DragonCon Photos

It’s that time of year again. Time to get inspired by the creative cauldron that is DragonCon. Special kudos to Connie for the fantastic River Tam cosplay (and for being a huge Gator fan).

 

Tonight on The Turntable: American Football

A discussion of music that may have just gotten away from me a bit. It involves math-rock, taffy and living an heirloom experience, click the link and read on…

Old Habits

I restarted an old habit these past few weeks. Vinyl records.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I already have about 1000 vinyl albums. I got out of the habit when CD’s got big (about 500 of those) and I dropped CDs for the most part when audio streaming went mainstream.

I have a Spotify account and a Pandora account, but increasingly music has become a background thing; something to listen to while doing other things.This is probably the way most people listen to music.

However, there was a time for me when music was the thing.

Contractors II: Global Builders Restoration

funny-pictures-owls-twisted-headAfter the previous 2 months of crappy contractors, I had high hopes that things were going to be looking up. I decided to go back to Global Builders Restoration. They had put a roof on my house about 2 years ago and had done good work. They did good work once, they can do it again right?

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Contractors

Dude! My berries are frozen!

Dude! My berries are frozen!

I have been kind of quiet here for the last few months, but with good reason. On Tuesday, it will be 6 months since my water pipes froze and burst during the first freeze of 2014. This two part post covers the last six months of my life as I attempt to recover from the freeze. I am writing this, not as a list of woes and worries, but to ask a simple question; what the hell is wrong with contractors?

January 8th

pipes1It’s the second night of the big freeze, Delta Plumbing responded quickly in the emergency, and while I might quibble with the pricing, given that fact that they were working round the clock to fix things and the fact that they came when they said they would (8pm on the first call), I will tip my hat to them and say thank you.

Soggy carpet and 4 industrial fans means 3 days in a hotel with 3 cats.

Soggy carpet and 4 industrial fans means 3 days in a hotel with 3 cats.

The man from Delta had recommended a contractor called Apex Mitigation services to handle the water removal. Like Delta, Apex came when they said they would and responded very quickly and efficiently. The only knock on them was that they managed to nick one of my alarm wires.

This was totally not their fault, as we didn’t know where the wires were run and since it was only a nick, I didn’t even know they had done it until over a week later when the alarm would start intermittently beeping at me for no reason. Not a big deal, I just had the alarm company come out and track down the break and fix it.

The electrician sent out by My Alarm Center had the old school habit of stripping the wires with his wire cutters. As a recovering electrician myself, I have done this in a pinch, but it always runs the risk of  creating a weak spot in the wires if you crimp to hard (much like the previous issue he was there to fix).

Sure enough, I was in line for the bank later in the day when I got a call from the alarm monitoring station that my alarm had gone off. I went home, discovered the bad splices and just re-did them myself. Irritating, but it could be worse. Yes… yes it could.

Apex had recommended a renovations contractor called AYS (At Your Service) to fix the kitchen and bedroom water damage. They came out and did the initial walk through with the insurance company and I talked through a number of potential issues with them. One thing I was very clear about was that we would not do the demolition of the kitchen until the new cabinets where actually in our hands. I had no urge to be weeks without a kitchen (ah the naiveté of youth).

February 20th

As the weeks passed I had a horrible time getting AYS (Assemble it Your Self?) to call me back when I left messages. No one could tell me, when the work was going to get done or even when they would come out again. They missed 3 appointments including two days when I stayed home from work to wait for them. The final straw was when they called weeks later to say they would be out to demolish the kitchen the next day… without even asking me what cabinets I wanted to order. Are You Serious? I have a 8 foot square of bare concrete in my bedroom and the kitchen counters are starting to sag. Nothing was started and the communication was awful. So AYS got fired.

March 5th

I did a bit of looking around and decided I would let Home Depot do the carpet in the bedroom. If they did a good job, I would get them to do the kitchen. Home Depot’s subcontractor is a company called Romanoff Renovations and they made me feel all kinds of stabby.

