Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Holiday Gift Guide


I signed up for the Amazon affiliate program a while back for writing/marketing reasons. In case you're not familiar with it, if you click on a link and buy something at amazon, the person who created the link may get a few cents. (It doesn't change the price the end user pays.)

Every month Amazon tells me I didn't make enough for them to bother transferring money to my account.

From time to time Amazon sends me mail full of things they think I should tell my millions of followers to buy, as if I have a lifestyle blog showcasing articles like "10 Patio Umbrellas to Match the New Season". Their suggestions are pretty ridiculous.

But this seems like something to be mined for comedy gold. So I'm going to write the article they think I should be writing with their category suggestions... except with things that I would buy.

Once again, these are all affiliate links. If you click on them and buy something, I might get a commission. But it's not enough money to really get excited about.

Customer-Favorite Gifts

Some people hate them, but I got this air fryer for Christmas and I use it nearly every day, for everything from homemade pizza to fried tofu. But wait, you say. Isn't this just a small convection oven? Yes. Yes, it is. But I don't have a convection oven and this thing is the perfect size if you live alone.

Electronic Gifts

This is the camera I bought for the kitten cam ( My current kittens are a bunch of hooligans — I finally had to mount the camera on a weighted box so they would stop knocking it over. I've already gotten far more than $35 of entertainment out of this.

The other thing I bought recently was this alarm clock that gradually lights up the room. I was too cheap to pay for the expensive brand, but this is better than nothing. Be warned — the user interface is horrendous. If you can get past that, it's useful. Because getting up when it's dark outside is bullshit.

Fashion Gifts

This category... I'm just going to lean into my status as a crazy cat lady / kitten foster. That's fashion, right?

I love this cat litter. And it's easier to pay for someone else to carry 40# to the door instead of hauling it across my yard from the garage myself.

I absolutely would buy this at the grocery store if my grocery store reliably stocked it. The 19-year-old cat finds dry food too much effort, so canned food it is!
For those kittens that are supposedly weaned but don't seem to be eating, chicken baby food works like magic. Plus, it can be loaded into a syringe if necessary.

Beauty Gifts

Got me here. I don't use much that qualifies. Oh wait, here, does this count?
B12 gummies. Think about it if you're a vegetarian.

Home Gifts

Furniture in my house is mostly just for the animals even if it didn't start out that way. But I did buy a big magnetic whiteboard recently, and it... seems to be working? I put my weekly tasks on there and it helps me remember I'm supposed to do them.

Toys Gifts For Everyone [sic]

Books are pretty much the only things I buy for myself in the entertainment category. (So go buy my books!) But I bought these for the cats...

Springs! Cats love them. Kittens love them. One person recommended getting two bags in her review and she probably has the right idea because they fit under the couch. Whoever cleans out my house after I die will probably find 50 of them. (Springs, not kittens.)


Did I do the capitalism right?

Friday, September 9, 2022

The Aftermath

 Fostering! Kittens grow into cats, but if you foster for the county shelter, you have a never-ending stream of cuteness invading your home.

So cute, right?

There is a cost, though. (Not monetary — the shelter pays for everything.) Before you bring new kittens into the space, you have to clean well enough to make sure you aren't adding new diseases to whatever they already have. 

Plus... I don't know how else to say this — kittens are gross little mess machines. I took that picture just now. I've had these kittens for two days, and I've cleaned the bathroom twice since they got here. To be fair, there were originally six of them in the room until another foster picked up three yesterday, but still.

Here's a better view of the room...

If you click to make it bigger, you can see there's litter scattered over the floor, some dried food near the plate, some dried something-that-isn't-food near the cardboard litter box in the top right, and various other bits of debris. (Just assume all kittens will have diarrhea. It's often just because they've changed food sources three times in as many days. But also, parasites...)

After these guys leave, I'll do the following:

  1. Throw out all the used litter and cardboard. (If there is leftover kibble in the bowl, the dog gets it. This is the highlight of his week.) I use a lot of boxes for hiding spaces and playgrounds because they're disposable and carpeted things are nearly impossible to disinfect. Someday, there will be a litter of kittens with ringworm and I'd like to keep that contained...

  2. Shake out the towels and run a load with detergent and bleach.

  3. Sweep up all the loose litter. Now sweep again. Keep sweeping. Litter is everywhere!

  4. Scrub / wipe down the surfaces with water to get the organic material off. (There's no point in bleaching or disinfecting if there is still organic material present.) By surfaces, I mean the floor, yes, but also the walls (where kittens will have magically flung poop up to my waist height — I don't know how they manage it), the side of the tub, the door, etc.

  5. Mop & wipe surfaces with water and a bit of bleach (1 ounce bleach in 32 ounces water) — this is quick because all the food and poop was removed in the previous step. Let everything dry.

