December 2007

A cat update

Grooming So far, the cats seem to be getting along quite well; Goober’s acceptance of the new kitten is actually better than expected, and certainly better than we’ve seen with other cats. The kitten did manage to give his right eyelid a scratch, which necessitated a trip to the vet last week. There we learned that Goober was now in excess of nine kilograms (20 lbs) — a couple of kilos more than we thought he was. Hopefully, the presence of the new kitten — who incidentally is a playing machine who likes nothing better than to pounce on me in the middle of the night — will help him work off a bit of the excess flab.

And no, we still haven’t settled on a name. We have some candidates, but nothing’s stuck yet.

Observing in the cold

Last night we could see some stars, but it also proved that cold nights aren’t much use for stargazing. Too much goes wrong with the telescope: the optics never quite settle down due to the temperature, so nothing stays in focus; the batteries drain rapidly; the LCD on the Celestron controller goes wonky. We had the power die on us during the alignment, forcing us to start over, and we lost tracking while at high power. And meanwhile we’re freezing our extremities trying to control the scope and handle ice-cold metal eyepieces. Mental note for future reference: try not to go out stargazing below, say, –10°C.

Our purpose last night was to test our new acquisitions: a 10-mm Radian eyepiece (125× in our scope) and a 2× Barlow lens, both from that manufacturer of astronomical holy grails, Tele Vue. We were especially hoping to test them on Mars, which is bright and nearing opposition this month. We’re going to have to wait for more favourable conditions.

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On the Kindle and e-books

The problem with the Kindle, Amazon’s new e-book thingy, is the problem with every e-book thingy I’ve encountered — namely, that they’re all designed as the last link in a proprietary supply chain. They’re not reading devices; they’re a place to read the e-books you’ve bought from their store. Everyone complains about the DRM, whether it’s Amazon’s, Sony’s, Microsoft’s or Palm’s, but the DRM is quite honestly a symptom rather than the problem.

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Back up to full complement

You knew that, once Maya died, we wouldn’t be a one-cat household forever. Jennifer doesn’t work that way. So say hello to our new arrival: a two-month old male kitten. We’re not sure what to call him yet; I’m open to suggestions. He’s courtesy one of Jennifer’s co-workers, who had a litter on hand. Extremely playful and looks to be well-socialized, if a little shy and jumpy so far (which is to be expected). Goober’s responding to the intrusion better than the average cat would. (He’s never looked so huge in comparison, at more than six times the kitten’s weight.)