Friday, February 23, 2007

A Taunt and a Truce: The Tale of the Cat and the Tree Rat

First off, let me apologize for the length of this post. I've been trying to find a way to hide most of it under a jump, but cannot for the life of me figure our Blogger's directions, Blogger's templates, and their (potentially) flawed code. Oy.

Now, let me tell you a tale. A tale of a cat and a rat. A tree rat, that is. A cat who sat at her window every day, lonely, forlorn, her only entertainment the occasional bird who flew by outside. And a squirrel, a well-groomed squirrel, who wandered the forest trees in search of nuts and seeds, fending off rival tree rats with a flick of his tail and a stamp of his manicured little feet. One fateful day, while looking out her big, lonely window, Livy the cat was suddenly surprised by a scratching sound, coming from below her footsies. Lo and behold,

Cat and Squirrel

Livy: Whassat? Whassat? Whassat? Friend or foe? Declare yourself!

Cat and Squirrel

Livy: Gah! Tis a wee beastie!
Squirrel: *snicker snicker*

The meeting was an eventful one, fraught with antipathy and danger.

Cat and Squirrel

Squirrel: I taunt you with my freedom! Nyah!
Livy: What a creature! The cheek!

Cat and Squirrel

Livy: Get lost! You're messin' up the view.

Cat and Squirrel

Squirrel: If I ignore it, it will go away.
Livy: I shall mesmerise it with my e y e s

Cat and Squirrel

Livy: Unh! Glass. So. Impenetrable!

Cat and Squirrel

Livy: Maybe my looming presence will conquer it.
Squirrel: No chance, kitty. Look at this bum, up against the window. This is what I think of you.

Cat and Squirrel

Livy: Seriously. What are you?

Cat and Squirrel

The cat and the squirrel eventually make an armistice. A beautiful armistice, founded on distrust and wariness.
Livy: I'm watching you.
Squirrel: Ditto, fish-breath.

Cat and Squirrel

Behold the beady-eyed vermin.

Cat and Squirrel

Squirrel: (whispering) Is it gone?
Livy: What vision do mine eyes behold?

Cat and Squirrel

Livy: Oooh, tis a bee-yoo-tiful kitty! Hello lovely lady, almost as pretty as mineself! I bestow on you the royal headbutt. Oof. Glass. So. Impenetrable!
Squirrel: Puh-lease, mayn't I have some seeds, pretty camera lady?

Cat and Squirrel

Squirrel: Wait, is that cat -- is that cat sleeping?? My mortal enemy??? In a window. When I'm 2 centimetres away. For real?
Livy: I give up.

Cat and Squirrel

And there was peace in the window, and beyond the window, and as the sun sank below the horizon, both the kitty Livy, and the tree rat, remembered their eventful day.

Livy: Being a cat is so exhausting. I need my beauty rest.
Squirrel: Cats. Pah. What an easy life. I need to go dig up some seeds.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Twitchy Itchy Livy Kitty

I'm just watching an electrical storm of twitches course through my cat (multiple muscles on all four paws, both ears, eyebrow whiskers, nose, lips, the works), and thought I would write a little bit about her.

I took Olivia to the vet on Saturday, because she has been having some itchy skin problems lately, and she had not seen the vet in what turned out to be two and a half years! It turns out Livy is okay, although she does have allergies to something (hence the itch), and I may have to switch to expensive vet food, because her kidney function, although still in the normal range, is a little high. But her teeth are in great shape. Which means she just has terribly bad breath.

I was very proud of Livy. Everyone at the vet's office talked about how calm she was in the face of adversity, sitting quietly on the bench next to me, chatting up fellow patrons, and ignoring the dogs as much as possible. She didn't cry when the vet took two vials of blood, or when she got her vaccines. She was good in the car, too. She stays in the back seat (unlike Dusty, who used to think crawling under the brake peddle was the safest place to cower), she meows a little, hops up in the rear window, and settles down. She almost fell asleep on the way back.

All of this has me thinking about just how far I'd be willing to go if Livy became seriously ill. Growing up, we always had a policy of "no heroic measures," that was founded as much on cost as it was on the accepted role and importance of pets. Of course, that policy was never really tested; If we actually had the money to spend, would we have made exceptions? I'm not sure where I stand on the issue. I love my cat, but she is a pet, not "my baby." I think it is my responsibility to see that she is healthy and comfortable for as long as she is alive, but how far am I willing to go (or spend) to extend her life? It's a hard question, and if she knew I was considering it, I don't think she would be snoring so serenely with her nose squished against the couch.

Is it terrible that pet care is not just about quality of life, but cost as well? And just what is that magic number beyond which we have to stop? Is it when the cost of keeping the animal alive exceeds your monthly phone bill? Your furniture payment? A year's tuition? How much is the love of a pet worth?

If I catblogged every Friday, this blog would be nothing but cat pictures, but in honour of this post, I will make an exception. Behold, the beautiful Livy, in macro.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Lost Philosophers

Who saw Lost tonight? Wasn't it fantastic? I absolutely loved the Desmond "backstory".

