Tuesday, June 27, 2006

France's great victory

How times have changed. 6 years ago France were in the process of winning the European Championship to add to the World Cup that the won 2 years earlier. Last Friday night they beat Togo 2-0 to qualify in second place from their group, behind Switzerland. The truly amazing thing is what happened afterwards...

My friend Moll was over for a few days, so we decided to stay in Paris on Friday night and watch the match in Kitty O'Sheas. It was his first time around Paris, so he spent the day wandering between the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe. In the evening, Sido came in to meet us and we went for something to eat before the match. Léon de Bruxelles is a very nice place to eat. I recommend it. Not Gril Les Barbares, but still very good. Nice steak.

Anyway, Kitty O'Sheas were absurdly serving beer in plastic cups! It was like being at a concert. Very strange indeed. We arrived too late to get a seat, so we spent the game standing. Or occasionally sitting on the ledge, which I'm not sure is allowed, but no one said anything, so it's ok. France eventually won 2-0 without playing particularly well against a not very good Togo team. So far, perfectly normal. I'm not very used to driving around Paris, so I decided to go the way that I knew - up the Champs Elysées, Ave des Grands Armées and onto the Périph from there at Porte Maillot. However, it took about 30 minutes to get up the Champs Elysées. The place was packed with people going nuts - French flags everywhere, car horns blaring, people dancing in the street. Very strange. And all this over a not terribly convincing victory over a team that they would have wiped the floor with in their prime. It just seemed like such a change from before. If by some miracle they actually win the thing, what on Earth will Paris be like?

Unfortunately, if that happens I won't be around to see it. I'm heading back to Tokyo for a fortnight on Saturday. Hopefully I'll be able to see the World Cup Final in Japan. I missed the last one cos I was on a plane. At least I'll be in a hotel this time around - I'll just have to get up at about 5am.

I made chocolate chip cookies! They were pretty well received and I was asked to make more, so that's positive. I also cooked for the first time since I moved over last night - a little roast featuring potatoes and chicken legs. It wasn't bad at all, actually. The potatoes weren't great, but I know what I did wrong, so hopefully the next try will be better.

Anyway, I'll try and update this thing a little more often, possibly with something on the 'Canes first Stanley Cup or the Heat's first NBA Championship. I didn't get to see any of the finals, so my commentary will be based on that of other people.

Slán libh...

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Looking over my last post, I realised that I completely forgot to actually say the stuff that I was going to talk about. Hence the addendum...

When I got back from Japan, my parents were over for a few days. They brought some of my stuff over from Ireland, which was very nice of them. For example, I now have my computer again, which is very handy. They got to meet Sido's mother for the first time (actually while I was still in Japan, which meant that poor Sido was stuck translating) and I think that it went quite well. They all got on swimmingly. It was a good trip - everyone seemed to enjoy the few days.

The house I came back to was quite different to the one that I had left two weeks earlier. Sido did lots of work while I wasn't there - the weeds were gone from the garden, there were curtains on the windows, boxes were emptied... Since then we've done a little more work on the garden and it looks much better than it did when we moved in. We even had a barbeque in it last night. Although, we're both sick, so neither of us really had much of an appetite.

I bought a book in Japan called 'The Intelligencier' which was very interesting. It's a story split between 1593 and the present day. T'was quite enjoyable. Considering that I was stuck in seat 44A (I don't like the back of planes or window seats) it was good to have something to distract me. Other than Scarlett Johansson (in Match Point).

I've now moved on to 'And Now I Can Die In Peace', by Bill Simmons, ESPN's Sports' Guy. I actually bought the book in October last year, but I've spent most of the intervening time reading computer books, so I hadn't gotten around to it. It's very good. If you're interested in American Sports at all, I'd recommend it.

Other than that, there's not a whole lot happening. If I think of anything else, I'll let you all know :-)

À la prochaine...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Long time...

My girlfriend just gave out to me for not updating my blog, so I decided that I probably add something. It's been quite a while, so you'd think that I'd have lots to talk about.

I got a cold at the end of last week, and it's been hanging around ever since. I don't like being sick. I'm heading back to Ireland for the weekend for a big birthday party (best friend's wife's birthday. Important one, but I won't say which. Cos she'd beat me up), and I hope to be ok before then. Unfortunately my girlfriend got the same cold. With any luck we'll both be recovered by Friday evening.

I've been hearing all week how nice the weather in Ireland, hot and sunny all week. Of course, given that it's Leaving Cert week, I'm not surprised in the least. I just hope that it lasts through the weekend. It would be a terrible waste of a bouncy castle otherwise...

Congratulations to David and Audrey, who got married in Amalfi, Italy last Saturday. Hopefully I'll meet them over the weekend too.

The Stanley Cup Finals have started! Unfortunately, we still don't have TV in the house (due to the presence of a large Castle blocking the TV signals in the back garden - yes, I have a castle in the back garden :-), no roof-based antenna and no satellite dish) so I have no way to watch the games. Of course, even if I did have TV, I probably wouldn't be able to watch them, cos there's no channel that's showing them over here, as far as I know. NASN, which I subscribed to in Ireland, is starting a European service, but it's not up and running yet.

Anyhoo, as I say, they've started! Carolina v Edmonton is a perfect final for a league that's trying to say "Look we're fair now!". With the revenue-sharing and the salary cap brought in to help small market teams, they got a great finals to show off their plans. And they're sticking to the rules! They haven't lapsed back into pre-Lockout refereeing, which is great. They're letting the teams play hockey. Hopefully manic clutching and grabbing has been banished from the ice into the stands.

