I was out in the front yard tarping my utility trailer last evening when I heard a lot of car horns honking in front of my house. There was a small black car stopped in the street and the driver was out of the car chasing a small creature. As it was “rush hour” there was a line of cars blowing their horns (and their Cool) behind him. The tiny creature ran when he approached so he jumped into his car and stopped about 20 feet from the last spot where he again left his car and approached the small critter. The little animal again dashed away toward the end of my driveway and was hunkered down against the curb across the street. Seeing a striped body and tail thought it might be a baby raccoon, but as I started walking down my driveway and saw it was a tiny, terrified little tabby kitten huddled up against the curb. I walked across the street ever so slowly so as not to panic the little cat. I approached from the side as the driver walked over and picked up the kitten and asked “is this your kitten”? I answered “no but someone needs to look after it” He said he “just wanted to save its life” as he quickly passed the tiny creature into my hands, jumped into his car and took off. After reviewing the security camera recordings I saw that some poor excuse for a human being had thrown her from a car at 35 miles an hour only a few minutes before. It hurts and enrages me that someone could be so bereft of kindness, compassion and decency to commit such an act. Especially against such a small defenseless creature who only sin was being born. I took her inside and held her in my arms for the best part of an hour until she stopped shaking and began to purr. So it appears that fate has sent me another little companion.
After allowing her to calm down I gave her some food, I had to use my finger as it appears she was not yet weaned. After a bit she ate some then settled down in my arms and appeared to fall asleep. A few hours ago she was part of a litter… playing, sleeping and nursing with her litter mates. Now she is a orphan who has found her place in spite of the cruelty of mankind. She has had a rough 12 hours I would guess, but has now found her “forever home” here with our pack.
She had a good night and a good breakfast this morning. I have decided to call her “Neko” which is cat in Japanese. She is truly a Maneki Neko or “lucky cat” as it’s amazing she did not get run over by impatient commuters. I am a “lucky Cat” as well for having her come into our life from such a potentially dangerous situation. This now brings our Critter compliment here at “Cats Meow” headquarters to five (not including the “Big Cat”).
“Hello World!” is the title of the sample post that comes preinstalled on WordPress. Now WordPress is an “open source” software which means it is free. But as I stated in both my first and the last post it’s a very, very basic platform. One must add a number of additional little bits of software called “plug-ins” and “widgets” to make it work well and these items are mostlyNOT FREE! At least not free with any level of real functionality and many of these bits of software are outrageously overpriced. WordPress is like a traveling carnival where the operator rents an empty lot, sets up the tents and puts up a “Free Admission” sign. Then rents the tents to the “contest booth con men” who then try to strip the locals of as much money as they can. A bit like buying a game of Monopoly and discovering that the tokens, dice, currency and cards are not included. But you may purchase each of these Monopoly items separately for a exorbitant sum of money. The dice will be $79, the tokens $15 each, the money and cards for only $129 unless you want the pro version for $199. Worse still these items all come from separate sources.
I am a poor old cat, retired, living on an “oh so very small” government pension. This cat can ill afford to give up eating for a week to buy a plug-in that will allow me to display pictures in a simple mosaic gallery. Which is what brings me to the word “grift”…… Merriam-Webster defines grift as “to obtain money illicitly (as in a confidence game)”. Now that might seem a bit severe, but luring someone to download and install a bit of allegedly “free” software only to find that it won’t do all it was advertised to do unless you purchase the “full” or “pro” version is a con game in this old cats head. As a younger cat I actually wrote software, created add-on’s for Microsoft Train Simulator and offered these to all for free on trainsim.com as well as my own website. My fine locomotives, freight cars and scenery items were there for all to download and enjoy. When I discovered some of my items being used as part of a commercial add-on package I threatened these vendors with legal action forcing them to remove my code from their product. I did however allow them to inform their customers that they could download that portion from trainsim.com or my website and incorporate it into the game.
But once again I digress (we old cats do that a lot). While WordPress is a great open source platform the developers could easily write a few more bits of code to enhance the functionality of the platform. That would of course cut into the profits of the producers of the pricey add-on’s. The big cat has however discovered that under all this WYSIWYG and “drag and drop” ease of use software is code, very familiar code. That wonderful HTML, XML and PHP that the cat learned while building the first site in 2002. I have already “tweaked” that code to allow for a better viewing experience at The Rainbow Bridge. Now this old cat is a bit rusty on coding so it’s going a bit slow, but refreshing these skills has been invigorating. Some thought has been given to reviving these skills and perhaps offering truly free, fully functional plug-in’s to the WordPress community. But this old cat is tired and a bit lazy so probably won’t. But that’s just an idea as relearning all those skills lost to time and age may be challenging (that “teaching an old cat” thing again).
