Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Molly’ Category

Guilt? or just say, “What?”

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Hearing a noise from the other room, The Wife investigated. She writes, “Molly was digging in the bag of food to find something she likes better than what’s on her plate.” This is the look Molly gave her.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2020 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Molly

Miss Molly comes to visit

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Fumigators at The Wife’s apartment today, so Miss Molly is spending a day with me. After a certain amount of obligatory sniffing around the apartment, she found a sunny spot on a comfortable chair and settled down for a nap. (She’s now snoozing.)

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9 September 2020 at 9:12 am

Posted in Cats, Molly

Molly on TV again — the trick explained

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12 April 2020 at 10:38 am

Posted in Cats, Molly

Molly on TV

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Just this morning:

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11 April 2020 at 11:09 am

Posted in Cats, Molly

Walk flowers

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The top of the photo is severely cropped because I wanted to remove the close-up of my finger. To make up for that, here’s a photo of Molly resting.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2019 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Molly

Another wooden-tub shaving soap, with Baby Smooth and Blenheim Bouquet

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This is a fine vintage (now) shaving soap, which I believe was made by Truefitt & Hill pre-out-sourcing. It was a private-label soap sold by a vendor who’s now retired, the business name sold to a disreputable dealer (alas). But the soap: the soap is wonderful, and my Rooney Style 1 Size 1 created a superb lather.

The Baby Smooth is a great favorite and I love the shave I get with it. Speaking of favorites, Mantic59 wanted to know which of these razors is my favorite. The problem is that (as the article plainly states), they’re all my favorites: those are my favorite razors, as the title states. But he’s working on something and needed to know The One, and I found I couldn’t do it. I went in and stared into the razor drawer and finally came up with a Favorite Five, but at another time I would probably have a different Favorite Five.

I ended the shave with a good splash of Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet on a totally smooth face. A fine way to start the day.

Yesterday afternoon was not hot, just pleasantly warm with a light breeze, and Miss Molly took a nap on the sofa:

The tummy is irresistible, and she doesn’t mind at all if you pat it gently, just lies limp and seems to enjoy it.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2019 at 8:50 am

Posted in Cats, Molly, Shaving

Nancy Boy, meet Blenheim Bouquet

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Nancy Boy is a great shaving cream, highly recommended, and this is a tub of their Signature shaving cream: lavender, rosemary, and peppermint, as I recall. The little Maggard travel brush did a terrific job, and my Fendrihan Mk II Stainless Steel razor once again proved its mettle: 3 passes to a perfect result.

A splash of Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet aftershave finished the job:

Top notes: Lemon, Lime, and Lavender
Heart notes: Blenheim Bouquet has no heart notes
Base notes: Pine, Musk, and Black Pepper

After I posted this, I saw that Mantic59 is also a big Nancy Boy fan. And I think he’s right: Nancy Boy works best with a Plissoft-style synthetic shaving brush.

And this morning I see by the shadow that Molly is in her tree:

Written by Leisureguy

5 March 2019 at 7:49 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Molly, Shaving

Molly at rest on my pyjamas

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Written by Leisureguy

21 February 2019 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Floris No. 89: A fine fragrance

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A very nice shave today. The Maggard V3A head (here mounted on a UFO handle) is really remarkably good—strongly recommended. Floris No. 89 (their home street number) has a great fragrance and this soap, purchased long before the reformulations, is excellent. (I’m not sure I’d risk the soap today, given the excellence of various artisan soaps, but the aftershave would be good to have.)

Three passes to perfect smoothness, an enjoyable splash of aftershave, and the end of the year draws nigh.

Bonus: Molly enjoying the comfort of her box:

Written by Leisureguy

27 December 2018 at 7:18 am

Posted in Molly, Shaving

The science of cute-aggression

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Amanda Mull writes in the Atlantic:

I have an 11-pound Chihuahua, and I love to smoosh her against my face. I’m not exactly sure what I get out of this ritual, because she doesn’t smell great. Still, I take her up in my hands, bring her toward my head, and make a noise in her side that is like a small scream, but without opening my mouth. Afterward, we look at each other for a moment—she’s suspicious, and I’m slightly embarrassed—before pretending that nothing happened.

I harass my dog in this way constantly. She’s a little loaf of a thing, with big eyes and satellite-dish ears and a teeny snoot, and she is so cute that I have overwhelming urges to, among other things, bite her ears and gently boop her nose. As odd as this all might sound when spelled out—the desire to nibble your pets is usually not discussed in polite company—lots of people share these impulses toward dogs, babies, or other wee things they find excruciatingly adorable. Even if you don’t, you might have experienced secondhand embarrassment for someone who does.

