Archive for March, 2012

My cat is a dog

Posted: March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

by Rachel Forde

I had a scare a couple of weeks ago.  One of my two cats, Isabella (“Izzy”) got very ill, and had to go to the vet.  Two hectic bus rides, six hours, and $600 later, Izzy was back home and recovering, aided by the skilled vets who treated her, but also by the 15mgs of Buprenex they sent her home with.

Those of you who came over from Kindle boards might recognize Izzy.

“I don't care that you rescued me from freezing to death. I own this chair.”

Of the many cat avatars, she is the one trying to steal a pinecone from my Christmas tree.  She originally belonged to my sister, who was given a sickly, ginger-colored barn kitten by her delightfully rural in-laws, with assurances of “hell yeah, she’s six weeks old.”  After about five minutes of observation, we thought it best to get a second opinion, and the vet informed us that she was half that age.  My sister attempted to bring Izzy back to the mother, only to learn that the litter had been rejected and all of Izzy’s brothers and sisters had frozen to death in the cold, November night.  Thus, we stocked up on canned kitten milk and eyedroppers, and Izzy became a part of our family.

Regarding her sickness, as it turns out, she had something called cystitis, which is something cats get when they’re anxious or depressed.  I had no idea she was depressed—it’s not like she was spending her days sitting around in skinny jeans and black eyeliner and listening to the Cure, after all.

One of the ways to reduce stress in cats is regular play and stimulation, but toys cost money, and I’ve never been able to keep Izzy’s interest in any toy, paper bag or cardboard box beyond three days.  So what do I do?  I’m both a starving artist and a poor college student—that’s, like, double poverty points.  And let’s not forget I just threw down $600 on a cat who couldn’t pee.  Izzy was a fat little thing and needed exercise beyond chasing a feather on a stick.

After some scrounging, I came up with a novel solution:

“I am a cat, and you just put a walking harness on me. Just how do you expect to be taken seriously?”

She took to it rather well, actually.  Clearly she enjoys the exercise, and since I’m there to keep her away from cars, and fight off any dogs, dive-bombing blue jays, or sociopathic children, she can get all the benefits of being an outside cat without the risks.  Of course, Izzy is a weird cat who does dog-like things.  She’s the eighth cat I’ve owned, and the only one who ever seemed to grasped the concept of “walkies.”

“Yeah, I probably shouldn't have sniffed that. Uffda!”


There are many resources online for learning how to leash-train your cat.  I can’t help you myself; Izzy never needed leash-trained, because she’s awesome.  In summary of this very long blog post, here are pictures of my cat on a leash, because we all know that the internet needs more pictures of cats.

by Ras Ashcroft

Outside of writing, I love trying out new entrepreneurial ideas.
About two years ago, I graduated from University and had a couple of months to spare before starting a job in the family business. Having read about a young man from Scotland called Fraser Doherty who had made a fortune in selling healthier jams, I decided to set up and run a part-time food business project of my own. My cooking prowess didn’t extend beyond ‘making burnt toast and dry oatmeal’ but a foray into the food industry sounded like fun!

I started with a trip to the local supermarket to pick an ideal product. Inspired by Fraser, my plan was to choose one food item and make the recipe healthier. After an hour of wandering through the aisles without a shopping cart and attracting a few quizzical glances from the security guard, I left with a small list of candidates. This was my list:

Smoothies
Pasta Sauces
Cookies

Yeah I told you it was a small list.

I initially tried making banana smoothies and using whey protein powders to make a nutritionally packed drink, but I could tell from the look on my sister’s face when she tried a sip that I would have to go back to the drawing board. I picked cookies next, quite simply because we didn’t have any snacks lying about the house at the time. I quickly tinkered with a standard Oatmeal Raisin recipe to use Honey and Canola & Palm Fruit Oil instead of sugar and butter, and stuck the first batch in the oven.

The result wasn’t perfect, but there was definitely something there! I spent the next two weeks working on my baking skills and the end result was a soft, golden brown cookie that tasted pretty damn good (I’m a modest person, I swear). It didn’t have the thick quality of traditional cookies because of the lack of butter and sugar, but I was planning to use the ‘healthier’ aspect to sell them. I ran a taste test at the town community centre and was delighted with the response, with some people comparing them to ‘Christmas Cookies’.

It was time to start selling.

After food safety training and paperwork, I baked a large batch and set up shop one Saturday at a local street market. Christ it was disastrous. Cookies with uneven ingredients in cheap plastic Tupperware, hand-written pricing signs and a crude stand – it’s no surprise that I only sold a total of 4 cookies for 50p each.
Luckily, my dejection only lasted a day. Over the next 2 months, I worked on the business while continuing to sell at street markets. I created two new recipes for ‘Dark Chocolate Melt’ and ‘Sweet Almond’ Cookies and made a system for efficiently churning them out with perfectly measured ingredients. I also created a brand name called ‘Wild Oven’ and applied it to my clothing, the stall, a banner, food-safe packaging and all my carefully designed pricing material. I used samples and a tiny oven at the stall to create an aroma and lure customers in.

The final result? On my last market day, I sold out my entire stock! I was exhausted from baking all night and selling all day, but also ecstatic. I wanted to start introducing my cookies to local shops and cafes and even got an interested party, but my job was starting soon and I had to put the project aside. Still, it was a memorable couple of months and it only increased my love for trying out new and interesting business projects. In fact, I have recently started a money transfer business, so let’s see how that goes!

***

Ras Ashcroft has released ‘Supervillain: The Concise Guide’ which is a humorous parody guide on world domination. Please note that during the course of this particular venture, he didn’t use any of the seedier advice given in this book to try and make it to the top of the cookie pile.

Supervillain: The Concise Guide
http://www.amazon.com/Supervillain-The-Concise-Guide-ebook/dp/B0076ZZCIC