September 3rd, 2003



You know when you see a film and end up bitching about a teeny detail that doesn't matter at all. You ain't got nothing on this snippet from a review of The Italian Job (2003):

But my biggest problem with the whole film was the way they used the engine note from inline 4 cylinder motorbikes when the bikes being ridden were Vtwin (the Ducati ridden by napster) or BMW boxer motors ridden by the security guys

Charity begins at home (the children's home, that is)

My employers believe in community. They're a mutual company, which means that they aren't owned by shareholders (and indeed, don't have shareholders, or indeed, owners, as far as I can tell) and they have a guiding set of principles which includes doing good for the society around them. We sponsor a variety of good causes, raise money for charity on an occasional basis and generally stick to good people practice even when we don't have to.

One of the ways this is done by my particular department (Information Services, Development Group 2 - Marketing) is the yearly away-day, whereby we all go out to a local charity and try to help out for a day. This year we're going to a children's home in nearby Falkirk and spending the day redecorating. Stripping walls, painting fences, erecting sheds, etc. The department manager is currently assigned to wallpapering duty, which gives the impression that he's serious about the fact that this is supposed to be a day of good deeds, not just an excuse to look good. Of course, it's a useful team-building exercise (I'm building a shed and I'm rather looking forward to chatting to the various people I'm doing it with), and I'm sure it means that we can tick something off on a corporate check-sheet somewhere, but people seem to be generally enthused about it (in a "Dear Lord, please don't make it rain tomorrow." way).

One of the other cool things they do are "lunchtime learning sessions" whereby employees give talks on things they've done that might be of interest to others. I've signed myself up for a session on NLP, one on 5000 years of Chinese Culture and one on "Food and nutrition for mental perfection" because I'm a sucker for that kind of thing. They're only monthly, but I'm glad it's something that the company supports.

Getting old

According to today's Metro (free UK newspaper), five signs that you are turning into your parents are (adjusted slightly for intercontinental clarity):
1) Tutting when you read about drunken 18-30 holidaymakers
2) Buying expensive ready-meals instead of cheap Chicken Kievs.
3) Working out how much your pension is worth
4) going to the toilet with the door open
5) Appreciating the attraction of a people-carrier or a similarly spacious vehicle.

I don't tut when I read about drunken antics, but I do feel vaguely disapproving about them. Largely because drunk people are annoying. I do buy the more expensive versions of some things, but largely I do my own cooking, so that one doesn't count. I was worried about pensions for a while before my current job I don't bother closing the toilet door unless Ed's in the house I once wanted to buy a mini-bus, because it would be handy for moving several of my (non-driving) friends about at once.

Apparently I've been an adult since I was, ooh, 12.

I've definitely been noticing my slow slide into responsible adulthood, partially caused by being forced to look after other people, but also partially always just there, lurking in my rational forebrain. I've watched the amount of irrational, emotional behaviour I engage in slowly drop over the last few years, occasionally worrying that I might be losing something, but generally not too worried about the changes, as I still largely feel like 'me'. I didn't want to feel like I was making a move into adulthood when I wasn't ready, but on the other hand, if this was a natural process then it didn't bother me that I was slowly becoming someone else.

I caught an interesting program on age and brains the other day, where they were MRI scanning a 17 year oldgenius - went to university at 13, graduated at 15, and so on. When asked intellectual questions, his brain lit up like an adult brain - all forebrain, making connections and putting pieces together. Asking him emotional questions ("identify the emotion this person is expressing") lit his brain up like a standard teenager's, centered in the Amygdala, emotions flaring off in all directions. Apparently as we grow older the decision making capabilities are slowly subsumed from the emotional centres into the intellectual ones, with intellectual experience taking over from our emotional assumptions, the scans of different age groups undergoing the same tasks were fascinating.

There's something comforting about knowing that the path you're taking is one that nearly everyone walks, that the changes you're undergoing aren't strange ones inflicted on you, but perfectly normal. It's like realising that everyone else is going through puberty too, somehow it all becomes a little less worrying.