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Tuesday, February 28, 2006 
one thing i hope to do a lot more of in the coming days/weeks/months is is web work: specifically design, but a bit of site-building as well. frankly, i just really enjoy creating CSS templates and such. furthermore, having created a few crisp designs will look good on my resume, especially if i want to get some kind of job working online.

first up, i have a brand new design for awia news! gone is old "static" background, which was kind of cool but—let's face it—extremely distracting. this new design has no animation. but it does incorporate a couple new tricks i've been playing around with, such as a "false" second background and headers that jut out from the margins. it arguably still looks a little busy at 800x600, but you shouldn't browse at 800x600 anyway if you can avoid it... once i get out of this office, i won't go back to 800x600 browsing except for testing purposes.

comments? complaints? bugs? i was having some fairly bizarre bugs in IE at first, but i believe they've been fixed, at least in IE6.

in the coming hours/days i will update the other AWIA pages to comply to this new design, or some variation of it. it's also likely the design will get at least a couple more tweaks before i'm through, so don't be surprised if things start changing unexpectedly.

after that's finished, there are other pages to build or redesign, like badtaste4life (the design has been finished for awhile, but there isn't much actual content yet), and virago has suggested i could redesign the AIDS african awareness campaign website that she administers. maybe i'll do something for ground zero, the tattoo parlor where bobby vomit works. i'm still pretty satisfied with the design for my own blog (the one you're reading), so redesigning that is low priority and probably won't happen unless i come up with something i really love. i would happily create a new design for the bobby vomit blawg, though (if bobby is interested). it's basically the same design as this one (but with louder colors), and i'd rather show a bit of variety, a bit of versatility, rather than have a bunch of designs that are largely the same.

Monday, February 27, 2006 
lucas oil stadium?
local media is reporting that lucas oil has purchased the naming rights for the new football stadium being built in indianapolis. it's a frightfully un-aesthetic namem but if lucas is spending $120 million for it, i guess calling it "lucas stadium" for short won't be too bad. (if you're feeling casual, you can just call it "lucas" or "luke".)

in january i made some snarky comments about how much return lucas oil really gets for providing the "official oil products" for the colts. but buying the naming rights for the stadium is a different matter. lucas will become a de facto househould name, at least in the region. people might not know anything about the company (or even what lucas does), but they'll know the name lucas. is that name recognition worth $120 million?

on fox 59 (no link; no story on the site now), russ mcquaid quipped that indianapolis had been a pioneer in selling stadium naming rights. in terms of football, he'd be right, as apparently the RCA dome was the very first NFL stadium with a corporate naming rights deal in 1994, though phoenix did sell the naming rights to its NBA stadium 5 years earlier.

i'm not a big fan of selling the names of public places to corporate sponsors, but i suppose it's a little less egregious when the rights are sold before the place is even built, as opposed to renaming a space that had stood with a perfectly good name for years.

indianapolis smoking ban
indyscribe reminds us that the indianapolis smoking ban goes into effect march 1... that's wednesday!

  • All enclosed areas within places of employment.
  • Elevators, health care facilities, laundromats and licensed child care and adult day care facilities.
  • Restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways and other common-use areas.
  • Polling places, shopping malls and sports arenas.
  • Lobbies, hallways and enclosed areas in common areas in apartment buildings, condominiums, trailer parks, retirement facilities, nursing homes and other multiple-unit residential facilities.
  • Public transportation facilities, including, but not limited to, buses and taxicabs and ticket, boarding and waiting areas of public transit depots.
  • All vehicles and enclosed areas of buildings owned, leased or operated by the city or the county.

  • Private residences, except when used as a licensed child care, adult day care or health care facility.
  • Family-owned and operated businesses and offices in which all employees are related to the owner, but only if the businesses or offices are not open to the public.
  • Retail tobacco stores, tobacco bars and bowling alleys.
  • Any vehicle used by an employee while in the service of an employer when the vehicle is occupied only by the employee.
  • Any bar or tavern that:
    • Does not allow customers under eighteen (18) years of age to enter;
    • Does not employ any person under eighteen (18) years of age; and
    • Is not physically located within a business otherwise required to be smoke free.
  • Any "club" or "fraternal club" that:
    • Is exempt from federal income taxation;
    • Holds a beer, liquor or wine retailer's permit under the state’s law; and
    • Provides food or alcoholic beverages only to its bona fide members and their guests.

though i am currently a smoker, i'm not sure this ban will affect me very much. it's been many months since i had a cigarette in a restaurant (my girlfriend wouldn't allow it, and i can usually wait until the meal is finished and we've left, except in situations where we're sitting in the restaurant for hours on end. i have difficulty sitting still for more than 2 hours in a stretch). and the ban was watered down enough that it doesn't outright ban smoking in bars (not that i go to bars all that often when i'm not performing or attending a show, but when you're a smoker it's damned hard not to smoke when you drink) or outside (i don't care how good the health arguments are; banning outdoor smoking strikes me as absurd).

and honestly, on the smoking front, getting laid off could be a good thing. i don't particularly want to be a smoker, but i've never had the motivation to try to quit, because i know it's very difficult. instead i've been gradually cutting back. when i'm at home or someplace like virago's apartment where i need to step outside to smoke, i can easily go a couple hours without a cigarette, even 3 to 4 hours if things aren't too stressful. but here at the office, i have scheduled my whole workday around cigarette breaks. i don't even crave the nicotine as much as i crave (and have come to expect) the regular breaks to get away from my desk and go outside. i've been addicted the the workplace diversion. now that i'm leaving (my last actual day in-office is thursday), that routine will be very easy to break. i'm still not ready to actually quit (i probably have a lot of stress ahead in the coming months), but i'll be in better shape to quit when i'm ready, and one of the primary factors that has made me hesitant to try quitting has been removed.

anyway, if you live in the indy area and you just love smoking in restaurants or at bus stops, you only have a couple more days to enjoy your vice. if you're one of those people who so hates smoke that you rarely go out to eat, maybe you should go out to dinner on wednesday to celebrate.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 
laid off!
2005 was a sucky year for the computer publishing industry. people need information about how to run their computers, but they don't really buy computer books anymore. from what i understand, almost all companies doing business in the computer publishing market took a loss in 2005, some worse than others. the industry badly needs to adapt to new methods of content delivery.

and so far 2006 hasn't been a very good year for me personally, either. my cat died at the end of january, and now, as of today, i've been officially laid off.

there had been rumors of reorg and layoffs for awhile (probably since last year's numbers came in), and then today we received an email about "required meetings" that would happen today at 12:30. same-day notice of mandatory meetings is a very bad sign—that's how they announced the last round of layoffs a few years back—so we had an idea what was coming.

i went to my designated meeting in room 2253 and i pretty much knew what would happen before the meeting even began. it was obvious (at least to me) from who was in the room. normally for large meetings which are broken across multiple rooms, entire departments go to the same meeting. but in my meeting, there were only 4 people from my dept (the three copy editors and one indexer, the indexer who was the most recent hire), and a few different people from other departments. considering this odd distribution, i concluded that they had broken us down, american idol style, into "yes" rooms and "no" rooms, and that i was clearly in a "no" room.

fortunately, my soon-to-be-ex-employer is european-owned and thus relatively progressive in terms of benefits; after my employment officially ends on march 31, i get a few months' severance, and they've also contracted for a month with an outplacement service... i go in for my first day of outplacement counseling on friday morning.

in a way i'm kind of relieved. the job hadn't excited me for awhile, but between that and my various art projects i didn't have time to look for other employment. being laid off gives me the opportunity to refocus my career and look for something new. maybe i'll find something really cool.

