Goodbye, Jokulhaups

A few weeks ago we had to put one of our cats, Jokulhaups, down.  He was only 3 years old, but he had developed FIP.  From what we understand through the vet and some Googling, there is a common virus that many cats get when they’re young, but all it really does is give them some diarrhea before they get over it.  However, in some cats, it then mutates into FIP, and there is no known cure for FIP at this time.  Cats usually affected by FIP are on the young end or the old end, and the vet said Jokulhaups was on the upper edge of the young end that get it.

After we put him down we had him cremated, and we got him back yesterday.  They put him in a nice wooden box and printed a shiny gold sticker with his name on it – unfortunately it was spelled wrong, but it’s on the back, and I’m considering ordering a plaque for the front.  We put the Jokulhaups Magic the Gathering card (which he was named after) next to him.

Jokulhaups was such a smart and determined kitty.  We got him along with Dragon in 2011, and from the beginning he was finding ways to rebel against us.  When we first got them we kept them shut in our bathroom so they could become more comfortable before we released them into the apartment.  Jokulhaups was always eager to explore more and kept trying to escape the bathroom, so soon we decided to expand their area.  It’s a bit hard to explain, but basically across from the bathroom door was the door to our bedroom.  Standing at the bathroom door looking at the bedroom door, there was a wall to the right, then a sort of open frame to the left that led to the rest of the apartment.  What we decided to do was take a folding table and lean it on its side against the open frame, so that the cats could travel from the bathroom to the bedroom but couldn’t get to the rest of the apartment.  It was at a height where we could just barely swing our legs over it to get back and forth when we needed to.  Jokulhaups decided that wasn’t enough – the tiny 2-month-old kitten jumped high enough to just jump over the table!  No matter how many times we put him back, he would just jump back over.  At that point we just gave up and let them explore the entire apartment.

Jokulhaups had crazy energy and loved to play.  He also got into everything, though.  He chewed through a laptop cable once, and he would chew any paper or pens he found, so we learned to keep everything shut away.  That wasn’t quite enough though – he learned to open the drawers and cabinets in our desks and in the kitchen.  We ended up velcroing them shut, but he was so strong that sometimes he was still able to pull them open, as they all had handles.  It was pretty amazing to watch – the kitchen cabinets had vertical bar handles, so he would just stand, place his left paw against the left cabinet door for stability, and use his right paw to pull on the handle just like a human.

At our second apartment, he was also able to open the kitchen cabinets – these cabinets were the kind with a little indentation at the bottom for you to pull with your fingers, and he figured those out, so we would often come home to random cabinets open.  We were able to reorganize to keep important things where he couldn’t reach though, so we left them.  At this apartment we discovered another amazing thing he could do – when we first moved to this one, we kept them in the bedroom only, to make it easier for us to unpack outside.  Again, this was not good enough for Jokulhaups.  He apparently watched us enough to figure out how to open doors – the doors at this apartment were light and the hinges were loose, so all he had to do was pull down on the handle and he was out.  It was pretty scary the first time we were in the living room and all of a sudden heard the bedroom door opening.  We ended up having to keep the bedroom door locked until we were ready to let them roam free.

As I mentioned before, the doors at this second apartment had loose hinges – the bathroom door would naturally swing almost shut.  Opposite from Jokulhaups, Dragon decided it was fun to shut doors, so she would go into the bathroom and lean a bit on the door so that it would shut completely.  The first time she did this, I watched Jokulhaups open the door for her again from the outside.  However, he wouldn’t open it for her after that all the times she decided it was fun, so after coming home to her shut in the bathroom a few times, we just had to get a door stop to keep her from shutting herself in.

When we got our condo, we actually decided our kitchen cabinet styles based on Jokulhaups – what would be the most difficult for him to open?  We settled on flat cabinets with a round knob.  He couldn’t possibly open those, right?  …Wrong.  We once again came home to random open cabinets.  Jack told me he witnessed him open one once – he actually wrapped his little paw around the round knob!  How did he know to do that?!  We also came home to some open closet doors a few times, but I guess they were too boring for him, as he eventually stopped opening them.

