Thursday, May 14, 2009

The mother of all storms!

After another day of wasted effort on my part: I spent a day spraying grass and weedkiller around the stock yard only to have it all washed away in the mother of all storms.

Those pics, and the following is translated from Charente Libre, the local paper. I had to pay a Euro for the benefit of downloading the artcle.
An apocalyptic vision! 1000 hectares of vineyards in the Cognac shredded and Rouillac. Hailstones three cms in size in drifts in much of the Charente. A land that looks like a shroud. Roads turned green with shredded vegetation. Lights broken. Cars damaged. Houses flooded. Roofs blown away. Fleurac, Mérignac, Foussignac, Vaux Rouillac, Rouillac devastated. The storm swept the Charente from west to east between 17:30 and 20:00 yesterday. A storm of unprecedented violence.
"I've never seen that in thirty years. I crossed the courtyard tee-shirt to go to secure the vehicles. It ripped the skin from my arm. The power was impressive. The hail damaged the bonnets of the cars" said Alain Reboul, a wine grower in Fleurac, who has lost its 15 hectares of vines.
He finds himself with five of his colleagues at the Bois-Noble at Fleurac. The facts are bitter. "And the prunings are destroyed. We can do nothing for two years. We must wait for nature to resume its cycle. This is catastrophic" he said, still in shock.
Anger was mixed with dismay. "It's 80 to 90% of our income that has gone. We have already lost everything with diversification. We lose everything with the weather. "The same thoughts come back. There is talk of huge damage not covered by insurance."

Technicien à la Coopérative agricole de la Charente (ACC), Jean-Paul Dupouy attempts to take stock. He puts forward some figures "Six million, just for the vineyard. But there are also oilseed rape, wheat, the barley, sunflowers, which are destroyed."
The specialist had never seen a such vast area, stretching down from St. Cybardeaux touched.

Rofs made in Everite fell to pieces. The Center for adults with disabilities in the Gachère is plunged into darkness. The hairdresser at Marcillac Lanville a foot in the water. The market square at Rouillac green with sheared leaves
"Outside, it is like in January in the snow. On the roads, it is slippery" said a resident who does not believe his eyes.
A house collapses in Soyaux
Having attacked the Cognac, the storm continued its progress towards the south of the department and Angoulême before slipping late in the evening to the east and Charente Limousine. "The hailstones were as big as pigeon eggs. It was an unusual violence between 19.30 and 20:00" said a Rupificaldien. Telephone lines were cut. At Mornac, hail went through the roof. Smashed computers. Glass gave way. Around the church, the flood.
At Touvre, a few hundred meters away, the Montbron road is blocked by a meter of mud The council had to call out the backhoe excavators.
At Soyaux, firefighters broke down a home cut through by lightning at Mimosas Close.The first floor has fallen. The occupants, who were watching television, got out on time.
At Angoulême, La Grand Font tunnel was closed. Floods prohibit access.
At Villebois-Lavalette, residents of the old people's home took refuge on the first floor. There were forty centimeters of water at the ground floor. At Roumazières, the roof of the car dealership collapsed under the hail. The gardens are crushed. "Tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, there's nothing. It has just started to calm down. "It was crazy" said a resident at 22:00.
The storm has flashed into the heart of the night. The stuff of nightmares

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Voyante Véronique

Confusion reigns in your household today because Saturn is ascending in the sixth house, and the Moon is dominant.
Confusion also reigns when you try and speak french because your accent is so shit.
Marteau, monteau, moto, mouton, menton and matelot all sound a bit similar to the English ear. But unless you want to try say that you hammered a sailor on the chin while wearing a sheepskin coat on a motorbike, best practice first.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

