Friday, December 06, 2013

First anniversary of Team Cat

Today is a very special day, and it was commemorated this morning by having a group cuddle ... Well, okay, Elbie was on the windowsill behind us while the other two were getting cuddles.


A year ago today, we suddenly found ourselves adoptive parents of a couple of wonderful (if prone to growling at each other late at night when we're trying to sleep) teenage boys, extending our little family from three to five.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Annual vet visit #1

I recently took the boys to the vet for the first time, as their vaccinations were due. Both were given a clean bill of health. Despite Monkey being some 1.3 kg (!) heavier than Elbie, he still seems perfectly healthy and I wasn't given any special instructions. "There's always the one who's really keen on food," the vet said.

Elbie went first, and he kept moving around a lot, because he really didn't want to be there. (What cat does?) Vet said he looked very nice and lean ("Just wait till you see the other one!"), but then he loves to be outside and will insist on the back door being opened in the morning, and aside from coming in for a few, short breaks for food and water, he stays outside most of the day. Unsurprisingly, Elbie didn't need persuading to get back into the travel crate.

Monkey more or less had to be dragged/tipped out of his travel crate, because he really wasn't keen to meet the vet at all. He had a slightly slower heartrate, but he had had some time to adjust to the surroundings while waiting for Elbie to be checked over. While being a little squirmy on occasion, Monkey spent most of the visit huddled up to me, presumably because he felt safe that way. He also didn't need persuading to go back in the travel crate. Funny that.

Neither of them displayed any signs of fleas - finally! - so the Stronghold seems to be doing its job, hooray! :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shit preachers say and apparently get away with

There are not many occasions where you'd find me in a church. It boils down to either sightseeing as a tourist or attending because of family/friend commitments, such as christenings, weddings or funerals. Going into churches and having a look around as a tourist is definitely my favourite. Churches tend to have quite fascinating architecture, especially if they've been around for a few hundred years.

This baroque church in Munich was pretty epic.

Anything else is more like a necessary evil, if you pardon the pun.

Sure, I could decline attending these things, or I could sit outside the building and wait for it to finish but you can't exactly decline going to someone's wedding or funeral because you disagree with their religion. Well, technically it's more polite to decline the invitation than sit outside and refuse to go in, which I once saw someone doing at a christening. If you do that, you're a bit of a dick, to be honest. If you've been invited, you either don't show up at all, or you arrive at the reception afterwards - you don't show up outside the church and then make a scene about how you're refusing to attend the ceremony.

Or, of course, you attend and shut up about how much you'd rather skip the church bit altogether, because you don't want to spoil the day for the people who invited you. Even though you'll be bored out of your skull after five minutes. (And go "... dafuq?!" when you hear something to the effect of "do you renounce Satan in the name of this child?")

Short ceremonies aren't so bad, because they're fairly quick, obviously. I've been to short church weddings, and I've been to ones that seem to last forever. Same with funerals. You get in, there's perhaps a bit of singing and then it's over, great. Unless the people are (or were) properly religious, in which case you might be looking at a good couple of hours, with actual preaching instead of the generic pleasantries. Ugh.

At least I don't have to join in the singing, because I genuinely don't know the tunes to any British hymns (and very few Swedish, most of which are Christmas carols - and okay, some of them exist in both countries, so I guess I know a few British ones), even if I'm starting to pick up How Great Thou Art by now. It seems to be a popular choice.

Anyway. It wouldn't have been as bad if the person doing the preaching didn't have a tendency to say things that, when you actually pay attention to what they're saying, make you want to shout out "Objection!" in true court drama fashion. I haven't been to a single church ceremony in recent years where there hasn't been at least one thing that has ticked me off.

Like that wedding where the preacher said you could only truly love someone - and be loved in return - if you love God. (So basically, most of us are unloved and our marriages mean nothing. Thanks a lot, asshole.)

Or my own grandmother's funeral, where the priest said you wouldn't be able to grieve if you weren't a Christian, or words to that effect. (Because that whole crying our eyes out business was obviously down to getting dust in our eyes or something. Secretly chopping onions in the pew, perhaps.)

Or another funeral, where the deceased wasn't in a "better place" according to those left behind, but that he was in a better place according to the deceased himself. (Because being dead sure beats being alive with his much loved family?)

Or, at the very same funeral, where the grandchildren were told that their beloved grandfather had always loved Jesus more than he loved them. Sure, he loved his grandchildren a whole lot, but no, Jesus had always occupied the number one spot in his heart. (Because the grandchildren weren't inconsolable enough already?)

Or when the preacher said that Jesus died on the cross, went to hell and was resurrected. Now, I'm not the most avid reader of the Bible, but I don't remember ever hearing anything about how he went to hell for a couple of days before coming back. Was that a deleted scene that you only find out about if you join the Baptists? (I'm pretty sure the story goes that he died on the cross, his dead body was put in a cave and a few days later got better again, much to the surprise of pretty much everyone.)

"You must have mis-heard them. Clearly they wouldn't have said anything like that." No, I assure you, I heard them perfectly well. They really did say those things. Perhaps not verbatim, but close enough. "But then that's obviously not what they meant. You're taking it out of context!" No, not really? I was listening to what was being said, and because I don't happen to subscribe to the same ideas as them, I actually paid attention to what was being said and how. And if they didn't mean it the way it came out, perhaps they should've thought about that when they wrote the sermon?

