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Friday, June 9, 2017


The old people stand in the kitchen, arms around one another, side by side, and regard the tiger cat. He sits erect, tail neatly curled around his tiger legs. They stand on the yellow linoleum beside the fridge. The cat is at rest now, but he has been swirling. and, with a nasal meow, asking for something which remains undefined. 

The old people are stymied.

The cat’s lamp eyes have exclamation points standing at attention in the center of each round green pupil. His eyes are a laser, lightly glazed with disdain for the poor mental capacity of the old people.

The woman addresses him.

 “We, your self-assigned caretakers and healthcare providers, continue, every day, to strive to serve you better. How may we help you today?”

“Yeah, cat. What do you want?” The man, annoyed because both treats and a lick of cream have been rejected, gets straight to the point.

The cat continues to stare. He’s unimpressed by monkey noises, all those different vocalizations they make.

He would like to see some action. As usual, Meow #24, though clearly enunciated, means nothing to them. Even after all these years.

Sourly, the cat thinks that the human species is, very nearly, untrainable.

Juliet Waldron

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Enter the Smartphone

Okay! Here I am, like Constanze Mozart, making an embarassing confession. I must be one among the last people in the US to switch to a smartphone. On a trip to Atlanta to see a stellar grand-girl graduate High School, I was overwhelmed by family, both kids and grandkids, demanding that I get a "better" phone. So—I caved at last, regaled with all the storied delights that awaited me once I owned such a device.

I returned home with said smartphone tucked inside a pair of socks. We had been too busy with visiting back and forth from one side of Atlanta to the other and hanging out, or attending various graduation festivities to go searching for a case through the always mind-boggling traffic.   I'd figured this would be a good time to make the big change, as there  I’d have two sons, two DILs and a grand girl to instruct me in at least some of the Major Arcana.

I was once considered a tech savvy person, but those days are loooong gone. There’s a certain Luddite pride in still using a genuine IBM keyboard from the 80’s, hitched to 2004's computer. It is, however, getting to be more difficult to lag behind than to “get with the program,” as software (and hardware too) endlessly morph. IMHO, (as I learned to say on AIM) I suspect that all the “updating” is simply an excuse to wring more $$ from us hapless consumers. 

One of my friends has a terrific notion about a kind heart software firm (!) who would build MS65, a program guaranteed to run without chronic episodes of illogic/insanity (could I perhaps be alluding to MS 10??) and not to change or alter in any way for a decade. That’s about the right amount of time for many of us less sophisticated cotton-tops to learn new software.

I’m under no illusions, though, I’ll soon be scrapped and dissembled for the metal value of my components, along with my beloved Wang PC which still crouches sadly in the back of a closet.  Stability is not what software developers are into these days—the more things fail to work properly, I guess, the better it is for IT, or something. Anyway, while I’m griping, what’s with the penchant for hiding the most commonly used operations three or four—or five--pull downs deep? Is it so we have to humiliate ourselves and buy the latest copy of “…For Dummies”? And what’s with that “Search” that leads you into Alice in Wonderland conversations with "Cortana." (And, hell, I'm not fooled. It's just that g-d paperclip tarted up and back in our faces again.   Couldn’t "search" have just searched, as the word indicates that it does?

This morning, I awoke to the sound of chimes—my new phone, of course. I’d set the alarm, hitched it to the wall socket and left it wakeful. Now, I leapt out of bed, and attempted to turn the alarm off without first putting on my glasses. Next thing I knew, I’d taken four blurry pictures of myself--nothing you want to keep, especially those taken first thing in the morning. It took a few minutes before I managed to figure out how to put the camera back to sleep and delete the alarm. 

How did I, whose first and foremost mental image of “phone” remains the graceful black candlestick apparatus in my grandparent’s living room, enter a world where a small slim box in my hand can deposit checks, take pictures, tell time, and connect me to the internet and thence conduct me into untold wonders of consumption?  

~~Juliet Waldron, who just keeps getting older...