Wednesday, June 30, 2010

False Alarm

Turns out that all that yelping and squealing coming from the cage all night was a raccoon.  Which doesn't necessarily mean we haven't caught the nighttime pooper.  I just assumed that because Wally was the one under the shed, he was the maker of the movements.  But if it's the raccoon, well, the raccoon is now gone and the trap has been reset.

Next up: a skunk, no doubt.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

En la Noche

We've had a groundhog/woodchuck/hedgehog thing living under the shed in the back yard for the last couple of years, and although I can't say I've ben happy it's been there (it ate pretty much all of our flower and vegetable garden back in 2008), I've generally just let it be, which is pretty much my policy with all animals.  Until they cross a line.  As with the squirrels that took up residency in the roof over our bedroom back in December and therefore signed their own eviction notice, the furry little fucker in the backyard has also apparently (and unwittingly) decided that he no longer wants to be our guest.

So what did the groundhog (henceforth known as Wally) do that finally made me decide that he had to go?  He started to use the area near the shed as his own personal bathroom.  Over the course of the Spring, he gradually turned a four-foot long crevice in the back yard into a canyon of shit.  Literally packed with soggy, seed-filled shit.  One of the most annoying and nauseating things I've ever had to deal with, and it made me slightly crazy.  To the point where, on a day where my temper had already been completely frayed by the sudden, explosive death of my not-that-old lawnmower (which made my tight schedule much, much tighter when I had to drive across the county to pick up my dad's mower) right after I spent ten minutes shoveling out groundhog shit in preparation for mowing - and, well, as I pulled back into the driveway, there was Wally just sitting in the side yard, and I gunned the engine, fully prepared to run down the hairy little shit machine.

Thankfully, I came to my senses (mental and moral) right away and slammed on the brakes at the end of the driveway.  But the incident made it crystal clear to me that Wally needed to be humanely removed by trained professionals, because I had become Carl Spackler from Caddyshack, and my next step was going to be Semtex.

So the Bug Runner - the same group that dealt with my squirrels - came by this morning with a trap, baited with whatever it is you would bait a trap for a groundhog, and suggested that Wally would get in there in the next day or so.  Good for Wally, and good for me.

At around 10 PM, I heard what I at first took to be the mewing of our new kittens, but then I realized that they were calmly asleep in the bedroom, and the sound wasn't so much of a mewling as a loud, panicked shrieking, and it was only quieter because it was coming from the back yard.  And it just kept on and on and on.  If it is Wally in the trap, he's not in pain (thank God), but he's sure not happy about it.

But I sure am.  Wally's going to get picked up tomorrow and taken to be released in style, up in Harriman Park.  Allow me the small (unbelievably small, petty to a nearly quantum degree) pleasure of listening to Wally sing his song of impotent fury for one night before retiring to do his shitting elsewhere.


Thursday, June 17, 2010


A call to our former (and presumably, future) vet paid off, in that they a) have many cats and kittens to adopt, and b) have no position on whether they go outside or not, provided they get their leukemia vaccination.  You may be wondering why we didn't call the vet in the first place - well, we did, a few weeks back, but they were fresh out at that point.

But that's all in the past, and now is the future of the cats.  We'll be heading over Saturday morning to (literally) get our pick of the litter.  Fans of cute things should watch this space, because pictures will be posted.  Don't worry, I'll have them sign a release.


Sleepless in the Saddle

For some reason, this week has been a succession of nights with less than four hours of sleep each.  Begins to wear you down, after a couple of nights.  One night was working late on a freelance web job.  One night was a lower back spasm.  One night was just plain anxiety.

Tonight, I actually managed to get into bed earlier than I'd feared, and as soon as I wrap the Rambler, I'm going to try to get to sleep.  Note that I say 'try,' since I'm one of those unfortunate people who doesn't easily slide into slumber. In fact, the more bone-tired I am, the more difficult it can be for me to easily sleep.

Both of my parents are lousy sleepers, so that's where that comes from.  Not an inherited trait I would have requested if genetics were one of those grill places where you pick your own ingredients and then hand it over to the cook, but you get what you get and you have to make the most of it.

My computer says it's 12:59 AM, which seems like it's trying to tell me to call it a night.  Thankfully, it's just started to rain, and that's definitely prime sleeping conditions.  See youse in 24.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Three Minutes to Midnight

Just doing some last minute downloading before I sack it for the night - so, since I've been thinking about returning the Rambler to the days of more frequent posting, this seems like an ideal opportunity to start back in with the strategy that used to be the site's bread and butter.  To wit: just start typing and hope that something comes out the other side.

The big thing going on in my life right now is just having a lot going on.  I've literally been going since 7:30 this morning, and haven't had more than an hour of what you would consider 'down time' in there.  And this is a good thing, yes?  In recent years, I've had too much work and I've had not enough work, and too much work absolutely is preferable.

