graculus: (oh shit)
Jesus, critters, you've only been in my house a little over 24 hours!

Yes, we've just had the first weasel-related drama for these particular goobers, currently still unnamed. I'd put them in the carrier I've been using for about 10 years while I sorted out their hutch only to come back after a few minutes and discover that one of them had stuck its head right through the solid mesh that made up the carrier's door and was now, naturally, completely stuck. The holes in the door are 2.5cm x 3.5cm, in case you're wondering.

Fortunately, I had a pair of wire-cutters in the house and was able to cut through and then bend the wire in question to get the little fathead out no worse for wear. If not, I'd probably be at the local fire station right about now.

Guess I'm in the market for a new pet carrier...
graculus: (Default)
Well, after thinking about the issues raised in my previous post, I decided to go ahead and get some more ferrets anyway - I've just got back from picking up a pair of silver jills, age approximately 6 months, so hopefully there won't be too much trauma for a while. Famous last words, I know!

Now I just need to think about names. My previous lot were the hobs with no name right till I needed to register them with the vet and these girls will need naming by Christmas, when they're due to be spayed.

Other than that, I'm just trying to get back into some semblance of a routine for work starting again properly next week. I'd been quite lazy before I went away, in terms of going (or not going!) to the gym, and I really felt it when I was fencing this week, since I was puffing a bit when I really shouldn't have been.

I also need to go and enrol for my course on Monday, reconciling myself to the thought that I am halfway through it now and also that a good chunk of this academic year is independent research, so if it's dull the only person I can blame is myself!
graculus: (Default)
Since poor Milo passed away late last year, this is the longest time I've been pet-less since I've owned a place of my own and now I'm starting to think about getting some more ferrets. He was on his own for over two years, getting older and scrawnier, so I didn't get any more as I'd been through the 'won't play well with others' with the terrible Buzz and ended up running two hutches as a result. Older generally also equals crankier, as who wants a young'un bouncing all over you when you're trying to nap?

Anyway, I have all the kit, including a big (expensive at the time) outdoor set-up standing vacant, and there's no issue financially around vet bills and the like. I've got someone local who can look after them if I want to go away and a vet that I trust to do his best and not gouge me for cash. So, you might ask, what's the problem?

It's the thought of going through all that shenanigans with illness and death again. Part and parcel of being a pet owner, I know, but that doesn't make me look forward to it at all. That's the main thing that's been making me hesitate, even when I know my hypothetical weasels would be spoiled rotten - how I feel about this aspect of pet ownership isn't going to change any time soon.

Anyone else felt like this? I know [personal profile] xochiquetzl has been through the mill in terms of emotions round her cats, so how do I get past this? Should I try and get past this? I'll have to if I ever want another pet in my life...
graculus: (Default)
No surprises here, really - Milo, who'd been a lone ferret for 2 years, passed away in his sleep this weekend. I was pretty certain he was 2 when I got him and that was back in 2011.

After our trip to the vets at the end of September, I'd been resigned to the idea he could go pretty much at any time and he'd been getting scrawnier and scrawnier as the weeks went on. However, as long as his quality of life was okay, it wasn't worth stressing him out with unnecessary trips back to the vet which wouldn't be able to help him anyway. He was just very elderly in ferret terms, there was nothing they could do about that!

Which means I'm currently ferretless for the first time in longer than I can remember.
graculus: (Default)
Okay, what's been going on since my last post way back in September? Well, the weasel is still alive, though I swear he gets scrawnier every time I look at him - still, as long as his quality of life is okay, I'm not going to complain.

In work news, we got a bizarre email last week going 'oh, btw, you should have got a pay rise 18 months ago but we forgot, so you're getting it and your resultant back pay in the next pay packet' which led to a few raised eyebrows. I'm still teaching 3 courses, though the second of my 6-month courses (which is due to start in February) may well end up being whatever level is needed for demand. I'm also hoping to negotiate a slight time change so that I get more than a 30 minute turnaround to get one lot of learners out, shove some lunch down my neck and be ready for the next lot to come in the door. Fortunately that only happens one day a week but it's a real pain.

