Saturday, December 12, 2009

Truman, 1996 - December 10, 2009

It seems almost surreal to be writing a eulogy for Truman just 15 days after Woody's death. Yet somehow at the same time it seems to make sense. Truman and Woody were best friends, were very connected, and were definitely a pair.

We first met Truman at an adoption even held in Balboa Park by a group called FOCAS. We actually almost missed Truman; we had spotted another grey cat that we liked but when we inquired the people said someone had already started the adoption process. Jayson pointed out Truman and I hesitated saying that we shouldn't rush and wait for the right cat. However, the more we spent time with Truman the more interested we were. Turns out he was the right cat. Truman had been a stray who ended up at animal shelter and was picked up by FOCAS and put into a foster home. As part of the adoption process his foster mother brought him to our house, mostly to check out the environment to see if it was suitable, plus to give the cat time to adjust with a familiar person there. When she opened the cat carrier Truman walked out, put his tail up, looked around, and walked upstairs to explore. It was clear that he was home.

We soon found out that Truman had a little problem with a sensitive stomach. Luckily FOCAS was wonderful with us and paid for all of his vet bills, as well as dropped off 75 pounds of litter to help us out. They knew that would be the best parents possible and wanted to do what they could to make sure we kept him. I think they knew that if Truman went back into foster care that he wouldn't be adoptable again. We were more than happy to do what we could to get him better and had no intention of returning him. His problematic stomach would actually stay with him his entire life but at least we were able to keep it under control.

For a cat with a sensitive stomach Truman was something of a chow hound. He was picky about what he ate, but he'd eat as much as he could get. No matter how much we fed him, he always wanted more. It got to be annoying on weekend mornings when he would decide it was time to eat and he wasn't going to take no for an answer. Eventually we got an automatic feeder and he began to pester that for food. Truman got pretty heavy at one point in his life but his vet pointed out that because of his overall size he wasn't grossly overweight. He was just a big cat, almost 3' from nose to tail. Even then, when he got over 21 pounds we decided that it was time for a diet. He wasn't thrilled by that and it became a game of trying to keep him from eating the dog's food, which only aggravated his stomach.

It's ironic that he loved dog food since most people who met him realized that he had as many dog characteristics as he did cat characteristics. When someone came to the door he would be there before the dog to see who it was. When we had visitors over he was in constant competition with the dog for attention. Adding in his being a chow hound and he did seem like a dog at times. He was referred to as the coolest cat ever by more than one person, and he really was. Even taking him to the vet, where they see hundreds of animals, he was a celebrity. Everyone there commented on how relaxed he was, and how unusual of a cat he was. He was an incredibly lovable cat. He could spend hours being rubbed and petted. I always thought it was nice that unlike so many cats who want attention only on their terms, Truman was always happy to accept attention and return love.

Unlike most cats, Truman liked to travel. We realized it on our trip up to Seattle when we moved here. After getting over the newness of being in the car he just relaxed and enjoyed the drive. When we would stop at a hotel he loved exploring the place; he wasn't scared or intimidated at all. The same thing happened in the different places we lived in Seattle. Each one was home as long as the two of us and the dog were there. After we bought a boat he even took to that once he got past the sound of the engine and the strange movement. He would camp up in the forward bunk while we were underway and just enjoy the ride. At the dock or at anchor he was very happy to explore both inside and out. It made it very nice to be able to have the whole family together for weekends away from home.

As he got older Truman slowed down, like most cats do. He still had his favorite toys that got his attention. His foster mother had told us that he loved anything with feathers and she was right. He also absolutely loved little furry mice with beads inside that rattled. If he had one of those around, he was perfectly content. We eventually found a rattle mouse with feathers on the end and that seemed to be the ultimate toy. He had a fondness for ripping off the fur and eating the feathers and would still play with the inside rattle part of the thing.

During his last year Truman had some health problems. Earlier in 2009 he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. We noticed he had been losing a lot of weight and that he just seemed ill. The vet quickly diagnosed the problem and we had him treated for that. He responded well at first to the treatment but then the problem was back. The vet put him on pills to regulate his thyroid and that had an effect. Unfortunately at the same time we began noticing blood in his litter box. The vet did some standards tests but couldn't find anything through those. To go any further would require a colonoscopy or exploratory surgery. Neither seemed like a good option since they would be expensive, would be uncomfortable to the cat, and wouldn't fix any problem, only diagnose it. The vet theorized that it could be inflamed colon disease or possible even colon cancer. There was no way to know.

There was a bad spell around the beginning of November and we really thought that it was the end for Truman. However, he rallied and seemed to be much better. It was obvious that he was tired and didn't have tons of energy but he was still lovable and was getting around better than he had in a while. Sadly, last weekend the bleeding returned and Truman very quickly lost all of his energy. Most of his time the last few days was spent on the sofa. Even then he was still lovable even though it seems to tire him out to lift his head. On Thursday Jayson found him curled up in his litter box. It looked like he had found a dark quiet spot and just curled up and went to sleep. I'm glad that he was able to spend his last days at home and when the time came, to die quietly.

