:: Monday, October 31 2005 ::
This article seems to do a good job of summing up why the so-called 'left' in the US is so pathetic.
:: David (16:36 in Michigan, 22:36 in Paris) - Comment
Proving that I am a massive geek, I recently bought a little toy called the Kill-A-Watt. This is basically a device for measuring electricity use. You plug a device into it, and it will tell you how much electricity the device is using (in myriad ways). For example, I now know that the light in the bathroom, which is a flourescent light, draws 14 watts when it is on. I also know that running my computer and external hard drive is just like running a 75 watt light bulb, and costs about 15 cents per day (based on my electricity company's charges per Kilowatt Hour). I haven't tried it with anything too powerful yet, like the vacuum, because I'm not sure how much electricity I'm supposed to pass through it at any one time. But I probably will before too long....
:: David (11:50 in Michigan, 17:50 in Paris) - Comment
PC World has done a review on a trend I've been following with interest - ultra cheap laptops. They review three laptops, each priced around 500 dollars. I have to say, the idea of a dirt-cheap laptop makes me happy, especially as more and more colleges are requiring students to have them.
:: David (11:00 in Michigan, 17:00 in Paris) - Comment
So, this is truly random, but amusing. Neil Gaiman pointed me to a TrueType font based on Jane Austen's handwriting. Apparently it was designed from her correspondence. It seems like one of those bizarre things I should have floating around on my computer, just in case....
:: David (10:56 in Michigan, 16:56 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, October 30 2005 ::
A representative of The Sierra Club came by just now, asking us to give money to stop arctic drilling by those bad nasty people in Washington. It was... an experience.
I worked for one of those environmental hippie organizations when I was seventeen (PIRGIM, in my case). I hope I didn't do as bad a job as that young woman did at presenting the goals and ideals of the group. Wow!
That said, it's a lot harder to say no to a religious zealot than to someone who comes and calmly and rationally presents ideas, and then asks for a donation. So maybe they chose better than I think...?
:: David (17:40 in Michigan, 23:40 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, October 28 2005 ::
I've been following for a few days now a story broken in Business Week, concerning a conference to be held in Washington, D.C. in early November. The conference is on the economic impact of Wal-Mart. There are two interesting twists to the conference. The first is that it is sponsored by the retail giant. The second is that the papers may not say nice things about the company.
Lately there have been a number of stories coming out about the company, concerning the CEO's recent calls for a higher minimum wage, as well as a recent leaked memo suggesting Wal-Mart should only hire healthy people.
I haven't decided where I sit on the various topics - I do, for example, believe that minimum wages are the most appropriate way to ensure that people are paid enough. I am also of the opinion that if the state does not provide health care benefits, it should expect reactions like the one from Wal-Mart, as well as the ones from GM (which has already extracted concessions from unions which will force their members to pay more for health care). The interesting thing is that congress seems to simultaneously expect companies to be ferocious competitors and nice guys who provide a safety net for everyone - as if that were not the reason we have a 'state'.
Regardless, I am quite looking forward to the papers which will come out of the conference, which I expect will be more or less balanced. Less balanced, I expect, than the new films about Wal-Mart, which are also due out in the next week or so.
:: David (14:40 in Michigan, 20:40 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, October 27 2005 ::
As the Swedish chef might have said, were he interested in politics:
Bork! Bork! Bork!
This morning, Harriet Miers withdrew her candidature for the supreme court. I am surprised she was knocked out so easily, but at least this means Bush will have to find a real judge to take the open seat on the supreme court.
:: David (10:24 in Michigan, 16:24 in Paris) - Comment
So I'm feeling a bit... out of the loop. I went to the CNN web page this evening, to discover that the world series was being played. Worse, it seems to have happened and finished already. I'm not sure how I missed it. I guess the one thing the BBC and Le Monde don't cover is American sports. That said, I'm good with it. But it's still kind of funny to see the photo of baseball players wildly celebrating, and not have even realized they had started, let alone finished!
