• Otter and the Vet

    For a while, Otter (aka AngryCat) has been complaining quite a bit when he was drinking from his water bowl. It was only when I took him into the vet to get him looked at for some litter-box related issues that I found out that he had some dental issues that needed fixing. So, last Sunday afternoon I took him into the vet to be overnighted (as he needed to fast, and that’s not easy with Cylia around too) so he could get these dental issues fixed the next day.

    Monday ended up being a roller-coaster of emotions related to him. The pre-op blood test they did showed that he was just into stage 2 (out of 4) kidney disease, so I will be looking at managing this with prescription food for him. That’ll again be interesting with Cylia around, and I’m thinking I may have to look at RFID pet feeders so each cat can get the food appropriate to them. Overall, I’m not worried about this problem for him. He’s 15 years old, and this tends to be a problem with older cats, and it is manageable. The other issue that got me worried briefly was the vet thought that he may have some thyroid issue, but fortunately after running the test for that it turned out not to be the case.

    He came back Monday early evening, minus 3 teeth, and pretty much spent the evening camped out by the water bowl, really as a reaction to coming out of the anaesthetic and having a tube down his throat for a couple of hours than anything else. He’s still not quite back to himself, but was showing more signs of normalizing by yesterday evening. He is being extremely uncooperative about taking the painkiller and antibiotic medications though; they’re just in liquid form that I have to syringe into his mouth… and I have fresh scratches to illustrate his disapproval at this.

    Otter after returning from vet

  • Sucky past couple of months

    Posted on by frysco

    The last couple of months have been… crap.

    Work has been so stressful and busy, and I was on call for 4 out of 8 consecutive weeks, and hadn’t been sleeping well as a result of that.

    Otter (aka, Angry Cat) is now 15 years old, and having a few health issues. He has a bad tooth that’s been bothering him (and needs removing), and a bit of a digestive tract issue (that I’m not sure has righted itself yet).

    The last two weeks of May was meant to be relaxing and stress free. The reality? Far from it.

    My flight from Vancouver to London was one of the worst that I’ve had, as there were two screaming kids behind me that didn’t really shut up the whole flight. Add to that that people who passed by in the aisle were so klutzy that they kept bumping into me, I could barely get any sleep. That pretty much set me up for catching a cold, which bothered me for about 3/4 of the time I was in the UK.

    Next, I had organized to courier a bag up from my parents’ place (near Epsom in Surrey – no, not the Surrey in British Columbia) to the Confuzzled hotel in Birmingham. The idea was that last year I had carried two big hockey bags and a roll-aboard with me on the train, and darn near put my back out. I didn’t want to do that this time, and specifically wanted to bring Tseatah (mk.II) and Cisco (my realistic grey fox made by Alopex) to the con, as well as Kootenay. After looking around, I chose Virgin’s “Bag Magic” service. They contract that out to P4D – a package management company – who sub-contract that to various couriers; in this case, TNT. A TNT courier picked up my bag on Wednesday (May 20th), gave me a signed copy of the delivery note as confirmation, and I expected it to be at the con by Friday, at the latest, when I got there. I get to the hotel, and no bag. I try to contact P4D, go into a phone hold queue for ages, and in the end don’t get an answer because they head off at 4:30pm Fridays. The customer service was meant to be monitoring their email over the weekend, but I didn’t get any response to my questions. I did find a tracking number for TNT that I could use on their website, and found the tracking page said ‘please call the Birmingham depot’; I did, and was informed that was there because the Birmingham depot knew (from the shipping order) that they should be getting a package, but hadn’t received it. I only got through to P4D on Tuesday morning, because Monday was a Bank Holiday in the UK.

    Even now, the bag has still not been located and is presumed lost, but still believed to be within TNT’s system ‘somewhere’. Tseatah mk.II & Cisco were in that bag, and the most insurance I could get on the bag was just £1,000 which covers just a fraction of how much both of those costumes cost.

    Yes, that’s right: A courier company in the UK LOST two of my fursuits. I’ve been told that packages will often show up weeks or months after they’ve been lost, but being the pessemist I am, I’m not hopeful.

    As for Confuzzled itself, I’m really not sure what I made of it this year, other than I don’t think it was as good as last year when I went for the first time.

