Tag: Cats

Holiday catch-up


It's July 4th weekend (still, barely) and I've been spending my time in the garage building yet another comic cabinet, watching baseball, and binging season 2 of Star Trek: Prodigy.

Some stray thoughts from the week:

  • Driving home from umpiring last week, a dashboard warning light came on in my car. It's one I've seen before and I know from that experience that it's nothing urgent, just a computer fault related to overdrive, which rarely kicks in anyway. It was a one-off, hasn't happened again. Even so, it got me thinking that the next time something goes wrong with this 25-year-old jalopy it won't be worth fixing. It probably wasn't worth putting in the new exhaust system I shelled out three grand for four or five months ago. So I've been looking at used cars, wondering what I could possibly afford that would be a significant step up, and I've decided on a Prius. Not immediately, but probably before the year's out, if I find a good enough price on a well-maintained model from a year without a lot of reported issues. If anyone reading this is a Prius person, please let me know if the stuff I'm reading online about Generation III Priuses (Prii?) being inferior to what came before as well as after is real or bunk. A Gen II is likely what I'll end up with as I want to keep the purchase price low.
  • It has been one year and four days since I brought Mizuki home from the King County Animal Shelter as a we-think-nine-week-old kitten last July 3rd. It's been a good year and four days. She is healthy, less skittish (but still afraid of unfamiliar people—makes me wonder what happened to her in those we-think-nine-weeks before she came to live here), and maybe 2/3 grown. She loves her kitty fam, playing with Zephyr on the daily and cuddling with Raimei most nights. I am very glad I adopted her and I'd like to think she is too.


  • I am sick and tired of the Mariners striking out. Particularly when it really matters, as all strikeouts are not equal. Like today, when Ty France struck out with the winning run on 3rd and one out in the 9th. It's not a new problem, last year the M's were K machines and their strikeout tendencies actually got worse with that kind of easy RBI opportunity. It still happens a lot, though I've not done the research to know if they again lead the baseball world in Ks with a runner at 3rd and 0 or 1 out. Wouldn't surprise me at all if they do. At some point this season, I predict they will break their own record of 20 strikeouts in a game.
  • Two such unforgiveable strikeouts occurred in their July 4th game, which I attended. They overcame that and went on to victory, though, so the failures will be lost to time. But I noted it in the scorecard anyway. Still, a fun game on a pleasant holiday afternoon, viewed from the club level:


  • After that, the B's and I headed up to Everett for a doubleheader of sorts and took in the Class-A AquaSox's rout of the Vancouver Canadians (that club really needs a better name) and had almost the exact same vantage point:


    A small-town fireworks show followed, which was pleasantly ordinary as such things go.
  • This year, July 4th had a whole different aura to it because of what the Supreme Court has done recently and because of the massive anxiety attack the country is having over the presidential race. But that's another post.
  • Star Trek: Prodigy season 2 is really good. Yes, it's a kids show, yes, it's got a lot of Voyager trappings, but it's really well-done and I heartily recommend it to kids of its target demo and to nerds of any age. (Just keep in mind who the target demo is.)

There's probably more stuff I could pontificate on, but it'll wait. It's approaching midnight and I haven't eaten yet. Must rectify that.


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Keeping busy

I've not posted anything here since the holidays, and, well, that's partly because the holidays suck and I didn't want to belabor that. And partly because, since they do suck, and since I'm also saddled with my ever-present Black Hole of clinical depression, there's been a bit of a lag time in surfacing from the latest dip into the Black Hole's gravity well. It's almost a given that said gravity will take hold around the end of the year, and the trick is how long will it take to climb back to a stable orbit.

It's been slow going. Fits and starts. Altitude gain followed by backslides. But two weeks into the year I can sense a sort of normalcy returning.

One way to fight the pull and get closer to apogee is a project. Focus on building something. So, in addition to a client gig that I just finished today, I've had a few things in progress: More eBay stuff, improving the lighting in my living room, and solving the problem of Preventing Damage From Cat on Printer/Scanner.

