Stick a Fork in it.   1 comment

Posted at 9:57 am in Personal Blog Nonsense

As you can tell, I haven’t really been keeping this blog updated since the server crashed a while ago. This is because there is really no reason to keep a personal blog anymore. It’s just a waste of time when you have Facebook and Twitter, neither of which existed when I started this blog 5 years ago.

Anyway, I doubt I’ll ever be writing things here again. All of my writing is done on PC Hardware and Video Games anyway, and that is all done at my main site, HCW.

For the personal crap, I am on Twitter every day.  You can also visit my Posterous page, which I use to post day-to-day pictures of useless stuff. Anything that would have gone here will now be found there. And of course, there’s Facebook as well. I only add people I personally know, though.

So I’ll see you around… Just not on here very much ;)

Written by Carl Nelson on March 29th, 2010

Our Free Dinner @ Pokka Cafe   2 comments

Posted at 10:44 pm in Food

When we purchased our oven in late October, Telford mall was having a promotion where, if you spend a certain amount at the mall, you would be treated to a free dinner at one of their restaurants. We picked that day to buy our oven, because we like Pokka Cafe. If you haven’t heard of it, Pokka Cafe is a Japanese restaurant chain based in Singapore. They offer a wide variety of Japanese style food, from noodles to steaks to izakaya style food. The flavours are pretty authentic, but you pay for it. Dishes are at least $100 ($14 CAD) each, and a coffee is about $40 ($5.50 CAD). To give  you an idea, we rarely spend more than $40 each for an entire meal (hey, it’s one of the reasons we live here!)

Anyway, we endured a 45 minute lineup to get a chance to enjoy a $600 ($82 CAD) meal for two. We recognized all the dishes from the regular menu, including a nice looking tenderloin that I had often eyed when dining there (it’s about $200 for a 100g slice of beef, so I never ordered it). Mostly though, I just wanted a chance to have their awesome coffee for free.

I have to say though, had this been my first ever visit to Pokka Cafe, I probably wouldn’t go there again. Here’s how our meal went:

First of all, we gave the waitress our voucher, and she took our order. We told her how we wanted our steak done, etc. Before she left, we thought she forgot to take our drink order (a free drink is included). She looked at us strange when we asked for our drinks, and then asked if we would like our dessert first too. Huh?

Soup: Pumpkin Soup with Crab “Sticks”

Pumpkin Soup at Pokka Cafe

I didn’t have high hopes for this dish, as the gift voucher listed it as “Crab Sticks”. Since crabs usually don’t come in “stick” form, I just assumed they meant the concoction that is created by mixing sea bream or pollock with starch, water, and artificial flavouring. But to my surprise, they actually used real crab meat! Unfortunately, each bowl of soup had but a tiny shred of meat in it. Not enough to even describe as being a “bite” of crab. The soup tasted diluted and wasn’t very hot.

Before we could even get started on our soup, the first appetizer came:

Appetizer: Baked Oysters

People who frequent Canadian and American Japanese restaurants will surely have tried Oyster Motoyaki. A delicious dish, if not at all Japanese, where an oyster is baked in its own shell after being topped with Japanese mayonnaise. It is normally one of my favourites, delicious with a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice. See this page for an oyster motoyaki recipe to see what I mean.

Unfortunately, the baked oysters served at Pokka aren’t quite up to those standards:

Oyster Motoyaki at Pokka Cafe

By the time we finished our soup, these were cold and hard. There was hardly any sauce at all, although the oyster part tasted OK.

We were still finishing our soup when they brought out the pasta.

Pasta: Sauteed Spaghetti with Unagi

Sauteed Spaghetti with Unagi

It was quite tasty (I only had a little bit, not the biggest pasta eater these days). This is probably a dish Andrea would order during any other visit to Pokka, and she enjoyed it. Too bad it was cold by the time we finished our soup and oysters.

Full course meal served all at once!

