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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My complaint department

Even though I have a way more relaxed take on life than I used to, some things still piss me off. A lot. Enough to make me yell at inanimate objects and grind my teeth. Here are some of the recent offenders.

→ Apple. I don’t think I could count how many ways Apple has pissed me off in the last decade. The first one was when they changed the keyboard of the original clamshell iBook to one that was less responsive and comfortable for the second-gen G3 iBooks. More recently was when they updated iTunes, completely overriding years’ (YEARS’!!) of metadata and preference settings that I had already rebuilt twice in the last half decade. And, of course, there’s iOS7 which is a total nightmare.

SOLUTION: All this anger has led me to imagine a perfect machine which is basically a typewriter with a better keyboard and an email client. That’s it. No crazy apps that have dynamic swiping or tweetdecks or constant alerts or other unnecessary crap. Someone please make this happen.

These are just a few of the idiots in question.

These are just a few of the idiots in question.

→ Flies. I supercrazydoublehate flies, not just because they’re dirty (which they 100% are) but because they are insanely stupid. When confronted with a wall of windows, they bounce and bump along one section, not bothering to use the hairs that cover their whole bodies to feel where the breeze is coming from and going towards the most logical point of egress. Also, they love to swarm in cool spaces just out of direct sunlight, meaning there’s always a big gang of them right by the main entrance to my building and in my living room if I leave the windows open.

SOLUTION: I bought fly tape but then they just got stuck and buzzed and buzzed until they died which was equally annoying to them just existing. Second attempt at eliminating them was this amazing Raid product that you stick on windows and, through some kind of sorcery (or possibly nuclear radiation), it absolutely positively kills all the flies in the area so that there is actually a pile of dead flies on the floor when you come home after a few hours. It’s the best thing I’ve come across in ages.

→ Don’t complain to me: I used to be a shift manager at a video store in college* and one of my great pleasures was addressing surly customers. Usually, they’d come in and start complaining about late fees and they’d demand to see the manager and I’d sigh and turn around and come right back to them and say, “Hhhhello, my name is Hhhhh______. I’m the manager hhhhere. Hhhhhow can I hhhhhelp you?” At this point the customer would usually wither and die because I had used my secret weapon: fricative sounds (all those H‘s) combined with a garlic bagel with garlic cream cheese which I would have consumed earlier in my shift. No one could withstand my cool detachment and killer breath.

Go out on some notes

Lykke Li’s “Complaint Department”

*Possibly the best job in the world, RIP the entire industry.

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Catalans crack me up

I mean, I guess I understand wanting to have your computer put into your language, but I can assure you (despite not having used this service) that the translation on this thing is terrible.



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!