Six degrees

I've been fascinated by the six-degrees-of-separation theory since I first learned of it years ago, so in 2003 I was one of over 24,000 volunteers taking part in a Columbia University study on the topic. The idea was to try and reach an unknown party by sending an email message to a person you knew who had the best chance of knowing or connecting with the target. An article in today's Washington Post reports on that study and on the most recent one, a survey of about 30 billion instant messages using Microsoft's IM program. The conclusion? That the average separation is about 6.6 degrees, meaning that a chain of fewer than seven people separates us all.

We're not especially enamored of celebrities, but we figured one time that we were within two degrees of Queen Elizabeth and three degrees of Jack and Jackie Kennedy. Yesterday I learned I'm one degree from Oliver Stone and Michael Eisner, which makes most of Hollywood within my seven-degree span. Through my friend Sue we're just a couple of degrees from numerous opera stars, including Pavorotti, and when you think of all the people we've met traveling over the years who knows who "we know." And then there's you, of course, and your family and your friends and their friends and their friends.

Don't let anyone tell you we're not all connected. Personally, I like that idea.


On the local front we were visited by a couple of friendly turkey vultures the other day, and a family of quail marched through as well. The vultures stayed two days before departing, much to the relief of the local crows.