Archive for November, 2008

2008.11.20

Observations from Paris about Paris

I’ve been here a while and I’ve… Notice things. Things that are so noticeable even I noticed them. That’s notable.

The context: it’s mid-November, the skies have been overcast and it’s mildly chilly, perhaps in the high 40s or low 50s.

Parisians are bundled up like the it’s an ice age. I’ve never seen so many scarves and hats. But the scarves and hats are of the highest designer fashion. In fact almost all of the clothing I’ve seen looks like the person bought it that morning at some boutique store and put it on for the day and will throw it away that night. Outside of Paris fashion diminishes. People there look like they might have worn their clothes for more than one day.

Cars lack bumper stickers here. As opposed to America where you can often tell a person’s political affiliation, the causes they subscribe to, and the kind of humor they espouse (or blatantly lack) here you can’t tell anything by the back of their car.

The French have more bookstores than in America. I don’t know if they read more because I haven’t actually seen a single person reading a book yet, but they definitely devote more shelf space to books. The book section in Carrefour, France’s equivalent to WalMart, is larger than most bookstores in America. Quite shocking.

Also shocking, at least it would be to many Americans, is the fact that there is a huge appreciation for comic books and that comics featuring nudity are placed low enough for children to reach for them. I don’t think they are placed that way to entice children, but I was rather surprised to see boobs at about the level of my knees.

The French also seem to love Japanese manga. I hardly saw any American comics, and of that even less of the superhero genre.

There seems to be less casual humor around here. I sat outside for about 20 minutes the other day watching people pass on the street. I saw a grand total of four people out of the hundreds going by that had a smile, either walking on their own or talking in groups. People’s eyes are far from dead, but I can’t imagine what is going on behind them. If they were happy I couldn’t tell, even by their body language. It’s kinda weird.

No pictures yet (as I mentioned I wanted to do in my last post). Apologies for that…

1 Comment | Catergorized: books  life  manga  paris  thoughts

2008.11.17

Working in Paris

As if posting was inadequate enough of late, I’m in Paris right now working. Well, not literally this moment. Right now it’s 11:30PM and I’m trying to motivate myself to goto bed. That it’s almost midnight on my second day here seems to indicate I’m over my jet lag. Coffee helps.

It’s kind of odd to be back. I was here a year and a half ago and while not much has changed, something definitely has. Maybe it’s the different season (it was a bloody hot summer last time, now it’s a late autumnal chill) or maybe it’s the fact that most places have banned smoking indoors causing the natives to be a touch nastier or maybe it’s the lesser number of tourists… I’m not sure. Whatever it is, I’m not worried about it; I’m in Paris. The only drawback is I’m working and am not able to take a few extra days to myself.

Of course working is fine. I love my job (though I still say bartending was my favorite job). I just wish I made the kind of money that coming back here for myself, on a whim, made possible. I’ll get right on that. In the meantime I’ll try to take a few obscure pictures and post them up… There are many strange details in Paris (and most European cities) that American cities mostly seem to lack.

For example on any given sidewalk, if it is more than a meter wide, at some random distance down the block, they will have posts sticking up. They serve no purpose. I’m willing to bet no one knows, if they’ve even noticed them. These are some of the things that give a place character. And something to jam your leg into stumbling home after too many glasses of wine.

1 Comment | Catergorized: life  paris  work

2008.11.12

2008 Election Maps

I love maps. I always have. I knew there would be some interesting ones made surrounding the 2008 presidential election, but the first maps I found showed the results of the electoral maps since the first American election. What I like about the site is it shows the candidates, their running mates, the results of the electoral college and the popular vote, and takes you to useful Wikipedia entries about the elections. Very nice.

But what I really wanted to find was the national map that showed a simple red/blue of America and I found that, and more, here.

Red and Blue State Map

What I love about this map is that it seems to show that there is no way Obama could have won by as much as he did over McCain. But what this map doesn’t take into account is that the population of each state varies. So the site provides two other maps that change the size of the states based on it’s population or it’s number of electoral votes. Here’s the one based on population.

