Monday, September 3, 2012

diFRENCHiate yourself

It has been such a long time since I have written. This post is entitled diFRENCHiate yourself. I am going to talk about all the ways that the French have really distinguished themselves as different.

1. Walking: it is wonderful over here about how many people walk everywhere and they take their dogs too. According to A.J. Jacobs having a pet can increase your life expectancy because of the chemicals that your brain releases when you pet animals. So that is great, I am sure the French live longer because they are walking more, petting dogs more, and - this is where they diFRENCHiate themselves - not stressing about leaving their dog poop everywhere! So their dogs just poop on the sidewalk, and they cannot be bothered to pick it up. So when I am on a run, I have to ask myself is that a bit of wood and sticks or is it another present left for me?

2. Escalators: when your society can afford escalators, you know that you are doing pretty well. You probably have at least a decent GDP per capita. France has arrived. They are doing well financially and socially, and they boast some pretty beautiful escalators in their train stations and around other places in town, but how they diFRENCHiate themselves is by only using the escalators to go down. It is so much easier to go downstairs than up the stairs, but nine times out of ten if the escalator is broken or not   working or if there is only one escalator instead of the pair, it is going down. Now why is this, France?  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

introduction to introversion with jacob newbauer, maybe one of the most extroverted people to have walked the face of the earth

so i am going to undertake a multi-week, multi-step plan to become more introverted. introversion has many desirable yields: creativity, innovation, autonomy, independence, revelation, etc.

i first got on this kick by being overly extroverted. feeling the pressure to perform at my going away party, i landed on my shoulder during a botched attempt at doing a back-flip. i then had two weeks to be so bored lying around watching numerous seasons of numerous series on netflix. i picked up tons of knick-knacks around my house desperately seeking some stimulation. i picked up real simple, holy cow that is a great magazine. so many great ideas. i read an article "can you get more creative?" by a.j. jacobs. it was astounding. he suggests many different activities that can work out our creativity muscle: playing like children, breaking societal norms, and brainstorming. as i started researching different projects that i could undertake about being more creative, i began to realize that many innovations and creative break-throughs come through very introverted activities (none of the activities above require other people or external stimulil to function). one of the books that jacobs recommends is called quiet: the power of introverts by susan cain (link to her ted talk below) and that also aligned with some of my goals about coming to france: developing the i part of my personality and to create stuff (art, poems, whatever may come) and reading lots of books. i didn't realize the central link between these goals of coming here. stimulation internally, spending solitary time reading others creative ideas, and then producing my own products.

so much visual stimulation from this title page! AMAZING!

i am working tomorrow, so it should be some great alone time to also develop some prudence. after reading about the virtues that c.s. lewis discusses in mere christianity, i also decided i wanted undertake developing these disciplines. i got an idea about developing disciplines from my boy brad this past year. he was went to duke divinity and told me that monks developed different disciplines by working on one discipline at a time. he constantly told me that this year, but i never really bought it until now (thanks for planting that seed, reverend erickson!). so tomorrow i hope that practising (lewis style) introversion will yield prudence about how to go about mundane tasks of cleaning a yacht.

i went on a trial run today. i sat still for 10 minutes. i didn't drink or eat anything, i didn't pick up random articles around the apartment that were out of place, i didn't look at the stopwatch to see how much time was left, i didn't indulge every itch with a scratch. it was impossible after minute two. i was feeling really anxious and there was a mounting to-do list in my head, but at about what i perceived as hour two (probably more like minute five or six), everything started to level out. so i am going to extend this little practice over the next week. i am going to spend some time in solitude (physically/mentally/emotionally/spiritually) to see what it yields and awake some internal stimuli. here's the plan:

solitude plan:
lundi- 10 min
mardi- 20 min
mercredi- 30 min
jeudi- 45 min
vendredi- 1 hr
samedi- 30 min
dimanche- 2 hr

(if you cannot figure out what these words are, then i regret giving you access to this blog).

check out this awesome ted talk about the power of introverts.

over and out

cashew coconut pesto quinoa - for my protein-deficient vegetarian friends? go light on the pesto because it gets oily real quick! also, put it on some crackers or something.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

So much to catch up on!!!

Between yesterday and the day before I worked twenty hours. I worked on the boat that I worked on last week called the Roma. Click on the name to see it! First of all, we arrived at 8:00 and started cleaning the exhaust filters in the engine room. Talk about dirty work. We were just covered in soot, so when we went up for breakfast at 10:00, the captain told us to get painters' suits and gave us new shirts that say Roma on them to wear when we come up for lunch! We ate in the crew mess, which was quite big. Two tables fitting about 10-12 each and then there is a huge lounge/work area for the crew when they had time off (we didn't have any time off to sit and take advantage of that though). It is crazy how compact everything/everyone is.

