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Thu Jan 25 22:11:40 CET 2007

Some thoughts in a bar in Paris

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Here are some assorted things I've observed during the last
few days...

Smoking in Paris

Well, what can I say- In Sweden I normally do not smoke so much - say two cigarettes a day, when I remember to smoke. Here in Paris, the reminders of the habit of smoking is everywhere - tobacco stores everywhere, smokers everywhere in restaurants, pubs, cafes, at Summit HQ, the hotel lobby, outside the elevators, and even in the lavatories. How can I resist? It feels like I've smoked more here in the last four days than I have for the last year. Its quite enjoyable but every night, when I go to bed, I feel like someone has emptied an ashtray in my mouth. Disgusting.

Changing money

The day before I left Stockholm, I found a 100Franc note in my little jar of foreign money. Though doubtful if it could be converted into Euros, I brought the bill with me. Once in Paris, I went to the concierge, asking him where I could change the money. He happily told me that he could change it there, in the lobby. After looking around in the various drawers, he found his cash depot and one by one, he took out ten-Euro notes... he counted 100 Euro. He handed me the money, and Im like... "Wow, is it really a 1:1 value between Franc and Euro?" He looked up at me, a question in his eyes. Then it dawned on him that I had given him a Franc note, and quicklly told me that it was a misunderstanding. They funny thing is not that he made the mistake, but that even if I waved the bill in front of him, and called it a 100 Franc note, he only saw what he thought he saw. What he saw was money he had handled until just over ten years ago. As a matter of fact, I was holding the money he had handled until he was- say- 40 years old. You can change the nations currency, but it will probably take a generation before people forget the old legal tender.

Ubuntu works so well

One awesome thing I realized during this trip is how well Ubuntu works. When I learned that I could get a wireless connection in the lobby bar, I was doubtful - after all, I've spent so many hours tweaking my old Gentoo system to talk wireless. Not that it was actually difficult. After finding a stable driver module, and installing it properly, it was quite simple. To set up one network. But it was just often a hassle to change nets, to configure the system in a dynamic way. Not so with Ubuntu. I pushed the button on the keyboard to activate my 802.11b/g connection, and a dialog popped up, telling me that it had found two nets, and asking me if I wanted to connect. I clicked on Yes, and I was in. Of course it helped that the network has no passwords, and that it also has no encrption worth mentioning. But still. Very nice. --