Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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Housekeeping

Updates on stuff I’ve written and your comments.

→ I’m not the only person who likes vegetables that grow in unexpected ways. It turns out that carrots hugging is a thing people document.

→ Mark Bittman also like artichokes. He makes a good case for them being easy to prepare, despite how unfriendly they look.

→ FYI: European festivals are designed to confuse foreigners. Octoberfest? Happens in September. La feria de abril? It’s in May. Mark your calendars accordingly (which is to say one month early or one month late).

→ Reading about the root of the word owl reminded me that in Spanish, “hoot” is ulular (FR : hululer). This is a crazy-fun word to say. Eew-luu-lahr. Makes me want to yodel from the mountaintops.

→ I’m not the only one who prefers Samsung products to Apple’s iPhone. Sales of phones at the Korean company are through the roof. Somewhere, the ghost of Steve Jobs laments that he can’t haunt his successors Jacob Marley-style. I’m sure he’s pissed.

→ Gatsby-love abounds, at least in all the parts of the Internet I frequent. I wouldn’t mind except that it seems everyone has a T. J. Eckleburg’s eyes thing. I thought he could only see into *my* soul!

→ What would it have been like if someone else wrote The Great Gatsby? According to The New Yorker, if Theodore Dreiser had taken a stab at it, the novel would have focused on the years when James Gatz became Jay Gatsby. I would have read the hell out of that.

→ I had to search through my inbox to find my Zappos password recently and was surprised that I signed up back when I had an Earthlink account. God, remember when you had to pay for email? Turns out that Microsoft sure does as they killed their Hotmail service recently. Fun fact: I had dial-up Internet access when I left the US. My reasoning at the time was that I sat at a computer nine hours of the day, why the hell would I at home?

→ Falling down an Eddie Izzard YouTube worm hole, I came across another gem (truly, the man is almost as pithy as Stephen Fry) where he talks about multilingualism:

I think the whole world should be a big melting pot, like Manhattan, a massive Manhattan. This is my simple idea for the future of the world.

Yeah, what he says! This is where I mention that my nephew, who lives in Brooklyn and goes to a bilingual school, pronounces the best borough as mahn-há-tán, with a weird accent. It’s very funny but not très sophisticated.

→ Finally, there’s always money in the banana stand dance:

Banana challenge

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A cell phone story

Cell 1 Samsung slideUntil recently, this Samsung E370 (right) was my phone. I bought it in December 2006 for 166€, which my Spanish and Catalan friends thought was an extraordinary sum. I know this because their general response was, “Pero, ¿eres una idiota?” I had researched for several weeks and thought it was a pretty good deal. The phone was unlocked so I could use it in any country I traveled to and it wasn’t under contract to any carrier so I could just add credit when I needed and not sign my soul over to the phone company.

In the end, it was an incredibly good investment. I used this phone in three countries over six years at a cost of 27,66€ a year (2,30€ a month) which is a price that can’t be beat.

But all good things come to an end. After those many years of use, the keys weren’t as responsive as they once had been, the sound quality had fallen from very good to garbled on the best days and voice mails were completely unintelligible. And the truth is, I wanted to have a more advanced calculator in my pocket because, and I cannot stress this enough, I am super bad at number things.

cell iphoneSo I got an iPhone 4 from a friend who upgraded to the 5 the week it came out. It took me a while to find a cell phone shop in Paris where I felt comfortable (many of them are really shady) and that would unlock the phone for a reasonable price. (It’s technically illegal to do so, but just go up and down Boulevard Voltaire and you’ll find a place.)

Shortly thereafter, my mother got a couple Samsungs in a promotional offer run by the newspaper she reads, so she sent me one.

cell samsung

My wallpaper is from here

After a few months of using both, I have to say that I basically hate the iPhone and can’t really figure out what people like about them. And I’m a person who’s been “a Mac” for over 15 years. As fellow globetrotters/expats, I’m posing the question to you all: what do you like about the iPhone? Have you tried other phones?

Learn something

In English, a phone that is not tied to a specific phone company is unlocked. In Spanish, it’s liberado [liberated] and in French, it’s désimbloque [unblocked SIM]. Of the three ways to express the same idea, I like the Spanish best because I anthropomorphize everything and I like the idea of a phone being all, “I’m free at last!

Next Week

I’m gonna spin you right round, baby, right round! Like a record baby… but in French!

And it’s Daylight Savings in Europe tomorrow (Saturday), so don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed!