Tuesday, 19 June 2007

The Butterfly of Freedom

If life begins at 40, I turned -3 last Sunday (happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...). Had a lovely weekend away. Really, really good... Anyway, I thought I would share with my friends (that's you) the card that I got from my parents.

It's called The Butterfly of Freedom, and it's a one of Edward Monkton's "interesting thoughts". In case the image doesn't load correctly, I'll explain the scene. Twelve simply drawn butterflies are depicted, of which 11 are within a drawn box. Our hero is the 12th butterfly who has broken free from the constraints the box and is flying away. The butterflies ask, "Why do you fly outside the box?" "I fly outside the box because I can." replies our hero. "But we KNOW the box. We are SAFE inside the box." "That, my friend, is why I leave it. For you may be SAFE... but I AM FREE!"

Now without wanting to get too serious (cue serious point), the question you have to ask yourself is... would you rather be safe or free? It seems to me that we often opt for security and in the process we give up our freedom. At least that's what it feels like.

I guess what I'm saying is: Fly outside the box... at least once in a while.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Donating my brain to science

Last week I was a subject in a psychology experiment. To be more precise I was actually a participant. Whereas in the old days I would have been labelled as a 'subject', these days we are participants in such things. Anyway, the procedure I was subjected to included filling in a cluster of personality questionnaires. Questions ranged from how often I trusted my hunches or instincts (I've got a feeling I answered that one wrongly) to whether I found it hard to make decisions (I left that one blank).

Following the questionnaires were a series of tasks. In one of these I had to arrange small wooden coloured blocks to match a pattern shown to me by the experimenter.

These were simple geometric shapes but the task for some reason reminded me of the joke in which a psychologist is showing one of his patients a series of Rorschach inkblots. "What do you see in this picture?" the psychologist asks as the first inkblot is shown. The patient hesitates for a moment before a replying "a man and woman having sex".

"And in this picture...?" the psychologist asks as he displays the second inkblot.

"A man and a woman having sex" the patient replies.

"And in this one?"

"A man and a woman having sex" comes the reply.

"I think you are preoccupied with sex" concludes the psychologist.

"I'm preoccupied with sex?" replies the patient, "you're the one with all the dirty pictures!".

Okay, I didn't say it was a funny joke. Sadly, the psychologist testing me didn't have any dirty pictures. At least none that he was showing me.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

A "reader" confesses

I have a confession to make. And I'm asking for your help in deciding what I should do.

Some time last year, I can't remember exactly when, I was in a book shop. That's not the confession by the way. I'm not confessing to being a "reader". Otherwise, it would be me and you both. No, I haven't got to the confession bit yet. Around that time I was going to quite a few book shops and buying books. Mainly these were secondhand book shops and charity shops (Cancer Research shops seem to have the best selection if you're interested).

This particular shop was neither a secondhand shop, nor a charity shop. It was a branch of The Works, a large chain of stores that sell reduced price books alongside toys and craft materials. At the back of this particular store were a selection of books in the area of 'mind, body, spirit'... you know, the usual stuff: astrology, dream interpretation, that kind of thing. The book that caught my attention was a book on "cosmic ordering" called The Complete Guide to Cosmic Ordering: Make Your Dreams Become Reality by A. Moore. Now I've been fascinated by this notion of placing orders with the cosmos to get what you want in life since I read Barbel Mohr's book, The Cosmic Ordering Service. In fact I had read Mohr's book just a few months earlier so the idea was still fairly new to me and why I guess Moore's book caught my eye. (A future post will deal with cosmic ordering in more depth, but for now you can click here to see what Wikipedia has to say about it.)

Anyway, I flicked through a few pages and thought it would be an easy read and at only £3, reduced from £7.99, it was a bit of a bargain (or as the sticker announced “fantastic value!”). I carried it with me as I browsed round the shop a little further.

And then, as I neared the shop entrance, something happened. I suddenly realized that it would be oh so very easy to just walk out with the book in my hand. That’s right, my friend, I entertained the possibility of walking out of the shop without paying for it! I believe the technical term is “shoplifting”. Then, before I knew it, I was over the threshold of the door and out into the rest of the shopping centre with the book (technical term “stolen goods”) still in my clammy hand. I kind of reasoned that if I were caught then I would look down at the book I was holding and suddenly “remember” I had it in my hands and that I must have absent-mindedly wandered out of the shop without paying for it. An honest mistake anyone could make. I would then simply pay the £3 (“fantastic value!”) and be on my way. As it turned out I didn’t get caught. I carried on walking through the shopping centre and I was soon out of sight of the shop (technical term “scene of the crime”).

And that is my confession. In short, last year I nicked a book. Now, almost a year has passed and I have still not yet read the book. I find it interesting that for some reason I haven’t got round to at least scanning this book that I thought would be an easy read. It has sat quietly minding its own business on the bookshelf in between Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (that would explain a lot!) and a book called Angels Do Exist (don't ask). It’s as though deep inside I realized that the book shouldn’t really be on that bookshelf. It wasn't mine to read. But every so often I have glanced up at it and thought to myself that I should at least read it, or take it back to the shop, or do something to appease my guilt. Perhaps I should add the book to those at our local Cancer Research shop or give the £3 I should have paid for the book to a suitable charity.

So here is where I need your help. What do you think I should do? Should I take the book back? Should I send The Works £3? Should I pass the book on to a charity? Or can you think of a more creative way of making good my misdemeanor? Please fellow “reader”, please help one of your own and post a comment to help me with my quandary! (It will also help me to see if anyone actually reads this stuff!) Thanks.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Gimme that gliding action

Have you noticed how kids seem to be gliding around these days? For a while, I was thinking either they're on drugs, or I am. It turns out neither is the case (as far as I'm aware).

Instead it would appear that Heelys are responsible... trainers that have wheels built into their heels. Now you tell me! If I'd known about them before that goddamn 10 kilometre run round Manchester, then I'm sure things would have been a little easier (well, at least for the flat parts and the downhill parts of the course... for the uphill parts all I can picture is me running and getting nowhere like Shaggy used to do in Scooby-Doo).

It seems as though they're all the rage these days. And it would appear they have been around for some time. Earlier this year, I spotted a scale model action figure of Our Saviour himself (pictured). The packaging proclaimed that the action figure had "poseable arms and gliding action". Closer inspection revealed small wheels peeking out from beneath his flowing robes. So that's how he did it... The little miracle-maker was clearly wearing early prototype Heelys sandals!

So my feeling is if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I'm going to see if I get a pair in size 10's. If they're good enough for the Son of God, then they're good enough for me.

Oh brother!

Why do I do it? I know for a fact that I'm not going to stick it out for the next 247 weeks that it will be on the telly. And I just know that each time I do watch it, I'll be tutting loudly and voicing how much I detest this person and how much that person annoys me. But still, knowing all this, this week I tuned in to watch the live launch show of Big Brother 8.

I didn't disappoint myself... "What does she look like!", "How annoying is she gonna be after a few days?!", "Why did she even bother applying for the show!" Still, it was nice to see Davina not pregnant for a change. This year BB has decided to fill the house, at least to begin with, entirely with women. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that it might be an idea to watch with the sound down, at least until they calm down a bit.

I gather that tonight they will be putting a male housemate in with the "ladies" (the words lamb and slaughter come to mind...). Probably a gay fella if I know Big Brother. Gay or straight, no doubt I will think he's a complete pillock and will voice my opinions accordingly. I can't wait.