Archives For March 2015

snooze  buddies lucy and max

Lucy has been home now for some few weeks and she’s really beginning to come back around to her old self. We’ve been giving her her medications as a liquid that we can load up into a simple syringe and then squirt into her mouth. If you think that pilling a cat is easy, then you’ve not really tried. So we had the compounding lab that supplies our vet give us her medications in solution. It’s considerably easier and faster to give her a squirt of liquid rather than try to get her mouth open and then somehow drop the pill in.

the can that saved a cat

This was the first food I was able to get Lucy to eat after her near-death experience earlier in February. It’s pure fish in brine. It’s great as far as protein is concerned, not so great due to all the salt. But it got her started eating again, and after a time she started to eat other more conventional canned cat foods.

my picky eater

You’re looking at her current stock of food (above). Before she got so ill she used to eat dry food and then all the Fancy Feast flavors. Since coming back from her illness she’s started eating just the regular salmon Fancy Feast, and has now moved on to the Elegant Medleys, all of them salmon based. The Florentine version seems to be her favorite; I can’t get the Florentine version out of the can fast enough for her. With the return of her appetite has been a surge of her eating, at times three to four cans/day. I don’t mind as her weight dropped to 7.9 pounds from a pre-sickness weight of around 11 1/2 pounds. For a time she was gaunt, looking like she did when she first came into the house in 2008.

Hopefully I can get her back up and “running.” I’m going to be on a three-week business trip starting next week, and I need to get her straightened out as best I can.

A New Way of Photographing

All photos were taken with the Olympus E-M10 and then pulled over, via WiFi and Olympus’ OI.Share. Post processing was done with Pixelmator on an iPad Air 2. I then pushed the final image off my camera roll and up to Flickr via Pixelmator. I would have written the complete blog post on the iPad as well, but I can’t seem to be able to link back with the same ease using the iPad as I can using a regular browser (Firfox in this case) on Window 8.1. But I’m working on learning how. The ability to just move photos off the E-M10 directly to the iPad wirelessly is so sweet and easy compared to the elaborate workflow of using Adobe Lightroom. I have the iOS WordPress app installed. I just need to better understand how to use it. Then I can leave the big Samsung Windows machine behind.

Simplification and traveling light while photographing. That’s one of my top goals for 2015.

KSR_RedMarsKim Stanley Robinson, the science fiction author of the Mars trilogy “Red Mars,” “Green Mars,” and “Blue Mars,” was interviewed on 6 March of this year by Blog Picture Science. In that interview Robinson discusses what has transpired in robotic planetary exploration over the last 20+ years since the first novel came out in 1992, and how that has re-shaped his thinking about the key assumption in his novels, that assumption being that it would be fairly straightforward to terraform Mars.

Now, he believes it’s going to be a lot harder and take a lot longer to accomplish.

His reasons for this change in thinking are based on:

  1. “There’s much less nitrogen on Mars than there should be if there had been an ordinary distribution through the solar system in the original planetary accretion.This is still mysterious but it apparently exists and we really need nitrogen, so that’s one problem.”
  2. “Another problem is there could be indigenous bacterial life down in the basement regolith which is to say a kilometer underground or 100 meters underground and that’s going to be very hard to disprove. So when we go there we may be intruding on alien life.”
  3. “And lastly the surface is covered by perchlorates which are poisonous to humans in the parts per billion range and the Viking lander didn’t reveal that. It has since been revealed by our subsequent landers. Now those perchorates could be changed into something more benign to humans by introducing a surface bacteria of our own to eat them and process them because they’re basically salts. But that would take a long time. So these are new stoppers that I didn’t know about when I wrote my books.”

In case you’re curious where you’ve heard about perchlorates, they’re used in high-performance solid rocket motors as well as explosives. In 2013 the EPA started to regulate perchlorate in drinking water due to its adverse effects on the thyroid gland in pregnant women and young children here on Earth.

On Mars, perchlorate concentrations in the Martian soil are estimated at between 0.5 and 1%. That may seem small, but perchlorate adverse effects on humans can be caused by concentrations in the parts per billion range. With all the fine dust on the surface of Mars, there’s no way it wouldn’t get into a Martian habitat and slowly poison the inhabitants. Any permanent one-way colonization effort to Mars would be a trip of death, something that the Mars One effort may not have even considered. Or perhaps they did get the perchlorate memo; contracts to develop the 2018 robotic lander have run out and as of February 2015 were not renewed. This could be as simple as a plain old lack of money, but that lack could have been triggered by someone bright enough to really appreciate the issues Robinson has pointed out.

Further into the interview, Robinson states “[W]e have to make a reconciliation on this planet (Earth) there is no planet ‘B’… the terriforming of [Mars] is too long, it’s really thousands of years and we only have decades to get it together here… [Mars terraforming] can only follow on the first great project, which is sustainability here (on Earth).”

