Good night sweetie

a digital photo frame showing a photo of a tiger-striped medium hair cat laying on a zippered suitcase and looking up at the camera. next to it is a earthenware urn with a blue and gold ribbon and a gold heart emblazoned with the name "Piper"

This will always be my favorite picture of my kitty. I always knew that when it was her time, she would let me know.

Last Wednesday, the hard decision was made to let Piper cross the rainbow bridge. She was a surprisingly stoic, rugged, but loving little lady who always made sure I knew how much she cared for me, even when I had not been very caring to myself.

Especially over the last (almost) two and a half years in Canada, while she and I have been sharing an in-law suite, she’d always been there to greet me when I got home after work with a loud (and sometimes pointed) meow.

As she approached the ripe old age of 19, she kept her natural decline to herself as much as she could. I could tell she was going through changes – her weight was beginning to drop and I could feel her spine poking through her back when I’d pet her. Her ability to groom herself was also starting to wane – I had to cut a few large mats out of her fur in early June. And it was getting harder for her to jump up on the bed for our nightly pets and nuzzling ritual, but she refused any kind of assistance.

During what would be her last days, she’d spent a lot of time near my window, feeling the sun. It was a perilous place to be – I had to watch out for her since I could easily roll into her with my office chair.

She didn’t hop up on the bed to be with me that last night, and in the morning it was clear she couldn’t hide whatever was going on any longer. Her breathing was extremely labored and she was restless and disoriented. She’d fully stopped eating and drinking water. I finished work early and called around to find an Urgent Care vet who could see her, knowing pretty well how things were going to play out. She got into the soft travel crate for the Vet without protest – something she’s never done.

Her meows on the half-hour drive to Urgent Care were definitely of a different tone than I’ve ever heard them. I thought back to all the trips we’d done together – the trips to the vet in Royal Oak to get her immunizations caught up and her flight health certificate to move to Austin, the flight together from Austin to Syracuse with her under the seat in front of me, and the car ride across the border to our new home in Canada. Her meows had always said “I know I have to do this, but I don’t like it.” On that final drive, it was more like “thank you for knowing what’s happening. I still don’t like all this traveling stuff, but I’ll miss it.”

The vets rushed her away from me pretty much at the door and put her on oxygen and an IV so they could stabilize her and get some idea what was going on. I sat alone in the exam room for about 10 minutes and then the vet came in with the news that her heart was giving out and her little body was beginning to shut down. It was her time.

They brought her in, wrapped in a warming blanket and I called up the kids and their mom who had been in Toronto for the long Canada Day weekend and we FaceTimed so they could all say their goodbyes. When they were ready, I hung up with them and signaled to the vet who had been waiting and then in a couple minutes, with me at her side, her struggle had ended.

I stayed with her for a while, thinking about how much I’d taken for granted her constant presence over the previous 16 years. She had always been so independent and unique. I thought of all the times I’d tried to get her to do some meme-y thing and she’d always look at me like “Do you believe everything you read on the internet about cat behavior? Really now, I thought you knew me better than that.” Of course I did – but that was part of what made it fun.

When I got back home without her, I could tell she was still there in the room with me, so I made sure to clean her litterbox and leave the food out and the water fountain running overnight. One of my kids asked me to share all the pictures I could find of her and then did an amazing digital painting of her on a bumpy train ride home.

By the next afternoon, after deciding what mementos the family needed of her, she let me put some of her things away. She now sits there on my shelving unit next to the digital frame I pulled out of storage and loaded up with all her pictures.

Her bed is still next to mine though.

Moving to Canada, Part One: Why I Moved To Canada

All stories sharing the structure of the Monomyth can tie the start of the plot’s “rising action” to a critical moment, a choice, a response to the Call to Adventure. The critical moment that started my move to Canada came in November of 2020, around the time of my pod’s First Thanksgiving during the COVID-19 pandemic. My co-parent had been looking to make her next career move and was considering two options: either taking a new position located in Ottawa, Ontario with her company that would be focused on their Public Sector business there, or another opportunity that would keep us rooted in Austin for the forseeable future.

