Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Je bosse

Il faut que je bosse aujourd'hui. Ce n'était pas ma choix, mais quand j'ai décidé de ne pas prendre les vacances entre le Noël et le jour de l'an, je pensais que j'aurais plus de cours et d'heures que maintenant. Je n'ai qu'une classe, pendant deux heures, et pour moi, il n'y a pas assez de valeur, et je aurais préféré avoir des vacances pour ne rien faire. Dommage. Personne ne m'a dit que j'allais travailler pendant deux heures cette semaine. Mais ce n'est pas completement mal, la classe commence à 17h, qui est meilleur que 9h du matin. Après ce soir, je ne travaille pas jusqu'à lundi prochain, et puis, il ne me restera que deux semaines de travail avant que je sois au chommage. C'est formidable, non?

Explains a lot

I found this article because I was told to google "inject vegemite". On the second page, there's a reference to a certain John Howard, a political embarrassment that sensible Australians are happy to be rid of. Apparently he doesn't like Vegemite. I don't understand why that was never brought up during the campaign, as I can't think of much that would be considered more "un-Australian".
How could he claim to represent the majority if he's a Vegemite hater?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

J'écris quelque chose

Ça fait longtemps depuis la dernière fois que j'ai écrit quelque chose. Bah, deux semaines. Je voudrais écrire plus souvent, mais soit je n'ai pas assez de temps, soit il n'y a rien à écrire, soit j'oublie d'écrire.

Vous vous demandez, je le sais, ce que je fais, et que j'ai fait. On est le 27 décembre aujourd'hui, donc on vient de feter le Noël. La vielle du Noël, j'ai diné avec mon voisin italien, sa mère et son frère. Sa mère a cuisiné un repas traditionnel d'Italie, ou de leur région d'Italie. Il y avait une entrée, un plat, puis un déssert. Je n'ai pas mangé l'entrée parce que c'était un risotto aux fruits de mer. Dommage, parce que le risotto sentait bien. J'ai mangé le plat, qui était de poisson, et c'était formidable. Le déssert était un gateau italien, qui me souvenait de la brioche, mais je ne me souviens pas le nom. Je l'aimais bien, meme si je ne peux pas vous dire le nom.

Le Père Noël m'a livré des cadeaux ; des livres, des vêtements, du milo, des chocolates et des biscuits polonais (delicje et pierniki torunskie).
Désormais, j'ai beaucoup de livres que je dois lire, avant finir le livre que je lis maintenant (un Prachett, des Annales du Disque-Monde "Le Dernier Continent")

Quoi d'autre de neuf? Aujourd'hui il fait beau, mais il fait froid.
Je suis sur qu'il y a d'autres nouvelles, mais je les ai oublié. Si je me les rappelle, je les mettrai ici.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

400, and le Métro

This is my 400th post on this blog! Yay!
Happy 400th Postday to my blog.

Ok, so on to the métro. Since I first came to Paris, I'd wondered why some métro lines had train-like wheels and others had huge rubber tyres. I'd never cared enough to ask google to point me in the right direction, but I'd wondered about it. Until earlier this week, specifically on Monday, somewhere between 1:30pm and 3:30pm, when a student who seems rather interested in the workings of things like that told me the reasons. It's essentially this: The train-like wheels are the original wheels and the rubber tyres are new, but have only been installed on some lines because they require some track modification. The bonus of having rubber tyres is that it's more comfortable for the passengers, and perhaps more importanly, the trains can accelerate and decelerate faster, which in turn means they can throw more trains on those lines and make the service more efficient. Lines 1, 4, 6(or maybe 2) and 14 (and perhaps another one or two lines) have the big rubber tyres. Line 14 because it's new and was built with them, and the others because they're the busiest lines and therefore benefit from being more efficient. I also learnt that all the tracks interconnect so the trains can visit other tracks for a holiday (or, more frequently, to go to the maintenance yard).
There, that's probably more than you ever wanted to know about the métro in Paris.

In other news, Sean nie lubi kiedy il pleut and he n'a pas his parapluie, surtout kiedy il fait zimno!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Des Nouvelles

Good news, bad news and other news:

Good news first: It snowed today in Paris! It snowed fairly heavily for about 20mins, which was nice to look at, but not enough to leave a lasting cover of snow on the ground, which was a shame. It has snowed several times this season already, and maybe people suspect that this will be a cold winter, and it might snow again. I hope the colder winter doesn't bring colder rain and colder wind, which were quite uncomfortable last winter.

Bad news: I have a cold. I know it's the cold and flu season, and I catch crowded metro trains and other forms of public transport every day, so it's not surprising that I've picked up a bug from somewhere, but it is uncomfortable and annoying and I hope it goes away soon. I've been bombarding it with vitamin C, antihistamine and paracetamol (the last two are the active ingredients in many cold and flu tablets).

Other news: It seems my 'mystery reader' from Belgium has stopped visiting my blog. Either that, or he learnt that it doesn't show up in the sitemeter statistics if you use a program like Google Reader to keep track of blogs., but I suspect the first option, as the timing is too coincidental.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

7000

The 7000th reader recently passed by my blog, so it's reached another milestone. I won't bother putting up details of this person because it was just a one-off reader, who found my blog via a google search for "a witty comment".

Le 7000ième lecteur a lit mon blog, donc il a passé encore une grande chiffre. Je ne veux pas écrire les détails de cette personne parce qu'on ne lit pas mon blog régulièrement, et on a trouvé mon blog en cherchant "a witty comment" avec google.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

An Update

Ok, so two blogworthy events have happened in the last few days. First, I went to Parc Disneyland Paris on Friday with Nadia. Second, I went to a café/restaurant called Delaville Café with various people last night.

1. Disneyland Paris: I have been interested in visiting the Eurodisney Park for a while, and finally got around to going there on Friday. It was bloody cold, about 4 degrees, and a weekday, which helped keep the numbers down. This was a bonus for us because we survived the cold, and we were able to avoid long queues on the rides - I think 15 or maybe 20mins was the longest we had to wait for anything. The scariest ride was Space Mountain, which is a rollercoaster that shoots you up at the start, kind of like a launch, and then travels through twists and steep descents inside, in the dark, so you can't really tell what's about to happen. I think my favourite ride was the Star Wars simulator. We travelled on a shuttle to the Forest Moon of Endor, and had a few problems along the way. We didn't get to go to the second park, the Disney Studios, because we left it until the end, thinking we'd finish the main park and if we had time, pop over to the other one. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time because the second park had closed by the time we got there. It was a little annoying, but there was really only one ride that I wanted to go on there - the tower of terror hotel thing, but from the ground, it didn't look taller than the Giant Drop at Dreamworld anyway, and I've been on that a couple of times already.

The second event: Dinner last night. The restaurant, Delaville Café, was great. The food was delicious (I had magret de canard and belle ile flottante). The decor ws impressive, and from the era called Classical Revival (if you're an architect). There are several sections to the building, with a restaurant, bar, lounge, and terrace, and the waiters are friendly (we tipped them with Starburst). I'd definitely recommend this place, and I'd like to return sometime.

Who's been reading my blog?

Ages and ages ago, not long after I set up this blog, I added a site statistics manager to the coding, in this case, sitemeter (see the number at the bottom-left of the blog). It is a nifty device which allows me to see who has been reading my blog lately, and/or where they are. It also shows me how they found my blog, whether by a direct address, or through a google (or other) search, or if it was a link from another blog (and it tells me which blog too). Readers fall into one of two categories; regular readers or one-night stands. Most of the google searches are one-off readings.

Recently I noticed a new regular reader*. Someone who lives in Brussels, uses a Mac with Safari 1.3 and has English set as the system language and who accesses the internet through the ISP Coditel. Anyway, because this reader seems to have become a regular, I wondered who it could be (after all, I don't know many people in Brussels!). I looked back through my reader list and found the first entry for this chap. His first viewing of my page showed that he found my blog through a link from a former-former blog of Aggie's (I think she's on her third blog since that one). Luckily, Aggie had also set up a sitemeter account on her old blog, so I was able to look through her statistics to see who's been reading her porridge lately. It seems this guy in Brussels found her site thanks to a google search for the following words: "sean drake uq". The "uq" was presumably added because I'm not on the first page if you just do a search for my name. Since that first visit, this reader has come to my page from the links on several of my friends' blogs, specifically Kat, Nat and Nick. Now, as I said before, I don't know many people in Brussels, and the number is severely reduced when I refine the terms to "people I know in Brussels who know that I went to UQ, and who also know Kat, Nat and Nick". In fact, I can only think of one person who fits that description. I told Kat about my new reader, without mentioning who I thought it was, and she immediately came back with the same name, so while it's still circumstantial, I'm fairly certain I know who it is. The situation amuses me greatly. Definitely in a "laughing at" rather than a "laughing with" kind of way.


* All of the reader information is publically available - just click on the sitemeter number on the bottom left of the page to see who reads my blog, or what your entry looks like. I have had (mostly one-off) readers in many interesting places and countries.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Red stuff leaked out of my head

My head had an encounter with a metal towel rail in a friend's bathroom last night. The towel rail came off without a scratch, but my head hurt like hell and then decided to start oozing red stuff. Not too much, so I didn't require a transfusion, but it hurt, and it still hurts this morning. :-(

In other news, this flickr group is amusing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quelle ville!

