Thursday, December 1, 2022

The best things I ate in France

 






I was walking around the back room of my library eating my afternoon meal that was, that day, grocery store sushi: Spicy tuna roll. It was not spicy. There was some tuna in there somewhere. I'm not sure it is fair to even call it sushi. But it was adequate for my celebration of Argentina making it out of the group stage of The World Cup. And it would give me strength in my next task of shelving a cart of fiction books. But it was not good. Not like how nearly everything single thing I ate in France was at least good.

And this made me reminisce.

What were the best things I ate in France?

Or how about: What were the ten best things I ate in France?

THERE WERE TOO MANY TO COUNT! I CAN'T POSSIBLY DO A LIST LIKE THIS JUSTICE! I CAN'T REMEMBER AS IT IS TOO PAINFUL! IT'S HOPELESS, JUST LET ME FORGET IT ALL IN PEACE!

Okay, that's out of my system.

Here are the ten best things I ate in France, in no particular order and with the understanding that I'm surely forgetting several important ones that were every bit as good as anything on this list.


1. Omelet with black truffles at the seaside place just past the port.


2. Six oysters in the half shell somewhere early enough in the trip that I don't remember where.


3. Socca (a kind of chickpea flour crepe) from a counter in the old town that wasn't busy but turned out to be every other time we wandered by.


4. The Sole Meuniere on the beach below the Promenade Des Anglais. This is a dish I have always wanted to try.


5. Foie Gras further down the Coers Saleya from us. I've never had foie gras, but think it is a little like extra good salami crossed with butter, but all in the best way. I mean, outside of the evil.


6. The vanilla cake pastry from Patisserie Lac around the corner from our apartment. I could probably include two or three more of their pastries on this list, but due to lack of room I just picked my surprise favorite.


7. The fresh berries and creme patisserie pastry from the less nice patisserie a block away from the fancy Lac.


8. Any croissant or chocolate croissant I had anywhere ever in all of Nice. They were uniformly exquisite. And not that it really matters here, but not a single one of them cost more than $1.30.


9. Sweet potato fries with two dipping sauces at Ohana in the heart of Old Town.


10. The potatoes, just... potatoes, served with my swordfish, at a restaurant on the Coers Saleya a minute or so from our apartment.



Oh, look at that. Our list is over before we'd barely begun. 

I guess I'll move on then and have some, um, lemon yogurt.


(author mutters bitterly in French)









Wednesday, November 30, 2022

More Argentina

 






The World Cup has made me soft hearted I guess.


All those players coming off injured, weeping because their World Cup dreams are now over for another four years! Four years is a hell of a long time for someone who is only 24 years old. 

It's actually a long time for me too.

And then there are all these teams. I watched Senegal play Ecuador earlier today and the winner would continue on and the loser would be done for. All that work to get to The World Cup. All the triumphs. Forgotten. Heading home. How terrible!

Who did I want to win that game? 

Both of them. Why not? Everyone should get to win the World Cup! But only Senegal will get another whack at it and, spoiler alert, even though they beat Ecuador they won't be winning the World Cup. They are not good enough. Their time of tears too will come soon enough.

Tomorrow, as I write, Argentina has to beat Poland to advance, and Poland has to beat Argentina to advance. They are at loggerheads! I desperately want Argentina to advance, more than anything else in this whole world cup that I have been deeply involved in. But does that mean my heart wouldn't break for Poland if they lose?

No, my heart will break for Poland if they lose.


Please, please, please, let my heart break for Poland.






Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Michigan seems like a dream to me now

 






It was horrible coming back.

Nice, France seemed like it was right there. Just out of reach and a million miles away. But it was all around me. It felt like it should be out the door, down the hall, through the window. 

But all there was anywhere I tried to find it was cold.

Cold and dentist appointments and work.


And so it faded away.


And one sad evening (15 minutes ago), I was working on the check in machine and I realized it was all gone. 

Nice was gone! 

Did I dream it?


I wanted it back right away.

So I closed my eyes to try to remember.



We were sitting at a restaurant (as we so often did) in the old town. The streets were narrow and bustling and vivacious and free of all cars. The food was delicious. The company was...

perfect.


And I looked up in the sky to see a waterfall.




















Monday, November 28, 2022

Mailing postcards

 












From Nice, France, I mailed postcards. And if, weeks later, you still haven't gotten yours yet, blame the French. Or maybe the Americans. Or probably both.

