Archive for: ‘December 2006’

Friday Fantasy – What was under my Christmas tree

December 29, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

So, I came downstairs Christmas morning and there was this huge box. I mean like big enough for me to fit in big. No, bigger. It didn’t even fit under the tree. So I riped off the bow and tore into the wrapping paper and look at what it was! Life size toy dolls!

Photo credit: So Slowly

Holy cow! None of my dolls looked like this when I was a little girl. Santa was really good to me this year. I must have been a very good little girl. Imagine the hours of fun I will have playing with these dolls. No batteries are needed either!

Boat Shmoat, We’re Going to Paris – Part 5

December 26, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

So, travel plans were made. We would go to Paris for a week, leaving on Sunday March 16th and returning on Sunday March 23rd. Our hotel was arranged, and interviews set up for me and Sean (to help him find employment). The vice president of Intercontinental Clinical Research, Dr. P, whom I had known and worked with for years, invited me to dine with him and his wife at a restaurant in Paris since they would be there too. His wife just happened to be Parisian. Sean and I were too excited for words about the whole trip.

Finally the day arrived and we were all packed and waiting for the car to get us and take us to John. F Kennedy International Airport, which is about 2 hours drive away from our home. The car came right on time and we loaded our bags with the driver’s assistance. Sean had traveled with me on domestic business before, but had always paid his own way. Now, we were leaving on foreign business and the company was paying his way in full. I felt that it really demonstrated the company’s commitment to me and to this assignment. I really felt the pressure to do my best.

We arrived at JFK with plenty of time to make our flight. We were flying coach, because there were two of us. If I had been going alone, it would have been first or business class. The flight took off around 7:00 pm and dinner was served later. I was just too excited too sleep and could not get comfortable. I don’t do well when I can’t sleep. Then there is the jet lag of going to Europe from the US which totally sucks.

We landed at Orly, just outside of Paris, at 8:20 am and it was gray and overcast. Orly Airport struck me as a bit crowded and claustrophobic.

We collected our things from the baggage claim area and headed out to the taxi stand. This was the acid test: would my massively unused French carry the day? I had studied French for 3 years in high school and one semester in college but it was so many years ago. I haltingly was able to communicate with the cab driver, but believe me; he made no extra effort to understand me. He did seem pleased, however, with my efforts to speak his language. I was glad that I had the hotel address written down to hand to him. The area around Orly was your typical urban sprawl: apartment buildings, small companies, gas stations, etc. It was very depressing. Or maybe it was because of the jetlag. Finally we got into Paris proper and to our hotel. We paid the driver and he seemed pleased as he helped unload our luggage. The hotel was off of the Avenue Charles de Gaulle near the Palais des Congres de Paris. Our room was not ready, but we anticipated this since it was very early, so we checked in and left our luggage there and struck out for breakfast IN PARIS!

It was just dawning on us that we were together in Paris and we had the whole day together by ourselves to do as we pleased on the company’s dime. We began by walking down the Av. Charles de Gaulle, towards the Arc de Triomphe and we didn’t have to go far before we spotted a café. We sat at one of the tables in the glassed in area and waited for the server while we looked at the menus which were in French. We were sure we wanted coffee and ordered that and were very pleasantly surprised with the quality and presentation. It was a heavenly dark and aromatic blend and was served with a tiny bar of dark chocolate on the side and a stick of crystalline sugar too. Heaven! Sean ordered a croissant with ham and melted brie inside and I ordered a salade niçiose. You know, when in France, do like the French. Of course, the food was fabulous.

Click on any photo to enlarge

Reenergized, we hit the streets again. We continued in the same direction on what was now the Avenue de la Grande Armée, towards the Arc de Triomphe. We proceeded slowly, examining everything in shop windows, and the shops themselves. Finally, we made it to the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc is in the middle of a busy traffic circle and you have to take your life in your hands to get to it. I had been there in 1965 as a little girl and remembered it well. Back then they let you climb up the stairs inside to get on top of it and look out at all of Paris with the streets going out like spokes from a wheel.

It is said that Napoleon did this so that he could see his enemies coming from any direction. But now the top was not open. Sean and I walked around the Arc and admired its neoclassical roman architecture. This was certainly a place of power, just like the St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The Arc is 51 meters tall (165 feet) and 45 meters wide, construction was completed in 1836 and it is the second biggest Triumphal Arch in the world.

Click on photo to enlarge

Underneath it is the tomb of the unknown French soldier from World War I, placed there in 1920. There is an eternal flame for him and when President and Mrs. Kennedy visited, they noted the flame. After President Kennedy was assassinated, Jackie remembered the eternal flame and asked that her husband’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery have one. Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport fighter through the Arc de Triomphe in 1919 three weeks after the WWI victory parade. He did it as a salute to all the airmen killed in World War One. Now that must have been something to see!

We had to choose a direction to move on, but there were so many choices. So, we decided to walk down Avenue George V, towards the Seine. George V is supposedly the most chic shopping area in Paris, so we ogled the store windows the whole way down to the Seine. We went into some of the clothing design shops for a hoot and looked at the prices, which at that time were in francs, since 1997 was before the euro. You had to either laugh or cry at the prices, they were so ridiculously high. Nice threads, though. There was this one scarf…

The corner building at the Arc and Av. George V

Next time: we ride the Bateaux Mouches!

