Terry Pratchett “Shaking Hands With Death” – 34th annual Dimbleby Lecture (BBC 1)

Yesterday BBC One broadcast the 34th annual Richard Dimbleby Lecture. I had never watched it before, but it caught my attention this time because Sir Terry Pratchett was to give a lecture called “Shaking Hands With Death”.
Terry Pratchett, as you will now if you have seen my rantings on his novels, is the writer of the bestselling series Discworld (http://www.terrypratchettbooks.com/). In 2007 he publically shared that he was diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease called Posterior cortical atrophy (or Benson’s syndrome), which is a visual variant of Alzheimer’s. It causes shrinkage of the back part of the brain and progressively disrupts complex visual processing. E.g. having difficulties buttoning up a shirt, forgetting where to have put your keys (while having them in front of you), seeing a cup of tea on the table but the brain not registering it is there – and then suddenly the tea-cup pops up like magic in his sight.
 
I had seen the documentary he had made with BBC Two, called “Living with Alzheimer”, where he shared how he has to battle the disease daily and how it creeps up in subtle ways. He explored how medical science is working on battling the disease, met up with other patients and visited American nursing homes with last stage patients.
 
In his Dimbleby Lecture, “Shaking Hands With Death”, he give his personal view on how our society deals with death; on how, say, in Victorian times assisted dying seemed more the practice to have people go in dignity. Pratchett wasn’t there to advocate assisted dying for all, but stood up for his own, private right to choose how he wants to spend his end of life, because Alzheimer’s disease is not a curable one. It is an ongoing, deteriorating illness, which results in many having a far lesser quality of life. In his lecture he spoke up about his right to be free to choose how he wants to go; with dignity and having something remaining of the Terry Pratchett he is. Not a shadow of his former self.
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The database

I’m beginning to think that the series The IT Crowd is not that far off from reality.

(Do you know this series? It’s great! Definitely check it out if you haven’t.)

Because I feel just like an idiot when I get the reply at work after computer failure: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”. Like that solves the problem?!

 

For weeks now, maybe even longer, I’ve been experiencing problems with the database at work. My Business Contact Manager isn’t managing my contacts for business properly. When I turn my pc on in the morning, it decides whether it is a good day or bad day for it, and then turns off according its mood. And yes, I know I’m humanizing a machine, no, a program. Machines have it in for me. It’s clear-cut as that.

 

When finally, I get someone to look at it – not the right person, but close enough – they notice that with restarting the pc, the database becomes accessible again.

Read this with a booming voice of pride and loads of self-esteem: “here you go, you simply need to turn it off and on again and it seems right as rain!” And exit smart guy.

(I would like to take this opportunity, in order not to rub my IT colleagues the wrong way and who I presume will stumble on this post in a near future, to say how swell you guys are, always there for me, couldn’t imagine nicer colleagues then you guys – I’m blaming my post rant on frustration and incapability to sort out this mess, not targeting you guys. Hugs to you all!)

Ok. I admit. The database appeared again. Yet it is still offline. Everything I have encoded in it, is only accessible to me, not to people on the network (a little detail I just noticed today, after weeks of encoding cards). This explains why my boss continuously asks me to look up contact details. I was beginning to think the man was unable to run a database search! But it all comes back to me not having an online database!

Sorry to bore you with IT stuff, but it’s just beyond me. This is not productivity. Because you see what has happened?

I’ve become the database.

I possess the data.

I have access to the data.

And people access me to get to the data.

I’m databasefab —- INSERT DATA SEARCH HERE —-

bleep bleep bleep

processing

bleep bleep bleep

Monty Python and the exploding penguin

It sometimes looks like John Cleese is trying to retain himself from laughing… it’s only slightly visible, but still… Graham Chapman is good in this.

Since I’ve seen the Holy Grail again yesterday, I have been surfing for sketches. Sorry to take the easy way out of blogging. But I just felt like posting the vids.

How some last episodes don’t fullfill… ya know

 Recently I saw the last episode of the Veronica Mars series and was very disappointed. Bear in mind that the third season was cut short unexpectedly… the CW decided to stop the show 2 episodes sooner than supposed to. But what the frell (pardon my farscapism) what’s that ending? Everything was set up for her FBI internship? What about the Logan outburst of defending her honour? Will Keith stay Sheriff or will that creep and low life Vinnie be voted for the job?

