A Look At Creative Cat Grooming a.k.a Feline Fantasy at Intergroom

Posted by admin on Apr 12, 2014 in Animal Oddities, opinion, Strange events, style


I knew that when I moved to America I would be privy to all sorts of things that had previously existed in fiction . I’d heard of creative grooming for dogs, but creative cat styling, a.k.a feline fantasy competitions were a whole new arena.

It’s not easy turning a cat into a flowerbed. Or a devil. Or the pink panther. But for extreme cat groomers — a growing community of pet stylists who compete on a national circuit — the transformation of felines with clippers and dye is worth the long hours of painstaking effort.

creative cat grooming kumpe

In the past twenty years, extreme pet styling has gained some acceptance in the dog grooming world, encompassing seven large scale competitions in the U.S. The cat world however, is new to this phenomenon and stylists are struggling for acceptance. Two organisations- the National Association of Professional Creative Groomers and the National Cat Groomers Institute of America- offer education and training in how to apply creative color. They try and counter PETA’s claims of cruelty with information, but can this battle be won?


These images were taken at Intergroom 2013, an annual animal grooming exhibition in Meadowlands, New Jersey. The cat groomers follow strict rules to make sure that the cats are safe. These include using, “Non-toxic, cat safe color and glues,” and making sure the cats are already groomed before the show. This means that the cats come fully designed, and only touch ups are allowed, potentially so the cats don’t get uncomfotable by all the noise – and all the dogs around.

Christine de Felippo, producer of Intergroom said that these “feline fantasy” competitions have been happening since 2003. “It was our pleasure to introduce the very first Cat Grooming Competition at INTERGROOM 2003.  It was met with great interest, several brave groomers, an enthusiastic Sponsor in Kim Laube, and a perfect Judge in Shirlee Kalstone,” she wrote on Intergroom’s website. The competition went on gold for a few years but then started up again, and 2014 saw more entries than the year before.







The designs were very striking and I was amazed by the creative vision of the artists.  This is definitely still a small field, a sub-subculture of a subculture, and though it is animal friendly inasmuch as the dyes are safe and the cats are cared for, it’s still hard to know whether the cats enjoy it.

SIDE NOTE: I’m starting to think I should have a ‘animal’ section of this website, as in the past few months it seems that a lot of these types of stories are coming up. What do you think?

All images: Copyright Zara Stone


Lessons learned From Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean in: An illustrated guide

Posted by admin on Feb 21, 2014 in books, geekery, lists, opinion

Sheryl Sandberg Job Advice

I recently read Sheryls Sandberg’s Lean In and have a few thoughts I wanted to share about it. First, the book is not half as intimidating as it looks from the outside.  The intimidation wasn’t the title,  the cover photo or the feminist message you knew it contained, but the actual size. The hardback size. Bound, big and heavy. The publishers went for the “serious” cash rather than the mass return, and published a book that looked very big and weighty. It looked long. It felt like it would be worthy. It turned me off.

Fast forward a few months and I downloaded it on my Kindle. And I discovered the book is short. Really short. 24% in and I’m at chapter 5. There are eleven chapters. And it’s SO easy to read. It’s essentially a self help book which uses Sheryl Sandberg’s career as a framework. Sandberg is surprisingly honest and open about her personal failings and her family life. She shared anecdotes about crying at work. She revealed her mistakes. She talked about regrets, such as being insensitive to pregnant women (before she’d experienced it). I learned about how she grew up (who knew she was from Miami?), her parents, her sister. I was impressed with her before, but now I like her.

I feel that the publishers did a disservice by releasing a hardcover copy of the book as a lot of people who could have benefitted from this probably didn’t read it. But now that I have – and enjoyed it – I decided that I’m going to break it down for all the people who are to time poor or lazy.

A lot of the lessons in the book are about the way you look at things. It’s about the angle, not the events. Yes, she acknowledges gender discrimination, wage disparity and social issues. But she doesn’t try and make you change the world. She offers practical, useful advice on how to make the best of a flawed situation, and maybe make some bigger changes along the way. I’ve been quoting certain phrases to people, and that’s pretty rare for me, so the following nuggets are ones that stood out for me personally.


This is a question that Sandberg suggest using when approaching a job role you want. It’s not about you- it’s about what you bring to the company. Read more…

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A surprisingly realistic list of technology predictions for 2014

Posted by admin on Jan 3, 2014 in geekery, lists, opinion, technology, Yum


We hoped for many things in 2013. We were promised these by tech companies, by journalists (oops), by advertisers. Did we get them? Hell no. Where’s the 3DTV in our living room? Why aren’t we 3D printing clothes at home? Why on earth are we still having to fly to Los Angeles from NYC; just where is Elon Musk’s magnetic levitation train? God knows.

Still, we have hope, we have faith, we have wallets.

Technology will continue to change our lives, and we look forward to 2014, a year of immense scientific discovery, technovation and stuff we can never afford.