Friday Fantasy – Speed Skaters

December 22, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

So I was skating at my usual boring rink the other day when a several speed skaters blew by me. They were skating in a line to best use their slip stream. You would not belive how fast these guys go! Afterwards, I got to talking to them and invited them back to my house. They followed me home and were really friendly and somehow I coaxed them all out of their clothes!!! Let me introduce:

Dennis Kalker from the Netherlands,

Dmitri Deboel from Belgium,

Jan Bos from the Netherlands,

Sebastian Falk from Sweden,

and last, but not least, Kip Carpenter from the United States. Wasn’t it nice of them all to strip and pose for me? Don’t ask how I got them to do it. Since Kip was the only one who spoke English fluently I found out that he is 5’10″ and was the 2002 500 meter Bronze Olympic Medalist. Good going Kip!!! Hence the tattoo.

He also owns an Italian Greyhound that he named “Swift”. Isn’t Swift cute?


Kip’s favorite movies are Fight Club, Interview with a Vampire, Minority Report, and The Matrix. I think I have a bit of a crush on Kip now. But, you have to trust me. With all these fit, hot naked young men at my house, nothing out of sorts happened. I did not lay a finger on any of them. You do trust me, don’t you?

Boat Shmoat, We’re Going to Paris – Part 4

December 20, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

When I got home, Sean was at the dining room table reading the paper. Without saying anything, I handed him the two sheets of paper describing the job I had just applied for. He looked at it and grinned and said, “Did you apply for this?”

Timidly I replied, “Yes. I was worried that you wouldn’t want to move because of Summer Camp.”

He said, “BOAT SHMOAT, WE’RE GOING TO PARIS!”

He stood and we did a little happy dance together, while we giggled with glee. He told me that he didn’t see how anybody could beat me out of getting this job. We chanted together, “We’re going to Paris, we’re going to Paris…”

So, back at work I waited for word on my application. Time passes so slowly at big companies. They move like molasses. When I am waiting like this I think about outside candidates who are waiting to hear from us and don’t understand why it takes so long and eventually give up hope. Bureaucracy is a deadly thing. But, eventually I got a call to come to New Jersey for an interview with Ms. S of Human Resources. I took the train there to make my appointment with her.

She met me and she had the most wondrously manicured nails, which I complemented her on. She became Ms. S of the manicured nails. She acted like the cat that ate the cream as she showed me into her office and treated me like royalty. She explained that if I got the job I would get the full ex-patriot package that would include a car, sizeable salary increase that may even cover my husband’s salary, money to cover my mortgage at home and help for my husband to find employment. I would be flown to Paris with my husband to go house hunting (in Paris, eep!) where a real estate agent would accompany us, and we would meet with a lawyer to begin work on my work visa, plus my husband would meet with connections for a job all at the company’s expense. I felt as if I had won the lottery or something, if only I could land this job. So, I shook hands warmly with Ms. S of the manicured nails and made my way back home.

More time went by. I was contacted by Dr. A’s administrative assistant here in the US and told that Dr. A would be in town and could I come meet with her? But certainly, of course I could. Arrangements were made. I managed to get on the helicopter there. When vice presidents are over from Europe it means there is a big meeting going on and I usually get to fly on what ever is going.

Our company has several of these babies that seat 5 passengers

The thing about the company helicopters, jets and planes is the vice presidents can order them, but then they need to fill them with bodies to keep them, or another vice president with more people can take priority (and the chopper). What I did is make friends with the administrative assistants of all of the vice presidents at my location so that if there was a helicopter going south, they would call me to see if I needed a ride. Few others at my level knew this and of those that did, they did not feel it was their place to be on company air transportation. I say to heck with that. I’m flying! I got to know many vice presidents this way too.

So, I got there, fresh as a daisy and ready for my interview. Dr. A, vice president of Europe and the supervisor for the position I was applying for, was a cardiologist and widow, in her early forties. She was a handsome Parisian woman and always dressed at the cusp of style in clothing and jewelry. I complemented her jewelry even though I thought it was ugly. It was striking though. She thanked me and told me who the artist was that designed it.

Then she put me through my paces in the interview and I passed with flying colors because the initiatives are my job. I had no trouble seeming eager to travel and meet people of differing nationalities, because I already had. She seemed pleased and stood when the interview was over and we shook hands. But, I still had no idea if I had the job or not.

More time passed. I mean like weeks. I put out my tentacles to gather information on other candidates and my competition. All I could find is that it was between me and one other guy from Spain. (Spain?) Finally, Ms. S of the manicured nails called and told me that there would be a final interview in Paris for the last two candidates, myself and the guy from Spain. She said excitedly that Sean was invited too and we would be going for a week. I almost fainted from joy. When I got off the phone with her, I called Sean and told him right away. He was also uber-stoked. I couldn’t contain my joy. How would I wait until it was time to go? The way I usually waited, I shopped for clothes to wear!

Sunday Comics – Oliver Frey Encore

December 17, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue


Here is yet another masterful work in full color by Oliver Frey, courtesy of Pete of Finland. The full image can be seen here. And the encore here. Enjoy!