Cryonics - a Mother's Initial Thoughts
The deep-freezing of a fertilised human egg, and thawing it for implantation? Futuristic? For science fiction? No. It is fact. So why not freeze larger objects and restore them at some time in the future?
The concept of cryonic suspension was first introduced to me recently. My initial reaction was to smile and remember Star Trek. I was provided with some information which included photographs of capsules with some strange looking dark shapes inside that may or may not have been human. I felt disturbed and perhaps even slightly sickened by the whole idea. It was rather like a horror movie. I dismissed the article and thought the sender was obviously some nutty crank. A couple of days later, I found the pictures again ... under the bed. With a second glance, as I picked it up, I could see that the human inside his time capsule did not look threatening at all. It actually looked a darned sight better than most interred bodies look even days after burial, if the late-night movies are to be believed.
"I'm supposed to have an open mind," I reminded myself.
I requested more information and was presented with a book to read. I understood that this book was some years old but nevertheless, something of a bible to cryonicists. I thought again about the recent strides in freezing embryos and sperm and suddenly it didn't sound quite so cranky. I requested still more information. More articles followed, some of which raised many of the points I had been struggling with. Suppose after all that effort and expense, the body was reanimated and there was cell damage to the brain? Surely there are enough damaged people around in the world, without some weirdo adding to it. Of course there are no real answers to this type of question. It hasn't been done yet, because science hasn't yet made this type of progress.
I began to think long and hard about the prospect. My next series of reactions was the basically maternal one. How on earth would I feel if I had been revived 50 years after my sons had expired? They are currently young men in the prime of life and the thought of them being in the past seemed somewhat abhorrent to me. This led on to a new train of thoughts. Whatever changes have taken place in the last fifty years will surely be made to look insignificant by the next batch. It would be like landing on an alien planet.
I perhaps reached a turning point, when I read yet another article, telling the story of Arlene Fried. The loving care and attention that was put into her preservation made the whole idea so much more humane and acceptable. The professional approach made by her medical specialists seemed to be continuing treatment even after the cause had become apparently hopeless.
Where am I now in my thought process? I still have many doubts about the possible success of the concept, but can I afford to dismiss it and possibly miss out on a second chance of living?
Me, My Doctors, and HRT
I was about thirty when it was suggested to me that I would benefit from a hysterectomy. There was nothing sinister in this and I was in good health otherwise, so I calmly agreed and promptly forgot my phone number, thus belying my calm exterior.
I now wonder at my own ingenuous acceptance of major surgery, with little or no thought of the disasters that seem to afflict a number of people nowadays. In those days I was something of a pillar of the Church and was given great attention by assorted vicars and other religious folk, to the extent that other members of the ward thought I must be extremely sick! There were no problems and I was quickly over the operation. Best of all, I was free of the usual monthly inconveniences. In fact it amazed me how quickly I forgot all about the monthly cycle, which normally plays so large a part in the lives of women.
I moved away from the medical practice which had served me well for some years and needed to sign on with a new doctor, who was recommended by the previous owners of my new house. I had no problem with being cared for by a male doctor and began to establish the new relationship. He asked about my medical history and seemed very nice and efficient. My second visit was similar to the first, very efficient and not unfriendly. The prescription pad was first and the certificate to sign me off work was second ... almost before I even spoke. I have to admit that I liked being treated as a human being of intelligence and was soon in the routine of almost self-prescribing.
About three years ago, I began to experience a series of symptoms which were quite inexplicable to me. Suddenly, I was unable to visit my doctor, didn't know what was wrong and couldn't suggest what I might need to help resolve the problems. Feeling rather guilty and disloyal, I arranged to see one of the female doctors. I explained my symptoms and felt rather foolish when she offered me a collection of leaflets to read, all about the menopause and the advantages and disadvantages of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). Yes, I had so forgotten about menstrual cycles that I had failed to connect the hot flushes, headaches and vaginal dryness with anything so simple as the menopause.
I have to say, I am a great enthusiast of HRT. The fact that my hysterectomy was not in any way due to cancer made the decision to begin the treatment very simple. The dangers of cancer are well-known and must give women cause for concern when deciding to take a course of HRT. I believe it is important to maintain regular checks on the breasts and to have blood-pressure monitored when taking long term treatment like this and most doctors will insist on this when renewing the prescription. Apart from removing the discomforting symptoms of menopause, there are other benefits which are being recognised. Weakening of bone tissue and conditions such as osteoporosis are increasingly common in women of middle age and it is now known that HRT is helping to prevent and indeed cure this in many cases. I was suffering from a bone weakness in the knees and since taking HRT this has now disappeared. It is also being recognised that there is a lowering of cholesterol in the blood when HRT is used. Again, I have benefitted from this aspect and a previously high level of cholesterol is now well below the recommended level.
As for my doctors, when I need advice, I can see the female doctor; when I am in a hurry and know what is wrong, I see my male doctor and tell him what I need. My only problem is that I have just moved home and I'm not sure whether I shall be able to find such an ideal combination again. After all, I have lived in my body for all these years and I mostly know what is needed to keep it healthy, but a sympathetic understanding from someone when things go wrong, is a rarity in today's busy medical centres.
Life Regardless of Cost
Longevity Books sells a hardbacked book If We Could Keep a Severed Head Alive for 10. The purpose of this book is to warn people where surgery and medicine as practised by the establishment is leading - to more and more horrific operations just to provide a few short weeks of extra life, of very low quality. Many people confuse the cryonics movement with this approach. Cryonics aims to place and keep the patient in an unconscious state until a full quality life is available. Here Chrissie Loveday tells of her own experiences with a terminal patient subjected to unwelcome medical attention by the authorities at the end of her life.
She was, indeed, a brave lady. I knew her for over thirty years and would never have believed I could wish she would die. I did. I saw her health deteriorate over a period of years, until the time came when I really wished she could be relieved of her suffering.
When I first met her, Elaine was a lively, energetic lady, into horses, badminton, you name it. Her energy made me feel breathless at times and I found it difficult to keep up with this lady, thirty years my senior. She developed problems with circulation, later diagnosed as being caused by smoking. The final consequence was the amputation of her right leg. I found it hard to keep cheerful and to make the right encouraging noises, but somehow she came through and at the age of seventy -five, learned to walk again, using sticks and an artificial limb. I shall never forget the moment in that hospital, when she walked across the gym and the physiotherapist and doctor agreed that she should be fitted with her leg. I know I wept inside and probably outside became a little damp too. She sold her cottage and bought a "sheltered" apartment, where she was able to look after herself, with minimum help. Endless trips to hospitals and physiotherapy came between spells of positive achievement, when she managed to accomplish much that we had all thought may be out of her reach. Some things were always difficult and she suffered great pain, especially in the missing limb, a very common feature with amputees.
Following her eightieth birthday, Elaine became impatient with the available lack of relief from pain and she began seeking further help from anyone who offered the least encouragement. She had private consultations with several doctors and other practitioners of alternative medicine. Finally she was admitted to hospital, insisting that someone must do something. I truly believe she was reaching the end of her tether and was no longer able to maintain her independence. An arterial bypass was carried out in her remaining leg. It failed and further attempts were made to repair this. The effects of pain and drugs made her mind very confused and she became a very different lady, to the one I knew so well. A second amputation became inevitable. She was more rational by this time and talked of how she would cope when she came home. She was making plans about residential nurses and still hoped to live in her flat. The primary health care team were very supportive and she had the best of attention. There was even talk of her leaving the hospital and I seriously considered what could happen if she did. One day when I visited, a doctor was giving her treatment, which was obviously painful but, she insisted, vital. Elaine's voice became strong as she said,
"What would happen if I refused this? Would I die?"
The doctor looked embarrassed and did not reply. Instead, she continued to insert the drip. Elaine asked me if I could understand how she felt. Of course I did and said so. A couple of days later, I received a call to get to the hospital as soon as possible as she had deteriorated dramatically. I drove there as fast as possible and to my horror found that she had been subjected to further surgery ... the remaining stump had been removed. The ward sister told me that she had collapsed under the anaesthetic and been revived twice. They had finally performed a tracheotomy and she was breathing through the tube left there. She also had on an oxygen mask, which was causing great distress.
Pause and think. Here is a lady who has said she does not want more treatment. She specifically said that she did want to be revived if she were to die during the operation ... her fifth in three weeks, at the age of eighty one. The ward sister was, herself, devastated at the treatment. I spent the night talking to Elaine. She had regained consciousness and was quite lucid. She could not understand why her neck was so sore. She kept trying to pull off the oxygen mask and at last the sister agreed that it was doing no good and that she should be allowed to be as comfortable as possible.
I returned the next night and had a comfortable chat with Elaine. She calmly told me that she had ordered all drips removed, except for one providing heavy pain killers and said she wanted no more food. She would, however, like a last whisky and dry ginger with me. I never felt a moment's sorrow at this point and I agreed that she had made the right decision. She seemed comforted that I agreed with her and did not try to chivvy her. I gained permission from sister for the drinks. She felt that Elaine's last hours should be spent as she wanted. At last, she was a person with rights, not a patient who must be treated, regardless of the cost.
The questions remain with me. Why did so much extra pain have to be inflicted on someone who was obviously not going to recover? Why, oh why was she revived when she specifically asked not be? Why did she have to undergo a tracheotomy, to continue for just a few more days? Why do hospitals continue to spend vast resources on patients who finally reach a point beyond help? I have only praise for those directly involved with her daily care. The surgeons would not even listen to them. Is this the correct interpretation of the Hippocratic oath?
Cryonics, Why Me?
Does everyone ask this question? I said some months ago that my initial thoughts were those of revulsion. I read more and thought a lot more and decided that it wasn't all some Sci-Fi exercise for the fans. My thinking was along the lines of "what is there to lose?" Can I afford to reject any opportunity? Strange really, as there was a time, not so long ago, that I didn't really care whether I had any more life or not. I've got over that temporary blip and daily wonder how I shall ever manage to get everything done that I want to do.
My next train of thought leads me to ask the question, am I worth preserving? I trust that my nearest and dearest would say YES ... without hesitation ... but I have to consider whether I think it is all worthwhile, what would I do with my time. I have spent many years in education. I am quite disillusioned with mainstream teaching. Trying to force the unwilling to reach the unattainable was my final definition. All those years of training and experience, down the drain ... wasted. I seem to have heard the same thing said by a number of ex-teachers and Radio and Television programmes echo the thoughts. This is but one instance of changes in professions.
"Finished at forty", is often heard these days. The youngsters in the office can't wait for the "oldsters" to make mistakes and earn their gratitude by leaving. Make room for the modern innovations ... let's get the new ideas working. So, are there not enough semi-redundant people around? Why should we consider cryonic suspension to save a whole new collection of "oldies" to one day, prevent the new modern progress? Could it be that old skills could one day be new skills? Perhaps reading will be phased out in the way that mental arithmetic gave way to calculators. Just imagine the thrill, some time in the future, after re-animation, of being the only person on Earth able read and interpret the collection of printed material held in museums!
I like to think that I am open-minded. I want to hear what the new ideas are. I don't want to follow them all, in the same way that I don't want to wear all the new fashions. But I don't want to stay with the laundering and labours involved in the old ways. I want to incorporate new ideas and retain the old ideas that work ... remain open-minded. Modern curriculum in school encourages students to think for themselves, in a guided way, of course. I'm still old-fashioned enough to believe that you have to know real facts before you can begin to think for yourself ... to think original thought ... but I remain open-minded about that.
There are an awful lot of new lives being born. We have an over-crowded planet and something has to be done to limit this growth. There seems to be an awful lot of wastage taking place at this particular time. There are still many countries where new life is great numbers ensures at least some chance of prolonging the parent's lives. Will the human race always procreate in this way? Brave New World made some alternative suggestions and somehow I can't help feeling that recent "advances" are heading that way. If we live longer, will we want as many children in the future? I must admit, I couldn't have managed without any of my three, but will it be that way for everyone in the future? One of my three does not consider the world a suitable place for any more children to be born and has said he doesn't want to be a father. He may change, admittedly, but this could become more common-place.
We used to think of our "allotted span" ... three score years and ten wasn't it? That needs updating, surely? I know lots of folk over that ... it surely shouldn't be limited. None of the people I know consider they are living on borrowed time. "Old-age is intolerable, until you think of the alternative" - said the always quotable Oscar Wilde, and "Youth is seldom appreciated by the young" gives the same sort of idea. Perhaps cryonic suspension could solve both problems. Whether anyone else thinks I'm worth preserving becomes irrelevant, if I want to accept the concept, it's my own decision.