Well that’s about all for now, enough “hissing” and “growling” for one post. Sorry we have no gems of “wisdom” nor tales of times gone by but this is what’s on this old cats mind today. When did “free” stop actually meaning without cost or obligation and become a crass marketing tool or a grifter’s hook?
This is the rather aggravated old cat saying “Meout”
Second post from the Old Wet Cat, still learning the WordPress software this hosting site requires. The last website I built was in 2002 using Microsoft frontpage. I learned HTML and XML and might very well be making better progress with those skills mastered nearly two decades ago. WordPress the preferred blog & web building software in popular use today is a rather complicated amalgam of different bits of independent software packets that requires a lot of add-on’s to the basic platform. It reminds me of those once trendy “build your own pizza” restaurants where you are given a disk of pizza dough then presented with a table full of hundreds of toppings, sauces and add-on’s. I have yet to see if “salmon surprise” works well with pineapple and anchovies or if I will be stuck with plain old cheese. I understood the all in one package of programs like Frontpage and Dreamweaver. It took some time to learn the coding and programming skills involved in using it, but those skills were applicable on every web platform and that knowledge became yours. But that was then and this is now, old skills are now redundant… gone the way of real bound paper books, telephone booths and black & white TV.
I’m an old cat, I remember black & white television with the signal coming down from a big wire antenna on the roof or a set of “rabbit ears” if you lived in or close to a big city. There were only six channels… ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and one or two local stations, in a few areas there were some UHF channels which is where the first “infomercials” appeared. That was back before mind numbing blocks of repetitive commercials assaulted your senses every 10 minutes. Shows were sponsored by a company or corporation and the announcer would introduce the product. This was done in a dignified manner Presenting… “The Game Show Hour”… brought to you by those wonderful folks at Proctor & Gamble makers of many fine products for your home”, then the show went on. Somewhere in the middle the announcer would come on and spend a minute or so talking about how well the sponsors soap performed and the show would then continue. Finally in the last few minutes of the show the host would appear to thank the audience for having watched the presentation and inviting them to “tune in again” next week for another exciting episode of the show.
I’m an old cat, I still prefer the feel of a hardbound paper book, the smell of the pages,the building expectation of the next chapter and being able to leave a small card as a bookmark. I like being able the leaf back to a bookmarked page to review a fact I may have missed or review the scene described in an earlier chapter and apart from all that a real book’s battery never dies. As a child I loved the old small public library in our little village, I remember the huge polished oak tables, the rows of bookshelves and the long polished counter where the librarians would help us check out books. I remember the carpeted floors, the small wood chairs and tables in the children’s section with the high peaked wood ceilings. I remember the smell of all the printed volumes, the polished hardwood railings in the stairwell. I recall learning the Dewey Decimal System from Ms. Simpson the librarian so I could easily find those wonderful books and the fantastic wealth of knowledge they contained. I would often walk the carpeted aisles of the fiction section just looking for interesting titles, stopping now and again to read the back-cover of a fascinating novel. It was there I discovered Mr. Charles Dickens and became a willing wanderer in the world of Victorian England he so skillfully reconstructed in my young mind. The library was quiet, safe and warm. A welcoming, wonderful place without fear or noise, yelling or violence, to me a place of refuge from a very troubled home. But that was then and this is now.
My last trip to a public library was a disheartening experience, the wonderful rows of bookshelves had been replaced by plastic tables filled with rows of computers. The silence replaced with the clickity clack of a few dozen keyboards. Young folks wearing headphones gazing glassy eyed at the small rectangular screens. Watching abridged videos of classic books presented in graphic detail leaving nothing to the imagination, leaving nothing for the imagination to do and sadly no path for the mind to grow. Books made us think, helped us learn to write, to read, to wonder and dream. The poems of Dylan Thomas, Edgar Allen Poe, W.B. Yeats, Robert Frost and T. S. Eliot. The twisted philosophy of Machiavelli in writing the “Prince” or the passion of Tolstoy in the drafting of “War and Peace”. The timeless philosophy and fantasy of Hermann Hesse with “Siddhartha” or “A Journey to the East”. The Americana of John Steinbeck with his classic “Travels With Charley” or “Cannery Row”. The folksy wisdom of Hemingway as he wrote “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, “The Old Man And The Sea” or “The Pearl”. The boundless imagination of Arthur C. Clarke, H. G. Welles or Robert Heinlein crafting their science fiction classics. I could go on and on listing the literary greats of years gone by. Often we old cat’s may be prone to go “on and on”, digressing into a boring trip down memory lane. But in a real book the characters were developed in our minds as the chapters unfolded, not presented in the credits with the names and faces of famous actors. The story was not abridged nor “edited for content” or to “run in the time allocated”. One could devour the story at leisure or rapidly burn through the paragraphs and pages. Books were then and still are a wonderful, timeless treasure equally available to both the rich and poor… no subscription required. But that was then and this is now… and every now and again I truly miss “then“.
This is the rather melancholy old wet cat saying “Meout”