Goin’ to a Chapel of Love

October 26, 2008

In the chilly north, in the village of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, is a place called Dog Mountain.

Here, artist Stephen Huneck, his spouse Gwen, and their canine family, have built Dog Chapel.

All are welcome.

Even cats.

Wordless, not Whirl-less, Squirrel

September 9, 2008

Carousel squirrel.

How to Age a Cat, Prematurely

August 23, 2008

Yesterday, I paid a visit to the library book sale.  In the craft section, I stumbled across a knitting magazine with this on the cover:

Oh the shame!

Oh the shame!

Now, I ask you, is this the face of a happy cat?

People, this is the sort of thing that ages a cat prematurely!

If The Aged Cat (may he mouse in peace!) were with us today, he would exhort me to protest, publicly and vehemently.  He would interrupt my barely-stifled giggling and insist that I write to remind the animal “lovers” of the world that  — well, he said it so well himself:

“Have me own coat, thank you very much.  Save your infantilizing blankies, buntings, baubles, booties, booboogoogoos, et cetera, for such creatures as have neither hair nor self-respect.  I speak, of course, of chihuahuas.”

“What’d a chihuahua ever do to you?”

“That’s beside the point. –”

And so it was.  His point was, as mine now must be:

kitties don’t need no dressin’ up

It is bad for their mental health.  It is enough to send any self-respecting feline running for a bottle of what Trouble the Cat, at Dennis’s Diary of Destruction euphemistically calls her “enulose,” though in her case, overexposure to canines seems to be the cause, and that’s another matter entirely.

Cat “owners,” hear me and heed me when I tell you, that if permitted to go unchecked, this mistaking of cats for dolls can lead to a whole host of ills not the least of which are:

  • Substance abuse — The cat tries to dull the pain of humiliation and loss of control with overindulgence in catnip (Nepeta Cataria), greenies, and other substances.
  • Obesity — The cat’s subconscious attempt to make himself impossible to lift or manuever, and/or to render himself too huge for any baby garment.
  • Hair loss — The cat, feeling violated, resorts to excessive grooming in an attempt to feel “clean” again.
  • Physical exhaustion — Thought to be brought on by the hypercompensatory striking and holding of dignified poses.
  • Feline dementia — Characterized by the return of invisible wallspots, and often attributed to chronic exposure to bad taste
  • Deafness — Feigned or real, its association with kitty dress-up has yet to be proven.

I admit that I am not wholly above reproach when it comes to the subject of mistaking cats for dolls.  As a child — (true confession) — so determined was I to see my faithful tabby tom in Jo March’s pinafore, that I committed the ultimate doll-collector sin.  I altered the doll’s dress to fit my putty-tat.  In my defense, I was 10 years old.  And he looked adorable in red polka-dots, as I knew he would.

But I grew up.  I don’t collect dolls anymore.  Even if I did, I would never, never put their pinafores on my cat.  I promised The Aged and The Tortie that they would never suffer the indignities of kitty dress-up.  I kept my word, and out of respect for them, all cat-related tchotchkes in my apt are naked.  Never even had so much as a cats-in-clothes calendar in my home.   Yes, there was the momentary lapse of judgment resulting in the infamous Valentine’s Day ribbon transgression against The Aged (which some of you may remember).  But again, in my defense, I was seriously sleep deprived, and he did look adorable in the pink satin ribbon with hearts.  I mightily regretted it, however, for his own dear sake, and apologized sincerely to The Aged.  After destroying the evidence, and after several days of sucking up to get back in his good grace, I received his sweet forgiveness.  Still, I cannot help but wonder sometimes.  How much residual damage was there from the Valentine’s Day ribbon episode?  Could it have hastened The Aged Cat’s demise?  I will never know for certain.

Now, I do not wish to incriminate a respectable and presumably well-meaning craft publication in this business of kitty dress-up, so I shall not name the magazine here. After all, it may very well have been a mere lapse on their part and it was a long time ago.  And if you are able to overlook or forget the pitiable plight of the feline forced to model the baby bunting you may wish to knit the offending garment yourself.  If so, let me know, and I’ll send you the source info so that you can contact the publisher to request the pattern.  However, know that I will first ask you to swear on your cat’s litterbox — sacred ground! — that you will never put your cat in the bunting.  It is to be used strictly for children.  And/or chihuahuas.

