Monday, June 30, 2008

A Monumental Day

How we spent our afternoon in DC:

After getting out of the heat, we went to the Old Post Office (unfortunately, the tower tour was closed due to rain), then spent some time at the National Museum of Natural History, where we saw the Hope Diamond and lots of other gemstones before the place closed and the guards kicked us out. We'll go back tomorrow or later in the week. We also plan to visit the International Spy Museum and the National Air & Space Museum while we're here.


Labels: ,

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I like it when the humans are sick.

When the humans are sick, several good things happen. For one, they stay in the mini-house and keep us company. Jasper's pretty nice for cuddling, but nothing really beats a big human body on the bed. There's plenty to snuggle up against, and--when they aren't sleeping--they'll even reach out and give pets every now and then.

The humans usually make sure that we have lots and lots of food before they climb into bed. I'm guessing this is just in case they sleep for a long time. Whatever the reason, it's nice to have as much as we care to eat in the bowl.

I could go on with the benefits, but I think I'll wrap up with just one more: When the humans are sick, they don't let anyone else into the room. Knowing that our territory isn't going to be invaded by a strange human is maybe the best of all.

The humans have been sick almost since we got here. I think this is my favorite mini-house ever.

Labels: ,

Sick Days

D and I will be the first to admit that we're not the most physically fit people in the world. This week, our respective ailments caught up with us: for me, it was "tummy trouble," the gastrointestinal distress which afflicts me a few times each year (we've never identified a specific cause, but a few days on liquids and soft foods and I'm okay); for D, it was her recurring migraine condition (no painful headaches, mostly balance issues and tiredness).

Ironically, she started feeling bad on Wednesday, then got better when I was laid up for the next few days--perhaps because sitting around nursing me back to health is not a strenuous activity--and today, when I was finally ready to go walk around DC, she got dizzy again. So we're spending a lazy Sunday indoors until we meet my old friend Tony and his wife for an early dinner.

So, yes, we are totally lame, because it's now our fifth day in the DC area and we haven't actually been to DC yet. But that's okay, for a few reasons:
  1. We used Marriott Rewards points for this stay, so it's essentially a free room. (w00t!)
  2. We've still got another full week here, which should be plenty of time to see the sights. Plus we can always extend our stay if we want--our schedule is still pretty malleable.
  3. Up to this point, we've both been quite healthy--to wit, our recurring maladies have been recurring much less frequently than we're used to. Perhaps they were stress-related, and that's alleviated now that we're footloose and fancy-free? Discuss.
To that last point, I blame our current convalescence on the recent COBRA fiasco, which had us both fuming for a few days. But we've got a whole month to deal with that, and the aforementioned Tony--who is a healthcare regulatory attorney--has given us some good advice on other insurance options.

Oh yeah, speaking of the mail, that lost Priority Mail finally showed up. In the words of our friend Karl:
It turns out we hit the 13 ounce rule, one of those brilliant post-9/11 feats of bureaucratic incompetence. Since it's impossible to blow someone up with less than 13 ounces of explosives, anything over that must be accepted by a human. Apparently the sweet little old Filipina ladies behind the counter are even better trained at explosives detection than the TSA. Or maybe they figure we'd just feel too guilty to hand them a bomb. Since it went in the slot, they couldn't deliver it. I guess we're lucky they didn't detonate it as a precaution.
So that's the good news. We're looking forward to Peking Duck tonight and fun in the nation's capital all week!


Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The humans take us to a lot of different mini-houses. We always get there by taking a long, boring driving trip. This is usually how it goes:

The humans pack up all our stuff. Bayla hides under the bed. Once everything is in piles on the bed, the humans take half of it away. The mini-house isn't a familiar home anymore when that happens. It gets scary! So I go hide under the bed with Bayla.

After a while, the humans crawl under the bed and grab us. We both get stuffed into a tiny carrier! Bayla yells for freedom, but the humans don't let us out.

