Author Archives: Charles Huss

The Reincarnation of Fort Box


Recently I got a $40 off $80 coupon from Zapos and since I needed sneakers I decided to use it. I had a choice of getting one pair of $80 shoes or two pairs of $40 shoes. I chose the latter because I am cheap like that. I also have big feet so two pairs of shoes came in a big box. It was probably bigger than it needed to be but that is probably because they knew I had cats.

I decided to use the box to construct another Fort Box for the cats since the last two were a big hit. I took several photos along the way and all of them came out either bad or horrible because the lighting was not ideal and the cats wouldn’t stop moving. I am including them here reluctantly because I need something to illustrate the story.

As before I cut several peep holes and two doors but this time I left the flap on one of the doors for privacy. I also cut an escape hatch on the top.

Of course, Chris took over the box immediately.

Hey, check it out! My own sunroof.

Floki was also interested but was too late.

I see you out there, Floki. Get your own box.
C’mon Chris! There is room for two in there. Plus, there is no other box.

At one point Floki managed to get inside.

See Chris, I told you there was room for two.

That is when Chris decided to exert his dominance.

It looks like I need to remind you who’s boss, Floki.

After some time of Chris’s selfish behavior, Rose asked me to take the new car seat we just bought out of the box so Frankie and Floki could have a box. This I did and Frankie was very happy with his alternative box.

This is great. It’s bigger than Chris’s box.

He was happy until Chris discovered there was another box.

This is a nice box, Frankie. Why don’t you move over and let me check it out?
Yes, this is a nice box. Sorry Floki, no room. Find your own box.
If you say so, Chris.

Photo Friday: Disney Baby Frankie


We will be babysitting our grandson for the first time on Sunday so we bought just about everything that we might need for that day, and future days, including a Disney Baby car seat. Of course, our boys were all very happy to have a new, large box in the house, especially Frankie.

I’m Not Ready to Go Inside Yet


Here is a memory from 2014 for Throwback Thursday. Before Chris got older and gained weight, he was very much like Frankie is today when it comes to getting him back in the house.

Bad Cat Chris

It happens every time. Whenever it is time for Chris to come inside, he gives me a run for my money. I suppose I can’t blame him. When I let him out I have to watch him and I rarely have the time to just hang out and babysit a grown cat.

Lately, Chris has been the only one allowed outside. Frankie turned out to be a runner so it is not safe to let him out. He’s been out twice and both time we had to chase him through the neighborhood to get him back. I’m afraid we will lose him if it happens again. Puck likes to go outside and he generally stays close but sometimes he gets nervous and wants to go back in right away so I don’t feel bad leaving him inside.

Chris makes getting out the door his mission in life. I often let…

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The Most Annoying Cat in the World


The Most Annoying Cat in the World is a bold statement and I have no real evidence to support that there is not another cat more annoying than Chris but, in my mind at least, I can’t imagine anyone could beat him at the annoyance game.

Here are just two examples of how annoying Chris can be. Keep in mind that he is also the most affectionate cat in the world, according to me, so that tends to cancel out the annoying factor.

Here are more videos that I have shown before but are worth repeating.

What do you think? Do you have an annoying cat?

What is A Hero?


A hero does not have to wear a mask and cape or be a firefighter or soldier. According to Google, a hero is “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” I was thinking about that on Thursday when I was volunteering at the SPCA.

I had recently changed jobs and moved into a cat counselor position because the 4-7 shift on Thursdays opened up. Previously, I worked on Mondays or Tuesdays when the shelter was closed but now I have the opportunity to interact with people who are looking to adopt. While I was there, a couple adopted a cat that was about ten years old. I told one of the other volunteers that I thought people who adopt older cats are heroes in my book because they could just as easily adopt a kitten, or young cat, that would be with them for many more years but instead they choose to give a cat (or dog) a loving home to live out their remaining life. That is an attitude that I admire greatly and said that I would love to do that but it is hard because we are already over our one pet limit.

That got us talking about an eleven year old cat named Jezebel that was at the shelter but in a cage by herself instead of in a pod with other cats.