I know, it’s just a show, but closure people! It’s Star Trek Voyager all over again! (I get that the crew eventually got back to earth and that B’lanna and Paris were to become parents at that exact moment they get out of the wormhole, but I missed any waw-effect which I expected from Voyager…). And I haven’t even started on Stargate SG1: last episode was a good episode – with the trapped in momentum thing and living a lifetime trapped there. But not a “show’s finale” to me! I hoped to be surprised like I was with episode “200”, which was brilliant. Compared to Farscape (and I mean before the Peacekeeper series), these endings are just plain. Farscape’s finale was shattering. Literally.

Maybe I’m difficult to please. Although that seems impossible, I almost watch anything (except Prison Break of Vanished or Point Pleasant).

I don’t know. I just wonder, how many out there are disappointed by some show’s last episode and which one was it?

Working girl

It’s been busy for me so blogging has not been a priority of mine this past week.

I started a new (my first) job this week, which has been an overload of information and emotions, I can tell you. But I am glad I’ve got so well received. Everyone is very nice and helpful, and I do hope it will stay that way. Working takes the large part of our lives, about 8 hours a day you spent at work, with colleagues – so making it work at work is very important. Otherwise, it’s very depressing, isn’t it?

But working 9 to 5 (how Dolly Parton!) has been something to adapt to. I’m feeling like a working girl already! (But not in the Melanie Griffith-movie kind of way…).

Currently:
I’m still reading American Gods by Neill Gaiman, and I must say it is a strange book. I’d hoped to be much further through it. When reading Anansi Boys and Neverwhere, I hardly spent a week reading. I know he set out to write an odd book, so I can’t say I hadn’t been warned.

In the meantime, I got Stardust by him, a much slimmer book but maybe a storyline a bit more likeable. I want to read it before the movie comes out here.

Television-wise:
I’m so glad the fall has started again on tv. Fellow couch potatoes, I salute you!
New episodes of Bones, My Name Is Earl … I’ve chosen not to follow Lost anymore. I just cannot put up the effort anymore. Sorry. As much as I liked the first season, the second didn’t leave me hungry for more and the third couldn’t get me bothered. (How Catherine Tate!)
I’m sad that Veronica Mars and How I Met Your Mother will end soon here, but it’s been fun watching these shows this summer.

Musically:
I recently bought the latest album by French singer Vanessa Paradis, ‘Divinidylle’ (Can’t always be rock/indie music!). I like it a lot, except the ballad called ‘Junior Suit’. I feel the album could have done without it. But over all a poppy, rocky, French album.

Movie:
I’m dying to see the new Jason Bourne movie!

On a different note:
I’m trying to decide wether or not to go on with this blog. A lot of time to spent on the blogosphere will be limited from now on. Having things to post, ideas or subjects is not been fruitful these past weeks. So I find myself with a dilemma. Although I like to visit other blogs very much and will continue to do so, I’m not sure to keep this one going. As a fellow blogger once said, without a great hook or original approach a blog hasn’t got a long life on the net. I will keep you informed on my decision and any comment will be gratefully read and pondered on.

Hustle

Lately I’ve been watching this series called Hustle (wiki-link) It’s a BBC series on London con artists and I find it very entertaining. There are 4 seasons and a fifth will be aired soon, I think. I have only seen a couple of episodes yet.

The con artist (and actors):

This week I saw the episode called ‘old acquaintance’ from season 2. It was a con on a former husband of the gang, Stacie, who left her with one day with nothing but a cactus and a borrowed Phil Collins cd. The husband, an avid poker player, gets conned into an exclusive poker game. Suddenly the actors turn to the camera and teach us, the viewers, how to play Texas Hold ’em Poker.

Now, by checking out the BBC website, I noticed that the leader of the Gang, Mickey, has gone. A new character, Billy, is introduced as the Rookie. I hope that this will not make the show less enjoyable to watch. Mickey was the best one, the artist con man with all the ideas…

My name is Earl – Season One

Last night I was watching the blooper reel and the behind the scenes documentary of My name is Earl (NBC). If you haven’t seen this comedy show, then you have missed out on a lot. (wiki-link)
The show stars Jason Lee, who actually only did movies and had some reservations in doing television (he also did the voice of Syndrome in The Incredibles), Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly, …
 
I think it is a very funny show, about a no good kind of guy who after he wins a lottery ticket, gets run over, looses the ticket and decides it’s a sign. Karma: if you do good things, good things will happen to you. So Earl makes a list of all the wrongs he ever did, and tries to make them right.
The scripts are really funny. But it are really the actors who take it to a whole new level. And the guest stars are fantastic as well: Giovanni Ribisi, Juliette Lewis, Beau Bridges, …
 
Being a big fan of DVD extra’s – I just had to watch them on this box. There is even an alternative version of the pilot (1ste episode – for those who have no clue). Where instead of redeeming his wrongs, he wants payback: he makes a list of all those who did him wrong.
 
