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2009-10-30

 

Friday Cat Photo: Flying Cats

This image of flying cats came into our house on a paper bag from a local produce market.  We have no idea what’s behind this.

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2009-09-05

 

Friday Cat Picture: The Return of Shmoo Cat

I started calling a neighborhood cat the Shmoo Cat based on this encounter back in April, 2005.  She wanders through the yard from time to time, moving furtively when she sees me.  That is not the case for Vicki.

Sometimes the cat sits on our back steps, provoking a small amount of excitement from our indoor cats.  The cat will move away if anyone comes out, but she will return to Vicki’s call.  She’ll also accept a dish of water from Vicki as a neighborly offering.

Vicki Reunion with Shmoo Cat Shmoo Cat Blissing Out

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2009-04-24

 

Friday Cat Picture: Hide-and-Seek Fail

I Hide You Find MeFourteen-year-old Teh Amor is inclined to sit on the edge of the bath tub in solitude between the decorative shower-curtain and the internal liner.  Even then there can be evidence of his tail, and he’s not always very quiet about his presence.

The other day he demonstrated another version, simply parking on the floor behind the shower curtain in front of the bath tub.  He appears to be waiting to be discovered.

We have no idea what this is about and what it provides, if anything, in the ordinary life of a cat, or of those cats who have never lived anywhere but in a human household.

This reminds me of the other curious behavior of our cats, especially Askani, who will crouch nosed into a corner with their back to everything happening in the room.

At the moment, Teh is running up and down the stairs and around my office as if he is chasing something.  He just jumped onto my office chair, ran across my shoulders, and climbed onto my computer tower where he can look out the window.  He lept onto the narrow window sill and is looking outside as if he is expecting something to appear.

Now he’s sitting on top of the open spiral notebook on my desk surface watching my fingers typing down at the keyboard tray.   Oh, he put his paw down on the space bar and I had to back out that text.

I have no idea if this is anything like entertaining for the cat.  It certainly is for me.  Just so long as Teh doesn’t decide to take a bite out of my wrist as I move the computer mouse on the desk surface.

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2009-04-17

 

Friday Cat Picture: Household Territory-Sharing

Shared the Sofa for Nap Time

I just stumbled over the book “Do Cats Hear with their Feet?” in the local public library.  It’s a quick read and, while I may have been reading faster than necessary, I don’t think the book answers that particular question.

What I did learn were some facts of cat territoriality that I had witnessed in an anecdotal fashion when Askani (pictured on the right) came into the life of our twins, litter mates Teh Amor and Princess Psyche (looking like a two-headed cat on the left, with Teh in front).

Since Teh and Princess came into my household as tiny kittens, they have been constant companions.  They still nap and sleep together curled in a ball.

Askani had a hard time being accepted into that companionship, although there are moments of quiet truce. 

The first problem was that the original female, Princess was so disturbed about the arriving stranger that she hissed and agitated when anything black was nearby.  This created a problem for Teh, who didn’t understand what this had to do with him.  Teh spent a great deal of time flopping on his side and being submissive to Princess.  (On occasion, when Teh would be agitated over another cat seen or scented outside our windows, he also was aggressive to all other cats in sight, including his sister.)

Askani was mostly a scaredy-cat during those early times, spending a great deal of time under furniture.  She still tends to do that, although she also has some off-the-floor places where she will curl up and sleep undisturbed by the other cats.

The first signs of a truce came in the first years in Sunnyvale, California, when all three cats decided it was all right to sleep together on the bed with Vicki and I, so long as the twins (also known as the kids and the teen-agers) were on one side of our sleeping bodies and Askani found a spot on the opposite side.

For the ten years we have been together in Seattle, there’s been a new pattern.  Teh is agressive with Askani and the fur flies from time to time, far more than when he scraps with his sister.  On other occasions, Askani will take a paw-swipe at either of them passing too close to her, and she is the one with the growling and hissing over intrusions too far into her personal space.

