Post 574: Happy Halloween!

My two black kitties will be safe tonight because they will be inside. Not all black kitties are so lucky on Halloween.


Dougy (top) and Andy wish you a happy Halloween! Be safe.

Post 573: Too many choices…argh!!!

I try to be open-minded about change, especially when it promises to bring a huge improvement over the status quo. So, when I received a letter from my cable and Internet provider telling about changes that will mean all digital HD television, over 200 channels to chose from (including dozens of new ones added to my current plan), and download rates that’ll make your eyes tear up they create such a vortex of data bursting out of the ether, you’d think I’d be happy! Whew!

Actually, I wasn’t pleased because it means rearranging a whole room to gain access to another electrical source for the new box or my DVD player, whichever works out better in the newly created space where one electrical device will have to go.

It means relearning where my favorite shows are in the line up.

It means figuring out what to do with old technology I’d set aside because the machine was a high-end one, one that no longer has a purpose, though it was very expensive when I bought it. (I learned my lesson there: my DVD player is so basic and cheap, I’d have no problem tossing it in a few years.)

I regularly watch five channels. They are somewhere on this page of the new line up coming to my television sets on November 11th.

I regularly watch five channels. They are somewhere on this page of the new line up coming to my television sets on November 11th.

It means having all of my little and big boxes accessible only through the Charter universal remote that I find confusing, frustrating, and needlessly complicated to a degree I actually threw it one time when I couldn’t get the damn television to just turn on. I am not a technophobe, but I am an enemy of gizmos meant to simplify life that don’t. (One remote for all machines, each manufactured by a different manufacturer, each with a code on the remote, a code that may or may not allow you to use all functions of each machine! What a wonderful idea!)

The cable guy comes today between 8:00 and 10:00. I know the guy, and he is very punctual, competent, someone I’ve had here on other occasions, with good results. He knows his job. My cats like him. What can go wrong?

Today, after the cable guy completes the job, I’ll be alone in my place, stuck with two Charter remotes to figure out instead of one. Only the new one also will have to operate my DVD player as well. Sxxx! I guess I won’t be buying any DVDs for the time being. Or I’ll watch them on my computer, not a great idea because of wear and tear on that drive. Or, as a last resort, figure out where I put that little portable DVD player I used before I bought a DVD player for my television.

The letter from Charter included another 8.5″ X 14″ sheet, printed on both sides, with the new line up in alphabetical order. I can’t grasp the magnitude of what it tells me, but I think it is to help me find my favorite channels more easily on the list above. Hunh?! I think it also might show that my expanded basic plan doesn’t offer me every channel on these two long lists.

Is this all?

Is this all?

Thank goodness! I only watch five channels, and the expanded list is incomprehensible to a guy who remembers when television came to this area in the 1950s. We got KDUH out of Hay Springs and KSTF out of Scottsbluff. We were one of the early places cable came in, thanks to an executive with the cable company who lived in my town before he went to Denver and became very successful promoting cable television. Early adopters of cable got an extra slew of Denver stations, bringing the total available stations close to 10, I think it was. Ten stations! How could they possibly watch all 10 stations? Too many choices! The sets then could get up to 13 channels, and cable practically used them all up!

See why I’m a bit over-whelmed?

Keep up with this load of options, and you'll be found, dead, unwashed in years, 900 pounds heavy, surrounded by empty home delivery pizza boxes and two liter pop bottles.

Keep up with this load of options, and you’ll be found dead, unwashed, 900 pounds heavy, surrounded by empty home delivery pizza boxes and two liter pop bottles.

Oh, I’m whining now. I hate change but I always get over it quickly. In short order, I’ll be entranced by the HD television images. I bought new televisions back when the new standard went into effect, but HD was an extra charge for those few HD channels available. I’ve been watching low resolution images, consequently, on high resolution machines. Now, my cable company’s going 100% digital. I’m “forced” to adopt to better images and some other features of the expanded service that promise to make my head spin.

All in all, though, the thing I’m most excited about is improvements in the Internet service, with a four times faster download time in the works. I’d tell you the number, but you’d feel bad about your Internet service, it’ll be that phenomenal!

So why am I whining? Aw, yes! Too many choices.


I note that I am not paid by Charter to mention their new services, and will, in fact, continue to pay a nice sum each month to use them. 

For that matter, KSTF and KDUH, still provide television to this area. I get no money for mentioning them. I don’t watch either channel anyway.


