Archive for December 2011

The Christmas Snow Leopard Came Early   5 comments

The cats were ready for their present. So, the Christmas Snow Leopard came tonight rather than tomorrow. Probably easier on the roof that way. Each cat got a toy mouse from the Snow Leopard Trust.
Luna's Mouse
The mice were made in Mongolia. Shepherds used to kill snow leopards, as they were viewed as a threat to their flock. The Snow Leopard Trust buys goods such as these mice from these nomadic communities in exchange for their protecting the snow leopards. It’s a win-win for the people and the cats.
Beso Unwraps His Mouse
The cats seem to enjoy them. Beso got a yellow one, which matched his fur. Luna got a pink one (because she’s a girl). Eddy got a brown one, as it was the only unassigned color. However. they are quite willing to share–even if someone else’s mouse is just a few inches closer.
Eddy Plays with Luna's Mouse
I think it’s great my house cats can have fun and help a wild cats.
Luna Plays with Beso's Mouse
Below, a snow leopard cub at the Chattanooga Zoo, taken March, 2011.
Snug Behind Mom

Noisy Polar Bears   1 comment

I also took a video yesterday, of polar bears, including some vocalization. There is some noise from the camera as it focuses–still learning the ins and outs.

Posted 2011-12-24 by Mr. Guilt in animals, Cincinnati, Cincinnati Zoo

Stalking the Night Hunters   6 comments

As you may recall, I’ve been frustrated by the “Night Hunters” exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. It’s become nearly impossible to take good photos there.
Caitlin & Rebecca by the Christmas Tree
As an early Christmas present, I got a bit of technology to help. I’m going to have to learn how to tune it, but I may have cracked it!

Unfortunately, the fishing cats choose to stay out of sight. Some of my other favorites were out. One I’ve been quite taken with lately is the clouded leopard, with his great camouflage.
Camouflaged in the Trees
The clouded leopard has to things that I find cool. First, it has, in my opinion, the coolest scientific name of any of the cats: Neofelis nebulosa. The other thing has to do with its teeth. Relative to their body size, clouded leopards have the largest canines of any of the cats. Their fangs are the same size as those of a tiger.
Yawning Clouded Leopard

The black-footed cats were quite active.
Sharp BFC

One sand cat slept…
Sleepy Sand Cat

…while the other snubbed.
San Cat Snub

Though one eventually walked around a bit.
Coming Down the Mountain

The caracal dozed behind a rock.
Shy Caracal

The ocelot pondered life.
Pensive Ocelot

As I said, I still need to learn a bit about how to tune for the lighting. This binturong shows how far I have to go on that front.
Little Binturong

This Eurasian owl posed with his toy.
Eurasian Owl & Toy

Outside the Night Hunters is the domain of the cougars.
Big KItty is Watching You

While walking, we saw some keepers taking their cows for a walk.
Taking the Cows for a Walk

The lionesses were acting like bookends.
Lioness Bookends
Across from their enclose, a crew was working on the lights display. The one on the left watched them very intently. Obviously, feline supervision is true for cats of any size.

The polar bears were sharing a stick!
Polar Bears Sharing a Stick

While a bit gloomy, it was a good day at the zoo.
Rhino Nutcracker

The Cat’s in the Bag   Leave a comment

Cat's in the Bag

Posted 2011-12-23 by Mr. Guilt in Beso, cats, Family, felis silvestris catus

No One Wants to Pose   1 comment

Dozing Eddy
All the cats are asleep.
Dozing Luna
Which is unfortunate, as I have a new toy I want to play with.
Dozing Beso
Well, they’re still cute…

Posted 2011-12-22 by Mr. Guilt in Beso, cats, Eddy, Family, felis silvestris catus, Luna

Five Batches of Pralines   2 comments

Around the holidays, I make pralines. Somewhat of a tradition. This year, I think I made the most I ever did: five batches.

Wrapped for teachersOne batch was for us. The balance went to other folks, including:

  • An event for Ohio Alleycat Resource, the group we adopted Beso and Luna from.
  • A batch that was split between my office and my wife’s. Mine went pretty quickly.
  • A batch for my daughter’s teachers. This is one I’m kinda proud of. My wife thought we should do a bit better than the ziplock bag I usually put them in. I had some clear cellophane wrap, so I figured out a really creative way to wrap them. The results are to the right, and, like I said, I’m really pleased with how they came out.
  • The final batch, made today, was for my daughter’s piano and dance recital.

NutsThe recipe is quite simple, and, I suppose it is a family recipe (or at least I’ve come to treat it as such). All told, I used a fair amount of stuff. Each batch had a pound of pecans–I buy them in bulk from Sam’s club. One-and-a-quarter pounds of butter were used this season. My teeth ache just thinking about all the sugar (white and brown) I went through.

