lundi 15 décembre 2008

Food for thought

Which is more corrupt, Illinois or Louisiana?

Goodbye party at work

Amy and I are leaving work on the same day, so we had our goodbye party together. We benefited from the proximity to St Lucia's day, as Ann brought in homemade saffron buns, the yummy Swedish specialty.

What a bummer it was to say goodbye to everyone.

Here is everyone: Farhad, Matthias, Eve, Mary, Therese, Nua, me, Manuella, Karina, Mazda, Amy, James, Mia, Sharon, Valerie, Shu-Chin, Eric, and Valérie.

Amy opening her gift.
And me opening mine.
Elisabeth, Mia, Farhad, me, and Amy.

Setting up the champagne.

dimanche 14 décembre 2008


Our last trip was down to Cassis, which is on the Mediterranean 20 km from Marseilles, the weekend of the 6th of December. It was lovely to have some sunshine and warmer weather.

Although this photo doesnt really do it justice, the houses were painted bright shades of yellow and pink.The main part of Cassis surrounds a harbor, and the buildings on the water are mostly restaurants.It also had a small and rocky beach, where some people were actually swimming.The town had a little Christmas market. The market featured a band playing traditional regional songs, the sound of which were completely unfamiliar. They didnt sound like typical old French music.Cassis is surrounded by hills.The most notable feature of the area is the Calanques, which are big limestone cliffs that go out into the sea. We went for a hike out along them.The terrain was a bit lunar.

La Fête des Lumières

The annual Fête des Lumières was this past weekend. The origins of the Fête des Lumières date from 1643, when through fervent prayers to Mary, the city of Lyon was spared from the plague.

Merci Marie!
Rue de la Republique had little curlique thingies hanging from the trees.Place des Jacobins had a little fish motif.The St Jean Cathedral was gorgeous.Gare Saint Paul, near my apartment, changed colors.This year's Fête des Lumières had the theme, "Through the eyes of a child." The slow in Place des Terreaux began by making the Hotel de Ville look like a dollhouse.The picture in the bubble is of the fountain across the square, which they made look like it was in a snow globe.
The show there finished with a pseudo-fingerpainting design.
And a child's writing, complete with misspellings.And there were many other little things along the streets.

dimanche 30 novembre 2008


Well, its done. I am all moved out of my apartment. My stuff is now in piles all over Brian's apartment. I need to take some things to work to give to people, ship a little bit home, and pack the rest for the flight. I leave La France en deux semaines.

Everyone told me horror stories of French landlords and how they try to wring every last cent out of one's deposit. When you move into an apartment, there is a lengthy list of every single thing in the place, and a box to check to indicate the quality: good, used, or bad. When you move out, you must go through the list again and re-examine each item. My officemate, for example, recently moved out of a place and her landlord refused to refund a cent; she and her husband have now hired a lawyer. So, I went into today's meeting with a bit of trepidation. And what happened? My landlord gave me the entire refund back. She took the long checklist, and without even looking at anything, just checked "good" for everything. Finally I said, "I broke a glass," and she replied, "In 2 years? Of course! That is to be expected." We then went through all the water bills and she ended up giving me a 70 euro check because I had overpaid. So, it was unexpectedly painless.

Only 2 weeks left in France. I can hardly believe it after all this time.

jeudi 27 novembre 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Its been a mellow Thanksgiving day here in France, a work day. I'm about to head out to dinner to a place with a very delicious poultry dish.. I figured that is about as close as it gets. We may not have turkey with all the trimmings, but a nice meal is what it is all about.

mercredi 26 novembre 2008

Congratulations to my officemate Elisabeth and her husband David! Elisabeth gave birth this morning at 8:46 to Elliot, 3600 g. All are well. See Elisabeth's blog link to the right.

vendredi 21 novembre 2008

Le beaujolais nouveau est arrivé

Voila! November 20th has arrived, and with it the yearly arrival of the Beaujolais nouveau. While most people believe that wine gets better with age, there is one wine which is made to be drunk young: le beaujolais nouveau. Oh yes, September was a good month, wasn't it?

Lyon's proximity to the Beaujolais region makes it an excellent center for tasting the nouveau. The festivities began 2 nights ago with horses trotting alongside the Saône to deliver 2008's Beaujolais Nouveau to Place Bellecour. The revelers enjoyed live music and fireworks until exactly midnight, when they were allowed to pop open this year's vintage.

I'm sorry to report that I missed these festivities, but I did go out last night and saw the setting up for non-stop holiday celebrations until Christmas. This time of year, most restaurants in Vieux Lyon set up a table outside where they sell Beaujolais Nouveau or vin chaud, and people gather outside late at night eating crepes and drinking wine. I tried some B.N. last night, and I have to admit that it tasted like wine that had been bottled 2 months ago. The wine isn't that great, but somehow we all get swept up in it anyway. I do like vin chaud though. It is delicious on a cold winter's night.

samedi 8 novembre 2008


Everyone here is thrilled about the election. I cannot overstate the degree to which everyone I know here was routing for Obama to win. I saw multiple homemade Obama signs on the streets. People were talking about it everywhere. The night of the election, when we were walking back from the party, some French college students who had written 'Obama :)' on their faces stopped us to cheer. And I literally knew no one at my job who was pulling for McCain. It surprised me a little bit, because there are certainly a few Sarkozy supporters at work, so I assumed there had to be a few McCain fans in the crowd. But as Ann pointed to me over coffee yesterday, so many Europeans have been angered by Bush's foreign policy, specifically the unwillingness to work with other countries-- the 'if you're not with us, you're against us'-- for that reason alone people were routing for Obama to win. They want someone who is willing to work with their governments.

I've also been approached by several European colleagues who say things like, "I'm just so impressed that the US would elect a black man. I think that would never happen in my country." So, it is nice to briefly bask in the collective goodwill that is directed towards the US these days.

