Friday, April 21, 2017

Paris Shooting Thoughts

My wife and I were having dinner in the 5th Arrondisment when we heard about the shooting on the Champs. We started getting texts from our family asking if we were OK. That's funny because they never ask us how we are when there is a shooting in New Orleans, which is a daily occurrence. Here are some observations.

The police here patrol in groups of three. They always used to do that but now they all wear vests and one of them carries an assault rifle. Trying to take them on in a gun fight would be suicidal. The gunman would have caused more terror had he just started shooting randomly at the cars on the Champs.

Key sites such as transportation hubs and tourist areas are patrolled by the army. They are usually in a single fire team of 4 guys, all with assault rifles.

We were in Paris shortly after the mass shooting at Bataclan. The security then was high but we have noticed some changes as a result of this shooting. The police being up-armed is one. (I suspect that they had to make an emergency purchase of all those assault rifles) Another is that there were checks at several pedestrian choke points today. We were stopped at the exit of the Metro in what looked like a routine ticket check. My wife noticed a couple of policemen off to the side who were obviously looking for somebody. (This was at Cite which exits out at the Palace of Justice and the police headquarters) Also, when we walked through the doors into the large underground forum at Les Halles, there were security guys checking backpacks and wanding people down.

The base of the Eiffel Tower is now fenced off. If you want to enter the area under the tower you have to go through security. It is really an ugly scar that takes the fun out of a visit there.

The French presidential election on Sunday should be interesting.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Canal St. Martin

Canal St. Martin was ordered by Napoleon I and construction started in 1802. It was completed in 1825. It was designed to short cut the bends in the Seine and gain access to the Ourcq River to the north. It runs underground in the last few kilometers on its southern end. Total drop is about 24 meters.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Paris Street Iron

Below is probably what is one of the recent copies of the Studebaker Avanti. The manufacturing rights passed through several hands after Studebaker stopped production in 1963. The last ones were built in 2006 in Cancun using Ford components.

I take no responsibility for the tacky wheels, mismatched white walls and crappy racing stripes. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017


The "Argonaute" is a French diesel electric submarine that was commissioned in 1958. It's relatively small at only 50 meters long. It was designed as an attack sub. It carried only 8 torpedoes with a crew of 40. It is currently at the City of Science and Industry in Paris.

My visit to her was a bit of a fail. The park complex is huge and I had to walk about 1 mile from the Mtero to get to her. I waited in line about 20 minutes before I realized that I could not buy tickets at the entrance. To leave and then get back inline would have taken another hour, so I decided that I didn't need to see the interior of a 60 year old submarine. But here are some outside pictures.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Physics Geekiness

Foucalt used his pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. His most famous one is in the Pantheon in Paris

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mickey and the French Military

Several French military units use Disney characters in their logos.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pietons Seuelement

If you've ever watched an action movie shot in Paris, there was probably a car chase scene through the streets where they drive along the lower quay side of the Seine and under the bridges. Those streets were major thoroughfares allowing cars to roll along free of traffic lights and making for good high speed chase scenes.

They are no more. The mayor has blocked them all off and turned the entire lower quay into a sort of blacktop beach accessible only to pedestrians, bikers and skateboarders. You could walk the entire length of the city along the river. The locals seem to love the idea but now traffic on the upper quay is crazy and commuters and taxi drivers hate it.

On the other hand, robbing a bank and using a car as for a get away would not be a smart thing to do.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Head Count

Saudi Arabia separated 9 more heads from their torsos last month. Year to date total is 22.

World According to Enzo

Enzo is our driver for our airport pickups in Paris. He is contracted to our rental agency so we have ridden with him several times. He is an Italian living in Paris where he operates a small limo service. While his English is a little weak, he expresses himself very well. Here are some of his thoughts.

He works hard, often 7 days a week. He recently had a friend who died at a young age and never got to enjoy retirement. Enzo has vowed that he is tired of working so that his taxes can support illegal immigrants. He does not support the liberal "give away" government of France and Paris and while he can't vote in France, he supports Marine Le Pen.

Paris city government says that tourism is down 30%. Enzo thinks it's more like 50%. He'd know because he sees it every day. He thinks that city government plans to increase tourism, like more pedestrian only streets and a nudist colony in the Bois de Vincennes, are stupid.

When we were last here we saw a lot of Chinese tourists. Enzo tells us that the Chinese have begun buying up small business, especially bistros. They are slowly inserting themselves into the city.

That's a short summary of the views of a working man in Europe. Do not be surprised if the conservatives win in France.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Road Trip

I am leaving today for an extended trip to Paris. The apartment will have wifi and I should be able to post some Parisian trivia in a few days. In the meantime, use the key word "Paris" and see what I've done there in the past.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sidebar Stuff

I added a new blog to my sidebar. It is called "The Military Nomad" and is written by a woman whose family lived next door to me. I watched her grow up and marry an Army officer. Since then she has traveled the world and some of those postings were not in the best of places. When she arrives in one of these third world postings she usually finds and adopts an orphanage and starts a campaign to raise donations to support them. She has started a blog to  document her experiences. Go and give her a read.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Paris River Taxis

A couple of innovators have an idea for Uber like water transportation. These will be testing in Paris starting in June. I'm not sure how they will mix with industrial barge traffic but this could be a traffic jam beating alternative for many cities'

The link to the web site is HERE.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Getting Flocked

My neighbor got flocked. Evidently it's  a breast cancer charity thing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pi Day

3.14  Have a  happy  pi day.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Chargrilled Oysters

Louisiana goodness.

