Interesting stuff about Paris

As I’ve written before, Mrs S and I are going to Paris shortly for a well deserved jollyday where I will be avidly studying the art of Francophone sarcasm and irony as practiced and perfected by French service staff. C’est n’est pas votre dejeuner monsiuer, c’est la merde de ma tante. Et services vous droit pour ne pas apprendre le francais vous rosbif ignorant. So there.

On the topic of things Parisian I’ve recently come across this guy, Tom Scott, an entertaining fellow with his own channel on YouTube. As I will be spending some time in Paris this year, I thought I’d watch and post the following videos, which, quite frankly make a refreshing change from the touristy Rick Steves and Lonely Planet stuff relied upon by so many of our Southern cousins.

On ‘Paris Syndrome

But since I’m not Japanese or Chinese and have spent time (working) in Paris before, I’m not in the ‘at risk’ category.

Or Privacy In France: A Lot Of French People Might Be About To Sue Me

This may end up being a distinct possibility. If they can find me after I’ve gone home………

And ‘Point Zero’ outside Notre Dame.

Which isn’t that far from our apartment. Way cheaper than many hotels and with a little discrimination and early booking can land you in quite the little gem of a place. I may drop by one quiet Sunday morning when most other tourists are still tucked up in their little beddy-byes.

I’ll be posting my own misadventures and observations as time and Interweb connections allow.

Londinium

Well, here we are in jolly old Londinium, the first time I’ve spent non-working days in the crapital for decades. Seriously. Our booked accommodation fell over. We’d booked through AirBnB online, and found ourselves booked into some serious low rent digs. Not quite a slum, but by our Canadian standards, seriously dodgy. I’m amazed AirBnB let it be listed. We fled and found a budget hotel south of Marylebone. The experience has cost me three hundred bucks, but I’m not unhappy. There are times when you’ve just got to chalk it up to experience and move on.

Which is where we are now, sightseeing, breakfasting at Marks & Spencers because the budget hotel breakfast is so tightly budgeted that Church mice would consider it meagre fare. I’d really rather forgotten the horror of instant coffee. Or flavoured shite, as it is more popularly known. Coffee it ain’t.

Reacclimatising to the rain and humidity of soggy old England. Moving right along to Francophone fleshpots on Saturday.

Recommendation 1: Thames Clipper. Big fast river catamarans that ply the big T from Waterloo to the millennium carbuncle. Get a river rover ticket and use it instead of the Tube or buses. Worth the money.
Recommendation 2: The Beehive, Crawford place, Westminster. Beer choice a little limited, but we’ve adopted it as a ‘local’ for the next 36 hours. A busy, cheerful little place with shelter outside for those whose drug choice includes nicotine. Not a bad menu either.
Recommendation 3: Royal Naval Hospital site where we lucked onto, of all things, a musical masterclass in the Chapel. Missed the famous painted hall as we were so busy enjoying the performances that the closing time of 0five o’clock drifted on by without a murmur.

Apparently some of the locals were indulging in a form of Democracy. I think they chose the muppets with the blue rosette, but what do I care, I’m just a tourist nowadays.

Okay. That’s it for now.

TTFN

Sometimes……..

Those of us who blog are often accused of being “Some guy in their Mom’s basement who lives in their pyjama’s.” by ‘professional journalists’.

Now I wish to make a clear and unequivocal statement to distance myself from this foul calumny. I do not live with my Mother (as followers of this blog know, she passed away last year and I have not lived with my parents for many years). Furthermore, my Mother never had a basement. Garden sheds, yes. Attics, yes. Basements no. Mrs S and I did have one basement in our last UK property, but that subterranean space was used as the laundry room and as an occasional workshop. With the advent of Wi-Fi, I’ve even blogged from the conservatory, and yes, our garden shed when the kids were having a party. Besides, our last house was an old Victorian building and far too damp for electronics. In addition to which is our mutual dislike of dankness, we prefer the sunshine. Yes, I will occasionally concede that I have written partial posts and managed comment threads whilst in my dressing gown and PJ’s, but 99% of the time I am properly attired for the days travails.

However, here’s a challenge; ‘Like’ this post if you’ve ever blogged naked.

