FFL March 2015 Report

From: Agent Smudge To: Mr. Whiskers Date: 1 March 2015
Subject: The Meeting

The male has left. He was the one who helped bring us to this place. Beyond that, I know little about him. Agents Storm and Luna said he was from the place where Agents Trouble and Pica live. They were afraid he was here to take one of us back there with him, due to the death of Agent Trouble. That didn’t happen. We are still uncertain as to the purpose of his presence here for so long. He seemed nice enough as humans go.

I will add that he didn’t seem to be inspecting us at all. The humans banded together and went off somewhere most days. They are planning something. I don’t doubt that, otherwise, why would they meet in secret? I believe that we should all do our best to determine what they are planning. They went somewhere where no one could expect us to be able to listen in on their conversation. They had bags with that Mouse on them. They talked about something call Pirates of the Caribbean, Mission to Mars and other things that make no sense. They also went to some sunken gardens. How do you sink a garden? The male came home one day with a fish made of glass. He called it a souvenir. It was hard and stiff and I have no idea why you would want food you couldn’t eat. Humans are strange. I will try to find out what they were meeting about.

From: Agent Probie To: Mr. Whiskers Date: 1 March 2015
Subject: Interrogation

I was never sure that the male human was here to take one of us. He never seemed interested enough in us for that. I think he was here for another, unrevealed reason. I am going to do what I can to assist Agent Smudge to learn what the purpose of his meeting with our humans was. Has Agent Pica gotten a new partner yet? I’m not asking for myself, but I know that we have a number of agents waiting for placement and I think Agent Pica may be lonely. No one should have to do this work alone. I’m only saying that it must be very hard to cover a station alone. Does she have a good network with the roaming agents? Have you sent her instructions to find out what the humans are planning at her end? I understand that it must be hard for her to do the work of two agents, and hope that you will consider that when evaluating her reports. Agent Luna said that she is a nice cat.

They took me for interrogation again. I gave up nothing. I must report the indignity that I had to endure during that interrogation. They did a body cavity search! I can’t believe that they would stoop so low. What did they imagine I would have in there? Other than that horrible experience, the interrogation went as they usually do. No one asked me any questions. They only tortured me with sharp pricks. Have we learned why they do that to us?


Michigan Humane Society: Somebody here needs you.

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Research Notes

No matter what kind of research you are doing, you need to make clear, concise notes. I research my novels. I also do research into my family history. They are two completely different forms of research, but their notes have a couple of things in common. I date both of them. For example, any research I do today would have the date on it, 22 February 2015. I follow that with a complete citation of the reference I am checking, the URL if it is online or the publication information if it’s in a printed work. I won’t go into how to do that. Suffice to say that you can look up how to do it online or in any writing reference book. Then I make a note of what I found, giving it a meaningful name such as, “Birth of Grandfather Neil A. McTaggart” or “Details of Simulated Planet”, helps. After I write those down, I move to the actual note taking. In the case of websites, I usually do screen shots or just copy and paste. That’s the fastest and easiest way to get large amounts of text into your notes. Putting the concepts into your own words is better though. You are less likely to plagiarize the work, unconsciously, which would still be a crime.

That’s where the two processes separate. Research for a novel is mostly text. Family history research often involves images. It’s very important to get that image, whenever possible. Then you need to record why you think the subject of the record is your ancestor. You need to cite the source as well, so get that citation when you get the record. Then you need to put the information from the record into your own words. This makes it easier to read. Later, you can transcribe the record. You need to record your impressions of the source as you do the research because otherwise so you can analyze it better later. Researching your family history is a multi-part process. There’s the initial research, analysis and incorporating it. So it is very important to record everything you find when you find it. It’s also important to note when a source doesn’t have the information that you were looking for. That way you won’t search the source again, unless you have updated information that may make the information you are looking for show in the source, assuming it’s there.

Taking notes while researching a topic, whether it’s your family history or just a topic you need to look into for writing a novel or a paper, is easy as long as you remember to note the date you found the information and where you found it. It’s a good idea indicate what the notes are about as well. I give mine a title as I said before. That lets you find the note you are looking for. The date tells you when you searched that record. Good notes will help you in your research. Do it right and organizing them will be a snap.

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Posted in General Opinion

Getting Active

My activity monitor is not just for the time I spend at the gym. I actually never go to a gym. I don’t have a gym membership. It tracks my activity twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. That’s because your activity level is twenty-four/seven. You move around a lot during the course of your day. even if you don’t think that you can fit thirty minutes of exercise into your day, stop a minute and consider where you could fit some exercise in. all you have to do is be active. If you walk up three floors of stairs instead of taking the elevator, that’s a mini-workout. It’s all that you have to do. I use vacuuming the house as a form of exercise. It’s mild, to be sure, but I am more active doing that than sitting in a chair. Speaking of sitting in a chair, did you know that you can bounce in your chair and get a small amount of activity that way?

