Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: The Departure and the Coat

Early Saturday morning, I embarked on another trip to New York. As it is late November, this trip requires a winter coat. While it was sitting out, Sam Sam came over to investigate.

She was fascinated by the wool coat and immediately started purring up a storm and kneading.

The soft woolen surface clearly brought out some kitten instinct in her. While Luna used to purr and knead soft things frequently, I haven’t seen Sam Sam do that as much, and not to the degree she did in the presence of this coat.

One of the hardest parts of leaving on a trip is leaving my cat. Fortunately, we know that Sam Sam is good hands, being lovingly looked after at CatSynth HQ (and probably spoiled rotten). I look forward to reuniting with her in a little over a week.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam

Here is Sam Sam being silly with her favorite toy.

Sam Sam and sock toy

We see her in this pose a lot, with or without the sock.

She parades around CatSynth HQ like she owns the place.

Sam Sam walking

(She may not be the owner according to the City and County of San Francisco, but she is the queen of the house.)

“Ready for my close-up!”

Sam Sam close-up

And now, for a nap…

Sam Sam napping

It’s good to be the cat. 😺

Yom Kippur 2017, Meditations and Reflections

Star of David

Fast, reflect, and question. These are our personal mandates on Yom Kippur this 5778 (2017). Fasting is pretty self-explanatory – I don’t do it every year, but this year it feels important to do so. Sam Sam does not have to fast. The questioning centers around “what does it mean to be Jewish in this time and place”, an especially complicated and treacherous question for those of us who are secular Jews. Yom Kippur is described in Leviticus, the one book of the Torah that I have not been able to get through in its entirety (mostly because it’s extremely dense and about as riveting as the phone book). But I still celebrate independent of that, based on heritage and family tradition. You are a Jew if your mother is a Jew, end of story. I extend this rule to my cats.

Sam Sam enjoys a snack on Yom Kippur
[Sam Sam is exempt from fasting]

For an excellent read on the topic of secular Jews on Yom Kippur, especially secular Jews committed to activism and social justice, please read this article by Dania Rajendra [Full disclosure: Dania is my sister-in-law.]. For me, part of my plan for this holiday was to compose a track based on sounds from a short-wave-radio synth module an, idea I formulated during a reflective moment last night.


[Cover image taken during Yom Kippur 2016, see this article.]

The track was recorded as a meditation of sorts, getting into a heightened, focused state while turning the knobs of the Eowave short-wave module, tuning into stations that aren’t there. The other “master” of the track was the Wiard/Richter Noisering, which I let control the Rossum Electro-Music Morpheus module. Both focus on chance and working with elements very much outside my control. I also did not want to spend much time outside the meditation-recording process itself. There is no editing save for some tapering at the beginning and end of the track and the obligatory EQ and compression.

I am both doing too much, and too little at the same time. I can’t save all the shelter cats; I can help everyone suffering through one disaster after another in North America and Carribean. But I can try to make a little bit of a difference in each. When I focus on all things “CatSynth”, sometimes my music suffers – I’m overdue booking new gigs for my band CDP and I do feel a need to atone for that. In short, the challenge in 5778 and beyond is to find a way of doing all the things that matter most while minimizing time and resources on the things that don’t. No easy task for someone who tends to say “yes” to everything, hates to disappoint others, and has a difficult time letting go of things. But that last one is another aspect of this holiday, and so it is as good a time to begin as any…

Sam Sam, The Sunset, and San Francisco

I-280The geography of San Francisco is complicated, and the east and west sections of the city can sometimes seem quite divided. This is even more so when one is transporting a cat across the city, as I did on Thursday to bring Sam Sam from CatSynth HQ in the downtown area to our longtime vets at Especially Cats Veterinary Hospital in the western Sunset District. There are several tall hills in between, and the most efficient route is to hop on I-280 around the southern portion of the city and then up into the Sunset.

CA 35 The Sunset is an interesting and intriguing place, almost a separate city. From 19th Avenue (CA 1), the alphabetically arranged streets and numerically arranged avenues slope gently down towards the Great Highway and the ocean. The Great Highway should be CA 35 all the way up to its northern end, rather than ending in the southern corner of the city along Sloat, but it does. Especially Cats is on Taraval Street, one of the main east-west strips in the neighborhood.  It even boasts a streetcar line down to the sea.

Taraval Street

Sam Sam with sockThis photo was from 2015 when I brought Luna in for her biopsy. It was a normal overcast gray summer day in the Sunset. Sam Sam’s visit was on a hazy sunny and warm day at the start of the current heatwave. The return to Especially Cats was a warm experience as well, albeit a bit emotional as it was our first reunion since Luna passed away. Fortunately, Sam Sam received a clean bill of health and charmed the staff with her cuteness. And she was remarkably well behaved on the trip over, just complaining a little bit. We decided to take the more geometrically direct but hilly and windy route back, taking Taraval to its eastern end a swanky neighborhood around Laguna Honda, and then over Portola and Market back to our corner of the city. The spot where Market and Portola meet is among my favorite in the city, with commanding views of downtown and beyond. And in between, there are dips and valley with unexplored roads and walks that I need to come back to when I don’t have an impatient cat in a carrier.

