by Sheep Farmer

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I am the owner of a new cat. Mamma Cat, as she is now known, decided that my barn would be the perfect place to raise her family of three kittens. Lots of feral cats have shown up on our farm over the years. I have never fed any of them and most of them disappear after a few weeks. That all changed with our new arrival. Mamma Cat had been hanging around for a several months, always running away when she saw us. Last month I noticed a litter of kittens in a corner of the barn. DH and DD convinced me that I needed to feed her. She no longer runs away when she sees me, but she still keeps her distance. I now feel responsible for her, so she has an appointment in a few weeks to get spayed and get a rabies shot.. Have any of you adopted a stray that has shown up at your house? Is anyone planning on getting a new pet this year? If so, what type? If anyone is thinking about getting a cat this year, I know where you can get one!


125 thoughts on “Cats

  1. Whatever I do, I am closing out of this window before DD comes home today, or else I will be driving to VA for an adorable new kitten. :-) My God, the drama and begging and angst for more animals is never-ending (since I have said two is enough, her current plea is to foster kittens).

  2. Oh I love cats. Lost both our elderly cats over the winter and just recently adopted rescue sister kittens who are 5 mos. old. They are delightful and magical and fun. Both of our older cats were former strays. One from an organization and the other chose us. Glad you are getting her spayed, will save her a lot of pain and struggle. Enjoy her!

  3. When I was in high school I adopted a stray cat for about two weeks. When I say adopted I mean that I gave her food and played with her outside. I was not allowed to bring her inside due to family member allergies. The papergirl noticed the kitty hanging out on our porch and asked if she could take her. And that was the end of that. Fast forward to after college and I adopted my friend’s cat (she was moving and couldn’t take him). He is now 19 years old and still holding on. last month I thought the end was near, but he rebounded and is back to snuggling up with us and chasing mysterious objects that only he can see. He will be missed by all when he finally does leave us.

  4. Cinna and Katniss say hello

    Even though she is friendly, sort of, now, you might have some trouble getting her into a suitable box or carrier for the ride to the vet. Use the internet to search out techniques for cornering and trapping her. Also, female kittens can get pregnant at 3 mos, so if she has girls you might want to spend the money to spay them as well. Up here they can’t be formally adopted out from a shelter until they are fixed, so the vets do it at 8 to 10 weeks.

  5. Laura, good plan, lol!
    My rule is that before we adopt any animals, DS must learn to take care of it by either volunteering at a shelter (hope we can find one that no kill!) or taking care of someone else’s as a sitter/walker. He has adored seals for about a year now, and is starting to get into sloths, so we might be safe anyway–not too many of either around to adopt!

  6. DW grew up with cats; I with dogs. From that, she thinks I am not a cat person. Despite the fact that whenever I’d visit and slept there (I’m a back sleeper), I’d wake up with the cat laying on my chest staring at me. Maybe since I was still trying to impress, I was a good sport about it?

    We’ve both been so long now without pets I don’t think we’d consider getting one now.

  7. So, inspired by some commentary here, I’ve started browsing Nextdoor on a semi-regular basis. And now I get to find out about all the home break-ins within a few miles of me. It seems terrible – though I am sure it is no more terrible than before I was on Nextdoor. I’m not worried about someone taking the narcotics or xbox, but I do have a fear of the home invasion gone wrong – with people in the house.

    I grew up in gun country, and that is my reflex – get a nice little gun. However, I also believe in science and know the statistics say it is more likely to harm someone in my house than help us. After a lecture I attended last week on tasers (the kind that shoot the barbs out), I thought we needed one of those. DH says a dog is less likely to cause problems. We had a medium sized dog years ago, but have been reluctant to get a new one – the trade off in terms of travel and logistics seems to high.

    Short version- I’ve been pondering getting a dog. Not a serious “security dog” – but something that is reasonable sized and barks (and shuts up on command). Not sure I am ready to relive the baby years in the form of a puppy, or to put the work in so that the dog behaves.

  8. But, I’m still thinking of getting a home taser — maybe that is a topic for another day….

  9. Cats…we are leaning toward those crazy cat people!
    Our total = 5 indoor and 1 neighborhood stray.

    Stray – We did not feed or really do anything for the stray until about 2 years ago when there was turnover in our neighborhood and he suddenly got very skinny. The family the “owns” him started denying the ownership about 4 years ago (cat is roughly 12 years old). We put out food, water, and an old dog house if he needs some shelter. He sprays, so no coming in the house. We have treated wounds from fighting (decreased with age), but have never taken up He has gotten super skinny, so not sure how much longer he will be around.

