“Choking on my dust, With my three blind cats”

A couple weeks ago we took Ivan and Katrina to the vet for their regular checkup and shots, and learned that Ivan had a bad tooth or two that needed to come out. Poor boy. He wasn’t really acting like he was in pain, though it did kind of explain why he seemed to prefer his wet food to the dry food (he would still eat the dry stuff, though). So we made an appointment for him to get the tooth pulled.

Ever since we got home from the vet that day, he had a really bad case of goop-eye (which is the non-scientific term we use when the cats get conjunctivitis). He gets like this sometimes when he’s stressed out, and it always gets better in a day or so. But this time, it was just not getting any better. And if he thought his quick trip to the vet was stressful, he was about to get really stressed out when it was time for his dental appointment!

This morning was finally time to drop him off for his tooth extraction. I took him to the vet when they opened this morning, and they explained what they were going to do: preliminary bloodwork, then the tooth extraction, followed by some IV fluids (due to his history of kidney problems). And they would take a look at the goop-eyes.

They called me in the early afternoon to say he was just waking up, he did great, and we could pick him up after 4 PM. So when GG got home from work, we headed over to pick him up. Poor boy’s eyes were so goopy, I said it looked like he’d been punched in the face! We got some ointment to put on his eyes twice a day for the next ten days – that’ll be enjoyable. His bloodwork was all perfectly fine, and they said the levels of his kidney stuff were exactly in the middle of where they should be, so that was good to hear.

When we got him home, we opened the cat carrier, and he came stumbling out. He could barely walk! It was sad but kind of hilarious. He did eat some wet food (with extra water mixed in), and has spent the rest of the night stumbling around, following me around the house, and snuggling. He bumped his way all the way upstairs, and followed me all the way back down! He’s currently snuggled up next to me, which is all he’s wanted to do all night (except for the part where he fell asleep on the bathroom rug for a while to rest up before following me back downstairs; or the part where he used the litter box, apparently peed on his foot, and then regained strength by taking a rest on the floor next to the box).

My poor, poor boy… At least his eyes are looking a little better. And as I tried to keep telling him, now his teeth won’t hurt him anymore.

MyTouch 4G Slide and Accessories

As I mentioned last week, I have joined the rest of modern society and gotten myself a smartphone. After a lot of research, I chose the MyTouch 4G Slide, because it’s super powerful (I don’t want to have to upgrade again for a while), and has a physical keyboard. Also, it’s got a pretty amazing 8 MP camera (my actual camera camera is only 6 MP!). The first thing I noticed when I started using it was that it eats batteries. I knew that going to a more powerful phone would mean having to recharge every day, compared to my old feature phone which I could use pretty heavily and still recharge just every couple of days. I know you can turn off various services and functions, or you could just not use your phone, but what is the point of having this powerful device that you’re afraid to use because you might run out of power while you’re out somewhere?

So I started researching about the battery, and found that hardcore users often upgraded to one of two brands of high-capacity batteries. HTC is good at making phones, but doesn’t specialize in batteries, so it’s a good idea to upgrade – plus, I bought my phone used from eBay, so who knows exactly what the situation was with the stock battery anyway? It certainly wasn’t brand new. So after researching, I went with the Anker brand batteries, which are a good brand and a little bit higher capacity than the stock HTC battery. They sell a set on Amazon for like $30 that includes two batteries and a universal battery charger (so you could have one in the phone and be charging the other). I am so happy with them! I have been keeping all the notifications and background synching on, using it what I’d consider a “normal” amount to make calls, send e-mails, check Facebook and Twitter, play Draw Something, take and post photos, etc., and the battery can last over 24 hours.

With the battery problem solved, the other thing I needed to do was get a case. This is highly recommended to protect the phone in case you drop it, of course, and also to protect it from dust. Apparently, dust can get under the screen and this can be a big issue (I had no idea!). There are a few options and styles, but the one I kept seeing mentioned as the best is the Trident Aegis. I ordered one, and meanwhile I kept looking, just in case. The other case I saw a lot of people mention was the Fishbone, which was less than half the price of the Trident, so I ordered one of those as well and figured I’d choose in person and send back the other one. The Trident arrived first. It is very bulky looking, and there is a large logo on the back. It’s supposed to be better because it covers more of the holes on the phone (speaker, various jacks and ports, microphones, etc.), but that makes it look very hardcore. When the Fishbone case came, I put it on immediately and have been very pleased. It has the same two-layer padding that the Trident does (there is softer rubber against the phone, and then a hard outer shell over it), so it seems pretty protective. It doesn’t cover over the front of the phone so much, covering the speaker and all, but I prefer this look. Also, there is no logo on it – the logo, I guess, is just the “fishbone” design on the back. It goes on and off pretty easily, but it’s not like it’s going to fall off. All the holes and cutouts are in the right place, and the slide mechanism still works smoothly. So I am going to keep the Fishbone and send the Trident back.

