Bitu's Catster.com Diary

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I'm Mad!

April 18th 2013 10:02 am
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This morning my people had some organic banana-nut cereal from one of the church food boxes we've been eating from and they promised me some of the leftover milk. It turns out they have enough left for a box of pudding but not enough for me. I should have gotten it right when I asked for it instead of having to wait for nothing.

 

Tight Times

March 23rd 2013 2:40 am
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Things have really gotten tight for us in the last several weeks. We're struggling to catch up bills and we're having to take out advances from the bank which will put us short for money some more. Have you ever noticed how much more interest banks take for themselves than they give to the people? When my older human had money, he was recommended to inquire about certificates of deposit. At the time they only gave eight cents interest back. Such being the case, it's better just to buy something and get eight cents change you can actually see and feel in your hand (or paw, in my case). And lately we've had to eat food donated to our church's food bank because we can't get our own groceries over the month. And wouldn't you know my older human is developing a craving for pizza right when we have no money for a delivery? Worse yet, somebody's trying to force my younger human to get a rolling walker and battery-powered wheelchair when the walker a friend gave her is still in good condition and so is her solid-seat wheelchair. And nobody seems to be available to change light bulbs for us. Why can't people just give us help we actually ask for and leave the rest alone?

 

Cleaned Out

March 1st 2013 12:45 pm
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I don't know what we're going to do. The cleaning people we had for a couple years have cleaned my older human's bank account out so that he only has his Social Security again. They charged 140 a week when that amount was only supposed to be for occasional extra work (maybe once a month). Even the 95 dollars a week they charged at the beginning was almost too much. But my younger human was under pressure from a manager who was subjecting her to excessive inspections to try and get her out. My older human felt obligated because he helped save the cleaner's unborn baby from the dangerous next door neighbor who wanted to hurt her for being a Ukranian immigrant. She justified herself on the premise that all Americans are rich. Then when we found we were just about out of money, only then did she offer to lower the price. She doesn't understand that my older human earned his money years before she was ever born. He was forced to take stock by the company so they wouldn't have to pay their workers a proper monthly pension. He only got it once a couple years ago and was under pressure from the same manager harassing my younger human because it was his retirement money. What was good money in his time is barely minimum wage now. Just this last month he had to let a bill go to pay my yearly vet checkup. And now he's just out of the hospital from a hernia operation and we don't know how he'll be able to get out to get the rent. On top of that, we got inspection notices for next week (I wish they'd just leave us alone). It makes our indulgences tame by comparison. How fortunate that my older human was able to pay off the burial spaces reserved while his folks were living while he had it because the rest of his family won't do it for him and my younger human. I wish we could get some of the money back that the cleaners took.

 

A Question Answered

December 1st 2012 6:05 pm
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We usually participate in one Christmas card exchange, but this year we're in two. Given the tumultuous attempt to save Dogster and Catster over the summer - plus the folding of The C & D Monthly Press - I was wondering whether some cards I might send would be welcome by certain names on at least one address list. Believe it or not, I got one card today that answers a question for me, despite my article being a failure after being written somewhere else than where I'd planned. We won't be able to mail any cards until Monday now, but I feel more confident about one of them at least.

 

Going Silent

November 20th 2012 11:22 am
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Pumpkin is still alive, but she's lost her voice, so to speak. It happened within a couple days of her person going to the hospital. If she'd gone to the doctor like we'd tried to get her to do, she might still be alive today. But she was always afraid of ending up in a nursing home like her mother and cousin (plus she had no insurance), so she was afraid to go. Her mother died in a nursing home almost a couple years ago at ninety, but she only made it to sixty. But at least now the building where she lived won't be able to force her to do "community service" just because she moved in under the minimum age (people are considered near-elderly when they're between 55 and 61, according to the federal housing rules). And she won't be in a nursing home, so she got what she wanted in a way. So I guess my younger human and I will be pretty much alone at the quizzes we played with her and Pumpkin. So only my older human can be informed of our progress now.

