Whiners and Diners

These three little ingrates have done nothing productive all day. They just slept in their fuzzy bed (which you can see in this picture) and occasionally whined at us when it was time to feed them. They have particular desires when it comes to feeding time. One full can of wet food, please, on a large plate so that Filch (in the middle) can eat his without growling at the others.

I took this image on my morning break when I went through the office where these guys are staying to get to the bathroom. I like that they’re all looking up at me. Mostly. I cropped the original picture by about a third and then applied Google’s built-in “Enhance” filter.


Kitten pics for Thingadailies!

So you thought…

…that I would post an entry a day with a kitten (or two) a day for the month of February? Well, so did I. But between school and work and writing and editing stories for Daikaijuzine, I found myself somewhat busy. Still, kittens will kitten, so I took a couple of pictures the other day!

This is Pilfer. I like super close-up pictures of kittens and cats for some reason, so this one (which I actually took in selfie mode because he was facing away from me — fortunately you cannot see my face) I had to keep.

And Misdemeanor! She’s very whiny. I caught her in a thoughtful moment. Who knows what she’s pondering?

I didn’t edit either picture much, aside from applying the phone’s built-in “enhance” filter. The lighting in our home library, where these pictures were taken, is pretty bad, so the filter was necessary to make the pictures tolerable. I think I’m getting better at framing the shots.

Still no pictures of the new car, I’m afraid. Every time I head out to run an errand (approximately once per week in these plague times) I think to myself, as I head out the door, that I ought to take a picture of the car. But something happens when I get to the bottom of the stairs, and the thought flies from my head. Soon, though!


Kittens for Thingadailies!

More kittens!

…And here are Wellerman (front, looking grumpy), and Shanty (rear, looking hopefully at the ceiling) seated together on a kitty sofa which we bought a couple of months ago. They’re cute, right? This is a pretty raw pic and the flash probably wasn’t necessary. I took another picture shortly after this one from a different angle, but Jennifer posted that one to the House of Floof page on Facebook and Instagram, so I think it was a good one just based on that.

In other news, we have acquired a new car. It’s a 2017 Toyota Prius, of course, and it’s a strange color that occupies that liminal space between light green and light blue (the salesperson who looked it over said it was green with blue spots). I tracked down the car to the Toyota website, and found that its “official” color is sea-foam green. We have named the car Clovis for no good reason other than because it sounded good. Pics forthcoming.

And in yet other news, this weekend is Boskone 58. Boskone is a science fiction and fantasy convention that I’ve been wanting to go to for years, but it’s in Boston in winter, which has always been such a deterrent for me. But this year, because of the covid-19 pandemic, it’s completely online. That’s super, because I get to see the panels and panelists and talks and what-not, but not-so-super because gosh darn it I really miss going to in-person conventions and meeting people at random in the hallways or at meals.

UPDATE: This little chucklehead is Pilfer. Like his siblings (Filch and Misdemeanor) he is about five weeks old, closing in on six. He’s very friendly, and has a loud purr. He’s been known to put his whole head into my mouth when I’m holding him and I yawn. I can’t help but wonder what he’s thinking. “What’s in there? So fascinating!”

That’s all for today. Tune in later, maybe even tomorrow, for more quality content.

Fuzzy Nation

This little chowderhead is Filch, and he’s about five and a half weeks old. I like this picture, because, well, I like kitten closeups. I just wish I’d gotten him to look directly at the camera. But he’s young so he moves around a LOT.

This is his sister Misdemeanor — Missy, Misty, or Miss-D for short. I think she looks kind of grumpy in this picture, don’t you? She’s not normally a grumpus, though. She was just kind of sleepy when I took this picture. Well, also the kittens had just gotten their first vaccines, and had blood drawn, and their momma cat had gone away. So yeah, I guess they had a right to be grumpy.

These two critters (and their brother Pilfer, whom I did not get a good picture of this morning) are current fosters of ours. Their momma kitty, Carmen (as in Sandiego), went back to her own home yesterday, so these three have been successfully weaned and are living wild and free on their own. I feel like it’s sad to let three kittens be on their own when their momma cat moves away, but that’s the way of cats in the world, and these three guys will be just fine.

