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The Ethological Study of Ella The Cat

The Ethological Study of Ella The Cat 2560 1920 Jason Stadtlander

Let’s face it, cats are really just glorified cuddly, walking stomachs with four legs and razor blades attached to the ends.

That being said, I’m not sure I could get through this pandemic without my Ella. She has been my companion since day one of the COVID19 pandemic and she continues to follow me around the house all day long, sits with me as I work all day, and wakes me up in the morning.

It is the waking up in the morning that I have begun to study and thought of particular interest. There’s a very specific pattern to this waking up and ‘getting the human to feed me’ element to it all. It is a very specific series of steps where there are a few adjustments that she has worked out just case I might be getting off track from her desired outcome.

Here are my findings (from Ella’s perspective):

  • Step 1 – Jason’s box next to his bed makes noise and he is no longer unconscious (alarm goes off). I must jump up on top of him and sit at the highest point on top of his body and look down upon him until he acknowledges my presence.
  • Step 2 – Once Jason acknowledges that I am here and begins to pet me, I can turn my lovely butt around so that he can see it. This will entice him to push me off and get up.
  • Step 3 – If I see Jason looking at his phone, I must jump back up on the bed and nudge under his arm to force him to see that I am what he should be focusing on.
  • Step 4 – For some reason at this point, he seems compelled to go to the room with all the water and I really don’t want to have any part of water, so I must remain at the threshold of the door frame and wait to ensure he does not forget his reason for getting up. Eventually, after being wet for a while and using something to dry off he once again goes back into his room.
  • Step 5 – I must constantly rub myself upon his ankles while he is putting on his fur and remind him again, why I have woken him. However, I must be careful not to trip him as he will step on my leg or tail because he’s clumsy.
  • Step 6 – I must lead him down the stairs and wait every few steps to make sure he is coming. If he gets distracted, then I need to go back and remind him to follow me.
  • Step 7 – I must stand by my dish as shown and wait for Jason to come to feed me.
    • Step 7a – Jason often becomes obsessed with the thing on the counter that makes dark liquid. So frequently must lead him to where my food can be found.
    • Step 7b – Jason often seems to think that he is in the kitchen to feed himself and starts taking items out of the big metal box to eat, but again, I must lead him back to where my food can be found.
Where’s ma food?

I will note that she has started a new step (Step 8) recently, which is the “fake cough/hairball” which she starts to do if she becomes significantly irritated that I am not getting to her food. She bends over and starts coughing and hacking. I know this to be fake because if I reach down and grab her dish, she instantly stops doing it – every single time.

The “Fake Cough”

So, what does all this show? As I see it shows one of two things. 1.) I have to much time on my hands and I’ve turned to study my cat’s behavior. 2.) I have come to the realization that I have never trained my cat but in fact, have been the one trained by my cat. Who’s the higher species now?

Twisted Thursday – “Idiomocracy” – A story of Idioms

Twisted Thursday – “Idiomocracy” – A story of Idioms 1618 1080 Jason Stadtlander

Growing up, my father constantly used idioms that had (sometimes, unfortunately) been passed down for generations. What is an idiom you ask? Not to be confused with idiots, an idiom is a small phrase that presents a figurative meaning. Such as, “It’s raining cats and dogs.” Is it literally raining cats and dogs? No… it’s just raining really hard.

Not long ago it got me thinking, what would happen someone took all the crazy idioms (sayings) they heard growing up and slapped them together into one little story? Well, here’s what I churned out. Be forewarned – there are a considerable amount of ‘colorful metaphors’ (swears):

Company Take-over?

So, I was at work the other day, and I was busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kickin’ contest. Finally, I got to the point where I was going to blow like a whistle, so I went looking for my boss. I’ll tell you though, she was slipperier than snot on a glass doorknob. When I finally found her, she was sitting around with her thumb stuck up her ass to which I said, “Ugh! That smells bad enough to gag a maggot!”

She laughed hard and replied, “Well, wada ya expect? I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off all day. I went to the president, but he said to go take a long walk off a short pier, and you can guess how that made me feel… wrapped tighter than skeeter’s ass in a nosedive.”

