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The Big Mooo

photo, champion charolaise, cow

Blondes have more fun!

Metropole's Pause

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 7. March 2005:– After a bit of blue sky yesterday a bunch of familiar clouds have floated over our heads. The temperature is up a bit, perhaps hitting 5 degrees. It feels less cold but maybe the wind is less and it's all perception, or lack of it.

For the next three days western France will be blessed with some clouds and some sunny periods, and the daytime highs in Paris should be about 7 degrees.

Details don't vary much, but for here the small detail of where the crummy weather begins – to the east of Paris, or over the city – seems to be the sole variation that we can expect.

Tonight little pin–needlesphoto, pont des arts have softened into little drops of rain. The low later on will be 3 degrees and Tuesday's outlook will be decided by where the clouds are – most likely, further east. Wednesday might have the best weather of the week, but it will only be half– decent.

The way home last Thursday.

Thursday looks like it may be either 'half' or wholly overcast. Snow or sleet has been forecast by tonight's TV–weather news, but otherwise it may be half–sunny part of the time.

Frankly the base condition seems to be stagnation. Winter is just sitting here long after its welcome has worn out. There are 13 short–type days to go until spring's official arrival. Only 13.

Café Life

Metropole's Pause

Continuously published on an almost–weekly schedule for 9 years, Metropole is going to slow down for a few weeks. While this should be a pause for refreshment, it will instead enable me to create some new editorial products.

Nine years of production has engendered habits that are almost automatic. When a block of time for developmentphoto, rouge des pres, cow has been set aside it advances nothing if the 'posters of the week' are calling. Keeping up with 'news' is distracting when a long session of editing or graphics work is on the agenda.

Cows have holidays but not 'Ed.'

'Ed' will still be here to reply to your emails, and the Café Metropole Club's 'secretary' will continue to appear at the meetings and compose the club 'reports' following them. So, you are invited to write to 'Ed.' And all new and existing members will be welcome at club meetings as usual.

Keep an eye open for updates to this 'Café' column. Should some startling event happen, you may read about it here.

The Big Mooo

Down at the Porte de Versailles every year at this time, the beautiful cow show put on by France Farms Corp. attracted its usual mobs of Parisians eager to see their food living and on the hoof.

Cruel as it may seem, the French display honest affection for what they may soon eat. Show them a perfect example of a 'Blonde d'Aquitaine,' and they will pat its glossy hide as they mentally cut it up into steaks and roasts. Even little kids do not show the least sign of fear beside one of these 1200 kilo beasts.

Whether cows or steers, the animals act as if they are house pets. Constantly fed the best France can offer – watered, washed, waved, brushed and cosseted in mounds of fresh hay, these are the monarchs of edible animaldom. How fine to be warm in Paris rather than roughing it in some draughty barn!

In short, they looked tasty. I felt like Little Orphan Annie's fox of a grandmother. I looked into glossyphoto, charolaise, judging, cows eyes that weren't looking at much, calmly. How trusting! Even being led from bed of hay to the showring, they seemed to say, "Lead me to the butcher if you will."

Small folks judging the Charolaise.

I saw a sign indicating the biggest steer of the show that said 1450 kilos. But in the paper it says this was Pedro, a Charolaise weighing 1620 kilos. It must have been out at the weighing station when I passed. With 4000 animals it wouldn't have been hard to miss even an outstanding specimen.

Food items, both on the hoof and in the pot, won 3000 prizes. And yesterday, which was the last this year, there were bargains to be had – although I doubt many Parisians walked out towing a beef.

Pedro's owner said that as soon as the doors were closed all he had to do was convince his five cows to get in the truck for the ride home to the farm. Obviously French farmers have more than pickups, because Pedro outweighed the average small car.

Strikes of the Week

On Tuesday students are going to be demonstrating against the government's 'reform' plans and they'll be trying to break their score the last time they hit the streets. Shop workers may be on the march too, demanding salary hikes with '1400 euros pour tous.'

Wednesday is the day researchers have chosen to let the government know how dissatisfied they are with its plans for the future of research in France.

Thursday will be the high point of this labor intensive week when just about everybody else will take to the streets to protest against the government's 'reform' plans for the future of the '35–hour work week.' Other targets of concern are the 10 percent unemployment rate and the extraordinary profits recently announced by several large companies.

While all public and private workers have been invited to the party, you may notice that members of five unions are on strike at SNCF, and two other unions have walked off the job at the RATP. Interruptions to public transport will last from 21:00 on Wednesday until 9:00 on Friday.

