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:: Wednesday, Dec 31 2003 ::

You know, I've been to the American cathedral here in Paris a couple of times now over the holidays, and I keep hearing (because they keep reading) the book of John, specifically the first chapter of John, which is the bit about 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." I have also heard recently one could substitute 'Idea' for 'Word'. The chapter is almost poetry, and quite fun to listen to. I imagine in some ways it is one of the places where the Bible resembles the Koran, in that I always imagine the Koran, in Arabic, to be quite poetic. I don't actually know if this is the case, but it is what I imagine.

Also, the idea of John, regardless of what one thinks of Christ and/or Christianity, is quite compelling. The wild man in the desert is a fun idea almost anywhere. I've heard it said time and again that John was 'not someone you would want to have dinner with'. Add on to that the idea that he would become one of the founders of a religion, and it makes for an amusing visual.
:: David (05:29 in Michigan, 11:29 in Paris)

A couple of days ago we went to see an exposition of the works of Botticelli (and some of his students) at the Luxembourg Museum here in Paris. Today, while looking for the schedule for tonight's special metro openings (the metro will run all night on certain lines, and will be free all evening), I ran across the website of the exposition, which tells you all about Botticelli and the exposition. It also has images of some of the works being displayed.
:: David (04:37 in Michigan, 10:37 in Paris)

:: Tuesday, Dec 30 2003 ::

I have managed to get the photos from my trip to Switzerland up and out there. It was a fun time, and we'll probably go again before the year is out. Maybe in the spring, when it is WARMER!
:: David (10:42 in Michigan, 16:42 in Paris)

The man who created Chupa Chups has passed away. Who knew they were Spanish? Who knew they had a logo by Salvador Dali? Who knew!?
:: David (02:27 in Michigan, 08:27 in Paris)

:: Saturday, Dec 27 2003 ::

There's a really excellent article in the New York Times today talking about NAFTA's effects which has excellent anecdotal stories in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Absolutely worth the effort of registering for the NYT website, which is required to read the article.
:: David (16:56 in Michigan, 22:56 in Paris)

Made it back to Paris after an uneventful morning. We weren't able to get all the chocolate we wanted, but hopefully Sasha's brother can bring it when he visits!
:: David (12:19 in Michigan, 18:19 in Paris)

:: Friday, Dec 26 2003 ::

Mountain climbing today. Fun high places with lots of snow. We're flying back to Paris tomorrow in the early afternoon, although the way the flights were on the way to Switzerland, that means we'll get in late in the evening. Only one more week until I go back to work!
:: David (12:38 in Michigan, 18:38 in Paris)

:: Thursday, Dec 25 2003 ::

I got Sasha a recorder for Christmas, and today we went looking for the fingerings, and came up with this site, which has more than you ever needed to know about recorders.
:: David (08:35 in Michigan, 14:35 in Paris)

Oh, yeah - Merry Christmas!!!
:: David (06:01 in Michigan, 12:01 in Paris)

Mad Cows, Terror alerts, and crazy events the world over - no wonder the pope was calling for peace. But here, all was quiet and peaceful until about 8 a.m. when Sebastian awoke and stumbled to the presents. Interestingly, we had expected him to wake much earlier and had therefore gotten up extra, extra early to try and prevent the opening of all the presents before we arrived. Once again, outwitted by the youngest person here.

I managed to secure several nice things, including a wonderful chess set Sasha found for me here in Zürich. Sebastian, needless to say, made a phenominal haul of toys and somesuch. Now the day devolves to food and somesuch.
:: David (06:00 in Michigan, 12:00 in Paris)

:: Wednesday, Dec 24 2003 ::

We started opening presents this evening (or rather, Sebastian, age 2, started opening presents this evening. It was felt there were too many for one morning). I have once again had my faith in the ability of children to work out quickly which toys are fun, and which are not, reaffirmed. Sebastian tore through some, and played with others for half an hour. Those which were not cool enough were quickly set aside and a request made to open another. I myself scored some toasty socks, about which I was fairly excited - proof that I am getting old.
:: David (13:39 in Michigan, 19:39 in Paris)