Jokulhaups grew up to be a very large healthy kitty, ending up around 16 pounds as a 3-year-old.  Dragon is only around 9 pounds.  When we first got them Jokulhaups would be pretty aggressive, and would win any play-fights.  Over time though it seemed that he would let her win – we would watch as he would lay on his back with his belly wide open, and allow Dragon to just pounce at him.  He loved to play and didn’t use his weight as an advantage.  He was also so very friendly – a friend brought her cat over once and that cat and Dragon were terrified, but he just wanted to play!  He excitedly went right up to that cat to investigate, and tried to play.  We also brought them over to another friend’s place that had two cats, and Dragon and those cats were terrified, but Jokulhaups just kind of took the entire apartment over, investigating everything.  He loved to say hello whenever anyone would come over.

When we moved to our condo in January, we noticed that he became a little more reserved – we figured he was growing up and maturing.  We no longer needed to keep our pens and papers hidden away, and he did not open the cabinets as often as at the last apartment.  However, a few months after that we noticed that he slowly stopped eating.  We couldn’t figure out why, as we didn’t change anything around that time, but after a while he started eating again, so we didn’t think much of it after that.  A few months later we noticed that he seemed to be losing his balance.  When he was on the couch, he was very unsteady, and he quickly got worse – he didn’t have the strength to jump up onto the couch when he wanted to snuggle, and would fall back down and give up.  We took him to the vet and they could see he was unsteady and that he had lost 6 pounds, but couldn’t find anything obviously wrong with him, so they took some blood for testing and let us know they would get back to us.

When they did get back to us, we found out that he had FIP.  It was uncertain how long he had.  At the vet appointment they had injected him with some fluids, and we got some liquid medicine to give him that would make him a bit more comfortable, but not cure him.  He wasn’t happy with the medicine though; the first day he took it fine, but the next few days after that he would throw up the morning dosage.  We went back to the vet and they gave him some long-term antibiotic shots (long-term meaning a few weeks) so we could stop giving him the liquid medicine.  They also showed us how to inject fluids into him, so that if the fluids helped and he felt better, we could give him fluids weekly on our own.  It kind of freaked me out – I don’t do well with needles, and the fluids also cause a hump under his skin when injected that also freaked me out, so I couldn’t really watch and Jack had to take the responsibility of learning how to do it.

The shots and fluids seemed to help him a bit – he was much more awake and aware, and was hungrily eating the liquidy food they gave us for him (he was too weak to eat the chunky food we usually give them, so we mixed the liquidy food with some water, heated it in the microwave, and spoon-fed it to him multiple times a day).  However he was still very weak.  We had to go out of town for a wedding and had my brother watch the cats, but by the time we came back he could no longer stand.  We found him laying under the couch in our second bedroom, and we didn’t want to disturb him so we didn’t move him, but we became very concerned that night.  Every night since we’ve had the cats they always join us for bed – Dragon always sleeps on my pillow and eventually migrates to snuggle with Jack, while Jokulhaups would often sleep on different spots on the bed.  Even if he didn’t sleep on the bed, he would always be in the room.  However that night he did not join us, and was still in the exact same position under the couch the next day.  It seemed that his legs were slowly becoming paralyzed; his little feet got colder and colder.

At that point we knew we didn’t have much time left.  He could not get up to eat or go to the bathroom.  We put a towel under him, and spent the next few nights next to him on an air mattress in that second bedroom.  He’s always squeaked rather than meowed, and whenever he squeaked at us we would lay him in the litter box in case he needed to pee.  During the day, the sun shines directly into that room, so we placed him in front of the window so he could enjoy it while we were at work.

The day before we were scheduled to put him down, we bought some rattly mice.  They have always been his favorite toy, but he would always lose them under things when he played with them.  I figured I would give him one more.  However, I couldn’t get just one, in case Dragon took it from him because she didn’t have one.  So, we gave Dragon one of them outside in the living room where he couldn’t see, hoping that it would make him less upset that he couldn’t play.  We gave him his in the second bedroom – I thought that it would make him feel better but it was so heart-breaking.  He immediately grabbed it in this mouth and tried with all his strength to get up and play with it.  When he couldn’t, it just dropped it and lay there.