Then we spent the rest of the day cleaning the engine room itself from all the soot that got everywhere when we took the filters out.Then we had to climb in the tiniest hatches and get down and dirty cleaning up excess oil.

Does it look like you can climb down in there? Well you can!
After we cleaned the whole room. Just imagine it being gray.
I was not made to work in such small places.
view from the bedroom
On another note, we moved to an apartment in Nice. It was cheaper to live in a huge apartment and pay by the month instead of living in the horrible conditions at the crew house. Here, we have our own space and reliable internet. We can open all the windows and create a nice breeze. We have three others staying with us now. Gwen and Duncan, Irish and English respectively, and Nick. Gwen and Duncan are getting married in March and Nick is from South Africa. We've got quite the summit of English speaking countries represented. We're missing Canada, but does anyone actually miss Canada? Just kidding all my Canadian friends (the two of them).

view from the living room

great windows!
kiwis and apricot
Today, we woke up a bit later and went grocery shopping and to the boulangerie (bakery) and then to the pharmacie (pharmacy). I have never eaten an apricot until I've gotten here. They have always intimidated me in the States. They're always like "I'm dried," or "I'm in a jam." I was just always suspcious and confused, but I tried them here and OH MY LORD! They are so good. I eat 3-5 apricots a day, which is pretty affordable. Only about 60 cents (US) for three apricots. Also, kiwis so good. I've decided that I always want fruit around me. I think whether or not I eat it it is better for me (see "Placebo Effect" further on down). My eye is infected ... again. Seems like I always get eye infections while I travel. My cure for any remedy is just drink more water and get hydrated, but Cameron was told me it seemed a bit more crucial to get some solution of some sort than to let it just fester while I am downing glass after glass of water. But who knows, it could have worked. I am reading this great book by A.J. Jacobs called Drop Dead Healthy. It is about Jacobs' personal quest to be the healthiest man in the world. He spends 25 months trying out all these new health fads and sees which are beneficial and which aren't. One of his biggest conclusion is that the placebo effect is one of the greatest tools to staying healthy. If you believe you are receiving treatment to become healthier, you probably will become healthier. Water is a pretty cheap placebo as well.

So when we don't get work, we go to the beach and tan and jump of cliffs! Here's some pics:

yep! jumped off that 17m (55 ft)
little swimming hole in Cap d'Ail (Garlic Cape?)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

day work and the med

So since last time, I've gotten two days of work, which is really good luck because I only went "dock-walking" for three times when I got the job. I did a washdown of the boat and shammied it dry. Then we had to do all of the brightwork, which is all of the stainless steel all over the boat: polishing it and then wiping all of the polish off. It was pretty intense, but whenever I'd take a few seconds break, I got to look up and see the Alps or the Mediterrenean! INCREDIBLE!

The guests wanted to be picked up in a different port, so we had to take the yacht to a different port, which was awesome to be on the open water. I got some great experience taking a 50 meter yacht in and out of port. I was really nervous because i had no clue what I was doing, but turns out they filled me in as we went and I just had to figure it out. Needless to say, I feel much more confident about doing it again!

Cameron and I have gone dock-walking a lot since then: in Golfe Juane, Monaco, and Antibes. Today we are going to San Remo and Imperia in Italy! So dock-walking doesn't take all day, so what to do with the other time? Go swimming in the Med. We have gone to the beach every day this past week. The sun is not very strong over here ... I guess the ozone isn't as destroyed? Anyways I have gotten DAAARK and I haven't burnt at all! Woot.

Anyways we are off now to go swimming for a bit and then go to Italy. Also I am going to post later the huge pizza that we buy in Italy for 6€. It's over a foot and a half in diameter. Last time we were eating there, a woman came up and asked to take a picture of how humungous the pizza was!

Here's a picture from my training course in Ft. Lauderdale! This was the firefighting day. That suit was HOT!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

settling in antibes

So I am safely settled in my crewhouse in Antibes. This week I have been organizing my CV and getting the swing of things here.

One way of getting work is called "dock walking." Basically you have to walk around the dock and look for yachts that do not have guests on them. The ones that have flowers out and cushions out mean the guests are on board, and the spots are full. I have gone to Monaco -- crazy, I know! to go dock walking. After two hours of walking around, I got about 3 CVs out there. A bit disheartening, but whatever because I was in Monaco.