Lately, they have found a common hang-out on the comforter-covered sofa in my office where there is the only day-time human presence.   Askani is the regular, with an occasional appearance of the twins.  At night, they all spend their time here and I am sleeping on the sofa so that my phenomenal snoring does not disturb the peace of the household upstairs.   They arrange themselves around my body atop the comforter with Askani at one end, usually along my flank, and with the twins curled up at my feet.

They have also become comfortable being together alone on the sofa, with or without the teddy bear as a barrier.  But it is clear that the twins are family and Askani is not of that clan.  I also think my presence in the room influences their good behavior with each other.

The teddy bear came with the twins.   I recently unearthed it while going through some boxes in the storage room adjacent to my basement office.  I have been putting it on the sofa just for fun.  It doesn’t seem to mean anything to any of the cats, except for Teh.  He will use the poor teddy for kneading his claws in some sort of tactile frenzy.  I supposed that is better than his usual attacks on arms of the sofa, but not by much.

The village-of-the-damned-cats eyes are a consequence of using on-camera flash.   I used this photograph anyway, since here Askani has her eyes open while being wary about the goings-on, but not wary enough to rouse herself and move.

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2009-03-13

 

Friday Cat Pictures: More Heat Please!

Now that I have rearranged my work area, the heat-seeking obsessions of cats are more evident.

Askani hugging the hub for warmth Her Highness, the Dowager Empress, Askani, is rarely photographed.  She sleeps a lot, often next to a heat vent where the gentle warm breeze warms her face and flank. 

On visiting my office, Askani will find one of the two flat warm surfaces.  If I am somewhere napping, she will find me and pin down one of my shoulders and snore in my ear (the two younger cats having already claimed other parts of my anatomy).

Not seeing her preferred spot available available, she parks atop her second choice, my LAN expansion hub. 

Wherever there is warmth, Askani will find it. 

I first noticed this when I was recovering from having my gall bladder removed.  In the first days of recovery, Askani would lie on my comforter along my healing flank.  I credited some mystic Florence Nightingale instinct of cats for ailing humans.  Once I stopped taking the Vicodin, it dawned on me that this was a warmer part of my body and the cat sought out the heat.  I am sticking to that hypothesis.

If, on the other hand, she is attempting to park on my Wi-Fi access point, the imagined scowl is probably because I don’t know the WPA key, even under telepathic interrogation.
Princess warming the audio dock Princess Psyche, Askani’s young cousin (they were born a continent apart), claims the  newly-popular primary warm spot atop my audio dock.  Askani, when she gets here first, covers it completely and finds my clever headset-hanger arrangement a bit annoying.

Askani has not shown any tendency to gnaw on the headset, although I have numerous pairs of glasses with pitted earpads.  It is a greater risk that this 14-year-old kitten will decide to attack the cord and sever or short the connection. 

I recently thought the cats had murdered the USB adapter-cable that I keep attached to my computer for synchronizing my camera and my Mobile PC phone.  I thought my phone was dead because the cord had been messed up.  I forgot that I had powered-down the phone while at the movies and hadn’t powered it back up.

The remaining hot spot is atop my battery-backup UPS unit next to my desktop tower.  This is the haunt of Prince Teh Amor although the other two have been sighted there.  Teh normally faces the window instead of into the room, and he’ll hop up onto the computer tower, and even the window frame, if he senses something compelling outside.

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2009-03-06

 

Friday Cat Photos: Agriturismo Kittens

Cats of Villa Saulina: 1998-11-07

The afternoon of our arrival near Florence on November 7, 1998, this farm kitten has checked out Vicki, the cat magnet, and decided she is welcome.

We’re on our second visit to Italy.  This time, we’re having our first look at Tuscany, the place of Vicki’s dream of herself in a peasant blouse, blue feet, a glass of wine in one hand, a plate of pasta in the other.  She has dreamed of Italy since she was a child.  Now, she’s here to connect dream and reality.