Some Thoughts on Agism
Are we becoming an agist society? Or perhaps we have already become one. I heard someone on the radio complaining that he had been turned down as being too old to become a curate at 45. This lead to scores of others 'phoning in to say they had been turned down for endless things and had been given the push in favour of the young. What I want to know is, what is young?
I shall always remember being asked how old I thought a friend of my mother's to be. Haven't we all been asked that awful question at some stage in our lives? The first thing we learn is that only people who consider themselves young looking, ask that question. Thus we will think how old they look, subtract a few years and then plunge in, protesting that we are no good at estimating people's ages. There is either a smile of pleasure as the ploy works and the guess is several years on the minus side or a grunt of, "Well I haven't been too good lately and it obviously shows".
My mother's friend was extremely subdued when I suggested about 100. I think I learned later that she had been sixty or so.
Consider a five year old child's experience. A ten year old has lived twice as long. A forty year old has eight times the life experience. I've reached the stage when policemen, doctors, solicitors ... you name it ... they all look far too young to be given the responsibilities they have. But yet, am I really any older inside than I was when I went back to work after my sons grew up? Oh yes, the outside is distinctly more worn but my thoughts still scramble for attention, I still have so many things to do, to learn and to begin thinking about. I've only recently started making very positive steps towards life-extension, just in time I say, as there's a whole heap of things to start on yet!
I find it interesting to consider other cultures and their attitude to ageing. During a number of trips, I made a special point of looking for "typical" ethnic types. I realised that in some Asian countries, there seemed to be no-one about my age. There were loads of gorgeous looking young girls, in their teens and early twenties but then they seemed to disappear and re-emerge some years later as old ladies, amply proportioned and with little apparent ambition to look even passably attractive. With great interest, I visited Latin America. Away from the big cities and amongst the country people, I realised that the indigenous natives all seemed to look the same. They developed from children into adults, apparently over-night! The girls reached maturity and once there, they looked the same for most of the rest of their lives. I really couldn't tell whether someone was seventeen or forty, forty or sixty.
Granted, once one knows a little about a person, it becomes easier to make a few calculations and come up with a realistic estimate of an age. For some more affluent folk, paying for youthful looks is a distinct possibility. The Joan Collins's of this world can maintain a terrific veneer and lots of others achieve glamour, all be it at a price. For me, it would have to be something pretty instant (and pretty dramatic too, no doubt) for me to cope. I have far too much to do to ever devote time to making myself look more glamorous! Still, as long as my sons phone to tell me they've got tickets for me to go to a pop concert with them, I shall know I'm still young where it matters ... inside. When I reach one hundred and fifty, then it may be time to give thought to my appearance and even growing up a bit.
Genes and Immortality
It seems that throughout recorded history, people have been trying to achieve immortality. The Romans had the great idea of having themselves declared Gods to ensure it. Dozens of novelists and others have had their characters finding an elixir of life, founts of perpetual youth. I even remember a spring in Bali which promised eternal young looks to anyone who washed their face in it. I resisted the temptation to go for total immersion!
I am, actually, very content with my age, as I have been most of my life. It seems that every age has its own pleasures and compensations. I would hate to be a teenager at this time1 ... the idea of deciding whether to have a family these days would cause much heart searching2. Perhaps it is a form of inherent conditioning that enables most of us to accept what we are3. It doesn't stop us from wanting to extend what we have. There have been times when I felt life was just too much ... don't we all have them? Once over any of these "temporary blips", we all seek that elixir that will keep us in prime condition to enjoy life. Whether or not we can really call ourselves immortal is something of a moot point, but we must surely compare well with those ancients who, despite deification, still didn't achieve the sort of lifespans we consider normal.4
I often hear it said that one can gain immortality through having children. The genes march on through countless future generations. I thought about this. I have three sons but somehow that makes no steps towards my own immortality. They are people in their own rights and I sometimes find it hard to identify even one of my genes supposedly marching on through the future. Ok, one has blue eyes like me and two have blondish hair like mine, but then so have millions of other people. They have a few of my characteristics but by the time these are all mixed with the genes of their father, moulded by environment and experience, it would be dishonest for me to claim even the least bit of immortality through them. They don't even have my (maiden) name! I just find it peculiar that so many people think of their off-spring as extensions of themselves ... to inherit the family firm ... to do all the things the parent didn't have the chance to do. I very much doubt that my sons would ever want to do most of the things I have done. They like the idea of some of the travelling I have done, but they will make their own chances in the future ... their own futures and nothing at all to do with my genes being carried on to immortality!
1 But how about having the body of a someone in their late teens with your present memories and skills? That is what some immortalists consider.
2 I don't think someone who is planning to live for ever is going to have the same worries, somehow.
3 Acceptance of death has been necessary up to now, as if people had spent their time worrying about it nothing else would have been done. However now we have the means to deal with it, this necessity has passed. It could be that religions are an outward manifestation of this acceptance of death. The Immortalist Society refers to axe-kneeling to mean going passively to one's execution without trying to take one last stab at the enemy, in this case death itself. An attempt at cryonics which does not succeed is at least a fist shaken at the status quo that we should all suffer and die.
4 Agreed - all those people who think life extension unnatural ought to die at their naturally appointed age, which is between 20 and 30 years!
Who'll Scrub My Back?
Introduction by John de Rivaz:
One of the worries of people interested in cryonic suspension is that they will require expensive terminal care in old age. The Care in the Community programme for the disabled is estimated to cost between 50,000 and 75,000 per year per person. Although the UK government provides financial assistance, this is only available if your savings are below a certain figure, at present about 3,000. Therefore if you cannot afford terminal care at this cost, then you need, as you get older, to consider making your cryonics fund irrevocable. Having done this you then have no further control of your first life. So what happens next? Chrissie Loveday works in the Care in the Community programme and her experiences may be of some value in this context:
In April this year, an Act of Parliament introduced Care in the Community. Those dreadful Victorian buildings, filled with long stay patients are to go. Excellent news! Hundreds of old people and mentally ill people, institutionalised for much of their lives, are to have their independence.
The media have put out information in large doses, Press, TV and Radio, telling the tales of freedom. Peoples reactions are varied. Those involved may say that they think it is a brilliant concept .... others nod wisely and say it costs too much ... some say oh yes, that TV programme said it all ... What of the people themselves? Many of them are very scared and don't want the change from the safety and security they have known for a lifetime.
I have been working with some profoundly disabled people, some with no speech, who are hoping to move out to independence. My impression is that the degree of disability makes little difference to how they may cope ... what is important is their mental attitude. For example, Sam. He can't wait to get his own place. He spelt it out on his computer pad, he wants to be on his own ... to decide when he goes to bed and when he wants to eat his meals and what he wants ... not what he is given or told to do. This man has no speech, cannot move himself at all, even needs help to go to the loo. He is unable to dress or feed himself. He has surrounded himself with what technology he can afford and has evolved methods of coping. He knows he will need help, considerable help, but he has mental independence. He wants to be his own person. He can do his own shopping, aided by his electric wheelchair and a copy of a typewriter keyboard on a large piece of board. This is hooked on the back of the chair and he is more than ready to point at it for someone to lift it off to use. I suppose he basically sees the rest of the world as being slightly handicapped because they don't manage to understand him. Says something of all of us perhaps!
I will admit, I was very nervous when asked to run a pilot course and very uncertain about my ability to help at all. I worked hard at communicating on a number of levels and the news that one of my charges had been allocated a flat gave me the incentive to make definite plans. We discussed the client's needs and how she could organise her helpers and she was looking forward to going. She told her Mother. The response was not helpful.
"Don't be silly. It's a ridiculous idea, so just forget it."
My next session was spent mopping up tears and encouraging her not to give up.
I can sympathise with the parents of a disabled adult. A disabled child is perhaps more appealing and help given willingly. But a thirty year old baby is quite another matter. The parents may have coped for a number of years, possibly neglecting other siblings because of the time needed and, unless they know something we don't, are getting older and less able to cope themselves. So, when they finally believe their off-spring is to be cared for in a residential home, hopefully for the rest of their lives, news that they are to be cared for in the community must come as rather a shock. How on earth can they cope? Will they, the parents who have found a new way of living, be suddenly required to start all over again? Incidentally my client is now living "independently", and, in a recent letter, claimed "It was the best thing I have ever done."
It seems a little uncertain who the community is and how they are expected to care. How often do we see people looking the other way? One of my ladies told me of a woman who dragged her child across the road to avoid having to speak or answer the child's questions. Another told me that he was stopped one day by what he described as a crowd of yobs, who asked what he was doing out in the street. He should be locked away somewhere, they said. Being unable to speak, he ignored them and drove on in his chair, saying "Up yours" in his mind.
I have realised that so many of the disabled people I have encountered have all the same problems as the rest of us, plus a whole lot more. It is so important that this is recognised and dealt with. I hope that the "community" can accept what it is being asked to cope with. Perhaps one day disabilities may be cured. Just as we hope to beat the aging process, they must all be hoping for a cure. Perhaps one day, anyone who wanted it, might be offered the chance of cryonic suspension. Once the concept is proved to work, it could be a way for the disabled to escape from the restrictions of their poor bodies. I suppose each person I have worked with has said at sometime, if they could have a wish, it would be to escape from their body.* Till then, we have to work towards the best quality of life possible, for everyone, old or young.
When my clients (horrible word) are given their independence, for some, what is needed is acceptance, others need enormous amounts of help and encouragement. For Robert, he needs to know who will help him to scrub his back!
* Voluntary, pre-mortem cryonic suspension would offer this. But how can one express this idea without creating images of extermination of the handicapped? And how could the handicapped pay for it as individuals? If the government offered it to anyone who asked, then the cost savings would be enormous. (And one would hear the "Hiels" again.) Using the Cryonics Institute or even an Alcor neurosuspension, the costs would be commensurate with only a year's care in the community. I would expect that a Cryonics Institute suspension would also equate to the costs of care in an institution. Maybe when cryonic revivals are possible then people would accept its use, but once cryonic revivals are possible, then we would also have the technology to repair the handicapped.
Cryonics and Cranks
I was recently interviewed by one of the women's monthly magazines, as being one of the few women who have signed up for cryonic suspension in Great Britain. Actually, it would be more correct to say, one of the few prepared to talk about it. It seems that people are reticent to talk on the subject, in case they may be considered to be cranks. Even their jobs might be in danger, should anyone found out about their intentions. These ladies are, it seems, doctors and solicitors, or similar professions. Interesting that being a crank should be considered as job threatening. I do remember when being a vegetarian was being a crank ... the very successful vegetarian restaurants were even called "Cranks"! I wonder if after all my years spent in education, I may now be unemployable because I have decided to choose freezing rather than burning or rotting when my time comes?
It was interesting that one of the first questions was, "Don't you think you are being selfish?"
My answer was "not particularly and isn't everyone selfish to some extent?"
I have thought about this since. I am not really sure what is selfish and what isn't. One might say it is selfish to live in a house when people all over the world don't have a house. I like making clothes for myself, but isn't it selfish to do so when I could be helping an elderly or sick person to clean or do some gardening? It is almost suggesting that anything we have is selfish, if everyone cannot share it or have similar things themselves. This is maybe a simplistic view of communism - which obviously did not work. Perhaps that is the excuse for the "take-it" section of our society. Perhaps the writer of the article would be willing to share everything she earns, rather than choose to spend it on something she wants. Granted that there is no certainty of success in cryonic suspension, but is everyone taking a holiday guaranteed enjoyment? Remember the thirty thousand pound luxury trip made by a group with Alan Whicker? The complaints that were made at times showed the participants were not always enjoying success.
I have not seen the finished magazine article yet. My guess is that it will be fairly damning about the whole subject. The tone of questioning and some of the questions themselves were a little hostile. I suppose to most people, it is in the realms of science fiction and I was being treated in the same way a witness to flying saucers might be ... a sort of benign idiot. To friends and colleagues who know of my intentions, it is strange rather than plain stupid. People who know me well are, perhaps, less surprised. I am not known for being totally conventional and this is just another symptom. They are curious and I have been asked very many questions about it. One of my sons thought it may be strange not to have a conventional funeral, but I pointed out that I'd rather everyone had a party to celebrate the good things anyway!
I am still getting used to the idea, I suppose but I am gaining confidence in talking about cryonic suspension. Obviously, I still have much to learn, but having decided that this is most likely our one chance at life, extending it and trying to defeat the system by whatever way possible, seems good sense and not at all cranky.
What Will They Think?
It is now a few months since I joined the small band of Brits who prefer to be frozen rather than burned or left to rot. I didn't say much to my friends or even relations to begin with. Not that I had any doubts about my own commitment, rather I went through the usual human feelings, "What will they think?" Ironic really, as I have spent many years doing what I wanted to do and claiming that if I, (or the friend I was advising) believed a particular course to be right, then hang what anyone thinks and do it.
