December 27, 2008


Two weeks ago a friend gave me an early Christmas present, a friendly honest contractor with a work ethic and time on his hands. I know. Sounds too good to be true, huh?

Well, so far, so good. He’s painting the entire interior of the house, ripping up my nasty beige acrylic wall-to-wall carpet, and installing a floor. He’s also done other helpful things like move the basement door to the other side so it opens *away* from the door-congested hallway, fixed the ventilation fan in the Cat Bathroom, and fixed my storm door so it actually latches – and when it doesn’t, the TWO plungers are strong enough to keep it from flapping open and banging into the porch light on the wall behind it. He’s also found bifold closet doors that actually match my existing doors.

Anyway, the latest Exciting Thing is that we ordered the flooring yesterday morning. I love the look of hardwood, but I don’t love the price. We tried some laminate flooring, but found out that it would require a seam every 20 ft in one direction and 40 ft in the other direction.

SO, I did what I do best, and investigated our alternatives. Bamboo. Yep, you know all those new-fangled cutting boards that are out now? Made out of laminated bamboo strips? Well they make floors out of that. The jury is out about how strong those “solid” planks are, however. Some accounts online claim that they are actually quite brittle.

I also found out about “strand woven” bamboo planks. This is a process where they compress the bamboo stalks with an adhesive and end up with a plank that’s 94-99% bamboo and the rest is phenolformaldehyde resin. Yes it outgasses a little, but it’s apparently well within the strict European compliance regulations for formaldehyde. Then they typically cover this with some kind of finish. Mine has an aluminum oxide finish.

I ordered samples of these and when they arrived “Bob” and I played with them.  (He prefers to be incognito, so I will call him “Bob.”)  I was able to make a slight dent in the “solid” plank with my thumbnail. The “strand woven” plank is unbelievably dense and seems almost impervious. This is consistent with the relative Janka ratings of the products.

“Bob” was more aggressive and tried banging the corner of each sample into the face of the other sample to see what happens when a lot of pressure is applied to a small point.

The “solid” corner itself smushed in,

and barely dented the “strand woven” plank.

The “strand woven” corner showed a little damage

and multilated the “solid” plank.
solid_face solid_dents

The supplier recommends either a glue-down or a nail-down application.  “Bob” convinced me that it would be even better to drill out and countersink screws so the planks can be attached through the luan and particle board directly to the joists. The supplier couldn’t say whether this was a good idea because they have never tested it, but admitted that as long as the screw hole in the plank is drilled out and not self-tapped, it should be fine. So “Bob” tried drilling the “strand woven” plank. Even with an old, dull bit it drilled out beautifully.

So we’re good to go, have ordered the 6ft planks, and they’re scheduled to arrive on Wednesday. We won’t actually get to start using them until the weekend because they have to sit in the rooms where they’re going to acclimate. He says he can’t wait to work with them. I can’t wait to see how it’ll look.

Update:  I brought the strand woven sample to show my friend Linda who has Newfies because she’s thinking of getting a bamboo floor to replace her nasty carpet.  We gave the sample to Pop to chew on for a while.  We also let him step on it.  This is the extent of the damage:


Basically, he managed to get through the aluminum oxide finish, but not into the plank itself.


December 7, 2008

Gratuitous Cat Videos

Filed under: cats,photography,technology — origamifreak @ 12:18 pm
Tags: , , ,

I was talking to Lisa on the phone this morning and the subject turned to our cats – because one of hers was apparently attacking a carrot. I suggested taking a video and uploading it so I could see. It occurred to us that we hadn’t seen each other’s cats actually *move* in years (in person) and in some cases (Sunny), ever.

Thus ensued more than an hour of fiddling on both sides of the Atlantic while she and Steve tried to get it work on their end and I tried the same thing on mine. The problem was compounded by ancient hardware on my end, running Dapper Drake, and the fact that Firefox tends to suck up all of my memory, so I usually use Kazehakase.

Anyway, at the end I finally managed to get a short video up onto Google Video of each cat:

Here we see Sunny trying to get into the box where he knows there is a chirpy bird and other toys. He’d gotten the hang of fishing toys out from the top, so I flipped it upside down to provide more of a challenge. He knows how to tip it onto the side, but chooses not to, for some reason.

Here we see Grouchy Old Man Cat Miaumoto looking for a quiet, warm place to nap. He is an excellent napping companion.

Here is one of Sunny I took when I thought I wasn’t going to catch him poking the box:

Here are the videos she put up on You Tube:

August 2, 2008


Filed under: cats — origamifreak @ 9:56 am
Tags: , , ,

Ugh. My cats are indoor cats. They don’t go outside except on leashes, and I haven’t had much time to take them out this summer. I did take them to the vet, however. Where I think we got fleas. Either there, or I carried them home on me when I went with my H2O aerobics instructor so she could choose a couple from Dawn’s new batch of kittens.

Regardless of how they got here, they are here. As much as I try to stay away from herbicides, pesticides, etc. etc., when it comes to living with two jumpy, itching felines and millions of jumpy insects whose bites make me itch, I draw the line.

Better living through chemistry, in this case. Bring on the hormonal growth regulators and neutotoxins!

When I finally figured out what was going on (we haven’t had fleas since M & L and I lived in CT, which is about 15 years ago), I ordered some Advantage from Amazon, on 2-day shipping.

