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It’s not one of mine, I swear!


Oscar is a two-year-old cat adopted as a kitten by Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, RI, where I be at (Providence, not a nursing home. Not yet, bucko). Oscar isn’t an especially friendly cat. Doesn’t seem to like people that much, in fact.

Every morning, Oscar makes the rounds of the dementia ward, checking up on everybody, just like a real doctor. Say, Dr Kevorkian. Because, every once in a while, Oscar will hop up on the bed and curl up next to somebody. And when he does this, that old coot is going to die today.

So far, he’s gotten it right upwards of 25 times, which is a better track record than the doctors. When Oscar cuddles up to somebody, they call that person’s family and a priest. One ungrateful wretch asked that Oscar be put out of the room while he said goodbye to his mom. Oscar paced up and down the hall, mewing.

Sender-inner thinks they’re overlooking the obvious explanation: when no-one’s looking, Oscar bumps people off (presumably by the classic feline method of breath-stealing). Me, I think it’s adequately explained by the “special relationship” between cats and the Man in Black. The one with the sickle, not the one with the guitar. Eh. Either one, at this point.

The New England Journal of Medicine started the story, but they only have a one hundred word excerpt online. This blog seems to have transcribed the story from the print edition (it’s a much-typo’d telling that begins with the same hundred words). Also covered by the BBC, CNN and everybody else. Update: Awww shoot! Now Drudge has it. That always makes me feel so…common.


Comment from Paul Sunstone
Time: July 26, 2007, 10:03 am

Why is it always a cat who predicts these things? Why can’t it be a nubile 16 year old cheerleader who jumps in your bed and curls up next to you? Why a cat?

Comment from Lokki
Time: July 26, 2007, 10:17 am

This puts a whole new spin on one of my favorite T-shirt slogans:

Your cat knows exactly how you feel. He doesn’t care, but he knows….

Comment from Lokki
Time: July 26, 2007, 10:21 am

Dead man waitin’ here
Dat ol cat, he’s a comin’
To steal my breath

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 26, 2007, 10:33 am

Hey, the curse of Weasel’s Horoscope continues! “You feel sad for a moment” is the message you get playing the venerable game nethack (AKA The Game That Ate A Year of My Life) when your dog gets killed in a remote part of the dungeon, out of your visual range.

Okay, I’m not sure how it’s related. It involves death and pets, okay?

Comment from Gnus
Time: July 26, 2007, 11:19 am

If I’m bad enough off to be croakin’ in the next four hours or so, I dunno how much a nubile 16 yr old would help.

But I’d want to try it, just in case.

Comment from porkthebean
Time: July 26, 2007, 11:41 am

Well, they use dogs to sniff out infection, so a cat, who is sensitive to temperature and smell also can do some doctoring – in their own way. I’m thinking by the time the cat jumps on his next ‘victims’ bed, that person probably doesn’t really care.
Now if I were a worker at this facility, I would get extremely nervous if this cat suddenly became my friend.

Comment from porkthebean
Time: July 26, 2007, 11:47 am

Seeing as my daughter and her friends are getting near the age of 16, and seeing how immature in the ways of life they are (and thinking back to when I was that age and the many times I got propositioned by ‘older’ guys – EWW)…

SLAP, SLAP….take that you nastys.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 26, 2007, 11:58 am

Reminds me of that joke about giving out Viagra at the old folks’ home to keep elderly gents from rolling out of bed at night.

Comment from porkthebean
Time: July 26, 2007, 12:00 pm


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 26, 2007, 3:24 pm

Yeah… So let’s see the cutsey-pie brigade lolcat their way around that one !

Hope it’s not something special about RI cats ….

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 26, 2007, 3:59 pm

Don’t dare me…

Comment from jwpaine
Time: July 26, 2007, 4:37 pm

Weez! You played NetHack, too??? I thought it was all a bad three-year nightmare I was having back in the late 80s.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: July 26, 2007, 4:39 pm

I can haz ur TiVo?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 26, 2007, 5:10 pm

The year was 1985. I had just taken out a whopping loan to by a retarded XT clone. I didn’t know it was retarded, though. I thought it was GOD. I had no software whatsoever. None. It did nothing. It could do nothing. I finally figured out how to write simple text files with EDLIN. Also, I think there was a mortgage calculator sample application. I spent months learning DOS 3.1, because that’s all there was to play with. Mostly, I just came home at night, turned it on and breathed, “I own a computer. Me. A computer.”

Eventually, I went to a computer fair and bought a bunch of retarded programs on floppies for a fiver each. One of them was Hack (the immediate predecessor to Nethack). I’ve never been so thoroughly absorbed by anything in my life. It really did eat 1985.

I still think it’s a great game. Twenty two years later, and I’ve never made it all the way out of the dungeon with the Amulet of Yendor. I’m a purist, though…I prefer the original version I learned all those years ago. And, bless ’em, BSD apparently automatically loads the old Hack as part of the OS. God knows why. Another fan, perhaps. I’ve got a couple of telnet accounts that use Berkeley Unix and I still play. I’d give a lot for an .exe compiled for DOS, though.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: July 26, 2007, 5:37 pm

Oh, man I had that game on the Amiga tho it was called “Rogue”. Many, many hours down that time sink. It was a pirated copy of a floppy and had no instructions so I had to figure out how to play it on my own. I did eventually go all the way down and back up with the amulet a couple times.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 26, 2007, 5:46 pm

Rogue was the predecessor to Hack, which was the predecessor to Nethack. Rogue used the graphical 40-character-wide alphabet (remember the heart and the smiley face?) while the hacks used the familiar modern 80-character alphabet. One level of Hack — level 10, I think — reverted to Rogue graphics. One of the zillion nice touches.

The Usenet newsgroup devoted to nethack was alt.games.roguelike.nethack — Rogue being the grandaddy of them all.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: July 26, 2007, 6:15 pm

Actually, the version I played was probably later than NetHack. It actually had graphics (little tiny ones, but still). This was the mighty Amiga 1000 and all. 🙂 It was probably a commercial version, now that I think of it.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 26, 2007, 6:28 pm

Hard to say. Here’s a lineage. Rogue goes back pretty far, in all its many versions. Certainly, hack and nethack have changed a lot with successive versions, so I imagine rogue has too. The newest version of nethack is 2003 (though, as I said, I prefer the 1985 version).

I’ve always planned to write a massive treatise on hack, but I kind of hoped to win it at least once first.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: July 26, 2007, 6:39 pm

OMG! There it is 3rd one down! lol. Oh no! Now I want to play it again 🙂

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 26, 2007, 6:48 pm

I bet you anything there’s an emulator!

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: July 26, 2007, 9:43 pm

Hmmph! Drudge finally caught up with you, Weasel. He’s posted the cat article.

He’s really slowing down. The man oughta retire.

Comment from Enas Yorl
Time: July 26, 2007, 10:21 pm

Erm. Actually I saw the cat article there last night, McGoo. I remember thinking “oh, this is gonna be all over the interbloggerytubes.”

Oh noes – Rogue!. I just got pwned on the 5th level by an ice monster and a kestral. This game is harder than I remember.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: July 27, 2007, 1:17 am

Oops. My bad. I haven’t been watching Drudge like I should. Thanks, Enas.

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