The day of, we took the day off work to spend time with him in the sunny second bedroom.  Dragon joined us, and we spent a lazy family day in the sun.  When we put him down, they let us leave that rattly mouse with him.

We’ve tried to keep an eye on Dragon since then to make sure she is okay.  Thinking back on it, she did become very clingy a little while before Jokulhaups got really bad, perhaps because he stopped playing with her.  She started following our schedule very closely – when we went to get ready for bed, she would follow us and sit on the edge of the tub waiting.  Then, once we were done, she would follow us to bed and fall asleep with us as usual.  She was always there when we woke up – and she still does all that now.  She was never that close with Jokulhaups; the very few times I caught them snuggling, I could tell it was Jokulhaups that snuggled up with her, and she never really paid much attention to him even at the very end, other than some play-fighting.  She seems okay now, but I think she still misses him, and she had never been home alone before that day.  Now she is all alone by herself all day when we are at work.  After a few more months, I think we may get another kitty to keep her company.

This got really really long, but I wanted to remember Jokulhaups.  Goodbye, Jokulhaups – we love you.

Terrible Design and The Cat That Opens Doors

We moved to a new apartment on Saturday.  That night, we heard this annoying periodic beeping, so Jack went to check out what it was and turn it off.

This is the security system that is in our apartment.

See that long On / Off button?  Doesn’t it look like the top would be On, and the bottom would be Off?  Jack pushed Off just in case it was the security system making the beeping.

Instead, he accidentally turned the motion sensor on, and set it off at midnight.  It was going for around 10 minutes before he finally managed to get the alarm to shut up (no one had told us the passcode when we moved in).  Thank god it’s not connected to the police department!

This system is so poorly designed – apparently that long button is actually an On/Off toggle button, so instead of turning it off, Jack turned it on.  First of all, why would you make it an extra-long button and label the top and bottom separately if the entire button does one thing?  That is not intuitive at all.  Why wouldn’t they be separate On and Off buttons, to make it clear?  Furthermore, why can you turn on the alarm system without a passcode?  The system in our old house in Virginia required a passcode both to turn the system on and off – no chance of accidentally turning it on!

In addition, my friend Rosemary had the following to add to the list of how terribly unclear this system is:

  • What in the world does FUNCTION do?
  • And what about BYPASS?  Does that mean you can bypass the system without a passcode?
  • Is the phone number for customer service or emergency information?
  • What does that warning light mean?  Was there a break-in?  Or is there an error with the system?  12 errors?
  • What do all the numbers mean?
  • Why in the world do the 7, 8, and 9 buttons spell FAP?

In other news, we are settling in to the apartment.  The first few days, we kept the cats in the bedroom so that they wouldn’t get in the way while we rearranged and unpacked all our items.  Unfortunately, Jokulhaups is TOO SMART and figured out how to open the door.

Apologies for how blurry the photo is.

We ended up having to tie the bedroom door handle to the bathroom door handle so he couldn’t pull the door open.

Since I haven’t started my new job yet, I spend the days following the kitties around with a spray bottle and teaching them where they’re not allowed to be.  Jokulhaups has already figured out how to open the cabinets and drawers in this apartment.  In the old apartment, we Velcroed the cabinets shut, and he was still strong enough to open them.  In this apartment, there isn’t enough overlap between the cabinet body and cabinet door to add Velcro – I have no idea what we’re going to do!

When we took them to the vet, Dragon was weighed at 8 pounds, and Jokulhaups at 15 (the doctor said he isn’t overweight though).  He’s almost twice her weight!

Life update – auto-immune disease, resolutions, video games, projects, and kitties

I’ve been meaning to write this since Christmas, but I kept putting it off, so it’s a little late.  Haven’t posted in a long time, so it’s going to be long! Here’s a table of contents, just in case… Topics aren’t in any special order.  Also I was writing the end in a rush so it’s not as comprehensive as I’d like…

Auto-immune disease
Video games

Auto-immune disease – pemphigus foliaceus

After many, many doctor visits, I’ve learned that I have this random auto-immune disease called pemphigus foliaceus.  My immune system basically attacks my skin, so if I don’t take medicine, I get blisters all over.  It’s not curable, but it’s controllable.

