Good design is all about
fostering aesthetic enjoyment
while reducing cognitive friction.
37 is a prime number.
Residues modulo small integers:
(2,1) (3,1) (4,1) (5,2) (6,1) (7,2) (8,5) (9,1)
Quadratic residues modulo 37:
1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 33, 34, 36
Primitive roots modulo 37:
2, 5, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24, 32, 35
Character code 37:
% percent sign
37 (hex: 25, octal: 0045, binary: 00100101)
37 is an odd number.
37 has a representation as a sum of 2 squares: 37 = 1² + 6²
37 is an irregular prime (divides Bernoulli number B32’s numerator).
37 is the hypotenuse of a primitive Pythagorean triple: 37² = 12² + 35²
“La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. Elle assure l’égalité devant la loi de tous les citoyens sans distinction d’origine, de race ou de religion. Elle respecte toutes les croyances. Son organisation est décentralisée.”
Article 1er de la Constitution de la République française.
Could someone send a copy to Monsieur Nicolas Sarkozy?
Une maison sur le plateau du Causse,
Ancienne école élémentaire,
Nouvelle école affective,
Portes grandes ouvertes.
Le soleil du Midi,
La chaleur de la pierre,
L’odeur du thym,
Le sourire de Pierre.
Le repas partagé,
Herbes aux noms exotiques,
Le sourire de Marie-Odette.
Les ballades en famille,
Cirque de Navacelles,
Source de la Foux,
Berges de la Vis.
Les grandes idées,
Les Indiens d’Amérique,
La vie naturelle,
Bien avant les modes.
Pour Pierre et Marie-Odette.
In loving memory.
I usually do not use this blog to write about anything negative, but today’s experience trying to get around town using cabs in Paris gives me no other choices. Of all the places I have traveled to (1,142,896 miles since I started tracking my trips on TripIt), Paris ranks dead last in terms of customer service, and taxi drivers are the worst offenders of all.
It all started when I tried to go from the InterContinental Paris Le Grand to Bouygues Telecom’s headquarters on 20 quai du Point du jour in nearby Boulogne Billancourt. First, the cab driver had no idea where the place was, no map, and no GPS, so I had to provide directions myself, even though I had never been there before. Anyway, we finally managed to find the location thanks to my trustworthy iPhone 4, and I was pleased to know that I was riding with Taxi Bleus, the only cab company in Paris that will gladly take credit cards. That was counting without the fact that my driver did not think much about them, and he made it clear that plastic was no valid form of payment in his coach. Oh well…
After my meeting, I was headed to La Défense, and went on looking for a cab. Since the ratio of taxicabs to private cars in Paris has to be at least 10 times less than what it is in London or New York, I decided to walk a few blocks down the Seine river in order to find one of these landmark taxi stations. They’re marked with a blue sign and feature a bulky kiosk with a large button, a microphone, and a wide loudspeaker. You would think that pressing the button would put you in touch with the cab dispatcher, but that would be far too easy. Instead, the kiosk is used by taxi drivers in ways that still escape me. In any case, you cannot use it to order a cab. And because Paris does not have many of them, I was left standing there for a good 30 minutes, until I decided that I might want to give a call to the Taxi Bleus company. So I picked up my iPhone, googled them up, and landed on a terrible web page advertising a French toll-free number that cannot be used with a foreign cellphone. Darn! Fortunately for me, a couple of journalists waiting for a cab as well eventually sympathized with my predicament and indicated that I might want to hop in a nearby tramway that would take me to La Défense in about 20 minutes. I followed their advice and arrived on time at my meeting, having paid 1.70 euros for the ride. Not bad… And the view of the Seine banks was awesome!
