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  • MCU

    We've been re-watching the marvel movies in the lead up to Infinity War. There was this neat little graphic that laid out the plan to watch one a week from, I think December, until the release in May.

    Three things happened:

    1. The movie release got bumped up to April 27. 

    2. We are really bad at watching movies in a timely manner

    3. I forget what the third one was

    As I write this, we're watching Age of Ultron. All things said, it's one of my least favorite in the MCU. I think Iron Man 2 is below it, but that might be it. It has moments, and James Spader, but there are problems with it. (Hi Joss Whedon)

    I love how the movies have different 'voices'. The Thor movies, especially Ragnarok, fall on a far more 'lighthearted' side, even when dealing with dark topics. Guardians movies are also goofy in a way that Captain America and Iron Man aren't. 

    Though we've taken our time with it, it's been interesting to watch them in somewhat near succession. There's a lot more character development from movie to movie than you'd think for action flicks. Once you get to phase two and three, everyone from phase one looks wide eyed and naive. Worlds get more complex, plans backfire, friends and loved ones get lost along the way. 

    The MCU takes it's time, and it sees a bigger picture. It's not flawless, of course, but by the time you get to the first Avengers movie, you've spent at least one movie with each main character. That makes the payoff even better. Once they've all met, the movies start intermingling, and the world gets tighter. Characters start popping up in movies that aren't theirs, and it works. It makes the world feel fleshed out - the consequences of things that happen in Ultron are played out in Civil War. I see that Andy Serkis is in Ultron - and also in Black Panther. It's not only a universe in name, but in practice. 

    That's part of what makes these movies so engaging, that what happens in one carries on to the next. That's also why I'm so nervous about Ininity War. So many characters ... so much danger. I'm afraid that characters I've grown to know and love over the past decade won't make it through. 

    And that, right there, is how you know Marvel has done something right. 

  • Cuppie for Congress

    Cuppie for Congress

    My name is Maggie Buttercup and I have approved this message.

    Do you want an alternative to all those fat cats up on Capitol Hill, only looking out for themselves? Then on election day, remember me, Maggie Buttercup.

    Over the last year, I have worked tirelessly to make friends with even the crankiest of kitties. If I can do that, I'm pretty sure I can do anything.

    I have a certificate of completion from Cat Tricks, which makes me a highly qualified candidate. I have been working on my public speaking skills, and I'm certain that they will be up to par by summer.

    I come from humble origins at the Lynchburg Humane Society, one of six kittens. My brother and I were fortunate to escape a life of endless breeding and wondering where our next meal will come from. I want to pay forward the generosity I have received.

    All this typing is really wearing me out, so I'm going to go take a nap now. Remember: Maggie Buttercup. A fluff like none other.

  • Gwen and the Hurp Durp Herpies

    Gwen and the Hurp Durp Herpies

    So we learned this week that all signs point to Gwen having feline herpes. YAY. (Not yay)

    Little girl came down with her second upper respiratory infection in a matter of a few months, which makes it look like she's got herpes, and her immune system is probably a little stressed. From my point of view, I think Gwen got the URI, passed it to Aeris, who ping-ponged it right back. Whereas Aeris looks like she kicked the URI like a champ, Gwen ... can't. She had been 'kinda sneezy' for several weeks, and then the sneezing went to eleven and she turned into a goopy, drippy, miserably sick cat in the space of a weekend.

    We don't know what this means for the bigger picture yet. Hopefully these are just a couple immune system hiccups for Gwen, and after this round of antibiotics, we can go back to smooth sailing. But, if the herpes is a fact, stress can trigger flareups.

    Haaaaaave you met Cuppie? Maybe I should have named her "Herpes Stressor".

    I'm kidding ... mostly. I don't know whether/how much the little ones stress Gwen out. She seems to handle them pretty well, and even enjoys playing with Cuppie. So I don't think she's a problem. Mostly.

    However, I know that our trips up north are a source of stress for her, coupled with the fact that she now needs 2x daily medicine, and we haven't tried that whole thing with anyone else yet. We don't know whether Gwen will let anyone put gel on her ears, or if that will stress her out. If it does, we don't know if that, along with us being gone, will cause a flareup.

