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Category Archives: Random

How I saved $125 on a litter box

The litter box – such an attractive unit of furniture. If you’re lucky, you have an out of the way place to put the Poop Palace – a laundry room, an alcove, an unused closet. I have a friend who keeps hers in her extra bathtub. I was lucky – I have a great alcove in my condo for the litter box. But I still wanted to hide it – who wouldn’t? I’ve seen furniture that hides the litter box, but I really didn’t want to spend $120 (they’ve evidently since gone down since I last looked) on something my cat was going to poop in. I started looking around for furniture I could convert – hack, if you will.

A trip to the Habitat Restore yielded this cabinet ($45):

I also picked up a cat door at Lowe’s for $20. One saw cut later:

The cabinet came with 2 shelves, so I left one at the top to store things. The Beau installed a slider ($8) on the second shelf so I could slide it out to clean the litter box.

The cat door was loose in the cabinet, since it was made for an outer door rather than a thinner cabinet wall, so The Beau also put weather stripping to tighten the door, with the added benefit of keeping some of the smell in.

I was worried about the cat using the cat door, but it hasn’t been a problem.

A similar cabinet is selling for $200 on Amazon. A drawer would be nice, sure, but I like the ease of sliding the litter box out, instead.

Not a bad trade off.

What’s your best furniture hack?

*Update:  The Beau is going to install a partition, similar to the one in the cabinet selling on Amazon.  🙂

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Random

 

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Unintentional Writing Insight

“My eyes sting from the smell of typing ink. My fingers are striped with paper cuts. Who know paper and ink could be so vicious.”

    Kathryn Stockett, The Help, p. 357

Who knew paper and ink could be so vicious. True Dat.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Random

 

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Writing Exercise, or Copyright Infringement?

Writing Prompt: Think of a critical scene in a book you love. Write a different ending to the scene, then continue the story with the new ending in mind.

Congratulations, you’ve just written FanFiction.

Time Magazine had a piece in a recent issue about FanFiction – what it is, who does it, who likes it, and who doesn’t. It was a well written piece, and it really got me thinking.

I’ve never thought much of FanFic – and by that I mean I don’t think about it often. I’ve known about it for years, of course, and have read some, but sometimes finding something of quality is difficult. I don’t even have time to find new good blogs, let alone good FanFiction, so it’s simply not something I’m into. I don’t think I’ve actually written any FanFic, although I have thought out scenes in my head: What if Angel meets another vampire with a soul and falls in love with her – would she be his salvation? What if she’s an original vampire, and is immune to sunlight? The scenes I have written in my head are a mishmash of Angel/Blade/In the Forests of the Night mythology. So, yeah, FanFic.

Because isn’t that what we, as writers, do? We imagine What If. That is our mantra. We ask What If when it comes to the stories and characters we write, so it seems only natural we would ask it of the stories we read and watch.

What if Gale had been chosen for the games instead of Peeta?

What if Tom Buchanan died – would Daisy and Gatsby have gotten together?

What happened after Johnny drove away from Baby? Did they ever meet again?

What happened when Inigo Montoya took over as the Dred Pirate Roberts?

We think What If, we write that story down, and we want to share it with others who also wonder What If. It’s natural.

But is it legal?

FanFic writers do not make money on their stories when they post to websites like fanfiction.net, but is it still copyright infringement? Authors Ann Rice and Orson Scott Card think so, and are quite upset when fans pen What If. But others, Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling, are all for it, figuring it’s a great promotional tool. Is one group right and one group wrong?

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I think that if I were published and someone did fanfic on my work, I would be excited – I mean, after all, something I wrote inspired someone else enough to write! That’s amazing! But, wait, you’re having two of my most loved characters do what?! No, no, no, that’s not good at all. So yes, I understand perfectly where Rice and Card are coming from, in that respect, because you can’t say fanfic is fine, unless you do this with it. It doesn’t work that way.

Good FanFic truly is amazing – the ability some people have to truly know the characters the same way the original author does – or, at least, the layers the original author wants you to see. Maybe Stephanie Meyer did her own fanfic, wondering What If Bella had chosen Jacob instead of Edward, or What If Charlie dies in a werewolf attack? A thorough writer would certainly entertain the possibility, to see where the story goes.

Honestly, good (note the use of the word good here) fanfic seems like a lot of work to me. You have to really know these characters that were created in someone else’s head. That takes research, study, and more imagination than I think I have. (Not sure what that says about my skills as a writer…)

So, what do you think of fanfic? Good? Bad? Would you want someone creating fanfic based on your work?

