Moving Across Country with Pets

In response to this article about moving with pets, here is my comment synopsis on our recent move from Pennsylvania to California with our pets.

We just moved across the country from Pennsylvania to California in a van, with our cat and three bird cages of birds. Five days! I’m telling you….it was something else. The birds were absolutely fine. I left them in the car overnight (it was autumn and not too cold). I didn’t change their papers the entire way because I was afraid of them getting out. So all that was good.

But the cat. He was in a good sized dog cage. He is a territorial indoor-outdoor cat with a routine of guarding the house during the day and his yard at night. He had a thing down and had the best of both worlds. This move was really hard on him. It was a pain to clean his box twice a day when he poo’d because we couldn’t let him out of the cage. And he’s not a good coverer, so it did smell really bad in a van. So we had to stop and clean it every time. And he yowled and yowled he wanted out. But during the day he slept hard. We also left him in the van to sleep at night.

I did use this product called Feliway. It did help calm him. Some. A little. Very little. But every bit of help helps.

When we finally got to the destination, and we settled into the apartment, he was let out to roam. The first thing he did is find a corner and pee 😦 So we put a box there as well as left the one in his cage.

His cage is still up (we’ve been here two months+). He just goes in there to use the box. He still wants out and paws at the window. I will get him (eventually) a cat tree and things to sit on so he can look outside better. He has his place by the window now. Rescue Remedy helped at the apartment to not be so stressed. I think it takes the edge off. I had toys and we played with him but all he wanted was out. He still wants out at night. Sometimes I feel bad for him, but you know, I want a house again too. So….one day hopefully we can get a house and he can establish his cat guard routine there.

I had to do all the paperwork like this article mentioned. States like California and Florida have border guards and they will inspect your vehicle. All the work I did beforehand, though, for the vets, my cat, and my plants…when we got to the border, the guard just said, “Go.” We were surprised. I’m still glad I went through all the plant/cat/bird inspection process. I learned a lot.

With all these things in our van, we had little room for anything but bags. Just FYI if you plan to drive pets across country you won’t have space for much more than a few bags. Keep that in mind.

We shipped all our home items via U-Haul storage containers. It was fabulous, and less expensive than PODS. It took them a long time to arrive but well, it took us a long time to arrive across the country too.

To everyone else who makes long trips with their pets, good luck. It can be kind of tough and a little scary and frustrating, but if you care for and love your animals do all you can to make them comfortable and be prepared to have plenty of patience and wherewithal for your trip.


My Twitter Account

Four days since I sent Twitter support messages regarding my suspended account.  Unfortunately, when (if!) I get it back I’ll be using the account differently. Although I didn’t do anything wrong that I know of, who knows what happened! Maybe a service that my account connects to spammed my account with some sales message. Maybe someone was having a bad day and one of my harmless tweets rubbed them the wrong way and they reported me. Maybe people are sick of seeing my posts about genetically modified food. If so, unfollow me then, but don’t report and get me suspended.

I have no idea what went wrong and am sad to lose access to my account where I follow and have over 1K followers. Perhaps I will get my account back, perhaps not. I’ve been reading up and Twitter seems to suspend accounts for no rhyme or reason, or even accidentally. Seriously? Most people complaining about suspended accounts have realized they’ve been following aggressively but that’s not me.

I’m careful about what I let in my Twitter feed, but sometimes some really bad garbage gets in there. That person will usually get an unfollow from me. But there are some people who have extremely different views from me. I’m pretty opened minded and give plenty of leeway when it comes to opinion. Instead of reporting them when they post crazy messages, I just let them have their say. This is free speech. Sometimes I will learn something from their view. And if I don’t want to listen, I can unfollow. Not report, which is what  a lot of people do instead, because they’ll just get flustered and angry when someone may have a different viewpoint than theirs.

I wonder why celebrity accounts never get suspended? I mean they promote themselves and their products and services all the time, but I’ve seen posts from average people who’ve had their accounts  suspended for promoting their books or businesses. It’s not fair.

