Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kitty walkies

Breakfast at Casa Verde, Botanic Gardens, with Q-tip, Mimi -- and Pebbles! Not often you get to see a cat on a leash, but since he's quite an outdoorsy type, it's best to make sure we know where he is at all times. The morning meal is prior to Mimi's ultrasound scan. The results are quite worrying. They show that she has a seriously unhealthy liver and gall bladder. Could be old age or something less benign. But given her age and existing heart condition, we're not prepared to risk a biopsy to find out. Our strategy for the moment is to keep her relatively pain-free while boosting her system with Casey's prescribed tonics until our options become more urgent.

Friday, June 24, 2011


I have just signed my life away for the next six years. The Defence Science people have offered a scholarship to youngest cousin and I agreed to co-sign his surety. The bond is for a cool half-mil between us guarantors! A staggering sum, for sure!

I did it because family took a chance and co-signed for me when I went into Education, and now I'm passing on the goodwill to the next in line. He's not a little boy any longer, but a full-grown adult; though it's hard for me to see that as fact. Good luck, kid!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A question of balance

GP essays are terribly boring to grade. They are an instant remedy for insomnia, and since I don't suffer from insomnia, I've become narcoleptic while trying desperately to finish my grading quota for the term.

The silver lining is that I now know why GP essays are boring: the kids invariably emphasize balance over argument. Balance is important -- it distinguishes a reasonable argument from that of a deranged, paranoid lunatic. But when balance becomes the first priority in an essay the result is either a nil response or a stilted response to the question.

Let's illustrate the situation numerically:

For an argumentative point, we'll assign a value of 1. The counter-point will then have a value of -1.

In perfectly balanced essays, we get 1 + (-1) = 0 => nil response.

In slightly better essays, we get 1 + (-1) + 1 (the refutation of the counter-point) = 1 => distracted response in which the counter-point has done nothing to advance the argument, but rather has simply thrown it off-track before the refutation contrives to 'rescue' the argument from becoming a nil response.

Both responses are extremely boring. The first (type 0) argument avoids answering the question, thus wasting my time reading it for no payoff. The second (type 1) argument wastes my time reading a counter-point that has no bearing on the argument in the first place. In either case, the reader (me) gains nothing new, nothing fresh, nothing insightful. *goes into mental shutdown mode...

So, what kind of essays DO we like to read? Every essay question has a subject and at least one context. Let's assign a numeric value of 1 to each:

1(subject) + 1(context) = 2

2 is an interesting answer because it's a response that does not self-negate, and it does not end predictably exactly where it started. 2 is insightful and surprising because it's a combination of many potential variables that can be put together in many different ways. 2 is new information where 0 and 1 are not.

See kids (and teachers!)? Balance is over-rated!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A mystery and a revelation

Who left a pool of blood in M-i-L's balcony? None of the human residents in the house claimed responsibility for it, so it had to be one of the two non-human residents: Mimi or Pebbles. Because neither of them could protest their innocence, May and I took them to be professionally examined by Doc Casey.

On examining the mopped up blood which we also brought with us in a plastic baggie, Casey could confirm that it was indeed blood, and not some similar-looking agent. But he found neither gaping wound nor internal trauma on either of our two pets. That amount of blood loss would have rendered Pebbles dead if it were hers, or something unusual would have shown up on Mimi's x-ray. In any case, both were behaving quite normally with no sign of pain or even discomfort, anyway.

So the mystery of the pool of blood as yet remains unsolved. ???

But because of Pebble's visit with Casey, we learned something new about her: he's a boy! Boy cat #3. Oh, dear!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New resident

More and more, M-i-L is relinquishing responsibility for Pebbles (renamed from Grimm). Pebbles is getting familiar with Maui who seems quite tolerant of her presence now.

She's still working on getting the kinks out of her relationship to Kaiser, though.