About what I should be posting.

In the meantime, one cartoonist’s view of the Rapture. Hmmm, maybe I should convert.

The Great Snatch

Stoopid Kat!


IMG_0036Or stupid Homo sapiens.

(I’d write a post of import to someone other than me, but as I mentioned yesterday, the world is beginning to overwhelm me. Today I searched “Sunniest places in New Zealand.” I am sure that NZ has its own problems, but starting a war with North Korea and dealing with the daily antics of Tangerine Jesus aren’t among them. )

So you get this story instead:

I’m in the process of demolishing the downstairs bath. (I’ve got some really hideous pale yellow tile if you need some replacements.) Getting rid of the garbage is part of the challenge. I was shoveling out some of the plaster and tile through the bathroom window. I left the window open to get some fresh air in there. I closed the door to keep the animals out. Zoot and Dingo, my indoor cats, have occasionally gone walkabout, and it’s not fun.

She Went Out Through The Bathroom Window

Like most things in my house, the bathroom doorknob doesn’t work so well. (You should see what I have to go through sometimes to make sure that the boiler works. Another story, another time.)

Enter, or exit,  Genius Mutt, who was not on a leash, as I let him out into the backyard. The bathroom door was not latched, it turns out, and when I came home–after dark, mind you–there was Dingo, coming to the back stairs to come in the house. (For a long while I couldn’t tell the difference between my cats, so Dingo wears a collar with a bell attached to it). I can hear her usually before I see her. He sees the cat, which means time for terrorizing. When the cats are cornered, they’ll smack Kaleb on the nose, and he’s such a big chicken that he’ll back off, but when there’s open space, the cats prefer to retreat and the chase is on. Dingo runs and hides somewhere in the backyard. I bring the dog inside, screaming at him for chasing the cat (yes, useless at best, counterproductive at worst).

I set out to get the cat. I do not want my cats outside, not during daylight hours, and certainly not at night. We have a lot of coyotes here in suburban Boston. I hear them at night, especially when a chorus of pups starts on yipping fit. I’ve lost cats to coyotes, and it’s not pleasant, especially when you find the remains. I’d rather not be living among top predators in this kind of space–they can be packed much more densely here than in the wild–but I don’ think that that is about to change.

Missing animals upset me. They make me worry. My mind starts to wander to the worst-case scenario.

I go back outside to get Dingo, but she is still frightened from having the dog chase her all over the yard, and she bolts into the darkness. Shit. Back inside, get the flashlight, get a bowl of food.

I spend the next hour trying to find the cat.  I call her. I shine my flashlight into hidden places, including the neighbor’s shed. I wait for the police to show up and ask me what I am doing slinking around other peoples’ yards at night. I look under bushes, cars, along fence lines, up trees.  No cat. Not even the sound of her bell. I know that she probably hasn’t gone that far–cats rarely travel great distances under these circumstances.  It’s getting late, but  I don’t want to go to sleep. I want to stay outside and stay vigilant for coyotes and run them off if they come on my side of the street (they live across the street, in the woods by the river.

But eventually, inevitably,  I can’t do it anymore. I’m too tired, too worried, too frustrated. A lot of my worry is just about the cat, but it gets confounded and conflated with other things. I’m worried about having to tell my son and daughter that Dingo has disappeared, and may or may not come back. I worry that in the turmoil of the post-divorce period that the children are still feeling a loss, and I don’t want to add another loss. I think of my life here, how there is only one thing keeping me here–my children–and that I’m not ready for more loss, either. My life isn’t that bad. I’m safe, I have a roof over my head and food in my refrigerator. A family, who although not here, is behind me every step of the way. A woman who looks after my soul and my well-being. But a lot of things have disappeared in the last while, and I’m not looking to add yet another animal companion to the mix.

She came back. I woke up at 3:30 AM, went outside, and she wasn’t there. I woke up again an hour later, and as soon as I opened the door, she meowed, and ran inside, heading straight down to the basement where the food is. As I write this, she is sitting on the desk next to the computer, and when I rub her head she starts to purr.

I imagine that at some point she will again escape, and I will think, Oh no, not again. But for now I’m going to just enjoy the purring sound, and try not to think about everything else that’s going on in the world.

Parasite Attack! Flesh-eating Worms in the United States!


 

A Meta-Bug News Roundup

Screwworms in Florida

The New World screwworm, Cochliomyia homnivorax, isn’t probably something you think about. Fortunately, you don’t have to. The screwworm, a larval form of a fly, has been eradicated in the United States since 1982.

