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.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book Review - The Burning Room

This is the latest effort in the Bosch series. It has been 2 years since we last saw him in "The Black Box". In the meantime, Michael Connelly has been busy with an Amazon sponsored television series and it shows. This book seems to have been written to fulfill a contract. It does not have the usual Harry Bosch tension and attitude. Instead, he is cast in the role of a mentor to a young, female detective. We get to see the softer side of Harry but somehow it just doesn't seem like he's the same guy. He's counting the days until his DROP contract runs out and is more introspective than we have ever seen him as he approaches retirement.

Harry is still on the cold case group and he is investigating an old shooting case with a Mexican American female detective who was recently promoted. Unknown to Harry, she has an agenda to continue an unofficial investigation of an apartment fire and the two cases become joined by circumstances.

One of the things that was missing was that characters introduced in "The Black Box" do not appear in this book. It's as if his relationship with his girlfriend and the new detective in the internal investigation division did not exist. And remember, we never did learn the motivation of her reasons to follow him to Bakersfield in "The Black Box". I was hoping that story line would continue, or at least be explained.

All in all, not the best of the series.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Last Nights Excitement

Shortly before dinner time we heard a helicopter flying around central Paris. The rotor noise was also mixed with police sirens. We had never seen a helicopter in this airspace before so it caught our attention.....and it kept circling the Montparnesse Tower. Since there had been threats against Paris by ISIS and we have noted an increase in security patrols in the tourist areas, we thought there might have been some terrorist activity. Turns out it was just an every day jewelry store robber....Cartiers.....on the a couple of bumbling burglars.

The Champs is full of people going to the Christmas Market and traffic is bumper to bumper with looky loos at the lights and you think this might be a good time to rob the store????

Link to story is here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

French Humor....or Unfortunate Marketing?

Last week I saw some new ads in the Metro stations for water enhancers. My wife and I have been bringing Mios with us and everyone was asking about what we were putting in our water. Now there is a similar product, "OUIZ, the enchanter of water", being marketed in France. But I'm not sure if I want to "whiz" in my water!

Paris Shanty Town

We had our niece visiting us last week and my wife had a ball showing her around Paris. We escorted her to CDG on Sunday to make sure she didn't have any issues at check in and then my wife and I caught the train back into the city.

When we were passing through the area of Le Bourget (where the old airport was and now a large industrial area) I noticed a couple of areas where squatters had erected plywood shantys along the side of the railroad tracks. I didn't have time to get a picture but I was amused to see that several of these shantys had satellite dishes on them. I guess they can't do without their MTV.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Car Parts as Art

A gallery near my apartment had these items for sale. Done this way, your old junker is worth much more if you break it down for art.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Beaufolais Nouveau est Arrivee

The third Thursday of November is the traditional day for the release of the New Beaujolais. I tried to do my part by sampling the products of several wineries while I snacked on sausage cooked in the leftover skins of gamay grapes and homemade pate of wild boar. This manufactured holiday is the result of an ingenious marketing campaign that started in 1967 to sell wine early and give a boost to the cash flow of the wine industry. It is now an international event.

I spent the evening at a favorite restaurant where the owner/chef has close ties with several organic wine makers. We sampled several versions, including a white and competing wines made by father and son. Some of them had quirky names. My favorite was the white wine called "The 6 Weeks Rabbit" or "Le Lapin de 6 Semaines".

As we say in New Orleans, Laissee le Bon temps Roulee.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Long Distance

I'm back across the big pond in the "City of Lights" and watching the news with interest. It seems our dear Senator Mary may have to look for a new job soon as polls have her 16 points behind. I wonder if she will live in DC (which most of us think is her real home) or return to Mom and Dad's place in New Orleans where she claims residence. And I guess she'll have to fly commercial since she won't be able to travel on the taxpayers dime anymore. I got my absentee ballot ready to go.

I also see that the country is gearing up for some major race riots. I was in Boston when MLK was shot but this looks to be much worse. I wonder what the "Blessed One" will do if the country's urban centers start to burn. I suspect he will play like Nero except he will golf instead of playing the fiddle.

Be safe out there and stay on high alert.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How to Handle Phone Solicitors

My wife received a phone call the other day from a phone solicitor with an obvious Indian accent.

"Is Mrs. R there?", the caller asked.

"I'm sorry, she passed away yesterday.", my wife responded.

"Well, is Mr. R available?"

"What? You want to disturb a man who is grieving for his wife??!!"

(sound of hanging up)

I got one the other day from someone who wasn't trying to sell me something but wanted to confirm my location and salary as an obvious pre-qualification ploy.

"Do you still live in Louisiana?"

"You called me. Didn't you look at the area code?"

"Do you have a present worth of x dollars or an annual salary of y dollars?"

"Isn't it great that in this wonderful country a person can rise to....." (hang up)

And then there was the call from a political pollster who "only wanted to ask me a couple of questions". He then started into a long list of background questions about voter status, age, race, etc. So I stopped him and said, "Why don't you just ask your questions and stop wasting my time?" I guess he had a thin skin because he hung up.

Friday, November 7, 2014


"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results", Albert Einstein

The Democrats are faced with choosing new leadership and it looks as if they are going to stick with the same folks that lost them the election - Reid, Pelosi and Wasserman-Shultz. I sometimes think that the Republican party can be stupid, but the idea of keeping this set of losers as the party leadership is truly Stuck on Stupid.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Head Count

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia separated the heads from 6 drug dealers and 1 murderer last month. Added to the 50 from the previous months, their year to date total stands at 57.