May 5, 2013
One of our turtles, Ellie, died last night. She was a little over ten years old. Christina noticed she was sluggish on Friday, and I took her to the vet on Saturday morning. The doctor said she had a respiratory infection and gave her a shot, but by this morning she had passed. Ten years isn't very long for a turtle. I'm afraid the move, and being out of her tank, placed a lot of stress on her. She wasn't the healthiest turtle because her shell had grown in tight, constantly rubbing her neck, and after she lost some claws they never grew back correctly.
April 18, 2012
She was the brave one. When she came home with Chie and Niea, she was the first one to come out of the downstairs bathroom and look around. She loved eating Goldfish crackers and tuna. She loved playing with cardboard boxes and string. When I held her like a baby she would grab my arm with both her hands and hold me tight.
The night before she slept with me on the recliner. She climbed out of the kitty bed next to me and fell into the blankets next to me. I held her tight the whole night. During the day I took her on a walk around the neighborhood wrapped in a towel so she could see the trees and leaves and sky, feel the wind, and hear other people and the world. She was too weak to move her head but I know she could see things, and I told her how much I loved her and how much I would miss her.
She died in my arms.
April 27, 2008
New Leather Chair
I finally found the leather chair I've been looking for after weeks of visiting random furniture stores. I knew the style I wanted. Somewhat squarish with good armrests, and it needed to be leather so it would be easy to clean and the cats won't damage it. But they're always expensive.
But, I finally found a single chair that was in the back, marked down because it didn't get purchased as part of the set by someone else. Needed some cleaning, but only $200. Now I'll finally have a chair for upstairs. I've been sitting on one beanbag instead of two lately because Chie peed on one of them.
November 5, 2007
A Turtle Nest
A while back, Ellie had to be removed from the aquarium because the back of her neck was cut open. It took a really long time to heal, but eventually I decided to put her back into the tank. Unfortunately, she started swimming around really quickly again and Shelly would still try to bite her neck. I'm not entirely convinced that Shelly is the reason for the wound though, because it's clear her shell is rubbing against that part of her neck when she swims around.
I did a little poking around recently, and learned something I didn't know about female red-eared sliders. Apparently, even if not fertilized, they need to lay their eggs by digging into the ground. If they can't find a suitable place, they will try to hold the eggs in, which can lead to health problems. This is a regular process, so they need a place where they can go and lay their eggs. So I needed to find some way to create a nesting area in the aquarium, and it needs to be deep enough for Ellie to feel comfortable digging. A 50/50 mixture of mulch and sand was what I found suggested.
The hard part was finding a way to stick this into the aquarium such that it wouldn't just turn into mud. I ended up buying a small 10 gallon aquarium and filling that mostly up with the mulch/sand mixture. By itself, this was way too light and floated to the top of the primary aquarium. So I had to stick four bricks into the bottom. I cut a small piece of acrylic to act as a ramp out. With the right amount of mulch and sand, I was able to get it to float at a level where the turtle dock would allow Ellie to climb in.
I haven't seen Ellie take any interest in the nest yet. Masako, my neighbor down the street who also does our landscaping and maintenance, told me that Ellie is actually too small still to be laying eggs anyway.
September 29, 2007
New Cichlids and Green Tiger Barbs
Today we picked up four new cichlids, one each of blue, yellow, orange, and white, as well as three green tiger barbs and a pink-flowered artificial plant for the aquarium. After trying a planted aquarium, the tank has been pretty bare of hiding spots and places for fish to feel safe or sleep, so I put all the artificial plants back in. I also wanted to stock it up with a few more fish so things would be more lively and interesting.
I've never seen a white African Cichlid before, so I'm curious to see how that one ends up when it's grown up. We bought all small fish, since they're cheaper that way and they're going to grow up fast enough anyway eating all of the crumbs from the turtles. So now we have six cichilds in there and seven tiger barbs. So far they're getting along very well, and the large blue cichlid is still the dominant one but there's a lot more stuff in there so things should be a little less stressful for everyone else.
Luna also wanted to get some ghost shrimp. Ghost shrimp are cool because they really look like ghosts, but are better for a less aggressive tank where they won't just become food for the fish or turtles, or end up getting plastered to the wall above the water line.
September 2, 2007
Paycheck is a full-length movie based off a Philip K. Dick short story by the same name. Philip K. Dick is one of my favorite authors, and many of his stories get turned into movies that I like. Paycheck isn't the greatest movie, but I still like the premise and the ideas involved, even if I think the writers failed to create a logically consistent plot. Philip K. Dick might have been a little crazy, but his stories always made sense. The reason the movie's plot doesn't work is because you are shown enough information to know how and why the protagonist, Michael Jennings, comes to his decisions, but that information is inconsistent with what he ends up doing. If you can get past that, then this is a decent action-thriller.
I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the Paycheck movie basically takes the simple and interesting science fiction premise of the short story and builds a longer plot around it. The premise is really something that can be presented in a much shorter time frame, which is why most of the movie is John Woo action. At least it wasn't crazy over-the-top action like some of the other movies he's directed, although there are a few times when things are just a little too convenient. And I won't say Ben Affleck's acting is very good, but I always like seeing Uma Thurman act.
We also discovered something interesting while watching this movie, though. Kiba seemed to really like it. He watched most of it, and the ending, and sat comfortably the whole time to do so. At the climax, when there were lots of explosions with loud noises and bright flashes on the screen, he even got down and went closer to the front, instead of running away like the other cats would do.
August 26, 2007
First Game Night with Wendy
We had our first game night with Wendy, Brian, and Thomas just now. They have game nights fairly often, with a usual crowd which Luna and I haven't met before. This time, though, game night was at our house and it was just the five of us. Which is a good number. We ordered take out from Buca di Beppo because I had a $10 gift card that I received in the mail at some point, but Thomas is picky about food or something and brought his own Chinese food. Wendy was really happy to meet Nami and Kiba, and to play with them. I think she said she likes Nami more, but that might have just been because Nami was wearing her cone which makes her look cuter. Brian couldn't remember their names. :p
Afterwards, we played Settlers of Catan. I think SoC is my favorite board game, and it's one that Wendy and Brian really like to play also. I guess they are used to playing with someone who has some house rules and does some things a little differently, while I'm only used to playing by the specific rules mentioned in the rule books. I guess they have also never played any of the non-predefined maps, because this time we played random (which actually shows up in some of the map books) and they were a little surprised. Brian won the first game, and Wendy the second; we played with Seafarers the second game.
Wendy and Brian are incredibly competitive, but Brian more so I think. Brian spends a long time trying to figure out the right move, and tries to be tricky about his cards and trading and stuff like that. They were sitting next to each other and often arguing (in a friendly manner) about trades and points and strategies and other things like that. Often poking or pinching each other too. :) Thomas was a lot quieter, but built steadily. Luna and I were also kind of poking at each other, but not so aggressively as Brian and Wendy. Even though Luna played before, with Karen and Sebastian, she'd forgotten all the rules.
It wasn't anything bad, except for one time that Brian tried to take one of Wendy's resource cards after using the robber without waiting for her to give it to him. He grabbed a development card instead, which Wendy smacked down on to make sure he couldn't see what she had. But that ended up bending the card pretty badly. Brian gave me a replacement card though, which was nice of him. Otherwise it'd be really easy to spot the card in the development card deck.
For the second game, Luna and Brian switched seats so Brian and Wendy couldn't reach each other anymore. Things became a little calmer then; I think it's probably best if they are out of each others reach for these kind of games. After the game though it doesn't matter. They don't hold grudges or anything like that.
The second game ended after I traded a sheep resource to Wendy, which allowed to her build a city and reach twelve points. In retrospect, it may have been wiser to not trade with her, but I don't think I had that good a chance of winning anyway. The early game had stuck me with very little resources after being cut off by one of Wendy's settlements, and I needed longest road or largest army to have a chance, but Thomas was far ahead of me in road length and Wendy had like six soldiers out.
