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Second day. I think it's official that I'm the cleaner-upper. I spent the 7½ hours sweeping, mopping, squeegeeing, and emptying bins.

The squeegee mop appears to be called a "raclette" (at least, that's what I hear). I could have sworn that was a yucky French 'tradition' that the ex-pat community has hijacked, which is a sort of indoor BBQ with some odd sort of melted cheese poured over it.
The place where washing goes is the "plonge" (that's what it sounds like). A lot of terminology to get the hang of.

Today was slightly better, my body wasn't in quite so much shock, and I knew I was going to be on clear-up duty, so I just followed her around and did what I was instructed, unless a green-hairbag person (i.e. a person in charge) called "Ree-sharr" (now that they have worked out my name)...

I must take issue with the requirement for us home people having such strict regulations on what can be recycled and what can't. Why? Because you know those big swing-top bins? Not the wheelie bins, the ones you can fit a Microcar inside. Well, there are three of them in the facility (they are sterilised regularly) and I think we'd fill about one an hour. Two colour bags. The first is green and is used for production line food throw-outs. These are weighed, averages around 8kg a pop (one bag tipped the balance to 22kg). The others are for plastic wrappers, cardboard, paper liners, etc. Given it is imperative that these bags are tied up, I know nobody is going to be sorting out the paper and plastic.

You already know what I think of the ANPE. Well, let's look at the check-list:

  • I'll be working 5am to 12.30pm two weeks, and 12.30pm to 8pm the next two weeks (and back to 5am, etc).
    Actually, my hours at the moment are 5am to 1pm. I have worked out that if I two weeks of that and two of 1pm-8pm then that will average out to 35 hour weeks across the duration of the month.
  • I'll be in production placing things, such as raspberries.
    Worked ~14 hours, placed raspberries for one of them. I hope I do some production stuff soon because I didn't sign on to be a custodian. If I liked cleaning up that much, I'd have tidied my room years ago. I prefer "organised chaos". It suits my mind.
  • It is a four-month contract.
    8th September to 1st December. Okay, it crosses into four months, but it isn't four months, it is a smidgen under three. It is actually 12 weeks, 60 days. Average 420 hours (if all is according to plan). Brut pay is €3658.20 or €1219.40 a 'month' (the SMIC, or minimum is €8.71). The French social charges are apparently quite high, so I wouldn't expect my take-home to be much over €900. Of that, €600/month is spoken for - saving to either find a cheap 2nd hand car or keep our old rustbucket lingering around. ☺ I hope to get a coupla hundred together to get my own ADSL line. At least I don't think I'm in a tax category with that, so I don't have that to worry about.
  • My ANPE paperwork says "Prime de poste 2,81/jr travail + Tr indicatif".
    I'll believe that when I see it. I'm afraid I'll take this issue further if I don't because so far the only thing that was correct about the advertised job is it's location. And besides, it adds up to €168.60 for 60 days - if you think that's a negligible amount, ask for my bank account IBAN and you can deposit it into my account. That's nearly a month of food.
    I saw in Ouest-France today a report about Brits (of which there are apparently 50,000 in La Belle Bretagne) starting to return to the UK because the typical ex-pat lives on €50-100 per day and they're crapping in their pants at the pound/euro exchange rate and how their monthly budget of around €3300 is now a mere €2750. I would say "bugger me backwards!" but this was written in association with Brit'Mag who often seem to be living in cloud Cuckoo land - most of the people I know are living on pathetic UK retirement pensions (so pathetic that when you quote it, Frenchies tend to think you're quoting it weekly) and their nearly-€600 a month is now closer to €450. Not terribly helpful when food rises around 15%, petrol rises more still, and the pension has lost a sixth of its value.
    So, yes, that itty-bitty €2.81 is not a trivial amount.

2 days down, 58 to go. If I'm cleaning up again tomorrow....... "think of the paycheque".


Bye-bye ANPE

The way the French system works is this. The ASSEDIC works out your eligibility to things, and informs the CAF who dispenses money; meanwhile the ANPE (Agence National Pour l'Emploi) is a sort of JobCentre.
The ANPE and the ASSEDIC are shortly going to merge into a single new entity. I'm not convinced that giving the ANPE paperasse more responsibility is necessarily a good idea. I'll let you know this goes.