220px-Cochliomyia_hominivorax_(Coquerel,_1858)220px-Screwworm_larva

Unlike maggots, which eat only dead flesh, the screwworm eats live tissue. When I was in Haiti recently, I saw what they are capable of. Any wound, any abrasion, any cut is an invitation for the flies to show up. Then the larvae come out, and work their way not just into the necrotic parts, but the actual live tissue.

Screwworms obviously present a serious danger to livestock. I can even find you a gross story where they went into a woman’s ear. But since the ’50s, researchers began experimenting with the release of sterile male flies, first on the relatively controlled setting of an island, and then on the mainland. By 1982, there were no more screwworms in the US.

Naturally, flies don’t recognize international borders, so in partnership with Mexico and the nations of Central America, the screwworm has been restricted to south of the isthmus of Panama, a bottleneck that is relatively easy to defend. The breeding of sterile males is ongoing in Panama.

Recently, 40 endangered Key Deer had to be euthanized in Florida when it was discovered that they were infested with screwworms. Sterile males were introduced, the Florida Department of Agriculture set up inspection stations in Key Largo for animals leaving the keys, and the outbreak was contained.

 

Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, has died.

“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.”

pirsig

Here’s a passage  from Zen  that I always found interesting.

Things are getting worse.

Twittler has proposed huge tax cuts, and naturally they benefit him and those in high income brackets the most. They propose eliminating the inheritance tax, which is probably the best tax we have: WE’RE TAXING DEAD RICH PEOPLE! They’re decomposing, they can’t complain, and if their whiny little offspring think it’s just horrible that they have to be just a tiny bit like the rest of us (which they won’t, they’ll still be stinking rich), well, they can commiserate in their gated communities and in their country clubs, just like they always have. The Great Unwashed will be able to perhaps feed and educate their children a little better. It’s understandable how those at the top don’t really want a level playing field, but keeping the “Paris Hilton” tax–or maybe we should call it the Trump Kids Tax–is a good thing. Just ask Teddy Roosevelt. Whatever you name it, don’t let anyone get away with calling it a “death tax.” It’s not.  It’s a tax on plutocracy and oligarchy.

I can’t write anymore today. A buffoon is fucking up or determined to fuck up so many things at once–relations with Canada and Mexico, military policy, health care, foreign trade– that it’s overwhelming. As I’ve written before, there’s a good chance that the American Experiment has failed, and the wise will at least be keeping an eye open on an exit strategy. While I’m here, I will work to make this a better and safer place, but I do not believe that this is the best place for my children to plan their future in.

My Street Band Made the New York Times, Marching for Science


Woohoo.

Here we are, the Jamaica Plain Honk Band (subsumed for the day by the Boston Area Brigade of Activist Musicians, otherwise known as BABAM). That figure on the right , sort of behind and to the side of the tuba player?  The guy whose head is out of the picture, but you can see the blue raincoat? Yeah, that’s me. Promise. And that’s E, our young brass player, leading the charge. 25MARCH34-superJumbo

Shavuah Tov. Impeach Drumpf.


Marched for science today. We all got together and spent over four hours outside on a ridiculously cold and drizzly late April day agreeing that we like science, that we are sorry that the current administration doesn’t, and that we wish that would change. The only hope that anyone saw was that Tangerine Jesus might get a chronic disease for which there is no cure, in which case he might fund research for it. It wouldn’t cover much, but it’s a start.dog protester

I was there with a street band, and I have to admit that if you’re gonna protest, it’s more fun playing music than it is listening to speeches.  Google “march for science signs” if you’re in need of a laugh.

(Social) Media Shabbat


I’m concentrating on what I’m trying not to think about for the next 25 hours.

  • Don’t think about Neil Gorsuch, and how a 5-4 vote sent a man in Arkansas to lethal injection, part of the state’s planned Execution Fest.
  • Don’t think about how Berkeley is playing into the hands of right-wing whack jobs by saying that Ann Coulter couldn’t speak there safely. Kudos to the Young Assholes Sycophants Smarmy Army Republicans for picking provocateurs instead of someone who would actually put together a cohesive argument for conservative policies. We now know that you don’t need to be middle-aged and embittered in to subscribe to the Fuck You School of Political Thought.
  • Don’t think about Marine Le Pen, and how the terrorist attack on the Champs Elysee might help her get elected.
  • Don’t think about the Great Barrier Reef.
  • coral bleaching

Alas, I’m marching for science tomorrow with BABAM (Boston Area Brigade of Activist Musicians), so I’ll have to think about the Handbasket Express at least a little bit.  I’ll be there with bells on, literally (Ich spiele glocken).

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