Thursday, December 17, 2009

Paris Snow



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Lady Wears Red

A long red scarf appeared on the statue in Place de la Republique a few days ago. The scarf is crossed in the front and there is also a new flag which appears to have something on it about AIDS, so I assume the statue’s new attire is related to the recent World AIDS Day. Mobile phone photos are below.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sidewalk Chalk Art


These photos (forgive the quality, they were taken with a camera phone at night) are of drawings done near one of the République metro exits and about a week earlier we passed the artist drawing on a sidewalk near Porte St Martin. He does the amazing drawings in colored chalk on Paris sidewalks and puts a note asking for money in return.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nip/Tuck Meets The Sopranos

When I checked my email this morning, there was a Facebook message about a pair of former clients (I used to work in ad agencies) in the Seattle area. One of the two has been arrested by the FBI and charged with attempting to hire a hitman to kill the other (his business partner) and a former colleague. He asked an employee who, depending on which article you read, is either Russian or Ukranian if he had any contacts in the Russian mafia. The employee contacted the FBI and the accused is currently in jail awaiting trial. Apparently he thought he could not only have two people killed but also profit from the life insurance policy of his partner. I always thought he was a bit weird and kinda creepy, but this is beyond crazy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Highlands

The Brit and I are headed back to Scotland for a few days. Here are some photos from our last trip.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

La vie est chère

I was standing on the sidewalk reading a book while waiting for someone when a middle aged man appeared in front me saying that life is expensive. I pretended not to understand French so he repeated the phrase in English. For a brief moment I considered pretending that I didn’t understand English either, but since I was holding a book in English I figured that wouldn’t work.

The man continued babbling about life being more expensive these days, his lack of hair and how great it is that Obama is President while I started backing up to get out of spittle-flying range. Then, out the blue, he told me that he wanted to have coffee with me. I said no and his response was “I don’t want to make love; I just want to buy you a coffee.” I told him I couldn’t because I was waiting for someone. He said “You’re busy” then walked off while telling me that I would learn French. This is definitely one of my oddest Parisian encounters…

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Paris = perverts?

Paris has a reputation for being a city of Romance, but the writer of this article has a different view. Be sure to read some of the comments, because they are just as (perhaps more) interesting than the article.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Americans are bad lovers?

According to a recent poll, American men are amongst the world’s worst lovers. Find out about the others here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Nuit blanche

Tonight is nuit blanche, details here and here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Les sans papiers


This past weekend, the Brit and I were walking around exploring my new neighborhood a bit when we came upon a group of people with various tarps up. My first thought was that they were breaking down a street market, but as we continued down the street I saw several signs. The people were sans papiers or without papers - immigrants who are in France without legal status. This was a few days before the French government disbanded the immigrant camp near Calais known as “the jungle”. The people we encountered had signs declaring that they’d gone 18 months as sans papiers without regularisation.

I occasionally whinge about the annoyances of having to renew my carte de sejour every year, however seeing these people reminded me how fortunate I am in having been able to come to France legally. There was a brief period after grad school when my legal status in France was questionable. But I had a place to live and I knew if things didn’t work out I could pack up and go home to a comfortable life. How many of the sans papiers can say the same?



Q&A: Calais camp migrants' rights

In pictures: Calais camp cleared

Police clear French migrant camp

French police bulldoze immigrant camp near Calais

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cougar extreme

You’ve probably heard about this one already, but just in case… A 107 year old Malaysian woman is looking for her 23rd husband. That’s right one hundred and seven years old. She’s currently married to a man who’s 37, but she’s afraid that he might leave her for a younger woman while he’s in rehab.

While I think it’s kind of sad she’s worried about losing her hubby, I think it’s wonderful that a woman this age is still active enough to look for her next significantly younger spouse. Madonna and Demi don’t have anything on this lady. Read about it
here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To kiss or not to kiss…

It appears that residents of France, the land of romance, may have to curb their propensity to get close and kiss. Due to swine flu fears, French authorities have recommended that people stop kissing and have even gone so far in some locations as to ban giving les bises .

Anyone who has been to France knows that les bises are an integral part of French culture. Friends and family greet each other with bises; in certain social settings when meeting someone new you exchange bises; one of my former managers even greeted all of his female direct reports and colleagues with bises each morning. It remains to be seen how effective the close contact avoidance recommendations and bans will be. I however am skeptical…

For more about it click
here or here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sarko’s Napoleon complex

It’s been said that Sarkozy has issues with his height and if the latest news is to be believed, he’s gone to new extremes to appear taller. During a recent visit to a factory, some employees selected to stand behind the president claim they were chosen because they were short.

