My new kitten and her Very Bad Habit(s)

Part 2

She chewed through my phone cord, so I’ve been without internet all day. I finally borrowed a phone cord from the neighbor.

She runs at the desk chair and takes a flying leap at the back of it, then proceeds to spin around in circles.

She has stopped sucking my ear, but now she likes to wake me up by licking my lips.

She sits on my head.

She chases toes.

She aggressively tries to steal pieces of pepperoni from my pizza.

She comes running whenever she hears water running, then tries to stick her face in the faucet. She watches me take showers, then sits in the drain to watch the water go away.

She got ahold of my headphones while they were still attached to the iPod, and was dragging them through the house.

She chewed through my fucking phone cord!

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40 Responses

  1. SoE
    SoE January 12, 2008 at 10:25 pm |

    She comes running whenever she hears water running, then tries to stick her face in the faucet. She watches me take showers, then sits in the drain to watch the water go away.

    Pur cats did that, too, when they were little. Only one of them has kept the habit, though. He also likes to get on the desk and either walk between the monitor and the computer user so said person cannot see anything or just lay down on the keyboard so one cannot use that anymore. Every time I visit my family I have to clean it because there is so much cat hair stuck between the letters.

    But none has ever chewed any cables. Hooray.

  2. SoE
    SoE January 12, 2008 at 10:26 pm |

    That was supposed to read Our cats but purr cats could also make some sense ^^ It’s probably too late for me…

  3. Deadbee (Daily Kos)
    Deadbee (Daily Kos) January 12, 2008 at 10:27 pm |

    14. Seems mighty chummy with the dog all of a sudden.
    13. Unexplained calls to F. Lee Bailey’s 900 number on your bill.
    12. You find a stash of “Feline of Fortune” magazines behind the couch.
    11. Cyanide pawprints all over the house.
    10. You wake up to find a bird’s head in your bed.
    9. As the wind blows over the grassy knoll in downtown Dallas, you get a faint whiff of catnip.
    8. Droppings in litter box spell out “REDRUM.”
    7. Takes attentive notes every time “Itchy and Scratchy” are on.
    6. You find blueprints for a Rube Goldberg device that starts with a mouse chased into a hole and ends with flaming oil dumped on your bed.
    5. Has taken a sudden interest in the wood chipper.
    4. Instead of dead birds, leaves cartons of Marlboros on your doorstep.
    3. Ball of yarn playfully tied into a hangman’s noose.
    2. You find a piece of paper labeled “MY WIL” that reads “LEEV AWL 2 KAT.”
    1. Now sharpens claws on your car’s brake lines.

    14. Seems mighty chummy with the dog all of a sudden.
    13. Unexplained calls to F. Lee Bailey’s 900 number on your bill.
    12. You find a stash of “Feline of Fortune” magazines behind the couch.
    11. Cyanide pawprints all over the house.
    10. You wake up to find a bird’s head in your bed.
    9. As the wind blows over the grassy knoll in downtown Dallas, you get a faint whiff of catnip.
    8. Droppings in litter box spell out “REDRUM.”
    7. Takes attentive notes every time “Itchy and Scratchy” are on.
    6. You find blueprints for a Rube Goldberg device that starts with a mouse chased into a hole and ends with flaming oil dumped on your bed.
    5. Has taken a sudden interest in the wood chipper.
    4. Instead of dead birds, leaves cartons of Marlboros on your doorstep.
    3. Ball of yarn playfully tied into a hangman’s noose.
    2. You find a piece of paper labeled “MY WIL” that reads “LEEV AWL 2 KAT.”
    1. Now sharpens claws on your car’s brake lines.

  4. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne January 12, 2008 at 10:30 pm |

    The chewing through cords is bad. You’ll need to break her of it or you may have an electrocuted kitty one day, which is really bad. That bitter apple stuff you get at the pet store might work, or just a lot of “no!” and switching the cord out with a toy.

    She may be bored and need some additional playtime — our cats’ favorite toy of all time is Ye Olde Wadded-Up Paper Towel. They will fetch it (yes, pick it up and bring it back to us to be thrown again) and our older cat loves to have us throw it in the air so he can amaze us with his athletic leaps.

