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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Herding Cats

If you regularly watch any kind of nature television programs then you should be familiar with the herding of caribou or other similar animals.  They run for long distances at high speed and the photographer is in a plane or helicopter filming from above looking down upon the herd.  The animals bunch together when they pass through a narrow point in their travels to the point that they are shoulder to shoulder.  Have you got the picture firmly planted in your mind?

Now imagine that the herd scene is taken from your walking height and the herd that you are watching consists of just cats.  OK, now reduce the numbers of the herd until you end up with three cats being herded in front of you.  They run ahead of you seemingly with some urgent purpose in mind, some desired destination.  And what is the destination?  The bathroom.  Yes, the bathroom.

I spend a lot of time at my computer, surfing the web, filling out job applications, playing games, etc.  I sit in an old worn out computer station swivel chair.  The kind with five foot rests with wheels sticking out from a central post.  It has a handle to adjust the height if you lift up while you pull up on the handle the seat raises a little bit.  If you apply a little of your weight to the seat while you lift the handle you can make it go down slowly until you reach the height that you prefer.  The seat swivels around and has an adjustable backrest that goes back/forward or up/down (no fancy stuff like leaning back, or adjustable arms).  The backrest swivels so that maximum surface meets your back as you lean back onto it.  The hydraulic lifter has some sort of spring on top so that when you get up the seat springs up a few inches until it reaches a mechanical stop.  With the seat higher and when you sit down it lowers back to the normal position with some resistance.  I'm not sure what function it does, maybe is is to boost you in getting up and to cushion your sitting when you "Plop" onto the chair.  The seat cushion is fastened to a plastic shell which in turn is mounted onto a metal plate welded to the top of the hydraulic lifter piston.  Only the plastic shell is broken on one the left side and I sit on a slightly left-leaning seat.  I am no longer getting the cushion support so after long periods of sitting it feels like I am sitting directly on the left side of the mounting plate. The rivets that held the backrest to the swivel mount broke a long time ago so I replaced them with a piece of bent coat-hanger sticking through the mount like an axle.  By now you should be asking yourself; "What does this have to do with Herding Cats?"

While I am at my computer I usually have the company of three of our four cats.  "The Girls" hang out with me. If all three are not on the bed right behind me, then Miney (Mine-ee) is sleeping under my chair between the legs, Baby and Missy are somewhere close.  Being in the condition that it is, my chair makes a bit of noise when I get up.  The backrest rattles, the seat pops up and thumps against the stop, and the hydraulic lift makes a whooshing sound.  This seems to be a signal for all three cats to stop what they are doing and run ahead of me to the bathroom.  It does not matter why I am going to the bathroom, I get the company of all three cats.  Baby, being the most nimble, jumps up onto the window sill and sits.  Missy usually jumps up onto the sink counter where the food is kept.  And Miney stays on the floor (she seems to have a problem in jumping up onto things).  When I turn to go out the door, all three cats again run ahead and usually end up on the bed.

I'm not sure why the "Three Girls" act this way.  Perhaps they are trying to protect me, or maybe it is a "Pride Movement" when I get up from my chair.