Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Katching Kitty Kats and Kitty In peril [L]

This Morning we were out the door with a mission: Get some Cats. Those cats on my webshot pages have grown since their birth ca. 7/06 and we grew attached, feeding them everyday, even after we left. But they're Wild and only intensive training could reverse that. But what's worse is the Mother gave birth to another round a few weeks ago. So we decided to intervene.

Alley Cat Allies, in conjunction with DC Humane Society, have a Monthly free clinic where they spay/neuter feral/wild cats as long as you re-release them. The ear is "tipped" so animal control will know they have been “fixed” and there is no need to catch/euthanize these animals since they are sterile.

As one humane society employee explained: they’re just like city squirrels or rats. Wild and usually untameable. But very adept at surviving. And as we have seen first hand, feral/wild cats form colonies. Helping each other out.

But we had to catch them with traps provided by The Humane Society. They gave us four. It’s your basic(?) trap. A spring-loaded front that’s connected to a trip plate near the back. After “arming the front you put the bait (cat food) behind the trip plate in the back through the back door. You have to make sure you secure the back door otherwise a thrashing wild cat may break out.

Last night, we set a trap. We didn't feed them the day before and when I arrived with the trap one of the adolescence, Corky, came up, waiting. I put the trap down and entered our old apt. Within 10 minutes Corky sprung the trap! She freaked, as expected. We rushed out and covered the trap with a towel and brought her inside. Her moans were difficult to ignore. Her eyes made us feel guilty: “Why have you done this?” We had to convince ourselves we were doing the right thing. We set another trap and waited for an hour with no luck.


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We didn’t want to do it but we left Corky, alone in the trap in our abandoned apartment. We still had keys. We couldn’t bring her in until 815AM the next Morning. Dani found it difficult to leave her and vowed we would be back at 4AM. I thought she was being crazy. We didn’t get home around 11PM. Exhausted. No way were we getting up at 4AM…….

The alarm went off at 4. Fuck! I was so tired. I wanted to rip the clock out of the wall. Dani hit snooze, a lot. Around 545 she had me up and drinking coffee. We were out the door by 6AM. We live 1.8miles (by road) from our old apt. We were there in no time. I set a trap and as soon as I walked away up comes socks. The other adolescent we were so attached to. I ran into our old apt and we waited. Corky was calm and in her cage. Within a few minutes Socks was in the trap eating but she wasn’t tripping the mechanism! Fuck we thought. But moments later she stepped on the plate and we had her! She didn’t freak as bad as her sibling Corky until I was hovering over her with another towel. I brought her in and sat her next to Corky. Now was the time they would both start moaning. Oy Vey was that unpleasant.


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Now was the time for the big Fish. We wanted the Calico. She was the adult female breeder. We were somewhat positive that the new litter was weaned and it would be OK to trap the Queen of the Colony.

Tangent – it’s 623PM and Alley Cat just called for us to pick up the wild ones. We can’t. They misled us or mis-communicated some vital facts to us. Dani tells ‘em we’ll pick ‘em up in the Morning.

I set the third trap and head inside. In 15-20 minutes we get a response

Dani: Here comes another cat!

Me: It’s the Male (The Tom)

Dani: Dammit! We want the Calico! Make it go away!

This is so unexpected. We rarely see the Tom, he is the most elusive/skittish and wasn’t even considering him a target.

Me: He’s circling the trap. Why don’t we want the Tom? He’s half the “problem”.

Dani: we don’t have room for all these cats.

Me: We’ll stack ‘em if we have to

We couldn’t believe how successful this was. We were worried we wouldn’t get the adolescents, much less the adults. We were debating what to do with the Tom but He decided the issue for us.

Me: He’s in the trap. We gotta go with it.

Dani: OK. But if we get him he’s going to be a handful

Me: He’s eating the food….dammit! He’s eating, got one paw beyond the spring release but the rest of his body isn’t moving. He might eat the whole thing and not spring the trap!

Such amateurs. We watched him eat for what seemed like too long. Then, he moved “wrong”

Me: He’s trapped! Gimmee the towel!

