Saturday, August 8, 2009

Paris day 8/La Defense Day 3 - Thursday

Today we tried the L line, 9 minutes
from St Lazare to La Defense, with no transfers and no stops. It was
the first time we had been stopped to check our passes. The metro has
turnstiles to check the card for each €2 trip, but the €8 suburban
train trips are more on the honor system. The train cops hung out
talking for 5 minutes before the train left, so it would be pretty
easy to avoid them. Even if you pay your $50 weekly (less if you stay
in city proper), the man is still footing 2/3 of the bill.

We walked into the mall and quickly commented to each other that we
should have brought the camera. 50 Parisians were line dancing to
country music. You can't plan for that.

Again we saw police with AK-47s in the mall. Again with fingers near
the trigger. The normalization of men carrying guns in the mall
worries me a little. Anyone with a uniform could cause a lot of
trouble. Maybe I am just used to unarmed private mall security guards.

We saw GI Joe, summer popcorn fare with some explosions but not much
else. Altogether, it wasn't that bad, but it was flawed. The rigid
dialogue conveyed so little information that English was not really
not better than a French dub. I expected a response from Parisians
during the scene including the destruction of the Eiffel tower, but
they didn't seem to take it differently than anyone else would.

Some problems with the movie (spoiler alert if you can really spoil
the surprises in this movie):
-Ice does not sink, even if you blow it up. Put a match in your ice
tea and this should be easy enough to prove.% If ice did sink, the
polar ice caps would be the polar ice bottoms.

-ICBMs (long range missiles usually known for their nuclear warheads)
do not swerve at will or horizontally follow a river
-Can-do, aggressive speeches demanding 111%, and grit do not win
anything. I've seen several beggars here with the same attitude and
they haven't conquered Paris yet.
-Use of touch screens and holograms does not win either, as if winning
the war is like CNN's 2008 state by state election analysis
-Deep seated rivalries often require more than psychoanalytic
flashbacks to explain
-Battlefield cleavage does not win wars, especially on polar ice caps

On the way home:
It is hot. I am dripping onto to the empty (thank goodness) vinyl seat
next to me and on the floor of the train. We sat in the station for 10
minutes with stale air. Then despite traveling at a decent speeds, the
air is not circulating, maybe because the windows on our side are
bolted shut. This pretty warm day is making for very hot trains. The
lower level may be better, but I don't want to move.

Most people here don't wear shorts, and the guidebooks warns that
doing so will make you stand out as a tourist. Wearing pants would
only increase my misery by one level. I'm just not good at being hot.
Sarah bought me an athletic shirt that cools your body. This was a
great present in itself, but it also reminded me of my similar shirts,
which have been very helpful in the heat earlier
in the trip. Today, I am wearing a Mexican souvenir shirt from her. I
don't need an athletic shirt - I'm just going to the mall. But then
comes the trains.

I am going to jump into the river off the train at Mantes Jolie and swim
in whatever direction it takes to get to Lavacourt. I'll see my
inaccessible town, separated by the Seine DMZ, and I'll cool down,
too. And tomorrow, I'm going to boycott the train and just swim down
the Seine to the Paris beach festival. Then we exited the train, and
the tunnel under the tracks was a little cooler. Then we got to the
bus, already waiting for us, and it was super cold, a Bose-Einstein
condensate^ relative to the Seville cauldron in the train. The world
is good again.

Generally, it's been very mild here, especially in the shade. The
guidebooks said it could be hot and humid, but we thought they were
just using northern standards of heat (like L's textbook from Chicago
that warned that children should stay in during temperatures of 80+
degrees while 20 degrees did bother them).

% It's a fundamental feature of hydrogen bonding chemistry that makes
water and ice what they are.

^ a Bose-Einstein condensate is a form of matter, like solid or
liquid, that occurs near absolute zero (-273° C). Very weird things
happen, like the speed of light slowing down or stopping and atoms
combining without exploding. I just read about this in the paper, so I
had to share.


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