dimanche 28 mars 2010
Yesterday, Alain's great-uncle was invited to give a speech at a ceremony honoring Henri Fabre, a French aviation pioneer.
Henri Fabre (1882 - 1984) was from this area and developed the first sea plane. Here is the Wikipedia article on him:

Note : It's Marseille not MarseilleS! (one of my pet peeves)

Anyway, for the 100-year anniversary of his first flight in his contraption (you wouldn't get me up in that thing), the city of Marignane inaugurated a round-about and a school in his honor.
Alain's great-uncle Michel, right, (un vrai Résistant) had given a speech a few months ago about Henri Fabre, and was invited to present the same speech for the inauguration. Michel is a history buff, especially for World War 2 and local history, so he was quite pleased. He will in fact talk your ear off for several hours if you let him. He was also tickled pink that Alain married an American, and brought out his French-American veteran group card to show me and all the Americans who came for the wedding.
Side note : French who were alive during World War 2, especially those who fought in the war, are much friendlier towards Americans. Gee, I wonder why that is?
Three buses of Henri Fabre's family arrived (about 45 minutes late) for the inauguration from all over France. After an unveiling of the sign for the round-about and the mural, Michel gave his speech, then Henri Fabre's grandson gave a short speech, and then, in true French style, time for drinks in the elementary school.

Any bets on how long the mural will stay un-graffitied?
jeudi 25 mars 2010
Ever since moving here, we have been on the lookout for a garage or parking spot for sale. It is a bit easier to find parking in this neighbor than others, but it is still impossible after say 8 pm. Several weekend mornings, when I would much rather NOT be getting up at 7 am to move the car, have had to get up and move the car. Sigh.

Anyway, the problem here is that there just aren't any for sale. Those that have a parking spot/garage hold on to it zealously.

I have email alerts set up on several different websites for parking/garage in this arrondisement.
I usually get about one a month and click on it eagerly, only to be disappointed in that it is a kilometer or so away, or for a 200 m2 space for 200K +.
Last night I received one, Blvd (ours) 14,400€. Hallelujah!

I started calling the agency this morning at 9. As these puppies are rare, you have to jump on the opportunity.
Not open yet. 9:30. Still not open.
10. Finally someone answers!
I eagerly ask where exactly the parking spot is.
(These agencies could filter out about 90% of the calls by just giving more precise information as to where it is located, say, narrowed down to a block instead of just "on blvd X")
He explained where it is, which is unfortunately a bit further than is useful for us. For that price, I want something within about 50 m because we can usually find a parking spot that is only semi-illegal (crosswalks, sidewalks, etc) and for the occasional 35€ ticket it works out to be worth it.

Sigh. Pass.

I gave him our name, phone number, and where we were looking for. Price range?
Well, I don't know, what is the going rate for firstborns lately?
vendredi 19 mars 2010
I seem to be making a habit lately of getting locked out of my apartment in various cities of France.
Last time, our apartment, Marseille, totally not my fault.
This time, my studio, Strasbourg, totally my fault.

The door has three locks, and the middle one you have to have the key to open it, even if it is not locked. (I hate these kind of doors- just begging to get locked out when you say, go get the mail.)

At night, I put the key in the middle lock, lock the door, and leave the key in the lock. This morning, I got ready to go (thinking about my practice test which went okay, thanks), unlocked the locks, went to put on my coat and get my bag, opened the door, walked out, closed the door, OH NO! Yep, had left the key in the lock on the inside.

There was nothing I could do about it at the time, so I went to my class, and quickly sent an email to the owner, telling her I was locked out and could she please stop by and either meet me at the apartment or just leave the keys under the mat or something?
I noted her cellphone number, in case I needed to call her.
By noon, she still had not emailed me, so I borrowed one of my friend's cellphones to call. Yes, I don't have a cellphone. Yes, I know it is highly unusual. I just don't like the things. I don't WANT to be joinable every second of every day. The few times you really need one, you can usually find a payphone nearby or else use someone else's. The human race somehow managed to survive 10,000+ years without them. Anyway.

I called and left a message, leaving my friend's cellphone number. I called back after class and the owner said she could stop by after her work, about 7 pm. Sure great, thank you so much.

Had a conference at 5:30 with a speech that was supposed to last about 45 minutes, followed by another 30 minutes or so alloted for questions. Come 6:50, the questions still weren't finished, so I tried to slip out as unobtrusively as I could. Raced home, found my landlady trying to open the door. No success. As I had left the key in the lock on the other side, we couldn't open it with the spare set of keys from the outside.

