Sunday, December 16, 2018

December in Exile

My friends,

The festive season is upon us and I want to wish you all a happy holiday season.  Happy (belated) Hanukkah to my Jewish friends, Merry Christmas and happy New Year to almost everyone (except perhaps my Jehovah's Witness friends, to whom I wish... ummm... warm tidings for the wintery months), and a Joyous Yuletide for all of my friends (possibly none of you) who have previously cheered on my posts about Woden.

The Wild Hunt... a Yuletide Tradition

No More Facebook

Many of you have said that you've missed me and my updates on social media.  I have missed you, but I have not missed the medium.  Meanwhile, I've been trying to get on top of my life and my passions and into a place where I can be more comfortable and more content.   I have not been 100% absent from Facebook, however. 

I've continued to maintain two pages:  First a page for my company Data Sage...
Data Sage Advanced Automation

And a page for my former Paris apartment: which may become a fashion house one day...
Le Palais de Chevalier Robyn

And of course, you can contact me (if you're my friend already), on messenger.

Will I ever return to FB?   I honestly thought my departure wouldn't extend more than a week.  I'm not expecting to return, though I'll keep my messenger account active for the foreseeable future.

So long, Zuckerberg!

Paris Exile and Gabriola Island

Earlier this year, my larger clients either ran out of money or switched to other vendors or otherwise chose another direction in their software universe.  Since my entire living in the past 25 years has come from creating custom software for clients, I'll leave it for you to imagine how much I bring in with zero active clients.   Think of a number between 1 and -1.

Only entrepreneurs go from major income to zero income.  Yes, I had savings to shield the blow from this, but no I did not have enough savings to a) live in Paris indefinitely and b) face down an total cessation of my paid work.

I retreated to Gabriola Island, where my family (my mom, an aunt, two uncles and five cousins) has been calling the place home for nearly 50 years.  My mother has become the matriarch of our clan, having taken the mantle from her mother, who took the prize from her mother before her.  The end result (for me) is that Gabriola is a place where I can convalesce and shore up my business contracts while spending very, very little money.

A wrinkle in this convalescing plan is that my mom has been having health issues and my own situation is not the main focus of the family.  It's probably fortunate that circumstance forced be back to Gabriola as I believe that I may have had a positive effect on my mom's health, which was in a scary decline in my absence.

Malespina Galleries on Gabriola Island
How much longer am I destined to stay?  That will depend on what my next contract requirements will be, and whether my mom's health is truly stabilized.   I expect to move on by the spring.

Serving Two Masters

I've been wanting to shift the way I make my living for a long time now.  For the past very long time, I have been making custom software for clients.  To do this, I write a contract where I sell my time.  I would prefer to write contracts where I sell (or license) software.  To accomplish this shift, I'll need some commercial software to sell... and to this end I've been writing some... and I've been taking my time to do it.

What am I working on specifically?  Glad you asked.  I've been creating business productivity software that has a social-media style interface.  I call it Oi!  I had the idea some 5 years ago.  It will, I'm certain be a very fun product.  Using Oi!, working with co-workers and clients on a project would be a lot like goofing around with them on Facebook, except that work would actually get done.

Meanwhile, I continue to look for work in the old fashioned way.   I NEED work.   If you need a system or know anyone who needs new business software or old business software in need of an upgrade, do let me know.


Most of you have watched me start with a simple dress to become somewhat of a dressmaker.  I've since improved my skills as a dressmaker and finally... I might be becoming a tailor.  Tailoring is the most involved set of skills in the sewing world.  I've entered the tailoring world with my first man's jacket.   Is it cool?  Fuck yes.  Is it perfect?  God no.   I have a lot to learn, really... a lot, but so far, I'm happy with the results.

This Chevalier is ready for action!