In other news, we picked up our new (to us) car last night. We bought it online through CarMax, because we did not want to have to fuss with salespeople trying their hardest to upsell us to features we don’t want or need in a car. Heated side mirrors! Built-in GPS (which we’d never use because we have Google Maps on our phones)! Etc.! No, we knew what features we wanted, and shopped around on the CarMax website until we found the one we wanted, and arranged to buy it. We only got the one car; we’re going to try being a one-car household for awhile. Right now, we’re both working at home 100% anyway, we hardly go anywhere, and even when I am commuting to work, my commute is only six miles which takes me twenty minutes on a bad day.

CarMax did not hardsell anything to us aside from additional warranties, which we expected. So that was fine.

All in all, not a bad time was had yesterday (except, perhaps, by the kittens).


Thingadailies!

Conclave

Today’s photo is of three foster kittens holding a conclave. More accurately, two of them (Wellerman on the left, Tina on the right) having an important discussion about a piece of painter’s tape that was between them when they were interrupted by Shanty (center). It’s the sort of thing Shanty does. He’s very much an “in your face” kitty who demands attention and who wants to be in the middle of whatever is going on. So the important conclave regarding the piece of tape was interrupted by an interloper.

All three of these fosters — Wellerman, Shanty, and Tina — will be available for adoption soon from Happy Tails in Sacramento. Wellerman has Cerebellar Hypoplasia, which is a neurological condition, so he sort of wobbles when he walks. He’s definitely shyer than the other two, but he’s still a love. Tina’s shy as well, but Shanty is very friendly and loving.

Now, you may wonder where the kittens got their names. Or maybe you weren’t. I don’t know. But remember a few weeks ago when everyone was singing sea shanties? Yes, that one. Here’s the one I mean (I hesitate to share this video, because I know you’ve seen it before, but whatever):

Except, of course, this song has no mention of Tina, so her name was given to her before we got her.

Now, you may ask yourself, why is there no sea shanty about cats? Well, there is! Here you go!

Of course, when I think sea shanties, I can’t help thinking of the King of Sea Shanties. Yes, I’m talking about “Barrett’s Privateers”, performed here by Stan Rogers:

Fun fact: in the mid-1990s I had an online relationship (conducted entirely by email and telephone) with a woman from Halifax, Canada. At some point she made me a couple of mix tapes of purely Canadian music. There were a couple of Stan Rogers songs on those tapes, which is how I learned of his music.

I wonder whatever became of her.

Anyway. Yes. Cats. The picture above, of Wellerman, Shanty, and Tina is today’s Picture of the Day for Thingadailies. Enjoy!


Thingadailies!

What the duck?

Jennifer suggested, and I agreed, that my “thing” for this year’s Thingadailies should be photographs, since I’m not good at them and a couple of weeks of taking them daily should help. Of course, she meant photographs of our foster kittens, like the ones she takes for House of Floof, but I figure I can take pictures of anything I want, since any photo will help me improve. Behold the first one I took of the month:

I have no rubber duck to work with, so Seamus will have to do.

 

I call this silly stuffed penguin Seamus the Miracle Penguin. Normally he rides around with me in my car, but since my car is currently in the shop (see my last entry re: trees), he’s sitting with me while I work at home. Behind him is my work laptop, and the wallpaper image is a puffin from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s a total coincidence, actually. The wallpaper image rotates through a selection of about 80 pics from the Aquarium, and this one just happened to show up while I was setting up the picture.

Seamus is a useful co-worker. Among programmers there is a method of debugging called “Rubber Ducking“, wherein you explain your code, line by line, to a rubber duck, or some other inanimate object (not sure why a rubber duck is the ISO standard here).  I have no rubber duck, but Seamus has been very helpful.

Why is Seamus the Miracle Penguin? This is a question that my family and friends have pondered for close to two decades. I myself am not entirely sure either.

Anyway. There’s your picture for the day.


Thingadailies!

Did I Mention…

…That I have a blog?

Here it is, and you’re reading it! I seem to have neglected it since August, which is five months, which is a long time. My last post, about our cat Nutmeg, was a sad one, and I’ve been reluctant to post since then for some reason.

 

…That I’m back in library school?

It’s true. I was originally going to library school — the MLIS program at San Jose State University, to be exact — back in the early years of this century, but I’m afraid I burned out and withdrew without notice in 2004. But I’m back now and enjoying it, feeling competent in my classes, and learning a lot. The more I study, the more convinced I am that this is a good fit for an intellectual vagabond like me who has a philosophical bent. I’m taking it nice and slow this time. The only weakness with my plan is that I may not become a librarian before I reach retirement age.

