely filthy, ew.
- New bulbs for the under-counter lights in the kitchen and laundry room. 6 of the 9 bulbs in the kitchen were out. Replacing them was simple once I figured out how to get the covers off.
- A couple of new daisies for sports in the yard, as a couple of plants died off over the last year.
I also mowed the lawn and gave it some food, so it was a pretty productive weekend. I still haven’t replaced the busted tube on my bike, so I still haven’t biked to work, but hopefully this week.
We also went to Half Moon Bay yesterday morning for the first time in a few months, and enjoyed the incoming warm weather to go for a couple of nice walks along the coast. We got parking at the trailhead near Pillar Point Harbor to go on this nice walk out to the beach (very popular with dog-walkers we noticed), although we didn’t walk along the beach itself.
I feel like I’m finally just about caught up on all the stuff that piled up during my trip east last month.
I need to write a post about my latest trip back east, which occurred over the last week and a half of March, but that will have to wait for later. Part of why it has to wait for later is because I spent much of last week sick.
I actually felt myself getting sick Friday March 29, the day before I flew home. Saturday I was definitely feeling sick and knew that the flight home was not going to be wonderful. Debbi convinced me to get some cold meds while I was waiting at the airport, and I think they helped. The 1-hour delay because of a fuel spill at the refueling truck at our plane didn’t help. However, I did make it home, feeling sick and exhausted. We grabbed dinner on the way home and then collapsed into bed around 11pm (2 am east coast time – I’d been up for 18 hours!).
Sunday Debbi got up and I told her I’d be getting up soon myself. In fact I slept for another 2 hours, and then stumbled downstairs. Debbi kindly made breakfast for us, but I was a zombie, and soon fell asleep on the couch until early afternoon (during which time Debbi went grocery shopping and took care of the cats). In the afternoon I felt considerably improved, and expected to go to the work on Monday.
And go to work I did! I wasn’t 100%, and I knew I’d run out of gas late in the day (which I did, leaving a bit early), but I had a pretty normal and productive day (for the first day back from being away for a week and a half), and expected to feel better the next day.
In fact I woke up in a fog on Tuesday. I went to work anyway, figuring I’d just shake it off, but after lunch I just could not concentrate, so I went home and promptly slept for about three hours. I had soup for dinner and mostly sat quietly in the evening (albeit working as best I could to finish a birthday gift for a friend of mine which needed to get mailed the next day). We watched Star Trek: Nemesis and went to bed early when it was done.
Wednesday I felt no better – if anything I felt worse. I took care of the morning routine (mostly giving Newton his meds, scooping the litter, and giving the cats food). I went upstairs and was so exhausted I fell on the bed and dozed for an hour and a half. I got up and had lunch, sat on the couch and read for a while, then slept for another 2-3 hours. I was tired, and sore, and developing a nasty cough. When I woke up, I finally started to feel better.
Thursday I went back to work, perhaps just a little early, as I was still tired, and the cough had turned into something where any amount of activity – like walking to the bathroom – would result in a terrible hack. Catching my breath and sitting down were the only cures.
But that was – finally – the worst of it. All the symptoms but the cough were gone by Friday, and it was getting better. It’s still with me even today, but by Saturday it had improved to the point that I could do some chores around the house (like unpacking the furniture I shipped from my Mom’s house to put it together, and mowing the lawn Sunday morning). I discovered that Robitussin cough+cold was the best thing for it, to the point that like clockwork the cough would come back 4 hours after my last dose.
Today I am medication-free, though, and even had coffee for the first time since my flight home. So I’m just about better.
I don’t know whether flying home while sick kept me from getting over the cold, or if I caught one cold on top of another one, but it was a pretty nasty week last week. Hopefully not one I’ll repeat for a few years.
I spent the last third of March back east getting my Mom’s house ready to sell. While not really a more difficult trip than any of my visits last month, it still kept me plenty busy.
I flew in the morning of Wednesday March 20, right after Boston had gotten about 9 inches of snow. I guess the snow must have been very light and fluffy, because there were only about 2-3 inches when I arrived. But it was also 28°F, which was more than a tad colder than I’m used to. I didn’t bring a heavy winter coat, optimistically hoping it would be closer to spring weather than winter, but at the beginning it didn’t work out that way.