However, I know they are also a very popular treat, and I’m glad I can share a little bit of Louisiana with all my friends in Ohio. And, if someone were to ask me right now, I’m sure I’d be heating up a pot and spreading out some wax paper.
The Last Batch(?)

Posted 2011-12-18 by Mr. Guilt in food

Watching Birds   Leave a comment

The kittens have started to take a greater interest in the front window. Here they are watching birds on a Sunday morning.
Watching Birds

Posted 2011-12-11 by Mr. Guilt in Beso, cats, Family, felis silvestris catus, Luna

Pen Profile: Retro 1951 Tornado   6 comments

Retro 1951 Tornados
Jet Pens, an online pen retailer I’ve been following, recently started carrying my favorite rollerball, the Retro 1951 Tornado. Three Tornados, including a fountain pen and a limited edition “Hula” version (both gifts), are in my collection. Many have been given as gifts.

The Tornado is what I describe as a “business casual” pen. It is definitely nice enough not to be mistaken for something from the supply closet, yet has styling that makes it fun. It has a fairly moderate price, making it a great pen to give as a gift. We’ve probably given a half-dozen or more. Most have been for graduations or for bar or bat mitzvahs–a great first fine writing instrument for young people–though it’s been good for a host of other folks.

As I mentioned, this pen qualifies as my favorite rollerball. A brief side note about different types of “ball pen” ink. Fountain pen collectors sometimes say that all a ball pen is is a fancy holder for a refill. While the body of the pen dictates grip and balance of the pen, the refill influences many the writing characteristics, as well as how the ink looks on the page. Ballpoints came about in the 1940s. The cartridge contains a paste-like ink, which is picked up by the textured ball at the tip. The ink is transferred (“smudged”) onto the paper. Unlike a wet ink, which is absorbed by the paper, the paste sits on top of the paper. This is why check washing is possible. Since ballpoints do not need to be capped, they are commonly retractable, and thus convenient in some situations. They are also better for carbons that fountain pens (though I just sign each copy).

In contrast, rollerball pens are a newer technology (starting in the late 1980s), and use a liquid or gel ink and a smooth ball. Early ones had to be capped like a fountain pen. As the technology improved, “capless” rollerballs were introduced, and, along with that, retractable ones. It provides a balance between some of the convenience ballpoints afford with some of the vibrant look on the page and pleasure of writing afforded by a fountain pen.

Retro 1951 RollerballOut of the box, the Tornado comes with a rollerball refill. This provides a good, vibrant ink. It is a standard enough refill that it can be found without too much difficulty. It also takes a Parker Jotter style refill, which is made by a variety of companies with a variety of colors and types of ink (both ballpoint and gel). The tip is extended and retracted by twisting the back of the pen (above the clip). While it is relatively heavy for its size, it is well balanced, and the tapered barrel allows it to be comfortable in any hand.

The original lacquer finish is quite durable, and can stand up to a fair amount of abuse. The glossy finish looks good against its chrome accents, and peeks out of the pocket with the right balance of serious and playfulness. It definitely achieves being a “nice pen” while not being a stuffy Mont Blanc or a bland Cross Century. It comes in a variety of colors, as well as some fun, limited edition finishes. One of the more clever limited editions is a “Suduko” model, which has a suduko puzzle printed on the pen.

The Tornado also comes as a mechanical pencil and, as I mentioned earlier, a fountain pen. The fountain pen is a fairly nice piece with a good nib. For an entry-level fountain pen, it probably is my second-favorite writer, after the Lamy Safari family.* I only have two quibbles about the fountain pen. First, when posting the cap, it doesn’t stay on in a very stable fashion–it sometimes wiggles. This is not a huge deal (I’ve seen worse), but can be frustrating. Second, the barrel is relatively short. While it can take “international” sized cartridges, they have to be the short size. These are commonly available. However, I prefer to fill from the bottle, but, most convertors do not readily fit. I was able to find a “mini-convertor” that would allow for the short size, but they aren’t everywhere. Again, not a deal-breaker, but something to be aware of.

Overall, I think the Tornado is a great pen for someone who wants a nice pen, but one with lots of character. Its price point makes it a great gift, and it offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of refills as well as companion pieces.

Cincinnati peeps can pick up a Retro 1951 Tornado at Appointments in the Carew Tower. Support local businesses!

*A subject of a future post.

Posted 2011-12-06 by Mr. Guilt in Fountain Pens, Pen Profile

Belly Rub Central   1 comment

Can anyone help a kitty out?
Belly Rub Central

Posted 2011-12-01 by Mr. Guilt in Beso, cats, Family, felis silvestris catus, Luna

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