Archive for July 2013

July, 2013 Hodge-Podge   2 comments

Apologies if this doubles as the “Summer Vacation 2013 Hodge-Podge.”

My daughter, writing in her journal.
Caitlin Journalling

We at a lot of arepas. Three different restaurants! We need more Latin American choices in Cincinnati!
Arepa

Our favorite place was in Montreal.
Arepa Place

We visit two pen stores. Paper Papier, in Ottawa, was recommended to me by @gourmetpens. My daughter got some stationary for a letter to her teacher.
Paper Papier

In Montreal, we visited Essence du Paper. It’s where my anniversary present came from. I dug this shop.
Essence du Paper

Even though it’s obvious that digital photography is rapidly displacing film, I was still surprised to see SanDisk co-equal to Kodak at tourist shops.
SanDisk Coequal to Kodak

Fencing at the Montreal Jazz Festival…notice the cat-notes.
Cat Notes

While on summer vacation in Nashville last year, we discovered Chuy’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant. We liked it so much, we stopped at one in Bowling Green on our way home. We were excited when one opened in Florence, Kentucky (near the Cincinnati Airport). In August, one will be opening in Cincinnati. We won spots to the “Red Fish Rally,” which gave folks a chance to sample their food, get free t-shirts, and hang with The King.
With Elvis!

Ready for our next adventure.
Traveling Cat Geek

Caitlin, Ready for Take-Off
Taken at the Canadian Museum of Aviation and Space. I’m rather proud of this shot.

Posted 2013-07-31 by Mr. Guilt in Hodge-Podge, Summer Vacation 2013

Ending the Month with Post of My Cats   1 comment

Here we are on July 31. We’ve had a lot of posts with cats in them: canadian lynxes, jaguars and white lions, tawny lions, cheetahs and snow leopards, even a whole day for tigers.
DSC_0524
No, Beso. You’re not really a Siberian tiger.

It seems like I might go the whole month without a post about Eddy, Beso, and Luna. Perhaps you don’t miss it. However, I wanted to try something with my camera, and they are (mostly) tolerant models, most of the time. It wasn’t Eddy’s night for that, however.
Stop With the Freakin' Camera, Primate!

Luna was simply sitting on the bed.
Pretty Luna

Beso, however, never lets anything bother him. Just takes it easy.
Inverted Beso

All in all, a good end to July.

Posted 2013-07-31 by Mr. Guilt in Beso, cats, Eddy, Family, felis silvestris catus, Luna

Dayton Celtic Festival   1 comment

Last weekend, we went up to Dayton for the Dayton Celtic Festival. Our main purpose was to see Gaelic Storm, our favorite band. You’ve seen them play. It is held at Riverscape Metropark, where they have a great statue honoring the Wright Brothers, with Wilber in flight…
Wright Flyer Statue

…and Orville on the ground (with a helper).
Caitlin and Orville

We did enjoy hearing Gaelic Storm, though we didn’t have the best view. Still, it was a fun time.
Gaelic Storm

Posted 2013-07-30 by Mr. Guilt in Music, Ohio

International Tiger Day   1 comment

Tiger StareSince 2010, July 29 has been observed as International Tiger Day. It is a day to call attention to the plight of wild tigers, which may be my favorite big cat species*. In the past hundred years the planet has lost 97% of the tiger population, going down to just over three thousand of these cats today. In fact, there are more tigers in captivity in the United States than in the wild (though only a small percentage are in AZA accredited zoos).

Why have we lost so many tigers? A number of reasons. Climate change and habitat lose are key factors. The cats have lost 97% of their habitat over the last century. Tigers are finding fewer and fewer places to live. Poaching is another factor. The parts of the tiger are used as trophies, as well as in “traditional” medicine.

I encourage you to support conservation efforts for these wonderful cats! The world would be much worse off without them.

Sleeping in the Snow

Bathing Texas Beauty

Tiger Buddies

*Snow leopards have characteristics of both small and big cats, so it makes that murky.

Posted 2013-07-29 by Mr. Guilt in cats, feline conservation, tigers

Platta Basement Floor   3 comments

Platta SquareAs I’ve mentioned, my house is over a hundred and twenty years old. It was built with a stone foundation–the basement looks like a dungeon in the right light. Stone basements, by design, “seep” moisture. For the most part, this is not a huge deal–we may get a bit of moisture around the edges of the room. However, if we get a lot of rain, such as we had over the week of the Fourth of July, it gets very wet.

