Cat goes missing in Colorado, found five years later in New York City

Photo of Willow courtesy of Popular Science

Amazing Cat Goes Missing in Colorado, Found Five Years Later in New York City, Alive and Well | Popular Science

The Pop Sci blog has published a story on Willow, a very lucky calico kitty who went missing in Colorado and was found, five years later, on the streets of Manhattan. When taken to a shelter, she was ID’d thanks to an embedded microchip and reunited with her owners. If only Willow could talk, what a yarn that would be!

This gives me hope that our own missing tomcat, our beloved Felix, will come back home someday. He disappeared in November of last year, during one of his mating trips. We were accustomed to his going MIA from time to time, but he always came back. We keep hoping against hope that he hasn’t died. The chances are slim, but Willow’s case is encouraging.


How Fritz earned his ‘Wonder Bunny’ moniker

As mentioned previously, Fritz’ full name is Fritz the Wonder Bunny from Brazil. We named him that on a whim, because it sounded cute, but he proved it true. So how did he earn it? I’ll tell you how.

Fritz, being a curious bunny and also a silly one, as young bunnies tend to be, found a spot inside the engine of our car where he liked to sleep undisturbed. He’d disappear for hours on end and we figured he’d made a burrow somewhere in the garden or he found a comfy and shady spot under one of our rhubarb bushes.

During one such afternoon when Fritz was nowhere to be found, I needed to run an errand that involved using the car. I looked under to make sure no one was sleeping there, opened the gate, got in and left. I drove for a couple of kilometers, parked the car on a street, then came back to it after a half hour or so, got in and drove back home. So far, so good.

Instead of parking the car inside our courtyard, as I usually do, I left it outside, on the street, because I knew I’d use it again later that same day.

Back inside our yard, Ligia and I started looking for Fritz. He was still nowhere to be found. He’d been gone for a few hours and we started to get worried. Where could he be, the silly bunny?

After we looked everywhere, we gave up. We figured he either found a great hiding spot or he decided to up and go. After all, our pets are all free to go if they so desire. They’re free and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our cats can climb over the fences any time they wish, and we also have a cat-sized hole in our gate, if they want to explore our street and socialize with other cats.

A few more hours passed by, and we started to get really worried. We’d only had the little guy for a few weeks, but we’d gotten attached to him. The thought of losing him saddened us deeply. We started thinking about scenarios.

What if Fritz had been eaten by a hawk? But we saw no hawks hanging about that day. What if Fritz might have climbed into the engine? That happened to us before, when two of our cats had kittens — but we thought the possibility so remote and the chance of his survival so slim if he did so, especially after I drove the car through town, that we put it out of our minds. We also didn’t have the heart to look inside the engine and see Fritz splattered all over, in case that was what had happened.

The time came for me to run out for another errand, and I left with a heavy heart, by this time realizing that we’d probably lost Fritz for good. I walked out of the house, opened the gate and to my astonishment, who do you think I found nibbling the grass next to my car but Fritz himself!

The little fur ball was covered in oil and dust and was quite scared. I called Ligia to my side and we caught him and put him back in the yard, where, in spite of his clearly harrowing experience, he dug right into a fresh red beet root while glancing about with his big eyes and twitching his soft bunny nose.

So what had happened? Short story, he climbed into the engine bay. That much we know for sure. I still don’t know what spot he chose, but it’s obviously a very good one, and that was his saving grace. He was inside the engine when I started the car and he stayed inside the engine the whole time, while I drove through the town and while the car stayed parked on a public street, kilometers away from our home. Did I mention the day was particularly hot, with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius?

He continued to stay inside the engine as I drove the car back home and he stayed either inside the engine or under the car as the car stood parked on the street outside our home for more than four hours. We assume he continued to stay with the car all that time because it was the only familiar thing in unfamiliar surroundings.

I don’t know what went through his tiny little bunny mind during all that time. It must have been a terrible experience, being caught up in a big metal monster that made a lot of noise and a lot of heat, moving about with all sorts of unfamiliar smells and somehow avoiding being crushed by all the belts and fans in the engine bay. Then, when the car stopped for good, he climbed out of the engine, his fur full of oil and dust from the car’s innards and he found himself in yet another strange place with all sorts of unfamiliar smells. He must have figured that if he waited there long enough, something would happen that would make things right again and sure enough, it did!

Now do you see why he is rightfully called Fritz the Wonder Bunny? It’s a wonder he’s still around! As far as we’re concerned, he’s a Super Bunny!

We’re hoping he won’t have to take a trip to Brazil in order to prove the last part of his name, but you never know. The future will reveal all! :-)

Hardware preview: Apple iPad 2

Apple iPad 2

The new iPad 2 will become available on March 11th (see a neat video from Apple introducing it). In my post about the original iPad, I said the following:

“In spite of the failures of their predecessors, I think Apple will pull this off. I think the iPad will be very successful.”

I’m glad to see that I was right. Not that I had anything to do with the success of the device. The credit goes entirely to Apple, and to the people who bought it and used it so well.

I got to watch the March 2 keynote today (a few days later). Much to my surprise, Steve Jobs was on stage to present it. I was very glad to see him able to stand up and hold a meeting, given all the tabloid rumors about him — though I have to say he was skinny as a board. Thank goodness he’s still around. I hope he gets better, and continues to be around for a few more decades.

