Saturday, January 30, 2010

Logo Games

funny pictures of cats with captions

I did my taxes today (yay!) (no, seriously, I'm happy with the results), and that left my desire to spend more time on the computer rather impaired. But after my long-winded post yesterday, you're probably not complaining! Anyway, I did want to show you this logo from the TurboTax site:

The minute I saw it, it reminded me of something. What was it?

Oh yeah. Cat food.

Somehow not encouraging, is it?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Report: cats, salsa, Verizon

This photo has nothing to do with anything else I'm writing about; it's a dragon fruit, it was on Boing Boing this morning, and I find it fascinating. The outside is wild, the inside is wacky, and the fact that they're from the same fruit? Fascinating.


I went to pat Miri this morning, and something about the way I moved my hand freaked her out. She jumped down and regarded me reprovingly from the floor a safe distance away. I had to laugh at the silly thing. She'd been showing up all morning meowing, wanting attention, jumping up beside me, and then decided I was out to get her. I informed her that if I wanted to pat a kitty, I had other options, and went to give the new guy some loving.

I think somewhere between most and all of my photos of him are on this perch by the window.

He has a very casual way with his paws and the windowsill.

He spends a lot of time there, waiting out the period of Miri's rejection. She's getting closer and closer, and I think overall is doing very well for only a week. This morning, I thought for a moment that she would jump up next to him, but she didn't. She's getting closer, though, and is meowing but not so much hissing. Progress, for sure.

Meanwhile, he waits.

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend
At one point when the Verizon guy was walking around in his big boots (thump thump), I realized that I'd lost sight of Carlos, who left the office when that was invaded.

I checked under the bed to verify Miri, and found them both under there. At opposite ends, mind you, but clearly joined in non-hissyness by their common fear of Strange Man.

One of the things I did today, during my housebound period of Verizon installation, was make the salsa. You know, bell peppers, corn, black beans, onion? Like this:

How's that for a punch of color in winter? I haven't made it in a while, and not only did I want to eat it, I wanted to test a Christmas present.

Much less chopping! And the results are good.

Granted, I was most of the way through the onion* before I remembered to get out the chopper (ahem), but all the peppers went through it. You still have to open the peppers, hollow them, and cut them into small enough pieces to fit, but no dicing, just whump and they're through.

*And either it's one potent onion, or it was too big, or I used too much garlic or balsamic or something ... but the end result has more punch than usual. Not bad, certainly, but a bit much. Though I keep eating it.

The chopper does take a little pressure, but it's worth it if you have the hand power. Mum, you can try it for yourself in April, if you want to test-drive it before you buy your own.

Now, someone would like to float the idea of equal air-time for cats here. The last week has been heavily tilted to the new guy, naturally, and Miri wants to point out that she may be semi-quasi-untouchable, but she also is cute.

Verizon Installation Report

The friendly Verizon guy arrived around 10:25 this morning, and left at 5:55. If my math is correct (and yes, I counted aloud and used my fingers), that makes seven and a half hours. Wow!

Most of his work was either in the basement or outside (god love him, it was cold today, teens at most, and wicked windy), so I didn't have to deal with the underfoot-all-day thing I was wondering about. I did think I might have to run out earlier (when I was making the salsa and couldn't find balsamic vinegar, I thought I'd have to go get some, but in fact I forgot the bottle I got last time was too tall for the usual cupboard), but it turned out I didn't need to, so no big deal.

He hit a couple of snafus, one being a wire-box* in the basement that Comcast had to come open (?), and the other that my phone line isn't routed through the basement where he wanted it to be, but in the end, he overcame.

*yes, that's the technical term

And the TV works (new remote to learn! new channel line-up to learn!), and the internet works, and there's a dial-tone on the phone, so I call it pretty successful.

So far. Provisionally. I don't want to jump to conclusions. But the signs are auspicious. At this moment in time. Knock wood. Wish me luck. Light a candle.

