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Before you think, "Man, there goes Calzephyr talking about bird poo on the Internet AGAIN", let me say - pet allergies!

How would you know if your pet had an allergy?

Would the signs be obvious?

How would you treat it?

Now, here is the bird poo part. When my budgie first had his poopy bum problem, I was trying to introduce Zupreem pellets to them along with Budgie Gourmet (Hagen). They were on their last bag of seed that they came with, Hagen Premium. All good quality bird food.

The bird lady thought his poopy bum was a sign of infection - and yes, it can be! But now I think he was having an allergic reaction to either corn, soy or orange oil in those two brands. Zupreem is also made from soy and corn. Budgie Gourment and Zupreem also have food colouring.

I stopped feeding Zupreem while after the mobile vet visit and when my budgie was in the hospital cage, I fed plain seed because I thought that would be easier on him.

Last week when the bird lady was here, she noticed that he had a poopy bum again (and I had noticed his droppings weren't great). I was so upset - not again!

But here's the thing - I realized that if my budgie was allergic to Baytril, he could be allergic to other things. Plus the other budgies all had perfect poop. I dumped all their food cups, washed them thoroughly and have been feeding the plain seed for the past few days. His poop has turned around 100%.

This second time around, it also LOOKED like he was having allergies. He was constantly rubbing his head, scratching a lot despite not molting and working his beak. I can't remember if he was doing this in August because I was so preoccupied with some family matters.

Whew! So I could have saved my budgie and myself a lot of suffering and a huge chunk of change for a $4 bag of birdseed :/ CRAZY.
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I bought myself an Ultra Punch Needle for my birthday and even then I only bought it because my husband was dragging me along everywhere last weekend to find a very specific kitchen timer. I ended up ordering it on Amazon when the spectre of Wal-Mart was raised.

"Nooooo, my time is worth more than going to the Marlborough Wal-Mart!" I declared and whipped out my phone. The timer didn't cost enough to earn free shipping, so I tacked the punch needle on to it. I'm not even sure where I got the idea for such a thing - probably Pinterest!

Now, I don't need another hobby or craft. I have plenty! But I was curious as to how it worked and if it was a dud, I would just find a new home for it. It's just a plastic tube with a spring and a needle, kind of like a clicky pen.

I found some old evenweave fabric and an embroidery hoop (I need to get a smaller one) and practiced the mantra that the instruction manual preached - punch, lift, slide. If this sounds suspiciously easy...it is. It did take me a few tries to get the hang of it though. I had better results when I went slow because I kept turning the needle the wrong way. Holding it incorrectly affects the way stitches are made and I found it took a bit of concentration for me. Maybe this weekend I can trace out a pattern and actually make something worth showing off!
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Wow, I have not read a series of blog entries so breathlessly in my life. It reminds me of LJ back in the day and the author is very compelling. She sounds like someone we all know and perhaps that is part of the appeal of the story. It also speaks to some bizarre casual bullying that went on that was couched in positivity culture.

Basically, Younique is a newish cosmetic MLM. I don't know much about it except that I bought a pair of tweezers from a friend's party because I don't use cosmetics at all (it's a pretty awesome pair of tweezers as far as tweezers go, I must say). There are shady MLMs and legit ones - but truly they are made by the people that make up the teams. I joined one of the more legit ones for the discount and OMG could not imagine doing any of this to my friends and family.

But they, it's not my story, it's Elle Beau's.
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I finally got into my current project after crossing off piecemeal tasks night after night. I'm making some miniature Christmas ornaments for my co-workers. I have about 50 to make. Last year I made bells on my Pazzles die cutter, stamped them and handed them out with Hershey's Kisses. Apparently I felt the need to go 20% cooler this year, but the idea was so stuck in my mind!

Here's the prep work I had to do:

  • Design a light brown oval fill in CorelDraw and print six copies on vanilla cardstock

  • Realize after printing the first two pages that I should have also designed a greeting for the back!

  • Die cut each oval with a stitched shape die from Stampin' Up

  • Grumble about having to hand write "Happy Holidays from Christine" on the backs of 24 of them

  • Punch a hole in each one for gold thread

  • Print six copies of a cardinal illustration on pink cardstock

  • Fiddle all afternoon with my Pazzles to make a cut file because I'm not cutting out 50 birds!

