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Mon Jan 29 00:09:04 CET 2007

On a SAS flight from Paris to Stockholm

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I have the bad luck of sitting at the back of the plane, between the
two jet engines. Im going to have a splitting headache in an hour if I
dont move. The only good thing about this position in the plane is
that I have ample leg room - making it actually possible to write on
the laptop keyboard without hunching over.

Today was, like the other days in Paris, quite eventless. I checked
out from the hotel and took a slow and relaxing walk to Summit
headquarters at Rue Boeubourg 62. By the way, the hotel I stayed at -
called Novotel Les Halles, was very nice. It offered good service,
everyone understood and spoke English, and politely endured my
crippled attempts at communicating with them in their own tongue. The
breakfast buffet was superb, the bar staff in the evening polite and
helpful, the concierges very service-minded.

To continue, I arrived at the building in which I had spent the last
five days in at 09:30, and spent the morning hours enduring a rather
boring lesson on how to program and set up a Summit-specific system. I
was submitted to the special kind of torture saved for Unix people -
writing small "programs" in a scripting mini-language called
VisualBasic.  Horrible stuff. 

To balance the horrors of VB, the teacher of the course was an
interesting Frenchman who was born in Leningrad of all places. His
background is a mixture of Russian and French - At the time of the
revolution his forefathers were French but living in Petrograd, and
did for some reason not leave the country during those troubled
times. When the country opened up again in the late 80s the decendants
decided to move back to the City of Lights, La France. I asked him if
he felt Russian or French, and he countered the question by asking me
if I felt Swedish or Japanese. Touche. (I cant find the accent on this
stupid keyboard)

Anyway, lunch was spent as usual at a restaurant called La
Fresque. Its a small 'typical' traditional restaurant, with small
tables, rickety chairs, narrow aisles, and stressed but cheerful
staff, all talking to each other at once in loud voices. The food is
excellent, the wine label-less but superb. I heard today that the
restaurant has pretty much stayed the same for the last three hundred
years, regardless of political climate, recessions, and what not. 

Every time me or my collegues go to Paris for Summit courses we are
taken to this restaurant. Every day. And I for one does not mind at
all. Its like a nice fresh whiff of culture amidst all this tech and
financial talk.

After lunch we got back to Summit and started to hack C++, which I
normally hate. But after the ordeals of VB I greeted it like that good
friend who rescues you at a party from the worlds most boring person
who just doesn't give you that small window of opportunity to mumble
an excuse to leave.

Class ended at 16:00, and I spent my few remaining hours in Paris
hunting for some presents for my kids. You know how hard it is to find
presents when you feel that you have to buy some? C'est impossible.

But eventually I found some nice stuff and headed to Summit again, to
get my bags and order a taxi.

The taxi was something else. The driver, a jet-black man from
somewhere in Africa, spoke English and French- at the same
time. Though I tried to explain to him that I did not and could not
understand his French, he persisted in speaking to me in his very
special mix of English and French. At least I could understand his
"Merde"s and "bloody bastard"s which he directed at his fellow
drivers. 

He drove like the proverbial mad south-european taxi driver, taking
every opportunity to move the vehicle forward. If another driver was a
split second late in filling the space between him and the car in
front of him, my crazy driver jammed himself in that crack, waving his
arms all the while at his poor rival. 

There was a huge no-smoking sticker on his steering wheel, but I dont
think he ever took the cigarette out of his mouth. Except to light the
next cigarette with the stub of the one which was almost dead.

I was glad that there was a seat-belt to strap on. All in all, it was
an exciting experience, but one which I do not look forward to having
again in the near future.

After arriving alive at CDG, I set out to check in, and find some
place to eat. 

CDG looks like the offspring of two improbable parents: 
Insane-Socialist-Stand-against-Anglo-Saxon-Capitalism and an
Experiment-conducted-by-a-Difficult-French-Artist. When you arrive you
just know that you are in France. 

Its hard to find your way at the airport, it's like the human element
was secondary to the ideals/art/design/style of the architecture. The
restaurants took twenty minutes to find, and the little monitors which
tell you departure times and gatees are in out-of-the-way
places. Strange plastic tunnels wind their way about with escalators
in them (the difficult designer's fingerprint), and the undecorated
concrete walls are quite forbidding (the real-socialist's fist
in your face here).

Damn. Battery of laptop is running out. Just to take note: Sitting on
SAS airplane on route to Stockholm. Drank a whiskey and a coke. Cant
wait to get back home and meet Anna and the kids. And to sleep in my
own bed.

Signing off...

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