Rachel Ray’s Nutrish for Cats: A review

I received a bag of the Rachel Ray Nutrish for Cats (chicken and potato flavor) free for testing purposes from Influenster.  The bag advertised that the product was grain-free, which I honestly hadn’t really worried about with my other pet foods.  The instructions on the bag stated to start mixing the food with the existing food at about a 75% old : 25% new ratio so that it didn’t upset their digestive systems. Since I was running low on my existing cat foods, I figured it was a good time to try it out.

I currently have 4 cats: 2 of them are over the age of 12, and the other two are 3 or younger.

Three of the four cats did not eat it at first.  Two of them ate around the new Nutrish food, while the third cat went on a two-day hunger strike and refused to touch anything that had been in contact with the new food.  However, they did adjust to the new food over the course of a few (more) days, but there was considerably less enthusiasm at feeding time.

My kitties took about 2 weeks to finish off the bag of food that was provided.  During that time, I did notice some changes in the smell of the cat poop (ew) that were not particularly pleasant, but that was most notable during the transition period.

As we neared the end of the bag, I began mixing it again to transition them back to their regular food.  Again, they strongly preferred their other food to the Nutrish and ate around the Nutrish.  Because this happened both transitioning on and off the food, it’s quite apparent that it wasn’t just because one was “new.”

Mickey has adopted the #Nutrish box free from @influenster for testing purposes!

A photo posted by @miceandmakeup on

Only Mickey (above) showed no issues with eating the new food and gobbled it up without hesitation. She also liked to sleep on the box. I suspect she actually ate most of the food out of that bag.  My other kitties didn’t starve themselves, but it was obvious that they did not enjoy it.

I appreciate the opportunity to test the product, but I’m sticking with their other food (one is formulated for older cats; the other for younger cats).  Thanks, Influenster, for allowing me to test and review the product!

Recurring Bell’s Palsy?

A week ago, I was eating breakfast and tried to smile.  Something didn’t feel right; the right side of my face didn’t respond normally.  My mouth wouldn’t pull up into a smile completely.  I had movement–I could blink and I could move my cheek and mouth muscles somewhat, but there was definite muscle weakness.

I already knew/know it’s not stroke; the muscle weakness is limited to my face.  Language, math, and perception centers of my brain were all functioning pretty normally except for taste.  About a week earlier (two weeks ago now), I stopped being able to taste on the right side of my tongue.

The last time something like this occurred was 12 years ago when I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy.  At that time, I had 100% paralysis on the right side of my face: no blinking, no mouth movement, no muscle tone, nothing.  The first symptom back then was also loss of taste on half my tongue, but it progressed to paralysis overnight.

I went to urgent care and there are some things that are not consistent with Bell’s Palsy: the weakness versus paralysis and the rate of progression.  I have full or nearly full control of my forehead and eye muscles, so the right lower quadrant of my face is most affected.  Bell’s Palsy recurrences are not common, either; estimates show them at < 10% (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3362016).  There are some things that are consistent with Bell’s Palsy: the radiating pain along my right cheekbone, loss of taste on one side, reduced tearing in my right eye, and it’s on the same side that was affected before.

The typical treatment is prednisone + antiviral medications.  I’m now finishing my 2nd round of high-dose prednisone this year–and I ache all over!  That will fade.  I have an appointment with a neurologist in 2 weeks to try to determine what is the most likely explanation–additional diagnostic tests are likely to be needed in this case.  In the meantime, we’ve done the best treatment we can if it IS Bell’s Palsy.  If not, at least my face isn’t getting worse, though the muscles DO fatigue easily when chewing dinner (and I have to chew on my left side if I want to taste anything).

The worst parts of having Bell’s Palsy before were not being able to blink or to stop drooling–I’m not suffering either of those.  However, I can’t puff up my cheeks with air.  I just make fart noises.  It makes me laugh.

I’ve heard that a lot of people who have Bell’s Palsy are too upset to go out in public. I seriously doubt anyone would notice that there’s any problem.  I don’t look like my face is melting off.  Therefore, whatever this is, for now, I can deal with it.


This morning when I got out of the shower there was a note on my nightstand telling me to look outside!
Hey, if you’ve known me at all, you know I love snow. I’m an adult and it makes me feel like a giddy little kid. I may not love driving in it, but I have a job where if it’s unsafe I can stay home!


NASA Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today’s Mars

New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.

Source: NASA Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today’s Mars

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

For the last few weeks, all I’ve heard are people saying how ready they are for Fall.  Cooler temperatures, sweaters, warm drinks, pumpkin obsession–all of it.