A little hiking, a little shopping, a little fondue. Christmas eve in Zürich, or Adliswil to be precise. We headed up to the top of the hill/mountain today for a little while, because we hadn't had quite enough snow yet. Otherwise, a lazy day working towards Christmas.
:: David (10:17 in Michigan, 16:17 in Paris)

:: Monday, Dec 22 2003 ::

Nice lazy day. Shopping in Zurich, nothing new and surprising, no photos, just a nice relaxing day, which is a good start to the week.
:: David (10:38 in Michigan, 16:38 in Paris)

:: Saturday, Dec 20 2003 ::

Made it! After several hours en route, the weary travellers arrived in Zurich and found their hotel, where the nice old lady (whose daughter, the English speaker, was not around) set us up with our rooms. We then headed out to Brad and Erin's house, where we had some pizza and sat around and chatted. Sebastian, their son, apparently had a late nap and has been wired for the whole visit, making it a little crazy, but fun.
:: David (14:34 in Michigan, 20:34 in Paris)

:: Friday, Dec 19 2003 ::

Still not packed. Much later. I did however read lots of news, which I haven't done in a while. I am pleased to say that I was, up to this moment, unaware of any of the crud surrounding the World Trade Center memorial site. I was vaguely aware that a memorial would go up. I hoped it would be a park, but knew that there was a business side to the whole deal. I feared, but expected, a tower of some kind. I did not, however, expect dueling architects and some sort of bizarre melding of competing visions. I feel sorry for those who lost loved ones. I also feel sorry for a nation that turns to litigation for every step towards catharsis.
:: David (18:17 in Michigan, 00:17 in Paris)

We're packing for our trip to Switzerland. Well, Sasha is, and I'm typing. We leave tomorrow afternoon, and we'll be there through the end of December. If you need to contact me, email, because the phone will only get you voice mail!
:: David (15:59 in Michigan, 21:59 in Paris)

Erik pointed out that it was a little too late at night when I was typing about the aeroplane's anniversary, as I typed 'moaning' instead of 'mourning'. At least the meaning wasn't lost!
:: David (15:57 in Michigan, 21:57 in Paris)

:: Thursday, Dec 18 2003 ::

Fun article on the use of trademark names as verbs or nouns - McJob anyone
:: David (17:10 in Michigan, 23:10 in Paris)

Sasha's parents are in town, so straight after work I went downtown and met up with all of them, and we wandered about and went to dinner. We were originally planning on calling it an early night, but some kind of stoppage in the metro meant we had to walk quite a distance, so by the time we got back (moments ago) we were shattered. Tomorrow looks similar, and on Saturday we're off to Switzerland. Help!!!
:: David (17:04 in Michigan, 23:04 in Paris)

:: Wednesday, Dec 17 2003 ::

OK - one more headscarf comment - read the article in The Guardian or The BBC (including swanky photo of Chirac), concerning Chirac supporting the headscarf ban. As a little further evidence of not getting the point, The Guardian also noted:

Mr Chirac also rejected proposals to mark the holy days of minority faiths with new school holidays, noting the French school calendar already included many days off.
I know, I am little worked up about this issue. But it's so amazing to me that seemingly right thinking people could think this is a good idea. People get worked up about head coverings - it's one of those things that happens in religions. Why one would claim that 'everyone can live together', and in the same breath continue on 'as long as they act exactly like us' is beyond me.
:: David (17:48 in Michigan, 23:48 in Paris)

This evening was the Christmas party at my particular building, and party we did. I'm afraid I ate too little and drank too much, but it was a good time with interesting people and good conversation. I even managed to meet an interesting woman on the train ride home. I like meeting people. It's much better than what I used to do - sit in my apartment and not meet people.
:: David (17:33 in Michigan, 23:33 in Paris)

