Cheap Cat Toy

I love to watch our cats play. There’s the fun of seeing them come begging for morning snacks, then a quick swipe by one or the other (usually Johnny) starts the morning chase and wrestling session down the hall and into the front room. Sometimes, there’s the fun of putting a ball or squeaky mouse on the upper levels of the cat tree, and watching Johnny jump up and grab it, and going trotting off across the room showing that she got it!

But one thing that often gives them lots of fun is the cheapest thing I’ve found for a cat toy. I don’t count Amazon boxes, even though they seem to find those pretty fun for jumping in and gnawing on, since you have to buy the contents of those boxes.

No, the toy I’m talking about, you can pick up just about anywhere on a card with a couple of dozen for just a couple of bucks.

Johnny with Hair Tie
Johnny About To Pounce The Evil Hair Tie!

Johnny particularly loves to play with my hair ties – especially after I’ve worn them for a while. She sends them skating across the floor, and under doors, and then spends quite a bit of time trying to reach under the door and snake them back out.

Night sometimes gets in on the action as well, though they haven’t quite caught on to the idea of playing hockey with them. I’m sure they will get that down soon enough. Sometimes, I use the handle of one of the other toys we have for them to catch one of the ties and send it zooming down the hall – and then I get to watch Johnny slip and slide while she tries to run after it, and then comes the slide when she pounces on it and starts smacking it around!

So, yeah, I’m very grateful that such a cheap little toy provides our kitties so much fun!

A Little Black Silhouette

We don’t keep the apartment lit up super-bright. So, it’s really kind of interesting to watch our cats wander around doing cat things. Especially with one of them – Night – often appearing as little more than a black hole in space ghosting through the apartment. It’s hard to explain, but their purity of movement, and especially Night’s appearance at times as just the essence of cat, smooth curves and silent steps, reminds me that cats chose to move in with humans, to provide us with their silent wisdom and comforting warm purring.

Of course, Night, having been brought in from the wild to live with us, is not quite the cuddler, at least not with me. Still, watching her curled up on Doreen’s bed, or slipping down the hallway, just emphasizes the elegance that is Cat.

Night contemplates the drink of water she just took.
Night contemplates the drink of water she just took.

And I always appreciate and am grateful for the beauty that is cats.

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And a Happy Birthday!

One year ago, we returned from WalMart to discover that the stray mother cat we’d brought in from the wild had had her first kitten. The little bundle of warm fluff was so very very tiny.

And she started to grow, along with her siblings. But that growth was not steady – there were ups and downs, downturns that made us fear we would lose her, as we did indeed end up losing her siblings, and in the end, her mother.

And so, today, we are so very grateful for the wonderful luck of having such a friendly, energetic, and playful cat in our lives. Shortly before we were pretty sure she was going to survive, I was lucky enough to introduce Doreen to the movie Short Circuit, with the cute robot who manages to overcome all obstacles with the rallying cry of Johnny 5 Is Alive! And so in honor of that spirit, which our little Johnny (previously known as 3pm) shared, we named her Johnny 5.

And she makes no bones about demonstrating the fact that she is alive, and awake, and wants us to play with her!

Johnny's life in pictures - from 3 days of age to her current size
Johnny’s life in pictures – from 3 days of age to her current size

Happy Birthday, Johnny 5! And here’s hoping that despite your feline leukemia, you have more happy ones to follow!

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Thank you for the music…

I did not, as some do, “grow up with music.” But music was often in the background, providing a tempo to my life. And over time, certain songs and albums have taken on special meaning for me.

I grew up listening to a certain amount of country music, but mostly, I listened to ABBA, Styx, Supertramp, Alabama, etc. Some of the songs that particularly stuck with me:

  • The Logical Song – Supertramp
  • I Touch Roses – Book of Love
  • Styx – Renegade
  • Styx – Come Sail Away
Two of ABBA's greatest songs
The two songs playing here sum up the optimism that I look for in life.

