Distinguished Colleagues, Dear Friends,


This is my thirty sixth progress report after 1090 days as your President. Note that previous reports are on the ISSMGE web site ( under “From the President” if you need them. This report corresponds to the 3 year anniversary of my election and as usual I will allow myself not to talk about geotechnical engineering in this progress report except for announcing the next webinar which will be presented by Professor Towhata from The University of Tokyo on “Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering”. Professor Towhata is a worldwide expert and author of a book on the topic. The date is 20 Nov 2012 at 12h00 (noon) UTC. In this anniversary report, I have chosen to talk to you about laughing and smiling.


Laughing and smiling extends your life. I have read this a number of times and I wish to believe it. Rather than boring you with my thoughts about why it is important and how to best achieve it, I decided to simply tell you a few funny stories. What people consider to be funny varies extensively across cultures and it is bit challenging to find stories which will make all of us laugh. My hope is that you will find among these 10 short stories a few of them which bring a smile to your face; that is my goal. These funny stories reflect some of the things we experience in life.


1. We sometime make assumptions which are not verified: A man sees a woman walking a dog. He decides to approach her and says: “Does your dog bite?” The woman kindly answers “No”. The man proceeds to pet the dog. The dog reacts, bites the man’s hand. Astonished and frustrated, the man looks at the woman and says: “ I thought you said your dog didn’t bite”. She answers:” yes, but this is not my dog!”


2. We don’t always understand people’s decision but they often have good reasons: A married couple is in the middle of a field chatting when a bull comes charging. Two solutions present themselves, to jump in a hole or to climb in a tree. The man jumps in the hole and the woman climbs in the tree. The bull stays around a while but suddenly the man comes out of the hole running towards the tree. The woman is puzzled, grabs him by the wrist to help him climb the tree, and saves his life but yells at him saying "why did you come out of the hole, you dummy you could have been killed, you just had to stay in the hole until the bull was gone". He replies: "Honey, I am very sorry but there was a big black bear in the hole!!!


3. Eating healthy food is important or is it. Two men die and go to Heaven. At dinner time in Heaven, they are enjoying a feast like never before: foie gras, plenty of wine, steak, gravy, French fries, cheese, chocolate, cognac. One of them says to the other. Isn’t that absolutely wonderful, if it had not been for those darn vegetables, we would have been here two years ago!!


4. It pays to be polite or does it. A dish is filled with pieces of chicken and is circulating around a large table. People help themselves until the dish comes to the last two: Richard and John. At that point there are two pieces left in the dish, a very nice juicy piece and a very small half-burned piece. Richard takes the nice piece and passes the dish to John who says: “Richard, you are not very polite, you took the best piece and left me the bad one”. Richard says: “ what would you have done if you had been me”. John says “well of course I would have taken the small piece” to which Richard responds: ‘Well that’s what you got, so don’t complain!!”.


5. Go after your dreams and persevere like little children: A little boy goes to bed upstairs. His father is watching TV downstairs. The little boy says: Daddy, can you bring me a glass of water. The father: No, you just had one, go to sleep. Two minutes pass and the little boy says. Daddy, can you bring me a glass of water. No, I said no already, you are just making excuses not to go to sleep. Again two minutes pass. The little boy: Daddy, can you bring me a glass of water. No, no, no, says the father, if you ask me one more time, I will come up and spank you. Ten minutes pass. The little boy says: Daddy, when you come up to spank me, can you bring me a glass of water!!!


6. Good news, bad news. A man goes to the doctor very worried about his health. The doctor orders some tests. After the test results are in, the doctor calls the man and says I have some bad news and some worse news. The bad news is that you have 24 hours to live. The man says that sounds pretty bad! what could be the worse news? The doctor says: I forgot to call you yesterday!!


7. Devious but cute. The phone rings in a house and a little girl answers speaking very softly. Hello says the caller, may I talk to your mother. The little girl answers very softly: she is busy. The caller: May I talk to your father then. The little girl still in a hush voice, he is busy too. The caller: Is there anyone else in the house I can talk to. The little girl: The police man. The caller: What do you mean the police man. Your mother is busy, your father is busy, the police is here. What are they doing? The little girl in a very quiet voice: “They’re looking for me!!!”


8. Children are very logical. A police officer is teaching young kids to be careful about strangers and criminals. He takes them to the police station to show them the photos of the “most wanted” on the wall. He says here are the photos of people most wanted for their crimes. A little girl asks are these really mean people. The officer says Yes definitely. They are very mean and we are going to catch them all. The little girl asks: why did you not keep them when you took their picture?


9. We sometime think that the problem is with others when in fact …! Billy Bob is getting worried that Mary Jane is developing a serious hearing problem. Being an engineer, he decides to do a test to evaluate the extent of the problem. He sets himself 30m from Mary Jane one night and says “Mary Jane, what time is it?” … no answer. He says: that confirms it, there is a definite problem. He comes closer to 20m and says again “Mary Jane, what time is it?” … no answer. He says: it is really worse than I thought but he continues his test and comes to within 10m of Mary Jane and asks again. “Mary Jane, what time is it?” … Finally Mary Jane answers: “Billy Bob, for the third time, I said 10:30!!!”


10. Engineers are very practical. To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.


I hope that you now have a smile on your face. Keep it there, it does wonders.


Until next time, take care and be safe.


Best Wishes,

Jean-Louis BRIAUD
President of ISSMGE
International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering