Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Cat Shaped Hole In A Snowbank

I haven't mentioned this yet, but back in January I ended up adopting two kittens, both about nine months old. One is gray with a little bit of while on his belly and named Popper, while the other is a muted calico (a way of describing a cat's coloring I did not know until I took her to the vet) named Gizmo.

In the couple months I've had them they've both gotten their shots and been fixed, so I don't need to worry about kittens suddenly filling up my small apartment (whew!). It has been an adjustment though. I was used to living alone and not having to worry about anyone but myself. It was lonely, but at the same time I've lived with other people so it was nice for the last couple years to have a place to myself.

Now I'd been thinking about adopting a cat for awhile now, because as I said it was lonely but not lonely enough that I wanted to find a roommate any time soon. So when a friend of mine mentioned that his brother in law had two kittens that needed a home, I ended up meeting the two little buggers and falling in love with them on the spot.

So, what does all of this have to do with a cat shaped hole in a snowbank? Well, it seems that Popper, the male of the two, decided that the box-spring on my bed was a great place to burrow into and make a nest. I'd been finding fluff from something around the apartment for the last few days, and then yesterday I caught the bugger hiding in the box-spring, the one that he had torn large holes into and basically shredded the underside.

Oh boy, was I mad at this point. I know, it's instinctual behavior, it's not his fault, yadda, yadda, yadda. Still, anyone's first instinct upon seeing the damage would be anger. At that point Popper was lucking I'm a few floors up, otherwise there would have been a cat shape hole in a snowbank.

Thankfully it was on Saturday I discovered this, so I had a chance to go to kendo class and wear down my anger, so that when I returned that night I wasn't still fuming. I did pick up a few things on the way home from kendo. First, I purchased this "No Stay" spray that's supposed to have a scent that will keep cats away from things. It's the second such product I've tried with these two, and after I sprayed it under the bed Popper went over and took a big sniff and then basically shrugged his kitty shoulders. Later I found him under the bed again. So that was a bust.

The other thing I purchased were these double-sided sticky strips. I bought them to use on my kitchen sink cabinet, as both cats love to open that one and the cabinet in the bathroom. I don't want them getting into any of the chemicals stored there, and the constant sound of them banging open the cupboards was getting annoying. So far that seems to have worked like a charm, so I decided to use a line of strips around the bed to see if that will keep the little bugger from going under.

Why am I so concerned about him getting into the box-spring? Well, I don't know all that's under there and if it could be harmful if ingested, especially since some of what I'd been finding was obviously foam and not just the felt that had been torn. I don't want to end up taking either of them to the vet. Also, dang it, I don't want my stuff destroyed any more than it has already been.

My mother suggested something as well. I should get them a covered cat bed, since obviously Popper at the very least feels the need to have something over top of him. I guess I'll have to look into it.

Cats. They're a pain in the but sometimes, then they curl up in your lap and fall asleep and you end up forgiving them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Dork Guide to Dealing With Other People

Alright, this post is in reply to something seen over on Blag Hag the last few days. Specifically this post.

To sum things up, two ladies went to an atheist event and a few things happened that pointed out how women are not made to feel welcome at such events. Some comments were made, some feelings were hurt, and a bad impression was generated.

Please understand I am giving you a small summary of a much larger post/issue rather than reposting it here. My intention is not to make light of the situation, and I'm just trying to give the reason why I'm posting the following. Please go and read the original post so that you may understand what exactly happened.

So, with that in mind it occurred to me that a guide on how to deal with others, a cheat sheet for public interaction might be in order. What qualifies me to provide this you may ask? My day job is technical support/customer service for a large public entity that deals with people of various races, colors, creeds, and genders. I deal with people on the phone on a daily basis, so yes, I do have some experience in this area.

