Sunday, May 29, 2005

Barbecue with friends...

Another absolutely beautiful day!

Spent most of the day going back and forth to the DIY store (Leroy Merlin) for a damn toilet seat. The first one was broke when I got it home, went back to return it and the second one had the wrong screws. Went back and returned it and this time opened the box before I left the store...

Put up some very nice white shelves in our new basement staircase alcove just to be able to say I had done something today. Desney has repainted the entire staircase alcove in yellow, white and grey including the floors and it's looking great.

We had a couple of friends (David and Sasha) over for dinner and Jessica invited her friend Mercedes as well. For what is probably the first time Desney was the minority nationality at table as David, Sasha and Mercedes are all American, Jessica and Alexandra are half-American and I am an ex-American looking for any other nationality... especially French.

The meal went well, albeit a bit tricky as Sasha is a vegetarian who luckily eats fish, and the wine went well (Pol Roger Champagne, Fleurie Clos des Dîmes 2002 from Maison de Fleurie and a Moulin à Vent 2000 from them for the cheese). The barbecue was great and the smoke was just about bearable. Desney had made a raspberry mousse which finished everything off nicely.

We finally retired to the living room to talk after the meal... and talk we did! At about 2:30 in the morning, with Desney slowly passing out in one of the chairs and desperately trying to politely stay awake and coherent, we called them a taxi and off they went home to sleep as only single couples with no kids can.

At about 3 in the morning the two of us basically passed out full of food, wine and conversation...

Friday, May 27, 2005

A Hot Friday Night

Just got back after another 3 days in London. A few very long working days...

Spent the day going through mail and office stuff as usual. Of course the phone wouldn't stop ringing...

I was about 18 or 19 degrees when I left London. Today it's almost 30 out! The sun is shining bright and it's a hot and steamy Friday afternoon here.

Our DVD of The Incredibles arrived in the post this afternoon and that's what we spent the evening watching. Pizza thanks to Pizza Hut and a lovely Beaujolais (Régnié) thanks to the Domaine des Côtes des Charmes rounded out the evening just right.

Giggles in front of the new big flat TV and off to bed...

Life is tough!


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Star Wars III

Another long Wednesday...

First I brought Alex to Jess' school to pick up the yearbook ready to go to the printer. Of course they had last minute changes they had not finished yet. We then rushed and picked up Kathleen and took the yearbook to the printer. At the printer's we realised the kids had not put page numbers in so we added those by hand, redid the Table of Contents and added some parents' names they had forgotten on the Thank You page. This all took so long that we missed Alex' doctor appointment.

Lunch back in Asnières at our favourite café (Le Cercle) and off to Alex' English class. The weather was so nice they had their class outside while I walked around Asnères for an hour.

Picked up Alex and we rushed off to the opening of Star Wars III. Of course fate was not on our side and we got stuck in a massive traffic jam due to construction work being done around the cinema. I dropped Alex off at the cinema and went desperately looking for parking thinking we were going to miss the show and have to go elsewhere. Luckily I found a spot not far from the cinema and after about a half hour of advertisements and previews we finally saw the movie.

The movie was just what it was supposed to be. Amazing special effects, mediocre acting from most and absolutely awful acting by Hayden Christensen (again). Most of the story was well written and developed with, however, some incredibly cliché scenes with amazingly stilted dialogue. Lucas can not write love scenes. Overall another great story and a powerful film which mostly shows just what we can do with technology these days... the computer animation (CGI) guys had a field day with this one!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

My last prom?

It's prom time again at Jess' school. I helped around with whatever I could in the afternoon and set up my now traditional photo booth.

Just prior to the afternoon I rushed out and bought myself a new Photo Printer which was much, much easier to carry around, slightly faster (1 minute per photo) and serves as both the memory card reader and printer in one. It will go very well in our living room with the rest of the new home media centre...

The doors opened at 19:00 and they were very, very slow to get started this year. The kids seemed to take a very long time to get in to the party mood and the DJ playing 70s and 80s tunes (Kool & The Gang, Saturday Night Fever, Marvin Gaye, Jackson 5, KC & The Sunshine Band), which I quite like in other circumstances, certainly was not helping.

However all of a sudden it burst in to party mode and there were 250 kids dancing their hearts out and a combination of a DJ, a live rock band made up of a group of graduating students who played about 4 songs and a couple of rappers who performed a couple of songs.

The photo booth suddenly exploded and everyone wanted their picture taken. This year's theme was Hollywood and Cannes and we had a pseydo-Oscar ceremony backdrop. It was a lot of fun. However it became obvious quickly that I wasn't going to have time to shoot all the photos, crop and retouch them (red eyes all over the place) and print them out (1 minute per photo) if I kept taking pictures too late. To the great chagrin of quite a lot rapidly becoming obnoxious teenagers we stopped shooting pictures at about 21:45 and I spent the rest of the night retouching and cropping and printing non-stop like a machine.

The prom ended at midnight as planned. However we ended the night with everyone having put everything away and a group of partygoers staring at my printer as it was slowly but surely still cranking out photos until 1:00 in the morning. It was quite frustrating.

