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I got a new cat! — the full Fluffstory (thanks to @affoGATOcatcafe) April 11, 2019

Posted by Erin Ptah in Personal.
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Mom was in town last week, so we hung out on Friday…and obviously had to visit Cleveland’s new cat cafe.

I wasn’t committed to getting a cat that day, but I was generally in the market for one, with these criteria:

  • A shy cat, maybe one that was rescued from a bad situation, who specifically needed a quiet home with one patient human + few visitors + no other pets
  • Any age, so long as it was housetrained
  • Any breed/appearance/coat length, so long as it had a distinct appearance from all the other cats I’ve lived with
  • Any gender, so long as it was spayed/neutered
  • Had all its shots in general, and no health issues that would put its care out of my budget

So we show up at the cafe, the staff give us a quick rundown of how to behave inside, they usher our whole group into the Cat Room…and there, curled up on a wall shelf across from the door, is Fluffy.

He’s of the cats they specifically called out beforehand, saying “don’t approach him in large groups or you’ll scare him, just go up one at a time, and give him a chance to get used to you.” I walk up slowly and give him some gentle skritching. After cautiously tolerating it for a bit, he leans into it.

I did check out the rest of the room — petted/hugged/played with various other cats — but at the end of the hour, I put a hold on Fluffy.

(There was one other “shy cat, needs patience” described on the board, and she put up with petting when I checked her out, but never showed any sign of indulging in it.)

And by evening, he was hiding in my bathroom!

Fluffy

Living up to his name, he’s a long-hair mix. Instead of totally renaming him, I’m making “Fluffy” a nickname for a longer full name TBD. (The realtime Twitter thread has a bunch of the possibilities.)

He’s mostly white-furred, with cookies’n’cream black spots (Fluffies’n’Cream!), and chronically-suspicious green eyes.

The Fluffmeister was an “on-site surrender” in a humane incident, meaning his original home got reported to the Animal Protection League as unsafe, and a team went to pick him up. (Along with one other cat, who was more sociable, and got adopted earlier.) At the time, he was underweight and dehydrated — the APL shelter put him on a special diet at first, to get his weight back up.

Fluffy

Even now, he only weighs 6 pounds. The fluff looks even fluffier because his actual frame is so tiny. And he’s 2 years old — gotta wonder if this was always his potential full size, or if he was underfed going back to kittenhood, and it stunted his growth.

(My aunt’s cat weighs 12 pounds. My parents’ last cat weighed 18. Not because of obesity or anything, either, he was just big.)

On the first night, April 5, Brave Sir Fluffs-a-lot tried a couple of different hiding places, ending up under the daybed in the living room:

Fluffy

Fluffy

Along with some boxes of Leif & Thorn books, and other convention merch.

In the bathroom I’d petted him and coaxed him to eat some treats. Here I put his food bowls under the end of the daybed, and he ate while he could see me in range to see him. So far, so good.

Then on the evening of the 6th, I did one last check-in before going to bed…and he wasn’t there! At some point he’d made a break for my bedroom. Managed to get there without me even noticing.

Fluffy

(The white stuff on the floor is bits of styrofoam, from when the bed was unpacked. Until now, I had no reason to try to get under there and sweep it up.)

Also, he’d done his business there, instead of in the provided litterbox. Sigh.

So that night we both slept in the bedroom — me on top of the bed, him underneath. It’s the only room (other than the bathroom) with a door that closes, and I kept him shut in there for the day. At this point he was only eating when I was out of the room, so I held off on any further petting.

Tempting though it was.

Still no use of the box, though, and on the afternoon of the 7th, Floofatron 3000 went and peed on the bed. I did some cleanup work, and then, since the mattress was too big to offer any chance of hauling it out of the room, I managed to upend it against the wall.

Ooh, he did not like that. The mattress was by itself on top of the slats of the bedframe, so it was the biggest part of his shelter, and having it removed was a Terrifying Ordeal.

I briefly planned to relocate him to the bathroom. At the cat cafe he’d been incredibly easy to scoop up and pour into his carrier, and he was quiet and docile throughout the car rides, even during our stop at the APL for microchipping. Should be easy to move him again, right?

…yeah, not so much. Not right after the Ordeal. (I like to hope he also had more energy from getting regular meals — the crowd at the cat cafe might’ve intimidated him away from his bowls.)

I did finally corner him, got a hiss and a scratch, and started formulating a new plan based on leaving him in a cat-proofed bedroom.

…and it’s working pretty well so far!

Fluffy

The Terror That Fluffs In The Night finally started using his litter by the night of the 8th, once I squeezed the box into a corner where he’d peed before (and removed the mattress as an alternative). Here he is under the de-mattressed bed.

The boxes/suitcase are positioned to keep him from climbing into the under-bed drawers. There are some thinner boxes under the under-bed drawers, to keep him out of that narrow space. Cleaning supplies are on-hand.

(And I’m sleeping on…the daybed. It’s fine, I spent the first month at this place with no furniture.)

His new favorite place is up on the windowsill. It’s about the height and size of that shelf he had at the cafe — and part of it is sheltered by the upturned mattress.

Looking real suspiciously at his food in this shot, but it still disappears when I’m not in the room, so it can’t be too bad.

His other favorite place is the new highest point in the room…the top edge of the mattress itself!

Fluffy

I’m not putting his food up there. Sir Edmund Fluffery will just have to venture back down when he’s hungry.

We had our current routine established by the 9th. I check in a few times a day, to refresh his food, clean his box, maybe leave some treats, and say calming things while standing at a safe distance.

On the 10th I called the APL, just hoping to chat with a worker who’d handled him during the 2-ish months he was at the shelter, get some insight…

…and had a lovely talk with someone who said “he was one of my favorites, I would’ve adopted him myself, but my home isn’t the quiet space he needs.”

New insights:

  • At the shelter it took The Fluffington Post about a month, with consistent routines, to start feeling comfortable and letting people pet him. Longer than I expected based on his first-night performance, but not longer than I’d bargained for.
  • Sounds like he hissed/swatted at them on a more regular basis until he adjusted, so he’s at least starting on a better footing here than he did there.
  • Took him that long to start playing with toys, too. And he’d stop if he noticed you looking.
  • He’s not picky at all about food — and will work up to being very food-motivated — but in the beginning he only felt safe eating at night. Which I had noticed, but was getting the data muddled by thinking “maybe he doesn’t like this flavor” instead of “oh, shouldn’t have put this out in the morning.”
  • He does have this weird way of eating, very slow, one piece at a time. Someone at the cafe speculated to me that she thought he’d lost some teeth. The person from the APL couldn’t confirm or deny that, but she did say they didn’t find anything to be medically concerned about.
  • He always sat on the highest shelf in his kennel at the shelter, too!

So it might be a while before he does anything worth sharing new photos of. Unless people (other than me) would be excited to see “aww, look, he’s sitting on his shelf some more!”

But now that we have a routine set up that covers all the basics, he’s going to get all the time he needs to get comfortable and come out of his shell.

In the meantime, I’m leaning towards Marshmallow Fluff as his full name, so I can make jokes about his great shelf life.

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#WizardWorld Cleveland 2019: livetweeting roundup March 11, 2019

Posted by Erin Ptah in Fandom.
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Did my first Wizard World this year — not in Artists Alley, didn’t get under the sign-up cutoff, but I’m so local (to the Cleveland version) that it made sense to go just for market research. (Also, fun. There was that too.)

So here’s how that went.

Friday

guy stopped at a booth trying to guess the ID of a magnificent X-Men cosplayer. She’s trying to give hints, saying her powerset, striking the movie-poster pose…he seems to be naming random well-known female characters, nobody she looks like at all.
6:21 PM – 8 Mar 2019

I walk past behind him and call, “Psylocke!” Cosplayer lights up, nods/waves. Dude doesn’t even register it, keeps trying to guess.

Kinda wish I’d stayed around long enough to hear whether he ever figured it out.
6:26 PM – 8 Mar 2019

He was in anime cosplay, so a genuine geek! Just…overconfident about the percentage of X-Men lore he’d picked up. (Dude, the lady wearing jet-black hair is not iconic redhead Jean Grey, nor iconic skunk-stripe-head Rogue…)
8:30 PM – 8 Mar 2019

Kid watching me draw: “Wow! That looks like a real cartoon!”

And then he asked if my eraser was a lucky rock.
7:57 PM – 8 Mar 2019

Jewelry vendor showed off rack of earrings, earnestly told me “they’re for pierced ears, but we can make any of them into clip-ons too!”

…I think she was just rattling off a stock speech out of nerves, because there’s no way I look THAT young.
9:53 PM – 8 Mar 2019

Saturday

#WizardWorldCleveland gotta get some loud-voiced volunteers to hold up Line Ends Here signs.