Although there are several ways to define the beginning of Fall, the most common are:

  1. Back to school.  Because summer vacation is over.  Occurred 4 weeks ago for me.
  2. After Labor Day.  You know, when white shoes are banned and the tourists go home.  Happened 2 weeks ago for me.
  3. The Autumnal Equinox.  As in, the second time of year when the length of daylight hours and nighttime hours are equal (if you live at the equator, anyway).

Which definition do you use?

I’m very happy to say that the weather has been deliciously cool for a bit over a week and it actually feels like the proper season!  I hope we get a long and glorious autumn!

Windows 10 and why I downgraded: a brief review

Those of you who know me probably know that I’m geeky.  I am also a Windows person.  Unlike the majority of the people out there, I actually *REALLY LIKE* Windows 8.  I know, I know–but all my computers have touch screens and I adapted very easily.  I even have a Windows phone (seriously–actually, two).  That said, I was counting the days and the minutes until July 29 and the official release of Windows 10.  Yes, I’m a Windows Insider (and I have the tech preview of 10 on a phone).

The Upgrade Process

I did not get Windows 10 on the 29th.  I actually got Windows 10 on July 31 for only one of my devices: my Surface Pro 3.  I hadn’t planned on putting on that device first, but it’s the only one I’ve gotten the upgrade on so far, and I reasoned that since the Surface Pro 3 is a Microsoft device, it should have the best outcome.

The download process completed in the background.  I had one gripe during this: the onscreen prompts told me that it was downloading, but the page that was supposed to show my progress never did.  Eventually, the download finished. I immediately ran the installer.

Installation was a breeze.  I chose the advanced setup options but ended up not changing any of the defaults.  It took approximately 40 minutes to complete setup on my system.  That will vary depending on system performance.

Logging in was painless and almost everything I expected was actually there!  An almost seamless transition!  I did have to resubmit passwords for my work email, but my personal email account transitioned over quite well.

Over the next 3-4 hours, I played with Windows 10 settings and software.

The Good

  1. Installation was really painless.
  2. Return of the Start menu: most users really, really wanted this back.  Initially, I was among those who thought it was important, but I never got around to putting a Start button replacement in Windows 8.1.  I just pinned my most-used applications to the taskbar anyway.
  3. Cortana.  I can’t say enough about Cortana.  I have her on my phone and have been eagerly awaiting desktop integration.  For those who don’t have Cortana, she’s a digital assistant with a sense of humor.  I had to do minor training but had few issues with voice commands.  She gets better with usage, too.  She is the one thing that I truly miss.
  4. Good detection of tablet mode: when my keyboard was attached, Windows 10 switched to a desktop-mode interface.  It can ask you for confirmation or do this automatically.  When I removed the keyboard, it switched to a more touch-friendly interface similar to the Windows 8 Start screen.
  5. The notification area: Windows 10 has clearly paid attention to mobile computing and device needs here.  The notification area has several icons for turning on airplane mode, switching to/from tablet mode, WiFi, etc.  These are configurable.  It will also display app updates from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. (configurable).

