WIRED has a collection of great quotes.

This excerpt moved me the most:

The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.

On my iPhone. I felt profoundly sad when I read those words.

I’ve said via other social media, but not here, that I’m working on designing my own RPG. There are many reasons, but I’ll list a few of the most significant.

But before that, the purpose of this post is to report that the first alpha test part two, or maybe it was early beta part one, went very well day before yesterday (this is the first chance I’ve had to write about it). I got exactly what I wanted out of it, and the behavior of my players was just what I was hoping for. In that sense, I couldn’t be more pleased with how the system is working as intended.

But is what I intend actually good, or worthwhile? Well, that remains to be seen—and I should also finish the game, of course. My point is that so far, the course I’ve laid out is smooth. I may be going in the wrong direction, but I’m going there smoothly.

OK, on to why I’m doing it in the first place…

Pile of booksD&D rules have come to require too much effort to maintain

I refer not only to keeping up with errata but the seeming trillions of new feats and powers and mix-and-matches that continuously appear. I can’t keep track of it all. There’s too much.

I wanted a system I could keep in my head the whole time.

Also, frankly, there are just a whole lot of rules to keep track of at any one time in D&D. When playing a game, even a game as complex as an RPG, one should be able to go an average session without having to look anything up, and be confident that every applicable rule is being applied. I mean an average night’s play, I don’t mean that time you went to Atlantis and had underwater combat and had to look up those rules. I don’t mean special occasions, I mean fighting monsters in a dungeon. That stopped happening with me as a DM—I always had to look something up (and looking things up in the Compendium? Have you tried that?). It also stopped happening to my players, which segues into…

Brain freezePlayers were crippled by choice

I’ll sprinkle some hyperbole on when I say that every time their turn came up in combat they would be faced with navigating a near crippling decision tree for to what to do next. While all their powers were neatly arrayed in front of them on cards, they were still looking at a small deck of cards each filled with special rules and exceptions and conditions.

Also, they based what they wanted to do on their powers, not on what they wanted to have happen. This is such an important point I’ll call it out:

Players managed their powers, not their characters.

Rather than say something like “I’ll cross the room by swinging from a chandelier,” and look to see if there was any power or skill to support that, they first looked at their powers and made their decision based on that. Powers guided action. And when that happened, they didn’t see their characters as having the freedom to do anything, with rules supporting those decisions, but as having a finite list of what they could do.

I’m putting thoughts into their heads with this point, no one actually ever said that to me out loud, but as I think about it now and reflect, I believe that’s what was happening. And that’s one (significant) reason why it took so long for them to decide what to do on their turn—they had to cycle through every available power to find the right one and when, perhaps instinctively, there wasn’t a power to cover what they wanted to do, they were at a bit of a loss and started at the beginning of the tree again to find something different to do.

Random tidbit: Characters were weapons platforms, not people. The miniature would maneuver to a location whereupon the power would be activated.

Additional point: Yes, a way around all of that would be to restrict the rules and powers available to the players by, for example, saying that only core rulebooks could be used. The problem with that tactic is that the breadth of rules and options is one of the strengths of the system. Part of playing D&D means being able to draw from a wide variety of rules material to construct your character. Denying that is denying D&D.

Class systemI’m done with class systems 

If your game has ten trillion ways to circumvent (or “customize”) its own class system, then isn’t that the indication that it’s time to abandon the class system? Isn’t it a hindrance at that point, if so much effort is being made to work around it? Yes, it is.

My poster child for why the class system doesn’t work comes from a Pathfinder campaign I was in. In it, I wanted something that was de juris not possible.

The background was this: A lady, raised in a noble family, became rebellious and for the thrill of it became a cat burglar. Her father was a professor at a wizard college who wanted her to continue in the family business, as it were. She had to go, so in a bit of further rebellion, studied only enough magic to aid her cat burgling. And importantly, because she loathed personal contact with people in combat, she specialized in a bow and arrow.

Problems arose immediately. The most significant is that for her to learn enough magic to cast the single spell she wanted would have required her to level so significantly into the magic class that her performance as a burglar would be too weak to make the effort worthwhile—and everything she’d have to do as a wizard would be utterly wasted. Also, her desire to use a bow and arrow meant that she was unable to perform in combat as effectively as anyone else, given the rules. There were many customizations, boons of special magic items by the DM, and lots of house rules, and still the character concept was never realized. It never could be, because of the class system.

