Saturday, 29 December 2007


Joel is over as usual today, which eases the solitude a bit. I decided not to go into the city with him today, despite his preference, as I'm back from New York City and with a giant vet bill to pay (X-ray, "euthanasia" and cremation). We played Super Mario 3 on my NES after I checked out "Commando" which I picked up used in NYC. I also tried out rolling perch fillets in corn meal mixed with spices, and then frying them in a bit of peanut oil. It worked out quite well.

Joel's lent me the super-duper Blade Runner 5 disc DVD set with all the extras. I seem to watch extras more than actual movies, lately. I seem to prefer learning stuff about things I already like, rather than finding new things to like, nor even re-enjoying things I've liked for some time. It strikes me upon watching Blade Runner that the "eye" graphic I made of my own face reflected in my own eye for the header on this blog is pretty 2001/Dark Side of the Moon/Blade Runner. Even with me pointing out eye, nose and mouth, Joel was unable to see my face reflected in my eye.

Switched To Blogger

I've been blogging on 20six since 2003, but repeated problems with pictures, formatting and logins have made my mind up for me.  Now I'm gonna post here on blogger like most people.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

A First For Me

I've never had a young woman put me in handcuffs before. She was gentle. She was the border guard at the US-Canadian border.
     When she put my name into her system, someone with my identical first and last names and birthdate who's always in trouble with the law, who lives in my area came up, and her screen hooted quietly with a "submarine diving" klaxon sound. Six border guards materialized from nowhere, hands on sidearms. I was cuffed and led across the lanes of cars into the Homeland (Fatherland) Security office.
     They patted me down a few times rather vigourously, then took one hand out of the cuffs in order to cuff me to a bench set in concrete. I let them know of their error once they asked, and suggested that, as they always ask "Do you have any tattoos?" that the man they thought I was probably had tattoos, and I do not. They scurried out to their computer and came back in later saying this was true, and that "I" was also supposed to be about 6 inches taller.
     Without removing my right arm from the cuffs, they got me to show them my right shoulder and shoulder blade (no easy feat) to see that there were no tattoos. There was a lengthy process afterward anyway. They guards were slightly amused and very apologetic, and joked around embarassedly with me. They also had to give me a Homeland Security "Your Border Experience Comment Card" to fill out like at MacDonald's, but with "Was the officer who detained you courteous and professional?" and "Did you feel you were detained because of racial profiling, or other reasons?"
     I went to Best Buy, hoping to see the movie Once for sale, with thoughts of buying Stardust if it was cheap also. I didn't expect them to have Once, but when I walked into the store, the front "Christmas Display" table had the two films sitting side-by-side for $20 each. It's nice having Canadian money be worth the same as American.
   Also, the Reese's Peanut Butter Commemorative Elvis Banana Creme cups that I didn't get to try in Graceland last July, and which, it turns out, they do not sell in Canada, were on sale in New York State, so I got some. Quite good, actually.
   My folks had given me my Christmas presents right before I left. I got a "Dr. Seuss' WWII editorial cartoons" book, Jon Stewart's America (the "Teacher's Edition," corrected in red throughout by a college professor) and some stuff like that.
   While in New York state, I ate at The Cracker Barrel (I had catfish again, and warm chocolate pecan pie, I'm afraid) and got my dad a Hee Haw DVD there. I got to my uncle the optometrist's (in New Jersey) late, but he still did an amazingly thorough job of making a slightly adjusted prescription to deal with nearsightedness and astigmatism properly. His professional patter reminded me of an extremely laid-back magician's ( "First there was one, but now there are two... now you should see a hot air balloon, but now it should be gone, now two, now just one...right now it's off-centre, tell me when the two are lined up perfectly" ) He also helped me pick out new glasses frames. I got ones with magnetic sunglass clip ons that look very Matrix-y. He can get contacts and glasses much more cheaply than McLensCrafters sells them for, so he's going to mail me some and I can PayPal him.
    I also saw a cousin of mine who I rarely see and enjoyed, and was given the recipe for, some excellent ziti.
     Then it was off to New York City, and Brooklyn. M and I stayed up 'till all hours showing each other YouTube stuff we and our friends did, and other stuff on there, and laughing and laughing. The "Jake E. Lee Shreds" video was a particular favourite.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Yup. Snow Day.

