31 May 2009
In case you're wondering: 1 May = May Day; 8 May = Victory Europe Day (WWII); 21 May = Ascension; 1 June = Pentacost.
28 May 2009
Thursdays are they day I
This morning when I went out to the courtyard to pick up the 5eme students at 8:00 a flash of red caught my attention. As I looked up I noticed a student wearing a bright red Washington Capitals t-shirt with a big number 8 on the back, just below the name OVECHKIN (see right).
I was stunned for a second. This is France. Nobody knows anything about hockey in France. So I just pointed at the shirt and said, 'That's a Capitals shirt. And it has Ovechkin's number on the back.'
He just looked at me with a big smile and said, 'Yes'. I needed more information. 'Where did you get it?'
In a French accent he said, 'I told my my dad I wanted an Ovechkin shirt for my birthday and he found it on the internet. I just got it last week.'
How great is that? Not only am I a great father, it turns out I'm a great teacher too.
[Note: making this story even better is that my brother brought be the exact same shirt when he visited a couple weeks ago. I'm wearing it now.]
That's right, we got our car back today (need a refresher on what happend?). Getting it back is nice, if only because I no longer have to wonder how much it's going to cost us: now I know. I won't print the grand total, just suffice it to say all 5 of us could have visited DC for less -- and had some spending money to spare.
But let's not think about now. Instead let's think about how long we get to drive our French-made car until something else blows up. (That wasn't exactly fair, I know. But I feel better after writing it).
27 May 2009
I had an appointment to meet someone at 9:00 so I left the house just after 7:30 thinking that 90 minutes would be more than enough time for the trip that normally takes no more than forty-five. Well, let's just say that 90 minutes wasn't nearly enough time. Almost immediately after I left the house I had a bad feeling because the traffic reports on the radio said that the Monaco Tunnel exit was closed due to 'high traffic volume.' (I don't even know why they broadcast that on the radio because it closes because of high traffic every damn day).
So I was forced to take the next exit which goes through the narrow streets of La Turbie, a small French village high on a hill and only about 3 km from Monaco. Those three kilometers took nearly one hour. But that's not the whole story. No, to make matters worse I was inching along the road to Monaco behind a black Lamborghini and in front of a white Bentley!! I promise, I'm not making this up. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to be in a traffic jam behind a €200,000 car and in front of a €300,000 car. For nearly an hour all I wanted to do was a) rear-end the guy in front of me, or b) reverse into the guy behind me.
The only saving grace for the morning was that I got a new Hi-Def HDMI Sony DVD player for €20 (got to love it when people who live in Monaco want to get rid of 'old' stuff); and I had downloaded quite a few episodes of PTI on my iPod.
If I didn't have to rush to class later in the morning, I would have taken the train.
25 May 2009
22 May 2009
Kinda makes you tear-up a bit doesn't it? Who knew I would be such a great father.
Obscure Reference Guide: White Lion is a big-haired American/Danish glam metal band from the 80s. Their hits included 'Wait', 'When the Children Cry', and 'Lady of the Valley.' (OK, maybe not so much 'Lady of the Valley', but it was on the b-side of 'When the Children Cry' it was one of my favorite White Lion songs).
So is this the end of traditional journalism as we know it? Not if you ask publishers in Europe.
As the death toll in the American newspaper industry climbs, the German publisher Axel Springer, which owns Bild, the biggest newspaper in Europe, reported the highest profit in its 62-year history. Papers in France, Spain, and even Britain are reporting similar numbers.
At Springer’s headquarters in Berlin, there has been no desperate talk of how to survive the recession and the digital revolution. Instead, Mathias Döpfner, Springer’s chief executive, said he was looking for opportunities to expand, scouting around for acquisitions in Germany, Eastern Europe and maybe — in what would be a first for the company — the United States.
So what gives? I was talking about this very issue with my dad and brother last week and I offered the following hypothesis: American newspapers will begin to reverse their fortunes when they...stop home delivery of papers!
This is very difficult for me to say because there are few things about America I like better than the fact that I can open my door every morning and find (in my case) a Washington Post sitting on my lawn. I can then spend a good 30 minutes reading through the various sections while enjoying my morning coffee. But the simple fact is that it is just as easy (easier?) to open my laptop and read the news online.
I'm afraid we have reached a point where the average American no longer wants to read a print paper at home because there is a free and easy alternative: the internet. But, according to my admittedly-not-very-well-thought-out-theory, they will read a paper when they are away from home (think bus, metro, cafe, waiting room). This is where Europeans have a clear advantage over Americans: they use public transportation much more frequently; when they stop for coffee they drink it on the premises, not on the go; and they generally create 'me time' during the day that lends to activities such as reading newspapers.
Of course I could be totally wrong, but the following news clip caught my eye and spurred this little blog entry.
DETROIT — Executives with Detroit's daily newspapers say they have kept more readers and subscribers than they expected, more than a month after reducing home delivery and increasing electronic offerings.
But they say Web traffic and single-copy sales have increased since March 30 _ the day they launched the plan to deal with declining circulation and changing readership tastes. Home delivery now is limited to Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
I'm not happy about this trend, believe me. But I am enough of a newspaper nerd that I am in favor of whatever will help the papers survive.
18 May 2009
There's a simple lesson here: hire a babysitter -- for all of us.
"The Belgian bodybuilding championship has been canceled after doping officials showed up and all the competitors fled. A doping official says bodybuilders just grabbed their gear and ran off when he came into the room."
It's not even that bad when the officials show up at the Tour de France.
16 May 2009
Perhaps our favorite was this massive yacht behind Jeremy and my dad. We were in San Remo, Italy when we saw 'Mirabella V', the world's biggest single-mast yacht. The mast alone is 292 ft. It's a charter yacht that you can get for $400,000 per week. (Hey, if a few of us all chip in...). You can see more about this yacht here.
I'll have more updates later for family and friends, including some details of the high-stakes ping-pong games (matches?) that have taken place in the back yard. But for now, we'll leave it at that.
07 May 2009
Jeez, that last one is wiping me out. But I'm loving it.
Oh, and I can't find my keys. Merde!
04 May 2009
TARADEAU, France -- To the buttoned-down European Union bureaucrats in Brussels, the idea was simple: squeeze costs, conquer new markets, maximize profits. But to the vintners of Taradeau, a sun-splashed Provencal village 800 miles to the south -- and a world away, mentally -- it was an attack on their Mediterranean heritage, a crack in French civilization, a fraud against wine lovers everywhereCJS
02 May 2009
01 May 2009
You can see previous Friday Funny Clips (picked by various members of the family) here.