:: David (01:14 in Michigan, 07:14 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, October 26 2005 ::
You ever send an email to someone you don't know? Just because you saw something that amused or interested you, and you thought you would share? I get them now and again, from people who lived in Japan, mostly, telling me things like 'I was in Japan from '68 to '72, and it was neat seeing your photos'. I tend not to send them. Which is odd, because I do tend to be that guy who makes wise cracks to random people in waiting rooms or elevators. And isn't the internet just the electronic equivalent of a doctor’s waiting room, only bigger? And with a better magazine selection?
:: David (01:39 in Michigan, 07:39 in Paris) - Comment
So I typed into Google 'Ann Arbor Wine Club'. It's late, and I'm surfing randomly - but that's not the point! The point is what I got back, which was the ann arbor wine club, which seems to be run by the village corner people (a local wine shop). This town is absolutely wacky! I suppose I should have expected it (complete with a wine tasting based on the film Sideways), but nevertheless it surprised me. "college students and rich people", indeed!
:: David (01:13 in Michigan, 07:13 in Paris) - Comment
Sasha seems to be coming down with something, which means that I may get to pay back all the mothering I got from her while I was sick. Sadly, I'm not nearly as good at the cooking part, but I have discovered that soup is pretty darned easy, so if we stick to that I'll be fine....
:: David (23:09 in Michigan, 05:09 in Paris) - Comment
Well, I sent off a job application this evening. I don't really know what I'll do if I get one - I guess I'll work on the contract I have with the folks back in Paris in my copious spare time. But it seemed like a fun position, doing health data analysis. I suspect I have about a hundred more to do before I get a bite, but then again, I'm often surprised at the people who call back. We'll see.
:: David (23:08 in Michigan, 05:08 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, October 25 2005 ::
We got a swanky new phone for the house to replace our old phone, which seems to have problems, either because it is broken or because it doesn't like our wireless network. Unlike the old phone, the new one doesn't automatically answer when you pick it up - you have to push the 'talk' button. So in addition to getting a mis-dial from India this morning, I also got an earful of ringtone before I remembered to push the button. Ouch!
:: David (11:12 in Michigan, 17:12 in Paris) - Comment
When I was in the fourth grade, I attended a predominantly African-American elementary school, which was for many reasons an educational experience. While attending, I participated in a school play, wherein I had one of those bit parts where you walk on stage, wander up to the microphone, and read your little paragraph. My little paragraph was about a civil rights activist who had refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus. The woman, as you probably know, was Rosa Parks, and today I read the sad news that she has passed away. The world has lost a great person.
:: David (00:30 in Michigan, 06:30 in Paris) - Comment
Having some serious un-creative time here at the blog, which is why things seem to not be updating as frequently as you might expect. Even though there's been lots of big news (Greenspan's replacement has been announced, hurricanes everywhere, and 'Waterloo' being the best song in the history of Eurovision), none of it seems to be holding my attention. So patience, all, and more will be forthcoming....
:: David (21:23 in Michigan, 03:23 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, October 23 2005 ::
I've taken to reading books on the subject of wine, and the last time I was in France, I noted a book on Bordeaux wines, which had been translated from English. I managed to track it down at Amazon, and have been working my way through it for the past few days. The book is Noble Rot, by William Echikson. It's an interesting read, because it seems to reflect the other side of the story most French sources present - it's all about how wonderful the 'modernisation' of the wine industry has been. I think I would have stopped reading it some time ago and considered my 17 dollars wasted were it not for his character sketches of some of the winemakers, which are interesting. Other than that, it seems a bombastic book by someone who really ought to know better, full of ignorant americanisms. I had expected better from someone who had spent much of their life abroad, but I was obviously expecting too much. If you have any interest in reading about wine, skip this one and look elsewhere.
:: David (16:13 in Michigan, 22:13 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Lots of random week-endy stuff, mostly centering around my friend Fin being in town from DC. Some card playing, general chit-chat, and a whole lot of not much going on. Thursday I drove across the state and picked up yet more boxes from my parents' house. I am fairly certain that the basement will never actually be empty - when the last of the boxes is removed from the space, a certain amount of time will be allowed to pass, and the boxes will respawn. That said, however, the pile of stuff is definitely getting smaller - one day, probably early next year, the house will be 'finished'. At which point some event will take place which will put us back to square one. But I am ever the optimist....