    So I guess we'll see. I told Matt that until we've got her figured out, we'll have to be prepared to cut trips short if we have to. Because let me tell you, Gwen is a little firebrand when it comes to medicine. She is pretty good with us because we're her people, and she impaled the living daylights out of my thumb tonight. (To be fair, I was shoving a pill down her throat. I'd be impaling people too.)

    She went to the vet on Monday, and writing this, it's Wednesday night. She's been a lot better today. She scurried around the house about like normal, and had a few words with Cuppie and Vizzi for following her from room to room. They were just really happy that she's feeling better. The vet is supposed to call me tomorrow and tell me that I can pick up liquid antibiotics for her, so that the next week will be roughly 50% less traumatizing. Since they only gave me three days of pills, I'll be calling them if I don't hear from them.

    From here on out, we're supposed to call the vet right away if she starts sneezing a lot, so that we can start antibiotics before she turns into a sad, drippy mess. I'm not usually a fan of LOTS OF ANTIBIOTICS, but if you'd seen sad Gwennie in all her drippy glory, you'd probably be on board with this plan too.

    She looked sadder and more pathetic than I've ever seen her - and I saw her with a mouth full of rotten teeth that made her not want to eat.

    Antibiotics it is!

  • Here, there, everywhere.

    During a chat the other day, Matt and I decided that I would take over his Fictional Discipline site. I want to write more (both blog & fiction), and the FD site gives me a bit of structure that this one lacks. Turns out, when you can write about anything, you find yourself writing about nothing. So I'm in the process of putting my own stamp on the place, redecorating and all that.

    I'll still maintain this site, such as it is. I'm hoping that if I'm writing more over there, it'll grease the wheels a little bit and I'll have more to write about in general. Right now, my personal life is mostly about cats. I feel a little guilty constantly cat-blogging, even though it's my site, and if there's one thing the internet in general seems to tolerate, it's cats.

    So, while I'm grooving to some Elton John, you go check out Fictional Discipline.

  • Where'd the spring go?

    Where'd the spring go?

    Cuppie and Vizzi send their regards. Also, they're really wishing for more spring-like weather. We've gotten some snow in the last week, so their window viewing has been pretty non-existant. I'm not opening the screen when it's snowing. I'm not that crazy. :)

  • Mikuppie

    Mikuppie

    Sometimes Cuppie does things that remind me a lot of Mikenna. I guess it's inevitable, what with them both being animals. I probably look for things too, since she's so special.

    But it's okay, because when I see Cuppie doing something that is particularly Koo-like, it makes me happy. Not only did I have a dog who made me incredibly happy, but I've got a cat (or four) who does, as well.

  • Four is Enough

    We're at a pretty amazing place with the cats, these days. The majority of the time, they spend time in the same room - even Gwen is currently passed out on the bed. She's been playing with the kittens now for a couple of weeks, which still shocks me. 

    What's awesome about the kittens is that they really like Gwen, even when she's a crankybutt at them, and they aren't intimidated by her. When Cuppie gets smacked at, she turns right around and plops as close to Gwen as she's allowed. They seem to understand when Gwen means it and when she's just being Gwennie. The fluffs periodically try to sneak up on Gwen and groom her, with very limited success so far, but I feel like at the rate they're going, they might just win her over. 

    The only downside to all this cat love is that when I say "you can't go from one end of the house to the other without stepping on a cat" - it can be true. At least one, but as many as three cats will follow me into the bathroom, which is smaller than most half baths I see. If they don't follow me into the bathroom, when I go to leave, they'll be flopped outside the door, like some floppy cat massacre. When the cats are full of energy, you'd better look before crossing, lest some cat smash into your legs or trip you up. 

    But all this is great. It's like the cats finally see each other as family - or at least as permanent residents that they're better off getting along with. I love having cats that want to be around us, and around each other. But we are definitely at our cat limit for the time being. We've got a nice balance that I don't dare disrupt. 