We flew into Pisa, spending two nights there before picking up our rental car and driving to Villa Saulina, an agriturismo –- farm with tourist accommodations –- outside of Florence.   After visiting Florence, Siena, Lucca, Volterra, and many villages and sites of the area, we returned to Pisa for two more nights and our return to Silicon Valley.

I applied for a special retirement-incentive package in May 1998 and my retirement date has been set for December.  We are here determining whether we are prepared to move to Italy for the next stage of our life.  The answer is yes.

Cats of Villa Saulina: 1998-11-08 Cats of Villa Saulina: 1998-11-13

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2009-02-27

 

Friday Cat Picture: Più Gatti di Roma

1997-12-30 The Cats of Rome (Area Sacra) 1997-12-30 The Cats of Rome (Area Sacra) 1997-12-30 Area Sacra in Rome

 

Before our detour while looking for the Appian Way (Appia Antica) on New Years Day 1998, we had walked past Area Sacra a few days earlier.  We noticed the cats and we decided to take the tour that was offered on January 2, our last day in Italy on that trip.

At the tour on January 2, we learned that the cats were being fed by those who looked after the site.  Considering how much subterranean structures there were, I suspect the cats were also being honored for their control of vermin.   The tour guide’s narration was given entirely in Italian, but we did manage to stumble our way through the presentation.

It was raining at the beginning of the tour.  By the time we left, it was raining so hard that we were completely soaked by the time we returned on foot to our hotel.  We used the hotel room’s electric pants presser as well as we could to avoid packing wet clothes for our morning flight back to San Francisco.   We laughed through the entire experience.  We still marvel at that day and Vicki’s eyes twinkle when we reminisce our magical first visit to Italy.


[update 2009-04-16-16:22Z: Vicki just received a copy of the Pauline Marascutto and Anna Zane book, I gatti di Venezia.  The photographs are wonderful, athough the narrative demonstrates how rusty even my limited Italian has become.  The book was from one of the students at Moshier Arts Center where Vicki is a resident potter.  What I did learn from the book is that I must change the title of this post from “Gatti a Roma” to “Gatti di Roma.”

I also just learned that the Schmap!! guide to Rome features Area Sacra as one of the sites in the vicinity of the Pantheon in Rome.  You’ll find more photos there, including one from this post.

As many times as I have seen that announcement of the tours, it has only dawned on me at this moment that the 10:30 and 12:30 tours were to be in English, with the rest in Italian.  I don’t know if we arrived at the wrong time or there was no English tour on January 2.  The guide was careful to warn us that her tour would be entirely in Italian and we agreed that we wanted to take it.  I don’t think we realized they were done any other way.]

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2009-02-20

 

Friday Cat Picture: I Gatti di Roma

1998-01-01 Outside Rome

Our first visit to Italy was the week of New Years Eve in 1997. New Years Eve Day was our second anniversary.  On New Years Day 1998 we participated in the Roman custom of walking the ancient Appian Way (Appia Antica), closed to traffic on that day.

We had learned to get around on the buses and the Metropolitana subway, but had not ventured beyond the central areas. Our plan was to take a bus along a route that more-or-less paralleled Appia Antica, walk a cross street over to the ancient route, and then walk along Appia Antica back into Rome.

Coupled with our crippled parliamo italiana, no sense of distance, and unfamiliarity with the route, we missed an appropriate intermediate stop and ended up taking the little bus to the end of its route where the bus did a layover until returning toward Rome. Vicki used the opportunity to befriend a local cat.  We had seen many cats in the city, and I was learning Vicki’s inclination to become acquainted with every cat in her path.  Fortunately, we were far enough away (and our three) that they couldn’t follow us home. 

And with the attention that Romans lavish on the local cats, I don’t think there was too much chance that one would stowaway to the US.

[update 2009-04-16T20:53Z I am also fascinated by these little Schmap!! widgets, so I am including one here.  Once we came out on Appia Antica, we were close to the place shown on the map for it.  I haven’t figured out how to have the widget show the map at a given zoom with the picture frozen in place.  I am sure there is a way.  Meanwhile, the lowest-right photo symbol on the map of Rome will locate Via Appia Antica.  These photos on Flickr also have location maps.

 update 2009-04-16T16:49Z I corrected the grammar of the title, from “Gatti a Roma” to “Gatti di Roma.”  The explanation is here.]

