{ 30 September 2002 }
4:16 PM |  
I'm in Dubai International Airport right now sitting at an internet cafe. I have Euros, Dollars, and ...Dubai money... in my pocket right now and I'm itching to take a looksee at the Duty Free shop.

Our plane was quite equipped, with 18 videogames, a Chinese pop music channel, and two outside cameras that let you get a frontward and downward view of the plane. The map feature showed us careening across Europe and around Iraq in order to land in Dubai--which, by the way, is in the United Arab Emirates. Don't feel bad if you didn't know. I didn't until about a month ago. But if you did, more power to you.

Okay, time's running out on my 40 minutes. See you in Hong Kong.

{ 28 September 2002 }
10:36 AM |  
coming soon: musee d'orsay, eiffel tower at sunset, la defense and sitting on a houseboat listening to an old war correspondent.

{ 23 September 2002 }
10:36 AM |  
September 20, 2002

Note to self: Never order a drink named after the place if you're trying to be discreet.

A bunch of us wanted to go out to drink or dance tonight, and since it was one girl's birthday, we decided to go out and celebrate. We went to this place close to my hotel called "Latin Corner Cafe."

Nonchalantly, I ordered a non-alcoholic drink called "Le Latin Corner." The waiter took my order and walked off.

The bar seemed to get warmer, and the orange walls didn't seem to help. I continued watching "Braveheart," interspersed with periodic conversation with the people around me. The waiter began coming back with numerous drinks, starting at the other end of the table and moving toward me. He left time and time again to bring back more drinks.

And then, suddenly, he came out with a fruit drink unlike any other. It was sparkling and flashing because of a fireworks sparkler stuck into a piece of pineapple hanging off the side of the glass. I shuddered when I realized it was mine.

Everyone starts asking me what wonderful drink I got.

"What's that? It's so cool."

"It's just fruit juice. It doesn't even have any alcohol in it."

But they must have missed that last line, because after I quickly finished the drink, they seemed to marvel at my alcoholic fortitude. And for those of you who know me, I have NO such tolerance.

"Wow, you downed that fast."

"Well, it's just fruit juice."

"My drink's just fruit juice, too."

No, I tell them in my head.... it really is just fruit juice... hehe, anyway....

QuestOTD: What's the name of that woman in Braveheart? She was in 007 too.

10:35 AM |  
September 18, 2002

A revision of my postcard to Cherryl:

Dear Cherryl,

The thing about postcards is that every little space counts. And you even have to watch out for spaces that could potentially be covered up by postage stamps and whatnot. Well, I wanted to send you this particular postcard because this is one of the coolest places in Paris. It's called Sacre Coeur, and it's the highest point in the city other than the Eiffel Tower. You have to walk up a huge hill to get to the church at the top. The church itself is laden with mosaics adn sculptures and paintings, and you can climb som 300+ steps and see the city from the near-top of the dome. It's funny--you're all tired and your legs hurt and you're breathing heavily and you're almost cursing the steps (but you can't, you're in a church), and then all of a sudden, you walk out to the dome balcony and forget everything in the midst of the breathtaking view before you. The city sprawls all around you, and the Eiffel Tower rises up to greet you in the distance like a familiar old friend saying, "Yeah, it's high up, ain't it?" And you get lost in the history, imagining the millions of lives around you, the millions of lives that have helped to form this man-made metropolitan marvel, and even the millions of years that have passed by where nothing you can see from atop the dome even existed.

It's easy to think of forests and mountains as living, breathing and changing. It's much harder to imagine walls, buildings and streets in the same way. But everything is dynamic in this world. Crazy, huh.

I'm not on drugs, I promise.

Question of the Day: If you could alter one event in all of history, which would it be, and why? (I guess that's 2 questions)

10:34 AM |  
September 17, 2002

Today was the first real day of class. Unfortunately, it was also the first day I didn't suddenly awaken at 6:30 a.m. Therefore, I was slightly late to class.

What class I made, however, was interesting enough. Our two speakers for today were a USA Today foreign correspondent and a spokesman for Reporters Sans Frontiers, a Paris-based advocacy group on the same vein as Doctors Without Borders, but of course for reporters.

