Friday, 27 July 2007

Words to live by

There is a noticeboard next to the desk at which I am often sat when typing on the computer. Like most noticeboards it is fairly cluttered with pieces of paper, card, and other items that relate to things that have either recently happened or items that act as reminders for things that are yet to happen. One of these items that keeps catching my eye is this card that we picked up during our road trip across America earlier this year.

I have been wondering who "Solbeam" was, and from where these words to live by may have come. Somewhat surprisingly, it seems that they come from a fellow blogger. Her blog, as with most, if not all, blogs is a record of thoughts on life, death, and everything in between. The words on the card come from an entry posted on 7 August 2005 entitled "melted clocks". If you scroll down to the very bottom where she is talking about her 10-year school reunion, you'll see the words on the card come from the message she would yell to her 14 year-old self if she were able to travel back in time. But not all the words made it on to the card. Here they are in full:

“Fall in love or fall in hate. Get inspired or be depressed. Get confused or be straight. Flunk a class or ace a test. Become a slut or be reborn a virgin. Get fit or get fat. Make babies or make art. Speak the truth or lie and cheat. Live happily ever after or get divorced. Dance on tables or sit in the corner and be shy. Let me (scream or whisper) a secret to you: It's doesn't matter. Nobody’s actually watching. Life is divine chaos. Embrace it. Forgive yourself. Breathe. And enjoy the ride.”

I wonder if her 14 year-old self would have listened.

Get that cat away from me!

I read today that there is a cat in America, Rhode Island to be precise, who seems to be able to predict when the next patient at a nursing home is going to die. The cat, who goes by the name of Oscar (pictured right), invariably goes to sit by the unlucky person who's time has come in the final few hours of his or her life. Oscar's ability to predict these deaths has become so accurate that the nursing home staff have come to rely on his actions as a sure sign that the patient is about to snuff it!

I bet the patients love that. As soon as Oscar is seen lingering at the doorway to their room, I bet they're shooing him away, throwing slippers at him, and urging him to carry on down the hallway to somebody else's room (wasn't that the woman in room 304 that I heard coughing?).

As it happens, most of the patients in the nursing home are suffering from dementia so they probably don't know that the cat is there (or even what a cat is). But I'm not sure I'd like the cat of death to be circling as I sit and watch Countdown in my latter days. On the positive side, if the cat did come to sit by my side I would know that it was my final Countdown! (Sound of cymbal to emphasise crap gag.)

Click here for the BBC web page covering the story. The original piece that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine is here.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Facebook: My arse

Now that I no longer smoke, I'm hardly ever asked this anymore, but when I did smoke, like most smokers, I would often be asked the question, "Got a match?". And every now and again, I would get great pleasure out of answering, "yeah, your face and my arse...". I would usually still have a broad grin on my face after my questioner removed his fist from it.

These days, whenever I now see or hear the mention of the social networking website Facebook it for some reason makes me think of that brilliantly childish response to a polite request for a match. And what's worse, I'm now hearing about Facebook more and more. Over the last month or so, I have been receiving requests from people inviting me to join them as a "friend" on Facebook. I deleted these email requests until I eventually relented when I received one from my brother.

Now that I am registered on Facebook I have, get ready for this... 10 "friends"! Count them. Ten. And one of them is my own brother! I know what you're thinking... these are just people I know who happen to be registered on Facebook and have a little too much time on their hands. But no, these are real "friends". I know that they are real "friends", because Facebook says so.

And, thanks to Facebook, I can find out when my "friends" are becoming "friends" with other people, what groups they are joining, when they are adding photos to their pages, and when they are adding or removing Facebook applications. I wonder if it can also tell me when any of my "friends" are wiping their arse? I have a feeling it probably can.

Social networking sites are all the rage these days... Facebook has something like 28 million registered users while it seems there are over 100 million registered on MySpace. Whatever. I can't see it catching on myself. Anyway, gotta go, one of my good "friends" is mid-wipe.