No pictures, animated Gifs or video clips in the comments please. This isn’t Tumblr.

Oddities and space

I’ve never understood why certain people feel compelled to approach obviously busy strangers simply to indulge in ‘social’ chatter. Don’t know about the rest of you, but I like my personal space. Especially when working. To totally focus on a task to the exclusion of all else, detesting unnecessary distraction. I’m not totally asocial, I’m just picky, that’s all. Life has taught me that not all conversations are safe. Got something meaningful to say? Unload your soul in the comments (if you must), it’s what they’re there for. I may reply. I may not. Depends how busy I am. Yeah, I’m a party pooper, so don’t invite me, okay?

While the kids were growing up I made allowances, and always tried to respond to their anxieties / questions, hug when needed, and sometimes exercise extra care when getting up in the morning as Youngest had a habit of sneaking into our bedroom and sleeping on the floor next to our bed. Poor lamb, I almost trod on her one morning when I was new to the game of married life and every day was an ‘adventure’. Those were the days, eh, Bill? Clucking bell. Never mind, despite all the humps and bumps, both stepkids have turned out relatively okay, and I love them both dearly, so maybe I got it right. For a given value of ‘right’.

The future of social mediaOtherwise the whole multi tasking thing has rather passed me by, apart from when I’m cooking. It’s probably why I killed off my Farcebook account (twice), and while I do have a Twitter feed and ID, never Tweet. Why? Because they’re both time killers, distractions. Filling up empty lives with fluff and replacing actual thought. Hmm. Now there’s an interesting notion. Maybe social media will eventually evolve into some kind of electronic hive-mind for the ‘connected’, leaving them wide open to manipulation. An unwitting zombie army to be directed onto non participating ‘unbelievers’ or ‘deniers’ who don’t agree with the goals of the manipulators. I’m sure Leg Iron could twist that into one of his excellent scary stories or use the concept to taunt one of his drone co-workers.

As for me. Others might consider my relative standoffishness odd, but I’ll give the whole social chatter thing the go-by. Life is too short, and I have a flight to catch.

Why is there no….

Why can’t I find a ‘Dislike’ button on Facebook? People have dislikes as well as likes, so why the hell not?

The reason behind my question is that Farcebook integration is currently playing merry hell with my London accommodation bookings. To cap it off, mildly panicky phone calls and e-mails to UK based places are not being answered and all I’m getting is cutesy little ‘Our outreach team will soon be with you’ bullcrap from the service provider. So yes, I’m looking for a way to publicly express my displeasure. Big time. I’m being fobbed off and I don’t like it.

I’m not that worried, if everything has fallen over there are plenty of other hotels in London. I have a credit card and money to spare. I’m just pissed off that the guilty parties have had my money since January and probably won’t give it back if our stay has gone sideways. Well chaps, if you want to play it that way, I’ll just hand the mess off to my lawyers (Lye, Cheetham, and Runne) and insurance company while I’m enjoying the pleasures of Paris. The extra fifty bucks I spent on trip cancellation insurance will mean I’ll get my money back, eventually.

My major beef with Farcebook integration is the demand that you share your personal details with them, then share your most intimate online emanations and personal preferences with their advertisers and every spammer and scammer on the planet. What if I don’t want to post my every frigging bowel movement online? No, I’m not giving you my cell number. Our home phone is also ex-directory for a bloody good reason. My spam filter permanently runs red hot as it is. No you can’t have the names and numbers of my friends because I want to keep them. Yes my ‘privacy’ settings are set to ‘friends only’ as if those Farcebook fcukers cared.

So there’s your next big market opportunity Mr Zuckmyarse. Let’s have an opportunity for the cheated and disgruntled to vent their spleen. The ‘Dislike’ button. Hey, it’s only ‘Fair’.

Choices, choices

On my way to the UK shortly, going through the usual last minute fussing with securing valuable documentation and making sure that if anything untoward happens to our cosy little apartment while we’re away, nothing critical will be lost. Packing, checking tickets, booking the taxi to the airport. Ensuring our hosts know when we’re arriving. Off we’re going, into the noisy bustle of jolly old Londinium where the population are faced with a life critical choice.