Instead, I greatly favor a system where the player describes what they want their character’s background and role to be and then the rules support those decisions. That means not having classes because classes begin immediately with “you can’t.” In fact, that’s practically the purpose of classes, to define what you can and can’t do as a member of that class.

InfinityCombats should not take forever

You should read this article by Wizards of the Coast staff addressing this very issue. I hasten to point out that D&D made great strides in streamlining combat to mitigate the extraordinarily long combats at high level. High level combat in D&D flows much more smoothly than it did in Pathfinder, by an order of magnitude.

However, combats at lower level took longer. The length of combat was more spread out, so that while high level took less time, low level took more time.

Link lazy? Here’s the juicy bit:

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Avoid using too many monsters that deny actions to the characters. Each time a monster stuns a character, it prolongs the battle.
  • Avoid using too much terrain that significantly slows or impedes characters, and avoid monsters that immobilize or restrain characters. If the heroes can’t reach the enemy to attack, that’s just another form of action denial.
  • Avoid using too much terrain that provides cover or obscures the battlefield. When the monsters have terrain-based boosts to their AC, it takes longer to kill them.
  • Avoid using too many monsters that impose the weakened condition or that are insubstantial. Imposing half damage adds rounds to the fight.
  • Avoid using too many soldiers. Their high defenses mean more misses, and the more the characters miss, the longer it takes to beat the monsters.

So…delete interesting things.

The ideal fight, it would seem to be, would be on a flat, level, bare playing field with a tiny group of monsters with no special defenses. And that’s actually the case—everything the article brings up is The Truth. Action denial does prolong fights—aside from complete denial being the most un-fun thing to possibly happen at the table during play. Insubstantability prolongs fights waaay more than it needs to be. It’s tough to imagine the horror of running combat purely rules-as-written.

Which is bad.

A house rule I came up with on my own was to have normal monster HP until they were bloodied, then halve remaining hit points after that. So, a 100 hp creature would bloody at 50, as normal, but then die at 75. That seemed to help a great deal. It’s the most effective and beneficial house rule I came up with.

CauldronMagic should be magical

The best magic system I ever encountered, and it was very briefly so I have appropriate rose-colored glasses on, was in the Dragonlance 5th Age game by TSR. In it, a player would construct a spell by paying for point costs based on what the spell did. Greater range, more power, deeper effect, all cost more points. Something quick and light would cost fewer points. Two things struck me about this system.

First, it meant that magic could do anything. If you were stuck in a pit trap, you could conjure a magic rope to get yourself out—without having prepared the spell at the beginning of the day because who would do that. And who would do that when there are combat damage spells to prepare instead?

Second, a player who makes spells for their character means they’re making their own spell book—and that spell book is a record of spells cast, not a limitation of what the character can do. If you’re going to have a spell book, exactly that is how you do it.

I wanted a magic system that exemplified these ideas. It would allow someone who wanted to min/max and tinker with magic the perfect mechanism to do so. At the same time, someone who just waned to cast magic missile until the orc died could do that as well. And, as above with my example character, she could construct the spell that was ideal for her then never pay any attention to magic again.

And, above everything else, it meant that magic was deeply personalized to the character. If a player defines the magic spell—and if it can be done easily the player won’t hesitate to do it—then I think the identification of “wizard” becomes stronger and more meaningful.

Less of a weapons platform, more of a person who does things with magic.

Corollary: The Vancian system of magic is the worst thing since Hitler

I’ve come to despise the idea of having to choose the day’s load out of spells, casting them, then having nothing to do as a wizard when all spells are cast. It’s profoundly wrong on so many levels that it would make for a separate and long blog post of epicness inevitably peppered with profanity.

So, in the meantime, I’ll just say that it’s the most profoundly wrongest approach possible ever.

EvolutionThe player should never be afraid to to choose non-combat options

No one should be penalized by fleshing out their character and picking “optional” things, where optional is defined as “non-combat.” The aforementioned Wizards article explains why there are no craft skills in D&D and I think it’s a whole blog post by itself to explain why this was a wrong decision.