I also got my first plagiarism of the academic year this past week. I'd asked for my folks to write something about an interesting place they'd been, only for one of them to give me something that was very obviously culled from Wikipedia. So I made a few choice comments to the group as a whole and also gave her some written feedback and hopefully that won't recur. Full marks for trying, though!

I've also just started at a new gym, which is based in my local high school. It's not open all day but the location and not having to pay parking charges makes up for that. I've had a year's free membership with the council gym but wasn't going to any classes other than Pilates once a week, which I want to continue, so I've saved money from not paying parking and just the sheer aggravation of driving into town. I'm a little annoyed that the people who're supposed to be supporting me from the council scheme apparently forgot I exist a few months back and I'd had nothing to say what should happen next, so I think a terse email will be heading their way next week. I didn't really need it, but I hope other people who need more support than me get a better service!

In college news, it's all a bit tedious at the moment, interspersed with the people who know the least about teaching apparently being the ones with the most opinions on the subject. Naturally, when faced with the prospect of a 2,500 word assignment, my response as a fic writer was only 2,500? - I've started work on it and it's already past that but I figured cutting it back would be easier.

Finally, I'm still making progress with the fencing lessons. Passed Grade 1 Foil a few weeks back and I understand the coach is keen to get those of us who're currently having lessons through Grade 2 before Christmas so he can then take on a new lot of learners in January and use us as examples as and when required. Or something like that. I have a continuous set of bruises on my leading thigh but am about to order proper fencing breeches (thanks, unexpected back pay!) which I hope may reduce that a little. My only regret is that, because of their location, I can't show off my bruises to the folks at work! :P
graculus: (Default)
I'm now a couple of weeks into the routine of the academic year, so I'm getting used to regular times and days once again. Two of my classes are nearly full, which is excellent, while the other is struggling a bit so it's not currently clear if that will continue or not - half-term is the date for a decision on that, so we'll see what happens. In other, work-related news, I've been freed from the tyranny of the time-sheet at last and so don't have to account for myself all the time, just in time to deal with the college course!

That's going to properly start this coming week, after a couple of introductory weeks where we haven't achieved a great deal and I've eyed up the folks I think are going to struggle. Shortly we have to do a 20-minute teaching session that's observed and for peer feedback and that could see the wheels come off the wagon for a couple of people. Personally, I just want to get on with it since I have 4 teaching observations and various assignments to do and can't be bothered with endless ice breakers and the like.

Meanwhile, in the land of pet-owning, we've had a bit of drama. I'm now down to the last, elderly remnant of my ferrets - I did the maths and think he's 7 now, which is positively geriatric for weasel-kind. Recently, he's developed a lump on his neck which he's now had a good scratch at, so I took him off to the vets earlier this week to get an opinion on said lump and options for removal. The view overall was that the lump was eminently removable but that he probably wouldn't survive the surgery - I'd been asked to starve him in case the vet decided to go ahead with the operation and he was very poorly looking when he was there. We discovered that he also has quite a large cyst in his innards, which the vet drained at the time but I wasn't even convinced he'd survive the rest of the day. And then he perked up suddenly and started eating, so who knows?

In slightly cheerier news, I'm still learning to fence and have the bruises to prove it! Last practice of the month is always Fight Night, where we get the electric scoring kit out. I got to fight 5 different people last night, including one left-hander (which is always a source of entertainment) and the U15 regional silver medallist (who usually fences épée so it was fairer than it sounds and I took a couple of points off him). In the former match, I managed to slap my opponent's sword down onto my own leg and now have a 6" x 2" bruise as a memento of the occasion.
graculus: (oh please)


Not particularly a surprise when I got a call about an hour ago to say that Monty had passed away at the vet's - they'd been trying to feed him by hand all day and he'd just not responded at all.

To be honest, when I left him there this morning I didn't really expect anything different as a result, but I guess there's always that slim chance things might not be quite as bad as you think they are. Ferrets are buggers for going downhill very quickly, because of how fast their metabolism runs, and I've learned to factor that in a while back. He hadn't been the solid little oik you see in the photo above for quite a while...