So, here are some guidelines for dealing with others:

1. Don't be a dick.

Really, I shouldn't have to write this. It's a basic rule, made much more popular thanks to Mr. Wil Wheaton, but it seems it needs to be said. So how do you know if you're being a dick? Ask yourself if the way you're treating someone else is the way you would want to be treated is the way you would want to be treated. If it's not, then you're being a dick.

2. Understand that people are different, and that they may not want to be treated the same way you would want to be treated.

This ties into number 1. Yes, you should treat people the way you would want to be treated, but you need to keep in mind that their culture may make it likely they may not react well to being treated a certain way. When dealing with someone from a different culture be extra careful until you know them well enough to know what will cause them offense.

3. Biology is not an excuse.

This goes for both men and women. Men, you have a penis and it's a great thing. I know, I have one too. However, just because we have one doesn't mean we get to let it do all our thinking. Drooling over a woman you find attractive is not permissible, and the fact that it's "a natural drive" is no excuse. We are not just animals so act like it.

And ladies, don't think you are immune from this rule as well. I'm not going to specify anything for fear of offending someone (yes I'm following my own damn rules and being thoughtful), but please be aware of how your body affects your mind before making a comment.

4. Master the art of telling people to "gent bent" without actually saying that.

Yes, it is possible to call someone an idiot without actually using the word. And it is a hell of a lot more satisfying, especially if they are too dumb to realize what you just called them. Now, this is a learned skill that takes a lot of practice, and generally you get said practice by interacting with a lot of stupid people. I've had a lot of practice with this. Not at my current job of course.

5. Welcome other points of view, listen to them, and then respond appropriately.

Now this sounds rather basic doesn't it. I mean, what could be more simple than listening? Actually, a lot of things. I know, I've actually taken training to practice "active listening". It's not an easy skill to master, as it involves pushing aside preconceived notions and actually trying to understand what the person is saying.

The second part of this guideline is just as important. Once you understand what the person is saying, respond to it in a manner that won't offend them unduly. For instance, if someone makes a statement you don't agree with, and after actively listening to it you realize that they are acting under a mistaken assumption or faulting data, gently tell them what you've found to be correct and provide sources so that they can confirm on their own. If it's a matter of opinion that can't be verified by outside data then be sure to state it's your opinion and provide the reasoning behind it. Never at any point take on a mocking or condescending tone, as this will surely turn the other person against you and make any efforts you've made to convince/educate them moot.

The only caveat to this guideline is if the person proves themselves to be an irredeemable idiot after an extended conversation. If they do so, please see guideline 4 above and have fun.

That's all I have at this point. If anything I have said above offends you then I humbly apologize and seek your forgiveness, not for saying it but for giving offense. Everything I've said is true from my point of view, and if you can't see it in your heart to forgive me, then please refer to guideline 4 and have a nice day. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Importance of Checking Convention Websites

So you register for a convention that's going to be months ahead in the future. You've been there before, had a great time, so signing up for the next year is a foregone conclusion. No need to check the website for the con, as you've already made your decision, right?

Wrong! You can miss out on opportunities that way, especially if you're attempting to become an author.

I'm signed up for Ad Astra this year and looking forward to it. As I've said before, I had a blast last year and I'm looking forward to going and seeing some great people and attending some interesting panels. And that is what this post is all about.

Recently I checked out the website for Ad Astra to see if they'd started posting what panels were going to be run this year, and lo and behold what do I find but a "speeddating" event matching up writers with editors/agents/publishers. Oh what fabulous day! Surely I will attend this and find someone who will take by newly written novel (which I'm still in the process of writing but hope to have done by the end of March, nearly 48000 words written so far thank you very much).

But there's gotta be a catch. So, wanting to be sure I get a chance to get in and dazzle the literary gatekeepers instead of being left out in the cold I emailed the con staff asking if registration for the even was required. Turns out this was a good idea as, yes, registration would be required but they were still sorting things out and would put my name down as interested. Whoo Hoo!

So, checking a con's website every now and then even if you've already signed up is a good idea. Otherwise, you may miss out on a great opportunity.