But meanwhile I wanted a system that supported  a player’s choice to do that and not feel like they were being left behind by other players who behaved differently. The game table should welcome everyone.

In part two…

There are other issues, but I’ll stop now. Next time, in part two, some examples of my own RPG that address these concerns.

A deliberately provocative headline. But, honestly, I could go my whole life without even hearing “9/11” again. Why? Well, I’ll tell you…

Bonded

Whenever I think of 9/11, my automatic thought is “right wing political machine.” The two are inextricably linked for me. The GOP, in particular, hammered that association so often for so long at so many opportunities that the two are an alloy and, at this point, utterly inseparable. The right wing political machine is, of course, disgusting and the hijacking of a tragedy like this—itself the result of an actual hijacking—even more so.

The GOP ensured that thousands of people died for a punchline on a bumper sticker.

It’s not real

Further angering is the ridiculous debate over a piece of scrap metal that people half-worship as an avatar to a sky faerie who doesn’t exist. Why is this even being discussed in the 21st century? A million billion shapes in a vast wreckage where real-life people died and there’s not just discussion but debate overone random shape? Are you serious?

Why is energy being expended over this, when it could be directed toward something concretely helpful to living people who need it?

Never

I see “never forget” here and there. A coworker had a good point: At what point does that become “never let go?” 9/11 was used as an excuse to invade another country for basically no good reason, costing us more than lives and money. It was used to invade yet a different country for basically no practical reason, accomplishing nothing and costing yet more lives and money. It spawned a new swath of security theater in airports that, again, accomplishes nothing positive.

I’m reminded of a comedy bit in the TV show The IT Crowd (available on Netflix streaming). One character says “I never know what to say at funerals.” Another says “When you get to the line, just say ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ then move on.” When the first character gets to the widow, he says: “I’m sorry for your loss—move on.”

Yes. Let’s.

The Boomerang nebula, and the prettiest astronomical picture I’ve come across in a while.

Boomerang nebula

I got this from my Star Walk app on my iPad, an amazing bit of work. Lurv it.

I’ve been having a hell of a time lately. It’s a first world problem: I have blogs set up on WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger. Mostly I’ve been using WordPress and using Tumblr and Blogger to park the names. But that’s been sitting uneasily with me—I felt I needed to settle  and concentrate on one.

Choosing among the three has taken more energy than it should have, as I go back and forth amongst all sorts of criteria. Then I decided to do something to break the tie. I decided to make the same post and post it to all three, and compare and contrast the experience for each service, and go with the one that was easiest/best/&c.

The clear winner is WordPress. Clear.

First, look at the same post on the three different services (links open to a new window)…

Here’s the WordPress post.

Here’s the Tumblr post.

Here’s the Blogger post.

The Blogger post was the worst experience of all three, by far. The composing window defaulted to HTML authoring, which didn’t account for line breaks when I pasted in my text. When I switched to the “Composition” window, the window was very tiny and I had to do an inordinate amount of scrolling to get to where I needed to go.

Ugh. The Blogger composition process was simply awful. I’m never using that terrible shite unless there’s some radical redesign.

The Tumblr post immediately presented an apparently insurmountable problem. I wanted to have text, then a picture, then more text. Apparently, this is impossible on Tumblr. See, you can begin with a “Text” post, and add pictures, or a “Picture” post, and add captions. But there’s no way to have text then a picture then more text.

You can do that if you first upload the image to an image service and then link to it. Um. I don’t want to jump through multiple hoops just to post a pic. Plus, getting a unique URL for just the pic is a pain in the ass for such services (they’re trying to drive views to their site, where the ads are, not just to host pics, so I understand).

I used the “picture post” since it was the only way to upload pictures from my desktop. I was hoping I could go back and edit the post by adding additional text. No-go.

The WordPress post was executed pretty much flawlessly from start to finish. I could write text, upload an image from my desktop, and add more text after that. The interface was clean and nice.

So, WordPress is the winner! Spell Rotation shall be there from now on, pending some other crazy new service that attracts me like a moth. But, if it’s going to, it’s going to have to have the simple ability to write text and post pictures at the same time.

