It happens almost every year. After returning home from NAMM, a few days later I fall ill with what we affectionately call the “NAMMthrax”. I suppose it’s not surprising, being in close quarters with thousands of musicians and others over four days and compromised immune systems from all our drinking and debauchery. This year’s hit hard around Wednesday, and has lingered into the weekend. But fortunately Sam Sam is here, and being both a great companion and a great nurse.
When I lie down to rest, she is usually by my side. Of course, being a cat, she takes frequent naps herself.
There is something so peaceful and calming about her curled up and resting. And it seems to fit well visually and spiritually with the stormy weather that has settled in this weekend. Since December, we have been hit with a series of really nasty winter storms with high winds and flooding. It is not pleasant, and sometimes even stressful, but I know I shouldn’t complain as much of the country is in a deep freeze.
I like this portrait of Sam Sam sitting down in “loaf” pose on the ledge. And if you want to see a bit of action, here she is in our most recent Instagram.
The end-of-year colage has become a long-standing tradition here at CatSynth, and one that I particularly enjoy. It was a complex year, and the images reflect that. Our cats Sam Sam and “Big Merp” (who has pretty much become an indoor-outdoor cat at his new home in Oakland), some great shows including outstanding performances with CDP and Vacuum Tree Head, a wonderful and restorative visit back to New York. It was also dark and fiery at times, as when the Camp Fire leveled the town of Paradise and bathed our sky in smoke and ash – beautiful and tragic all at once.
Another New Year tradition at CatSynth is to share some stats from the past year. First, the basics:
169 Cat-and-music posts
78 episodes of CatSynth TV
Our top posts for the year, using the somewhat shaky measurements of Google Analytics:
It was heartening to see such a diverse set of posts top the list. However, this belies the fact that blog readership is way down, and eclipsed by Facebook and YouTube / CatSynth TV. Most of our referrals to the blog come from these two sources; but most activity stays on Facebook and YouTube. On the plus side, CatSynth TV viewership has grown significantly. Here are the top videos for the year.
Clearly, the NAMM reviews and synth demos dominate the channel, though I am proud of the diversity of art, music, and culture topics shared there as well. Overall, we at CatSynth do see the writing on the wall, and the efforts in 2019 will probably accelerate the shift from blog to video in terms of time, energy and investment.
On a more personal and introspective note, 2018 was a year we accomplished a lot. At the same time, it ends feeling like I both did too much and didn’t do enough. There are still so many things going on, even as we tried to consolidate and focus. One of the challenges going into 2019 will be looking at how to stay organized and even more focused, without giving up on all that we do. Also, like birthdays, a new year is a reminder that time is passing, and we are getting a bit older. Taking care of myself will also be a priority.
Thank you all as always for sharing this past year with us, and wish wish everyone a Happy New Year!
It’s been exactly two years since Sam Sam made the long trip from southern California to come live with us at CatSynth HQ! And not a day goes by that we are not grateful to have her in our lives. I’m pretty sure she feels the same way.
Samantha, or “little Sam Sam”, had a complicated life. She started out (as far as we know) in the suburbs south of San Francisco, and then moved with her human to the high desert north of Los Angeles – we like to joke that she lived “out in back of Palmdale where the turkey farmers run” in tribute to one of our musical heroes, Frank Zappa.
When her human passed away, she then went to live with his sister, also in southern California. Unfortunately, the sister’s health was declining and another cat bullied Sam Sam, so this was not a happy chapter for her. As her new human was preparing to go into assisted living, Sam Sam needed a new home.
In December of 2016, I was still deeply grieving after Luna’s death – and also reeling for the shock and horror of the election. I hadn’t yet prepared to welcome another cat into my life, but when a friend and bandmate reached out to me that he needed to find a new home for a sweet cat whose human was headed to assisted living – and then shared her adorable photos, I said yes. How could I not?
At first, Sam Sam was exceedingly shy and skittish, spending most of her time hiding under the bed, coming out only for food, water, and the litter box. She was mostly silent but occasionally emitted these tiny squeaks. As she adjusted to her new home, her personality blossomed. She’s quite friendly, vocal, outgoing, and quite a ham.
And she has no trouble demanding exactly what she wants from her humans.
We close with this episode of CatSynth TV featuring Sam Sam is all her adorableness.
Please join me in wishing Sam Sam a very happy Gotcha Day!