The entry queue has aisles drawn in tape on the floor. Nobody’s looking at those, just milling around in a confused blob, and blocking the escalators while they’re at it.
3:26 PM – 9 Mar 2019

Audience member at Diversity in Comics panel complains about “the need to put a gay black trans character in every TV show.” Uh, what shows are you watching, and can I get recs?
3:49 PM – 9 Mar 2019

Complaints about “forced” diversity and how it doesn’t work…in between acknowledging the smash successes of Miles Morales, Kamala Khan, and black Nick Fury. Guys. Listen to yourselves.
4:02 PM – 9 Mar 2019

…anyway, the current Leif & Thorn arc involves a pan black trans woman, who is also a single mom with a disability, which is not something you have to “force” because none of those traits make any of the others less likely! That’s not how it works!
11:42 PM – 9 Mar 2019

Trauma presentation that followed was way better prepared and researched. (Speaker even used “triggered” accurately!) And he’s persevered really well through the lack of any techie stopping by to hook up his Powerpoint.
5:14 PM – 9 Mar 2019

First con I’ve been to that was so vendor-focused. There’s only about 3 programming things going on at any time…and most of them are *outside* the gated threshold where they check wristbands.
6:20 PM – 9 Mar 2019

Inside is the dealers’ room/artist alley, and lots of carefully-scheduled autograph sessions. Plus a few live drawing type events, a photoshoot booth, and places to play games/read manga.
6:23 PM – 9 Mar 2019

Also a stage with live musical performances, but it’s right by the entrance, so you can hear perfectly fine from the lobby. You could show up without a ticket and have most of the non-shopping part of the experience for free.
6:27 PM – 9 Mar 2019

Indie comics panel. Q: why indie? Most panelists talk about the various joys and advantages of going your own route. Last one in the line says “Marvel told me no.”
6:47 PM – 9 Mar 2019

… and the less funny follow-up is, he stood in line to get Marvel portfolio reviews for years, followed their recommendations, finally someone said “you really are improving, we’ve seen, it’s great, but we still won’t hire you because your style is too urban.”
6:49 PM – 9 Mar 2019

MC of the costume contest, pre-show banter with the audience, someone mentions Evangelion. “Is THAT how you pronounce it??”
8:57 PM – 9 Mar 2019

I only came here to sit in the back and listen to entertaining banter while I draw, but now I’m legitimately invested in who wins.
9:24 PM – 9 Mar 2019

Only an honorable mention for Flamenco Wonder Woman? She was robbed.
9:30 PM – 9 Mar 2019

Well-deserved prizes for color-changing Sleeping Beauty and gorgeous ballgown Him!

The other winners had high quality and technical precision, but my favorites are the ones that do something special and different with the characters.
9:36 PM – 9 Mar 2019

A stunningly detailed Ruby and Sapphire were also robbed, btw. Had the bad luck to end up in crowded and competitive categories, but even so…
9:39 PM – 9 Mar 2019

Sunday

I’ve been wearing my Kyuubei hat all weekend, and not a single person has accepted a contract to be a magical girl :(
12:55 PM – 10 Mar 2019

First person in the room for the @3geekspodcast pre-recording banter. At least one of them considered it!
12:57 PM – 10 Mar 2019

Razzing the audience: “This lady in the back is doing her homework.” Me: it’s a webcomic!

And y’all coulda given me a shoutout. (http://leifandthorn.com , volume 1 on sale now)
1:29 PM – 10 Mar 2019

Honestly bummed to walk out before the end, but the schedule overlapped with the LGBT panel and I wanted this one more.
1:33 PM – 10 Mar 2019

LGBT panel was well worth the whole thing. Speaker didn’t use stage or microphone, just hung out in the seats with about 8 of us clustered around. Lots of feelings.
3:02 PM – 10 Mar 2019

Dithered over a bunch of Sunday deals and multifandom merch, but I’ve only ultimately spent $6. Maybe I’ll circle one last time and look for last-second deals on the way out…
3:06 PM – 10 Mar 2019

Secret blog-only follow-up: I got a cookie. When I walked past one of the fandom snack booths, there was a Batman-themed cookie, and I considered getting it for my aunt (her cat’s name is Batman), but it was unnervingly expensive.

So I told myself I’d come back at the very end, and in the last 30 minutes, I did. There were finally some low-price deals — and the Batman cookie was one of only 2 left on the plate. I figured it was a sign.

Cat appreciation post January 1, 2019

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Finishing up the December talking meme, a respectably-short amount of time into January: Kaldra wanted me to write about cats.

Cats are great. They’re beautiful, they’re nerds, they’re helpful, they’re doofuses, they’re adorable. I finally got on Instagram this year, and I’m making sure my gallery has a healthy proportion of cats, because I have a heck of a backlog of photos and it’s not like I’m doing anything else with them.