We were just finishing our soup (yes, the very first dish brought to the table) when the main course came. That’s right, within 5 or 10 minutes, we had every single dish sitting at our table, waiting to be eaten (and getting cold while waiting). We didn’t even have time to ask them to slow down – they just came out one by one. It was ridiculous! Now, Chinese restaurants aren’t known for their meal pacing (if you’ve ever been to one, you have probably been in the situation where one person is finished their meal while another still hasn’t received theirs – especially if one orders a baked dish or something). But this was ridiculous! A set meal, and they brought out the entire set (minus dessert) before we even finished the soup!

Main Course: Beef Loin Filet in “Wine Sauce”:

Beef Filet at Pokka Cafe
It was incredibly small, but the meat was delicious. Mine was slightly overcooked (we asked for medium-rare, which the waitress confirmed as being “40%” rather than our other choice of “70%” which sounds horrendously overcooked). Andrea’s was perfect though, meaning they knew how it was supposed to be cooked. The sauce had not a hint of wine flavour, or any flavour really. That was fine by me though, anything else would have masked the delicious natural beef flavour these premium cuts had.

Finally, after we finished all our lukewarm food, out came dessert:

Dessert: Tofu and Gelatin with a couple Blueberries

Dessert at Pokka Cafe

If you are a fan of mild desserts, then this one is for you. Unflavoured tofu with unflavoured gelatin, and a couple sweetened blueberries. This would have been fine if they had included more than three individual blueberries (Andrea got 3.5).

Like I said, if this was my first visit to Pokka, there’s no way I would have come back. We’ve been there three or four times, and have always had good food and good service. I think they may be just getting tired of serving these free full course meals (they gave away hundreds that day, and apparently everyone is redeeming them this week, as the promotion ends tomorrow).

Thankfully I didn’t have to pay one cent for this meal. If I did, I think I would have told them to take all the dishes back, recook them, and bring them out at a proper pace.

Ice Coffee at Pokka Cafe

The coffee was really good though, as usual, so I was satisfied overall ;)

Written by Carl Nelson on December 14th, 2009

A New Home   no comments

Posted at 7:45 pm in Personal Blog Nonsense

If you’re reading this, that means the server move has been successful so far. We have decided to stop running our own dedicated servers, and switch to Cloud servers instead. John is now using Amazon EC2, and I will be using Rackspace Cloud. (and yes Gary, I used your referral code – thanks for your help in discovering Rackspace Cloud!)

Rackspace’s service is extremely basic – you don’t get root access, just a web interface – but for basic hosting needs, it is fine. If all  you use is Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, then it is totally fine. Just a bit of a headache dealing with archives and database importing.

Once this move goes through, I will begin moving all the other sites I have. Then I guess I’ll be selling some Dell servers, because I won’t be needing them any more!

The best part of this: Not having to worry about another hardware crash.

Written by Carl Nelson on November 23rd, 2009

How to Download and Watch HDTV on the Internet   no comments

Posted at 12:04 pm in General Absurdity

This is another popular post that was lost in the Great Hard Drive Crash of 2008. I was explaining to John that Newgroups are far superior to Torrents, but it is slightly more complicated to use. So I decided to repost my guide from 2007.

I have been asked a few times now, how I keep up with TV while living in Hong Kong. Anyone who has been outside Canada or USA realizes quickly that TV just sucks in other countries. I’m not complaining, because these places usually offer a lot of other things to do instead. But there is plenty of good programming on TV right now, and it would be a shame to miss out on it all.

The quick answer is “use the internet”. That’s an obvious solution, but you just have to know where to look. I am going to write a series of posts describing how you can watch TV using your internet connection, whether it is HDTV from the big networks, overseas programming from other countries with good TV, like some shows in the UK, and Pay-Per-Views and hockey games that otherwise would be impossible to watch.

