Friday, February 23, 2007

Un week-end debauché

Today is our wedding anniversary, 22 years. We've booked a hotel in Bordeaux - Hôtel de lOpéra a 2 star jobby in the middle of the town.
We found the hotel through the excellent Bordeaux Tourist Board website. I'm really looking forward to a weekend in the big city, and eating something unusual and delicious. I will eat absolutely anything, and one of the things I love about french cuisine is that they will cook just about anything.
A full report will be published on our return.

On the job front - the factory called today to cancel my 2:00pm appointment because the HR person is in Paris. But they want me to pop in sometime during my shift on Monday, so the can open a file and the on Wednesday I'll sign the contract.

So it is definitely ON! At last I get to be a fully-fledged, can't-fire-me, job-for-life, union-member french labourer. I wonder which Union I should join. The one that will piss off the fewest co-workers. If I don't join a union I'll piss off all my co-equipiers. I'll probably be the only Sarkozy supporting union member in France!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The mould workshop

Day 6 of the 6 day shift cycle.
Shift 8:00pm till 4:00am
Mould workshop
Tiles made: none
Dry Tiles unstacked: none

The shift boss came to me at the end of the shift on day 4 and says, "Stewart, we want to train you in the mould workshop so that you can replace Stephan P when he goes on leave. Tomorrow, and the following night shift, and the 4 day shifts for next cycle, report to the mould workshop"

Cool. New skills. The various presses in the factory have metal moulds that are filed with plaster. The plaster can take the form of the various tile shapes. the advantage is that the moulds can be modified and it makes it easy to change details on the moulds, like date stamps.

When the moulds are worn out, or the press is going to make a different product the plaster has to be smashed out of the moulds with little hand-held pneumatic hammers.

Here's the daily routine:
First, I amble off to whichever accessory press has just finished, and I dismount the moulds, and cart them back to the workshop. I have the rest of the shift to smash these moulds and put away the empty mould frames.
I also have the rest of the shift to pour fresh UPPER moulds for the shift that will follow us, and fresh LOWER moulds for the shift that follows them.
It is a team of two in the mould workshop. I handle the moulds for the accessory presses - the DTP, the STP, the Mulder and the Bongioanni.
The other guy, also a Stephen, handles the moulds for the tile press in factory three. This press takes six moulds, ie: it presses six tiles at a time, and so has six upper moulds and six lower moulds. The press operators change the moulds one by one, so there is a rolling change of moulds. When thay have a trolly full of old moulds - 12 or 14 of them, they trundle it into the workshop. I then stop whatever I'm doing and the two of us work like maniacs smashing the moulds and repouring them. When they are all done we wheel them back to the press and life calms down for a bit.
I'll post more info over the next few days about the noise, the dust, the stupid new computersed plaster mixer and the other joys of the mould workshop.

On a promising note, I have a meeting tomorrow at 2:00pm with the factory boss. I suspect and hope it is to sign my CDI - permanant contract.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cherves Chatelars

I notice from my web referrals that many people are finding my blog when they do a search on "Cherves Chatelars", the name of the village I live in. I suspect that many of them will not find the information they need if they are searching for gites or b&B or property to buy.
They will tend to find this page via google, part 1 of my little posts about the french resistance in the area.
If you are after more infor about Cherves Chatelars, or looking for "official" sites or tourist sites, do a search with this spelling "Cherves Chatelard" or "Cherves-Châtelard" which is the older form of spelling.
This page is the official village entry in the villages and districts register. It is in french but has a wee american flag icon to translate to english.
French wikipedia has an article.
Here's were we are in relation to all of France.
Here are all our geographic details.
And these are our demographic details from the March 1999 census.

Finally, if you have any questions, where to stay, what to do, whatever, send me an email at stewart.paterson at wanadoo dot fr

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Two- fingered whistle

Day 1 of the 6 day shift cycle.
Shift 4:00am till midday
Press - DTP
Tiles made: Rive Chatreuse BV 2800
Dry Tiles unstacked: Chatiere GR13, Chatiere Marseilles, Rives Chatreuse Terron

It's very unusual for Equipe E to run the DTP. Makes a nice change. We lost an hour due to the mould workshop having a breakdown. Tomorrow its back to the dear old Mulder.