1998-01-01 Outside Rome looking for the Appian Way 1998-01-01 Outside Rome 1998-01-01 on Appia Antica

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2009-02-06

 

Friday Cat Photo: Maple Snell

Maple Snell, the Friday Cat (click for larger image)

From January 9, 2009, a glimpse of Maple sitting among the humans at a small dinner among friends.   Maple may not be too sure about the photographer, here, although the cat seems quite at home among the crowd at one of the Snell’s annual holiday parties.

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2009-02-01

 

Friday Cat Picture: The Kiln Sitter

The Kiln-Sitting Cat (click for larger image) This fellow watches over the gas kiln at the Moshier Community Art Center in Burien, Washington, where Vicki is an instructor, part of the “firing squad,” and also a resident potter. 

While it is not Friday, the photograph was taken on Friday, January 30, on the occasion of the Empty Bowls event there.  The folks there tease me over the number of photographs that I take and that none get to see.  So here’s one as a promise of more to come.

This is cross-posted to The Kiln Sitter’s Diary because it is appropriate to the theme there and that was my inspiration to post this.

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2009-01-23

 

Friday: My First Cat Photo

My first cat photograph from 1954 (click for larger version) My first non-human animal photograph was of a dog.  My first cat picture was of a neighborhood stray who wandered into our yard in South Tacoma on Sheridan Avenue just north of 56th Street.   We put water out for it and I think there were times when my dad fed it.  The cat was pretty scruffy and would also show up with various wounds from time to time.  The cat was around for only a brief time.

I am not sure what appealed to me about the cat, but there is some residual fondness when I look at the photograph.  I have similar affection for our oldest Bombay, Askani. 

I date the picture to around 1954.  It was taken with a borrowed Kodak Pony 35 or possibly my original Praktiflex FX.  If it was a slide, it was probably on Anscochrome.


I thought that the print I had was from a slide, but I can’t find it.  This image is recovered from a Kodacolor print that has experienced considerable deterioration.   Using an H-P Scanjet, I scanned the print into a full-color 600spi TIFF file with cropping (to 2” by 3”) and preservation of all the range I could find.  The final corrections were made with Nikon Capture NX 2 where I could work on brightness, contrast, range, and correction to the neutral points in the image.  I should do this with other images where I only have prints before their color deteriorates further.

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2009-01-10

 

Friday Cat Picture: 2009-01-09 Princess Favors Nat

2009-01-09 Nat with Princess (click for other images)

Son Nathaniel Whitten has Vicki’s automatic acceptance by cats (and vice versa).  Here, Princess Psyche has found Nat to provide a convenient high perch and is on alert for a higher place to visit.   She and brother Teh Amor have the Burmese and Bombay fondness for heights, although at 14 Princess is not so energetic about seeking them out.

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2008-12-27

 

Friday Cat Picture: Monchhichi on Christmas Day 2008

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Monchhichi: Christmas Day 2008Monchhichi is family (Vicki talks to him like a grandchild), living with middle son Nat Whitten and S’ann Hall in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle.

With the unusual cold, snow, and ice in Seattle in December, it was difficult for Vicki to travel from West Seattle to sit with the cat while its human family was in California for the holidays.  We were basically icebound and driving was out of the question. 

Vicki learned how to travel there by bus (1.5-3 hours on delayed, snow-adjusted routes), spending the morning and afternoon, keeping the lonesome kitty company.  On Christmas Day we went together, preparing a French toast breakfast and keeping the cat company. 

‘Chhichi was very lonely and cried for an hour or longer when we first arrived.  Fortunately, a stay-over cat sitter, the other grandmother, arrived that afternoon and the cat was restored to accustomed companionship.

