Thursday, 23 July 2015

Anipal Times

One of the things I'm thankful for is my job as the Social Events Correspondent for the Anipal Times. It's terrific fun, especially as I get to go to lots of cool events and make a lot of great new friends!

If you're not a regular AT reader I can tell you that the paper's a good read, with useful information, product recall notices, Anipal Shops, cartoons and a lot of other features as well as a weekly account of the (usually riotous!) social events of the week

Recently some anipals have asked me why their social event didn't get a write-up in the AT. That's a real shame, as all of us at AT love to give events the best publicity we can, but we really need the organizers to work with us to help us to do that so I thought it might be useful to explain what an event organizer needs to do if they want their event to make the news.

  • First, and most importantly - tell me that it's happening! I can't report on an event that isn't scheduled, and it doesn't make the schedule unless I know about it. Just like an off-line newspaper, AT doesn't go out looking for a wedding or a pawty to report on. We're all volunteers on the paper, and we simply don't have time for that. So, the first step in getting your event a mention is to... 

  • Put it on the Calendar. The Events Calendar is run by AT and curated by the Social Events Correspondent, so you need to check out the Calendar and choose a date and time for your event. Please note, you normally can't schedule an event on the Calendar if the time-slot is already booked. On very rare occasions that might work for two events that are completely different in nature and clearly wouldn't attract the same audience, but in general the rule is that if someone else has booked the date it's theirs. There's nothing to stop you going ahead with your event anyway, of course, but it won't be on the Calendar, appear in AT Upcoming Events or be written about in AT afterwards. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but experience has shown that competing events lead to bad feeling between the organizers, especially if the one already booked is a charity fundraiser, and AT isn't going to be caught in the middle of the fall-out. It's strictly "first come, first served", so if a particular date is important to you it's a good idea to book it early, before someone else does! Please also make sure you let me know at least the approximate time you plan for your event to happen. I've sometimes had an organizer ask me to reserve a full Saturday because they haven't yet decided on the best time to start a pawty that's intended to last 3 hours. That is just not fair to others who might be planning an event for earlier in the day or later in the evening, and it isn't going to happen. 

  • When you've decided on your date and time, your next step is to email me at shaynacatATanipaltimesDOTcom, or DM me on Twitter at @ShaynaCat. Simply tweeting me is not reliable. I love getting as many tweets as I do, but I have so much incoming that I can't guarantee to see them all. Also, it's important that you let me know at least two weeks ahead of the event, if possible. I try to fit in late notifications if I can, but it doesn't always work. Like any other newspaper AT has set times for editing and publication and can only include the information that's available at the time. There have been occasions when someone has been disappointed that an event has not been previewed or reported on after they'd notified me within a week of when it was intended to take place and my article had already been submitted. That disappoints me too, because I know how much work goes into these occasions, but the Pawties and Events column does end every week with a reminder of how and when to get the details to me, and there really is a reason why that's necessary. 
  • Please include some details of your event. The things I need to know are the event's name and hashtag, date and time you want to reserve on the Calendar, the Twitter name(s) of the organizer(s), what the event is about (e.g. an engagement, a wedding, a pawty, a fundraiser, etc), and a link to a blog post, Tweetvite or whatever else you're using to publicize the event. I'll also need a picture, but assuming that there is one at the link you give me I can normally use that. Please note there does have to be a site or page of some kind for AT to link back to, though!  
  • If there's any change in the arrangements, please let me know as soon as possible so I can at least amend the Calendar. It doesn't often happen, but it's a bit embarrassing if something is called off and people are asking me what happened to it! :D 