    To summarize why:

    1. I was stressed/angry/upset about my bag not having arrived, which grew over the weekend to fears of it being lost, which also meant that I missed certain costuming opportunities that I’d really been hoping for
    2. I was under the weather, thanks to my screaming-kids-from-the-flight cold
    3. There were a few people that I thought that would be back at the con this year (that I’d hoped to see) that weren’t
    4. The socialization at the con seemed lacking from last year – particularly, last year people pretty much hung out in the lounge bar. This year, while the bar was used, more of the people that I knew/wanted to hang with seemed to head off to room parties elsewhere. By 11pm-midnight, I could count the number of people in the bar that I knew on one hand.

    Once the con was over, I went back to my parents’ place. My plan originally was to find some other folks I know and meet up one night. I ended up not because I’d become quite depressed about the bag situation, which wasn’t improving, and really felt like doing nothing at all.

    My flight back to Vancouver was no better than it was the way out; if anything, it was worse. Instead of screaming kids behind me, there was a bawling baby behind me, and then screaming kids in the next three rows in front of me. Seriously, I just could not win at all. Normally I try and get about 4 hours of sleep in the ~9 hour flight back to get me back near the time zone I usually operate in (which, despite my living in Pacific US time, seems to be Eastern US time), but didn’t manage more than maybe 90 minutes of actual sleep. So today, I’m struggling to stay awake at work (despite going to sleep last night at 8:45pm, waking up briefly at 11pm, and then waking up again at 4:15am) – and I normally do so well with avoiding jet-lag. 😛

    Oh, and I’m still worried about Otter; he seems a thinner than before I left. Perhaps it might be down to my being away, or his tooth bothering him more (which bothers him more when he drinks water than eats, really). I’m going to keep monitoring him closely.

    So, that was April and May – with May being the worst month I’ve had in a long time.

    Here’s hoping June is better. First big notable event for the month is today – when I get my new car (blue 2015 Prius V with tech package).


  • Canadian “Con”-tent

    This past weekend was VancouFur, a local furry convention.

    I admit that I went into this convention with a touch of the “meh”‘s. I tend to have that more when the convention is local to me instead of when I have to travel a great distance. A lot of that is that just having to drive 30 minutes is not enough time to sufficiently go into “con mode” than 16 hours of driving or 10+ hours of airplane travel.

    Another big part of the “meh”‘s is that VancouFur is a small convention, with 724 attendees. While that might seem like quite a few, it really didn’t feel like there were ever that many people there. The most people that I ever saw around the lobby area was perhaps 40-60 watching as the fursuit parade went through. The rest of the time the lobby peaked at maybe 25-30 people, and frequently went down to “I can count the people here on one hand”.

    The number of people around at any time has a direct correlation to “Do I want to get out in costume or not?” If there are enough people around, then sure – it’s worth the time that it takes to put something complex all together and get dressed and wander out. If it’s just ‘handful’, then I really don’t consider it worth the time to spend all that effort into getting ready, only to just go down to walk around the lobby area where there’s barely anyone to interact with.

    Why does this con in particular always feel like there are so fewer people there than actually are? I think that a lot of it could be due to the hotel itself. At that hotel, the Executive Suites Hotel & Conference Centre in Burnaby, practically every room is a suite, which gives you personal hang-out space that you can invite people up to and disappear from the convention for however long. Consider also that the only real “public hang-out and chat space” was the lobby which was small and didn’t have a lot of seats, and this also would drive people up to their rooms. Essentially, this makes the convention a Room Party Con and draws people away from the public gather spaces. If you’re not part of the right groups, then you can end up feeling fairly ostracized from all of those ‘parties’ going on.

    This year too, the convention hotel wasn’t large enough for everyone who wanted to stay, so perhaps half the people were over in the overflow hotel which was a fair distance away from the main hotel. This then meant that likely a good number of people were hanging out in and around that hotel instead of the main one.

    I also feel that the majority of the demographic at this convention is that of the younger, more into parties type person, of which I’m not. I’m on the wrong side of 40 years old now, and I don’t really care for the “drink yourself silly” parties that seem to be the norm with people here (locally). That, as well, may be why I seem to have fallen by the wayside of the furry community here, and never really hear about anything that’s going on.

    That leads into another reason why this convention didn’t ‘click’ for me either. The majority of people were the locals with only a few out-of-towners that I knew. With my social interests not aligning well with many of the locals these days, this meant less people I really wanted to hang out with at the con.