If you are enjoying walking around you may also notice that some bank employees are striking, some teachers, the EDF electricity people, various civil servants, La Poste, and France Télécom employees.

Finally, if you are feeling depressed and lonely, Thursday's hyper–major march is scheduled to start at the Place d'Italie at 14:00. If you see a huge banner with the slogan 'Augmenter les salaries, pas les horaires,' then you'll know you're in the right place.

Headline of the Week

The hyper–headline of the week from Le Parisien on Friday moaned, 'Et ça va durer...' mentioning the energy, transport, building and agriculture sectors as suffering particularly from the cold, when many Parisians probably thought it was themselves. The problem, said the paper, is that the difficult météo conditions are persisting. This overlooks the real problem – it is cold and miserable. The good news is that winter is over in two weeks, calendarwise.

The Latest Café Metropole Club 'Report'

The last club meeting's 'Snowman of the Week' club report is less real than it sounds because the meeting really had no snowman other than the photo of one sent in by Linda Thalman. In principle there is never enough snow in Paris to makephoto, frying pan, cantal region a snowman, but out on the exposed plains of Essonne General Winter has more space for his white troops. Leaving the club via the Pont des Arts, the dusting was drifting around just like on the steppes of Siberia. Brrrr.

Cantal region's big pan for big appetites.

The coming Thursday meeting of the Café Metropole Club will be on a Thursday again. The Saint's 'Day of the Week' will be Saint–Vivian. This 'Saint of the Day' was a Roman soldier who was thrown into a freezing lake in Cappadoce, without a bathing suit. This happened in 320, and the same fate befell 39 close friends, none of whom became saints.

Some largely true facts about the club are available on the 'About the Club' page. The edgy design of the extra formal club membership card on this page looks as much like a membership card as any other scrap of paper, but it isn't. It is enough to be virtual, while the club membership itself is real and free too, which can be proved in Paris.

Telephone Submarines

For the third time, this is not about some old saint. It was on this day in 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell received his first patent for the telephone. Exactly 50 years later the first trans–Atlanticphoto, sign, caramels d'isigny telephone conversation took place between New York and London. If it was like typical mobile conversations of today, it probably went like this – "It's raining here, how is it there?" crackle–pop–fiss "Oh, it's raining there too." "Pick up a pepperoni pizza on the way home."

Club member, Jules Verne fan and New Jersey snow expert, Jim Auman has emailed new news about 'Télécom boats'. "Captain, the good news is that we're only a mile from land. The bad news is that it's straight down." Otherwise, the exhibition, 'Le Roman de la Mer' – aka '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,' is at the heart of a really big show beginning on Wednesday, 9. March at the Musée de la Marine. The 100th anniversary of Jules Verne's death, on 24. March 1905, is a mere 17 days from now.

Today is also the 130th birthday of Maurice Ravel. This Frenchman is well–known as the composer of the ever–popular 'Bolero,' the 'Mother Goose' suite' and 'Scheherazade.' In 1905 a musical jury ruled him ineligible in a preliminary contest, designed especially to eliminate obvious nit–wits. Maurice went on to produce gems such as 'Alborada del Gracioso,' 'Rhapsodie Espagnole' and 'La Valse.'

Therefore we'll take today's 'Quote of the Week' from him too. "Of course, if I ever did a perfect piece of work I would stop composing immediately." Ravel died on 28. December 1937.

A Word of the Week

On this date in 1874 the préfet de la Seine, Eugène René Poubelle, decreed that Parisians had to use garbage cans with lids. These so delighted residents of the city, tired of the traditional stink since the Middle Ages, that the garbage cans were named after their inventor, Poubelle.'

Interesting Anniversary of Note

photo, sign, concours espece bovine, 1er prix, 2005This date, in 1524, is memorable on account of the arrival of Giovanni da Verrazano off the coast of South Carolina. Seeking the Northwest Passage, on reaching the Hudson River he immediately named the area, 'Terre d'Angoulême.' A bit further north, he decided to name the mouth of the St Lawrence River, 'Nova Gallia.' Verrazano was a Florentine, working for France's king, François 1er. Verrazano was later eaten by cannibals.

Today's Other 'Notable Dates of the Week'

There are only 299 days left of this year. This is exactly the same number of 'days left,' as at this time in 1933 when the name of 'Monopoly' was registered for a game. This is completely unconnected to the fact that this year has used up 66 days, the same number that 1966 had when General De Gaulle officially announced that France was to withdraw from the military structure of NATO, and US bases in France were invited to leave.
signature, regards, ric

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