Archive for December 2013

December 2013 Hodge-Podge   Leave a comment

It’s said we live in a golden age of television. As such, think the graph below is a bit off. Being smug about not owning a TV carries less weight. These folks now feel smug about “not eating at chains.”

We had a lot of snow the weekend of the Seventh.
Watching the snow. #cats #catsofinstagram #ColumbiaTusculum

Sunrise over Mount Adams

Best shot of 2013!
Caitlin, Ready for Take-Off

Feeding a cat…like a boss.
Feeding at Cat...Like a Boss

Posted 2013-12-31 by Mr. Guilt in Hodge-Podge

Cat Tour at the Birmingham Zoo   5 comments

Our journey south continued through Birmingham. When we woke up in Huntsville, I googled the Birmingham Zoo, mostly out of curiosity. It turns out they have perhaps the best small cat collection I’ve seen outside of Cincinnati. It was also close to a restaurant where we thought would make a good lunch stop. Cheap admission through a reciprocal arrangement with the Cincinnati Zoo sealed the deal.

When we arrived, it was a dreary day–cooler temperatures with a drizzle. Cold for Birmingham, but my family are zoo geeks, tough, and slightly crazy. We decided to check it out anyway.

We were the only guests at the zoo–the only other people we saw were staff. The bald eagles looked at us as if to say “primates be crazy.”
"Why are you here in this weather?"

We entered the predator house, and started a conversation with the staff, asking about the cats, their names, and where they came from. They seemed to dig that we knew so much, and, as it was near closing and there was no one else around, they walked us through and answered questions.

The first cat we saw was an ocelot named Toby.
Ocelot on the Ledge

Next was a pallas cat (I was told all the names, but for many, I can’t quite read what I wrote).
Fluffy Time

They had two fishing cat brothers.
Gone Fishing

I started fishing around to see if they were descendents of Cincinnati fishing cats. They weren’t, but they were Ohio fishing cats–they were born in the Columbus Zoo. They were the third, fourth and fifth cutest kittens in Ohio born in 2011.
Fishing Cat Crib

They’ve grown to be handsome cats.
Fishing Cat March

Katie is their African wildcat. Wildcats were neat to see for a couple reasons. The African wildcat (felis silvestris libyca) is a subspecies of wildcat (felis silvestris). Another subspecies is felis silvestris catus, better known to me as “Eddy, Luna, and Beso.” Like all members of her species, she viewed humans skeptically, especially ones out on a rainy, drerey day.
Stink Eye

What was cool about Katie in particular (aside from her wild good looks) was that she is a clone, produced at the Audobon zoo, to find ways to save endangered species. This is the first time I have (knowingly) seen a clone in person. Even though my morning was spent looking at rocket ships, it was the most SciFi thing I did that day. Katie mated with another clone, and produced a litter of wildcats, who I was told lived up to the wildcat name.
Hiding Wlidcat

There were two black-footed cats.
Black Footed Strut

Tut was the male.
Black Footed Profile

He watched Mica, the female, walking around.
Stalking Black-Footed Cat

He’s a handsome cat!
Black Footed Portrait

Sand cat Toby seemed eager to see us.
Bart the Sand Cat

The female, Angsa (but I may have that wrong), just wasn’t feeling sociable.
Won't Get Out of Bed

At 3:30, they do a demonstration of feeding the lions, and how they have been trained behaviors to help facilitate their care. The keepers who do that were walking through, “come on. Let’s go feed the lions.” Though it was rainy and we hadn’t intended to see the lion feeding, we followed our new friends–we were the only guests, and we couldn’t let Aquila and Kwanza down.
Aquila and Kwanza

Kwanza is a nine-year-old male lion, born on the first day of Kwanza that year.
Handsom Kwanza

Back inside, we saw the non-cats such as the mongooses (mongeese?).

We are big red panda fans. They had two adults and two cubs.

Sniffin' Bamboo

We made one last stop, to see the giant otters.
Swimming Giant Otters

They were huge.
What's Up There?

We enjoyed our day at the Birmingham Zoo. In spite of the cold, rainy day, it was a great experience, and it was neat to have an unofficial private tour of their predators. Thank you so much!

US Space and Rocket Center   1 comment

Barilleauxs on the Moon

For a trip to Louisiana, Google Maps recommended going through Alabama. Only ten miles out of our way was Huntsville, Alabama. It is home to the United States Space and Rocket Center, which is affiliated with the Marshal Space Flight Center. A lot of early work on rockets was here, under the direction of Werner Von Braun, who helped design a variety of early United State rockets. As a family of geeks, we felt we had to stop.

Arriving in Huntsville at just before midnight, we knew our hotel was cool, as we were offered a “rocket view.”
Rocket View

The centerpiece artifact is one of three actual Saturn Vs in existence. Outside the building, they have a mock-up set up vertically, as though ready for launch.
Vertical Saturn V Mock-Up

Inside, laying on its side (similar to the one in Houston), is the actual Saturn V.
Saturn V, from the Top

It dwarfs one of Von Braun’s first rockets, the V-2, which was tucked next to its engines.
V-2 and Saturn V Engines

The powerful engines that made up the first stage was the F-1. I suspect that the engine alone was as big as the V-2 (my daughter for scale).
Caitlin and the F1

There were many Apollo artifacts on site as well, including the walkway to the “white room” at the top of the launch tower. This was the last walk the astronauts would take before boarding the capsule.
Walkway to Apollo

The Apollo 16 capsule was on display. This was the penultimate mission to the moon. It was commanded by my previous favorite astronaut, John Young.
Apollo 16

The gloves for the astronauts were custom made based on casts of their hands. The casts for the Apollo 11 crew were in the Center. Aldrin had huge hands compared to his crewmates.

