Archive for cats

Generally, a sad day

Posted in Personal with tags , , , on March 5, 2009 by Mike

Today we put my old Cattle Dog, Sara, to sleep. She was almost 15 and had been sick for a while.

Sara at 9 years old

Sara at 9 years old

I got Sara as a gift from a friend when I started looking for a house to buy. She was the first dog I ever had and quickly became my buddy. When I worked from home (which was most of the time for years), she slept on the office floor, between me and the door, in case I left the room.

Cattle Dogs are called Velcro dogs because they bond to one person and then follow that person everywhere. I was her person.

My son taught her to swim the summer we got her. Matthew spent a month making sure she could get in and out of the pool safely. He created a monster.

She usually started swimming by April every year. When she was younger, by mid-July, her red coat was green. She would let you spend hours throwing the ball in the pool so she could get it. Hours. She never tired of the game.

Sara was a party dog; she liked playing with children in the pool on long summer days. She would swim for 8 or 10 hours straight, only stopping when the children stopped. And then collapsing under my chair.

When she was 5, she blew one of her knees out. The options were put her down or repair the knee. We chose repairing the knee, knowing that she would be arthritic when she got old. Six months later, she blew the other one out. We had that one repaired, too. It only slowed her down a little.

When we got the orange cat, Marley, she adopted him as her best friend. She taught him how to be a good dog and was always mad when he got on the roof. Dogs don’t belong on the roof, she seemed to say, pacing and barking at him.

Being a good herding dog, she also herded children. Toddlers were great herding targets. I found her guarding a group of small children, all neatly herded up in a corner of my living room more than once. She looked very proud of herself but the children were crying.

She had a wicked dog sense of humor. I called her Laughing Dog for a reason – she would get the giggles and fall over.

In the last few years, her swimming almost completely stopped because it was too hard for her to step into the pool. Her entire back end was just not working that well. When we got the Aussie 18 months ago, she paced the side of the pool, huffing and barking, looking for the world like she was coaching as we taught him to swim.

She was diagnosed with a slow growing cancer about 4 years ago. The vet said her 5 year prognosis was not good but since her breed usually lives 12 years… We decided to do nothing and just watch. The place it would show up next was her stomach, he said. And it did.

All her life, Sara slept next to my side of the bed, in case I got up during the night. That spot will be empty now, unless the Aussie takes it.

Not the best day in my house. But I wouldn’t have missed having her for the world.


This week in review

Posted in Blaze, MadCap, Personal with tags , , , , , on March 30, 2008 by Mike

I made it home, after missing my connection in Atlanta. It’s not possible to get 2 concourses, one end to the other, in 4 minutes in Atlanta. So my delayed flight out of Rochester missed my connecting flight in Atlanta. I spent 6.5 hours sucking all the fun out of the Atlanta airport. Actually, it only took about an hour to do all the fun stuff one can actually do in the Atlanta airport. The rest was just tedious.

There was a bright spot in all this, tho. Anything bad I ever wanted to say about Delta I take back. They quickly got me assigned to the next flight directly home and, without me asking, upgraded me to First Class. So even though my eventual flight was delayed for an hour by a thunderstorm, I was on the plane in a comfy First Class seat with a glass of wine while we waited for the storm to clear.

A very long day  

I finally came home last night about 10pm, after 16 hours of travel. But I slept in my own bed, with Marley the cat and the wonderful husband so life is very good on that front.

The dogs and cats missed me almost as much as my husband. It’s nice to come home to wagging tails!

Now if only my body knew what time it was… Normally, I have a very accurate internal clock. For the last week, every time I check the bio-clock, it just puts it’s head down on the desk and starts crying. When I look at my watch, the bio-clock wails. It’s as surprised as I am to discover that’s the time. I can’t seem to track how much time has passed, either. So we go through this process about 15 times an hour. I’m home for about 2 weeks, though, so it should calm down.

Blaze and Betas

In other news, Blaze is in beta, so go to and download the beta and beat it up. We want to ship a solid product and really need your help to do that. We simply won’t think of the stuff you all will think of. We’re going to be offering prizes for the people who submit the most bug reports that get verified by our QA team and they’re good prizes.

If you want to see stuff in Blaze, I also urge you to sign up for an online demo. The next 3 weeks or so are full but I added several more to the first of May. Same website, go to the Blaze page for more details.

A new crop of ducklings  

This week starts a new quarter at the University of California, Riverside, where Bonni Graham and I teach baby engineers to communicate in Eng 180. We’re trying something new this time – we’re doing the entire class on a Tuesday night, 2 hours of lecture and 3 hours of lab. It’s always fun to see the new room of young faces the first day of class.

The first class is introducing them to the idea that this is a writing class but it’s also a lot more. They will learn to communicate in written forms but they are also going to learn that their products communicate as well. And all this communication stuff has rules, just like math or programming or formal logic. If you ignore the rules, you get invalid results; the communication won’t compile, if you will.

It’s going to be fun getting to know these guys (and it’s typically all men) for the next 10 weeks. And sad to send them on their way when we’re done.


We’re probably going beta with another product this week. Watch your email and this blog for more information.

Now I’m going to drink coffee and talk my bio-clock out of the tree. Maybe brush it’s hair and feed it some ice cream to try to make it happier…

Countdown to WritersUA – Busy day!

