Paris: Versailles, or rather, the herding of the masses

Posted in Uncategorized on October 15, 2018 by Luc

Louis XIV would have been horrified. His beloved palace, a place where royalty and the members of the nobility could retire and rule the masses, has become ruled by the latter and abandoned by the former. Let me explain.

Le Palais de Versailles is a place replete with history. It is where the Sun King ruled his vast kingdom. Where innumerable plots and decisions where born. It is where Louis XVI drove the final nail into the notion of absolute monarchy in France. It is where the Revolution was born. Just as an aside, the cost of maintaining the palace, in the 17th century, was more than the entire expense of maintaining the colony of Nouvelle France (Canada)! I will deal with this some other time.

With this history, comes interest. Interest in seeing it. And I do say, seeing it. Not experiencing it. More on this later. Millions of people from all over the world (10 million according to the Versailles website) flock to see it. When we arrived at Versailles, I was astounded as to the number of people arriving every minute. As we walked up to the grandiose entrance to the grounds, we were surrounded by hundreds of people doing the same. In fact, the wait to get in the palace, was approximately two hours. There were probably close to a thousand people waiting in line to get in, in the blazing hot sun (it was 35 degrees).

Luckily for us, the gardens were open that day, thus into the gardens we went. These were lovely to behold. Hectares of land (800 in fact) devoted to manicured gardens, woods and fountains. It was truly unbelievable to see. After two hours walking the gardens, we had only seen a minuscule part. But we had to return to the palace. It was, after all, why we had come to Versailles. Back in line we went. Luckily, the line had thinned considerably, and after 30 minutes, we were inside the palace. With hundreds of other people. Perhaps thousands.

We went through hallways and through rooms, herded along with hundreds of people all at once, all striving to take photos and avoiding each other’s elbows and photo ops. All those grandiose rooms, all those historical moments to experience and learn about, lost in a sea of humanity. There was no time to look, to ponder, to feel, to experience. It was as though everyone wanted to get as many photos as they could, say they had been there, and move on to the next tourist trap.

I say tourist trap deliberately as that is what Versailles is now. And why should it not be? It would be foolish in the extreme for the French government to not raise as much money as they can from what is arguably a wonder of the world. Yet…yet I had this naïve notion that I could see Versailles and feel that I was walking in the footsteps of the kings of France. That I could try to understand why they felt the need to build such an opulent abode. That I could experience the history of the place, to soak it up and gain knowledge. I was most thoroughly rebuked in this notion. I was left with a bitter aftertaste. Yes, I had been there. Yes I could say that I walked where history was made. But I could not say that I felt anything, that I learned anything that a book could have told me, without having to run the gauntlet of the crowds.

Would I recommend Versailles? In regards to the palace, with all my heart no. In regards to the gardens, absolutely. Would I return?Absolutely not. Unless it was on a private tour of the palace (I am aware that this makes me elitist – but also aware that this will never happen).

Check out what Jen had to say about Versailles.


Laser Eye Surgery: Yes or No

Posted in Life with tags on September 9, 2015 by Luc

Simple answer. YES.

See Jen’s thoughts on this matter Me Woman You Man.

Throw Cushions…

Posted in Home Improvement with tags , , , , on August 11, 2015 by Luc

There is something to be said for throw cushions. They are comfortable. They are mobile. They can be used as a “gentle” reminder on your 12 year old when he isn’t paying attention to what you are saying. In short, they are useful.

The key to their utility, however, lies in their number. In my mind, two throw cushions are sufficient for any couch. More than that and they become positively annoying. You go to sit down and you have to move the cushion. At this point you have several choices. Move it to the side and pile it on another cushion. Put it on your lap. Throw it on the floor where you get a sharp reminder from your spouse that she just bought that cushion, thank you very much.

Now, that last statement in particular irks me.

“Why did you just buy new cushions? What was wrong with the old ones” I ask.

“Because they were old.” she says.

“You bought them last year.” I say.

“Yeah, they are one year old, I was tired of them. They needed replacing” she says.

“You were tired of them? Can I buy a new drill? I’m tired of it.” I ask.

“No you can’t, it’s not the same thing.” she says.

“I see. Are you going to throw out the old cushions?” I ask.

“No, they are still useful for the basement couch.” she says.

I could go on here, but I think you see the point. The result of this back and forth is that I lose the argument, the old cushions go downstairs, the new cushions stay and I’m still holding on to my old drill.

Meanwhile, those old cushions, that have been given a new lease on life, go to join the many other cushions from years past.