Yes, you might believe the truest, purest love you can ever get is only given by God Almighty (and/or Jesus), and that's all well and good - for you. Telling grief-stricken, CRYING CHILDREN they lack the ability to grieve their loved ones, or that they were only their loved one's second best after some dude who has been dead the past 2000-odd years, makes you an INCONSIDERATE, HEARTLESS BASTARD, and you have no business conducting a service for a mixed audience.

If you're preaching to the crowd, i.e. a regular church service, that's fair enough. Everyone's there because they have come specifically to hear what you have to say, and they are most likely all believers anyway, so no one will care. If it's a service for a life event, which means you're 99% certain to have a mixed audience, as most people aren't regular church-goers but will attend life events of friends and family, be a little careful with what you say, especially when it comes to funerals.

The comment during a wedding service about how "you can only truly love someone if you love God" is stupid, but fairly harmless. You groan inwardly and think up less flattering ways you'd like to say "wow, you're amazingly ignorant", but that's about it. If it's a funeral, you can actually do more harm than good by saying the wrong thing. My grandmother's funeral was 15 years ago now, and the comment that "anyone who doesn't love Jesus/know God/whatever don't know what grief is" still makes me angry.

I just hope the "second best after Jesus" grandchildren weren't listening, or at least that they were too preoccupied to realise what was being said about them. They needed to be able to say goodbye and grieve in peace, not to hear that their deeply loved and missed grandparent is better off without them, because that's just cruel.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It's surprisingly easy to Paganise Christian hymns

Did you know that if you take Christian hymns out of context, they are decidedly (Neo-)Pagan? There was a hymn I heard yesterday, that was about "the Son". If you changed that one word to "Sun", the whole song, bar a couple of lines, turned into fully-fledged nature-worship. It was kinda cool.

Historically, Christians were very eager to Christianise the Pagans by converting Pagan customs and places of worship into something more, well, Christianised. So why not return the favour, at least with regards to songs?

Here are some examples, starting with How Great Thou Art:

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook, and feel he gentle breeze

See what I mean?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why do reds turn cerise on camera?!


instead of

Okay, perhaps not the best exampes, as you can clearly tell the difference in brightness as I was experimenting with white balance and ISO to try to achieve something that looked something remotely similar to the real thing. But these were easily found - and blatantly obvious - examples of the problem.

I have the camera on Landscape or Portrait or Close-up, i.e. with automatic settings, and take a picture of something red. It turns a bright cerise pink. And the thing that's supposed to be this cerise almost magenta colour (photo by Rico Design):

Ends up looking like ... this:

Which also looks wrong. I've taken photos of red tulips before and they've turned out pink - and that was with an entirely different camera.

Or take this:

This was the first attempt, after which I went "WTF?!" because it all sort of looks like one colour. After experimenting with settings on the camera followed by a bit of Photoshopping, it looks almost like it does in real life:

Yeah, there's both pink and purple in there, not just an orange blob.

The red spectrum and digital cameras are not particularly happy with one another. Especially not in broad daylight. Dafuq's wrong with it? :/

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I smell an automated blog spammer

Had a couple of emails (actually, I probably have more, when I go through my inbox) with regards to guest posters. Compare the two, and see if you can figure out why I'm deleting both emails unanswered ...

Subject: Guest Posting Request
From: "Dorothy Oliver"
Date: Tue, February 12, 2013 10:54
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Hello There,

My name is Dorothy and I'm a professional blogger.

I have over three years of experience writing for the web and have covered plenty of topics about Legal Industry.

I noticed that you have a blog and was wondering if you would be interested in allow me to write relevant, useful topics about Legal on your blog at no cost.

At this point in my writing career, I simply want to get more visibility for your writing and I will write for free as long as you are okay with me adding a small author bio section next to each blog post about myself.

Please let me know if you're interested and if you'd like for me to submit a sample blog post for your approval.

Thanks a bunch,


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Remembering 2012

Shouldn't this post have been made at the very latest some time in early January? Perhaps. But I like to mull things over. How was 2012 for you? For me, it was the year we didn't have an apocalypse. The Mayans were wrong! Or, rather, the Mayan Calendar just started anew, nothing to write home about. The year itself was quite interesting, though. Had BFF come over, saw the Harry Potter film set, went to an IRL gathering, got coupla moar kittehs, worked ... and drove in foreign countries. :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Visiting Dachau Concentration Camp

Seeing as how it's Holocaust Memorial Day, I thought it would be fitting to write about our visit to KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau outside Munich in Germany. As we were driving around Germany, for the most part, and happened to be close to a former concentration camp, it felt as if we owed history to visit and pay our respects.

Dachau was the first concentration camp used by the Nazis. To find out more about the history of the camp, please see the official website. A very brief summary would be that it started out as a camp for political prisoners and was a working camp during the war.

Here's the relevant part of my travel diary entry for 2 October 2012, a.k.a. day 9 of our Eurotrip:

We drove to Dachau and the concentration camp memorial, where we arrived maybe around 11 or 11:30. Walking up to the site, we first came across the visitors centre. There was a cafeteria, toilets and a bookshop. I bought a book about the camp, as a reminder of having been there, and because I wanted to know more about it.

So the visitors centre was the whole thing? Strange. Shouldn't there be some sort of museum to it? I expected there to be more. And there was. Outside, we followed people walking down to the left, and found the camp site, or what's left of it. The gate says "Arbeit macht frei".