1 August 2011

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fleas, ticks, and heartworm day, part 3

Andy must have told Dougy a story because Dougy definitely wasn’t as easy to corner as I thought he’d be!

I took a mug over to the kitchen sink, then doubled back to the spot where I give the boys their Greenies treats. Dougy’d stopped by there moments before I went to the kitchen, but finished the Greenies Andy left before I doubled back.

I sat down on a chair by the table, gave a little thought to a new development. Dougy, when he saw me come back, hopped on a section of cottonwood branch the boys like to perch on. It’s only two or three inches high, but it seems to meet some cat perch specification because the boys “argue” about which cat gets it every chance they can.

Had Dougy eaten too many Greenies to be lulled into my flea, tick, and heartworm treatment plot? Andy tends to eat all the treats if Dougy doesn’t come over for his share fast enough, the treats are that tasty! Dougy sat on the cottonwood perch and eyed me warily.

“You want some more Greenies, Dougy?” I asked. I shaked the bag, the way I let the boys know I’m about to put out treats. With their cat-sharp hearing, they come running from anywhere in the apartment when I shake the bag. Andy came back to just outside his safety zone in case he needed to run from me. No trusting me today! Not after that indignity!

Dougy sat there, immobile with indecision. He noticed Andy’s nervousness. I think he snooped at the trash where the discarded treatment tube used on his brother was, too, and his cat-sniffer recognized the unwelcome scent. As noted in part 1, cats are not stupid!

Little by little, enticement by enticement, I thought Dougy was about to get down on the floor to eat more treats. Then he curled up on the perch.

I thought about it. At worse, I’d miss the opportunity by moving toward Dougy too fast or by under-estimating how securely I could hold him down by the nape of his neck when he wasn’t stretched out straight. At best, though, I could surprise Dougy, secure him by the nape of his neck, and squeeze the treatment between his shoulder blades without incident!

Whew! A rush of adrenalin took me to Dougy’s safe spot (he thought). I grabbed the loose skin of the nape of his neck, squirted the treatment out so fast he didn’t have a chance to protest, and like a rodeo cowboy tying off three legs of a calf in the calf roping event, I tossed up my arms to show I’d completed the task! WOOHOO! I set a new record!

This was the best fleas, ticks, and heartworm day ever. I’m glad I watched how their veterinarian secured Andy the last I took him in. I used his technique today with great success! I mean, if a veterinarian wants to have good control of a kitty any time more than any other, it has to be when he takes the cat’s temperature! (You do know how they do that, don’t you?!)

fleas, ticks, and heartworm day, part 2

Andy’s a Greenies cat treat kitty. His expectation is I’ll bring out the treats around 8:00 am or so, which, per expectation, I did.

There was little Andy, head bowed over his kitty treats…

So I grabbed him by the nape of the neck, pushed his head down to the floor, and squirted the flea, tick, and heartworm treatment between his shoulder blades! It happened so fast, even I couldn’t believe the worst part of the month, giving Andy his treatment, is over for this month! DONE! WOOHOO!

Andy gave me a wounded look, and ran off. Usually, Andy’s the blinky-eye cat of the two. We give each other blinky-eyes, and he relaxes in the knowledge he is loved and safe.

But not today! Every time he sees me the rest of the day, I am sure he’ll be wary, even at supper time. Even when I refill the crunchies bowls for leisurely snacks. Even when I offer to rub between his eyes, the old nose rub he loves!

A short time later, Dougy walked by me, unaware of what Andy’d endured. He’s next. I just have to find him relaxed and ignorant of my plan for him. He’s on the cat lounger by the back door now. This might be my chance!

Oops! He must have read my thoughts. He just ran into the kitchen.

Dougy? Where are you. I have something for you!

fleas, ticks, and heartworm day, part 1

Today is the day I need to round up Andy and Dougy for the monthly hell of squirting a few drops of flea, tick, and heartworm treatment between their shoulder blades. It’s never pretty.

Though it is great fun to have two brothers that play well together, cats that quickly evaluate events they feel will result in wetness or travel in a carrier aren’t fun at all.

Cats aren’t idiots. If they sense wetness or travel in a carrier, they find the farthest, least accessible spot under the heaviest piece of furniture in the darkest part of the apartment to hide. I’m not getting any younger…

TACO could infect my cats with diseases they, as inside cats, otherwise aren't exposed to. He's one reason my boys are inside cats.

TACO could infect my cats with diseases they, as inside cats, otherwise aren’t exposed to. He’s one reason my boys are inside cats.