Ha!
I've just been reading my sitemeter statistics, and recently someone read my blog from a town called Hicksville:

Location
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : New York
City : Hicksville
Lat/Long : 40.767, -73.5254 (Map)
Distance : 5,796 kilometers

How unfortunate for the town, and townspeople (unless, of course, they are all hicks).

J'ai fait du shopping

I went shopping today with Sarah because I decided that I needed to buy a new jumper. This is not an easy task in Paris as most items of clothing fall into one of two categories; outrageously expensive, or fugly*. The first jumper that I saw that was both nice and not overly expensive didn't actually exist. This is a problem because one of the main reasons one wears a jumper is because it's a bit chilly. Jumpers that don't exist don't provide much warmth. After this existential disappointment, I went to a different store where I saw two jumpers that I liked on a table under a sign that offered a discount if you bought two of them. So, I inspected the jumpers, and discovered that they both, in fact, existed, and bought them. Sarah wanted to look for a pair of shoes in a store that wasn't actually there, so we gave up on that idea and went for coffee instead.

Lunch was at a nice Japanese restaurant in an area near the border of the first and the second (though I think it was technically in the first), with Sarah and Ben, before the shopping quest.


*fucking ugly

Sunday, November 09, 2008

6789

I have recently had visitor number 6789 to my blog (well, since I installed the sitemeter). Visitor 6789 uses Win XP, Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 (you should change to Mozilla), and a connection through TPG, which seems to be based in Queanbeyan, NSW. It was Nov 8 2008 10:25:16 am in the visitor's timezone.

Now, I can't tell for sure who this person is, but I can possibly guess. I don't know anyone in Queanbeyan, though most Australians know that it's close to Canberra, and I know one person with the misfortune of living in that centre of boredom. So, that suggests it's Lizard.
On the other hand, Australian internet service providers occasionally use IP's that are listed as being in very strange places, possibly just for fun. I know I had a few visitors whose IP's were in Alice Springs, even though they and their computers were in Brisbane, so I can't guarantee at this point that it is definitely Lizard.

Are there any claimers for this wonderful title?
Person Number 6789!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bienvenu à l'hôtel de californie

Надя sent me a link to the following song, saying that it's one of the strangest version of it she'd ever seen. I think it's strange too, yet cool, but also kind of creepy. What do you think? (Oh, I think it's really good translation too, for the record).



(This is also the first time I've bothered embedding a video in this blog)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Спасибо

Спасибо товарищу Ленину за наше счастливое детство.

This sentence doesn't really apply to me, because I didn't grow up in the CCCP (USSR), but it amuses me because of what it means and because of the children's song associated with it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

November's here.

Well, it's Sunday night, and almost time for bed for me. I've just realised that I've let an entire weekend pass without getting around to blogging. I can't really use the "not enough time" excuse this weekend, so I'll play the "just didn't think of blogging until it was late on Sunday night" card. Maybe I'm just getting forgetful in my old age.

It's now November (or novembre or listopad) and being the northern hemisphere, this means winter's fast approaching, which the current cold temperatures can attest to. I don't mind cold weather, but I'd like it a whole lot more if it didn't come packaged with rain and/or wind, which make it rather uncomfortable, especially the double 'and' option. Being hit in the face with bloody cold rain isn't fun. And it doesn't snow. If it's going to be cold, and get down to zero (or lower) temperatures, it could at least have the decency to snow.

Ok, there's my Sunday night rant. I could attempt to make it a weekly thing, but we all know I'm not a reliable enough blogger to make promises like that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Poll

The news these days is inundated with information about the American election, in which I (and most of you) can't vote. Instead, I have added a poll to my blog (on the right-hand side) so that you can give your opinion on a different, yet still important, issue.

wiem wiem

Wiem... nie piszę dużo tutaj. Jestem zły. Pamiętam że blogger jest, ale nie miałem dużo czasu. Chciałbym pisać więcej, ale kiedy mam czas, nic nie mam że chcę pisać, i kiedy mam coś że chcę pisać tutaj, nie mam czasu. Szkoda.
Gdzie byłem, pytasz?
Byłem na pubie z ludźmi piątek bo grupa Floriana miała koncert tamte. Koncert był bardzo dobry i lubiłem ich muzyka. Też, mówiłem z przyjaciółmi, i to jest dużo czas że nie byłem z tymi przyjaciółmi. Więc, bardzo dobry wieczór.
Pracowałem dużo. To jest dobry dla pieniądze ale nie dobry dla mój czas i jestem bardzo śpiący.
I teraz, idę spać. Będę pracować jutro rano i jestem śpiący, bardzo śpiący.
no to pa.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Moo

I am currently eating cheese. Delicious cheese. France does cheese very well. And yoghut. And pretty much anything dairy.
I'm definitely going to miss the dairy aisles of the supermarkets here when I return to Oz.

And in other news, I will definitely finish writing the rest of my travel story... I've just been procrastinating lately.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Two lists

I was thinking about lists on the flight from Prague to Paris and figured I may as well post two of them:

Here's my updated list of countries that I've visited (in chronological order of my first visit there):

Australia
Austria
Slovakia
Hungary
Croatia
Slovenia
Italy
Poland
Germany
Czech Republic
Vatican
France
Singapore
Macau
Hong Kong
United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales)
Switzerland
Ireland
Denmark
Sweden
Turkey
Ukraine
Transdniestr
Moldova
Romania
Bulgaria

The second list is a list of all the airlines I've flown with, which was an appropriate list to think about while flying (listed in chronological order of my first flight with each company):

Qantas
Virgin Blue
Emirates
SkyEurope
W!zzair
Jetstar
Tigerair
Oasis
Ryanair
Sterling
FlyNordic
British Airways
Czech Airlines
Airfrance

Part 1 of the Black Sea Adventure

At the moment I'm sitting next to gate D3 in Prague International Airport, waiting for my connecting flight to Paris, after flying here from Istanbul.
This is basically the end of my 2-week holiday after Lines 2008 through the countries around the western side of the Black Sea. I'll be back in Paris soon (although it seems like ages because I have to wait until 20:10 for my flight to board and it's only 19:20 at the moment).
It's been a great trip, through several new places, all of them interesting in their own way. The trip started with a flight to Istanbul from London, where we (Kat and I) spent a couple of days before taking a 2-night ferry to Odessa, Ukraine. Odessa was a pretty town, and will probably be a lot nicer in the coming years as it seemed like half of it was under renovation or reconstruction. I found my basic knowledge of Polish to be quite useful in Odessa (and on the ferry, which was a Ukrainian company) because I was able to understand quite a few basic things, especially a lot of foods and menu items, which was handy in restaurants. We stayed just one night in Odessa, in a strange hotel (also under major renovation) where our room had a rather large support beam right in the middle of it, which was a trap for tall people, but useful for hanging clothes on to dry/air.
After Odessa, we headed to a city called Tiraspol, which is the capital city of Transdniestr (sometimes called Transdinistria in English), a country which doesn't actually exist, apparently. The rest of the world belives it to be a region in Moldova, but the Transdniestrians are quite certain it's an independant communist state (basically the last remnant of the USSR). The government building is called Soviet House. We hadn't heard of the country before we read about it in a guide book while in the hotel in Odessa, and then proceded to visit this country that very day. On the way in, from Ukraine, the border post to what the rest of the world regards as Moldova, is actually Transdniestr. The border guards were actually quite helpful, and one of them spoke fairly good English, who asked us if we knew that it was Transdniestr and not Moldova, and told us that we would need to register with the Police if we wanted to stay longer than 10 hours. At that point we'd considered staying overnight in Tiraspol, but the thought of dealing with Soviet-style biurocracy convinced us that maybe a short stay would be better. After arriving in Tiraspol and looking around for a couple of hours, we realised that a stay of less than 10 hours was really all that was needed to see all of the city, so we hopped on a bus and headed for Chisinau, Moldova. At the "border" between Moldova and Transdniestr, the Transdniestrian border guards (who didn't speak much English at all) told us that we needed to have a stamp on our transit pass in order to be allowed to leave, which was contrary to what the first guy had told us. We pointed this out, but they either didn't understand, or didn't want to, and kept trying to convince us that we'd need to return to Tiraspol to have our papers stamped. This happened at about 7pm on a Friday night, and we didn't feel it was likely that this magical passport office would be opened late Friday night, or all weekend, for that matter. After quite a bit of discussion (while the rest of our bus was waiting patiently for us, thankfully), one of the guards took us into a small room, closed the door and windows, and said "Chisinau OK, present" and we got the hint that if we were to slip some money his way, we would be allowed to leave. We tried with all the Ukrainian Hrivy that we had (I can't remember how much exactly) and with the 55 or so Transdniestrian Roubles also remaining (which aren't able to be exchanged in any other country because the money apparently doesn't exist according to the international community). This apparently wasn't enough for him, and I remembered that I had a 20euro note in my bag, so I offered him that and he accepted it right away and let us continue on to Moldova. Incidentally, Moldova doesn't have a corresponding checkpoint there because the Moldovans don't regard it as a border, so we technically never entered Moldova. This incident was my first experience bribing border guards (or bribing anyone official, for that matter). After Tiraspol and Transdniestr, Chisinau seemed positively refined and civilised, and it was quite a relief to get there.

