Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Last week I made myself immortal. Yep, you read that correctly. I submitted my name to the list that will be aboard the NASA mission to Pluto, the Kuiper Belt and beyond named New Horizons, due for launch in early 2006. My name, along with a select few (hundred thousand), will be put on a disc and placed upon the spacecraft whose primary mission is to observe at close range the planet Pluto, it’s moon Charon and later, objects in the Kuiper belt. It will arrive at Pluto in 2015 and the Kuiper belt in 2020.

But what after that? Where will the craft go? Where in the boundless, unimaginable depths of the universe will my name end up? Well, like it’s famous predecessors, Voyagers 1 and 2 which have already left the Solar System, nothing much should change on the craft unless there is a nasty collision with an asteroid or errant star – but the chances of that happening are relatively small given the great distances between objects in space. Long after I have faded from existence, after mankind has ceased to be and the sun has consumed the inner planets of our little solar system, the chances are the spacecraft, by now long cold and dead, will still be spinning through interstellar space towards infinity – and my name will still be on it. The Earth and everything upon it created by the hand of man will be gone, the only lasting epitaph of humanity will be the little band of untouchable spacecraft sent out into the void by us, silently and eternally hurtling headlong past stars and nebulae. I think that’s as close to eternity as I can get.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What is it with loud people?

Through no fault of my own I work in an office. In fact I have worked in various offices for a number of years and without exception there has been a loud voiced person in every one of them. Usually these obnoxious individuals sit well away from me where the volume is almost tolerable, but sometimes, like now, I have the bad fortune to be located within earshot of a personage who rabbits on like a trashy talk show on a TV with a broken volume control. Why do I have to listen to every detail of their working day as it is broadcast across the office? They seem oblivious to the fact that everyone on the whole floor can hear them. Perhaps though they are aware that this is case, but just have no care that they are embarrassing themselves. I take offence at listening to the minutiae of their daily duties, every phone call, every discussion with work mates, every time they loudly announce their intention to go to the toilet or take their lunch break – I just don’t need to know! If it was always confined to work related shouting it would be almost ok, but there is a hardcore of this type of ‘less than subtle’ person who simply cannot refrain from regaling the happenings in their personal lives as well. At best this drivel is banal, at worst it is offensive.

Considering the above observations (and, of course, in my entirely subjective opinion) there are two types of loud people:

Type A: The sad ‘haven’t got a clue’ type, people who just don’t quite get it – they laugh at jokes they don’t quite understand and tell you just a bit too much detail about their unusually dull personal lives, even when you are quite obviously uninterested, and sometimes even when you are sitting on the other side of the office. They have loud conversations on mobile phones on the train whilst commuting, ensuring the whole carriage understands exactly what he or she will be doing over the coming days/weeks, with whom and when; sometimes, unbelievably, including details such as addresses and phone numbers. Now I understand that details such as these are occasionally required to be communicated over the phone – but not for the surrounding fifty or so fellow travellers to easily hear surely?

Type B: These are the self-obsessed egocentrics with a passion for their own voices and no concept of other people’s perception of them. Then again, perhaps they are well aware of their habit of forcing their personalities onto innocent bystanders, but just have no care for the aural rights of others. This is by far the worst type. Their boorish conversation inevitably revolves around themselves and their self perceived (and utterly non existent) brilliance. They think everyone within a ten-metre radius desperately wants to hear their witty repartee, and dry, superior put downs, which, in reality, are as puerile and unsophisticated as those heard in the schoolyard. Their arrogance is at stratospheric levels, matched only by their inflated self-opinion.

It is this type I now have the bad luck to be sitting near in my office. I’m surprised you can’t hear him from where you are…