Will I become a tailor or couturier one day?   It's not entirely likely, but I am certainly getting a lot better at sewing.   Here's a dress I've been working on for Venice Carnival (?) or possibly the Bal Masque de Versailles..
Instant awesomeness:  Just add princess.
I've also been making a steady stream of modern dresses and recently a collection of 70's era jumpsuits and rompers.  Do you need a dress, but can't buy it in a store?  Maybe I can make one for you!  It doesn't hurt to ask.  Put in your request and if I can do it, I'll slip it into the queue.


I hope to return in the new year.  My ability to return will depend a lot on contracts.  I don't want to take a job there and ... honestly, it's hard enough finding a good paying job in Canada.  I'll have the Dickens of a time in France with my terrible French and penchant for self-employment.  So I'll only return if my contracts make it viable.

That may mean a plan, yes an actual plan, to spend time in Victoria or Vancouver until I have a Paris war chest built up.  Nonetheless, I will return to Paris eventually.  I love the city.  I love how I feel when I'm there.  And there are some people there who I care for very deeply.  More love.   Paris feels like home to me.  It may take some time, but that's where I'm ultimately expecting to be.

So that's more than you need to read about me.   Message me on FB messenger... or whatsApp or call me on the good ol' telephone... if you have a telephone app for your phone.  I will drop *anything* to catch up.

Your friend and adventurer,
Chevalier Robyn

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A New Hope


A Canadian in Paris may have fallen short of many of your blog needs and expectations these days and I'm here to give you a couple of reasons for that.
  1. I have been very busy.
  2. I haven't been in Paris.
  3. I haven't been in Paris (worth mentioning twice).
Let me tell you something about the finances of living abroad.  Many of you perhaps assumed that I had unlimited wealth or perhaps did under-the-table jobs in Paris.  This wasn't the case.  I'm a computer consultant with my own company and I have been doing freelance work.  When I moved to Paris, I was contracting for a company in North America.

My relationship with that company was a great one.  We took particular advantage of the time zone difference with my being in Paris.  At the end of the day, the company and/or their clients would discuss what they needed done and would inform me in an email.  The next day, I'd complete most of the work long before they were awake and... as they say in France, Voila!

They could review my work the rest of their business day and prepare me a new list for the following morning.  My clients and I would have a couple of hours where we could chat/skype/hangout before I would knock off for the evening and embark on the outrageous adventures I've been blogging about these past years.

Why did it end?

A storm of events plagued my principal contracting company.  They had a failed product launch (engineering project, not software and not mine), a resulting lawsuit, a death (major partner) and myriad other streaks of ill fate.  The company seemed cursed and eventually closed up shop.

I was left without a client.  I was in a country where I was not legally allowed to look for work and as such, had done no prospecting.  All of my contacts were on the other side of the world.

What did I do?

As many of you know, I looked at this work stoppage as an opportunity.  I started to work full time on my opus, my Oi! - Operational Intelligence application.  To support myself, I took some small contract work in Canada, at least what I could find, and resumed work on Oi! during the breaks.

A sample Oi! screenshot

I never did find another company that would enable me to work remotely, however, thus my former Parisian lifestyle has eluded my recapture.  I have been offered various contracting positions, but all requiring my presence at their offices.  Such a position would obviously preclude returning to Paris and might likely all but prevent me from finishing my near finished opus application.

Can the awesomeness be restored?

Yes.  I just need a couple of new clients.

Versailles this summer?

We'll see, my friends.  I won't keep it a secret.  We'll see.

A dashing Chevalier and his Princesses at Versailles, June 2015

Your friend and humble narrator,
Chevalier Robyn

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Random Observations

The Guggenheim in NYC, because Americans
need to see French art too. 
Welcome back my excellent friends!

My blog posts have been few and far between now into my second year in Paris.  I'm sorry about this for those of you who've been loyally following along.  Unfortunately, the demands of a Parisian lifestyle mean lots and lots of work and that's what I've been doing this year.  While I've managed to have a little fun, I can't even imagine what fun I could get into if I didn't have to work so much.  For this last half of the year, I've promised myself to keep the resolutions that I made for the first half of the year... and keep them I will.  

