I’ve Just Been Hacked

September 8, 2022

By Karen

Hackers were assaulting my checking account from Sunday, August 28, to Friday, September 2, and it’s taken me this long to recover. I’ll tell you what happened as a cautionary tale.

Two Sundays ago, my bank emailed me a Security Alert. In part, it read [verbatim]:

On 8/28/2022 12:46 AM, there was the forgot password process was attempted for your login ID… If you suspect fraudulent activity, please contact us… Please do not reply to this message.

The bad grammar and absence of contact info looked like spam. I knew my little community bank doesn’t do weekends, so I was helpless until Monday.

But that afternoon at 4:50 p.m., a quick succession of more Security Alerts arrived about: 1) forgot password, 2) change to secure access code contact information, 3) added a Tempia Otey (??!!) to account, 4) a process was started to add an external contact.

At 5 p.m., my landline rang. Caller ID showed my bank and its local number, so I answered. Mistake ONE.

It was “Jacob” from the “Fraud Department,” following up since they hadn’t heard from me (how?).

Jacob was a criminal newbie with Swiss-cheese story he kept having to “check with his supervisor,” which kept dropping the call. Once, he called back from 843-474-1626 in Beaufort, SC, stammering that that line was “more secure” than the bank’s. (If this doxes you, Jacob, tough. The bank and the FCC has this number now, too.)

MAJOR POINT: You know two-factor authentication, where they phone or text a code number to you so you can access a website or account? To “verify” me, Jacob somehow sent one of those to my landline, and it actually came from my bank. I’m still kicking myself for telling him what it was, but I hadn’t yet realized he was a hacker. Mistake TWO.

Jacob’s real mission was to “verify” (i.e., steal) my debit card information.

When I refused to tell all (I did give some, like a dummy) Mistake THREE, Jacob transferred me to his “supervisor” Jessica. She’d only say, “We need your debit card number,” so I hung up on her.

The next day, Monday at 7 a.m., this Security Alert arrived…

On 8/29/2022 6:54 AM there was your security alert preferences were changed.

I called the bank as soon as it opened and we found the bogus Tempia Otey online withdrawal and another one. They totaled $500 and luckily had been blocked by Zelle, a third-party money transfer thing my bank has. So, I changed my password and drove to the bank to close my debit card.

At 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, the hacker phoned again, spoofing the bank on Caller ID, calling himself “Jonathan.” I answered because the bank had promised to call back about the Zelle situation. Once again, not knowing it wasn’t the bank, he sent an authentication code to my cellphone this time (so he had both my phone numbers), and I told him the code. Mistake FOUR.

I think this call sealed my fate.

As soon as I realized it was Jacob again, I hung up. A few minutes later the Security Alert emails started rolling in…

On 8/29/2022 3:11 PM, there was an invalid password for your login ID was submitted.

…forgot password process was attempted…

…security alert preferences were changed…

Since Zelle had blocked suspicious activity, bank customer service was on the case, and I’d notified my branch there was a problem in person, I thought they all had my back and we were done. Mistake FIVE.

Beginning Tuesday, the hackers siphoned daily increasingly large amounts from my checking account into another account they’d opened in my name somewhere until I was out $14,000, which I’d set aside for some major bills.

I discovered these thefts Friday, September 2, after I was locked out of my online account trying to get my monthly checking statement.

Hair ablaze, I dashed back to the bank to close the checking account and file a fraud report. (When they printed my statement, the daily theft withdrawals were screamingly obvious.)

The bank said it might take “months” to research and recover my “disputed” $14K. And they said it was now in MasterCard’s hands. WTF? Who ever said anything about MasterCard? The debit card was closed BEFORE the withdrawals started.

This crime began within days of the bank launching a new app. I think the app has security issues a cruise ship could sail through. The bank employee who helped me had been getting the same Security Alerts on HER account and blowing them off. And she said other customers had been making similar reports (presumably also being blown off).

With a new checking account, all my online bill-paying information, automatic drafts, the direct deposit arrangements with clients got obliterated. I’ve spent most of this week piecing my finances back together like a jigsaw puzzle.

BUT THERE’S A HAPPY ENDING: Instead of months, the disputed $14K was restored to me within 24 hours — but it was deposited in the now-closed account. ANOTHER trip to the bank got the funds over to the new account. I’m a familiar (if masked) face at the bank now.

