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Gems From The Garage

Most readers of this post will already know @GeorgeTheDuck, the 3″ duck with catnip stuffing who runs the NipClub Monthly site, DJs and barktends at Twitter pawties, and keeps a firm but kindly eye on his Typist, Robyn Harton, and a number of delightful cats.

What you may not know is that Robyn makes and sells some of the most beautiful handmade jewelry that you might ever want to see.

OK, you can argue that I might be just a little biased – Mom has a lovely moonstone pendant set in silver that came from her store, and she never ceases to be amazed at the intricate hand-working of the silver as well as the delicate grace and subtle lustre of the stone itself.

Now, the reason that I’m telling you about it is, you have the chance to get your own paws on one of Robyn’s lovely pieces for yourself – and for a limited time you can even get one at a knock-down price!

One of the family cats, named Mini, has suffered from ill-health recently – her asthma has led to congestive heart failure. Obviously, running a business involves tying up a lot of funds in stock and raw materials, so, to fund her treatment, George and his Typist are having a garage sale – and you can benefit!

Just head on over to Robyn’s store and take a look around – you’ll find plenty of items that would make distinctive gifts for Christmas, birthdays and lots of other occasions, and maybe even a special treat for your own human, too!

And that’s not all. Take a look around the site and you’ll find lots of information about particular stones and all the lore surrounding them – and there’s even a free book you can download to read at your leisure.

Find out whether diamonds really are a girl’s best friend, or when you might be better choosing garnet or citrine – have fun reading the traditional beliefs around each stone, and amaze your friends with your new knowledge!

All that information’s free, and it can help you choose a stone that has a special meaning just for you.

Go on – indulge yourself! The information’s free and the magnificent jewelry’s (very temporarily!) at garage-sale prices, so head across there now, while stocks last and the bargain prices are available!

That link again? It’s Robyn’s store, and whatever time of day you’re reading this, it’s open NOW!!

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9/11

In memory of 9/11

In memory of 9/11

There have been plenty other huge events in history, but few so traumatic that the date alone immediately transports all who were more than babies at the time, right back there.

People have their birthdays or their wedding anniversaries on that day.

Folks have started a new job that day, had their first child, met the person of their dreams or got engaged – but no matter what great things might be associated with it, the shadow of the Twin Towers always falls across the date of 9/11.

So, like many others right around the world as well as in America, I want to take a moment to remember and say a prayer for all caught up in the events of that day…

    The victims, whether in the planes or on the ground;

    The survivors, some physically injured, all emotionally seared forever by the things that they experienced or saw that day;

    The families and friends who waited desperately for news, both those who got the news they longed for and those who had to bear the news they dreaded, with a special thought for those who to this day can only guess what happened to their loved ones;

    The children born after the event or too young to remember the person who set off for work or sight-seeing in New York that day and never came home, who will grow up without the knowledge of a father’s or a mother’s love;

    The family pets who waited loyally for an owner to return, and to whom no-one could explain why someone they completely trusted had apparently abandoned them;

    The firefighters, so many of whom risked or even gave their lives to rescue total strangers;

    The police, medics, air traffic controllers, priests, and all whose training for emergencies had suddenly been called into the most desperately-needed use in the unfolding tragedy;

    Those who fed the fire crews, made space available to treat the injured, comforted the traumatized survivors and helped desperate families find news of missing loved ones; and

    All others whose lives were painfully affected by that day or by its aftermath.

The world, of course, has changed for ever. We learned the hard way it’s a whole lot smaller than we thought it was.

We found out that we really are each other’s keeper – that what happens in a city or a country far away impacts the lives of all of us.

As a UK newspaper proclaimed next day, “We’re all New Yorkers now.”

For all of us who will commemorate the tragedy today, we still are.

Avast, Me Hearties!!

Recruiting NOW!

Recruiting NOW!

As you may know, #NipClub is holding a Tall Ships Regatta tomorrow, August 30, from 4pm EDT (9pm UK) onwards.

You may also know that I’m lucky enough to be captaining one of the ships, HMS Shayna.

What you may NOT know is that just because the vessel belongs to the UK Merchant Marine (in plain non-technical English, it a British ship!) and flies the UK flag, that does NOT mean that the crew all have to be from the UK.

