August 30, 2004

The Louvre II...
I was reading the newspaper today, and I saw an interesting article about the North of France. Apparently there are plans underway to put an annex of the Louvre somewhere in the north of France. Candidate cities include Calais, Arras, Amiens, Valenciennes, Lens, and Boulogne-sur-Mer. The Louvre II will include works of art that aren't currently displayed in the Louvre in Paris, in an attempt to bring tourism to the economically depressed North.
You can read a copy of the article from at the Sunday Herald.
I don't think that they should put a Louvre II in the north of France. Granted that the North is poor compared to the rest of the country, but I think they would be better off putting the museum in another part of the country, such as the Alsace, or Normandy.

August 27, 2004

Vimy Reunion...
Well, I got an email from Adeline yesterday, who was a guide at Vimy while I was working in Lille. She said that Stephanie and Marianne are coming to town this upcoming week, for a mini-Vimy reunion, and she thought that I might be interested in meeting up with them. Of course, I said yes.
None of the plans are certain yet (not even the day), as it depends when they arrive in Vancouver. Hopefully I'll be able to get the day off work (or at least part of it) to drive into town and visit.
I must say that I never thought I would see people from France so soon after my return. But it's a good thing, so I'm not complaining.

August 24, 2004

La Compagnie...
I don't know how many of you guys have heard of La Chicane, but they're a Québécois rock group that's better known for their songs "Juste pour voir le monde" and "Oh Calvaire" from their 1998 album. The song "La Compagnie" isn't one of their better ones, but I like the lyrics. Not so much that I want to be like the guy in the song, as I really don't want to be like him.

Quand j'suis parti j'avais quinze ans
J'suis allé creusé par en dedans
Le filon d'or d'la Compagnie
Quand j'suis sorti j'avais cent ans
Épuisé par ce filon d'or, qui sans cesse me tuait la vie
Anéanti par le bruit
Enseveli sous une tonne de roc
Abruti, abruti, pourquoi t'es-tu vendu la vie?
Cette Compagnie qui t'avait dit
Que tu l'faisais pour ton pays
Que l'or deviendrait ton ami
Cet or jadis qui t'était cher
Est devenu très solitaire, comme tes patrons qui t'ont mentis
Assoupis dans une lumière de poussière
Enterré dans un trou de roc
Abruti, abruti, pourquoi t'es-tu vendu la vie?
Oh..., à travailler trop fort
Oh..., à fournir tant d'efforts
Oh..., à oublier ton sort
Oh..., au profit de la Compagnie
J'ai travaillé ben trop longtemps
Pour un salaire insignifiant
J'voulais sortir à l'extérieur
Si j'serais resté moins longtemps
J'm'en serais sûrement sorti vivant
Pis j 'en aurais moins gros su'l cœur
Mais maintenant tout est fini
Et moi aussi, car j'ai vieilli
Abruti, abruti, pourquoi t'es-tu vendu la vie?
Oh..., à travailler trop fort
Oh..., à fournir tant d'efforts
Oh..., à oublier ton sort
Oh..., au profit de la Compagnie
Une existence sacrifiée
Une famille négligée
Abruti, abruti, pourquoi t'es-tu pendu la vie?

August 19, 2004

I saw a trailer on TV for the movie Hero the other day! I don't usually get excited about seeing a movie, but I can't wait to see this one. I wanted to see it while I was in France, but alas, I didn't get to see it, and thought that I would never get to see it.
I was planning on going on a Wednesday night, because that's cheap movie night in France. I got to the cinema, then learned that in France they change the movie line up on Wednesdays, and that Wednesday they decided to no longer show Hero.
So, I went back to my carpeted room at the MAJT all bummed out. I figured that I'd never get to the film, since it wasn't out in North America before I left (films are usually out here before in France). I'm excited to see it when it comes out in cinema in a week or two.

