The Rules of Cats

the rules of cats

Jynx the Kitten may not be fully grown yet, but he certainly knows these rules.

All cats (and kittens) know these rules, and efforts, by anyone, to get cats (or kittens) to break them are futile.

(Photo credit: my wife took this picture, after Jynx decided she needed to take a break from crotcheting. When Jynx tries to floss his teeth with the yarn, that’s always disruptive.)

My First Solution to the Zome Cryptocube Puzzle, with Special Guest Appearances by Jynx the Kitten

Last month, in a special Christmas promotion, the Zometool company (www.zometool.com) briefly sold a new kit (which will return later) — a fascinating game, or puzzle, called the “Cryptocube.” Zome usually comes in a variety of colors, with each color having mathematical significance, but the Cryptocube is produced in black and white, which actually (in my opinion) makes it a better puzzle. Here’s how the Crypocube challenge works:  you use the black parts to make a simple cube, and then use the smaller white parts to invent a structure which incorporates the cube, is symmetrical, is attractive, and can survive having the twelve black cube-edges removed, leaving only the cube’s eight black vertices in place. I had a lot of fun making my first Cryptocube, and photographed it from several angles.

imageIf this was built using standard Zome colors, the round white figure inside the cube, a rhombic triacontahedron, would be red, and the pieces outside the cube, as well as those joining the rhombic triacontahedron to the cube (from inside the cube), would be yellow.

It isn’t only humans who like Zome, by the way. Jynx the Kitten had to get in on this!

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Jynx quickly became distracted from the Cryptocube by another puzzle, though: he wanted to figure out how to pull down the red sheet I had attached to the wall, as a photographic backdrop for the Cryptocube. Jynx takes his feline duties as an agent of entropy quite seriously.

image (2)As usually happens, Jynx won (in his never-ending struggle to interfere with whatever I’m doing, in this case by pulling the sheet down) and it took me quite a while to get the red sheet back up, in order to take kitten-free pictures of my Cryptocube solution, after removal of the black cube’s edges.

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Here’s the view from another angle.

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The Cryptocube will be back, available on the Zometool website, later in 2015. In the meantime, I have advice for anyone not yet familiar with Zome, but who wants to try the Cryptocube when it returns: go ahead and get some Zome now, at the link above, in the standard colors (red, blue, and yellow, plus green in advanced kits), and have fun building things with it over the next few months. The reason to do this, before attempting to solve the Crypocube, is simple: the colors help you learn how the Zome system works, which is important before trying to solve a Zome puzzle without these colors visible. After gaining some familiarity with the differing shapes of the red, blue, yellow, and green pieces, working with them in white becomes much easier.

On a related note, Zome was recommended by Time magazine, using the words “Zometool will make your kids smarter,” as one of the 14 best toys of 2013. I give Zome my own strong, personal recommendation as well, and, as a teacher who uses my own Zome collection in class, for instructional purposes, I can attest that Time‘s 2013 statement about Zome is absolutely correct. Zome is definitely a winner!

Thirteen Images, Each, of Jynx, the Black Kitten, on Two Hendecagonal Prisms

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The above hendecagonal prism shows what Jynx is like when he’s in “kyperkitten” mode. (If you have a kitten, you know what that means.) It’s also rotating rapidly in an effort to make those who fear black cats, and/or the number thirteen, feel even more jumpy, in the hope that Jynx and I can, by working together, startle them into rationality.

On the other hand, Jynx does sometimes like to just lounge around, and watch the world go by — so I’ll show him in “tiredcat” mode as well.

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Software credit:  I used Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator to make these images, a program which is available at this website.

The Misadventures of Jynx the Kitten, Chapter Three: Jynx Tries To Help Wash the Dishes

The thing is, kittens really aren’t very good at housework — but at least he’s trying, right?

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Of course, he might have been wanting a shower instead. It’s hard to tell what Jynx is thinking sometimes.

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This did cause a delay in the dishes getting done, for we were laughing too hard to load any dishes for quite some time, even after these pictures were taken.

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No kittens were harmed in the making of this blog-post . . . but I will admit that the temptation to close the dishwasher, and then start it, did exist. However, we unanimously decided against it.

The Misadventures of Jynx the Kitten, Chapter Two: Jynx vs. My Computer

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Jynx: 1, Computer: 0.

Tonight’s feline insanity started while we were watching Star Trek — the episode where Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock go up against a planet full of nuclear-armed Space Nazis.