Andy is particularly clever. If I catch him first, I usually finish the task at hand with the least pain to cats or me. Even then, I have to pin him down, wrap him up, or endure nine and a half pounds of mad, frightened cat…with claws! I handle pain well, and heal fast, though I’d rather skip the blood and scars over application of a few wet drops of flea, tick, and heartworm treatment.

Dougy’s main character flaw is likeability with trust. He’s so cute when he tries to avoid something he doesn’t like because he’s not too good at it. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t manage to make flea, tick, and heartworm day miserable for us both if he can. And he can!

Dougy’s physically bigger than his brother by three-quarters pound or so. He can handle me if it means not getting his treatment. He’s surprisingly fast, but I’ve learned I need to close as many doors as possible before I begin. Of course, once I start closing doors…!

Yeah, the boys figure something they won’t like is afoot, and Andy hides immediately! Dougy’s strategy is a zig-zag gallop of escape and evasion through the clutter of our home. I’m not fast, so I’ve learned which places both boys like to hide as my strategy to get through flea, tick, and heartworm day.


[Remember this video? TACO looks a lot rougher since the time three years ago he and Louie, above, had their first tête-à-tête encounter.]

I eventually get the job done, but always wonder if flea, tick, and heartworm day is necessary. The treatment is pricey. The boys are inside cats. Heartworm isn’t common where I live, and, according to their veterinarian, cats with it typically are cats brought here from other states, not local cats. I am unaware of fleas or ticks in my neighborhood.

I apply the hated drops anyway. Like health insurance for me, it isn’t necessary when I feel well, but invaluable when the risk of illness threatens or becomes a fact. I’d rather put up with the boys’ resistance now than deal with sick or afflicted cats later.

Henry Ford turns 150 years today!

Henry Ford was born 150 years ago today. Though he had some extreme and vile beliefs (he was a well-known anti-Semite), he arguably created our modern world, with its paved roads and hundreds of millions of cars, suburbia, streamlined manufacturing methodologies, and high standard of living, though the later seems to be tanking in America.

I’ve never been able to re-locate this quote, but think I must have read it in a book about Ford in the 1980s: “If you need a machine and don’t buy it, you pay for it anyway.”

Henry Ford said that, or something along that line. The wisdom of that is, you get what you pay for. If you need a particular tool to manufacture a part and “go cheap”, use another tool that is worn, less precise and accurate or less durable, or just not the right tool for the job, the output of the tool reflects its limitations. You make crap!

It seems self-evident, yet managers often put off purchase of appropriate tools thinking they save money. If nothing else, they sell off their futures by institutionalizing production of inadequate product – out-of-specification, poorly machined, less durable, unfit for use… the list of potential, sometimes harmful deficiencies goes on.

Customers are the final judge of quality, and they pick up on the impact of manufacturing shortcuts, for example, when a tool breaks faster than expected or it has a flawed finish, even if finish doesn’t affect product use! If a happy customer tells ten friends about his purchase, an unhappy customer tells 20 about the crap he bought that was a waste of money.

Henry Ford understood that. And he understood, too, that manufacturing efficiencies achieved by purchasing and using the tool needed saved money, raw materials, time, labor, and reputation for his company. It was a win-win for Ford, his employees, and his customers!

Another innovation of Henry Ford’s was something the McDonald’s and Wendy’s of our time might consider when their employees strike for a living wage: Ford’s revolutionary $5 day wage at a time other manufacturers were paying half that.

His rationale was that there was no point to make thousands of Model T’s if only a few people could afford them. He wanted his employees to earn enough that they could afford the product they helped make. He made wads of money paying $2.50 a day, but he made much more and sold millions of cars after he initiated the $5 day. Among other things, at $5 a day, he had unlimited access to the best labor coming over from his competitors and other employers: Everyone wanted to work for Ford!

With the higher wages, Ford added expectations: His employees had to attend church each week, they couldn’t drink or smoke or blaspheme, they had to lead exemplary lives. Um, yeah! And he hired goons to check up on his employees to make sure they lived up to his expectations! His efforts at social engineering had serious limitations that lead to labor unrest in time, regardless of the $5 day wage.

I never joined a union. I never wanted a union in the place where I worked. I understood, however, how unbridled managers following their worst instincts regularly set the stage for unions. Unions initially help the working person to better benefits and wages. They also lead, sometimes, to a union bureaucracy that too often uses thuggery and dirty deeds on par with those used against labor by the company management they hope to rein in.

Labor history bears that out.