Apparently we are approaching (or perhaps have already passed) the anniversary of the Wright brothers' flight at Kitty Hawk, and apparently some fools decided to recreate the event, but failed. There was a truly interesting opinion piece in The Guardian which suggested that the anniversary of the invention of the aeroplane should be a a period of moaning mourning, not celebration. It discusses how modern air travel is simply neo-colonialism with a different face (and presumably, loud shirts). It's worth a read, although, as I said to Sasha when we were discussing it, I think it assigns causality to something which is more an effect than a cause. See what you think.
:: David (17:31 in Michigan, 23:31 in Paris)

Ordinarily I try to avoid blogging from work, but I felt this was a special occasion. I know I have railed before concerning the incongruity between the French government's position on religious displays and the presence of Christmas trees in front of city buildings, but today really takes the cake. There is a real-life creche in front of the city hall building near my house, complete with goats, geese, and baby sheep! Talk about waking you up on a Wednesday morning!!
:: David (02:55 in Michigan, 08:55 in Paris)

:: Tuesday, Dec 16 2003 ::

I realized I ought to have French holiday tradition links as well, but for the most part it's been familiar - building decorated, stores selling, and so forth. The only oddity has been the fake snow on trees - I presume since snow is pretty irregular (none here yet this year!), it's a way of getting in the spirit of things. I found some websites with some of the more local traditions, but how far can you trust a website called California Mall? About.com also has an article, which is a bit better.

One of my favorite traditions is La Galette des Rois - I'll quote the about.com article here:

La Galette des Rois (on Epiphany) - round cake which is cut into pieces and distributed by a child, known as le petit roi or l'enfant soleil, hiding under the table. Whoever finds la fève - the charm hidden inside - is King or Queen and can choose a partner.

The interesting thing about this tradition is that it is, at least to me, a Roman tradition we used to do in my Latin club back in high school. We used to have a big Saturnalia party, and the king and queen were chosen by the (date? something) hidden in the cake. Fun stuff.
:: David (17:31 in Michigan, 23:31 in Paris)

Thinking about New Year's, which is coming up, and I wondered what year it was in the Chinese zodiac. Turns out it's the year of the sheep (羊). There's a fun little website detailing what the Japanese do for New Year's day.
:: David (17:22 in Michigan, 23:22 in Paris)

:: Monday, Dec 15 2003 ::

Watched an interesting movie from 1987 called Maurice this evening. It starred James Wilby and a very young looking Hugh Grant and two gay men who meet at university in the early 1900's and choose very different methods of dealing with their homosexuality. A nice change of pace from all the Stargate SG-1 we've been watching!
:: David (16:59 in Michigan, 22:59 in Paris)

There's nothing quite like waking to a monty python reference in the morning paper. In reference to the European Union's failed talks over the weekend, the Guardian referred to a "multilingual chorus of politicians singing 'Always look on the bright side of life'" - a reference to "The Life of Brian" which woke me up on a Monday morning. Nice. "The EU's a piece of sh*t, when you look at it, etc."
:: David (14:08 in Michigan, 20:08 in Paris)

:: Sunday, Dec 14 2003 ::

We were walking downtown, near the Champs Elysees, and we passed an older woman with her friend. She was inventing a song, and singing it to her friend - "On a gagné, Saddam est capturé" - 'We win! Saddam was caught!' - very amusing reaction from the streets of Paris.
:: David (13:57 in Michigan, 19:57 in Paris)

Note to regular readers - there will be some downtime on Monday and Tuesday while my ISP moves their computers around. In theory this will mean there will be fewer outages in the future. Here's hoping!
:: David (13:53 in Michigan, 19:53 in Paris)

'We Got Him' - Paul Bremer
Saddam Hussein captured in Iraq. The press conference was quite interesting, with the reporters yelling at the screen showing the captured former Iraqi leader. The first question, from an L.A. Times reporter, was 'it was stated war criminals would be tried in Iraq. When, and under what circumstances, will you be turning him over to the Iraqi government?'

Interesting notes - CNN did not have an arabic translator, so arabic responses were left alone, and untranslated. The BBC did have one. Also, the military translator may not have been very good, because at least one of the questions appeared to be mis-translated for the General answering questions (at least, he stated the question was different than the BBC's translation, and answered a different question).

