Interdum stultus opportuna loquitur...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Well, It's Been A While...

Note - from June 24th 2009, this blog has migrated from Blogger to a self-hosted version. Click here to go straight there.

"And each one found me aimless, one more year the worse for wear", as the Cold Chisel classic goes.

Bye Bye 2005 (almost a week ago).

I hope youse all had a good time during the festive season. I did, in a way.

Moving house was a chore (and I have to move again in another couple of weeks), and although I liked Ballan a lot, I'm now just slightly too far to enable me to make visits to the area.

After all, Paris is almost exactly half a planet away from Ballan.

Yep - that's right. I'm in Paris. In the land of 370 cheeses, as de Gaulle famously quipped. (For the record, he said "How can one expect to govern a country that produces 370 different types of cheese?").

The apartment is in the 16th Arrondissement, just off Avenue Foch. The Seizieme is a bit wanky - there are loads of Embassies and so forth, which means hugemansions with large goons lurking out the from 24 hours a day. Because I'm large-ish and with a rather goon-looking haircut, these goons often think I'm one of them rather than a resident.

Wankery aside, it's a delightful area to look at. After a couple of days though, you get mansion overload and all you can see is the things that aren't magnificent, and they grate on the senses.

It's six minutes' walk from our place to the Arc de Triomphe, 2 minutes to the Bois de Boulogne, and 20 minutes' walk to The Lovely's offices in Avenue Kleber. The offices are literally a stone's throw from the Trocadero, which is basically across the river from the Eiffel Tower. So every morning when The Lovely walks to work, she takes in two of the world's great landmarks. Nice.

The food here is excellent. Exceptional quality produce (I thought Australia's produce was excellent, but the range here is staggering). Wine in absolute abundance (of course), cheese coming out the ears. Fruit and veg exceptional.

As an example, our din-dins have included Roti de Pintarde (Roast Guinea fowl - I bought it at the local mini-mart and roasted it at home), Confit de Cuisses de Canard (cooked at home - out of a tin, no less), Civet de Sanglier (a stew of wild boar) which was my New Years' Eve din-dins, and of course the mandatory escargot (both the pastry kind, and the shelled kind.

There were almost 3 million people in the Champs Elysees on New Years Eve (also known as St Sylvestre here), but The Lovely and I went to Chantier (a terrific restaurant in Montmartre) for dins and were home by 10:30.

It has snowed here on eight of the ten days I've been here; late last week you could have snowboarded from the Arc de Triomphe to the corner of our street. It's melted off now, but Paris under snow is romantic even to a hardened old mongrel like my good self.

The people have also been very nice - they appreciate any foreigner who isn't a Pom or a Yank (of course any time a Frenchman sees a German he throws up his hands in surrender - it's almost an automatic response). And of you try to use your limited French they are very forgiving and show remarkable forebearance (I never start outin English - I think it would be rude).

Anyhow - it's just after noon here, and the US market doesn't even open for another three hours. Makes a change from the thing opening at 1:30 a.m.; this place is, in my estimation, the best location in the world fomr which to trade the US markets; start 'work' at about 4, trade the first hour, watch some TV until about 9, trade the last hour. Leaves the whole day free for sightseeing (it's almost dark at 4:30 becasue it's midwinter).

Tom Friedman is an absolute idiot. He is the NYT drone who tried to be a typical glib Yank dickhead declaring that "France doesn't work; if it was a stock I would sell it". That's why he is a hack mouthpiece for a dying Empire - if he assesses stocks using the same brain as he uses for his drivelling about France, he is better off being a hack than trying to make a living guessing things about stocks. France has the same ratio of government spending to GDP as does the US - almost to the exact percentage - but without 6% of GDP being siphoned off to government cronies in the Death industry. But try telling Friedman things like that and he will just wave his silly USA pompoms. Fuckwit.