Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Online Reading Suffers

Filed under: Blogfriends,Daily Life — folkcat at 9:08 pm on Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I am so behind. I haven’t had my laptop to do my online reading with since over a week ago. The backlight on the screen died, and there’s no way we can buy a replacement light at this time.

This was the computer that sat on a little table in front of my armchair, all day long, while I knit and watched tv. I read a LOT of blogs, newsfeeds, and e-mail sitting there.

Now, all my reading has to happen at my desktop computer, in a less comfortable chair, and in a spot where it’s not convenient to either knit or watch tv while I do it. So it gets to happen in small, regulated chunks of time. When I can remember to get around to setting time to do it.

As of now, I’m up to April 23 on e-mails, but only April 20 on feeds. And forget about Ravelry – I only read a couple of groups there, but Remnants, at least, is hopelessly clogged with unread/unignored threads (I do ignore a lot there when I get to look at it.)

If you send me a comment or a personal e-mail, rest assured that I cherry-pick those from the inbox to answer right away. Y’all are more important to me than the latest catalog specials from a week ago!

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Filed under: Daily Life,Gryphon — folkcat at 9:11 pm on Saturday, April 25, 2009

We’ve been having a computer adventure lately. Today was the big climax, though I’ll admit that Gryphon got to have most of the fun.

The symptoms – EverQuest 2 was frequently crashing on me. The blog publishing software I used to use was failing to publish. So was the new software I got to replace it. Attempts to update malware detector and anti-virus software failed. And when I clicked on links online, especially in my Google search results, they were often being re-directed to someplace not related to what the link was supposed to be.

Gryphon has spent a large portion of the day working on this for me. The verdict? Apparently I’m an early adopter of the very latest virus/worm, one so new that it’s only just being identified, and doesn’t even really have a name yet.  Luckily, there are already protocols for finding and removing it, which Gryphon has applied to, so far, apparent success.

For the record, if you suspect something like this, be aware – Microsoft’s Malicious Software detector doesn’t find this one.

If you’re suspicious of your own computer, and these symptoms appear familiar, Gryphon has graciously permitted me to offer you his e-mail address. gryphon@billkubeck.com Write to him, and he’ll give you guidance in identifying if this is your issue, and with getting rid of it.

Four Years, and Two More Rats

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 12:42 am on Friday, April 24, 2009

I almost didn’t post today. Then I looked at the calendar, and realized that it’s my blogiversary. Yes, folks, it’s been four years now that I’ve blogged.

The blog has changed personality many times during those years. I used to post every day, used to do reviews when the opportunity arose. I frequently posted progress reports about my crafting.

Nowadays, it’s all about the rats, mostly. With a little knitting sometimes. For the rats.

My frequency is way down as well. What used to be a daily blog, now is lucky if it’s weekly. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt less of a need to “tell the world” about every little thing I do. After several years, it’s a bit tedious to be saying, yet again, “here’s a picture of the sock I’m knitting. It’s gotten a couple inches bigger. Aren’t the colors cool?”

The rats, however, are another matter. As a foster parent for Mainely Rat Rescue, we see enough new rats in and out of our house that there are frequently new stories to tell. Here’s the latest!

Summer and Giselle

Last Saturday, we picked up our latest foster rats. Summer (the blonde in the back) and Giselle, the dark faced girl in the front) came from a home in Massachusetts. This seems to be a case of a teenager who had pets, then went to college and couldn’t bring them along. So they’re with Mainely Rat Rescue now, in our home, hoping to find a permanent home.

Summer & Giselle 41809

They’re both a bit shy. Summer will come to the cage door and sniff my hands, even lick them a little. She steps onto my fingers with her front feet, like she wants to come out, but she’s not quite willing yet. I can take her out for a moment, but she squirms hard and wants to go back.

Giselle is another matter. Giselle is very shy of people, and a bit cage aggressive. She doesn’t like being picked up AT ALL. She wriggles out of your grasp very quickly, if you can manage to get your hand on her in the first place.

With Giselle, we’ve progressed to the point that, when I sit by the cage and talk to them, she’ll poke her nose out of their igloo and check on me. If I open the door and offer treats, she’ll come over and take one from my hand.

It’s going to take a little time gaining her full trust.

Summer and Gisell are about one year old, give or take a month. They were rescued from a tank of rats that were going to be fed to a snake. Talk about a scary start! Luckily, they’ll never need to worry about being snake food again.

Knitting

To help with the trust issue, I’m working on knitting a bonding pouch. A bonding pouch is a small, soft pouch with a neckstrap, just big enough to comfortably hold one rat (or sugar glider, or other small rodent). You place the shy rat in the pouch, and they feel safe and cozy inside while you wear it around your neck and go about your business.

Most bonding pouches are made of fleece, quilted flannel, or other soft fabrics. I, of course, immediately thought about knitting one. So I’m working up a pattern or two now. Once they’re done, we’ll get some test knitters to try them out as they knit bonding pouches for our foster homes to use. If the patterns work out, we may find a way to use the patterns to raise funds for the rescue. I’ll be sure to let you know what happens with that.

Once I have a bonding pouch made up, I’ll be taking these girls out one at a time to spend quality time with me. The idea is that they’ll get used to being close to me, but will feel protected by the warm, soft little pouch they’re snuggled in. Cross your fingers that it works!

And That’s The Way We Are

Thursday, April 23, 2009, four years of blogging. Four years during which my life has changed a fair bit, and you’ve been along for the ride. Thank you to all my loyal…I don’t want to call you merely readers. You are my loyal friends, tried and true, who have been with me here through thick and thin. My life is richer because you’re part of it.

Thank You!