They carry us outside. It's hot! We go into the car and she puts us into the cloth tent with our litter box. Bayla always gets in on her own. I don't like the tent, so I always have to be pushed in.

Then we drive. I look out the window. After I'm tired of looking out the window, I tell the humans that I'm bored. They ignore me! Bayla and I take a nap. I wake up and look out the window again. I remind the humans that I'm bored. They ignore me. They just drive and drive and drive! It's so boring.

When we finish driving, the humans stuff us back into the tiny carrier. I want to see the new mini-house, so I get in on my own. Bayla has to be dragged. Then the humans lock us in the bathroom while we yell to be let out.

Eventually, we get to explore a new mini-house. It has all our stuff, so it's okay. The view out this window is great too! Last time, I saw humans swimming. This time, I can see for a long distance... birds and parks and cars and humans and even a dog!

But I still hate driving! It's too boring.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Our Revised Itinerary

You've seen our route for the first seven weeks. I'm sure that was very exciting for you. Now, after a brief detour into Pennsylvania to see D's family, we are back on track for the rest of our trip. Please, hold your applause.

We won't hit every single state, and we've had to bend a few of our self-imposed road rules--in particular, the drive from Denver to Las Vegas is going to be brutal. Overall, though, we're pretty happy with what we've got planned for the next couple of months:
  • June 24-July 67: Washington, DC (+1 laziness)
  • July 78-12: Niagara Falls, NY
  • July 13-16: Cedar Point, OH
  • July 17-21: Madison, WI
  • July 22-25: Minneapolis, MN
  • July 26-August 1: Mount Rushmore and Badlands, SD
  • August 2-10: Denver, CO (Worldcon)
  • August 11-15: Las Vegas, NV (Coverville 500)
  • August 16-22: San Francisco Bay Area, CA (old home week)
  • August 23-26: Ashland, OR
  • August 27-September*: Seattle, WA (PAX)
If you're going to be in any of these places when we're there, and we haven't emailed you already, please drop us a line so we can meet up with you!


* Our dear friends Karin and Bryan are also in the Seattle area, so we'll visit with them until they get sick of us, then finally roll into Portland and start looking for a new home.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 23, 2008

Leaving "America's Historic Triangle"

I quote that phrase not to mock it, but because it's what all the signs on the freeway say.

We also hit a bonus location nearby:

I've found that I can usually judge the quality of a museum or historic site by two things: 1) whether they put their historical facts into a modern context; and 2) how much editorializing their descriptions contain. So far, the worst was probably Destrehan Plantation in Louisiana, where our guide barely mentioned their exhibit on the 1811 slave rebellion, even though it was the largest such uprising in American history.* The best has been the Archaearium at Historic Jamestowne, which features a CSI lab with two complete human skeletons and details on how they were reconstructed.

Finding the proper balance between context and comment can be tricky. I don't want you to gloss over the details of slavery, but I also don't need you to tell me that it was evil. (Kinda figured that out on my own, thanks.) I especially don't need you to tell me how "charming" a piece of folk art is, or how "terrible" a particular battle was. Just explain what the artifact is, what data you collected from it, and how those data led to whatever your conclusion is.

I guess I'm saying that I just want the science. Save the nostalgia for your grandchildren. They won't care, either, but at least my money won't be subsidizing it then.


* (Dis)Honorable Mention: The old coot at Log Cabin Village in Texas, who told us with a straight face that early American settlers had renamed maize to "corn" because the latter was mentioned in the Bible, and they wanted to "get in good with the Lord." I really wish I was joking about this.

Labels: , , ,

I am nothing if not analytical.

She got up much earlier than he did today. Well, that's not very unusual. This time, however, she spent a lot of time on the computer while I sat next to her and got pets. Her blogs kept mentioning this thing called Wordle, so she opened it up.

The humans got ready and left before she did anything with it. So I thought I would make a word picture of our most recent blog posts.

This is what I learned:
  • Jasper and I talk about the humans a lot more than they deserve.
  • The humans are frequently bad.
  • The mini-houses are a big deal in our lives. See above about bad humans.
  • Smell is important to us, but that's not news. We're cats.
  • Water too. Not news, either.

