31 August 2008
My 'Diner Buddies' and I have been emailing back and forth about the latest political developments in the US. But it was more fun when we talked about these things on Friday mornings.
There were three of us who used to meet every Friday at the Tastee Diner (see photo) in Silver Spring, MD at 6:30am. We usually talked about sports and politics (is there anything else?) while chowing down on oatmeal, juice, and coffee. [Note: OK, I admit oatmeal is kind of a pansy thing for three strapping men in their 30s to eat at a greasy diner. But it's not as bad as you think: we ordered it with raisins and brown suger!] It was also understood that, if at all possible, none of us was to schedule any work appointments until at least 10:00 on Fridays. Priorities!
I miss the Diner (not the restaurant, the Friday mornings) -- especially during high campaign season. With one of us now living in Virginia, one in California, and one in France, we're going to have to make a specially effort to reclaim our Friday mornings! But it will happen.
With any luck they've changed the schedule completely.
27 August 2008
Last night we joined them for dinner at a nice little Afghan restaurant here in Puivert (yes, there is an Afghan restaurant in this tiny french village!). We had a great time talking about their travels, US politics (Vic loves US politics!), and their life in France.
While on the subject, I encourage you to visit Vic's blog because it summarizes and incredible feat that he will undertake next year. Vic will be 70 next summer and he is planning to walk from Puivert to his childhood home...in Northern England!! Both Vic and Gay are avid walkers and cyclists so I have no doubt that he will be able to do this. His goal is to make the walk in 70 days, arriving at the home where he was born on his 70th birthday! How great is that. You can see all the details at vicsbigwalk.blogspot.com.
24 August 2008
iPOD'S HAVE BEEN around for a long time, but we have only had one for about 4 months. For Mother's Day I bought Kerri an video iPod [Note: if subjected to Dick Cheney-style interrogation methods I might have to amend the previous sentence to read: 'for Mother's day I bought myself a video iPod...which Kerri occasionally gets to use']. Anyway, since we now have this device we log on to iTunes from time to time to see what music we might like to download. We've downloaded a wide variety of things -- from classical, to jazz, to rock, to High School Musical (both albums!), to French lessons. But it wasn't until about 2 weeks ago that I figured out how to create a playlist -- a self-created 'album' of sorts. Since I've started listening to the iPod during bike rides (listening in only one ear means I'm being safe, right?) I was now able to create a playlist to listen to while riding around. Here's the list in the order it plays:
- Eminem: 'Lose Yourself'' (a little motivation to start)
- The Killers: 'Somebody Told Me"
- Jimmy Eat World: 'The Middle' (I'm a sucker for cheap guitar pop)
- Linkin Park: 'One Step Closer'
- Linkin Park: 'Crawling' (Two Linkin Park songs a bit much? Probably.)
- Dream Theater: 'Constant Motion' (4 words from the song: 'wheels in constant motion')
- Dream Theater: 'Forsaken' (Two Dream Theater songs a bit much. No Chance!)
- Clay Aiken: 'Solitaire' (just kidding!)
- Foo Fighters: 'Everlong'
- The Killers: 'Mr. Brightside'
- Disturbed: 'Facade'
- Blur: 'Song 2' (Caps beat the Sens in '98) *
- Europe: 'Final Countdown' (don't judge me)
- Coldplay: 'Vida la Vida' (Hey, there is such thing as a cool down!)
That's it. That's the list. Of course, I can only pick from songs that are actually on the iPod and since I don't really too many songs I'm a bit limited (I think we've used about 1/3 of the total capacity so far). What am I missing?
We're letting Patrick and Julia put together playlists next. Maybe we'll post those as well.
*[Obscure reference: 'Caps beat the Sens' -- a reference to the fact that in 1998 the Ottawa Senators of the NHL began playing 'Song 2' by Blur during their playoff games (and introduced the Woo Hoo towels). The Caps met the Sens in the playoffs that year and beat them 4 games to 1. I've liked the song ever since.]
23 August 2008
22 August 2008
21 August 2008
No so in France. At the appropriate time, a simple 'bonjour' is just right.
18 August 2008
That was a clip from the Athens Games, but it's similar to what we watched from Beijing today. The kids think it's awesome -- especially compared to what their dad can do on the trampoline at a local park we go to from time to time. I can barely stick my landing on a single forward flip. Boring!
15 August 2008
We were wrong.
The race was actually the Critérium Cycliste International de Quillan, the oldest criterium bike race in France (it was first held in 1938). And it's not a bunch of amateurs; it's actually a well-repsected race that draws some great riders -- past winners include Jacques Anquetil, Laurent Fignon, Pedro Delgado, Richard Virenque, George Hincapie, and Sandy Casar. And while today's race did include some area amateurs, it also featured Tour de France riders Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Stéphane Goubert (AG2R), Nicholas Portal (Caisse d'Espargne) and...Tour winner and CSC rider Carlos Sastre (that's him with P & J in the above photo). A total of 50 riders made 75 loops around a 1.12 km curcuit through tiny village streets and Sastre ended up winning the race after a final lap sprint against Chavanel and Goubert. [Note: I must admit that I was convinced Sastre wasn't going to try to win. I told my wife and mother-in-law that he would just show up, collect his appearance fee, finish in the middle of the pack, and return home to Spain. Boy was I wrong. He led out on a lot of the laps and sprinted to a relatively easy finish. Geez, now I like him even more than I already did.]