Once you've done all that, here's what you can expect:- 

  • A mention in the Events Calendar, showing date, time, hashtag, link and organizer(s) of the event. The Calendar has the facility for anyone with a Google account to click on the event and have it added to their own Calendar automatically, so it really is quite useful; 
  • A mention in the Upcoming Events section of the weekly AT Pawties and Events page, also showing the above information and including a picture and a link direct to the event's page;  
  • Promotional tweets about the Pawties and Events page, which will help to publicize your upcoming event; and  
  • A write-up of your event in the Pawties and Events page. That's usually in the edition that comes out on the Tuesday following your event, but sometimes if it's been a very busy week some events may be held over till the following week. Usually the earliest events get written about first, but just occasionally if one has a lot of detail that deserves a bit more time than is available that week it will be held over so that I can do it justice next time. In no circumstances is there ever any favouritism involved - writing and editorial decisions are always made in what's believed to be the best interests of all concerned. 

Everyone at AT wants to help you make the most of your event, because not only do we want you to have a great and memorable time but we also want to inform and entertain our readers. That means you can be sure we'll do our utmost to give your event the showcase it deserves, so we really hope you'll understand how important it is that you take the steps I've outlined so that you can help us to help you to do that. 
Happy organizing!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Calling All Kitties: How To Be A Cat Scout!

I got into a new adventure last night - I discovered Cat Scouts

I followed a link from the #ThankfulThursday Blog Hop, and next thing I knew I was talking to some very interesting cats indeed. They're very much like human Scouts, except way cooler, of course. They have a Cat Scout Law, and a Pawbook, and lots of Merit Badges you can win. They do a lot of service to the community, both on- and off-line, but in case that sounds too serious I can assure you they have plenty of fun, too, with pawties and adventures and trips to all sorts of pawesome places. There's a Sea Cat adventure happening tomorrow, for example, and a trip to the Grand Canyon due to take place shortly. Oh, and you can win badges for taking an interest in astronomy and botany and all kinds of fascinating things! 

You start off as a Tenderpaw, and after a while you do a test about your knowledge of the Cat Scout Law. If you pass you get to be a Bobcat, and that sounds exciting! The first Merit Badge is for Friendship, and it's easy to win - you just introduce yourself around the Campfire and tell everyone what kind of noms you most enjoy on an adventure. You get to wear a very snazzy uniform (I'm being fitted for mine shortly!), and I'm very proud to be one of the Worldwide Wildcats Troop and a member of the Wolverine Patrol. 

I'll report back in due course on how the Sea Cat adventure goes, but better yet, why not come and check it out yourself? I'm sure that you'll enjoy it!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Thankful Thursday - For All Who Work At #NipClub

One of NipClub's first DJs:
Club Manager
This #ThankfulThursday I want to give a huge meow-out to all the anipals who work at NipClub, the online nightclub which does double duty as an entertainment for anipals and also as a fundraiser for small no-kill rescues and animal shelters. Most of our customers very understandably have no idea at all of how much work goes on behind the scenes as well on the timeline, but the fact it takes me around 30 minutes at the end of every weekend pawty to post my thanks to all of them should make the point - especially as I generally thank around 6 pals in each one of those tweets! And apart from those who do their work in public and whose names you recognise even THAT is generally limited to the leaders of the teams who work so hard and loyally behind the scenes, 'cos if I listed absolutely everyone who helps I'd need to start mid-morning with some hours still to go. 

High paws to pals:
joint NipClub Manager
You probably know a lot of our front-of-house folks already - our DJs, Barktenders, Quizzers and Sekurity staff work right where you can see and interact with them. They'd be the first to admit, though, that they're actually just the tip of NipClub's iceberg, and hard though they work the club would not be running long without our back-room folks. 

We have pals who think up themes, devise the entertainments, vet suggested charities to make sure they meet the club's criteria, co-ordinate and schedule the shifts for all the club staff that you see online, produce the pawesome graphics, update the blogs, source prizes, and work each day and every day to publicize events and make sure patrons know what's going on at NipClub... and the best of all is, they are great fun, enthusiastic and a total joy to work with!