At 25 cents to deliver a postcard I think I could tolerate a couple weeks for the long journey. But my stamps, to mail a clearly addressed, small, conventionally sized bit of mere card stock was nearly two euros per postcard!

I have seen an extremely modest sized box hold 5,000 postcards. So that computes roughly to nine thousand Euros to deliver a small box to America, which should cover a fairly alert service.

Here's how I picture it should go:

The mail to you, a super charming postcard, is picked up on day one from the yellow box I put it in. This card is very simply and clearly to another country as it is deposited in an International Mail slot, so it should quickly go off to one of five or ten or twenty main national mail distributors for that. This requires no sorting to what should be a large hub possibly in or near where I'm sending the mail, but surely less than half a day truck or train ride away. 

On day two, in the first extremely simple sort, your postcard is sorted to its country. The U.S.A. is easily large enough to support tons of standard mail traffic and needs no further sorting, nor waiting to have enough to fill a box (9,000 euros!), or plane, or whatever they want to fill before sending it on.

These rates will clearly support plane cargo across the Atlantic, actually all international mail is sent by plane, and on day three, at a minimum your postcard should be dumped into the U.S. system.

From there I think our postal system should be able to meet a two day delivery. That's actually required by international mail delivery rules.

So you should have gotten your postcard eleven days ago!


Which begs the question: Where is it?


I think a French Postal Carrier is admiring it right now at a charming French café.

And who can blame them?




























Sunday, November 27, 2022

Messi again

 




No one asks me:


Why do you watch soccer?


It is a good question because there is a lot of pain in watching soccer.

And more disappointment than not, no matter who one follows.

Like when Argentina, the team I so terribly want to win, loses in a wildly unimaginable upset to Saudi Arabia, it is sad, but such a familiar feeling after all these years that I already have a comfortable place for it, a shape of resignation that it perfectly fits into. Here is a depression in my heart, in the shape of a football boot, or the hexagon print of a soccer ball.

Ah, so that's how it is again.

And then in the next game that Argentina has to win, and all looks bleak, and nothing good looks like its going to happen, and then...

There is Messi.

It is a weirdly large amount of joy for a man I don't even know to have given me over the past years. 

I don't know how he kicked that into the net until I watch it again. Everything rises.

I have a place for that too.







Saturday, November 26, 2022

My teeth, Neymar, and the World Cup

 






I don't know how good any of my thoughts or predictions have been about the World Cup. Maybe that remains to be seen. Except for the part where I complain about fouls. I'll stand by that one forever, long after I refuse to ever watch another soccer game again. Neymar, the great Brazilian player is injured again. He'll miss two games and hopefully not more. And how did he get injured?

He was fouled 372 times.

Apparently this is bad for one's ankles.

I may have exaggerated. But the truth is that one of Serbia's main strategies in their losing battle against Brazil was simply "Foul Neymar", and the vast preponderance of all fouls in the game were on Neymar alone.

This, as I said, messed up his ankle.

And I relate to this because chunks keep coming out of my teeth. A chunk came out of a wisdom tooth in France. So I came home and got it ripped out. Then a chunk came out of the next tooth over. It's like a little hole in there. It's quite disturbing really.

Are the Serbians responsible?

No, I don't blame the Serbians.

And come to think of it this may not much analogize to Neymar's ankle at all.

But if it had, wow! This would have been some sort of blog post!













Friday, November 25, 2022

Your complete, albeit highly idiosyncratic, World Cup update

 






At press time all 32 World Cup teams have played one game. I watched part or all of every single game! This took five days, during which I held my peace out of respect for the world's general lack of interest in what I have to say about the World Cup.

BUT NOW THE DAMN BURSTS!

First, the easy analysis:


Who is looking good indeed:

England

France

Brazil

Spain


Who is looking like everyone else in this tournament:

Everyone else


Next, what are my particular takes:


All underdog teams that I want to win, who don't win but almost win, irritate me to a quiet fury. I'm at looking at you Ghana and Canada.

The fact that the majority of fouls, ones that are actually called and considered fouls, are nevertheless functionally permitted and carry no real punishment is possibly the worst rule in all of sports.

I have no real idea what is going to happen, but after it happens I knew it was going to happen.

I may be incapable of being a "neutral". If I genuinely don't prefer that one team beat another then I tend to find myself actively rooting for a draw. I have a hard time letting fate be.


