The last one date

Today is a special day in the story of my life: 4 years ago today, I went sailing in the New York harbor with a guy I had met only once, 4 weeks before and by the end of that sailing trip, I decided it would not be our last date. Luckily for me, he had come to the same conclusion (note: 4 hours solid on a boat with someone you don't know can understandably raise anxiety in some individuals, but one has to take risks if you ask me - and the New York harbor's view from a sailboat is well worth it ;).

While technically it was not our first real 'date', we have defined this was as our anniversary as it was the day we made a first step towards each others and towards the idea of forming a relationship (for the record: it was just an afternoon date). I think in each relationship, the concept of 'first date' and what you define as being THAT day vs another greatly varies. Understandably, the second date for most couples might not mean much while it was enough for us to consider it as something (I suspect it to be highly related to the fact we are both European and do not get the dating game as well as our American counterparts). 

Looking back now, I also remember our first date very clearly, and with a certain nostalgia, as it was somehow, my last first date. It sounds a little dramatic to say that (I still consider myself young, although I cannot figure out Snapchat) but this is somewhat what you wish for when deciding to marry someone, or more simply when you meet the person you consider spending the rest of your life with. Earlier this week, a friend of mine commented on the fact we live in a society where we are highly driven by the outcome, more than the process. Since, I look at the dating scene and my single friends with a very different perspective. They are living a process and a status I enjoyed but probably not enough. As once you have spent that last first date (which remains a mystery and will actually BECOME the last one only retro-actively), you are getting yourself into a totally different mindset to keep that relationship alive. But again, here as well it is all about the process, not about the outcome. 

One last random thought to wrap up this rather de-constructed post: in a city like New York where there are so many single people and yet dating can be a very complex experience, it takes only one: one date, one person, deal. I appreciate how fortunate I am to have met the one in question but if I did, and so many people do enjoy the process of being in relationships for a while, it can happen to anyone. Speaking of which, my one is waiting for me to drink some Champagne. :)

Tasty question

Hey New Yorkers! It is steamy hot in NYC BUT it is restaurant week! So how about a cocktail and a 3 course dinner for $40 in a properly cooled off and fancy restaurant?

I must admit being a big fan of restaurant week and try to go at least to 3 different restaurants during the 2 weeks it lasts, regardless of the season. But comes the question: what to eat? 

There are places where the choice is obvious - but in some other places where everything looks so nice, I have trouble making up my mind. So what to choose?

When this happens, I often ask the waiter or waitress what is their recommendation or, to be more precise what they recommend between two dishes I like on paper. It is a bit risky indeed when I consider that I have no idea whether this person has similar tastes to mine (or not), and let's be honest: it is a hit or miss. So I started thinking of what would be the best question to ask the waiter or waitress to figure out whether our tastes buds are somewhat 'compatible'. 

Taking an example: I went last night to a nice French restaurant in Soho. I started off with a chilled cucumber soup with smoked salmon that was delightful - but then followed the waiter's advice for both main and dessert - and this time it was sadly a miss.  The main I had was a crispy skate with lentils: beautifully executed and flavorful but too sweet for my taste - as I tend not to like sweet and savory mixes (valid in cocktails, food, you name it). The alternative I had in mind was a tomatoes risotto that looked exquisite when it arrived on the table next to us and Murphy's law striking once more: the same table was a party of two: the risotto lady finished her dish in no time - while the skate lady left half of the fish in her plate (the point I am making is that I was not the only one having made the wrong decision ;)

Same idea with the dessert: I had the chocolate bonbon ice cream while it was too chocolaty for me (or was it too much sweetness after the crispy skate and I should have skipped the dessert all together?)

So what should have I asked this waiter to simply figure he had tastes too different from mine?

Would there be one question that could define tastes overall that I could safely ask someone and be able to make a judgement call on their recommendations?

The question to ask that immediately comes to my mind is "chocolate or vanilla ice cream?". For some reasons, these are the two most 'opposite' tastes that come to mind and for which I feel very strongly about. I am a 'vanilla' type of gal while the waiter was surely a 'chocolate' guy. Also most likely sweet and savory lover than not - which can explain the fact last night's experience was mildly pleasant while I can clearly recognize it had nothing to do with the chef's menu and the staff's culinary skills (both excellent).

