Friday, November 18, 2011

Cat tale

We are at the Elks lodge in Fort Walton Beach, Florida (map). This is a very familiar place for us, as we spent a little over a month here last year on alert for hurricane season. Since our last visit, the rate has doubled, to $20 per night, and we hardly need the 30-amp power at the moment (unlike last year), but that's still a good deal along the Emerald Coast. We paid for a full week when we pulled in on Tuesday, after a very short drive from Navarre.

Our plan had been to settle in and relax for a week, getting some languishing projects off the books at the same time. Our cat Angel, however, had other plans for us. She's been throwing up in the morning every couple days for the last week or so, and that reached crisis proportions Tuesday night. Wednesday morning we hunted around for a local vet so we could have her looked at, and ended up taking her five miles west to Mary Esther on the scooter.

The doctor was concerned enough to take X-rays as well as blood work, and ended up keeping her overnight for observation and IV fluids. So that ended up being two trips in two days, five bills, and a lot of overnight fretting on our part. Ultimately the diagnosis was the beginnings of kidney disease, and some dehydration. So she is now officially on the K/D diet that she's been eating anyway, courtesy of her sister with the same issue, and a higher proportion of wet food. That's worked well for George, and we are hoping it will for Angel, too. We were very glad to have her back aboard yesterday afternoon, and so far she has been doing fine.

Aside from cleaning cat barf, and futilely trying to explain the First Law of Thermodynamics to someone over on the bus board (after I wrote this about space heaters), I've spent the better part of the last three days updating my cell phone. There are times when it does not pay to be a geek, and sometimes I yearn to be ignorant both of the laws of thermodynamics, and that it is possible to do more with your cell phone than just what the carriers shove down your throat.

Back in March I ditched my aging Blackberry for a whizzy new Android phone, a Samsung Epic 4G. One of the reasons I chose Android was the ongoing development of the platform and the notion that the phone would be continuously upgradable to the latest release, theoretically obviating the need for a new phone every few years just to get the newer features. Mostly, I was tired of having to sync the Blackberry constantly with my computer, and wanted something that would just sync automatically in the background with the cloud.

I got the Epic just as Android 2.3, "Froyo," was rolling out for it, and I patiently waited for a few weeks until it came to me "over the air." Shortly thereafter, I tired of Sprint's spyware and bloatware, which just got worse with Froyo than when I first got the phone, and I ended up loading a custom software package, known generically as a ROM, on it instead. The phone got way faster and the battery life also got much better without the spyware and other junk constantly running in the background, plus some factory GPS issues were solved, and I have been very happy. I posted about the process here, wherein I also compared my phone to a 1980's-vintage mainframe.

Last week, Sprint finally rolled the newer Android, "Gingerbread," out to these phones over the air, but with the custom ROM I don't get those updates. Ironically, Sprint was rolling out Gingerbread right as Google released an even newer update, "Ice Cream Sandwich," just as they had rolled out Froyo just as Google was releasing Gingerbread. It seems Sprint and Samsung are constantly one release behind.

In any case, in order to get the newer release without getting all the spyware and other bloat back, I have to update manually and choose among the handful of custom ROMs available based on Gingerbread, some of which are not yet fully baked, if you will pardon the pun. And there is a certain amount of reloading and updating of applications that has to happen, which would also be a behind-the-scenes thing for the stock release over the air. Ironically, just as I was starting this process and wondering whether it was all worth it, I got a tweet from my Red Cross boss and tech guru, Keith Robertory, linking to this write-up about the invasive spyware to which I am referring and which I ditched long ago: yes, it's worth the effort.

I'm mostly back working again, but the battery life is not yet where it was under the Froyo ROM, so I probably have another couple of ROM updates ahead of me still. In the seven months or so that I've had it, we've become somewhat dependent on this phone for emails and underway web searching, such as to find overnight spots, and it is also now our backup Internet connectivity when we can't use the dish for whatever reason.

Our mail came the second day we were here, and it contained a part that I ordered for our portable color inkjet printer, which crapped out last month. Replacing the part, a plastic gear which cracked along a stress line, was a fiddly little project but now that it's done, the printer works like new. One of the things we look forward to whenever we move to a boat will be enough space for a full-size, wireless, desktop printer rather than the little portable job we have now.

Meanwhile, after cleaning cat barf off the dashboard (including the bookcase - yuck) for the umpteenth time, we decided the time has come for the three bobble dolls we've kept there to move on to a different life; Louise has freecycled them. But I took some photos for posterity, and because I was very fond of the hula ones. Each has a story.

President Obama is the most recent addition to the collection, and, frankly, we'd had to cover him a few times for fear of vandalism, depending on where we were parked (sad, actually). He was our consolation prize, of sorts, for traveling all the way to DC for the inauguration only to be thwarted at the Purple Gate of Doom, which I wrote about here. In this post I described how we got the bobble-head, and there is a photo from before the flag came off his little flagstaff.

The male hula dancer, whom we dubbed "Hunu," was a souvenir from our Hawaii cruise back in 2006, after just a year aboard Odyssey. We thought he'd make a nice counterpoint to the hula dog. Call us puerile -- after all, every little boy looks up Barbie's miniskirt -- but we couldn't resist peeking under his grass skirt in the store, and, discovering that he was not only "commando" under there, but also had carefully sculpted buns and, umm, "bulge," we both simultaneously exclaimed "Who knew?!" ... and the name stuck. He's made from a different type of plastic than the dog, so he still sports his original tan.

Hula Dog has been on the dashboard since the day Odyssey left the shop back in 2004. She was a wedding gift from our friend Carolyn; we had exhorted all our guests to avoid giving us any "stuff" since we were downsizing our lives in preparation for moving aboard, but she couldn't resist, and we thought the dog was a fitting figurehead for the bus.

Sitting, as she did, mostly exposed to the ravages of sunlight every day, she began to fade early on, and we had to rotate her as if on a rotisserie to keep her tone even. You can still see some of her original color under her faded skirt.

We expect to be here
at least until Tuesday. If we don't get a better offer, we'll likely extend through the weekend and just have Thanksgiving dinner at one of the many nice restaurants here in town. After that I expect we will continue east and then south, in search of warmer climes and possibly some boats to view.


  1. Sorry about Angel. Wish they could figure out why kidney disease is so prevalent in cats and prevent it rather than having to treat it. Did the vet suggest Pepcid for Angel's nausea? It helped a lot for Oreo, especially given at night since he always vomited in the mornings.

  2. As someone whose favorite motto is "on the road again...", I'm amazed at your vehicle/home. Wow! I've got to read more of your blog...

  3. Our ageing cat (17 years) has begun to puke a lot. We will try the increase in wet cat food to ease the challenge to his declining system. Thanks for that unlikely input from this sort of forum.

    I continue to enjoy vicarious travel through your excellent blog, and look forward to following your transition to boat living.

  4. Thanks for being brave enough to try to defend the First Law of Thermodynamics.


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