In September, I noticed that I randomly started getting open wounds on my stomach.  At first I thought it was the kitties accidentally clawing me when they slept on me at night, but as I paid more attention I discovered that I actually had blisters for a short amount of time, before my clothes rubbing against them would pop them.  At the beginning they only appeared under my t-shirt line, so I thought I might be sensitive to our detergent or something, so we changed it and waited a few weeks but I still got the blisters.  Around Thanksgiving I started getting a rash on my face too, so I finally went to the doctor.

Multiple visits, blood tests, and biopsies later, the dermatologist told me I had pemphigus foliaceus.  Here’s a site with a pretty good description of it (it’s about the more severe version pemphigus vulgaris, but everything is basically the same except I don’t get sores in my mouth – yay, I guess): Pemphigus Vulgaris Network.

Basically right now I am taking a steroid medicine that has been toning down the blisters and rashes a lot.  When I went down to the lowest dose I still got some new blisters, so I’m on a medium dose right now.  I’ve been feeling some of the side effects, so it’s kind of messing me up a bit.  I haven’t been able to sleep a lot lately as it gives me a bit of insomnia.  The doctor said it may make me anxious – so far the only thing I’ve noticed is that on my regular drives to and from work, I sometimes start to feel like all the cars around me are narrowing in and boxing me in, and it freaks me out as I’m driving.  Every once in a while the lanes just feel really really narrow and I feel like every car is inches from me.  Also the medicine makes me gain weight :(  I have to watch what I eat as it makes me really hungry, and even though I’ve been watching what I’m eating I’ve gained 10 pounds in the month since I’ve started the medicine.

However the steroid medicine is bad for you long-term, so I’ve also started a new medicine that takes 6-8 weeks to take effect.  Hopefully this one is better – in essence it is turning down my immune system so that it doesn’t attack my body.  I’ve always had a weak immune system so now I have to be really careful to eat healthier.  I’ve been taking iron, calcium, and vitamin D supplements – I take 7 different pills in one day :(  It’s interesting though, because apparently I had slight anemia due to low iron, so I was always tired and feeling faint.  Lately, though, I’ve been feeling so much more awake and energetic – I never realized that how I usually felt wasn’t normal!  I get up easier, have a lot more motivation to get things done, and feel so productive every day now.  The only thing I’m not sure about is if it’s a result of my iron level being normal, or the steroid medicine – hopefully I am still as energetic (but with no insomnia!) after I get off the steroid medicine!

My dermatologist referred me to a dermatology auto-immune specialist at Stanford, so I will be seeing him soon just to confirm my normal dermatologist’s diagnosis and treatment.  I have never appreciated health insurance before this.  My dermatologist told me that before he referred me he had already pre-authorized the visit with my insurance, so I already know that it will mostly be covered.  All the doctors I’ve seen so far (urgent care, normal family doctor, dermatologist, hematologist) have been in the Palo Alto Medical Foundation‘s network, and I am really impressed by how high-tech and efficient everything is.  I gave my information once at the Sunnyvale center, and since then every time I go I just tell them my name and show my ID.  The Mountain View center has just about every type of doctor in one building, and even the labs are there, so after my doctor visits if I need to get blood tests I just walk down to the lab.  The doctors immediately send prescriptions to your pharmacy during your appointment, so as soon as I get home I can pick them up.  They’ve also got this awesome online system where I can see all my upcoming appointments, send messages to doctors, see the results of all my blood tests, see all my prescriptions… Everything is so high-tech in Silicon Valley!