Things have changed now and I find myself chatting quite ordinarily about cryonic suspension to lots of people. The British, and I suspect, most other nationalities, talk little about death. We try to ignore the fact that it exists, thinking, I suppose, that when it comes we shall be either ready for it or taken totally unaware, thus knowing nothing about it. For the latter, we don't have to prepare but a number of elderly people have told me that they have had enough of life, for one reason or another. Often it is the pain of an illness that is proving too much. It is rarely a tactful thing to suggest that they could undergo cryonic suspension as it seems so alien to their beliefs. They perhaps think that they would face a continuing a life of pain in unfamiliar surroundings, and could not face that. Someone suggested to me that it was only young or early middle-aged people who would consider it, but I know there are older members who signed up late in life and my friend was very surprised. The older generation have got even more preconceptions to get over, more old traditions and values to overcome. Many people see progress as a threat to older values. I sometimes think that there has been so much progress in the past few years, that there won't be scope for more. Then I watch something on television that excites and interests me ... like the current work on genes ... and I begin to wish I had more time to learn and progress myself.
Perhaps this brings me back to where I began ... the discussion of cryonic suspension in everyday life. The possibility of having the chance to learn more, once the business of death is over and done with, remains a very thrilling concept. Hopefully, progress will be such that re-animation will be achieved and ageing processes reversed. Obviously, we need considerable progress and techniques to be developed, so that when we return, our newly open minds will be ready to receive all the messages that the future holds. Once only "foolish" eccentrics believed that man could reach the moon ... that illnesses could be cured ... that anaesthetics could work ... I could go on!
Hearing is Believing.
I used to have an elderly aunt who had the proverbial deaf side. When asked why she did not seek advice on her problem, she answered, "I can hear, but I just don't want to listen."
At least she was honest about it! Most of us can't be bothered to listen, at least some of the time. Teenagers often have loud music on to help with their homework! TV and radio are often on as background noise. Even shopping is accompanied by "music". If I want to listen to the radio, I use my Walkman, so that I can walk around anywhere and still have the sound close to my ears. Using a normal radio means that the sound is no longer personal and there are too many other distractions.
In an age of constant noise, we develop the habit of only partially listening and this often extends into conversations. Doctors are sometimes guilty of deciding what is wrong with a patient before they have actually listened to the patient's account of the problem. Other professionals have a similar affliction ... solicitors who don't want to hear the whole story before offering advice to fight the case, not to give in. (Especially amicable divorce settlements ... fighting yields more business.) As a teacher for many years, I am well aware that students listen to a very small percentage of what was taught. I remember denying I had ever heard of some fact, asked in an examination question, only to discover an account of it in my own notes, in my own handwriting!
Phone-in programmes often prove my point ... a recent phone-in during an item on cryonic suspension proved that the subject had been dismissed as ridiculous and impossible ... benign idiots ... was one term used. The comments made were such things as, what happens if there's a power cut? (I don't think and explanation is even necessary.) How do you think thawing can possibly be satisfactorily accomplished? (this despite several allusions to our reliance on future technology) Examples go on ...
Perhaps I have joined a collection of benign idiots, but I still say, I haven't seen an alternative method of attempting to avoid death. How can anyone say cryonic suspension will or won't work? To me, it seems like a possible way and the alternatives are definitely final. Perhaps the rumours about The Ageing Gene,* perhaps discovered even now, in Japan, will mean that none of us needs to worry, but just at this moment, suspension seems like the best option to me. I have listened very carefully to what I have been told and tried to absorb all I have read on the subject. There are loads of questions, many of which don't have answers, but always someone has to take the risks.
I was asked recently, what guarantees are there that someone won't make off with the money? None at all, I suspect, but surely that applies to most things in life ... from mail-ordering to after-sales guarantees, but this doesn't stop people from doing it. What guarantees do I have that the bit of paper, said to be a share certificate, is worth the paper it is printed on, let alone the large sums of money they represent? Perhaps my feeling of security comes from having joined this small band of benign idiots, who share such an individual desire to beat the system. At least I am sure that my mind will stay open and receptive to any new ideas and I know I shall be listening hard for all the information I can get.
*If there is an ageing gene, a gene that causes ageing, why are there no deficiency diseases where the gene is not working and the individual lives and extremely long life? If there does prove to be an ageing gene, and this is the only gene that is not subject to the processes of disease and damage, then I think this is the most powerful evidence there could be for this universe to be deliberately designed rather than a happening of random quantum fields. Unfortunately it would also be powerful evidence for a malevolent designer as opposed to the benign god of religious belief.
Who is Right?
It is a fact of life that people will make assumptions about each other. A long-haired, scruffy or leather clad man walking along the road, might be seen as a layabout, up to no good or threatening. Someone sitting in parked car may be assumed to be watching a place for some illegal purpose, casing the joint for possible burglary, perhaps? A woman wearing a wedding ring, is automatically assumed to be married, a man who does not wear one is not necessarily unmarried, but he could be. What we rarely take the time to see, is what that person is really like. Some of my closest friends have long hair and often look scruffy, but they are kind and loving and not a bit like the image they are projecting. A person in a wheelchair is not necessarily brainless or voiceless and it should be assumed they are unable to speak ... the "does he take sugar"? syndrome.
We must all, at some time, have looked at someone who is suffering and wondered what they have to live for? What possible motivation do they have to go on? Ask them, they will respond in various ways. The old lady crippled with arthritis can't wait for "her good Lord to take her". Some of us without her faith, would think she is tired of life and simply wants to end her pain. Euthanasia is not an option in Britain and so her life is prolonged. Others have a capacity for enjoying life for whatever it offers, just for the sake of living.
Working with profoundly disabled people, I often see them in a severe depression, often brought on by frustration at not being able to do anything for themselves. Those who do have good brains are often the worst, logically because they be aware of things they would like to be doing. Even the people who are most disabled can have some ambition, even if only to make their own choices about what they want to wear on a certain day. We cannot assume that what they "have to live for" is so little as to make it almost not worthwhile. There are times when to instil a little motivation becomes an uphill task and it is case of survival until a better day comes along. But to most of them, life is precious and they derive their own pleasures from living. Because we can't imagine how we would cope, does not mean that any life is not worth protecting.
As I get older, the things I want to do, seem to increase daily. Time goes faster and faster and I do not believe it just me, being less efficient. Some of my old friends may wonder what I find to do, buried in Cornwall, away from my previous busy life. Assumptions again! I seem to have found more to do than ever, with writing, my work at Cornwall College and so many beautiful things to see around me. However did I find time for those other activities and does it matter anyway, if some things don't get done? As long as I and anyone else concerned, are comfortable with it, life belongs to oneself to use in particular ways. Perhaps death, too.
My involvement with the cryonics movement is relatively recent. Talking about it to various people brings varied reactions. Inevitably, the "how much" comes into it and the well known responses are trotted out. For many people, there is the assumption it won't work and therefore those signed up are being conned, wasting money. Is it not equally wasteful to spend vast sums of money on maintaining buildings, churches, various investigative committees, law-suits, etc.? It is surely up to everyone to believe in what they are doing and if it does not hurt other people, why not have a few eccentrics around?
Those with deep religious beliefs suggest cryonics is quite wrong and potentially evil, but are they not making the assumption their beliefs are the right ones? Look at the vast range of ways of disposing of bodies, according to the different religions. Who is right? Those who incinerate? Those who bury in the ground, pointing in particular directions, vertically, upside-down, as in some traditions, curled up, in others? Is it really a total waste of money for those who burn huge symbolic piles of expensive paper, printed to look like money, cars, houses, videos etc., as in many Far Eastern countries? Because it is different, why should anyone ever dare to assume it is wrong?
The stress and grief brought by a death, expected or unexpected, can make decisions very difficult. Knowing the person's wishes, regarding funerals and disposal of the corpse is not always easy. It may be in direct conflict with you believe to be right, but surely wishes should be respected? Assuming the deceased was a little potty, not in proper control of their faculties, is no reason to do what you think is right and not what they wanted. If they were right all along, you would be guilty of denying them a chance. I will stick to what I think and believe and right or wrong, I hope others will respect my wishes.
Me, a Grand-parent?
I recently looked into the eyes of my first grandchild. We stared at each other for many minutes. The tiny, five day old gaze seemed to be hypnotic in its attraction for me. What was she seeing from those dark depths? Oh, I know all about the blurs of unfocussed sight and the fond imaginings of instant communication ... that isn't what I was meaning. Those eyes hold knowledge and un-tapped information. They hold the capacity to see things we know nothing about yet. They will see, and take for granted, things that to us are out of the ordinary but which will be common-place. We only have to think of the changes in our own times. It isn't many years since the thought of people actually having computers in their own homes, was so extraordinary as to be eccentric. And here am I typing away on a tiny machine, on my lap, in the garden!
Naturally my thoughts run forward to wondering how long I shall know this grandchild. If all the promises of longevity are fulfilled, I should see her well through further education, marriage and childbirth, if all that is still in existence. Failing my own proposed long life, cryonics might be the next best way of ensuring the trip into the future!
What is left to discover and develop? My grandparents would doubtless have considered that the world has already done quite enough to damage itself. I won't go through the boring lists of changes, or the many things that remain the same hard work! All I want for myself, is to retain the capacity for accepting change and innovation and for harnessing any new energies to make time stretch further. There are lots of things I would like to include ... some way of travelling instantly, a sort of Star Trek transporter, for one!
I began thinking about what I should like to leave behind me as a memory for this and any other grandchildren. I actually decided that it would be grossly unfair to burden anyone with lots of possessions, even if I had them! I hope that I shall have the chance to provide lots of shared experiences, memories that take up only brain-space. I shall never leave anything very dramatic in the way of artistic creation and the many photographs mean little to anyone else. When eventually, I am quite forgotten, at least I can be satisfied that I did what I wanted to do ... or as much as the dreaded TIME allows.
The eyes of my first grandchild will have changed the next time I see her. She will be seeing more of reality by then and those first few blurs will have hardened into a solid world. She is becoming her own person ... not some ego trip into immortality for me, or her parents.
Where did those years go, since I gazed into the dark depths of my son's eyes? How can this new baby be his child? I still feel the same as all those years ago. I can't possibly be this much older, but then age is irrelevant compared with immortality.
It's Media Time Again, Folks!
It amazes me sometimes, how people react to the words Cryonic Suspension. I suppose I vaguely knew what it meant, before my own involvement, but I am certain I did not display the shock ... horror reactions that many people do. A number of my friends and colleagues, who see me as a fairly normal, rational human being, express great interest and only the tiniest bit of the UGH! factor. When it comes to the mass media ... well ... the reaction is quite different.
"Let's get a group of them and a few folks who disagree. The audience participation will do the rest."
It's ready made entertainment, isn't it? What would they have done if TV had been around when that first few said they were going to fly? To make a machine that would do calculations for you? Or one that would print things for you? What would Frankenstein have made of spare parts surgery?
Apart from my small contributions to John's publications, I have been doing some freelance writing recently. I have achieved my name in print in various places and my success encouraged me to write to some magazines with suggestions for articles, one of which was cryonic suspension. Bella, the second best selling woman's magazine in the UK, got very excited and rushed a photographer, a journalist (we only use our own team of journalists) and an exclusive contract, to visit me. Publication is in August and I dread the full colour picture of me plastering the pages. At least I persuaded the photographer that pictures of me in my freezer were about as relevant as a gas cooker is to cremation. He contented himself with lots of dry ice and smoke. The machine to produce the smoke was appropriately called a Pea-souper. Nice name! I needed no encouragement to smile ... I was giggling helplessly! I guess it will be my first and last photo call with a professional photographer ... even he couldn't take a picture I would actually like!
The journalist was very enthusiastic and interested in the whole business. He made dozens of notes which have to be condensed into a suitable length and the style suited to the readers of the magazine. I don't expect to see the technical depths appealing to them, so it may be a light-weight article.
About the same time, TV and radio were doing the trawl round the less usual topics and some researcher discovered Cryonics. They should have known better than to ask John to "Phone, urgently". He sent them information and a letter. The ensuing programme was good, featuring the Michaels family. One thing leads to the next ... more interviews sought, more TV and so on. It is quite astounding, the publicity that is given to the subject, compared to the number of people actually involved. Perhaps, secretly, more people are sympathetic to the idea than they are prepared to admit.
Getting past the "How do you know it will work?" brigade, the "How will you fit into the future world" lobby, it will perhaps one day, become as acceptable to everyone, as cremation. That was the shock... horror reaction of the Victorians and look what happened to that!
Must find out what the best selling women's magazine is. Perhaps they would like an article on something or other.
