Archive for 'paris' Category

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

2007.09.23

4×4 Ayes

So Jason tagged me with one of these things where you answer all kinds of questions and then tag others in the hope that they reveal as much information as you do so your answers aren’t quite so embarrassing when you look at them the day after you post them. Jason’s post is a series of four answers for various personal stats. My post title pays homage to the nature of fours, his post title, the fact that I didn’t post anything for Talk Like a Pirate Day, and an old anime called 3×3 Eyes. I’m kind of proud of how much reference is in that title. :)

Four jobs I have had (current job excluded):
I’ll make these approximately in order from the first jobs that I consider “real jobs” since I’ve had far too many jobs in my life…

  1. Burger Flipper. McDonalds. My parents made a deal with me in high school that I could drive the car but I had to pay for the gas and maintenance. Not knowing what else to do I took a job in fast food just like, it seems, much of America has at that age.
  2. Industrial Drill Press Operator. Haynes Engineering and Manufacturing. For two summers I worked for my Uncle in Detroit as a drill press operator. We made many of the pumps that Detroit automakers used on their assembly lines. It was hard, dirty work but I learned a lot about honest work under the watchful eyes of my Uncle and the guys in the shop.
  3. No title. The Front Room. I don’t know if all of you are old enough to remember, but coffee shops used to be almost non-existent. There were no vente, grande, or short coffees. Certainly no frappucino sweet drinks. Despite that we were on the bleeding edge and actually had imported coffee. Ironically I didn’t drink coffee at the time.
  4. Currency Exchanger. Cekobanka. My only qualifications for this job were I could count in a couple languages and speak English natively. The job rather sucked but the people I worked with were united in their bitterness in the job and scorn for the tourists.

Four Films I have Watched Again and Again:
I’m going to divide this up into chunks of time since, really, I watch too many movies. This is probably the only part of this post where I could go on and on and on without let up, and even the answers I give will seem extremely limited. I won’t be happy with any of the answers alone…

  1. High School. Highlander. I couldn’t even tell you how many times we watched this. For quite a long time it was almost a weekly ritual. There can be only one!
  2. College. The Princess Bride and Heathers. Two of the most quotable movies in my life for a really long time. Eskimo! Another good one from this time was Dangerous Liasons.
  3. Early San Francisco. The Matrix and Starship Troopers. Although The Matrix has sort of dropped off the radar after its sequels came out and I got disillusioned with it, Starship Troopers will still come out when Mookee and I are drinking. Man, we drank a lot of Weinhards beer watching these…
  4. Late San Francisco. The Fifth Element and About a Boy. I have quite a large collection of DVDs at this point, and for some reason whenever I feel stuck on what I want to watch I keep coming to these two. There are tons of other movies I’ll watch again and again, but these two keep drawing me back.

Four Places I Have Lived:
I’ve grown up moving a lot. Comes from my Dad being in the military. Until I came to San Francisco, in fact, I hadn’t stayed anywhere more than a couple years. So here are a few of my favorites.

  1. Seoul, Korea. We lived here the first time in my preteen years. It was a brilliant time when our family pulled together. I consider my years extremely formative and can see so much of who I am today coming from those three years.
  2. Athens, Ohio. This is where I went to college. First relationships, life long friends, and loads of stories as we all started discovering our first tastes of independence.
  3. Prague, Czech Republic. Finally out of college I went to Prague. There’s so much that happened there I don’t even know what to say. So I won’t.
  4. San Francisco, California. I had a hard time picking between here and Washington, DC, but I have to choose SF. I’ve been here 10 years this month which is more than twice as long as anywhere I’ve ever lived before. For those who know me that speaks volumes.

Four Shows I Love to Watch:
This is the hardest one for me to answer because I don’t watch television. Seriously. So many of these will be “expired” shows. I think each of my shows depended hugely on their ensemble cast. There is no mistake that they are all science fiction, too. Honorable mention to Stargate.

  1. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I loved this show. I think this is one of the very first American shows that had an angry black male in the lead role. It also had an angry Klingon, but that’s another story.
  2. Space: Above and Beyond. This, along with the next entry, are two shows that were given only (merely?) a single season yet I thought were amazing. S:AaB took war into space with all its ugliness, heroism, humanism, and reality. I wish they’d been given a chance to at least end the series properly.
  3. Firefly. What a show. While it started kind of awkwardly it sucked me in and didn’t let go. The idiots at Fox television made such a huge mistake in cancelling this and S:AaB above.
  4. Battlestar Galactica, old and new. I love these. I remember being allowed to stay up and watch the original series with my parents. I think it was the first show we ever watched as a family. And the new series… Well, if you’ve been reading this blog at all you know what a huge fan I am.