Anyway, we ended around 3am, and they left shortly afterwards. Luna had a really good time. Better than she thought she was going to, and she wants to play again sometime soon. It'll probably be a while before we play again though. Alla is coming back for the Labor Day weekend so we're going to meet up with her then. Maybe the weekend after.
August 25, 2007
Nami has Diarrhea
Nami has had diarrhea for a little over a week now, and it isn't getting better. She's been avoiding the litter box (Nami is very picky about it anyway) and chooses instead to poop onto the floor around the litter box or in the bathtub. She's also been aiming her pee into the bathtub or sink drains, instead of the litter box, if she can get to it. And with her diarrhea, she hasn't been able to control her poop as much and sometimes she drips it around, or sits on something and leaves a poop stain. So I took her to the vet today and they took a stool sample and examined her for any other symptoms. She's still very active and eating and drinking well, so the doctor isn't too concerned and suspects it might be parasites.
I took Nami home with an Elizabethan Cone on her head, to prevent her from cleaning herself after pooping. Instead we have to clean her butt using baby wipes and we also got some medicine to spread on her butt after cleaning to help it heal. The vet also gave us a de-worming pill again, just in case there are parasites inside her, and also some antibiotic pills that we have to give 1/8 of twice a day for eight days.
Update: the stool samples came back negative so Nami does not have parasites. Her diarrhea is also getting better.
August 10, 2007
Asuka Isn't Eating
More bad news concerning our cats. Asuka has become extremely underweight. You can feel the bones on her spine and ribs, and even stick your fingers between them a little. She only weighs a little over seven pounds, but she should weigh closer to nine. I think the stress of Nami and Kiba may have gotten to her, and we're just now seeing the effects because it is so hard to actually tell if they are eating. Right now, Asuka doesn't have a taste for regular cat food and is only interested in tuna. We'll feed her tuna if that's what it takes to get her back on track, but hopefully this won't last long.
When we took Asuka into the vet the week before, so we could get deworming medicine for her, we also had them run some blood tests since she was so underweight. The tests came back normal, so at least there isn't something strange going on with her and she's not sick. However, the veterinarian did caution us that if she wasn't better in two weeks we need to bring her in again for a more thorough analysis. It might be cancer, although that doesn't seem likely given her relatively young age.
It might also be that Asuka has a more severe case of tapeworms, and that combined with the stress of the new kittens making her not eat is why she is so thin.
August 4, 2007
Niea Has a Tapeworm
Luna found something yucky on Niea's butt last night. A white, squirming little worm thing near her rectum. It turns out that Niea has tapeworms. We're not really sure where Niea got her tapeworms. The typical method of infection is when a cat eats a flea that has the eggs in it. But all of our cats are strictly indoor. Which means the likely cause is either Nami or Kiba because they might have had fleas or something else when we adopted them, or all of the recent medical activity for all of them. I haven't noticed a lot of scratching, which means at least there aren't a lot of fleas in our home. Fortunately, treating tapeworms isn't too bad; you just need some prescription medicine from the veterinarian.
Niea, Asuka, and Chie each got one and a half pills of the medicine, and Nami and Kiba got one pill each. Since we know for sure Niea has the parasite, we have to give her another dose of one and a half pills in three weeks.
Besides the medicine, it's also important to try and make sure any fleas that might happen to be in the house are killed. So we vacuumed everything that the cats might have slept on or been near, from the carpets to the chairs, and laundered everything else like the blankets. That takes care of the house, but not the cats. The veterinarian recommended picking up Advantage. It comes out to about $10/dose at Pet Club.
July 16, 2007
Dinner at Hsiuli's
Luna and I went to have dinner with my mom, brother Calvin, Hsiuli and her son Spencer, and Spencer's grandma yesterday afternoon. Hsiuli lives up in Walnut Creek, so it took a little over an hour to drive up, and again back down. I already wasn't feeling that good from Saturday, because instead of being able to just take care of Niea and Nami, run some errands, and sleep, my mom wanted to go have dinner with Calvin at a restaurant. And then still with not enough sleep having to drive for so long in the really hot sun was very tiring.
We left home around 1 o'clock and then left Hsiuli's new place at 5 o'clock. The food was pretty good. I think Hsiuli spent a while working on the food. But there wasn't much to do there. We ending up looking at some of Spencer's stuff for a little while, and then watching America's Funniest Videos on TV.
Although we left at 5 o'clock, we didn't get back home until around 7 o'clock or a little after, because Luna wanted to stop at 99 Ranch to buy some vegetables. Even once we got home, I couldn't shower and sleep because all of the stuff we needed to do but couldn't, like cleaning up and taking care of the cats, had to be done.
July 15, 2007
Niea's Okay (We Think)
I called the doctor at the emergency clinic this morning and found that Niea is doing much better. She is able to meow a little again, and was very hungry this morning and ate a lot of dry cat food (the clinic fed her Science Diet). So we went to pick her up and take her home. My mom came also, because she visited this weekend. When we got there, we had to wait a long time to get Niea because there were a bunch of emergencies coming in, but finally we got Niea and she was glad to be coming home. We also got some X-rays which showed something possibly in her stomach area, but the doctor wasn't sure and it could have just been nothing in particular. We are supposed to feed Niea 1/4 of a Pepcid AC 10mg tablet each day for four days, to help her digestive system. Niea was shaved in a couple of places: on her neck and on her right forearm where the IV was.
While we were there, a few other pet owners came in to pick up their dogs and cats, although the vast majority of people that showed up, both for pick up and to drop off, were for dogs. A couple of dogs came in after having eaten something like chew toys, but one dog had been bitten by what was probably a rattlesnake and was in a lot of pain. Left untreated, his body would shut down and he would die. It looked like the family wouldn't actually be able to afford treatment, especially since I guess anti-venom is very expensive, but they said they'd figure out some way to pay it off.
We have VPI for Asuka, Niea, and Chie, and I'll be adding Nami and Kiba to our account as well. So even though Niea's treatment is expensive, we should get most of it back after I file the claim form. My mom didn't really care about Niea, or the other pets. She was more concerned with whether or not insurance would pay for the treatment, and even laughed when the dog with the snake bite was crying in pain.
Niea's in the Hospital
So Niea didn't get any better since coming home yesterday. I slept with her in the extra bedroom, and she didn't pass anything and there were several times when she was trying to get something out. She's still not playing around, or even doing much, except for lying on the bed or hiding inside. So we made an appointment to go back to the doctor this afternoon. When we got there, we saw a different doctor who said she might have felt something in her stomach. Might be poop, might be an obstruction. Unfortunately they close at 5pm and wouldn't be able to fit Niea in for an X-ray, so she referred us to the emergency clinic which is open after hours and 24 hours over the weekend.
We brought Niea there, and she didn't meow once, even as she was being carried away by the nurse. They're going to give her an X-ray and do some blood work to see if there's anything to be found (they can do all the work in-house at the emergency clinic, which is not possible at the doctor's office) and give us a call later tonight. We should get a call soon. Most likely she'll be there at least 24 hours and we'll have to pick her up on Monday morning, but might be sooner or later depending on what they find out and if anything needs to be done.
It's possible Niea just has a sore throat, or a viral or bacterial infection. Which would be better than having swallowed something because that might require surgery to remove. If she just can't eat hard food because of some irritation or sickness, then we can feed her soft food or the bland canned food which we got from the doctor, in small quantities several times throughout the day.
July 14, 2007
Nami's Sick; Niea's Hurting
We took Niea and Nami to the doctor today. Niea has stopped being able to swallow hard food (she ate some vegetables okay), immediately throwing them back up before they can get down her throat. And she's no longer running around or playing, and can't speak anymore either. When she tries to speak, she just opens her mouth but nothing comes out. She's also been either coughing or heaving, trying to get something out of her throat or stomach.