    As far as her aggressively trying to eat your food, you have to consistently hold her back. For the first couple of weeks, I would have to physically push Annie away with one hand and eat with the other. By being 100% consistent and keeping a firm wall between people food and cat food, she’s finally given up.

  5. louise
    louise January 12, 2008 at 10:34 pm |

    With every kitten or cat I’ve ever had, nailing them with a squirt gun and yelling, “No!” was what worked. Nothing else. But it did always work…

  6. LindaH
    LindaH January 12, 2008 at 10:51 pm |

    Oh, kittens are so cute and SO MUCH TROUBLE. I agree, you have to find a way to stop the cord chewing, or one day you will find a lot of non functioning appliances and a dead kitty. Fortunately they do grow up and settle down. Have fun!

  7. Red
    Red January 12, 2008 at 11:04 pm |

    My kitten is crazy, as well…except for when I am sitting on the toilet. When she hears me walking to the bathroom, she tears inside before the door closes, then stretches like it’s the end of a long day. After she’s all done stretching, she begins purring, then jumps in my lap and curls in a tiny ball and immediately falls asleep.

    This all happens in the time span of about thirty seconds, and she’s always confused when I have to push her off right after she’s fallen asleep.

    It’s cute in an odd, I-feel-slightly-dirty way.

  8. Aerik
    Aerik January 12, 2008 at 11:58 pm |

    Sounds to me like you’ve got yourself a Sparta! (cute kitty music video inside)

  9. Cola Johnson
    Cola Johnson January 13, 2008 at 12:58 am |

    I miss kittens! I am glad, however, that mine turned into a doughy, mild cat who loves attention but minds his manners. ;p

    Louise: Cans filled pennies work, too. Squirting them and shouting “no” can sometimes make them associate you with punishment. The pennies neither sound like you, nor do they seem as strongly associated with you.

    With Casper, he’s terrified of plastic bags for some reason. It must have happened before he came to me, though, because he’s always been that way. I find if he’s misbehaving, shaking a plastic grocery bag sends him scurrying under the bed.

  10. Cola Johnson
    Cola Johnson January 13, 2008 at 1:00 am |

    *Shaking cans filled with pennies works too.

    I don’t know what came over me.

    Read Catspeak, by Bash Dibra. He talks a lot about problem cats.

  11. Aeryl
    Aeryl January 13, 2008 at 1:23 am |

    Hard plastic sheaths to bundle your cords in, would be my suggestion.

    My stepfather has two cats(that he got from my cat) that still chew on cords, at 2 yrs. Spraying water at electrical cords is always a bad idea, and the smelly stuff never affected them(they are of a breed that has a bad sense of smell).

    We have three cats, and one of those once had a litter of six. I know all about the hyper kitteh syndrome. Unfortunately, after they go through their lovable, if accidently painful, kitten stage, to moody adolescent phase.

    Mine just now, came up and poked me in the arm, as she always does when she feels neglected when I’m online. Have fun!!

  12. Melody
    Melody January 13, 2008 at 1:39 am |

    Let me digress and add that I have a brand new puppy causing some similar trouble. She chases toes and likes to chew on sleeves, and earlier I caught her chewing on my computer power cord… good luck with the kitten!

  13. Jaime Duhe
    Jaime Duhe January 13, 2008 at 2:06 am |

    I’m going to have to sympathize with Melody on the puppy troubles. I have a 10 month old cairn terrier that manages to get herself into trouble on an average of about once per hour. I’m glad she still sleeps quite a bit. The puppy eats coins, cords, pens, socks, ear plugs, cell phones, acorns, and many other things we probably haven’t discovered yet. She also bosses around our other dogs (including our 120 lbs lab), shreds my father’s Reader’s Digests under the bed where she can’t be reached, jumps in the dishwasher to lick food of the plates and generally perpetuates a reign of terror around the household. She thinks the spray bottle thing is great fun, so I’ll have to try the can full of pennies. Though she does rather like pennies as well.

    Madame puppy also has this rather unfortunate curl of hair that protrudes from between her eyes which has lead to the nickname “the girl with the curl.” Good thing I love her to death!

