Friday, November 13, 2009

THIS Friday, the 13th...'s TOTALLY safe to go to your local animal shelter...

In fact, please help the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, "Change the Luck" for some of our black cats.
Change Their Luck!
Help us shine the spotlight on our often-overlooked darker kitties! Black or partially-black cats will be adoptable for a lucky $13 on Friday, November 13th.
So if you've been thinking about getting a cat, why not stop by and check 'em out.

This message brought to you by the letter "B" and the number "13."

Update: 11/13/2009 -- 8 pm

When we were volunteering tonight, we learned that AWLA has extended the $13 pricing through the weekend! That's like almost a 90% savings over the regular cost of adopting! Come get that cat(s) now!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ask Me About My Foster Kittens (Part 4) clearly a multi-part series...

As many of you may know, we just recently returned our fourth batch of foster kittens (whom we were fostering from April through well, just a couple of weeks ago). As part of what we do (not that we're asked, but I love the marketing...), MLW and I took pictures and created a document for the AWLA folks to use to help move our fosters (or "The Cheese Platter" as we think of them) into their forever homes. Thanks to the wonder that is Google Docs, I thought I would share.

It's cute pictures of kittens. Indulge me.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Old friends and new beginnings

Did you ever get a call that reminded you how much a part of your life a person was?

Boppie (or MG) called me on Saturday, literally yelling about how spectacular the new Star Trek movie was. She was on her way home from seeing it on a first date ("How was the date?" I asked later. "He can only benefit from being associated with the experience," she replied.) and thought I was the only person who would appreciate the significance of how satisfying it was to see that JJ Abrams had not screwed it up...

And so we talked about Star Trek a bit (in fairness, I hadn't recalled that MG was that interested in Trek... I'm sure we saw ST:IV (yeah, the one with the whales) in high school -- I may have even made her suffer through ST:V, but it was one of the things I'd forgotten). And then we started talking about other things, jobs, careers, health, migraines, life, existentialism, our youth, growing up, specific bits from classes, the way they shouldn't teach math, our families, pets, blogs, and on and on. Two+ hours later we needed to go before her cellphone battery cut out.

I should mention, for those that don't know from earlier posts, that I have known MG since... we're actually not sure... either age 9 or 10. She is the person I am not related to that I have known the longest that I still talk to (unless Bonnie or Laura Wagner suddenly pop back into my life...) And sometimes, like any other relationship I have, I fall out of touch, but somehow we always manage to get back in touch even if it takes some doing. And when that happens, we are back in touch -- not in that Facebook way (not that there's anything wrong with that), but we can talk about things as if no time had passed.

Considering MG and I "met" or came to know one another so early in life was a tad peculiar since we attending different grammar schools (West Milford is a vast township and there were... 6 or 7 primary schools at the time, I think, not counting private schools). We were, however, both in the Township's "Gifted & Talented" program (which was later changed to "Learning Unlimited," because, in an early bout of PC language revisionism it was decided that one might be gifted or talented in other areas beyond, um, learning stuff, I guess...) So once a week, for about half of the day, they would take us out of our classes and ship us to a decommissioned school building to learn other things (art, science, logic, magic, biology, history, science, technology, etc.)

MG describes it as how we were "culled from the herd" once a week and "placed on the short bus" (it was, in fact, a school van in most cases), and we talked a bit in this call about the emotional and sociological ramifications of this. (I don't know if you've noticed, but kids do, in fact, notice little differences like when one is removed from the classroom for half a day once a week...) I don't think either of us would trade that time in "L.U." (and trust me I could do a whole post or two on just that), but in talking with MG I was reminded just how much it shaped our early years (though she seems more aware of it that I did...)

And I remember how if she asked a question in math class or in Chemistry, things were about to get interesting (MG did (and I expect does) not suffer fools gladly). And how we didn't go to my Junior Prom together (I blame Stypinski... it's easier that way...) and various Halloween parties, and so on and so on.

