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You are not much better off. Your glasses are smeared on the inside with mascara that your eyelashes are wishing up and down, and they have raindrops on the outsidephoto: gnome cycle motor too. Between the two of you, this is called 'blind love.'

Through the rush-hour chaos of the boulevard, he thinks he spots you. He has really got this 'coup de foudre' thing so he is not going to take a chance on letting you get away.

Hand-finished motors of the past look like modern sculpture today.

He gets the 'green man' and hurries across the street within a crosswalk, but fails to see a scooter racing up in the bike lane, hidden behind the halted cars.

Now we have the movie finish - which means an unlikely but happy end.

The scooter driver sees Romeo at the last split-second and swerves to the left. Romeo leaps from the sound, catches a toe on the curb and flops into a big puddle on the sidewalk - just a little too quickly for you to avoid stepping on his hand with one of your high heels.

Romeo is bleeding, but not mortally wounded. You are both soaking wet and both nearly blind. It is love at first sight.

There was other news in Paris this week, but nothing more important than a little bit of harmless fiction.

France's 'Less-than-One-Percent' Online Life

According to the Cisco Observatory there are 249 million people online. This may explain why the 'Net seems full. With seven million hookups, France represents O.35 percent of the total, which is - not many.

As with all of these 'Internet statistics' a few grains of doubt are in order. The places that go to the trouble of concocting these numbers usually have a commercial reason for doing so.

Thus, e-commerce in France is estimated with a volume of 1.6 billion francs, which is 0.42 percent of the worldwide total of 68 billion - Francs? Yen? Dollars? In the area of domains, France has 58,000 in .fr compared to 5.4 million in .com. Some of these dot-coms are French of course.

Exactly how these numbers are cooked up, is seldom explained. They may be based on telephone surveys for all I know.

Beaubourg's Stars au Féminin

The reopening is old news now. During the klotzy culture factory's two-year renovation, its Web site kept ticking over. Take a look for a current show titled 'Stars au Féminin' which has something to do with 150 films; on show until 2. October.

The 'Fête' de l'Internet

Every year this event is announced with some fanfare, and every year I fail to grasp what it's all about, because it seems to be entirely 'virtual.' In order not to forget it, I'll run this one again.

The Fête's organization is non-profit and it is coordinated by the AFI association. This event is not restricted to France; at the European level it is called the Fiesta 2000. The actual Fête/Fiesta will take place from Friday, 17. March to Sunday, 19. March.

GNT = Greenwich Net Time

'Greenwich Net Time' has been on trial since January and is supposed to be rolled out on Tuesday, 29. February, which it 'leap-day' - which is in some dispute too. The idea, I think, is to have a universal 'Net Time' so all our emails carry some sort of correct time, independent of GMT. It might even be some new metric-type system.

Web Shorties:

Better-late-than-never: The Year of the Dragon has had several Web sites devoted to it, but just as I missed the actual date - Saturday, 5. February - I have been slow in getting any URLs for it. Here's one. Luckily, the 'dragon' year continues until 23. January 2001.

Re-Runs:

The 27th comics festival at Angoulême ended a week ago. This Web site presents this year's prize winners, plus links to other sites featuring 'bandes dessinées' - BDphoto: make unknown for short. In France, the 'comic books' are hardcover and they outsell practically all other forms of published fiction, except some potboiler books sold in airports.

How big the motor is the question posed by the over-long front end.

The annual 'Milia 2000' takes place from Monday, 14. February to Saturday, 18. February. This is the annual market showcase for multimedia, which includes the Internet of course. Entry fees are from 2000 francs to 5000 for the 'Think Tank.' These amounts do not include the value-added tax; so add 20.6 percent to the bill.

Some of the suggestions for these Web site references have been gleaned from 'Internet-Actu.' Internet-Actu has also just launched a new bi-weekly newsletter called Pixel-Actu, which concerns digital imaging; also in French. Laurent Katz is the editor. For a taste of Pixel-Actu, give its Web version a hit.

Both of these newsletters feature many items you will already be familiar with, but they also include news of developments in Europe. Both are well-written in French, so if you want to build up your techno vocabulary, these newsletters can help.

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