Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 69 - All Good things come to an end

This week marked the end of a couple of important things.
The first was the phenomenal run of the "little team that could" - the Olympique Lyonnais who lost their match Tuesday against Bayern Munich 0-3. It was fun being here for the race though.

On Wednesday, Barcelona had a devastating loss to Internaizionale in their race to Madrid for the Champions League. What a tough loss considering the Italians merely had to guard the goal only for the duration of the game to ensure that Barce didn't score more that two goals. To make matters worse, there was a horrible call for use of hands that retracted their second goal that would have won them the game.  The Italian coach Morihno is completely classless and his team didn't even attempt to play a little offense whatsoever. They had that game handed to them on a silver platter, not even having to score a single goal to win.

Thirdly, my final day of french was this morning and I am so pleased with my test results! I did far better than I expected and just one point shy of the best score in the class. After class a bunch of us went for lunch and drinks to celebrate and we ended up in an Irish bar that is owned by a fellow Houstonian. He's the first Texan I've met yet [in France] and the first American I've met outside of school.

Part of my class below, from Left: Arthur ( Algeria), Kesorn (Thailand), Noriko (Japan), Romina (Venezuela), Martin (Argentina), Me, Ayako (Japan), Natalie (Israel/America), Sophie (Australia)

Now a new chapter will begin here, and  I will see how well I can do learning French on my own. First test will be getting around in Paris next week. After that I'll be travelling to Rome, then Barcelona for another weekend before my trip back to the USA til the beginning of June. Carloyn is gettng married and I can't wait to soak up the summer heat in Austin with my friends!

top 10 music spots

Life is Dandy!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 66 - Flax and France, blog 66

Speaking of Air France, Manuel Noriega was extradited to Paris today.

If you're not sure where Panama is, this old classic shoud set you straight.

In other news, the following article is really exciting for two reasons: we're making huge leaps in Going Green and secondly, I was born on this Patuxant, MD Naval base.

Permalink Security Brief: The Navy's new secret weapon? Going green
It’s the new secret weapon fueling the US military. A hardy plant capable of growing in poor soil, camelina sativa produces a bio-fuel that’s now the focus of the US Navy’s drive for alternative fuels in its planes.

Last week an F/A-18 Super Hornet flew from the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Md., powered by a 50/50 mix of aviation fuel and camelina, also known as wild flax. It was the first supersonic fighter to fly on a bio-fuel mix. The event was celebrated by US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on the Navy’s new official blog, also launched last week .

Officials say that during the 45-minute flight the plane’s engines worked as well on the camelina fuel as on normal aviation fuel – at both subsonic and supersonic speeds.
“The fuel works so well, all I needed to do was just fly the plane.” the plane’s pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Tom Weaver said. Mabus describes the program a “significant milestone” toward operational use of bio-fuels by the Navy.
The Navy says it will take a few months before camelina can be certified as an alternative fuel source, but it has already received 40,000 gallons of camelina bio-fuel from a grower in Montana, at a cost of nearly $3 million. The humble weed is now being cultivated because of its high oil content – with farmers across the Pacific Northwest looking at its potential.
Environmentalists give a lukewarm welcome to the programs, but say the military should be focusing on other ways to reduce its ‘footprint.’ “Does it really need all those post-WWII military bases in places like Germany and Japan? Does it need to keep all that cold-war hardware in operation? “ asks Michael Graham Richard at
To read the full article click here:

Flax is also being used to reduce the emission of methane by cows. Since Texas is high on the list of cow-raising and I've been following the research. .

Read on...

Researchers look to omega-3 fatty acids to reduce methane emissions and make healthier milk.

Dairy cow nutrition was once a matter of feeding for higher milk yield and cow health. But recently, feed management has taken on wider significance, as we learn more about how it affects the environment and human health. A cow’s diet ends up both in the environment and in the milk bottle, one way or another.
 Stonyfield Farm of Londonderry, N.H., long concerned about its environmental impact, has for the last decade sought to reduce the carbon footprint of milk production – its largest contributor of greenhouse gases. The toughest part has been dealing with enteric emissions, or the methane from a cow’s digestion. So when Stonyfield learned how Group Danone, the French company which holds a large share in Stonyfield, uses dairy nutrition to reduce its greenhouse emissions, the U.S. company began a similar pilot program, calling it “The Greener Cow.”

Pasture is the best way to feed that greener cow. A diet rich in natural omega-3 fatty acid sources such as grass, alfalfa and flax rebalances a cow’s rumen, so she gives off less methane, explained Nancy Hirshberg, Stonyfield’s vice president for natural resources. In addition, omega-3 provides many benefits for human health, as anyone who walks down a supermarket aisle knows today.

Preliminary results of Stonyfield’s study found an average 12% reduction in methane emissions on the dairies feeding flax. But it also found that omega-3s in the milk increased by 29%, while the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 was lowered, a ratio considered a key to human health.
However, TradiLin is currently only processed in Europe, by the French company Valorex SAS, so is a costly alternative.
“The big unknown is how to make it work economically for every farm that wants to adopt it,” Hirshberg said.
To get the full article:

If you don't here, they make you pay for a bag.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 65, I think.