He was about 6 years old, which always seems to be when they start to get old rather than middle-aged, though the one he leaves behind is still as mad as a kit a fraction of his age. I got him and his compatriots in November 2011 and he didn't have a name till he had his first trip to the vet last summer. I didn't think 'fat lump', which was what he got called more often than not, was a name they'd think was appropriate so had to think of something for him (afterwards realising that there were shades of Withnail to it all: "Monty, you terrible [expletive]" being one of that movie's classic lines).
graculus: (oh please)
Yep, poorly ferret is poorly again. After an unsuccessful attempt by my vet to diagnose what was wrong with him last month (both blood tests and a skin scrape were taken, but the results of both were inconclusive), Monty has spent most of the weekend either throwing up or just feeling sorry for himself. So we've been to the vets this morning and he's currently staying there to get fluids/food/antibiotics into him as he hasn't eaten at all since Saturday.

Ordinary drama is much less dramatic in comparison as I've now left Dysfunction Central Ltd and am currently in the throes of induction and waiting to see how much work I'm going to get. I've actually picked up two sessional posts for the same folks so in theory I should get enough from these combined to live on, but at present we're just sorting out what I'm going to be doing and it's all a bit hypothetical while this is done.

I'm just glad to be out of the ongoing craziness, as I wait to see if I get paid for my last few weeks and also decompress/start to pull stuff together for my new job. Sadly, the course I was hoping to do (which should have started last week) has been put off till January at best - assuming there's enough interest at that point - though that does at least mean I haven't spent the fees yet. In the meantime, my new employers are saying all the right things about CPD and support of which I got exactly zero with the last lot (though a lot of passive-aggressive emails and hideous amounts of paperwork) so it's all good.

Of course, it's also this time of year that thoughts turn to NaNo, but that might be a commitment too far considering I haven't actually written anything in 6 months and have outstanding WiP to finish. So, in general terms, I suck.
graculus: (oh please)
In work news, I am counting down to leaving my current employers, as it's looking more and more like they're about to go down with all hands. Got some of my pay the day I was supposed to, though it was looking touch and go at one point as to whether anyone would get anything, the rest arriving in my bank account 2 days later. And then the director is sending snippy emails telling people to 'stop the chit chat' about the fact they haven't been paid/have little confidence they will and get on with their work. Looks like only a matter of time before they go under, if that performance is anything to go by...

In ferret news, poor Monty (had I mentioned I had to name at least one of the Lads, as he was off to the vet a while back and I didn't want to try and explain they didn't have names?) has suspected adrenal disorder and will be back at the vets on Wednesday for blood to be taken and a skin sample too. He's got a little monk tonsure now, with the bit of his head between the ears all wrinkled and bald - I'd noticed his head was warm, but hadn't put it down to anything other than the weather and then suddenly, no hair!

After going through the surgical side of things with Lily a few years back, which only really gave her another 6 months, I'm much more inclined to go non-surgical this time around. Research has moved on since then, with a hormonal implant usually used for chemical neutering being used to treat the symptoms of adrenal as well. It's not a cure, but at 5+ and with an already enlarged spleen, he's not the best candidate for surgery anyway - not sure if my vet would even want to operate, given it's still not particularly common and last time round I had to scour the Midlands for anyone who'd done the operation previously.

All of this will have to wait till after WorldCon, as I'm off down to London next Thursday for that. I've picked out a few panels etc. that I really want to attend but am still trying to not over-commit (which would be incredibly easy to do).

In non-fannish TV, Great British Bake Off is back! Is it wrong of me to want something to go horribly wrong? I was delighted last season (or was it the one before?) when someone used salt instead of sugar in something and next week is free-standing biscuit tableaux. Something is bound to fall over/collapse, though the likelihood of tears has dramatically reduced after the first exit of the series. I'm making a long-range prediction that Nancy is going to win, so we'll see if I'm right...
graculus: (sarcasm)
First off, still no sign of the missing ferret - not good but not particularly surprising. I was asked by the guys who found the second one if they would stick together or come if I called and neither apply. No, ferrets are pretty dumb in many ways so the other one could be anywhere. Anyway the missing posters are still up in the area, I've spoken with every vet in the city and even emailed the folks who remove roadkill so I don't see what more I can do...

