Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hair-Raising Event - What Are the Chances?

I can't make this stuff up.

I spent the night on the couch again, simply because I was too lazy to "get up and go to bed," a phrase my mom always used when she woke me on the couch at night while we both watched TV.

Anyway, it was 6 a.m. and I had just finished watching an episode of Law & Order. I got up to make coffee and feed the cat.

As I passed the kitchen counter, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, the new Amazon Kindle that I just received yesterday. It was sitting at the opposite end of the counter where I left it last night to charge the battery.

Eager to play with it, I picked it up and brought it over to the couch with me. I was reading the Getting Started info onscreen and wondering whether I should print out the online guide.

In the meantime, another TV show was starting, and, judging from the way it began, I thought it was another episode of Law & Order, so I didn't change the channel.

Turns out the show, called "Angel," is about vampire slayers--they even reference Buffy in it--so it must be a spin-off of her hit series.

The subject matter is not my cup of tea, but my interest in it had already been piqued by its premise: a psychotic woman breaks out of an insane asylum, and goes on a mission to find the man that kidnapped and tortured her as a child.

Yeah, I know, not exactly wholesome entertainment, but it was too early to change channels to the more "wholesome" and intellectual news that's served up daily on the Today Show. :-)

So, I sat there on the couch, going back and forth between watching Angel, and playing w/ the Kindle during the commercials.

At one point, the protagonist was explaining to the victim that she was mistakenly torturing the wrong person, and then he identified the culprit that she should have been after.

Get this.

The man's name was Walter Kindle.

I almost dropped the Kindle in my hand.

What are the chances...

... of holding an Amazon Kindle in my hand at the exact moment a TV character utters the name Walter Kindle, on a show that I happened upon by accident?

Coincidence? I think not.

If the guys in Vegas could calculate those odds, I'd be interested in seeing them.

Really, this kind of "strange science" stuff has been happening to me steadily over the past ten years or so.

I have never believed in the supernatural, but every time something like this happens, I get a sudden outburst of goose bumps. If I could see the back of my neck, the hairs would be standing straight up.

I immediately called my friend Diane. Not only does she appreciate this kind of stuff, she's also heard me drone on about the many other weird coincidences in the past, like the recurring sighting of the three number sequence that just happens to be my birthday month and date, or the driving by a billboard and hearing a word uttered on the radio that just happens to be the same word I am looking at on the sign. (And, no, it's never a common word that could easily be explained by statistics.)

Diane was as incredulous as I was, and advised me to buy a daily lotto ticket today with the three-number sequence of my birthday.

I don't play the numbers, but it's times like these that I figure my odds of winning might be better than those of the average person.

Maybe I should purcxhase the ticket while I'm driving by a sign and listening to the radio, but that would be sort of difficult unless the lotto seller is willing to meet me outside as I pass by, and throw the lotto ticket through an open window of the car.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Aunt Millie is Tap-Dancing to Heaven

Aunt Millie passed last night around 8:10 p.m. My sister-in-law, Pearl, and I were blessed to have spent time with her yesterday afternoon.

My cousins and uncle came together in November, and stayed right through to her last breath, February 7, 2009. She was 79.

At the beginning of her treatment Aunt Millie reminded everyone that her mother, Grandma Irene, died at 79. Aunt Millie's 80th birthday would have been February 19.

Throughout her treatment, her youngest daughter decorated her room for each holiday: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day. She made a basket of hugs and kisses and put them by her bedside.

Aunt Millie was a faithful and devout Catholic.

I am skeptical to admit that it may have been her faith that carried her through, but a part of me envies her absolute faith. If faith is what allowed her to stay a little longer so that she and her family could say their goodbyes to each other, I'm all for it.

Aunt Millie's approach to survival was to simply shrug her shoulders and accept that her time on earth was simply coming to an end. Her belief in eternal life must have been a huge comfort.

If she's right about the eternal life thing, I hope she forgives me if I have the opportunity to show up in her neighborhood.

She fought to stay alive as long as she could, alongside a family that respected her decisions, and protected her dignity when she no longer could.

It has been another life lesson for me in how fragile and resilient our bodies can be at the same time.

Sadly, I've become accustomed to witnessing the process of dying from unforgiving diseases: diabetes, cancers of the lung, pancreas, stomach, and brain.

Why are there no preventive vaccines like the ones for polio, small pox, rubella, mumps?

How is it that a wonder drug like Viagra was invented before a drug to prevent cancer? What kind of priorities fostered that research?

I often hear that pharmaceutical companies make far more money from treating cancer than from preventing it.

I pray that it isn't true, but somehow I think it is.

Tap away Aunt Millie, and give a big hug and kiss to Mom, Dad, and Grandma. We love you all.

You say "past" I say "paste"

After reading about the Google "fault" (meltdown) last week, I found hilarious this quote by the author of an article on

"Users trying to access search results during the outage were forced to cut and past the links into the toolbar and visit the sites manually."

First, my mind had to get "past" the typo because my innate proofreading talent (annoyance to some) wouldn't allow me to proceed with another thought until it was fixed.

Then I got to thinking that perhaps the error was a Freudian slip on the part of the author. Maybe it was more of a commentary on how lazy we humans have actually become.

In the "past" (less than two decades ago) most internet users didn't even know what the internet was, let alone a URL.

To suggest that copying and pasting a URL directly into a browser is a hassle, reminds me how much we rely on technology to do the simplest things.

For example, have you ever stood with a cashier in a store when the power goes out?

"I'm sorry, I can't complete the sale, maam, because my cash register drawer won't open until the power comes back on."

I am tempted to say, "Well, get a pencil and paper out and I'll help you do the math."

Before Google, circa 1997, Internet users manually typed the address into browsers like Internet Explorer or Netscape.

With the advent of Bookmarks and Favorites, we didn't even have to do cut and paste anymore. Simply click a link to travel the Internet, no need to type a single keystroke.

What would we do without Google? I don't know, but here's a little fun that I found when I looked up Google's history.

Compliments of a link from Google -- the Swedish Chef language version. Who knew?