After seeing this out my bedroom window, I didn't even try to go into school.   Lazed around.  Tried not to be sad.  Was anyway.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

The Rest of the Weekend (Grieving and All)

Once I wrote my blog entry about having my cat put down, I had a tough time. Grieving and all. Then I realized I wanted to get out and get doing things. I phoned J and we went into the city. John Gray's Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus suggests that men, when they can't control or fix everything, feel ashamed, weak, out of control, and so they find comfort in small things that they CAN fix or control. The following should have ample signs of this working for me. 
     My mission was to clean up my place. I went to Ikea and got more glass jars to keep flour and corn meal and pasta and so on in, a shelving system with doors to put my non-hanging up clothes in (I always have clothes everywhere, through a mixture of being unable to throw away things I don't really wear anymore, and not having enough room for stuff that doesn't hang up in the closet) and a new switch for my broken floor lamp and two bags of assorted capacitors I planned to use to fix my broken DVD player. 
    We went to T's place, and he desoldered my DVD's board so I could put in a new capacitor, verified that the type of capacitor needed was beyond the scope of the two assorted capacitor bags, traded me some Atari 2600 games for my NES cartridges that I didn't want (I traded Felix the Cat and Ghosts and Goblins for Centipede, Ms. Pacman, Zaxxon and a few others). 
    We then went to the store T recommended for getting the correct capacitors and I got a little bag of them. Then Ikea, where we got the glass containers, the shelving unit for clothes, the dimmer switch for my floor lamp with the broken switch, and a little basket to put rolled up socks into, on the shelf in the shelving unit. 
    Afterward, we went to a Chinese buffet, and I found I couldn't eat much, and was very impatient to get going, because sitting silently while J ate was tough, and his mile-a-minute, four nonlinear ideas per second chatter was more than I could participate in. 
     Then, he wanted to buy a new guitar accessory. He'd been recording weird sounds created by using a back and neck massage device on his guitar strings and pickups, so he wanted to buy a variable-speed vibrator and try that out, with a phase pedal, wah pedal and distortion on at the same time. 
    I sat in the car while he apparently took stock of an adult store's entire inventory of vibrators while two "fascinated by his novel intentions" female staff showed him how to put batteries in them and change their speeds and so on. I'm sure he had the time of his life. As for me, I was in the car being miserable. 
    I sat in the car in the dark and moped fairly hard and felt full of a desire to just drive off, anywhere, when suddenly a huge barge of a car with two really old people (too old to be driving) sitting in front and an older middle-aged woman in back, pulled up in a parking lot that was empty apart from my car. The man who was driving tottered out and I thought for sure he'd ask me for directions. 
    "There is no way he will be going shopping in the sex shop while his wife and older middle-aged daughter wait in the car" I thought. 
    In he went. My interest was piqued. Then a blonde salesgirl came outside into the bracing cold, arms folded tightly over her chest, and pointed up the street to show him where to go to get to a restaurant he was looking for. He'd asked for restaurant directions from a clerk in a sex shop while out for a family outing. 
     J came out, excited at the percussive power and variety of whiny sounds his new purchase apparently makes (I didn't ask to see it) and we went back to my place. My computer was full of (and continued to receive) kind and sympathetic words about me losing my cat from all sorts of people I don't normally hear from much. I soldered a capacitor into the pin holes T kindly left for me in the power supply circuit board of my DVD player (I've never done electronics work of this complexity before, but used the Internet and was thus emboldened) and the thing started working just like new again. J watched an uncharacteristically well-made cartoon from my 1967 Spider-man DVD, then got very wrapped up in playing Super Mario Brothers 3 on the NES I fixed last week (I both replaced the 72 pin cartridge socket, and cut the number four pin on the chip the Internet told me is the fiddly one that causes NES's to flash so much and refuse to play cartridges. It's a cartridges-not-made-by-Nintendo safeguard gone haywire) while I assembled the shelving unit. 
     Early on, I felt like I'd been through a war, but continued on into the evening, and after I drove J home I came back exhausted. I'd wanted him to help me empty my deceased cat's litter boxes, as it seemed like a pretty sad task, but we were too tired to do it (bags of litter are quite heavy to lug down three floors). 
     Then I slept badly and woke unable to sleep in but wanting to sleep for the forseeable future. I still didn't want to eat, so I cleaned. There is a truly record-breaking blizzard I haven't seen the likes of that's been blasting outside all day, so I can't really, say, drive into the city and watch The Golden Compass or anything like that. I watched another episode of season two The Six Million Dollar Man (an episode, actually, that I'd left for my Grade 9 class one day when I was going to be away, in 2004, so I didn't watch it with them, but heard their comments the next day, complaining of too much slow motion. 
     It was "The Seven Million Dollar Man" about the rogue bionic guy Steve Austin is supposed to help adjust to his bionic limbs, but who keeps ripping stuff up and hurting people, all power-mad and stuff). Then I watched a whole thing with Louis Theroux (who'd been in Michael Moore's TV Nation years ago) in which he hangs out with Boers (affrikaaners) in South Africa, exploring their clinging to separatism, long after that battle has, legally, been lost. 
    Back to dishes, I guess. If I wasn't planning a trip to Brooklyn over Christmas, I'd go out and buy a kitten right now, just to make the litter boxes, cat toys and empty food and water dishes that I'm continually tempted to absent-mindedly refill less upsetting. Maybe I'll take a walk down the street in the blinding blizzard to stores that are within walking distance. That's always good. 