My favorite game so far:


Spain 7, Costa Rica 0. This is not because I wanted Spain to win (I did). Or because I hate Costa Rica (I don't and hope they do far better in their next two games). Or because of the drama (Argentina Saudi Arabia, Germany Japan, and Portugal Ghana were dramatic, not this game). But rather I loved this game because Spain played such pretty football. And what I like, is pretty football.


My unsound and eeyorish predictions from this point on (may they be cursed):


Argentina will not get out of their group.

Portugal and Belgium will play horribly and continue to win a lot.

Spain will be brilliant until one somewhat early day when they just can't score, and it will all be over.

Pragmatism will triumph over joy. Or...

France or England will win and actually deserve it!



It is easy to predict this year's winner. Even my AI image producer on my phone can do it! Here is the team my AI has predicted will win the World Cup:








I think this might be Switzerland? Very boring, but remotely possible. Though how they managed it while fielding two number 10's, and a number 210, is at least going to be an interesting story.







Thursday, November 24, 2022

Representing my library

 




















A new library patron approaches me at the front desk of the library. They tell me that they have moved from a nearby library system and now live in this system. They would like a library card. I explain how this is all going to work and then tell them it is a good thing they moved, because our system is four percent better than their old system.

"Oh." This patron responds. "What makes you four percent better?"

"It is hard to quantify." I reply. "But mostly it has to do with how much more sassy our staff is than theirs."






Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The toy store in Nice

 



















As I sit here mooning about my trip to Nice with my wife, and try to slowly recover from the sad fact that it is somehow not happening anymore, and that I am instead at work, in a freezing city far away from the sparkling Mediterranean, I thought of the toy store in the Old Town quite close to our vacation apartment. This store is called L'atelier Des Jouets. The Toy Workshop. It is an apt name indeed. Its products eschew the taints of modernity and electricity. It is a toy store out of a fable, or a lovely Miyazaki film, or even from a good old fashioned children's book. It's shelves teem not with branded products, or even games, but with racks of stuffed and carved animals, music boxes, and elaborate windup scenes where bobbing and spinning little cats conduct music around a piano, or a tiny safari vehicle circles lions and elephants while music plays.

And suddenly I realized:



I seriously should have bought that cat one!
















Tuesday, November 22, 2022

I'm back, and I'm going to talk about...

 














After our amazing two week vacation to Nice, France, I have finally returned. and I am going to sit down and talk about


wait.



Since my trip I have been back at work for a couple of days. And though many co-workers ask how my trip was, few stay for an answer. 

"How was your trip to an astonishing place I know nothing about?" and "How are you today?" turn out to be functionally the same question. Because the preferred answer is:


"Great."


One can answer the question differently, with elaboration, but eyes may glaze over, fast. And they often do.


Which is why I write clerkmanifesto, a place where I cannot see eyes glaze over, and where I can answer all the questions I was hoping to be asked.


"And what question were you hoping to be asked?"


Well, I guess that one for a start.








Monday, November 21, 2022

The museum gift shop

 









Poised, as I am, on the brink of an exciting two week vacation to Nice, France with my delightful wife, the subject of gift shops came up. 

Because we construct a mini reality around our fairly rare vacations, in which we are for a time pretty rich (by our standards), we spend a good amount of our trip in the gift shops of foreign lands. We have been in the pottery shops of Lisbon, the leather shops of Florence, the cookware stores of Paris, and all 1,158 glass shops of Venice, Italy. But as I look around our somewhat aesthetically minimal home I am struck by how much we have from one particular shop- The Doria Pamphilj Museum Gift Shop, in central Rome, Italy.

I mean, we also have some really pretty porcelain from a craftsperson's shop in Rome, and a couple of decorative glass things from Venice's 1,158 glass shops, and my cappuccino cup here comes from a favorite shop in Duluth, but

let us not be diverted.

Half of everything hanging on our walls is from The Doria Pamphilj Museum Gift Shop!

If the Matisse Museum, or the Chagall Museum, in Nice, have gift shops half as good as The Doria Pamphilj Museum Gift Shop, we will be coming home with absolute sacks of stuff. We will be buying a rolly suitcase just for the purpose of transporting all our Chagall and Matisse gifts home. You yourself will probably be receiving some kind of Matisse or Chagall themed gift from me as a souvenir of our journey.

