15 February 2011

The Next Domino

AFTER A SHORT discussion about the latest events in the Middle East, my class took an informal vote on which country would be the next to boot its leader. The results:
  • Yemen - 12%
  • Algeria - 43%
  • Bahrain - 3 %
  • Iran - 12 %
  • Lybia - 20%
  • None, that's it for now - 10%
In this particular class I have students from both Algeria and Bahrain and for they record, they did NOT for for their own country. Neither sees it happening in their country any time soon.

On verra.

Bac Blanc

JUST TALKED WITH two students as they came out of the history bac blanc -- they were generally pleased with the questions, though a bit tired after having endured 12 hours of exams over the past two days. Three days to go!!

The Bac is brutal.

14 February 2011

Valentine's Day, Circa late '70s

THE FIRST VALENTINE'S Day I really remember was when I was in the 2nd grade. I remember it so well because it was the first time I experienced the joy of exchanging Valentine's Day cards with my classmates. My teacher at St. Helena (CA) Elementary school was Ms. Spaulding and she sent a note home to all parents explaining that we would be having a class party on the afternoon of the 14th and that every student should be prepared to participate. This meant, of course, that parents had to run out to the supermarket to buy a pack of Valentine's Day cards and some little heart candies that could be put inside each envelope. Each candy had a little message engraved on the front and the hardest part of the whole event was choosing which message to put in whose envelope. For the boys I usually went for the oh-so-platonic messages like 'You're Cool' or 'Way to Go'. Choosing candies for the girls was much more complicated: Who get's the heart that says 'Be Mine'? Do I dare give out the 'You're Cute' candy? And why isn't there a heart that says 'Why Do You Keep Ignoring Me, Bitch?'

To make matters worse, my mom used to make me write a little message on each card. What is an 8 year old supposed to write? Usually it ended up being something like 'Nice Pants' or 'Can't Wait for Recess'. Since my mom was watching to make sure I wrote something to everyone in my class (even the annoying girls) I wasn't able to reference cooties or body odor on any of the cards, making the whole experience a bit of a waste of time in my estimation. But in the end the party was a lot of fun -- and if nothing else I had 24 candy hearts to eat when I got home.

Ah yes -- memories of childhood Valentine's Days. Priceless.

12 February 2011

Sat Night in Geneva

AFTER A FULL day yesterday discussing and defending my thesis, I'm now experiencing what can only be describe as heaven on earth for me: I'm in Geneva, at a Starbucks, watching the Capitals live on my computer.

...and as I am typing, Ovechkin scores.

Earlier today I had another heavenly moment when I found a cold bottle of Dr. Pepper at COOP. It's the first bottle of the drink I have ever seen in Europe. I thought it deserved a photo:

11 February 2011


STUNNING! OF COURSE, the hard part for Egypt starts now.

I told my students last week that I was their age (roughly) in 1989 when half a continent saw a change in political power. I watched communism fall in eastern Europe and fell in love with politics and international relations. I'm not sure we are witnessing the same thing now, but if Tunisia and Egypt are the start of something really, really big -- I hope my students are paying attention.

08 February 2011

No Lunch with George W.

LOOKS LIKE THERE is no way I'm going to be having lunch with George W. Bush this weekend. I'll be in Geneva on Friday for a few 'school' related things and I just found out that W. has canceled a trip he had planned to Geneva because of some human rights groups were planning to protest a speech he was scheduled to give. Apparently, there was even the threat of some legal action over allegations that Bush is a war criminal. Some left wing group, I'm sure.

Too bad. I was hoping to run into the former president in the Eaux Vives and invite him for a kebab at Café Istanbul.

06 February 2011

Fruits of our Labor

26.5 Liters. That's how much fresh olive oil I picked up at the Moulin de Baussy et Fils in Speracedes yesterday afternoon. Since early November we have been harvesting olives from the more than 20 trees at our house and taking them to the mill in batches. Last weekend I delivered the final 15 kilos, bringing our season total to 161 kilos of olives.

So yesterday I took three containers to the mill -- including the 20 liter gas can you see in the photo on the left -- and had them filled. On the way home I stopped at our local boulangerie for some bread and we had our official tasting. The results from the family are in: Julia: really good. Patrick: really good. Henry: mmmm. Kerri: a nice bite at the end. Me: really good.

Half of the oil will be saved for the owners of the house and we will get to keep the other half. 13 liters should last us a good long time.

We've sort of documented the process and here's a quick look back at the last few months:

After shaking the trees, Julia gets some help sorting the olives from the leaves.

After they are picked they need to rest for a few days in a cool, dry area-- Kerri makes sure they get moved every day so they don't spoil

Load 'em up in the car. This was our first batch - 77 kilos

Carry them in to the mill. Yes, that is snow on the Cote d'Azur. It happens every once in a while.

Put it on your dining table and take a photo.

Today's Schedule

I WAS TEMPTED to simply copy and past my post from last year's Super Bowl Sunday onto this post because my schedule today is almost identical to the one from last year. The only difference is that today I spent 4 hours outside reading and studying in glorious sunshine and an additional couple of hours practicing a bit of music with a little group I play with in a neighboring village. Other than that: coffee in the morning, study in the afternoon, Caps/Penguins online at 6:30, early to bed, set the alarm for just after midnight so I can watch the Super Bowl. To be at about 4:00am.

Tomorrow's classes? The students will probably not get my best.

04 February 2011

News Not Good

UNFORTUNATELY, THE NEWS about the missing student I talked about last week is not good. The body of David Manassen was found last evening in a heavily wooded area near Gourdon. It appears as if his car went off the road and plunged down the side of the cliff. Story in French is in today's Nice Matin. A very sad time for the family and his extended family here at the CIV.

02 February 2011

Paris-Nice Revealed

THE DAYS ARE getting noticeable longer. This evening I took Julia to her flute lesson at 6:00pm and it was still light outside. A month ago that was not the case. Of course, longer days means spring is coming and in this part of the world spring means...cycling. For the fourth year in a row we will attend the Paris-Nice and Milan-San Remo races and despite the fact that it's the 'boys' who are usually most excited about this -- the girls get pretty excited as well.

And this year should be great because the second-to-last stage of Paris-Nice will roll through our village! The stage starts in Brignoles and finishes on a curcuit in Sophia-Antipolois (where I work). But just before arriving in Sophia the peleton will come down the Col de Gourdon and ride through Le Rouret/Opio/Valbonne/Biot/Sophia. I know what we'll be doing that day!

On the final day the route will be the familiar Nice curcuit that finishes with a mad dash down from Eze into Nice. For the past couple of years we have watched the start (on the Promenade des Anglais) then made our way up to Eze with a little lunch to watch from just outside the village. There's a good chance we'll be doing that again in a few weeks!

I really like this time of year.