Sunday, December 28, 2008

They Blinded Me With Science!

Introducing our current batch of foster kittens!

These four boys and one girl were found by nice lady in Northern Illinois who called Kindred Kitties and we got them.
This is our second batch of black & white kittens in a row.
As I have mentioned several times in the past, it's sometimes hard to name kittens, but not this time.
As soon as the kittens got here and we let them out, they were tearing around the rooms exploring. One of them found the plastic ring with the ball inside of it and was spinning around and around so fast I was worried he would create a black hole. He was instantly dubbed "Fermi". I looked to my right and saw another boy playing with a small stuffed monkey and he became "Darwin". The other three quickly acquired the names of other famous scientists - hence the last video post :)

This is Marie who we named after the Polish chemist and physicist Marie Curie. Marie is almost totally black, with only white hairs in her ears. Two sisters, aged 15 and 16, from Kenosha pooled their Christmas money and adopted Marie on December 27th from Petco. Marie's last name is now Schultz.

This is Einstein who we named after the German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein.
He is the most fearless member of the family, first up on the sink, first jumping onto the dresser, first out the door into the loft to visit with Wooster and Sunshine and Gitana. He has a lightning bolt shaped white mark down the center of his back.

This is Pasteur, named after the French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur. Louis Pasteur is best known to the general public for inventing a method to stop milk and wine from causing sickness - this process came to be called pasteurization. This was a very important discovery for kittens too!

Einstein and Pasteur were both adopted by our friends Pete and Julie on December 28th.

From left: Julie, Osty (aka Pasteur), Pete, Lynx (aka Einstein)

The other two kittens have not gotten permanent homes yet but are showing no signs of being in a hurry to leave.

Fermi, named after Enrico Fermi, the Italian physicist most noted for his work on the development of the first nuclear reactor is a very laid-back kitten with a huge purr. He follows me around whenever I am in the room.

Darwin aka Monkey Cat is named after Charles Darwin the English naturalist who first realised and demonstrated the process of natural selection, which has lead to the modern evolutionary theory. Darwin is a climber who spends his time either sitting on top of the dressers or on the kitty condo staring out the window watching the birds.

Both Darwin and Fermi will be at the Kenosha Petco this Saturday and Sunday and will be available for adoption for a tax-deductible contribution of $80 for one or $120 for both!

Update 1/3/2009
Darwin got adopted today!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

She Blinded Me With Science!

And now a blast from the past!
From the depths of the 80s....

Thomas Dolby's 1982 Top 5 Hit

You can listen to another great version of this song by New England Folk Singer Bill Parsons here.

Why am I posting this? Check back soon!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Current conditions per the Weather Channel

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day!

It snowed today.
*A Lot*
Michelle got home from work about 2:30am and shoveled the driveway and by the time we went out this morning at 7 you could not tell she had done anything.
So we shoveled half of the driveway - enough to get my little Kia Spectra 5 out to the street, which took about 1/2 an hour.
I backed out and got stuck in the middle of Sunshine Lane, but was able to rock back and forth and get going again.
I went around the corner, down the block and was making the second turn and got stuck so bad in the middle of the intersection that I called Michelle to come down and help me out.
The Spectra was too light and too low to travel without it being plowed.
At this point I decided to not go to work today which is probably the first time weather has stopped me since I was living in Hales Corners - roughly '92 or '93.
Then it was 10 below zero with wind chills in the negative 30s and my car would not start for 3 days, even with a new battery.
After I shoveled the car out today with the help of a nice lady who had a snow blower we got the Spectra 5 turned around and back to the garage.
The plows came through about 11:30 so I ate lunch, went out and shovelled again and hit the road around 12:30.
I made it to Rockwell at 1:45, a trip that normally takes about 30 minutes.
I put in 4 hours and came home and had to shovel again and will be heading out shortly to shovel a 4th time today so Michelle can get in easier after work.
I'll try and take some pictures of the piles of snow and post them tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Look Who's 1!

Gitana Marcella Laycock, born 7/07/2007

Our little girl, all grown up and is officially a cat and no longer a kitten.

Her birthday was yesterday, but between me cooking the birthday dinner (Tortilla-encrusted Tilapia, Shoepeg corn, Spanish Rice, non-alcoholic Peach wine and then yellow cake with chocolate frosting with vanilla ice cream for the humans and a *WHOLE* can of tuna for Gitana) and then trying to take her official birthday portrait (I might post some of the outtakes later) and then a thunderstorm rolling in, I did not get a chance to post this last night.
You can read more about Gitana here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Kitten Update 6/4/08

Just a quick update:

Magnolia (the mom) and Livia (the kitten) are both doing fine.

Livia has started eating the "Baby Cat" dry kitten food which is for kittens 1-4 months old.
She has mostly figured out how to drink water, but still dunks her face in like she is bobbing for apples.

Livia is driving her mom crazy, as she has figured out how to climb up to the second level of the condo, so the "dairy bar" is always open. She also has taken to jumping on her Magnolia's tail.

Livia will soon have other kittens to play with as we are getting another foster family and will be babysitting Karen and Darin's pure-bred kittens while they are on their Alaska Cruise.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kitten Update 5/27/08

Here are the names we finally decided on, all from a road map of Kentucky we have.

Mom is Magnolia.
Little Boy #1 is Lexington (Lex)
Little Girl #1 is Livia.
Little Boy #2 who passed away last week would have been Louisville.
Little Girl #2 was Cynthianna but she got sick and died last Saturday.

