Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23 Links with Cat Sanctuary Update, Phenology, and Free Money

I typed something about posting "tomorrow"--on Friday. Well, duh, Priscilla King's "tomorrow" is the next day the person who writes under that name goes online, but I was interested enough in some things I was doing to consider going online on Saturday, as of last Friday. However...on Thursday I talked to a sponsor who'd pleaded illness, and then a family Continuing Crisis (the thirty-something forever-adolescent daughter drama, youall know how that goes I'm sure), as excuses for not using that Patreon page I set up just for her family business. I actually like their business and have snapped photos of their merchandise all ready to embed in blog posts! Just add money! But, anyway, on Saturday I found out about her illness. Repeated tests suggest that the latest batch of Planters peanuts is, once again, contaminated with glyphosate residues, so I had icky nasty celiac sprue reactions all last week, and lowered after talking to this person in real life, sure enough, within 48 hours I was feeling the symptoms of which she'd been complaining. I wasn't "down" in bed between Saturday and yesterday, but I did take record numbers of naps, and when I lay down (especially on Monday) I did feel as if the bed were on a boat rather than in a house; sort of a pleasant nostalgic feeling for napping purposes, but I didn't want to risk a long walk, or getting chilled, or drinking coffee before eating solid food in a place where about the only formerly-safe food available would be Planters peanuts.

Anyway, this is Priscilla King's "tomorrow," as of Friday, and yes, full-length posts go live today too...and do I ever have a ton of e-mail to catch up with...after sorting out the spam, bacon, and "urgent" things that have already passed their "urgent" read-by dates, four pages of e-mail  (I recommend that everybody whose e-mail is expanding to fill their available time create a Bacon Folder for storing all the e-mails for which the headlines are probably all you want to read, like all those e-mails that came in on Sunday with headlines like "Chuck Berry died." I wanted that information; I probably don't need to read all the obituaries everyone Out There has sold to one or more'zines. So that's the sort of thing those of us who receive a lot of e-mail call bacon, as in the pet treat that smells so good you don't even need to eat it.)


If you like these full-length posts, fund them.

You can commission the topic of a full-length post at your web site or mine:

Those sites take a bite out of the money they process online. If you'd rather not pay for the "convenience" of online payment, you can mail U.S. postal money orders to: Boxholder, P.O. Box 322, Gate City, Virginia, 24251-0322.

Animals (Cat Sanctuary Update)

Polydactylism is a genetic mutation that occurs in several species, including cats and humans, causing individuals to be born with extra toes (or fingers). Sometimes the extra digits are incomplete or grow together, often they don't move independently, and usually, like the toe in the "thumb position" on a normal cat's forepaws, they don't work in full opposition to other toes and allow a cat to grip things in the way a human or raccoon does...

My polydactyl cat Heather, however, is not an ordinary cat...not even an ordinary polydactyl calico cat. She's another one of those cats whose intelligence sometimes seems alarming.

Most cats don't "make hands" to grip things. Why should they? They have claws. If an especially intelligent cat really likes you, however, it may practice and develop the ability to hold your fingertip between the soft pads of its paw and toes. This won't be like, or feel like, having a raccoon or baby human grip your finger in its tiny hand; but it is a special kind of caress. Cats and sometimes kittens don't use this move when grooming themselves or one another. Insulated by their fur, they like being scratched in the standard claws-out kneading move. So if they extend the kneading move to hold your sensitive human skin between their sensitive hairless pads, they care about you and are paying attention to your reactions. This is the point at which most women can identify a cat as being smarter, in crucial ways, than a few guys we kissed when we were young and ignorant.

My cat Mogwai, who was not an ordinary cat either, seriously attempted to give me trigger-point massage with her toe and paw pads only when she was just four or five months old, an age when a normal kitten is barely figuring out how to retract its claws. Mogwai must have got the idea from seeing me pause what I was doing and give myself trigger-point massage, and stretching exercises, to relieve peripheral pain from the leg injury I had that year. Most cats never see that. However, none of Mogwai's immediate family made the effort to try to copy my massage moves. Obviously there's no way a kitten can apply enough weight to a human leg to do a successful trigger-point massage, and no use trying to do it anyway--but Mogwai's trying it was what convinced me that she was going to become a once-in-a-lifetime pet. (Even if she did eventually misuse her intelligence and have to become an indoor once-in-a-lifetime pet.)

Heather is Mogwai's great-niece in the direct maternal line, with a big tough feral polydactyl tomcat in her paternal line. Only a rat could possibly agree with the claim that calico cats, especially the ones with mostly black and orange fur that forms more mottled "tortoiseshell" than solid spots, are "mean" after knowing Heather. She's a great hunter who brings home full-grown squirrels and rabbits to share, but even in defense of her family she's never shown any direct aggression toward other cats. Her six-toed forepaws turn out when she walks and look like fully opposable hands, and she started gripping my fingertips with the pads as a kitten, but her paws never seemed fully opposable.