UPDATE: snow still blowing, but you can see through it. Don't know if we'll have a snow day tomorrow or not. Still feeling "phantom pet syndrome," in terms of reflexively worrying about leaving the hall door open or a plate of food left out in the other room, then remembering there is, at this time, no cat here to get into that stuff. 
   D phoned and we had a leisurely, long chat in which I was free to babble about things other than lost pets. A while after I got off with him, and organized my DVDs and polished my shoes with mink oil after wiping some road salt residue off them, then did laundry, my Mom phoned. 
    We talked for a good while, including kind of a comforting retrospective of all of the pets we've had. Most died on the highway. Here's most of the list, excluding things like zebra finches, gerbils and fish: 

 Freddie. Huge declawed black cat who seemed to be around since my birth. A great hunter. Killed rabbits quite often, ate them, and then lay around nursing his distended belly for days. Lived to almost 20 years before being hit on the road. 

Flossie: beautiful black, white and tan collie we had for a few years, then hit on the highway. Heidi: very intelligent, attentive female german shepherd who could open doors with her paws and seemed to understand family routines and casually-spoken english to an unnatural degree. Got sick with parvovirus, survived that, and I think was hit on the road. Lived about five years. 

Max: 125 lb bear-like male german shepherd. Trained to stay away from the road. Could eat muffins in one gulp without chewing, and you could put your fist in his mouth and not touch the teeth on either side. Un-neutred, became an "outside dog" once he reached full size upon this incident: Dad was going around the house with a plant sprayer, spraying nutrient-enriched water on all of mom's many plants, and then saw that Max was walking around after him, a few plants behind, also "spraying" each one. Max lived to a fairly ripe old age, but got hip dysplasia (a typical German Shepherd problem) and eventually was put down. 

Smokey: affectionate, smoke-grey cat who was cool and liked to "hang out" with me. When my grandmother was dying of stomach cancer, he was dying from bladder stones blocking his bladder, but, distracted by all the hospital visits, we didn't notice until it was too late to save him. Cats hide their illnesses when they can, and he didn't do anything obvious like peeing blood into the tub, like Syd did when he had that problem. 

 Josie: beautiful, bitchy female grey and white tabby cat who eventually got brain tumours, which caused her skull to swell up like Brain from Pinky and the Brain so I (a young adult) took her down to the vet and had them put her down, and brought her back home in a plastic bag for Dad to bury. 
Sam: medium sized black cat my father brought home from my uncle's (could have been a relative or ancestor of Syd's, therefore). A playful, fun cat. We actually got him for Dad to keep in his Grade 5 classroom (until a child with cat allergy complained) while Josie was still alive, and he got hit on the road before she got sick. 

