It was probably inevitable that I'd meet Singapore President S.R. Nathan when I sneezed. After the Commencement ceremony was a reception, and I picked up a tray of food. I went to the vegetarian reception, not because I'm vegetarian but because the lines were shorter, and got some fine bee hoon (I bet you didn't even know bees had hoons) and potato cutlets. Thus when I felt myself about to sneeze, only my right hand was free, so I sneezed (not too messily) into that. Since the SARS crisis last year the public health recommendation is to sneeze into your elbow, a feat I can't really manage.( Collapse )
I had an invitation that somehow (I think by its color) marked me as faculty, not a graduate or guest of a graduate, so the ushers -- there were many ushers -- were determined to tuck me in the V.I.P. section. I've never been V.I. except to a few close friends and family. Being shuttled down corridors past ``reserved'' signs and being handed off from one usher to another to another to another left me with that Gogol-esque unease that I've been mistaken for somebody a lot higher-ranked in the world and have no way out but to go along, which ultimately is why I met a head of state.
Trivia: The ``Eternal Edict'' of the Estates of Holland, prohibiting those of the House of Orange from becoming Stadtholder, lasted less than five years before repeal. Source: European History 1648 to 1789, R. M. Rayner.
Currently Reading: Louis Pasteur, Patrice Debré.