  • Watch the first half of season 7 of The Vampire Diaries while die cutting branches, acorns, leaves and other things

  • Watch the second half of season 7 of The Vampire Diaries while gluing cardinals and naturals elements together


Whew!! One of my co-workers still has a bell in their cubicle, so I hope these are very much appreciated! Stay tuned for pictures and things :-)
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(contains minor spoilers)

It says a lot when we watched a 40 year old movie than any of Hollywood’s current offerings over the Labour Day weekend, but then there were also less than a dozen people in the theatre who also felt the same way! This summer felt really lacklustre for movies for us. I just happened to see that CE3K was playing when I looked up show times for The Sound of Music. It's a puzzler how both of us haven't watched it given that it's as old as I am. My husband had watched the ending and of course here and there we saw the iconic scenes. The theatre edition was the 135 minute Director’s Cut and it had apparently been remastered for 4K screens. It looked very, very good and the sound was top notch. I understand that the ending is slightly different from the original ending - but YouTube was of no help in finding a clip. There are plenty of joke "original" endings though!

I was really surprised by what an optimistic movie it was for a 70s production. Other 70s movies tend to be full of grit and disillusionment like Chinatown and The Godfather. It would actually be hard to call CE3K a movie about aliens, because it's more about the persistence of human struggle. In a way, I think it's a good representation of the artist's journey - this struggle to make an intangible idea real and overcoming the obstacles necessary to achieve that goal. Main character Roy Neary's constant dreams and thoughts about the aliens/Devil's Tower brings him into conflict with his work, his family and himself.

The ending surprised me a little and not just because aliens are not usually greeted with wonder and curiosity in movies. Roy had some affection for his family and to just leave without a second thought made the ending feel unresolved to me. Still, it's a minor quibble in an otherwise almost flawless film.

THX1138

Sep. 15th, 2017 09:23 pm
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LOL, I have never had a movie going experience so botched as what happened last Sunday. When I told my husband about it, he laughed and it made me feel good because my instincts were so right on. Landmark Cinemas is airing classic science fiction films to prepare for the release of Blade Runner 2049 and this past weekend it was THX1138 (this weekend it's Westworld). I had watched the movie before, but I wanted to see it on the big screen. It was only $5, what a deal! I couldn’t roll hubs out of bed though for it, so I went by myself. Landmark Cinemas is really nice, some of the theatres used to be Cineplexes and were woefully out of date. They got rid of the 90s styling and replaced the regular seatingwith recliner seats, ahhh!

Well, Sunday morning I was in for a total treat because I was the only audience member. I picked the best centre seat and munched away on my popcorn. I guess THX1138 isn’t that big of a draw. Let me say - the future may be bad, but at least it’s not THX1138 bad! Another woman showed up and I thought that was cool - two chicks who dig science fiction, yeah!

The movie started and it quickly became apparent that it was being played from a DVD and someone had left the commentary track on! At first I thought it was similar to the CE3K showing where there was some preamble, but nope. The usher came in and explained the problem and that the movie would be reset. After a few minutes of watching the film again, the other woman left, came back and told me we were in the wrong theatre.

“But my ticket said 11...” I said. Regardless, thinking that perhaps they were showing it in more than one theatre, I followed her out into theatre 12...where I realized that a completely different movie was playing. So I scooted back and finally settled in again to watch the movie. It was sweet - I could be that annoying person with their phone during the movie! Oh, and because it was so botched, the usher gave me a free admission coupon and I didn't have to complain!

We watched THX1138 some time ago and I noticed that there isn't a previous entry for it. It's possible we watched it on our old CRT so it may have been in pan and scan. On the big screen I noticed a ton of details that went by me before. On the other hand, there were some details that I simply noticed because ten years of art college gives you the language to talk about pacing, empty spaces, shadows, etc. etc. One glaring thing I notice was when THX meets the self-described hologram SRT. For a hologram, SRT is pretty tangible. He's hungry and feels emotions. In the world of THX1138, people of colour seem to exist as entertainers. I can't help but think that SRT's lack of self-realization is a slight commentary of the times in which is was produced. And speaking of those times, it still has a futuristic touch that seems rather ageless.