I just can’t wait until they air the second season here on tv. I know the box is available, but first I’ll see if that season is worth it.

Picture source: NBC

Have you ever seen … Northern Exposure?

This week I watched some of the episodes of Northern Exposure, season 1, with my brother.
It’s sooo good, it’s beyond me that so few people know it or even remember it.

The series dates back from 1990 and is about a New York doctor, Joel Fleishman (played by Rob Morrow – now in the series Numb3rs as Don Epps),who has to practise his skills in an obscure little town in Alaska called Cicely for 4 years. Because Alaska sponsored his studies (scholarship), he is bound by contract to ‘serve’ his for years as the town’s doctor.

Oh please do rent or watch this series! I’ll even go down on my knees! Fun scenarios, good characters and acting … it’s all a TV-buff could wish for. The series got 16 nominations and 6 Emmy awards, but to me, even without the ‘oh so much’ deserved awards it is just one of my favorite shows.

It stars John Corbett as well as ‘Chris in the morning’-radioman (which most people know from Sex and the City or My Big Fat Greek Wedding – where he didn’t live up to his Northern Exposure potential in my eyes).

Heroes: a series

For me, again a new discovery on TV: Heroes.
With some reservation, I did watch the commercials on this new series (new to Europe I guess), but fearing that the excitement and suspense it promised wouldn’t be fulfilled I didn’t watch it.

Well, now I wish I had. I saw episodes 3 & 4 and have no idea what it’s about exactly. Only that some people discover they have certain powers (stop time, revive, fly, see the future). Obviously the characters are linked (story-wise) together somehow … this will unfold no doubt as the series continues. But as we saw in Lost, I wonder if that will keep being realistic as it goes on.

If I’m perfectly honest, it only caught my attention because actor Milo Vertimigglia ( I hope I spelled is right) plays in it. So my motives are somewhat questionable.

Anyway, if anyone could summarize the first two episodes for me? Maybe I will just do some looking on the net.

Farscape quizzes and whatnot’s

If you want to test how good a Scaper you are, or you just want to do a little quiz on the subject of Farscape? Take a look here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/farscape/funscape/index.shtml

There are several quizzes on topics such as Farspeak, food, Peacekeepers or just general knowledge. It’s fun, but for Scapers it’s maybe a bit too easy (I think). Example:

Who named Moya’s child?

  • Moya, who else?
  • Rygel, by mistake
  • Zhaan, reluctantly
  • Aeryn, at Moya’s request

There are also several interviews, quotes, … but since the shows cancellation no new articles or news have been added (no surprise).

You can brush up your Farscape language (and rude words) as well.

Farscape or bust!

Being a complete tv-aficionada (means I love to watch it a lot), I just have to mention how good Farscape is.

Now I know, many think it just a sci-fi series like many others. I contradict that. I have watched Star Trek Generations, – DS9, – Voyager, – Enterprise; and it doesn’t even come close!

Farscape is about an astronaut, John Crichton, who accidentallygoes through a wormhole and ends up at the other side of the galaxy on board of a living ship, a leviathan called Moya. Since that day everything has gone terribly wrong for him. Desperate to get back, he has to live on this leviathan with several prisoners on the run from the Peacekeepers. Over the years, they form close relationships, still keeping hidden agenda’s whenever the opportunity presents itself, though. Too complex? Well go watch the DVD’s.

It also has great dialogues, a lot of puns and cultural references (pop culture). Here are some interesting quotes: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Farscape

quote 1

Come on out, Chiana. Look, I don’t have time to play this game. Durka’s gone Hannibal Lector on us. (Crichton -Durka Returns)

quote 2

Have we sent the ‘don’t shoot us we’re pathetic’ transmission yet? (Crichton – Out of Their Minds)

The effects are unbelievable, the series is beautifully shot and the make-up department did a fantastic job!

Unfortunately, after 4 seasons the show got cancelled! (Why the frell did they do that!). There is a mini series called Peacekeeper Wars, which pretty much tie up the loose ends after season 4. I highly recommend that too.

Now Ben Browder (John Crichton) and Claudia Black (Aeryn Sun; also played small part in Pitch Black) can be seen in Stargate SG1. It is a treat to watch them together again, although I loved their characters in Farscape more.

Oh, and if you get the DVD’s, do watch and listen to the extra’s on it. It is really worth it!