So, on behalf of all the charities that NipClub helps, and all the anipals we entertain, I'm very thankful for the great team that I have the honor to be leader of. 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

NipClub Gatecrasher Alert

I've heard some hashtags have been having problems today with norty ladies and other uninvited guests, so it seems like a good idea to mention it in case we run into any difficulties tonight with Christmas in July, or at the weekend with #NCGYM. The whole reason why we started using individual hashtags for our weekend pawties instead of sticking to our usual #NipClub one was because over the weekend there were so many of them found us and started posting some very inappropriate messages that it was decided to use a one-off name in future for each weekend pawty. I wasn't here when NipClub started, but I've been told that it never occurred to those who founded it that nip could be taken to mean anything other than catnip, and I have to say that it would never have occurred to me, either. However, it has unfortunately occurred to a number of unwanted visitors since then, so we decided a long while back that we needed to be at least one step ahead of them.

We haven't usually had much difficulty with our Thursday pawties but we do have a procedure that we fall back on when it's necessary. Because it's been a while since it's been needed it's very likely that a lot of our newer members may be unaware of it, so it seems like a good moment to go through it. It's very simple - if you start seeing stuff on the #NipClub hashtag which shouldn't be there (typically norty ladies, but can also be people inviting you to buy Twitter followers, or assorted other stuff that doesn't belong at a #NipClub pawty) please use the Block and Report facility immediately. 

Different apps and Twitter clients do this slightly differently, but it usually involves finding a Settings-type icon (probably looks a bit like a wheel) somewhere close to the Follow button. If you click the icon (NOT the Follow button :D) you will see a Menu which will include the facility to block or report. The best thing to do is click on Report, then when you're given a choice of reasons for reporting click the one that mentions s p a m. That's all there is to it!

If you want to alert others (you may be the first one to see the offending message(s) or you may want to encourage others to report, as well), it's best to say something like "Blocking intruders" - please DON'T us the word s p a m, unless with spaces between the letters, as believe it or not it's one of the triggers these folks use to find an active hashtag they can post on! 

If enough of us use the block/report facility within a short time these folks are usually kicked out by Twitter fairly quickly, so that's often quite enough to get rid of them. Sometimes an attack can last around 10 minutes and it seems like hours, but then it usually ends as quickly as it started. There have been occasions, though, when pawties (fortunately not our Thursday ones so far!) have been disrupted so severely that the only thing to do has been to leave the hashtag altogether and move the pawty to another one. 

If we need to, one of NipClub Management will give you another hashtag and ask you to move on to it. In that case to prevent these bots (they're only rarely human) from following it you'll notice that it won't be written with the # sign - the message will say something like "#NipClub pals. pls switch to XYZ". That would mean the pawty would continue using #XYZ, not #NipClub. If that happens, please do NOT use the new hashtag to say #XYZ and #NipClub in the same tweet. Hopefully the gatecrashers won't have a clue what's happened and will go on happily tweeting only to each other and themselves.

If absolutely necessary we can make that switch as many times as we need to, though hopefully it won't ever come to that :-) 

Oh, and if you're wondering what happens if you get there after the pawty has moved on, don't worry - one of NipClub Management (whoever happens to be around at the time!) will be monitoring the #NipClub hashtag for any genuine pawty-goers and directing them to the right place. 

Hopefully the norty ladies and the other gatecrashers will stay away, but even if they don't, at #NipClub we always do our best to pawty on! 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Man Who Brought The Cat In From The Cold

In the boss's chair: one of up to
96,000,000 cats in USA
Never let it be meowed that human TV is useless - well, not entirely, anyway. Every now and again among the game shows and the soap operas they have something of real interest to cats, and tonight is one of those occasions. 

Did you know that in the 1940s cats were not as well appreciated as we are today? I know - it's truly shocking, but it's a fact. Back then most people preferred to have a dog as a companion 'cos they could train a dog to go outside to answer calls of nature, while cats... Well, you know as well as I do, we train humans, not the other way around. Those cats who did have staff prepared to work for them found their services came at a price - the cats were generally expected to spend the night outside. Now, granted, lots of cats are fine with that, but not all. Speaking personally, I would truly hate it. 