  14. brandann
    brandann January 13, 2008 at 3:22 am |

    the squirt bottle works unless your cat likes water, which yours seems to, so you should try adding a small big of vinegar…it won’t hurt them, but the smell irritates them and they will spend the rest of the day grooming…as long as you don’t mind a pickle scented cat…but i had one that LOVED the shower and water and thought the squirt bottle was a ton of fun…but the vinegar worked…

  15. EoL
    EoL January 13, 2008 at 7:29 am |

    There’s just something about cats and water. If I didn’t close the bathroom door all the way and was “using the facilities” there would be a troop of cats in and out, onto my lap (oh, thanks), into the tub, around the tub, three cats in the tub, one in my laundry basket … etc. When I would take a shower, same situation except I’d have one or more cats waiting patiently outside the tub for me to finish, SCARING THE CRAP OUT OF ME when I pulled back the curtain. It stopped scaring me when I started expecting it.

    Cardboard boxes. The cats chew them to pieces, sleep in them, play “stealth kitty” in them … and paper grocery sacks. Those are almost as good, but not so good for chewing to bits. Anything made out of real fur (if you don’t object) also seems to work well. Our cats love the little mice made out of rabbit. (Of course, they like REAL dead things even more … won’t talk about the various pieces of squirrel we’ve had appear on the porch.)

    I never figured out the food thing. We had to contain the cats in another room or make sure they were all outside before eating. If I was preparing raw chicken, I had an audience, and if I had lunch on the table, there were usually a couple of cats on the table trying to get my lunch while another did something to distract me. And being bad, I often shared with the cats … things that kitties maybe shouldn’t eat. For example, bits of french fries. One cat seriously loved Doritos. But the french fry thing stemmed from that if she was eating french fries, she wasn’t jumping on my lap and trying to steal things. And after one or two fry nubs, she’d start playing with one, batting it around on the couch, and I could eat in peace. Throwing something to the other side of the room might also work. Ping pong balls are good for this. Get a set in a color the cat can see (some colors are more visible to them than others) well and keep a few nearby when you eat.

    I was living in a household with five cats. So those are my ideas. But I haven’t been home in a while, so I don’t totally remember what I did. Some things you just have to deal with, unfortunately. Like your face/stomach/foot being slept on. Or your computer being used as a bed. (Do you have a laptop? Has your kitten developed a magnetic attraction to the keyboard? My laptop might as well have been a cat bed.)

  16. Craig R.
    Craig R. January 13, 2008 at 8:56 am |

    There’s a sort of little felt mouse filled with catnip, with a tail. The tail appears to be important in cat-attractiveness. I don’t know who makes them, but your local pet-supply place probably has ‘em. Cats really get into these, throwing them around until they burst and leave a felt mouse skin and a pile of nip.
    For some reason, the lids from gallon milk jugs and the plastic strip you pull off to open them are cat magnets around here; those might keep your kitten occupied, wear her out a little (hah). These need caution if one’s cat might swallow what it’s playing with, but we’ve never had a problem.
    As to the cords, sometimes it’s where the cord is or what it’s doing that’s attractive, not the cord itself – some cats go for dangling stuff, some for stuff that’s lying across the floor (kill the snake! Yarrrrrr!). It may be possible to make the cords seem uninteresting (was this the cord that attaches the phone to the jack? You can get channels to run it through or tack thingies to tack it along the baseboard, or there is always duct tape if it runs along the carpet). This does require playing kitty psychologist, the one advantage of which is that it has never been difficult to get a cat to lie down on a couch.

  17. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom January 13, 2008 at 11:26 am |

    Ah, that Craig R. comment is me. Was not paying attention this morning due to sleep deprivation due to vomiting child; Craig had to get up every few hours to deal with vomit and, dammit, I woke up every time.

  18. Icewyche
    Icewyche January 13, 2008 at 12:00 pm |

    She runs at the desk chair and takes a flying leap at the back of it, then proceeds to spin around in circles.

    Awwwwww! The visual image I’m getting from that is going to keep me giggling for hours.

  19. Tara
    Tara January 13, 2008 at 1:26 pm |

    Someone may’ve already said this, I haven’t got time to read the comments. You might buy some thick aquarium tubing/some other kind of tubing and run your cords through that until you get her trained not to chew on them. It’s what people do for rabbits, so I think it would work for kittens, too.

  20. v01beta
    v01beta January 13, 2008 at 2:44 pm |

    Disclaimer: the following has been written by an otherwise well-meaning reader whose first language is not english. Continue reading at your own risk of getting bored/puzzled by mysterious grammar and cryptic meaning.

