The Cats

Back, catching up

by Michael Alderete on 11/4/2005

We’re back from Palm Springs, where we had a great time. The cats decided to let us live. We’re still digging out from under all the mail, voicemail, and email that piled up. Should get caught up by Monday.

We didn’t do nearly as much as we’d have liked to accomplish on our various projects, but that just means we had a good time. This assertion is supported by some of the debris we left behind in the room, our empties, mostly champagne and vodka bottles…

Our empties...

Since getting back I’ve had my birthday. We went out for three straight nights, once for my birthday, once to someone’s Halloween party, and once to someone else’s birthday gathering. At least for me, the most fun was on Friday at Tres Agaves, which just opened last week. (Highly recommended, even though they are struggling under the load of instant success.) We started with drinks in the (packed) bar, and then moved to dinner. Where it turned out there was yet another birthday going on at the table next to us, except the ladies dressed up in theme. It was destiny that we would meet:

Apparently I had a good time at my birthday dinner...

No wonder we still haven’t unpacked completely! Anyway, if you’ve been waiting for a phone call or email, we should be back to normal after this weekend. Talk to you soon.

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Palm Springs!

by Michael Alderete on 10/12/2005

Rochelle and I are currently in Palm Springs, on vacation for two weeks. So far we have done very little except eat and drink and sleep and…play Scrabble.

I don’t usually talk about our vacations on this weblog while we’re away, because I’m too paranoid: I don’t like telling people when it would be easy to break into our house. But this trip, we’ve taken the most valuable (to thieves) stuff (our computers) with us. (Plus we have house sitters for most of the two weeks. House sitters keep the cats from revolting while we’re away…)

Rochelle and I both have projects we’re working on during our two week “retreat,” and most of them involve or require the use of a computer. Sounds crazy, but it really is relaxing to be able to go away, and concentrate on things you’ve been meaning to do, but can’t find the time, or have too many daily distractions. And the things we’ve been meaning to do — writing, organizing photos, leaning new skills for work — are all intimately tied to technology. Welcome to the 21st century, I suppose.

At any rate, we’ll be back to San Francisco in a week or so.

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Quotation of the year candidate

by Michael Alderete on 9/3/2005

“That Luigi is a fat, filthy, disgusting animal. What did we ever do to deserve him?”

“I don’t know, but you must have been very bad in a previous life, because you have him, Basta, and me.”

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Watching paint dry

by Michael Alderete on 5/25/2005 · 10 comments

In the time since the prior photos were taken, the (old) kitchen sink and (new, temporary) cabinet were installed (and the dishwasher dragged into place), the ceiling, walls, and trim have been painted, the electricians returned to install all the outlets, switches, and lights — and our contractor left to go get married on the East Coast.

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The abstinence kitty

by Michael Alderete on 2/18/2005

Luigi has this alternately amusing, endearing, and irritating desire to sleep in between Rochelle and I. He likes to be the meat in the sandwich. Given that he sleeps on top of the covers, and weighs 18 pounds, it means he essentially separates us into separate compartments of the bed.

Almost like a chaperone. We’ve taken to calling him the abstinence kitty.

Like I said, alternately endearing, amusing…and irritating. ;-)

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2004 in review

by Michael Alderete on 1/13/2005

2004 was a decent year for us, and as always (at least since I started this weblog), I like to take a few moments to reflect on some of the important things that happened.

For me, the thing that dominated the year was my new “job” as a consultant. I’d done some consulting before, but in 2004 I managed to string together almost an entire year of work. Mostly half-time, so it wasn’t quite the income I would have liked, but I was able to pay the bills, and that’s pretty amazing. Really, all the credit goes to my primary client, Nicely Done Solutions, where the majority of my work comes from. They’ve kept me busy, and I hope to keep doing work through them for some time.

That dominated my day-to-day, but my biggest accomplishment in 2004 was my five year wedding anniversary with Rochelle. We have many more of those in our future, if we can both resist the temptation of butter.

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How to hail a cab

by Michael Alderete on 11/17/2004

Billie is our littlest, sweetest cat. She’s a shut-in. Trapped in our bedroom by a roaming Basta policing the hallways (and any other room she’s not been chased out of), and frequently harrassed by a doting Luigi, who just wants to be her bestest friend, Billie retreats from the world when we’re not home, spending her time on her cat condo, under the bed, or in the closet.