Right now the condo is in our Computer Room because it is going to drop down into the 30s tonight!
(Who decided to skip from Spring to Fall?!?!!?)

Little Lex is not doing so well, he is showing some of the same signs - losing weight, not nursing, messy eyes, breathing through his mouth - that his brother and sister did.
We are giving him some of the Clavamox we are dosing Magnolia with for her sneezing and have started hand feeding him KMR formula, hoping for a better outcome with him.
He is definitely perking up as we give him the KMR,squirming and meowing at Michelle, so everybody keep their fingers crossed!

Edit 5/28/08: Unfortunately little Lex was not strong enough and he passed away this morning.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Woo Hoo! I'm an Early Reviewer again!

I got another email from LibraryThing today!

"Congratulations. You've snagged an Early Reviewers copy of Dragon Forge: The Draconic Prophecies, Book 2 by James Wyatt.You should get your copy in the mail shortly. The publishers ship the books directly--some are speedier than others, so please be patient!

We hope you find the time to read the book and review it on LibraryThing. You are free--indeed encouraged--to put your review on your blog, or wherever else you want, and to talk about it in the Early Reviewers group. I want to repeat that, although writing a review will help your chances of getting more books, the actual content of your review will not.

We hope you like the book! Let me know if you have any questions.


Here is the link to Wizard's of the Coast's description of the book.

I really should post my reveiw of the first book I got which I have about 85% written :)
Watch for it this weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kitten Update 5-21-08

Another day of Highs and Lows on the kitten front.

Low: Last night little Hero passed away.
The veterinarian did some tests on her and determined that she had caught a virus and she was not strong enough to fight it off. She did test negative for Distemper so we do not have to worry about her siblings or any of the other cats in the house.

High: Beatrice and Benedick were both adopted over the weekend and have permanent homes.

High: We found out the story behind the Kentucky babies.
There is a Humane Society in Kentucky with a large number of dogs and cats that they could not take care of. They were going to have to start putting the excess animals to sleep so the word went out on the no kill animal shelter network that the animals were available. A Kindred Kitties volunteer drove down to Kentucky and picked up 5 mother cats that were pregnant or had recently had their litters and drove them back to Kenosha. Our new set is one of those rescued families.

High: We have decided to be name our litter after towns in Kentucky but have not finalized the names yet.
When we do watch this space for the pictures!

Low and High: The two Soccer Kittens Parminder and Keira are going up for adoption on Saturday at Petco. It's great that they are going to their real homes but we sure are going to miss the patter of little paws in our bedroom. I guess 6 cats is a *couple* too many :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Sad with The Fun

Fostering kittens is not all fun.

We noticed last night that one of the little orange boys was not as active as the other three kittens.
This morning he was barely crawling and making low sounds, not quite meows.
Michelle had the day off so she headed to Kindred Kitties' preferred veterinarian but by the time she got there, he was already gone.
The Mom and the other 3 kittens are still doing fine.

We have also heard that little Hero has a temperature and diarrhea and is under the care of a vet.

On a better note, Claudio was adopted this weekend from the Kenosha Petco and is living in his new home.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New kittens have arrived!

Karen and Darin dropped off our new foster family on Sunday night.

Mom is a very long skinny Tortoise Shell cat.
Two daughters are also Torties.
Two sons are orange all over.

She hissed a bit when she got there but I'm sure it's just from the car trips.
She and the kids supposedly are from Kentucky?! I'll report here when I find out more on that story.
By bedtime, when we had to give Mom some Albon to take care of her sneezing, she was all purrs, bumping her head against our hands.
The kids are about 3 weeks old.

None of the five have names yet.

Who stole the Custard?!?!

So Saturday night we went on our standard "Date".
Dinner at Noodles & Company and then out for Custard.
N&C was fine - Pesto Cavatappi with Parmasan Crusted Chicken for me, Japanese Pan Noodels with Beef for Michelle.
We then left for Old Dutch Custard on County Hwy C but when we got there they were closed! And I mean closed as in out of business with a big For Sale sign out front.
Well, we thought, we'll go try Paesano's Custard next to the Racine Airport which we have been meaning to do.
Strike Two! Paesano's is boarded up too.
Well, there's the new ice cream place on 4 Mile Road next to the new butcher.
Strike Three! It's 8:30pm on a Saturday and the lights are off! We didn't even pull into the parking lot to check the hours.

We ended up at Dairy Queen on Hwy. 32 as as we stood in line, it started to rain. Michelle ran for the car but darn it! I wanted a blizzard so I stuck it out.

For our next date we will either go to the Noodles & Company at 27th and Oklahoma which is next to Leon's Custard or the N&C on 76th near Southridge so we can go to Kopp's Custard Stand.

Edit May 27th: I swung past the custard stand on 4 Mile Road and they are still in business, they just close at 8 pm.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hero - Escape Artist

We got a call this afternoon from our friend Karen.
Our set of four kittens were broken up today, with Claudio going to the Kenosha Petco, Beatrice and Benedick headed to PetSmart in Northern IL and Hero went to the Petco in Lake Geneva.
Within 5 minutes of putting Hero into the cage, she figured out how to squeeze through the bars and take off down the aisle!
Karen said that her husband Darin was going to be holding Hero for the rest of the afternoon and Hero showed no problems with complying with that :)

Kitten Update 5/17/08

The "Much Ado" kittens spent their day yesterday with our friend Liz as kitten sitter and then were tested and given their final shots.
Today they will be taken to Petco in Kenosha to find new homes.
If they do not get adopted today or tomorrow they will either go to the Kindred Kitties storefront or to Carolyn's House. Carolyn is the founder of KK.
*But* yesterday when Liz's boyfriend Eric got home from work he appeared to bond with little Claudio. Is there a possible home there? We will see.