So we took her to the doctor today, and brought along Nami because maybe she gave Niea her sickness and that is all. The doctor examined Niea and wasn't able to find any obstruction in the throat or stomach, but once she say Niea's dry heaving she gave her a shot, pumped 200mL of fluid under her skin, and said we shouldn't let her eat or drink for 24 hours and see if she is able to either pass or cough up whatever's bothering her by tomorrow. If not, we should bring her in for some X-rays and blood work.
The doctor also took a look at Nami, because her runny nose and sneezing should have gone away by now, if it was just a little cold. Two weeks is too long for her to be this way. The doctor proscribed some antibiotics, 0.5mL three times a day, as well as a lysine paste, 1mL twice a day, in case she has herpes. We need to keep Nami isolated from the rest of the cats until she gets better.
July 1, 2007
On something of a whim, Luna and I drove to Pet Club to take a look at the kittens available for adoption. Luna has had some desire for baby cats since meeting Asuka, Niea, and Chie, since they're already grown up. I'd gone to Pet Club today to buy more food and litter and some carbon for the aquarium filter, and noticed they were having an adoption fair. I think it's every Saturday, although sometimes it's dogs. I mentioned it to Luna when I got home, and she got really excited so we went back.
There were about a dozen cats and kittens there today. I think all kittens except for one, who looked about a year or two old. Some had already been adopted. We looked at a few, but then found a black kitten who has white fur on his tummy and neck. He was my favorite, of course, and he also immediately grabbed onto me once I started holding him. He didn't want to get off from my shoulder. So we decided to get him. His name was Spunk.
Luna also liked another cat who was in the same cage as him. A calico female. They aren't siblings, and haven't been staying together, but seemed to get along with each other pretty well. And Luna really liked her. So we decided to get her also. Her name was Ginger.
We got another little kitty bed and some Eukanuba kitten food, then drove home. They both started exploring pretty quickly after we got home.
It took us a longer time to figure out what to call the boy. I suggested Sasshi, from Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, but that sounded too much like sashimi to Luna. So we settled on Kiba from Wolf's Rain.
Nami likes to run around a lot, and jump and hunt and play. Kiba is less active, but much more curious and he likes to explore and climb around on things and hide under the stairs.
June 17, 2007
Shannon & Yvonne for Dinner
Shannon & Yvonne and Mei-Ling came over for dinner last night. It's been so long since Luna and I last saw them, which was when we went over to their house shortly after Luna arrived. Luna made a bunch of Chinese dishes for them to eat, and a fruit plate. They brought some leftover ice cream for dessert, even though we'd bought ice cream before, and orange juice too. Of course the first thing they all wanted to do was find the kitties. They all ran under the bed at first, but after a while Niea and then Asuka came out. Yvonne managed to scare Chie out later on, and after I held him for a long time he calmed down and Yvonne and Mei-Ling could also hold him.
After dinner, Luna started playing her PSP, and Yvonne looked for a movie to watch. Since Shannon wanted to play a board game, Yvonne could watch whatever she wanted and she and Mei-Ling watched Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. Shannon and I played Scrabble, and I won by a few dozen points. Shannon kept trying to make up words so she could use her high-point letters. After a while Luna sat next to us to watch.
It was after the movie ended that Yvonne actually scared Chie out. And Shannon petted Shelly while I held him out of the aquarium. Shelly wasn't too scared. Probably since he'd spent a lot of time around Luna and me while I was trying to grow the plants and Ellie was having disinfectant put on every day. I put Blue Man Group's The Complex Rock Tour Live on to play in the background during this time. After they all left, Luna and I watched it for a short time, before going to bed.
June 9, 2007
I bought a bag of Science Diet Indoor Cat Adult cat food several weeks ago because there was a sales rep at Pet Club giving out coupons. I figured I'd give it a try, since it seems to be a highly regarded brand of cat food. But Asuka, Niea, and Chie didn't like it that much. In fact, Chie almost treated it like the food of last resort; he constantly asked me to put their normal Nutro Natural Choice Complete Care Indoor food in the bowl, even if the bowl was full of the Science Diet food. Asuka and Niea both clearly preferred the Nutro food as well.
I'm also not as sure about how well the Science Diet cat food affects their teeth. I think Chie's breath got a little worse while we were using the Science Diet, which I usually mixed in with the Nutro food because that made it more likely they'd eat some of the Science Diet food. We'll see how Chie's breath smells after he's been back on the Nutro food for a while. He usually has the worst breath of the three. I try to check his gums and teeth and don't see any signs of tooth problems, but I'm not a cat dentist either. Keeping them on dry food shaped to prevent food stuck in their teeth and gums, and to scrape away tartar, should help keep their teeth healthier.
I think I will try giving the cats some Innova brand dry food next time though. It seems to have the best ingredients, better in comparison to Nutro, including real pieces of fruit, vegetables, and no fillers like corn.
June 7, 2007
Plant Gro CO2 System
I ordered a cheapo CO2 system for the aquarium, to try and help the plants grow faster. It's called the Plant-Gro CO2 Natural System, and works by allowing CO2 bubbles generated by a mixture of sugar and some chemicals (yeast?) to flow through a little zig-zag path and diffuse some CO2 into the water. It's not particularly efficient, but it's cheap. We'll see how the plants react. The unit also came with some plant nutrient liquid, which I dumped into the tank.
You do have to be careful about the canister though. If it tips over, some of the solution will escape into the aquarium. I think one of the cats knocked it over sometime during the night, and now the aquarium water is cloudy. Perhaps filled with sugar, but I'm not sure. The fish seem okay though, so I'm not that worried.
May 20, 2007
Flourite Red Substrate
I spent most of yesterday replacing the previous freshwater aquarium setup gravel with Seachem Flourite Red substrate. This gravel is red clay, and has a mineral composition suited for freshwater planted aquariums. The reason I switched from regular stones to this clay is to start keeping live plants with the turtles and fish. The plants should help clean the water as well as provide a nicer living environment both cosmetically and functionally. Plus, it should provide a more comfortable habitat with more hiding places for the fish and turtles.
It was a very arduous process, removing the existing gravel and water. First I had to take out all of the various driftwood and plastic decoration, then put the fish into a bucket that had some of the aquarium water in it. The reason for this is because cleaning out the gravel would release a lot of organic waste which would get the fish sick. Plus, since I was using an undergravel filter there was over a year of organic waste trapped beneath the filter, and I needed to remove the filter. Catching the fish took a while, and I wasn't able to get all of them while the tank was full. So I drained most of the water leaving only a little water left, to catch the last few.
Since there was so much waste in the tank, I actually had to refill and then drain again. Without the undergravel filter, waste remains suspended in the water and flows freely while the water circulates through the canister filter. An undergravel filter can make things look cleaner, since everything gets pulled down to the bottom where you can't see it, but it's actually just making things really dirty in once place. But they make sense in some cases, where you might change the water very often and do not want to deal with an external filter. But I should have paid attention to the online discussions explaining how an undergravel filter really isn't worth it for any serious aquarium.
Once all the existing gravel was pulled out, after the second full water replacement, I wiped up the little remaining dirt and gravel and turned on the heater. I keep my tank at 78°F, which is an ideal temperature for both the turtles and the fish. Since I filled the water using a hose, it was all really cold water. I then poured the Flourite Red into the tank, which created huge clouds of red clay dust. I left things this way for a while, because the water was not fully heated yet, and then eventually put the fish back into the tank, along with some plastic plants and driftwood to provide them with hiding places. Unfortunately, I had to do this before the tank was fully heated up, but it was not too bad and the fish managed fine.