Monday, February 20, 2006 
lazy sunday to lazy muncie
a month or so ago, someone posted an SNL rap skit called "lazy sunday" to a viral video site called youtube. the video spread like wildfire across the net. i never saw it myself, because i couldn't get it to work in firefox.

apparently it was funny because a lot of people enjoyed it, and a couple "answer track" videos were even made, one for the west coast (which i have also not seen) and another fantastic one called lazy muncie, representing the midwest side straight outta muncie indiana. that one i have seen, and it's a hilarious must-see if you're familiar with the muncie area. if you're not from the area, you'll probably still recognize the icons of "small city" life.

from here you'd expect it to go the way of the typical internet meme and slowly die (though a smaller number of people will continue to "discover" it well into the future). but then things get weird. from boingboing:

A source at YouTube informs BoingBoing that NBC recently sent the user-submitted video hosting site a nastygram over the Saturday Night Live "Lazy Sunday: Chronicles of Narnia" video.

That's right -- NBC's lawyers are beating YouTube with a DMCA stick because the viral content distributor helped facilitate NBC's biggest viral hit, ever.

YouTube's blog states, "We know how popular that video is but YouTube respects the rights of copyright holders. You can still watch SNL's Lazy Sunday video for free on NBC's website."

But only Windows users can access the video on -- the site in general is kinda buggy for non-Windows users. And the iTunes download costs $2 (see reader comments). Also, it took NBC a while to get the video there in the first place, and when the internet loves your work, it doesn't wait. That's why NBC should be sending flowers and chocolates to YouTube, not love notes from lawyers.

the video wouldn't be popular if not for youtube and sites like it. but now that it is, nbc wants to take it away from those sites and force people to go to "authorized" sources (which are either broken or charge money). this will only result in fewer people getting to see the video in the future, so not only is the peacock biting the hand that feeds it, it's also cutting off its beak to spite its face.

the boingboing post also includes a link to the lazy sunday video on google video, and if it still works (if nbc hasn't gotten to them too), i will watch it there immediately.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 
shot through the heart, and you're to blame
the idea that the man cheney shot was not hurt very badly is now pretty clearly false. says the AP:

Texas - The 78-year-old lawyer wounded by Vice President
Dick Cheney in a hunting accident suffered a mild heart attack Tuesday after a shotgun pellet in his chest traveled to his heart, hospital officials said.

Harry Whittington was immediately moved back to the intensive care unit and will be watched for a week to make sure more of the metal pellets do not reach other vital organs. He was reported in stable condition.

Whittington suffered a "silent heart attack" — obstructed blood flow, but without the classic heart-attack symptoms of pain and pressure, according to doctors at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial.

The doctors said they decided to treat the situation conservatively and leave the pellet alone rather than operate to remove it. They said they are highly optimistic Whittington will recover and live a healthy life with the pellet in him.

he has a piece of metal in his heart? maybe now whittington will become iron man!

but seriously, i hope he recovers. a lot of unanswered questions remain about the extent of his injuries.

update: barbinMD has a diary on dkos that totally shreds katharine armstrong's statements to the press. apparently armstrong has contradicted herself quite a bit, and according to one version of her story, she wasn't even an eyewitness to the shooting. we might never know what actually happened, but we do know not to put much faith in the details armstrong has offered up.

also, cheney has finally decided to speak publicly about this story (only 4 days after the shooting), in a prerecorded, exclusive "press conference" tonight at 6pm. and the company that'll bring it to you? fox news.

update: although the actual interview won't air for a few more hours, fox has a news story up with a couple brief quotes. while i imagine the interview will be a whitewash to at least some extent, to his credit, cheney admits fault in the incident:

Earlier this week, White House spokesman Scott McClellan implied that Whittington did not follow hunting protocol. On Wednesday, the vice president made clear that he took all the blame.

"It was not Harry's fault," he said. "You cannot blame anybody else."

Monday, February 13, 2006 
more fun than killing a barrel of monkeys
last summer and again month, a story circulated about the practice of canned hunting in indiana. basically, a "preserve" raises animals in an enclosed area of a few dozen to a couple hundred acres, and "hunters" pay big bucks to go kill some stuff there inside an enclosed area (quotes used due to orwellian language: these places do the exact opposite of "preserving"). "wild" animals are then released into the "preserve", essentially caged with nowhere to run, and these "sportsmen" go about gleefully shooting them all. it's much like hunting in your back yard...if your back yard is fenced in and you have filled it up with gentle, domesticated creatures that don't understand that they should run away from humans holding rifles.

indiana DNR director kyle hupfer wants to shut down the canned hunting grounds, which are virtually unanimously condemned by real hunters and sportsmen, who think they are a travesty. when this was announced last month, it drew a lot of attention from hoosier bloggers who were a bit stunned by the practice, which draws to mind the old phrase "easier than shooting fish in a barrel"... only here we're dealing with birds and deer, and the barrel is a little bit larger.

unfortunately, some people in the legislature don't see eye-to-eye with hupfer and want the hoosier canned hunting to continue. in fact the indiana house has already passed a bill that would undo the ban for the next seven years. today's TDW points us to an editorial in the south bend tribune:

The director, new on the job, needed to respond to the disturbing events in 2004 near Peru, when canned hunt operator Russell Bellar pled guilty to three counts of conspiracy to violate food and drug laws. In Bellar's trial, 60 witnesses, some of them celebrities, described how they paid thousands of dollars to shoot trapped, drugged trophy bucks they had selected from a catalog.