Pals of all nationalities and any species whatsoever are very welcome to sign up and join the crew. You’ll have free noms and a plentiful supply of rum, and no-one sailing under me has ever (so far!) suffered the indignity of the cat o’nine tails, being keelhauled, or finding themselves forced to walk the plank.

You’ll be a member of as lively a bunch of matelots as ever flew the Jolly Roger (I mean, the Union Jack), spliced the mainbrace, climbed up to the crow’s nest, or fell out of the rigging.

If we happen to come across a treasure ship that needs us to take charge of it and steer it safely into harbor, any doubloons or jewels that we claim as salvage will be shared among the crew.

And, of course, let’s not forget we’re in a race… and that no matter which ship is first to cross the Finish line, the real winners will be the little Doxies #NipClub’s helping this month to escape the pound (or even worse) and find forever homes.

So – you in? Just tweet or DM me, & I’ll be delighted to add you to the crew.

Ship Ahoy!

#WigItUp Each Wednesday!

#WigItUp At The Awards

#WigItUp At The Awards

You may have seen some vibrantly-dressed avatars in mid-week recently, often accompanied by a relatively new hashtag – #WigItUp Wednesday.

Yesterday I was talking to @JeffMusk, who told me how it all began.

You know how lots of anipals dress up on Halloween? Well, instead of wearing witch or warlock costume, Jeff and his friends decided to dress up in fancy wigs.

They had a lot of fun – so much, in fact, that some of them didn’t want to take their wigs off afterwards!

Wigs aren’t the most comfortable things to wear for too long at a time, though, so eventually they decided on a compromise – they’d have fun in their wigs one day each week.

The reason they chose Wednesday was that it represents the middle of the working week – a day when many humans find their energy is flagging and they need something to make them smile. Anipals are very good at brightening the lives of humans and
putting a smile back on their faces, so #WigItUp Wednesday seemed like a perfect way to do that.

Over the past few months the hashtag has come to take on an extra and very special meaning, too, as pals have used it to offer encouragement and positive energy to sick anipals, or to comfort those humans whose pals have crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

So, if you feel inspired to don a bright, eye-catching wig each Wednesday, you’ll be in great (and growing) company.

Wear it to pay tribute to an #OTRB pal, or offer hope and comfort on a sick one’s porch.

Wear it to energize your human and to make them laugh – they often need that tonic much more than they know.

Or even wear it for yourself, to celebrate your sense of playfulness and joy of living!

Wear it for whatever positive reason that appeals to you – just #WigItUp each Wednesday, and have some fun!

Run Free, My Golden Friend!

I am only one of over 2,000 anipals who had the privilege of knowing the kind and beautiful @Keely_Bobs, but I’m proud to say I also had the even greater privilege of having her describe me as a friend.

I was thrilled for her when she became engaged to Tom (@PuppyNumber7), and so delighted when she asked me to DJ at their wedding. Afterwards they gave me a lovely necklace, which I treasure, as a souvenir of the occasion.

Tom and Keely were a model couple, and it was beautiful to see how happy they so clearly were together. Anipals around the world rejoiced when their happiness was completed by the arrival of their adored #ourWinnie, who has a breath-taking resemblance to her beautiful golden-furred mother.

Recently we were all very shocked to learn that Keely had been diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma. Tom built the magnificent #Keelysporch to accommodate the large number of pals who wanted to keep vigil for his beloved wife. Keely showed me his fine workmanship and told me how proud she was of her husband, and how touched by his devotion.

Obviously I realized that her situation wasn’t good, but I was completely unprepared for the shock I got last night. Just as I was about to start my #NipClub DJ set I heard that Keely was in vet hospital after becoming disoriented and lethargic.

For a moment I wanted to call off my set out of respect to her – but it was for a fundraiser, and I knew she’d want me to go on with it. It was just as well I had my song-links all prepared, because I tweeted them with tears streaming down my face.

This morning I heard from Tom that she was going to see a neurologist, hopefully today – and then a little while later came the news that devastated the anipal community.

With great dignity, Tom announced that his beloved Keely was to cross the Rainbow Bridge this afternoon.

