Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mission Impossible, Day 19

Ok, I suppose it's time for a kitty-cat potty training update. As you can see from the pictures, the kitties are no longer using their litter box. They have been going potty on the potty for the last week or so, but that by no means they are fully potty trained yet!

First, I thought I'd try potty training the old-fashioned way, by putting some plastic wrap over the top of the toilet, and putting some litter on top. I did a good job of securing the plastic wrap to the toilet so the cats wouldn't fall in, but I forgot to account for the fact that Spam would immediately poke a hole in it with his claw! Yep, so it wasn't long before our toilet was filling up with non-flushable kitty litter. I was able to stop the hemmoraging of litter into the toilet before it got too bad... but that was the end of the plastic wrap attempt. After that, we went back to the litter box on top of the toilet step for another five or six days.

Next we tried using several layers of garbage bags, reinforced with a piece of heavy brown paper in between. This worked very well in keeping litter from getting into the toilet, and the kitties got used to sitting on top of the toilet to go potty.

In the meantime, I did some research on the web about kitty-cat potty training. Last August a company called CitiKitty started selling a kitty-cat potty training device. It's a piece of molded plastic that fits over your toilet bowl and under the seat. It's about an inch or inch and a half deep (to hold the litter) and has concentric, perforated holes that you remove one at a time to help get kitty used to making shi-shi and unko in the toilet. So last Monday, I ordered a CitiKitty online. It arrived on Wednesday, and the kitties began using it that night.

On my way home from hiking today, I picked up some flushable cat litter, and and thus we have moved on to the next big step - the removal of hole number one!

Of course, any time anything is happening to the litter box (or potty), Spammy's got to be the first one there to check things out and use it. In a previous post, I mentioned that Spammy likes to stick his paws in the water bowl and sweep the water out onto the floor. Well, he still likes to do that. Which explains why he keeps sticking his arm into the little hole in the middle of the CitiKitty, and getting the water all over the litter!

Dam Waterfall!

This afternoon I had a nice hike at some park out in Rockaway, New Jersey. This time the hike was instigated by Rebecca, who emailed a bunch of people yesterday to see if anyone was up for hiking today. Fortunately she was cool with doing an afternoon hike, because I had to go to work for a few hours this morning at Crate & Barrel. Russ was unable to make it though, because he's on call this weekend. So it was just Rebecca, Jason and me today.

The above picture of Rebecca and me was taken from the overlook point. I didn't bother to take a picture of the view itself because it would look pretty unimpressive - miles of leafless trees and a washed-out sky. But someone brought a block of bird seed that they put in a nearby tree stump, so we got to see a lot of these little birds up close. One even checked out my back pack while it was laying on a rock, but lil-bird took off before I could snap a picture of him. This lookout is right along a hawk migration path, so I'm told all kinds of people go up there during the spring and fall migration months to help count hawks. Near the lookout, they have a chart posted showing the number of hawks counted during migration season since 1987.

My favorite part of the hike was near the end, when we came across the remants of an old iron processing center that was alongside the river. There's a dam with a lot of water running over it, and these big stone structures with pukas in them that you can stand in to pose for pictures. :) My favorite was the one inscribed with "Death!" and "Die!" in red spray paint.

On the other side of this dam is a nice big reservoir, where it looks like they allow kayak and canoe access. Not that we have kayaks or a canoe, but if we did, we could take them here. :) There's also a trail that loops all the way around the reservoir - the sign says it's 13.8 miles around, but my friend, Jason, thinks it's closer to 20. Either way, it looks like it would be nice to bike around. So looks like we'll have to check this place out some more when the weather gets warm.

Potato Chips

This weekend has been a good weekend for physical activity. On Friday, I drove down to Princeton to go to their monthly swing dance, and had a lotta good fun.

