When I couldn’t get a piece of software to function as advertised, a friend at
work who teaches Science suggested to me that some people have the ability to
muck up electronic devices, possibly through magnetic wotsit. Certainly this
was my experience on the trip. Everyone else on planes settled into watching
movies; I pressed every button and screen, with no result. The plane people
would tut tut, rotate their heads like chickens checking a thing with one eye
and then t'other, “re-boot” and then conclude that my device simply wasn’t
working. The a.v. also gebusted itself when I stood to give my talk, though
this was probably linguistic discrimination, Microsoft shunning Apple like one
of Daniel Boone’s co-relgionists expressing anger that his daughter choose to
marry someone of whom they disapproved.
Fortunately I’m better with words than I am with machines, so the talk went
over just fine with me describing what the audience could have seen if there
had been an image on the screen. People were entertained by this approach.
About fifteen minutes in someone raised his hand and said he thought he’d
missed something…could I go back a couple of slides?
On today’s journey I read the Times both of London and New York. The former
had a line attributed to Churchill. On being told that one of his junior
ministers had been arrested in St. James’ Park for indecent behavior Churchill
is supposed to have said, “On the coldest night of the year? Sometimes I am
proud to be British.”
The museum of Upper Silesia is probably not high on your bucket list, but
should you find yourself in Katowice I recommend going. You will see not only
the objects on display but some original thinking about how a museum can work.
The museum is very much a highlight of a coal-mining city that is trying to
reinvent itself. That’s where the conference was.
Back in Krakow, we were priviledged to be given a tour of a museum in the
university where they have a fine collection of scientific instruments.
Unfortunately most of what you see in the public area is reconstruction, “These
are the kind of objects that go with this sort of room.” This is because the
Nazis invited all faculty to a meeting in 1939, arrested them, and then looted
the building. The faculty and the objects disappeared.
Home about an hour, I’ve just been out to look for eggs and check on the
chickens. They “pop, popped” as they walked up, a normal chicken greeting.
Mimo, “Where have you been?”
Appenzeller, “Is that beyond the fence?”
“And beyond the Pale, or maybe on the edge of it--boundaries changed. Before
the war Krakow was one third Jewish you know. Oh and we saw a silver rooster
in a museum there. Gift of some kind of guild.”
“Was the rooster Jewish?”
“Did it belong to the guild?”
“Why was it silver?”
“Copernicus,” was the answer that surprised us all. “He studied there for a
while.” There’s a moral here somewhere, something like, “Never talk to
chickens before your brain has hatched.”
They saw that our conversation had run aground and so wandered off to find some
shade. I re-booted their water supply and wondered again how many things that
Churchill is supposed to have said were actually said by him. They didn’t. Or
at least I doubt they did.
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