If anyone knows of any studies made around the topic of taste for this very first-world-country problem, please, hit me up as I would like to know more about it: culturally, socially or family defined? Gender-related? As on the latter, my husband and I have very similar tastes on a lot of things (particularly on sweets) and both being Europeans, we simply do not understand the concept of PB&J (there is actually no peanut butter at home). In the meantime, he is Nordic and his idea of a childhood snack involves pickles and herrings while me being French, it inevitably leans towards chocolate croissants. 

Dessert I had in the TV tower in Tallinn, Estonia recently - needless to say I could not pick anything as I do not understand Estonian but my husband picked it for me - Delicious!

13 Tips for eloping in the city you live in

My husband and I have both left Germany and France, our respective countries over 10 years ago. So when we decided to get married earlier this year, it was rather obvious to us to tie the knot in the city we met and call home: Brooklyn. Besides, between our two countries, picking one over the other would have been a fairly political decision that would not have been fair on any family.

Then the timeframe: considering my parents and siblings associated with their respective offsprings, we are 14 of us (counting in myself and husband). Finding a date was a matter of working around everyone's holiday schedule, which would have likely pushed the date to the summer time when the New York weather can get humid and really hot - not the ideal holiday for a lot of people. On top of this, they would have had to take time off, pay for flights, accommodation and so on - some would have made it and some others not. And neither my husband nor I really wanted a wedding with only partial attendance due to a bad or selfish decision on our part.

So we went for the snobbish version of a wedding: just the two of us: an 'elopement' in the city we live in. And since we were not tied to a date/season or any dates to be convenient to any guests, we picked a Tuesday (hoping the Court House would be empty but we were awfully wrong), and got married on March 24th this year. 

The advantage of having chosen a low-key-wedding was the little stress that was upon us on our Big Day (or even before for that matter). The downside is: nobody is around to remind you of what you should be doing or help you with tiny decisions you may have to make. A few observations/recos though for anyone thinking about tying the knot away from everyone: 