Farhad, an Iranian friend of mine at work, believes that Obama's election will likely result in moderates being elected in other countries. Bush was a real rallying point for radical politics elsewhere, so now the wind has been taken out of their sails a bit. Farhad also pointed out that when the Iranian government was accused of human rights abuses, president Ahmadinejad would just point out what a racist country the US is; that just won't hold water anymore. Farhad is hoping that Khatami will run again in the next Iranian presidential election. Its time for a moderate.

Alas, the election night party that I went to was a bit of a dud. It was at the Hilton, and there were 900 people there, crowded into a too-small room, and it quickly got overheated. Plus the "buffet" that we were promised consisted of a few bowls of chips and pistachio nuts. They eventually brought out a few trays of crudites, which were mobbed so quickly I couldn't even get to them. And the debates that I had so looked forward to were marred by a poor sound system, and I couldn't hear anything. Oh well. Plus I missed watching the election returns! I just didn't have the energy to try and stay up and watch them until 5 am.

Here are some blurry cell phone pics I took. The jazz band was pretty good.

lundi 3 novembre 2008

Election event

I'm supposed to go to this event tomorrow night.

In order to mark the important event in American politics, the Presidential Elections, the American and Franco-American communities of Lyon have organized a special Election Night evening on the night of the elections themselves - Tuesday November 4, 2008. The event will take place from 9PM onwards in the salons of the Lyon Hilton Hotel, 70 quai Charles de Gaulle in the Lyon 6th District. The American Club of Lyon, the Association France-USA , The American Chamber of Commerce - AmCham Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne have come together to organize this Special Evening for you in conjunction with the US Consul in Lyon. Our principal sponsors include – CEFAM International School of Business and Management, Alex Lapp, Air France and the Lyon Hilton. Our other sponsors include Wall Street Institute, FC2, ONLY LYON (Aderly), Coca Cola Enterprise, Le Casino le Pharaon, Dulac Fleurs , Conciergerie Cité Internationale , Bahadourian , Swiss com 2.

Several hundred people will be attending this long awaited event which will bring together numerous French and American personalities from the Lyon area. A buffet along with wine and soft beverage will be served while you enjoy some nice Jazz music from the Ecole de Musique de Limonest who will play with a grand piano furnished by their partner Bellecour Musiques. Experts from several domains will participate in animated debates about the political race itself as well as debates on the economy and the societal impacts in general of the 2008 American Presidential race. These debates as well as a tentative live video conference being organized with New York will give a good overview of the exchanges and partnerships in place between the Rhone Alpes Region and the United States. All during the evening, numerous animations are being organized, a live TV broadcast of the exit polls and the election results, a live drawing (winner must be present) of Free Tickets on the Lyon-New York flight offered specially for the evening by AIR FRANCE as well a straw poll of your vote for the elections will give a Lyonnais view of the American Political scene.

vendredi 31 octobre 2008

Project Bueller

In some extremely fun news, my friend Laurel is participating in a re-enactment of the parade scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, when Matthew Broderick lip-synchs "Twist and Shout" in the middle of Chicago's Von Steuben Day parade.

Project Bueller will take part in the annual Halloween parade in NYC, and onlookers and passerby are welcome to join in to the massive Beatles singalong, with 1980's-era business attire and dance moves strongly recommended. Laurel will be one of the beer maids on the float and play an accordion, I believe. Have you ever dreamed of being Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago? Join in for having one of the best days on your young lives. I would go if I could. The Project Bueller website has more information.

mercredi 22 octobre 2008


Here I am, miles upon miles upon kilometers from home, where all of my costume clothing is in boxes, and I have a Halloween party to go to on Saturday night. Who can I dress as this year? My only ideas are the most obvious choice of this year: Sarah Palin (but do I have a suit? and how does she get her hair to do that anyway?) and the most obvious choice of last year: Amy Winehouse. Yes, I can probably tease my hair into a modified beehive and put on some eyeliner, but could I find a bunch of fake tattoos to put all over my arms? Do I have sufficiently slutty clothes? Its a tough one this year.

jeudi 16 octobre 2008

Dean Smith endorses Obama

It's a sign that the campaign is officially over in North Carolina. Dean Smith endorsing Obama is the last nail in the McCain coffin. Could there be a more important endorsement?

I suggest that Obama go into the four corners offense and wrap this thing up.

mercredi 15 octobre 2008


Our last stop of this extended trip was Berlin. Such a great city!

One of my fave things in Berlin is the old East German street-crossing signs, which are way, way cuter than the old West German ones. People love them so much that they sell replicas as souvenirs.
We went over to Checkpoint Charlie, and went to the museum there, which is a cluttered collection of cold war memorabilia. It showed the various ways that people tried to escape out of East Germany, which pretty much were any way possible. It also showed the gruesome lengths by which the Russians/East Germans tried to stop them.
One of the things that we did was take a walking tour, which was sketched out in the guidebook. The tour went by this square, where there was a rally against the war in Afghanistan. What, is rallying against Iraq passé?This was a square where Hitler held a book burning rally.
This park is the Lustgarden, which is in front of the Berlin cathedral (on left). The ugly towers behind are what remains of the Palast der Republik, the East German parliament, which is now being dismantled.
Oktoberfest started the weekend we were there!
At the end of our walking tour, in front of the city hall, there was a big Löwenbräu tent. "Here's to good friends...."
Inside the tent we had enormous beers and pretzels, while a band played traditional German drinking songs.B got in trouble with our waitress because, instead of waiting to be served, he went up to a line and got us our beers there. How easy it is in Germany to break some rule you didn't know existed in the first place. The waitress lectured us and then punished us by ignoring us and not bringing our order.