I don't think the future could ever look like THX1138 and it's sad to think that the past had such a morose version of the future. Perhaps in 1971 they just didn't have the understanding, descriptive language or knowledge to paint a brighter picture.
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We have been watching a lot of movies lately, but two were definitely thumbs down.

First up is Chappie which I bailed on this afternoon after 20 minutes or so. It's just insufferably bad and boring. "You can finish it on your own," I said to my husband, cuz I have better things to do with two hours than sit through this terrible movie. I loved District 9 so much but Neill Blomkamp's follow up movies are just not as good. Even his short films available online aren't fully realized stories and perhaps that the problem with Chappie. It has all the right ingredients - an interesting premise, star power and a cool looking robot - but it just fell horribly flat with me. Robocop it's not.

Valerian left me so woefully confused afterwards and I know I'm not the only one. Maybe it's because the only Luc Besson movie I have watched is The Fifth Element and expected something in the same vein. Valerian was an extremely beautiful movie but another confusing mess. Valerian and Laureline are supposed to be top agents, but they look and act like bickering, inept teenagers. It's hard to believe that they love each other because the acting is so wooden. Again, another interesting story idea and gorgeous visuals, but little star power. We couldn't figure out what the point of the movie was supposed to be at all.
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Death by Meeting is a surprisingly corny yet compelling book on how to run more effective meetings. It’s a business book couched in a terribly written narrative and yet I fell for one of the book’s premises - that an engaging story will keep readers hooked.

The TL;DR version of the book is basically - instead of having a long two hour weekly meeting, break it up into different meetings by type, such as a daily scrum, weekly tactical, monthly strategic and quarterly offsite meetings.

But, as you can imagine, doling out that piece of advice isn’t very profitable, so author Patrick Lencioni disguises it as the story of a fictional gaming software company that needs to shake up their meetings after they are acquired by a larger gaming software company. The villain of the story is one JT Harrison, who never says much but strikes fear into the heart of Casey, the founder of the smaller company. To the rescue is his good friend’s son Will. With Will’s guidance, the supporting cast of business unit managers change the corporate culture to impress JT Harrison and thwart any plans to fully absorb the company. If this sounds all incredibly dumb, it is. I read the short chapters (some are just two pages) right to the end, all to find out if Casey and Will can save the day. There’s a twist to the ending, which one might guess because...

Will’s educational and work background is in advertising, marketing and filmmaking. He happens to become employed at Casey’s company because he needs a break from school. Surprise! A maternity leave presents the perfect opportunity. Will uses his savvy to observe the terrible weekly meetings and institute change.

The corniness of this book made me roll my eyes so much that I thought they would fall out of my head! I used to work in web development and I don’t feel the portrayal of the software company to be very unrealistic. A company where everyone gets along so perfectly that they have to create conflict? Where they accept an outsider’s suggestions so easily? Haha, hahahaha! Truly, the fictional software company, Yip, is a figment of Hollywood imagination much like those perfectly beautiful homes in movies. But, I do have to give Patrick Leoncioni credit for creativity and trying to make a buck at it! The sticker on this book was $26.99 Canadian.

Oddly enough, the most offensive thing about the book is making light of Will's mental health issues - it seemed odd that it was included at all. For example, he goes off his medication and it's during that period that he can tell his boss that the company meetings suck, then he promises to go back on his medication. It really sounded like Will's criticism had to be justified somehow? I'm not really sure what the point of that was.

If you are looking for a practical book on leadership and organizational culture, this is not it. I imagine a fair number of readers would consider the book a complete waste of time for the little amount of information it contains.

x-posted to [community profile] book_love 
calzephyr: (Default)
Gulls are really quite populous here in Alberta, a landlocked province in Canada. I enjoy them a lot :-) Here's a senior food inspector on patrol!