Here's a few of my observations from the past month or so:

I picked up my  carte de sejour a few weeks back.  There was no pomp or ceremony.  I brought about 106 Euros worth of those government stamps you get at the tobacconist and they gave me the card.  No appointment was needed, no questions, barely no speaking at all.  I worried about this, but it's all over.  Thank the gods.  For the second and all subsequent years, the carte de sejour is an actual card that can be used as picture ID.  Unfortunately I will still have to renew it every year, but now that I've done it once, I think it will not be so stressful doing it again.

My new carte de sejour!  Whooowoo!  I look so serious in the pic!

With a year into my stay, my French is still wanting.  Of course I have enough French to manage a food and beverage order.  Even some of the tricky mid-order questions that would put me into a panic have now become old had.  How do I like my steak?  Very much, thank you!  There seems to be a ceiling however.  I've made French friends, but I can see that they don't want to practice their English every moment they are with me and it grows wearisome for them... despite the fact that I'm awesome to hang around with.  Now that work has lightened up just a bit, I'll be taking more time with it.  So, it's back to the books for me.

I haven't mentioned vampires in months.  Partly because there was this huge vampire convention in Prague and the horrible bloodsuckers (along with all the freaky ass vampire hunters) have been there the past few months.  What became obvious to me since my return is that they spend a lot of time in the metro.  It occurred to me only recently that the metro is the perfect way to avoid the sun during the day.  Every now and then one of the stupider ones will get fried on the #1 line when it hits the Bastille station.

Fencing has done wonders for my level of physical fitness and while we are on hiatus for the summer, I have grown fat again.  Nothing serious but a couple of kilos have crept back.  I've noticed this in other fencers too.  I think that we tend to eat (and drink) like athletes whether we are fencing or not.  It looks like I'll get a few private lessons in before the fall, but the serious training won't begin again 'til September.

Oh yeah, France did poorly at the Olympics in fencing for the first time in a long time.  There is renewed interest in the sport thanks to the Olympics and I'll have dozens of noobs to kill in the new year.  I also plan to renew my pledge to go to Italy and kill Italians at their clubs in Rome (and possibly a few other cities).  I will kill them in the name of France!

Renault and the other car companies with showrooms on Champs Elysee will often feature their concept cars.  I honestly don't know why a company spends money to get people salivating over a car that they can never own.  While I already have a cool car that I don't even want to ship to Paris, I'd really would could imagine owning these cool cars... and keeping them at my imaginary castle just outside of Paris.

Renault's electric Dezir at the Renault Atelier on Champs Elysee. 

Peugeot's lighting fast (looking) hybrid, which didn't look like it would
move an inch off of it's podium.  It's more of a sculpture than a car.

I did make an obligatory trip back to Canada to shore up some of my contracts with clients and on the way back I managed a few days in New York.  Having some of the best friends in the world, my stay in NYC was fantastic... but... there is something about Paris that has me addicted.  I'd sooner go for days without the Internet than without Paris.  I had a sense of dread the moment I boarded the plane and I even considered fighting with security to get kicked off the flight before I boarded.  Nothing bad happened, but seriously.  I hate leaving Paris.  I hate it!  

One of those kind of things you just see laying about in NYC.

While I hope to do a whole blog post about this.  I before leaving for NYC, I attended a flash mob group called the White Dinner.  11,000 of my closest friends joined me at the Place des Vosges for a nice dinner.  Everyone brought tables, chairs, wine, champagne, candles, etc.  All were dressed in white and all the tables, tablecloths and dishes were white too.  I even brought Ruinart Blanc des Blancs (white of whites) champagne to keep with the theme.  Here's a video I made that gives a good idea of the scope of the event.

That's all for this time, my friends.  May the heavens raid odours upon you in the mean time.

Your best friend in the world,
Sir Robyn

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