In work news, I've now been off for almost 6 weeks after my GP signed me off due to stress a month ago. I'm definitely feeling better but still not 100%, with a planned return to work next Wednesday in a non-management job at another office, which basically means 6 days there (because of Christmas) then I'm off again on annual leave. Never having to deal with my current manager ever again (fingers crossed) is looking extremely like a very near prospect.

One of the things the whole work scenario did was squash any creative urges and pretty much grind them underfoot. Which is why the last thing I posted fanfic-wise was April, which should probably have been a sign if I'd been anywhere near seeing it. Anyway, I'm tentatively thinking about stuff again and have signed up for [livejournal.com profile] picfor1000 (now in it's 11th year, can you believe it?) and am actually sort of looking at other challenges/fests in the thought that having a deadline might help me push myself into actually creating something again. Anyone else experienced this, if so then any pointers/suggestions would be much appreciated!

No signs of a new fandom (thank the elder gods) despite/because of my time on Tumblr which I am still enjoying immensely in all its superficial idish glory. :)

Finally, I realised today that I've only been to the cinema once this year (Avengers, natch!). 2013 looks like being different, though, given that May sees the release of Star Trek and Iron Man 3 and July gives us Pacific Rim. Which looks awesome in the way only giant robots, Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi could be. Here's the trailer if you're still not convinced: )
graculus: (weasel)
Just got a call from folks about 12 houses up the road from me, so now I have one back and one still missing - the missing one is the more timid of the two but hopefully easier to spot, being one of the albinos.

Thanks for the good wishes so far, please keep them coming!
graculus: (weasel)
Woken up this morning by the lady who lives next door but one, with one of my ferrets. Damn it all. The little buggers escaped last night and have been on the lam since then - two are still missing at the time of writing.

My immediate neighbour was all 'oh, I thought I heard something in your garden last night!' which was about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. *headdesk*

Positive vibes needed, have phoned local vet and RSPCA and leafleted the immediate area but no joy so far. Still, at least there are no little ferret-shaped pancakes on the local roads, which is a good thing. The little shits are probably holed up somewhere waiting for it to get dark, though they'll be hungry by now...
graculus: (weasel)


Yes, alas it is the sad truth - Buzz the psychotic loner is no more. Looking back at LJ, I can't believe it's been almost 3 years since he lost his BFF Woody.

Buzz was due to go the vets this morning for what I hoped would be a routine appointment about suspected insulinoma (a cancer of the pancreas which is pretty much the equivalent of ferret diabetes - not curable but manageable in the main with medication) after getting very wobbly yesterday but he had a massive seizure at some point overnight and so it was the kindest thing to have him put to sleep.

So, that just leaves me with the (still unnamed) Lads...
graculus: (Snape)
Greetings fellow humans, I have returned from sunnier climes (although I think my brain is still mid-Atlantic) and am currently recovering from jet lag, looking forward to returning to work tomorrow, and overall catching up. Left San Jose (the Costa Rica one) on Saturday afternoon and it was approx. 28ºC and in Madrid 10 hours later it was 0º. Warmer in the UK, fcol.

In a couple of hours, I'm off to pick up Buzz and The Lads from their own holiday in much less sunny climes. Forgot to post that when I dropped them off, I was informed of the names The Lads had previously as this was one of the rescues where they'd been - apparently the polecat is Dragon and the albinos are Ice and Cream. Yep, I kid you not. So, The Lads they remain for now. ;)

As for Costa Rica? OMG. It's like holidaying in a zoo, particularly a zoo with a massive bird section, many of which are absurdly brightly coloured and some of which have ridiculous names to go with it (like Montezuma's Oropendula, for example). It's a real paradise for birdwatchers - I got interested all over again (it was a major thing for me in my teenage years) and saw well over 100 species without very much effort.