LESSONS LEARNED: I can’t trust my bank. Their “security” is nothing but useless ungrammatical emails. They’re unable to detect a multi-day theft in progress. And if I hadn’t been proactive, my $14K would STILL be sitting in a closed account.

I’ll take your questions now.


Max Discovers the Joys of Meditation

June 28, 2022

By Karen

Of all the cats ever on the Cats Working crew, Max has always been the most soft-spoken and reclusive, preferring the privacy of his Man Cave to shooting his mouth off on the blog or romping around with Roc and Tony.

But lately, Max has gotten quite a bit more sociable, now spending most days hanging out with the guys in the living room. (One reason could be that it feels about 10 degrees cooler downstairs in the summer.)

Evenings after dinner, he’s even been joining Roc and me on the couch to watch some tube.

On my iPad I have this app called Calm. I rely on it to keep my head from exploding from all the terrible things happening these days.

I’ve been devoting about 30 minutes every morning to daily meditations with Calm’s Jay Shetty, Jeff Warren and Tamara Levitt. (Tamara’s voice is so smooth and relaxing, it could melt diamonds.)

Max has noticed my ritual, and you know there’s nothing cats love better than a good ritual. Now, as soon as Max realizes I’ve “assumed the position” on the couch, he shows up for some TLP (tender loving petting).

“I see you’ve got two hands free. What are you waiting for?”
“Yeah, right there, where that pesky collar used to be.”
“The top of my head can never get enough attention.”
“Now help me work this crick out of my neck.”
“Don’t forget to scritch my neck on all sides.”
“Do you really find the sound of these people babbling relaxing?”

I got two clips of Max in action. Here’s the first one…

And more. This is actually the cutest one…

Max confesses he wonders why Tamara tells me to, “Notice the paws at the beginning of the inhale,” and “Notice the paws at the end of the exhale,” because people don’t have paws.

Another thing I’ve started doing lately is, after scooping out the litterboxes, I smooth the litter perfectly flat like a Zen garden. It gives the kitties a tranquil place to do their business, and footprints in the litter let me know they’ve left some new buried treasure for me to scoop.

“Meditation is great! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”

BONUS: I recently came across this thing called ASMR, and these videos are the most relaxing sounds EVER. The Sara Coromo videos are my favorite, but there are sounds for everyone out there. Here’s a short sample…


Success Report: DIY Kitty Perch Rescue

May 31, 2022

By Roc

Remember that fantastic gray kitty perch Karen put together for us as an early Christmas present during the pandemic…

Tony sleeps up top evenings, and we’ve kept it looking nice. I can count on one paw the times Max has ever touched it.

Tony and I found one sisal post PERFECT for wonderful claw-grabbing s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s and we’ve been giving it daily workouts — until this happened…

I can’t blame Tony. I’m the only kitty with the size and strength to commit vandalism of this magnitude. I even get a criminal look in my eyes when I’m pondering my next big caper…

Around these parts, they call me “KMD” (Kitty of Massive Destruction).

This development upset Karen because 1) Loss of a popular scratching place put us one step closer to digging in to the furniture, and 2) It looked bad, not that the living room is what you’d call a showplace even on a good day.

The sisal was flimsy, and the post underneath turns out to be crappy cardboard. Which explains how Karen got the thing dirt-cheap. What did she expect for less than three figures? Mahogany?

Out of respect (and aversion to Karen’s screaming), Tony and I have steered clear of that post since the destruction.

After determining it might be fixable, Karen turned to the trusty internet and discovered a cottage industry for restoring sisal kitty scratchers.

She bought 164 ft. of MEEXPAWS 1/4” sisal rope from Amazon, which came nicely coiled, and with a roll of double-stick tape…

Photo: Amazon

But Karen didn’t want to use tape or glue because they might not withstand our assaults, and they’d ruin the cardboard if the post needed fixing again. What to do, what to do?

We don’t own a big staple gun, and Karen was considering nailing it when she found this perfectly brilliant man with a YouTube video, “My cat tree repair without tools or glue”…

We tackled the project this past weekend. I supervised nearby, of course. Karen first removed the original sisal, which had been stapled.

Immediately upon untying the new bale of sisal, all 164 feet unraveled at our feet into a tangled mess, which Karen then had to fling around the post with every row she wrapped.