Hupfer, rather than judge the industry by the Bellar case, conducted hearings around the state and based his decision on extensive information-gathering. One concern that he addressed directly was the possible health consequences of introducing exotic species into the state, such as wild boar, sheep, elk and zebra, and the risk that they could introduce chronic wasting disease into the native deer population.

the tribune doesn't ask this directly, but the obvious question is what kind of sicko would want to shoot caged animals?

now we know the answer: sickos like dick cheney and his friends.

by now you've likely heard the story from sunday about how vp cheney shot another hunter during a hunting trip over the weekend. and perhaps you thought that the story would amount to little more than fodder for late-night talk show hosts (and i'm sure leno, conan, jon stewart, and the gang will have plenty of good ones about this in the coming days). but, like almost all stories involving the bush administration, the story gets more unsettling the more facts you turn up.

jane hamsher points out that cheney is known for going on canned hunting trips. but was this particular trip a canned hunting trip?

this 1999 piece from the corpus christi caller times has tobin armstrong, former owner of the armstrong ranch, proudly declare that he would not slice up his cattle ranch into canned hunting parcels during his lifetime, though even then he had no problem with letting high-profile hunters like the bush family hunt on his land. in 1998 tobin was bragging that he never leased out his ranch "on anything but a limited basis." see, tobin never had a problem with canned hunting per se... he just didn't want to give up his cattle ranching business. (we see that the armstrong ranch does have high fences, which makes it sound fishy to me.)

however tobin's lifetime is now over—he passed away last fall—and the ranch is now run by his daughter, katharine armstrong. there's no word on whether katharine will go against her father's wishes and shatter the ranch into smaller hunting parcels, but the evidence does suggest that she doesn't think hunting inside a big fence is a big deal. (crappy link to DOC file; html version here)

The Private Lands Advisory Board (PLAB) met on October 19th at the newly completed Canyon of the Eagles. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss deer permits among TPWD and private consultant wildlife biologists, TPW Commissioners, landowners and land managers. Much of the discussion was about public perception of special permits and hunting behind a high fence as a canned hunt. Executive Director, John Jefferson, represented the Chapter at the meeting and reported that the public sees a high fence as confinement, and has little or no concept of acreage. This segment of the population was growing exponentially, resulting in an image problem. There was a lack of understanding about the reality of hunting within high-fenced lands.

bush appointed katharine to the TPWD (texas parks and wildlife divisions) when he was governor. she is now chair of the commission.

canned hunting is technically illegal in texas, but the actual definition only includes "African or Asiatic lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah, hyena, bear, elephant, wolf, or rhinoceros, or any subspecies or hybrid of these animals". the facilities that indiana is trying to shut down would not qualify as canned hunting under this definition. hell, you could put a bird in a cage and kill it by poking it with a sharp stick, and it would not qualify as a canned hunt under the texas definition. doesn't seem like a very good definition to me.

really, the question of whether this was a canned hunting trip or not is a bit of a sidenote. if it was, the whole story looks a bit slimier, but even if it wasn't, there are other, more serious questions to be thinking about.

for one thing, the shooting happened on saturday, but the story didn't hit the media until sunday. what's up with that? if it were just a simple, innocent hunting accident that cheney couldn't have prevented, which is how they're trying to spin it, then why wait 18 hours before announcing it had happened? did they actually think the story wouldn't get out? now that the story is out, that 18-hour delay starts to look suspiciously like a cover-up. and as we keep learning over and over (so why can't they?), the appearance of a cover-up is what gets you in trouble, even if there is no cover-up. so did the supposedly brilliant bush PR machine simply screw up (again), or were they actually trying to cover something up? and if it takes this long for bad news involving cheney to get out, how long would it take if something bad were to happen to him, say if he had a(nother) devastating heart attack?

furhtermore, the version of events that has been released makes zero sense. we are meant to believe a fantastical tale in which cheney is completely innocent, the victim is totally guilty, and that a man who was admitted to intensive care for his injuries (and remains there now) was hardly injured at all. as they say, that dog don't hunt. redhedd and the readers at firedoglake dig into this and conclude that whittington (the victim) is much more badly injured than anyone is letting on, and that cheney violated some major rules of hunting safety.

update: AP:

Vice President
Dick Cheney has been given a warning citation for breaking Texas hunting law by failing to buy a $7 stamp allowing him to shoot upland game birds.

The warning came from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department after it investigated Cheney's accidental shooting of a fellow quail hunter Saturday on the private Armstrong Ranch in the south part of the state.

The department found the accident was caused by a "hunter's judgment factor" when Cheney sprayed another hunter while aiming at flying birds.

in other words, it's cheney's fault.

Whittington was in stable condition at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and was moved from intensive care to a "step-down unit" Monday. Doctors decided to leave several birdshot pellets lodged in his skin rather than try to remove them.

Katharine Armstrong, owner of the ranch where the shooting occurred, said it happened toward the end of the hunt, when it was still sunny but as darkness was encroaching and they were preparing to go inside. She said Whittington made a mistake by not announcing that he had walked up to rejoin the hunting line, and Cheney didn't see him as he tried to down a bird.

the idea that whittington should've come out of the brush yelling "olly olly oxen free" is absurd. they were hunting small birds. if you wander around yelling like a buffoon, the birds will get spooked and fly off. cheney messed up by not paying attention to where he was aiming, and ended up shooting a man in the face. those are not the actions of someone who's "safety conscious".

Friday, February 10, 2006 
had by hippy art

my mom baked virago a lovely cake for her birthday, and also provided candles, including "happy birthday" candles (letter-shaped candles with just the right letters to spell "happy birthday").

we thought an anagram might be more interesting.

happy birthday virago!
i'm taking a vacation day so virago & i can hang out for her birthday. she wants to go out for a nice sushi dinner; we'll probably go to asaka. the restaurant is much better than the website, though i haven't been there in a couple years. maybe we'll go do some other fun stuff with our day off, go to a museum or something. it's her birthday, so whatever she decides to do. we won't get to do much on valentine's day (she has a night class), but we can have a nice long birthday weekend.

on an unrelated note, fox is airing the final four episodes of arrested development tonight. the timeslot is a virtual dead zone, practically guaranteed not to get good ratings, so it's pretty clear fox has given up on the show. still, it should be some quality television. i'm not sure if we'll watch it live or catch it on tivo, since virago might not feel like celebrating her birthday in front of the tv. here's hoping the show gets picked up by another network.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 
the facebook scandal and the hostettler blog
turns out that the "facebook scandal" (or "facebookgate" if you want to be really lame about it) got more media attention than i realized last week. i knew about the original article in the evansville courier & press that started the whole thing, all the pertinent blogs talking about it, etc. but how did i miss the AP story?:

The Bloody Eighth could live up to its nickname sooner than expected.