Labels: ,


It rained yesterday. It wasn't the dripping-sky kind of rain that we get at home. It was a big CURTAIN of water that started with a big lightning flash and some thunder!

The humans in the pool all came stampeding out. It was fun to watch them! Then they all went away, and I only had the curtain of water to watch. That wasn't so interesting. I got bored and took a nap on top of the playpen.

When the humans came home, I could tell that they had gotten caught in the rain. They smelled like all the things the water dripped off--dusty canvas, trees, brick buildings, even sky. I rolled around on their clothes to pick up all the smells.

These smells are interesting, but I like animal smells the best! The humans visited a horse, some chickens, some pigs, and some sheep. Except for the horse, I've smelled all these animals before.

Visit different animals, humans!

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Photos Galore: The Rest of Arizona

Continuing with my project to upload our backlog of photos...

Tomorrow's our last day here in Newport News. So far, we've toured Monticello and spent two days in Colonial Williamsburg. Tomorrow, we're going to get our money's worth from our NPS Annual Pass at Jamestown and Yorktown. Then it's off to DC for two weeks.

We've also sketched out the rest of our road trip route, all the way into September. I'll post details later.


Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Some good things happened today.

I got to sleep under the bed until it got dark outside. I like it under there. It's dark, low to the ground, and I can always tell when someone is coming. This doesn't mean that the humans can't drag me out--which is a subject for another discussion entirely--but at least I know they're coming. It gives me an opportunity to get as far away as I can, so they frequently bang themselves in the process of dragging me out.

This is always a bonus.

But today, nobody even tried to mess with me. It was just me and Jasper until the food ran out, and then the humans came right home and refilled everything. They're usually not so prompt.

I also got a good combing when I came out to see everyone. I like that too. It's nice to get that excess hair out of there without having to eat it. I usually pretend to eat it, anyway. It confuses the humans when I do that. But what do they expect when they roll it into a little fluffy ball that bounces across the room with the least little tap? It's fun.

The other good thing today: my curly ribbon made an appearance. I got to play with it until I got bored with chasing it around the bed. She even got distracted for a little bit and let me chew on it for a while. It's been in the bag with the catnip, so it smelled and tasted great.

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

Labels: ,

Rhymes with FAIL

We have not had the best luck with getting mail on this trip. Our friends back in California have been quite diligent about collecting and forwarding it, but the USPS has been about as effective and efficient as Inspector Clouseau's stoner cousin from Amsterdam.

So far, every Express Mail envelope--supposedly overnight service--has taken at least three days to arrive. Priority Mail, which is much cheaper, has shown up in about the same time, except for the one which got lost. That was the one which included our vehicle registration renewal from the DMV and three DVDs from Netflix. From now on, it's UPS or FedEx or some commercial delivery service we can actually depend on.

On the other hand, there are some things I would like the federal government to be responsible for. I don't think I have ever been more in favor of nationalized health care than I am right now.

After two months of shenanigans, we finally got the COBRA paperwork from D's former employer. The bad news? They want $700 a month to continue our health insurance. I'm not even kidding:

I'd like to point out that this plan used to cost $24 a month for the both of us. Either D's former employer was subsidizing a lot more of the premiums than we guessed,* or the insurance company is taking this opportunity to gouge its customers. I won't speculate.

Bottom line, we're not willing to pay that much for the privilege of later paying a high deductible if anything actually happens. We chose the high-deductible plan so we would pay lower monthly premiums. This is just obscene. And, clearly, it's also punishing anyone who dares escape their corporate shackles to pursue an independent career.**

Anyway. Now we're looking into less expensive alternatives for individual health insurance. (Being a Navy veteran, D can always go to the VA, but we'd like an alternative for those times when you don't feel like waiting several hours to see a doctor.) If you have ideas, we'd love to hear them.


* Note that there was no way for us to find out how much COBRA coverage would cost at the time we enrolled in our health insurance plan.

