The cat and the Kindle

Recently, I posted about giving up books, and how the Kindle 2.0 was going to help me stay on the straight and narrow. So now I have it in my hot little hands, and have been showing it off incessantly to all my friends and colleagues :) It certainly does have many of the benefits I was expecting; I immediately subscribed to the Seattle Times and am now enjoying my daily newspaper being beamed to me while I sleep each night without any paper to recycle! I have really missed my newspaper, and the only disappointment I have on that score is that for some reason, they don’t include the comics, or Dear Abby! Hmph.

I also downloaded a trashy book that I’ve been wanting to read but just really couldn’t justify buying :D I am finding it very light in the hand and very much like a printed page to read. It’s extremely convenient to take to those places like doctor’s offices, coffee shops, bus stops, etc., where you might find yourself with bits of time to read, and is a lot more compact. So now I’ve got my hardcover book I read at home, and my trashy novel for reading out and about :)

The real test came today when I was out for coffee with some friends and we went shop-hopping afterwards, including several used bookstores. Being determined NOT to buy books, this was the real challenge of whether Kindle will change my habits. I’m happy to say that I came out of the store with a list of books to download and one small blank paper journal (100% recycled), which I’ve been needing – I use those for half-formed ideas for books and classes, note-taking during mediation interviews, and birding records while traveling. Now if only they could put bird guides on Kindle, my backpack would be much lighter – but that will require color someday.

One unexpected advantage – usually when I read at home my books are large enough that the cat and the book can’t coexist on my lap. The cat sits nearby and looks at me, with “that” cat look. Last night I was reading my trashy novel and there was plenty of room, so I called Sophie over, she jumped in my lap, and I read my book with my left hand and petted my cat with the right, and she stretched out luxuriously in her rightful place. There’s at least one being besides me that’s happy for my Kindle!

Kitty Gamer

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When I got Sophie, she was a pretty mellow cat. She’d been living in a household with dogs, small children and another cat and was at first anxious and jumpy. All she seemed to want to do was relax, enjoy the quiet and solitude, and cuddle :) But eventually, I thought I should give her some toys, even though she didn’t seem to be the rambunctious type. I tried all the toys my other kitten had, but she seemed uninterested (on the other hand she loves the comfy kitty beds that Jasper couldn’t sit still long enough to use). I bought some new stuff and that didn’t pique her interest either, though she likes the scratching post. Eventually she discovered…

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My gaming dice :D This one I keep by my computer to use in a game I am running online. It’s a 12-sided die with pentagonal faces. She bats this thing all over the floor, and it rolls nicely even on the carpet. If I put it back up by the computer, she searches it out and plays with it some more. I’m not gonna take her only toy away from her, since that’s what she likes :)

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I guess she’s just a gamer kitty at heart!!

It’s really not breast cancer! and how you know that…

So this is a musing on how the Internet has changed our lives, particularly with medical information – for ourselves, our children, and our pets. It seems as though the media is excellent at telling us all about all the things we should be worried about, even many things we really shouldn’t worry too much about. At the same time, I notice more and more how I rely on it to get the information I need to solve problems – before I talk to my doctor. This takes some work of course – there’s a lot of misinformation on the Internet with a lot of really good stuff mixed in. Any good researcher should be able to tell the difference, though it may take some practice. The advent of Google seems like one of those things that’s changed my world.

For example, (stop reading if personal health is TMI) I’ve been feeling kind of sharp pains under my left breast and armpit area for a while. As any woman knows, the very first thing that leaps into our minds is breast cancer. It’s just so scary on so many levels, and something we’re taught to worry about pretty much from teen years on. And now that I’m 40+, it’s an even bigger concern. So this morning I felt it again. I had just sent an e-mail message to my doctor on another topic (yet another health care innovation that I love), and didn’t want to bother her again unless I really had to. I mean, I just had a mammogram and everything was fine. Still, fears persist. So onto the trusty Internet I go. Come to find out that there is almost never pain associated with breast cancer, and that this kind of pain is NORMAL for women heading into pre-menopausal years.

What a relief… and it took me all of 5 minutes on the computer to find that out, and another 5 to confirm that my initial research on it was accurate and consensus-based. This is a good thing – it took something that could have become a significant nagging worry and just took it off my plate. Sometimes I think that we have far too much to worry about in the world today – many things we can do nothing about. To the extent we can use the Internet to relieve these anxieties, that’s a real gift.