I also learned a lesson about incandescent light bulbs the hard way. I've purchased a new lighting fixture to provide more light and heat to the tank and turtles. The light will be more important for the plants, and the heat will help keep the turtles healthy. Unfortunately, I didn't know that water on a hot incandescent bulb will cause it to crack, shatter, or even explode (like a halogen bulb). I wasted three bulbs this way and thought it was a malfunctioning fixture until I searched online and found out you really can't use incandescent bulbs with an aquarium. They're fine for dry or relatively dry environments, but my tank is very humid. I've ordered some compact fluorescent UV bulbs instead, to increase the lighting.
I'll update again soon, once the new lights and plants I ordered arrive. I ordered a bunch of plants, focusing on what I read saying java ferns and cryptocorne plants are hardy enough for turtles and require relatively low lighting and no CO2 injection. There are some other plants as well in the package I ordered though. Anubias plants are also supposed to be a good choice. I'll attach the plants to the driftwood, some lava rock, and to the clay substrate as well. Once they take root, it should look really nice.
May 16, 2007
Yesterday I saw that Ellie had a cut on the back of her neck. It looks like a peeled blister, with the skin hanging off in a flap. The flesh underneath was a raw-looking red color. I'm not sure if what the real cause is, but I've noticed that part of her neck rubbing against the edge of her shell, and Shelly also tries to bite her around that area. So I took Ellie out of the tank and put her into the plastic terrarium, and took her to see the vet at VCA Orchard Plaza Animal Hospital this morning.
The vet said it looks okay, and that as long as Ellie has time to heal things should be fine. It will take about three weeks to heal, and she needs to be exposed to enough UV and sunlight and kept warm to help increase her metabolism and rate of healing. She gave me some Betadine (povidone-iodine solution) to apply with a q-tip to the exposed flesh, three times a day, after diluting one drop per mL of water. The medication is there to make sure any bacterial or fungal infection would be killed off.
I have to bring her back to the vet in three weeks for a follow-up appointment.
April 25, 2007
It's been a long time since I've written anything in this category, but that's primarily because nothing much has been happening with the cats or turtles or fish. However, a couple of days ago Luna went with me to Pet Club to get some more cat food and litter. While we were there, we got three Tiger Barbs and a couple of African Cichlids in addition to a couple more snails. So now there are some more fish in the tank again: two cichlids and six tiger barbs. We got one blue cichlid, which has become the dominant fish in the tank, and also a yellow cichlid.
With this addition, I started reading a little bit about keeping live plants in a turtle tank. All the previous times I've added live plants to the tank, the plants were eaten by the turtles. However, I found an interesting article called Planted Turtle Tanks which is very informative. I've since placed an order for some red flourite gravel. I plan to switch out the pebbles currently in the tank for this gravel, and then after things have settled down to introduce some Java Ferns, Anubias barteri (coffeefolia preferably), and Cryptocoryne plants. Possibly some Java moss as well.
October 30, 2006
A Spanish Skeleton
This weekend I spent a lot of time with Shannon. She came over with her mom on Saturday because they needed back the mattress. They don't sleep over anymore because they're all so busy with school and things like that. And they have a guest visiting now so they needed the mattress. We played some more of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and Shannon ate some of the food I cooked even though it has tomatoes.
I took Shannon back home and then slept over that night because we worked on making her a skeleton for her Spanish class today. They do this every year for Día de los Muertos, although Shannon didn't pay attention and didn't know what it was for. We ended up cutting out the basic shapes from styrofoam and sticking them together with the metal wire from inside of twisties.
The rest of the day both Shannon and Yvonne did a lot of studying and homework. I helped Shannon study her Spanish and also a little with her English. But for some reason I was very tired so I took a nap. I think maybe because it was so cold.
July 26, 2006
The past week or two has been extremely hot. It's making national news, and also a little global news as well, because this heat wave has been the hottest California has been in recorded history (which is admitedly a short period of time). Daytime temperatures are consistently hitting 40°C or higher, and nighttime temperatures are still in the high 20°C's. Plus, there's almost no pressure gradient so the air is very still.
At the beginning of the heat wave, I was coming home to 27°C downstairs, and 36°C upstairs. And now the downstairs has been 35°C and upstairs 41°C. Rolling blackouts have started, and today I came home to find my /home disk had suffered corruption most likely from the power outage in extreme heat and I had to reformat and restore from a two-week-old backup.
So during this entire time, I've been basically walking around naked and sitting and sleeping on towels because of the sweat. I'm also making sure to drink a lot of water. Fans aren't helping a whole lot because it's just blowing the hot air around. Sleeping next to the open windows isn't much better than what you'd expect if you slept outside during the day in a normal summer.
I also haven't been able to watch any movies because the projector will simply shutdown to prevent damage due to overheating. So I've been trying to play video games instead to pass the time, although even that's hard to do with such heat. The cats have been lying on the ground with their tummies facing up most of the time.
May 13, 2006
Picking Up Kitties
I drove up to Fremont to pick up the kitties and turtles from Shannon and Yvonne's house the day I got back from Shanghai. They were all doing okay, and Shannon tells me that all of them were feeling more comfortable, although Chie was still hiding a bit when I arrived. Apparently Niea also ate some of the plants Shannon gave her mom and then threw up. Mei-Ling also put the litter box right next to the water and food again, so litter had been kicked into their water and food.
Before leaving, I stayed around and had dinner with them. I also played some of The Adventures of Willy Beamish with Shannon but it seems we are stuck in save game without enough time left to finish successfully. So we started to play The Island of Dr. Brain. Shannon will only play that when I'm there because she doesn't like games that require thinking. :P
On the way home, all of the cats were pretty unhappy to be in the car. I think Chie peed a bunch in the middle between the two front seats, and maybe on some of the trunk-area fabric. I'm not entirely sure where the pee got other than into the area in the middle console where the parking brake is. At least that was easy to clean once I found out that's where it was. For a few days I was driving around with a urine smell though.
May 9, 2006
Two Fish Died
I got home from the airport today to discover that two of my Tiger Barbs had died. Looks like one of them died at least a day ago, and the other one more recent, judging by their decomposition. I had the automatic feeder going, so I'm not really sure why those two fish died. The other five Tiger Barbs are still healthy. It's not that much of a loss, but hopefully the Tiger Barbs will have more babies again.
January 22, 2006
I took the cats to get their vaccinations this year, but this time I went to Pet Club instead of Petco, as Pet Club is closer and the vaccination team is there in the afternoon instead of in the morning.
Chie got really scared, and pooped a little bit while we were waiting in line. Afterwards, on the way home, he was very scared and ended up peeing inside the carrier, just like last year. Only this time it was a lot, and he ended up rolling around in it, so now he smells like pee. I did give him a small shower, which he didn't like of course, and when he jumped out a few more poop pieces came out. Then he climbed under my bed but I didn't want him to get that place all smelling like pee, since he was still wet. I had to flip the bed and pull him out by the scruff of his neck.
He's doing better now, because he knows I'm not trying to hurt him or take him away, but only after I had cornered him to dry him off a little. Unfortunately he still smells like pee right now.
Asuka and Niea handled it very well, and are not scared of me or anything. So I'm glad for that. At least these shots are good for three years, so I don't have to bring them back until January 2009. The organizers also signed me up for feline leukemia shots, but those aren't necessary for indoor cats apparently. The doctor giving the shots had them give me a refund and didn't inject them with that shot.
January 10, 2006
Kitties are Home
Alla picked me up from the airport on Sunday morning, and when I got home I took a nap because I can't sleep on airplanes and so was really tired. Afterwards, I went to Shannon and Yvonne's house to pick up the kitties and turtles. Chie was still hiding under Shannon's bed, but Asuka was coming out more. And Mei-Ling said Chie is the friendliest. Probably because he listened to Buddha's teachings with her one time.
I gave Yvonne her presents: a L'Arc en Ciel CD, three mangas, and a Prince of Tennis chibi keychain. I gave Shannon a Naruto mousepad, Leaf headband, and a magic trick. She and Yvonne really liked the magic trick, but when Shannon tried it on her mom, she didn't trick her.
