Monday, September 22, 2014

Answer - Warning Science and History Geekery Below

In 1666, Louis the 14th authorized the building of the Paris Observatory with the Paris Meridian bisecting the building. In the early 19th century, astronomer Francois Arago calculated the meridian with greater accuracy. Paris lost out to Greenwich as the location for the Prime Meridian in the International Meridian Conference in 1884 when a standard meridian was chosen.

In 1995, the Arago Society of Paris wanted to do something commemorate him so they commissioned Dutch artist Jan Dibbets to come up with an idea. He decided to put down a series of medallions bearing his name on the line of the Paris Meridian in the city. This is one of them. Some geography geeks try to walk the entire line of medallions although some are missing or have been covered over.

You may also remember that the Paris Meridian was a key plot tool in the DaVinci Code as the line runs through St Sulpice Church.

For more Arago trivia...There was a statue of him near the Paris Observatory. All that stands there now is an empty granite stand. The Germans took the statue and melted it down during WW II for the war effort.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Travel Warning

If you have an allergy to penicillin, even if you haven't had an episode in 60 years, and you are in France.....DON'T EAT BLUE CHEESE!

But, darn, it tasted good! Now if I could just stop these hives from itching I'd go back for seconds.

Glenlivet Coopers Choice - 1998

Don't bother trying to find this on the store shelves. It has been discontinued. Glenlivet is a Speyside whiskey. The distillery was founded in 1824 and is now owned by the French company Pernod Ricard. This whiskey is aged in sherry casks so it has a deep amber color. It has a light, fresh nose with a round and pleasing taste and a warm finish. It was defintely a pleasure to sample a dram of this whiskey.

As I said before, this whiskey is no longer made so if you find a bottle somewhere, grab it quick.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sights of Paris No. 2

Found this on Blvd. St Germain but there are one hundred or so more throughout the city. Do you know what it is? (I expect aviators, sailors and geography geeks to know this.)

The answer in a few days.......

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review - Blind Spot

I will file this under "What were they thinking"? This is the latest of the ghost written books in the Jesse Stone series by the estate of Robert Parker. I think people who love Parker love him for his writing style as much as his characters. The previous books that were written by Michael Brandman were true to Parker's writing style. This book by Reed Farrel Coleman is not.

Except for the name of the main character, everything about this book is different from the ones by  Parker and Brandman. Coleman has deviated from Parker's gritty, simple style. He has used the third person to get into Jesse's brain and spends paragraph after paragraph telling us what Jesse was thinking and feeling. He also spends a lot of ink telling us about Jesse's sex life. In addition, he turned Jesse into a heavy drinker. We all know he was a recovering alcoholic but we also know he limited his drinks. Coleman takes him way out of sobriety. And finally, he overuses baseball analogies and the fact that Jesse is an ex player.

As for the other characters, Suitcase Simpson is now a blundering idiot and Molly is an over sexed cougar who trades double entendres with Jesse. It was also disturbing to me that Coleman set up the ending for a sequel, almost as if he was looking for job security.

The story line is good and there is enough action to keep up your interest, but, other than the name of the characters, it bears little resemblance to the Jesse Stone novels Robert Parker fans know and love. Read it if you want, but don't look for anything resembling Robert Parker.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Classical Music

Saint Chapelle is a church that was built in the 13th century in Paris to house relics of Christ. It is somethimes used as a venue for classical concerts. My wife and I went there recently to listen to this violinist.

Book Review - Personal

This is the latest in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. I wanted to take my time reading this novel but it was not possible to do so.

Reacher finds a personal ad in the Army Times that leads him to contact some old Army intelligence acquaintances. They want him to hunt down a sniper that he had once jailed but who was not out and thought to have taken a shot at the president of France. This leads Reacher on an international man hunt to Paris and London. The shooter, however, has personal reasons to want to kill Reacher. There is plenty of tension as Reacher deals with some unsavory characters who are protecting the sniper while he avoids being a target himself.

This book will not be easy to put down and I think is one of the best of the series.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lagavulin - 16 year old

Lagavulin is an Islay single malt. The distillery is another one that is now owned by Diageo(see earlier review of Oban) and is marketed as one of their "Classic Malts". The distillery has been around since 1816.

The whisky has an amber color and a strong peaty/iodine nose. It's taste, hosever, is round and smooth with a lingering finish. Some people may find it too strong. For example, Lisbeth Salander referred to it as something that could be used to tar a boat.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Aviation History

The Bleriot XI was the plane that Louis Bleriot used to fly across the English Channel in 1909. This model was then produced in several variations. Several survive today in museums around the world but this one is the one that he actually flew across the channel.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Customized Harley D

To me, this is sorta like hitching a race horse to a plow......

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Steampunk Airplane

Meet the Avion III, a steam powered airplane built by Clement Ader between 1892 and 1897 for the French War Office. The plane never flew although Ader claims it did manage to get off the ground for 100 yards.

Clement's name is not well known as an aviation pioneer but he is considered to have predicted the use of aircraft in war and aircraft carriers.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Head Count

The Saudi head removal machine got into high gear last month and beheaded 23 murderers and rapists and they added 1 sorcerer for good measure. Yep, they still execute you for sorcery in the Kindom of Saud. There are no details available on the investigation methods or what evidence was presented. Yes, Islam is a modern, peaceful religion, kinda like the Puritans in 1692.

Last month added twice their current year to date number which now stands at 36!

More Vehicle Pron

Saw this on the street. It looks like the ideal city transport for the cool senior kidz. Called a Bike Board, it's electric. The two cylinders are the batteries. And it's only 4,000 Euros! ($5,500)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Car Pron

Saw this near Place Bastille the other day.

Me likey!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Yo No Puedo Mas

We had this bottle of wine last night at dinner. Obviously, the French wine producer has a strange sense of humor. But I wonder if it might be the new campaign slogan.

This oranically grown red wine is made in the south of France in Herault which is about 150 clicks SW of Avignon. The grower is a 4th generation vintner. This wine is a blend of 4 grapes (carignan, grenache and syrah being the most prevalent) and is classified as Vin de France, the most basic rating (formally Vin de Table). But, like my wife and I have discovered, even the most basic wine in France will beat out the named wines exported to the USA.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Oban - 14 Year Old

Oban is a West Highland malt distilled in a seaside town on the west coast of Scotland. It is light amber in color and has a very light and grassy nose. In fact, it has hardly any nose at all. It has a full body and is pleasing to the tongue and is easy to swish around in your mouth. At first I didn't detect any finish at all but after a few seconds, there was a pleasingly warm feeling. In short, don't turn this one down if someone offers you a wee dram.

Oban is marketed as one of the classic single malts of Scotland along with Dalwhinnie, Talisker, Cragganmore, Lagavulan and Glenkinchie. Each one is a representative of a separate area of Scotland. You can also get Oban in 18 and 32 year old versions.

The distillery itself was built in 1794 and is one of the smallest in Scotland, having only 2 pot stills. It is currently owned by Diageo, a large adult beverage conglomerate.