A Little Time Off

I’ve got the week off from work, so I’ve been hanging around the house working on various projects. My big accomplishment was to catalogue 4 months’ worth of comics and file them. (I sold a bunch of ones I decided not to keep back to my store for store credit. Handy trick, that!) The next project was to go through a whole bunch of old electronic gear and prep it to get rid of: Wiping hard drives on old laptops, figuring out which old cables and accessories to keep, and so on. It’s amazing how this crap builds up over the years.

I spent this morning reconfiguring our wireless network. I recently bought a new DSL modem (the old one died spontaneously two weeks ago), and also got our DSL upgraded, so I wanted to reposition the wireless base station to get better signal downstairs. An hour of fiddling with modem and base station configuration, and running ethernet cable across the room, everything’s working again, and indeed we do seem to be getting faster connections downstairs.

My next computer trick will be to sign up for Magic Online so I can waste time playing Magic a different way. I’ve repurposed my previous-generation MacBook Pro for this by installing Windows 7 on it, and I’ll probably sign up this weekend. It’s been a decade since I used Windows regularly, and it’s really weird: It feels like I’m flashing back to the 1990s, as other than brighter colors it seems like it hasn’t really changed since Windows 95. I imagine it will take a little experience to remember how it all works. (Not to mention that I hear the interface to Magic Online is pretty crappy. I can’t believe they haven’t written a Mac client for it; seems like Wizards of the Coast is living in the 90s when it comes to technology, too.)

I also got some good news this morning: Last Friday I took Newton to the vet for oral surgery. In addition to a tooth cleaning, he’d grown a mass on the inside of one cheek, which he had removed. I was quite worried about him, not just about the mass but because he’s had alarming drops in blood pressure when he’d been anesthetized in the past, and he’s now 16-1/2 years old, so I wasn’t sure how well he’d handle another round of surgery. Turns out he came through it fine, and today the vet called to say that the biopsy of the mass showed it to be benign. A big relief all around! He’s been extra-snuggly since he came home from the vet, too.

We’re having quite a cold snap this week: Cities in the area recorded record low temperatures last night, and it may be even colder tonight. Nothing my Boston-incubated blood can’t handle, of course. But quite a shock considering it was cracking 80 a little over a week ago.

We’re having a quiet Thanksgiving tomorrow, though we’re still cooking the full Turkey Day dinner. Most of it works fine as leftovers, after all. We can probably put them outside to keep them frozen overnight!

Christmas Photos

A few photos from our Christmas. First, Jefferson and Newton each sacked out in the scratch lounge my Mom bought for them:

Jefferson in the scratch lounge Newton in the scratch lounge

None of the cats have really figured out the “scratch” part of the lounge – well, Newton scratched at it briefly, but only once. They’ll probably work it out. We’ve never had cardboard scratchers for them that I can recall, just rope and carpet posts. (Newton and Roulette prefer carpet, while Jefferson and Blackjack prefer rope.)

Lastly, here’s our artificial tree:

Our artificial Christmas tree

Not bad, eh?

Kitty Update

Most of my weekend was taken up with reading, specifically reading Joan Vinge’s Catspaw for our book discussion group, as well as its predecessor Psion. More about then later.

Besides that we got together with Subrata and Susan on Friday night for dinner and games – we’ve apparently hooked Susan on playing dominoes. We had an excellent time, reducing ourselves to complete hysterical laughter by the end of the evening, which is always a good way to start a weekend.

The other component of the weekend was less fun, though. As I mentioned not long ago, Jefferson has been having some digestive issues, for which he got to take antibiotics and then some stuff to help his digestive tract. The former stuff was liquid which he absolutely hated (and got to take twice a day – lucky us), while the latter is a powder I mix into some wet food which he absolutely loves. (And so do the other three cats, which means I get to spend ten minutes herding them away from him so he can eat in peace.)

Well, Saturday afternoon Jeff started behaving strangely: First he started yelping at the other cats when they got too close to him, and then he decided to spend Saturday evening and most of Sunday upstairs under the futon in the study. He didn’t even come down for dinner.

Sunday afternoon I tried bringing him up a bowl of water, and he immediately pulled himself over to the bowl and drank from it. So we tried bringing up some food at mealtime, and he was perfectly happy to eat that, too. By the evening he started coming out from under the futon, and he spent an hour on the futon with Debbi. This morning he came down for dinner, and also came to check me out of his own accord while I was lying in bed trying to get up. He went back to lie on the futon after breakfast, but didn’t seem as skittish as he was before.