Substitute Post

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 10:38 pm on Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today is my blogiversary. I’ve been trying to post all day. But the offline post editor I used to use won’t publish successfully anymore, and the new one I tried will work for Gryphon on his computer and his blog, but not for me on my computer and my blog.

Hopefully this short message will be clean enough that it will post. If not, pretend you didn’t see it.

Slow Times

Filed under: Daily Life,Games,Gryphon,Rats! — folkcat at 7:23 pm on Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sorry I don’t post very often these days. Truth is, things are pretty slow here in lots of ways, and very busy in others.

Marbles is as cute as ever. He had his surgery and is recovering well. We expect to be able to integrate him with the rest of the ratties in a couple of weeks.

One of my readers suggested calling the nine ratties The Ennead (en-ee-ad). It’s an ancient Greek term for a group of nine Egyptian deities. I like it. Rats almost look more Egyptian to me than cats do. I can picture them going around being pharoahs, building pyramids, and so forth. Not sure if they’d worship cats and dogs, but I’ll bet they could make an interesting Egyptian society.

I’m knitting a lot. We don’t use my knitted rat rugs as rugs anymore, they don’t cover the larger cage floors as well. But we do give them to the rats to use for nesting in. So I guess they’re more blankets than rugs now. Anyhow, the rats do chew them up, and when they get too ragged we have to toss them. Since supplies were dwindling, I needed to get back to work. The stock of new blankets is growing, slowly, but it’s growing.

We’re still somewhat in limbo on Gryphon’s situation, though there is progress. Still can’t talk about it much here, but know that he’s doing well and we think we can see, if not light at the end of the tunnel, at least a glow-in-the-dark sign pointing in its direction.

I enjoyed the first episode of ABC’s The Unusuals last week. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like Amber Tamblyn as a New York cop after Joan of Arcadia (a series I still, sadly, long for more episodes of). But it worked. I’ve got the second episode in the Tivo, waiting for me to get around to it.

I’m playing lots and lots of EverQuest II these days as well. It’s just really working for me at the moment. I’m hoping to start into Free Realms as well, a new Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) game that’s currently in beta testing. Both Gryphon and I made it into beta. Free Realms looks to be built on more of a Japanese model of an online game, more cute graphics. It’s also designed to be a very family friendly game – young children could play this without any issues. Sure, you fight creatures. But you don’t get killed, you get knocked out.

We pick up our next foster ratties this weekend, and may also be providing transport for another pair of girls to get to their new adoptive home. Still waiting for details on that.

YAMD (Yet Another Memory Dump)

Filed under: Daily Life,Folkcat's Fotos,Holidays,Rats! — folkcat at 9:49 pm on Friday, April 3, 2009

My phone has been busy again!

March 16, 2009: How Holidays are Made

It’s mid-March. You are a supermarket baker. You have a bunch of plain, undecorated gingerbread men, and an excess of green icing. What should you do?

If only there were some holiday in mid-March. With green for a theme color. Where little people were appropriately symbolic of the day.

I know! It’s Gator Man Day!

Yeah.

March 18, 2009: We Have Achieved Acceptance

Laura and Isabella prove that ‘Bella has achieved full acceptance into the family.

March 24, 2009: Let’s Brand Whoever Branded This

Seriously, Betty? What’s up next – Eskimo Helper?

March 25, 2009: It’s PaGino’s Time

The seam down the side of their cups creates some amusing portmanteaus:

Baby-Sitting Tinty Time
Birthday Timnner Time
Night Tids Time
Game TiBirthday Time
Movie Timight Time
Friends me
Tired Timme

and my personal favorite:

Ganward Time

March 31, 2009: And Some May Be Anyhow, Depending on What They’re Here For

Our little Captain Marbles is doing well. In the first two weeks we’ve had him, he just about doubled his body weight. Now he looks more like a normally proportioned rattie, instead of a big rat head on a teensy body.

This past Tuesday morning, he went in for THE PROCEDURE. Yes, that one. The vet’s office was one I’d never visited before, but they work with the rat rescue. While distant (an hour’s drive), they were easy enough to get to.

If you are in the neighborhood for other reasons, however, please be careful where you park!

As for the Captain, he’s recovering nicely. If anything, he’s actually been friskier since the surgery than he ever was before. Which is saying something for our hyper-active little superhero.

April 3, 2009: Useful Supermarket Photo

It’s hard for Gryphon and me to keep milk around. We don’t drink the stuff, we don’t have cold cereal in the mornings to pour it over, and while we will cook with it, the occasions are few enough and far enough between that we always wind up throwing out all or part of a bottle.

We’ve been wanting to keep dry milk in the house, but we’ve discovered a problem with that. Nowadays, the dry milk manufacturers only package the powder in bulk in the giant, makes-20-quarts packages. Not an amount we’re likely to use before it goes bad! Any smaller quantities are pre-packaged into handy, 1-quart, pre-measured packets.

Gryphon and I are likely to only ever need to mix one, maybe two cups at a time. The rest of the quart, if we used their assumptions and made the whole thing, would go bad in the fridge. Or we’d have to measure out the smaller amount, find a way to close up the top of the paper/foil packet, and hope to avoid bugs or spillage.

We finally decided today to buy one of the smaller boxes filled with the 1-quart packets. We’re going to open all the packets, dump the contents into a jar, and spoon it out as we need it.

The only hitch in this plan is the the smaller box doesn’t include directions for mixing any quantity of milk other than the full quart. But…aha! The giant 20-quart box with the bulk powder inside has a chart for making several different volumes, from one cup to the entire 20 quarts at once.

Whip out the handy-dandy cell phone, aim it at the back of the box, and voila! I now have my own directions chart to make any amount of dry milk we want. Here, feel free to take a copy for yourself!