And there are sloths All Over The Place (both two-toed and three-toed, depending on altitude)! In a very wind-swept tree in the pizza restaurant parking lot, hanging out casually in a tree just by the supermarket where we stopped, oft-spotted furry lumps in the treetops. Chances are if a bunch of folks are standing around, looking up, a sloth may be involved. Our guide was telling me about one particular part of the country, where sadly we didn't go this time around, where they often find sloths attempting to cross the road in search of new trees and how people stop traffic to pick them up, even if the sloths don't always appreciate it and will try and bite/scratch (very slowly, I presume?).

Also seen (and I shall probably forget some, there were so many): coatimundi, agouti, lesser anteater, red-kneed tarantula, (mostly poisonous) snakes, loads of lizards (including the jesus lizard), many massive iguanas, armadillo, all 4 kinds of monkey, toucans, macaws (both green and red), turtles, a couple of caiman and many crocodiles, river otter, raccoon, osprey, quetzal, lots and lots of vultures, and many and various kinds of birds.

Anyway, I dare say there will be pictures in due course, though maybe/probably more of animal and birdlife than places. In short, if you can avoid the horribly touristy parts (Jaco, I am looking at you! *shudders*), or at least get out into the national parks, it's an awesome place and well worth a visit. I shall certainly be back, however not via Europe and the 10 hour flight from Madrid (yeuch), which my system very much did not appreciate - I'd forgotten how much I hate flights/hanging around in airports and the usual trans-Atlantic 7 or so hours is clearly about my limit!

Oddly enough, the temperature there fluctuated wildly between the mid-80's (dry or humid, depending on whether we were at the beach or in the rain forest) and the mid-50's (at one point also very windy). It seemed very strange to be wearing a hoodie, however this was clearly a sign of things to come on returning home... ;)
graculus: (weasel)
Ferrets are not the easiest creatures in the world to photograph. They have a tendency to run towards you when you get the camera out, for starters...

Anyway, at last here are The Lads. No, they still don't have individual names.

Read more... )
graculus: (Snape)
I'm sure I'm not the only one who looks at lj and thinks how little what they do would interest anyone else, all things considered. However, at the cost of people on my flist thinking I'm either buried under a pile of books and can't get up or have been eaten by ferrets, I thought I'd try and rectify that. Maybe I just need a meme of sufficient interest, as the fanfic one worked? Suggestions happily considered...

Work has been Insane with a capital I this week. Not helped by the people who thought it would be a good idea to turn the office into an adjunct of Santa's grotto, complete with mechanical things that play Christmas music. If I'd been within earshot of any of those on Tuesday, we'd be discussing how long the surgery is to remove such an item from someone's anatomy. Had I been asked 'what's wrong, [Graculus]?', the answer would have been 'EVERYTHING!!!111!!!!' with fists of doom. Fortunately people were not as stupendously idiotic the rest of the week and so I still have a job rather than pending assault or murder charges.

In ferret news, we still have no progress on the names front. Three weeks on and although there were some fantastic suggestions from you guys, nothing seems to particularly fit so I'm currently resigned to calling them The Lads and leaving it at that. Whenever they've been in the house and I put them out to let Buzz in, he is utterly incensed at the idea of weasels in his house and runs around rubbing his scent on everything.

In holiday news, I am off to Costa Rica in February, after my hopes of abandoning these inclement shores over Christmas got knocked on the head a while back. Don't worry, there will be photos! :)

As for other stuff, I am alternately so glad I didn't sign up for NaNoWriMo and also desperately in need of a big stick to actually make me sit down and write something. Anything. Just the idea of it makes me go running to the nearest pile of books or fic. Pffft.
graculus: (weasel)
So, it appears I am getting more ferrets. Fear not, Buzz is fine, but I started feeling guilty about having the big hutch sitting empty just because of his loner tendencies (Buzz has been in the smaller one for a while, now he's a psychotic loner) and then found out that a rescue I got earlier fuzzies from (Lily and Dougal) has a group of 3 lads who have to stay together. Chances are nobody else is going to have enough room to take them as a group so my guilty conscience made me go and see them last night and the plan is that I'll be picking them up later in the month, as I discovered yesterday that the big hutch needs a new roof before anyone can move in.

