August's Headlines

photo: bistro aux vieux colombier

My cafés and bistros are a bit mixed this week -
this may be a café.

The Eclipse, Pots of Money and No Smoking

Paris:- Sunday, 8. August 1999:- The newspaper headlines reflect the essential character of the first week of this month, when editors suspect nobody may be reading them.

Heat, pollution - what you need to know, on Tuesday. Eclipse glasses alert, on Wednesday. The passion of do-it-yourself, on Thursday. Football player transfer fee phenomenon, on Friday. Beaches - the new restrictions, on Saturday. All, heavy reading.

Why Heat Worsens Pollution

Dog-day heat and increasing pollution are more and more common, says Le Parisien. The earth is heating up - true, says Le Parisien. High temperatures worsen automobile pollution - true, says the paper. And sophoto: bistro l'atelier, montparnasse on, including every summer's standard claim that drought is gaining ground in France.

This was the theme of the day last in Tuesday's editions - based on Monday's weather. By mid-week, winds were blowing in summer storms and blowing away pollution; just like every summer.

The one new element about wind, was the mention that Paris' pollution blew southwest - to cause initial pollution alerts, not in Paris, but in the southwest departments of Essonne and Yvelines. Two departments, in themselves, relatively pollution-free.

Three out of five of Le Parisien's readers did not agree with the paper's proposition that summers are more and more warm - proving perhaps that Le Parisien's readers are skeptical about what they read and go by what they feel.

By week's end summer storms had caused flooding and downed power lines throughout France, forcing the electricity company to recall vacationing line workers.

Fake Eclipse Shades

Exactly one week before the mythic date of our celestial magic show, stories appeared about the inability of certain 'CE'-branded eclipse safety-glasses to shield spectator's eyes from the sun's powerful radiations. The first dud glasses were made in Colombia.

Fraud inspectors, of whom there are not many, attempted to verify some of the 36 million pairs of glasses ready to be distributed or in circulation. Many of these are sold for a nominal five francs or given away in every sort of promotion.

An inspection of your own eclipse glasses should reveal a printed mention as follows: 'CE' and 'INRS,' 'BSA' or 'DIN-CERTCO,' for respectively, France, Britain and Germany. Thephoto: metro line 6, tour eiffel suffix-letters stand for the technical certification organizations in each country.

If the only thing you can see through your eclipse glasses are clearly-defined, lit halogen lamps, then your glasses are probably okay. Even if okay, during the eclipse it is recommended that you only glance at the spectacle for seconds at a time.

Other dud glass was reporting to be coming from Taiwan by TV-news, which ran one or more eclipse items in every broadcast. For last-minute Charlies like me, I'll get up early Tuesday and buy Le Parisien or its national edition, Aujourd'hui, which is attaching eclipse glasses to 600,000 copies.

It's Crazy Summer Do-It-Yourself Time

Some 40 percent of the residents of France do not go away for summer vacations. Some of these stay-at-homes cannot afford to, but many others use their annual days off to decorate their new houses or apartments, or redecorate their existing ones.

Just when you think shoppers may be a bit thin on the sidewalks of the Rue de Rivoli in central Paris, all you have to do is visit the basement hardware departments of Samaritaine and the BHV, to see where the action is.

Dads, and some moms, are busily buying paint, brushes, wallpaper, tools, sinks, and all of the other odds and ends designed for renewing or improving living quarters.

Le Parisien has expert advice: 'With two hours available for do-it-yourself, go to a movie,' says one. In a day, you can carpet on 10 square-metre room, Mr. Fixit says. In three days, you can paint one. With a whole week, you can tile your kitchen floor.

The secret to most home-improvement jobs is to spend two-thirds of the time on preparation, a bit on doing the job, and a good bit on cleaning up the mess.

Two of Le Parisien's interviewed lady 'bricoleures' do-it-themselves, two get their husbands to do it and one tricks friends into doing it. No men were asked if they liked doing 'bricolage.'

My answer on their behalf, sitting in a newapartment that needs some work, is I wish I had a husband who liked doing it. If do-it-yourself is seen as a sea of opportunity, I am in the Bermuda Triangle of it.

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