The Last Time I Saw Paris

I’ve never seen Paris.

But I am led to believe that it is a wonderful site to sight. Full of art, food, fashion, romance, wine, and wonderful shops. And that the citizens of the city are charming and welcoming.

The problem is that I am debarred from participating and enjoying this by my lack of facility with the French language. Many years of life have scrubbed most of the high school French from my mind – I would be at a loss to conduct the most rudimentary of conversations or deal with the tourist’s life. How to overcome this – and to overcome a similar language barrier in Germany, Italy, Hungary, Austria, etc.?

Berlitz? Alliance Francaise? Goethe Society? Well, at 70 years old, I doubt my ability to absorb enough of any of these fine languages in time to actually enjoy a trip. I need another solution – I am going to look for it in the idea of a dedicated valet.

That sounds a little old-fashioned, but it’s just another word for a courier or translator or guide. But I need someone who can make a dedicated effort for my welfare that may go beyond just getting me a train ticket and pointing my in the vague direction of the turnstiles. I need someone who will plan out an itinerary that can be changed radically, that will research social and cultural items, that will find accommodation suitable and make sure that I am comfortable. Someone who will see me fed and watered, and not cheated in the bar or newsagency. In short, a companion with their eyes open.

The good news is they need not be this forever. A European vacation can be a long thing or a short thing, but the fact that each country visit may not be longer than 2 weeks means that whoever does the French portion need not be on duty for longer than a fortnight. Likewise the German, Ukranian, etc. And each day need not go for longer than a standard job – I poop out in 8 hours and if I’ve seen that day’s amusement and eaten that evening’s dinner, I can be hung back up on the rack in the early evening. All I need is assurance that the valet will be there just after breakfast to start again.

The valet will make all this simple if they plan ahead – they will house me in a friendly hotel, find me a friendly bar, and search out a friendly restaurant. Their real translation skills will come in the shops, galleries, and transportation, and as I would hire them for local knowledge they should be able to make these transactions as painless as possible. I do not require to go to bad neighbourhoods nor to deal with horrible people. I wish to be polite and pleasant.

Now – how to find such paragons? Is there a service just like this already extant? Is it affordable? I would be willing to pay premium prices for a good experience. I think it is time to start my research…


Vladimir? We Have Problem.

Is leaking again. Someone lift lid and gas escape. Germans and French find out.

Ministry of Denial is deny it but damned western press still report. Not sure if the story about it being from Romania worked.

Quick – time to distract. Get Australian branch of Ministry to make film about Amerikanski waste dump in Pacific island. That keep them busy for a while.

Meantime we glue lid on Chelyabinsk once more. Old stuff dissolve in rain. Soviet-era glue to blame – those responsible will be liquidate.

Citizenship…Getcha Red Hot Dual Citizenship Right Here…!

Australia has laws against duelling. You’re not allowed to face opponents at dawn with a pistol or sabre. Many of us think this is a case of the courts being awfully small-minded and trying to reserve all the business of solving disputes to itself.

The federal government as well, is being mean about people who are also citizens of other nations. They are debarred from holding public office and recently we have seen the start of a widespread campaign to investigate state and federal members of parliament and to call them out about it. Two have picked their hats out of the ring and slunk off.

It has even got to the point where people are worried that the nationality of their parents or grandparents will be invoked to make them dual citizens unbeknownst and thus foul up their political careers. ” Citizenship by ancestry ” may sound charming if you fancy a holiday somewhere and don’t want to stand in the foreigner’s queue at the airport, but it can also be turned rather quickly into a tar brush rather than a rubber stamp if it suits someone’s purpose.

When you start to divide up ancestries and parcel them out you can do all sorts of things.  “Half-Greek ” might still make you liable for the army. ” Half-American ” might make you liable for the IRS. ” Half-French ” might make you liable to be insulted by waiters.

Let’s not even get into ” Half-Muslim ” or ” Half-Jew “, or half of any other religion. No-one who uses this sort of terminology will be doing it for any good purpose.

” Half-Breed ” is just foul.

If we must split people’s lives and families and re-combine them to suit our own purposes, let us divide them along the lines of personality. I have always considered that I had a wide view of life but was unable to fully realise my plans. So I might be said – instead of being vast – to be half-vast.

I am content with this. At least half-way…

Note: This writer is a nationalised Australian as of 1970, has definitely given up any other citizenship, and has stamped papers from two governments to prove it. None of the countries that played host to his parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have ever been asked to grant him a dual, treble, or quadruple citizenship. Indeed, when I visit their embassies they turn off the lights and hide behind the sofa until I stop ringing the doorbell.


The New DIN Units Of Measurement – How They Will Affect You

dscf5520For years we have been able to go to the DIN – the Deutsches Institut für Normung – for a series of standards with which to measure the world. It is associated with the ISO and has been active for nearly a century. Like other national and international bodies, the units of measurement that it has given us are basically useless when it comes to actually living a happy life.

An example would be the DIN A standards that we all adhere to when we use paper – you know, the A4, A3, A0 stuff. Have you ever tried to use A4 paper in the toilet? Slick, hard, and liable to get stuck to the bottom of your shoe at the worst time. You might as well use old SATURDAY EVENING POST covers with the staples still on.

Because of this, and worse, we have decided to establish an entirely new set of measurement units. It should allow us to circumvent the advertising agencies.

a. The Metric Gerbil – MG – is a basic measurement of light. 1 Metric gerbil is enough light to find a tub of leftover pudding in the refrigerator when the little bulb burns out. 2 Metric Gerbils are sufficient to find change down the back of the couch.

b. The Mixed Blessing -Mb – This is a fractional unit of measurement based upon the fact that when something good happens – the clothes all come in dry from the line – there is a downside – they are as stiff as boards and need to be folded with a sheet-metal break.

c. The Whew – Ww – This unit quantifies the sense of relief one feels when something ceases. For every 5 minutes of something you get 1 minute of not-something. But sometimes that 1 minute is enough to prise open a window and escape. This is frequently used at cocktail parties around election time.

d. The Smorgasbord – SGB – is the unit used to measure the degree of nutritional regret. It may be used to analyse meals taken or avoided ( -ve SGB or +ve SGB ) and is further broken down into courses. 3 SSGB ( soup  ) equal 1 DSGB ( dessert ). No SGB scoring is available for tofu.

e. The Imperial Sniff – Imp Snf – is used to rank members of the social elite who visit retail establishments. It is never used in single digits – these are the better classes, after all. Wealthier Sniffers can achieve 10X to 100X of the Imp Snf – nobility sometimes goes to 1000X, particularly if they are associated with areas of Europe that have regressed into the 16th century. Royalty are never measured for the Sniff – it being thought that they are obliged to be above it. Must make having a head cold a messy affair for them…

f. The Shaughnessy Index of Truth – SHit for short – is named after Hap Shaughnessy of the Red Green Show. It has the distinction of being the only negative index in regular use. Hap invented it while working with NASA on the artificial diamond venture. Ask him. He’ll tell you.

Finally, you may have been wondering how DIN could abandon their old standards so quickly – well, they haven’t…the DIN we were referring to is Dick’s Index of Niceness. All the measurement and none of the umlauts.