I allowed one woman on my list because I liked some of her tweets. Then she started peppering them with advertisements…many a day. I didn’t report her but her account I think qualifies for suspension. Why do these people get away with this, but the average person using Twitter to chat and make friends and post/retweet interesting links and news cannot have the freedom to do so without fear of suspension?

Twitter is a lovely service, and I’m missing it desperately. However, if I don’t get my account back soon, I’ll be setting up a new account, keeping the real people on it only to the close friends I’ve made, and then the rest will be news sources. No more making my account for sharing interesting news with people or chatting with just anyone. No more using Twitter fully like it’s meant to be used. It’s very sad but this suspension has dramatically changed my view of a sweet service.

Google Reader – Why the Fuss?

RSSThe major organizational tool to date has been Google Reader, which has the main functionality of organizing your feeds into folders, and servicing up those feeds either on screen through its reader, or through a variety of applications and websites who like their way of formatting the feeds for you. Some websites and applications have built their business solely on reading and synchronizing with Google Reader. I can’t imagine that those websites and tools will remain.

One of my favorite tools was FeedDemon. Unfortunately the developer will stop further development on the tool. It will continue to work, but will no longer sync with Google Reader.

So how do we find new tools that work for us? How do we find those that allows us to store and organize our feeds from our favorite blogs, and present it to us in a pleasant format? Is it possible we can find one that synchronizes feeds we’ve already read between tablet and desktop, so that when we move between the two we’re not wasting time re-reading articles?

Fortunately there are some tools both old and new that will allow us to continue to efficiently move through hundreds of articles quickly. I will explore those in the next post.

Internet and Technology Shift

Times are a’changin’ …and fast!   Since the beginning of the internet and the personal computer  before that, applications were software that was ball-and-chained to the desktop.

Now with the recent advent of mobile apps on phones and tablets, the scene is changing very rapidly. This is a time of fresh movement for technology. Right now it’s all about apps. They need to look good, be simple to use and have great features. They must sync with your browser extension or desktop software, between all devices and across all platforms.  It’s an exciting time with many new apps being released daily.

Unfortunately, the movement means the old sometimes gets let go, even if the old is still being clung to by the masses.  One such old technology is Google Reader. Google announced today that its popular RSS aggregator will get the axe in July.  I am so sorry to see this extremely useful tool go.  The current is washing away not only the smaller pebbles but also some of the larger rocks.  Don’t be surprised to see more programs, applications and services be washed away into the ocean where 300-baud modems float.

Life Mistakes


I posted this on today:

I told my daughter yesterday that I made a LOT of mistakes in my life. “I wonder…,” I said, “what would my life be like if I could go back and fix all those mistakes? To not do them?”

My daughter said, “Your life would probably be the same!” We laughed hard.

I’ll always think of her answer now when I think of my question. And I wonder if what she said is true.

What lights you up?

I just saw a tweet from Huffington Post:

TRAGIC: WWII vet dies waiting for VA benefits

This poor veteran died because of backlog of paperwork. That’s ridiculous, but more than likely the reason is what his daughter-in-law described:

“It’s almost like the government is waiting for him to die so they won’t have to pay the benefits. And that’s what happened,” his daughter-in-law Rebecca Scott told Fox 29. “I’m at a loss for words as to how these men and women have been treated.”

I’m horrified and furious at how we treat one another in this country…mostly how health businesses and government can treat us. Here is my comment I posted on that news article.

God forbid you get sick in this country. Or old. “THEY” (i.e. corporate and government greedies) just don’t want the old or sick to live because it costs too much to take care of them. What happened to all the benefits I paid when I was young? Whose pockets did those go into? The elderly and ill, no matter whether they bled for our country, fed our country, used their minds or brawn for our country, are getting shuttled out of hospitals while still sick because they can’t pay, or because the “greedies” don’t want to care for them anymore due to cost. It’s a total travesty and we American citizens needs to change this with our votes, letters, and total striving for change of our system. If we don’t make changes, this will happen to us all more frequently, and soon we’ll be another third-world nation in the way we act and appear to other nations…greedy, corrupted, unwilling to care for or help our fellow neighbors, a God-less country. Unfortunately, we’ve already begun to be looked at that way around the world. What has this nation become, and what is it becoming? We need to stand up for huge change.”

