A funny thing happened on the way to the office

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I couldn’t believe what i saw. A trailer in front of the store, tipped on to its end. That must’ve been some adventure when they were unloading it.

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Cat Napping in the Neighborhood

Sorry, this is a long post, but it is a story I want to tell fairly completely.

Our family cat Sammie is about 10 years old, on the small size, and pretty skittish. She has always been a bit aloof, as she sometimes does not let even Sherie and I approach her easily. But she has survived well for 10 years; the first few in Benicia at Sherie’s house, and then in Albany when we moved in together. She goes outside in the morning to roam the back yards of our house and some neighbors, seldom going to the street. And she comes in when called in the evening to eat and to sleep indoors.

Anyway, the past couple months she and our other cat had been acting strange when called in at evening feeding time: they were shy to come in, and did not act hungry. Then, on May 10, Sammie did not come home at night at all. No answer to our calls; Sherie and I looked around, and Sherie stayed up all night watching and listening. Sherie made some Lost Cat signs and posted them in the neighborhood. But still no Sammie the next morning.

On the afternoon of the next day (a Monday) Sherie knocked on some doors in the neighboring houses. Sure enough, the tenant two doors down (where Sammie likes to hang out in the sunny backyard) said that her landlady (Brigitte Kershaw) traps feral cats, and the tenant thought that Sammie might have been trapped in her backyard. When Sherie contacted the landlady’s husband (Tony Kershaw). You bet, Sammie had been trapped. They had been baiting the cats with food for weeks, and they caught Sammie when they had an appointment at a vet to have her fixed and inoculated.  (Of course, she was already fixed and innoculated!)

Although we cannot keep a collar on her as she always wrestles one off within hours, Sammie does not look feral. She is clean, has healthy eyes and coat, and is an athletic healthy weight. And most folks who live in the neighborhood know her by sight. But the do-gooder landlady did not talk to the neighbors before trying to catch the cat. In fact, she did not heed the lost cat sign on the tree in front of her house when she took the cat from the garage of that house to the car for the trip to the vet.

Even worse, because she is a regular feral cat trapper, her veterinary partner (Dr Lee Prutton, D.V.M at Abbey Pet Hospital) did not scan the cat for a microchip. Now Sammie is chipped; any vet could have her name and address within minutes of seeing her in the office (see this link.) But to save time and money, he did not scan her, but “trusted” his partner in crime to vouch that the cat was feral. He anesthized the cat, trimmed off the top of her ear, gave her shots, and was getting ready to neuter her when he saw her existing abdominal scar.

Sammie was delivered home that evening, thanks to our neighbor getting her landlord’s contact info to us. But not without lots of grief, and some lessons learned:

  • ALL vets should scan ALL cats suspected of being strays EVERY time they see them.
  • ALL volunteers should not trap cats in neighborhoods unless invited by residents.
  • ALL volunteers should talk to neighbors within reasonable distances of trapped cats EVERY time they trap one.

If Dr Prutton had been more understanding to Sherie when confronted that he violated a basic procedure when he did not scan Sammie, she and I might feel differently. But he has ignored a basic procedure with our cat, and does not plan to change his ways when handling “ferals.” We recommend that you find other vets to support.

I have asked the people at the Feral Cat Foundation to modify their website to instruct all volunteers about the points taken above. I hope they do; I also hope they talk sense into the Kershaws to no longer trap cats in neighborhoods without the express invitation of the residents. And the Fix Our Ferals organization, for which the Kershaws are volunteers, already instucts members to talk to neighbors before trapping cats in neighborhoods.

By the way, now that the Kershaws no longer feed our cats in the backyard of their tenants house (and who knows how many rodents, racoons, strays, etc.), our cats are much happier and less skittish in the evening when they come in.

Michael Barry’s Diary

I am really impressed whe an athlete knows his sport, is articuate, and can actually write well. This is a rare combintation of talents, to know the sport well, to be able to put it to words, and to actually put words to paper, er, to keyboard.

Jimmy Conrad comes to mind in soccer; I used to really look forward to reading his features in Sports Illustrated online. I am not sure, but I think they no longer are written but the old ones can still be found. Who would know that the long bodied geek playing right back for the Quakes circa 2001 would evolve to be one of the best defenders in MLS and get to show his creativity in a major national (online) publication?