Today is cleanup day. We need to clean the vacated Kitty Kondo, as well as the normal weekend mowing, litter duty, vacuuming, laundry, etc etc etc.
We also need to straighten and kitten proof our garage because the next litter is coming! Sunday night our friends and fellow volunteers Karen and Darin and bringing over a mother cat with four kittens for us to take care of for KK.
Karen and Darin are the ones who raise the pure-bred cats whose cat Captain Morgan became a Grand Champion in Asia.
They are going on vacation for a week in June and we will be taking care of one of their purebreds who recently gave birth.

Spring is kitten season!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Naming of Kittens Part 2

As I mentioned in this post it's sometimes hard to name our foster kittens.
After our 5 boys left we got a set of two sisters to watch over.

They were very friendly right from the start but no names came immediately to mind.
Their fur is a light calico underneath with tabby stripes over the top. (Calibbys? Tablicos?)
These are some of the most elegant looking kittens we have had.

We considered naming them for the two sisters from Parent Trap but their names were Sharon and Susan and we have the name Susan reserved for a 3 boy/3 girl litter in the future. (Can anyone guess the TV show?)

Next we thought about the two sisters that sang the song "Sisters" in White Christmas.
"Lord help the Mister, who comes between me and my Sister. And Lord help the Sister, who comes between me and my Man!"
The names of those two characters are Betty and Judy which weren't right either. The names of the two actress are Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, not much better.

The second night in our house we had the girls running around in the bathroom. We brought out our Tub'O'Kitten Toys and gave them their choice. They both instantly grabbed a tiny Koosh Ball and started playing Football with them. (That's Soccer for our American Readers).
We realized they should be named after the heroines of Bend It Like Beckham.
A quick glance showed the two characters were "Jules" and "Jes" which are too similar so we named them after the actresses.

The larger of the two sisters is Keira Knightley. Keira is now best known as "Elizabeth Swan" in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Our Keira is a tough little girl who takes no back talk from the boys in the other litter, wrestling and jumping on them during combined play times.

The smaller sister is Parminder Nagra. Parminder has gone on the star on ER as Dr. Neela Rasgotra.
Our Parminder's nose is actually half light and half dark like in the picture, it's not an optical illusion. She is always eating but is staying small, a very dainty little lady.

These kittens will be with us at least through Memorial Day weekend and will probably be the last that will need to live inside out bedroom suite.
It should be warm enough to set up the Kitty Kondos in the garage by then, and our permanent cats will be happy to be able to sleep with us again.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Obviously not taken today :)

Sad House In Snow
December 30th 2007

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Much Ado About Kittens

The naming of kittens can be a difficult thing.

It took us several days to name the second set of kittens we got this summer. (More about them next post).
We never did come up with names for the first set of 5 little sick boy kittens we took care of.
This third set of kittens were a breeze though!
There are two little boys and two little girls.
One brother & sister are very outgoing and the others are quieter.
We turned once again to the Immortal Bard of Avon for names and picked a set from one of our favorite films "Much Ado About Nothing".

Benedick, the comic male lead of the play was portrayed in the movie by Kenneth Branaugh.
Kenneth has since gone on to star in movie version of Hamlet, Othello, Love's Labours Lost, Wild, Wild West and was Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Our Benedick is a grey tabby with a white tummy and a brown nose.
He is always eating and is growing very rapidly.
He is very possessive of his toys. Whenever another kittens tries to take his he growls just like a tiny tiger.

Beatrice, the comic female lead of play was portrayed by Emma Thompson.
Emma has been in Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually and was Professor Sybil Trelawney in both Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and HP and the Order of the Phoenix.

Our Beatrice is a creamy white kitten.
She is slowly turning darker, though her eyes still appear pinkish in certain lighting.

Claudio, the romantic male lead was played by Robert Sean Leonard, now best known as Dr. James Wilson on House.

Our Claudio is a grey tabby with a white tummy and a pink nose, slightly smaller than his brother Benedick.
Claudio has become a great explorer, being the first kitten to climb the outside of their Kitty Kondo and the first one in the bathtub.

Hero, the female romantic lead was portrayed by Kate Beckinsale.
Since Much Ado she has starred in Serendipity, Pearl Harbor, Van Helsing and both Underworld movies.

Our Hero is a small calico kitten.
She is the quietest and was the most skittish of the four but has become much more friendly in the couple of weeks we have had them.
She loves to bump noses!

These four kittens are now old enough for adoption and will be at the Petco in Kenosha, WI on Saturday and Sunday May 17th and 18th, or you can contact Kindred Kitties or email us: capnfrank AT

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Guess Who's 6!

Bertram Wilberforce Wooster
birthdate : May 1, 2002

Wooster (As he's known to his friends) originally belonged to Frank's co-worker who named him Harley because of his loud purring.
Wooster was getting into trouble at John's house. He was an only cat and he got bored during the day, so he was acting up, chewing on furniture.
He came for a visit to see if he got along with our 3 cats and he obviously did because he is still here!