Red and Blue States Map by Population

What is immediately obvious is that the center of America, which voted generally for McCain, is not very populated while as the coasts, which voted primarily for Obama, have quite large populations. The electoral college map is very similar with a slight bias towards small states.

The same software was used for the Worldmapper project, which takes data of all sorts and increases or decreases the size of the country based on that data. For example the world population cartograph looks like this.

World Population Cartograph

It’s kind of scary to see so clearly how huge China and India are, but it’s pretty cool stuff regardless. Interestingly, the software that created these maps is free.

1 Comment | Catergorized: geek  political

2008.11.10

Home Prices are Dropping!

The cost of owning a home in San Francisco is dropping! Yay! Alas, that $1,000,000 home is still gonna cost you at least $800,000. Drat. To find out how much check out SFGate’s database.

1 Comment | Catergorized: grrr  san francisco

2008.11.05

Yeehaw and WTF

Yay! Obama won. When the TV showed him over the top we could hear cheers out on the streets. I was, for the first time in my life, quite emotional about a political race.

Yet this morning I woke up to check the CA and San Francisco results and WTF?!? Proposition 8, which would create a CA constitutional amendment to ban the rights of same-sex couples to marry, rent a car bulgariapassed. Unbelievable. I am very disappointed that this passed and yet a proposition to protect the “rights” of food stock animals passed. I feel like we just went back to the era when inter-racial marriage was illegal. California, you just disappointed me in a way I’m having a hard time expressing.

Still, most of the election this year was phenomenally positive. And on January 20th, 2009 we will have a new president. Alas that Obama has to fix, clean up and repair the mountain of crap that Bush and the Republicans have left behind. I hope he can do it.

“Yes we can.”

5 Comments | Catergorized: grrr  life  political  rights

2008.11.04

Biggest Election I Can Remember

Today is Election Day here in America, and it’s turning out to be one of the biggest I can remember. I voted pretty early this morning and the line was typical… Only one or two deep. I was in and out in a jiffy. When I went to work about half an hour later, though, the line was getting long. My commute also takes me by several voting stations and they all had rather long lines, too. People are voting in numbers I’ve never seen. I wish it were like this every year, but I’ll take what I can get.

For once I’m rather excited about the election, too. Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the Bush era will soon be over and both candidates will be an improvement (though I prefer Obama in this one). For a Tuesday night there are tons of people out on the streets. Will they be celebrating here in San Francisco an Obama victory or if McCain wins will there be rioting in parts of the country?

I don’t know, but I do know I’m watching websites trying to keep up because this is going to be a big year. I’m worked up. My friend J. at work is going to an election party. If Obama wins they will break out the really good wine. If McCain wins they’ll break out the whiskey to drown their sorrow and put aspirin on the nightstand. Either way, it sounds like there will be a lot of drinking tonight.

If you’re in California and haven’t voted, you have one more hour. Don’t miss this opportunity to make history.

Comments Off | Catergorized: life  political  san francisco

2008.11.01

People Pissing on the Toilet Seat

(At work I was getting rather angry at some one who would daily come up to my floor, where the men’s room had only a single sit down toilet, and pissing on the seat because they were too lazy to lift it up before going. I wrote what follows, printed it up and put it on the wall of the bathroom where they would see it. Since then I haven’t seen any piss on the toilet seat.)

Here’s the deal.

This is not your home.

When you piss, lift the seat.

It’s pretty damn irritating to come into the bathroom and find piss all over the toilet seat. Even if someone does not need to poop, it’s a disgusting thing to see. Not only that but it is rude. Every time you piss without lifting the toilet seat you are essentially saying, “I don’t give a crap about my co-workers!”

Hints:
1: If you’re grossed out by touching the seat, use your foot.
2: If you’re in a hurry, pinch your tip until you can lift the seat.
3: If your arm’s too weak to lift the seat ask for help or go to the 2nd floor.
4: If it’s your habit to never lift the seat, change your habit.
5: If you are sitting and still hitting the seat, please see a doctor.
6: You can aim it; please practice at home.
7: If your spatter is bad please see a doctor.
8: If we catch whoever you are, you will be called out publicly.

3 Comments | Catergorized: life  writing
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