:: David (01:04 in Michigan, 07:04 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, October 19 2005 ::
The UPS people love me more than I thought! My camera has returned! Hoorah! It seems to work in all the ways it didn't work before, but given that the problem was intermittent before, I've no idea if that means everything is fixed, or merely that it is waiting to surprise me. Either way, I'm happy to have it back, and you may now expect lots of tasty photos from ... well, from Michigan. But I'll try to make them tasty anyway - and if you can't find something attractive in Michigan, in autumn, you probably aren't trying hard enough!
:: David (18:11 in Michigan, 00:11 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
The CBC is reporting that Spain has issued an arrest warrant for three US soldiers for their part in the shelling of a Bagdhad hotel which killed a Spanish reporter. CNN reported the attorney for the family of the deceased "doubted the arrest warrant would have much practical effect. She said she understood that the United States would not extradite the men and that they stood little chance of arrest unless they left the United States."
:: David (17:54 in Michigan, 23:54 in Paris) - Comment
I heard a most interesting interview on NPR today. They were speaking with James Mcintyre, the spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) about facets of the recovery effort for New Orleans, and afterwards they spoke with the head of a neighbouring region. The topic at one point turned to data, and both gentlemen placed the blame for inaccurate data on the Red Cross, which was apparently the official data provider for these folks. This was especially funny given that a woman who worked for the census beareau called in during the conversation to complain that legislators had cut the budget for a project which would have given us lots more data about where evacuees had gone.
The fact is, the Red Cross is neither an arm of the government, nor is it primarily a data provider. While it is probable that having more accurate data would make their agency more efficient, it is also possible that they put qualified people on the ground after the disaster and said "go to it!" The government should not be (a) relying on nonprofit agencies for data that the government itself should be collecting, and (b) should certainly not expect an agency whose primary mission is not data collection to be the sole source of data. The fact is that, as with everything else, FEMA was ill-equipped to deal with what should have been one of its primary missions. If an agency with 'management' in its title isn't responsible for organizing information, I can't think of who is. Once again they blew it, and are now shifting the blame to others. Of course, the people we really ought to be going after are the people who designed the agency to be so dependent on other organizations in the first place....
:: David (16:15 in Michigan, 22:15 in Paris) - Comment
Well, I never thought there would be a monopoly moment involved in the process of getting my money home from France, but in fact there was - I drew the 'Bank Error in Your Favor' card. I called the bank today to verify that my euros had safely become dollars, and she informed me that they had, and that the exchange rate I had received was 1.22 dollars per euro. I asked about the fees, and she told me there had been no fees. I pressed her, and said 'but 1.22 is the provisional rate I was given when I deposited the check, and I expected that rate to change when the check was actually cashed'. At which point she broke, and informed me that they had done the process completely wrong, but since they had already credited my account with the money, it was to be left as it was, and the fees I had been told I would have to pay would not be charged, due to the same error. So I thought about it for a millisecond, and decided that was OK. So all in I figure I made around $200, since the exchange rate on the euro was dropping like a stone at the time the transaction occurred. So I guess the wine rack and the bookshelf we bought were courtesy of my bank!
:: David (13:35 in Michigan, 19:35 in Paris) - Comment
Well, the UPS man loved me today! I now have a halloween costume, as well as a lovely wine rack.
I think it was Shelby who warned me not to let my wine collection get the best of me, but I fear I may not have heeded her advice as well as I should have. We now have storage for 142 bottles of wine. Which means theoretically we could stop buying wine as soon as we are full up and not run out of wine for a year, possibly longer (we average a little less than half bottle a day). But, all that said, it sure is nice to have a place to put our wine!
