August 25th, 2006

krazy koati

Just a half a mile from the railroad track

Greetings and thank you for choosing the Just Outside Lecture Theater 12-L Food Center. We know you have many choices for your dining, and we appreciate the thoughtful consideration you gave before selecting the center closest to the class you had just before lunch. Had you chosen your schedule differently things might be quite different for us all.

Your cooperation is greatly appreciated to make this dining experience as much of one as can be. At peak hours the canteen will be quite filled, as eating a half-hour before noon or after 1 pm is a clear sign of insanity. To cope with crowded conditions please consider other people, and think about sitting in the less desirable seats, such as those near trash bins, or exposed to the thunderstorm, or suffering from the chairs or tables being broken. If you must have a pleasant seat, try to use one belonging to faculty members in adjacent buildings, starting from the lower floors first. It is quite inconsiderate to leave a personal article to reserve an empty seat while you dine, as this forces the management to find someone willing to steal what you set down. If you must leave a personal article behind, please check how close it is to our birthday, and what we would like.

When lining up for food, please stand in a disorganized manner and shuffle randomly about, to better confuse people who arrive after you do. Many meal options are available, so it is best to have your preferences in mind before the server can ask, and then to forget what you selected, and in a panic ask for the same thing you requested the last 26 times. They will be out of this, and so you should then select whatever is the first item on the rightmost column of the printed menu. It is convenient to have exact change, but giving, say, $3.35 for a bill of $2.85 will allow you to test the cashier's skill at subtraction, bringing greater joy to us all.

Do be alert to stray animals and birds. Birds particularly are quite intelligent, often passing their time between meals working sudoku puzzles or refusing to be drawn in to political discussions online. In consequence they may be expected to take any chance to grab food from your plate, whether you have finished with it or not. Many are sufficiently clever to work in teams, with one attempting to lift your wallet or purse while the other grabs your plate. When they have organized to this extent the best approach is to get a meal based on chicken or duck, and when they make off with your lunch, chuckle at the irony. Thank you for your partial attention.

Trivia: There are exactly 880 distinct magic squares composed of four rows and four columns. Source: Mathematical Recreations and Essays, WW Rouse Ball and HSM Coxeter.

Currently Reading: Crystal Express, Bruce Sterling.