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A 'First' of 'Firsts'

photo, meringue, food of the week

'Food of the Week' award goes to raspberry meringue.

Extraterrestrial Intelligence!

Paris:– Thursday, 7. October 2004:– There should be a lot of things I can say about the weather but I can't think of many. Weather happens every day after all, and sometimes the only thing worth mentioning is whether it's daytime or night.

Night weather is not so interesting as day weather. For one thing, there's less to see. When you look up atphoto, wine of the week night and it's raining, you don't see stars. You feel invisible rain in the face. It's the same thing with wind at night. You can't see it.

For a change, rain will probably happen in the daytime tomorrow. First, there will be a 50 kph wind slanting down the Channel from the North Sea. Second, dirty black clouds will be rising through France, to dump on Paris. Thirdly, it's going to be freaking cold – only 14 flipping degrees. The weather map looks like a true horror.

As there was only one, this is the 'Wine of the Week.'

Then on Saturday the whole thing changes. Wet clouds attack France from the west and maybe dribble a bit of rain on the city, between bits of sunrays peeping out from behind passing clouds. For, from the west, expect two degrees more – a high of 16 degrees.

Then on Sunday, because it's named after the sun, it should be mostly sunny. Clouds will be white and fluffy like popcorn, it might be raining in Reims, but here it should be dry and 18 degrees in the afternoon. 'Afternoon' in France begins at 15:00 after several hours of 'midi' and lasts for a hour, until 16:00, when 'soir' starts. Actual sundown will be about 19:00, because it's only still October.

The Only Club Report of the Week this Week

It is cool but not cold on the way to the club today. It is always warmer in the Métro, so I abandon it at Saint–Germain and walk down the Rue Bonaparte with the vague idea of visiting the Louvre, without actually standing in line for anything.

The Rue Bonaparte has very narrow sidewalks and too much traffic, so I quit it at Rue des Beaux–Arts, which has police guarding its entry. They seem to be guarding a scaffolding. The rest of the street has swank galleries and one features some drawings by Jules Pascin and another has gouaches by Serge Poliakoff.

A bit of culture on the way to the club is uplifting. Crossing the Pont des Arts is like outdoor sports, withoutphoto, mara beck breathing hard. For the first time I notice that it's possible to see right through the Louvre to the Rue de Rivoli. Therefore I go through the Cour Carrée and look at the buildings in the Rue Saint–Honoré on the other side of the Rue de Rivoli.

After this three minutes of thrill, I still manage to get to the club's café ahead of time, note the date and whatnot, and note that the club's area has 33 places. It's like a big living room without any TV, but with room service.

To be awake for the club, Mara slept for three hours crossing the Atlantic.

I am skimming Le Parisien, which isn't on strike today and am just about to read about an evening at the China Club when a new member approaches.

This is Mara Beck from Brooklyn, New York City. Mara arrived at Roissy early this morning, so she is not going to be held accountable for anything. "Internet comes to life," she says.

Mara also says she recently visited Coney Island a couple of years ago, after not seeing it for 20 years. Like most New Yorkers, even ones who live in Brooklyn, she can take it or leave it, and mostly leaves it.

The sun has come out and is blasting into the club's area so at first I can't figure out that a shadowy figure, with cold hands, is Metropole's very own server–lady, Linda Thalman.

Mara receives Linda's 'Paris In Sites' newsletter so they practically know each other already. They trade countries they've visited, with Linda saying, "There's lots of buddhas in Thailand!"

Mara's lunch story was about the restaurant so small that its no–smoking zone was 'one table.' Then the two discuss how to sneak six–packs of water into hotels with mini–bars.

Or how to have a drink on some airlines that fly to the Middle East without drinks. This is a variation on asking for a bowl of ice and freshening up water glasses with a mickey of scotch.

Then Susanne Chaney arrives with her broken foot. She says she told me last week that it happened by making a misstep on a movie place staircase in Amsterdam, but it sounds like a new story to me. She broke her 'Jones bone' she says.

She plops a bag on the table and takes a meringue out of it. Some people like it. I think meringue likephoto, lynn airy cement. The one in the photo is raspberry–flavored, but she says she has a plain one. What is plain meringue? Doesn't matter – it's the 'Food of the Week' without question.

Linda shows us a roadmap for Abu Dhabi. She is taking it for the airline pilot to use during her flight there. I guess there are châteaux there that need inspecting, or maybe it is always in season.

Lynn balances living in Oakland with working in San Francisco.

Although not all members are present, Linda is going, so we do the 'Group Photo of the Week' shorthanded. The sunlight manages to disturb the camera, and all four photos are total writeoffs. Therefore I substitute the 'Food of the Week' for the 'raté' 'Group of the Week.'

Susanne says that she used her broken foot to jump lines during the 'Nuit Blanche.' Actually she says she didn't understand the 'Nuit Blanche' at all. It is just an excuse to stand in lines after midnight instead of only during the day.

About here two new members from Oakland, California arrive. Jeff and Lynn know exactly where Susanne's Fairfax is, but I forget to listen. Jeff says they saw a giant pigeon at Saint–Michel.

