Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Which Trojan-war era woman are you?

Penelope -- The long-suffering wife of Odysseus. She was awarded to Odysseus by her uncle for the Ithacans idea of the Oath of Tyndareus. While Odysseus was at war, many suitors wished to marry Queen Penelope. She kept them at bay by saying she would choose one after she finished weaving the Shroud of Laertes. Each day she wove the shroud, and each night she unraveled it. After twenty years, Odysseus returned to Ithaca in disguise to protect himself from the suitors, who had since realized Penelopes trick. Penelope presented his old bow to the suitors, telling them she would marry the man who could bend it. When only Odysseus himself succeeded, she knew her husband had returned. After his death, Penelope was made immortal by Circe and sent to the Islands of the Blest.

You can take the test here

Monday, August 29, 2005

Randomness #1

God, I hate AZERTY keyboards!!!!!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Madness I tell ya…

You know how it is... When you have to travel far enough, you usually have to get up at dawn (or even earlier) to avoid traffic, queues and other nuisances to a nice relaxing trip. As for every time I go home to France, the 6:40am or the 7:10am flights from Dublin Airport to Paris are a must if I wish to arrive home before the following day.

Now, I am VERY weary of early morning flights. I am weary of early morning anything, as a matter of fact. Not only because I usually sleep like a log and have been known to sleep through 3 screeching alarms, small earthquakes and my father’s chronic snoring but also because I don’t operate very well on little sleep. Sleeping too much (as if there was such a thing) and sleep deprivation, I can cope with but 2-4 hours a night is my idea of Hell. Maybe one day I have nothing to say I’ll tell you all the great story of why I have “I’m going to miss my plane and have an aneurysm at 27” nightmares. Yes, the other half is to blame for that one. They never tell you other halves can sometimes traumatise you for life but anyway... I digress again.

I am usually a night owl but with the better half working until late, the packing that had to be done and the snuggles that had to be provided before a week of sparse contact, the clock was ticking fast and i decided not to sleep at all that night So by 4:40am, I was talking World Cup qualifiers with Damien the newly-wed taxi driver and well on my way to the airport. Upon arrival and somewhat distracted from my melancholy by little Damien and the lack of sleep, I had to revise my idea of Hell. It is now Dublin Airport at 5.10 in the morning.

First of all, the place was packed, inside and out. Taxis were occupying all 4 lanes, some attempting to park, some attempting to change lanes, some stopping in the middle of traffic to let people off, all this in a complete unchoreographed ballet of flashing lights, beeping horns and expletives shouted from the window. Once inside, little did I know I was merely at the beginning of my adventures...

Aer Lingus had the fantastic idea to install “self check-in” counters where Paddy, Mickey Joe and Mary can pick their seats all together and decided amongst themselves who’s going to get the window before proceeding to the “tag and drop” counters and then go for a pint before the plane takes off. These were marvellous before everybody starting using them, or at least trying. By this, I mean that those counters are in the Aer Lingus check-in area, that the Aer Lingus logo is on each screen, that the booking number you have to enter to validate your booking is 6 characters long and it won’t let you type in more than that and yet....

And yet, mankind still has specimens (young, computer literate, wide awake and bushy-tailed) who arrive at the self check-in counters with their Ryanair booking slips, with their British Airways booking references, who try to enter phone numbers in there (anything on the confirmation e-mail that has figures must be tried, just in case). I know it’s early lads, but still!

Anyway, the trauma of the self check-in over, I proceeded to the "tag and drop" area only to discover that the queue was so long the time "gained" by checking in myself was melting like butter on a Caribbean beach. I eventually got out, still alive. After a well-deserved and now traditional McDonald's breakfast, I felt I was nearing the end of my ordeal at this stage and proceeded to the security check area, already untying my shoe laces I was that confident this would be done and dusted in no time at all.The queue turned out to be longer than the one for Space Mountain 2 in Disneyland. A nightmare. it was stretching from one end of the terminal to the other, literally. a good 30 minutes after having joined the queue, I finally got through and off to the gates I was, shoe laces re-tied and everything.

I'm telling you, nobody needs that kind of stress BEFORE getting onto a plane. There were some cranky kids in that plane and the guy and girl demonstrating the new Sony PSP to them before boarding had very little luck. Shame cause it's really cool, actually...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The day after the day before

Well, that was excellent!!!
Got to Ballsbridge around 5:45pm and despite my deepest fears, got no troubles finding anywhere to park... Proceeded to have the greasiest and most expensive chicken burger of my life... Eventually made it to a rather empty Lansdowne Road.

Within half an hour of being there, we had bumped into 2 different people we knew, all sitting in the same stand as us. this is Ireland for you. You would never be able to get away even if you wanted to!

Anyway, we had missed Gem and a little bit of Maroon 5 by the time we got there. Franz Ferdinand were really good, funny. Alex (the lead singer) is obviously considered by many to be a little heartbreaker, which he seemed to be quite happy with! Alex, a word of advice though... Keep your mike in front of your mouth when you sing. We'll hear you better. :)

After that, they drew the curtains on stage, getting ready for the final act... By then, we had decided to go and meet a friend of mine who was in the opposite stand / go to the loo. Now, I didn't do the loo bit but I've heard about it. Sounds traumatic. Of course, women being women, beer being beer and loos being what they are, queues of less than 50 women were unavoidable. They even opened the men's to try and get people moving but all it resulted in was women trying to relieve themselves in urinals and not necessarily doing a good job in the aiming department... I'm glad I wasn't there, even if by that time I was waiting in the pouring rain for my friend to show up... Rain or walking in pee? Hmm... It's a tough one!