We tried to think of ways to get in. Credit card? No luck. Thought about going through the window, but no ladder and don't think that would have been much easier either. My neighbor came home (young college kid) so we asked him if he had anything like a screwdriver or nail file. He said no, but got some plastic cards and a paperclip, and had a go. Couldn't push the key out, couldn't get the latch to slide open. Another neighbor came home (young, college student) and we asked her the same thing. She tried to find something to help, and the two of them worked on it for about twenty minutes.

By this time, my legs were aching (stress and tiredness) and all I wanted was to take a hot bath and crawl in bed. Also had to pack my suitcase, and if possible, study for my second practice test tomorrow morning (5 hours long). I would have given up a long time ago and called a locksmith, but it is hard to suggest such a thing when half the building is trying to fix YOUR mistake, yet you feel bad for them getting bruised knuckles and surely they have SOMETHING better to do on a Friday night?

After about an hour, my neighbor finally managed to get it open! yay! Very glad because didn't have to wait another hour for a locksmith to arrive, and I didn't have to pay the locksmith (which would have been at least 100€). My landlady said she would bring him some eclairs on Sunday afternoon. I would have invited them in, but don't think being invited into my messy studio and being offered Pineapple juice really interested them, as they were both in their early 20's (ah! I'm no longer in my 20's!! ahh!!) and it being a Friday night and all.

Thank goodness. Now only have to remember not to do the same thing when I leave tomorrow....
jeudi 18 mars 2010

On yet another sunny Bretagne day, Alain and I went with his parents to visit the nearby Chateau de Kerjean.

We waited around, enjoying the sun, (it's a joke) then went on the tour. They had a temporary exhibition about festivals in the way-back-when, then we toured the rest of the castle.

All I can say is, seeing the temperature in August, I wouldn't want to live here in January 200 years ago.

The bed? Looks like it sleeps about two right? Wrong! Try cramming four people in there. The tour guide asked us where we thought the baby bassinet was placed. Hmm, on the floor? No. In the trunk? No, quand même. We gave up.
The baby bassinet was suspended by ropes in the lit-clos above everyone. Well, guess they were warm, but maybe a bit stunted in their growth.

We visited the subterranean kitchens, the guard house, the chapels, the dove cote, but decided against touring the grounds.

I don't have much more to say about it. Mainly because it was many moons ago, and also because my brain is too full of French Intellectual Property Law in preparation for my practice test tomorrow, that I can do little more than eat pretzels and wish I was getting a foot rub.

Here's a little bit more about the place (in French only, sorry)

mardi 16 mars 2010
I interrupt my Bretagne series (oh yawn) to talk about how the French can put a truly French spin on something as basic as voting.

Several weeks ago, all the students in my law class were informed that elections would be held to elect the students who would be the student representatives for the school (I guess for the Board of Administration or something like that).
Anyone who wanted to run had to submit their name, and then the rest of the students vote today and tomorrow for the student representatives.

Last week, we received an email with the names of all the students who were presenting themselves for election. There were two lists, List 1 with the names of eight students (only two of which I recognized) and another list, entitled "Les Coulotés". What in the world is a couloté? I looked in several French-English dictionaries and couldn't find any explanations.

Anybody? No?

Oh well. Must be a French thing. I'll find out when I get up to Strasbourg.

Today, we were given two sheets of paper (List 1 and List Les Coulotés) and an envelope to put our ballots in (after going behind the requisite curtain of course).

Each sheet had eight names on it, and it was written 4 candidates and 4 runners-up (suppleants). I couldn't figure out what was supposed to be done. I circle two on each paper? Two in total? Four in total from either paper?

It took four times to explain to me that no, we just choose one sheet of paper. That's it. You don't choose names on each paper, you just decide whether you want List 1 or List Les Coulotés, put the appropriate list in the envelope, show your student ID, sign your name, then drop the envelope in the ballot box (whereupon the person in charge says "A voté!", slides the piece of paper covering the slot so you can put in your envelope, then slides the piece of paper back over the slot.)
Good grief. Why couldn't they just have 1 list with ALL the names, and then you select the ones you want, like most normal democracies?
But instead, you have to choose which list you want, and you are stuck with all the people on that list.

Oh, and Les Coulotés?
Get this- it was a play on the name of the first person on the list- Coulot.

Oh those Funny French!
They get me every time.

