Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rekindling an old flame

I used to be a newspaper lover. Now I can be one again, thanks to my recent purchase of a Kindle.

I'm not going to get into the "it's just wrong to read a book on one of those devices" debate; I'll save that for another post.

To me, the biggest advantage of my Kindle so far has been rediscovering the joy of reading the Sunday paper over a cup of coffee.

Of course, the same readers who will argue that a Kindle desecrates books might say the same about a Kindle and newspapers. But I can hear your arguments already, and I think I can shoot them all down.

1.) You live in France and are fluent in French; you should just read the French Sunday paper.

Been there, done that. I even subscribed to La Nouvelle République when we lived in Tours and I could get morning delivery. But I'm not interested in a daily paper anymore -- plus we can't get morning delivery where we live. So the Sunday paper is what I want, and for some reason -- maybe someone can tell me why -- French journaux de dimanche just aren't the same.

2.) Reading a newspaper on a Kindle doesn't compare to touching newsprint

Are you saying this like newsprint is a good thing? I can buy this type of argument for books, but I was never a big fan of unwieldy newspapers and newsprinty fingers to begin with. It's much easier for me to read a paper on the couch with my Kindle than to manage newspaper pages.

3.) It's stupid to pay a buck or two for a newspaper issue when you can read it free on the Internet.

It is rather interesting to be in the position of paying to get LESS information, but that's partly what it's all about for me.

I really can't bear newspaper websites. Besides the overwhelming barrage of information they toss out, they give me way too many extraneous choices.

A glance at today's New York Times already has my head spinning. Should I switch to the global edition? What is Times Reader 2.0? Would my life improve if I tried the New Times Skimmer? And why haven't I gotten around to personalizing my weather?

All that and I haven't even read a headline yet...
which I may well never do because there's an intriguing video called "Stepping Out With the U.S. Men's Curling Team." That's worth a look. Should I tweet it? (No.) Use it in class? (Maybe, but it doesn't really fit into my schedule next week.) What would? Should I click over to the BBC?

Oh, and on the right there's something about The New York Times Wine Club. Sounds interesting. Forget the headlines. Maybe I should join the club...or drink a glass of wine...

In other words, I could spend hours on the New York Times website and, well, never really catch up with the news.

As for the price, I'm one of those old-fashioned types who feels newspaper-lovers need to chip in if we want to keep on reading quality journalism.

In conclusion, I think a Kindle is a nice investment for expats in particular, but you should be aware that for some reason, you will not get images with your purchases made outside the USA. But that's not a problem for my image-overloaded brain.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday 81

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Amsterdam Five: Holidays must end as you know

Six weeks later, and I am finally finishing my series about our trip to Amsterdam. Our last day actually included some real activity, since our plane for Toulouse didn't leave until 8:15 pm.

After enjoying the hotel buffet breakfast together -- the only time on the trip both girls managed to be up in time to take advantage of it -- we packed our bags, stored them at the hotel, and walked through the brisk cold to the Katten Kabinet, or Cat Cabinet.

I had really been looking forward to what sounded like a deliciously off-beat site: a huge house on the Herengracht dedicated to the memory of a cat.

"The Cat Cabinet was founded in commemoration of the red and frisky Tom Cat John Pierpont Morgan, the life-long companion and buddy of the museum's founder, Bob Meijer," explains the rudimentary website. For information, the cat lived from 1966-1983.

It was a fun and funky visit, but I expected a little more as far as feline-related works of art. We were also disappointed that much of the house was closed off to visitors. Let's just say we were expecting a little more, but definitely enjoyed the opportunity to pet some of the kitty residents that roam freely through the mansion:

Our next stop was another smaller museum, this one exhbiting handbags and purses. After the somewhat underwhelming Kat Kabinet, we weren't sure what to expect from the Tassenmuseum Hendrikj.

Before the visit, we were lured into the lovely coffee shop:

Lovely, cozy coffee shops such as this one were one of our favorite features in Amsterdam:

After our refreshments, we visited the museum which, to our delight, holds an astounding and well-curated collection of bags, wallets and luggage throughout the ages. I don't have any photos to share of this museum, but the website provides a good idea of what is on display.

All good things must come to an end, and after the handbag museum, we realized we were down to a few hours before having to walk back to the hotel and take the taxi to the airport.

It was about 4pm, the perfect time to eat a lunch/dinner/whatever in the city. We were lucky enough to stumble upon the Get toGether restaurant, a rather chic eatery connected to The Albus Grand Hotel:

Gazing in from the street, we couldn't quite believe the reasonable prices on the lunch menu. This light meal was perhaps the closest we got to typically Dutch restaurant food: delicious soups and sandwiches at a price that seemed unbelievable for a European capital.

For example, I savored the "creamy spinach soup with goat’s cheese and pieces of smoked chicken," a meal in itself, for only 4,50 euros.

I don't really want to go into detail about what followed: the last-minute souvenir shopping, the taxi trip to the airport, Starbucks in Schipol.

All of that went well, but it's not what I will recall years from now.

"Holidays must end as you know/All is memory taken home with me" (Nathalie Merchant)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Don't be afraid of 1st grade!

I took this photo a few Septembers back, and never got up the gumption to blog about it. After all, I am a teacher in France, even if I'm not part of the Education Nationale, and I don't want this blog to become a platform for ragging on the French school system.

But s'il vous please -- can you believe the theme of this magazine? "The first magazine to [help you] succeed in [the equivalent of] 1st grade"?

Among the colorful, eye-catching, pitches on this magazine's promotional poster was "Même pas peur!" -- "Not even afraid!" -- as if shaking in their little bottes would be the natural state of a French first grader (who has normally already been through three or four years of free public pre-school.)

I don't know if CP Champions is still in print, but I rather hope not.