Sorry, no photos of that because I have no thumbs for the iPhone and if Karen had let go for a second in mid-wrapping, it would have all come undone.

As she used up rope, it got a little easier. Finally, she made it to the bottom and tied it off. Voila!…

The color’s a bit off, but it’s heavier rope, so even BETTER than before.

I say that even though Tony and I have so far refused to be the guinea pigs to test it, even though Karen gave us an hilarious demonstration to refresh our memories on how to scratch a post.

Karen was so pleased with the result, she’s gotten ideas about our other perches. But first, she needed to salvage the remaining sisal, a job not made any easier by Tony romping all over it, biting at it like she was playing. We’ve got this much left…

Karen thinks there’s enough left to give Tony’s favorite blue perch at the top of the stairs a refurb…

We’ll need to get more sisal for the short perch by the living room window that screams for attention…

And then there’s that tall perch next to the couch…

The lower level there where Mickey and the Teds hang out could also use some love…

I’m glad Adele isn’t here to see this because she believed “Every Cat’s an Artist” and called all these perches “art installations.” She’d be spitting mad and fluff-tailed to have her creative endeavors sisaled over.

Speaking of outrage, Karen has been wondering why we all suddenly stopped fighting over Max’s favorite kitty bed near the sliding glass door. She found her answer while taking these photos…

There was a hairball on Max’s favorite cuddle toy, Cattey. By the color, it could belong to anybody, but she’ll never find out who because we’re cats, not rats…

(PS: You’ll be relieved to know that Cattey is fine. The hairball had dried out and came off without leaving a stain. I hope you weren’t eating dinner while you read this.)

UPDATE FROM KAREN: A few hours after Roc posted this story, I went downstairs and caught him giving the new sisal post a going over. He looked at me with his, “Am I in the doghouse?” expression, but the sisal stood up to him hanging on it beautifully. So, it looks like full steam ahead on sprucing up the other perches.


Abortion: Only the Tip of the Real Problem

May 3, 2022

By Karen

A draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court’s still-pending decision on Roe v. Wade has leaked and reveals the expected. The conservative majority (Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Coney Barrett, maybe Roberts) will allow states once again to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies, or risk death trying to end them.

Meanwhile, sadistic state Republicans across the country are passing draconian laws to severely restrict or ban abortion altogether.

The nightmare is here, so, will women stop whining and start demanding an eye for an eye? Or, a dick for a uterus?

(NOTE: I use “dick” instead of the proper term to avoid an avalanche of porn spam.)

While Republican men have wet dreams about torturing expectant mothers and then starving, neglecting, abusing and using their toddlers for target practice, women seem to be repeating Democrats’ mistake by playing nice. They express outrage on cable news and hold marches and peaceful protests.

Women, wake up. We need to scream and do something about the root cause of abortion: men’s dicks.

Dicks exist only for sperm delivery. OK, sperm and urine. Dickless men would have to sit down to pee like ladies. No biggie.

If not for dicks doing their sperm thing, abortion would be unneeded, legal or otherwise.

Every abortion now in question started with a dick attached to a man.

[“What about in vitro fertilization?” you cleverly ask. Stay focused. Women who get in vitro (Latin for “without dick”) are desperate. They don’t get abortions unless something goes terribly wrong. Those tragic terminations should have another name and are excluded from my discussion.]

Sicko Republicans paint women as inherently evil baby-killers whose lives must be destroyed — even if they were rape or incest victims. Whereas, the real evil is men’s unfettered dick freedom. Nobody’s suggesting the first fucking remedy for that. Not even male birth control.

Female legislators need to grow a pair and write counter-legislation.

How about bills mandating stiff penalties for men who impregnate women against their will, even if they’re married? If the child is born, the woman can sue to ensure financial support for herself and the child for 18 years, even if there’s a divorce.

Or, how about enabling a woman to sue for $10,000 any man who hits on her for unwanted sex that could result in pregnancy?

Call this one #MeToo on Steroids, or a Bounty on Indiscriminate Dicks. If Texas can put a bounty on uteruses, why not?

Men who try to skip out on the court’s ruling against them for any reason are reported, arrested and given the option of vasectomy or chemical castration (their choice) so they can’t offend again.

This is basically TNR (trap-neuter-release) used on feral cat colonies to reduce their numbers, only applied to human men. If enough men skirt their financial penalties, they get neutered, the birth rate drops and abortion eventually becomes moot.

