Sunday, April 29, 2007

Digging in the dirt

"Digging in the dirt" is the title of one of my favorite Peter Gabriel songs, and also what I spent most of my weekend doing. I spent several hours on Saturday weeding - mostly wayward monkey grass. Anything with "monkey" in its name is bound to give you trouble... it doesn't stay where it belongs, and is nearly impossible to completely remove once it escapes. I also found out the hard way that using my left index finger as a brace for prying out deep-rooted weeds with a garden tool was a bad idea. Very effective, but by the end of the day my finger was swollen and a little numb.

Today was more fun. With the tedious chores over with, it was time to plant. A quick trip to the nursery was a success for the herb garden. Last week they didn't have anything I wanted, but this week the selection was much better. A little too good, in fact. I made a few impulse buys of some unusual varieties of mint and planted them all together in a large pot (mint is highly invasive, so confining it to a container is a good idea). The rest of the herbs were going to have to fit into the herb garden somehow.


Since I got a few more herbs than I originally planned, I had to enlarge our herb garden before I could get started. I can see how this will play out: every year I will get too much to fit the existing boundaries and will have to make the herb bed larger. In a few years, there won't be any grass to cut on that side of the house! (Hmmm, that's not such a bad plan.) I still need to get mulch for the expansion, but the herb garden is done. Since herbs are food, it means this area is exempt from Georgia's watering restrictions (currently three days a week from midnight until 10am only). Hooray! In the photo above, the latest expansion is the part without any mulch. And the large plants in the back of the bed are some amaryllis (NOT an herb) that were there when we bought the house. Now I have to figure out what to do with the three pepper plants I got. They'll require yet another expansion of the herb garden, or I can keep them in pots.

I also bought some catnip to plant for Zima and Moxy. It hadn't been out of the car for ten minutes when Zima found it, knocked it over, rubbed all over it, ate a few leaves, and got extremely stoned. I'm sure she will have hours of blissful fun, provided she doesn't literally enjoy the poor plant to death. The photos below show her first encounter with it after I planted it in the flower bed. I went back out there later and she still had her face stuck in it. I just hope all the other neighborhood cats don't discover it. I'd hate for my front yard to be the local opium den for felines.





But now I've gotta go - PDM just pulled some barbecue ribs out of the oven that have been slow-cooking all afternoon and I'm in danger of drooling all over the keyboard.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday CatBlogging


Zima, basking in the blue glow of the TV. Perfect spot for a belly rub...

Happy Friday, y'all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Worlds and Giant Fungi

A prehistoric mystery fossil has finally been identified as being a 20 foot tall fungus. Originally thought to be a conifer, the carbon diversity of the fossil was too great for it to have been a plant. (Fungi are between plant and animal life in terms of complexity.) The fossil fungus was a variety that became extinct around 350 million years ago. Apparently, before animal life took over the planet, fungi used to rule the world. The tallest trees were only about a meter high, while towering fungi were commonplace. It would be eons before animal life grew large enough to trample the fungi into more manageable sizes. A planet full of giant fungi and miniature trees would be interesting to see. And maybe one day we will see something like that, perhaps on a world such as the one described below.

In other news, a habitable planet was found outside our solar system, orbiting a red dwarf. It is a bit larger than earth and has a very short orbital period, but its temperature range would support liquid water. No word on rotation or the presence of an atmosphere. It orbits a red dwarf star, which is larger and less bright than our own sun. Wouldn't it be cool if we ever got to colonize a new planet, and it turned out to harbor life in its prehistoric stages, with giant 20 foot fungi all over the place? Like being an alien world wouldn't be strange enough. Giant fungi! That would really be something.

The nifty illustration is a scanned image of the cover of my 1978 Avon edition of Omnivore. I would credit the artist, but the book doesn't name names.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Scientists Discover Kryptonite.

Yes, really. Scientists recently found a new crystalline material that has the same chemical formula as kryptonite: sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide.

The kryptonite, or 'jadarite' as they prefer to call it, was discovered in Serbia. Only it isn't green or radioactive, doesn't contain fluorine, and doesn't glow. What a letdown.

The scientists describe it as a white, powdery substance. Maybe it's white kryptonite. If so, Superman has nothing to fear, but the plants of Serbia are in big trouble.

