A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Saturday, March 31, 2007


blogging this week because, believe it or not, I'm still SICK!!! And tired of it. Pneumonia (which is what I got) takes about six weeks from inception to recovery. Well, we're barely starting on week 3. Life sucks.

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Uncle Ramon Passes The Torch

Way back when Ramon Rivera, shadow-dancer extraordinaire, lived at Casa de Los Gatos, and little Bandicoot and Zingiber were just tiny younguns come home with us for the first time, I worried that the kittens would be lonely, cooped up in the house all day with Faridah Peeples, that accomplished hater of all other lifeforms. Ramon, being the angel he was, took Bandicoot under his paw and showed him All Things Catly at Casa de Los Gatos. (He never did warm up to Zingiber, but we all know Zingiber is neurotic, and I think he got on Ramon's nerves.)
Then Ramon departed, and Faridah left us, and Domino and Simona came, but elected to stay outdoors. Gustav, Greta, and Corky the Dog.
Bandicoot is a good soul, and took it all in stride. Next Simona disappeared, then Greta died, and Gustav (Greta's son) was utterly bereft without his mother. No social skills at all, poor kid, and a pretty bad herpes infection that seems to have affected both his vision and his smellsense. So I'm guessing he lives in a dimly lit world, because his way of greeting other animals is to rush right into their faces.
Imagine my delight when Bandicoot allowed Gustav to slide under his paw, in turn, and became Uncle Bandicoot to a very sad and bereft lonely little kittyboy (obnoxious, anxious, and psychotic, too, but who's counting?):

Uncle Bandicoot Parents Gus

That's how they usually sleep - Gustav curled up inside Bandicoot's immense fluffitude. Not for nothing is the Coot affectionately known as The Area Rug!
Although sometimes when Gustav is too annoying, Bandicoot sleeps ON TOP of him. I'm hoping he knocks that off without my intervention. He's quite the heavyweight, and Gustav is barely 10 lb.

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Welcome, fellow Crankpots

A warm welcome to all the visitors from Maru the Crankpot's very snarky site! C'mon in, take off your socks and shoes, help yourself to whatever your heart desires.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Marching in Lockstep

So me, right? It's kitty blogging night, and I want to be just like everyone else. So, here go:

Gustav in Bed

I'm so worried about Gussie. He can barely walk now. His poor back legs hardly work at all. More kitty goodness tomorrow. Please think good thoughts at the Gus-puss. Thanks, all.

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Oh, Jeebus, two of my fave kitty bloggers, 4LegsGood and NTodd, are engaging in a felijihad. I mean. What is a kitty to do? Go visit on them and beat a little. There is no excuse for felijihadism in the blogosphere.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

300 - The Spoof


It is to larf.

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Henry Waxman TOTALLY ROCKS!!

And this woman's ass is grass.

I just can't believe these unfolding scandals. Every day, every hour, something new comes to light. Katrina, Walter Reed, inadequate psych care for vets with PTSD, failing pumps in New Orleans, billions of dollars disappearing in Iraq, the justice department firing attorneys for political reasons, lying to Congress, lying to the press, lying to the electorate, the ruthlessness combined with the treachery and dishonesty is enough to make a person ill.

Well, oversight is here at last.

You GO, Henry Waxman!!

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Pat Tillman - resolution

Editor and Publisher carries the latest news on the inquiry into Tillman's death here.

But what about LaVena Johnson? If you haven't already signed the petition, do it now. Talk to your local birdcage liner's reporters and columnists. Send a letter to your congressperson. Don't let this young woman's death have been completely in vain.

Pat Tillman and LaVena Johnson

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Health - Managing Pain

Gee, what a surprise. Chronic pain can affect (shrink) the areas of your brain that relate to social interaction and decision-making. Who'd'a thunk?

Yoga can reduce and help manage chronic back pain. Well, we all knew that. Besides, most of my pain right now is in my lungs and knees. Argh. But I will I swear to deity start with the yoga again. As soon as I can breathe.

New drugs for chronic pain? I got gabapentin for mine right after surgery, but it didn't help much. Must find out more about this drug(s).

Using a gel to treat chronic back pain? Sounds interesting. Better than the spinal fusion approach. I wonder if the gel would be an effective replacement for hyaline cartilage? Or some gel, in the future, might.

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Health - To BMI Or Not To BMI?

Well, it sounds as if this device will reveal your true obesity levels, unlike the BMI which often misrepresents muscle mass as obesity.


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Health - Curing the Flu

You'll be all better one way or the other, if you take Tamiflu for your next bout of influenza. Either you'll recover, or you'll commit suicide. In any event, influenza will not be one of your worries.

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Stephen Colbert, you DID NOT!!!

Okay, Stephen Colbert DID NOT SAY THAT!!! DID HE????


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Media Giants Take On YouTube

These people just don't get it, do they? Media giants planning a rival to YouTube. Someone should tell them that YouTube's popularity is largely based on the perception that it is a guerilla site, and that mass media will predict freezing sleet in Hell before they'll keep their greasy fingers out of the content bowl.

