Travel tips: Phrases you need to know when traveling to France

It’s summertime, and many of you are planning a wonderful vacation. Some are planning exciting activities not far from home, while others are escaping to a foreign country. When you travel to places where you’re not familiar with the language, it may be challenging to get around. Sarah and Veronique, two dedicated QA team members, have joined forces to help answer: What sentences or words do you need to know when traveling to France?

Bon voyage!!

Do you have more French travel questions? Check out our relevant Q&A categories:

NookieRookie: Poetry under Pressure

NookieRookie is one of our versatile floating supervisors and a bronze contributor to boot. He describes himself as being born in the mid-60’s, acting like he’s 16, looking like he was born in the early 70’s, and feeling like he was born in the early 1900’s!

When he was a senior in high school, he forgot to do his poetry homework one day and had five minutes before class to come up with something. This is what he came up with (not bad for a rush job, I’d say!). Ironically, he notes this was the only poem he ever got an “A” on.

Share your knowledge about everything from sonnets to free verse poetry (such as the one below) in our newly-expanded poetry Q&A section!

“I am what I am”, by NookieRookie

I am what I am, if I weren’t that’s not what I’d be.
If I was what I wasn’t, it wouldn’t really be me.

If you are what you aren’t, then it really isn’t you.
So just be yourself, that’s the best you can do.

People go through life, being what they’re not.
Realizing too late, they really missed a lot.

They were what they weren’t, so their friends never knew,
what was really inside of a person like you.

Can’t See D4est for the Trees?

CleopatraPut those spectacles back on, ’cause she’s right here! We’re talking about one of WikiAnswers’ finest – D4est. Also known as Deb, D4est loves the call of the wild and freedom to roam that being a Floating Supervisor provides – although she does admit to having lots of fun (while learning something along the way) answering questions about the Swine Flu. With all the rapidly changing information, it has been a fun, rewarding challenge for this nurse extraordinaire who had this to say about the experience: “To be able to give education on prevention and be sure that questions are answered correctly without nonsense or panic on such a serious issue has been wonderful.”

Dying to know more about this modern-day Cleopatra? Keep those spectacles firmly attached to your nose ledge and read on!

What other positions do you hold on

I’m currently in the Silver Contributor level but will reach 50K soon… I’m looking forward to that. I’m not officially on Vandal Patrol but I bust as many as I find *big smile*. I’m an unofficial cheerleader for the Mentoring Program, too. I think that it is great that we have such a large and good group of Mentors for new Supervisors to work with and learn from. I just got a coveted “Bug Catcher” badge; I’ve wanted one of those ever since the new design came out. I think it is the butterflies that got me. You may have seen my Oscar-like “Acceptance Speech” on the Supervisor’s Forum when I got it, it was all big fun, but there was an element of truth underlying it, since it really is special to me. I unofficially help Star Wanderer with the Endangered Species category but otherwise, I’ve kept pretty footloose and fancy free, and, well… unofficial.

What is your age?

Lordy lordy lordy – it is scary but I just turned older than dirt in May. I am fast approaching the Sexagenarian milestone… or maybe I should say millstone… but it does have a nice ring to it (blush).

Are you the parent of any four-legged, winged, furry or otherwise non-human children?

Missy and Tony, my Airedales. Missy is a certified Therapy Assistance Dog. Tony is a snuggler who loves people and makes a fantastic visiting companion dog. Both are smart as can be and comedians like all Airedale Terrierists.

Where do you live?

We live in the US in the Houston, Texas area… where I don’t love the summer weather when the heat and humidity are so extreme, but most of the year is actually very good weather here. We live on two wooded acres. I have had it certified as a wildlife habitat. I currently have lots of deer in and out, but also two families of deer resident in the yard (literally) – one with twin fawns and another with a single fawn all around the same speckled age. They are so fun to watch run and buck and play together. We have all types of other wildlife and birds, hummingbirds and butterflies galore. There is always what I call a “Disney Scene” out the windows with fawns lying in the grass, birds singing, baby bunnies munching nearby in the shade and a squirrel or two.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the US Midwest, where my love of animals and wildlife began on our 250-acre horse breeding farm.

What are some of your past and present occupation(s)?

I’m an RN, have been since the “glass age,” when IV bottles were glass, not plastic bags, syringes were glass, medicines were in glass ampules, etc. Today, of course, all those are plastic disposables. I now work at home part-time reviewing medical records for quality and appropriate billing. And I care for my 91-year-old mom who is confined to bed and requires all my knowledge of nursing care to allow me to keep her at home instead of a facility. It is a blessing for us both. My bio page has a lot of detail on my past occupations, so I’ll not go into that… too many years to cover.

Do you have any special interests or hobbies?

The list is long. I groom my Airedales and am a fan of the breed, paint watercolors, etc.  When time allows, I volunteer at the therapeutic riding stable nearby, grow hot chiles and am a fire-eating chilehead.  I also love to listen to music of any type, but especially jazz and blues and new age.