    Next convention for me is Confuzzled, over in the UK. I have a lot farther to travel for that, and the lounge bar in the Birmingham Hilton Metropole hotel is an awesome public hang-out space, and there’s always people around there and in the lobby… all that makes that convention look far more appealing than my local one.

  • In Print

    Kickstarter (or similar crowdfunding campaigns) have become a ‘thing’ of late. So far, I’ve contributed to two of them.

    The first was the ‘Gothtropolis Ravens’ ‘action figures’, which I did because they were action figures of anthropomorphised birds. The second was for the third book (A Shard of Sun) in the ‘Summer King Chronicles‘ series by J.E.Owen; a book series that focuses on gryphons (or gryfons, as the author calls them).

    For the ‘Ravens’ campaign, it took a very long time from the moment that I had contributed to the time that the figures were actually delivered. I’ll have to go back and see when I contributed, but I did not get the figures delivered until the latter part of December (and did not get to pick them up until after getting back from Further Confusion, due to where I had them delivered, as sending them to Canada would have added to the cost in a large way).

    The book kickstarter had a much quicker turnaround, as the campaign closed accepting donations in mid December, and I received access to the eBook version of the book last week. As for the book itself, I’ve already finished reading it, and now eagerly waiting for the fourth and final book in the series.

    What I really want to put forward here is the emotional return that I got out of each of these.

    The ‘figures’ all seemed like a great idea when the campaign was going on and for a few months afterwards, but the longer it took to actually get the figures really drained the emotional investment that I’d put into it. In fact, since I got the figures back, I haven’t even opened the shipping box they came in yet. It’s still sitting downstairs in my living room, behind a chair.

    Yet the campaign for the ‘A Shard of Sun’ book has given me a much better feeling, and one that I continue to feel invested in.

    I credit a lot of this to the author of this series, Jess Owen, as well as Jennifer Miller (aka Nambroth). It was through Nambroth that I came to know about the series in the first place; back in October, she was doing a livestream session working on cover art for one of the books. I didn’t know which book it was for at the time, and I asked and was pointed in the direction of the book series. There’s not (at least, not that I know of) many book series that prominently feature gryphons, so this certainly caught my attention. So I bought the first book in the series on Kindle, and went through it relatively quickly (as I have a ~45 minute train journey to and from work each day). It took me about a week to get through the first book, and then I was onto the second. Once that was over, I eagerly awaited the third, which I knew would have a kickstarter campaign to fund it, as the other books had as well.

    Since I had very much enjoyed the first two books, and the author was around on social media (Twitter, Facebook) as well as DeviantArt, I did something that I’d never done before after reading a book; I left them a note on DA thanking them for the books and saying how I found them – and I got a reply! I replied, and got another reply! This was actually an author who enjoyed engaging with her readers, and that made me love this series all the more. She also took some sketch commissions, and I managed to get one of Morse. From my understanding, I think that she may have made it to at least one furry convention too – Rocky Mountain FurCon, I think? So she’s aware of our little odd fandom, which is another plus to me. I’d love to see her attend a convention as an actual guest, as I think she would be an interesting panel host too.

    Sadly, I did not get onto the kickstater for the 3rd book quick enough to get one of the large gryfon plush that was being offered, but I did get in at a level where I would get the physical print books (all three, including the two I had previously got as Kindle books) as well as the eBook of the latest. I’ll also be getting an enamel pin and an art print too.

    Yet what I didn’t notice (or did but forgot) was that my name would also appear in the acknowledgements of the book as a backer. So when I got to that part and saw it there, that was… a very interesting feeling. I’ve never had my name in print like that before in a published book, and that just added to the emotional return that I got from this campaign. To know that I’ve been part of something that made something very cool and something that I enjoy happen – even if the part that I played was just providing a little bit of money to make it possible.

    When the next campaign for the final book starts, I’ll most certainly be back to help.


  • Vote

    A few days ago, on the day of the US midterm elections, someone said “If you don’t vote, you have no license to complain.”

    That’s something that I took a bit of exception to, and here’s why.

    I lived in the US from July 1997 to October 2003 under an H1-B work visa. Then up in Canada, it was from October 2003 until almost November 2012 before I actually got a chance to vote.

    During this 15+ year time span, I was a productive, law-abiding, and most importantly, tax paying person in that country. Everything that I did contributed in some way to the country that I was living in. And there policies and decisions made by elected representatives of the citizens of those countries that could and did affect my life in that country.

