Friday, February 12, 2016

Recently Read

As always, skip it if you wanna.

1.  44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith - This author was recommended to me as having a style similar to Maeve Binchy, whom I LOVE.  However, 44 Scotland Street was a bust for me, mainly because so many of the characters were sooooo unlikable.  I got about halfway through, realized that I didn't care what happened to the painting OR the missing underwear, and quit.

2.  The Cat Who Came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory - Memoir from a guy who rescued a cat.  The first two chapters, involving the rescue, were engrossing - the following chapters were a bunch of meh.  Meh.

3.  Looking for the Klondike Stone by Elizabeth Arthur - Memoir about the years the author spent at summer camp as a young child.  I have nothing but admiration for people who can remember events and conversations from their childhood, because I don't remember any of that stuff from my own growing up, but still, this book was a little ... er ... boring?   As a series of long-form essays on line, it might have been interesting, but ingested all at once it was kind of meh.  Summer camp has a special place in my own heart, but that doesn't necessarily mean I wanted to read about someone else's experiences with it. Didn't finish.

4.  The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner - Account of the author's childhood in a polygamous family.  I LOVE this kind of thing, but the author could've used a ghostwriter.  Didn't finish.

At this point, I'd like to say, I really, REALLY am not trying to dis these authors.  I keep doing these Recently Read posts because, so often, I'll get partway through a book only to realize that I'd read it before, because I am OLD, so now I put all the books I've read down in these lists so that, before I buy a book or take it out of the library, I can search for the title on the blog here and find out if I've already read it.   Every single one of these authors is to be admired for actually writing a book, even if me, Little Miss Nobody, didn't find it interesting.

5.  Ambulance Girl - Memoir about a woman who became an EMT.  Way, WAY too much about her feelings about becoming an EMT, and almost nothing about what being an EMT is actually like.  Not good.

Movie review time!  Hands on a Hardbody (minds out of the gutter, please!) is an old documentary about people trying to win a truck by being the last one standing.  Fascinating and sad.

6.  The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp - Memoir about a woman in her twenties who was supposedly homeless.  Oh oh OH there is a LOT that I could say about this book, none of it good, but suffice it to say that she wasn't actually homeless and leave it at that.  Blech.

7.  Ever By My Side by Nick Trout - Veterinarian's memoir.  I read a LOT of veterinarian's memoirs, because they're usually an enjoyable read, and this book was no exception.

8.  Off Keck Road by Mona Simpson. Novel. Didn't finish.

9.  The Journeyer by Gary Jennings.  Historical fiction about the travels of Marco Polo.  I read this book many, many years ago and LOVED it.  All this time later, I could still remember parts of the story.  So I finally bought a copy to see if it was as good as I remembered.  This book, at over a thousand pages, can give War and Peace a run for its money, length-wise, but that didn't bother me at all, because YES, it was as good as I remembered.  Parts were somewhat sensationalistic, and I had to kind of skim over some of the more-graphic parts, but oh boy, this is a good book.  Highly recommended.  Very good.

So!  That's what I've been reading.  How about you?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Another brilliant invention, continued

Here we go!

See Part 1 here.

Okay, so, I bought a giant, clear storage tote and took it back to the office so MacGyver could cut a hole in one end.  I figured I'd give that to the woman as Step 1, to find out if the cat would enter an enclosed space.  And I Youtubed the subject, to try and get a better idea of the actual mechanics of cat trapping. There were a wealth of videos on "how to build a live animal trap", most of which involved construction similar to a Havahart.  No good.  Then I found a video of this dude from Serbia, who had build a very simple trap to catch weasels, of all things.  His trap was built out of wire mesh, which would not work for the wary cat in question, but the actual set-up was very do-able, with just plywood scraps and some wire comprising the basis of the "trap" part.

I took another look at the plastic storage bin I had purchased.  "I wonder," I asked MacGyver, "If we could just build the trap out of THIS?"

We were on our way.

 MacGyver cut a hole in one end of the tote, and built a sliding drop-down door.  A piece of plywood was zip-tied on one side onto the bottom of the tote.  A piece of rebar wire was connected to the plywood and angled up the side of the tote, where it was placed through a hole in the door frame.  The plywood door was placed vertically in the frame and set against the wire, which was pulled up to make the plywood on the floor angle up.  The weight from the door kept the wire in place, but when a cat entered the tub and stepped on the angled plywood on the floor, it would pop the wire out of the door frame and enable the door to drop down.  The top of the tote was zip-tied on, and airholes were drilled along the sides.


The finished product:

I covered the plywood on the floor with a piece of blanket to disguise it.  I placed bowls of food at the back of the tote, past the angled plywood that would trigger the door.  Now the big test - Would it actually WORK?

Oh, Sodapop, come here a minute ...

Hmmm, Sodapop said, what's THIS thing? (you can see the wire to the right of Soda, angled up from the plywood on the floor to the hole in the door frame.)

Oh look, there's FOOD back here!

Sorry, Sodapop, you've been TRAPPED!


Okay, so, the trap worked on *my* cats.  Would it work on stray cats?

The woman decided to try the trap first on not the wily Walmart cat, but on a mama cat with kittens she'd also been trying unsuccessfully to trap. It was very important that the kittens be brought into care as soon as possible, before they became too old to be socialized.

Sunday morning, the trap was set.  On Sunday afternoon, I got a call ...

She'd trapped the mama and kittens!  They were now safely in rescue care!

