Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Insincerity and deceit

When we were about 5-10 years old, my late grandmother repeatedly told my sister and me that she loved us more than our cousins.  To avoid hurt feelings, however, she swore us to secrecy.

Apparently, she told the same thing to my two uncles' children.  Unfortunately, one of my cousins was not able to keep the secret and gleefully told my sister and me of our grandmother's pronounced favoritism.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An exchange ahead of its time

One might say that I and a friend of mine anticipated text messaging by many years.

Back in 1991 when I started the Ph.D. program, I got access to e-mail for the first time.  A friend of mine at another institution and I often exchanged messages.  My friend, being burdened by having both a wife and two children, was often too busy to send much of a message, but to show that he had not forgotten me, he would send brief messages.

One day, he sent me a message asking, "How are you doing?"

I then sent him an e-mail with the subject header "How I am doing."  The body of the message was "OK."

"Good!" my friend replied back.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

A misdeed

During the first years I spent in the doctoral program, I lived in University housing.  One day, in the dark of night when nobody was watching, I put a "No Hunting or Fishing" sign on the gate into the apartment complex.  I doubt that many wild animals made their way into the complex.  Although there was a pool, it was left empty while I lived there, so opportunities for fishing would likely also have been rather minimal.  Still, one had better be safe!

The night day, I was rather frustrated when it looked like a custodian was about to remove the sign.  Much to my relief, however, it turned out that he was only straightening up the sign and making sure that it was securely attached.

Friday, April 06, 2012

A stupd Christmas carol

As Easter approaches, I am reminded of a rather stupid Danish Christmas carol.  The main words of the song go roughly as follows:

     Now it's Christmas again
     Now it's Christmas again
     And Christmas lasts all the way until Easter
     No, that is not true!
     No, that is not true!
     Since in between comes the fast

Why would anyone write such garbage?  Why are people stupid enough to keep singing something so stupid?  Things may have changed over the last thirty years, but back when I grew up in Denmark, it seemed to be one of the more popular songs.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Ice cream

My first elementary school was in Elsinore, the setting of Hamlet.  Elsinore had been the capital of Denmark at an earlier period in time due to the city's strategic location.  It was only a few miles across the ocean to Sweden--a distance much shorter than what you would have to sail if you started in Copenhagen--so this was a great place for a  Naval stronghold where fees could be exported from those who wanted to pass through.  (The Danish Vikings were rather aggressive.  During parts of the 11th Century, they had the audacity to invade and occupy Britain,  a country with some ten times the population of Denmark.  The British had to pay a steady tribute to avoid further incursions.)

In Elsinore, there was an ice cream parlor that we would sometimes visit after school.  One another occasion, my late grandmother brought my sister and me there for an ice cream cone.  She reflected on an ice cream parlor that she had patronized in her youth and commented on how much more expensive the ice cream had become.  I no longer remember the exact figure, but she probably said that an ice cream cone cost something in the neighborhood of 5-10 cents when she was growing up.

My grandmother then told us that the ice cream she bought in a similar ice cream parlor during her childhood  "tasted like cardboard."

I was curious why she had bought the ice cream given the seemingly unappealing taste.

"Oh, I wasn't all that finicky," my grandmother replied in a very defiant and self-righteous voice.