I was kicking my flip flops off going to bed, and I saw Tunch out of the corner of my eye standing in the doorway like he did every night until I got into bed and got the girls positioned before he would go through his night time ritual of walking up and down the left side of my bed before curling up next to my head. Seriously folks, the high churches could take lessons on ritual from Tunch. There was no latin involved, but damned it would take ten minutes some nights with him walking up and down the side of the bed, head butting me until I put my hand up for him to rub himself on. There were nights when I was exhausted and halfway through I would push him off the bed, and he would just jump back up and start over because he was TUNCH GOD DAMNIT and he would not be denied. And then, after he had purred me to sleep, he would inevitably wake me up as he thudded off the damned bed to go do his night stuff.
But tonight, unlike the past few nights, when I saw him in the corner of my eye when I know he is gone, instead of crying, it made me happy, and I chuckled and thought “What’s up, fat boy?” He’ll always be mine and he’ll be with me forever where it matters, and I am ok with that.
The prophet Nostradumbass
Safari on my Mac is now flagging this site as containing malware. It wasn’t earlier.
@The prophet Nostradumbass: And Firefox is freaking out on me. Something very wrong happening at chez Cole.
EDIT: If I reply to a comment with a link, it opens up the link in the tab I have BJ open in. I choose to blame FYWP.
It’s been over three months since my Buster died and I still “see” him almost every day. Some days I smile, some I cry. Grief is like that. It can sneak up on you and whack you upside the head. I’m heartened to hear that a new kitty is about to debut on BJ. I’m looking forward to seeing Begger and hearing about how he’s whipping you into line. Every cat has its own rituals and you’re about to learn some new ones.
(FireFox/Google didn’t flag the site for me this time, btw.)
You’re a wise man, J Cole. Tunch’s spirit will always be in your life. And I can’t wait to see pics of the next kitteh to join your pack.
Maxthon on my Mac is apparently okay, so… That’s why I don’t use Safari any more.
And I hope John never forgets about Tunch, it’s what made him come over to this side. (And I own/am owned by a dog!)
I went to bed after doing the usual petting, feeding, filling the water fountain, checking the litter box. But the cat decided that it was time to get up. I think Tunch’s spirit is recruiting a union. At least checking the net gives me the good news about a possible new BJ entrant.
John, maybe he’s your spirit guide now? A protective spirit watching over you. (I often thought that about my dog when she died. I’ll still see her sometimes, and that’s been over a decade ago that she passed.)
John: Same with me and my Mr. Bert. Saw him walking out from under my chair maybe three days after he was gone. Made me kinda wobbly happy, but proof that I was healing. All my best. ;-)
PS. I’m also getting nothing but Malicious Page alerts from Firefox.
The prophet Nostradumbass
Gin and Tacos is completely borked right now.
I’m forgetting why I wanted to comment . . . . Oh, I know. I keep reaching for my drink, but it’s across the room on the kitchen counter. (And my arms aren’t long enough to reach it.)
Hallucinations, how do they work?
ETA Also, too. Can somebody fix the YouTube embed feature so that the video shows up correctly? I’m using FF and I’m getting partial screens.
Very glad to hear that the healing progresses, little feat(steps). Looking forward to meeting the new pussty tat.
And that, Cole, is the ticket.
A monstrous & magnificent beast who wrangled more good out of the world than he could known.
Worthy of a toast and a chuckle, anytime.
Damn, that made me well up. We do big things. With our hearts we do epic things.
One true thing I’ve heard about grief comes from “Shadowlands.” The pain more is part of the happiness then. Sounds like you found it.
The people (and animals) in your life leave an echo like the ripples of a wave on a lake. Actually, that’s all we are really anyway (hello wave/particle duality).
Right now I am happy because I had a tiny, almost invisible, transparent biting midge stuck in my room that would not leave me alone for days, and I couldn’t see it well enough to kill it. But tonight I FELT it on my hand, finally, and WHACKED it and I think I got it. Perhaps tonight I will be able to sleep.
Good for you, John. Sometimes grief closes our hearts, but it seems to have opened yours even wider, which seems impossible. The amount of good you’ve done since losing Tunch has been a joy to see.
Good luck moving forward, whatever you do. You’re a good guy.
