A Hamster’s Tale

By Jim Hagarty

It’s not easy to come by a little bit of dignity in this world and it’s hard, for us all, sometimes, to keep our heads up with all the little humiliations we have to put up with in the average week.

But if people sometimes wonder what it is we have to do for a little respect, imagine the plight of the lowly hamster, who, though well fed, has a curious role to play in the scheme of things. As far as can be determined, these little guys are born to amuse – people. Plain and simple. And so they tear around in their little cages, in full view of the members of whatever household they happen to land in, eating, sleeping and, well, you know, in full view of everyone. If they want privacy, they can crawl into a cardboard tube or cover themselves up with woodshavings but that’s about it as far as any personal space is concerned.

hamster in bowl

They run their little ferris wheels so long and hard that they finally collapse in a pile. And let loose in their “space balls”, they explore every square inch of their surroundings, leaving nothing out and shaking off the concussions that surely must come from all that bashing and crashing into door frames and furniture.

One such creature, a “teddy bear” hamster called Hammy who has better sideburns than Elvis used to sport, recently took up residence in our home, bringing with him, at the same time, equal amounts of delight and despair.

He’s a better entertainer than half the talent on TV, as he rides along in his big plastic Barbie car, sits on our shoulders and heads and hurls himself off furniture in an effort to go sightseeing – alone.

But Hammy has a dark side to his nature which has us all worried. Though pretty chipper on the surface, it’s apparent he is a pretty conflicted little fellow down deep inside. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that our young hamster has a death wish.

The reason for this admittedly gloomy assessment is the fact that our furry rodent has escaped his quarters four times this week and for such a creature to run free in a house with two murderous cats is just plain asking for it.

The first brush with doom came when the lid popped off his space ball and he broke loose from his confinement. Having not heard the ball in a while, we looked up to see our diminutive dodo ripping around the front hallway with two very interested kitties in hot pursuit. I grabbed the water bottle we keep handy for emergencies and sprayed the cats, but in the excitement managed to give Hammy a good shower as well. He seemed grateful to be returned to his cage.

A couple of similar incidents followed and on Saturday, he somehow escaped from the downstairs bathroom while his cage was being cleaned and headed for behind the furnace which also happens to be the cats’ hideaway. I have sported a gash on my head all week as I slammed my noggin squeezing down to pick up the quickly disappearing prey.

But things really came undone when he ventured too far off a lap, causing our most homicidal feline to pounce, grab the little guy in his mouth and prepare for the final assault. Only extreme yelling and commotion caused him to drop his toy and run for it.

And this is where the dignity part comes in. Imagine if every time we went for a walk, we were hunted down by creatures 20 times our size.

But it also may have something to do with this. As I was going through some receipts the other night, I came across the one for Hammy. Instead of “hamster”, it read “dog food – $8.99.”

No wonder he is depressed. It’s just too bad he’s so determined to fulfil what might be his curious destiny, though it will be cats, and not a dog, who prepare him for the feast.

The Obituary

By Jim Hagarty

Here is how one Huffington Post commenter described this week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland:

“Monday the party died. Tuesday they built the coffin. Wednesday they held the service. Tonight they lower the coffin and pile on the dirt.”

I wish I could have said it as well.

The Sky Giveth

By Jim Hagarty

I have a daughter, 18, and a son, 20. They both have iPhones. And they both, this week, have been talking about Pokemon Go. My daughter has even wandered around our town, playing it.

It is at times like these that I feel I am sharing my home with two Martians and their mother. Or they are sharing their home with some weirdo from Jupiter.

Where the hell did Pokemon Go come from?

And what the hell is it?

Attempts have been made to explain this thing to me. They were as effective as explaining squirrels to a dog. Mostly because I don’t want to know what Pokemon Go is. By the time I learn about it, it will be Pokemon Went, that is one thing I know for sure.

I am not a Luddite (one who hates modernity) and I consider myself pretty cool with today’s technology. But it is as though things keep falling right out of the sky and I am not ready for them and never will be.

I think it took about one 24-hour cycle between the time I first heard about personal drones and the news that a friend of mine had one and was posting pictures on the Internet that he had taken with his. Then another friend got one. Then I saw a video of a handgun that had been attached to a drone. The owner flew it somewhere and emptied the gun just to see if it could be done. Then a news story about a woman sunbathing on her balcony when she looked up to see a peeping drone above her.

All too fast. All too fast.

Before that, it was the “Cloud” which just fell out of the clouds. I had no idea what it was but I think I use it today. Through my phone and laptop.

Then I woke up one day to see people making artificial human limbs using their 3-D printer.


Then there was the Apple iWatch and after that, every company had some version of an Internet powered watch.

And, of course, autonomous cars. They drive themselves. Now we can run over other people without lifting a finger.

Flying cars are on their way.

But the next thing to fall from the sky won’t be anything anyone will be able to predict. One day it will just be there.

And within a very short period of time, it will just be ordinary. Maybe even gone.

I am not yet ancient, but in our home when I was a kid, our telephone was a brown box attached to the wall. And I was seven before we got our first black-and-white TV. And it only broadcast seven hours a day, starting at 4 p.m.

I guess things fell from the sky back then too, but they seemed to take a bit longer to float down to the earth.

I am sure my parents lived in a constant state of shell shock.