Alcatraz!

One of the creepiest places I ever set foot in, other than Alcatraz, was an abandoned animal research facility on the Peninsula. Besides the stainless steel surfaces and sinks, the scarred tiles and dissection room drains, it was the smell which made some guys’ hair stand on their neck. Nowadays, the place is loaned to Bay Area police departments to practice room clearing with blank ammunition. As to Alcatraz itself, much of its creepiness has to do with the location I think, sitting as it does between San Francisco’s touristic waterfront and Angel Island State Park. The notion of keeping people in tiny concrete cages in the midst of paradise.

On a lighter note, one of the first things we discovered upon arrival was jellybeans.

001 jellybeans b

Understandably, the parts of Alcatraz we were most interested in were closed off to the public, such as the old military parade grounds, taken over by migratory birds. From where we stood, however, we could only see and hear the ubiquitous Seagulls, permanent squatters in more and more places around the bay. Starting at the dock where visitors get dropped off, the ascent towards the main prison building is relatively steep, but worth walking, rather than riding up in the wagons shuttling people to and from.

Building 64 is the oldest building on the Alcatraz. It was housing that was built over the top of the army barracks which had been there since the 1860s.
Building 64 is the oldest building on the Alcatraz. It was housing that was built over the top of the army barracks which had been there since the 1860s.

Provided you come on the earliest tour, before 9 am, walking enables you to take in sights more fully and take the occasional picture without getting photo bombed as the island gets pretty crowded with tourists before noon. Most buildings on Alcatraz share much of their visual appeal with other local examples of 19th century institutional architecture found at the Presidio, on Angel Island and Fort Point, to name a few.

The old Post Exchange burned during the Native American occupation of Alcatraz in the 70s.
The old Post Exchange burned during the Native American occupation of Alcatraz in the 70s.
Broken window in the New Industries building
Broken window in the New Industries building
The morgue
The morgue

The prison’s buildings also appear more dilapidated, enhancing the haunted feeling many visitors feel. The warden’s house only retains four walls and the fireplace, for instance, but is positively cheerful, compared to the cell blocks, and especially the few cells dedicated to solitary confinement. The only time these cells were lit was when they were unoccupied.

The prison as seen from the recreation yard
The prison as seen from the exercise yard
Prison window
Prison window
Bill Baker, a former inmate was there selling his book. If you click on his name above, it will take you to an interesting article about him.
Bill Baker, a former inmate was there selling his book. If you click on his name, it will take you to an interesting article about him.

There is currently an art exhibit offered for free on Alcatraz, by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Part of the exhibit is on display in the prison’s hospital which is usually closed to the public.

With Wind by Ai Weiwei
With Wind by Ai Weiwei

This means we got to see more on this trip than most visitors usually get to take in.
An audio tour is available once you enter the main prison building: a recorder is handed to you free of charge, with headphones. Sadly, this means people walk about following the recording’s directions, sometimes stopping abruptly in groups, by this cell, or that, blocking doors and hallways.

Solitary, in cell block D
Solitary, in cell block D
The hospital, normally closed to visitors
The hospital, normally closed to visitors
The hospital
The hospital
Wheelchair in the hospital
Wheelchair in the hospital

At some point in the near future, we will return to the Island, this time for a night tour of Alcatraz, in hopes to experience and capture something different.
Meanwhile we hope you enjoy these images…

The Prison. We didn’t take as many pics inside the prison as it was so awfully crowded.

@Large, is the name of the Weiwei exhibition. The link will take you the website with great descriptions and meanings of the various exhibits.

@Large turns Alcatraz into a space for dialogue about how we define liberty and justice, individual rights and personal responsibility. In artworks that balance political impact with aesthetic grace, the exhibition directly and imaginatively addresses the situation of people around the world who have been deprived of their freedom for speaking out about their beliefs — people like Ai himself.

These are the photos taken everywhere else on the island. The gardens have been lovingly restored by scores of volunteers. The bulk of the garden photos are from the prisoner’s garden adjacent to the exercise yard.

