cats · Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Housekeeping · Pre Planning Your Scene

TASK STACKING

Eaton Rapids Joe, proprietor of the eponymous blog, must have been an engineer in a previous life. (and, I must have been dyslexic in my previous life, as the previous 5 words, pre-auto correct, read “enbgineer in a previous lidfe.”. Sheesh! I scare me!)

In any event, I seem to recall he once explained the concept of “tolerance stacking”. As I recall, however imperfectly, the concept might translate into, say, a rifle trigger pack, wherein one would take Part One, at it’s maximal permissible dimension(s), and add it to Part Two, similarly pushing the boundaries of out-of-spec-large, and add that assembly to Part Three, (ditto), until, finally, you had, say, a trigger pack, each part in spec, yet the assembly would not function, or else would not fit into the firearm at all.

Not so very long ago, I was reminded of that when TDW-Mark II assigned me (or, maybe, I was voluntold….) the task of cleaning the piles from the dining room table. I confronted the concept of “task stacking”.

To be honest, I had several probably 12-18 inch tall piles (more about that, in a moment…) of papers, magazines (the literary kind), boxes, and assorted whatnot, that (a) I had NOT addressed appropriately, (b) in any sort of timely manner, and (c) that TDW had, at long last, grown weary of seeing.

Along the way, may I observe that I share my home with several cats? And that cats are Agents Of Entropy? My appraisal is that cats are genetically incapable of viewing an organized stack, of whatever sort of stuff, and of whatever degree of righteous organization, without feeling the overwhelming need to Tear! It! Down!.

Of course, having several days off in a row, I was, well, “willing” probably overstates my enthusiasm for this task. Still, it will do. So, I was “willing” to address this problem, but I needed to have a space to take the stack-du-jour, in order to unstack it, triage each component, and then address same.

That meant establishing subsidiary stacks, one of trash (simple: stack same in the…wait for it!…trash can!), one of things to be shredded, and one of other, kind of valuable, things. That last stack would then be the subject of a re-triage, and once suitably thinned, put away.

This process was to be repeated, until the dining room table had my computer, and one (SMALL) stack of whatever needed to be addressed in the next couple of days. And, nothing else of my bullshit.

Well, in order to accomplish THAT task, I had to clear the table in the kitchen, that had, itself, become home to (yes, he admitted, embarrassingly) several stacks of things awaiting disposition to the garage, the trash, or other longer term, somewhat organized, rest.

The trash component, here, was simpler, due to being closer to the trash can, after all. The put-this-crap-away-somewhere-not-the-kitchen-table task, elicited it’s own task-stack, as my imaginings of organized stowage in the basement, required that there be horizontal surfaces, in that basement, that were unoccupied.

Do you, as well, see a pattern here?

So, I thinned the herd of bullshit in the basement, and changed the trash can. I imposed some modest organization in that basement, and then found homes, however transiently, for the keep-this-crap-just-not-on-the-kitchen-table items.

I shredded much of the shred-able stuff, and changed the trash can. Again.

I eventually had emptied the kitchen table, which I then re-filled with dining room table stuff.

Rinse and repeat.

So, it turns out that I am not the only pile challenged soul. I get several days off in a row, that follows a stretch of many 12 and 10 and 8 hour shifts. When I am in the midst of my duty week, well, my ambitions do not particularly exceed “get up and get around”, “get to work”, and do the above in accordance with my employer’s expectations (that is, on time). So, being a geezer, after a 12 hour shift, I get home, graze a bit, and turn in.

I had requested TDW to thin the herd of home chores, so that I might kill of the remainder on my first day off, then to laze away the rest of my stretch of off days.

Hard fail. She injured her foot (neither of us has any clue how. It hurts, that limits her mobility, and that mobility is kind of mission critical to things like putting away the dishes, moving the laundry along, and so forth. In addition to nurse-maiding an ailing dog and ailing cat)(can’t say we don’t know how to have good times!)

Being the loving husband that I am, I offered to heat and deliver some supper to her.

Task stack. Be nice if I washed my hands.

Which would be helped by access to the sink.

Which would be facilitated by loading the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, thereby emptying the sink.

Which would be easier, from a no-two-objects-may-occupy-the-same-space perspective, it the dishwasher were to be emptied, and the clean dishes put away.

Which, aesthetically, ought to be performed by clean hands.

Which required soap and water, currently unavailable due to the mosh pit of our sink.

Which inspired my present blog post.

After the dish part of the foregoing had been accomplished.

