Posts Tagged Cats

An Entirely Factual Recounting

Over the past few years I’ve been asked to house and animal-sit for a few families from church.  After one of them left me a note properly explaining the extent of my duties, I took it upon myself to properly explain what happened for the duration of my stay.

This is the result.  Names (both real and made-up) of actual people have been changed to “Doug Jefferson” and “Steve” to protect privacy or something.  I guess if your name is Doug Jefferson this change is probably messing with your privacy.  I’m sorry.

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Howdy, hope the trip went well; everything important should be on the countertop next to the large and entirely factual documentation of the events of the last week.

Important notes:

On Wednesday I was arrested at a county fair, but because of my dedication I was able to post bail and successfully made it out here to feed all six horses. (Two have since flown off and one took to calling me ‘That dirty criminal’ whilst I fed him, so I sold him to a Canadian zebra farm under the pretense that he had been reupholstered.)

I still insist the arrest was illegitimate. For the last five years I’ve been bringing my own strawberry-vanilla pie with blueberry-cream topping and a homemade graham-cracker crust to the County Winter Fair bake-off. Because my pie is that good, I’ve won every year, and because of that, last year I was told to either submit a new pie or to not bother showing up. Being the excellent listener that I am, I made two pies for this year’s contest. Sure enough, when I arrived at the table to submit my pies, I was placed in handcuffs and taken down to the station, where they charged me with two counts of baking and entering. I made the mistake of trying to contest the charges just after midnight and saw the addition of one count of resisting a rest.

On Thursday there was a small incident with the cats that was quickly sorted out, though it required turning every computer within a four mile radius off and then on again. At some point at least one of them may have violated Tunisian airspace, but the details are as fuzzy as the cats themselves and I can neither confirm nor deny the culpability of anyone, really. Certainly not myself. Both cats have seemingly adjusted to the change in time zones, though neither will ever regain the ability to swim properly.

Friday also went well. After playing a few uncharacteristically sedate games of extreme checkers with myself (best two out of three) I was visited by two people who have not once been convicted of treason or deliberate arson. One goes by an alias–Joug Defferson, and the other holds the title of High Commander of International and Domestic Capitalist Operations but in the interest of protecting the innocent possibly guilty we’ll give him one of those goofy protective names and just call him “Steve.”

Anyway, █ ██████ █████ ██ roughly .28 █ ████ ██████ ████ ███ █████████ ██████ ███ ███ ██ █ ████ fifteen minutes or so, but ████ ███ █████ ███ ████ █████ ███ █ █████. ████ ███ could work, ████ █████ ███ █ █████ ██ █ ████ █████ ████ ██ ███ ██ ███ █████probably best left to Ms. Frizzle and the rest of the cast of the Magic School ██.

After we put out the fire we realized the situation was probably not quite as bad as it could have been; most of the walls were still in place and the basement had been left largely untouched thanks to the six-inch layer of soot. During the time spent removing the more concentrated radioactive masses, I was also able to interview a passing motorist who had witnessed the entire incident. He said: “But don’t quote me on that.” Fortunately he did allow me to quote him on his decision to not allow me to quote his earlier statement, so all was not lost. As an aside, it’s unlikely (continued on next page) you’ll ever have to worry about insects again, at least not anything that looks like the ones you’re used to seeing around here.

Being well-versed in the art of making the most out of the probably awful, we set to work repairing the damage (after contacting the Canadian embassy). Since the horses out back hadn’t really made any sort of effort to stop the situation from developing in the first place, they were enlisted to help fix it, and were assigned the titles of Task Horse Alpha, Task Horse Bartholomew (I have completely forgotten the phonetic code for the letter Bravo) and Task Horse Three. Task Horses Alpha and Bartholomew performed acceptably, but Three proved to be completely unhelpful, and was relegated to Standing Around Looking Completely Unhelpful Patrol.

Using Steve “Steve’s” engineering ability, Joug’s gator-wrestling-augmented strength, and my powers of seduction sedition standing around looking busy, we were able to repair the house. Joug and “Steve” did most of the repairs; I took the heavy responsibility of giving mildly threatening glares to passing truckers in order to procure lumber and other construction-type goods. This approach failed, but fortunately we were able to raise money through the sale of homemade pies. (Life Tip: Threatening glares are best used sparingly, away from vehicles traveling at interstate speeds.) The house has been restored to Nearly Mint condition; a careful inspection may uncover some flaws, such as heavy water in the plumbing (we were forced to use deuterium instead of hydrogen–you never know when you might need it), the aforementioned changes to insects and arachnids (Don’t talk to the spiders, even if they sound friendly or offer you competitive interest rates), and an intermittent magnetic anomaly in the basement that causes compasses to point left.

I had intended to recount Saturday’s highlights in poetic form (Iambic Pentameter), but I am forbidden from doing so for the next twenty years or until the dissolution of the British Parliament, whichever comes first. I do have the period from 17:15-18:27 in limerick form, however.

Three men on a cruise sang a song,
With a chorus fifteen minutes long.
To the passengers’ glee,
They were thrown in the sea;
Now they sing with the fish near Hong ███.