But this probably won't happen. 

And this is because few gift shops are anywhere near as good as The Doria Pamphilj Museum Gift Shop.

And yet, like with so many excellent things, it is not a matter of The Doria Pamphilj Museum Gift Shop being some outlandish, from out of nowhere, unimaginable invention. Instead it is more like: oh, why aren't all museum gift shops like this?

The Doria Pamphilj Museum Gift Shop is mostly, not entirely, but mostly, products derived from, or celebrating the art items in, their collection. That's really all there is to it. There is some creativity involved. For instance what we have in our home are highly decorative and charmingly framed reproductions of two of their paintings. But I still have, and at the time of the trip, handed out many gifts of simple bookmarks, heavily, sturdily, and nicely laminated, depicting excellent details from some their best paintings.

Contrast this with, as an example, the gift shop of my town's quite nice museum, The Mia in Saint Minneapolis. It is surely four times the size of The Doria Pamphilj Museum Gift Shop. But while it may have a couple racks of postcards reflecting their collection, and perhaps a small portion of its books are about current or past shows, the vast majority of their gifts have only a tangential relation to the museum's wonderful collection of art. It is a gift shop not of The Mia so much as a gift shop of, I don't know, the idea of art in general? And it's products are, I don't know, lightly mass produced, arty, crafty, witty takes on... art? Design? Crafts?

That sounds pretty harsh. It's a perfectly nice gift shop. And one could transplant it into any museum in America, exactly as is, and I doubt any customer would notice anything the least bit wrong.

But it could be in any museum!

Of course, there is a third kind of gift shop, probably even worse than the Mia, and more common to European and large tourist city Museums. That is the cheap souvenirs style gift shop. It may have a few postcards, books, and representations from whatever stunning collection of art it is situated in or near, but beyond that it will mainly provide a selection of all the generic City souvenir garbage one can find everywhere else. Waiting for your entrance time at the Borghese in Rome, where the greatest collection of Bernini Statues in the world is? Well it's probably a great place to get a 3D cardboard make-it-yourself model of the Coliseum.

Which brings us back to Nice.

I am writing this roughly three weeks before it appears on clerkmanifesto. It is my last preparatory blog post. In the next one, tomorrow's, I will be writing as a person who has been to Nice, and been to the gift shops of Nice. I will or won't have Matisse souvenirs. And I will be able to tell you all about it.

But I probably won't. Because The World Cup will have started.

 Tomorrow, tomorrow, is Argentina's first game, against Saudi Arabia, at four in the morning!

Set your alarms.









Sunday, November 20, 2022

And so it begins, The World Cup

 






I have done a pretty good job of not overwhelming this blog with posts about The World Cup. Which may lead you to believe:

Is it over? 

Who won?


NO! It is not over! 

Haven't you memorized the schedule? Haven't you signed up yet for our World Cup Breakfast Club at Mickey's Diner (thanks to my wife for the excellent and popular idea!)? 

The first game is only just happening today!!!!!!!!!!!


Yes, as is the tradition, host country Qatar opens the festivities by playing Ecuador today at ten in the morning, my time.

Oh. You say. Just a couple of minnows.

First of all let me commend you on knowing the term "minnows", denoting small teams that cannot compete with the big favorites. Qatar and Ecuador will have their hands full just hoping to get out of their group with the very good, and favorited, Senegal and Netherlands.

Second of all, let me also commend you for knowing that Qatar and Ecuador are indeed, "minnows". Well done on knowing the relative strengths of The World Cup teams.

But third, how can you dismiss these talented athletes so cavalierly! They are only trying to do their best. They are magnificently talented soccer players, the best of their country! Have you seen Pervis Estuinan of Ecuador, in full and glorious flow down the left flank of the pitch, dancing the ball in full control in front of his feet as he scans the opposition, looking for the slightest opening, the tiniest of weakness to exploit, and then bursting into space and delivering a perfect, delicate cross to the feet of his teammate?

No, I haven't seen that either, but I might look for it if I get around to watching the game today.






Saturday, November 19, 2022

All falling trees make a sound

 







Yesterday in this space a reader wrote in and it was awesome!

You see, I am in the process of writing twenty-some blog posts in preparation for my being away from clerkmanifesto on vacation for weeks. And now I am towards the end of this endeavor, and the finish-line is in sight, and I am exhausted! I am scrambling for ideas. I am plumbing the psychic depths!

