Sunday, August 31, 2008

Is it safe?

Walter checks into a hotel in Altfeld.
Walter: Can I leave the car outside?

Receptionist: Outside?

Walter: I mean on the street. Not in the parking lot.

Receptionist: Wherever you like.

Walter: Is it safe on the street? It won't get broken into?

Receptionist: Ha. It is safe. Last time we had a crime in this town was, when, oh, thirty years ago?

Walter: Sorry. I was forgetting. Das ist Deutschland? I could live in a country as regular as this.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Geeks and leaders

Ted tells John a leadership opportunity has opened up.


Ted: Joe wants to give up the chair.

John: After he politicked so hard to get it? What for?

Ted: Says he wants to spend more time with his family.

John: Never heard that from him before. Think he has a health problem?

Ted: Some people never let on, try to cover it up. He asked me but I don’t want it.

John: Lot of work. But you can delegate.

Ted: Sometimes takes as much time to check what has been done when you do delegate.

John: Maybe that was Joe’s problem. He didn’t like to delegate. Admin is pretty trying for creative people.

Ted: So who in the organization could run it?

John: That’s a hard one. Most of the members are geeks. Many geeks don’t do people great nor admin well. Cept Gilbert. Knows geek stuff but relates to people and can run a project, like a congress.


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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fish massage

Helen and Hans, on holiday, are discovering new experiences during the Olympic Games.
Helen: Those Chinese. They’ve got this thing, fish massage.

Hans: Fish massage? You mean foot massage?

Helen: No, fish. They bring a bowl of water, and there they are, fish swimming around.

Hans: Big?

Helen: Some big, some small. They nibble your feet. It’s great. There was this kid next to me, 9 or 10 I’d say, and he was clearly enjoying it and I was joking him and saying “Still got all your toes? Better count ‘em.” And he pulls out his foot and goes, “Ja, 1-2-3-4-5-6.”

Hans: Six?

Helen: I didn’t realize. I was mortified. Tried to become invisible, but he didn’t seem to mind.


Thursday, August 21, 2008


Jena tells Bill she got bad luck from an email. Bill has rational explanations.


Jena: I got an email, a chain email, that said if you don’t pass this on in 6 minutes something unpleasant will happen.

Bill: What rubbish.

Jena: Rubbish, yes. Especially when it seemed to come from some inspirational charlatan speaker, you know the kind.

Bill: Don’t send any of those chain mails to me. Unless they’re in a good cause. Trash ‘em.

Jena: I did. Then tonight something unpleasant did happen. I was eating some nuts and leaned over the balcony, and cracked a tooth and lost it.

Bill: It fell down 22 floors?

Jena: I guess. Only I couldn’t find it on the ground. Maybe the wind took it. I almost started believing that chain mail.

Bill: Coincidence. You didn’t eat nuts because you read the letter. The nuts broke your tooth, not the letter. And everyone has something annoying happen everyday.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lost ticket

Jeffrey is learning German.
Jeffrey: Ich habe mine Fakarte verloren.

Lorna: What?

Jeffrey: I’ve lost my ticket. Just practicing. I’m sure that’s the first sentence I’ll need on the train in Germany next week.

Lorna: A needs-driven analysis of language learning?

Jeffrey: Good book this. User friendly. Decent art work. Speech balloons. Subtitles. Transliterations. Not a bad book for learning a language.

Lorna: Multimedia?

Jeffrey: And it’s old. Published 1982.

Lorna: Pre-internet? Ahead of its time.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Parallel conversations

Greta and Janina are planning separate drop offs at lunch.
Greta: I can hear now.

Janina: Lost you for a moment. OK.

Greta: The cafeteria, near the Turkish stall.

Janina: The kebab place. Same as before.

Greta: Noon.

Janina: 12.


Friday, August 15, 2008

No core

Maro, who travelled to Cambridge, describes his impressions of the place.


Junpei: Nothing? Nothing?

Maro: I suppose you could say it has no core.

Junpei: It’s hollow? It has no spirit? There’s nothing there?

Maro: There’s a lot to see. The town is full of buildings. Professors teaching, students listening, sometimes sleeping. But there is no such building you can point to and say, “That is the university.”

Junpei: How can this be so? You have described a university.

Maro: But this one consists of many colleges. The sum of those colleges makes up what we think of as the university.

Junpei: There is no whole?

Maro: Some might say this intangible whole is greater than the sum of its visible parts.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chess and drafts

Peregrine has some thoughts on Putin:


Peregrine: He has invaded Georgia, yes, but he’s a calculating man, he won’t get bogged down.

Quentin: He won’t be caught?

Peregrine: He’s a chess player, he thinks three moves ahead. You have to predict what this move will bring him three moves ahead.

Quentin: And George? Does George play chess too?

Peregrine: George plays drafts.


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Monday, August 11, 2008

Is it clean?

Yulia tells Estrella how to get to Puglia.


Yulia: There are two trains. There is the express. It takes an hour. It is expensive.

Estrella: Expensivo. I understand.

Yulia: Then there is another train. It too takes an hour. But it is half the cost.

Estrella: Cheapo I like. But it is dangerous? No?

Yulia: No. It is half the cost, it is speedy too. There are few accidents.

Estrella: I mean, the people on it. They are dangerous?

Yulia: No, they may be more economical, but they are not dangerous.

Estrella: Then is it clean?

Yulia: It is clean.


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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tchaikovsky violin concerto

Natalie talks to herself in the Tchaikovsky.


Why did he do that here?… Faster… Faster

Jason, slow the piano down.

One thing after another…

Here we go…Whoooo… Up… Down...

Whoa, we’re coming to the long sustained C… Hold it… Hold it…

Now, we’re off again, Jason, pick it up, pick it up….


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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Zimbabwe hyperinflation

The bus pulls up.

Sarudzai: How much to Kamunhu?

Driver: Two and a half million.

Sarudzai: It was 1.8 million last night, two million this morning, now two and half million tonight. I can walk.

Driver: Got 20 cents?

Sarudzai: I got no dollars. I got a spare banana.

Driver: That'll do. Put it in my grocery bag. Here.


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Monday, August 4, 2008

Slamming doors

Daph is frustrated by her son’s behavior.
Daph: Sons. Who’d have ‘em?
Megan: Oh, I had problems with my daughter too.
Daph: Don’t believe it. She has a good job, polite, well-mannered.
Megan: That came later.
Daph: Than?
Megan: She was a tempestuous teenager. Arguing all the time. Used to stalk off and slam the door, until…
Daph: Until?
Megan: John unscrewed the door off its hinges and left the doorway open.
Daph: No! You can’t do that! Intolerable cruelty. Teenagers need their private space.
Megan: Who says you can't? The ultimate threat. From that time on, no problems!


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Classifying a knife

Nigel is sometimes fanatical about classifying but Nina has her own taxonomy.


Nigel: It’s a knife.

Nina: Yes?

Nigel: So it goes in the knife drawer, here, see? Why did you put it in the spoon drawer?

Nina: It’s small. It’s the same length as the small spoons.

Nigel: It’s not a spoon. It’s a knife.

Nina: Why niggle about a knife? Let’s ask the guests. Where would they put it?


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