It was so much... fun talking with her. It was great to stumble down the same avenues of shared recollection, in some cases, things I hadn't thought about in decades, and then suddenly have bits and pieces come floating back. And yet at the same time to be able to talk about things we feel or experience now (like attitudes about jobs) and find that even though our shared background diverged years before we entered the workforce, we both have similar "takes" on things.

But mostly, it was nice to be reminded that people sometimes are thinking of me and are inclined reach out and let me know that. Sometimes I feel like traffic only goes in the other direction. Selfish of me? Yes, but then you are reading my blog, aren't you...

Well, enough of my ravings (on this, anyway); I owe MG a message on what I thought of Trek...

* * *

Which brings me to Part Two of this post, in which I explain my relationship with Star Trek.

I can't tell you when I first saw Star Trek...

Funny story, I once asked me Dad what he was doing when I was born -- this was back in the day when fathers waited in -- you guessed it -- waiting rooms (Kids, check out the I Love Lucy episode where Little Ricky was born -- it was like that but with less smoking and in color...) He told me he was sitting in the Waiting Room watching TV. Naturally, I asked him, "Well, what were you watching?" He said, "I'm not sure, I think it was an old episode of Star Trek." At the time (when he told me, not at my birth...) "I remember thinking, well, that would have been on WPIX (Channel 11) out of New York... I wonder if they keep their broadcast logs that far back... could I possibly find out what episode was playing...?" Yeah, it's like that. Or it was.

I remember growing up I had Star Trek toys. Little 9" Mego dolls (this was before "action figures") and the whole bridge playset. They've remade both of these set-ups for nostaligic people my age, who didn't keep the originals like I did (even if every phaser belt broke...) I had a phaser that made noise and projected silhouetted flash light beams on the wall (so you could show the enterprise or a Klingon battlecruiser and whatnot) -- they make better ones now, of course. And I remember (as a child now, don't forget), regretting never getting the Star Trek utility belt I would sometimes stare at on trips to Child World (yeah, you can look that one up too...) And I'm sure it was something we played "in pretend" growing up (though I was too young to think to imitate Shatner's cadence of speech).

It was somewhere around age 12 or 13 that I really started to go over the deep end about Star Trek. I just "really got into it" -- I don't remember why (it certainly couldn't have had anything to do with my OCD tendencies...) WPIX (yep, them again... or more accurately still...) had the syndication rights in NY (and NJ is in the NY market). And they were showing them every night at 11 or 11:30 pm. And we now had a VCR. And yes, I taped them all. And watched them all. And discovered I had favorite episodes. And learned minutia about them. And that might have been enough... remember, this was all pre-Web, pre-Internet (well, for me anyway, I didn't get online until '89...)

But then I went to a convention. My dad was nice enough (did I ask? I really don't remember...) to get me tickets for Xmas one year to "the Spock Family" convention in NYC. Leonard Nimoy, Mark Leonard, and Jane Wyatt were all going to be there. It was... an experience, some of which I was prepared for ("Wow! Model phasers!" and "Oh, look! Those guys are dressed as Klingons! Crazy!") and some of which I was not ("Wow, my old toys are worth hundreds of dollars?!" and "Hmm, this vendor seems to have drawn pen-and-ink sketches of Kirk and Spock... with long hair... embracing... but why would they?" -- again, this was before the Internet -- I hadn't heard of slash fan-fiction yet (and that was OK by me...))

And that would not be the last convention. No, there were many others. I read all the novels. I started playing the roleplaying game (not terribly odd, as I liked roleplaying and I liked Trek, it made sense to me, and I had friends that were into both at the time). And I suppose I could have gone further still, but for some reason, I think I was pulled back from the brink. I developed other interests (girls, for one), and I seem to recall a trip to Europe or two, getting a job, and learning to drive somewhere in there.

And suddenly, Star Trek was just another interest. I remember by the time we decided to add the TV to the room in college, that I brought all my trek tapes with me (what else to keep in the bottom drawer of my desk than a gazillion video tapes), and Geoff and I would on occasion (the wild and crazy guys we were) watch an episode or two. It was also when I got into Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG) which I wasn't really enamored of when it first started one or two years earlier.

