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who turned off the summer?

Seems like the whole weather flipped a switch the other night. On Wednesday I had the windows open, computer sitting on ice packs to help it not overheat, and wasn’t layering up at all to go to work…Thursday, wham, I’m closing the windows, pulling out extra blankets, wearing a sweater and a coat to go out.

Nothing against sweaters, but oof, me and my two smelly cats are gonna miss having a fresh breeze going through the house.

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Just as I get comfortable with “Kickstarter’s not going anywhere with their Mystery Blockchain Protocol, at least not in the foreseeable future, it’s still safe to run a campaign there for now,” then Deviantart turns around and starts flirting with blockchain nonsense. Deviantart! You were the chosen one the only major site making an active effort to protect artists against blockchain fraud! What happened??

…okay, okay, we know what happened. Current holders of crypto can’t actually get money out of the system unless they can convince new suckers to put money in, which means “bribing sites like DA and KS to drag in new suckers” is a good long-term investment.

Still a nasty twist to wake up to.

I know no amount of comments that outline how NFTs are a predatory pit of scams is going to outweigh whatever check they’re cashing from the crypto industry, but I left one anyway.

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Spent the past week or so in a real downswing of low energy and high executive-dysfunction. I have all these small, relatively simple tasks to do, but getting over the hump to actually start each one? Gonna need to go take a nap first.

(The Fluff thinks this is a great deal. He loves an extra snooze. And Fiddlesticks doesn’t hang out on the bed, which makes it a nice safe territory where Fluff doesn’t have to worry about defending his honor as Top Cat.)

I’ve been trying to put “have a nap” higher on the coping-strategy list than “chug another energy drink.” Probably healthier! Not as good a deal for the to-do list.

…also, not a great state to be in when you’re gearing up for a crowdfunding campaign. But it’s not like I work better without a deadline. So we’re moving right along.

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True story, the one thing I can reliably-and-consistently focus on right now is “writing more Moon Knight fanfiction.”

Using incentives like “you can write another chapter of Fic X once you finish Task Y” has been…moderately effective.

(I like this show a normal amount, I swear.)

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A “look, I agree that you did good, but you sure could do better” type of vent

So there’s this Disney series of shorts about Baymax (the healthbot from Big Hero 6), and this clip is going around, where Baymax goes through the “clueless non-period-having adult is dispatched to get emergency products for a teen/tween girl who’s trapped in a bathroom, oh no” gag.

Good: child-friendly media is acknowledging that periods exist!

Also good: one of the people who advises Baymax on period products is a guy in a giant unambiguous trans-flag shirt!

Still good: the stock joke in this scene is no longer “women treat the hapless shopper as some kind of suspicious pervert, because the idea that he might have a tween girl to shop for is totally unimaginable”!

All that is positive and I’m here for it.

But.

I’m still annoyed that the stock joke in this kind of scene is now “hapless shopper can’t figure out all these mysterious products, ends up buying one pack of each just to be safe.”

Why would you do that. Why??

If you were making an emergency run on somebody else’s behalf for tissues, you wouldn’t stand in the tissue aisle and go “oh my god, should I get 2-ply or 3-ply? Do they want the ones with lotion or aloe? Fragrance-free, chlorine-free? How much recycled content is acceptable?? I better bring back 20 boxes of tissues, that’s the only way to make sure my friend gets the correct nose-blowing experience.”

No, you would get one (1) box of tissues — probably the one that was cheapest! — and be done.

Just get one box of pads. That’s all.

If you want more details, I recommend looking for the words “basic”/”regular” and “unscented”/”plain”, but honestly? In the “helping a tween girl stuck in a bathroom” situation, you don’t need to track any of that. Just remember “pads” and you’re covered.

Your job here is not to get her the Perfect Menstrual Product Experience. All she needs is to get from the bathroom to a place where she can restock — maybe she has more supplies at home, maybe she’s going shopping too — without bleeding through her clothes along the way.

Literally any pads in the Feminine Hygiene aisle will handle that.

And, look, maybe the writers are trying to counteract humanity’s chronic “cis men making all kinds of stupid and dangerous laws based on wild misconceptions about how uteruses work, while being convinced that they know everything and are totally qualified” problem.

But I feel like “periods are an exotic and overwhelming mystery, anything period-related is automatically super-complicated and can’t possibly have a simple solution” is…just another strand of that same problem.

Some things have simple answers! It would not be impossible or overwhelming for a well-meaning cis man, and/or balloon robot who goes by “he” but has no biological organs of any kind, to learn a few basic pointers.

Granted, it’s harder than it should be, because a lot of the resources are made by people who think “this is impossible or overwhelming to learn, so we won’t even try to teach it.”

Resources like, ooh, let’s say…an educational cartoon where each episode is about a friendly robot nurse helping one of his neighbors with a health problem?

Crazy idea, I know, but it just might work.

Bonus: while writing this post, my browser spellcheck flagged “uteruses” as a word it doesn’t recognize. For comparison, it doesn’t flag “follicles” or “aortas” or “penises” or “kidneys” or “ventricles” or “testicles.” The mystique of “this topic is sooooo exotic and complicated that you shouldn’t even bother trying” is so widespread, it even affects which plural nouns someone thought were worth putting in a dictionary.

Meet the Cat challenge: Fiddlesticks

As of recently, I have two cats! Let’s get to know the other one.

Round sleeping Fiddlesticks on cat bed with tongue sticking out

My name is: (Chocolate) Fiddlesticks

My nicknames are: Fiddles, Fuzzy, Sneezy, little old lady

My breed is: domestic shorthair (black-and-brown tortoiseshell)

My age is: 10 and a half years

I have lived here for: 2 months

My favorite human food: none yet, but let me sniff it all anyway, just to be sure

My favorite things to do: nap, monitor the view out the window, ignore the Secondary Cat, steal the Secondary Cat’s food (until it was hidden somewhere I can’t find it), accept chin skritches, be admired like the queen I am

My favorite room in the house: the living room, it has my viewing window, multiple soft napping locations, and my tall carpeted throne

Do I snore?: no, but I have a chronic condition that means I sneeze A Lot

Fiddlesticks on top of cat climber
Fiddlesticks diligently drinking out of toilet
Fiddlesticks sprawled with feet hanging off edge of cat bed
Fiddlesticks perched on end of couch with Fluff looking up at her from floor

Meet the Cat challenge: Marshmallow Fluff

Not gonna get around to an updated About Me post with personal details any time soon, so instead, please enjoy some cat pictures.

Fluffy with paw planted decisively on edge of laptop

My name is: Marshmallow Fluff

My nicknames are: Fluffy, Mister Fluff, Fluff’n’stuff, Fluffernutter, Troublemaker

My breed is: domestic longhair

My age is: 5 this past February

I have lived here for: 3 years and a few months

My favorite human food: none, give me cat treats please

My favorite things to do: eat, play with balls and stuffed mice, stare intently at bugs, get fur on everything, hide from strangers, cuddle, keep tabs on the Suspicious Intruder Cat

My favorite room in the house: the bedroom, with my food, my warm spot to lie on the floor where the radiator pipe runs under it, and my safe space under the bed where nobody can get me

Do I snore?: yes, and my nose whistles when I do

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The other kind of “bringing home a new cat” experience

Marshmallow Fluff, first 48 hours: This place has one (1) safe spot, under the bed, and I will stay put right here forever

Chocolate Fiddlesticks, first 5 minutes: I will systematically stand on every available surface to choose my Pride Rock

Tortie standing on stove

…so, yeah, I got a new cat.

Way back when, I decided “if the fluff can get through a year with no emergency health issues, I’ll see if he can handle a second cat.” The deadline passed recently, so I’ve been watching the “Meet the Cats” page on the local cat cafe. A lot of the cats get snapped up pretty fast, but this one black-and-brown tortie just stayed and stayed and stayed…

I went in, decided I liked her, and called dibs.

Tortie sprawled on coat

Fiddlesticks is twice Fluffy’s age (10 years), half his size (a little old lady!), and 100% his opposite in temperament. She’s been here for a week, and was totally comfortable from minute one.

She came with the “fiddlesticks” part of the name, which I’m retconning to mean “chocolate fiddlesticks” so we can keep having a dessert-based name theme.

Tortie eating with feet in food dish

At first I kept the fluff in the bedroom with the door closed, Fiddles in the kitchen with a makeshift barricade in the doorway, and I traded off which one got access to the rest of the house.

Kept both of them shut in at night just to be safe, which worked out, because it turns out Fiddles really really wants to be where the action is. Jumped over the first barricade…jumped over the taller replacement barricade…couldn’t jump barricade #3, but managed to knock a box askew and get underneath it.

Tortie jumping on chair

She doesn’t even want attention or cuddles when she gets through! She’s happy to get petted, but mostly wants to go back to napping on a soft surface.

Trouble is, it can’t just be any soft surface. It has to be Where The People Are.

Tortie sleeping on bed full of plushies

Brought her home on Monday night. As of Wednesday, I was holding the fluff up to look over the barricade, and he was growling a little at the horrifying intruder. But not freaking out and bolting the way he does with strange humans! Which was promising.

Wednesday night, both of them were curious about what was on the other side of the barricade…

Fluff staring at wall of boxes

So I let Fiddles come through for a visit.

It lasted about 30 seconds. Fluff didn’t bolt, which was sort of unexpected, but he hunched up and backed away and made this very sad keening noise. Totally unfazed Fiddlesticks barely looked at him before wandering past. When she got between him and his escape route, I figured it was time to pick her up and move her out of the room.

(You wouldn’t know it from how calmly she sits, but this little lady becomes a flailing mess if you pick her up. Whatever she was sitting on — laundry, towel, carpet — it’s coming up after her, because she grabs it with all the claws.)

Fiddles loafing on a coat

The fluff is getting extremely spoiled through all of this. Every time he bravely survives an interaction with the Intruder Cat, he gets treats.

Fluff emerging from under bed for treats

Thursday night, I held him up for a viewing, and he didn’t growl at all…so I let Fiddlesticks out again, and the two of them spent a good half-hour in the same room.

Fiddles parked herself on a soft blanket and didn’t move. After about 15 minutes of this, Fluff decided it was an acceptable risk.

Fluff sitting in one corner of frame, Fiddles on blanket in other corner

As of Friday, the barricade is mostly dismantled, so Fiddles can go in and out of the kitchen freely.

Fluff gets shut in the bedroom overnight. Turns out he prefers to stay there during the morning/afternoon, so I leave the door closed — mostly to keep Fiddles from bothering him.

(If she’s allowed in, they won’t fight or anything…but she will help herself to his expensive prescription food. And avail herself of his box.)

Fluff asleep with face plonked down

The kitty fountain is in the living room, and so far they’re managing to share that nicely.

…Fiddles also discovered a fresher source of water in the next room.

Fiddles drinking out of toilet bowl

Doors get opened during the evening/night, the cats can mingle freely, and I keep an eye out to monitor anything that goes wrong. So far, peaceful coexistence is happening!

By which I mean, lots of wary curiosity from the fluff, and lots of total indifference from Fiddles. If she’s walking past him, once in a while she’ll slow down for a sniff, but that’s about it.

Fluff investigating a sleeping Fiddles

…What I really need is a door that the fluff can go through, but Fiddlesticks can’t. A nice boundary around his food and his safe spaces that automatically enforces itself, so he doesn’t have to.

Unfortunately, I think the only way to manage that involves special cat doors that take signals from collars. And installing one of those is…outside the scope of my lease.

Face-to-face Fluff and Fiddles inspecting each other

But so far? This is working out okay.