Alex: once Max died and my parents had no pets, I bought Alex at a pet store and brought him to them. They were going to refuse him, but soon came to really like him. He was a slender, large grey cat with pleasing barred stripes of darker grey. He lived for years before succumbing to the highway. You'd think we'd not let cats out if they kept get hitting on the road, but my dad is very old-fashioned, did his best to train dogs to stay away from the road, and thinks cats belong in a barn to kill mice, so even though we let ours stay inside (which, to his mind, meant they weren't "working" and earning their keep by mousing in the barn) he certainly wouldn't insult their professionalism by keeping them from going outside. 

Azra: my sister got this huge, hyper, hairy, smelly Golden Retriever while living briefly with my parents, then moved to an apartment and she stayed with them. She has survived for about seven years without getting hit on the road. Can't be still for a moment. She runs everywhere and gets hair and slobber everywhere. Continually desperate for constant attention, and petting her makes your hand stink. When you get used to a cat, this isn't too welcome. 

Lana: a huge fat, grouchy grey cat with odd brown markings that look like she's got dirt in her fur. More than a bit psycho. My sister got her a few years back and has spent the rest of the time trying to get other people to take her off their hands. Unpleasant. Apt to unexpectedly bite, scratch or snarl. I was once sitting in an easy chair at their house, with no idea that Lana was between the chair and the wall (there was plenty of space, and she'd crawled in there) and my brother-in-law handed me a drink. I was sitting there, and as I went to bring it to my mouth, Lana erupted in my face, apparently from nowhere, mouth wide open, a vicious howl moving rapidly up the scale, and then landed back on the floor, growling. My flinch reaction caused the fluid in my glass to leap about two feet into the air above the glass, and some of the drink didn't land back in the glass.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

An Extremely Sad Start to My Weekend

After a week of giving him aspirin to try to prevent blood clots and heart failure, my cat went into heart distress while I was sleeping, and I woke to the sounds of him rumbling and rattling under the bed, looking for air. At first I didn't know what it was, and got up to check my email, and he flopped out from under the bed, hind legs paralysed and cold, in distress, getting the breath to yowl his upset and wanting help.

I tied my hair back, took him to the vet, and they descended upon him and put in an IV, took an X-Ray and wanted to know if I wanted them to try to put him on something, and stick him in an oxygen tent, as he was dying, or did I want them to put him down. While I discussed this, they kept working with him (he scratched one of them) and the young female vet gave me a hug a couple of times.

Eventually, the older female vet agreed with me that, if he had two of these incidents while on aspirin, and was near death now and in a lot of pain, that it was very likely that he'd not pull through, and if he did, he'd most likely have another attack quite soon. So, as much as it hurt me deeply to do it, I told them to "euthanize" him, which is how they describe it. I signed a form, they explained that it was a drug overdose/drug high kind of thing and they left me alone with him to tell him he was a good cat, and stroke him, and then they stuck the needle in his IV and he stopped gasping for air. I cried like a baby and the younger vet hugged me.

When you're approaching middle-age, can't keep a relationship with a woman afloat, and have no kids, and most of your friends have moved to the four corners of the earth, you put a disproportionate amount of what can only be described as "fatherly" emotions into a cat. I lived alone in my 20s, and knew that this was not healthy for me. In my late 20s, I lucked into being able to get a townhouse in the city with friends for a few years while the millennium ticked over. Living with other human beings suited me to the ground.

When they moved out, resolved not to go back to living in a dark basement apartment, working nights, alone, I got a place in the nicest of the little towns around the city and went on the lookout for a cat. I wanted a big, black cat like the one I remember my family having from my first memories (the one whose body I found on the road walking to the bus). Someone told me that my grandfather's cat had kittens, so I went to his place (he's a grouchy old cuss and I don't visit him often) and in the basement was a thin, large grey tabby cat with a litter of kittens, some all black, and some grey. I asked about it, and was told that these kittens were slightly too young to take from the mother, but that Grandpa being as he is, was going to have them all killed. So I took one.

