Memories of Better Days Gone By

Facebook just reminded me that two years ago - before the pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe and killed 4.5 million people, before the domestic rioting and burning of our cities, before the collective meltdown of all mainstream news outlets into the primary sources of worthless and biased drivel, before the woke apologists began their Orwellian campaign of rewriting history and manipulating the English language in order to foster division between the classes, and before the second humiliating defeat of our armed forces at the hands of career politicians who have no idea how to fight/win a war - I was standing on a mountain in the Alps, looking across the glaciers and valleys at the Matterhorn. There are some days when I need to be reminded that there is beauty in this world that is worth seeing, and activities that bring you joy that are worth doing.

matterhorn-memory

My German Skills are a Little Rusty

I attended a reunion this past August in Fulda, Germany, with some of the folks from the 511th MI Company. As we were leaving a restaurant after dinner one night, we bumped into a traveling Bachelor Party that was making its way through streets of the city. They were already a few sheets to the wind, which undoubtedly explains why they appeared to think that I was a hilarious attraction. (I have that effect on drunk people, so it seems.)

Anyway, they were sounding off with a series of German idioms, and after each one they would laugh uproariously and ask me to join in. This didn't seem possible to me, as I hadn't lived in Deutschland for 30 years, and even then I had been a Russian linguist.

However, as luck would have it - somewhere in the back of my aging mind was the sole German idiom that I had managed to retain for all these years, which I recited to the assembled crowd:

"Freier macht die augen auf, heiraten ist kein pferdekauf!"

This had the desired effect - they laughed even harder than before, shook my hand, offered me a beer, slapped me on the back, etc. After offering me some pomme frites, (which were stored in the groom's hat - ugh), they bid me "Auf Wiedersehen," and they wandered off to continue their evening's festivities.

Unfortunately, that idiom loses a little in translation, (especially when using Google or Bing translate), but trust me - it's pretty funny for a soon-to-be-groom to hear. What it says, in essence, is: "Open your eyes, free man - getting married is not like buying a horse."

Nevertheless, it's nice to know that occasionally your long lost language skills can still come in handy.

Open-mouthed smile

English isn't English

A colleague recently reminded me of George Bernard Shaw's famous quote that "England and America are two countries separated by a common language." I have lived through many situations where I have experienced that sentiment firsthand. And with that in mind, I'd like to share a story about a conversation that I had when I was working with the British RAF:

RAF: "You troffing today?"

ME: O_o

RAF: "Yamming?"

ME: O_o

RAF: "Nose-bagging?"

ME: O_o

RAF: "Scoffing?"

ME: O_o

RAF: "Bucking & gagging?"

ME: O_o

RAF: "Are you eating lunch?"

ME: "Yes."

Paying Tribute to Freddie

Today marks the 28th anniversary of Freddie Mercury's untimely death in 1991 at the age of 45. I have been a fan of Freddie and Queen since the early 1970s, and to this day I wonder how much more Freddie would have accomplished had his excessive lifestyle not taken its toll. That being said, shortly before my wife and I visited Montreux, Switzerland, this past August, I learned that the city had placed a statute of Freddie Mercury along the shore of Lake Geneva as a memorial to the years that he had lived there. As it turns out, the hotel that we had already reserved was within perhaps a half-kilometer from the sculpture.

My wife and I arrived in Montreux in the early evening, and before dinner we walked along the boardwalk next to Lake Geneva, with the hopes that we would be able to find the memorial before it grew too dark. We found Freddie's statue just as the sun began to set, and my wife took the following two photos: the first image was of the sun setting beside Freddie, and the second was of me behaving like the tourist I was by imitating Freddie's famous pose in the quickly fading twilight.

freddie-at-sunset-with-me


Obviously my jacket was nowhere near as elaborate as Freddie's original, and my 360 camera on a monopod had to substitute for Freddie's microphone stand. Nevertheless, before his death, Freddie had said, "You can do what you want with my music, but don't make me boring." With that in mind, I would like to think that Freddie would be greatly amused by the number of tourists who fondly remember him as anything but boring.

Advertising IIS Around the World

In case you haven't already surmised from some of my other blog posts, I've been around IIS for a long time, so it should go without saying that I'm a big fan of IIS.

I remember when we first released IIS 1.0 for Windows NT 3.51 and we were handing out IIS CD-ROMs at trade shows way back in early 1996; everyone kept asking, "What is this for?" (Obviously the Internet was still a new concept to a lot of people back then.) Out of nostalgia, I kept a shrink-wrapped copy of IIS 1.0 for myself, and I think that I have one of the few boxes left. It usually sits in my office next to my IIS 4.0 Limited Edition CD-ROM...

IIS-1.0-BoxIIS-4.0-CD-ROM

Anyway, over the years the IIS team has printed up an assortment of IIS shirts, and I have been wearing several of these various IIS shirts as I have travelled around the world. Because I have been doing so for some time, I've found myself advertising IIS in some unexpected places. For example, my wife and I were visiting our daughter in Peru this past March, and we took the following photograph of my daughter and me (wearing one of my IIS shirts) at Machu Picchu:

IIS-at-Machu-Picchu

So - you may ask, "What does IIS have to do with one of the newest wonders of the world?" My answer is, "Um... nothing, really." I happened to be wearing my IIS shirt that day, and it made a pretty good photo. (Obviously, it was a bad hair day for me... so I'm blaming the mountain winds. ;-] )

As another example, my son and I took a road trip down the California coast this past summer to visit my brother in San Francisco, and we posed for the following photo before boarding the boat to Alcatraz:

IIS-at-Alcatraz

There are other times where I have taken advantage of a situation to deliberately and shamelessly pose for IIS. For example, I was scuba diving in Hawaii a couple of years ago, and I borrowed someone's dive slate to write the following message:

IIS-7-Rocks

Actually, I tend to wear IIS shirts when I go scuba diving as a matter of habit - it's kind of a good luck charm for me - and this behavior of mine has led to some interesting experiences.

For example, my wife and I were going scuba diving in the Bahamas several years ago, and once again I was wearing one of my IIS t-shirts that day. The dive company had sent a van to our hotel to pick up several divers, and as I climbed aboard, one of the other passengers saw my shirt and remarked, "Oh, we have an IIS person today. I'm more of an Apache Girl myself." I quickly replied, "That's okay, everybody needs a hobby." I really only expected her to get the joke, but apparently we had a tech-savvy group that day because everyone else on the bus chimed in with, "Ooooooh - you're in trouble." I didn't realize what everyone meant until we got to the dive boat where Apache Girl came walking up to me holding an air tank and said, "I'm your dive guide today, and I picked this air tank especially for you." We both had a good laugh, and I survived the dive so she can thankfully take a joke.

IIS-in-the-Bahamas

All that being said, I really like to show off IIS. It's a lot of fun to demonstrate the many features of IIS to customers at trade shows, and it's a lot of fun to unofficially advertise IIS when I'm traveling on vacation in various places around the world. So if you see me when I'm on vacation somewhere, the chances are good that you'll be able to find me in a crowd - because I'll be the geek wearing the IIS shirt.

Note: This blog was originally posted at http://blogs.msdn.com/robert_mcmurray/