Thoughts on Cat/Baby/Puppy Videos

My friend Julie and I trade youtube videos. I send her videos of cats doing weird things and she responds with videos of babies doing cute things. Although I really only knew of about 4 cat videos so I’m pretty much tapped out.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about the societal effects of the ubiquity of cute baby/cat/puppy videos on the web. When I see or hear about young people (mainly twenty-something city dwellers with busy/irregular schedules and constantly changing living and financial situations) getting pets and then being unable to properly take care of them, it makes me wonder what they’re thinking when they get the pets.

First consider the classic situation where a child wants a puppy. They’re motivated by how cute puppies are, they think about how much fun it’ll be to play with, all the cool tricks they’ll teach it to do, etc, but as their pre-frontal cortexes are far from fully developed, and they’ve probably had very little experience with responsibility, they think little about the big picture. Also their dog exposure has likely been with other people’s pets. They’ve never actually had to take care of them. They don’t really realize how much hard work and sacrifice that goes into training and taking care of a dog. Parents may try to tell, them, and they claim to get it and that they’ll take care of it. Then of course all too often if they get the puppy, the parents are left taking care of it.

But I’m talking about adults (although many would argue that people of my age and generation are still closer to children in many ways). Still though, there is this same dynamic at work. People see other people’s pets, they see the cute things they do, and don’t see much of the work that goes into caring for them. This leads to a disconnect which causes people to have an inaccurate idea of what it means to be a pet owner.  That’s nothing new, but now with the millions of videos on the internet of cats/dogs doing cute and funny things, that disconnect is even greater. Instead of someone’s exposure to pets being comprised almost entirely of real-world experience, wherein they might actually witness some of the downsides of pet ownership (misbehavior, the steaming dumps left on the carpet, biting, shredding of valuables, etc), it’s increasingly made up of media exposure, where they’re very unlikely to witness any of that stuff, and even if they do, they don’t smell the shit or feel the bite (granted, some of the positives are being lost in translation as well).

The videos that are posted on the web, especially the ones that are widely circulated and viewed, tend to be of animals doing cute/funny things. Nobody posts a video of them spending a half hour trying to get a shit stain out of their favorite rug only to have to throw it out, or lying awake in bed fuming with hate because their neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking. But the instant Rufus jumps onto a moving skateboard, it’s uploaded for the world to see. Then we see it, and that positive feeling will be processed by our brains, and added to our unconscious opinion about dogs.  Then, when we’re deciding whether or not we should get a puppy, our unconscious, which has been affected by thousands of similar experiences tell us, “Yes, dogs are cute, they do funny things that make you happy,” while the voice saying “Dogs a lot of work and sacrifice” isn’t nearly as strong because there’s not as much past experience of that to draw from.

This, of course, is all just speculation on my part, but I’d be interested to see data on views of cat/dog video views and pet ownership/adoption.  Of course this type of effect could be also be happening with babies. How are people’s decisions on whether to have/adopt children being affected by “Charlie Bit My Finger” or THIS? Or with car ownership, or basically any product/service. These types of effects, coupled with humanity’s tendency to be overly optimistic, could account for large scale shifts in our behavior/decision-making.

And to be clear, I’m not trying to say I hate dogs/cats/babies or that when people decide to adopt/have one they’re making a poor, uninformed decision.  I just think that it’s important to think about how our ever-growing exposure to media (and to certain types of content) is affecting how we think, feel and make decisions.


Found Negatives

Last week when I was cleaning up for T2 (aftermath pictured below) I found some photo negatives underneath the false bottom of a built in cabinet in our living room.


important diagram

They look pretty old, they’re probably from the 80s.  It looks like there’s a lot of information lost from them, but I scanned them and messed around in Photoshop a bit to see what I could get from them.  I’m sure there are much better techniques than the ridiculous pile of adjustment layers I used to try to make the negatives decipherable.  I’ll have to look into those eventually (for now I just wanted to get a basic idea of what’s in the photos) and remove the noise,etc.  Anyway, here are the negatives, and some partially salvaged photos:

Found Negatives

Found Negatives

Found Photo 1

Fixed up a bit. Some nice moustaches happening there.

Found Photo 2

Kids at a birthday party? Someone in a red sweatsuit?

Found Photo 3

Creepy half pic with woman in it.



I’ve been wanting to do some writing for fun for a while.  But it’s hard for me to start writing anything, so I came up with a new method to generate prompts.  I started off by picking a number, this time I selected 10.  Then I went to wikipedia, selected “Random Article,” took the 10th word in that article and searched Thinkstock with it (just because I’m used to it and it has funny pictures, but you could use any sort of image search).  From there I took the first picture and saved it, and repeated the process to end up with 2 images.  Once I had the 2 images I decided to write for 10 minutes using the 2 images as a prompt.  I ended up writing for longer than that, but I think using whichever number you choose as a minimum or maximum time limit could be helpful in bringing some discipline to the process.  About halfway through the story I felt I needed a little more guidance, and repeated the process to help me out with another idea for one of the characters.  So here’s the result (with the photos):

Hey man. The name’s Rebus. You got a few minutes? Look I know you’re busy, tryin’ to get to the train or whatever. You look like one of them business types, which is perfect actually, because what I got here is a bona-fide business opportunity, so I’ll just walk with you and we can do a little walk n’ chat thing, huh?

