The fallacy of “pet years”

I was browsing through the BBC website earlier today, and came across a story entitled “Will I live longer than my cat?”. The article as a whole (which was all about longevity) was OK, but the bit that really annoyed me was when the writer mentioned that his cat was aged 20, or 140 in cat years. The concept of “pet years” has always been one of my pet hates (no pun intended).

When will people realise that a year is the time that it takes for the Earth to revolve once round the sun i.e. 365 ¼ days, give or take, and that it’s the same whether you’re a human, a cat, a dog, a ring-necked parakeet or any other sort of animal. Loving your pets is admirable, but is it really necessary to create a whole new concept just because some people can’t handle the fact that domestic pets don’t live as long as humans? Besides, it’s not too unusual for dogs and cats to reach the age of 20, so whoever decided on the arbitrary figure of 7 “pet years” equalling one real year had obviously given it no thought anyway.

Anyone, I’ve thought about this enough, so I’ll give myself a couple of minutes’ break. Unless I was a cat, of course, in which case it would be a week and a half.

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An article (please like/follow/connect with etc)

I have 58 friends on Facebook, 87 followers on Twitter and 20 people have me in their circles on Google+. So what, I hear you ask. That’s exactly my point; does it really matter that much?

Visit any of the social networks these days (especially Twitter) and you’ll find hundreds of messages from people practically begging for more contacts. “We’re now on Facebook – please follow us”, “Only 2 more for our 1,000th follower: please RT” and so on.

Whilst I can understand this behaviour for businesses (in terms of marketing), it does seem to be excessively needy for ordinary people. Are people so fragile these days that they have to measure their self-worth in terms of the number of people they’re connected to (most of whom they don’t know in real life) on social networking sites? Most bizarre of all I find are those on Twitter who will follow you, and will then unfollow you if you don’t follow them back within 24 hours! Insecure doesn’t begin to describe it.

For myself, I will carry on being friends with, following and connecting with either those that I know in real life or those that I have a specific reason (over an above numbers) for connecting with.

Please comment on this post, but only if you want to.

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Nil nil

Quite a disappointing week. On Sunday we held the monthly Laughter Yoga session at the Moat House, only for nobody to turn up. This morning I held the weekly Weston Sprink walk, and nobody turned up there either. I could get a bit down about this, but I won’t bother, as chances are nobody would be around to listen to me!

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Happy Hallowe’en?

Hallowe’en. Oh joy oh rapture.

What I dislike most about Hallowe’en is the whole idea of “trick or treat”ing. If people want to go around dressed as ghosts and skeletons then fair enough, that’s their choice. Actually, in this day and age they wouldn’t really stand out as being particularly oddly dressed. What I do object to, though, is children banging on the door demanding sweets or small change or whatever, threatening to play a trick on you if you refuse.

You see this sort of thing at other times of the year, only then they call it demanding money with menaces, or blackmail. According to section 21(1) of the Theft Act 1968:

“A person is guilty of blackmail if, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another, he makes any unwarranted demand with menaces; and for this purpose a demand with menaces is unwarranted.”

All sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it? You can get 14 years for it in the real world.

Given that levels of crime are rising all the time, and youth crime is of particular concern, it really makes you wonder if this is the right example to be setting the youth of today.

Still, at least you can opt out of it if you want. Keeping buckets of water by the door to throw over people is generally considered unacceptable these days, but you can at least get “No trick or treat” door stickers (although why they have to say “Sorry, no trick or treat” I don’t know; I for one aren’t sorry in the least).

Happy Hallowe’en to you all. Was that a knock on the door?

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It’s always nice to get recognition

It was a lovely surprise to receive the Walking for Health Exceptional Service award a couple of weeks ago. I’ve done the Weston Sprink walk for over 18 months now, and have seen it grow from a small fortnightly walk where we were lucky to get one walker to a weekly walk with a loyal core of followers and numbers that we could only have dreamed about when we first started.

Many thanks to all of the walkers at Weston Sprink for sticking with the walk, and thank you to the Closer to Home: Circular Walks team for their support.

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Ho ho ho, ha ha ha!

I’ve just spent a very interesting and useful weekend in Hereford, training to become a Laughter Yoga leader. Laughter Yoga is based on the theory that laughter is good for you (in that it stimulates the production of useful endorphins and blocks the production of stress-inducing cortisol) and that the body can’t distinguish between natural laughter and fake laughter, so just laughing can give you all the benefits. Also, fake laughter can make you start laughing naturally anyway!

The Staffordshire Laughter Yoga Network have a blog at It’s worth going along to see what’s happening, and it may just bring a smile to your face!

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Valentine’s Day (cynicism alert)

Valentine’s Day. Probably my least favourite day of the entire year. Whoever came up with the idea of converting a saint’s day into a celebration of love and romance (I think it was something to do with a Roman festival that happened around this time of year) wants roasting over an open fire, while Cupid should have his bow and arrow taken off him, and given a snooker cue or something else less dangerous to play with.

I’ve got three main gripes about this benighted day, which are these:

  • Most of it is more to do with consumerism than love & romance anyway. Chocolate manufacturers, jewellers, florists, greetings cards companies etc. all suffer a drop in profits after Christmas, and this is the perfect, artificial way to bump their profits back up. I once had an appointment in an office that had a wall calendar from a greetings card company. It highlighted Valentine’s Day like you wouldn’t believe.
  • It imposes an obligation on all couples to act lovingly and romantically to each other all day. Maybe that’s fine if the couple would be loving and romantic anyway, but it’s rather hypocritical if they were fighting like cat and dog on February 13th and will be again on February 15th.
  • Speaking as a single person, there’s something rather sickening about celebrating a day where the rest of society rams your being single down your throat. In a society where everything is geared towards couples, singles are treated pretty much as social outcasts anyway. We don’t need a day where this is further highlighted for all to see.

You might very well say that all this is sour grapes, given that it’s been written by a single. I accept that there is probably some truth in that, but in turn you can’t argue that there isn’t some truth in what I’ve written.

Ah well. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, if you must, and to the rest: I understand how you feel.

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