Random adventures through my life... in all their glory and splendor.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

There are no clean getaways

I was out of town for all afternoon and didn't get home until about 9:30pm yesterday. Since the feral cats didn't take the bait (I'll get you yet, Lil Rica!) this means I missed the "close the trap and before dusk" window. I didn't think much about it because I caught the raccoon yesterday. I know there's a possum that's been sniffing around, but what are the chances of that wandering in less than 24 hours later, right?

Around 1am I heard the cage thrashing, which is a bad sign because I don't usually hear trapped cats from inside the house. Not able to leave an animal in peril, I get up to check out what's going on. It was just beginning to rain so I just poked my head out the back door and could only hear something in the dark hissing and clawing. Yeah, probably not a cat. Especially since there were 3 sets of cat eyes coming over the fence to do their own investigation (I guess you could say they were going to perform a CAT scan... thank you, thank you, you guys have been great. Next show at 11!) Anyway, I ducked back in to grab a flashlight. When I got back out, one of the cats was about 18 inches from the cage. Sigh... That's what this neighborhood needs is for one of these cats to get rabies, so I shoo them away and take a closer look myself.

Yeah... not a possum either.

Don't let those big brown eyes fool you. This bad boy was mean and Cra-Hanky. I knew this guy was going to be 'special needs' because he had already soiled the length of the cage and then continued to panic in it. No wonder the cats were interested. And since I've been a raccoon specialist for oh, the last 24 hours, I knew with certainty that there was absolutely no point in feeding this bugger a towel. But out of pity, I moved the cage over a couple feet, getting him out of the rain (and his other stuff) and went back to bed.

Chris checked him out the next morning and noted (as you can kind of see in the picture) that he really didn't have raccoon stripes. I told her that in my raccoon-expert opinion, the coloration difference was most likely due to genetic variances and the fact that it had spent the night digging a 2 inch deep trench through the mud under the cage. Somehow, it had also managed to pull some rocks into the cage. I'm still baffled by that one. Was he planning to pound his way out? Did the cage need decorating? Only the raccoon knows for sure...

Anyway suffice it to say that this is NOT how I planned on spending my spring break. Oh, and kids, don't worry, he's "in a better place" now too.

PS)This blog title is the tag line from the movie "No Country for Old Men" which fits nicely with this topic and my previous blog. I was going to photoshop the movie poster and put raccoons in it, but I'm running out of steam here...

No Country for Old Racoons

As a quick summary of recent events, the last time I walked into the veterinarian's office, the vet tech behind the counter looked up and said, "Hello Mr. Gardner, finish spaying the neighborhood yet?" The answer is no. I've got one more very shy, elusive girl that needs a fixin'. The feral cats have a very specific pecking order for eating, so catching them has been pretty easy and methodical. I put one bowl of food out until it's the target cat's turn to eat. Then, I put the food in the cage. Wait about 10 minutes and then 4 out of 5 times, I've caught the cat I'm expecting. But this little one (Codename: Rica) has either figured out the cage or is so far down the pecking order that she eats hours after the other cats. For about 3 days I've been feeding the other cats, then taking the food away hoping that at some point she'd figure out the food schedule. Well, again, she's either too smart or too stupid. So started leaving food in the trap throughout the day figuring that since the other cats were fed they wouldn't sniff around the cage, but she still might.

It hasn't worked yet, and worse yet, it threw off my system.

So, the other day I had a passing thought that if I left food in the live-trap overnight there would be a pretty good chance I'd catch something other than a cat. We know other critters have come dining on the cat food, I just really didn't want to have to mess with anything else. Then, the other night after forgetting to bring the food in, I found this on my deck:As you can see, this sucker was about 10 feet long and not at all pleased with his dining arrangements. Note that the gaping wound on his back no doubt added to his pleasant demeanor. I had toyed with the question, "What am I going to do if I catch a wild animal?" before, but now I had to have an answer. I mean seriously, what the hell was I going to do with this thing? So, I think I followed a pretty logical course of actions.
1) First, I grabbed the camera and took a couple pictures. What you don't see in the above shot is Famine sitting on the railing over the cage enjoying the show.
2) I tried my one cat trick. When you throw a towel over a trapped cat, it chills out. When you throw a towel over a trapped raccoon it pulls the towel through the cage and eats it.
3) I call for backup. I grab my cellphone and call the first person I could think of who owns a gun. He tells me he can come out the next morning and take care of it. I tell him I may be able to handle this on my own, I just wanted to know his availability.

