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Maternal Grandmother's Daughter 


Saturday, April 30, 2005

Around 1974, at twenty years old. Married for two years. Had me.




Plea + Threat 


Friday, April 29, 2005

All right, Face, you've had your fun. Now swell down a little, will ya? It's already been three friggin' days since you puffed up. I don't want to be a chipmunk anymore. I want my cheeks back to their svelte selves and I want no more of this dull aching. Got it? Or else.


Maternal Grandmother 


Thursday, April 28, 2005

1943, Tibru, Romania.




Almost Immediate Aftermath 


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

In a show of solidarity, Crenguţă stuffed up her cheeks with all her seeds. Recovering patients of quadruple wisdom tooth extractions worldwide applaud her actions.




Trepanation Time 


Monday, April 25, 2005

Dear Dr. Heller,

Perhaps I am the "multi-talented brain" you seek in your "Multi-Talented Brain" advertisement in today's paper. I am a versatile brain, ready to substitute, if necessary, as early as next week. My years of ruminating over the smallest details have provided me with the solid thinking experience you specify as well as the strong pondering skills you desire.

Through my ruminating experiences, I am certain I could give you valuable assistance in managing key brooding projects.

My brain's contract with this body will be expiring in May and I would be interested in making a significant contribution to your organization in a contemplating capacity.

I am sure my services would be useful to you, and I will call you in early next week to discuss brain removal or even a simple lobotomy.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

F.G. Maktaaq


48 Hour Frozen Peas 


Sunday, April 24, 2005

The public deserves to know.

Potent painkillers and diligent drug-taking.

Prevent infection: rinse with warm salt water (one teaspoon salt to a cup of water).

Percocet is a friend.

Or peas from the freezer for two days.

Nobody mentioned sucking on ice cubes. Not that Ice Cube.

"Don't be sucking on anything...[it might] dislodge the clot and cause a dry socket. If it doesn't want to stop bleeding take a wet teabag and chomp down on it for about five minutes or so...[the] tannic acid in it will stop the bleeding."




Vibrissaetely, or the Collecting of Bru-skers 


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dominocat replied to my query about cat whisker collecting:
I don't really remember when or how it started.

I noticed more whiskers when we got a dark red carpet in the lounge - Oliver and Minnie's white whiskers showed up more easily. I started out just putting them on top of our fireplace, but soon realised that this was a pain when cleaning! A friend sent me a toy mouse called Didl (very big in Germany, apparently) and his chubby well-stuffed cheeks were perfect to store whiskers on.

I just collect my cats whiskers, but I've found a couple at my mum's house and kept those too. Somehow, I always get excited when I find whiskers from Bruno, my black cat, mostly because they are black they are hard to see.

I think I have around fifty or so, only nine are Bruno whiskers (or Bru-skers as we call them) Most of them are kept on Didl Mouse, but I have another mouse that I'm starting to use, as Didl is getting full up!
Dominocat also uploaded a picture of the fully-loaded Didl Mouse just for Maktaaq and readers of Maktaaq, along with a picture of the newly be-whiskered Willie Mouse.

Dominocat says: "This cat whisker collecting thing is bigger than I thought! Maybe it should have a name, like they have "philately" for stamp collecting..."

The Latin vibrissae, or nostril hairs, lends itself to the official christening of this hobby: ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Vibrissaetely.


O-zone Update 


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Finally! Here is a rather poor quality of the Despre Tine video that I mentioned a month ago.

I've also run into another update on the Dan situation: he got married and moved to the US. I expect to run into him any day now.

And I finally got a copy of the O-zone CD...and...I don't really like it. Sadly, O-zone is a two-hit wonder. Aside from Dragostea din Tei and Despre Tine, the other songs sounded a little whiny. Personally, if I were to choose a boy band whose music would inundate the shopping malls of Hell for eternity, I would go with Animal X.

Though, boys, don't worry; I still love your two great songs more than any other boy band's sole chart topper.


More on Cat Whisker Collecting 


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Lennie C. Hoover is rare in the world of collectors. Collecting cat whiskers is not a prevalent hobby, even on the internet, which caters to every fetish.

A Google search turned up very few other aficionados of this hobby.

One of them would "collect the whiskers you find around the house and every once in a while stick a whisker up the cat's nose while she was sleeping."

