January 18, 1999

I spent most of yesterday and today trying to get this site up and running. Searching for a webspace provider that fit my needs, setting up another free e-mail account, messing around with HTML... that sort of thing.

One further complication was that my ISP inexplicably stopped letting me log in for a few hours during the evening... but, anyway, I'm back, and have been doing all sorts of work behind the scenes, which I shall spare you the details of.

Anyway, Columbine wondered just what I meant by "I like cats in the abstract." So... let me try to explain this.

Animals frighten me. In fact, I get frightened by a whole lot of things, especially bees. I was stung on three occasions as a child, and I have no interest in going for four. By extension, I'm scared of anything that flies. By extension, I'm scared of anything that moves, including many human beings.

I have a special set of war stories involving cats, though. The family of a friend I visited regularly throughout my years in high school had a number of the furballs; seven or so at the high point. This didn't keep me from visiting regularly, but I was nervous, and I am still convinced that some of them were deliberately doing their best to freak me out.

There I'd be, waiting in the hallway, absentmindedly drumming my fingers on a dresser, when I'd look down and see a cat, muscles taut, clearly about to pounce on the target presented by my fingers. I'd usually yank my hand away just in time. Or then there was the time "the shy one" jumped on my knee under the table. I jumped up, she dug in, and, well, the wound was still visible a week later. Nobody was happier than I was when they eventually refurnished the living room and closed it off as a "cat-free zone." So I am an unlikely proponent of cats.

However, over the years, I have gradually come to accept the fact that I am, at heart, a cat person, even if I can't quite get along with them in Real Life. I like cats, and all that they stand for, in theory. Henry Beard's Poetry for Cats was the book that got me to use Amazon.Com for the first time, and I've enthusiastically recommended it to many others. If a law required all U.S. citizens to get a furry pet of some kind, I would opt for a cat.

Not a dog.

Let me make that clear, because there appears to be a bit of a dichotomy between cat lovers and dog lovers. There are exceptions, of course. The family I mentioned above had a dog also, although she usually stayed in the back yard. But it may be easiest to sum up the characteristics of cats by contrasting them with dogs.

Dogs are man's best friends. Cats have higher standards.

As a post I once saw on Usenet put it, a dog thinks "This person feeds me, buys me toys, cares for my every need... he must be God!"

A cat thinks "This person feeds me, buys me toys, cares for my every need... I must be God!"

Cats are fastidiously clean, although you don't want to know where their tongues have been. Dogs track in mud.

Cats are intelligent. They're independent, confident, at ease in their environment. I wish I had that degree of assurance. Dogs are loyal, but stupid. And utterly dependent on their masters.

Cats have a mystical, otherworldly quality about them. Dogs slobber and drink from the toilet bowl.

Wow... I haven't even officially opened this site, and I may have already alienated all the dog lovers in my potential audience. :-) Let me stress that there's nothing personal about any of this; I have friends who love their dogs, and that's fine. Ultimately, there isn't much logic behind either position; either you like 'em or you don't. And I do... so long as I don't have to actually meet up with the real thing. :-)

Actually, I have found my resolve beginning to weaken a bit in Real Life. It's probably just as well that my apartment just isn't big enough for me and a pet, or I just might be tempted to do something I'd regret.

Aside from working on these pages, I spent the evening helping a former classmate work on his resume. I don't think I actually helped much; I tightened a few phrases here and there, and added a paragraph of new material, but that was about it, while I indulged myself in the chance to talk to him for a few hours. Oh, well.

In the meantime, I have to revise my own resume already. I can't seem to find the file with my last draft around anywhere; I may have to just type the whole thing from scratch already. I should do that. I've wasted far too much time already. The new semester starts on the 28th, and I really need to have a job by then.