Legally, I'm not exactly sure what the 'proper' course of action is in my town. My best guess is that it involves hiring a professional trapper to transport my already caged critter. So, without incriminating myself, what I can tell you is that the raccoon is "in a better place now" and we'll just leave it at that.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NOW it's St. Patrick's Day

Today there's been a lot of talk about U2, Van Morrison, and Thin Lizzy on the radio. But the day just isn't complete without a plug for my favorite Irish band, Flogging Molly. I stumbled upon them back in the Napster days. Someone had categorized them under "Christian, Celtic, Punk" and that combination was too much to resist. Actually, I don't really think any of those words describe them particularly well, but give them a listen and decide for yourself.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Karaoke King PreMix

So I've been trying for months to figure out how to add music to this Blogger-thingy. See, here's the deal... Blogger is owned by Google and therefore it's pretty friendly with other Google products. So, let's say I wanted to add video. It's no problem to slap in your favorite YouTube video into your blog. Pictures? Easy. Picasa even has a 'Blogger This' button built right in. But Music... oh, yeah... about that... you're going to need a "third party vendor" and "personal storage space" for them there MP3's.

Well, I found www.podbean.com which is free for us little people. Granted it's geared toward podcasting, but it can work with MP3's so I figured I'd give their widget a go.

And if everything goes right, here's my latest musical nugget. And as per usual, I should probably explain myself.

Basically, this one time, when Matt and I were at karaoke, there was this guy who thought he was God's gift to the karaoke machine. Long story short, he sang THE song was going to be my finale, and right then we looked at each other and decided that the "Karaoke King" song had to be written. So Matt wrote up 2 verses and a guitar riff that he liked and then passed it my way to see what it would turn into after going through the Leevis filter. Well, what he gave me was about 6 minutes of himself cranking on his guitar, giving a commentary, screwing around, and then more cranking. And I thought, wouldn't it be funny to just run with that? Wouldn't that just tick him off to not use any of the actual lyrics? So, although "Karaoke King" hasn't been recorded or even totally written yet, here's the "Pre-Mix." Just click the green triangle on the left.

Powered by Podbean.com

Just some Good Old Bo...AAAAAAH!!!

Gah, what happened to the last week and a half? I don't know if I really got that busy or if I just hit the, "I should blog about that sometime" point and decided that thinking that was close enough. I've got about 400 things I've been meaning to jot down and I think that has also become a mental barrier.

Anyway, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, right? So for starters, Remember this guy? Well I got the scoop the other day. Apparently, if you want "custom bodywork" like this, the formula is quite simple:

1) let the roads to ice up
2) wait until 3am
3) get reeeally drunk
4) drive full tilt into a snowbank at the end of a T intersection
5) enjoy 2 seconds of Dukes of Hazard goodness
6) walk home so you can call in your "accident" later and dodge a DUI
7) congratulate yourself on being a super-genius YEEEE-HAW!

The General does not approve.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I'm too sexy for my... umm... er... never mind.

Here is the most important fact of this post:

-I won a push-up contest.

You read that right. I was challenged. I conquered. I acted like it was easy.
Granted, two days later I'm still feeling pain in places where I didn't even know my arms went, But the important part is that I actually won some form of physical competition. Me. The original cubesitter. My "slow but steady workout plan for nerds" finally paid off.