This book, Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World, is one of the books I’ll be reading for my current class, and I’m very much looking forward to it. For a previous course, I created a small website about the “digital divide”, a topic which is near and dear to my heart.

…That Daikaijuzine is back online?

Yep, my online magazine of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and poetry is back online after going into hiatus back in… uh… 2011. It’s back now, with some old friends behind the helm and some new ones as well. Quality fiction of all genres, and quality poetry from luminaries. We’re a (minimally) paying market, though we’re currently closed to submissions (we still have many, many to consider from last year). We are on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook so you can track us down at one of those fine venues.

…That I’m reasonably healthy?

It’s true! No migraines for quite awhile, no other major issues going on. Because of the pandemic, I’ve had very little contact with other people, and it’s been nearly eleven months since I stepped into my office of employment. As a result, I haven’t contracted any colds or bronchial infections for nearly a year. Sure, my allergies kick in from time to time, but that’s because I’m allergic to anything that moves o stands still, including cats. And speaking of cats, did I mention…

 

…That we’re fostering kittens and cats?

We foster kittens through Happy Tails, a local no-kill cage-free pet sanctuary that does wonderful work. We’ve been doing this, my wife and I, for nigh on to two years now, and we’ve had dozens of kittens and cats come through our home. There’s lots of love and laughter (kittens are cute and fun and full of energy and love!), and some heartbreak (sometimes they don’t make it past a few days), but it’s always rewarding.

 

…That there was a storm?

Yep, and it was a big ‘un. The wind blew off a huge branch from a tree in front of our house and landed on both our cars (see pictorial evidence below). Sadly, Jennifer’s car (the blue Prius on the left) was totaled, but we’re being compensated for it. My car (the red Prius on the right) will likely be in the shop for a couple of weeks.

 

And that’s all I got for now.

RIP Nutmeg (2010-2020)

We had originally gone to the SPCA shelter that day (long before we’d started working with Happy Tails) intending to adopt a little kitten, but when I passed Nutmeg’s cage, she reached out a paw at me and patted me on the shoulder. So while Jennifer tried to coax a shy black and white kitten out of its cage, the attendant took out Nutmeg (called Monet at the shelter) so we could get acquainted. She clambered up one of my arms, across my shoulders, behind my neck, down the other, and let me hold her, purring all the while. So, it was decided: we would adopt her.

We brought her home, and she fit in well with the crew that we already had. The vet’s exam showed she was healthy, and she was friendly to the vet and staff, so the vet remarked that she had a good personality, though she was a bit on the portly side. She was definitely friendly, though she didn’t like to be held for very long by anyone (besides me, which made me feel good).

For the first few years, she slept with me, even followed me downstairs like a puppy whenever I went to bed. As she grew older and less mobile, she tended to stay either upstairs or downstairs during the day, depending on where she was placed in the morning.

Nutmeg was kind of a strange cat when it came to her diet. She was picky. While our cat Ingrid-the-Weird would scarf down wet food and people food and any stray veggies that she fancied, Nutmeg would eat only kibble. No wet food. No people food. Jennifer once put a dab of tuna juice on Nutmeg’s nose, and she acted as though we’d tried to poison her. The only time I ever saw her interested in non-kibble was when she stuck her nose into Jennifer’s root beer float, and even then I think she was mostly interested in how the foam bubbled in front of her.

She was never an active cat, and we ended up calling her “Potato Cat”. She was a floor potato, a couch potato, a chair potato, a potato anywhere she sat (the photograph above shows her with a potato bearing an image of her likeness drawn on it). “Lazy Potato”, we’d sing to her. “She’s our lazy Potato Cat!”

A few weeks ago she stopped eating and started losing weight. Definitely peculiar for our lazy potato cat. She didn’t mind having food put into her mouth and she would eat that, but she wouldn’t go to her food bowl on her own. We took her to the vet, but he initially found nothing physically wrong with her. When he did an X-ray and a more thorough physical exam a few days later, he found a number of lumps spread throughout her body, on her spleen and liver and in her abdomen.

So after that, it was just about keeping her comfortable and happy. The vet gave us Prednisalone for her, and that brought back her appetite. We had a few weeks with her after that.

