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Archive for February, 2008

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A Souvenier From China…

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Our mate told us that he caught food poisoning just before he flew home. That can’t have been a fun experience…

However, he was in good spirits when we returned the cats on Sunday. The same can’t be said for us. We miss the little critters!

Today, John surprised me by getting up before me—to visit the bathroom. He’s caught a stomach upset (and is generally feeling rough) and pointed an accusing finger at me.

Wait a minute!

I don’t have food poisoning. Moreover, I’m probably the only homecook on the street with a food hygiene certificate. And since I also have lab experience, I’m more fastidious about hand washing than most chefs.

My ‘diagnosis’ (in the absence of an RT-PCR kit) is norovirus. It’s the most likely form of gastroenteritis to be transmitted by person-to-person contact, the most common form of all and it is often caught from eating undercooked shellfish, so our mate may have a point. Plus the incubation period fits (1-2 days, median 33-36 hours, almost hits it on the head)

Good news: it’s over quickly. And it doesn’t affect cats.

Bad news: acquired immunity isn’t long-lasting, so I’ll probably have something to look forward to shortly 🙁

All Ur Computer…

Sunday, February 17th, 2008


Playful Scars

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008


OK, I’m hating myself for this, but I trimmed Albert’s front claws today (Cedric’s are already trimmed, although he doesn’t use them much).

It goes against my grain to blunt a cat’s defenses, but let’s face it, they’re not going to be in the great outdoors anytime soon. They’re still kittens, not quite the size of our neighbour’s cat. And, as kittens, they play a lot.

For some days now, I’ve been gathering up little bits of carpet. This morning, Albert was dangling from the curtains by one claw, which may have been the last straw: there are tell-tale punctures and tears in all the curtains, sheets and duvets. Occasionally, he uses me as a climbing pole as I sit and type, and his claws are like scythes. Since he and his brother wrestle a lot, he is used to playing rough. Only we don’t have a thick fur to protect ourselves.

It doesn’t help that John snatches his hand away and then dangles it over him, thus encouraging further horseplay. I’ve been caught out more than once myself, and my hands are criss-crossed with fine scars (they only just break the skin—it’s not as if Albert means harm, not compared to what he can do if he catches you by accident—but the skin on the back of my hands is angry and chaffed as a result).

We try to ignore Albert when he is in play mode, but to no avail. He doesn’t really care that much if we stop interacting with him and doesn’t make the connection. On the other hand, he may rub his chin against us and lick our noses one moment, then grab us with extended claws the next. It’s all the same to him.

So, enough. I went in search for the nailclips, some treats, and then for Albert.

I must admit that I was nervous. I waited until he started to wake up after a period of rest following the morning’s Grand Chase Around the House, then grabbed him and stroked him while I found the right position for the nailclip. He didn’t notice. He sniffed at the clipper, then wriggled towards the treats I had secreted in a pill box. It only took three attempts and as many treats, to trim the tips of his claws and afterwards he continued to rub his chin on my hand.

Kittens put up with a lot without hard feelings.

But I feel like a bastard.


Monday, February 4th, 2008

Flickr is part of Yahoo, and Yahoo is about to be swallowed up by Microsoft.

I’m one of several hundred users who are preparing to up sticks and remove their photostream from Flickr if that happens.

However, it’s not as simple as backing up the entire stream on a bunch of CDs, or even on my website. I have a lot of photos, a basic hosting package and no CD burner (no, really!) I also don’t believe in hard drives, which is why I just bought an EeePC with a 4 (four) GB solid state drive.

As you can probably tell, I believe that the future is in online storage and web-based applications. Even if that means putting my trust in Google, for now.

But this makes it difficult to export my Flickr photostream to another photo sharing site.

Until I discovered the Flickr Importer Tool on (via the Microsoft: keep your evil grubby hands off of our Flickr pool, natch).

This smart little script imports 200 of your photos at a time, starting at the beginning and keeps right on going.
[read on]


Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

The sun is still shining. But to compensate, blizzards and storms have left hundreds of cars stranded in the north of England and driven two ships aground.

Meanwhile we are snuggling up next to the heater with our two new houseguests. Meet Albert and Cedric, our mates’ Norwegian Forest Cats. We’re looking after them while their owners are travelling China:

Cedric and Albert