    Indoor Cats – We had 2, then my DD#1 got one when she wanted a dog, but her dad talked her into a cat. We had three for quite a while, we lost all of them over time and had replaced them (due in part to the bad cat food a few years back). The oldest 2 are a year apart, then 4 years until the next one. Then our oldest had a fall, was very slow to recover (never did completely) and couldn’t handle the youngest trying to play with her. Then, we got a kitten (mainly my cat) to keep the youngest busy. But, when my mom died, we took her cat. No one could quite bear to rehome her, but she doesn’t get along too well with the rest. She has taken to DD#1 and I don’t know what is going to happen when she goes off to school in 15 months.

    No more cats for us for quite some time!

  10. People often dump animals at our place. We have all the pets we want, and so I have a very friendly relationship with animal control. I don’t call animal control for the cats. They would only get killed at the shelter, after some trauma. There is always water available for our dogs and cats, and I put out extra food. I am not a crazy cat lady, but there are a large number of feral cats. There are also a lot of coyotes, so there is some balance.

    Several years ago, someone dumped a beautiful six month old German Shepherd pup. We had just gotten a new puppy, so I couldn’t keep it. I called animal control and told them that if no one adopted the dog I did want it. People also dump fighting dogs, which is kind of like dropping off some live dynamite and seeing whether it blows up and hurts anyone. Animal control comes out very fast for those animals.

  11. My grandmother firmly believed:

    1. If a stray cat comes to your house, you may look for good luck.
    2. Driving away a cat that has come voluntarily to your house will cause
    you bad luck.

  12. Ada – Get wasp spray. It shoots a long distance and will temporarily blind the intruder. If you mistake your DH for an intruder he’ll recover.

  13. Lemon – sound advice. Kind of the same idea with the taser – if the kids find it and play with it, they’ll be sorry, but not dead.

  14. I love cats! Our current cat was one of a litter of kittens of a stray momcat. She didn’t come to our door, though, but to a friend. The friend is one of those feral cat rescuers. so she provided shelter, and then when the kittens arrrived, we went and got one.

  15. My oldest kid is quite allergic to dogs. He never had trouble with our last cat (who died when my oldest was 6). We were hesitant to get another cat because he was showing signs of mild allergy around SIL’s 5 cats. But we finally did it, and there has been no problem. If he literally rubs his nose in the cat’s fur ( and yes, he does that) he will sneeze afterwards for a bit. But the cat often sleeps on his bed and he does not have symptoms. Dogs, though, make him wheeze and his eyes swell shut

  16. My sister has fostered kittens for her local SPCA. It is A LOT of work. Really great of you to take this on, Sheep Farmer, and to get them spayed.

    I am allergic to cats so none for us. The boys have been begging for a pug forever, but so far DH is not budging. If we had a yard, I’d bet we would have gotten one by now, but living in a condo really can complicate things. The kids are not quite ready to take on that responsibility and DH and I have enough on our plate. Maybe in a year or two.

  17. People also dump fighting dogs

    Those people should be gruesomely tortured for as long as possible before they die.

  18. The boys have been begging for a pug… but living in a condo really can complicate things.

    How so? Pugs sleep 14 hours a day and due to their breathing problems exerciser isn’t recommended.

  19. Oh my goodness, that dear wee pug! I want him! I’d love a pug, just so I could entertain myself by listening to its wheezy breathing. They’re adorable. And I’ve always thought they’d be a lazy person (or apartment dweller’s) dream dog because they don’t seem to need/want much exercise.

    Kerri – you could get one of those little patches of grass for it to do its business. Seems to be an apartment/condo thing.

  20. I agree with Rhett and his grandmother, except I would be unlikely to get a pug or any purebred animal because I don’t want to support breeder puppy mills. I’ve heard that there are rescue organizations for animals with pedigrees in one breed, so that’s the one way I would. In our case, it would be more likely to be a small cat that is unlikely to cause allergies. I’ve seen lists for both those traits, haven’t tried cross-referencing yet.

    There was a kitty around here about two months ago that I assume had been left when the owners moved out. I thought befriending it could be a good option for us. Kitty got thin over the course of a couple of weeks, but never took the milk we set out. And then s/he was gone. Not sure if someone called animal control or if a racoon or something got her/him, but there was no more cat to befriend. :(

    Ada, can’t tasers also kill, if applied long enough?

  21. I wrote this post a few weeks ago, so I thought that I would give everyone an update on Mamma Cat and her kittens. The kittens are about six weeks old. On Tuesday, I was able to catch two of them. A friend adopted both of them and they are doing great. The third one is hiding under a shed. I leave food out for it, but I have to be far away before it will come out to eat. Monday night I was able to catch Mamma Cat in a havahart trap, and early Tuesday morning she had a nice car ride to the SPCA. She was released at our farm on Wednesday. She too is avoiding me. The SPCA is really trying to help control the feral cat population, so they do the procedure for free. If Mamma Cat continues to hang around then I will make a donation to the SPCA.