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Walter Reed Was Bad Enough!

Jeebus holy moly, when does this shit end??? Walter Reed is not the ONLY location for major neglect and mistreatment of veterans.

I swear to deity, if one more of these pompous arrogant repignican congresscritters mouths off about supporting the troops, I will 1. print out the relevant article and 2. force them to eat it in public while I tattoo "Support the troops with your deeds, not your mouth!" on their overfed behinds.

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Time For This Judge To Go

A German judge has refused a Moroccan-born German woman protection from her abusive husband on the grounds that the Quran permits domestic violence against women! I'm amazed. More here.

Permitting violence against women on the grounds that it is permitted in a particular culture has always struck me as a revolting and disingenuous argument. So, should we permit ritual murder, torture, child sexual abuse, and mayhem because they are expressions of any culture? We do not, we condemn these acts as crimes against humanity! Why is the response to domestic violence to treat it as an acceptable crime, rather than a crime against humanity, which is really what it is?

Update: the judge has been condemned for her ruling, removed from the case, and might be facing disciplinary action.

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The Boss Is The One Holding The Gavel, Dimbulb

Barbara Boxer lets feeb Inhofe have it right between the eyes.

How's that for an inconvenient truth, eh, Jimmy, old buddy, old bean? Trying to browbeat Al Gore in the Senate isn't as much fun now that the lady's holding the gavel, eh? Be grateful she didn't bring it down on your pointy monobrowed empty skull, you piece of slime.

Er ... I don't much like Inhofe. Just thought I'd qualify my position. In case anyone had any, er, lingering doubts or anything.

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Barred From Speaking Because He Spoke The Truth?

I didn't know that the House did not permit its members to speak truth to each other.

Under what circumstances is it possible for them to shut people up this way? No wonder you never see, in the hallowed (ahem!) halls of Congress, a tenth of the shenanigans that you often see in the parliaments of other nations!

On the other hand, if people were allowed to speak their minds, given the corrupt gang of crooks and liars currently remaining in the Augean stables, mass bitchslappings might result in a die-off in Congress, further contributing to the waste disposal problem.

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The Truth About Pat Tillman

Finally, the truth is coming out about the death of Pat Tillman, who died in a "friendly fire incident" in Afghanistan:
Nine officers, including up to four generals, should be held accountable for missteps in the aftermath of the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan , a Pentagon investigation will recommend.
More details available here. I;d like to see them hold four generals accountable. I really would. But in the meantime, is anybody bothering to look into the possible murder of Pfc LaVena Johnson?

LaVena Johnson and Pat Tillman

Her grieving parents are surely just as entitled as Pat Tillman's parents to an inquiry into the injuries that she suffered shortly before she died. Go sign the petition, dammit. Too much of this crap is happening. No one is being held to account. The time has come to do as Molly Ivins said, bang the pots, beat the drums, make a loud noise, raise a ruckus, till we get some answers.

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A Quote For The Ages

I just lost a bunch of stuff that I was going to post, so instead I will post this beautiful quote I found:

How long would it take before a savaged people woke up, recovered their sense of worth, and knocked him off his pedestal into a hole so deep that generations to come would seek his remains in vain?

Wole Soyinka, "You Must Set Forth At Dawn"

He's talking about Sani Abacha, of course, but those words did strike home quite hard. If you haven't read the book already, do yourself a favour and buy, beg, borrow a copy today. And read it. What a life Professor Soyinka has lived!

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Political Theater

The Idiot in Chief, aka Chimpy McStupidSon, aka Dim Son, opens his mouth and sticks both feet squarely in it, as seen courtesy of YouTube:

You mean like THIS display of political theater, Mister Bush?

Gads, he just makes me sick. He really thinks pouting and stamping his feet at Congress is going to do anything for those troops he "supports".

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Send Money, Dammit

Or good thoughts, good vibes, whatever you got, to Steve Gilliard at The News Blog. Gilly has been one of the very precious few out there in the blogoverse who knows what he's talking about when it comes to war, martial conflict, civil rights, people of Hue (as in Colour) - he's been a take_no_prisoners voice in the wilderness, and ill-health has struck him down and taken away a very valuable point of view. With any luck, he'll be back among us soon, but if you have an ounce of love for the different, send the man a nice fat check, or whatever you can afford, so he can be back excoriating the stupid as he does so well, and soon.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me!

MoveOn has done sterling work in marshalling anti-Iraq_War forces and finding a voice for progressives on a national level, but today, over at Skippy's blog, I read a most disturbing account of their support of legislation aimed at the Iraq War.

I'm not flying off the handle on this issue - yet. I need to do more research. But I've always thought of Barbara Lee as one of our most progressive politicians, and the other politicians lined up in her support are - Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, and Dennis Kucinich. I have the deepest respect for Maxine Waters. And Lynn Woolsey has recently been speaking to many issues dear to the heart of progressives. I'm reserving judgment on Dennis Kucinich because I really do not know that much about him.

However, I do plan to contact Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Steny Hoyer, and MoveOn to find out what exactly is going on here. I've always been supportive of Speaker Pelosi, though I was deeply disappointed when she announced that impeachment (of the current bunch of bozos ruining this country) is off the table. I want to see why she is not promoting Rep. Lee's bill.

If you know anything about this debacle, or know where I should look for more information, please! Let me know!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If You Haven't Done Anything Wrong, You Have Nothing To Hide

For six years now, I've heard people - especially politically conservative people - say this as I worried over the infringement on the nation's civil liberties, the rampant spying, the sadly misnamed Patriot Act, the massive misdeeds of the current (mis)Administration.

Today, George W. Bush told Congress that he will not permit them to subpoena his aide, Karl Rove, and his former counsel, Harriet Myers. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Congress does not need his permission to subpoena these people. His only argument left is executive privilege, and I doubt he can make that argument successfully, given that the Justice Department has released so much of the materials that implicate Rove and Myers.

So why won't Mr. Bush allow these two people to testify under oath? After all, if they haven't done ... but you get my drift.

For a glimpse of a clearly wrongdoing Bush, go here.

Something tells me these people have a lot of skeletons in their closets. And those skeletons are about to come tumbling out.

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I Have Pneumonia

Human Lungs, from Gray's Anatomy

At least now I know why I've been feeling so dreadful. Not to mention crepitatious. The doctor ordered a chest X-ray to eliminate the possibility of tuberculosis, since I'd been having nightmares about drug-resistant tuberculosis ever since I read an article in this weekend's local fishwrap. And sent me straight to bed with codeine cough-syrup, antibiotics, and an inhaler.

I just keep falling asleep, is the problem. But at least I'm not coughing so much any more.

Bonus Smokey quote: "This might be a good time for you to quit smoking, eh?" Does that come under the heading of "Great Minds Think Alike" or "Small Minds Seldom Differ"?

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Monday, March 19, 2007

What kind of flower are YOU?

I don't think I'm a flower at all - though I might be a flowering plant. In which case, I'd want to be a bougainvillea, or better yet, a buddleia or echium - providing a beautiful floral display, plus shade for little beasties, plus food for birds, butterflies, and bees.

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

The included assessment is:

"You stand up for what you believe in, even if it gets in the way of what other people think. You are proud of yourself and your accomplishments and you enjoy letting people know that."

Can't say I disagree with that.

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Google Do Good!

I always thought technology was meant to help people live better, happier, healthier lives, in harmony with their environment, and protecting the beautiful world they are blessed with. Google makes it happen.

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A Cogent Explanation

of why the Justice Department scandal is not just upsetting, morally wrong, or partisan politics as usual. Gitcher explanations right here.

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Rats, sinking ships, fleedom

Funny. I always feel sorry for the underdog, no matter how bad a dog it's been. Looks like Abu Gonzales, after being hung out to twist in the wind, is getting no support from anyone, not even the person who is responsible for the mess he's in.

He's gone. And so is his Number Two, McNulty. While the Republicans make noises about the Democrats overreaching themselves, I fear the real lesson behind this is going unlearned. In a democracy, people are appointed to their jobs based on their competence, not their personal loyalties. If you break that rule, you end up with a lot of incompetent cronies who put their personal relationships above their professional responsibilities. Then you get the mess that is FEMA, Iraq, Katrina, Walter Reed, Halliburton, and ultimately it ends up in all our backyards.

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Support the Troops!

They want to come home. And since one of them has proferred this fine suggestion, perhaps President George W. Bush could do the right, troop-supporting thang, and take the young man up on it!

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

And one more thing ...

Fruit juice contains a lot more sugar (and therefore more calories) and a lot less fiber than a whole fruit. Just as a quick f'rinstance, it might take ten or twelve oranges to make a single glass of orange juice. If you ate the oranges, you'd consume a pretty healthy quantity of whatever nutrients they contain, and it's highly unlikely that you could eat a dozen oranges in a day. Well, maybe you could, but you'd have to reduce your consumption of something else, which would mean a reduced calorie intake. With rampant obesity and diabetes affecting children under the age of FIVE, this would be a good thing.

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Fruit, or Fruit Juice?

I say, eat the whole food. First off, you know more about what you're putting in your body with the whole fruit. You have no idea whether the best fruit are being juiced for your consumption, but it's highly unlikely. If the fruit were that damned good, the agribusiness peddling it to you would be happy to sell you the whole item, instead of paying good money to process it further.

Secondly, you have no control over the processing. At any point in the process of turning a fruit into fruit juice, contamination might occur, as we've seen from recent reports of E. coli contamination of spinach, lettuce, and cantaloupes. The more processed a food is, the more likely it is to be contaminated. We don't even need to consider the additives, colorings, flavourings, et cetera ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Thirdly, when you eat a whole fruit, you ingest all the various nutrients contained therein: the antioxidants, the micronutrients, the fiber. Processing that fruit into juice destroys some nutrients and simply eliminates others. Fruit juice, for example, contains far less fiber than the whole fruit.

Fourthly, and finally, food and eating are a sensual experience, and should be. The colors, tastes, smells and textures of the fruit, whether you're experiencing it with the nerve endings in your skin, or the tastebuds on your tongue, are all engineered by the fruit's producer, the tree, for maximum appeal to you with the understanding that you will disperse its seeds to make more trees and more fruit. Why settle for the denatured, bottled juice, when you can delight in the sweet juices running down your chin, stickying your fingers, when you can feel the texture on your tongue and in your mouth as the fruit slowly becomes a part of your tissues?

Nevertheless, here's yet another article touting the antioxidant benefits of juice. Humph.

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and in Europe. Sorry, bad pun.

A French jury has shown that common sense is not lacking among the common people, when they refused to jail, or take away the license of, a medical doctor who performed euthanasia on her patient.

I wish the interfering nannies who brought the lawsuit would mind their own wretched business. The family supported the doctor's actions, so they didn't have a problem with her administering euthanasia. The patient was terminally ill, and certainly ought to have the right to end her life as she saw fit.

I do understand that there will be unscrupulous people who will try to hurry the AgedPs along in the hope of inheriting any familial wealth, but we, as a society, must draw a line somewhere. Let us simply say, "We will teach our people the difference between right and wrong. We will create procedures and processes whereby those who commit wrongs are punished, and those who do right are rewarded. And we will trust in our citizens to know the difference and to regulate their behaviours accordingly."

Euthanasia is morally right, as anyone who has seen a family member suffer knows. Watching a terminally ill person struggle with pain is unbearable. When you can't take away the pain of the one you love, someone who depends on you for comfort and relief, your own life seems bleak and meaningless.

Many of us have had to make that fateful decision for an ill or elderly pet. Let us have the right to make it, then, for our people, as well.

Most important of all, I don't want to end up like Terri Schiavo, braindead with my husk of a mortal coil reeling in thoughtless discoordination for the pity and amusement of others. When it's time for me to go, I hope I'll have a doctor as courageous as Laurence Tramois, and I want to be the one to say "When!"

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Smoking, Asthma, and Race

Interesting article about how children of African descent metabolize nicotine very differently than children of Caucasian descent. In brief, children of African descent are far more susceptible to asthma as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. I seem to remember reading, not too long ago, about how Asians are also more susceptible. I wish someone would do some research on Native Americans and their reaction to tobacco, since, if I am not mistaken, they've been exposed to tobacco longer than any other racial group.

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Health News This Week

Will be divided into a series of small segments, on Sandy-la's advice. We'll see if it works.

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The Continuing Scandal That Is Walter Reed Hospital

quality control inspector Mark Cordell's photograph

For some reason this photograph reminds me of a scene from that eerie, disturbing film, Jacob's Ladder. If you haven't already seen the film, you might want to. Although it left me feeling thoroughly shaken, I've seen it about five times.

WUSA Channel 9 in Washington, D.C., covered the story. For more pictures and the story, go there.

So shameful. So sad. As wealthy war criminals and profiteers wrap themselves in the flag, they condemn the damaged children of the poor who have served their country dutifully to ratheaps reeking with mold, filth, rats, damp, and dirt.

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From Cafe India in San Diego

In food news from Casa Los Gatos this week, we made:

Adobo, with lots of crushed dried red chilli, and also black peppercorns, bay leaves, wine vinegar, soy sauce, pork, ginger, garlic.

Lamb dhabe, with yoghurt, dried red chilli powder, chopped fresh green chillies, garlic, cumin seeds, cumin seed powder, coriander powder, onions, tomatoes, and garam masala.

A Burmese vegetable curry that I love, with ground turmeric, red chilli powder, blachan (ah, what a bouquet!), coconut cream, dried shrimp floss, potatoes, broccoli, chopped green chillies, garlic, ginger, brussels sprouts, asparagus beans, and cilantro (well, parsley, actually, because I forgot to put cilantro on the shopping list)!

Sag vali khichri, with whole moong beans, brown rice, two pounds of spinach, a thick slice of ginger, and some stomach-settling spices (alright, if you must know, gira, cuminseed powder, and a little hing, asafoetida, to aid with the digestion of the gently cooked moong beans). We've been unwell, and the sick need good comfort food. It smelled so good last night, but I was fading too fast after an afternoon on the hill, so I never tasted any of it. I did eat some of the broccoli florets.

Now that the cold rainy weather is mostly over, it's time to put away the big stock pots and cauldrons, and bring out the flat skillets, coconut milk, and spices! I can't wait for okra to come into season - I love eating seasonal, local produce, it tastes so much better when fresh!

Fresh produce

Next week, Brian's coming by and we're going to cook together, aren't we, Bri? Better figure out what you'd like to eat, fella.