Great couple of posts. It makes me feel so much better to see you doing so well. And I can’t wait to “meet” Beggar. My question, though: will the name stick? I can’t imagine a cat in your household with the attitude of anything but “if you think I’m going to beg for anything, you can shove it up your ass and blow it out your ears, Monkeyboy.”
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
I don’t ever think I see Eddie (except when I look at Harry from the wrong angle, since they look so similar other than Harry having two ears) but I do sometimes hear him coming to join me in bed. A three legged cat loses the ability to move quietly and it’s a distinctive gait.
I’m happy you’re healing, John. I hope you continue to find peace and comfort. Tunch will not be forgotten.
I also got a malware warning from Firefox.
There’s dog Latin—why not cat Latin?
I’ve missed one of my old pets, but (unexpectedly) there has been no haunting.
c u n d gulag
John, you’re healing. :-)
Good for you!
Tunch will always be in your heart.
I’m eagerly awaiting photo’s of your new cat!!!
I’m living with my Mom, who’s allergic to pets, or else I’d get one.
She put with several cats, a dog, a canary, fish, and turtles, when she was younger, but she’s 81 now, and… well, no sense in tempting fate.
Tunch is hanging around till he knows you are ok. A decade ago, our Oliver hung around for a month until he was able to send Maggie to us. Tunch was a great American cat.
TUNCH GOD DAMNIT, hey?
Never suspected the furball’s family name was Damnit. (Learn something every day, I guess.) Not surprised, though, that his middle name was God. ;-)
o/t–Got the same Google warning yesterday re malware on BJ. Today I opened my e-mail & found a note that MoveOn had been hit by a DDOS attack. Two instances do not a trend make, but–has anyone heard of other leftish sites under cyberassault in the last few days?
I had this experience with my first and best beloved cat. He was an enormous tabby cat & more dog-like than most cats. In summer he would sit on the porch with me & kids going by would as me “Lady, is that a CAT?” After his passing I would get a glimpse of him in my peripheral vision or, occasionally, feel him settle on my feet on the bed. It was amazingly comforting. A couple of years ago my sister talked me into going to a spiritualist reading when we were on vacation (and I most firmly do NOT believe in this). The reader said “you have a cat who is in spirit.” Well, good guess & bound to be true a lot of the time, right? Then she said ” he is really large and follows you around more like a dog. He is still following you and has become your guardian.” Weird but I feel like that is true. Maybe (ok, probably) it’s the mind playing tricks but as long as they’re not malicious tricks I won’t complain.
If this post was on Facebook I would like it a million times.
I was just listening to NPR the other day and the astrophysicist featured said that we only know 3% of the universe. The rest is composed of dark matter and other things I don’t understand (but neither do they). We don’t know what’s out there John so Tunch could be a lot closer than we think. I choose to believe that we don’t end here (and neither do our critters).
Not sure if this has been mentioned on any of these threads, but “The Art Of Racing In The Rain” is a terrific book about the life and soul of a pet.
The only immortality we will ever have is the memory of our friends.
When I had to put down my Chocolate Lab over a decade ago I cried a ton. She had only been with us for a year but an acute spinal malady made it a painful existence for her.
Once the sadness subsided, my wife got pregnant, and I swear to FSM that the dog’s entire personality transferred to our now fifth grade daughter. Fond memories, what a sustainable resource.
I am glad to hear about Beggar. It was really clear in the earlier post, wasn’t it.
I can’t explain it, but something about Tunch’s death has started an avalanche of grief for me. Sometimes I think it’s easier to grieve when it’s a bit removed. It’s taking me a while to climb out.
Devon’s post the other night broke my heart, I hope she and Seth are finding their way through this.
Love your Tunch stories, just like I love your Lily and Rosie stories and can’t wait for the Beggar/John Henry/NewKitty stories. Your love for your animals is so evident. And look what that love has done–so much money raised for animals in need. You’re a good man, John.
Again, I just love your relationship with Tunch. You describe it so beautifully. This place has been an amazing place to be lately.
Now comes the delicate dance of introductions to all the 4 leggeds involved, but who would be more in tune and understanding about that than John Cole?
It was Mr. S’s birthday, so we were out late and I went straight to bed. This made me tear up again this morning, but in a better way.