Another satisfying part of visiting Monchhichi for the day was the availability of DSL service and a 4-port router that I was able to connect directly into the Ethernet port of Quadro, my Tablet PC.  That allowed me to perform the initial setup for the blog that I have long threatened to set up for Vicki, her Millennia Antica: Kiln Sitter’s Digest.  By the next day she had made her first-ever blog post. 

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2008-12-06

 

Almost Friday Cat Picture: Catnip Camera Too

Catnip Camera is a a photo-documentary series created by attaching a camera to the collar of Cooper, a Seattle neighborhood cat.  The CAT CAM set is available on Flickr.  The Seattle Weekly also covered Cooper’s catumentary.

Athima Chansanchai’s Are You on Catnip Camera? article is the most read and most e-mailed seattlepi.com article at the moment.  I can’t find any pictures that have free-to-post distribution or reproduction rights, so here’s the consolation prize from my recent cat photographs:

 

I Has Computer Security (click for monster image)

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2008-11-07

 

Friday Cat Picture: In the Princess Eye (from 2007-10-07)

Photographing in the Eye of Princess Psyche (click for larger image)

Usually when I am working close with my 105mm lens, the cats don't give me eye contact long enough for a clean photograph.  This one (cropped here) shows my good fortune.  I love that the surrounding fur frames the eye of little Princess Psyche

Using Camera Strap for StabilityI think some of the clarity of this image is attributable to the Nikon SB-600 flash with Omnibounce on a side bracket, the closest I could match the pistol-grip flash handle used with my analog camera (shown to the right in a photo taken with my webcam).  I looked for a digital-camera-qualified version of that flash and none of them work with this handle.  I may end up scavenging it and kit-bashing it at some point, turning it into a bracket for shoe-mounted flashes like the SB-600.  I might even use a Nikon cord to for the extension from my D80's hot shoe. 

This shot doesn't qualify as a Strobist submission because the SB-600 is tethered and not far off the camera.  It also has an interesting defect, although Vicki thinks it adds something to the image: the photographer, camera, and speedlight are all visibly reflected in the cat's eye.

But I do like the result.  Yes I do.

Reflections: My 1992-purchased Nikon 8008s (pictured) was already smarter than its owner, as was almost the case with the 2020 before that.  This year's purchase of a D80 shows me how much smarter it is than the owner: It embarrasses me with the raft of features and settings over which I have no comprehension.  Once I obtained the SB-600 speedlight, it was clear that the flash is smarter than me too.  I have lots of practice to make up before I can again utter that I once (over 50 years ago) fancied becoming a photographer.

Modern photographic equipment: Whether or not the D80 and newer high-end cameras like the D3 are too feature-laden with too many options (sort of the Microsoft Office of its breed), it is clear that the digital era has revolutionized photography and creation of other electronic media.  In addition to easy entry levels, the affordability of high-powered equipment for amateurs and enthusiasts is telling.  There is another phenomenon.  The capabilities and economy of competing high-end Nikon and Canon digital SLR lines is leaving little room for after-market suppliers.  I don't think anyone can price-compete with the SB-600, for example, and the loss of functionality for lower-priced alternatives is pronounced.   I think this has a giant impact on the market, even in the (vanishing) stores where professionals shop.  (The difference for the pro seems to be ruggedness, durability, and extreme optical quality.)  OK enough pontification. What's needed from me is more pictures and more experiential mastery of my tools.

[update 2008-11-27 [Happy U.S. Thanksgiving Day] In bringing this post over from Orcmid’s Live Hideout I failed to repair one of the links to land here rather than back there.  I finally remembered to do that while I was situated to act on it.
 update 2008-11-07 This is part of my moving keepers from Orcmid’s Live Hideout to my own hosted sites for preservation and improved organization.  I’d meant to do this one for Halloween 2008 and I managed to miss it.  Now that I have improved the calibration of my monitor, I notice that I remain completely satisfied with the Princess Eye.  Not so sure about the little self-portrait taken with my webcam, but I’ll not fuss with that.]

