samedi 30 octobre 2010
A while ago, I was perusing the Journal Officielle de la République Française.
(Oh what fun was had)
I was struck by the randomness of the items published in one single issue.

Are you ready? Here we go:

Arretes: (Orders)
- fixant le montant de la taxe parafiscale applicable à la betterave destinée à la production de sucre et d'alcool pour la campagne 1988-1989 au profit de l'association nationale pour le développement agricole *anda*
- Fixing the amount of tax applicable to beetroots destined for the production of sugar and alcohol for the year 1988-1989 for the profit of the National Association for Agricultural Development.

- fixant le taux de la taxe parafiscale dans le secteur des conserves de pois
- Fixing the rate of tax in the sector of canned peas

Loi: (Law)
- autorisant l'approbation d'une convention européenne pour la prévention de la torture et des peines ou traitements inhumains ou dégradants
- Authorizing the approval of a European Convention for the prevention of torture and of punishments or treatments that are inhuman or degrading.

- autorisant la ratification de la convention internationale du travail n° 156 concernant l'égalité de chances et de traitement pour les travailleurs des deux sexes : travailleurs ayant des responsabilités familiales (1).
- Authorizing the ratification of the International Convention of Work #156 concerning the equality of chances and of treatment for workers of both sexes, workers having family obligations.

Decret: (Decree)
- réglementant la fabrication et la vente des beurres et de certaines spécialités laitières
- Regulating the fabrication and sale of butter and of certain milk products.

- portant application de l'article L. 214-1 du code de la consommation en ce qui concerne les vinaigres.
- Application of article L.214-1 on the Consumers Code as far as vinegar is concerned.

- portant modification du décret n° 49-580 du 22 avril 1949 relatif au régime d'assurance vieillesse complémentaire des pharmaciens
- Modification of the decree # 49-580 of April 22, 1949 relating to the complementary old-age insurance for pharmacists.
Geez oh flip.
The French Government really concerns itself with the price of beetroots?

It is clear what are the topics nearest and dearest to all French hearts - consumable items and retirement.

Oh, and let's not forget the official Frenchification of certain foreign words.
30 décembre 1988
Want to know how to say "wing fillet" in French?
It is officially, my friends, "raccordement d'aile" according to the arrêté of August 12, 1976.

Do you think the general public gives a hoot about what a wing fillet even is?

Do you think that the Engineers and Technicians are going to use the term "raccordement d'aile" or will they most likely use the term "wing fillet", which is what all the literature mentions, the term that they have to use when speaking with their suppliers in China, their customers in Europe, etc.

Or how about "resonance escape probability"?
The official Frenchification is "facteur antitrappe" in the domain of nuclear engineering. (according to the arrêté of November 30th 1989)

Hooray! I know how to say "resonance escape probability" in French now!
mardi 26 octobre 2010
Crever /kʀəve/transitive verb
1) (percer) to puncture, to burst [pneu, ballon];

2) (épuiser) [travail, chaleur] to wear [sb] out;[patron] to work [sb] into the ground;

3) (mourir) [plante, animal] to die;

Guess which of the above meanings of "crever" I had this morning?

(Well, I suppose as I am writing this, it probably isn't the third)

Yep, one deflated tire.

Started driving to work at my normal time of way too early, and about 500 meters down the road I feel the car start to wobble. I pulled over as soon as I could, got out and checked- yep. Front left tire completely flat. Le Sigh.

I parked it (luckily in a flat parking lot, not halfway off the sidewalk) and walked back. I didn't have the cell phone and was dressed up for work, so I didn't change it myself.

If the flat had happened about ten minutes later I would have been on the highway, so let's be thankful for small things.

(Plus, if I had been on the highway I would have been forced to change it myself)

Walked home, about 15 minutes, which is always fun in the half-light of morning dressed up in a skirt and heels, with truck drivers driving past and trying not to trip over the overflowing trash bins.

Let myself back in. Honey! Guess what???

Managed to pry him out of bed. He got dressed, I changed into something more tire-changing/hauling friendly, and we walked back to the car. He put the spare tire on without too much problems. We decided to leave it there for the moment as it was well-parked (wouldn't get a parking ticket or hauled away) and as we didn't know where we would be taking it, decided to wait until we found a garage. Walked back and stopped by a garage that opened early. It happened to be a garage that does only tires. Score!

Alain spoke to one of the guys and said "Ma femme a crevé ce matin." (which could mean "my wife died this morning" or "my wife got a flat this morning.") Obviously he meant the second, but I teased him and said "Oh thanks dear!"

