My new toy

When we were in Syria, I saw pressure lanterns for sale and I realised that that is what I needed to make my life complete. So I asked around and they seemed to be going for around AU$20. Maissa was a little surprised that I wanted but insisted I wait until we get back to Lebanon as we would be able to buy one there, and her mum might even have one we could have.

pressure lantern

When we got back to Lebanon, Maissa’s mum said that she had just thrown them all out because they never used them any more so it was off to the markets to get one.

We eventually found one that looked ok. It looked new, but as though it has been sitting in the market for about 5 years before someone bought it. Once I got it, I was itching to try it out but I knew I would have to wait until we got home.

Today I finally had a play with it. I put the mantle on it, filled it with kerosene, and tried to work out how to light the thing. It didn’t come with any instructions so I had to guess. After fiddling around with it for a while I realised that there was little hope of me working it out and so I resorted to searching the Internet.

I found that the lamp I have is a Chinese copy of a Petromax without the top reflector bit ( I supposed i could actually photograph mine, but I can’t be bothered). Anyway, after much reading, I discovered a few hints on how to light the thing. Mine has a rapid preheater feature, which basicaly squirts raw kerosene up into the glass chamber to heat the evaporator stage. I tried to get that going, but it just wouldn’t light. I realised too that my pressure guage is not working. Upon reading more, I found that it would require about 30-40 pumps to bring it up to pressure for the rapid heater to work, and would require pumping while the rapid heater was in use as it quickly depletes the pressure. The rapid heater needs to be used for about 60 seconds. Once I had this knowledge, I tried it again and quickly got the thing going. I wonder where I can get a new pressure guague for my lamp?

Back to life, back to reality

Got back last night after a fairly grueling flight back. At the moment, I’m finding it hard to come down to reality. I woke up at about 6:30 this morning, made coffee (it was good to finaly have my own coffee again) and sat on the couch wonderng how we are going to get ourselves together to put all our stuff away and get back into gear. I’ll rant later about why Gulf Air was so crap.

The Louvre

Today we went to the Louvre. The most impressive thing about the Louvre is its size. Its massive. Its quite difficult even to decide what to look at or for. We decided to do the tour, but we had to wait two and a half hours to get on the next tour, so in the mean time we just wandered around a bit. I found it really quite meaningless wandering around without any information on what we were looking at. We headed off to the Italian painting section to see if we could see any Caravaggio’s. I was quite dissapointed that they only have three, and they weren’t particularly interesting ones either imho.

The funniest thing though was the poor 18yo american girl who had obviously just finished reading The da Vinci Code, who asked the guide if we would be passing by da Vinici’s Last Supper. The guide responded in a rather pompous french accent “No, of course not, The Last Supper is a fresco in Milan, so we will not be passing by it on this tour” but the girl was undetered, she asked if maybe the Louvre has a copy of it? and the guide said, with obvious distain in her voice “This is the Louvre! We do not have copies here, we only have originals!”

A gadget I would like

I don’t know why I haven’t seen something like this before, but why not build a book reader into a mobile phone? One takes one’s mobile everywhere with them, and its a lot smaller than some books, so why not build them together? And while your at it, why not make it an mp3 player also? And come to think of it, why do we have to have ear phones that are coreded? Why can’t they be wireless? Binaural wireless earphones…. Mmmmm…..

A day with old friends

Benoit and family

I cought up with Benoit, a very old friend today. I did a french exchange with him about…. well, a long time ago, when I was around 13. Its been around 12 years since I saw him and his wife Marie, and they have a lovely baby called Zeli. It was great to see them. We get on well and slotted back in together as though it was last week since we last saw each other. Alas, the day was too short and they had to leave to drive all the way back to Lille (about 3 hours away I think). Next time we come to France, we must take the time to go to Lille.