Until this winter. After five years of practice, Heather has built up the ability...they're still opposing toes, not fingers, and she'll never get as much use out of them as a human or raccoon does, but lately when she's stood on her hind legs and grabbed my fingers Heather has been opposing her toes to grip like a baby human. Her thumbs really are working like thumbs.

Animals (Generally) 

Mudpie's Human reports on unsuspected hazards to cats. The good news is that, although cats often make themselves sick by sampling human food or eating things they catch outdoors, the damage is usually limited to short-term indigestion and they usually learn not to eat the indigestible things again...except with poisons and "medications" and, if it tastes more buttery than sugary so that they eat a lot of it, chocolate. (Some vets think a majority of cats actually have lactose intolerance, although most cats like milk; some lactose-intolerant cats will persist in lapping up milk or cream even though it upsets their digestion.)

Wendy Welch tackles LOLcat dialect...I'm not keen on dialect writing generally, but I'll put up with it because the true kitten story is so cute. If you're in Big Stone Gap, drop in and say hello to the kittens. If not, it's worth going there to visit the Little Bookstore...take a couple hundred dollars and a backpack, if not a rolling suitcase.

So, adorable cat day?

Turtle from Atlanta...they listed her as black and white but she's actually a dark calico, and actually that's not uncommon:

Kahn from Arlington:
Oreo from New York:

Bad News That's No News 

Not a link because you've already heard/read about it, but this web site officially observes a moment of silence and extends condolences to survivors of the attack on London. Youall already did that.

But I will comment on this tidbit: "Atheist prayers"? Awww. Be gentle with the poor Twit. Grief can trigger episodes of foot-and-mouth disease. Once upon hearing that a good friend had died (after having missed the funeral) what I immediately blurted out to her grieving father was "What are you going to do with her house?" And that's not nearly as bad as it gets; "civilized" people often verbally attack a family member or health care provider, claiming or implying that the loss was the other person's fault; there are countries where, within living memories, the norm used to be for bereaved families to scatter because one family member was likely not only to blame but to kill others. So help me...and may God help poor Laurie Penny. People who are normally articulate and not feeble-minded don't do things like this in order to aggravate other people's emotional pain. They do them because, due to their own emotional pain, they're not thinking.


+Ruth O'Neil (I hope that's the right Google + link) reports on Melanie Snitker's Christian romance novels, with an excerpt from Finding Peace: 


+Mona Andrei defines "trashy" manners and gives an example...if I ever hear of any of The Nephews doing this, so help me, I will go to your school, sing out loud, and breakdance. And the words of the song will include "I am going out of my mind because [name] is embarrassing me to death." Yes.

Free Money 

The computer shows renewed interest in this old post, and yes, it's relevant again; on the way into town this morning I saw lots of aluminum cans.


Here goes another blogger in a blaze of good resolutions. Cheers to the Barefoot. Exercise will kick diabetes' you-know-what if you work with the diet and meds as needed! I'd rather see and share posts about people hanging in there with walking or bicycling resolutions, but starting is good.

Phenology Links 

The March re-freeze has come and gone. It wasn't even redbud winter because, although ornamental Prunus had bloomed and was frostbitten, most of the dogwoods and redbuds (which usually bloom first) haven't bloomed yet. Warm weather returned on Monday night. On Tuesday, the daffodils, dandelions, crocus, and vincas that hadn't already been frostbitten started blooming, and a really weird sight popped up in the not-a-lawn under the privet cell phone wouldn't even do a picture that focussed enough to show how weird it was. What it was was a morel--but a frostbitten morel. The slightly grainy but basically smooth stem was distinct from the wrinkled cap, but the cap hadn't developed fully enough to form the deep wrinkles that form the cap of a normal healthy morel. It looked like Morchella diminutiva (as shown at the link below), only even smaller. The whole thing, stem, cap, and all, was about two-thirds the size of the end of my little finger. (Actually, the morels that grow on the decomposing hardwood around the shed are normally the larger and darker of our two common types.)

Here's what M. diminutiva are supposed to look like:

Mycologists have changed the species names for North American morels since the last time this web site considered them. There was a straightforward system based on identification with similar-looking European species, but in the last couple years DNA tests have suggested a completely different taxonomy for North American morels, with what may be genetically distinct species that look identical as well as genetically identical species that can look different. Here's the kind I usually find near home, in years when I find any, which depends on the weather and the tastes of the current possum in residence. (Possums are night feeders; morels pop up through the ground at night; some possums like morels, some don't.) I grew up thinking of them as the big dark-colored later-season kind.