 

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Beyond the Golden Gate: the Kitty Kat’s whale watching adventure

Rudha-an here with a bit of a description of the weather and sea conditions. One large storm had ended the day before and another very large storm was due the next day. The sky was mostly clear but we were dealing with 15 foot swells the entire time we were out. This made photography difficult and downright impossible at times. While we did not manage any whale pics due to distance, we got plenty of other pics.

This was our whale watching boat. It was aptly named.
This was our whale watching boat.

Follow along as Lastech tells you about our day.

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Caturday: The angry pooper

Like a Soviet tank in the streets of Prague, Titanescu has trouble maneuvering in litter boxes shared with the other two cats, especially after “contributions” have already been made.
Or maybe he’s OCD.
We heard familiar sounds yesterday, sounds which play an ominous soundtrack when arranged together, like the Devil’s Galop. Pellets exploding from the litter box and clattering on the hardwood floor like filthy rain.
A body, landing hard on its feet, clawing at the floor, followed by the hollow thump of another landing, this time in the bathtub. The frantic scratching of the enamel.

What on Ceiling Cat’s green Earth?

Rhuda-an made it to the bathroom just in time to watch Titanescu fixing his death stare upon her as he finished dropping the kids off at the pool.
The second he was done, he leapt out of the tub and skittered out furiously towards the kitchen.
Apparently he’d made a first deposit in the litter box, found it crowded and hurled elsewhere, anywhere, to complete his “movement”.
Titanescu’s version of Angry Birds is that if there aren’t enough unsoiled pellets in the box, he will throw himself at the tub to bake his cake.

The tub. Where humans clean themselves. That’s a message…

Note from Rudha-an: The pellets referred to is Feline Pine. I get the pellets as I don’t like the scoopable version.

As much as he practices his death stare, Tito just doesn't have it in him.
As much as he practices his death stare, Tito just doesn’t have it in him.
Miss Jenny is better with the  stinkeye than the death stare
Miss Jenny is better with the stinkeye than the death stare
Titanescu  owns the death stare. He perfected it long ago.
Titanescu owns the death stare. He perfected it long ago.


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Old coot blues: fat lip and foul hiss

A taciturn cypher like Lee Marvin or Jean Gabin, ‘Scu romps through the apartment like an early 70’s Pontiac with a big inch motor and skinny tires, with lots of noise and little traction. Skid-skid-skid-BAM!
And no brakes to speak of. Even the other two are just spectators, turning to us just to make sure we saw it too. Entertaining? You bet.
Yeah, but he’s dangerous all right. Tito’s found out more than once that trying to wrap a paw around Titanescu’s shoulders and trying to lick him forcefully results in a quick smack down, jiu-jitsu-like, with the old cat towering over him. There’s no viciousness though, just a quick throw down and they move on.
But even when he tries to snuggle up to the humans, the magnificent bastard is full of peril.
Partly because he likes to stretch and his claws come out as a result, Wolverine-like.

So I was getting texts at work last Sunday from Rhuda-an, lurid descriptions about severe pain on one side of her face. Talking about a possible trip to the Emergency Room, even. Something about a fat lip following a puncture.
One thing about Titanescu enjoying naps on his humans is that he sometimes will accidentally stick a claw in tender flesh. Another thing is that… Well, he’s a bit nasty. I guess that’s why Tito tries to bathe him occasionally, and he deserves mucho praise for his hygienic efforts.
Because frankly, there is no way I would ever try and bathe the Ancient One: I need my fingers and I only have one face. He could alter the course of my existence in one swipe. People just have no idea, none, about how strong he is.
But. he also is not the daintiest cat, very far from it. So when that claw went into her lip on what we guess must have been Saturday or possibly Friday, she made the oh-so-sorry mistake of waiting for it to hurt before deploying Peroxide and Neosporin.

What do I tell people at work when they ask how was my weekend? Oh, I watched a movie, pretty sure it was “Apocalypse Now”, but I think it had Edward Scissorhands in it.

Uh-huh… Yeah.

Rudha-an here. After seeing a doc and getting a scrip for an antiobiotic, my face and lip are slowly returning to normal.

I have been trying to sort some pics from our last walk in the rain and I finally got it done. Here they are. We played around with different settings on our phone (Samsung S3), which will explain why there are two pics of the bridge, etc.