This affliction has a name: “cute aggression.” And for the first time, researchers have begun to map what’s happening in our brains when we decide we want to chomp on a chubby baby leg (in a friendly way!). Their findings, published last week in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, suggest that experiencing cuteness sends many people on a neurochemical roller coaster, with their minds’ attempts to balance themselves resulting in bizarre, intense displays toward tiny, helpless beings. This over-the-top response might serve an important purpose: to ensure that those of us who experience cute aggression don’t spend so much time cooing at a baby or puppy that we forget to take care of it.

When Katherine Stavropoulos, a professor at the University of California at Riverside, first became aware of a 2015 Yale University behavioral studyidentifying the phenomenon of cute aggression, she thought that finding its neurological basis might put scientists on a path toward better understanding the brain’s reward centers. “These are very cute things that you might want to approach. You might want to take care of them. You’re having very positive feelings—in fact, so many feelings that you’re overwhelmed by them,” she says. “To me, that sounds like a very, very active reward system.”

Stavropoulos used EEG caps to test brain activity as participants were shown a series of images of puppies and babies with varying levels of cuteness according to the theory of kinderschema, which are the set of traits, such as big eyes and little noses, that human brains seem to be wired to find adorable. After each set of images, participants were asked to fill out a survey that inquired about, among other things, feelings of caretaking. The results were clear, Stavropoulos says: The brain’s emotion and reward systems are both involved, but cute aggression flared up specifically when the reward center was overwhelmed. The puppy’s tiny paws are just too much, on a chemical level.

If babies could take care of themselves, it wouldn’t matter so much that adults often experience paralyzing reactions to how adorable they are. Because babies are dependent on us for their well-being, though, it’s important on an evolutionary level that we’re able to snap out of it. That’s where cute aggression seems to come in. The surveys filled out by participants showed that the reaction was also heavily linked to feeling a caretaking urge toward a cute thing. That may indicate cute aggression is our brain’s attempt to balance an overwhelmed neurological response. “A baby can’t survive alone, but if you’re so overwhelmed by how cute it is and how much you love it, then you can’t take care of it, and that baby won’t survive,” she says.

Oriana Aragón, a Clemson University researcher and the author of the 2015 Yale study that first identified the phenomenon, agrees that emotional balance is a potential cause of “dimorphous expression,” which is any emotional response that can present in two distinct ways. “When people express this way, they seem to come down off that intense event,” she says. “Their intensity seems to drop faster than people who aren’t doing cute aggression.” The more quickly a caretaker returns to a state of emotional stability, the better the odds that a small, vulnerable thing won’t experience a significant lapse in having its needs met. If that means I need to smoosh my dog against my face, so be it.

On a behavioral front, Aragón says that there are also some other potential explanations for cute aggression. “The appetitive side of the reward system is about that forward momentum, the antsy feeling, the pursuit, the urge,” she told me. “So it could be that when we see this aggressive expression, it’s an expression of that urge. It’s showing that you want to get to the baby.” The clenched-jaw, clenched-fist look of cute aggression is warning everyone that you intend to squeeze the small, cute thing.

In situations where it might be frowned upon to grab a baby that’s not yours, Aragón and her team found a different kind of dimorphous expression: a cute sadness, of sorts. “The ‘aww’ expression, with a downward-turned mouth and crumpled face, sends a signal to the baby and the other people that you just want to regard the baby, savor the baby, and take that baby in,” she says. The same process happens with other reward stimuli, like a good meal: At first, you anticipate it and you dive into your food, and then you sit back, slow down, and savor.

According to Aragón, cute aggression is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding dimorphous expression, which occurs in a variety of scenarios, such as when someone is awed by the beauty of nature or overwhelmed by the thrill of victory. “Disgust and pain seem to have special properties about pulling away from the stimulus, whereas tears seem to be about stopping to savor, and aggression seems to be about the urge of pursuit,” she says. Research on emotion expression has historically been that of one-to-one correlations, Aragón says, so dimorphous expression represents a new phase in understanding how we socially negotiate our feelings.