More Jobsworthyness

After the debacle with the gate our next mission was to paint the inside of the mould workshop. We took most of the first morning preparing the site, moving stuff away from the walls, sweeping out etc.
We wee supplied with 4 10 litre pots of white paint, 3 tired rollers and some cheap paintbrushes. The walls we were to paint were unfinished grey concrete blocks. when this workshop had been built, instead of plastering it or painting it, the machinery and stuff had been moved into the unfinished room, the water pipes, power lines, enormouse water resevoirs put in place in front of the unfisnished walls. As a result the room has always been dim and dingy because of the raw grey walls.
The unfinished cement just drank our paint. I'd dip the roller in the paint, roll it down half a metre and ther'd be no paint left.
I tried diluting the paint. It rolled onto the wall better, but the grey came thru and the coverage was too poor.
Because of all the pipework, machinery and elecric cabling we were buggering about with paint brushes in the areas where the rollers wouldn't fit. By the afternoon we had painted a small corner of the room and used a shit load of paint.
Once again the director came by and told us to stop. He got on his mobile and ordered some more paint, exterior stuff that should cover better. We packed up for the day.
I missed the next day because of leave and when I went back, the guys had got hold of 2 spray guns. What a difference! with the right tools you can really get a job done. We whipped thru the rest of the white paint and then went around again with a 2nd coat of the exterior paint to finish. the place looked much better.
After finishing we were told that some guys would be coming round with a high pressure water pistol to clean off the floors.
AFTER we'd painted the walls. the hose will blast crap all over the work we've done! Cart before horse again.
With the workshop painted and the sun shining it was time to retry the gate.
Now we are armed with spray guns, but the factory air lines won't reach the gate, so we wasted more time while a compressor was found.
A dinky 50 litre compressor, that couldn't keep up with the demand of 2 guns. So we took turns painting until we had run out of paint. The gat looked quit smart, all white and fresh.
Now, the hollow bars of the gate take water in the rain, andthen, full of water, in winter they freeze and it bursts the the bars. So our genius chef tells us to get a drill and pierce holes in the bottom of the bars to let the water escape.
We do so, and black, stinky water comes pouring out all over the undried paint of the gate leaving it stained and nasty.
The cart firmly attached to the front of the horse again.
Ils sont même pas capable d'organiser une fête dans une brasserie is the English expression which doesn't translate too well in French. Un bordel de merde is the French phrase that doesn't translate at all into English

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Have a go . . . - How Dumb Are You? - Fun Hard Quiz

The quiz setters are USAian so cut them some slack. BTW the number on a bottle or Rolling Rock is 33. Apparantly everyone in the world knows that.


Lazy Workshy Jobsworths

And now I'm one of them.

Since the factory has stopped production we are all supposed to be on maintenance duties. I've been assigned to the "environment" team, painting gates and fences and stuff.

Everyone has an attitude of "don't rush to finish anything, they'll only find you something else to do"

In our little team of three, our first assignment was to paint the big steel automatic gate at the front of the factory. It was pretty rusty and nasty. We would first have to get rid of the rust and the flaky old paint.

Clock on at 8:00 am. Meet at the maintenance yard 8:05. Put the cafetière on and talk bollocks while the coffee comes thru. Fill the wheelbarrow with rags, gloves, paintbrushes, paint, sandpaper and traipse down to the gate. 8:30

Boss decides we need mini angle grinders to get the rust off. We stand around in the sun while he goes off to get the machines. 9:00 he's back. Hooray! We have nifty grinders to get the rust off. But no disks, so we do some more sun bathing while he goes off looking for disks. 9:15 and hooray, we have disks, but no extension cable, so moer sunbathing while he goes off to find one.
Just before 10:00 and we finally have everything we need to get started, but 10:00 is coffee time so we traipse off back to the maintenance yard to put the cafetière back on ...

By the end of the day we had de-rusted half of the gate. This was a Friday. It rained all week-end and rusted up the work we had done. The following monday saw the same chaos and us runing back and forth between the gate and sheltere everytime it started to rain.

The paint was water-based white paint for metal, but it was cheap nasty stuff that even after 3 coats still wasn't covering properly. The factory director (called "Mickey" because he always wears a safety helmet with integral ear muffs that look like Mikey Mose ears) finally told us to stop wasting time and money with this rubbish paint and find something else to do.

So they decided that we would paint the inside of the mould workshop. And thus started another week of farce ...

Friday, May 08, 2009

La Fesse

There's a comic on the French radio station Rire et Chansons called Jean-Yves LaFesse. His schtick is telephone gags. I heard this one the other day and it had me laughing out loud.
He's making out to be an old lady hard of hearing and he's phoned these people pretending to be a friend of the family. As she mishears the conversation she gets at cross purposes about the health of the couples' mother and as they try and explain it gets worse and worse.
When they say "Elle n'a rien" She mishears "rein" and thinks the mother has kidney trouble. When they say that there has been no "accident" she pics up on "dent" and thinks the mother has problems with her teeth. "rien de grave" gets misheard for "greffe" or graft. And finally, as the woman on the phone breaks down with laughter Madame Moisan thinks she's crying.
Have a listen, it'll be good for your French.

Trouble at t'mill

The economic crisis continues to bite.

The factory's stock yard is nearly full of tiles and we aren't selling enough. So We stopped all productopn on the 24th April and will ot start again until the 13th May.

The stoppage is no doubt linked France's tax system whereby companies are taxed on their stock. That's right, their stock is taxable. In June. So the bean counters want the stock as low as possible at the end of May. This is also the reason why we keep so few spare parts. Those parts would be stock and thus taxable. The companies that make the parts don't want to keep them either because then they'd be paying the tax. As a result, large portions of France's stock is permanantly hidden "in transit".

Another reason for the bean counters shutting down the factory now is that May has 2 long weekends. By putting all the production staff onto day shifts the company doesn't have to pay out the extra dosh for the shifts that would have worked on the public holidays.

To give them some credit tho, at least no one's been laid off. Yet. We've spent the last 2 weeks cleaning and generally wasting time.