Archive for the 'animals' Category

My moment of fame

January 28th, 2012 | Category: animals

I guess “Infested!” is going to air my segment after all.  Friends with TVs tell me that they’ve seen me on TV ads, which is surreal for both them and me.  Here’s the trailer for the episode.  I suppose that after it’s been aired, the episode will be on their web site too.

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Bonaire, Post Seven: Eels and Parrotfish

September 29th, 2011 | Category: animals,Bonaire,scuba,Travel

Most of the time, eels are pretty hard to find. This chain moray is trying not to be seen.

This reticulated moray shows its bad dentition.

A goldentail moray undulates amongst the reef.

Here’s one I had never seen before: a goldspotted eel.  These active animals don’t seem to stop moving, and have the ability to disappear into the reef like a drop of water hitting a paper towel.

Parrotfish are very common, but they also don’t stop moving (in the daytime, anyway).  They are fun to watch because they are amazingly colored, they are very active, and they’re not that frightened of divers.  You can watch them feed on algae, and often see them shit out the sand that they generate (see my other posts on this topic).  As parrotfish mature, they change appearance so radically that they are hardly recognizable as the same fish.  All of the images below are stoplight parrotfish (although different individuals).

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Bonaire, Post Two: Bonaire’s Iguanas

September 20th, 2011 | Category: animals,Bonaire,scuba

Iguanas are the local equivalent of squirrels, and they can make minor pests of themselves at restaurants.

Paul and his new friend.

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Buffalo Park

September 17th, 2011 | Category: animals,Arizona

Buffalo park is a public park in Flagstaff that really shows off the skyline (and my dog Tycho!).

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The Mighty Mole Hunter

August 10th, 2011 | Category: animals,Arizona

My 75-pound dog’s main outdoor preoccupation is hunting 2-oz moles and shrews.  Here you can see him engaged in his favorite activity on the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks where we live in Flagstaff.  We hiked through a birch forest to get to an open area near the Arizona snow bowl.

He is a living roto-tiller, trying to dig all the way to the center of the earth.  The dirt’s a-flyin’:

When he excavates a big enough trench, he thrusts his snout into the mole tunnel, like a giant mosquito biting the earth, inhales a lungful of mole smell, and then sneezes.  Why is it that this creature, with a sense of smell tens of thousands of times more powerful than mine, needs to actually touch the source of an odor with his nose and snort it in as much as possible?

Here we have one happy, and dirty, dog (the two are often connected).

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Why do I keep this animal?

March 17th, 2011 | Category: animals

The cat is so on my shit list right now.

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In addition to this activity, she has learned how to open cabinets and drawers, and extracts what she needs at will.  I’ve said it many times: “It’s a good thing she’s cute – otherwise, she’d be dead.”

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I love my pets

February 08th, 2011 | Category: animals

At 7:30 AM this morning, as I awoke to the sound of my dog whining and crying by the back door, I thought about how he had gently but persistently begged to be let out at 4AM.  When I’d risen to dress and take him for a walk (not having a back yard) I’d discovered a couple of piles of vomit in the living room.  Outside; his output had been impressive – so I knew that this wasn’t a false alarm either.

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OK, that’s not my dog, but it’s an awesome photo (click for attribution).

For a dog owner, knowledge that the dog needs out now requires immediate response.  There are consequences.  So the sound of his crying from that particular location was like a submarine klaxon.  I leapt out of bed and vaulted down the stairs, reached the bottom and flung the door open.  The dog glanced at me gratefully as he loped outdoors with a strange, pinched gait.  Although there wasn’t a suitable place, he realized that he wasn’t going to make it to the woods, crept behind the A/C unit and crouched. The noise was like a mustard squirter the size of a beer keg, with an odor to match.

Exhausted, I let him back in.  On the way back to my bed, I saw two more piles of vomit on the rug next to the front door.  Thank god for the carpet cleaner.  After performing triage on the messes, I slumped into my bed, eyes at the end of blackened tunnels in my face.

But I couldn’t sleep.  Something was bothering me – or rather, someone was not bothering me – the cat.  I hadn’t seen her since yesterday afternoon.  Although she hides sometimes, she never forgets about eating – and two mealtimes had passed with no sign of the creature.  There was only one explanation – she had to have escaped.  Too exhausted to care, I fell asleep.

Fast-forward to lunch time.  I woke up, late for everything, and immediately tried to restore order.  The dog was desperate again.  Stains dotted the carpet all over the house.  The trash stank and the cat was still gone.

The monster had been unleashed on the neighborhood.  I felt as if I’d unlocked the mummy’s curse or opened Pandora’s box.  As long as she’d been locked in the house, the outdoors was safe.  But now… My semi-feral cat would kill everything she encountered, or be killed.  I visualized the scene from Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark, when the lid of the box is opened and beams of unearthly power shoot out, melting the Nazis.

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I went outside and called her, banging on her food dish with a spoon.  After a few minutes with no luck, I realized that I had to drop everything to attend to the dog, who proceeded to impress me with his voluminous multi-orifice output.  It occurred to me that perhaps he’d eaten her, but the contents of the dogs stomach – quite thoroughly revealed to me by this point – didn’t contain chunks of cat.

Returning home, I found this:

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This had definitely not been there before.  She’d heard me, arrived after I’d gone and left her calling card of death.  At least it was a house finch, a common and un-endangered species.  I looked for the cat. No breeze ruffled the leaves, no sound penetrated the still air.  The hairs on my back prickled; I sensed the huntress watching me from the shadows.

