Thursday, 24 January 2013

Sixth Sense

How well can you predict the future?

I don't mean the end of a story which predictably ends with the hero solving all the problems and living happily ever after. It's the route to the end that is enjoyable, especially with a good writer who provides unexpected twists and turns along the way. A writer like John Grisham is hard to predict, except for the conclusion which will almost always result in a victory for the lawyer in question.

Nor do I mean the end of a tea-time tv quiz show such as The Chase or Pointless. You just know that if there is any danger of money being won then either the questions will need a google type brain to have the answer, or the questions for the chaser will be along the lines of "what is 1 plus 1?". However, if it just happens to be a big occasion such as Christmas, then there is a very good chance that a competitor will win.

I can predict that whenever I hear my wife's car on the drive I will have to multi-task almost immediately. Specifically this will include making a cup of tea; carrying heavy bags of shopping from the car to the kitchen; re-organising the freezer in order to fill it again (twice); and generally making soothing noises about the stress of shopping, often applying balm in the shape of my credit card. 

Garden birds can easily predict my movements. The moment I reach for my camera in order to record a happy feeding scene for Facebook, the birds will disappear. Or, worse, the blue tits will arrive mob-handed and orchestrate a feeding frenzy which lasts until just before I press the shutter on my camera.

In my moments of black humour I sometimes think it would be useful to know my date of death. That would allow planning of travel, spending and saving accordingly. I would also have time to say the things I wanted and needed to say to friends and family, but which don't get said because I am "too busy" with everyday activities. On the other hand the day before DOD might not be that exciting - perhaps..

Inanimate objects can also predict the future. Essential items such as wallet, mobile phone, glasses and car keys all love to play hide and seek and in moments of stress (e.g. by being late) I can guarantee that hide and seek will have started.

By the far the best predictor is my lap-top. I am amazed at the predictive skill  of my lap-top. Recently I was  browsing the internet to find a supplier of small rugby balls, using sites such as Amazon or direct manufacturers. In the end I was overwhelmed by the choice, so bought nothing. However, over the next two days, by sheer coincidence I thought, I was amazed to see endless adverts for rugby balls of every size and shape, and in the end I made a purchase. Then I found that after researching a train journey, the adverts changed to offering low cost trips to London; train and hotel deals; offers on Eurostar and insurance for rail journeys. How did my laptop predict I would be interested in all these?!

This afternoon I intend to make life difficult for the cookie monsters hiding in my laptop. I'm going to google for elephant traps; organic compost; custard; toe nail varnish; minis and global warming - just to see what lap-top thinks I want to buy. 

If it really can predict the future I may have some interesting purchases ahead.

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