  1. Make a list: even if you are going to have a small wedding. Go online and take one to-do list for a more traditional wedding: remove all tasks that are not relevant to you and assign a few tasks to your groom (I picked booking a restaurant and getting bridal underwear - two things he is excellent at). 
  2. Pick a theme, a color, a font - and scope what you want to do for your wedding. Even if your wedding will be a private and small event, this is no reason to overlook details. You will surely hear comments such as 'why do you need a photographer as it will be only the 2 of you?' (hello mum!). It does not matter - if all goes well, you will marry only once in your life, so make it special, romantic or even cheesy if you want. 
  3. If like me, you are an expat: consider how your marriage will be recognized in your home country (if at all) and start doing the paperwork. If you plan on staying in your adoptive country for the rest of your life, it might not matter but if for any reasons you may want to move back, better doing it earlier rather than later. The law in your home country might be slightly different from where you are getting married so make sure it will be acceptable ahead of time (for instance, 1 witness in the USA is enough while getting married in France requires 2 but it seems to be ok). For France, getting your paperwork before your wedding makes it slightly simpler than after - FYI.
  4. If you want to get a pre-nup - also do it ASAP so it is out of the way.
  5. Don't be scared by others' points of view. Especially the family. Super liberal, open-minded parents may all of the sudden be very attached to the tradition of the bride's parents' hosting the wedding. Keep in mind that in these circumstances, whatever the choice you will make, someone will criticize - even if your decision prevents everyone from getting bankrupt. 
  6. Even if friends and family will not be around that day, and there will be no invites, think of how you want to communicate about your wedding. We were pretty straight forward about our choice with family and friends and everyone was very happy for us regardless as a wedding remains a celebration of love. We picked very nice cards with flower seeds in and sent 'Thank you' cards along with a little picture of our wedding day. The feedback we received was very positive (and our card even got exhibited in Estonia!). It is very nice to know that now, flowers are blossoming across the world for us (yeah, that's really cheesy!)
  7. Budget it: in America, like anywhere else, some brides have an unlimited budget and some have a small budget. If you belong to the latter, stick to your guns and keep in mind: as soon as the adjective  'bridal' is attached to any words, it doubles/triples the price - especially in New York City. Allocate the amount you think is fair to spend and stick to it (FYI - my budget was $200 max for the dress and with hair, make up, jewelry etc, I ended up with $600 all together. So you can do it!)
  8. Don't be intimidated by other brides' fans - AKA it is totally ok to go on your own to try dresses on and say that you will NOT have any bridesmaids. But please note, it will not be the norm. One reco: do NOT go on weekends when armies of mothers, godmothers, grandmothers, brides maids, sisters, cousins etc will join the bride to make this experience a nightmare for everyone around (laughters, tears, loud music and worst of all - Facetime with other women of the family who could not make it). Even if my family would have been around, I think I would have still gone alone - as after all, the dress should be for yourself and your groom. Nobody else. And from my experience of asking people's point of view around (friends, colleagues etc), everyone has an opinion mostly based on what they would pick for themselves. Not you.
  9. Go online: After several attempts in bridal stores, I actually ended up ordering several dresses online and tried them at home. I took pictures (I felt like a 15-year-old taking selfies) and sent them to a dear friend of mine (only 1) who works in fashion. His choice was immediate and clear - and it helped me feeling confident I was keeping the right dress. 
  10. Try: trials are for 'trying' - set aside a little budget for things you know you can be sensitive about and pay for a trial. For me it was make up. I did pay for a trial and when seing the result, I decided I would be super stressed out by having this person take care of my face. So I politely told him I had decided to do my own make up. It is not an easy one but after all, not only it saved me money but also time (one less thing to fit into my schedule and I did my make up once I was feeling ready for it). 
  11. Photographer: pick one, even if you are getting married at the Court House wearing jeans! On good and bad days, for years and hopefully decades to come, it will be the day you will remember as your wedding day - so get a professional photographer to capture that special moment.
  12. Through all the decisions you may have to make alone, and your future husband sometimes not seing the point of all this fuss, you may feel a little shaky and regret your family is not around to support you - and that's ok. In the meantime, remember that as much of an emotional support your family may be, you may need emotional support BECAUSE they are around and not having to entertain anyone the day before your wedding day is priceless. If you are scared of feeling gloomy a few days before your wedding, ask a bunch of great girlfriend to organize you a bachelorette party (and mine was memorable!). You will feel loved and special and have great sets of ears to listen to your bridal stories.
  13. Lastly, the days goes so fast, do what you really like to do. I got myself a private yoga class with my favorite teacher and that helped me start the day the best way possible. I felt relaxed, happy and more than anything... ready to get married.

List of vendors:

Photographer: Agaton Strom - http://agatonstrom.com/

Dress: Asos - us.asos.com 

Jacket: my-tribe.net at Century 21

Shoes: Alfani for Macy's - www1.macys.com

Earrings: Everli - http://www.everlijewelry.com/

Bracelet: Tiffany & Co

Hair: Shannon for Foxy Salon - http://www.foxysalonnyc.com/

Wedding ring: custom made Cobalt and Bog Oak rings by Wedgewood ring - http://www.wedgewoodrings.com/ 

Same, same, but different.

Most decisions will affect our lives, short or long term - on the latter: picking a subject at university, doing one more year of studying, accepting a first job, starting a family etc. Interestingly enough, in my early twenties, I was probably not mature enough to measure all the consequences of these important decisions and at times, made rather poor choices - and if not poor, irrationalBut out of all those decisions, I made an unusual one, compared to most of my counterparts back then: I decided to leave Paris and move to London. Yesterday was actually the 10th anniversary of that move - the 10th anniversary of what I consider being the best decision I ever made. 

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Cough Cough

Did I already complain about inefficient targeted ads? I think I did, yes. Yet, another one today. Not precisely about the advertisement itself but about a new product in particular that I do not really know what to think of (or know too well). 

