The loss of a pet is one of the most difficult topics for me to write about. Yet, I feel it is necessary to help capture the memory. Merlin certainly deserves at least that much. There is so much worth remembering. Certainly more than I can fit into a single post.
Merlin was a rescue kitten that was supposed to stay around until he got better. The running joke is that he never did get better since he stayed around anyway. His sneezing fits where certainly something to see. Later we discovered Merlin also had asthma and needed a daily inhaler. Most people can’t imagine giving a cat an inhaler, but he took it very well.
Merlin had a pretty unique personality, but he was still a cat. I think it took him a while to figure that out though. Not many kittens will chase a dog around the house. At some point, the idea of being a cat settle in and he acquired an obsession with cat nip and cardboard boxes. He even went as far as creating hidden stashes of his favorite Nepeta.
A friend of our described the loss the best when he said “[we] had a loss in the family.” Merlin was part of our daily routine. Just like with the loss of Rose, this loss left a large gap in our lives. Merlin was well loved cat and we will never forget him. You will be missed Merlin.
I was recently reminded that I have not updated my pictures in a while and, in particular, my pet album was missing a few. So, for the friends and family readers, I give you Green, Yellow, and Orange the hermit crabs and some Faye pup pictures. Our other hermit crab, Red, is probably molting right now so we didn’t dig him up for a photo shoot.
August has been so busy I haven’t had a chance to update the site. There are a lot of topics I want to write on such as Spring 3.x REST, XStream version-able serialazation of data models, and Android’s GLSurface view; but today I am writing about how amazing life was for the past month.
St Louis & Birthday
Some of my family had never been to St. Louis and they had free weekend so we made a mini vacation trip to our usual spots. As always we got some great pictures at the zoo and we got there early enough to see the sting rays for free. We even managed to get a fair amount of Geocaching in around Forest Park and downtown St. Louis.
Shortly after the St. Louis trip, my birthday came around. We had more family come up and visit, much good food was consumed, and the gifts where perfect. I now have an amazing Geocaching GPS, and enough puzzles and games to keep my mind busy for a least a year.
This hobby is becoming an obsession, with hunts in August ranging over 500 miles. I even took a few groups from work out on their first hunt. However, the highlight of the trips was being with a 9 month pregnant friend of ours that scaled a 300 ft hill/rock-formation and she loved it (see pictures below). That trip even won out over the cave diving and hikes around the Devil’s Icebox.
What do you get a dad that gets everything he wants well before Father's Day comes around? Someone let me know what they come up with. As for me, I have decided to dedicate a 'thank you' in the form of a post that will eventually be indexed by Google, cached by Facebook, and backed up around the world on redundant servers. How's that for immortalizing a token of gratitude?
Though we don't get to go flying and pick up crawfish on Sundays, I know we both still think about them. Luckily, we still get to do some of the things we used to, such as going to the Colonial and Oaklawn, but not nearly as often as either of us would like. However, some of our old activities such as playing chess and working on electronics ended up shaping a great deal of how I think and what I do, and for that I am thankful.
I am still amazed that 20+ years later you alway seem to have to find a way for me to cross that darn road when it floods. Don't work too much and find a way to do something fun on Father's Day.
Happy Father's Day,
Pet Pictures and Faye
It has been a while since I managed to get some good pictures of the pets up and I got a few that are really good. Faye and Merlin both like to sit at the back door and watch the birds. It is fairly rare that both of them sit this close without one of them antagonizing the other. I also had to put up the picture of Faye and her favorite toy frog. There are more pictures in the pet gallery.
Faye has also learned a great number of tricks. She can do the following commands very well: sit, stay, down, roll over, up/jump, shake, high-five, and follow. Pretty amazing that a hyperactive 11 month old puppy can retain so much.
GeoCaching a New Hobby
We recently picked up the hobby of GeoCaching. We have friends and family that have tried it out and really like it so we decided to give it a try. Our first day was more difficult than it should have been but it turned out to be rather rewarding. Since we started last week, we have found 8 caches in the Columbia MO area. Since I like to have some record of our caches that everyone can see, I made a simple Google Maps widget to show our caches.
Due to copyright issues I cannot include information from the main site but clicking on the markers will take you to the official GeoCaching website with the details (registration may be required to see certain details).
Site Hits 1000 Monthly Reads
To my surprise, the site has actually got more visitors than I expected. For the past several weeks the blog alone has averaged over a 1000 visits over a rolling 30 day period. What I find most interesting is that 80%+ come straight from search engines (mostly Google) and another 10%-15% come from referring sites such as StackOverflow and other blogs. Furthermore, I use no ads or external sources to attract visitors.
This is a bit late, but I wanted to make sure I got these pictures up. We got to take a quick trip to St. Louis to meek Faye before we adopted her, and we made some our usual St. Louis rounds. The most interesting part of this trip was the zoo. We got there early and the weather was cool which some of the animals seem to prefer.
The penguins where highly excitable and doing some pretty neat aquatic tricks. The tigers were even playing; hearing a tiger roar is a unique experience. The giraffes were practically within arms reach. And the peafowl where attempting to mate.
Normally I’m not too much into the mating process of animals but being within two feet of a free roaming peacock with his feathers fully extended is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
If you don’t know about the zombie killing board game Last Night On Earth, this post will be pretty meaningless. Else, if you find that one side seems to have an unfair advantage in battle, keep reading.
This little probability simulator/calculator is by no means complete but it’s an interesting start. I tried to make it pretty flexible but I am sure I missed some rules/bonuses. Basically, this simulator will roll the dice a few thousand times and follow the rules of the game to measure the outcome; crude, but the actual math behind some of these rules is very complex. Two notes on the usage, “H” is the highest hero die and “Z” is the highest zombie die and brackets are qualifiers. Enjoy and feel free to comment.