Four Places I Have Been on Vacation:
I haven’t had a lot of real vacations in my life. I’m not much of a vacation kind of guy. Aside from yearly trips up to Tahoe to snowboard, here are a few of my more memorable trips.

  1. Okinawa, Japan. My Dad, brother and I went to Okinawa when we were stationed in Korea the first time. My brother and I were so bloody excited to eat at a McDonalds again, much to Dad’s chagrin, but really, the whole trip was amazing. The place was so shockingly green in color…
  2. Chejudo, Korea. We went one summer break from college when I was back in Korea. The island is well and truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth and almost completely unknown outside of Korea and Japan.
  3. Oahu, Hawaii. Annemone and I visited my brother and his family when they were stationed at Pearl Harbor and went around the island. I loved visiting but I don’t think I could ever live there; too insular (which is quite an appropriate word if you know Latin).
  4. Paris, France and Prague, Czech Republic. Though part of my trip earlier this summer was for work, I did take some time off and fell in love with Europe all over again.

Four of my Favorite Foods:
I’m not really a

  1. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. For years as a kid this is what I had on my birthday every year. I will still eat a whole box of it every other week or so…
  2. Steak. Almost any kind of steak. Mmmm… meat.
  3. Chocolate covered cherries. These things are like crack to me. I’m eating some now.
  4. Lasagna. I don’t know what it is about lasagna. Amazing. Safeway makes an amazing vegetarian lasagna. I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch but this stuff is addictive. I’ve even gotten friends hooked on it.

Four of my Favorite Drinks:

  1. Jolt Cola. I wish this stuff were more widely available out here. I’d drink it to the exclusion of almost anything else.
  2. Coffee. Love it. Live it.
  3. Fermented and unfermented red grape. I love red wine, almost any kind of varietal. Also in the last year I’ve been drinking gallon on gallon of grape juice. It’s actually helped me cut the amount of Coke I drink dramatically.
  4. Coca Cola. I do still drink Coke, though. I used to drink tons of it (since Jolt is hard to find) but in the past few years I just have some with lunch. Sadly (?) I don’t even always finish the bottle I start anymore.

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:

  1. Paris.
  2. Prague.
  3. New Zealand.
  4. Asleep.

Four Bloggers I’m Tagging:
Let’s see if I can break the bad luck I have getting others to take this up…

  1. Carlos Costa at Population Statistic. Let’s see how adorkable his lists are. :)
  2. Kevin at Humble Tidbits of Vacuity. I can’t wait to hear more about his vacations.
  3. Mr. Brown at Brown That Banana. Really I just want to see what pictures he uses.
  4. Banana Boy over at Banana Land. Nothing to do with Mr. Brown’s blog. I keep hoping he’ll do one of these.
7 Comments | Catergorized: college  dc  family  food-drink  friends  korea  life  movies  paris  prague  san francisco  tahoe  tv  work

2007.06.28

Pictures from Paris, Prague and Liberec

I’m back from my trip to Europe. I’m very tired but, despite this, I posted a few pictures so you can see some of what I’ve seen. I haven’t added any details to the pictures yet, but I will… Especially if I can get used to typing on an American keyboard again (I got used to typing on the French keyboard layout and it’s very different in subtle ways).

Gallery One: Paris, Prague and Liberec. These are the pictures I took in Paris, as well as the pictures from Prague and Liberec that had familar people in them.

Gallery Two: Pictures of Prague. The pictures here are just of the city of Prague. I love this place!

Comments Off | Catergorized: food-drink  friends  life  memories  paris  photos  prague  work

2007.06.26

Pluie

View of the Arc de Triomphe from Work
Arc de Triomphe
I fly back to San Francisco tomorrow. Paris has been a non-stop affair after Prague. Two days of walking and about 14 (15?) hours of work. I’m hoping today will be a bit calmer since most of the office leaves this afternoon for Spain and a conference there.

Anyways, there has been an interest in seeing pictures and I will be putting some online when I get back… Probably two sets just to get it all out there.

It’s raining in Paris and has cooled off from the excessive temperatures of last week. I kind of like it since it reminds me of San Francisco, though the locals are hating it. I’m assured it’s never like this in June.

2 Comments | Catergorized: life  paris  photos

2007.06.13

Paris So Far

Just a few quick thoughts on my adventures in Paris so far.

People are generally thinner than Americans. Maybe this is diet, maybe this is walking around much more, maybe this is a less intense consumer-minded society. Regardless, I’ve seen very few oversized humans here, and one of those was American herself.

Women are generally more beautiful. This is not to say they are all beautiful. Some have definately been whacked by the ugly stick several times over. That being said, people definitely dress better and carry themselves with more confidence. Sometimes that confidence crosses over into, “Look at me! Look at me! Cleavage!” Not that I mind these hot summer outfits at all.