After class, I joined three other guys and headed to the Arc D'Triomphe. From what we heard, it's uncommon for Paris to have such beautiful weather in the fall. It was pristine, something similar to a typical LA autumn day, which I guess makes sense since they have similar climates. However, Paris is supposed to have more rain.

Anyway, we got to the Arc after walking the Champs Elysses (I seem to be repeating many trips... maybe I'll go to Notre Dame again, :) ). In line, we heard a man in front of us yelling for a refund because the elevator was broken and they couldn't walk up the 284 steps to the top of the arch. However, being all of us spry young men, we decided to brave the steps (Chris and I already had the practice anyhow).

Nonetheless, this became a difficult task around step #200. Thank goodness, however, the French architects must have realized that that would be the case, and they created a little area inside the arch to house things that comemorated Napoleon's victories, paintings, busts, etc. A short climb later, there was another section of museumish items. Finally, we broke through to the top and walked out to a beautiful view of Paris.

My impression is that Paris looks a lot like Los Angeles. Both cities are shorter, with an emphasis on width rather than height. Of course, Paris has a much more old-school flair, with its European rooftops and narrow streets. The view from the Arc reminded me of my handy dandy Marriott map--that is, a consistent flatness from rooftop to rooftop with the occasional landmark jutting out about the rest. The Eiffel Tower doesn't look that big form the Arc d'Triomphe.

Another 284 steps later, we walked out of the stairwell and unexpectedly into a French military ceremony going on right below the arch. According to Lee's Top Ten book, once a month French veterans rekindle the flame burning at the arch in remembrance of comrades fallen in battle. The ceremony happens at exactly 6:30 p.m. once a month, and involved some trumpet playing, and several marching veterans pushing something into the flame to make it burn higher. What a coincidence that we just happened to be at the Arc and walk down the steps at the perfect time to catch the ceremony.

A short walk/bus ride later, we arrived at the American University in Paris. We were attending a concert tonight by a choral group that I have seen twice already and am always impressed to listen to. They're called Chanticleer, and it's basically a souped-up--read "professional"--all-male a cappella group from San Francisco. They perform Renaissance choral music as well as some more contemporary choral stuff. So good! The soloist on "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" and the bass guy were really good. And the "Shenendoah" encore, as one of my friends said, "gave me chills." Well, I didn't get chills... but she did. So that's cool.

It must have been Music Night, because the guys and I topped the night off with yet another long walk to a really nice jazz club. And I drank so much wine that I fell asleep at the table and they took a picture of me.

And by "so much," I mean half a glass. :)

Question of the day: Does robotic gyrating of two women on the stage make for good backup dancers to a jazz band? (It's a fairly rhetorical question)

{ 18 September 2002 }
10:05 AM |  
September 16, 2002

Louvre and the Avenue Champs Elysses. Lots of walking today. Yet again. Paris is such a walking city. I really need to start using my bus/subway pass. Apparently I bought the wrong kind of pass for an exorbitant amount of money, what someone said was 3 times what they pay for bs fare in a month.

After the morning seminar, which consisted of a woman telling us that we were foreigners, but that the French don't hate Americans (just American policy), a group of us headed off toward the Louvre. There was a moment of indecision. If we went into the museum, we would be paying a reduced ticket price. But it was a nice day, and there was also the possibility of going up the Arc d'Triomphe [sic]. And yes, I had already been there and seen most of the stuff the others wanted to see.

But once we got to the Louvre courtyard, with the huge I.M. Pei pyramid, I think everyone wanted to go in, including me. So we did, and I have to tell you... seeing the Louvre while un-jet-lagged is a much better experience.

One thing I wanted to see was an exhibit that was closed last time around, an area of large Greek sculptures and a hug mosaic floor.

It's amazing how well ancient Greek sculpture captures fluidity of fabric and smoothness of skin. I like to look at sculptures and imagine the rock that's been chipped away, and the whole process that goes into making these paintings.

Lee, this guy I met today, has a book called Top Ten etc. of Paris. This book has anything top ten you can think of--jazz clubs, eateries, landmarks, etc. It even had the top ten things to see in the Louvre (the museum itself was the No. 1 thing to see in Paris, supposedly).

