Friday, April 03, 1998 1:28 AM
part 3

Here is an Icelandic joke:
A man was driving in the wilds of Iceland when his car stopped suddenly. He was not much of a mechanic, but in desperation he lifted the bonnet and peered at the engine. He was shaking his head in exasperation when a voice beside him said, "It's your carburettor". Turning, he found himself face to face with a horse. He fled in horror, running over the brow of a nearby hill. Below, he saw a farm and hurtled down to it. He banged on the door and the farmer let him in. He poured out the story to the farmer, who sat impassively. When he had finished, the farmer asked, "What colour is the horse?". The man, stunned by the question, replied, "Brown". "Ah", said the farmer, "take no notice of him. That one knows nothing about cars".

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This is the land where gorgeous women are manufactured and exported to the rest of the world - they are *everywhere* here!

There is a liquid, that is produced while making skýr, that is essentially lactic acid. It has no odour, no colour, and tastes *extremely* sour. It is used for preserving food. The Icelandic word for it is similar to that of milk. It is sold in cartons that look similar to milk. It costs about the same as milk. At the markets, it is placed *beside* the milk... but is isn't milk. I know this because I bought some. Of course, I tasted it, too.

There are two other foreigners in this company - both from Bulgaria. Apparently, the Icelanders have to import their talent, too. :-) My skills are unique in this country, and are being put to good use. The boss is on holidays for two weeks, leaving me with the job of fixing the bugs in the software *on my own*. It wasn't supposed to be that way, but the other programmers disappear when I find a bug and want to discuss it with someone. Of course, when I solve it, the programmers reappear to get a copy of the new program. I've always said that I like a challenge. :-)

There is no way to switch off at the wall electric devices - if you plug in something, it is on.

You can tell that this is a software house - the sink is full of dirty coffee cups, the fridge is full of cola, and the bin is full of pizza boxes.

It's an unusual situation when there is snow outside, but the cutlery on the table, in direct sunlight, is too hot to pick up.

Drink cans are the normal width, but tall enough to hold half a litre of liquid.

I have started Icelandic language classes. My pronunciation is atrocious, owing mainly to my accent. At least I will be able to read signs, and know the difference between mýsa (lactic acid) and mjölk (milk).

The name of my computer on the network is 'Wizard of Oz'. I don't know if everyone here understands the joke.

The sky is blue, yet it snows.

The Icelanders say that they don't have "real" weather - they have "samples". They say this to tourists to encourage them to stay. If it's raining now, just wait and it will clear. Of course, the opposite is true, too: if it's clear now, it will start raining soon. Having sampled snow and -5°C for the last two weeks, it rained overnight, washed away all of the snow, and the temperature raised to 10°C. Of course it didn't last. That night, it snowed again, and the next day it was white everywhere again. In addition, the wind became so strong that I didn't have to walk home - I was blown literally across the snow. I had to hold onto solid things because I couldn't steer!

Icelanders do everything at the last possible moment except, where possible, they can do it even later. It wouldn't be so bad if they acknowledged this, but they don't. Therefore, they will claim that something will be done on a particular day or at a particular time, and it won't. My apartment was supposed to be ready for me on the 1st of March. Then it was the 10th of March. Then it was the 12th of March at 3pm. Then it was the 13th of March at 6pm. It is now the 17th of March, and it's supposed to be available this afternoon... I expect to stay at the guest house again tonight.

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