I’ve spent basically all my adult life having Housemates With Cats. This is the beautiful fluff I’ve been living with since summer:

Cat on sketchbook

He is the cuddliest critter you ever will meet. He insists on sitting on my sketchbooks, sometimes when I’m in the middle of drawing in them. Every night when I go to bed, he follows me in and spends several minutes diligently licking my face.

I’m scheduled to move out tomorrow, to a place with no housemates, much less cats. Yet. There are vague cat-acquiring plans farther in the future. (I definitely want to get all the furniture in place first.)

One more cat on the couch July 21, 2017

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This guy is safely back at the local shelter where he came from.

The name on the shelter paperwork is Eli, so that’s what I’m going to call him, not the name picked out by the roommate who brought him home and then wasn’t around to take care of him.

Eli is super shy and super timid, but also totally mellow — even when he was scared he never bit or scratched, just hid. In the three weeks he was at the flat, there was literally one time when he felt safe enough to approach a human on his own volition. Then he got spooked again, and there weren’t enough days to re-reassure him before returning him to the professionals.

But I did get photos of him on the couch.

Petting for a sweet boy.

I hope he gets adopted by someone he can climb all over.

I didn’t have enough cat links or enough linguistics links for a full post. July 18, 2017

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Linguistics links:

Nothing new under the sun: “in tibullus 1.8 (a poem about his boyfriend Marathus) has this line about “pugnantibus linguis” (literally battling tongues) which means that the idea of tongues battling for dominance in homoerotic fiction has been going on since at least the 1st century bce

From Seaspeak to Singlish: cool English dialects and English-based creoles.

Hawaiian pidgin has a great all-purpose noun — it’s “you-know-what”, “whatchamacallit”, “so-and-so”, and “the thing” all at once.

Cat links:

Before there were laptops, cats were happy to sit on our portable typewriters.

“I was right there in case he got upset — I was expecting him to hiss or growl or slink away. But then one of the ginger kittens started licking Mason’s ear, and Mason sort of leaned into it and closed his eyes like it was the most amazing thing ever.

A compendium of cats on this couch July 11, 2017

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The couch I’m sitting on to write this, the one I’m usually sitting on when browsing/coloring/ficwriting, is really old. My parents got it (with a matching set of chairs) when I was in high school. It’s the one big piece of furniture I took when I moved to Massachusetts.

More interestingly, it’s been sat on by every cat I’ve ever lived with.

And I have photos!

(more…)

Good things: cool science, rock eyes, doodling, and cats July 29, 2016

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“On Sunday, May 8, Germany hit a new high in renewable energy generation. […] Power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity.

Animal eyes span an incredible variety of weirdness. Also coolness. This mollusk has eyes made of rock!

“It may be that different animals arrived at different times. A 2008 study of Movile’s only snail suggested that it has been down there for just over 2 million years. When it entered the cave, the ice age was just beginning, and the snail may have escaped the cold by going underground.” (That’s, uh, the species of snail, not a single really-old individual.)

“Psychologist Jackie Andrade of the University of Plymouth in southern England showed that doodlers actually remember more than nondoodlers when asked to retain tediously delivered information, like, say, during a boring meeting or a lecture.”

“How many other people are learning Spanish, and where do they live? Duolingo recently answered such questions by running the numbers on their 120 million users, spanning every country on the planet.”

“Coming to terms with the fact that he couldn’t outrun a volcano, Landsburg decided to make his last moments on Earth count. He documented the eruption until the last possible second, then carefully rewound his film, placed his camera in his backpack, and lay down on top of it, shielding the equipment from the encroaching shower of magma and ash with his own body.”

“Thanks to the colossal changes humans have made since the mid-20th century, Earth has now entered a distinct age from the Holocene epoch, which started 11,700 years ago as the ice age thawed.” With a gorgeous gallery of ways we’ve altered our own bedrock.

“A giant pothole, the Devil’s Kettle, swallows half of the Brule and no one has any idea where it goes. The consensus is that there must be an exit point somewhere beneath Lake Superior, but over the years, researchers and the curious have poured dye, pingpong balls, even logs into the kettle, then watched the lake for any sign of them. So far, none has ever been found.”

An animal shelter that used to have “unadoptable” cats now has a 30-day waiting list, thanks to hiring them out as mousers.

“As you can see from these pictures, Smoothie knows how to pose for the camera. Then again, it’s pretty easy for her. After all, while most of us have a best angle, EVERY angle is Smoothie’s best angle.” This is a magical elf cat, you guys.

