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Lucky Measured Value

Sometimes at signings I inscribe my books with the mystifying phrase "Lucky Measured Value."  In case you've run across a copy with those words on the title page, here's the story.

When my books come out in German, the publisher always sends me a few copies, even though I can't read a word of the language.  Accordingly, I give these copies away whenever I find someone who can.

One such copy went to a German immigrant neighbor of mine in Anchorage named Iris.  Wishing to make her copy special, I decided to be clever and sign it in German.

So I went to a translation site on the Internet and typed in these words:

For Iris --

Happy reading!

Your friend,
Stan Jones

When the German translation came back, I copied it onto the title page, signed my name, and presented it to Iris.

A puzzled frown came over her face as she read it.

"Woops," I thought.  "Is there a problem?" I asked.

Iris's English wasn't great, but it was definitely better than my German, so she was eventually able to make clear the result of the Internet translation.

"For Iris" had come out fine, as had "Your friend."  The problem was with the line in the middle:  "Happy reading!"

The Internet engine had translated "happy" in the sense of "fortunate" (as in, "happy accident").  And it had translated "reading" in the sense of a temperature reading or a blood pressure reading.

The net result was, my inscription read as follows:

For Iris,

Lucky measured value!

Your friend
Stan Jones

Well, that struck me as such a felicitous turn of phrase, befitting somehow the occasional surreality of mystery writing, that I instantly adopted it as my own, and began using it at signings.  If you'd like it in your copy, just let me know!

Lucky measured value!

Your friend,

Stan Jones