Sunday, November 04, 2007

decoding Cinnamon the Cat

A recent article on ScienceNow says that the cat genome has been about 80% deciphered. Interesting result: cats are more closely related to humans than any of our other common pets are (dogs, hamsters, etc).

Of course, "cat people" would not be surprised by this. Cats are like weird little children, with or without a genetic reason. Of course, I have one looking over my shoulder (sleeping on the chair behind me with one eye open) and one ready to claw my leg (wants to walk back & forth in front of my face as I try to type), so I have to say nice things about them, or else.

Funny how we think we domesticated all our pets and livestock, when they more likely domesticated themselves around us. We act like we're in control -- we train them and give the orders, right? In fact, they quietly train us to put up with their quirks and schedules and needs along the way. And this is never more obvious than with cats.

Of our three cats, one stares right into my eyes when I talk to her, like she's looking for answers. Oddly, wearing sunglasses doesn't seem to bother her one bit. She still looks right into my eyes.

My favorite cat mystery is why they seem completely oblivious to reflections -- shouldn't seeing themselves in a mirror be completely bizarre? Combine this with their notorious curiosity, and I expect SOME kind of reaction. I recall that as kittens they paid were startled a bit by seeing motion in mirrors, but now they can somehow be obsessed with the slightest scrap of string and ignore their own image completely. I'm guessing that reflections have no scent component, but still ...

... random reflections on cats.

link to the article:

Friday, November 02, 2007

jinxed the spider, try this comet instead

Well, 2 days after I said the spider was doing fine, it vanished completely. Probably starved. I sifted through the leaves beneath its lair, hoping for a closer look (I do have a cheap USB microscope), but it was gone.

On the fun side, there's a bright comet in Perseus now. About 2 weeks ago it was a faint 17th-magnitude thing, far off and easily forgotten. But then it got a million times brighter for no obvious reason, now it's easy to spot, even without binoculars. Just look for the fuzzy thing near Alpha Persei that doesn't belong there. Because it's fairly distant, it's not moving much from night to night. It's probably going to fade away soon, so check it out while you can.

Here's a finder chart & more info: