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A monumental Fluffdate before the solemn link roundup

Earlier this afternoon…a breakthrough.

I keep the fluff’s brush on the couch, so when he comes close enough I can hold it out for him to sniff. Sometimes even get away with a light stroke — not enough to actually reach any tangles, all it achieves is reassuring him that it’s Not Dangerous — before he darts away.

So he hops down from the windowsill, and I offer the brush for the usual investigation, and…

For a solid five minutes he just rolled around under the brush, twisting so I could get different angles, head butting up against my arm. There was, briefly but unmistakably, purring.

At first I was sure he’d lose his nerve if I reached for the phone to take any pictures. Then I risked it. He stuck around. I snapped these adorable shots. He kept it up.

It has been almost exactly 51 week since I brought him home. Just shy of a solid year. Six months ago, when people asked if he was letting me pet him yet, I told them it would be at least another six months — well, look at him now.

I got a fair amount of loose fur out of his coat. Even managed to do a bit of bare-handed skritching, long enough for me to confirm that he is Very Soft, before I got a light swat to let me know he was Done. (He sat around on the couch with me for a while afterward, though, so it wasn’t like he was mad about it.)

Wonder how long it’ll take before he comes back for more. I guess we’ll find out. Bet it won’t be as long as 51 weeks this time, though.


…the rest of this is COVID-19 news links, ordered by date.

(So, a timeline of what it’s like to live through the point in every disaster movie where the experts say “we’ve scienced up some great preventative measures here, but please, you have to do them Right Now or it’ll be too late.”)

March 11: “From a woman whose symptoms started with a fever, to a man who said he was an inch from death, coronavirus survivors have begun speaking out about the worldwide pandemic.

March 18: “Gen. Dave Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, confirmed that military cargo planes were moving coronavirus testing kits, but did not give specific details during a Wednesday briefing at the Pentagon. The general acknowledged that ‘we’ve just made a pretty significant movement into Memphis.’” …From Italy. You know, they need those in Italy.

March 22: “People say Contagion is prescient. We just saw the science. The whole epidemiological community has been warning everybody for the past 10 or 15 years that it wasn’t a question of whether we were going to have a pandemic like this. It was simply when.” Interview with Dr. Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox.

March 23: “Product distributed by Diamond [i.e. comics, especially floppy single issues, to local comic shops] and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice.

March 24: “This particular group of Chicago workers was fed up with [Amazon] failing to provide paid time off or vacation it promised to part-time workers. They organized; Amazon resisted — and at last, the coronavirus acted as tiebreaker.” Good for them.

March 24 again: “‘We saw his press conference. It was on a lot, actually,’ she said. ‘Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.’ […] They mixed a small amount of the substance with liquid to drink. Within 20 minutes, both fell ill. Her husband could not be revived in hospital and she remains in critical care.” It’s been obvious for years that Trump is a compulsive liar, and everyone who’s still ignoring that gets horrifically damaged by it eventually, but this must be some kind of record for the fastest trajectory from “trusting something he said” to “horrible consequences.”

March 25: “A 52-year-old man [from Durban, South Africa] who allegedly tested positive for Covid-19 but went back to work, has been arrested for attempted murder. ” Sounds right. If a country has specific bioterrorism laws, time to start charging people under those, too.

Various dates, on each individual photo: Reuters slideshow of the temporary hospitals and medical facilities being hastily set up around the world. It is tragic that we need these, but amazing to see the competence and dedication that’s getting them up.

May I offer you some non-awful links in this trying time

First, a quick Fluffdate: As you may remember, back in February my cat had a Vet Ordeal, and came home with, among other things, a therapeutic shave.

After he got back I rearranged some things around the apartment…which opened up The Warm Spot.

It’s a part of the floor that’s right over a hot-water pipe. Unsurprisingly, this is Marshmallow Fluff’s new favorite place to sleep. Even before I put a blanket there.

Well, as of last night, the fluff’s fur has grown back enough that he’s officially resumed a position I’ve only seen from longhair cats: Sleeping On Your Back To Air Out Your Tummy.

Look at that conked-out little face. Look at those cozy little paws.

Some links to other uplifting things to look at:

Scribd, a service for digital books/audiobooks/etc, is offering free 30-day trials with no credit card information necessary. I’m listening to books that my library doesn’t have on Overdrive, starting with Gideon the Ninth. (It’s extremely good, you guys.)

ComiXology Unlimited has gone up to free 60-day trials. (Check out the PDF downloads of But I’m A Cat Person, let’s find out what kind of royalties I get from Unlimited readership.)

Streaming platforms during quarantine (video)

Arthur Shappey, of Cabin Pressure, doing a series of “Cabin Fever” check-ins from OJS Airlines self-isolation (also video)

Twin toddlers having a solemn discussion of quarantine (adorable video)

People with recent construction or remodeling projects are advised to check your leftover supplies — some are finding unused masks. (Call hospitals before bringing anything in, to make sure you have the kind they need.)

Someone kindly masked up the Make Way For Ducklings statues in the Boston Public Garden. (Tiny fake masks, not human-sized real masks, don’t worry.)

Vintage photo of a family masked-up against the 1918 flu epidemic. That’s the archival entry on Calisphere — I saw it on Tumblr but wanted to be sure it was legit. (The Tumblr version was inset with a close-up on the cat.)

The best-laid coronavirus plans…

Well, I gave blood, and then promptly started feeling sick, so I called the follow-up number today and they’re not using it. So much for that effort :(

…nobody panic, it’s just a sore throat and feeling mildly feverish/congested, no chronic cough. Glad I stocked up the cupboards, though, so I can play it safe and stay home for a bit.

On that note: it is weirding me out how baffled some people seem at the “stock up on 2 weeks’ worth of food” precaution. I don’t mean people saying they’re on a tight budget and can’t afford it, or that they’re in a shoebox apartment and there’s no space for it, or any other specific reason — I mean people going “2 weeks’ worth of food?! Who would ever buy/store such an Unreasonable Amount all at once??”

Like…if you think about a row of 14 breakfast smoothies in the fridge, a stack of 14 cans of soup in the cupboard, and a pile of 14 TV dinners in the freezer — that’s not some mind-boggling volume of food?

I don’t maintain that level at all times, but I definitely stock up enough that I’ve gone 2 weeks between grocery runs. And could stretch it out longer in an emergency. (The meals wouldn’t exactly be fancy, or, y’know, balanced, by the end…but, look, there’s a 10-pound bag of rice in the cupboard, that’ll keep you going for a while.)

Anyway. Gonna pass on the link to the COVID-19 information and advice on FlattenTheCurve.com. Directed at US residents, so there are parts that won’t apply if you don’t live here, but if you do, it rounds up basically all the actionable info I’ve seen anywhere else. (And “dammit, wash your hands” is always relevant.)

welp, COVID-19 has officially been diagnosed in my state

And the governor has declared “a state of emergency”, which…doesn’t seem to mean anything?

Schools and businesses aren’t being suspended, gatherings aren’t being canceled, they’re not enforcing any screenings or blocking any travel, and they haven’t announced any special resources or protections for people who have symptoms. The only instructions for average people are the same as before: wash your hands, stay home if you have a fever, don’t hoard masks, no seriously Wash Your Hands.

(Done and done. Also confirmed my supply of cleaning products, and stocked up on food — including some Chinese takeout, since apparently lots of those places are losing business because racism, and I wanted to counterweight that with at least one dinner.)

I’m guessing it’s a money thing? As in, an official Declared State of Emergency unlocks special crisis-funding for some group(s) of responders who need it. But I haven’t found any reporting on who’s getting it or what they’re doing.

Via a rec from melannen, I downloaded the recent episodes from This Week In Virology for a walkthrough of what’s going on. As someone who hadn’t been following the story in any comprehensive way, just picking up bits and pieces from people mentioning it on social media: it’s very helpful! Hosted by smart, thoughtful, friendly people who can sort through all the information, deliver the important facts with historical context and expert commentary, and filter out the wild speculation/flat-out conspiracy theories so you don’t have to.

COVID-19 first comes up in #582, as a brief item of interest; episodes 584-586 and 588-present are the ones where it’s the focus.

If you just want currently-applicable advice and information, maybe skip to just the last few. At this point I’ve listened through #588, and it’s out-of-date enough that they’re still talking about how nobody outside China even needs to worry because the virus is so contained.

Gonna catch up with the rest at the library tomorrow. (It’s business as usual there, except that every department’s been shipped an extra supply of cleaning/disinfecting products, and an Informative Display Placard about things like handwashing.)

…and then give blood. To everyone who’s eligible to donate — and isn’t already restricted by quarantine measures in your area — now would be a really good time for that. If things get bad enough in your region that their access to donors is cut off, they’re gonna need all the surplus they can get.

