SAST 09

With just a tiny bit of luck, this will be the last Short Attention Span Theater for a while. Barring unexpected events, Like Herding Cats will go out to the beta readers this week and I’ll be able to stop stripping my mental transmission by jumping back and forth among writing, re-writing, and copy-editing.

Which brings me to the first production on today’s program. I could use another beta reader. Now, before you immediately deluge me in requests, let me remind you what beta reading is and is not.

It is not an opportunity to read a book before anyone else. Well, okay, it is, but it’s also a requirement that you read the book critically. I’m not looking for “Hey, great book. I love it!” I want to know what doesn’t work. To that end, along with the book, beta readers get a laundry list of questions like, “Were all of the plot twists properly supported, or was there a point where somebody acted out of character in order to change the story’s direction?” and “Were there any jokes that just didn’t work for you?”

I don’t expect every reader to answer every question, but these are the things I need to know to make the book better, so the more you can answer–and especially, the more faults you find–the happier I’ll be. I want beta readers to find the problems, not agents and editors!

Still interested? There’s one more qualification: you must be familiar with modern urban fantasy, by which I mean you’ve read several works in the field which were published within the past five years. “Several” means “more than one, and by more than one author”.

If you’re still interested, drop me an email. Do NOT apply via a comment on the post, by Facebook Messenger, or by Twitter reply. Thank you.

Moving on.

And, speaking of jobs, I got a weird offer in email recently.

We bought our car from a dealership, and we take it in for maintenance every six months. They’ve got my email address because I like getting a reminder that it’s time for the next visit and because they send out occasional special offers. Yeah, imagine that, advertising done right: opt-in.

So then I got this latest note from them. “Join our team!” says the subject line. Uh-huh. Job listings. And not just sales positions. They’re looking for a mechanic and for a person to check cars in and out of the service department.

Apparently they consider recruiting to be a type of advertising. The email has their boilerplate at the bottom reminding me that I opted-in to receive occasional ads.

I find it slightly amusing, but also more than a trifle creepy. Imagine if the idea catches on. “Hey, I hope you liked the espresso you bought last week. How would you like to be a barista?” “Thanks for making your last credit card payment on time. Wanna join our team? We’ve got openings in the boiler room calling the deadbeats whose payments haven’t come in.”

There’s a place for everything–and that’s not the place for job postings.

Next time I take the car for maintenance, I’ll ask how many job applicants the email generated–and firmly request they remove my name from that list.

Moving on.

It appears our cats know there’s a place for everything. And once in a while, they take a vacation from playing “Gravity’s Little Helper” to put things in the right place.
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We’ve taught them that fish comes in cans. So yes, that’s the current incarnation of Mr. Mousiefish, carefully place in a gooshy fud can–presumably so he can be eaten later.

Moving on.

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I can’t decide if this is so meta it’s hilarious or so cliché it’s painful. Though I lean toward the latter.

Joe, ya shouldn’ta oughta done it.

House Work

We’re having a little pre-Winter work done on the house. It involves the usual construction noises: hammering, sawing, and the occasional random crash/thud.
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Most of the cats have been conspicuous by their absence.

Watanuki takes his position as Head of Security seriously. He may look a little crazed, but by Bast, he’s on the job.
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A little more crazed than usual, that is.

There’s always one weirdo in the bunch, though.
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Somebody who shrugs and says, “Wake me up when it’s dinner time.”

Consolation

Something to cheer Jackie up in the face of her Orioles’ less than stellar performance this year.

Rufus continues to settle in. He still spends most of the day in “his” room–but why shouldn’t he? That’s where his food bowls are, that’s where the green pod/bed is, and that’s where the comfy futon is.
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I believe the officially-sanctioned descriptive phrase these days is “totes adorbs”. But don’t quote me on that.

Yes, that is a Hello Kitty pillow at the upper right and a Kliban blanket under his head. Nothing but the finest in feline-themed sleep gear for our crew.

Anyway, he does come downstairs occasionally, when the spirit moves him. And recently he not only joined the communal “sprawl on Casey” ritual for the first time, but he was actually the one who started it.
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Kokoro is usually the one to kick it off, but she didn’t seem too put out that he had gotten there first. Probably because he was smart enough to leave her favorite nest vacant.

And Rufus handled the arrival of the remaining participants with aplomb.
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Of course, it’s not all “Hail fellow, well met!”

There are still territorial disputes. Rufus is willing to defend his turf
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To a point.
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But, by and large, he’s fitting in better every day. Even the disputes are becoming more familial.

Quantum Leap

Rufus’ horizons continue to expand.

He’s begun making solo forays downstairs. He’s visited the kitchen and dining room a couple of times–he quite enjoyed spending time on the rug where Maggie sprinkles catnip.

He’s come into the bedroom a few times. On two of those visits, I’ve put him on the bed and given him cuddles. Both times he seemed nervous and left as quickly as he politely could. He is, as I’ve noted before, a very polite creature.

Last week he dropped by the other cats’ food bowls and was quite miffed to discover there was no food in them.
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We explained that it’s extremely rare to find food in the bowls in the evening, because we fill them shortly before bedtime. He listened, nodded, and then said “But there’s no food in the bowls.” Well, actually he said “Growp, gwack,” but we’re fairly sure about the translation.