Bay Bridge by Rudha-an
Bay Bridge by Rudha-an
Heavy Drizzle by Lastech
Heavy Drizzle by Lastech
San Francisco Belle by Lastech
San Francisco Belle by Lastech
The Dock by Lastech
The Dock by Lastech

From the pier, we went over to Fort Point to see the Bridge. The sun was beginning to break through the clouds.

Skyline from Fort Point by Rudha-an
Skyline from Fort Point by Rudha-an
Another view of the skyline from Fort Point by Rudha-an
Another view of the skyline from Fort Point by Rudha-an
Golden Gate Bridge by Rudha-an
Golden Gate Bridge by Rudha-an
The Bridge in B & W with only the reds and yellows coming through by Rudha-an
The Bridge in B & W with only the reds and yellows coming through by Rudha-an
Another view of the skyline in blues this time by Lastech
Another view of the skyline in blues this time by Lastech
The skyline in black & white by Lastech
The skyline in black & white by Lastech

From Fort Point we wandered over to Crissy Field.

Crissy Field by Lastech
Crissy Field by Lastech
Alcatraz (right) and Angel Island (left) by Lastech
Alcatraz (right) and Angel Island (left) by Lastech
Crissy Field by Lastech
Crissy Field by Lastech
Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge by Rudha-an
Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge by Rudha-an
Happy bird by Lastech
Happy bird by Lastech


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Caturday: countenances

I want to try something mildly different with today’s pictures. Evidently they are black and white, but I also altered Titan and Tito’s in particular given how dark their fur is to begin with.
Nothing real fancy as the modifications were done on my phone, it’s just that the phone offers so much more flexibility and convenience, to me at least.

Hard to believe that only a few years ago we had to wait for the roll to come back from the lab to see what we’d captured.
Because each of the Pointy Eared people has their own unique blend of beauty, charm and humor, even, this means hours of staring and contemplation. But you get it.

I call it time well spent.

Деньги глаз дьявола.
Деньги глаз дьявола.

The old Marshal reminisces about Romania… I need to find an online counter like those used in factories to post number of days without an accident. Except it’d be to post the number of days without getting bit.
Or slapped.
Or hissed at.
Meh. That’s just the way the old Klingon loves us…

The little starlet readying for her close up
The little starlet readying for her close up

Without harping on too much over that stuff, the Feliway works wonders with Jenny and also the others. I wish we had known of this when Mazuzu Whang was still with us.

The gentleman cat
The gentleman cat

I didn’t have a chance to record or otherwise take pictures of the fireworks show last night at work, but this is much better anyway. Except for the soundtrack.

I can’t stand that bastard Boccelli, but I hope you enjoy this video taken by a drone flying through the pyrotechnics…


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Caturday: the slow blink of the brown eye or “baked”offerings

Typical old man Titanescu is… Typical.  We knew he loved nothing like a good meal, and now that we got 40 pounds of his preferred litter, we discovered his other passion.
As soon as the litter was replaced, Titanescu camped himself in the box to release brown sewer trouts into it. The satisfied half closed eyes told the story of what the younger two take for granted. The light butt-waggle as he settled down to the business of uncoiling rope was purr gratitude.

Titanescu looking contented. Tito (background) looking nervous
Titanescu looking contented. Tito (background) looking nervous
Miss Jenny sharing smells with Titanescu
Miss Jenny sharing smells with Titanescu
Miss Jenny showing off her weapon of mass destruction
Miss Jenny showing off her weapon of mass destruction
As you can tell, Miss Jenny really rules the roost. The boys look nervous.
As you can tell, Miss Jenny really rules the roost. The boys look nervous.

As to Miss Nightshade Jenny, she gives me the Feliway Blues while we wait for a new cartridge from Amazon… Given her newfound relaxed state and confidence, she has given up one of her more obnoxious habits: lâcher des caisses, péter comme une vache.

So here I sits, with Neil Diamond hits running through my head.

“You don’t fart me ghost shits
You don’t belch from behind
You hardly let her rip
When you come through the door
At the end of the day
You don’t fart on me anymore”
And I miss it(?)….

