Archive for March, 2008


I’m one of those people that is horrendous with expressing condolences.  I feel unbearably awkward when I hear someone has suffered a loss.  I never know what’s appropriate, especially if it’s not a true “friend” but more of an aquaintance or a coworker.  What do I say?  What do I do?  Is it appropriate to touch them on the arm?  Give them a hug?  Just leave them alone?

I wish I was one of those amazing kind-hearted people that doesn’t hesitate to attend the wake or funeral of a coworker’s family member.   I avoid it at all costs, I must admit.  What if my nervousness causes me to giggle at the worst possible moment?  What if my clumsiness causes me to trip and fall and make a spectacle of myself?

With the loss of Latifah in February, though, I was able to do some thinking.  Some friends and aquaintances, fellow cat-lovers, expressed their condolences.  Some admitted that *they* didn’t know what to say.  It helped me realize – it’s not really *what* you say at all!

Okay, there are limits… comments like “oh well, you have too many cats anyway” aren’t very helpful.  However, just a simple “I’m sorry” means a lot.  Really, all you (or at least I) am craving is for someone to let me know that *they* know I’m hurting, and it’s okay to be hurting, and they’re sorry I’m hurting.  “I’m sorry” works great… even “Bummer” is reassuring to hear.  You don’t have to come up with some poetic articulate expression of your sympathy, those two simple words work wonders.  Though I do still envy those that *can* come up with something poetic and beautiful that the recipient will copy and treasure for years… I’m not that articulate, but I can muster up an “I’m sorry”.  If the person chooses to take the opportunity to talk a little about their loss or how they’re feeling, I think that’s all I’m offering – a friendly ear.

In fact, I was able to test it out today.  A coworker lost a family member recently, and when I ran into her – instead of my usual tactic of just not mentioning it, I just said I was sorry to hear of her loss.  She seemed to appreciate it.  I know I felt better for offering her *something*, however small.

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Running late again this morning. (I know, that is nothing new.) I drove toward the train station, to save those extra five minutes I would have spent walking that half to three-quarter mile.

I’m not a great parallel parker, I admit it. At one point, I’d honed this skill pretty well, and could ease my way into spots with only an inch or two between the car in front of and behind me. However, lack of use let the skill fall back into the sad state it was originally, when we were practicing in Driver’s Education with a suburban and two big garbage cans.

Today was not a good day for parking. Not that the “parking space gods” weren’t on my side. I turned down the one-way street I park on (just a few blocks from the station, and the last street with public parking), and there was a beautiful big spot, just a few cars from the intersection. I began backing in, cars quickly forming a line behind me (which only adds to the pressure of getting it right). I didn’t get it right. Soon I was up against the relatively high curb, but I was out of the way sufficiently to let the two cars that were waiting pass by. I proceeded in my endeavor, and a minor adjustment later I’d managed to wedge myself completely between the curb and the car in front of me. Tried to pull forward, but only succeeded in bumping the car ahead of me. Now there are several cars waiting, and I’m blocking their path so they can’t get around me. Still, I was incredibly fortunate to have the politest commuters in Chicagoland waiting on me, as not a single one began honking angrily – they just looked at me, rather frustrated with the inept woman behind the wheel (me).

Now I’m stuck. My only option is to force the car back over the high curb (hope my father isn’t reading this) so I can back up sufficiently to get out of the jam I’d put myself in.

With great trepidation, I exited my car to examine the car in front of me. Sure enough, a nice white streak on his back bumper that matched the paint on my car quite perfectly. Thus, comes the dilemma. Obviously, I should leave a note on his car. The fear is, in this great society, what are the chances the owner of the car will claim every dink, ding, and scratch was caused by me (where it definitely was not)? If I’d had a camera with me, I’d snapped some photos (in case some other poor driver came along and smashed his car to bits while I was at work), but of course I didn’t have a camera with me, and I don’t have a camera phone. Still, choosing the option that would allow me to best live with myself – I wrote the note, apologizing for tapping his bumper and leaving a white streak of paint. I hoped it would just wash off, but left my phone number in case.

