Archive | February, 2013

Le Royaume

27 Feb

I have a French test and a Chinese translation due tomorrow. My brain is fried and it’s been a long day, so have an adorable video. (It’s relevant because Gobelins is an animation school in Paris.) Also, it’s really cute.

I’m going on a mini-hiatus; I’ll probably be back next Wednesday with new and possibly interesting things. Until then, be good internet people.



25 Feb

Over the weekend, I watched “Up in the Air” for the first time with my host family. It was a good movie and I found it fairly thought provoking in a number of ways. Like, “okay, I know I’m probably nowhere near 10 million miles, but I wonder how many I’ve flown?” (Answer: uh, I dunno? I don’t keep count, but I’ve done a fair amount of flying in my life.) More importantly, I kept thinking about George Clooney’s character’s spiel about things. Continue reading

Our New Feline Overlords

22 Feb

I could be talking about all sorts of interesting or fascinating subjects, but this is a Team Cat blog and frankly, this is too awesome to not pass on. Apparently, there’s a train station in Japan that is run by a cat.

Meet Tama. She’s the station manager and operating officer of the Kishi Station in Kinokawa, Japan.

 TamaPhoto by Anthonation, Wikipedia Commons.

In 2006, the Wakayama Electric Rail company decided to make all their stations on the Kishigawa line automated. They originally picked station managers from local workers who could keep an eye on things. Toshiko Koyama was the first manger and she fed the local strays at the stop, including Tama. In 2007, Tama was officially named as the station manager. Tama gets paid in free cat food and gets to wear a funny little hat. Since then, she’s risen in the ranks and is currently “the only female in a managerial position within the company”, which is less funny and more sad. Hey, let’s look at her in a funny hat to make us feel better about entrenched sexism in the workplace!

tama 2013Tama wishes everyone a great 2013 in this photo from the official Kishigawa Line blog.

I for one cannot wait until increased automation allows us to name household pets as transportation workers in the US. One can only imagine that Mr. Snuffles would be a better manager of the LIRR.


BB Brunes

20 Feb

Today in French music, I bring you more offerings of pop rock. BB Brunes is a fairly popular rock band with a couple of singles in heavy rotation on the radio. This first one, “Coups et blessures” is probably the one I know best. It’s fairly peppy with a weird music video, which is par for course for French music today.

Continue reading


18 Feb

Over the weekend, I visited the Musee de l’Orangerie with a friend. The museum was built specifically to house the Nymphéas, eight of Claude Monet’s water lilies paintings. There are two oval rooms and the paintings are affixed directly to the walls. One of the larger paintings, Le matin aux saules, measures 2 meters by 100 meters. Frankly, it’s kind of stunning to just walk in and see the vast expanse of paint on the walls.

I don’t have anything to show you all as taking photos was forbidden. Probably a good idea on their part. However, the Musee de l’Orangerie has a virtual tour on their website and panorama shots of each painting. I’d suggest heading over there to take a gander at the grandeur. I really enjoyed sitting and just looking at the colors; I’ve always loved Monet ever since “Art on a Cart” in elementary school, so seeing his work in person was really gratifying.

“To My Old Master”

15 Feb

In honor of Black History Month, I’d like to bring your attention to the awesome Jourdan Anderson. I first read his letter over at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ place during one of his Civil War posts. It’s stayed with me ever since then as a crowning letter of awesome.

For your personal edification:

Dayton, Ohio, August 7, 1865

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter and was glad to find you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Col. Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance. Continue reading

Teacher’s Strike in Paris

13 Feb

Yesterday, elementary schools across all of Paris were closed due to a massive teachers strike. Teachers are angry about the new educational reforms and aren’t afraid to show it. It’s super refreshing, by the way, that not a single talking head has had a “won’t anyone think of the children?” moment and it’s just accepted that of course teachers have a right to strike. For some reason, this reminds me of my hometown, where the teachers were not legally allowed to go on strike. Their complaints about not having a contract dragged on for years and years. If they had been able to do more than picket the drop-off line before class, they might have actually gotten shit done. But I digress.

Teachers overwhelmingly supported Francois Hollande in last years election, so it’s a little unusual to see him alienate them. Everyone agrees that France needs some sort of educational reform and Hollande campaigned on educational reform and increasing the school budget. The new proposed reforms would add a half-day on Wednesdays and reduced class time for the rest of the week. However, the mayor’s plan was to lengthen the lunch break by an hour in order to comply with the reform but so that school would let out at the same time. Teachers would be required to remain at their posts for that hour without compensation. Nothing like being asked to work for free to make you really, really irritated.

The teacher’s union has complained loudly about the proposed reforms, saying that the government should be lowering class size and increasing the number of special ed classes for children with learning difficulties. These reforms have nothing to do with improving education for the kids – the half-day on Wednesday would be reserved for cultural and sports activities. The strike has widespread support, so this might spread to outside of Paris if the Socialist-led government doesn’t listen. I’m with the teachers on this one.