Obligatory kitten photo blog

Kittey Kassells and PlayStations.

This is Phoenix’s last week with us. We take him back home on Friday. I’m kinda bummed.

He’s a cute kid, and while he has his moments at times that leave me a bit grumbly or eye-rolly, I’ve had fun with him. He keeps trying to get me to play Soul Calibur # with him on the PlayStation, which he’s been glued to since we got it two weeks ago. I promised I’d do battle with him again before he goes, which with him means setting aside several hours, because a few little versus rounds simply are not enough. He wants to unlock new stuff – weapons, armor, playable characters – as well as build and modify new custom characters, and of course he has to excitedly explain all the cool stuff he’s learned and show me cool new moves and awesome, skull-crushing new swords which are as long as the characters are tall and about as wide, with wicked looking spiked and eyes and stuff on them. Which is all well and good with me, it just means I’ll be locked into it and unable to escape for awhile, so I need to wrap up school stuff and errands a little earlier this week.
I’ll miss having him around.

Matt and I took him to the Rockstar Mayhem Music Festival on Monday, as a sort of early birthday thing; he’d never been to a rock concert of any kind before that. Despite it being amazingly hot, he had a blast – we all did. We gathered stickers and autographs, and Phoenix was thrilled to have the Metal Mullisha (daredevil motorcyclists screaming up one ramp to spin, flip or give the devil horns in mid air before screaming down another ramp) sign his shirt. We had to get their autographs well after their show, as their normal signing was right as one of our favorite bands was playing, and when they walked over with a sharpie in hand, the wide-eyed, sheepish-grinned look of admiration on Phoenix’s face made the day.

Despite having fun with him, I will enjoy getting my usual peace and quiet back. Being almost 10, he’s chock full of energy all the time and if he’s not glued to the PlayStation, he’s creating things with boxes and such for the kittens. Which is cool and all and who am I to curb creativity, but the little bits and pieces left laying all over the place are a bit overwhelming, and the constant, “hey Cary, come look at this!” interruptions to show me new windows and drawbridges in the “Kittey Kassell” is only charming the first dozen times or so in one evening.’

And, ok, it will be great to once again not have to bother with getting dressed before going to the bathroom at night. It’s too hot for clothes, but he sleeps on the couch so if I need to pee (and I do, like ten times every night) I need to shove on clothes and sweat and grumble before I can do so. Which wakes me up more than I’d like to be. And makes me hot, which makes me grumpy.

Still, I’ll be looking forward to his next visit. He makes me remember my own childhood days (something I love to do), and I can’t help but smile even when he’s showing me the updated new wing of the Kittey Kassell and how it attaches to the main part and how the kittens get into it and how it’s so cool and where he’s going t o make a new window for it and how he’s going to create new string-toys to attach to it, all while I’m trying to read for a school assignment due that evening.

He’s a good kid.


I lurv this photo.

Bleargh. Braaiiiiiins (and shoulders).

It's 3 in the morning and I am wide awake. And grumpy.

I can't sleep because of being so ridiculously wide awake, which I think is making up for the night before. Last night I slept like the dead. Literally.

I slept much more soundly than I usually do, and during the few times that I woke, I was so very sleepy and muzzy and out of it I felt almost drugged, zombie-like. I was slow and extremely clumsy in my movements, to the point that my balance was so badly off I had to be very careful walking to and from the bathroom, and kept running into and banging into things. Blinking was not a quick matter - my eyes kept wanting to stay closed, even as I was up and walking. Despite such good, deep sleep, I slept in until almost noon yesterday, and that's despite having gotten to bed at a very reasonable hour. When I finally got up around noonish (because I really felt absurd sleeping that long, not because I couldn't sleep anymore) I was still fuzzy and zombie-like, scraping my chin across the edge of the bookshelf next to my bed and my back and shoulder against the bathroom door handle when I bent down to gather clothes off the floor to wash them. My balance was still badly off, and I remained in this alarmingly sluggish state until I dragged myself down to the gas station at the bottom of our road and got an energy drink. All was well then, but I'm still sort of weirded out by the whole thing.

This has happened before, several times, all within the last few months, and I hate it every time, feeling clumsy and weak and out of it. This was the worst experience of it, and I really really don't like it. It scares me that I can be that out of it. It truly felt like I was drugged - like when you start to wake up from anesthesia.

