Thursday, September 25, 2008

Office of Babel

I intentionally avoid posting about work for several reasons the main one being that I’d rather not get dooced. However, this post has more to do with languages than my job so I’ll make an exception. At the moment, about 40% of the people in my office are French with the rest of us being from various countries. All of us, except one guy (an English speaker), are fully fluent in a second language. One coworker speaks 4 languages, another one speaks 3 with knowledge of a 4th and a few others have basic to conversational knowledge of a 3rd language.

Recently, someone from one of the local offices in another country visited and it turns out that he speaks 6 languages - but then again he’s Dutch and they tend to polyglots to the extreme. In addition to realizing that we should be careful about what we say in any language, because someone might understand, I felt a bit inept, since I speak “only” 2 languages with very basic knowledge of a 3rd. Anyone started working on a universal translator implant yet?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


If you have big hair, long hair or a ponytail - please be careful with it while on public transportation. Your fellow riders don’t want a face-full of your hair.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Arènes de Lutèce

This past weekend, the Brit and I finally made it to the Arènes de Lutèce - a park in Paris that was once a Gallo-Roman amphitheater. There were some kids who appeared to be training for parkour and other kids played soccer in the middle of the park. There was one boy with glasses playing with a ball by himself. I felt bad that the other kids weren't including him in their game. But he'll probably grow up to start some tech company, make gazillions of euros and hire the other kids to mow his multi-acre lawn.

Read about Les Arènes de Lutèce
here or here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

La Rentrée

What does la rentrée mean for Seattleite? A crowded commute both ways and at least one crying/screaming child on the bus every single morning…

Monday, September 8, 2008

Parisian Bitchy

Warning – big generalization coming up.

What is it with Parisian women and the high bitchiness/aggression level? A colleague and I went to grab lunch and as I was paying, a middle-aged woman came up right beside me and clearly thought she would be next. This, despite the large number of people waiting in several lines.

When my transaction was done I angled myself trying to block the lady so my colleague could go next, but the lady reached around me to give her ticket resto to the cashier. I could tell the cashier wasn’t going to say anything so I did. I looked at the cashier and the lady and said that my colleague was next in line. The woman behind my colleague also piped in and told bitch-lady that there was a line.

Bitch-lady replied that she already had her money out and might as well pay. When that didn’t work, she acted innocent and said that she didn’t see the line and went to the back.

A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have said anything. But I find this kind of behavior to be not uncommon with women in this city and I was tired of it. Is this taught in Parisian schools? The girls take Intro to Bitchiness while the guys go to Dragueur 101? And it seems to get worse with age- little old Parisian women are professors of bitchiness! If this lady (who looked around 50ish) had been 20-30 yrs older I wouldn’t have bothered saying anything, because after 60 or so, the nastiness level can increase exponentially (each year).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Alaska is an Island?

On the way back from lunch, a colleague asked me the name of the island state near Hawaii. I asked her if she meant Guam or the Mariana islands which are territories rather than states, but those weren't it. I told her Puerto Rico and the US virgin islands are other territories, but are in the Atlantic ocean. She said she had looked at an electoral map and it had a large island near Hawaii.

I couldn't help but laugh when I explained that the large island, wasn't an island at all, but was Alaska. I told her that the electoral maps usually stick Alaska and Hawaii near the continental 48 so we don't have to look at the non-US land in between (i.e. Canada).

When we got back to the office she showed me the
link then went on about how there should be a box around Hawaii and Alaska on the map so people don't think that's the actual layout. I pointed out that it wasn't made for foreigners who can't vote in the election.

But based on how much red there is on the map...there may be a lot of Americans who also think that Alaska is a large island next to Hawaii.