Food inspector on patrol! #bird #birds #gull #gulls #urbannature #urbanwildlife #nobody #profile #seagull #seagulls #nature #wildlife

calzephyr: (Default)
Aw, some sad news. On Disco's FB page it was revealed that he passed away back in January. If you haven't watched Disco's delightful videos, check them out.
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I could also see the Blade Runner sequel too, I suppose.
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I was so afraid that we would miss Wonder Woman in theatres because we have been missing so many movies in theatres lately! I grew up on Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, so I understand all the anxiety around this movie. It’s one of those characters/movies that everyone hopes will be desperately done right instead of being an embarrassing pile of boobs and tropes. Personally I was worried that Diana and her Amazon friends would have terrible accents - you know, the kind that is your cue to laugh at the funny foreign folk. The cringeworthy moments never happened, to my relief. I knew right from the outset that Gal Godot was perfect for the role after watching her in Fast & Furious. She played Diana with great passion, intelligence, strength and compassion. Us Mediterranean people are pretty passionate and I felt like I was watching my 18 year old self on the screen (albeit more souped up). Slay all the injustices!!!

It was so action packed but I wish that more attention had been paid to the CGI. The distance shots of Themyscira looked fake and oversharpened. Once the action moved over to Europe everything was kind of desaturated. When you're used to the colourful world of Marvel, the weirdly coloured DC world is a letdown. The plot could have been less simple - maybe it was because it was an origin movie - but to dwell on that would be to overlook all the positives packed into the movie. Personally, it was a huge deal to me that Diana is a brunette. We're so overlooked ;-) She wears her costume for her and she was never displayed as anything but the athletic warrior princess she is. Come to think of it, all the Amazons, and I believe many of the background ones were real athletes, were such a refreshing change from the usual. Here were realistic looking women that looked solid and not flimsy.

I was a little bummed by the ending. I really thought it would have a different outocme.

I'm looking forward to Justice League now. I'm not a DC fan at all, but the right movie might change my mind.
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I think I have a posting routine figured out - if I post here and crosspost to LJ, then I can back it up with LJ Archive. But since DW forked off before a lot of LJ improvements were made, it's not so easy to add an Instagram!

I had to wait a while for my husband to pick me up, so I used just about every filter on every graphics program I had on my phone!

Birb! #weird #budgies #mirrorimage #picsaypro #rainbow #birds #budgerigar #parakeet #birb #cosmic #wellensittich #budgerigars #bored #overdone #mirrorimages #mirrorgram
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Werewolf Tycoon is one of the silliest games I have played, but that's not saying much with how little opportunity I have to play games anymore! It's available for Android and iPhone and I only found out about it because of a bunch of tweets someone retweeted about fake game names. Someone pointed out that yes, Werewolf Tycoon did exist and of course I had to try it.

The game is simple to play and easy to master - eat the humans, don't let reporters take your photo and rack up boosts from briefcases. There's so much to like about Werewolf Tycoon from it's goofy music to it's retro style graphics, but it doesn't have a lot of long term playability or challenge once you've mastered it. The best part is all the jokey things in it, from bringing down a UFO to the newspaper headlines. But, once you exhaust those, there isn't much else to do.
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 I had the creepiest dream about an organ donation scheme a few days ago. It was one of those movie-length dreams where everything happened so effortlessly and seemed very true to life's, if by true to life I mean that the hair salon that just closed behind our house turned into a boutique craft store. It was more like a jewellery store with large glass display cases and spotlights. I made friends with the proprietor, a woman in an orange and black flowered dress who was a Hutterite or Mennonite. We talked about crafts and then we went out to get lunch at McDonalds, also in the same strip mall. 
 
Afterwards, we went to another store that looked like a Home Depot for pets. She had to go back to work, but I continued to walk around the store and soon discovered that it was a for-profit organ donation warehouse. The walls were light green and grey and the front of the store had big windows at the front. You lined up and checked out with your organ, picked from a shelf. All the staff had red and black polo shirts and were kind of tough looking! 
 
What did I buy? I bought a heart and some brain cells! I paid for my purchase, which was put in a paper bag. As I was sitting there I looked out the window and someone sitting at the bus stop in the distance dropped their organ. It rolled out of the paper bag and fell on the ground! 
 
