Monday, October 29, 2012

Cats Will Roam

I have been fascinated of late by the Roxster's walking companions. Some of the "outside" cats, mostly JayJay, Jeffery and Basil, but sometimes Shaking Stevens, Kitten, Juliet, Brittney, Basil2, and Nameless 1 and 2 like to accompany us on our walks. Since black(and white)roxyo was diagnosed with OCD (not that OCD, although she has a touch of that as well, but rather Osteochondritis Dissecans - a joint problem that will need surgery, there will be much more on this in the future I am sure) we have been keeping her walks short. Basically through the park and around the block. I am usually accompanied by at least one or two of the cats. This sparks all sorts of comments from various bystanders. From those that panic and move quickly out of the way lest an "unclean" animal touch them (usually religious) to the often repeated comment that if cats and dogs can get on perhaps peace with our cousins is possible.

So I got to thinking, how far do these cats wander on their own. They will not cross the road at the far end of the park, but will walk all around the circular area and follow us behind the house. It seems that someone at the University of Illinois did a two year study for their master thesis. He fitted 42 cats with radio collars and traced their movements. House cats roamed on average over a territory of 4.9 acres (about 20 dunams in Israel) while feral cats covered a whopping average of  388 acres (1570 dunams), with one covering an enormous 1359 acres. Now our cats are neither house nor completely feral, but they seem to feel comfortable following us for at least 500 meters in any direction.

Another interesting fact this study uncovered is that house cats only spend 3% of their time in "high-intensity" activities with 17% of their time spent in "low-intensity" - this means they sleep 80% of their lives away - not really news for any cat owner. Feral cats on the other hand spent 23% of their time in "low-intensity" and 14% of their time highly active. Not that much when you consider they need to track and catch food.

BRXo loves her cats. She is friends with all the outside cats. Inside, Nancy still regards her with a look of disdain as if she was something dragged on the bottom of a shoe, and Syd just has no time for such trivia - he has his quota of 80% sleeping to fill. Here is some youtube video for those who really have nothing to do: Roxy and Basil and Roxy and Jeffery. We are such proud parents.

On another note, the outside cats are just so not interested in the "Cat Motel" I built. So sad.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Brief bit of Archaeology

It's time for a short break in my daily life - three days digging with the Weizmann Institute at Megiddo. It is always great, as it's a good time spent with smart people. So it's up early in the morning tomorrow and off to the Tel, then two nights sleeping at the Kibbutz before I head back to civilization for a busy Wednesday and Thursday at the salt mines.

Yesterday, the boy and I headed off to Jerusalem. I was invited to give an presentation about archaeology to a group of fifth and sixth graders at JAIS (The Jerusalem branch of the American School).  It went off rather well. They all loved the stories about finding the burials this last season. Nothing like pictures of bones and skulls to get kids engaged. One kid even asked for my autograph (he obviously had me confused with someone important).

This brief bit of archaeology in my otherwise technology busy life is a good way to keep me focused on what matters in the big picture. I am fortunate to have a way to disconnect and pity those who don't. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Saki Kaki

People you have to bear with us. Our lives revolve around our Roxy at the moment. She was spayed on Sunday, and came home all quite and hurting. She is much better today, but we have a bit of a crisis in the neighborhood. We have been out of Saki Kakis for a while. These are the little doggie doo pickup bags that are posted all around the area. Someone must have come a while back and swiped a bunch (probably those miserable Kfar Saba dog owners) because one day there were plenty and then there were none.

Early this morning out walking the R girl (brxo, bro just sounds too familiar  we met a young kid sadly looking at a large steaming pile of shit left by his dog. "There are no saki kakis", he sighed. I was so impressed by his civic-mindedness that I immediately whipped out one of my spare bags and presented it to him ("be prepared" is my motto). I then promptly called 107 the Raanana Moked (emergency services) and asked why we have no Saki Kakis and could they arrange to replenish the dispensers. I am pleased to say that this evening, when out walking brxo I noticed all the Saki Kaki dispensers were once again full to bursting (see attached figure). Life is good again.

Monday, October 8, 2012


I received my overseas ballot for the US elections last week. I got rather pissed off with bso over the fact that even though he was following the US elections closely, he had no intention of voting ("They are both useless"). I gave him the whole spiel about people dying for the opportunity to vote, and how it is a privilege and an obligation and not something to take lightly. I explained that along with the presidential election, there are a host of other issues at stake, like the senate race in California (as well as the Santa Clara Board of Education Trustee Area 1).  Surprisingly he was convinced ad said he would look into registering (he has a few days left, and we will see whether it is all talk).

All that said, I began researching who I should vote for. The big ticket races are no problem, its all the smaller offices and measures that cause grief (like should I vote for insurance companies to base prices on driver's history, and other California state and county measures that are never clear and figuring out who is behind these is always tricky). So I did my civic duty, searched and researched and decided. I filled in my ballot and was happy to see I could fax it into the Registrar of Voters for the County of Santa Clara. This is where the real issues began.

There is no way the ballot pages (two huge double sided sheets) fit in any fax machine. Even scanning them takes three scans per page and I am sure the Registrar of Voters for Santa Clara County is busy enough without having to piece together 12 scanned pages to understand my ballot. It's all rather 80% of California. I seems I will have to go find a post office on this Kibbutz that now houses squint central and actually post the dammed thing. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Producers vs. Consumers

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. My brother says there are two types of people "Hunters and Gatherers", but I have come to believe the two categories are more like "Producers and Consumers". I have always strived for Production, and recently realized the reason I'm so down is that I have been languishing in far too much Consumption (excuse the use of Capitals, it seemed right). Once I used to make model airplanes, I made furniture, guitars, wrote code, wrote papers, cut salad even wrote a blog post from time to time. Lately I have just been watching the Dog Whisperer and reading any kind of crap I can find, and it's getting me down, I can tell you. We have had all this delicious vacation and all I have to show for it is 10000 steps a day with the dog and an ever growing "Read" folder on my Kindle.

Well it has got to change. I started building a "Cat Hotel" (what is it with the Caps and "Quotes" today) to house the tens of strays that live outside in the cold, which perhaps will arrive eventually.  It's basically a renovated sideboardy thing that I am weatherproofing, but it's a project none the less. I am already feeling better, I will keep you posted.