My best.cat.ever, Jesse, was a Tuxedo boy nearly as large as Tunch. He’s been gone nearly 5 years (it was natural causes but horribly sudden), and I miss him every day but it does get easier. When we lived in the Bluegrass, our cats always found us. We had 5 at one time; we’ve lost all but the youngest to various illnesses, mostly old(ish) age related ones.
But here in rural San Diego Co. the likelihood of a cat finding us is pretty small, so we kept our eyes open for one to adopt. And in March we finally brought home a terribly traumatized 12 yro Perisan girl. You don’t want to read the litany of what she went through, srsly, but although she’s still very wary – Mr S can’t get near her to this day, although she’s getting less skittish – but she’s now happy enough with me to wake me in the mornings for food, and complain about the catering if it doesn’t suit. I would never have picked a Persian cat, but, well, here she is, and I love her. Who knew that when she’s happy she loves to have her belly rubbed, and purrs up a storm? But she does.
Mr S’s best.cat.ever was #2 of our 5. Miranda was a dilute calico Maine Coon (mix maybe). Absolutely the most beautiful cat I’ve ever seen, and even non-cat friends would tell us that. She was also the smartest cat I’ve ever encountered.
Maine Coons are great cats. Not generally lap cats, but very loving in their owns ways. Best wishes, John, on your new kitteh.
Karen in GA
And I missed it — did John confirm Beggar has taken ownership of him?
My son had the same experience when our cat died. He was up alone on the computer and he saw the cat in the doorway. He got up and followed him down the hall where he disappeared into the shadows. We are not religious or superstitious people, but we both felt comforted in the thought that the cat was still around.
I have experienced this myself, and as a neuroscientist, and an atheist, this phenomenon is fascinating. My $0.02 (feel free to ignore, my goal is not to tear down anyone’s beliefs): It all boils down to the specific neurons in your brain that have very specific tasks. You have neurons whose only job is to tell you that a person/dog/thing is nearby (variety of face cells – one lab did a hilarious study in monkeys – the animal had a large number of cells recognizing the person who fed him – but one bizarre outlier cell that only fired in response to several different pictures of OJ Simpson). These cells are then connected in a way that elicits your recognition of the object (probably indirectly) as well as the emotional centers to elicit your behavioral response – loved ones -> positive states – that terrorizing boss -> fear and stress, etc. But like all neurons, they’re not perfect, so after this loss, the person/animal is gone, but they can still occasionally fire and elicit that emotional feeling (and the apparent momentary awareness of the presence of the person/animal). It’s a bit like a momentary hallucination, but completely normal. Sadly (sometimes), these neurons will generally rewire to recognize other people/objects and elicit other emotional responses. My fellow scientists would probably flame me for being too Deepak Chopra about this, and maybe it’s just nonsense to non-scientists, but that’s the hypothesis I developed (for myself).
from a shaman’s point of view, it’s not surprising you still see him in spirit form. you’re bonded to each other. that’s not ended simply because the body of Tunch is no longer here.
also too: it is my personal belief as a religious anthropologist that animatism and animism are built into our mental rolodexes because the universe itself is imbued with a level of being or what we call “spirituality” that transcends what we perceive as everyday life – and no “god” or “religion” is necessary to act as a mediator…. Tunch is your connection to the Numinous, and Lilly is there to be your comforter. that is what is, and it is awesome. blessings to you.
The new laptop will not let me go to Wikipedia. It has AGV for protection.
The Red Pen
@Crusty Dem: Your mechanism nicely explains the “fleeting glimpses” experience from John’s post, but not the extended experience in the post above yours.
What would be cool is if you could reprogram the neurons so that memories with associations with negative feelings were simply erased. Then you could get Jim Carrey to star in a movie about that. Unfortunately, it would be his last really good movie. Science is cruel that way.
You are recovering nicely.
There could be a rebound coming. Know it for what it is; let Dr. Rosie advise you again.
Be sweet to Beggar no matter what is going on with you and your emotions about Tunch. You’ll do this naturally – love to new kitty when you’re down is just a no brainer for someone that has the empathy you clearly have shown this community lately.