This presents a few challenges. Since the cats’ litterboxes are in the basement, it makes it less-than-pleasant for them. My clever wife has kludged around the problem on occasion, but it wasn’t perfect. Also, since the clothes washer and dryer are in the basement, it makes it difficult to work–you can slip carrying down a full basket of clothes, and if you drop a sock going from the washer to the dryer, it’s not good. We’ve looked for a solution, but never found anything that was both functional and cost effective.

However, we were walking through IKEA last weekend, and came across the Platta decking. Meant for outdoor decks, it is sold in packs of nine one-foot squares. The squares snap together almost like LEGO, and can be rearranged. It was similar to other solutions we considered, but much cheaper. We guestimated the area that would cover a strip from the bottom of the stairs to in front of the washer and dryer, and got four containers.

Basement Floor, From Stairs

Installation is fairly easy–as I said, you simply lay one square on the other. The bottom of the square has pegs that go into loops on the edge. There was an open box at IKEA, and we set up a floor in about two minutes to check out (which several other couples checked out as well). Setting up the four boxes took about fifteen minutes for the initial pass.
Basement Floor, Northward

The four boxes covered the area we wanted, with some left over–we may reconfigure it, or possibly get another set to expand it. For a couple of reasons, I’m not keen to do the whole basement (a combination of cost, and wanting to be able to do work on the cement floor). However, it looks good. As of this writing, I can’t say how it will perform with serious rain–we simply haven’t had any (perhaps it will get mentioned in a hodge-podge). One thing I like is that I can pull the floor easily if it is causing a problem with drainage.
Basement Floor, Southward

However, it looks like it may be a great solution to our basement issue, and perhaps the end to the cat bridge.

Posted 2013-07-27 by Mr. Guilt in house, Interesting

21.7 Miles Bass Island Trailhead   Leave a comment

Easy Sunday morning ride.

Posted 2013-07-21 by Mr. Guilt in Cycling, Route Tracking

Meeting the Lion at the Cincinnati Zoo   3 comments

The Cincinnati Zoo opened up their new “Africa” section while we were on our trip. One of the older parking lots was converted to a large exhibit space, between the rest of the zoo and the Cathryn Hilker Running Yard. Some parts of Africa, such as the flamingos and giraffes, have been there for a while. Other parts, such as the hoofed animals, will be joining next year. This year, we got tawny lions. The first to come out was John.
John and the Donut

He was one of the “Magnificent Seven” born at the National Zoo in 2010. No word on if he knew Rusty.
John from the Front

He’s still exploring his enclosure, and making it his. Here is an example of some of the marking behavior he did to some trees.
Lion Scratches
Could someone get a kitty a scratching post?

This handsome young man will be joined with a female from another zoo, as part of a Species Survival Plan. As I keep telling Renji and Nubo, Cincinnati is a great place to raise kids.
Afternoon Snooze

Or just spend an afternoon dozing back-to-back.
Back to Back</a
The snow leopards are still in Cat Canyon…I just had a good segue.

While there have been cheetahs running continuously, since they closed the old cat canyon, none have been on exhibit until the new Africa section.
My Head!

Paws up, y’all!
Paws Up Y'all!

Speaking of kids, the nursery had a baby skunk!
L'il Skunk

Baby skunks are cute.
Baby Skunk Needs a Hand

Pygmy Falcon Babies are cute, hanging out next to the skunk. Are they plotting an escape?
Pygmy Falcon Babies

Are they consulting with the red panda? Probably not–looks like he’s getting his nap on.
Plotting Panda
…Or that’s what he wants us to think!

We stopped by Night Hunters to check on the little ones there. The pallas kittens were dozing in a “bowl,” showing how their coats camouflage them.
Pallas Kitten, Sleeping in the Rock

The ocelittle was being groomed by his mother.
My Ears are Clean Enough, Mom!

Mom! Not in front of the primates!
Perched Ocelittle

Sand cats aren’t worried about it.
Emergency Sand Cat Bath!

The black footed cat didn’t care, and was right up in front to let us know he didn’t care.
BFC Back

Another day with a bobcat but no caracal. I hope “Miss Lop-Ears” is OK.
Lazy Bobcat

We enjoyed checking out the Africa section, seeing old friends, and making new ones.
Lion Family and My Family

One Hundred Megabytes of Data   5 comments

Our summer vacation was my first trip outside of the United States since 2003. While cell phones were common, they could do little more than make a phone call. In the intervening ten years, SmartPhones have become ubiquitous. While I’m constantly pulling out my iPhone, I can go days without actually talking to someone on it. Every time we’ve traveled, it served as our map, guide book, restaraunt guide, travel agent, camera, and occasional pacifier. It’s hard to imagine going on the road without it.

During our trip, we were forced to.

Most carriers’ plans will work in the US, but not, by default, outside of the country (likewise, a Canadian plan won’t work, by default, in the US). As it was a driving trip, I wanted to at least have phone service for emergencies, as well as for the odd work call. I also wanted data for all the reasons already mentioned. WiFi is pretty common, especially in hotels, so we could use our phone in a lot of places. To cover us outside of that zone, I set up our “overseas data plan” to give each of our phones 100 MB of data–a fraction of our usual data plan. In an average week, we each use 200 MB. On one hand, that includes work e-mail and other things we could shut off. On the other hand, we were in unfamiliar territory.

Conservation became the watchword. First and foremost, I held off my social media participation. My wife figured out how to cache map directions when we had WiFi, to reduce our data dependence. Guidebooks from AAA found a place in the car. In short: for a week, we had to revert to a pre-iPhone state. Could we do it?

We could. For the first day or two, while standing in line, I would pull out my phone and refresh twitter, only to be reminded that data was turned off. Eventually, I found other ways to occupy dead spaces–cleaning my camera lenses, talking to my wife, or just looking around. As noted, we had to plan a bit more carefully. We relearned a few truths. We grabbed any map we could, to help navigate absent clear directions. We were reminded that guidebooks are far from comprehensive in their listing of food offerings. When it came to hours and prices of activities, they are only as up-to-date as when they are printed.

I could certainly tell when we had the data on. Without the data, we were more likely to wander aimlessly looking for just the right restaurant. With data on the phone, we had plenty of options, and could navigate there confidently. We knew what direction we were heading, and waht was around every corner. When driving from Montreal to Toronto, it was a nice failsafe for finding a hotel. We went from mere mortals to omniscient superbeings.

Does this mean we’re too dependent on data? I’m not sure that’s an accurate characterization. The limitations on guidebooks and maps is inherent to the medium. Maps only work if you have them with you. With a bit more effort, we could have survived without mobile internet, but I think we would not have been as smart about where we were, and would have missed out on opportunities for some great things. The limited data, however, helped balanced some of my worst habits around checking twitter (or, worse, work e-mail). By the end of the week, pulling out my phone idlely was dramatically reduced.

We don’t have any trips scheduled in the near future, much less internationally. But the next time we do, making sure we have some level of international support for our SmartPhones will be on the packing list next to “dig out our passports.”

Niagara Falls   2 comments

Our last vacation stop on our big road trip (as opposed to just an in-transit stop) was Niagara Falls. We crossed the border on the sadly named “Rainbow Bridge,” after about twenty minutes in line. We parked at Niagara Falls State Park. We did the Cave of the Winds tour, which let us go down near the base of the Bridal Veil Falls.
Bridal Veil Falls

The Magic Hour was just about hour as we got back to the top. We took a look at the Horseshoe Falls as the sun set.
Horseshoe Falls

One last look at the Falls, and we began our drive back to Cincinnati. It was a great vacation, we saw and did a lot, and made some great memories.
Bridal Veil Falls, from the Top

Posted 2013-07-15 by Mr. Guilt in Summer Vacation 2013

Toronto’s Kensinton Market and Chinatown.   Leave a comment

The afternoon of our last day on vacation we spent walking through Toronoto’s Kensington Market and Chinatown.
CN Tower (1a)

I’m not the most confident at street photography, so I didn’t take too many photographs. There was some sort of dragon dance, but we thought that, by the time we made it across the street, we’d miss it.
Dragon

In the Kensington Market area, we saw some moose on the roof.
Moose on a Roof

It was a good afternoon.
CN Tower (2)

Posted 2013-07-14 by Mr. Guilt in Summer Vacation 2013

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