  6. Wash the litter boxes, food bowls, and plastic toys.

  7. Set everything back up for the next bunch: clean towels, new boxes, washed bowls, toys, clean litter boxes with fresh litter.
It takes less than an hour. I put on an audiobook from the library and clean.

Have I sold you on fostering yet? Seriously, though — the cute levels are off the charts!

Friday, August 26, 2022

Still Twitching

 As a member of Gen X, I "get" some social media (FB, twitter) and absolutely don't understand other parts (TikTok, I'm staring at you here). Instagram is another thing I don't really get, but I think that might be because I'm not super visual and not just because I'm old.

But since I set up the kitten cam ( to showcase the foster kittens, I've joined the world of Twitch.  And that's just kind of funny because Twitch is mostly used by gamers. I do not game. I have never been able to get into any game. Every time I've tried, I've bumbled around for anywhere from 2-60 minutes until I've given up in frustration. And yet Twitch provides free streaming, so there I am with my kitten cam amongst the Destiny and Warhammer folks. (Did I get either of those names right?)

This leads to some hilarity because people who use Twitch will sometimes go look at other channels en masse. So suddenly there will be a comment on the kitten cam feed saying "A raiding party has arrived." (Yes, I talked to my teenaged nephew to get the scoop on what that meant.) And then I get questions like:

"Bro, where are the kittens?"

I... have never been called "Bro" before, so this has been a new experience. Also, have you ever tried to set up a camera in the guest bathroom so the kittens are always in view? It's just not possible. It was especially problematic with Humphrey, who was old enough to jump onto the counter and spent most of his time up there.

Anyhow, come check the stream! The current foster is Poppy, and she is adorable and incredibly soft. She also likes to stand right next to the door (out of camera range) calling for me to come pick her up, so I fully expect more "Bro, where are the kittens?" type comments.

She fell asleep on the back of my office chair today...

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Kittens Are Now a Legitimate Business Expense

 Look, the kittens are helping me sell my book! I can write them off on my taxes!

(Full disclosure: I am fostering them through the local shelter, and everything is provided.)

But seriously, this novella has cute critters and a veterinarian — what's not to love?

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Laundry, sweeping, scrubbing the floor...

 These kids are hilarious, but I think I spend half my day cleaning up after them.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Mobile Data

 A couple months back, I finally gave in to AT&T's begging, and let them install fiber. (The monthly fee is lower, they gave me a gift card, and it's faster — I assume they're trying to get rid of the copper lines.)

So that was all good. I don't really need the higher speeds, but the new line doesn't run under the house, so it's less likely to be eaten by squirrels/rats, which is a thing I've had problems with in the past.

Two weeks later, the city was tearing up part of the street and directing all the traffic next to the sidewalk. Important things to note:

1. The street is higher in the middle than it is on the edges, so the vehicles tilted slightly toward the sidewalk as they drove by, and

2. There's a telephone pole in front of my house seated right on the edge of the sidewalk. It is attached to a heavy cable running to the building across the street, and over the years, the pole has gradually bent toward the street. I once knocked off my side mirror when pulling into a spot in front of my house.

So a recycling truck drove down the edge of the street, snagged the pole, and scooped it up onto the truck before it could stop.

A large green recycling truck with a telephone pole resting on top.

A broken telephone pole dangling in place, with a shard sticking up from the sidewalk, and another six-foot section lying on the ground.

The good news is that nobody was hurt and that particular pole doesn't carry electricity. The bad news is it yoinked the fiber right out of my house.

They freed the recycling truck in about an hour, and replaced the pole that night. (Yes, jackhammering at midnight is great!) Two days later, AT&T came back to reconnect my fiber.

And yes, they put the pole in the exact same spot so it can happen again.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Cover Art (Day 28)

 So I ended up yesterday with a cover that was... okay, but kind of boring. Plus, I wasn't sure it really conveyed the story is a fantasy.

What I wanted was magic. Do I know how to make something magical? Absolutely not. But I figured swirls and sparkles might work. So I added some lines, pinch & swirl, and then a little Gaussian blur to make it all blend in. Then I went back and added some white points. (I'd planned to have those sparkle, but I couldn't get the sparkle effect to work the way I wanted it to.)

Anyhow, I ended up with this:

It adds a little energy, but it does look a little hokey. Still... I think it might be worth making another pass at it to see if I can make it work.

Anyhow, I went ahead and used it for the cover background, which gives this:

I don't know... It doesn't look quite as hokey, though maybe I should have the swirls stand out more. I don't know. My art sense is pretty severely impaired, so doing my own art is probably a mistake from the start.

Then I added embossing, because that's my new favorite thing.

I mean... I've seen worse covers. And it definitely brings in the magic aspect. Maybe my standards are low, but I'd consider using this. (Uh... that means I probably will use this.) This cover is growing on me.

Anyhow, that's the end of Thingadailies! We will now return to our irregularly scheduled random content.