Basically, the carpet guys wanted to leave me with my bedroom in my kitchen

Basically, the carpet guys wanted to leave me with my bedroom in my kitchen

Having dealt with the alarm wires in great detail since the original damage, I knew exactly where each one came up near the wall. I took great pains to point each of these 3 places out to all of the guys working on the crew. You need to be careful here, here and here… They managed to cut Every… Single… One.

At first, they just wanted to continue putting in the carpet, then they started talking about just leaving and then, despite being told not to on multiple occasions by both myself and their own supervisors, they started trying to fix it themselves.

I was eventually able to get an alarm technician to come out on an emergency service call to fix things and check the system. After far too much aggravation, they were able to get the carpet finished. Romanoff agreed to reimburse the cost of the repair, which was the least they could do… and in fact, all they would do.

To add insult to injury, their check for the reimbursement came with a legal release statement which basically said that by signing the check I agreed never to ask them for anything else. I will state this as plainly as possibly, I would not hire Romanoff Renovations to build a birdhouse. If I was legally able to ask them for anything else, I would ask them to go fuck themselves. Home Depot should pick a better class of contractor.

By this point at least I had carpet, so all things considered, it could be worse… much worse in fact.

To find out just how much worse things could get, read Contractors II: Global Builders Restoration

Oh Hail No!

Golfball sized hail bombarded my house. I woke up thinking the cats were knocking things over upstairs. A quick check showed all the cats were in bed with me… and all very unhappy about the noise. It sounded like someone had moved my house onto a driving range.

The Life

Good wine. Good fire. Good night.

File under 7 impossible things before breakfast…

File under 7 impossible things before breakfast…

I ran into an interesting problem yesterday when my laptop suddenly stopped connecting to the office network. It could see the connection, but never got an IP address. It’s a fairly new machine, but had been working fine for about 2 weeks prior to this. 2 hours of troubleshooting yielded only frustration and I resolved myself to using Ethernet at work.

At the end of the day, I unplugged my external monitor… and the wireless connected almost immediately. Huh? I plugged the monitor back in and the connection died. Seriously? Then I remembered, I had bought a new monitor connector to run the external monitor with the new powerbook. It’s cheap and probably unshielded. After a quick Internet search, I figured out that the monitor interference was making a hash of my connection. I switched the channel on the wireless network and it connected just fine with the external monitor attached.

The long and short of this is that when it comes to computers, the obvious issue is often cause by something that appears totally unrelated. Actually… I think we can pretty much say that about everything.

Status: Brain Chemistry

Dear Brain Chemistry, yes I did work enough and accomplished enough this weekend. Would you kindly bugger off!

The new theme is starting to come together. I still want to get a bit more detailed with the boxes.

From the spam box…

How do you respond to something like this?

Message From Job Association. Monster.com & Careerbuilder.com
You are disturbed by administration of sites of job Association. You are a member of this group. One of our employers interested in you. There is the message from this Employee*

Yes… I am, in fact, disturbed.

Smells like teen spirit!

… or it could be the new Kool-Aid Scented Shoes From Reebok

… or perhaps some Lavender Scented Tires are more your thing.

… or maybe a Scented Cell Phone?

Because nothing says “Fall of Rome” quite like scented commodities!

Why I want to move to Sweden…

I made the off-hand comment to my wife that we really need to move to Sweden. She took the opportunity to enlighten me as to the current Swedish Crime wave of midgets hiding in luggage and pilfering things out of your bags on a long train ride. Unable to believe this rather odd assertion, I did what any red-blooded American would do, I typed “Swedish Luggage Midgets” into Google (Which produced a number of hits and some rather disturbing advertising links).

Evil GeniusSuffice to say she was indeed correct: Dwarves Used For Bus Luggage Scam

Of course I could not help but point out that US crimes tend to lean more towards the gang-violence, drug wars and impeachable offenses by the current village idiot. Given that fact, Swedish crimes seem much cooler.

Hey is that a midget in your bag or are you just glad to see me?

Living in the boonies…

Most days, living 40 miles South of Atlanta is a total pain; long drives, 5 o’ clock traffic that starts at 3pm and neighbors who think that the rebel flag is the finest in out-door decorations.