I explained the risks to the three of them when they told me of their intent to use tubas, a washboard, and a jug band on a cruise ship, but they would hear none of it.

If anyone superficially resembling one or more of your children visits your house during the next three weeks, it is completely possible said being is actually one of your offspring. It is also possible that the batteries on the impostors have not yet worn down completely. If you are uncertain, test said visitor using either a series of relevant questions (In what state were you programmed? How many feelings have you registered today?) If these questions prove insufficient, applying a spray of water to the ear canal will cause the bionic charlatans to enter circuit protection mode.

Sunday was warm, with a high approaching 275°K. Most of the parasitic gopher horde had moved on, following the bears west after I chased them off. If you do happen to see any gopher stragglers, the most helpful tips I can think of are –

#1: Never let them see you panic, and
#2: It is not possible to fire too many shots.

Also, any bags you find in the garage marked “coffee” or “non-reactive materials” should probably be burned away from animals and people, if possible.

I do not want to talk about Monday.

Tuesday can only be described as a “Hearty mixture of each of the preceding days.” If either NASA or the Latvian government shows up outside your house, deny my existence and under no circumstances permit them to go near the barn.
DO NOT burn the bags marked “non-reactive materials.” Also:

#3: Wear heavy boots, and don’t be afraid to use them.

Task Horse Three was able to make up for earlier shortcomings at this point, and any indentations (excluding the craters) in your lawn can be attributed to Three’s outstanding performance against the gopher scourge.

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St. Ives from an Outsider’s Perspective

I’m sure most, if not all of you have heard the St. Ives riddle.  To those who are the exception:

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives.
Each wife had seven sacks.
Each sack had seven cats.
Each cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
how many were going to St. Ives?

I don’t have time to argue the math or the reasoning behind it, but it’s safe to say the answer is a number.  I’d imagine it somehow relates the questioner, a man, seven women, and 49 bags filled with 343 adult cats and 2401 kittens total.  (Evenly distributed into the sacks, of course.)

It bothers me that whoever is asking the question is so bloomin’ vague.  The fact that you can argue seventeen different answers (YOU were going to St. Ives!  2800 wives, sacks, cats, and kittens were going to St. Ives!  The St. Ives Bureau of Random Economic Statistics gives a figure of 48,439,000 incoming cat units for fiscal year 2007!) means the question itself needs work.

It seems to me the lack of specificity is a symptom of a much deeper problem, however.  And it’s not as if the questioner can’t be specific.  He or she is quite certain about the number of cats per bag.  In fact, the certainty about the contents of these undoubtedly massive sacks seems to imply that there was a conversation with these mysterious cat transporters:

“Hello, travelers, what’s up?”

“My seven wives and I are making our biweekly cat delivery.”

“Oh!  I can’t imagine any logistical or social problems arising in a career like that!   I myself am a dentist; the one out of five who never agrees with the others for plot-driven reasons that are never completely explained.  How many cats are in each bag?”

“These are sacks, my contentious dentist acquaintance.  There are 7 cats and 49 kittens in each sack.  How did you know the cats were in the sacks?”

“I must confess the hissing and shrieking as the sacks scraped along the ground gave your secret away.  Also, it says ‘CATS’ on the side.”

It begs the question why this person was talking to the cat people in the first place.  Do you have any idea how much feline biomass was packed into those containers?  A reasonable weight for an adult cat is approximately 10 pounds.  Given seven sacks per wife and 7 cats per bag, we have a total of 490 pounds of Adult Cat Weight alone.

Clearly, these women are not to be trifled with.

But we aren’t finished.  Now for the kittens.  While we aren’t given the exact location of St. Ives, (I suspect it’s Utah) in America they seem to suggest splitting cat families no earlier than ten weeks, an age that would give the kittens a weight of somewhere around two pounds each.  Of course, the people we’re talking about don’t seem to be the type to follow reasonable suggestions, but I imagine any cat rancher would rather not spend more money on cat food than is necessary, and would likely sell the cats at this time.  (If these people were ranching said cats and kittens to be used as food, it’s possible age isn’t a factor to them at all.  I find this somewhat absurd, even by polygamist cat-rancher standards.)

343 kittens per woman at 2 pounds each gives us 686 pounds of Kitten Weight.
490 lbs. ACW
+ 686 lbs. KW= 1176 pounds of cats per wife.

To put that in perspective, these women are lugging around a third of a Buick over their shoulders, except instead of hauling harmless, relatively inert hunks of automobile, they’ve packed 56 cats into a cramped space, and they’ve done it seven times over.  Each.

I have a hard time imagining two cats shoved into a bag together for any length of time.  Shoot, even one cat.

Of course, it is nowhere stated that the cats are alive…
Take out one of the logistical problems and suddenly the riddle becomes ever so much more disturbing.  Assuming the police are not eaten for sustenance by the Seven Strongest Women on Earth, I can see the headlines:

POLYGAMIST CAT-RANCHERS CAUGHT WITH 2744 DEAD CATS ON WAY TO ST. IVES FROM ST. IVES CRAP I DON’T EVEN KNOW

If you meet this walking catastrophe on the way to town and your only concern is mathematics, your garden is most likely short a few vegetables.

…Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
Don’t bother with math, just flee for your lives.

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