Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Last Lecture and Domino Effect

This is likely to be a rambling incoherent post , mainly because it's one of those things where a seemingly singular event cant then set off so many other things. Someone mentions one thing and then that sets off another . I don't know if I'm going to finish and then think "I forgot tto include such and such" , but we shall see how this goes....

I suppose it starts with the purchase of of a couple of seemingly slim James Thurber volumes that , while they were quite enjoyable to read , I was still only on page 50 of the first volume . About a month ago, for my 55th birthday,  my very good Australian friend Carol sent me a copy of Randy Pausch's book "The Last Lecture" , based on his final lecture . Randy Pausch was a young man (mid 40's) who had been hit with a virulent Pancreatic Cancer. A horrible situation for a man with a wife and young family who he would never see grow up. One of my heroes , the comedian Bill Hicks , was taken from us in the same way. In 1986 I got hit with ITP which meant that may bllod wasnt clotting resulting in heavy internal bleeding. At the time I was scared that I' wouldn't see my daughters (3 and 5 at the time) grow up , 3 years earlier my eldest daughter had been on the terminal ward (briefly) at The Children's Hospital at Pendleton Manchester - needless to see we're both here and doing well.

Anyway back to Randy Pausch . He was the inventor of ALICE a software development environment that enables people to easily learn programming . I've never seen it but my friend Carol uses it in her class on a daily basis. He knew his time was limited so he created and filmed his last last lecture and created the book with I got through in two days after giving up on James Thurber . In it he set down thoughts , aspiriations , regrets and advice in a remarkably easy read . He does come up with some expanded bullet points on how to live life with vaguely remind me of Sun Tzu's surprisingly readable and concise "The Art Of War" . Any I recommend you get a copy of the book and check out The Last Lecture website here. The lecture is youtubed below:

Randy Pausch is and example of Richard Dawkins' idea of immortality . Pausch is still with us in so many forms and will be while humankind exists in it's current forms. Dawkins is our premier voice of reason against the right wing Christian idiocy that is Creationsism though I do feel he gets a little evangelical at times about the non existence of (G)od .

One ogf the other things I wanted to put in this is that whenever any dies or is close to it I feel I must appear incredibly callous and cold hearted because usually it doesn't  really sadden me at all , and this is the reason:

As a kid I had bad dreams, I'd be in a field crying my eyes out because my dad was dead . I don't know how it happened but would wake up in tears and my dad was always there , working in the yard or wherever . He is still with us at 798 going strong , driving his Mercedes with his Post Office Post Box maintenance contract. Anyway soon after that my uncle Trevor took an assisted passage to Australia , the other side of the world . Letters came and once a year we had a short , very expensive (£10 a minute I think) phone call , I realised I wouldn't see him again . I knew he was there , but I just had no real contact . And that is what I feel happens when someone dies , we lose contact .. for now. If evolution has taught us anything it's that we grow and save the best bits and I think our "being" continues elsewhere. Aad that's why I seem so callous in the face of death.

This is a bit like opne of those Billy Connolly stories that wanders all over the place except I'm not reallly sure where I started and where I'm coming back to.

We live in wondrous times and if people concetrated more on the good , the world would be a much better place . If you have a problem fix it or deal with it , there is usually help around. Anyway maybe I've gone on about this a bit too long but c'est la vie


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