Zombie Alert

Seen on reddit:
Danger: Zombie Attack


“This is precisely the sort of thing that’ll reduce readiness when a REAL zombie attack occurs!”

“I know it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s only a matter of time, people!”

“You know what’s scary? I’m not entirely sure what I would do if I would be driving home and saw that sign. I’ve been planning too long, waiting for the sign of their emergence. It is no laughing matter.”

Commenter truffle_shuffle made the excellent point that zombies are fantastically good at viral marketing, and it’s true that they’re surprisingly effective — I mean, you might not think that you’d be lurching around, moaning for brains, but just wait until you’ve been exposed to it; it grows on you.

Read the full Zombie Survival Guide Interview in the Washington Post:

Falls Church, VA: What do zombies do during the day?

Max Brooks
: Attack and kill, just like the night. One of the reasons they scare me so much. They don’t have any rules.


…so the air conditioner failed on Saturday, and Sylvia and I had an absolutely horrific weekend — so hot, and so humid.

I’ve never seen the cats flatter — stretched out for maximum surface area. Our fluffy cat, “Bitey” (possibly the smartest of the lot, and certainly the fluffiest) quickly learned to hang out in the bathroom exclusively…all that cooling tile. It was kind of funny, every time we wanted to use the bathroom, to find her there, stretched out on the tile.

Still, she was perhaps the only thing in the house that was more miserable than her owners. We tried opening a few windows at night, but couldn’t leave the doors open because our front screen door is down, awaiting delivery of its replacement, and the house has so much thermal mass that it doesn’t end up cooling off until about 5:00am. Bitey, at least, had the advantage of literally being able to sleep in the window.

I had left a message with the folks who had serviced our A/C a year ago, but when I called them back at opening time, 08:00am this morning, they told me that they still had jobs left over from Friday, and they couldn’t promise me anyone before tomorrow morning at 08:00am. So I had them pencil me in, and set about looking for another outfit to call.

Several of the places that I called just answered the phone with “Hello?” You’d think that beggars wouldn’t be choosers, but I want just a little more professionalism than that.

I ended up calling Mountain Electric, who wanted a $75 diagnostic fee for coming out, which they would refund if the work was ordered. This actually sounded reasonable to me, and the flip side of that policy was that they could be here today! All righty, then. Cancel the first guys. The mountain men showed up at 4:30pm, went up on the roof, and came back down directly, having diagnosed a failed motor of some description — $575 to replace.

We gave them the go-ahead, and after about 2 hours total, they were done. Call it four man-hours, plus the cost of the part. I’m satisfied with the price.

One interesting thing was that they brought a large patio umbrella up on the roof with them, so that they wouldn’t have to be working in the blazing sun all day — brilliant.

And the house is cooling down! Sweet, merciful Jesus.


So the question to be answered was: can a WordPress blog (my blog, in fact), be updated from an iPhone?

And the answer is…yes, and no. I could edit text, and take photos, but I couldn’t upload photos — I had to e-mail the photos from the iPhone to an actual computer, and then post the photos from the computer. Of course, I haven’t updated WordPress to the latest version, so perhaps those later versions can do it, but it might just be a browser limitation in the iPhone, too.

(I had tried this last night, and seen a couple of weird problems, but then I saw those same problems on my desktop this morning, all of them related to using WordPress’s “Save and Continue Editing” button, which I never use, and had just accidentally pressed on the iPhone.)

At any rate, here’s a picture of Maya Cat, a.k.a. “Bitey” (who has to have two different medicines every day to avoid liver failure), which I was able to take, but not upload, with my iPhone:

Maya Cat, a long-haired calico, is resting its head against the base of a lamp

She’s just sleepy, here, not unwell. She’s actually quite a playful, active cat. She has a trick of staring at you like a daemon until you relent and tease her with a feather on a stick.

Pet Food Recall Expands Again

As you’ve probably heard by now, the melamine contamination in pet food was almost certainly caused by deliberate adulteration — adding melamine to wheat gluten and rice gluten makes them test higher for proteins, garnering a higher price.

Oh yes, and the Chinese food companies in question were placing ads on the Internet for scrap melamine. Not just adulteration, but adulteration with random scrap.

With recall-related deaths in the thousands (though the FDA only admits to 16), it pays to stay on top of the situation.

The ASPCA has a well-updated set of pages on the ever-expanding recall. Click on the kitty!

ASPCA Pet Food Recall Center

The Year Without a Catten

Yeah, I know, I haven’t posted anything for a while. There’s a lot to write about, but I just haven’t been in the mood.

I keep thinking of 2007 as…well, you know. Man, did that suck; I was probably flirting with clinical depression there for a week or so.

But hey! It wouldn’t hurt to have another look! There he is, ready for anything:

See the first Catten post, and follow them along! You’ll laugh! You’ll cry!

