Courtesy of xkcd.com

Advertisements

Don’t standup until the bus stops

One of my earliest memories is being taken to museums and exhibitions around Stockholm by my grandmother. These trips would invariably involve a bus journey, something I found incredibly exciting. My favourite thing, of course, was being allowed to press the button.

After pressing the button, I was told to remain seated until the bus had come to a complete stop – a safety precaution that nearly everyone in Sweden takes. My grandmother was particularly firm on this point. You remain seated until the bus stops, then you get up to exit.

Not so in Britain.

The moment the stop is announced everyone gets up, starts walking down the aisle and down the stairs. And of course, nearly fall over once the bus actually stops.

This is one of the golden rules of British society, comparable with ‘you must not look at anyone on the underground’ and ‘if someone bumps into you, or even gets near you, you must say sorry’.

This particular rule – ‘you must get up when the stop is announced’ – applies to all forms of transport, including buses, trains and aeroplanes. It’s particularly obvious on trains, where the last stop is normally announced about 10 minutes before the train actually stops.

Over the years I have become reasonably good at adhering to most rules of British society. This one, however, I just can’t do. My grandmother’s teaching is simply too ingrained in me.

So, every morning, without fail, the following scenario is played out:

I am sitting comfortably reading my newspaper in the outer seat. As we pull away from the stop before mine, I can sense the person sitting next to me starting to twitch uncomfortably. It is clear that he/she is also getting off at my stop.

As we are nearing the stop the twitching gets worse. The person is thinking ‘Is he getting off here? Will I have to say something?’. I can sense fear (it may be important to point out another golden British rule here: ‘you should not talk to someone you don’t know, especially not on public transport’) as the person realises that they might actually have to say ‘excuse me’.

The stop is announced and the person stands up, making it clear that they want to get off. I slowly fold up my newspaper, in the hope that the bus will stop before I have to get up, but I’m not slow enough and so I am forced to stand up and start walking down the aisle.

As the bus comes to an abrupt halt I am forced to hold on for dear life to not be thrown forward.

And my whole body screams: ‘you are doing something naughty!’

I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my head:

‘Wait until the bus has stopped before getting up’.

And I think:

‘I’m sorry, it’s not my fault, I’m just in a foreign country’.

The longest word in the world

According to Wikipedia, the official ‘longest  English word’ is Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, a type of lung disease, 43 letters.

This got me thinking.

In Swedish, the general rule is that you combine words when making a bigger concept, something which often has hilarious consequences (I’ve written about this elsewhere), when it’s misused.

So, theoretically, it should be possible to create words of infinitive length.

Lets try it:

Sjuk
Sick

Sjukhus
Hospital

Sjukhusväntrum
Hospital waiting room

Sjukhusväntrumsentre
Hospital waiting room entrance

Sjukhusväntrumsentredörr
Hospital waiting room entrance door

Sjukhusväntrumsentredörrhantag
Hospital waiting room entrance doorhandle

Sjukhusväntrumsentredörrhantagsskruv
Hospital waiting room entrance doorhandle screw

Sjukhusväntrumsentredörrhantagsskruvshuvud
Hospital waiting room entrance doorhandle screw head

Sjukhusväntrumsentredörrhantagsskruvshuvudsfärg
Hospital waiting room entrance doorhandle screw head colour

46 letters. Easy.

Apparently the longest word in Swedish is

Nordöstersjökustartilleriflyg-spaningssimulatoranläggningsmaterielunderhållsuppföljnings-systemdiskussionsinläggsförberedelsearbeten

Which actually makes total sense:

North Baltic coast artillery flight simulator base material maintenance follow up discussion point preparation work

130 letters. Now that’s a proper word.

Of course, the longest word in the world, is the chemical name for “Coat Protein, Tobacco Mosaic Virus, Dahlemense Strain”:

acetylseryltyrosylserylisoleucylthreonphenylalanylvalylpheny-
lalanylleucylseraspartylprolylisoleucylglutamylleucyllthreonyl-
serylserylleucylglycylasparagiglutaminylthreonylglutaminylglu-
taminylglutaminylvalylglutaminylglutaminylphetryptophyllysy-
lprolylphenylalanylprolyarginylphenylalanylprolylglycylaspart-
yarginyltyrosylasparaginylalanylvalyllethreonylalanylleucylleu-
cylglycylthreonarginylasparaginylarginylisoleucylisolasparagin-
ylglutaminylglutaminylserylprthreonylleucylaspartylalanylthre-
onylaralanylthreonylvalylalanylisoleucylargiasparaginylleucylv-
alylasparaginylglutathreonylglycylleucyltyrosylasparaginylphe-
nylalanylglutamylserylmethionylserythreonylserylalanylprolyla-
lanylserine

1185 letters.

Stockholm

I’ve been in Sweden for a few days. Spent most of it sitting around – eating, drinking wine and seeing old friends. Mostly Jocke, which has been great. As he says on his blog today, despite the fact that I’ve not lived in Sweden for nearly 10 years we are still on the same level and get along really well.

There is something about Stockholm that I can’t quite place. Despite the fog, frost and grey clouds (or perhaps because of it) the city gives me a special sense of inner calm. It just feels right.

Take walking up Götgatsbacken at dusk, for example.. Like Jocke says, ‘I could walk here all day’.

I’ve had some really interesting chats about social media and I’ve realised that I need more of these. The problem is that none of the people I know in London are particularly interested in it -even though I work with web stuff on a daily basis, I don’t get to share ideas with likeminded people that often.

I think it’s time to start going to the Social Media Cafe.

I’m also going to set up the broadband connection at home tomorrow (after the Ikea trip), which means that I can start blogging more regularly.

Maybe I’ll even move this blog to a proper site. Google Analytics, here I come!