Where did I see it? Facebook obviously. This unfortunate network where I hardly ever post anything has too few information about me that the ads sold for my lovely attention are downright boring and inefficient. As I am a white women of 33 years old (yes, skin color matters to marketers apparently), living in NY, and quite possibly in a relationship (in spite of a lack of official info on the latter, they can see pictures of me with the same guy over and over again), the ads I get are the most generic possible: clothes, jewelry, home design - engagement rings on occasion. 

And on the chapter of jewelry, a new brand (that I'd rather not mention, no need to advertise it - although it is a homophone-ish of the title) has recently launched, using the same technology developed by fitness brands to track your performance 24/7 (even in bed?!). Not only did they manage to make the product itself look nicer so that women are more likely to buy it - smart ass they are indeed, they have also enhanced it with two additional features that tend to scare me: 

- directly linked to your mobile device, the bracelet/ring vibrates when your phone rings in your handbag and you cannot hear it (on the online trailer, one can appreciate the cliche of the busy woman chatting with her girlfriends not being able to hear her phone left in her handbag).

- directly linked to your friends and family so you can call them when being endangered/harassed by some weirdo in the street. 

First of all, has anyone in the company marketing this product ever thought of the possible extension of use and abuse of such a device? And in the team responsible for the creative, could they have been even further on the cliche of women being:

1- brainless hens cackling with their girlfriends rather than being obsessed by answering their phones (to me it very much looks like the mobile device then becomes an alienating tool)

2- fragile creatures that need monitoring devices at all time to help them get out of the tricky situations they get themselves into (the trailer shows the lady jogging under a dark bridge in Central Park - classic!). On this one, .it seems to me like once again, we are creating devices to give excuses to men who should be educated in the first place that harassing women is not acceptable. I would not be surprised if in a few years, if this product takes off, the victim of a rape could easily be accused of being irresponsible for not wearing such a device (please do check the pricing point, and you will understand that once again, safety is closely related to the size of your wallet).

Lastly, the name itself. On top of an arguably good looking product (while it is meant to be) and a poor marketing introduction through its website and trailer, WHO could possibly think that such a name could work and not send clear hints on the ultimate usage of this device? To both the wearer and the person purchasing it (supposedly 'partner'), the word itself just put you to jail. How worse could that possibly get? 

Geolocalize me

Working in advertisement means you very often get to check out brands you probably never would because of your job. While checking a client's website is the basic of meeting prep, when working in marketing, the brand your clients want you to work on can be ANYTHING: from men's grooming products to computer microchips, from organic pet food to an international airline. Where I want to go in this is how consequently, my newsfeed and other targeted marketing such as banners I see when opening up my Facebook page tend to be a mixture of all of these – and mostly of things I do not care about in my personal life. And this is when I start wondering how geolocation and data gathering strategies are working. 

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Philo 2014

Something I like to share and discuss with my counterparts - the philosophy subjects of the Baccalauréat. This exam the majority French people have at around 18 years old is actually mandatory to enter University. Depending of your preferences and abilities, you can choose between 3 domains of speciality that you will get deeper into during the year: sciences, literature or economics and social sciences. But as regardless of the specialty, everyone has to work on every discipline (for instance I did sciences but still had French, History, Geography, English, philosophy etc), the kick off of this week-long exam on the Monday morning (this morning) is common to everyone: philosophy.

4 hours and 2 subjects (plus one text to comment) are being given to students to write a dissertation about a particular subject that immediately get published in the press to give some food for thoughts for the entire nation. To be honest, I did not perform particularly well on this one and having picked Sciences as my main discipline, the philosophy teaching I received was pretty minimum. But I still very much like, as experience grows year by year (alongside white hair) to read the subjects and wonder what could possibly be the response.

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Hard or soft

Quick note about an on-going debate that I find - as a non-native English speaker - rather fascinating and questioning: the whole gif or gif pronunciation debate (with soft or hard G).

