Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cartoon for math geeks

This one from XKCD needs no added commentary:


Monday, November 21, 2005

Backyard wildlife

It's no surprise that we have wildlife in this part of the world. Eugene has lots of deer, there are a couple flocks of wild turkeys that wander around in the suburban hills, and I've even seen a young mountain lion.

Monday evening, while we were sitting on the couch watching "Two and a Half Men," I saw Yang show up at the sliding glass door wanting to be let in. I did and he promptly snuggled up in the Babe's lap. Well and good. About five minutes later, I glanced at the sliding glass door and I saw two teenage raccoons peering in.

(Mind you, had this been a couple days ago, the deck would've been clean as a new plate after the lawn service had cleaned all the leaves off and so on. But the maple isn't done shedding leaves, so there's lots of nature strewn around. And just ignore the unseemly folding deck chair and garden torch fuel lying there--that's me being sloppy.)

We didn't have any food on the deck, because that will attract these guys and I'd rather not have them coming around.

The raccoons could see me through the glass as easily as I could see them and were clearly not afraid of me.

I'm sure that someone, somewhere is feeding them, intentionally or not. (Raccoons are famous for stealing dog food out of bowls left outside for the dog. They're equally famous for that "What??!?" look while they're doing it: they stare at you with those big eyes and all the while the little hands are moving carefully back and forth to the food without them once losing eye contact.)

The two raccoons wanted inside (not happening!) and were interested in BC, who was watching them through the glass. (I'd had a heart-stopping moment a couple years ago when BC was outside on the deck when two larger raccoons appeared. Fortunately, he just watched them and made no aggressive moves, else they'd have had him for lunch.) I tapped on the glass and they sniffed near where my hand was. They would occasionally stand up and lean against the glass, which left muddy little footprints.

I like raccoons at a safe distance. Apart from the high incidence of rabies, they're just downright dangerous. They can tear apart dogs four times their size by holding on to their muzzles and kicking at the dog's underbelly with their sharp back feet. And they're just nasty: a woman I knew years ago in Seattle had had a large pond of ornamental goldfish. It wasn't just enough that the raccoons wanted sushi, but they seemed to just kill the rest of the fish out of spite. Shoot, give 'em opposable thumbs and they'd be unpleasant enough to be people. (My ex always loved the idea of dressing raccoons up in badly fitting pinstripe suits and give 'em fedoras and have them stand on streetcorners making comments to passersby: "Yeah, yer ugly and yer mother dresses yuh funny!" This would be, she carefully explained, "The Invasion of the Snotty Badgers.")

The raccoons wandered away from the window eventually, but they hung around the planter boxes for a while. I stepped outside and got a few shots of them without the sliding glass door in between, but I didn't get too close. I don't trust 'em any more than they trusted me.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Yang and Bo

Yang and Bo have been exceptionally cute lately, or, rather, Bo has been taking an active role in Way-Cute Cat Snuggling and Yang has been doing his level best to ignore everything he doesn't consider important.

Yang's normal place on top of the monitor has been in a little question lately, in large part because the Monsieur Tunabreath comes bounding up onto the desk at a gallop and doesn't really slow down to land on the monitor, resulting in a monitor that wobbles all over the place. Even worse, if there's another cat (such as BC) already there or if I was so silly as to have coffee on my desk, there's no telling what might happen. But even just sitting here typing and so on is completely distracted by 16 or 17 pounds of furry feline shooting across one's field of existence.

Yang has been periodically discouraged from these forays as a result, but he still feels he must be on the desk, so he's found a corner to curl up in. This corner is where all the debris has gotten shoved so it's pretty messy… On the other hand, if it weren't messy (that is, if there weren't paper calling to Yang to come lie down), I rather doubt he'd choose to lie there. (I should also add that, as I write this, Yang is curled up in the same spot and is once again snoring with rich and resonant tone.)

Anyway, Bo continues to follow Yang everywhere and do most of the things Yang is doing. This weekend, Bo's taken to curling up with Yang, something he hasn't done since he was a kitten. I lucked out and had the digicam right nearby when he did it.

I got off several shots and then Bo looked around to see what was happening.

There was no giant foot trying to squash him, so Bo went back to sleep.

He stayed that way for quite a while.

Unfortunately, this happy and almost pastoral scene was not to last. Bo decided he'd slept enough and Yang should get up and play. Bo made his case for this rather directly.

The upshot of Bo's method was that Yang grabbed Bo's head and started chewing on his ears, which is Yang's favorite method of dealing with Bo when he gets too out of hand. However, not too long after, the cats were once again at peace.

(Note: Except for when he was being hassled by Bo, Yang stayed asleep through all of this, doing his famous "gob of sticky mud on a big, hot rock" imitation.)

Bo got to feeling so peaceful, he stretched out and moved around some.

Bo then relaxed and stayed asleep for some time. As you can tell by his posture, he's in REM sleep now. Or at least catatonic.