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Archive for the ‘Peeps’ Category

There’s no doubt I’m behind in this account of tootling, but will backtrack at sometime and tell all about London, Surrey, Gloucestershire, the fab peeps who hosted me and adventures encountered along the way. For now, however, it’s Dorset.

Dorset

Dorset


I lived in Bournemouth some years back, and this has been my first visit back to the area. Thankfully, one friend from that time is still in the area so a very enjoyable reunion has been happening this week. Martin is pretty much the only person I still speak to who knew me well throughout my time here, so being able to share thoughts has been a gift.
PrettyPlace
Martin and his husband, Ciaran, live in the village of Pimperne just outside of Blandford Forum, and with the luck of (mostly) glorious weather, walks in pretty places with their Westie, Boris, have been a hoot.
The Boys at Studland

The Boys at Studland


A day at the beach at Studland had Boris introducing us to dalmatians, poodles, spaniels of all persuasions, various herding dogs and the occasional manic pointer. There was even one Dogue de Bordeaux that was every bit as sweet and drool-producing as a Hooch should be.

A day out in Bournemouth provided proof that things change a lot in two decades, although the building whose top floor was my flat looks pretty much as it did. The price has gone up by about £100,000.00 since I sold it, so, yep, things are different.

Had a good time down the pub last night with a couple of Martin & Ciaran’s local friends and had a laugh with some of the young lads drinking around the snooker table. I was, however, surprised to see them walk out carrying two-pints-to-go containers. They weren’t driving, but it still seemed an almost New Orleans thing to happen.

Elves like us ...

Elves like us …

Since ’tis the season, we shopped for, then decorated, the boys’ Christmas tree, which was a hilarious venture with a good outcome. They’re all set for the holidays now with plans in place and the house tarted up in festive fashion so the clear sky and bright sunshine feel as Cris-cringley as a blanketing of snow.

No lasers handy ...

No lasers handy …

Ta-Daaaaaa!

Ta-Daaaaaa!

Heading off tomorrow and, as I have with everyplace I’ve visited this trip, I’ll miss the place and the people that make the world special.

Going no place, no how ...

Going no place, no how …

I doubt I’ll see another bin as secure as the one attached to the log at the bottom of the page again …

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Dawn is cracking loud today, or maybe it’s the Pistols on the iPod shredding the infamous songwriting duo Kierkegaard & Nietzsche’s classic “Nihilism, So DaDaDandy” I’m confusing with the break of yet another week.

Yes, it’s THAT sort of morning after THAT sort of night following THAT sort of day yesterday having me think THESE sorts of thoughts.

Good morning, World … and how about that idea that we’re all nothing but a tube?

Let’s start this Monday off with the thought that we are plain and simply biological creatures born to live, then die, whose entire raison d’etre is to take in nutrients, excrete … well … excrement and reproduce, and grandiose concepts like some spiritual component, a soul, are nothing but a load of wishful hooey.

Most of science certainly points us in that direction, after all, and easily implicates bio reasons for just about anything going on in us. Everything from our fears to our joys to our passions to our annoyances can be traced to our DNA.

We love our kids because our brains grew big enough to require long childhoods for development, so we grew attached to the little buggers so we wouldn’t boot them out of the cave before they could walk … or eat them.

We dream because of electro-chemical processes. We ponder the stars and the moon because doing so paid off in longer life spans.

We create art and music out of a mandate to communicate that facilitates eating, passing along our genetic material and not being killed for our share of the mammoth.

We fall in love out of primal urges … and fall out of love for those same primal urges. (See reproduction.)

At some point our brains expanded enough to leave room for more than grubbing for grub and screwing, so started wondering about stuff. What we couldn’t explain got stories and stories became habit forming and led to religion and writing and science.

There are no few folks who subscribe wholeheartedly to this concept and appear to be comfy in the knowledge that born-live-die is all there is to it. Some tout freeing aspects in the idea that you only live once, so make the bloody most of it.

I get that. I do. But what I don’t get is the point.