So getting to simply have a blog post made up of a reader's concerns was a godsend.

And even if I had to invent the reader, type up their imaginary thoughts, and create a framing device for fitting it into that day's clerkmanifesto piece, it was worth it.

I need all the help I can get.

And to show my appreciation I will now discuss what this reader was so interested in: The immortal question that poses: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make any sound?


Yes, it does.


But the self evident answer is not the important thing here. It is the addressing of philosophic questions.

 Which you can address right here to clerkmanifesto. Just send them right along to me! Keep your questions long and full of character and I will put them right here on the blog. Then maybe I will answer those questions the next day. 

Maybe even in two parts if I'm really desperate.


And will anyone hear those answers.

Because, yes, that is the real question:

If a blogger posts on the Internet and no one is there to hear it did it really happen?

I refer you to my one blog post of all my thousands that was posted normally at its time in 2017, and somehow never read by anyone in all the time since.


Good luck finding it. There are a lot of fallen trees out there.








Friday, November 18, 2022

A reader writes in...

 








I received a letter this morning concerning yesterday's blog post.






Dear Anonymous Denizen of the Internet Known only as Clerk Manifesto:



When I read the title of yesterday's blogpost, "If a tree falls..." I got quite excited. I rolled my sleeves up. After years of following your blog, which is a lot of work because of your frequent posts and your refusal to write in the easy to read style that even our best writers now employ, and after reading post after post about all that stuff you seem so very very interested in, finally you were going to discuss philosophy.

That's all I wanted!

And though I only read your blog for work, looking for mentions of my company's foot powder, I nevertheless did hope that one day my reading would be rewarded, not with a mention of our foot powder, but with a philosophy discussion!

I love philosophy!


Name any philosopher and I can tell you their birthdate!


Name any philosopher and I can tell you their height!


Name any philosopher and I can tell you their preferred brand of foot powder (if they had one. Interesting note: Some philosophers did not have a preferred brand of foot powder. Look it up).


So when you suggested a classic philosophical discussion on the lines of "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear, did it make any noise?" my whole being tingled.


Finally your occasional wit, your every once in awhile moments of actual perceptiveness, were about to be put to some usefulness!


But no.


It was about dead trees.


All about dead trees.




I


Was


Heartbroken.






Your Reader,




Hilden Folps

Marketing Research Associate

Beauvoir Foot Powder







Tune in tomorrow for my response!







Thursday, November 17, 2022

If a tree falls

 







Lately, the things I have been most delighting in when I go walking in the woods, are fallen trees. 

I love the way that if a huge tree falls over, it makes a huge mess everywhere, and then it just lies there.

For, like, ever.

And no one ever does anything about it.








Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Sixteen views of Mount Saint Minneapolis

 







Today, if things go according to plan, which I wouldn't count on in these uneven times of World travel, we will have returned from our trip to Nice, France. But those stories will come later. 

We will be coming home, and in honor of our home, these are some more pictures of our city, Saint Minneapolis.

Some people may say that these views are all a little similar. But have you seen the 36 views Hokusai did of Mt. Fuji?

Some of those pictures are very similar too!

And I hardly need to point out to you, Internet, that his 36 views of Mount Fuji currently has 4.7 stars on Amazon.


Am I, you ask, comparing myself to the great Hokusai?


Yes, yes I am.



























































































































































































































































































Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Saint Minneapolis in too many guises

 







I had finally cleared out my backlog of pictures I wanted to show you, pulled up my barstool, and set down to write my last seven or eight blog posts for when I am away on vacation.

I wrote a couple of sure to be mildly unpopular posts about The World Cup and then started fiddling about with more photographs. Just, you know, as a diversion. Just for fun.

And six hours later here I am again!

What so riveted my attention?

Pictures of my city skyline.

I think that Saint Minneapolis can get really gorgeous as we head into late fall, especially in the early morning when it is illuminated like a holy text, incandescent like the Emerald City. And since I suddenly have so many wonderful and bizarre tools in my shop here to mess with my familiar skyline, I went at it. I scratched it up, auto generated it, added planets and birds, covered it in goo, painted it like Da Vinci, and generally folded, spindled, and mutilated.

So here is my first group of pictures from this Skyline series. Sometimes it looks like Saint Minneapolis, sometimes not so much.