Sunday, July 31, 2016


An era comes to a close with the end of the month. It's weird to experience a life event with the full awareness that, in the mythology of my life, it is significant. It feels like graduation. It feels like being a character in a novel. It puts me a bit on edge (what if a climactic supermonster is about to invade the city?) with a countercurrent of calm (ah, at last my life momentarily makes narrative sense).
I am anticipatorily sad, for in the future I will miss the view and the light and the fresh bread and the sphere-induced jump-start on the day (relative to North Americans) and many, many other things.

The neighborhood has been lovely.
The bakery is magnificent. I had a farewell croissant this morning.

But this is not a sunset on the most interesting, exciting period of my life so far. Because my life becomes ever more interesting and exciting as I progress!

This is, however, a sunset on the Seine, under the Pont des Arts, with the Louvre across the river and a glorious cloudbank illuminating everything like a Renaissance painting.

This post's theme word is attorn, "to turn over rent, goods, etc. to another," or "to agree to be a tenant of a new landlord of the same property." I do not attorn, I simply move.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Arts et Métiers

I'll probably never stop singing the praises of this museum, it is delightful and its subway stop is decorated to match.
Oh, the riveted faux-brass panels were not enough of a clue?
The entire thing gives the steampunkiest impression, and it is heightened by the fact that all the M11 trains that pass through the station carry the smell of burning sawdust. Mental associations to workshops, handmade items to solve technical problems.
Apparently I always take a photo from this exact location.

To go with the everything-is-gears theme today, I bring you this: a thrilling printing press, I believe in several colors, on display in the museum.
If ever I possess property, space, and money to spare (any eligible landed bachelors out there?), this will get a high priority. Although of course it comes after my Jacquard loom, which I'll be building from first principles (until it becomes ridiculous, then I'll look up historical examples).

This post's theme word is agglutinate, "(verb tr., intr.) to form words by combining words or word elements; to join or become joined as if by glue; to clump or cause to clump, as red blood cells" or "(adj.) joined or tending to join; relating to a language that makes complex words by joining words or word elements extensively. For example as in Turkish." What agglutinated monstrosities, what delightful conglomerations of gears and mechanisms you have!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Gendered bathrooms

Paris is notoriously dense. Building footprints and space in the (x,y) plane are coveted and extremely valuable. (Bear with me.) So it is curious and inventive that the city of Paris manages to squeeze a lot of public-accessible spaces in around the private, closed buildings --- a masterful but slow game of tetris to improve the quality of life of all the inhabitants. I had heard that there are many public swimming pools, but the only one I've seen is the Piscine Joséphine Baker, visible because it is floating, exposed, on a barge in the river.

The weather is hot and that swimming pool is currently closed, so I sought out a different one --- Piscine Georges Drigny, which I must have passed every day for several years without noticing. Density. Tetris. It's squeezed in underneath a high school, and the space-saving is extreme: an entry desk, a locker room, showers on the side of the pool. That's it.

One locker room. Just one. There is no gendered separation of spaces, there is hardly any division of spaces at all. The entire facility has only three toilets. There's no space wasted, and space-wastage is not possible.

As with all things, I observed how the locals were behaving and just went along with it. No one was nude in the locker room (there is a handful of private changing stalls in niches in the wall), and post-swim I saw a fair number of people reaching inside their bathing suits to wash what was covered from sight --- everyone washes with soap and shampoo, bathing-suited, out in the public area. The entire thing is a public area.

And it is not a big deal.

No one was creepy in the communal locker room. It was not weird. Everyone just wanted to swim and then go to work, so the entire process was businesslike and smooth. Huge illustrated signs everywhere reminded patrons of the rules (cleanliness, no running, etc.) and the lifeguards were reading newspapers.

This was completely practical and a simple way to ease the space requirements for a public pool. I'm in favor of this being implemented everywhere. I'm also in favor of French manners, politeness, and public rules-conformity being broadly implemented, as this attitude makes for a much more relaxing public experience than the brash, self-interested American style, IMHO.

I'm enjoying the calm rationality while I can, here in a member state of the EU, where civilization, and its concomitant steady supply of fresh bread year-round, still persist.

This post's theme word is parastatal (noun or adjective), "a company or agency owned wholly or partly by the government" or "relating to such an organization." The parastatal pool was packed, but the process ran placidly.