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I went inside to get the food dish again.  When I came back, there she was!

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This was one time that the cat was particularly happy to see me.  I took her inside and fed her chicken skin, which she wolfed down, being unusually affectionate.  She’d been gone for perhaps 24 hours, overnight in cold weather, and made her first kill.

I’d write more, but I have to clean the carpet.

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Conversation With My Cat

January 02nd, 2011 | Category: animals

Me and my cat are close; we have good communication. Of course, we can’t speak in English, but cats are so expressive that we have a perfect understanding of each other.

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Here is a typical interaction:

Me: [Lying in bed reading when the cat shows up and jumps onto the blanket, taking over the entire bed]
Cat: “I will sleep here now.” [She plops to one side and begins a vigorous cleaning.]

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Me: “Oh you cute thing! I’ve just got to touch you.” [I reach out and touch the cat.]
Cat: [Pretends to not notice my hand, but the cleaning becomes intense; the cat licks herself with increasing fury until eventually she freezes and glares at me, one leg high in the air over her head.] “Let’s not take this too far, OK?”
Me: “What?”
Cat: “The touching. Stop that.”
Me: “Why?”
Cat: “I don’t like being petted.”
Me: “Most cats like it. You’ll feel like a kitten, cared for and protected.”
Cat: “Screw that. Your touch disgusts me. Keep your hands to yourself.”
Me: “Look. You’re very cute, and you get free food. You don’t have to do any work; you live a life of leisure and free medical care. All I ask in return is that you allow me to touch you.”
Cat: “Fuck you, you repellent pile of monkey meat. I didn’t ask to be trapped in the house with you!”

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Me: “Hey! I’ve had a hard day. You have no idea what I have to deal with. It would make me feel really good if I could just pet you. Can’t you keep still for a little while?”
Cat: “No. You’ve obviously mistaken me for someone who cares. I have problems too, you know. You have imprisoned me with a…” [She wrinkles her face into a mask of disgust] “…dog, that feculent shard of unmentionable microcephalic filth, which follows me around trying to hump me and coats me with drool.

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Me: “I thought you two got along pretty well.”

Cat: “Shut the fuck up.  There’s never enough food around here, and all day long I sit in front of windows watching unobtainable prey animals. Do you have any idea what it feels like to be completely thwarted? In addition, every time I try to maintain my claws, there you are shouting at me. You are always stuffing your face in front of me, but you have the manners of a badger – utterly lacking in sensitivity! Now, heaped in with all of those indignities, you expect that when I finally get some peace, I should tolerate the twisted fondling of a… a hairless ape?”
Me: “Yes.”
Cat: “So help me god, I will turn your hand into hamburger!”
Me: “Why can’t you be like other cats?”
Cat: “I’m telling you now, if you try to touch me, you will regret it.”

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Me: “If you hurt me, I will provide you with the wisdom that only pain can teach.”
Cat: “So, that’s how it’s gonna be, eh? Always throwing your weight around, taking what you want.”
Me: “Don’t you have any sense of gratitude for all that I provide to you?”
Cat: “I owe you nothing. You, on the other hand, should spend the rest of your life providing me with what is rightfully mine.”
Me: “What are you talking about?”
Cat: “Everything is mine, you dimwit! It would all be mine for the taking, if you and your kind didn’t constantly mess it up.”
Me: “Don’t you remember when you were a little, helpless kitten, and I rescued you, brought you home, kept you warm and fed you cream with an eyedropper for weeks?”
Cat: “That was a kidnapping, motherfucker! I was just fine on my own. Anyway, all your cream are belong to me, but you withhold it. You want me to appreciate this?”

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Me: “Listen to me, you ungrateful little wretch. I’m 40 times your weight and unimaginably more powerful, with a deeply wrinkled brain capable of foresight. I will get what I want.”
Cat: “If it weren’t for the accident of my birth as a small cat, I would now be feeling your carotid pulse in my jaws as I slowly crushed your windpipe.”
Me: “It’s a good thing you’re so cute – otherwise you’d be dead.”
Cat: “You flatulent, self-abusing, repellent primate!” [I touch her and a scuffle ensues. She grabs me, savagely bites and tries to disembowel my forearm, but with my other hand I grab her by the back of the neck and she goes limp.] “Help! Rape! Fucker! Gaghhhhh!”

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Me: [Sounding like George from “Of Mice and Men”] “Cute kitty! Ohhh, aren’t you soft? I want to hug you and squeeze you!” [I stroke her as she screams savage oaths and struggles weakly. Then I let her go, being careful not to let her claw me.]
Cat: “Goddamn it! I hate you. If I ever have the slightest chance, I will open your veins and watch the last of your blood flow from you while I laugh without pity. There is not a single redeeming quality about you, and if I could, I would cleanse the world of the pollution, the insult, the abomination that is you and your kind!”

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Me: “You are the shittiest pet ever.”
Cat: “Then at least I did something right. Because no matter how much I wash your stench off of me, I’ll never really be clean.” [She begins a violent, resentful, extended cleaning, stopping occasionally to toss me vicious stares of unalterable hatred.]

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Impatient Dog

December 04th, 2010 | Category: animals

Tycho does not like to sit in the back; this is what I often see upon returning to the car.

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A clean dog is a wonderful thing

October 08th, 2010 | Category: animals,Arizona

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