To my American friends who are seeing the Paris tragedy from last night…

parispeacesignTo my American friends who are seeing the Paris tragedy from last night… I found out about it around 11 am this morning after receiving a message from a concerned family member on Facebook.

Yes, we are in the heart of Europe bordered by France, Germany and Belgium and just four hours by car from Paris. But, I feel safer here than I did in the US. Every day in America there are senseless shootings of innocents and it seems nobody cares enough to do something about it. But when something big happens it is a travesty and the media has a field day with it.

So, now, who do we blame? That’s the first thing that comes to mind in American society. I have seen some of the crazy tweets blaming the refugees and Islamists and even shaming Obama. Seriously?

I was at the Red Cross Refugee Center on Friday afternoon and saw a woman with her baby on her hip. I wanted to hug her not run from her.

I don’t know what the US media is sharing with America, but the French and European people and news are probably handling it much differently. As I sat on the couch this morning watching the French news, I commented to my French husband how different the American media would portray this tragedy.

Tell me if I am wrong.

American media portrayal: videos of people running and screaming for cover playing over and over on the screen; blaming, blaming, blaming every possible suspect (refugees, Islamists) before a real perpetrator was actually named; blaming President Obama for not doing enough with Syria; counting how many American’s were killed or visiting Paris and thought missing; scaring the shit out of everyone and telling them how dangerous Europe is; France’s borders are closed and no one can escape.

France’s borders are not closed. As a matter of fact, France issued an announcement earlier this week about border checks in anticipation of the 12-day UN conference Nov. 30th through Dec. 11th in Paris. Yes, people must show ID at the border, but it is a simple check for security.

“France issued a note to EU officials last month, announcing border checks at all international airports, as well as its 131 land crossings with Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Luxembourg. The note said that Schengen rules allow controls “when there is a serious threat to public policy.”

During the hour that I watched the French news there was not one splash of carnage or injured or witnesses on the street (this is about 12 hours after it happened). Instead the French news teams were discussing how the people are coming together in support. What safety initiatives are in place to keep everyone safe. They are asking themselves why this happened and what they can do now to not have it happen again. They even had a philosopher on the news explaining what kinds of people do this. One segment was showing a long line of people giving blood. You would never see this in America. In America it is all about bringing fear and blame.



It’s That Time of Year in Luxembourg – Change Your Tires

fallroadIt is that time of the year – the leaves are changing colors and falling, the nights are getting longer and there is a chill in the air.

Here in Luxembourg a rule was put into place in 2012 that makes in mandatory to change the summer tires on your car to winter tires by October 1st. Yes, that is right, each vehicle has two sets of tires. When we were looking at the adds for a car it was often mentioned that the car included winter tires. We soon found out what this meant. There is a very rigorous registration and inspection regime in Luxembourg that is beyond compare of anything in the US.

You won’t be fined if you don’t change the tires unless the police tag you, there is snow on the ground and they are needed or you have to go for your yearly control technique inspection.

So, I finally took our car to change the tires last week. I wasn’t sure what to expect since it is mandatory and every car owner in Luxembourg is out getting his/her tires changed during the month of October. The weather here is brutal in October as you can see in my picture. Actually it has been quite nice all month – 50s and 60s during the day and going down in the 30s a handful of nights. So, why October 1st? Why I ask for most rules in Luxembourg.

tiresBecause of the mandatory law, there are repair shops that only work with changing tires. So, I crossed my fingers and hoped for a short line. I was in luck. It only took about 40 minutes from the time I arrived until I  left. And, even better, it only cost €33 for changing the tires and balancing the wheels. I am not sure there is anywhere in the US that you would get this type of service. Now I just have to find a place in our garage to store the summer tires.