My other accessory is a stylus, which I pretty much got just to play Draw Something. I’m not even going to mention the brand, because it was like $5 and it sucks. My main problem in Draw Something is trying to do detailed things on my little phone screen with my big fat finger. The stylus is basically like a fat finger in pen form. I should have sprung for one with a finer point. Oh well, I guess it helps slightly…

The phone itself, I love. I’m not going to bother with a real review because I don’t know all the technical stuff well enough and I still feel a little dumb trying to figure out how to do things, but for the most part I’ve got it set up the way I want and have the apps I need, etc. I feel like I’ve caught up with everyone else with smartphones (and even surpassed everyone with iPhones, since there’s so many things they can’t do, like play Flash).

Linky Thursday – 4/26

Best Of MetaFilter: No need to read anything else – this blog will bring you the best of the best of the web.

ifttt: Stands for “if this, then that,” and is an awesome way to link up your social networks to have them automate each other. For example, have all your tweets that include a certain hashtag posted to your WordPress blog. Automatically post all your Instagram photos to Flickr. Every time you update your Blogger blog, have it create a tweet. Have all your Foursquare check-ins added to a Google calendar. There are tons of possible recipes

“Shia Labeouf” by Rob Cantor: Tally Hall’s yellow tie guy built himself a portfolio site, but one song stood out above the rest. I like to think I have something to do with that, since I wished for this song about Hollywood’s “actual canibal” to become viral…

Amazon customer images for Horse Head Mask: I have no idea how this got started, but clearly a lot of people are having fun with their $20 horse head mask. Some of them are hilarious, some are really disturbing…

Titanic: The Sequel: With the release of Titanic in 3D, there’s been a lot of parodies going around, but this one is great. I would go see this if it were an actual movie!

“It seems the after-party has been moved to your house”

Not too much new is going on since last time…

  • We got some new furniture that is amazing for relaxing and watching TV. The sofa is huge!
  • We had Easter brunch with my family at a new place, and it was fabulous. The food was great, and it was less expensive and more casual than the place we usually go. It was not busy at all, and we did not feel rushed (in fact, the waiter was MIA for a while when we started thinking about leaving, so we couldn’t even get the check). I would definitely go back.
  • I went on another business trip, but this one was stupid short – we left at 6 AM Monday, and I was home by 11 PM Tuesday. While there, I was in a workshop for two days, had a team dinner, and met my work twin’s new boyfriend (I approve).
  • I got a smartphone! I felt like a huge moron at first because I could just not figure out how to do anything, but I quickly got the hang of it. My next concern was battery life, because this thing dips frighteningly low compared to my old phone, but I’m getting the hang of managing that too. Want to play me on Draw Something?
  • GG and I went to see a show some of his comedian friends put on. There were about 12 people in the audience, and all the comedians knew him, so they were all picking on him (and me). The main topic, of course, is how a guy like him could get a girl like me. Thanks, that makes me feel really great about myself, too. (Sarcasm.)
  • We watched a couple movies. First we saw Fireproof, which surprisingly GG wanted to see because he heard Kirk Cameron had an internet porn addiction, but they didn’t really show much about that. I had a lot of problems with this movie (too many sterotypes, of all kinds, not to mention the horrible acting), but the next door neighbor was great. Then we watched Timecop – I have a lot of problems with this movie, too. They got in a special car to time travel, but then popped out in the past without the car. Why did they turn up in a different location every time; wouldn’t they just appear in the same location they’d left from in the future? Or if they could control the location, why would they choose to arrive over a lake or in the middle of a highway? After the past and future versions of the bad guy touched each other and imploded, why didn’t the bomb disappear? Wouldn’t anything his future self had done at that point cease to exist? I could go on…

Natural Shampoo

When thinking about writing this post, I just kept thinking of Tally Hall’s “Natural Ketchup” sketch. “Can you put it on French fries?”