I run down there to see one pissed off beast from hell. I double-check the backdoor of the trap to make sure it’s secure. It is but I’m still nervous. The thing looks near 15lbs and is as pissed as a trapped wild cat can be. All I can think about is if it gets loose in the car then we might not survive. It’s thrashing around, paws reaching out past the cage. On occasion it bites the cage. Soon, the Toms paws are bloody from its rage. Reluctantly, I bring the beast in and set our fourth trap. We want the Calico.

We wait about a half hour but nothing happens. We need to get the cats to the clinic between 815 and 900 so we decide to leave the set trap and come back. We’re worried about fitting in 3 of these traps into my Nissan Sentra anyway. I put the back seat down and load the Tom first. I jam him in between my seat and the back of the trunk. It’s an extra precaution to make sure he can’t get out. We then load the two young ones, cover all the cages and head out. We are near the 1300 block of Georgia Avenue and need to get to the 7100 block. It’s @730. We are expecting some morning traffic and some very upset kitties.

Just to be safe – I tell Dani that no matter what, if a cat gets out of its cage while we are driving then we bail, regardless of anything else.

They are silent the whole way. Must be shock. How nice for us. Would be perfect except for the smell of canned cat food filling the air. Ugh. I think we both fought nausea the entire way.

We get to the clinic around 8. We are first followed quickly by two more people. A not so happy women helps us process. The Alley Cat tech won’t arrive for another 15 minutes so a Humane person helps us. Again, a very unhappy Humane person. A not so helpful Humane person. Probably underpaid and under appreciated but still. I’m on @4 hours of sleep, Dani maybe 3. Tic-Tac-Toe could confuse me right now.

Then she drops the bomb: Tells us they’ll be ready at 5 and we’ll need to pick them up then, keep them in the cage for @24hours for recovery at our place and then release them.


We were told they would keep them for up to 36 hours then we could release them right after pick up. Assholes. OK. I’m being harsh. Maybe they’re hoping to cut costs but we live deep in the city and have a cat of our own cat that would not, under any circumstances, understand. Our cat was once feral/stray. It would rather eat a kitty than share its turf, caged or not, capisce?

So we nod in agreement and leave with no intention of picking them up today. Or if we do then we release them today. No recovery in a “safe house”. Under this program they only kill if they discover the animal could not survive release. So we aren’t worried about telling them when we’ll pick up the cats.

She also tells us if we caught the Calico then we have to wait until the next day to bring her in! Damn it! We want to turn in our keys and get our check from the settlement. We drive back to the trapping field and find an empty trap. We’re kind of relieved. Guess we’ll trap without the convenience of the old apt. We plan to try again tomorrow at the crack of dawn. We put the trap into our car and head home.

At home we find our Kitty in peril.

Kitty Peril

As soon as we get home Dani notices Annie is “not right”. And she’s right. On October 10/14 (Saturday), we had to take Annie to the DC Vet ER. It was around 5PM that she started to exhibit some weird behavior – trying to crap (or so we thought) everywhere and moaning. She would squat in her litter box and tense up. For too long. Then leave and find some corner to try and go. Then she vomited so out the door we went. Arriving at 815PM. I think we only waited 45 minutes. Much better than a human ER. Anyway she had a bladder infection. She was trying to pee, not poo. She also has a over active Thyroid and a heart murmur. The murmur may be secondary to the thyroid issue. They gave us some kitty scripts and we were gone. She responded almost immediately to the drugs.

Fast Forward to Monday, 10/23 and she is exhibiting the same symptoms. She’s done with her meds so we need to take her back. The ER seems quite busy, no one returns our call so Dani calls her regular vet and they squeeze us in for 11AM. Out the door at 1030AM with Annie. At this place, they want us to leave her for a while and take x-rays. Fine. They call us shortly after because the x-rays reveal some serious damage to her hip/thigh bones.

Dani: Yes. I got her as a stray. She had x-rays at your office in 2003, it should be on record. The last Dr thought she was either hit by a car or was severly abused before I got her.


Dani: I don’t know what it’s from. I don’t know how old she is. I got her as a stray.

Dani hates when she sees a new Doctor. It’s obvious they’re thinking Dani might have abused the Annie and I guess they need to explore that but it still sucks.

