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For the Love of Speed

photo, buildings, rue st honore

Rue Saint–Honoré without Rue de Rivoli.

Two Storms In One Teapot

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 11. October 2004:– This morning, 'idyllic times' were supposed to have ended this morning, but my impression is that they 'ended' a few days ago. If there was sunshine on the weekend I was asleep. The weather maps looked like black sheep were grazing on them.

Tonight's TV–weather news confirms this tendency. All the weather maps were the same – all gray. But we have a slight 'first' and it is the announcement of snow in the Alps, above the 2000 metre level. I rub my hands together not with glee, but to keep them warm, although there are no Alps other than Montmartre and Montsouris in the neighborhood.

Well, anyhow. In northern France the sun may peep out once tomorrow somewhere in the vicinity of Orléans. Wind will blow offshore towards Britain at about 60 kph. Here there will be cloud cover, perhaps even thick, most likely all day long. The temperature shouldn't be higher than 15 degrees.

Some thing is forecast for Wednesday. Clouds without technicolor, no sun peeps for Orléans, and a high temperature of 15 or 16. The number was so small it was hard to be certain.

Ditto Thursday. Le Parisien thinks there will be rain everywhere, but tonight's TV–weather news didn't mention it, except for the snow in the Alps part. Again the warmth number was very small, and it might have been as low as 13 – this is what I wrote – but, golly, this doesn't seem cricket. Maybe no more than we deserve, probably no less than we'll get.

Café Life

This sort of 'Life' has been absent around here for some weeks now on account of a lack of Daguerréotypistas. They are either away or missing or are doing spring cleaning, for the year of 1999. Last week one was standing on the Avenue du Maine, portable radio playing Radio Fun, tossing empty bottles into one of the green bottle containers.

Some of the bottles were pretty dusty and I didn't get the idea they had all been emptied in the last two weeks. There wasphoto, dome, institut de france about a years' worth of slightly broken wine glasses too, and they were popped into oblivion one by one. The Daguerréotypista gave one with only a little chip out of the rim a hard stare, and then deep–sixed it.

I thought he looked like he was going to toss his watch in too, but he was just looking at it so he would remember what time the rain started. This reminded me that I had a fresh loaf of bread in my hand, so I took it home where it could get stale instead of soggy.

Then I spent the rest of the week looking up URLs for museums, trying to figure out their new names, and trying not to get their free days and late evenings mixed up. It's not a great way to pass the time while the sky is all gray, but it's better than sweeping woolmice off the floor.

For the Love of Speed

The TV–news had an odd story last week. It concerned a fellow who has one of these cars loaded with gadgets, and one of them was a speed regulator. His got stuck at 190 kph. Fifty minutes and 200 kilometres later, after calling the cops for help, he got the thing unstuck and turned off, shut down and parked.

Since the driver was the only one scared out of his wits and no one was injured, it was just one of those 'things–happen' faits divers – except that the Auto Salon was on, and a Renault spokesman said such a thing could never never happen to one of their cars.

Then Renault, not knowing when to shut up, made some sort of official complaint – one that would require an independent expert to find that such a thing could never never happen.

It also became known that the driver has had a few problems while in traffic and only fairly recently gotphoto, cour carree, louvre his license back. Then TV–news found some other drivers of similar models, who had the same thing happen to them. One managed to get through an autoroute toll gate and come to a stop by ramming a car leaving it.

Cour Carrée of the Louvre.

The way the speed regulators are supposed to work is you dial in a desired speed and the car does this up hill and down dale until the brakes are tapped or the thing is turned off. But the first driver said it just ignored him – he couldn't shift down, he couldn't turn off the ignition, and the handbrake didn't work.

Renault has tested the car at a test centre of its own choosing and says it found nothing wrong other than a defective airbag warning light. Other drivers said Renault couldn't find anything wrong with their cars either.

What the first driver can't understand is why Renault thinks he made up the story. As he put it, 'what has he to gain?'

Then, on tonight's TV–news there was some guy speaking for a newly invented lobby, called something like 'Uselessly Rapid Cars.' His group wants speed regulators on all cars, and have them set to low speeds. This group cannot understand why some people have to buy and drive 325 kph Ferraris – at no more the 130 kph, which is the top speed limit in France.

TV–news wisely pointed out that some top model German cars have such a regulator, set so they can go no faster than 250 kph. The only reason for mentioning this story is because of the doctors who hve gathered here from around the world to celebrate 'World Headache Day.'


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