Finishing the dining room table is Tomorrow’s Task.

cats · Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Uncategorized

Kitten Tales, Part VII

So, TINS…. OK, this is not another firehouse/”sea story”. I was lolling around the house one evening, and TDW-Mark II came to me, cradling our petite, mostly white (well, most of the time…) cat, Trixie. Said cat appeared to have settled herself, right side first, into an ash pile.

This was concerning, since when the kittens had first joined our household, four of them had taken to exploring our heatilator style fireplace. Said explorations were made considerably easier (for the kittens) due to the fact that one of the grates, in place specifically to prevent such explorations, had become loose. TDW-Mark II had (a) noticed that the kittens were not accounted for, and, after a frenzied search, (b) had noticed that one of the older cats, Max, had, pointer style, settled in in front of one of the fireplace warm air outlets. When she (TDW) investigated Max’s pointing, she discovered four grimy, meowing, kittens, noses pressed against the grate.

She removed that grate, and extricated the kittens. They were brushed off, and pranced away, none the worse for wear. Since I believe that too much of a good thing is just about enough, we expoxied the offending grate back in place, replaced the unscrewed-so-we-could-extricate-kittens grate, and placed the fireplace screen in a closet, and backed a piece of furniture against the opening for the fireplace, after placing a large sheet of cardboard over the opening.

Remember that cardboard bit.

So, Trixie’s ashen demeanor elicited some concern that other cats might have taken up spelunking. A hurried cat census revealed that everybody was accounted for, and the only problems remaining were cleaning Trixie, and more effectively securing the fireplace.

Inspection revealed that the cardboard had been bowed, producing a kitten sized sort of funnel devolving into the fireplace. Well, THAT was a permanent fix! Worked fine, as well!

Second things first. I retrieved a sheet of plywood (now, kiddies, once upon a time, mere mortals could afford this thing called “lumber”. Indeed it was so inexpensive that folks built entire houses out of the stuff! In a manner similar to the query, how did Californians light their houses prior to using candles? Electricity!) I placed this sheet in front of the fireplace, between the cardboard and the opening, and wedged it in place with that furniture I spoke of 3 paragraphs ago.

TDW-Mark II had determined that Trixie T. Cat had a bath in her future. Golly, I was so, so, soooo looking forward to that!

Fortunately, Trixie had previously decided that she needed to supervise my med passes, as well as my shaving and my tooth brushing. In the process, she would bat at the stream of water coming from the faucet, then licking her paw as if in surprise at that wet stuff appearing thereon. And, repeat. So, the water-running-in-the-sink thing did not concern her. She was even relatively copacetic with the run-warm-water-over-the-kitten part.

Not such a fan of the baby-shampoo-on-the-kitten part. Pro Tip! If you have occasion to bathe a cat, even such a placid cat as Trixie, bathe said cat with DROPLETS of baby shampoo, NOT streams. That latter initiative will lead to a prolonged period of cat rinsing, and, well, cats have a limited desire to play in the water. Particularly when said water is all over them. Trixie rapidly reached the part of our tale wherein she declaimed “Let me the fook out of here! I. AM. DONE. HERE!”

That is the bad news. The good news is that she articulated this complaint with pushing at us with her paws, claws retracted. Good on’er for the retracted part!

Soon, we had rinsed the shampoo from her, and wrapped her up in a bath towel, halfway drying her. Another towel, and she was as dry as we were going to get her.

We released her, and she walked away, pausing from time to time to shake one leg or another, as if to shake the remaining water off. She still looked bedraggled, but considerable less sooty.

By the following morning, between her own cleaning efforts, and grooming from her siblings, she was nearly entirely clean. And dry.

cats · Fun And Games Off Duty · Life in Da City!

SNIPPETS PART IV

I hope that nobody is surprised to learn that, since The Un-Named Fly-Over State is in the northern tier of states, it snows here in the winter (And the fall. And the spring.) That has been the case for certainly the past nearly 70 years that I have been here. Therefore I would hope that my neighbors would have figured that shit out, by now.

On the other hand, there is abundant evidence that my hope in this matter is misplaced.

So, TINS, TIWFDASL…well, OK, I was driving in to work one snowy winter day in order to begin my day of FDASL. I was listening to the amateur radio in my vehicle, and monitoring the county’s fire department dispatch. No ill tidings from that front.

I did notice a car off the road, into the ditch, but I figured that the county deputy already on the scene had things well in hand.

So, there I was, listening to the FM radio, and waiting for any alarming traffic on the HAM radio, when I saw this guy, no shit, skate his compact pickup truck completely across the 3 lanes of expressway traffic, having apparently originated from the on ramp. My guess was that he had entered the ramp at speed that was excessive for the conditions. (did I mention that it had snowed the preceding night? Well, it had. Likely had something to do with the other guy in the ditch.)