The Internet has been essential for all the research I’ve done on new treatments for migraines over the years, which prepare me for office visits with neurologists who don’t have a lot of time to spend on each appointment. I work hard at making sure I don’t over-react to media, or base any medication decisions on advertising. But it sure is nice to be able to look up original research and evaluate it for yourself – especially if you’re trained to do so.

Then there was the time my kitten horrified me by peeing on my bed, the very first week I got him home. I had no idea what to do, or why he would do such a thing. A little time on the Internet convinced me that he probably did it on purpose to try to tell me something important, and I should take him to the vet. Sure enough, he had a UTI infection. And here I thought (at first) he was being bad, was scared, or just poorly trained, when neither punishment nor training (or even comfort) would have helped a bit.

There’s something immensely comforting about all this – I could give a lot more examples, but I’m realizing how I’m coming to rely on this information source – used carefully and with discrimination. I’ve received good advice more times than I can count. Given how overloaded our health care system has gotten, it’s probably good that we have at least some other alternative for less critical matters. In some ways at least, the Internet is really living up to its promise.

Furry friends

kitty1.JPG Today I’m adopting a cat, shown in the picture… I am not sure what to call her yet :) She’s a tortoiseshell short-hair with pretty black, white, and orange patches. She loves peace and quiet, but is currently in a busy household with three small children, two dogs and another cat. At least she’s been loved and well cared for, her family just knows she’d be happier somewhere calmer. She seems to like me well enough, though she is definitely one of these cats that will take her time exploring your house, thinking about you, keeping her space, and then when you’re not looking, you’ll find her in your lap :)

wands-3.jpg I drew a card to see what I needed to know about Ms. Kitty – the Three of Wands came up. This is a familiar card of laying the groundwork for a better future, building bridges and building trust. I already knew this was needed, but it came up upright, so I know I can make my home a better place for her. She will come out of her shell, I think, once she realizes that she can trust the house to stay peaceful and not have small children and loud noises startling her all the time. Meanwhile I am just happy to have a little presence in my house again, keeping me company.

The Cat Walked…

Desolate is the roof where the cat sat,
Desolate is the iron rail that he walked
And in the corner post whence he greeted the sunrise.
– E. Pound, Canto XXXIX

The rest of this canto is about sex as practiced by Greek goddesses and heroes, and maidens dancing to the Vernal Equinox… You’ll have to read it yourself – oh, but maybe just this bit:

Dark shoulders have stirred the lightning
A girl’s arms have nested the fire
Not I but the handmaid kindled
Cantat sic nupta
I have eaten the flame.

Yes, I’ve made it to Canto 42 (out of 117). What’s so odd is that here is this gorgeous canto, and another one (Canto 36) written on the nature of love, plunked down in the middle of poetry – if you can call it that – on the economic and banking structure of the American Revolution, comments on the military campaigns of Europe, and diatribes about taxes, arms-dealers, usury, and the idiocy of the kings and queens of Europe. ???

Never mind that the ATA is in need of rescue again (deja vu), I’m starting a new environmental consulting job tomorrow, and have mediations scheduled all week. As my Friday the 13th cat said to me, “embrace the insanity!” And so I will.

Hypoallergenic Cats

Did anyone else see that some drug company is breeding hypoallergenic cats?? Somehow they isolated a few cats with a gene that suppresses the protein that makes most people allergic to cats, and they bred it out of theirs. They’ve run some trials with these cats and they really do not set off allergies. Now they’re busily breeding them and selling them for $4000 apiece. After careful screening of the host families (you DO believe that, right?). And of course they neuter them before sending them out – overpopulation control or patent protection – you decide!

OK. It’s actually, a good idea, I suppose. I mean, I have close friends and family that are allergic to cats and it’s been one consideration in whether I would get another. But it’s just weird to think of these cats getting bred at a drug company. I suppose no more so than the company who was cloning pets. I just read in the paper that THEY went under because no-one wanted to shell out $35,000 for a clone of little Fifi. Still…

OK first, there’s the cost factor. Letting your cat run around the neighborhood is one thing, if it really, really wants to (and it’s fixed). But this puts it in the investment category, which really doesn’t seem like the right place for a pet. All kinds of decisions could be wrong, and not with the best interest of the pet or the family, if you’re busy thinking about that $4000 you spent to get the cat in the first place.

Then, what about that idea that we’re sterilizing our world to the point where we’re getting more illnesses and allergies because of it. Wouldn’t this just be another step in that direction? And how about all the poor kitties that will get given up when a family suddenly finds it more convenient to have one of these cats, because the new room-mate, boyfriend, child has allergies?

It’s all more than this tabby can process – Meow!