August 18, 2004

Susan Nattrass comes in 6th at the Olympics...
Susan Nattrass, who competes for Canada in the Women's Trapshooting, came in 6th at the Olympics in Athens.
She wasn't even supposed to make it to the Olympics, since she qualified in 13th place internationally before the Olympics started, due to a series of unfortunate incidents (falling through a heating duct, broken guns at championships, and absesses in her cheek where she holds her gun). Yet, after appealing to the IOC, she was able to secure a place at the Olympics this summer.
She won six world championships in a row, she's been awarder the Order of Canada, and even beat Wayne Gretzky for the Canadian Athlete of the Year in 1981.

August 15, 2004

Yesterday I went to Playland in Vancouver with a bunch of friends, including Aurélie, the French girl who came with us to the fireworks in Vancouver. (As a side note, Sweden ended up winning the competition, beating out Spain and China).
Anyway, we got to Playland around 11 in the morning, when it opened. It was already hot and sunny, and I soon started to wish that I had put on some sun screen before I left home. After the cool, old, wooden roller coaster (the restraints can't possibly be legal -I flew out of the seat almost every time we went down a hill).
I had a Triple O burger (and a nose bleed) at White Spot, and drank a lot of water. We were all starting to feel a bit light headed from being dehydrated because it was so hot. I ran into a bunch of people from high school that I hadn't seen in a long time. That's always weird, running into people you haven't seen in a long time, a long way from the city where you live.
By 9, when we left, I was probably as red as a tomato. I had wanted to get a bit of a tan, but not that much of a burn. Oh well. The cancerous tumours hopefully won't show for another few years.
All in all, I had a great time once again at Playland. Have to go next year...
Blog Link...
I just now found a like to my blog from a French blog that was put up about a year ago. The site has links to other English and French blogs, and about a year ago featured a section on blogs of English language assistants in France (including my blog).

August 13, 2004

Pay Day!
I got paid today! I always love pay day (especially when it comes on time!), but I hate all the taxes and deductions that get taken off my pay cheque.
Anyway, I'm going to Playland tomorrow, which should be great craic. It'll be a nice day -not too hot. It's been around 32°C every day here for the last week. Too hot for me.

August 08, 2004

Neither Here Nor There...
I'm reading "Neither Here nor There" by Bill Bryson. It's about his travels around Europe, after having lived in England for a while. There's one paragraph that I love, so I thought I'd quote it for you...
I'm not knocking any Europeans, because I know there are a lot of stupid things we do here in North America. I just thought it was a funny passage in the book.
And yet there are some things that most countries do without difficulty that others cannot get a grasp of at all.
The French, for instance, cannot get the hang of queuing. They try and try, but it is beyond them. Wherever you go in Paris, you see orderly lines waiting at bus stops, but as soon as the bus pulls up the line instantly disintegrates into something like a fire drill at a lunatic asylum as everyone scrambles to be the first aboard, quite unaware that this defeats the whole purpose of queuing.
The British, on the other hand, do not understand certain of the fundamentals of eating, as evidenced by their instinct to consume hamburgers with a knife and fork. To my continuing amazement, many of them also turn their fork upside-down and balance the food on the back of it. I've lived in England for a decade and a half and I still have to quell an impulse to go up to strangers in pubs and restaurants and say, "Excuse me, can I give you a tip that'll help stop those peas bouncing all over the table?"
Germans are flummoxed by humour, the Swiss have no concept of fun, the Spanish think there is nothing at all ridiculous about eating dinner at midnight, and the Italians should never, ever have been let in on thee invention of the motor car.