This morning we caught a 6 a.m. Air France flight from Barcelona back to Lyon.
Usually I don't get the jitters about flying but this morning there are headlines aplenty regarding the recently continued investigations into the Air France 447 crash one year ago from Rio en route to Paris. This accident hit really close to home, literally, because the only two Americans on that flight Michael and Anne Harris, lived on my block back in The Woodlands. Not to mention, the early bird transit today was filled with professionals all reading the newspapers covered in the pictures of wreckage from that flight. I shut my window this morning as we passed over the Mediterranean. Thank goodness, it's only an hour flight. More good luck that flights have once again resumed to business as usual. Only 9 days til Jen's arrival!

I am always thinking about the people around me that I don't know and trying to imagine what they might do for a living or where they came from. There is a webiste for Air France 447 and a detailed list of the passengers on that flight. It's really bone-chilling and heart-breaking to see why people were on that flight. Especially after the recent crash that killed the Polish president, it just goes to show that no one is untouchable and life is too short.

Something new.

Something old.  "Me gusta viajar... je ne sais pas"

I'm working on my video for this weekend. In the meantime, here's a preview.

I couldn't have imagined a better weekend and the best parts were completely unplanned. Roger has taught me that life is so much more wonderful when you don't ruin the future moments by worrying or trying too hard to make them great. You just have to trust in yourself and make sure that you keep worthy company and everything else will fall into place.

Friday, April 23, 2010

St. Jordi´s Day

St. Jordi is the Catalan day of Love. He was the original brave knight sent to rescue a princess from a fire-breathing dragon. It is celebrated every year with gifts of roses for the ladies, and books for the men. The streets are lined with people selling every color rose you can imagine and authors are in every other stand signing piles books. The books sold on this day accounts for one-third of the total books purchased throughout the year.  Not to mention all the political representatives make their appearances in the public this day. Roger happened to notice I was standing next to Mayor of Barcelona at one book stand and he was nice enough to take a photo with me, No big deal!   (pic to follow)
Strolling through the bustling streets and Las Ramblas of Barcelona was the perfect way to spend day after the rude awakening I had at 5:00 this morning. 

Long story short, I ending up nearly breaking my foot after my fold-out bed at Roger´s parents house collapsed. I was trying to move the bed so I could get to door and down the hall to the restroom. I did not realize that when I moved it that I had unlocked the legs and when I went to climb on it, the bed fell on my right foot, along with all my weight to help matters. 

After 45 minutes of ice and being sick to my stomach from pain, we finally managed to get back to sleep. Fortunately, I don´t think anything was broken but I´ve got lots of black and blue to deal with for the next coming weeks. So much for summer sandals in the near future. All of it was nearly forgotten when I woke later on and received my first rose of the day!  <3

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 59 - Spring time

The airports are finally up and running again and just in time for our trip to Barcelona tomorrow! Plus, in just two weeks time Jen will arrive! I think by now I am prepared for a good test of my french, and what better way to try it out than on an excursion to Paris.

I'm a bit frustrated though because it's impossible to get "current" American tv here and my pledge sister Jackie was a cheerio last night on the season premier of Glee. She's the reason us Delta Gammas were so successful in the SMU talent shows.

In my free time I continue to take photos for my art class, and some have already been selected for the school's exhibition at the end of May.
The city is really coming alive with the spring flowers blooming and the constant sunshine.

Rihanna was here last night performing, and although I wasn't able to catch the show there is a great lineup this summer. The Roman Amphitheater will be hosting Vampire Weekend as well as Xavier Rudd along with some other great headliners that I'll be sure not to miss.
Lugdunum, as this area was known, was officially recognized by the Roman senate in 43 BC.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 54 - fin du monde?

Lately it's seems like its the year of the natural disaster. Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcano eruptions that are clouding the skies and melting glaciers! Not to mention fireballs from outerspace!
Scary stuff.


and I feel fine. Mostly because I had another amazing session of Yoga today. This one was led by my Israeli-american classmate Natalie's friend who is visiting from Tel Aviv. They instruct the classes so much better than anything I've experienced, they are so tuned into how your body moves on an individual basis. Instead of pushing you beyond your limits, they enable you to listen to your inner self and focus on strengthening your weaknesses. This method is so much more relaxing and yet we still feel a like we got a workout afterwards.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 53, or is it?

I'm starting to lose track of the days here, but regardless this one was pretty "brilliant". After school and a lunch with with Roger, I headed to the mall to meet my friend from "down under" Sophie. She is a classmate of mine, and I knew right off that we'd be friends.