Because it is dictated we must eat, we must survive, we must breed, it’s not like like it’s a party. For many it is really fucking hard and no fun at all, and if the only reason to put up with all the crap is to bring another generation in to put up with all the crap, well, seems saving them the effort wouldn’t be a bad thing.

But, see? That’s where we’re bound, trapped like a bug in amber. It’s in our DNA.

Even our fear of death is rooted in our code because without it … and with nothing else going on … we’d be topping ourselves right and left as soon as we figured out how fucking pointless it is to struggle and suffer for however many decades we’re allowed to struggle and suffer through.

Whoopie.

If we’re looking for meaning, it must come in flashes, in moments the chemicals in our brains pump out warm fuzzies and set us awash in sweet juices. These keep us going, they translate as hope … and are addictive as hell, so we plod through days and weeks and months and years and decades searching for fix after fix.

Anyone want to talk me down from this precipice?

Gawd, I hate Mondays …

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I want to speak about bodies changed into new forms. You, gods, since you are the ones who alter these, and all other things, inspire my attempt, and spin out a continuous thread of words, from the world’s first origins to my own time.

Before there was earth or sea or the sky that covers everything, Nature appeared the same throughout the whole world: what we call chaos: a raw confused mass, nothing but inert matter, badly combined discordant atoms of things, confused in the one place. There was no Titan yet, shining his light on the world, or waxing Phoebe renewing her white horns, or the earth hovering in surrounding air balanced by her own weight, or watery Amphitrite stretching out her arms along the vast shores of the world. Though there was land and sea and air, it was unstable land, unswimmable water, air needing light. Nothing retained its shape, one thing obstructed another, because in the one body, cold fought with heat, moist with dry, soft with hard, and weight with weightless things.
~ Ovid, “Metamorphoses”

No, actually I don’t want to speak about changing bodies and I’ve spewed enough of my thoughts on Earthcentric views limiting human imagination, although Ovid does have the excuse of writing long before anyone had the technology to see stars as much more than interesting pictures in the sky.

It is, however, chaos filling my brain today … okay, most days … so imagine how thrilled I was, or wasn’t, to learn the etymology of ‘chaos’ also leads one to ‘yawn’.

Greek χάος means “gap, gaping void, chasm, abyss”, from the verb χαίνω, “gape, be wide open, etc.”, from PIE *ghen-, cognate to Old English geanian, “to gape”, whence English yawn.

Well, no bloody wonder I can have a head full of swirling shit and still be bored!

During a conversation the other day with my dear friend, Brian — he of the blog Truth is Freedom and a fab poet — he mentioned an interesting critter he described as, “chaos vital to creation”, apparently a beastie that can be traced back to ancient times and blamed for just about everything.

Some of our discussion involved various methods we’ve employed in attempts to rein chaos in long enough to force it to take form, allowing us to get on with things in ways … well … less chaotic, but throwing a lasso around “a rude and undeveloped mass, that nothing made except a ponderous weight; and all discordant elements confused, were there congested in a shapeless heap” … another translation of Ovid’s words … is not only difficult, but also an effort with consequences.

The exterior manifestation of chaos ... my office.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that grabbing free-floating ephemera and wrangling it into concepts easily shared pretty much kills off the free-floaty bit and morphs any given ephemeron into engraving, nor that grabbing hold of a “ponderous weight and all discordant elements confused” might not feel too great.

If I had a choice in the matter I might very well let chaos bubble away in a primordial stewing on a back burner instead of constantly caving to the inclination to turn it into something I can serve up.

There sure are a lot of folks that can do just that, and I sometimes find myself envious of those without curiosity, people who manage to go through days and years and lifetimes never hearing the background noise, much less wondering where it comes from.

“Ever wonder why mosquitoes exist … other than as food … or vectors … or … ”

“No … fucking things … SLAP. Got any beer?”

I find it interesting that the words “random” and “hectic” are now synonymous, amongst the young and hip with excellence, excitement and … well … missing the style boat. Of course, youth is supposed to be hectic and random, and chaos fits like a sparkly glove when your biggest worry is parents reading your Tweets.

I Googled “random thoughts” and found 6,960,000 results … and managed to resist clicking on most of them in fear of the “ooooh shiny” thing since I do have work to do today … but this did nothing to advance my chaos theory that was to be the topic of this post.