Netflix logo

Here’s the thing…

I’ve a few points about the change.

1) This is going to save us money.

Right now, we have the one DVD at a time and unlimited streaming. We’ve watched one of those DVDs in probably three or four months. We’re not getting value out of the DVD. Worse, it’s an object we have to manage when it’s here.

Pure streaming is us.

2) No one should be surprised.

I can remember in February or March of last year Netflix saying that they were going to aggressively pursue streaming licenses over DVDs. What that tells everyone is “streaming is more important to us than DVDs.” Thus, it was only a matter of time before they started to price things to make streaming more attractive than DVDs. Probably a little at first. Then, a lot.

Right now, it’s a little.

This is not a surprise. It’s wildly more expensive for Netflix to store, organize, handle, and mail DVDs than it is to serve the same movie on a stream. It only makes sense that they would want to encourage more people to stream than DVD.

3) Netflix is offering what we want.

This is where we want to go: a-la-carte instant delivery of content we want, how we want it, on the devices we want.  I can watch Netflix on via my TiVo, Xbox, Wii, iPad, iPhone, computer, and who all knows what else.

As far as I know, no other service offers all of that at once.

So I’m supporting the thing I want to have happen. Getting good product at a good price. I have every reason to continue with Netflix.

4) Availability.

I watch Netflix every single day for one thing or another. (I really should GetGlue more often for that, come to think of it.) I encounter “not available” for both DVD and streaming at the same time far more often than I encounter “disc only” availability.

YMMV, but for how I use the service, it’s really not very often that I find something not available.

G+ iconI refer, of course, to Google+. It’s another social network. Why am I even bringing this up? I already have this blog, my Twitter feed, a LiveJournal, my mage blog, I sort of keep up updating GoodReads, have a Facebook account, and I read oodles of things via RSS. I’m full up on crazy, shop it somewhere else, because I need more of that like a hole in the head.

Right?

Well…

Google+ is actually a bit different and it’s different enough that even at this early stage I’ve decided to dump LiveJournal altogether, I’m prepared to not log on to Facebook again. If I can somehow link my Twitter feed with Google+ then I’d have everything all in one, practically.

What’s so hot about G+?

Asymmetry

The core of Google+ is circles. When you meet someone, you put them in one of your circles, like “Friends” or “Family” or “Assholes.” Then, when you post something, you decide which circle(s) to share that post to. In this way, you can tell everyone about how you got that red raccoon look by slipping on the ice and getting chili pepper in your eyes. But, when it comes time to totally bitch about that thing, you know?, you can share that only with people who Need to Know, namely, the people in your “Bitch Buddies” circle.

You get the idea.

One of the problems with Facebook is that it’s symmetrical. Whatever you post on Facebook is transmitted to everyone.

Also!

You don’t have to follow someone who’s following you. How many times has this happened to you on Facebook?

“Some Unknown Freak” wants to be your friend. Approve?

Who? I used to approve everyone because who cares? Facebook just mirrors what I put on Twitter anyway. But then I friended a spam bot and that was unpleasant—for everyone in my Facebook stream. With Google+, you don’t see other people posting to my stream. You only see what I post. If you’re in a circle with someone, and they comment on a post, of course you can see that comment. The whole idea of a circle is so we can all talk comfortably amongst each other without non-circle people automatically listening in. I think that helps all of us.

Speaking of posts

They’re editable. That right there is double plus good.

They’re long—as long as you want.

The design

Elegant. That’s the first thing that came to my mind when I started using it. Things were at the first place I looked. That’s kind of a powerful thing right there. If I want to change which circle someone is in, or add them to a new circle, or make a brand new circle with two people, it’s all clear where to go and what to do. Likewise, if I want to share a post with one circle, or five, or two circles plus these three individuals, or the entirety of the internet, it’s plain where to go and what to do.

This guy says:

From my comparison, G+ feels light, easy to read, and spacious, while Facebook feels cluttered, squished, and crowded.

Yup.

Making Extant Irrelevant

I found out, only upon reading about comparisons between Google+ and Facebook, that Facebook offers “lists” of people. If you want to post to just “Family,” for example, then you can do that. I did not know you could do that. But I have no idea where to go to start doing it. No one talks about using it. I wager most folks don’t know it’s there or, if they do, can’t tell you without looking where to go to set it up.