After an excellent meeting with GDF Suez, I was on my way back to the InterContinental Paris Le Grand in order to pick up my luggage before heading to the InterContinental Paris Avenue Marceau (more on this later). Knowing my way around, I headed toward the CNIT’s taxi station, and jumped into the first cab in line. Before I could sit down, the cab driver asked me where I was heading to. I answered, and he grudgingly agreed to take me there. I asked him what was wrong with my request, and he replied that it would have been better if I had decided to go to the airport instead. I told him that I was not ready to fly back home yet, to which he answered that because of the short distance and heavy trafic on a late Friday afternoon, this ride was “une course de merde” (a shitty ride). I thought of telling him that I was sorry, but got interrupted when he stopped the car, rolled down the window, and asked a guy heading toward the taxi station whether he wanted to get a ride to the airport. The guy said no, then off we went. But let me get this straight: should the guy have said yes, I would have been asked to step out of the cab so that my hired chauffeur could make a bit more money, and I would have been left trying to convince some of his peers that my plea for a ride back in town was worthy of consideration. Think about it for a minute… Having to beg cab drivers to consider taking my “shitty” business! What a disgrace…
Anyway, we’re now on our way to my hotel, and I have to pick up a call with a partner in London. For fifteen minutes, I have a phone conversation in English, which somehow managed to convince my driver that I must be some clueless American. As we get closer to my destination, he tries to explain to me in some badly broken English that we’re not too far from the hotel, that traffic is getting really bad, and that I might want to walk down the block to the place where he was supposed to drop me to. I answer in French that I don’t mind, which prompts him to wonder who the hell I must be, being able to speak two different languages. How weird is that? At this point, he really thinks that I must work for Ernst & Young or KPMG, which both have offices next to GDF Suez’s, and seem to be particularly bad customers for taxi drivers, never being interested in a ride to the airport (the ultimate win for a Parisian taxi driver). I tell him that I do not work for any of these companies, at which point he asks me whether I’m French or American. I answer that I am all three of them, which seems to puzzle him, and he makes it clear that it’s time for me to get down now. I decide that I’m too tired to beg for the completion of the ride to the intended destination, pay my fare with no tip, and walk toward the hotel following directions provided by my iPhone. What was supposed to be a “walk around the block” turned out to be a kilometer-long escapade, but quite frankly, I did not mind. Not having to deal with any more cab driver non-sense provided enough satisfaction.
I was now ready to pick up my luggage and head to the other InterContinental hotel where I was staying. At this point, some readers might wonder why I would stay in two different hotels while being in the same town for multiple days. The reason for it is pretty simple: I am trying to get highest status on three hotel chains: Starwood, Hyatt, and InterContinental. Having been on the road for 80 days in the first six months of the year, I’m already set with the first two. And for the third one, I am trying to take advantage of the fact that in most hotel chains (Starwood and Hyatt included), stays count double towards elite status as nights do, hence I made it a habit to switch hotel every night so that I get stays as fast as possible. Unfortunately, InterContinental does not have such a policy, therefore I could have stayed at the Grand Hotel for two nights, thereby saving myself a fair amount of aggravation. Sadly, I did not know about that fact until a few minutes ago when I checked the InterContinental Ambassador website while proof-reading this article.
Anyway, after waiting in line for about 20 minutes at the hotel, I finally managed to hitch a ride to my final destination for the day. This fifth attempt at fiding a decent cab diver in the City of Lights turned out to be the most… enlightening. At this point, I was determined not to get abused by any moron at the wheel. I would get a decent ride, pay a decent fare, and not let anyone blushit me. Well, you have to excuse my French for a minute here, for I must have been influenced by the constant swearing of my last chauffeur. In less than 15 minutes, the guy, who was listening to loud and obnoxious French rap music (not the MC Solaar kind obviously) must have used more insults toward his fellow drivers than I might have used myself against computers in trying to get some reluctant piece of software to bend over my will for the past 25 years. The guy was downright scary. Eventually, we stop on the side of the road, and he asks me if we arrived at the intended destination. I answer to the positive, but ask him to drive around some kind of embankment for another 50 yards, so that I could stay clear off the rain that had started pouring a while ago. He disagrees, telling me that we’re close enough, and making me understand that I should be glad to be arrived alive, in one piece. Capiche? I quickly forget about my prior resolutions, and hand over a 10 euro bill for a 8.90 euro fare while asking for a receipt. He reluctantly provides one, but fails to give me any change back. At that point, I had decided that such a poorly rendered service did not deserve any tip, so I asked for the missing 1.10 euros, to which the cab driver answered that I had some luggage, hence no change was due. I asked for some reference to any kind of legislation that would make such an outrageous practice tolerable, but this started yet another stream of insults, this time directed at me personally. I decided that it was time to get some sleep, and left him to his own misery, with my 10 euros in his pocket. Bastard!