Not being bilingual, I obviously searched the sources of pronunciation rules and guidelines in English and it seems that the logical pronunciation should be the 'soft' one, to mirror words such as ginger, or giraffe. But then, what about give, geek, gum or graphic, first word of this acronym? It seems that utilizing the hard G when the letter in question comes prior a vowel is a heritage of the German language - the verb give coming from the German term geben.  Fair enough. 

The thing is, we are facing here an acronym for which pronunciation rules are not clearly defined (especially as gif stands for Graphic Interchange Format - Graphic using a hard G). But then, one year ago, the creator of the gif format himself (Steve Wilhite, link here) clarified that the correct pronunciation should be with soft G as JIF - without a logical rationale behind it. So while investigating, I noticed users are still confused and the debate still rages. As indeed, Mr Wilhite not being a linguist, his view on the matter is not perceived as valid by a lot of people and the lack of rationale behind his point did not help.

My two-cent: as much as I like the concept of giving, I find giraffes cutter so this made up my mind pretty easily. Besides, the soft pronunciation mirrors my mother language so I think unconsciously I tend to go that route.

When asking my better half (German gentlemen - !) he tends to obviously go with the hard pronunciation - arguing that the term graphic being the first word of the acronym does not leave room for arguing , and he has a point. So I think the debate will continue in our house, and will belong to the set of running jokes between our both countries such as Alsace being borrowed by France to Germany etc (on the latter, I reckon Alsace's gastronomy is too good to be German  ;)


Size matters

As any visitor will tell you when travelling through the USA, the proportion of overweight people is indeed higher in North America that in Europe. When taking a closer look, one may easily realize that the food industry lobby paired up with the pharmaceutical one both combine efforts towards that goal. As in spite of the newly recent trend named 'orthorexia' (the obsession of 'healthy eating'), what remains mostly available at an affordable price food-wise here is cheap and fat - easy and even cheaper to produce, which will get us to purchase all sorts of stomach remedies, weight loss pills and so forth afterwards - the correlation between the two being very often overlooked.

Taking the food industry only and the example of the most famous item of the American cuisine, ketchup - there is obviously a rather cunning tendency in the US to sweeten everything. Reading the labels of a can of tomatoes soup for instance, makes me instantly feel like having a sugar rush or needing a good insuline shot while I am not diabetic (to give you an idea, the Wahrolian tomatoe soup has the equivalent of 8 packets of sugar in the whole can).

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Unheimlich

Over the Holidays (I have now switched officially to the American expression), I travelled back to France for the well-celebrated Christmas (as in Europe we are not afraid of being non-politically-correct).

When coming back, especially as it has been 2 years since my last trip to Motherland, I inevitably got the question: How was it? 

When I was in the plane to Paris, I finished a book called 'Limonov' by Emmanuel Carrère (excellent book by the way that I unfortunately cannot find in English on Amazon). Limonov happens to be a real person, Russian-born writer (amongst many other things) who has travelled across the world. At some stage during his biography, the German term 'Unheimlich' comes in. I remember thinking about it for a while afterwards and then forgot. But when I was first asked after landing back in NYC - How was it? - 'Unheimlich' was then the first word that came to my mind. 

Quick explanation on the linguistic aspect of this word: first off, like many other words such as 'Sehnsucht', this term does not have an equivalent in French, and the English version 'uncanny' does not sound quiet accurate to me.

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Chocolate

Like everyone as a child, I was contemplating and longing for the time I would be a grown-up - what I would do, wear, etc. For some reasons, drinking chocolate milk at age 32 was not quiet part of the picture - and yet, I must admit having a little bit of a sweet tooth for this reassuring beverage.

While discussing this with some co-workers today, I realized I was actually a bit of an exception. But maybe not so much. The reason why I think that is that last winter, I remember one morning having stopped by a drugstore to purchase one of these mini-bottles of ready-made chocolate milk to happily sip on my way to work. Right outside the store, as I was waiting for the little man to turn green and cross the street, I looked around without thinking and realized the very well-dressed gentleman standing next to me - also in his late 20's, early 30's was holding the very same bottle. I remember smiling at this funny coincidence and cannot remember if indeed he noticed it as well.