Around 4PM We go to pick her up. The hospital is on P St, NW. just off of Dupont Circle. I got find Parking. I drop her off and circle twice with no luck. It’s the beginning of Rush Hour/s so street parking is forbidden on P. I decide to stop in front and put my hazards on, car in gear and running. I don’t even see the fucking Meter Nazi until she slaps a ticket on my hood. Fucking Assholes! Snuck up from behind. I get out and say thanks and some other words. Arguing is pointless once the ticket is generated, its all computerized. It’s cold, my cars running and I’m in front of the animal hospital. Could she not just tell me to move on? No, that would be the decent thing to do. They wonder why they’re not liked.


Luckily, I’ve got time to fight it, maybe at least get it reduced.

I’ve got a ticket so might as well park there for real and head in. Just in time for Dani to be finishing up. Home we go but Dani is “not right”.

Kitty has an enlarged Lymph node in her Lung and an enlarged Liver. Her Kidneys may be failing. We’ll know more Later. Meantime, two vet visits, drugs, future radiologist diagnostic and $100 Parking fine has cost us nearly $1000. And Dani is convinced, I’m sure, that she needs to make The Decision regarding Annie. Not from cost, for those of you who might not know my Wife, but from medical issues that will only get worse and the quality of Life deteriates. She Loves that cat more than anything but she won’t let her suffer needlessly.

And we are supposed to go camping this weekend with nearly 2 dozen people from thebackpacker.com. I’ve met a few of them and was so looking forward to meeting more. And I so needed to get out before winter ends my 3 season backpacking. I’ve had a string of trip cancellations in the last year and a half and each one I cancel hurts me more. It’s like bad Cabin fever, depression and all that fun stuff. Dani knows this. But money and looming Decision makes this trip unlikely. Going away knowing this might be her last week is just wrong. Dani might be willing to go on this trip for my sake but I certainly can not take her from what may be Annie’s last week.

‘Scuse me, Annie’s vomiting froth right now. Okay. She’s in my lap and purring. She just wanted attention. Whenever Kitty what’s to be in one of our laps (which is whenever a lap is formed), she comes up to you, sits upright, and lightly claws your knee without scratching. It’s an impressive display of control. So, to continue, we stay home and hope the decision is not needed. I certainly will have no regrets, capisce?

Tuesday 10/24

Dani wakes me at 530. ugh. Out the door by 6ish to set the 4th trap for that Hussy. We set it and return home. About 745 we head back. No hussy. The food in the front of the trip plate, just inside the trap, is untouched. Crap. Maybe she’s trying to keep her kittens warm? I think it dropped under 40 overnight. She might have been “almost trapped” before. They say once a cat is trapped or escapes a trap attempt it will never fall for it again.

We close the trap and put the food in a dish on the ground. We don’t want to trap her after we get to the clinic and then have to keep her in it overnight. Off to the clinic to pick up her family. We get there, throw them in the car and head back to our old apt. Once again, not a peep or a movement from them in the car. From these inactions I make an erroneous assumption and bring them up to the yard from the car without the towels covering the cage. The Tom flips out worst than when we first caught him. He thrashes back and forth in his tiny cage. The power of his hits are impressive. I almost believe he could break out if given the time. He looks up at me as Dani frantically opens the back door, risking her fingers. His nose is bloodied from the thrashing. I’m actually worried that he might attack once out.

He’s out and in one bound is on top of our neighbors 6-6.5 ft fence and out of sight. I would say he was gone in 1-2 seconds. Corky and Socks are freaked out but not as bad. They head towards the roof of the neighbors car port. Dani fills two bowls with canned cat food and Socks struts nonchalantly back to the yard for some eats.

I heard we would still be friends. It was nice to be reassured.

*NOTE* - I don't have pictures of the Tom. He was way too pissed of. But he looked just like the black and white except his paws and nose was bloody from trying to bust out. #&%!$er scared the #&%!$ out of us.

The Horrible Truth About Their Names

We had to name the Colony: Belmont

Black Adolescent with white lower legs/white chest: “Socks”

The all Black Adolescent: “Corky”

We had to name the Colony for the clinic program. We had to name the kittens but we didn’t want to get to close. Hence the lame name “socks”. Corky just came to me. She seemed a little slow, her eyes set a little too close together…..remember that show Life Goes On? Yes, I’m a horrible person and I’m going to Hell.