Images from the streets of Baghdad involved lots of gunfire into the sky. Amusingly, as several reporters noted, it will be difficult to broadcast by television images of the captured Saddam Hussein, because both power and television are intermittent. However, it appears that, at least in Baghdad, word of mouth is serving just fine to pass the news.
:: David (07:41 in Michigan, 13:41 in Paris)

There's an interesting commentary on The Economist concerning the obesity problem in the developed world. Well worth a read.
:: David (07:30 in Michigan, 13:30 in Paris)

There was a really funny 'Daily Show' moment last night, when they were doing the 'what's happening in December' sketch. It was all about Christmas, lots and lots of Christmas, and then at the very end he was like 'oh, and Chanukah and Kwanzaa are happening this month, too'. Very reminiscent of France, actually.

I have very fond memories of the year I was working in Albion, which would have been 1998-1999, and David Rappaport was over, helping us trim our Christmas tree and telling us the story of Chanukah.
:: David (06:25 in Michigan, 12:25 in Paris)

Well, in a few hours Sasha's parents will be on a plane to Europe. They're going by way of England and Finland, so they won't get here until Thursday, but they are starting the journey. Then on Saturday we will all board a plane to Switzerland, and stay there through the Christmas holidays. I can't believe they are upon us.
:: David (06:15 in Michigan, 12:15 in Paris)

:: Saturday, Dec 13 2003 ::

Wil Wheaton posted a link to an article on the L.A. Times (which requires registration to read) which talked about the blogs of famous people and why they kept them. In addition to linking to Wil's blog, the article mentioned several other celebs who maintain blogs, or the like, including Moby, Sir Ian McKellen (who doesn't really have a blog, but does post writings), and George Takai. Fun stuff!
:: David (17:34 in Michigan, 23:34 in Paris)

You know, it is 25 degrees warmer here in Paris than it is in Ann Arbor. On the other hand, it's cloudy and wet. We're planning on doing some Christmas shopping today, as Sasha's parents will be arriving in town Thursday. I work next week and then I'll be off for two weeks, as the OECD will close for the Christmas to New Year holiday. Overall the job seems to be going well, and noone has yet decided that I am incompetent, which is always reassuring.
:: David (05:27 in Michigan, 11:27 in Paris)

:: Thursday, Dec 11 2003 ::

My February dance card is filling up fast - Trine booked her ticket to come see us, and Sarah Coburn will be back as well. Looks like we'll need to use January to rest and prepare. And maybe to try and get my work permit all worked out. *sigh* It's amazing how difficult it is to work abroad, paperwork-wise!
:: David (16:13 in Michigan, 22:13 in Paris)

:: Wednesday, Dec 10 2003 ::

Business? War? The business of war. I have been amused by developments today, as news came out that the U.S. was not allowing opponents of the war to bid on reconstruction contracts. But the really fun news has been developing over the course of the evening, as excluded states question the 'legality' of their exclusion. Who knew that the Iraq war would give the WTO the opportunity to really expand its powers so dramatically? We'll have to wait and see, but wouldn't it be interesting if the nation that showed how unilaterally it could act was smacked about by an international organization.
:: David (17:30 in Michigan, 23:30 in Paris)

The people of the 20th arrondisment really don't understand secular. The town hall is glowing brightly enough from its christmas display to read by. No religious symbols, huh?
:: David (13:26 in Michigan, 19:26 in Paris)

Well, my employers are already making my friends angry - at least if anyone reads foreign newspapers. The OECD today questioned New Zealand's investments in the 'Lord of the Rings' films. On the other hand, it was a lot of money.
:: David (13:24 in Michigan, 19:24 in Paris)

:: Tuesday, Dec 9 2003 ::

...and can I just say how interesting it is that Al Gore endorsed (or was set to endorse - I haven't read the news today) Dean instead of Lieberman!? How funny is that? Of course, just like Gore, I'm not really sure I like Dean. On the other hand, maybe me not liking someone makes them electable - it worked for both Gore and Bush (I didn't like either one, and one was elected and the other became president). So who can say - I'll keep watching....
...from afar (thank goodness!)...
:: David (16:59 in Michigan, 22:59 in Paris)