Paranoid? Moi?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Notes on cats, food/exercise, and Fios

Cat update first. Breaking news: he's cute!

Okay, it's not breaking news, but honestly, he is so cute. And sweet. And relaxed! I can bump into something and it doesn't send him quivering into the ceiling. All so new.

For that matter, as he was jumping up onto the window perch tonight, he bumped the bowl of crunchies with his paw, scattering them with a clatter. It didn't bother him a bit, but I heard her fleeing the kitchen from the terrible noise.

When I came home tonight, they both came along to see what was happening. I bent over and petted one cat with each hand, and they were fine with the proximity. Baby steps.

I've been trying to ride the exercise bike more often, even if it's just 5 minutes a night. It's funny how 5 minutes is only painful some nights, and pure torture others! Last night it just about killed me, while one night last week I managed it okay, and even did another 2 minutes later the same night without hating it as much as I did last night. Weird.

And my hamstrings* are sore**, which is annoying too. But, I've lost a few of those pesky pounds, so I am motivated to keep it up, along with the eating plan (you know, the one that makes me stop and think before I put every single edible thing I see in my mouth).

*I had to ask Google what the name is of the muscle on the back of the thigh. I knew quadriceps are the front, but was blanking on the back. And it could be more than those, but somewhere in the neighborhood is some pain.

I find that I do better with the food aspect on weekdays, when I have a regular schedule, while on weekends when I don't have a timetable my eating is harder to make regular and controlled.

And another thing I noticed is that sometimes, it's easier to stop myself having the first Heath bar than it is to stop after one. How's that for helpful advice? Sorry.

I signed up for Fios on Sunday, and each day since then I've had a little here-we-come e-mail from Verizon. The part that concerns me is that they refer to the installation process at taking either "4-6 hours" or "4-8 hours". That's kind of a big difference, and a long time either way. (Does it include a break for lunch, or is that extra time?) I hope I like the installation person, since it seems he or she will be there for quite a while.

I seem to be having an imagination failure, but I truly can't imagine what he or she will have to DO that takes so long.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Love is all you need

Somehow it got to be pretty late to be just starting to think about what to write tonight.

Here. Watch this instead.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Some Good Things for a Monday

It was in the mid-50s today*, meaning that the precipitation the day brought does not need to be shoveled, yay! And for that I say, you're welcome. I take credit because last Friday, I bought a new snow brush for the car. The old one is cracked and only mostly working, so I thought I'd better replace it now. And look what followed!

*It's actually really pathetic how "nice" it seemed in comparison to recent weather.

(We shall not speak of the inevitable re-brrr-ing later this week. Sufficient unto the day is the ick thereof.)

Since the signs were propitious in this weekend's cat experiment, I went ahead and left them co-mingled today, instead of shutting Carlos in the office. I was nervous about what I'd come home to, but they're fine tonight. I hope that at some point Carlos left the window perch where he was when I left and when I got home, but he seems fine.

(He must have, actually, his food was gone. So good.)

This weekend, I got the bill from Comcast showing how my rates would rise with the end of the latest promotional period. By more than 25%. From a price I was already uncomfortable with.

In Sunday's paper was an ad for Verizon Fios, for TV-computer-phone (what I have through Comcast), and even with all the fees and things on top, it works out to 30% less than my current rate with Comcast (45% less than the proposed raised rate), for essentially the same service.

They're coming Friday to set up. (Yes, I have to take another day off from work. What a shame.)

I haven't called Comcast to break up with them yet. I'm thinking I'll wait until the Verizon is all set up, then call Comcast and tell them, it's done, I'm done, come get your stuff. (Their product is good, actually, but most of the customer service I've had has been less than stellar. They're really expensive. And I find their website so bad as to be actually unusable.)

A teaser: you'll hear much more on this later. See what I got in the mail?

Crazy Aunt Purl's new book! For free! (Full disclosure, I got a free copy for reviewing it, as I shall in a few weeks.) It's my first blog freebie, I'm so excited! As you can tell! by! all! the! exclamations!