As Woo has gotten older he has put on a bit of weight and has developed asthma, but he has no problems taking his medicine once a day in a chewy tuna or liver treat and he is doing much better now. He has even stopped snoring!

You can see Wooster's Catster profile here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fun with Cars - Not! Fun with Cats - A Lot!

So Friday night was my regular gaming night. We started a new D&D campaign, this one based in the Dragonlance world. I am playing an Elven Wizard with a cat familiar, like Hermione Granger has in the Harry Potter books. Because it took a long time for everyone to create their characters, I did not get home until after 1 AM.

Gitana was feeling lonely so I had to sit and pet her awhile before bed, so I did not get to sleep until 2 AM.

Saturday morning, Michelle got up and went off to teach a rubber stamp class to a bunch of 4-H kids while I stayed in bed.
I was woken up by the phone ringing less than 30 minutes later around 8:15 AM, although I missed answering the first 3 times it rang!
It was Michelle, who had gotten a flat tire on the way to class and needed me to come give her my car so she could get there while I waited for AAA to come change the tire. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)
I was dressed, gave Jeeves his insulin shot, grabbed breakfast (a granola bar and the Diet Dew), cleaned the gaming stuff out of the car, and was out the door in 12 minutes.
I was very cold and windy for April Saturday morning too.
I only had to wait about 5 minutes or so for the AAA guy to come and he had the tire changed in under 10 minutes.
I drove away on the tiny spare tire but the PT Cruiser was steering very poorly. After 500 feet or so I stopped and found the spare was flat!!!
I put on the hazard lights and waved my arms at the tow truck, which had not left yet.
He told me that that was the first time he had ever had that happen.
He put the PT on his flat bed and drove me and it to the Goodyear store (Richlonn's on Washington Ave.)
Three hours (and one walk to the Piggly Wiggly for a real breakfast) and was on my way home with a new tire.
I stopped to pick up more thyroid medicine for Jeeves and was home about noon.

About 12:30 we got a phone call from Kathy at Kindred Kitties, asking if we could handle a second set of kittens. These four are older than the two we already had. The four are now in the second kitten kondo in the master bathroom and the two girl's kondo has moved into the master bedroom.

Tonight is school picture night at Caledonia Cat Academy so the formal introductions with pictures and names will be coming shortly!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kitten update 4/23/08

After some discussions with Kindred Kitties we are not going to be getting Da Boys back.
When they are a bit better they will be travelling to a home in West Allis where the lady specializes in "problem" kittens.
She will be taking the 5 plus a diabetic kitten that was at a different Kindred foster family.

But because nature (and Kindred) abhors a vacuum we have two new girls already.

Watch this space for more details and pictures!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Local Kitten makes it Big in Asia!

Our friends Karen and Darren raise purebred cats and sent us this email today:

"My first Grand Champion in CFA of my breeding, Murrznpurrz Captain Morgan of Kit. Captain is a Cream Classic Tabby out of CH/PR Crown E Mayflower of Murrznpurrz (Odd Eyed White, Female) - (GC Stedam's Silver Certificate X CH Chanti Aurora of Murrznpurrz) bred to CH Crown E Blue Chip of Murrznpurrz (solid Blue, male) - (CH Stedam's Dressed in Blue X CH Crown E White Heat - White Heat's dam was also CH Chanti Aurora of Murrznpurrz).

Captain was shipped to Hong Kong late in 2006 and started his quest to become a Grand Champion in Asia this year's show season, which was accomplished... Captain was Kit Cattery's first Grand Champion as well and foundation stud. I also understand he was the first Cream Tabby Grand Champion in Asia!

I was very scared to ship overseas but he is well loved & a very cherished (and spoiled member) of their family.

Just had to share...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Kitten update 4/19/08

Kitten update 4/19/08: The kittens are not doing so well.

We got home Friday night and one of the kittens was severely dehydrated and we had to run him over to another volunteer's house for emergency care. She had IV fluids and a hot rock and some other equipment for taking care of very young kittens that we don't have.

Today a couple of the others very dragging so I hand fed them KMR and A/D prescription kitten food.
I was spending about 1/2 hour out of each 2 hour period in the bathroom taking care of the kittens.
They have diarrhea and even though they were eating they were not gaining any weight. We think they might have worms from living outside.
Because we both work and wouldn't be able to give them the care necessary on Monday we have handed them off to Peggy, the other volunteer who is retired and has more time.
When the situation clears up in a week or so, we will getting them back as we have more space at our house than Peggy has in her apartment.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Kitten update 4/17/08

Kitten update 4/17/08: All five kittens are doing fine.

After two days of KMR we have switched them to kitten kibble and kitten canned food.
I do not have any more pictures yet because these are some of the messiest kittens we have had.
They have food all over their faces (and tummies) (and tails) (and paws) and they would be too embarrassed to be seen in public yet.
They should shortly learn how to clean themselves and will be camera ready then.

One of the little grey and white boys has figured out how to climb up the side of the cage and get onto the second level, where he can sit and gaze down on his brothers. He then has to time it just right so he lands on one of them when he jumps off.

In other news I received by free book from the South Dakota Historical Society, which I read this weekend and then will be reviewing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Boys

The 5 new kittens arrived safe and sound yesterday afternoon.
Because it is still so cold out they are living in their cat condo which has been set up in our master bathroom.