I was staying with my Dad again, so I went to his place and we got breakfast. I took a nap (my red-eye plane was packed and I didn’t sleep much), and drove out to Mom’s house. I shoveled the walk from the driveway and the end of the driveway so my sister Katy and her boyfriend Andrew would be able to park when they arrived later that day (as they were going to stay at the house). I managed to break not one buy two shovels in the process! (To be fair to myself, all three shovels I had access to were pretty old.) I also turned on the heat in the house and turned up the hot water, and both had been turned down low for the winter. Katy and Andrew arrived and we had dinner with Dad.
Thursday we picked up Mom and met with the agents we’re using to sell the house, who we really like, and signed documents to put the house on the market once we’d finished taking things out of it. Then we spent the next couple of days mostly going through the house to figure out what was left that Mom wanted to take to her apartment, and what Katy and I each wanted to take with us.
Katy ended up taking a couple of oriental rugs, an end table, and some other stuff. She considered taking the dining room table but decided against it (it’s an okay table, but I don’t think either of us are sad that we didn’t take it; honestly the one I have at my house is nicer even though it’s nearly as old!). I took a rocking chair and a chest with a marble top, both of which I shipped through the Boston Packaging Store, who came and picked them up. Both items were very securely packed and arrived a week and a half later in the same condition they’d left, so I can certainly recommend them as packers for anyone in the area who needs a service like that.
I spent quite a bit of time over the next week helping Mom get everything she wanted, which mainly meant books. Andrew installed another bookcase in her apartment, but we brought over plenty of books to fill it. She also took some clothes and a few other items (and Katy made her take a few pieces of cookware). But since this was her last chance to get anything she wanted from the house, I was willing to do it all.
Katy and Andrew left on Saturday, and Sunday I took a break and went down to visit Debbi’s sisters and their family.
Andrew took a few pictures of the house, and of the three of us, before they left:
It warmed up during the second week, going from highs in the mid-30s to highs in the high 40s, which is still cold by California standards, but got into the range where I was pretty comfortable wearing my jacket. The snow mostly melted during the week, and I spent some time raking leaves in the driveway and the yard, so the house would look a little better when it was being shown. (Debbi poked fun at me since I kept mentioning trying to make time to rake leaves.)
Also this week, I was having most lunches with Mom as we continued to get stuff from the house, and then most dinners with Dad as I went back to his place for the evening. Tuesday was the exception to both of these, as in the morning I was at the house waiting for the packing company to come pick things up, and then I went and had lunch by myself. In the evening I went into downtown Boston to have dinner with my friend Bruce, whom I hadn’t seen since my first trip last year in July, and we caught up on stuff over dinner and then coffee afterwards.
On Wednesday we took Mom’s cat Maggie in to the vet for her annual checkup, which I’d wanted to make time for while visiting. Catching Maggie was quite a trick, as she ran around the apartment for over 5 minutes before I finally managed to grab her. I think this soured her on me for the rest of my visit. Alas. Anyway, the vet is a nice place in Waltham who have a resident cat who is nearly as old as Newton! They checked Maggie out and the only issue was a bunch of wax build-up in her ears. She’s about 10 – which is how old Roulette is – and is in good shape for that age. Since she lives without other cats in Mom’s small apartment she’s not as active as Rou, but then she wasn’t as active as Rou back when I stayed at the house last July. Maybe it’s having other cats around that stimulates cats.
Mom and I also went to the Book Fair for her to buy some more books, and I took her to the pet store to pick up some stuff for Maggie.
By this point I was entering the endgame of my trip. I met with the agents again on Thursday to wrap things up with them, including plans to hire someone to empty the house after I left. And Mom and I took a whole bunch of pictures of the house with our cameras. I wished I’d had the presence of mind to take them when Katy and Andrew were there, so the house looked a little more lived in, but we were just too busy. Seeing the house closer to what it must have looked like when my parents moved in was interesting. It was emotional to know that this was the last time I’d visit the house.
