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Day: October 17, 2011

“Cat Calls” by Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan

“Cat Calls” by Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan

c.2011, SquareOne Publishers
$14.95 U.S.
123 pages



You’ve been thinking lately about the pitter-patter of tiny feet.

You love a round baby belly and tiny baby ears. You long to gaze into an innocent little face as you hold your baby in your arms. Definitely – it’s time to bring new life to your household.

But first, there’s so much to do. You need to get a new litter box, catnip toys, and a collar with a bell. And, according to authors Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan, you’ll also want to kitten-proof your home. In their new book “Cat Calls,” they’ll give you lots more advice on being a new cat owner.

For most of her life, Jeanne Adlon has been an animal lover. She worked with Cleveland Amory and his Fund for Animals. She owned a Manhattan boutique for cats and their owners, and she was one of New York City’s first full-time cat sitters.

The job, she says, “is not for wimps.”

Adlon has climbed up fire escapes to find her clients. She’s broken into apartments, dodged paint tarps, and she’s been clawed, scratched and ignored. Still, she loves her job because it’s “never dull.”

If you’re game, there are lots of places to adopt a cat, says Adlon. You might know someone with free kittens. You might spot a stray in need of a home, or maybe you’ve gone to a shelter and fallen in love. Don’t forget, she says, that older cats make great companions, too, and there’s nothing better than matching a senior cat with a senior citizen.

Cat-proof your home before Fluffy arrives, and have plenty of toys, food, and treats on-hand for the big day. You might want to confine your new family member to one safe room, just until she gets settled. Then let her explore on her own.

Cats are notoriously finicky, but Adlon has a few tips on the pickiest of pussycats. There are ways, for instance, of circumventing food fussiness and scratch-post preferences. And reluctance to use the litter box may be more than just Puss being persnickety.

Filled with advice and charming stories that are like catnip to feline fans, “Cat Calls” is great for neophyte cat owners.

But for cat veterans, there are two big issues…

Though this book appears to be one for adults, the plentiful use of the word “kitty” made me feel as though I’d stumbled on a mis-shelved kid’s book. Yes, it’s a warm-fuzzy term, but not when it occurs several times in a paragraph and not in an advice book with genuine information.  Overused, “kitty” made me view this book less seriously.
Secondly, some information is printed in orangey-pink ink that’s hard to read. Authors Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan offer interesting tidbits here, but many adults might find those asides impossible to see clearly.

So, I’d consider “Cat Calls” as a Young Adult book. It’s purrfect for newbie cat owners. But if you’re a grown-up with experience and the pitter-patter of paws is long-familiar in your house, missing this book won’t be a cat-astrophe.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

Teachers find smartphones an effective learning tool

Graphic by Andrew Jackson/KEIZERTIMES

Of the Keizertimes

In most classes at McNary High School, cell phones are subject to a zero-tolerance policy.

If a student has one out during instruction time, chances are good the phone will end up confiscated until the end of the day. The reasoning behind the policy serves many functions: it keeps students from attempting to copy tests on the sly, keeps distractions to a minimum, and keeps them off social media networks where they might fan the flames of confrontations between other such that have produced recent fights.

But, like any new technology, cell phones have their benefits and drawbacks.

“We used to have these discussions about calculators in the classroom and before that I’m sure there were the same discussions about slide rulers,” said John Honey, McNary High School principal.

It’s an especially relevant example. Earlier this school year, a McNary instructor came to Honey asking for the go-ahead to purchase 30 scientific calculators. Honey went to the classroom and asked how many students had smart phones, then how many students had calculators on them, then how many could get scientific calculators on their phones.

Instead of 30 calculators, the school ended up purchasing 10. At a time when every penny matters due to budget cuts, the incident brings into the sharp focus the pros and cons of technology in the classroom.

“It comes down to whether we want them not to have cell phones or not have calculators. Which rule is more important?” Honey asked.

In another recent example, Honey sat in on a classroom where the instructor had written a lyric by a contemporary artist on the board that had relevance to a text the class was studying. When no one came up with the answer, Honey encouraged a nearby student to look it up on his phone, despite the no cell phone rules.

“It’s class-related and using available resources and it became a teachable moment,” Honey said.

He’s also seen a teacher use cell phones as instant gauges of student aptitude. Using a website that allows students to text an answer to a question, the instructor gave students a final question at the end of each lesson that they had to text an answer to.

“Based on the results that he received real-time in class, he was able to determine whether more time was needed on a specific subject,” Honey said.

The question of whether to allow students to use cell phone in class is rapidly becoming one of management rather than pros and cons, Honey said. Watching a video of another local teacher in action he was tempted to chide the colleague for wearing a fanny pack during class. As it turned out, the fanny pack was a cell phone management technique.

“That’s where he put the cell phones he found out in class and just by wearing it, it was a reminder to the kids who might think of pulling out their phones,” Honey said. “It’s a matter of managing technology and learning how to use it  in the classroom because there’s some really good things there and why would we turn our back on it?”