@Crusty Dem: This sounds about right. I’ve had exactly the same experiences. My best buddy, Tiger, died at the end of 2009 after living with me for 11 years. I still occasionally feel him jumping up on the bed at night. John, my heart is broken – I felt as if I knew Tunch. The only thing you can do is console yourself with the thought that you gave him a great life, much better than most of them get.
@The Red Pen:
Or you could go the other way like The Kids in the Hall flick “Brain Candy” and have a pill that keeps you in a state where you perpetually remember your fondest moment.
Definitely NSFW http://youtu.be/p5R1xF1rUgY
Ted & Hellen
Quick and silly little digital tribute to Tunch, for John
Under the silver linings category:
1) all the cash raised for the pet rescue place
2) Another cat gets a good home
3) Even though it was sudden and horrific Tunch was getting older, and was not exactly the poster boy for P90X if ya know what I mean. A cat that big was going to have real problems as he aged, battling arthritis and such. Most pet owners know how heartbreaking it is to watch a beloved companion struggle with pain. and other maladies as the get older. And the final decision to bring a pet in to have it put down carries a whole different kind of guilt. So even though you would surely trade that type of fate for the one you now endure, at least you’ll be spared that fairly probable scenario. As silver linings go that’s at best Pewter, but hell it’s better than nothing I suppose.
My own personal best silver lining to a crappy situation; when I was in 6th grade my 20 year old cousin died in a job site accident. A month later my aunt asked me if I wanted to take albums from his collection. Going through an extensive collection I came across Blues for Allah, and grabbed it because the cover was cool. Then grabbed Workingman’s Dead, (ironic now that I think about it) and American Beauty because those were by the same band. This began my journey as a lifelong Deadhead. Something which has brought me untold amounts of Joy, good times, and good friends. I also influenced my younger brother to become a head as well, which has made us close as brothers can get having travelled around together for shows and the like. A tragic death actually shaped my life for the better, ya just never know.
@Crusty Dem: I’m a Methodist, and I do both believe in human and animals souls, but there is a mechanical explanation; it comes from the way our peripheral vision works. Or rather, how the brain processes it– a lot of blanks get filled in. That’s not to say that it isn’t also possibly spiritual. I don’t believe in a “God of the Gaps,” where He’s the Man Behind the Curtain of Inexplicable Things. We process a lot of information, false and real, through similar input and analytic engines– if the brain is the computer the soul is running a body on, evolution doesn’t let anything do just one thing that it can use for two. Or three. Or… etc. It’s also worth noting that our memories are very strongly connected to emotions and smell, both of which trigger more often the closer you are to the tragic event. Our brains are extremely plastic and take impressions that keep running even after the initial use for a given reflex/neurological process has changed or gone.
For that matter, it could very well be “all of the above,” with the necessary spiritual/theist/atheist footnote about what part you believe is possible– some faiths teach that ghosts are impossible for various reasons, at least in the official Rules. Sometimes it might be x, another time y, and quite often, it’d be multiple things at once. One of the most dangerous things to start assuming about the OUTPUT of the brain– or rather, what reads to our memories/persona– is that it’s the creation of a single program performing a single function in a single way. Mechanistic views of the brain are the only ways to really progress neuroscience, but treating an organic computer precisely like an electronic one is asking for trouble.
@Chaplain Weasle: Can you hang out here more often. That’s all. Thanks.
@Ted & Hellen: Dammit. I just stopped crying and now you’ve got me going again. sigh.
The Red Pen
Nice reference. One of my favorite movies.
The Red Pen
The problem is a little more fundamental than that. Between the realm of neural networks and brain activation, and the realm of cognition is a yet-impassible hurdle called a “mental representation.”
As far as comparisons between electro-chemical and digital computers, the latest-and-greatest information technology has always been held up as a model for the mind. Once upon a time, the mind was like a wax tablet, then it was like a pen and paper, then later a telephone switchboard. It was even compared to a steam engine in the 19th century.
@The Red Pen: To me, the important part of the yet-impassible is the ‘yet.’ I don’t believe that there’s any part of the physical world that can’t be examined– though the tools we have available now have some large hurdles in the case of human neurofunction. As for the mental representation thing… Well, yes. But I tend to blather on anyway, and I would have had to go grab my late brother’s cogsci books for what I’d consider to be a proper answer, and they’re in storage.