The race for the 8th Congressional District got off to a rough start for Democratic challenger Brad Ellsworth this week when a supporter of U.S. Rep John Hostettler found Internet pictures of Ellsworth's 19-year-old daughter drinking alcohol at Indiana University, where she is a sophomore.

IU law student Joshua Claybourn alerted the Evansville Courier & Press, which published a front-page story about the photographs Friday that set off a buzz in the district.

the article gets back to claybourn for the last two paragraphs:

Claybourn said that even though he told the newspaper about the photographs, he did not intend for them to draw so much attention.

"I suspect and hope that this becomes a footnote," he said. "The actions of the sheriff's family matter much less than the issues and ideas behind the campaign."

he didn't "intend for them to draw so much attention"? how does this make sense? the whole reason you tell the newspaper about something is because you want to draw attention to it.

anyway, go ahead and read the full article. you can find it at the websites of the fort wayne news-sentinel, the louisville courier-journal, the reporter times (martinsville), and the princeton daily clarion, and a much shorter version on WTHR (the website. i have no idea if this saw air in indy). it probably appeared in at least a couple other regional newspapers, but probably not too far outside the region.

it was on evansville tv, too, on WFIE if not on other networks as well. (link has video, which doesn't work in firefox, but i got to work in IE. (wtf IE? wtf WFIE?) the end of that story gives me another bit of info i'd been unaware of:

Late Friday afternoon, the Indiana Democratic Party called on Congressman Hostettler to publicly condemn the actions of the supporter who forwarded the pictures of Ellsworth's daughter to the media.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker called what happened a 'cheap attack,' and said Hostettler owes it to the people of the 8th district to set a campaign standard that doesn't include going after an opponent's family.

So far, there's been no reaction from the Congressman to the call that he issued a public apology.

sure enough here's the press release from the indiana democratic party. i seriously doubt that hostettler has issued any such apology. there's no mention of it in the much-trumpeted hostettler blog about it, and i see no mention of it in my searches.

come to think of it, do you think it's a coincidence that there is a story in the press on feb 3 that makes hostettler look like a mudslinger, and then on the 4th-5th, there are stories in the c&p (the same outlet that first printed the mudslinging) and the AP (here, here, here, and here) about how 1337 hostettler is because he has a blog and podcast? is it a coincidence that he launched his podcast back in november and yet there is suddenly all this discussion about his podcast in february? i mean, the fact that he has a podcast isn't exactly news if he's had it for a couple months now, right? so why now?

is it cynical to think that the timing of the podcast story reeks of a PR damage control operation orchestrated by a hostettler campaign that is now desperately trying to distance itself from the ellsworth smear? is it especially cynical to think that maybe the "hostettler blog" story was specifically released to distract bloggers who might otherwise be following the facebook story, by subconsciously appealing to bloggers' vanity about the importance of blogging?

maybe i am cynical, but the timing sure smells suspicious to me.

update: TDW alerts us to two pieces in today's courier & press about the issue.

the first is joshua claybourn's defense/apology (as one of the commenters there points out, it's mostly a defense and doesn't turn into an apology until the last two paragraphs), which you might have already seen because claybourn posted it as an editor's note on ITA (in the thread where my comments were deleted, leading to my banning). the second piece is today's letters to the editor, which 5-to-1 think the whole story is scummy, though some reserve their ire for hostettler and others for claybourn. the one letter that doesn't excoriate one of those two republicans is in response to a letter from monday demanding hostettler apologize for the whole deal because "you have a responsibility to control the actions of your obvious political allies."

2nd update: joshua claybourn emailed me, and after a brief correspondence, i have been un-banned from ITA. in his emails, claybourn asserted that ITA policy is to only ban those who make obscene comments (which mine surely were not), and suggested that that either A) someone else on my network/with my IP left obscene comments, or B) ITA "mistakenly banned the wrong one."

this is possible, though when you consider that two of my comments were deleted prior to my banning, and also factor in that the original ITA post had been heavily edited, along with ITA's "no caching" policy, the whole thing looks rather suspicious.

i have no idea who at ITA deleted my comments or banned me, nor do i know why. judging from the chain of events that we know to be true, i can think of two very different scenarios:

1) claybourn made a mistake by passing on andrea ellsworth's facebook info to the c&p. then, embarrassed by his role in an unfolding scandal, claybourn and/or his co-authors tried to downplay the scandal, resulting in a series of further mistakes that make them appear to be more guilty than they are. in this scenario, claybourn and ITA made a few mistakes and responded poorly from a PR standpoint, but their intentions were basically good.

2) claybourn, perhaps at the request of the hostettler campaign, deliberately tried to smear ellsworth. when this backfired, claybourn (and possibly his co-authors) tried to suppress dissent by revising the post at ITA, deleting comments that got too close to the truth, and banning dissenting commenters. then, after my previous post called attention to their malfeasance, they tried to do damage control by (finally) responding to the maggie daniels question, making up excuses for why the post had been edited, and eventually un-banning me—but only because my criticisms had become impossible to ignore. in this scenario, claybourn and ITA are cold partisan mudslingers whose intentions are anything but noble.

i'd like to believe #1—i really would—but there is enough weird stuff going on that i feel obligated to at least acknowledge possibility #2.

is my blog ugly? distracting? illegible?
this morning, my previous post about joshua claybourn and his role in the ellsworth/daniels underage drinking story got linked by atrios. i'm not sure which was more vindicating: being atriosed or being banned from ITA. okay, it was being atriosed.

anyway, after atrios linked me, i got a couple complaints about this design. an atrios commenter thought my color scheme was more flashback-inducing than the aquamarine and purple at fafblog. and an anonymous commenter here suggested i shut off my animated turntable graphic, as it "makes the blog unreadable for dyslexics like myself."

so consider this the official place to complain about/commend my blog design. i will consider any comments you want to make. i simply don't have time to redesign this month, but it would be a simple matter to replace the animated turntable with a static graphic if there is an outcry for that.

naturally, i think both my color scheme and the turntable graphic are pretty sharp. personally, i like including a bit of animation in my designs, since virtually no blogs seem to do so. but i understand that animation can be distracting, and moreover that some people might unconsciously associate any such animations with advertising. perhaps animation is only suitable for blog designs if it's subtle, like on montana & mcdeviltoast. i've also wondered whether the gray colors i've used for links might be a little too dark.

i like the design and graphic the way they are, but if they're causing me to lose readers, i'm willing to change. though i'm not making any promises. the goal is to have a design that looks snappy, represents my style, and is legible/usable. in this case, two out of three is bad. so speak up.

