Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review - The Cruiser

David Poyer has finally come up with the next chapter in the saga of Dan Lenson. Against all odds he's been promoted to Captain and given command of an aegis cruiser. Unfortunately, it is currently aground near Naples. He is to take command and then go to the eastern Med to provide ballistic missile defense. The ship has problems, both mechanical and human, and he has to sort them out during a combat patrol. The book is full of action and although it has references to earlier novels, the new reader will understand what is going on. This is a fast read and difficult to put down. I finished it on a trans Atlantic flight.

The book ended with an obvious lead in to a sequel with Dan in command of the same vessel. It also left some open story lines. For example, what caused the death of a healthy crewman and why does everyone have a cough? I hope Poyer writes the sequel soon because I waited too long for this one.

Monday, December 8, 2014

L'empire de la Mort

My wife was off taking a cooking class and, since I had time on my hands, I decided to visit the Catacombs. Usually the wait to get in is several hours but I was banking on there being short lines in December and I was right.

The catacombs were originally underground limestone mines. Paris is built from the stones mined in these quarries that started back in Roman times. The problems came in the late 1700s when urban expansion meant the city had been built over existing mines. A couple of street collapses drove the government to undertake a project in 1777 to inspect the quarries and built supports to prevent the city from collapsing.

In 1786, there was a health problem with the overcrowded cemeteries within the city limits. It was decided that the underground quarries would make an excellent resting place for the bones from the cemeteries and another project was undertaken to move some 6 million dead people to their new home.This continued until 1859. The transfers were all done at night and escorted by priests.



This engraving on the wall gives the support ID number, the initial of the builder and the date of it's construction.


You can also see the names of streets above engraved in some walls.

 
This carving was done to memorialize a builder who was killed in a cave in.

 
Stacking the bones. It looks as if a retaining wall was built with leg bones and skulls. Behind this wall there is a jumble of bones.


Each section has a plaque that tells where the bones came from. These came from the Ancient Cemetery of St Laurent. The bones were first deposited in the Ossuary of the West and then transferred here in 1859.

 
They got pretty good at bone stacking

 
And they had a lot of bones.


 
 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sights of Paris No. 3

Saw this sign on the way to work. Evidently street urination is as much of a problem in Paris as it is in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I think the paper boat is a nice touch.


Maybe they need to bring back the old pissoirs.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wait for Signs - Book Review

This is a compilation of 12 short stories by Craig Johnson based on his main character, Walt Longmire. While some may yearn for another full novel, this set of short stories, some humorous and some with a mystery theme, serve to fill in the gaps in Longmire's life history and explains his relationships to other characters. It is highly recommended.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Head Count

Well, Saudi Arabia beheaded a mix of murderers and drugees last month as well as a couple of rapists for a total of 12. If you add that even dozen to the sum of the previous months, they have a year to date total of 69 with two months to go.

More Street Iron in Paris

More cars from the streets of Paris........

 
This Ferrari was parked (probably illegally) on the corner.

 
 A couple of days later, this Lambo was parked on the same corner. It was across from a brasserie called "La Pallette" so named because of the art galleries in the area. Evidently, this brasserie has also been visited by Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford. I guess the art game is good.


Finally, this is a Cobra replica by DAX seen on Blvd St Germaine. The "Powered by Chevrolet" decal on the right side was a giveaway as the original had a 427.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner in Paris

We spent Thanksgiving in Paris this year. For me, it was a normal work day and since turkeys are difficult to find in France we took an evening cooking class followed by eating what we cooked.  About a dozen or so other American refugees were there as well.

The starter was Chestnut Soup and Meslcun with Fennel Salad. The main course was Cornish Game Hens with Potato Dauphinois and Pumpkin Puree. Dessert was a Walnut and Caramel Tart and Pears Poached in Red Wine. (What's that thing in the chestnut soup?  Why, Bacon, of course!) No cows were harmed during the preparation of this meal, but a large amount of cream was used. The chef reminded us often that cream wasn't 35% fat but 65% water!

While it may not have been the traditional Thanksgiving meal, we enjoyed the cooking education, meal preparation and the comraderie of our fellow displaced Americans.