DIY Litter Box: Part 2

After picking up my tote (I got an 18 gallon, the bottom of which is about the same footage as my old litter box) I assembled my supplies and got to work.
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What I learned? They lie when they say box cutters will work. Or I don’t know what sort of souped up knives people on the ‘net use, but my cheap little one didn’t do squat (it’s the yellow one in the picture). I spent two nights sawing at it, even tried softening up the plastic with a candle-lighter, and a big fat NOTHING.
          Finally I said screw it and went back to the store. I wanted to spend as little as possible on this project, but this was ridiculous. On more useful internet advice, I bought myself a small soldering iron. Ok, well really a “wood burning kit” because it was the cheapest thing there, but it looked like a soldering iron and works enough like a soldering iron for my purposes so same diff (sorry to all the hardware purists out there). It included the iron, a little stand, and several different tips.
It takes a little finesse, but the trick is to not try to cut through the plastic on the first go. You try that, and it starts to skid off a straight line, get stuck and covered in goo, and result in jagged edges.  Don’t think about it as cutting the plastic so much as melting it out of the way. So after letting it heat up, drag the tip of the iron lightly across the plastic where you want to cut. After you got your guideline, go back over the score you made to actually cut/melt through. Do this a couple of times. The longer you hold the iron in place, the more plastic it melts. Every so often you need to wipe the plastic goo off the tip with a wet towel (if you use paper, make sure it is quite damp to avoid burnage), or it will harden and get stuck there.
          Make sure you do this by a window or in a well ventilated area as the fumes from the melting plastic are icky. Seriously, don’t breathe them in. I accidentally got a few huffs and started a slight headache. Also, after unplugging, let the iron cool in a safe place. I let it cool in the sink away from hands or paws.
          And tada! A new litter box.
          Cost of project: ~$6 for the tote + $18 for the iron = ~$24 total. Not bad. Certainly better than $120 (plus shipping). If you already have a plastic bin or soldering iron around, then you can do this project for free.
          The kitty has been using the new litter box for over a month, and its great. No more mess to clean up and even less litter to sweep up around the box. Think I can call this one a success!
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Tribeca Film Festival: History Lessons [Shorts]

History Lessons was a set of short films ostensibly linked by “a wide range of insights on shaping our world,” according to the official brochure.  I thought that the more obvious common link was the emphasis on how a film chooses to shape the discourse of its subject–how it frames it.  Not a filmmaker here, but what really struck me was what I’m guessing falls under “editing”: the order of the shots, the pairing of voiceovers with imagery, when to bring in a live talking head and when to leave them out.

Read on for individual thoughts on each short