27 January 2007
In the early '70's I was teaching Korean Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. My office was in Goodbody Hall, not to far from main east and west arteries on the south side of the IU campus.
One of my graduate classes just had four students, so we'd meet in my office which had a large desk plus a a good-sized table and four chairs. One day as we were grappling with a translation of a Korean poem, we could hear a fire-engine, with siren going, racing toward the east side of town (where my apartment was). I jokingly remarked, "I hope they're not going to my place!" Famous last words, eh? About two minutes later my office phone rang and it was a neighbor calling to tell me that the firemen couldn't get into my apartment to put out the fire because the door was locked!
I raced home only to find that my landlord had let the firemen in shortly after I had put down the phone.
While the apartment was full of smoke, nothing had burned except for a stuffed bear! The bear was sitting in a window on a polished marble window sill and fortunately it wasn't touching anything else. How had it caught fire?
It was a sunny day and near the bear was a shiny chrome haidryer. Apparently the sun's rays had been magnified by the shiny chrome and set the bear afire!
After this experience you'd think I'd learn to keep my mouth shut, but that lesson still hasn't seeped in, I guess.