Friday, July 04, 2008

London

I'm in London. I arrived here yesterday evening, and I'll be leaving very soon. In about 15mins, in fact, to head to the train station to catch a train that will hopefully take me in the direction of Cold Ash, where I'll be spending my summer. Well, most of my summer.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Trois trzy three

Il me reste trois jours avant que je n'aille en Angleterre.
Jeszcze jest trzy dni przed jadę do Anglii.
There are three days left before I go to England.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Je vais partir en Angleterre

Oui. Je serai en Angleterre jeudi soir. Je vais prendre l'Eurostar et j'y vais arriver vers 17h30. Vendredi, j'irai à Cold Ash, la petite village où se trouve l'école où je travaillerai cet été.
L'été dernier, j'y étais et mes colleagues m'ont dit que facebook était bloqué, pour quel raison unconnu. Ce n'était pas un problème pour moi car je ne m'étais pas déjà inscrit, mais cette année j'ai peur d'être incapable de regarder mon profil, et de ne pas être capable de jouer du Scrabulous pendant six semaines! Quelle horreur!
C'est possible que les informaticiens à l'école ont changé d'avis, et qu'ils ont debloqué le site facebook. Que j'éspère.
Sinon, ne vous inquietez pas, je jouerai du Scrabulous sur fbook dès que je pourrai.

Football noise

Spain has just won the Euro Cup 2008 (football/soccer for those who haven't been following it). Germany lost the final. Nat is probably happy, as it will be quieter in Berlin tonight than if Germany had won, but I think the Germans in Paris would be fewer and quieter than the Spaniards here, so I think I would have preferred it if Germany had won. I would like to get to sleep tonight, and it's not an option in this weather to sleep with the windows shut, so I guess I'll just have to put up with the sound.

Groan... why couldn't a quiet country have won? Like Iceland, for example. I'm sure there wouldn't be too many Icelanders in Paris, as there aren't many in the entire world, so it would be a more peaceful win.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This reflects my experience in Ireland

In most countries, road signs are used to help motorists get from one place to another. In Ireland, it's not so simple. Sign-posting here is heavily influenced by Einstein's theories (either that or the other way round) of space/time and works on the basis that there is no fixed reference point in the universe, or not west of Mullingar anyway. Instead, location and distance may be different for every observer and, frequently, for neighbouring road-signs. The good news is Language: Ireland is officially bilingual, a fact which is reflected in the road-signs. This allows you to get lost in both Irish and English.

(I didn't write this, I copied it from the interweb, but I can't work out who originally wrote it)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Open letter to the other occupants of my building

The lift is small. It hasn't got any windows, nor any other form of ventilation. The trip from the RdC (ground floor) to the top floor (6th) takes some time. I appreciate being able to breath oxygen during this trip, which I, and many other residents, make frequently.
Please DO NOT smoke inside this lift! It's disgusting and obnoxious, not to mention rude and selfish (which, it seems, I have just mentioned). Another resident of this building attacked the ashtray with sticky tape, in the hope that it'd give you the hint, but that doesn't seem to have worked. For fuck's sake, stop smoking in the lift!

L'ascenseur est petite. Il y a ni fenetre ni ventilation. Le voyage du RdC au sixième étage prend du temps. J'aime bien pouvoir respirer quand je suis à l'interieur, et j'y suis souvent, comme beaucoup d'autres habitants.
Merci de NE PAS fumer dans l'ascenseur! C'est immonde et détestable et egoïste. Quelqu'un a déjà mis du scotch pour condamner le cendrier, en ésperant que cela dissuade d'éventuels fumeurs d'enfumer l'ascenseur, mais je crois que ça n'a pas marché. Merde! Arretez de fumer dans l'ascenseur!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Poor Kermit

I guess Jim Henson's demise affected Kermit too:



For more info, click here.
(Thanks Crispin for alerting me to this issue)

Open letter to my fellow RATP passengers.

Why oh why can't some people who choose to take the métro wear deodorant? And if they choose to inflict their ghastly body odour on fellow passengers, do they have to choose my train?

Some questions to ponder before passing through the turnstiles:
1) Have you heard of deodorant?
2) Have you used it within the last 24 hours?
3) Have you ever encountered a shower?
4) Have you had a shower recently?
5) Have you seen soap at any point in your miserable existance?

If the answer to any of the above 5 questions is "no", then YOU FAIL!
DO NOT PASS THE TURNSTILES!

6) Do flowers wilt as you walk past them?
7) Are you capable of stripping paint by merely standing near the wall?
8) Do you wonder why people seem incapable of breathing in your presence?
9) Do your friends refuse to stand downwind?
10) Are only people with severe headcolds or serious sinus issues capable of standing within 100 metres of you?

If the answer to any of the questions 6 through to 10 is "yes", then YOU FAIL!
GET OFF MY FUCKING RAME!!!

Please people, it's not that difficult. Apply some personal hygiene to yourself, and then the rest of us might be able to bear travelling in the métro in summer.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Am I a frickin' walkin' guide book?

In the last two days, several people have stopped me and asked for directions. Normally this doesn't happen, so normally I am free to wander about the city without being harrassed by random tourists.

I don't mind helping the odd tourist out here and there, but 4 times in 2 days? Really people!

Three incidents involved friendly people, but one wasn't actually a tourist, but a native Parisian who needed to find his way to the Bibliothèque Pompidou. I gave him clear directions to the Centre Pompidou, and he said, rather condescendingly, that he wasnted the BIBLIOTHÈQUE, not the CENTRE, and then, noticing my accent in français, said, also condescendingly, booook. Stupid twit. I told him that I'd never heard of the Bibliothèque Pompidou, so he'd have to find it himself. It turns out the Bibliothèque is part of the Centre, and therefore my directions were accurate and useful. Stupid git.

The first chap today to ask me for directions accosted me on rue des Halles and asked for directions to the Notre Dame, which was simple enough from that position. I don't know why he thanked me many times before I'd actually finished giving him the instructions, and then walked off in the correct direction, also before I'd finished. Oh well, at least he was polite. He was Japanese though, not French, and therefore it isn't surprising that he was more polite than the Parisian nitwit in the above paragraph.

The second person today was actually a group, though with a spokesperson. They wanted to know how to get to the Forum des Halles, and we were mere steps away from Les Halles at the time, so that was also easy. I got the feeling though, that they didn't exactly believe my instructions, but I think they followed them anyway, and shouldn't have had a problem.

The first of the bunch (yes, this is in a weird order) wanted to get to Rue de Rivoli from Bd de Sébastopol, which, considering it's an intersection, was also easy peasy.

But seriously, do I look like the Paris Janet* on legs?

Maybe it's Kat's influence. The incidents yesterday occurred while Kat, Nat and I were walking to the Pompidou, and the two today happened while I was walking to the RER with Kat. When I'm on my own, people rarely ask me. I think I'll blame Kat.

* Janet = Lonely Planet

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pompidou! Third Time Lucky

Finalement, j'ai réussi à entrer dans le centre George Pompidou. C'est la troisième fois que j'essayais d'y aller. La première fois, le centre était fermé à cause d'une grève, et la deuxième fois c'était un mardi, est le centre est normalement fermé le mardi, mais je ne le savais pas.

In English: I finally succeeded in entering the Pompidou Centre, Paris' modern art museum. It was definitely a case of "third time lucky" because it was the third time I'd tried to gain access; the first two being unsuccessful because of a strike and because it was a Tuesday and the centre is always closed on Tuesdays (though I wasn't aware of this before I tried to enter on a Tuesday).

I went with Nat and Kat, who are currently in Paris. Nat leaves tomorrow, and Kat will stay for a few more days.

I enjoyed a lot of the art in the museum, specifically the red rhino (see below) and several Magrittes. The building itself is also very cool, of course. I also appreciated a straw aeroplane that had lots of knives, scissors, and other sharpies stuck in it, all of which were handed over to the security checkpoint at the airport in Rio (or maybe Sao Paolo - it was definitely in Brazil).



For more photos, click here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ils s'en vont, et je n'aime pas ça

Another friend is leaving Paris tomorrow. That's the second in only 2 weeks, and the 4th this year. 3 of them have gone "home" and one is French and has left to try living in Taiwan for a while.
Je pense que la vie change trop vite, des fois, j'aime bien les changements, mais aussi, des fois, je ne les aimes pas. Pas du tout. Je sais aussi que j'ai fait la même chose ; Ça fait le troisième pays dans lequel j'habite (je ne compte pas Angleterre, car j'y étais pendant seulement six semaines). Quand même, je ne le supporte pas.

J'éspère que leurs aéroglisseurs soient toujours plein d'anguilles.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Me? Sarcastic?




You're Totally Sarcastic



You sarcastic? Never! You're as sweet as a baby bunny.

Seriously, though, you have a sharp tongue - and you aren't afraid to use it.

And if people are too wimpy to deal with your attitutde, then too bad. So sad.

Etz Limon

I went to the cinema this evening to see Lemon Tree, an Israeli film. I didn't realise in advance that it was based on a true story, which makes certain aspects of the film a bit sadder than I'd previously thought. It's a good film, and I recommend it if you live in a city/country where the film's been released. It's a little anti-Israel, pro-Palestine in some ways, yet it was partially funded by the Israeli Film Council. I liked the ending of the film because it didn't clarify everything, in the way that many Hollywood films are wont to do, but finished with scenes suggesting how the conflict progressed.

A quick update

I'm still alive.

It's been a while since my last post, and a lot of things have happened since then. I was just too busy and/or tired to get around to writing blog entries. At the time, I planned to write the posts and backdate them, so that the posting schedule for May would be accurate, though right now I don't think I can be bothered.

I have photos from all the places I visited in May on my picasa site, so you can follow the link to see the pics if you're interested. Since Ireland, the places were: Copenhagen, Stockholm, Strasbourg, and Mont Saint Michel & Saint Malo. Mostly only good things happened, and I enjoyed all of those places. Of course, not everything went according to plan, the biggest annoyance being camera-related; I left my camera in the seat pocket of the train from Copenhagen to Stockholm. Fortunately, I'd downloaded all the pictures onto my computer the night before, so I didn't lose many photos. I now have a new camera, which is nice, but it was an expensive thing to do. There were other travelling issues, but they all worked out for the best in the end (things like almost being late for a scheduled train departure, etc...).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Deilginis & Flight

Today we went to Dalkey, which is effectively a suburb of Dublin. We went there because we have distant relatives in the area and wanted to visit them. They took us for a walk around the hill in Dalkey from where you should be able to see magnificent views over the harbour, but there was a heavy mist there this morning and so we only saw mist. We could hear the water, so knew it must have been close, but that was the extent of our water views. The mist was great though and made for some interesting photos.

It was nice to meet our relatives (my grandmother's cousins) for me, and nice for mum to see them again (she first met them when she was in Europe with my dad in 1976).

After the visit, we returned to Baile Átha Cliath for a few hours, which gave us enough time to wander through Grafton St and then head back to the hotel to collect our baggage and head off to the airport.

Our flight was delayed by about 20mins, according to the notice in the airport, but I think it took off about 30mins behind schedule, which meant we landed about 20 to 30mins late in Paris-Beauvais. The flight was uneventful aside from the lateness, which is probably good for something like a flight.

We were both tired when we landed. I walked through the passport check, with no problems, as usual, and then saw an office selling the tickets for the bus back to Paris. We didn't have much cash on us, so I wanted to buy the tickets with my carte bleue (debit card). Unfortunately, this office didn't accept payment by cards and told me to go to the office outside the airport. So I did. With mum following me, trying to ask me something. I got to the office window, bought the tickets, and was thinking about jumping on the bus which was right there, when mum finally got the chance to ask me where our bags were. Bugger. I'd forgotten to collect them, and we'd passed through the "customs" check already. I returned to the airport, and explained my mistake to the information desk woman, who was actually rather friendly, and she told me to go in through the security doors to get the bags, after seeing our boarding passes. Luckily it all ended well, though if mum hadn't been there, I may have only remembered halfway to Paris on the bus, which would have been very annoying indeed.

So, we're back in Paris now. Ireland was fantastic, and I want to return one day.

Photos of the flight here.

It's late, after midnight, and time for bed.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Domhnach

Today we went to the most popular Irish tourist attraction: The Guinness Storehouse. I was impressed and surprised by the museum, and had a great time there. I think everyone visiting Baile Átha Cliath should do it. I've uploaded quite a few photos of the visit, including a few taken in the bar at the top of the factory, where each visitor receives his/her free pint of the blonde in the black dress. The view from this bar over Dublin was spectacular, and the weather was perfect.

The pint was delicious, and I think a good number more are going to follow its path through my digestive system in the future.

After the Guinness Storehouse, we visited a lot more of Dubhlinn, including the famous statue of a famous Irish Lass, Molly Malone, otherwise known as 'The Tart with the Cart', 'The Dish with the Fish', 'The Trollop with the Scallop' and probably numerous others. It's said that she was celibate... she'd celibate here, celibate there...

We were planning on taking a river cruise along the Liffey, but changed our minds when we discovered that the cruises had been cancelled for the afternoon due to an extremely low tide.

Dinner on Sunday night was at an Irish restaurant called Flanagan's, where we were served by a waitress from Toowoomba. We both had Irish stew, which was delicious, but filling. I thought I was going to explode. It was so filling that I wasn't able to entirely finish off my dessert!

Check out some electronic photographs of Sunday in Dublin here.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Baile Átha Cliath

After leaving Bóthar na Trá, we headed straight to Baile Átha Cliath (Dublin). We thought we had to have the rental car back at the agency by 4pm because that's the time we were told the agency in the city centre closed, and we didn't relish the idea of having to drive back to the aerfort to return it there. We rang the agency on the way back to get directions because the free map they'd given us was next to useless, and they told us that they were open until 5:30pm, which was a bonus for us.

Because of the extra time, we checked into the hotel first and dumped our bags there to avoid having to cart them to the hotel from the agency. The rental company (like most others) require the cars to be returned with a full tank of petrol, and it turns out that petrol stations are hard to find in Dublin if one isn't a local. Eventually we found one in an obscure side-street, returned the car, and then headed back to the centre of Dubhlinn.

Because we were tired, we just walked around the centre of Dublin, and had a look through the Temple Bar area, which is interesting, and somewhere I'd like to spend some more time. After our walk, we were both hungry and thought that fish and chips would be a great idea for dinner (and it was a great idea - delicious). After dinner, back to the hotel for an early(ish) night.

Photos!.

We were both amused to see a bar called "Ned Kelly's Sportsclub". I know, Kelly's a good Irish name, and it's possible that it's not named after the bushranger.

Gallimh & Bóthar na Trá

This morning after breakfast we wandered over to the Cathedral in Galway, just to have a look, as it looked like a nice building when we passed it on the way to through last night. The building is quite impressive and made of stone that looks like the stuff used to build the fences all over the countryside. The photos of the cathedral are in the same folder as yesterday's Gallimh photos. We walked past the pub with the Guinness signs on the way back to the b&b to collect the car and head off to Bóthar na Trá and Baile Átha Cliath.

Bóthar na Trá (Salthill) is a beach/holiday area just next to Gallimh. It was really windy and a little rainy when we were there, so it didn't exactly appeal as a beach holiday destination, but maybe we've been spoilt with places like Noosa. As a town/village, Salthill is picturesque, and quaint. In spite of the freezing weather, we saw a couple of guys go swimming in the sea, while their friends watched on (their friends were wearing thick, weather-proof jackets). I really hope it was just done as a dare, or perhaps the swimmers lost a bet of some sort. I didn't take any photos of Bóthar na Trá's swimmers, but here are some other pics.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Cathair na Mart, Conamara and Gaillimh

This morning we returned to Ballinagh for another look around, as we had a lead on a possible distant relative who may have been able to show us which farm house my grandmother was born in, but when we got there the house was deserted so while it was definitely a very old farm house, we don't know if it's 'the' very old farm house, or even if 'the' very old farm house is still standing.

With the help of our rental car, we made our way over to Westport (Cathair na Mart), where we stopped briefly at a restaurant/café on the quay for lunch. The food was delicious, and I'd recommend the walnut and something* encrusted cod. After lunch we installed ourselves in the car once more and drove through Connemara, which meant passing through amazingly beautiful scenery. We stopped along the road a couple of times to get out of the car for some photo opportunities, but for the most part, we kept going as there were really very few places where one could safely stop a car along those roads – mostly narrow, with no road shoulders, and somehow two-way, and with a speed limit of 100km/h, which was impossible on most of it – I think I probably averaged about 60 to 70.

This evening, at about 4:00pm, we arrived in Galway, and about an hour later, due to heavy traffic and a slight case of being geographically embarrassed, we arrived at our hotel (actually a b&b). We checked in, dumped our bags, and then headed out for a walk through Gaillimh's main streets. Galway's much bigger than either of us were expecting, and the size caught us by surprise, which was one of the reasons for the earlier geographical embarrassment. I like Gaillimh so far, from what I've already seen of it.
On the way to Galway, when we were in Clifden (maybe), we saw a highway sign directing people to turn left for Galway, but there was nowhere to turn left for quite some distance, which was amusing and a bit confusing.

Of course there are photos from today: Cathair na Mart, Conamara, and Gaillimh.

* It was specified on the menu, but I've forgotten what it was.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Béal Átha na nEach

Ballinagh, or Bellananagh, or Béal Átha na nEach. The first two spellings are the English names, and the third is the Irish. Apparently the first is the correct one, even though the second appears on some road signs and maps. Actually, road signs and maps use either, depending on the mood of the person who printed them, as far as I can tell, as it seems fairly random. I think it would be confusing for someone looking for directions if they didn't know that the two were the same town.

It's a small town, with about 2 main streets, but 2 or 3 pubs, of course. My grandmother was born in this town, which was the reason we visited it, as it isn't exactly a major tourist mecca. It was interesting to see Ballinagh from a historical/family perspective, as my grandma mentioned it many times, and it was good to finally see the place. It seems to be a friendly town, as most people said hello to us on the street, even though we were obviously complete strangers; a far cry from some other towns and cities, such as the one I currently live in, and another that I have lived in. Clicking here will magically transport you to some photos of the town.