Monday, February 06, 2006 
smearin' the agora
the hottest topic on the indiana blogs these past few days has definitely been joshua claybourn and the smear on brad ellsworth's daughter. i'm a bit slow to the party, but maybe that just makes me fashionably late.

joshua claybourn is a law student who blogs at indiana barrister and in the agora (ITA). ITA is a fairly well-known conservative blog; every few weeks i stop by ITA to check up on what conservative hoosiers are blogging about. as far as right-wing bloggers go, they are relatively reasonable, though whenever i go there, sooner or later my eyes start rolling back into my head, making reading impossible.

last week, joshua posted about the race for indiana's 8th district, currently represented by republican john hostettler, who is running against newly announced challenger brad ellsworth, who is currently the sheriff of vanderburgh county.

hostettler is claybourn's man. hostettler is also a fundamentalist christian and... well, a bit crazy. crazy enough that he tried to carry a loaded gun onto an airplane in 2004 (he says he "forgot" it was there), for just one example.

in the comments of that post, an anonymous commenter pointed out that ellsworth's 19-year-old daughter andrea, who is currently a undergrad at IU, had some incriminating photos of her holding beer bottles on her facebook page. 21 minutes later, nick blesch posted a follow-up comment noting that governor daniels's daughter maggie has similarly incriminating photos and comments on her own facebook page.

the story could have ended there. nay, it should have ended there. but of course it didn't.

claybourn, apparently intrigued by the revelation that daughters of democrats get drunk too, shot an email to the evansville courier & press about the "interesting comments which followed" his post. the c&p got back in touch with joshua, requesting comment, which he gave, and help with acquiring the photos of andrea ellsworth "drinking" (reportedly, the photos, which have since been taken down, showed the girl holding beer bottles but not the actual act of partaking.)

soon enough, the c& printed the story, full to the brim with comments from joshua claybourn:

Claybourn, whose own Web site features a photograph of him with Hostettler and other noted conservatives, said he has not discussed the photographs with anyone connected to the Hostettler campaign.

Claybourn said the pictures demonstrate hypocrisy because Ellsworth, as the elected sheriff of Vanderburgh County, is responsible for enforcing Indiana law.

"People understand that underaged drinking is commonplace and sometimes even expected," Claybourn said. "When a public official's child does it, it's not necessarily any worse. However, when it's the sheriff's family doing it and then flaunting the illegal consumption in public on the Internet, it's cause for concern.

"Put yourself in the shoes of a general 19-year-old who was arrested for underaged drinking, then they find that the sheriff's daughter does it and flaunts it online and gets away with it."

so brad ellsworth's daughter's alleged underaged drinking makes her father a hypocrite because he is a sheriff. never mind that ellsworth is the sheriff in evansville and his daughter is a legal adult going to school in bloomington, many miles and several counties away, where ellsworth has no jurisdiction whatsoever. and never mind that ellsworth probably doesn't have secret spy cameras in his daughter's room, or a remote control he can use to guide her actions and ensure that she never breaks any laws. at least i hope he doesn't.

the c&p story generated close to 200 comments, overwhelmingly from those who think the girl's drinking isn't a story. the c&p also ran a confusing editorial criticizing itself for printing the story.

the story and editorial evoked a slew of denunciations in various indiana blogs: two posts on masson's blog, two posts on advance indiana, a post on liberal indiana, and a post on TDW. here's an example, from TDW:

Brad Ellsworth is not the Monroe County Sheriff. It's not like his daughter got arrested, and he helped her get out of jail and then hushed it up. He raised his daughter, and she's of the age where she can make decisions on her own. (Hell, if our parents were held accountable for the stupid things we did in college, they'd be entirely unemployable, let alone viable as candidates for public office. Just kidding. But you get the point.) She made a decision that was hers to make, and really, in the whole scheme of things, it's not a big deal.

All Mr. Claybourn has done, as an advocate for John Hostettler who took it upon himself to send these photos to the media, is make himself and his candidate look slimy while placing Ellsworth's daughter, who isn't involved at all in the campaign, in the victim limelight. Nice work, Josh. You hit that one out of the park.

perhaps sensing that he was the only one who had gotten dirty after his trip into the mud, joshua tried to back away from the story in a post on ITA, where he acknowledges that yes, he narced on andrea ellsworth to the c&p, but that "far too much has been made" of the story and he hopes "that this news becomes a footnote."

i don't actually know what the post said when he originally wrote it. it has been heavily edited since then. ITA's robots.txt file disables caching, meaning there's no cache at google or anywhere else where i can view a copy of the original post. however, the old version is still in the index, so with some clever searching i was able to unearth the following paragraph, which originally came before the paragraph that's there now:

The politics of personal destruction is an unfortunate part of politics and elections. In almost every case it represents a last ditch effort on the part of someone who has already lost the battle of ideas. Rarely should the character of public officials' families and friends be relevant. Does it matter if the sibling, child, or parent of a represenative is arrested for some crime? Probably not. But there are exceptions when impropriety matters, and in my opinion those exceptions lie with judges and law enforcement. Judges and law enforcement personnel, such as sheriffs and police, are entrusted by the public with enormous power and authority. Maintaining the integrity of judicial office and law enforcement is essential to democracy and the rule of law. Imagine yourself as a 19 year old charged with underage consumption of alcohol only to find the sheriff's child regularly engages in it, and then flaunts it.

in the following paragraph, where it now says "an anonymous commenter", it originally said "a sharp commenter".

other deleted passages:

I passed the information on to the C&P, which then ran with it. Even as a moderate/conservative Republican, I take no pleasure in reporting this negative news about Democratic challenger Ellsworth.

That's why the Courier & Press' story today on Sheriff Brad Ellsworth, candidate for Indiana's 8th Congressional district, is in fact newsworthy.

i might be able to unearth a bit more of the deleted post, but i have simply run out of time for tonight, so let's move on to the comments from that post.

in the first comment of that post, nick blesch again brought up the governor's daughter:

Of course, I see that you didn't report Maggie Daniels' underage drinking to the Indianapolis Star.

Now, while your argument about law enforcement officers and judges all makes sense, as the Governor is the most powerful person in the state and the arbiter of what laws are passed into existence, that makes him an officer of the law in a sense that's difficult to deny, I believe. I mean, how is it right for it to be legal for Maggie Daniels to drink at 19 (or 20)?