Anyhow, once he reached the median shoulder, he started to wifferdill his way along that shoulder, inching his way into the median’s ditch. He did manage to stay upright, so, that was nice…..

The thought crossed my mind, “coefficient of friction: words to live by!”

@@@Snippet The Second@@@

You may recall my tales of cat-herding (Farming? Wrangling?). In any event, one of the cats had a recurring conjunctivitis, such that our local vet voiced concern regarding the potential of a ruptured globe (eyeball breach, with vision-destroying loss of the fluid-vitreous and aqueous humor that is within the eyeball), versus a vision damaging occurrence of scars on the (supposed to be) clear portion of the eyeball.

So, we arranged an appointment with a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Of course, this doctor practiced in an office something like three counties over from our home. Of course, on the appointed day, it was a balmy 33 degrees (f), and could not decide to snow, rain, sleet, or what.

Fun times.

I learned on this trip, that driving Trixie T. Cat anywhere, was very much akin to driving your small, furry, outspoken, elderly, mother-in-law somewhere. I was the recipient of a running series of corrections, spoken (of course) in Cat, that likely would have sounded like “You’re driving too fast!”, “You’re driving too slow!”, “Why can’t you stay in one lane?” (this as I signaled, eased over into the -clear-adjacent lane, and in the course of doing so, ran over the ridge of slush built up between the lanes. So the truck jerked.), “Why aren’t we there yet?”, and the ever popular, “Where the hell are you taking me? I don’t want to go there! Let me out of this damned cat carrier!”

That is, would have sounded like that, if I spoke Cat.

As you might imagine, first off, back seat driving is oh, so very welcome at any time at all. Secondly, such corrections are even more welcome when the driving is, oh, gosh, I dunno, HAZARDOUS! Thirdly, let me take a moment to congratulate TDW-Mark II. She successfully suppressed her baseline impulses to shriek, gasp, or otherwise demonstrate her appreciation of her/our impending DOOM! Probably figured that the cat had that well covered.

cats · Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

KITTEN TAILS PART VI

So, TINS, TIWFDASL….we, uh, no, I was NOT Fighting Disease And Saving Lives, rather, I was at home while TDW-Mark II recovered from surgery. (Thankfully, minor. Well, “Minor” from my perspective. I’m pretty cure that, for whoever goes under anesthesia and awakens with sutures and re-arranged body parts, ain’t no such thing as “minor” surgery!)

In any event, on my multiple rounds on TDW, I noted that there appeared to be two, or three, cats perched upon the bed. Should one depart, one would take station. The others would eat, play, loll about: typical cat stuff. The two, or three, “on watch” all appeared to gaze upon her, that is, if they were not snuggled up against her. Just as if they were, indeed, “on watch”.

Olivia appeared to be the one constant watch-stander. She was perched upon TDW’s pillow, and did not seem to move. Others would appear to rotate in and out, but Olivia was pretty constantly there.

When she (TDW) was up and about the next day, she commented about it. “Every time I opened my eyes, one or more of the cats was there, looking at me. I felt as if I had a couple of private duty, furry little nurses!”

Then she reminisced. “remember that time you had your GI bleed? The two dogs, and all three cats (at one time, my cat crazy was under better control….) were settled in all around you! They would only leave to eat, drink, and go. Then, they were right back.”

At that time, we developed the McFee Critter Triage System: if one animal is sleeping with you, that’s normal stuff.

If two of them, well, likely normal, perhaps not.

If three of them, The Spouse needs to take a closer look at things: it ain’t raht!

Four? When is your doctor appointment?

Both dogs, and all three cats? Call dispatch. It might take some explaining (“Ma’am? Did you just tell me that your emergency is that all five animals are sleeping on the bed with your husband? I…I..don’t understand..?”), but Bad Things are at hand. Do Not Dally.

Fortunately, TDW-Mark II recovered uneventfully.

cats · Fun And Games Off Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

KITTEN TAILS, PART V

We have a couple sets of cats that closely resemble each other. Momma Kitty, Max, and Oliver are all alike enough, that a second (or third) glance is required, sometimes, to discern which cat is (on the cat tree)(trying to excavate the bag of Cat Chow)(teasing Little One). Similarly, Olivia and her sister/littermate Henrietta are nearly identical. To remedy this IFF (Identify Freaking Feline) problem, TDW-Mark II thought that should Cat “A” be wearing a red collar, and Cat “B” be wearing a blue collar, the IFF problem would be eased.

