Home sweet home

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[Front of house]This is the front of my parents' house, in typical Île-de-France style of the mid 80's. The left window on the first floor (that's “second floor” in the US) is my bedroom, the right one is my parents' room; on the ground floor, the single window on the left (above the garage door) is the guest room, and the two French windows lead to the living room. When you look at the house this way, North is in front.

[Front garden]This is the front garden as seen through the living room's window (there's a reflection on the glass, in the form of a horizontal bar about one third the way down the image), with the neighbors' house seen behind. There used to be significantly more trees in the street, but the terrible storm of december 2000 tore down a few of them. Our front gate is half open since someone obviously forgot to close it. The bush you see in the lower-right corner of the image is the same which partially masks the front door in the previous picture. Also notice that the grass is completely dead (because my father no longer does any gardening).

[Back garden]And this is the back garden, seen through the window of my father's study, looking North. The grass is slightly greener there.

[Living room]This shows the living room: the front garden would be on the right. You can see my mother's cat, Hilbert, sleeping on the chair (and leaving loads of cat hair there). The chimney on the left is almost never used (perhaps once a year at most); and the picture sitting on the mantel is there only temporarily. The shelves on the right are part of my parents' library: don't try to make out the titles of the book, the image is too blurry for that (though you can see the blue-and-gold lettering on the aligned white volumes of the Encyclopædia Universalis). The dark piece of furniture on the lower left is the sofa (also full of cat hair), with a cushion on it. And the table between the sofa and Hilbert's chair supports the remote controls (the nondescript silvery object) for the TV set and DVD/VCR drive, as well as this week's issue of the cultural magazine Telerama (normally there would also be an issue of Canadian Geographic, but it seems to have been stored away).

[Living room]This is another view at the living room (taken from the side of the mantelpiece), showing the windows, and, between them, the TV set and hi-fi equipment (with a few video tapes and CD's lying around). Above the television, there is an African mask which my father brought back from Upper Volta dozens of years ago. Hilbert is still sleeping on the chair on the lower left (so you can't see him).

[My mother]This is my mother, in my father's study, typing at her iMac. If you look closely, you'll see that she's using the MacOS X version of the Mozilla web browser to check her mail on Voila.fr. In case you wonder why there are two keyboards in front of her, the one further from her (which is a dull gray: it's pretty old, owing to the difficulty of finding adequate QWERTY keyboards in France) is connected to my father's computer, which you can't see on the picture (it's hidden on the right).

[Harpsichord]This is my mother again, and now that she has finished checking her mail, she is playing the harpsichord in her bedroom. The instrument is a very precise copy of an XVIIIth century French harpsichord; in gold letters on the dark green top panel, you can read MVSICA MAGNORVM EST SOLAMEN DVLCE LABORVM, which is Latin for “music is a sweet comfort of great labors”.

[Me typing]While my mother is playing music, I'm typing—this very web page! This computer is “pleiades” (we have six in the house: my mother's iMac photographed above is “andromeda”, and my father's PC—both are in my father's study—is “antares”; and in the basement we have “orion”, the router, and “sirius”, a 486 I keep for sentimental reasons). Sitting proudly on top of pleiades is a stuffed Linux mascot pinguin, that my friend Antoine bought me for my 25th birthday.

[My desk]This picture shows a clearer view of my desk, and the mess that it supports. On the left of pleiades, there's an old LaserJet 4ML laser printer, and a Canon A4 scanner (mostly hidden). On the shelf above there are loads of CD-ROM's and CD-R's (the latter being mostly backups of my data), and on the shelf even above that, various computer manuals and reference documents. There are also many of those gathering dust in heaps under the desk. The window above pleiades overlooks the back yard. Attached to the windowsill are copies of two cartoons that I like. On the right side of the computer monitor, there's an HP48GX calculator that I don't use much anymore (except as a terminal to my PC!). Behind the blue “Gibert” bag (containing two dozen pens, but you can't see that), there's a pile of musical CD's which are just those I most frequently listen to (I have many more in various drawers, and under the desk). Two items to the right of the CD pile, is a bust of Socrates made of stucco, which I brought back from a holiday in Greece (in 1992). The blue desk lamp supports a figurine of Garfield the cat. Right of the lamp, the door which blocks the view leads to my bathroom. On the lower right corner of the image, the unrecognizable object which you see sticking out in front of the door is the Longman pronunciation dictionary, which you'll get a better view of in the next picture.

[Shelves]Here are the shelves on which I keep my dictionaries (and various other reference books), something I'm greatly attached to. On the left of the picture, you get a glimpse of my bathroom. On the right, through my bedroom door, you can see the staircase leading down to the ground floor. Between them, on top, you can see a famous picture montage of Saturn and its moons as taken by Voyager 1. Below it, a postcard showing a bust of the emperor Hadrian is half obscured by the Longman (English) pronunciation dictionary, resting horizontally on Le Bon Usage, a famous French grammar by Grevisse. The right part of the top shelf consists of mostly Latin and Greek dictionaries. On the shelf below we see the French dictionary in six (plus one) volumes by Émile Littré, a French dictionary of synonyms, the petit Robert (another French dictionary), Bartlett's Roget's Thesaurus, the Robert & Collins Senior (bilingual French and English) dictionary, and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Several other dictionaries, including the petit Larousse (another famous French dictionary) are laid out horizontally on top of the first. (I know you don't care, but why are you reading this anyway? ;-) On the shelf even below we find miscellaneous other dictionaries: of German, Russian, mathematics, world literary texts, movies, etc; and several printed editions of the students' diary of the ENS.

[Book shelves]But of course my dictionaries are only a small fraction of my personal library: here you can see part of the rest. (This collection of books is one of the main reasons I'm still staying at my parents' place much of my time, rather than in my apartment in Paris.) On the very top, attached to the wall is a picture of my (paternal) grandfather, when he was an airplane pilot in the Arctic. On the right of the top row, the dark red books are a series of French law reference books (by the editor Dalloz). On the row below that, furthest to the left, the connoisseur will recognize some of the O'Reilly Definitive Guides to the X Window System. On the next shelf to the right we have some Loeb classical library texts (mostly Latin), and a few plays by William Shakespeare (plus his collected works in one volume, Oxford edition). The left part of the next shelf is obscured by a postcard showing a XIXth century caricature of Victor Hugo. Just below that postcard, a little to the right, the three first (and only!) volumes of Knuth's Art of Computer Programming are clearly visible, and, to their right, the “Dragon Book”. The shelf left of this holds in particular at least six different editions of the Bible (a rather large number for an atheist like I am, I suppose), right next to a cheap plastic imitation of a baroque clock (showing nearly 6PM). Further to the left we find a great number of books by Isaac Asimov, but also Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, two different French translations of the Arabian Nights, and (horizontally) the complete works by Racine and the complete plays of the Greek tragics. Finally, all books below this (except the six that are stacked on the very lower left corner of the picture) are math books (a little more than half of my collection of math books): the ones having almost all a yellow cover, on the two central shelves (the one with the empty water bottle and the one above it), are those by Springer Verlag.

David Madore

Last modified: $Date: 2002/08/06 22:27:43 $