Knowing how human brains generate these responses could have therapeutic potential, according to Stavropoulos, whose work frequently centers on people with autism. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 December 2018 at 9:16 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Molly, Science

Wee Scot, Asses’s Milk shaving soap, Stealth, Spring-Heeled Jack, and Molly

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When the puck is small, a small brush works well, and my pre-Vulfix Wee Scot is a dynamite brush: it holds loads of lather, and the lather from this soap is quite nice, with a very mild fragrance: “clean” would be my description.

Three passes with the RazoRock Stealth easily produced a totally smooth result. This, for me, really is an excellent slant, and it is part of the Permanent Collection.

A good shake of Spring-Heeled Jack followed by a good splash, and the day begins with energy.

Molly loves her paper, apparently even more than her new box:

Written by Leisureguy

16 May 2018 at 8:54 am

Posted in Cats, Molly, Shaving

Kent Infinity synthetic, Tallow + Steel Grog, and the Merkur 37G

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Tallow + Steel delivered a great lather this morning, but the contributions of the Kent Infinity and the water amount (very little = just right) must be acknowledged. The fragrance of Grog is very pleasant, and the Merkur 37G set to work with a will, easily delivering a perfectly smooth (and unharmed) face for the splash of aftershave.

A short report, so here’s a bonus photo of Molly in her new box from PetSmart. The bottom is end-grain corrugated cardboard, and she scratched the be-jesus out of it as an introductory step—sort of like taking the shrinkwrap off a new product.

Written by Leisureguy

7 May 2018 at 9:11 am

Posted in Molly, Shaving

Another French shave, plus Dorco 602

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The French part is everything but the razor: Plisson synthetic and Creed Green Irish Tweed. The lid is presented sideways because I didn’t notice—it’s difficult to read and I was still perhaps sleepy.

Creed shaving soaps are very expensive: $125, exactly twice the price they were when I bought my Green Irish Tweed some years ago. However, it is indeed an excellent shaving soap, so there’s some consolation in that: a rich, creamy, and fragrant lather. Green Irish Tweed is famously the fragrance Cary Grant preferred, and I, though no Cary Grant, like it a lot myself.

I wanted to again do a comparison of the Dorco PL602 with the RazoRock Baby Smooth, and they are indeed very close in feel and performance. Thus IMO the Dorco PL602 is the ideal razor for a man who just wants to try DE shaving to see what it’s all about.

Three passes and a splash of GIT EDT as an aftershave: great start to the day. (And a late start: after Molly got me up at 5:00am I went back to bed and slept very well. He she is on her cat-tree in the study, acting innocent.

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2018 at 10:53 am

Posted in Cats, Molly, Shaving

Primeval feelings: Pre-cognitive processes we share with, say, cats

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Today the cleaning ladies are coming, and the preparatory signs are evident (e.g., beds stripped, sheets washed), so Molly knows that this is a Scary Day, though she may be hazy on the details of why.

And she has been unusually persistent and demanding for a lap—she pretty much pushed my computer out of the way— and has curled up and stuck firmly to my lap, even going to sleep, and completely unresponsive to my “I’m getting up” feints.

I’m aware that the obvious explanation is that a lap is a warm place, but the coincidence of her unusually strong lap demand/need (one drives the other) and the fact of the signs of the imminent arrival of the cleaning ladies (whom Molly does not like: she retreats to her hidey-hole in the closet—her version of a safe room—when they arrive and stays there until they leave) make it hard to ignore the possibility that, beyond warmth, Molly is motivated by a demand/need for the comfort of feeling safe.

One doesn’t want to anthropomorphize unnecessarily, of course, so my immediate thought was, “Do cats have feelings?—that is, in general, not just specifically a feeling of being ‘safe’?”

My immediate follow-on thought was that in lifeform evolution, the ability to distinguish “safe” and “not safe” would offer a decided survival advantage, so I would imagine that being able to make that distinction dates way back and is common to many (most? all?) lifeforms, certainly once some level of awareness is achieved. Being able to recognize safety offers a terrific survival advantage over being totally clueless about safety, and of course even better is actually deriving pleasure (an immediate reward that encourages behavior that has significant long-term benefits) from the feeling of being safe.

All organisms must, willy-nilly, be exposed to risks. Those that have a sense of “safety,” and in particular those that derive pleasure from the “safe” side of the menu, will automatically choose the safest course possible—i.e., they will minimize risk. On the whole, organisms that minimize risk will do better than organisms that don’t, pretty much by definition of “risk.” Thus the significant survival advantage that ensures that the ability to recognize safety, once acquired, is passed along.