More accurately, I should note that we will have a place for all our wine, as soon as we finish assembling it. We bought a rack from Wine Racks America, which came with a whole lot of assembly required. The little power drill hasn't been charged in two years, but after finishing one side semi-manually (we used the drill until it died, did some by hand, back to the drill, back to manual assembly, etc.), we decided the other side would wait for the drill to charge. The upside of this is that, unlike our previous wine rack, this one will not collapse in a heap after one of the cheap plastic footsies breaks.
:: David (20:09 in Michigan, 02:09 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Tuesday, October 18 2005 ::
Well, it isn't The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, but it does involve pants (trousers, for those who don't speak American English). Leather pants, to be precise. And it is darned funny!
As near as I can work out, it started with this eBay advert, and expanded into a website and at least one newspaper article. As I have been searching for some leather trousers for my halloween costume, my friend Lisa thought this was something I should see....
:: David (14:08 in Michigan, 20:08 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, October 17 2005 ::
We went out for dinner with a colleague from Paris yesterday evening - he's doing his studies at the University of Michigan, and had been in Paris doing his internship. There was a terrific moment early in the dinner where a misunderstanding came back to haunt me. I had told him that I was going to France for a wedding. He thought I meant my wedding, and had thus brought us a wedding present. Ah. But we survived that little hurdle, and had a great dinner. He brought along a friend from Fukuoka, Japan, which is near where I used to live in Japan, so there was much talk of all things Japanese (my colleague was also Japanese, and in fact we were at a Japanese restaurant, so there was much with the Japanese-ness going on). Overall a very enjoyable evening.
The day before that, Saturday, we had a group over to play games. Originally I had thought it would be the afternoon, but in fact it ran into the night, finishing in the early hours of Sunday. Much amusement all around for the weekend!
:: David (13:00 in Michigan, 19:00 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, October 15 2005 ::
The New York Times had an article yesterday on the complexity of doctor's bills, and their lack of any sort of readability, or relationship to money owed. The article cites the complex interactions between different payers as one of the reasons this occurs.
The OECD has done a lot of work on this issue, and in a paper, titled Private Health Insurance in OECD Countries:
The Benefits and Costs for Individuals
and Health Systems, they note that
Marketing and underwriting represent the largest
fraction of administrative expenses, but insurers also incur the cost of billing, product-innovation, and
distribution, and contracting with providers. It is to no surprise, therefore, that private insurers incur larger
administrative costs (per person insured and as a fraction of total cost) than do public health coverage
programmes. In the United States, the average administrative cost of private insurers (11.7% in 1999)
exceed those of the public programmes Medicare (3.6%) and Medicaid (6.8%) (Woolhandler et al., 2003).Unsurprisingly, the fact that private insurers are paying high administrative costs does not mean the government is not. One presumes for every administrator at a private health insurance firm making a phone call to the government, there has to be a government administrator picking up the phone. In the publication "Toward High-Performing Health Systems" (PDF), released last year, the chart on page 81 (77 of the PDF) shows it all. As the text notes, despite the fact that the majority of health care spending goes to the private sector, "public expenditure on health care represents 6% of GDP, comparable to the OECD average". Put another way, the US government spends more per head on health care than, for example, the German or Canadian government, and more than the total per capita expenditure of Japan (public and private). And that doesn't include any of the private health care expenditures in the US - which represents, let us not forget, the majority of US total health care expenditures. The US is spending roughly 50 percent more per capita than the next closest country, Finland. Do you really think Americans are 50 percent more healthy than the Finns? Really?
The long and the short is that the bogeyman summoned by those who fear a socialized medical system of a nameless, faceless medical beareaucracy that wastes all the American taxpayers' money and time is already here. But it isn't the public sector that has a million paper pushers blocking your access to medical care - it's the private sector, with its army of marketers and accountants. And the government simply burns through the tax dollars trying to keep the whole system from collapsing under its own weight. Appropriate for a country where the number one health problem is obesity....
:: David (20:29 in Michigan, 02:29 in Paris) - Comment
I had an amusing thing happen today - I was trying to get a program working, and it told me there was a network problem, so I went to configure my network, and the interface looked weird. I thought I knew why, so I configured the network the way I thought it should be, and it still wouldn't work properly. Looking closer, I realized all sorts of network settings were weird. Checking around, I discovered my computer had found someone else's wireless router, and connected to that. How long this had been going on for I have no idea. The first thing I did was to put their network back the way I had found it. The second was to tell my system never to do that again! Easier said than done, as it turned out - my computer really liked their network. I think everything is as it should be now, but I'm still wondering if anyone noticed when I took their internet down and brought it back up....
