The Vine: April 8, 2009
Hi Sars —
I have wonderful, sweet, loving kitty cats, and I'm about to throw them out the window.
They both have good manners when it comes to using their litterbox. Everything goes in the correct place, and there's no issues with sharing a box. However, when it comes to flushing, they tend to get carried away. Add to that a vigorous poo gallop, and there's litter everywhere. It's making me crazy.
I have a covered litter box, but I'm wondering if there's a better solution. Ideally, I'd get a Roomba, and stop worrying about it, but funds don't allow for that. Anyone, please, is there any sort of litterbox that keeps litter from flying everywhere?
Mr. Stupidhead recently rigged up a solution similar to this one on Ikea Hacker. In his case, the idea was more to prevent the dog from snacking on cat poo, so also check out the "best litterboxes" roundup on Apartment Therapy L.A.
And this model is specifically designed to reduce tracking, although I haven't tried it myself. I can tell you that my cats wouldn't go in that thing if you filled it with treats.
The readers will no doubt suggest other ideas; my only remaining advice is to accept that you'll probably never achieve a litter-free floor. Even if you don't have a sprayer in the household — and I do, Little Joe — litter sticks in between their little toes and gets tracked around and you will find the occasional grain on top of the damn microwave and wonder what you've done to deserve such treatment. But one of these options may cut down on the side effects of the digging.
When does "third party / third parties" get a hyphen?
"Third party" takes a hyphen when it's used as an adjective. When it's used as a noun, the hyphen isn't necessary. So, if a third party corrects your grammar, you don't need a hyphen, but if a third-party candidate corrects your grammar, you do.
This probably won't apply to the plural, ordinarily; in fact, the phrase "third parties" doesn't seem to me like it's in wide usage (you'd say "other parties" or "outside observers" or something like that instead, no?).
This rule always pertains, by the way. "Thank you for the gift," "I need to write a thank-you note for the gift."
I'm starting at Princeton as a grad student in the fall. Basically, the department's a great fit, everyone's been super-nice, and they're giving me a (comparative) boatload of cash, but I'm still kind of scared of Princeton.
My own alma mater is a scruffy, impassioned small liberal arts college with a national reputation for being — let's say it gently — offbeat. Obviously, Princeton is very different. The leggy blonde undergrads seem to jog at all hours of every day, all short shorts and bouncing ponytails, and a popped collar on a pink Brooks Brothers shirt is Frisbee-wear, not a costume.
Basically, I associate Princeton with snobbish baby masters of the universe, and I fear their judgment, even though most of them can't legally drink. You're not terrifying, and I know that you do not have a bouncing blonde ponytail, and you've mentioned liking Princeton. Can you give me any tips on navigating it successfully, without letting my self-doubting tendencies take over?
Scared That I'll Be Too Scared To Use The Gym
Dear As Well You Should Be, My Hampshire Friend,
(Heh.…Except seriously, the gym was kind of a horror show 15 years ago. "Sussudio" on endless loop. Wii Fit is your friend.)
I didn't really fit the stereotype of the Princeton undergraduate, but that doesn't mean the stereotype is wrong — it can seem, on a sunny afternoon in McCosh courtyard, like every single person who walks by has a backwards white baseball cap and cuffs-shot khakis on, went to Exeter, has parents on the board of the Met, blah blah, and you do see a lot of those people.
But it's not an overwhelming majority, if it's a majority at all; "those people" are just as likely to be fun and friendly as the ones with dreads or Ramones t-shirts; and the only contact I really had with the grad students outside of class was on my pizza-delivery route. They didn't hang out with us, they didn't date us…the grad campus isn't far away, but it might as well have been in Indiana for all we saw of our TAs socially. (Fortunately for them. We were idiots.)
You'll find plenty of people who don't fit the "Billionettes" profile — and if it's anything like it was, you're around the undergrads in class and that's kind of it. And they're all too preoccupied with bicker or re-fonting a paper to hit a 15-page minimum to notice whether you fit in — which you will, just not with the "remember that time at the fox hunt" crowd.
Once you get there, trust me, the intimidation factor drops away pretty fast; you get preoccupied with daily shit and you don't have time for it. Try not to get too anxious about it before you know what it actually is.
Tags: cats fat cats grammar workplace