Catten Trouble, Saturday: General E-Mail

I spoke with Dr. Huang, the Intern, today, and she said that Tony ate a little baby food yesterday. They’re currently thinking, based on the blood work and everything else, that he has a liver shunt, where the blood is flowing around the liver, rather than going through it. They’ve added vitamin K and other things, to try to help stabilize him if indeed that is his trouble, and are continuing with the prednisone or whatever steroid they’re giving him, in case it is inflammatory bowel disease. But they think that it is going to be the liver shunt, and propose sending him out for a test for that on Monday, where they inject some dye into a muscle and then watch the dye on a screen, and see if it flows through the liver, or around it. The office that would do that needs a little advance warning, to lay in the required dye, but hopefully we can do that on Monday. Now, even if he were in pretty good shape, the odds of success on liver shunt surgery are only 50/50, and right now he’s pretty sickly, so…eh.

Visiting hours are between 2pm and 9pm, so I’m going to go over there and try to keep him company for a little while today.

Sylvia and I went to see Tony this afternoon. He was really happy to see us, and did his patented meow/purr alternation routine the whole time. He was in the middle of receiving a plasma transfusion, so they had us come back and see him in his cage. There were nice warm blankets that he was resting on. We offered him some food, but he wasn’t having any.

At about 7pm, I thought that I would go pay another visit to Tony. He’s such a people person, he really doesn’t do well when he’s isolated, even more so than you might just normally expect. I had asked before if I should call before I came, and they had said, “Oh, no, you can just come any time between 2 and 9pm.” But when I arrived at the office, their door was locked, and nobody was around the lobby. I called them on my cell phone, and someone answered, and said that it would be better if I came in about an hour. I explained that I was already outside, and that I had asked, and they said, well, it was just that I would have to visit him back at his cage, because of the plasma transfusion, and they couldn’t do things like x-rays while I was back there, and there were a lot of things going on at the moment. But since I was there, they let me come in, and said that if I would just wait in the lobby, I could see him in about 15 minutes. And about 15 minutes or later, they came out again and said, well, unfortunately there a dog that’s crashing, who’s on his way in, and they really wouldn’t be able to give me more than just a minute. I went back there, and Tony was getting another infusion of plasma, but it was almost over, and I asked, couldn’t they just let me take him into one of the visiting rooms and hold him in my lap while they worked on the dog? The woman took pity on me, and checked with the doctor for an OK, and then they made a really nice little bed for him out of a big bowl with a blanket as bedding, and another blanket to keep him warm, and then they let us go into a small visiting room, where I held the bowl in my lap and stroked his ears. For the first 20 minutes or so, he did the same meow-purr thing that he’s been doing every time he sees me for the last several days. But about 20 minutes in, he just shifted his position, and settled down, and had a nice sleep in the warm blankets while I stroked him. Occasionally he would get up and change position to get more comfortable, but mostly he just was sleeping, letting me stroke his fur. They left us alone for a nice long visit, probably an hour, and I really think it was good for him; it certainly was for me. His abdomen was less swollen tonight, I thought, but that’s probably just wishful thinking. I’m not sure that he’s eating very much. We’ll see.

Tony, shown here in happier times, relaxing in his favorite chair, with a friend:

See Sunday’s Catten post.

Catten Trouble, Friday: General E-Mail

The Internist said that Tony’s bilirubin level was too high for them to take the liver function samples (they would just confound the results), so the question of his liver function is still open. The urine sample showed that he wasn’t leaking too much protein out of his urine. This pretty much leaves something like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or a cancer, or perhaps a malformation like a shunt in the liver, as the top suspects. Normally they would consider running a scope or exploratory surgery to try to diagnose what’s wrong, but his protein levels are so low at this point that it’s not certain that he would heal properly from surgery.

What I asked the doctor was, “What are the likely conditions that he might have which are treatable, and would any of those treatments be appropriate for him at this point, in the absence of certainty about the cause?” And she said that it would be quite appropriate to try a steroid, I think prednisone was mentioned, because Inflammatory Bowel Disease was a real possibility, and that the main downside of trying it was that it might work too well, and make the condition go away to such a degree that they wouldn’t be able to diagnose it, which in the case of cancer would be bad, since there are some chemotherapies that cats tolerate really well. I think we’re getting to the point pretty soon that if he doesn’t start getting better, we’re going to have to think about putting him to sleep, but we’re not quite there yet.

The steroids, if they work, will take at least a day before we would expect to see any results, and really several days before we’ll be able to say whether we’re seeing a positive trend.

Tony has always been, as Sean calls him, “The Ambassador”: the friend of everybody, feline or human. Once, Queenie, shown here on the left, went on an Explore out above the curtains, and Tony joined her, happy to share in the adventure, causing Queenie unbelievable dismay, because he had inadvertently cut off her escape. Here, she shows him what she can do to cats who don’t meet with her approval, and Tony looks on, with approval:

See Saturday’s Catten post.