Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Tower

Well, we're back home...but our luggage isn't. We saw it in Chicago, and they're supposed to deliver it...well, a couple of hours ago.

The last touristy thing we did in Paris was to go up the Eiffel Tower. Here's what it looks like when you're waiting in line...

Here's a view of our hotel from the tower's second level. Those soccer fields were right in front of our window; the Hilton is the building directly to the left of them. You can see the Seine in the background.

It had gotten dark by the time we got to the top. Here's the Palais de Chaillot at night.

Afterwards, we headed with a colleague to the Latin Quarter to a small restaurant (bistro?) called Le Petit Vatel for a wonderful dinner to close out our Paris experience.

And to close it out completely, our luggage arrived as I was typing that last sentence.

Friday, February 25, 2005


We had the conference dinner for the second conference of the week at a restaurant called Toupary.

It was on the 5th floor of a department store on the bank of the Seine. Here is a view from the restaurant window of a ship going under the famous Pont Neuf bridge.

We enjoyed ourselves at the banquet.

Especially dessert.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Another Picture

There's another picture from the Louvre over at Christina's TravelBlog, for you fans of The DaVinci Code.

Mona Lisa Overdrive

Yesterday, after the first conference I'm here for ended, we went to the Louvre. It's open late on Wednesday, so we were able to get a few hours in. They say you can spend a whole month there, but since I'm generally interested in more modern works (a preference Christina shares to some extent), I think we had enough time.

We started out with some Egyptian antiquities...

Then we made the obligatory pilgrimage to the Mona Lisa...

There she is!

One of their Vermeers was in Frankfurt, but they still had "The Astronomer" around.

We amused ourselves by making up fake captions to some of the pictures. My caption for this Reubens was, "Can I get a little help here?"

My favorite painting may have been Hieronymus Bosch's The Ship of Fools. And not just because I like saying "Hieronymus Bosch." It's a fairly cutting satire of religion...see the nun in the center playing the lute and attempting to take a bite out of some sort of food. (Sorry that the image isn't clearer, but it's hard to take pictures without a flash.)

Despite the best efforts of the museum staff to fail to give us directions, we made our last stop at the Venus de Milo. Perhaps because of the lack of crowds, perhaps because of the size of the piece, perhaps because of the setting, she was more impressive to me than the Mona Lisa.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

More Images of Paris

Yesterday, between the conference and banquet, we snuck over to the Musee D'Orsay. Sadly, it closed at 5:45. This was particularly sad since the sign said they closed at 6. Ah, Paris.

Here's Christina with Whistler's Mother...

Here she is with a Degas painting...

When we woke up this morning, it was snowing. It make look pretty, but it makes getting to the conference a little tricky. (The coffee never arrived at the conference due to snow delays. Luckily, I don't drink coffee.)

Here are a couple of pictures out our window.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Images of Paris

Greetings from Paris. I suppose I (or Christina) will have a travel commentary later, but I need to run to lunch soon. So in the meantime, enjoy these pictures I've taken.

The first one is of Paris from the Pompidou Center. I kind of like the "artistic quality" of this one.

We went to see the modern art museum in the Pompidou Center. Here's Christina walking through one of the pieces.

Here's a piece called "Fibonacci Crocodile".

If you look closely, you see the Fibonacci numbers coming out of the crocodile.

Here's Andy Warhol's "Ten Lizes".

Here's the Eiffel Tower from our window. They have a light show every night that is actually fairly tacky.

And here's Christina on our walk home from dinner last night.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Quantum Rose

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I started Catherine Asaro's "Saga of the Skolian Empire" explicitly to read The Quantum Rose, the sixth book in the series, which won a Nebula. (I'll probably end up reading to the ninth, which I got her to sign.) Here are a few reasons why it may have won the Nebula:

  • The entire novel is an allegory for quantum scattering theory. This is a clever and unexpected device.
  • The series brings back the old "space opera" style of science fiction. (Think "Star Wars.")
  • The technology described in the books is much more carefully balanced with current scientific knowledge than in most "space opera" books.

And here's one reason why maybe it shouldn't have won a Nebula:

"If thwarted passion could have powered space ships, she and Vyrl would have launched an entire fleet by now."

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I Surf The Web For Comics-Mocking Web Sites So You Don't Have To

Once upon a time, I enjoyed a column in the Baltimore City Paper (online) called Funny Paper. It summarized, and made fun of, comic strips, specifically those in the Baltimore Sun. It stopped publishing in 2003, though they squeezed out a few more columns in February 2004. If you've never seen it, the "back issues" are still worth reading -- they're a funny take on the comic strip medium. Its tag line was "We Read the Comics So You Don't Have To."

After the demise of that column, I eventually found my way to Gene Weingarten's on-line chats. While the topics of the chats vary, a major focus is the comics, specifically those of the Washington Post. Every week, Weingarten gives his "Comics Pick of the Week" and names a few runners-up. There is also a fairly involved discussion of the meaning of other comics.

Recently, someone mentioned to him the web site, which analyzes a comic per day in depth. Its tagline was "I read the comics so you don't have to." It focuses on the Baltimore Sun comics. Because of the Baltimore connection and the tagline, there was some confusion, and the Funny Paper authors (who claimed that their column is just on "hiatus") asked Josh to change its title. So now it's "The Comics Curmudgeon".

Anyway, I suggest anyone interested in thinking about comics more than you probably should to check out these web sites. I actually read these more than the actual comics, since I stopped (for the most part) reading the print edition of the newspaper.