However, I was disappointed to find out that those people down there don't like to dance to the Slim Gaillard's Potato Chips. That's one of my favorite songs to dance to ever. I think the DJ thought it was cool that I requested the song, but he told me that whenever he plays that song there, people look at him weird. So I asked a couple of the guys I danced with if I am the only one who really enjoys dancing to that song, and they pretty much confirmed it. One guy, Mike, said, "Well, I generally don't like dancing to songs about food." How can that be???!!! So many great jazz tunes are about food, or are somehow food-related! I even have an entire playlist on my iPod dedicated to food-related songs, of which these are very danceable:

Potato Chips - Slim Gaillard
Matzoh Balls - Slim Gaillard
Saturday Night Fish-Fry - Louis Jordan
Beans and Cornbread - Louis Jordan
Everybody Eats When They Come to My House - Cab Calloway
The Frim Fram Sauce - Ella Fitzgerals & Louis Armstrong
Shew Fly Pie - Ella Fitzgerald
Banana Split for My Baby - Louis Prima
Hold Tight (Want Some Seafood, Mama) - The Andrew Sisters

Seems like guys named Louis like to sing about food...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Museum of Natural History

Because he worked last Sunday, Russ took today off from work. With all this free time, we decided to go on a little adventure to NYC. We've been wanting to visit the Hayden Planetarium for a while, and this was the perfect opportunity. It's convenient that the planetarium is attached to the Museum of Natural History, so we had plenty to do and see after finishing the space show.

When we got to the museum, we had about an hour's wait before the space show began. To kill some time, we wandered around to the different exhibits, one of our favorites being this model of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. It's pretty amazing they are both still operational after exploring the Martian landscape for more than a year now! We also weighed ourselves on some different planets, the sun and I think one or two other celestial objects. On Mercury, I only weight 26 pounds. Or was it the Moon? I can't remember...

Although I've been to the Hayden Planetarium before, this was the first time I've ever seen the space show. I kind of have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, there really wasn't much to it - definitely geared towards the lowest common denominator as far as the material it covered is concerned. But the night sky they created inside the giant sphere was beautiful, with an incredible amount of stars. It reminded me of when I visited Moloka`i with Rebecca last summer. The first night, I couldn't sleep, so at 1:30 a.m. I took a little walk down to the beach. The sky was clear and absolutely amazing with the cloudy band of the Milky Way right overhead, extending down to the island of Lana`i. The only reason the planetarium's display of stars looked better was because there were no annoying hotel lights impeding my night vision. To hear Russ's comments on the Hayden Planetarium space show, click on his face. :)

At the conclusion of the space show, the planetarium staff let us out of the sphere, which leaves you on a mezzanine level where you can walk around the sphere and look at displays that illustrate size comparisons that begin with the size of the entire known universe all the way down to quarks. In this picture, if the Hayden sphere (the grid in the background is but a small portion of it) represents the size of the sun, then the relative size of Jupiter and Saturn would be that of their respective models hanging high above Russ's head.

Near the other end of the size spectrum, if the Hayden sphere represents the size of a Rhinovirus, then this black and white bulbous thingy would the be relative size of a fart... er... methane molecule! (At least I think that was the comparison... sorry can't remember exactly... maybe should have taken notes!)

After finishing the size comparisons floor, we watched the little movie they play in the bottom half of the sphere about the Big Bang. When that's over, they let you out into the ramp that spirals around the sphere to the ground floor. All along the spiral, they have a timeline that shows major developmental cosmic events, starting 13 billion years ago to the present. At about 8 billion years ago, we got hungry, so we stepped up our time traveling pace and found our way to the food court.

Yes, we - well, I - was too lazy to leave the museum to find better food. Surprisingly, the food was not as expensive as we expected, but still expensive. And all junk I might add! Don't get me wrong, it tasted ok, just was not very good for us. :)

As I'm sure you can imagine, the Museum of Natural History is just way too big to take in all in one day. So we decided that the parts we wanted to see the most were the mineral sections and the dinosaurs. We also managed to take in the biodiversity section and I guess it was mammals of the northern hemisphere or something like that. Oh, and the fishie section too! That's where I met my friend Puff (I named him that, not the museum). He's not a good fish to eat, because the poison inside him would kill you. As you can see, Puff and I played together with Photoshop for a little while.

We found this example of opal in the mineral section of the museum (another photo you can tell I doctored up a bit). I didn't notice till I was doctoring it up that it almost looks as if someone etched a picture of a person doing Tai Chi into the rock. Oh c'mon, use your imagination! :P

This picture here is proof that Russ and I were at the museum together!