Thus I would argue that Molly does derive pleasure from feeling safe, and thus her behavior is to some extent guided by feelings. Feelings arise early in evolution, pre-cognitive in origin and even now non-cognitive in operation. Feelings work at a deeper level than cognition, and surely evolution, having found a good device—the reward of immediate pleasure to encourage behavior with long-term evolutionary advantage—we would expect to see it in other contexts. Sex, for example, is important from the gene’s point of view, so it would follow that the pleasure reward would be substantial.

Another example: Consider the feeling of pleasure that one has after a good night’s rest: it’s a definite pleasure, and I think most have experienced it (and have experienced the displeasure of a poor night’s rest). The pleasure, though real, is certainly not so intense as sexual pleasure, but it’s in the same sort of ballpark as the pleasure from feeling safe: it’s better to have the pleasure than not, so one’s choices are pushed in a general direction. In one case, minimizing risk; in the other, being as well-rested as possible under the circumstances, which, along with the similar sort of pleasure that comes from having a substantial and nutritious meal, is known as “taking care of yourself,” which clearly improves chances of survival, so that’s another feeling that goes deep. And presumably Molly would have such feeliings, and indeed evidence shows that Molly seems motivated to be well-rested and thus, presumably, derives pleasure from it.

So I would say that it’s obvious that animals have feelings if not thoughts, and that some of the feelings that a cat, say, experiences are quite similar, as feelings, to those you and I feel. That sort of feeling is basic to the mechanism. And I think that is why some people do not want to eat animals that have such feelings. We’ve read about how pigs show absolute terror in the slaughterhouse. (For some reason, the meat industry wants to make it illegal to reveal (through video, for example—see link) what the industry does: the day-in, day-out routine: nothing special, just their regular work. That’s what they want to hide soe much that they seek to make it a felony to let people know. And such laws have been passed in some states, states in which business interests are more important than free-speech rights.)

I have to say, that took an unexpected direction. I need to think on this.

Meme lovers will note the absence of the meme, but feelings arrive in the organism’s evolution long before the ability to imitate behaviors and thus play host to memes. Feelings have meme-independent pathways, though I imagine memes can co-opt feelings (“… moon, … June”).

Written by Leisureguy

6 July 2016 at 3:23 pm

Molly checks out the buffet

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Molly looks at snacks

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22 January 2016 at 9:49 am

Posted in Molly

For Molly, biting shower curtain = popping bubble-wrap

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She loves the sound. Shower curtain has little perforations as high as Molly can comfortably reach.

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25 July 2015 at 5:35 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Molly showing her fenders

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Molly with fenders

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13 July 2015 at 8:49 am

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Molly not as a kitten, but today: 8 years old

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6 April 2015 at 7:39 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Belated daily SOTD: Wee Scot, I Coloniali, TV Super Speed, and Creed

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SOTD 20 Feb 2015

Sorry for the belated posting. Miss Molly had to go in to the vet, who removed two teeth. (Maine Coon cats tend to have dental problems. One good thing about British Shorthairs: very few health issues.)

I used my Wee Scot with the really excellent I Coloniali shaving soap (that uses mango oil). It’s a somewhat thirsty soap, but now I know the drill.

With it, I used the Super Speed TV model—sold only through the TV—and a Swedish Gillette blade. I included the contemporary regular Super Speed in front so you can see the difference: no horizontal grooves.

Three passes to perfection, then a good spray into my palm of Creed Aventus, and that slapped onto my face as an aftershave. A great way to start the day for me, but then Molly was off to the dentist.

She’s back home and resting. Antibiotics for a week.

Written by Leisureguy

20 February 2015 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly, Shaving

Interesting meme that reflects a highly successful meme adaptation/strategy

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Molly came to sit in my lap, a fraught process that involves much testing and hesitation and tentativeness followed by total relaxation and purring. She usually holds down my arm nearest her hear with a front paw planted firmly on that arm.

But that arm wasn’t available today because I was drinking iced tea. I noted that she then placed that arm-holding paw on the arm of the chair and held it firmly down.

So it wasn’t about holding me down, particularly, it was about wanting a firm support for that paw, presumably so she’ll be able to leap the instant a mouse should present itself present itself.

So I was just sitting there, letting her enjoy the moment (and me as well), and I thought of memes, in this sense.