Here’s the top five technology predictions for 2014 of things that will realistically happen in the tech world. (Originally published on Fusion.net)

3D printing food will become commonplace…but you still won’t be able to afford it

This year 3D printing food became a bit closer to reality. We were already used to 3D printed fashion and had been impressed with the variety of designers out there offering this to us, but food was still a long way away. Sure, we knew that Google 3D printed pasta at their Mountain View cafeteria, but how did that apply to regular folk? However, this year we had NASA announce they would 3D print pizzas in space and saw the launch of Foodini, a prototype 3D food printer that can be used to make multiple things such as ravioli and chocolate.

Downsides are that it prints one ingredient at a time (boo) but it’s miles above previous 3D food printer prototypes which had complicated parameters about what they could and couldn’t make. This isn’t going to be mass produced anytime soon, but as the 3D printer movement got so HUGE over the last year, with hundreds of brands now in the space (MakerBot, ForrmLabs etc.) the cost had lowered so much that you can buy a basic 3D printer for $500.

“With 3D printing food we already have factories and machine parts in place,” said Marcelo Coelho, a research affiliate at MIT who designed a 3D printing chocolate machine called the Cornucopia at MIT as part of his graduate project and who gave a talk on Digital Gastronomy to Microsoft last year. “The challenge is to take a machine used in a factory and enable it to be used in a kitchen, hundreds of ingredients to manufacture.”

Expect to see a resurgence in 3D printed food appliances and associated “food materials” all over the media and Kickstarter. Just don’t expect to be able to afford one…yet. Read more…

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The Five Technology Lies you’re guilty of

Posted by admin on Jul 16, 2012 in lists, opinion, technology

Technology has brought us many things; the inability to ever get honestly lost anymore, dinner parties where mobiles get their own place setting and an encyclopedia of knowledge at our fingertips  (thus forbidding us the option of successfully cheating at Scrabble). With all these amazing additions to out lives comes one major downside- the inability to ever be fully turned off- this wired world means we are always connected, and this can be a little bit draining, as no one likes worried phonecalls if you haven’t updated Facebook for two days. It’s hard for people to lie low whilst living in the world 2.0, so in order to cope with the unwanted infringement of private lives a few technology lies have evolved which are hard to disprove but easy to use. Shake your head at that and deny you’re anything less than honest in your dealing with folks? Right, how about when your Mum calls or you’re required to be a plus one for the birthday of someone you hate? I don’t think the following will come as any surprise to you, but it might make you feel better to realize that other people equally embrace escapism from the world by doing the exact same things. Try not to fret too much at these tips as inevitably they’ll all be redundant in 5 years when tech evolves. Here are the five most common technology lies told- as chosen by me (and possibly used on you all at various times).

‘I never got your email’ a.k.a Your email went into my Junk folder

Occasionally really important emails DO go into the spam filter, but in all likelihood MOST of them don’t, so if I haven’t replied to you it’s because I don’t want to. I’d never say that though, so when I get one of those awful pesky follow up ‘did you get my email’ emails, the little white spam filter lie slips easily out and keeps everyone happy. This can be foiled with the sneaky ‘alert when opened’ software many Outlook users enable, but that just means the emailer will be judging you, rather than calling you on your bullshit.

You also have to think what their motivation is- if they know you have opened their email and not replied, surely they should take the hint? On a personal level this would be rude, but in business where a high volume of emails get sent everyday, this generally means that their email was irrelevant or not priority at the moment. Follow ups  just serve to demoralize each side, and can only foster feelings of resentment. If it’s a friend you’re lying too, well, I’m not that interested in their baby photos either- that’s what Facebook is for, so go put that gooey first step/first smile/first poop pics up there so I can ignore them at my leisure and not fill up my inbox with them. Read more…

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Laser Eye Surgery- What you need to know

Posted by admin on Mar 29, 2012 in beauty, opinion, technology

I have wanted to have laser eye surgery for the last 20 years. I first started wearing glasses when I was 8 years old, and have hated them ever since. I progressed onto contact lenses as soon as my Mum gave me permission, but though they’re great I do have some issues. They’re costly, my eyes get dry and I can’t wear them 24/7 or swim with them. I dabbled with day/night lenses (you take them out once a month) but didn’t agree with them, and thought longingly about laser eye surgery.

I had my first consultation four years ago (you should wait till you are in your twenties and your eyes have stabilized) and was told that I wasn’t suitable.  I have a high prescription (-7.5 Dioptres) but this alone wasn’t the main factor, as I also have thin corneas, and combined this simply wasn’t a safe option. I sadly gave up on my dream, but recently I decided to go for a new opinion- techniques have progressed and I might be candidate now. I wanted to be prepared so I researched all the types of laser eye surgery that are now on offer, and though I would share this with you. There’s a lot of information out there and some of it can be quite confusing, so I’ll try and decode the laser eye surgery process in this piece.

There are currently THREE types of laser eye surgery performed in the UK, as well as contact less implantation (called ICL)  for those who aren’t suitable for any of these options.