The kitties and turtles are glad to be home. The turtles can swim around in their tank again, instead of being stuck in the little terrarium with sometimes-dirty water. And all of the kitties are happy and back to their old habits. They slept with me on my bed all next to each other last night.
December 27, 2005
Saying Bye to Kitties
My parents and Dennis left today. My mom insisted on me going to the airport, even though I was supposed to get to Mei-Ling's house at noon and so my car was filled with the cats and turtles and all of their things. So it was a waste of gas and time, and a little dangerous for me to go to the airport. My mom rode in the passenger seat. Once I got to the airport, I just let her out really quick because I did not want to risk the cats escaping at the busy airport, then I left and drove to Mei-Ling's house.
Mei-Ling had cooked a lot of food because she was expecting everyone else to show up, but instead only I did. Arthur and David and their mom came over for lunch. I spent some time setting up the Playstation 2 they borrowed for playing DDR, and then also installed the BenQ DW1610 DVD burner for Yvonne. Turns out this drive does not like all DVD-R media, so later we went to Fry's to try and find a replacement DVD player (they were sold out of the $20 ones) and to buy some DVD+R media. The DVD+R media worked fine.
We later went to Hometown Buffet for dinner because Shannon had a coupon for her to eat free there. I stuffed myself with way too much food.
After dinner I spent a lot of time with the kitties, trying to make Chie and Asuka feel better, and playing with Niea. They were all acting strange. Asuka did not like getting hugged, and was very frightened of something. Chie was hiding as normal, but I managed to get him into Shannon's cave. Niea was acting funny because she seemed way too energetic.
Anyway, I am really missing the cats. This will be the first time I am away from them for so long, and the first time I will be sleeping in my bed without them next to me. When I hear the cabinets close, it reminds me of them. I hope they will be okay while I am gone.
December 25, 2005
Christmas Eve Presents
Since Iris has to leave tomorrow, we opened all our presents tonight. I got a digital camera from my mom and dad, which has 10x optical zoom. That's much better than the current digital camera I have. I also got some clothes from someone. Hsiuli got me fancy bathroom soap. Calvin got me a couple of books and also the Battlestar Galactica SciFi miniseries. Iris and Dennis eventually got me stuff I like: a stuffed Chococat and Batman Begins. Shannon and Yvonne got me the Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi DVD collection.
I got my mom some perfume, my dad some noise cancellation headphones, Hsiuli a picture frame, Spencer a GameBoy Advance game, Calvin the Ghost World comic and Diana Krall's Love Scenes album, Dennis a drumming DVD, and Iris two CDs: Tori Amos' Tales of a Librarian and Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing.
December 20, 2005
Well, the half-pan approach didn't work. For the past day, none of the kitties wanted to poop into the toilet. They peed into it just fine, although I'm not sure if Chie did. This morning, there were a few pieces of poop in the litter area, but someone had pooped a bunch onto the floor next to the toilet. Then, to cover it up, Asuka or Niea knocked over the litter bag onto the poop. So I've gone back to a full-pan.
Half Litter Pan
I'm trying something new now, to see if I can get the kitties to go directly into the toilet. I purchased a square baking pan and folded in one of the edges. So now only the back half of the toilet has a pan and litter in it. The front half is completely open, making it easy for a cat to aim for the hole. Since the back half still has litter, hopefully none of them will look for alternate bathroom locations. I'm also now using World's Best Cat Litter because the cats don't track it as much and it clumps better. It does smell a bit more than Swheat Scoop though.
December 4, 2005
Mei-Ling has finally started using the fireplace, but she bought some of those artificial logs. They are better for the environment, because they're cleaner burning, and also easier to get started than regular wood. But they don't seem to produce much heat at all. Yvonne brought the couch right up to the fireplace stoop, and I was sitting on the stoop itself, and I barely felt any heat hitting me. I think they just don't produce enough heat. And that was what Mei-Ling wanted to use instead of the central heat.
Other than that, I got there earlier than usual. Shannon and I went to Target so she could buy some Pokémon cards again. I told her it would be cheaper and easier to buy the entire EX Delta Species set off eBay, but she didn't want to. We stopped at the bookstore, then got a fruit smoothie, and ended up spending some time at PetSmart looking at the animals.
That night, we went to Hollywood Video to rent The Addams Family. It's a great movie, and I really like Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams. Shannon liked it just as much as the sequel. Their old Apex DVD player wouldn't read the disc though, so I had to hook up their laptop to the TV and use computer speakers. They really need a new DVD player, even though Yvonne doesn't want a new one.
November 25, 2005
Last night Shannon and Yvonne came over to sleep over. Yvonne didn't do much except read. She brought and finished some fantasy book by Mercedes someone, and also The Lost World. She also read my copy of Fight Club. Shannon started reading volume one of Azumanga Daioh.
In the morning, Shannon and I watched Star Wars: Episode III. She hadn't seen it before; Yvonne didn't want to stop reading to watch, even though she hasn't seen it yet. She'll have to watch it some other time. What's interesting is that if you consider President Bush as Emperor Palpatine, the movie takes on a very specific political stance. One which I happen to agree with. We also watched some of the special features, which made Mei-Ling say that she feels bad about watching pirated copies because they do so much work to make the movie.
Shannon went on a hugging rampage with Asuka and Niea. She kept trying to hug them a lot, but was usually holding them wrong so they would wriggle away. Chie kept hiding under the beds, but he did come out last night while I was sleeping, and also again around noon. I took him down so they could pet him, but he got scared and ran away back upstairs to hide inside my bed again.
After we finished watching Star Wars, Shannon and I played some Magic: The Gathering. I beat her with my deck so we swapped, and then she won with my deck. So she started to redo her deck but got annoyed at it because she picked too many cards. She doesn't know how to decide between cards, and always just tries to pick cards that are good without thinking about strategy or cost. That works in simple games like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh but doesn't work in Magic.
While we were doing that, Mei-Ling watched Hero, and Yvonne started to watch with her after she finished reading. Then they left to have Thanksgiving dinner with some people they know.
November 20, 2005
I'm hosting a potluck next month that turned into a Star Trek theme party. So I want to make it as much Star Trek-like as possible. I failed to win any tribbles, tricorders, or phasers off eBay for a reasonable price, and I wasn't able to find any Star Trek items at the mall today. I ended up buying some balloons, paper mache, and furry yarn to make my own tribbles. I'm going to shove them into a cabinet and watch when someone opens it.
I also want to have some sort of costume. I wasn't able to find any uniforms or Vulcan ears or anything like that. I ended up buying some weird RBK (or Reebok) sports clothing that is generic enough that I could pull off a Vger Probe, Binar, or one of those two-color-faced characters that I don't know the name of. Most likely I'll go with Vger Probe, as that doesn't require me to paint my face or wear a strange mask. Technically I should shave my head, but I'll just wear contacts instead.
I didn't realize the clothing was so skintight when I bought them though. So I'll also have to wear the bottom-only bathrobe that I have, over the pants. Still fits the part, although it is white instead of gray. Maybe I can find some gray fabric instead. Might be cheap enough from the fabric store.
July 3, 2005
Two More Baby Tiger Barbs
I discovered two more baby Tiger Barbs in my aquarium tank today. The other two babies are larger now. About three times as large as when I first noticed them. And the new babies are tiny just as before. I wonder if they will keep breeding.
May 27, 2005
Two Baby Tiger Barbs?!
I went to feed the turtles (and indirectly the fish who eat the turtle crumbs) and I think I saw two baby Tiger Barbs! But then they swam into the artificial plant so I'm not entirely sure. I didn't see two after that. One of them was about half the size of the other. It would be cool if there were too of them.
May 26, 2005
Baby Tiger Barb!