August 03, 2004

Fireworks in Vancouver...
I went into Vancouver this Saturday to see the HSBC Celebration of Light(read lots of fireworks out in the bay) with some friends. There were about 325,000 people who went out to see the show. The mountains and water are such a cool backdrop to the fireworks.
We went out for dinner first to the Mongolian Grill, then out to the beach to watch the show. It was Sweden's turn on Saturday, and I think they did a pretty good job (although Spain or China will probably win). I think they did a good job of matching the music to the fireworks.
I invited along a French girl, from Lyon, who's staying in my city with a family that lives on a farm. She doesn't speak a lot of English, and no one here speaks French. I found out that she's staying her through my old highschool teacher, who met her two weeks ago.
Anyway, what was cool is that she had never had Asian food before, and she loved it. She had never been into Vancouver either, so she got to see a bit of the city (which is really beautiful if you've never visited :). She was also thrilled with the fireworks (I think we all were). I think that she had a good time, especially since she said "merci beaucoup" I don't know how many times. I think that she had a good time, and was glad to be able to speak some French for a while.
I found this interesting article on Courtney's site, which she got from Bill Bonner at The Daily Reckoning.

"...Let's face it, dear reader, no matter who wins in November, we are losers all of us, in for another quadrienne of grief and buffoonery.

One of the wonders of modern politics is this frequently posed question: how is it possible that in a nation of 293,845,317 people, the best we can do for an election is a contest between George W. Bush and John Kerry? Among the multitudes of able-bodied, native-born citizens there must be many thousands of reasonable intelligence and standard morals. Some must even be above average in both qualities. And a few are surely exceptional. Even if you exclude the lawyers and career politicians as unfit on moral grounds you still have millions to choose from.

Yet, Americans have chosen as their champions two of the least attractive homo sapiens since Tyson faced McNeeley. It is as if a man had his choice of the finest houses of Hollywood or the Hamptons...yet decided to move into a dank cave and sleep on a bed of tick-infested wet straw...

...The race in November has turned out to be a classic contest between a fool and a knave; we're not quite sure which is which. On the one hand, George W. Bush - scion of a rich, New England family, with the most powerful connections in the nation, a Yale graduate, Skull & Bones member and Harvard MBA - pretends to be a dumb cowboy who just follows his instincts. On the other, John Kerry - also from Yale, also a Skull & Bones member, with a billionaire wife,
fabulous homes all over the place, and a 'go along' attitude to practically every piece of pork-barrel legislation ever served up in Washington - pretends to be a 'man of the people' determined to restore justice to the tax system.

Both the men, and the process that put them where they are, are frauds. But Americans love fraud and self-delusion. They take up one flim-flam after another as if they were free drinks. They keep at it until their legs buckle.

The American, wrote Daniel Boorstin in "The Image" (1962), "lives in a world where fantasy is more real than reality, where the image has more dignity than its original. We hardly dare face our bewilderment, because our ambiguous experience is so pleasantly iridescent, the solace of belief in the contrived reality is so thoroughly real."

George W. Bush is president for an obvious and dreary reason: he doesn't seem to think enough to worry people. In the early years of the 21st century, anno domini, America seems especially bent towards self-deception. The last thing we want is a leader who will jeopardize it. What the two candidates have in common is that neither threatens America's happy delusions. One pretends he is not smart enough to see them; the other is plainly not dumb enough to disturb them.

But when Americans go to the polls in November, they will go like hamsters into an oriental massage parlor. They have no idea who the people are, what they are doing, nor what any
of it means. Their candidates are imposters. Their platforms are elaborate lies. And their actual programs are both incomprehensible and unforeseeable to the poor schmucks who enter the polling booths.

We have no interest in politics here at the Daily Reckoning, except insofar as it helps us understand markets. Both are expressions of mob psychology, as near as we can tell. A man
on his own, driving down the road, will usually make the right decisions and more often than not end up where he intends to go. But put him in the great mass of voters or investors, and all his good sense seems to disappear out the window like a cigarette butt. All of a sudden he presses
down the accelerator and heads for the nearest brick wall.

Likewise, a man on his owns knows that he is best advised to leave his dumbbell neighbors alone. But let him join a political party, and he fantasizes that he has the right and the power to tell everyone on the block what to do.

The depressing spectacle in Boston shouldn't surprise anyone. The whole nation is enjoying a make-believe world. No one wants to break the spell."

Your correspondent,
Bill Bonner
The Daily Reckoning