Final cat update (promise)

Condi has used her litterbox – twice!

Mud is hissing at Condi and Maggie. Condi and Maggie are ignoring each other and Mud.

Maggie is still sneezing a lot.

Condi and Maggie slept under the bed last night and didn’t come out until this afternoon. They then took a recliner each and watched “The Pledge,” a creepy Jack Nicholson movie.

This is a picture of Condi after the movie.

I promise you that this will be the last cat article/picture until two of the three cats curl up together or rub noses.

More on the Elevator Incident

What do you call people like me? A ghoul? A rubbernecker? (bad choice of words, I suppose). It’s just that I seem to have a morbid fascination with the story about the doctor who had his head severed in the elevator. Over the past week there have been reports that he had a high alchohol level in his blood, and also that he tried to pry open the doors as the car was moving and attempted to step up into the elevator.

Of course, even if the above facts are true, all I can say is “So what?” That was a rogue elevator and the family will be compensated handsomely eventually.

Here’s this morning’s Houston Chronicle article. I’m pasting it here because they always disappear after 24 hours:

Aug. 30, 2003, 11:33PM
Report: Doctor’s actions disputed
Two witnesses differ over manner in which elevator accident occurred
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

The doctor killed in a freak elevator accident at a downtown hospital tried to hold the doors open with his arms and step up inside while the car was moving, says another doctor who saw the incident.

That claim — and other witnesses’ accounts of what happened at Christus St. Joseph Hospital when Dr. Hitoshi Nikaidoh, 35, was pinned between the doors of Elevator 14 as it began to ascend Aug. 16 — are included in a Houston Police Department report obtained Saturday by the Houston Chronicle.

A physician’s assistant on the elevator at the time was unable to find the emergency stop button before Nikaidoh was killed, the police report states. Karin Steinau, 46, of Bellaire, was trapped in the elevator for about an hour until firefighters rescued her. Part of Nikaidoh’s head was severed in the incident and was found inside the elevator car, the police report says.

Attorney Howard Nations, who is representing Nikaidoh’s family in a suit against the elevator’s manufacturer and the company hired to maintain it, said allegations that Nikaidoh tried to step into a moving elevator are unreliable.

Steinau — who has said the elevator doors closed on Nikaidoh, trapping him as he stepped through the doorway — is the best witness to accurately describe what happened, Nations said.

“She’s only a few feet from him,” Nations said. “She is the only person who can see both Hitoshi and the operation of the doors.”

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has requested a copy of the police report.

Hospital officials said they have not seen the police report and were not aware of conflicting witness statements.

“I personally am not aware of the eyewitness stories. We want all of those involved in the investigation to complete their reports so that we can better understand what happened,” hospital spokeswoman India Chumney Hancock said.

In addition to massive head injuries, an autopsy found that Nikaidoh suffered broken ribs and spinal injuries.

Though the autopsy report said Nikaidoh had a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 percent when he died — enough to be considered legally drunk under Texas law had he been driving — the police report does not mention alcohol or intoxication.

Nikaidoh’s family disputes the autopsy’s blood-alcohol findings and is seeking independent tests of his tissue and blood.

Nikaidoh was on the second floor of the hospital’s George Strake Building at 1919 La Branch when he tried to get on the elevator around 10 a.m. that day. Dr. Canaan Harris — also on the second floor, standing outside the elevator — told police he saw Nikaidoh try to get into the car.

Harris left the hospital the morning of the accident before police could talk to him. But during an audiotaped interview at his private practice two days later, Harris told police he saw Nikaidoh approach the elevator and put his arms out, apparently trying to hold the doors open.

As the elevator was moving upward, Harris told investigators, Nikaidoh “put his leg up and tried to get into the moving elevator,” the HPD report states.

This caused Nikaidoh to be trapped by the elevator as it ascended, Harris told police.

Harris, 54, declined comment for this story when reached at his Nassau Bay home Saturday.