When I looked away from the window, my bag was gone and the person next to me was talking to his mother. He was assuring her that he could pay his bills this month. I guess people who were there to donate organs went into a separate line. He was going to sell his organs and pay his debts. 
 
The staff had a switch over - new staff burst through the door and one had a guard dog on a short leash. I asked the man where my bag was and at first he said that he didn't know. 
 
I said something like "I paid a lot of money!" 
 
Then he admitted that my purchase had been docked the heart, but offered no further explanation.
 
The only reason I remember so much is that I woke up to go pee. Naturally I couldn't get back to sleep easily after that, so I wrote the details down on my phone and went for an early morning walk! 

Riverdale

Jun. 7th, 2017 12:47 pm
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I watched Riverdale in April because it came highly recommended by my friend. I was so unimpressed after the first episode. It was a weird blend of the Twilight movies in style and Twin Peaks in story. The acting was also really really bad! Maybe it was the cognitive dissonance of a gritty reboot of squeaky clean Archie - really! Is nothing sacred? - but eventually the plot and Riverdale's dirty secrets drew me in along with the conspiracy theories. The acting also did get better after the first few episodes.

I think the show did a good job of getting down to the gap between the worlds of teenagers and adults and did so in a very contemporary way whether it's that Betty takes ADHD medication or that Jughead comes from a broken home. It's not an adult's version of high school which a lot of youth oriented shows seem to resemble. Just that there is a diverse cast is amazing in itself!
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So saying no to one thing means saying yes to another thing. If I was still going to Creative Chaos, I would not have been able to go to Festival of Quilts this past weekend. We didn't go in 2016 due to rain - last summer was very rainy overall. It was unusually hot for May and I ended up with a sunburn from walking around the park with Mom and my brother. It really was a picture perfect day and I took lots of pictures. I'll get those on Flickr in a bit.

One of the awesome things about the show is bring able to see the fabric in natural light and they looked quite gay, giving everything a touch of whimsy. I managed to avoid buying any new fabric although it was very tempting. So many colours...pretty pretty colours...but I had enough at home :D

We didn't go inside the historic houses as we usually do. All the buildings - even the barns - are hot as heck. I often wonder what people did in Ye Olde Days to keep cool!

Click for Insta snaps )
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I have been prepping for another craft show and it involved a lot of mundane stuff - labelling cards, packaging cards, sealing card envelopes, etc etc. One can only watch so much of The Vampire Diaries and 80s cartoons on Netflix before you just want something different and I was so intrigued to see Spirit Riding Free pop up. If you haven't watched it, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a 2002 feature length animated movie starring Matt Damon as Spirit. I think it's one of the few movies to feature horses...there might be an animated Black Beauty somewhere, but if there is, I haven't watched it. There is very little connection to the movie other than it is set in the West, has a horse named Spirit and...yeah, that's about it. The reaction to the series has been quite passionate - my favourite was a FB comment that went something like "Young girls shouldn't fantasize about riding stallions" to folks posting long YT rants. It would be nice if they did make a sequel to Spirit, but I'm not sure how it could be done since movie Spirit's story is more or less complete.

I whipped through all six available episodes. My first instinct was that the animation looked really bad and cheap, but Aunt Cora won me over with her line "Why is everybody hugging? I haven't finished yelling yet!" in the first few minutes. The series starts out with Fortuna - Lucky to her friends and family - returning to the town where her father and mother met. Lucky's mother died somehow and the only clue we get is that she was a circus performer or trick rider. Eventually the animation grew on me because there were moments where it came across as beautiful. I think the lighting might be inconsistent.

Lucky soon makes friends with Pru and Abigail as she learns to ride a horse and adapt her city ways to country life. Although the stories aren't too in-depth, they are adventure packed and isn't just for girls. I laughed a lot, especially episode 6 where the girls plan a surprise party for Pru and it all goes sideways. I think it's exciting that there's a diverse cast too! Abigail is my favourite character because she's so sweet and innocent and tries to be a peacekeeper, but she's no doormat either. I'm looking forward to more of this series and maybe will pick up a toy or two.

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