The Basics

At the very basic, you need the following:

  1. A good internet connection
  2. A good news provider
  3. A NZB reader
  4. A Bit Torrent client
  5. Software & codecs

The first thing you need is a GOOD internet connection. You may be able to hijack someone’s unprotected Wifi connection to check your email, but you’re going to be downloading thousands of gigs of data if you plan to use the net to provide all of your TV. You will want to sign up with an ISP that has a fast connection, and no limits on bandwidth. I use Netvigator in Hong Kong. For $224 HKD a month ($32 CAD), I get a 30 Mbps connection with absolutely no bandwidth limits, downstream or up. Next, you will need a good news provider. This is where you will be downloading most of the content. Bit Torrent is another option, but bandwidth is an issue for most people, so TV shows on torrent networks are released at a lower quality bit rate. A typical 42 minute show (1 hour minus commercials) is about 350 MB as an HDTV XviD release on Bit Torrent. On newsgroups, you’ll find the same shows encoded as high-resolution XviD files which are 700 MB. Some shows are released as very high res files, using higher quality bit rates and the x.264 codec. These are about 1.2 GB per “one hour” show.

The newsgroup provider I use is Giganews. For $25 USD a month, you get unlimited data transfer, and a very fast, reliable connection with (soon to be) 365 day retention (meaning you can download shows that were posted as long as 1 year prior). The price may seem steep, but consider that I have transferred over 7000 GB of data since April 2006, all at the full 6 mbps (now 30 mbps) my ISP provides, and you’ll quickly see it’s worth it. There are some free servers out there with a couple days retention, but you’re on your own there. And don’t even think about using your ISP’s newsgroup server, they barely even keep binary files at all. If you decide to sign up for Giganews, please use my referral link. I’ll get credited $15, which I hope is fair for writing this guide.

Next, you’ll need the client to use to download the data off the newsgroups. For that, I use Newsbin Pro. For $35 (If you subscribe to Giganews, you can get an exclusive Giganews version for $25) you get a robust reader that fully utilizes all the available bandwidth, and makes it easy to find the binary files you’re looking for. An alternative is NewsLeecher, which is also good, but I simply decided to use Newsbin Pro after testing them both out. When you add your server info, make sure to set it to use 20 connections  – this is how you will be able to max out your downstream bandwidth (Giganews has increased this limit to 20 connections, guaranteeing full bandwidth saturation).

There are two ways to go about finding your programming. One is to simply load up the binary groups in your readers (the top one for TV shows is alt.binaries.multimedia, and alt.binaries.hdtv for HD movies). Or you can go to NZBsRus.com, where the community uploads the latest releases as easy-to-use NZB files. Basically this is an XML file that tells programs like Newsbin Pro and NewsLeecher exactly where to find the binaries, with as little user input as possible. Simply open the NZB file with your News reader, and download all the archives. I’ll write about this step in more detail later on. But for the tech-savvy, this should be enough info. Since this guide was written, NZBsRus has lowered their daily download limit to 5, for non-paying subscribers. So you should also bookmark Binsearch, which will allow you to freely search for whatever you want, and have unlimited NZB files created for you. Sometimes I use the first site to find the shows, and search for them at the second site.

TV shows downloaded from newsgroups are usually in the form of volumized RAR archives. I’m sure you’ll know how to do this. There are also PAR files, for incomplete or broken archives. If an archive doesn’t extract properly, simply download all the PAR files available, and open the main PAR file with QuickPAR. Most of the time, your archive will be fixed. If not, the archive is either screwed up by the person who posted it, or you’re on a crappy newsgroup server and should switch to Giganews. By default, Newsbin will unRAR the file for you as it is downloaded. So that skips a step entirely – when the download is complete,  you will have a single video file.

Bit torrent is another way to download shows, but as I mentioned above, not the best solution for higher quality video. For shows like Survivor and Amazing Race, Bit Torrent is good because they usually have shows up faster than on newsgroups. The best place for TV torrents is EZTV.

If you already know how to play media files,  you can stop reading here. Go watch some HDTV!

Now you have your video file, which 9 times out of 10 will be an Xvid AVI file. I’m not sure why people still use XviD over DivX – it is MUCH slower than DivX, and the quality isn’t much better or worse. DivX used to come with spyware (although it only installed with permission) so I guess a lot of people are soured on that codec and haven’t forgiven them for it.

You probably already have either DivX or Xvid installed (they will work for each other). Most shows will work with Windows Media Player and these codecs. The 700 MB High Res Xvid files usually come with AC3 audio (I think MP3 still doesn’t support 5.1 surround sound), so you will need to install AC3Filter to listen. I may talk about how to set up AC3Filter later on, but the default settings should be good enough to get you started.

