Monday, July 2, 2012

Politics on vacation

Unsurprisingly, I have been avoiding writing about politics much on vacation. I have read about it, rolled my eyes at it, became over joyed by it, but definitely did not write about it. Why? Because I am in Paris. But there are things happening abound that must needs be discussed.


1. Justice Roberts restored some of my faith in the Supreme Court. He shook his fist at judicial activism and instead, a month before the decision was to be rendered, told his good friends Antonin, Clarence, and Anthony that they were going to be ridin' solo on this decision, since he wasn't going to allow petty partisianship to affect the decision that he, the Cheif Justice of the highest judicial body in all the land, would make. While I am a bit disheartened at just how happy I am that a conservative justice put the constitution above politics, I can rest easy knowing that America is on it's way to becoming a more morally correct country.

To those who oppose it: we will all use the health care system at least once in our lives. To ensure that our system can actually remain solvent, we must compel everyone to purchase health insurance, prior to actually being sick. This way, we can reduce the number of emergency-room-and-not-gonna-pay visits, allow for physicians to actually provide preventative health care to all (including the underserved population) while knowing that they're going to get paid, push our system to become more efficient and evidence-based, all the while increasing the health outcomes of our nation. More than that though--more people will be able to save money on their premiums, which will help overall. To those who think we should let people without insurance die on the side of the road: I hope a pigeon craps on your head.


2. Mitt Romney saying people should get as much education as they can afford. I completely agree with the sentiment--you're trying to say that people strive for higher education and spend their money on that. That being said, your idea of what people can "afford" is a bit skewed Mr. MoneyBags. Not everyone collects $200 dollars when they pass go. Most students and their families cannot "afford" to pay for any real higher education, that's why we have these things called grants and loans. As for your suggestion that people join the military and the government will cover the cost of your education--this is definitely not a feasible option for all those students in our country that cannot afford a higher education, nor is it ideal for all.

Also, the concept of, "if you're willing to serve, we can help you" as he puts it baffles me because increasing our rate of higher education IS serving--the more highly educated individual we have, the more economic output they can produce, the happier the general population will be. Either way, this further underscores my concern that Mr. Romney's childhood and subsequent life bathed in wealth has pushed him far out of touch with the "common man." So much so that the small bouts of volunteer work or interactions with the masses cannot mend the gaping hole in his understanding of the life the common folk. A man like this cannot be the President of the 99%.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sight Seeing in Paris + Travel Tips 4&5

The amazing thing about Paris is that you can be walking around and you'll just walk by a random gothic tower, or a pretty church in the middle of the bustling city...the juxtaposition of the new and the old, the conventionally beautiful and the industrial. For example, we were walking to get a falafel today (by the way, who knew Paris had SUCH good falafel? I didn't, but wow...they do. When you come here, you must visit Maoz, a tiny falafel storefront in the 6th arrondissement,get the falafel and the French fries, you will not be disappointed. Anyways, I digress), and I just looked up as we were walking by a courtyard and saw Notre Dame. It's amazing that Parisians can just look up and see stuff like that all the time!

Our view from the top of Sacre Coeur
Me sticking my head out of the fence on the top of the Eiffel!
Us inside notre dame

Flying buttresses of Notre Dame...Tyler really loved these

Anyways, beyond just eating the amazing food--which is truly, truly amazing--Tyler and I also wanted to do a bit of sight seeing in the basin of history that is Paris. We spent our first few days getting to know our area, and kind of wandering around in awe at the people speaking rapid French, eating crossaints, and never seeming to gain a pound (as well as the extrodinarily well-behaved dogs, and the pretty, pretty parks).

By day 4, we got a little we sat down with our travel book and went through each monument, museum, historical sight, or random cool thing that was mentioned in our book and made a list: name, genre, location, rating (1-3) of how much we want to see it, rating of time sensitivity.

For example, the louvre is in Tuileries, we wanted to see it very much (1), but I didn't care when we saw it (3). This was one of the best ideas for we had a document that we could look at and say...hmm, okay, I want to go to the Louvre today, what else is around there? OH! Arc de let's go to the louvre, then this, then this, etc etc. So we minimized the time we spent on the metro, and maximized our overall time enjoying Paris and walking around seeing stuff.

My journal of "crap I want to do in Paris"

Tip 4: Make a list of everything you want to see in Paris

Whether you do this when you get to Paris like we did (since we are spending 3 weeks here, time was not an issue), or you do it at home...just make sure you make a list of the things you want to see in a well-organized manner. Trust me, this will save you time. I'm not the type of person, on vacation, that likes to stick to a super strict schedule, so I didn't make any "At 900 hours we'll do this and at 2100 hours lets rally here" type of plans, just a general list so I could look the night before and say hey, let's do this tomorrow, and here's all the other stuff around it we can do as well.

This kind of leads me into my next tip, so really it's a double-whammy post. Two posts, for the price of one people.

Tip 5: Know What You Like

To Museum Pass, or not to Museum Pass, that is the question. Before you come to Paris, you will here a lot of people talk about this wonderous Museum Pass. Basically, it's a pass that you pay a certain amount of money for, and it allows to visit almost any museum in Paris (and some other things like the Eiffel Tower). The passes can be for 2,4, or 6 days from what I've seen, and have some other perks, like they get you in front of lines at museums (and trust me, some lines at museums can be long). It's a pretty cool pass.

Us at the gates of hell in the Rodin museum
I chose not to get it. When you go on vacation, it's important that you know what you want out of your vacation, given the amount of time you have. For me, I knew that if I got the museum pass I would feel: A) Rushed to squish in all my sight-seeing into a short period of time and B) Compelled to go to museums that I would otherwise have little interest in. I knew I didn't want that--feeling rushed in appreciating artwork (with my novice skills that barely extend beyond "Ohh! Pretty colors, shiny brush strokes!") would only serve to make me tired, and grouchy. Moreover, I knew that if I visited the Louvre, Rodin, and D'orsay in the span of a day or two...the artwork would blend together. So, I didn't buy the pass and I'm quite happy with what I've seen (eiffel, Rodin, Louvre, Sainte Chappelle, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, and soon to come--the catacombs!), and I promise...I haven't had to wait in epically long lines, or pay beauchop d'argon (a lot of money).

Tyler inside the Louvre after bypassing a three hour long line into the main enterance by simply using one of the two enterances. We were inside in a matter of minutes rather the hours.

Us looking furtive after we bypassed the crazy long line, AND got into the useum free since it was the first Sunday of the month when the Louevre is free for all!

Basically though, just know yourself and you'll have more fun on your trip. If you know that you want that whirlwind experience--get the pass! It'll be fun and worth it. But if you know that you want to see a few specific things, or you have more time to spread it over, just take it slowly.