W is for Waylaid

I often make a lot of plans for what I am going to accomplish in an evening after work, or on a weekend.

And then I come home and I sit down at the computer to do a quick catch-up on my email, or on the couch to do a few rows of knitting and…I am waylaid.

Sometimes it is only one cat.Waylaid5

Usually it is two.
2015-04-25 Waylaid1
2015-04-25 Waylaid2

And every so often, it is three.


The letter W is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Posted in Baking, Cats | 3 Comments

K is for Kittens

It has been a really long week, and I am dealing with some frustrating things at work.

So it is really nice to be able to come home, go into the spare room, sit down on the floor, and play with these.


They all have their eyes open now. When they’re awake, they are constantly active – squirming around in a pile, or in the case of a few of the orange ones, shakily exploring further and further away from the safety of their mom.


This little one in particular has been extremely exploratory. He is usually the one furthest from the nest, and of all the others, he’s the one who seems the happiest with being picked up and snuggled. Which is good. Especially this week.

The letter K is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Posted in Cats | Leave a comment

Z is for Zombies

First, I will state the obvious. I am a fan of zombies. I like (mostly) the entire genre. And it is really not a huge surprise that they’ve become so popular. Zombies cross every boundary – they can be any race, any religion, any gender, any species. Anything that can die can become a zombie.

There are, of course, a lot of different interpretations of zombies – from the mind-controlled not-really-dead ilk, to the rage-virus type (which technically isn’t a zombie, since those infected weren’t actually dead, but eh, I’ll let it slide) to the most common iteration of ‘dead person reanimates due to and wants to eat your brains’. It doesn’t really matter *how* the zombies came about; what is most important is that underlying commonality. They were dead. Now they are ‘alive’, in some form or another, and without proper control, they are very, very dangerous.

There have been a few recent shows on TV whose premise relies on zombies. Let’s start with Walking Dead.

We started watching it, when it first came out, and I admit, the first season was terrific – the story arc following this desperate band of survivors trying to figure out what to do with themselves, now that the world as they knew it is over. The zombies themselves primarily serve as background material throughout the show. The rag tag band of plucky survivors could just as easily have to battle giant mutant killer bunnies, or oncoming swarms of rabid hamsters. It’s just in this case, it’s zombies, and so they have to work around that.

The problem I have with the show, and the reason why eventually I stopped watching it, is because after a while it stopped being a show about people working to survive a desperate situation, and instead morphed into just another a show about people being horrible to each other, with the occasional zombie thrown in for dramatic tension. We stuck it out through the second season, but by about midway through the third, we were done. Even zombies couldn’t make it appealing anymore.

In contrast, and at the urging of a friend, we watched something from across the pond called In the Flesh, which takes place after a zombie apocalypse has happened, and after a cure (of sorts) has been discovered. In this case, the viewer is experiencing the plot from the point of view as the former zombies. As is often the case in shows from the BBC, the characters, and the plot, were allowed to develop slowly. If people were being horrible to each other it is because there were good, understandable reasons (unlike in Walking Dead), based on what had happened during the early days of the zombie uprising. The show allows the characters to work through all the emotions of having to now reconcile and reintegrate with people they had once been fighting, such that even when horrible things happen, you as a viewer can still sympathize with the people doing those acts. The last episode of the first season was done so beautifully that I was crying by the end. Naturally this show has not lasted nearly as long as Walking Dead, because alas, people being horrible to each other for no apparent reason always manages to be more popular (see also pretty much every ‘reality’ show on TV).

And finally, I want to mention a brand new show that is currently in its first season – iZombie. Technically it’s based on a graphic novel series, although having read the first book in that series, I will state for the record that the TV show is a bazillion times better. It’s made by the same people who did Veronica Mars, so if you liked that show (we did, a lot), you’ll likely love iZombie. The basic premise is that a young woman has been turned into a zombie, so she ends up working in a morgue (to gain access to her primary food source, of course), and also helps solve crime. Since she works in a morgue, and because she is not the only zombie, there are occasionally people being horrible to people (because that is usually how someone ends up murdered), but that is only a minor backdrop to the rest of the plot.

The letter Z is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

U is for University-ish

One of the awesome things about the internet (all hail the internet) is that it opens up all sorts of opportunities to take classes online. Occasionally I sign up for something that would be useful for work, or because it seems like something I *ought* to learn how to do to enhance my existing skills, but lately I’ve been signing up for MOOCs, purely for the fun of it. The best part about them is that you can take the tests, or not, based on how you feel. You can cram all the coursework into one week if you don’t have time to do it spread out. Your level of involvement in the discussions is entirely up to you (and if you don’t post a single response, no one will care). And if life gets in the way (like with the Mobile Game Programming course I had to sadly let slide a couple months ago), eh, you just stop logging in.

