The Birat Family Chronicles..

Les tribulations d'une famille éparpillée...

Month: novembre 2008 (page 1 of 5)

Post touristum humanum tristum est!

Almost a week of apnea diving in American culture, with the 5 days we spent with Karen and Kerry in Paris and in Metz.  Back for me to speaking English rather than Globish.  Although I found out that Karen and Kathie do not speak exactly in the same manner, especially in the way that some vowels are pronounced and the expressions they use.

The Paris trip was pleasant for the French as we revisited or even discovered some touristy sights with a lot of pleasure.  The offer of things to see and do is quite amazing and maybe explains why France, with 80 millions tourist entries per year, rides (caracole) way ahead of the pack of all tourist-target countries – tourism is apparently the first world wide global activity in terms of turnover, whatever this means in a detailed way.  But it killed us both, as miles ad steps made our legs hurt for the whole week.

Is tourism a way to market the Past, History and Memory or a creative and modern tertiary activity?  In other words, something that devours national patrimony and will eventually dwindle away or a strong activity that actually embeds the Past in the Present and in the Future?

The Musée des Arts Premiers is certainly a new way of looking at museums from a world wide cultural perspective, although anthropological museums are not new, as masks and beautiful artifacts are shown in ordinary Museums all over the world and as the Musée de l’Homme, the ancestor of the Quai Branly one, was a high point in museum circuit of Paris since I was a kid until its collection went to the Arts Premiers. Indeed, they are a kind of museum given away to the ethnographs, anthropologists and other human scientists, in a slot separate from that of the Historians and of the Historians of Art.  What is new is the marketing part of the endeavour, including the architecture of Jean Nouvel and the effort of the Paris City to keep letting new architecture fit in its complex series of styles, piled up together since literally the Romans. See for example Grammaire des immeubles parisiens, Claude Mignot, Parigramme, 2004. 

Part of the pleasure of our country here is food and we had some nice dining at the Café de la Paix, then the restaurant of the Louvre Hotel and Maire in Metz. Not bad in just 5 days! Some goods bottles, especially at home as Kathie went ashopping and picked up some real goodies from Burgundy.

My business week was as travel-full as usual, except that CDG was incredibly empty when I connected between flights through the Roissy hub: no lines at security, unheard of!  The crisis is eating into intra-European travel.  The planes were also empty seated and I could enjoy no-neighbor status.

People did not show up in my meetings or rather only the ones from the country where the meeting was taking place and  one lonely guy from neighboring ones. Everybody is following the same rules.  Stupid rules, I should add.

Domino theory, Lemmings behavior, moutons de Panurge, etc… There are so many expression to talk about this that this is is obviously not the first time that people behave in this manner. La société apprenante, tu parles ! 

My trip to Japan in 10 days was cancelled, as all overseas trips are cancelled, at least officially (the lab here was full of colleagues from the US lab, this week, maybe the US are not overseas any longer!). The Japanese offered to pay for my flight, but I had to say no, thank you, this not the key issue – a lie in a way – this was the reason that was given to me, but the truth in a more survival kit kind of way, because I cannot continue to behave differently from everyone else as I have been doing in the past or else would risk my skin!

What bothers me most, is that everyone is taking what they see as precautionary and necessary measures, which are effectively shutting down the economy room by room, in spite of the enormous macro-economic incentives en argent sonnant et trébuchant that the governments are pouring into the pocket of banks and corporations.  The car industry cannot keep producing cars that pile up in inventories to the point that there is no space any longer for parking them! (hard to believe, actually!!).  The Steel industry cannot keep on producing hot or cold rolled coils that the car industry has stopped ordering.  There is no other way to act, they all say! And what we do is for the ultimate good of the organization. Here comes ethics!!!

People are being put in chômage partiel, while dividends, at a never-heard-before level will be paid to investors, who have sold their shares anyway and let the stock price drop by 2/3 of its value over 2 months….!!! The guy in Le Monde was saying that the rich are getting poorer and the poor staying as poor as before, but he should have thought a bit longer before making this easy crack, which is not true really.  

Part of the blame rests on the shoulders of the stupid « breaking news » style press, which is never as happy as when the sky falls on our heads.  On consumers, who stop buying things because they have been scared by the news they hear on TV and the bad news that they see coming into their life or fear that are coming.  On commentators who say that health comes after a good « healthy » sickness (???), like when they compare the present Detroit auto industry to the US Steel Industry of 20 years ago and conclude, let them got into chapter 11.   On banks, which cancel the loan they had already given to their customers, while the government are giving them tens or hundreds of billions of euros to restart the financing of the economy, including the trésorerie.  Or my company which will « organize » the voluntary leave of 10,000 people world wide (and 6000 in Europe): could not find anyone to explain to me what this means.  The only answer I proposed was that this was a kind of  coitus interruptusun retrait volontaire comme on dit aussi.