** Okay, maybe that metaphor is a bit excessive. I apologize. We've been visiting a lot of colonial sites and hearing about how human beings used to be bought and sold as property. Sadly, I don't think that particular urge has fully vacated our species.

Labels: , ,


Humans enjoy the weirdest things. The window in our current mini-house looks out over a "pool," which is basically a big bathtub that's always filled with water. And various humans, especially the small ones, go outside all day and jump into it and splash around!

I'll explore the tub in the bathroom every now and then, but only when it's not in use. (The residual water HAZ A FLAVR.) These humans outside actually submerge themselves in the pool water for hours at a time! I know--I've been watching them. Maybe it's different when your body's not covered in fur, but still. Wet! Uncomfortable! Inconvenient!

Labels: ,

Friday, June 20, 2008

Photos Galore: Grand Canyon

It hasn't quite been two months since we left Arizona, so I consider these "not too late:"

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Too

Most of these photos aren't captioned, but feel free to add your own comments. And any strange photos out of context are probably pieces of a panorama--keep going and you should see it. (For full-size, multi-mega-pixel panoramas, see the separate Grand Canyon Panoramas album.)

I'm not editing anything out of these albums right now; they're as much for backup purposes as anything else. After we finish our road trip, we'll spend some time making a scrapbook or something with our favorite snaps.


Labels: ,

OBX Recap

Some photos to go with D's "At the Beach" post:

We picked up a 500GB external drive last night, so I'll be uploading more photos tonight (if the flaky hotel wireless doesn't crap out too much) and then archiving them to clear up disk space on my laptop. Subscribe to my public gallery feed if you'd like to get automatic updates.


Labels: ,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

At the Beach

I've never been interested in a beach vacation. It's not that I have anything against the water. I love being near water. I just don't want to actually get into it. I also fear and dread the sun as only a fair-skinned person can. I'm sporting a sunburn right now. Finally, sand is just another word for dirt--nasty, gritty dirt that gets everywhere.

Given that, spending time in the Outer Banks in North Carolina might not seem like the best choice for me. But I had a great time. We got a great dose of history and fable on Roanoke Island, and then we spent an ocean day.

We looked at lighthouses. We even climbed the largest brick lighthouse in the world (257 steps*, not counting the eight you had to climb to get into the lighthouse itself). We wandered down boardwalk paths into marshlands where we saw many birds, butterflies, and a tick, but not the mosquitoes that bit CKL so many times.

We went for a walk on the beach, where I was briefly terrified for nearby swimmers at the sight of a big black fin cutting through the water. My Jaws moment ended when I realized that we were looking at three dolphins offshore. After that I was just thrilled. We watched the dolphins until they went away.

I had so much fun with the beach walk that I made CKL do it again as the sun went down. This time, I even braved the edges of the waves barefoot. There were tiny crablets everywhere, which prompted much screaming from a group of little girls. I just dodged. Those little dudes are quick.

All screaming and dodging crablets aside, it was a very satisfying walk. We didn't go in until it got so dark that I couldn't see the jellyfish any more. I wanted to go for another walk, but this time as the sun went up. I changed my mind once we learned that sunrise was at 5:46am. To get up that early, I need a really compelling reason. "It's fun" just won't cut it.

As luck would have it, however, Bayla woke me up at 5:20am. As the cat people among us know, a hairball is a pretty compelling reason to get up. There are two choices, really: clean it up when you hear the hairball happening, or step in it the next morning.

So I got to see the sun rise after all. It was just me, pink clouds, a guy playing with a stick on the beach**, two pelicans, several terns, a latecomer fisherman, wind and rushing, foaming waves. It was glorious.

But still way too early. I was back in bed by 6:02am.

* I was a little worried that I'd have trouble with the steps. Aside from two rest breaks due to vertigo--don't ask me why, but when I look overhead I often lose my ability to orient myself in space--I did just fine. You'd think that after I looked overhead the first time, I would have learned not to do it again, but I needed that particular lesson twice.