Shit.

In summation, then, I’ll simply ask, “Have you seen that story about living forever? I’m really not keen on the idea, myself, and can’t help but wonder …

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Since I’ve been busy lately … mucho work and some pleasant and interesting communication … I’m opting for a familiar blogging out I call “Harvest and Harangue”, meaning I go through the day’s news and bitch about the stuff that pisses me off.

I’ll start with murder, since that’s always such a popular topic, and with one I recall so well.

December 8, 1980 … Mark Chapman shot John Lennon. All these years later, the genius that was John is still dead and the fuckwad who killed him has had another parole hearing.

“I felt that by killing John Lennon I would become somebody and instead of that I became a murderer and murderers are not somebodies,” he said.

In a closing statement, Chapman said his life had changed because of Jesus.

“I know him, he is with me, he is with me now, he is helping me speak to you now. Without him I am nothing, I would have been an even bigger nobody.”

With some modicum of sense, the parole board turned him down again, but the fact that he gets to do this every couple of years … trot out his somebodyness and get his ugly mug in the international press annoys the shit out of me. As for his Jesusness … well, Jim Jones had that happening, too, if I recall and look at the holy shit he created.

Moving right along, but sticking with murder … if you’ll excuse the expression in this case … this story is one you can sink your teeth into.

A Broadmoor patient who confessed to killing two women in East Sussex in 1998 and eating flesh from one of them has been jailed for at least 21 years.

He also admitted trying to murder and rape a Czech student on a train and raping a London woman in her home.

Excuse me … but TWENTY-ONE years? WTF are these people thinking? Lock up and throw away the key, peeps, because the world don’t need this person.

The judge said that it had been “to his credit” that he decided while he was at Broadmoor “to get these terrible crimes off his chest, because he was concerned that he was too dangerous at that stage to be transferred from Broadmoor to a less secure hospital but also because he wanted to remain at Broadmoor”.

To his credit? Sorry, Judge, but this guy gets NO credit, not even if he finds Jesus. I’d say he’s a shark, but that would be an insult to sharks.

And speaking of sharks … sorry, can’t resist an easy segue … they kill, too, but it’s not called murder, it’s called lunch, as the tiger in this story would be happy to tell you if he could just get the bits out of his teeth long enough to spit out a sentence.

The 3.6-metre (12ft) tiger shark was caught on 4 September by a local investment banker who was deep-sea fishing.

Whilst reeling it in, he said he saw a leg poking out of the shark’s mouth.

After cutting the creature open, defence force officers found a torso, two severed arms, and a right leg.

Amazingly, the dude’s fingerprints were readable, but his claims of being a strong swimmer and therefore beyond the dangers of the sea, apparently, didn’t float.

Deadly sea creatures running on instinct and hunger have nothing over some humans when it comes to horror as this story proves … and probably have a more highly developed sense of humor to boot.

A US artist whose satirical cartoon inspired an internet campaign inviting people to draw images of the Prophet Muhammad has disappeared into hiding, her newspaper has said.

Molly Norris, who disavowed the movement that provoked outrage in the Islamic world, has moved and changed her name, the Seattle Weekly said.

She fled after FBI agents warned she was in danger …

FFS, Peeps … get over it! The world has moved beyond stone tablets, even photography was invented a couple of years ago, and if Mo was around today you can bet he’d be paying big bucks to his PR firm to get his mug on the cover of every mag around. After all, that’s de rigueur in the religious leaders game.

Just check out the popester’s spin machine in high gear as they try to clean up the shit he’s smearing around Britain.

The pope urged the UK to guard against “aggressive forms of secularism”.

A speech in which the Pope appeared to associate atheism with the Nazis has prompted criticism from humanist organisations.

However, the Catholic Church has moved to play down the controversy, saying the Pope knew “rather well what the Nazi ideology is about”.

Humanists have said the comments were a “terrible libel” against non-believers.

No shit.

Unfortunately for the spinnsters, he just keeps putting his foot in it …

He said: “Even in our own lifetimes we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.

“As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny.”