Afterward, we walked forever down the Champs Elysses, past the Arc, into this high-class neighborhood. We were on our way to a dinner party hosted by a Northwestern professor who also was a former president of the American University in Paris. Nice place. We get into the cramped eleveator--lifts in France hold like 3 people uncomfortably, 4 people even worse.

But once you step out of the elevator, you're there. It's a two story condo with a beautiful balcony overlooking the Avenue Foch, which far enough down ends up at the Arc d'Triomphe.

Every party in Paris has wine, cheese, bread and then something else. In this case, the something else was chicken, lasagna and a salad that was so good, though I can't really tell what was in it (some oil, some sauces, etc.). We played piano, we enjoyed speeches, we wined, dined, etc. T'was enjoyed by all.

Afterward, there was a really really really really really really really long walk. Chris and I walked this girl back to her place, which was a couple miles from the party, and then took the Metro back to our place. On the map, it didn't seem far, but believe me, it was.

Oh, it was. I mean, maybe it wouldn't be as bad on some other day. But on a day where we walked the Louvre, the Champs Elysses, and a whole lot more, the walk from the party at 11 p.m. was the straw that broke the camel's feet. I think I fell asleep on the Metro briefly before Chris announced that we reached out stop.

And that was that. I think I plopped down and died on my bed. After the six-story climb.

{ 16 September 2002 }
5:18 AM |  
September 15, 2002

There was a lot of walking today. Chris and I walked around, winding our way through Paris streets (I use "winding" a lot because that's exactly what the streets of Paris are like). We found this little bakery next to the Jardin du Luxembourg, where we got a sandwich, drink and dessert for 5 Euros. And the dessert was a slice of flan cake that was at least as big as the sandwich. I wonder how many eggs went into that.

We ate lunch at the park, and it consisted mostly of looking at large pigeons sit on the head of the statue of some famous French guy, and watching a boy play badminton with his mom and dad. Sadly, only the dad showed any real badminton acumen.

At around 1pm, we showed up at Professor Jack Doppelt's place, and in the next couple hours people started filing in. A couple had just flown in, and others had come from around Europe. Jarrett Banks was there, interestingly enough, though he wasn't a mmeber of the Global program. He said he was just going through Europe for fun.

I've come to realize that I'm not very social outside of broadcast people and those from my own quarter. I wonder why. Maybe it's the undergrad NU experience.

There was more walking after that, and we saw several majestic buildings, and a bigger portion of the Luxembourg Park. Oh my goodness, it was beautiful. Fountains everywhere, flowers everywhere, huge groves of monolithic trees, a palace-type building in the middle, and tons of people of all ages speaking numerous languages, all seemingly enjoying the park. In the main fountain there were several small toy sailboats moving around on their own, and kids with long sticks were reaching into the huge fountain, each trying to get their chance to puch one of the sailboats. On the east end of the park was a festival celebrating Tibet or something.

We went to this French restaurant for dinner, but we showed up at 6:30 p.m., and many of these restaraunts in Paris apparently don't open until 7 p.m. So while a group of us walked around, Chris and I sat at some cafe, sipping on coffee and hot chocolate. He was sketching, I was playing Big Two on my PDA.

Then we went to some French restaurant, one of those places you knew was pretty good because most of the people there seemed of the local populace. I wanted to know which was better, the fish or the pork, and the waitress, in her limited English, incredulously said, "One ees feesh, one ees pork?" followed by something in French that probably translated to, "How the heck can you compare the two?"

I think there was an internet cafe and a walk to a subway station later that night, but it's been two days already, and what I don't write down, I forget. Sorta.

But it was definitely a relaxing day.

Today's Question: Fish or Pork?

5:17 AM |  
September 14, 2002

Today was much less eventful than yesterday. But there is one underlying theme for the entire day:


Much of today was spent lugging things up stairs and downstairs. Let’s review:

I had to cart my luggage to the Marriott van and then pick up the suitcases to carry them up the steps of the shuttle. Not so bad, considering there were three steps and it was the first strenuous carrying I had to do.

