The Birat Family Chronicles..

Les tribulations d'une famille éparpillée...

Category: Kathie (page 1 of 2)

Those garbanzo beans are real bombs…

I have to find eye-catching titles to get the attention of THOSE PEOPLE OUT WEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am referring to the news yesterday that among the products which cannot be imported into the Gaza strip are lentils and garbanzo beans.  It’s true that people full of garbanzo beans might be used as human bombs. However I don’t really feel like joking about people who really have a hard row to hoe.

Among the good news lately is the American study that found that the harder you work, the more worn out your brain becomes. However, on the other hand, one of the unexpected side-effects of the « crise » is the fact that people who are forced to take days off without pay are discovering that time is perhaps more valuable than money, except of course for those already holding down two or three jobs to make ends meet. So everyone get out your copy of Walden and learn how to « simplify » as Thoreau used to say. Take time to listen to the birds and observe any bees that might still be wandering around.

The sun is out, it’s fairly cold but warming up and I should find something useful to do, after having beaten off the few early morning wolves who thought they could get answers out of me to questions I would prefer to avoid.

Have a good one (and keep away from those blasted beans)



I’m not sure who is most anxious to see the weekend arrive. I think everyone is slightly crazy. Last night I was sitting in my office after having spent the afternoon in one more demonstration to try to make the government back off their stupid reform of the university, and a colleague showed up and asked me if I could lend her a desk lamp because the light had gone out in her office (on the whole floor, actually). It’s just one thing like that after another. When I arrived  back in my office yesterday afternoon I had a message from some students who had written to me just before the February vacation and wanted to know why I hadn’t answered them yet. I can’t imagine…

But watch out (if your’re in France, that is) because there are Turkish coins that people are circulating because they look like 2€ coins and there is a epidemic of intestinal flu (another one). I got this information from my Spanish teacher last night. I didn’t understand whether the Turks were also responsible for the epidemic (you never know… If they’re capable of passing off counterfeit money, they’re capable of anything).

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Paul Krugman is very pessimistic about 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013….need I go on? But Christine Largarde (the one who did synchronized swimming when she was younger and now practices synchronized lying) does not seem particularly flustered by the alarming increase in the number of unemployed in France.

So all is well and I suppose I should find something constructive to do. What will I find to lie about today?


Winter wonderland

No, not really. But there’s a nice blanket of snow.

In spite of what was announced in Le Monde yesterday people are still talking about the university. They are organizing a flashmob at noon on Wednesday at the Place St. Michel. You are supposed to show up at noon on the dot. At the whistle, you start reading from your favorite book, for five minutes. Then everyone stops and diperses. Sounds like fun. But I think the war is over guys. We can go back to work, no excuse me, to not working, which is what university professors do best. Example, I am not working right now. If you think university professors don’t work you should see the number of proposals for the conference we are organizing in October that I received after midnight.

I am working on a very funny subject, looking at the animals in The Grapes of Wrath (there are lots of them, pigs, cows, bugs, weasels, you name it, it’s in there) from an anthropological perspective. 

Any news from Las Vegas? No snow out there?



Bye bye Valérie, Ouuu-eeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I tried to write an article this morning but the blog refused to publish it. I think this is censorship. Today has been relatively fruitful. We prevented the CEVU and the CA (university council) from holding their meetings and voting on the reforms that are being contested by university professors. Thank goodness there isn’t a demonstration this afternoon in Metz because we would all blow away. However, the question is not settled. It is simply pushed back a few weeks until Valérie Pécresse finally recognizes that she’s not going to win.

Ah, universtiy politics is not easy. Last night for some unknown reason I dreamt of Obama. And Sarkozy is in Baghdad for some unknown reason. Do they even know who he is?



Fires’s out….all clear

Dear all,

I have put out my first fire of the day. I had made what someone considered a mistake on the job description for a Spanish professor. To hear her you would have thought the world was coming to an end. However, I called the personnel office this morning and found out we still had 48 hours to make changes in the job descriptions.Whew………

Thanks Betty for the info on UNLV. I think the French have no idea what is happening in universities in other countries. French university professors have enjoyed considereable freedom, even if their infrastructure cannot be compared with what is found in American universities. Now that someone is talking about tightening the screws, they’re up in arms. But if they do have to accept more constraints, it would be normal that their working conditions improve.

The sun is out even though it’s cold. France is bracing for national strikes tomorrow. The press is predicting a black Thursday (no reference to BHO).

Have a good one,


Le bon cholestérol…

I don’t have much news so I thought I’d start off on a positive note. The doctor told me this morning that I have a lot of the good type of cholesterol. I got up at 6:15 to be at his office at 7 o’clock so I wouldn’t have to spend the whole day in the waiting room. When I got there there were already two people waiting and five more arrived within five minutes. Apart from that he announced that I didn’t need antibiotics for my sore throat and runny nose.

The weather is cold and sunny.

The big news this morning was that Rachida Dati had gone back to work five days after giving birth to her daughter through Caeserean section.  The debate concernend whether it was reasonable to go back to work so soon. I just wonder what she did with the kid. Rachida must be afraid someone’s going to snitch her job.

Well, that’s all folks.

Ah, I found it…

I found the link in my favoris. Blair says I’m a genius. I could almost run the socialist party.

I talked to Karen on the phone. She is settled in and even found a grocery store (a Monoprix) which is not easy to do in Paris. They’re going to do a « Paris by night » tour to get a feel for the layout of the city. Karen also told me that the Senate race between Franken and Coleman for the Senate is still not settled. There are only about 200 votes between them. So I’m glad the Birat family voted. There are moments when every vote counts.

I bought the prix Goncourt yesterday. Now all I need to do is find time to read it.

Love to all


The Obama Effect………

Last night I watched an interview with Obama on sixty minutes that I found through a link on the website of the SAES. I can affirm that the Obama effect is still working, at least on me. Maybe it’s working elsewhere, since the French parliament is passing laws to limit the use of fiscal paradise(s).

On the radio this morning they said that there are traces of certain medicines in tap water. Not very surprising, but not very reassuring.

The weather is grey and rather chilly. Not much else to say. I don’t feel very inspired.


Happy Birthday Princess Naomi

Blair is still trying to turn into a prince so he can ride in the carriage with Naomi, but he thinks he would need a kiss from a real princess to become a prince. Apparently I am not a real princess.

A very happy birthday to a real princess. We hope everything is perfect today and that you are happy to finally be 4 years old.


Mamie and Blair

On a Halleleujah High!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The above is a quotation from the preacher in the church in Atlanta Georgia where Martin Luther King used to preach. He delivered a sermon yesterday in the typical black style in which he recounted the life of Barack Obama. He’s the one who said he was still on « a halleleujah high ».

The reactions to Obama’s election were interesting. Even the people who didn’t vote for him seemed relieved. Condelzza Rice seemed thrilled, which just shows that all black Americans still feel the effects of racism, even if they don’t talk about it publicly. Bayrou had interesting things to say, although I can’t remember the exact words, Ségolène also. Hubert Vedrine was interviewed by France 2. I wonder if Sarkozy isn’t a bit jealous. Now, when there are pictures of the G 8, all eyes will be riveted on Obama, and in particular, like Zapatero, he’s considerably taller than Sarkozy.

I was on the local TV news again last night, along with three other Americans. We were all filmed in my office.

Apart from that, Arcelor Mittal was in the news on account of the record third-quarter earnings. Valérie Pécresse was in Nancy the other day and seemed to say that the « université lorraine » should be put in place as early as 2010. I’m afraid our president may have a hard time keeping up with all that.

Love to all,


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