Yep … even in his own lifetime … and, yes, people DO remember … and the catholic church do NOT come out clean.

The Pope’s reaction to the Holocaust was complex and inconsistent. At times, he tried to help the Jews and was successful. But these successes only highlight the amount of influence he might have had, if he not chosen to remain silent on so many other occasions. No one knows for sure the motives behind Pius XII’s actions, or lack thereof, since the Vatican archives have only been fully opened to select researchers. Historians offer many reasons why Pope Pius XII was not a stronger public advocate for the Jews: A fear of Nazi reprisals, a feeling that public speech would have no effect and might harm the Jews, the idea that private intervention could accomplish more, the anxiety that acting against the German government could provoke a schism among German Catholics, the church’s traditional role of being politically neutral and the fear of the growth of communism were the Nazis to be defeated.) Whatever his motivation, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Pope, like so many others in positions of power and influence, could have done more to save the Jews.

So shut the fuck up, Ben, pull on the big man panties, confess … get it off your chest like the dude who ate women … and thank the Brits for coughing up £12 mil for your holiday.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

Movies get news, too … ours being the “live life to the fullest a screen can hold” society … and stories about celebs are oh-so-vital to maintaining the illusion that life is worth living.

Just how worthy should be questioned more often, but this venture up the celebrity ass really should serve to aim a Klieg where the sun don’t shine.

Actor Casey Affleck has admitted the documentary film he made about Joaquin Phoenix quitting Hollywood to become a rap star was staged.

Affleck told the New York Times that Phoenix gave a “terrific” performance”.

Over the last two years, the actor has behaved strangely in public, leading fans and critics to wonder whether he was documenting a breakdown on film.

Ah … duh … since there was a camera following him everywhere. Ya think? Not clever. Not tricky. Just WAY up your own asses, Casey and Joaquin. Andy Kaufman did the same thing years ago … only it was with Carson, not Letterman … and, forgive my smugness, but I called this way back when. (I still expect Andy to show up admitting that his death was part of the act.)

But I’ll end up with a bit of movie news that makes total sense to me. Sacha Baron Cohen is going to play Freddie Mercury in a movie Brian May and Roger Taylor are working on.

“We have Sacha Baron Cohen, which will probably be a shock to a lot of people, but he’s been talking with us for a long time,” May told the HARDtalk show.

Good choice guys.

And that’s the way it was … 17 September 2010 …

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At exactly the same time Ernesto was trying to convince me that his clicking daily for hunger, literacy, breast cancer whatever … whatever … makes a difference for the positive in the world, a friend posted on my facebook wall “Help the people in Chile now … just by clicking”.

What a wonder! With nothing more than very quick flick of a thumb, children are fed, quake victims are relieved of some related burden, cancer is cured … and owner of said thumb feels so much better. Just imagine what could be accomplished by legions of thumb flickers online for hours every day combing the www for click-philanthropy, and the guilt-assuaging self-satisfaction washing around the globe in the process.

Promising, and probably delivering, a contribution from sponsors with every click, sites like The Hunger Site offer a feel good moment.

So … ease-of-good-deeding-provider or marketing ploy designed to cater to affluent computer owners in need of guilt-assuaging self-satisfaction, or something in between? This is my question.

To expand on that a bit … does click donating make it less likely that people will contribute in other ways, having already “given at the office”?

Pardon my skepticism, but I can’t help but think this is all too simple. Is there some genetic remnant of Puritanism forcing me to feel benefactions should pinch a bit and not come with free gifts? Maybe.

“Get a daily reminder to click … and a FREE bracelet!”

“Nepali Cotton Floral Wrap Skirt Back in Stock!”

Okay …

But here’s the pitch:

The Hunger Site was founded to focus the power of the Internet on a specific humanitarian need: the eradication of world hunger. Since its launch in June 1999, the site has established itself as a leader in online activism, helping to feed the world’s hungry. On average, over 220,000 individuals from around the world visit the site each day to click the yellow “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button. To date, more than 300 million visitors have given more than 671 million cups of staple food.