    How about teaching her how boring chewing wires and cords is compared to… chasing a knot at the end of a piece of string? You don’t have to bother her, punish her, deafen her or traumatize her in any way, or invest in an array of toys to change her behaviour, just lead her to something fun. By getting her attention away from the innocent phone cord, you also get to keep your relationship with your cat intact (you know, she will undestand that you’d rather spray vinegar on her than play with her for a few minutes, for some human reason, and that must seem so out-of-this world for a kitten, furthermore, even I, naive and primal as I am, would grow suspicious of anyone chasing me with vinegar of any other condiment, whatever the given reason, especially if the one chasing me belongs to another species… ). In my life, many pets have crossed my path, and I must say sharing everyday life with a never-punished or never-scared-away pet with good hearing is great, for some reason… Also, my cute little evil super-kitten used to chew cords too, and I was scared someday she’d try her teeth on something more dangerous than earphones, but, after a lifetime of gently handling and playing with little kitten from hell, she has found a way to come to and ask me to play with her, same thing with the newly arrived cat (he came up with his own way of asking for play-time after a couple months), and they get their daily dose of “chase the string with me” everynight (I’m an active participant)…. works great, builds up cats’ sel-esteem and my own tolerance to ridicule of self…

    Oh, want to know how evil my so-cute-you’d-eat-her-raw kitten from the pit of the underworld used to be? She’d sit on the bathroom sink and wait for me to get out of the shower and would simply jump on my bare shoulders. And then she’d purr when I cried in pain.

  21. Bunny
    Bunny January 13, 2008 at 3:40 pm |

    Ah, my kittens were SO much trouble when we first got them. We’ve trained them in cat language- it’s so much easier!

    Cat does something naughty and potentially dangerous? Low, steady growl.
    Cat does something just plain naughty? Low growl with eye contact, hiss if they persist.
    Want Cat’s attention directed at a new toy/fly in the kitchen? Chattering noises.
    Cat hiding and making you worry it has escaped? Prrrting noise with a rising note on the end.

    After that we taught them a few human signals to man “come out and play” “come in from the garden, now” and “food”. Of course, we’ve had to teach them that we listen to them as well, which means we have to respond to their various coded noises for food, play, outside, attention, strokes, etc, every time. And damn do they get NEEDY!

    Oooh… orange or lemon juice on the wires might help- cats are supposed to hate the smell

    We growl the kitties away if they try to approach us when we’re eating, and tell them off as soon as they get that alert, big-eyes-ears-forward look that means “I’m after your food”, but we ALWAYS give them a treat from our plates when we’re finished, and take the treat out to the kitchen for them. That seems to help make sure we get meals in relative peace, now, since they’ve learned that they will get a snack if they’re good.

  22. Kitty
    Kitty January 13, 2008 at 3:58 pm |

    For some odd reason, my nickname makes me feel awkward in this thread. ^_^;

    And all y’all have made me miss my cats. We got a fourth over Christmas, bringing our total animal count to ten, our cat count to four, and my personal pet count to seven, yikes. Our new cat spent three days in the tree in our backyard, came down the day after Christmas, hid in my sister’s room for a few days, then came down to my room, claimed me as her person, and started to establish that she’s the new Alpha Cat instead of my oldest cat, Duke.

    She’s huge–she doesn’t fit in my lap. But when she wanted attention, she’d jump on my keyboard, wait for me to scoot away from my desk, then jump in my lap and curl up really really small so that if I kinda raised my feet six inches from the ground she’d mostly fit without falling out. Or she’d jump on my shoulder and just hang there. Literally, hang over my shoulder like Luna did to Usagi in Sailor Moon (anyone remember that show?). So adorable, and I miss all my pets, especially my cats, so much now that I’m back at college. :(

  23. anon
    anon January 13, 2008 at 4:19 pm |

    You need to film your cat spinning in circles in your chair!!

  24. Hector B.
    Hector B. January 13, 2008 at 4:35 pm |

    A friend of mine found the best way to entertain kitties — a bird feeder outside a window. She put a card table next to the kitchen window, and her kitties watch all day long.

    Bitter Apple tastes bad, so pets don’t want to chew whatever it’s on.

