25 February 2010

Welcome Back . . .

I had to go back to the States for a few days, so the February vacances worked out well. 

I was definitely not prepared for returning to the US.  I thought I was, and after a few days, I'm over the initial shock, and I know that once I'm living in Niger, coming back to the US will be even harder and stranger, but I for sure wasn't expecting to feel the way I did this time.

20 February 2010

Yellow Screen of Death and Some Other Less Interesting Things

In this process of learning French, I often become very self-conscious with my spelling, so I have come to rely on double checking my spelling and vocab by cutting and pasting my sentences into the online translator at larousse.fr.  But today, my self-editing came to a screeching halt!

19 February 2010

A Few More Links to the News

West African Economic Union condemns the coup in Niger:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8523573.stm
Niamey is calm after coup yesterday: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/20/world/africa/20niger.html
Cet article est en français:

http://www.rfi.fr/contenu/20100219-est-tete-coup-detat-sont-putschistes

Coup Update

So here's what I know.  Gunfire was audible from the Sahel Academy (SIM's boarding school in Niamey) campus, but it was short-lived.  (Former) President Tandja was removed from the presidential palace by "renegade soldiers in armored vehicles" to a military base on the outskirts of Niamey . . . his current whereabouts are unknown, according to multiple reports.

http://www.salon.com/wires/world/2010/02/18/D9DURECG4_af_niger/index.html

18 February 2010

URGENT: COUP IN NIGER

About an hour ago I got the first word that there has been a coup in Niger's capital, Niamey.  President Mamadou Tandja changed the constitution about a year ago in order to grant himself a third term as president.  This of course was not well received internationally.  And today, there was a coup.  Reports are coming through that gunfire is being contained to the presidential palace . . . but a coup's a coup, and gunfire is gunfire.

SIMNiger has headquarters in Niamey, along with a boarding school for the MK's.  Word is that everyone in the SIMNiger organization has been contacted and accounted for.  

At this time, you now know as much as I do.

To find out more:
Reuters: http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE61H0I020100218
BBCNews: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8522227.stm

SIMUSA: http://www.sim.org/index.php/content/coup-attempt-in-niger
The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/niger/7264248/Coup-attempt-launched-in-Niger.html
Niger Wire: http://www.topix.com/wire/world/niger

14 February 2010

Weekend of the Socks

I got two gifts over the weekend . . . and both were socks!

When I woke up yesterday afternoon, there was a small wrapped package waiting for me outside my door.  My SouthAmerican friend, S., had been out that day and saw some socks that made her think of me.  Not really sure why these ones in particular, but the reason is because she has (on more than one occasion) made fun of me for wearing holes through the backs of my socks . . . but this is very common for me . . . I have unusually defined calcanei (the calcaneus is the heel bone) and the posterior tuberosities (where the Achilles tendon attaches) stick out a little more than normal.  So I always rub holes in my socks and destroy the back lining of shoes.  I guess she got tired of seeing my heels.

The other pair is from my Tennessean friend, E.  E. is a big runner and ran the Paris Marathon last year.  A few weeks ago I decided to run my first road race . . . the Handicap International 5K in Paris.  To encourage me, E. brought me a little gift today . . . special running socks from SOUTH AFRICA!  E. lived in Durban for two years and shares my love for all thins d'Afrique du Sud (including the Springbok's . . . who's B-Team I saw practicing the other day . . . HERE IN MASSY!!  They were here for some sort of training and a tournament).  The brand is ZULU . . . performance socks for the warrior in all of us.  Made me happy.

Thanks girlies!  Love you too!

Your Questions, Answered

You've asked some great questions, and now I've answered.  I'm going to need to do a bit of research on a few in order to answer efficiently.  But in the meantime, keep the questions coming!


How do the French feel about francophone Canadians?

My impression is that the French consider francophone Canadians to have their own accent and culture, and are therefore very different from francophone French  (kind of like how many of my British friends consider American English to be a dialect, not just a different accent). In maps of the Francophone World, all of Canada is included, so the French seem very content to be able to encompass as much territory as possible, so long as very distinct cultural differences are noted.