So here's my exercise plan:
-A lousy workout is better than no workout. Step one is to just walk through the door at the gym. I tell myself that I don't have to run the whole time I'm on the treadmill, I just need to get on it. I don't set any free weight expectations, I just lift what's comfortable. Minimum goal is to "move around for at least a half an hour." I can talk myself into leaving my couch and doing that. Then I usually end up staying longer, but it feels more like extra credit than obligation.
-If something starts to hurt, stop and do something else. If my knees start hurting on the treadmill I move to the elliptical machine. If my arms hurt I either do less weight or I move onto my legs. I've come to the conclusion that there's some equipment in the gym that I am just not meant to use. It's ok. It ain't worth a permanent injury. If I'm moving, it still counts as exercise.
-Keep it interesting. Monotony = boredom = quitting. I need both an iPod and a TV to last any amount of time on a treadmill. But it works. I plug in, tune out, and before I know it, a half hour goes by. If my routine gets boring, I'll either ramp it up or move on to something else. And that leads into my next point...
-Do ONE thing you haven't done before. Whether it's 5 extra pounds, minutes or push-ups, it counts as an accomplishment. Even if it's the lamest workout ever, you can honestly tell yourself you've made some form of progress. And the effect is cumulative.
-Don't expect radical change. This isn't a "15 pounds in 15 days" deal. This is about a routine that you can perpetuate (I'm sure there's a better word for that...) There will be progress, but it's measured in months, not weeks. And if you do decide to bulk up or train for something, the good habits and time commitment are already in place.
-If you don't feel better when you leave, you're doing it wrong. I guess this is my way of saying quit while you're ahead. Stop before you're absolutely exhausted. It puts positive reinforcement on exercising. Yes, it's like willingly tricking yourself, but it works.
-If you don't want to workout, go back to rule one.

This is my routine. I'm not the bulkiest beefcake or the sleekest runner at the gym, but I feel good and it works for me. And if you follow it, after two years, you too may be able to do more pushups than an 8th grader.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

As a matter of fact, the bag DOES say "CAT FOOD"

Now, in general, even the feral cats are pretty tidy. Even when we had to bring some of them in for neutering, they all figured out the litter box. But every once and a while there will be a big mess next to the food dish or the water bowl will be full of ambiguous floaters, which to me indicates that one of the cats is sick or has a mouth infection or something. So the past couple of days I've noticed some sloppiness around ye olde feeding trough so I was keeping my eyes open for an ailing cat. Well yesterday I figured out which one it was...

It was the fat ass raccoon. And he's doing just fine.

I wish I had gotten a picture of this bandito, as it stood frozen almost audibly debating whether to bolt or stay "incognito." (Oh, remind me that incognito rhymes with bandito next time I'm stuck for lyrics...) Anyway, that cheeky treerat-monkey thing just stared at me for about 3 seconds and then went on it's way. Apparently I wasn't much of a threat.

Chris came home right about then and said, "Hey, I saw a huge cat earlier in the evening. Turns out it wasn't a cat." "Was it the mask or the ringed tail that gave it away?" I responded. She then blurted, "That's no Coon, it's a space station!" and proceeded to giggle back into the house. Fine. You win. Nerd.

When Raccoons Attack!
This whole episode reminded me of a time I was up in Northern Wisconsin in a cabin that actually had a raccoon feeder out back. Yeah, it was like a huge bird feeder with a ramp on either side. The folks up there would put out 5 loaves of day-old bread and watch the feeding frenzy in the evening. It was actually far more entertaining than it really should have been, but the best part was when a porcupine showed up and lumbered up one of the ramps backwards, quills at attention. Watching 20-odd raccoons (who had just established some form of pecking order) bail off the feeder like it was on fire was definitely worth the price of admission.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Wreck of the Week

I probably haven't mentioned this directly, but my neighbor has a flatbed truck. Since we share a driveway, it's not uncommon for us to come home and see a random vehicle sitting on the back of their truck, especially on the weekends. What is unusual though, is that generally we see cars that have spun out or ended up in a ditch somewhere and just needed a tow. Not so much in the head-on collisions department... Anyway, we came home from church this morning and saw this bad boy still thawing at the end of the driveway. I thought it looked epic and battle weary, waiting for triage.

I'm not exactly sure what it fought, but I think if this truck could talk it would say, "Yeah, you should see the other guy."

Here's a close up:
I'm not big on car maintenance, but I don't think I would have used a fence post to drain my radiator...