I wrote to his friend. Mr. Winters kindly answered and supplied further proof of the paucity of cat whisker collectors (my questions are in bold):

First off, I gather from the way that you worded the above statement about your friend that he collected cat whiskers in addition to poking them up his cat's nose.

No, he collected cat whiskers *to* poke them up his cat's nose. They had no other purpose. And once the cat was sufficiently chastised by a whisker up the nose I'm pretty sure he just discarded the whisker, confident that another would come along sooner or later.

So calling him a "collector" would be a stretch :-)

Has his cat ever bitten him for sticking her whiskers up her nose? Does he have any other bizarre quirks?

Not that I know of. He's just a normal guy who doesn't like whiskers up his nose.

Another cat whisker collector, Corie of Callalillie inaugurated The Whisker Project to collect whiskers just for the sake of collecting them. Her project began a month and a half ago.

I also wrote to Corie, and her response makes her the first authentic cat whisker collector:

How did you get the idea for the Whisker Project?

The idea for the Whisker Project evolved from a two-part conversation with my fiance about the internet and odd fascinations. I was curious about how the internet facilitated bringing groups of people together from similar, often secretive niches, as well as whether a simple request on a blog could both entertain and motivate people to respond-- and send me something in the process. Everyone has something small and strange in life that makes them smile. Knowing that there are others out there can make you grin (or, at the very least, make you laugh at the other person) is very satisfying.

You mentioned that your friends already give you their cats' whiskers. I gather this means you were already a collector before you posted the Whisker Project on Callalillie. How did you start in this hobby? How long have you been collecting?

A good friend of mine-- a neuroscientist-- starting collecting her cat's whiskers several years ago. She would find them and stick them into a piece of clay on her bedside. I thought that it was cute and hilarious and starting saving my cat's whiskers, as well, except I keep them in a little glass vial. That was about three years ago. Since then, friends sometimes find whiskers from their cats and save them for me.

How many whiskers did you have in your collection before you posted on the blog? Did you receive any from strangers who read your blog? How many cat whiskers do you have now?

I actually have no idea how many whiskers I have in my collection, though I would estimate around 20 or 30. About a year ago I got a newer, better vacuum cleaner and my yearly whisker yield dropped significantly. To date, I have recieved about 15 whiskers from various areas of the US and two or three from the UK.

How do you store your collection? When will the Project be completed, if ever? How do your friends and family react to your hobby?

I have been keeping my cats' whiskers in a small glass vial with a screw top. I have not begun to store the whiskers from the WProject, though I am considering sorting them and putting them in vials, as well. Before doing that, however, I need to develop an archival process for them.

I'm not sure when the project will end. Lately, I've become interested in the cards and letters that come with the whiskers. It's fascinating how people comment on their sending whiskers to me. I enjoy the mail almost as much as the whiskers :)

My friends and family derive general humor from the project, mainly because this type of thing is expected of me. I've always been a little quirky and this type of project makes me smile. I have a friend or two who think that whisker collecting is disgusting (on par with something like toenail collecting), however that doesn't stop them from asking about the progress of the collection, etc. Curiosity always wins out.

Ah ha! Corie has a friend who collects cat whiskers - if neuroscientists are doing it, it must be ok.

Meanwhile a commenter on Callalillie also admitted she is a legitimate cat whisker collector. She replied to my queries:

I only collect my cats whiskers and I started because I would find them all over my house and think they were the weirdest little things - I had never known they had the ability to fall out, so I found it really weird and bizarre, which just made me like it all the more. I started collecting them maybe 7 years ago and I don't hunt for them, but my cat seems to lose a lot of them all the time so I find them all over the place. I like to think that he leaves me them as little presents because he knows I keep them (yes, I am a weirdo). I use to keep them in an envelope but now I keep them in a ziploc bag and I have a lot - too many to count.

Actually my mother, my boyfriend and a few friends know that I keep them - they think I am crazy and I cannot think of a good reason for keeping them, but I do. But it's definitely not something I broadcast to the world but what is funny is that I work with a woman who is a total cat lover and she told me she keeps her cats whiskers too, so I guess it is a common hobby!

Yes, Kim, it is more common than I initially thought.

Another commenter inserts collected cat whiskers into a toy mouse. A weirder twist to the hobby, yet this Dominocat has not responded to my email at the time of publishing.

Then I hit the motherlode of cat whisker collectors: an entire website devoted to the hobby.

