Nothing ever gets anywhere. The earth keeps turning round and gets nowhere. The moment is the only thing that counts.
Some of my friends engage in a friendly contest: they compete to see who can visit the most countries. It’s a life-long game. One of the sub-goals is to always have visited more countries than you are years old.
Now, we’re talking about engineers and mathematicians here so there’s room for considerable debate about the rules. What, for example, constitutes “visiting” a country? And does it count if you were so young that you don’t recall the visit?
For the sake of argument, I’ll stipulate that you’ve visited a country if you have slept at least one night in that country not at an airport or entirely in transit to another country. By these rules, I can’t count the Netherlands just because I’ve been through Schiphol Airport several times and you can’t count Germany if you’ve only slept on a train travelling through it.
But I can count Japan now, which brings me one more country. If memory serves, I have visited Canada, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Scotland, Thailand, and now Japan. I suppose one has, axiomatically, visited the country where one resides, so I get the United States for free.
Nine. Nine. I’m going to have to average more than one a year for a while if I’m ever going to catch up to my age.
[Updated 7 Mar 2004: Uhm. Eight, actually. Subsequent conversation lead to a discussion about what constitutes a country. My working definition: it’s a country if it has its own ISO country code. Scotland doesn’t, so I’ve only got eight in this essay. Nine now.]