UNESCO and The Bible: Heritage of Humanity

Last night I went with three other students to the UNESCO building in Paris . . . the Alliance Biblique Française hosted a week-long exposition on the Bible and it's impact on cultures.  The exposition was incredibly well done with historical information, including a VERY old scroll in Hebrew that was uniquely displayed so that one could actually scroll (no pun intended) through it.  There was a display that had auditory tracts with earphones allowing the listener to hear dramatic readings of Scripture and commentaries.  My friends that work with SIL particularly enjoyed the section on translation and literacy work.

12 February 2010

A Moment of Silence

Wherever you are in the world, please pause as you read this, for a moment of silence in memory of the late Walter Frederick Morrison.  Mr. Morrison invented the frisbee in the 1950's, and we have never been the same.

Countless high school and university students around the world have enjoyed hours of recreational (and often competitive) hours of bliss from a simple game of toss, frisbee golf, and ultimate.  Not to mention the rounds of fetch between man and his best friend in the park.

Mr. Morrison's contribution to modern civilization can be likened to that of the Beatles, The Joy of Cooking, and the Boeing 747.

Thank you, Mr. Morrison.  From all of us.

10 February 2010

Ask Me ANYTHING.

So I've added this cool little widget to the blog that allows you, the reader, to type in questions (anonymously) that I can answer and post back on the blog.  On the left hand panel, beneath my picture and profile and the link to SIM.org is a little box that says "Ask Me Anything." Simply type in your question and hit send.  I then receive an email with the question and am given the opportunity to reply (and I reserve the right to not answer as well . . . I can still plead the fifth even if I'm in France).

Here are some I've received so far (and feel free to keep them coming!): 


Questions Answered




If you could change one thing that happened last year what would it be?

Hmm . . . this is tough . . . most of the things I'm thinking about didn't happen last year . . . like that time when . . . or that other time . . . and the Yankee's did win the World Series, so that can stay; and I did move to France, so that stays; and I did sell my car, PTL!; and I got to visit Italy, Germany, and Belgium . . . yeah, last year was a good year! Maybe I got a speeding ticket at some point . . . yeah, surely I got a ticket. Okay, that's it. That's what I'd change.  

09 February 2010

How to Succeed in Insulting Without Really Trying

So here at the language school there is a recording studio.  I see the guy who works there quite frequently, and occasionally we exchange a casual bonjour as he comes in the door when I'm going out.  Until today, that has been our only contact.

While eating lunch with some other students, he came into the kitchen in search of a carafe for water.  We tried to describe for him, en français,  bien sûr, where they were in the kitchen, but he kept looking in the wrong place.  I went around the corner and pointed, "Ils sont là-bas, dans le plus bas tiroir" (They're there, in the bottom drawer).  As he pulled one from the drawer, what I thought I said to him was "Maybe someday we will be able to speak French" . . . as in, "Maybe someday our French will be good enough to give proper instructions on where things are located in the kitchen so that you, dear stranger, will not need to waste your time searching everywhere else." He gave me a strange look . . . it was almost a bit angry.

Phonétique: Le Son [R]

I started this post last Monday, but I got sick and was out of commission for three days and never finished it.  Put today's class was pretty much an encore performance.

I'm afraid without sound clips, this post isn't going to be nearly as funny as when it happened live in class . . . but if you're willing to read, I'm willing to try. 

07 February 2010

Rice And Beans

I'm a big fan of the organization charity:water.  They sell bottled water in the US, UK, Australia and other Western countries in order to fund the building of wells throughout the developing world.  I encourage you to check them out.

But today I came across the story of an 8 year old girl, Riley, who decided to raise enough money to build a well.  One of her creative ideas for raising money (and facilitating the participation of the whole family) was to eat rice and beans for dinner every night for a month.  With the money they saved on groceries, they put $10 each night into a jar.

But then she recruited her friends and their families and her parents' friends.  30 days goes quick . . . anyone interested in helping this little girl build more wells and save more lives by stopping the spread of disease?

Those of you here at Les Cedres, I'm going to do this for the month of March . . . who's in??  Those of you elsewhere . . . what do you say?  Doesn't have to be $10/day . . . they're a family of 6 . . . but then again, why not?  How does that verse go??  For where your treasure is . . . .

Someone Else's Point of View

Found this story on the BBCNews today.   Made me smile.  Thought you'd like a little more insight into some of the everyday encounters in Paris . . . written by a pro.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/8500246.stm.