Fanfic favorite tropes meme (and a Fluffdate)

First up — I tweeted when it happened, but in case you missed it, Marshmallow Fluff got to the vet and back. He recovered from the ordeal pretty quickly, and has re-settled into most of his old routines. Most importantly, the one where he eats.

They kept him 2 nights for observation, during which they blood-tested, rehydrated, medicated, and…shaved him.

When he’s feeling well he refuses to be touched, let alone brushed…but this’ll keep his fur from getting matted again for a while!

He weighed in at 13 pounds. This time last year, when he was originally rescued from a neglect/starvation situation, he weighed 6. This is the good life, all right.

I also finally figured out a birthday present, and got him one of those kitty drinking fountains:

I hope it’s encouraging him to drink more. He seems to like it, at least. Doesn’t smack at it the way he used to do his water bowl, and he’s experimented with drinking from different bits, at various angles.

…so now that you’re up-to-date on Cat News, here’s that fic meme.

Continue reading

Happy birthday, Marshmallow Fluff

A post with mixed news. But leaning towards the good side, I think.

Previously, on Blogging About My Cat:

The local Humane Society retrieved this little guy from some kind of neglect situation — he was malnourished, dehydrated, terribly thin, and petrified — on February 8, 2019. They decided he was about 2 years old, so they marked that day down as his birthday.

Once he was out of serious medical danger, he was transferred to a local shelter. After a couple months there without being adopted,  they transferred him to the local cat cafe. He was only there for about 3 days (huddled on a shelf, and so inactive that in retrospect I’m not sure he was eating much from the cats’ communal bowls) when I came in.

We were warned to only approach him 1-at-a-time. I did. He seemed to respond happily to gentle skritches. I took him home!

That was in April.

I managed to get this photo in May, which is how long it took Marshmallow Fluff to come out from under the bed.

Fluff in May 2019

(At first he was too scared to come out if I was in the room, even if I was asleep on top of the bed. So I spent a while sleeping on an air mattress, on the other side of a closed door, which let him feel safer to start exploring the space.)

Compare that with January 2020:

Fluff in January 2020

He’s bulked up! Fluffed out! And roaming the entire apartment! If any other humans show up, he goes back into hiding — but if it’s just me, and I stay in the same place for long enough, he’ll appear.

Continue reading

Post-Yule retrospective on the past few months

First, a PSA:

8tracks is shutting down. In 3 days. They did install an automatic “save playlist to Spotify” button to back up everything before they go…so I guess I’m finally getting a Spotify account, huh.

* * *

I got a delightful Yuletide fic!

It looks like this:

curiosity and candy (makes the world go round) (3481 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Pet Shop of Horrors
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Count D/Leon Orcot
Characters: Count D (Pet Shop of Horrors), Leon Orcot
Additional Tags: Swearing, Canon Era, Canon-Typical Behavior, Canon-Typical Levels Of BDSM References, yes this is a tag now, Yuletide, Supernatural Elements
Summary:

Word has gotten out that Leon is D’s new chosen mate, and the supernatural is pretty eager to test out his worthiness for the role.

Shame that Leon hasn’t been informed of any of this.

I also gave one, in a niche-enough fandom that it’s barely gotten any attention — but, listen, the recipient liked it, so it’s a win.

Slowly working my way through the rest of the archive, but I have a bunch of pre-Yuletide fic recs that I haven’t even queued yet…so the rec posts of not-for-me Yulefics may take a while in coming.

* * *

I subscribed to Hulu With Live TV for the month, purely so I can watch the new Steven Universe episodes before the internet has a chance to spoil them.

Seriously, the speed at which people can draw fanart of totally-new character designs is unreal.

And during the rest of the eek, I’m trying to make the most of the subscription by bingeing as much other Hulu-exclusive content as possible. Caught up on Archer and a smorgasbord of superhero movies, still working through Family Guy and The Resident, got an apprehensive eye on Stargate Universe.

Surprisingly entertained by Gary And His Demons. (Satirical commentary on Chosen One narratives, Rick-and-Morty-type dysfunction-based humor, our hero has a magical-girl-style transformation sequence for which he sings his own theme song…it’s a lot.)

…they have over 300 episodes of ER. And it’s excellent background-watching-while-making-comics TV. I may or may not end up going another month with this.

* * *

Speaking of avoiding spoilers: I saw Frozen 2!

It was enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but also awfully weird. Go watch Jenny Nicholson’s review for a good, thoughtful, funny breakdown of a lot of the reasons why.

