Recently in Ruminations Category

Doe a deer, a roadkill deer


All of these mild, short winters we’ve been having have really bumped up the deer population. I’ll never forget coming out of the Shop-Rite on Route 206 near Princeton a while back and seeing a doe scurrying around the parking lot.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunately able to slam on my brakes in time to avoid hitting a deer in my lane. The stupid thing just stood there, even after I had stopped. I had to beep the horn to get it to move off the road.

This past Friday evening, my dad, who lives in western PA, wasn’t quite so lucky. A doe and a buck were in his lane, and another doe was in the opposing lane. He was only going around 45 mph, but braking caused his truck to spin around (I’m guessing he swerved), and the rear of his truck struck one of the deer, and his passenger side door struck an embankment.

The vehicle following him also struck one of the deer.

Fortunately, no one was hurt. My dad did bump his head slightly. Unfortunately, his truck got a bit smashed up. Sadly, it is a used truck that he has spent most of the spring and summer trying to get running, and he had just finished it.

Late fall and early winter are when deer are on the move because of hunting season or mating season. A CNN report I found while Googling said that there are around 4000 deer-related traffic accidents a day.

I was curious too whether those wind-powered plastic deer whistles work. I used to have one, but it fell off after a car wash. One study said that road noise drowns them out. There is a company makes a higher decibel electronic deer whistle for $60, but I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle of installation.

Oh well, I guess the easy thing to do is slow down, turn on headlights at dusk, and stay alert.

Friday cat blogging


Let me preface this atypical feline-related blog entry by saying that the poor guy in the photo below has made an amazing recovery and is already scurrying about my parents’ yard, albeit with one less leg.

July was not a good month for my parents’ cat. The little white bundle of limitless energy had always been an explorer and was fiercely independent, even for a cat, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when he did not return home that Sunday night.

My mom started to get worried by the next evening, when he still did not return. By Wednesday, my parents feared the worst. It had been raining all day, and late in the afternoon, my mom heard a faint cry near the top of their yard. He was wet and shivering, his fur caked with blood and pus, and he could barely move; yet somehow he made his way home.

They called the vet at his house, and he met them at his office. The cat had been struck by a vehicle days ago. His leg was crushed and infected, he was starving and dehydrated, and fever had set in. It was uncertain whether he had internal injuries.

They washed him up best they could, and the vet administered some antibiotics. All that was left to do then was wait. If the cat could survive the night and if he could stand on his own three legs, the vet would amputate the cat’s hind leg.

Being able to support his own weight and balance on three legs was crucial; otherwise, the doctor would not operate. If he could not stand on his own before the amputation, he probably never would, and he would have to be put to sleep.

After a night of rest that was probably quite painful, the little guy had a bit more energy. He could lift his head and could, in fact, stand.

The amputation was a success, and he did not seem to have any serious internal injuries. It took him a few days to get used to walking. Using the litter box was the toughest for him. Two weeks later, he got his stitches out.

A month later, he is getting back to normal. However, at least for now, he is no longer allowed outside without a leash and harness. The leash can be attached to the clothesline, so he can run around most of the yard. Months ago he got used to wearing a bell if he wanted to go outside (their bird feeder had become a cat feeder), now he will have to get used to the leash.

One thing that made me wonder about the whole thing was whether a cat’s mind could fully comprehend such a severe trauma. Did he understand the cause and effect, the chain of events that led to those days of severe pain, the loss of his leg, and the subsequent loss of his freedom?

Home, sweet(?), home

As I wearily shuffled down the stairs from the Air Train to the rail platform, a cool nighttime breeze fluttered through my hair, and the smell of rotting garbage assaulted my nostrils. I looked over at my travelling companion and knew he was thinking the same thing.

God, it felt good to back in New Jersey.


There are some workdays that are just so frustratingly unproductive—the last thing I want to do when I get home is look at a glowing screen (computer or television).

Thank goodness for old school reading material printed on dead trees.



My mother sends out a Mother’s Day card to her son (me) every year. I do wonder how unique I am throughout the entire world in that regard.

She buys a normal Mother’s Day card, alters it a bit with Wite-Out and an ink pen, then mails it off.

