Monday, December 17, 2007

Xmas in France, Part I

I am writing this from a gorgeous apartment in the 10th arrondisement in Paris. Unfortunately, it doesn't have WiFi, and I have spent about 3 hours trying various shenanigans to try and get it going, all to no avail. So tomorrow I will be on a hunt for free wifi.

This trip to France grew out of the fact that my divorced brother (who lives in Paris) only has his kids every other Xmas, which he brings to my parents in Rye. This is his off-year, so he was spending it in France. My parents decided to go also, as they hadn't spent Christmas with the French side of the family in years. At that point, I decided to hump along, as did my other brother in California. Naturally, such a family reunion couldn't come off smoothly, and it didn't. 2 weeks ago, my California brother screwed up his foot so badly playing basketball that he is unable to walk, and basically had to cancel his trip, which is terrible because my other brother is working this week and I was looking forward to spending some quality time with him. Oh well.

The trip out here was eventful, as I was supposed to leave Thursday night at 5:40PM. First noreaster of the season in Boston, we boarded at 7:30, and finally took off at midnight. At least we were able to walk around while we were attached to the gate. The deicing took over an hour and they had to refill the de-icer tanks the wings were so full of snow. Apparently 100 other flights were cancelled that day in Boston. I'm pretty sure it is more painful to cancel the intercontinental flights than ones within the US, so I did feel reasonably assured that we were going to take off. I finally arrived in Paris at 1:30PM instead of 6:15AM. Missed lunch at my grandmothers. Furthermore, I was supposed to meet my brother at the train at Saint-Lazare at 1:30 to go to his place in the burbs, pick up his car, and then go pick up his two daughters at their private school an hour out of Paris. So I'm trying to call him to let him know I'm at the airport instead of the train. I have his cell phone number, but he is not answering. I'm leaving somewhat inflammatory messages, like what the hell do you have a cell phone for, you know I'm coming in and late, etc. I call my parents in the US, and we commiserate, and I ask them for his home number to leave a message, and they end up giving me the number that I had thought was his cell. My other brother, who I had called from the airplane for Eric's cell phone number, had given me the wrong number. So I now called the cell phone, and naturally he STILL didn't answer. Finally, at 2:20, he answers, saying he was in an analyst (finance) lunch with a CEO, and it was 'inappropriate' to take calls. After laying into him, we decided that I should take a taxi to his place, and then we would leave. I do so, costs 45 Euros, which used to be cheap at 0.85 to the dollar, and is now expensive at 1.45 to the dollar. We are driving to the school, and we go RIGHT past the airport. Naturally I excoriate him for not just choosing to pick me up at the airport instead of taking the taxi. We finally get that out of the way, and the visit is on. Pick the kids up, do family stuff, come home, some dinner, some digestifs (after dinner drinks), and then I finally call it quits at 11:30PM, with almost no sleep since Thursday morning at 7AM (the Ambien I took on the flight shockingly only put me out for about 1.5 hours). LONG day.

Saturday and Sunday we did family stuff, hanging out, shopping, eating, playing games, watching stupid Mtv shows translated into French with the English in the background. Like the girlfriend trading one, the parents picking the date one. Always interesting to hear the translations. It is stuff like that that makes you wish you could watch and understand all movies in their original language, because you really do lose a lot in the translation.

Today transferred to my brother's girlfriend's apartment in the middle of Paris, where I'm staying until Friday. BTW, my brother does NOT have internet, although he does have a computer. He had a DOOM3 CD which he couldn't get to work, and he had me take a look. I found that it didn't like his graphics card, although according to the documentation, it should have. So I wanted to update the driver. Well, when you don't have internet, you can suck it. Unbelievably frustrating not having internet access. We ended up going to his girlfriends, I brought a USB drive, downloaded the driver, downloaded a new version of Itunes (7.5x to replace his 6.0 version), and Picasa because he had a new digital camera that he hadn't even taken the pictures off of yet. Went back to his place, installed everything, and sho' 'nuff, Doom3 worked. We played for a little bit (good graphics), and then dinner, the 3 musketeers, which was supposed to be in v.o. (version originale), and you could choosed French or the original language. We were looking foward to watching it in English only to discover that the original language was an ALREADY dubbed German. Ugh. So we stuck with the French soundtrack, and again, having seen the movie quite a few times, it was obvious that a lot was lost in translation.

Today was errand day. Went to Galeries Lafayettes to get some stuff for Georgia and the kids, and some 3 year Calvados for myself. Ate lunch at L'Entrecote with my brother. This place is famous for its 'secret sauce' and unlimited french fries. It is basically a fixed price menu with a salad, then a small steak and unlimited french fries with the REALLY good sauce. Pictures below.

And finally

Note that we shared TWO plates of fries this size. I make it a point to eat there at least once every visit to Paris. Then back to Galeries for more errands, then home to try and hook up to the internet. She has an ADSL modem with a USB output! I had planned to try and buy a wireless router and hook it up while I was there, and then at the end of the week, she could decide whether she wanted to keep the always on connection, or whether I would try to return it and get cash back. Well, there are no routers that take a USB (instead of Ethernet/Cat5) connection as the input. Talk about frustrating. So I explained that maybe I could connect from my laptop to the desktops ethernet port and configure the desktop to share it. He said I could do that, so I bought the appropriate ethernet cable and went back to the apartment. Lo and behold, I couldn't configure her desktop to share the connection. Everytime I checked the box, it said failed to share the connection. Then I tried to configure my laptop to acess her modem directly over USB. I downloaded the driver for the modem (which took awhile to find), but THAT install didn't take on my laptop, even while I had the USB connected. At this point, I have given up. I'm now writing this in a text file on my laptop, then I'm going to transfer it via USB drive to her desktop and submit it to blogspot from there, because she has a french keyboard, and it is REALLY a pain in the butt to type with the french setup.

I actually researched free wifi connections in Paris, of which now all the municipal libraries have. I was about to pack up and leave when I noticed that ALL libraries are closed on Mondays. They also have wireless in some outdoor parks, of which one was listed nearby, so I humped my laptop over there and in 25 degree weather, tried to connect to the wifi. It found it, but would not complete the connection. So finally I went back to the apartment and cobbled together the approach I'm using now, transferring stuff between computers. More later


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that 25 C or F?

5:00 PM, December 17, 2007  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

25 farenheit. COLD for Paris this time of year. It almost never snows here, and if it does, it doesn't accumulate or stay.

11:31 AM, December 18, 2007  
Blogger Thundy said...

Dude... that all sounds like WAY too much work for an internet connection. :) Doom 3 is great :)

Merry Christmas!

1:18 AM, December 19, 2007  
Blogger Alex de Frondeville said...

Tell me about it. I finally ended up going to a French library at 5PM yesterday and finally connected. I humped along this huge transformer (since I didn't have the right plug adapter for the Dell and I'm not sure it takes European power anyway) in my backpack. Pretty sweet though. You get two hours of free Wifi time.

3:22 AM, December 19, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home