We brought in the tire, and the vrai Marseillais checked it over. Turns out that the rim was cracked, and I guess the sharp part of the rim damaged the tire.

We bought the car from Alain's parents, and they had had the same problem. They had gotten it repaired, but I guess it hadn't been well-repaired. They put some sort of paste in the cracks, but the cracks just spread.

Anyway, the garage doesn't fix rims, but they recommended we go to their buddy who does. We headed over there, and he said he could fix it, between now and Thursday, for 110€ cash. I guess he will melt the broken area and re-solder it. Then we will take it back to the first garage and have both front tires changed, 240€ total. Sigh.

I stayed home from work today, and Alain got to work about 10:30. This evening we will go to his parents and borrow their second car. They just bought this small little car, and are quite protective of it. They weren't thrilled with the idea of me parking it in Marseille (but what if it gets dented!!??) but when Alain pulled out the "Then I guess she'll just have to go to the central bus station in the center of the city at 6:30 am to get the bus to Aix" argument, they caved.

So now, je suis crevée, j'ai un pneu crevé, mais je n'ai pas encore crevé.

(I'm worn out, I have a flat tire, but I'm not yet dead.)
samedi 23 octobre 2010
As most of you in France probably are aware of, Marseille has (in addition to the transportation and gas strikes) a trash strike going on.
It has been about a week and a half now. It is the longest that I can remember (of all the yearly trash strikes, most of which occur in summer, have only lasted about a week).

The trash cans are overflowing of course, so now valuable parking space is being lost to trash, as well as impromptu trash bag areas springing up. People just place their trash bag somewhere on the sidewalk (where there is no trash can) and others are placed around it. These trash bags, from being left out in the element, plus probably pulled apart by dogs, trash pickers, and being run over by cars, are spilling their contents all over the place.

So the streets themselves, which are even in good times not the neatest, are now completely covered with trash bags and contents from opened bags that have flown away. Plus the usual Marseillais attitude of 'I have something to throw away at this very instant. There is no trash can nearby and I can't actually be expected to keep it with me until I pass a trash can or get home, so I'll just throw it right here.'

I don't know the strike will be over, but even after they are over it takes a week or so for the trash collectors to pick up the slack.
A few days ago the Army was called in, and some 100 soldiers or so spent the day shoveling trash in the main tourist areas.

Guess who is going to be told to royally get lost when they come around knocking on doors looking for a Christmas bonus this year?!!
(Hint, it's not the postman)

I didn't post any pictures because its just way too depressing.
samedi 16 octobre 2010
Recently read an article in the daily free newspaper about a new idea from your favorite and mine, l'Etat Français. "Mariage blanc" is a "green-card wedding" wherein both parties are fully aware that the marriage is so that one can get residency papers.

The new no-no is "mariage gris" wherein the French person thinks that it is for real, and the foreigner is doing it just to get residency. The new law has been voted and would punish the foreign by up to 7 years in prison and 30,000€ fine. Good grief! They don't even give those sorts of prison terms for murder!

For "mariage blanc" the current penalty seems to be 5 years in prison and 15,000€ fine. (for one or both parties, not specified in the article)
The government says that it is "en faveur des victimes d'escroquerie sentimentale" (victims of emotional fraud.)

Example questions that a mixed couple will have to answer:
Date and circumstances of meeting
Whose idea it was to get married
Amount of knowledge of the language and culture of the partner
Dates and places of vacations spent together
Future plans as a couple
Familiarity of the partner (address, telephone number, etc.)

Yeah. Good luck asking Alain all that.
When and where did you meet? Um, awhile ago in the US.
Whose idea was it to get married? Definitely hers.
Dates and places of vacations spent together? Um, we went to the US a few times, I'm not really sure when.
Future plans? Um, not get divorced?
Her birthday and middle name? I forget my own middle name and birthday, how do you expect me to remember hers? (Seriously, he has asked me "Is my middle name Francis Jean-Louis or Jean-Louis Francis?" "Francis Jean-Louis dear." "What day was I born?" "(month) (day) (year) dear.")

Good god, I have no hope. I'm gonna be deported or thrown into a French prison!

There are some voices against it, mainly saying that it is unconstitutional because it targets a certain sector of the population, that it is difficult if not impossible to prove someone's feelings, that the French half of the couple would have much more power over their spouse (Do this or I will denounce you to the Prefecture), and that it is not an obligation in the Code Civil that a couple must be in love to get married.

The proposed law still has to be voted by the Senate, and then approved by the Constitutional Commission.

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