Seem harsh? Think about this:

Most men think of their dicks as instruments of pride, pleasure (or power) over women, not baby-makers. To exterminate men with this attitude would admittedly be extreme, but we can certainly curb their dicks.

While this female-friendly legislation gets debated, women could exercise options some currently ignore, if the numbers fleeing Texas for abortions are any indication. For starters, keep your legs together. If you feel frisky, you can do the job quicker and better yourself and, unless your man has no hands, so can he.

In extreme cases, remember Lorena Bobbitt. She became famous in 1993 for cracking under sexual abuse (and a forced abortion) and castrating her husband. The world would be a lot safer for all women if more wives trained their husbands to sleep with one eye open, or risk waking up looking like a Ken doll.

Women need to get real and get loud about dicks. In addition to legal penalties, we need to ban Viagra, Cialis and whatever other dick-inflating pills they’ve got, as well as pumps, implants and any other pervy devices they use.

If women can’t have abortions, then men need to take responsibility for their role in pregnancy and be punished to the fullest extent if it’s unwanted.

And may every dick on the Supreme Court (including Amy the c*nt) who doesn’t like this solution be damned.


Our Poltergeist Strikes Again… and Again

April 4, 2022

By Karen

Last year, I told you how Roc and I witnessed a book being pushed or pulled out of the bookcase in my bedroom when nobody had touched it.

[OMG… in pulling up the link to that previous post, I just realized the new development I’m about to tell you started within a week or so of the book, in July 2021. It never occurred to me the two incidents might be related.]

It was a Thursday morning that July when the wall switch that powers the garbage disposal went suddenly dead. The disposal itself was fine and relatively new; I just couldn’t turn it on. I wondered if the tiny ants who sometimes invade the kitchen in warm weather might have caused the problem.

I quickly learned how you don’t appreciate your disposal until it’s gone. For the four days I waited for a repairman, I had to scrape uneaten cat food and other yucky bits into the “stinky bag” I always keep in the freezer for onions, banana peels, chicken bones, et cetera, until trash day because rancid garbage makes me gag.

The repairman removed the switch plate and didn’t see any ants. When he touched two wires together, the garbage disposal roared to life. So, it appeared to be a simple loose connection. Who knows how that happened after 39 years?

As a precaution, I had him replace the whole switch, and he showed me how he twined the wires together to be extra-secure.

All was well until last Monday morning. I’d just scraped a pile of Roc and Tony’s rejected cat mush down the disposal when I flipped the switch and it was dead again.

The repair company couldn’t send someone until Friday, so I had to scoop the now-soaking-wet cat mush out of the disposal with my hand and into the stinky bag.

As the week dragged by, I kept flipping the switch to make sure it wasn’t a bad dream, but it was futile.

When the second repairman finally arrived, I flipped the switch for him once and it was dead. Then I flipped it again.

IT WORKED!! WTF??

And it worked every time after that. He checked out the new switch and everything looked fine. And no ants.

I felt like a complete fool, now out $99 for the unnecessary call. The repairman probably thought I’m a pathetic cat lady with more money than brains who calls in bogus issues for somebody to talk to.

Now, I throw anything down the garbage disposal with trepidation. Fool me twice… Or is “something” trying to get my attention using the electricity? This incident brought to mind what happened one night in October 2021.

I told you how the living room lamp mysteriously blew a bulb at a crucial moment while I was watching the Anthony Bourdain documentary, Roadrunner. The timing of that gave me chills.

What’s next?

UPDATE – IT JUST HAPPENED AGAIN: I first drafted this post two days ago, so the Phantom of the Garbage Disposal knew I was writing about it.

Yesterday morning, I was tidying up the Man Cave Café (a.k.a. upstairs bathroom). Max was sitting in the Man Cave (bedroom/junkroom) on the end table beside the couch, and Roc was standing at the opposite end of the couch. My back was turned when I heard a thump.

It was this small Amazon box holding my collection of plastic store “poop bags” nicely folded for future use…

As you can see, the box was securely tucked between other boxes. I haven’t touched it since I put it there weeks ago, and the cats were nowhere within striking distance. Now, that box was on the floor. Max and Roc were looking at the spot where it came from, but not spooked at all.