I mentioned in my article last month that the magazine Bella was to produce a piece about cryonics, John and myself. Apart from the necessarily sensational phrases, typical of the magazine, it wasn't too bad. Even the photograph of me was almost bearable. (Why do we never look the way we imagine ourselves to look?) The interest it has provoked is continuing and we have had an item on local radio, a piece in the local paper and a piece on regional television. One realises the care and attention that is necessary to produce such an item when you see how long is spent on filming it. The producer and cameraman were here for two and a half hours, filmed for forty-five minutes and produced a three minute item!
It made me think about communication. I was probably in touch with more people for my three minutes of television, than I have spoken to in all my life. I have spoken on national radio a couple of times and local radio, often. I was never aware of anyone else listening from the radio studio (perhaps they weren't!) and the film was very easy to do. Standing in front the whole school to take assembly, amateur dramatics and any sort of teaching has never presented me with problems, but do I actually communicate? John says he would find any of those mediums of communicating quite horrendous, but we all know he can communicate by the written word, better than most. I was marking exam papers in school once and said to my colleagues,
"I had thought of giving up teaching, but marking this lot, I realise I already have."
So, I was being frivolous, but there is more than a grain of truth. You can spend hours preparing a lesson (speech, film, anything), but until a way has been found to force feed the information, it is difficult to assess whether communication took place at all.
My current work with people who are profoundly disabled presents, perhaps, the greatest challenge ever in communicating. I ask you, how do you teach life-skills to a wheel-chair bound lady, who is deaf, almost blind, has no movement except for her uncontrolled arm reflexes, due to cerebral palsy? Yet, despite the fact that I have no specific training for this, I have found a way of communicating and am rewarded by a sort of whoop and huge grin, when I arrive to do the session with her. I can't really explain how I do communicate with her, but obviously I do. It's like trying to speak in a foreign language, when we wave our hands around, point to things and try the English word with what we consider to be a foreign accent.
So what of the future? If (or when) we are reanimated from cryonic suspension, what will be the accepted form of communication? Will the language be the same? Will people still talk in the familiar way? Will they have so much recorded material from our times, that they don't want to know much about our memories? What will we have to offer the future peoples of Earth, that makes it all worth while? I see my always present curiosity as my driving force. When I have asked them several hundred questions about their lives, I shall begin to talk about my own experiences ... and so communication will be established. No-one can resist talking about themselves and their opinions. There will be features in the Bella's of the future,
The couple who came back from the past!
Women In Cryonics Some Thoughts from a Relative Newcomer
I read Mae Ettinger's article in October's Immortalist, with interest. A traditional female role in society may well be that of procreator, while that of men is the hunter/gatherer. In the UK, there are movements towards the greater involvement of men in the process of child birth all the way through. It is being suggested that fathers are possibly to be allowed a three month work break to assist with new babies and do their own share of bonding. I really don't see how we can sustain two parents taking leave for such a period, but then I am of the generation that was pleased if father could take a few days off out of the annual leave. Still, I guess it would be good, in an idealistic world.
This indicates to me that there are changes taking place in the stereotype family. Many females are beginning to earn more than their partners, giving opportunity for them to play greater roles in making major financial decisions for families. So far, it seems that it is not young family people who are moving towards cryonic suspension and the low numbers of female participants is more to do with this than other considerations. Career minded females would give little thought to such a proposition when they have to beat the competition for jobs and often family commitments take over any spare capacity after that. Unless a female works in an environment where cryonics is likely to be discussed, they can only reach information through random media spots...the occasional TV show put out at a time when they are able to view and not the day-time slots that seem to be favoured.
When I have spoken about cryonics in my own work place, many people are quite fascinated that such an ordinary person can be so involved. I like to think I am respected for doing a good job and colleagues then think it less peculiar that I should have such ambitions. One even said she thought I was very brave but I wasn't sure whether she meant the cryonic involvement or the fact that I had appeared on TV! As I said, leaving the answer deliberately confused, if you are not scared of something it is never brave to confront it. Besides, as I keep saying, it's less scary than burning.
I remain uncertain as to why people think that it is stranger for a female to have plans to be suspended than a male. Though it is often usual for a woman to have to fight harder for equality, things are improving generally. As a member of the teaching profession, (I used to teach a traditionally female subject, namely Home Economics) I rarely encountered the need to fight for equality. There were, in those days, no men to challenge my role and I was a departmental head for many years, as equal as most and more equal than others! Perhaps it is my attitude of mind that allows me to see no real difference and therefore do not see myself a peculiar in any way. The media still seem to think I should be an object of interest, just because I am a woman and want suspension at the end.
Interestingly, one national TV network decided to pull the plugs only days before my latest extravaganza because Cryonic Suspension is unsuitable for putting out early in the evening. Not as informative as spontaneous human combustion, haunted houses and war sites or several unsolved murders, it seems. Why do people feel so reticent to talk about death, when murder thrillers and films where everyone beats hell out of each other are quite acceptable? In a recent lecture I was talking about bereavement and how to handle it.
One member of my group began to cry for the first time since a close friend had died. Naturally, I was concerned for her, but she said it was wonderful to actually talk about it and begin to grieve openly for the first time. She had had no-one to talk to about it before and a group session had relieved pressure that had been building for many weeks.
Obviously, one must not become obsessed with death or there would be little point in even attempting to return one day. Let's face it, it may not work! But to treat death as a natural part of life ought to be easier for everyone.
Could it be that I am not quite as ordinary as I think?
Is Your Label User-Friendly?
Why does everyone have to be labelled? For many years, I was someone's wife, Mrs Whatsit ... never just me. I then became known as Mark's (or Peter's or Tim's) Mum. Known by all the village by one or other of these labels, I ventured back into teaching and became re-labelled as The Cooking Teacher. Naturally, my name changed as the titles of the job came in and out of fashion. I passed through Home Economist, Domestic Scientist, Housecraft Teacher and heard myself recently called the Drama and Movement Teacher. (All because I do this for a couple of hours a week with his group!)
There have been many labels attached to me and I have inhabited a variety of pigeon-holes, several at a time, in some cases.
"How come you're teaching cookery if you can speak French?"
"Why are you doing drama if you are a sewing teacher?"
When asked, "And what do you do with yourself, besides housework, of course?"
at social gatherings, especially pompous business types,
"I teach cooking, sewing and sex. It's all they need, you know."
It really gave me many hours of pleasure, remembering the gasps and shocked looks! It usually stopped the boring conversations quite dead.
I also rebel against ageist labels. People often ask one's age and though I am not coy about it, I wonder why. I accused one young man of trying to fit me into the pigeon-hole of middle-age, so that he could guess at my potential role in any situation. I made him decide which age group he wanted to fit me into and maybe I would oblige and fit it. Luckily for him, he placed me several years younger and was able to cope with me on his level! Men usually seem to prefer their women to be younger and often place the outside picture as the most important factor in their relationship. Thinking women are most likely to use the derogatory labels ... Bimbo, Dolly-bird type of descriptions. Perhaps it is just self-defence, but whatever, it is still a label that fits a type.
Have you noticed how newspaper reports always contain people's ages?
Fred Wurble, (27) was in court today, accused of attacking Cynthia Totbury (78) witnessed by Charlie Bloom (43)... and so on. Does it present you with a prejudice when you hear that? Rotten young man (27), hitting a poor old lady, (78) and a strapping man (43) just stood by? It may not have been anything like that, but we seem to need to attach suitable labels to any situation to talk about it.
I have had the odd few things written about me in various media outlets recently, and every one has included in the title, the word Granny. I am quite happy to be a Granny, love the little grand-daughter, but I am me first, Chrissie Loveday and a granny, mother of three, writer, teacher, lecturer, cryonicist or anything else second, third and all the rest. It was recently suggested that I was being a little shy about admitting I was a feminist. (The Immortalist, January 1995). I am not shy about it, not at all. I just hate the label Feminist. Yes, if I hear someone use the term, I have visions of the stereotype, aggressive, bra-less woman, and myself become guilty of labelling.
Ah well, Granny,(54) I must get this Feature (half-an hour) to my Editor(50), or my Public (about 10, perhaps) will fail to receive this month's Column (approx.540 words).
Listening and Hearing
I recently heard a well-known English cleric talking about listening and hearing. I thoroughly agreed with what he was saying ... a rare occurrence for me! He was discussing the meaning of the two words, listening and hearing. He referred to a group of people seeking peace in one of the troubled European states, who hear all of the points made but ignore them because they don't want to listen. It reminded me of school both as a teacher and those distant days of being a pupil.
"Listen, all of you. This is important," says the teacher.
"I am," says the pupil at the back, who obviously isn't.
"What did I say then?" asks the teacher, hoping to catch him out.
But rarely does it happen...the pupil can often quote what was said verbatim but explaining the meaning is quite a different matter. The pupil heard, but didn't really listen to the message.
I always think of an aunt of mine who always said she was deaf in one ear and everyone telling her unpleasant things would inevitably choose her bad ear. I noticed that her bad ear was not consistently the same and when tackled, she admitted,
"I can hear all right, but I just don't want to listen!"
I shall cultivate the technique further when I get old and crotchety! Actually, I already use the technique quite frequently already. There are often things said by students and others, which would cause endless trouble to sort out and sometimes it is prudent to "fail to hear" them. The student thinks they got away with it and feels pleased and I have saved a long inquest and possible need to punish. It can also be amusing to let them know later that you don't have any hearing problems, thus presenting confusing pictures to the student. Did she hear or didn't she? Keep 'em guessing.
We all cultivate an expression of concentration, designed to let people know you are positively hanging on to their every word. I used it myself for years! It allows for time to go wool gathering ... dreaming ... whatever. I often listen best when doodling furiously, the movement of pen on paper somehow allows me to concentrate on what I am hearing and the restless fingers are being occupied. (Perhaps this also explains the generations of carvings on school desks?)
One of today's popular sayings seems to be, "I hear you". This implies a sense of understanding in addition to the affirmation of listening. Counselling skills are more than fifty percent listening skills, something everyone needs. The good listener. Unfortunately, listening takes time and those we turn to for help, are often too busy to spend the time. Five minutes per client/patient should suffice. Can anyone really make themselves understaood in that time? The art of précis lives for some but not for all! Think of the horrors possible, if the doctors don't listen properly ... wrong bits chopped out ... wrong pills issued ... wrong case notes studied. Fortunately not all doctors are like that ... there are those who consistently run late in their clinics and get reprimanded by the receptionist for keeping everyone else waiting.
A recent medical TV series reminded me of an occasion some years ago when a friend's husband was dying of cancer. She begged me not to let him know. I sat with him one day while she went out for a break. He begged me not to let on that he had cancer ... he knew his wife could never cope. I listened to them both. I heard what they were saying. I sat them both down together and insisted that each listened to what the other was saying. At last they heard each other and they spent their last few weeks together, both listening to and hearing what they wanted to say to each other.
So much depends on what we say to people and how they interpret it. If everyone truly listened to what is being said, to what they were being told, how many relationships would be saved? How many wars might never have started?
Unfortunately, we tend to pick on one thing we have heard and remember that, often placing things without their proper context. Talk of cryonic suspension to people and assuming they've heard of it, they'll make some comment about borrowing their freezer, power cuts spoiling everything and so on.
But then, some folks never do listen do they?
Bed Time? Sleep Time?
by Chrissie Loveday
Have you noticed how very strange it is that when you are extremely busy and tired, you don't seem to sleep very well? We have recently been doing some redecorating and building work and every night, I collapsed exhausted into bed, only to wake at four a.m., ready to start all over again. Fortunately, it coincided with hot weather and I was glad to be able to work in the cool part of the day.
It does seem to me that the older I get, the less sleep I seem to need. Other people have told me the same thing and have added that they find it difficult to stay awake during the day. I must say, I am often tempted to take a nap myself but the chance rarely presents itself and I am usually waiting till I can relax in front of the TV, before I settle to sleep properly! I am pleased that I can get up and do things instead of lying awake, wondering if I shall remember all the things I think of in the middle of the night. I once decided my best ideas all happen in the night and thought it would be a good idea to write some of them down for use later, at those frequent times when the muse goes missing. I did try writing down these wonderful ideas for a while but discovered that my brilliant ideas, so clear in the dark, turned into utter gibberish in the morning light. It even looked like some obscure foreign language, one which no-one could possibly speak.