It was a frigid November night around my birthday, and I tucked a little black fuzzball into my shirt under my coat and drove to my apartment. He yowled and fussed the whole way, and I picked up some of those little "juice box" boxes of milk substitute for kittens and he drank it and from the beginning took over the place. Troy had a cat he called "Floyd" for Pink Floyd, and so I called mine "Syd Barrett" though the ‘last name for a cat’ thing never really lasted. Right from the beginning he'd do two characteristic things: one is that when I lay on the futon to watch TV, he'd want to lie right on my neck or chin and lick my mouth. I wouldn't let him lick my mouth so he learned to rub his mouth against my nose and chin. The other thing he'd do is, whenever he was upset about anything, he'd pee on the spot on my bed or futon where I lay. He loved to "fetch" cat toys like a dog, and he "spoke" like a dog in that, wherever he was in the apartment, if you wanted to know where he was, if you called him name or just called "hello?" he'd answer back. He hated me to leave, and he wouldn’t leave the apartment. I don't know why he was so scared of the outdoors, but it took years before he got used to going out at all.

Once he saw me place a resume on the end table near the door and get ready to leave, waited while I went to brush my teeth, and then peed on the resume. Another time he did the same thing, except he peed in my suitcase when I went to get clothes to put in it to go on a trip. I had to replace the mattresses and get a couple of those allergy-layer sheet things. They're great. People who are allergic to dust in their mattresses can zip on these covers and they are air and water (and cat urine) proof. After some abortive attempts to punish him in various ways (including the traditional spraying with water) I learned to simply lock him in the hall, change the cover and sheet, and so when he did it, he'd get no reaction at all and it was like he didn't even do it. This eventually worked.

During this time, I lost my job at Nortel in the crash of the huge high tech bubble around the millennium, 911 went down, I got and soon lost a job in web design (once again this second company collapsed under its own weight and they let us all go) and then got a huge line of credit and put myself in debt to become a teacher, which I should have done from the beginning. I had to commute between where I was living and teacher's college just over the US border. Syd had to hold down the fort at home from Monday until Thursday evening sometimes, and he always scolded me when I came home. Although he grew to almost 20lbs, and was a giant of a cat (not just fat, large) he still always wanted to lie across my neck. The compromise was that he could climb onto my chest and curl up with his head jammed under my chin. He'd do this, after some dragging his cheek across my chin. I could get him to go out into the hall and walk around in there, but he seemed terrified of the sun and the sounds of people nearby, so he never really was an outside cat at that point.

Then I got a job two hours from here and had to move. I took him, and he yowled and complained the whole way there. He throve on living in half a house, though he did odd things like climb inside the cupboards in the kitchen. He learned to go outside after dark, but I had to keep him from fighting the neighbour cats. I'd had him neutered, but this didn't seem to do much of anything. Then I was transferred to a different school the next year and had to move back where I started. He yowled and fussed the whole way. I tried to train him that he could go down the rear exit stairs-fire escape, and it took a long time. What he really wanted me to do was just open the kitchen door and let him look out over the town from the third floor apartment I still live in. He went through a phase where I could open the door to the fire escape, and count to three, and on "three" he'd either jump out and make his way timidly down the fire escape, or give an annoyed yowl, turn on his heels and come back in.

I wrote a song about him which always gets a good reaction when I sing it. It goes like this:

I Live Alone
I came back home, ran up the stairs
And I sang three songs to a girl who wasn't there
Lay on the couch, which I had all to my own
What's that you say? I live alone.

I live alone, 'cept for my cat
He pees on my bed (now how 'bout that?)
When I'm asleep, then he cuts free
That's why I change my sheets so frequently
And live alone

I live alone with no one there
And so my sink fills up with human hair
My toilet's grey, my bathtub too
I'll clean them when I've got nothing better to do
I live alone

I live alone, all by myself
Overflowing garbage and empty shelves
More beer than fruit and I'm outta cheese.
But what the hell, I got nobody else to please
Except myself.

I wrote this song totally as a joke, but people seem to laugh yet take it seriously as "a good song" too. So, last year the vet found a bladder stone the size of a peanut in him after I took him in when he was peeing blood into the bathtub. He also listened to his heart and told me that Syd had a congenital heart problem that would claim his life soon. This upset me, but I carried on. The "single, in her 50s, never married, has a lot of plants and some cats" teacher at school was disturbingly understanding.