While I was fortunate enough to have an escalator at the train station, I still had to deal with hoisting the luggage onto the train, which, by the way, is not completely level with the platform.

With a large crowd barring my way from the exit, I had to do a bit of pushing to get my two large suitcases, backpack, and duffel-type bag out of the train. I rolled the luggage to the nearest escalator, which was fine, but I later realized that I had taken the escalator to a different platform, and this one had no escalator going up to the exit.

So yes, Iron Man Owen carried all his luggage up the stairs at once and found himself along the Seine at Pont St. Michel.

It was a stroke of luck, actually, as I found after looking at my map for 10 minutes, trying to understand the street names. You see, the hotel was right down the street from the exit I had come out of. Thus, it was only a short roll before I turned left into a small alley wherein lay Delhy’s, my hotel for the next 2 weeks.

It was something out of a foreign exchange student movie. I opened the door, and as the doorbell chime announced my arrival, I walked into a narrow hallway, with two rooms on the left. The décor was decidedly French and a bit artsy, with photos and art hanging from the walls, and the walls themselves painted a light mustard yellow. The first room on the left was obviously the reception room, as the counter and wall of keys revealed. The next room looked like a small dining area, with some round wooden tables and a door to a small kitchen.

A girl was sitting at the desk. She had a bit of baggage, and seemed to be a student as well. I looked down to put down my backpack and to wipe off some sweat.

When I looked up there was this largish black woman with something wrapped around her head, standing in the kitchen doorway. She was smoking a cigarette.

She motioned to a chair, and said something to me in French.

If I remember correctly, I gave an apologetic smile and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French.”

She barely noticeably flicked her eyes up and turned around, then motioned back to the chair. I took this to mean she wanted me to wait. So I did.

A few minutes later, a man came out. He apologized for taking so long-he had been showering-and took me intot he other room, where he gave me a key.

Here’s where stairs come in yet again.

He says to me, “Your roooom eez on floor fife. And dair eez no lift.”

“No lift?” I nearly exclaimed. Instead it came out as exasperated.

“I’m sorry, no lift,” he says as he walks out of the reception are back into the kitchen.

Damn, I’m thinking…. Five floors and four bags.

Oh, and it’s not really five floors. It’s six. In both hotels I’ve been in, the first floor is more a “Zeroth” floor than a first.

I decided to tackle it one bag at a time, a couple floors at a time. The first time I got to the top, I opened the door, wanting to see if my roommate had arrived yet. Well, he did, but that was hardly the first thing to pop into my head.

The room was barely bigger than my previous night’s bathroom. There were two tiny beds and almost no walking space. A 15-inch TV was attached to the wall only 6 inches off the celing. A tiny sink was in the corner. There was a tiny desk with a chair that you can’t even sit in because there was no room to pull it out. At least the cabinet was big. Big enough for one person. But two would be interesting.

About 15-20 minutes later, I’m heaving and panting and sweating and exhausted as I bring my last bag up the spiraling narrow staircase to the top floor. My consoling thought about being on the fifth floor were twofold-at least I would get a workout at least once a day, and at least I might have a good view.

Ixnay on the iewvay. I have a building in my line of sight. And it ain’t pretty. Well, at least I have the exercise.

I turn on the TV, and voile, it’s Baywatch, a show that speaks an international language, even if the actors are speaking in French.

So I’m putting away my stuff when my roommate, Chris, shows up. Good for him, he’s been walking around the river, checking out the book stores and sandwich shops. But the flight had tired him, he said, so he took a nap. And, after reading a bit, so did I.

I woke up after he did, sometime around 8:20pm. Chris and I decide to get some dinner, and we wound our way down the stairs. About an hour later, we got to the first floor. J Well, it seemed like it. As we walked out, the new receptionist guy asked me if I had my key. I told him yes, and he told me to give it to him. Apparently, at this hotel, you’re supposed to leave your key with the people for safe keeping or something. But, not knowing this, I had changed the label on the key from the heavy knob thing it came with to my smaller keychain.

He would have none of this, and even as he apologized, he insisted that I put the knob thing back on. Here’s the problem. It’s back in our room.