Post 572: the lion sleeps tonight

There are songs that set me on edge. Perhaps they played 2397 times too often on the radio when they first came out or they just have some compelling hook that turns them into torment, that song you can’t get out of your head. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is one such song.

When I come across one of my boys sleeping, that awful song often comes to mind : They remind me of mini-lions! Less stressful, Andy loves to sleep in the cat tree tube by my bedroom door. I like it when he does because he becomes easier to “capture” to give him his medicine. He likes the tube because of, well, “cat reasons”!

How he scrunches himself into a ball in this narrow tube, I'll never know. Ity's one of those cat secrets. Oh, to be so cute and so flexible!

How he scrunches himself into a ball in this narrow tube, I’ll never know. It’s one of those cat secrets. Oh, to be cute and so flexible! There’s a tail end and a face in this photo, if you look closely.

As soon as I saw him, I had to pet him, rub his nose. Then he stretched out inside the tube.

Andy gives me the eye. He's ready to slip out the opposite end if he has to!

Andy gives me the eye. He’s ready to slip out the opposite end if he has to! That’s one of those cat reasons he likes the tube.

The carpeting gives him something to hang onto if I tried to pull him toward me. I think that gives him a false sense of security. What I do is push on the end closer to me, and capture him on the opposite end. Cat — 0; human — 1


Bebe the Persian cat could be the boys’ long lost Japanese sister. When I watched this video this morning, I was struck at how similar they look and act.

Post 571: dead tired

The boys woke me up very early this morning — 11:30 or so — and I didn’t sleep much after that. Around 1:30, Dougy got especially whiney, bugging me with his “feed me now” whine. Argh! So the boys ate early breakfasts and I finished off the third bismarck, by this morning a little dried out, but not bad with coffee.

I had some thoughts about a theme for today’s blog, though they slipped my mind. In the meantime, here’s a gratuitous kitty photo:


Dougy looks mighty handsome in this photo, taken yesterday after I woke him up. (Perhaps the early wake up call this morning is karma kicking in, eh?!) He’s all scrunched up into one of those impossible cat scrunches, but that’s the only way he fits on top of the mouse pad. Cats!

Post 570: my Proustian moment


Pardon moi, I tried to read Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, because anyone pretending to be intelligent must, but gave up when I lost interest in his self-indulgent introspection. There were moments, though, like the famous Madeleine passage, that I can relate to. Yes, today I had my own Proustian moment!


Growing up in this small Western Nebraska town, there were two bakeries. People ate a lot of baked goods in the Stone Age — the days of my youth — and two bakeries did a good business of supplying those gaping maws yearning for cake doughnuts, glazed doughnuts, those cinnamon things that looked like a cross section of a tree trunk, giant ginger snaps with globs of jam in the middle, cookies, maple logs, pecan rolls, rolls slathered in thick layers of chocolate and dipped in peanuts, um…! Pardon while I pull my tongue back in my mouth and wipe the drool off my whiskers!

There was one roll that especially caused my tail to wiggle joyfully: The Bismarck, as we called them in my town, but known as long johns elsewhere.

[Maybe it’s spelled “bismark”, but I like to think it honors the Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, because a roll this huge and delicious takes a heroic effort to eat. Otto himself might’ve ordered one, and the baker cleverly changed the name from “long johns” to “bismarck” to curry favor! “What is this self-indulgent bit of heaven, Herr Baker?” “Why, I call it ‘the bismarck’!”]

So much sugar, you best better make the coffee strong!

So much sugar, you best better make the coffee strong!



The two bakeries of my youth closed when the owners passed into immortality. For a time, there was no place to buy freshly deep fried globs of dough dripping sugar, stuffed with sugar, topped with ground nuts. It was a time known as “The Great and Very Deep Depression, but Don’t Ask Me About It”. No one wants to talk about that with those who didn’t go through it, yet everyone who survived it clusters around tables, in dark hallways, on the Internet chatrooms talking about when you could walk into Shad’s Bakery, plunk down your coins, and walk out with a bismarck.


Some cry when they remember. Others shudder, recalling how all that sugar hit the system, jolting you into a bright world of happiness and kittycats gamboling with lambs in the camomile-bedecked clover pastures. There was a bright, warm sun, too. I remember! I remember! Gahh!

Husbands of a certain age mumble in their sleep about “a sweet thing” or “loving a roll is sinful, but I do”, and wives cry because they, too, remember…remember… remember. (You thought this paragraph was about sex. Shame! This is a G-rated blog! Mostly….)