    LFB, you are more than welcome to bring your daughter here and adopt the last kitten. :) It is really cute! In the picture, it is the gray tabby on the left. According to google maps, you are only about 3 1/2 hours away.

  22. SM – yes, there are lots of rescues for specific breeds. We got our current lab from such a place. Our first lab came from a generic rescue organization (local org), as did the minpin ( for her). Don’t overlook generic rescue orgs for purebreds, though, include the Humane Society — any of those places could end up with several purebreds.

  23. Don’t pugs have chronic respiratory problems? One of the reasons I avoid purebreds is that it seems that they are bred for such unnatural characteristics that they end up prone to health problems. When I was a kid we had a purebred Dachshund, and sure enough, it developed the issue that plagues those dogs – severe back problems. The poor dog was in so much pain that she became very mean and bit us all the time. It doesn’t seem right to create breeds with such chronic problems.

  24. Please don’t put out milk for cats. Contrary to popular belief it is really bad for them. If you want to help them, get some Meow Mix at the grocery.

  25. One of my neighbors just got a Frenchie puppy and I have all I can do to keep from stealing him/her..

  26. OK, I just looked up pug health problems, and I am horrified
    “A Pug’s respiratory system is so compromised that some Pugs can’t even run without gasping for breath. Many individuals struggle to breathe in hot or humid weather. In hot weather, Pugs should be kept in an air conditioned home and supervised during outside activity so they don’t overexert themselves and suffer heatstroke.”

  27. Rhett – They are adorable but I am inured to the cute photos.

    What is the condo issue you think you have?

  28. MM,

    Those are features not bugs. Of course I agree completely that it’s despicable to breed dogs to be anything other than happy and healthy.

  29. OK I will confess that I would love to have a dog and DH is the one who is resisting. Any strategies for making it work are quite welcome!

    Issues: Taking the dog outside to poop/pee. Having to pick up poop. Leaving the dog alone for long hours. General wear and tear on furniture/wood floors. Difficulties in traveling: bringing with / kenneling. The initial training period – if its like potty training kids, man, that can take some time and is disgusting.

  30. My Dad loves animals and they like him too. There were stray cats hanging around our house. We had lots of pets. The closest poster in this regard I can think of is HM.
    We don’t have any pets. I felt like I had a full house growing up and I don’t want the responsibility now. My DD is keen on cats. She will most likely get a pet when she is on her own.

  31. General wear and tear on furniture
    But you didn’t get the sexy couch! (right?)

  32. In putting together that list, I realized, really, the issue is me making it happen. I have enough to deal with so am reluctant to take on a pet. None of the issues are insurmountable but if DH is not truly on board and the kids aren’t up to it, it will be my pet. Not sure I’m up for it at this time.

  33. SM – my relatives have # 9 (I think). My kids loved those dogs when we visited.

  34. We love animals (and have both cats and dogs) but they are a drain on your time/energy/money, for sure. I currently have an animal with a broken leg, and it has been a HUGE hassle.

    That said, I can’t imagine a home without them. They are such a part of the family.

  35. DS and I are cat people. DH and DD are dog people. The result is that we have no pets. (None of us is willing to have both a cat and a dog in the house.)

  36. Kerri – if you are not up to it, I don’t suggest taking it on. The other family members must own not only the dog but also any work that goes along with the dog – walking it, feeding and taking it to the vet at times.

  37. I work with a dog rescue organization and regularly foster dogs. Right now I’m fostering a gorgeous, house trained, older, blind lhasa apso. We don’t currently have pets, so fostering is easy. I just avoid the puppies because they are too much work.

  38. Kerri, the advice I got was to have the child get a job walking someone else’s dog, and see how well they handle the responsibility.

  39. Our #1 child is allergic to cats and dogs. Win-win for me and DH, who don’t want any pets! We would entertain the idea of fish in a tank with filter.

  40. Kerri: I would foster a dog for a rescue organization. You will have the dog for a limited period of time, the rescue organization will take care of the vet bills, and you will really help an animal.

  41. @ Houston – I LOVE that idea. DH and I are not sure we want the full commitment of pets after these rascals pass on because (the good Lord willing and the crick don’t rise) should be prime travel years for us. But I can’t imagine not having animals around. Never even thought about fostering.

  42. The real risk of tasers is something that is much debated in the emergency medicine community. We often see people who come in post taser. Sometimes to have the barbs removed, but sometimes just for a check up.

    The recent lecture I went to had a lot of video footage of the physician being tased himself, police officers being tased in a controlled environment, and resident physicians being tased. They stated that the data is pretty solid that tasers do not have cardio effects on normal people. The problem is that many people who are getting tased may have delirium, from drugs or other causes. They are at risk for sudden death even without being tased. Anyway, since the speaker was willing to be tased, I think I’d be willing to have it in my home. Whether it’s actually effective for self protection is a separate question.

