Spacy Ice Cream

photo: group of the week

This whole 'Group Photo of the Week' only lacks
five members.

Is Warm 'Food of the Week'

Paris:- Thursday, 26. June 2003:- We keep getting these forecasts for black clouds blowing from the west and upsetting our fine-weather apple-cart, but they keep on not happening. I was all set to stay in yesterday and do some important but tedious code-work, but good weather dragged me outside.

I was looking forward to the tedious code so much, going outside put me in a moldy mood. So, instead of working all night to make up for the lost nice-day time, I went to sleep instead.

Now then, what is today's situation? More rain clouds are supposed to gather over the western ocean and then drift our way, causing slightly cloudy periods but mostly sunny ones, especially on Saturday.

Temperatures are expected to stay right where they are - from 24 to 26, but really feeling like 29 to 31 degrees. I haven't closed any windows for weeks. It's amazing how quickly one gets used to incessant traffic noise, in return for meager amounts of fresher air.

But no complaints! It is so rare to have summer here when it is actually summer that I shouldn't even mention phoney forecasts for rain clouds from the western ocean. Pretend I didn't mention them.

Unlike last week when I was dubious, I do put on a Hawaiian shirt to wear to today's meeting. I even leave early in order to have an editorial discussion with one of the members before the meeting.

But when I arrive on the Rue de Rivoli, I sense that something different is going on. The sidewalks are jammed full of gay shoppers. What it is - are pre-sales sales! Oh my gosh! No theyphoto: soldes aren't. By checking Metropole's own 'Scene' column for July, I find that the Soldes d'Eté are from Wednesday, 25. June until Saturday, 26 July.

Why wasn't I informed? There's nothing about them in yesterday's Le Parisien. Uh-oh, but in today's edition it says - egad! It says there was a power outage on the Rue de Rivoli yesterday morning and some shops couldn't roll up their shutters and customers were really annoyed. They thought the shops were on strike. Wow!

For the Soldes d'Eté, strikes are forbidden by ancient French law from the time of Clovis. Now I realize what was going on while I was out yesterday on the overpacked Rue de Rennes. And over on Raspail, I saw men's suits for 40euro 3 sign. Not that I want one, but I almost bought one made in Romania anyway, because it was sort of old-style.

Pre-club Meeting(s)

So, today, here I am in thephoto: alan savage, carmal mckenzie café La Corona's bar, extra early, having a glass of water - when members Carmel McKenzie and Alan Savage come in to say howdy. They are on their way to the Louvre across the street, instead of to a club meeting, because they've come all the way from Australia again.

Carmel and Alan chose Louvre art over club meeting chaos.

This pleasant extra-club meeting continues on into the pre-club meeting I was going to have, causing me to be ten minutes late for it.

Today's Café Metropole Club Meeting

This starts exactly at 15:00 when Lee Hausman - no relation to Baron Haussmann - arrives from Falls Church, Virginia, with the 'Food of the Week' which he has brought from the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum shop - its best-selling item he says.

It is space-age Freeze Dried Ice Cream. It is probably this product's first time in Paris, and maybe in Europe - so I ask Laurel Avery to try it. When she doesn'tphoto: freeze dried ice cream keel over from a balloon-head, I try some too.

I am no ice cream expert, but I think it tastes like very old, 30 degree C, wafer-like ice cream, although it is supposed to taste like cool chocolate-vanilla-strawberry ice cream, or 'spacefood.' It contains 20 ingredients, including 'locust bean gum.' It also has 'Red #40' twice.

The no-kidding 'real thing' - Freeze Dried Ice Cream for spacemen.

In the short space of time of tasting, members Barry Wright and Marilee McClintock arrive. Marilee says, "It's a bit like styrofoam."

Lee works at the Smithsonian, and confirms that a space has been made available for the Air France Concorde at the museum's 'Hazy Center.' He invites everybody at the meeting to visit the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, even though it is free, like this club.

Somewhere here Mary Sheron from Golden, Colorado, arrives. I, the club's secretary, like the name 'Golden' so much that it becomes the 'City of the Week.' It is, of course, the home of the Coors Brewery, and not the mining centre I thought it was. Nailing the award home, Barry has the biggest glass of beer available at La Corona without actually ordering a 'formidable.'

In the reigning chaos, members Susanne Chaney and Christina Witsberger arrive, followed by member Ron Bristol, who brings news of his recent visit to St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary. 'The ice cream capital of the world,' he says. He also says the Hermitage has poor lighting even though it is almost always daylight there at this time of year.

Lee says that he's been in Paris nine times - from Fridays to Thursdays - so this tenth time he's changed something so that he can come to the club. It just goes to show that freeze dried ice cream keeps fresh a long time.

Somebody asks if anybody has ever eaten at the 'Frog & Rosbif.' Two members say their fathers were 'The Great Santini.' Ron thinks the 'Frog & Rosbif' was a British MBA project that became real.

Marilee wants to talk about the best hamburgers in Paris. She says Booster's Pub is a good placephoto: laurel tests ice cream to get one, but says she prefers their steaks - which are good for the price, whatever it is.

Deciding not to be an 'étranger' in Paris, Ron ordered a pastis in his local café. This impressed the locals so much that they bought him four more before he could leave. He also says Brezhnev jokes are still popular in St. Petersburg, and tells us some fish stories.

Laurel bravely shows correct way of eating freeze-dried ice cream.

Marilee has a bus 69 story. She was taking it from somewhere around the Champ de Mars, intending to go to Bastille, when the bus ran into the 'unknown demo of the day' and the bus driver doubled back along the left bank. After trying for two hours, and picking up many passengers who had never seen a bus 69 before, he gave up and left everybody off at Châtelet.

This is obviously the 'bus story of te week' even if it is only the half-way point of the meeting. New member Kate Ernst arrives from the Manhattan part of New York City, followed by members Lauren and Steve Camera- Murray.

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