Way to confuse the foreigners.
lundi 15 mars 2010

The next day of our trip to Bretagne, we went with Alain's parents to visit the town of Morlaix, about 30 km east of the town we were staying in.

It was not a nice day (see my jeans and white rain jacket/windbreaker? that's pretty much all I wore the entire week. So much for bringing tank tops and shorts.)

Here is the town's official website, with some more pictures


Notice how in all the pictures it is a bright sunshiny day? It must have been the one day a year the sun was shining.

Mayor: it's sunny today! Quick, go take all the pictures for the website!!

We parked and walked around the town a bit, went into the churches, looked for a store selling kouign amann (which, like everything else in Bretagne, is pronounced nothing like it looks- it sounds more like quinaman).

From wikipedia:It is a round crusty cake, made with a dough akin to bread dough with sugar sprinkled between layers. The resulting cake is slowly baked until the butter puffs up the dough (resulting in the layered aspect of it) and the sugar caramelizes. The name derives from the Breton words for cake ("kouign") and butter ("amann"). Kouign amann is a speciality of the town Douarnenez in Finistère, where it originated in 1865.

It's good but, unlike most Bretons, I wouldn't sell my firstborn for one. It being a Monday, most of the stores were closed, so we went home kouignamannless.

Not much to do in Morlaix besides wander around and look at the churches, taking shelter from the rain.

And oh yeah, Alain got strange looks for wearing his ITALIA sweatshirt.

samedi 13 mars 2010
(I'm rather tapped out for new material now, so I am resurrecting my never-completed Bretagne series about our trip to Bretagne in August)

On our third day in Bretagne, Alain's mother, grandmother, Alain, and I went to visit his aunt, uncle, and cousin in a town called Saint-Pol-de-Léon (Kastell Paol in Breton).

His aunt and uncle came to our wedding, but not his cousin, so this was the first time I had met her. His uncle had one week left before retiring (at the ripe old age of 50) from the SNCF. They had bought an old maison du village a few years ago, renovating it and planning to move there from Chartres when he retired. It was a really cute old stone house with three levels.

We spent the afternoon with them, drinking tea and coffee and eating pastries.

Saint Pol: 7,500 inhabitants, capital of artichokes and cabbages.

That is certainly true. Passing some fields of artichokes, I figured that it must be the crop for the entire world. Surely there cannot be that many people in the world who like artichokes? What a funny looking plant.

Apparently the town is named after an evangelist Pol-Aurélien who established a large monastery in the 6th century.
samedi 6 mars 2010
Was studying my Code de la Propriété Intellectuelle law book, which contains all the laws in France relating to Intellectual property- patents, trademarks, copyright, etc.
Was looking through the index for "Licencié" and found "Lingerie".
Hmm, interesting. Not really sure what Lingerie has to do with intellectual property.
Let's see, shall we?

- Industrie saisonnière L. 112-2

(Including only the English translation here)

(Act No. 94-361 of 10 May 1994 art. 2 Official Journal of 11 May 1994)
The following, in particular, shall be considered works of the mind within the meaning of this Code:
1°.books, pamphlets and other literary, artistic and scientific writings;
2°.lectures, addresses, sermons, pleadings and other works of such nature;
3°.dramatic or dramatico-musical works;
4°.choreographic works, circus acts and feats and dumb-show works, the acting form of which is set down in writing or in other manner;
5°.musical compositions with or without words;
6°.cinematographic works and other works consisting of sequences of moving images, with or without sound, together referred to as audiovisual works;
7°.works of drawing, painting, architecture, sculpture, engraving and lithography;
8°.graphical and typographical works;
9°.photographic works and works produced by techniques analogous to photography;
10°.works of applied art;
11°.illustrations, geographical maps;
12°.plans, sketches and three-dimensional works relative to geography, topography, architecture and science;
13°.software, including the preparatory design material;
14°.creations of the seasonal industries of dress and articles of fashion. Industries which, by reason of the demands of fashion, frequently renew the form of their products, particularly the making of dresses, furs, underwear, embroidery, fashion, shoes, gloves, leather goods, the manufacture of fabrics of striking novelty or of special use in high fashion dressmaking, the products of manufacturers of articles of fashion and of footwear and the manufacture of fabrics for upholstery shall be deemed to be seasonal industries.

Well gee, sure glad they spelled that out.

Let's check out other national legislation for references to intellectual property protection of underwear, shall we?

Occurences in the US Federal Code : 0
Occurences in the European Patent Convention: 0

Only the French.

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