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A Bit of Fluff

The human brain is a remarkable instrument. When faced with things we don’t understand or can’t explain, the brain fills in the missing bits from the billions of informational bytes it has stored

Case in point: our cat came Friday morning as I was leaving for school. Unfortunately, Ralph passed away earlier this year. He was a very large presence in our household for 16 years and has been sorely missed, so it’s not surprising we see him everywhere and even hear him ticking the screen to be let in

I don’t believe in apparitions or ghosts, but I do believe that influence lives on. Ralph had that kind of influence on our lives. For such a small being (he weighed in around 15-25 pounds), he ruled the house. He took up massive amounts of space. Once stretched out, he seemed to dominate our six-foot couch and king-size bed. He seldom spoke, yet always made his presence known. Even when he deigned to grace us with an utterance, it was short, to the point and soft…a far cry from his kitten days when he wouldn’t shut up and his Siamese heritage was very much in evidence. And until Ralph came into our lives, I had no idea cats had a liquid state.

Since his death, we have stumbled over him, been surprised to see him under the futon in the back room, watched him slither between the flower pot and front door as he darted inside and heard him at the window or door asking to be let in. On occasion we’ve spotted him stretched out lion-like on the couch or sprawled on the carpet runner.

Even though we know he’s not there, our brains – long accustomed to having him constantly underfoot – will insist he is still (and ever will be).


Radio Cat

My friend Jim Baum owns a local radio station. We met several years ago when I was a wet-behind-the-ears editor and he was mayor. With a long history of radio broadcasting behind him, Jim became my mentor, teaching me how to manoeuvre my way through small town politics, to become comfortable conversing with movers and shakers, and to ask good, investigative questions.

However, this blog isn’t about my journalist friend….it’s about his cat. Squeak has been taking care of the radio station for as long as Jim has been there. Whether Squeak came with the station or moved in right along with Jim is something I’ve never learned. Squeak is there at 5:30 a.m. every morning to greet Jim and “open up” shop. She seldom ventures outside, preferring to prowl the small three to four room station 24-7. She greets visitors with feline elegance and graciousness and during most of Jim’s interviews at the station she supervises from his desk in a prominent position between interviewer and interviewee. To a lucky few, she extends the honor of a personal “cat bath”.

As any cat person knows, cats tend to make their presence known and felt without saying a word. The last time I was in the station, Squeak sat quietly on the floor at my feet letting me know in no uncertain terms I had usurped her chair. I quickly shared and was reward with the privilege of scratching her chin and ears.

Cats are highly intelligent creatures and every so often one seems to enjoy being intimately involved in the writing process. Squeak supervises Jim’s creative process, adding a comment now and again when he pays more attention to writing than to her.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a cat that shared my love of writing. Long, long ago in a town far, far away, we had a Siamese cat who felt I couldn’t write anything unless she was perched on my shoulders or the back of the desk chair. I have author friends who sometimes moan about their cats hijacking their stories by walking across the keyboard or getting between them and the computer screen. But let’s face it, where would we be without our furry muses? There is something soothing and creative about a purring cat, and even when they are not purring, the simple act of stroking their silky fur has often jumpstarted a story or idea.

Here’s to long life to all radio and writing cats…wherever they may be.






Kicking and screaming

When it comes to technology, I am a cat. I hate change.  I just become proficient on a program or machine and then the company decides to “upgrade.” Read: make more money.  Car companies do this, too; but I’m not forced to get rid of my old clunker as long as it’s running.

I should be used to this by now.  I loved the old Photoshop and Print Master software; until the company decided to buy out the other, ditched the best parts, and kept the things I hated most about the programs.  I had less trouble when Word Perfect upgraded, although I still use an older version instead of the “new, improved” model. It simply didn’t do what I needed the program to do.

Which brings us to Microsoft and their “one size fits all” mentality. I don’t care whether it’s the operating system or Word. Not all users are businesses. Not all users are impressed with their systems, so why force customers to limit themselves to one choice?  I’ve always felt that a world-class company would seek ways for their products to be more user friendly and interface with other products.  After all, I can open Word documents in Word Perfect. Unfortunately, even Word won’t open its own files if they’re beyond a certain date.  Which means, consumers must resave all their old data under the new format–something that is time consuming and costly.

The other reason I hate upgrading my computer or program is re-installing all my programs onto a new machine only to find several won’t work because the processors are too fast.  I resent having to give up favored games or software simply because they’re considered “old.”  I hate to break it to the 20-somethings who despise anything or anyone older than themselves, but you’ll be old one day, too, and being old doesn’t mean useless. I’m reminded of a smart-mouthed Wraith squadron recruit who thought Wedge Antilles was too old to be useful for anything other than training pilots. She didn’t last; he went on to take down major Imperial offensives.

I’m not against new technology. I love it! However, new technology should integrate old technology or incorporate a method to make the transition easier and less painful. After all, men, you wouldn’t throw out that ratty old, comfortable, high school jersey, now would you? 

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