  43. “the speaker was willing to be tased,”

    Wow, doctor continuing-education sounds a lot more interesting than lawyer continuing- education!

  44. Well, since we are doing pet pix today, I am going to link to a wonderful story currently on Tinykittens, about an ancient feral in his last year of life. He was taken in by the organization’s founder, who also has a tuxie missing most of his two hind legs – Cassidy, aka The Miracle Kitten. Mute the unnecessary soundtrack.

  45. I am enjoying the pets, but I have a college oriented hijack. I went to the HS awards night last night. They always trot out the top 10% graduating seniors, and give a little blurb about each one, including where the kid is heading to college. I was at the ceremony 2 years ago, and was impressed by 2 things: the kids were stellar – they don’t just do activities, they have to be the officers. They don’t just do athletics – no, they are all team captain and winners of the competitions. They don’t just volunteer – no they do major initiatives and win lots of service awards. They take every AP course we have, and of course their GPAs are top. So that was true 2 years ago and is still true this year. But the other thing I noticed 2 years ago was that no one was going very far away to college. The furthest away that year, among this 10% group, was Delaware. Most were sticking to the immediate tri-state NY metro area, with several headed to Fordham, another to Pace, and another to CUNY. One was headed to Cornell.
    But this year was very different. Same stellar kids. I got dizzy listening to the accomplishments. I cannot fathom doing all that, even now, let alone at 18. And this year, they are more daring in where they are headed. Yes, about half are still in the immediate area, but the others are headed to California, Louisiana, Rhode Island…
    So here are the schools:
    Nearby schools: SUNY Binghamton, Cornell (2), Marist, Sacred Heart, Villanova, NYU(2), Fordham (2)
    and not so local: CMU (2, wow!), Tulane, UCLA, UVa, Loyola Marymount, URichmond, Clemson, Stanford (wow!), and Brown (wow again).

    and half the kids said they were going into engineering. Amazing. I think we are starting to see the results of the big demographic shift in our town.

  46. Mooshi: I’m surprised that there are not more Ivies on your list. Every year, we have a handful of kids from our high school go to HSPY. Because of where I live, Rice is also a popular option.

  47. I think we are starting to see the results of the big demographic shift in our town.

    Mooshi – what is the big demographic shift taking place ?

  48. Our salutatorian is going to Rice. It is very rare for someone from my district to get accepted to Rice, and he’s excited to attend to study engineering.

    Houston, it’s very hard for some of the micro districts to get kids admitted to the Ivies. There’s just too many talented kids applying to the same schools. It’s easier to get accepted to Penn or Cornell because they have larger classes. It’s not common to see kids get admitted to Stanford, Yale, Harvard or Princeton.

  49. Two years ago, one kid was headed to Cornell (is that an Ivy?) and the rest were more like NYU or Fordham. Private Catholic colleges are really popular in our HS.

  50. Here, I’ve noticed that those students who are sort of the upstanding citizens but not quite the level required by UNC – Chapel Hill, go to Appalachian State. It is in the mountains so that may appeal to cold weather people.

  51. Our town was traditionally a town of Italian-Americans who had moved in from the Bronx or Queens as they became wealthier. They tended to be small businessmen. These families are still probably the majority – parents of my kids classmates include a pizza shop owner, several nurses, some real estate agents, a guy who imports shoes for Irish stepdancers, a dad who is a senior custodian in the NY Housing Authority, and an autobody shop owner. They are overwhelmingly conservative Catholics, family oriented, and like their kids to go to Catholic colleges.

    But as the older Italian-Americans die off or retire to Florida, professional types have been moving in. Many are Asian. The parents are doctors, lawyers, bankers. They have very different aspirations for their kids.

    One thing I noticed… of the kids headed to the more traditional schools, all were white. Most of the kids heading to the prestige schools were Asian (Japanese and Chinese), but not all. Our microdistrict has a growing Hispanic population but they are young and haven’t hit HS yet. We also have a fair number of middle eastern kids, but none in this group. Finally, I think there are 3 black kids in the entire school, and 2 of them are 9th grade twins (and were very prominent in the 9th grade awards)

    It is entertaining to watch this stuff…

  52. Interesting – this year DD#1’s school with roughly 100 graduating seniors have 3 accepted to Yale, though not all are planning to attend. Their first graduating class was in 2012. The last few years at least 1 has been accepted to Rice and Catholic Universities are fairly popular (Catholic High School) and in vs. out of state is fairly even.

  53. I think it may have to do with the 2017 economy being much better than the 2015 economy. #thankstrump (just kidding, not trying to turn this into politics land).

