A postcard from Switzerland

June 18, 2012 • 9:25 am

I just got an email from peripatetic reader Doc Bill, with a picture attached:

Jerry, Walking back to my lodge in a small Swiss town, Kandersteg, I passed this house with a door ajar. Looked like how I leave the door open for Kink [Doc’s beloved tabby], so I paused as I passed the house and waited. Sure enough, a little face appeared:

That Qat photo was taken with my iPhone, natural light about 9:30 PM.


I’m off to rectify a case of evolution producing a trait that’s now maladaptive: a wonky wisdom tooth.

20 thoughts on “A postcard from Switzerland

  1. Cats, all over the world, seem to have the same quest for curiosity and love of freedom.
    Lovely photo.

  2. Good luck with your wisdom tooth. I had three of mine out when I was a teenager, but for some reason they decided to leave the fourth one in there. So of course I had to go through it all again when I was 30 to get that last one out.

    1. I had 3 out of 4 out at age 14-odd, but I know why they left #4 in : they got the gas wrong and I woke up on #2 and punched the dentist as he was pulling #3. I had to go back for #4 a few months later. Different dentist, unsurprisingly.
      Needle and local anaesthetics now, when necessary. And when I have had to go under, I’ve told the surgeon that story before getting the big shot. “You have been warned!”

  3. Mine erupted with no problem (a bit painful so I understand babies). What fraction of people really need to remove them? (and not just because they hurt a little).

  4. Dunno about the fraction, but if I had lived before antibiotics my wisdom teeth would most likely have killed me.

    The lower two were taken out when they tried to push out already erupted teeth; 2 ops. The upper two were taken out when one of the un-erupted years later developed an infected abscess nearly erupting into a sinus; 2 serial antibiotics (resistant bacteria), 2 ops.

    So yay for antibiotics and surgery!

    The funny thing is that I have both unusually long tooth roots and (likely still) thick bone growth, estimated to the 3 sigma tail on both counts. (But it is anecdotal data.) Still I had these problems with healthy tissue.

    1. I forgot: yes, I opted to take the last one out with no more medical indication than that 75 % gave me problems…

  5. Cute picture.
    Although I have to vent my, eh, despair caused by the increasing use of i-phones and the likes for taking pictures.
    Pictures like this one is “OK” for forums like this, but not much else. That’s a pity. i-phones are taking photography several steps back in the wrong direction.
    Other than that; hope the tooth is out and that you are OK.

    1. I don’t always carry my Nikon D3100 but I always have my iPhone. This picture was a “lucky shot.” The cat’s head is framed nicely and the grain caused by a combination of darkness and using the digital zoom gives it the look of a painting or sketch rather than a photograph. I had the iPhone set to HDR (high dynamic range) which gave me two photos emphasizing different exposures and I sent Jerry the one I thought looked the best (more arty).

      In retrospect, if I had shot the cat with the Nikon I would have had just another cat picture rather than this extraordinary piece of art. Suitable for framing. I’d be glad to sell you a print for the low, low price of $11.99 plus S/H. Call me at BR-549. All lines are open!

      1. 🙂
        I see the convenience carrying a phone with every app and facility on it.
        I’ve been thinking more and more about the sadness of phones as “The Tool Of Choice” for documenting the past.
        I was following Yoko Ono’s photos from her current stay in England, solely using “iphoneography”. And I’m struck by how “iphoneography” seems to be “very cool”, but at the same time such a waste of opportunities. I imagine a future when curious people search for pictures of the past, then realize the only documentation is “iphoneography”. They will be deeply disappointed. Compared to even the simplest of point and shoot cameras, “iphoneography” is useless and just a mockery of photography.
        I had some of that feeling when I saw your Qat photo. I thought; “Wow, with some cropping, that would make a great picture!”. Unfortunately, with “iphoneography”, there is nothing to work with. Considering your eyes for details, I strongly suggest you get a compromise between the D3100 and the iPhone for casual use. And maybe I’d gladly pay $11.99 for another great Qat photo.
        Anyway, my ranting was mainly for “iphoneography” in general.

        By now your tooth should be nothing, but a memory 😉


      2. Hmmm, my iColleague, iSteve (who’ll buy iAnything) had a bit of a fondle with HDR a couple of years ago. Now I suspect that corresponds to the appearance of an HDR ready iSomething.
        Was hillwalking with the wife a couple of weekends ago and thinking … this lighting needs HDR, so I snaffled the photos. I’ll have to go find a FM, so the I can RT it.
        To mis-quote a strange video I was sent recently, “bracket, bracket, bracket!”

    2. It’s quite a good photo. For a phone. It undoubtedly is better at taking photos than my camera is at making phone calls.

      Just looking at it, I’d say the phone got the exposure and focus right, but the light-gathering limitations of a tiny lens is what makes it so grainy.

      Admittedly, even a cellphone photo is better than no photo at all. Just as I justify my habit of taking photos in hopelessly poor light on the grounds that (1) it might come out and (2) it costs nothing (a great advantage of digital) and (3) if I don’t take the photo it certainly won’t come out.

      I don’t think the flood of so-so photos from cellphones is a danger to decent quality photos. What may be a risk is that so many point-and-shoot folks who think a blurry pink blob just distinguishable as Auntie Mabel is a great photo, find they can do as well with their phone as they could with a camera, and camera sales drop off to the point where real cameras become a specialist (= expensive) market.

      1. I hasten to add I’m not criticising docbill’s composition. You do what you can with what you’ve got.

  6. Both I and my two sons have had all four removed, but my husband is clearly far more evolved than us because he never got any in the first place! I suspect that our modern diet is so soft (bones grow in response to stresses) that jaw growth doesn’t reach the dimensions evolution expects, so we don’t have room for these teeth.

  7. Every dentist I’ve gone to as an adult has been surprised to find that I have all 32 teeth. At my age, this is quite unusual, I gather. But lest anyone thinks I’m a throwback to our Neanderthal cousins, my present dentist said it’s because I have a large jaw (and a foghorn voice to go with it) and small teeth: it’s very roomy in there.

    1. Three words at least – the Swiss IIRC have French, German and Italian as official languages. At least. Well known for polyglot cats are the Swiss.

  8. I’m off to rectify a case of evolution producing a trait that’s now maladaptive: a wonky wisdom tooth.

    Ha! I just got back from my semi-annual visit to the dentist + lecture about getting my wisdom teeth pulled. I was sure I was the oldest person I knew still carrying around impacted wisdom teeth. Glad to be proven wrong, thanks!

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