Horrified pals flocked to #Keelysporch. All of us were shocked, and most in tears. It seemed such a desperately short time ago that Keely was her usual happy self, chatting with pals, teasing Tom about his latest spell in Twitmo, and showing us her latest lovely pictures of #ourWinnie.

We held each other’s paws in silence as the time approached, and stood with heads bowed.

And then, the unthinkable happened.

At the very moment Keely was about to cross the bridge, #Keelysporch was invaded by a crowd of spammers. The timeline was flooded out with them, one after another parading the usual “Have you seen this? I couldn’t believe it!” message, with the inevitable link to somewhere that we didn’t want to go.

THEY couldn’t believe it? WE couldn’t believe it, either – that something so important could be hi-jacked by something so contemptible.

We didn’t leave it there, of course – we raised our heads, unclasped our paws and reported every one of them for spam. Within minutes they were booted out of Twitter – but not before they’d added to the pain of Keely’s family.

Keely was the sweetest pal that you could hope to meet. I never even once heard her complain or criticize, or lose her temper, or be mean to anyone – and to see her disrespected, especially at that moment in that way, made my blood boil.

So, here’s my pledge in honor of my friend – at the first sight of a spammer from now on, my claws come out. No more “live and let live” or “ignore them and they’ll go away”.

Each one I see will be blocked and reported just as fast as I can get my claws on to the keypad.

And every time I do, I’ll think, “This one’s for Keely!”

Somewhere across the Bridge right now I’m sure she’s well and happy, chatting with the pals who’ve gone before, and making new friends with #OTRB anipals from the families of her Twitter friends.

I don’t know yet if she’ll tweet from there (I hope she will!), but I know she’ll go to the Waving Cloud every day to wave hello to Tom and Winnie.

And, of course, she has her own special star that Tom had named in her honor recently – it will be twinkling brightly as night falls.

Run free across the Bridge, my golden friend – you’ll never leave our hearts!

PS – if you would like to share your memories of @Keely_Bobs, you might like to go to #NipClub’s page and leave a comment there.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Notes For New DJs

I’m often asked to give some tips to new DJs, and in previous notes I’ve gone into a lot of detail on how to use Blip.fm and Grooveshark.com.

Having recently had to learn to DJ on a cell-phone with no Flash Player, though, I’ve had to simplify my DJ technique – and discovered to my amazement that it actually works more simply and is a lot more versatile.

That makes it the ideal way for a new DJ to start, with as little tech stuff as possible to get in your way.

That’s not to say that Blip and Grooveshark don’t have a lot of uses. They do – but for convenience and ease I think this beats them.

So, let’s rock ‘n roll…

1. Decide on what you want to play.

Often the decision will be made for you – in most occasions you’ll be invited to DJ for, the organizers will have picked the theme already.

If it’s something you know a lot of songs about, that’s great, but it’s very likely that you’ll often find it won’t be – themes are often chosen precisely because they are unusual, and often the most challenging part of a DJ’s job is to find some music that fits in with them.

Fortunately, a DJ has an ally that the audience won’t think of – Google.

2. Do a search under “Top *theme* songs”. You’ll see a choice of collections related to your theme. Right-click on a few of them and choose Open In New Tab (or whatever equivalent wording your browser may use). Look at the first one and see which songs particularly interest you.

3. Copy each title and artist you’re interested in and paste it into a document or text editor (I use Open Office, but any one you like will do just fine).

4. Now open another browser window and go to http://tinysong.com. It’s as well to keep your search responses pages open while you’re using tinysong, as some of your choices may not be available and you may need to pick some more.

5. Copy and paste one of your song choices, along with the artist’s name – it doesn’t really matter which order you put them in – & click on Search or just press Enter. In a few seconds you should see a page with your chosen song on it.

You may see several possible links to it – often they’re the same one sourced through different search engines, but sometimes they are genuinely different versions.

See which, if any, looks more suited to your needs – you may prefer a live version to a studio version or vice versa, for example, or you might like a particular remix or a digitally remastered one. If the artist or genre is known for explicit lyrics and you don’t feel they are suitable, look for a link that says Radio Edit or Single Version – that will have a version that’s not embarrassing to play.

6. Click on the Preview button to the left of your chosen track name and listen to a bit of the track. If it’s not the version you want, click it again to stop it and move on to the next one.

