Where to next?

May 16, 2012

My birthday is coming up in a few months and I am, as usual, thinking of where to go next. Where to next?


jean-dominique bauby’s alphabet

July 31, 2008

I recently watched “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and the movie has intrigued me ever since.

According to the movie, the French alphabet in order of frequency is:




Anyway, are these letters in the correct order? I searched through the good ol’ wiki pages and according to almighty wiki, the French alphabet in order of frequency is:


You be the judge.

And if you’re curious, here’s the English alphabet in order of frequency of occurrence:



Film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly


Paris Plage

July 23, 2008

Since 2002, the City of Paris has turned the banks of the Seine into a summertime “beach oasis.” Mid-July through August, over 2,000 tons of white sand is brought onto the banks from Ile St. Louis to the Jardin des Tuileries for this temporary beach party. August is typically the month when most Parisians hit the road for their summer travels. Chatelet is a good metro stop to get off at to get to the plage. Those who are stuck in the city can be found lounging under the big umbrellas and enjoying free concerts and family activities at Paris Plage. If you really want to fit in, don a wide-brimmed hat and grab your sarong!



Paris Daily Photo

how do you pronounce the french “r”?

July 18, 2008

The letter R is probably the most difficult sound in the French language. I have looked high and low for tips or instructions on how to pronounce it from an English speaker’s point of view. And here’s the best answer I have found so far:

Make the sound in your throat that you would make if you were gargling a liquid, like mouthwash. But without liquid.

Sort of a ghghgh sound…

Source: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071015154025AAucp7r&show=7

what to wear in paris

July 10, 2008

Here are some tips for all you fashion forward travel chicks out there!

Neutrals are Key

If you’re from a climate that sports a lot of florals and bright colors, aim for the subdued approach. You can never go wrong wearing black in Paris – in fact, you’ll notice that this is the color scheme that most of the locals live in. You’ve heard it all before – black is slimming, always in style, and versatile – a flattering black sweater or pants/skirt can be dressed down for daywear and easily spruced up for a night on the town. As a traveler, black has the added benefit of not showing the “wear and tear” of a trip. And if you can’t stand wearing black, try other neutral colors – like beiges, browns, and creams.

Paris is actually quite conservative in dress. So if you go out in bright colors expect to be stared at, especially dressed like so in certain arrondissements such as 9th and 18th where you may attract unwanted attention of an evening.The fading red light district of Pigalle is located in the north of the 9th, closely adjoining Montmartre on the hill above in the 18th, a sort of a red-light district along Boulevard de Clichy near Place Pigalle.

Leave Leisure Wear at Home

Leave your hoodies and matching sweatpants, white tennis shoes, shorts and bright colored nylon windbreakers at home. The comfortable clothes that suburban American women live-in, are not seen on Parisians outside of their homes.

Elisabeth Fourmont of La Coquette, a Parisian fashion blog, says it best, ‘Most countries fetishise styles only young people look good in, whereas in Paris there are interesting women dressing their age. ‘That’s why designers find Paris so inspiring.’ And always, always look neat: ‘There’s a lot you can’t get away with here,’ continues Fourmont. ‘Wearing a tracksuit and flip-flops to the post office is a form of disrespect.’

Bottom line: Dress your age and dress nicely – you’ll be rewarded with better treatment in cafés, shops and restaurants.

Make a Statement with Accessories and Scarves

Don’t over pack with too many outfits. Bring basics that you can mix & match and will travel well and dress up your outfits with accessories – necklaces, earrings and scarves. Scarves are ubiquitous in Paris – Parisian women know they are a quick and easy way to pull an outfit together.

They also make great souvenirs. You can usually purchase a few silk scarves in the season’s hottest colors and patterns (usually, a year ahead of trends in the US) for 5-10 euros at the stands outside the Galleries Lafayette or Printemps.