NBA Finals are coming up too. Miami-Dallas is another interesting series. Will Shaq finally get a Kobe-less championship or will Dirk show that he's the best player in the league? Can D-Wade keep up his startling form for another 6 or 7 games (the way this playoffs is going, you'd expect a long series)?

Of course, far more importantly than all that, the World Cup is starting on Friday! I'm going to be spending plenty of time in bars around Paris, I'd say. Either that or I'll be peering through the static trying to see what just happened was a goal or a throw in. If you've ever seen Amelie, then you might have an idea of what my TV reception is like - when she unplugs her next door neighbour's antenna during the football...

I'd normally be up for France when Ireland didn't make it. Considering I'm now living in France, it adds an extra dimension to it. I arrived in France the day after they won the World Cup in 1998 and that was quite an experience. Could be interesting to see what would happen if they were to do it again.

Well, on that note I'll sign off. I'll try and update the blog a little more regularly.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Leaving on a jet plane

It's my last night in Tokyo. For this trip, at least. I'm heading back to France tomorrow evening. I really didn't do much interesting stuff the whole time I was here. Lots of work, sleep. That's about it, really. I plan on doing some actually interesting things next time.

I'm told that we have curtains now at home. And a phone! This is a big deal as it means that I can finally get a decent connection to the internet at home. In Ireland, the best connection I ever had was about 512kb/s. Not too bad. In France I can get 18Mb/s! Quite a difference. Not that ESPN.com is really that different with an 18Mb connection...

I've added a link on the sidebar to Andrea's Marques's blog. She and her husband Mark have a site with blogs and pictures and other things. Andrea is a huge fan of all things Tokyo. There are lots of interesting pictures and anecdotes on Andrea's site. Have a look. She gave me lots of tips for things to look at in Tokyo, but I haven't had a chance to do much of it left.

I had a nice proper Japanese meal last night. It was me and four Japanese from ANA who had decided that I needed to try a proper local meal. So there was lots of fish. Most of it raw. Surprisingly very nice, though. And I'm getting more adept at using chopsticks now.

Anyway, it's very late here, so I'm going to head off to sleep now. C y'all later...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Jet lag

I've now been in Japan for three days and I'm still suffering a bit of jet lag.

I spent most of Sunday asleep, on and off, from the time I checked into the hotel (which, incidentally, is great. I have an enormous room, nice tv, great bathroom...) I pretty much slept until Monday morning. I took a little break to get something to eat, but I really didn't do a whole lot.

I did watch 'Men With Brooms' starring Paul Gross and Leslie Neilsen. Paul Gross is the movie king in Canada. He co-wrote, directed and starred in the movie. It wasn't bad at all. Certainly better than I would have thought for a curling movie. You may remember Paul Gross from the brilliant 'Due South' that, unfortunately, lost it's American backing. It's a pity that so many good shows are ignored by American TV audiences. Apparantly, 'Veronica Mars' might be cancelled! For those of you who don't know it, buy an NTSC tv, multi-region DVD player and get season 1 from PlayUSA.com. Great series. Best thing on tv not created by Joss Whedon.

Anyway, on that note, I'm going to head off to do some work. It's 8.49 here, so I've got a little over an hour to make it to the office. Shouldn't be a problem (he says before the train strike...)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Preparing for Japan

Well, I've been in France for almost two weeks now, so just as I'm settling in I'm heading off to Japan. Ah well. I got to move my job instead of having to find a new one, but I have to go to Japan as a result. Three times for two weeks each over the next three months or so. At the time it seemed like a great thing, but now I'd rather stay here. That's a good sign, I suppose.

Lots of things to do to prepare. I have a load of books to bring out of the office today, as well as bringing the laptop that I'm currently using back to the house so I can actually do some work in Japan. Unfortunately, today was also the day that I first took the train into Paris in the morning. Normally my girlfriend (Sidonie - she'll probably crop up from time to time during the blog) drives into Paris for work, and I head in with her, but today she's got things to do in Picardie, so I was train-bound.

There isn't that much actual work stuff to do, though. Except that I'm moving office again. When I arrived in Paris, I was put in a nice office. At the end of the day I was told that I'd need to get a new one the next day. Two days later I was moved again! (That's three in four days, for those of you who are counting). So I've been nice and settled here for a week. This morning I was informed that they're going to need this one, so I'll be moving all my stuff that I'm not bringing with me into the second office that I had. It's all fun...

I've added some links to the sidebar of the blog too. One's for my home page, one's for Guardian Unlimited's football site, which I highly recommend. And I've also added a link to John Madden's blog. He's my best friend and tends to talk about alt-rock and, occasionally, hockey. Oh, and his cat. Enjoy.

Well, I'll see if I can get some posts in from Japan.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Bienvenue à mon blog.

I'm sitting in the SITA office in Paris, writing this first blog before I head off for the evening. I've been in France now for 11 days and have settled in pretty well. I've got a house, furniture, use of a car... I also finally got a French mobile and bank account, although I won't have my CB until next week (or possibly longer, seeing as I'm going to Japan on Saturday for a fortnight). And, for some reason, my mobile phone won't let me ring foreign numbers.

So anyway, hello and welcome. Bonjour et bienvenue. Je suis au point de rentrer chez moi, alors je vous dis bonne soirée...