No doubt that 671 million cups of staple food has filled some stomachs … a good thing … and perhaps it’s only my curmudgeonly side that stirs me to think that “300 million visitors” could have done so much better had they been moved to do more than flick a thumb at a cause.

Or am I missing a point?

Online donating is now possible, so maybe we can really click up a better world. I’m most interested to hear thoughts, so if you have ’em, please share …

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Like the conundrum “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?”, the following quote from the president of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal in this article about “discovering” life on other planets serves to underline the arrogance of humans:

It would change our view of ourselves and our place in the cosmos, he said.

It is too true that many people assume our puny species holds primo place in the universe, that we are either an end result of evolution that worked beautifully or were designed in an image of a god who intentionally set out to put us in charge of everything.

Back in the days before ships began sailing the globe, it was well accepted that each little pocket of humanity was a stand-alone example of perfection, and when other little pockets were “discovered”, they were considered less by the “discoverers” who were simultaneously deemed weird by the newly “discovered”.

Even with the widely accepted knowledge that our universe is huge and filled with billions upon billions of stars, billions and billions of which have planets going around them, our little brains don’t quite have the oomph to project far enough to grasp with certainty the fact that we are not alone.

Nope. We won’t change our view of ourselves and our place in the cosmos until we sit down over a turkey dinner and compare notes.

Earthnocentricity has us looking for the familiar, because that’s what we can deal with.

“Technology has advanced so that for the very first time we can actually have the realistic hope of detecting planets no bigger than the earth orbiting other stars.

“(We’ll be able to learn) whether they have continents and oceans, learning what type of atmosphere they have.

“Although it is a long shot to be able to learn more about any life of them, then it’s tremendous progress to be able to get some sort of image of another planet, rather like the earth orbiting another star.”

Because we need continents and oceans, others must, too? That strikes me as more than a bit limited in imagination. Who’s to say that gaseous balls don’t support intelligent beings comprised of light or heat equipped with gaseous balls for reproduction?

Lord Rees touches on this a bit, but drops the ball …

“I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms that we can’t conceive.

“And there could, of course, be forms of intelligence beyond human capacity, beyond as much as we are beyond a chimpanzee,” he added.

Considering how much DNA we share with chimps, those from other worlds would very likely consider us one species while we’re busy thinking that bright flicker in the corner was nothing but a power surge.

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It’s time to take a break from outrage and post some bits of life here on this island for those of you who actually like sharing my life with me.

I’ve written before about the wonderful people with whom I’m blessed to spend time … a smart, funny, lovely and international gang … and as it goes here, new people join in as others move along.

Going away get-togethers are a bittersweet aspect of Seychelles living, and I’ve been to a few lately. The other night was such an event … Violeta is leaving for some months … so a dinner at Sam’s Pizzeria was on the plate.

As always, many countries were represented, and if the UN could do half the job around the table at creating global warm fuzzies as we do the world would be a much better place.

Check out the smiling faces …

Me and Sam ... that's the US, Seychelles and Cambodia

Me and Sam ... that's the US, Seychelles and Cambodia

Deb ... a Yorkshire lass ... and Cj

Deb ... a Yorkshire lass ... and Cj

Violeta, from Serbia

Violeta, from Serbia

Laura is Italian

Nathalie is from Lebanon

Nathalie is from Lebanon

Lio and Carlos ... that's France listening to Spain

Lio and Carlos ... that's France listening to Spain

Photo credits: Sam Benoiton

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There are any number of temptations that have me wishing I could get my cute, straight ass to the US this summer, but the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall and the festivities that will ensue during New York City’s Pride Week next month would be enough to have me jumping a plane if that were anywhere near an option.

Forty years.

I wonder what the reaction would have been back then to predictions that in 2009 the city of NY would be puffing up and strutting its PRIDE.

This year’s 40th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion adds more significance to an already action-packed New York City Pride Week, when even the iconic Empire State Building swings into the spirit by turning its nighttime lights to lavender.

And how cool is THAT?

Having grown up in restaurant kitchens under the eyes of my father, a man who put no more stock in someone’s sexual prefs than in their pick of a fav color, my world has always had the benefit of a significant number of people of the homosexual persuasion, so any bias against has always puzzled me.

From the very first, prejudicial behavior based on what one consenting adult does with another consenting adult has indicated much more about the person spouting the prejudice than whomever was being spewed toward.

As a straight chick with all the usual man troubles, my gay friends have blessed my life … they know and accept more about me than almost anyone … and I don’t even want to contemplate where I’d be now without Robbie, Andy, Dan and many others.

Sure, I’ve had my run-ins with a few shit-mean drag queens, but they are a breed apart, and I have had much worse from shit-mean women, not to mention straight men who set their weapons to ‘stun’ then flipped the switch to ‘kill’ without warning.

So, although I won’t be there, in spirit I will be celebrating Stonewall and the fact that the world is now different … not different enough yet, but better … remembering those who left before this party, thanking all those who fought the good fight, loving all I love so much, and looking toward the day I can join in the dance.

If you’re in the area, please take in an event or 5, hug a bunch of people joyfully and remember what it has taken to bring the changes that have New York … and many other cities … proud.

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This is the 300th post here on PP, and having written yesterday about the importance of friends, I thought I’d post a few photos today of me with some of the more recent additions that have come into my life in the last 100 posts.

Evi, me, Marketa

Evi, me, Marketa


Me and Ernesto

Me and Ernesto


Me and Magnar

Me and Magnar


Shrone and me do beach

Shrone and me do beach ...


Kim, me and Calina

Kim, me and Calina


Me & Paris

Me & Paris

Guillaume likes my boa

Guillaume likes my boa


Magnar, me & Jacques

Magnar, me & Jacques


Me with Kimmy

Me with Kimmy


Bart & me

Bart & me


Me and 'Enzo

Me and 'Enzo

Italians! gotta luv 'em!

Italians ... gotta luv 'em!

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Robbie ... a photo of an old friend, by an old friend ...

Robbie ... a photo of an old friend, by an old friend ...

There has never been any doubt that I’m social.

My brother once remarked, perhaps disparagingly, that there is NO ONE I won’t talk to. Although that’s not completely accurate, I do believe that I can learn something through conversations with most people, even if we don’t happen to speak a common language.

So, no surprise that I’ve taken to online social networks like a termite to timber. Not only have platforms like facebook, myspace and Twitter allowed me to reconnect with friends I’d thought I’d lost forever, new people have come into my life … people I don’t want to imagine being without.

I hadn’t spoken to my high school bud, Virginia in 30-some years, but now we’re in touch almost daily. Robbie, my bbff and neighbor in a previous life had all but disappeared from my radar until he joined fb and skype, but we now wet ourselves on a regular basis and give each other stomach cramps from the laughs we share.

My cyber sister, Jo, and I have never met, but our lives intersect sometimes hourly, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who thinks my exact thoughts as often as she does.

Thanks to the Internet, my love life is … well … lovely, or as lovely as long distance relationships can be.

A week or so ago I trimmed my facebook friend list by 100, as I’ve arbitrarily set a max of 500 and had exceeded that limit. I’m already back up to 450, so I may have to up my quota, but even though this can stretch me a bit thin I do have some level of closeness to each and every one of the people who poke and chat and banter and comment on my status as if they cared.

My up-close-and-in-person friend clan is large, too, and even though scattered around the world, we remain close. I’ve not seen Michael in years, nor Magnar in months, but I have a pretty good idea of what’s up with them, and they with me.

Turns out, that all this friend stuff may keep me and my friends alive.

As this article in the NYT reports, that’s just what friends do.

Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends.

And luckily for some of us, the role of friends is even more important than that of a spouse.

Bella DePaulo, a visiting psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose work focuses on single people and friendships, notes that in many studies, friendship has an even greater effect on health than a spouse or family member. In the study of nurses with breast cancer, having a spouse wasn’t associated with survival.

(I think I’ll tattoo that somewhere: … having a spouse isn’t associated with survival. Funny thing is, that’s exactly what all my friends told me when Mark bailed, bless them!)

Anyway …

Friends. I love mine.

Now, if I could only get that damned Rembrandts song out of my head …

Photo credit: Trudy Fisher

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