'Flat Stanley' Major 'First'

photo: michael, sue, rob, anna, laurent, dinny, patricia

Another 'first,' again - this week's 'Partial Group
Photo of the Week.'

One of Many, Many, More

Paris:- Thursday, 19. September 2002:- You know, I do remember Monday's weather forecast. It was an odd one, with a description of a funnel effect - with the small end poking in the Bay of Biscay and the large end stretching from Alsace down to the Alps.

'Good' weather was in the funnel part and 'bad' weather was north and south of it. It was an interesting concept as far as weather notions go, but it was pure fiction. If anything it has been the reverse - except from inside the 'funnel' it is impossible to see what's happening on either side of it. Who cares, anyway?

Except for a bit of welcome sunshine yesterday afternoon in the 11th arrondissement near Voltaire, 'morning fog' has persisted through the matinée, the afternoon, the evening, sundown and other parts of the day usually called 'nighttime.'

For what it's worth, for the next few days, Saturday might be the brightest. None of them will be 'warmest.' The coming weekend of France's 'open doors' will best be spent inside.

When I arrive at the café Le Corona, Monsieur Ferrat is standing out on the Quai du Louvrephoto: streetwise, falk, paris maps terrace glumly looking at the sky above the Institut de France on the other side of the Seine. "Oui," he says when I ask him if the morning mists are still with us.

The two maps, including an exclusive photo of Ami's hands.

Inside the café, in the club's area of the 'grande salle,' some refugees from the terrace are huddling in secluded corners. Before now I haven't been aware of these corners because I've never seen anybody in them. If they want to be left alone, this is what I will do. Maybe they have their own 'clubs.'

On the way in, I also see that Patrick is back. After a long absence, he is ready to return to 'Waiter of the Week' service, but this won't be for today's meeting.

I am now really in the habit of bringing something to read in case no members are present for the meetings. This ensures that nothing gets read because members invariably turn up - as does Anna Eicher, to become a new member, and make Vienna in Austria the 'City of the Week.'

After I tell Anna about the 'rules exception' - there are none - she reads the questionnaire that requires no answers, and says that Paris should have parking places reserved for lady drivers.

"I love cars, even driving them in Paris," she says. Parking them is another matter though. I tell her about the photos that will be taken and she says, "Not me, not today."

Anna helps newcomers to Paris find out about the city and finds them suitable places to live. With her connections, she cuts through the tangles of local barbed-wire that could hinder substantial, but foreign people from finding lodgings.

Before I can spill my endless story of my endless search for an itsy-bitsy cut-rate apartment, newphoto: loo coin container member Ami Wright arrives, from the famous city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is somewhere close to Boston.

The club's 'first' loo-coin container 'of the week.'

After we have figured out that flying into Boston's airport is a bit like flying into Tempelhof in Berlin - when plane drivers can see it, they drop the flaps, cut the gas and put on the airbrakes, and plop onto it with the engines going furiously backwards and the wheel-brakes on full. This big difference is, Berlin isn't as close to the Atlantic Ocean as Boston.

For Boston, Ami suggests landing at night and having a window seat on the left side of the plane - if you like landings with good views of the middle of cities full of people driving home or watching TV.

Ami also says she is a 'tech writer,' so I ask her if she knows anything about Boston's Route 128. For the first time I learn that all roadsigns say this is Interstate 95, but everybody in the hightech business calls it 'Route 128.'

I do not find out why this is, because three new members arrive at 16:15. In true club fashion, Rob Hansen says they were aiming at 16:30, so they are actually somewhat early.

Rob and Sue Santa are from San Francisco, or Greenbrae, and Rob's mom Patricia lives in San Diego County, in Ramona - which was named after the famous pop group of the late '50s.

Patricia tells me they have just come from the 'four-mile-long' park on top of the viaduct near the Gare de Lyon. I protest that there is nothing 'four miles long' here because we have only kilometres in Europe - so the maps come out to look this up.

Rob, Sue and Patricia have a ketchup-proof 'Streetwise' model, and Ami has a German-made 'Falk-Plan.' The 'Streetwise' maps are very handy if outer arrondissements are to remain mysteries - just like my own 'Streetwise' subway map of Manhattan that treats Brooklyn and Queens as foreign countries, or as parking places for Manhattan's legends.

The quirky 'Falk-Plan' requires a fourth sensephoto: rob takes photo of dexterity to navigate its folds that usually takes several years of practice, but is worth the wait unless you tear the thing to pieces in frustration.

While the map face-off is going on, I hear Anna say that Angelina in the Rue de Rivoli has the best chocolates. 'Best' in Paris means pretty darn good. I think another club member has already said this, but it is my left ear's first time hearing it - so here it is.

Rob takes his own 'Photo of the Week.'

Then Patricia is saying to Anna that she is staying in an apartment owned by a German lady who normally doesn't rent it to Americans - when Dinny and Laurent arrive with their spaceage motorcycle helmets.

All club members should reember Laurent's first appearance last December when the meetings were temporarily being held at the Café Lodi, on account of the Corona's complete renovation - which has never been completed.

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