Read about it
here

Friday, September 4, 2009

Now I have two British loves…

There are a few places I’ve visited that I fell in love with immediately and the Highlands have been added to the list. For our summer vacation, the Brit and I decided to go to Scotland and being the last minute people that we are, we ended up booking things the day before we left.

We took the ferry to Dover and during the ferry ride, the Brit reminded me of a little kid on his way to the candy store. The closer we got, the more excited he became. While Scotland was our destination, the Brit took advantage of us being in a car to further his goal of convincing me that England is a nice place. I got a glimpse into his pre-Seattleite life when he showed me where he lived until he was about 10. We also stopped by the city where he attended university and considering some of the stories he has from his uni days, I was surprised there weren’t armed police ready to haul him off as soon as he entered the city. Before heading across the now non-existent border, we overnighted in Nottingham and had drinks at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, which claims to be the oldest Inn in England.

Our first stops in Scotland were Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Edinburgh International and Fringe Festivals were on, so the city was pretty crowded.

Tip for anyone who likes cocktails and plans on heading to Edinburgh: go to dragonfly. The Brit and I agreed that we had the best cocktails we’ve ever tasted in Europe at dragonfly. But if you go, make sure that the guy bartender makes your drinks. My first drink was made by a young looking blond chick and it tasted like fruit juice.

We left the big cities and my jaw probably dropped as we headed into the Highlands. I’d seen photos and films, but there is nothing like seeing the heather-covered hills and lochs in person. Our first stop was on the Isle of Islay. We stayed at a nice B&B called Glenegedale House run by a lovely couple named Rachel and Alisdair. One of the options for breakfast was kippers smoked over whiskey barrels which were beyond amazing. Similar to our Ireland trip I let myself get dragged along to a few distilleries. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of whisky, but much to my surprise and the Brit’s delight we found some whiskies that I actually liked (smoky island whiskies). Being on the small island was definitely a change from Paris. Restaurants stop serving around 9 and I’m sure there are more sheep and cows than people on Islay. But I absolutely loved it and was ready to stay for a few months.

Our next stop was on the isle of Skye. I wasn’t as taken with Skye as I was with Islay, but we need more time to explore it. The island is larger, but the scenery is just as stunning. On the way to Skye there was a traffic accident, apparently a car flipped over and since it was a two-lane road, traffic was at a complete stand still. I was fine for a while until nature started to call. There were no rest areas, gas stations, restaurants or trees big enough to hide me within walking distance. And even though it was nighttime and dark, we were in a line of cars with people walking around and some headlights on. I have no problem peeing outdoors if I have to, but I draw the line at doing it in front of complete strangers. Things got desperate so the Brit was able to pull a U-ie and go to a pull over area that we had passed. After I’d contributed a new loch to the area, we rejoined the line of cars and were eventually able to get going again.

Our next stop was Loch Ness. We had a room with a balcony overlooking the loch, so like any normal tourist I went to take a look. When I stepped out on the balcony I was looking straight ahead and could see another part of the hotel in my peripheral vision. Right after I stepped out (I don’t think I will ever forget this) a man walked by the window in his room. Usually this wouldn’t be a big deal, except this man was severely obese, had several tattoos and was NAKED!! Naked as in not-wearing-a-single-item-of-clothing. His head turned as he walked by so I’m sure he saw me even though I turned my head away from his window at the same time to look at the loch. Later that evening, in the restaurant, we ended up at a table next to a large tattooed man and a lady. Fortunately I had my back to them. I told the Brit I thought that was the man I had seen until a bit later another very large and tattooed man and his lady came into the restaurant. I was a bit traumatized by the event but the Brit seemed amused.


Our last stay in Scotland was in Inverness, a cute little city where people fly-fish in the river. And next we were on to Hadrian’s wall and Vindolanda. Both of us thought WOW when we saw Vindolanda. It’s a Roman fort that was occupied before Hadrian’s wall was built. Parts of it have been excavated with many intact objects unearthed. It’s thought that it will take over 100 years to excavate the rest of the site. Our final stop was in Canterbury before getting back on the ferry to return to the continent.

During our trip we had a few cool animal sightings in the Highlands. A couple of red squirrels crossed our path, a young white-tailed eagle flew in front of the windshield and a juvenile red deer jogged along the side of the road before going back into the trees. Considering that the white-tailed eagle is quite rare in Scotland, we were very fortunate to see it especially so close. I can’t wait to get back to the Highlands and for anyone who hasn’t tried haggis, it’s actually quite good!