The question she asked me that night was: “Is Canada completely off the table?” It was a decision I had to make as the other half of our shared custody agreement. I knew if I didn’t take Canada off the table it was highly likely she’d take that option and we’d have to figure out what that meant. I also knew that if I did take Canada off the table, she’d either take the local opportunity and we’d all end up regretting it, or there was a (greater than zero) chance she’d decide to go to Canada anyway and I’d be back to single parenting. And the thought of single parenting with even less support than I’d had in Michigan was a sobering one indeed.

So I didn’t take Canada off the table, committing us to figuring it out, whatever that meant. The company I was working for had an office in Toronto, so getting myself up there through that path would be a big ask but not out of the question. I could probably start looking into that after the New Year, once my co-parent had decided to take the Canada job.

Maybe a week or two later, a meeting with my boss and HR popped onto my work calendar. Out of nowhere, not even a week after my boss had said I was not included in the impending round of reductions, I learned I actually was.

Now I would be on my own, if when my co-parent chose Canada, to figure out a way to get there myself, if that’s something I wanted.

Continue reading Moving to Canada, Part One: Why I Moved To Canada

What could go wrong?

(a twitter thread – originally posted Feb 7 2020)

Alright, gather round. I’ll tell you my ‘Alpaca Farm’ story. This came up this morning since my friend had been trying to tell her husband about it and texted me trying to remember what had been so traumatic so she could explain it better.

In 2006, I was working as a telephone technician and got sent out on a service call to the middle of nowhere, I think somewhere around Pinckney, MI. Paperwork said customer had no dial tone on a couple extensions, something like that.

I don’t remember if the customer was under a name or a company name, not really important. Suffice it to say, I found myself at an Alpaca Farm. Owner was a nice (lonely?) middle-aged lady, greeted me, probably introduced me to an Alpaca or two that were out and about.

I remember she had a decent operation at the farm – she’d clearly done well in the past and now mostly was handling the care of the animals and business side of things while she had subcontracted out the logistics of processing the fur.

I don’t remember if she had a spouse/partner, either way they weren’t there, so it was just me, her, some alpacas and a one-floor ranch house that she lived in and worked out of. People who have business phone systems in their houses are a unique bunch anyway…

Continue reading What could go wrong?

Adventures in Gravitational Relativity

(from the archives)

Many years ago now, I stumbled across Upside Down (2012) on Netflix. It’s a classic story of star-crossed love between a boy from one world and a girl from another. Except that in this case, what keeps them from getting down is quite literally an agreement on which direction it is.

So, already, we’re talking about a very far-out type of story universe, taking something we all take for granted (namely: gravity) and messing with it.

Then, when I started sitting down to write about it a short time later, I stumbled upon another film with a similar core concept: サカサマのパテマ <<Patema Inverted>> (2013). After viewing Patema, it seemed only fitting to talk about both of these movies together and how one clearly rose above the other with their treatment of the common conceit.

Continue reading Adventures in Gravitational Relativity

A Bedtime Story.

(Note: any resemblance to real events, past, present, or future is purely coincidental)

Once upon a time, a Big Media Conglomerate acquired the film rights to a Certain Media Property and one day assigned the Property to a subsidiary Film Production Studio for development. And from this development work, a Script was written, and Production started. And since the Titular Character of the film was to be computer-generated, Motion-Capture and 3D Modeling was conducted to bring the character to life.

Then on a certain day, it was determined that Sufficient Composited Footage was available to produce A Preview, so one was edited together and released on-line. When The Internet saw The Preview, the outcry was Loud and Thunderous, and many Aspersions were cast upon the Film Production Studio regarding the Extremely Sub-Standard Quality of the 3D character concept as it appeared in what would come to be known as The ‘Damnéd’ Preview.

So, the Film Production Studio walked back The ‘Damnéd’ Preview and told The Internet that it was going to Rework things and come back with Something That Actually Looked Like The Original Character As It Had Appeared In The Source Material And Every Other Medium In Which It Had Ever Been Included Since Time Immemorial.

Yes, You F*cking Morons,” The Internet said, “that is what you Should Have Done The First Time!