When you find a version you like, click the Preview button again to stop it (otherwise a few moments later you’re going to be playing two versions of the track at once and you won’t be able to stop the Preview without back-tracking – which as by then you’ll need the info on the next page is time-consuming and annoying, and a mistake I’ve made too many times to count!).

7. Now click the Share button at the right hand side of the track name. In the page that comes up, click Copy To Clipboard – the link in smaller print underneath the main one.

DON’T click the main one first. It’s the natural thing to do, but once it takes you to the Grooveshark page it’s again an annoying wait to backtrack to collect your tinysong link.

8. Next, click the main link. It will probably take several seconds for the Grooveshark page to load and start to play the song – over a whole set these delays really add up, so when you’re starting out you need to allow yourself plenty of time to prepare your set.

When your track starts to play, take a look at the timer at the bottom of the screen. If it’s around 3-4 minutes, that’s great. If it’s around 5 it’s a good plan not to schedule it next to another long track, and if it’s much more than that it’s probably a good idea to go back to tinysong and try another version.

9. When you’ve got the version that you want, paste your tinysong link from your clipboard into your text file beside the song and artist names, and make a note of the time the track lasts.

Often you won’t need that, but it only takes a moment and it may affect the running order – for example, if you want to save a specially appropriate song till last and it takes 4 minutes, it’s no use starting it with just 2 minutes of your set left to run.

Also, you need to be quite sure you have enough material, and some songs actually don’t last as long as you imagine.

I work on an average of 3 mins for each song, but although that in theory means I want 20 songs for each hour set, I like to have a good few in reserve – you never know when the next DJ might be delayed or not be able to turn up at all (equipment failures can pick some seriously bad moments to occur!), and sometimes a track that played just fine when you listed it has gone unavailable by the time you post its link.

10. When you’ve got all the tracks you need listed in your text file, it’s time to start to plan your running order.

Choose your two strongest tracks to start and finish with, then organize the rest in any order that you like – though unless it’s meant to be a gentle and reflective set it’s usually best not to play too many slow or quiet ones together.

11. Decide on how you want to introduce them.

The style you use is absolutely up to you. Some DJs like to say something like, “Now playing – *song*, by *artist*” – others like to say something individual.

The important thing is to use a style you’re comfortable with. The style doesn’t matter in the slightest – the sincerity does. The audience will realize in a heartbeat if you’re not comfortable with what you’re doing – & they won’t be, either.

You can play it safe, or cut loose & have some fun – as long as you use a style that’s authentic to YOU, that’s all that matters.

If you want to say something original, you might want to write yourself a script the first few times you DJ. If so, put your comments beside your song link, test the whole thing in your Twitter “Compose tweet” box & if it turns out to be too long (including hashtag), adjust it till it fits.

DON’T be tempted to take the “Shorten link?” option – seeing tinysong in your tweet will show the audience you’re sending them a music link. Trust me on this – no matter how many times they’re told that you’re the DJ, there WILL be folks out there who’ll think you’re trying to spam them otherwise!!

Replace the original in your text file with the new version and save it ready to tweet during your set. You can always ad-lib if a better comment strikes you, but if it doesn’t you’ve got one to hand.

If you don’t want, or need, to use a script, that’s fine. First time I DJ’d I used a script. Second time I started with a script and ad-libbed from half-way through. Third time I didn’t bother with a script, nor have I since.

Again, it all comes down to what you’re comfortable with – but if you have the slightest doubt of being able to ad-lib your way through a whole set successfully, play safe and write yourself some intros in advance. You can always ignore them and ad-lib if the mood takes you.

12 If you’re DJ’ing for a fundraiser, tweet the link within the first 5 minutes of your set, then around 20, 40 and 55 minutes into it.

The exact times don’t matter, but make sure you don’t do it immediately after the previous DJ or immediately before the next one.

If someone else, eg a barktender, tweets the charity link you can RT it, but don’t bombard the audience with it – you might be surprised how quickly people tune stuff out! (Just ask yourself how many times you really NOTICE the TV commercials…)

If possible, have an extra account ready to use if you land up in Twitmo. Most of us do at some point, and it’s vitally important that you have a way to carry on.

To stay out of Twitmo, try to keep off Twitter for at least an hour (preferably two) before your DJ set.

