The Cat Who doesn’t like me to watch TV.

I’m a cat guy. I love all animals, but I particularly like my two cats Schnitzel and Phoebe. I think they like me. But for some reason, Schnitzel is determined to interrupt my television watching as much, and as often as he can. He’s actually gotten quite good at it.

You might look at the picture above and think, “I don’t see the problem. He’s being considerate enough to sit where can still watch your show, ” which is a true statement. However, he is more devious than you think. He’s sitting in right in front of the TV’s “eye” . . . the eye that sees the remote control’s signal. So while I can watch my show, I can’t change the channel, or turn the volume up or down during commercials. It’s quite ingenious on part.

Another one of his favorite TV sabotage tricks is to fight with our other cat, Phoebe, behind the TV stand where all of the cords plug into the TV, cable box and DVD player causing them to be yanked out of their spot where they are supposed to be plugged in.

You might be thinking, “Oh he’s just being a cat. He isn’t intentionally trying to disrupt your TV watching.” But you are wrong! He knows exactly what he’s doing.

His best trick is to wander around the couch and step on the remote that I have sitting next to me. Somehow, he know exactly what buttons to push that will take me to some place in the TV or cable menu that I have never been to before . . . and takes me five minutes of button pushing to find out how to get out of whatever strange mode he sent me to. . . . are a surprisingly large amount of smart TV and cable nether worlds that I am  unfamiliar with.

I like to improve people’s lives . . . Even TV bad guys lives.

On TV, there is always that one good guy “expert” who can explain how to disarm a Bomb over the phone by telling you what color wires to cut.

Now if I was a TV bad guy, I probably wouldn’t follow any type of specific color code for my bomb wires. Or I might even get tricky and use a black wire where the red one is supposed to be. That would make any bomb manual wiring diagram inaccurate, and thus, making the TV good guy expert not such an expert

I feel compelled to explain this to the TV bad guys so there evil plans aren’t so easily foiled . . . Thus, improving their skills as bad guys, and thus, improving the quality of their TV lives.

I’m really not all that worried about how many people read my blog.

I checked my blog stats and set my phone on the coffee table. The stats weren’t all that important since I had started my blog for fun, and I am not all that worried about how many people read it.

I went back to watching Dancing with the Stars. Well, actually my wife was watching Dancing with the Stars, I just happened to be in the same room.

I check my blog stats again which is odd because I started my blog for fun, and I’m not all that worried about how many people read it. Nothing had changed in the two minutes since I had last checked my stats. I set the phone back on the coffee table.

My eyes were getting heavy and I was just about to fade into my Dancing with the Stars nap when my phone lit up with some sort of a notification. I couldn’t quite tell if it was a WordPress icon that was showing on the screen.

Instinctively I started to reach for the phone to see what the notification was, but then I stopped and reminded myself that I had started my blog for fun and I’m NOT all that worried about how many people read it. I can check it later. I went back to watching Dancing with the Stars.

My mind drifted. I thought about my blog post from yesterday, a post that I was particularly proud of. Who in the world wouldn’t want to follow a blog that offered posts such as the one I had created yesterday? And besides, I had included some new strategic tag words that were sure to attract a whole new demographic of reader.

It occurred to me that I was fretting over my blog again. . . . A blog that I had started for fun and wasn’t all that worried about how many people read it.

“Stop it! Just stop it” I thought to myself.

“Stop what?” My wife asked.

Apparently I had also said it out loud.

“Are you obsessing about that blog again?” My wife added.

“NO! I started that blog for fun and I’m not all that worried about who reads it.”

Just then, the commercial with Jake from State Farm came on the television. I waited with baited breath for him to say “kakis” so I could laugh for the hundredth time and my wife could roll her eyes about me still laughing at a commercial I had seen a hundred times.

Right on cue, Jake said “kakis” and I started giggling.

“She sounds hideous”

I laughed even harder as I reached for my phone . . . . . But then stopped mid-reach. I remembered that I wasn’t checking my stats because I had started my blog for fun and I wasn’t all that worried about how many people read it.

