About a month ago, I am grilling on the back porch when a cat appears in the middle of the backyard. It meows at me. I meow back at the cat and continue to grill. The cat sits down, watched me grill, and continues to meow every 20 seconds. Jaclyn comes out and observes the cat, I ask if I should kill it.

“Kill it!?” In an exasperated voice, “Why would you kill it?”

I explain that it is very unusual for a cat to sit down in the middle of a yard which it does not belong and is frequently patrolled by a large dog.

Jac being the more rationale side of our equation says, “The previous homeowner owned cats and she did not move far away, perhaps the cat belongs to her.”

Through the miracle of social media, Jaclyn reached out to the former home owner and within an hour, was able to confirm that the cat did not belong to her, all her cats were accounted for. The cat continues to meow at us in the backyard, but we move on with our lives, or so we thought.

An hour later, Dalia comes running in the house explaining that she has been bitten by the cat and has a minor scratch. Frequent readers of this blog will probably notice a pattern with Dalia, if we come across an animal, she will most likely find a way inside its mouth. We call the doctor and they suggest taking her to the emergency room and get it checked out. This is the second time in less than a year we are taking Dalia to the hospital for an animal bite, some geeky guy at our health insurance company is probably noticing that in an enormous database of claims and chuckling.

The kind staff at the hospital advise that we capture the cat so we can determine if it had rabies or not. If we do not capture the cat and rule out rabies, Dalia will require a 2-week course of rabies shots which are painful and terrible.

We return home, lure the cat into our sun room with a piece of microwaved trout (see earlier blog post on trout fishing!), lock the door, and go to bed.

Day 2 of this fiasco continues by trying to get a humane organization to take the cat and observe it for rabies. This turns out to be impossible and the best anyone can do is to tell us to keep the cat for 10 days and if it dies or goes insane, it has rabies, otherwise, it probably doesn’t. Jac agrees to take on the responsibility of monitoring the feline.

I am dreadfully nervous about Jaclyn going into the sunroom to provide the creature with food and water, if it attacks Jaclyn, it is possible that she will have rabies too. Fortunately, Jaclyn braves the possibility, enters the room, and the cat purrs and massages itself by passing back and forth closely against her legs. The cat appreciates the food and water, purrs for a bit, and that whacks Jac with its claws and scratches her, the cat is a jerk, but does not seem to have rabies.

10 days go by without incident, it appears very comfortable in the sun room. It ends up using an old aluminum tray from a Moe’s catering event as a kitty litter box. Jac identifies a new owner for the cat through Facebook, but we needed to get it neutered. Many docs were reluctant as they were concerned about the possibility of feline AIDs (I didn’t know that was even a thing), but we finally found someone and when they began the procedure on the cat they found out it was already neutered (this is why cats need to build a strong lobbying organization for better use of electronic medical records!).

One month & a horrifically smelling sun room later, the cat was released to his new owner on a farm in south west Pennsylvania. Jac & Dalia reported that the cat just ran for its life upon release.

Good times had by all. Pretty happy that that chapter is officially closed.

Gettysburg Continued

I wanted to add more about my trip to Gettysburg. I have now read several books about the Civil War and even an entire book about Gettysburg, the stories are so rich and true, no exaggeration required, just pure heart wrenching pursuit of a better future.

Anyways, there are places in Gettysburg where a couple hundred people had to hold off thousands. There are trenches were hundreds were shot and captured. There are ridges that sustained hours and hours of attacks until they were out of ammunition and had to charge down the hill with just their bayonets to give everything they had to protect their flank. I tried to articulate these stories on the ground in which they occurred to my children. I did my best to paint a vivid scene of what was happening where we stood 152 years ago, but as I spoke, the kids could do nothing but tickle, wrestle, and run around the sacred park chasing after each other. I realized that I was now “that dad”, the dad taking 6 and 8 year old kids on a trip to visit historical battlefields. I imagined that they were going to be totally into it, that they would grasp the historical importance, and thank me for my insider knowledge from reading all those books, instead, they were like “Dad, I am going to stick my arm in this cannon.”

The gift shop sells a book with CDs in it. You pop in the CD, drive to the battlefield where a very clearly marked sign saying “AUDIO TOUR STOP 1” with a big star on it, stop your car and listen to exactly what happened at the spot you are now sitting. The CDs are not just some guy talking, they have great audio effects and actors reading actual quotes from the battle. I have done a tour with an actual Park Ranger who drove my car around and explained all the sights and I have done the CD audio tour, the CD Audio Tour is the way to go.

In the end, I think the kids will remember two things:

1. The North battled the South at Gettysburg

2. Gettysburg is a pretty boring field in the middle of nowhere

Gettysburg & July 4th

At the end of June, I had a work conference in Hershey. All the hotel rooms were booked in Hershey, so I decided to grab a room in nearby Gettysburg (or so I thought). After a 3 and a half hour drive, I pulled into Gettysburg around 10:30PM on Thursday night, I needed to be at Hershey at 7AM the next morning. Once I checked into my hotel room, I looked at the trip distance from Gettysburg to Hershey on my phone and realized it was a solid hour away. The turnpike exits are close enough, but the real distance is the roads once you get off the exit.

That wasn’t a big deal though, an hour drive is a piece of cake and I found a great college radio station for the ride. My family joined me on Friday evening as I promised them the opportunity to see the Gettysburg battlefields, which produced a vacant blank stare from both of my kids until I also threw in a trip to the movie theater to watch Jurassic World, which got them excited to tag along too. I was done with the convention on Friday around 3PM, so I had some time to kill before my family arrived later that night. I headed into the town of Gettysburg to grab a bite to eat and take in the sights.


Gettysburg is the mecca of history buffs and civil war reenactors. There are a bunch of shops selling historical wares, strange objects found from the battlefields. The image above, just made me giggle out loud in the store, I am not sure if they are civil war battlefield eye balls or just plain old replacement eye balls, but $35 seemed like a reasonable price.

In the world around us, there has been a lot of heated debate about the Confederate Flag recently with the racist shooting in Charleston, SC. In Gettysburg, a town in which it constantly celebrates the historical battle that was fought there, the confederate flag is ubiquitous. Well, I decided to seek out a restaurant right in the middle of the town’s center square called Blue & Grey. I had been there before and I recalled that they make excellent burgers. Each burger is named after a famous Gettysburg battle soldier/general. Here’s what they don’t tell you, it’s a little surprise. If you order a burger named after a Union soldier, a little US Flag is planted into the burger. If you order a burger named after a confederate soldier, a confederate flag is planted on the burger. When I was at the restaurant, I saw the bartender nervously explain the whole concept as she served a black man a burger with a confederate flag. I am not sure if he minded at all, I just know the waitress spent a lot more time explaining the concept with him than with other customers, plus, you could hear a bit of anxiety in her voice.

Jeep July

Found a great ridge to park on in our neighborhood, kids jumped on top of the jeep and watched random fireworks pop up all over the countryside.