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Showing posts from May, 2019

RESTAURANT ETIQUETTE, PART TWO: BY POPULAR DEMAND

My recent post concerning restaurant etiquette in France caused a bit of a buzz on various social media platforms. Lots of folks pointed out that most of the rules that I had proposed were simply grounded in common sense. Others replied that common sense isn't as common as it used to be. Some readers expressed disappointment that I hadn't discussed appropriate dress or the proper use of utensils or the correct way to taste wine. Rather than deprive my readers of my thoughts on these matters, freely given and worth every penny, here's Part Two.

PROPER ATTIRE: You're not going to wear that, are you?
A rule of thumb might be: The higher the expected tab, the more conservative the clothing.

Denim jeans are ubiquitous in France, on guys and gals alike. And ladies, the more bling the better. Ripped jeans are still a thing. God knows why, but She isn't telling. Don't. Just don't.

Shorts? Fine for lunch at that beach cabana. Long pants for dinner, please. Yoga pan…

IMPEACHMENT: FOR EUROPEANS AND FOR AMERICANS WHO THINK THAT THEY KNOW BUT DON'T

Talk of the possibility of impeaching President Trump is in the news. As an expat living in France, I've had occasion to explain just what impeachment means and how it works to some of my European friends. For the curious among you, here's the down and dirty version.

There are two ways that the American Constitution provides for the removal from office of a duly elected, living President.

Amendment XXV of the Constitution was ratified about 50 years ago and cleans up a couple of lingering questions including the provision of a path for succession should a living President be unable to fulfill the duties of the office through illness or other circumstance. Although there are those who would declare Trump unfit under Amendment XXV, that's really not a serious possibility.

Impeachment, however, is a serious possibility these days. Written into the body of the Constitution is the following:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be r…

SPRING BLOOMS ON THE TERRACE: MAY, 2019

While hunting for our retirement home in France, we knew that we wanted to be in a village, a village with a bakery, with a place to buy milk and eggs. Maybe a butcher. Bread trucks are fine for some. Not for us. And we didn't want to have to climb into a car just because we ran out of butter. Restaurant? Nice but not necessary. Cash point?  Petrol station? Nice but...

The house itself needed to have a place for me to hide...I mean, to work. And separate living and dining spaces so that Cathey could cook without having to entertain at the same time. In other words, no 'open plan' combination living/dining room with a kitchen corner.

Finally, there needed to be outside space. Not a communal courtyard or a piece of sidewalk commandeered for personal use. A private garden or a terrace, thank you. Attached. The idea of a plot on the edge of town on which to grow veggies is an interesting European concept but not sufficient to our needs.

In the end, we found exactly what we w…

RESTAURANT ETIQUETTE IN FRANCE: SIMPLE PRIMER (WITH TONGUE IN MY AMERICAN CHEEK)

My recent reading of a poor internet review of a favorite restaurant of ours prompted this post. Some people simply should not be allowed internet access. Speech may rightly be free, but it shouldn't be worthless.

From reading the review, I could determine that the reviewer was a tourist who started out in a bad mood because he had to pay extra for parking a camper van that exceeded the maximum height for parking in the free lot. His party arrived at the restaurant at the end of lunch and without a reservation. At first, he was told that an empty table that he pointed out was reserved. When he persisted, he was informed that lunch was over. Since none of the other restaurants in town were still open, the reviewer had to miss lunch.

Let me count the ways...

RESERVATIONS ARE NECESSARY. Maybe not at Burger King, maybe not in a touristy restaurant in a touristy destination. But if you are really hungry, if you really want to try that restaurant that everybody's talking about, or …

STUPID STUFF - APRIL/MAY, 2019: SPEEDING PIDGEON, LYFT, US TAXES, REALITY, AND MORE

A German speed camera recently snapped a picture of a pidgeon flying 45 kph in a 30 kph zone. Law enforcement does not believe that an arrest is imminent.

In response to a lawsuit concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act, Lyft's lawyers argued in court that Lyft is not a transportation company. They are a technology platform. That's like Ben and Jerry saying that they don't make ice cream. They provide cultural commentary that tastes good. UPDATE: The EU courts have just ruled that Airbnb is not a real estate company. It's a technology platform! Live long and be amazed...

The US Congress has moved forward the (intentionally?) misnamed Taxpayer First Act that would prohibit the government from developing free tax preparation software. Sellers of for-profit software who distribute campaign contributions on a bipartisan basis helped write the legislation. But campaign contributions have nothing to do with the legislation, right? And contributions from Big Pharma ha…

IMMERSED IN VAN GOGH: PROJECTED ART IN A MINE IN LES BAUX-DE-PROVENCE

Yes, that's a four-story tall projection of Van Gogh's self portrait on a wall of an old limestone quarry. My photo doesn't do the reality justice. Reproductions of Van Gogh's paintings rise from the floor, glide through the mine's galleries, all to appropriate (mostly) music. It's immersive art. It's a high-end refinement of the French penchant for such projections, called lumières.

Some lumières are just plain silly, more like graffiti than art, like the concentric yellow circles that were projected on the walls of the old town of Carcassonne recently. But some, like the Carrières de Lumières in the abandoned underground limestone quarry in the gorge below the hilltop village of Les Baux-de-Provence, are simply awe inspiring. Previous shows have featured the work of such diverse artists as Chagall, Bosch, and Gauguin. There even appears to be an annual two-day event dedicated to Star Wars that's a fundraiser for the local Kiwanis Club - a service clu…