30 May 2007

Telescope

I found a telescope. More kookie stuff I've biked with. I'm a little bit of an amateur astronomer and tonight I got a lot of use out of it. With this cheesey little scope I could see the rings of Saturn, Jupiter and it's 4 largest satellites (moons) and what phase Venus was in plus great views of our almost full moon.

In fact I then broke out my camera with my 300 mm lens and with a little cropping in Photoshop I can show you Jupiter and it's 4 largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Now you aren't going to see any great details but with a simple telescope or some good binoculars you can see this on your own. Look again on a different day and you will see these moons change positions.

I was also able to get this shot of the moon with my camera.

29 May 2007

Recollections of the All American Hero - Part 1 - Roaches

I believe it was the year 1988 - 1989. My friend David and I got a job working in the Tucson Mall at a sandwich shop called the All American Hero. It was a franchise out of Philly and when I got hired on had recently bought by a private owner. We made, you guessed it, hero's and Philly cheesesteaks. It was a fun place to work. Sometimes busy, mostly not. The owner was cheap. For example, instead of using plastic wrap we had to start using the left over bread bags. And she would never get an exterminator. I remember a couple times while closing up as I was leaving I would have to set off the "bug bomb". And that old phrase "for every roach you see there are fifty more hiding" is true. Dave and I found the fifty . . . on more then one occasion. As I remember Dave had more of a problem then I did with this. The following is a recollection of what happened one day.

There was a partition between the ice machine and the dish washing area. The partition was made of some plywood covered with a plastic type of paneling and the whole thing stopped about a foot away from the ceiling. Well one day we noticed roaches coming from the top of the partition, or hanging out up there or something.

Dave and I were the only ones working . . .

I climbed up on top of the ice machine to see that the paneling wasn't sealed on the top and was coming away from the plywood. Well . . . in the crack between the paneling and the plywood were several little tiny antennae wiggling about. A chill went down my spine. What follows went something like this -
Me - "Ah . . . David . . . I think I need the insect spray. Oh . . . and get ready to run!"
David - "Oh no, what is it?"
I gave the top of the partition a quick spray. Immediately tons of roaches came swarming out of the top and down the sides.
Me - "AHHHHHHHHH!"
David - "GOOD GAWD!!!"
I leapt off the ice machine and both of us ran out the back door, or very close to it.

It didn't help matters that there was no set rules on how to clean the place, when to clean, where to clean. And no discipline for not cleaning things. Especially at night while closing. There were times when I would come in to open and the floors weren't mopped, or swept, slicers weren't cleaned, counters weren't wiped down. We had a grill right in front and would make cheesesteaks for all to see. During the height of the Great Cockroach Empire roaches would occasionally run right out onto the grill. Or as legend has it, while scooping ice, someone found a roach frozen in an ice cube. I was starting to convert. One day I found the holy white cockroach (later I would find out that roaches molted and were white right after doing so.) Instead of killing it I captured it, put it in a cup, feed and cared for it. This was my way of letting my boss know how ridiculous the situation had become. I named my little roach friend Rykoff, after one of the companies that brought us canned goods. Rykoff died after only a few days. Must have not had enough water or something. I don't know. I thought those things could live through anything. It must have been sabotage. I don't think the roach situation ever really resolved itself and we, the humans, just came to a mutual peace treaty with the cockroach.

But ever since we worked there Dave and I occasionally have reoccurring dreams about the place. Davids dreams usually involve not having enough food prepped, tons of customers, etc. In most of my dreams I come back to visit (even though the place doesn't exist anymore) and end up helping out. In my latest dream I told the owner that David and I have been having dreams about this place. The dreams have been coming more often lately but this is probably due to the fact that we have been talking more about them.

15 May 2007

Fantastic Fractiousness!


Bailey.

1992 - May 12, 2007

I adopted Bailey from the Tucson Humane Society in the early part of 1992. She was somewhere around 6 - 8 weeks old. Cute as can be. While other cats and kittens hid in the cages Bailey pressed her body right up against the front, rubbing back and forth, purring and meowing. She was always a very vocal cat. Her whole life. And she had a large vocabulary to go with it. The reason her previous owners gave her up to the Humane society was because they were moving. Moving. Bailey went on to live with me for 15 years in 12 different residences in 3 cities and 2 different states.