OK I bet you’re lookin’ at me thinking’, “Long hair, goatee, what the hell kind of business opportunity does this guy have for me, the short-cropped, no-bearded businessman I am?”  But don’t let the differences in our haircuts wall you off from the opportunity to build a successful business enterprise, brick by brick. As my uncle Pete used to say, “you gotta keep cracking’ coconuts til you find the milk.” Now we’re from Missouri, so he didn’t realize that just about every coconut has milk in it. But as it turns out, they do, and that’s what I want to talk to you about.

Now you may be saying to yourself “I’m not in the grocery business.” Unless you are, I think Jewel has an office building around here actually. OK I figured you probably weren’t. If you know where that building is though let me know, I should actually probably talk to them about this. Ok not a problem, I’ll find it later. But anyway my idea here is this: Fresh coconuts. Specifically, selling ’em to people.

I realize that sounds pretty simple, and it is, but there’s more to it than that. You see, I was picking up my brother in law Gary from his anthropology class at community college. And I was there 50 minutes early so I figured I’d walk over to his class to tell him that I was there early and yeah it was my fault cuz he definitely told me the right time, but also I was pretty busy, and would he want to just leave early since I was already there and he can get the notes from someone else in the class? Anyway, it turns out I was there on the wrong day, so Gary wasn’t even there, and the room was being used for an economics class. Now I’m not good with money, I’ll say that right now, so if we do this you’re gonna have to handle all the technical money things. I’m more of an idea man. But since I was there, I figured I’d learn a bit of economics so my trip wouldn’t be a waste. And boy am I glad I did, because the professor was talking about these things called complementary products. I don’t know if you know what those are, but I guess the idea is people buy one, they gotta buy the other, like chicken and buffalo sauce. So all you gotta do is sell one of them, then people realize they gotta buy the other one too. Now you’re probably thinking “Well no, they can just return the first one when they realize that,” and that’s where 2 key words come in “No refunds.” So if you’re lost, don’t worry, this is where the whole thing comes into crystal clear focus. One guy sells coconuts, and then, people gotta open them somehow, which is where you come in, sellin’ hatchets to open ’em with. Is it starting to come together for you? I can see the gears turnin’ in your head there.

But I bet you’re thinkin’ what I was thinkin’ at first, “Why doesn’t one guy just sell both?” That’s what most people would do, but not me, and here’s why: less people are gonna buy the coconuts when they know they gotta buy the hatchet too, cuz that doubles the price, and they’re thinking, “Do I really want to spend 10 dollars right now?” Of Course they don’t, nobody wants to spend 10 dollars. But if you sell just coconuts, they’re thinking “Hey, 5 dollars for a coconut, not too bad,” and they buy it. Then they’ve got the coconut, but no way to get to that milk, and they think, “Oh man I gotta open this somehow, but I don’t have anything to open it with.” They ask me, and I tell them I only sell coconuts. Then they wanna return the coconut thinking they don’t wanna spend another 5 bucks on something to open it with, and this is where the no refunds policy comes in handy. But then I’ll say, “Oh, you know what though? I just saw a guy right down the block a bit sellin’ hatchets, bet those would open a coconut right up.” Then they go to you, buy the hatchet, and boom, we got 10 bucks out of ’em, when they thought they were only gonna spend 5.

Now I’ll give you some time and let this sink in. I gotta move kind of fast on this, but you look like a guy that knows what you’re doin’, so I’ll let you think on it a bit. Here’s my card. It’s actually my friend’s card because I’m in between phones right now, but call the number and tell Wanda that you’re calling for ReRe and she’ll get the message to me.



Here’s a post

Ok, so it’s a bit late, and I want to try to get some sleep, so I’ll make this one quick. Really I’m just hoping this post will break the seal, becoming the first in a stream of pointless, rambling, half-baked posts about whatever the hell it is I feel like writing about. The idea is not so much to post polished material, but to have somewhere to articulate ideas that come to me so they’re not lost forever. I may follow up or expand on some, and I certainly welcome feedback from anyone who may stumble across this blog.

Here are some things that have happened in the past week:

-I did a 5 day juice fast.

-A friend and I built what was supposed to be a sensory deprivation tent for an art show last Saturday.  Here’s me fake meditating inside the tent:


-I came in 1st and 10th place in a slogan contest for Jeppson’s Malort on Facebook.

More on those things later.