Disclaimer: The picture of the green crystal may look pretty, but it is an emerald - NOT kryptonite, or jadarite!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

WatchCat


We'll be out of state this weekend for a funeral. Moxy promises to watch the house (and pester Zima) while we're gone. We will see some family we haven't seen in a while. Too bad it is under these circumstances, but that is the way of things - you tend to see distant relatives at weddings and funerals.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

5,000 steps

I finally motivated myself to walk again this evening and wore my spiffy little ped-o-meter (a freebie from my employer). I kept it on afterward as I wandered around the yard doing random gardening chores. Took it off and I had traveled exactly 5,000 steps. No more, no less. Cool. That's what? 100 calories. Hmm, doesn't seem that great when you look at it that way...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Which one is flatter?

A pancake, or my boobs during today's mammogram? Hmmm. That's a tough one. Are the pancakes fluffy?

Then there was this strange incident in the parking garage on my way out. I knew that the parking fee would be $2, and the smallest bill I had was a $20. So I decided to get rid of some of the loose change I had been carrying around. I gave the parking attendant four quarters and ten dimes. He gave me a withering look as if I had just handed him a fistful of dog turds. "What is this?" he spat, in a haughty tone reminiscent of a snooty waiter. Then he just sort of threw the change into the register without bothering to count it. As if dealing with coins was somehow beneath him (or maybe he doesn't know how to count American currency). He's a parking lot attendant, for cryin' out loud. Bizarre. Do you think he would have been more or less pissy if I had given him some of those spiffy new dollar coins?

The good news is that my boobs did spring back to their normal shape, they didn't find anything alarming in the images, and I don't have to do it again until the next time my doctor starts badgering me about it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Thinking Blogger Awards



Beth made my day today by giving Cosmic Cat a 'Thinking Blogger Award'.

Says Beth: This is another blogger who is just witty, but her wit isn't what I love best about her blog. Strangely enough, it's her photographs of cats. I hate to admit it, but I'm not a big cat lover. I'm a dog person and haven't seen any pictures of felines that ever made me stop to study them. Hers do. If she never has a coffee table book of her cat photos, it'll be a crying shame. Even if you don't love cats, check out these amazing photographs of hers. In them, perhaps for the first time, you'll see the personality and soul of her subjects -- her own cats.

Thanks, Beth! In spite of the blog's title (which I came up with while drinking copious amounts of wine one summer evening), I try to limit the cat stuff, because the blog isn't really about cats. I'm not sure what the blog's supposed to be, to be honest. It is part creative outlet, part social activity, and part therapy for the writer. But I do hope that I can write in a way that keeps great people coming around. Even if I have to bribe them with the occasional cat photo.

Before I spread the love, here are the rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme, and
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

I only get to pick five, but if you are in my "linky goodness" list and I visit you a lot, then you all deserve the award. Except Stellar, who never posts anything new. But since I have to choose... Here are five blogs that make me think (and sometimes laugh hysterically):

1. Random Squeegee - This was the first blog I started reading that wasn't written by a total stranger. John, or 'generic_screenname' as I knew him back then, linked to his freshly-minted blog from the message board that a lot of us used to frequent back in the good old days several years ago. He is one of the most creative story-tellers on the net (the other would be trinamick, who has already won one of these). My only complaint is that he isn't posting very often, but I can't fault him for having a life...

2. Kat's Musings and Meanderings - Kat was the first blogger I discovered through my friends' links who wasn't part of the old message board crowd. I quickly became hooked, and especially enjoy her thoughts on books and movies. Her personal stories are also highly entertaining.

3. Rather Than Working - Dave is another Atlanta resident who somehow wandered into Cosmic Cat one day and is now a regular commenter. He's got an interesting blog. Insightful posts about current issues are woven in with humor and posts highlighting other very high quality blogs that I probably would never have found on my own. His posts tend to be accompanied by thoughtful comments from his regulars. It definitely qualifies as a 'thinking blog' without being dry and stuffy. Who knew a lawyer could be so likable? ;-)

4. Pole Hill Sanitarium - One of my favorite things about this blog is that I never know what I'm going to find, but it is always something good. Current events and politics are frequent topics, with plenty of supporting links. Then there are the humorous posts, and lots of biographical entries. Great stuff!