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Elegantly stretching out one long, slender paw
Madu - so well-named! Honey-colored and sweet by nature. How he suffers from his sister's depredations! That evil child got her name because it was her habit to make large wells in the featherbed, in which she would hide and wait for him to sashay by. Then she would rear up on her hind legs, utter her version of the Godzilla Roar (it sounded like Meep! to us), and bite him on the arse. The poor guy must spray when he pees, she's bitten his butt so many times.

Winking lewdly at the photog
He has the loudest purr this human has ever heard! The first time he purred as a kitten, he scared himself, it was such a boomer. You can hear him from the next room when he's in a good mood.

Hobbies: Killing small things, leaving "presents" for parents in interesting spots, massaging beds, purring, sleeping, and dining al fresco.
Pluses: Teetotaler, unlike hollow-legged sister; sweet-natured; not interested in human food, wet cat food or treats; not terribly interested in toys; restrained in use of catnip; saintly forbearance towards bratty younger sister.
Minuses: Doesn't like coming in the house except in inclement weather; overly fond of killing small things and leaving them where they may be stepped, sat, or reclined on; occasionally given to severe beating of bratty younger sister (forgivable, considering the brat in question).
Madu assumes his favorite position

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Gussie on the bed

Poor Gustav. He really is a nutcase, but it's not his fault. He was very very badly treated as a sprog, and I'm afraid it's rather scarred him for life. Of course, I'm not too pleased with the fact that he's taken to periodically attempting to scar us for life, witness the most recent incident:

Back of hand with mortally disfigured pinky finger

Front view of damaged pinky

It doesn't look like much, but cat bites are deep, not wide, and he certainly connected with bone. Before the evening was over, the pinky finger had swelled up like a balloon, the entire hand was turning red, and sharp stabbing pains were coursing through my poor paw.More evidence of wrongdoing

The blood kept pouring from what seemed like a very tiny incision, which led me to believe that he must have bitten right into a small, but arterial, blood vessel. I wrapped three paper towels around the finger, and they were soaked within a minute. Blood was splashing on the floor, the sheets, the papers and books - Eugh!

Fortunately, I had antibiotics in the house, and I started taking them immediately. Otherwise, it would've been another revolting trip to the revolting ER. Feh.

I did have some very hard words with him. But I can't blame him for what happened. He had a crazy moment, where he just lost it and tried to bite Gojira, and my hand was in the way. I'm just glad he didn't get her. Spoiled rotten as she is, the Little Princess is rather delicate, and easily injured, scared, and affected. She just acts tough with us.

In any event, he soon sought out his substitute "mother" for comfort:
Gus being comforted by Bandicoot
Dear sweet Bandicoot, the little Buddha Cat, as April calls him, is always good to the others. A veritable saint among felines. Though occasionally Gustavito does get on his nerves. Anyway, we made it up, and I patted his sleek head and told him to practise his teeth on mice in the future. There's a permanent discolored spot on my nailbed, but maybe some day it will fade.

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At long last, I have managed to upload all kinds of photos of The Chiyuldrun! I'm so pleased. It's like having prezzies all over and over again!
I'll admit it - I love getting prezzies. Sister sent one last week. Beautiful, mirrored, beaded, tasselled hanging thing. A small work of art. I locked it in the office, because I could see Gojira's poison-green eyes flicking interest waves at it. Gojira, aka The WahWah Petal:

seen making Slitty Eyes of Revulsion at camera and minder while simultaneously showing a little pink tongue.
She's been her usual Bad Self today, rubbing her chin on my computers while attempting to chew through the velcro cable strap on TOPWIL's computer. Later she tried for the camera strap, which is when I decided to punish her most severely by holding her to have her photo taken. She thinks photos don't do her justice. Her beauty is too great to be captured by some silly little machine. On the plus side, she did give me a friendly finger-lick, which was very sweet of her. She has the longest, daintiest pink tongue. Not at all like the sandpapery rasp of her dear darling sweet Uncle Zingiber:
He is the sweetest kitty ever. If only he weren't such an unqualified lump! He used to weigh 20 lb, I think he's down to 19 now. He loves me utterly and I love him too. My Fat Boy. Such a silly bee. Other names: Zingy Burrito, SillaBle, PumpkinLumpkin, BreathofDeath, StinkyFur. His tongue will take your skin off in sheets. And, he's a compulsive licker, with sticky spit. Ugh. Still, he has the sweetest disposition, and apart from weighing a ton and walking over me as if my middle name were "Rug," he is a dear.
And he's very fond of The Bad Little WahWah Girl:

Bit blurry, but I think that's because they did not want to be photographed in A Compromising Position, and moved at the last minute. Or he could just be holding her down to keep her from sproinging about at high speed.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Garden blogging

Oh, if only I weren't so sick! It's been nearly a week, and I still hear bubbling and rustling noises coming from my own lungs. This traitorous body with its sudden spasms of burning pain and breathlessness is stealing from me an otherwise perfect gardening day.
The blue fescue has come back to life - festuca ovina, I think - thready, almost metallic, next to the plush green straps of the Naked Ladies (Amaryllis belladonna, which flowers in the fall, pink-and-white pinstriped trumpets of the most delicate fragrance) and the paler swords, slightly fuzzy, of montbretia.
The montbretia will be flowering soon, holding up spears of vivid orange-red trumpets that will contrast gloriously (eye-achingly) with its flat-bladed leaves.
High on the top of the hill, the tibouchina (Brazilian princessflower? I forget its common name) is blooming, on rangy leggy stems, the flowers teacup-sized and a vivid reddish purple.

