Monthly Archives: September 2010

Home/2010/September

Carnage Boulevard

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:36+00:00 September 29th, 2010|Strasbourg|

'La rentrée' is known throughout France as the period of panic as children and adults across the land return to school and workplace after the summer break.  New itineraries and new timetables have to be shoe-horned into the family lifestyle within just a few days and adhered to for the rest of the school year. Understandably it can take some longer to settle into the new routine than others, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Strasbourg, on the Boulevard de la Victoire - the main thoroughfare through the University district. With something like 10,000 new students coming to the city every year their impact during the rentrée is significant.  Not least because the majority turn up in town, not unreasonably, without a bicycle.  Now running down the middle of Boulevard de la Victoire, between the tram tracks runs a nice wide cycle lane, and it is down here that we have to haul our kids to School 2-4 times a day. Now, this commute would be a breeze if it weren't for the hoards of absent minded [...]

Windows 7

By | 2010-09-16T20:54:48+00:00 September 16th, 2010|pointless whinging|

Just want to bore you for a minute or two with my tales of woe following my misguided attempts to upgrade my PC to Windows 7.  As the situation currently stands my expensive custom built desktop computer is currently sitting idle, it is now incapable of booting up so therefore will most likely remain idle for some time. This is the end result of approximately two weeks of lost productivity time in trying to bring my system (which was built in 2007) into the new age of Microsoft operating system technology. I had convinced myself that Windows XP had to be replaced, if only because it was so old, being first released in 1999. Like a naive schoolboy I assumed that modernising would make my life easier, and my system more secure. Indeed, Microsoft's helpful 'upgrade advisor' gave no clue as to the actual reality of making the leap of faith, cheerfully telling me I could slap the x64 or x32 version of Windows 7  onto my computer without much ado. In my first attempt to upgrade I opted [...]

Breaking the law

By | 2010-09-13T13:42:21+00:00 September 13th, 2010|Uncategorized|

My dealings with my pension agent CIPAV can only be described as "disastrous".  The bastards who run this little outfit, intended to help freelancers plan for their retirement, seem to find it amusing to ignore all communication from their desperate members (i.e. me) who say they are unable to pay due to CIPAV's estimated earnings being way beyond the reality. In 2006 I stupidly ticked the box for 'complementary cover' in my retirement plan.  Meaning I agreed to pay extra if I earned above a certain threshold.  Last year I came in way below this threshold - and so filled out the requisite form asking for exemption. No reply.  So I was a bit miffed when I was asked for the same amount again a few months later. So I followed advice and wrote a cheque for what should have been the legitimate amount. Today I received a bill, that not only ignored my complementary exemption, but also ignored the fact that I had already paid up 50% of what they had asked for. Additionally they see fit to [...]

Nasal hair nightmare

By | 2010-09-10T14:10:33+00:00 September 10th, 2010|pointless whinging|

When the divine creator, or one of their subordinates, sat down to programme my genetic code it seems they decided to have a bit of fun at my expense in the hair department. Yesterday I was forced to go fishing for a rogue nasal hair that was causing me no end of irritation. When I had finally tracked it down and extracted it with the aid of a thumbnail which could really do with a trim, my eyes began to water uncontrollably, decanting their contents into my nasal canals causing me to sneeze so hard it made my testicles hurt. Twice. After blowing my nose, I sat down to recover and ponder the article that had once been an integral part of my being which I still held between thumb and forefinger. It was long, straight and wiry, starting in thick trunk-like fashion at the root and narrowing exponentially at the tip into what can only be described as a spike, altogether resembling a miniature version of a lance, the type Julius Caesar used to conquer most of Europe [...]

Lullaby and bonne nuit

By | 2010-09-01T21:02:49+00:00 September 1st, 2010|Life in France, raising bilingual children|

The bedtime routine for the boys has changed perpetually since we became parents for the first time in 2005. In it's current guise I add a touch of bilingualism into the mix. For one reason or another our eldest has always had trouble calming down at the end of the day, and so we've had to try just about everything, every tip, trick and old wives' tale in order to get him to drop off to sleep. At present I find myself singing a melody of children's favourites for ten minutes or so after lights out, at the end of which, if it has been a busy day for the poor little nipper, slumber is guaranteed ... provided he doesn't need a poo. I've been taking this opportunity to brush up on my French nursery songs, to learn the words and tunes to mix in with the classic English ones I already know so well. What I try to do, is sing one English, then one French, keeping the same theme wherever possible. The current run-down goes something like [...]