:: David (19:46 in Michigan, 01:46 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, October 13 2005 ::
An uneventful day, spent in search of parts for a lamp, and random other details. I am revising my resume, in hopes of sending it to myriad people in the coming days. Otherwise, not a whole lot going on.
:: David (22:55 in Michigan, 04:55 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Wednesday, October 12 2005 ::
Proof of geekness: we just finished taking a look at the statistical abstract of the U.S. from 1935 (PDF), trying to figure out how pervasive mechanical refrigeration was at that time. Looks like between 10 and 25 percent of homes in urban centres had one.
This all sprang from our discussion on the history of refrigeration, and of icehouses. There's an excellent article in history magazine which discusses the development of artificial cooling in the west, and points out its application in some unexpected areas. Worth reading!
:: David (10:58 in Michigan, 16:58 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, October 11 2005 ::
Hee hee. I think my costume is complete, all courtesy of Dead Men Tell No Tales.com! Any site that sends out receipts that start "Arrrr, mate, thanks fer the order!" has to be good. And given my particular fascination with talk like a pirate day, it feels good to support these guys.
:: David (23:17 in Michigan, 05:17 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Monday, October 10 2005 ::
Ah, the joys of marketing. In the land of their birth, the Smurfs have been bombed back to the stone age. UNICEF Belgium, in their most recent campaign, have created an ad showing the smurf village suffering an airstrike, and baby smurf being left all alone among smurf corpses. You can see clips linked from here, and a story on it here. RTL, the belgian television station, has a full copy of the ad, but it requires too much work to register (and it's in French).
It's a disturbing ad, and a disturbing message, but that's the point, so I can't complain too much. I think the fact that Peyo's family let the ad be made shows that the message is important.
:: David (11:55 in Michigan, 17:55 in Paris) - Comment
We went shopping today for a bookcase, hoping to come somewhat nearer to having a clean apartment, by placing all the books which were residing in boxes on nice new shelves. While searching hither and yon, we decided to stop and have lunch. I knew a place that did middle eastern food near where we were, so we went there. As we entered, I noted a sign which said something along the lines of 'we will be open during Ramadan'. Whups! It hadn't even occurred to me that I was going at mid-day to a restaurant very likely operated by people who wouldn't themselves be able to eat until sundown. (Why, you ask - read up on Ramadan) For an added level of fun, a woman came in after us, sat down, and ordered bacon.
On the upside of all this, I learned the word iftar today, which is the word for the meal which breaks the fast at sundown. Apparently the restaurant in question is doing an iftar special once the sun goes down each day.
:: David (21:33 in Michigan, 03:33 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, October 8 2005 ::
A while back, my friend Jason brought us
a world map from Egypt. Due to the number of guests we had in the spring, and the fact we were moving back that summer, we never got around to putting it up on the walls of our
More recently, we were looking for a map (while analyzing Bush's 'from Spain to
Indonesia' comments), and, perhaps because God has a sense of irony, the world
map we dug out was the (arabic) map Jason had brought us. While looking at the
map, I noticed something which struck me as completely sensible, but surprising
to my Western (and Northern) eyes - the map was not a Mercator projection!
As Sasha recently had to explain to her students, maps, like anything else, can be
used to express a worldview. In the case of the Mercator projection, many
assert that worldview is 'America and Europe are important, and the rest of you
can shove off'. American maps are actually worse than European maps, as they
place America in the center and then blithely cut Russia in half. (See, for
example, this American map versus this european one).
So the Egyptian maps do what most people in the know have been crying out
for for years - they ditch the mercator projection in favour of a
Robinson projection. This means that Africa gets its due space on the map, and the US and
Europe no longer appear to be all that matter in the world. And Greenland gets much
For further information on how projections work, you can check out
these detailed notes from a Geography 140 class (which is where the Robinson projection image came from). More information on the Mercator controversy can be found at the
on the mercator projection.