Some shows are released as MKV files, which is a container similar to AVI. These files are usually h.264, high quality, high res video with AC3 sound. For these, you will need an h.264 codec… And that’s a whole other headache. Some people like to install codec packs that are out there, but I have had those mess up my system before, so I like to keep things simple. The most popular is probably the K-Lite codec pack. There are also commercial codecs out there, like CoreAVC that work great with any media player you want. Again, this deserves more detail, and this blog post is REALLY getting long, so I better cut it off now.

This post SHOULD get you started. You now know how to download fast, where to look for shows, what to watch them with… Keep an eye on this site or subscribe to my feed, because I’ll be writing a lot more on this subject in the coming weeks and months. There is a LOT to talk about, believe me.

Written by Carl Nelson on July 10th, 2009

Tagged with ,

K-Rad has MOVED BACK TO CANADA! But I haven’t   no comments

Posted at 10:54 am in Personal Blog Nonsense

I decided that $200 HKD is just too much to pay to renew a domain, so I decided to let k-rad.ca expire. I still have k-rad.ca, and always will, so that’s what I’ll continue to use. I don’t mind paying $10 a year for a site that I rarely update, but $30 a year is just too much.

I just have way too much on my plate to worry about updating K-Rad regularly.

  • hardCOREware.net is still my main gig, and I just launched its 4th redesign in 10 years
  • Andrea and I just launched a site selling Japanese grooming & styling products
  • We are also getting ready to launch a new import video game store (I took HKToyz.com down last summer, and am going to completely revamp the way I sell games)
  • I launched a poker site last month that I haven’t even had the time to update in many weeks due to work on HCW
  • OK that doesn’t sound like much, but believe me it’s all very time consuming

Besides, the days of the “Personal Blog” are about to go I think. These days, it’s much easier to keep up with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Instead of writing long boring rants, it’s much easier just to post a quick blurb on Twitter, or post a note, link, or picture on Facebook.

I’ll continue to update K-Rad on occassion, so keep coming back. Be sure to subscribe to my feed, so you will never have to worry about what domain I’m using :)

Written by Carl Nelson on February 26th, 2009

Top 10 PPV Buyrates in 2008   5 comments

Posted at 10:47 pm in Personal Blog Nonsense

In case you’re wondering why Brock Lesnar got a championship bout after only 3 fights:

  1. Boxing: Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao, Dec. 6, 1,250,000 
  2. UFC: Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture, Nov. 15, 1,010,000 
  3. Wrestling: WrestleMania, Edge vs. Undertaker, March 30, 670,000 
  4. UFC: Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch/Lesnar vs. Heath Herring, Aug. 9, 625,000 
  5. UFC: Lesnar vs. Frank Mir, Feb. 2, 600,000 
  6. UFC: Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin, July 5, 540,000 
  7. UFC: St. Pierre vs. Matt Serra, April 19, 530,000 
  8. Boxing: Felix Trinidad vs. Roy Jones Jr., Jan. 19, 500,000 
  9. UFC: Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans, Sept. 6, 480,000 
  10. UFC: B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk/Tito Ortiz vs. Lyoto Machida, May 24, 475,000

If there’s any question that MMA has taken over Boxing as the #1 PPV sport in the US, there’s your answer. De La Hoya has the name power to draw 1 million buys, but not after that fight. He’s done (if you didn’t see the fight, he was dominated for 8 rounds by Pacquiao, and looked old and useless)

More interestingly, look whose name headlines the top 3 UFC events… There’s no question, Brock is now UFC’s biggest star, taking that position from Chuck Liddell. 

Source: Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer

Written by Carl Nelson on December 14th, 2008

Tagged with ,

Recipe: The Best Apple Pie You Will EVER Have… EVER   3 comments

Posted at 11:07 am in Food

December is here, and it’s time to get fat! No really, we love to bake goods this time of year, for ourselves, family, and friends. Last night we made this apple pie, and honestly, it is the best apple pie I ever had in my life. No joke. The recipe is quite unique, and the differences are clever solutions to various problems that are often encountered when baking a pie.

