Perceiving Paris in Trois Jours: Day 1

Paris. Romance, art and copious amounts of wine. What is not to love!

Despite Paris being a mere nip across the Channel for me, it has been somewhere that I have longed to go for many years but never actually went. But this is the year and a happy coincidence gave me the perfect excuse to get my act together and go.

I was short for time so it was somewhat of a whirlwind culture dash- unfortunately, this did mean playing the much despised tourist (everyone abhors tourists; I think it is the painfully slow ambling and abrupt stopping. Along with being culturally befuddled and looking the wrong way when crossing roads). I will admit, here and now, I am the worst type of tourist- the one with a map and a huge camera.

Day one: An early start meant bleary eyes whilst attempting to navigate the gargantuan Charles de Gaulle, but made it to Paris by 10.30. After a potter through Jardin du Luxembourg and chucking my bags down at the apartment, the first stop was the Louvre.

I had planned to make my way to the Louvre via Pont des Arts allowing time to take arty shots of the Seine and the iconic/ infamous love locks. Alas, upon arrival, the bridge had been shut off to the public and TV crews were hustling around with their booms as the locks were being removed from the bridge and tossed into the back of a skip… not quite the picture of everlasting love that the romantic protagonists pictured.

The lovelocks were said to be weighing in at around 50 tonnes! It looks like the trend is spreading to various bridges in Paris though, and any available railing even!

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Pont des Arts

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the short detour, I finally made it to the Louvre! And greeted by the dismaying sight of an incredibly long queue; not what I expected to see at on ‘off peak’ time. I spent the time queuing valuably by cursing that I had not been forward thinking enough to get a fast pass and taking abstract photos. I was thrilled to find that as an under 26 resident of the EU, I am able to access the majority of museums in Paris for free. Yes, absolutely free.

The Louvre is, if you didn’t know, insanely huge! I did begin to wonder if I would ever make it out. The maps were rather confusing- but this could have been because my map was in German. My exhibit hit list was minimal: Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. Everything else was just a bonus. Clearly, the Louvre is filled to the brim with fascinating and evocative works of fine art and historical significance. For me, the sculptures were definitely the most appealing.

Winged VictoryThe Louvre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After soaking up the gloriousness that is the Louvre, I moved to modern times with the Pompidou. Known for its inside out exterior and probably the most prolific museum of modern art in Paris. I am a fan of contemporary art, again leaning towards more sculpture based works and abstract expressionism akin to Pollock and the likes. I tend to be drawn to bright, colourful oeuvres, often thought the medium of oil paint. On a slight aside, I loved some art by Patrick Rousseau that I discovered at a gallery on Île Saint Louis later in the week.

Outside in at the Pompidou                                At the Pompidou

 

Day one was ended with a lovely Italian meal and beaucoup de vin rouge! Regrettably, I was very timid in communicating en français; I wish I had been a little more courageous since I know the basics but got rather tongue tied any time the opportunity arose! Whilst prepping for this trip, I rediscovered a language learning site, Conversation Exchange, which is exactly as it sounds! It seems to be a buzzing little site and other community members seem quick to respond and eager to learn and help out. I left it a bit late for my trip but it is definitely something I plan to look into in the future!

 

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Khan Academy Youtube Tutorials

Continuing revision, I have been trying to find different ways to keep it interesting and really embed the information into my memory. When my motivation and interest began to wain, I found myself watching YouTube tutorials for various Chemistry concepts. I have found the Khan Academy to be fantastic; I have been watching some tutorials on some relatively basic concepts which although I have previously worked with, have found the theory somewhat non-comprehensible. Watching these videos really broke down the information into very understandable chucks which allowed me to make total sense of what it is I am doing!

An absolute necessity for getting the basics nailed! Highly recommend giving them a watch!

Compare and contrast Alkali metals with Asiatic elephants

It is that time of year again; revision, revision, revision. That time of year when every student’s house is pristine and they actually answer the phone to chat to their parents. To try to spice up my revision and hopefully jump-start my memory- I have composed some nonsensical essays as a method to revise; I state this here so y’all don’t think I have simply lost the plot!

Compare and contrast Alkali metals with Asiatic elephants

The initial feature often noted by observers of Asiatic elephants is their overwhelming size. Large bulls reach 3.2 m in height. In contrast to this, alkali metals are comparably small; the atomic radius of francium (Fr) is a mere 348 pm (Van der Waals). Lithium (Li), one of the smallest elements, is a minuscule 152 pm in atomic radius. So, an average Asiatic elephant is the equivalent of 21,052,631,579 Li atoms!