I sighed. She was right. The president had been riding her like a one-hump camel. The poor woman deserved a break. Then she looked at me and smiled. I cocked an eyebrow in response, knowing she was up to something because she was grinning like a possum licking the whipped cream off a light socket. “What?” I asked, wondering what was rattling around between her ears.

“I was just thinking…” she began. “The guy in the corner office is slow as molasses in January. How about we toss him out like an old pair of shoes and run things ourselves?” she glared at me. “Well, are we on the same page?”

Although this was appealing, the truth was, I had to go to the bathroom so bad my eyeballs were floating. Tell you what – hold that thought. I gotta pee like a Russian racehorse at the Kentucky Derby running with a glue truck behind him.”

So we agreed to chew the fat when I got back.

Fortunately, getting in and out of the restroom was easy as a piece of cake. By now I knew that my boss had an axe to grind, but I was relieved to be standing by her side, come hell or high water. I will admit, the idea of taking over the company might have been biting off more than we could chew, but when it comes down to the wire, it’s always best not to count your chickens before they hatch.

I walked into my boss’s office carrying a big chip on my shoulder, but I figured I had a right. After all, what goes around comes around. My boss opened her mouth, but as soon as she started talking, I realized that she was really my boss’s twin sister – a dead ringer. I said to the twin, “Hey – where did she go?”

She replied only, “Elvis has left the building.”

I knew I wasn’t going to get anything out of the woman since blood is thicker than water. So I did an about-face, flipped her the bird, and asked her to excuse my French. But since I knew that haste makes waste, rather than going head over heels in the bag, I decided to throw the towel in and began walking back to my office.

The twin sister yelled, “Hey! I’m hornier than a two-peckered billy goat!”

I rolled my eyes, turned around, and walked back into her office. “Well then, I guess you have bigger fish to fry. I mean, come on – you’re about as handy as a cow on a crutch. Look, I’ve really got to go…I’m so hungry I could eat a low-flying duck!”

The truth was, it was hotter than a popcorn fart in there, and I really didn’t want to hang around. So I headed quickly back to my office feeling about as worthless as chicken crap on a pump handle. I figured I had to get back to work, and once again felt busier than a cat covering up crap on a concrete floor.

Thinkin’ back, I don’t know about you, but the whole thing felt nuttier than a port-a-potty at a peanut festival.

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned in the Coronavirus Lockdown

Twisted Thursday – Top 10 Things I’ve Learned During the Coronavirus Lockdown

Twisted Thursday – Top 10 Things I’ve Learned During the Coronavirus Lockdown 848 565 Jason Stadtlander

Yes, yes, we’ve all discovered a new side to ourselves in lock-down during the Coronavirus and COVID19 disease. We have discovered that for many of us it is possible to work from home and it is important to look out for others in this ‘unprecedented time’.

I found that I personally have discovered things that I never before thought about.

Here are my Top 10 Things I’ve Learned in the Coronavirus Lockdown:

10. Clothing for Zoom meetings is optional

9. My cat really does sleep 90% of her life

My cat really does sleep 90% of her life

8. The mute button is my friend (especially if the office is next to the bathroom)

The mute button is your friend (especially if your office is next to the bathroom)

7. Coronavirus does not actually give you diarrhea

6. Social distancing guidelines differ from country to country

Social distancing guidelines differ from country to country

5. Lifting a beer is a good interim work out during COVID19

Lifting a beer up does not really qualify as 'working out'

4. If you have a birthday during the lock-down, you’re getting ripped off

If you have a birthday during the lock-down, you're getting ripped off

3. Too much television really does rot your brain

Too much television really does rot your brain

2. Productivity is way up when working from home

1. There really is a solution for homeschooling children

There really is a solution for homeschooling children

“Twisted Thursday” is an occasional spot written on a topic that I thought might be fun to ‘twist’. Check out my other Twisted Thursdays.

How to Boil The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

How to Boil The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg 4032 3024 Jason Stadtlander

I make salads for lunch almost every day. Hard-boiled eggs are a perfect compliment to my (and your) favorite salad.

