For A stopwatchno particular reason, something reminded me of a practice in primary school (in The Netherlands that’s approximately [or was] from age 4 to age 12): periodically, we were tested on our vocabulary: in turns, we kids were taken separately to a room where someone handed us a sheet with words. On the ‘start’ sign, we had to literally spit out the words as fast as we could (within a predetermined timerange, probably within the 5 minutes).

I can’t exactly recall if the sheets only showed words or if they contained sections with sentences. But thinking about it, this morning, I keep wondering what exactly the purpose was of this kind of testing. Sure, I read faster now, but I’m certain that this has to do with the fact I’m used to scroll through windows fast, for example. As a programmer, it makes it easier to pick out source code that flies by in front of my eyes (much to frustation of others watching over my shoulders). But did that testing make that possible or is this all because I’ve been working with computers?

Maybe it was all part of a secret plot of the Dutch authorities to keep us kids ahead of the ones that were in the Communist part of Europe. Because, if the Russians were invading Holland, we could at least defend our country by quickly firing off famous Dutch curse words.

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