29 November 2009
At the local school there was one class that had eleven students missing due to sickness last Friday. Three of those are now confirmed Swine Flu so I assume they'll keep that class home for the required seven days. Patrick and Julia are not in that class, but many of their friends have siblings who are. At my own school we've had a huge number of students calling in sick. Two students were recently hospitalized with Swine Flu (although both are now fine and back in school).
I read that the Alps-Maritimes (where we live) has had the the highest number of people with Swine Flue and the highest rate of school closures in all of France. Anyone know why? Kerri is sitting next to me and just suggested it might have something to do with the amount of traveling done by people who live here (keep in mind that a relatively high percentage of people live here but work elsewhere -- like in Paris, London, Geneva, and Zurich, for example -- so there are a lot of people cramped on planes every week).
Well, in some ways it might be a long winter.
As part of the Party Package we got a little party during the skating and Kerri and I were quite impressed by the quality of the cake that was served. There is a photo below but I'm sure it won't do it justice. We're talking super super good. Expensive, but really good. We should have known that the French would take dessert seriously. Anyway, the kids all had fun -- despite the fact that a few were missing because of various illnesses.
All done for another year of birthdays for the twins. We learned a long time ago that the key to great birthday parties is not to have them at your house!! This year we once again had a great time celebrating with Patrick, Julia and their friends.
(Kerri literally just walked in to tell me that another friend won't be coming because...you guessed it. Sick! So it may just be a family outing to the skating rink by the time this thing gets going. Too bad for Julia though, she's feeling a bit sad).
Photos coming -- especially of me since I'll be Rockin' the Red on the rink in my Ovechkin t-shirt.
26 November 2009
...but we all know that it's not quite the same.
Our immediate family used to share the day together almost every year at Kerri's parents house. This year our family will be spread out throughout the US -- Florida, Tennessee, Maryland, California...
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Or as a colleague said to me yesterday: "Appy Zanksgiving".
24 November 2009
- Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 7 - 26%
- Mozilla Firefox 3.5.5 - 15.6%
- Mozilla Firefox 3.0.1 - 14.8%
- Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 6 - 13%
- Safari 4.0.4 - 9.6%
- Safari 4.0.3 - 5.4%
- Google Chrome - 1%
23 November 2009
And that was just part of our 'American' evening.
22 November 2009
But a big thanks to Sean for doing almost all the cooking and to Kristi for opening up her house.
Out taste buds were very much satisfied.
18 November 2009
To understand why this is great, you need to understand that France just qualified for the World Cup (see next post) and did so thanks in part to a horrible non-call by the officials. In overtime, Theirry Henry clearly played the ball with his left hand in the box just before setting up the equalizing goal -- a goal which put France up 2-1 on aggregate. That's the way the game ended and France is going to South Africa.
Everyone seems to have seen it except the officials. Ireland probably deserved better.
This is about as good as it gets for me -- qualifiying matches for the World Cup. I'd rather be watching baseball, American football, or hockey, but I'll take this -- mainly because games like the one tonight have something that American sports rarely get: important games that pit country against country. For France this is a moment of national unity; for Ireland it's probably something even great than that, if that's possible.
America doesn't get this very often. Rare is the moment when the United States can rally around a national team in a sport they really care about. There are no moments like this in Football, baseball, or basketball. It just doesn't happen, and that's too bad. Sure, American's will root their hearts out for the US soccer team during big matches, but can you imagine if there was a meaningful tournament like that in a sport we really cared about.
Anthem just played. Allez les Bleus!
Oh, and if you haven't been following the Egypt-Algeria rivalry, you can catch-up here. Algeria finally claimed the spot for the World Cup, but this might be an example of when country vs. country sports get carried away. I was happy for Algeria and glad they won, partly because of the violence against them when they played last weekend in Cairo.
Update: France and Ireland draw 1-1 giving France the win 2-1 on aggregate. But the game-tying goal by France (in overtime) comes on a terrible, terrible non-call by the officials. Theirry Henry clearly plays the ball with his left hand in the box and sets up the goal -- everyone seemed to see it except the officials.
16 November 2009
We checked with some friends and asked what to do -- our friend Candide even called the number for us to inquire and/or explain our situation. She was told that we should send two checks for 375 Euros to the police along with our letter explaining the situation; the police would then make a decision on our appeal and if they accepted it, would reimburse us the money.
