Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Friday, January 28, 2011

Things have been pretty quiet over at Chez Ksam lately. Not too much to blog about. And my work trips keep getting pushed back, which has meant for a lot of twiddling of thumbs around here. Luckily I have my new slingbox to keep me busy.

The slingbox has had us living in a mini-US bubble. I watch the Today Show while waking up in the morning. I have seen the horrors of "Toddlers and Tiaras" first-hand (see below). We can watch Jay Leno before going to bed at night. C can recite the current specials at Red Lobster by heart. Which is his favorite restaurant by the way. "You can get a seafood platter for two for only $29.99. And they give you unlimited rolls! Cheddar & garlic rolls! It's the best thing ever! (Except for you)." Gee, thanks dear.

Because my mom lives in the middle of nowhere & has a fairly slow internet connection, the quality isn't perfect, but it's good enough for me. So thanks to everyone who gave me advice during the purchase/set-up of the slingbox. It's been well worth it, especially since we also added a DVR that lets us record shows and then watch them later.

In case anyone is wondering about the costs - we purchased the Slingbox Solo off of Amazon for about $150. In addition, we also bought two Slinglink Tubos for $70 (in order to allow my mom's internet to go through her electrical system). Those are the fixed costs - on top of that, my mom's cable plan will charge us about $15/mo for the DVR rental & service. So it's not cheap, but it's been really nice to not have to download TV shows and have them take up space on my laptop (or worry about viruses), plus it's also good for C's English.

And as promised above, here is everything that's wrong with America:

And then there is this.....there are just no words to describe this:

Methinks someone needs a little visit from Super Nanny.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

C went to our new dentist the other day (she's great btw, thanks to Sophie for the recommendation), and she suggested that he pick up a special toothpaste from the pharmacy. It has sort of a funny smell, and I had to laugh when I saw the back of the tube:

Apparently the taste must not be so great either if you need 15+ days to get used to it! It just strikes me as funny, and I laugh every time I see that tube lying on the counter.
Sent using BlackBerry


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This past Sunday, I popped by the American library to pick up some books for my upcoming work trip. There was an ambulance and a bunch of policemen out front, but I just figured it was for something else going on in the neighborhood - Until I got the following email today:

A message to Library patrons

On Sunday afternoon (January 16) a resident of the apartment building above the Library fell from an upper-story window onto the glass roof of the research center. She did not survive the fall.

Five Library patrons working in that space were shaken but thankfully unhurt. Holly Tisseyre of our staff and Sunday volunteers handled the disruption of pompiers and medical personnel with calm professionalism.

As a consequence of this tragic incident, the recently-renovated research center space will be closed for several days while the roof is provisionally repaired. The installation of new glass panels will occur in three or four weeks and will necessitate the closing of the research center once again for a few days. All of the staff of the Library and I appreciate your understanding.

In the meantime our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased.

Charles Trueheart, Director

How sad is that? I had actually tried to go back into the research center and was surprised to see it all blocked off, especially since it has just reopened. Hopefully it was an accident. It's just yet another reminder as to how much goes on around us completely unnoticed.

It makes me think of the day I found out my father had died, and how I just wandered around in a haze, looking at all the people going about their lives, so oblivious to how much my life had just changed. Sometimes I wonder how many people in similar situations I pass every day. I guess it's a good reminder for me to be more patient with those who seem rushed or unnecessarily rude - you never know what they've got going on behind the scenes.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy happy Joy joy

It's a Birthday Miracle! I am so, so excited - just as I was about to lose all hope, Air France called to say they'd found my bag and they'll be delivering it today. And on C's birthday to boot - now he will finally be able to open his Christmas & birthday presents. It's going to be cadeaux galore Chez Ksam tonight.

And it's almost like Christmas for me too - I packed that suitcase almost a month ago now, so I've forgotten half of what is in there. But I am waiting for my oh-so-soft new bedsheets...and my new silky-soft pajamas (thank you after-Christmas sales). And now I can use my chocolate cake mix to make C a yummy birthday cake. Not to mention that I'll be getting my brand-new fancypants suitcase back.

Thank you Universe. After a week filled with gray skies and cranky people, it's nice to have a bit of good news.


Friday, January 14, 2011

All the single ladies

The other day, as I was running around my neighborhood desperately trying to find a place to fax the list of what was in my lost suitcase to Air France (side note - La Poste wanted 17€ to fax my document. That is scandalous I tell you. Scandalous!!), I came across a random little church squished between two buildings. The doors were open, and I figured a few minutes in a religious building couldn't hurt my suitcase quest, so I stepped on in.

The sign outside had said it was a Catholic church, but once inside, I wasn't so sure. The sanctuary was filled with all kinds of weird little statues - including this one, with a pile of papers overflowing at its feet:
I was curious as to what it could be so I moved closer and saw this sign:
Ahh...That explains the abundance of paper. If you're looking for a husband, you just need to go pin a note to the foot of this statue, and Saint Bonaventure will help you find a husband. (Single women, take note).