But I’ve got a Kitty in my lap, purring and pawing my left arm so I’ll stop typing and pet her. If I stop typing and raise my hand from the keyboard but don’t pet her then she’ll form a scoop with her paw and drag my hand to her chin that she just made available by lifting her head. How cool is that?

Kitty says: Life is Goooooooooood!

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kitty enjoying some of my whiskey on our ex-futon at our old apartment

I agree with Kitty


The Settlement [L]

Have I discussed this? Our Lawyer settled our dispute with the new landlord of our old building. We get out within 30 days (by 10/25) and we owe nothing. We take the deal, of course. So we get back all our rent that we put into escrow minus our lawyer fees. She was more than generous with us. I think she felt bad. On the itemized list was .5 hours for consultation. That was well under the actual time. She took about a 4th of our escrow money. So you could say our settlement was 3/4ths of a year rent free living. Not so bad considering we had no legal standing. To reiterate: in DC you have to show cause to evict a tenant. Otherwise you pay to get them out. The stubborn ones anyway, and that’s what we were going for. Often it’s in the high 5-figure area. But the new owner only owned that one building in DC, a 4 unit building. If it was a 5 unit building, or if he owned more than one building, then we could have stuck it out. But the one “loophole” (from a tenant view) allows single building, less than 5 unit owners pretty much free will to do as they want. It’s kind of understandable, they want to protect the small businessperson. But it sucked for us.

We tell our Lawyer that we are going to keep the keys for a while in hopes of catching the feral cats. Once we turn in the keys we get the check.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I'm Back. Verizon Sucks! [L]

Hello Everybody! I'm trying to catch up but Verizon didn't make it easy!

All We wanted Was To Transfer Our Service.

This is a tale of complete incompetence, starting in September and ending Yesterday. This tale encompasses screw ups on the National and Regional Level. Some of this is second hand from Dani. In the final days we often handed off the call to the supervisor out of frustration. In fact, I think we both talked to just about every one.

And Let me clarify one more thing: We could have gone to WiFi as soon as we moved. Two things made us hesitate: 1) The laptop is not ours and we would have to buy an adapter. B) We did not want to pay a penalty fee (~$100 maybe?) to end our DSL contract early.

Disconnect Verizon landline. We have two Sprint cells and don't really use the landline. They set up the number as a “Dry Loop” for our DSL and assure us it will be a seamless. Transfer. I won’t go into details on that but it didn’t seem “seamless” to us.

Inform Verizon we are moving. Need DSL transferred to new apt (apt address provided.

We are Informed we will have service no later than October 2nd (from billing) and the transfer will be "seamless".

After that deadline passes we call. Told they can’t hook us up until October 12th. They need to “test the line”. Seems someone made a mistake somewhere. We are slightly annoyed. They give us our new dry loop number.

October 10th
Dani Receives an email stating DSL up. Mistake. Order still “pending” according to tech support.

October 11th
Receives an automated phone call that DSL is up. Ignored

October 12th
No DSL. Call to tech support, run tests. Their system show we have DSL. I assure them we do not. Our modem DSL light is flashing green and we have no internet light. Troubleshooting on my end shows everything is connected properly but we are not connecting to any network. I assume their diagnostics say something similar, minus the connectivity. Of course I learn quickly that assuming anything like this with Verizon is a mistake. They tell us a tech will call us on the 13th

October 13th
Miss call from local tech. The caller leaves a message to call the 1-800 number. I immediately call back. Tech support confused. Sees that we have two accounts: The old number & the new number. Tells me I have to call Billing and straighten it out. In the meantime since I missed the call they have to start a new “ticket” and I have to call back after 6PM to start the process all over. I respond: 'WTF?'. he says its 'Corporate Policy'.

Nice to know I should take my phone to the crapper with me.