So I'm here to test your memory and your wikipedia skills. I've noticed since the first season that some characters are named after famous philosphers. I'll share the ones I have noticed. It feels like I'm forgetting someone, so if you can help name a few more, it would be greatly appreciated. Following that request, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help me determine if the naming is just an inside joke of the show's writers, or if it conveys any meaning? I have explained what little I know.

Danielle Rousseau: is Rousseau. The original Rousseau had a lot to say about man's natural state. Could the fact that Rousseau is a crazy woodswoman have anything to do with her name?

John Locke: John Locke. Nature boy. Does he have anything in common with his namesake?

Juliet Burke: Also her ex-husband, Edmund Burke. Apparently the original E. Burke shared similarities with Adam Smith?

Desmond: full name, Desmond David Hume! Both the original Hume and Desmond are Scottish.

So, who am I missing? Has anyone seen this mentioned on any of the Lost message boards? I don't frequent them.

Also, some peripherals:
Kate Austen: Jane Austen?
James "Sawyer" Ford: like the character Tom Sawyer? You know, southern, ragamuffin, gets in trouble?
Boone Carlyle: Thomas Carlyle? Also, Daniel Boone?

UPDATE: Oh, Boo. The tv wiki has noticed it too. Well, it must have been someone exceptionally clever who wrote that, right? ;)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Unlentines


I'm going to play a common rhetoric card here: I'm going to tell you that there are two camps of Valentines Day people - those who like it, and those who don't. But (surprise surprise), there's a third: those for whom the day does not register.

The people who like the day do not need to be explained. You know who you are, and there is an entire retail industry waiting to help you declare it. And good on you. Those who hate the day need no longer feel left out - the retail industry has found a way to make money off you, too.

Which leaves me and my ilk. As a single person, the day does not fill me with weepy what-ifs, or angry backlash. I understand people who see the day as a celebration of romance and love. And I understand those who rail against the commercialism, the manufactured pity for the singletons, the pressure to feel bad just because you are single on Valentines Day. But for me, the day evokes absolutely no emotions. I'm valentepid.

It's not that I am cynical about love and romance, although in movies and on TV I do evaluate them on a case-by-case basis; musical triggers and admissions of love are not Pavlovian triggers for my heart to beat faster or my breath come out in a spasm of "awwws".

I don't flippantly dismiss the day as "just another excuse to eat chocolate, hooray!" because, to be totally honest, I bought quite a few M&M's at the Bulk Barn the other day and I'm pretty tired of chocolate right now.

I used to 'participate' back in the day, but I stopped when I was about ten. Mom used to buy me those big punch-out books of valentines (the ones that had two sheets of full-coloured glossy paper ones, and ten sheets of black and red print), instead of the fancy boxes of Winnie the Pooh or Simpsons or Little Mermaid valentines. I always resented that a little bit, but I did find plenty of valentines in those silly books that I liked. Those were the ones that I kept. The ugly ones I always gave away.

My childhood crushes weren't really crushes, certainly not by Judy Blume's standards, or even by my best friend's; I had no emotional attachment to the boys I picked. My criteria were cuteness, niceness, and quietness. The first one I chose had a speech impediment and blond hair and was never mean. Very cute. The second one had brown curly hair and blue eyes. He was purely an aesthetic choice, as we had nothing in common, but he never spoke much so I was never embarassed for my selection. The third spoke quite a lot more, he had an energy to him, but he was still sort of reserved, which I liked. He also seemed like he had a brain. Braininess is hot.

So what do I really have to say about Valentines Day, if I am so apathetic? Well, it all boils down to this:

Three years ago today, someone gave me my copy of the BBC's 1995 Pride and Prejudice on DVD. For which I am forever thankful. To the DVD, not to him. Now, I don't go gaga over the Firth, swoon over Mr. Darcy (I'm a Captain Wentworth girl, myself), or fantasize about Fitzwilliam, but I do find the entire miniseries wonderfully entertaining. So many hours of schoolwork, lost to that miniseries. So many Saturdays spent with Colin Firth brooding in the background. So many pieces of popcorn thrown at Mrs. Bennet. Far too many questions about how they got the cleavage that high. Valentines Day has taught me one valuable lesson: good entertainment makes it better.

Although, I have to admit North and South (BBC version, 2005) has lately taken the place of P&P. Its like P&P, but with the industrial revolution. And Richard Armitage. He seems very brainy.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Nephew blogging: Any day of the week

My brother's family had a myriad of tasks to accomplish and appointments to attend yesterday and today in town. They spent last night here at our house, and while my brother and Dad went over to a neighbour's house to watch the Superbowl, my sister-in-law, Mom and I played 80's Trivial Pursuit. A love of board games is just one more thing my s-i-l has brought to this family, and I have to say, I'm really happy about it (not just about the board games, we love you!). I never had cravings to play board games before she came into our lives.

Oh, how did the game go, you say? I'm sure Mom will fill you in in the comments section.