Those who couldn't bear to leave their cats outside on a cold winter's night would use a pile of ashes, dirt or sand. It worked, but it had a major drawback - the ashes, dirt or sand would cling to the cat's paws and end up being trailed all over the apartment or the house. Staff didn't like it. 

Staff appraisal: feline employer
assesses human servant 
One day a lady in Michigan approached her neighbour, Ed Lowe, a businessman who sold sand, and asked if he had some that she could use in her cat box instead of ashes. He had a large quantity of Fuller's Earth, a kind of clay which is full of highly absorbent minerals, which he was eager to get rid of, so he gave her some of that instead. The clay worked way better than anything she'd used before, which as it can absorb its own weight in water was not surprising. She told her friends, and they came around for Fuller's Earth, too. 

An astute and innovative businessman, Ed Lowe realized he was on a winner and he made a fortune - but here's the spin-off for us cats. Humans began to realize that applying for a job as servant to a cat didn't have to mean constantly cleaning up after us or putting us outside. Once that problem was out of the way, there was no longer any barrier to giving us our rightful place as the boss of choice of millions of humans who need an anipal employer. There are now believed to be 74-96,000,000 cats with staff in the USA alone, with 30-37% of households headed by a cat. 

So, Mr Lowe, on behalf of indoor kitties everywhere, thank you for being exactly what the TV documentary called you - the man who brought the cat in from the cold! 

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Sepia Saturday

I've just discovered a Blog Hop hosted by Ruckus the Eskie and Earl's World. Called Sepia Saturday, it features pics (not necessarily pet-related) in the lovely warm retro shades of sepia, and I couldn't resist having a go... 

If you'd like to try your paw at sepia effects (there are lots of desktop and smart-phone apps that will help you to achieve them!), you can find the Blog Hop link on its own Page on this blog - go on, try it! They're great fun :D 

Happy Independence Day!

"Sweet land of Liberty":
Happy Birthday, USA!
Happy July 4 to all my pals in the USA, and to all those everywhere who believe in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! It's only humans who need to have these rights spelled out for them, of course - all kitties know instinctively they are our birthright and it's the duty of our humans to do all that's necessary to uphold them. A few of my furriends like the idea of changing those stirring words to life, liberty and the pursuit of mousies, but personally I prefer the original 'cos in my view it includes the concept of pursuing treats, red dots, cuddles and nip toys, too. 

"The flag of the brave and the free:
Three cheers for the red, white and blue!"
The day began here with fireworks, all right - we had yet another succession of spectacular lightning flashes and some very noisy thunderstorms, which woke us up in the middle of the night! I took my pal @DylCat1's advice and snuggled Mom in case she might get scared, but after the loudest thunder-boomer I felt obliged to jump out of bed and meow loudly at it to frighten it away. For some reason Mom did not seem to appreciate this, and muttered something about there being quite enough racket going on without all that meowing, which I thought was thoroughly ungrateful of her. Fortunately she was a little better-tempered later in the day, and despite having never yet set foot in the USA she's intending to celebrate in style. I'm sure Zac Brown would be delighted to hear we're having Chicken Fried for dinner, along with herb potatoes, fried tomatoes... and Green Onions. Seriously. Mom's going to make a salad with yellow, green and red peppers, lettuce, cucumber and chopped spring onions. She's also apparently planning a red, white and blue dessert, with strawberries, blueberries and cream. She always leaves some cream in the pot for me, so the menu has my full approval. I'm standing by to quality-check the chicken for her, and judging by the delicious smell coming from the kitchen I think I could be needed very shortly. Wonder if I can persuade her to put some nip leaves in the salad... 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Anyone For Tennis?