I reply in a not so pleasant tone:

‘We will not start the process from scratch. This is Bull#&%!$. We could get WiFi and certainly refuse payment for Verizon internet this month since we haven’t had access and we can certainly refuse to pay any early disconnect penalty since you can’t provide us with the service. And I’ll be sure to send all this info to the BBB. Let me speak to your supervisor’

After 15 minutes or so on hold I get a supervisor. I relay all the above History and repeat my my little speech. I then add: ‘I’m the nice one. My Wife is gonna be Livid when she gets home.’ My tone seems to be much worse. He asks me if anyone had discussed the possibility that a tech would have to come to our house and when I could time would be. I said no. nor did anyone tell us that we needed to answer the phone. Seems something was incorrect on the “Ticket”

#&%!$ing incompetence on every level.

All he can do is send a ticket ASAP but we probably won’t be seeing anyone today since their schedules are probably already set and the techs are on the road. He’ll send the ticket for Saturday but he’s not sure that our regional office works on Saturday.

Great. Thanks. He then says what becomes an infuriating line to hear from them: "Is there anything else I can help you with?"

Saturday, we hear nothing. We aren’t surprised.

October 16th
Verizon calls in the Morning to inform me someone will be stopping in before 7PM. This is the important call I missed on Friday? They call me to tell me someone will be coming by? They need to hear my #&%!$ing voice the day the work is scheduled? What kind of #&%!$ing bull#&%!$ is that??????

Of course, No one shows up. After 7PM Dani calls verizon to ask: What the #&%!$?”. Verizon informs us the tech who was scheduled to stop by was calling the dry loop number all day trying to get a hold of us.

Calling the dry loop number? How incompetent is that? They’ve called my cell number twice to set up a visit and the tech calls the dry loop number? All day, mind you. Call the number and you get an automated message saying the number isn’t in service. Complete moron.

Dani asks to speak to the Supervisor. After waiting for about 10 minutes she gets disconnected. I call back and wait. I get connected and go through the spiel again. But I tell him we will discontinue service. Then Dani takes over.

Good Cop Bad Cop

Complete incompetence.

The Supervisor assures Dani 3 times that we will have service on Tuesday, October 17th. He will Flag the ticket. I’m so done but Dani wants to try.

October 17th.
I get a call from Verizon dispatch supervisor: ‘Due to inclement weather and a problem with our system your ticket was misplaced and a tech will not be out today. Would tomorrow be acceptable?’

Me: No

Her: What time this week would be acceptable?

Me: No time is acceptable

Her: How about Saturday?

Me: I’m sorry, you don’t understand. I’m done with your incompetence. One of your techs tries to get a hold of us through our dry loop number and now you screw up another ticket that was flagged? What kind of morons work for you? I want a tech here today or we cancel our service.

Moron: I understand and am sorry, Sir, but I can’t guarantee a tech for today.

Me: That’s a surprise. Then I want to cancel.

Dani: Give me the phone.

Dani: Ma’am, we were assured by a supervisor that a tech would be here today. The ticket was flagged.

Moron: I understand. But as I explained to your Husband, Blah blah blah.

Dani: Well then I agree with my Husband, you’re all completely incompetent. I wish to cancel my Service.

Moron: I’ll transfer you to Billing.

Dani gets on the phone with billing and tells our story for the umpteenth time. Billing is looking at our records and is “appalled”. She credits our account 3 months and transfers us to Customer Solutions.

Customer “Solutions”?

Customer Solutions is looking at our record, including, I believe, all the phone calls and is quite unhappy. She puts Dani on hold while she contacts our local Tech “Support”. She gets back telling us she had to go through 3 supervisors before one told her: ‘The Ticket is open. Someone will be there today’. She seemed a bit frustrated, also.

She makes us a deal. If someone doesn’t stop by today we can cancel our service tomorrow and they will waive the penalty fee for ending the contract early. What the Hell. We’ve got a couple of hours to go and we don’t need to hold our breaths. Fine.

The Hours pass and nothing happens, as expected.

October 18th. 0827
Someone calls Dani’s number. I ignore it but am hopeful because at this point it’s comical. Dani checks her voicemail on speaker phone.

You might be able to guess who called but I’ll bet anything you’ll never guess what the message said……..

Are you ready?

Here goes:

‘Welcome to Verizon DSL Service. We hope you received your Kit. If you have any questions feel free to call us at 1-800-whatever.’

ROFLMFAO! No #&%!$ing joke! Or maybe it was? Anyway, later that day Dani completed the cut. At Noon I bought a wireless adapter.