Ingredients

  • Your favourite 9 inch double pie crust recipe
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 7-8 Granny Smith apples, peeled & sliced
  • Cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit (220 C)
  • Melt butter in a sauce pan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add white sugar, brown sugar and water; bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, and simmer 5 minutes.
  • In a bowl, toss the sliced apples with enough cinnamon to coat them lightly
  • Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, and use lattice method for top crust

This is where the major difference is. Notice that the pie filling is still sitting in a saucepan, while you made a lattice top pie crust. This is very important! Lattice crusts are easier to do than they look, it only takes about 10 strips to cover a pie.

  • Now gently pour the pie filling mixture over the top of the crust, being careful not to spill over the edges. First try to fill the ‘gaps’ in the crust, then feel free to cover the thing entirely

  • Bake at 425 F (220 C) for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 350 F (175 C) for another 35 to 45 minutes

Because the sauce is on top of the crust, it not only forms a nice presentation with an amazing sticky gooey top crust, but the bottom crust does not get wet, so is able to quickly cook and ’set’ in the first 15 minutes of baking. After that, the sauce moves down, blends with the juices and sugars from the apples, and results in what I think is the best apple pie ever.

Let me know if you use this recipe! Credit: All Recipes.

Written by Carl Nelson on December 3rd, 2008

Tagged with

Just trying to win some money   no comments

Posted at 7:58 pm in Personal Blog Nonsense

This post is to enter a contest.. you can ignore it, or join the contest if you want. All you have to do is take a phrase from his contest page and fill in the blanks. Here’s my entry:

John Chow is holding a new contest to give away $6,000 in CASH! $5,000 would go to the charity of your choice and $1,000 will go to you to spend however you want. If I win, I would give the $5K to Child’s Play Charity/BC Children’s Hospital and I would put the $1,000 on my arm (in tattoo form of course).

The contest is being sponsored by XR.com. XR.com is a tiny url service that shortens URL length (just like TinyURL.com). Sign up for an account and check it out!

There you go, hope I win! I could use that money, and the charity could too!

Written by Carl Nelson on November 25th, 2008

Welcome to our family, Zoe and Jett!   2 comments

Posted at 12:59 am in Personal Blog Nonsense

When Kitty left us, we knew that we couldn’t live without another pet. We obviously didn’t intend to ‘replace’ her – nothing could replace her. But considering the joy that she brought to us – even a crabby cat like her – we knew that life without cat(s) is a sucky life indeed.

So we hit up the SPCA in Mong Kok to check out some cats that were up for adoption. Since the MK SPCA is in the ‘pet store’ area, we check out some of those as well.

You always hear about the poor conditions of pet stores, and how they are the last place you’d want to buy a pet. I didn’t know this when we got Kitty back in 1998, but I have since found out that it really isn’t the ideal way to get a cat. Some of the cats were actually very nice – this one British Shorthair in particular seemed really nice. But they were selling these shorthairs for like $3000 HKD and up! That’s over $400 for a plain ol’ domestic cat. There was this one baby kitten that I came across – he was sitting in a cage, and didn’t look older than 2 months. He probably shouldn’t have been taken away from his mother yet. When I approached him, I thought I saw him meowing at me, but I couldn’t hear him due to the noise (another crappy condition for pet stores). As I got closer though, I realized that this little baby kitten was hissing at me! A 2 month old kitten, already hissing at people! I can’t even imagine what some people must be doing to the poor thing.

Anyway, the SPCA at Mong Kok didn’t have any cats, but pointed us to the main location in Wan Chai, which had plenty to choose from. We spent 2 or 3 hours the first day, playing with cats of various ages. From 3 months to 3 years, there were cats of all types. Hyperactive kittens, curious cats that just wanted to watch from a distance, shy kitties that didn’t really want to interact with anyone. There were a few little kittens that we liked, but weren’t quite sure about it. Anyway, it would have been too late – we stayed about 30 minutes after closing, and wouldn’t have been able to adopt right away. It was a holiday that day as well, so it was really busy. You could barely get any one-on-one time with any of the cats, so it was even harder to make a decision.

