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Fumbling Around

photo, cafe le monge

Lights, warmth, full of hot café.

Bombs of the Week

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 6. December 2004:– Probably not for the first time a serious correction was made in Thursday's 'club' report concerning last week's weather. Last Monday I had just finished predicting lousy gray skies and then Tuesday pulled a fast one and was blue, sunny and blue. Not warm, but clear.

This week is an entirely different story even if it is still December and totally untrustworthy. The TV–weather news guy cooked this up but he didn't seem proud of his invention, so I don't know what it's worth. Getting the weather right here is like fumbling around with black magic. Knock on wood, here goes:

Tomorrow there will be winter fog in the morning, hiding the blue sky from our eyes. It might stay hidden all day but on the other hand it might burn off and let some sunlight in during the afternoon. The high temperature may be a low 7 degrees but is very unlikely to be anything higher.

The forecast for Wednesday calls for very blue skies. This is supposed to be that stainless–looking winter–blue. Reading between TV's lines, I suspect there may be some fluffy white clouds rolling by. With a clear sky the temperature is expected to be a chilly six degrees.

More stainless sky has been forecast for Thursday. We are supposed to be basking under a considerable high pressure thing, but as on Wednesday, there may be these little puffs of clouds, so there is something to look at if you happen look up. Six remains the temperature guess for the day. Should you want warmer, consider Corsica.

Café Life

I am coming apart at the seams. I seem to be forgetting much more than I'm remembering. I was never very organized but now the notes I write I totally forget that I've written them. I mean, I write notes because I know, I expect to forget, but where the hell are they? Do I need to write notes saying where the notes are? If these are these 'senior' moments they're lasting all week.

I was going to skip this and say there was no 'Café Life' last week. This is because I forgot that I ranphoto, cemetery bell into Matt and a couple of minutes later, Uncle Den–Den. He had won the casino at Monte Carlo or something because he invited us for a café.

Since we were hung up on the 50 centimetre– wide sidewalk in front of the Zango, getting a café was a good way to quit getting hit with shopping buggies, strollers and flailing baguettes. "The café's good here," Matt said. "Yeah," Uncle Den–Den said, "This place has good café even if it's called Zango."

If you hear this bell tolling, it's time to quit the cemetery.

Matt ordered the poor man's double espresso – a single espresso with double water. I ordered the regular big–bang double shot because Uncle Den–Den was inviting. He had a wine, because it was sometime after noon. The café is not bad in the Zango. It's the outside of the place that makes it look like a juice bar for bobos.

There is no juice bar effect inside. It looks like a dump of a Starbucks, without the cement floor. I guess it's a place one could grow to love if wearing sunglasses was a full–time habit. It takes them a long time to make an express café too, so we waited.

We were there to talk. Here, I get up and cross the room to my coat, to look at the note I wrote in the Zango. Odd. The paper is blank. I could swear I wrote a note in the Zango. I guess I must have meant to write a note in the Zango and changed my mind. I wonder what it was I was going to write?

This is not good. Matt and Uncle Den–Den have all sorts of good advice for me, for everything except writing notes. Maybe I'm not coming apart at all but I'm forgetting to even write the notes. This would explain why they're so hard to find.

All I remember is we sat there drinking café and wine for 20 minutes and talked the whole time about politics, the situation of girlfriends, cars, music, books – yeah, books. Matt always carries a book with him to read. I guess he stands in lines a lot. Maybe in the post office. It's a warm place to stand in line, and if you go there often, the same old stamps get tiresome to look at.

We left after we got tired of looking at each other and the inside of the Zango. Everybody remembered that it was an unofficial, chance meeting, and there was stuff to do. Out on the tiny sidewalk we shook hands for ten minutes, getting bumped by shopping buggies and strollers, before parting. It was a pleasant surprise to have a good conversation with friends whatever it was about.

Anyone Seen Our Bomb?

On a training exercise for sniffer dogs at Charles–de–Gaulle airport on Friday evening, gendarmes lost track of an explosive they had hidden in a passenger's baggage. Airlines, with some 80 or 90 flights departing, were alerted to be on the lookout.

The incident took place in an area accessible only to police and baggage handlers near where baggage was on conveyorphoto, jardin des plantes belts leading to different flights. During a switch from one dog to another gendarmes lost sight of the baggage in which they had placed the explosive.

In theJardin des Plantes.

According to news reports the explosive was about 150 grams of common French 'plastic.' A source claimed that the explosive was no more dangerous than 'a chocolate bar,' adding that it had no detonator. "It's totally harmless; the explosive is insensitive to shocks or fire."

The training exercise was being carried out under 'reality' conditions. The owner of the baggage was a regular passenger, and was not informed that the gendarmes had placed explosives in it. The mishap was characterized as an 'unfortunate error.'

Reports from Los Angeles indicated that authorities there searched an Air France jet making a stopover on a flight to Tahiti. Three other flights were searched at New York airports, without success.

By this evening no word had filtered back to Paris about any passenger being apprehended with the explosive in their luggage. French security officials alerted airport authorities at destinations in France, the United States, Brazil and Japan, among other countries. The Minister of the Interior was reported to be upset.

He Wants to Re–Up?

Radio France–Info's Sunday morning news led off with a story of a soldier threatening to blow up a military bomb depot at Connantray–Vaurefroy in the eastern Marne department. The Prefect of the Marne ordered the evacuation of 400 nearby residents living in the villages of Connantray, Lenharrée and Normée, all close to the depot.

