99: Off to France + Are French Children Really That Well-Behaved?

Bringing Up Bebe is a book I’m not likely to read. I’m still recovering from my two pregnancies (1979 and 1984) that have left me too tired to open another childrearing book, but a friend asked what I’ve noticed about French children, and what with being just a sneeze away from France, I’ve decided to investigate. Today we’re skipping over the border to spend the afternoon in Mulhouse.

I am too lazy to even provide a link to the book itself, but found an articulate blogger who gives a great synopsis, which, by the way, she has not read yet either.

This is something journalists like to do, judge a book by its buzz.

Shocked? I was, too, the first time I saw a veteran journalist review one of Republican-princess Ann Coulter’s books without actually ever having touched the book itself (he saw it on my desk).

I read the book and reviewed it, which, given that I was in a newsroom, was a hearty display of adherence to investigative journalism, balanced reportage and a bold statement that I did not care a fig what any of my cohorts thought of my reading choices.

This was too much for the other veteran journalist who lacquered over Coulter in his own unencumbered-by-fact and emotionally laden flame-throwing review. The dangers of such were evident early in his piece, which had a glaring gaff easily recognized by anyone who had read the dust-jacket.

Ann Coulter. Polemicist with good hair. Dissed, but not discounted. Do not be fooled by her looks; she is everything you would expect from someone who made it through Cornell's law school.

Newspapers don’t often run two reviews on one book, but the editors may have felt that I was leading the readers astray and needed to institute a course correction, however, lacking in information that correction might have been.

For those gasping in shock, I also read Rev. Jerry Falwell’s autobiography and Betty Friedan’s books cover-to-cover.  Judge me however you like.

Betty Friedan, another polemicist whose illustrious career as a feminist was colored by late-life allegations that she had stayed in an abusive marriage for 22 years, making women everywhere say "What?!" Her ex denied the claims and she put out a half-hearted retraction.

But all of that is not my point. My point is to report on the conduct of French children, and to put some real observation into it. Our French-border-hugging side of Switzerland is packed with Frenchesque families, but this is not good enough. I must see real French children supervised by real French parents.

Important Note: The articulate blogger Joanna Goddard openly admits she has not yet read the book and her post about it is thusly neutral and open-ended. This is technically still fair journalism because she has hidden nothing from her readers and will probably write more once she’s had a chance to see the book (which was on order at the time she first wrote about it).

Second Important Note: The “veteran reporter” of whom I speak is actually a witty fellow who covers his regular beat with vigor, intelligence and all the diligence one hopes for in a journalist. In this incident, his brain was short-circuited by his overwhelming hate of all things politically right-of-centre.

Third Important Note: 99 days to go!

The countdown continuation …

On March 23, this blog celebrates its first birthday. Since then:

250 posts have been tapped out, of which 221 made it to publication.

350 comments were submitted of which 345 were approved. That puzzles me – what were the five unapproved comments that I deigned not fit for readers’ eyes? I will do a search on those later.

1,203 spam comments were filtered out, thank you to WordPress’s gatekeepers

815 tags were attached to the posts, proving that I am a lazy blog-tagger.

10,972 people have visited HoboNotes

67 nations visited (it’s getting crowded in here)

10 Top Countries to visit are:

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. Switzerland
  4. Mexico
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Australia
  7. Indonesia
  8. Morocco
  9. Italy
  10. Slovakia

10 most infrequent country visitors are:

  1. Ireland
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Moldova
  4. Sri Lanka
  5. Syrian Arab Republic
  6. Viet Nam
  7. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
  8. United Arab Emirates
  9. Lithuania
  10. Georgia

The most popular post of all time is (drum roll please)(click on titles to read): Paris food – Can you eat lamb’s kidney without having to sell one of your own? At 405 hits, it outpaces the second most popular post by a whopping 145 hits. The second was Switzerland’s “Toronto” (260 hits).

This surprises me, but if I learned anything in my tenure as a reporter, it is that boredom has no correlative factors between the writer and the reader. I once wrote a story on the social ramifications of high winds sweeping through our neighborhood on the day we put out our recycling bins. I didn’t think anyone would read it, but it turns out that having one’s neighbor’s personal mail getting snagged in the shrubs is a topic of endless fascination to Canadians.

But I drift from my numbers game here.

The least read post was Swiss air quality not as pure as the government says, which garnered only two hits. I guess only two other people are as repulsed by the copious cloud cover of cigarette smoke on Switzerland’s streets as I am.

104 is the number that most fascinates me today. It is the number of days we have left here in Switzerland, and in the spirit of writing anything that comes my way, no matter how boring, I am going to post something every one of those 104 days, even if it is just a photograph. It is not that great an accomplishment – I wrote almost daily for most of our time here up to January 2012 even while writing a novel.

This will be of interest only to writers, but whipping out pages of fiction did nothing to slow down my blog-posting, however, the minute I turned to editing and then agent-searching, finding something to blog about became more challenging, likely because those are very inward mental tasks focused entirely on the novel and how to present it, whereas fiction-writing is at once all about memory, interpretation and observation – very outward-looking brain functions.

And so 104 days, here we come. Or as they say in Japan where my readership numbers are weak:  104日は、ここでは来る