Autopsy photos do not support Harris’ claims, Nations said, because Nikaidoh’s head suffered major trauma while his legs were unmarked.

“If he put his leg up onto a rising elevator, and the elevator continues to rise, how does he get his head caught between the doors instead of his leg?” Nations said.

A hospital employee told Nations that Nikaidoh, when he approached the elevator, opened his arms in a gesture of surprise.

“He put his arms out to the side, but he was expressing that, `A-ha! It’s working today!’ ” Nations said.

Nations said he received that information from an anonymous caller, whose statements are not in the police report.

Steinau, who was in the elevator when Nikaidoh tried to enter the car, told police the doors “closed on” Nikaidoh as he stepped through the doorway, trapping him.

Steinau told police a sign had been posted for several days before the accident, declaring that bank of elevators was out of service. But when she walked up to the elevator car the morning of Aug. 16, she didn’t see any such sign. She told police she noticed nothing unusual when the elevator car arrived on her floor. She got on and pushed the button for the sixth floor.

Steinau told police when she first turned around, she saw Nikaidoh approach the elevators, and as he stepped through the doorway, the doors closed on him.

“At that time, the elevator started up,” the police report states. Steinau “immediately began to try and find the emergency stop button on the elevator but was unable to do so before the elevator had partially decapitated” the victim, the report states.

Steinau told police the elevator continued moving up before it stopped between floors.

Nikaidoh’s body, dressed in surgical scrubs and a lab coat, was found at the bottom of the elevator shaft, lying on metal bars that operate the elevator car, police said. Above his neck, only his lower jaw line was visible, police said. His two pagers, cellular phone and Palm Pilot were found on the floor of the elevator shaft.

When firefighters freed Steinau later, she was so distraught that she had to be taken to the emergency room. Police interviewed her the next day at her home.

Steinau could not be reached for comment Saturday. Calls to her home were not returned. It is unknown if she has returned to work since the accident.

Two other hospital employees, Colleen Galvez, 40, of Houston, and Christina Adams, 35, of Katy, told police they were on the third floor waiting for the elevator when Galvez heard a loud noise and screaming. The two women then ran down the stairs to the second floor, where they found blood everywhere. They ran back upstairs to get help.

Nations said he has received many calls from St. Joseph employees claiming the elevators had recurring maintenance problems, sometimes stopping or starting 3 to 6 inches below floor level. People also have told him the elevator doors acted erratically, continuing to close when someone was between them.

I’ve always thought that the worst way to die would be to fall through ice and not be able to find the hole where you fell in. The above comes in a close second. Since reading about this incident, whenever something goes wrong in my life I keep thinking that things could be much worse.

Mee-OW. Hiss. Sulk.

WHAT is going on here? My weekend was not meant to start like this.

First of all my owners pack me in the carrier for the third week in a row and take me to that awful place where that woman in the white coat sticks needles into me. And today again she sticks Q-tips in my ear and pokes around.

Then my owners bring me home again and proceed to rush around the house like mad humans, packing up breakable objects, adding two bowls to my dining room floor, and . . . adding a new litterbox next to my perfectly adequate one.

Then they disappear in that damn red car and are gone for a good two hours.

Then they come home with two new cats.

Was I consulted?


Condi and Maggie

Yep. Those are the names of our new cats. We picked them up today.

They are sore from their surgery, but seem happy to have found a home.

Condi has not yet used the litterbox. She hisses at Mud and Maggie. She eats well. She purrs a lot. She sits in my lap at every opportunity.

Maggie has used the litterbox. She ignores Mud and Condi. She eats well. She purrs a lot. She sneezes frequently. She posed for the camera.

Mud has always used the litterbox. She hisses at Mud and Maggie but does not attack. She is currently sulking in the bedroom and hasn’t touched her supper.

Not sure what the sleeping arrangements will be tonight.

And Two Makes Three

We went back to the SPCA at lunchtime today, and are now the proud owners of two new cats:

Latifah (name to be changed very soon) is a six-month-old brown tabby shorthair. We know nothing about her history except that she was dropped off at the SPCA on the night of August 19th.