One of the younger kittens was not altogether “down”, as the kids say, with the collar thing. Oh, he allowed TDW to place it upon him, but, he is but a kitten, and thought, it seemed, that it required adjustment, and indeed required adjustment BY HIM.

Good News: He did so during “sick call” one evening, and, since he had managed to get it entangled with his lower jaw, and, being a kitten, promptly freaked the frack out in his efforts to get his mouth clear of the collar (which, of course, constitutes The Bad News), well, I tackled him, TDW disentangled him, I soothed, and cooed, and settled him, and he appeared none the worse for the experience.

Subsequently, we concluded that more careful collar fitting would allow IFF without the risk of getting his jaw trapped by a partially removed collar, and therefore we assumed (yep, THAT word, again!) he would be safe wearing a collar.

Remember that thought.

So, TINS, TIW sleeping my ass off, when my alarm went off, on a day off. I awakened, turned off the alarm, and stumbled into the kitchen, to start the coffee.

I am not particularly bright, but I did recognize that the blood spread over an area of my kitchen floor approximately 2 feet x 3 feet, was not normal. Once I noted what appeared to be kitty foot prints therein, and saw bloody kitty pawprints on my counter, I assumed that one of the cats had cut his/her foot on Ghawd Alone knows what, and some further assessment was needful.

Since several cats sleep on the bed, in rotation, I started there. I saw a couple of bloody paw prints on the bed, and therefore determined that there was no dog injured since none of the dogs could get onto the counter, nor off/on the bed. None of the cats on the bed had injuries to their paws (remember THAT bit, as well!), and I enlisted TDW to assist in further cat triage.

Now, my Darling Wife is a lovely woman, kind and loving. She has NOT worked ER, has NOT worked Da City as a medic, and otherwise has led a rather sheltered life. So, when she entered the kitchen in search of un triaged cats, well, the blood on the floor caught her attention.

Indeed, it immobilized her. Her words were, and I quote, “Oh My God! Oh! My! God!”

Being accustomed to seeing large quantities of blood in my workplaces, I was less distracted, and so suggested, “Honey? Perhaps it would be helpful if we identified which cat is the source of this blood, and then assessed that cat for nature and depth of injuries? Please?”

She found Oliver, and identified the lacerations on his mouth. Fortunately, they were not bleeding on our assessment, and he appeared un freaked out (good on him!). We removed (and discarded) the collar in question, and started to assess his lacerations progress at every med pass.

He has healed up nicely, and appears unfazed by his adventure.

cats · Fun And Games Off Duty

KITTEN TAILS, PART IV

As it develops, when you have a herd (or, is it “a flock of cats”? I am not sure…) of cats, when one develops conjunctivitis, well, EVERYBODY goes along for the ride. Therefore, should your Mark I, Mod Ø Stretcher Ape attempt to medicate the sick cats, well, THAT leaves a reservoir of untreated, and, it seems, soon-to-be-infected cats. Reminiscent of a circle jerk, of sorts.

So, TDW-Mark II came to the realization that, should sick call include all the cats, there would remain no susceptible population to serve as a next stop for the Train O’ Pink Eye that appeared to be making the rounds.

Loyal Readers likely have already recalled the “sick call” nature of such an adventure. She and I would corral a couple of kittens, medicate them, provide canned cat food as a treat, and then open the bathroom door, planning to hunt down, corral, and carry away to the bathroom, the next contestants. There, to medicate and treat (in both senses of the word) those cats, and then repeat until no unmedicated cats remained.

Well, we would open the door, and the most recent contestants would ease their way out, and, par miracle!, two more would saunter in, as if to say, “I say, old fellow: I had heard that there were treats to be had? Could you help a fellow out?”

With this as a backdrop, we had assumed that Reluctant Cat would be cool with his turn at antibiotic-ointment-in-the-cat’s-eyes. You all do remember how to spell “Assumed”, amirite?

Yep. Reluctant Cat abruptly forgot the entire “cooly saunter into the bathroom/clinic” thing, and decided that what I really, really needed, was a venotomy on my dominant wrist. (since he did not have either a IV catheter, nor thumbs with which to manipulate it, he couldn’t have been thinking that I needed an IV, anyway.)

BAD NEWS: I am on blood thinners.

GOOD NEWS: He really had a crappy angle on my radial vein. Plus, in a display of reflexes that I have not demonstrated since I was in my twenties, I snatched my hand away just prior to the letting of blood could really get into full swing. As it happened, I only sustained a couple of fairly superficial scratches, which stopped bleeding after, oh, maybe a half an hour or so.

As for Reluctant Cat, well, HE went into the bag, head exposed, got his med, got his treat, and got shown the (bathroom) door.