Be sure to check out the Time article – some good quotes:

“…fan fiction was not just an homage to the glory of the original but also a reaction to it. It was about finding the boundaries that the original couldn’t or wouldn’t break, and breaking them.”

“…I love the show, but what if it went further? What happens if I press this big, shiny, red button that says “Do not press”?”

“It was a way to bring to light hidden subtexts that the show couldn’t address.”

“Fictional worlds, while they appear solid, are riddled with blank spots and unexposed surfaces.”

“It’s human nature to press at the boundaries of stories, to scrabble at the edges, to want to know what’s going on just out of range of the camera.”

“A writer’s characters are his or her children, but even children have to grow up eventually and do things their parents wouldn’t approve of.”

 


 
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Posted by on September 15, 2011 in Random, Thoughts

 

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If you’re having important thoughts, you must be in the shower

I used to have all these random thoughts floating through my head at the most inopportune time – while driving, while showering, while standing in line at the DMV.  Without fail, those ideas would escape me before I could get to a place to write them down, no matter how hard I tried to retain them in my brain.  I have written the most beautiful prose and the most insightful blog posts without pen and paper (or other mode of documentation).  You just haven’t seen them because of the lack of ability to document them.

I’ve kept a standard 3×3 post-it note pad in my car for several years now, as well as a pencil.  Although it’s not advisable, I’ve been known to write while driving (note – I don’t take my eyes off the road as I write, or I write at stoplights).  The results aren’t pretty, but the thought at least gets on paper.

Do *not* try this at home

I have also used my bathroom mirror as a scratch-pad for years, writing thoughts and to do lists in dry erase marker.  But someone recently pointed me to this nifty invention:  The Waterproof Notebook.  Genius!!  Never miss a brilliant idea again!

AquaNote

I’ve been known to use whatever is handy at other times – bill envelopes, paper napkins, the extra blank page usually in the back of a book, boarding passes, the white space in magazines.  But I finally found a good sized notebook that will fit in almost all my purses.  It’s big enough to actually write thoughts in, but not so big that it won’t fit in most of my purses.  Perfect.

Except…I’ve had it for three months now, and it’s damn near blank.  All I have in it is the name of a wine someone keeps looking for, and the dimensions of a shelf I need in the kitchen.

One day last week I did have a brilliant flash of something, and was so excited when I reached in and pulled out my little notebook.  Finally!  Something important to write down!

Wait, where’s my pen?

*sigh*  This is what happens when you come prepared.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Random

 

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This is why I don’t do Home Improvement projects

All I wanted to do was install a new ceiling fan.

My hatred for my current ceiling fan/light fixture has grown exponentially over the years.  The light was horrible, too harsh and glaring for regular use, with downward pointing lights.  I hated it, and only used it when absolutely necessary.

So, I decided to suck it up and get a new fan/light.  Also decided to get a new dimmer switch with it, white, as opposed to the ugly beige I currently have, and not quite so dated.

Saturday:  Pick out new fan, buy it plus new control switch.  Home, install fan, plug in LED light, install new control switch, turn power on, and….

Fan works, light doesn’t.

Okay, wiring issue.  Take fan apart to get back to wiring.  Nope, nothing.  Work on wiring again, nothing.

The Beau takes a break, goes to the bathroom, and I mess with the wiring some.  Go turn on the breaker.  Turn the switch on.

Pop.

“Oh, shit!” 

Now, in my head, in the two seconds after saying, “Oh Shit,” I think to myself that I have probably just scared the hell out of the Beau, who probably thinks I have just electrocuted myself but is unable to rush to my aid because he’s currently indisposed with his pants around his ankles.  I really should say something, let him know I’m not dead.  But all I can do is stare at the control, wondering what that popping sound was.

“SARA!!!”

“I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.”

Run outside, turn off breaker.  Come back in, sit on couch, and wait for him to come investigate.

So, after being properly chastised for f*&%ing with something I shouldn’t have, and a couple more rewiring attempts, we decide the light fixture must be bad. 

I run to Lowe’s (trip 2 – just to keep count), try to swap out light with new one.  But…this Lowe’s doesn’t carry the fan I bought at another Lowe’s.

*sigh*

Sunday.  Back to the original Lowe’s (trip 3), swap out light fixture.  Plug it in. Nothing.  Beau determines that yes, the pop I heard when I turn on the switch probably screwed something up.  Put in original switch –

Everything works.

Okay, now I need to return the light switch…that, yes, I probably killed.

Monday.  Lowe’s (trip 4) to exchange switch.  Home, replace, turn on –

It works!