I’m sure some of you want to see photos. We took so many that it will take a while to sort through them, so photos will have to wait for a bit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vacation

The brit and I are leaving on summer vacation today. See ya in a couple of weeks!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sidewalk Art



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Still legal


I’ll borrow the Brit’s description of our experience today:

2 hours waiting outside in the heat, 45 minutes waiting inside with no air-con for 2 minutes to get the récépissé... French bureaucracy at its finest!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

French bureaucracy

This morning I went on my annual trek to the Prefecture to pick up my titre de séjour and was quite pleased when I had to wait only a few minutes before my number was called. The man sent me to purchase a timbre fiscale and when I came back he had news that I was not expecting and certainly did not want to hear – my new carte de séjour isn’t ready yet. So tomorrow morning I have to go to another location and get a récépissé. The joys of French bureaucracy….

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The French are rude everywhere

The French have a reputation, deserved or not, for being less than friendly to foreigners who visit their lovely country. According to a recent poll, the French also have a reputation as being some of the worst tourists in the world. Conversely, my compatriots are big spenders and tippers (no surprise there). However I do wonder about Americans being listed as worst dressed when the Britons are amongst the best dressed tourists. Clearly I’ve been running into the wrong Brits abroad… Read about the best and worst tourists here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hiatus

I haven’t posted much lately, because on top of being with the Brit who had his wisdom teeth pulled I’ve been trying to find a new apartment. It’s been hectic and far from hassle-free. Details to come later….

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Go away

I was at the bus stop on my way home when some guy starts chatting me up. He tried to get my number at the moment the bus arrived. I thought I was “safe” but no…he followed me onto the bus!

He continued trying to chat me up and get my number for a couple of stops. I was trying to be polite, but I ended up telling him that I don’t give my number to strangers. He must've understood that I was a lost cause, because he finally left me alone and got off the bus.

Guys – here’s a tip. If a girls doesn’t seem interested, she probably isn’t. So don’t push it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fête de la Musique

Yesterday, for Fête de la Musique, the Brit and I met a couple of friends on the Quai de la Loire. We ended up having drinks near a brass band, but moved to another location when a DJ across the street decided to test the volume of his speakers. We couldn’t hear each other even when yelling and thought it best to move on before our hearing was completely destroyed. Later, the Brit and I had dinner in the 6th and wandered around a bit near Luxembourg. We passed bands singing and playing all sorts of music and there were tons of people in the streets.

Here are a few photos for those of you who’ve never experienced Fête de la Musique in France.









Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Yoghurting


As someone who’s made a few gaffes in French, I can sympathize with some of the examples in
this article. One personal example that comes to mind occurred when I lived with a host family during my study abroad. I was spending the evening with my host brother and some of his friends and got a couple of reflexive verbs confused. I meant to say tu te moques de moi (you’re making fun of me), but instead I said tu me manques (I miss you). They all had a good laugh at that...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To: Mr. too-self-centered-to-notice-anything-around-him; on line 1, direction Vincennes; wearing dark rimmed glasses and a striped shirt.


I’m sure whatever you were reading was SO interesting, but would it have hurt you to glance up when the metro stopped to see if you needed to shift or turn around and face the doors?

I didn’t bump into you several times because I was getting friendly. I was attempting to be considerate and make room for people trying to get on. Rather than say something to you, I thought getting jostled a bit might give you a clue. But apparently not…

Monday, June 8, 2009

Metro Manners

Ladies, in a metro that is packed like a tin of sardines flipping your hair or whipping it about is NOT a good idea. You aren't staring in a shampoo commercial (perhaps in your head, but not in the real world). So before you toss the hair about to flirt with your companion, consider the other commuters within striking distance.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Confused identity

Is it just me or does the photo of Annette Benning look like Vanessa Williams?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Trimmed Bush = Taller Tree

This video is a hoot.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Long Weekend

I left last Wednesday evening to join the Brit for a long weekend (Thursday was a holiday in France). My train was scheduled to leave at 17h55, but several minutes after 18h00, it hadn’t moved. An announcement was made saying there was some kind of technical problem. A while later there was another announcement telling us that the delay was due to people on the track. They played the people-track message twice and I thought: 1) what happened to the technical problem? and 2) get the people off the bloody track so we can leave.

We ended up leaving over an hour late. I have no idea what the real reason behind the delay was, but whenever more than one reason is given I get suspicious. Has the driver decided to take a nap? Did he not show up (I’ve had a train delayed before because there was no driver)? Or maybe he decided to pay a visit to his mistress and got delayed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Museum Night Part Deux

The Brit and I decided to go to the Louvre for Museum Night. We arrived around 6 and left around 8:30. It’s a good thing we went early because as we left we passed hordes of people coming in. I snapped a few picks on my phone camera.

