Its Hard To Teach An Old Cat

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”

One Reply to “Its Hard To Teach An Old Cat”

  1. This is a test… this is only a test. In the event of a real emergency we cats would be up a tree without a blog
    It worked we have mastered another small part of WordPress

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