All my life I wanted to learn how to whistle lod with 2 fingers. Last month I googled "how to whistle" and found some tips. A bit of practice and here we have it:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Silly Blog Things

Your Vocabulary Score: A
Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!You must be quite an erudite person.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Another french/english crossover

It's not surprising given the Norman conquest and all, but I love discovering links between the 2 languages.
Which is the chicken and which is the egg is another debate but here's a new one I found:

The french word for the verb To Do is Faire. The french word for "do-able" is faisable. From whence we get "feasable"

Sponge Bob

Day 5 of the 6 day shift cycle. Shift 8:00pm till 4:00am
Press - Mulder
Tiles made: Aretier 40 BV - 4900
Dry Tiles unstacked: Aretier 40 BV - 4900

Well, it's getting near the end of the 3rd cycle back with E Team. And it already seems like I've been there forever. They're not a bad mob.
We've been making these Aretier tiles in BV all week, and it's a bit tedious making the same product day after day. And because they are in BV - Brun Veilli (old fashioned brown) I get to do the sponge dance (described elsewhere on this blog, I'll try and link)when it's my turn to stack.
Last night I alo set up the STP press. I did that also on the first cycle with the team. It's nice that they are finding uses for the skills I've picked up with the other teams.

On the pigeon front - I now have 3 nesting couples. With a bit of luck that will mean 6 chicks in a few weeks. Spring must be working it magic. Must be because our young ginger tom cat buggered off yesterday for more than 24 hours. We were all getting worried. he came back last night and his brother and the dogs were all giving his goolies a sniff. he must have been out on a 24 hour orgy. He's shattered now and has slept solid.

Lucky bastard.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Atheist videos

My latest contribution.

I even have 8 people subscribed!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

On yer bike!

Day 1 of the 6 day shift cycle. Shift 4:00am till midday
Press - Mulder
Tiles made: Marseiiles 50 Brun Masse - 5400
Dry Tiles unstacked: Ventilation 033 Xahara - 5300

I rode in to work this morning. Alarm went off at 3:55am. Cycling kit was already, the bike packed. I dressed and went out. It was 6 degrees celcius and raining. Too late.
13 kilometers later I arrived at work, a bit damp, but the rain jacket is a good one. It served me well in Paris-Brest-paris in 2003. I forgot to zero the clock so I don't know how long it took.

The shift was hard work, big 50cm tiles that will be really shit to stack tomorrow because the get stuck on the bends in the conveyor belts and under the spray paint hoods.

Gentle ride home - 13k in 36 minutes. When I was fitter I was doing it under 30.

Monday, February 05, 2007

More French Grammar weirdness

In French, often the adjective comes after the noun, so you don't say "a white house", you say "a house white" - une maison blanche.

So far, no problem. But, there are some adjectives wich always come BEFORE the noun, like the adjective "old". So in Fench you say "an old house, white" - une veille maison blanche.

The adjectives that come before tend to concern notions of age, beauty, size or goodness (mnemonic BAGS)

All this is still OK because you can always memorise the exceptions.

Then I came across a doozy - the word "propre".

If "propre" comes AFTER the noun it means "clean" but if it comes BEFORE the noun it infers ownership. So "sa propre voiture" means "his own car" but "sa voiture propre" means "his clean car".

Stupid language

Friday, February 02, 2007

Mild Winter - first bike ride

Although we had a cold snap over Christmas that saw -5 degrees and snow, overall the winter has been mild so far. Today it was 10 degrees and sunny. My shift finished at 4:00 am and I was up before midday. So I decided to get the bike out and go for a ride. I did 40 kilometers and a very leasurely pace. It was good to be back in the saddle. I need to loose about 10 kilos.

I'll try and get cycling to work again in the day shifts. That means cycling home in the dark, but the bike has lights.

Long overdue factory update

Well - it's finally happened - I'm being taken on full time.

Yippee! It's incredible that they've had me there on a temp (interim) contract for 2 years now. Under french employment law 2 years is the max you can have on a interim contract, and quite right too. If you can employ someone for 2 years it's a pretty good indication that
a. There is enough work for him and
b. He's up for it.

French employment law is a nightmare for employers. the taxes are high and it is very difficult to fire someone.

When my contract ends on 15th february I will be offered a CDI (Contrat à durée indéterminée) I'm not sure what terms I will be able to negotiate, since the salaries are rigidly structured around job function.

On the downside though I've changed team AGAIN. I'm back in Team E, the same team I started with 2 years ago, on the nasty old Mulder machine.
On the plus side I am the team "ajoint" or second IC. So when Pascal goes on leave or is sick I take over.

It's a great relief to have job security, medical aid, paid leave and all that stuff.