I cut back the bougainvillea really hard, because it was taking over the entire hill, but later next month it will surely grace us with its vivid magenta bracts. There's plenty enough left of the horrid, thorny thing.
My wildflowers are beginning to bloom, a good sign. The garden is dotted with various red and blue flax plants, and the Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena?)
is starting to grow heavy with buds. The California poppy at the very top of the hill is all buds, too, even though the native bulbs, calochortus, dichelostemma, triteleia, brodeia, have not yet lost their leaves. The violet-scented irises (five patches, on the midpart of the hill!) are throwing out one or two last spears of blooms. They started in late January and blessed me with vivid deep-purple fist-sized blossoms all through February. It's time, I suppose, for them to go. Outside the kitchen, a new final stalk has thrust its multiply enfloresced head through the fan of leaves. I hope it gets to bloom before it's too hot!
Lower on the hill, near the very bottom, the yellow iris is getting ready - it's a spring bloomer, really, and the weather already feels like summer.
This year for the first time, the flowering plum saw its bare black branches completely swathed with tiny, fragrant pink flowers. Photo courtesy of the incomparable Ron Sullivan This is not my tree, but someone else's - however, mine is a single-flowered purple-leafed type that looked an awful lot like this one, till the last flowers disappeared this week.
The silly robins tore a lot of them off, but for two weeks there was a heavenly rain of tiny, scented petals, and now they're lying like sequins on the greenth below. Bronzy red leaves have burst where the flowers once blossomed.
The Santa Cruz hibiscus was cut back hard yesterday. Its fuzzy, heavily cut and lobed leaves clutched at me accusingly, like little hands, but I know it'll soon be laden with its purple flowers - as it is, it was so heavily laden, I had to cut it back - the flowered stalks kept breaking.Photo from UCSC Arboretum Gallery
The lantana seems to be quite dead, but I know its faking it. It's come back from all kinds of near-death before, although this year's cold snaps certainly wiped out the gardenia, and some of the African basil transplants.
Madu killed a mole and offered it to the Gardening Goddess - the Lady of The Beasts and Fields - probably to beseech her not to let me weed his ample cover off the hill. Little beast - that's probly why I'm so ill. I saw its tiny form, feet stiffly up in the air, the sable velvet of its coat unmarked, but unmistakably Madu'ed. He's horrid about leaving presents where I'm most likely to sit on them!
I cut all the buddleia back quite hard, except the Black Knight cultivars. I shall have to try to get that done today. Lilac, mauve, lavender, bluish-purple, and a nearly black purple. Very pretty, but bloom is not expected till late summer. Meanwhile the calendula has shown itself somewhat renewed from the frost - I see about a dozen egg-yolk-yellow rayed blossoms. And some of the toadflax survived. Also the California lilac (ceanothus producer of the most dreadful pollen!). And for the early-roused bees, finally, the echium fastuosum is preparing foot-high spikes of purple blossom, which will soon feature clinging hordes of somnolent buzzy, fuzzy, gold-dusted little bugs of every sort.
The Shasta daisies, regrettably, don't seem to appeal to our bugs. Pity. I did get several nice little families of fleabane, with its pink-and-white rays framing yellow polleny hearts. All echoed by a clump or two of feverfew, and veritable falls of white sweet alyssum.
Oh, and the hummingbird sage and pineapple sage both survived! Although the silly hummingbirds seem to vastly prefer the pineapple sage.
The manzanita is barely visible - tall, but much crowded by the Cecile Brunner climbing rose and the revolting thornless blackberry. Another thing to cut down. And fennel has sprouted wildly all over the hill. How to get rid of it?
In good news, the two clumps of big blue lily turf also survived, as did the heliotrope (a miracle!), and the gorgeous Gloriosa daisies, here and there, scattered over the hill.
Now we must prune the dietes vegeta as close to the ground as we can. Whatever possessed me to plant that?
The sweet William will soon be back - I see the leaf rosettes scattered among the white-blooming yarrow. The rare pink native yarrow also appears to have survived. The white-flowered oleander is lush with leaf, and barely breaking bud. The cherry-flowered oleander at the bottom of the hill is not doing as well. We'll see if it'll make it, but scale, mildew, and general damp and dark are not in its favour.
The nasty martians (nasturtiums) are coming down the hill - cascades of perfectly round, if a little raggedy, leaves, and flowers tending from palest yellow through deep cinnamon. Come summer, the scabiosa will bloom, white, pink, mauve, lilac, red, burgundy, purple, plum.
And the hyacinths and freesias all survived, although the freesias seem pretty overwhelmed by all the pineapple sage.
Oh, and the aquilegias survived and will bloom, and the dicentra (pink bleeding-hearts) has spread all over the small garden outside the kitchen. Interspersed with babiana (purple-red), harlequin-flower (cream with purplish-brown markings), feverfew, various pink and rose flowering oxalis, primroses, pink and purple, pink hyacinths, and blue Spanish bells, a poor final surviving polemonium, tiarella (foamflower) which may or may not have survived, and the most gorgeous prostrate veronica flooding over the brick walkway to mass up against a purple-flowered solanaceum. The camellia is hiding behind it, under an olive tree. I see buds, fat buds on the camellia this year. Perhaps I'll have some pinky-white blooms to match the rose there. Fortunately, the deer don't care for the taste of the camellia.
By the front doorway, the hard-pruned wisteria has set out huge buds - I was afraid it wouldn't bloom at all, but it's come back with a vengeance. It should be blossoming soon, followed by the honeysuckle, now that the helleborus is done (mostly) flowering. The false maple continues to bloom which is alright by me, and the cotoneaster also. Soon there will be native blue and yellow miniature irises under the big conifer, and if the luculia blesses us with its fragrant pink blossom in the fall, I will die happy. Last year, the weather caused it go straight from bud to burned brown detritus. The year before I could walk on the deck lost in a heavenly cloud of fragrance.
Perhaps I'll take my aching lungs down there, after all. All this talk of gardening is making me long to feel the soil in my fingers. I'll update this with more lovely pictures (disclaimer: none of these are mine) later!

