Thursday, September 27, 2007

CSI: Tampa Parking Lot

Thank you all for your support and concern regarding my last post. I understand where many of you are coming from. However, this is a very sensitive topic which requires making a decision after all angles have been thought of. Let me first clarify like I did through some emails and phone conversations that he was shooting with either a pellet or BB gun, not an actual firearm. If he were shooting a firearm in my apartment complex on at least two separate occasions, there is no doubt the cops would be called by several residents.

Still, this guy scares me. There are very few people in this world that the instant I see them give me the chills. He is one of those people. I am very hesitant to go to police on this matter because I don't know how likely it is he would actually be prosecuted for killing a stray cat. I'm worried it would make him just more angry and do more harm to the cats. I'm also worried that since he lives near where the cats live, he would know I am their primary caretaker and retaliate against me as well. Things might be different if either he or I lived in a different complex. But I think involving law enforcement without the guarantee of consequences is a large risk that I don't feel I am willing to take at this point. He was already confronted by the witness and threatened. If that doesn't keep him from hurting more cats, a "talking to" by police isn't going to stop him. It might make things worse.

Also, in order for charges to be filed the witness would need to talk to police. I don't know if he is willing to do that, given that the shooter could easily counter that the witness threatened him. Furthermore, the witness is his neighbor. If I feel weird about living in the same complex with this guy, imagine how the witness would feel if the case wasn't pursued. More than anything I would like to see this guy punished for killing one of the dumpster kitties, but the reality is that not everyone feels the same way about feral cats as me. I have heard of cases like this getting prosecuted simply because it has been shown that killing animals is a psychopathic behavior that is linked to a future of harming other living beings including people. To me, it seems like a long shot that would be the approach actually used. Given the odds, at this point it is more important to cover my own ass and the little kitty asses that live under my care. It might just be my cynicism of the legal system.

In my opinion, the fact that after this incident I saw him shooting bottles in the parking lot is a management problem. There are several families living in the complex and kids often ride bikes around the parking lot. I could easily imagine a situation where a kid could come out of no where while this guy is shooting stuff and get seriously injured. That's why I feel like it was my duty to at least let management know about this situation. Unfortunately, work has prevented me from being home during the hours where the leasing office is open. Luckily though, my crazy cat friend already told management the whole situation. I talked her out of immediately going to the police arguing that she doesn't live in my complex with the psycho guy like the witness and I have to. She went to management and told them everything I told her, which is what I told you.

Management said that simply shooting any kind of weapon on the premises is in direct violation of the lease and grounds for immediate eviction if they deem it appropriate after talking to him. They need a witness to him shooting bottles in the parking lot before the confront him. I plan to go to them and tell them that I can verify this. I plan to off the record tell them how sure I am that this guy killed the cat. If the witness' wife hadn't told Dean what she saw, and I would have seen the guy out there shooting anyway, I would have without a doubt known immediately what happened. They also said they would be willing to press charges for the cat shooting but only if the witness comes forward. If I see the witness, I will let him know where things stand and if he is willing to talk, management will go forward with charges. I don't plan to pressure him, simply inform him and let him make the call. He is the only one to have had direct contact with the guy and knowing him on a casual basis I trust his judgment.

So that is where things stand now. As I mentioned above, work has been crazy, this of all weeks is the week where I'm working 11 or 12 hour days so my time is already at a premium. The not so surprising part of all this is that when management heard the whole story, they knew exactly who the suspect was.

UPDATE: I spoke with management. I was scared I had waited too long. As it turns out, one of the witnesses spoke up on their own just this afternoon. Kelly, the assistant manager said she was serving him an eviction notice tomorrow and would contact their lawyer to see if it makes sense to prosecute. I'm so relieved that the witness did the right thing. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of me. I almost cried out of relief and out of sadness at the reminder of what brought this all about. Of course, I'll post any more updates.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hug your Kitties

I had a sad weekend. One of the dumpster kitties died. She was hit by a car and I found her Saturday morning on my way to give them breakfast. It was especially difficult because she was one of the five I spayed and recovered just two weeks ago. She was very sweet and adorable, only about six months old.