If it was entirely left to me, I think I might often invert my day and get up at odd times and go to bed when I felt like it. Why is it considered to be so bad to stay in bed all morning and work at night? Of course it becomes difficult when other people are involved and in teaching, it would be quite impossible. I suppose my current excuse for reasonably early rising is the dogs; guess who faces the consequences if I don't get up when they shout! I have occasionally returned to bed to catch up on sleep after a particularly disturbed night but rarely mange to sleep more than a few minutes and then wake thoroughly disorientated and woolly headed. I dread to think what I might be like if I had to do night work! It must be a case of what you get used to but it does make me think that if we are truly in charge of our lives, we should be able to sleep and wake when the mood takes us ... using our natural bio-rhythms. We seem to need to justify what we do and make explanations (excuses?) if we are doing something out of our normal routine.
What will the future bring? With the promise of an increase in our leisure time and more and more automation at work, we should be able to catch up on work whenever we feel like it and ignore everyone else and their routines. Apart from my days at college, when I have to conform to other people's timetables, I could have breakfast at noon; lunch at five and supper sometime in the middle of the night. So excuse me if I phone at three in the morning and fail to reply to you when you phone at what may be considered a normal time but this could be the start of Chrissie Time. Our answerphones could be on the brink of becoming more friendly! Trouble is, how do I explain this to the dogs? Perhaps I shall have to postpone the new regime for awhile.
To be preoccupied with... thoughts dominated by... or perhaps you are merely thinking of the perfume given the name. Many of us have some sort of obsession, often temporary or lasting for a part of our lives. It can have a profound effect on our lives, however temporary!
We all go through a time in our lives where something is all-consuming. For many young people, it can be a pop group, a person, real or hero-worshipped. Their lives can revolve around the records, posters, appearances on television and radio and to miss a live concert for any reason can herald the major crisis in a life. Parents rarely understand (or remember) how important the hero can be to the life they are trying to control. The more grown-up version of this, is when someone falls in love (again, temporarily or permanently) and can think of nothing and no-one else. When the desired person is not available, it can become a great problem to those concerned as well as those on the periphery and can if uncontrolled, completely destroy people's lives.
As we grow older, the obsession (which no-one actually admits, is an obsession) may change. We give it our own form of credibility, perhaps to excuse the amount of time we spend pursuing the interest. It may be golf, sailing, writing, reading ... anyone of a dozen things, but it can become our own personal obsession to pursue our interest. Lack of time can cause frustration and become stressful and even cause major problems within relationships. The husband who wants to spend all his leisure time playing golf, breeds a growing resentment in his wife and family who do not, perhaps share the interest. Returning from the round of golf (or whatever), he wants to talk about the game and his successes. When a new baby comes to a family, mothers may often be obsessed with doing the right thing and detail every tiny incident in her day. Many new fathers can become wearied of the obsession that has overtaken them and long for the wife he married, before she became totally baby-orientated.
There are even many compulsive obsession disorders, sometimes treatable conditions where a person is totally obsessed with cleanliness, tidiness or many other similar situations, which become impossible to live with. Obviously this is more serious and professional help is necessary. The obsessions that totally control lives (various religions??) have to be dealt with carefully!
I sometimes become worried that people spend so much time planning and anticipating various events that they are missing out on life. The coming Christmas festivities for one ... how many people wear themselves out, preparing for the Big Day, only to find the horrible anti-climax of a day spent feeling ill, or somehow cheated of the intense feelings of pleasure and satisfaction they were anticipating. Broken toys, disappointment at the presents received, feeling too full and uncomfortable or plain, boredom and loss are common symptoms!
What then of cryonic suspension? People have asked me why and how it is all planned. Apart from the practical details, the actual mechanics of the suspension, the possibilities of success and my attitude to it, there is little more to say. I don't want to spend my life talking about it and I hope sincerely it isn't the most interesting thing about me. I have sometimes thought that people think so much about their possible return in the future, that they are somehow failing to enjoy the life they have. Perhaps cryonicists are still so rare that when two or more get together, the topic of conversation is inevitable. The what ifs.. but supposes... and all the rest, can best be talked through with a fellow believer, but I don't want to talk exclusively about the subject, even to them! It still seems to me that precious time is being wasted in really getting to know the person, who has to be something more than just a cryonicist. Would I really want to come back if all the people I should meet, would only want to talk about one thing? I intend to make the very most possible of this life, however much is left and hopefully, what I haven't managed to fit in will be my first priority in the next session. If it doesn't work, I shall know nothing about it and anything I didn't finish will just get left!
Obsessions? Who needs them!
Our newest, best ever....
Why does everything always have to be the newest and best? I've been quite satisfied with the old for ages, otherwise I wouldn't have gone on buying it! Whatever the product, the company knows it has to replace it frequently, to keep with competitors or attract a new market. I may sound negative for me, but looking at the barrage of advertising hitting us daily, I think how often the advert puts me off buying goods. After a particularly long, prime-time new advert for some car, we considered whether it would actually influence our decision to buy it. I said I was bored with it after three viewings and certainly wouldn't. John said he liked the music! It must have cost a small fortune to make it and another to screen it and here are two possible(?) customers being totally negative.
The claims put forward by teams of marketing executives are always designed to attract but all markets are extremely difficult to penetrate. UK estate agents have been prevented, by law, from making exaggerated claims for the properties on their books. They can no longer describe a dilapidated broom cupboard as a compact, delightful property in need of some renovation or a must for the D.I.Y. fan. I'm still not convinced! So it's now time for auto-suggestion. If you drink a certain product, you will instantly become one of the beautiful people who have fun, fun, fun. If you use a certain washing powder, the entire world will know what a caring person you are, to look after the family so well. If you cook someone's frozen chicken, life will be an instant, never ending party. Sadly, as we all know, life just isn't like that.
I am not advocating that we should all give up our fantasies. It would be extremely boring if we didn't believe success is possible, in anything we choose. (I exclude the lottery in my case as I always forget to buy tickets!) I would hardly have agreed to sign up for cryonic suspension, if I didn't have hopes (or as some might say, fantasies). It has to be case of being selective about the information you are given and making your own decision rather than believing everything is really newer or better. Whether choosing a new washing machine, a new car or selecting a can of beans, looking through the advertising hype is essential, to make your own decision about the product. Even chatting to friends for advice is flawed. What one person likes, another hates, especially true of entertainment!
Salesmen are actually trained to feed negative points about rival products and some times the negatives can make us even more determined to follow our own noses. An unfortunate experience with a product will make anyone resistant to all positive information and we shall probably never buy it again. Consumer reports themselves would never influence my decision to buy a washer of the same type that once washed my floor, rather than the clothes! Motivation for saying things is obvious ... they want to be more successful than their rivals. They try to say the rivals' claims are impossible and given a large enough audience, may succeed, if only temporarily. It is the final proof of satisfaction that is good enough. Even with something as rare as cryonics, other companies have to say how much better they are and that "rivals" cannot possibly succeed the way they can.
It all boils down to what you want to believe, I suppose. If you expect a particular result, it may be hard to believe that anything else can be true. If you are old enough, you may remember that a telegram during war time meant only one thing ... bad news. If you see an envelope from the Inland Revenue, it must mean a tax demmand. Be optimistic ... the telegram might mean Happy Birthday ... Inland Revenue might be sending you a tax rebate. That letter from a long forgotten friend or relation might not be the bad news you anicipate, just a contact to say hello.
Who Should I Believe?
Standing at the top of our beautiful cliffs, looking at the blue sea, glorious clouds of pink Thrift surrounding our feet, we often think we are seeing a view that could have been unchanged for thousands of years. Turning back to the land, there are signs of all the things we have changed over the past few hundred years and less. Long strides of telegraph and electricity poles; houses with large TV aerials and satellite dishes; cars and lorries grinding up the steep hills, along metalled roads. We return home, still in sight of the wonderful sea view, switch on computers and begin to visit the rest of the world through the Internet, or maybe watch the world's news on TV.
A true product of the latter half of the twentieth century, I love the facilities at my disposal. I love the facility of instant information. Just by pressing a few buttons I can be a part of everything important that is going on. I like being able to chat with friends in New Zealand, sharing the trivialities of everyday life; a quick message to the States to check if another friend's baby has arrived; the quick message to the publisher to check on some minor point for a book. Yes, communication has become so easy and I don't even have to understand the technology that made all this possible!
Inevitably, there is a down-side. In my more cynical moments, I complain bitterly about the enormous piles of information we are expected to digest. I complain that I am receiving too many points of view, which cloud my own ability to judge the true situation. How do we ever truly know what is fact or fiction, or merely a news hound desperate for a story? After several days of everyone's constant repetition of their version of the true facts, I switch off and begin to believe in anything that opposes what is being shouted. (The typical child who always does the reverse to what they are told!) If I hear much more about B.S.E. and the possibility it can pass to humans, killing us all off with a dread disease, I shall go on an exclusive diet of beef and its products. The sun is harmful; eggs still contain salmonella; fish contains mercury (so do some dental fillings); processed foods contain too much sugar ... I could go on! Even the politicians are all doing their utmost to persuade me that I should never again vote for any of them.
Perhaps the one of the most harmful features of today's world is the need for news to be fed to us by television, radio and the press, available on a twenty-four hour basis. The race to be first to bring the news is ever present. The more sensational you can make it, the better. "News is just coming in about ....." usually heralds the week's latest horror. Recently, we have heard of the Dunblane massacre, the Hobart massacre, atrocities in more countries than I can spell. Every reporter has the true facts, latest update or on the spot interviews. Would there be so many atrocities if they all went unreported? A moot point. We all feel we should be given information and facts about everything that is going on. I sense it almost becomes compulsive to switch on every time a news broadcast is due. But how do we know who is giving the true facts? Everything is coloured by the opinion of those reporting the so-called facts. Ask two people to describe a scene they have both witnessed and immediately, one sees a difference in what was witnessed. Read the same story in two newspapers and see the variations. As time passes, the information gains additions and the truth becomes bent just a little, coloured to make the story that bit more interesting.
Who should I believe? Should I give up everything that is potentially harmful or take every new chemical that is discovered to cure, prevent or avoid any disease or condition? What is beneficial today, will probably be poisonous tomorrow. (According to someone!) Or is at someone reported this week, no longer a matter of science but is purely political. I'd impose a personal news blackout, but I'm afraid of missing something!.
Out of the Freezer, Into the Alcohol.
"Human life is mercilessly destroyed".
"Babies are being murdered".
The recent news headlines may seem irrelevant to thoughts of longevity or cryonics but the connection becomes clear when you realise the lives being talked about are those of frozen embryos. The whole topic stirs some reaction in many of us and recent events have given different groups and organisations something of a field day.
The initial debate begins, perhaps, with the rights and wrongs of creating life in test tube. For those who desperately want children and are unable to produce them, it is seen as salvation. The process demands that a number of female eggs are harvested and in vitro fertilisation takes place, producing several fertilised eggs which may be implanted back into the uterus. The surplus may be frozen for possible future use. (The liquid nitrogen connection) It was knowing about this process, which actually played some part in my own willingness to accept the possibilities of cryonic suspension.
The current media interest was kindled by the
five year rule, agreed upon by the participants at the beginning of their treatment, which stated that unclaimed embryos were to be stored for five years only, and then destroyed. The five years was reached in August, 1996 and some two thousand potential human lives were destroyed. There were vigils outside fertility clinics; prayers were said in churches; pro-life groups protested; there were media campaigns; there were debates ... but nothing succeeded. The embryos were allowed to thaw and destroyed by the introduction of a little alcohol. The wickedness of the action was condemned by many. People from all over the country criticised the short time allowed for people to claim their embryos. One case cited was a lady from America, who heard of the imminent destruction of her own embryos and was able to telephone just in the nick of time to prevent their destruction.
Why has their been so much fuss, is my question? At the beginning of the whole process, every couple had to agree to a limited storage period of five years. If five years was insufficient time to decide they wanted another child, a couple merely had to make their wishes known and the storage would continue. If the couple had split up, moved away or anything else, they were obviously not desperate to make another attempt at parenthood. Suggestions that the embryos could be donated for adoption was also rejected. Grieving, would-be adoptive parents made impassioned pleas for a change of heart. But the wicked "powers that be", denied them. If they believed the religious angle, those potential parents should presumably, have accepted that their God did not want them to have children and that attempts to use fertility clinics were going against His will.
My final criticism of the emotional hype, is to look at the actual subject of the controversy. We are talking about four cells, or at most eight cells. They are invisible to the naked eye and even magnified, totally unidentifiable to anyone except experts. How can this possibly be construed as murder? Probably most of those so-called potential lives would have perished anyway, due to the failure rate following implantation. Very many more women miscarry each month, never even realising that a "potential human life has been sacrificed". The rate of abortions in ever increasing in the UK, as people decide they do not want the child. A woman has been offered many thousands of pounds not to have one of a pair of twins aborted ... she felt she could never cope with two babies. Abortion was described by some as an expensive and drastic form of contraception. I might suggest another solution!
