Hell Holds No Pets

Meet Some of My
New York Friends

Paraphrasing Mario Puzo, keep your friends close, and the friends of your friends, closer. He may’ve known a thing or two about family sagas, but as far as animals are concerned, not so much. In fact, most of us wouldn’t flinch about harming a pet, even if Hollywood had an offer we couldn’t refuse.
Gentle beasts, they earn from us more than we could ever give friends, lovers, and relatives. So let me introduce you to a few of my acquaintances’ cats, and one tender dog, in the company of whom I satisfy my fix, and sense of loss, since mine left me long ago and I’ve run out of time to outlast new ones.
Life gives us no choice: once time comes, we leave it all behind. Which is fine. But unlike sons and daughters, there’s no telling them, now, go get your own place and pets to tend to. Once you’re together, you’re down for the long, or short, run, or whenever one of you checks out. Try to not to be the first.
For the accidental petsitter like me, it’s always clear which one of us is the needier, and who’s actually providing existential relief. Just like it was when they adopted us. So I tackle my duties like a priest sets up the altar for a mass: everything has to be carefully arranged to assure a safe trip to heaven for all involved.
Things usually follow a natural path, from wearily seizing each other’s out, to lending a tad of trust to the proceedings, to the time when it gets to be all fun and games. Such a progression may seem casual to the untrained eye, but let’s not let looks deceive us. For in the end, we may all feel better for having shared those moments together.

OLD SCHOOL & THE INTERLOPER
Ziggy was once the new kid on the block, but was never as big as his elder brother, who’s left us. When he finally got his shot at the top, KittyKat showed up and won everybody’s heart. Soon, he grew bigger and is now the dominant dude. Ziggy is right to be bitter.
Two beautiful Coons, they’ve got ways to go to get along, if they’ll ever. Most likely, Ziggy will keep on being cranky, despite such a Reggae name, while Kitty gets away with mayhem. And some dare to say that cats have it easy. Life has no patience for fairness. I love these two.

THE MAJESTIC QUEEN GRACIE
There are not enough superlatives to describe this lady, and to keep it simple doesn’t do her justice either. The thing about striking a feline-like balance when writing about a cat proves us how inadequate is our own sense of balance. And how poor. That’s not Gracie at all.
It took me a while to show her I was at her service. For she’d never demand anything. But when she finally vocalized her state of mind, I understood it perfectly. Many a silent sunset we’ve enjoyed together, as I dabbled in her generous name-sake mood. Everything about her speaks of harmony. I look forward to indulge her light again soon.

BIRDIE & SQUIRT, TWIN SHADOWS
These two could be spies, and I swear they like to play doubles. Just when I thought I knew which is which, they’ve proved me wrong. Twice. I’m sure at least one of them flies, when no one is looking. Then again, to wonder what cats do when we’re not around is like trying to build walls of shade. I think they can read my mind too.
Once I dozed off and just before I came to, I had this vivid impression they were staring at my reverie. But when I’ve opened my eyes, neither Birdie nor Squirt were anywhere to be seen. I’m sure they know something about me I don’t dare to imagine what. Next time, I’ll wear a disguise.

LULU TRAPEZIST & PRINCESS FURBALL
Lulu is the girl next door, who flirts with the string I flicker in front of her paws, and then disappears in the back. Princess came after, her beautiful fur covering up her round body. While she hardly moves, Lulu entertains dogs of all sizes. They both live in a pet store, you see.
Lulu‘s the one I seek when I need a quick cat fix. She won’t let (more)
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Read Also:
* Head Tails
* Ailurophile Caturally
* Suddenly, Last Caturday
Continue reading

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Long Live

For Elvis at 80,
Immortality Hits

Surviving is not that hard; outlasting your own life is. Elvis Aaron Presley would’ve been 80 today but everybody please calm down: we’re not about to add to the cacophony of essays and tributes that soon will surely shower the world. No one needs our spoon in this stew.
His legacy, however, is chockfull of durability and strength. After almost four decades from his Memphis death, and twice as many years since his birth in Tupelo, both in the heart of the segregated south, someone’s bound to add a spicy pinch of race to the mix of his legend.
People will certainly talk Hands Up! The Day Elvis Died by Joining the Army (Mar, 24,1958)about his lifelong habit of dying his blond locks, and how his joining the Army in 1958 all but buried the rebellious image of his most brilliant year, 1956, still one of the greatest explosions of raw talent to ever ignite American music and culture, by any standard.
They’ll compare his instinct to step up at the right crossroads of time in the country, combining his boy-next-door looks with the incendiary fuel of black music, to another master of cross references, born across the pond 68 years ago today too: David Bowie.
Gladys and Vernon, and Priscila, and Lisa Marie, may be mentioned too, possibly even Michael Jackson. The Memphis Mafia, his 1968 Comeback Special, and maybe two fine screen performances, as Pacer Burton, in Flaming Star, and Danny Fisher, in King Creole. Just please not a word about a phony colonel.
They will make valid and absurd points to be corrected by those who were there from the start, while those who came after may wonder what’s with old people and their memory manias. It won’t matter: Elvis will only be 80 today and won’t even care one way or another. But there’s still no expiration date for what he means to the world.
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Read Also:
* The Man Behind the King
* A Bow to Bowie
* January 8