PRK stands for photorefractive keratectomy. This used to be the most common laser technique till newer ones were introduced, and this generally is the one offered by those clinics when you see those ‘£200 per eye’ deals. It involves the DR removing some of the cells on the epithelium (this covers the surface of the cornea. It’s very thin and is quick to heal when the cornea is injured).  It involves no cutting of the cornea, but creating a ‘scratch’ along the surface, which is then treated with the excimer laser to help reshape the eye. The fact that you don’t need to create a flap means the eye will heal more cleanly, but the recovery time will be around a week, so you should prepare for a week off normal activities. Complications include infection, scarring, over correction and devloping astigmatism. Issues with light such as sensitivity and halos can be a concern. Corneal haze is the most common, where you’d experience some objects with a light haze around them. Post surgery bandage contact lenses are placed in the eye, which are taken out around 4 days later. Vision is blurry while they are in but tends to improve quickly when they are out. PRK is not performed at many places nowadays as most clinics offer LASIK and LASEK instead. Read more…

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The iPad 3 queue and why I just don’t get it

Posted by admin on Mar 15, 2012 in opinion, technology

Today I passed a number of people waiting outside the Apple store on London’s Regent Street. These people were following the great British tradition of standing patiently in line, but these guys had brought props. Folding chairs, blankets, water bottles- they were there for the long haul. The queue was so that they could be the first to purchases the iPad 3 which officially goes on sale on March 16th in the UK.

The bizarre thing about this for me is that I seriously can’t understand what they hope to gain by this. The iPad 3 is available for pre order online and starts shipping in the UK tomorrow. I don’t know how much stock local Apple stores are going to get, but even if they sell out completely on day one, they’ll be replenished within three weeks. If you’re super keen to get an iPad 3 it’s a fair bet to say that you already own an iPad- or an iPad 2. In which case, queuing in line merely means you have wasted a silly amount of hours to upgrade to something that looks and feels pretty much the same as your current model, but with a slightly better camera and a sharper screen (a.k.a retina display).

There are some things that I understand queuing for- for instance, people who wait all night to get the latest Gears of War. Though I’m personally not a fan, I understand that if you love the game you’re super excited to play the latest release so you may queue all night so you can get a copy and THEN RUN HONE AND PLAY IT. Sure, you could wait a week extra, but if you really really love the game it’s understandable you want to play it the very instant you can. Maybe even go online and do some co-op with friends who are equal fans and have queued with you.

If the final Robert Jordan (ghostwritten by Brandon Sanderson)  book was suddenly released and I knew there would be only 100 copies in the country I’d run out and go wait in line – but if I knew that a week later I could get the book without ten hours in the cold, well, I’d probably hang on. Queues for high street designer collaborations like H&M Versace and Target Missoni are equally understandable- the stores purposefully only stock a limited amount to boost desirability, covetability and eBay racketeers sales. If you really love those designers and can’t afford the full price, queuing for some hours seems like an OK trade-off for some great gear.

What does an iPad 3 owner get for their hours of waiting? Apple doesn’t reward them with free cases or a new iPhone; they simply get an iPad that runs exactly like their old one but with a better display. Once they’ve run home and charged it they will use it EXACTLY as they used their last iPad- which is surfing, Facebook, Twitter, and ASOS- nothing has changed for them. If you’ve pre ordered it, you’ll have to wait around 2-3 weeks (current estimate) but will life really be that terrible if you’re not playing Angry Birds in HD? Read more…


The five top technological trends at CES 2012

Posted by admin on Jan 29, 2012 in lists, news, opinion, technology, Television

The year 2011 was all about the tablet computer, we saw the first ever affordable (and good) Android options launch, and people went gaga over the idea of 4G and LTE and the BlackBerry PlayBook. This year, the atmosphere was a little different on the show floor. Yes, we did have a lot of new products coming out, but the main points seemed to be more about the long term trends than any particular product per se. I found this new way of assessing technology pretty interesting however as ways in which the average consumer could integrate some of the trends slowly started to emerge. Here’s my overview of the top five tech trends at CES 2012- let’s see if any of these make it into your home or work this year.

The year of the connected TV

We’ve heard mumblings about connected TVs for some time now (and you can read my article on future predictions here) but there generally have been two barriers to them going mainstream. One has been the pricepoint as most people simply aren’t ready to invest in a new LCD TV so soon, and the second barrier has been confusion over the services offered and the many complex buttons on the remote controls. This year is a little different, as not only were all the big names (SHARP, LG, and SAMSUNG) offering up web ready televisions but they’d also started integrating some pretty helpful features.

I’m talking about TVs that come with an integrated forward facing camera installed, TV’s that feature an upgradeable card slot so that you don’t need to replace the hardware and TV’s that offer remote assistance where the helpdesk can actually program your TV for you if you’re struggling (Sharp Aquos is offering this service). We’re also seeing super slim bezels on offer from a lot of brands, with some a mere 3mm thick- very gasp worthy. One of the new TV areas I’m intrigued by is the increase in peripheral devices, as these allow you to upgrade your TV without buying a new one- such as snap on cameras for Skypeing. Read more…

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