As the editor of the yearbook had to hang around until I was completely finished so I could give her a CD-ROM with all of the photos on it she missed the last métro home. I therefore drove her and a couple of her friends home at 1:00 in the morning and was quite astonished, impressed and pleased to see so many people hanging out in the streets and partying on a Saturday night. It's amazing the effect warm weather can have on Parisians... it's been a long time since I was out so late... it felt great.

This is probably my last prom as a participating parent in the "main room" as this is Jessica's last year in collège (Junior High School) and next year she too will be a Lycée (Hight School) student and it will be her prom as well. At our school all of Lycée goes to the prom every year so Lycée students get 3 proms! Generally a parent of a Lycée student is not allowed in the main room with the other Lycée students during the prom party.

I might pull rank if I'm still the President of the Parents' Association... but I doubt it.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Food Force

I read an article about this in 20 Minutes and thought it looked great.

An entirely FREE computer game produced by the United Nations to show people what it's like trying to get food and supplies to poor countries.

The game is a huge download at about 270 MB but entirely free and so far it works great.

Run to Food Force and check it out!

It happens to the best of us...

I had to turn off Norton Internet Security for about 2 minutes this afternoon for a programming problem.

That's all the time it took.

Next thing I know I'm hit with the Cool Web Search adware virus and the Home Search Assistant adware program.

I spent most of the rest of the afternoon and evening cleaning it off of my main computer.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A step in to the XXIst century

Jessica went shopping with Desney today and, of course, lost her mobile phone again. Yes... you heard that right... less than 3 months later she has lost it again.

I therefore had to cancel her phone line and then I had to take her to the FNAC today to get a new one. Nuance: This time she is paying for half of the phone. She got the Nokia 2650 because she absolutely had to have a flip-up phone. We'll see how long this lasts...

While we were there I finally made the great leap and bought an LCD television. Working out the credit options, the technical options and having already worked it out as a client's purchase I got the Samsung 32" LCD TV.

We got the TV home. First I had to do some more fixing up at home and get Alex' bed back together. Then, just after dinner, I was able to unplug the old TV and plug in the new one. It is much bigger than the previous television, it's 16/9 in comparison to the previous 4:3 ratio, and - of course - it's a flat-screen LCD television with amazingly crisp quality. The main pleasure for me, however, came when I plugged my laptop computer in to it and was able to surf the Internet on the big screen... more on that to come...

I've put our old TV on sale on eBay.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A real day off

Today was a holiday in France and the kids are already on a 2-week holiday and Desney has taken this week off (mostly to work on the house).

We therefore decided to jump in the car and get out of town and get outside. Last night we argued back and forth for a long time to decide between Rambouillet with it's forest and farm or Fontainebleau with it's castle and forest.

In the end we chose Fontainebleau. We were very lucky with the whole day. Although we left a bit late, and it was of course a holiday, there was no traffic on the roads and we were at the Fontainebleau tourist office within an hour. We then went to the castle and walked through their museum for a couple of hours. Lunch in a tourist café was disappointing. Back to the tourist office for information as regards the forest and we found out about a sentier balisé which goes in a loop through the forest and rocks. A 5-minute drive later and we were at the entrance to the sentier and spent about an hour and a half walking up and down and up and down through the rocks and trees with beautiful weather above us. A great time was had by all...

Back to the car and back to home, again really lucky with the traffic, and back to our habits and chores.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

First barbecue of the year

Weather's beautiful and we finally had our first barbecue of the year.

Actually it was our second barbecue as we had a sort of test barbecue the day before.
We invited Maija, Vincent and their family over for a very informal barbecue. Maija showed up looking impeccable and dressed beautifully, Vincent was casual and the kids were dressed as kids. They were invited 'round for 19:00... at about 19:15 I started cooking the appetizer sausages and at 19:30 we started eating them. At 19:40 I called them to find out where they were and they showed up 5 minutes later...

The barbecue was very good with lots of different meats (lamb, sausages, rabbit and chicken) and Desney did some great summer salads (potato salad / tomato and basil salad) and the kids had crisps and coke of course.

The wine was just our daily Beaujolais (Fleurie - Clos de la Dîme 2002) as it is impossible to get a wine to go with all of the various barbecue sauces. It went down well but perhaps was not special enough for our guests. I therefore took Vincent down to the cellar and we cracked open a Burgundy (Pommard - Les Bertins Permier Cru 1998) to have with the cheese. I quickly decnated it as it had been in the wine storage fridge and it went down well. Pale colouring but an amazing nose. Unfortunately you can't drink the nose and the mouth faded away quickly. Still quite delicious.

Dessert was some vanilla ice cream I had made in the afternoon along with some fresh strawberries and mangos. They didn't hang out for coffee as they left around midnight wanting to get the kids home.

First big day out in the garden

Basically spent all afternoon mowing the lawn, then raking the lawn, then scarifying (ploughing) the lawn and then aerating the lawn with those special long-cleated shoes.

Ready for planting...

I am now one of the few computer programmers out there with blisters around the base of his thumbs from the damn mower, rake and plough!