Sunday, July 28

I visit Roland Garros and get to stand on center court.

Grammar homework finished. All that's left is studying for the phonetics test tomorrow morning.

It's actually cool here today and it feels very good.

Flash update: The millefeuille is still awesome.

OMG, I stood on the red clay of center court at Roland Garros, court Philippe Chatrier. I know only one other person who cares, but this was one of the biggest moments of the summer for me.

By the time I finished the tour of Roland Garros I was a bit too tired to do the big Bois de Boulogne as originally planned. I can do that some other day.

Tickets for the finals of the French Open cost up to 1,500€, and that's before the after-market kicks in.

I saw those Panama hats that lots of the men wear in the stands at the matches. Thought I might get one. They were 100€. Forget it!

When I played tennis as a kid, I dreamed that I was on center court at Roland Garros. Didn't take long to figure out that I wasn't going to realize that dream. Except today I did!

Told another guy in the small tour group that it would be such a blast to be able to hit just one ball on that court. I wouldn't even care if it went into the net, which it probably would. Just one ball. He laughed and agreed with me.

I got good and lost trying to find the stade (stadium) after I got off the train. Ended up in the southern part of the Bois de Boulogne wandering through the woods. It was beautiful, and I definitely need to return and take that bike ride. With the help of my map app I ended up making a great big spiral kind of path that finally ended at the entrance to Roland Garros, which turned out to be only a few blocks from the train station where I had started. Funny but typical and actually a fun thing to do. The stadium was empty and spooky, with almost everything blocked off. After a few minutes a nice gentleman approached me and asked if I needed help. He told me that there was a group tour starting in just 10 minutes, so I bought a ticket and raced to join the group of 20 or so people taking the tour. The tour guide was a pleasant young French woman who conducted the tour in English. We started in the press areas, then went to the locker rooms, then out on the court. That was all there was to it, but it was tons of fun.

I told the guide "Un jour, Tsonga gagnera", "One day, Tsonga will win". That got a smile. Probably could only happen if Nadal got run over by a train, though.

I've been practicing my little speech for Wednesday. We have to get up in front of the class and talk for 5 minutes or so about "the most important object in my life." Kind of a little show-and-tell. Here's what I came up with, first in French, then in English. I hope it goes well!

I need to dumb it down because the prof said today not to use any big words that we looked up that the other students don't already know. So for example I replaced "gère mes finances" (manage my finances) with "paye mon loyer" (pay my rent). I think most of the other words are OK. Maybe "suffisante" (sufficient) needs changing, but I don't think so. And we can't read it and we aren't supposed to memorize it. Except by now I already know most of it by heart.

French:

J'ai choisi mes ordinateurs comme les plus importants objets dans 
ma vie.

Voici un de mes ordinateurs. (Show iPad). Et voici mon portable. 
(Show iPhone). C'est aussi vraiment un ordinateur, en plus d'un 
téléphone, n'est-ce pas? Chez moi j'ai aussi un ordinateur portable. 
Je suis venu à Paris bien armé pour des batailles électronique.

Pourquoi mes ordinateurs sont-ils importants? 

Dans mon travail j'ai écrit des logiciels. Les ordinateurs ont 
été mon métier. Mais je ne travail plus, je suis en retraite, 
donc celui n'est pas la raison.

Comment j'utilise mes ordinateurs dans ma vie quotidienne? L'après-midi 
je lis des journaux et des blogs économiques et politiques partisans 
de gauche. Je gère mes finances. Je fait la recherche pour mes devoirs. 
Je consulte la météo et des plans de Paris et du métro. Je regarde 
des films vidéos amusants sur YouTube. Ce sont des mêmes sortes de 
choses que tout le monde fait chaque jour sur ses ordinateurs. 
Ces activités sont importantes mais banales. Elles ne sont pas 
suffisantes pour dire que « mes ordinateurs sont les plus importants 
objets dans ma vie ».

Alors, quelle est la raison fundamentale? Je suis tout seul à Paris 
cette été, sans famille et sans amis. Mes ordinateurs rendent possible 
une famille virtuelle et des amis virtuels. Par exemple: Ils me demandent 
« que vas-tu faire aujourd'hui à Paris? » et « ton cours, ça va bien? » et 
« qu'est-ce que c'est la chute de 'e'? » et « combien coutent des bons 
vins en France? ». Ils disent « je souhaite être là avec toi » et « j'adore 
tes photos ». Ils me donnent leurs conseils: « il faut manger plus de 
legumes et de fruits! » et « tu dois visiter l'Opéra! ». Nous parlons 
de nos journées, de nos petits triomphes, et de nos ennuis, comme nous 
étions en face à face. Par conséquent, j'ai l'impression que je ne 
suis pas vraiment tout seul.

Pour conclure, mes ordinateurs sont importants, mail ils ne sont 
qu'un moyen pour atteindre un but, des machines sans âmes. Les choses 
les plus importantes sont ma famille et mes amis.

English:

I chose my computers as the most important objects in my life.

Here's one of my computers. (Show iPad). And here's my cell phone. 
(Show iPhone). It's also really a computer in addition to a phone. 
At home I also have a laptop computer. I came to Paris well-armed 
for electronic battle.

Why are my computers important?

In my work I wrote computer software. Computers were my profession. 
But I don't work anymore, I'm retired, so that's not the reason.

How do I use my computers in my everyday life? In the afternoon I 
read newspapers and left-wing economics and political blogs. I manage 
my finances. I do research for my homework. I consult the weather 
forecast and maps of Paris and the métro. I watch funny videos on 
YouTube. These are the same sorts of things that everyone does every 
day on their computers. These activities are important but banal. 
The aren't sufficient to say that "my computers are the most important 
objects in my life."

So what is the fundamental reason? I'm all alone in Paris this summer, 
without family or friends. My computers make possible a virtual family 
and virtual friends. For example: They ask me "what are you going to do 
today in Paris?" and "is your class going well?" and "what's the chute 
of the 'e'?" and "how much does good wine cost in France?". They say 
"I wish I were there with you" and "I love your photos". They give me advice:
"you need to eat more vegetables and fruit!" and "you must visit the opera!". 
We talk about our days, our little triumphs, and our problems, just like we 
were face-to-face. As a result, I feel like I'm not really alone.

To conclude, my computers are important, but they're only a means to an 
end, machines without souls. The most important things are my family and
friends.

Boulevard Périphérique, the big highway that circles Paris. Just like our freeways, except the signs are in French.

At the entrance to Roland Garros.

The press room where the players give their post-match interviews. If a top player doesn't show up, it's a 25,000€ fine.

A gigantic picture of the men's singles ("simple messieurs") trophy in the hallway of the locker room.

Rafa Nadal's locker, number 159. The top players are very superstitious and insist on the same locker every year.

It's a tradition for players who win on center court to sign their names on the wall of the stairway leading up from the locker rooms.

Center court from the player's point of view. I'm going to beat you, Djokovic!

Center court from the umpire's chair. Avantage Tsonga!

We were restricted to the perimeter and the stands. We couldn't actually go on the main playing surface. I don't know if they hold any matches here the rest of the year. It would certainly be a waste not to.

The names of all the past winners, men and women, are engraved all the way around the outside of the stadium. They haven't engraved the names for 2013 yet.

Bumblebee and flowers in Square des Poètes.

Flowers and fountain next to the Porte d'Auteuil métro station.