We’ve always wanted a dog, in particular a Corgi, and now we have Faye. Cowboy Bebop’s Ein probably had something to do with that. Anyone familiar with the anime will know that Faye is a fitting female name for an energetic little dog.
We found Faye up for adoption by Pet’s Second Chance, a Corgi rescue organization in St. Louis, on PetFinder. She was listed under the name Prudence along with her sister Patience. After meeting her the name Faye just stuck.
Like any pet, she has her peculiarities. She likes to pounce on us from something high up like a couch or stairs. She likes to “tunnel” where she crawls under everything. She has also earned the nickname of “goat” since she eats anything that fits in her mouth. Ironically, she doesn’t chew on much with the exception of her harness which is no longer of any use.
Like all puppies she is very energetic and I am very thankful she is crate trained. Though, the energy is nice when I want to take her for a run around the block. She seems to learn pretty quickly as well; to the point that she knows when you don’t have any treats.
Though we have only had Faye for a very short time, we already look forward to watching her grow and learn. Like Rose and Merlin, Faye will be part of our day from now on. Like all of our pets, she’ll probably be the subject of many future posts.
Rose had many names: lagomorph, bunny-bunny, rose-bunny, and at times poop-monster. I remember getting him about three years ago. He would run and kick into the side of his cage and we thought he was upset. Turns out he was just very excited and was trying to play. This playing turned into running and jumping down our hallway much like dancing. Since then, we have made many good memories and learned a lot about our little Rose.
First, and probably the most odd aspect of our rabbit, he was completely deaf. Deaf and fearless. He chased Merlin every chance he got and didn’t even budge when a Rottweiler laid siege on his cage. The deafness also made him a perfect pet for the kitchen where he would get to run around during breakfast everyday.
Rose also liked some rather strange things in life. “Litter Rain,” as we called it, was when we would dump fresh litter into his cage. He loved being under the bag when we poured it out. He also seemed to like ringing his little bell even though he was deaf.
Rose, also liked some normal bunny things like dandelions, fresh spinach, and he even had his own personal piece of drywall. He loved having his cheeks rubbed and would even purr if you did it right. If he was really comfy, he would sprawl out with his back legs behind him which really scared our vet the first time she saw it since she thought the rabbit had nerve damage after a surgery.
I don’t think either of us realized how much bunny had worked his way into our lives. The daily ritual of running around at breakfast and following us to the refrigerator and finally chasing the carrot around the room and back to his cage was just how the day was supposed to start. We even found Merlin sitting in bunny’s spot the other night looking around rather confused.
I think the picture below is probably the best way to remember Rose; always curious, always cute, and always close by. He will be missed.
Living in Missouri and vacationing in the Caribbean in the middle of winter is amazing. The trip had its ups and downs (mostly ups) and was all around very memorable. To see all of the photos goto the main photo album.
First, the trip to Miami was mostly uneventful with the exception that I am on a “list” at the airports. When I asked a TSA officer how I got on this “list” she replied with “we don’t do lists any more.” Yeah right, day after Christmas every major news network is talking about these lists that I was told don’t exist. Beyond this minor issue, the rest of the flights where uneventful.
Since we were staying at the JW Marriott, a 4 star luxury hotel, we assumed shuttle service from the airport to the hotel would be provided… wrong! At $20/person it was more than double a taxi ride that was sitting at the curb waiting on us. The Marriott itself had great service and wonderful rooms. However, everything costs extra (except their flaky wireless). Expect to pay $10/day for wired Internet access and $15+ for cereal and coffee.
After finding some affordable breakfast we headed to the port and waited in lines to go into more lines to finally get on the Carnival Glory. The ship was great; good food, good service, lots of activities and shows, the works. Christina got to join in the dance activities and I got to learn some up close illusions. The casino was nice and laid back as expected, but they installed auto-shuffle machines for blackjack and they had the worst lounge singer ever.
Our first stop, the Bahamas, was our favorite by far. Before we got off, we managed to get up before sunrise and get some amazing pictures and have some fresh pizza for breakfast. At Nassau, we toured the island but the highlight was the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo where we got to mingle with flamingos, feed Australian lorries and really tick off a lynx.
St. Thomas was next and we had high hopes. The island was very scenic but the weather was dreary. After eating way over priced cheeseburgers we got stuck out in the rain. We did manage to get some shore-side shopping done but going from the warm rain to the cold shops would later cause ill fortune for me. Also, if any young boy ever decided to look in the right places (in nearly plain sight no less) he could get an eye full with the numerous R rated beach towels and post cards.
Next up, Puerto Rico. At this point I was getting a sore throat from the poor weather in St. Thomas, but I pressed on. As soon as we got off of the boat we got swamped by “tour guide specialists” for some rides around the city. Since it was an official service we decided to give it try, but waiting 30+ minutes in a tour van for the tour quota to be met was not to our liking, so we ditched that idea. Instead we got our pictures taken with some birds and went shopping.
At this point in the trip I was sick. Bad enough sick that I got chicken noodle soup delivered to our state room. Thankfully, Carnival refunds shore excursion tickets for medical reasons. This also meant Christina had to go on the horse back riding tour without me, but from I can tell she loved it. Since I lounged around the ship I’ll simply post the pictures she managed to get on Grand Turk.
Swimming on horse back is awesome!
The return trip to Miami was rocky but made tolerable by winning the mega Bingo game (the only bingo we played the whole trip). We got to meet lots of interesting people: Beverly who we introduced to sushi, a British couple that were mistaken as our parents, and a very southern father/son duo. In short, an amazing vacation.