Naturally, the opportunity could not go by without me pulling out the camera. I'm still rectifying the Kohl shortfall, so here is one picture of Kohl playing the piano. It's the first thing he heads to, after the obligatory welcome hugs. This picture was hard to edit with my rudimentary tools because of all the digital noise, so I had to embrace those shortcomings and aim for "atmospheric":






















And Kohl and Kamron (who is sick, hence the flushed cheeks, poor chicken):



Nephews. Such great distractions from schoolwork. But, alas, back to my TA prep.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Will pollution bring God back sooner?


Well, it's unanimous: humans are destroying the earth and causing climate change.

"The top scientists from 113 countries have reached a unanimous consensus at the Paris International Panel on Climate Change that mass burning of fossil fuels, land use and agriculture practices are indeed melting polar ice caps. And the new message to world leaders is that inaction is no longer an option."

Will this latest announcement change the minds of those cynical disbelievers who quote petroleum industry-funded scientists who say "climate change is natural, there is nothing significant humans can do to prevent it, and besides, there is no unanimous consensus among scientists that climate change will result in a significant impact on the environment."? "Oh, and God won't let us destroy the planet completely before he returns. In fact, he may be waiting for it to get really bad before that happens!"?

Probably not.

Early training is so important to make children environmentally conscious. While the environmental movement of the 1970s may have taught hippies that big business is evil and pollutes the world, I don't know how much individual action was encouraged. I have vivid memories of school clean-up days at my elementary schools, of children excitedly rooting through the grass for that last discarded sucker stick to put in their bags. I remember the classes on composting, the "reduce, reuse and recycle" training, and Green Team recruitments (my best friend was the president). At home, my parents renewed my subscription to Ranger Rick every year, and I became well versed on blue-footed boobies, endangered pandas, and how pollution, overfishing or overhunting, and too much water use destroys ecosystems. It was what so many conservatives in the US and Canada fear for their children: liberal brain-washing in the public school system and media.

But doesn't it just make sense? I'm glad that myself and most of my fellow students have been inculcated with environmental messages. It means that as journalists, we are (hopefully) less likely to give credence and significant air time to the pseudo-science that combines faulty science with misplaced apocalyptic reasoning as an excuse for the continued abuse of our planet. It means we are more likely to put up with the hassle of sorting recyclables from compost and refuse. It means we are more likely to vote for a party with environment-friendly policies. It means, even if we don't "do our part," we still know enough to feel guilty for it (Identification hint: they're the defensive ones).


From a religious standpoint, we act like petulant children if we think that any mess we create is going to hurry up the plans of an immortal parent. Trashing our bedroom until it is unlivable, packing our toy suitcase full of monopoly money, and telling our parent, "I'm ready for Disney land now that I have nowhere to sleep," is not going to convince the parent one whit. Parents see the big picture; they need time off work. They want good weather for the trip. They may be saving up money so they don't go into debt. They have plans that are not going to be changed because their three-year-old throws a tantrum. Although, too much bad attitude, and they may decide to postpone the trip indefinitely. While a parent would never deny their child the love they have freely given, they still understand their responsibility to see that their children are trained up as best as they can be, before they are given, by grace, their reward.

Opting in to the general vocabulary of this dialogue, I could mention a few parables off the top of my head that should be used to show that Christians are expected to be good stewards with what God has given them. So why in the world is the most "Christian" nation in the world, not to mention the dear, steely-eyed Christian leader of this country, sitting back on its haunches and saying "it's not my responsibility"? Evangelicals are told that Christianity, that salvation, starts with a personal accountability. So why are they so eager to shuck their own personal role to protect and respect what God has given them?

I should finally say that I have not encountered these views at my church, but I think the omission of environmental discussion is problematic. We know that the United Church and other progressive, left-leaning churches take positions on things like environment, but Fellowship Baptist churches seem to stop at the "family values" page. Some Pastors preach from the pulpit to support social conservative-friendly parties like the Conservatives, but they don't encourage us to think about the entirety of the Conservative platform.

If you accept that respect for the environment and personal action is the role of a Christ-emulating Christian, but also that the government has some role in regulating people's behaviour, then Conservative apathy and double-speak on the issue of environment is dishonest and unChristian. I accept that some people will never see respect for the environment as another one of those things Christians should be concerned about, but I still think that good stewardship should be a priority for Christians. While voting politically for a "family values" platform really only seeks to regulate other people's morality, voting for environmental issues covers something we can actually control - our own behaviour, and the industries that endanger our planet.

Well, now I have covered the religious angle from my uneducated position; maybe later I'll talk about the connection between gender and environmentalism! Now that is one post I'm sure you're all looking forward to.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday Catblogging

I must have started and abandoned about 5 posts this week. The most recent, a sort of "rant", if you will, about environmentalism, climate change, religion, and gender (oh yes, so many bases covered), is still rather rough around the edges.

In the meantime - Friday catblogging! Only four minutes to spare before the day is over.

You know, it's really hard to capture the extreme cuteness of Livy's nose, because the black colour tends to up the contrast and decrease the detail. But look at that nose! And the hairiest chin on a cat, ever. Seriously, I know almost all cats are furry, but mine is also so hairy. Her eyebrow whiskers rival even my dear father's. Heh heh heh.