One thing about this is that I suddenly recognize a strong need for organization.  I've always been pretty good at keeping things going in my head, but with the sheer amount of disparate work coming in from all angles, I owe it to myself and my clients to start keeping a database of some sort so that I can best keep track of the progress of each job.  It seems like such a simple thing (and I've kept The Tappan Sea doing that with the recording progress), but for me it's a pretty big realization that tools of that sort are there to help.

Oddly, it has a lot in common with the realization back in February/March that I could add tools like tracing vellum and computers to my process in the two math portraits and it would only improve the work - that it wasn't about challenging myself to meet some ideal, it was about what's best for the work and how to take the pressure of little things off the mind so that I can better focus my energies where they need to be.

Gah - this is starting to sound like some kind of weird self-help Rambler, isn't it?  How awful.  I'll pack it full of scatology next time...


Sunday, June 13, 2010


Yesenia and I drove down to the middle of New Jersey today to attend a pet-adoption superfair at a mall somewhere down there.  Don't ask me for an exact town - it's late and I've been coding for hours and mid-Jersey is essentially a complete gray void full of malls and jughandles, to me.

Anyway, this was all part of our decision to get a new cat (preferably two).  We're still surprisingly sad over Kiko, but we also know we'd like to have a furry pain in the ass running around the house, again.

There were dozens of cats there today, any of which I would have loved to have adopted.  But the new thing is that adoption agencies are opposed to having the cats in their care be adopted to homes where they will be allowed outdoors.  And both Yesenia and I simply feel that the cat should do what the cat wants to do.  And we can't in good conscience just lie to these agencies when we adopt, so we've reached a catless impasse.

Thing is this.  While I appreciate that cats statistically live longer, healthier lives if they are never let outdoors (easily half of the Kopperman family cats over the years have met early retirement due to safari misadventure), well, people could live longer, healthier lives if they, too, stayed inside 24/7.

Cats are predators, they are explorers, they are a part of the world.  If they find a threshold they can't pass, that door becomes the center of their being.  Those first warm days of Spring, when the snow was finally off the ground and the concrete was soaked in the sun; when Kiko would run outside, down the steps, and drop and roll over and over, scraping and warming and living. The exquisite joy that she radiated on those days is nothing I've ever seen an indoor cat display.

The choice the adoption agencies are mandating reflects who we are as a society, now: a longer, sadder, shadowed life at all costs is now preferable to a shorter, happier and sunlit one.

I don't have it in me to deny a cat the simple freedom of this choice.  Neither does Yesenia.  Maybe we're behind the times.  But I don't want to have the only day our cat goes outside to be the day we carry them out, lifeless and unseeing, to finally bury them near the rose bush by the side of the house.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Some Kind of First

A drawing done with Karl's new iPad.  This was the free drawing app, formatted for the iPhone, so nothing spectacular.  And until there's a pressure sensitive stylus and program to match, it won't really be much use as an artist's field tool (really, how many adult artists do you know that use their finger as their primary drawing tool?  Still, fun.


Friday, June 4, 2010


I suddenly find myself on a huge Monty Python kick, although it's an odd kick in that I haven't watched any of the shows or movies yet.  But I'm dying to, for some reason.  It's probably been about twenty years since I really saw the series, and easily as long since I've seen both Life of Brian and Meaning of Life.  Holy Grail is the only thing I don't feel an overwhelming need to watch, because like most nerds of my generation, I just ran that one into the ground in my teens - seriously, probably as many viewings of that as of Star Wars for me, back in the day.

So I guess it would be more accurate to say I'm on the verge of a huge Python kick, which is a strange thing to say, but what the hell.

It's not even that big retrospective from Bravo that aired a few months back that did it, since I didn't even see that (although I'd very much like to - note to self: Blockbuster Queue). It's more my habit of grabbing a book off the shelves of my library at random - whatever looks like it would pass for good 'me time' reading.  If you get my euphemism.  And this week's edition is that giant Python book that came out about a decade ago - sort of their version of the Beatles Anthology book, same quotes and format and overdesign and everything.

And reading it made me remember why I loved Python so much in the first place, and probably why wimpy nerds like me all were drawn to them: the Pythons were - to a man - brilliant.  I don't mean in just the comedic sense, which they obviously were.  I mean in the sense that they were all smart, articulate, highly-educated men who would have been successful in any field they chose. In this book, they operate in that rarefied air of people who can explain what it is that they're doing and not in any way ruin your enjoyment of it - sort of like the Penn & Teller of comedy, I guess.

Certainly, there's no shortage of comedians who like to pick apart and cerebralize what they do - it's practically a genre unto itself, comedians talking comedy (witness the vast number who appeared in The Aristocrats).  But mostly they just come off as wonks talking shop.  Which can be entertaining and even enlightening, but never transcendent.  Python did something so unique and (apparently) unrepeatable that reading about the process and personalities becomes a part of it, much like the story of the Beatles is very much a part of what the Beatles were about.

No doubt my viewing and appreciation of Dr. Parnassus fed into this revival of interest for me, and I'll therefore be adding Gilliam's ages of man trilogy to the pile to watch - like an after diner mint. Although I really couldn't eat another bite.