If you're going to stick up for what you believe to be right, I think you've got another phone call to make. Or - dare I say it - were you just using this to cover up for the fact that you want to get a zing in on the Democrats (who've been embarassing Republicans for years with the Bush twins' antics) without ticking off former and future bosses?

claybourn replied with a quintessential non-denial: "Frankly, unless you can see my sent mail folder, this comment is baseless." well okay, technically that's true, but... nick posted another comment, directly asking "But did you?" claybourn never bothered to answer the question, or to reply again to his own active comment thread, though he did continue commenting on TDW two days later.

i too was curious about whether joshua had reported maggie daniels to the star, and since nick had dropped the issue, i took it back up. i twice tried to leave a comment on the ITA thread, following up on this question. after my first comment "mysteriously" disappeared, i took a screenshot of my second comment for posterity, just in case it too was deleted. and sure enough, within a half an hour, my second comment had also vanished into the ether.

take a look at my comment and compare it to the comments that are still up. what is so bad about my comment that it would need to be deleted not once, but twice? as you can see, my comment was very polite and mild-mannered; there is no swearing, name-calling, partisan rhetoric, or anything like that. i asked a simple question, which another commenter had already asked but which hadn't been answered in four days. there are plenty of much worse comments still there, from both sides.

i seems clear to me that if joshua had indeed squealed on the governor's daughter like he tattled on ellsworth's daughter, there would be no reason to delete innocuous comments like mine. of course, i pretty much knew already that the reason he hadn't answered the question was because the answer would be "no". this only reaffirms it. he had information on the misdoings of the daughters of two prominent politicians. he narced on the one in the opposition party, but not the one in his own party. and when confronted with it, instead of making an argument about how he made the right decision and why, he dodges the question and deletes (or his co-authors delete) comments that bring it up.

of course, i don't care if either girl drinks, as long as they're being responsible about it. i drank as an undergrad, as did most people i know, though i did know a few who didn't (i lived on an honors floor). posting pictures of it online is not very responsible, especially if your dad is a public official, though i understand such pictures are all over facebook. but if there's "a legitimate debate" about whether sheriffs should be held accountable for their adult children, it seems to me that the debate over the governor's accountability would be just as legitimate. but joshua doesn't want to have that debate because it exposes his own hypocrisy.

meanwhile, and from what i can tell completely independently of the hoopla on the hoosier blogs, scott shields at mydd picked up on the story. shields draws the conclusion that the story is orchestrated by the hostettler campaign and claybourn went to the c&p on hostettler's behalf:

Rather than dismissing the photos as cheap politics unworthy of Hostettler, the Congressman's sister and spokeswoman Karen Hammonds ran with it, attacking Ellsworth's daughter for posting the photos. To me, that's enough to suggest that it was Hostettler's campaign who sent Claybourn to do their dirty work. After all, Claybourn counts Hostettler as one of his 'famous friends'. And even though Claybourn's taken down his blog's archives and immunized it from automatic archiving and cacheing with a robots.txt file (gee, why ever would he have done that?), a Google search reveals his ties to the Congressman, even in one post bragging about his "sources close to Congressman John Hostettler."

chris coyle also suspects hostettler was involved; doug disagrees.

furthermore, atrios, one of the biggest blogs around, linked to the mydd post. so now, potentially hundreds of thousands of people nationwide have heard about the attack, and will associate claybourn and hostettler with mudslinging. claybourn's not even out of law school, and he's already earning a national reputation as a slime merchant. that is classic blog blowback.

update: i had a bit more time before bed and managed to piece together what i believe is the entire unedited ITA post. i had to piece this together one phrase at a time using selective searches, so i can't guarantee it's 100% accurate, but here it is:
The politics of personal destruction is an unfortunate part of politics and elections. In almost every case it represents a last ditch effort on the part of someone who has already lost the battle of ideas. Rarely should the character of public officials' families and friends be relevant. Does it matter if the sibling, child, or parent of a represenative is arrested for some crime? Probably not. But there are exceptions when impropriety matters, and in my opinion those exceptions lie with judges and law enforcement. Judges and law enforcement personnel, such as sheriffs and police, are entrusted by the public with enormous power and authority. Maintaining the integrity of judicial office and law enforcement is essential to democracy and the rule of law. Imagine yourself as a 19 year old charged with underage consumption of alcohol only to find the sheriff's child regularly engages in it, and then flaunts it.

That's why the Courier & Press' story today on Sheriff Brad Ellsworth, candidate for Indiana's 8th Congressional district, is in fact newsworthy. On Tuesday I penned a minor post about the Hostettler/Ellsworth race and the dynamics involved. But a sharp commenter noted that Ellsworth's daughter, age 19, publicly flaunts her underage drinking in pictures online (all of which have since been removed). I passed the information on to the C&P, which then ran with it. Even as a moderate/conservative Republican, I take no pleasure in reporting this negative news about Democratic challenger Ellsworth. And even though the race in Indiana's "Bloody Eighth" is expected to be one of the closest in the country, I suspect - and hope - that this news becomes a footnote. The actions of the Sheriff's family matter much less than the issues and ideas behind the campaign. Those are the factors that should ultimately determine votes.

quite a contrast to what's there now. (i've saved a copy of the page in its current form to my site here in case it gets changed again or yet more comments get deleted. i'm pretty sure at least one other comment has been deleted: it originally appeared between nick's comments at 10:54PM and 2:59AM.)

2nd update: courtesy TDW, we see that this story has now made another prominent national blog: hotline, and others are picking up on it.

3rd update: this post has been linked by atrios, where joshua claybourn earns atrios's coveted "wanker of the day" award. commenters there think i'm too wordy (fair enough) and that my design is too loud/distracting/whatever (which is probably also true).

4th update: i was going to reply to this comment from joshua on ITA, where he says he will answer the maggie daniels question "one last time" (of course, that is actually the first time he has answered the question on his blog, five days after it was first asked, and only after i had written this massive post and it started to draw attention).

i had been debating whether it would be worth my time to ever leave a comment there, since it would likely be deleted anyway. but now i know not to bother because i have been banned from ITA! no more comments from me; i'm forbidden from posting there. check the screenshot.

Friday, February 03, 2006 
friday cat bending: in memoriam
this is friday cat bending #8. (link to #7)

as you might already knew, leland passed away this week. he was always the star of (and inspiration for) friday cat bending and the feature won't be the same without him. i'd hoped he would be around for a couple more years of cat bending, but it wasn't meant to be. i'm glad, though, that i was able to get out 7 installments before he went.

i still have a few more decent unused photos of him, so i might still do 1-2 more of these "in memoriam" installments, depending how i feel about it. it's ironic—when he was still alive and i expected him to stick around for a couple more years, i was planning to start branching out and bending pictures of other cats, just to keep the feature fresh. now i don't know. it wouldn't seem right to bend other cats now. and if i ever do start it up again with other cats, it'll probably be even more sporadic than it has been to date.

i wanted to do at least one more edition of cat bending in tribute to leland and the 7 years of happiness he brought me. for this tribute, i wanted to do something really special, something different. so i made sure to find a photo i really liked, and experimented with some new file formats: PCX and PNG.

this photo is very old, dating circa halloween 1998, when he was still a small kitten. the photo was actually taken on a film camera, and when i got the film developed i opted for the "photo cd" in addition to standard prints (seems quaint, doesn't it?). i ran an "auto colors" script on it, which really made the colors pop. i like how the cat toy (which is on a string) is coincidentally right in front of the cat's face on the popcorn tin. the image size is a peculiar 1536x1024.

