Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday Cat blogging (belated)

A belated Friday Cat blogging this week. But to make up for it, we're bringing in animals from home for special guest appearances.

This is George, my family's cat, being held by my younger brother Sean.

And this is Rowlf, the family's dog. Rowlf was part of a litter named for the Muppet babies. He's taking a nap in between getting viciously kicked out of his bed by George.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hats and related notes

So, last year when I was bald (more on this later) I knit myself a little beanie to keep my head warm at night. It was March, and the nights in New Orleans were occasionally chilly due to damp night air. Well, it was such a good idea, and kept me so nice and warm, that I continued to use it even after I grew back some hair. I was wearing it about a week ago, during that cold spell in which the cats were so snugly. Colin noticed me wearing it and remarked that he was jealous, and wished he had a similar beanie. In particular, he noted that his head and ears get cold when he bicycles to work on damp winter days. I instantly resolved to knit him a hat to be worn under his helmet in inclement weather. I made it out of super wash merino yarn (so we could clean it in a regular old washing machine without fear of shrinkage) in a bright variegated yarn whose color was listed as "Tropical Storm". (Oh, the irony). I designed the hat so that it would fit easily under his helmet and provide ear coverage. The results are below:

without the helmet to hold down the ear flaps, I think it makes Colin look a bit like an old-timey football player. I tried really hard to stop them from curling up like that, but all my various efforts were in vain.

Luckily, the ear flaps work perfectly with the helmet on.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Pop quiz: How many cats are there in the photo below?

Answer: Two

Annie is actually cuddling up to Hodag who is hiding on the other side of the blanket. This is a new trick Hodag has learned since we returned from vacation. If I am in the bed under the covers, he will jump up on the bed and dig at the edge of the covers until I let him in. Then I sit with my knees bent so he can curl up in the space between my thighs and my feet. On this particular day, Annie decided that she should curl up on my feet for warmth as well. We do not know whether either cat was really aware of the others presence.

Since you cannot see both cats in the photo above, as a bonus this week we will also feature pictures of each cat individually.

Annie, sleeping on my feet again. This was a particularly cold weekend, and both cats wanted to snuggle me for warmth.

Here is Hodag enjoying the arrival of a box which arrived with a Hanukkah gift. Hodag, like most cats, really likes curling up in boxes. He also enjoys hiding in boxes and leaping out dramatically to attack my ankles.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Macabre, but amusing

In the news of the amazing and weird, a flaming squirrel was responsible for the loss of a middle school in Jones Oklahoma. An Oklahoma television station reports the story as follows: "Firefighters: Flaming Squirrel To Blame In Jones Wildfire, Students Moved From Elementary To High School". What happened was that the squirrel touched two power lines at the same time and caused an electrical short circuit. The flaming squirrel fell to the ground and I assume that it lit dry brush, igniting the school. The fire also destroyed a few trailers. Luckily, nobody but the squirrel was injured.

Interestingly, squirrel related fires are not uncommon. To determine this, I Googled the phrase "squirrel causes fire" and received results of several recent fires attributed to self immolation among squirrels. Not only that, the phenomenon seems to be quite universal within the states and in England. It even appears on a story in "This American Life" (check around minute 19 to hear a story about a cop trying to catch a flaming squirrel). Apparently, the squirrels can chew through power lines, in houses, cars, or high voltage wires causing electrical outages, and accidentally starting fires.

Monday, January 19, 2009

King Cake for Martin Luther King Day.

Yesterday I made my first King Cake of the Carnival season. Carnival season is already underway, and a list of the various parades that can be seen in the New Orleans area can be found here. Festivities have already begun, and Mardi Gras itself is on February 24th. I used a recipe from the Times Picayune Cooking Up a Storm cookbook, which, as you can see, produced a monstrously large king cake. I have not yet sampled the final product, but I have high hopes based on the taste of the dough. A recipe similar to the one I used can be found here.