According to the site, "One of the basic tenets of cat whisker collecting is that the cat whiskers may not be taken from a cat, they must be given by the cat." Cat whisker collections thrive in cool and dry locations.

There is even a registry of Cat Whisker Collectors, with four other collectors in addition to the authors of the website, with membership cards and certificates.

Again, my pleas for more information on this unique hobby went unanswered. I am not giving up hope.

While conducting my research for this blog post, I took a break to meet a friend to whom I confided the nature of my work.

"Why, didn't you know that cats shed whiskers?" said Cheryl the Red. "I am not a cat lover, but I once had a cat and I would find the things all over the place and I would pick them up and keep them."

"I even had a friend who used cat whiskers in an art installation. Whiskers and glass shards."

I guess it's like tuna casserole and sex in airplane toilets. Everyone else has tried it except me.


Lennie Hoover 


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bumbling around the internet, this loomed:

Cat Whiskers. Does anyone out there collect cat whiskers (collected only by finding them, not by removing them from an animal!). Lennie Hoover I may be reached via E-Mail at LCHoover@email.msn.com


I immediately wrote to Lennie Hoover:


Hi Lennie,

I found your name on a collector's site
(http://www.collectors.org/FC/Seek_Club.asp#DA0003)
and your hobby piqued my curiosity.

How did you start in this hobby? How long have you
been collecting? How many whiskers do you have in
your collection?

How do you store your collection? I have been
puzzling over this for a while...perhaps if I took up
this hobby I might go for matchboxes lined with black
velvet?

How do you recognize a cat whisker? Do cat lose them
frequently? Are different breeds' whiskers
distinguishable?

Has anyone answered your ad on that website? Are
there other cat whisker collectors out there?

Thank you very much.

Maktaaq


Unfortunately, Lennie no longer uses that email address and the email bounced back.

Yet, I was undaunted. I wanted to see if I could find Lennie some other way. The Nebraska Wesleyan University Athletics Hall of Fame had a Lennie Hoover, a 1984 Assistant Coach for the Men's Basketball Team. There is also a Miss Lennie Hoover out there. I am making an assumption, perhaps false, that the Lennie of the Nebraska Wesleyan Basketball Team was a man as he was coaching a men's team, making two Lennie Hoovers out there possible cat whisker collectors.

Could Mr. Lennie Hoover be the cat whisker collector? Contrary to popular belief, there exist men who like cats. If Mr. Lennie Hoover was our cat whisker collector, he would have plenty of chances to collect cat whiskers if he pet enough cats or maneuvoured himself into cat fancier circles. He remains a suspect.

Miss Hoover is across the Strait from me, in Victoria, making her a near neighbour. As she is "very active" in the Blanshard Court Community Centre, I am assuming she is an old unmarried spinster because:

a) Victoria is well-known as a haven for the elderly,
b) People have more time to volunteer after retirement,
c) Most retirees are old,
d) This Lennie Hoover is a Miss,
e) If she is a Miss, she is not married,
f) If she is old and a Miss, she is a spinster,

This leads to the following deductions:

a) If Miss Lennie Hoover is a spinster, she undoubtably collects cats, because that's what spinsters do,
b) Her cat collection would provide the subjects for her cat whisker collection.

Yet, this mention to Miss Lennie Hoover appears in a 1980 document. If Miss Lennie Hoover was an elderly cat whisker collector, would she have lived long to see the advent of the Internet, become so proficient in its workings so as to not only procure an email address but to also navigate the complexities of the web enough to find Collectors.org?

The only explanation is that Miss Lennie Hoover, if she were our cat whisker-collecting Lennie C. Hoover, is not a long-lived matriarch presiding over a kingdom of felines, but, rather, a time-travelling matriarch presiding over a kingdom of felines. To fuel her bizarre fascination with cat's whiskers (and perhaps meet a like-minded mate), Miss Lennie Hoover travelled to the future - our times - to place that ad.


More on cat whisker collecting tomorrow.


Acknowledgments 


Sunday, April 10, 2005

I am thankful to the following people and their blogs.