While telling this story, I was told today that this could actually be an interesting TV spot to advertise the brand in question. To be honest, I think probably a lot of adults do still drink chocolate milk every now and again - the fact it is not advertised could therefore be an interesting angle to dig into.

Drink for thoughts

 

Aquatic Note

The advantage of living with a sailor is that from a linguistic prospective, it extends quite dramatically someone's vocabulary. Indeed the maritime vocabulary is as extensive as the deepest ocean (speaking of which, I am not too sure which one it would be) and tends to be rather poetic.

Recently we were watching a documentary about the Vendée Globe where one of the French sailors mentioned 'arriver dans les 40èmes'. Being brought up near the sea and being a linguist myself, the term '40èmes' rung a bell as it refers to the full and pretty expression of '40èmes rugissants'. I obviously could not help check out the equivalent in English which happens to be the exact same expression 'Roaring Forties' and moving even further South (as the reference is valid mainly for the Southern Hemisphere) become the 'Furious Fifties' - while the French equivalent is 'Hurling Fifties' with the expression '50èmes Hurlants'. 

I cannot quiet explain what made these expressions appear in only a few languages as it seems (according to Wikipedia - indeed an arguably reliable source) the second expression exists only in a handful of languages (Catalan, Italian, Polish, Russian and both Chinese scriptures).

Other interesting expression is the 'Horses Latitudes' located around the calm waters surrounding each tropic before it reaches the equator line. Interestingly enough, depending on the language (namely French and English being compared), the explanations offered on Wikipedia differ. To give a little background on the climatic conditions: both zones are rather dry, hot and lack wind – which can have dramatic consequences when sailing. The explanation of the English expression mentions that when the Spanish transported horses by ship to their colonies in the West Indies and Americas, ships often became becalmed in mid-ocean in this latitude, thus severely prolonging the voyage; the resulting water shortages made it impossible for the crew to keep the horses alive, and they would throw the dead or dying animals overboard.

While paraphrasing the French, it basically depicts a similar situation where eventually the crew would kill and eat the horses to prevent starvation. Interesting to observe how each culture (as English-speaking cultures tend to indeed ban horse meat consumption) has adapted the story to their own 'taste'. Food for thought.

Drops

Very anecdotic post today as I got finally time to write again. 

Over the course of my first summer in NYC - I remember having noticed something rather unusual that seems to disappear as years go by - water drops when entering places, shops and other buildings - even when the sky looks and is effectively dry.

As soon as the summer starts in the Big Apple, Air Conditioning units come back at full-speed to refresh heated New Yorkers who tend to dislike heat as much as cold. As everyone knows, the US is not an example of 'Green attitude' and one can see blossoming throughout the city, window AC that while they cool down people's interiors, happily discharge the energy and heat spent in the already warm streets. As any form of engine, it produces water that also need to be evacuated. New units available seem to maintain a pretty efficient way to do so - but that rather delicate system turns out to be the first one to display signs of wear and tear and release water quiet early on in the life cycle of an AC unit. 

This is why, often, while in the city, you enter a store, someone's place, a bar and you get on your forehead quiet unexpectedly drops of water coming from an AC unit a few flights up.  While somewhat efficient at cooling, I tend to always wonder how clean that water can possibly - which make me shiver and run to the first bathroom as soon as I possibly can. 

Speaking of dirt, I created recently a new section in my photography website based on personal work and adventures I finally dare to show. One of them is named 'Pretty dirty' and collects pictures of various elements taken in a dirty, decaying environment. I am still questioning where this will take me but your comments are most welcome.

 

Leibster Awarded

While I was planning to write something about my recent trip, I realized when I logged in a dear friend of mine -  also blogger Mark Lord - http://marktedlord.wordpress.com/ -  tagged me on a post for a Leibster Award. Not a fancy physical award but rather a online viral blogging award, that exists since 2010 and that may help bringing traffic (or not, but after all I do not care that much). Below are the details to get it together - and more so, thank you very much Mark for your continuous support throughout all these years I have been lucky to have you as a friend.

liebsteraward.png

The rules to adhere for the Leibster are:

1. Thank the blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog.

2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions asked by the nominator and post 11 questions to ask your nominees.