 

Playful's Electronic Namesake

November 10th 2012 11:54 pm
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While Playful was living, she was aware that my younger human named the first cat in her electronic kennel after her. Mobile Playful (as I referred to her in my letters) can run, harvest sunbeams, do gardening (home-grown catnip), jump, sing and whack mice on the head. The real Playful can do that and more now that she's over her troubles. I just hope she won't forget her friends now that she's joined some of her family at the Rainbow Bridge. Maybe someday she can meet Mobile Playful and they can play together as they get better acquainted. Even though somebody else will speak for everybody now as a practical matter, it still hurts to see her go. Mobile Playful will be getting extra attention for awhile.

 

Felix and His Electronic Namesake

October 14th 2012 12:08 am
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As I mentioned some time ago, my younger human has a collection of electronic pets, one of whom is named after one of my friends. There are actually two friends of mine who have electronic namesakes. One looks like the real cat in coloring, and the other is more like his animated namesake except for not having his famous bag of tricks. The real one is actually gray and white and has lived in Texas, though his condition will necessitate a trip to the Rainbow Bridge to end his troubles. My people expressed their sympathy because we've been friends for some years. I waited until my older human went to his own room before I threw up. My younger human has promised to explain that I was overcome with grief to get me off the hook for my latest mess. I hate to see him go, but I hate that he's suffered so much already. I can hope that after he meets Minnie he'll have the chance to meet his electronic namesake one of these days. At least then he won't be sick anymore.

 

How To Revive Interest In Dogster and  Catster -  by Bitu McClintock

July 12th 2012 4:02 pm
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That is the question -  how to turn things around so Dogster and Catster can go from virtually dying as they seem to be now to the vibrant, fun places they once were. But what are the problems that need the most attention? 

One constant problem which has been ignored even in the more independent days has been that official friendships have not been allowed across party lines, so to speak. Dogs can only send friend requests to dogs and cats can only send friend requests to cats, making it harder for those who would really like to reach out and make the other side feel welcome. But the traditional barriers need to be broken down to make that possible.

Groups can only go so far - it needs the additional individual touch as well. As the founder and president of several groups myself, I can remember when I wrote individual welcome letters that newcomers appreciated because they often went beyond the standard form letter. As I ponder our current overall crisis, I wonder why I left off doing that.

Then there are the various technical difficulties known proverbially as the Dogster and Catster "fleas" - the bane of existence all across the board. The technical service department needs to be expanded to adequately address the problems that are currently keeping many away. The computer program files need to be checked to see which ones  have been corrupted and need to be taken out, such as when an e-mail file on our Mac Mini was corrupted and causing multiple duplicate e-mails. After the problem was fixed, we unsubscribed from a number of things as a precaution, making the e-mail much easier to handle. 

And this brings to mind one of the suggested solutions discussed in one of the forums - combining similar groups in order to minimize duplication. But in order to make those mergers successful, it has to be done in such a way that feelings don't get hurt if at all possible. This has yet to be worked out.

Another suggestion that would require expansion of the technical service department would be the creation of an app to maintain contact with Dogster and Catster on the go - a must when you're not near the computer. But keep in mind that it needs to be compatible with multiple phone and tablet systems and should be easily maintained to ensure overall satisfaction. And there needs to be access to the full site, as an app leaves out many things that only the full site can provide.

There has also been a call to bring back instant messaging. While not a big fan of it myself - though I've indulged in it on rare occasions at Facebook for the sake of several Dogster and Catster friends- it should be an option for those who prefer it while allowing the rest of us the more traditional channels of communication.

That brings up another complaint among those who would like a return to the more personal touch - being absorbed into a larger corporate entity has caused some to forget what it meant to hear from somebody who actually shared your concerns. Will the customer service department also need to be expanded?