I've never met another cat like Truman, and I wonder if I ever will. He was really a special cat with a lot of unique characteristics. I'm so happy that after living life as a stray he was able to find a home, and that the home was with us. He was very well loved and I definitely felt the love from him. It's strangely quiet in the house with both him and Woody gone. I suppose it's the end of an era.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Woody, 1994 - November 25, 2009

We got Woody from a shelter almost exactly 12 years ago. The shelter was doing an adoption event at a pet store; we saw him and decided he seemed like the dog for us. He was 2 1/2 at the time and we liked the idea of an adult dog. We took to each other right away, and it was definitely a good fit. He was a cocker spaniel/blue heeler mix (we think) and was full of energy. He used to do what I called "touch and goes": he'd run full speed from one end of the apartment to the other, dozens of times. I never knew where he got the energy but whenever we'd take him out he seemed like he could go on forever. He always had a smile on his face. It's hard to say that a dog is smiling, but you could see it on him.

He loved to ride in the car but hated motorcycles. When a cycle would pull up next to the car you'd think he was about to jump through the window. His love of riding in the car became a fun game for a while where I would let him jump into the backseat, close the door, walk around to the other side and let him out. He was so excited that he'd gotten to be in the car. It was just as good as going somewhere to him. When we first took him to the boat he was afraid of the sound of the motor and the motion. Eventually, and suddenly, he got over his fear of the boat and began to love it. He could watch the world go by on the boat, bark at seagulls, and try to psych out the geese on the water the paddle too close to the boat.

Woody had one very particular quirk that just added to the cuteness: when he was relaxed and happy the last 3/4" of his tongue would stick out between his teeth. It made him look a little like he should be riding the short bus, but it just meant that he was relaxed. In spite of looking stupid he was a really smart dog, and he knew how to use it. He could play people to get the attention he wanted, and in time became expert at it. Without fail every time we would encounter other people they would mistake him for a puppy. It wasn't only his energy, it was his happiness. You could just see on his face that he was the happiest dog, and even happier when people were giving him attention.

As he got older he never lost that puppy-like demeanor. He slowed down gradually over time, but his happiness continued to show through. We were asked about his age less often, but even at age 14 people were still asking if he was a puppy. We were able to take him more places because of him being a little more mellow and he just loved being out. His last big trip was to Oregon a few weeks ago and, even though I was in a different vehicle, I'm guessing he loved being in the car watching the world go by for that long.

Sadly, during his last few weeks he was clearly in pain. He didn't show it at first but it became eventually obvious. His puppiness still showed through even though he spent a lot of time sleeping. When we had to put him to sleep on Tuesday it seemed surreal to be doing that when he still had moments of being so full of life. That's the thing I'll remember most about him, that he was so full of life, and seemed to enjoy every moment of it. Putting him to sleep was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life, but he couldn't live in pain and there was no way to fix his problem. I almost couldn't bear to see him go, but was glad on some level that I could be here with him holding him during his last moments and send him on his way with love. As difficult as it as I had to be there for him, one of my best friends. For a 30 pound dog, he touched a lot of lives. I miss him.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What he said...ditto

I haven't paid much attention to this blog lately; seems I always have other things to do. It's apparently a cyclical thing for me, so I'll try to begin an "up" cycle and see where it goes.

Thomas Friedman, with whom I don't always agree, has a good Op-Ed in the NY Times today (free registration required to read the link). I think what he's saying is correct, but I'm not sure as a country we'll change the political path we're on. Instead of working to solve so many of the obvious problems in the country we're concerned only with politics. I know politics have been around a lot more years than I have but they level of "noise" has not been this shrill before, at least not in my lifetime. Instead of having substantive debates about the issues we've got people painting Hitler moustaches on pictures of Obama and saying he's a Nazi Communist (do those people even know what each of those terms means, and understand the irony of their statement?). Instead of of using the "town hall" meetings that many members of Congress held over the summer to have a rational discussion over issues, there was an organized effort to simply disrupt them so that nothing got discussed, and no information got shared. I can only think that they were afraid of a calm rational discussion in those town halls because they had nothing rational to present to make their case.

Don't people realize that through their short-sighted hatred of the president and simply being sore losers that they are shooting themselves in the foot, and shooting the rest of the country in the foot at the same time? I do not understand how trying to incite violence against the president is accomplishing anything, other than those people being tools for the right-wing politicians. Devolving the country into chaos will not serve their interests, although they are being told that it will. I can understand them practicing dissent, but they've gone far beyond dissent. The people trying to delegitimize Obama actually seem very proud of themselves; I see them as somewhat pathetic in that they have no rational argument to present and are merely parroting what they're told. Sadly, I don't see this ending any time soon, and not ending well when it does.