Alkali metals have a selection of 6 differing species (Li, Na, K, Rb, Cs, Fr) plus 1 (at time of writing) hypothetical heavier alkali metal; ununennium – element 119. to date, attempts to synthesise ununennium have been unsuccessful. Similarly to alkali metals, Asiatic elephants also have differing sub-species; Elephas maximus maximus, Elephas maximus indicus and Elephas maximus sumatranus.

Alkali metals are highly reactive due to their singular valence electron and thus facile loss of said electron to form M+ ion. This high reactivity makes them volatile with common substances such as H2O, in which alkali metals react violently to form strong bases and H2 (g). The reactivity of the alkali metals increases down the group.

Unlike alkali metals, Asiatic elephants are comparably unreactive. However, at times, asiatic elephants – most notably bulls- are prone to a state of musth. During this period, testosterone levels can peak up to 60 times higher than resting state. This has been linked to ‘elephant rage’.

Alkalis are notoriously difficult to extract and are commonly extracted using electrolytic reduction of molten chlorides. The electrolysis is carried out in an argon atmosphere (Ar being a full octetted noble) due to high reactivity with O2. Alkali metals can be obtained from silicate ores in a multistep process of leaching.

Similarly, Asiatic elephants are hard to extract from their natural habitat due to their endangered status. E. maximus have been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1986 due to the 50% in population in the last 60 – 75 years.

Ostensibly, alkali metals are homologous taking the appearance of white crystalline solids; soft and shiny metals. The shine of their surface is easily tarnished due to fast reactivity with air. Alkalis have a body centred cubic structure so has one lattice point in the centre of the unit cell in addition to the eight corner points. Lattice points per unit cell = 2 (18 × 8 + 1).

Asiatic elephants take the appearance of large mammals with a grey matte exterior. Their surface is easily tarnished due to mud. Their lattice structure is highly complex.

Bonding occurs in alkalis by an ‘electron gas’ which pulls together positive metal ions. They can also bond to elements with higher electronegativity (such as halgens) ionically. Francium is the element with the lowest electronegativity.

Akin to alkali metals, elephants have very low electronegativity but have strong bonding tendencies. Adult females and calves tend to move in large groups; this was historically seen to be a matriarchal dynamic but further studies have revealed female asiatic elephants to form fluid and extensive social groups. Bulls however, majorly remain solitary. The crepuscular activity patterns are thought to be anti-predator adaptions.

Finding Motivation

Sometimes, motivation just slips away from you. Tonight is one of those nights for me. I have much to do. But I am tired and frankly feeling a little down.

So, how should one get back into the swing of things. Well, I am going to relax tonight and go to bed early. Tomorrow I am going to eat well and exercise and ensure I get some studying done. I have lots of errands to run tomorrow so it will be hectic day. I also need to centre myself psychologically by doing the following.

  • Simple meditation – sitting or lying quietly and clearing the mind. Occasionally I may chant to meditate as I grew up with my mother who is a buddhist.
  • Think of 5 things that I am happy about and grateful for in my life at the moment and how I can embrace those things more.
  • Think of 5 steps to improve the things I am not happy about.
  • Accept the feelings I am having and know that they will change to more positive ones very soon.

Being Time in Kenya with Heidegger

Stunning photos

Global Sojourns Photography

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The concept of time is fascinating. From physics to philosophy, the notion of time is difficult to define.

From our normal existence in the world, we often define time as ‘fleeting’ in the sense there is never enough. Frustration builds as the majority of time is spent catching up on work…work that is always running further and further away.

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The more worry about time, the less there is.

This has been the script for me this year.  Just as I am ready to celebrate and enjoy autumn, this great season is fading fast.

Back in September, I noticed the leaves turning color. But instead of picking up my coat and heading out, I dropped my head for a quick analysis of work and business only to look up a couple of months later to find winter staring me in the face.

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Pushing open the window, a gust of cold wind…

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A Weekend in Wales

Snowdonia- the home of magnificent and beauteous scenery; vast lakes below striking mountains mottled with staggering rock faces just waiting to be climbed.

A friend’s birthday was the perfect opportunity to take the 3 hour drive to North Wales and have a bit of knees up in the evening and then climb up a mountain the following day. I had mummy-duties to do before I could make my way over, so I was the last one to arrive and got to the cosy climbers’ cottage at around 7pm. The cottage is a favourite of ours. It is used by many climbers and set in the heart of Snowdonia- not far from Llanberis. There is redolent log fire which fill the cottage up with that evoking aroma we all know and love. Around dinner time, there is a whole assortment of wonderful cooking going on in the communal kitchen – most of whom can cook far better than myself! There were chicken curries, lentil daals, French egg bread, Thai style cous cous, sausages and bacon and also surprisingly addictive buttermint tea!