Makes me think of that Star Trek episode with the Trebles. They just keep multiplying. And something tells me that the big Home Sense bag by the door doesn’t have a new drill in it.

See what Jen has to say about throw cushions.

A Man’s Guide to a Bathroom Renovation

Posted in How To with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2015 by Luc

Jen and I are planning a bathroom reno. Our ensuite dates back to 1987 and it’s starting to show its age. The toilet is broken, the shower tiles need to be replaced soon…the time has come.

Now, for men, this can be a daunting time (well, for this man anyway). It commits you to going through countless websites, browsing through your better half’s Pinterest collection of bathroom pictures and staring at the seemingly countless varieties of showers heads and vanity faucets. But fear not. I have a plan for you.

Now, to be honest, the reno hasn’t started yet. My plan for you is not yet complete. But rest assured, I’ve already gained some valuable experience that I want to share with men everywhere right now.

Here goes:

  1. Decide on doing the reno.
  2. Decide on a budget (don’t believe for a second this will actually be the budget).
  3. Hire an interior designer. (Gents, I can’t stress this enough. Just sending the designer off to pick tile options and a colour pattern is worth it. This will save you an enormous amount of time and will keep arguments to a minimum. Who wants to spend hours at tile stores? Not me. Worth every penny.)
  4. Tell wife and interior designer that as long as the bathroom is not “girly”, has a functional toilet, sink and shower, you’ll be happy.
  5. Offer to do the demo yourself to save money.
  6. Offer accepted. Nevertheless, increase budget because there was this really nice shower door place.
  7. Offer to make vanity yourself.
  8. Offer rejected. Increase budget.
  9. Plan to hold firm on budget.

This is where I have to stop. I am now at step 9 myself. I do plan on holding firm. But already I can say one thing for certain. The more money you throw at it, the happier your better half will be…

I promise to update this post as we progress further with the reno. Meanwhile, see what Jen has to say on bathroom renos!

Exercise and Me

Posted in Life with tags , , , , on January 13, 2015 by Luc

I’ve been procrastinating. Jen has been done her blog post on exercise for at least a week. I just started today. I think that sums up my commitment to exercise quite well actually. Hurray for New Year’s resolutions (see my previous post)!

Exercise means working out. It means working towards getting fit. It makes a lot of sense. It really does. Ultimately, getting fit means being able to do stuff, like climbing a few flights of stairs without looking like you just ran a marathon. It should be something we all do. Regularly. Every. Day.

BUT WE DON’T. I don’t anyway. I have grandiose plans. I research exercise plans. I get my monthly Men’ Health and totally commit to doing their monthly workouts. I get my basement ready. And then…

…nothing. I do nothing. Oh, I might do some exercise for a month or two. My record is probably six straight months. But then, I stop. I get injured, or I get sick, and then that’s it. The habit is broken.

It’s funny really. I have such willpower for other things. But not exercise. Despite my supposed rational approach to things.

However, I will try. I will get this thing going again, because I must. I don’t want to be that guy who can’t run for more than a minute or who can’t bend over to cut his toenails later in life. Do you think Jen would mind doing that for me?

Let’s see if she talks about it in her blog on exercise!

New Year’s Resolutions…

Posted in Life, Smartass with tags , , , , , , , on December 31, 2014 by Luc

New Year’s resolutions are for people who are overly optimistic. You know how it works. I will lose weight. I will get in shape. I will quit drinking (ha!). I mean, COME ON PEOPLE. No one really sticks to these.

If you’re going to make a resolution, make it something that you know will work. Like, for instance, committing to eating chicken wings at least once during 2015. I can guarantee you that I will be keeping that resolution. In fact, I should have achieved most of my resolutions on the first day of the year.

Here are my resolutions for the year 2015:

  1. Eat chicken wings
  2. Drink at least five beers
  3. Stay up later than I should
  4. Procrastinate
  5. Skip a workout
  6. Forget to write a blog post

I could go on, but I think you get the point. And you know what? When, by the start of February, many of you are struggling with keeping up your flagging spirits, I will be happily going about my business. In fact, it reminds me of the Seinfeld “The Contest” episode, where Kramer chose quite quickly to not be the “Master of his domain”. Consequently, he slept well, while the others did not. That’s going to be me people.

Well folks, I hope that you hold on to your resolutions, whatever they are. I will rest easy knowing that mine will be achieved in no time at all!

See what Jen has to say on New Year’s resolutions.

On winning the lottery…

Posted in How To, Life with tags on October 13, 2014 by Luc

Well, it finally happened. After years and years of dreaming about what we would do if we won the lottery, we are now able to share our experience with you.