We went back the next day, and while everyone else was working we got to spend a LOT of time playing with various cats. We had the whole place to ourselves for at least 3 hours. The young 3-month-old kittens are still the funnest to watch, but we weren’t sure if they were the right ones. Finally, I saw this beautiful young tabby waking up from a nap. I actually didn’t notice her at all the day before, because she was very shy and slept the whole time. This time, since it was quiet, we were able to try to coax her out. She was incredibly shy, and scared to come out and play. But as soon as we approached her with our hands, she became very affectionate and started purring immediately. Although she was still too shy to play out in the open, I knew she would be the right one for us. She is very slender, and has a pretty face with dark outlines around her eyes. She has beautiful spots on her soft furry belly as well, almost like a leopard. She arrived at the SPCA a few days earlier, after being rescued by inspectors. In other words, she was a stray cat, born in the city. She is about 5 months old.

The second cat we liked was just as shy, if not more. He was sharing a cage with another kitten, and was laying in the litter box. When we tried to approach him, he was also very welcome to petting. Once we started petting him and talking to him, he eventually came out of the litter box, and eventually out of the cage. When he finally came out, we saw that he was the blackest cat you could imagine – 100% black fur, with no white or grey hairs at all. Even his whiskers are pure black! His eyes are very small, and a dark green – almost like a camoflage colour. He is almost invisible in the dark. His reason for ending up at the SPCA? He was abandoned by his family because they “couldn’t get along” with him. Even meeting him for the first time, I thought there was no way he would be a troublesome cat… He is also about 5 months old.

So we made the decision to adopt the two most shy – but most friendly cats in the SPCA. We named them Zoe (a pretty girl’s name) and Jett (because he is ‘jet black’).

We were able to take Zoe home right away, because she wasn’t due to be spayed for another month. Jett, unfortunately, had to stay behind an extra few days to be neutered. Poor guy!

Zoe had a bit of a rough first day.. She was very scared, and it is a bit of a hike to the taxi stand from the SPCA. She ended up getting motion-sickness on the way there, and puked. She was also drooling a lot for the next few hours… I guess she was just really stressed from all the travel. She was pretty scared at first, but was very easily distracted by Kitty’s old toys. Whenever she started to look scared, we would play with her, and pet her. By the time Jett came home, she was just starting to get comfortable in her new surroundings.

Then Jett came home… We thought Jett would be just as scared, since they were both pretty scared when we first met them. But he was pretty much ready to explore the place right away! I guess the difference is that she was raised in the city, probably by her mother, and he was raised by a family who must have at least liked him at first, before getting tired of taking care of him.

They don’t really get along very well just yet. The first day was the worst – Jett would try to play with her all the time, but she would have none of it. She would growl and swat at him whenever he got close. It seems that he is too dumb to realize that this means she wants to be left alone, or at least take it slow, because he constantly runs at her! This scares her, pisses her off, and she ends up growling at him. This in turn scares him, and under the bed he goes.

They seem to be getting better by the hour though, and will actually sit together when we are around. Right now they are still ‘testing each other’. So far, no screaming or scratching, so we’ll let them sort things out. Hopefully it will be even better once Zoe gets spayed.

As far as their personalities go, we definitely picked the right cats. Zoe is a sassy girl, always vocalizing to the world, letting everyone know when she is happy or sad about something. She is extremely playful, and very smart. Her favourite toy is a string, which she uses to play tug of war. As soon as you let go of your end, she will drop it in front of you, and go “meow” which I guess means “another round!”

Jett is an absolute baby, which is why I call him Baby J. He is very affectionate, and wants nothing more than to cuddle with you. Once you pet him enough, he will get into a certain mood… he will start looking around, looking for somewhere to bury his head. Once he finds a spot, he will begin kneading it, and suckling like he was a weeks-old kitten. He does this ALL THE TIME and it is really cute. At first we thought it might be due to stress, but he seems really comfortable already, and he only does it when he is really happy. To think that his previous family said that they “couldn’t get along with him” boggles my mind. I will NEVER understand it, but I don’t mind – it’s to our benefit! We get to have him in our family, and they get to miss out on this awesome cat.

