Sunday, November 30, 2008 on the F train

Yesterday while was in the F train in New York, a young blond man came through the crowded car soliciting donations. I would not have given him much notice, except that as he was carrying a small black cat, and supposedly collecting for an organization called "Homeless Pets NYC" with a website The URL will take you to a site that describes the person I saw and his black cat, and suggests that like most subway solicitations it's a scam. Very sad.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Miracle Cats that survived a wildfire

I had planned to post the story of Adam and Abe, the cats that survived a wildfire for Thanksgiving after reading their story on Monday. That was before more of the world started burning - some of the fires are natural, some human-made, and all are tragic. But perhaps this story is still appropriate, to know that these beautiful and much-loved black cats both survived the terrible wildfires in southern California and that small joys are always possible.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weekend Cat Blogging #181: More Luna in Exile

As the construction at CatSynth HQ drags on longer and longer, Luna remains at her home away from home. I go to visit her quite often, and she is usually happy and excited by my arrival. Here is one of her many greetings, she has gotten quite good at standing on her hind legs to head-butt:

She is quite active and social, and enjoys cruising the hallways. Also playing in her own room:

and especially looking down from her alcove:

This is often where she sits as I leave, peering through the outer door at me. These visits are both joyous and melancholy. It would be better to be back at home. But I do know she is being well cared for, and is happy and healthy.

There is a radio on in the cats' area, usually tuned one of our many pop-music stations. Usually, I don't notice it much, but when I'm sitting on the concrete floors and some R&B from the 1960s or 1970s comes on, the whole image feels "right." Again, quite melancholy, but still somehow positive, something out of a story I haven't bothered to write down...

I do try to keep these visits as unmediated as possible, and often don't bring the camera at all. But today is one of those days that I did. Of course, I couldn't resist taking a few city photos in the waning November-afternoon sun. It's been a little while since I have done that.

We're going to take a break for the holidays, and hopefully after that we'll be back in our real homes, at both the reconstructed CatSynth site and the reconstructed CatSynth HQ.

Weekend Cat Blogging is hosted this weekend by the Cats in Maryland. Extreme cuteness alert, with baby pictures.

The Bad Kitty Cats Festival of Chaos will be hosted by
Miz Mog and the Kitties. Chaos is an apt term for life these days.

The Carnival of the Cats is going up this Sunday at Artsy Catsy.

And of course the Friday Ark is at the modulator.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Preview of the new CatSynth

Here is a preview of the new site. Still very much a work in progress, though at least all the posts and comments are there.

It has actually been fun working this - though I wish I had more time (doesn't everyone?). I'm looking forward to concentrating on more of the design work now. Wordpress has been great in terms of bringing in data from disparate sources, adding and modifying design elements, and even doing some of my own programming...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Midnight Monday: Luna away from home

Here are some photos of Luna at her home away from home:

She is actually doing well, comfortable and confident, and even greeting the other cats. She seems to particularly enjoy wandering the long corridors.

And her quarters of quite comfy, which lots of places to climb and play, and indulge her fondness for soft things:

It looks like Luna will have to stay away for a bit longer, as the construction at CatSynth HQ stretches out. I'm glad she's doing well, but it would be better to have her home again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marriage Equality (aka "No on 8") Rally, November 15

On Saturday, demonstrations were held throughout the country in support of marriage equality and against the recent passage of Proposition 8 here in California (as well as similar measures in other states). Of course our local event in San Francisco was one of the more prominent.

It was an exceptionally warm and sunny weekend here, considering that it's the middle of November. It was already getting hot when people started gathering at City Hall ahead of the 10:30 start time.

And the crowd grew rather quickly.

Indeed, it was hard to see the speakers, or hear them. In that sense, it was a bit frustrating and gave the event a sense of poor planning. At the same time, it was great that the crowd was so large. And it was worth it to be there in support of my friends and all the other people whose marriage rights were taken away. This is part of the way to win them back.

Some more colorful banners, playing on the California and U.S. Flags (we featured the "rainbow Bear Flag" in a past Wordless Wednesday).

After a while of standing in the heat and attempting to listen to speakers, we all decided to march from City Hall along Market Street towards the Castro District.

That is where my participation ended for the day, but this is too important an issue to simply end at a street corner...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekend Cat Blogging #180

We at CatSynth welcome everyone to Weekend Cat Blogging #180.

We are away from home, both virtually and physically. Luna joins us from her home away from home during our construction. And of course we are here at the "trailer" while we rebuild the main CatSynth website. But we're looking forward to a good WCB round-up amidst the dust and the distance. Please leave you submission as a comment, and we'll post updates throughout the weekend.

And with that, let us being this weekend's round-up.