3. Display the Leibster Award badge.

4. No tag back

I actually do not read that many blogs around so my own list of nominees will be rather short :)  

Estelle Vonfeldt - http://www.deathofderrick.com/

Roger Kapsi - http://blog.kapsi.de/blog/

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I actually think 11 random facts is a tad too long so I will answer Mark's and pass along the same ones (I am a lazzy cow indeed).

1. What is your earliest lingering memory? - being sitting on my grand'ma's lap while she was watching her old black and white TV. I remember asking her why her TV did not have colors and why she could not walk - I could not quiet figure out back then which one of the two saddened her the most. I was about 3.

2. Is there a person from History you admire more than any other and if so, why do you admire them? Even if not so old and not part of History just yet, I would probably say Benazir Bhutto and Simone Veil. Both politicians I don't necessarily fully agree on the political front but both admirable as they dared to raise their voices in very patriarcal governments at a time when women were not admitted. They both fought for Human Rights in their countries, that obviously included women rights and managed to get their point across in a diplomatic way to help mentalities evolve. There are probably many more but these two come up now.

3. Do you have a hobby that is unrelated to your work? And if so, what is it? - photography. No secret here.

4. How many houses have you lived in, including your current? - 11 and about to move to a 12th soon. 

5. How do you think you might fair on University Challenge? - not bad actually. I used to watch it back in London. Outside of the regular TV related, super pop-culture question, I can do surprisingly well.

6. Is there another time in History you’d like to live ? When would it be and why? - All France-related as this is the history I know the best: French Revolution, the Nouvelle Vague or May 68. All have somewhat a revolutionary flavor and I guess I quiet like the idea of significant change.

7. How long do you spend on the net per day? - given it is part of my job, I would say a good 10 hours if included time at home.

8. If you could run your country, what would be the first act of your Premiership? - what country would be the first question. USA? Ban weapons of all sorts and make it a federal law. France? Get the gay marriage through once and for all and lock up the freaks demonstrating against it for homophobia. I feel quiet ashamed to see that this law has been so difficult to go through and what the reactions have been.

9. Do you have a favourite record? If so, which is it? - The Bend by Radiohead. Best of all times.

10. Who has been the biggest influence on your life so far? - My grand dad. 

11. Why do you blog? - to be read (obviously) and not loose what I write. 

Biblicalism

As part of the Passover and Holy Week - which this year happened on a joyful full moon bringing us Spring weather, a little note related to the industry I work in (for once).

The country I come from happens to be the 'test' market when it comes to literature translation as Frenchies are apparently the most avid readers in Europe - in other words, if a translated book is successful in France, then it means it is worth giving it a try and get it translated in other languages, including English. 

The Bible happens to be the most published book in the world and most translated and shared content as well.

Pairing both concepts, France has a singular approach regarding the translation of the Holy Book. Indeed, in the mid-sixties a translation project started requiring the participation of Holy scriptures specialists of various Christian faiths. Back then, due to a lack of such specialists of the Orthodox Church in a mainly Catholic country, the project got done with both Catholics and Protestants to discuss what would be the most objective approach and interpretation of the Hebraic Bible, Massorah, Septuagin and New Testament all combined and how it should consequently be translated into French. This version that got first published in the mid-seventies (it indeed took nearly one decade to get the job done), officially got named the TOB (Oecumenical Translation of the Bible) and got revised and added content by another set of experts including Orthodox specialists this time round in 2010. Given its revendicated oecumenical nature, this version is not officially recognized by any Christian Church as not fully in tune with either of their interpretations (interestingly so).

One may argue that the New International Version could be considered as an equivalent in English of the TOB as to this day, it remains the most commonly spread version of the Bible (the one you can find in hotels across the US for instance). In some respect, it could be - this project also started around 1965 and given that English speaking countries tend to lean towards a protestant approach (and therefore rather thorough), the list of books and material it refers to is by far longer than the French one. It would also be interesting to note that this version is also regularly discussed by scholars of a few English speaking countries around the globe and collects thoughts from all sorts of branches of protestantism around the world. But one may admit it remains Protestant-lead - therefore somewhat orientated to serve the purpose and interpretation of a certain group of readers and believers.