Then there are the days when a bunny rabbit takes up residence in your yard.
Bunny Wabbit

Or a flock of 500 blackbirds land in the driveway and begin making an insane amount of noise. I thought my cat was going to have a stroke.
Birds

Another Brick In The Wall

It’s about 3 am and I am having a really odd dream… I have been re-hired at Earthlink and I am sitting next to some guy at a desk and he is going over my job with me. I am really not paying much attention, because a lobotomized monkey could do the work he is describing.

Man without a faceI notice that every desk has a phone shaped like Santa Clause’s head. I ask him why and he tells me that this guy in marketing got a great deal on them for the company, but that nobody really wants to talk about it.

From there, I go to help some people put a sign on a door. Inside the door, there is a meeting taking place, which is pretty much what the sign we are hanging says. A dowdy older woman comes up and begins berating me, because sign hanging is her job and I am not doing it right.

I leave her to the signs and proceed to my new hire orientation. I am confronted by a thick stack of papers to fill out and sign, an overly chipper man in a pink shirt is telling me that everything must be filled out with a number two pencil. I begin to wonder why the heck I am here.

It’s not that anything here is so terrifically horrible, it’s just so mind-numbingly, soul-devouringly pointless. How did I get here? What happened to my business? Where are my guys? I began shoving things into my book bag and preparing for a mad dash to the door. I am pretty sure that I can find a sword somewhere and free Bryan and Brian from whatever heartless corporate hell train they have been shanghaied to… when my wife woke me up. She said I was making weird noises.

Honey, you don’t know the half of it.

Oh Noes… Part Duex

Mac PC upside down
I was trying to convert some old videos on my PC from divx to MP4 to play on my iPod and the converted video is upside down?!?!?!? Looks fine, but you must hang from the ceiling by your toes to view it correctly. One would assume this is an obvious bug with some kind of fix right? Nah… From the Yahoo tech list:

“The old upside down video problem is legendary and, by the looks of it, one that isn’t going away any time soon.”

Umm… isn’t that something a company should perhaps fix? The article goes on to suggest a lot of different potential fixes that all seem to revolve around doing things differently when you originally encode the video… They also point out a program that has hit upon the unique fix of simply playing the video rotated 180 degrees.

So if my machine types everything backwards, the solution is a word processor that flips my text?

Of course there is another solution they didn’t touch on, use a Mac and iSquint to convert the video instead of a PC (and just about any converter you can name). All the other Mac converters seem to work fine but iSquint was free and fast.

So far, my PC has proved great for games, but not terrible great at much of anything else. Oh well, Halo 3 will come out for PC eventually.

Oh Noes!

A Sad RealizationMan… I just had one of those PC experiences that make you glad you’re a Mac user.

I was trying out the 7digital website for some new music and was pleased to find that they had a few albums by the band “Camel” which I have been looking for in digital format. I purchased them while I was on my desktop PC, set them to download while I was at work and didn’t think much of it.

Turns out they were WMA format and not MP3… What a stinky load of weasel poop. Not only are they DRM‘ed to within an inch of their life, there was no way to “license” the tracks except one at a time (all 20 of them). So after 20 minutes of repeatedly typing my user name and password to “license” the music I just purchased, I launch Windows Media Player to burn the disc.

Urk… mistake number two. For anyone used to the simplicity of iTunes, this is like like learning to program Java on a Chinese keyboard while wearing mittens (track order? What track order? Oh you didn’t what a 2 second pause between songs? Too bad). In addition, each track runs through a process of being analyzed before burning (presumably to see if I had a “license” for it) which means it takes about twice the normal time to burn a CD.

Defective by Design indeed.

Never again.

What the hail?

Hail in my back yardWeird. We just got hailed on big time. It was really freaky and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. Both of the cats are hiding under the bed and asking why we don’t make it all stop.

Being someone else’s “Higher Authority” is a little unsettling at times. It makes me wonder if God has days where it’s like “Dude? What are you looking at me for?”

Anywho… getting pelted with ice BB’s in mid-June is very strange.

Hello world (Again)!