They appear to be about a month old and are so small and furry we are not 100% sure but we think they are all boys.

3 grey & white boys and two boys who are mostly white & very very light brownish-grey patches.

They are drinking their KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement) formula from a bowl, but their depth perception isn't well developed yet, so they are all walking around with big milk mustaches.

No name have been chosen yet but the following names have been proposed and rejected:
Henry I, Henry II, Henry III, Henry IV, Henry V
Pikachu, Snorlax, Charmander, Bulbasaur and Meowth
Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Scooter and Animal
George Foreman, George Foreman, George Foreman, George Foreman, George Foreman

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It's Kitten Season!

Our first batch of foster kittens are coming today!

They are being dropped off around 2pm CDT.

All we currently know is that there are 5 of them and no Momma Cat.

Watch this space for more news soon!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Woo Hoo! I'm an Early Reviewer!

When I logged into today I had a private message.

"Congratulations. You've snagged an Early Reviewers copy of Dance in a Buffalo Skull by Zitkala-Sa.You should get your copy in the mail shortly. The publishers ship the books directly--some are speedier than others, so be patient!

We hope you find the time to read the book and review it on LibraryThing. You are free--indeed encouraged--to put your review on your blog, or wherever else you want, and to talk about it in the Early Reviewers group. I want to repeat that, although writing a review will help your chances of getting more books, the actual content of your review will not.

We hope you like the book! Let me know if you have any questions.

private comment posted by ablachly at 10:23 pm (EST) on Apr 10, 200"

Every month or so publishers offer early review copies of books to Library Thing and you can request the one you would like.
I have put in my requests every month and was finally picked!

Here is the description from the ER list:
"Dance in a Buffalo Skull by Zitkala-Sa (South Dakota State Historical Society)

Dance in a Buffalo Skull is a tale of late-night frolics, danger, and survival on the prairie. Join tiny field mice for a great feast and dance inside an old buffalo skull. Out of the dark, two fiery eyes glide through the prairie grass, drawing closer to the mice who are oblivious in their merrymaking. What happens next reveals as much about the mice as about their unexpected guest.

This Prairie Tale recreates a world in miniature, with elements of classic fairy tales and traditional fables, and its messages still resonate today. A traditional American Indian story passed orally from generation to generation, it was translated in English and written down by Zitkala-Sa in 1901.
Contemporary Lakota artist S. D. Nelson has created vibrant pictures that add drama to the story. He fuses traditional Lakota Indian styles with modern interpretations to provide visual clues to ancient words.
"The art blends Lakota tradition and modern styles to match the tall tale and bring it to life."—The Midwest Book Review

"Nelson's illustrations add to the tension between the creeping wildcat and the celebrating mice."—School Library Journal

"The narrative tension builds deliciously . . . This tale would be perfect in a scary story time, told with the lights down low."—School Library Journal

"An enjoyable story faithful to the original legend."—The Midwest Book Review"

When I get the book I will post my review here as well as at Library Thing!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Calvin & Hobbes

My favorite comic strip ever:
Calvin and Hobbes (picture by Bill Watterson)

Calvin and Hobbes (picture by Nina Matsumoto)

Calvin and Hobbes: Magic On Paper is Tim Hulsizer's exhaustive look at all things Calvin and Hobbes.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Guess Who's 8!

Jeeves Alexander Laycock
birthdate: April 7th, 2000
photo taken November 2000

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Make Your Own TV Season!

We don't watch much live television any more.
We had cable but dumped it for DirecTV.
We dropped DirecTV for NetFlix.
Our TV picks up only the local NBC, Fox, ABC and PBS stations - no CBS, CW or WB.
The only cable/satellite channel we miss is BBCAmerica.

The only shows that get regularly watched live are Heroes, Chuck and The Office.
Heroes and Chuck got delayed until the fall season by the writer's strike but The Office returns April 10th!

Thanks to NetFlix and so many TV series coming out on DVD, we have decided to make our own television season.
It's easier to watch one episode during dinner than a whole movie.
We have worked out way through Mr. Bean, Black Adder, Love For Lydia, Monarch of the Glen, and the new Robin Hood.
Shows that started and were cancelled after only one episode include Pink Lady and Jeff (a very bad 70s variety show) and The Mighty Isis.

Our current schedule:
Sunday: Masterpiece Theatre on Disc - currently showing Danger: UXB
Monday: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
Tuesday: unassigned
Wednesday: unassigned
Thursday: The Office (when the new shows start we will watch the current one, then an old episode)
Friday: probably never to be assigned - every other week is Dungeons & Dragons gaming night.
Saturday: Arrested Development

Monday, March 17, 2008

Odds and Ends

Just a quick post with some bits of news from the last couple of weeks.

First Robin of the Spring sighted in Caledonia on Tuesday March 4th

Two of my favorite comic book author/artists passed on this last month.
Steve Gerber, creator of Howard the Duck and the Mysterious Man-Thing died of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 60.
Dave Stevens, creator of the Rocketeer died of leukemia at the age of 52.
The Rocketeer is probably my favorite comic-book adaptation movie as it was very close to the look and storyline of the original. It also has a great soundtrack by James Horner which included arrangements of "When Your Lover Has Gone" and "Begin the Beguine" that WOKY used to play.

Munster's coming to a close!
CompuCom has hired a new person to take over the computer support at Rockwell's Munster facility. She is starting next week so we will both be there March 26th and 27th and then I'm finished!!!!!!!

