Monsieur Ferrat's Bird Problem

photo, sandra, steve, group of the week Sandra and Steve, out of the rain.

On Another Blowy, Gloomy Day

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Thursday, 16. August:–  The weather is getting worse and worse and the TV–weather news is becoming less and less, with just a forecast for tomorrow, and then I had to go online and check out all these dubious weather sources. Well, maybe Météo France isn't so dubious. But if it's free can it be any good?

Last week's big spin around the low that was pushing the clouds here from the Alps seems to have spun itself out. Now we have the standard blast from the south–southwest, which means waves of clouds and rain washing across Paris like a big windshieldwiper. Whish, whish, flip flop, drip, drop, splish splash in the inky puddles. It's getting so that a mini umbrella is an extension of your hand.

The result is that I am not only displeased with the weather but also with those fine folks at France–2 TV–news that are responsible for it. Yes. It is they who are providing this lousy March we are having. Shame! Shame on them.

photo, hard rain on thursday Rain caught me here.

Tomorrow there will be murky skies in Alsace and a new wave will be pushing at Brittany's nose. For a slight time, from maybe 10:48 until 15:03 it might be semi–sunny around here. Fine–tune this by giving or taking, or plain losing, plus–minus three hours. If the temperature department ever turns on, it will produce 21 degrees.

The official word for Saturday could lead us to expect more sunshine than clouds. I guess that means with clouds and sunshine. If you sleep until noon you might miss the sunshine part. Expect also, if you will, temperatures to touch 21 degrees, slightly cooled by 20 km breezes from the south. Sunday should be exactly the same, temperature, breezes, but instead of more sunshine than clouds, we are to get all clouds with rain falling from them. If you can find a heated church, they are often dry.

Somewhere In Pommeland

Tropical Storm Erin is threatening to drown a rain drenched Texas with even more liquid sunshine. And even as the summer passeth, Mr. and Mrs. Météo Jim will take their annual sojourn away from Pommeland. They have turned down an attractive vacation deal in Upper Major Hoochikoochistan at the country's outstanding 5 star hotel – in that country, equal to about one birthday candle – with a stunning view of Les Dentsd'unevache Mountain Range, visible at least 6 days of the year. Instead, they are going to the country of the tall, pointed firs to attend a long planned meeting of short sighted and narrow minded people. Thrills await. As for the stuff that goes on in the sky and sometimes falls to earth, a cool front will visit Pommeland and bestow the land with temperatures in the upper 70s a–grad for the weekend. It will depart, as cool fronts must, and be replaced by warmer and muggier fronts.

A la prochaine, someday, Météo Jim

The Monsieur Ferrat's Bird Problem Report

You can tell it is August because yesterday we had an obscure holiday called Assomption. It is a national holiday that many folks ignore because they are on holidays. Shops that are closed are closed for holidays, not necessarily for Assomption. It's hard to tell the difference. In summer some shops are closed because they've gone out of business, or a new business hasn't moved in yet. A lot of other folks also spend their holidays moving house. For the rest of the year these folks can be pretty grumpy.

photo, beer of the week Good Beer of the Week.

But really, Assomption marks the end of total holidays – the dead–low period when the most folks are away somewhere lolling around in oyster restaurants drinking pink wines or sloshing around in gumboots on wet sand with their faces into that southwest wind, with their hands deep in their pockets. France's only happy camper was the president, Nicolas Sarkozy. He went to America and had lunch with the George Bushes and harassed the hardworking paparazzis.

As far as I know the patron is back. Residents got their tax returns recently, and today's Le Parisien explained why some will be paying less than anticipated and why some will be paying a whopping lot more than campaign promises led them to expect. Of course many taxpayers are still away on holidays – which means that the paper might have spoiled the good feelings folks were getting from those all–oyster lunches.

Well, the patron is the boss, and he changed the tax return from happening before the holidays, to during. Add the rotten weather, the overfilled campsites, the ripoff prices on the Riviera, the skyhigh numbers they are putting on fresh fruit and veggies, and the passing of the minimum service law for transport workers – well, France is going to be an interesting country this coming fall.

photo, wine of the weekGood Wine of the Week.

Meanwhile, at the club today, where I arrived after taking some photos of chaotic skies filled with heavenly drama, I read today's paper and found little cheer in it. Vergogna a certi. However, somehow, I should be more positive. For those who breathe, air quality in Paris is excellent.

And if you are paying attention you will be aware that it is Elvis' birthday today. Or is it some other anniversary concerning Elvis? I found this – "To the world parade of pilgrimage destinations, Graceland has a good position between Disneyland and Lourdes."

I got to the end of the paper and was idly sliding my eyes over the TV listings – G.I. Blues on Arte tonight – when a pair of folks showed up, expressing a desire to join the club.