I recreated the moment to show you where/how the box landed, and Tony insisted on assisting me…

I have logistical questions about how the box landed with its top facing up without actually being lifted (or was it?). I put it back in position and pulled it out every which way. It always landed where Tony is standing. So, whatever’s doing this stuff is flexing its muscles. I swear I’m not making any of this up.


Just Got to Vent About Our Vet(rinarian)

January 14, 2022

By Karen

I won’t name them, but CW cats and this veterinary practice go back to the 1990s (with one prolonged breakup midway until our defection practice began going downhill). We have seen at least two generations of these vets.

They made life hell during the late Cole’s kidney failure, needlessly costing me hundreds of dollars on prescriptions by limiting the sources to their extortionately priced selves (like $5 a pill vs. 30 pills for $10 online) or one pricey online pharmacy they “partner” with (i.e., probably skim a cut from).

I fought the drug price battle until Cole’s last breath, and recall one day driving to their office THREE times because their dumb-as-doorknobs staff was incapable of producing a correct written prescription and refused to fax it anywhere. I had to snail-mail it to my supplier while the clock ticked down on Cole’s waning life. Their blithe obstruction would have made Mitch McConnell proud.

After Cole died, I went full Karen on the practice administrator over their failure to cooperate. But nothing has changed. The pandemic made it worse. Much worse.

Cole’s prescription issues resurfaced with Adele’s subsequent kidney failure battle, although they did allow me to use Sam’s Club, right down the street. Since they knew I could — and would — drive over and raise hell within minutes of any prescription screwup, that went smoother, although it still cost me much more than it should have.

What I’ll never forget about their treatment of Adele was that they were in a new building (the same move that doomed the alternate practice I mentioned in the opening), and it had a special area for euthanasia. On Adele’s last day alive, they told me to call from the parking lot so we could arrive through a private entrance.

I called, and got a recording that they’d gone to lunch and to call back in a few hours.

THEY had set the appointment to kill one of their patients and just FORGOT it?

So, Adele’s last trip was right past the dogs in their damn lobby.

Max, Roc and Tony haven’t had major issues, so our contacts have been mercifully infrequent.

However, the practice does periodically annoy me with their comical mass emails. They call us “Family” and share new policies to inconvenience us from the tone-deaf perspective that our primary concern is the happiness, safety and well-being of their staff. (Examples on request.)

So, yesterday I took Roc in for his annual checkup, this year a mere courtesy call because he’s fine and doesn’t need any shots.

They let me choose sitting out in the parking lot or accompanying him. I chose the latter. I was double-masked; the vet wore only a blue paper mask, like the one I had on under my triple-ply cloth mask.

As their policy dictates, I sat across the exam room while Roc rested calmly, facing away from me, in his carrier on the exam table, which was inexplicably retracted so it only fit the carrier and the scale.

Full length requires too much extra wiping down between patients perhaps?

Turns out their new “procedure” is to dismantle the carrier, which looks like this, with seven fasteners…

Roc is a most congenial cat and has ridden drama-free in this carrier since he was a kitten. I told the vet to tip it slightly and he’d walk right out. She ignored me, mumbling about “an article saying this is better” — because she knows Roc SO well.

Roc, for the first time ever, felt his safe place taken apart by strangers. Think it bothered him?

Well, when I took out the carrier today for the photo, I set it down beside Roc and he bolted. So, thanks a lot, Vet, for Roc’s new carrier phobia.

During his exam, Roc stood like a thoroughbred while the vet and her assistant pawed him from head to toe. The vet said a cat earlier had put up a fuss.

MY cat didn’t. He was a pro. But you treated him like he was a problem.

Bottom line: These few stories I’ve shared just scratch the surface. We need a new vet.

I’m glad I got that off my chest. Ready for some Cats Working Christmas videos? Their big surprises this year (which Tony almost sniffed out prematurely as I was charging them in the bathroom) were Floppy Fish!

Tony and Roc were immediately intrigued (you’ll see Roc’s tail go by when he loses interest)…

Then Tony decided to show Floppy who’s boss while Max looked on…

Roc’s attack strategy is total domination…

Max didn’t quite know what to make of them and seemed more interested in the rest of Christmas (you get to see everyone in their celebratory mess)…

Tony and Roc enjoyed their annual viewing of Video Catnip, and here’s just a snippet. It’s 25 minutes long and they watched it TWICE…

Here’s the gang relaxing after toys, treats, and ‘nip…

BONUS: Tony watched the snow fall in the backyard last week from the Man Cave window…


Cats Call a Time-Out on Christmas

December 29, 2021

By Roc

Karen’s already told you about keeping Christmas low-key, and we cats were fine with that. But we’ve gone even lower.