Eventually it had to happen. Business has gotten very good and the time has come for the Twelve Foot Guru name to be a business name and not a personal name. In keeping with that change I am also moving the old site here, to Infinite Biscuit. I will also be using some different software and (as always) hopefully making more posts. The old site will be a business site for myself and my business partner, Bryan Johnson.

I will also be using a few different sites for writing and sharing what I do. For my student activities I have Gradual Student. For my political ramblings I have started Proportional Response (Warning: This site has adult language and an occasionally grumpy attitude). For programming nerd talk, Bryan and I will be using Debuggery.net. I am also considering transferring all of my photography stuff to Flickr.

So, now all I have to do is start two new sites and upload the old work site to www.12ftguru.com… and I need to make some changes to it… and check for Internet Explorer 6 compatibility… and find time to do paying work.

No sweat. I should have this done by Summer 2009. *sigh*

You May Now Refer To Me As Master…

School is an interesting place, a bizarre cross between a job without pay and a laboratory experiment where you are the white rat. It seems strange that anyone would choose to do this to themselves, much less struggle through the almost endless levels of paperwork and bureaucracy, all for the opportunity to struggle through more paperwork and bureaucracy. It takes a particular crazed mutant to want to voluntarily go to school, much less reenlist for a master’s degree. I am one such mutant.

On August 19, 2005, I finally registered for my graduate school classes at Georgia Tech.

Whoever said that “getting there is half the fun” was obviously unfamiliar with the admissions process for graduate school. Leaving aside the insane amount of paperwork, taking the GRE twice (getting the same score both times) and the endless wait for acceptance, in the end I almost didn’t get to go because of a test I failed when I was 5 years old.

I won’t go into it here, but it involves chicken pox, Georgia State laws and more shots than I care to think about. In the end, it came down to a head cutting dual between me and the Prince of Darkness. Fortunately for me, due to budget constraints, the horned one can no longer afford Steve Vai… and let’s just say that Tiny Tim ain’t what he used to be. Sign a non-disclosure agreement and I may tell you about it one day.

On the plus side, GA Tech has some of the more interesting classes available; Computers as an Expressive Medium, Visual Culture and Design, Special Problems: Network Music, Special Topics in Game Design, Interactive Fiction, Online Communities and a class in Machinima (which is the creation of art and film using the engines from video games) Tech also has some fantastic facilities, top notch faculty and an actual football team. 🙂

I am extremely excited about it all.

I also have a new laptop. Kim wanted a laptop that didn’t weigh 30 pounds and I have finally convinced her to come over on to the side of light. She took my old powerbook G4 12 inch and I bought a new one (with twice the CPU and hard drive space). We now have his and hers powerbooks. We have not yet decided if we will dress them the same, or simply allow them to grow into their own personalities.

Long Time No See

Bless me Internet for I have sinned… It’s been far too long since my last update. I got married in September and I am thrilled and happy.

However… whoever said getting there is half the fun was not talking about weddings. Getting married and the after-party is much fun. The 3 month-this old house-extreme makeover and general freak out… not so much with the fun.

On the plus side, I have discovered just how amazing my friends truly are. They brought food. They helped with yard work. They got me loaded. They took Kim out to race tiny cars. They kept Kim and I sane. They gave us nice gifts. Most of all, they showed up to help me celebrate getting married to the best woman in the world. My friends rock.

We had a beautiful day with perfect weather and everything came off without any huge problems. I am told that the ceremony was beautiful and just the right length (brief). I say “I am told” because, truth be told, what I remember of it was:

mumble, mumble, mumble, God. mumble, mumble, mumble, Do you take this woman? mumble, mumble, mumble, Jesus. mumble, mumble, mumble, I now pronounce you husband and wife.

As soon as I saw Kim come through the door, my brain went *hummina-hummina-hummina-hummina-hummina-hummina* I just remember breathing in, but I’m not sure I actually breathed out until we got to the “I now pronounce you husband and wife” part. It was sorta like having Daffy Duck jumping up and down in my head yelling “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!

When the ceremony ended, people blew bubbles instead of throwing rice (which was pretty cool). I sworded open a bottle of champaign (without exploding the bottle thank goodness) and my best man, Bryan Johnson, delivered a wonderful toast.

