Jasper passes

When we bought the house in Grand Forks we were warned there was a cat from the previous owner hanging around.

We didn’t see him for over a year until one day my Laurel said “I think that cat’s here.”

The next day Laurel, my wife and friend of 16 years, was killed on the highway.

The day after that this orange tabby cat showed up at my back door. Hungry, thirsty and cold.

The neighbour saw him and said: “I see you’ve met Jasper.”

Jasper sleeping in the big chair.
Dream on little buddy.

This was a point of coincidence: one of the cats we brought with us was named Casper.

Then she told me that Jasper had been the cat who lived there.
He’d been born there and when the owner, Jasper’s human, lost the house had moved with him to a house on Hardy Mountain Road.
A month or so before my wife was killed that house burned down and Jasper’s human died.

So Jasper made his way home … to the only other house he’d ever known.

And found me.

I took him in: The Universe took my wife away and gave me a cat in return – I wasn’t about to turn him away.

I could go on and on about what a good cat he was but if you’re a cat person you know and if you’re not it wouldn’t make sense.

He was smart. He listened. He understood quite a lot that way.

He appreciated affection but he wasn’t a suck up. I gave him as much attention as he wanted and let him leave when he was sated.

He liked having a home but he needed to go out.

Jasper was a good predator. After we moved my neighbour mentioned to me how much he appreciated Jasper keeping down the small pests that damaged his landscaping.

Never pushy or needing to dominate but willing to defend his turf until blindness and old age made that a losing game.

He was always trim: never fat.

He had a minor heart murmur but that wasn’t a problem.

Jasper’s thyroid became more active than it needed to be so he got medication twice a day over the last few years. He never fought you over it (though he could struggle a bit).

He was one of those cats that knew about claws and skin and I never got a scratch from him unless it was my fault (but I can’t remember any incidents at all).

IF he didn’t use his litter box it was for a reason and then he wouldn’t go on the floor or carpet, no – he would go in the sink or the tub or in something. Which made cleaning up a lot easier for me. I appreciated that.

A while back the lens in his right eye became detached. Last year the other one went leaving him essentially blind. He could detect light and dark and sense moving shapes in front of him but he was blind.

But he coped. And he still went outside – he wanted to. He didn’t stray off the yard (I think). And fortune in the choice of house gave him a little safe space behind bars right near the front door where he could await our return.

This all slowed him down a bit but it didn’t stop him.

But there was this lump … in his throat.

It was there one day a few years back. Sometimes it was hard to find but it grew.

It never got so large as you’d notice it from afar but … eventually, recently, it affected his swallowing.

And he took in less food and water … and his energy levels dropped and his health was affected: He began to shut down.

We fed him tuna – he liked that when it was still wet but eventually he went off it.

We got him wet cat food paté and he’d try that for a little bit but eventually he ate less and less.

I’d see him amble over to the feeding area and find the water dish. He’d lean in for a drink and then stop and grumble and then try again and grumble some more and eventually get a bit to drink.
But each time it was less and with draining energy levels it was harder and less frequent.

The last few days he didn’t move far – could quite make the litter box. Ahh gee … I don’t mind that.

He was in such a state I took him to the vet this morning and said: Make him feel better or make him not feel.

She examined him and told me any respite she could give him was only temporary – he’d relapse and eventually shut down.

So we brought him to his end as peacefully as we could.

I will miss him.

I’ve had many cats – almost my whole life there’s been cats around.

But he stands out in that group as one of my all time favourites. One I’ll never forget, of course.

Jasper lived 15 years (I think it was). I know he had a loving home and was never alone for the last 7 of those.

I am glad we met.
Even though he was only a feline I’ve always considered him a friend; a fellow traveller on this path through life.

But the Universe only loans you things and creatures and people for a while … eventually it takes it all back.


Novel Material generates electricity from moisture differential

In this article in New Scientist they report: ‘Electricity has been squeezed from a damp surface for the first time, thanks to a polymer film that curls up and moves – a bit like an artificial muscle – when exposed to moisture’

In a previous post I referred to a solar chimney concept that essentially is a synthetic, inside out, tree. Key to my concept is a energy generating ‘leaf’ that uses generates electricity from the mechanical energy involved in flipping between two physical state configurations. As air flows by the bistable ‘leaf’ flips back and forth and with each flip a small amount of electrical energy is derived.

