Phoebe escapes again
Tuesday, September 16 2014
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
Last night, we'd felt bad about Phoebe the Three-legged Cat being cooped up for five and a half days in the upstairs bedroom and bathroom, so we'd given her the run of the house. She'd gone into the laboratory and explored a bit, meowing loudly the whole time the way she does. And she'd had her first real encounter with Julius (aka Stripey) and it had gone well. She didn't seem to have animosity towards any of the other cats, and, if anything, they were more perplexed by her weird gate than concerned (as they usually are with strange cats) by her intrusion.
But by this morning she had vanished, and she never turned up. I checked the entire house for her, looking in all the usual places, but she had vanished. By this evening it was clear she was no longer in the house. If she had been, she would have eventually made an appearance and meowed loudly at some point. Evidently she had slipped out through the pet door, something that happened with Walter back in January. It always seems that when it would be best for a cat not to know how to use the pet door they master it in a single night, whereas when it would useful for them to know it, they don't master it at all (we're still having to let big fluffy Oscar in every night). In any case, Phoebe had probably high-tailed it down the hill to Jeff's place a mile away. He'd been spoiling her with a lot more wetfood than we'd been providing. And evidently she prefers life as an outdoor feral cat, even if it means dealing with the cold cruelties of the world with only one forepaw.
Down in the greenhouse, I made another concrete mold so I could build a second layer on the girder support I'd already made. I needed to fill a void about six inches in height before the girder would be well-supported on its northern end. I made today's mold out of a piece of aluminum gutter that I hammered flat and then bent into shape. I didn't have quite enough concrete for the rest of the job, so I pounded large chunks of rock into it while it was still fluid. This had the additional benefit of forcing out the air and forcing the concrete into the rough surfaces of the cantilevered rock remaining beneath the girder.
In computer work today, I wrote a pair of scripts run by cron jobs on two separate servers, one of the few completely web-free server programming tasks I've ever undertaken. The first script on the first server was to create a database dump and then SCP it to the other server. On the other server, the cron job looked hourly for copied database dumps and, if it found one, it would drop a development database and rebuild it using the dump. All of this was to bypass an intractable problem I'd encountered with an Amazon RDS MySQL database: I couldn't connect to it remotely despite adding IP addresses to a security group whitelist, and I'd run out of ideas for how else to proceed. It's not possible to affordably get a real human to provide tech support in such situations, so I was forced to improvise a solution. I'm good at (and enjoy) improvising solutions to stupid problems, particularly those created by what is and is not allowed, and the one devised today seemed to work well.
In an effort to placate our uphill neighbors, this evening I assembled a little-used pole saw (an unpowered saw at the end of a long pole) and used it to trim all the white pines along the road that were taller than about 10 feet down to about that size. The pole saw made it an easy job, and hopefully it will be enough to preserve neighborhood harmony.
For dinner tohight, I made a delicious red sauce using fresh tomatoes from the garden and chunks of Beyond Meat "chicken," the new eerily-fleshlike chicken substitute. It actually doesn't taste much like chicken, but the texture is damn convincing.
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