Friday, September 18, 2009

For those who consider single-payer healthcare to be socialist

Please read and then sign this:

The Socialist-Free Purity Pledge

I, ________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:
  • I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.
  • I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.
  • I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls. Also.
  • I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:
  • Social Security
  • Medicare/Medicaid
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
  • Police, Fire, and Emergency Services
  • US Postal Service
  • Roads and Highways
  • Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
  • The US Railway System
  • Public Subways and Metro Systems
  • Public Bus and Lightrail Systems
  • Rest Areas on Highways
  • Sidewalks
  • All Government-Funded Local/State Projects (e.g., see Iowa 2009 federal senate appropriations)
  • Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)
  • Public and State Universities and Colleges
  • Public Primary and Secondary Schools
  • Sesame Street
  • Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children
  • Public Museums
  • Libraries
  • Public Parks and Beaches
  • State and National Parks
  • Public Zoos
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services
  • Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, State or Federal Government (pretty much all of them)
  • Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them)
  • Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA Inventions)
  • Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD's ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking
  • Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies
  • Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs From Government Subsidies
  • If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care
  • I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
  • I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:
  • Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
  • The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments
  • The government-operated Statue of Liberty
  • The Grand Canyon
  • The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
  • The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery
  • All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC
  • I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare.
  • I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.
  • I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.
  • I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.
  • Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.
  • Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.



Printed Name/Town and State

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vacation pics, late as usual

So without much comment here are pics from my trip to Colorado in August. I had an amazing time; it was great seeing both my mother and aunt, and I had fun in everything we did. We hiked, ate, shopped, ate, wandered around, ate, and just relaxed (and ate). I've been going to my aunt's place in Vail since I was about 10, but hadn't been there in about 15 years. It was nice to go back and see the place again. It has changed in a lot of ways, but hasn't changed in a lot of other ways. The only thing that didn't work out like we had hoped was the hike up the mountain my mother and I attempted. It was 4.5 miles with a 2500 foot climb in elevation. Seeing as we were starting at 8300 feet, it was a little too ambitious. We made it a little ways up and decided it would take us all day to make it to the top, if we did make it to the top. Beyond that it was a great trip and I'm very glad I decided to go. It made a nice birthday gift to myself.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Happy birthday to me

Well, another year has gone by, and I've reached the ripe old age of 41. It's been an interesting year with some good stuff and some bad stuff. So, in general, a normal year. I was going to take today off work but then ended up with last minute travel plans, so I'm taking all of next week off instead.

I was talking to my mother and aunt about their trip to Vail next week and they kept saying they wanted me to go, and I realized that I really wanted to go. So, I am. I leave tomorrow afternoon and come back the following Saturday. I used to spend a week in Vail with my aunt almost every summer when I was younger. It's been years since I've been there and I'm excited to be going. Plus, this is the first time I'll have spent any time alone together with my mother and aunt as an adult, and that should be interesting. We've always gotten along well and I think it will be nice finally spending time together as adults. I don't know what's planned, if anything, but I'm really looking forward to the trip.

I don't know what's planned for tonight. Maybe dinner out, maybe some gifts. No matter what, I'm sure it'll be enjoyable.

Since so many other people seem to post what happened in history on their birthday, I'll do the same

  • 1806 - The Holy Roman Empire went out of existence as Emperor Francis I abdicated.
  • 1911 - Lucille Ball was born.
  • 1914 - Serbia declares war on Germany; Austria declares war on Russia.
  • 1945 - Hiroshima is bombed, killing 66,000 people instantly.
  • 1968 - I was born.
Not a real auspicious day. An empire collapses, World War I begins, the first atomic bomb dropped on a city... At least Lucille Ball is in there to break up the bad stuff.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Great essay on marriage equlity

There's a very good essay in the WSJ written by one of the attorneys pushing to overturn California's prop 8 at the federal level. He makes some very good points, and takes on some of the anti-gay arguments that aren't, and have never been, valid.

By contrast, there is no legitimate state policy underlying Proposition 8. The occasional suggestion that marriages between people of different sexes may somehow be threatened by marriages of people of the same sex does not withstand discussion. It is difficult to the point of impossibility to envision two love-struck heterosexuals contemplating marriage to decide against it because gays and lesbians also have the right to marry; it is equally hard to envision a couple whose marriage is troubled basing the decision of whether to divorce on whether their gay neighbors are married or living in a domestic partnership.

If we were prepared to consign minority rights to a majority vote, there would be no need for a constitution.
It's worth a read and the entire essay can be seen here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

No comment needed

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Overheard in the lunchroom

"I don't blog because my time and opinions are too valuable to give out for free. Once someone starts paying me to do it, then I'll start blogging."

I never knew undergraduate interns were in such high demand.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The dangers of walking while texting

It really was only a matter of time before we heard stories like this. I see people walking and typing on their phones all the time. Here in Seattle, walking and texting is nothing; I see people driving and texting, riding motorcycles and texting, and riding bikes and texting. This girl was lucky that she wasn't seriously injured, but I'm sure that's already happened somewhere else, and will happen again. People seem to forget how much concentration it takes to type a reply to a message. They seem to think their brains can easily handle doing multiple things at once when most people can barely handle doing one simple thing at a time.

I admit that I'm guilty of using my phone while doing other things. However, I do make a conscious effort to pay attention to what I'm doing when I'm walking, crossing the street, etc. If I'm walking and need to reply I simply step aside and type.