When I went down to feed the fish and turtles this morning, I discovered a baby Tiger Barb! It's tiny. Less than 1/2" long. The adults are about 2" long. There's only one that I can see, so I guess the others that may have hatched didn't survive this long. I hope this one will be around for a long time.
April 19, 2005
There's a whole lot of algae in my aquarium right now. I just changed about 40% of the water out, but there's still a lot. Now that's it's all stirred up, if I drag my net around in the tank I can get a lot of gunk really quickly. I need to do something to reduce the amount of algae in my tank. I think more snails, since my two really large ones died. I've also tried increasing the water flow through the tank and into the filter. Unfortunately, I need UV lamps to keep the turtles healthy, which increases algae growth.
April 2, 2005
New Concept Pet Litter Sucks
I wrote earlier about the sawdust cat litter I was going to try, called New Concept. Well, it pretty much sucks. It does not clump at all, meaning it is actually impossible to get the cat urine out of the litter box. Instead, you just have to kind of look for darker areas are dump the whole thing into the toilet. It also doesn't do much in terms of attaching to feces. Pretty much, all it is good for is covering up the feces and smelling like wood chips. The wood chips also attach to the cats very easily, making them carry it all over the place to wherever they lie down.
I cleaned out the aquarium filter and changed about half of the water out. The water was pretty green, although the filter actually wasn't that dirty. Plus, since my two big snails died, the gravel and glass is pretty dirty too. I need to go buy some new snails to start cleaning things up in there.
March 28, 2005
Cat Allergy Medicine
I read an article today of a manufactured molecule that can significantly reduce the production of histamine resulting from cat allergies. The effective duration of the injection has not been tested yet, but this would allow people allergic to cats to coexist with cats. It also promises further allergy treatments.
March 27, 2005
I woke up at 5am to find a strange light coming up from downstairs. At first I thought it was dawning outside, but the light downstairs was much brighter than what was upstairs or coming in through the window. So I went down to check it out and found the front door completely open. I thought maybe Mei-Ling had gone out to the car but then I saw her shoes there. Maybe someone came inside, but most likely the wind blew open the door because it was not shut tight behind. I searched the house for an intruder and found nothing out of place. But Asuka was missing.
I searched the house for Asuka but didn't find her. Mei-Ling woke up so I told her that the front door was open. She came to help me find Asuka. She didn't find Asuka in the house either, so I went outside to look. I didn't see anyone hiding behind the front bushes, so I went back in and put on my sweatpants and jacket then went searching.
I found Asuka hiding underneath the wheelbarrow in the backyard. She seemed very frightened. She would not come to me even though I was holding onto Niea, and bolted back to the front. But when she found the front door closed, she couldn't get in and went over to the neighbor's bushes. I opened the door and let Niea back in and told Mei-Ling to keep the front door open while I tried to get Asuka to run back inside.
I stubbed my toe on a log at my neighbor's house, but eventually found Asuka and got her to run back inside. She ran upstairs to hide under my bed. I got her out and then gave her a bath with the pest-killing shampoo. I wasn't able to shampoo everything, especially since Asuka did not want to take the bath. Then I toweled her dry and she seems better now.
March 21, 2005
R.I.P. Black & White Fishy
On Friday, I discovered that my black & white cichlid had died. It had seemed sick for a while now, with its color fading and a tendency to hide and not eat. I discovered it in the morning when I went to feed the turtles and fish. I couldn't find him, but then I saw a strange shape against the glass in the corner. Wedged down by a piece of driftwood, it had been partially eaten. I also can no longer find the small blue cichlid I recently bought. I won't be buying anymore fish for a while.
March 12, 2005
Sawdust Cat Litter
I went to Pet Club today to buy some more flushable kitty litter. I've been using Swheat Scoop but there was a new product there today called New Concept that is treated sawdust. It costs half the price of Swheat Scoop and there seems to be more of it. I'll give it a try and see how well it works.
March 8, 2005
R.I.P. Blue Fishy #2
Another of my large cichlids died today. I woke up to find it having trouble swimming, and then it turned upside-down. I grabbed it out of the tank right before one of the turtles attacked it, and put it into a quarantine tank with half tank water and half treated tap water. It seemed to be doing better, but I came back from work now to check on it, and it had died. I really wish my fish would stop getting sick. I also can't find the little yellow cichlid anymore.``````
March 6, 2005
One Tiger Barb Dead
One of the new Tiger Barbs got killed last night. I'm not really sure what happened, since it was inside the quarantine net. But there were a lot of fish pieces in a corner of the net this morning. It almost looks like it got attacked while in the corner and didn't escape. I've let the other fish out of the net and into the tank now.
I went to Pet Club today to buy some kitty litter. But I couldn't find any of the large bags of Swheat Scoop. I need to check back soon because I'm almost out. While I was there, I picked up some new fish: three Tiger Barbs, an Electric Blue Cichlid, and an Electric Yellow Cichlid too. They're all tiny, so right now they are staying inside the quarantine net just in case. I hope none of these will die.
March 2, 2005
R.I.P. Yellow Fishy
The Electric Yellow Cichlid is dead. I just went downstairs to check on it and he had died. I flushed it. :_(
Yellow Cichlid Savagely Attacked
I woke up this morning to discover my Electric Yellow Cichlid in an extremely bad condition. I had gotten home really late last night and not fed the turtles because their tank already turned dark. As a result, they attacked my cichlid. He is completely missing his ventral fin, tail fin, and part of his tail. He is still alive but suffering a lot. I've put him in a quarantine net, but I don't think he is going to live. :(
January 30, 2005
They Won't Poop
I switched over to a smaller litter pan in the toilet about a week ago. What I've discovered is that none of the cats will poop with this small pan, even to the extent of holding it in for a few days. Chie also won't pee into it, and I found him peeing on the curtain today (but I caught it in time before it spread). So, for a while at least, I'm going to switch back to the large plastic litter box on top of the toilet. I may try the toilet training product that is for sale at some pet stores. But it is not good for them to be holding in their poop for so long.
January 17, 2005
One Blue Fishy Gone...
Well, one of the two Electric Blue Cichlids is gone. Last night I saw its right eye was cloudy, and I think it may have been because one of the other cichlids attacked it. Apparently cichlids will bite eyes to assert dominance. Anyway, this cichlid then became very listless and wouldn't eat or move very much. This morning it was gone. I would guess the turtles took advantage of the cichlid's weakened state and finished it off.
January 16, 2005
New Blue Fishies and Shrimp
I went to King Aquarium today and got two new Electric Blue Cichlids and also forty Ghost Shrimp. Hopefully these cichlids will not be eaten; they seem more aggressive than the first blue cichlid I got. One of them has an orange dorsal fin. As soon as I put the ghost shrimp in, one got eaten by my Electric Yellow Cichlid and one by a turtle.
January 14, 2005
New Toilet Pan Approach
I'm trying a new approach to encourage the kitties to go directly into the toilet instead of into the litter pan. I cut the pan in half and closed up the side so the pan is now only half the size of the original. This means there is litter on half of the toilet and water on the other half. Hopefully everyone will start going directly into the water.
January 13, 2005
R.I.P Blue Fishy
I woke up today and started feeding the fishes and turtles. But they weren't very hungry. And then I noticed one of the fishes was missing. The Electric Blue Cichlid was no longer swimming around.
It seems that the turtles and fish got hungry last night and decided to eat the blue cichlid, which had just become comfortable in the tank again (the color was bold and bright). I guess I really do need to feed the turtles twice a day to make sure this doesn't happen again. I will go to King Aquarium this weekend to buy a new Electric Blue Cichlid.
January 8, 2005
Urine Kitty Bed
I woke up today to discover the toilet roll inside the toilet litter pan had been knocked over, and all the litter used up or dumped into the toilet bowl. As a result, there were two piles of poop in the bathroom corner, but even worse, someone (I assume Chie) had urinated on the kitty bed again!