In January I went through a really interesting course called Introduction to Forensic Science, which was offered by the University of Strythclyde via FutureLearn. Over the course of six weeks the instructors posted lectures (via video) and links to articles and other related reading material, and hosted lively discussions. Each week they provided a high level overview of some segment of forensic science (which is, of course, far more time consuming, and far less accurate than CSI and all of those other crime-of-the-week shows would have you believe), and throughout the course, we were also considering one particular murder case, and using what we learned to assess what we could now know about the evidence collected. As I’ve got a science background (as rusty as it is), most of what was covered wasn’t difficult for me (although I admit to being surprised by how many people seemed to struggle with DNA – didn’t everyone learn about Mendel and his peas back in grade school?). And what I appreciated most about the course is that the case study they used did *not* have a clear cut verdict. Our class poll was pretty evenly split; at the end, the ‘guilty’ votes only won out by a percentage point or two over the ‘not guilty’ votes.

Currently I am taking two separate ethics classes via EdX (a rather amusing coincidence, as I signed up for them at two completely separate times). The first is The Ethics of Eating (put on by a couple of philosophy professors via Cornell University), and if the first week is any indication, it’s going to be an interesting class, since we’ve already tackled Food, Inc. (hint – the film has a NOT REMOTELY SUBTLE agenda), and read an article that, if I hadn’t already been extremely uncomfortable with how they were prepared in the first place, would have been more than enough to convince me to never eat a lobster again. The second course is an Introduction to Bioethics, put on by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown, and it also looks like it’s going to be really interesting. As of the first week we’ve discussed bodily autonomy; the slippery slope ethical discussions around patients making decisions to refuse treatment without which they will die, and the issue of doctors who do (or do not) honor those requests, and from the syllabus, it looks like we’ll be tackling some even more contentious issues later on.

The letter U is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

F is for Focus

I picked up my new glasses last Tuesday.

Normally when I get new glasses there’s a brief moment when my eyes try to work out that something is new, and then it’s all good. These, however, are bifocals. So the transition has been a lot more rough. Do I look straight ahead? Do I look down through the lower half that is meant to be used for close-up work? Which one should I be using for when I’m on the computer. How about for when I’m knitting. Or trying to read music.

I was really, really aware of the bifocals the first couple days (driving after switching to bifocals is certainly an interesting experience). At this point, however, most of the time I don’t even think about them anymore. But every once in a while, like during tonight’s rehearsal, boy am I reminded that I have to look at things in a new way.

– – – – –

Mom and kittens are settling in just fine, by the way. It’s clear Ruby isn’t going to transition to lap fungus right away, but she leans into our hands for head rubs and neck scritches and she deliberately shifts her body so she can get closer to the front of her box for more attention. So it’s really only a matter of time.

I set up a Facebook page for them, so you can keep up with how they’re doing here.

The letter F is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

P is for Photography

I still miss the pull-out keyboard of my old Droid phone. I miss it a LOT; it’s so much harder to type on a screen.

But there are bonuses about my new phone (Droid Turbo, since I know someone is going to ask) that make up for it. And one of the primary bonuses is the camera.

I love the camera on this phone so much. I have a little point-and-shoot-dummy camera as well, but these days I rarely use it, because my phone does just as good a job, if not better.

I know there are likely special apps I can download, but why bother when the default app lets me get pictures like this.

2014-04 ThreeGreyCats

Or this


Or this.

2015-04-17 Sherman

The letter P is brought to you by Blogging from A to Z Challenge.


Posted in Life | Leave a comment

R is for Rough

Some house guests came to stay with us today.

We weren’t actually expecting them until next weekend (and it was only this morning that we decided we were okay with taking them in in the first place), but circumstances changed, and suddenly now we’ve got visitors – a very nervous young lady and her six infant children.

They say house guests and fish start to stink after 3 days. However, this little family will be staying with us for a couple months.

Normally I might be really anxious about opening up my home to visitors, especially such a large number all at once. But, well, I think you might be able to tell why we’re both really excited to be providing a temporary home for these seven homeless souls.

Without further ado, let me introduce our temporary houseguests. Meet the Supernatural Kittens. Mom’s age is uncertain (although she seems pretty young and she’s quite small), while the babies were born somewhere around last weekend. As usual, click the pictures to embiggen.