** This seems to be a pretty common thing. After I finished staring at the dolphins, I went looking for a stick so I could poke at interesting things on the beach. I couldn't find one, so I used a big piece of shell instead. I was bitterly jealous of the nearby small child with his shovel.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sixty Days and Counting

(with apologies to Kim Stanley Robinson)

Actually, it's been about sixty-two days since the start of our road trip, and we're still having a great time. We just finished our stay in the Outer Banks of North Carolina--photos coming soon!

Speaking of photos... I'm going to be uploading a huge backlog to PicasaWeb over the next few days, starting with our Grand Canyon panoramas. And from now on, I'm going to make a greater effort to stay on top of posting our new photos every day. If nothing else, it'll give me something to blog about.

Here's where we are now:

View Larger Map

Not everything is on that map; we also plan to wake up really freakin' early one day to drive out to Monticello. Stay tuned, sports fans!


Labels: ,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Code Purple

Yesterday, we drove through a big cloud of smoke on our way to the outer banks--at first, it was so large and diffuse, I thought it was just fog, but D could smell that it was wood burning. We also saw lots of "ozone alert" notices on the electronic freeway signs. (And two blocked tunnels, forcing us to take the long way around from Virginia into North Carolina, but that's another story.)

Today, D's got a headache from all the smoke, and I think I'm feeling it, too. Air quality around here is currently rated Code Purple, which apparently means "stay indoors if you know what's good for you." This area is the worst, but the smoke has spread out as far as New Jersey.

According to the news, this fire has been burning for two weeks now, and has destroyed over 40,000 acres of forest. And you thought California had the worst wildfires.



The Locals Call It "OBX"

We've only got three days here (including today, which is supposed to be Putter Day), so we probably won't make it to all these places. I suspect we'll skip waking up early in the morning to drive for hours and climb hundreds of stairs in the lighthouse.

View Larger Map

Dinner last night: We ate at the Kill Devil Grill, which is right across the street from our hotel. They look like a 1950s greasy spoon diner, but they make some great fish dishes (seared ahi) and desserts (key lime pie).


Labels: , ,

Friday, June 13, 2008


The human have been bad lately. Very, very bad!

First, they put nasty-smelling stuff on Bayla and me. It takes a LOT for a cat to think stomething smells bad, but this stuff stank. It was worse than lemons, oranges and mint mixed together, with a little taste of bug spray just to make things more awful.

Even worse, the humans put that reeking stuff on the backs of our necks! We couldn't reach it to clean it off. And it started to spread all over us almost immediately. I tried to rescue Bayla by licking it off. The taste was worse than the smell! I had to stop and spit it out. Then we both got washed all over with a wet towel. The smell went everywhere.

If that wasn't bad enough, they wasted all our time in this mini-house. There's nothing out the window except a parking lot. And there aren't even any cars in it! If there were cars, at least I'd get to see some new humans every now and then. I had to resort to watching Animal Planet.

The humans were gone forever each day and didn't even come back with any interesting smells! They smelled like the same dozen humans and four dogs every day. For days and days! I've smelled plenty of dogs since we've been on this trip. I don't need to smell any more.

Today, the humans were very very very bad. They let half a dozen of those other humans into our mini-house! And then they brought Bayla and me out from under the bed so those new humans could look at us. It was awful. I had to crawl under the blankets just so I could feel safe. Even when they came back, it was still scary. I crawled back under the blankets after we ate.

And then they let those humans into our mini-house again! At least I was under the blankets. I could pretend that the humans petting me were my own. It was pretty awful.

Bad humans! Bad!

Labels: ,

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

When we left on this trip, I was sure that no matter what else happened, we'd get plenty of sleep. After all, we're just wandering around the country, looking at interesting places, and doing whatever we like. And, trust me, CKL and I like sleep.

As with so many other things in life, however, this trip is all about choosing the highest priority. After making sure that the cats are okay, our highest priority is to see each place we visit. So I've been sleep-deprived for weeks.