Henry has a prime spot to see Stéphane Goubert.
The narrow streets of Quillan, France.
The bridge leading into Quillan.
P & J with Sylvain Chavanel
14 August 2008
We visited Céret today and spent some time in the Musée d'Art Moderne Céret where we were able to see some original Picasso works (no Braque -- too bad). The kids actually enjoyed the museum, partly because we made an effort to work our way through it pretty quickly, and partly because their school project was still fresh in the minds.
After the trip to Ceret we made a quick stop along the coast for some ice cream and coffee, then returned home where we had a nice treat from our neighbors (see here for more): fresh rasberry muffins. Now, I'm not one to throw hyperbole around lightly, but I could have eaten about 1000 of them -- they were that good. A big 'thanks' from all of us.
And this quick photo with PP and GG at the coast in St. Cyprien.
13 August 2008
11 August 2008
This photo is so in need of a good caption. Got one? Let us know.
While on the topic of the Olympics, I must admit that it's a little disappointing not watching the games on NBC, and not just because I have a bit of a man-cruch on Matt Lauer. There is something very patriotic about watching the Games on a network that focuses on your own country. This is the second Olympics in which I have been out of the country, but the first in which the USA was involved (yes, bright readers, the other Games were 1980 -- when the US boycotted the Moscow Games). But I must admit that the coverage on BBC and France 2 and France 3 has been pretty comprehensive so far, with a fair amount of coverage of all sports and all countries. There is intense coverage of the swimming events, with Michael Phelps the huge story (by the way, was that about as good a 4x100 relay as you will ever see?) and I have seen live coverage of both the US men's and women's basketball teams. Gymnastics will be covered in depth beginning Tuesday and that's always fun once every four years. Of course, I've also seen a lot of live fencing and more rowing that I need, but that's OK.
One key difference I've noticed between US coverage and the coverage I'm getting here is that neither the BBC or French TV package the Games into a tight prime-time program like NBC does in the States. We aren't able to find much Olympic coverage after about 5:00pm local time (11:00pm in China) because the general feeling seems to be that if you don't see the events live then you're stuck with getting the results from short highlights on the news programs. BBC has a nice highlights package that is available 24/7, but no prime-time programming. A subtle difference to be sure; but something that takes some getting used to.
Late Update: our friend Monique (see her here) has the answer as to what GWB is doing in the above photo. And she should know -- she used to work with the girls in the photo. Read the comments! Thanks Monique!
10 August 2008
From Norway With Love (that's Roland, for those of you who know) recently asked if we saw any Antonio Goudi buildings. Well, yes, we saw lots -- that was one of the main things I was looking forward to in Barcelona. Here are just a couple:
08 August 2008
06 August 2008
05 August 2008
I'm not tempted to give all the historical details about Carcassonne (OK, yes I am) because it would take too long to include everything. Instead I'll just comment on a few points and let you read about the amazing history on your own. (oh come on, click and read up on a bit of history!). Here are a few thoughts from our day trip:
- Is Carcassonne incredibly touristy? Yes. Does it matter? No.
- We went to a medieval knight-fighting demonstration (you know, jousting, horses, sword fights, princes, princesses). It was actually not much different from the kind of show you can see in places like Medieval Times in the U.S. -- the only real difference is that in Carcassonne you watch the show inside the walls of a 12th century fortress and in the States you watch it in a non-descript building in a strip mall.
- I've got to admit that the Knights in these kinds of shows are often pretty good looking.
- We attended a organ concert in the Basilique Saint-Nazaire (10th c.) which was amazing. The huge pipe organ dates back to the 1522 and is one of the oldest in the world.
- If the tourist shops make even 1 Euro profit for every plastic sword, shield, axe, or helmet that they sell, that's a business opportunity I want to get involved in. Every damn kid who left the castle had one.
- People who have seen the fireworks show here on 14 July say it's breath-taking. I'll bet it is.
- A couple photos to illustrate some of my points (more to come in the photo section at the top of the page)
04 August 2008
Il y a des mouches partout!
Don't know if I said that right, but what I am trying to say is that there seem to be a lot of flies in this part of the country. It probably has something to do with number of cows, goats, sheep, and horses in the area (or, more specifically, the amount of -- shall we say -- 'bi-product' produced by the cows, goats, sheep, and horses). Whatever the reason, the flies are beginning to interfere with my summer. At this moment I am trying to type while simultaneously flailing my arms in all sorts of directions trying to kill one that is buzzing around my head.
I will kill that fly, I promise you that.
Late Update: Done.
01 August 2008
Thanks to Google Earth, you can see the route we took -- and you can click to enlarge.