There has also been a complaint about the mass migration to Facebook, owing initially to the loss of friends to the Rainbow Bridge and the need to get away from all the sadness. Like many of you, I found my way there and have based many of my Facebook friendships with Dogster and Catster people. But this has caused many of us to neglect the groups we once took so much pride in. The question here is how to keep the original groups alive without losing the bonds of friendship just because a number of us have made Facebook pages. This also has yet to be worked out.

Then there's the question of balance between groups for a cause and play groups. Both are important - cause groups can address issues such as health, support, and political causes involving animal cruelty and animal-based legislation, while play groups can provide fun, happiness and a break from whatever real life throws at you. No matter how it's been discussed, dogs and cats alike need this balance.

There have also been calls for a Dogster and Catster reunion. But it begs this question: will it be a temporary reunion for the sake of nostalgia, or will it bring the dogs and cats back together and make Dogster and Catster better than they ever were before?

 

The C & D Monthly Press - April 2009 - July 2012

July 10th 2012 4:37 pm
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I've been considered the greatest - and sometimes most controversial - feline voice in journalism. But for a little over three years I was the undisputed editor of The C & D Monthly Press. It was too big to be confined right from the start. After one issue on the free site from Earthlink - where we have our internet account - we were obliged to add web hosting to be able to accommodate all the pictures we ended up using. They ranged from portraits of the Dog and Cat of the Month to the contributions of various members, such as Teddy's modeling jobs from England. But the heart of the newsletter was the coverage of the trips, from Hong Kong to Alaska to Romania - including the castle believed to belong to the notorious Dracula. There were scenic shots and pictures showing various dogs and cats enjoying themselves as tourists. There were also a few social events, but they only interested me as a reporter - as a practical matter, I rarely added to the forums myself because they were so hard to keep up with, so I usually trailed along and copied things which could be included in the article I anticipated writing. Most of our readers admired my way with words, even when I mentioned something briefly on the front page. But when we started missing trips in 2011, it was hard to maintain the quality our readers had come to expect and which I demanded from myself (and my secretary). Life tried to get in the way - such as when my younger human needed care for her sore left leg and lost blood over months to where she was down to one-third her normal blood supply - but we kept at it, even though several double issues were necessary. After waiting almost two years for the resumption of the trips that were the virtual life-blood of The C & D Monthly Press, it was getting harder to keep up hope. My older human hinted that it was time to quit as long as there were no trips to cover. Other members started coming forward with the same suggestion, but not always in a friendly way. The pressure became too much to bear. The first thing to go was the Readers' Choice Poll which was originally added to stimulate reader interest and participation. That was a favorite part of the newsletter among our readers, even though sometimes there was just one interview and sometimes no interviews at all. But even before my younger human had pressed the button that spelled the newsletter's demise, she cried to think that all that hard work was ultimately for nothing, despite my efforts to push her to get it out in time. I wonder now how many will actually miss The C & D Monthly Press. I'd like to be able to promise our supporters that we'll be back when things get better, but it might turn out to be as prolonged a wait for that as for the trips that made The C & D Monthly Press great. And even if somebody else comes along someday to assume the editorship, I'll never let them forget that I came first.

 

Getting Back To Normal

November 6th 2011 9:19 pm
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It's been a long seven months. My younger human has been subjected to excessive inspections by our building manager, resulting in my scratching boxes being taken away, but not entirely by my people's own choice, since they know how scratching boxes can be a great stress reliever. I was so traumatized that I didn't even scratch the box my people managed to save for me, though the manager didn't understand (how can somebody understand who's never had a cat?). On top of it all, I even stayed out of my favorite chair, though my older human insists on borrowing it whenever my younger human uses the cat scoop in my litter box (he holds the bag while my younger human uses the cat scoop). Then while my younger human was away from home in October getting her sore left leg tended to at the hospital and a care facility, I started scratching a box when I heard she was coming home, though I hissed at her the day she came home, but more for the principle of the thing. Then tonight I relaxed in my favorite chair again. My people think I'm finally getting back to normal. We can only hope the good times will outlast the bad ones.

 
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