I am not quite as sad as I was this weekend, but am still very angry that this happened. Once in a while cats will wander onto the busy streets and be hit. It is tragic but often unavoidable as the speed limits around here are 45 miles per hour, and people usually drive at least 50-55. What I am still trying to understand is how fast you have to be going in a residential parking lot to hit a cat. It makes me fear for the other ferals, not to mention the many kids who also live here. That driver was careless and stupid. God, I hate people sometimes.

Anytime I hear about, or worse experience, something like this it makes me want to go give our house kitties a tight squeeze and thank heavens they are healthy and under our care. You ought to do the same.

UPDATE: I learned when I got home from work that the kitty wasn't hit by a car after all. Turns out she was shot by some fucking psychopath that lives in my complex. Yep. Dean does the morning feedings and one of our acquaintances said her husband witnessed one of their neighbors shoot the cat and another one from his balcony. She was shaken up about it as well but she said her husband confronted the guy about it and threatened him with violence if he ever caught the guy doing that again. Dean came with me to feed the kitties after work and we saw the psycho shooting bottles in the parking lot. He looked very scary. I didn't confront him, thankfully my neighbor already did that for me. And my neighbor is a big guy who watches out for the kitties. I don't know if the psycho hit the other cat he shot at or if it's okay. I'm scared though.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"Hey Chicago, What do you Say?

The Cubs are gonna win to-day!"

We had a really fun time in Chicago. It's Dean's favorite town, having grown up visiting it frequently and I've thoroughly enjoyed it both times I've gone. The first time we went was six and a half years ago, we had been together a little over a year and it was our first trip together. I remember it being a magical time for us. This time, things were a little different since we didn't go alone. But it was still a blast.

Dean's best friend, "Skinny" and his wife went along with her two brothers. Skinny's brothers-in-law know Dean well. They all hung out some in college and since Dean was the best man at Skinny's wedding, there was much male-type bonding during the bachelor party which consisted of a weekend long trip to Kansas City.

Looking back it seems obvious that when you travel with your spouse AND other people, it can get strange. I'm used to traveling with my labmates and I'm used to traveling with Dean. Of course Dean and I have a certain way of doing things but traveling with others requires you to be flexible or be miserable. I think there were definitely some things Dean and I would have done differently but the trade off for not doing those things was basically being at a four day long party. Dean and I are all about eating when we travel. As my mother-in-law aptly pointed out, we like to take in the local cuisine, try the nice restaurants, and discover the hidden hole-in-the-wall joints. Unfortunately our traveling companions had more of a utilitarian style of eating, so were confined to whatever was close, cheap and convenient. Of course saving money on food meant more cash for beer. There was certainly plenty of that.

One place we did end up eating was the original Billy Goat Tavern. You may guess by the name that it was somehow involved in the curse of the billy goat. It was the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern that cursed the Cubs after his goat was turned away for game four of the 1945 World Series. The Cubs lost the series (despite their 2-1 series lead over the Tigers) and haven't been back to the World Series since. Interestingly, the restaurant has another place in history: it was the basis of the Saturday Night Live "Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! No Pepsi, Coke!" skits. Yes, they really do talk that way even though I'm sure it was a put on. It was a convincing one though. It was very entertaining, the burgers were amazing (the double really is the best!) and still very inexpensive. I would recommend even non-sports fans visiting if you get the chance for both the food and the atmosphere.

We also had cocktails at the top of the John Hancock building, 96 floors up. The view of the city was stunning. From where we sat we could see Navy Pier and Soldier Field lit up. It was late when we pulled ourselves away from the view and wandered over to Pizzeria Due (sister to Pizzeria Uno, the original "Uno Chicago Grill").