But trek was always there. I remember gathering after the '94 Drew graduation and watching the series finale of ST:TNG. Throughout the other series DS9 and yeah, even parts of Voyager (though that's when my interest started to lag) I could always stop back in and see how things were going in the Trek universe.

But ultimately for me, Star Trek would always be the original series and the original cast. In a sense, I thought of them as old friends too, after a fashion... the teaser trailer for Star Trek VI (in 1991 --or the last movie made with the whole original cast) really summed it up nicely for me. For those who don't want to roll the video, let me quote:

For one quarter of a century they have thrilled us with their adventures, amazed us with their discoveries, and inspired us with their courage. Their ship has journeyed beyond imagination. Her name has become legend. Her crew, the finest ever assembled. We have traveled beside them from one corner of the galaxy to the other. They have been our guides, our protectors, and our friends...
Corny? Yeah, a bit. But moving at the same time. Pause for a moment and think about how much Trek has influenced the world we live in today. Shatner hosted a show not that long ago on Discovery (I think) called William Shatner Invented the Universe (or words to that effect) that traced how most of the stuff we take for granted today (cellphones, anyone?) were inspired by Star Trek...

Long story, long, it was a tough act to follow. Big shoes to fill. The notion of someone else playing Captain James T. Kirk? The mind rebels. Shatner's got his own church for gods sakes...

On the other hand, JJ Abrams knows his stuff. Alias? LOVED IT. LOST? Spectacular (even back when I sorta understood it). Fringe? Weird, but sure do like it. I even loved Mission Impossible III (and this was while Mr. Cruise was losing it...) So if anyone stood a chance...

Great googily moogily this has gotten long. I know this is the kiss of death, but I think I need to finish this later. Stand by for the thrilling conclusion...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rumors of her demise...

(Forgive me, this post was delayed by my trip to St. Louis earlier in the week).

I'm not 100% sure as to the how or the why, but apparently there were some rumors after my last posting. MLW is fine, though she did have a bad (non-atypical for her) reaction to the antibiotics that they put her on.

Yes, this necessitated a visit to her doctor (who gave her a new and NON-hive-inducing antibiotic), but no, she didn't have to go back to the hospital. No, her leg didn't fall off, and no, she hasn't caught any strange, cat-borne diseases. (She did, however, manage to skip work one day this week...)

We thank you for your concern, but she's healing up nicely (and was showing her wounds to all concerned when we were at the shelter on Tuesday).

In a related story, pictures of the kittens coming soon, along with names, I imagine.

But first, a multi-part series inspired by my trip to St. Louis.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Change of Plans

Or "How Being a Nice Guy Means You Miss Your Concert and Get to Go to the Emergency Room Instead..."

I should start by explaining that Easter has never been at the top of my "favorite holidays" list (yeah, I have one... what of it? I have lists for everything). I'm not into the religious aspect, I'm not a big eater of candy (or plastic eggs or marshmallow chicks...), and Spring is ranked 4th place on my "list of favorite seasons" (see? told ya...) That said, this weekend wasn't that big a deal, though I did have some plans that I'd made a month or longer ago.

Those initial plans involved a field trip with some folks from work to go on one of the monthly paintball excursions (I missed every, single one last year... and I was the one who gave the the idea in the first place....) Then on Wednesday or Thursday the plan got postponed because of the weather (who wants to go run around in the rain and the mud? The answer to that question, incidentally, is "Andy," who was quite upset that we postponed, but that's another story...)

So I came up with alternate plans. I found out from the ADSW mailing list that there was a free concert at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. It sounded pretty cool (and was free), plus there was an exhibit there that also interested us. Awesome.

Then on Friday my cell rings near the end of the day. I don't recognize the number, but it's local so I answer it. It's D. from AWLA -- would we be interested in fostering a momma cat and her fresh out of the oven six (count 'em... six...) babies. Recalling that as recently as a month ago MLW said that if we were going to foster again, we'd go for an adult cat, I told D. I'd check and get back to her, but I wasn't really sure. Much to my surprise (well, sorta), MLW totally said, "Yeah, sure." Okay, because they won't be a lot of time or effort I'm sure... for three months or so... But whatever.

So today (Saturday) after diddling around a bit, I went over the shelter to pick up the latest batch and their supplies. It took longer than I was expecting (which again, based on my past experiences was silly, but then, that's what I do... mis-estimate time) and by the time I got home and we got everyone situated where they were supposed to be, it was too late for us to get into DC. Ah, well... no harm, no foul... Maybe I could get in a nap...

I was finishing up something on the computer (the story of my life). MLW goes upstairs; she wanted to check on things, since we heard a the metal gate fall down (we'd gotten a rabbit pen -- a collapsible set of metal fences that we use to hold the rabbits at the shelter. I had thought we could use it to sort of block our monsters from getting into the bathroom while at the same time keeping the foster cats in, even though the kittens are not really locomoting yet...) And then a few minutes later, the screaming started. There was a yell, something to the effect of "Damn it!" which in this context usually means a cat got past where it was supposed to be able to go. And then things got worse. And the screaming intensified... human screaming, cat screaming, I was pretty sure I heard something else in there too.

"Guess I'd better get upstairs," I thought, taking the laptop from my lap and placing it besides me, just as the phrase, "I need some HELP up here..." came wafting down the stairs. Running up the stairs, I go.

What I see is indeed a bizarre and disturbing sight. I run past Morrigan and Artemis, who are both poofed*. MLW is standing, with her back to the guest bathroom (which doubles as "Foster Cat HQ" in Schloss O'Mazur), she's got the folded up gate in-between her and Loki (our oldest and resident Grumpy grump) who is also poofed and is growling and striking out in her general direction. One of her (MLW's) legs I can plainly see is covered in blood. Artemis runs into this view (still poofed) and rapidly smacks Loki in the nose three or four times, then tears away. This happens at least twice.

I think I foolishly, inquired as to what happened, while MLW is basically screaming for me to get him (Loki) away from her. So, wearing a short sleeve shirt (no arm protection!), I move towards Loki. I make sure he sees me, and I hold my hand out and I just hope he does not bite too hard. Much to my (later) surprise, I realize he let me pick him up and carry him away without so much as a scratch. I hold him tightly and take him into the bedroom.

MLW comes through and says she's going to rinse her leg off to see how bad the damage is. After a moment or two of holding and soothing words, I let Loki go, he retreats to the far side of the bed. Meanwhile, Morrigan and Artemis take turns running in and out of the doorway, alternately poofing. At this point I notice that Eris (who usually has not the slightest compunction for her own well-being or safety) has been hiding under our bed during (I presume) this entire episode.

I go to attend to MLW. She is, looking kinda queasy (adrenaline always does that to her)... and quite frankly her leg looks like she was mauled by a small, yet demented shark on crack. "What happened?" I ask again, in an effort to try and understand the carnage I'm now inspecting.

As best as we can tell, Artemis knocked the "fence" down, probably in a failed effort to climb it, which made the crashing noise. MLW went in to check on momma cat. Momma cat hissed at her and MLW decided, "okay, I can take a hint" and backed out the room. But as she backed through the door, Momma charged her, taking a brief, drive-by chomp/scratch combo. Encountering the metal fence, she turned and ran back in the room. MLW closed the door. Problem solved, or so the uninitiated might think...

Now much as I try, I'm no cat expert. Cats are mysterious creatures, cloaked in riddles, wrapped in enigmas. And in the case of our four, dipped in a little crazy sauce for that extra "SHAZAM!" that makes life interesting... Maybe momma was exuding pheromones. Maybe fear has an tangible smell. Maybe my little ones don't like change. Maybe Loki was happy being an only and every time we bring in a foster group he fears we're going to give him just a little bit less of our time, his food, or love or that for some reason (and I don't know why he'd think this...) we're going to add to the O'Mazur pride and he'll have more little monsters to deal with. I dunno. All I know is that he went all Chompy McBiteypants on MLW's lovely leg. I mean, "ouch."