The key to all of this is that the top management in charge today has been riding over a bullish economy for many years and making brilliant decisions that are now showing as very short sighted and very stupid.  Do we really believe that they can rise to the level of the challenge and change their behavior and the way they make decisions?  Some of the politicians have made the agiornamento, but it remains to be seen if business can eventually reach the same level of enlightment, reach up to a future-oriented rather than cover-their-ass vision, be ready to turn around and give up fooling around with easy money.  

I have not stopped being angry for several days now!

Jean-Pierre – Papi

There is so much more to say…

Like cutting (steel) production to keep prices up (or to poop up the stock price), a wishful thinking, naive concept that never worked in the past, see OPEC and more! 

And the conviction of employees that beyond the voluntary job reduction, will come simple firings.  The element of trust and pride in the company is vanishing like the smile of the Cheshire cat. 

Aussi, on en profite pour charger la barque…

Vendredi 28 novembre

Bonjour à tous,
veille de week end. Il fait -1°C de matin mais -6° en ressenti. Y a une humidité assez importante qui depose du givre partout.
Hier j’ai dans un premier cherché une pharmacie pour me trouver un sirop pour la toux. Je n’en peux plus de cette toux. Mon nez n’est pas bouché, mes bronches ne sont pas prises, j’ai pas mal à la gorge, je ne fais que tousser… Grrr. Cette nuit j’ai tout de même pu dormir. La toux ne s’est manisfestée qu’au reveil.
Sinon j’ai eu mon assurance. Je crois que je suis parti dans une belle galère avec cette histoire de porte de garage… Dans un premier temps je fais une déclaration classique avec paie de franchise. Ensuite je dois monté un dossier de recouvrement en essayant de prouver que ce qui m’est arrivé m’est vraiment arrivé. Donc je dois faire des photos du garage, le montrer à des témoins, de préférence du syndic ou gardien… Après l’assurance se retourne vers la régie pour tenter de récupérer la somme de réparation et ma franchise… Ce qui m’a étonné en discutant avec la nana du recouvrement c’est que qd je lui ai dit que j’avais pas fait de photos de l’acciddent (c’est pas instinctif…) mais que le garage était tjs cassé, elle m’a proposé de reproduire la scène à postériori… Je lui ai qd même rappelé que la porte allait remettre un coup sur la bagnole et eventuellement sur ma tronche aussi si je faisais ca!! « Ah oui vous avez raison, c’est pas très prudent ». O_O!!!
Après ca je pars à la poste pour envoyer les papiers banquaires à maman. Là je decouvre que pour envoyer 230 gr il faut que je pais 2E20… Et je n’ai qu’1E50 dans le porte monnaie lol. Super! Je rejoue donc aujourd’hui!
En soirée entrainement de natation.
Aujourd’hui je suis à Venissieux. Ce soir j’assiste à l’assemblée générale du club de triathlon.
Le programme du week end n’est pas encore trop clair. Je vais sans doute faire des photos et essayer de trouver qq1 du syndic.

Biz et bonne journée à tous.

PS : Ca blogue plus bcp cette semaine… J’ai l’impression d’être l’unique survivant de la famille… et peut etre plus pour longtemps avec ce que je tousse lol.

Jeudi 27 novembre

Bonjour à tous,

la barre du zero est franchie à Lyon. -2°C, de la brume et du givre.

En écoutant les news ce matin je me disais que papa a eu très chaud par rapport à l’Inde. Il aurait pas fallu décalé le voyage d’un mois :-/. Ca fout le boules!!

Hier le CIDEN était calme comme souvent le mercredi.

J’ai oublié de vous donner des news de la reunion entre chefs assystem et le chef de div, sans doute car il n’est rien sorti de cette reunion si ce n’est des grand discourt : « en 2009 les nos activités seront centrées vers… Quoi qu’il en soit nous aurons tjs besoin du soutient de prestataires pour nous accompagner… ».  La mission de remplacement du congé maternité tombe à l’eau puisque la politique maison est de passer par des intérimaires. Bref la montagne a accouché d’un doryphore.

Je vous disais aussi avoir reçu une deuxième redevance. Après discussion avec une collègue et epluchage du document il s’avère en fait que ce soit une taxe d’habitation propre à mon garage!! 170E! Ca fait plaisir!

Côté assurance ils ne m’ont pas rappelé. Il va encore falloir que je leur cours après. Je leur enverrais bien Catbert à ceux là! 

La location dans les Vosges est bloquée. On y sera du 27 décembre au 3 janvier si j’ai bonne mémoire.