If you’re using an app that lets you have a lot of Twitter windows open, close as many of them as you can, and if possible, use pretty nearly ANYTHING except the Twitter API – it has a seriously low Twitmo thresh-hold.

If you plan to DJ regularly, set up a spreadsheet including song name, artist, song length, genre, decade and “suitable for” columns – that way you’ll have material available for pretty much any occasion anyone can throw at you, and you can plan your set with a click on the Sort command.

Always, though, check your links are current before you start – they aren’t going to give you a heads-up when they go unavailable. You don’t need play them all the way through to check they’re OK – if they start to play, they’re fine.

Don’t worry if you get stage-fright – most of us do. It’s just adrenalin building up, ready to power your performance. If it bothers you, do something to relax. Deep breathing is particularly good, or you might like to do some stretching exercises. I like to play a couple of songs just for myself, and without tweeting them, of course, before I start.

If you’re aware of the possibility of stage-fright, you’ll handle it just fine – it’s when you don’t expect it and it strikes that it can catch you off your guard and give you a seriously unpleasant experience.

Above all else, have fun – the audience won’t enjoy it unless YOU do! Go with the energy of the music, & let it flow through you and inspire you to entertain the audience – remember, the artists that you’re playing have already done the hard work, & all YOU have to do is to present their work to an audience that’s hungry to be entertained.

Put your heart and love of music into playing to them, and you’ll be a great DJ.

A Giant Leap With #NipClub

#NipClub Pathway To The Stars

#NipClub Pathway To The Stars

I have to admit, when #NipClub decides to do a thing, it does it BIG.

A club that started not much more than 2 years back with just 4 founding members now trends regularly at #1. Its team of internationally-based staff work hard behind the scenes each day to bring you all the fun and laughter that we can, as well as serving the important goal of helping shelter anipals to survive and find a loving new furever home.

#NipClub’s already taken all the fun on tour across America and abroad, but this upcoming weekend we plan to go one better, on a trip that can truly be described as out of this world – we heading for the International Space Station!

As you might expect with #NipClub, there a story behind this.

Like many more folks, #NipClub management were saddened by the announcement that the Space Shuttle would fly no more, and at one of those nip-fueled after-hours meetings in @kingtuttifruiti’s office he and club manager @TheNascarKitty decided something should be done about it.

As you can imagine notes of the meeting are a little sparse, but it was decided that #NipClub should buy one of the redundant Shuttles, refurbish it and use it to take #NipClub members to a place the Shuttle’s well-equipped to handle – the International Space Station.

So, some delicate negotiations took place a long, long way behind the scenes. I understand a sizeable amount of nip changed paws, but I have no knowledge of the details – I think it reasonable to assume that all involved would take the Fifth if questioned.

Anyway, #NipClub is now the proud owner of a beautiful refurbished, redesigned, safe and comfortable Space Shuttle. Where astronauts once traveled in functional accommodation, we have luxury. Where it used to accommodate a mere 5 people, it can now hold all the #NipClub patrons lining up to go.

The journey does still involve zero gravity, though, and I imagine weightlessness will get the blame for one or two instances of bad behavior!

Travel plans have now been extended to include a visit to the moon and special excursions to other planets and the asteroid belt (exact details will of course depend on the level of sun-spot activity and the behavior of solar flares).

No effort or expense has been spared to make this a wild and wonderful ride.

And you’re invited!

Lift-off is tomorrow, Saturday July 14 at 2pm EDT (that 7pm UK)… and if all that is not enough to tempt you, here’s the clincher:

World-famous anipal rock band The Shibbering Cheetos are coming with us!

That right – @ShibberingC are aiming to be the first rock band ever to venture into space.

Come and meet them and climb aboard the #NipClub Space Shuttle at 2pm EDT (7pm UK) tomorrow, July 14 and boldly go with #NipClub where no anipal has ever gone before.

Go get your ticket now from #NipClub Ticket Office – space suits are available free while stocks last from NipClub Tailoring Department .

“That’s one paw-step for anipals – a giant leap for all paw-kind!” – NASF (#NipClub Anipals Space Foundation), 2012

#NipClub - 1st Nightclub To Venture Into Space!

#NipClub – 1st Nightclub To Venture Into Space!