You cannot be serious:
just serve the cream!
Hope everyone enjoyed NipClub's Independence Day pawty last night! As always @TinyPearlCat did a pawesome job with her firework display. It was a spectacular and colourful sight, and you can read all about it in the Anipal Times on Tuesday. In the meantime if you'd like to catch up on last week's NipClub shenanigans, the Opening Ceremony of the #TeddyOlympics and #TheAviators' exhilarating steampunk space adventure led by @oliviackcs, you can find them here

Purrworthy: strawberries
and cream
It's almost the end of the first week of Wimbledon, and so far I'm enjoying it very much. Unlike my friend @Doggymolly I'm not an expert on tennis, but I've discovered two great benefits to watching Wimbledon that I hadn't previously thought of. One is that I've found a great new way of grabbing Mom's attention. The trick is to sit beside her on the couch while she's watching, and just as someone has set point, pounce on the remote. That changes the channel or switches the TV off. so she has to try to grab it back to get back on to Wimbledon. The other is that along with Wimbledon come strawberries and cream. She's quite welcome to the strawberries, but the cream on top is fabulous and I always get a decent helping of it. So, never mind if chalk flew up or not, Mom - serve the cream, and I'll keep purring!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

#ThankfulThursday - Rain

Welcome sight:
rain, but no hailstones!
This was the view from the windowsill yesterday, and it was very welcome! We're not really used to so much heat here, so we don't have air-conditioning - unless you count the desk-fan that's been working hard for several days now! We just had lots of heavy rain, which cooled the atmosphere for a little while, but within just a few miles of here it was a different story. Houses were struck by lightning, 57,000 people lost their power, and there were hailstones literally the size of golf-balls that did thousands of pounds worth of damage. We saw the lightning here (cloud-to-cloud sheet lightning, that lit the room like daylight!) and we sure could hear a lot of thunder, but thankfully it didn't come too close. So, today I'm very thankful we got off so lightly, and in particular I'm thankful that I'm an indoor kitty and I wasn't out in that!  

What are you thankful for?
That brings me very conveniently to @PepiSmartDog's #ThankfulThursday Blog Hop. Every week Pepi offers anipal bloggers the chance to write a post about something that they're thankful for and link it to his blog. Even if you don't have a blog yourself you might want to go take a look at what pals are thankful for this week - some of the stories are very inspirational, and I guarantee you'll LOVE the story of the Wallaby who's fostering a baby Kangaroo! I know we all have days that make us want to yowl, but gratitude's a very powerful thing that can focus us on good things that can make us feel a whole lot better. And after all, with human staff to deal with, there are times we need it! 

See you all at #NipClub - we're heading off to Philadelphia tonight, so do come join us!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

@BabyPatches' Blow-Out Sale

Coral Cuties: Silverline fish toys
for the kitty in your life
This isn't the post I'd planned to write to write today - I was going to tell you all about my new Blog Hop, but this one is more urgent.

I've just had a message from my good friend @BabyPatches, and she told me that she's trying to help her human over a rough patch. Her human's name's Salina, and she runs a business called Nip and Bones. A lot of pals have bought stuff from her before, and she's been very generous with Gift Cards from her store for quiz prizes at NipClub.

Waiting for your doggy to play
with him: Purple Dragon
Sadly, things have not been going well for Salina. She has been ill for some time with migraines, hypertension (high blood pressure) and a severe vitamin B12 deficiency. As any owner of a one-person business knows, a prolonged spell of ill-health makes working very difficult if not impossible. 

Thankfully Salina's health has improved recently and she is able to work again, but the business has suffered greatly in the meantime. To try to get things back on track she's having a huge  4th of July Blow-Out Sale, with 50 items all selling at up to 60% off. There are also a couple of special items calls Mystery Boxes, with one kind full of toys for kitties and the other packed with doggy toys! 

The sale lasts only till July 6 or until the discounted items are sold out, whichever happens first, so if you're interested in any Nip and Bones products at discounted prices it would be a really good idea to get there fast! 

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