Wear Comfortable Shoes, Not White Tennis Shoes

Paris is a city made for walking and you’ll be on your feet more than you can imagine. You will see the trendy, flat “puma” like tennis shoes on young Parisians, but if you want to blend in, leave at home your white/tennis running shoes. We know that these shoes are comfortable and built for mileage, but white tennis shows are the tell-tale sign of “American Tourist”. Truthfully, when we see white shoes in a sea of black, we know that it is a fellow American in Paris. Unfortunately, many unsavory types that prey on tourists also know that this is the case. Don’t make yourself an easy mark for pickpockets – leave the white tennis shoes at home.

Invest in shoes designed for walking (Recommended brands are Ecco, Mephisto, or Dansko). One day of climbing steps up monuments and navigating cobblestoned corridors and you’ll understand why these sturdy European brands are so popular among Parisians . Or, wear a pair of flats, loafers or short-heeled boots that have been battle-tested at home for walking.

Jeans are OK

Five years ago, we never saw anyone in Paris wearing jeans except teenagers. Today, denim is a growing Paris trend. Jeans are everywhere – upscale restaurants have even lessened their dress codes to admit designer jean clad customers.

Before you toss your favorite Levi’s in a suitcase, remember that we’re talking about Paris, and the jeans you see on Parisians contain certain stylistic elements – dark, slim fit “skinny jeans”, or slight flare – paired with low-heels or ballet flats for daytime walking and stilettos for going out at night. If your jeans can be described as high-waisted or pleated, you’ll feel more comfortable wearing black pants or a skirt – especially for dining in the evening.

Don’t Worry About Your Hair and Make-Up

A bonus about visiting Paris is that you don’t need to obsess over your hair and make-up. It seems like a contradiction in terms, but Parisian woman tend to favor the “au natural” look more than their American counterparts. Hairstyles are more unstructured and air dried. You’ll see more long hair pulled back into a casual chignon than elaborately straightened and styled like in the US.

Make-up is minimal with an emphasis on glowing skin (visit any French pharmacy and you will be stunned by the amount of products promising “perfect, pore-free, blemish-free radiant” skin). To quote Laura Mercier, the French creator of a line of cosmetics, “French women are not flashy. They must be subtle. The message must not be, ‘I’m spending hours on my face to look beautiful.”

Parisian cosmetologists caution restraint by choosing one area to highlight – shadowed eyes mean neutral or no lipstick, wear lipstick and keep your eyes untouched, and let your natural skin show by wearing minimal foundation and little blush. For an example, pick up a copy of French Elle and be amazed to see unairbrushed models with minimal make-up. So, “embrace your inner beauty” and spend your time exploring Paris instead of styling your hair and making-up your face.

Source: Paris Escapes

what do you think of the new british coins?

April 29, 2008

Do we really need coins anymore? I think making new coins is a waste of money.

unfriendly skies

April 22, 2008

A PBS NewsHour transcript in 1997 contains very good information about CAT, Clear Air Turbulence, or much more simply, “air pockets”. Here are some excerpts:

Since 1981, two people have died in air turbulence incidents, one aboard United Airlines Flight 826, where a 32-year-old Japanese woman suffered a fatal head injury when her body was hurled against the ceiling of the plane.

Early analysis of the aircraft’s flight data recorder showed that the 747 initially rose suddenly, then plunged six seconds later about one hundred feet.

According to ABC News Aviation Specialist John Nance, when dealing with clear air turbulence pilots have almost nothing, except their own analysis and experience of the weather reports, where the tropopause is — the layer between the troposphere and the stratosphere, the temperature changes that they may run into, and indications of high clouds that might tell them that they’re running into or out of a jet stream.

Also according to Nance, severe turbulence or clear air turbulence is an extreme rarity. Moderate turbulence is about as bad as it gets. What pilots try to do is avoid any areas of severe or clear air turbulence. Sometimes they can’t. The only tool they have available is to either change altitude, which is what they normally do (Pilots ask other flights, and/or ask the controller — Is it smoother at 33? Is it smoother at 31? ), or vary the speed, but at high altitude, you don’t have the option of slowing down a lot. So that really leaves them with only the option of changing altitude, or changing course.

So what do you think? Do you think you’re going to buckle up your seat belts next time?