2015-04-18 houseguests

Mom, Ruby, is extremely nervous. She’s not feral, but it’s clear she’s fearful and uncertain about humans. We can reach in and pet her, and she’ll purr and knead on her blanket, but that’s about as much as she’s willing to tolerate right now. We’re pretty sure, though, that it won’t be long before she relaxes and figures out that humans can be pretty awesome.

As for the babies, here’s a better shot. As far as we’re able to tell right now, they’re all boys.

Supernatural Kittens

You might notice that the five orange ones all look exactly alike. I’m hoping as they get a bit older they might develop some distinguishing characteristics; otherwise we’re going to have to dab some food coloring on their tummies to tell them apart until they’re old enough for collars. The orange ones are, in no particular order, Sam,Dean, Rufus, Bobby, and Castial. The little black lump to the right of the pile of orange fuzz is actually a tiny little tuxedo, who has been dubbed Crowley.

I have to tell you, this is going to be a really hard couple of months. Having to socialize half a dozen itty bitty teeny weeny kittens.

I mean, look at this. Who’d ever want to spend time with this?

2015-04-18 TinyKitten1

Yeah. Hosting these house guests is going to be rough.

The letter R is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Posted in Cats, Life | 2 Comments

Q is for Quick

I’ve done a couple 5ks over the past few years, and have gone through the Couch to 5k program (via the awesome Zombies Run! training app) more than once. But running isn’t ever going to be my thing. For one thing, I have pretty much zero speed. More importantly, running seems to be the key trigger for the exercise-induced asthma. The last few times I’ve tried to run, I just end up wheezing and gasping for breath. Kind of takes all the fun out of it (assuming there was any fun to begin with, which, hint, there wasn’t).

This, however, did not stop me from hovering over the refresh key anxiously at 9am this morning, waiting to register for this. I’ve been wanting to do that event since The Oatmeal announced the first one last year, and when I found out it was going to be in my area this year, I got super excited.

The plan, however, to circumvent the frustrating asthma issue, is to speed walk the 10k, not to run it. I was a short kid growing up and I had a lot of really tall friends. So I learned at an early age to walk really fast (and my default walking speed is *still* usually faster than most of the people around me). There’s seven months between now and the date of the event. Plenty of time for me to train myself to walk even faster, and to be able to keep up a really good speed for 6 miles, without any pesky asthma flare-ups.

Fingers crossed.

The letter Q is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

I is for Inevitable

We knew it was going to be quick. The tumor had popped up in less than two weeks so I couldn’t see that it was going to suddenly start slowing down any time soon.

She was doing more sneezing and she started pawing at her mouth, so it was obvious it was now noticeable to her, and she wasn’t as interested in food. Maybe we might have had another couple good days, or if not ‘good’, at least ‘decent’, but it would have only been for us, not for her.

Last night Richard gave her as much cream cheese as she demanded, as a last treat. Then we put her into the carrier and took her to the emergency vet. The doctor who administered the final shot was the one who saw her when all this first came up. In a way, that was a bit of a comfort because it was clear to all of us that there wasn’t really any other option.

Rosie purred the whole time, and rubbed her head on my hand, demanding attention, until she fell asleep one final time.


Rosemary: 1999-2015.

The letter I is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z challenge.

Posted in Life | 1 Comment

D is for Dirt

At last year’s Earth Week seedling swap at work, I picked up a tiny little spider plant someone had stuck into a pretty green glass jar and stuck it on my desk because I didn’t have a desk plant and I knew that spider plants were pretty hardy. And also it was free.

For the past year it has been sitting there, mostly ignored, except for the occasional time when it catches my eye and I remember to water it. Shockingly, even in a jar with nothing more than water and a couple rocks, it has managed to somehow survive.

Today I finally remembered to take the pot that’s been sitting on the front porch for weeks (specifically put there for this precise purpose) to work with me. After a lunch meeting, I carried the little spider plant in its little glass jar into the kitchen and, with some difficulty, extracted it from its rocky, uncomfortable jar, and gave it a new home.

Here is hoping that if it was strong enough to survive a year of benign neglect with no soil, that it will take to a nice big pot of dirt and start to actually thrive. Here’s also hoping that the pot didn’t pick up any extra 8-legged ‘friends’ during its time sitting on my front porch.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor in this for something. Feel free to let this be deep and meaningful, if that sort of thing appeals.

You know. Or not.

The letter D is brought to you by the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Posted in Life | Leave a comment