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Labor day weekend: Juggling, bohnanza, reading

Juggling on the diag was fun today. Afterwards we ate at Seva, then went to Fred and Deana's to play Bohnanza.

Bohnanza is a fairly simple game that involves trading cards with different bean varieties, which you try to collect into a limited number of sets. So without the trading it might sound a little like a very weird version of rummy. There was enough strategy to give you plenty to think about, enough chance to give everyone a chance, and it didn't take forever to explain the rules. I liked it.

Sunday and Monday I mostly stayed in, read a bit, and rested.

Foobar

Wednesday night was Jefferson Market's 5th anniversary party, so I met Sara there. The block of Jefferson street was closed off and they'd set up tables and a state. It was nice out, Foobar was playing, there was lemonade and cake and kids were playing. We stayed longer than intended and I had too many sweet potato fries.

Thursday I picked up my copy of "The Plot Against America". So far I have low expectations for it.

Reading

My hold came in, so Monday after work I went to the library to pick up the latest Harry Potter, as well as some guidebooks to Hawaii for Sara.

I've missed my usual science-fiction/fantasy book group the last two months, so I'm hoping to go to the September meeting. The book is "The Plot Against America", which is also being held at the library for me now, but I haven't had the chance to pick it up yet.

I'm also in the middle of "L'Exil d'Hortense" and "Mathématique:", by Jacques Roubaud, and "La Girafe", by Marie Nimier. And have a half-dozen other books lying at my bedside that I started and may have to give up on at some point.

I have this fear that if I added up all the books in the apartment that I haven't finished yet, I'd discover that there was more than I could read in one lifetime.

Last night I ignored all of them and just reread some "Monsieur Jean" comics.

Zatoichi, more sniffling

Last night we saw Takeshi Kitano's 2003 "Zatoichi". Swordfights! Tap-dancing peasants! Spurting blood! Ninjas! It was quite unlike anything else I've seen, and plenty of fun.

My cold was more annoying today, but I went to juggling and had some soup at Cottage Inn afterwards.

sniffling

I'm still sniffling and coughing a bit, but otherwise I feel back to normal.

Last night I took the bus to Busch's, got a bunch of groceries, and walked home, which gave me another occasion to be happy with the new music player--it gives me something to distract me from the heavy backpack on the walk back.

My only complaint about the gadget: half a gig of memory doesn't seem like much. But probably I'd only be satisfied by something that would hold my whole CD collection, and at that point I'd need a big hard drive and it wouldn't be so convenient any more.

Dosas

I did a half-day Friday, then stayed home Friday night and Saturday.

Sunday we went to a party at the house of one of Sara's coworkers. I wasn't feeling terribly social. But there were home-made Dosas. Yum! It didn't seem terrifically hard, but it did require at least some special machinery to make the flour. So I don't think we'll be trying it any time soon.

Catching a cold

Sometime during the trip home or the last days in Paris I managed to catch some kind of cold, but it didn't really hit me till yesterday. I did a half-day's work Tuesday and went to juggling that night, and did a full day yesterday. But by the end of the day I was feeling pretty crummy.

So today I'm staying home, doing some work and resting.

Monday: flying home

I woke up early and took the metro to the RER to Charles de Gaulle. I forgot to get the right kind of ticket, so had to pay a fine to exit the RER at Charles de Gaulle. Oh well, live and learn--25 Euros was more than I wanted to pay, but not a disaster.

I hadn't taped up the box I intended to check, so had to ask for help at checkin. Their tape was not very sticky or strong, so I had to use up some significant portion of a roll before the person at the counter was satisfied.

My flights both did appear to be running as normal despite some sort of ongoing labor dispute, but they didn't have any catering at all, so they gave me a food voucher and I had a fairly nice ham sandwich before boarding.

I was hoping to do the same at Heathrow, but the flight there arrived a little late, and the airport was full of British Airways passengers trying to buy sandwiches. Fortunately there were people at the gate handing out bags of snacks for us to carry on. I took a couple. That got me some fruit, a couple bags of chips, a candy bar or two, and some cookies--not what I'd hoped for, but enough to keep the hunger pangs away for the 8-hour flight back to Detroit.

On the flight back I read some more and watched "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" (which I was kind of disappointed by--there just didn't seem to be much to it), and parts of a couple other movies.

I arrived tired but happy to be home. I like Paris a lot, but it's always a little stressful being in a foreign country when you don't know anyone, and it was nice to be back in my own apartment and to see Sara again.

I also like the being-in-a-different-place part of travelling a lot more than the actual travelling part. I think my ideal way of travelling would be just to move someplace different every now and then.

Sunday: last day in Paris

I got an early start thanks to an ear-splitting fire alarm at the youth hostel that they couldn't figure out how to turn off.

As a result I found myself downtown before much was open. So I sat in the park by Les Halles and read the newspaper.

At 11 I went back to the Pompidou center and went through their "d-day" exhibit on modern design. It was full of silly and interesting things. My personal favorite was a short film demonstrating a tray that included all the props necessary to play along with Jean-Paul Belmondo in "A Bout de Souffle" while eating your dinner.

I had a baguette sandwich for lunch while sitting next to a nearby fountain, and then checked my email and tried to figure out the status of the next day's flight--which there was some question about, thanks to some sort of strike at British Airways.

That done, I wandered up and down the Champs Élysée a bit, ate a crêpe from a street vendor (yum! I should have tried that before), then took the metro back to Clichy to do my laundry and pack.

Saturday, Aug. 13: Jardin du Luxembourg, Notre Dame

On the advice of a friendly hostel roommate, I started out the morning at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

The gardens there are nice, but I was mainly impressed by how heavily people use the place. There were people having coffee, reading the morning newspaper, playing chess, playing tennis, walking, and watching everyone else do the above stuff. Kids were playing on the play equipment and floating toy sailboats.

Not wanting to feel left out, I grabbed a free chair and read the first six chapters of "L'Exil d'Hortense" while finishing my leftovers from last night.

In the afternoon I did a little more book shopping, and a lot more walking. I ran into a square that later turned out to be Place des Vosges. An accordeonist at one of the entries was doing some suprisingly good Vivaldi.

I wonder if that isn't the best way to see Paris--walk wherever you feel like, stop wherever you get hungry (it's not as if there's a shortage of good food), and look up the sights later if you're curious what you saw. It's just such a nice place to walk.

I had some dinner at the same restaurant I had lunch in Wednesday, then walked to Notre Dame for the evening concert. It was a concert of gregorian chant and organ music. The organ music was really wild, lots of very loud dissonant stuff, and I loved it. How do organists get away with it?

After the concert I went back to the comic book store off the Place de la Bastille in hopes that they would have a cardboard box of the right size--I wasn't sure the books I'd bought would fit in my backpack any more. Sure enough, they came through. It was also one of the more succesful exchanges I'd managed to have completely in French. Maybe there's some hope for my spoken French....

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