Deborah and Donna – these are for you :)






Metro Manners

To my fellow RATP riders - it is generally NOT a good idea to lean on the hand rail when it’s crowded. There are other people who need to hold it without trying to force their fingers between it and your back/side (or backside).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Museum Night

Tomorrow night is la nuit des musées. Free entrance from 18h00, concerts, expositions etc. Info here

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Red + White = Rosé?

A couple weeks ago the Brit and I met a friend who was in Paris for the weekend with a friend of hers. We met up at Juveniles, a laid back wine bar near Palais Royale. The owner had a petition against EU plans that would allow European winemakers to make rosé wine by mixing red and white wines. Not surprisingly, he found the idea to be horrendous. French winemakers, like the wine bar owner, are apparently outraged. Is mixed rosé repulsive or revolutionary? Read about it here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Month of holidays

May in France basically consists of going from one holiday to the next. Last Friday (May 1st) was the Fete de travail and this Friday is May 8th the commemoration of the end of WWII. And later this month, we have Ascension.

May has become one of my favourite months since moving to France.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

They didn’t cover this in French class

According to the OECD, the French spend more time eating and sleeping than people from any other wealthy country. The eating part isn’t that surprising (although I thought the Spanish or Italians would be at the top), but as far as the sleeping – I’m clearly missing out on this aspect of living in France. I’m still in my entrenched American way of not getting enough sleep during the week and then trying to tank up during the weekends. Read about the sleeping eaters here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday Music

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vomit inspired upholstery






These 2 patterns are from Parisian buses. Funnily enough, the pattern on the right (which makes me think of baby food mixed with vomit) is on the brand new buses on my route. The seating configuration is different and the poles in the middle have 3 prongs to give more hand-hold room. There’s even the snazzy ticker tape sign that gives the ETA of the next and final destinations. Nearly everything about the new bus is modern….except the seat patterns. Who is the person who designed this pattern and why were they allowed to spread this ugliness??



Friday, April 17, 2009

Sarko is making frenemies

According to French President Sarkozy, US President Obama is weak and indecisive and German Chancellor Merkel followed Sarko’s lead only after she realized that Germany's economy was in trouble. He also took a swipe at Spain, indicated respect for Berlusconi’s ability to get re-elected several times and to top it off he’s calling people of African descent “suntanned”.

I’m all for free speech, but wtf??! The suntan issue will have to wait for a different post on racism in France. Does Sarko believe that insulting the leaders of other nations is the way to improve international cooperation? Does he think that Obama doesn’t surf the net or won’t find out about Sarko’s comments? Apparently the concept of catching flies with honey instead of vinegar didn’t make it across the pond. Some are saying that Sarko is jealous that another president has taken media attention away from him and Sarkozette and I’m inclined to agree.

Read about Sarko’s comments here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Tune

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Swan taxidermy or stylish lighting?


What do you think when you see this lamp? It’s in the window of a home interior store/salon/restaurant near my office. I saw it and had to get a photo because it looks like an IKEA idea of what happens to swans after they die. A chacun son goût, but who is going to buy this?? The kicker is, the next day I took a look at the price tag and had to do a double take....€725! That’s right, seven hundred and twenty five euros. Apparently swan purgatory isn't cheap.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Perfect English


On my way to see the Brit this past weekend, a lady pulling a suitcase saw me walking down the street towards the train station and made a beeline to intercept. She asked if I knew where Boulevard X was and I could barely get three words out before she gave a nervous laugh combined with a sigh and said “Thank God, perfect English”. I don’t know if she realized that I was American or just thought I was a française with an impeccable accent. As we went in different directions I chuckled to myself in sympathy because I understood how she felt and how relieved she must be.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Parlez Politics?

In the US, you can know people for years and never discuss politics. Here in France, the topic can come up just a few minutes after meeting someone.

The Brit and I were browsing in a shop when the shopkeeper began making polite conversation. After a few exchanges, he asked if I was American (he used “vous” so I wasn’t sure if he meant me or both of us). I told him I was American and the Brit was English. He immediately asked if I had voted and started talking about the election and how happy he was that Obama had won. He said Obama winning meant that the US was a true democracy and he hoped that things in the US would change with Obama in office. It’s funny that he automatically assumed I was an Obama supporter. Maybe he thinks any American abroad is a dem or perhaps the Brit and I give off a strong liberal vibe.

When this type of exchange happens it still catches me by surprise because talking politics can be rather taboo back home unless you’re amongst people you know share your political views (or you’re prepared for a very heated and often nonsensical argument). In France, it seems that it’s always open for discussion.

