11 April 2011

New French Law

TODAY MARKS THE day that France's controversial law to ban full-veils comes into force. It's making quite a bit noise around France and Europe as you might imagine. A few details about the new law:

The controversial ban on wearing a full face veil in public places comes into force on April 11 in France.

Last week French Interior Minister Claude Gueant signed a circular, sent to all law enforcement agencies, “for instructions on carrying out identity checks and for the issuing of fines”.

According to the document, which was published by right-leaning daily newspaper Le Figaro, police officers do not have the right to forcibly remove a veil. However, women wearing them can be arrested as can any man found to force a woman to wear one.

“Either the person wearing the veil removes it, or else that person is conducted to a police station so that their identity can be verified,” the circular instructs.

In no instance can a woman wearing a niqab be placed under arrest simply for wearing the full veil. But she can be held at a police station for up to four hours, held liable for a 150 euro fine and required to take a citizenship course.

France is the first country in Europe to pass such a law. This, of course, makes right-wingers in the US extremely jealous.

10 April 2011

Just a Sunday

MORE OFTEN THAN not, the posts on this blog simply recount fun or interesting things that have happened to our family during this little French adventure we are having. When Kerri and I go back and read old posts it is often the day-to-day things we do (or don't do) that are the most fun to remember. Invariably, the 'normal' moments involve embarrassing or downright stupid things we have done that usually end-up costing us lots of money. Of course, the not so ordinary (traveling, sights, chance meetings with famous people, etc.) are fun as well.

But today was one off those ordinary days that I hope I remember when we finally leave this part of the world. There was absolutely nothing spectacular about it -- except that it was great. What did we do? Nothing, really. It started for me at about 6:45 with a couple of hot cups of coffee and a quick read of the Washington Post online (that's how every Sunday starts). By 8:30 the boys were awake -- making crepes -- and I was setting my computer up on the patio outside to do some work for school -- video editing (don't ask), grading papers, preparing for the week's classes. (Because it was a bit cool this morning I had on shorts and my warm Capitals sweatshirt -- perfect). At about 11:00 I stepped away from the table where I was working and stretched out on the deck next to the pool and...took a 20 minute nap. Now, where I come from, a nap by 11:00am means you are having an astounding day.

The next couple hours involved playing a bit with the kids, doing some work, poking around on the internet, and marinating the beef for the Provencal Beef with red wine sauce that I was going to make a bit later. By early afternoon our very late lunch/very early dinner was on the stove cooking very, very slowly and I was sitting in front of the television watching the Paris-Roubaix bike race. Now I love cycling, but even I have trouble watching 4 straight hours of racing so I took breaks: checked the food, graded a paper or two, played a bit of baseball with the two boys in the house, checked on the kids' homework (OK, Kerri did most of that). At about 3:00 I did something that was truly fantastic: I took another short nap -- again out in the sun by the pool.

3:30! Time to finalize our late lunch (make the salad, get the potatos ready) and watch the end of Paris-Roubaix. Great win for the Garmin Team. Patrick woke up from a nap (he's feeling a bit under the weather) just in time to see the final 10k.

Lunch/Dinner time at 4:30 -- and it was delicious. I always know the viande is good if Julia and Kerri eat it. They did. Henry wanted to eat outside so Patrick and I joined him out on the patio and the ladies stayed in the glassed-in area.

After dinner Henry wanted to play so -- being the terrific parents that we are -- we first had him take his bath, then we went outside and invented a game that involves a ping-pong ball, beach paddles, and our front steps. Not sure what we are going to call it, but it was pretty fun.

Showers for the older kids, then a movie while I did a little physical exercise downstairs (you should see me, I'm huge!).

Bed for the kids -- and I'm eating a fantastic desert Julia made while watching The Master's...Live!! Tiger is tied for the lead after 12 as I write.

Certainly not an extraordinary day. But in many ways, just the kind of Sunday I enjoy most.

07 April 2011


THE FRENCH DON'T really do Halloween like we do in the States, but that doesn't mean there's not a day to dress up and get crazy. At the CIV crazy costume day isn't in late fall, it's in early spring.

Like today. Carnival took place between 11:00 and 1:00 on this gorgeous day as the entire school descended on the Agora for a massive "fashion" show -- complete with loud, thumping music, judges, and lots of creative costumes. I was one of the few teachers (OK, maybe the only one) who participated. To be fair I only quassi-participated because all I did was throw on a hockey jersey and grab a stick. When I got to the Agora I ran into Julien, a terminale students from Mexico (but who lived for a few years in Canada) and he put me to shame by busting out an entire hockey uniform -- complete with roller blades. I was jealous. But we walked the catwalk together and put on a little fake faceoff and fist-i-cuffs for the crowd.

Of course, my Washington Capitals jersey was only part of the Scriven Family costume, as Patrick and Julia donned other sports-themed ensembles from the DC area. We had both a Nationals and Orioles jersey for Julia but she went with the black and orange (good girl!!).

Man, I wish I'd worn the full gear. (By the way, how great/awful are European hockey jerseys? Gotta love the Nice youth team sweater)

Representin': Skins, Caps, O's

Boy, the French really do love Obama.

Patrick (Santana Moss) with his buddy Declan (Chad Pennington)

Prepa! PSCI 1 students

04 April 2011

Little UN Tomorrow

ACTUALLY, THE OFFICIAL name is Model United Nations (MUN) and I run the MUN program for collége (4eme and 3eme) students at my school and tomorrow we start at two day conference hosted by a local school in the area. The conference is in its second year and it is quite a fun activity as students role play delegations from a wide variety of countries. This year we will represent France and Russia and we have spent the past few weeks working on resolutions on topics ranging from nuclear proliferation to the overfishing of seas.

You can see more at the website: www.emun.fr

Each delegations brings an Ambassador (Judy and Alexandre in our case), a Security Council Representative, and a representative for the Political, ECOSOC, and Enrironment Committees. Over the course of the two day conference the students will work together to agree on a set of resolutions that must be passed by the General Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.

Can't wait to hear what the delegate from Iran has to say about nuclear proliferation. Especially since the delegate will probably be a 14 or 15 year-old.