Friday, December 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday: Sugar High Edition

--- 1 ---
I don't actually remember taking my pills last night, so this could very well be "7 Quick Takes: Zac's Off His Meds Edition" as well. It occurs to me I haven't done one of these in a while, and I aslo haven't talked much about the Simple Living Challenge lately. As it happens, I'm at a lull in my success with the challenge (there's a shock!), since I've simply been too busy to do the sort of housework that the challenge requires. Last night I basically went to bed as soon as having eaten, and today I really only had a couple of hours, most of which were actually spent soaking in the bathtub and trying to work out which pants I intend to wear to work today, because my usual black corduroys are all written off. Ho hum. Low energy levels seem to be recovering today, so I should be back on track, particularly with a whole weekend to get there.

--- 2 ---
As it turns out, my new Paracheirodons are doing very well with the Betta - there's been no settling-shock this far, everyone's eating happily today, and nobody seems to be attacking each other. I can't wait until they settle down enough that they can interact (more or less) with each other, because right now the tetras pretty much hide in the bottom clearing of the tank, and Mongkut stays hidden up in the Hygrophilla.

The fish tank actually seems to be doing very well for itself lately. That blue box you see down in the bottom left of the image is a Hagen Master Test Kit - a comprehensive set of reagents for evaluating the chemical properties of the water, many of which you only need to know if there's a problem of some sort. I thought it would be helpful to establish a baseline, so I've gone ahead and run all of the tests on the water in the tank right now, and everything seems to be pretty much ideal for these species and those plants.

Having said that, I still have two major concerns - the temperature is anywhere from 8-10 degrees Fahrenheit lower than I should like, and I'm concerned the plants may not be getting enough CO2. I suspect the extra fish will help in the latter case, but for the former, there's really nothing else for it but to get a new heater, which is just as well. I don't think the heater that's in there now has ever worked properly to begin with.

I'm also contemplating growing brine shrimp for live food. I have a spare 5 gallon tank in storage that I could rig up to breed the shrimp in. The eggs can be quite the expense, however, which makes me very reluctant.

--- 3 ---
Lately, I've had to cram on my knowledge of rodents and birds. There's a few good reasons to do that, not the least of which is that I want to be able to sound at least half-way knowledgeable when I'm talking about them with the people who actually work in that department, and with my friends and family who own them. Naturally, rabbits sounded like a good place to start.

It's also becoming crucial, because more and more often I find myself working as a generalist at work rather than being confined to the Fish and Reptile department. Between covering shifts and the way our staffing works, I usually find myself covering the Small Animals department at least two-fifths of the time. It was very helpful that our Small Animals Manager made a list of care sheets for the animals we have in stock and left them mounted in our hospital room.

A hospital room that is growing increasingly busy. With winter approaching, it's becoming clear to me that the way we as an industry ship our animals to individual pet stores could stand to see some improvement. I've got a hospital room that can support about six sick animals at once with about ten in it, right now... lots of whom got here that way. Without a staff vet, there's very little any of us can do for any but the most basic of ailments, but that's not going to stop us from doing it... which is the other reason I've had to bone up on my small animals knowledge.

Being my own veterinarian is nothing new to me as a Fish-keeper  but there's a huge difference between treating ich and anchor worm, and treating abscesses, breaks, and wet tail.

--- 4 ---
In tea news, I can safely say I'm independent on the matter, now that I no longer work for any major tea retailer. I actually find that more enjoyable, because I no longer feel pangs of guilt about trying the odd tea from other retailers, or even about long stretches of not having tea at all.

Having said that, I have been drinking a lot of Teavana's White Ayurvidic Chai with Samurai Chai Mate lately... and when I'm not drinking that in the mornings, I usually have Maharaja Chai Oolong with Cocoa Caramel Sea-Salt at night, which tastes an awful lot like a wintery coffee-cake.

My best purchase while I was working there was actually a Zojirushi 4 Litre water-heater. It's sort of like having a commercial tap-kettle on my kitchen counter, but it uses less power. I use mine for all sorts of things, up to and including making instant soups for lunch or making the occasional cup of hot chocolate.

Why, I've even been known to use them to get water up to boiling for my potatoes or pasta, rather than taking cold tap water and getting it up to a boil on the stove. If it's already sitting there hot, why waste more power heating something up with a less efficient element?

--- 5 ---
Well, I suppose it can't really be avoided any longer - Christmas is quite literally just around the corner. Working in retail, it's hard to remember sometimes - there's no real signs of the impending holiday where I work, apart from the slowly-rising crescendo of business that's been building since early December, and the christmas music we were lucky enough to only just start hearing in the past week. In point of fact, we were specifically asked not to decorate the store for Christmas, something I wholeheartedly approved of - I tend to think that phones, subscriptions, and pets are just about tied for "worst Christmas present". Here, have a bunch of extra responsibilities and expenses! Merry Christmas!

On a more jovial note, I actually get pretty stoked about Christmas, and I still, like a child, have a hard time sleeping on the 24th most years, though I have a feeling that'll be a little different this year. This year happens to be my biggest Christmas ever in terms of my own personal gift-giving, which I'm pretty happy about, to be fair.

After last year, it will be kind of nice to have done something relatively potent for Christmas.
--- 6 ---

As it turns out, I actually hate baby turtles. See, the thing is, I think they're adorable - and so does everyone else. I can't think of a species of turtle, though, that doesn't get at least two feet in diameter. In that respect, they're a lot like fresh-water rays - very attractive pets that should be easier to keep than they actually are.

Building a proper turtle tank isn't easy. A lot of turtle keepers don't realize how much work they are to take care of, to keep properly clean, or just how long they live (and how big they get), and wind up abandoning their pets. Thing is, around here, Red Eared Sliders (the most common pet turtles) are actually an invasive species that can cause genuine ecological damage just by their presence. I'm starting to understand the broad-sweeping bans on turtles as pets which are cropping up around the country.

And I think it's a shame, because just like a lot of other pet animals, there's absolutely no good reason not to keep them, if you're doing it properly. Rather than certifying people, though, it's easier, and cheaper, just to ban them, so here's another little slice of the wild most people younger than me will barely remember when we're in our sixties.
--- 7 ---
I would hate for people to assume that fishkeeping is my only hobby these days, because it really isn't. I'm still fairly active in forum roleplaying, which I've enjoyed ever since I was a preteen, really, as a fun way to escape reality without actually having to be good at anything or take any brain-damaging drugs.

More and more though, I've been getting away from that, in large part due to the fact that I now have a computer powerful enough to play games. As a matter of fact, it's so powerful that I can play even modern games like skyrim and record the results. It follows, therefore, that I started doing (infrequent) Let's Play videos of various games and uploading them to youtube, under the channel Communeguy.

As my skills improve with my video editing software, I've branched out into doing other videos, like tank logs and the suchlike. They're not really ready yet, but look to those in the new year, when I have more time to do things besides work and housework.

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