Tom is Home

Tom Winter Wonderland

I picked Tom up from the doctor's yesterday afternoon. The surgery went really well and Tom was already eating, drinking and playing a little. When I got him home he jumped out of his cat carrier. He seemed a little freaked out, but it was basically the sort of freaked out he gets right after returning from the vet.

Tom was completely undaunted by his missing leg and made sure to investigate every corner of his recovery room. He spent about 15 minutes walking around. At one point he was thinking about jumping up on the futon, but he couldn't seem to work out how to do it. After seeing him move I have no doubt he'll figure it out in a few days.

He's on antibiotics and pain pills that I need to give him twice a day. So far he's refusing the pain pills and doesn't seem any the worse for wear.

This afternoon I went in to check on him and he made a break for it. He was actually waiting for me to open the door and as soon as I did he bolted for freedom.

He's supposed to be fully healed in 10 days but apparently he's already feeling better.

Tom's Not at Home Tonight

One of the things I didn't know about our new house was that we have a coyote and family of foxes living in our back yard.

A few nights ago we heard loud noises outside. The last one was sort of a crashing sound. I ran to the front door where I found Tom. He was very freaked out and had a painful looking limp.

He's limped before and usually gets over it in a few minutes. This time was different. Around midnight I took him to a 24 hour vet and a lot of poking, prodding, and two x-rays later, they explained that he'd blown out at least two of the ligaments in his knee. They also said he was a really friendly cat.

I already knew that but it warrants some explaining.

Christine and I found Tom at a friends house six years ago. We were enjoying a bonfire when this tiny, pathetic looking kitten, stumbled blindly into the fire. I grabbed him before he got burned and he sat in my lap and purred. His eyes were swollen shut from what looked like the worst cold ever.

When you have 20+ barn cats that come and go, they don't exactly get extensive medical care. It would cost the GDP of a small country to keep up, so sick kittens usually don't make it. Our friends went above an beyond for these cats, but Tom was too far gone. Such is the life of a barn cat.

Tom and I became fast friends so I asked if we could take him home. Over night Tom became part of our family.

Pretty soon his eyes opened up and he was getting stronger even if he was still on the small side.

Tom in the sink

He kept me company while I did school work.

Paul & Tom School Work

He single handedly knocked over our Christmas tree which is hilarious in retrospect.

Tom & the tree

He was there when Alex was born.

Tom and Alex

And he didn't seem to mind when Alex became the center of our universe.


As he grew up he behaved a lot more like a dog than a cat. He was never very good at jumping, he had the balance of a drunk person and he followed me everywhere.

I decided to tell him he was a dog and he seemed OK with it.


Tom has been part of our family for 6 years.

Tonight Tom is sleeping in a surgeon's office missing one of his back legs.

I got to decide between putting him to sleep, doing re-constructive surgery and going through months of recovery for a possible fix, or amputating his leg. Three horrible options forced into consideration by the life of constant pain that would result from my inaction.

I chose the answer that I think will give him the fastest recovery and best quality of life. It was the best I could do and it still sucks. He's a good cat and a good friend. Tonight he's well medicated and sleeping comfortably. Tomorrow I'll bring him back home to his family.

Tom Red Blinket

Our Fifteen Seconds of Fame

Alex and I made the front page of the newspaper!!!

See the picture of the kid petting the alligator? Now look directly over his shoulder in the middle of the picture. Now squint a bit... That's my leg and jacket!

And behind me on the left side of the picture, doing his Miles Davis impersonation, is Alex in his red fireman jacket!


Allison is Growing Up

The past few weeks have been a blur of preparation for our big move this weekend. Somehow I just assumed the kids wouldn't change much in just a few weeks. But I noticed yesterday that Allison is in a hurry to grow up and is busy learning all sorts of new stuff.

She's playing with toys crawling all over the place...

She's given up her lady like ways and adopted the boys approach to destructive block play...

She started standing up with a little help!


And just yesterday I came home to discover she is now walking behind a toy truck!


Pangea Day is Tomorrow

It will be online and on TV starting at 18:00 GMT. Here's what its all about:

In 2006, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim won the TED Prize, an annual award granted at the TED Conference. She was granted $100,000, and more important, a wish to change the world. Her wish was to create a day in which the world came together through film. Pangea Day grew out of that wish. - more info on the Pangea About Page

Conner and his Backhoe

Conner and his BackhoeConner loves backhoes.

Backhoes are the fundamental unit of life. They are the reason for being, and if by some chance you are involved in an activity without backhoes Conner can find a way to include them. Here are a few examples of what I mean...

One night (3am) Conner woke up crying. He had a cold and probably just had a nightmare. When I went into his room I found him sitting in his crib barely awake. With a runny nose and a coughing fit he struggled to focus on me through sleepy eyes. My heart went out to him, he was so pathetic. Eventually the coughing calmed down a bit and the first words he gurgled were "Backhoe Movie?"

A few days later Allison bumped her head and was crying. Conner was ready to comfort his sister. He collected every backhoe toy he could find and brought them to her one at a time.

When we drive around Conner points out all of the construction equipment cheerily adding "My Backhoe." I've asked him about this and he is adamant that the Backhoes in question are, in point of fact, his. Imagine what it must be like to see "Your" backhoes everywhere you go!

Now that it's getting warmer outside Conner has started digging outside. He really gets into it. If you can't see the video below, it's available on Flickr here.

