Sonoma County, Reverse Fraud, Keeping Abreast and Get Shorty …

Just back in Paris after a brief stint stateside. Other than the chili cheese fries and deep-fried butter, the highlight of the visit was a stay up in Sonoma County, specifically in Jenner.

Sunset from River's End - Jenner

I had a spectacularly good time with some of my favorite people around. I don’t usually do this in my blog but I feel compelled to thank a few people specifically for a truly memorable couple of days:

Steve & Tammi (and G) – thank you for all your advice, help and caring; for my favorite melon-ball related meal of the year and for making sure I know when I’ll see you next (wooohooo!).

Bert & Stephanie (and I & S) – thank you for hosting us all and for creating a truly memorable evening; for elevating my existence with grapes from 1927 and decreasing my life expectancy with those desserts; and thank you Isabella for adding me to your contacts on your iPad.

Brandon & Shona – thank you for making me laugh my ass off; for not running us over in Healdsburg and for sharing some of the same spelling-related neuroses as me.

Patty – thank you for some great conversation and laughs, being kind to us and for making me feel like a lazy ass each time I get on my bicycle!

You people live well in a wonderful part of the world and I can’t wait to see you all again really soon.

Ok, on to some French related stories that caught my eye over the last few weeks …

One of the biggest scandals in our most recent financial meltdown relates to mortgage companies giving out loans to people without requiring any documentation of that income. So naturally, people lied and made false declarations about their income. French Work and Pension minister Eric Woerth recently got in trouble for doing the same thing – only he lied by UNDERSTATING his income on the loan application. My favorite sentence from the article was “It was not immediately clear what Woerth might have hoped to achieve by allegedly minimizing his revenues in this way, as banks normally prefer to see proof of sufficient income before according loans.”

In another “only in France” type of story, French police believe they’ve gotten to the bottom of a series of robberies in which teenage girls exposed their breasts to distract men withdrawing money from Paris cash machines. Two teenagers have been charged with three recent hold-ups. Police say that on August 7, a man inserted a card into a cash machine in central Paris to withdraw money when two young females approached him and asked for money. The girls waved a newspaper at the man in an attempt to distract him, but the technique didn’t work. So the girls tried another strategy: One of them bared her breasts and put her hand on the man’s genitals while the other took the opportunity to withdraw 300 euros, police said. The only thing the story didn’t mention was whether or not the man minded being robbed.

A new decree has abolished the 5 foot 3 inch minimum height requirement for recruits to the French police force. Although the official reason given for the removal of the requirement was that it was “no longer necessary”, the media here immediately related the story back to President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been known to go to great lengths to conceal his stature. At just under 5 feet 5 inches tall, 1 inch shorter than Napoleon, Sarkozy has been reported as occasionally insisting on being surrounded by those of a similar height. During a visit to a car factory near Caen in Normandy last September, workers who greeted the president told French television they had been selected because they were shorter than him.

And finally, some photos from the last few weeks:

Clown and Merry Go Round - Plaza Mexico - Lynwood

Girl Holding Churro - Plaza Mexico - Lynwood

Squirting Hot Dog and Siesta - Plaza Mexico - Lynwood

Clouds and Mountain

Homeless in San Francisco

Japanese Tea Garden - Golden Gate Park - San Francisco

Dining at Vik's Chaat Corner - Berkeley

Movie Theater - Monte Rio

Burnt Post Office - Healdsburg

Peace on Coastline - Near Jenner


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