Next stop:  Wily Walmart mama.  I'll keep you posted.

The "this-is-not-a-cat-trap-this-is-just-a-feeding-station-come-and-get-your-dinner-little-kitty" feral cat trap is a success!

Next stop:  Shark Tank.  hahaha.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Another brilliant invention

Remember that feral cat I was feeding?  The woman who regularly feeds her asked for my help.  She wanted to trap the cat, but the cat was so wary of regular Havahart traps that the woman was trying to figure out a different kind of trap.  A trap without steel or wire mesh.  A large trap that would just look like a feeding station, except that when the cat got to the food, a trap door would close, enclosing the cat in the space.


She had given me a sketch of what she was looking for.  It looked do-able, but it also looked like a trap.  With wire mesh on the sides. It was basically a homemade Havahart.


I took the sketch in to the office, and asked my co-worker, who is pretty much a MacGyver,  what he thought, filling him in on the situation.  He agreed that the sides should probably be clear, so as not to look like a trap.  We discussed using a wooden frame with Plexiglass sides, but something like that would be both bulky and (relatively) expensive to build.  I thought that maybe before this woman went to the expense of having something like that built, we should find out if the cat would even walk INTO an enclosed space.  So I went to the Dollar General and picked up a gigantic, clear storage tote.  The plan was that MacGyver would cut a hole on one end of the tote, and the woman could start leaving the cat's food in the upside-down tote, so that we could see if the cat would be willing to enter it.  THEN, if the cat would go in the tote, we could discuss the logistics of building the wood-and-Plexiglass model.

Hoo boy this is getting long, ain't it?  To be continued ...

Friday, February 05, 2016

A little experiment

A while back, I was complaining on Facebook about how cling wrap doesn't actually CLING.  A friend of mine said I needed to try Glad Press n'Seal.  "It works!", she said.  "I promise it works!  I'll bring you some to prove it!"

Well, months went by, and I forgot all about it, until we met up the other day, and she had actually remembered, and handed me a container of Press n'Seal.

When I got home that day, I took my glass of orange soda, put some Press n'Seal over the top, and turned the glass over, copying the image on the side of the container:


It wooooorrrrrkkks!  IT WOOOOOOORRRRRRKKKKS! 


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Facebook. Hoo boy.

Yesterday, an acquaintance re-posted a thing on Facebook.  One of those annoying re-posted ... things.  I don't know what you call them. Those sayings that get re-posted all over the place.  This one was all, "My parents spanked me when I was a child and I turned out okay!  Kids NEED a little discipline.  Lack of discipline is what's wrong with our country today!  Spanking is not abuse.  Share if you agree."

I'm paraphrasing, here, because I'm not about to go digging through my feed to find that piece of work again, but that was the general gist.

Um.  Man oh MAN, I wanted to reply:

Physical abuse is not okay.  If you messed up at work, would you think that a logical reaction would be for your boss to put you over his knee and spank you?  No?  THEN WHY IS IT OKAY TO HIT A KID?

Do you think it's okay to hit the family pet?  No?  THEN WHY IS IT OKAY TO HIT A KID?

You know, I was never spanked as a child.  Not once.  My parents put up with a lot of age-typical bullsh*t from Toddler Me, loved me dearly, and as I grew older they made clear what their age-appropriate expectations were of me.  If I got out of line, all it took was a look from Dad or a word from Mom and I was so embarrassed that I had disappointed them that I corrected myself.  And really, I don't know if they had an actual No Hitting policy or if it had more to do with the fact that my parents were not the touchy-huggy physical contact type in general, but regardless, I was never hit as a kid.  And somehow I came out FINE.  Go figure.

And you know, I used to be of the "spanking is NBD" persuasion.  But after enduring domestic violence myself (no, not recently, many years ago), I just can't justify hitting other people anymore.  LEAST OF ALL CHILDREN.

I didn't say anything in reply to that post last night from my acquaintance.  It wasn't going to change her mind.  And, I mean, that is the same person who says she likes Trump because "he says what he thinks", so ugh, consider the source. You say tomato, I say tomahto, whatevs. Plus, having never been a parent myself, I suspect I may lack a vital perspective when it comes to issues involving offspring.  But more and more, I AM SO HAPPY I HAVE THIS BLOG RIGHT HERE, because this is where I go to vent about Facebook.  Ha.

And now I'm curious - Where do you stand?  Spanking, right or wrong?

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


Sunday I headed for the reservoir, which was frozen over.

Six months ago it looked like this:

Sunday, it looked like this:


I headed up to the ponds at the far end of the lake.

Jesus, what a gloomy morning.

A deer had met its demise.

Can you see the plane in this pic?  It circled around for quite a while.  I don't know why.  There's not a whole heck of a lot to see this time of year.  Maybe someone was taking a flying lesson:

I was following the snowmobile trails.  I don't know who Joyce and Harold Penningroth are, but they've got a nice sign:

Somebody had hauled an old treadmill all the way out to the middle of nowhere to dump it.  I don't get it.  They could have put it out with the garbage, or put it on Craigslist, or put it out to the curb with a "free" sign on it.  Instead, they hauled it all the way out to a campsite.  Go figure:

Trail crossing!  Not confusing at all:

Bird's nest:

A little bit of color:

See the shapes out on the ice?:

Those are ice fishers.  Those dudes are NUTS.

Not long after I got done walking, the sun came out and it warmed up and was quite a pleasant day.  Spring is coming; I'm quite confident of that.  Thank goodness.