After that, it was a wonderful mix of backyard party, photographs and warm wishes. We danced and fed each other cake and did all of cute the things that new couples do.

We made a graceful exit and wandered off to the mountains for our honeymoon, where we promptly collapsed and enjoyed the peace and quiet. All in all, I could not ask for a better day, better friends and family or a better wife.

If I was a cat, I would purr.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Engagement…

A few months ago, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. I wanted to marry Kim. As anyone who has been around us can attest, we are pretty inseparable and cuddlesome. After careful consideration, I have decided I want to grow old and wrinkly with her and then I want to chase her around the house with my walker. Suffice to say, she makes my toes wiggle.

So having come to this point, I started shoping for a ring. Kim had looked at one in Rich’s so I figured that would be a good place to start. When I arrived at Rich’s I was pleased to discover they still had the ring. I just needed to have it resized. No problem (although the sales clerk looked at me funny when I said Kim’s ring size is 4. I think she thought I might be a child molester). The sales clerk packaged up the ring and sent it off to be sized. “Check back in two weeks,” she says.

Two weeks later, nada. “Check back next week.”

After the third week we are closing in on a camping trip Kim and I were planning to take. This was where I had planned on asking her. The day before the trip I am starting to get a bit annoyed. I call up Rich’s and spend quite a bit of time on hold. Finally the sales rep says “We’re not quite sure where the ring is…” I inform her (in the scary quite voice which is only used when someone is about to get hurt) “I will be at your location shortly. Let’s see if you can find it.” *click*

I got to Rich’s and stood around for half an hour while the store clerks fumbled and stumbled. Finally, they told me that the ring was lost. I began counting slowly to 100. I managed to calm myself enough ask them to refund my money without killing anyone. Afterwards the clerk asked for my phone number so that her supervisor could call me and apologize. Assured her in no uncertain terms that I was the last human on the planet her supervisor wanted to talk to. In deference to the probable healthy prison term I would receive, I didn’t carve out her entrails with a rusty soup spoon. It was, however, a close thing.

As it turns out, my camping trip with Kim did not go off as planned. We did spent a wonderful day wandering around Red Top mountain, which restored my sense of joy.

On our return I did some more shopping and picked out a perfect ring. Now all I had to figure out was when to give it to her.

After about a week, the ring was burning a hole in my pocket. Then one night, Kim and I where snuggling on the couch and she made the comment that I was “very patient.”

“About some things” I replied.

“What are you impatient about,” she responded.

I responded with the ring.

She said “Yes.”

Shipping Costs for the Wired World

Piggy BankMost of us who have been to the post office in recent memory, know that we are being wildly overcharged for shipping from mail order companies. The post office will ship via (3 day) priority mail a package of up to 3 pounds for under $5. So why does it cost a consumer $10 to have a mail order company strap a package to a slow, 3 legged camel and slap it on the ass?

My recent experience with Amazon may shed some light.

I was doing a bit of tinkering with my computer network set-up at home and I needed a few ethernet cables. Knowing that Office Depot wants an arm and a leg for such things, I figured I would save a couple bucks and order online. I went to Amazon and found seven foot long cables for around $3.99. Fair enough. I ordered four cables in different colors (so that it’s easier to figure out what’s connected to what) The cables are about 3 ounces each and all 4 cables could fit comfortably in a medium size padded envelope.

When I proceeded to check out with my order I was annoyed to see a shipping charge of $9 for the order. Still cheaper than a road trip to Office Depot, so I went ahead with the order.

About 4 days later, UPS shows up at my door with two boxes. The first box is a standard Amazon 12 inch by 9 inch by 5 inch box. The second box is big enough to fit a 1980’s VCR (roughly 17 inch by 14 inch by 6 inches). “What a bunch of moron’s,” I think to myself. “They couldn’t fit all four cables in one box?”

When I opened the boxes I got even more disgusted. Each box contained 1 cable. Not only was this only half of my order, I now had enough packing peanuts to contribute significantly to the toxic death of the planet. Checking with UPS shows that one package shipped from Addison, IL and the other shipped from Memphis, TN. The larger package came from Tennessee and we will not speculate on the possible issues this indicates for people from Memphis, Tennessee.