Related Links: http://www.turbulenceforecast.com/

April 22, 2008

Excerpt from Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything:

“At any one moment 1,800 thunderstorms are in progress around the globe — some 40,000 a day. Day and night across the planet every second about a hundred lightning bolts hit the ground. The sky is a lively place.”

“Hi, I’m on a plane.”

April 18, 2008

According to the Associated Press, you can use your cell phone in the skies over Europe later this year under new rules that will allow air travelers to stay in touch starting at 9,800 feet.

But don’t expect to use your phone on a U.S. flight anytime soon. The ban remains in place for all U.S. carriers, including domestic and international flights.

The decision on April 7, 2008 by the European Union makes the 27-nation bloc the first region in the world to scrap bans on the use of cell phones in the sky.

According to Gizmodo, The technical requirements are quite simple.

Cell phone calls will be connected through an onboard base station. The base will relay all calls to a satellite, which will pass them to the ground-based cell network. A flight’s captain will have the power to turn off service anytime.

Phone service will be blocked during takeoff and landing, EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said. That means using your cell phone will fall under roughly the same restrictions as using your laptop or iPod. In Europe, travelers will be allowed to turn on their phones after planes climb past 10,000 feet. That’s when other electronic devices are typically permitted. Captains will also be able to block cell phone service during turbulence.

Meanwhile, travelers are already expressing concern about another kind of disruption — noisy passengers. The friendly skies are one of the last refuges against shrill ringtones and yapping callers.

The new EU rules were welcomed by airlines, some of which, such as Air France-KLM, had already launched a trial of in-flight phone service on some European routes. Dubai-based Emirates Airlines introduced its in-flight phone services on its Dubai-to-Casablanca route but limits the number of calls passengers can make and bars calls during night flights.

German airline Lufthansa said Monday it does not plan to introduce the service because a majority of its customers saw no need. Surveys have shown a large majority of customers against it, Lufthansa spokesman Jan Baerwalde said.

Expect to pay an arm and a leg for this air roaming.

fortune cookie factory on Ross Alley

March 29, 2008

I found these interesting excerpt from The Examiner‘s recently issued free magazine, Bridge to Bridge: Your 2008 neighborhood guide to San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

The mere mention of Chinatown still evokes exotic tales of mystery from San Francisco’s past. The largest Chinese neighborhood outside of China remains a destination that’s filled with surprises among the gift bazaars and elbow-to-elbow sidewalk traffic.

Due to the density of living quarters in Chinatown, Portsmouth Square at Clay and Kearney Streets has long been known as the living room of Chinatown and its social epicenter and, until the practice was banned in all San Francisco parks, as its smoking parlor. But Portsmouth Square is also a mini-museum, with its various monuments to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the location of the first public school in California, and the site where Captain John B. Montgomery of the USS Portsmouth raised the first American flag in San Francisco.

Locals have long since discovered the fortune cookie factory on Ross Alley. They also know that this is the best neighborhood for inexpensive cookware, but even a native San Franciscan may overlook an uncelebrated landmark. A plaque on the wall outside among the wares at 823 Grant Avenue marks the location of the City’s first home. Yerba Buena Island founder William A. Richardson erected a tent dwelling here in 1835 and replaced it with a wooden house the following year.

Chinatown architecture is almost entirely European with Asian-style motifs added liberally. However, an authentic pagoda tops the Bank of Canton building, 743 Washington Street. Chinatown is comprised mainly of two parallel streets, Stockton Street and Grant Avenue. Grant is the oldest street in San Francisco. It was known as Dupont Street before the section from Bush Street to Market Street was renamed in 1876. In 1908, the rest of Dupont became Grant. Even before it was called Dupont, the street was known Calle de la Fundacion, street of the founding.

Chinatown meets the Financial District at Grant Avenue and California Street at Old St. Mary’s church. The biblical inscription on the south face of the church clock was originally directed at patrons of the Barbary Coast brothels that operated across the street. The inscription warns, “Son observe the time and fly from evil.”