Look Up the Number

When Your Bank ‘Likes’
You as Much as a ‘Friend’

‘Tell me with whom you associate, and I will tell you who you are.’ From a superficial standpoint, Goethe had no way of knowing that, over two centuries later, his words would still be current, invoked in a story about social networking. After all, a lot has changed since, or has it?
Despite its technological patina, the Internet only enhanced what essentially was already there since our times as chief foragers of the land: our limited ability to extend the web of our meaningful relationships. That even if we consider that our own brain has grown to catch up with our social adaptability needs.
Thus, when the British psychologist Robin Dunbar came up with a number to serve as a parameter of how many people can actually be a factor on our lives, and us on theirs,  he mostly confirmed what many kinds of social interactions were already suggesting, even before his time.
The Dunbar Number, which is 150, by the way, is the average, some would say, limit, number of people we not just know by name, but also share a deeper story or connection with. They do not include your boss, or your bank, the Korean deli worker you chat everyday, or even your drug dealer, if you happen to have one (we won’t tell).
At the same time, among those 150, are the closest members of your family, your truly dearest friends, your childhood partner with whom you set up shop, and maybe the proverbial former lover or two. You may not see or talk with them that often, but if you run into them on the street, chances are, you’ll stop and spend some quality time together.

WHO ARE YOU GOING TO CALL?
Goethe, of course, had something else in mind when he formulated what became one of his most well-known quotes. He was referring to what can be revealed about you just by the company you keep, and boy, isn’t that still so true. Again, we’re not talking about your buddies at the local waterhole, or your lover’s annoying mates.
But if you’d happen to brag about your 500 friends on Facebook, that could give everyone an important hint about the kind of person you really are: first, that you’re a liar calling them friends. Secondly, at least Continue reading

Seeing Double

New Class of Glasses Brings
A Clearer Sight For Sore Eyes

Here’s something that Google can’t control: ‘reality augmented’ glasses. Even before its wearable contraption is out, there’s already been challengers to it. And not just to simply enhance what we see, but also to reveal, educate, even warn us about what we may be missing.
Then again, glasses have been around pretty since humans have ears and noses to hang them, so it’d really be rich for the giant search engine to claim that too. But try they do. Thing is, for all the hoopla, the very concept of glasses as a vision enhancer may be on its way out.
There are now glasses that act as computers, smartphones, designing tools, interactive gadgets, revealing devices, and if you’re concerned about all that privacy-busting array of needed connections for these things to work properly, even an infrared visor that blocks facial recognition software.
The possibilities are not just endless, but actually encouraged. In a clever way to market its interactive-able set of lenses, one company is explicitly asking for input from anyone who may have an idea they don’t already own, on how to outfit your shades with that special juice. Quite challenging, really.
But there’s a reason why we don’t sound too jaw-dropping enthusiastic about these next wave of ever shrinking props, which seem ready to become as common as iris biometric identification systems and thought-activated computers. Or rather, a few reasons: the first one is Continue reading

Seen From Above

Pictures of Earth at Night From
Space: Stunning Beauty & Concern

Watching Earth from 199 miles up has changed how we see ourselves, our cities and the planet, thanks in part to photos taken from satellite and by the astronauts at the International Space Station. As they’re staying ever longer up there, aerial photography has greatly improved.
All that these recent photos have in common is that they’re all night pictures, but boy, aren’t they striking. They’re also surprisingly revealing and instructive about what’s going on down here. Hopefully, they’ll become valuable tools for raising awareness and change.
Credit should be given to NASA which, despite its current shoestring budget, still manages to wow us with some of their ongoing projects. One such program is the Earth Observatory, which is a comprehensive six-month study, using high-resolution night images of Earth, to ‘gain insight on human activity and poorly understood natural events.’
The now little government agency that still can often works in conjunction with other scientific research teams, such the National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA, as well as the European Space Agency. The ISS is also an integral part of such programs, as it orbits through different patches from satellites.
Whereas the Earth Observatory is a set study, the astronauts are free to photograph Earth following their own instincts. And photograph away they do, to stunning and quite meaningful results. Whether they direct Continue reading