  54. Congratulations, LfB. And yes, you have officially torn up your middle class membership card.

  55. I’m glad we can be a safe space on the internet for you to share that, LFB. Congrats!

  56. “the speaker was willing to be tased,”

    Wow, doctor continuing-education sounds a lot more interesting than lawyer continuing- education!

    NOB – +1 Just attended a conference Tuesday primarily for CLE. Parts of those things are just brutally dull.

  57. Have any of you adopted a stray that has shown up at your house?

    I have been known to leave a drop of honey near Stumpy the gecko (he’s missing a leg), who lives in the general vicinity of our fridge.

    We’re also following with interest the progress of Outside Lizard, an anole who’s discovered that inside the house there are no predatory birds and even the fat Madagascar day geckos are easy to chase off.

  58. Laura, I have a hard time figuring out what’s a coupe vs a sedan, or what’s an sUV vs mini van, but even I can tell that thing is hawt. ;-D

  59. Beautiful! But…what kind of car is it? Yeah, I’m dumb about cars.

  60. MM, that’s very interesting. I agree demographics are changing. As a point of reference, that same group back in 2010 included 4 Cornell, 1 Harvard, 1 MIT. Plus the distant schools included U Michigan, USC, and U Miami. The rest were the usual suspects including a couple going to BC.

    We adopted our first dog, who had mild anxiety and anger issues. Since then our dogs have been purebreds, a choice preferred by my husband. We’ve had family and friends lecture us about how evil we are for not selecting shelter dogs. I don’t care for dogs or cats (sorry!) so I leave all the details to the rest of the family.

  61. Someone I know just booked business class flights traveling to London and returning from Paris through Norwegian for $2000. In July. Seems like a bargain.

  62. “Beautiful! But…what kind of car is it? ”

    I don’t know if cars of this caliber are like colleges around here. We never utter the exact name. :) I figured it out by zooming in on the red thing on the front tire. I don’t know cars either.

  63. “I figured it out by zooming in on the red thing on the front tire.”

    Ok, I am laughing here. Hard. I was not actually trying to be mysterious. :-) 2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet. To put that in actual words, it’s a 911 convertible (“cabriolet” — I guess “convertible” is too pedestrian), with all-wheel drive (the “4”), with a trim level that is tuned more for driving performance (the GTS).

    Freaking awesome — it is probably not quite as fast off the line as the Mustang (though it’s close), but I have never driven anything that is quite as solid around a corner at speed. I mean, my “oh shit” level is at maybe 5% of this car’s. And it just drives intuitively; I swear, it is like I sat there in the driver’s seat and they built the car around me. Best invention ever: “sport plus” mode. The engine sounds almost as awesomely growly as the Mustang V8 (it’s a V6 but has about the same horsepower as the Mustang), and the car just jumps when you hit the gas. But the best part is when you need to downshift, the engine automatically rev matches for you (you hear it do a little blip, like you just touched the gas, even though your foot is nowhere near the gas pedal), so the downshift is smooth and the car doesn’t jerk. I was honestly looking at the 4 or 4S models for price, but once I drove the GTS, I was a goner — we had even driven a few older Turbo models (the top-line version, same price range because they were a few years older), and this one was more responsive and dead-bang-on and, well, better.

    I can rationalize this only as a two-for-one swap: because it has AWD, I am going to get a set of snow tires and drive it year-round, so I no longer need two separate vehicles. :-)

  64. Laura — You know your kids are going to be begging you to let them drive that car when they get their license. Maybe you should hide the keys! Congrats, it’s really nice.

  65. You go Laura! Kerri, agree regarding fostering to give it a try. It seems to me that the people who don’t want the pet often end up being the people who love it the most. My DH wasn’t too jazzed about the two replacement cats and now he’s all in because they are too adorable for words.

  66. In unrelated car news, the broker still hasn’t cashed my check for the car I got three months ago. I even called them about 6 weeks ago and poked them about it!

  67. LfB – you’d fit right in living in Detroit. You’d have no problem talking cars with all the engineers, even when it is about imports.

    My DH’s dream car is a Porsche. Yesterday we were commenting on this beautiful dark blue Ferrari and DH said he’d take that car, but it’s too bad we have a Fiat budget.

  68. @NoB: well, at least it’s a stick. So if they’re going to try to Ferris Bueller it, they’ll have to work at it. :-)

    I honestly think the most beautiful car on the road right now is the Maserati GT, followed closely by the Jag F-Type. But the former does not come in a stick, and the latter has no back seat and makes you choose between having a stick and having AWD and the hot engine. So in the end I went with the decent-looking vehicle* that makes me feel like I’m in a freaking dream when I drive it.

    *Not a humble brag – I’m not a huge fan of the way Porsches look, although this is one of the prettier ones.

  69. “2015 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet”

    At least it’s used. You haven’t given up all your Totebag cred yet! Congrats!