This family reunion hasn't helped with that. It may be a relaxed visit, but we've got a long commute. While my brother did offer to let us stay with him, his dogs have been known to kill cats. Instead, we're staying in the closest hotel that has running water in the room and also accepts cats (things that were available in closer places, but not at the same time.)

This puts us an hour away from the family. We usually get back to the room well after midnight and to bed at least an hour after that. Last night, however, our need for clean clothes compelled us to be back at the hotel while the laundry room was still open. So I got to go to bed right after dinner.

This morning, I woke up a good hour before the alarm. I was happy, not cranky. I've even had time to play with the cats, review a script, and do some reading. I forgot how nice it was not to have to rush to get out the door.

Ben Franklin might have something there.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Incompetence of Strangers

As you know, Bob, D and I are not just doing a summer-long road trip with our cats; we are also living between homes at the moment. We moved out of our rented house in Mountain View, and won't find a new place in Portland until September.

Our friends Sean & Crissy and Cary generously volunteered to receive our mail while we're traveling. Cary is monitoring our Post Office Box, which gets everything we could redirect there; Sean & Crissy are receiving everything which required a street address. We also gave them pre-paid Priority Mail and Express Mail envelopes, so they could send any urgent correspondences to us.

Well, the two most important pieces of mail we expected were the COBRA paperwork from D's former employer, so we could continue our health insurance, and our new DMV vehicle registration stickers, which take effect in July. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, we haven't received either one yet. I blame myself for trusting that other people would actually do their jobs.

In fact, the DMV stuff did arrive at our PO Box a while ago, and Cary sent it out via Priority Mail the same day we arrived in Orlando. We had originally expected to be there for more than a week, and didn't think there would be any problems, since we had received a previous shipment from him at the hotel in New Orleans. But we should have known to expect some trouble, because the envelope he sent to New Orleans was Express Mail--supposedly overnight--and it took the USPS four days to deliver it.

Anyway. We didn't stay in Orlando as long as we had originally planned, because D's family reunion was rescheduled and relocated. (Don't get me started.) But Priority Mail doesn't guarantee delivery within a certain time, so we left a note with the front desk when we checked out telling them to watch for our mail and forward it to D's brother, since we will be here in Pennsylvania for a full week, and we can depend on him to forward mail even after that. (I know, I know, famous last words. Cross that bridge later.)

Again, we should have known to expect trouble when one of the Orlando hotel's staff--they all appeared to be college kids, probably from nearby UCF--lost the front desk keys during our stay and couldn't open the safe deposit box for another guest. When D called today to ask after our mail, they had misplaced our mail forwarding note, and knew nothing about our request.

Oh, I'm writing a letter of complaint to Marriott right after this. You betcha.

Finally, here is the pièce de résistance: D's last day of work at Abbott was March 27th. She started getting concerned when the end of May was approaching and we hadn't seen any of the COBRA stuff, because you only get sixty days after leaving the company to sort that out. She called on May 19th, and the HR call center (outsourced, of course) had no record of her. As in, they didn't know she was no longer an Abbott employee.

It turns out that her manager hadn't actually filed to indicate that one of his employees had left until May 16th--a Friday--and when D called the following Monday morning, HR hadn't even seen that paperwork yet. D called once a week after that, taking careful notes with the name of each CSR and the status updates (or lack thereof) they gave. Finally, this morning, three weeks later, they claimed to have just put her COBRA packet in the mail, and promised that we would have sixty days from the time they processed her, not her actual termination date.

So now we're waiting for the COBRA stuff, and to see if the mail to Orlando gets returned, or if someone just plain lost it (in which case the DMV and Netflix will get to share our misery). That's the other thing: after we got the prepaid envelopes for Sean & Crissy and Cary, the USPS raised their rates, so we had to get additional 20¢ and 25¢ stamps to make up the difference. Bastards.