This concluded what must have been one of my most miserable experiences I ever had as a customer. As much as I love Paris for its amazing architecture and urban planning, I hate the quality of its customer service. Granted, this is the place in the world that receives the most tourists during any given year, hence it does not have to try hard. But as far as business traveling is concerned, this must be one of the worst places in the world. Actually, let me take that back: it is the worst place in the industrialized world, hands down.
It’s sad though, for I really like the company of good taxi drivers.
So I’m heading back to Tokyo.
Early morning run
Rabbits hopping along, birds flying above
Watching the sun rise on the Baylands
“My aestheticism makes me put poetry before prose, Greeks before Romans, dignity before elegance, elegance before culture, culture before erudition, erudition before knowledge, knowledge before intellect, and intellect before truth.”
—Nassim N. Taleb
The holiday break finally gave me some time to work on my cinephile movie collection. I started this project a year and a half ago, and I expect it to be completed by the end of next year. The original goal was to assemble the complete Criterion Collection (over 500 movies), but the scope eventually expanded to create a more comprehensive collection. Today, I intend to add the Eclipse Collection (74 DVDs), the Janus Films (24 additional DVDs), a couple hundred documentaries, and all movies directed by the following artists:
The whole collection should be made of about 2,000 DVDs. Each DVD is ripped and stored on a RAID 5 disk array, then converted into MP4 format and added to my iTunes library on a Mac OS X server. Movies are then edited to include title, director, release year, cover art, category, and personal rating. As of today, over 650 movies have been processed. Still a long way to go, but the collection is starting to take shape. Cool stuff…
Recent travels gave me some time to watch quite a few interesting documentaries, with a strong focus on design and environmentalism. There is beauty in this world, so let’s try to preserve some of it…
Dieu accueille en sa maison aujourd’hui, Juliette Grosset, née Chevalier.
C’est dans le quartier de Saint Jacques que sa jeune maman Jeanne lui donna le jour le 1er février 1915.
La grande guerre la priva de son père pendant sa toute petite enfance. Elle eut un frère Henri puis une sœur Marie Thérèse.
Devant la maison familiale s’étendait une vaste tenue maraîchère jusqu’au bord de Sèvres. C’est là que Juliette passa son enfance et sa jeunesse, dans une famille unie et chaleureuse. C’est là aussi qu’elle commença à travailler à 12 ans après avoir obtenu son certificat d’étude, au prix d’un renoncement qu’elle évoquera toute sa vie : elle aurait tellement voulu étudier.
Quand elle épouse Joseph Grosset en 1940, Juliette est une femme déterminée, courageuse, connaissant parfaitement l’art du maraîchage d’avant garde, entrepreneuse et commerçante. Ils seront maraîchers rue du Croissant, à Nantes, et à Maubreuil, à Carquefou, pendant de longues années, avant de se choisir un lieu de vie à leur convenance, à Carquefou
Juliette et Joseph ont eu le grand bonheur de vivre ensemble pendant 65 ans, avec leur deux filles Annick et Josette, puis 6 petits enfants et à ce jour 11 arrières petits enfants, qu’ils ont entourés d’attention et d’affection. Ce fut son grand bonheur de voir ses petits enfants et arrière petits enfants grandir, et elle suivit avec beaucoup d’intérêt et de fierté leurs réussites dans leur vie et dans leurs études.
Le souvenir de Juliette évoque pour nous tous son sourire rayonnant, et toute sa personne accueillante, soucieuse du bonheur de chacun, préparant de délicieux repas pour la convivialité et le partage.
Elle a entouré sa famille et ses amis dans la joie et dans les épreuves, visitant les malades et ceux que la vie laissait dans la solitude.
Si dans la vie de Juliette, le travail fut un maître mot, elle le réalisa non seulement avec courage mais aussi dans la dignité, l’honnêteté et le respect des personnes. Les employés qui travaillaient sur leur exploitation partageaient la table familiale et étaient respectueusement considérés.
Juliette aimait beaucoup les voyages, découvrir des horizons nouveaux, admirer des paysages, la mer, les Pyrénées en septembre, quand le travail d’été terminé, elle pouvait prendre un peu de repos avec Joseph.
La fidélité marque la vie de Juliette, fidélité de ses sentiments, fidélité dans l’amitié.
