sheets of plastic
Tuesday, May 31 2011
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
When the solar controller misbehaves these days it sometimes sounds like a cha-chattering katydid, which, in late May, is not a seasonably-appropriate sound. The sound comes from the activation of relays three times in quick succession followed by a short pause. It happens over and over if for some reason the controller should get stuck in a watchdog-timer-induced reset loop. I thought I'd fixed the bug causing this problem but evidently not, at least not completely. Today I made it so that on average every 20th restart of the system will cause it to pause six seconds before doing anything. This is to hopefully eventually break it out of any weird synchronous behavior caused by transients resulting from some freakish combination of firing relays.
While I was down in the basement at one point dealing with the aforementioned issue, I happened to see Julius (aka "Stripey") coming out of Gretchen's basement library. I try to keep the door to that room shut so cats won't go in there to use one her closets as a urinal, but Gretchen (who seemed to have faith that the cats no longer had this behavior) keeps leaving the door open. When it comes to cats and urination, I've learned that faith is not enough. So I went in there and poked my nose around in the closet. In recent weeks I've been suspicious that occasional pissing was still happening, but this morning there could be no doubt: it stank of cat piss. There was even a puddle of piss pooled up on one of the many decorative shopping bags Gretchen stores in there (she saves nice bags to reuse when giving gifts to friends and family). As for who was responsible, it was difficult to say. In the past it was pretty clear that Nigel (our newest cat with a known propensity for extra-litter-box urination) was the culprit, but I haven't seen Nigel going downstairs very often and this morning it was Stripey who had been at the scene of the crime. It's possible that Stripey had been pissing down there in hopes of negating the traces of Nigel's urine remaining several months after I waged a massive jihad to clean that carpet back in February. In any case, the prospect of having to wage that same fucking jihad all over again exhausted and defeated me. But what else could I do? That carpet couldn't be left like it was.
Again we had to throw out things (baskets, bags, and boxes) that had been too badly tainted to salvage. I wasn't the nicest husband in the world when informing her of the problem, resorting to sarcasm such as "Let's just keep everything we want to throw out in that closet."
I drenched the closet's carpet alternately with cheap Shop Rite distilled vinegar and hot water, slurping the water up between drenchings with the wet vac. When I was done, I opened the windows to the outdoors and brought in powerful fan to encourage airflow. The entire basement stank of cat piss despite my efforts, but I'm hoping that I actually got most of it and that the vinegar weakened the peptide bonds in the feline fragrance proteins. Once the carpet is dry, I think we should lay down some plastic and keep the floor of the closet empty until we're sure we've broken any self-sustaining urinational one-upsmanship between Stripey and Nigel.
When it comes to problem cats, I've found that sheets of plastic are sometimes your only effective solution. When, for example, Marie (aka "the Baby") insisted on crapping back by my power supplies under the low part of the ceiling in the laboratory, I eventually gave up and put down plastic, which made cleaning up after her much easier. More recently, the Baby found a new place to go whenever her diarrhea is particularly explosive: the low-ceilinged part of the teevee room behind the couch. We never go back there, and the floors are covered with wall-to-wall carpet, the worst-possible material. The solution was to lay down plastic and open up access to that area so the dogs can go back there. It's disgusting to have your dogs cleaning out litter boxes and otherwise finding and eating cat shit, but the fact of the matter is that they do it whether you like it or not and they love doing it. Might as well put them to use, since we don't really ask all that much from them.
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