That doesn’t mean she’s lost her curiosity, or thirst for adventure. She loves to visit other rooms in the house, especially the office, where we’ve set up a semi-permanent (but movable) bed on top of the printer, close to Rochelle. And she loves to go out to the back deck, and chew on whatever plants Rochelle is currently torturing.

But, how to get to other rooms, or the great outdoors, when the highways and byways of the house are controlled by the Evil Basta? There’s really only one way that’s safe from ambush: a cab rid on our shoulders. Billie loves to jump up — from the bed when she can, from the ground when she must — and cling to our shoulders, neck, or back, and be transported at a safe altitude to other, more exiting places. We’ve come to recognize the look on her face that says she’s coming aboard, and usually manage to crouch down lower, so her leap doesn’t involve quite as much claw when she lands.

The thing is, we’re often not in the bedroom. Mostly not in the bedroom. So, when we’re too far away, she’s taken to hailing us.

It’s a distinctive, insistent lowing that borders on a whine. She’s used it for some time to tell us she wants something, but it’s usually been food or attention. We know what it means in a general way, but lately it’s been more specific: come get me, and take me somewhere. Her chariot arrives, she leaps aboard, and the game’s afoot. Fun!

Tonight, she even started giving directions. When I came to pick up my fare, she kept on yelling, especially when I headed in the wrong direction. When I finally realized she wanted the back deck, she quieted, and lept off immediately when she arrived at her intended destination.

No tip.

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Mouse hair

by Michael Alderete on 7/28/2004

Fifteen years ago, I began my post-college career providing front-line computer support in the Office of the Chancellor at UC Berkeley. I was taking care of 125 Mac users, most of whom had Macintosh SE systems.The number one problem people had was “My password doesn’t work,” for which the solution nearly always was “Turn off your Caps Lock key.” You gotta love end users. (Interestingly, Mac OS X and Windows XP both provide visual feedback when the Caps Lock key is down and you are typing into a password field. I could have taken two-hour lunches if that had been around back then…)

The second most frequent problem people had was “My mouse isn’t working anymore.” The solution for this was to go visit the user with my micro tweezers, take out the mouse ball, and tweeze out the hair, dust, fuzz, and other gunk that inevitably got into mechanical mice. This was something I probably did twice a week all year long at work, and for myself at home, 3-4 times a year. The difference in mouse smoothness afterwards was always amazing, and it was this issue that finally made me go out and buy a new optical mouse a few years back.

When I went optical I thought my problems with cat hair and other gunk getting into my mouse would be over. Today, while checking out why clicking and scrolling had started acting weird, I learned different.

While there is no mechanical aspect to mouse movement tracking, the scroll wheel (which I love love love) and regular buttons are still mechanical. When I opened up my mouse and peeked around, I found enough hair for a whole ‘nother cat, wrapped around the scroll wheel’s spindle. Cleaning it all out was oddly nostalgic — a job once again for the micro tweezers.

As I was doing it, I again found myself marveling at the wonderful design of my Logitech Cordless Optical Mouse. Removing two screws allowed me to lift off the top part of the mouse. Inside, it was easy to remove the mouse wheel to get at all the little places where hair had lodged. I wouldn’t call the design “user serviceable,” but it certainly wasn’t difficult. If you can handle a screwdriver and pay attention to where the three wheel parts go, it’s quite easy to take the mouse entirely apart and put it back together afterwards.

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Quiet, busy, the house…

July 20, 2004

Some of what we’ve been up to for the last four months or so…

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Painting painting sanding painting painting painting…

February 17, 2004

It started with the idea of replacing our 12 year old (hideously cat vomit-stained) carpet. After searching for a while, Rochelle finally found a great carpet that should be durable and look terrific. But then, the real scope of the project became, if not clear, at least a topic of discussion. We would need to paint all three rooms that were getting the new carpet. And the hallway.

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When will I ever learn?

June 6, 2003

Our youngest cat, Luigi, has really stinky poo. He used to wake us up with his poos, but we got wise, and he doesn’t crap in the litterbox that’s just off our bedroom anymore. Instead he uses the box in the water closet, across from the bathroom. The problem is, he likes to do it when we’re taking a bath. As you might guess, this makes the bath a lot less enjoyable.

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Toxic duty

June 5, 2003

So we got a new cat, the week before Xmas. Luigi is a 5-year old male, black and white shorthair, with a really sweet, cuddly, docile temperment. Luigi has a serious problem, though, something not disclosed to us when we adopted him. A lesser household might have shipped him back to animal control, a virtual death sentence. There’s no way to say this nice: Luigi has toxic poo.

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