I think I will have to get rid of the kitty beds, to avoid this from happening in the future. Unfortunately, that means the cats may urinate somewhere even less convenient such as the carpet or a sofa. So maybe I will just have to keep it around as an emergency backup for when they knock out the toilet pan roll.
The thing is, now the kitty bed smells like urine which may encourage a cat to urinate there again. I think the only reason they may not is because the litter in the toilet is more inviting. However, Asuka was sleeping on the kitty bed recently, and this is weeks after Chie last urinated on it, so maybe after I wash the covering and try to sterilize the filling (cedar chips in a sealed bag, so that is difficult) it won't smell like urine to the cats anymore.
I should move to a larger opening soon.
December 31, 2004
Someone pooped outside the toilet again. It may not have been only Chie this time, because I found two piles. The litter level in the toilet pan got really low, and had already been used up with urine so no one wanted to use it. Had to clean it up and raise the litter level. I have changed over to a larger hole though, which the kitties don't seem to mind. I cut two toilet roll tubes in half and duct taped them together to make a larger hole. And I did see Chie use the toilet today, after I'd cleaned it and raised the litter level. So he will use it, but he's picky.
November 27, 2004
I purchased a black light from Target today, and was able to see the locations where cat urine was on the carpet. I didn't see any on the couches (probably because I laundered the covers), but I did see some splatter around the toilet. So I've ordered Anti-Icky-Poo, a chemical solution designed to eat the organic material left behind by urine. I ordered it from The Cat Doctor Store because they have a combo pack for cheaper.
November 25, 2004
Chie urinated on the couch and my leather jacket today. I can wash the couch cushion cover, but I guess I need to bring my jacket in for a professional cleaning. Dryel did not do any good. I am losing patience with Chie. He just won't learn.
I rubbed his nose in the urine on the cushion and jacket and made him watch Asuka and Niea use the toilet. I also rapped him on the head a couple of times and forced him to watch me put the cushion cover in the washing machine. He did not like being in the garage and started to whine and try to get away, scratching up my right hand. I yelled at him when he did this. When he tried to get onto the bed with me, I kicked him off.
I have grabbed my Megatokyo blankets, the flokati rug, and the pet bed (which he urinated on before, and I just finished cleaning) and put them all out of reach. I do not want there to be anything which would encourage Chie to urinate anywhere except the toilet.
November 21, 2004
Today I installed GFCI outlets for the aquarium and all three bathrooms. GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupt, and these are the outlets you usually see in bathrooms with two buttons on them: test and reset. These outlets are now a code requirement for any location where water is likely to be on the floor or near electrical equipment. e.g. bathrooms, kitchens, garages. When an electrical appliance is attached to a GFCI outlet and falls into water, the circuit is immediately cut off before any harm to a person. It also means if water starts leaking from the aquarium, the electricity will cut out before the fish and turtles are electrocuted. Also likely to help prevent any harm to my cats.
I still need to install some GFCIs in my kitchen, and I'm going to want to install one in another location in the living room. I couldn't install in the kitchen yet because I don't have the correct faceplate for the outlet. The one near the sink is a double duplex outlet. There's also the outlet beneath the sink which the disposal and dishwasher is hooked up to, and the outlet right behind the sink in the sitting area. Unfortunately, it appears all the outlets are currently wired in parallel rather than series, so I can't just put one GFCI outlet in to protect them all. Rewiring would be a lot of trouble.
The other one I want to install in the living room would be for a future aquarium. I would like to get another 55 gallon hex freshwater aquarium. I would be able to put community and schooling fish in there without them being attacked by the turtles or the aggressive tiger barbs and cichlids in the turtle tank. I can use the hexagon mahogany cabinet-table I purchased from the previous owners of my house for the stand. But this will still have to be a long ways off because it will cost several hundred dollars to put together. Plus, I do still want a reef aquarium. Unfortunately, I think a reef aquarium might be a lot of hassle.
November 15, 2004
Litter Pan + Cardboard Tube
Since Chie refuses to use the litter pan in the toilet when there is very little sand, I am trying something new. Instead of just cutting out a hole in the middle, which forces any large amount of litter to fall into the toilet, I have inserted a paper towel cardboard tube into the hole. This allows me to have a hole in the litter pan, but also to maintain a high level of litter. Hopefully Chie will start aiming at the hole.
November 14, 2004
Cutting Down Bubble Noise
I installed an undergravel filter into my aquarium a couple of weeks ago. It has made a difference in keeping my tank clean, as evidenced by the gunk that I've seen come up through the tubes. I've also noticed that when I swirl around the gravel, a lot less black stuff comes out. Unfortunately, the bubbling was a little on the noisy side.
To remedy this, I cut about 1.5" off the tubes (my aquarium is not filled to the top so the turtles have places to dry off and bask) pushing the top of the tubes beneath the water level. This, however, did not do very much to reduce the noise. But, after removing the carbon cartridges from the tubes, noise level decreased dramatically as the air was not being forced through as quickly. Less turbulence. Removing the carbon filters is not so bad, as compared to my canister filter they won't make much difference.
November 10, 2004
Something Fish Sea
Stopped by a new aquarium store after work today: Something Fish Sea near the corner of Monterey Highway and Capital Expressway. It wasn't very impressive. They did have a lot of live rock and some exotic saltwater fish, but their tanks didn't look very healthy. One of the fish was swimming vertically and then upside down. Nothing particularly interesting.
October 30, 2004
Lost Progress in Toilet Training
I came home today to find that Chie had peed on their little bed. The one made out of pine chips to get rid of fleas, and which all three of them always use for napping. This is bad, because cats should never be urinating where they sleep. So I have decided to go back and put the baking pan without any hole back into the toilet bowl. I've once again locked the three of them inside the bathroom with food and water to hope that Chie learns from watching Asuka and Niea.
Asuka and Niea were happy to see the litter come back though. As soon as I put it back into the toilet, both of them pooped into it. It is easy to see that Niea is farther along in the training because she placed three feet on the seat and then cleaned up by pawing at the seat instead of at the sand in the pan. Asuka only put two feet on the seat and then pawed the sand to cover her poop. Chie still seems completely uninterested in using the toilet.
October 26, 2004
Pet Club No Tanks
I visited Pet Club today, hoping that they might sell a 100g tank kit for cheaper. Most of the stuff from there is cheaper, but I wouldn't buy my fish from there because I don't think they take care of their fish as well as dedicated aquarium stores. But I found out they won't order any aquariums larger than 55 gallons.
October 25, 2004
Really Bad Chie
I went home for lunch today and Chie peed on the denim duffel bag on the couch! At least I know Chie is not shy of going to the bathroom anymore. I grabbed Chie and locked him in the bathroom again, showing him again that the poop goes into the toilet. The duffel bag and the cushion covering are in the washer. Now I am trying something more drastic.
I locked Chie, Asuka, and Niea all together in the downstairs bathroom with food and water. I am hoping that Chie will see how Asuka and Niea use the toilet and will also start using the toilet. I think I may need to keep them in there for a long time for this to happen. I hope it will be all right; I don't like punishing Asuka and Niea for Chie's problems. (Although Asuka might also be pooping outside of the toilet still.)
Chie was very bad last night. He peed on my denim duffel bag and I woke up to hear him cleaning up. So I grabbed Chie and shoved his nose into the urine so he knew what I was going to punish him for. Then I locked him inside the downstairs bathroom and showed him that I put the poop in the toilet (I think he also pooped in the corner of the bathroom last night, because I found some and then I showed him that it goes in the toilet).
Chie remained locked inside the downstairs bathroom for four or five hours. He was scratching and trying to get out and sticking his paw and arm out under the door. But eventually he gave up. When I let Chie out, he was glad to get out but at least he was not scared or mad at me. I was able to pick Chie up and talk to him after letting him out of the bathroom.