Of course, it could also be handy just having the pattern, complete with photo, strategically lying around the house.  Some may say this constitutes “intimidation” or “a threat” to a cat, which is just as psychologically damaging as putting her in a bra or bonnet.  I prefer to call it  “leverage,” a useful, sometimes necessary negotiating tool in maintaining the balance of power in the house.

So for now, folks, that’s my anti-kitty-dress-up rant on behalf of The Aged Cat, and I’m stickin’ to it.  Please keep your kitty sane and sober, — no kitty dressup and no kitty-buntings!

Rarely sighted and wordless, N.American Arboreal Penguin

August 20, 2008

"Arboreal Penguin" on the wing

Wordless Wednesday

May 21, 2008


Ads, There’s the Rub (sorry, it’s far from wordless)

May 21, 2008

One thing I really do like about WordPress is that there are people you can correspond with when you have questions, complaints, technical problems. How many “free” services can you say that about? For that matter, how many paid services can you say that about? Big points for WordPress here. Explaining things over and over to newbies can be a truly thankless job. I do thank the WordPress support staff for tackling it. I also thank the volunteers in the forum who explain over and over and over again . . .

ads on Aged Cat post

Sadly, on the subject of advertising, WP support seems to be feeling the burden of open communication. When I wrote them, registering my complaints about the ads which I noticed appearing with my posts, I received this reply:

From Matt’s post:

“Even though you will probably never see an ad, if you did happen to come across one I don’t want it to be a surprise. The comments last time we discussed ads were fairly heated but I wanted to make sure everyone had accurate information.

What are our future plans? There have been a fair number of requests for an Adsense widget so it’s still on our mind as a paid upgrade.”


That’s it in full. You can almost feel how weary they are of the topic.

I can’t blame them. As I said, theirs is often a thankless job. If you search the faqs and the forum, you will find the issue of advertising hashed, rehashed, minced, pureed . . . Not always nicely either. Sometimes surprisingly rudely.

Mostly WP is being badgered by people chomping at the bit to make money on their free WordPress blogs. Those folks don’t understand the policy either. Over and over again, you read that users are not allowed to include AdSense or other advertising widgets, coding, links, etc, in their blogs.

I noticed far less badgering on the matter from the strictly “social” bloggers, the folks most likely not to want advertising at all. Maybe because we don’t realize that advertising is an issue on WP? Or we think it’s only an issue for the people who want advertising but can’t have it?

Everybody blogging under the impression that “no ads” means “no ads at all” — raise your hand.

All WP support staff and volunteers tired of explaining over and over again how and why that’s not true — raise your hands.

Thanks. You can put them down now.

more ads on Aged Cat

The very fact of the chronic confusion over the ads policy indicates the need for its clarification on pages first accessed by prospective users. I read the front matter — the features, the TOS, the faqs, — and still I came away thinking “If I blog here, my posts will be ad-free.”

In an attempt to understand how I came to misunderstand the policy, I went back to the beginning and tried to retrace my steps:

  • The “Advertising” statement at the bottom of the Features page is not clear to me as a newcomer. I’m not sure what a “Google text ad” is. There’s no image to illustrate what is meant. There is no link to an explanation of “Google text ad.” It does not say what will be advertised. For all I know, WordPress intends to sometimes advertise its own services on my blog. I’d have no problem with that. I would support that, in fact. I assume that WP, being no “fancypants marketers,” will have the courtesy to let me know when they’re doing it. This “Advertising” statement gives me no reason to believe that it will be done without my knowledge of the actual occurrence or nature of the ads.
  • In reading the Terms of Service, I find no mention of WP’s Adsense policy. I find no mention of “advertising” or “ads” at all. There is a prohibition against “unwanted commercial content.” Great! I want no ads on my blog. This is all very promising.
  • In the “I’m new to blogging. Where do I start?” FAQ, I find this statement: “1. We do not permit WordPress.com blogs to be used for advertising, search engine manipulation, traffic generation, commercial purposes[1] or “spam”.” — Well it can’t be any plainer than that. Hooray! No advertising! — The footnote makes an exception for “VIP blogs.” And nothing here about WP itself using my blog for advertising.
  • A FAQ headed “Adsense and other ads” includes another general statement: “2. We also run some ads sometimes and the reasons for that are explained here.” “Here” is the “Matt’s post,” mentioned above. I have to do a keyword search to find this FAQ, but I’ve already been reassured by the “Where do I start?” FAQ that there’s no advertising, so why would I search for a FAQ
    about advertising? I’ve never heard of Adsense and don’t know what it is, so I won’t be looking that up either.
  • By the time I’m ready to start perusing FAQs, tags and Forums in earnest, I’m already in sign-me-up and how-do-I-post? mode. I’ve already forgotten that suggestion on the features page that WordPress might someday want to support its service on my blog. When I go to FAQs and the Forums, I see threads grumbling “why can’t I put ads on my blog?” I see no reason to look at them, since I don’t want ads on my blog. I just want to know how to choose themes and get my jpegs loaded. The few that I do look at just seem to reinforce the impression that no ads will find their way into my blog.