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…
Sam Sam continues to delight every day with her adorable antics.
And she certainly gets lots of love and attention in response.
It’s interesting to see how different her unique facial markings look from different angles.
Of course, being the constant center of attention can be quite exhausting, so there is always time for naps.
Sam Sam often sticks a paw on her tail while sleeping, a trait we have remarked on before. I don’t know whether it serves a purpose or is just a quirky habit, but it is very sweet.
Today is #BlackCatDay, and an opportunity to celebrate and recognize black cats as we close in on Halloween when stereotypes and threats sometimes reach a crescendo. It breaks our hearts to think of any cat being hurt or abused, but black cats can face an especially different time.
For years, the celebration of black cats on and around Halloween was a ritual, with Luna often hosting the special Halloween Black-Cat Edition of Weekend Cat Blogging (back when that was a shared thing). Now it is more a time to remember and reflect on Luna, who left us on October 31 two years ago. We will have a proper remembrance on that day, but for now, we just want to bask in the beauty of our beloved black kitty.
Our feline neighbor is back and enjoying himself on one of the terraces behind CatSynth HQ. You can see his face through the glass bricks, albeit in a Cubist sort of way.
Nothing wrong with his being there. I for one love to see cats enjoying themselves. But his presence brings out both Sam Sam’s curiosity and territorial instincts, and she was quickly back up on the ledge to investigate – and to assert her territorial claims. We managed to capture a bit of it in this video.
It definitely makes a bit nervous to have Sam Sam up there, but there really is no stopping a determined cat. It’s also a reminder that I need to replenish that wine rack. The one bottle that remains is from Armida Winery, whom we featured in a CatSynth video back in June.
This is a good time to remind folks that you can follow her antics regularly on our Instagram @catsynth. Please do follow us if you feel so inclined.
The main rug is definitely one of her favorite spots and shows evidence of her frequent scratch’n’rolls. Honestly, we don’t mind as we delight in her antics. But it does require vacuuming, which is on deck for today. I know she is not going to enjoy that, but it is necessary.
Fortunately, she has other spots to enjoy around HQ, including this comfy chair in the loft.
Honestly, I wanted to sit there to read 😸
We hope you all have a relaxing and enjoyable weekend.
The vast majority of my recent photography has been done with the iPhone, but for the upcoming Outsound New Music Summit, I will need to use the SLR and lenses. So I’m getting back into practice with Sam Sam.
I think this one came out beautifully, especially as Sam Sam was being the perfect model. I recently got a new faster camera, and so far it has been a joy to use, especially with our existing portrait lens on manual. With the iPhone, I have forgotten both the fun and hazards of managing optics. When focused properly it really brings out the detail of her fur and puts the background in the background. Some shots work better than others, of course. This one was less than perfect, but I really liked her vocal expression.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t shoot some pictures of her scratch’n’roll.
Sam Sam definitely knows how to ham it up for the camera.
I will be on photography duty for most nights at the Outsound New Music Summit, or at least the nights I’m not also performing with my band CDP. You can find out more about the festival, including tickets, on the official website.
It’s our twelfth anniversary! It’s hard to believe that this little project I started as a lark in 2006 is still going and expanding. Here is that first picture of Luna that went up on July 19, 2006!
As always, we look to the anniversary as a moment for reflection and for changes. We don’t have compiled detailed stats this year, but we do have several high-level milestones. Most notably, we launched CatSynth TV last October, and since then have shared 74 videos! More are on the way. We have continued to develop our apps, including the original CatSynth: The App! and Highway☆, though there is so much more we want to do there, both with existing and new apps. And Sam Sam has blossomed into the new star of CatSynth! With so many facets competing for our attention, there has been less time for the long-form reviews that once dominated this site, though we still write long-form articles when we can. So with that, we make some announcements:
Sam Sam finally takes her rightful place on the masthead alongside the late great Luna! It’s a change that is long overdue. And appropriately, we are featuring one of her scratch’n’roll poses.
We are going to open up the site to new voices. We have already had a couple of guest music reviews, and of course the semi-regular Mensa Cats cartoon series. This is going to expand in the coming months. If you have an idea for an article you would like to contribute, please let us know.
And as always, please keep sending us your cat-and-gear pics.
So please join Sam Sam and me in celebrating twelve years of CatSynth! We look forward to sharing many more with all of you.