PCX: bending PCX files apparently results in this unusual effect. the files look rather like i jumbled up the contents of a BMP or TIF file, but that's not what happened at all. when i bent just a few bytes of data, everything after that point in the file ended up looking like that. very interesting, but after a number of attempts, it became clear that this was the only look i was going to get, so i moved on.

lan_ball.jpg: original image:

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PNG: i had tried bending PNG files before and had given up, thinking that it wasn't working because the bent files just wouldn't open in photoshop. this time i tried again, keeping in mind what i've learned about application sensitivity. it turns out that bent PNGs won't open in photoshop, ever, nor do they seem to open in my web browsers (in my tests, IE and firefox would both load the files normally, up until the files were 100% loaded, and then they'd bring up an error or a red X), but they do open in paint and windows picture viewer on my home computer. i couldn't get them to open up in win2k, as that version of paint doesn't support PNG, though you might get them to work if you found the right software to install.

most of my bent PNGs ended up looking like lan_ball-pngbend2, mostly just color noise, but every one in a while, like magic i would get this fantastic effect you can see in the other bends here: glitchy color patterns with these fantastic blurs... streaky blurry patches like i've never seen in a bent image. the bottoms of these images look like someone got them wet and the ink smeared off to the right. i don't know what's going on here, and i have no idea what causes this effect rather than the much more common visual noise, but i like it. and i'm really glad i'm introducing these bends now, because they're some of my favorite ever, and thus a fitting tribute:

lan_ball.jpg: original image:

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lan_ball3.png: actual bent file


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lan_ball1.png: actual bent file


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lan_ball3.png: actual bent file

goodbye leland, my precious boy. i love and miss you whole bunches.


Thursday, February 02, 2006 
shite of the union
bush gave his annual state of the union speech tuesday night. tuesday was a very bad night for me, so i didn't watch, nor did i record it for later viewing/sampling (though i wouldn't mind getting my hands on a recording, especially now that i know that he used the phrase "addicted to oil", a phrase that could come in very handy for collages).

so what did we learn? for one thing, we learned that wearing a t-shirt to the SOTU can get you arrested. a member of congress invited famous protester cindy sheehan to attend the address, and sheehan got manhandled and arrested for unzipping her jacket:

I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing 3 flights of stairs back up from the bathroom so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and yelled; "Protester." He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs. I said something like "I'm going, do you have to be so rough?" By the way, his name is Mike Weight.

The officer ran with me to the elevators yelling at everyone to move out of the way. When we got to the elevators, he cuffed me and took me outside to await a squad car. On the way out, someone behind me said, "That's Cindy Sheehan." At which point the officer who arrested me said: "Take these steps slowly." I said, "You didn't care about being careful when you were dragging me up the other steps." He said, "That's because you were protesting." Wow, I get hauled out of the People's House because I was, "Protesting."

I was never told that I couldn't wear that shirt into the Congress. I was never asked to take it off or zip my jacket back up. If I had been asked to do any of those things...I would have, and written about the suppression of my freedom of speech later. I was immediately, and roughly (I have the bruises and muscle spasms to prove it) hauled off and arrested for "unlawful conduct."

if you think she was only harrassed because she was a famed left-wing protester, you're wrong. apparently anybody who wears a t-shirt to the SOTU will get harrassed. however, it apparently is true that they will only arrest you if you're left-wing. right-wing t-shirters are escorted out politely:

The wife of a powerful Republican congressman was also asked to leave.

Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Florida chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee was removed from the gallery because she was wearing a T-shirt that read, "Support the Troops Defending Our Freedom."

She was sitting about six rows from first lady Laura Bush and asked to leave. She argued with police in the hallway outside the House chamber.

"They said I was protesting," she told the St. Petersburg Times. "I said, "Read my shirt, it is not a protest.' They said, 'We consider that a protest.' I said, 'Then you are an idiot.'"

They told her she was being treated the same as Sheehan, a protester ejected before the speech Tuesday night for wearing a T-shirt with an antiwar slogan. Sheehan wrote in her blog Wednesday that she intends to file a First Amendment lawsuit.

of course, the wasn't treated the same as sheehan, as sheehan was arrested and spent four hours in jail, where the congressman's wife was simply escorted out. that's not even close to the same treatment. neither woman deserved to be treated like that for simply wearing t-shirts, and, to their credit, capitol police eventually admitted as much:

The extraordinary statement came a day after police removed Sheehan and Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young, R-Fla., from the visitors gallery Tuesday night. Sheehan was taken away in handcuffs before Bush's arrival at the Capitol and charged with a misdemeanor, while Young left the gallery and therefore was not arrested, Gainer said.

"Neither guest should have been confronted about the expressive T-shirts," Gainer's statement said.

then again, it's easier to oppress someone and issue a half-assed apology afterward than to not oppress them in the first place. and apparently the two women were not the only ones ejected.

A foreign-born American citizen who was the guest of Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., also was taken by police from the gallery just above the House floor, Hastings said Wednesday.

The congressman met with Gainer and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., about the incident.

"I'd like to find out more information," Hastings said in an interview, identifying the man only as being from Broward County in Florida. "He is a constituent of mine. I invited him proudly."

anybody know what happened to hastings's guest, or why the capitol police didn't feel like apologizing for that? (perhaps because that guest didn't get the media attention that the other two got?)

but let's not focus too much on t-shirts. we don't want to overlook the fact that the white house has already admitted that bush was full of shit:

One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.

Bush vowed to fund research into better batteries for hybrid vehicles and more production of the alternative fuel ethanol, setting a lofty goal of replacing "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025."

He pledged to "move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."

Not exactly, though, it turns out.

"This was purely an example," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

He said the broad goal was to displace foreign oil imports, from anywhere, with domestic alternatives. He acknowledged that oil is a freely traded commodity bought and sold globally by private firms. Consequently, it would be very difficult to reduce imports from any single region, especially the most oil-rich region on Earth.