Then last weekend he had some sort of incident with his heart, so I started giving him the aspirin. I had a week of lying on the futon and watching Kolchak: The Night Stalker DVDs, and then yesterday my Six Million Dollar Man (season two) DVDs came in (not available in North America) so he lay on my chest and we watched some of those. Then the DVD player died. I went to bed, woke up, and the events that started this sad tale unfolded.

Now I am home, trying not to cry, typing this to commemorate what was essentially, just an animal. An animal I had poured years of care and concern into, though. An animal I did what I felt was best for, getting bites and scratches and fuzzy-headed chin rubs in return, and ultimately, it wasn't enough, and now I asked them to kill him. It took away the pain, and he's not suffering now, but I feel like I failed him and I feel vaguely helpless and guilty. I kind of feel like I killed him. When I think of him gagging and panting, sides heaving, froth coming from his mouth, and how that all relaxed once they gave him an overdose of anaesthetic, though, I know I eased his pain. I'm sure in the New Year I'll get another big black cat and call him Roger or something, but for now I am pretty...bereft, I guess is the word.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Big T.O. Trip

The plan this weekend was to go to Toronto after school and meet up with people I spend a lot of time talking to on the Internet about religious subjects, but have (in many cases) not met in real life. Most of them I met on the (ex) Plymouth Brethren forum ( ) which Shawn Cuthill started and I administer. Lately, we've been feeling the need for new perspectives, as the rest of us have filled the forum up with months of hard debate and creative thought, and would like some fresh blood. Do join up, whoever you are, if you want to jump into that.
    Most PB forums are "keep doing everything the brethren way, say you love it and feel blessed to be part of it all, and don't think." This one's more deconstructionist, and allows people to discuss things that may depict certain factions or aspects of brethrenism in an unflattering light on occasion.
   Friday I taught, somewhat grouchily, and when I saw that a kid had a huge set of male genitalia drawn with marker in his locker, I said "the custodians take a dim view of people drawing self-portraits in their lockers" to a kid I don't teach or anything.
    I drove to Toronto with some audio book chapters downloaded. I listened to a bit of I am America (And So Can You) and the first two chapters of a Jim Butcher novel and also Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald" which is him melding Sherlock Holmes with H.P. Lovecraft in his inimitable style.
     I hung out with a roomful of people in Toronto who all had opinions and we ate things and stayed up late, and then the next day I came back home, stopping only at The Flying J to realize I very much felt like buying a t-shirt from a truck stop and eating the least nutritionally balanced meal ever: In the middle of my plate I put a very small chicken drumstick. Around it were things that are meant to go with chicken: mashed potatoes with gravy, spicy potato wedges, nonspicy potato wedges with sausages and onions, and turkey stuffing. Then, full, I took a dinner plate to the dessert buffet and realized "Hey! I love chocolate pudding! And jello! And New York Style Cheesecake! And hot chocolate pudding cake! And apple cobbler! And bread pudding!" and ate some of each.
   Then even fullerer, I drove home, weighed down by all of that. I don't normally eat things like that, so I totally enjoyed it. And the t-shirt? A black one which reads "I'm only wearing black until they invent something darker."
I got home in time (as agreed upon) to play some songs at my grandfather's birthday party with my uncle (and two aunts), who always played music while I was growing up, but we've never played together before.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