I am glad there is research and progress in the use of liquid nitrogen in storage techniques; I am glad some desperate people have been enabled to have children; I am glad some people have donated their frozen eggs for research. I am tired of misplaced emotional campaigns; I am tired of the media trying to find sensationalism where it should never exist. But then, it is August, when the silly season maximises whatever it can get hold of.
What's in a Genre?
by Chrissie Loveday
I was trying to explain some of the differences between different writing styles the other day and realised that I was immediately launching into lecturing mode. Once a teacher, always a teacher, I thought.
I have been writing what is loosely termed Romantic Fiction lately. Not quite the Mills & Boon type of thing but something similar. It is all about relationships that work or don't work. The characters face conflicts at every turn and have to find ways to overcome them. I see it as an extension of much of my work at college ... I can put the words into the mouths of my characters and make them say some of the thoughts I have been trying to impart to my students.
It becomes a powerful weapon. I can have the power of life or death over them all, direct their lives exactly the way I want them to go (the characters, not the students!). Telling stories, anecdotes to illustrate my point, is a much more effective way of passing on an idea than standing talking for several minutes about pure fact.
So what is really the best way to pass on knowledge and ideas? For today's children, computer games are seen as a new hope for learning. At school, pupils are supposed to be entertained all the time. If they find lessons boring, inspectors will suggest it is the teacher's fault for not finding a more interesting way of presenting the facts. I personally still need convincing that there is any exciting way of learning French verbs and all the other long rote exercises.
Back to Romantic Fiction. It is one of the most widely read genres of all. More romance is sold than anything else in the world of books or magazines. If it is so popular, why not use it to pass on ideas? It may not have the literary genius of the great writers of the past, but if it is clear and well expressed, more people will read the message than the most erudite scholar, read by only other scholars. I have tried to read the works of a number of acknowledged literary giants and found it hard work to understand their point. Some recent major literary prize winners seem to be writing in a language form I never studied in my grammar school. Pity, but whatever their message, I was not quite clever enough to understand it. It must mean that many others failed too (if they actually bothered to try reading it in the first place).
Audio books, films, television drama, lectures, documentaries, theatre, newspaper articles ... everyone is competing for our time and space. The most entertaining or interesting are the winners, in whatever we happen to be doing at the time. Fortunately, the human race is diverse in taste and interests. This leaves the whole stage open for someone to fill. If you want the widest possible message to be given, surely one should present it in the most popular form? I am going to stop feeling apologetic for writing what the literati (if there is such a thing!) might call inferior dross. If soaps convey an important message that someone needs to send, don't knock the genre. If romance makes the world buy books, then here's to Valentine's Day, at least once a month.
John is still working on ways for me to include cryonics in one of my un-literary masterpieces. It doesn't quite fit into the image the genre presents at the current time. When I'm rich and famous, maybe!
Vote for me and I'll ...
If there is a corner anywhere in Britain that has escaped election fever, please tell me where it is. So far, I've given up on breakfast television news; my favourite radio station; general news bulletins; daily newspapers and now I have to look the other way to avoid advertising hoardings in the street. Who is this uninformed idiot?
It is only the beginning of the so-called election campaign, as I write this. I'm sick of it. The first week, everyone was yelling slease at one party. At every turn, someone was guilty of sexy goings-on or taking bribes. The other parties, naturally, remain as pure as Soho on a Saturday night. The newspapers have declared their sides and seem to believe they really can influence people's lives. Are they so naïve as to believe that all British people are totally ingenuous? Are we really supposed to believe that a vote cast for one party or another is going to have the least effect on anyone's lives? Basically, the size of the government is such that it can no longer have any effect on individuals. Whoever wins, the processes will grind on as usual. The extravagant promises made to win votes will be forgotten, eventually used only to score points by the future losers. Granted, for politicians it is a matter of job security, if only for the next five years. All parties believe they are right and everyone else is wrong. Wherever my own vote is cast, it will make no difference to the overall result. Perhaps everyone should stay away in droves and thoroughly dent the ego of so many loud mouths, who have tried to take over our normal lives to say how much better they are than anyone else.
I sense there may people remembering all those women who fought for the likes of me to have a vote. Here I am letting them down. Women were not even educated in the past and their views on anything at all had little relevance to life. Literature quotes mainly the privileged few ... those ladies who did have the benefit of education and who could write the romances and acknowledged masterpieces. How much was all of that relevant to the masses? Even if they all could afford daily papers, when could they have read them? (assuming they could read at all.)
The overkill of election propaganda has made me more cynical than usual. The point I suppose I am making, is that information overkill has the opposite effect to the one intended. I was once told that what is left out is the most important thing, when teaching. If we hammer on about the same things, all be it under different titles, people will begin to turn off. I often complain that no-one is truly saying anything new as far as the election goes. It seems the only way to interest people is to publish something which causes controversy. (Back to slease!)
It is the same when we are trying to convince someone that beliefs are the right ones. I have said very little lately about cryonic suspension. It doesn't mean that my intentions have changed in any way. Further discussion will not change the views of someone who is against the idea, until perhaps, something new is discovered. I am no longer excited by yet another programme telling the world about the strange people who think freezing their corpse after death, will work. The slightly jokey, I've never heard anything like it attitude has worn thin on me. There is however, always someone who is hearing about for the first time and so it is worth keeping on saying the same things after a decent interval. The publicity and apparent interest seems to outweigh the numbers of people actually committed to the cause. Perhaps the upsurge in science fiction interest has something to do with it.
Are religious fanatics any different? If they want to believe that everlasting life is waiting on a space ship behind a comet, let them get on with it, though the deliberate taking of lives seems rather drastic. But then, I am a committed preserver of life, especially as we are no more certain of a second chance than we are that cryonics will work.
I am all for a decent debate about most things but I will not develop my views by being force fed. I want unbiased information that is not dictated by self-interest, self-promotion and especially not the childish banterings of politicians and bigots. I want to consider the hard facts and make up my mind. I can no longer believe anyone who shouts their opinions in an attempt to stifle others.
I am now off-line until May 2nd!
Today's The Day
I read in a book recently,
Every day is for living. Life is to be enjoyed and not a burden to be endured.
I do remember times when the burdens seemed to outweigh the living but those days passed. Now I try to make sure that every day I do something just for me. It may taking a swim, walking the dogs, reading or writing or watching TV. Some days, I manage all of them, so I'm a lucky lady. Naturally, there are always some things that have to be done which are more like the burdens I mentioned. (Cleaning cookers, housework, shopping etc) But if we only ever do things that are pleasurable, they could themselves become burdens. It would be like drinking a special bottle of wine every; very soon it ceases to be special.
My earlier quote came from a book about self-esteem. My work with disability and behavioural problems in children, includes a section on self-esteem. Problems can often be the direct result of low self-esteem, when the child believes itself to be poor at school subjects or unable to read. They then attempt to cover their inability by drawing attention away by unacceptable behaviour.
How often do we say to a child, Not now, we'll do it later? It implies that doing our own thing is more important. We want our children to live up to our own expectations for them and may often show disappointment when they fail. Everyone has been told at some stage in their lives, to go and do something useful, not spend all day reading or watching television. Is this perhaps inflicting own values on others? It certainly doesn't do much for the self-confidence frequently, to be told to do something better than the thing we have chosen to occupy our time.
When he was a young man, Samuel Johnson was asked what was his happiest childhood memory. He replied that it had been a whole day spent fishing with his father. In his father's diary, the entry for that day read:-
Took Samuel fishing. Another wasted day.
One of my able-bodied students recently said that she envied my self-confidence. Little does she know how hard I have worked to appear fully in control of myself. We have all joined groups of people who all look in control of themselves, all wear exactly the right clothes for an occasion, while you are wearing everything wrong and know no-one. Going into a room full of strangers requires as much drive from me, as anyone else. It is never an in-built feature that allows some people the confidence and others to stay outside feeling uncomfortable. I make myself do these things because I know I shall regret wasted opportunities if I don't. I have travelled alone on many occasions. There have been many times when my confidence was very low, but a deep breath and standing tall has usually worked. A simple smile in a waiting room can sometimes lead to an interesting five minutes conversation with someone new, instead of a boring wait.
If we really do extend life or 'have another go at it', following revival after suspension, we need to make certain that we use the extra time, in a way that pleases, and not as time to be endured. But then, I don't expect that I shall ever have a problem ... I never have enough time to do all the things I want to do!
A machine that flies? ... Don't be ridiculous.
Cars for anyone to drive themselves? ... Too dangerous.
Machines to do the washing? ... Why on earth do we need those?
All day entertainment on personal television and radio?...That really stretches the imagination.
Computers in most homes? ... Quite out of the question.
Most of us have accepted all of those, even expect them and feel cheated if we are deprived of them. The thought is unacceptable, the reality something quite different. I remember saying I would simply stop driving my car when the price of petrol reached fifty pence (ten shillings as it was then). When it reached a pound per gallon, I cut down on my journeys, but now it's touching almost three pounds a gallon, I have accepted it as necessary to my way of life. As for the rest, I am in a state of near panic if the washer breaks down; get quite nasty if a favourite programme gets lost in the summer sport obsession that grips the TV programmers; feel as if my life support is cut off, should my computer crash.
Is accepting change an age thing? For me, it can't be. I am a granny for heavens sake! Grannies aren't supposed to change with the times, according to urban myth. If it isn't age, it must be an attitude of mind. I like routine, of a sort but that is mainly to enable me to fit in all the things I want to do. But I like a routine than can easily be adapted to cope with unexpected things (or people) turning up, otherwise, you miss out on too many experiences. It is all to do with accepting changes and making the most of the good things. I'm all in favour of recycling materials, generally being green in my attitude to our world's diminishing resources, as far as possible. I want to accept the positive things without condemning the things I dislike as automatically wrong.
Thinking of the future, one is faced with a bleak image, if the sci-fi writers are to be believed. Why are so many films about the future shot in almost total darkness with characters wearing black or camouflage type uniforms? We may be hastening towards a destruction scenario but surely, even a few of today's colourful textiles should survive? There may be much to criticise about today's society, such as violence, lack of honesty and the grab-what-you-can-get-culture. But is it so very different from the good old days? In those good old days the media and communications weren't so in your face as they are today. Listen to old broadcasts, tapes or read old newspapers. Do the folk, who are so convinced that everything was much better then, really have an accurate memory about what it was really like? Or is it more a case of all the summers were sunny when we were young?
What of the coming changes? As far as I can see, we should be healthier in the future, because of the progress in medical research: we should live longer, again through research, a healthier attitude to life and better nutrition. As far as technology goes, there are endless possibilities. The last fifty years have paved a way for us and we can stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, enhance and develop what they taught us. We all realise that such items as computers are probably obsolete before we have finished unwrapping them. I already take for granted that my own machine is hundreds of times better than the technology that landed men on the moon.
What lies round the corner is always exciting. If I ever stop being interested in things, I shall know that it's time to pack up and decide to get old. I'm still convinced that it will be well worth having a shot at cryonic suspension. I'll never get to grips with everything I want to do in this life and this at least gives me a better chance. So, it may not work but scientists are a determined bunch, always wanting to achieve the impossible. Which brings me back to the beginning of this piece.
Aeroplanes: cars: washing machines: television: computers. They were impossible dreams once upon a time.
What Price Freedom of Choice?
Chrissie Loveday <firstname.lastname@example.org>
finds a link between political sex scandals and vitamin prohibition.
We live in a free country. We have the right to freedom of speech. The addition of the Internet to all the rest of the media communication systems, means we can speak out even further. Is it right to be able to say anything we like to anyone who can listen or read? Recent public scandals have rocked the highest of high places. Does the world market really want hear all the gory details? Is it important to know what sexual proclivities enjoyed by the people in power? Certainly, for the opposing sides, it makes wonderful ammunition. One has to accept that powerful people often have a powerful sex drive to go with it. A famous person is always interesting and I am sure that most of us would be at least superficially polite, when meeting someone famous, even if we disagreed with their policies. Something to tell the folks back home! The problem for most of us is perhaps the fact that if he/she lies about these things, are they truthful about the really big and important things? Nor do I like the idea of taxpayers funding trips and expenses for someone's lover. Morals aside, who can afford to pay for someone else's goings on?
The problems I have with all the media reports, are mostly concerned with what exactly is the truth? How do we know which of the versions is correct? I actually believe that everyone thinks they are giving the absolutely truthful accounts of events because that is how they perceived them at the time. Ask two people to describe something they saw and the accounts will probably differ in several ways. Each will firmly believe they know what they saw. The more times they repeat it, the more convinced they will become ... whichever side they are on. The media want their story, however they achieve it. I heard an eminent politician telling a story about tabloid intrusion on his private life. 'Is he having an affair? Has he had any affairs' was being demanded. 'Of course not,' he insisted. 'Who'd want me anyhow?' The following day's headline read, 'Politician Denies Affair'. So what is the inference?