The metaphor problem is one that shows up a lot. Metaphors and abstractions are fantastic human tools for explanations, learning, and teaching. When I tell a class, “Imagine a chicken of uniform size and density,” I may be cracking a joke about physics models, but the fact remains that for a large percentage of students (it varies from year to year and place to place), you have to start with the models, whether they’re abstractions, metaphors, or whatever. I’m sure that to an extent, even the wax tablet had some ideas going for it, though the pen and paper one reminds me that not all models are created equal. They’re training wheels, but you have to make the RIGHT kind of training wheels.
I suppose that the real problem, from a teacher’s perspective as well as from a real world perspective, is that some people never want to take the training wheels off, and they do hinder greater skill and performance. … *chuckles* I promise I didn’t consciously start out to pull out another metaphor. Anyway, I think that in some cases, the computer metaphor has its good points, but a lot of people will actually start to discard or disbelieve facts that violate the metaphor, but not the underlying information. Or worse, they’ll apply the metaphor, model, or rule to places that it doesn’t apply. I can’t think of a metaphor example off the top of my head right now, but two that crop up a lot in teaching Algebra are real number foundational mathematic operations– addition/subtraction vs. multiplication/division, and basic order of operations vs. its expanded cousins, distribution and distribution’s child, polynomial multiplication.
With real numbers, the students will sometimes actually lose track of old rules. We do +/- first, so they should (in theory) know that the number with the larger absolute value should determine the sign of the answer. But once they learn the rules for * and /, same sign positive, different sign negative, they’ll take that model and back-apply it to +/-. With order of ops vs. distribution & polynomial multiplication, a LOT of students will start multiplying the number/variable outside the parentheses by just the first number, following the left to right rule. And once we get that one fixed, when we move on to more complicated distribution in polynomial multiplication, you see the same thing happen. They distribute one of the numbers, but not the other. For most students, it’s the first term of a given binomial, in binomial/binomial work, but for others, it’s the second. They tell me it’s because it’s the one that’s actually in front of the other parentheses. Or they’ll multiply front by front and last by last.
That, I think, is where we get problems with neuroscience. We have so many different complications over so many different functions that interact in so many different ways, that even for what we do understand, we use abstractions and metaphors a lot. You’ll then see people absolutely insist that the one metaphor validates another view, often ignoring contradictory information. I’m reminded of the science “journalism” articles a while back about how boys were supposedly hardwired for blue and girls for pink. There were a LOT of problems with that analysis (including contradictory historical evidence), and I don’t remember if it was shared by the author(s) of the study, but one of the big ones is the computer model. They’ve gone from working with terms involving processes and memories to, “Oh. We can see these parts of the computer activate physically! That means, like a computer, they’re a part of the basic construction of the brain and are inherent and immutable.” Plasticity of the brain and human adaptation for adaptability seems to end up at the wayside a LOT, especially when it comes with confirming cultural biases.
I’ve been a lurker, but I always have been afraid to say something because, well I’m shy and sometimes my words no go good… other times they just blurt out of me. It was the news about Tunch that’s made me feel enough to share.
Again, thanks for your comment. It made my day/week!
@The Red Pen:
The brain will always be compared against whatever the current most advanced technology is. It’s nothing like any of these things, but what else would you use?
The Red Pen
I saw something in a lab at Monsanto, but I’m under NDA.
@Crusty Dem: Eventually, you don’t. You ditch the comparisons and the metaphors and the similes, and one of the reasons that people sometimes get leery of comparisons to complicated modern tech like computers is that a lot of people don’t understand computers as much as they think they do, either– but are very certain of their beliefs. I know that my wife, who is an actual tech, has to correct my assumptions periodically, but I’ve learned to learn at this point, so those periods are getting larger.
@Chaplain Weasle: I’d like to second the “come here more often” request. What you had to say was wonderful and helpful for everyone I think, and especially for those like myself who found this sad event setting off a cascade of difficult memories. Your words were a comfort to me.
Me too. And I get grief from both my Catholic, religious family & my atheist son, and I don’t care. Christian heaven sounds deadly dull. I hope, and somewhat believe, that we can come back if we choose. This comforts me & it’s what I choose to believe the universe is like.