Tonight's (and into this morning's) total and complete inabaility to sleep must be making up for it. I'm tired. I want to sleep. I just can't.

On top of being so awake I'm also dealing with another thing that has me weirded out and I think on Monday I'm finally going to call my doctor about it.

All my life, I've been a side-sleeper. Doesn't matter which side (although my right side seems to be even more comfortable), but I can only easily sleep on my side. Sleeping on my back has always been very hard to do (I just can't get comfortable), and remains so to this day. Forget about sleeping on my stomach. Way too uncomfortable.

For the last three or four months, I've been having strange shoulder pains, and it feels like they are slightly dislocated. What really grosses me out is that if I shift a bit while on my side, whatever shoulder I'm sleeping on will actually pull partially out of socket with a pop and a slide. I can alwasy just shift back and pop it back in, but it freaks me out, and over the months it has begun to cause pain in whatever shoulder I slept on during the day. Now it hurts after just a few minutes of lying on my side.

I have tried (and tried, and tried) to train myself to sleep on my back because of this, putting a pillow under my knees for proper back alignment.

I can't sleep on my back. I just end up twitching, shifting my arms and legs this way and that and back again, turning my head from one side to the other and back, trying to fool my body into thinking it's on it's side my turning just my hips to the side a little, and all to no avail. It is not comfortable, and I cannot sleep.

Now I can't sleep on my side either, because it hurts my shoulders too much.

What other sleeping positions are there to try? I guess I could prop myself up in a sitting position on the couch, but I bet that's all kinds of bad for the back, neck, and shoulders, too.

So, I can't sleep because I don't like pain. Even sitting here, a good fifteen minutes after having given up on sleeping, my shoulders hurt, and make sickening popping and grinding sounds when I move them, as if they are still just ever so slightly out of socket.

I'm beyond frustrated. It seems the only good (and pain free) sleep I can get now is the totally random zombie-sleep that freaks me out and leaves me in a bad mood because it's so damned freaky and I don't know what causes it. The rest of the time, I'm tossing and turning, trying to force myself to sleep on my back and giving up and just trying to ignore the shoulder pain so I can just sleep.

I have pored over everything I can find on the internet about sleeping positions and shoulder pain and all I can find is dozens of conflicting bits of advice about how to sleep to prevent back pain (and my back is perfectly fine), or the obvious advice to not sleep on an injured shoulder. But unless simply sleeping on them for 27 years can injure your shoulders, mine aren't injured. No matter my search terms, no matter what medical websites I try, there is absolutely nothing connecting sleeping position with shoulder pain and slight dislocation.

So I get to go back to the doctor I don't trust or respect (or like, the ignorant bitch) because I have so far been unable to find another doctor taking new patients, and see what she has to say about both the zombie-sleep and the shoulder pain. And I hope to god she actually listens to what I'm saying instead of hurrying me along, asking about my GERD (which I've never had, bitch, it's Gastritis) and what birth control I'm on now (the same one I've been on for several years now, look at the chart you're holding in your hands, dumbass) and generally just not doing anything at all to give me any faith in her as a doctor. If I'm lucky at least one of the two issues might be resolved, at least partially.

I think if I can figure out what's going on with my shoulders and fix that, the better sleep may well prevent the random zombie-sleep and the frazzled, muzzy, drugged feeling I get afterwards.

Cross your fingers for me, k?

And give me your braaaaaiiiiins ...

Burning the evening oil.

I just discovered yesterday that I could potentially be earning up to 15 hours of overtime per month - 20 hours even, if I'm really busting butt. This has me grinning.

I've always been very careful to either not accrue any overtime or to get as little of it as possible - no more than two hours per paycheck if I can help it. This is because over the years I've seen other people get warnings about their overtime and on the rare occasion recieved a warning or two about it myself. Our company doesn't like parting with money unless it absolutely positively has to. However, about six months ago I had a streak of staying late that lasted about three or four months, wherein I accrued two-and-a-half to three hours of overtime check after check after check, and no one said anything. Mildly encouraged but still fearful of some stern warning which could come at any time, I decided not to press my luck and stopped staying late unless I really had to to catch up on something I couldn't get to during my normal hours (previously I had been staying late to catch up on long-term projects which had no real deadline and weren't terribly important, just terribly helpful). For months now I've been either right at 80 hours or a few hours short. In fact I've been short anywhere from three to eight hours on many of my checks since then, what with school and doctor/surgery/physical therapy appointments and such.