So we’re not sure what happened. I talked to the vet this morning and it sounds like his medications are likely not the culprit, since he’s been on them for over a week and they’re not the sort of thing likely to build up to a “critical mass” change in his behavior. So he might have just gotten an upset tummy for some reason, or maybe he ate something he wasn’t supposed to and it laid him low for a day. I dunno.

Hopefully he’ll be back to normal by tomorrow, and then all I have to worry about is his original digestive problems, which haven’t gotten any better that I can tell, but don’t seem to be bothering him very much, either.

If you’d asked me a few years ago which cat would have caused me the most trouble as he moved into old age, I’d have said Newton. But other than losing some weight (probably due to a borderline-high thyroid, but not one so high that the vet thinks he needs medication yet), he seems healthy as a horse. Even his teeth – in lousy shape for most of his life – seem to be holding up well! So he’ll probably be wrestling with Blackjack for years to come. But it looks like Jefferson is going to be getting better acquainted with the vet over the next few years.


Cat Checkup

Having put jury duty behind me, my next task was to take my cats – Jefferson and Newton – into the vet for a check-up. They’re now over 13 years old, which is pretty old in kitty years. Lots of kitties – even indoor ones – don’t make it that long! They’re both in pretty good health, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure. I decided after some dithering to switch to the vet Debbi uses, the Mid-Peninsula Animal Hospital, since I’ve liked them slightly better than my vet the times I’ve taken her cats in there. (Unfortunately I live a little too far to make it to the Cat Hospital in Campbell, or I’d still be going there.)

Jeff has recently been having some problems with, well, his stool being watery. But no other symptoms of anything that I’ve observed. The vet said this could be due to a very long list of things, from parasites (improbable in an older, indoor cat) to inflamed bowels to more serious things. So he gave a blood sample to be tested, and he’s on antibiotics and then some other drugs for a few weeks to eliminate some possibilities. Jefferson hates taking liquid drugs – he drools all over the place – so this will be plenty of fun, believe me.

Newton, meanwhile, has lost over a pound since his last checkup, and is definitely the smallest of our four cats now (Roulette is around 10 pounds, Newton is 8). He hasn’t shown any symptoms of anything else, although he was so active and squirmy in the vet’s office that they said it’s possible he could have a hyperactive thyroid. So he’s also getting some blood tests done. I’ll probably try to feed him a little more in the future, too; it’s very hard to regulate food when you have four cats!

So the news was I guess about what I expected, pending the results of the tests. They’re both still active and friendly so I’m optimistic that they’re still in pretty good shape. But they are getting up there, and I need to keep that in mind.

When we got home, Blackjack started following Jeff around and sniffing at him, which didn’t endear him to Jeff. I eventually separated them since Jefferson didn’t need the extra stress. I’m sure they all just went to sleep when I left for work, anyway!

Cat Update

Last night I pulled out the carrying case for Blackjack and Roulette, and look where Newton was 2 minutes later:



The kittens (who, I should note, are 3-1/2 years old now, but since the cats are 9 years older, there’s little ambiguity) went to the vet yesterday. Blackjack was running a serious fever, and had an eye infection. How cats whose outdoor experience is limited to supervised outings to the upstairs porch get this ill is beyond my understanding, but we got two kinds of kitty-drugs for him. He slept hard all night and although he’s still congested this morning, I think he seems better. The vet thinks he started out with a cold (virus), and then somehow ended up with a bacterial infection.

Roulette has started sneezing too, so she gets to share the drugs.

I’ve become fanatical about washing the cats’ food dishes after feeding them, and changing their water frequently, so hopefully Newton and Jefferson will not catch the cold.

Fortunately, everyone’s been eating and drinking, so I don’t think any of this is deadly serious. But I’ll be happy when things are back to normal.

Meanwhile, I’m glad we’re not dealing with cats licking all the hair off their body, as both an old friend and a local one are handling recently.

New Toy

I got a new toy this weekend, a Canon PowerShot SD800 IS camera, replacing my venerable Nikon, which was nice enough but pretty low-tech by comparison. So far, I like it a lot, although I think the cost of memory cards is quite a racket!

Here’s one of the first pictures I’ve taken with it:


Aren’t they adorable?

The new camera takes surprisingly good pictures of Blackjack, who usually just looks like a black blob with yellow eyes.