(This was a test post from my Android phone. Getting ready for an extended trip and posting will be done from the road)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Unskilled and Unaware

I'm sure you've run across people who just seem to keep making really dumb mistakes. We even have phrases to describe them like "He's as dumb as a hoe" or "He'd tear up an anvil". Well now there is scientific evidence that this trait is a recognized characteristic. Back in my day, we had the "Peter Principle" which said that within any organization, people would be promoted to their level of incompetence. The situation where someone is unaware of their own incompetence is called the "Dunning - Kruger Effect". HERE is a link to some of their original research.

So, the next time you run across someone who seems to always make the wrong decision, you will be able to describe his condition.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Head Count

Saudi Arabia beheaded 10 people last month - 7 for murder, 2 for drugs and 1 for something called "istidraj". I looked it up and found that it is ancient Arabic for blasphemy (basically someone who ignores Allah's gifts and continues to sin). It makes you wonder what his specific offense was that he needed to be killed for it. This is what you  get with Sharia law.

Year to date count is 13.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mardi Gras

Something to get you in the mood.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tillerson Follow Up

It didn't take long. Anyone who has worked in the oil industry, and especially Exxon or Mobil, will not be surprised by the news in the link below. Rex has already started to reorganize his operation and you can tell from the tone of the article (from CBS) that the left is not happy. Do not listen to the warnings coming from the main stream media. They do not understand that it is no longer business as usual. If you read the post on Tillerson below you can see that he gave them fair warning of what he was going to do..

Read about it here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


I received a text yesterday from an unfamiliar number. It simply read "35 years today". I'm sorry to admit that it took me a few minutes to realize the text was from an old friend and was referring to the sinking of the "Ocean Ranger". Go to this link and read my past blog post.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Thoughts on Tillerson

You don't get to be CEO of a major oil company by being a shrinking violet. I had left the organization before Tillerson took over but I worked for a major oil company for 20 years and I can guess what may soon take place soon at the Department of State. Tillerson rose through an organization that routinely fired the bottom 10% of their staff based on their performance reviews and I expect Tillerson will bring this same results focused business approach to State.

Tillerson's focus as CEO of ExxonMobil was results, schedule and cost. I doubt that that will change. State employees should expect to held responsible for results and should have their resume ready if they do not achieve them. They can also expect to see some changes made. It won't be business as usual.

I point to the following excerpt from Tillerson's speech to State Department Employees with key statements highlighted for emphasis:

"As Secretary, I will deploy the talent and resources of the State Department in the most efficient ways possible. That may entail making some changes to how things are traditionally done in this department. Change for the sake of change can be counterproductive, and that will never be my approach.
But we cannot sustain ineffective traditions over optimal outcomes. I will gather information on what processes should be reformed, and do my part to make sure we are functioning in the most productive and efficient way possible.
Regardless of the circumstances shaping our country or our department, We must all remain focused on the mission at hand before us. I remind you that our undertakings are larger than ourselves or our personal careers."
It is quiet right now at State but I expect you should see sweeping changes soon.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Head Count

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was only able to find 3 people to behead in January. This is a big drop from January last year.

Dinner with Liberals

Youngest grandson, 12 year old P, and I went to Dinner with a Curator at the WW II Museum last night. The topic was US propaganda during the war. Dinner seating was community style with tables set up as 10 tops. We happened to be seated between an elderly Jesuit Priest who also happened to be the retired President of Loyola University and a woman who worked for Sister Helen Prejean of anti death penalty fame. (Don't ask me how that happened. Seating was open) The conversation was interesting and generally focused on history but towards the end of the meal the priest mentioned that he had not met anyone who would admit to voting for Donald Trump. I raised my hand and said, "You have now". Luckily, the presentation started before we could get into any further discussion of politics.

On the way home I told my grandson that the people we were sitting with live in a liberal bubble - a college campus in a majority democratic parish. If our priest friend were to get out to the neighboring parishes he might meet a Trump voter or two.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

One Day and a Wake Up

Finally! The Freedom Bird is coming!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review - The Lost City of the Monkey God

Douglas Preston usually writes techno thrillers both alone or in partnership with Lincoln Child, but this is a true, modern day adventure story that combines technology and Indiana Jones in the search for a legendary city hidden in the mosquitia jungles of Honduras.

The book starts with the summary of previous searches for the "White City". Some of these "searches" were fake adventure writing. This brings us to the present day and the use of LIDAR to search for archaeological sites. There is a brief education on the technology and this leads into the logistics involved in getting a survey crew into the jungles.  The middle of the book covers the actual investigation, discovery and the difficulties of operating in the virgin jungle.

The discovery unleashes a rash of academic jealousy. The petty politics of academia make office politics look pale in comparison. But more than that, the explorers came down with a rare tropical disease and the story then moves to their treatment and how diseases devastated native populations when the old world explorers arrived.

If you like true adventure stories, this makes a great read

Friday, January 13, 2017

It's Rubber Ducky Day

For all you rubber ducky fans......

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

16 Days and a Wake Up

It's been a long time coming but the end is in sight. Endeavor to Persevere!

Head Count

The Kingdom beheaded 5 criminals in the final month of the year. Four were for murder and one was for drugs. This brings their 2016 total to 145 heads.