You read it right. I am working (literally) towards getting broadband. Apparently France is in a position to offer provision to much of the country. Brittany is working on the Bretagne 2.0 project to attempt to bring 100mbit to every property in the region and the deadline is about four years and counting. An on-line thingy reckons my tiny town has 100% coverage for 16mbit (but no TV provision here). I'm only interested in 1mbit, Aiko is only running a 450MHz processor with 128Mb RAM; and I know well that 1mb is faster than I can read. Okay, so maybe my anti-virus download will take sixteen times longer than at the library. Well, what's twenty minutes instead of 1m20s when it's your own machine and your own time? It can take it's merry time, I can check my emails or go make a cuppa and get sidetracked by the kitten while this is running. Sure beats the ten-odd hours that dial-up would take, assuming perfect connection and no weird packets and other such junk.

I think, given a Livebox, I may be inclined to rig it up so that Alyson (my RiscPC) is on one port (can be unplugged and mom's PC hooked in its place), and Aiko on the other port; hopefully with a solid-enough firewall, Firefox, and Avast anti-virus...



The reason I'm talking about internet, and will point out that my local library in a little town of maybe 2000 people can sustain over 16mbit transfer rates, is because the UK has finally realised that it is lagging behind the current spec. It seems the plan to is introduce a two-tier system where those in the country (who are expensive to connect) pay more than those in the towns and cities.
Why? This place is like rural Wales and it is claimed that I can get up to 16mbit and my small local town has this all in place. So why is the technologically advanced United Kingdom having such problems? Actually, it is easy. The talk about how advanced the UK is is an internally-propogated myth (rather like Gordie saying the economy was fine for all those months) and in reality management and invented committees have leached off money that should have been reinvested in the infrastructure. Why is a reliable fibre-optic network not in place from town to village, and if it is, why is it such a hardship to run broadband down twisted-pair to houses? I bet it is a "convincing" excuse and they really need cash to sort out the lack of capacity in urban areas.
The two-tier internet idea is a bad one in my opinion. It will further widen the gap between those we can, and those who can't. After all, does a house in the middle of Bodmin Moor pay more for a phone call. If they did, would OFTEL allow it? Same logic.

By the way, this is for provision of 100mbit broadband, isn't it? If not, the UK will still be in the back row.


It's hard to be a virgin

I have heard of disgruntlement at Virgin's internet subscribers receiving warnings about the use of P2P software.
Really, if you think you are going to download 'illegal' [*] songs on an ISP affiliated with a record label, you have only yourself to blame!

* - however, I think the "downloading music is illegal" argument should be waived in cases where there is no legal way to obtain such a song. I can imagine annoyance if the latest Amy Winehouse track did the rounds (I'd be annoyed to waste time downloading it!) but how can a label 'claim' losses for a 30 year old track that isn't in active releasal anywhere (even on audio CD, as in "purchased the old-fashioned way").
Furthermore, if we are to be tied to using their rules and protection systems, we should have a right to be able to purchase music offered for download, rather than "we don't want that sort of payment" or "you live in the wrong country", "we only accept dollars", and the dozen other excuses.



There's loads more I'd like to say. I also have the Eurovision dance contest write-up to make into a web page - which means sorting ~130 pictures, resizing, cropping, JPEGing; and hand-writing the HTML document. Not this week, sorry guys. I can be flippant and say "I can't be assed", or I can be more honest and say "it hurts to think". The end result is the same.
I am listening to NRJ Hits as I write this (like Bubble Hits, only French, FTA at 11.537GHz vertical (22mbaud; FEC 5/6) on old-Astra at 19.2°E) and they are playing Alizée's "Fifty-Sixty". Some people (hello J!) think that it's a bit childish, but I like her because she sings poppy upbeat numbers that make you feel better when you're not en forme. Well, sorry Alizée, but I find "Fifty-Sixty" to be almost totally incomprehensible!
That's not just because I'm tired, I MP3'd this song from the channel in order to try to work out what is being said without cheating and Googling the lyrics.


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