There are few things more infuriating (to me) than trying to peel that hard-boiled egg and being unable to separate the shell from the egg. Am I right? Admit it, it is the thorn of your existence. It is the one thing that you lay in bed thinking about until 3:00 AM, “How on Earth will I deal with that egg in the morning? How will I peel the shell and not go ballistic? How will I keep from throwing that egg at the wall and pulverizing it into a million little pieces?! How? How? HOW!?”

I have the answer to your dreams. The monumental recipe that will change your egg dealing days forever!

  1. Select your favorite eggs (No more than 8 if using a medium sized pan) and put them in a medium-sized pan.
    This is important If your eggs are too close to walls of the pan, the shell will cook into the egg. There should be enough room for 1-2″ of water between the egg and the pan.
  2. Fill the pan with water so that there is at least 1 – 2″ of water over the eggs.
  3. Heat up the water on high heat.
  4. Once it starts to boil, turn it down just a little and only then set the timer for 20-22 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off, put the entire pan of eggs in the sink and run cold water over them for 2 minutes.
  6. Immediately after you turn off the water, pour a bowl of ice into the pan
  7. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes.
  8. Your eggs are ready!





Listen Up Chicks!

Listen Up Chicks! 1024 773 Jason Stadtlander

There’s is nothing like rolling over at 4:30 A.M. to three girls screaming at you at the top of their lungs. I throw my pillow over my head and try to ignore them but they scream louder and louder.

“Bawk! Bawk! Bawk! Bawk!”

That’s right, I’m not talking about female humans, I’m talking about my God forsaken chickens. I only have three, I had six but ended up killing three because they wouldn’t shut the hell up.

Okay, actually I gave three away because they were just too crowded in my earlier coop. But I think the idea of sacrificing them to the Screaming Chicken gods sounds better.

The reality is, I love my chickens. They’re the only girls I’ve ever had that never really complained to me. Until recently.

I had the brilliant idea of expanding the coop so that they’d have a lot more room (nearly three times as much) to roam around and peck the dirt and perch on walls. I’m actually quite happy with the expansion, as are they. Then for the winter, I wrapped their custom made water dispenser that I built in heat tape, set up a thermostat that will kick on any time the temperature drops below 34F and have started to wrap the coop in plastic. I also set up a fluorescent light that turns on for “summer hours”. This generally keeps egg production going during the dark winter months (yeah, chickens are a few fries short of a happy meal).

Then two days ago my girls started squawking profusely around 4:30 A.M.

I knew that they didn’t lay until around 5:30-6:00 (yeah, I’m that weird). So I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about.

Then I did some research and found that many chickens do what’s called the “Egg song”. They basically are singing about the fact that they are going to lay an egg and oh what a wonderful egg it is. I finally found some translation guides and was able to translate most of Esther’s song (the real loudmouth of my coop) as follows:

TRANSLATION: “Listen up girls, I got an egg. I got an egg. Oh what a marvelous egg! It’s better than yours, oh so much better than yours. In fact your eggs suck. They are tiny and [censored] and pathetic but mine or so big! So amazing!”

Anyway, the song goes on to state how wonderful her eggs are and how much better of a hen she is than Gertie or Sassy (my other two hens). There’s also some expletives in there that I would prefer not to censor… dirty bird.

The point is, it’s completely normal behavior and I guess if I want fresh eggs, I just need to make sure I also have earplugs.

The Jibbery Jik

The Jibbery Jik 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

What’s wrong with you Dick
Are you getting quite thick?
You’re standing among the Jibbery Jik

Can’t you see they don’t care ’bout your hair or your clothes?
What matters to them, the most is your nose
You constantly pick it and pull out a prize
You jump up and down and wiggle your thighs

The Jibbery JikYour boogers are treasures, a delight in your hand.
You wave them about and then you demand,
“What’s this? Look here! I’ve found something awesome! Something new and fantastic! Something worthy of Dawson!”

But the Jibbery Jik do not care of your prize, not at all.
They stare you blankly, blinking eyes, standing tall.
They say “You sir, are sick, disgusting and rude.
We want nothing of you and find you quite crude.”