These resolutions are late, and I haven’t really started, but putting them here will push me to follow them:

  1. Health
    1. Eat healthier – more vegetables and fruits
    2. Exercise three times a week – Tuesdays and Thursdays at work, Sundays at the apartment complex gym
    3. Get back down to my normal weight (110 pounds)
  2. Money
    1. Eat out less – try to bring lunch to work more often
    2. Control my random bursts of spending sprees
    3. Be more aware of how much of my money goes to what
  3. Work
    1. Learn more – delve deeper into the new things I’m using rather than only dealing with the minimum
    2. Be more aware of user experience – it’s fascinating!
    3. Collaborate more with other people – talk in person rather than IM if possible
    4. Speak up more with my thoughts and ideas
    5. Take useful classes that become available
  4. Projects
    1. Work on projects more consistently! Don’t just start them and forget about them for a few years
    2. Keep up with crafts projects
    3. Start more technical projects, especially related to web development
    4. Keep track of project progress, optimally here on Bacon Fried Rice
  5. Miscellaneous
    1. Be more productive, do chores more willingly, resist the urge to just lay on the couch and read articles on my phone
    2. Follow a weekday schedule so I don’t get lazy and do nothing when I can’t decide what to do. Tentatively:
      1. Monday: Video games! EDIT: and reading
      2. Tuesday: Crafts project (probably finishing my cross-stitch projects)
      3. Wednesday: Technical project (discussed later)
      4. Thursday: Do something with Jack (play games or do a project or something)
      5. Friday: Free choice

Video games

I’m still playing Arkham City right now.  I like it, and it’s usually the type of game I really like to play, but for some reason I just can’t really get myself to finish it.  I think it’s because it disturbs me.  The villains are terrible.  I want to just get it over with so I can finally play Assassin’s Creed Revelations.

Uncharted 3 was awesome, but kind of short.  Also the ending was very anti-climactic.

I got a DOTA2 key, so I started learning it and playing with Jack.  I suck though.  Also Jack apparently logged into my Steam account and gave away my two extra keys without telling me -__-

I need to find other games to play with Jack too, I can’t see myself being able to play multiple DOTA2 games in a row without getting bored… We played the Uncharted 3 local multiplayer but now that we finished it it doesn’t have much re-playability.


I’ve been neglecting my projects a lot.  I have two categories: crafts and technical.

In terms of crafts, I usually do them with a purpose (cards for people’s birthdays, holidays, etc.) so I guess it makes sense that I haven’t been keeping up with them.  However when I was going through my boxes of junk I discovered more than five very large cross-stitch projects that I’ve either started very little of or haven’t started at all.  I’ve decided I’m going to focus on those, so my Tuesdays are going to just be cross-stitching.  Right now I’m working on one of kitties in a window that I started for Jack two years ago – I wonder how long it will take me to finally finish it!

For technical projects, I’ve decided to pick up web development again.  I’ve always been interested – taught myself HTML from a book in fourth grade – but it kind of died off once I got into high school, and all of the programming I did in college wasn’t related at all.  However due to some of the stuff I’ve been doing at work my interest has been rekindled – I’m going to write about this in a separate post later so I won’t go into detail here.


I’m in a rush and have to leave so I will just leave with a short note about the kitties.  They are still awesome, Jokulhaups is big and heavy and too smart.  He figured out how to open all the cabinets so now we have to Velcro them shut.  Dragon is so much tinier than Jokulhaups!  She loves to snuggle now, every morning she comes up to Jack and asks to be let under the covers.  She used to sleep on my pillow every night but I guess snuggling with Jack in the morning was warmer :(  She loves sitting with me when I’m at the computer though, so I guess that makes up for it.  Here are two kitty photos before I go:

Jokulhaups would like a belly rub please

Dragon says Mini Panda is snuggly and warm

Healthy kitties

Jokulhaups and Dragon just came back from the vet and they are very healthy! I have to get some of Dragon’s poop for a fecal test though, not looking forward to that.

The humane society suggested a vet that covers $200 of initial exam + shots within the first two weeks per kitty. So today I have like a -$260 balance after the two exams and pre-paying the fecal test. They both have one more vaccine to get that the humane society doesn’t cover and Jokulhaups’ is on Tuesday so we get it for free but Dragon needs hers the day after the two weeks… Nooooo

They need rabies shots from the humane society in a few months then they are set! They are both asleep right now, guess the car ride was exhausting. Dragon is stretched out in my lap and I snuck a round toy onto her leg, wonder if she’ll notice when she wakes up!

More pictures to come later, my netbook power cord broke so I’m on my phone.


Mine is the black one and is named Jokulhaups.
Brownish tabby one is Allison’s and is named Dragon.

I’m pretty sure I win the name competition.