Of course, by experience I mean the many many many times Jen and I have talked about what we would do if we won the lottery. We didn’t actually win the lottery. Sadly.

BUT were we to win, let’s say $30 million (go big or go home I say), I would:

  1. Double-check the numbers
  2. Celebrate
  3. Quit my job
  4. Take $3 million and donate to the Children’s Hospital
  5. Take $7 million and help out family and friends (this could be a blog post on its own)
  6. Renovate our house top to bottom
  7. Travel
  8. Take $10 million and invest it
  9. Take flying lessons
  10. Buy a plane (linked to travel)

Yeah, that’s all I can think of for now. Mind you, this list is subject to change. With my luck, we will win the lottery when I’m 95. The list would be slightly different I think at that point.

Tell me how you would spend $30 million! Also, check out Jen, who has her own views I’m sure!

Gift Cards For The Boy

Posted in Parenting on October 8, 2014 by Luc

The boy received a number of gift cards for his birthday. Each had substantial amounts for an 11-year old boy. Within hours of having received them, he wanted to go and spend them. There was no plan. Nothing specific that he wanted. He just wanted to go out and spend.

This is…difficult…for me. Whenever I get a gift card, I usually have something I want or need. I plan ahead. If there is nothing I need or want in particular at that given moment, I wait until I do.

Now, I understand why the boy wants to spend his money instantly. I mean, he’s got a ton of cash just sitting there and he wants to get himself something. Instant gratification.

But I see what he has gotten himself in the past. Toys that we end up giving away months later. Pokémon cards that he looks at once or twice and then puts away never to pull out again. Memberships in online game sites like Club Penguin that he plays for a week and then doesn’t play again. It just seems like such a waste!

This time, I told myself I would try to prevent this. I really wanted him to identify a few things that he really wanted and then he could go and get them. For instance, he really wanted a new Pokémon game that is coming out in November. We agreed that he should keep EB Games gift cards until then. But Jen, at this point, intervened.

Jen raised a good point, in that the boy should be able to buy himself something if he wanted to. It was, after all, his birthday gifts. I finally relented. As long as he didn’t spend his EB Games gift cards. Happy, the boy went to get himself a Pokémon movie and some sort of stuffed thing from Walmart. I figure both things will be in the spring garage sale.

I guess I don’t agree at all with Jen’s point of view, but I do see that getting a gift card should be a fun event, and not a dreaded one. I just hope that the boy will understand the value of money soon!

See Jen’s point of view on this topic.

Five Things I Need More and Five Things I Need Less

Posted in Top 5 on September 7, 2014 by Luc

It’s been a while. Spring and summer were a busy season. Also, I got lazy. But we’re back.

Jen wants to do a blog post where we relate things we need more of, and less of, in our lives. It’s hard to boil it down to just five, but for now, this is what is top of mind for me. If I did this next week, it could change. I guess I’m not as deep a thinker as I thought…

Five Things I Need More In My Life

  1. Time with kids
  2. Dates with Jen
  3. Working with my hands
  4. Reading and writing
  5. Exercise

Five Things I Need Less In My Life

  1. Construction season
  2. Pillows and/or throw cushions (I swear they reproduce in my house)
  3. Tennis elbow (right arm) and tendinitis (left wrist)
  4. Debt
  5. Feeling overwhelmed by events

See what Jen has to say.

So there I was, happy…

Posted in Life with tags , , on May 20, 2014 by Luc

Define happiness. That’s a tough one isn’t it? I think I’ve found the answer though.

I’m at my happiest when time flies by. I mean, really flies by. As in, you think it is about mid morning when in fact it is almost dinner time.

For instance, just this past weekend, I had to take down my shed. I had to take it down because the roof caved in over the winter. I could go on about the general suckiness of vinyl sheds, but this post is about happiness, therefore I will abstain.

Anyway, I took down my shed with the help of my son and eventually, the neighbour. Having taken down the shed, I noticed that the fence was now at a precarious angle (the shed was keeping it up, it seems). So, down came the fence. Of course, the fence had to be replaced, so off I went to buy some wood with another neighbour and proceeded to begin rebuilding the fence.

The point of this is that in my mind, I had done all of the above in only a few hours. Yet by the time I had installed the posts, it was past dinner time!

Time just flew and I came to realize that I loved it. I had a blast.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure if Jen was as happy as I was, taking care of the kids all day! Let’s find out what makes Jen happy by checking out her latest post.

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