Apparently, cats — or, at least, this cat — find Nazis disturbing, which, of course, they were — and will be again, if they appear in the 23rd Century . . . because some half-crazed future historian went and violated the Prime Directive, becoming, a few years later, a fully-crazed future historian. Jynx was so incredibly disturbed by the Space Nazis, in fact, that he bounced over pillows and blankets, in a series of nicely Newtonian . . .


&^ (Stop that, Jynx!)

. . . parabolic arcs, to land on my computer. He then proceeded to pause the episode — then close my browser (the picture-moment, with my wife laughing hysterically as she took it), and finally tried to bite the heads off several Space Nazis as the screen slowly darkened. After due consideration, Jynx decided this was not enough, and so, next, he reached out a paw, and quickly turned my computer completely off. A smug look followed. You haven’t seen a look this smug, unless, maybe, you’ve also seen one on the face of a kitten.

Getting it (my computer, not Jynx) turned back on was not easy. For a little while, in fact, I thought Jynx had destroyed the Internet. In reality, the Internet had been fine all along, for this picture, taken a little earlier, with a tablet, got to my e-mail account almost instantly. It took much longer, however, for me to actually get to my e-mail account.

My computer now has tiny bite marks all over it, and plays Radiohead’s song “2 + 2 = 5” so slowly that it’s turned the song into “1.5 + 1.5 = π” – and that song sounds terrible.

I hope my computer lives long enough for this post to make it to my blog. In the meantime, Jynx reigns — OW! — triumphant.

[2016 update: that computer is now officially dead. Jynx the Cat lives on.]

Names for Black Cats and Kittens

Once our new kitten came home today, I asked my Facebook-friends for suggestions for a name. That particular, very simple status message (“Name suggestions for a black kitten, please?”) now has well over fifty comments. In alphabetical order, here are most of the names which have been mentioned, so far, in that lengthy conversation. The kitten, by the way, is male.

  • Akiko
  • Aleister
  • Bear
  • Bluebird
  • Box
  • Cantabell
  • Chunk
  • Cinder
  • Coco
  • Darwin
  • Dark Chocolate Thunder
  • Demon
  • Dingus
  • Doom Kitty
  • Eisenhower
  • Eris
  • Feline X
  • Felix
  • Flip
  • Friday
  • Graphite
  • Grimm
  • Helga
  • Helicopter
  • Illidan Stormrage the Betrayer
  • Inkspot
  • Jesus (I’m unclear on which pronunciation of that name was being suggested)
  • Jinks
  • Jitter
  • Jynx
  • Licorice
  • Lint
  • Loudmouth
  • Lucky
  • Madalyn
  • Maleficent
  • Marley
  • Maurice
  • Michael
  • Midnight
  • Mischief
  • Moonbeam
  • Mudflap
  • Noir
  • Obama (to which I replied that, if I ever named a cat after a president, I’d go with “Thomas Jefferson”)
  • Obsidian
  • Ol’ Scratch
  • Olive
  • Oliver
  • Onyx
  • Peter
  • Puss
  • Pusschief
  • Satan
  • Shade
  • Shadow
  • Smudge
  • Snowflake
  • Spectre
  • Squirt
  • Sratch (Scratch?)
  • Sthylvether
  • Sumi
  • Thumb
  • Tyson
  • Waldo

We went with “Jynx,” with “Jynxy” as a nickname. Considering what happened, just a little later (see the post right before this one), that name turned out to be quite appropriate.

The Misadventures of Jynx the Kitten, Chapter One

We have a new kitten, and his name is Jynx. He’s between four and five months old, and has short black fur.

As the adults of the house were enjoying a nice, peaceful, Saturday afternoon nap, we were suddenly awakened by multiple crashes, along with the sound of glass breaking, from the nearby bathroom. According to eyewitness reports, my reaction was to jump straight up into the air, hair standing on end, yelling a long, colorful string of profanity, which I shall not post here. It’s difficult for me to remember what I do, or say, immediately upon waking, and I don’t want to misquote myself, you see.

As it turns out, Jynx had been running back and forth along the counter in the bathroom, trying to get to the “other kitten” in the mirror, and knocking just about everything off the counter in the process. Our evidence: horizontally-smeared, feline nose-prints, at kitten-height, on the mirror — plus a big mess, all over the bathroom floor. Jynx, having scared himself silly, is now hiding under the bed, and I’ve thrown away all the tiny glass-shards I could find.

Blog-posts here usually come with pictures, and I tried to obtain one . . . but Jynx isn’t ready to come out from under the bed yet. My camera doesn’t have a flash, and it’s pretty obvious what a “no-flash” picture of a black kitten, hiding under a bed, would look like, is it not?