My occasional pining for Taiwan gets catered to by the Taiwan Photoblog. One photo in particular made me really happy - the two god puppets (I will have to look up their names). A regular sight along Taiwanese thoroughfares, these parades have an erratic schedule. In Taiwan, I simply carried my camera with me every where. ***Update: it gets better. And better. I think Leslie deserves to be a permanent fixture under Taiwan Blogs (see right).***

Another recent gem is Jen's funny post on the whole Pope-Camilla Parker-Bowles brouhaha. "Tell you what, folks. If you want someone to worship , worship me. I am simultaneously regal and proletarian," quoth the lass. Plus, Jen appointed me Duchess Ambassador of Romanian Canadian Blondes and Hamsters. It doesn't get any better than that.

Another something that's stayed with me for a long time, is Hebdomeros' ladybug adventure (here and here): "I popped it out of the dustbin and it crawled away under the laundry machine. I can only assume going home by way of some magic portal. I imagine their homeland to be some vast forest that's always green and lush, and there are plenty of aphids to munch on." I recently watched Nausicaa again and all I can picture is ladybugs the size of King Kong trampling our cities.

On this site, in a four-day period, over 250 visitors came to this site looking for Mohammed Bijeh, the Desert Vampire of Iran. I have finally cornered my section of the internet. This angle was better than my menstruating hamsters, Mr. & Mrs. Vandertramp, O-zone the boy band, and aunt slipper spanking (about once a week).

Like Linda of Broadsheet and her embalmed pope, I found cornering the ghoulie market helps. Of course, my own ghoulie interests make it easy for me to supply what this segment of the market demands. Thank you, ghoulie market for making me feel so special. By the way, April's Roadkill of the Month prize goes to Iceland.

Karen of Rurality wrote such nice things about me and that really made my day. Crenguţă, by the way, bit me again this morning when I tried to replace the roof of her house. Very territorial hamsters are. I've also been meaning to point out something that Karen wrote a while ago, about butterfly names: she compiled a list of outlandishly delightful butterfly names in her field guide. Her top pick is the Redundant Swarthy Skipper; but there are also butterflies christened aftter punctuation (the Hoary Comma, the Question Mark). I have decided to request reincarnation as a Malicious Shady Skipper if reincarnated as a butterfly I must be.


Evil Eye 


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Earlier today one of my houseguests, a one-year-old boy, mumbled the sort of cryptic complaints little children make when the morning sneaks up on them far too early.

His Romanian-Italian-Canadian mother, demonstrating that the Romanian part of her dominated, said he'd been cursed with the evil eye. "It was the bank teller yesterday," she said. "That woman gave him the evil eye - she kept ogling him and telling us what a cutie he was."

To be de-evil-eyed, you need matches. The mother lit one above a glass of water. When most of the match burned, she plucked off the blackened wood sliver, dropped it into the glass, and, with the edge of her palm, delicately karate-chopped a cross on the rim. She did this with three matches while saying Our Father in her mind.

Each match end represents woman, man or child, all possible culprits in deploying the evil eye, and when a match end drops to the bottom of the glass, this signals that the victim is cured of the evil eye from one of those possible culprits.

The one-year-old boy refused to drink from the glass so the mother dipped a finger into the water, dabbed the boy's lips, then made crosses with her wet finger on his forehead, his cheeks and his hand.

"See?" she said. "He's cured. He's not whiny anymore."


The Fall & Rise of Airline Cutlery 


Friday, April 08, 2005

One of the less-discussed responses to 9-11 is the banning of metal airline cutlery. Affecting jetsetters who collect forks, spoons, and knives with the airline's logo and/or name, those who were collectors in pre-9-11 days now jealously guard their existing stash. Or, in extreme cases, collectors resort to stealing airline cutlery from other frequent travellers.

The thefts occur most often when two jetsetters live together and place their airline cutlery in a common kitchen drawer. Some collectors report a migration of cutlery from their half of the drawer to the roommate's side of the drawer. In some cases, the cutlery disappears entirely and only resurfaces when the victimized collector looks into the closet of the thieving varmint while the thieving varmint is away from home. Law enforcement authorities recommend that the victim of such a theft pay particular attention to heavy shoeboxes while executing a manhunt for the missing cutlery.

While even in pre-9-11 days not all airlines supplied travellers with metal cutlery that was free for the taking (ahem, Tunisian Airlines!), the total banning of metal cutlery led to inferior plastic cutlery. The new cutlery bore no logo, making it worthless to collectors.

However, thanks to recent improvements in airline security, metal cutlery will make a comeback, taking airline cutlery collectors out of marginalized hobbies like collecting airline safety cards or inflight magazines. British-based airlines will now allow metal cutlery once more*.

