Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

SO, WHAT ARE YOU _DOING_ OVER THERE?


OK, so barring the occasional weekend trip, what are we doing from day to day?  Well, a bunch of different things.  For a month or two, I studied French at Alliance Franais, a school that has quite a reputation globally for its language courses, though I found it a little stilted and pedantic.  But maybe thats because I act like a real polymath sometimes.  For a month after that, I didnt have any regular time commitments, not a one.  Pretty amazing.  But its actually hard to be that unregulated, and Susie was interested in taking art courses (she also stayed in French school for a month longer than I did), so I ended up signing up for a photography course at Parsons School of Design.  Parsons is an absolutely awesome New York design school that has an average and unassuming little school over here in Paris.  The facilities are nice, if cramped, and the computer lab needs work.  Its no Art Center on a technology basis, though I cant really speak about the teachers or the program itself.  The photography class is pretty cool.  I walked in the first day and ran into someone I knew from Alliance.  Small world or what?  (This might also be a clue to you that the classes at Parsons are in English.)  The problem with the photo class is only that you have to do all this developing and messing with chemicals and so on yourself.  I dont have any major problem with this, but I like to _take_ photographs, not _make_ photographs.  I enjoy being outside and wandering around Paris, taking photos of all sorts of weird and wondrous things.  Being in the dark room makes me agoraphobic.  Though Im getting better at this now, and have managed to print four contact sheets, two of which are in focus, and one print, which is only slightly too dark.  Im going to be making some more prints this week.  Its maddening that I can take 36 pictures in an hour, but it would take days to print all those, even if I wanted to.

YES, BUT WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUTSIDE OF CLASS?


Well, I spend a fair amount of time walking around the city.  I choose a metro stop and walk side streets until I get cold or tired or run out of film.  I visit occasional museums, though for the most part I try to save those for when we have visitors, except for short exhibitions that I dont want to miss.  Ive been cooking some.  I also read voraciously, probably 4-8 books a week.  We got a family membership to the American Library, and have been using it to maximum advantage.  Ive been very into Lawrence Block and John MacDonald (who wrote about a detective called Travis McGee.  Hes nifty.)  I also read all those books about web technology I would buy and refer too.  Ive gone to several conventions about new technology.  I hang out with people weve met, and interview others for articles Im developing.  I also do work on various web projects, some of which I can talk about, some I cant.  See more on that below.

MEETING REAL FRENCH PEOPLE, TAKE I


Theres an e-mail list called Jliste for French online journalists, and I have been reading, or trying to read, it for several months now.  I happened to interview one of the people who helped start (and who helps fund) Jliste, and he told me that Jlisters were having a meeting and that I should come along.  I suppose I would have eventually read about the meeting, but I tend not to read Jliste every day, so it would have been too late when I found out about it.  Anyway, I went and had a very interesting evening.  The French style of meetings is fairly different from the American style.  It was a lot of discussion, and lot of political debate, even during the introductions.  The good part was, it adjourned to a local bar, and there I got a better sense of who these people were and what they had in common.  The bar was cool, too.  The whole meeting was in French, and while I didnt participate very vigorously, I was able to understand a lot of it.  Which was pretty good, considering the specialized computer vocabulary and verbal debate and colloquial nature of the conversation.

MEETING FRENCH PEOPLE, TAKE II


In her French class, Susie met Angela, a woman from Barbados/Finnish/French Guyana, who is currently engaged to a real French person.  We got to be good friends without ever meeting her fianc.  Then one night, she invited us over for dinner.  Her fianc runs a multinational telephone support company, and her apartment was spectacular.  The food was yummy too, and he has his own chateau so the wine was delicious.  Afterward, we played pool on one of the few pool tables Ive seen in Paris.  It was excellent fun, and I for some reason managed to be a good player for several games when it mattered.  One of the people I met there invited me to take part in an Internet semiotics and linguists presentation his company was making to some potential clients.  Naturally enough it was all in French, and while I can understand the discussion well enough, when Im nervous and I talk, I sound like a five-year-old, albeit a five-year-old with particularly good insight into Internet systems.  But they seemed to think I had interesting things to say, especially when it came to Intranets.  So I might even be invited back.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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