Sinon ce matin je testais mon nouvelle éclairage hallogène. Impressionnant! Je fais peur aux voitures maintenant lol. Ils se disent qu’il y a un camion qui arrive ^^. Ca fonctionne avec des accumulateurs. En bon citoyen j’ai préféré opté pour un système « conventionnel ».

Biz et bonne journée à tous.

Mercredi 26 novembre

Bonjour à tous,

je crois bien que l’hiver est arrivé! Température en dessous de 0°C et petit vent du nord. Le visage commence à se figer en vélo.

Hier on a désamorcé les tensions naissantes avec miss Muriel. Pas tjs facile de parlementer avec le personnel feminin (remarque sexiste du jour).

J’ai appelé mon assurance pour mon pb de voiture mais personne n’a pu me répondre hier. Ils doivent me rappeler aujourd’hui.

J’ai enchainé avec ma première séance de natation avec les requins. En fait il ne sont que 5 sur l’ensemble du groupe à être au dessus du panier. Le reste c’est du même niveau que moi ou en dessous. Je me suis même retrouvé à devoir faire l’allure du 2 ème peloton. Ca fait qd même bizarre de se prendre 100 m dans la vue par l’autre groupe après à peine plus de 400 m! Sinon le contenue de la séance était hallucinnant : 600 m échauffement + 2 X 10 x 100m (10″ de recup en première série entre les 100m, 5″ pour la 2ème série).

Sinon c’est quasi officiel : je vais passer la semaine du nouvel an dans les Vosges. On a trouvé une location d’appartement à 10 km de Gérardmer.

Biz et bonne journée à tous.

Si les spermato étaient des dames et en plus des éléphants…

… on comprendrait le dessin !


Religious subjects…and others…

Today is grey and cold and I had a hard time getting out of bed. Everyone is either sick or in a bad mood or both. One of the members of the maintenance team started shouting at Mme Clerc this morning because he wanted parental leave to take care of his son with a twisted ankle. But since he is always pulling this kind of thing, it doesn’t go over well.

The weekend was interesting. The Musée d’Orsay was the one I found the most interesting. There were too many people at the Mantegna exhibit. I found it hard to really get a glimpse of his paintings, but there is not doubt that his use of color is very interesting. I enjoy looking at paintings with religious subjects precisely because there is a tradition that is both pictural and narrative, and the painter works both within and against the tradition. Scenes of the crucifixion and Mount Olivet are traditional, including the men playing dice and the sleeping Apostles. You find the dice players in the Mystery Plays.

The Impressionist paintings at Orsay were really astouding, although I don’t think I will ever again be as surprised as was in the Hague when I walked into a room and saw Vermeer’s view of Delft, which had impressed Proust and been described in his novels.

The Socialist Party continues their infighting, but in the meantime Barack Obama is making headway and making decisions that seem to me to be having an effect already on the decisions made in Europe. This is what is called leadership. I am particularly impressed by his decision to put in place a program of public works in order to try to jumpstart the economy.

The prize for the stupidest country in the world goes to Turkey, a place I was interested in visiting but I don’t care to see since they more or less allowed a group of elderly tourists to be « taken hostage » when their tour operator went bankrupt. Tourists are naive, but they don’t need to be needlessly punished.



Mardi 25 novembre

Bonjour à tous,

grosse fraicheur sur lyon accompagnée d’un vent du nord assez désagréable. Tout ca est couplé d’une belle crève avec la toux qui va bien.

Hier je me suis fait casser les roubignolles par mon ex collègue Muriel pour une taille de tableau et elle revient à la charge par mail ce matin. Y en a qui ont un vrai sens des priorités dans le travail… Esprit EDF!

Sinon j’ai été voir « J’irai dormir à Hollywood » hier soir. Comme tjs les balades de d’Antoine de Maximy sont tjs aussi rafraichissante. Il traverse les USA d’Est en Ouest en partant de NY pour aller à LA en passant par Dayton, la Nouvelle Orléans ou Las Vegas. Tout au long du parcours il fait des rencontres très marquantes et montre un visage des USA que peu de français ont.

Aujourd’hui rencontre au sommet entre le chef de la division environnement et mon manager. On va voir si la montagne accouche d’une souris…

Bon je retourne sur ce tableau de m…

Biz et bonne journée à tous.


 Why not musea???

Anyway, with Karen and Kerry in tow, we ended up doing the typical tour of famous Paris museums and destroyed our legs in the process. they still ache, two days later!

Another good reason was that I wanted to see the Mantegna exhibition at Le Louvre, that Kathie had never seen Orsay and we also were attracted by the primitive art new museum at Quai Branly.