We have all the names and employ ID’s of the Supervisors we talked to. We have confirmation numbers for our credit and the waiver for the cancellation fee.

Verizon will be getting some mail from us. Along with a record of our minutes on the phone with them. Ever been on hold waiting for a Supervisor? I think they have a minimum time to keep you on hold in hopes of making you go away. God Bless speaker phone! And Whiskey! Still, I lost track of how many times we did that. Suffice to say, we are done with them.

All we wanted was a transfer of our service.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I Kicked Mono's Ass!/Goodbye For Now [L]

Mono Shmono?
OK. Mono sucked ass but I think I beat it early. I first noticed symptoms on Monday, 9/4. Sore throat and fatigue being the big two. And fever. By friday, 9/22 my sore throat was gone. That's 2 weeks and 4 days? I've heard 6 weeks for symptoms to go away. Man, that would really suck. I hated swallowing. I mean, it really sucked. I had a hellish time staying hydrated. Who wants to drink water when every swallow hurts? I learned to not swallow unless I really needed to. Think about it. Sometimes you just swallow.

Or has everyone had Mono? For those that haven't. You're frikken Lucky. Is this odd coming from someone who just beat Cancer? Perhaps. Dani says I was more miserable after chemo and I trust her. But Mono sucked. I had no desire for anything those 2 weeks and 4 days. All I wanted to do was sleep and not feel pain when swallowing. That was it. Period. I slept 12-18 hours/day. I would wake up semi-delusional. Unrested. I was kind of freaked out that I wanted nothing else that whole time. It was........unique in my experiences. And Frightening. I've never been so knocked out for so long. Although it did make me realize one thing: I wasn't an alcoholic. I drank nothing in that time period and didn't miss it a bit. I was starting to worry about my consumption level until then. ;) :D

On Monday I go see the Doc and get some blood work done. Maybe they'll give me the all clear? If I beat it in under 3 weeks then I must say, my immune system kicks ass! But I couldn't do it without Dani's care. God bless her. Again, I get sick and she just takes over. Giving me the best chance there is to a speedy recovery. Of course once I was diagnosed with mono we put kissing on hold. I haven't really kissed my wife in weeks. That really sucks ass. On occassion we slip up. But God forbid she gets it. We even got another tube of toothpaste so no mixing would occur.

On another front - just before I was diagnosed with mono we went out to dinner with Eric & Lori. I knew I was ill at that point but they invited us to Nora's. High end all Organic Restaurant in DC. Couldn't say no. At one point, I reluctantly(?) tried Eric's Brandy. We told them I had something but they said 'go ahead, the alcohol will kill anything.' So far, they are "clean". But I feel so fucking guilty. Mono, EBV, can lie dormant. I knew better, even though I wasn't sure what I had. You never know what you have. I think that is the moral of the story. If they come done with EBV then it's all my fault. That sucks ass. I'd rather have EBV for months then give it to someone b/c I was stupid. Especially them. They would do anything for us.

It's 1:30AM EDT. Our Movers come at 8AM. Since I have Mono we thought this was best. Besides all our friends being out of town........until my Dr. says I'm clean, I have Mono. One has to worry about Liver/Spleen rupture during Mono. No contact sports, NO lifting. If friends helped us move I would feel compelled to help. I really need my Liver. One can live without a spleen but it really is in your best interest to keep it. Plus any ruptured organ can be a kind of life threatening situation. We pay Movers and I won't feel compelled to help them.

But we are losing our internet. Verizon sucks ass anyway so no big deal. We have WiFi but no card. Yet. We need to buy a card. Until then, no internet. But the place is really nice. It's a basement apartment but that doesn't do it justice. The back is almost at ground level. The windows give it almost as much sunlight as our current fully ground level apartment does. And overall, it's nicer than our current apartment. It's deeper in the 'hood but way nicer. It's further away from all the fugly/condo/gentrification shit.

And it's ours. This place was Dani's before I moved in. And it's kind of sad. I proposed to Dani in this apartment. And we got rid of the futon she was on when I proposed. But nothing physical lasts forever. And there are a lot of bad vibes associated with this place. So tomorrow we start our lives again, in our place that we picked out together. I'm very excited and so is she.

So, until we have an internet connection: Peace.