One artifact was Von Braun’s slide rule. In an era where I have the equivalent o a 1980’s supercomputer in my pocket, it is an amazing reminder of how simple the tools were that got us to the Moon.
Von Braun's Slide Rule

After the Columbia disaster, NASA ran tests on the thermal protection on the leading edges of the wings. The test articles, shot with simulated foam, were on display, holes and all.
Space Shuttle Leading Edge Impact Test Article

The US Space and Rocket Center is the only place where a “full stack” Space Shuttle is on display–orbiter, external tank, and solid rocket boosters all put together. The orbiter, Pathfinder, was a mock-up NASA built for testing procedures for mounting the shuttle made of wood and metal. It was purchased by a Japanese company for display, made to look more like the flight vehicle. It was later purchased and brought to Alabama.
Pathfinder on the Side

A T-38 chase plane was under the orbiter.
T-38 Talon

A travelling exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci was present. They had replicas of his notebooks.
Replica of Da Vinci's Notebook

Da Vinci's Notebooks

Outside was an example of my second-favorite vehicle made of titanium, an A-12 Oxcart, a member of the Blackbird family.
Oxcart Front Right Three-Quarters

It did look like it needed some care, but it was good to see.
Oxcart Front Right Three-Quarters, Low

We had a great time exploring the site, and looking at our nations rocket heritage.
Pathfinder Rear

Posted 2013-12-31 by Mr. Guilt in Aircraft, Geeky

A Visit from the Christmas Snow Leopard   Leave a comment

Christmas Snow Leopard tagWe started the Christmas Snow Leopard tradition for our cats two years ago. I had ordered a couple of plush mice from the Snow Leopard Trust. The Snow Leopard Trust works with folks living in areas where snow leopards like to roam. They provide income through the production of a variety of things, such as the felt mice, in exchange for protecting the cats. Where before the snow leopards were viewed as a threat to their flocks to be killed on sight, now they are guarded by the herders.

A good example of the effects of this program was recently demonstrated. A snow leopard cub was found on the roof of a home in Mongolia. Before it would have been shot and killed on sight. Now, the only shooting took place with cell phone cameras. The cub was safely relocated to the mountains. I think it is great that this organization looks at how to look at the impact the endangered species is having on the humans it shares a territory with, and helping solve problems to minimize conflict, rather than dictating what should be done.

Last year, I gave to the Snow Leopard Trust through work, as the cats still had their mice. The Christmas Snow Leopard still came, bringing new Beastie Bands for the cats. This year, my wife actually adopted Devekh, a radio-collard wild snow leopard, for me. I have my very own snow leopard!

Adopted Snow Leopard
That’s not Devekh but another snow leopard on the cover of the folder–there was a good picture of him inside. Naturally, our new plush friend now shares that name.

The cats, however, got three cool gifts from a local store called Confetti Cats, specializing in cat toys and products. They had a grand time unwrapping everything.


One, a “Luna Loop,” was a small, simple toy. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good pictures of it. The other two were well received and photographed.

My wife noticed Eddy really liked this shaggy plume on te top of one of the other toys, which also had a big base. We sound something similar but lighter.

Eddy Loves His Toy

He loved it!

Cuddlin' His Toy

We also got a Cat Crib, a hammock designed to attach under chairs. The box was the first part of that toy.

Boxes Make Good Toys

Then they each took a turn sitting in it.

Beso in the Crib

Eddy in the Crib

Luna in the Cat Crib

Beso eventually figured out he could play with both toys at once, while Eddy sat up top.

Beso Hogs the Toys

It was a great Christmas, and a fun continuation of our little tradition.

Devekh in the Crib

Tails are Handy   Leave a comment

They can keep the light from interrupting your nap.
Tail Covering Her Eyes

Posted 2013-12-23 by Mr. Guilt in cats, Family, felis silvestris catus, Luna

Holidays on Fountain Square   Leave a comment

Lots of fun downtown!
Fountain at Christmas

Fountain Square Christmas Tree

Caitlin Skates #2

Posted 2013-12-22 by Mr. Guilt in Cincinnati

24.72 miles Not the Atchafalaya Basin   Leave a comment

I think…

Posted 2013-12-22 by Mr. Guilt in Uncategorized

20.29 Miles Midpoint of my (Likely) Last Ride of 2013   Leave a comment

Posted 2013-12-22 by Mr. Guilt in Uncategorized

Mount Lookout Luminaria 2013   2 comments

Diagonal Luminaria

Last weekend, Mount Lookout, a neighborhood adjacent to Columbia-Tusculum, had their thirty-eighth Luminaria–much longer than some other neighborhoods who seem to get more press. Shops were open late, and s’mores were made.

Caitlin and Rebecca Make S'Mores

Santa was even present.

Caitlin and Santa

Luminaria Steps

It’s a pretty, fun holiday tradition.

Receding Luminaria

Posted 2013-12-21 by Mr. Guilt in Cincinnati

Think Before Clicking Send   1 comment

Our business runs on email. The problem is that it is very easy to say something in email that you might not say to someone’s face, especially if it is heated. Click send, and your angry rant appears instantly in front of them (and anyone else on the distribution). Worse: it can be forwarded globally.

There is one simple rule I have for email, that I share with everyone on my team: if upset, write the email, but don’t click send. “Save as Draft,” then take a walk. Work on something else. Ten minutes, an hour, a day later, come back to it and reread it. Odds are, you’ll re-compose it to be more civil.

And you may just get to keep your job.

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