But wait – no, there’s a weird sound.  The new LED light probably doesn’t work with a dimmer switch.  I need to get a non-dimmer switch.  Fine.  Beau needs to go into work, but I’ve now seen him swap the switch 2-3 times, so I’m confident I can do it myself.  I send him on his way with a huge thank you for his help with this project.

Home Depot (trip 5) this time, for a change of scenery.  New switch.

Home.  Take new switch out of box. 

It looks nothing like the old new switch.  The old new one had wires attached to it, which then were attached to the wires out of the wall.  The new one doesn’t have wires on it at all. 

*sigh*

Home Depot (trip 6).  Return switch.  Look for new one – a non-dimmer single-gang (I think that’s the term) dual control switch with wires on the back.  They don’t seem to carry what I’m looking for.

Lowe’s (trip 7).  Looking for what I need (see trip 6).  Can’t find it.  Check with sales associate. 

Yeah, they don’t have what I want.  Seems the wires are only attached to the dimmer switches. 

Well, I would have been comfortable changing out what I already knew, but I wasn’t comfortable with this new twist.  So I guess I get to make The Beau help me again next weekend.  I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.

And this is whyI’d like to spend my weekends writing, rather than doing Home Improvement projects.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in Random

 

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“Wierd” words that trip me up “alot”

I think I’m a pretty good speller, and although my grammar isn’t always perfect, I do a pretty good job with it.  I know how to use to, two, and too, as well as you’re and your and their, there, and they’re (note the Oxford comma, TYVM).  But there are certain words and phrases that trip me up every time.  You would think that after spelling a word wrong 200 times, I would know how to spell it, but no.

“I before E, except after C, unless sounding like A, as in ‘neighbor’ and ‘weigh.’”  But, ‘weird’ is not pronounced ‘wayrd,’ so why the hell isn’t it ‘wierd’?

I refuse to ever write “Xmas” on anything.  If ‘Xing’ is “crossing,” wouldn’t ‘Xmas’ be “Crossmas?”

Chicken Xing

Image by 4nitsirk via Flickr

There are specific lessons that stick with you from school.  For me, one of those lessons came from Mrs. Nelson in 8th grade English:  It is not ‘alot,’ it’s ‘a lot.’  To this day, seeing one word instead of two drives me batty.

Separate.  Sep-ah-rut.  I have to distinctly say each syllable in my head, lest I use a second E instead of an A (seperate).

Commitment – one of one letter, two of another, but which is it?  Whichever way I don’t spell it.  And ‘disappointment’ – 2 S’s?  2 P’s?  Thank goodness for autocorrect.

I end sentences in prepositions often enough that I think that grammar rule is null and void.  And “Where y’at?” doesn’t actually mean “Where are you,” at least according to Remy McSwain, so it’s totally acceptable.

(And apparently, I can’t spell ‘sentence.’ I always want to throw in an A instead of the second E.  What kind of writer can’t spell that word?!)

What words do you have a hard time spelling correctly?  What grammar issues do you have, which ones drive you nuts when you see other people use them?

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Random, Thoughts

 

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Unfinished Novels, Typewriter Art, Photographs in Photographs, and The Million Dollar Question – Weekend Roundup

I read a lot of blogs in Google Reader, and I’m horribly far behind right now on posting some things I’ve been wanting to post about.  Let’s see how many I can sneak in today, shall we?

Ah, that unfinished novel.  The one you’ve completely given up on, you’ve lost half of it to a bad hard drive and aren’t possible able to recreate it.  The one you wrote ten years ago and never got back to.  The one you’ve given up on finding a way out of.  Post it at myunfinishednovels.com.

Keira Rathbone makes art with a typewriter – visual art.  “One of Keira’s mediums is the use of vintage typewriters to create her art. Typing out letters, numbers and symbols in place of brush strokes and pixels results in beautiful enigmatic images.”  Very cool:

Keira Rathbone - Typewriter Art

Loving this site:  Dear Photograph.  Old pictures in new pictures are nifty:

dearphotograph.com

Rachelle Gardner posed an intriguing question over on her blog:  Would you rather receive a million dollars for a book that no one will ever read, or have one million people read your book but never make a dime?  I have to say, reading through only some of the comments, I’m in the minority.  Yes, I write not because of the money, but because I have to – if I didn’t write, I would go crazy.  But for exactly that reason, I would be perfectly okay with no one ever reading a specific book I write – because there will be another.  And I’ll have a million dollars.  I don’t know, that’s how I feel – what about you?

How do you keep track of  the books you’ve read (or want to read)?  I started using WeRead through Facebook, but I’ve also heard of GoodReads.  Is one better than the other?  Is it worth trying to bring everything over from one site to the other?  Thoughts, anyone?

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2011 in Random, Weekend Roundup

 

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