A Snow Day That Would Not Be Denied

Normally when I wake up and see lots of snow or ice outside, I check online and see if buses to my school are cancelled. If they are, the walking kids don't come either, and I drive carefully into school on dangerous roads, and hang out there all day, not getting much of anything done, with a random kid wandering here or there in the halls. 
     Today, the buses were cancelled due to snow (usually it's ice) and I got into my car and drove it backwards out of the parking lot. I saw that the snow plow had left a big crest of snow across the sidewalk, and that I'd have to get up some speed to get over it. I got up some speed, and at the last minute a truck hove over the horizon and I had to jam on the brakes, getting firmly stuck at the sidewalk. I couldn't get out, despite a lot of digging with a shovel, and tossing down cat litter, so I went in and watched the "Razor" episode of Battlestar Galactica, overjoyed to see the designs from the classic series rendered in computer form, showing how much cooler they are than the new ones, which really can't compete on any level with them. I had to stay home from school, for once.
Then when I saw a man needing to snowplow our parking lot which my car was blocking, I went out and he tried to help push, but to no avail. Eventually, we hooked a towchain to my tow hitch and he pulled me out onto the street. It was almost noon, so I decided not to go into school. I made up my (recently micturated upon by a sick feline) bed, took a prolonged nap, did laundry, did dishes, worked on my school website (mostly this page), talked on the phone to a vet about the cat, who is acting like nothing at all happened yesterday, and walking with only a slight stiffness (that's not how blood clots are supposed to go at all) and checked the post office for my replacement Nintendo cartridge socket (still not in) and surprised myself by walking into the restaurant that is beside my building and ordering a hot turkey sandwich. I had food at home, but, after this weekend, and after the ordeals of the day, I seemed to totally need some coddling. 
Then I came in and started watching the BBC live-action TV movie of Terry Pratchett's novel Hogfather. Quite a thing to see that not in cartoon form. Looked fairly Harry Potter, actually. That's not the best of Pratchett's work, but it is Christmas-themed (kinda. The Santa Claus character of the Discworld is missing, so Death has to fill in) so was an obvious choice for adaptation. 
   The story is too complex and farflung to make an easy transition. The concepts are far more entertaining than the execution. Then I did more dishes and played my way through a selection of Johnny Cash songs on my electric guitar (not plugged in) which I surfed through on the net. I'm all cabin fevery, the weather outside is fairly frightful, no one has been phoning or emailing for days, I'm sick of watching DVDs but have nothing else to do, really. All my marking is at school, or I'd have done some of that.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Not a Restful Sunday

So, as the day wore on, it became clear that Syd (the cat) seemed to not be well. He curled up with me, though, and watched Terry Pratchett's Soul Music cartoon, which is largely about the necessity of death. Then, around supper time he crawled under the bed, started thrashing around down there, then came out and stumbled awkwardly around the bed, peeing sporadically as he went, then leaped clumsily right onto my computer keyboard and seemed to want attention. 
       I was looking up his symptoms and saw that cats with his heart problem usually just drop dead of a blood clot, and when they don't, they usually are suddenly completely (or almost completely) paralysed in their hind legs. For some reason, in humans, clots tend to go right to the brain, whereas in cats, they have a "saddle thrombosis" which blocks off blood flow to their hind legs. 
     Syd crawled under the bed and wouldn't come out, and I started to envision spending Sunday evening at home alone, watching my cat die. Nothing on the 'net was at all encouraging, and the vet had warned a year ago that he was likely to drop dead without notice at any time. (The cat too.) I thought about a dumpster to throw the body in and so on (I have just that sort of brain. The ground is frozen, and the vet's is closed on Sundays). I got fairly thoroughly miserable. 
      I left a message, unable to keep my voice steady, on the vet's emergency line, and one of the cute female vets phoned back and was very nice. My voice was wobbly throughout. She seemed to not be of the opinion that he was dying (right now anyway), saying that they usually drop dead instantly, or show much worse hind leg paralysis than merely having a weak hind leg. She said if he could jump onto the computer keyboard, or up onto the bed, then he's had quite a mild blockage, though last night was probably quite painful, as having blood flow cut off to some of your major muscles is pretty bad. She told me to get a special "daily low dose" aspirin that human heart patients take to thin their blood, which is about double what you'd normally give a cat, but appropriate when they're having distress of this kind. She said "Get that into him. It might be necessary to save his life." The idea is that it will dissolve clotting in his blood, or prevent more clotting. 
     I drove to the next town over, where they have a drug store that's open until midnight, and got some. Syd wouldn't come out from under the bed, and I knew I couldn't get him out until he was ready, so I sneakily built more of my history web page and then tried to concentrate on a episode of Kolchak so he'd come out. 
   I heard some quiet thumping around and knew that a cat (normally stealthy) would be quite uncomfortable with clumping around so noisily, but that a TV playing and the noises of my usual routine would reassure him. 
      I was most of the way through an episode of Kolchak when Syd suddenly ran casually out of the bedroom and jumped very smoothly onto the back of the futon. He wanted attention and I held him and then tried to give him his aspirin pill. He snapped and swatted and yowled and otherwise warned me to quit trying to do that every time I tried, and I realized he was too vigorous and dangerous to get that pill into. He is a giant beast, and a 20 lb cat seems much more dangerous than a 20lb dog for some reason. 
    Oddly, he clung steadfastly to me despite my trying to pry his jaw open, and wouldn't leave my side. Distraught, I did something out of desperation: I crushed the pill between two spoons and mixed it in with this hairball goop you feed the cat by putting it on the tip of your finger and the cat licks it off. Syd wasn't fooled for a moment, having watched the whole process, and he normally turns his nose up at anything that has pills mixed into it just by smelling it, but he eagerly licked my finger thoroughly, getting the majority of the human low-dose pill into him. What a relief. 
   Now he's playing with an old guitar string on the floor and seeming remarkably spry. Not out of the woods yet, and all, but still...