I opened the cage and started petting her and she loved it. She was starving for attention and just seemed so sweet. I looked at her chart which said that she had been there since October 23rd. That was almost four months stuck in a small cage by herself. I asked if anyone knew why she was isolated from other cats but nobody knew for sure. Her chart said she was aggressive with another cat which was why she was surrendered.

I thought maybe it was just one cat that she was aggressive toward and maybe that particular cat was the problem and not her. “Did anyone try to put her in a pod with other cats before isolating her?” I asked.

Nobody knew so I went to the adoption office and asked them but they did not have specific records and it sounded like they just assumed she was an aggressive cat and stuck her in a box by herself. I feel bad for her and part of me wants to go back and adopt her but another part of me worries that we might be bringing trouble into our home.

What do you think? Any advice for me?

Update: My wife and I went to see Jezebel Saturday afternoon. She let me hold her for a long time while I listened to an employee tell me that she was the aggressor. I decided to put her to the test and walked over to a cage with a cat that wasn’t sleeping. The two cats sniffed each other for a few seconds and then Jesebel let loose with a few rapid-fire whaps at the unsuspecting kitty. That pretty much ended her chance of coming home with us which is really too bad because she is such a friendly cat otherwise.

The Woobie


Do you know what a “woobie” is? Here is a post from 2014 about woobies.

Bad Cat Chris

The first time I heard the word “woobie” was in 2005. Rose heard her mother use it to refer to a blanket that her brother would carry around with him like Linus from the Peanuts comic strip. I thought it was a made up word but it really exists and it means “security blanket.”

I was introduced to the word after we adopted Tigger and Flash. Initially, Tigger was adopted by Rose’s mother, but the next day the shelter called and said they wanted him back because his brother Flash was in much distress without him. We tried to talk her into adopting Flash (they had different names then) but she only wanted one cat at that time so we ended up adopting both of them.

They lost their mother at a very young age so Tigger developed a habit of sucking on Flash’s belly. Rose referred to Flash as…

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Flash Alternative for Pet Photography


One of my most used Christmas presents this year is a Viltrox LED Light Panel. I picked it out after my wife said that my stepson was looking for something to buy for me. I am very hard to buy for because I don’t need much and if I do find something that I want it is too expensive for me or anyone else. So you can imagine how hard it was to come up with a good suggestion. I was very happy that it actually was a good suggestion because this light has proved to be quite useful.

I typically hate using a flash for photographing our cats, or anything else. About the only thing a flash is good for, in my opinion, is in photographing receipts. I hate the harsh shadows it creates and you just can’t avoid those laser eyes.

This light panel is not better than natural light but it does improve on the flash that comes on your camera in five significant ways.

  1. It has a much larger surface area than a flash so it does not produce the single direction light that causes harsh shadows. Of course, it is not as diffused as the large studio lights in a portrait studio but it is much more portable and less expensive.
  2. The color temperature can be changed to match the lighting conditions. If you are outdoors and need a fill light, you can set it to a higher color temperature to match the natural light. If you are indoors and want the warmer light that you get from incandescent bulbs or candle, you can turn down the color temperature to a warmer level.
  3. The brightness level can be set between 20% and 100% intensity. Sometimes I just need a little fill light and I don’t want my subjects to squint when I take their photo so I turn the level down to 40% or less.
  4. The light does not need to be attached to the camera so you can get extra light from whatever angle you need it to come from.
  5. By being constantly on, it gives the eyes a chance to dilate, thus reducing red eye or “laser eyes.”

I took the two photos below with the light attached to my camera. The first one of Chris sleeping on the sofa is a good example of how the light does not produce harsh shadows. I wish I had taken another photo using the camera’s flash but I did not think of it at the time.

This photo of Chris does have some obvious shadows, which were unavoidable given the content, but I have shot photos like this using a flash and they are almost always unusable. Pay no attention to Chris’s eye boogers. That has always been a constant problem with his eyes.

What do you think? Do you have any other lighting tips you would like to share?