Well Mantegna was just as expected and as I remembered him from high school. His characters drawn as in a fusain (pastel?) and outlined in black lines, just like a cartoon of « la ligne claire » (Tintin) and his obsession with religious subjects. The soldiers playing dice while Christ is dying on the cross are quite remarkable and so is Jesus praying on the Olive Mount (?), while his disciples are sound asleep – even though he had asked them to stay up and support him.

Saint Sebastian surprised me first, as they shown first a tiny picture, 20×15 ».  However, this was just one of the versions. The real one, that has hung at le Louvre since forever, was big and rather dark and the bad guy looking Italian at the bottom right was there all right.

We had a look at the whole Louvre though, the moats of the Philippe Auguste castle, the Egyptian stuff and then the huge Mesopotamian flying horses with 8 legs.

Orsay was a treat. It is amazing to see so many Impressionists in the same place and there are so many of them that it is like a blow in the head. I was under the impression (LOL!) that most of these paintings had ended in American museums, where, indeed, there are very many, but these Impressionist guys were so prolific that many more are left in the country where they worked and painted.

The Courbet room was fun, with the « origin of the world » of course and some of his slightly skewed works where he was imitating the styles of the academic Salons but actually blowing them up: self portrait of the artist as a wounded man for example, painted by the healthy artist according to the romantic format required on this particular year; or the « painter’s workshop », where he is painting, indoors of course, a landscape while a nude model – also a cultural clin d’oeil -is standing next to him in a series of mises en abyme.

The Premier Arts were puzzling, because of the format of the museum, a funny building by Jean Nouvel, which is shaped as a kidney sitting on pillars over a garden or a monster, out-of-shape spaceship that has landed by the Seine and in the Eiffel Tower’s backyard  – and because we could not really relate to what they showed with our limited and also very formatted culture and understanding of the world.  Chirac loved it and I think it is a fair picture of his curious (in the French meaning of strange) mind!

And obviously, the two highschool girlfirends enjoyed spending time together again.

And suprise, people, 30 years later, still sound the same and even look the same, although in a kind of caricaturesque way!

PS. Did any of you know that this year is the 1000th anniversary of the Tale of Genji of Lady Murakami?

Galère pour les franciliens…

Le musée des arts premiers and the Eiffel tower behind it

Je suis parti d’Evry ce matin la fleur au fusil, convinced by listening to TV that trains were running on time. I even called Kathie and told her, from the RER D, that all was fine.

But no, said the little red hen.  At Juvisy, we were told that this was the end of line.  We left the train and shared the platform with a few hundred other people.  I tried to take the RER C, but each train was leaving 2/3 of the people who wanted to board it at the station and I gave up fighting with them, especially with my 2 pieces of luggage.

Back to a RER D train! Managed to get on the first one, because I stepped on a few feet and did not completely respect women’s rights.  5 stop ride to the new end of line, Gare de Lyon.  At each stop, people push in, an incredible number squeezes in and we get compressed. I am no longer sure where my suitcase (with my wife’s clothes in it) is!  Gare de Lyon! The baloon blows up when the doors open and people flow out of the car. This cute young black women is not leaning on me any longer! She also had bad breadth…

Two more trains to ride, and 2 hours after I left Evry, rather than 35 minutes, I got to Saint Denis.

Vive la grêve.

Lundi 24 novembre

Bonjour à tous,

la météo déconne à plein tube en ce moment. Ce matin il pleuvait alors qu’il devait faire beau. Ca boulevserse un peu l’organisation matinale du cycliste urbain que je suis.

Le week end aura aussi été bien arrosé.

Apres l’entrainement du samedi matin j’ai fait mes premiers cadeaux de Noel. La foule est déjà bien compacte dans la Part Dieu.

Samedi aprem je me suis retrouvé après 1h en vélo sous la neige dans la Dombe, puis sous la pluie à une altitude plus reduite. Heureusement ma nouvelle veste thermique ne laisse rien passer et j’ai pu rentrer sans être en hypothermie.

Le soir j’ai été mangé avec mon ami Jérôme dans un resto indien. Après s’être enflammé la bouche, nous sommes allés voir le rugby dans un pub irlandais. On était un peu tassé. Du coup nous sommes allés dans un bar plus tranquille une fois le match terminé.

A mon retour en vélo je me suis fait une belle glissade sur le marbre près de la mairie de villeurbanne. Par miracle je ne suis pas tombé!

Dimanche débout 10h. Natation pour le reveil musculaire. Footing l’apres midi. Puis comatage le reste de la journée.

Ce soir je crois que je vais aller au ciné voir « j’irai dormir à Hollywood ». J’ai peur que le film soit retiré des affiches mercredi donc il faut que je m’active ^^.

Biz et bonne journée à tous.

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