I mean, she's one of the writers who inspired me to start my own blog. How cool is this?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sock Knitting Progress (with cat)

I'm here to write about socks, socks, and more socks, but I can't start without a few more cat pictures.

Carlos on my lap. Yes, we're in the bathroom (and the toilet seat is down, thank you for asking); he spent much of the day there.

Often in the tub, in fact.

Now, socks! I finished the first of the hybrid socks I'm making with the Dream in Color Smooshy yarn that I bought at the same time as the yarn for my mother's shawl. (Got that?)

On the 4th of July, 2009, I started with this:

I cast on, in the sun.

Such humble beginnings. I love knitting. It truly is magic.

July 4th to January 22nd ... as the Yarn Harlot says, not fast magic. But magic nonetheless.

By July 19th, I had, well, this:

And on July 25, this:

But I had cast on for the shawl by then, and while it grew, the sock mostly languished.

It got some work in Florida, due to the difficulties inherent in knitting a surprise gift in front of the recipient (let me know if you figure that one out). On August 25th, it was This Big:

And by December 31st (no photos in between, somehow), the heel was past, and I had switched to a pattern for the leg.

I decided to bastardize the popular Spring Forward sock, which is (ahem) knit cuff down, not toe up. Not letting that stop me, because I really like this pattern. The stitch pattern is similar to the shawl, in fact.

By January 16, it was here:

And here we are today, finished.

Granted, the photo was taken before the end was tucked in. But 99.99% done in the photo, and 100% done now. Ta-da!

I also have a yarn confession to make. I ordered some more yarn this week.

I know! I already have plenty of yarn, yarn I'm really looking forward to using. Why more?

Well, I have some sock issues. Let's look at my personal history of sock knitting, shall we?

In August, 2006, I took a class on sock knitting. I made the first of this pair* in the course of the classes, and it was a bit large. The second sock was more my size.

*In Baby Star yarn from Laines Du Nord, which is 100% merino wool.

But over the next 2-3 years, the socks shrank*. First they fit better, then, not so much.

*Shrink resistant, it says, but of course it also says hand wash, which I may not have done every time.

Pop! Out the back of the heel.

Good-bye, first pair. Hello, second! This time, the yarn was Schaefer Anne.

And that, a blend of wool, mohair, and nylon, is supposed to be machine washable. But in my experience, it shrank.

Also, the halo it grew was not that attractive.

Eventually unwearable.

Pair the third is still in time out. Lorna's Laces yarn, bind off issues. I'm almost ready to try again, less than 2 years later!

I called these the Banish February socks, because I bought the yarn to liven up the dead of winter.

When they went into time out, I moved on to pair number four. The yarn is from Kangaroo Dyer, purchased at Webs when we went out to see the Yarn Harlot two years back.

I'm still wearing these socks, and they are wearing well, and of course they have not shrunk one little bit, because they are too big. And they stay too big. Sigh. Socks are hard.

Pair the fifth I made a little smaller, and they're really a little too small. I can get them on my feet, but it seriously takes about five minutes to get them on. They're really soft, though! Happy Feet yarn.

So now I have half of pair the sixth done, and it fits, which makes me very happy. However!

I basically don't trust sock yarn. Is it soft enough, will it shrink, how will it wear, who knows? So when a trusted knit blogger, Wendy, wrote about how she had made these socks for her husband 6.5 years ago and they don't show wear! I knew I had to get some of this yarn and try it for myself.

And as it was on clearance at Webs, well, here comes some. And maybe some Misti Alpaca Lace that was also on closeout jumped in the bag, too. Hmm, how did that get there?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cat Theatre

In this year's production of Let's Get A New Cat, the role of the Established Cat of the house is played by Miri, who you may remember from last year's production, when she played the New Cat.

While her take on New Cat could be described as, "I love you! Let me love you! Wait, come back!", for her new role, she is following the example of the previous Established Cat, Harold:

who took an attitude of, "Who the hell are you, and what are you doing in my house? Hiss, growl."