After Bellananagh we returned to An Cabhán to take a look around and walk down the main street in the old part of the town. It's much bigger than Béal Átha na nEach, yet still a fairly small town. More photos from Cavan can be found here.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

An Cabhán

We stopped in Cavan for lunch at a great Irish restaurant, and had leg of roast lamb for lunch (see photos) and then dessert (but I ate it too quickly and forgot to take a picture). The meal was delicious and now I feel extremely full, and I think if I ate anything now I'd explode and shower the room with a mixture of intestines, lamb and chocolate. It would be an interesting approach to interior decorating. Cavan's a small town, though it seems quite friendly, and the waiters in the restaurant were incredibly friendly and helpful, as is the owner of the B&B where we're staying, which is such a culture shock after France. We're going to head over to Bellananagh soon to have a look around.

Flight to Dublin and Hire Car

We flew to Dublin with Ryanair after waking up at the ghastly hour of 5am because we needed to leave home at 5:30am to get to Porte Maillot on time for the bus to the airport at Beauvais, which is light years from Paris. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:30am, and that meant being at Porte Maillot by 6:15 for the bus as it's necessary to be there 3 hours and 15 minutes before the departure time. We were a little bit early, but that's better than the alternative, and so we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, and had breakfast. Our flight boarded at 9:35am, which obviously means it was delayed for some reason, but we made up time in the air and landed in Dublin exactly as scheduled. After collecting our baggage and going through passport control etc., we collected the hire car and headed off towards Cavan.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Montmartre

Today we (Mum and I) went to Montmartre, which is the cool, artistic(ish) area of Paris. We followed a walking guide from a guide book (not the Janet). The walking track we followed was great and we passed a lot of amazing sites, buildings, streets, etc. We stopped for lunch at a creperie, where the crepes were delicious, and then headed over to see the Sacre Coeur. I'd seen it before, of course, but I'd never made the trek to the top of the dome, through tight spiral staircases before, so we went to the top. Not surprisingly, my legs are very sore right now. The view from the top was great, all over Paris, and like yesterday, the weather was perfect for such an expedition.
After Montmartre, we went to meet Nat, Clair and Ruby for dinner at a restaurant called Chartier, which is a traditional, cheap, French establishment, which has been in operation since 1896 (I think). The food was great, and not too expensive. The waiter wrote our order on the table cloth and then wrote the cost there too as he added up the final bill. I think it would be amusing if you needed to take the receipt home to claim the cost back. If you want to see photos of the day click here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mum, La Défense, and the Champs Élysées

Mum arrived in Paris this morning. At 7am. This meant that I had to make my way to the airport to meet her. On a Saturday. This was cruel.

After returning to my apartment and having a cup of tea, we headed over to La Défense, specifically to go up to the top of La Grande Arche. Photos are here. The view from the top of the Grande Arche is magnificent, and the weather was fantastic, which also helped. Inside, on the top floor, there are several exhibition spaces. One of these was occupied by a museum of computers and IT. It was really well-done, and interesting. It's amusing to note that many of the "old" computers date back to the 80's, or even earlier - ancient history in the computer world!
Another space was host to a gallery of cool paintings of the sort that you look at for 30 seconds and then look away, at a blank section of the wall, to see the real image. It was quite effective, and a novelty at first, so I tried with many of them, but I couldn't be bothered doing the whole collection.

After La Défense, we caught the métro back to Charles de Gaulle-Étoile, which is the top of the Avenue des Champs Élysées, which we proceeded to walk down, heading back to my apartment. This walk went down the entire avenue, then through the Tuileries Garden, and then along the Seine before going grocery shopping (how exciting!) and back home. Photos taken during the walk are here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I agree

This photo/postcard is part of the published postcards on PostSecret this week. Someone has left this comment: "Your father's success was raising four children who can think for themselves."

I couldn't agree more.

I was high with my students

Today my two students who work in the Montparnasse Tower invited me to lunch with them and two of their colleagues. The food was great and these students are friendly, as are their colleagues. After lunch they took me to the top of the tower because people who work there are given free tickets to the observation deck. The weather was fairly nice (though there was a little bit of a glare) and the view from the top of the tower is fantastic.

It's the tallest tower/building in Paris (210m) and the 9th tallest in the EU, and so you can expect the view to be impressive. I've posted the album, so you can see the photos from the day over there, on the right-hand side of this blog. The first three pictures were taken from my student's office, and then you can see a picture of my lunch, followed by the pictures taken in the tourist area (observation floor and deck).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What I did on my weekend

What I did on my weekend:
(I don't think this blog post is going to become a revolutionary document that plunges the entire empire into turmoil. It's a weekend, not a holiday, after all.)

On Saturday night I went to the cinema at UGC Cité, Les Halles, to see The Spiderwick Chronicles (VO, of course). I wasn't expecting it to be a brilliant piece of cinema, but I enjoyed it. There was at least one obvious Harry Potter reference/incident of plagiarism. The special effects were good and the child actors weren't bad. I was worried that the actors would be a problem as chold actors often are in films in general.

On Sunday morning I went to the laudrette, which isn't terribly exciting, and to show how boring it was, there was a woman asleep on the couch in there. It was 10am.

After lunch I caught up with Nat, Clair and Ruby who were in Paris for a night before heading off to the south of France for about a week. It was great to see them again. We walked around Ile de la Cité (the island in the Seine with the Notre Dame). After an hour or so, we parted because I had a rendez-vous with a French friend, which was only a brief meeting, so afterwards I visited the abovementioned family and their friends at their hotel for dinner, so I got to hang out for a few more hours with them. It rained on the walk from their hotel to the métro.

So that was my weekend. It was nice, but not revolutionary.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

La Poste

Several weeks ago, I was told of a site called cdiscount. I was warned that sometimes the purchases never arrive, so not to buy expensive items from the site. I've made two purchases and I haven't yet had a problem, and the items arrived very quickly both times. The only thing that has surprised me is the size of the packaging that they use. I think it must be packed by a machine, as it looks like two large pieces or cardboard are just glued together with the items inside.

Here's a photo of the package as it arrived today:



and here's a photo with a DVD on top to show the scale of the package. Bear in mind that it contained just 2 DVD's and a CD:



The first time I bought from this site, the packaging was about the same. It seems excessive for the size of the items inside, but they arrived in good condition, so I'm happy.

This time I bought, as I said above, 2 DVD's and a CD. The CD is Amy Winehouse, Back to Black and the DVD's are The Others and It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (which is the title that can be seen in the above photo).

Update on Le Chat Noir

The dismantling of Le Chat Noir has finished and renovations are taking place. The windows have acquired A4 signs informing us that it will reopen on the 21st of April. The old decor wasn't exactly anything worth writing home about, so it won't take much to improve it.

Metro Issues

Aside from the strikes, my experiences with the metro here have been mostly positive - the trains are efficient and regular, it's convenient, inexpensive, etc. However, on Wednesday, I experienced two separate problems.

The first of these problems occurred on line 9 (direction: Mairie de Montreuil) on my way from Meudon to the Champs Elysees, as I had a French lesson. The train stopped at La Muette and stayed there for quite some time. The driver announced that we were waiting because of an "Incident maladie voyageur" (a sick commuter). This announcement was made several times during the 15 minutes that we had to wait at the station. The station itself made a similar announcement, but instead of blaming a sick persion, they said that it was due to a technical problem. Hmmm... The term "technical problem" is often used as a euphemism for "some git jumped in front of the train", which would also be covered by "maladie voyageur".

The second problem was on RER A, as I was trying to get home from my French lesson. I hopped on the train at Charles de Gaulle-Etoile and waited on the train for about 10 minutes before it left the station. Once again the official reason was a "technical problem". The train then came to a holt about halfway between Etoile and Auber and sat there for a few minutes. Upon finally arriving at Auber, we were informed that there'd be a 10-minute delay before the train would be able to move on towards Chatelet, so I decided to get off and head for line 7, which also goes from Auber (technically from Opera, but the two stations are linked) to Chatelet, though normally it's slower because there are more stations. Thankfully line 7 was devoid of problems.

Today, once again on the way home from Meudon, I was on line 9. I get on line 9 at Pont de Sevres (the start/end of the line, depending on your direction), which is good because I always get a seat. Anyway, today before the train left the station, there was an announcement saying that the traffic was experiencing delays over the whole line due to another technical problem. The problem must have been solved before I got there though, as I didn't notice anything abnormal, fortunately.

I don't know if any or all three cases were due to suicides, or suicide attemps, but I've been told by many people that jumping in front of a train (metro, RER, or Grandes Lignes) is the most common method of topping oneself in Paris and its suburbs, so I wouldn't be surprised. I can't find any statistics to support this claim, aside from an average of 61 people per year, 41% of whom are women.

Friday, April 18, 2008

TF1

So, I was on TV. A channel called TF1. I go each Tuesday night to a meeting of people who do language exchanges. It has significantly helped my French, and I help others with their English. I've also spoken a bit of Polish there.

Last Tuesday night, the 15th of April, there were television cameras there to film it, for some reason. I didn't really want to be shown on TV, so I tried to avoid the cameras, as did a friend. This friend was successful, but I wasn't. In fact, there's quite an obvious shot of me.