No, not the forthcoming General Election, which seems to be a straight race between which pro-EU muppet gets in. Not whether to vote for the Tory or Labour Muppet, the Limp Dem, Green or SNP muppet, or the party whose muppetdom is actually in doubt, a.k.a. Big Nige and the Purple Gang, who are currently riding low in the polls, so they’re clearly not worth voting for don’cha know peasants. Don’t let those nasty Tories / Labour / Limp Dems in by voting your conscience. Although if you vote for the traditional rosette, of course they will. Don’t waste those votes, give them to the lamestream parties (Meh). I reckon the result is a given; as usual the British electorate will choose; in the words of Hillaire Belloc to “always keep ahold of nurse / For fear of finding something worse.”

No, I’m talking about the really important stuff, the critical life or death choice that the UK now faces. The burning question of the day. The one crucial decision that will shape the nation for decades to come. What’s going to be the name of the new royal baby? Here are the odds.

Hope this helps.

Update: Well, that’s that then. Bill and Kate have gone for a generational motif on the babies name. Charlotte, (3-1 Grandfather Charles) Elizabeth (6-1 Great Grandma), Diana (8-1 Grandmother). Or in the words of her Great Grandfather; “What about bloody Phillipa then?”

That’s interesting

A quick pre-flight shopping jaunt out to get Mrs S a new iPad cover for our trip to gay paree. We doglegged onto the Patricia Bay Highway and saw something I personally haven’t witnessed since November 1982. A full on convoy of Hells Angels (Not imitations, the real deal – I’d know that patch anywhere) with Police both local and RCMP up and down the road trailing about twenty six, maybe as many as thirty Harleys riding in a highly disciplined two line pack, swinging down the off ramp that leads to Highway One northbound.

I almost had an attack of nostalgia on the spot.

I really must fly

Another year, another transatlantic flight. This time we’re going to ride in bigger comfier seats, which, when you realise that the airlines bean counters are having aircraft refitted to cram ever more steaming humanity on board, is no bad thing. Fly economyFrankly, I’ve done the whole air cattle truck experience, and while it’s okay if you’re five feet five and under a hundred and thirty pounds, if you’re like me, over six feet with broad shoulders, well, the muscle cramps after ten hours in an alloy tube are really unpleasant.

So we end up paying more (Half as much again – yikes!) for the extra legroom and seat width. Which pays off as you don’t suffer from post flight muscle cramps for the next forty eight hours as well as the jet lag. Which really pisses me off. Economy seats are like paying to be put in Skeffington’s Gyves. Thoroughly unpleasant. Unless you’re one who gets their jollies that way. If you have to travel, the choice is increasingly boiling down to get yourself surgically reduced or prepare to suffer. Me, I’ll take the comfy chairs.

Unusually for me, I’m already packed to Mrs S’s satisfaction. Which is a surprise, not least of all to me. Hold the phone. She thinks I’ve packed properly? There’s a first. Also this trip I have brand new luggage, a decent suitcase instead of the falling to bits piece of crap I inherited from somewhere, new Targus bag for all my retro but still serviceable electronics. A brace of Nokia 6310i’s for local calls to dodge the horrendous overseas roaming charges our regular Canadian cell phone companies impose. I’ve also set up a secondary non google webmail address, onto which all my email will be forwarded. Which means Google won’t get all shirty and lock me out when I try to access my email from La Belle France instead of BC. Like my last transatlantic trip. Or the last one. Or the one before that. It’s not as though my passwords are something easy to crack like name123, date of birth variants, or heaven forfend; ‘password’. I like obscure, multi character and case sensitive which only means something to me. It seems to have worked so far. So far so…..bugger. Or not.

In the meantime, I must fly. Comfortably. Until someone invents a viable means of teleportation or Worm Hole travel.

Any old road up, while I’m passing through the UK I’ll be keeping a weather eye on the election; I may be scathing, I may be sardonic. Watch this space, and for your edification a little Tom Scott video of 7 illegal things to do in a UK election.

TTFN

Expatriate expostulations from Canada; a.k.a. A Sarcastic man abroad

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