Management gets the labor they deserve, however. Treat people right, and they generally give a good day’s work. Abuse them, and they often fight back, sabotage quality, slow down production, take over manufacturing plants to stop production. Henry Ford and the other car manufacturers found that out big time in the late 1930s. Bad, abusive management invites unions in the front door.

Henry Ford got a lot right. He got a lot not so right. He remains one of those flawed heroes of American history. We can’t condone his anti-Semitism or his bullyboy thuggery when it came to controlling his employees (and son, Edsel), but we applaud the improvements he brought to manufacturing. They helped make the 20th Century the American century.

Ugh! Try to make sense of it!

chart that stole christmas copy

I tried to figure out how I could afford insurance and have enough money for food, clothes, rent, and other expenses in 2010, my worst year and the year I created this chart. I wanted to help those used to something from me (even a card) on Christmas to understand my finances were in crisis, thanks to health insurance that nearly cost half my income per month, and that that’s why Christmas was thin that year! This chart made it clear, instantly, that I couldn’t afford healthcare in the United States of America.

Median_US_household_income

The median US household income took a nose dive after the recession. I filled a spot below that median income as a retiree. Way below! That year, 2010, I didn’t observe Christmas; I didn’t feel like it, I couldn’t afford it at any rate. I was not unique in the United States of America.

The US Congress during this time – what’s the technical term?? – “f’ed” America with their political agenda to make sure Barack Obama would be a one term president. You know how that turned out. Congress, however, still acts like it didn’t get the news about the election of 2012. I call that denial the “Rove Effect”.

There is an inscription, you know, carved in stone, above the Nebraska State Capitol main entrance:

"The Salvation of the State is Watchfulness in the Citizen" ~ Hey, it's carved in stone!

“The Salvation of the State is Watchfulness in the Citizen” ~ Hey, it’s carved in stone!

As a person impacted heavily by the jokers in Washington, I take those words seriously. I write those people representing me in Congress. I support candidates with votes and what small sum of money I can afford. I keep up with the news. Yet I don’t feel anything makes a difference when I see the circus in Washington sees obstructionism as their legacy, damn meals for seniors and children, damn affordable healthcare for all Americans, damn investment in education and infrastructure (i.e. the future!), damn blue state Hurricane Sandy victims while holding out a hand for the Federal funds when your red state suffers a calamity, damn everyone but themselves apparently. They stick to their guns, too, but that’s another rant.

I say “apparently” because they have automatic pay increases unless they vote against it. That way they can “honestly” tell you and me, “I didn’t vote for a pay increase”! No wonder I feel cynical about government in this country, though I hold out in favor of it on the chance time will end the horror of a Congress run amok.

While millions of Americans suffer along, guess who’s seen a nice increase in their salaries? The President? No, the President’s salary in 2002 was $400,000, and it still is $400,000.

Oh! Oh! Nice chunk of cash for doing damn little good...

Oh! Oh! Nice chunk of cash for doing damn little good…

I haven’t even touched this topic. Even the broadest of looks at it doesn’t make much sense. Looking at it too closely probably would just make me sick. Ugh! Try to make sense of it!

A lovely spring day!

The predicted high for today is 74 degrees F [23 degrees C]. The sky is overcast, and rain is in the works for tonight. On this July 28th, typically a time in the middle of the hottest part of the year where I live, we are having something like a lovely spring day! 

Andy’s sprawled on his back by my desk, a typical business for this little cat. On one hand, he’s very trusting to expose his tummy to the fellow (me) notorious for the “got-yer-tummy!” game. On the other hand, he’s positioned directly under a ceiling fan. Must feel good, even though it isn’t hot! 

Not  sweating today! That's the midday temperature at top.

Not sweating today! That’s the midday temperature at top.

Dougy’s nowhere to be seen, but I know what he’s up to. It’s midday, nearly so, so the cat brothers are having themselves a midday nap. 

I’m tempted to join them on this lovely spring-like day!

=(^-^)= =(^-^)= =(^-^)= =(^-^)= =(^-^)= =(^-^)= =(^-^)= =(^-^)=

I spoke too soon. Dougy just came over to Andy and patted him on the tummy. Andy bounded up, assuming the stance of a serious predator, all four paws on the ground, tail fluffed out and raised high! Dougy got the reaction he wanted! Dougy found something else to amuse himself, now that he’d ruined his brother’s nap.

Andy slipped off for a midday snack of cat crunchies, not to be confused with the mid-morning Greenies break. Dougy’s looking for more trouble to get into.

So much for the midday nap!

 

 

 

 

 

cat lounger update

The other day, I told you about a gift I purchased for my Seattle cat-nephew, Sox the tuxedo cat, and predicted it would become one of his favorite things, much as this item became for my boys, Andy and Dougy the Persian cats.