As for Tito.. He’s just his normal sweet self. He plays the straight guy for Titan and Miss Jenny.


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Looking for Ceiling Cat, from attics to foundations

For the past two to three months or so, the pain in my hands and fingertips made it virtually impossible to sit down and type. But I’m finally getting used to spending the day wrestling with tools, cutting sheet metal, pulling and bending recalcitrant panels off furnaces in order to service them.

With my current job, the first stop of the day’s a warm up, working out the kinks and pushing through the aches and pains. I do enjoy climbing up into attics and crawling under foundations, places with a gothic feel, in spite of rat turds, fiberglass insulation mixed with rodents’ crap and sometimes their decaying carcasses.

Blake was right, long is the way, and hard that leads to Ceiling Cat…

Keep your head down or look like Hellraiser's Pinhead...
Keep your head down or look like Hellraiser’s Pinhead…

I once had to scrape off Mickey Maus’ dessicated corpse off a furnace blower it was ‘stuck’ to, almost rested my head on a mummified rat which looked like gloopy foam insulation, and breathed the stench from the bloated, whitened corpses of a bunch of rats laid in rat poison.

mummified rat
The rat formerly known as Squeaky Fromage…

I could have used a cat or two at times, especially under foundations, if only for the company. Last week, I had to use another technician’s van since he’d called off sick. On my second appointment, I finished after the customers had left the house. I duly locked up everything, got back in the van and realized I’d left my clipboard with paperwork and payment on the kitchen counter. Ooops. I Walked around the house, trying windows (all locked), in a hurry in case neighbors got suspicious, until I found the doggie door in the back. I reached in and unlocked the handle, but the door refused to budge, stuck as it was in its misaligned frame.

The dog even stopped barking, cocking his head sideways “whatcha gonna do?!?

I managed to wriggle myself through the doggie door, made it to the kitchen, grabbed my stuff and back out through the front door again… At my next and last stop, I inspected the furnace, and went to check what size filter they would need. The intake was on the ceiling, but no problem! I’d grab the ladder from -… Ooops. I’d left the ladder on the porch of the previous home. In another city...

I’ve found a couple of sayings in HVAC to be true. One is “on this job, you’re gonna bleed”. And sure enough there’s dried blood stains on our seats and steering wheels. Another expression is “get ready to s..k the day’s d..k”. As Bart Simpson put it,  sometimes “it blows and sucks at the same time, what I thought was a physical impossibility”

Oh but, this is what I look forward to, coming home to this every day, in this case, Miss Jenny on catnip…. Until


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Caturday: go figure…

Note from Rudha-an: Lastech wrote most of this post. I wrote the bit about Titanescu. It was a joint effort, but he did most of the work. 🙂

Miss Jenny has been picking up an annoying habit lately. Some time at night, she’ll pick up one of her balls with her front paws then toss it or just drop it.  The sound of her hard plastic toy with the pieces of tin inside hitting the floor wakes me instantly.

I now hide the toy in question every evening. But that got me thinking about all the odd stuff the pointy eared ones do. Once in a while I’ll find a present on the bed near my pillow. Nothing gross, just odd… Jenny leaves me the occasional wine cork or curiouser yet, the odd potato.

Miss Jenny: Dreaming of taters, birdies and mayhem
Miss Jenny: Dreaming of taters, birdies and mayhem

Why? What goes on behind those blue peepers? The Boober had his own eccentricities. Like loving my singing Corsican songs to him. From across the room he’d look up wide eyed then amble over to sit on my chest purring. I couldn’t begin to tell you how we started this routine, he and I, let alone why he only reacted to this particular type of song.

Kitsy the Space Oddity rabbit kicked me the first time I blew raspberries on his gut, but he grew to enjoy the attention. With him, it wasn’t just one odd thing. The way he did everything was strange and entertaining.

OddBooberKitsy.jpg
Rest in peace our babies. We miss you

Tito likes to spoon water off the fountain with his paw to drink it. And when he begs for food it’s usually for another cat. Go figure…

Tito's big yawn
Tito’s big yawn

Rudha-an: Titanescu is still showing us who he really is. His real oddities will shine through at some point.