Here's a kind I have found, but not on my own property...I think of these as the-late-season-kind-I've-found-even-in-Maryland.

Here's a kind that's actually more common in my corner of Virginia, not (so far) found in the not-a-lawn at the Cat Sanctuary, but common in the woods above them. I think of these as the normal kind. I've not harvested them since a relative's headaches were diagnosed as multiple sclerosis, in time for the disease to be brought under control while he still has some ability to walk and work. Morel picking is his favorite thing and I've taken the emergence of morels on my property, which my father wanted to see but never saw, as an indication that I should leave the woods between our grandparents' homes to him.

Numbers of the common, early-in-the-season species may turn out to be overestimated if more extensive DNA studies provide a clear distinction between esculentoides and cryptica, described as looking identical, growing identically, but genetically disparate. This is the kind of thing that makes us wonder whether field biologists are having fun at our expense...

+Beth Ann Chiles has an Easter lily in bloom...but it's indoors! Do indoor plants, or plants moved in and out depending on the weather, count for phenological purposes?

+Martha DeMeo shares a virtual walk on a South Carolina beach, noting an unusual find:

Political Correctness 

Today's e-mail included, from a "conservative" contact, the headline "The Business Case for LGBT[ETC.] Inclusiveness." This web site isn't going to link to that, but it is going to respond, thusly: This web site is inclusive of people who are, among other things, members of "sexual minorities." This web site prefers, and is arguably obligated by its contract, to stay away from discussions of what constitutes a "sexual minority," how intense your preference has to be, how much it has to complicate your life, etc., for reasons of taste and family-friendliness. This web site does not generally endorse anybody whose public discourse focusses on their sexuality or anyone else's. (Parenting, yes; the act by which young Christian couples become parents, no.) The only "sexual minority" that interests this web site as exemplary for my teenaged Nephews are the asexuals. However, this web site does, not infrequently, endorse people who've actually accomplished something that is sex-free and interesting, who also belong to "sexual minorities." We actively promote, e.g., books like this one, which contains not one word about sex, but nobody ever got any points for guessing what "The Master" later admitted in a book this web site is not promoting:

 "Glorious Color"
Glorious Color

Apart from a few nods to Black History Month and Women's History Month, the links and endorsements at this web site are generally organized by topic, not by demographics. I don't always know what authors and other creative types look like, much less what they get up to in their own homes. Nor do I care.

This web site does, however, support religious freedom for those who believe either (a) that anyone whose lifestyle noticeably displays any sexual choices other than monogamous marriage or celibacy is disqualified from representing a religious group, or (b) that God wants them to withhold their social support from other people's sexual choices. (Fwiw, I agree with (a) although not (b).) I think it's inappropriate to apply any kind of pressure to religious people to do anything that offers "business advantages." Tim Keller, also, has this web site's support.


+Alana Mautone reports on a splendid old lady:


I've mentioned knitting orange things for Tennessee fans. What about burgundy for Virginia Tech or blue and white for Kentucky sports fans? (Gate City is the home of several of each.) Well, duh...burgundy is also for the Washington football team, and blue and white is for, er um, Gate City, not even to mention Duke. Anyway, for blue-and-white college basketball fans, Bing predicts the U. of K. will beat U.C.L.A. tomorrow night, but it should be a close match. Statistics:


This poor stupid "Sheila" doesn't have grief for an excuse. She's just lashing out at the women who disagree with her, rather than trying to use the power of sisterhood. She also doesn't seem to have noticed that in most of the technologically "advanced" countries there aren't enough jobs for all the women and men who want and need them, while in the poorer countries there may be plenty of unskilled labor jobs for people to do but they don't pay enough to send the children to school. How weird is it that it's possible for an article as stupid as hers to get published?


Before spending the first half of this week in flu-fighting mode, I'd hoped I might be able to use it to generate two distinct conceptual fiction stories for two distinct contests. I wrote one story last week but haven't thought of any more stories this week...I don't usually think in science fiction. Elizabeth Barrette does. Here's a selection of short-stories-or-free-verse-poems, from existing series, you can sponsor...the way these story/poems work is that she's already written them ahead of posting time, and she posts them as sponsors pay to see them.


Once again: legitimate survey site will slowly but surely reward you with giftcards to use with major chain stores (or even tax-deductible charities, if you prefer). You can join Yougov all by yourself, but if you use this link both you and I will get a few extra points toward our next shopping spree, and I want to play with that "Scarfie" novelty yarn I saw at Michaels while it's still on the shelf.