Elizabeth Street, San Francisco

The whole of the city used to be mine, as I regularly moved from neighborhood to neighborhood for work, fun, or errands. Downtown San Francisco can be a bit of a gravity well when one both works and lives there. It’s a fine situation, in truth, but I can sometimes get a bit restless to move about rest of the city again. Especially some of the older sections, or the more industrial spaces that formed the backbone of my visual art (and “Wordless Wednesday”) but are rapidly disappearing. When will the last dilapidated warehouse give way to a banal medium-rise apartment building?

Finding this balance, doing all we want to do, and have to do, is perhaps this moment’s biggest challenge. But on this day I was happy to simply do right by a loved one while exercising a bit of the wanderlust.

Please check out our Highway☆ app, available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store!

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: ¡Que Calor!

It is hot here in San Francisco. In fact, yesterday was the hottest day on record in nearly 150 years. From The Examiner;

Hours after this post was originally written, a new downtown San Francisco temperature record was set at 106 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

I love heat. Indeed, my ideal temperature is higher than some friends and colleagues’ comfort zones. But this is too hot for even me. Which means it’s a bit unbearable for poor Sam Sam.

Sam Sam in the shade

She has been strategically lying in spots that are shaded, as in the photo above where she is lying underneath a small table and a mounted crash cymbal. She does love her sunshine, though, so keeps going back to the window to bask for a few minutes.

As the temperature continues to climb inside of CatSynth HQ, I have also set up space with a towel and cold pack for her.

Sam Sam resting with a cold pack

The heatwave is expected to diminish a bit tomorrow. In the meantime, I suspect we are going to be taking it easy for the remainder of the afternoon.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: Swat!

Sam Sam loves being brushed. She also enjoys boxing. Sometimes the two activities come together when she plays “Swat!” with her hairbrush.

Sam Sam swat

Sam Sam is a more rough-and-tumble cat than Luna and the swat game is part of her unique style of play. You can see a bit of her in action in these “Live Photos” from our iPhone and iPad.

For those who may be wondering about the “Motion Stills” stamp on those videos, it is an iOS app made by Google to export Live Photos from your iPhone or iPad to video platforms like YouTube, Instagram, etc.

CatSynth 11th Blog Anniversary

Luna on iPad at 11:11

It’s been 11 years since we started CatSynth on a bit of a lark, and since then it has grown into something that we treasure, and quite seriously. But not too seriously. As always, we mark the annual milestone with a few stats.

3210 Posts
14358 Comments
4.47 Comments Per Post
1202 Cat-and-synth pics
474 Reviews and related posts

Comments and interaction on the blog has continued to decline (from an average of 4.7 to 4.47 comments per post). This is not surprising as interaction has largely moved to social media platforms.

Our most visited post this last year was our Sad Farewell to Luna, both on the blog itself and on social media. This, too, is not surprising, and we continue to be very grateful for the outpouring of emotional support we have received.

Other individual posts that were widely read and shared including our explainer on Lake Oroville, our review of James Chance and the Contortions in San Francisco, and of course our annual NAMM coverage.

Every year we share the photo that started it all on July 19, 2006. It featured Luna in the beanbag chair along with a Novation keyboard. We feel its still appropriate for this day.

Luna with Novation Keyboard

We continue to grieve for Luna, but we also welcome Sam Sam who we hope with be with us and featured on these pages for years to come.

Emphatic Sam Sam

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: Relaxing for Pride

It’s Pride Weekend here in San Francisco 🏳️‍🌈. But since we have a busy several days, indeed a busy month, we are taking a bit of time this Sunday afternoon to relax. It’s also a great opportunity to play with Sam Sam. Here are some recent photos of our playful and funny feline companion.

Sam Sam can be quite expressive, even a bit sassy, when she wants something. She loves attention, food, getting brushed, and playing. She is always asking for attention and play.

Even when others in CatSynth HQ are trying to work.

The astute observer will see graphics for our various mobile apps on the screen, as well as a photo of Luna.


As it is Pride, here is an obligatory rainbow filter on that first photo of Sam Sam (which is one of my favorites).

We hope you all are having a nice weekend, wherever you are and whatever you celebrate.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: Relaxing and Talking

It’s been a little while since we last checked in with Sam Sam. But this lovely Sunday morning seems like a fine time to do so. It’s a good day for just stretching out and relaxing.

Sam Sam relaxing

Or for sitting on a window sill with filtered light.

It’s good to be a house cat.

Sam Sam is quite talkative, as all of my cats have been. It’s probably because I talk to them all the time, too. In this video you can hear a bit of her voice, as well as her loud purr.

This video only shows a small example of her vocal range – it is quite a challenge to get her to talk on cue, especially with her tendency to poke her nose into anything and everything.

It’s good to be a house cat.