So in sadness you walk, booger in hand.
Wishing that they would just understand.
It’s special to you, something pure, something true.

So off with the Jik and their silly ways that they live.
It’s a pity they can’t see what joy the nose gives.

Farewell Robin Williams

Farewell Robin Williams 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

I wasn’t going to write a tribute, an article or an essay about Robin Williams. I never knew the man and I am no one of importance or notoriety. I am not an obsessed fan who showed up to see Robin shooting films and I did not hang on his every word.

Robin WilliamsI am simply one of millions of other people that were touched by Robin, which perhaps gives me as much a right to say something about him as much as anyone else.

Two weeks ago, I was walking casually through my father’s house on the tree farm where I grew up, passing through the living room on my way to the kitchen to grab a pretzel when Jody, a friend of my father and step-mother, casually called out “Robin Williams died today”. My two boys were siting on the leather couch in the living room petting my father’s golden retriever; Chester. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at the television, transfixed by the news with the words “Robin Williams apparent suicide” emblazoned on the screen.

My youngest son looked at me and being the more empathic could tell instantly that I was affected by something. “Daddy? Who’s Robin Williams?”, having never seen Williams on film. I looked down at his innocent face gazing up at me and I said, “Just someone that I looked up to.” and I left the room.  I went out on the deck in the warm sunshine and sat down, saying nothing. The bright sunshine suddenly felt cold, devoid of it’s usual warmth.

Robin is one of those people in entertainment that is an anchor, someone that you always know is there and appears from time to time to warm your heart and make you laugh. His ability to instantly alter his personae and utterly change before your eyes (and I’m sure the eyes of everyone on set) gave him the ability to reach through the camera (or speaker in animated films) and touch you in ways that most people require physical hands and arms to. The ability to reach into your heart and massage it, whether it be through laughter or through a poignant performance such as that in Awakenings or What Dreams May Come is what set him apart beyond all others.

The fact that this beautiful man, father and husband died under the circumstances of depression or suicide is what hit me hardest, having struggled with it myself in the past. I instantly thought of What Dreams May Come and pictured Robin playing Chris Nielsen, a man that died in an accident and in turn found that his wife was in Hell because she had killed herself. Robin’s character Chris, literally fought through Hell and accepted her nightmare as his own, in turn, bringing back her memories just in time for him to be taken into her Hell. She, now remembering who he is, wanted to bring him back to heaven, thus saving herself and him from Hell.

I immediately thought of Robin there, now in her place. I’m not saying that people go to Hell when they commit suicide, I’m saying that under the interpretation of the movie, Chris did and I couldn’t help but instantly picture Robin there.

I first saw Robin Williams as many of us did, playing Mork and Mindy (Nanoo Nanoo). Gary Marshall who cast Robin once said that “Williams was the only alien who auditioned for the role”. Robin later went on to touch the lives of so many people in films like Mrs. Doubtfire, Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam and so many others. These roles he played, these parts he thrust himself into, they didn’t just touch those of us who had the pleasure of watch him as an entertainer, they touched people who worked with him. People like Gary Marshall, Maura WilsonLisa Jakup and David Letterman. He had three beautiful children, Zelda, Zachary and Cody and he was married not long ago to Susan Schneider.

I have no doubt that he will be missed by those closest to him as well as those of us that weren’t close to him. If Robin is in a dark place such as that portrayed in What Dreams May Come, I have no doubt that all of us will help him out of it, lift him and carry him to where he belongs.

But why, you ask… “Why did you decide to write an article about Mr. Robin Williams today?” For one reason, the emphasis on how short and precious the human life is. Robin made an impact like a meteor, striking down from the heavens and left a lasting impression that will forever remain with all of us. People will tell stories, remember him, perhaps even make up stories about him, but what will remain true is that this life, this soul, will be remembered for what it did for humanity. For making us cry, for making us love and most importantly… that which what he would want to be remembered for most, for making us laugh.

I do wish I had the honor of meeting you, but you have touched my heart regardless. Love you Robin. Rest in peace.

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