Sunday, May 31, 1998 12:36 PM
part 5

Other sightings: people dressed as M&Ms, the costume being nearly 2 metres in diameter, walking down the street. Interesting advertising idea, but it would have been more popular if they were giving away samples.

The fourth Thursday in April is the first day of summer, according to the old calender (which remained in use until about 150 years ago). At the time, it was called the first day of the Harp. The year was divided into summer and winter, with a count of the weeks of each. Birthdays were described as a day within a week within a season, such as the third day of the second week of the Harp. Apparently, the first day of summer is a holiday here - at least some shops were shut and no-one else came to work. And it rained.

Now it's fine and sunny and the temperature has risen above 5°C... to 6°C. :-) Average temperature in summer: 10°C, according to the weather bureau. The tourist bureau assures people that the temperature *can* rise to 20°C. I missed that subtlety before.

I was told a funny story about a day during which the temperature rose to 25°C, and shops were shut because it was "too hot".

My joke, about bare feet being the emperor's new shoes, is not understood in this country, too.

Finding space to park is difficult in Reykjavík, so it's common for people to drive onto the other side of the road to park. The footpath is also used often. If a parking space is too narrow to for a car to park parallel to the street, but wide enough to park perpendicular to it, then Icelanders will use it anyway - by driving sufficiently onto the footpath to get the car out of the way of the traffic, irrespective of it being in the way of pedestrians.

It is now daylight here for all but about 5 hours per day.

Iceland has a goods and services tax. Common items (such as milk and bread) attract a 14.00% tax, and "luxury" items (such as biscuits) attract a 24.50% tax. When you shop at the market, you are offered plastic bags for carrying stuff home. If you accept, then you are charged for them! You even get a receipt. The bags cost 10 kronor each, and are taxed at 24.50%. I suppose that a bag is considered to be a luxury item. :-)

We had a party in the new office, before we move. I suppose the reason for that is so the workers can then repair any damage before we move in. The highlight of the evening, though, was the Israeli transsexual who won the Eurovision Song Contest. Elsewhere in Europe, the Eurovision Song Contest is considered to be some kind of a joke, but in Iceland it was a very serious matter. It is said that Icelandic songs were considered to be so good that Iceland would surely win, if it were allowed to compete. The organisers of the Contest, knowing this to be true, would for many years not allow Iceland to enter. When Iceland was allowed finally to compete, the assured victory was broadcast in the newspapers and, on the night of the competition, the houses were filled with people watching it on television... Iceland didn't win, and the shock and talk of conspiracy lasted for several years. This is the first year since then that Iceland has not competed.

We began to move office on a Thursday. Never begin to move office on a Thursday or a Friday, because something will always go wrong, and no-one will be willing to come until the next week to fix it. In our case, the e-mail system crashed and was inoperable for an entire week.

The removalists began moving mid-morning, having been told to arrive then, since the move would not take long. They began, shortly after then, a two hour lunch break, followed by an hour-long coffee break during the mid-afternoon. At 5pm, they left promptly. The truck drove away, leaving most of the office unmoved, but enough of it had been moved that no-one had, in either office, enough of a desk on which to work. I was told to pack my stuff at mid-day on the Thursday, which I did. It was not until Friday afternoon that my stuff was moved, and my desk was the last to arrive - it arrived even after the desks were moved of those people who haven't begun to work for us yet. The situation would have been improved if the weather had been fine enough that I could have spent the time looking around Reykjavík. The boss made a similar comment. :-)

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