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November 29, 2008

Farewell to a great cat

We said goodbye to a beloved family member today.

Kolja, our male Russian Blue cat, was euthanised this morning after succumbing to complications from feline diabetes. He would have been 13 in February.

Kolja joined our family in 1996, when he was just a few months old. He quickly bonded with our then-5-year-old Siamese cat, Marcel. They became great friends and were inseparable until Marcel passed away in 2003. Kolja had a calm, relaxed temperament. He loved to be part of the action, but never forced himself upon anyone. He was always pleasant to be around, and eager for a warm lap upon which to sleep.

In early 2007, Kolja was diagnosed with feline diabetes. We received this news somewhat with relief, as we knew the disease was manageable. Kolja responded to insulin treatment favorably, and with changes to his diet bounced back to normal health. In the last few months of his life, however, he suffered from renal failure. And, we believe that is what ultimately took his life. We returned from dinner last night to find him listless and unresponsive. He wouldn't eat or drink, and his nictitating membranes almost completely covered his eyes. We knew that his time on Earth was drawing to a close, so we made him as comfortable as possible. Although we didn't expect it, he made it through the night. He went to sleep for the last time shortly after 9:00 am this morning.

We will miss him greatly. He lived a good life and brought us much joy, so we have no regrets. Rest in peace, little buddy.

More pictures from his life can be found here.

July 04, 2006

Happy 230th Birthday, United States

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

March 21, 2006

Support the DMCRA

The EFF have introduced a bill to Capitol Hill (cue Schoolhouse Rock song) which would amend the reviled DMCA. Specifically, it allows the reintroduction of "Fair Use" which the **AA are trying to quash. Consumers would be allowed to make backups of their media, provided they are not using it illegally. I can't begin to express how incensed I get every time I have to circumvent some lame attempt at copy protection on a CD, just so I can rip it for my MP3 player.

The EFF make it easy for you to send a letter to your representative. Just fill out their form, edit the body of the email (if you wish), and send. I've already sent my email.

July 30, 2003

Septoplasty

For the past 4+ months, I've been experiencing the agony of sinusitis. Coupled with my chronic reactive airway disease/asthma, I was pushing the limits of my tolerance for discomfort. Having finally reached the breaking point (and at the persistant urging of my wife), I made an appointment to see an otolaryngologist (aka Ear/Nose/Throat doctor) on July 16. After a brief endoscopic examination of my nasal passages, the doctor ordered a CT scan of my sinuses. To my surprise, the CT scan revealed a severely deviated nasal septum and (less surprisingly) a LOT of swollen membranes. The doctor recommended reconstructive surgery (septoplasty and turbinate reduction) to repair my septum and return my breathing to normal.

Yesterday, I had the surgery. Although it was the first time I had undergone surgery, I wasn't apprehensive at all, astonishingly. I guess I was so ready to have my sinus pressure relieved that it over-rode any possible anxiety. It was also the first time I had been put under general anaesthesia. The anaesthesia was the weirdest part for me — all I remember was a warm feeling traveling up my arm from the IV, followed by the administration of oxygen. Everything went black from there. When I awoke, it was two and a half hours later. Apparently, I had lost quite a bit of blood in post-op, and the nurses were a bit worried when I came to. Fortunately, the only immediate side-effect from the surgery was a bit of nausea (from swallowing blood) and some localized pain in my face. Administration of an anti-emetic took care of the nausea, and a little dose of morphine took care of the pain.

The morphine itself was amazing. I can see how people get hooked on opiates. Not only did the pain go away in a matter of minutes, but I was also in a state of euphoria for the remainder of the day. Today was a different story. I don't feel quite as good, my nasal membranes are swollen shut, and I'm on all sorts of medication for pain, swelling and infection. The good news is, I don't have splints or gauze shoved up my nose (my doctor used a new microsurgical technique which does not require them) and my nose isn't dripping blood like a stuck pig.

Supposedly, it will take up to four weeks for me to realize the results of the surgery. This is a relatively short time to wait, and if my breathing improves markedly, it will be well worth it. There's even the possibility of my asthma going away as a result of the procedure. Time will tell.

July 10, 2003

A Sad Day

We had to put one of our cats, Marcel, to sleep today. He had been suffering from renal failure for the past 2.5 years. We had been able to prolong his life via subcutaneous fluid injections, but the outcome could not be avoided. He reached a critical stage last weekend, and went on a downward spiral from there. By Wednesday evening, he was literally just skin and bones. His kidneys had completely shut down and he was slowly being poisoned to death. We knew it was time to let him go.

I was with him when the veterinarian administered the injection that ended his life. No matter how prepared for his death I thought I would be, it was extremely painful to watch him go. It was like watching a light being dimmed. I will never forget it.

As much as we both miss him, we are comforted by the fact that he lived a wonderful 12 years. And, we know he is in a better place now.

May 27, 2003

Vacations - the Good and the Bad

I just finished a well-needed week-long vacation. It was nice to get away from the daily grind of the office and spend some time unwinding. Unfortunately, all things come to an end. And, typically I have to spend the same number of days digging out from under the email deluge that accumulates during the time away.

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