Asuka and Niea are learning to use the toilet. Chie is the only problem. I am not sure how to get Chie to use the toilet and only the toilet. He is not learning.
Bay Aquarium Kit
I visited Bay Aquarium today, to ask about the 100g tank, stand, and canopy set. This store is run by Vietnamese people so I had some trouble communicating with them, but the person there said I could get the set for $750. The stand and canopy he showed me was not exactly what I am looking for, and I am not sure if he understood I was looking for an oak stand and canopy. If I go back, I will have to ask for pictures. He also said he would have everything in the store next Thursday.
October 23, 2004
Brian's Fish World
I called Brian's Fish World the other day, and got aquarium prices from them. The same tank would be cheaper at $250, but the stand and canopy would be approximately $450 and $250 respectively. The stand and canopy prices are actually slightly less but about the same range as from Bangkok Aquarium. I still have to go visit Bangkok, and I also want to call Bay Aquarium for prices. But right now, my best bet looks like it is a tank from Brian's Fish World and the stand and canopy from King Aquarium. Although I think the stand and canopy I saw at King Aquarium may not be as nice as the ones from Brian's Fish World and Bangkok Aquarium.
October 18, 2004
Finding a Reef Aquarium
I moved my bookshelves on Saturday because I want to setup a saltwater fish and reef aquarium. Unfortunately, King Aquarium is selling their starter package for approx. $800. This includes a 100g 60"x18"x20" glass tank, the tank covers, a stand, and canopy. I was hoping for something closer to a total price of $600.
There is a online company, That Pet Place, that sells a larger Perfecto 60"x18"x26" tank for $210. Adding a stand and canopy of the same price as the starter package above would put the total price at $700. But shipping that Perfecto tank all the way from Lancaster, Pennsylvania would be way expensive. Which could explain why the 100g tank at King Aquarium is so expensive. It doesn't seem right though, as the 75g tank I bought in North Carolina was only $150.
I'm going to look around at more local aquarium stores to see if I can find a better deal. It shouldn't cost so much more for just 25g more of tank space. And I'm going to need to save all the money I can, as I a saltwater reef aquarium is expensive. The fish are more expensive, the live rock is expensive, lighting is more expensive, everything is more expensive.
Toilet Training Progress
The cats have made some progress towards toilet training. Unfortunately, not as much as I would like at this point. I saw Niea sit entirely on the toilet seat to poop. But someone (maybe also Niea) is still pooping outside the toilet on the floor. Seems that maybe the kitties are really picky about how clean the litter is inside the baking pan. I think I need to keep the pan cleaner to ensure they always use it.
Cats are very picky when it comes to doing their business. They always smell the place first, and then paw stuff around to cover up anything yucky. They will clean things up before they go, and then again afterwards. And they don't like going if the place is already yucky. Here is some more info on cat bathroom behavior.
October 14, 2004
Asuka and Niea have accomplished the next step on their toilet training: peeing directly into the toilet bowl. I have seen both of them sit in the baking pan and pee aiming at the hole in the center, urinating directly into the water instead of onto the litter. Also, they are putting their front paws on the toilet seat. You can hear the little tinkle when they are peeing. I have not, unfortunately, seen Chie go to the bathroom because Chie is very shy about it.
October 11, 2004
More New Fish
Szu-Huey and I went to Bangkok Aquarium and King Aquarium today. She bought another male blue guppy (the one she bought yesterday disappeared), a background, strip thermometer, apple snail, chinese shrimp, and fish net. I bought four more tiger barbs, a black african cichlid, fish net, and a new plastic plant.
October 10, 2004
Szu-Huey and I went to King Aquarium today. It's the nicest aquarium store I've seen in San Jose so far. I bought an Electric Yellow Cichlid, an Electric Blue Cichlid, two Tiger Barbs, and twenty-four Ghost Shrimp. I've added these to my turtle aquarium, and everyone seems really happy. I bought twenty-four shrimp because I expect some to get eaten, and a very few to breed.
Szu-Huey bought a 2.5 gallon starter aquarium plus carbon filter, a cheap heater, three Neon Tetras, and three Guppies. The three guppies are male and each is a different color: red, blue, and yellow. So now she has a nice little aquarium next to her bed.
Tomorrow, we're going to go back to the aquarium store and get some more fish. Assuming, of course, that the ones we bought today have acclimated okay. Szu-Huey wants to get a shrimp and a snail. I think she should get a more colorful shrimp because her tank is decorated differently and a ghost shrimp would not be as nice. I think I will get some more tiger barbs because they swim in schools, and adding a few more will make it really nice to see that. Maybe another cichlid to make it more exciting. The Kribensis Cichlid looks nice.
Unfortunately, King Aquarium doesn't carry apple snails or more colorful shrimp. At least, we didn't see any other shrimp there and the employee told us they don't have any snails. So instead we'll go to Bangkok Aquarium, which is also a nice place. I know they have apple snails because I bought mine there, as well as a colorful red shrimp (might be a saltwater shrimp though). I don't know if they have tiger barbs though.
October 9, 2004
Cleaning Turtles & Training Cats
Today, I cycled out some of the turtle aquarium water and also put new filtration stuff in. I bought some Ammo-Carb to replace the old carbon in my Fluval 404 canister filter, and also decided to add an undergravel filtration system.
I needed new carbon because the aquarium had gotten extremely cloudy in the past few days, and smelled really bad. This meant there was a build-up of ammonia because my filter was no longer operating correctly. Hopefully the undergravel filtration system will help keep things from getting yucky in the gravel. The two turtles and four snails are now living in a cleaner, but noisier aquarium. The air pump I bought to power the undergravel system is as noisy as the Fluval 404. But it is nice watching the bubbles go up the tubes.
I also saw for the first time Asuka place her two front paws on the seat of the toilet when using it today. This is the major step towards successful toilet training because that means she will begin to use the seat instead of the baking pan for support. I have not seen Niea do it yet. And unfortunately Chie still prefers to poop on the floor in the corner of the bathroom instead of inside the pan. Despite showing him that's where the poop belongs.
Asuka has also decided to join me when I shower by jumping on top of the shower door and crossing over to the windowsill. Niea is more cautious or frightened at jumping onto the 1" wide door top. But she will do it sometimes.
October 3, 2004
Toilet Training Cats
Today I am again trying to get the cats toilet trained. I don't mean to use the litter box, but to actually poop and pee in the toilet without any litter box or litter. I tried this a while ago, but moved too fast, and ended up with poop and pee in other parts of the house instead of the toilet and litter box. This time, I have gradually been moving the litter box to inside the toilet bowl over the past two or three months. Finally, I have cut a tiny 1" diameter hole in the bottom of the litter box, and put some flush-able litter in the box. Hopefully they will all start aiming directly for the hole and soon I will not have to use any litter at all.
The general idea is to first get your cats used to climbing onto the top of the toilet and to use the litter box. Because you have to eventually put the litter box inside the toilet bowl, I started by switching from their very large plastic litter box to three foil baking pans, reinforcing each other. The kind you would put a turkey into. Then I started putting the pans higher and higher on top of telephone books, until it was toilet seat-height. I used another telephone book as a step up to the litter box. Then I moved the litter box on top of the toilet seat, with the lid opened. Once the cats are used to that, the baking pan litter box is placed inside of the toilet bowl, with the seat closed down on top of it but the lid open. I stayed at this stage for two weeks, to ensure all three of my cats were using the litter box inside the toilet bowl, no matter what. And finally today I cut a 1" diameter hole in the center of the baking pans and surrounded the hole with a thin layer of flush-able litter.
Once I am certain the cats are used to this arrangement, I will begin enlarging the hole until the very end when I completely remove the pans. The idea is that as there is less and less area for the cats to sit on while going to the bathroom, they will move over to sitting on the seat while sticking their butt over the hole. This might take another month or so. And then, the cats will be toilet trained and my house will be litter-free!