With Matt not working and receiving a disability check for roughly half of what he made while he was working, finances have been just a bit worrisome. We always come out on top easily enough, but my savings has been steadily dwindling because once we've taken from that to pay a bill on time instead of paying late and paying more with late fees, when one or the other of us gets our pay check mere days later we don't pay back that savings withdrawal. We do things instead like going out to dinner, which adds up pretty quickly. In short, if we pull our heads out and stop doing luxury things like that, we will be just fine. Hell, we might even be able to slowly build that savings back up to more than it was before Matt's injury.

We've actually been talking about this lately - ways to save money, and even turn things back around to where we're putting some into savings rather than taking it out or just letting our savings sit and build on the interest alone. Having recently googled "money saving tips" I came a cross a good many sites - blogs, some of them - chock full of little everyday, easy things to do to save money. Some of them we're already doing, some of them we're working on, and some we will be implementing as soon as possible.

I just hung a clothesline in our yard for drying most of our clothes, since the washer and dryer we got from friends with this last move has increased our energy bill by a quick and painfull $50 a month, and according to our energy provider's website, it's the dryer that usually accounts for most (more than half) of such increases. So the dryer will be used only for unmentionables, and when it's time to wash and dry sheets and blankets, we're packing those into the jeep and taking them to the laundromat down the street, which has the biggest washers and dryers I've ever seen ever, all operated for about the same as, if not less than, the regular small, crappy ones at the apartment we lived in before. For probably around $5, we could wash and dry two comforters, our sheets, and our pillow cases - possibly even all in one ginormous load. That beats the at-least-four loads of washing and at-least-six loads of drying (because our dryer just isn't up to drying comforters fully the first time) we'd have to do at home to get them done.

Many of the money-saving tips are simple discipline things, like remembering to turn off lights and appliances (and not even using lights until and unless you really actually need them). Unplug the nightlights as soon as you get up in the morning. Don't leave the T.V. on when you leave the couch for a sit in the throneroom for a bit. Turn off things like DVD players, printers, etc., completely when you're done using them. You know - simple things that usually go untended.

Other tips are of a different kind of discipline. Leave your credit cards at home when you go out, so that you can only rely on the cash you have on you rather than being able to make spur-of-the-moment big purchases you don't really need, but that you suddenly decide you want. Make shopping lists and stick to them, buying nothing that isn't on the list no matter how tempting, because you probably don't actually need it (like we didn't need the pie and ice cream we got the other day ... but my gods is it tasty!) If you're out and something catches our eye, go with the "ten minute rule:" wait ten minutes before putting it in your cart. In that time you'll be able to think about why you really want it, or if you even do want it at all. You'll probably not get it in the end, most of the time. I can attest to this, sorta - I can't tell you how many times I've found something just absolutely wonderful and then about ten or fifteen minutes later, while still looking around, changed my mind and put it back. If I had bought it right away instead of continuing shopping, I'd be stuck with it, unsatisfied and with less money.

Another good tip is to not save your credit card information on your internet accounts (except for bills), for the same reason. As you're digging out your wallet and card and typing in the info all over again each time, you're giving yourself the chance to rethink the purchase. Sure, a pair of uber-comfy, gel-insole slippers with headlights on them so you can see where your'e walking at night and prevent stubbed toes and bruised shins is a fantastic and wonderful invention - but do you really need them? No. Do you really wanna spend $45 for that novelty luxury? I wouldn't, if I really thought about it.

So now, along with all these great tips - most of which we should be able to implement fairly easily - I've been given the official go-ahead by my boss to rack up some overtime to help out our finances. The only catch of course is that I have to be doing actual real, needed work, not the long-term, deadline-free, not so important projects (although some work on those is ok).

