Fur Carpet

My first memory of a pet was a grey cat that showed up on our back porch one spring morning. She was beautiful. She was a soft, cloudy-foggy grey with dark stripes running through her coat like a tiger. Her huge, pale green eyes were rimmed in black as if someone had put eyeliner on her. She also had stripes that looked like an ‘M’ on her forehead which made me think of a crown.  (It was many years later that I learned the ‘M’ meant she was a tabby cat. That’s not a breed, but a description of her coat.) She had the palest pink nose, shaped like a triangle, and pinkish lips that were so pale they were almost white. Her darker pink tongue was very rough feeling when she licked me. She was also my introduction into what very sharp, very white teeth looked like.

She always moved slowly and gracefully as if time didn’t matter to her at all. She was elegant in her movements and I felt certain that in some other life she surely must have been a queen. Regal. That’s how she moved…as if she were royalty. I believe ballerinas could learn a lot by watching her move. My grandmother came up with several names, but they were cute, not regal. It took a few weeks, but I finally came up with a name as regal as she was…a little drumroll please…Penelope!

Penelope answered when I called her name so I’m pretty sure either it was her name, or she liked it better than whatever her real name was. Even though she could be rather aloof at times she rapidly became my best friend. When I was sad, I could scoop her up and bury my face in her fur while I cried. She never complained. When I was happy, I could scoop her up and dance her around and around. She only threw up the first time. After that, I made fewer circles and in return she held her food down. This new understanding worked quite well for both of us.

For all the in-between times, I could just sit, and she would crawl into my lap, curl up and begin purring. Or I could lay in the grass or in the hammock and she would crawl onto my tummy and begin purring. Purring is such a cool thing. I tried for years to duplicate purring to no avail. I’ve always wished I could purr, but never found a way to do so and eventually, being a wife, mom and working took care of my purr-practice time. Now that I’m retired, I no longer have a desire to purr. I guess that’s another perk to being old. 😉

Penelope grew over the course of summer, and got quite jolly looking … until one day, she began making strange noises, not purring at all, and she left me and didn’t come when I called her. I looked everywhere for her. All around the house, in her favorite trees where she would perch and surveil her domain. I looked in the white barn where crates were stored. I even went downhill to the cold-apple-storage which was off-limits to me. I couldn’t find Penelope anywhere. I was so very sad. I cried copious tears believing she had gone away to die.

The next morning, grandpa came in and said he’d found Penelope and he took me out to visit her. She was in the white barn, but she was so well hidden I don’t know how my grandpa ever found her. She wasn’t alone. She had seven beautiful, tiny kittens with her. One was a calico and one was a reddish-orange tiger stripe. I don’t remember what colors the others were because those two had captured my heart. I was told not to handle the kittens, but since Penelope didn’t seem to mind, I handled them every chance I got. Not all of them, of course, just the two that I was claiming. The calico was mostly white, but she had reddish tiger striped patches and a few small, grey, tiger-striped patches.  Since most calico’s are female, I named her Penny Red after her mom and her red patches. The red, tiger-striped one I named Tiger Red after my favorite soda pop.

Those three females had kittens twice a year. Sometimes I could find their kitten hideouts, sometimes not and then I wouldn’t see the kittens until they brought them up to the back porch for food and a dish of milk. I named my favorites but kind of ignored the rest. I spent many hours with bloodied hands from grabbing wild kittens and hanging on no matter how they fought until they grew used to my touch and would allow me to pet them without complaint.

One morning in late spring I heard the screen door being slammed repeatedly and my grandpa cursing loudly. I jumped out of bed and flew down the stairs to see what on earth was going on. As I rounded the corner into the kitchen, I could see him looking out the screen door and banging it. When I asked what was going on, he growled that we had the only fur-covered porch in the entire state!

I immediately thought about mink fur and figured we must be rich! I know, but I was only 11 or so and raised during the Beverly Hillbilly’s era. It only took me half-a-minute to realize he meant ‘cat-fur covered’. Over the following year, cats disappeared gradually, except for my favorite three. By the time I was 16, all the cats were gone. I mourned my three who were buried on the property as they found their demise at the hands of cars on the road . in front of the house

As an adult, I developed allergies to cats and haven’t been able to have a cat for a very, very long time. I still remember those three after all these years…and two others that were special in my life – Pyewacket and Whisper. They are both deserving of their own stories.

