Palace hounds 2

Needless to say, the peeing dogs are a favorite with visitors.

Things that go bump in the night

Recently Fontainebleau has been infested by a type of large, flying insect with a very sturdy exoskeleton. They buzz around streetlights, fall suddenly from the sky, and lie dead on carpeted floors and sidewalks. We don't know the insect's Latin name, but we do know the shock when one suddenly drops next to you while you're relaxing at a streetside cafe, or the quite painful sensation when you collide with one while biking. In a word, yuck.


Back to the future in Russia

My mom and I just came back from a trip to Moscow and to Vitebsk (a city in Belarus) as part of her PhD dissertation. If you miss the 80s, you'll find relief in Moscow, surrounded by mullet hairstyles and bouncy 80s pop. I'm not sure if knee-high boots were de rigeur in the 80s, but they are now. You'll also find cigars on restaurant menus, and superfast escalators in the subway - which frightened my mom more than the news that our hosts' apartment used to belong to the "treasurer" of a criminal circle, and the front door was designed to unlock only from the outside.

Vitebsk is smaller and poorer, the knee-high boots are even more elaborate, and the 80s celebration is set against a backdrop of Soviet-era high rises and brightly painted village-style wood houses. I made lots of dumb jokes about St. Cyril thinking that nobody would guess he plagiarized the alphabet for cyrilic if he just turned some of the letters backwards.