But ultimately, ABBA probably had the most influence, with two of their greatest songs:  “I Have A Dream” and, well…  the title of this post, “Thank You For The Music”




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Grateful for … the little things

I am grateful, very grateful indeed, for some of the little things in my life. My phone, my tablet – they both bring me great joy.

I’ve always been something of a bookwyrm – a dragon guarding his hoard of treasures of paper and ink. Unfortunately, the lair I hoarded them in was not watertight, and I ended up losing most of them.


When one door closes ...

Still, one door closes, one door opens – or you check the windows to see if one was left unlocked, check the chimney, check to see if you can tunnel under and come up in… There’s pretty much always a way.


Jamey's current way

And that way is the tiny little devices that store thousands of books, while letting me carry them in my hand or pocket, and select from any of them at any time. And they connect to that vast storehouse of knowledge, the new linkage that is turning Humanity into the Mind of the Planet – the Internet. There, I find Amazon’s Free Books list, or Project Gutenberg’s selection of works remembered through the ages. Baen Publishing has their Free Library, TOR occasionally releases a freebie – and of course I buy books that I really enjoy, often even if I’ve already gotten them for free.

And it’s not just books on my phone and tablet – music, games (I’m a big fan of the old RPG style games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior. There’s a lot of them out there, plenty to keep me playing for a long, long time yet!)

Jamey's treasure hoarding dragon side is grateful for his collection of e-books, video games and music on his cell phone and tablet.
Jamey’s treasure hoarding dragon side is grateful for his collection of e-books, video games and music on his cell phone and tablet.


So I’m grateful for these little modern miracles of mental stimulation that I would never have dreamed of having back when I started growing my original hoard. Now, my hoard is glowing letters on little screens – but it’s just as valuable, because it was always the thoughts behind the words that meant the most to me.


Grateful For Math!

JaI know, yeah. Nobody really likes math, right? But I am grateful for math and all it does for me!

Pretty Pictures
Color fractal generated by me!
Color fractal generated by me!

Really simple math, repeated many thousands and thousands of times (which is why we use computers to do it), generates really neat patterns like this one, and so many many others. The same math, extended and used with care, lets movie makers and game designers create amazingly realistic scenery of places that never existed, and ensures no two examples look alike, unless they want them to.

Calms My Fears

I’m sure most everyone has seen that picture on the Internet claiming to show that radioactive waste from the Fukishima Nuclear Reactors is contaminating the entire Pacific Ocean. It’s got tendrils of angry red sweeping out from a red and purple body trailing around the edge along the West Coast of the USA, and out across the rest of the ocean. Unfortunately, it’s a fake – it’s actually predicted wave heights from tidal waves caused by the earthquake that caused the Fukashima reactors to break down. Yay, Math helping to save lives! But I knew that things weren’t really nearly as bad as that chart was showing, because I did a bit of math in my head about the publicly announced leakage rates (I used the worst ones claimed by the people wanting it to be as scary as possible), and jotted a few numbers to figure out that it would take several trillion years for the Pacific Ocean to be that badly contaminated, by which time the radioactive half-life of the waste would have made it harmless!

Likewise, the scare stories about the Deepwater drilling rig disaster. Sure, in our normal experiences of pumping gas into our cars, it was a lot of oil. But when you compare it to how much water there is in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s just nothing! And since there’s normally oil seeps all over the world in the bottom of the oceans (and even on land – the La Brea Tar Pits, oil seeps in Pennsylvania that led to the first major oil wells being drilled there), there’s bugs that eat oil – and they would be feasting on the oil from the leak. Sure, a lot of it floats – it takes a very small drop of oil to make a really big shiny layer on a pool of water – but a lot of it gets eaten, making bugs that then get eaten by other things. It just wasn’t that big a disaster.