So yes, I went up six floors to get my keychain, and came six floors down to give it to him. He apologized again. I was like, whatever.

Anyway, we went out and grabbed a bite to eat at this Italian restaurant with decent prices. Note to self: decent prices=not so decent food.

Back at the hotel, I got the key from the guy, who apologized again. Maybe he thought I was going to Jackie Chan his ass. Just kidding. Anyway, nothing else happened all night.

Except going back up the stairs to get to our room. I think the problem is not the six flights, it’s only the final floor. I’m usually tired out by the fifth floor (“Floor 4”), but it’s the last flight that totally destroys me.

And I must endure this for two weeks. Dang.

Question of the Day: Where are those 60 Euro-cent baguettes Gina was telling me about? Everything is at least 3 Euros here.

5:17 AM |  
September 13, 2002

Maybe it was the jet lag, or maybe it was the fact that I was flying to Paris on an American Airlines jet through New York to Paris one days after Sept. 11, but I didn't really think about where I am and what I'm doing here until a couple hours after I got to Paris. More about that later.

From the airport, I paid a cabbie 20 Euros to drive me to the hotel. He was a nice Cambodian guy, and he told me en route that I could have taken the free hotel shuttle and saved myself a bundle (the trip was only 12 Euros worth, but apparently there's this 20 Euro minimum when taxi drivers handle baggage).

In any case, I arrived at the Courtyard Inn by the Charles De Gaulle Airport. Let me tell you, this is not your ordinary American Courtyard Inn. I think of it more as a Marriott Rennaissance-styl hotel. It's not tall, but boy if it ain't luxurious. I get a nice king-size all to myself, and there's this beautiful little internet "business computing area," which of course also costs money to use.

Anyway, I got to the hotel and settled in roughly at 9 a.m. By the time I had showered and lounged and bummed around and checked my email, it was around 10:30 a.m. I have this whole day to myself, I think to myself. So I figured I would go out to Paris and get some sightseeing taken care of. Yes, all by myself.

I took the shuttle to the train station, and paid another 15 Euros to buy a round-trip ticket downtown. By this point I'm marvelling at how much everything costs here. Remember, one Euro is pretty close to one dollar. The train system (at least the one that I was on) reminds me a lot of Chicago's Metra system. Big trains, real fast. The one thing I remember is the whoom sound another train makes when it speeds by you, and how suddenly, it's gone.

I went to Notre Dame first. I don't think I stepped inside the cathedral last time I was there, so it was interesting to see all the stuff going on. The whole setup has tourists walking counterclockwise along the walls of the cathedral while real Catholic ceremonies, prayers and confessions are going on around ther hubbub. There were many many statues and tributes to saints and apostles, and places to put prayer candles (which cost 2 Euros). I do have to say it's amazing in its architecture and artistry. I was most fascinated by the detailed stained-glass windows and some of the flying buttresses on the little garden walkway along the river side of the church. Oh, and being a tourist, I bought one of those medallions at the exit.

After Notre Dame, I was getting a bit hungry, so I ventured out along some of the nearby sidewalks and shops, eventually stopping at a small sandwich shop (of which there are dozens) to get a Poulet with Chicken. Basically, it was a chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomatos and mayonnaise, all on a long loaf of French bread. It tasted good--methinks it was the mayonnaise--and as I walked around I suddenly came to a realization.

Here I was, eating a baguette while crossing a bridge on the river Seine in Paris, France. A Mediterranean breeze was blowing through my hair. I could see the Eiffel Tower a ways away, and the distinctly European streets and buildings surrounded me. No, it wasn't really as romantic as people say, but then again, it was noon and the streets were crowded with tourists.

Walking around some more, I began passing some bigger stores. I was now on the north side of the river. After winding around the streets, I found my way to a creperie along the river. There I took Gina's advice and bought a crepe with Nutella sauce and bananas. Good choice. Very very sweet, almost too much so, but it was definitely good.

Eating my crepe, I found myself walking into the huge courtyard of the Louvre Museum. The place reminded me of an inverted Tech, where the courtyard was the literal size of the Tech Institute at Northwestern. I sat down for a while, staring at the fountain in the center of the courtyard, watching people take snapshots of beautiful rooftops and beautiful companions.