In time, new people decided to do something about the dearth of sweetness in this small Western Nebraska town. They scouted locations of bakeries in far places that sold these “long johns” we know are actually “bismarcks”, and pasted this intelligence on Facebook or just shared it with friends to keep the supply available for themselves and the chosen few. (We know you did this, people. We know because we would have done the same thing! Mwahahahahahaaaaa!)

Other people tried to make a go of opening a bakery, but who works that hard all those hours but a few godlike Samaritans and people who either are divorced or will be soon if they continue this insanity of getting up and working the night-shift so people can have their morning roll? They exist, folks, and they are beloved members of the community, people you want to encourage with prayer, money, praise, and word of mouth till they have to work twice as hard to keep up with the demand, then have no life but making dough, in all senses, so they close the bakery…. Oh. Never mind!


Well, there is “A New Day A-dawning” moment in this small Western Nebraska town because someone recently opened a bakery, and the supply of bismarcks is local again. I read about this new bakery on Facebook, and made a mental note to check it out. Then I kept forgetting to do it. A couple days ago, I drove by the bakery at 5 AM on my way from McDonald’s. I didn’t feel like making breakfast, but did feel like a roll. Of course, I’d already bought something at McDonald’s. I’d try again some other day.


Today was the day. It was only 4 AM. I’d already given Andy his medicine, and needed a treat for myself. Fortunately, the bakery was open, and the first thing that greeted me when I walked in was the proprietor carrying…a pan full of fresh bismarcks! She apologized because she hadn’t filled the display case yet, but was in the process of bringing out more things, if I wanted to wait. Huh! “This is exactly what I wanted to buy today,” I told her, and bought three, possibly two more than I can eat.


The roll in the photo was everything I hoped for, but I could handle a lot more sugar and calories when I was younger. But, for a second bismarck, I may just try stronger coffee and wolf the bugger down! I don’t know about the third one.




Post 569: sleepy boy

My cats like to lounge with me, and Dougy has a long history of making himself comfortable on my computer desk when I’m on my computer. For example, here’s my sleepy boy on the top shelf:


Makes me feel good to have a little fuzzy company while I play, even if he’s sleeping!

Dougy still thinks he fits where he did as a kitten.

Dougy’s computer desk snoozes go back to his earliest time. He was around three months old in this cutey pie photo. He still likes to put his paw on my arm this way.

Post 568: Next the deceased’ll demand to vote!

I keep a rather large corral of pet peeves. Mostly, I pet them, forget them, but some need to be whipped, beaten, exposed for the distress they cause humanity — and me!

One such pet peeve is the unsolicited appeal for money, whether for charity or some commercial scam. Yeah, the operative word is “scam”.  It’s bad enough when they come for me, but I also get them for an uncle who died in summer of 1992, a father who died in November 2008, and a mother who died in January 2013.

Oh no! The car Mom stopped driving in around 1999 and she and Dad sold to me in 2005, and I traded in in 2009 fro the car I drive now has an expired warranty or one that, based on miles on the odometer surely is nearly past the three year manufacturing warranty that, well, expired in 1999. Um.

Oh no! The 1996 Plymouth Breeze Mom and Dad sold to me when they stopped driving and I traded in on a new Chevy Impala in 2009 may be past its three year manufacturer’s warranty that expired in 1999.  Pardon me if I don’t feel a need to do something about that! There literally is no vehicle left to inspect or insure!

Then I imagine a personal note I want to write across the mailing, were there room: “LOOK DUMBO! IT REALLY, REALLY, REALLY DISTRESSES ME THAT YOU CONTINUE TO SEND MAIL TO MY [name relative], WHO, AS I HAVE TOLD YOU OVER AND OVER, DIED [repeat date of death]. WISH AS YOU MAY, THEY’RE NO LONGER IN THE MARKET FOR [charitable giving/ products/ services]. STOP SENDING THESE MAILINGS, NOW! REMOVE [name of relative who died] FROM YOUR MAILING LIST!”

One needs to remain calm and be subtle, however, so I just write “DECEASED” on the mailing and remail it. Grrr! It needs to stop. Mark my word, if we let them conduct business from the cemetery, next the deceased’ll demand to vote!

I guarantee this same outfit will send Mom another notice about her car warranty. I will handle it with grace again — and stuff it down the gaping maw of my cross-cutting paper shredder. This pet peeve requires annihilation to be calmed.



Post 567: Where’s Andy, Dougy?

It’s one of those days. I have Andy’s medicine loaded up and in the refrigerator, waiting for the little rascal to screw up and get caught. Only one problem: I can’t find him anywhere, so must ask his brother, “Where’s Andy, Dougy?” He just gives me a dull stare back, like, “Mrow!?”