As I was reading the New Scientist article above I was reminded of this concept since the polymer mentioned in the article is performing a similar bistable shape flip-flop and generating electricity as it does so … not that far off my leaf requirements except for the fact it requires a surface and moisture.

But … it gives me hope …


Should we allow the news to lie to us?

This was originally posted to Facebook Jan 17, 2013 by me.

Sometimes a weird thought rambles through my head and leaves a more lasting impression. I had one the other day and it keeps coming back … this is my way of exorcising it so bear with me, please …
Should we allow the news to lie to us?

In the mid 1990’s in the US state of Florida there was a legal case that had the result of seeing a court state that television news programs do not have to tell the truth.
What the court actually said was that the FCC rules on this DO NOT rise to the level of a LAW since those rules were created by people that were not elected and laws are the province of elected officials only.
What it effectively has done is to tell the television industry in the USA that they can LIE ON THE NEWS and they will not be breaking any law.
Since then we’ve seen the flowering of a whole new range of flora in the television news garden: stinkweeds.
I’m referring to FOX News in large part but they aren’t the only ones – just the smelliest.
News anchors that harp on and on for years about things that have been legally settled such as whether or not their president was born in the USA. Networks that give succour and shelter to thinking and behaviours that a respectable journalist should shy away from and be ashamed to be seen in public with. Because it’s lies and supposition wrapped in a shiny package and passed off as ‘news’ and ‘truth’ to a viewing public that shovels it in with completely naive belief that they are getting the truth and can trust those they see on their TV.

In the 1960’s cable TV became a reality and Canadian cable companies began bringing in television from the USA for viewing in Canadian homes.
Television stations in Canada began to see a loss in viewers because of the competition. This was part of impetus that led the government to create the CRTC in 1968 to try and deal with this situation.

Over the years a lot has changed in the mix of technologies that give us media for consumption and television has lost a lot of viewers to recorded media, games and the online experience.
Home video recorders were the first real attack on TV and one effect of that battle was that the networks shifted from seeing their news divisions as a community service that the other parts of their businesses paid for to things that had to stand on their own and pay for themselves. This happened as the 70’s turned into the 80’s and we had the rise of infotainment with ABC Nightline packaging the embassy hostage taking in Iran over hundreds of days and the birth of a 24 hour all news satellite channel, CNN.
Since then the attacks on viewer counts has been relentless: Satellite TV, PC’s, game consoles, the World Wide Web, mobile web, social networking.
As a result of all of this Television has been searching for ways to stave off the losses of viewers with different strategies. And outrageous content has been one result. So called reality television with low, low costs becomes a competetor in the mix. That ‘Big News’ has to compete with … so you get people like Glen Beck on news channels. I know he’s not there anymore but he’s just a particularly loony example of the kind of lunacy that passes for content on some US television news channels. ‘Tabloid journalism’ on TV for your entertainment so your eyeballs can be sold to advertisers. And if it stretches the truth a bit … too bad – there’s no law saying they can’t do that.
And when their on air personalities start parroting loony paranoid fantasies as if they rise to the level of a serious, reasoned discussion, they love it because the ratings just go up.

Well I’m not in the USA. I live in Canada.
I’d like to know if we have a law in Canada that says you have to tell the truth on television NEWS in Canada or not.
IF we do not then why not?
If we do then I’d like to know why it is that cable companies can bring news programs into our homes that lie to the viewers.
Does the ‘must not lie’ law only pertain to over-the-air broadcasts and broadcasters?
If so, how can that be fair to both those broadcasters AND us consumers?
I realize that even if there is a law it would hard to enforce.
Ask Shaw, Bell and Rogers to stop carrying some major US networks? Like that will fly …
Make them put a warning label before or over top of the news broadcasts that states they may not be telling the truth? Like cigarette packaging showing the harm?
Gee I don’t know … like I said at the top, this thought got lodged in my head.

Ok, that was the post. In doing some research on this I found that a number of people / groups out there go to extra lengths to point out aspects of the case such as whether or not the jury in the original case thought this or that. Ignore the nitty gritty of the original case and just remember that there was the idea of telling lies in TV News journalism.
The meat of the matter, as regard this posting, is the judicial result later on when FOX and a couple of other media companies successfully argued that FCC rules about truth in reporting TV News are NOT LAWS. And by implication telling lies in newscasts is not breaking any actual law and therefore not illegal.

That’s in the U.S.A. where I do not live.

Is there a law here in my country, Canada, regarding this? – that’s my question.