Play is a wonderful thing

Can it be more simple than the pleasure of enjoying some new catnip toys?  While this video is mainly of Grendel, note that Loki can be seen in the background and Kako gives us a drive-by cameo.  This video was lightened due to the original being excessively dark.

[I have decided to drop support for the AVI format and raw footage.  This is based entirely on size and bandwidth usage, and also in no small part due to very little use.]

Meet Sonny

As promised, here are some photos and a video of Sonny.  He’s been here since about 11 A.M. and will be here until my neighbors get home.  You can be certain I’ll give them what for because they continually put him out on the balcony and leave him there all day, he inevitably gets down/falls down and winds up roaming about the neighborhood, and he’s declawed—so he can’t defend himself or even climb, let alone catch the tree when he jumps to it from their balcony (which I suspect is mostly how he gets down, although I’ve seen him standing on their handrail and think he might also be falling from time to time).

First, here’s Sonny being very nice while making clear he’d like the door to be open rather than closed.

Sonny standing and facing the bathroom door (156_5605)

So far as size goes, he’s about Kazon‘s size with a bit more meat on his bones.  Kazon is a lean cat, although he’s muscular and large.  Sonny is about the same size but is filled out a wee bit more.

Here he is lying in front of the door to make certain he’s ready when I decide to leave.

Sonny lying in front of the bathroom door so he's ready when I decide to leave (156_5623)

This is a perfect shot of him coming back for move lovin’.  He’s a very sweet cat who likes to sit on your back, rub against you, be in contact with you however possible, and generally absorb whatever affection you’re offering.

Sonny turning around to get more lovin' (156_5611)

Finally, the video.  He’s quite vocal as you’ll see.  That’s a good sign because it means he’s learned from humans to communicate openly (most don’t know cats are normally not very talkative and only learn from us at an early age that talking and responding is acceptable and expected, and that it gets results and passes on information).

Open thread

Grand Rounds 3.6 is a great Halloween edition offering up a spooky assortment of fine medical blogging.

Very cool discovery and something I’ve long suspected given the other evidence about elephants (e.g., their vast emotional reservoirs and their treatment of human remains with the same deference with which they treat their own).  But back to the article: “Apes do it, we do it… and so, it seems, do elephants. They can recognise themselves in a mirror, passing a test of self-awareness that is failed even by the majority of our primate relatives. Until recently, this ability was thought to be the exclusive preserve of humans and great apes. Then, in 2001, Diana Reiss at Columbia University in New York, US, showed that dolphins tended to position themselves to view a mark on their bodies that would not otherwise be visible, showing that they too could recognise their own reflections. Like humans and apes, dolphins are highly social animals with large brains, and seem to show empathy towards one another. So Reiss turned her attention to another large-brained and apparently empathetic species – the Asian elephant. Teaming up with Frans de Waal and Joshua Plotnik of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, US, Reiss presented three elephants at the Bronx Zoo in New York City with a mirror. They began inspecting themselves with their trunks while staring at their reflections. One elephant, called Happy, also repeatedly touched a mark painted onto its head…”  There’s some video in the article showing that last piece with Happy.  This is a great discovery that really is nothing more than confirmation of what’s long been suspected.

More Than 100 New Species Discovered In Hawaiian Islands: “A three-week scientific expedition to French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument returned to Honolulu on Sunday with the discovery of many new species and a better understanding of marine biodiversity in the Hawaiian Archipelago.”

This is going to be a problem on many levels.  “Insects have proven to be highly adaptable organisms, able through evolution to cope with a variety of environmental changes, including relatively recent changes in the world’s climate. But like something out of a scary Halloween tale, new University of Washington research suggests insects’ ability to adapt to warmer temperatures carries an unexpected consequence — more insects. It appears that insect species that adapt to warmer climates also will increase their maximum rates of population growth, which UW researchers say is likely to have widespread affects on agriculture, public health and conservation.”

Yippee!  The Hubble Space Telescope is saved.  NASA has approved a mission to service and upgrade this wonderful piece of equipment.  I think it would be a tragedy to allow Hubble to fail.  It has given us so much already and continues to expand our understanding of the cosmos.  I consider it a national treasure and a scientific must-have.

Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day and Earth Science Picture of the Day are both appropriate for Hallowe’en.

Anyone interested in stealing an election?  Voters in Florida are finding the electronic voting machines aren’t casting ballots according to their selections; on the contrary, the machines are entering votes for the opposite candidate—at least when you vote Democrat.  Those voting against the GOP are discovering to their dismay that the electronic systems are registering their votes as being for the Republican candidates, and that despite going back several times to recast their vote correctly.  Interesting…  This is why electronic voting needs to be stopped until significant and enforceable regulations can be put in place to ensure oversight, paper trails, multiple confirmations of the correct votes, and heavy penalties for those systems which interfere with America’s democracy—just as is happening with these machines.  Oh, and isn’t it interesting that no central tracking or logging, or even reporting, of these incidents is being done?

Welcome return visitor

The two women who live upstairs have two cats and one dog.  Sonny, one of the cats, is an explorer who doesn’t waste any opportunity to get outside, although his jaunts are never long and always result in him sitting either by my patio or by the front door begging to be let in.  His sister Cher, on the other hand, is a homebody who doesn’t even like being out on the balcony (oh, how she cries…).

Aside: No one will ever accuse those ladies of being creative in the naming department.  Add to that the cats being brother and sister and the names become even more, um, lazy, if not downright incestuous.

Sonny loves to hang out on the balcony and can spend hours and hours enjoying the weather and all the wildlife that comes and goes, and he even has learned to use the tree to get down.  All the way down.  This has happened many times and I’ve caught him on more than a handful of occasions.  Most of those times resulted in keeping him in my bathroom until someone got home.

I was out running errands this morning and returned with tons of stuff (cat food, cat medicines, beer, lunch, etc.).  Just as I walk out of the kitchen with the cat food (so I can stash it in the closet where I keep it), I see the feline thud onto the ground outside my patio fence in a most ungraceful landing.  I immediately recognize it’s Sonny, and he immediately realizes he can’t get back upstairs and starts trying to dig under my fence (he knows that’s the next best option if he can’t go home).

Needless to say, I retrieve him and bring him inside, put him in the bathroom with a litter box, food, water, and some toys, and then I go to my neighbor’s door and knock and knock and ring the doorbell until I’m certain they’re not home.  I’ve since placed a note on their door letting them know where the cat is and to let me know when they return so they can get him back.

In the meantime, I have six cats at home.  And it ain’t pretty.

Sonny appears to not be happy at all about the other cats.  Meanwhile, all of mine are curious and even a bit insulted that yet another feline has been carried into their domain, but otherwise they’re not entirely concerned.  They already know they’re in charge.  They already know another cat is nothing more than an odd inconvenience at best, if not a downright home invader at worst, but it certainly isn’t an issue over which one should get one’s knickers in a twist.

The funniest aspect of it is Vazra.  His integration with the rest of my spoiled brats has been unusually easy.  I suspected for quite some time that he was not overly concerned with other cats; curious maybe, but not concerned.  Introducing him to my household proved that assumption to be correct.  Now, with Sonny in the bathroom speaking up from time to time and reaching under the door when something catches his attention, Vazra is the one over there trying to play and to see exactly what Daddy has hidden away in the WC.  The rest of them?  They’re all “Ehn… Whatever.”

On a side note, I’ll be sure to grab a few photos of Sonny.

I guess this is an obligation

Happy Hallowe’en to those who celebrate it.  Don’t feed me religious grumblings about the evils of the day or how it’s celebrated.  I saw one such complainant on the news last night harping about her daughter’s school putting on a Hallowe’en program.  Her response is simple: rather than handing out candy, she intends to hand out Christian literature.  Um, what the fuck ever.

Hallowe’en is a pagan holiday like Christmas and Easter, yet I don’t hear her saying the same about those.  This day is about having fun, dressing up and being weird, getting some treats you normally couldn’t have in such mass quantities, and generally observing the change in seasons.  If you want to nail yourself to a cross because of it, knock yourself out.  It just means one less fanatical lunatic on the planet.

That personal diatribe notwithstanding, enjoy the day if you’re so inclined.  Have fun and be safe.

Oh, and if you have black cats, keep them inside at all costs.  It’s for their protection.

[Update] And yes, I intentionally use the apostrophe spelling of Hallowe’en since it’s more grammatically correct as the word is a shortened contraction of All Hallow Even.  You’re more than welcome to call me a linguistic snob.