Then Scissor Sisters came on, Ana Matronic working the crowd like nothing I'd seen before and Jake Shears shaking and strutting his stuff like nobody else... The stage was great, the atmosphere electric, the crowd dancing and singing, they were 9as predicted) the quintessence of camp and fabulousness.

As for the weather report: yes, it rained. Yes, my feet were frozen. But I didn't really care, to be perfectly honest!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Irish Summer

Can't wait to go to this concert in Lansdowne Road tonight... Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand and Maroon 5 & Jem if we get there on time...
haven't been to a concert in ages and although we're sitting down (small concession to make to drag the better half, plus I'm not getting any younger and it's going to be a rather long evening), I know it's going to be great.

Of course, this is the middle / end of August and the sun should be shining, the evenings should be mild, we should be gesticulating frantically to chase those annoying mosquitos... But unfortunately, this is Ireland. Instead of mosquito spray and sun screen, I'm bringing a jumper, a rain jacket, an umbrella, a change of socks and shoes as well as plastic bags to sit on just in case... Come on rain, I don't care! In 4 days, I'll be roasting on my parents' lawn, eating all my meals outside and gesticulating frantically. I can't believe I'm looking forward to it...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Political Compass

Here's an interesting little tool to help determine one's political compass, transcending the traditional one dimensional left-right line. Fundamental political differences cannot be reflected on a single line, neither can differences of opinion on social or economic policies.

The political compass address these issues and proposes a two dimensional approach, where economic and social policies appear on two different axes.

Here are my results:

Economic Left/Right: -5.38
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.21

This places me somewhere in between Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama…
Not bad company!

Check it out at http://www.politicalcompass.org/

The Pianist

What to think about the mysterious man found on a Kent beach at the beginning of April? Well, his story surely took a turn for the weirdest yesterday…

After 4 and a half months of silence, he finally answered when a nurse jokingly asked him “So, are you going to tell us who you are, now?” Well, not an amnesiac, after all. Not a brilliant pianist either. Not an Irish student, not a Czech virtuoso nor a French street musician either.

He turns out to be a 20 year old Bavarian who, after losing his job in a Parisian Café, took the EuroStar and attempted to commit suicide before being found by the British Police and subsequently taken into the psychiatric unit of the local hospital. His training as a psychiatric nurse back in Germany allegedly enabled him to successfully fake his “condition” (whatever it was, records are pretty vague about it). Apparently, he tore all labels and stickers from his clothes so that he could not be identified.

Now that’s he’s been given papers by the German Embassy in London and is safely home, I am sure Hollywood’s interest in his fate and his person generally will fade pretty swiftly. It’s a shame for him because he might need the money: British medical authorities are examining the possibility to sue him for damages...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Génération Mitterrand

Well, I hadn’t been to the cinema in a while, and certainly not to see a movie like The Last Mitterrand. Indeed, I believe the previous movie I saw to have been Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where Johnny Depp was just as yummy as the chocolate, although I have to admit to finding him a lot creepier that the aforementioned chocolate. But I digress…

The last Mitterrand then... (original title: Le Promeneur du Champ de Mars As a French citizen and as a member of what has been called the “Génération Mitterrand” i.e. having gone through childhood and most of my teenage years while he was President, I was very keen to see this movie, albeit a few months later than its French release but thankful for the International release all the same…

After the screening, I was asked if I was a Mitterrand fan… Although it is no mystery that I do vote Socialist in France whenever I can vote at all, I am not sure I was a Mitterrand fan. Certainly, I admired him. His megalomania, his narcissism (comparing himself to the last of the Greats, French kings and emperors as well as Presidents included), his shaddy past during the Vichy Government, his illegitimate affairs and his illegitimate daughter have certainly tainted his image, especially for those of us who are too young to remember anything else, too young to have experienced anything else from his character. However, he was an endearing individual, the last bastion of Socialism in France and what might have at the time been perceived as megalomania and arrogance turns out to have been incredible foresight.

He certainly was the last of the Great, whether we like him or not. DeGaulle before him was definitely one to remember in the centuries to come. After Mitterrand? Certainly nobody in the Socialist Party has shown him / herself worthy of following in his footsteps, nobody has shown stature, nobody has shown a willingness to rise above the internal rivalries and power struggles in the name of the Socialist ideology. As for great heads of State… Those who have the stature and the strength of their convictions are hardly the ones one would desire to rule the country whose motto is Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité…

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux

I've decided to share one of my favourite poems, one by Louis Aragon (1897-1982) called Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux. This is an English translation which struggles to do the French version justice but you can find the original text here, amongst other places...

Man never truly possesses anything
Neither his strength, nor his weakness, nor his heart
And when he opens his arms
His shadow is that of a cross
And when he tries to embrace happiness
He crushes it
His life is a strange and painful divorce

There is no happy love

His life resembles those soulless soldiers
Who have been groomed for a different fate
Why should they rise in the morning
When nighttime finds them disarmed, uncertain
Say these words and hold back your tears

There is no happy love

My beautiful love, my dear love, my torn heart
I carry you in me like a wounded bird
Those who unknowingly watch us walk by
Repeat after me my words and sigh
They have already died in your bright eyes

There is no happy love

By the time we learn to live
It's already too late
Our hearts cry in unison at night
It takes many a misfortune for the simplest song
Many regrets to pay for a thrill
Many a tear for a guitar's melody

There is no happy love

There is no love which is not pain
There is no love which does not bruise
There is no love which does not fade
And none that is greater than your love for your country
There is no love which does not live from tears

There is no happy love
But it is our own love