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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 15, 2003 6:30 PM. The previous post in this blog was What it's all about. The next post in this blog is A year on wheels. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, March 15, 2003

The Cat Warning System

We have two cats, both around seven years old. The girl kitty is Gloria, a.k.a. Brownie, and the boy is Ralph, a.k.a. Pinkie. We love them both dearly.

But Ralphie, who also goes by "the Man," has a wicked agenda most of the time. For example, whenever he goes outside, which is often, his first order of business is to head down the street and look for the neighbor cat, Simon. If he finds him, Ralphie promptly proceeds to kick his ass. Simon isn't much of a fighter, and his interactions with Pinkie have resulted in Simon's taking several expensive trips to the vet.

Eventually, the animal kingdom turf battles spilled over into the human realm. Simon's owners (apologies, you animal rights activists, but that's what most of us still call such people) have come over a couple of times, presented us with vet bills, and informed us that we need to do something with that bad boy Ralphie.

And so our diplomacy schooling has begun.

Our first reaction, of course, was that it couldn't be the Man's fault. Teach your cat to defend his sorry ass, or else keep him inside!

To which the neighbors' predictable retort was, Hey, Simon's just trying to sit on his own front porch. Either keep Ralph inside, or build some kind of pen to keep him in his own yard!

Keep Ralph inside? They must be dreaming. This guy whines mercilessly when he wants to go out. Persistently. For hours, if necessary. No way.

A cat pen? What, are they kidding me?

But after several of these front-porch chats, with some raised tempers and bruised feelings knocking around, we realized that we had to do something to keep those two cats apart.

Our first attempts at accommodating the feline combatants were primitive. We noticed that Simon's outside time was pretty predictable, and so we vaguely agreed that he would be allotted several designated hours of the day when he could be outside, and the rest of the hours would be Pinkie's time.

The arrangement lasted only a short time. Cats don't like schedules, and within a few weeks, the inevitable interaction occurred. In fact, the long layoff between battles made Ralphie even more of a Mike Tyson sort. Another nasty vet bill, more steam emerging from human ears.

The Cat Scheduling System (CSS) was a dismal failure.

And so I devised the Cat Warning System, hereinafter sometimes referred to as the CWS.

In the earliest stages of its development, the CWS was crude. I went down to the pet store and purchased one of those plastic yellow signs that mimic an official traffic warning sign. On it was the silhouette of a cat in a crosswalk. When Ralph was out, we would post this sign on the dogwood tree along the curb in front of our house. I also purchased a ceramic cat ornament, which the neighbors were to hang from a beam on their front porch when Simon was out. Whoever got their sign out first had priority; only when that sign was withdrawn could the other cat go out (and his sign must then be posted).

This worked well for a while, but it got darned tiresome. To get out to the dogwood, we had to walk several yards in whatever the weather. And we couldn't see the neighbors' porch without walking out into the elements roughly the same distance. Eventually we got tired of the dark, wet and cold, and we just left our sign posted full-time, for weeks. Our bad.

Next, failure of human communication compounded the failure of human energy. Rather than complain that our sign never came down, the neighbors just started posting Simon's, too, and letting the two boys attempt peaceful co-existence from time to time.

Until the Man kicked his ass again. Another vet bill. More heated human conversation, in which traps and county Animal Control officers were mentioned.

And then it dawned on me: Technology must have the answer! Rather than the signs, how about a system in which we could each use a remote control to turn on a light as a warning? We could each identify a lamp that would be lit only when our respective cat was on the street. We could post ours where they could see it, and they could post one where we could see it. Same rules as before -- whoever gets the light on first gets first dibs on the fresh air -- but this time, no one would have to get wet to post or observe a warning. Whaddya think? I asked the neighbors. It sounded good, we agreed, so let's give it a try.

I've got to hand it to myself. Sometimes my ideas are decent. We determined that the easiest place for the neighbors to see from their house was the window in our garage, and that the easiest place for us to see on their property was their upstairs bathroom window. So we each got a cheap desk lamp out for the designated spot, and I picked up a couple of remote switches down at Radioshack for around $20 apiece. We hooked up our lights and were ready for peace of mind for all the species.

Then came a setback. Both of the remote switches I bought were on the same frequency, so that when the neighbors clicked theirs, it turned on both their light and ours. Not good! "Both-lights-on" was the sign of impending kitty disaster. These false alarms would make the system unworkable.

But did we let this hold us back? No!!! I boldly pulled out another remote switch, which we had used for Christmas lights, and returned the second conflicting switch to Radioshack. Now our remotes blessedly limit their signals to their respective lights, and so the Cat Warning System has moved out of its beta testing mode and into permanent usage.

Our friends scoff at our system. One if by land, two if by sea? they sneer.

But we endure the ridicule gladly. We now know Simon's whereabouts at all times, and Simon's folks know Ralphie's as well. And no one needs to leave the cozy indoors to obtain this priceless information. We also recall the two guys' customary times from the ill-fated schedule days, and that knowledge helps us predict which light is likely to be on at which times.

I am proud to testify that since the Cat Warning System has been fully implemented, hostilities have been eliminated entirely. I shudder to think what may occur if somebody forgets the light and the two of them meet up in a driveway some dusky evening, but as long as the system's working, that won't happen.

So we can all relax and enjoy our pets -- and our neighbors.


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If You See Kay, Red 2011
Turnbull, Old Bull Red 2010
Cherry Tart, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet, Oakville 2012
Benton Lane, Pinot Gris 2012
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
Edmunds St. John, Bone/Jolly, Gamay Noir Rose 2013
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 26
Ayna, Tempranillo 2011
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Haley's Block 2010
Apaltagua, Reserva Camenere 2012
Lugana, San Benedetto 2012
Argyle Brut 2007
Wildewood Pinot Gris 2012
Anciano, Tempranillo Reserva 2007
Santa Rita, Reserva Cabernet 2009
Casone, Toscana 2008
Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011
Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
Silver Palm, North Coast Cabernet 2011
Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
Elk Cove, Pinot Noir Rose 2012
Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
Belle Glos, Pinot Noir, Clark & Telephone 2010
WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Northstar, Merlot 2008
Feather, Cabernet 2007
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
Trader Joe's, Chardonnay, Grower's Reserve 2012
Silver Palm, Cabernet, North Coast 2010
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio 2011
Alamos, Cabernet 2011
Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
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Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
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Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
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Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
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Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend
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Terrapin Cellars, Pinot Gris 2011
Columbia Crest, Walter Clore Private Reserve 2009
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Waterbrook, Reserve Merlot 2009
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Tarantas, Rose
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The Occasional Book

Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 285
At this date last year: 137
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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