Now, before you feel sorry for my children, let me say that while I didn’t have cats anymore, they did. The rule was that they had to rinse them in the tub once a week and keep them upstairs. My hubby and I took a bedroom downstairs, just off the stairway door so the cats wouldn’t make my allergy flare up. While I can’t remember the names of my kids cats, I think they might remember once they read this post.

Algorithms Suck

In the last few years I’ve noticed a LOT of young people on Social Media claim to be suffering from burnout. I’m not a doctor so I don’t know if they truly are or if they are merely claiming to suffer burnout because they don’t know what else to call it.  Is suffering burnout a new fad thing that I haven’t heard of? Since I don’t know the answer to that question, I’m going to approach this by taking people at their word. So….what on earth can be causing these (30- something people) to suffer burnout?

Listen, I know I’m an oldster and it’s easy to think that I’m out-of-the-loop, I don’t-understand-how-it-is-now,  I’m too old-fashioned-to-understand-the-Internet and how-Social-Media-works, or how important it is to be “an Influencer”. While that may all be true to some extent, it also means that I have lived through a time when the 30-somethings weren’t even born yet. I know, from experience, a different way of doing things. I grew up in a time when kids had to be face-to-face to play a game, people spent time outside and looked at each other. Chatting was something we did on the phone or over a table while sipping our favorite beverage; chatting was not something we had to read.

Granted, the Internet has made some things incredibly easy, and Social Media has allowed us to be closer to, and more involved with, our friends and family across the country, this digital highway is definitely fabulous —but it needs to not take over our lives. Let’s look at “burnout” with these young people. You kids are inheriting a sick world, and I apologize for that because my generation was part of the problem and not a big enough part of the solution. I know job security is a term you aren’t familiar with. I watch you kids (yes, at under 40 you are still a kid to me) putting out “content” at a rate that keeps you constantly busy.

I admit I’ve slowed down a bit, but you are cranking out “content” at a rate that I can barely fathom. The only way I can see you doing what you do is if you are giving up on “living” and putting it off until you’ve “made it”. I fear you are going without proper sleep, food, hydration or recreation. We all need to give ourselves room to breathe and to acknowledge ourselves as human beings…not human doings.

We need to look around us at this beautiful world and realize we are connected to it, to each other and to all the life forms on this planet. Please, take time to connect and reconnect and rejuvenate. Don’t let the algorithms strip you of your humanity. We have a richness of thought, feelings and human experience that algorithms cannot have. This marvelous superhighway of the Internet has also created some bad things that didn’t exist in such big numbers before. Stress for one.

The stress created by Social Media is insane. That’s right…insane. It has the potential to drive anyone who becomes enslaved to it insane also. Different social media platforms began (I think) as a means for people of like minds to share what they loved. However, now, thanks to big-business, big-government and big-money the Internet is no longer a place that affords easy, social times for people who live far apart. From what I’ve noticed, social media is becoming a bigger advertising venue than TV, magazines, or radio ever were.

Years ago, a lovely little Social Media channel began, actually two began. The first one I was introduced to was Facebook which allowed me to be in contact with my siblings on the other side of the country. We could share information and photos almost immediately which gave us the opportunity to stay in touch in a way that was not available before. We were able to work on ancestry information without having to meet in person to share info. This saved us a lot of time and some money in travel expenses.

Instagram came along very quickly after (or maybe beside and I just didn’t learn of it until after) and provided a great way for artists and photographers to share their work with one another. It was great to get feedback from others with the same passion. Fast Forward to cell phones that take pictures and access the Internet and now there are apps to do just about everything. They make it easier to access the World Wide Web than our computers do, and they are always at our fingertips.

I understand the concept of wanting and needing to make money. I don’t mind an occasional ad… but instead of an occasional ad from a legitimate advertiser we now see almost an ad every two to three images and sometimes there will be three ads in a row. This is right on target with prime-time TV.

There are several young women whose entire feed is about helping you get thousands of followers who will engage with your posts and help you create an income stream. (By letting advertisers piggyback on your posts I would assume.) Judging by the number and variety of the ads I see in my stream; advertising may be the main function of IG very soon.

Back to the IG “experts” (these young girls) talk about posting every day, mini-blogging in your IG stream, and sometimes posting multiple times a day, in multiple platforms, plus a separate blog or vlog that you are active in at least once or twice a week. You’d think that might be enough but no… you also need to add a podcast and/or YouTube video (also being posted at least weekly), and a “live stream”, etc.

Is it any wonder that a human can’t keep up with all this?  Do you begin to see how “burn-out” happens to young, healthy people? The most important thing to remember is this…these social media sites are run by algorithms (computer programs) on machines. They are not run by people.