Upon arriving, I grabbed a bite to eat and got started on the whisky (it was a birthday celebration after all). We had a blast! There was juggling going on, glorious babbling, fine (or not so fine) drinking, a wee bit of guitar playing, pull ups from the girders, Led Zeppelin, boogying in the quaint local pub, new people, sheep walking down the main street, fun and frolics all round.

Flower Sticks

Guitaring?

Guitaring?

Following on from all this excitement, I was very aware that I wanted a productive day tomorrow and needed to put a little effort into hangover prevention- I hadn’t missed my drinks (that’s the worst thing to do), drank 1 pint of water, a mug of buttermint tea, ate 2 slices of buttered toast (my less than compus mentus state made them slightly dry) and one slice of eggy bread- which I did not make and was lovely! I then went straight to bed.

Upon waking at around 9am, I was one of the first up in the group. I felt fine so carried on with hangover prevention and quickly had more water, tea and toast. This seemed to work. I tried to get a little studying done but ended up chatting to people and trying to encourage people to hurry up so that we could get out somewhere.

The first port of call was Pete’s Eats– the legendary cafe in Llanberis. If you are a climber in Snowdonia, it is an unwritten rule that you must eat there at least once during your trip. So, to adhere to this rule- I had a scrummy vegetarian breakfast. IT was blinking good too. I am pretty sure the crust of the toast was fried- but not the whole thing. It was amazing, what ever they did.

http://www.petes-eats.co.uk

Llanberis Lake

Now, I was short of time as I wanted to get home in time to see my beautiful little girl before bed so I only had a few hours to cram some climbing in. I had never climbed on slate before and the area is well known for being abound of slate quarries so this was what I had to do whilst I was there. We were very fortunate with the weather so the rock was dry and there was even a little warmth- which was unusual (but appreciated) for a November afternoon in the Welsh mountains.

We went to a little area known as Serengeti. The walk in was quick and straightforward and there were decent placements for anchors at the top of the climbs we were on. And the walk down was nice and simple too. Perfect. As we were short of time and my trad experience is limited, we rigged up a top rope and didn’t lead anything. I started having a play on an E4 6a which was too hard for me but worth a try. I actually ended up climbing a bit of 2 6as as I went off routes a little. The slate was certainly slippy in comparison to gritstone. But the crimps were fantastic! And I do love crimps! I dogged the route- falling of numerous times and sitting on the rope a few times too- I completed all the moves but I don’t think I would manage it ground up at the moment and I certainly don’t have the courage for it yet either!

Next I whizzed up Seamstress (VS 4c) which was lovely. The holds were huge and I could really have fun just walking up it! I love challenging myself with hard problems and routes, but when it comes to climbing outdoors in beautiful scenery, getting used to the different rock and holds- I am perfectly happy keeping within my grade (most of the time) and just enjoying the experience at the moment! Love it love it love it! Next I went up Seams the Same (E1 5b) which was a little harder but perfectly doable. I was a little naughty though and did not move the anchor across so I would have had a huge swing out had I have fallen off. I evaluated that my chances of falling were minimal, there was nobody else at the crag, the rope was very dynamic and the actors at the top were as bomber as they get so I took the risk. At the top there were some beautiful photo opportunities too!

Chalk bag in the Sun Stone Hut on the Hill

The drive home was long and my wheel trim flew off somewhere along the motorway, but I didn’t get too lost and my welcome home was certainly rambunctious (see How Not to Train a Dog #8) and I was home in time to have dinner and stories with my daughter. A wonderful close to a wonderful weekend in Wales.

Let Yourself Live. Let yourself Grow.

Okay, so the above image is one of the (often annoying) type that we all see flittered about in our News Feeds in social media. They are almost pompous in their apparent omniscience and as if their suggestions are a revelation and if only you would adhere to such a new way of thinking that your life will sorted.

It may not be quite so simple. And I am quite sure that most of us know advice like the above, if we have a think about it, if we focused on what we know to be truly important. However, it is all to easy to get swept up in day to day life. I am as guilty as others. I think to myself, I want the most from life. I don’t have enough time to do everything as it is- yet I waste hours and HOURS doing absolutely nothing. Sometimes I just don’t know how to make the most of every moment. So, I want you, Dear Readers, to think- what have you done today that made you satisfied? What made you feel peace with yourself? What did you do today that you will remember in years to come? Right now is your life- are you living it?