Tony has become — hmm, how to put this delicately? Let’s say “sociophobic.” He freaks when he sees the mail truck at our mailbox. He growls and dashes for the bedroom if Amazon Prime shows up, even if they’re not delivering here.

Tony’s going through a reclusive phase

So on Christmas Eve, Mr. July 2021 RAL Calendar was a total no-show when Karen had her human family (and sister’s boyfriend) over for lunch. (Max slept through it upstairs in his Max Cave.)

Lunch sounds like no biggie, but around here it means rearranging the whole house. We’re set up for three cats and a human — not four extra humans.

Many blankies must be pulled off the furniture and washed (otherwise, they’d lie in a dirty pile). Chairs must be moved. Then there’s dusting, vacuuming, and scrubbing the kitchen and bathroom from top to bottom.

We cats help with none of that.

Karen says you never know what a filthy mess your house is until you view it through your mother the real estate agent’s eyes.

I donned my festive Christmas collar to help Karen host our guests in hopes I’d score some pepperoni for my suave affability (I did).

Roc’s singing “Fa-la-la-la-la-la,” not snarling

Trying to keep it simple, Karen served pizza. She wanted a tasty huge one delivered, but the chances were too great that every pizza place she’d call would laugh in her face, saying, “Half the city wants pizza today, lady, so we’re running low on toppings. We’ll get it there in about three hours after we make more dough, if you’re lucky, and it’ll be cold.”

Plan B was a Food Lion supreme ready-made deal we baked ourselves, which worked out fine. Everybody ate it and nobody puked.

Afterward, our guests hadn’t even gotten to the end of the street when Tony and Max strolled in like nothing had happened.

We cats don’t help with cleanup, either, unless it’s pepperoni on the floor, so Karen spent the rest of the day re-wrapping the furniture and getting the house back to normal. She went to bed so dog-tired, she didn’t even watch Love, Actually.

Christmas morning, Karen overslept and barely had her coffee and newspaper before she had to dress and go to her parents’ for presents and a big midday meal, leaving us sitting here alone with our tails up our butts all afternoon.

The peeps went light on presents, so Karen didn’t return with a trunkful of stuff we have no place for. However, she did acquire some kind of felt Amish quilt of rando cats that needs to be “assembled.” Who doesn’t love an unforeseen Christmas project thrust upon them?

We know what somebody’s getting back for Christmas next year!

By now, Christmas was almost over, so we all agreed to save our stockings for New Year’s. Then we can eat treats (for Karen, it’s soybeans), watch Video Catnip as many times as we like, and play with toys all day.

So, that’s the new plan and it feels great. No pressure, and we’re still enjoying Santa Kitty anticipation.

(Well, not Tony. UPS just stopped across the street and he’s literally having a hissy. Tony, I mean, not the UPS guy.)

PS: A few nights ago, Tony thought he smelled catnip in Karen’s bathroom, of all places. While investigating, he accidentally knocked the drinking glass into the sink, upon which Karen sprang out of bed and quickly hid whatever she was up to. Tony only got a peek, but he says it’s large and ‘nippy, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Cats Working hope you and your families have a great New Year’s weekend, and we’ll see you in 2022.


Having Ourselves a Teeny-Tiny Christmas

December 20, 2021

By Karen

Remember last year, when I put up the big tree and decorated it with my whole cat ornament collection?

Well, fuggedaboutit in 2021. I think being incessantly nagged about “getting started on Christmas early” since before Halloween caused attitude backlash, and this is me today…

I’m not feeling the spirit at all, not even a little. This year’s tree is cat-size — with no ornaments, no lights, no garland — and the four presents under it are IT, and none are for me…

It annoyed me no end that I actually had to wrap one, but I was able to get the other three into bags and throw some tissue paper on top. Done.