What do you like to do for recreation?

Not a lot of time for it, but it usually involves my dogs, animals and the woods. I love to play Texas Hold’em poker and other things that currently take a back seat to WikiAnswers.

Do you own any collections?

Antiques, coffee tins, grinders and other antique and collectible coffee related items.  We had a fresh roasted coffee shop back in the ’70s – too many decades ahead of our time for the Starbuck’s money. *snap*

Do you have any special talents?

I can juggle *smile*, gourmet cooking, flower designs, art, textiles and soft sculpture.

What are some accomplishments that you are proud of?

Designed our home and had it custom constructed. Pretty good poker player.

What brought you to

I forget now, but I believe I was looking up something and saw tempting questions to answer and got hooked.

What keeps you coming back to

Addiction at first. Now it is mostly the people, but the addiction is still a big part.

What is your favorite activity?

Right now it is keeping up with the Swine Flu questions and updates. But one of my favorite things to do is work on alts… splitting and merging and moving.

How would you describe yourself or your personality?

I don’t take myself too seriously and love to laugh. I appreciate friends. I can’t help nurturing. I’m an activist on health care reform, nature, environmental issues and climate, green energy jobs and reduction of our use of fossil fuels. I’m Cleopatra, Queen of Denial, when it comes to thinking about my age. I have equally good friends from age 14 to 94. Age is just a number.

Samke23: A Debater, Not a Fighter

Samke23 is a WikiAnswers volunteer supervisor and Gold Contributor. This wordsmith loves debating and has been known to prefer debate meets over a night out with her friends.

She is a first-generation college student who plans to become an English teacher. When she’s not studying or solving crossword puzzles, she’s writing some scintillating poems such as the one below. She also supervises the WikiAnswers category of one of her favorite poets, Emily Dickinson.

Scintillation, by Samke23

I’m a writer

not a fighter

sudden danger raging fire

strike of lightning

name of Desire

not telling truth

not a liar.

I’m a writer

not a lover

breaking hearts

waking tired

bolt of thunder

name of Desire

not being faithful

not a cheater.

I’m a writer

not a poet

not an author

no prose glowing from the altar

name of Desire?


bringing my imagination higher.

Squashing Bugs with Shdus1

warning-readonly-sign-imageBecause we’re online, is not infiltrated with creepy, crawly many-legged winged, non-winged, horrific, disgusting (okay, I’ll stop now) insects slithering across floors and stalking from the ledges of ceiling fans, waiting sinisterly to attack the unexpected happy wiki-er. Phew… adjectives. But like any constantly growing, super terrific Web site, we do have the occasional less grotesque bug or two. And if had an official Chief Bug Catcher, the title would no doubt be bestowed upon this week’s Featured NSA Contributor: Shdus1. A champion for all things error-free, Shdus1 has proven that even the most sinister glitch is no match for him. Here’s more:

How did you originally hear about

My father grew up with Jeff Schneiderman. They went to elementary school together. They also went to college together at U of I in Champaign. He came to back to Chicago to visit a few months ago (not long before I joined), and I saw him with his Answers/WikiAnswers hat. My father told me a little about what he did, and I decided to sign up for

Explain your user name.

In Hebrew/Yiddish, shtus means ‘nothing.’ I put a bit of a spin on it. I sometimes use it for other user names, too. Since there are so many takes on various user names, I wanted something easy to remember that wasn’t just a bunch of letters and numbers. I think that word just came to mind. I added the “1” to the end of my user name since some Web sites require six characters in a user name.

What motivates you to volunteer your time to the community?

WikiAnswers is addicting. That is it. It is fun to answer questions, recat and be involved in the forum. And best of all, I am helping out the WikiAnswers community, which in turn helps millions of people around the world.

What are your areas of expertise?

I am Jewish, so I have experience in areas which are Judaism related. I am also good at math, but have yet to take anything more advanced than Geometry (I hope to learn Algebra 2 next year). My father even taught me some basic calculus when I was young!

What is your favorite feature?

My favorite feature on WikiAnswers would have to be the forums. I love finding bugs and being able to report them here. My other favorite feature on WikiAnswers would have to be that new questions and answers are posted on the front page. That is a really fast way to do categorization and catching bad questions and answers.

What has been the funniest question you’ve seen or your funniest experience on WikiAnswers?

The funniest question that I have found would have to be “Where can you find a recipe for making matzah with matzah meal or matzah cake meal?” The answer may not be funny, but I found the question hilarious.

Share a random fact (or two) about yourself.

My favorite subject in school is Gemara.

Litotes: Figure of Speech, Supervisor, Poet

How do you pronounce “litotes,” anyway? That’s a question Tom McDaniel, who happens to sport that selfsame username, is more than happy to weigh in on. His pronunciation preference for the figure of speech is “LIH-duh-teez.”

Tom obtained his English degree in 1995 and enjoys putting it to good use, most recently collaborating on a tutorial that will soon grace the Help Center on WikiAnswers!