Yeah, I don't think so. I wasn't about to send 700 Euros to the French police with the hope that they might find it in their hearts to give us some of the money back.
Some other friends and colleagues suggested we just resend our letter of explanation (this time with the Registered stamp) and two checks for 90 Euros, the original fine for the tickets. The theory was that the police would either accept the checks or write us back and officially explain why they were not accepting the checks. If they took the money, great. If they didn't, at least we would extend the process by several weeks or months. So Kerri re-wrote the letter and sent it with two checks.
Yesterday as I was looking at our bank account on line I noticed the two checks have been cashed. Seems to me this means the ordeal is over.
Of course, I'm not betting on that.
This morning Kerri made coffee (normally my job, but I've been slacking during this sickness) and when I walked into the kitchen I craved it for the first time in 8 days. That's a good sign. It may have helped that it was Dunkin Donuts coffee.
13 November 2009
11 November 2009
We were living in Silver Spring, Maryland at the time and four of the shootings took place in Silver Spring -- the first ended the life of a member of our church, a cab driver who was gunned down while putting gas into his taxicab. What made the rampage so frightening to DC area residents was that Muhammad and Malvo struck when people were doing their mundane, ordinary activities: mowing their lawn, shopping, filling their cars with gas, walking to school, or going to a restaurant. To give you an idea of how fearful we were, when Kerri or I would get gas we would put the pump into the tank then get into the car an lean the seat back as far as possible and wait there until the fueling was complete. Some gas stations even erected massive canvass tarps to shield their stations from view. Crazy. Read more about the storyhere.
JARRATT, Va. -- John Allen Muhammad, the sniper who kept the Washington region paralyzed by fear for three weeks as he and a young accomplice gunned down people at random, was executed Tuesday night by lethal injection.
Muhammad, a man who directed what many law enforcement officials consider one of the worst outbursts of crime in the nation's history, died in Virginia's death chamber while relatives of his victims looked on.
Unlike his victims, Muhammad knew when and how he was going to die. He and Jamaican immigrant Lee Boyd Malvo, then 17, killed 10 people in the Washington area during a terrifying rampage in October 2002; they also have been linked to shootings in several other states.
I haven't thought about those three weeks in 2002 in quite a while, but I sure was reminded when I read the news this morning. I'm a fairly strong opponent of the death penalty so I wasn't happy to read that Muhammad had been executed -- seems to me his death does little more than provide a sense of retribution or revenge.
But maybe I'm wrong.
06 November 2009
Chipotle, Sportscenter, World Series, grapes with no seeds, Today Show, Old Navy, Marshall's, Border's, Taco Bell, Best Buy, Target, Capitals games on TV, Capitals game in person, church, Life cereal, Ledo's, Moby Dick, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, more Sportscenter, Trick or Treating, X-box, Sierra's, In-laws, mom, brother, Kevin, Lynn, Eliot, Sophia, my brother's new (first!) house, excavators, Monday Night Football, more World Series, Baja Fresh, lots of banks, Root Beer, cable news, talking to some French guys at Fuddrucker's, Christmas shopping for the kids, packing, phone calls to Kerri, Wal-Mart (for children's medicine), driving on big and straight roads, The Office, The Washington Post, Uncle Mik in the hospital, middle-eastern food, more middle eastern food, chats with friends and family, and two really nice flights on British Airways.
All this plus a little hint of missing France.
04 November 2009
It's great to be back with Kerri and the kids. Sure, I'd love to be watching game 6 of the World Series tonight, but I'll have to settle for Champion's League action. (Liverpool/Lyon). The quick trip was successful in the sense that I got done what I needed to get done. It was also great because I got to spend time with family and friends and take care of some of my All Things American withdrawals.
But the kids were mainly interested in what I had in my suitcases. I can't show them everything since half of the stuff is for their upcoming birthdays and/or Christmas (and a lot of it is from grandparents). But there were some choice items that I pulled out for them: Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, Graham Crackers, regular Cheerios, Captain Crunch, Peanut Butter, Fruit Roll-Ups, Cinnamon-Raisin bagels, and a few other treats. I had a few things for Kerri as well -- mainly coffees from Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.