We were trying to get a photo of us together with the head of the triceratops in the background, but I guess our plan didn't really work out. But at least you almost can't tell that I'm the one holding the camera. :D

Because our first triceratops picture didn't work out, Russ took a picture of me posing with it. I was trying to give triceratops bunny ears, but instead it looks more like I'm trying to pick his nose. Incidentally, scientists now think that triceratops had those three horns less for protection against predators, and more as anchors to support muscles used for chewing. Whatever the reason for the horns, triceratops was one of my favorite dionsaurs when I was a little kid.

And here's Russ, reading about my other favorite dinosaur - Steggy! I like how the Museum of Natural History displays a model of the whole dinosaur alongside its skeleton, posed in the same manner. Although there are some exhibits, like the stegosaurus one, where scientists have two differnt theories about how a particular dinosaur would stand, so they use the skeleton and the model to demonstrate both positions.

And probably the most amazing thing I learned at the Museum of Natural History is that in way way way way way way way way way way way-back time, there were flying turtles! Just look at this guy! I swear he was at least 20 - 25 feet off the ground! Who wouldda thunk? ;)

The dinosaurs and the ancient sea critters were the last of the very many exhibits we went to see today. Tired, feet hurting, and heads full of all kinds of groovy information that we are (well at least I am) unlikely to retain, we made our way out of the museum, saving its other great halls of natural history for another visit. Natural history as well as human history... somebody please tell me why there are whole halls of African and Asian (and probably other) cultural artifacts in the Museum of Natural History when they seem like they belong in a different museum? Not that I really care... just wondering if this is born of some PC-ness?

Anyway... The End!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My First Flash Movie :)

The last couple of days I've been playing with Illustrator and Flash. I made a little mooovie. :) Um, it's not set to loop because that would be annoying. If you missed the action, refresh the page. ;)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Mission Impossible, Day 2

Disregarding what seems to be conventional wisdom when it comes to potty-training cats, I decided to take my kitties to the next step in the process. The web sites I read on the subject suggest giving the kitties a few days or a week to get used to each step. However, Spammy and Musubi seem to take to change fairly well, so this morning I thought we'd move the litterbox on top of the toilet. Plus, I didn't want them to get too used to drinking the toilet water!

Spammy and Musubi appear to be taking well to the litterbox's new elevation. I also gave them a little stepping stool to help them climb in and out of it comfortably.

For this step, I think I will stick with conventional wisdom, and give the kitties a few days to get used to climbing up to go potty. :)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mission Impossible? (a.k.a. yet another cat post...)

Yesterday morning we noticed that Spammy's ears looked pink, and they felt warm, at least compared to Musubi's. But he was acting normal, so we didn't think too much about it.

Today I had a little time so I tried researching on the web about cats having warm ears, to see if it's a symptom of anything (his ears aren't warm anymore though). Anyway, I didn't find anything, but I did come across a funny site for cats called No, I didn't sign Spammy or Musubi up for a Catster account! However, I did look around for a while, and found a Catster forum thread about potty training your kitty. So that inspired me to give it a try, and blog our progress haha!

Day 1

It just so happens that our cellar has a little toilet room in it (no sink, just a toilet). How handy is that for potty training your cats? So today, we moved kitties' litterbox from its usual spot in the cellar to a space right beside said toilet. If you look carefully, you can see that one kitty has already taken to the litterbox's new location, while the other kitty has taken to drinking from the toilet! (For those of you who don't already realize this, you can click on the picture to see a larger version of it.)

I hope they don't decide they can't go potty in that toilet because they'd rather drink out of it. To be continued...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Spam Torture

So I mentioned in a previous post that little Spammy got ringworm. We think he got it from the shelter, because on the day we picked him up, there was a cat there in a quarantine cage that had the fungus. I guess it took a while before Spammy became symptomatic. Fortunatley Musubi seems to be resistant, as well as Russ and me!

Although it's been several weeks since we began treating Spammy for ringworm, the vet says we still need to give him baths two times a week, for at least a couple weeks after the signs of ringworm have all gone away.

So like the good little cat-mommy I am, I thought I'd embarrass poor Spammy by sharing his misery with the whole world, or at least the small sliver of it that bothers to read my blog. Poor li'l guy hates hates hates getting a bath, but when all is said and done, he still loves me afterwards, as you can see from this photo where he's helping me play puzzle just a few hours later. :)