Or the horror of nuclear waste. Again, I dug up the worst claimed amounts of nuclear waste created per year. I made several estimates of the average density of that waste, and figured out how much space it would take up. I was actually rather surprised at how small it is! Then I went and dug up the size of some of the craters from nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s, and did some simple division. Would you believe we could stack all of that waste into just one of those already radioactive craters for over 100 years before it would fill up? And there’s quite a few of those craters still out there…

Mathematical Puzzles

There’s all kinds of really fun little math puzzles I enjoy. Things like Sudoku, to really odd ones like the Kollatz Conjecture. I trawl YouTube looking for videos on them. Some of my favorite channels include Mathphile, Computerphile, Sixty Symbols, and Three Brown One Blue.

So, really, I love math, and I’m grateful for the beauty and safety it provides me. How about you? Do you hate math, or do you think it can be all kinds of fun?


Unicorns: Beautiful Protectors and Healers

Jamey’s Unicorn post


Unicorn resting in forest glade
Normally this unicorn, the favorite in my collection, rests on my night stand.

I have long loved unicorns. From their appearances in myth, to the role they play in Piers Anthony’s Apprentice Adept series, to the people who love to dress up as one at RenFaires (Renaissance Festivals), they’re all good to me.

Unicorns represent, to me, flowing beauty with an offensive capability that, in legend, heals rather than wounds. My collection of Unicorns gives me a feeling that I am surrounded, in a herd, of protection. And I am always grateful for that.

And who knows, one day I may actually get off my duff and write my Great Fantasy Novel that revolves around dragons, unicorns and phoenixes. After all, I am something of a bookwyrm, protecting my treasure hoard of books…


The Simple Things – Hot Water

There are so many simple things to be grateful for.  Today, I wish to say that I am grateful for Hot Water.  No, that’s not a band, not a trendy new TV series.  That’s the stuff that comes out of the faucet when you want to wash your hands, wash your dishes, wash your clothes, or take a long luxurious hot shower letting the heat soak into your bones after a day out in cold nasty rainy weather.

Many take hot water for granted, but simple hot water, and the improvements in sanitation and hygiene it brings with it, are responsible for avoiding millions of sicknesses and deaths each year.  The easy availability of it is something that helps to separate a first world nation from a third world nation, and one of the things that as it becomes easily available, lifts those third world nations to first world status.

Now, normally, Doreen adds in a picture, often of our cats.  I thought about adding a picture of our water heater, but I suspect she would consider that not so nice.  So, instead, I’ll add this TED talk by one of their better presenters, Hans Rosling.  And after you’ve absorbed the good news and hope he presents in this video, check out his others at TED for even more good news and things to be grateful for!

Little Free Sharing (Library and Food Pantry)

So, Doreen normally does these “We Are Grateful For” posts, but all along, she’s wanted me to do some of these.

So, I’m doing one today.


Something I am grateful for:

The small ideas, shared over the Internet that can have a huge impact if repeated and implemented often enough.


Two cases in point:

The Little Free Libraries.  These are little boxes scattered around towns (we have three of them that I’ve found here where we live) that hold books free for the taking.  Of course, if everyone takes, they empty out quickly – so a lot of people simply put more books in.  Perhaps they put in books they bought and read and enjoyed, and want others to enjoy, perhaps they simply return ones they took and find new ones to take.  Either way, people share, and I find something that tells me that people actually aren’t nearly as bad as is painted in the news today.


Little Free Library
Little Free Library


The Little Free Pantries.  Again, little boxes scattered around towns, but this time, people put canned food, diapers, and other necessities free for anyone to take.  Again, of course someone has to put stuff in – sometimes, it’s churches, sometimes it’s people who had to take stuff at one point and are paying it forward, sometimes it’s just people who feel like doing it.  We just got one of these in our town – it’s a converted outdoor newspaper machine, with the coin box cut off and painted up nicely.  Apparently, according to the lady who put it up (who I know personally), it’s been doing nicely so far.


Little Free Pantry

    A Little Free Community Cupboard


Gratitude and Optimism

These kinds of things give me hope for the future.  They say to me that people really do care, people do share, and people will be there.  And I am so grateful for that, instead of all the negative news it is so easy for people to immerse themselves in.