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2008-10-24

 

Friday Cat Picture: Weez Ur Trickz n Treatz

[update 2008-10-27: I couldn’t stand the way the picture worked so I am putting in a different one and discussing how it came to be so different.]

Princess and Teh at 14 (redone: click for large image)

Calibrize I am substituting the tightly-cropped version (above), sacrificing the dangling tail of the first arrangement (below).  At the same time, I realize that I had over-warmed and –saturated the image.  To be sure that I obtained something more like I had in mind, I recalibrated my new LCD monitor with Calibrize (thanks to LifeHacker).  This seems to work better than my hueyPro which seems to be confused by my video pipeline.  On the other hand, I may be the one who is confused, having not figured out how to calibrate my display properly by any means.

You, as the viewer, have no idea what I have in mind as a proper presentation of the photograph, above, and the alternative that I found unsatisfactory, below (although the difference in cropping should be obvious).  You can click on the Calibrize button and find your own balanced monitor adjustment (or use your favorite alternative for non-Windows platforms).

That makes this updated post into fodder for my confirmable-experience soapbox and there’ll be more about that in further posts.   Meanwhile, it is time to shop for Halloween candies for the Friday night visitors.  I have a great cat-picture repost to put up at that time.

Princess Psyche and Teh Amor at 14 (click for larger picture)

I really wanted to keep Teh Amor’s tail in the picture, but it makes the composition really cock-eyed.  Looking at it, I think the only solution would be to separate out the two figures and ditch the tail and the framing of them together.  And I’m not going to do that well, just because.  And now I’ve gone and done it.  They are still framed together, but the tail is gone.  Do you see other differences?  Which one looks better in that regard?

The original photograph was taken on Wednesday, October 22, on one of those unexpected and delightful snappy autumn days with bright sunshine.  One or both of the twins will usually laze in the sun on the window side of the vertical blinds.  I have no idea what has them facing into the room.  I was anxious that they not decide to hop down and come closer to see what I was doing.

I’m holding the camera vertically, with the on-camera pop-up flash on the right.  Teh decided to look right into it, hence the village-of-the-demon-cats effect.

No, they’re not dressing up for Halloween and yes, it is a week early.  Maybe they’ve over-dosed on the run-up to the US Presidential Election.  Could be Princess still yearns for Hilary, or maybe for John Edwards?

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2008-10-17

 

Friday Cat Photo: Princess Psyche (from 2007-09-24)

Princess gazing at crow (click for larger image)Neighborhood Crow Strutting the Yard (click for larger image)Princess is the female of our two litter mates.  She and her brother celebrated their 14th birthday in September 2008.  Their mother, Cleopatra, was a beautiful Burmese with golden eyes and rich brown coat.  These black cats have sable highlights in their coats from mom, who has kept dad a secret all these years.  (The blue cast is from the lighting.)

Princess is showing her age here.  The crow wandered outside my office window and she was alerted enough to hop up onto one of my computer towers for a better look.  She has learned that diving at the window doesn't accomplish anything and was content to observe.  She's still playful and she is also a scold.  Every morning I am scolded until I pet her until one of us can't stand it any longer.  I don't know why she is scolding me, but petting is what we settle for.

I have been practicing capturing their eyes, which I find so intricate and beautiful.  The cats are a bit camera shy, so it is difficult to get the view and lighting just right.  Sometimes I get close to what I am after.  The whiskers are turning white and thick, with a little salt in the pepper of her black coat. 

Princess Fixated (click for large image)At six pounds, Princess is the smallest of our three cats.  She has lived indoors her entire life. 

I'm still practicing with my recently-acquired digital camera and struggling with indoor lighting and color balance for these photos.  These images have all been tweaked from the raw files using Nikon Capture NX.  I think I need to spend some time with test images and the Help system.

[update 2008-10-17 This is part of my migratory episodes from Orcmid’s Live HideOut.  I have nothing in particular to add to this beyond capturing the material here on Orcmid’s Lair, with my own control over its archiving and preservation.]