Then, moments before 1:00 PM, I notice something rare and curious on the cat tree.

What, what, what? There seems to be one extra arm in this picture, and it's pointed a different direction than Dougy, on top.

What, what, what? There seems to be one extra arm in this picture, and it’s pointed a different direction than Dougy, on top.

Curious, eh?! I just asked Dougy where his brother is, and I get a blank stare. There seems to be perfidy or conspiracy afoot…or both!

Yeah! Dougy averts his eyes. He knew. He knew! Pfft!

Yeah! Dougy averts his eyes. He knew. He knew! Pfft!

Whatever you do…

...don't look in the devil-cat's eyes!

…don’t look in the devil-cat’s eyes!


Andy managed to hide long enough to avoid his medicine today. No good kitty. No “good kitty” treats.

Post 566: last days of open doors

Andy and Dougy enjoy bird watching out the back and front doors. In good weather, I leave the doors open for their pleasure and convenience. Those days soon will draw to  seasonal close, so Andy and Dougy try to make good use of the remaining time.

Yummy birds outside; happy cat inside! Andy enjoys the scenery.

Yummy birds outside, happy cat inside! Andy enjoys the scenery.

"That's all." Andy enjoyed the scene, now it's time to plan his morning nap.

“That’s all.” Andy enjoyed the scene, but now it’s time to plan his morning nap.


I try not to overload people who read this blog with more than one blog a day, but I decided the kitty fix is the main reason most people stop by. I took the Andy photos today. It seemed a pity to hold off on posting them! Maybe I’ll make up for my extra blog today by skipping tomorrow.


Post 565: plumes of smoke

I watched a 1955 romantic farce this morning, “To Paris with Love”. What a movie! Paris in the mid-century, with the streets full of vintage European automobiles (now, if not then), and plumes of smoke.

Yes, automobiles and people in that day pumped out the smoke, and the air was acrid, rough on the lungs, eyes, and skin. But everything and everyone did it. In the movie, a waiter brought the woman and man their appetizer, a shrimp cocktail. The moment the waiter left but before one shrimp left the cup, the man, yes, lighted a cigarette! How blinking romantic! The guy looked “Fifties Cool”! (A jerk by our standards for ruining the meal…!)

The young man on the Vespa scooter drives off with the cute girlfriend hanging on behind him. Yes, that little two-stroke engine left a smoke screen worthy of an army trying to conceal it’s movements. Of course, when Sir Alec Guinness drove off in his Rolls Royce convertible, a strangely puke green-colored machine, his eight cylinders left a fine plume of smoke, too, only richer. I don’t recall, but he probably was smoking a cigarette because he smoked through several packs in the movie.

Air Visibility Index photo in which good and bad air visibility day photos are justaposed. [Colorado State Government]

Denver Air Visibility Index photo in which good and bad air visibility day photos are juxtaposed. [Colorado State Government]

I recall vividly a trip to Denver in 1969 for my US Army physical and aptitude testing. After they poked and prodded me, turned me out onto the streets of Denver, I decided to walk to the State Capitol. People on the street walked by me, smoking. The cars pumped out their own plumes of smoke Unfortunately, the air was so polluted, I ended up getting out of the “fresh” air for my safety and comfort! That was my first contact with genuine air pollution, not counting the stench one experiences driving by the sugar beet processing factory in the next town over or any of the feed lots along the road.

For all the whining about air quality standards and restrictions on smoking in public places, the change in breathable air since then is easily illustrated by this little story:

My Paris friend Ralph and his friend Helen visited one summer. Ralph’s father’d purchased a new Chrysler New Yorker that year, which I think was 1992, or not, just that it was after strict pollution control standards on automobiles became the norm on all American market cars. Ralph’s father’s car was running in the driveway, and we were standing next to the tail end of the car, admiring it. Helen bent over and sniffed the exhaust.

tailend of a 1992 Chrysler New Yorker...

tail end of a 1992 Chrysler New Yorker…


What!?  It was totally random, unexpected. “It does smell clean,” she calmly announced. No plume of smoke from that Chrysler! Any car sending smoke signals in America then was in need of repairs, was antique, or both. Whatever the year it was, European air quality standards still allowed plumes of smoke from people and automobiles, though the EU countries were working on changing that.

Now the cars there are very clean, too, and very few, if any, public places allow plumes of smoke from people, either. Does anyone miss them on either side of the Atlantic?