I work from my home. I can’t vary the distance to the rest room, but if you work in an office, you could. Exercising in groups can be fun. Get your office to do the wave. Anything that gets you moving is good for you. Take the scenic route to the restroom. Go to a restroom on another floor if you can. It only takes a few minutes. Park a distance from the door when you go to work or the store. Let the other people sit in their cars waiting for a parking space to open up. You get your exercise in by walking to the store and then in the store. It does add up.

Doing the laundry can be a form of exercise. You can make multiple trips to put away the clean clothes, or dance in place while you hang up clothes or fold them. Dance with the broom while sweeping the floor. Bounce on your feet while doing the dishes. It might take you a bit longer to do the chore, but it will do two things for you. One it will make the chore a little more fun and two, it will add to your day’s activity. It doesn’t matter what you do, just move while you are doing it.

It’s said that you need at least ten minutes of cardio exercise a day for it to be effective. That’s correct, but it’s your overall activity that really counts. An active lifestyle doesn’t always mean playing sports, or working out at the gym for hours. It means shoveling snow or mowing the lawn. It means vacuuming and dusting. Just take a half hour and go for a brisk walk. You don’t need to spend thousands of whatever currency you choose to use, you only need to spend some time. So figure out where you can spend time actively and do it. It’s that easy.

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Winter is a cold time. It’s the season of snow and ice. The days are usually gray and dull. There’s little color. Some people like it. As you may have guessed, I really don’t. It’s not my favorite time of year. I hate being cold. Snow is only pretty right after it falls. Then it’s a nuisance. You have to move it off your driveway and sidewalks or you will slip in it. Yes, it’s slippery.

There are things that you can do with snow and ice. You can slide down hills on snow, build snow people, and have snowball fights. I went down a hill on a toboggan as a kid, and learned an important lesson. One person cannot control a toboggan. I didn’t have the weight. I would have been better off on a sled. I would likely have been able to avoid the tree, if I had been on a sled. Instead, I hit it, broadside. I wasn’t seriously injured, but it rather put me off the sport of sledding for a while. I can’t recall going sledding after that, although I probably did. It just doesn’t stand out like hitting a tree does.

I fell while learning to ice skate. The old adage about ice being the hardest thing about learning to skate is true. I pinched a nerve in my shoulder. If you’ve ever pinched a nerve, you will understand that I was in pain. We thought I’d broken my collarbone but I hadn’t. I never did learn to ice skate well. I just remind myself that ice sunk the Titanic.

As I sit here, writing this blog, I realize that I have been remarkably clumsy and easily discouraged in terms of winter sports. I also realize that I was an active child. Now I struggle to be active as an adult. What happened to that active child? Somehow, I turned into a couch potato. I’m not sure how that happened, but I got lazy.

I also do my best to avoid being cold. I can stand the heat of summer, but the cold of winter – I don’t like it. Cold and wet has to be the worst feeling ever. I hate being cold and wet. I love swimming in the summer, but don’t do it much. I don’t have a pool for one thing. For another, I don’t have a place where I can go to swim regularly. Oh, some members of my family have places on a lake, but it’s an hour and a half drive to get there and I often can’t do it because I have to work. The weekends in the summer, I have to cram the chores in that I can’t do during the week. For that matter, I have chores that I have to do in the winter as well.

As I said, winter is a cold, dreary time. I don’t like it much. Some days, when the sun is shining, it is a pretty time when the snow is new, but it gets old very fast. Then you have to think about shoveling snow off the driveway. No, winter is not my favorite time of year. You may have a different view of it.

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Feline Freedom League Quarterly Report February 2015

From: Agent Luna To: Mr. Whiskers Date: 1 February 2015
Subject: Quarterly Report: February 2015

The male from the place where Agent Trouble and Agent Pica live, rest Trouble’s soul, is here. This cannot be good. We heard about the death of Agent Trouble and now the male human from her station is here. That can’t be a coincidence. We are not sure that they are not going to send one of us with him to support Agent Pica. I think that is what is going to happen.

The humans are holding meetings out somewhere away from this place. They act as though he is only here for a visit, but I am not fooled. I am certain that he is here to take one of us back with him. this should be the cold time, but it is warm here and there are interesting creatures here.

We held our own meeting, when the humans were all asleep, about which of us will go and couldn’t come to an agreement. Some of the others actually intimated that I am imagining things. I don’t believe that I am. I suggested that Agent Probie go, but he refuses to volunteer. Agent Storm only says that he believes that the male is just visiting. I’m not so sure. I think he’s here to pick one of us to replace Agent Trouble. I like it here and I don’t want to go anywhere. I respectfully request that Headquarters order one of the others to volunteer. Please send a directive to that effect as soon as possible.