Anyway, assistance needed as follows - names! We're talking 3 boys, two albino and one polecat (see icon if you're uncertain what that looks like, but he's not as cute as Dougal because that could never happen). Single names for ferrets or suitable names for 3 who come as a set all considered - last time it was Woody and Buzz so I'm open to sets.

N.B. Despite considering calling a pair of girls Narcissa and Bellatrix, I will not be calling one of the white ones Draco. End of discussion. ;)
graculus: (Snape)
Hell, yeah it's October and I just woke up after getting back from [livejournal.com profile] connotations yesterday, not that I went to bed immediately on getting home from dropping off [livejournal.com profile] katemonkey and [livejournal.com profile] gumbie_cat (who I know were planning a MLP marathon on the Wii because they started talking about it as we turned into [livejournal.com profile] katemonkey's street, so mock them as they so richly deserve!) but you know what I mean...

Booked the week off because a) I knew it would be A Very Good Idea after the con (awesome as always, guys!) but also b) because I have Stuff To Do which I never seem to get done at the weekends. Like I broke my bed a few weeks back, though sadly not in a fun sexytiems way, and it needs replacing and I can't even begin to consider going to Ikea except during the week. Also nobody told me that being a grown-up would involve taking stuff to the tip recycling centre and having to be Responsible and stuff like that. Or if they did, I ignored it in favour of 'but you can spend all day in your jammies and nobody will give you shit about it!'.

Back to the con, I somehow ended up modding/co-modding two panels, which went way better than my half-arsed preparation could have possibly allowed me to hope - for those who weren't there, they were on 'Kink meme culture - creative wellspring or inspirational cul-de-sac' (or it may have been the other way around...) and 'What, if anything, has fandom learned from various fails or does it just make us more prone to navel-gazing?' At some point this week there will be summaries of the main points and links to stuff on [livejournal.com profile] connotations, though I have to say after someone at the Crack Fic panel talked about the Merlin/Arthur AU where Arthur is a BNF in Camelot fandom and there was also discussion about the various Charles/Erik fic where one or other of them is a kitten, how is it that all of those ended up being recced on [livejournal.com profile] epic_recs the past few days? Fandom Hive Mind, we haz it. And there was also (finally, after many years of threatening to do so) pimping of Wild Wild West and it was good. :)

In short, it was once again good to be Among My People and I am already looking forward to next year, though my brain still refuses to accept that this will be Connotations X - yes, the con is 10 next year! *wibbles*

In other news, work continues to be just like working for local government, but with more chocolate and biscuits. Buzz the psycho loner ferret has now decided his latest trick will be to go blind in both eyes, which means he has a tendency to run into things since his only paces are either complete stop or full-out run. And there must and will be fic. Along with consideration of whether I want to attempt Nano this year, which will depend on whether I can storyboard the idea (in the movie version of which, in my mind at least, the male protagonists are currently played by Takeshi Kaneshiro and Paul Bettany, no I have no idea how that happened either...) I have and convince myself I can get a novel out of it, which I probably can if I put my mind to it.

Thoughts? Comments? Brickbats? I could probably do with more of all of those, except maybe the latter. ;)
graculus: (weasel)
Looking back through my lj, I find that Buzz the psycho loner is 5 years old this year and I realised I haven't posted any pics of him recently, so here's a couple to make up for that...

More flexible than anyone has a right to be... )
graculus: (weasel)
I swear, ferrets may not spend much time awake, so I can only assume that they spend their time asleep dreaming of how to drive their owners insane. Particularly in terms of doing things they have never done before and therefore cannot be anticipated or prevented.

Today, for example, Buzz climbs into the (switched off) washing machine because the door is open and there are a couple of things in it. I've had ferrets climbing in and out of that washing machine, or sometimes even curling up to go to sleep in it, for as long as I've had ferrets. What I haven't had (until today) is a ferret deciding to chew a bloody great hole in the rubber doorseal.

Grrr. This would be why I am currently googling 'hotpoint doorseal' rather than putting my feet up and watching telly like a sensible person.

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