This morning I woke up at 6:30 to get ready for dock walking in a port a few towns over called La Golfe de Juane. The streets were empty except for this bustling café. There was also a group of middle-aged men -- about 12 -- and they were all having a boisterous breakfast together. I hope that my buddies and I will do that when we grow up! I couldn't find out where the yachts were today. Well, I could see them, but I couldn't figure out how to get to them. So after sweating a ton, I figured it out. Asked two or three yachts if they needed any day work done, and both were a negative. It was such a beautiful town, and I got an express (espresso) sitting over looking the port. Not too shabby. Look for a post coming up specifically about the trains!

My French is improving quickly as I am noticing that everything sounds exactly the same, so you just have to pick up on context clues. I successfully navigated myself from the train station in Nice to a bus the other night after visiting my buddy Cameron. I somehow produced "Es que le bus N4 allez a l'aeroporte? Et de l'aeroporte le bus deux cent allez a Antibes? Merci beaucoup." That means something like "Does the N4 bus go to the airport? And from the airport the 200 bus goes to Antibes? Thank you very much."

Anyhow, today is Bastille Day. The day when the Bastille was stormed to procure firearms during the French Revolution. Sort of like our Fourth of July, except it isn't independence but rather liberation from the abusive monarchy. Me and my buddy are going to go to Cannes because that's where Dottie told me are the best fireworks she has seen all her life! More on that later!

Au revoir (oh ray-vwah)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

my first week!

I am finally here! This week has been an adventure in getting to know myself. No one here knows me, they could care less where I am from and where I am going because everyone seems to be so focused on their own plans. And all we have in common is location. That's all. Nothing more and nothing less.

So this week, I have had to get up around 7:00 or 8:00 depending on the day. It has been really simple this week. Wake up, practice good hygiene, make breakfast, and walk to school. Day 1 we learn about general common sense. OK, nothing to report there.

Day 2: Basic Sea Survival.
We learned about immersion suits, PFDs (Personal Floatation Devices), EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radiating Beacons) and SARTs (Search and Rescue Transponders). It was so cool learning about survival strategy and psychology. For example, if you ever get into a life boat you shouldn't drink or eat for 24 hours! Isn't that crazy and counter-intuitive? Your stomach has stretch receptors in it, so if you let your stomach shrink for a day you will be more comfortable until your help arrives.

We broke for a few hours and then re-met at the Swimming Hall of Fame. We wore immerision suits, which are like these really intense wet suits that can keep you alive multiple times longer if you were submerged in cold water. The guys on Deadliest Catch always work in their immersion suits so that if they ever fell off they would already be prepared to at least be warm. They also have reflectors and whistles and buoyancy assistants. We also had to jump off a tall diving platform, which was awesome. It took everything in me to not flip and dive and spin! We had to stay afloat for 10 minutes without any assistance. Everyone was floating on their backs, but I have never been able to, so I just tread water. I kept trying to float on my back, but my feet would always slowly sink. haha

Day 3: First Aid.
I think that I may want to go to medical school after this whole yachting gig. It was so cool learning about the body's processes to stay alive and how sometimes that really works, and other times our body's natural processes actually are harmful to our survival! crazy.

Day 4 & 5: Basic Firefighting
We learned about all the types of fires, extinguishing agents, and basic theory. Then we had to do a search and rescue mission where we crawl along the floor in a confined area on this humungous practice ship for maritime firefighting. It was pitch black and there was also smoke, so we had to crawl along the floor and use our other senses. It is miraculous how our other senses are elevated when one is taken from us. We alsoo practiced putting out Class B fire (liquid and gaseous fires) with dry chemical and Class C (electrical fires) with carbon dioxide. It was a really cool experience.

I am listening to Joel McKearrow right now! You must check him out. He is a great spoken word artist who is really honest about the fact that he is white man and all the implications that go along with that being an Australian meaning that at some point his ancestors took someone else's homeland from them and passed it along to him.

2 days til Europe!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

So I am grounded here for two weeks because I hurt my shoulder. Southwest is the best airlines. It was so easy and free to change my flight. AirBerlin however charged me $180 just for a change fee when I had a medical emergency. This will be the first and last time I fly with AirBerlin.

This weekend I am going to this big music festival in Pittsboro called the Wild Goose Festival. Wild Goose is an Irish metaphor for the holy spirit. Whenever we say going on a wild goose chase, it's referring to this Irish metaphor.It's pretty cool, so check it out: I think this is going to be the reason that I am grounded here for two more weeks! I'm going to take my tent and go off to the festival without plans of going with anyone! It'll be awesome! I reckon I am going to develop the "I" part of my extroverted personality type (ENFP).

I'm reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and hashing out the exacts of what I really believe about a higher power. I really am having a hard time believing that our morality is sign of a higher power rather than an evolutionary construct that benefited societies with religion. Any good authors on this topic, anyone?

Here are my goals for the next two weeks:
-visit the grands
-read Mere Christianity
-Wild Goose Festival