Anyway, this post is about shampoo. As I was running out of my normal shampoo and surprisingly did not have any more stockpiled away, I thought maybe I should switch to something more organic, and less likely to give me cancer with all the chemicals. There are a lot of options out there, and I didn’t really want to waste time and money trying a bunch of stuff, so of course I turned to my friend J for advice. She has been doing the all organic thing since her kid was born a few years ago, and recently announced that she has switched out all her chemical-laden beauty products for natural ones. (Except I think she still gets acrylic nails? Whatever, I’m not judging.)

J recommended the shampoo and conditioner from Organic Excellence, which are also highly recommended by one of her favorite bloggers, The Glamorganic Goddess. This stuff is not cheap! But, they all said it is the best. J even gave me a couple almost empty bottles so I could sample it for myself. I tried it out for a week. The first day or so, I didn’t really notice a difference. After that, my hair started feeling dirty when I was fresh out of the shower. Like it was second-day hair. By the end of the week, I just felt gross. I considered using this stuff every other day, alternating with my regular deadly shampoo, because even 50% less chemicals would be an improvement, right?

But I decided to try one more option. When I asked for shampoo recommendations at my favorite green living message board, someone suggested Nature’s Gate. Guess what – there are about a million Nature’s Gate options, I learned when I got to the store. The first thing I noticed is that there is a second line, Nature’s Gate Organics, so I decided to just look at these products. I ended up choosing the Lavender and Aloe “for all hair types” shampoo and conditioner, and I’ve been using it for several days now. I love it. It was rated a 5 in the EWG database, and its score comes mostly from the fragrance it contains, but it is the last ingredient in the list. And I’m sure this product is still better to use than regular shampoo. Anyway, if it kills me, at least my hair will look good…

“Clean Freaks” on HGTV

Last night I happened to be watching HGTV when a new show came on, “Clean Freaks.” (And I ended up live-tweeting it with Amy and Natalie, which was fun!) It was amazing, I wish it was a whole series! Sabrina Soto traveled around and visited some of the most organized people in the country (one professional organizer, the others appeared to be bloggers). I consider myself a very organized person, but these people are just way beyond…

Nobody really convinced me to change anything, though. If anything, a lot of their organizing tips seemed kind of wasteful. Especially the first woman they featured. For example, in her bathroom closet, she had everything in identical plastic bins, and labeled everything. If you live there, can’t you probably tell what’s where? The labels are only useful to someone who doesn’t know where to find things. I opened my bathroom closet to see if I could incorporate anything from her, and I really couldn’t. Yes, my bins and baskets may not all match, and they are unlabeled, but I could quickly tell which held cleaning supplies, shampoo and bodywash, toothbrushes and toothpaste, foot care products (yes, I have an entire basket just for foot scrubs and lotions), etc. She also redid somebody’s closet, and ended up putting each pair of shoes into an individual plastic shoe box – which is great if you’ve got room for a million plastic boxes in your closet, but wouldn’t really work for me. Somehow my little shoe shelf system is still working just fine. This woman also recommended creating a chore chart, where you mark off with a sticker which tasks you’ve completed. What is the point of that? Now you have to keep a zillion color coded stickers around to fill out your chart, and then what, you throw it out at the end of the week? Why not do something online, or use a whiteboard or something?

One of the other women featured has pre-printed lists and charts for everything, like shopping lists. (In fact, she’s selling them on her web site.) I write my shopping lists on scrap paper, and somehow still remain organized while shopping. I don’t even color code them (most of the time). I just use different shaped bullet points for produce, grocery, and refrigerated items. I try to write them in order, but that doesn’t always happen. When this lady got home from the store, she decanted all her items into plastic containers. On one hand, I guess that’s a good way to be able to see how much is left in a box of cereal or pasta. But on the other hand, that seems like a waste of time to do, and a waste of space, as these containers are much larger than just the standard cereal box.

The one tip that I liked was to use plastic file bins to organize bags of stuff in your freezer. Right now there is not much in our freezer anyway, but when it does get messy, it’s usually because of half-empty bags of frozen fruits and stuff. Keeping all that mess organized in bins and boxes does sound like a pretty great idea.

Overall, even though I probably wouldn’t incorporate most of these tips myself, I enjoyed the show, and I think it was really inspiring for people. Plus, I love Sabrina Soto (is it because of her connection with Target? She just seems like a lot of fun). I hope they make this a real series!