The first day in class I asked her - Do people in Australia really say "throw another shrimp on the Bar-B!"?
No! She laughed. We never say that! 
For a moment, I was a little disappointed and confused by this common phrase I'd always heard and it's  association with the Aussies but she explained - "We don't have shrimps, they're tiiiny! We have Prawns! And we don't throw, we chuck!"

She helped me pick out a food processor which she calls a MagicMixer, love it. It's a purchase I have been thinking about for a while now. Every morning I walk through master chef Paul Bocuse's food market on my way to school, and I've decided to step up my cooking skills since there are so many delicious resources around. Cheese, meats, seafood, wine, desserts, as well as herb and spices are the culture here and why not embrace them fully? I'm not quite yet ready in my french skills to join a culinary class but I've gathered up some wonderful french cookbooks and gorgous pots and pans to begin practice. Not to mention several kilos of authentic Catalonian olive oil at our disposal!

Anyways, we finished up our shopping and went out to the terrace to grab a couple of Japanese beers and relax in the afternoon sun, just gabbing and philosophizing about life. She traded a life of kite surfing every evening in a Melborne bay to cross-country skiing in the Alps in absolute serenity on the weekends.

After we parted at the "Centro Commercial", Sophie left to hop on a train and I started on my walk just two blocks back to the apartment. I remembered that I had something to pick up at the post office, and I absolutely dreaded going in. However, there was nothing to fear! There were 4 or 5 workers helping customers and even one manager directing people and making sure they did not wait for something as trivial as a stamp. The man in front of me told me to go first and I was in there 5 minutes max! This never happens in the states...
While I was in there, this short came on the tv. It made me laugh out loud, so cute.

Oh and in under 3 weeks I will be in Paris with my BFF from San Diego Jen! Everything is booked for our Paris, Rome, and Lyon escapade! All I have to do now is buy my train ticket for the 2 hour journey north.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 51

This morning I am preparing for my frech lesson and this subject is really agonizing. I'm starting to realize now why Roger's dad has been telling me that this is the language of diplomats.
First of all, intonation is everything. Without the increases and decreases in tone, you might as well not even try saying the right words.
Secondly, there are 3 ways of phrasing every question: formally, the standard method, and informally. Not to mention the everlasting debate between using tu (you familiar) and vous (you formal). Instead of just calling someone Mr. Smith, for example, there is a whole different "vous" conjugation for a verb when speaking to someone on a more respectful level. Even though this formality exists in the Spanish language, you can get by without knowing it because it is not used in all the latin countries.

My friend lent me a book called Talk to the Snail written by an Englishman who dedicates ten chapters to the strange behaviors of the french. Although, Lyon is a little more laid back that I've been told Paris is, I've grown accustomed to the difference, or lack of, customer service here in France. Hopefully, by the end of the book, I will have learned some tricks of the trade on how to survive here.

Speaking of books, I've just finished The Road. Really great read. It's one of those that you can't put down because of its dark and mysterious tone. I recommend it to anyone and guarantee you will see the world as a different place after reading it.

I also have my first photo project due this evening. Premier assignment is to include two of the ten themes in a picture: Crescendo and Variant. It's a lot more difficult than it seems especially when I'm using a standard Nikon digital camera but I think that I might be able to use some of the photos from last weekend's trip to the park and museum.

Overlooking the plaza on this beautiful day.
A bust of Julliet Recamier, my street's namesake. A beautiful Lyonnais debutant turned Parisian social icon.

The French really do love their horizontal stripes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 49 - running behind

Things have been busy here lately between classes and having made some friends finally!

I have created a short slide show of our outing two weeks ago to the museum.

Switzerland trip soon to follow!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day 46 -MTV

Here in France, they still love Music Videos and while I do my homework I listen to the french music. Although most of the videos are American pop like Beyonce and Black-Eyed-Peas there are a few in french.

I used to make fun of one of my favorite Mixed Martial Artist, Georges St. Pierre because being a french-canadian he would enter the ring blaring french rap.

However, the French rap, along with some tv, is helping me improve little by little.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 43 - top chef

The much awaited finale of the french Top Chef finale was tonight and I couldn't have agreed more with the two champions. The young and ingenious Romain just 24 years old, and the Pierre an experienced chef of his own restaurant. One to one on the knife count, drum roll.....
Romain won! amazing, I am totally in shock but this guy is the most creative and now 100,000 Euros richer.

During the finale, they played this song which I absolutely love and have had on my ipod for a while now.

Just had a long weekend in Switzerland and back to school in the morning. This week I start yoga that my friend Natalie is teaching and photography class as well at the school.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Da 39 - Blog Blonde

so, I ventured out to the land of the blondes today. I'm still surprised every time I pass a mirror, but I think I like it.

Things have been busy busy lately. We moved in Yesterday, and I have boucoup photos to post.
Roger's parents and sister arrive in a few minutes and we'll all be venturing off to Switzerland on Saturday for the Easter weekend. I am having semi-sweet Suiss-chocolate-easter bunny dreams, I hope that the chocolate really does flow like wine there.

Ciao for now~