Updated: 03/18/07
Well, I did go down into the garden. It made me happy, although my lungs still hurt!
Montbretia picture courtesy of the Weed of the Month page at BlueMountains, an Australian site. I had no idea! Perhaps Crocosmia crocosmiiflora is not as invasive in the U.S.? It is annoyingly persistent in the garden, and quite the spreader. Perhaps I'll get rid of it, after all.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sick again!

Egad@! My lungs are on fire, I can hardly breathe. I started feeling sick at work, and came home early, and worked at home today, but now I'm sweating and coughing and horking and downing Nyquil like a Rethuglican, I mean, wino. Of course this is a signal for all the felinquents to descend on me. Bandicoot is "making muffins," which is a popular euphemism, apparently, for "attempting to pierce multiple holes in my integument. Gojira wants under the covers - does she really think I'm dumb enough to fall for that "But I'm coooold! It's just another excuse for her biting my arse. Madu spent most of the day semi-comatose and muttering to himself. He talks in his sleep. Gustav was the only one who didn't move much. Zingiber alternated between snoring loudly in my ear and licking my leg. I'm going to take another slug of that evil-tasting stuff and see if I can make it in to the office tomorrow. So much to do, and I don't have email access!

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Health (and Science) News for the week

Gee, what a surprise. As the FDA's budget is reduced, it conducts fewer inspections and the number of incidents of death and disease from contaminated food increase. What's that favorite line of the Bush (mis)administration? "No one could have predicted" that this would happen?

In other news, researchers at Cornell are asking if television is linked to autism. I like it. After all, autism rates have skyrocketed over the past 50 years or so. What else have children been exposed to uniformly during this time? It ain't thimerosal.

Lovely. Just toss those vitamin supplements. Danish researchers say they increase your risk of mortality.

I tend to get my science news from Science News (heh), so I don't know much about Discover magazine. Is it a reliable source of information? In any event, it posts some very interesting information about toxoplasma gondii. If every remaining human were infected, would women just die out? I'm not speculating seriously, just being silly.

Know someone who snores? Point them to this article, and lock them out of your bedroom. Two years off my life?!? Dude, I can so do without THAT. You know who you are. Oh, yeah, an interesting piece of fluff published in today's local fishwrap indicates a strong trend towards separate bedroom suites for married folks. I can see that happening, kinda. I hate having my sleep disturbed.

Oh, My Gawd. The Japanese are so kicking our collective butt in the research and robotics areas. A miniaturized beetle robot for minimally invasive exploration, surgery, and drug delivery. AAAAGH.

First, there was the hole in the ozone layer. Now there's a hole in Earth's mantle. Do you get the feeling this is something like an eviction notice for the human species?

Thrill a minute. Bausch and Lomb suffers yet another scandal in their eyecare products line. I'm'a have to find me a different supplier, y'know?

Improved DNA testing can help identify rapists.

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News this (well, last, really) week

South Carolina is proposing legislation that will give felons time off their jail sentence in consideration of their organ donation. Revolting. What happens to the innocent or wrongly accused person desperate to get out? How many organs can you donate?

Is there a limit? To the number of organs, or discount on the sentence, like, you can't get ten years off an eleven year sentence if you donate the bleeding lot?

It's more of this disgusting trend of using poor people for their body parts.

Rich? Need a heart, lungs, or liver? Travel to some third-world country and have someone executed so their still-palpitating body part(s) can be transferred to you.