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2008-10-10

 

Friday Cat Picture: Streaks at 21 (from 2007-09-07)

Streaks at 21 (click for larger image)[update 2008-10-10 Streaks would have been 22 in September 2008.  She didn’t make it. 

The sweet cat that my sister raised from a kitten died on May 27.  It’s hard for me to imagine what the lengthy period of companionship represents. 

Our youngest cats were 14 this September and I know we’d miss any of them, even while thinking how nice it would be to be able to go on trips and not be concerned for their care.]

My sister's cat Streaks is 21 years old.  She is not so kittenish, but she still has her moments and is a loving cat.  She sat still for me setting up a new Vista Home Premium PC in the room where she usually spends most of her time undisturbed.  

Now her human has found more games to play.  Wait until the broadband is installed, Squeaks.

[update 2008-10-10 This retrospective re-post is part of my preservation of material originally posted on Orcmid’s Live Hideout.  I am consolidating the material I want to preserve here and on Professor von Clueless in the Blunder Dome.  These blogs are at my own hosted web site, are fully backed-up on my SOHO system, and can be moved at will.  I prefer that.

 update 2007-09-11 Uh, the cat's name is Streaks, not Squeaks.  I must have Smalltalk on the brain.]

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2008-01-25

 

Friday Cat Pictures: Come Closer Kitty

 

Out my basement-office ground-level window, I often see birds, squirrels and the occasional passing cat.  Most cats scurry out of site once they notice me in the office.  Other critters scatter when they detect motion, hear my shutter click, or otherwise decide there's some reason to vamoose.

This visiting kitty (upper right) came around underneath the plants at the corner of the house, taking in the view along the side in front of my office. 

When I captured the first picture, I expected the cat to flee.  Instead the cat seemed indifferent, moving down to the window and peering into my office.

Oh look, there's stuff in there Hmm, I wonder what's interesting around here

The cat took its time and moved along the wide window to the far side, seeming puzzled by the screen arrangement at the left.

By now I was working at capturing the cat's attention.  It ignored me, finally loping off back the way it came, vanishing back under the shrubbery.
Let's See What's Over Here
Teh Amor Asserts the Territory Not until the cat was completely out of my site did Prince Teh Amor, our household male cat, arrive.  He hopped up onto one of my computer towers and launched himself up against the window, standing on the sill to express his upset with the stranger.

I don't know whether the other cat was even in view.  He offered his yowling complaints just the same.

I'm doing everything I can to not distract him while I work to get his picture.  I figure he'll hop or fall off the narrow sill real soon now.
Well, he manages to stay on the window long enough to express his displeasure to me as well.

I've had neighborhood cats at the window before, but rarely at the same time that one of ours has noticed.  In both cases, so far, there was unexpected behavior.

This time, it was the late reaction of Teh Amor that took me by surprise.
And not that happy with me either


I was not set up for nature photography from some remote-controlled blind.   I happened to have my camera at my desk, and I used the opportunity to grab several shots very quickly without moving around much and shying the cat away.  Teh's arrival was also sudden and unexpected.  I wasn't sure how long he would stay on the narrow window sill.  I shot very rapidly and did not adjust the exposure or focus at all.  I was never sure when either cat would bolt from the window.

With CaptureNX,I now know to go through the basic setting first, thanks to the second day of Nikon School.  Because I use Nikon's RAW format all of the time, I was able to over-ride some of the exposure adjustments that were made in the camera.  I changed the exposure compensation to over-expose the images and bring up the shaded foreground as much as was safe.  The white balance was adjusted for cloudy daylight.  This was all after the fact.  To rescue the Teh Amor pictures, I also needed to be extra-creative with brightness and contrast.  Seeing them together I see that it would have helped to take the contrast down some more and dull the back lighting to match the first image.  I may try that again just to see how much better I can do. 

I still don't have an efficient workflow, but I notice that I am learning to avoid experimenting with adjustments that won't be useful in a given situation.  That picks up the pace, but there is still a great deal of trial-and-error, as you can see.