The Bad

  1. OneDrive.  (prepare for rant) In Windows 8, OneDrive used “Smart Files” or “Placeholders.”  If you had data stored in the Microsoft cloud (OneDrive), these files and the directory showed up on your system as though they were local files.  As long as you had a reasonable internet connection, they acted like local files (a temp copy would download to your local machine on demand).  Under Windows 10, this functionality was removed ON PURPOSE.  Microsoft says that they need to fix the hodgepodge of code that was running that system for stability and clean it up.  From a programming perspective, I understand that.  However, what this means for end users is that Microsoft now expects you to synchronize entire folders to your local computer: you will download that data, and any changes will be updated between your computer and the server.  In short, it works just like Dropbox, or Google Drive, or any other cloud storage solution.  Here is where the problem comes in.  I cannot synchronize the contents of my entire OneDrive folder: I’d have -60 GB of data left on my hard drive.  Microsoft offers TWO “solutions” to this issue: 1-synchronize fewer folders, and 2-you can still access any files through the web browser.  That is NOT a workable solution for me.  The folder I access most often for work is over 10 GB in size and I randomly need files from this folder.  I do not have space on all my devices to download this much data.  I do not WANT  to download all that data–it defeats the purpose of having cloud storage!  Why on earth would I want to go back to wondering which computer had which files?  Microsoft did return a much-demanded feature: the ability to retrieve files from another computer that is remote.  However, this only works if the other computer is online–so assuming you’re not traveling hundreds or thousands of miles and your home system isn’t knocked offline because of a storm (or bad driver taking out a pole, or a squirrel, or your network stack doesn’t harf/crash, or…) so again, NO, Microsoft.  Most companies, including Microsoft, are pushing small, portable devices with limited hard drive space to save money and power consumption.  This change to OneDrive functionality severely limits those devices. My applications (such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) were not able to read/see/access files in OneDrive.  Ric also discovered that you cannot easily change your default OneDrive directory on your local computer and it will NOT allow you to put it on a removable disk (or SD card, for those using them as expansion drives).  (end rant) BUT there IS a workaround (see below)!
  2. Settings and Control Panel: they’re not the same thing.  You have a lot of settings and a global settings menu item, but this is not the same as Control Panel, which is harder to access (and I honestly never did).  Just be aware.
  3. The mail/calendar client.  These are sort of integrated, but not wholly.  It’s not like Outlook, so it’s not that intimidating.  However, some of my favorite features from the Windows 8 Mail app are gone: Sweep (which removes all but the most recent email from a sender), and automagic filtering of some emails (such as the Newsletters grouping, which caught a lot of my unimportant subscription emails that weren’t junk).  Boo, hiss.
  4. Tablet/desktop mode on desktops: this one was found by Ric, since his desktop got Windows 10.  Despite the fact that he has a touchscreen monitor, Windows 10 will not let him opt in and enable tablet mode.  Why can’t we choose this?

The Bottom Line

I didn’t make it 36 hours with Windows 10.  I do realize that this is an unfair amount of time to judge an OS, but ultimately, without the functionality of OneDrive, I couldn’t justify keeping it on my Surface Pro 3.  I therefore chose to revert my system to Windows 8.1.  I have heard that downgrading is buggy (some applications will need reinstallation and some won’t work right) so I opted to do a full system restore to factory defaults; thus, I can’t tell you from personal experience about the option to revert.  I can tell you this: you have 30 days from installing Windows 10 to decide whether to keep it.  You have one year (until July 29, 2016) to take advantage of the free upgrade.  Honestly, I’ll be installing it on my non-critical system(s) as soon as it pushes through, but I won’t do so on my desktop or Surface Pro 3 yet.

I would therefore give you the following advice: make sure you have or create system restore media before upgrading.  If you use the cloud heavily or have a small hard drive, WAIT.  Microsoft says they’re working on this issue and hope to have an update by the end of the year.

The Workaround

Ric and I fought the OneDrive change tooth and nail.  We did find a workaround that may or may not be adequate for your needs.  Briefly, it involves mapping a network drive to your OneDrive folder.  To do this, you will need to find your OneDrive CID (go to any file in your OneDrive account through a browser, right-click and choose embed.  Copy and paste the embed code to a Word or text file and look for the cid= string).  Map the network drive to https://d.docs.live.net/CID and login to your Microsoft account when/if prompted.  For more complete directions, check out this very helpful step-by-step guide:



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When a chair is not just a chair…

Last weekend I finally caved to necessity and bought a new chair for working at my computer at home (which in no way explains  why I’m sitting on the couch right now…). I’ve had my eye on this chair for a while now at Office Depot.  I found it comfortable in the store and I liked the look. It was also on sale, at 50% off, which may have been the deciding factor.

Katarina Managers Chair

But the chair, I found, became more. Once I assembled it, it became a symbol.  it’s the first piece of furniture I’ve purchased for myself by means other than financial aid. It’s the first piece where style and comfort were more important than price point. I absolutely love my new chair.  It is a realization that I am an adult, I’m not a student anymore, and it’s okay to choose and buy things that I like with my income. It also made me realize how much of my furniture is hand-me-down (which is okay; some of it I love).  Most of those pieces are not things that I chose so much as stuff that serves a function that I inherited or acquired for little or no cost. It doesn’t reflect me or my style in any way.

But my new chair? Right now, it fits. Right now, it’s me.

Time for a reboot

Welcome to my new site!  I finally decided to change how I was handling my websites and migrated domains and hosting.

I’ve spent several months thinking about what I wanted to do with my blog and I really have three main “hobbies” that I am likely to write about: scientific research, cooking, and my addiction to subscription beauty sample boxes.  Of course, there are other aspects of my life: my cats, my family and friends, my work, normal life stuff.

I chose the name because I really loved the little lab mice I worked with, and a large part of my new blog will be science-oriented.  They won’t all be about lab mice, but that’s okay.

I do hope you find interesting and/or fun topics here!