Piccole letture in chiave umoristica e/o filosofica

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The Bathtub Test

During a visit to a mental asylum, I asked the director how he knew when a patient needed to be institutionalised.
“It’s really quite simple,” the director replied. “We just fill up a bathtub with water and then offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.”
“Oh, I understand,” I replied. “Obviously a normal person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the cup.”
“No,” said the director. “A normal person would pull the plug out. Do you want a bed near the window?”

The Balloonist and the Hiker

One day a man, who was travelling in a hot air balloon, realised he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman hiking down below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”
The hiker, shouting back, replied, “You are in a hot air balloon approximately 30 feet above the ground. Your position is about 30 degrees north latitude and 90 degrees west longitude.”
“Hey, what are you, a technician?” yelled the balloonist.
“Yes, I am,” the hiker shouted back. “How did you guess?”
“Well,” shouted the balloonist, “everything you’ve told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information! The fact is, I’m still lost, and you haven’t said or done a single thing to help!”
“Ah, you must be in management.” the hiker yelled back.
“I am,” shouted the balloonist, “but how did you guess?”
“Easy.” the hiker yelled. “You don’t know where you are. You don’t know where you’re going. You’ve risen to where you are thanks to a large quantity of hot air. You’ve made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and now you expect me to resolve your problem. The fact is you are in exactly the same position that you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s all my fault!”

Remember to put the glass down

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired:
“How heavy is this glass of water?”
All kinds of answers came from around the room.
She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”
She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed and incapable of doing anything.”
It’s important to remember to let go of your stress. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night.
Remember to put the glass down.

Bridging the Gap*

An Irishman walks into a bar in Dublin, orders three pints of Guinness and sits in the back of the room, taking a sip from each glass in turn. When he has finished all three, he goes back to the bar and orders three more. The bartender says to him,
“You know, a pint goes flat after a while. It would be better if you bought one at a time.”
The Irishman replies, “Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in America, the other in Australia, and I’m here in Dublin. When we all left home, we promised to drink this way to remember the days we all used to drink together.”
The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and says no more.
The Irishman becomes a regular in the bar and always drinks in the same way, ordering three pints and taking a sip from each glass in turn.
One day, he comes in and orders only two pints. All the other regulars in the bar notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says,
“I don’t want to intrude on your grief, but I would just like to offer my condolences on your great loss.”
The Irishman looks confused for a moment, then his eyes light up and he laughs.
“Oh, no,” he says, “we’re all fine. It’s just that I’ve quit drinking!”

* to bridge the gap = tamponare il problema (lit: costruire un ponte sul vuoto)

The Young Boy and the Old Man

“Sometimes I drop my spoon,” said the young boy.
“Sometimes I do that, too,” said the old man.
“Sometimes I wet my pants,” whispered the young boy.
“That happens to me, too,” laughed the old man.
“I often cry,” said the young boy.
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the young boy, “grown-ups rarely pay any attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand, “I know what you mean,” said the old man.


A young couple moved into a new neighbourhood. The first morning, while they were eating breakfast, the young woman watched her neighbour hanging her clothes out to dry.
“Her laundry doesn’t look very clean,” she said to her husband. “She obviously doesn’t know how to wash clothes properly. Perhaps she needs a better soap powder.”
Her husband looked at her but said nothing.
During the weeks that followed, every time her neighbour hung her clothes out to dry, the young woman watched her and made the same comments.
One morning, about a month later, the young woman was surprised to see a nice, clean line of washing hanging outside her neighbour’s house.
“Look!” she said to her husband. “Our neighbour has finally learnt how to wash her clothes properly! I wonder who taught her.”
Actually,” replied her husband, finally speaking out, “I  got up very early this morning and cleaned our windows.”
And so it is with life. What we see when we watch other people depends very much on the clarity of the window through which we look.

Troubled times

It was a cold, wet night and the wind was whispering in the treetops.
The Past, the Present and the Future slipped silently out of the shadows and walked into the bar.
It was a tense moment.

Nobody did it

This is a little story about four typically English characters called Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to do and Everybody thought that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it but in the end Nobody did it. Somebody, of course, got angry about this because he felt that Everybody should have done it. Everybody insisted that Anybody could have done it, but Nobody realised that it was Everybody’s job. In the end Everybody blamed Somebody because Nobody had done what Anybody coud have done.

A mouse in the house

A mouse really wanted to come out from his hole in the wall behind the fridge in the kitchen but he was very, very afraid of the cat. So he put his ear to the wall and listened carefully.
First he heard the sound of paws on the kitchen floor and then a loud bark.
“Excellent,” said the mouse to himself. “It’s only that stupid old dog! Let’s go!”
And the mouse came out from behind the fridge.
In an instant the cat trapped him with his paws and whispered sardonically in his ear:
“Now can you see how important it is to learn a foreign language?”

The secret to a long and happy marriage

An old woman was quietly drinking a glass of wine while sitting in the garden with her husband watching the sun go down.
She says, “I love you so much, I don’t know how I could ever live without you.”
Her husband looks up and asks, “Is that you or the wine talking?”
The old woman replies. “It’s me… talking to the wine.”

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