    We use a “bad can” on top of the bathroom step-on wastebasket, but we had to bungee down the lid of the kitchen trash can. Trying to open the lid makes the bad can fall off and make a bunch of noise, which is scary. The beauty of the bad can is that the pet does not associate it with you. But, if you can make a squirt gun seem like a force of nature and not something you’re doing, that will work.

    Put a piece of plexiglass wherever pets are scratching to get in/out, to save your woodwork.

    The catfishing thing a friend of mine has works, but you could make your own from a stick, a string, and a bit of fluff.

  25. Charlotte
    Charlotte January 13, 2008 at 5:29 pm |

    THE remedy for chewing through cords:

    tabasco.

    I’m not kidding. The vet actually suggested that. Works like a charm.

  26. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne January 13, 2008 at 6:09 pm |

    My kitten is crazy, as well…except for when I am sitting on the toilet.

    Our big boy Keaton used to do that, but then he became the 14 pounds of muscle that he is today and he literally does not fit in my lap anymore.

    G.’s lap is more generously sized, so Keaton will snuggle up there, and then I tease them both about him being a daddy’s boy.

    The tricky thing with the squirt bottle is that you can only do it when she’s not looking. Once she realizes you did it, the only thing she learns is, “Better not do that when she can see me.”

  27. charles
    charles January 13, 2008 at 6:13 pm |

    i’m very sorry for lauging hilariously at your kitten’s antics! (except the cord-chewing danger, i didn’t laugh then.) good luck!

  28. preying mantis
    preying mantis January 13, 2008 at 6:44 pm |

    My kitten has taken to headbutting the air a few inches away from my hand to let me know that she’s in the mood for petting, and that I have thirty seconds to comply before whatever I’m paying attention to instead gets knocked out of the way.

  29. Ledasmom
    Ledasmom January 13, 2008 at 7:20 pm |

    My cat has been my cat, by his choice, since we got him as a kitten.
    Slept on my pillow, was in my lap every time I sat down – including on the toilet, including the bout of cystitis I went through not long after we got him. Every hour, got out of bed, headed for the bathroom with a small blotchy kitten following me –
    Actually, a warm kitten on bare legs is quite a nice amenity on a chilly night. He is now sixteen and a half years old.

  30. Beth
    Beth January 13, 2008 at 9:08 pm |

    Actually, to the person who said that you should play with the cat with string. Yeah, that’s fine in theory. EXCEPT that if a cat plays with string without supervision they can swallow it and that can be extremely dangerous. It has the potential to get caught in their digestive system and then your cat will need surgery. This happened to my neighbor’s cat.

    Furthermore, using a little vinegar or lemon juice does not hurt the animal. It’s a non-violent way of disciplining an animal that you can’t sit down and reason with the way you can a human.

  31. Hector B.
    Hector B. January 13, 2008 at 10:15 pm |

    EXCEPT that if a cat plays with string without supervision they can swallow it and that can be extremely dangerous.

    Good to know string should be kept out of reach of kitties. My friend’s cat lived to be 17, so she apparently dodged a bullet — the toy was next to “her” chair in the living room at all times. The commercial version is some $23, which seems excessive:

    http://www.cattoys.com/catfisherrods.html

  32. Green SAHM
    Green SAHM January 13, 2008 at 11:31 pm |

    I had a cat one time find my grandmother’s sewing kit when my grandma was visiting. Saw thread and started playing. Thing was, the thread was on a needle, and the needle got stuck going the wrong way to be easily pulled out, although fortunately much of the thread was still out of her mouth.

    Grabbed the cat and tried to figure out how to get the needle out. Anyone who has ever tried to give a cat a pill knows how hard it is to do anything around the mouth. That this was painful made it all the worse, and we finally had to resort to trying to take her to the vet. Hand carried, of course, since we couldn’t risk her swallowing it all in the car.

    Naturally just as we walked out a neighbor walks up to see what the ruckus was about, and the cat ran off. By the time we caught her, no more needle.

    Took x-rays at the vet’s to make sure it had been pulled free, not swallowed. It could have been much worse than swallowing thread alone.

  33. bitchphd
    bitchphd January 14, 2008 at 2:05 am |

    She sounds adorable.