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Saturday Spending Extravaganza and Beowulf

Having been paid, Saturday I picked up J, and went into town with the express intent not to buy too much crap. I picked up the Kolchak: The Night Stalker series on DVD, not having been able to download all of it, and the Once soundtrack I'd been two dollars short of being able to pay cash for at the Swell Season concert in Montreal.
      We picked up J's friend M, who he used to make funny videos and record music with until M moved into the city. Neither J nor M drive, so this reduced their friendship and creative partnership to phonecalls until I pointed out that, if J was coming into the city with me many weekends to go shopping anyway, we might as well pick up M on the way.
     J really didn't want to see Beowulf, and I really did, so I dropped them off in the middle of Ottawa's Byward Market (pretty busy place as to restaurants, stores and bars) with a video camera, and went across town to see Beowulf in 3D.
It was awesome, I thought. Better than I'd hoped, though I always hope great things of Neil Gaiman. It had poetically dramatic dialogue and rude songs, unabashed heroism and an examination of the unflattering side of making one's self a hero to begin with.
     I've never seen anything 3D at a theatre before. It was weird, with the ushers manning tubs of what looked like coloured plastic sunglasses (not with red and blue lenses, though, just normal looking) and with a huge theate full of people apparently sitting in the dark wearing sunglasses. I found myself blinking and flinching at the spears and arrows and blood flying out of the screen at me at first, and it was weird when they did giant pullbacks, with everything apparently passing right through your head to appear directly in front of your nose. They kinda "played up" the 3D stuff at first, then eventually the greater middle section is all characterization and story-telling, with the end becoming an action sequence again. Way to make Beowulf a teenager's action hero, guys! 
     I returned, J and M having bought CDs they didn't think they'd ever find anywhere, and having shot a video in which they went to the various modern art sculptures and statues in the area and videoed each other pretending to be the (extremely pretentious) artists who'd designed all of them, making up fake symbolism and bizarre premises for them all. 
We went to a giant used book store. I picked up some graphic novels I was going to buy anyway, at half the new price. 
I came home late, watched some of a Kolchak episode, and wondered why the cat was growling and skulking under things. Then, all night long he was growling and hissing and yowling and miserable. The vet told me years ago that he has a serious heart defect and will likely drop dead of a heart attack, or have a stroke at some point, so I was concerned. (for the cat as well) He's seven, which isn't very old, but the vet didn't expect him to live to be old. In the wee hours, he crawled under the bed (the cat as well), and was growling under there. 
When he eventually emerged in the morning, he was tired, cowed and limping. I checked to see if he was dragging a leg (signs of a stroke) and it seems more like he is having trouble putting his full weight on it, but can move it. It seems to hurt him to step on it, which looks more like an injury than a stroke, though I'm no vet. Just being optimistic, I guess. Anyway, he's staying close to me today, looking a bit woebegone, but able to walk about, still troubled by his leg. He has four legs, after all, though. 
Today I'm watching one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld cartoons. Soul Music to be precise. With the various thick accents in silly voices, the dialogue is harder than you'd expect to catch, and the jokes are quite obscure. Still very unusual, though, and therefore a nice change from the naked American "real" and "scripted" stupidity that is spewed trumpeting from the tube. Writer's strike? I didn't know they had any.