Posted in Personal with tags , , on March 15, 2008 by Mike

Well, this is my second day off in as many weeks. Today I:

  • Return the loaner car and pick up my Miata from the dealer after her check-up yesterday
  • Do laundry so I have clean clothes
  • Take my best suits to the tailor to be refitted. I’ve lost 10 lbs since I got them and the pants are bagging in strange places
  • Renew my PO box that expired 2 weeks ago. sigh.
  • Sort thru the mail from the last 2 weeks
  • Pay some bills
  • Unpack from earlier in the week
  • Pack for next week
  • Buy some books to read myself to sleep at the conference
  • Spend time with my very patient husband who’s not seen me awake for almost 2 weeks
  • Pet my animals and perhaps take the puppy for some sort of walk
  • Talk to my brother about my personal email server that seems to be generally down. He manages the server and it’s not really given me any email for 2.5 days. Worriesome.
    (Updated: My brother’s servers are being hit with an attack that’s sending 1.5 million emails a day from some servers in Japan to one of the domains he manages for a client. My domain is being hit as well, but not nearly as hard. Mine is less than a million a day. He’s taken measures to fix the issue, including blocking a whole range of IP addresses at the router level and moving the attacked domain to another IP address but it’s going to take 24 hours for the IP list in the sky to update itself. Wow. He’s been awake a lot at night the last few days.)
  • Grade student papers.
  • Find time to sit quietly and perhaps figure out what little baby hats I want to crochet for the little children in my life, if I ever get the time to do that again.

Just listing out what needs to be done makes me want to go to sleep! I need to get moving if I want to get all this done today. My reward for doing all that stuff will be sitting quietly. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Traveling continues to be hard…

And for those of you keeping score at home, Mike Hamilton was in the Atlanta area this week. He flies from Atlanta to Portland today. Let’s all keep boring, uncancelled flight thoughts in our heads for him.

See you at the show!

Marley the orange cat/dog returns

Posted in Personal with tags , on February 2, 2008 by Mike

He showed up last night after I went to bed, after missing for 4 days. His paw is hurt so my husband is taking him to the vet this morning while I have a follow-up mammo appointment.

Yesterday, I looked at the Animal Control website for my city. They have a great search engine that lets you search for missing animals with pictures. There were 2 cats that looked very much like Marley. David and I dashed over about 2 and looked but neither was our guy. They were both very sweet orange cats but not our sweet orange cat.

I printed a picture of Marley – the one linked on the flicker site – and took it with me. I’m not sure why. When I walked into each Cat room, cages stacked on all the walls, many of the cats would look up and start meowing. As I walked by the cages, looking for Marley, I showed the cats the picture of Marley and told them “Have you see this cat? If you see him, please, tell him to just put the bottle down and call home. He can call collect, if he drank his last dime away again. Just, just call.”

Of course, no one laughed but me. Cats really can be so humorless. David was in another area so I didn’t even have him. And he was getting upset with all these cats who needed homes. Me, too.

I’ve not gone to the pound looking for one of my animals before. In my city, everyone was very helpful and kind. We even pulled out the Dead Animal book and looked to see if they removed a orange long hair dead cat but he wasn’t listed. Overall, at the time, a discouraging trip.

But Marley is home now, albeit hurt. And our vet will make him better today. We’re pretty happy. Sara is very glad he’s home.

Marley the orange cat/dog

Posted in Personal with tags , , on January 31, 2008 by Mike

My husband and I like animals – or at least I do, which under the rules of marriage, means we do. We have 5 total:

  • Gus, the 8.5 month old Aussie puppy. He’s our sweetie and makes us laugh a lot. At about 55 lbs, he’s also the biggest guy in the house, but he doesn’t know it. He should top out at about 70 lbs, we think – 2x as big as the next larger dog, Sara. We got him last summer because we know that we’re going to lose one of the older dogs in the next year or so – they’re both well past the expected life span for their breeds.
  • Sara, the 13.5 year old red Australian Cattle dog. She blew her knees out when she was 5 and suffers badly from arthritis now that she’s old. She’s also losing her hearing but is still Queen of the house. She’s my first dog and clearly the best dog ever. When she was younger, she swam in the pool every day when it was warm – by herself if needed. She can’t step down into the pool now and stopped swimming last summer. Which broke my heart.
  • Lady, the 14 year old Border Collie mix. She’s almost totally deaf and blind and has never been happier. She’s always been a morose little dog and now no one can bother her. She’s also getting a little senile.
  • Xibalba, the 16.5 year old black cat. I got her when she was about 5 weeks old. She’s a little crazy but in a sweet way. She has almost no teeth now, but the vet says she should live to 20 or more. She’s finally adapted to the old dogs but the puppy has her worried. I’ve had her through my son growing up, 2 husbands, graduate school, just so much. Her name is the Mayan word for the Underworld, as my focus in Anthropology graduate school was the modern Maya.
  • Marley, the 9 year old orange cat. He’s been Sara’s best friend since he arrived at 12 weeks. They play games, chase each other around, curl up together to sleep. All the animals in the house think he’s a dog.

Marley hasn’t come home for 2 days and I’m worried. I’d hate to lose him – he’s Sara’s best friend. He’s also my bedtime buddy. He goes to bed with me at night and we spend 20 minutes in a petting frenzy before he lays down on my feet and goes to sleep. He’s a very good cat, even though he thinks he’s a dog.