Here’s a quick summary of the salient features of the iPad 2:

  • 33% thinner than the original iPad (0.34″), and lighter (1.33 lbs)
  • Comes in both black and white finishes
  • Dual-core A5 chip, up to 2x faster
  • Graphics are up to 9x faster
  • Same great 10-hour battery life
  • Same 1024×768 display
  • 2 cameras (front and back) for video or photos, in HD
  • Magnetic smart cover designed specifically for it
  • Instant on
  • AirPlay to your TV via Apple TV
  • Video mirroring (up to 1080p) via $39 cable
  • AirPrint

My only disappointment with the iPad 2 is that it doesn’t have a Retina Display. Word on the grapevine is that they’re still difficult to make in that size. Who knows… It would have been nice if this iPad had it. Still, I believe iPad 3 will have a Retina Display.

iPad 2 Measurements

iPad 2 A5 Chip

I am however very glad to see that the iPad 2 does have a video camera — and not just one, but two. In my review of the original iPad, I said this:

“It’s very likely the next gen iPad will have a video camera, and it will have iChat as well.”

Glad to see I was right on that count as well. It was, after all, a logical step.

Facetime on iPad 2

iPad 2 Smart Cover Line-up

Smart Cover for iPad 2

There are some new accessories for the iPad 2, which will be offered in addition to the ones designed for the original iPad.

  • The Smart Cover, naturally, which comes in 10 colors, 5 of them polyurethane and 5 leather, as seen above (see the Smart Cover in action in this video)
  • The Digital AV Adapter provides an HDMI-out port with video and audio routed to it, in addition to a 30-pin connector which lets you charge the iPad while playing content to an HDTV
  • The iPad 2 Dock is designed for the thinner iPad 2, and also works with Digital AV Adapter

iPad 2 Dock

Of course, given that the iPad has Bluetooth, you can stick it in a dock and use the Apple Wireless Keyboard to type on it.

Apple Wireless Keyboard

The Smart Cover is so nicely designed.

iPad 2 Smart Cover (1)

iPad 2 Smart Cover (2)

iPad 2 Smart Cover (3)

The Digital AV Adapter will make it so easy to display content from the iPad on an HDTV.

iPad 2 Digital AV Adapter

iPad 2 Video Mirroring

iPad 2 Airplay

The iPad 2 will come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, as well as WiFi-only or WiFi+3G (GSM or CDMA) models. My guess is that iPad 3 will have a combined 4G GSM/CDMA chip, eliminating the need to offer separate 3G models. The pricing grid for the various models (there are 18 possible models, given that there are two color finishes and two 3G providers), goes as follows:

  • WiFi-only: $499/16GB, $599/32GB, $699/64GB (black or white finish)
  • WiFi + 3G: $629/16GB, $729/32GB, $829/64GB (black or white finish, AT&T/Verizon)

Images used courtesy of Apple Computer, Inc.

The dancing Fountains of Bellagio at night

Most people will likely tell you the Fountains of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino are easily the coolest thing in Las Vegas. I agree. They are spectacular. I have never seen excess put to better use — and let me tell you, a huge lake that shoots water hundreds of feet in the air, in the middle of the Nevada desert, where any water demands a high premium, is excessive. These fountains left me breathless, awestruck, every time I saw them, and we made sure to catch several shows while we were there.

This is one of those shows, filmed by me at night, from the Northeast corner of the lake, at the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd and Flamingo Rd. The fountains danced to a famous tune crooned by Frank Sinatra, called “Luck Be A Lady”. Enjoy!

Watch video on YouTube | blip.tv

Wow. That is one word that really says it all when it comes to this.

The HexaKopter Micro Copter

Holger Buss and Ingo Busker are two Germans who have created an online community for micro copter fans in late 2006, called, appropriately enough, MikroKopter. Since then, they’ve come up with several micro copter designs, the plans for which they share freely on their site. One of their latest designs is the HexaKopter — an RC mini-helicopter with six propellers.

It is an amazing design, and the thing is incredibly nimble in the air, as you can see in the test flight video. The weight of the helicopter is 1,200 grams, and its max rated payload is 1,000 grams. In the test video, they loaded it with 1,300 grams (a digital camera used to film flight footage, and a 1 liter bottle of soda), and it did just fine. Flight time is up to 30 minutes with a small payload.

You can probably get some amazing aerial photographs and video with the HexaKopter. What can I say, I love German engineering! Kudos to Holger and Ingo!

Vasile Stoica: around the world by wheelchair

Vasile Stoica is the first Romanian to have traveled around the world on a wheelchair.

Born paralyzed from the waist down, he spent the first thirteen years of his life mostly in hospitals, enduring numerous operations which were supposed to enable him to walk, too poor for a wheelchair, forced to drag himself along the floor. When he got into his first chair, it felt like flying to him. Since then, he’s set ever higher goals for himself. He started making trips through Europe, then prepared for his trip around the world.

He completed his first round-the-world journey in 1998, and that’s also when he entered the record books as the person who traveled the longest distance by wheelchair. Since then, he plans different routes and travels with his special Kuschall wheelchair each year, hungry for new places and new challenges.

Here he is after he completed a grueling 5,250 km trek across Europe, in 2006, at Finisterre, Spain.

The man who traveled the world by wheelchair doesn’t get any respect in his own country, along with the other disabled people who live there. In a short video that he and his friends put together, he demonstrates how hard, or even impossible, it is for him to get around on his wheelchair in Romania, because of the lack of disabled access to public buildings, such as ramps or elevators — this in spite of laws that have been on the books for years.

Photos used courtesy of Vasile Stoica.

The first people to have traveled the world by wheelchair were Patrick and Anne Simpson, who published their account of the journey in 1997, in a book entitled simply “Wheelchair Around the World“.