Thursday and Friday I was also packing up the stuff I’d saved from the house that I wanted to keep – a few trinkets, and a lamp that Katy had found that I decided looked pretty neat and would work well in our guest room. Also some of Mom’s papers that I wanted to have with her financial records with me in California. I’d been very happy with FedEx’s packing job last October, so I used them again, and happily everything arrived in California intact a week later. I spent at least one evening going through some boxes of photos, and picking out some ones I wanted. There were fewer old photos than I’d expected, but then there are also at least four photo albums with pictures from the 1970s which I didn’t get to. Next time, assuming Katy hasn’t taken them by then.
Friday was my last day at the house, and the last visit with Mom, as I didn’t feel like driving all over on Saturday morning knowing I had to pack and catch the train to the airport in the early afternoon. So I had brunch with Dad, and then headed off. My flight home was delayed an hour because the refueling truck for our plane spilled some fuel on the tarmac, but we eventually made it into the air. Fortunately, the flight was not very crowded so I had a row to myself. Unfortunately, I’d started getting sick the night before and was a borderline zombie for the flight. Debbi picked me up and took me home and I collapsed into bed after we ate.
It was a successful trip. It was a sad trip. I was a lot busier on this trip than I’d expected (originally I’d thought I might end up working 2 or 3 days while there, but it didn’t come close to happening). I’m relieved that it’s over, and I’ll be relieved when Mom’s house is sold. But it was exhausting.
All told, Mom lived in that house for just short of 40 years, and owned it for a bit longer, I lived most of my childhood there, and Katy lived all of hers there. The house itself had its drawbacks, but it was a good house overall. And the location couldn’t be beat, as kids, as teenagers, and as adults going back to visit. It was a comfortable place.
I’m a fan of Daylight Savings Time. Basically because I don’t like to get up in the dark, and I like it to stay light as late as possible. My ideal would be for the sun to come up about 15 minutes before my alarm went off every day, but that’s not very realistic.
Lots of people hate Daylight Savings Time. I recently tweeted that Daylight Savings Time is like the Designated Hitter for non-sports fans. (Non-sports fans didn’t seem to get the joke; the existence of the Designated Hitter has been a major controversy in professional baseball since it was introduced in the early 1970s, with both sides being so entrenched that it’s unlikely anything will ever change. Long, long ago I wrote a short essay in defense of it. But I digress.) I have some appreciation for why they hate it, but I don’t agree with them. And rants I read about it often make me feel like they have no appreciation at all for why I like it.
This article, Why I Like DST, has been making the rounds this week, but I think it obfuscates its point (in particular, I think all his talk about computers is just a sideshow; automation has nothing to do with whether someone likes DST or not). Being one of those “arrogant programmers” he talks about, I thought I’d try fixing his article.
I think Daylight Savings Time basically comes down to this: Here’s when the sun will will rise and set in San Francisco on the shortest and longest days of the year of 2013, on each Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time:
|Pacific Standard Time
|Rise: 4:48 am
Set: 7:35 pm
|Rise: 7:22 am
Set: 4:55 pm
|Pacific Daylight Time
Set: 8:35 pm
|Rise: 8:22 am
Set: 5:55 pm
(Table from the United States Naval Observatory, from which the article above also got its table.)
I don’t want the sun coming up at 8:22 am in the winter – winter can be depressing enough (expecially for people with seasonal affective disorder, which I think I have a mild form of) without waking up in the dark every day. I’d rather the sun came up closer to 7 (around the time I get up). On the other hand, I don’t really want it coming up at 4:48 am, several hours before I get up, in the summer; I’d rather have it come up later and stay light until nearly 9 pm.
And I’m happy to change my clocks twice a year to get closer to those ideals.
Now, your mileage may vary: You might get up or go to bed at a very different time from me, you might always get up in the dark year-round (Debbi gets up at 4 am most weekday mornings, well before sunrise in any of the squares on the chart), you might just hate changing your clocks twice a year. It’s really a matter of opinion. But it seems like people who hate the switch just don’t understand why people might like it. For me, it serves a purpose: I’m a light fiend, and I want to have as much of it during my waking hours as I can.
If we do someday end it, I’d rather we land on Daylight time year-round, since it’s closer to what I’d want (more daylight later in the day). I guess it would be some consolation that in the dead of winter I could watch the sun come up when I’m sitting down to breakfast.