    As I write this, I kid you not, Vizzi is sleeping with his paw in one of my shoes. They're a weird bunch.

  • Bored Games

    I've always had a real soft spot for board games. However, a real drawback to being an only child is that I didn't often have people to play them with. My parents weren't really into them, though now that I look at children's games from this side of the grass, I'd need to have my arm twisted as well. 

    Trivia games were generally the most successful in our house. I think it's partially because I was decently good at trivia for my age, and they weren't as dumb as other games. 

    Occasionally my dad could be roped into playing mouse trap with me. Has anyone ever played mouse trap? I don't know how that game actually works, because I think we always ended up just building the trap and setting it off a few times before giving up and putting it away. 

    There were some cliche late 80's/early 90's games that I reallyreally wanted, but never got. Mall Madness was one of them. I don't remember how to play it, but there was a mall and there was some sort of cool speaker thing and I couldn't believe that my friend Krista didn't think it was the coolest thing ever. 
    I also wanted Pretty Pretty Princess, though even by the time it came out, I think I was a bit old for it. I remember being a little disappointed at how easy it was when I played it at my friend Deanna's house, but the allure of decking yourself out in little plastic rings, necklaces and bracelets was too much to resist. 
    Candy land was also super fascinating to me, as much for the art as the game itself. That was also a game that was incredibly annoying to revisit as an adult. 

    But the game that captivated me was the game of life. That one wasn't super popular with my parents - I think my copy was something picked up at a garage sale or something. But that one I could manage to play on my own - certainly not by the actual rules - but it was fun to me to play by myself, unlike a lot of games. I could make up stories about each car, why things happened to each family and how they felt about it. 

    In the early 2000's, Hasbro put out a pc version of the game of life, and I spent many hours playing that. It was like the game gods looked down and gave me an actual way to play by myself. 

    I'm really happy that the board game industry has evolved. There's so many more intelligent games that can be played through broader age ranges and have a lasting quality to them. There are well thought out games that technically can be played by one person, which surprisingly, I've yet to take advantage of, but thrills me to see. We don't have a real good gaming community here in Virginia, but I hold out hope that we'll find people, or turn some of our existing friends into board game fanatics. It seems like even children's games have evolved to some extent, looking to be smarter and sleeker. 

    Although, I did run across a game whose point was to flush a toilet. SO. There's exceptions to every rule. 

  • A game of tricks

    For the last five weeks, Cuppie has been enrolled in a "cat tricks" class. Sometimes, I'm not sure if I've managed to teach her anything, or if I've just given three cats a way to sneak more treats out of me. 

    Unless I'm exceptionally lucky, I can't just train one cat. Most of the time, there are three, though sometimes I can get away with just two. The cool thing is that if you station train your cats, you can kind of get them to sit in one place while you work with one at a time. You just have to reward the cats you aren't working with for sitting where they're supposed to. I feel like I have some exceptionally cooperative cats, but then again, if someone were to tell me that *I* could have cookies just for sitting in this one spot while someone else had to earn their cookies, I'd see that I had the better deal. 

    The important part is that it feels like a game to them, and that you make it as clear as possible what the game is. They'll test it out - do I get a treat for just getting near your hand, or do I really have to touch your finger? Do I have to step over the bar, or can I just walk around it and we call it good? 

    Make your changes incremental. If your cat starts to succeed at one stage of the game, don't be afraid to make it more challenging - but also, understand that you may have to dial it back down.

    Also, the weirdest things can affect whether the cat knows what's going on. I had the chance to work with some humane society cats - and one would get very good at doing high fives through the bars of the cage. But as soon as that door was opened, it was like everything he'd learned flew out the door. I had to walk him back through his queues to get back to the high fives - even then, he was super distracted at now having visual access to his neighbors. 

    It's been a lot of fun. So far, Cuppie's most impressive trick is a high five. Considering that Mikenna never reliably mastered sitting on command, I feel pretty proud. 

    With any luck, I'll catch Vizzi up to Cuppie with the high fives, and then we'll start working on spins more and introducing the concept of going through a hoop. 

    Now, if I can only train them to wash the dishes.