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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. — Will Rogers

In Memoriam: Verbal 2005.03.15.09:41

At some point today while I was at work, my lovable, exceedingly affectionate all-black cat Verbal passed away.

When I moved to California in 1997, I had to leave behind the cat I had in Denver. Before I got settled in to my own apartment, the other cat (whom I called Constantine after the conqueror, not the comic book character) was adopted by a nice gay couple. So I set out to share my apartment with a new companion, one who was in need of a good home. I visited the local rescue organization, CARE (Companion Animal Rescue Effort), in search of a suitable pet.

People told me ahead of time that I shouldn't be so set on kittens, but I was. I'm more of a cat person than a dog person, mainly because I live alone and cats seem more capable of entertaining themselves with my long work hours. So off I went in search of baby cats.

I got to their weekend open-adoption one nice Sunday afternoon. No kittens. They explained that it was early in the year, since kittens usually resulted from people letting their un-fixed cats out when the weather improved around March and April. Just as I was ready to say "See you in May", I saw him.

In a cage was a big adult cat, all-black. I was still dallying in the goth scene at the time, so an all-black cat was worth serious goth points. I asked to hold him. After all, I was dead-set on kittens. But it wouldn't hurt to pet the cat, right? From the moment I picked him up, I was done for. This cat immediately put his front paws on my shoulder and simple laid his head against my chest, with his cheek in the hollow of my collarbone. I was his, hook line and sinker. I was totally 0wnx0r3d. I told them I'd be back next week with the adoption fee and everything else I needed.

The cat was named "Blackie" by his previous keeper, but I couldn't keep that name. I chose Bosch, after my favorite artist. But it wasn't long before his true nature came out: he was a talker. Everything he did was punctuated with vocalizations. He even talked in his sleep. So, taking a cue from an excellent film, I named him Verbal. It suited him so much better, after all.

His affectionate nature wasn't just a ruse to get adopted. From the day I brought him home, he would purr at the drop of a hat. If I sat down anywhere, he was there for his pettin's. Even when I went to sleep at night, he would climb up beside me and snuggle up. If I made a cup of my hand, he would use it as a pillow. He would be there the next morning when I woke up.

He was lonely when I went to work. He came from a household of a lot of cats, as his owner was one of CARE's foster-care staff. So after it was clear how lonely he was getting during the days, I went back to CARE and adopted a companion for him. They were inseperable. You would think Marie, the newer cat, was Verbal's own kitten. They groomed each other, they slept in a lop-sided yin-yang pattern. Rarely would they be more than 4 feet apart. When I slept at night, both would be on the bed with me.

For nearly 7 years, I've loved this animal. But lately, he was starting to show signs of age. He couldn't jump onto the bed anymore (it's a 3-foot jump). But he never lost his affectionate nature. Any time I sat at the computer, he wanted up in my lap. When I sat on the cushions in front of my coffee table, he would curl up at my feet and purr. Anytime I let him up in lap, he would lay his paws on my shoulder and snuggle against my neck, just like he did that first day.

I noticed recently that he'd lost a tremendous amount of weight. He wasn't eating, and barely drinking. I was worried, very worried. But I was also dead broke. So when it was clear that he needed to go to the vet, I decided that the very next paycheck, he was going.

That would have been tomorrow.

Instead, I came home tonight, way later than I should have, and found him passed.

I'm so, so sorry, my dear Verbal. I hope you are at peace.

# [/thoughts]

Who Am I:
Randy J. Ray
Software Engineer


Buy my book!

Programming Web Services with Perl

I've also contributed three chapters to:

Computer Science & Perl Programming

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Reading and Re-reading
· The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Would Be Thursday, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Gardner
· The Feeling Good Handbook, David D. Burns
· Organizing From the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern
· XML Schema, Eric Van Der Vlist
· BEEP: The Definitive Guide, Marshall T. Rose

High in the queue
· Silk, Caitlin R. Kiernan
· Coldheart Canyon, Clive Barker
· Idoru, William Gibson
· Shared Source CLI Essentials, David Stutz, Ted Neward, Geoff Shilling

Recently finished
· Planetary Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century, Warren Ellis, et al

Recommended favorites
· The Cowboy Wally Show, Kyle Baker
· Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite
· The Alienist, Caleb Carr
· Quarantine, Greg Egan
· The Authority: Relentless, Warren Ellis et al.
· Planetary: All Over the World and Other..., Warren Ellis et al.
· American Gods, Neil Gaiman
· Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
· Neuromancer, William Gibson
· A Philosophical Investigation, Philip Kerr
· Say You Want a Revolution (The Invisibles, Book 1), Grant Morrison et al
· You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of..., Oswald T. Pratt and Scott Dickers
· Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson
· Rising Stars : Born In Fire (Vol. 1), J. Michael Straczynski

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