No problem. With so few people in so many departments now, I can always find something to do that will greatly help out with the daily goings-on. And the real kicker is I don't even need to stay too terribly late to do it. I've gotten used to eating my lunch at my desk, which means I stay clocked in during my lunch because I'm actually still working, so there's an extra hour a day right there. If I then stay only one hour later than usual, I can get an extra two hours a day, four days a week (Sundays are my odd days, where due to the workload I actually lose an hour, but I can stay an hour later that day too and just get a full eight hours.) So just with those simple changes right there I'll be getting eight hours of overtime per paycheck - 16 hours per month - if I so choose.

And it's all good. No warnings. No raised eyebrows. Only a pat on the back for being such a good little worker and some much needed extra money.

Yeah, I'm grinning.

Well, it's about time!

I think I've reached the point with my education that I'm ready to get the ball rolling on starting up my own business.

Blam. Just like that.

What I want to do is sell my artwork in various forms. Flat art will be prints (framed or unframed) of my art, or the originals for a higher price. I also want to put it on shirts, jackets, mugs, calendars, note cards, and the like. Now here's the tricky part, the part I might not actually jump into until I've actually had some success - custom artwork and design. Tell me what to draw, I'll draw it. Tell me what tattoo you want, I'll design it. Tell me what logo, advertisement, or event poster you want, and I'll design it. It's the custom part which will probably make me more money in the end, but will be harder to figure out, unless I get lucky with the Amazon Webstore option, which is how I've decided to run my business online.

Now, before you go all hogwild applauding me for finally (finally!) doing what you, me, and everyone else has always known I could do, just hold up a minute.

I'm not actually starting the business anytime soon. I've set a goal for officially "opening the doors" on January 1, 2009. I'm hoping to have all the pre-business stuff wrapped up by then and more importantly, have a good line of artwork to start selling. Right now I'm in the very beginning stages of planning it all out, and I'm still in the listing stuff stage.

I need to determine exactly what I'll sell first and foremost, research basic prices, find bulk sellers of some of the supplies I'll need, find a good printer, and amidst all of that is the fun job of researching all the legal angles - filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement, talking to someone about tax stuff, figuring out contracts (for custom orders) if it seems like I might need them, all that jazz. And I need to actually buy my own Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator programs, which will most likely be my biggest expense by far (although my grandmother did at one point tell me to let her know about "any of that stuff" that I might need for school ... I bet she'd consider it for business, too).

Once I've got all of that figured and filed, I just need to draw like a madwoman, then finally set up a Webstore with Amazon, and spread the word. And hope.

I'm going to try to find information online about starting up a business to make sure I don't forget anything important. I'll also (finally) talk to some of the other students in the enterprenuership club and the arts and entertainment club I'm in with my school, and get feedback and ideas from them as well as the professors who run those clubs. Those alone should prove to be immensely valuable, but if any of you readers out there have any tips, tricks, or can point me in the right direction for finding information on what all I'll need to do to start up my own business, I'd be forever grateful.

Ok, ok, you can applaud now, if you wish. The whole thing won't come together for some time now, but I'm getting started on what I need to, and when all is ready, I should be able to hit the ground running and really do this right.

Explosions-day, Star Wars style.

Phoenix is visiting with us right now. He's been here a week already, and will be here for three more. It's fun, but he's getting a little bored already. We're trying to figure out what to do for the Fourth.

So far it's sounding like it will probably be a Star Wars Monopoly day, with hot dogs (and maybe hamburgers) on the barbecue for dinner, then we'll head off to the fairgrounds for the Fourth of July Family Day and fireworks show. While I've seen the fireworks show a few time there, I've never shown up too early before dark and so have no idea what kind of "family" activities and booths will be set up. It should be a fun day, all in all.

What are you and your family doing on the Fourth? Camping? Fishing? Jet-skiing? Watching movies? Barbecuing? I'm looking for some more ideas to spice it up a bit, but since fireworks and all other manner of explosives and such are illegal here, we can't even play with sparklers, which sort of limits some of the more fun fun. We do have a bunch of small squirt guns we got for training Goblin and Sister (they were quickly set aside for a bigger, more powerful, more effective - and yes, I'll admit it, fun - Super Soaker), so if it's super hot I guess we could at least have a water gun fight. Until one of us grabs the Super Soaker and another grabs the hose, anyway.

Ideas, anyone?