Arts enjoyment weekend

Colin and I just had a fabulous weekend. On Friday, we went to the "American Routes 10th anniversary extravaganza" at the House of Blues. For those of you who do not know, American Routes is a radio show which plays music and interviews artists in from the genres of jazz, blues, folk music, Cajun, zydeco, and more. A while back, we were listening as we always do to the Sunday night American Routes broadcast and were quite pleased to hear that to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the show a live music concert would be held at the New Orleans House of Blues. So we decided to buy tickets and attend. The show was amazing, and featured the following artists:

Dr. Micheal White and the Original Liberty Jazz Band
Deacon John and the Ivories
Al 'Carnival Time' Johnson
Topsy Chapman
Trombone Shorty

Every performer was amazing, but I think I enjoyed Dr. Micheal White and the Liberty Jazz band, Al 'Carnival Time' Johnson, and Trombone Shorty the best. Really it was an amazing show, and lucky for you it will be broadcast on American Routes on February 18th. Even if you do not get the show on your local NPR affiliate, the American Routes website has a brand spanking new digital archive that you can use to hear the program anytime after it airs on February 18th.

Then on Saturday, Colin and I headed out to see as much of the Prospect 1 Art Exhibit as we could before it closed on Sunday. For those of you that do not know, Prospect 1 was was an international art exhibit set in various locations in the city of New Orleans (from museums and galleries to flooded out buildings in the 9th ward) . All the exhibits were free, and there was a shuttle that would take you around to the 12 venues officially featured in the show. In addition, numerous galleries and smaller exhibit spaces featured the work of local artists as a complement to the official show. Colin and I only were able to visit some of the various official sites, but the quality of the artwork we were able to see was truly amazing. Some of the pieces did not lend themselves to photography, and others I took pictures of but they did not capture the whole effect of the work. Here are some of the works I was able to capture:

Each of the tare weights is the exact mass and volume of one of the people in the artist's family (pictured). Each weight is labeled with the person it represents: "father," "mother," etc. There is a diagram on the wall illustrating the process; the piece in the photo to the left is a visual representation of the purpose of the weights.

These are wall murals in a flooded house in the 9th ward. The murals show Louisiana's bayous. They are wall-to-ceiling, and intricately detailed, showing wetland wildlife. It was surreal to see these murals inside a house that became flooded in part due to the loss of coastal ecosystems.

This is the ark, one of the most well-publicized pieces of the biennial. It is made of plywood sheets gathered from wreckage in the 9th ward, pieced together to form a boat.

This sign is self-explanatory. It was part of an exhibit in a police station, and is made from welded metal.

This is a chair made for two people. You can rock back and forth with your partner. It is surprisingly comfortable, as well as stylish. It was in the Charles J. Colton School, which has been recommissioned into artist studios. While we were there, there were artists working in the machine shop, crafting non-Prospect 1 pieces.

These pieces was also at the school, and were part of an installation of five or six similar pieces made of concrete with inset LED counters. There were 1400 counters total, representing the number of people killed in Katrina and the subsequent flooding.

This piece was in the Battleground Baptist Church in the 9th ward. The diamond structure is made of rusted gym equipment from 9th ward homes, and has been welded together. There are mirrored walls surrounding the piece, and an audio recording of Martin Luther King spliced with electronic music was playing. That sounds strange, but the whole piece was actually quite moving.

This painting showed the paths of Rita, Katrina, and Ivan. In each state, there are mixed media pieces depicting things that can be found in that state. Specifically, see the fire ant in Florida, the heart of Dixie in Tennessee, and the various cut-outs of Jesus throughout.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, January 11, 2009


We have safely returned from our winter vacation. We had the good fortune to go both to Kauai and California, and we were able to spend time with both of our families. While we were gone, Hodag tried to make a break for freedom (through the fireplace of all escape routes!!) but was luckily recaptured by our intrepid cat sitter, who found him a few blocks from our house. Both cats are now safe and sound, and seem thrilled that we are back to snuggle and entertain them.

Spring semester classes start tomorrow, and Colin will be taking Quantum mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Computational Physics and probably sitting in on a class on General Relativity. I on the other hand, will soon be starting my required internship to complete my masters degree. Once I have logged all the hours, and written a report about the experience, I can receive my MSPH in parasitology.

But, before we get started on the new semester, here are some photos from our trip to Hawaii.

Colin, enjoying a tropical beverage.

A sunset from the porch of my parents hotel room.

Aerial roots hanging over a cave on the North shore of Kauai.

A photo of Colin at the Kilauea Light House,
an excellent place to bird watch.

A Nene Goose, the endangered state bird of Hawaii.

A Monk Seal, or, translated from the Hawaiian,
"the dog that runs through rough waters".

A Moa, or feral chicken.
These are all over Kauai, and in places on the other Hawaiian islands.

A Marine toad that I caught in the wee hours of the morning,
during my jet lagged phase of vacation.