I took a peak at a few of the letters - most of them were actually kind of sad or desperate sounding:
Especially this one, who was asking Saint B to help her (estranged) husband see clearly and come back to the family fold, instead of continually trying to divorce her.
Here was another statue near the altar. (The more you "honor" me, the more I'll bless you). My dad was Catholic and that was always one of the things I really disliked about the Catholic church - this whole underlying idea that you need to "pay" in order to be in God's favor.

And then randomly, on the way out, there was this:A homage to Michael Jackson. WTF? What on Earth is that doing in a church?? I showed the pics to C once I got home and he said "That's not a church, that's a cult". I'm thinking he might be right.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Today I want to share a little tip for those in the Paris area - if you're ever looking for batteries, phone, camera or computer chargers, don't hesitate to head on down to Pile Expert on rue Delambre near Montparnasse. It's a tiny little shop, but the owner is so friendly & helpful that you won't regret the trip.

We stopped by there this weekend and we had a bit of a wait, but the owner helped pass the time by joking with everyone in the store - from telling one customer that he was open from 10h pile to 18h pile or to telling another client with a wink that he hoped he and his wife would think of him when they used the batteries they'd just bought for his wife's new vibrator (the client was an over-sharer). His prices are also good too - for example, he changes watch batteries for 6€. The woman ahead of me couldn't believe it since last time BHV had charged her 26€!

The first time I'd gone in was, ironically enough, because my bags had been lost (thanks again Delta - btw, still waiting for my 2nd bag to be delivered!!) and I was looking for a charger for my computer since mine was in my suitcase. I knew it was going to be expensive, but I wasn't expecting it to be 90€. So when I explained the situation and that I couldn't really spend that much for a back-up charger, he thought about it and then said "How about if I rent it to you for 10€ a week?". And before I even had a chance to reply, he'd taken a pair of scissors and started cutting the package open. Now how often does that happen in France? So I wasn't really surprised this visit when he said he mostly works by word-of-mouth - and true to form, it was a friend who first told me about him. While we were in there, there were even a few people who'd said that FNAC employees had sent them his way since they didn't have what they needed in stock.

So I'm just trying to do my part to spread the word - it's not that often that you come across a store owner willing to go the extra mile here, and this guy definitely deserves a bit of free publicity.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

If you've got a minute, check out this great post by Vingt Paris on a new Parisian website called Super Marmite. It seems like it could be a great way to try new food and meet new people all at once!

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

The travel gods just weren't with me this trip - my bags got lost again Tuesday and have yet to be found. Every single plane I took (6 total) was either canceled or delayed. (Surely that must be worth some kind of award Keith??).

I think a lot of it is due to the fact that Delta seems to be doubling up on a lot of their flights. Example: My flight to Las Vegas did back-to-back flights from New York-Minneapolis and then Minneapolis-Vegas. And then Vegas-Minneapolis-Atlanta on the way back. My flight to Detroit was heading on to Amsterdam afterwards. I guess they're just trying to cut costs, but to me, that just means the possibility of a lot more problems at other airports down the line. If anything goes wrong along the way, it throws the timing of everything else off, meaning delayed flights, missed connections, lost bags, etc.

I guess it's all part of the risk one takes by traveling during the winter months, and like I said in a previous post, I learned my lesson long ago and keep everything important in my carry-on. But it does mean that poor C is still waiting for his Christmas presents - though maybe it serves him right since he made me wait until I got back to open mine!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

As I sit here in my hotel room, looking out over the Las Vegas strip, I feel grateful. It seems like 2010 was a hard year for a lot of people, and I'm lucky to have mostly been spared from that. 2010 was pretty good to me.

This was really The Year of the Suitcase. Whether it be for work or personal travel, I was gone at least two weeks every month. We went skiing in the Alps, on a cruise in Egypt, spent a weekend in a Château, I went to Tunisia and Helsinki, and then we went to the US for a month and took a roadtrip to Mount Rushmore & Colorado. And then we packed our suitcases and moved across Paris. Once fall rolled around, we were off to Noirmoutier, and not long after, to the South of France and then the Loire Valley. And then I did back-to-back work trips to Morocco and Holland, with a pit stop in Germany on the way back. And of course, now I'm in Las Vegas. This time last year, I stated I wanted to travel more in 2010, and, well, I think I can safely say Mission Accomplished.

So what's up for 2011? Well, fingers crossed, The Company *finally* may have found a French-speaker to hire, so that means I can finally move up the corporate ladder and take on my new role. Which will likely mean more travel for work, but more-so in Europe instead of France. Hopefully they will be shorter trips though, because I really love just hanging out at home. I had to pack up all of my suitcases the other day, and it was funny to realize that most of my purchases were things for our apartment, instead of food or clothes like they usually are. So that was a sign to me that all is well on the home front too, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where this new year will take us.

Bonne Année et bonne santé à vous tous !