The "Cat Boys" Kashim and Othello are helping there momma in the kitchen this weekend. The did their part to help bake a banana nut bread. It also looks like they are helping with the computer and blogging duties.

We welcome back some old friends at Belly Timber (often known as the "Angry Cat Blog" in past WCBs). We are treated an image of Port and her "serious face." Ironically, this is from a carefree day in the garden this past summer. They should come visit us in San Francisco for this fantastic mid-November sunshine.

Joanna of A Cup of Jo shares a picture of her cat Buttercup doing the classic "Cat in a Box" pose.

Visit Chey's Place for a special edition of Find Chey. There are lots of hints in the building and the vegetation, for the astute observer.

Then visit Sidewalk Shoes for a A very sweet portrait of Patchouli. It looks like they were also named a "Blog of Note" by the folks at Blogger.

Parker has a new layout for Perfectly Parker. Check it out and let her know what you think. It was a collaborative effort with Zoolatry and Chica and Pumuckl's mom.

Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums reminds us of the words of Paul Gray, "Cats were put into the world to disprove the dogma that all things were created to serve man." We at CatSynth are all for disproving dogma...and serving cats.

Sarah of First Draft: Fledgling Freelancer found Weekend Cat Blogging via blogs-of-note, and is now joining us for the first time. Ranger is one of five cats in the family. Please welcome them to WCB!

We have lots of photos of Cece this weekend. First, a fine stretch atop a wall at iInfidel. He deftly avoids wet paint at Mind of Mog. And all this attention on Cece has Meowza upset and being "less than cooperative" when it comes to photographs.

Freya demonstrates motherly love at the House of Chaos. She is very protective and doting, but at the same trying to wean her kitten and teach him independence. Of course, chances are he's going to spend a few years wanting nothing to do with her and then move back in.

Tristan invites you find out more about him at Tabbylicious, as he participates in the "8 Random Things About Me" Meme.

Meanwhile Diamond Emerald-Eyes explores the woods out back with several of her friends (including Tesla, whose picture appears above). Go visit all of her friends.

At Artsy Catsy, is focusing, meditating, purring, purraying and sending positive healing thoughts for his dear friend Moki. We are sending our healing thoughts for Moki as well. Don't forget, Artsy Catsy's auction to benefit both Moki and Criz ends tonight at midnight.

It's Kitties, Kitties, Everywhere with Samantha and Tigger at Life from a Cat's Perspective.

CathyJDiscoveryBay, another first-time participant, presents Quotes for Cat Lovers. Welcome!

We will continue to post updates throughout the weekend. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Building the new CatSynth

Rather than simply attempt to restore things as they were, we at CatSynth are using this disaster as an opportunity to build an even better site. I am created a new version of CatSynth based on Wordpress, and I have already imported all 737 posts. There is quite a bit of clean-up to do, and I have to locate some missing images from more recent posts. I have also had to convert formatting form our old system to Wordpress.

Actually, this is turning out to be fun, writing Perl scripts and SQL commands to do all the text and data munging. It is a return to my what I did in my old job circa 2000 at an Internet start-up, and a rather stark contrast to what I do for a living now. With scripting and web hacking, one can realize changes within minutes, rather than the hours or days for a small change in commercial software development.

The next challenges will be getting all the comments into the new site and linking up the old URLs to the new system, so that all the old CatSynth links on the web will still work.

Thanks to everyone who commented this weekend, wishing us well, and (more importantly) wishing ill upon whoever destroyed our site. ;)

Meanwhile, the construction at CatSynth HQ continues, and Luna remains at her temporary abode. We'll post some pics soon.

Saturday, November 8, 2008 attacked!

On the afternoon of November 7, our site suffered a major cyber-attack!
Everything was erased, all of CatSynth, my professional music website, the popular Mondrian Machine. Everything.

It is possible I can coax my service provider to restore things from a backup. Meanwhile, I have an older full-site backup, and I have recovered all the text and comments through Friday. So hopefully I will be able to restore the site with a few days to a week.

I have also been going over the logs (which were intact after the attack), and I have pieced together exactly when they got in, and to a certain degree, what they did. I would rather not go into technical details, but I can see a script being run, and after that all webpage access starting to fail with "404 not found." I also found a piece of assembly code left behind. It looks like that was only for clean-up purposes after the deed was done.

As far as I can tell, the only thing done was getting in and erasing the site. There was no evidence that they used their access to send emails or attack other sites, or steal information. They just wanted to destroy the site. I can't say whether it was a random act of senseless violence - there are people who just attack random sites for fun or bravado. But the timing and fact that all they did was destroy the site suggests it could have been deliberate. Possibly even political. We at CatSynth were outspoken in our support for certain people and issues, but in a mild low-key sort of way. But if an angry person was going through hundreds of sites looking for a vulnerability, we could have just been an easy target.