There are no garbage bins on the streets. At least none that I can find anywhere. Instead you will occassionally (very rarely) see metal poles on which clear plastic bags are hung. Apparently the bins went away with the fear of terrorism. I’m not even going to comment on that. Surprisingly the streets and sidewalks are pretty clean.

French keyboards are hard to use. They are very close to the layout used in America but with enough small differences that I keep screwing up. For instance the A and Q are switched as are Z and W, and to get the numbers or a period you have to hold Shift.

There are tons of police here. Even better they are very often on their feet walking around in groups of 2, 3 or more. Personally I think this is a good thing. It also helps that they don’t seem as serious as American police.

In addition to the many police there are tons of mopeds. In Paris you don’t need a license to drive a moped if it’s under (I was told) a 125cc engine.

And that’s all for now. Tonight we’re going to get steak. Hopefully it won’t rain (we had a thunder shower just a bit ago).

1 Comment | Catergorized: life  paris  technology  thoughts

2007.06.11

Champ d’Ellyse

Eiffel Tower from Hôtel De Castiglione
The Eiffel Tower
What a crazy day. We had an offsite meeting which will set the agenda for our Europe offices for the coming year. Jetlagged and tired as I was I only started falling asleep one time. I felt bad but what can I do?

This took place at Versailles although not in the Chateau. I wish it had because we drove by it on the way out and it was amazing. There are many similarities between Paris and Prague in terms of architecture and over all age but Prague is intimate and Paris is grand and the Château de Versailles is immense beyond anything I’ve seen elsewhere.

After a long day JE and I had a few drinks and talked about work and what we had to accomplish in the coming days, then wandered up to the Champs d’Ellyse in search of nutrients. While we weren’t really hungry and wished that we were, we did settle down to some nice pasta. Walking around the tangled streets that you only find in Europe and seeing the nightlife and the population density that allows it I realized that a previous argument that happened here could have been avoided if I’d mentioned to NHK that I didn’t want the “Manhattanization” of San Francisco, but the “Europeanization” of the city. This means that five or six story buildings become de rigeur.

Anyways, now I’m getting really tired. This hotel charges an idiotic €10 an hour to access the internet and my time is almost up so I might as well hit the sack. See you next time!

1 Comment | Catergorized: paris  photos  work

2007.06.11

Now In Paris

I’m in Paris now after a long and mostly sleepless journey. I left San Francisco on a non-stop flight to Heathrow. I thought ths was a brilliant plan as if I slept on the plane I would be arriving the next day and I could avoid much of the jetlag associated with transcontinental flight. Unfortunately just as I was trying to fall asleep the woman in the seat right behind me decided she’d be sick and proceeded to quietly heave for the remaining five hours of flight. While I felt badly for her I rather wish she’d have moved or that there was somewhere else I could have moved. At the very least I wish she hadn’t have decided that resting her head against the back of my seat wasn’t a brilliant idea. I’m glad I’m not the type to get sick myself at the sound of heaving.

But otherwise the flights were lovely and I was happy with the flights themselves. British Airways had an excellent crew on both legs of the trip. They definitely need to work on Heathrow, though. What a sucky airport.

So now I’m in Paris, checked into the Hotel De Castiglione right downtown. It’s a nice enough place and not cheap. Which is why I’m wondering why they charge an arm and a leg to use their internet connection. Why is it that expensive hotels charge you to use their wireless and yet less expensive places like Motel 6 are alway touting their free wifi? Seems ass backwards to me.

My room has a balcony and I can see the Eiffel Tower. It was only 9PM when I was done unpacking and the sun was still up! So JE, my co-worker, and I decided that we needed to get some food. Apparently we’re in a primarily shopping district so we anticipated a long walk, but right around the corner on Rue Bojssy d’Anglas was the buddha-bar. Typical of big cities, the outside leaves no clue as to what to expect inside. This place was HUGE, and dark, with massive and dimly lit chandaliers hanging from the ceiling, a balcony bar surrounding the main floor, and a giant statue of Buddha presiding over all. Talk about atmosphere. It’s a good thing I’m not one to care much how others perceive how I dress because I was definitely underdressed.

The food was quite nice, too. They really need to work on their sticky rice (as in, make it sticky at all) and the fish not nearly as good as what we get in San Francisco, but their pseudo-Japanese stylings were well done and they had these fried tapioca balls for desert I wouldn’t mind trying again. JE and I decided we’d go back there for drinks at the bar but we were both too tired to worry about a late night.

Despite the lack of sleep (thanks a lot, Puke Lady!) it’s been a brilliant first day! And as an aside it’s 7:30AM here and I’m on the balcony and I just saw a woman walk by on the street below in a full kimono. Brilliant!

3 Comments | Catergorized: food-drink  life  paris
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