Asked why the president used the words "the Middle East" when he didn't really mean them, one administration official said Bush wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands." The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he feared that his remarks might get him in trouble.

but it's not really "understanding" when you're being lied to, is it? when someone intentionally misleads you, doesn't that make it a misunderstanding?

update: it's not easy being brown:

[T]here was one other person in attendance whose rights were infringed upon. The man, who did not want his identity revealed after the disturbing incident, was a personal guest of Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings. He is a prominent businessman from Broward County, Florida who works with the Department of Defense-and has a security clearance. After sitting in the gallery for the entire speech, he was surrounded by about ten law enforcement officers as he exited the chamber and whisked away to a room in the Capitol.

For close to an hour the man, who was born in India but is an American citizen, was questioned by the Police, who thought he resembled someone on a Secret Service photo watch list, according to Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer. Eventually, the police realized it was a case of mistaken identity and let him go. Gainer has assured Hastings that the Capitol Police, Secret Service and FBI will investigate why the man was detained for so long, and try to "sharpen our procedures." But the man was "very, very scared" by the incident, says Fred Turner, a spokesperson for Hastings. On Tuesday night, he told the congressman that the experience was "maybe just the price of being brown in America," Turner says.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 
RIP leland "lander kitt" 1998–2006
leland the cat died tonight at noah's animal hospital on the east side. i'd had him since autumn of '98, when he was a tiny stray kitten. under the moniker "lander kitt" he was a founding member of animals within animals, and he was also the subject of my friday catbending series. he was 7 years old.

he had been sick for years—he had feline leukemia as well as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy—so i knew it was inevitable, but i'd hoped to squeeze in a few more years with him around. he was originally a stray, but overcame some youthful exuberance to become a very sweet, easygoing cat.

his health had probably been gradually deteriorating for years, and especially over the past couple days. just a few days ago, he seemed perfectly healthy and normal. sunday he jumped up in my lap while i was sitting here in my computer chair, and simply curled up in my lap instead of climbing up on my chest and kneading me... he was always a big kneader. this was strange, but not too strange. monday when i got home from work, he didn't come greet me and jump in my lap and knead me like he usually does, so i went looking for him and found him in the basement. he followed me out and hung out in the kitchen, lying around on the ground before wandering off. it was perhaps a little strange that he hadn't jumped up on the counter, but not that strange. i spent all evening here in this chair, but he never came by to visit me, which was strange. by this point i was concerned, and went looking for him. i eventually found him and petted him for awhile. i went to the bathroom and he wandered off. i didn't see him again last night but hey, he's a cat and is mysterious like that. cats disappear or go into seclusion sometimes.

tonight i got home from work and noticed that he still had the same amount of food in his bowl. it didn't look like he'd eaten anything since yesterday. and he didn't come out of hiding to visit me. by this point i was worried, and looked all over the house for him before eventually finding him in my bedroom, half underneath my bed. i sat back down and went about my evening.

15 to 20 minutes later, he still hadn't come out from under the bed. i had at least expected him to eat something now that i'd awoken him. i went back and tried to rouse him. there was a funky stench, but i couldn't tell if it came from him or from my pile of dirty laundry right next to him. at first he didn't seem to move at all. eventually he moved his head a bit, confirming he was alive, but he still wouldn't get up. i pulled him out from under the bed a bit and the fur on his belly and hind legs was matted. that's what the smell was: he'd urinated on himself. he started wagging his tail or whatever cats do but he still wasn't trying to get up or even change positions very much. something was seriously wrong. i got barry. barry picked leland up and set him down on his feet, hoping to get leland to stand up and walk around. instead leland stumbled and fell back to the ground

i called paw patch, his normal vet, and found out they would only be open until 7. it was now 6:30. i opted to take him to noah's instead, where he got his ultrasounds and where they have 24-hour emergency service (calling ahead so they knew to expect us). with barry's help i got him in his carrier. he was strong enough to walk the rest of the way into his carrier, which was something.

i knew as i drove him up there that he probably going to die. i had seen much the same thing as a kid when our dog had died. she had seemed perfectly fine until one day she was lethargic, disoriented, and walking into walls.

noah's admitted us quickly. we took the top off his carrier and he just lied there. they tried to weigh him but there were some problems with the scale. leland started meowing (he almost never meows) and eventually wailing. i can't remember the last time i'd heard him make such awful wailing noises. he wasn't enjoying the weighing process at all, but he quieted back down once we got him nestled back comfortably in his carrier, with a towel and a heating pad.

the vet, dr watts, knew he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and explained that cats with that condition sometimes experience episodes where they will collapse etc because their hearts aren't able to pump well enough. she also mentioned saddle thrombus, but didn't think it was as likely judging by his symptoms. a few minutes later i mentioned that he was also FeLV+. this should have been in their files and should not have been news to them, but it was. the dr mentioned that the feline leukemia complicated things even further, and that it could be the leukemia rather than heart disease causing the current problem, recommending blood tests in addition to the other tests and medicines she had been recommending. he was admitted overnight, and after i went home to grab leland's medication and bring it to the vet (they were apparently out of stock of diltiazem), i went to drbmd's place.

around 8pm, dr watts called. while drawing blood to send to the lab for leland's tests, she had noticed that the blood looked watery. she checked the red blood cell count using gear there in the office and it came out to 10% (it should be somewhere around 40%). worse, he was dehydrated, which would typically increase red blood cell count, meaning he was even more anemic than the numbers would suggest. she didn't think he would survive the night without a blood transfusion. the heart disease wasn't killing him; the feline leukemia was.

dr watts suggested that i should consider "how far we want to take this." after all, he would still have two terminal diseases. and she was right. one of those diseases would kill him eventually, and even if we got him the $300 transfusion and gave him some extra time, what would the quality of that time be like? and... let's be honest, how much money would i end up spending to prolong his life if he was likely to be miserable for those extra days or months?

the dr asked if i wanted some time to make the decision and call her back, and i said yes, though i knew i shouldn't go through with the transfusion. better to end his suffering gently rather than stretch it out indefinitely. i called barry & my sister to give them the news, and i guess to validate that i was making the right decision. then i called noah's and left a message for dr watts to call me.

when she called back, dr watts assured me that if leland were her cat, she would make the same decision. she gave the phone to someone else for a confirmation; i guess this is so they can be extra sure there is no miscommunication and they don't end up euthanizing your pet by accident. i was given the option to cremate or take back his body for burial. with cremation you can take the ashes or have them dispose of the ashes for you at a park in southern indianai chose to cremate and to take his ashes myself (i'm not sure i could handle picking up his dead body and driving it around). i'm not sure yet what i'll do with the ashes; probably dispose of them myself somewhere nice.

so it goes. leland "lander kitt" was put to sleep sometime around 8:40pm january 31, 2006.

friday cat bending will return for at least one more "in memoriam" installment. after that i might at some point continue the feature with other cats, like virago's cat girl. i will not be getting another cat myself anytime soon.

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