Vacation? What's that?
I hope to take off the week of April 7th to do stuff around the house, get my car worked on, and possibly have the first meeting of the Shorewood Concert Band board and do this year's Reunion Newsletter. I'll let everyone know soon if this is going to happen.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Larisa's got a home!

Our first foster family of kittens for 2007 arrived on March 17th. A family here in Racine was moving back to Serbia and could not take their female cat, Larisa, who had just given birth to 3 girls and a boy.
Here are the girls: Natasha, Svetlana and Tatiana:

and here is Boris:
Larisa was such a good mother that our friend Karen, a cat breeder, brought over one of her pure-bred kittens to stay and be socialized. He was very small and soon was named "Little Tyke":
After the kittens were grown and adopted Larisa was fixed and went to live in the Kindred Kitties adoption center at Carolyn's House. The volunteers there quickly found out the Larisa does not like other cats, and she was picking on them and getting into fights.
When we heard this we volunteered to let Larisa live in our upstairs Bedroom/Bathroom area where she has been since last September or so.
We have been keeping our sweater boxes on the inside of the door and blankets and pillows on the outside because she would hiss and poke at our cats.
Since we adopted Gitana it has gotten worse, with the 2 of them going at it nearly every morning somewhere between 4 and 6 am!
Michelle has been taking her to Petco and Cat Shows on the weekends to try and find a home where she will be an only cat.
After several possibilities, it has finally worked out.
She is going to be living with a single guy in Kenosha and where she can be the ruler of her own domain!

Good Luck Queen Larisa!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

London Administration Building, Part 2

I have recently started playing with Google Earth again and decided to get a screen shot of last post's building.
There is an arrow pointing to it, with Tower Bridge to the right and the Tower of London to the top.

Monday, March 10, 2008

London Administration Building

This is the City of London's Administration Building, where the Mayor of London has his offices. It is on the South Bank of the Thames, just west of Tower Bridge.

I think this would be a *very* cool place to have an office, with views of the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the HMS Belfast and Big Ben/the Houses of Parliment.

This photo was taken from the observation deck on top of Tower Bridge in January 2005.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Probably the best since 1950

Belgaufra Belgian Waffles

Photo taken Brussels, Belgium, 2003

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spink, founded 1666

Photo taken in London, 2003

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Me and E. Gary Gygax

The coverage of Gary Gygax's death is just amazing to me. Not only are there tributes on all the gaming websites and in several webcomics I have also see stories in the New York Times, on BBC, NPR, Popular, slashdot, and even the Northwest Indiana Times.

My favorite so far has been from the LOLCats:

Gary Gygax Memorial Cat

I think I first became aware of the name Gary Gygax in 1977 when Peter Nelson got the basic "Blue Box" Dungeons & Dragons set from his uncle for Christmas. We spent our traditional New Year's Eve with them and he handed me the box and told me he wanted to play that night and I had to be "DM". I spent an hour or two reading then we five kids started exploring The Keep on the Borderlands. After creating characters they entered the dungeon and after checking every 10 feet for traps they got to the first encounter with a couple of kobolds. I then had to stop the game for about 30 minutes while I tried to figure out how fighting worked!

Here are my original (well used) First Edition books:

This is the title page from the Monster Manual:

Let's zoom in on the lower left corner:

In 1986 my friends and I on the UW-Platteville campus got an official, recognized gaming club started so we could use rooms in the Student Center on the weekends to game in. In 1988 the "Platteville Gamer's Association" held "Plattecon Beta" our second gaming convention, and we had Gary come as guest of honor. I got my book signed but I didn't get to play in the dungeon he ran. I did watch him Dungeon Mastering, which was a lot of fun. I saw him a couple of times at Gen Con over the years, before it moved to Indianapolis from Milwaukee.

So long Gary, and thanks for everything!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just a quick post so Mom won't have to see Godzilla anymore...

Helen Mirren as the Queen

Caption confusion mangles The Queen
By Nick Squires in Sydney
Last Updated: 11:01am GMT 26/02/2008

An Australian showing of the award-winning film The Queen was unwittingly turned into a farce by woefully poor subtitles.

The captions were included because the film was being shown to an audience of the deaf and hard of hearing by a council in Sydney.

But the movie, starring Helen Mirren as the Queen, became a comedy of errors thanks to the oddly rendered captions.

“Buckingham Palace” appeared on screen as “Burking in Paris” while the question “did you vote?” flashed up as “dead in a boat”.

When a character spoke about former prime minister Tony Blair being “educated at Fettes", it appeared on screen as “educated the fattest".

The observation that “every newspaper proprietor has blood on his hands today” became “every newspaper proprietor has blown in his hands today".

The film chronicles the royal family’s struggle to meet public expectations in reacting to the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

The outdoor screening of the film at the weekend was an embarrassment for Ryde Council.

The council’s Derek McCarthy conceded that the captions, produced either by a crude computer translation programme or somebody with only the faintest grasp of English, were bizarre.

“The copy shown did have some spelling mistakes and interpretations of the script which affected the experience for the deaf community present,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Originally posted by The Telegraph.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Godzilla Unleashed!

