Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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I generally like to travel with virtually no plan and no idea where I am or am going, and my trip to France was true to form. I waltz into the Amsterdam train station, wait in the long line, and ask the attendent "I'd like a ticket to Normandy, France, please." "Where in Normandy?" "Uhh... I dunno, I guess the center." "Err.. which *city* in Normandy." "Oh, I thought Normandy *was* a city. Um... I have no idea. What do you recommend?" "Well... I don't know. How about Dieppe? I think that sounds familiar. Is that good?" "Sounds good, sign me up."

I step off the train in Dieppe in a mild drizzle and find it to be the perfect antidote to all the big-city traveling I've been doing. It's a small and rather unremarkable fishing town, the major point of historical effort being the disastrous (and unsuccessful) landing attempt by the Canadians during World War II.

The beach at Dieppe is very wide and consists of countless fist-sized pebbles. Though barren at the time of this picture, when the sun comes out and the wind dies down, the French come out in force. Though it took a bit to get comfortable on the rocky shore, once situated the smooth stones actually feel quite comfortable and, with an ear pressed to the ground, transmit a wonderful grating sound over very long distance.
For some inexplicable reason, the French keyboard is... excuse my French, the most fucked up thing I have had the misfortune of typing upon. Ok. First, to type numbers, you have to hold down the shift key. If you don't, you have immediate access to a wide variety of cryptic characters that, as far as I know, are not used in any language, not even French. That, and many kinda useful keys, like @, require the "Alt Gr" key to access (not on normal keyboards). The left and right paranthesis (SHIFT+9 and SHIFT+0 on real keyboards) as well as the left and right brackets, are nowhere near each other. M, Z, Q -- basically, a bunch of letters, some of which are really valuable, are scattered at random. To borrow the words of Douglas Adams, it's "almost, but not entirely unlike" a normal keyboard. As I was explaining to John in my initial fury, typing my name is like executing a series of complex Street Fighter moves.

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