I also set the thermostat at 75 F, to slow down the development and dry out the air in the house. (Fleas like heat and humidity, which probably explains why we suddenly have them, given the kind of summer it’s been.)

Then I went to Walmart and picked up a flea collar for M’s immediate relief (he has longish fur and is 16.5, so they were really bothering him, compared with S). I made sure to get the kind that has hormones that prevent insects from maturing, so it would be useful later.

Then I started the Great Purge of 2008, where everything they sit on or sleep on was either washed in Very Hot Water, or vacuumed within an inch of its life, if it didn’t fit in the washer. To aid this process I used a spray that really stinks. I’m not a big fan of permethrin, so if I could have found a spray that just has s-methoprone, I would have gotten it.

When the Advantage finally came on Thursday, I put it on them and put the flea collar in a new vacuum bag so that it will help prevent vacuumed eggs from developing. It was like a miracle. They stopped itching within half an hour, and slept like little furry logs the entire night through. I guess they were exhausted from all the itching.

Now we’re continuing to purge the Flea Hatchery, and they itch now and then, but I’m crossing my fingers that the situation is under control…

July 19, 2008

Kitten Update

Filed under: cats — origamifreak @ 12:26 am

Well, the Orange Thing has been with us now for a year and 19 days.

He seems pretty settled.

Just like Miaumoto, he likes boxes.

His latest trick is bringing toys to bed. I’m supposed to toss them so he can bring them back.

Sometimes I’m asleep, so I don’t toss them. In this case he brings another. And then another.

Some mornings I wake up rolling on all kinds of uncomfortable mouse, birdie, and ball-shaped lumps.

July 5, 2008

I wish this were real.

Filed under: cats,photography — origamifreak @ 10:00 am
Tags: ,

It’s beautiful.

June 15, 2008

Finally, a hairbrush the whole family can agree on

Filed under: cats,technology — origamifreak @ 10:03 pm

Ever since I started doing water aerobics 4x per week, my hair has become progressively more brittle and snaggy, especially in the back where it has more contact with the chlorine.

I have taken just about all the precautions I can; I wet the hair thoroughly before going in the pool. I use a snagless elastic to pile it on top of my head to keep as much of it out of the water as possible. I use Ultra Swim shampoo and conditioner as soon as I get out. And I’ve been using my trusty Body Shop wooden-bristled brush.

That is, until it finally came apart. The rubber that holds the bristles had gradually been coming out around the edges. The last couple of days I’ve been making do with a nasty, ouchy brush with knobby bristles that yank my hair and leave little broken hair pieces all over my sink. I don’t have a particularly sensitive scalp, and even I hate this thing. I’d got it while on a trip because I forgot a brush.

Anyway, while at Walmart this evening returning a thermos that had imploded and getting other things like cat litter, etc. I stopped by the hairbrush aisle and looked around. Yes, you read that right. There are so many different kinds of brushes they take up most of an aisle, all by themselves.

Anyway, I noticed one by Goody that was labeled “ouchless.” The bristles seemed pretty pliant, even if they did have little knobs on the end. So I bought it and took it home.

I have just tried it, and I never want to use another brush again. It does its job without yanking at all. At all. This, my friends, is amazing technology.

And here’s the proof: Miaumoto actually agrees.

For as long as I’ve had him (going on 17 years), Miaumoto has loved being patted, but CANNOT abide any kind of brushing or combing. He’s got what is called a “medium hair” coat (somewhere between short and long.) He also has really sensitive skin.

However, he LOVES this brush. He rubs up against it, arches his back up to it, leans on it, and doesn’t show any signs of wanting to stop. And it catches lots of fine undercoat fur.

Sunny likes being brushed backward with it, too.

I think I might have to get them one, too.

May 15, 2008

Um, has anyone tried this?

Filed under: cats — origamifreak @ 9:21 pm

Wow, just wow.

…and then there’s this one…

Wonder why the human is always wearing a white coat? Cat funny farm?

And what about this one?

Thanks (?) to Noel for alerting us to this bizarre phenomenon…

April 16, 2008


Filed under: cats,photography — origamifreak @ 7:09 pm

I have so much fun with my SD750,

I’m thinking about other things I could do.

Look at these examples

The problem with the current toy camera is that it only does 1 or 2 second intervals. (Besides the fact that it also can’t do shutter dragging, and I can’t change lenses, or put a neutral-density filter on easily.)

So maybe it would be fun to get an intervalometor and convert it to work with my digital Rebel.

There’s a very nice tutorial on lapses, here.

I don’t think I’d bother with the Quicktime, though – Photolapse is free and it sounds like it works just fine.

And I’ll leave you with this, which is one of my favorites.

April 15, 2008


Filed under: cats,quizzes — origamifreak @ 8:51 pm

Chris sent me this quiz today. I got 17 out of the 25 right.

Also, today Sunny turned 1. It’s kind-of strange to think that my spider-chomping little pest is exactly the same number of years younger than Miaumoto as I am to my closest sister Rose. We were both born when the older one was 15.

Somehow the age gap seems bigger between humans than between cats. Perhaps because the size and mentality are closer for cats? Perhaps because I’m a human, so I know exactly what it feels like, while I’ve never been a cat (not that I recall, anyway), so I don’t identify with their experience as closely?

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