Following the death of Princess Diana, the right to privacy is to be made a law. Fine. I look forward to seeing just how that one is to be policed. If the press is to be censored at every turn, who is going to do it and at whose cost? Yes, we have the right to know the truth about things but who can we believe? As a well-known musician said, when people live among shit, they stop smelling it. The tabloid press may sometimes forget that it is human lives they are dealing with.
Freedom to choose is something many have fought for in all countries. Apart from the media, the Government of many nations are taking draconian measures to stop us from buying certain products. Though I personally detest smoking as a habit, the messages printed on all adverts and packs is that you do it at your own risk. The warning is there but they are still freely available. (I don't like the fact that my earnings have to pay for smokers' health care but that's another subject entirely!) No one forces us to buy beef in the UK but we can buy it if we want to ... unless it is on the bone, offal or one of many other restrictions. They're only trying to look after us, we are told. OK. So let us choose to buy it if we want. We can then make an informed choice. We've been through every type of food scare imaginable. Can we truly believe what they say? Who is telling the truth for the good of the community? Vitamin B6 is currently becoming a victim. A few folks have an adverse reaction so this proves it is harmful. Let's ban it for all. OK. It does some good to a few people but it may be harmful if they take too much. Too much oxygen is harmful. Too much water is harmful. Too much anything is harmful; but no-one could police everything.
We all have to fight to choose what we want to do with our lives (and our deaths, maybe!) At sometime, those in power have to be made to realise that we do not want to live in a nanny state where all our decisions are made for us, in the common good. It would be totally impossible to enforce and could even mean that the private lives of everyone could no longer exist. No more private sexual adventures and certainly no more beef chops. Warn us about the problems by all means, but we must retain our right to choose for ourselves.
I Love the U.S.A!
by Chrissie Loveday
For much of May, I was lucky to be travelling round the world. Today's transport systems make this relatively painless, though my husband wouldn't agree. He sees the ideal way to travel is to send me and a camera. I fulfilled several ambitions on this trip ... to make my first visit to the USA, (not counting a dreadful half day once spent at Los Angeles Airport!) to visit two cryonics facilities and several people connected with them. The rest of my trip was spent visiting friends in New Zealand and re-acquainting myself with Singapore.
As a first introduction to the USA, I would not recommend travelling during the Friday evening's rush to get home for the weekend. Departing passengers use the same gate as arrivals and anyone meeting a passenger is totally submerged in the rush. The parties are kept separate in UK airports. However, I finally met up with Joe Kowalski and John Besancon, who then proceeded to entertain me as if I were visiting royalty!
The next two days were a positive whirl of sightseeing. I still feel guilty that my wonderful hosts must have been totally exhausted! But, if there is only a weekend, you have to pack it all in. John took me round Detroit and my camcorder whirring, I saw the old town in varying degrees of dilapidation with restoration projects similar to those in UK. The 'people carrier', an unmanned monorail, made it informative and painless and provided excellent views. The new heart of Detroit is exactly what one expects of an American city ... sky-scrapers and loads of glass. The highest building is the prestigious Renaissance Centre (The Ren-Cen). It very shiny and new, filled with all the trappings of a city ... shops, hotels, restaurants and the escalator 'view from the top' ... except that mist rolled in the from the river and hid both the top and the view with a London style pea-souper.
Lunch in Canada and back for further exploration of Detroit. I was most interested to see the huge range of housing from the massive lakeside mansions, to apartment boxes. The huge, modern shopping malls were less of a surprise to me as they have been copied all over the UK nowadays. The day ended well into Sunday morning, with a night tour with Joe and Jennifer, his girl-friend. One can put the world rights best of all, after midnight!
My visit to the Cryonic Institute was in the company of Joe, Andy Zawacki and Dave Gray, a visitor from Australia, who is considering membership. Although relatively small, the building has everything necessary and it was interesting to see for myself, rooms that have previously been only TV pictures. Andy showed us round in such a professional way and seemed to answer everything thrown at him. I felt guilty that it took up his Sunday but he merely shrugged and said he's use the time to work afterwards. We are lucky to have someone so generous with time in the facility. I came away with a feeling of confidence in my own future there, though I hope to visit a few more times before my final trip!
After another splendid day of sight seeing (and a great deal of fun and laughter) I left Detroit with a warm impression of people who cared immensely about others. The expansive friendliness of everyone I met ... strangers at first ... makes me want to visit again, before too long.
I enjoyed a magnificent flight across mountains and huge open plains, to Phoenix. Bob and Mae Ettinger met me at the airport, at the start of another few days of tremendous hospitality. I felt honoured to meet people, who have long been admired by John (my husband) since my own introduction to the cryonic movement. We spent much of the time chatting (chewing the fat!) and I shall always remember my early morning dog walks with Bob and the two mutts. We saw the sights, ate wonderful food and I for one, felt totally rested and refreshed. I particularly enjoyed an evening spent with David and Trudy Pizer, at the Hyatt Hotel, in Scottsdale. What a place! My latest book happened to be published at the same time as my visit, so I was able to meet yet more open, friendly Americans at a book signing. I took along some pictures of Cornwall and this provoked great interest, especially to people who lived in the hot, dry conditions of Phoenix. My hand was shaken so many times ... I really did think I was a proper writer at last!
I managed a visit to Alcor my final morning. Again, I was impressed by the caring professionalism of the staff and would especially thank Brian Shock for the time he spent showing me the facility. The visit was actually postponed from earlier in the week, as Bob became involved in a 'death bed' suspension which needed extensive organisation. One of my question at the start of my visit, was whether he felt left out of things, after moving so far away. The next few days proved just how great is his input. He was prepared to work day or night to facilitate matters and gave his expertise to all decisions necessary. The suspension was finally completed shortly after I left.
Anyone who has spent time talking to Bob, must feel so confident in following his ideas and ideals. It is the certainty of his quiet words that make one believe he is right ... cryonic suspension really should work. Yes, there are many problems to be overcome and many people put forward arguments that refute the premise ... but I am convinced. I have been reading some of the arguments (going on while I was with Bob and Mae) in the recent edition of the Immortalist. Research is always essential and talking to people about cryonics is also necessary but not with the fanatical ardour of an evangelist.
Until someone is prepared to acknowledge that death can come at any time, they will probably not want to give thought to what happens next. Whatever one's ultimate beliefs may be, seeing oneself as a corpse is something few people like to think about. For me, the caring professionalism I saw both at Alcor and C.I. makes me fully confident that my own choice to be suspended is a good one ... FOR ME. I am always happy to talk to anyone about my involvement but I'm afraid I cannot crusade. I shall never want anyone to think I am seeking publicity and that this is some bandwagon to climb aboard. Thus, when I have mentioned cryonics to strangers, I have tried to be matter of fact about it. Their reaction is often: OK, it's your choice but it's not for me. Maybe, sometime in the future, they will think more about it. I have been told that I seem pretty normal and sensible, so maybe it wasn't quite so strange after all. This, I believe, is the best way to convert people.
Maybe some of Bob Ettinger's quiet calm and conviction rubbed off on me after all.
It was an excellent trip and one I shall remember with great pleasure. I have enough video to bore my friends for months to come! Again, my thanks to everyone who helped make my stay such a happy one.
You Haven't Changed a Bit!
By Chrissie Loveday , <email@example.com>
I heard this phrase used extensively recently. I'd have loved to believe it, especially when someone used it about me. Yes, I attended a reunion. Forty years on, since college days. I had kept in touch with a mere handful of friends but enough to give me the courage to join the group with the confidence of knowing at least some folk
Picture the scene. There is a hum of female voices (in those days, it was an all female college), punctuated by shrill squeals of recognition. We all suspended our middle-aged personas for the day and were once more eighteen-year olds, peering into faded eyes, in the hope of seeing that long forgotten student we once knew. The changes in hair colour were an obvious problem. None of us had been grey in those days but many now were. There were many other new shades to be seen as well ... why not indeed. But it did make it difficult to recognise the girl who lived in the next door room. As usual, it I found that it was the eyes I could look into and see the girl I once knew.
As the day progressed, the 'do you remembers' flowed. I wonder how many people pretended to remember things when they were described? I'm sure I did. The time when ... facts suitably altered to make it a better story. It was hilarious when ... sounded much more mundane with the added years between. One thing we all agreed on. We were at the start of the women's revolution, at least here in the UK. Those heady days of the sixties when we were finding our feet and realising we could speak out and be heard. It is a sobering thought that many of us had now retired and were at last, doing all the things we had wanted to do for years, with time enough to do it.
I wondered what the young (oh so young!) waitresses were thinking, as they watched us eat and talk. A load of old women, has-beens, past-it. Maybe. Writing romantic fiction gave me something of an edge ... people were curious to know why and how I had taken that route. Surprised ... shocked in some cases. At one point, people at my table mentioned death, cremation etc., can't even think how or why. I found myself cheerfully saying that I hope to be frozen and even mentioned cryonic suspension. Really, was the reply and the subject was dropped. Well, I did mention it very matter-of-factly. Must go with the romantic novelist image!
The whole event did make me think, however. I know only a few cryonicists. Apart from John, I see others only infrequently. If and when we are revived, will I know anyone at all? The hopes we hold for nanotechnology will make things even more difficult. If I can't remember some things accurately for forty years, how will I ever understand anything in this amazing future we hope for? Maybe the whole process will produce entirely new people ... won't it be great? We can all learn a whole new set of things. Just like my reunion, we can meet people who are almost recognisable but there's something different about them. A shared past and shared desire to see the future will give the same sort of common bond as I felt with my fellow students.
'Gosh! you've changed,' may be the most commonly heard phrase on that occasion.
Nostalgia Isn't What it Used to Be!
by Chrissie Loveday
It is almost Christmas again as I write this. Time for nostalgia to run riot. Let's get the family together and re-kindle the happy times we once spent.
'Do you remember when ...?'
'Once, we ...'
'Of course it was all different when the kids were little ... made it all worth while.'
'Nothing is the same any more.'
We've only had a couple of cards showing Victorian scenes of coaches in perfect snow landscapes, or cozy fireside settings. Perhaps most of us hold similar pictures in our minds. So many folk complain about present times as something very much worse than idyllic memories of years gone by. I'm as guilty as anyone.
However when I truly recall family gatherings in the past, things are rather different. I do remember gatherings when my aunt and cousins came to stay. They grumbled because I had more presents than they did ... me an only child and three of them. The youngest deliberately set out to damage one of my dolls and I remember saying I hated her and why did she have to be there? Sadly, she died when only ten years old. Diphtheria. A great memory of the past. My Aunt had a monumental argument with my Mother and my Gran had to be taken to hospital with a nose bleed that went on for hours. Such happy times!
When my own sons were little, of course it all changed. I was in control and called the shots. Our first Christmas in a new house was a disaster from the start. We moved two days before Christmas, together with three small children. The previous owners removed not only all the light bulbs, but the actual light fittings in the main room. We left our light bulbs in our previous house and only had a couple of news ones with us. We had no curtains, having decided to buy them on arrival. This was our first experience of an Aga (solid fuel cooker).
Obviously, Christmas Eve meant a shopping trip, not only for food and a tree but so many vital household items, it was unbelievable. We got the last tree in the shop, a seven foot monster which had to go on the roof of the car to get it home. The casserole I left in the oven was burnt to nothing and the kids were over-excited, starving and wanted nothing more than to decorate the tree. The final straw was a call to say my Mother was in hospital and not expected to last the night. You can't tell kids this sort of thing and I struggled through a nightmare time, even having to fry the turkey on a camping stove when the wretched Aga went out. Happy memories of times past? This is what my husband would call "A really Christmassy story."
It leads me to think about all the other things that elderly folk tell us were always so good.
'If only I hadn't ...' is a favourite. What is it about the human race that makes us hanker for things past? I'm as guilty as anyone, I do realise. Let's face it, the Victorian Christmas must have been a rather grim affair for most people. Few could afford the luxuries shown in pictures on Christmas cards. Few people had a piano, for the happy carol singing groups to stand around. It would have been cold, dark and many folk were hungry, over-worked and thoroughly miserable. The Good Old Days?
Religion aside, I honestly believe there is little point in trying to re-create a myth that never truly existed. I love the trappings of Christmas ... fairy lights, tree, decorations and special food. I am delighted that my electric cooker works well and the dishwasher takes the drag out of clearing up. I'm relieved that the heating works without me doing a thing to it and that my credit card saves me having to count out the pounds at the supermarket. I love being able to use the freezer to store loads of things in case anyone drops in unexpectedly. I know I could produce a good meal with very little notice. I love having my computer to produce cards, print labels etc.