Want a baybee of your own? Working too hard to conceive one? Disgusted by childbirth, or unwilling to deal with the biological difficulties? Rent-a-uterus and have your partner's genetic material mixed with yours, dumped in the Womb Mit Ein View, and par-tay! Your very own blue-eyed blond Little Precious can be decanted at your convenience.

Don't forget to throw a few pennies at the walking womb who nurtured it for the requisite time period.

And with the passage of this legislation, you won't even have to leave home.

I have visions of people agreeing to part, as it were, with their parts, coming to regret the pact with the devil. Or, worse yet, the potential donee ready for the part before the donor is done with it. "Oi!" they'll scream, as their livers, lungs, or kidneys are ripped out, "Not done with that yet, give us a year!"

Workers are, supposedly, less satisfied with their jobs than ever, according to this article.

Just one thing I want to say about this. What kind of people think it's news that people making $15K pa or less don't much like their jobs? Is that newsworthy, or surprising in any way? Oh, and once you hit 60 hours per week, your job satisfaction goes down. No!!! Really? Who'd'a thunk?

Did you, like me, think there was plenty of reason to suspect voter fraud put Dim Son and a bunch of other Rethugnican twits into power? Suspect no more. Bradblog has the story.

I actually like Tom Lantos quite a bit, though I don't always agree with him. However, overall, I've found him honest, which is more than you can say for most congresscritters. In any event, I believe he meant to say that Bush was treating both Congress and the American public like mushrooms here, you know, "Keep us in the dark and feed us nothing but horseshit," but was too polite to so state.

Apparently, Winston Churchill would have agreed with this pathetic excuse for a man. Anti-Semitism is alive and well among Christianists. (Christianists are to be distinguished from true Christians, who, while I may not believe in their deity, nevertheless strive to make the world a better place. Also, criticizing Israel's policy towards Palestinians and the post-60s wars of territory does not make you an anti-Semite. By throwing that term around so carelessly, the AIPAC/Israel First types are cheapening its meaning.)

Best News of the Week: SCOOTER LIBBY CONVICTED!!! Noted purveyor of porn now also a convicted felon. Even Better News:

Rules Governing Petitions For Executive Clemency:

No petition for pardon should be filed until the expiration of a waiting period of at least five years after the date of the release of the petitioner from confinement or, in case no prison sentence was imposed, until the expiration of a period of at least five years after the date of the conviction of the petitioner. Generally, no petition should be submitted by a person who is on probation, parole, or supervised release.

Post on Daily Kos, thanks to the person who posted this. Of course if the BoyEmperor George decides he's going to do what he damned well wants and screw the rest of us, we're, well, screwed, I guess. But he seems to be losing steam - or at least some of the hot air that has fueled his recent imperial excesses.

WARNING: NOT WORK-SAFE! JoeMyGod discovers that the Repuglicans' latest love affair is with a gay porn star. Oh-KAY, WHATEVER!

Michael Savage comes over all hissy-fitted, anaconda big bad Media Matters pointed out that he's a jerk for attacking Melissa Etheridge and bloviating the usual venomous hate speech. Big WOW.

Meanwhile, the rats continue to trample each other underfoot in their zeal to escape the sinking ship:

Rep Hensarling of Texas does not look like the kind of guy I would trust around small children or animals, but hearing him call GOP actions similar to a wino's certainly warmed the cockles of my heart.

Snotty McTellEmNothing, erstwhile White House spokestool and master of obfuscation sure has a lot of nerve, telling the WH to come clean on the Scooter Libby fiasco.

In other news from around the world:
Headline in the Independent reads:

British company claims ownership of Kenya's colourful national cloth

How's that for chutzpah?

A corrupt official narrowly escapes having a brand of rat poison named after him, in China.

Indian man calls home, interrupting sorrowing family's funeral service for him. Yowza. All's well that ends well, at least. Sheesh.

Okay, after reading that nearly half the population of China cannot effectively communicate in their own national language, I don't feel so bad about being really, really rusty in Chinese. And Bahasa Melayu. And Bangla. And Hindi. And Tamil.

Mexican women report violence from their boyfriends, which increases with their attempts to gain independence and autonomy. Really. I am so surprised.

Goodbye, Cruel WOOAAAAGH!


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Monday, March 05, 2007

Hating Teh Gay

PinkNews features a story about how Google acted to take down a hate site. Why do people think this sort of thing is OK? It's all of a piece with Ann Coulter calling John Edwards "gay". Given that Edwards has a good, enduring marriage with someone of the opposite sex, and Coulter has never been married, but has broken off multiple engagements, she ought not to raise an issue about someone else's sexuality. More to the point, why does she think "gay" is a slur? What kind of idiots cheer her on, when she makes such a statement? Isn't Coulter simply one end of the spectrum that leads to violence and the acting out of homophobia?


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Brian knits a Squid Hat

for my kitties. Or at least, he gives them the illusion that he will. Instructions here, complete with unhappy cat.

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