But switching between the two times, as we do, is even better.
Oh, and I’m also pretty happy with the change made a few years ago to start DST earlier in the year and end it later, since it means I can bike to work for a few more weeks without having to bike home in the dark.
I haven’t written here in over a month – just haven’t been in the mood, I guess. Also, not a huge amount going on in the month of February.
March has been a bit different: Debbi’s been back east for the last week and a half visiting her parents (with a side-trip to Disney World yesterday and today), so I’ve been on my own at home for the first time since her sabbatical in 2011. It was pretty lonely for the first couple of days, trying to figure out what to do with myself (not that I didn’t have plenty to do).
After the first weekend it got a bit easier. I hosted Magic last Monday, went to Dana Street for comic book night on Wednesday, and hosted a poker night on Friday.
The poker night had a notable hand: In the big blind I got dealt… well, it came around to me with a single raise and I said, “I don’t have any cards.” I’d been distracted and hadn’t grabbed them from the middle, and they were sitting mixed up in the muck. Without my saying anything, people agreed I could just take the top two cards off the deck (no, I wasn’t the dealer) and play them. So I got two cards, and they were… the Ace-King of diamonds. I called the raise and saw a flop of… three diamonds, for the nut flush. The small blind bet into me, and I called, and everyone else folded. The turn and river bricked, and I got it all in on the river. My opponent thought a while and called, then mucked to my flush. He said he had a set, which was the only hand that made sense to me, other than a lower flush. He said my call on the flop confused him into thinking I didn’t have the flush, which was more-or-less what I’d intended. It was a little funny since he slowplayed several big hands that evening.
I wonder what the two cards I didn’t get to play were?
I signed up to watch some friends’ cats this past weekend, and kept plenty busy besides, reading for our book discussion on Sunday, cooking meals, and running errands. As usual I didn’t get half as much done as I’d intended. I also took Newton and Roulette in for their annual check-ups on Saturday. Newton’s down to just 4-1/2 pounds or so, but the vet says he seems happy and fairly healthy otherwise. We’re giving him more subcutaneous fluids but otherwise keeping things about the same unless things change. I’m glad he’s happy. He’ll turn 19 next month, which is just mind-blowing.
The kittens are doing well. They sleep with me every night and usually snuggle with me in the morning. I think Roulette is very gradually coming to accept them, but it’ll probably be months yet before they snooze together. All the cats were happy that it was so warm this weekend that I opened up the windows until sundown.
Today, alas, I’ve come down with something, so I had to bail on hosting Magic tonight and I’m sitting quietly on the couch (having eaten too much hamburger and tater tots for dinner). Debbi’s back tomorrow, and then things will be back to normal for a while. It’ll be nice.
The kittens have had the run of the house for about a month and a half now, and things seem to be going well. There are some expected bumps, though.
Jackson is turning out to be the troublemaker. He’s gone behind the A/V cabinet and chewed on some of the thinner cables, breaking both the AM and FM antennae for my receiver. (It turns out those are hard to replace – no one really carries replacements!) We’ve piled empty boxes back there, but he keeps trying to get back there anyway. Then we grab him and put him in time out (holding him against his will) and he mews pitifully. He tries to force his way into our food at meal time, and yesterday stood on a spoon covered in pesto sauce while licking a plate. He likes to “help” me scoop the litter, standing in the box and batting at the scoop.
Sadie is not quite as rambunctious, and has gotten snugglier as she’s grown up. She likes getting attention in the middle of the night, which is not ideal, but she also likes to check out what people are doing. Sometimes I’ll be in the study and she’ll walk in meowing, and I think she just wanted to know where I am and make sure I’m okay. One morning she climbed through the shade in the front window to watch me leave for work.
Sadie is turning out to be a medium-long haired cat, which I would not have guessed from when she was a kitten. I’ll need to get her used to getting brushed. Jackson is definitely short-haired, and his fur is starting to soften a little. Jackson is going to be long and lanky, as I think I’ve said before, while Sadie will have a more compact body.