But it's good; it's good for me to practice my first aid skills. I really don't get much opportunity to use that merit badge knowledge if it weren't for MLW. So much surgical grade rubbing alcohol and 15 or more band-aids of various shapes and sizes later, MLW had more or less stopped bleeding. (Later I realized there was blood on the carpet and she'd gotten some on the wall, but one thing at a time...)

So while 95% of the bites were Loki, for whom we could vouch for, shots and paperwork-wise, I figured I needed to report the bite from momma shelter cat. So I called SD, my favoritist of my AWLA peeps. We talk. And talk. And then there are other calls. And conference calls.

On the plus side, no one was going to need to get a needle. On the downside, both SD and D. insisted that MLW go to the hospital. To emphasize their point, they each broke out five or six, "I saw this one person get a cat bit -- tiny little kitten, barely broke the skin... they had to amputate his whole arm.." stories. I love those stories. We had already decided (well, I had anyway... MLW can be funny about this stuff...) that she needed to go see her doctor on Monday. But they were insistent, and hell, we didn't have anything else we were going to do tonight anyway (I kid...)

So one exciting visit to INOVA Alexandria Hospital's Emergency Room later (only took about an hour, and I only saw one person with a nearly severed finger) -- this, curiously, being both of our first visits to an emergency room (if you don't count dropping off and picking up) -- and a subsequent stop at the CVS to pick up the antibiotics, well, I believe MLW will be walking again...

No, seriously, everything is fine. And Loki seems okay these days. And we've set the gate up in sort of an airlock, kind of set-up so we should be good from here on out. And the babies, while still in "mutant bear worm™" stage are kinda cute.

More details and possibly names and photos (of the kitties, not MLW's wounds) to follow.

What did you do today?

* = "poofed" is a word we use to describe the body-language and posture of a cat that is either scared or angry. "Poofing" can just occur in the tail or even part of the tail and can start from the tip down or base up. The hair along the spine can also get involved.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Now I remember!

The other thing I wanted to share was that our Robot Doom blog is gone crazy with activity. I don't know if it's depression at the end of BSG or what, but MLW is posting nearly daily installments of terrifyingly true robot news...

Go check it out.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

True story

So MLW, comes over to where I'm sitting with two glasses of water in her hands. A bizarre hand-dance takes place where I don't know which glass she's offering me. Left, right, left again. Finally, I take a glass and I say, "Did I get the right one?"

MLW: What do you mean?
Me: Did I get the one you put the poison in?
MLW: ...
Me: *chuckles*
MLW: Silly man, the poison's in both glasses. I just take the antidote every night.
Me: *gulp*

* * *

So, naturally, that has nothing to do with what I was here to post.

Random superhero news -- according to these "tough times" (and I assume by that the fact that I don't have any money my accounts...) lead to the rise of superheroes. Meanwhile there was this article from The Onion. Finally, this short film (which is in Norweigan, btw...) is a cute little 8 minutes and well-worth watching.

* * *

Of course, I have more stuff to talk about, this thing already published itself by mistake once. We'll have more soon, I hope, even if we have to go back in time to get it there.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Why am I up this early on a Saturday?!

Why NYCC, of course! Saturday is likely to prove a BUSY day, since they announced last night that the Saturday and Weekend passes are already sold out (supposedly for the first time, but I thought the same thing happened last year...) Saturday is usually the "anchor day" around which they center a lot of the "name" guests. And finally, since we know we have to trek across the river and have dinner in NJ tonight with my family, it's going to be a long day... But before we get to the joys of Saturday, let's talk Friday...

* * *

As you may have already read, I was felled by a migraine last night, and MLW was kind enough to post a guest post for y'all. However, as she pointed out, I wanted to include slightly more detail than "JAM is nauseous," so...

