Tuesday, July 30, 2013


They say that you can't see all of Versailles in one  day. Absolutely true. The place is a monument to excess. The line just to get in is huge -on a busy day, about an hour of standing on a cobblestoned plain. Crowd control is poor, amenities nonexistent. No benches, no shade, no vendors, no toilets. And precious few inside,either.  The building is magnificent, but my feeling is: if you've seen three huge halls and one huge chapel, you've seen them all.

Though I admit that the gate attendant was surprised when I left before trying to slog all the way through.

Monday, July 29, 2013

some lessons

If you are using a prepaid SIM card, make ABSOLUTELY sure you know EXACTLY how to reload it, and dont wait till that last minute. For one thing, French tabacs, which sell recharge cards, are closed on Monday (the one next to my hotel, anyway).

English language GPS is nice but when it mangles foreign street names, it can be infuriating.

Small portable tool are useful.  This includes tweezers.

Always pack Pepto-Bismol (not available in france). Antacids, too.

Credit card companies will block access to your card - even a prepaid debit - if they suspect your 'pattern of purchases' indicates someone stole the card. You get to call them and list the last few, to prove its you.

Hats are a good idea, even if they DO make you look like a tourist.

Small smart phones are nice, but TOO small can drive you crazy.

Dropbox is a terrific service, although the upload function for Android could use a ´select all´ option.

The TGV is expensive and worth it.

The French autoroute tolls are automated and take euro coins. Some take euro notes. They dont take prepaid debit cards, even with chips. Chipped credit only.

French banks don´t  like to give change.  Stores don´t, either.

Internet access is not a given. Neither is air conditioning.


You hear about people who can happily slog across Europe or Soutb America, live in hostels, chow down on the local food, mix with the natives. Yeah, thats not me. I do like where I am at the moment,especially now the temperature is no longer in the scorching range, and I am already think about the next time that we come   - but right now, with two days to go---- I'm essentially packed.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


The 18 year old daughter of a fritend is now officially part of a couple...three days after having a screaming, crying, shrieking argument with him.

I really don't understand teen girls.

yeah, but..

Many words sound nicer in French. La Poubelle,  for example,is the trash can. Nicer.

Hearing a French truck emptying la poubelle at 7AM, though.... Not so magical.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


2 weeks without internet access, finally got it. Bliss. Next day ...Man this thing is slow!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


I'll be gone for the next three weeks.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


This promo for a new game looks pretty interesting..... bet the NSA would like it!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Nothing like packing for a trip and seeing 3 weeks supply of the drugs you take, all in one place, to make you feel old and decrepit.  Pretty soon I'm going to need a separate bag, just for the drugs.

Wondermark Excellence

Monday, July 08, 2013


We just had a moderately tense discussion with our daughter.

The primary focus was her desire to attend a drill team event that's being held over three days, at a location that's 90 minutes from here.  We don't feel comfortable with the idea of her driving that far, that often.  Mixed into that is the cost of that event, and whether we're willing to pay any of it, as well as the cost of another event, more expensive, and whether we're willing to pay any of that.  I know that it's traditional for fathers to feel as if they're the child's draw-at-will checking account, but this was a bit much.  It particularly affected my wife, who made the point - with obvious efforts at self control - that the daughter's going to get everything she wants, here, and not even have to fund it all, while we're asking her to do things - cleaning her room being the big one - and getting blown off.  We finally got it somewhat resolved, though, as I said to my daughter later, you have to realize that this is generosity on our part; unlike college, we don't feel the need to fund any of this.  But, she pointed out, I did say that I could pay it all myself if necessary.  Yes, I replied, I heard that.  It sounded like Hey, I don't need you to let me go, I can pay for this out of my own funds! She had the grace to look abashed, and to admit that that was part of it.

And then, ten minutes later, she asked me what I thought of an idea for a volunteer summer job, next year, that would give her practical experience in arranging the logistics for about 170 people in a drill team - arranging food, arranging practice arenas, setting up transportation, getting props moved,  setting up sleeping locations, all of that.  I told her that so long as she realized this would mean she wouldn't be earning money, the experience itself sounded quite valuable.  Not sure it will happen, but she's thinking about it.

So we're still a little disgruntled, but perhaps not quite as much as three hours ago.

Sunday, July 07, 2013


Don't offer comments when a woman is angry about her daughter's failure to clean to the mother's standards.


Found here.

  1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread eaters.
  2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.
  3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever and influenza ravaged whole nations.
  4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.
  5. Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!
  6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low occurrence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis.
  7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after only two days.
  8. Bread is often a "gateway" food item, leading the user to "harder" items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter and even cold cuts.
  9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.
  10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.
  11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.
  12. Most American bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

Saturday, July 06, 2013


Last week we Tivo'd a flick called RED, the original version of one called RED 2 that's coming out this month.  The previews of that one looked pretty good.... and now that we've seen the original, I can see why it yelled 'sequel me'!  I think that in the whole 90 minutes or so there were, perhaps, 2 minutes that were wasted.  Not at all a bad flick.  Here's hoping the sequel lives up to it.

La Maison Des Voitures

This is the kind of thing I admire greatly and would never, ever consider getting.... even if I could afford it, which is another never ever.

But the 'dream of every man' moniker seems a bit much.....

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


I received our invitation to our friend's wedding in Paris, to be held at the end of the month. Based on the quality of the invitation, I now understand why they're having three separate ceremonies.  It's easily the classiest thing that has ever arrived in our mailbox. 


I just read an article on a new, fresh idea in administration of city and state government.   Actually, a couple of ideas.

One is, don’t administer by emotion, administer by data.  Track what works, determine why it works, propagate it.

The other is, give people the freedom to determine how to meet goals, using their own initiative.  Don’t tell them how, tell them what.   And along the way, establish communications with other agencies, so that you can support each others goals.

Speaking of which: have goals.  Broad, overarching, multi-year, multi-agency goals.

I don’t know what’s worse – realizing that these people are hotted up for something that the private sector discovered more than a decade ago, or realizing that they’re hotted up for something that the private sector substantially gave up on, more than a decade ago.  Actually, to say gave up on is unfair, since many of the pieces are still out there, and I’m willing to bet that those which haven’t been overcome by the creeping algae of bureaucracy are still pumping along.  But the original, shiny, Big Idea Big Picture stuff that looked so good before they took off the wrapper and tried to make it work?  That, not so much.

People really want fast, straightforward solutions.  Government’s no different, I guess.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013


So the Supremes now say that if you are silent when talking to the police, they can take that as an admission of guilt, and that you have to say you don't want to talk to them before you have Fifth Amendment rights, only those don't come into play until you're arrested?

Police state, coming up.

Monday, July 01, 2013


Found here, at katinca.tumblr.com.