If a function is designed in the woods and no one uses it…then, no, it doesn’t exist.

But it’s the core of Google+. It’s impossible to miss, it’s the central function of the service, one might say. It doesn’t matter if Google+ duplicates features of another service, the fact that it makes it easy to use—and without clutter—is what makes it better.

Google+ is not the only social thingamajigger on the internets. Far from it.

But it’s better.

Orpheus

Not pissed—listening to something behind him

Just now, Fred alerted me to Persephone’s presence—and what timing! I’d just taken my last bite of lunch and today was the day the vet said they’d likely have time to evaluate a stray. I went outside to greet her and heard voices across the street talking about how the cat had run across the street.

There were two people standing by a pick-up truck. I asked if they were looking for a cat. The lady said…

We were just making sure he wasn’t underneath the truck.

Meaning, they were about to leave and didn’t want to run it over. I asked if they knew the cat and the lady said…

Yes, he was a stray and I rescued him. I don’t usually let him out. He must like your yard.

OK, Persephone is a he. Julia had said that if Persephone turned out to be a he that his name had to be Orpheus. So Orpheus it is.

So, it turns out, that Orpheus does have a human. And that human is an asshole who lets him out all the time and doesn’t look after him or have a collar for him. Now I have a sad.

I was prepared to take Orpheus to the vet and see that he was chipped and here’s his human who’s been looking for Orpheus for weeks and thank you for finding him! We’d have to say goodbye but would be heartened that we’d found a lost kitty. So I was emotionally prepared to let Orpheus go and not adopt.

But I’m deeply saddened by the fact that Orpheus isn’t looked after properly and we can’t adopt him. “Don’t usually let him out.” Oh, and by ‘don’t usually’ you mean virtually every day—morning, noon, and night? That kind of ‘don’t usually,’ or were you thinking of some other kind?

And where’s his damn collar?

Oh well. Now we know. The plan now is to treat Orpheus kindly when he comes by but not get more attached to him than we (especially me) already are.

The plus side is that this frees our last remaining slot for a shelter kitty who might not get any human otherwise, good or bad. I’ve had my eye on a kitty I’d name Tesla, a predominantly white kitty with excited, alert, happy eyes and the most exciting tail I’ve seen in ages, and Julia likes a kitty named Gilbert Grape, who I haven’t had a chance to really meet, but she says looks like Orpheus but with short hair instead of long.

On July 4th, we decided to go out to lunch but didn’t know where to go. We initially thought Claim Jumper’s because we hadn’t been there in about 1,244 years. But they were closed. Across the street was the Grand Opening of a brand-new restaurant: Mizuki Buffet.

Let’s go!

Three things—any one of which is enough by itself to turn me off—dominate Mizuki Buffet:

  1. It’s garish.
  2. It’s loud.
  3. The music, when you can hear it, is horrible.

None of that matters because going there was completely awesome in an totally over-the-top way. Comically crazy as bananas and I’ll be back.

Here’s an interior pic:

Mizuki Buffet interior

See, just off center, behind a plant, below the green exit sign, is a circular orb? That’s a spinning shining sparkly ball. Not a disco ball, a ball with an interior light source that spins, shining gold rays like a projectile vomiting Star Trek computer wigging out after trying to answer a logic question posed by Kirk. By the front door.

If a spinning gold sparkly ball doesn’t say “welcome,” what does, I ask you?

Our table:

Mizuki buffet table pattern

This was our table. It’s like a marble or whatnot—but it’s at such an extraordinary gloss that it’s mirror reflective. Reflected there is the image of the lamp on the wall that was over our booth. What does a Kafka-esque honeycomb pattern reminiscent of the original Battlestar Galactica series episode where they fought giant bees have to do with an abstract swirly marble pattern? I am unsure.

Nothing matches anything. It’s precious! The staff wears khaki pants and pink shirts! The plates are black. The walls are uneven stone. The buffet is so vast it all comes together to say: No, you can’t know what’s coming next! It could be literally anything!

