Oct 2, 2005

Fairly Obvious Signs That I'm a Nerd, Part I...

One of the first things I learned in HS chemistry was Avogadro's number. You take an element, like hydrogen or sodium or something. One mole of any element is 6.02 x 10^23 atoms of that element. And if you have one mole of any element, its weight is the atomic weight of that element, in grams. So one mole of hydrogen atoms weighs 1.00794 g and one mole of sodium atoms weighs 22.98970 g. That number, 6.02 x 10^23, is Avogadro's number.

That's not the nerdy part though. The nerdy part is that whenever I think about or eat avocados, I think about Avogadro. I chuckle to myself and call them "avocadros", and I think I'm soooo clever. The cat-daddy just shakes his head.

In my own defense, I did not immediately remember Avogadro's number, or the atomic weights of hydrogen and sodium, although I was pretty sure that hydrogen's was very-nearly 1. I looked them up.

So, the beginnings of a list--Fairly Obvious Signs That I'm a Nerd:
  1. I call avocados "Avocadros" and snicker to myself
  2. I look up things like Avogadro's number and the atomic weights of hydrogen & sodium in my spare time
  3. I think the metric system rocks

Believe me, this is just the beginning...

Part II

Sep 28, 2005

How We Got the White Beast...

Since I wrote a bit about Pim, I suppose it’s time to write about our dog, Zoe. Zoe was originally supposed to be a file cabinet, but a side-trip to the pet store resulted in our coming home with her instead. She was 11 months old and had been brought into the store by people who couldn’t take care of her anymore, so she was in a bit of a bind, being homeless and all. I’d had to put my previous dog Murphy (the greatest dog of all time) to sleep about 8 months earlier, and was starting to feel ready for ‘the next dog,’ so this worked out well, timing-wise. The folks at the pet store pointed out that she was housebroken and crate trained, a big plus since the cat-daddy and I work full-time. My only hangup at the time was that Zoe is a white poodle. I don’t like poodles at all--having one is something I swore I'd never do. They’re stuck-up, neurotic, and high-strung, and their “official” haircuts are the most bizarre things ever. According to the pet store, Zoe is a poodle mix of some sort, and the best guess they could make was a cockapoo…but even the vet looked at her & said “There’s a lot of poodle in there.” Plus she’s white, a dog-color I’ve always associated with spoiled dogs parading around in painted toenails, little outfits, and pink rhinestone collars, drinking only bottled water. I’m more of a running-through-the-woods-together type of dog-mom.

Still, she was fairly mellow there in the cage, and had those sad brown eyes pleading “I need a home!” And surprisingly, the cat-daddy was the one who was all for it. I made sure he was fully informed—this meant he was giving up his dream of a Jack Russell Terrier for a while, as growing up I had cockapoos who lived 13-15 years, and we are currently limited to two pets, and Pim’s not going anywhere any time soon. Blah blah blah, about an hour of debate in the pet store, and suddenly we had a 16-lb. white poodle, the stuffed bunny and blankie she came with, and an 8-lb. bag of puppy food. Another quick stop by the corporate-giant pet store with lower prices, and we had a nifty wire crate and all the other dog paraphernalia to go with it (the file cabinet came several months and a 1000-mile move later). We brought her home, bathed her, and tried to think of another name. I don’t dislike the name “Zoe,” it’s just that it’s so popular for pets and people, I wanted to come up with something more distinct, similar to Pim’s name, which literally came to me in a dream. But we couldn’t think of anything, so Zoe it stayed.

It didn’t take long to figure out why her previous owners couldn’t take care of her. In true poodle fashion, she was a spaz. She did great in her crate, but if you let her out she went tearing through the house and yard, and had no manners whatsoever. She tugged at the leash, jumped up, clawed, and bit. She wasn’t being malicious, she just had no way to structure her excitement other than being in the crate, which told her it was time to sit down and be quiet for a while. And she wasn’t exactly housebroken. She wouldn’t go in her crate, but she would go pretty much anywhere else—in the house (bad dog!), in the yard (good girl!), on the sidewalk (um,). And the grossest of the gross—she has a bit of a penchant for eating cat poop. Ugh.