Wrigley Field left me in awe. I have always felt like kind of an unworthy baseball fan since I prefer watching Twins games on TV rather than at the Metrodome. Now I know that it's just because the Metrodome is a steaming pile of shit, and baseball games should be watched in places like Wrigley field. Places like that are where tradition and pride is born. The Cubs haven't won a championship in 99 years, but the place is always packed because it is truly a great place to go and watch a game. Dean had been to Wrigley several times, but this was the first time I ever went. For my first Wrigley experience, we were in the bleachers- which turns out to be nearly equal in roughness to the south side of Chicago. There were fights, profanity, beer all over everything, not to mention constant harassment of the visiting team, and even harassment of Carlos Zambrano who looked less than stellar Tuesday night. Both nights, we stood in line to get seats in left field. During batting practice, Dean and both discovered that we are much too cowardly to actually try to catch the ball and much prefer scavenging, though even that tactic didn't get us anywhere. At Monday night's game we drank an obscene amount of beer. I tried a Chicago-style hot dog which nearly burned a hole through my intestines. We also discovered that in complete contrast to our original impressions, Alfonso Soriano is an awesome guy. He was always interacting with the fans, getting us riled up, throwing balls in the stands to whoever screamed loudest (or had the cutest kid which is understandable). Monday night was awesome because the Cubs had a dramatic bottom of the ninth win. The crowd was out of control, screaming, singing, chanting out onto the streets. We hit the bars around the stadium (notably the famous Cubby Bear, and Sluggers which combined a bar and batting cages- a brilliant money-making venture). The was even more drinking, and celebrating into the wee hours of the morning.

Needless to say, Tuesday we were moving a little slow. We got up and out late and spent the afternoon wandering around Boystown. We were curious to see Chicago's gay area mostly because Tampa doesn't have one and we didn't actually know what might be in a gay neighborhood. We window shopped a little (the bars weren't open), admired the rainbow flags hanging from every street light and even saw a Green Machine, which means that Dean will probably never drive ours again lest his sexuality be brought into question.

The game Tuesday wasn't quite as good even though the side show entertainment was still impressive. Most notably being reprimanded by the Chicago PD for public drinking while waiting in line to get in (oops) and the shirtless, chest painted C-U-B-S guys who violently threw back onto the field even the batting practice home runs they caught from the Reds. They even had the Reds outfielders laughing at their colorful insults making me feel relieved that no one brought their kids into the bleacher seats. The Cubbies lost though and the mood wasn't quite as electric as the night before. And to address lefty's comments, we did see some hating on the Cardinals (mostly her beloved "El Hombre"), but not nearly as much as on the White Sox. I really don't understand that rivalry though. The Cubs and Cardinals have routinely played each other since the early days of the National League, whereas until interleague play, the Cubs and White Sox hadn't played an official game since the 1906 World Series. Maybe a Chicagoan can explain it to me.

So there you have it. Four days of beer and baseball and good company with old friends. I couldn't have asked for a much better time.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Windy City

Dean and I are going to Chicago tomorrow until Wednesday. We are going with Dean's best friend and his wife for the occasion of his (the friend's, not Dean's) thirtieth birthday. We are also using it as an excuse to belatedly celebrate our anniversary.

I'm a little nervous. I've known this couple for nine years now (since before Dean and I were a couple!), so that's not a problem. I feel weird because Dean and I aren't really one of "those couples". You know what I mean, the couple that vacations with other couples. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, it's just that, well, we sort of keep to ourselves. I hope we can pull this off.

Anyway, we'll be going to two Cubs games. I've never been to Wrigley field despite it being my cat's namesake. We'll be eating indulgently fatty Chicago food and probably spending too much money on Michigan Ave. I'll tell you all about it when I return.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Neuter Scooter

This past weekend was Spay Day. I was able to procure a reservation to bring in five ferals. However my normal transportation hook ups (the "Neuter Scooters") were either out of town or not able to help me. I have been desperate to do another Spay Day since a litter was born while I was in Minnesota and things can spiral out of control so fast. But I can literally only fit one cat in my Honda del Sol and it's hardly worth it to do a Spay Day for only one. So I took matters into my own hands and rented a makeshift Neuter Scooter.

Since Dean is an insurance adjuster, he gets a big discount on rental cars. The vehicle I chose to rent for shuttling stray cats all over Tampa* was a sport utility vehicle. A huge, gas guzzling, American-made monstrosity that screamed "Fuck you!" to the environment and everyone with which it shared the road**. Even though I decided against the optional "Support our Troops" magnetic ribbon and the Jesus fish, I felt dirty driving this thing home from the rental place.