I can remember times past with pleasure and also look forward to having lots of new things to inspire me, however old I get. Maybe my body is taking its own steps towards making me cope with the advancing years with a greater equanimity. Maybe, because I know that I shall be attempting to have a second chance through cryonics, I can face this thought more easily. Surely we need to recognise the past with pleasure and maybe some pain for what is clearly gone but keep a large part open for what is to come? After all, some of today's events are destined become pleasurable memories themselves, some day.
To Freeze or Not to Freeze?
By Chrissie Loveday firstname.lastname@example.org
There have been a few ideas passed to me recently about the dangers of not making the big decision in time. For those committed to being cryonicists, it may seem so short-sighted and foolish not to take the plunge and sign up. Get everything in place in good time and it spares those left at a traumatic time. Anyone who is really in the know, will make that commitment as soon as funds allow. The ones who waver will probably dither till the very last minute, causing endless complications for all. Maybe this is the result of a lifetime of 'It will never happen to me'. Let's face it, how do any of us really know when the very last minute has arrived?
I believe there are many similarities to euthanasia, that oh so controversial topic always in the news. Arguments for and against have their merits. In most countries, it remains a crime and those who do allow it are frequently asking the question, is it really too late for any hope? I'd hate to have to take that particular decision for myself or anyone else. It was most difficult to have to decide on my beloved dog's behalf and he could make no comment himself.
I can feel the committed, all rising to say that cryonics is offering a chance for life, not death. Obviously, I agree as I am one of them. But always, there has to be the right of choice. I would never want to take the attitude that they might be grateful one day. They might not. Imagine taking steps to preserve a life that someone hates. On reanimation, they might feel the same anger as they had in their first life. Any small errors they encountered, would be all my fault for trying to save them. I'm sure that my beliefs lie firmly fixed in the idea that anyone who is truly convinced by this possibility of survival, will make the appropriate provision.
As I have grown older, I know my ideas about the approach of death has changed. My ideas of so many things have changed. I'm never sure how I would react to knowing the expected date or time of my demise. I am fully aware that whenever it is, there will be masses of things I intended to finish, to begin, to think about. I'll just have to catch up on them the second time around. The final limit is perhaps, the end of expectations and the older one gets, the expectations may gradually diminish. Walking one mile a day instead of three; writing 2,000 words instead of 5,000; cleaning the house once a week instead of every day. (The really sensible one!)
Do most of us avoid thinking about our final moments? We may plan what will happen afterwards. We (cryonicists) may think a great deal about the practical organisation of our suspension and having things neatly in place. We may personally, never know the full details of what really happens. But those of us still alive, begin to realise the immense difficulties presented by those who change their minds at the last moment. It is sometimes too late for the smooth running and proper organisation. For those left behind to mourn, it presents added stress to an already unbearable time. I firmly believe that we can only do our best to persuade people to organise things in time. If they do not do this, maybe we can try to help but it seems to me there is little point in expending futile energy, believing we ourselves have failed in some way. Those at the cutting edge will feel especially angry at the waste of another life but we have to be realistic enough to know we can do no more than try.
We need to be responsible, as we all agree. We need to pass on as much correct information as possible. If then, the whole thought is revolting to someone, there is little point in trying to convince the unwilling. One of the UK's worst serial killers, claimed that a childhood belief that his much-loved Grandfather had gone 'to a better place' had motivated him to send lots more people there. He was angry that his grandfather had gone without him. Obviously, a rather sick mind is part of his problem but who is really to blame? Might not the persuasion of a fervent religious zealot play some part? Maybe, some folk see cryonicists as equally ill-guided. Back to choices. My own sons do not embrace the idea of cryonics or even particularly welcome my own participation but we have all agreed to respect our own wishes. They won't object to my suspension and I won't insist they listen to endless campaigning and attempts at persuasion from me. Who knows, they may change their minds one day just as I did.
Yes, we want our near and dear to seize this chance of a second round. We want them to want it for themselves. We can help with advice and information. But, I will never try to persuade anyone to do something to which they don't give whole hearted commitment.
I Think I May Have Become
An Eclipse Chaser...
Click here for illustrated multi-media version
I can't remember how long I have known about the Great Cornish Eclipse. It seems I have always awaited August 11th, 1999. The world press has made it clear by now, that the Cornish weather proved as unpredictable as ever and we were cloud covered at the very moment of totality. Apart from a few glimpses between heavy cloud, we relied on TV coverage for the most exciting part. But there was still the experience of being under the line of totality and that was something I shall never forget.
After a near perfect day on 10th and a perfect dawn on 11th, we dared hope the forecasters were wrong. But the clouds rolled in. There was great excitement when a brief sliver of the sun showed between the clouds.
Special viewers were forgotten. The various experiments were abandoned. We waited. Suddenly, the skies began to darken and we could see evening rushing at us from the West. On top of our cliff, we can see for miles around and as the darkness took hold, flashes from cameras illuminated every hill top and bit of the coastline. We realised just how many hundreds of people there were all around us, yet unseen. It was never quite as dark as we had been expecting but it was a strange kind of darkness, lit from beneath by a pinkish glow.
Flares were set off and the children were very excited by the fireworks. As fast as it came, the darkness rushed away. Dawn charged in, also from the West, leaving us slightly bemused. Was that it? I confess to feeling slightly cheated by the speed of it and missing the views that so many others had witnessed. The next cove along had a view ... we didn't!
We were able to relive out moments through various video cameras we had left running and the excellent TV coverage. On reflection, the darkness here is never quite so intense. Perhaps it is our proximity to the sea. It is never completely dark in the summer, so maybe that was our eclipse experience too. Having all my family to stay made the whole occasion very special and we shared champagne and a good lunch in celebration of something ... life maybe?
It occurred to me afterwards, once everyone had left us, I was feeling a sense of anti-climax and also a sense of bereavement. You know, the feeling you get when something is over ... Christmas, birthdays, holidays. We usually say rather cynically that they are all just days. Any days. The much heralded Millennium day is only another day, if we are honest. Maybe we need excuses to celebrate or have a party. But anything is capable of providing the sense of anti-climax when it is all over.
Is this why so many elderly people become disenchanted with life? I get weary of hearing that people have nothing left to live for. That life is merely to be endured and not enjoyed. Maybe, the anti-climax factor for life, becomes too great to cope with and depression sets in. My personal antidote to the feeling is to busy myself with a new project. There is always something that needs to be done, but I am lucky. I retain my interest in things new and my imagination is ever running riot. (Not that I admit to being elderly, even if I'm getting that way.)
So what's my next eclipse experience to be? I feel I must see the whole thing one day. I talk of travelling to see the next one in Africa in 2001 or going to Australia the following year. We have to wait till 2090 to see another in the UK. I'll keep taking the pills but feel it is more than a little optimistic! It's also too soon to expect to be re-animated, I guess. Think I'd better start writing my next book and hope that pays for a trip to Zimbabwe!
The Public Image
Like it or not, we all have our own version of a public image. Ourselves as other see us ... the photo we didn't expect: unknown film or video footage: audio tape. The usual comment is something like 'Do I really look(sound) like that?' For many women it suggests it's time to begin the latest diet or vow never to wear that colour again!
For the high profile folk, it's every move they make and every sound bite that is there to catch them out. The media adores pictures of a conference delegate caught in the middle of a big yawn or the scowl of some royal, when they think cameras are out of reach. Politicians do their best to present the <united front>, the Party image, whatever is the current vogue. Occasionally, everyone is caught out. At a recent Labour Party Conference, our Deputy Prime Minister (also transport minister) was enthusiastically advocating the use of public transport and cutting out all use of the car. Now how does this tie in with his two Jaguar cars, both of which were used to carry himself and his wife on separate journeys of three hundred yards? No credible public image there! I was irrationally pleased when he had to suffer rail delays, like the rest of us mere mortals, on a recent visit to the West Country. To me, his public image has become something to joke about ... rather like so many of the politicians who believe in the old adage of do what I say not what I do. Let's face it, most intelligent people must realise that central government can never work properly, whatever public image it likes to portray. Listening to the broadcast of the first day back in Parliament, after the summer, I realised that these supposedly intelligent people were our chosen rulers. The puerile, fatuous point scoring they were shouting at each other, was certainly not behaviour I would have tolerated in my classes. And these are the guys who think they have some right to tell us all how to behave.
Maybe the people who protest the loudest that they don't care what people think of them, are often those who want their public image to be well-thought of. Many of them would be horrified if they really knew what people think of them. As a teacher for many years, I'm well-aware of what pupils think. It's the way they look at you that gives so much away! Wearing the wrong clothes, (nothing too trendy) liking the wrong music (especially last month's chart music) can destroy any credibility you may have had in teaching skills. Many folk, especially the young, are attention seekers who want to be noticed. Adolescents may dress outrageously, dye their hair in strange colours, pierce every available bit of the anatomy, tattoo somewhere to provoke adult criticism. Designer labels are essential unless you expect to lose all street cred. That's not even enough ... it has to be this week's designer or you're quite out of it. One head teacher couldn't get anyone to admit to losing some expensive PE kit, because he held up a sport's bag with the wrong designer label!
There are many people who don't like to admit to their feelings about some things ... religion, politics, personal interests, are just a few. Maybe it's merely a matter of confidence or they have no opinions. Perhaps they don't want offend someone or upset someone else's beliefs.
'What will the neighbours think?'
'What will people say?'
It takes confidence and strength of belief to admit to many things. It took me quite a while to have the confidence to talk about cryonics openly. There are still lots of folk who stare in horror at my intentions to be cryopreserved. With close friends and relations, it can be even more difficult, knowing they cannot really come to terms with the prospect ahead. However, the odd comment here and there allows acceptance without flag waving. Do I care about what people think? I suppose I mostly care that no-one, especially those close to me, is hurt by anything I do or say. Doubtless many folk think I'm strange. Those of my friends who still live in London, think I must be missing so many things they (and I at one time) find so necessary. I once blushed telling people I write romantic fiction (amongst other things) but not any more. Maybe I'm getting to the age when peculiarities are considered to be mild eccentricities. Sounds gentler, doesn't it? But then, does it matter at all, what people think? I doubt many of us are sufficiently important to be bothered. But I do admit, I still enjoy the thought of someone 'important' being caught out! I've decided, I am not important in the world and I'm now quite old enough to let my eccentricities show.
Being of Pensionable Age
I've now been a pensioner for almost a week. I've filled in all the forms to get a (very small) state pension: I've received the form to allow me a senior citizen's rail card and I've paid for my last prescription medication. I can even get my eyes tested for free now. One of my friends asked me worriedly, 'How do you feel about it? Really feel, I mean.' My truthful answer? Fine. Just fine. I have no problem with it. It made me stop to think. I remember my own Grandma reaching sixty. It merely confirmed what me the child had always known: she was an old lady. She'd always been an old lady. In fact, when I think about it, I only remember her as old. To a small child, anyone over twenty is probably ancient. But I don't remember her playing silly games with me or going for long walks or swimming or wanting to drive. She always had a nap after lunch and put her feet up whenever she sat down.
So have twenty-first century sixty-year-olds changed? Is it just my imagination that we are much more active and do more things? My writing career only started seriously over the past five years ... a whole new career, in fact. I certainly don't feel ready to hang up my keyboard, now I'm old enough to retire (officially). I'm sure my own sons don't think of me as being old. At my celebration party last weekend, they all conked out long before I did and slept in later in the mornings. There are probably many more sources of inspiration and entertainment nowadays. Perhaps it is the constant stimulation of new ideas that makes me at least feel as lively as ever. Life expectation is much longer now and I am well enough and energetic enough to expect may more things to happen and delights to experience. There's still a whole lot of world I'd like to visit and the thought of flying still makes me squeak with joy inside. Maturity has allowed me not to embarrass fellow passengers by squeaking out loud as I usually did only ten years ago. OK, so I need wheels on my luggage now, but they are there and cheap and most other folks have them too.
If anything, I think life is on the verge of becoming even more interesting now I'm supposed to have more time available. I don't even believe I take very much longer to do the chores ... just longer to get around to doing them, maybe. Perhaps it's a more relaxed attitude that allows to me to procrastinate the less welcome jobs. The dirty sheets will still be there tomorrow if I don't bother to put them in the machine. Besides, I have a new computer game to play. I just have to work out how to get the hot chicken to the parrot before it gets cold. My son's lent me the strategy guide, so I think I can now work it out.
Past it at sixty? No fear. I look forward to the next sixty years and hope to see, enjoy and utilise as many changes as there have been in the past sixty. After that, there's always the hope that cryonics is the answer to the following century. In the meantime, I'll keep taking the pills!