  70. My kid glanced at the so fast I thought he hadn’t seen the screen, so I asked him what kind of car this is and he said “Carrera”. He wants a Porsche when he gets his DL, lol. He “awwwwed at the kittens appropriately without prompting.

  71. I love cars, and I must confess I had no idea what this was until I also zoomed in. Congratulations Laura! Enjoy!

  72. Congrats LfB ! I guessed the car right. I picture you as Lady Grantham some days and Cat Lady other days. Today was Lady Grantham (sans chauffeur though).

  73. Louise, what an obnoxious car guy friend! (Unless you had asked him to correct you, of course)

  74. Rocky, are you required to reissue a stake check if asked to do so, or can you just tell them they’re out of luck?

  75. LfB – I love the look of that car! Looks like some snazzy Brembo brakes too, yes? Congrats on the new toy. What a perfect time of year to get it!

  76. Actually, since I’ll be 70, I kind of hope there are at least some driverless electric cars to take me places. But I’m not holding my breath about everyone giving up private ownership of cars. I’m still waiting for the paperless office.

    And where’s my personal jetpack, anyway?

  77. Yes, I’m also hoping for driverless cars.

    Harking back to some of our comments about the slave article, Jesse Singal writes don’t kid yourself we’re all capable of evil.

    One of the key themes of Tizons’ article is that his family was, in many senses, almost a caricature of the striving, American-dream-seeking immigrant experience. They were normal. They were normal and yet they had a slave. To which one could respond, “Well, no, they’re not normal — they are deranged psychopaths to have managed to simply live for decades and decades with a slave under their roof. That is not something normal people do, and it’s wrong to portray it as such.”

    But the entire brutal weight of human history contradicts this view. Normal people — people who otherwise have no signs of derangement or a lack of a grip on basic human moral principles — do evil stuff all the time. One could write millions of pages detailing all the times when evil acts were perpetrated, abetted, or not resisted by people who were, in every other respect, perfectly normal. It’s safe to say, to a certain approximation, that all of us — I really mean this; I really mean you and your family and everyone you love — could, in a different historical context, have been a slaver or a Holocaust-perpetrator or at the very least decided it wasn’t worth the trouble to contest these grotesque crimes. Because that’s the human condition: We don’t have easy access to a zoomed-out view of morality and empathy. We do what the people around us are doing, what our culture is doing. Tizon’s Filipino family came from a place where a form of slavery was quite common, and moving to America didn’t change that fact.

  78. @Rocky: I was more concerned about doing it before *I* was obsolete. 😉 A few knee/back issues made me realize that there will likely come a time when I can no longer drive a manual, and I realized I was going to be *pissed* if I saved for my dream car for so long that I could never actually enjoy it.

    @CoC: I totally agree with that article. In fact, I think part of the reason these things keep recurring is because people think People Like Them couldn’t possibly do something like That.

  79. Completely off topic.

    Over the years I’ve taught a variety of things. I’ve taught swimming, philosophy, and technology. Now I participate in various Facebook groups about this and that — sewing, ketogenic dieting, etc.

    It used to drive me batty that I would assign the students something, or explain something, and they would still come up to me after class and ask, essentially, “but does this apply to me?” On the dieting groups, for example, people will constantly post, “How do I get started with a keto diet?” That question is answered in the FAQ, in the intro to the group, in the files that are pinned to the group, and in the body of the group over and over and over, every day. But every person who joins wants a direct answer specifically to him or her (often a her).

    It’s just like in my teaching days. Students wanted me to tell them that yes, you specifically need to write a five-page paper on XYZ topic, and yes, your proposed topic is fine, because it’s on XYZ, and so forth.

    Why do you think people do this, and is there some way teachers can address this kind of reaction without actually walking around the room, sitting next to each student, and telling him or her “Here’s the assignment, it applies to you, Joe/Joan, please have it in by next Tuesday.”

  80. Oh, and at the library, I used to teach group classes in the classroom, in addition to teaching one-on-ones. The classes were stuff like “Building Your First Website” or “Creating a Résumé In Word”. The students (all adults, and not Millennial snowflakes) would wait until class was over and then come up to me and ask stuff that I had just explained. Because it might not apply to them and their specific circumstances, I guess. I eventually stopped teaching group classes and only did one-on-ones, since that seemed to be the only way to satisfy anyone anyway.

  81. RMS, I would love to have the answer to that one! Actually, far worse are the students who DON’T ask, and then when they see the 0 for the assignment, say “I didn’t think that applied to me!”

  82. Rocky, why are you asking that at the tail end of a post? Send it in to be a day’s topic!

  83. Eh, it’ll keep us entertained for Sunday and then maybe Monday morning. I don’t think it’s engaging enough for a full-fledged topic.