The food

It’s right there in the name, it’s a buffet. There’s only one thing on the menu, except for a tiny drink menu.

But, oh my god, there’re many different noms there. I had purple yams, tamago, a slice of pizza, a couple variations of chicken, some kind of puff pastry, fruit, mashed potatoes, spring rolls, more tamago, and more I can’t remember. There was quite a wide variety of sushi to pick from, but since the only sushi I can eat is tamago because all other sushi is contaminated with some sort of water-breathing monstrocity I would sooner shun than ingest, I cannot say what all there was on offer.

But their website can. It says:

Sushi is our specialty and we offer lots of it! Our guests enjoy over 40 selections of sushi & sashimi that are not only skillfully prepared but artfully presented as well, including hand rolls that are made-to-order.

Our dinner menu includes more premium varieties of sushi such as unagi, hamachi, and mirugai and sashimi as well.  We also offer during dinner only, many seafood favorites such as jumbo shrimp, cocktail shrimp, snow crab legs, and oysters. In addition, we offer a made to order Hibachi grill. However, the number of menu selections is similar during lunch and dinner.

So, there you go, whatever all that means. Here are some pictures.

Oh, and did I mention the chocolate fountain? There was a chocolate fountain, with fresh strawberries. And ice cream. And sweet treats.

Speaking of fruit, the fruit was awesome perfectly ripe. Very nice.

Here’s a gallery of some of their other noms.

Of course some items were better than others (tiny pizza slice was meh; whipped cream from a can), and some were just fantastic (purple yams were awesome, tamago perfect, chicken varieties splendid). Top shelf. I thoroughly enjoyed the food there.

Service

Great! Very good!

Conclusion

The wild variety of offerings far outweighed the comically garish decor that looks like it was assembled from the remainder bin of Trump Tower. But at the same time, that’s kind of charming and neat all by itself.

As you can tell from their website, prices are kinda pricey—but you should check it out at least once. It was quite an adventure going there. I’ve no doubt that we’ll be back when we want that special Mizuki experience.

Unlimited tamago? Fuck yeah. The giant mirror marble tables can flash rotating rainbow colors for all I care if it means I can eat my way into a tamago coma.

A couple months ago, not long after our last remaining kitty, Ororo, died, we were visited by a gorgeous cat with the most alluring green eyes I’d seen, surrounded by strikingly beautiful fur. She was so pretty, I took a picture of her.

We’re oft visited by indoor/outdoor kitties. There’s a tuxedo who lives nearby and every now ‘n’ again an orange tabby comes by. They don’t interact with us at all—they stick to the yard and scatter as soon as I appear at the sliding glass door.

Persephone

Not pissed—listening to something behind her

But this kitty was different in that she came up to the door and clearly wanted attention. Since she had visited us a few times, I figured she needed a name for reference. The name Persephone just popped into my head.

Visits continued. Persephone came the day after, skipped a day, then came the next. Each time she wasn’t hungry or thirsty and seemed cared for. I say that because her fur was smooth and wasn’t covered in nature like I’d expect from a stray, was very friendly and comfortable around people, at least me, so I assumed she was indoor/outdoor and was merely out and about in the neighborhood.

But cared for by malicious or incompetent humans who didn’t put a collar on their indoor/outdoor pet. Holy shit, who does that?

However, I began to wonder if she might be a stray, whether she could, in fact, be a replacement kitty for Ororo. But then she stopped coming altogether, weeks went by, and I went so far as to delete her picture believing I’d never see her again. Even Tuxedo and Tabby don’t go as long without visiting.

Development

Persephone hears

OMG did you hear that?!

She came back—and she was dramatically thinner. To the point that the only way I could recognize her was by her green eyes and the shape of her long white whiskers. It was actually alarming. If she was indoor/outdoor, what the Hell had happened? Had she been abandoned? Had she’d gone this whole time hungry? Was she actually starving?

When she left I was wracked with worry. It made my heart ache out of concern for her. I even went so far as to walk all around the neighborhood looking for her, carrying food with me just in case. I never found her.

But she came back a few days later.