However it was the next day, when I loaded up the trapped kitties and found that I had so much space, I could fit so many cats in here(!) that I began to see how soccer moms began their love affair with the SUV. The extra space was phenomenal, but more than that I could see beyond the back windshield of the car ahead of me! Not to mention the thing accelerated like a dream. I began to scan my brain for things I needed (more like wanted) to do that required 395 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. Wasn't there a huge mess of chopped up wood somewhere I needed to haul? How about towing a smaller, inferior car? Unfortunately I couldn't think of a single thing.

But that afternoon after I picked up the kitties and drove back home, realizing that I had used up 1/3 of a tank of gas driving a total of 50 miles I was jolted back to reality. Someday I may want to cart around kids, and pets and sporting equipment and groceries and a bunch of chopped up wood. But not in today's world.

* I may or may not legally be allowed to do this. The contract I signed included a clause that said I wouldn't let pets ride in the car. But by definition, feral cats aren't pets.

**I don't hate all SUVs, just the overly obnoxious ones. My mom and step dad have a Honda Highlander that gets 27 miles to the gallon. And it's not overwhelmingly big. But still big enough so that they can haul a bunch of cats around.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


My life has been pretty mundane since I returned and while I am more than happy to be a lazy homebody with my husband and kitties, there isn't a whole lot to discuss. Work has been slooooow. One thing I miss a little but about my internship was the constant pace. I had enough work to fill a nine hour day but not so much that I lost sleep over getting it done. Here in the lab, the workload is feast or famine. It's either twelve hours a day of experiments, or six hours a day of browsing the web until I feel justified going home to get housework done. Usually when we're in a slow period I am a prolific blogger but I haven't done anything "blog worthy". As proof, I will now update you on my goings on. I hope you are drinking a cup of coffee, otherwise you will fall asleep.
  • I have been actively avoiding watching the Twins games. I usually despise fair weather fans, but there is a difference between watching a decent team not in contention (like the Devil Rays) and watching a talented team spiral into self-destruction and end the season in a big fiery ball of sucktitude.

  • Since we haven't been watching the Twins games, we've been watching a lot of TV on DVD. Together we've been re-watching (for the zillionth time) Arrested Development, the funniest show to be prematurely taken off the air. Alone I've been watching Deadwood because I read the book over the summer. The show is disgusting and raw and graphic with unlikable characters who possess no redeeming qualities. But I'm strangely addicted, I can't seem to get enough of it.

  • Cleaning. The apartment wasn't in total disarray when I got back. Dean did a good job either keeping it under control or presenting an illusion that it had been picked up the whole time (the more likely scenario). But I have had to put some time into getting things back to my level of satisfaction (e.g. scrubbing corners, dusting bookshelves, rearranging cupboards, etc.).

  • Getting stuff done. Time consuming putzy things like getting my eyes checked and my teeth cleaned. Granted, neither of those things have actually gotten done yet, I've just spent a lot of time thinking about it. The Green Machine needs to get new tires. Oh, and Allison and Wrigley need their vaccinations.

  • Speaking of house kitties, I've been playing with their food to get them onto a mostly canned food diet. I read several articles over the summer about the reasons why cats should eat high-quality canned food and how the pet food industry keeps pushing dry food because it's so much cheaper to produce. I'm hoping that a high protein, high moisture diet will get poor Nellie to finally lose some weight, rather than the empty-calorie, mostly filler, "diet" dry food we've been naively feeding her.

  • This upcoming weekend is our first wedding anniversary. Dean bought a box of premium baseball cards and I bought an iPod sound dock and those are our gifts to ourselves each other because that's how we roll. He is going to the Rays game with some people from work. I asked him to do something fun because I'm doing Spay Day on Sunday.

  • While I was away, the dumpster kitties did a little playing. There were three litters born, two of which were rescued by my crazy cat friend and currently in foster. The first litter was born amongst some friction and nothing ever got done. So there are five juveniles and two moms slutting it up who are in desperate need of fixing. I secured five appointments for this month's designated Spay Day, which is unfortunately our anniversary.

  • It is sad that grown up life is intruding upon our anniversary weekend. However, the following weekend we are going to Chicago for a getaway. It won't be totally romantic since we are going with another couple, but it should be a blast. Hopefully it will give me something more interesting to write about.