The third package is coming from Harrisburg, PA. As there are two cables in this order, I expect a package roughly the size of a Buick to hit my doorstep some time today.

The truly sad part is that Amazon doesn’t actually stock things like ethernet cables. They sub-contract with a company to handle small electronics orders. That company is, of course, Office Depot.

Farewell to a Friend

Fuzzy – 4/28/92 to 3/5/02 On March 5th of 2002 I was forced to say goodbye to a long time companion, my cat Fuzzy. I can think of no more fitting memorial to one of my best friends than to share my experiences with anyone who reads this.

I adopted Fuzzy from the Atlanta Humane Society on June 27, 1992. She was 2 months old which would have put her birthday and mine at right about the same time. For the last nine years we have celebrated our birthdays together. Unfortunately, this year I will not have that privilege.

Fuzzy began suffering from kidney failure over the Christmas holidays. I managed to stabilize her with daily fluid injections for over 2 months. In the last few days, she grew weaker and started losing motor control. on March 5, 2002 I was forced to put her to sleep.

However, what will stay with me forever is not how she died, but how she lived. Let me introduce you to a truly unique friend….

The first time I laid eyes on her, she was in a cage with her two brothers who were asleep. She came to the front of the cage and meowed at me. When I opened the cage and she ran straight up my arm, sinking tiny pitons into my flesh and finally parking herself on my shoulder as if she had claimed me as her own. When I regarded her with a quizzical expression she simply began cleaning herself, all the while keeping her balance through a injudicious application of her very sharp claws.

After the sting and the blood loss subsided I figured out that I had been adopted by the cat. The paperwork was just a formality. Her adoption papers list her name as “Zen.” this was one of three names that she would have in her life and the briefest of the three, for reasons that will become apparent as this story continues.

The newly christened “Zen” was placed in a cardboard box which occupied the passenger seat on the ride home. This was when I discovered that Zen/Fuzzy was not a great car cat. In fact it is fairly safe to say she loathed cars with a passion cats normally reserve for vacuum cleaners and small dogs named “Poopsie.”

By the time I arrived at my apartment, she had wound herself up into a frenzy. As I shifted the box to my left hand in order to punch in my door code, she burst from the cardboard prison like psychotic food processor on crystal meth and simply vanished.

I was devastated and feeling a bit used. Had this pint sized grifter just tagged me to assist in her jail break? I searched everywhere and could not find her. Eventually it grew dark and I went home to find a beer and a bucket of Bactine.

Two days later, I notice one of my neighbors calling “here kitty, kitty” down into this old destroyed basement that bordered the property of the apartment complex. Sure enough, it was my kitten and she wanted nothing to do with either of us. She continued to sit far in the back of the basement and make pitiful noises.

Realizing that this was going to take more hands than I had, I called my friend Aaron to help me with my rescue mission. Aaron came over and after a bit of debate we agreed that I would go into the basement and he would guard the exit.

I descended into the ruined structure and crawled across the dirt floor. The three foot ceiling left little room to stand and I finally made it to the corner where the kitten sat regrading me blandly. As I reached for her she darted past me with the ease of an NFL veteran running back and raced through the exit. I heard a loud “Woop” and some really fine swearing, then a stunned silence.

“Dude,” Aaron said. “She just vanished.”

With a sigh I trudged out of the basement and we started to search. This kitten had the stealth of a special forces commando. I only found her when I stepped on the pile of leaves she was hiding in. She shot out from under me like a rocket and we chased her for two blocks before finally cornering her in a neighbors porch and grabbing her. She did not go quietly and I have the scars to prove it.

Finally I got her back to the apartment where she promptly hid and would not come out….

That is until she realized that the human she had adopted was able to dispense food.

At that point she decided I had my uses and could stay if I didn’t make too much noise and continued to earn my keep.

