Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Zap and Me

Even before we got married, Helen let me know that she wanted a cat and I let her know that I didn't like cats. Eventually I relented and in 1992, after we had been married for about 4 years, I told her that she could get a cat for her birthday.

Helen wanted a playful cat so she picked out the most active cat from the shelter, a female gray tabby kitten. I picked out her name: Zap. Little did Helen realized what getting a playful kitten meant. Zap had very strong instincts. She would stalk Helen, then run up behind her and pounce, bite, and run away.

I always thought that cats were independent and Zap was no exception. But Zap was also a loving cat. Unfortunately she sometimes seemed to love me more than Helen. Zap would lay on my lap and look over at Helen as if to say "I've got your man." Zap's idea of the pecking order was me at the top, then Zap, and the Helen as the number 2 wife. I think that Zap was willing to accept my dominance because I once bit her (not hard) on the back of her neck.

Zap was also affectionate towards Helen. We let her sleep in our bed even though she did the typical cat thing of laying on our heads.

When Rachel was born, Zap was 8 years old and had mellowed some. Even so, it took Zap a little while to accept Rachel. When Rachel got older Zap helped teach her how to be gentle with animals. She did this by biting anyone who got to rough with her. She would later teach A.J. the same lesson.

As time went on she slowed down but she was actually quite healthy. She had pink eye once so we had to put stuff in her eyes. There were also a couple of time when she had to take pills for several days. This was not fun for either her or us.

She gave us a scare a few months ago by getting outside and disappearing. We though that she was gone for good but a good Samaritan found her and was able to return her to us because we had her chipped when she was just a couple of years old.

Over the past week or so she really started to show her age. She could make it up and down the stairs any more so we put a litter box upstairs. She stopped sleeping on the bed and started sleeping on the couch, and eventually the floor. She wasn't eating solid food so we gave her chicken broth.

It was obvious that she didn't have much time left so Helen made sure that the kids told her that they loved her before they went to bed on Monday night. Zap passed away quietly in her sleep later that night.

You were a good cat Zap. I loved you and I'll miss you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Moonlight Ramble

The Moonlight ramble is a midnight bicycle ride held on the Saturday in August closest to the full moon. Typically there are over 10,000 riders. I had never done the it before but I had always wanted to. I mentioned to Rachel in July and she was excited about doing it.

The weekend before the Moonlight Ramble we did a ride to get ready. We did 9 miles on a very hot Saturday. This was a new personal record for distance for my daughter. The weather cooled off in the next few days so we had great temperatures for the ride.

We headed to the start at about 10pm on the 13th. I wanted to get there early because we hadn't pre-registered. They were so well organized that it only took a few minutes to register. Since we had some time to kill we wandered around and bought some Ted Drewes. Rachel really wanted to do the long route (17+ miles). I told her that I we could try it but I would ask her again once we got to the point where the routes split. There was a lot going on in downtown Saint Louis that night: the Moonlight Ramble, a Cardinal game, a Rams preseason game, and a Taylor Swift concert.

They release the riders a few hundred at a time so it takes a while to get everyone on the road. I was a little worried that we might be the slowest riders but that was not a problem. The streets are closed off so we did not have to worry about cars, but we did have to worry about other riders. Only about half the riders had any sort of lights. I had put my extra lights on Rachel's bike so she had both headlights and tail lights. At one point another rider said that he thought we were a car coming up behind him with our headlights side by side.

Rachel had a great time and had no problem choosing the long route we we split off. There were a few time that the large number of riders cause some congestion but no real problems. Rachel listened to my suggestions and improved as the ride progressed. We were both annoyed by all the speed bumps in Tower Grove Park.

After we finished the ride, Rachel was willing to ride back to our car on the street. She normally doesn't like riding where there are traffic lights but her confidence was very high. She was already talking about doing this next year.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Familiar danger vs unfamilar danger

I rode with my friend Eric after work today. We rode about 23 miles, mostly on a bike trail. He drives to work and brought his bike with him. He mentioned that he was about halfway to work this morning when he realized that he had forgotten his helmet. He turned around and went back and got it. I told him that that may not have been the best decision from a safety standpoint.

I believe that riding with a helmet is safer than riding without one, So turning around made his bike ride safer. But what about the extra 10 miles he drove? Obviously driving has a risk associated with it so driving 10 miles is less safe than not driving that distance.

Any actuaries want to weight in on this?

(I don't know what the helmet laws are in St. Louis so let's leave them out of this problem.)