But then she peed in her bed, and didn’t move out of it. She’d always had a problem with inappropriate peeing, but she’d always moved away from it. This time, she didn’t. We finally picked her up and put her in one of her favorite spots, on a pad on the floor in front of the refrigerator. We noticed that while her stomach was large as always, we could feel her pronounced backbone, which is not a good sign in a cat. So on Sunday morning, we made the painful decision to take her to the vet’s office to have her euthanized. I’m so grateful that Jennifer came with me, and that the vet allowed us into the room where they would perform the procedure — I’d been terrified that we’d have to wait outside because of COVID-19 restrictions. And, of course, I was a wreck the whole time, but I held her and hugged her while it happened.

She was one of the first cats we’d adopted since moving to Sacramento (Rupert and Ingrid were the first), and she was the first one we adopted with the intention of bonding to me. And we did bond.

Goodbye Nutmeg, my lazy potato — also known as Miss Chumbly Wumbly, Chumbles, Chumbelina, and other nicknames I can’t quite bring to mind right now. You were a spiffy cat, and I will always love you.

Let’s talk about pirates!

This will be a relatively short post, since I’m writing it during my work break.

My work-in-progress for Camp NaNoWriMo July 2020 is The X of Doom, which is a novel about pirates. I can’t decide what sort of novel it should be, though, so I’m asking you, my faithful readers.

Should the X of Doom be...

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Here’s a True Fact about pirates that I’ve learned. Did you know that pirates never actually said “ARRRR”? It’s true! The pirate alphabet went directly from Q to S, and did not include the letter R. True, this sometimes led to some linguistic confusion, but these things happen.

Pandemic Blurbs

I’ve been working at home for nigh on to three months now, and I know I’m blessed to be able to do so. And so today while I take my afternoon break and listen to Queen’s Greatest Hits (which I love because it reminds me of college and also that I have to call my friend John this weekend), I’m going to spin up this blog post and let the world in on what I think of the pandemic and what I’m writing.

There’s a meme that conservatives have been sharing on Twitter which says something like, “Remember that experts built the Titanic, while an amateur built the Ark,” and relates this to the current COVID-19 pandemic which has been kicking the planet’s butt for three months now and probably won’t go away for quite some time. Why should we listen to epidemiologists and virologists and other so-called “experts” when, uh… we have gut feelings or something? This mistrust of expertise and higher thinking has been a part of American politics for centuries, odd for a country founded by a bunch of revolutionary philosophers. But it’s what we’ve got, and now we have a Presidency that’s devoted to the cause of rooting out expertise wherever it can be found.

This irritates me.

No, scratch that. It fills me with a sense of impotent rage that this sense of “my feelings are more qualified than your facts” is so prevalent in modern America. It really is a failure of the American experiment.

*Takes a deep breath*

I can’t really go into much more about that because I took my blood pressure earlier today and it already is too high. So I’m going to finish this blog post up with a list of my current writing projects. So here it is, with various projects listed in order of when I plan to get to them and finish them (though some will be concurrent with others):

  • Finish up rough draft of And the Devil Will Drag You Under. I plan to finish this up by the end of June, then I’ll let it sit for a little while before revising and submitting to my writers’ group.
  • Revise The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster. I gave this to my group a few months ago and got some really great feedback that I have yet to incorporate. I hope to start doing that this weekend, and finish this by the end of June as well. Maybe I’ll start shopping it around. Who knows?
  • Start outlining and writing my pirate trilogy. This consists of The X of Doom, The Lord of Nightmares, and The King of Oblivion. This probably won’t start happening until July. But in the meantime I’ve built a pirate-theme playlist on Amazon Music and have been listening to that a lot for inspiration. I’m also looking for good pirate movies to watch (Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies are fun, as is Swashbuckler, from 1976) and good pirate novels to read. On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers is a great one. I want to find more.

Those are all novels. I also have short stories to revise:

  • “The BIM”
  • “A Pine Romance”
  • “Sauromancy”
  • “Just Like This”

These are all stories that just need revising, though “The BIM” has been undergoing some intense structural revisions and so far has ballooned from 5,000 to 8,000 words, and probably more will be added as I work on it. I don’t have deadlines in mind for any of these. I’m taking the year off from short story submissions, mostly because I feel like I’ve run out of story/market match-ups. I need to get some new ones written and revised before I can start submitting again. I do have three outstanding submissions that I should probably query on since they’ve been at markets for over six months. So… we’ll see what happens.

That’s all I’ve got for now. My break’s just about over, as is the Queen album, so it’s time to say so long. Be well, and be safe. And be smart, for crying out loud. WEAR YOUR MASK!

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