Haven’t been any other movies since Endgame that I was really determined to see in theaters. Considered it for Star Wars: The Final Movie For Real This Time Really, but at this point I’ve been spoiled for enough of the reveals that, eh. Might as well wait until it’s out on streaming, and pick that time to do a free Disney+ trial period.

* * *

Decided to bake cookies for Christmas at the last minute, which had me trawling the internet for “recipes that can be made using the ingredients currently in my cupboards” on Christmas Eve.

Sidenote: I have seen so many retail outlets this year advertising “our stores are open on Christmas Eve! and will even have limited hours on Christmas Day!”, and, guys, that is not something to brag about. Go watch one of the thousands of adaptations of A Christmas Carol, then swallow your profit motive for a couple days and give your people the time off, already.

So I wasn’t going to go buy late-night groceries, because I am not a monster, and here’s the recipe I was able to make. It’s just flour, butter/margarine, brown sugar, and vanilla. Plus a bag of butterscotch chips, because I do what I want.

They were a hit at the family dinner! Then a hit again when I brought the leftovers to work. Go make ’em some time. Mix up the base with your own (premeditated or improvised) favorite add-ins.

* * *

WordPress was offering a deal on paid blogging plans, and it was cheap enough that I sprung for it.

…only to find out it doesn’t include any customization that wasn’t already in the free version. You have to pay twice as much to control your own CSS.

Oh well. I’ve gotten enough value out of WP over the years that they’ve probably earned the donation.

Prompted me to finally look for a new theme, too. Took way too long to find something that was (a) 2 columns, (b) didn’t collapse to 1 column when you weren’t practically fullscreen on desktop, (c) had spaces to keep all my widgets and menus, and (d) didn’t have clashing colors in places that non-paying users weren’t allowed to customize.

Came out pretty nice, I think.

The theme is Bouquet. The header image and the purple background are customizable. All the pink is one of two pre-set options (the others are blue and orange), which thankfully coordinates with the header pretty well.

Apparently it’s also infinite-scroll and I don’t know how to turn that off, but oh well, you can’t have everything.

* * *

Bumped up to the next-higher dose of Wellbutrin a couple months ago, and it’s been a smashing success.

Before the switch, it had gotten to the point where I was sleeping 10+ hours a day, and could feel the not-getting-anything-done. (Doesn’t help that I have a longer Day Job workweek these days — it’s great in most ways, but having it eat up all my awake time was a bit of a drawback.)

First week on the new dose, I felt refreshed, could focus way better, and was able to draw more than I got to do in probably the whole month before.

Turns out taking the higher dose too many days in a row leaves me not sleeping enough…but by now I’ve got the hang of swapping in the lower dose before I start to feel too wired, and it’s balancing out really well.

* * *

The last Leif & Thorn Kickstarter alternately feels like it happened forever ago, and like it just ended last week.

The first unbound proof arrived a whole month ago, in November:

I ended up tweaking both files, and asking for a new proof of just-the-cover. (There was some tricky color correction involved — you don’t know exactly how it’ll come out in CMYK until you see it in person.)

So the new one arrived…and somewhere between the file I sent and the paper coming out of the printer, the colors got changed in ways I didn’t do. Not in a way they would notice when quality-checking, either — it looked perfectly-balanced, which is the problem, it’s supposed to have a purple tint.

(Volume 1 was pink-tinted. Volume 3 — the one with the magic vine attack — will be green. Volume 4 is shaping up to be red.)

The company blamed an equipment failure, apologized, and sent a free replacement. I now have 3 separate copies of this cover, and the books themselves are gonna be in production…any day now. Depends on when people come back from vacation.

* * *

I drew 2 full pages ahead in BICP!

Then decided the events of those pages should be bumped back to happen after other events. Which leaves me in the fascinating position of “two pages of scanned and fully-polished lineart, still hasn’t gotten me ahead re: the page I’m supposed to post on Monday.”

…One of my New Year’s resolutions is to actually finish the series in 2020. Fingers crossed.

* * *

Marshmallow Fluff continues fluffin’ along.

I did a family visit that left him alone for the weekend, and he seems to have coped just fine:

No special Christmas dinner for Fluff, because he started turning up his nose at canned food a while back. I figure it’s a good thing — he’s no longer afraid of imminent starvation, so he feels secure enough to be picky — but it really cuts down on my “treats to provide for special occasions” options.

He also sometimes sits on one end of the couch while I’m sitting on the other! And almost relaxes. I get the joy of having a judgmental mop staring at me.