I have finally decided to wait and see what the @pp1e ebook is like before I buy the Sony.
So since I did not get anything from Wifey for XMas I got to go to Best Buy and pick out a game for my Wii.
 I picked this:
And here are some YouTube videos showing the gameplay:

So far my favorite monster Anguirus. When he charges he rolls up ino a ball just like in the movies!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Lots of Snow = No To Munster Go!

Milwaukee is getting 12-16 inches of snow starting this afternoon through tomorrow and Munster is getting rain then freezing rain then 6 inches of snow so I am not going tomorrow morning!

I will be playing it by ear to see if I will instead go down Thursday morning and back Friday instead.

Update: Due to the higher amounts and later arrival time of the snow today I do not have to go Thursday or Friday either!

No cavities!

I saw my dentist yesterday and I have no new cavities!

Unfortunately, one of my molars in the back left top is cracked and I will be getting a new crown :(

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Calabash Music - Tune Your World

In our area the cable provider is Time-Warner. After they raised their rates for the 3rd time in a year, we dropped it and got DirecTV.
After about a year of that we realized we were only watching about 5 channels and dropped that too.
So now our TV is used for watching DVDs and playing video games.
I don't miss it much although I do miss the LinkTV channel. A commercial-free channel they specialize in showing non-US news, documentaries and movies. My favorite program was the World Music Video Block, and you can watch some on their website.
Calabash Music is their associated website where you can support musicians from around the world by purchasing mp3s of their songs and albums and the artists get 1/2 of the money from the sales.
Each weekday they have 2 free songs that you can download and listen to. You will need to create a free login. Or use the handy new widget I have added over there -> below the LibraryThing box.
I have downloaded over 260 songs since April of 2006 when I discovered the site!
They also post video over on YouTube.

Friday, February 1, 2008

I think I saw the owl!

Math problem:
If yesterday = 12 inches snow then today = ???
Please show your work...

the correct answer is today = 90 minutes of shoveling to get 1/2 driveway clear

I like snow, really I do.
I don't mind shovelling at night in the cold, clear, quiet it's very zen-like.
After all the other people with their noisy snowblowers finished and went inside I was pausing to catch my breath and I heard the owls again!
One north near the tree farm and one south by the woods.
I decided then that I had cleared enough to get the cars in the garage so I went and got the binoculars and walked up towards the tree farm.
I think I saw the owl up on a bare branch in a tree moving back and forth, but it's been awhile since I used binocs and couldn't hold them very steady.
I'll go back tomorrow when it's light and see if I was looking at a squirrel's nest :)

I was down on one knee in a snow bank trying to get a different view of the branch and when I took the binocs from my eyes and was about to get up I realized that there was a coyote staring at me from about 20 feet away.
Coyotes are NOT small, as I found out when I hit one on the freeway with my new Kia in September of 2006.
This one seemed not quite as big as that one.
It looked at me as I stood up slowly, then it turned and ran off towards the pond, leaping over the snowdrifts.

I like living on the edge of the country, but I know animals can show up in the most unexpected places, like the fox that we saw several times walking down the road at night in London when we there in 2006.
We were staying in the Bayswater area on the north side of Hyde Park and see the fox as we were walking to the tube station and to "The Swan" a very nice little pub that we ate at twice.
Mr. Fox was too quick for us and we never got a picture of him.

UPDATE: I walked down to the tree farm this afternoon and there was nothing on the branch I was looking at last night! Owl confirmed!

I made in home from Muster

It normally takes me between 2 1/2 to 3 hours to make it home from Munster.

Can you guess how long it took me this week?

a) 12 minutes
b) 4 hours 17 minutes
c) 6 hours 23 minutes
d) 8 hours 6 minutes
e) none of the above
f) all of the above

Stupid Snow!

But at least it's better than a hurricane.
Or an earthquake.
Or a wildfire.
Or huge flocks of foul smelly budgies breeding in the sewers and then flying out of people's loos and infringing on their personal freedoms.

(The answer is C)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Return with me now to the thrilling days of....


I was attending the University of Wisconsin at Platteville and living in the dorms, Morrow Hall 3rd floor.
The guy in the corner room had bought the first CD player on the floor.
He only had 2 CDs, one of which was Pink Floyd's The Wall.
I'm sure some of you remember this album - "We don't need no education", "It's just another brick in the Wall", "Is there anybody out there?" etc. etc. etc.
He went to his morning classes, ate lunch lunch and came back and played this album.
Monday through Friday.
Every day.
Let me repeat - Every day!



After about 2 months of this my roommate Ron and I decided to get even.
Ron had a Commodore 64 computer and the video game M.U.L.E.
One day we hooked up his computer to my stereo system, cranked the volume, and went to lunch leaving this playing:

We came back an hour later to find about 20 guys outside our room, pounding on the door.
We posted a note later explaining why we did it.
And threatening to do it again.
The other guys on the floor chipped in and bought "The Wall's" owner a set of headphones. :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

@pp1e eBook? Where are you?

I want an eBook reader!
I have been looking at the Sony Reader for over year now, saving all my change.

But I knew that Amazon was coming out with one so I was waiting.
Amazon has now released the Kindle except that I think that it is just ugly, like a miniature Apple IIe with the qwerty keybaord stuck on the bottom.