  34. Tara
    Tara January 14, 2008 at 7:26 am |

    the needle got stuck going the wrong way to be easily pulled out

    Never EVER EVER try to pull string out of a cat’s mouth if it’s stuck! The string can seriously damage the intestines if pulled. This should be considered an emergency situation to be seen by a vet always. Same goes if the string is hanging out of the other end of your cat – DO NOT PULL!

  35. v01beta
    v01beta January 14, 2008 at 10:37 am |

    Well, of course, you don’t leave your cat with something unedible “yo” can swallow. I usually trust people to be smart and wise… Well…. The string-to-kill that I so lovingly crafted has a big rubber thingy on one end so that the felines won’t be able to swallow it, and when I don’t play with Bidule, Sushi and Shadow, the other end of the string is securely tied somewhere for them to take swings at the whole thing, without them being able to try and eat it. Furthermore, in summer, the whole thing is permanently tied to a wooden stick, in the yard, so that I’m able to play with them in the garden in total laziness. If one of them swallows the whole apparatus, I promise I won’t try to pull on it. Now, since I’m on the 100 miles diet, lemon juice would be out of the question,…

  36. Bunny
    Bunny January 14, 2008 at 3:55 pm |

    Never EVER EVER try to pull string out of a cat’s mouth if it’s stuck! The string can seriously damage the intestines if pulled. This should be considered an emergency situation to be seen by a vet always. Same goes if the string is hanging out of the other end of your cat – DO NOT PULL!

    Damn…

    I have to admit to having pulled silk ribbon from the wrong end of one of my kitties once. I’d recently bought some bright purple ribbon to put in my hair, couldn’t find it, then found a mewly cat trying to ummm… rub her bottom on my carpet…

    Came out just fine, if exceedingly icky. I had no idea pulling it out could have harmed her! Will keep that in mind if she gets in my hair box again.

  37. Mhorag
    Mhorag January 14, 2008 at 6:01 pm |

    My sympathies! For many years, I had OLD cats (like 12, 13, 14, 15 years old cats), and I got used to the “furry pillow that purrs” stage. Now I have YOUNG cats, and I’m beginning to understand that harried look that mothers of teenagers have (I have no children of my own).

    I have given up on the idea of ever going to the bathroom unsupervised ever again. Momo (3-year buff tabby male) wants to be swatted along his spine with the plastic fly swatter, after which I must turn the bathroom faucet just a little bit so he can get a drink. Ichigo (not quite a year old, white with marmalade spots male) hops in the bathtub and attacks me through the shower curtain. Gypsy (2-year old brown tabby female w/brain damage from being dragged under a door by a Rottweiler when she was 6 months old [before I got her!!] and who’ll never be more than 6 months old in her head) crawls behind my legs and nests in my pants. Chad (6-month old grey tabby male) just sits in the doorway and chats – as in he mews and expects me to talk back. It’s never dull! :)

    Ichigo has discovered he can sit on the answering machine (it’s ancient – it still uses the little tapes!), which is really annoying at 2 AM because he leans on the little reset button, making it beep. Anything on a table, shelf, end-table, etc., is obviously supposed to be on the floor in his world, and he makes sure it happens! And then he chases Chad through the house. How 2 cats who together weigh less than 15 pounds can sound like a herd of elephants still floors me! Ichigo also likes to scoop a piece of dry cat food out of the dish and bat it around the floor – as though I haven’t gone broke buying him fuzzy mice, as well as dropping every milk ring on the floor!

    But I love ‘em all – especially when I had a cold over Christmas. I sat in my recliner with my feet up, all wrapped up in sweaters and a blanket. I had Ichigo and Chad sleeping between my knees, Momo curled up in my left arm and Gypsy curled up in my right – all of them purring like no tomorrow! Needless to say, it was so easy to fall asleep, even if I was miserable.

    Ahh, my babies …. :)

  38. Tara
    Tara January 14, 2008 at 10:31 pm |

    Bunny: It’s pretty common to just want to grab it and PULL. This can turn out just fine if the string is relatively short and comes out easily – no harm done. If that’s not the case, pulling can actually damage your cat’s digestive tract.

    Cat’s are adorable, but they sure are good at getting into trouble!

  39. Tara
    Tara January 14, 2008 at 10:33 pm |

    And of course I meant the plural of cat in that second sentence, not the possessive.

    It was a long day at the shelter. My brain has turned to mush.

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