Now I have been enjoying Michael Barry’s Diary, a feature in VeloNews.com. Again, a well written insight, althought there is a bit of cliche in it. Still, it is a good read. Some entries in the past few months were more original in content, and made me see the more human side of Michael.

Still, it adds to the excitment of what looks to be a great Giro this year. And it seems one can watch it free online on UniversalSports.com. Enjoy, and “Go Levi!”

Smiling in the Rain

Last Sunday was the Grizzly Peak Century, for which I volunteered. Because I think it is important to give back to the cycling community, and to the club. And because something amusing was sure to happen.

Wife Sherie was the honcho at Island, where I also volunteered. Having been out of town on biz the whole week before, on Saturday I just relaxed and did household errands. So when the alarm sounded at 5 AM on Sunday, it wasn’t that hard to get out of bed. And it was still dry outside.

Now, I looked again at the hourly weather forecast, and it sured looked like the rain was to come during that morning. So I was glad we had arranged stoves to heat fluids for the masses, and I put about 6 fleece blankets in the car along with the various provisions already stacked. Yes, the little beemer overflowed when we got to Amy’s house, but she didn’t mind. But more amusing was the sudden downpour that came when Amy walked down her front steps.

Now, many might not thing that getting wet is amusing, but it gave focus to the morning. And it really wasn’t very cold, and I had good raingear and underlayers that can handle it. And most people that day also had such clothes.

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Once the physical plant (racks, food stations, donated canopies (thanks!!!), etc) were set up, I mostly hung out near the bike parking area to talk to folks as they arrived. Early on, many needed to register at this “alternate start” for “no car” riders coming up from town. And later, most riders were pretty wet, a few cold, and many leary of walking down the mud to the food and drink. But I tried to convince them they could wash their cycling cleats on the faucet once they were replenished, and since there was a “steady stream” (hah, hah) of people doing this, it was not hard to explain. 

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If one smiles, and ask a fellow human suffering through some mutual thing, one often gets a smile in return. And that is what I tried to do, as I watched cyclists ring the water out their gloves or wiping their glasses. And the returned smiles made it worth it for me, as well as the regular “Thanks for being out in the rain for us” replies. Of course, I had been nervous that we would stand in the rain all morning, and no cyclists would come to our party. I guess the official word was about half the signed up rides checked in. And from the amount of food left over, and given to us volunteers, that must be about right. Our freezer and fridge have never been so full.

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Thanks for the other volunteers for being merry, and making the best of a wet day. Especially you Sherie for trying so hard.

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Thanks riders for laughing and smiling through the deluge…or at least the steady light rain…

Cold Morning Comments

With the time to summer time daylight savings time, my body has been harder to adapt than expected. Normally, I awake quite early and ready to get going. And in fact I did do that the last two days. But with our post cold front clear mornings, the morning temps have been quite cool, maybe even into the thirties or so (which is quite cool for so close to the SF Bay for March.) When I made it onto the bicycle, yesterday for a club ride and today for the commute across Berkeley for work, my body just wasn’t ready for the cool temperatures. With the hour earlier departure, relative to the sunrise, the temps hadn’t risen much, and my metabolism just didn’t react. I did ride okay, but even when I had been sweating a bit, I still didn’t feel like my core temp had kicked up made me feel energized.

Anyway, sorry for not writing much lately. I guess my thoughts have been elsewhere. I hope to soon do some posts on my thoughts on the ‘Quakes season coming up, on life on the bike in these hard economic times, and such.

Snow on the Peak

Grizzly Peak, that is.

The early morning showers here in the East Bay flats broke up on our way to the office, revealing the snow-capped peaks of the East Bay hills. What a sight to see, white on Grizzly Peak! From below, the snow seems to start somewhat above the top of the lab, so I would estimate the snow level this morning at above 1200-1400 feet.

Maybe we will have a wet winter after all…

Meeting (Famous) People

Like Joe Posnanski, I am not very good at small talk. Some people have a talent of getting someone to indicate what interests them, and when the listener also knows something about one of those subjects, asks an intelligent question. Like Sean the sales guy at our company, who figures out what sport and team the guy was into, and then always has a lead in question whenever they may meet. (How ’bout them ‘Boys? or Can the Sox win it again?) And then the ice is broken and the listener is engaged and volunteers information about “business” more readily. But not me; unless I know you pretty well, getting to that common subject just can take forever.

Even if you are not a sports buff, this is a good read at SI.com. While you may not understand the sports references, you should understand the small talk and lifestyle points.


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