Bailey tolerated her step sister, Capella. They chased each other around the house as kittens and "play" fought many times over the years, Bailey always dominating. Never anything serious. Although once she reached adulthood she never really sought out any affection from Capella.

Bailey was my cat. Capella could be antibody's cat, enjoyed anyone who was nice to her but friends, family and guests always got the warning, "Touch the black cat at your own risk!" As a general rule it wasn't a real good idea for most people to even stand within 3 feet of her. She did scratch many people I know/knew and it seemed she disliked females more. Of course this usually gave me a bit of pleasure. "I warned you." At the vet it was night and day, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She had the deepest meanest growls and attacks I'd ever seen in a cat. Sometimes Christine would have to leave the exam room. Fractious. That is the term they use. Yet I was always able to read, approach, pet and hold her. We had an understanding. She was my cat.

I remember one day when she was a kitten/teenage cat. I was at my desk and she came into the room. She was poking around in my closet giving out little chirps and meows. I don't know how she did this but each time I looked over at her she was up one shelf. Finally she was on top of the open door. "How did you get up there!?"

Bailey didn't care much for store bought toys. When she was young she would run through newspapers opened into little tents. String and feathers provided some amusement. While her favorite toy for most of her life was half sheets of paper crinkled into little balls. She would jump for them when thrown about 3 - 4 feet over her head and catch many. Anxiously waiting the next one with full attention. She would even fetch some of them.

The first apartment I lived in with her had a leaky bath tub spout and Bailey would drink much of her water there. She wasn't afraid of getting a little wet. In many places I lived after that she would go into the shower and cry until I turned it on a trickle for her to drink. For a while I had a 45 gallon aquarium and she would jump on top of it and drink which sort of scared me since she was overweight and the whole thing shook when she did so. It worked itself out though. One day I was cleaning the aquarium and broke one of the glass panels in the lid. The next time she jumped up she got a rude, wet awakening. She never jumped up there again. When Christine and I moved in together Christine put an end to Bailey's shower drinking habits. Although sometimes I would still let her sneak into the sink for some fun.

Right after I had Bailey spayed she started gaining weight and was over weight for most of her life. I believe this was a huge contributor to her fractiousness and I think sometimes it gave her hip problems. In her full glory she weighed about 18 - 19 pounds. About 3 years ago she suddenly started losing weight and her water consumption went way up. In about 4 months she lost around 6 pounds. A few months later we would find out that she had become diabetic. For the rest of her life I had to give her insulin shots, once or twice a day, depending on the vet we had. This was a more a nuisance then anything. Giving the shot to the cat was actually quite easy and painless for her. But it had to be done at regular times. Finding someone to watch your cats when you go on vacation is hard enough but when you tell them one needs injections twice a day it is nearly impossible. We started boarding our cats on vacation. Bailey hovered around 10 - 12 pounds during this period and with the loss of weight she mellowed a little. But guests were told to still be wary. :)

Sadly about the last week of her life she started having trouble breathing. At first I thought it was a hairball but then I realized it was something more. Last Saturday we went to the vet. They took x rays. Bailey's lungs were about 1/2 full with fluid. They said it could be cancer or the start of heart disease. All options would only prolong her life for a little while longer and would add stress to an already stressed cat. We decided the humane route was to let her go. I had been mentally preparing myself for this for many months, even years when I found out she was diabetic and I wasn't even sure I would cry. I did. It was quite sad.

I try not to think to much of that last day, although I do. I'm trying to look back on fonder memories. One of my favorites is about a month back, laying on a deck chair, together with Bailey, in the sun. Purrrrrrrrrr.

Bailey is survived by Capella cat (her step sister of the same age), myself and her step mother (mother cat, Mutterkatze) Christine.

Gone but not forgotten. You truly enriched my life. Our house is much quieter without you. You are sorely missed.