Sox must wait...! Awwww!

“Sox must wait…! Awwww!

My Seattle sister sent me an e-mail to let me know Sox’ gift cat lounger arrived on the 26th. She writes:

The cat lounger came today while we were picking up K. [her next to youngest grandchild] at camp. Luckily, C. [her oldest grandchild] was still home and put it inside. Sox went to it right away and cleaned himself on it. I think I will have to put it away until B. [her youngest grandchild, who is still a little guy] goes home though as he will think it is for him to climb on. B. was sleeping when I unpacked it, so hasn’t seen it yet.

Cat-cousin Sox, a real fox!

Cat-cousin Sox, a real fox!

Cat-cousin Sox if he doesn't get his lounger soon!

Cat-cousin Sox if he doesn’t get his lounger soon!

I mean, I've dealt with cat tantrums before, and it can get ugly!

I mean, I’ve dealt with cat tantrums before, and it can get ugly!

I hope my Seattle sister has some nice catnip handy just in case my cat-cousin Sox gets impatient!

I hope my Seattle sister has some nice catnip handy just in case my cat-cousin Sox gets impatient!

Shinji Kasahara, victim of the dreaded peace sign!

You learned elsewhere that I was a US Army Motion Picture Photographer in the early 1970s, stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

In that job, I travelled to many places in Europe to film NATO exercises, missile firings, joint German-American Volksfests, “hometowners” (short films of individual soldiers doing their army job, that got sent to a television station in or near their hometown), and miscellaneous “stuff”.

These films my teammates and I made we shipped to an army facility in Alabama to be processed, which sent a print to the Pentagon to be critiqued. The print of the films and the Pentagon critiques came back in a few weeks to the 69th Signal Co. (Photo), my home company, for us to view and learn where we did well or needed improvement. Arrival of the critique prints was a great lot of fun!

We had general rules of what not to show in our films. No one drinking alcohol (unless at a Volksfest!), chewing gum, or smoking. No horseplay. Nothing that reflected poorly on the US Army, such as out-of-uniform soldiers. (We were, in a sense, making propaganda films for the US Army, of course.) AND, the biggest bugaboo: NO ONE FLIPPING THE PEACE SIGN! This was the Vietnam War era.

Watching Shinji Kasahara’s latest video, a 29 minute visit to Seattle, with lots of his cats edited in (his main video output is wonderful cat videos), I had a flashback:

Scene from Shinji Kasahara's Seattle visit video: On the streets of Seattle.

Scene from Shinji Kasahara’s Seattle visit video: On the streets of Seattle.

Watch the woman coming up from behind!

"You cow! You just ruined the shot!"

“You cow! You just ruined the shot!”

I couldn’t believe the woman flashed the peace sign! In my army days, that snippet of action would ruin a scene, necessitating reshooting it or making sure the caption notes we enclosed with the undeveloped film included reference to the unplanned peace sign in scene such-and-such! Not to note the peace sign got a bad review. To cover for the peace sign meant extra time CYA-ing oneself in the paperwork so the Pentagon reviewers didn’t get the idea you purposefully staged the peace sign “incident”. LOL!

Over 40 years after my time as an army motion picture photographer, I still got a chill when the woman flipped the peace sign!

I’m sweating now thinking of it. I could use a few Japanese cat videos to relax. Hey! Shinji Kasahara makes great cat videos. He’s Japanese! Maybe you’d like a taste of them, too:

…or, for the more adventuresome with 29 minutes to spare, here’s the infamous Seattle peace sign video:

There! I feel cool and relaxed again thanks to Shinji Kasahara and his cats!

Caught in the act: self-incrimination.

Before there were two Persians in my life, there was one ginger cat, Louie. The late Louie the ginger cat was huge, almost 24 pounds (10.8 kilos). He had presence! The photo shows one moment where Louie managed to catch himself in the act of being a bad kitty.

I couldn’t account for the odd photo at top left until I noticed a little detail. Look at the black circle…the tip of Louie’s tail! With a little Photoshop manipulation, I uprighted Louie’s picture, and regard the result as one of my sweetest souvenirs of his time with me!

Louie captured proof he'd knocked my webcam off the monitor and walked on my mouse...

Louie captured proof he’d knocked my webcam off the monitor and walked on my mouse…

Here’s another look at Louie, in a quiet moment when he was being a good boy:

Louie was a beautiful cat, sweet dispositioned, and a character.

Louie was a beautiful cat, sweet dispositioned, and a character.