I’ve not blogged for a long time – busy with life stuff. I’m also an extremely sensitive person and have been undergoing a lot of stress. How life is right now in the past two years has really been getting me down, so I try to avoid the stressful situations by doing things that are fun or relaxing to me. I’ve been escaping into these things a lot.

But after reading this article, I think maybe I need to put some of that energy into fighting. I hate that scientists without a God are genetically modifying our food. I hate that greedy people with no fear of punishment are controlling our health care systems.  I hate that people with money care nothing about people with no money, going on living their lives like nothing is wrong in this world. I hate that we go in and fiddle with other country’s governments, getting innocent people killed in the process. I’m so angry I could explode.

I wish I could live in a peaceful little world but a real world like that is not there anymore. I’m trying to make myself busy and avoid talking about these things because I just feel helpless, and angry when I do start talking about them. There’s no where for that anger to vent. In order to care for myself I escape. However, it’s just not working.

For some time, I’ve been extremely interested in working in the industries that require genetically modified foods to be labeled. I’m also learning about seeds, seed saving and heirloom seeds. I’m looking into organic farming and hiring myself out or volunteering to work on one to learn the ropes. I have no knowledge or experience in any of these things but this is a cause that lights me up!

What cause lights you up? Is it the article I posted about the vet? Health care? Treatment of animals? The goverment and its corruption? DO FREAKING SOMETHING ABOUT IT!! Get a job with these agencies and push the paperwork through fast. Find and implement a method to do this. Join an organization that forces labeling of all genetically modified food (me!) Write to your legislators about health care – heck BE one of the legislators who changes health care in this country for the good. Our President is trying but it’s not enough. He needs help! Join an animal organization and help animals in need. A country that doesn’t respect its animals and nature is no good country at all.

LET’S DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. ALL OF IT. I want America to be a nation that is beautiful again.

Death of a Best Friend, Borders Books

As everyone knows by now, all Borders Bookstores are closing across the world. It’s extremely heartbreaking for those of us who have loved and frequented this bookstore for years.

Before Borders, there was Walden books in the malls. I shopped at Walden books in my hometown with my Grandmother when I was little. She used to buy me Nancy Drew mysteries in hardback at Walden, which I’d finish in a day, and read again and again. I still have them all. She and I browsing the bookstore when I was young is one of my favorite memories with her. Later when I was older, I liked reading science fiction. We still went to the mall together occasionally and she’d still like to buy me a book (even though many times it was a Star Trek book, and she never complained!)

When I moved to Virginia, Walden books was where you went to get a book. Later I discovered some smaller bookstores like Little Professor books in Reston, Virginia. The little bookstores were easy to browse and felt personal.

Then the big bookstores started coming to Virginia – Borders Books and Music, and Barnes and Noble. Borders eventually purchased Walden books, and Barnes and Noble’s presence put that Little Professor books out of business. I never felt at home really in B&N. Too big, too fancy-seeming for my tastes.

But Borders! Wow my favorite store:  Borders Books and Music (who wouldn’t love a store with a name like that?!) in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia.

Yep this was the store I’d immediately love forever. The first time I visited, as I was driving up I just went “Wow”. A two-story, books-and-music wow! Once inside, it was like a dream. The atmosphere was casual, there was a cafe, with books, movies, and music. Dreamy!

I’d also frequent the regular Borders in Tysons Corner – they served veggie burgers at their grill — see, casual! I’d take my kids in to both of the stores when we’d be out shopping. They’d get cookies and cocoa, or cakes and cool drinks. When they got older I’d take them for coffee.

We moved to Pa about 4 years ago, and the first thing I googled was to see if they had a Borders. Yes! Not far from where we were planning to live. It came to be that Borders was the only good thing about living here. (I don’t like where we live now; a move in the future is most likely!) I’d take my son at least once a month to get coffee and see if he needs any books, or go to browse magazines and buy one or a few, and a book (or a few!) As my income declined so did my book and magazine purchases, but I’d still go to the cafe and relax.

