Fabulous Adventures In Coding
Eric Lippert is a principal developer on the C# compiler team. Learn more about Eric.
I'm back from my fabulous adventures in Austria, Romania and Canada and I had a fabulous time, as you might imagine. We were in Romania for a wedding of some close personal friends who live here in Seattle; much of the groom's family escaped from Romania during the Communist period and settled in Austria, so we spent some time in Vienna and then headed to Bucharest, and then crossed the Carpathian mountains by bus into Transylvania for the wedding. Some of the highlights included:
* Vienna! An astonishingly beautiful city with classical sculpture and architecture everywhere you look. We were playing "identify that goddess" the whole time we were there. Plus, young men dressed like Mozart will try to sell you concert tickets and have an answer for every objection. "I saw that show last night" is met with "The second time will be better!" (The concert really was delightful.)
* Romania! Where there is a stark contrast between the quaint tiled-roof medieval buildings in beautiful mountain valleys, and the horrid, crumbling, brutal Communist-era concrete slab apartment blocks. Said medieval buildings included Bran Castle, a small but lovely medieval castle bizarrely marketed as "Dracula's Castle" for reasons which were obscure to me. Apparently Vlad the Impaler slept there one night as a child, or some such thing. It was difficult to tell from the materials at the castle what exactly the alleged connection was. But still, nice castle. And we visited the Black Church of Brașov, which was also quite historic.
* The ride from the hotel to the wedding! Let me begin by saying that I have a policy of not wearing socks after April, so I only brought my sandals to Europe. "No one is going to be photographing my feet", I said. So there we were at the hotel, and a horse-drawn carriage shows up to bring the bride and groom to the church. Just as they were about to embark, the happy couple said "Eric and Leah! There is room in the carriage beside the driver! Come with us!" Which was an unexpected treat, being taken by horse-drawn carriage over cobblestone streets up to the 14th century Fortified Church of Sfântu Gheorghe. Quite magical. And of course the wedding photographers were running alongside the carriage snapping pictures as we went. Since we were sitting up with the driver, my feet were at the same level as the bride's head. Thanks to the magic of digital photography, by the time the wedding was over the photographers had already blown up some of the photos from earlier in the day to poster size and printed them onto cardboard at the reception hall. And there it was, a life-size poster of my sandalled feet floating beside the bride's head to greet us. (Attention Romanian photographers: next time, use the "crop" feature before you press Print.)
* The kidnapping! Apparently it is a tradition in Transylvanian weddings for the bride to be mysteriously kidnapped and then ransomed back to the groom. The "ransom" included a long list of things such as "the father of the groom must sing a traditional Hungarian (*) song" and "a friend of the groom's must tell a joke in Hungarian". I volunteered for the latter task; fortunately one of the groom's cousins phonetically taught me a clean joke -- in fact, her nine-year-old daughter's favourite joke -- which I must say is hilarious. It goes:
Miért nincs a póknak telefonja?
Mert bemegy a sarokba és telefonja!
Get it? Eh? és tele-fonja!
HA HA HA HA HA!
The joke literally translates as "Why does the spider not have a telephone? Because he is in the corner, weaving." Which isn't funny in English, but in Hungarian it is a hilarious pun because "telephone" and "to weave together" are homophones. A non-literal translation would be "Why does a spider not have the internet? Because he already has the Web in a corner."
HA HA HA HA HA! It is funny in English too!
Even though my timing was flawless, my pronunciation might have been off because the joke was met with utter silence.
Regardless, the bride was restored only to discover that her shoes had mysteriously gone missing. The little daughters of the kidnappers had gotten into the action! They demanded chocolate and gum as shoe ransom. Fortunately they were appeased and no shoes were harmed.
* The alpine village! The day after the wedding we journeyed to a village in the Transylvanian Alps. Which were extraordinarily scenic, but getting there was quite terrifying, what with the unpaved, washed-out road, the sheer cliff on one side, and the -- I kid you not -- donkey-drawn gypsy caravans coming down the mountain.
All in all it was quite the trip; we had a fabulous time thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of all of the relatives who provided us food, lodging, travel and entertainment.
Seems like it's been a while since we discussed programming language design on this here blog, so next time we'll get back into it with some musings about type theory.
(*) Transylvania was once a part of Hungary, and a large portion of the population is still ethnically Hungarian even though it is today nowhere near the border with Hungary.
Haha, I'm always glad to hear when people visits Romania and the Carpathian mountains. Yeah, sure Bran Castle isn't all that much to see, but I hope you didn't miss Castle Peles (en.wikipedia.org/.../Pele%C5%9F_Castle).
We did miss it, which is too bad since it looks impressive. We saw Castle Râşnov from a distance but we didn't get a chance to see it close up. -- Eric
The "kindapping" goes on here in Finland too, so it's not just a Romanian thing I guess. :)
Damn! Didn't know you were in Romania, would've been cool to meet you. :)
Btw, regarding your (*), I wouldn't say most of the population is Hungarian, there are only 2 counties where Hungarians are the majority out of the total of 16 counties in Transylvania.
Good point. I've updated the text. -- Eric
Transylvania was once part of Hungary by occupation. Things have been restored in the meantime ;)
The "donkey-drawn gypsy caravans" are actually quite common in Romania and some other surrounding countries :).
The link to "next time" doesn't work.
You want me to make a link to an article I'm going to write later this week? Learn patience, guy. -- Eric
I have a Hungarian friend whose family is from Transylvania. It's hard to tell whether they're Hungarian or Romanian, but I think the fact that they speak Hungarian means they're Hungarian.
I also have a Romanian friend whose last name is Maghiar, which apparently is Romanian for "Hungarian" (in Hungarian it's spelled "Magyar").
When does your "not wearing socks after April" clock reset? Or does it just mean you can never wear socks? I have similar questions about "not wearing white after Labor Day" and "never feed a Mogwai after midnight".
When it gets too cold and rainy. -- Eric
Eric, good to see you're back :) Been checking the blog every day even though I knew there'd be nothing new... ;)
Actually, I'm Hungarian so please allow me a pedantic correction to the joke (I know you do care about details). I had not known this joke, but your perfect English translation gave it away. The correct Hungarian version is this:
"Miért nincs a póknak telefonja?" - "Mert bemegy a sarokba és telefonja!". The word "telefonja", as you correctly noted, is homophonic, meaning both "has a telephone" (telefon-ja) and "weaves it full" (tele-fonja). It *is* funny indeed :)
Sorry for the nitpick, but it wasn't to be one, and have a great time back home :)
Thanks! I was hoping someone would correct my spelling. I managed to figure out the spellings and accents of a few words but a few like "bemegy" defeated me. -- Eric
... metajoke: I followed the link expecting a post involving variable and function name prefixes, but instead found a joke about a spider. [1| msdn.microsoft.com/.../aa260976.aspx
This is nothing compared to what we do here in Israel at a Jewish wedding !
You should drop by to see some of that.
(only joking of course)
I was expecting sth like this: a_crszkvc30LastNameCol (constant reference function argument, holding contents of a database column of type varchar(30) called LastName that was part of the table's primary key)
Since you seem at least somewhat interested in gravel-covered mountain-top roads that lack railings to guard against sheer cliffs, might I recommend a trip to Monte Verde in Costa Rica? It's *terrifying*...ly beautiful.
I have been following your blog for a few months now.. mostly for the .net stuff. But I must say you write really well!! Loved the humor and the story in this aritcle!
RE: clock reset
I'm with ya on the flip-flops/sandals thing starting in spring. My rule for the reset: open toes until it snows.
Glad to see you're back, looking forward to reading your posts again :)