Friday, Part 1:

The Con is for "professionals" (read: industry and retail) people only for the first half of the first day. So we knew we couldn't get in until 1 pm. So what do two people in New York City do when they have an entire half day to work with? Well, if those two people are MLW and myself, you sleep in, of course!

Whoops! MLW is giving me the "Come on, YOU're making us late!" look (I know it well, because I always am). I'll have to continue this later. (Yeah, yeah, I know... I tell a mean story...)

NYCC First Day

Well, Jonathan had grand plans to blog and link and go nuts. Instead he decided to have a migraine and almost puke on me over dinner.
Here's a giant bobble head instead.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Bill Cosby was right... do say the darndest things and all that...

The following is an actual conversation between a dear friend of mine and her seven year old daughter...

7 year old [quite out of the blue]: My greatest fear is that I might lose someone close to me.

Her Mom [thoughtfully]: Aww... Mine too, sweetie. Mine too.

JAM [walking through the room thinks]: Wow, that's really insightful for such a young...

7 year old: My second is spiders.

* * *

In other news, coming soon, well, now, actually, the first in our multi-part series from this year's New York Comic Con (the 4th annual, but technically it has a complex history, so really it's the 4th annual under the present show organizers). We've come the past three years (thus missing the alleged riot in Year One), and every year I say I should blog about it. And every year it either takes me two months to get to it (when MLW finally uploads the photos) or I never even mention it.

So this year, I brought my laptop (I'm sure I've done that other years too) and MLW brought the stuff that connects the camera to it. And I'll be blogging about it every night. (I know, I know, you can hardly wait... or care...)

Today was the trip up, and with only minor problems with our girl Jane (that's the voice we use on the GPS) and a later start than I would have liked due to work not being able to not talk to me, it was largely an uneventful trip up. Even Delaware ("the delay state") wasn't a big deal. Granted I would have liked a longer nap, but it's also always nice to talk to MLW without there being any distracting TV's...

The only downside was that with a late start and with the traffic we ran into once we were in the City (which was nothing to report by NYC standards...) by the time we got to the hotel (the world-famous New Yorker) it was already too late to go to the "pre-show party" at the local Dave & Buster's. Ah, well, that's showbiz, I guess.

I did learn, as I was checking in, that the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is happening on Monday and Tuesday, and apparently the days before are made up of meetings, lectures, training sessions, etc. I suddenly realized half of the tiny bags I was seeing in the lobby were full of dogs. (As are many of the rooms. While the lobby seems to have been a no barking zone, I'm a tad concerned about the neighbors...) I met a nice woman from Dublin (by way of Florida apparently) who had some sort of terrier (I didn't hear which kind and there are like a million) and a couple from Nevada who had a... smooth-coated Chihuahua (?) -- all I know is the guy whipped out his cellphone faster than lightning and started showing me pictures of dogs and puppies. I admired politely, and hoped I don't sound too much like him when I talk about the O'Mazur Pride...

Anyway, then we hit the Tick-Tock diner for dinner (it was after 9...) and well, now we're back here in our tiny, tiny room (I'm sure in the 30's they were huge) and MLW is flipping channels to beat the band... Tomorrow is a slow start, because the con doesn't let in civilians (non-professionals) until the afternoon (the morning is just for industry people).

More to follow... (this time for real!)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Oh, I see, you thought I meant...

...THAT week... no, apparently not. Holidays, blah-blah-blah.

Let's try this again. is running a contest ("America's Favorite Animal Shelter: A New Year of Hope for Animals") through January 31st where you can cast your vote for your favorite local animal shelter or rescue group. The winning group gets a grand prize of $10,000 (and there are lots of runner up and weekly prizes too).

Many of you know that MLW and I volunteer weekly at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA), and I know I've mentioned it here before. So if I can ask you to take the 2 minutes it takes to click on the link and vote for AWLA (or, if you're so inclined, your own local shelter, if you feel strongly that it's more deserving), we would very much appreciate it, and I know the animals and staff would as well.

Thanks. And we'll have more later.