Jynx the Cat is the official scapegoat of our home, when blame cannot otherwise be determined.
This is the last day of Spring Break, and grades for the third quarter are due tomorrow, so it should surprise no one that I’m grading papers. Things were going well, too, until Jynx the Kitten decided to “help.”
I told Jynx that I did not need his “help,” since I already know how to grade papers; I even told him that I very much needed not to have his “help.” Jynx did not care. Papers were there, and he was determined to grade them.
The only problem (for Jynx) was that, before Spring Break even began, I had sorted all the papers to be graded, folded each set separately, and fastened each bundle shut with a separate rubber band, simply to organize the papers to be graded. Some of us in education call this sorting-process “pre-grading,” or something like that. Jynx didn’t like it, though, for the rubber bands kept him from getting to the papers he so desperately wanted to grade (or eat, or shred, or something).
He could, of course, get to the rubber bands, for they were on the outside of each of the bundles of papers. He has claws to pluck them, and did so. He also started trying to pull off the rubber bands with his teeth. Each time a rubber band got plucked, by tooth or claw, twang! Different rubber bands on different bundles were stretched with varying tensions, producing rubber-band-twanging sounds of varying frequency. In other words: Jynx played different musical notes.
Soon, Jynx had forgotten all about grading papers, and was simply having fun playing music for the first time. He was delighted to be playing music . . . or frustrated that he couldn’t get the bundles open . . . or possibly both.
I had also forgotten all about grading papers, and simply sat, listening in amazement, for I’ve had cats all my life, and, aside from the familiar “cat on a piano” song many people have heard, I have never before heard a cat, nor a kitten, attempt to play music.
Jynx’s improvisational rubber-band piece started to improve rapidly with practice, and soon Jynx’s music was much better than even the best-rendered version of “cat on a piano” I have ever heard before — and he’s still a kitten!
Unfortunately, I was not able to open software to record Jynx’s music in time, before he moved on to other things, as kittens do fairly often. As a result, only my wife and I know what Jynx’s music actually sounds like. I did manage to snap the picture above, of him looking up at me from his “musical instruments,” before he moved on to the next of his hijinks for the day, of which there are always many.
And, now that Jynx has decided it’s nap time, I’ll get back to grading these papers.
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.)
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.
If 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!
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.
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.
Here’s the view from another angle.
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!
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.
Software credit: I used Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator to make these images, a program which is available at this website.
The thing is, kittens really aren’t very good at housework — but at least he’s trying, right?
Of course, he might have been wanting a shower instead. It’s hard to tell what Jynx is thinking sometimes.
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.
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.
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.]
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?