Questions continued. When I offered her food and water, why didn’t she take any—despite the fact that she was perfectly comfortable around me, easily came up to me, and let me pet her thoroughly? How could she be a stray and not hungry or thirsty, even opportunistically so? She’d sniff the food, lick her lips, but not give it any more regard and concentrate on getting my attention and on relaxing around the patio.

Given her fitness and cleanliness though, I stuck with “indoor/outdoor” and, well, the weight loss was simply a mystery.

Later, it was suggested that perhaps she’d had kittens. Oh! Capital theory, that. I went with that—until another asked more detailed questions about how she was carrying the weight she’d lost, and a new theory emerged: She’d lost her winter coat. Kittens are centralized, this “weight loss” was all around and was, well, yeah, now that you mention it, a general loss of poof that I very well might have confused with winter/summer coat.

In/Out Challenged

The theory that she was indoor/outdoor was fine until she started to come by during the evening. In fact, at all hours. You see, I understood her coming by during the day—her humans would be at work. But both early and late evening as well? That’s human time, when she should be in the indoor portion of her indoor/outdoor life.

So…if she wasn’t indoor/outdoor, she was a stray?

I thought perhaps I’d scoop her up to take her to the vet to see if she was chipped so she could be returned to her humans and, mayhaps, chastise them into getting her a collar.

But I wasn’t fully committed to it and Julia wasn’t either. Taking a cat in to see if it’s chipped is tantamount to “I want to adopt this kitty.” We weren’t at that point.

Persephone lioness pose

We call this a "lioness pose."

Meanwhile

Her visits became more frequent. Much more. She would come not only every day but, as I write this, comes by multiple times during the day, staying for longer periods each time. I can get her to come to me semi-reliably by calling her name. And she loves to play hide-and-seek. She eats most times she comes by as well.

Yesterday, we had a special time. I went out into the yard and sat down in the sun and she came up to me, as always. Her fur warmed instantly in the sun, practically drinking it in. I brushed her with a strong metal brush and she emitted the most gorgeously luxurious warbly gurgly purrs I’ve ever heard a cat utter in my whole life. She was beyond happy at that moment, she was purely rapturous. For a brief moment, she rested her length against my leg, her chin on my ankle, squinted, and was utterly content. After that, we played with a stick and I noticed she has the longest claws of any animal, ever. So long they don’t look like they’ve been trimmed in her lifetime. (Again with the stray/not stray question. If she was cared for, wouldn’t her claws be shorter?)

I carefully inspected the fur I brushed up. Unfortunately, I wasn’t qualified to look at what I was looking at, for I saw dander—but is that dander actually flea eggs or tapeworm casings or something more horrible? When I went back inside I immediately stripped and washed those clothes and took a shower. Can’t be too careful.

As an aside, if she has fleas, wouldn’t she be scratchy? In all the time I’ve seen her, I’ve never seen her scratch anything—not even her ears. So, if she doesn’t have fleas, then that means she’s not a stray, right? Because don’t all strays invariably have fleas?

And if she has not fleas or mites—then she’s been treated and is not a stray…right? It’s physically impossible for a stray outdoor-only cat to not be somehow afflicted with some parasite, correct?

Persephone, Fred, Sorbet

The three cats regarding each other carefully

A decision

The vet is closed today but when Persephone comes back on a weekday I’m putting her in a carrier and taking her to see if she has a chip. If she doesn’t, then we’re adopting her. If she is indoor/outdoor, but not chipped or collared, her humans suck. If she’s a stray, she seems to like it here and she’ll be loved and live a long time. If she is chipped and, at least on paper, cared for, then we’ll stop feeding her and just say hey when she comes by, but not go out of our way to sit with her and pet her. We don’t want to encourage her to become attached to us if she really does have humans who love her somewhere.

If we do take her in, there are worrisome questions, like was she ever in a home? Is she litter trained? Will she get along OK with the other cats? Will she regret becoming an indoor-only cat for the rest of her life?

Every time she comes by, she wants to come inside and be with us, it’s crystal clear. I’m going to put a carrier outside and keep her quarantined from the other cats until she’s examined. There are a hundred and one things that could be ruinous if exposure to the other cats was too profound.

Maybe she’ll be our third and final kitty! If not, then she’s been a very beautiful, fun, and loving (if fly-by-night) friend and I was very happy to meet her!

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