It was soon apparent that the cat was far from Zen-like and she was re-christened “Schrodinger” after the cat in the box experiments. Schrodinger/Fuzzy appeared to have some rather odd personality quirks, one of which was her strange attraction to paper bags. She would drag a paper bag out on to the hard wood floors of my apartment and line it up just so. She would then move to the far corner, hunker down, get a running start and dive into the paper bag. The paper bag would zip across the floor like a cruise missile on acid, until it ran out of momentum or, often as not, hit the far wall with a rather meaty thunk. Schrodinger/Fuzzy would then climb out of the bag drag it back to the center of the room and repeat the process until she was bored (or perhaps unconscious).

I had grown accustomed to this odd behavior and really had not thought to comment on it when my friend Ryan (AKA Jimmy Ether) came over to visit one day. We were sitting on the couch talking when Schrodinger/Fuzzy began her paper bag ritual.

drag drag drag…….Wooosh…. Thunk…..
drag drag drag…….Wooosh…. Thunk…..
drag drag drag…….Wooosh…. Thunk…..

The third time around Ryan looks at me and says “Dude… your cat is messed up.”

“Yes,” I replied, “But she is fun to watch.”

Schrodinger/Fuzzy continued to supply entertainment in a number of ways. Sometimes it was the freaky “ka ka ka ka ka” sound she made when she watched the squirrels in the back yard. Another time it was the failed attempt to walk on bath bubbles. bloop Into the water she went. It is difficult for a cat to remain dignified when she is soaked to the tip of her tail and sporting a little pile of soap bubbles on her head, but she tried.

As she grew older and winter came, she developed a fondness for sleeping under the blankets between my feet. She would burrow down and stay most of the night. One night, at about 3 am, she decided to help me out with what she felt were some hygiene issues. As I lay sleeping… on my stomach… in the buff… she decided to help me by cleaning my butt. I awakened from a deep sleep with a feeling like someone was running a belt sander on the crack of my ass. I shot forward like an Olympic sprinter and crashed head on into the wall. After that, Schrodinger/Fuzzy decided that I could tend to my own hygiene after that.

Later on, I began dating a women named Isadora. She had an 8 year old son, Robert, who drove the cat nuts. In truth, he only wanted to pet and hold her, but he was really hyper and she got so freaked out she began pulling her hair out along her back. This led to her third and final name “Fuzzy.” It’s from the children’s rhyme:

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy was he?

The vet called it “Neurotic Self-Mutilation” and prescribed valium. For those of you who are curious, a cat on valium is a truly pathetic creature. She would try to jump onto the table and miss, or slowly fall out of your lap, like Jello oozing off of a plate. After a while we stopped giving her the valium and she appeared to return to normal. At least normal for her.

Once, when I was back living by myself on the 10th floor of the Art Center Towers, Fuzzy was exploring the apartment for cat friendly places when she jumped up onto the window ledge and discovered that she was much higher than cats were meant to be. This led to hasty retreat and a day spent cowering under the bed, after which, she was fine with the height and even liked to sun herself on the ledge.

Another time, I left a jar of pickle juice on the counter in the kitchen (after eating the last pickle). As I lay on the couch watching TV, Fuzzy jumped up on the counter and drank about half the jar of pickle juice. Afterwards she climbed onto my chest, her face wet to the ears and let forth the vilest pickle juice/cat food combo burp it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. She seemed quite please with herself.

One thing that really struck me was after she got sick, she came up one evening and curled up in Kim’s lap. (Those of you who know Fuzzy are aware of her usual disdain for strangers) I did not realize it at the time but I think she was giving her approval as well as passing the torch. She did her usual, turn around 3 times, settle into the lap and hiss at the owner of the lap. I think she was trying to say, “Be good to this guy or I will come back and piddle on your sneakers.” I find that weirdly touching and I am very glad these two special ladies got a chance to meet.

Fuzzy always seemed to be in her own little world. She would sharpen claws that she no longer had, hiss at people even when she was curled up in their lap and occasionally fall asleep flat on her back with all 4 paws in the air. She would chase her tail and chase things only she could see. She also decided that the best way to wake me up in the morning was to clean my beard, even chewing on it if I didn’t move quickly enough for her. She knew my moods and would curl up in my lap or bump her head against me when I was down.

Fuzzy was my best friend and her passing leaves a cat sized hole in my heart.