If I’m wrong, so what? If there is some fatherly God up there & he holds this against me, fuck him. If there’s just nothing after life, I won’t know about it anyway. Whatever gets us through life, right?
The Red Pen
The problem is that mental representations don’t exist in the physical world. They are necessarily related to things that do, but a hard connection between the two eliminated the possibility of free will.
If my current mental state is the byproduct of the physical state of an electrochemical system now (State A), and my future mental state — including the result of “decisions” that I’ve made — is another electrochemical state (State B), then what “I” can be invoked to say that “I” had any influence over that? Electrochemical systems function according to the laws of physics any chemistry, so the path between State A and State B doesn’t really provide any opportunity for me to have changed its course.
That and the bigger stuff. There was a time when BF Skinner’s stimulus/response dynamic was considered the explanation for all cognitive behavior. It breaks down trivially when you consider verbal behavior, which is where most mechanistic cognitive theories dissolve. Human cognition is dominated by its entanglement with human linguistics. You could really say that the Word was our beginning and the Word created our world, but now I’m switching magisteria.
Sister Inspired Revolver of Freedom
Awesome! That’s pretty close to what I believe, but you said it better than I could.
@The Red Pen:
Has anyone ever wondered, what if everyone’s favorite color was actually blue? Meaning, is it possible that the brain processes information slightly differently in each person, so that if I were able to see exactly what your brain tells you you’re seeing, and I look at something that my brain tells me is your favorite color say, pink, when viewed through your eyes it appears blue. It’s not possible to describe a color in a way that would reveal such a difference in perception because the words attached to the “color” still describe the item as you know it. My brain processes one item as being blue, but your brain sees the same item as what I would see as pink, but we both call it blue, because that’s the name that was assigned to it.
The Red Pen
I think everyone has wondered that.
So here’s the thought experiment: you have a kid who is raised in a grey box, and her only exposure to color or anything comes from a PC that’s hooked up to the Internet. Unfortunately, the scientists who hooked up the monitor switched the signals for red and blue. Thus, when she learns that apples are “red”, the image in front of her is a nice, electric-blue apple. Pictures of clear skies are crimson. Some colors are the same, but a lot are switched. So what if that could happen in your head? How would you know.
There are some pretty clear indications that your brain needs to know the real color. The most obvious is the fact that most people find it difficult to eat blue food. If you cut into a steak and see bluish purple rather than redish purple, you are likely to find it unappetizing. A french fry coated in bright blue ketchup is likely to give you pause. There’s another instructive tale about an Oliver Sachs patient who lost the ability to perceive color, but his reaction to food colors demonstrated that at least part of his brain could still “see” the color. (Google it.) That an other evidence suggests that everyone sees the same colors.
But we can’t be sure. That’s where personal experience becomes the stumbling block.
So you have to ask, “Why would it matter?” If you and I both look at a piece of smoked salmon, and we both agree that it’s pink and we both agree that it looks yummy (I’m assuming you like smoked salmon) then the actual patterns of neural activation are irrelevant.
In fact, it wouldn’t matter if you had a human brain and I had a positronic brain or if I was a visitor from another planet; the words “pink” and “salmon” and “yummy”* refer to mental representations that we necessarily share in order to communicate. The physical form of these representations doesn’t change anything, which is why there’s such a gulf between neuroscience and cognition.
*Lt. Data or a space alien would likely have divergent concepts of “yummy,” but you get the point, I hope.
Technically it wouldn’t matter, and that is my point. Maybe you think that the color blue coming out of a steak is off-putting, perhaps you just relate that color to something yummy because that’s the color you always see it. For instance, there used to be blue ketchup, and kids were just fine with it.
Likewise, what if we all liked the same taste, but some perceived the taste of brussel sprouts which I despise as the taste that I get from cucumbers, which I love. Everyone knows what they consider yummy, but everyone has a different idea of what they consider to be yummy. It is a meaningless contemplation, but interesting, because it would mean at the core evrybody was very very alike, and only the way the brain processed that info would be different.
The experiment wouldn’t work, because as soon as she was out of the box their would be obvious contradictions to what she was taught. kind of like when Cole came out of the conservative bubble and learned that all he had been taught was obviously wrong.