Zephyr is now a grownup kitty. Took him a couple of years to fill out to his adult weight, but he's there now. Even though he's still a runt, he behaves like a more massive feline since he has all the grace and agility of Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford. And whenever I'm at my desk he likes to climb up on my scanner, which is part of the reason I had to replace said scanner after the sheet feed apparatus broke and the internal mechanism relying on a belt that moves the imager back and forth became became, well, wonky and inconsistent. I'd rather not replace the new one because of more cat damage, but convincing him to stay off of it is a losing battle.

Hence, my solution. Some wood scraps screwed together into brackets, a cheap piece of OSB plywood, a hinge, a piece of leftover carpet, and some paint. This evening I have the finished product doing it's thing.





Next up will be extending the overhead track lights, for which I am awaiting parts.

And one of these days I need to fix the Cloud Five site, which has been broken for a while. In case I ever want to revive that.


Bright spots

Gifts from the field

Though my climb back to stable orbit continues, it's been slow going and I've not gotten a lot accomplished of late. But there have been a few highlights that perked me up a bit:

  • Mizuki went in to see the vet yesterday and was a champ. Scared out of her little kitten mind, but bravely got through being groped and stuck with needles and she's now had all her shots until next year. She was very popular with Dr. S and the whole staff at Cats Exclusive and I have to admit I liked it when she ran from the technician back to me when they were done with the shots. Don't worry, Tiny Moon, I've gotcha.
  • I umpired a playoff series the other night, three games, and when one of the guys playing in the second game showed up early he saw I was the ump for the night and texted his teammates: "We got Tim tonight!!" It did me good, I wasn't feeling too well before heading to the park. That team won their semifinal but lost the championship game to a squad that also knows me by name now. The softball season is coming to a close soon, but meanwhile it's nice to be appreciated there.
  • Relatedly, last week (or sometime? The days have all melded together lately) I umped another game with The Leftovers, who presented me with a team-branded beer cozy. I don't drink beer, but it functions as a Coke cozy just fine and I discovered they name-checked me on the thing:
    That's pretty great. Many thanks to Neal and the rest of the team.
  • Lower Decks is back! The new season got off to a pretty good start, not the best but still fun. I guess if you're a Voyager fan you'd appreciate it more, but that to me is the bad Trek. On the other hand, they made great fun of some of the goofiest/dumbest things about that series, so that's a plus. I see this LD ep as less of a "valentine" as a well-deserved mockery of some really terrible Star Trek.

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New Moon

Mizuki makes three

Meet Mizuki. She is approximately nine weeks old and is my latest feline companion. Mizuki brings the StarshipTim cat household back to three, which, depending on your perspective, is either full capacity or one over capacity.

Two was my standard forever until recently. I had my own cat as a kid (a series of them, actually, it's a sad tale; the one I got when I was 14 broke the cycle of early kitty demises), and there was at least one family cat as well. When I was 18 the family cat had kittens and I convinced my mom to keep one, and from then on I had two. Those two moved north with me when I left home and they lived to moderately elder status (17 and 15½), and when each passed away I got another in relatively short order. I got a third in December of 2019, as at that point I had an elderly cat (Bansei, 17) and a youngster (Raimei, 1½), and the youngster needed a playmate. I figured this third, who became Zephyr, was kind of an advance; Bansei wasn't going to be with me all that many more years (about 18 months, as it turned out) and this way her remaining time wouldn't be hindered by unwanted attention from a just-beyond-kitten that kept trying to chase and play.

So that was the plan, and since Bansei left us the norm of two reigned again, as intended.

But I missed her, as I miss all four of my longer-lived departed kitties, and more to the point, I had kind of gotten used to having three. Still, not a good enough reason to get another one. I mean, two is fine, three puts me on the edge of becoming Crazy Cat Guy.