Borders has been there with me through rainy days in my life – it’s been my comforting friend. It’s been a happy, upbeat place where you could go to relax, have coffee, eat, use the clean bathroom, and find a new book to accompany you home. You’re leaving me best-friendless up here in Pa, Borders. I’ll love you forever and think of you fondly always. I never had a bad time in your store, or bad customer service. All memories of you with my kids and of visits alone, are uplifting, comforting and happy.

I’m devastated without another bookstore in our area. My son and I will have to find another cafe for our coffee (sans books and magazines). It won’t be the same. Your death leaves a colossal gap.

I’m happy to have known you, happy that you were a best friend of mine from day one. I will miss you desperately always.

Netflix Price Changes

A Netflix envelope picture taken by BlueMint.

Image via Wikipedia

Doesn’t it always happen? You feel you’ve discovered the bargain of the century, and many other people discover it when you do.  The bargain becomes not such a great bargain any longer because…the price of your great find suddenly goes up! People want more money in their pockets for something they were doing perfectly ok with charging before.

This great bargain is Netflix. For those of us who have had to cut the over-$100 cable tv prices from their budget, Netflix’ $7.99 for streaming has been a lifesaver. We can still watch some things on television (albeit not live tv). For me and my husband, it’s old Westerns like The Virginian and Wagon Train. For my son and me, it’s cartoons, and some anime. My husband loves the funky Chinese martial arts films (Netflix has tons), and there’s a ton of anime I think you could never get through if you watched 24 hours a day for a year. We’ve watched quite a few fascinating documentaries and there’ve been a couple of “Oh, I’ve always wanted to see this” type of movies.

Ever since we recently signed up, we feel like we’re part of one of the best-kept secrets. We have been telling friends to sign up, and when they come over to hang out and they see Netflix, they want it too.!/BrennndaM/status/91097633657069569

However, the great deal is blown. Got a letter from Netflix – their prices are pretty much doubling, if you subscribe to streaming + DVD rentals.   I understand that the company is growing, blah blah. With all those millions of subscribers, each paying minimum $10 a month, they certainly cannot be suffering. It’s not like they’re showing brand new content.  There’s always some lame excuse when it comes to large price increases, where greed is the reason but they’re too shy to admit that.

Anyway our letter says:

Dear *Our Family  🙂 *

We are separating unlimited DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming into two separate plans to better reflect the costs of each. Now our members have a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan, or both.

Your current $9.99 a month membership for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs will be split into 2 distinct plans:

   Plan 1: Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $7.99 a month
   Plan 2: Unlimited DVDs, 1 out at-a-time (no streaming) for $7.99 a month

Your price for getting both of these plans will be $15.98 a month ($7.99 + $7.99). You don’t need to do anything to continue your memberships for both unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs.

These prices will start for charges on or after September 1, 2011.

You can easily change or cancel your unlimited streaming plan, unlimited DVD plan, or both, by going to the Plan Change page in Your Account.

We realize you have many choices for home entertainment, and we thank you for your business. As always, if you have questions, please feel free to call us at 1-888-357-1516.

–The Netflix Team

We like having the option of getting a DVD once in awhile – not everything is on streaming. Heck not everything is on Netflix! We take forever to watch the DVD that we do get each month. So this is the part of the package that unfortunately we will drop. It’s not worth it to us, especially since the DVD plan leaves a lot to be desired in the selection that’s there.!/LoisinaMonster/status/91109847898144768

Regardless, the streaming $7.99 is still a good deal for us. We can’t be too picky. We’ll be watching everything in our current DVD queue that we can before September, then will be cutting off the DVD portion of the service. I wish we could keep the service, honestly. Netflix would make the extra $2 off us monthly if they left it alone. However, we’ve re-evaluated everything in the past few years when it comes to our spending, and I will gladly put that $2 toward our grocery bill, and won’t be giving them the $7.99 they want instead.