Well, on arriving home tonight I saw I had a voicemail – and the minute the caller announced he was the owner of the car I’d tapped, I felt the dread engulf me. I hoped this wouldn’t be some huge ordeal involving insurance companies and body repair estimates. No, it was a kind gentleman expressing thanks over me leaving a note, but commenting that it wasn’t the first mark on his car, and it was a “hazard of living in the city”.

Just another little thing to reaffirm some faith in humanity.

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Pet food labels differ from human food labels in several ways – one of which is instead of the “nutrition facts” on human food labels, pet food labels have a “guaranteed analysis”.  Why?  Why do human food labels have “as fed” or average nutrient contents on their labels, whereas pet food labels have minimums and maximums?  Well, primarily to give the pet food manufacturer more leeway to vary the contents based on cost.  Many manufacturers use a “least cost” method to creating their pet food – meaning they’ll adjust the level of ingredients in order to achieve the lowest cost for the food (maximizing profit).

Now, assuming we’re all okay with that (or not), another difference is the absolute *lack* of some information on the pet food label – such as carbohydrate content.  We have moisture, protein, fat, fiber… no carbohydrates.  Now, we could try to figure out the carbohydrates from what we have – I mean if we know how much moisture, protein, fat, etc. there is in the food – the rest must be carbohydrates right?  Well, yes and no.  Let’s look at an example:

9-Lives ground chicken & tuna dinner

The label’s guaranteed analysis says: minimum 9% protein, minimum 4.5% fat, maximum 78% moisture, maximum 3.5% ash, maximum 1% fiber

Subtracting the minimums and maximums from 100%, we get 100% – 9% – 4.5% – 78% – 3.5% – 1% =  4% carbohydrates.  If we then want to convert to dry matter (so we could compare this canned food to a dry food, for example), it’s 16% carbs dry matter: 4% / (100%-78%).

However, if we contact the company for as fed information (and I have), we get a very different story. I don’t have the exact numbers with me, but roughly, they were on a dry matter, “as fed” basis… so averages, not minimums or maximums:

Protein (average) – 58%
Fat (average) – 35%
Carbohydrates (average) – 6%

Note: for example, the protein dry matter average of 58% is greater than the *minimum* listed on the can of 9% / (1-78%) = 36% dry matter. That’s all that’s necessary – that they properly label the MINIMUM. Therefore, by definition, on average the can will contain more protein and more fat than what is listed.

Janet  has collected “as fed” information for a large number of commercial cat foods, and she converts the numbers to a percent of calories… by converting the %’s to grams, and then grams to calories (using the assumptions she notes).
Protein = 39% calories (average)
Fat = 57% calories (average)
Carbs = 4% calories (average)

VERY different picture – not only because we’re using averages, not minimums/maximums, but also because fat has 8.5 calories/gram, much higher than protein and carbs (3.5 calories/gram).

You can’t really compare “the label math” to “as fed” information or Janet’s charts… it’s comparing apples and oranges.

Getting back to my example – 9-Lives ground chicken & tuna, something I personally do feed fosters, etc.


I see *no* grains listed, no vegetables, no fruit.. just a bit of guar gum for fiber. I think this is a perfectly acceptable low-carbohydrate canned food.

This is why I rely much more on the list of ingredients than I do either Janet’s charts *or* the guranteed analysis. Unless the very faulty labeling requirements change, it’s very hard to use the analysis for anything,

So, I read ingredients. If there’s no grains, veggies, fruit… it’s most likely low in carbohydrates. If it’s filled with grains, sweet potatoes, potatoes, etc. it’s probably not. Companies are required to list them in order by weight. It’s not a perfect system, but if you use it in conjunction with what we’ve got, it’s the best you can do.