We might give Express Mail one more try, since the original delay could have been a labeling issue (as in, we didn't provide the right one), but if the COBRA stuff shows up, Cary's sending it FedEx. No more of this government bullshit--we want tracking info and a goddamn delivery signature, so when the inevitable screw-up happens, we'll know exactly whom to blame.


Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 8, 2008

How We're Doing

We're actually doing very well at sticking to our revised budget of $242 a day. Even with our expensive fun in Orlando--the Space Shuttle launch transport tickets (LTT) were not cheap, but the experience was worth every penny--we're averaging $246.34 a day, just a few dollars in the red.

Tonight, we arrived in Altoona, Pennsylvania, at a Quality Inn hidden between an Army Reserve Center and a VA hospital. There were only two other cars in the parking lot when we pulled up to check in. While D was in the lobby, a shirtless bald man and a limping kid meandered past our car. I made sure the doors were locked.

It's a little bizarre, like we're in a ghost town or an unused studio backlot from the 1950s. As I write this, the VA's huge American flag--seriously, it is bigger than our car--is lit up by spotlights. Because regulations say you can't fly the stars and stripes at night without proper illumination. The POW/MIA flag beneath it also gets some splash.

The previous guest in this room left most of a six-pack of Coors Light in the refrigerator. Two of them are in the freezer, the bottoms of the cans bulging out because their carbonated contents have frozen and expanded. D wanted to throw them away, but I suggested we keep them around in case of a werewolf attack. She laughed. I enjoy being able to entertain my wife.


Labels: ,

Saturday, June 7, 2008

This diet is awful.

First there's not enough food. Then there's too much of it, and it's almost all bad.

Long before we started traveling from mini-house to mini-house, the humans were very troubled about my weight. Every week, I'd get put on the scale and she'd be upset about it. We went through a variety of unpleasant foods before settling on one I was willing to eat. She never gave us enough of it. Every morning, Jasper and I had to stand on the bed, calling her and tapping at her face until she finally got up to feed us.

We went through this every single morning. You'd think she would have learned, but that's humans for you.

Now that we're traveling, however, she gives us plenty of food. There's still not enough of the crunchy food, but more than enough of the mushy, strong-smelling meatlike substance.

Now, whenever I get weighed on the scale, she keeps putting me in front of the dish of meat-mush. For days afterward, she's constantly waking me up to bring me to the dish of mush. It's as if she doesn't believe that I can smell it. Humans may not have any sense of smell, but trust me; I can smell the meat-mush even after they've washed the dish and put the remains through the growler in the kitchen sink.

It's a strong smell. If I wanted to eat it, I'd go over to the dish on my own. But I didn't want it. I even decided to fast for a day. That was a bad idea. She completely overreacted and is feeding me a watery chicken pudding.

It's awful stuff. Jasper and I refused to eat it when she put it in the dish. Now I get fed like a human baby. I've been spitting it out like a human baby too.

Passive resistance is going nowhere, and I can't just ignore this behavior. I hate to resort to drastic measures again, but the humans are really slow. If she tries to feed me after tomorrow's weighing, I may just have to draw some blood.

Labels: ,

Birds and Butterflies

We're in an unplanned stop-over on the way to the Sole Family Reunion, which got moved from its original location at the last minute. When you consider that we only stopped in Charlotte because it was midway between Orlando and Altoona, it's surprising that we were able to find a dozen places we wanted to see with less than an hour's research.

CKL's first choice was the Carolina Raptor Center, so we spent several sweaty hours there today. It got so hot by 2pm that the flight show was canceled to keep the birds from overheating. CKL and I were quite drippy by the time we had walked by every one of the bird enclosures. Most of the birds we saw had permanently damaged wings or eyes, or both. Mostly caused by cars or guns. Damaged wing and blind in one eye or not, a bald eagle is still amazing. I got to stand just a few feet away and listen to it call. I was inspired to help, and "adopted" two of the smaller raptors, which means that I paid for 2-3 mice a day for each bird for a month.