I dipped into my boxes of house decorations just enough to fish out bows for the banister…

And stockings on the fireplace, which Max is inspecting…

Santa Kitty, being a highly efficient feline, has already stopped by to avoid being rushed on Christmas Eve. When I peeked in my stocking, this is what I found…

Who on Earth wants fucking soybeans for Christmas? But I gave up years ago on wishing for magical gifts and someone special to celebrate with, so why not soybeans? It could have been kitty litter.

I haven’t listened to Christmas carols because the ones that aren’t monotonous are mostly sad. I haven’t watched any Christmas TV specials or Hallmark Christmas rom-coms. I don’t need my nose rubbed in the fact that Christmas is for couples, especially couples with kids.

(Maybe the cats and I will watch Love, Actually on Christmas Eve, since it will be just us. The family, who traditionally came over for Christmas Eve dinner, is doing lunch instead, so no driving after dark.)

Even though I cut my Christmas card list to the bone last year, I’ve sent none.

On the other hand, I’ve only received three. Apparently Trump’s incompetent postmaster general puppet who still festers in the USPS has succeeded in killing “DeJoy” in the card tradition by making postage pricey and delivery iffy.

When I venture out to buy groceries and cat supplies, the parking lots are packed and stores infested with maskless disease-spreaders rummaging among whatever shelves aren’t bare for whatever marked-up, unwanted, unneeded crap they can buy for “loved ones” they otherwise don’t mind killing with COVID denial.

I’ll confess there was a nanosecond I wanted to resuscitate my spirit by switching things up with a white Christmas tree. So, I went to At Home, which is normally Christmas Mecca with trees and trimmings in every color you can imagine.

I found what looked like last-year’s unsold leftovers laid out in heaps, and whole aisles in the Christmas section empty. It was so depressing, I walked out empty-handed and that was that.

The cats are rolling with our minimalist approach and have knocked the tree over only twice. Even though I’m not feeling it, on Christmas morning, don’t worry, they’ll have plenty of toys, catnip, treats and, of course, our annual showing of Video Catnip

Hope your holidays are going better.


Delta Surges, Masks Disappear. WTF?

August 13, 2021

By Karen

During the one brief, shining moment COVID was on the decline, I still never went out frivolously or stopped wearing a mask — not even after July 1, when it once again became a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to conceal your face in public. (Luckily, I haven’t heard of anybody going down on a mask rap.)

Virginia’s mask prohibition went back into effect when Governor Ralph Northam allowed the pandemic state of emergency to expire on June 30. Now, the Delta variant is rampaging through our red regions. But instead of again requiring masks in indoor settings, Northam’s wussing out and says just to follow CDC guidelines, which seem to change every five fucking minutes.

(I don’t blame the CDC, but keeping up with this shit is exhausting.)

Northam, a pediatric neurosurgeon in real life, just mandated masks for everyone in K-12 when schools open in the fall. Some parents are outraged, because they must want their kids sick or dead.

But many adults are NOT following CDC guidelines. As of this moment, the CDC says EVERYONE, vaccinated or not, should mask up indoors in “high” or “substantial” transmission areas. According to this map, that’s most of Virginia.

Many vaccinated people are apparently unaware they can inhale snootfuls of Delta from unvaxxed maskholes who walk among us. Even if the vaxxed themselves don’t get sick, they become walking COVID carriers.

This past week at Food Lion and Sam’s Club, I was gobsmacked to see predominantly barefaced customers, and some employees. The ones in masks mostly seemed to be older ladies like me who don’t want even a dab of COVID.

I blame this on the myriad stupid sources people consider “news.” I’m not just talking about Trumpy media outlets and Facebook.

With the proliferation of cable channels, streaming, social media, and even CNN’s sketchy coverage of most things, there’s no longer any main trusted source where everyone gets the same story. We used to get our news from competently staffed newspapers and career journalists like Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Murrow, Huntley and Brinkley, and other professionals committed to reporting the facts without putting their own editorial spin on them.

Speaking of news, spare me any more tales of how COVID is ravaging states in the South and Midwest — a.k.a. Trump Country.

Last year, they were all oblivious while hundreds of thousands of their fellow Americans suffered and died. Today, they still refuse the vaccinations that could save their lives because their ignorance has become impenetrable after soaking in so many lies and conspiracy theories from God-knows-where.

So, now it’s their turn to get deathly ill and die, and in the immortal words of Melania’s jacket, “I really don’t care, do you?”