The real breakthrough came this Wednesday. I had been upstairs working, and came down to flop on the bed to read for a while, only to discover that my spot had been usurped. Yes, that’s my pillow he’s leaning against.
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I don’t know how long he’d been there, but he seemed quite comfortable.

Even more impressively, he wasn’t alone.
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Yuki and Rufus shared the bed for at least two hours–I wound up reading elsewhere–and parted amicably.

Boxed

Did you know that rabbits are susceptible to Maru’s Syndrome?
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“If it fits, I sits,” indeed. There were several bunnies at the county fair who had more extreme cases of the disease, but this one was the cutest.

Speaking of boxes, I went to clean the litter boxes a few days ago and discovered that someone had left a message.
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That’s not a casual comment or accident. The scoop normally lies on the artificial grass mat visible at the lower left. Whoever it was had to pick it up and carry it into the box.

And no, I don’t think the message was that the box needed cleaning. Despite what it looks like in this picture, it actually had less mess in it than usual.

Nor has the message been repeated. Maybe it was just “I’m bored and this looks like a toy.”

I don’t know who left the message either, but odds are good that it was one of these guys.
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They may look cute and innocent when they’re curled up on the bed together, but I’m fairly sure that the more innocent they look, the more likely they are to be plotting some fresh deviltry.

And, speaking of deviltry, Sachiko wanted to know when I was going to put her on the blog again.
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Never let it be said that I gave her an excuse to bury the litter box scoop. Not that she’d need an excuse if she thought of it.

Widening Horizons

A couple of weeks ago, Rufus came to visit me in the bedroom. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. In truth, I lured him into exploring with copious quantities of petting.

But the point is, he made it into the bedroom.

Barely.
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As you can see, he was under close observation* by Watanuki, who considers the entire house to be his territory.

* If you’ve never seen cats playing the “I’m not looking at you, so you damn well better not move a muscle” game, I pity you. It’s hilarious.

Eventually Rufus retreated to his familiar territory upstairs, and he hasn’t been back downstairs since. But it’s still progress.

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His new den has been rather more successful. It took him about half a day to decide it was a great hangout.

Mind you, we had intended him to sit on top of it so he could look out the window, but so far he’s not interested.

Which may be a good thing, as someone else is.
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Surprisingly, their interactions have been peaceful.

Mostly.

‘Nuki occasionally tries to figure out what’s going on underneath him.

Fortunately, he’s a bit unclear on the concept.
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I don’t think Rufus even noticed Mr. Knuckles’ investigation.

Fencing

No, no, the other kind of fencing.

Remember last month when I joked about our backyard fence falling apart? Yeah, maybe not so much a joking matter.
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As I implied, the fence was rotted out beyond repair, so the whole thing had to come down.
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Living with craters and loose poles was interesting. Even the neighbors thought so.
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Actually, Tuxie and MM were real troupers through the whole process, and kept a close watch on the deconstruction and subsequent construction.
04-3If only the Bay Bridge had had such dedicated QA engineers! They came by every evening to make sure the job was being done to spec.

Nor were they the only ones to drop by.
04-4We lost a few plums to that guy. Though, in fairness, I should say that we only saw him eating groundfall.
04-5Naturally, the local gang came by as well. “Nice fence you’re building there. Be a shame if anything happened to it, y’know?”
04-6MM and Tuxie weren’t impressed, and extended their supervisory warrant to include security. And no, the changes didn’t affect their appetites.

So now we’ve got a lovely, new fence.
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Even Tuxie approves.
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Some Things Never Change

I hope nobody thought I’d leave you without a cat picture or two today, just because I posted the Rufus picture on Wednesday.

Oh, no, I wouldn’t do that. Special means exactly that.

So, without further ado, Rhubarb and Yuki, doing what they do best.

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Even when the politics get furrier than usual–and they have been, what with Rufus’ integration, ‘Nuki’s determination to be boss, Sachiko’s on-again-off-again feud with Kokoro, and too many more continuing dramas for me to conveniently count–they still find time to snuggle up and snooze.

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Is there anything lovelier than a pair of intertwined tails?

Topsy Turvy

Everything’s a bit topsy-turvy around here.

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Yes, even Watanuki. (All joking aside, he spends hours in positions like that. I know when they want to be, cats are, for all practical purposes, boneless. But how can he possibly be comfortable?)

It’s all because of the political implications of Rufus joining the gang.

Truth to tell, he’s doing very well. Negotiations rarely come to violence in the halls–at least not of the sort that requires human intervention with leather gloves and/or squirt bottles.

Clashes, yes. But for every moment when somebody gets a paw-slap to the forehead or a cold nose up the ass,14-2

there’s also at least one like this:

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Chillin’

Rhubarb and Sachiko hope you’ve had as good a week as they have.

Rhubarb’s spent most of it chilling on his favorite chair.
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It’s also my favorite chair, which has made for a few awkward moments, but since he gets it for approximately twenty-two hours a day, I don’t feel too guilty about dispossessing him for the other two hours.

Sachiko, on the other paw, has resumed her on again/off again love affair with the spare chair on the other side of the table.
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It’s got a nice, comfy cushion, but more importantly, it’s conveniently placed for her to stare at Rhubarb for hours on end.

It doesn’t bother him much, as far as we can tell. But when I take over the chair, her staring sure makes me nervous.