Month: September 2008

Squeaker

I buried Squeaker today.

When people ask me how she came into my life, I would say “she came with the house.” It sounds glib, but it’s true.

When Jenny and I bought the house on Avenue G at the beginning of 1997, Squeaker was already living there as a street cat. She had been looked after by the previous occupants. When we showed up, she initially kept her distance (hanging out at a neighbor’s place instead), but after a few months, she warmed up to us. When the first freeze of the winter came at the end of ’97, Jenny and I agreed to let Squeaker spend the night indoors, just for that one night. Apart from a couple of forays into the back yard, she never went outdoors again.

Squeaker was already an adult when we took her in—our best estimate is that she was born in 1990. She was compact, stout, and stiff-legged, never jumping but frequently clambering up onto whatever surface she wanted to occupy. She enjoyed surprisingly forceful head-butts, and never played with toys when anyone was watching.

A lot happened to me over the intervening years—one marriage ended, another begun. I broke my pelvis. I sold the house on Avenue G and bought the one I live in now with Gwen. Squeaker was with me through all of that.

She was not unmarked by time. In 2004, she developed a growth on one foot that ultimately required two toes to be amputated. That growth re-appeared on her foot, but never obviously went beyond that.

Over the past few months, her stiffness of leg turned into painful arthritis. She developed hyperthyroidism, meaning her pulse was always racing, she was constantly hungry, and losing weight. I put her on a painkiller for the arthritis. She still seemed to be generally happy, but I realized she was in the endgame.

Over just the past few days, she declined precipitously. She lost her appetite and even had trouble drinking water. Her meow, which had always been stentorian and scratchy, became pathetic and weak. She smelled awful. It was time. I had the vet make a housecall to euthanize her. If anything, I should have done it a few days earlier. Her last day was peaceful.

Gwen and I went through this about a year and a half ago with the cat she’d had for even longer, Oscar. It doesn’t get easier with practice.

Pretty soon you’re talking real money

There are about 7.5 million subprime mortgages floating around in the USA right now. These are at the root of the current financial crisis, for which Paulson has proposed a $700 billion bank handout bailout.

Note that he wants to give the money to the banks. After the banks get that money, the borrowers are still going to be in default.

I realize the situation isn’t as simple as this, but just for grins, let’s attack the problem from the other end. The bailout amount works out to a little over $90,000 per subprime mortgage (not all of which are in default, but let’s include all of them anyhow). Imagine if the government forced the banks holding all those toxic loans to rewrite them as fixed-rate mortgages at reasonable rates, and set up what Republicans like to call a “personal account” for each homeowner with a subprime mortgage. Stick that $90,000 in the account, let it accrue interest, and use the principal and interest to supplement the amount that the homeowner can pay. Suddenly the mortgages look a lot more viable to the banks, which would restore liquidity to the market. And people don’t get thrown out of their homes.

I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical reason why this kind of welfare is bad, but the kind of welfare Paulson wants is good.

Separated at Birth?

In the course of my relentless obsessing over the upcoming election, I’ve noticed something odd about two of McCain’s top advisors.


Steve Schmidt is a protege of Karl Rove’s and is McCain’s campaign strategist.

Evan Handler played a political operative on The West Wing.

Rick Davis is a lobbyist and is McCain’s campaign manager.

Tim Heidecker plays a complete goofball on Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job.

The Porch Swing

Gwen has invented a new adult beverage. We call it the Porch Swing. It’s very tasty. Here’s how to make it.

First, infuse some vodka with tea. Get some vodka and put in in a mason jar with a couple bags of earl grey tea (Gwen found some earl grey with lavender, which was actually very good). Let it go overnight. Remove tea bags and chill afterwards.

Second, make up a strong batch of lemonade. The lemon-to-sugar ratio should be normal (whatever “normal” means to you), but use just barely enough water to dissolve the sugar—heat it up to help it dissolve. You don’t want to water down the drink unnecessarily.

Third, mix 3 parts vodka with 2 parts lemonade. Shake with ice. Pour through a strainer into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon slice. Make plenty, because you’ll be drinking a lot. Experiment a little with the ratios, as there’s a fine line between just right and a little not-right.