Coco (name to be changed very, very soon) is a seven-month-old tortoiseshell mediumhair. She looks a lot like Cindie. She was dumped at the SPCA on August 23rd for refusing to use her litterbox. I’m sure she’ll come to her senses once she sees our freshly cleaned carpet.

The whole procedure was very efficient. We sat in a small room with each cat to get acquainted. Then they were put in boxes while we went to the front desk to pay and sign adoption forms. They were then returned to their cages. Tomorrow they will be spayed, and on Saturday we can pick them up. The SPCA is having a 2 for 1 sale this summer. $65 covers spaying, tests, and vaccinations.

We’re hoping that they will get along and be good company for each other. The odds are favourable as they are both female and almost the same age.

Anyone got any good ideas for names? So far we’ve come up with Irene and Fleur, Frick and Frack, Metes and Bounds . . . John is vetoing Bags and Bidge.

Of course we took pictures!

$(8 x 6 x 4) + tax = worth it

We have just had our oriental rug cleaned. WOW! What a difference! I bought it in 1985 and this is the first time it’s been to the cleaners. Mr. Ali from the rug company took time off from his “going out of business” sale (it’s amazing the number of rug companies that go out of business) and came and picked it up. He kept it for two weeks and gave it a special enzyme wash at $4 per square foot (ouch). Today it’s back. It looks and smells wonderful. And it feels so soft when I walk over it with bare feet.

Hey, stop your yawning!

(memo to self: get John to show you not only how to get this damn clock off California time, but how to get the white out of the background when cropping an image)

Cats, Cats, and More Cats

John and I went to the SPCA this evening to adopt a cat. It took half an hour to get to the front of the line and fill out the form and get approved. The guy in front of us was turned away because the address on his application didn’t match the address on his driver’s license. We then walked around looking at all the cats in the cages. Each cage had a label on the front giving the cat’s age, gender, history, name, whether it was declawed/neutered/spayed, etc. Sometimes the reason for the cat’s being at the SPCA was also noted on the label; e.g. “Abandoned,” “New Baby in House,” “Couldn’t afford,” “Wouldn’t use Litter Box,” “Didn’t get along with dog,” “Too Many Pets in House.” In one cage were two huge Siamese cats, looking so sad. The reason on their label, “Divorce Situation.” They were eight years old.

The part of the label I kept looking at, however, was the date the cat had arrived at the SPCA. Some of them had been there for ten days or more, and it was always the older ones. All the cages were occupied, and I could only keep wondering what happens tomorrow when a litter of kittens is dropped off by someone who couldn’t be bothered to have their cat fixed.

We wandered around for an hour and finally settled on a six-month old female tabby. We wrote down the ID and cage number and went to the front desk. We were too late — they were closing for the evening.

We’ll return tomorrow. I think we’re going to adopt two. Mud shouldn’t object too much, as long as they don’t intefere with her 23 hours of sleep per day or push her off her thermostatically controlled heating pad.

I’ve never picked out a cat before. They usually pick me out. This method is much more difficult.

Sophisticated Repasts in Bath

I used to get plenty of free meals when Margaret Briggs was the Houston Press food critic. We met in an Anthropology class at the University of Houston. She’d just started her Masters in Archaeology and is now living in Mexico working on her thesis. She’d have to review each restaurant at least twice before submitting her column, and we used to have a great time ordering everything on the menu and tasting it all.

She sent me this link from the New York Times on restaurants in Bath a couple of weeks ago. I’m wondering if you’ve tried any of them, Ricky and Helen? The only one I recognize is the Hole in the Wall.

Maybe this will generate a comment from a Habershon?


This is weird. I just logged into and the little box at the left says there are 47 guests online.

47? Who are you all? Where did you come from?

Why do I have this urge to check all the cupboards and behind the sofa and under the piano?

C’mon people, whoever you are. You could at least stick a pin in the guestmap before you leave.