Continue reading A Bedtime Story.

At the Mercy of The Invisible Hand

What a strange time and place I live in, where I can choose who to pay for my electricity.

Before 2017, I paid for household electricity according to the traditional model (where you just pay The Electric Company for where you live.) These were the Halcyon Days when Certain Things About Adult Life Could Be Relied Upon, and the cost of fungible commodities was kept in check by the definition of ‘fungible’. But then I moved into a house that was located in one of Texas’ Electric Choice areas, so I had to quickly try and piece together what in the hell this meant and how to deal with it.

So I dove into “Power to Choose” and immediately found it was more like “Paralysis of Choice” since entering my new Zip Code resulted in over 100 offers. Immediately I started looking around for The Default (like I was used to) only to find there…wasn’t one.

So, putting that aside for the moment, I tried to get some background on Electric Choice and Why It Was A Thing. It seems that in 2002, much of Texas switched over to an un-bundled retail electrical service model where consumers could pick what company they paid for their power while still living in the same place, expecting that the competition this introduced would naturally drive down costs (like it always does, right? [/sarcasm])

It reminded me of the competitive natural gas companies that had started to creep into the market in Metro Detroit around the time I graduated college…

Continue reading At the Mercy of The Invisible Hand

The importance of community

I first stumbled onto SimplySeze‘s twitch stream a year ago today as I was trawling around Jackbox Party Pack streams. As I had been doing for a few days prior to that, I was looking for a friendly, respectful stream run by someone who cultivated a healthy, inclusive community.

I lurked for a bit before jumping in as a rando, probably on a round of Trivia Murder Party, as that was my early favorite. And as had been the case on other TMP rounds on other streams, I did really well, and soon chat was playfully accusing me of cheating.

We all played a few games, I got timed out once or twice by the mighty Moobot for posting links in chat (to, LUL) and all-in-all had a great time with Seze’s community. I finally dropped a follow at the end of the stream.

Over the next couple months, I would drop in from time to time when Jackbox was being played, or lurk while I played GW2, occasionally reacting to things, suggesting quotes, or cracking jokes. And during that time, I began appearing in chat more and more, and keeping up with her schedule as much as I could.

Then, on her January 5th stream, she decided to pre-empt her scheduled Sims stream for a run of Doki Doki Literature Club. Her normal 3-4 hour stream quickly became a 12-hour epic, and I stayed around almost to the bitter end.

The next day, after watching the last hour of the VOD, I dropped a sub while she was offline.

Continue reading The importance of community

Once More unto the Linking Book

As some of you may have seen recently, in honor of the 25th anniversary of MYST, I finally stopped over-preparing for, and actually did my play-through live on twitch the other day.

It was not a blind, nor semi-blind play-through. I’ve played this game multiple times, in multiple versions, through the years. While I don’t have every key memorized, I know how to get through it. My aim in the stream was to move purposefully through the game and its puzzles in a way that viewers could follow along with.

NB from the future: originally this post also included links to the edited-for-YouTube version of this playthrough, but I've privated those videos in the last few years for various reasons. The rest of this post has been written in place of that since I'd like to talk a bit more about why this game is so important to me and why I wanted to do a live play-through.
Continue reading Once More unto the Linking Book

Meme: “The Gamer Tag”

Today, I was “tagged” on the tweeter by a fellow SimplySeze mod to do a gaming-themed list meme.

What is your all-time favorite video game?

Probably Windwaker. It may have something to do with the fact that it was the first game I really “beat” all by myself. It has always hit a sweet-spot with me, gameplay-wise. At least until the final battle with Ganondorf which has quite a big jump in difficulty compared to everything leading up to it.

What is your current favorite video game?

At the moment I don’t have a single favorite, but I like playing games with people now rather than alone. So collaborative games like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes or MMOs like Guild Wars 2 or the Jackbox packs.

What is your favorite video game genre?

Probably would be Puzzle-Adventure. MYST was there at a key part of my early video gaming life, so anything like that which deals with exploration, puzzling, and a compelling story.

Continue reading Meme: “The Gamer Tag”