*Knitters can bring knitting needles onboard starting April 25.


Banzuke 


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Lee of the always amusing Tokyo Times drew my name out of a hat to name me winner of a sumo banzuke, a "ranking sheet that not only lists all the wrestlers (around 600), but also all the staff connected with the sport."

This was my second try and I rejoice.

Which got me thinking. I'd like to hand out a prize in return for all of you jostling for my attention. I already promised to send Charles the doll heads for his Christmas tree. Now what else is unique to here that you don't have over there? Maybe something from the Haunted Museum giftshop? Nude photos of the hamster?

I'll have to go shopping or something now.


The New Vinyl 


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

It's like the Eighties almost never left.

My recently broken stereo, that dust pile that was my lifetime's first major purchase, arose from the dead to blurt out tape tunes again.

Cassettes are good enough for me again.

People talk with nostalgia for records all the time. My record player still works as well as that day back in 1980 when my parents bought it. I listen to mariachi records while I houseclean. I still have all my childhood records: Abba, one Depeche Mode record (everything else up until Violator I have on tape), the Song of the South soudntrack from which I still annoy family members with renditions of Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, a gazillion Barbra Streisand LPs. I have no idea what people are talking about when they say they miss vinyl.

What I miss are tapes. None of these sissy iPods and MP3s. Or the arch-enemy of the tape - the damnable CD.

Tapes were hardier than CDs. Leave a tape out of its case and it can't get into too much trouble. Leave a CD on your coffee table and invisible gnomes will scratch the Backstreet Boys into oblivion.

The point is, tapes were character-building: kids these days, they know nothing about the hardship we children of the Eighties endured.

Who of my generation doesn't remember the irritating task of trying to forward or rewind to just the right spot on a tape? If you didn't want to listen to the songs in order, you spent more time listening to the whish of fastforwarding. You couldn't just go off in a corner and let the tape player do your work for you either. You'd have to rewind back again.

Imagine, children of today, not being able to hear the song you wanted to hear when you wanted to hear it. Imagine having to wait by the radio for hours until your song du jour came up. Your finger raw and bent out of shape on the record button. Imagine, too, the horror of accidentally taping the DJ's voice talking about sock sales at the Bay when there were a good twenty seconds left to the song.

You kids have it easy these days. You can listen to your goddamn CDs in your CD player, on the computer, in a DVD player, or into whatever the hell you can insert those things.

Not like in my day. You couldn't just stuff a cassette into a toaster and listen to it. Nothing was more disastrous than a precious tape spewing out brown streamers.

In those days, we couldn't just download a song - we lived on potatoes and grits and had to collect pennies off the street to make enough for the Samantha Fox tape.

And the sound quality - you kids today have no clue what it meant to listen to the same song over and over and over again, until your cassette player sliced your cassette into shreds of lacerated sounds.

It was bound to happen.
You little punks.


Blonde Ambition 


Monday, April 04, 2005

Now that I am officially a blonde, there have been a few changes around here.

First of all, my boobs have swelled to the size of basketballs. My stylist said it would happen. Something about all the silicone in the hair dye seeping in through my scalp and dripping down my veins to my heart.

Secondly, I am now entitled to make the sort of demands of which brunettes and redheads can only dream. Men must now, no matter where or with whom they are sitting in a restaurant, pay for my meals. The Blonde Code states that now I must only drink champagne (or beer, if in a redneck setting).

Furthermore, the Code also requires me to enter any and all wet t-shirt contests. Eat that, brown heads.

Plus, men on the street slip dollar bills in my bikini now. So I quit my job. No need to waste my time slaving away at work: I made $46 walking to my car in the supermarket parking lot yesterday. The coin was a little cold but I guess the guy didn't have any bills.

Things aren't all rosy in my new fair world, though. My ex-boyfriend (my friend introduced me to him last night at the club) threatened me this morning that he will put our videos online. That'll hurt my acting career, I told him.

But things might be ok after all. I just got my acceptance into Harvard Law School. I never applied. It turns out Harvard has a special blonde clause. As a result of protests, discrimination against us is illegal. We all get accepted; some blondes complain that we're just the token minorities in a bigger sea of nerds. I'm ok with it myself.

As soon as I get my law degree, I am so opening up my own nail salon.


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