Kittens on my shoulder

So today I spent a few hours down at the SF SPCA doing my thing as a cat socializer. I’ve been volunteering for almost a year now. I was unemployed when I first began to volunteer, and I would head over to the shelter three or four times a week. Now that I have a job again, I only get there about 4 times a month.

During kitten season, I spend a lot of my time at the SPCA working with undersocialized (aka feral) kittens who need to get used to humans so they can make good pets. It’s not always easy to work with kittens who really don’t want to be held or handled. But the good thing is, if you get them young, they can do a complete behavioral turnaround in a short amount of time. It’s really rewarding to see a kitten that used to be all hissy and scared climb all over you, purring and giving kitten kisses.

Not all the kittens are hard to work with. In between the ferals, I spent a chunk of time visiting with a Mom-cat and her litter of 6 kittens. They’ve all been weaned onto food but are staying with their mother until they’re big enough to be adopted out. One of the kittens climbed up onto my shoulder, plopped down, and stayed there the entire time I was in the room. The Mom-cat took a nap. And the other 5 kittens decided I was the best toy they’d ever seen and decided to climb all over me, chew on my hands, my shoes, and my pants, and generally do all sorts of cute kittenish things. Aside from the fact that 2 of them smelled like poop, it was a ton of fun.

I don’t take my camera to the shelter because I don’t want the flash to upset the kitties, but I really wish I had a photo of the kitten on my shoulder. She was a sweetie. I hope she finds a good home.

I’ve had better days

I really didn’t want to go to work today. The thought of being all chipper and sales-y on the 9/11 anniversary just felt wrong. Unfortunately, I was scheduled for closing shift, so after a quiet morning at home, off I went.

I had been hoping that it would be a quiet day, but I was wrong. As I walked through the mall, things were pretty normal. One store (Lucky Jeans) had an American flag out by the door but otherwise it was business as usual. We got pretty much a normal amount of traffic for a week day. I did some paperwork and stockroom work to try to avoid the sales floor. Eventually, out I went and I did my thing, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

I know that here in the Bay Area, 2500 miles from New York City, most people didn’t have the same visceral reaction to 9/11 as I did. It was bad for them, but not in the same deeply painful way as it was for someone like me, a native NYer who spent 3 years working across the street from the World Trade Center.

I kept wanting to ask the women who were strolling through the mall, “How can you just go about your normal lives today? Don’t you know what day it is?” It seemed somehow wrong or disrespectful to be out shopping. It did occur to me that going about one’s normal day is not necessarily bad. If nothing else, it says that the attacks didn’t change how people live their daily lives. And that’s a positive thing.

But for me, the wounds aren’t healed enough yet. It’s too soon for me to treat 9/11 like any other day. Maybe next year, or the year after that, I’ll feel differently. But this year, I really wish I didn’t have to be at work on 9/11.

The DaVinci Code

I sacrificed a few hours of sleep last night to finish Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”. I have to say, when I finished, I kind of wished I’d gone to sleep instead. I won’t say too much because I don’t want to give away plot if you haven’t read it, but given the generally excellent reviews the book has gotten, I felt that the ending was a real wimp-out.

A Day Off For Dean

A rare Saturday off. Scott and I went to a favorite local diner for breakfast and then I headed downtown to help out the SF4Dean team. Governor Howard Dean was in SF today to address health care workers SEIU Local 250. That event was not open to the general public, but the governor was scheduled to give a brief speech afterwards to Dean enthusiasts in adjoining Yerba Buena Garden – a rare patch of green on Mission Street.

I had decided to spend the extra $ for parking and drove down. This turned out to be a good idea, as immediately I met up with Dianne, the volunteer coordinator, who had parked a few cars away from me. I helped her carry some stuff up to the meeting spot and spent the next 2 hours standing behind a makeshift Dean table, greeting volunteers and suporters, handing out stickers, clipboards and flyers, telling people what the schedule was, and generally trying to be helpful. The table migrated down the block to Yerba Buena after the SEIU speech began and again when the exact location for the speech was determined.

Around 4:00 PM, Dean made his appearance and I climbed a convenient light pole to wave an American flag a supporter had dropped off and got a nice view of Dean and the crowd. Dean gave a short version of his stump speech and the crowd was very receptive. I’m a poor judge of crowds but my guess is 150-200 people were there.

My parents were active and enthisuastic Democrats when I was a kid, and politics is something I’ve cared about and tried to stay informed on pretty much my entire life. That said, this was the first time I’ve actually been a volunteer at a political event. I hope my schedule will allow it to not be the last. I had a great time, but more important, I hope that in a small way I did some good for a candidate I want to see in the White House.

I’ve also started a Dean Team to do some fundraising for Governor Dean. Cash is tight in our house, so I can’t put my money where my mouth is the way I’d like to. You’re invited to help out.

Good for business, bad for privacy?

An older article from The Register (a favorite news site) got called to my attention today. RFID, which hasn’t gotten much attention to date, is poised to become a serious threat to personal privacy over the next few years. The potential for RFID to make the lives of retail businesspeople easier is vast – and as one of them, I can’t say that that’s a bad thing. I just got 60 cases of shoes – more than 1,500 pounds of product – delivered to my store in the past 2 days. Comparing the contents of each case to the printed manifest of what’s supposed to be there is a pain in the butt. If I could just wave a scanner over all the boxes and get an exact inventory readout that I could upload to the computer, I’d be thrilled.

However, something is going to have to be done to allow consumers to remove or disable RFID chips once products have left the store, just like we can remove the sales tags and security devices today. The potential for abuse is just way too vast for there to be any wiggle room on this one. “Once you buy your RFID-tagged jeans at The Gap with RFID-tagged money, walk out of the store wearing RFID-tagged shoes, and get into your car with its RFID-tagged tires, you could be tracked anywhere you travel.” says The Register, and it’s not a pretty picture.