It’s really hard to take photos of Jett, since he is so dark. The camera’s autofocus can’t find him at all – even his eyes are too dark to focus on! He is also too dark to focus manually, for my skills anyway. There are no details on him to find the right sharpness. I will have to try bringing all the lamps I have into one room, and see if he’ll play in that environment. I did take several pics of Zoe, which you can find on my Facebook album right here (account not required). You’ll quickly see why we think she is so beautiful :)

I did snap this one photo of them sitting together. I used 3 exposures and merged them into HDR with Photoshop.. They don’t line up perfectly, so it’s a bit blurry. But at least you can see both of them pretty clearly! Not the best photo, I’ll have to take some more when it is brighter, when I am feeling better (yeah during all this time, I have had the worst sore throat of my life, including a pretty bad fever, chills, sweating, and body aches).

Written by Carl Nelson on October 7th, 2008

Remembering Kitty. 1998-2008   4 comments

Posted at 6:17 pm in Personal Blog Nonsense

It seems like yesterday, when I brought Andrea home from work and surprized her with… an empty litter box. Yeah, the idea was to bring home a Kitty for her, as a 1 year anniversary gift, and to have someone to be part of our new family. There were no cats up for adoption in Richmond at the time, so I had no choice but to give half the surprise at home, after which we headed out to Coquitlam and adopted Kitty.

When we were deciding which kitten to adopt, most of them didn’t pay much mind to us. They were all either sleeping, or terrorizing each other. However, Kitty responded to us by purring and snuggling when we pet her. So we brought her home.

Just short of 10 years later, we found ourselves at the veterinarian’s office last week. Kitty had developed a massive tumor on her head, and she was starting to get really sick. She had only eaten a little bit that day, and she seemed very lethargic.

The vet told us that a biopsy would be necessary to determine if it was malignant or not. But really, it didn’t look good at all. We all want to do whatever we can to keep our pets around, but at some point you have to consider their quality of life. Those who know Kitty, know that she does NOT like being outside her home. She panics immediately, as soon as she is in an unfamiliar environment. We didn’t want to subject her to sitting in a kennel for days, getting biopsies and being force-fed only to likely find out that the tumor (which had grown at an alarming rate to double the size of her head) would not be operable.

We decided to take her home, and try to make her comfortable for her last days. We weren’t sure how long that would be, but it wasn’t looking good. Eventually she lost the ability to hold down food and water, and she could barely walk more than a few steps. It was time for Kitty to go to rest.

I can’t describe the feeling of losing a beloved pet, so soon. So I won’t bother. Instead, I would rather remember what we loved about Kitty. She is a big part of our lives together – we had her for 10 of our 11 years together. There is much to remember.

We’ll remember that her original name was actually “Poopie” because, well, she was a poopie cat. From day 1, she had some poo on her leg, and had to be bathed before we could take her home. The poo problems continued, as she pooed on our pillows on the first night. Then she pooed on the bed after that. Sometimes, she would walk up to us when we were watching TV, let off a fart, and then walk away. As it turns out, the food we were giving her was not agreeing with her; as soon as we switched brands this problem went away.

We’ll remember turning around in the middle of the night, only to have Kitty’s little butt sticking in our face.

We’ll never forget the day she decided to leap off our 3rd storey balcony, landing on concrete below. It was her first ‘heat’, and we weren’t sure what to expect. What we didn’t expect was that she would start sprinting all over the apartment, and just take a flying leap out the open window. She grabbed onto the wall with her claws, and I head Andrea scream “OH NO!” Before we could react, her grip let go, and she fell to the ground. We ran outside, and found her hiding in a corner. She was in shock, and we took her to the emergency clinic. She turned out okay – she didn’t have a concussion or any broken bones. She was just a bit scared.

I remember how she used to love sitting in my pants when I was on the toilet taking a dump. I guess it made for a comfortable hammock-like experience for her… Whatever!