    Now I do understand that being able to vote is a privilege that comes with citizenship, that your voice as part of a whole can help shape the direction that the country moves forward. But to flat-out tell people that “if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain” riles me.

    I know that non-citizens cannot vote, but that does not mean that they should be without voice. We may not have a direct say, but we know people who do have the right to vote, and those people can listen to what is said, understand where they’re coming from because they’re friends they work with every day.

    Now, of course, I do have the privilege to vote, and I got to do so once already since gaining my citizenship. I get to do so again with the civic elections that are coming up on November 15 (though I will be casting my ballot in advance this weekend, as I’ll be in Toledo, Ohio).

    This is somewhat of a weird election, due to it being for just the city. It’s actually far harder (well, for me anyway) to pay attention to what goes on at the civic level than what goes on at the provincial and federal levels. Those are talked about in the newspapers and on radio every day, and easy to find out information. Everything that happens on the civic level I have to either attend council meetings or read the local paper (which I don’t get, because the delivery people kept leaving it out in the rain and it turned to mush, so I figured ‘why bother?’)

    But, as this will be only the third time I’ll have ever voted for political elections in my life, I’ve done my due diligence, looked over candidate websites (those that had them – those that did not pretty much lost my vote straight away), and will be voting for a mayor and councillors. There’s also school board votes as well, but since I have no kids, no relationship and thus no kids even potentially on the horizon, I am going to not cast any ballots there. Yes, perhaps I’m shirking this civic duty for the first time, but the issues for that position are completely irrelevant to me and not something I can even understand right now.

    And yes, my third political election ever. I’m almost 41, and I’ve voted in that few. Or maybe fourth, I’m not sure. Why so few? Well, the first two I was able to do so in the UK, I really had no idea about political stuff at all and probably took cues from parents – something I so wouldn’t be doing now, because my views are pretty much a complete 180 from theirs. I could have sent votes back to the UK when I was in the US, but I didn’t care about the UK anymore (or was keeping an eye on what was going on). Instead, I was getting more familiar with the US system and paying attention to those issues. So then it was a long, dry period between then and the provincial elections last year, which was the first time I was eligible to cast a ballot here in Canada.

    It’s still on my wish list to try and get back down to the US again, and try to get permanent residency there…. whenever that might happen. If it did happen, I might be in my 50’s before I vote again.

  • Bird

    I think that I’ve come full circle… again.

    My first online character was a magpie. The next, a fox. From there, it went to kitsune, to gryphon (still with kitsune), to ‘critter’ (with assorted cast of background menagerie).

    But one thing that I never lost through all of this: the love of birds and avians.

    More and more of late I’ve been using Kootenay take center stage for me. If I had a more developed character (other than Morse) that was a magpie, I’d likely use him. Kootenay’s good though, because he’s a Steller’s Jay, and that’s a type of corvid. (I was toying around with a new magpie character, Penryn, but I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere.) I’ve said it many times in many places, but corvids (the crows, ravens, jays and magpies) are my absolute favorite family of birds. If I was to suddenly become a bird, I would want it to be a magpie. Failing that, a Steller’s Jay. Failing that, I’d be happy with any other corvid.

    With all of this playing forefront in my mind right now, I consider my various Twitter accounts.

    @frysco is likely going to stay as is. That’s become very much my non-furry fandom account – or the more “general content anyone might be interested in, perhaps with more Doctor Who (due to the podcast) content in there”

    @NikoliSpotkat remains as my very non-serious, playing an excessively horny and kinky snow leopard for humor (and possibly the nearest thing I have to an ‘After Dark’ account.

    But @tseatah has been the ‘face’ I’ve been presenting to the Furry fandom for a while. Now, I still very much love the character. I have three costume versions of him, and I do plan to get more. He is a unique ‘critter’ and I am not going to be giving him up for anything. Yet, I’m not sure he represents the core ‘me’.

    Heck, I’m not sure that Kootenay does either. He’s a happy, fun jay, and I’m … well, neither happy nor fun. But, I am relating to him more than the Critter now because… bird.

    I’m really thinking about renaming the @tseatah Twitter account to @k00tenay. Of course, I can’t have @kootenay, because there’s this actual, real place in British Columbia that is using it, and is already using the account name. Hmf.

    Maybe silly thinking or not, I don’t know. But I do know, I feel far closer to corvids these days in soul to that of a Critter.