Tag Archives: bureaucracy

Sans frontières

“The more primitive a man is, the better he believes himself to be…Doubt and tolerance are the characteristics of civilised man.”
— Marill to Kern, in Prague

East Berlin

In January, 1984, one of the few places you could cross into East Berlin was at the Friedrichstrasse station, a transfer point for the U– and S-bahn, subway and tram. There you went through East German passport control, had your passport stamped, were several times informed that you could only stay for twenty-four hours, and last, but most important to the government of the ironically named German Democratic Republic, the required currency conversion from a Western currency (dollars, francs, lira, etc.) to the Mark der DDR; since I travelled with West German Marks, I converted those. The coins of East Germany felt so cheap that I could easily snap a coin in half. Continue Reading

A Tale of Two Fingers….and One Tendon

November, 2009 – Belmont, California My Japanese garden machete is from Soko Hardware in San Francisco. Soko is one of those urban hardware stores where in addition to finding screws, toilet plungers, and extension cords, there’s a large selection of white paper lamp shades, pottery in dark blues, greens, and golds; metal teapots, and craft… Continue Reading

France Annoyances – Banking

France Annoyances – Banking

O’Reilly Media, best known for its books on high technology – the books often have distinctive pen and ink drawings of animals – has a book series called annoyances: Windows 7 Annoyances, Mac Annoyances, and so on: these books address common problems on these systems or software and provide solutions for them. Annoyances seems like a useful… Continue Reading

Grand frère is watching you

Grand frère is watching you

Carcasonne Technology continues to mitigate the need for human contact. Recently I was exceeding the speed limit on a highway, but instead of being pulled over the ticket came in the mail, a number of days after the actual event. See the image below. The salient information is that at 3:23 in the afternoon of Wednesday, February… Continue Reading

Off the grid

Not the electrical grid. I’m talking about the insititutional grid: a w-2 type living at the same address for at least five years with a good driving record, low cholesterol, regular bowel movements, and three people who can give you character references Continue Reading

L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace

This story begins before I am certain how it will end. Tomorrow my family and I interview at the French Embassy; we are applying for long stay visas so we can live in France for a year.  In addition to a mountain of paperwork, the process requires an in-person interview with all family members (there… Continue Reading