Here's the link.
The link is to the entire 30min news broadcast, and the segment about my group starts at about the 16min40 mark. Sometimes the time is shown, otherwise not. Anyway, if you scroll along to about the middle of the progress bar, you should be able to find it.
Here's a screen shot showing a view of me:



(oh, by the way, the name tags that they show with our names and which languages we speak only appeared as a special thing for the news cameras, we normally don't bother.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Delicates or Permanent Press?

I found the following two warning labels on a washing machine (they're on the same machine) at my local laundromat. Obviously the major difference is that one's in English and one's in French.




It looks like French speakers are more sensible than English speakers, because the French speakers apparently don't need to be told not to put people into the washer. Perhaps some English speakers forget to remove their clothes before putting the clothes in the machine.

(The pics are a little blurry because I took them with my phone, as I don't often take my camera with me to the laundromat.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scorpion

Scorpion: Une démonstration d'affection inattendue viendra bouleverser tous vos préjugés concernant une personne que vous ne connaissez que peu finalement.

Le Chat Noir...

... is disappearing.



The Chat Noir is the cafe that used to exist on the bottom floor of my building. I didn't even notice that it had closed and stopped operating as a cafe until this evening when I walked past it (as I have to to get to my door, seen to the right of the cafe) and noticed that the exterior section has been almost completely dismantled and it looked like there wasn't much left inside either. I'll take some pictures tomorrow and post them, if I get a chance.

I know it's spring, but they've taken the concept of "spring cleaning" to the extreme.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Eurostar, jeszcze raz

Na prawdę - Będę jechać do Londynia z Eurostar'em. Czy chcesz wiedzić, będę w Anglii na 3 lipca, o 17:34 godzina. Będę wyjechać od Londynia i jechać do Cold Ash następnego dnia, ale nie wiem o ktorej. To jest mniej trudny i tańszy niż lot, bo mieszkam blisko do Gare du Nord, kto jest dworzec Eurostary'ego w Paryziu.

Eurostar

C'est confirmé ; Je voyagerai à Londres avec l'Eurostar. Pour ceux qui veulent savoir, je serai en Angleterre le 3 juillet, à 17:34. Je quitterai Londres pour aller à Cold Ash le lendemain, mais je n'ai pas choisi mon train pour ce voyage. C'est plus facile et moins cher que voler, surtout parce que j'habite près de Gare du Nord, qui est la station d'Eurostar à Paris.

Moja Sobota

My Saturday was quite busy, and fun too, which is a bonus.
In the morning, I caught up with two friends from Brisbane who are currently gallivanting around Europe. They came bearing gifts, which was nice (and not dangerous because they aren't Greek). They gave me two packets of original TimTams!

After that rendez-vous, I went to the Musée du Luxembourg which currently has a Vlaminck exhibition. I didn't know much about Vlaminck beforehand, and definitely didn't realise that he lived around Chatou, Nanterre, etc.
I liked a lot of yer man's paintings, and the audio guide was sufficiently pompous enough to allow cynical comments, which was another definite bonus.

After the musée, we went to a crepe restaurant for late lunch/early dinner. The food was good, though we weren't really happy about the cat that was allowed to wander around the restaurant, including under the table and on the laps of various diners. I had une "Crèpe Italienne" which was a crepe with vanilla ice-cream, chocolate sauce, and a piece of tiramisu. After the restaurant, we ended up at an Irish pub where we spent a good couple of hours, before finally heading home.
I met them at the museum at 2pm and got home at about 12:30am.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Je suis allé au theâtre

Yes, it's true.
I went to see a play called "La Vie en Kit" on Friday night with a group of friends. The play was entirely in French, which made it more difficult to understand than if it had've been in English. I understood most of it, but there were times when I had to concentrate on what was being said. It was funny, and I enjoyed it. I was given the ticket as a thank-you for some translating (I translated a friend's CV into English for her).

Before the theatre, we went to a restaurant for dinner. It was a nice restaurant, and the food was delicious, but I think the meal sizes could have been a little bigger considering the prices we paid for them. I had "Magret de canard au café" (Duck filet in coffee sauce).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mes Voisins?

I think someone is occupying the apartment next to mine. This is a new development, as for at least the past 5 months, I've heard no noises from within the apartment, seen no signs of life, and not heard people walking past my apartment (which they have todo to get to the next one, unless they can fly).
Right now I can hear human, high-heeled, steps outside, and either a small dog, or a very strange yappy child.

Friday, April 04, 2008

This should not be allowed

Some 80's and 90's bands should know that reforming is not a good idea. NKOTB will soon be back. They're going to release a new album, and also go on tour.

(from The Stranger)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

02-04-08

Today's date is a geometric progression! Exciting! I noticed this fact because I had four classes today, which meant writing the date down 8 times (I need to write it twice for each class, once on the attendance sheet and once on the lesson plan sheet).
It's the only day this year that will be one, so it should be a bit special. The next one will be the first of March next year (01-03-09).

Today started off annoyingly, in spite of it being a geometric progression. I left home at the right time to allow 20 mins at the other end to have my regular hot chocolate and brioche for breakfast. This is a bit of a habit for me now when I go to Meudon-La-Forêt. This morning, however, there was a traffic jam on the RN118 (the highway between Sèvres and Meudon) and so I didn't arrive until about 10 mins before my first lesson, and there was a queue in the Brioche Dorée, which frustrated me even more. The next annoyance came when I got to the front of the queue to be told that they'd sold out of brioche. I chose a croissant instead, but it's just not the same. After that, I went across the road, with about 5 mins to spare, only to wait in the reception area for 15 mins while the receptionist tried to find a room for me for the day. I understand that they're busy and have a room shortage, but there's an English teacher there every day of the week, for the same timeslot each day, so it shouldn't really come as a surprise when we arrive, and so, I feel, they should have had enough warning to organise a room.
Anyway, one of the students from the first class turned up at reception to find out where the classroom was as well, and that really meant that I didn't get enough time to have breakfast. After finally being found a room, I decided to leave the croissant until later because they're a bit messy to eat, and just drank my hot chocolate. Things picked up after that, and the rest of the day was okay. I'd like to say that the day became exponentially more enjoyable, but I don't think this was truly the case, and I don't think there's a reliable way to quantitatively measure it.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Who's a clever boy then?

Last night, after a friend had visited and left, and I went, once again, hunting deep-fried Mars bars, I returned to my apartment. Not long after, I stepped outside for a moment and cleverly closed the automatically locking door behind me, with my keys resting inside on the shelf, conveniently next to the door. It was 10:30pm, which is rather late, and on a Sunday night, not a good time to have to call a locksmith. Luckily, my landlady lives two floors below me, and I had my mobile phone with me. Thinking that 10:30pm was really too late to be calling anyone, but also that I didn't have much choice, I rang her, expecting to wake her up and annoy her etc...
It turned out that she was still up, as she had friends visiting for the evening. She gave me a spare key, and I came back upstairs to unlock the door and retrieve my own keys, and then returned her key. When I went back to give her back the second key, she invited me in to have a glass of wine with her and her friends.

I was lucky that it happened this weekend and not next, as she'll be in the south of France for her son's wedding next weekend.

Deep-Fried Mars Bars

... are another delicacy from Scotland. I know they're available in many places around the world, if you really want them, but they originated in Scotland. I had my first one when I was there, in St Andrews. I was in St Andrews for just a few days, and while I was there, I had my second and third deep-fried Mars bars too. They're delicious, and the combination of a deep-fried Mars bar and Irn-Bru is perfect.

After buying several cans of Irn-Bru yesterday, I thought it'd be great if I could find a deep-fried Mars Bar, so I asked the omnipotent Google if it'd heard of them in Paris. I found an article mentioning a traditional English fish and chips shop that had them on the menu, so I found a listing for this restaurant and headed over there. I was hopefuly, but the article was written in 2000, so I knew that it might not still exist. Unfortunately, when I got to rue Thouin, I discovererd that "Le Chipper" has vanished, and in its place is a business called "The Hookah Lounge". Quelle Domage!

I came home without one of these deep-fried delicacies, though I have a recipe, and if I could be bothered making it myself, I could have my own supply. The biggest problem is finding something to heat and keep the oil in. Here's the recipe. I love step 5. I would have thought it was a pretty obvious step, but there are probably people around who need it spelt out in this much detail.

Here's a photo of one of the delicious treats that I had in St Andrews:



The Scots have truly invented a delicious treat. The downside of Scottish cooking is that they have quite a high rate of heart disease and heart attacks, as well as a low life expectancy, compared with other developed nations.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

L'Epicerie Anglaise Irlandaise Ecossaise

Success!
After my not-so-successful hunt for Milo, I decided to follow up on another lead for interesting food. This time it was to the English Irish Scottish Grocery Store. I was after Irn Bru.

I found the address online and made my way over to the appropriate area, and with a pretty clear idea in my head of where to find the tiny street on which it is located, I left the métro station. It's near République. I found the tuny street without any difficulty and was greeted with this sign, just as the thought "so, where's this epicerie?" floated into my head.



The shope is quite small inside, with barely enough room for a couple of customers to turn around, but the seemed to have a large amount of different products there (including some american stuff and some polish vodka).
I left the grocery store with 5 cans of Irn Bru, 1 can of golden syrup and a box of pop tarts. It was a successful mission.

