Monday, June 18, 2018

Добро пожаловать в Россию

Greetings earthlings!
Every 4 years, around mid-June most of the planet goes into soccer frenzy while the US keeps itself strangely entertained with the NBA draft, summer picnics and graduations! FIFA world Cup 2018 is underway and the host country Russia's mascot for the games  is the goal-scoring wolf, Zabivaka.

But the true animal ambassador this year, is the soothsayer/mouse-slayer/museum-dweller cat Achilles. He resides in the St. Petersburg museum and has been designated the official psychic. He predicts the victors by choosing between two bowls of treats with flags above them. Check him out in action here:

I have a prediction too - with all the picking left to do, Achilles is going to be packing on some pounds before the world cup ends! 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Biomimetics or biomimicry

Biophysics is not so much a subject matter as it is a point of view. It is an approach to problems of biological science utilizing the theory and technology of the physical sciences. Conversely, biophysics is also a biologist's approach to problems of physical science and engineering, although this aspect has largely been neglected.

— Otto Herbert Schmitt, In Appreciation, A Lifetime of Connections: Otto Herbert Schmitt, 1913 - 1998
Orange Tabby

And now, a brief history of humans stealing(mimicking) from cats

“Cat Eye” Road Reflectors
On a foggy night in 1933, Percy Shaw was driving home along a dangerous stretch of road with a perilous, sheer drop off on one side. Drivers knew where the edge of the road was when their headlights reflected off of tram tracks, but the tracks had been removed for repairs. As Shaw strained to see through the blackness, his headlights caught the eyes of a cat sitting on a fence. As he pondered the possibility of replicating how a cat’s eyes reflect light, an idea took shape to make dark and dangerous roads safer for drivers. Shaw began manufacturing reflective road markers in 1935. Today reflective “cat eye” road studs are incorporated in roads worldwide.

AC Current
Nikola Tesla began his career working with Thomas Edison, but they had a falling out over which was more affordable, efficient and safer, DC current or AC current. Edison thought direct current was better, and Tesla championed alternating current. Tesla was right, and we have him to thank for how electricity is used today. A family feline inspired Tesla to learn about electricity when he was a kid. One day while petting his cat, Tesla was zapped with static electricity. That incident put him on the path to becoming one of the world’s most revolutionary and forward thinking scientists.

Honorable mentions:

  •  Sensitive electronic (e-)whiskers pave the way for increased interaction between robots and their external environments.
  • Boston robotics:  The cheetah-cub robot was designed by Swiss scientists to move like a cat. 
  • Cats’ Tongues Are Inspiring Smarter Hairbrushes For Humans
  • Thumbtacks based on cats' retractable claws
You are welcome, people!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Another book recommendation, this one for adult kitties only

Funny, philosophical and very endearing, 'The Rabbi's cat' is delectable, enjoy! Again, PG-13 only.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Kedi ...aka Cat

Close on the heels of my post on cats in Istanbul was the 'you tube red' release of the Turkish movie Kedi.
It follows the lives of seven cats on the streets of the metropolis capturing beautiful glimpses of their daily lives and the people around them.

Can't wait to see this one!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Turkey Turkey Turkey

Time for a guest post again :(

♫♫♪ It’s Istanbul not Constantinople...nobody’s business but the Turks ♪♩

It is dusk and the call to prayer and to break fast resonates through the streets, the tummy rumbles one last time and a festive atmosphere unfolds all across the city. Unlike any other European city, Istanbul is the most unique blend of west and east. A melting pot of Islamic and Christian cultures, a city seethed in rich history, albeit some dark. I doubt few others cities can boast of as many names or identify with more influential empires (Roman/Byzantine/Ottoman).

I’ve never been more pleasantly surprised by a destination I was frankly a bit apprehensive about.
So much so, I’m led to write a nostalgic epilogue of our layover.The architecture, everyday objects like rugs and tea cups, the elaborate cuisine and the fashion are effusive of a regal identity that is distinctly Turkish. The Hagia Sophia, which was originally a church, then a mosque and then designated a museum by the visionary & founder of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk is iconic. It is widely regarded to have changed the course of architecture over time and is the model for the subsequent Süleymaniye Mosque and the famous Blue mosque. The Basilica Cistern, the Topkapi palace are but a few sights to behold the impressive grandeur of yesteryear architecture.

Equally impressive, the Turkish cuisine. To eat a full meal here is to indulge in a feast for all the senses for an outsider. Walk down the alleys of old city and treat yourself to delightfully spiced corn on the cob, roasted chestnuts , freshly squeezed pomegranate juice or the curiously sticky but yummy dondurma (ice cream). For an authentic meal, venture into the Fatih district and hang with the locals. No better time than Ramzan to visit this area. The desserts are to die for - rich, rich, rich. Did I mention everything here transports you to another time and you end up feeling like a Sultan or ponder if they had it better!

To EU or not to EU: Over some Turkish raki, we did attempt to solve that conundrum. What once seemed like a sincere conversation, it’s off the table and a remote impossibility now. Whether it was insurmountable religious differences or the thought of bordering the most volatile region on earth  that was the barrier, it is tempting to think what if Turkey was a part of the EU - would there even be a migrant crisis today. Would neighboring Syria be in ruins. Or on a trivial note, in the mere interest of food, are they better off not being policed by the EU and being homogenized. In the end, what do I know. I’m just a dazed tourist who got off the plane for a meal, take in a few sights and take bath. Yes, no ordinary bath but indulge in a royal Turkish bath! There are several bath houses, some dating to the 15th century, sweat on the marble sauna, get scrubbed and massaged and you let go of any political opinions or inhibitions :)

And oh, the best part.. there's cats everywhere you turn. Cats galore!


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The cat man of Aleppo

Meow ..meow..meow
I cry out, search for my family, my human family
Meow ..meow..meow
I cry out, search in the rubble for home
At least what used to be home

I search in the nooks and crannies of my brain for images
Images of me cuddling and purring in happier times
The rumble in the tummy doesn't hurt
It's my head that hurts, there's no more images..no more memories
I start to cry

I will never play hide n seek with my sister,
Never again chase my mother's tail
All I have left is a sad tale
Of what once was beautiful Aleppo

- Unnamed Kitten from Aleppo

'Cat man of Aleppo' stays in Syria to look after pets left behind

Amidst the ruin and misery that has come to symbolize Aleppo in the minds of millions around the globe, rises an angel. A story of an incredible human being who stayed behind to offer comfort and a lifeline to cats left behind by people who fled or orphaned by the tragedy that has taken so many lives - human and feline. Mohammad Aljaleel is the man who has taken it upon himself to feed and nurture more than a hundred cats and kittens. Read more at this link: