CatSynth Video: Nemo and Modular

Nemo the cat plays a modular synth via Novation and Arturia controllers 😺🎛.  From Stefano Girola (@squarewaves) on Instagram.

Wordless Wednesday: San Francisco Under Smoke

Eerie light in San Francisco at sunset this Saturday as the city was engulfed in thick smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County.

CatSynth Pic: Gracie and Vintage Synths (Oberheim, PPG, DK Synergy)

Gracie returns with an impressive collection of vintage synths, including multiple Oberheim modules, a PPG Wave, and a Synergy.  

From Alsún Ní Chasaide (Alison Cassidy) on Facebook.

How does she even get up there??

You can see Gracie’s many appearances on CatSynth via this link.

CatSynth Pic: Black Cat on a Keyboard

This cute black cat has found a nice place to sit on top of a keyboard and sheltered by another.  From Michael Mercier via Facebook.

Identification of the keyboards left as an exercise to the reader 😺🎹

Military Cats on Veterans Day

On this Veterans Day, we salute some of the cats who have served in their countries armed forces. 

First up is Able Seacat Simon,

Simon has the distinction of being the only cat awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal after being wounded during a battle on the Yangtze River.  From his Wikipedia page:

The badly wounded cat crawled on deck, and was rushed to the medical bay, where the ship’s surviving medical staff cleaned his burns, and removed four pieces of shrapnel, but he was not expected to last the night. He managed to survive, however, and after a period of recovery, returned to his former duties in spite of the indifference he faced from the new captain Lieutenant Commander John Kerans. While anchored in the river, the ship had become overrun with rats, and Simon took on the task of removing them with vigour, as well as raising the morale of the sailors.

When Simon died in 1949 he was buried with full military honors and lies in PDSA Animal Cemetery in Ilford.

Cats in the military have most often been ship cats, who have perform the practical function of ridding the ships of rodents and other potential pests, as well as boosting the crew’s morale.  You can find many examples in this post from the Naval History Blog

“War Veteran – ‘Pooli’, who rates three service ribbons and four battle stars, shows she can still get into her old uniform as she prepares to celebrate her 15th birthday. The cat served aboard an attack transport during World War II.” Los Angeles, 1959.

Cats have also served on land.  Pfc Hammer served with an Army unit in Iraq in 2004.  

The cat, dubbed Pfc. Hammer, experienced the war right alongside the soldiers. He jumped at the sound of nearby gunfire and unexpected explosions when they did. He would always take the soldiers’ minds off of the war at just the right time.


During a mortar attack on the unit Hammer ran to the bunker with everyone else. The nearest soldier picked up the cat and tucked the feline inside his body armor for safe keeping until the attack was over.

http://petslady.com/articles/hammer_time_cat_iraq_62910

In the true spirit of “no soldier left behind”, the unit made sure that Hammer was able to come back to the U.S. with them.  With the help of  Alley Cat Allies and Military Mascots, he was relocated stateside and no lives with fellow veteran Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield and his family.

If you have stories of cats who have served in war, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: Sheltering from #CaliforniaFires

California is on fire.  To our south, the area northwest of Los Angeles that I remember fondly from past visits in on fire, including Malibu and Thousand Oaks.  To our north, the devastating Camp Fire has laid waste to much of the town of Paradise, is threatening Chico, and is among the smokiest I have ever experienced.  If anything the air quality in San Francisco is even worse than it was during last year’s wine-country fires, which were much closer.

We’re mostly hiding indoors during this time, at least as much as we can.  Even just opening the patio door for a minute left my eyes watering and nose as if I was just breathing straight out of a charcoal grill.   Yesterday, Sam Sam seemed quite distressed as the particulates seeped into HQ (mostly from the main hallway).  Today is slightly better, and she is more like her normal goofy self, including showing off her scratch’n’roll.

But she still is finding places to hide – if I can smell the smoke, I can only imagine it’s much more intense for her.  Yesterday, before I left for work, she jumped up on my chest and snuggled in, wanting me to stay and be close.  I had to go, but came home as soon as I could after my in-office responsibilities were done.

We do also worry about our pal Marlon in Oakland, who spends much of his time outside.

The light from the smoky skies is stunningly beautiful.  It’s amazing how such beauty can arise from something as awful as this.

But in all, we need to put our challenges in perspective.  I can’t imagine the horror and pain people in the fire zones are going through, losing their homes, fearing for their loved ones, and of course their companion animals.  The messages I see from people searching for their missing cats, or the heartbreak of not being able to rush home to rescue them, is painful and our hearts go out to them.  Other animals, too, of course, as we hear about horses, dogs, and birds.  

Both north and south zones have evacuation shelters for those who have small or large animals.  In the north, Butte County has set up a line for those who either find and are searching for lost pets in coordination with North Valley Animal Disaster Group.

NVADG is active both in trying to locate and rescue lost pets, as well as running multiple shelters for those with animals.  From their website:

NVADG is providing emergency animal sheltering and where and when allowed will evacuate and/or care for animals in evacuation areas.  
Animal shelters will be established at:


Small Animal Shelter: 2279 Del Oro Avenue, Oroville.  Off Nelson near the County Center and Highway 70.

Small Animal Shelter 150 Airpark Dr, Chico at the Chico Airport
Large Animals should be taken to the Rolling Hills Casino Equestrian Center off Highway 5 in Corning

If you want to donate to NVADG, please consider a cash donation. It gives us the flexibility we need and we will definitely need it!  Donate on our website or send a check to NVADG, PO Box 441, Chico, CA  95927. 

We certainly hope all the fires around our home state are brought under control soon, and the air returns to normal as well.  Then the hard work of rebuilding begins…

CatSynth Video: Electrofunk Cat (Shadow Justice Crew)

Cute cat with a modular system featuring Bug Brand and Serge-inspired modules.  From Shadow Justice Crew on Instagram.

CatSynth Pics: Mr. Maximillion in the House

Some recent pictures of our pal Mr. Maximillion in his studio.  Looks like found a great spot for relaxing and supervising.

He is quite the handsome fellow.

Photos courtesy of his human, Charles Whiley.   Mr. Maximillion’s extensive synth collection isn’t really visible in these photos, but you can see more if it in some his previous pics and videos.

Post-Election Thoughts and Getting Back to Normal Life

We at CatSynth are political nerds/enthusiasts, and also believe in civic participation for the greater good.  So elections are always an exciting time.  Yesterday was no exception as we transitioned from our daily routine to preparing to host friends to watch the returns.  There was an electricity in the air that went beyond our unseasonably warm weather.  I took a brief break to rest and meditate before jumping in to watching coverage and interacting on Twitter.  So did Sam Sam.

In the end, it was like a normal election.  Some important things went very well – like the takeover of the House.  Some things didn’t.  The Senate results imply more trouble for the judiciary, often the most important thing.  A few results were heartbreaking, like Beto O’Rourke losing in a close race to the exceptionally odious Ted Cruz in Texas, but I took solace in some other defaults, notably almost as odious Scott Walker, Kris Kobach, Dana Rohrabacher (from Orange County here in California).  I even take a bit of perverse pleasure in watching the infamous Kim Davis go down to defeat. My home state of New York seems as dysfunctional as ever, but perhaps with a better chance to clean things up than they have had in a while.

The day after, one reflects on the mix of results and moves on with life.  It’s another exceptionally warm, sunny day for November in San Francisco, and I’m eager to get back to cats, synthesizers, music, and art.  It’s a far cry from the day after the 2016 election when it truly felt like it could have been our last.  I was working in an office on Market Street, with US flags fluttering on tops and sides of many buildings – it was tragic, heartbreaking, fearful, by far the worst I had experienced in my lifetime.  And it was just days after Luna left us, so the experience was even darker and devoid the comfort of my beloved cat.  This time I woke up much happier, as there was more good news awaiting than when I went to bed the previous night.  And Sam Sam was there to jump on the bed and remind me that it was time to get up and feed her.  There is much unfinished business on all fronts, but that’s ok.  Overall, it feels a bit more hopeful, a bit more optimistic.

Before we move back to our regularly scheduled topics, a few quick thoughts…

  • Close to home, I was happy to see that San Francisco’s Prop E – funding for arts – passed.  This is great news for organizations that I am involved with, whether as a board member, artist, audience member, or reviewer.
  • The people of Massachusetts affirmed the rights of trans people and other gender minorities in a ballot proposition.  It’s great to see support at the ballot box, but it should have never been there in the first place.  California’s Prop 8 (2008) may seem like ancient history, but the memory is still pretty raw…
  • If anything, the rural/metropolitan-area divide seems starker than ever.  We at CatSynth are city creatures, but also love many aspects of rural America, and it’s sad to see that division get even worse.  That’s one I would like to write more about, but with a little distance from political events.
  • Another is the continued push-and-shove around “nationalism”.  For me, it’s an unequivocally dirty word, and it’s frustrating to see centrists offering bromides to nationalism even as its most sinister aspects are ascendant at home and around the world.  I still believe in cosmopolitanism and the idea of an “anti-nation”.  But this is another topic that requires careful thought for a future article.

CatSynth Pic: Trix

Meet Trix, who has quite a collection of modular and other synthesizers.  By PJay Nyex via Facebook.

Identification of the synths left as an exercise to the reader 😺🎹