Category Archives: The Kids Videos

Protective parenting

With all the recent talk—and even some photos—of the northern mockingbird parents in the tree outside my patio, I wanted to share something far less depressing than has been the story of their offspring.  Too many losses, I say, and too many tears.

So let us then turn our attention to the more entertaining side of mockingbirds.

You know Larenti visits often.  She now spends a great deal of time on my patio.

Surprisingly, I’ve discovered al-Zill also finds the veranda a great place to rest and relax, not to mention to grab a bite to eat.

A few days ago when I stepped outside, I found this most recent feline discovery enjoying a midday meal as Larenti lounged in the intermittent sunshine that dappled the concrete floor each time the clouds broke.

I snapped a few photos of the pair (to be shown later).  As I stood there, however, someone else came into the picture.

It was one of the mockingbird parents.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not surprising to have one or both birds launch an assault on any feline visitor.  For that matter, they yell at me and threaten me with their aerial acrobatics, so a cat certainly should expect a challenge.

The moment the bird instigated the encounter with al-Zill, the cat stepped away from the food, walked to a position near the fence, and lay down in such an uncaring manner as to insult the winged parent with complete disregard.

That’s when I switched the camera to video mode, aimed, and began shooting.

Keep in mind I was on the opposite side of the patio and didn’t have enough time to really zoom in.  I didn’t want to miss any of the verbal abuse being heralded at the felines—especially al-Zill.

Nevertheless, you can see how brave the mockingbirds are.  Remember they hit me in the head several times while making runs at Vazra before I rescued him, and he was sitting on the fence when that happened.  A cat on the ground is a safer bet when you keep your distance and throw nothing more damaging than avian insults.

Oh, and the cats weren’t one bit impressed.

Put the camera away already

This is another video I accidentally shot with the camera on its side (sometimes I do that thinking of it like a picture that can easily be rotated, and only later do I kick myself for having done so).  That means I had to rotate it and add the black blocks on either side in order to maintain the original aspect ratio.  So it’s a bit smaller than usual, but I think you can see it clearly enough.

Words aren’t always necessary to communicate what we want.  Perhaps it’s a gesture or a glance, but we humans pride ourselves in being able to say without our voices precisely what’s on our minds.

Yet it’s another aspect of our unjustified hubris to think such abilities are solely the purview of clumsy upright apes with the ability to speak (but not to think, which should be obvious).

With my fanny firmly planted on the floor one day as I snapped photos and captured videos of The Kids, eventually Grendel had enough and made it abundantly obvious camera time was over.  You can see he kept trying to push it out of the way so we could focus our attention on some quality time.

And when that didn’t work?  Try a little affectionate rubbing for good measure.

Only at the end, and only if you listen very closely, you can hear him purring.  That’s the only sound he made during the entire exchange.  Everything else—volumes of information—came across just fine in touches, glances, and all manner of words unspoken.  And I heard every one of them.

The refrigerator game

Kako loves “The Refrigerator Game.”  That is, she leaps atop the frig and asks for—mostly demands—attention.  The game usually—mostly—winds up with her jumping on my back and continuing the demanding/getting attention from there.

I’ve discussed this before.  In fact, you can see photos of it here, here, here, and here (the last one showing her taking the game to new heights when she could get on top of the cabinets over the refrigerator), and you can read about it here and here.

To prove I’m not insane…

Ha!  Who am I kidding?  Of course I’m insane.  But that’s not the point.

To prove I’m not lying about this aspect of her personality (a trait only she has), here’s a video of her on the refrigerator doing her thing: asking—demanding—attention.

Note that she did wind up on my back.  I have photos to prove it, but I’ll share those at a later date and time.

For now, enjoy Miss Thing playing The Refrigerator Game.  And take special note that there’s an undercurrent of purring in her meows.  She might be a bitch and she might order others around and brutalize them to get her way, but she definitely loves me and can show it.  Besides, she knows what buttons to press.

Asking politely

Unlike his normal approach whereby he takes what he wants and uses whatever force is necessary in order to get it, I captured a brief video showing the softer side of Loki.  It’s like watching something alien.

I had already taken a long walk and returned home refreshed, yet I still needed something.

Time with the cats!  Yes, that was it.  I needed to give and get some lovin’.

So I sat on the bedroom floor.  From there, I encouraged them to come visit me before I was forced to pester each one of them in turn.

Loki had been sitting atop the cat tree beside the bed and immediately hopped down.  He sat behind me, though, so I turned on the camera and just watched him.

That’s when he began asking for some attention.

Although I normally expect him to brutally appropriate whatever he wants, this time he respectfully asked.  When I didn’t respond, he came to me while continuing to ask—in a hushed, gentle voice.

After I stopped the camera, I sat and petted him for some time, but then he became excited and started beating up on me.  Typical.

But I do love that last little sweet request he gives at the end.  There is a softer side to Loki—rarely.

About two-thirds of the way through the video you see a brief glimpse of Kako lying in the background.  It’s that steely gaze of hers that really stands out.  Other than watching disdainfully, however, she never moves.

And pardon the gloomy atmosphere.  We hadn’t seen the sun in ages and I took the video using what little light filtered through the clouds and in the windows.

Let’s have some fun

I’ll say it again: MUCHO thanks to mArniAc for bringing virtualdub to my attention.  It’s such a great tool, albeit limited in the formats it can save (right now: only AVI2).  Despite that limitation, I can still use it to produce an edited yet acceptable movie even if the output is too large and has to run through QuickTime or Movie Mangler Maker to produce a final version for upload.

Here’s the deal: I have several dozen videos that are in moderately poor condition.  There are several reasons for that.  The two major ones, though, are that (a) I had the camera on the wrong settings, and (b) I didn’t have enough light.  Sometimes both problems hit at once, yet it only takes one of them to ruin a good film.

I’ve complained before about how QuickTime has its limitations when it comes to editing, although let me sing its praises when compared to Movie Maker, which has extremely limited functionality.  Of course, Windows made that product for the masses, not for those who might be a bit more serious and a bit more technical.  Nevertheless, both tie my hands when it comes to editing videos.

Then in walks virtualdub.  What a great tool.  It’s not for the timid as it’s more like a *nix product than a windows product (that means it’s not push-button easy but instead requires some technical expertise).  And I love it.

Take this video for instance.  The original was extremely dark.  I have others that are even darker.  What worried me about them is that Apple and Microsoft both provide tools that use brute force when it comes to lightening a video.  QuickTime is a bit more versatile with some color filters that can also be applied, much unlike Movie Maker.  Yet both tools often spit out an almost unwatchable mess no matter how hard I tried to make it presentable.

With virtualdub, on the other hand, lightening a video is just the first step.  I can afterward apply additional filters to correct the colors and contrast and hues and a plethora of other variables that ultimately help make the resulting output at least more like reality and less like a kindergarten project.

Now keep in mind my skills with editing videos are even less impressive than my skills editing photographs.  That’s pretty bad.  I still find I can edit with virtualdub and create a viewable file without hating it altogether.

All of that said, this is a short video of Kazon playing in the kitchen.  Yes, it’s been lightened.  Yes, I tinkered with the contrast.  And yes, I also tinkered with the colors and hues and saturation.  After trying to edit it in both QuickTime and Movie Maker, and getting a final video that was practically indistinguishable from regurgitated sand, I was able to run it through virtualdub while tinkering with the settings until it finally came out with enough clarity and color and light to be worth posting.

So, since I can’t post photos at the moment, here’s a video instead.  I figure at least we can watch Kazon having fun.