Now, why do we even care about carbohydrates?  Cats have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates.  Well, because high-carbohydrate diets have been linked to diabetes, struvite urinary stone formation, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and other ailments

That’s why I am petitioning that caring pet owners contact the FDA with their comments in anticipation of an upcoming “public meeting” on pet food labeling.  Specifically, I’m requesting that maximum carbohydrate content be added to pet food labels.  It takes only a few minutes of your time to send in your comments, I’ve provided mine so you can just copy and paste, if you like.  I hope, for all our pets’ sake, you’ll take the time to do so.

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Well, I had a rotten week last week. I know, we all have them. Doesn’t prevent me from feeling rather sorry for myself when I’m raked over the coals.

(By the way, of course the moment I wrote that I had to go surfing to find the origin of the saying “raked over the coals” – I find it quite appropriate in my case.)

Raking people over the coals was something that was practiced in Europe a few centuries ago. If people suspected that you were practicing witchcraft, or that you didn’t believe in things that the church said, then you were accused of being a heretic and dragged over red-hot coals of a slow fire. If you survived the ordeal, then you were declared innocent. If you didn’t, well it was just too bad.


Anyway, back to my bad week. When you have an opinion, you’re bound to run into people that disagree with you. That’s rather obvious and pretty inevitable. Sometimes the disagreements can turn a bit nasty, and that happened in two cases this week. Someone disagreed with me on the prevalence of pancreatitis (and hometesting cats’ blood sugar levels, and feeding canned food) – someone else disagreed with me on… well, honestly, I’m not sure, but I think they had an issue with the canned food as well (but on the opposite end of the spectrum – person “A”, Eddie/Pat, felt canned should never be fed, only dry – and person “B” felt canned food should never be fed, only raw.) While I personally think raw is probably the best diet we can feed our feline friends, I don’t take issue with feeding canned. I feed canned to my foster cats, and my own cats on occasion.

Anyway, I was lamenting the fact that it was a stellar week for the Lynette Haters Club (standing room only) last week to my friends Glenn and April. Well, since I have such WONDERFUL friends, they promptly decided to cheer me up with a “We Love Lynette Fan Club” on Facebook.

Yes, I joined. Glenn pointed out that was a bit narcissistic, but since the Lynette Haters aren’t members of the club, I don’t much care.

Mel isn’t sure what we’ll do on this group. Hmmm… not sure, but I hope it involves snacks. (No, sugar rehab isn’t going particularly well. I’ve rather fallen off the wagon.) Maybe the point is just to let the Lynette Haters Club members wonder what we’re doing, and whether we’re having fun doing it.

Oooh.. I just discovered the spellcheck feature of the blog… that’s helpful. Anyone else found their spelling abilities have decreased as technology has increased? I used to do quite well in spelling bees, actually – but now found I’m a bit spellcheck dependant.

One last item of note – I am giving myself a “break” of sorts from a few of the many activities I find myself busy with, and hope to do a bit more writing. Cheaper than therapy, as April says.

“To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” ~Elbert Hubbard

Update: According to some of the “Lynette Haters”, I am now selling different canned foods and has some kind of business arrangement with these companies. I’m misrepresenting myself on online forums, by not explicitly disclosing that I have a financial stake in selling certain brands of canned food.

Um, perhaps I haven’t disclosed that I sell canned food – because I don’t? Perhaps I haven’t disclosed this financial stake because there isn’t one? If you look at my little business’s website, you’ll see I sell some raw pet food components, as well as dehydrated and freeze-dried food and treats. No canned food. I sell things primarily because it saves me a bit of money feeding my cats to buy wholesale and/or get a distributor’s discount. Last year (2007) I had a whopping $700 LOSS on this little business. That’s after considering the bit of income I had cat-sitting. So, Lynette Haters, you can continue your false and libelous campaign, but I would hope any intelligent person could quickly determine you’re full of it.

Duty Calls

Source: http://xkcd.com/

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