Son amie la plus ancienne, Anne-Marie, était avec elle dans la petite école de Saint Jacques ; jusqu’à ce jour elles n’ont cessé de se voir. Pendant sa longue vie, d’autres amitiés se sont construites. Quand à plus de 60 ans, elle emménage au Housseau, c’est une maison aux portes grandes ouvertes qui s’offre à de nouvelles rencontres.
Fidélité aussi dans ses convictions religieuses.
Quand son mari tant aimé s’en est allé, elle lui a dit adieu en restant à sa façon persuadée qu’il était encore là, pouvant venir la visiter; elle demandait de ses nouvelles, et ajoutait souvent : on a été si heureux ensemble, on s’est beaucoup aimé.
Elle a vécu ces trois années passées au Gué Florent, la maison de retraite toute proche à Orvault, où elle fut entourée de soins et d’attention d’une très grande humanité par tout les professionnels présents ; ce fut un apaisement pour elle et sa famille dans cette étape de vie souvent si difficile.
Sa longue vie arrivant à son terme, Juliette a eu la délicatesse de partir tout doucement, laissant ainsi à ses enfants le temps, jour après jour, de s’habituer à lui dire au revoir, rassemblant dans son regard ses ultimes forces pour recueillir leurs mots d’amour et de vérité.
Elle a exprimé son espérance d’être accueillie dans la maison de Dieu, et de retrouver ses chers parents, son époux, son frère et sa sœur.
Nous sommes là aujourd’hui pour l’accompagner et la remercier, assurés qu’elle demeurera dans notre souvenir pour son amour et son bel exemple de vie dans la dignité.
Par Josette Ghalimi, née Grosset
Two and a half years ago, I made the decision to compete in the legendary Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, before I turn 45. At the time, I had never run for more than a mile, and the longest distance I had ever completed on a bike was about 20 miles. Back when I was 16, I swam 2 miles with Nicolas, one of my lifelong friends, and the one who first told me about the Ironman. And that was about it. So attempting to complete a 2.4 miles swim, followed by a 112 miles bike ride, and wrapped up by a 26.2 miles run (marathon) was a bit ambitious. And thinking of doing it in the most competitive race of the kind was definitely one of the craziest goals I had ever set for myself.
31 months later, I must say that I am quite pleased with this project’s side effects. The goal of completing this race is totally meaningless in and by itself. If I even qualify, it won’t be for my athletic capabilities, but for my luck at the lottery (I hope). And if I manage to participate, all I hope is to complete the race before it closes, 17 hours after it started. What has meaning is the 12 year long training program that I am putting together. Like a life traveler, what matters to me is the journey, not the destination.
In order to get there, I first completely changed my diet. I eat beef once a month in Japan, poultry whenever I’m in France (once a quarter), and lamb if I find myself in an Arabic speaking country (does not happen very often). Pork is out. My diet is high on proteins, low on carbohydrates, and complemented by a healthy cocktail of dietary supplements. I also make it a point to eat healthy when traveling.
Next, I started working out, going to the gym five days a week at 5 or 6am. I lift weights three days a week and attend a spinning class for another two. Starting next week, I will run on Saturdays and do a long bike ride on Sundays. I also swim 2km a day whenever I am traveling and staying at a hotel with a swimming pool. Finally, I started planning for my first races.
My goal is to complete a full Ironman race sometime in 2011 or 2012. In order to get there, I must start with shorter ones, either the Olympic distance (0.9m swim, 24.9m ride, 6.2m run) or the Half Ironman distance (1.2m swim, 56m ride, 13.1m run). I can swim a mile in 40 minutes, bike 25 miles in 50 minutes, and run 6 miles in an hour, so the Olympic distance is not much of a challenge. As a result, I have recently decided to go for the Half Ironman distance right away. It is known as Ironman 70.3 (1.2 + 56 + 13.1 = 70.3). If all goes as planned, I will participate in the Vineman Ironman 70.3 in Sonoma County, CA on July 18, 2010.
By the time I turn 45, I hope that my journey to Kona will have taught me a healthier lifestyle. I will eat better, workout every day, and harmoniously balance the demands of my professional and personal lives.
That’s the goal, at least.
Wish me luck!
Update: I have registered to Ironman 70.3 Hawaii instead.