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31 May 2010

Paris - Day 5

Just a building I found on my way to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.

Apparently ravens like peanuts and raisins. I got a chance to see how smart they are. Conclusion: very smart.

All the girls kiss his grave... regardless of the fact that he liked guys.

It was weird to be so far away from Chicago at the grave of someone who's work (Sunday Afternoon on the Island on La Grande Jatte at the AIC) I'm very familiar with and see often. It was like meeting a friend for lunch in a far away city.

Eglise Saint-Eustache - I went to church on a Sunday. In this photo the organ pipes are over my head. When they played it was a completely ethereal experience. They were loud, full of utterly deep bass that went right through you, and it echoed off the vaults and reverberated in your chest. It's better than any speaker system I've ever experienced and I can see why people spent 200 years building places like this.

Update: I checked out the site to see if I could hear it again. It seems like they don't play it so often and if all the info is correct this is what I heard played:

Sunday, May 30 - Francesco Filidei interpreter
  • Charles-Marie WIDOR : Symphonie pour orgue n°2 opus 13:Prélude-Pastorale-Andante-Scherzo-Adagio-Finale Charles-Marie Widor: Organ Symphony No. 2 opus 13: Prelude-Pastoral-Andante-Adagio-Scherzo-Finale

This is Les Halles - "the belly of Paris". There'ye constructing a huge canopy to help revitalize the area. I kind of liked it. The gardens are a tad retro and uncomfortable but the area surrounding is very organic and is nice to walk around.

30 May 2010

Paris - Day 3 & 4

The internet is broken at my hostel so I'm just going to post photos and edit them later.

Ledoux tollhouse near the Catacombes.

This is the archaeology building of the University of Paris near the Luxembourg Gardens.

The Pantheon by Jean Sufflot.

Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève by Henri Labrouste.

The Academy of Design.

The entrance to the Louvre by I.M. Pei.

28 May 2010

Paris - Day 2

Didn't actually take many photos yesterday. It rained all day and I went on a walking tour that turned out to be pretty lame, but it's really nice out today so I'm off.

Still haven't actually made it to the Eiffel Tower.

Arc de Triomphe... it rained all day.

This is one of Ledoux's Toll Houses - part of the Wall of Farmers-General, a wall that surrounded Paris and taxed all goods coming in. There were originally 62, but only a few remain as most of them were destroyed immediately after their construction in the French Revolution. Anyways, they're a nice bit of Neo-Classicism. Finding them is kind of like one of those internal games in Zelda.

27 May 2010

Paris - Day 1

This is the rail station at Charles de Gaulle designed by Paul Andreu. The ribs remind me of the Tokyo International Forum. Interestingly it was proposed in 1992 and built by 1995 - a few years before TIF.

The Pompidou Center by Rogers and Piano. I actually really liked the externalization of the structure and systems more than I thought I would. It leaves the inside of the building completely open for the art.

Side view showing the unique structure. The trusses (those triangulated things on the right) are kept from bending by the addition of (I believe) pivoting cantilevers (those horizontal bars on the left) that are tensioned into the ground.

The only remaining private construction in Paris designed by Ledoux - Hôtel d'Hallwyll.

The Siene.

Near Notre Dame there was an open air plant market in these really cool old greenhouse-stree vendor spaces.

Notre Dame... restored after it was defaced during the French Revolution.

I also went to the Maison européenne de la Photographie which is free Wed. nights after 5PM. I found a really talented photographer named Michael Von Graffenried.

12 May 2010

Readings #2

Want to try out a Leica M9 for a few hours? Go to NYC... damnit.

Hawaii puts the kabash on "birthers" (people who think President Obama is not a natural-born US citizen) because they're burdening the health department with all their requests. Even the right is embarrassed, and this is coming from people who expect you to be bad at math to buy the party line.

Interesting design company in Brooklyn called RockPaperRobot.

Life on earth has one common ancestor. Not to say that life on earth only arose once but rather that life does in fact (by odds of about 100,000 to 1) share a family tree and not a web.

Apparently 3-D TV's are coming out soon. The real lesson here is more that technology is changing at an increasing rate, so much so that at some point consumers are going to face interesting dillemas towards adopting new technology. A common theme in history is the adoption of new technology and how this effects societies, economies, etc., but a common occurance I'm noticing is that change is so quick now that we have a hard time adjusting. Architects barely learn a program before it is obsolete. We purchase technology that is obsolete within months and years (my laptop is 3 years old and it can barely run the newest software I put on it), and we train for jobs that are no longer needed well before we are middle aged. I'm not sure where this all points but it's interesting none the less.

A company called Square has just released an application and (free) hardware (plugs into your headphone jack and is tiny) that will allow you to process credit cards on either an iphone or android based system. The fees are 2.75% + 15 cents or 3.5% + 15 cents if the card isn't present. This should make splitting lunch bills easier. I've always wondered when we will get rid of tangible money and use something similar to this, but probably less cumbersome regardless of the fact that this system is fairly light. Imagine just a fob that you can run across someone elses phone then you type an amount into your phone and they accept. Anyways, I doubt tangible money will die off for a long time, people are clingy and hate change (seriously, read that article - no pun intended). There are multiple lobbies and advocacy groups in Washington that make sure pennies and nickels get minted even though they cost 2 and 9 cents respectively to make. The advocacy groups think that changing the material of pennies will somehow decrease their value. Hey interest group - fiat money system. It's all based on confidence. This isn't even worth writing about, it's just sad that we are so encumbered by bureaucracy and interest groups/lobbyists and inability to make logical non-political decisions that we continue wasting out time with pennies, nickels, dollar bills and tangible money in general (although I don't advocate abandoning it just yet... but steps should be taken to start). Getting rid of the first two and making the other a coin would save us hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Plus, no more stupid pennies.

10 May 2010

What I've Been Reading This Semester (outside of school)

There are a few questions in science that I really hope I get to know during my lifetime, and one of them is the debate as to what exactly happened to neanderthals and if they ever bred with humans. Some think that they never did and just went extinct, others postulate that they bred into the human line and essentially bred themselves out of existence, and others say they may have bred intermittently with humans but also went extinct. Well, new DNA testing suggests that at some point 60,000-100,000 years ago neanderthals bred with humans - much earlier than anticipated; as they entered the Middle-East (read: Fertile Crescent). Most of the article is a debate about the validity of the research, but if it's true the researchers think that about 4% of non-Africans DNA comes from neanderthals.

UPDATE: New article from MIT Tech Review is worth reading and places the dates at 50,000-80,000 years ago, 1-4% of our genetics are from neanderthals, and is much more conclusive that the results are valid.

Via: Chris Blattman

You must watch these videos (plus they're less than a minute apiece), especially if you're in my architecture class. Think you have it rough...

Apparently my next door neighbor, before I moved when I was about 8, won Miss Illinois. Talk about a girl next door story. All I really remember is having super soaker fights where we weren't supposed to shoot back because she was a girl. That and playing ninja turtles with her brothers.