Her reasoning stems from the fairly obvious observation that if it wasn’t for her sons, she wouldn’t be a mother—and so she wants to express her extreme gratitude for that circumstance.

I try to explain to her that that’s not quite what the holiday is supposed to be for, but she replies that she can celebrate Mother’s Day any way she likes. She is correct, of course. I do love my mom.


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This afternoon we had a team-slash-morale-building event at Triumph Brewing Company, the very same one I mentioned here ten days ago. I was actually looking forward to having some more of that coffee and cream stout.

“Oh, sorry, we ran out of that one yesterday, try the Oatmeal Stout.” Damn it. I guess I’ll have to wait until they brew another batch.

I did try the Oatmeal Stout. It was sour and disappointing. Blech-y. The Nut Brown Ale wasn’t bad. I ended up taking home half of a half gallon. I also took home a half gallon of Amber Ale. We had lots of leftovers, and I really wanted the cool half-gallon bottles with the Triumph logo. Now I have all of this preservative-free beer and no one to drink it with.

The team-building event was fun. It was nice to see other members of our sub-department who work in other buildings across campus. It was nowhere nearly as creepy as “Casino Night” on last night’s episode of The Office. Good show. You know, I totally feel Jim’s pain. (Of course, if that show was really trying to be realistic, next season would open with Jim being accused of sexual harassment and Pam leaving, but I digress….)

Spring haiku

Thick yellow pollen
Clings to the hood of my car.
Shit. I just washed it.

Six six six

This one’s kind of random and a bit silly, but it didn’t mentally connect the dots until recently. I’m flying to Cleveland to attend a conference on 06/06/06. (Cleveland rocks.)

Also, Princeton’s class of 2006 is graduating on 06/06/06.

Probably not a good day to graduate or fly if you are superstitious or overly religious. Otherwise, the date is meaningless. Although, it will probably be the root of way too many jokes over the next month.

Update: Well, it looks like the flight is only an hour and forty-five minutes, so we booked it for the 7th, making half of this post moot. Oh well.


“Down to here; Down to there; Down to where; It stops by itself.”

So I finally did it. I went six months without getting a hair cut. The last time I mentioned my brownish locks, I had shaved my scalp bald with my Gillette Mach 3.

I really don’t like having long hair, but I had never before let it grow out for more than a few months at a time. My straight, waveless hair can be a bit tough to manage, the longer it gets.

Also, it grows much slower up top than in the back. It’s not quite Macgyver or Joe Dirt…”business up front, party in the back,” but it’s close.

God, I almost look like a freaking academic. You know, when I was young, I used to wonder why Einstein would let his unruly hair stick out all over the place, but now I must confess, there are days when I know I won’t see anyone else, I just let my follicles position themselves however the hell they want. Why waste time with a comb?

I won’t be going bald again, though. I’ll probably stop by a hair salon this week for the first time since August.

Update: Six months and three days was all I could take. I chose Hair Cuttery because I had some errands at Staples and Whole Foods in the same plaza. I found it amusing that the stylists were all talking about this week’s episode of The Apprentice because apparently Hair Cuttery was that show’s business of the week. Hmm. I used to occasionally watch The Apprentice, but once they started airing opposite 24, there’s no contest.

Life/Work balance

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I really haven’t been doing so well with the life/work balance thing lately. Obviously, this can’t continue because I am not only burning out, but I have been neglecting my fitness, and my normal cynicism sometimes borders on bitterness.

In the past year, I have taken on additional responsibility (at work and as an independent contractor)—partly because I have a hard time saying no to people, partly because throwing myself into my work distracted me from the fact that I really didn’t have much of a life outside the university.

That last part is one of those downward spiral, self-fulfilling kind of situations.

In fact, my work life versus my “life life” is about as balanced as a scale with Andre “the Giant” Roussimoff on one side and Kate Moss on the other (two-dimensional Kate Moss from that one episode of Family Guy, that is).

I tell myself that if I can just get through the next month’s worth of projects, I can get back to taking care of myself. Then the next month comes, bringing more projects. Then the next month…

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