I think we’ve got our work cut out for us right here on this planet. But before you think I’m down on the whole idea of Mars, Know that I’m not. The following video, “Voyager,” came from Robinson’s website. It’s a bit about how we might colonize our own solar system, our own bit of space with all our planets. But we have to make our civilization sustainable on our original world, to preserve this unique planet called Earth. Only then will we have a chance to make it sustainable everywhere else.

cats and roses

March 11, 2015

a cat and her cat

Lucy’s been back home for over a week now and is eating steadily. Her weight dropped three pounds during her sickness, from 11 down to 8. I remember that was her weight when she first arrived back in 2008. I’m hoping to get her to eat more and get the weight back on. Otherwise she’s perky and energetic (when she’s not napping around the house like the other two cats).

Evening rose

The rose was taken at dusk tonight. My wife wanted oven-baked wings so I took her to a local spot that fixes them the way she likes them. The roses just happen to grow right next to the wing place. She was happy with the wings, and when she’s happy I’m happy. And why not? She’s been through a lot lately. In a way, my wife and my cat have been paralleling each other, fighting illnesses and getting excellent medical attention.

The photos were taken with the Olympus E-M10 and the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 and pulled directly off the E-M10 with the Olympus Android app to my smartphone. I then pushed them up to Flickr off the smartphone. The only problem with doing it that way is I can’t add Flickr tags and a title before the upload like I can from a desktop browser (Linux, Mac, or Windows). But I’m going that route simply because I need to break out of the post-processing rut I’ve gotten into over the years. I’m almost a slave to Lightroom and I needn’t be. The Olympus OM-D’s have built-in “art” filters that can give a nice effect when combined with some halfway decent composition. The Lucy photo at top was made with the black-and-white grainy filter, while the rose was made with the pale and light color filter, which I have come to like these days. The processors in the OM-D cameras are now fast enough that using them is no longer a liability when it comes to shot-to-shot timings. There is no noticeable delay using these filters, unlike when I use equivalent filters on my E-P2 (which I still own).

I’m headed to Japan in two weeks on a three week business trip. I’m taking one of my E-M5s and the E-M10, along with the Olympus 18mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8, and the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4. I’ll throw in the chargers, some batteries, and some extra cards, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll do some post processing on my iPad Air 2. I’m going there to take a lot of photographs during my off hours, and I’m accepting the results that come out of both cameras. I’m concentrating “capturing the moment” and “telling a story”, not on some fancy Lightroom settings.

Wish me luck.

lucy update

March 7, 2015

still hanging in there
It’s been a week since I last wrote about Lucy’s health. She shows good signs of thriving. I’m cautiously optimistic that she may pull completely out of her current state of ill health and be a normal cat yet again, at least for a while longer. Whether that’s measured in months or years is unknown at this time. All of her troubles have given me a crash course about cats, especially their health and biology. It’s a tough way to learn more than just how to feed and water your animal…

She’s been the beneficiary of some top-notch veterinary science through my local vet (Williamsburg Veterinary Clinic), which is appropriate given how she’s the official ASL Cat Mascot. First that science kept her alive and got her through the worst part of this whole episode. Lucy’s to the point where she’s now reacting to me like she normally did, following me around and giving me meows modulated with her motorboat purrs. She’s not back up to eating full meals in one sitting (she’s almost free-feeding, eating a bit, then resting, then eating more), and that worries me, but I have the following (possible) diagnoses from the vet as to why this may be and what’s really going on.

  1. Cardiomegaly with no no evidence of congestive heart failure, and
  2. Cat pancreatitis (ran some panels and waiting for full results).

Based on what I’ve read the pancreatitis makes the most sense and can cause a lot of other problems in cats, including heart (#1 above). She showed the symptoms for #2, and I have to believe this is the problem. Pancreatitis in humans is bad enough, causing great abdominal pain and killing the appetite, but for a little cat it has got to be even worse. I’ve been giving her foods that are pure, or nearly pure, protein, such as the Goya mackerel and Purina’s Beyond Wild Salmon Recipe which is grain free. The problem with the Goya is it’s packed in brine, but I can wash off the excess salt before giving it to her. The key right now for feeding is no carbs, very little fat, just mostly protein. I’m in the process of following up on a suggestion by one of the tech vets to feed her roasted chicken. This is just pure chicken that’s been roasted with the fat cooked out a bit.

So far she’s been pulling through like a trouper. Since getting back home a week ago she’s back to exploring the house. She’s cleaning herself, leaping about her cat tree, scratching on her cat tree posts, and doing all the typical cat-isms you’d expect from a normal healthy cat. Today she was following me around like the old times, talking to me up a storm. She’d follow me to some spot where I’d be working, then sit somewhere nearby while I did some sort of chore. I’d move on and she’d be my little shadow. She’s been leaping up in my lap when I sit, and batting at my hands playfully. It’s the old Lucy that I haven’t seen since December. I didn’t realize how much she’d changed over that short period, and how much I dearly missed that part of her personality.

The problem with owning a pet for many of us is we love it when they’re healthy, but don’t know squat what to do when they become greatly ill. Having a pet is like being married, or having children. You’re committed to them in sickness and health, for better or worse… And so I take care of her needs when she’s ill, just like I’d take care of my wife and my children. As long as I’m able, anyone in my household will always be under my unconditional protection, even the little four-footers.