Giant rubble LEGOs, ocean plastic filters, job creation, swords into ploughshares, and other good things. May 5, 2016

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Turning earthquake rubble into pseudo-Lego bricks, then using them to build new houses. Apparently they even meet serious construction safety standards.

Launching in 2016: a fast and (by all estimates) wildly effective ocean-cleanup array, designed to filter all that plastic we’ve been dumping into our waters.

Every article that discusses pros and “cons” of the SNAP program should open with this: “The USDA estimates that every dollar in SNAP spending generates $1.79 in economic activity. ‘People think of it as a drain,” says the Urban Institute’s [Elaine] Waxman, “but it’s an economic generator.'”

“The study by the Colorado Health Foundation found that the Medicaid expansion created 31,074 new jobs and added $3.8 billion in economic activity.

“Owner of Coastal Kitchen & Mioposto says [of raising the city minimum wage is] that he “certainly won’t open another business in our beloved Seattle”… then opens two more businesses in Seattle.”

San Francisco cops talk a suicidal man down from a ledge…with the help of his cat.

Trump (and Ben Carson) are record-setting in terms of how many lies they tell. The silver lining is that, for politicians, both Bernie and Hillary fare pretty well.

“In an echo of the Biblical vision of beating swords into ploughshares, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in California said [last July] it would melt approximately 3,400 confiscated firearms and use the steel as concrete reinforcement.

Some delight from the Onion: “Organizers confirmed President Obama has greeted heads of state from more than 2,000 alternative realities, a gathering of leaders that includes 139 different versions of himself, a parallel U.S. president Mitt Romney, a pulsing being of pure electrostatic energy, Earth-7491’s King Lyndon B. Johnson IV, and a hooded group of unspeaking figures known only as “the Council.””

Old stuff: math teachings from 1917, scandalous pop songs from 1909, cat video from 1903 February 8, 2016

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In reverse chronological order!

Books are Weapons in the War on Ideas: the librarians who worked with the army in WWI and WWII.

“…contractors removing old chalkboards at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City made a startling discovery: Underneath them rested another set of chalkboards, untouched since 1917.” Historical penmanship and out-of-date multiplication methods ahoy!

“It may seem like a Halloween hoax fit for the eerie October holiday. But officials from the MBTA say the discovery of two tattered rags affixed to strange masks at Government Center Station is all too real.

How a sexed-up viral hit from the summer of ’09—1909—changed American pop music forever.” (Excerpts: “It was used in advertisements for everything from Broadway musicals to pretzels. It was translated by newspapers into Esperanto (“Ho! Vi kaprido!”). It was bellowed by a lovelorn Philadelphian as he leaped from a bridge into the Schuylkill River, attempting suicide. It brought scandal to a church in Geneva, Ill., when a prankster altered the hymnal, adding the line “but, oh, you kid!” to the lyrics of the devotional “I Love My God.””)

Millennial in China taking an excited photo with a bowl of rice. And by “millennial” I mean “circa 1900-1904.” Next time you hear someone complaining about Kids These Days sharing photos of their lunches on Instagram, you can bring up this hard evidence that the generation from a hundred years ago would have done the exact same thing.

The first close-up shot in recorded film was from 1903’s “The Sick Kitten”. In other words, humans have been making cat videos literally for as long as it as been possible to do so.

Check out these 19th-century warnings about that most morally-degrading of modern habits. It leads to crime, mental anguish, weakening intelligence, and corruption among the children! Clearly, respectable people should have nothing to do with…novel-reading.

Jellies in space, cat vision, sun polarity, printable livers, and algae lamps March 6, 2014

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…or, science continues to be awesome.

“A warning for future space colonizers: Babies born in space might not ever figure out how to deal with gravity. Jellyfish babies, at least, have to deal with massive vertigo on Earth after spending their first few days in space.

Visualization of how cats see the world versus how humans do! Much better night vision, of course; but as it turns out, way worse distance vision.

The sun decides to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. …okay, not exactly, but it is literally reversing its own polarity.

This is either the real-world precursor to hard-light holograms, or lightsabers. Possibly both. Exciting either way!

The mini-livers that Organovo made are just half a millimetre deep and 4 millimetres across but can perform most functions of the real thing. To create them, a printer builds up about 20 layers of hepatocytes and stellate cells – two major types of liver cell. Crucially, it also adds cells from the lining of blood vessels. These form a delicate mesh of channels that supply the liver cells with nutrients and oxygen, allowing the tissue to live for five days or longer.”

“It’s still in the ‘so crazy it just might work’ stage, but these microalgae-powered lamps, invented by French biochemist Pierre Calleja, could absorb a ton of carbon from the air every year. That’s as much as 150 to 200 trees.”