I sat motionless . . . . My hand was partially outstretched towards the place where my phone sat on the coffee table. I hated the thought of obsessing over something, especially my blog which I had started for fun and wasn’t all that worried how many people read it.

As I sat with my arm still partially outstretched, my phone lit up again. . . . Only this time, my slightly more-forward posture allowed me to see that indeed it was a WordPress notification.

My eyes widened.

That made one WordPress notification for sure, and the possibility existed that the first time my phone lit up might be another WordPress notification. I stared at my blog checker . . . I mean my phone. It smoldered with the prospect of blogging fame and fortune.

My hand moved ever so slightly closer to the coffee table. But then I stopped and reminded myself that I had started my blog for . . . . OH SCREW IT! I grabbed the phone. I had to know.

It might be a notification telling me that I have a new follower! Maybe two new followers!

Maybe it was a blog award notification!! Who knows, it could be a notification telling me that Ellen Degeneres had mentioned my blog on her show and i was in the midst of a new follower tidal wave!

MAYBE MY BLOG WAS JUST NOMINATED FOR THE NOBEL PRIZE!!!!!!!!

Frantically, I unlocked my screen. The little red circle told me that I had one new WordPress notification (sigh, I was hoping for two or more). I opened the WordPress app to find that someone had liked my comment that I had made made in response to their comment.

“Sigh. . . ”

“People liking my comment is a good thing,” I told myself . . . . Of course having Ellen Degeneres mention my blog on her show or winning the Nobel prize is much better . . . . .

Fortunately, I had started my blog for fun and was not all that worried about how many people read it. Otherwise, I might be constantly checking my blog stats and worrying about my blog.

 

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Single Family Asylum

Parents and Technology.

My daughter is stuck at home tonight with two parents who are not only technically challenged, but who also just switched from Androids to iPhones. She has had an iPhone for a year now. The conversation sounds a bit like this:

“Why is there no back button? My Android had a back button.”

“How do I sync my email?”

“Just a minute, I’m helping mom make the screen letters bigger.”

“You’ve been helping her for a half hour, it’s my turn. Where the heck is the internet?”

“It’s called Safari”

“Leave her alone she’s helping me”

“SAFARI? That’s stupid.”

For the first twenty minutes, she seems somewhat pleased that WE, the parents, are so dependent upon her to perform even the most basic of functions on our new smart phones. But as the night wears on, she becomes less amused at our ignorance.

“Where’s my contacts list? Why isn’t it right down here at the bottom like my other phone?”

“DAD, I’ve told you four times how to get to your contacts list! It hasn’t changed since that last time five minutes ago!”

“How do I get my songs on here from iTunes?”

“I want to turn my picture into a zombie like you did the other day. What was that app called?’

“Why does it keep saying that I need an Apple ID? That’s stupid!”

Unfortunately, all across the globe, scenarios like this are being played out in living rooms, night after night.

Like my wife and I, many parents our age did not grow up in a digital, computer dependent world full of smart phones, email addresses, and WIFI. These are all things we have had to learn and to adapt too. At times, our analog, pencil and paper geared minds can get overloaded. A new smart phone can be horrifying as opposed to the excitement my daughters would feel. I just barely learned how to operate all the functions on my old phone, and now you want me to throw it all out and start from scratch?

In our day, if you learned how to use the U.S. Postal Service, you could reasonably expect that the skill would carry you through the rest of your life without needing to alter how you use the Mail system’s OS (operating system, I just learned that one from my daughter). If you learned how to look up a number in the phone book and dial the telephone that hung on the wall, you were pretty much set. But then all this new stuff comes along and ruins everything.

Kids nowadays were born into this cyber world, and their brains are trained to think that way from day one. They adapt to changes in technology and operating systems so much faster than I can.

Gone are the days when a father could proudly teach his son or daughter the simple life skills they needed to be able to interact with the world around them. Most of the technical learning that goes on in our household is daughter teaching parent.

