2018-10-20 (Saturday)

Today, I learned that:

Continuing the post from 2018-09-29, here are two more interesting British facts from the world of Sports:

Wimbledon surrenders to John Isner

The American tennis player John Isner is, among other things, well known for having participated in the two longest fifth sets in the history of the Wimbledon tournament. In 2010, he beat the Frenchman Nicholas Mahut after winning the fifth set by 70-68, after three calendar days and 8 h 11 min of playing time. Then in this year’s tournament, in the semifinals, he lost to the South African player Kevin Anderson by 26-24 in the fifth set.

But that is the end of such marathon games, because as of 2019, Wimbledon has decided to introduce a tie-breaker at 12-12 in the fifth set.

See also references # 1 and 2 below.

Scotswoman breaks record for touring the world on a bicycle

In Britain, there are not only wonder women in golf. The Scottish cyclist Jenny Graham just arrived in Berlin after having gone on a tour around the world. You may remember that in the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty days, her compatriot Phileas Fogg made it, using trains and steamer ships on 80 days. Jenny did not totally get there, but nevertheless her record is an amazing 124  days! (Another Brit, Mark Beaumont, holds the male record, set in September 2017, with 78 days 14 h 14 min., thus beating Phileas Fogg.)

Jenny Graham

Jenny Graham stops for a selfie while passing the Russian city of Pskov, close to the borders with Estonia and Latvia. Courtesy of Jenny Graham/The Adventure Syndicate/PA.

See also references # 3, 4, and 5 below.

Donkey steps

On various occasions, I have referenced material from Sveriges Radio (the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation), and here is yet another one:

Yesterday, their correspondent at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Andreas Liljeheden, published a chronicle about the particular construction of the stair case between the two main buildings of the European Parliament. The following photo shows exactly that view.

EU steps

The court yard in the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, highlighting the donkey steps between the two main buildings. Photo taken by Andreas Liljeheden on 2018-10-18.

As you can see, the vertical displacement from one step to another is small, but the horizontal one is much greater, exactly 1,16 m according to Andreas’ measurement. This makes walking up and down the stairs a complicated task. He investigated the origins of that crazy stair case, and found that in some countries of the European continent, such as Austria and Germany, there is a tradition of using deeper steps, whereas the Belgians and Dutch normally, due to the higher population density, have to settle with a different project, with a higher vertical-to-horizontal ratio. Sweden is, as always, “lagom”, i.e. mid-way.

Here are two more photos of donkey steps, the first one being a close-up of the EU Parliament steps, and the second one a typical scene of donkeys climbing the steps in Fira, the capital of the island of Santorini in the Greek Aegean Sea.


Two examples of donkey steps: To the left, a visitor to the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium (photo by Andreas Liljeheden, 2018-10-18). To the right, real donkeys in Fira, Santorini, Greece (photo by Liz Stark, 2016-04-06).

But why is Andreas emphasising this stair case? In no way, he implies that hard working politicians are donkeys, but he thinks it is a symbol for the difficulties encountered by the EU members. If you cannot have a unanimous decision on something by all its 28 member countries (soon to be 27?), then there has to be a compromise, such is life! Thanks Andreas for your valuable contribution!

See also reference #6 below.

That’s what I learned in school !


1: Longest tennis match records

2: Call It the John Isner Rule: Wimbledon Plans to Add a Final-Set Tiebreaker

3: Scottish cyclist smashes round-the world record

4: Around the World in Eighty Days

5: Around the world in 78 days: British cyclist completes record-breaking ride

6: Åsnetrappor typiskt för EU: Ekots Andreas Liljeheden, Bryssel

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-03-22 (Tuesday)

Today, I learned that:

I woke up early this morning and when I was just about to make a move in Wordfeud, I noticed that there was a chat message waiting for me, “… a lot of mischief in Brussels”. So I tuned in to Radio Sweden P1 and heard all about the monstrosities that were happening there.

Twin Towers

I took this picture from the Empire State Building of the Manhattan skyline on 1994-09-18, when the Twin Towers were still the landmarks. 7 years later they did not exist any more!

It reminded me of other similar events which had happened during the last decade (London, Madrid, Paris,…), but most of all the “9/11” airplane crashes in New York. So I looked up the photo you can see above, which I took on 1994-09-18. You may remember that on 2016-02-07, I published a photo from an NFL-game in Atlanta, which I had taken one week earlier. I was there for product training at the Philips office, and after having concluded training Claudeir, Michael and I flew to New York, from where we would make other visits on the East Coast of USA the following week. So when I took that photo from the top of the Empire State Building, of course I remembered how the Twin Towers stood out in the horizon. Seven years later they did not exist!

And of course I also remember very well what happened on 2001-09-11. I was in a meeting in my office, when our secretary told us the news about the nightmare in New York. And on that very same morning, a Philips sales man landed in São Paulo for an important meeting later in the week. He took a taxi directly from the airport to the hotel, where he rested for some hours without knowing about what had happened earlier in the US. So I broke the news to him over the phone, he called his parents in Chicago, who gave him first-hand information about the calamity in their country. Due to the shutdown of the airports all over USA, his flight back on Friday evening was cancelled, but he was lucky enough to fly out on the following Monday evening.

But, in the midst of all these dark memories, today I also heard an illuminative piece of news. It was delivered by Scientific American about researchers at Harvard who have developed a material that can go from clear to opaque in a second, when an electric field is applied. Imagine that when you want to sleep without being bothered, you do not have draw any curtain or Venetian blind, no you just press a button and the windows in your bed room stops any voyeurs from peeking in. And then in the morning, in order to see the Sun in all its beauty, you just press the button again, while saying “Let there be light!”

… That’s what I learned in school !


1: Smart Glass Goes from Clear to Cloudy in a Jolt

2: Electrically tunable window device

+: What did you learn in school today ?