Book Review: Break Through (Part 2 of 2)

This is part two of my review of Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. You have to respect their commitment to a verbose subtitle...

This podcast from FORA TV where the authors Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus discuss the book and elaborate on some of their positions is an excellent companion to the book.

In the first part of this review I covered their premise of why environmentalism is dead including Maslow's hierarchy of needs and why polar bears, while cute, are crappy mascots for fighting global climate change. If they said it once they said it a hundred times; "Limit based politics do not work." And they gave lots of examples to that point. Now on to part II.

They follow their observations with a proposal that in order to save our environment we should:

  1. Invest in improving the quality (health care, education, etc.) of life for everyone so we get people past the lower level needs.

  2. Massively increase (to $30 billion a year) our investment in new technology and (clean) energy production methodologies such that we break the connection between carbon output and energy and have more energy than we know what to do with.

  3. **Both Obama and Clinton's energy policies support ~$15 billion a year. I desperately wanted to say that McCain supports grinding up baby seals for use as fuel but his website says McCain supports limiting carbon output to push the market towards new technologies. Not the best answer by my standards, and also less funny.

  4. Redefine the eco-activist rhetoric to focus on striving towards a great future rather than trying to get people to avoid an apocalyptic wasteland littered with the corpses of drowned polar bears.

(image from wikimedia commons edited by me)

In the last chapter there are some really cool examples where they take famous speeches and rewrite them to show how their proposed rhetoric change would sound. Speeches with positive rhetoric are switched to use negative rhetoric and vice versa. The technique is very powerful and the results are, in my opinion, stunning.

The irony is that the majority of the book is focussed on stating how environmentalists are counter-productive, outmoded, virtually useless bags of flesh that should adopt a more positive rhetoric style and join the authors Apollo Alliance to make a better future through the use of technology.

In short, "You all suck at your jobs so do what I say and don't forget to smile."

And that's the tragedy of the book. The author's New Apollo Plan makes a lot of sense. I agree with everything except the hydrogen infrastructure build out, but perhaps I'm being short sighted. Unfortunately the people most likely to support the plan are the very people the authors attack in their book.

Breakthrough employs the ever successful "Kick `em in the balls to win them over" technique. It's a popular one, but rarely works.

As a result of their writing style, people incorrectly interpret their views to translate to:
  1. All environmentalists are morons.
  2. Don't bother recycling you're wasting your time.
  3. It's no big deal if you want to be an uber consumer and the producer of tons of needless waste. In the end it won't matter.
  4. Technology will be our savior and all we need to do is wait till our government starts investing in tech and all will be well.
And it's not hard to come to these conclusions having read the book. They pick on so many people for so many things that if you've ever recycled a can they put you on the defensive. But this is not what the authors are trying to say and you get a more nuanced approach if you listen to them talk live in this FORA Podcast Episode.

Even so I can't help but mention this idea that's been floating around in my head. (Perhaps I'm being defensive?):
If part of the goal is to drive government investment, then doesn't having individuals taking small actions to protect their environment (recycling, switching to tap water, etc.) the sort of thing that helps codify political support for larger investments? I'm thinking the answer is yes and Michael Pollan wrote an article called Why Bother? that answers this question quite elegantly.

I went into this book expecting to be presented with ideas that didn't fit with my world view and got what I was looking for. It made me reconsider my approach of limiting "My Ecological Footprint". I still have an aversion to waste, but I find myself looking for ways to do things in a renewable way rather than not doing them at all.

While I didn't care for their approach I thought they made some excellent points so
this book gets 4 out of 5 exploding balls of hydrogen.

Gas Tax Holiday... Scumbags

So here is what happens if John McCain and Hillary Clinton are successful with their 15 week gas tax holiday.
  1. The price of gas will drop by 18 cents per gallon for 1 day.
  2. Oil companies raise prices and take back at least 9 cents on day 2.
  3. Over the 15 week gas tax holiday a person that drives 100 miles a week will save a maximum $30 (try out the gas tax calculator. I ended up saving $13!)
  4. You read that right... Thirty dollars max! But wait there's more!
  5. The federal maintenance fund will loose $9,000,000,000 (billion dollars) thus neglecting maintenance on our roads and highways.
  6. ~300,000 highway jobs will be lost. (yes, three hundred thousand jobs)
  7. We get to add a little more CO2 to the atmosphere.
Another way to say this is McCain and Clinton are proposing to neglect our highways and bridges, put 300,000 people out of work, give $4 billion to oil companies, rape our environment, and further feed the oil addiction that has Americans dying in Iraq every day.

For this the average driver gets between $13 and $30... Total...

And it's not just me saying this.

So what's the deal? Are McCain and Clinton stupid? I'm sorry that's unfair; calling them stupid is an insult to stupid people.

The thing is McCain and Clinton are both moderately intelligent people. So the only logical conclusion is they are doing this [insert neglect, eliminate, rape, feed addiction, or profiteer here] on purpose because they are looking for votes.

McCain and Clinton believe that the voters in the upcoming elections are so vacuous, so desperate, so disturbingly oblivious, that they will hear "Gas Tax Holiday" and not care or realize that it means "I'm going to piss all over you, and thank you for your vote."


I hope they're wrong...

In the mean time, Barack Obama is against the gas tax holiday. So, in addition to all the reasons to vote for Obama, we can now add "Unlike his competition, not a scumbag willing to screw over you, your country and the environment for votes." to the list of reasons to vote for him.