Italian style

I have a theory about Italian style. You see, they love style and there is no denying that they produce some of the most stylish designs of our century, but some times, they seem to come up woth something that is so ugly it defies words. The Fiat Multipla is one of those things. When I first saw this monster (in Paris) I felt sure it was a French car, but then, when I realised it was an Italian car, was horrified. My theory is that in style, the Italians push the limit. They walk the knife edge of stylish, and when the go that little bit too far, it all come crashing down in a heap. I saw a few examples of this while we were in Italy. They hotel we stayed in had a bathroom tiled in poo brown tiles with a 15 watt bulb lighting the room. Other examples were their clothing. Often, I was quite old people wearing outfits that only teenagers could get away with.

I guess these downfalls in style go hand in hand with the good style, you can’t have one without the other.

Coffee in Italy

I don’t know what it is about Italy and coffee, but they seem to go so well together. For instance, for breakfast, we would have a little pastry and a machiato standing up at the bar. It’s quick and tasty and gets you going in the morning. There was a huge queue of people waiting for their coffee’s like this. And there was a lot of Barista’s behind the bar, making the coffees as quick as they could. We loved the coffee in Italy. The thick black drop of liquid at the bottom of the cup that explodes in your mouth with the first sip.

On our last day in Bologna, for some reason Maissa and I decided to have a latte and a cappuccino respectively for breakfast, but shortly after breakfast, we both found ourselves craving the espresso taste, like the milky coffee’s hadn’t quite satisfied us. There was nothing for it but to go to another bar and get an espresso, which we did.


We have been spending the last few days in Italy at a trade show called SANA. The show has been good, but the best part has been hanging out with Andreas and Michaela from African Pacific. They have been taking us to these real Italian restaurants to experience some of the wonderful Italian food.

Last night we went to this place called “Cantina Bentivoglio, con cucina” which basicaly means Wine vendor with kitchen attached. This is the place to go to experience wine and have a bit of food while your there. The restaurant was simple inside, but with a wide picture rail going around the rooms, and the rail was filled with hundreds of empty bottles of wine, all different shapes and sizes, makes and models. You could tell this place specialises in wine just from that. We sat down and we ordered some simple dishes of mozerella, cold meats, olive oil and bread, and bruscetta. The taste of these dishes alone was enough to blow you away, but Andreas and Michela ordered this amazing sparkling red wine. Slightly sweet and full bodied, it was the perfect thing to wash down the entree. Then for main course, I had this sort of bean and pasta soup that was delicious. Real home cooking kind of thing. By this stage we were onto our second bottle of wine and beginning to feel very jolly. I think it was the wine that was affecting us, as we were starting to talk louder and lounder with more and more hand movements, just like the Italians. We felt right at home there.


Yesterday we went to the Rodin museum. I as a little reluctant to go at first because I had been before, but when we got there, I have to admit, I was yet again impressed by his sculptures.

We decided to take a guide thing. It was one of those electronic self guide things where you type the number in and it tells you abou the exhibit. The first thing we saw was The Gate to Hell. I was really impressed by it, again. I had forgotten how evocative his sculptures are. I guess thats why he is a master. The detail of The Gate gives a very strong impression of turmoil and violence while it still has a kind of rhythm to the work.

The next thing I found fantastic was The Kiss. To me, it really gives the impression of the two lovers about to kiss. I can really feel the tension between them, its quite amazing. I have heard others who consider it over rated, but I have to disagree.

Rodin was really prolific. The meuseum is full of his work, and I’m sure there must be lots of works outside of the meuseum too.

Maissa Thinking

High speed moving walkway

Yesterday we came across a high speed moving walkway linking two platforms that are far appart in Montparnasse Bienvenue. The cool thing is that it goes at 9.9 km/h. and to get onto it there is this short ramp that accelerates you up to speed. The way the accelerating ramp works is really cool. its a sereis of small rollers, each going slightly faster, so you just stand there and get accelerated by these rollers, towards the moving walkway proper. The rollers felt a bit weird, like we were losing our balance, but I’m sure once you do it a few times you’d get used to it.