Saturday, May 4, 2013

Spring, refrigerators, and scissors

Spring is upon us in Paris, and the city is living up to its reputation for excellent weather at this time of year, although it has been somewhat chillier than usual for much of the past three months. Still, I prefer chilly to hot. And while some people might shiver at 14° C (57° F), I find it rather ideal, especially for walking. You can always throw on a sweater in weather like this. When it’s 37° C (99° F) outside, as it has been in some recent years, there’s nothing you can do to escape from the heat.

My parents bought me a new refrigerator. The old one was essentially out of service—the only cold spot that remained within was one tiny ice-incrusted corner of the freezer section. It’s surprising how much of the food we buy these days requires refrigeration. Without a working refrigerator, my diet was very limited. Now that I have a new refrigerator, I suppose I can start scarfing down all the snacks that I did before the old one gave up the ghost.

Appliances are interesting in Paris (and in Europe generally, as far as I know). It’s very easy to find very tiny appliances that are ideal for a single person living alone. Tiny refrigerators, tiny microwaves, tiny washing machines … all are readily available at many appliance stores. My new refrigerator has a capacity of slightly over four cubic feet, but that’s more than enough for me, and its small size allows it to fit in the tiny corner that I generously refer to as the kitchen.

Of course, it’s possible to buy big refrigerators in Paris, too. The kind that have two vertical doors and a water fountain are called “American” refrigerators here (whereas they were just “refrigerators” in the U.S.). They tend to be very expensive, at least in relation to the small refrigerators I prefer, but from what I’ve heard they are not that much more expensive than the equivalent models in the U.S. I guess refrigerators are getting more expensive everywhere. I’m not sure why anyone would need such a large refrigerator unless it were for an equally large family, but they can be had, for a price. The “American” refrigerators are larger than my entire kitchen.

Thanks to the European Union and its unceasing efforts to turn Europe into a safe but boring Utopia, my new fridge does not contain a decent refrigerant—because Freon® damages the ozone layer. Instead, it contains isobutane (euphemistically referred to as refrigerant R-600a), a toxic, highly flammable gas that isn’t nearly as well suited to refrigeration systems as Freon. I’ve read that some refrigerators in the U.K. have exploded after this “refrigerant” escaped from the closed circuit of the fridge and created a flammable atmosphere inside the appliance. I’m not sure that this is progress, but the Eurocrats who make up these laws are not scientists. In any case, my A/C also contains this refrigerant, if I remember correctly, so I sometimes wonder if I’m living dangerously with so much isobutane lurking about.

Anyway, moving right along … the weather is nice. I’ve not been able to summon the energy to go out and enjoy it, but it seems to be nice during the brief periods that I walk through it, on the way to and from work, or to and from the Laundromat, or to and from the grocery store. I haven’t shot any video in ages, although I still have hours of rushes to edit into at least two or three videos, so I suppose that collecting still more footage without editing what I have wouldn’t make much sense, anyway.

Some days ago, I bought a pair of left-handed scissors to offer as a gift. Paris is a big city, so you can find just about anything if you look for it. These scissors came from a small shop in the Sentier (the garment district) that sells all sorts of tools for professional tailors, seamstresses, etc. The scissors were Fiskars,® my preferred brand by far. They make scissors in many sizes, but only one size is available in a left-handed version. Anyway, the name of the shop is Hamon, if you’re ever looking for professional gear for making clothing in Paris.

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