According to various reports, the Prefect thought the soldier had been inside the bomb depot since Fridayphoto, ice skate, montparnasse evening, but no contact had been established. It was unknown if he was armed.

Ice rinks are open at Montparnasse, the Hôtel de Ville, and on the 1st stage of the Tour Eiffel.

All that seemed to be known is that the soldier, a non–commissioned officer, is 47 years old and is at the military's age limit and has just received his retirement orders. It was thought that he wanted to continue his career, according to a note discovered by authorities – which turned out to be a letter sent to the Minister of Defense.

Gendarmes established a zone of security around the site which is located about 30 kilometres southwest of Châlons–en–Champagne. Sunday evening TV–news added that the soldier had no phone and was communicating with written notes.

The unhappy soon–to–be ex–soldier was also reported to be an explosives expert, and sources said the bomb depot contained 63 tons of army–grade explosives and tank mines.

In the end, today, the soldier surrendered and is now in army custody. The story was featured as 'Le geste fou' on Le Parisien's pages two and three. Apparently the soldier had missed several promotions over a period of a decade. With one grade higher he would not have to retire until age 55.

Lost Anything?

Try out the new search and site map page when you get bored with this issue. The link to it can be accessed from the navigation line at the top and bottom of some pages.

Headline of the Week

Monday's Le Parisien wins again, with "4 millions de pauvres." This morning the 'Restos du Coeur' resumed winter operations. Twenty years after the emergency service was founded by the comedian Coluche, the poor are still hungry or cold.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The recent club meeting's 'The Fab Seven' club report is still hot and online, with standing room only. If the 'Group of the Week' finds its popularity growing they'll no doubt be returning for a continuation of their popular act.

The next meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on Thursday, which is on a Thursday as usual. Thephoto, grande mosque Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Pierre Fourier. This saint; born in 1565, was popular in Lorraine for setting up an interest–free loan operation, and for annoying Protestants.

Paris' Grande Mosque, near the Jardin des Plantes.

Other, somewhat humble facts about the club can be found on the 'About the Club' page. The impressionistic graphic of the virtual club membership card on this page looks better online than printed, but who cares? The club membership itself is absolutely free too, even if walking to meetings takes longer than flying.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.50 – 8. Dec 2003 – for this week the Café Metropole column began with, 'Some Bar Hopping.' A Paris Life column by Laurel Avery concerned 'The Security–Crazed Naked Airport Maze.' This issue had three Scène columns, titled 'Tourist Office To Move,' 'More Noël in Paris' and 'Scène's Eves – Christmas and New Years.' The Café Metropole Club update for 11. December was headlined as thephoto, sign, rue larrey 'Real Turtle Soup' report. There were four new 'Posters of the Week' and the caption of Ric's weekly cartoon was "Just taste it!"

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.50 – 9. Dec 2002 – this issue's Café Metropole column led off with 'A Small Issue, For a Change.' For doubters Jim Auman wrote about 'exceptions,' with "Tout à Bas!" Wine News followed with 'Metropole's Wine Visits Las Vegas.' The first Scène column was titled 'New Stuff, Current Stuff and 'Last Chance' Stuff.' The other Scène column dealt with 'Noël 2002 – More or Less.' The Café Metropole Club update for 12. December resulted in the 'Dennis' Toy Show and Swing Club' report. There were four regular Paris type 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's Cartoon of the Week was captioned, 'Your Red Suit.'

'Countdowns' Move Over

The ancient feature 'Quote of the Week' is back again for the sixth time in modern history. Here's a dilly – "Ooh, with a little luck – December will be magic again." This is attributed to Kate Bush, who I don't believe is any relation.photo, sign, rue de la clef

The Only Real, Urgent, Actual, 'Countdown'

A month ago, about, writing from then snow–bound New Jersey Jim Auman wrote, "The local weekly French newspaper announced the upcoming 100th anniversary of the death of Jules Verne. A trip to the Encyclopedia Britannica revealed that Monsieur Verne died on March 24, 1905 – not exactly a close, upcoming event."

Possibly not for New Jersey, no longer snowbound, but for Paris this major anniversary is still a mere 109 days from now.

One Famous Anniversary Today Is Enough

On this, no longer Albania'sphoto, xmas bunny of the week National Day, it is with great pleasure that I announce the anniversary of the death of Saint–Nicolas of Myra. He lived in the 4th century in Byzantine Anatolia and had a reputation for secret gift–giving. This is the day of his feast, except in Holland, where it was yesterday. It is called Sinterklaasavond there, or St. Nicholas' Eve. He is also known as a guy who did miracles. He is supposed to be confused with Nicholas of Sion, who came along later.

The cute Christmas 'Bunny of the Week' again.

In the Anglo world, 'Sinterklaas' got mangled into 'Santa Claus.' Martin Luther didn't care for this Nicolas on account of being a saint, so he invented a 'Christkind' party for Christmas Eve. Some Protestants celebrate Saint–Nicolas, especially in Holland, but many more Catholics have adopted Luther's fête.

Today's Other Extra 'Significant Dates of the Week'

There are only 24 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1778 when Joseph–Louis Gay–Lussac was born. He is famous for 'Charles's Law, about gas expanding. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 341 days, the same number that 1805 had when the magician Jean Eugène Robert– Houdin was born in Blois. Harry Houdini borrowed Houdin's name because Houdin was 'the father of modern magic,' but Harry changed his mind.
signature, regards, ric

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