I realize WordPress can’t make overly eager newbies sit down and read every bit of front matter, but for those who do read it, hoping to map out their immersion into blogland, there can and should be a candid statement of the ads policy, in the Features page and in the TOS, with links to an explanation of how AdSense works, why WP uses it, and images to illustrate how it will “probably” look on a user’s blog.

I’ve sent them 4 jpegs, screenshots of my posts with the GoogleAds I’m not supposed to see. They have my permission to use them to illustrate the ad policy to prospective bloggers.

and still more ads on Aged Cat


Epilogue to what now feels like the world’s longest post:

Today I went to “The Aged Cat” through Google, the means through which I discovered the offending ads in the first place. Today, thankfully no ads.

Whom do I thank? WordPress Support? Don’t know whether or not they did anything to change it. If they did, “THANK YOU, WP Support!”

Or is this just the way the random ads policy plays out — some days you see them, some days you don’t? — Will they return again, like the Spanish Inquisition, when I least expect them? But — (feel free to chime in here) — “no one expectssss the Ssspanisssh Inquisition!”

Aye, there’s the rub.

Aged Cat pimped out by WordPress, Google & Co.

May 19, 2008

Forgive me, my poor unsuspecting Aged Cat! I did not mean for this to happen to you.

In setting up this blog, your assistant didn’t realize she was inadvertently turning you into a shill for GoogleAds and WordPress, and most distressingly, the evil anti-flea products that shall not be named.

unapproved ads on blog post

It was bound to happen, I suppose. They’ve been pimping out Marilyn for years. Even John Lennon’s music isn’t safe. But you’d think a wee blog about an unknown Aged Cat (may he rest in peace) could find a safe little cybercorner, well away from the dog-eat-dog machinations of commerce.

My friends, if you are blogging with WordPress, be sure you understand two things which The Aged’s assistant did not:

  • The space for your blog is not really free. You are paying for it by providing free content to Adsense through WordPress.
  • Your blog is not strictly social or self-expressive. Not so long as the host reserves the right to use it to do a little business, whether you will or no.

The Aged Cat’s assistant would appear to biting the hands of the developers that are hosting The Aged’s website. Now that would indeed be rude! It is not her intention. After all, they’ve provided such a lovely service to so many folks. How could she begrudge them a bit of monetary support?

She does not begrudge them their monetary support. She’s only terribly vexed and dismayed at the means by which they’ve chosen to procure it. In applying their chosen method, they have unwittingly made a liar of her and a hypocrite of The Aged Cat (saints preserve him). Now that is indeed rude!

Read the not-so-fine print, pets. Then read it again. Then read all the FAQs and forum posts and anything else in which you can find the words “ad” “adsense” “advertising” in relation to WordPress. Only in this manner will you be able to cobble together an understanding of the advertising policy at WordPress and how it is applied. Don’t bother reading the WordPress “Terms of Service” because as of the writing of this post, there’s no mention of advertising there. Nor is there any in the Automattic “Privacy Policy.”

The TOS does warn WordPress bloggers against including commercial content in their posts, sic: “By making Content available, you represent and warrant that: … the Content is not spam, and does not contain unethical or unwanted commercial content designed to drive traffic to third party sites.”

That was just fine by me and The Aged (may he roll forever in catnip). We never wanted commercial content, anyway. We were just there to meet and visit with other petowners. But guess what? Now we have “unwanted commercial content” (sometimes — we don’t know how often) and guess who puts it there? The very folks who told us not to. And they won’t allow us to not allow them to put the unwanted commercial content on our blog. . . .

This is makin’ me dizzy.

All I can say is thank goodness The Aged Cat (may his soul purr on and on) isn’t alive to see this! He’d be rollin’ over in his eternal catbed.

Sure, and I fear himself’s blog may not long outlive him if this keeps up.


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