  84. #1 son’s explanation for why he sometimes fails to do assigned work is that he’s just “f%$#ing lazy.” Possibly this same explanation applies for others?

  85. But that’s really not it, at least for the phenomenon I’m discussing. People will sit through a two-hour class while I explain how to organize a resume, and then come line up at the end and say, “So, how do I organize my resume?” Partly, it’s that they can’t get from the general to the specific. “List your jobs, with dates, with the most recent first.” “How do I list my previous jobs?” “What was your most recent job?” “Working at Burger King.” “From when til when?” “March 2015 to April 2016.” “Put that first.”

  86. RMS, are you giving them some kind of form, like a model resume with blanks, for them to fill in as you go? What you describe sounds like a person who can’t understand the instructions until s/he tries to do it. You might also have people who just space out during the talking portion and need regular interludes of “now you try” to wake them up. Like, “I’m going to tell you now how to list your previous jobs, and then I want you to list your previous jobs that way on the form I passed out.”

    And on the website stuff, is this a set-up where everyone has a terminal so they can all be trying out the steps as you go along? Because for anything on a computer, my experience is that people absorb nothing unless they’re doing it themselves while you walk them through it.

    The smarter your audience, the more information they can absorb in lecture format before they tune out, at least in my experience of trying to pass on information to mixed crowds. The questions about stuff you covered, or very basic questions that if the person didn’t understand that the whole talk must have made no sense, are not good signs . . . (I got some of those at the middle school career day, alas.) It sounds like you’re dealing with a group that can’t absorb as much spoken information as you’re giving them before they need to either try it out, or they’re going to forget it.

  87. Yes, I definitely have “Now you do it” breaks. Even then they come double-check. I don’t know, maybe they’re used to getting everything wrong and getting marked down even when they thought they were doing it right? I could understand that.

  88. And back to Facebook — if you want to know how to get started with a Keto diet, why don’t you read the pinned file called “How to Get Started with a Keto Diet”? I guess that could be sheer laziness, but you’re going to get your ass kicked by the other members.

  89. When training a new person I show them, allow them to ask questions. Then I have given people very detailed step by step documentation about that piece starting from: Go to this file folder, find XX file, save it as XX etc. With those details I again document why they are working on the file.
    Inspite of this, I get people who don’t want to go through the step by step instructions on their own. They will ask me to come to their desks and watch them as they go through the process. Sometimes they want me to be present twice or more. Some people just have a hard time walking themselves through it even with detailed instructions. Many times no one questions why exactly they are doing something other than they inherited it from someone else. Very few people will take the initiative to update things that are old, inefficient or get rid of things that don’t need to be done.

  90. The thing that drives me crazy on Facebook is when people ask for the millionth time for a recommendation for a plumber in our town Facebook page. All you have to do is search plumber and all of the posts about plumbers magically appear.

    I have some home repairs that I’ve been avoiding because I never recovered front he trauma of my bathroom renovations. Also, I kept putting everything off until after the mitzvah, but now I have to deal with some stuff. It is all stuff that isn’t fun. For example, replacing a ceiling fan, painting several rooms and new carpet for our basement. I just don’t feel like making the calls, scheduling appointments, doing research etc.

  91. I’m familiar with the questions after the lecture. I also know that as a person who doesn’t mind asking questions when I’m in the audience, I have often had others come up to me to thank me for what they were wondering about but didn’t want to ask, for fear of looking dumb. I’d rather look dumb in front of a roomful of people than be dumb in the big wide world.

    I’ve never tried it, but I’ve seen people encourage their audience to text them or post in a website or something if they have questions during the talk. That seems to be quite successful. The old school version, of course, is passing out index cards.

    Online, I often respond (I think) rather flatly “it’s at the top of the page” and am repeatedly amazed that they seem nonflummoxed. Or maybe they’re looking for something more specific than you realize, like the time I asked the lawyers on NYC on here what they were hearing about something in their area involving the legal community, and someone responded, clearly very put off, told me I could just google it and posted an article from a national publication that had exactly the same info and many of the same phrases, as all the other national reports on it. She simply did not understand that I had read that already and was asking for something beyond it. Why she didn’t notice that I addressed my comment to that *specific* audience and asked what they were hearing *there*, I don’t know, but she’s an intelligent person and not generally tone deaf. Are you sure that people are asking for exactly what’s up there?

  92. Rocky, as a former academician, I’m sure you’re aware of the many “read the syllabus” T-shirts and cartoons. Isn’t this the same thing?

  93. Yes, I have seen those. And now that I think about it, that might be part of the same phenomenon. Of course you can easily blame laziness or stupidity, but I still think there’s something else going on. Some fundamental lack of trust, maybe? Some sense that if you don’t hear it from the horse’s mouth, then it will turn out not to be true? I don’t know, maybe I’m just overthinking it. But still…somehow people think that Lucy will pull the football out from under them if they just read the syllabus, or if they don’t get the information delivered personally.

