Maîtres mots

  • Il y a longtemps que notre pays est beau mais rude.

       --Newspaper editor Olivier Séguret, 25 January 2012

    The USA are entirely the creation of the accursed race, the French.

       --Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), writing to Nancy Mitford, 22 May 1957

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French Freedom of Speech

Today the cheminots are:

  • "À nous de vous faire préférer le train!"
    "Voyager autrement"
    "Avec le SNCF, tout est possible"
      --Former ad slogans of the SNCF (French national trains), each in turn quickly dropped

Fun French words

  • ouistiti

    (literally: marmoset)
    Etymology: onomatopoeia from the sound a marmoset makes. Actual meaning: this is what you say in France when you want people to smile for the camera.

    Selon une étude réalisée par le fabricant d’appareils photo Nikon, le « ouistiti » utilisé en France au moment de se faire prendre en photo est le petit mot le plus efficace pour s’assurer un joli sourire.

Who's en colère today?

  • Private sector

    First strike in 43 years at an aeronautics company in Toulouse, Latécoère

    Public sector

    The SNCF (toujours eux), regional train employees in the Lyons area guaranteeing unpleasant travel from the 17th-21st December
    Also yet another strike by Sud-Rail, a particularly truculent SNCF union in the south of France, this time five days in January: 6,7, 21, 22 and 23. "We have no choice." Right.

    Marseilles trams on strike until February

Go back to school in Paris!

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Wow, you've seriously never heard of it occuring in the States? My own sister had lice when we were kids, and we were living in a pretty tony suburban area of Florida. I even remember the special shampoo she had to use (it was called Rit or Rid or something) and not only did my mother not panic, I didn't even have to use the shampoo myself, and the problem was solved pretty quickly and without fuss.

This is not a French phenomenon, they're very common in the UK as well. As we were constantly reminded, lice prefer nice clean hair so it's not a personal slight. No drama in our household, just nit shampoo and a special comb at the first appearance. I think I remember being more upset that my poor big teddy (who I liked to use as a pillow) had to be treated as well.

I never had them and never knew anyone that had them. I taught at a Hollywood middle school for 5 years and never ran into them. I feel the same phobia that you do.
Lice prefer clean hair?

I think they are fairly common in the US, except there is definitely a bigger stigma and thus a lot of rules to follow. They weren't what I would call common at the elementary school I worked at but they occurred frequently enough that teachers tended to wear their hair up to prevent themselves from getting contaminated, plus there were no "dress-up hats" or things like that. Kids were not supposed to come back until they were rid of all the nits and eggs, although I'm not sure the school nurse had to verify before they came back. The lice problem tended to run in the younger grades. I can appreciate the laid-back attitude that it's normal, because it does happen, but I definitely appreciate any preventative action on the part of the parents and school to not spread them.

What DID shock me here was the fact that so many children in my area tend to have worms. I don't know anyone who had worms, but they seem to be very common here.

I could have written another long post about the worms, but decided it was too gross--another thing I encountered for the first time in my life within the first few weeks in France. The most shocking thing to me was that the doctor who treated the kids didn't wash his hands afterwards and then came to shake my hand!

Here in S. California we went through a couple of cootie episodes, when the children were the typical age. We all went around with mayonnaise in our hair for a week -- it wasn't much fun but we didn't feel ashamed.

Speaking as the mother of a nit-magnet, and after having bought nearly all the shampoos in France, I have to say that Paranix is the best one I've come across so far.

I mean, it actually worked.

This post made my head itchy.

I grew up at a small country school and there was probably a lice scare once a year, although my sisters and I only had to do the shampoo/comb-torture routine once or twice. One of the big rules at school was no sharing hats and maybe that is one the reasons it seems more common in northern WI than in someplace like southern California?
The first time I heard of someone having worms I was shocked, however. I'm pretty certain that worms cannot be caught via a handshake- this is something that kids apparently caught by sleeping over... don't even want to finish the logical conclusion of that thought.

My kids got them at the sandbox. After the second time, that was the end of sandboxes! and of worms.


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Today's quotation

  • In Paris, the purest virtue is the object of the filthiest slander.

      –Honoré Balzac (1799-1850), in Scènes de la vie privée

    À Paris, la vertu la plus pure est l'objet des plus sales calomnies.

Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

  • Annual Geminids meteor shower (shooting stars!) coming this weekend, if it's not too cloudy out at night.

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