Lunch Today

Well, late lunch, anyway. Or perhaps early dinner. On my way home from the Australian Shop, I realised that I was hungry and therefore should eat something. I was trying to think of what I had in my apartment that could be cooked and/or eaten and decided that I wanted to eat Chinese food, as I haven't had Chinese food since the last time. And that last time was a long time ago. I don't remember eating Chinese in France. I could have cooked something in a Chinese style myself, but I thought it'd be easier to delegate the cooking, and so I found a Chinese take-away, not far from my apartment and ordered some duck soup thing. It looked like the picture below, because the picture below is a photograph of the duck soup thing. It was nice, but not nice enough that I'm going to hurry back to this particular Chinese restaurant.

The Australian Shop

I decided earlier today to find the Australian Shop (which also sells some NZ stuff) that I'd been told about. I'd only been given a general area, but I found the shop without any difficulties. There were lots of souveniry things for sale and some food. I could have bought TimTams (original, for 5euro a packet), Marmite (though they'd sold out of Vegemite), or some macadamia things. Not a single molecule of Milo to be found, which was my main reason for hunting down this place. My Milo's almost run out and I need some more. I asked the shopkeeper if they had any Milo, and, being French, he didn't know what I was talking about, so I described it to him and informed him that it was just as important as Vegemite, if not more. He surprised me by telling me that, of all the Australians who have visited his shop, none had ever mentioned Milo before. The last revelation surprised me more than the fact that they had no Milo in stock.
I may have convinced him to order some Milo, but, like everything else in the shop, it'll probably cost an arm and a leg.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

We're trying to catch up!

Tomorrow marks the start of daylight savings time in Europe, as the continent tries to catch up to Australia. It's only one hour, so there needs to be another 8 of them to bring France/Europe into line with Brisbane time. Today, Brisbane is 9 hours ahead of France/Europe, but tomorrow it'll be only 8 hours.

This means that this time tomorrow it won't be.

Damn suspicious packages

I had to wait about 30 mins today before being allowed to go near the platform at the train station at Robinson (the end of one of the southern branches of RER B). The reason we weren't allowed near the platform was that there was a suspicious package left on an earlier train and the police had to make sure it wasn't going to explode before letting the general public near the train in question. It was frustrating because it was raining and there wasn't a lot of undercover area left after the station had been closed. It was also frustrating because I usually go home from work on Fridays via a different route, but the normal route involves a bit of a walk, through a muddy forest*, and because it was raining, a student who was leaving at the same time as me offered to drive me to Robinson. It should have been a lot quicker than my usual route of Bus 291, metro 9 and then either 1 or 14 (depending on where I choose to change). After we were allowed to board the train, it was quite quick back to Chatelet.
I tried to take a photo of the train, and station, when it was desserted, but an RATP staff member told me that it was forbidden, and that I had to put my camera back in my pocket. What? Since when is taking photos of trains forbidden? A couple of French people who were standing near me were surprised at this rule too, and one even said that I should quickly take the photo after the employee had left, but I didn't want to risk it as the place was under surveillance.


* The forest is almost always slightly muddy, and I suspect it would be even in a drought, so during and just after the rain, it's not a pleasant walk.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Au Cinéma

I went to the cinema last night. I had wanted to see Sweeney Todd for a long time, since its release, essentially. So, I decided to go at the weekend. I went to a cinema called MK2 (Parnasse), which is near métro Vavin. It was a small cinema, and I think the film is nearing the end of it's cinema run, but the screen was big enough. Many cinemas in paris haven't grasped the concept of stadium seating yet, so I was fortunate that this session wasn't packed, so I didn't have to peer between heads to see the screen.

I really liked the film, and I knew only the basics of the storyline before I went in, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I felt, however, that the bit with the crazy, homeless woman at the end was fairly predictable.

It was directed by Tim Burton, and I think he's usually a good director, and it was one of the reasons I wanted to see this film, but Sweeney Todd isn't nearly as good as The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Another Number Post

For those who like numbers, the last post, 4567 was my 333rd post on this blog.

In other news, I have a USB cable so now my printer and computer can talk to each other. I tried to print something to test it and I didn't add enough paper to the paper tray, so when it couldn't find any more paper, a message popped up telling me to add paper and then press the OK button. Ok, logical enough. I added more paper, and then searched on the printer for the OK button, but to no avail. In the end I pressed ANNULER* (to cancel). This button is apparently the OK button as well, or perhaps just sometimes. Anyway, the printer works (l'imprimante marche).

* The printer was bought in France, so the labels are in French

Thursday, March 20, 2008

4567

Visitor number 4567* recently viewed my blog. Who can take the credit for it?
4567 lives in Brisbane, accesses my blog via bigpond, uses windows xp and internet explorer 7.0, and the system language is set to Australian English. This particular visit lasted 3mins and 23seconds.
I'm pretty sure I know who this person is. So, congratulations, Angie, on being the 4567th visitor!

For some trivia:
4567 is Noosa's postcode.
4567 is an Arithmetic Progression.
4567 is the smallest** 4-digit prime number with four consecutive increasing numbers.



* Since I installed sitemeter
** As Mark can confirm, it's not the smallest prime number, as 27 is a prime number and smaller than 4567. Obviously.

Imprimante, scanner, copieur

I have inherited a printer/scanner/copier. Cris (a colleague from work) has left Paris and returned to London, and he decided that he didn't want to lug the device across the chunnel and so offered it to me. I need to buy a usb cable in order to make it and my computer talk to each other, but it's a standard cable and so I don't think it'll be too hard to find.

For those who want to do extra reading, it's an HP Photosmart C3180.

Thanks Cris!

Jak jest twoja głowa?

- Mamo, w szkole koledzy mówią że mam kwadratową głową

- Aleś nie synku, wcale nie masz kwadratowej głowy.
(with appropriate actions)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Google's right

I like google's answer to this query.

Táim Éireannach and coffee testing

Yes, that's right: táim Éireannach.

Tabhair póg dom, táim Éireannach!
(Kiss me, I'm Irish!)

Happy St. Paddy's Day to you all, to be sure to be sure.
Jaysus, Irish people don't actually say that last bit.

In other news, related to today, I took part in a coffee-tasting survey. It actually sounds better than it was. I was wandering around Le Quatre Temps in La Défense on my lunch break, looking for something appetising to eat (I'm a bit over the Brioche Dorée), when a woman with a clipboard approached me and started talking to me before I had a chance to escape. Anyway, she asked for just 5 minutes of my time because she was conducting a coffee-related questionaire, so I gave in and took part, because I had nothing better to do, and felt like speaking French. Initially she just asked me questions about my coffee-drinking habits, specifically related to drinking coffee from automatic coffee-dispensing machines (they're quite common in companies around Paris/France). I occasionally do take coffee from these machines, mostly when I need a quick caffeine boost as the stuff that comes out of them rarely tastes like coffee, and the tea that these machines produce is like the cup of "tea" made by the Nutrimatic in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy*. After we finished the questions on the survey, she led me to a small room in a storage area of the shopping centre where I was asked to drink to espressos from different machines and to rate their taste, appearance, smell etc and then comment on which one I preferred. I got the impression that they wanted me to say that the second coffee was better because of the way it was presented, but it was irrelevant as it was by far the better tasting anyway (it actually resembled coffee in some ways).
I was asked to rate things like the quality of the froth on top, the smell, texture, acidity, taste, and something else that I didn't understand. I asked for an explanation and still didn't understand when one of the people running the thing poorly explained it to me, so I just selected the option that the unidentified aspect neither pleased nor displeased me.
It was an interesting process, so I didn't begrudge them wasting my time, even though the "5 minutes" turned out to take about 30 minutes.

The downside of taking part in this process was that I then didn't have time to get anything to eat for lunch, and went to my next lesson hungry and buzzing (after two fairly strong espressos).



*a concoction that tastes "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea".

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pi Day

This is just a reminder to everyone that tomorrow (March 14th) is Pi Day. Enjoy the day, and think of π (pi).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I do real work most days

Tomorrow I have a 6-hour observation scheduled into my timetable. Nothing else planned for the day at all. This observation essentially involves me watching another teacher for 6 hours. And getting paid for it. The block is actually three 2-hour classes and I need to be there for each one, so I get paid for the full 6 hours. I'm going to be taking over his classes on Thursdays and the client is one who the school is worried about pissing off, so they figure if the students have both of us for their lessons this week, it won't be as much of a shock to their system when I turn up next week. I'm taking over this teacher's Thursday classes because he's ditching Paris and returning to England. He's a teacher I get on well with too, which is good for the observation, but a shame in the sense that he's heading back across the chunnel. There are a few other teachers at the school who I wouldn't mind seeing the back of. One in particular, who is a complete bitch. I'm not the only person who feels this way about her, but she, unfortunately, isn't showing any signs of packing up and heading off in the near future.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Et qui étais-je?

Est-ce que j'étais rien, les impots, dieu ou des dieux, ou quelques autres choses?

J'étais un chien.
(il y a des autres réponses, bien sûr, mais ca c'est l'original)

Can you follow the logic behind the answer?

4444

My blog had its 4444th visitor recently, yesterday, at 1:28pm. I don't know who it was, except that it's someone in Paris. This person visited my site from the domain wanadoo.fr (which is Orange). At first glance, you could be mistaken for thinking that I was my own 4444th visitor, but the person in question has French as their default language, and uses microsoft internet explorer, so it's definitely not me. It could be someone French.

Remember this song?

This is a cool song, even if it is a bit old. It's from the 80's, which was a great decade for music. Fashion, not so much.

Il a neigé!

Oui, c'est vrai! A Paris!

I was out at Meudon-la-Forêt today, like most Wednesdays. At about 2pm, it begam to snow, and then continued, lightly. For about 10mins, it snowed quite heavily, which was cool to watch. It was a bit distracting during the lesson (mostly distracting for me), but je m'en fou.
I was told that it snowed in Paris as well, but only lightly, so I'm glad I was at Meudon because I got to see a lot more fall.
None of it survived long on the ground, and the snow that fell on Paris didn't have a chance. I didn't have my camera with me, so I wasn't able to take photos (I had my phone, but the photo quality isn't worth the effort).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

2 Days in Paris/2 Jours à Paris

I'm just after watching a film called 2 Days in Paris, mostly in French. There are some sections (actually about half the film) where the dialogue is in English. It was subtitled, but only the English bits were subtitled (in French) as this version was made for a Francophone audience. The film was amusing, though I thought the main guy was a bit exaggerated. I think it was a film with simple vocabulary, because I managed to understand all of it (even the bits in English!).

Je viens de regarder un film qui s'appelle 2 Jours à Paris, plutot en français. Il y a quelques parties (à peu près la moitié du film) où c'est en anglais. Il est sous-titré, mais seulement les parties anglaise sont sous-titrées (en français) car cette version était créée pour les francophones. Le film est amusant, mais j'ai pensé que l'homme est un peu exagéré. Je pense que c'est un film avec une vocabulaire simple, parce que je suis arrivé à le comprendre (même les parties en anglais!).

Monday, March 03, 2008

Skiing update

Comme j'ai déjà dit, je suis allé à Grenoble et j'ai fait du ski. When I typed that post, I couldn't remember the name of the ski station where we went skiing, so for those of you who have been waiting with baited breath, we skied at a place called Le Collet d'Allevard, which is near Sept Laux (we drove through Sept Laux to get there).

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

Je suis un homme

I like this song, for the music (okay, it's a bit on the poppy side) and also for the lyrics.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Qui suis-je?

Je suis l'homme et je suis la femme
Je ne suis ni l'homme ni la femme
Je suis l'un et ju suis l'autre
Je ne suis ni l'un ni l'autre

Qui suis-je?

Chocolat & Fromage

I was in the supermarket today, en faisant des courses, when I came across the tea/coffee/chocolate section. I saw two products that I hadn't really noticed before. One of them called "Nestlé Chocolat" and the other called "Nestlé Intense au Chocolat".

I don't think I need to tell you which one I decided to buy. The first cup of Nestlé Intense au Chocolat is sitting, half drunk, between me and the keyboard. Delicious. Plaisir & Dégustation is correct. My only criticism is that initially it wasn't sweet enough, so I had to add a few cuillères of sucre.

I also bought a small block of Tomme de Savoie, as I liked it when I was in Grenoble.

These two purchases happened because I went to a different supermarché today, after teaching in Montparnasse, over in the 14th.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cats and César

There are cats in my building. I've been living here since the fifteenth of September and I've only just seen them for the first time. I think they belong to the people who own or run one of the restaurants at the bottom of the building. I haven't worked out which one they run yet, because I haven't bothered trying. I hope they run "Le Chat Noir" because both cats are black. I saw them because I heard a noise coming from the small light well that my kitchen window opens into, and when I leant over and looked down, there were two cats and three trays of fruit and vegies on the window sill of the 1st floor apartment.

Last night was the 33rd César Awards Cérémonie. The Césars are the awards for French film and television (télévision, in French). Some people won some prizes and others didn't. I didn't pay enough attention so I can't tell you what the outcome was, even if you were interested. The reasons I mention this event is because the ceremony is held in Theatre du Chatelet, which is next door to the group of buildings that I live in, so I went out to see if anything interesting was happening. I missed the arrivals of all the stars because I was eating and finished dinner before I went down, so I only saw a few spectators, some organisers, press, and truckloads of police. A homeless man (well, he didn't look clean, smelt a bit and had bad teeth) told me that he thought the ceremony was ridiculous and that people shouldn't pay attention to it. He said a lot of other things too, but he mumbled and I haven't learnt the art of understanding French mumble yet. I didn't ask him why he was there, obviously paying attention to it.
I took some photos of the outside, and they can be found here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Well, don't you look tasty today!

48%

I'm going to be rich!

I received a letter in the mail today telling me that I'm going to be rich!

A man called Gasper Gaston, who says he's a solicitor and public notary, has written to me requesting my help. Until recently, he was the solicitor for a very wealthy man called Mr. Dunant Drake. This very wealthy man died recently and left a alrge sum of money in a Spanish bank account, just waiting for someone to collect it (9.5m euros). The problem is that Mr Gaston can't collect it himself because his name is different, but I can help him because I share a surname with the deceased man.

All I have to do is give him my bank account details so that the Spanish bank can transfer the money into my account.

At the start of the letter, he assures me that he is honest and it is legitimate.

hmmmm...

Cool and Geeky

This is incredibly cool and geeky. So much so, that if I thought I could be bothered setting it up, I'd buy a Wiimote. The one I like best is the headtracking one. For me, there aren't really any practical uses, but I'm very impressed.

Je suis allé à Grenoble.

Yes, as the title subtley suggests, I spent the weekend in Grenoble. I arrived late Friday night (at about 11:45pm) and went straight to Thomas' apartment.
On Saturday we went hiking up a nearby mountain (that really doesn't narrow it down - Grenoble is surrounded by mountains, but I can't remember which one). We were lazy in the morning and didn't leave his apartment until midday, so it was just an afternoon of hiking, after which I was tired anyway. Because we hiked through a lot of snow we needed to use snowshoes, which was cool because it was the first time I'd ever used them and they definitely made walking through the snow much easier, especially on the steep bits of the slope. The view from the top of the mountain was beautiful (see photos on the left). On the way down we decided, after walking a little, that it was more fun (not to mention quicker) to slide rather than walk down the mountain. I'd been sitting on the snow for a while so my bum was sufficiently numb that I didn't notice where the snow was bumpy (well, mostly).
On Saturday evening, Thomas, Lise, a friend of theirs, and I went to an Italian restaurant for dinner. The food was amazingly delicious, though a bit on the expensive side. We shared two antipasto platters between the four of us for entree, and we all had a piece of dead cow for main (though cooked differently, with different sauce and sides etc..). My dessert was an ile flottante (floating island: a meringue floating in a bowl of custard). The others had chocolate cake or tiramisu.
We were up early on Sunday morning in order to get as much skiing in as possible. We went to a place near Sept Laux. I can't remember the name of the station we actually went to, but I'll try to find out. I love skiing. My arms and legs are sore now from the exercise but it was worth it. I need to go more often. I started out skiing on green and blue runs to warm up remember how to do it, but by the end of the day I was on red runs (though not difficult reds) and even one black* one!
I only had one spectacular fall, where I tumbled a bit and had to retrieve equipment that hadn't fallen as far as I had. Unfortunately it was witnessed (by Thomas) so I can't pretend it didn't happen.
We left the ski field at about 5pm and got back to Grenoble just after 6pm. I had a couple of hours to rest and repack my clothes that had created a large messy pile of themselves next to my bed (of their own accord, of course), before going to the train station and returning to Paris.
A cheese called 'Tomme de Savoie' is all the rage in Grenoble at the moment (and probably has been for many many years). I saw several people buying it in the Monoprix near Thomas' place. Thomas also had some in his fridge and I tried it. It's delicious, and much better than anything advertised as "tasty".

Photos of my weekend are on Picasa** and there's a link to the album on the left of this blog.


* Okay, not really. It was signed as a black run, but I suspect it was an "ego-black" - it was easier than some of the red ones. Some resorts have taken to being a little bit generous in their classification of the difficulty of some runs, so that the people who ski there feel like they're better.
** I had problems with Flickr, so I'm trying Picasa for a while to see which I prefer.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Movie

I went to the cienma last night. I saw Juno. It's hilarious. I'm not going to tell you that you should see it, instead I'm going to just say: SEE IT!

I saw it at the cinema complex in the dome in La Defense. French cinemas (well, Francilien ones anyway) are strange; they herd you out a different door when you exit, possibly to stop you wandering into another cinema instead of leaving. The exits they send you through feel like fire exits, and small dingy alleys. It feels like the cinema staff regard you as dirty filth now that your movie has finished.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Phlegm News!

If you happen to do a Google Blog Search for 'Phlegm' you'll be pleased to discover that my blog is the fourth listing! Cool!
How did I discover this, you may well ask? Well, I didn't actually do the abovementioned search just for the hell of it, but my sitemeter told me that it was how someone from India found their way to my blog. Of course, I then did the search to verify it.

In case you're interested, the search term "naked arse man" seems to bring a lot of random people to my blog, and it's the main cause of non-regular readers stumbling their way here.