Second realization: Now I'm sitting at the Louvre Museum, eating a chocolate+banane crepe. Weird.

Well, I think, I'm here at the museum, and I know this place is huge, maybe I"ll try tackling some of it today. So I walked across the mostly cobblestone courtyard ground and made my way to the main entrance of the Louvre--you know, the huge I.M. Pei glass pyramids (which were controversial, I read somewhere).

I guess many people don't like the pyramids. I think I could see why. They don't fit there. All around is classical architecture, with a European flair, that statue thing to the west, the river to the south, the museum all around. But here, in the middle of everything, are a couple glass and steel pyramids, reaching higher than photos give credit, surrounded by fountains with walkways that, for the casual observer, give the impression that people are wading through the water.

The museum lobby itself was amazingly reminiscent of the courtyard to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, with high ceilings, the stone scheme, the winding stairwell. I think its purposefully done in a sort of neutral manner in order to give the rest of the museum a more classical feel.

There are, however, some places in the museum where the architecture is done to complement the pieces on display. For example, there were soaring columns in some of the Greek sculpture areas. There were draperies and stuff over at the Italian paintings. There were large stone pillars, giving a tomb-like feeling near some of the Egyptian art.

And there are stairs, stairs everywhere. And so much walking to do. It was breathtaking in both artistry and distance to walk.

So I saw the Mona Lisa. It's smaller than one would imagine, and it's rather unassuming for one of if not the most valuable painting in the world. Maybe that's the magic behind it.

By now I was getting really tired, and I think jet lag was finally catching up to me. I circled around the Venus de Milo (which I liked a lot better than the Mona Lisa) and the Victory at Samothrace and the Coronation of Napoleon, which is HUGE.

I was trying to leave the museum but I kept finding my way into other exhibits. So I saw Spanish paintings and medieval Louvre architecture and several old Greek statues.

The rest is history, really, literally! It was proabably 4 p.m. when I left the museum and walked several blocks (in the meantime buying another sandwich, for dinner) to the Metro, which I took back to the airport. By the time I got back to the hotel, it was 6ish (delays on the train, etc.). I watched TV for a bit, then fell asleep. I woke up at midnight, checked my email, then came back to my room to eat my sandwich and begin writing this.

And now I"m tired again. Good night.

Question of the Day: What did ancient Greeks put in their museums?

{ 12 September 2002 }
3:44 AM |  
6 hours, 18 minutes until the plane to Paris sets... uh... sail.

Regardless of the fact that I'm flying through New York on an American Airlines jet the day after Sept. 11, I'm finally getting excited about this trip.

Damn, I have a lot to take care of still.

{ 10 September 2002 }
12:06 PM |  
Now, a gripe about UPS... My 6 shipped boxes came today, but I was appalled by the way they handled it.

First of all, they don't seem to like to actually deliver the packages. Apparently they came yesterday, and I was even home when they stopped by, and I never heard the doorbell ring.

Today, the guy stopped by, and I just happened to be by the stairs, which are close to the door. To the guy's credit, he knocked loud (maybe he couldn't find the doorbell).

But as i came down the stairs i saw him scurrying off through the door. AFTER ONE KNOCK. I ran to the door, threw open the window and said. "Hello?" And from my driveway around the corner, I hear a muffled, "UPS, you want to open the garage?"

(BTW, the sticker that says "we attempted a delivery" was already on the door)

Second, they completely mangled my boxes. They were all relatively new when I sent them, and now, except one, they look really bad.

To my horror, the delivery guy starts chucking my packages to the ground, right in front of me! But not my computer at least--it was in the back of a very messy truck. However, to get to it, the guy steps on top of someone else's box, which is already partially ripped opened.




question: What is "onasteek?" answer: a silly name from a silly joke from a time long past. but enough about onasteek. let's talk about me.


other blogs:

IHaveAQuestion - Mofesta - Leesaaahh - Minsoo - MaestraChoe - AYSo - Derfman - E.L.Cheung - Redge - Christine -


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