Listening to Minor Majority (2006-10-18)

Readers of this blog may know my love of the Garden State soundtrack, especially Iron & Wine, and my desire to play folk rock guitar music like Norwegian band Kings of Convenience. Knowing this it would be no surprise that when I heard Norwegian band Minor Majority's "Wish You'd Hold That Smile" on Reasons to Hang Around I was immediately interested. I walked from the back of my morning workplace to have a conversation in rudimentary French. "Did the Internet disconnect? What do you want?" they asked me. "I want that music," I replied.
Hey, I wish you’d hold that smile
Help, if only for a while
I need to know about all the things you did and didn’t do
And just how hard you tried


At Château d'Amboise (2006-10-23)

William at Château d'AmboiseOur last stop of the day, before riding the TGV back to Paris, was Château d'Amboise. The Flickr photostream contains a photograph of the castle itself.

At Le Close Lucé (2006-10-23)

Le Close Lucé, a Leonardo da Vinci museum (and his onetime house), was inspiring because of the models of Leonardo da Vinci ideas and inventions. I was impressed that, as Wikipedia says, "He conceived of ideas vastly ahead of his own time, notably conceptually inventing the helicopter, a tank, the use of concentrated solar power, the calculator, a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics, the double hull, and many others. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were feasible during his lifetime; modern scientific approaches to metallurgy and engineering were only in their infancy during the Renaissance."

At Château de Chenonceau (2006-10-23)

William and Ryan at Château de ChenonceauAfter lunch in Tours, the tour group expanded and we rode to Château de Chenonceau.

At Château de Villandry (2006-10-23)

Château de VillandryOur second stop was the gardens and castle of Villandry.

At Château Azay-le-Rideau (2006-10-23)

Château Azay-le-RideauOur tour guide David first drove us and a British couple to Château Azay-le-Rideau.

Touring around Tours, France (2006-10-23)

Our fourth of six rail days took us from Nantes to Tours to Paris. We wanted to take an excursion that would permit us to see the Château de Chambord, but the tour was full by the time the tourist office opened. Instead, Alienor Excursions took us to Azay-le-Rideau, Château de Villandry, Château de Chenonceau, Le Close Lucé (a Leonardo da Vinci museum), and Château d'Amboise.


Taking Pictures of Cathedrale Saint-Pierre, Nantes, France (2006-10-22)

Catedrale Saint-PierreThat's Ryan in the doorway within the doorway of La Cathedrale.

Riding Bateaux Nantais on L'Erdre (2006-10-21)

Château de la Gascherie from Bateaux Nantais on L'ErdreWe rode one of the Bateaux Nantais up the river Erdre to see many châteaux, including Château de la Gascherie shown above.

Examining Eglise St-Nicolas, Nantes, France (2006-10-20)

Eglise St-NicolasWe used the third of our six rail days to travel to Nantes for the weekend. Over the weekend we would visit, among others, the following sights: Eglise St-Nicolas on Place Royale (see above), Passage Pommeraye, Musée des Beaux Arts (buying a book on Georges de La Tour; I had previously bought a print of his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Musée de l'imprimerie, and La Cigale. The latter, according to Découvrir Nantes: Guide touristique, is "One of the most beautiful 'French brasseries' in the world with its most extraordinary 1900s décor (classified as a historical site)."

Using Skype

For business conferences we used Skype when we needed to confer even before I left for Paris for two months. It's easy to download and sign up. In September, though, I bought Skype credit so I could "SkypeOut" to any telephone number, not just Skype contacts or US land lines. In Paris it's useful when I want to communicate with friends, online buddies, and work. It permits text chat, voice conversation (Skype to Skype), SMS text messages, and telephone calls (Skype to phone). The latter is cheaper than the $0.99 per minute international roaming that T-Mobile has in France. At a current rate of € 0.02 per minute to the USA I suspect it's even cheaper than a French phone.

Viewing Venus de Milo (2006-10-18)

Because of an extra ticket for me, we toured Musée du Louvre for free again, this time with Ryan's class. After famous French painters we viewed the Venus de Milo.

Referring to Wikipedia

After I noticed that I had started referring to Wikipedia like I used to refer to the Internet Movie Database, I added a link to the blog template sidebar. Subsequently Jim Benson posted about Wikipedia in J. LeRoy's Evolving Web. He wrote that Wikipedia generally provides an overview, a Topic 101, the kind of high-level information that Google used to provide. Recently it provided me with a couple interesting location- and transportation-related posts.

I refer to Wikipedia not only because it's interesting but because it's convenient. Books take longer to obtain. Six months ago in a chat a friend who writes that he "would like to see footnotes on the nightly news and newspaper" expressed incredulity at my quoting Wikipedia, noting that it is not a primary source. While this is true, for him it means that it is not a reputable source. To me Wikipedia, with its intent to be a collaborative encyclopedia, is as reliable as "common knowledge," the sort of information someone might tell you in a discussion. Such information need not be perfectly accurate to be useful.


Riding the Paris Métro (2006-09-27/12-04)

In early October we each obtained a Carte orange: Ryan received one from his program and I bought one at the Pigalle station. We ride the Paris Métro nearly every day we're in the city, often line 12. I once remarked to Ryan that some destination was "only 10 minutes away by Métro," and he replied, "Everywhere is only 10 minutes away by Métro!" While that isn't entirely accurate, the subway is fast, and feels safe. Despite my objections to surveillance, I appreciate that there are cameras on every platform, and people everywhere I go. There's little chance of getting lost, either, as inside every station there are maps of the Paris Métro, RER, and bus lines (which RATP also manages). Outside the station are plans de quartier that show the surrounding streets and landmarks. Even without the vous êtes ici circles, it's easy to determine where you are since the streets are well-labeled (in blue signs on buildings at the intersections) and generally short (so there's little doubt which part of the street is near). Who needs a car in this city?

Residents of Berlin or London may wonder why I'd blog about the transit in Paris. If they were to visit Seattle, however, they'd have none of these advantages: there's no subway, buses are slower and require multiple transfers, no maps are posted, etc.