We recently switched from cable TV to satellite TV. This change required that I learn a whole new OS. This change was a creator of much stress for me. I felt like a turtle on my back. I couldn’t make a TV show even appear on the screen, let alone one I wanted to watch.

But I have learned to cope with my technological disabilities, and overcome them. When the new satellite box was fired up for the first time and I had spent the ten minutes required to determine that I had no idea how to operate it, I simply handed the remote to my daughter Hannah and left the room. This is known as step one.

After an hour I returned, and just as I suspected, she had mastered the system. She could perform any and every function available. In fact, she had already set up her own channel favorites list and had set the DVR that came with it to record her shows.

Step two is to have Hannah simply show me how to turn the channel box on and off.

Step three is an on-going step. Step three is to use Hannah like a voice controlled remote for the next month or two as I slowly learn each satellite TV skill one at a time.

“Hannah, make it go to The Discovery Channel.”

“Hannah, make it record Wildest Police Video episodes.”

“Hannah, make Netflix come up on the screen.”

This system has helped to eliminate much of the anxiety and fear that can be the result of trying to learn a new technology or OS. I’d like to think that over time, my ability to adapt to such changes would become easier and easier. But I’m beginning to realize that all the gains I make as far as becoming fluent in the computer-digital-cyber world, are being countered by my memory becoming duller, and perhaps a touch of senility setting in.

The Behaviorizer.

What if I told you that there was a device that you could purchase, that when plugged in and turned on, it would emit and energy field that caused children to calm down. Not just calm down, but actually sit silently and trouble free for as long as you want.

Right now, many of you battle-weary parents are thinking, “That would be WONDERFUL!! If only there was such a device!!!”

Well, there is . . . . . . it’s called a television, I call it the BEHAVIORIZER!

Now I know that as parents, we are not supposed to let our children watch too much TV. Some of you may not even let your kids watch it at all.

Before my wife and I had our own children, we would make lofty decrees that our children would not be boob-tube zombies. Our children would entertain themselves playing outdoors, creating art, and doing things together as sisters.

I have since learned that playing outdoors, creating art, and doing things together as sisters involves large amounts of messes, destruction, arguing, fighting, and effort on the part of the parents to exercise some form of order and control.

This is where the Behaviorizer comes into play. It involves none of those things. It’s so effective that it’s hard not to take advantage of its bluish, hypnotic glow.  HOURS! . . .  They will sit for hours, maybe days, and not move a muscle . . . I’m not even sure if they blink. I always keep a spray bottle of water in the living room in case their little eyeballs dry out, and I have to give them a squirt to keep them from squeaking when they move.

I’ve read and heard all the bad things that television can do to children. I’ve even heard it said that TV can destroy parts of their developing brain. But sometimes I think that if it’s destroying the part of their brain that makes them run around like savages destroying everything in their path . . .  maybe that was a part of the brain that needed to be destroyed in the first place. I mean, I’m sure they never would have performed lobotomies on people if they didn’t have a positive outcome. . . . . Right?

There are many other positive sides to television as well. It has made me aware of several products that I need to buy. Some of these products I didn’t even know existed until TV showed them to me, and I realized that I couldn’t live without them.

And you can’t deny the benefit of being able to watch history unfold before your eyes either. In my life, I have been able to see live, in color, many landmark moments in time, such as Evil Knieviel jump over a couple dozen buses, the mysterious transformation of “Bewitched” husband Darren Stevens from one person to a completely different person with no explanation, and David Letterman drive around in a convertible with a back seat full of tacos.

And without TV, children couldn’t spend hours developing hand-eye coordination by playing video games or learn about the cruelty of video war, or alien invasions.

I know as a parent, that I should limit my children’s TV watching and video gaming, but once you’ve experienced the calm and quiet that it can produce as it slowly turns your child’s brain into oatmeal, it’s hard to go back. It’s like I’m Luke being lured over to the Dark Side.

The Dark Side has control.

The Dark Side has POWER!