Oh, thank goodness! Mozilla 1.6 beta is finally out! Hopefully they will have fixed the problem which made 1.6 alpha such a pain to work with. Ah well - such is life when you live on the bleeding edge. Of course, I've never gone over with my mail - I'm much too protective of my email to do something that could destroy it all in one fell swoop.
:: David (16:56 in Michigan, 22:56 in Paris)

:: Monday, Dec 8 2003 ::

I added the photos of Sarah Coburn's visit to the Paris Catacombs to my catacomb section - I'm building up quite a bizarre selection of photos of people hanging out with the dead. I'm not really sure what that says about me....
:: David (16:24 in Michigan, 22:24 in Paris)

:: Sunday, Dec 7 2003 ::

Free museum day today! Having exhausted the big name museums, or perhaps having been exhausted by them, we went instead to the Museum of the Middle Ages (The Musée de Cluny). It was chock full of neat-o tapestries and religious art and some truly amazing stuff. The building is 15th century, but incorporates portions of a 2nd century Roman bath house, so in addition to the art, at times the building itself is the exhibit. It was much larger than I had first thought, and we walked ourselves quite out, which was fortunate given the immense lunch we had beforehand, at a little place in town called Chez Benjamin, which I highly recommend.
:: David (14:34 in Michigan, 20:34 in Paris)

So we were walking along the Seine today, having attended church at the American cathedral in Paris (it's Episcopalian), and a biker whizzed by, a young woman of perhaps 20-something. I wasn't paying close attention until I heard the shout, and looked up in time to see an older woman, holding her left arm, smack the living hell out of the biker, now stopped. The older woman was telling her she was 'crazy to be riding a bike on the sidewalk so quickly'. The young woman was holding her hand to her face, and the older woman's walking companion, an older man, told the older woman to be quiet, and then kept walking, leaving the confrontation to the two women. Another woman, walking along behind us, yelled encouragement to the older woman, saying the biker had been riding too quickly. The young woman recovered, said nothing (that we heard - "I'm sorry" is generally not said at the top of one's lungs), and rode off, moving at first opportunity off the footpath and onto the road.
:: David (14:30 in Michigan, 20:30 in Paris)

:: Saturday, Dec 6 2003 ::

I put up all the photos from Sarah Coburn's visit last weekend. Lots of fun stuff! Just as a side note, the photos of beverages, or photos of her with beverages, were done on request. I don't know why. She just likes them. And who am I to tell people what normal is?
:: David (15:56 in Michigan, 21:56 in Paris)

You know, there are moments that remind me of what an atrocious pack-rat I am. I was making tea in the kitchen, using the very swanky tea-bags Stew brought us from London, and I thought 'I should use some of the other tea bags so we don't run out of these' - which is silly - tea bags are meant to be used, and if I 'saved' them, eventually we would have old tea bags that couldn't be drank. I constantly battle the pack rat, which is not made easier by the fact that I haven't seen all of my stuff together since 1999. Someday! On the other hand, it does help in that every time I go home I find something else that I'm not sure why I saved, so I throw it away. Moving constantly is a great way to never save too much stuff.
:: David (12:03 in Michigan, 18:03 in Paris)

I had a look at the code I've been using to generate my blog, and as I suspected, it was making bad HTML - basically you're supposed to put characters around each paragraph, like

{begin} This is my paragraph {end}

but my code was putting things in the wrong place. Hopefully I have fixed that, so from December onward I should be generating nice, happy code. Easily amused, I know...
:: David (05:44 in Michigan, 11:44 in Paris)

Sleeping in on weekend mornings. Another thing I get to enjoy now that I have a job.
:: David (05:25 in Michigan, 11:25 in Paris)

:: Friday, Dec 5 2003 ::

Finian has taken to maintaining a blog. I need to add it to my sidebar.
:: David (14:25 in Michigan, 20:25 in Paris)