So far I’ve managed to get by with only a few “You have a slight accent where are you from isn’t Obama great” conversations. If it happened more often, I’d have to consider printing a cards to give to the shopkeepers/cashiers - “I’m American. Yes, it’s great Obama won. Can I just pay and skip the political dialogue?”



Thursday, March 12, 2009

Parisian Parking




Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Metro Manners













RATP has implemented a metro sticker campaign in an attempt to keep people from blocking the doors. Roughly translated the 1st sticker says When the signal beeps, I keep away from the doors and the 2nd one 1 second lost in the station = the entire line being late . It's a nice try, but the first time I saw the stickers, I thought – who are they kidding? The only people who will heed the instructions are foreigners and provincials. Parisians will think it doesn’t apply to them, because if they need to hold the doors open, then everyone else will have to suffer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Freaks, Carnivale or Twilight Zone?

There are some moments when I feel like I've suddenly been thrown into a scene from a movie or film. This morning's bus ride was either Freaks or a Carnivale episode. There was a man with 6 fingers on each hand; a woman who looked more Romulan than human; a person who appeared to just miss the height requirements of a dwarf and was dressed as a woman with a fur coat, yet had the face of a man. (S)he reminded me of Samson from Carnivale. To top it off, there was a teenage boy who I've seen on the bus before and appears to have a developmental issue. He was in a seat towards the middle of the bus (I was sitting all the way in the back), and after he'd been on the bus a while he moved next to me and proceed to shift about in 2 seats (it was a round de 6 places) and mumble to himself. It's time such as this when I look around for Rod Sterling.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I sometimes forget you're American....

This was the comment made by an English colleague when she saw my IM message a while back about Bushy finally being gone. I asked her what she thought of me as, if not American. She replied “European". Mid-Atlantic would probably be more accurate at the moment - neither here nor there.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Velib libre de velo


Paris’ bike rental program, Velib, is having some problems. More than half of the bicycles have been stolen, vandalized or disappeared and at 400 euros each, JCDecaux is claiming that it cannot afford to continue the scheme unless the business model is changed. I’ve never used a Velib for a combination of reasons, but I think it’s a great idea and it would be a shame if it didn’t continue. Read about Velib's difficulties here.



Friday, February 6, 2009

(Stereo)typically French

Three French workers come into the office to fix the heating. One guy does the work (or pretends to). Another guy "supervises" and the third guy wanders around looking lost.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Snowy Paris


Paris was covered in snow this morning and on the way to work I noticed people waddling and shuffling in a way that made me think of ducks with hemorrhoids. Our blanket of white was minor compared to the UK. Click here to view a video of Paris this morning..


Friday, January 30, 2009

Seattle Shakes

The Seattle area experienced a 4.5 earthquake this morning. As someone who’s been through many earthquakes, including the Nisqually earthquake, I can say that 4.5 is barely noticeable…



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rachida Dati – the darling’s downfall?

Before I could find the time to post something about how much crap Rachida Dati is getting because she returned to work just 5 days after giving birth via c-section, she gets herself fired.

Apparently Sarko’s darling - the first person of north African descent to hold the Justice Minister position in France - has fallen from favor and is being relegated to a lowly post in the European Parliament. There’s all kind of gossip about the reasons behind her being forced to step down from her Justice Minister position. Some say now that she has pushed through reforms, she’s no longer popular and Sarko has no further use for her. Others say that Sarkozette (Carla Bruni-Sarkozy) turned Sarko against her. Whatever the reason, I am sure that this is not the last we'll hear from the fashionable and ambitious Ms. Dati.


Rachida Dati remains loyal to Nicolas Sarkozy despite losing cabinet post

What Rachida Dati's fall means for France

'Superwoman' Dati riles French

French minister Rachida Dati's return to work just five days after giving birth has sparked the great NO-TERNITY debate

Monday, January 26, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Funny condom ad from Durex

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Seattle P-I may soon cease to exist on paper.

Due to economic difficulties, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is considering shutting down operations. Read about it here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Venice

After surprising my parents for Xmas in 2007, the Brit and I decided to escape both families and spend this Xmas alone…in Venice. We'd each been to Venice separately, but never together. and we thought it would be a great time to experience the city without the hoards of summertime tourists. There were quite a few people out on our last day, but on Xmas day the streets were practically empty. During our entire stay it was freezing to the point that the Brit made fun of how many layers I wore.

The trip can be summed up as - very cold, a lot of good food, a lot of good wine and a lot of much needed sleep.

For good restos, I recommend:
La Bitta
La Rivista