(click for larger images)
The kittens get along very well with Newton, and often sleep with him. I think Newton enjoys the attention, and I wonder if he was a little bored, lonely, or even feeling a little abandoned before the kittens, since he now spends time with them in group grooming sessions and seems a little perkier and happier (now that Sadie isn’t pouncing on him). I know he doesn’t like all the medicines and subcutaneous fluids he has to take, so the more innocent attention the kittens give him might make him happy. He’s also taught them about drinking out of the sink in the downstairs bathroom.
Getting along with Roulette is taking longer. There’s still some hissing, and Sadie sometimes chases her, which we can’t really tell whether she enjoys or not. Maybe sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn’t. Sadie really wants to be like Rou, and we often see her imitating the big cat. They don’t quite sleep together in the sun on the guest bed, but close. Jackson has tried to win her over by being snuggly like he was with Newton, but so far it hasn’t worked. But at least Roulette isn’t hiding under the bed all the time, and Debbi even saw her and Jackson playing next to each other in some brown packing paper we’d put on the floor.
They’ve also been doing very well with guests: We had Chad & Camille and their kids over last weekend and the kittens were quite sociable. Today we had Subrata & Susan and their son over for part of the Super Bowl and they again were quite happy to check out everything everyone was doing. It’s nice not to have either cat running and hiding when people come over.
Yesterday we took the kittens to the vet for their last round of shots. When we were there a little over a month ago, Sadie was around 4 lbs and Jackson was a bit over 3 lbs. Jackson has passed Sadie and is now at 7 lbs, while Sadie is a little over 6 lbs. The vet thinks Jackson will be a 14-15 lb kitty, while Sadie will be 10-11. That’s gonna be a lot of Jackson to deal with!
Jackson is proofreading this post as I type, so I’ll sign off with a picture of the two of us. Carefully taken to crop out (most of) the horrible bed-head I had that morning before my shower:
I picked up this mystery – the first in a series – because of its core hook: In the present day (around 2003, when the book was published, I guess), a bomb goes off in London destroying the headquarters of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, and its key investigator, Arthur Bryant. His partner, John May, is left to find out who killed him, and finds that Bryant was researching his memoirs and had recently been looking into the details of their first case together. The majority of the book chronicles that first case, when May first joined the unit and the pair searched for a killer at the Palace Theatre during the Blitz, at the end of 1940.
The story chronicles the assembly of the Peculiar Crimes Unit at a time when most able-bodied young men are fighting in World War II, and with some opposition from the police leadership. Bryant and May are introduced to the theater life and investigate the murders of several performers in a soon-to-open run of Orpheus in the Underworld. While the book features some detective work and some action, it’s at its best when it’s chronicling life during the Blitz, and in introducing us to the characters of Bryant and May.
The pair have a certain Holmes-and-Watson dynamic, with Bryant being the book-smart, eccentric one, while May is more the man of action. But Bryant is also highly eccentric, believing in spiritualism and being somewhat sickly, while May is a rationalist and merely Bryant’s sidekick. Both men are in their early 20s in 1940, and Bryant puts on an air of experience and competence, while May is greener and admits it to himself. Interestingly, Fowler eschews the “odd couple” approach and paints them as a pair of men with personal and professional respect for one another, united in their common cause rather than divided by their differences. Readers might find the story at times has echoes of Sherlock or Life on Mars, though the novel predates both of those series by several years.
For all that, the mystery – in both time periods – proves to be a little disappointing (the 1940 mystery’s culprit bears more than a passing resemblance to a considerably more famous – and older – work, which I won’t name since it would be a huge spoiler), both solutions feeling a little like they were pulled out of nowhere (the questions that I thought the reader could reasonably anticipate turned out to be red herrings). They serve, rather, to illuminate the characters of Bryant and May further, which works fairly well, but makes the book feel different from a standard mystery.
Fowler has a facility for a wry turn of phrase, and I found myself reading lines that amused me out loud to whomever was around when I was reading. It’s a sense of humor that is playful but understated, and it’s perhaps the best part of the book.
While overall a fun book, it felt a little lightweight when I got to the end. Still, I was entertained enough that I’ll head on to the next in the series and see if things get better fleshed out now that the characters are established.