[update 2009-04-24T18:33Z I am moving this to Orcmid’s Lair from another blog that I want to obsolete.  I am taking advantage of the now-supported categories/labels to organize them as well.  I am now on Capture NX2 and have become more fluent in my workflow.  There remains more to accomplish in terms of both the original photographs and the digital darkroom work.]

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2005-04-23

 

Neighborhood Cats

I've wanted to do a Friday cat picture since I first heard lamentations about the practice.  Here's my first offering (though I missed the curfew -- it seems like Friday to me still).  These aren't the pictures that I had been thinking of using, so there's more to come, some day.  Did you hear the one about old duffer who got a three-gotcha handicap from the club pro?  This is number one.  Gotcha!

Neighborhood cat exploring outside my office [March 2005]Having three black cats leads to our noticing how many other black cats there are in our neighborhood, and how many pass through our yard.  I'm sure it is partly the yellow-Volkswagen phenomenon: It is noticeable for us because we have black cats in the house.  All the same, I don't remember seeing many black cats when I was growing up, and now it is not an unusual occurrence.  I can remember wanting to see a truly-black-all-over cat because I'd heard all of the stories about them, including the role we give them in Halloween, but it was a long time before I encountered a genuine black cat. Our cats are of the nondescript breed known as "Bombay," and I am not sure how the blackness is accounted for.  The two litter-mate "kids" of our pride have a tiny pure-bread Burmese mom, Cleopatra, who's never told who her first fling was with in Mountain View, California.  Cleo's genes are expressed in the sable reflection that you can see sometimes in the kids' coat, and also in their golden eyes.  Her daughter is also tiny like mom.  Our senior cat, Askani, was born in the Baltimore area and we have no clue to her lineage. When black cats stroll by in the neighborhood, it can be startling to see.  We often wonder whether one of our cats has jumped out a window and is exploring the yard.  This leads to a hurried census of the household, especially if we don't get a close look at the outdoor critter.  In many cases, the visitor resembles Askani, who has been a hefty cat, as many of our outdoor passers-by are.  I can also recognize Askani, our couch commander, in the postings about Dorothea Salo's cat, Didi, right down to the few light hairs on her chest. The appearance of a black shmoo is a pose that Askani has perfected too, one also affected by the well-fed neighborhood Bombays. My home office is in the basement level of the house, and I have a wide, low single-pane window that gives me a ground-level view out the side of the house.  Oh, Oh, What's That Sound?Seated at my computer lab I feel a little like the commander of the spherical lunar craft depicted in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Since I finally removed the insulating plastic film from the interior of the window (it had come loose and was sagging down after two years in place), I now must raise the blinds every morning to prevent our cats from bending and mutilating them as they climb through to see outside the window and walk along the narrow sill.  I've been trained.  Now the cats take turns sitting atop the tower of my desktop system where they have an unobstructed view of the passing scene, especially squirrels and birds and intruder cats. They have never seen a cat wander by this window, because there would be a certain memorable mayhem in such an event.  But when I am working quietly in my office, I often see a neighborhood scout stroll past.  They are usually startled to see me there, and are often not so nonchalant about it.  My March visitor had been examining something in the plantings off to the side of the window when I noticed.  I managed to reach my camera and work to the opposite edge of the window for a snapshot.  It was unexpected for the cat to remain in one place so long, and I was able to focus the camera, more-or-less, and get a picture through the angle of the window. I think the cat heard the shutter mechanism and noticed my movement, because it slumped down in a kind of timid wariness. My second snapshot was quite enough and the animal scuttled off under the corner rhododendrons and out of site. Similarly, our Askani was a timid indoor-outdoor cat when she first joined our household in 1995. She retains some of that furtively alert quality ten years later, although she seems completely at ease most of the time. There was a black Bombay kitten that visited our back porch last Fall, and Vicki would put water out for her.  I wonder if this is that little one, grown and wiser in the ways of the street life of cats.  There's no collar and we don't know if there's a household haven nearby.  She seems clean and well-fed enough to be someone's outdoor cat.

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