For those just joining us: Memes, defined in chapter 11 of Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene and expanded upon in The Blind Watchmaker, are replicators very like genes: basic units of inheritance (though inheritance of culture—things that can be imitated—rather rather than of genes), having offspring with slight variations, and competing for resources, with those most adapted surviving. Evolution really does advance the story: later generations gradually become more complex and environmentally manipulative—for example, single-cell entities (where “cell” can refer to a genetic or memetic context) evolve to multicellular entities (organisms, for life evolution; in meme evolution, one gets meme-clusters: memes that reinforce each other, making the meme equivalent of a biofilm). Memes can combine—nationalism and opera and movies and so on—and, as Dawkins says, their evolution is extremely rapid compared to the evolution of lifeforms; and moreover, the meme, like the gene, is “selfish”: i.e., the meme is not so concerned about the well-being of the human hosts as it is about its own survival and propagation. Memes in that sense can act as a kind of disease that doesn’t quite kill the host and is still adapting toward having a more symbiotic relationship: just as physical illnesses become milder as more benign variants are selected. (A virus that killed instantly the host would not spread very far and thus would quickly die out: natural selection at work.)

The point is: memes evolve rapidly and they are “selfish.” Cf. North Korea.

Given that lifeforms and memes are subject to Darwinian logic, they both will (necessarily) evolve. Since both evolutions are subject to the same laws, it very naturally results that one gets a kind of “convergent evolution,” in which one can find many analogues between lifeforms and meme entities. That is, good evolutionary solutions/strategies will be good in either context, so successful outcomes will have some resemblances. Thus, we naturally enough find many analogues between lifeforms and memeish entities and vice versa.

That means you can look at particular lifeform adaptations and seek their analogues among memes, and vice versa.

Even better… and here’s where the story really begins: you can examine differences between human animals and other animals—those that don’t host memes—and perhaps get an idea of how memes might account for significant differences. It’s the old “How are humans different from other animals?” question, but viewed from a meme perspective: it assumes that any differences of substantial nature are due to memes.

Specifically, I was watching Molly just relax totally with not a thought for tomorrow, and thinking that was what life would be like for a meme-free animal—along with intermittent hunger, fear, pain, etc. But still, when times are good, just enjoy them.

Basically, non-human animals have no drive. They lack ambition. They do not want to leave the world a better place. They do not want to advance the knowledge of their kind, or to become known as a champion of their rights, a protector of their poor (though they may indeed protect the poor/wounded, but they have, I’m sure, no concept of becoming “known” for the deed).

Or, to put it more simply, non-human animals lack memes. We are driven by memes, and the meme “We must advance human knowledge, improve human condition” is a very basic, very primitive meme. Once it became active, it was in effect a meme-factory, kicking off a process that multiplies memes by the millions—thus undoubtedly hastening memetic evolution.

So that’s one difference memes make: ambition. And that’s a big difference.

On thinking further: I don’t think the meme-human situation is like the Puppetmasters. Generally speaking, meme propagation is heavily influenced by what “works” (in whatever context): memes that “work” will spread quickly. They in effect fulfill their promises. (Cf. the rapid spread of the meme-cluster “traditional wetshaving with a DE razor,” for example: that meme-cluster spreads rapidly because its promises are for most fulfilled. If the meme didn’t work, analogous to a virus that sickens its host, it doesn’t propagate very well—certainly not so well as those that do. A country like North Korea is an exception (and a meme-cluster with extraordinarily strong protective memes (analogous to antibodies), but in general, a meme that harms its hosts cannot endure. Or so it seems to date.

So, generally speaking, memes benefit us. Still, there is the puppetmaster aspect: many of those benefits are in the form of memes—meme-currency, as it were—rather than direct animal benefits—because, as we’ve seen, animals do not need much. OTOH, we do now have anesthetic. So it’s not all bad.

It’s a puzzle as to which is in charge, is it not?

UPDATE: It strikes me that we have a nomenclature need—a need that, for all I know, has already been met. We need to be able to refer with a single name the generalization of common structures/adaptations/patterns we find in comparing memes and lifeforms. It’s the word for a particular category or type of evolutionary adaptation when you see examples both among lifeforms and among memes. It’s the general terminology for the specific cases represented by memes and lifeforms.

I say “lifeforms,” but in fact it’s “genes.” But I cannot see genes, so I look at their expression and see the adaptation there. The gene benefits if its physical expression in the lifeform helps the gene’s host (to survive to reproduce).

The analogues are amazing, and we do need those generalized names.

Written by Leisureguy

13 January 2015 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Cats, Memes, Molly

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