  94. S&M, I don’t recall that specific incident, but I remember another noteworthy one where it was very unclear that you were seeking advice from specific people. Sometimes it’s the other person’s fault for not understanding what you’re asking, and sometimes the issue is on your end because you’re not being clear enough.

  95. On Facebook and other online sites, the main reason IMHO people often ask easily answered questions is because the objective is not only to obtain information, but also to participate in a conversation. Online communication gives the illusion, often, of being in a relationship of some sort. Others are simply too lazy to search and still others think that all knowledge is hoarded and that the real scoop can only be obtained from someone who even in an online attenuated way treats you as a member of community and therefore eligible to receive special info.

  96. DD, I’m referring to a list around April 14. If you feel the need to discuss further, go ahead. I brought it up simply as an example of how two people can “read” something differently.

  97. DD, i just checked. I did not, in fact, address lawyers specifically, just asked residents of the area if they had additional info. The angry response saying I could look it up myself did not contain any additional info, or give any clue as to how to google what’s being said in another part of the country about a thing that happened there.

    S&M on April 12, 2017 at 8:48 pm
    New Yorkers, do you have more info than this little piece gives?

  98. Rocky, did you not spend much of the first day of class going over the syllabus, and were you not asked 1001 times how grades were calculated/ if a grade would be dropped, or told that they didn’t know they should read assignments before class/use footnotes/schedule make ups before missing an exam? I included blanks on the front page and gave them a couple minutes to get contact info from two other students because I did not repeat class, so if they missed, they’d need to get notes from a classmate, but they still came to my office and asked if we did anything in class.

  99. “I just don’t feel like making the calls, scheduling appointments, doing research etc.”

    I can relate as I spent the last few days chasing down vendors who don’t call back when they say they will and marking up a contract with wrong colors listed as I prepare to replace a large-ticket item in my backyard. Oh well, first world problems.

    “On Facebook and other online sites, the main reason IMHO people often ask easily answered questions is because the objective is not only to obtain information, but also to participate in a conversation.”

    Yup. Recently someone asking a basic question on a forum defended it by saying he wanted to be “social” so that’s why he didn’t google it. I guess there’s plenty of other “social” people who will respond. :)

  100. I always give my students a syllabus quiz the first day of class. It is open syllabus, as the point is to just make them (at least briefly), read the syllabus. I do it in part to test out the online quiz facility with the students, since many of them have trouble with that as well. I also post the syllabus online at the top of the class Blackboard site. The syllabus has a detailed breakdown of exactly how the grade is calculated. And STILL, I get the question about how grades are calculated, over, and over. I think they don’t believe the syllabus.

  101. S&M, in that instance, if you wanted more information than is included in that article, why wouldn’t you first try using Google (or whichever search engine in your favorite)? The logical place to start is searching for the woman’s name, I’m sure all kinds of info would come up. I don’t know why you would expect that people here would have any information that wasn’t available online.

    My general point is that communication is a two-way street, and if there is a problem, sometimes it’s on your end, and sometimes it’s on the other person’s end. So if you ask a question and don’t get the response you want, before you get bent out of shape about the other person being dense, try restating your question in a way that might be clearer.

  102. The thing that drives me crazy on Facebook is when people ask for the millionth time for a recommendation for a plumber in our town Facebook page. All you have to do is search plumber and all of the posts about plumbers magically appear.

    We get that all the time on our Nextdoor site. There’s a section specifically for recommendations where you can easily look up previous ones. But every few months, if not sooner, someone else will ask for plumber recommendations.

    Partly, it’s that they can’t get from the general to the specific.

    RMS, I think this is mostly it. They don’t know how to make the connection from your general instructions to their specific information. I’m guessing the people going to the library for a resume writing workshop probably have less “cognitive bandwidth” than the group here, so you need to remember that as well.

  103. “communication is a two-way street, and if there is a problem, sometimes it’s on your end, and sometimes it’s on the other person’s end”

    That’s my point too. :)
    As I said last night, the person who did not notice that I was asking specifically for info not available outside the area/online, the sort of thing people were raising eyebrows about but not committing to writing, is an intelligent, insightful person. Sometimes two people just misconnect. As may have happened here.

  104. I was asking specifically for info not available outside the area/online, the sort of thing people were raising eyebrows about but not committing to writing,

    I don’t think that exists anymore.

  105. Lauren, perhaps it would be easier to do some of those tasks yourself. The time you’d spend doing it yourself might be less than the time to find contractors, schedule appointments, etc.

    E.g., depending on your ceiling height, replacing a ceiling fan is no more than a half day job. Replacing one is a lot easier than adding one, assuming the one you have is properly installed.

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