Given the sensitivity of the content of the most read book in the history of human kind, I find rather strange that no country and nobody from any Christian background, meant to promote understanding, compassion and tolerance can figure a way to agree on a translation of such an influential book. While the War on Terror protagonists tend to point fingers at Islam fundamentalists for having a cunning interpretation of the Quran - to use a rather secular expression: it is the pot calling the kettle black.

As a linguist, I know far too well how subjective the exercice may be and how sensitive people tend to becomes when transferring ideas and words from one language to another. At the end of the day, such disagreements and the complexity of the task allows me to pay my bills. But somewhat this refusal of a common approach and agreement on the translation of the Bible makes me think that the story of the Babel Tower must be far more than just a God's trick on confounding languages - as it goes far beyond that then. To me it seems that humans who got the chance to be literate enough to work on translating the content of the Holy scriptures in one given language cannot even be smart enough to agree on its content based on some logic and rationale understanding of what can be behind a word and set aside for a few moments what they think as being the truth. Besides, for having recently discussed that matter with a friend, Hebrew linguist himself, his consideration was that the modern Hebrew already having a restricted amount of words compared to English or French (many of which with several possible meanings though in its modern version) - there was not that many possible interpretation of the original Hebraic Bible on which the TOB is based on. But as one may say - God works in mysterious ways...

Spoony

A rather light post today as I finished my Spring cleaning. Every year, I must admit being rather astonished by the rather cheeky behavior of spoons. Whether at work or at home, one must admit this little appliances have something somewhat somewhere the cunning tendency to disappear God knows where. Magic tricks? Taste for adventure and travel?  In spite of living by myself yet I cannot possibly explain why every year, when doing my yearly cleaning, I discover a few of then are missing. In our world of disposable goods, I would imagine that spoon's weight being rather light and tiny, one can easily confuse them with a plastic version and throw it in the bin by mistake. Thing is, I never order in and I don't think a plastic spoon ever made it in my kitchen. 

In some respect, I can only imagine there is some sort of alliance between spoons and socks who also tend to divorce without any warning when cleanly paired up in the drawers or abruptly getting separated when about to enter the washing machine.

As you all know my love for animalistic analogy, let's just say that socks actually don't like to be itemized by two, neither spoons enjoy to be part of a herd, tribe, bunch - you name it.

Make Some Noise (Part II)

I reckon each human being has its own library of sounds, voices and other noises that reminds oneself of particular people, events, places (like in fact any type of memory really). As a matter of fact, there is probably nobody in the world who can pretend to know the full range of voice and noises someone else can make as for instance a parent will never know the sound their own child make when experiencing a climax (Thank God... And vice versa) or a lover will never know what was the sound of the voice of their lovers as a child (and vice versa here again).

In a recent post, I was talking about the sounds of a city as the potential soundtrack of a place that each of us develop. And then, I started thinking about my own library of sound, outside of the cityscape - and here are the few I feel comfortable enough sharing as my own soundtracks: the sound of the gong - at the end of a yoga class when played live, the sound of my lover's heartbeat, the sound of the whales that I use as my alarm to wake up every morning. 

Sadly, I recently discovered the sonar testing system used by the US Navy is deeply affecting cetaceous creatures that communicate via sound to find their way, their mates, their cubs in the depth of the ocean. As the Cold Way is no longer in place and that there are very little chances for a marine attack whether of the East or West coasts - sonar testing seems to be a bit of an obsolete technology to test. Especially when one considers its costs in an economical fragile climate and its truly disastrous and lethal consequences on already endangered species such as whales and other dolphins. 

There is obviously not much to add to such a sad discovery. Let's just hope that the recording I have will not become the sound of a no-longer existing animal.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brenda-peterson/killing-with-sound_b_2744864.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

"Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation." - Jean Arp