Lyon and Lisbon

April 14, 2011

I was very fortunate to have had a job (a while back) which resulted in being seconded to the company’s headquarters in Lyon, France for what ended up being a four year stay, while I was the IT Project Manager on a global software implementation project.

During our stay there, K and I were able to travel to quite a few places in Europe as the distances were relatively short (in comparison to getting to those places from Canada) and there were generally good options for getting to them: networks of excellent high-speed highways connecting major cities, high-speed trains lines and, for the longest trips, air travel, although most of our travelling was done either by car or train.

So Lyon is the first “L” for today’s A-Z Blogging Challenge post, and the second is Lisbon (Lisboa in Portuguese) – one of the places we got to visit on a group trip from Lyon.  A bit of an explanation here: in France, companies over a certain size are required by employment laws (and boy, do they have employment laws in France – lots and lots of them, as befits the country that invented bureaucracy) to have a comité d’entreprise (CE) that is made up of elected representatives of the employees and is funded by the company, based on a percentage of the total payroll (um, to put it in Facebook relationship terms: It’s complicated).

One of the functions of the CE relates to running company subsidized social and cultural events for employees – including organizing group trips, usually planned around the many statutory holiday periods throughout the year.  One such trip that we were able to take advantage of was to the second “L” for today’s post: Lisbon, Portugal.

The trip was organized around the long weekend of Pentecost (lundi de Pentecôte) in May 2002 and we had a wonderful time there.  The Portuguese people were welcoming and friendly, and as many of them speak French (the two languages have many similarities due to their both being Romance languages) it often made communicating easier (er, that’s because K and I both know French – OK, she’s more fluent than I since she studied French literature in university but je me débrouille pas mal).

We were already accustomed to good food from living in Lyon, regarded (by some, anyway, and definitely by the Lyonnais) as the gastronomic capital of France, but Lisbon delivered its fair share of gustatory treats, including pastéis and ginjinha.

There were wonderful sights to see as well: azulejos tilework was everywhere, we made the obligatory visit to the remains of the Roman temple of Évora, and took a leisurely tour of the city on a chartered old fashioned tram (the modern ones are quaintly old fashioned in their own way).  And then there was the sea and seafaring – an integral part of life in Lisbon and Portugal throughout its history.  Pictures are worth more than words, though, so here are a few we took on that trip:

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Would I go back to Lyon or Lisbon, either to visit or to live there?  In a heartbeat… 🙂


The Epic Awesomeness of Podcasters Across Borders 2009 – Part 2

June 24, 2009

For the explanation of the title of this post, go back to “Epic Awesomeness of PAB09 – Part 1“.  And to find out more about Podcasters Across Borders in general, go to the PAB website.

Epic Awesomeness #2

Two of the most awesome things about PAB, in any of the years that K and I have attended (2007, 2008 and now 2009 — we fall short of being “PAB Lifers” by just missing out on the inaugural PAB in 2006 because we found out about it too late 😦 ), have been the organizers of PAB — Bob Goyetche and Mark Blevis.

Bob and Mark do an amazing job of putting together a conference for the podcasting/social media community that just keeps on getting better every year — and if you don’t believe me, ask almost anyone who’s been to PAB.

OK, there may be the odd person or two who went away less than satisfied by the experience, but I doubt that I would need more than the fingers on one hand to count all of them, from all the PABs that have taken place.

I think I can call them pillars of the podcasting/social media community without much fear of contradiction — they collaborate regularly on the most excellent Canadian Podcast Buffet show, they are involved in organizing local meetups and Podcamps in Ottawa and Montréal, and they’re always willing to help out others with advice.

Organizing PAB is a tremendous effort, with myriad details to attend to as well as difficult choices to make in selecting who will present each year.  And they do all this while keeping the cost to attendees amazingly low and without taking any profit from the event — the registration fee is an absolute bargain for what you get: a day and a half crammed full of presentations (actually two full days if you can make it there for Friday afternoon, when there’s generally a workshop/technical session — this year it was presented by Paul Lyzun on video techniques with consumer camcorders; we didn’t arrive in time to catch the whole session, but what we did see was quite interesting), a buffet lunch on Saturday, a boat cruise and the opportunity to connect face-to-face with other members of the community.

And of course, it would be remiss of me to not also thank Mark’s wife Andrea (with whom he does the Just One More Book!! podcast) and Bob’s wife Cat (with whom he does The CatFish Show podcast) who not only lend moral support to them but also put in a lot of behind the scenes efforts to make PAB happen.

Let me just close by saying how glad I am to count them among my friends…  here are pictures of them I took at PAB09:

6th Photo Meme – PAB2008 Time for social networking in person between presentations

December 5, 2008

Time for social networking in person between presentations, originally uploaded by Rob_42.

I’ve been tagged by the lovely and talented Bob Goyetche (co-organizer of Podcasters Across Borders a.k.a. PAB, and co-host of the Canadian Podcast Buffet) for the 6th Photo Meme. And since there’s apparently an innocent dolphin’s life at stake, I figured I needed to follow through on it…

The rules of the meme are simple enough, it works like this: if you use Flickr, go to the sixth page of your photostream and pick the sixth picture there, then post it to your blog.

Except I don’t post many photos to Flickr, so it took a bit of juggling with the photstream layout to get it onto 6 pages. And even then, there are not 6 photos on the 6th and last page — so I’ve fudged a bit by using the 3rd photo, which in my pretzled logic I reasoned was halfway to 6.

So the photo that’s posted is actually from PAB 2008 — nice bit of symmetry after being tagged by one of the organizers 🙂

In the photo, you can see the Comfy Sofas that were a new addition to the facilities this year, and by all accounts were very popular so it’s likely they will make an encore appearance at PAB 2009.

And people, you can see people — that’s the great thing about attending PAB is meeting people face-to-face that you’ve know via the internet. This photo was shot in between presentations, when everyone had a chance to mingle and talk.

OK, so the backlighting from the windows was less than ideal for the shot, but you work with what ya got, eh? Still turned out reasonably well, particularly given the age of our camera — it’s a circa 1999 vintage Kodak DC290 digital camera, with a whopping 2.1 megapixels and an appetite for AA batteries like you wouldn’t believe (have completely worn out several sets of rechargeables over the years with it).

Now, to tag 6 new recipients:

John Meadows Damn! Blevis beat me to him…  let’s try tagging Oza Meilleur instead.
Valerie Hunter
Todd Tyrtle
Mark Blaseckie
Nora Young

Forgive me for meming you… but it’s for the dolphin!