The other thing influencing me was my fucked-up brain chemistry, which often imposes bouts of depression in varying degrees. When in the hold of the more potent episodes, I tend to feel like I'm unfulfilled and not good at grown-up life, but one thing I am very good at and do very well is give kitties good and happy lives. And their presence helps mitigate those episodes. So it was within such a context that I preliminarily decided to adopt a new kitten.

Hiding behind the Sturgeon and the Vonnegut to get the lay of the land

I know, however, not to act on any whims while in a depressive episode. I've figured that out over the years. But the thought continued to percolate and I still felt like the upside outweighed the downside, even after I ran the numbers. Cats can be expensive, to unpredictable degrees; Pixel had basically one bad health issue while in her youth and that was all until she was 18 and rapidly came down with a cancer of some sort, while Bansei was in and out of the hospital numerous times for liver problems, repeated dental issues, and an ultimately fatal long-term kidney disease. It's a crapshoot whether this new one will tend toward the Pixel end of relative thrift or the Bansei end of tremendous financial cost. But I estimated an average cost of $100-$160 per month per cat over a 20-year lifetime (backloaded, to be sure) in 2023 dollars and I can swing that times three.

So I prepped, telling myself I still hadn't decided. I made a three-dish feeding station. I bought a third carrier. Researched the best available kitten foods, even though they likely hadn't changed much in the last few years. Then I started to expand the catwalk in my office to connect to the bedroom. At that point I recognized that "I hadn't decided yet" was bullshit.

So yesterday I checked out the PAWS website (PAWS is where Pixel, Raimei, and Zephyr all came from) for available kittens, and they had none. So I drove down to the county animal shelter in Kent to see who they might have. I got Bansei from that shelter in 2002, and back then that place was awful, it was like kitty POW camp. Today, though, it's much nicer, the cages are much larger, the cats and dogs are separated, and the environment is much less scary, which I was pleased to see.

Enjoying the breeze from a fan on my desk

The County shelter had one female kitten and several males. My experience with Zeph's kittenhood suggested that another boy kitten would be problematic, so I looked at the girl. Initially it didn't seem like a good fit, only because she was a brown tabby just like Bansei was and I didn't want a cat that seemed like a Bansei clone. But I visited with her anyway and she won me over. She may be a brown tabby with similar coloring, but her features are her own and her demeanor quite different. So I signed the contract, paid my C-note, and brought her home.

Naming her was a bit of a challenge. Zephyr's name came to him as an ironic comment on his behavior, which, at least for the first two years of his life, was more akin to a cyclone. Pixel was named after a cat in a Heinlein novel. Raimei (full name Kuro-Raimei, or 黒雷鳴, "black thunder") is named for her appearance and loud purr. But Bansei had the best name (伴星, it means companion star as in a binary or trinary system) and in going for a similar vibe I settled on Mizuki.

As with many Japanese names, Mizuki can mean a number of things depending on how it's written. Initially I thought it would be “三月” ("third moon"), since she is the third current pet orbiting my life, but that's essentially the same way one would write the month of March (third month of the year), which just seems weird. However, “光月” means "bright/radiant moon," “月” means "tiny moon," and “月” is "beautiful moon," which all work, so I'll go with one of those as soon as I have to commit it to writing. (Also considered: 星空 ["Hoshizora," or "starry sky"] and 小星 ["Koboshi," meaning "little star"].)

So far, Mizuki is adapting to her new home fairly well. As recommended, for the first day or so I kept her isolated from the other cats, or at least that was the plan—when I wasn't looking, late last night she wandered out of the downstairs TV room I had set up as her "safe place" and climbed up the stairs only to be scared into hiding by the mean big cat who acted like she owns the place. I finally found her under the sofa, which took some effort as the underneath is only accessible from the back. Today she's bolder, more exploratory, and the remaining hurdle is just the adjustment period for Raimei. Zephyr has already shown indications of curiosity rather than hostility, but Raimei will need reassurances that she's not being replaced before she stops feeling threatened. We're working on it.