I’m sure a lot of people have similar experiences – Kitty used to love getting our attention while we were trying to type. Her best method of doing so? Walk across the keyboard, smashing random keys. Somehow, she was always able to hit Enter when she was done.

We’ll forever remember her first meeting with Myrtle, the turtle we adopted from Andrea’s Mom when we moved to a new apartment. We weren’t sure what to expect, since Kitty never really had experiences with other animals. As it turned out, they got along very well. We used to let Myrtle out of his tank to walk around, and Kitty used to LOVE just following him around, watching him. You could tell that she wasn’t hunting or stalking him – she was just really curious.

Kitty was naughty sometimes, and would let us know when we were being bad. For some reason, we hadn’t cleaned her litter box for a few days. Kitty would have none of it, and one day we came home to an excruciating stench. The source of the smell was – sure enough – a giant mushy turd she left on the top of our bed. Unlike normal cat poo, it wasn’t a hard log that you could pick up and toss in the garbage. No, this was a soft one that had soaked into the blanket a bit. We didn’t even bother washing it – we just threw it in the garbage. We couldn’t be mad at Kitty though, because it was our own fault. Her plan worked though – we made sure she had a nice clean litter box at all times!

Kitty never liked scratching posts. Maybe that’s because I stepped on hers and broke it. However, she found the next best thing – an old couch. From that day on, she would never touch any scratching posts we bought for her.

We’ll remember how much she loved going outdoors when we moved to a house in 2003. When she was in her own environment, Kitty was fierce. And there was nothing we could do to placate her besides let her go out every day.

This lead to problems as, well, Kitty doesn’t really get along well with other cats. We heard her fighting in the backyard many times, and more often than not would come back with tufts of orange and white fur in her mouth. One time there was so much orange and white fur on our lawn, I thought our neighbor’s cat had exploded or something!

Kitty had hairball problems on and off, and would cough up hairballs in the weirdest places. The strangest (and most inconvenient): Inside Andrea’s Mom’s baby grand piano (sorry!). Eventually, Kitty figured out that she should cough up hairballs in a convenient place for us to clean up.

As you can guess, Kitty was a bully. Her favourite target was not another cat, or a hamster, or anything like that. It was Andrea’s brother, Aaron. When we moved in together, Kitty liked to hang out on the staircase. If you walked by her, she would just ignore you. But for some reason, she didn’t really like Aaron walking by her – I think it was the huge baggy pants he wore. Kitty would always chase Aaron up the stairs because of those pants – for years!

Kitty had full access to the whole house, except for one room – Andrea’s Mom’s. Mom kept the door closed, just to make sure Kitty didn’t ‘destroy’ anything or leave any presents on her bed. But for some reason, Kitty wanted nothing to do with any of the rooms, except that one. She would wait and wait in front of the closed door, and as soon as it was ever opened, she would try to run inside to check it out. Don’t tell anyone this, but sometimes when Andrea’s Mom wasn’t around, we would let Kitty in to roam around. She loved to just sleep in the closet. Of course, we supervised this to keep her out of trouble.

Like many cats, Kitty was confused by mirrors. Just as she wanted to see what was in Mom’s bedroom, she also wanted to see what was behind that invisible barrier that was in the bathroom. We would often find her in the bathroom, trying to find a weak spot in the mirror to get through… I guess she didn’t realize that it was her own reflection she was looking at. Ooops!

Kitty didn’t like toys very much, but there were a few things around the house she loved to play with. When we came home from the grocery store, she would quickly claim any shopping bags, and use it as a bed. The same goes for empty boxes – if she can fit inside it, she will sit in there for hours. She was also fond of cardboard tubes from paper towels… The only actual toy that she ever liked was a little mouse attached to a spring. Eventually she just kept the mouse, and it stayed with her until her last days.

We could go on and on, but I think I will stop right here. It feels a lot better to go through just a few of the happy memories we have of Kitty, which will be with us forever, even though she is gone. After all, that’s what Kitty did best – she made us feel good about our little ‘family’ and gave us something to look forward to when coming home from wherever we were.

Written by Carl Nelson on September 22nd, 2008