horz line

By a Whisker

photo, cafe montmartre, le bar au relais

Light, dark, loungers, on Montmartre.

The Issue that Almost Wasn't

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 1. November 2004:– Tonight's TV–weather news has been exceptionally frank and can be summed up thusly – "What do you expect – it's November!"

Long weekend weather had been been putting up a brave front by tossing us sunny periods after difficult mornings, but collapsed today. Gray morning turned into gray afternoon and for good measure began to rain, making my coat wet. It was not pretty.

I wish I could show you what a mess I've made of Le Parisien's tidy little weather maps. First off, I've drawn a big counter–clockwise loop around France. In weather–speak this is called a depressingly low whirl. It means there will be the nasties out west and out east.

After a gray morning the centre part may be partly sunny, or a quarter– bright. The high will be a low 14 degrees. This is not stunning so on to Wednesday when it will be pretty much the same, except that the temperature will be no more than 13.

On Thursday, it will again be the same but even worse, out east and out west, with the addition of some 50 kph breezes blowing against Calais. If there's any spare room in the centre, it might be partly sunny in the afternoon, but my x's and crosses make it hard to tell for sure.

As Le Parisien puts it, always raining, always cloudy and always no better – followed by Friday when it will be 'rain again.' Friday is officially beyond the scope of this long–range forecast, so I will not second Le Parisien's opinion.

Café Life

Much Ado

I will not say you are lucky to be reading this – because once something gets written in Metropole it tends to stay online forever. I should write that you are lucky to be reading this if you are doing it today.

Late on Sunday afternoon all was rosy in the editorial precincts of Metropole. A lousy hand of street posters and Morrisphoto, jazz band, cafe odessa columns had turned into a royal flush, almost, and there was plenty of time to write lots more of the kind of news and interesting items that you expect.

The sound of music dogs our footsteps.

Nigel, who is making his annual visit, had been out seeing the 'Floating World' show at the Grand Palais, and generally hanging out and taking photos. Back here for a homemade café, he showed me the photos in the little window in the back of his camera.

Ed, being so techno–proficient, asked for his memory card, and with it in hand tried to stick it in the nifty memory card reader. It didn't seem to go in. I tried the other way, and it went in less. When I gave up –without forcing it in any way! – the old computer seemed to have frozen.

'Nothing a little old crash re–start won't fix,' I thought. When the lights came on again the Mac said – silently – 'where's my system gone?'

Also gone were all of this issue's files, including that 'royal flush' of posters and Morris columns. 'Not to worry,' I thought – 'just give it a shot of old SOS–Disk.' Ten shots later I started to worry. It said, 'buddy you got a grave error here.' And about 15 seconds later it would say, 'repair attempt failed. Try again sucker.'

After another 29 tries, I wanted to try something else. Like a huge shot of cognac. Like an original system CD–ROM. With these there aren't many choices, so it only took 15 minutes to run through these, with the Mac still blinking its idiotic '?' at me.

You may not believe this, but this old crate has chugged through the spam and virus wars without a hiccup – for about ten years. That a photo memory card could bring it to its knees I couldn't believe. I didn't even get to see the photos!

On account of an impeccable track record, and poverty, I don't have any software tools for fixing a hard disk, other than the SOS–Disk thing. I usually run it about once a week, just 'in case.'

What to do? Late Sunday, and Monday is a holiday for the saints. I know, I'll – phone Matt Rose. It's a long shot because Matt is angry. But I do it. Matt is home, Matt has a software disk tool, but neither of us have a way of transferring it from his machine to mine. His CD thing doesn't work, I have no Zip Drive, and of course my crate isn't answering the phone.

Who else has a Mac? Hmm, Laurel has one. I phone Laurel and interrupt her busy painting – for her Berlinphoto, montmartre bicycle show this coming week – but the angel says, 'sure, have Matt email the software to me.' I call Matt back and he types up some instructions for Laurel and emails the software to the 7th arrondissement.

Park and walk, up on Montmartre.

It hadn't seemed right to rush over there last night because of the western on TV. As it was, Nigel and I sat and bickered at it. Robert Redford, as a mountain man, somehow managed to run into and endless stream of angry Indians, who really didn't like him. What was he doing out there anyway?

Later, after Nigel left, Arte–TV had a rehash of the 'Battle of the Little Bighorn.' Some of the original cast were on hand, including Mrs. Custer. You all know the story. The combined armies of Indians wiped out Custer and 281 other dudes, and the US Cavalry wiped out a million Indians. Americans spend a lot of their summer vacations going to see re–enactments of this, while sitting down in portable chairs and eating fluff and drinking pop.

Early this morning, before noon about, I was over in the 7th arrondissement looking for Laurel's place. It never is where it was. It keeps moving closer to the Champ de Mars, away from where I think it should be.

The door code didn't work. I can't read my own writing. Decoded, the door code clicked the door open. Into to courtyard, turn left, and find stairway 'D.' Ride the elevator to five, walk up to six, and face a maze of corridors and doors with no names. Sixth sense told me I was going wrong. I backtracked – Robert Redford never, ever backtracked – and followed a corridor right, left, ight, to a door with a sign on it and a plastic bag hanging from a knob. The treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Continued on page 2...
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