Titanescu having a nap with dad. This is very dangerous. If Lastech wishes to move, he must do so VERY slowly or risk multiple lightning fast paw strikes. Titanescu does NOT like to be disturbed
Titanescu having a nap with dad. This is very dangerous. If Lastech wishes to move, he must do so VERY slowly or risk multiple lightning fast paw strikes. Titanescu does NOT like to be disturbed

Why are the pointy eared people so weird at times? The video says it all. 🙂


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Caturday: pinky scritches and Swedish massages

Kitties always let you know how much force and speed is appropriate while you pet them. That is if you pay the least bit of attention, because distraction might make you bleed. Tito likes a Swedish massage with both hands on, one palm cupping his forehead, the other raking his fur from shoulder to the base of the tail. He prefers to lay in your lap, and it’s best if you happen to sit on the edge of the bathtub, since that’s where he stores his toys… He likes being close to them.

The way he lets you know to slow things down a bit is by digging his claws in your kneecaps. Once he goes from digging to pulling, you went too far… Amazingly, he sometimes enjoys belly rubs and getting his fur ruffled a little bit. Countless times a day he throws himself on our feet and rolls back and forth meowing and purring loudly. I sometimes pick him up so he can rub his face against mine while admiring the paint on the ceiling.

Tito
I can haz pettings?

Titanescu enjoys fingers raking the fur between his ears and above his eyes. He also appreciates the occasional scritches at the corners of his mouth and chin, so long as you don’t go too far down his neck. And it’s always best to let him smell your fingers before touching him. And you gotta keep it light, without dragging it out too long. One pinkie for one minute is just about right.

Titanescu
Yes, he needs a good brushing, but I would need a full set of armor before attempting it

Miss Jenny prefers to start out slow, fingers lightly raking from chin to tail, until she starts purring and stretching. Her favorite spot is the top of the cat tower, where she can push her arched back against the rim. You can then pet her more heavily, at which point it’s guaranteed she will fart. She looks at you as if to say she’s been brewing that methane just for you. Do you like it? Do you? She’s also been known to reach out and grab the glasses off my face, running scared when they clatter on the floor…

Miss Jenny
I saves my poots just for you

Petting chart

Now it’s time for another Shorty and Kodi video. We can relate to this. We just put up new drapes. The sheers are shredded and the drapes are now wearing a fur fringe. Be sure to visit their Youtube page or Facebook page.


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Caturday: the perils of socialization

Life in JBoD’s Zooniverse looks like one big feline slumber party. All our cats have at some point learned to cuddle and sleep with one another, and we have the cute photos to prove it. Nurse Jenny loves to sleep on Tito for instance. A couple of licks on his head and she flops on top of him. Even though their occasional sessions of mutual grooming degenerate into a Klingon ritual with tufts of fur flying, none of them has ever been that much upset or worse from wear.

Tito and Miss Jenny wrestle and peck at each other until only one remains in the basket to sleep, but there are no hard feelings, even after some pretty brutal bouts.

Tito and Miss Jenny
Awwwwwwww

Which brings us to Titanus Grumpicus, that old gulag heavyweight…

Titanescu
Titanescu sleeps

Against her better judgment, which was sadly never that great to begin with, Miss Jenny continues her efforts in R&D, Rapprochement and Détente. She even managed to rest her head against Titanescu’s rump while he dozed off the other day, until he turned to glare at her. We suspect he has tattoos of onion-domed towers on his back, hidden under his fur, along with Russian iconography all done in black ink.

Miss Jenny and Titanescu
Alas, Grumpicus remains aloof

Titanescu doesn’t really know how to play, although there are signs he might like to: he will stretch at the bottom of the cat tower and sharpen his claws on it, prompting either Tito or Jenny to go into stalking mode. But when he’s at rest is not the time to come goad him. While not ferocious, he’ll swiftly throw the younger cat down and maybe swallow a tuft of fur for good measure. As the expression goes, Titanescu is not violent, he is competent. He doesn’t go overboard: a quick toss, maybe a push of the teeth, enough to have Jenny cry “uncle”.

Until her next social experiment in R&D…

Now, for a musical interlude with Shorty and Kodi. Be sure to visit their Youtube page or Facebook page.


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