:: David (17:50 in Michigan, 23:50 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, October 7 2005 ::
Another day of sitting around the house, feeling ooky. It looks like the party this evening will have to be skipped, in favour of cards tomorrow with Erik. Sasha has gone to get yummy tasty drugs which hopefully will clear my head a bit.
The apartment is starting to come together - we've managed to get one room put together (making the other two rooms a complete sty, but we'll work on that later). One interesting problem I encountered today - the wine, which has been living under the kitchen table, is also right next to the heater. So if I turn on the heat in the apartment (it's now 18 degrees C / 65 degrees F inside) I'll cook the wine. Considering the weather forecast, I'll have to take care of that sooner, rather than later.
:: David (14:56 in Michigan, 20:56 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, October 6 2005 ::
A guy just came and took away all our used boxes from the move. I connected with him through freecycle, an organization I first ran across in Paris. The idea is simple - if you have something you want to give away, you post it to the list. Someone contacts you and says 'I'd like that!' and you give it to them. It's worldwide, so anywhere you are, more or less, there's a freecycle. Australia & NZ, Europe, North America are all well covered. It's a good system, and if you aren't already on it, you should consider joining one, if only to get rid of all your old stuff.
:: David (15:23 in Michigan, 21:23 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Courtesy of Ask the Dust I found a great virtual tour of the pere lachaise cemetary. It has several dozen 360 degree views of the cemetary, and a really great interface that lets you jump around to different locations. It also has a photo gallery for many of the really famous people buried in the cemetary, like Jim Morrison and Sarah Bernhardt.
:: David (12:55 in Michigan, 18:55 in Paris) - Comment
So, last year, in October, I came back to the states for a visit. Taking advantage of electronics prices in the states, as compared to in France, I purchased a Palm Zire 72, a wi-fi card to go with it, and a new Konica-Minolta Dimage Z3 digital camera.
Well, this was an experiment that didn't work as well as one might have hoped. The Zire 72 was virtually recalled for a problem with the paint (all the paint on mine came off after a few days) and the battery suffered serious damage in a failed experiment involving French electricity. The Z3 was a nightmare, and suffered from innumerable glitches.
In the end, I couldn't be bothered to deal with getting my products fixed in France, so now that I'm back there's been a flurry of warranty work - the palm is now a brand new unit, and the camera has been sent off. However, note that at the beginning of this post I said 'October 2004' and it is now October, 2005. The camera is going to be a close call, and they may try to charge me to fix it - I'm waiting with baited breath to see if they repair it or not. Actually, the best solution would be for the US postal system to lose it, because I insured it for its purchase price. But I don't think I can be that lucky. So we'll see what happens, and I'll keep you all posted.
:: David (12:23 in Michigan, 18:23 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Two very different takes on the same story this morning.
The basic facts are that the flu virus that killed 50 million people in 1918 has been genetically sequenced, and found to be an avian virus. In the laboratory, scientists were able to make a copy of the virus. Thus our headlines: in the US (New York Times), Experts Unlock Clues to Spread of 1918 Flu Virus - which can also be read as 'Man continues steady march to triumph over nature!' In the UK (Guardian), the headline reads Security fears as flu virus that killed 50 million is recreated - perhaps also read as 'Frankensteins's monster threatens planet!'
Somewhere between these two, perhaps, lies the truth. It certainly is interesting that we now know what the flu virus looked like. Whether or not we needed a living sample is a question perhaps beyond my ability to answer - I tend to think that living organisms are difficult to model accurately, and thus having a sample to play with can make for more accurate research. On the other hand, if that baby got out, we'd have a problem.
:: David (11:30 in Michigan, 17:30 in Paris) - Comment
Well, I made it back from France just in time to be deathly ill. I woke up this morning feeling bad, and it's only gotten worse as the day wears on. So even though the UK has decided that Iran was responsible for their war dead in Iraq, there will be no pithy commentary from me. I'm calling in sick.