Murphy, the greatest dog ever, had practically trained herself and was universally endearing and loved by all, so this crazy new dog was a big adjustment for all of us, especially Pim, who wasn’t used to being constantly chased down and rustled with. Zoe was past that early puppy stage, where they pick up training so easily, so we knew it was going to be a lot of work and a more gradual process.

And it has. Over a year later her manners are considerably better, but she still has plenty of progress to make. I’ve half-joked that if we can train her to be a somewhat-civil dog, there may be hope for our future children someday. She hates her halter collar, but it prevents her from tugging on the leash and hurting herself. She’s no longer afraid of every leaf on the ground, only some of them. While she’s escaped my grip several times, she hasn’t run into traffic since this winter, which of course benefits her directly, being that she's still alive. She is definitely mostly-poodle, but I’m learning to be OK with that. Plus, when her hair grows out a little bit, it’s more off-white than pure white, which is just enough to set me at ease about not giving her bottled water. As you can see from the pic however, we are not above dressing her in little outfits, especially in the winter. As for the painted nails, stay tuned...after finding myself with a white poodle, among the several other things I swore I'd never do, there isn't much I can completely rule out anymore.

And not to get all mushy, but somewhere along the line we’ve grown to love her. She is such a sweet dog. When she’s not trying to hump babies & small children, she’ll let them grab all over her without a care (with our up-close supervision--duh!). At night she curls up with us in bed—if it’s warm she’s at our feet, if it’s cold, we use her as our Personal Heating Unit (Pim functions well as a PHU also). She very considerately cleans out our ears and noses for us (some of you are grossed-out; others understand), and sometimes nibbles our toes, which is so warped, but trust me, you’d find it at least tickly, if not oddly enjoyable.

That’s the history of Zoe in a nutshell. More to come on both pets, I’m sure...

Aug 6, 2005

Poor Little Man...

So, Pim had an unexpected vet visit today. Those with cats may be familiar with what an abcess is. Sometime when he was outside, he got bitten (on the butt) by some sort of creature, probably another cat. He is not a fighter, so this happens more often than we'd like. Usually he heals up no big deal, but this time the wound got infected and couldn't drain properly, producing an abcess.

GORY DETAIL ALERT--so the vet shaved the area and opened up the wound a bit more so the fluid could drain out. It was a most-impressive amount of icky gunk. I found it gross, yet strangely-fascinating. The cat-daddy isn't into that sort of thing at all, so he waited for us in the waiting room. Ergo, I'm in charge of the aftercare, making sure the wound stays open so the fluid can continue to drain, and administering pills twice a day, which Pim and I are pros at by now. He's a very brave cat--they don't anesthetize them because it's actually riskier than just cutting quickly and being done with it. The vet and vet-tech were impressed that he just lay there pathetically. I think he went to his happy place. --END OF GORY DETAILS

So Pim is holed up in the office while he heals up for a few days. He hates being confined, but it'll be a nice reprieve from the
crazy dog, and will give us a smaller area to clean from the wound draining. Due to Mass. law he had a rabies booster and must stay indoors for 45 days. Boy are we going to hear about that.

Oh, we watched The Life Aquatic last night. It was something else. Not sure I'd buy it, but I liked it better than the Royal Tennenbaums. This one lady I kept thinking looked a lot like Cate Blanchett, but her voice was different...turns out it WAS Cate Blanchett. I was impressed--she's very good at the different accents/voices. I thought about writing to tell her that, but then decided not to. I think I'd feel weird if people started writing me letters, telling me they do or don't like how I do my job.

I'm off to shop for the cat-daddy's b'day. He wants cash for a bass he's saving up for, but I'm getting him a couple small things I think he'll like also. Can't say what, in case he's checking my spectacular blog...