Thursday, October 30, 2008

DC or Virginia?

The original plan was to go to DC or Northern Virginia, but the company that I would have worked has scaled back it's hiring. But I have heard that all over!

But I would love to move to DC or Virginia. The weather can be icy, grey and damp during the winter, but there can also be snow, and lots of it. The coastline is very close, and the old homeland- New York City- is a good three hour train ride away. My fledging film company and science consultancy, which I have just started, would do well there. I would need a car, but that's a small price to pay to be where there are a lot of educated contacts and access to loads of NGOs and nonprofits that would be willing to give time for a film company or a science consultancy. People there are are just as open as they are here, if not more formal.

I would miss so much here though- the wide open spaces, the sweetness of the summers, the open countryside where you bike for hours. And the living costs are lower here.

What do you think?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

10 things the French do better:

Okay, so here is quick summary of what the French do so much better:

1: Women. French women are not prettier, that much slimmer or richer than American women. Nor do they blow their money on expensive cosmetics ( but they do value rich perfumes) or expensive clothing.

They do know how to buy basic pieces and they do know how to work accessories and pieces. They repair their shoes, boots and coats, and have them professionally cleaned, since clothing is quite expensive. French women do take the time to do their hair and makeup. Hairstyles are quite simple and use a minimum of product- twists, African braids or extensions, buns and chignons- all which involve less then 5 minutes in the morning.

French women like their food, and eat well, but they do not constantly snack. If they do, you will see them chomping down on fruit or yogurt or sitting down for a full tea service.

For the most part, they have good manners and a great deal of dignity, which is the real French secret to looking well.

2: French men. See above, and subtract the hair extensions.

3. Restaurant food: Prices are based on whether you 'emporter' (take out) or 'sur place'. You pay higher prices for sur place, but that's okay, since you can take your time over your meal, drink a espresso, read the paper or even take a tiny nap. And it will all cost the same. You get three course, and some a drink, for between $7-18, depending on where you are. That often includes wine, beer or a soft drink like Orangina.

Even in fast food, the service is better and the food is definitely improved, because the whole idea is restuaration- literally restoration of the person. You are supposed to sit there, relax and restore yourself with food and drink.

Best meal: a glass of Flanders beer, salad with frisee and mache, topped with lardons and a poached quail egg, goose confit with fried potatoes, a tiny glass of apple brandy with my coffee. This was $15 US. And I was there for a full 90 minutes, reading Le Monde and doing the crossword.

3. Trains. The French rule at trains. The train system is well connected, fast and efficient- plus, the seats are incredibly comfortable! Related to this:

4. Public Transit: Again, smart, quick and efficient, with bus and train link throughout all major cities and many small towns. This is not to say the French do not love their cars- they do- but instead of owning 2 or 3 cars per family, many family just have one while the kids and dad use public transport.

5. Clothing: The alt-designers have a real eye for fabric, form and decoration, and it i a true joy to walk into these smaller shops in Belleville and Rue St. Germain and simply check out the beautifully done clothing, all cut close to the body, and all well sewn.

6. Children: they are so very cute, and well behaved, with none of the breakdowns you see here in supermarkets.

7. Public Displays of Affection: There are the kisses on the cheek for friends ( actually, you kiss the air as you brush your cheek firmly against the other person) the gentle hugs and firm handshakes. There's no sense of overdoing like the Italians ( Oh, so he's not your lover- just your mate from football? Oh, sorry)but a very warmth and sense of maintain contact amongst your fellow citizens.

And yes, it is so sweet to see couples- together for 6 months or 60 years, holding hands and giggling. See an old couple giggle and a quick kiss made my day.

8.Perfume- Costs the earth, but the smaller purveyors of scent are wonderful shops to go into, and combinations are truly delightful. But at $300/bottle, they are significantly costly!

9. Cab service- expensive, but courteous and professional. And many of the cabs are Mercedes!

10. Public TV - really intellectual, really good and very accessible. And every one speaks clearly, concisely, with dignity.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Back in the USA

I am back in Oregon, and by goly, it is still here! Amazing, that!