My sympathy goes to the selfless medical providers tasked with trying to save these morons from horrible, 100% preventable, self-inflicted deaths after they thoughtlessly sucked in a deadly virus through their maskless pieholes, mistaking it for “freedom.”

Now that it’s no longer blue states bearing the brunt of fatalities, some Republican leaders are admitting masks and vaccines aren’t so bad after all. It’s finally dawning on them that they’re screwed when they succeed in killing off much of their base in those sparsely populated, vast swaths of nowhere. They forgot to ram through any laws in those states giving livestock the right to vote.


Cats Working May be Haunted

July 30, 2021

By Karen

Yesterday was a big day here, but as in any suspense tale, I’m going to work backward to describe it.

Last night, after an afternoon under the bed (why in a minute), Tony must have been feeling his 31 days of fame waning as Mr. July on the Richmond Animal League’s calendar.

After dinner, he threw himself down on the living room floor to contemplate his next career move and wonder if he had peaked too soon…

“Could I really be a has-been at 2 years old?”

But with Tony’s looks, brains and charisma, he has nothing to worry about. I’m sure we’ll figure something out.

In the afternoon, a crew I’ve been waiting nearly two months for finally showed up to take down the dead tree in the front yard.

In the spring, I worried when that tree was a few weeks late putting out leaves, and its trunk looked paler than the others. Then when all the new leaves immediately began to die, I had to pull the plug on it or risk it taking out my office and the kitchen in a storm.

I never watch when I lose a tree, but I think it came down in sections because there was never a big crash. A lot of moss in the yard was torn up where I guess the pieces fell.

Nevertheless, it was a noisy business. Roc sat calmly in the living room with me through it all. Max stayed in the Man Cave and Tony went under the bed.

Grinding the stump turned out to be the worst of it. This is now our view from the big kitchen window. The red circle is where the tree was…

Now all is sawdust where once there was moss.

My yard guy isn’t returning my calls about cleaning up. Here’s the mess from the walk, facing the house. This isn’t a situation that’s just going to heal itself over time…

The rocks strewn about were the border of a patch of daffodils and azaleas, now a wasteland.

But the day began in my bedroom with something I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it myself. This bookcase is one of six around the house and stands opposite my bed. It holds mostly New Age books from my 30s, as well as other prized volumes, like the copy of Little Women I got at Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott’s home in Concord, Massachusetts, where she wrote it…

The corner shelf holds some of my vast cats collection.

Notice the arrow pointing to a book I pulled out on the bottom shelf, just to show you where it came from. It was actually on the shelf in line with the rest. Since Roc refused to participate in a reenactment, the black stuffy cat on the floor is his stand-in, and a waterbowl is to its left.

Anyway, I was making the bed and Roc was getting a drink. He turned to walk past the bookcase when that book suddenly flew out and fell on the floor in front of him. Roc jumped back, but then calmly went around it and hunkered down in the opposite corner to watch ME.

Did he know or see who did that?

It was just like the poltergeist activity you see on Paranormal: Caught on Camera.

The cats never bother that bookcase, and I haven’t touched it myself in months. This is the book that flew out…

Why this book? Does the title have any significance?

It happens to be the last book I shelved there, unfinished because I didn’t like it. I felt a little tingly as I put it back.

There’s no way that book moved on its own. No book has EVER fallen off that shelf before. So, what was it? It couldn’t have been the spirit of the tree, because this happened hours before either of us knew it was going down that day.

BONUS: Cats Working reader Glamour Milk uncovered this (possibly) maiden interview with Anthony Bourdain in 1995. He was just 39, pre-thumb ring, pre-Les Halles, beginning his writing career as a novelist with Bone in the Throat)…

On “Connie Martinson Talks Books,” August 1995

He wrote a second novel, Gone Bamboo, before he hit it big with Kitchen Confidential. You have to download the interview here…

https://ccdl.claremont.edu/digital/collection/cmt/search/searchterm/Bourdain%2C%20Anthony/field/creato/mode/exact/conn/and

But it’s well worth it, especially in hindsight, for what he says about loyalty and betrayal.

Many thanks to Glamour Milk for her online sleuthing. Morgan Neville might have been interested in this for Roadrunner, had he uncovered it.

The same link includes another 2002 interview about A Cook’s Tour. Notice Tony’s marked increase in confidence, sophistication and gray hair. Also, the thumb ring.


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