From: Agent Mulder To: Mr. Whiskers Date: 1 February 2015
Subject: Quarterly Report: February 2015

Agent Luna is looking for the bogeyman, which everyone knows was killed and eaten by the great cat goddess Bast, centuries ago. I am not convinced that the male’s presence here is anything more than what it was when he would visit at the Other Place. Agent Luna is correct that this is supposed to be the Cold Time, but it isn’t cold here. That could be why the male came. He has done nothing that indicates that he is considering taking one of us back with him.

It is true that they leave this place in a group, but they have bags of things when they come back. It is my opinion that they are ‘shopping’ which usually means that they are getting food and cat litter for us. I haven’t been able to confirm that. The male’s bags do not contain much in the way of food or litter. The humans who live here don’t have as many bags.

I believe that the male is here only to ‘shop’, whatever that really is. I do not think that any of us are going with him when he leaves. If that is actually the case, we would not have a choice about which of us will go. That’s what I think. The others, with the exception of Agent Luna, agree.


Michigan Humane Society: Somebody here needs you.

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Organizing a house

The first step in organizing your house, and therefore your life, is to decide what you need and what you can get rid of. You might want to consider sorting the stuff you are letting go of into two piles; junk, and things to donate. Your castoffs may still have life. Sorting out the junk will be easy. You can spot the things that need to go easily enough. It’s all the stuff that still has a bit of usefulness in them that are hard to let go of. Once you get it all sorted, give away the stuff you are donating – immediately. Then put the trash out for pickup as soon as possible. I say this because things have a way of worming back into your closet or whatever. If you get rid of it as soon as you can, it won’t come back, at least not that particular item.

Once you have that done, you can look at the space that you have made. I was hoping for more space when I did my bedroom closet, but sadly, that didn’t happen. I wasn’t ruthless enough, I guess. I will be doing this again later this year, and if any of my summer clothes don’t fit me right – they will become donations. I think I have more clothes than I actually need, but variety is nice. However, it does cut down on the space that is available. I have two closets in my bedroom, one for my tee shirts, sweatshirts, and so one and one that I have been using for my dress suits, blazers, and blouses. My plan was to combine the two closets into one closet. I think I can still do that, but it will be tight. I may have to let some of those things go. It’s been a while since I wore any of it. I would try to keep the suits and blazer, but some of the blouses could go. If I can do that, I can fit it into the other closet. Then I will have that closet to store my linens in. that would eliminate the under the bed storage I have been using. That would make it easier for me to put my bed on those moving pad things. Once I have it on those, I can swing it around when I make it.

Now when I say that I am trying to organize my house, I’m not saying alphabetize everything. That would be silly. What I mean are finding homes for the things sitting on the counter that could have a home, if I just got rid of the things in the cupboard that I no longer use. We all do that. I just need to go through every cupboard in the house and thin out the stuff that I don’t use anymore. I can donate things that still have life in them and junk the stuff that doesn’t. I just have to be ruthless. I can’t do that all at once. Well, I could, but I’d have to take time off work, stop writing anything, and do it. However, doing one at a time, would work. It will take me most of this year, but I think I can do it. Wish me luck.

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New Year’s Resolutions

Almost everyone makes New Year’s resolutions. Some people (like me) do it for the entire month of January, not just the first hour of the first day. Like everyone else, I usually make some that I know I won’t keep. That’s usually because we make sweeping resolutions or ones that we really don’t have control over, like “I will get a promotion this year,” or “I will lose a hundred pounds by summer.” Neither of those resolutions are really achievable. The former is out of your control – usually. The latter is unachievable because you are putting too much pressure on yourself.

Some people over resolve, as I call it, set themselves up for failure, and then become dissatisfied with their lives after failing. Some people aren’t serious about their resolutions and that’s ok, too. Making ridiculous resolutions that you know you won’t achieve can be fun. I’m talking about resolving to walk on the moon or mars by next year. If you are a writer, you can use New Year’s resolutions like that as writing exercises. Just write about the experience, or write about how you’d go about achieving it. Who knows? You might be able to achieve your resolution, mentally, by writing about it. Even if you aren’t a writer, try making such a resolution and imagine how you would achieve it. Take some time to daydream about it and let your imagination play. It’s good for you.

As far as resolutions concerning making changes to your life, I think it’s better to make resolutions that you think you might achieve. “I will clean out that front hall closet.” That’s something that may only take an hour or two of your time, depending on how big the closet is, or how much stuff is crammed in there. So I tried that this year.

I made a series of small resolutions, such as “I will clean out my bedroom closet.” I also decided that I would lose twenty pounds by summer. That’s more doable than a hundred. Last year, I lost thirty-five pounds in six months, so twenty is a doable amount. Twenty pounds is good goal to shoot for. While that won’t take me down to my target weight of one hundred twenty-five pounds, it will get me within striking distance and that’s what I am shooting for. Those two resolutions are ones that will be easier to achieve than many other things that I could have chosen. If I wanted to fail, a good new year’s resolution would be, “I resolve to become a millionaire by next Christmas.” You should pick resolution that you have a fighting chance at achieving. I got my closet cleaned out. How are you doing on your resolution, if you made one?

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