Patrick, the 'Waiter of the Week,' known to hundreds of club members, stands patiently by ready to take drink orders. A drink has been recommended to Lynn so she asks Patrick for a white, dry, martini with cassis.

This launches the 'Debate of the Week' and Patrick joins in. When it has been fully discussed he withdraws to the bar end of the café to get the fixings.photo, martini cassis cocktail

We twiddle our thumbs for five minutes until Patrick returns with the drinks. Lynn hesitates. "I'm waiting for the ice to melt," she says. Then, carefully, "I wouldn't totally recommend it."

Susanne takes a sip and says, "It tastes like cough syrup;" Actually it smells like varnish remover, much the same as any sort of vermouth flavored with black currant juice.

The 'Cocktail of the Week' was not a great success, tastewise.

Jeff is, we learn, a scientist. For the past ten years he has been engaged in a search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In fact he is with a program called SETI, which uses millions of PCs around the globe for spare computing power, for analyzing weak signals from the Arecibo Radio Observatory located in Puerto Rico.

This is called something like 'distributed computing,' and as far as I am concerned, it's a great way to use Windows with PCs. Jeff says the combined computing power is bigger than Texas, or something else equally large.

There was a mild stir recently in the extraterrestrial intelligence business when the magazine New Scientist hopelessly overblew a signal as being a morning talk–radio station on SHGb02+14a, about 48 trillion light–years away. A re–scan of five billion potential signals improved SHGb02+14a's score, but it was still only in the 'top 200.'

This goes on at Berkeley, which was once associated with a gold rush. Jeff says it is pretty exciting doingphoto, jeff cobb this searching even if nothing much has been found in the way of intelligence in outer space. There's more aliens to be heard on local morning talk– radio.

Jeff is, of course, the 'Listener of the Week.'

Susanne has a map she says is specially enlarged for people who don't see too well. "I can't read all these little streets. Where we are is all little streets and everywhere we go is all little streets," she says.

To illustrate the map she turns on her digital camera, to show its miniature photos the size of stamps. They are not in order so it is a long process, coordinating the map to the photos.

Mara asks if there is a bus that will take her back to Montparnasse. I suggest she try the number 58, which has a handy stop beside the Samaritaine. When I leave, I cross the Seine via the Pont des Arts again, uplifted as ever.

Extraordinary Announcement

The coming meeting next Thursday will be the anniversary of the Café Metropole Club. Everybody should try to be on hand for an exciting double 'first.' It will be the last meeting of the club's 5th year and the first meeting of its 6th year. No other Café Metropole Club in the history of the world has had so many meetings, in such a short period of time. By next week the club will have managed to hold 259 meetings in a mere 60 months – another true 'first!'

The Café Metropole Club's About Page

Today's club meeting 'report' lacked for nothing other than a 'City of the Week.' No meeting is perfect. The 'About the Café Metropole Club'photo, cafe of the week page has some other details, but you can skip them and not miss most of the ex–rules. An easier way to find out all you want to know about the club is by joining it any Thursday.

Back for new acclaim, the 'Café of the Week.'

You can become a real lifetime member of this online magazine's real, live, and free club by becoming a member really easily on a Thursday by signing–in yourself during one of the meetings in Paris if you are here. Getting something to drink is even more easily arranged than said.

The club's 'rules' were turned into mere hints of rumors by the club's members some time ago, much to their everlasting satisfaction. The club's other meager distinction is that it is the only club related to an Internet magazine that carries on with no newsletter, regardless of what members say.

Why Not, When, Who, Where, How, What?

The weekly club meetings start about 15:00, on Thursday afternoons. Meetings end about 17:00, also on Thursday afternoons in the western European Time zone – which is really 'CET' for short and not 'PoGo' although it sometimes is – and known elsewhere as 3 pm to 5 pm. Club meetings are always in Paris. If the secretary gets no other better offer soon, club meetings will continue to be held here.

Do something clever at a meeting – like being present for one – and become mildly famous for a short moment. True 'firsts' are welcome, with 'true' having approximately the same monopoly value as 'first,' especially if hotels are involved. 'True' is perfectly acceptable too, especially if it's modestly 'first.'

There's just one note of caution – you may have any one or two personal reasons for not wanting to be traceable via the Web. If so, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be '404 – not found' by Web search engines before becoming 'found' in one of these club reports.graphic: club location map

Former 'rules' remain 'former' week after darn week, year after everlasting year, and have been purged from the club's intergalactic volumes of archives except for all the originals still online buried in the cool and deep salt mines of the SHGb02+14a chronicles.

Conversation with other club members at meetings is an encouraged activity rather than permanently optional. If there's an empty chair, sit – also optional – wherever you like, or haul one over from another part of the café. What you say may be frankly appreciated by other members present if they are listening, and there usually are some – and if it should chance to be written here, as bits of it are, sometimes.*

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because there were no known 'Radio Signals of the Week' at today's meeting other than digital cameras.

The café's location is:

Café–Tabac La Corona
2. Rue de l'Amiral de Coligny – or – 30. Quai du Louvre
Paris 1. Métro: Louvre–Rivoli, Pont–Neuf or Châtelet.
Every Thursday from 15:00 to 17:00.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

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contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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Waldo Bini