My own first choice was the Butterfly Pavilion at the Charlotte Nature Museum, where, as CKL noted, we were singled out for special attention and got to see many bonus animals. My favorites were the American mink and the five-lined skinks roaming the butterfly enclosure, as well as a captive . The mink was as cute and playful as a kitten (even when gnawing on its frozen mice). While we were looking at the butterflies, we also watched a pair of lizards run around. Later, we saw the same lizard in captivity. He was labeled for handy identification, so we learned the name of some wild lizards. It was very educational.

Hmmm... When we each get to pick a place, we go for ones with animals. I wonder if CKL and I are taking this opportunity to relive our childhoods?


USA Everyday

Spotted outside the Penguin Drive-In yesterday:

I appreciate the sentiment, but I must deduct points for not including a satirical infographic. Or perhaps the artist merely feels (as many do, I'm sure) The Onion has already strip-mined that territory.


Labels: ,

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Couple of Suspicious Characters

Earlier today, D and I visited the Charlotte Nature Museum--mostly to see the Butterfly Pavilion, where we witnessed several new butterflies hatching out of their chrysalises! Very cool. We also got to see a bunch of bonus critters, including live owls, a mink, and baby mice.

But here's the weird thing. When we paid for our admission, the nice old lady at the front desk asked for our zip code. And then she asked D for her driver's license, and held it until we left the museum. I thought it was a bit strange, but didn't say anything at the time--hell, we'd already been fingerprinted at Universal Studios, and the license had our old address anyway.

We discussed it afterward, and the only thing we can think of is that the lady had been trained to be suspicious of two adults, by themselves, visiting what was clearly intended to be children's museum. And the only reason they would have been trained that way is if there had been some kind of incident, either at that museum or another in the area, in which children had run afoul of such evildoers.

The fact that we paid cash probably didn't help.

Anyway, it's a bit of a sad commentary on our times that people have to think about these things. But what do I know? It might have been something else entirely. Maybe the lady was taking night classes to become a bartender, and she wanted to see what a real California driver's license looked like. Maybe the locals just don't like us blue-staters. It could be anything!




The new places have been hot lately. I can tell by the windows. If the windows are hot, even when the sun isn't shining, it's a hot place! Atlanta, Orlando and Charlotte are all hot places.

Atlanta and here (Charlotte) have animals to look at. Orlando is wet, so the humans were damp and especially fragrant. They would come into the mini-house, strip off all their clothes and leave them in a pile. Bayla and I would come and roll in the pile later, so we could soak up the interesting smells!

I hoped that the humans would see animals in Orlando too, but they just rolled in grasses and were around lots of other humans. No animals there, I guess, unless you count the noisy dogs at the hotel!

The grass smell made me wish they would bring me grass for eating, like they used to. And they got some for me here! It didn't come with its own pot, but I don't mind eating grass while they hold it for me.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 2, 2008

Three Easy Steps to Lose 50lbs in One Week

Ask me how! Even better, I'll just tell you:
  1. Weigh yourself at a crappy hotel scale in Atlanta. I did it. I weighed 185lbs.
  2. Drive to Orlando.
  3. Weigh yourself on a crappy hotel scale in Orlando. I did it. I weighed 132lbs. Voila! A weight loss of 53lbs!
The best part? No special diet or exercise required. AND you don't need to buy new clothes or anything!


Overheard at Lunch


The waiter, WES, walks up to the table where CKL and D are seated. If Wes isn't a roadie or in a garage band, he's sure got the look down: tattoos, do-rag, sideburns.

How're you guys doing today?

Good! How are you?

I'm excellent. Living the dream.

You've always dreamed of being a waiter?

Wes stares at her for a moment, then looks over to CKL.

We got a smart-aleck here?

He wasn't actually offended; that exchange turned out to be a great conversation starter. We found out that waiting tables is just his day job, he does "music stuff," he cooks at home for his girlfriend, and he just got the air conditioning in his car fixed. He even drew us a little cartoon at the end of our meal:

(Screenplay format done as practice for my submission to the FOX-NYTVF Comedy Script Contest. For more on that, see CKL's HotSheet in a few days.)