A TRIP TO PARIS: Page One
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Page Two Napoleon's Tomb Page
Chaos Manor, Studio City, Los Angeles, California. Monday, April 16, 2001. Taxes are computed and paid. We can go to Paris... It's never easy to schedule a vacation for us. My column is due every month, and it's pretty hard to write it anywhere but at Chaos Manor. Of course the place is a mess, but that's the nature of the beast:
It's a mess, but it's home, and actually I can get a lot of work done here. On the left I'm setting up to look at Belkin and CYBEX KVM and remote control systems. Eventually I install things at my actual work stations, but first we get things running at test stands. The Great Hall is just a bit cluttered... Next we have a look at Compaq's new ipaq pocket computer set up to communicate with the Compaq Armada E500 that's my usual traveling companion.
Studio City, Tuesday, April 17, 2001. We left in the afternoon. It's a good time to make a long flight to Europe: get on the plane in the evening, and arrive in the middle of the next afternoon. That way however well or badly you sleep on the airplane, you can get to bed at a normal local time, and with luck get your life back in rhythm with the day/night cycle. Of course that works better in theory than practice, but it's still the best way I know to beat jet lag.
Of course every trip begins with a line unless you're rich enough to travel first class. American Airlines in Los Angeles was a bit crowded. It's all compounded by the baggage regulations: either you have to push the bags along the line with you, or you stack them near the counter and someone has to stay with them. Roberta chose to be the one in the line rather than the baggage guard. Eventually she was at the front of the line...
And from there it's pretty smooth sailing. We headed for the Admirals Club. One of the smartest things I ever did was buy life memberships in most of the major airline travel lounges. Actually, in the case of American they gave it to me in exchange for my old Million Mile Club membership; back in my Cold Warrior days I had to travel a LOT. In those times the airlines lounges were hidden, and only really frequent fliers knew about them; then someone sued, claiming it was unequal treatment, and the airlines sold memberships. In the early days you could buy a life membership for a few hundred dollars. They cost a bit more now.
Note that American now has Ethernet connections in the Admirals Club. I don't know how those work: Roberta made me promise not to connect to the net at any time during this trip and although technically we hadn't started yet, or at least hadn't got on an airplane, I knew better than to try. I'll have to find out, though, since my next planned trip is to PC Expo and that one is business. In Anaheim for ten bucks a day I had Ethernet connections directly to the Net through my hotel. How they charge for this at the Admirals Club isn't clear but I expect you give them a credit card number. Anyway, it's a comfortable place to wait for an airplane.
Paris Airport, Wednesday April 18, about 4 PM. Charles de Gaulle airport is actually a bit odd, with hamster tubes for people, but the baggage claim is about the same as anywhere else. It was getting a bit thin with almost everyone else having claimed their baggage and gone, when we saw the welcome sight of the bright yellow luggage strap that identifies Roberta's suitcase, and my green-strapped gargantua just behind it. Getting through customs was a matter of walking past to the taxi stand...
Coming up to our street. This is the corner of Rue St. Antoine and Rue de Birague, where we stay. Rue de Birague is a very short street, no more than half a short New York block, and ends at the Place des Vosges, a square where there was once the Royal Palace (in the time of Henri IV) and is now a public park surrounded by a covered arcade, one of the oldest covered market areas in Europe. Victor Hugo had a house at one corner of this and there's a museum in his old house now. You see the arched entrance at the end of the street. And finally our flat, which is the pair of windows above the baby clothing store. The blue door is ours. It's more convenient than a hotel, and a lot less expensive.
City services at work: looking down from our window we see street cleaners several times a week. There are the cleaners themselves, with brooms and poop scoops -- Parisians have dogs, and they do their thing wherever they want to, and the city services people pick it up. There are even green-clad city workers on motor scooters whose sole job is to scoop the poop. The garbage is collected several times a week also, and the city workers haul the cans to the truck and return them, unlike in Los Angeles where the house workers have to do all that. Interestingly, taxes don't seem to be higher here than in the States -- but then US taxes are at the same rate they were at the end of WW II, the highest in our history, and apparently we still cannot afford a tax cut. But we don't get our garbage collected three times a week in the Capital either...
And thus the arrival and first night in Paris, topped off by a visit:
My long time friend Norman Spinrad, who now lives in Paris and is a popular novelist here. This is our apartment in Paris (well, rented for a week; we don't really maintain digs in Paris...)