I repeat… They are not run by people.

You really need to work to find a way to connect to a human if you have a problem. There are no phone numbers listed and it takes some dedication to find an email address or snail mail address. The algorithms are designed to push into the limelight those who are posting often enough (with high enough follower numbers) to be of value to advertisers. They are also pushing the posts of the advertisers themselves (those who’ve paid handsomely) for the privilege of being pushed into noticeable places. To push your account and posts into the top positions so that they are in many feeds and they come up to the top when anyone searches for any of the things advertised takes huge dedication.

“This” is designed by companies who can throw multiple employees at the algorithms to stay on top of the Social Media search engines and feed machines. It’s not impossible to break through that, but it becomes increasingly more impossible to find followers because everything is built to keep the small account small and to feed and funnel viewers to corporate accounts.

As tempting as it all is, and as seriously as I need to create something that will provide us with residual income to flesh out our retirement; I still hold out against the algorithm. I am not a machine. I need to eat, use the facilities, sleep, and do some things for relaxation and enjoyment. Sometimes I need to help my adult children and sometimes I need to spend time with my grandchildren. Once you leave the high-energy 30-something age, you begin to feel your mortality and realize that you ARE a Human Being, not a Human Doing. This one life that we all have will be gone far too quickly. You don’t want to be lying on your deathbed wondering what happened to your life, and if you aren’t very careful where you spend your time, you could be.

So…to you young people out there…fight the machine, or the man, or whatever it’s being called today…fight the algorithm, force these social networks to give more than they take. Refuse to play the game of the advertisers and big corporate accounts. You have the power, because if you aren’t “buying in” they’ll need to do something else. If corporations aren’t getting clicks from the social media networks, they’ll quit paying to be there. That means, don’t click on those links within your social media accounts to buy something…go out of IG, or whatever site you’re on, and type in the actual search bar to find what you want and then get info or make your purchase from there.

This protects you also by making sure you are going to an actual website instead of getting ripped off and believe me, I’ve been burned twice by this crap. So be smarter than I am. Don’t click on advertisements within social media. Whenever you can, thumb your nose at Social Media convention and don’t write the mini blog, after all…a picture is worth a thousand words, so a good image only needs a few words of introduction or explanation. Let’s stick together and help each other. The Corporate Monster needs to be sized down and we small people with talent need to be noticed and appreciated. WE have rights and together we have the power to change the world.

 

Namaste.

 

Attention! Calling all inventors…

As I sit here, suffering from a summer cold (blechkt! the worst!) I have solved the world energy crisis.

Now that I have the perfect fuel and the free source…I need an inventor or inventors who can figure out the specifics.

Mucus!

During a cold, the human body can produce incredible amounts of the stuff. There must be a way to harvest this crap for fuel…burning it up would be the perfect way to get rid of it and as long as the body chooses (or is forced) to produce it by the bushel during a summer cold….we need to put it to work.

Surely, nature, in its perfection, wouldn’t create something that didn’t have a fabulous use. Everything is in balance…I’m sure it’s just a matter of getting the right genius on the problem at hand….so here it is…let the best genius succeed. Oh, and when you do, a small footnote that leads back to this blog would be greatly appreciated.

Namaste.

Orlando…Kalamazoo…and all the rest. My sympathy to all…

Tragedy strikes again.

People killed.

People injured.

Shock!

Grief!

People’s lives changed forever by loss.

The same old arguments ensue. Blame Continue reading

Attention! Calling all inventors…

As I sit here, suffering from a summer cold (blechkt! the worst!) I have solved the world energy crisis.

Now that I have the perfect fuel and the free source…I need an inventor or inventors who can figure out the specifics. Continue reading

Pipe Dreams

Do you remember when grownups would ask you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

That puts a lot of pressure on some children, those serious little souls who contemplate adult matters at a very young age. Some children look back blankly because hey!, what are you talking about? They’re just trying to figure out if they are allowed to put that boogie under the arm of the couch since they aren’t allowed to eat it….after all, they are kids Continue reading

Buzzards

Interesting birds, buzzards. I’ve seen them soaring aloft for most of my life but never in the numbers I have since moving to my current home. I remember hearing about the buzzards circling over something dying from the old westerns like “Gunsmoke“, “Paladin”, which it appears was actually called “Have Gun Will Travel“,  “Bonanza“.  I knew it was how you could find someone who had wandered off and was in peril from either “Sea Hunt“, “High Noon“, or “Lassie“…maybe from all of them. Continue reading