I had one of those 'I live in Paris' happy moments today on my way to work. I decided since I had the weekend off I would take it easy, wander in a little bit later, stay a little later, and in general not feel as pressed for time as I had been the past few days. I was wearing the funkiest of the new shirts I bought recently at Jules, and in general had a downright nice wander to work, past old stone buildings and down the quiet side streets that lead to the building where I work. Amusingly it's in a residential neighbourhood, and looks just like any other house - you can walk right by if you're not paying attention. It's nice to be, for the moment, a real boy. No more singing the 'Illegal Alien' song in my head on a regular basis when I see the police.
:: David (14:23 in Michigan, 20:23 in Paris)

:: Thursday, Dec 4 2003 ::

We were discussing what we were going to do this weekend, and it was determined what we would -not- do is play tourist, go anywhere even remotely associated with Paris on postcards or in movies or on TV. Then we realized it was free museum weekend, and that was all shot to hell. So now Saturday is definitely a tourism-free zone, but Sunday is still up for grabs....
:: David (17:00 in Michigan, 23:00 in Paris)

So, in a reversal of the usual way things work, it is I, rather than Sasha, who has reached a milestone in expatriate living: today I opened a bank account. Of course, I cheated, in that technically I opened a bank account on the premises of the OECD, and hence technically -not- in France. But it's open, it's with a French bank, and now I have somewhere to keep all the money they're going to give me. Life is good.
:: David (16:57 in Michigan, 22:57 in Paris)

:: Wednesday, Dec 3 2003 ::

If there is one thing I hate about living abroad it is having to shop in a second language. I have had this belief reinforced today, as I went out to acquire new clothes for the job (because I didn't bring enough, really). Not only did I not know my size in anything, but also the entire process of trying things on and buying them is different. And I don't even enjoy the process when I know what is going on. Regardless, thankfully, it is done, and I have swanky new threads.
:: David (17:31 in Michigan, 23:31 in Paris)

:: Tuesday, Dec 2 2003 ::

Well, it had to happen sooner or later - Doonesbury has entered the Iraq fray full on - yesterday's and today's strip are well worth taking a look at.
:: David (16:10 in Michigan, 22:10 in Paris)

Another day, another pile of paperwork. I think I'm at least one step closer to being legal, and hopefully the holidays will take me over the edge to full legality. Regardless, I am already well on my way to earning at least a few €s and hopefully that will continue.

Sarah wrote me to ask when the pictures would be up - if I'm feeling particularly fiesty I may just make a big page of Sarah visit photos. I still haven't worked out how to properly tie everything together, but I'll think on it. This is what happened in Japan - the photos piled up, until finally I was subsumed. Thank goodness for the holiday season which will let me catch up (?)
:: David (14:15 in Michigan, 20:15 in Paris)

Violation of two rules in the same morning - rule one - never throw your dress clothes in a bundle on the floor. Rule two - men never iron. But at least I won't look like a complete buffoon in my entrance interview.
:: David (02:23 in Michigan, 08:23 in Paris)

Did anyone hear about this? I don't remember seeing it at the time - according to the BBC:
Mr Schwarzenegger weighed in on the gay marriage debate with the comment "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."
And with a quote like that, you'd think it would have made all the newspapers. The quote was in an article about Donald Rumsfeld winning a British 'award' for his 'unknown speech', the one that goes:
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know
which admittedly is probably the more deserving of the two quotes to win an award. But still...
:: David (02:22 in Michigan, 08:22 in Paris)

:: Monday, Dec 1 2003 ::

I worked a whole day! And now I have a swanky ID card (so I can open the door) and everything! I have also determined why the OECD can hire me when other firms hesitate: it seems that the OECD is technically not in France. I haven't looked into the details, but from what I've heard thus far it's kind of like the Vatican or an American military base abroad (say what you will about that!) in that it is extraterritorial.

This probably means I will be cutting back on my blogging, but we'll see - for the moment I am abstaining from blogging at work because there are better things to do. However, with all the terribly interesting stuff I'm working on and near, there's bound to be something which is so interesting it just can't wait - we'll see.
:: David (13:05 in Michigan, 19:05 in Paris)

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