:: David (22:31 in Michigan, 04:31 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Tuesday, October 4 2005 ::
So... many... boxes...! I'm drowning in boxes! And some of the stuff I shipped back from France I may never understand. Did I really need to keep parts of the newspaper from some random date? I don't think so! I have managed to get some stuff done, but mostly I'm just wandering around going 'I wonder what's in here?'
:: David (14:18 in Michigan, 20:18 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Well, I made it back. The plane got in to Detroit about 5:00PM and I was home about an hour later. It appears that I am going to have jet lag all over again, because I woke up at 7:30 this morning and just have no inclination at all of going back to bed.
I watched a number of films on the plane, including Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, and Herbie: Fully Loaded. The first and third movie were pretty much exactly what you expect - Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star in the Smith movie, and they do a good job of making it entertaining. A Herbie movie is a Herbie movie is a Herbie movie - cute car, auto racing, etc. But the Sisterhood film was quite good - just fluffy enough for an airplane ride, but really quite nice - a movie Judy Bloom would have made, if she made movies.
So when we made it back to the apartment, I discovered it had changed quite a little bit since I was last in it! We have furniture everywhere now. Stacked two deep, in some cases. So that will be a task for the coming days or weeks. And of course, now I can start thinking about finding a job....
:: David (07:53 in Michigan, 13:53 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, October 2 2005 ::
I'm back in Avignon, for my last day before I fly home. I had the room pre-booked, so once I got to town there was no hassle. Getting to town took a while, though - I left around 11AM and got in around 4:30 PM. It wasn't that I was on the train all that time, just that I had a two hour 'layover' in the middle. So I haven't done much. And I don't plan to. Some sights to see, some photos to take, but mostly just back to the room so I can wake up at like 5:30AM tomorrow and head to Paris, then to the states. Lots to do. But then I'll be home, so I can rest. One of these days I should learn to rest on holiday!
:: David (13:54 in Michigan, 19:54 in Paris) - Comment
I noticed the other day that things were happening in the rest of the world. I have had intermittent news access, and have been following things. But at the same time, when on holiday everything becomes so remote. It's easier to step back and take a long view. So if you tell me that the mess in the US is continuing, and that the new supreme court justice will roll back all our freedoms, I say 'we'll see'. Ditto for Europe and Turkey, bombs in Bali (again), etc. I find taking breaks like this lets me clear my head of the moment-to-moment analysis that is so popular now. Austria has caused a 'crisis' in Turkey's EU acession bid, for example. Except really, when you think about it they've done nothing that hasn't been going on already. Nothing has changed, except suddenly it's a 'crisis'. We'll see.
:: David (13:50 in Michigan, 19:50 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, October 1 2005 ::
Spent the day wandering the old and new cities of Carcassonne, which I have been assured by the tour guide has such a long name because scribes in the middle ages were paid by the letter. I have completely worn out all my rechargeable batteries, and one set of non-rechargeable. I fear I'll need to buy a new hard drive, and possibly a new web server, for all the pictures I have taken. Fear not - I intend to cut them down before I post them! The problem is that today I visited the castle proper, as well as taking a tour of the castle walls. I met some excellent Americans, and some excellent French people, and an excellent dog of indeterminate nationality.
I haven't decided what I think of this city - in some ways it's amazing. In other ways, I feel like it's a has-been - something I shouldn't feel in a city with one of the most-visited sites in France. I think this place may be an example of how a region with one big draw can fail to capitalize on it. The new city has almost nowhere to stay, and seems to have limited entertainment etc. It's now about ten in the evening on a Saturday, and the streets appear to be rolled up.
So tomorrow I'll begin the epic journey back to Paris, taking a noon train to Avignon, where I already have a room, so no fooling around with that. Then Monday bright and friggin' early (seven in the morning, in fact) my Train of Great Speed will take me to Paris, where I will madly search for a wine store to pick up some goodies, and on to the airport. One direct flight later, I'll be hangin' with y'all in the states. Poof!
:: David (16:26 in Michigan, 22:26 in Paris) - Comment