This year's New Cat is played by Carlos, who has a different interpretation of the role. His desire to sniff everything in the place does not currently include Miri. He doesn't seem to be scared of her, but he's not trying to make friends either. His attitude is perhaps best described as, "If I leave you alone, will you stop making that noise?" His current favorite hang-out is the tub.

I am reminding myself that it worked out last time and it will work out this time, and it's very early yet.

Harold denied me the fairy-tale love-at-first-sight meeting last time, and Miri's denying it to me this time, and that's okay. No one's bleeding, and I can curb Miri's early temptation to go on the offensive by taking advantage of her reluctance to be too close to me when I'm standing or moving. (One step or reach toward her and she backs down.) I don't want her chasing or bullying New Guy, who had to deal with that from the other cats his foster mom had. One scratch on his nose is enough, poor guy.

You can kind of see the scratch here, as well as demon eyes, and hey! High 5! High 6! 7?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

First Look at Carlos

A year after bringing Miri home, she still doesn't trust me. She's never been on my lap, by her choice.

Just over an hour here, and Carlos sat on my lap and purred. He's still going to need time to settle, but it's very promising.

Flash too bright!

He likes catnip.

We haven't been too close yet, but there was this. Some hissing (from her), no fireworks.

He's interested in the window world, too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quick Takes: Getting Ready

This time tomorrow, the household goes from 2 to 3!

I got Friday off from work, so I can supervise the feline transition, with the added bonus of being able to go get a new recycling bin from the city without getting up early to do it (the city yard isn't open evenings or weekends*, very handy).

*in winter, anyway

I checked my weight this morning, on a whim, and it was 234. Down is the way to be going! And it motivates me to get on the bike again, and not to eat 7 mini Heath bars for dessert.

Repeat after me: the headache is going away, the headache is going away...

I have a lot to do. Moving litter box, tidying the office, food and water, and so on. Forgive me, won't you, if I leave it at that for tonight?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm picking him up Thursday night

Today was a long day. Usually busy days move pretty quickly, but with the snow (All Day Long) and the sore spots (arms from clearing yesterday's snow, legs from the bike last night), it felt long. But tonight, I got to meet Carlos!

You remember Carlos, right?

He's tremendously relaxed, which seems like just what we want, Miri and I. He let me pat him, and purred quietly. He played with his toy. He turned his back on me and ate, not a foot away from me, just as though he wasn't worried that I might grab him! I've been around Miri too long, but that seemed wonderful.

The first day they had him, he let his foster mother trim his claws. And give him a bath. A bath! "Well, he didn't like it," she said, almost apologetically. "But he just kind of sat there and took it."

It all seems meant to be. I'm picking him up Thursday night (they were busy Friday night and Saturday, and I want the weekend to settle him in, though he doesn't seem like he'll need much settling). Exciting times!

I kissed the top of his head before I left. He seemed a little surprised, but that was all.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday: snow and sock and all

We had a storm overnight into today, snow and sleet and a general mess. (Why do I live here again?) I didn't leave for work at the usual time, choosing to wait until some plowing was done to the side streets where I live. Even then, I wasn't sure I'd make it out of the driveway, since the condo's plow guy hadn't been by yet, but after 20 minutes of clearing snow like wet concrete off the car, I wasn't ready to give up, and with some spinning and slipping, the car managed to get to the street.

The Bruins always have a matinee game on Martin Luther King Day, and since that's one of the variable holidays work-wise, I often don't have the day off to watch from home. I listened to today's game on the radio (what a disaster), and was much struck by the radio guy's description of an Ottawa player after scoring: "he's smiling like a butcher's dog"? Haven't heard that before.

I got to stitch and bitch tonight for the first time in a while. Still working on the sock I started in July! I've done more since this was taken, but the photos are still on the camera.

I may be going to see the prospective new cat tomorrow after work. I'll let you know how it goes!

You'll love me!