5. The Velvet Blog - I'm going to finish up with a blogger who knows how to make people laugh, and sometimes think at the same time. Think Jon Stewart. Pithy, witty posts with plenty of visuals for your amusement. Mix in some vintage 1950s video clips from YouTube, posts about obscure music acts you've probably never heard of but should have, and a regular guest Sock Monkey, and you've got more than enough reason to go get some Velvet every day.

Now... just for Beth: A photo of Zima and me (well, part of me is in the picture).

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A good day for wind chimes


It is a good day for wind chimes. A gloomy morning has morphed into an unsettled gray, windy day. The music from the chimes is a constant reminder of the restless wind, bringing a change in the weather. The temperature is in the mid-forties and dropping steadily. All in all, it has been a good day to be warm and cozy inside, with some hot tea on the counter next to my laptop and a cat in my lap. It was a pleasure letting the rain lull me to sleep last night. Bright, sunny days are nice, but sometimes it is good to have the patter of quiet rain, dark overcast skies, and hours of wind chime song.

Friday, April 13, 2007

It's Friday The 13th...

...so don't trip over the black cat crossing your path as you step on a crack, walking under a ladder while breaking a mirror which causes you to spill some salt and kill a ladybug.

Cat Barf - The Aftermath

Surprisingly, we plugged the newly-dried stereo in and hooked everything up and it works just like nothing ever happened to it. Cool.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, brilliant author and satirist, died yesterday at age 84.
His works were heavily influenced by his humanist views and experience as a prisoner of war during WWII. If you haven't read Cat's Cradle or Slaughterhouse-Five, you should. If you are an engineer, Player Piano is a 'must read'. All of Vonnegut's novels will make you think, even as you laugh at the black comedy and sometimes cringe at the scathing satire. Good stuff, from a man with a life well lived.

I think it is time for me to read some Vonnegut again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What happens when your cat barfs on your stereo receiver?

Absolutely nothing. And that's a problem.

The top of the receiver is covered with vent slots and is a favorite basking spot for Zima, because it gets toasty warm and she likes good tunes. Too bad she didn't hop down before she horked up a hairball sometime today. It dripped right through those vent holes onto the circuit board below, soaking the electronics. Crap.

Said receiver is now cleaned (as best we could), vacuumed to remove a mountain of cat fur, and resting (sans cover) in a closed room to dry. Maybe it'll work again... I don't have high hopes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wilfing?

Apparently, lots of lost productivity at work can be blamed on something called "wilfing", short for "what was I looking for?" Aside: Shouldn't this be called "wwilfing"? This is a web surfing phenomenon where a worker supposedly gets distracted by the information overload available on the internet and begins aimlessly surfing. A study claims that two thirds of british web users spend large amounts of time wilfing at work. My initial thought was "Only two thirds? What's wrong with that third guy?" Ironically, I ran across this article while wilfing at work.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Kat's book survey


Saw this over at Kat's blog and decided to play along.


Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?
I prefer hardback or trade, unless cost or availability is an issue.

Amazon or brick and mortar? Either.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Oh, is there a difference?

Bookmark or dogear? I’m a reformed dogearer. Now I use bookmarks (or the dust cover, in a pinch).

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random? I’ve grouped our books loosely by subject, and within those groupings I tend to place books of similar size together so they look nice on the shelf. We have a bookshelf covering an entire wall in the living room, so having the books grouped by subject makes it much easier to find the one you’re looking for.

Keep, throw away, or sell? Mostly keep. I would NEVER throw away a book, unless it was hopelessly damaged. If I no longer want a book, I will sell or give away.

Keep dustjacket or toss it? Keep it.

Read with dustjacket or remove it? Sometimes I remove the dust cover when reading, especially when I travel with a book. Usually I leave it on and try to be careful with it.

Short story or novel? I read both, but spend far more time reading novels than stories. Even though I’ve read novels in many genres, the only short stories I ever read are science fiction.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? Either way can be enjoyable.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I have never read a single novel in either series. I have a copy of the first Harry Potter and am sure I will read it eventually, but I got turned off by all the hype and it made me not want to read it way back when (or now).

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? I quit reading at whatever page I happen to land on when I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”? I can’t remember ever reading any book that opened with either of those clich├ęs.

Buy or Borrow? Buy. I used to read a lot of library books, but that was back when I lived in a town with a pretty good local library. It was decently well stocked, and was in a old building that had been restored, so it was a nice place to hang out.