Lessee…$2 a month saved a month will get me:

  • Canned cat food enough for two weeks of dinners for Echo
  • A can of frozen orange juice for my son for a couple of days of drinking (plus change left over!)
  • A good Lindt chocolate bar (change leftover!) for when I’m really craving chocolate
  • A full carton of eggs – lasts us longer than a week!

I’m sure you can think of tons of things that you could get for $2 saved, let alone $7.99. I won’t let companies dictate to me anymore how much I pay to them for what are really life extras. You raise your prices, and you risk losing my business, some or all. I don’t freaking care anymore. We can do without everything but food, water, shelter and a few clothes on our backs. If companies are not realizing that many people feel as I do, these companies are at risk of having only the clothes on their backs as well.

Even with the changes, I still feel like @BrennndaM above where she can survive without cable because of Netflix. However, that happy feeling of being in love with this service is now gone.

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Last Lone Finch

Male Zebra Finch
Image via Wikipedia

It’s interesting how the tiniest little animals can make one go all sweet. This happens to me each time I have looked in on my finches over the years. Someone gave me 6 society finches and one white zebra finch years ago. The zebra finch “beeped” all day long. Pretty annoying! She was the boss of all the others, keeping them in line.

This finch community lived in a large flight cage. Soon, they were nesting and making eggs. Out of these eggs came 7 more babies!! I have to say 14 in even this large cage was too many. What a mess they made! But they were so fun to watch. They love to nest all together in one nest – at evening their little beaks is about all you can see out of the nest – 14 little pointy beaks poking out of a brown mass of feathers in the hole that is in a finch nest. How in the world they all fit in there, I’ll never figure.

They loved to take baths and they love to peep. The boys sing when the girls are around. The boys even sing for me when I come into the room.

I split my flock in half with my friend a couple of years ago.  The zebra finch had died, and we only had the society fiinches and their children. I kept one favorite that was crippled – she was so crushed in the nest when all the 6 brothers and sisters were born, that her leg didn’t develop right.. So spent her life hobbling around the cage.

Anyway out of those 7, we had a few that started dying of old age. The cat jumped on top of the cage once, knocked it over, and we had two casualties. One got his claws stuck on his nest and he died a tragic death upside down on the basket (since then  no more woven baskets for them, even though they love them so.)

Then we were down  to three last month. One morning I saw the crippled one on the bottom of her cage. By evening she was gone. It was a really sad day, and I buried her in my herb garden. Two finches remained, a tawny girl and a brown boy who always sings to me. The girl went into mourning for over a week, burying her head into herself, and wouldn’t come to eat. She finally broke out of it and was ok for about a week. She finally passed away yesterday morning, either from old age, or from a broken heart missing her crippled girl friend.

All that is left is one boy. I would, in a heartbeat, be at the store buying friends for him. However, my husband, son and daughter — all of them do not want the birds in the house any more. Only my son has spent the time to actually look at them. He helps feed them and sometimes likes to pick them up. He is good at chasing them down if they escape! But he’s 17 now, with no more interest in keeping the tiny creatures. They’re too messy for the small enjoyment he gets from them, I think.

Finches are social creatures – they need other birds to thrive. This little boy that remains has sat on one perch, still, alone, peeping for the his lost girl companion. It’s extremely sad. I want to run right out and buy a couple more, but don’t want to go against my family’s wishes – it will cause problems with everyone complaining at me, and I don’t want to do that. I want them to say to me “Oh enjoy your hobby – go get another couple of birds, so the finches and you will be happy.” instead of “Get rid of those birds!”  For someone who supports everyones’ interests in my family, regardless what they are, I do get resentful if I’m not supported in mine (although many!) It’s not fair if you get supported if your interest is only quiet, clean and doesn’t bother anyone else in the slightest way whatsoever.

In the meantime, little boy finch sits quiet,  alone in his big cage on his perch. Too quiet. Today I will put him into a smaller cage and bring him upstairs by my computer where he can be near me. Perhaps, by chance, I can convince my husband somehow to allow me to bring him home a couple of friends.