Litotes also has a knack for writing some amazing poetry when he’s not supervising on WikiAnswers. He was kind enough to share one of his free verse poems with us today for our Poetry Corner feature.

A Visit with Blondie, As the Sun Sets, by Tom McDaniel

I wonder, Blondie, how many miles you have run
in your twenty-seven years as a horse. For that
matter, I wonder how many years I have wasted
in my too-short time here as a man. Distance

is something that snags somebody. You’d know that,
Temptress, Non-compliant Mare. You were bad
with men, and hard to get along with: even with the she
who rode you and showed you, at least, how to conform.

Why? Why ask why? We all come to this end.
Now, the way things are, you being a horse,
I walk up to you in a little mist of rain-showers.
You lift your head, I rub your forehead: that’s all.

Down goes your mouth, Queen of the arthritic
pains in your fumbling legs, mainly the knees.
Diligently, after I rub your forehead,
you drop your mighty horse head down

once again, to nibble up ropes of grass
and snap them free from the earth
with an energetic side-snip. Why were you born,
Blondie? Why were you here?

We don’t know. She, who has loved you, will cry.
It’s a matter of pain, and circumstance.
She’s putting you down, Blondie. I have loved you,
too, and I’ll join you, soon enough.

I drive away, having said good-bye. You
continue to nibble grass, oblivious to the
rainbow: vast, wide, acquiescent with nature’s
curves – still there, in the sky, though the sun is not.

Viruses: The War on Mini-Terrorists

toiletI was on my way home from work when it hit: sharp pain in my stomach, nausea, hot and cold chills. Suddenly, everyone looked like walking toilets and oversized bottles of Pepto Bismol. It was official. I had a bad case of the stomach virus.

As I sat in bed eating Saltine crackers and apple sauce, I became angry at the little organisms infecting my gut. This “bug” was going around harming innocent people, and now I was the latest victim. Who do these viruses think they are?

I instantly became determined to fight them off! As every commander knows (hey, Half-life counts as some sort of military experience), in order to effectively succeed in direct combat, one must understand the enemy. So, I asked WA, “What the heck is a virus?”

Answer: Viruses are non-cellular infectious entities whose genomes are a single nucleic acid, either DNA or RNA, which uses a cell’s biosynthetic machinery to direct the synthesis of specialized particles called virions.

Virions contain the viral genomes that are efficiently transferred into other cells. Many scientists argue about whether a virus is living or not; that’s why there is no virus kingdom. There are several different theories as to how they evolved – they could have been bits of cells, or random self-reproducing molecules, or particular cells that lost all of their useful parts except for DNA/RNA.

Hmm, so basically a virus is a semi-living, sort-of-organism with a strategic plan of “spread and conquer.” Behold, I lay before you the virus’s 5-step plan of premeditated destruction in layman’s terms:

  1. Infiltrate foreign territory.
  2. Seek out a healthy and happy host.
  3. Penetrate the cell, suck out the nutrition, energy and life-force of the host in order to multiply.
  4. Rip open the cell and infect surrounding cells.
  5. If mission proves successful, attack and destroy new cells by repeating steps 1-4.

virus replication cycleThere is one very big problem here: if the virus actually succeeds in taking over every cell in the body, it will inevitably kill its host – the very same host that is allowing it to thrive in the first place! In essence, a virus’s ultimate goal is destruction: destroy good and let evil reign. This is starting to sound familiar…

My friends, viruses are the micro-terrorists of the cellular free world! They are biological extremists; just as human extremists try to force their beliefs on others, viruses try to change the genetic coding of a host cell to mimic their own DNA. The threatened cell can either give in and become identical to its viral attacker, or it can stand up to the virus with the aid of its patriotic leukocytes. If the cell does decide that life is worth living, there are two potential tactics to defeat the threat.

  1. Stop the virus in its tracks: Viruses can’t actually multiply until they are inside an animal’s body, so if you stop a virus from  entering the body via good hygiene, supporting your immune system and promoting overall health,  you won’t have to deal with the buggers to begin with. In the real world, this means taking the offensive: no negotiations with terrorists, no foreign treaties with nations that promote terrorists, and supporting a beefed up army.
  2. soldiersPenetrate from within: Take an antiviral vaccine so your body can identify the virus. This means you are willingly exposing yourself to the enemy. You might feel some symptoms of illness, but your lymphocytes are hard at work making B-cell soldiers. In global terms, this means creating good PR in an unwilling environment: talking to the religious extremists, meeting the leaders of countries that harbor  terrorists, and becoming closer in the hopes of quickly crushing the enemy when they make a viral move.

So which approach works best, singing Kumbaya to the Taliban or telling them to “talk to the hand”?

I tried both methods in an attempt to kill my stomach virus. I think it was more insulted by my singing then by my disdain. Based on my experience, if we cure terrorism the same way we cure viral infections, all we have to do is feed terrorists some Saltines.