New or used? I usually buy new books, but still like rambling through used book stores or the book sections of thrift stores. There are lots of good reasons to buy used: less expensive, out of print, rare book, or you find something great just by chance.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? Recommendations (from friends or other sources) and browsing. I don’t put much stock in reviews.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger? I want a good ending that is satisfying. This could include either of these options, but must fit the rest of the book or series.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading? I read before bed almost every night.

Stand-alone or series? Both.

Favorite series? Asimov’s Robot novels, CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner series, White’s King Arthur books, Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, Kage Baker’s Company novels, Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, Anthony’s Apprentice Adept series, Dan Simmons’ Hyperion and Endymion novels, Herbert’s Dune books, and Brin’s Uplift novels.

Favorite children's book? My Chronicles of Narnia boxed set. I read them so many times they are in tatters, but I still have them.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? Mama Makes Up Her Mind (and Other Dangers of Southern Living) is a book I found in a used bookstore on vacation and picked up on a whim. It is folksy, hilarious fun! Sort of like a Fannie Flagg novel, only with real characters and stories. And this proves I do read a few books that aren't science fiction...
Cover Image

Favorite books read last year? Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days; The Machine’s Child, Spin, Anansi Boys, Accelerando
Cover Image Cover Image Cover Image Cover Image Cover Image

Favorite books of all time? Watership Down, Gone With The Wind, The Chronicles of Narnia, Doomsday Book
Cover Image Cover Image Cover Image Cover Image

Least favorite book you finished last year? I’m not sure I got all the way through it, but it was Moving Mars by Greg Bear.
Cover Image

What are you reading right now? Psychoshop by Alfred Bester and Roger Zelazny
Cover Image

What are you reading next? Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds
Cover Image

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Odd Eyes



Zima is an odd eyed cat. No doubt about it from this picture.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Some days it feels like you're going in circles.


Another day of same ol' same old at work. Just treading water. Didn't get anywhere. Unsatisfying. But it certainly beats what most of our patients are going through. You can't lose sight of that.



I miss my camera. I took this photo about a week before I dropped and busted it back in February.

Monday, April 02, 2007

April 2

Seems a little foggy in here today, with some sort of strange pink afterglow. Just to clear things up...

GOOD STUFF:

Science fiction. Especially Farscape. But also Battlestar, Heroes, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Eureka, B5, Dune, Red Dwarf, etc.
Books.
Geeks.
Tech.
Wireless internet.
Software not developed by Microsquishy.
True colors.
Gardening.
Toyotas (especially the ones you keep 13 years).
Freedom, even on a Sunday.
Cats.
Chili peppers (capsaicin in any form, added to good food to make it that much better).
Wine. On any day of the week.
Geeky links.
Being able to vote for someone different in 2008.
Silly non-holidays.
People who take the time to read this blog and comment.
Added by popular demand: Beer! (But only good beer, not Bud.)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

March 32

I just wanted to say that I hate science fiction of any kind. Especially Farscape. But also Battlestar, Heroes, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Eureka, B5, Dune, Red Dwarf, etc. If it has a bumpy-headed alien or a spaceship in it, it automatically sucks. What we need more of is TV shows like American Idol. And we don't need books at all, or the geeks who read them. Geeks suck. So do nerds and dweebs and dorks.

My favorite college is UGA. Bulldawgs are the cutest mascot ever, especially when they slobber and drool. But I don't like to watch any college sports. How boring!

I miss my dialup connection. My hero is Bill Gates. Windows rocks!!

Black is white. White is purple. Hot pink is the new black.

Gardening sucks, because of the sweat and bugs and stuff.

I hate Toyotas. All four of the ones I owned just got all old and everything.

People who drink alcohol on Sundays are causing the downfall of our civilization.

Cats are all aloof, prissy bird killers and make terrible pets.

People who put lots of spicy ingredients in their food must be hiding how awful it tastes. Clearly, chili peppers and hot sauces are just a crutch for bad cooks.

Wine is for snobs. Especially when consumed on a Sunday.

People who fill their blog posts with
geeky links are total zeros.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. GWB is doing a "heck of a job." He may be the bestest president ever!

SLOOF LIRPA, y'all. I'll be back to normal tomorrow. Or will I?!? Bwah hah hah...