I had decided to go ahead and buy the Sony but I got an email from an unnamed source who had some info from another source that a certain large computer company named after a fruit was going to introducing their own version.
The annual MacWorld Expo (which I attended in San Fran in 1990 and 1993) is this week and so far I have not seen any mention of in the coverage.
Inside Mac TV has posted the Macworld 2008 Steve Jobs Apple Keynote Highlights but nothing there :(

So do I wait another 6 months and see what Apple will do?
Or get the Sony now and take advantage of the 100 free classic books they are offering through the end of January?
Or do I forget the whole thing and start saving for this?

Owls in Caledonia!

Last night as I was reading in bed I heard an owl outside my house, pretty close by.

A couple of minutes later I heard it again to the north, near the Tree Farm.

Suddenly I heard it again near the house and realizied it was two owls!

They hooted back and forth in a 5 hoot pattern (whowhowho-whowho) several times.

I'm not sure what kind they were.

There is a pack of coyotes that spend several nights a month in the Tree Farm, we can hear them howling at night.

This is another reason why we keep our cats inside at all times.

Sunday, January 13, 2008 Free Books • Free Minds

One of the only things I like better than buying books is Free Books!
I recently found a free legal online source for pdf books and comic books. has a huge selection of books and you can download 3 a day.

They have everything from mysteries to textbooks to comedy to comic books to classics to travel to romance, etc. etc.

Several comic books series well worth downloading: Inverloch, Swords of the Swashbucklers, and The Dreamland Chronicles.

Recent books I downloaded include: Ancient Natural History: Histories of Nature, Soldier and Society in Roman Egypt: A Social History, The Songs of Robert Burns (originally $335.00!), The Early Works of Dr. Seuss - Volume 1, The Early Works of Dr. Seuss - Volume 2, The Land That Time Forgot - Three Book Special Edition by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

If you check out their site and find some book or series you find interesting please leave me a comment!

Thursday, January 10, 2008 Part 2

I have books.
Lots of books.
Lots and Lots and Lots of books.
I checked and the only room in my house that does not have books in it is the dining room.
(Yes, there are books in both of the bathrooms.)
I have tried numerous ways of keeping track of what I have, from notebooks to index cards to spreadsheets to FileMaker databases.
And then I found

LibraryThing allows you to enter your books into their database using either the title or the ISBN.
They pull data from, the Library of Congress, Oxford University and over 200 more libraries around the world.
The British Library was just added on January 9th!
You can enter your own books manually if LibraryThing can't find a source for your particular book.
Every book can have "Tags" added to it like nonfiction, Poirot, not read, or anything else.
Once you have entered books, LibraryThing can compare your collection to everyone else's showing you how popular a book is or whose library is most similar to yours.
It has both a "Suggester" to find books you might like and an "Unsuggester" to find books that will probably not be in your library.
People have currently added over 22 million books into the system!

It's fun poking around the site because they keep adding new features.
Most owned book: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (26,381)
Most reviewed book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (550 reviews)
There are authors who are staring to post their libraries on LibraryThing.
Even Thomas Jefferson, our third president has his library posted on LibraryThing!

I changed my LibraryThing sidebars so now you see 6 random books plus the last 6 books I entered.
(Can you tell I was bored in the hotel last night???)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

My sister posted the same Human Tetris video on her blog the day after I posted it here.

And we did not talk to each other about it either!

Welcome to the Laycock Twilight Zone de-be-do-be de-be-do-be!!

I'm off to Munster tomorrow.

Going to Munster again...

No, not M√ľnster Germany

I wish it were Munster, Ireland :(

Not these Munsters either!

Yep, It's Munster Indiana!

Every Wednesday and Thursday for work.
My trips down there have been extended another 8 weeks, through the end of March.

Important tip: If you have to drive through Ilinois on a regular basis get an iPass! Half the cash price and saves probably 50% travel time.

It's still about a 3 hour trip so I stay overnight at the Munster Hampton Inn, which has a pool and whirlpool and free breakfast, but no cats in the room :(

Monday, January 7, 2008

Human Stop-Motion Tetris

Also check out the versions of Pong, Pole Position and Space Invaders they animated! Part 1

See that yellow box over there? ------>

That is a random selection of 5 books we own out of the 1300+ books I have entered into My Library at I think this is about 25% of the books in our house.

Unfortunately I need to work some overtime tonight and can't explain anymore about LibraryThing today but I promise I will soon.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Introducing.... Gitana!

This is Gitana, the newest member of our family.
Born in July 2007, along with her mother Gypsy and two siblings came to foster with us.
We foster kittens and cats for Kindred Kitties, a no-kill cat-only animal shelter in Kenosha Wisconsin.
After a quick Google search on "Gypsy baby names" we named her brother Mander, her sister Chavali and her Gitana, which is Spanish for "Gypsy".



Gitana and Mander are polydactyl having 6 toes on their front paws and 5 on the back instead of the standard 5 and 4.

12 toes
Gitana got an ear infection and a scratch above her eye and had to live inside our house for several weeks, away from her family who were staying in a cat condo in our garage, where most of our foster cats stay when it is warm enough.

Mander was adopted by our friends Brent and Jackie who have named in "Lando Catrissian" after the character "Lando Calrissian" from "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi".

After she was not adopted at Petco for two weeks we realized we missed her very much and brought her back home to live with us permanently.

She has adapted very well, getting along with Sunshine and Jeeves but she is particularly good friends with Wooster.

Gitana can not bear to left out of what's going on. I cannot go up or down a flight of stairs without her following me, even if she was sitting in Michelle's lap at the time. She is also waiting for us outside the bedroom door every morning and by the back door when we arrive home at night.