Our mutual greetings were somewhat lumpy on account of a wild sparrow – no relation to Willy the Bird I am certain – who refused to leave the café. Monsieur Ferrat was extremely annoyed and was waving a glass towel at the interloper, who would merely fly to another of the hanging lampshades – and fly blithely past the open door. And back again, when M. Ferrat went over there.

photo, chaotic sky of  the week Real chaotic Sky of the Week.

The two new club members were Sandra Herrington and Steve Volaric, and they called Ewing, New Jersey home. That could have been good enough for a City of the Week – had I felt like looking it up to make sure it hasn't been already – but Steve said he grew up in Hollywood, Florida. This is a Hollywood that is nothing like the Hollywood in California but it is Hollywood, real enough, and now an exclusive club City of the Week.

Sandra and Steve have been spending a week in Paris, seeing all the sights. Like the 20th arrondissement, and trying out the city's new Velib' bike deal. They came with five or six plastic cards and one of them worked, so it is not completely true that American visitors cannot ride the bikes.

Another Paris sight they saw was Brussels, where they went for a day because Steve wanted to have a good beer. While there they dropped into the comics museum, and they said it was well worth a visit. Check out the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée if you are up there to have a decent beer.

photo, sack of the week Steve's Bag of the Week.

Steve said he worked in acoustics. He makes sure new buildings that have built–in speakers sound good. With digital solid–state all sorts of new things are happening with sounds, from iPods to home cinema systems, digital music and its hardware and software – Garageband in every Mac! – and every portable phone full of iTunes and uTube video clips. Except for Digital Rights Management, it's a wonderful new world.

So we talked about that. I mean I asked questions about it. What sort of a–v ampli should I get to go with my planned 98–inch widescreen LCD TV? Did he think one with 250 horsepower and 9.1 channels would be enough for a 15 square metre home cinema. Yes, I know. I need to get some of that sealant gunk for windows and put it on my walls because they are made out of thin cheese and my neighbor's snoring might disturb my appreciation of the audio effects in Doctor Strangelove.

Then Sandra said I should see Steve's bag. And I'm glad they remembered because it was a beauty. Hand–crafted of recycled conveyor belts and sporting wide straps made of organic hemp. It appeared to be sturdy, colorful and exotic all at once – totally unlike most of the monotone hightech stuff made these days in China.

photo, paris plage on thursday Bad Hair Day for Paris–Plage.

And while out in east Paris they dropped in to the Fleche d'Or café and nightclub. I had forgotten about it. It's club in an old train station on the abandoned Petite Ceinture line and it sits right over the tracks. Has live Indie rock if you care for that sort of thing, and some folks do.

It was after 17:00 and pouring rain when we went out to the café's terrace for the Group Photo of the Week. It's getting tropical here. It rains, really wet, for about ten minutes and then it stops and dries out. Then it rains again. Maybe it's like Hollywood in the 40s. Willy the Bird, it must be him, was still flying around. Monsieur Ferrat was very annoyed with him.

News You Can Always Use

WiFi For Email Addicts

Cyber cafés may be a bit thin on the ground in Paris but the city has begun offering free access to the Net via the magic of WiFi. This note has been here so long that it's turned into blah–blah. Just remember, although this WiFi is free, you do have to supply your own computer.

Soldes d'Eté Over Forever

The annual summer sales in Paris continued until they ended on 4. August, a Saturday. Unless you want to plan for 2008 you can forget this now and resume your life.

About the Café Metropole Club

Treat your mouse to a club meeting report buried fathomless in the deep archive of the Internet. Speed–skimming long semi–boring reports is faster than being at tiresome club meetings but only provides a smidgen of the real goods. An explanation for what we are doing here may be unconvincing but can be found on the dubiously named About the Café Metropole Club webpage.

graphic, club location map

Speedy Written Gobble Turkey

Nearly spontaneous as ever, half unrehearsed, semi out of control and again less than three members. Club meetings are actually from 15:00 to 17:00 every Thursday. The next meeting will be on Thursday, 23. August. These times are not virtual but are the same as from 3 pm to 5 pm around some other places, while meetings are held around here. Whatever you feel like saying will be completely appreciated by the other members present if they are here and listening, and sometimes they are, but not always.* Your other, absolutely true, stories are all welcome too. Members like jokes if they are funny.

Caution – should you have a personal desire to remain unfindable via the Web, be sure to inform the club's secretary that you prefer to be 404 – not found by Web search engines before becoming found. To stay unfound refuse membership.

*The above paragraphs are relatively unchanged since last week because the Paris Velib' bikes are about the same color as recycled hemp.

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.
Next club meeting on Thursday, 23. August.

A bientôt à Paris
signature, regards, ric

Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
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