If you pull the full documented source for the rather excellent twitter 
widgets (http://twitter.com/widgets), you'll find exactly the routine to do 
this.

    /**
      * relative time calculator
      * @param {string} twitter date string returned from Twitter API
      * @return {string} relative time like "2 minutes ago"
      */
    var timeAgo = function(dateString) {
      ....

The file has a large comment at the top 

 * For full documented source see 
http://twitter.com/javascripts/widgets/widget.js
 * Hosting and modifications of the original source IS allowed.

It also contains gems such as the "Twitalinkahashifyer" - handy routines for 
linking "@user" and the like

--
Tim

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