day 4: art

2/3/13:

4.1We all slept in since we were out so late the night before, then Justin, Margaret, Claire and I all went to get coffee at Starbucks. From there we headed to the Louvre and saw the Obelisk, which France stole from Egypt and wouldn’t give back.  Before we went to the Louvre, we stopped at the Musée de l’Orangerie, which is a place Monet designed – he wanted someplace for people to view his work, and meditate and such. There were two main rooms with four paintings each, one per wall. It was awesome to see his work up close like that. It was hard not to reach out and touch it. If we had time, I probably could have sat on a bench for a few hours just staring at his paintings. Naturally we weren’t allowed to take any pictures. Nothing would compare to the original anyway. There was also a gallery downstairs with work from various artists, but honestly, after seeing Monet’s work, I wasn’t paying much attention to anything else.

4.2After that we tried to stop at a mustard shop called Maille, but it was closed. So we popped in next door at Ladurée and got some famous (and of course, a little expensive) macarons. We tried pistachio, coffee, rose petal, raspberry and orange blossom. Orange blossom and raspberry were my favorite, and I have to say that I was disappointed in rose petal. The coffee was good and I don’t like pistachios, so obviously I didn’t like that one. They were super adorable though, and I totally wanted to buy all the colors just to have a rainbow of macarons. Charlie came to pick up Claire and we bid them adieu for a few days.

Before stopping at the Louvre we grabbed crepes (my first, of course). I picked an apricot jam filled one and Justin got one with ham and cheese. Honestly, I preferred the ham and cheese. The sugary-marshmallow-like consistency of the crepe dough was just too sweet paired with the jam.

The line for the Louvre was quite long (free admission on the first Sunday of the month), but it moved really quickly. Margaret kept our place in line while Justin and I walked through a stone courtyard towards the back of the building and mused on how long it took to build this huge museum (Margaret later informed us that it was built in stages and added on to over the years). By the time we came back to the line Margaret was at the front waiting for us. We joined the mob and headed off to the Venus de Milo. We also saw the Winged Beauty and of course the Mona Lisa. Honestly, Lisa wasn’t that impressive. So small! And of course EVERYONE was crowded in there to see, so there’s no way to really look at it and appreciate it, not to mention it’s behind a rope and glass so you can’t even get close. They also put it in the room with some of the biggest paintings I’ve ever seen, which made it seem even more diminutive.

Typically when I go to a museum, I like to meander and stare at certain works, sometimes sit and stare, or maybe sketch (back in college). That’s not really an option in the Louvre. There were just so many people, constantly moving and talking and shuffling about that it was impossible to have the “museum experience” that I enjoy. However, it was great to see so much artwork. Naturally we weren’t able to see everything, but I think we spent close to two hours cruising through, so I got to see quite a bit.

After a quick snack back at Charlie and Claire’s place (they weren’t home), we headed off to Nancy – pronounced Non-see. There was a girl that was supposed to carpool with us back to Nancy, but after about 20 minutes on the road she decided she wanted to stay one more night with her boyfriend, who lives in Paris. We ended up dropping her off at some random metro station. I was glad for the extra space in the backseat (our car was small) to nap in. It was a four hour ride back to Nancy, in the dark, so there wasn’t much to look at. I tried to sleep most of the time.

When we got to Justin and Margaret’s apartment (super cute little place) we had some leftover Korean food for dinner, that some Korean (yeah, duh) kids had made when they were couch surfing at J&M’s place. I tried kimchi for the first time (LOVE) and had some sort of noodles and squishy rice bits to go with it. And of course several cups of tea, because basically all I drank in France was black tea, café au lait and wine. The Super Bowl came on at about 1 AM and I watched up until the half-time show and then called it a night after Beyonce’s lame performance.

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day 2, part 1: bring out yer dead!

2/1/13:

2.1Today was a busy day! I started with a baguette with apricot jam and black tea for breakfast and I felt very French–looking out over the Seine, with the barges and little cars honking their horns…it was très picturesque! Justin, Claire and I then had coffee at McDonalds (McCafé), which is a very different experience compared to getting coffee at an American McD’s. First off, you get served in real porcelain cups. The interior is actually nice too, apparently akin to a Starbucks, where people just go to hang out and drink coffee and use their laptops. I also learned the French don’t typically walk around while drinking coffee either–it’s meant to be enjoyed while relaxing at a cafe, or wherever you’ve ordered it. I guess they have a lot of leisure time in France!

2.2

After coffee we headed to the Catacombs–underground tunnels full of old bones! “The Catacombs were created at the end of the 18th century to serve as an ossuary. It was decided that bones from all of the city’s cemeteries would be stored in disused limestone quarries in the Tombe-Issoire district.”  We walked down below the streets, below the plumbing, below everything through some rather boring rock tunnels, and then into tunnels lined with the bones of the long deceased. The bones have been organized and stacked efficiently and at first it was almost like they weren’t real. I think we’re so disconnected with death (or at least dead bodies) that it was easy to forget that these are actual parts of people who used to be alive.

After the Catacombs we popped into Starbucks (of course) and talked more about French culture and lifestyle. Students don’t have school on Wednesdays!

Claire left us to register for classes and Justin and I headed over to Notre-Dame–quite impressive. Alas, there was no hunchback, but there was about a zillion tourists! They have a large balcony in front of the church so people can take photos in front of the church (naturally I decided to be one of those people), but it was hard to get a good shot of the church itself without also capturing the swarms of people. Inside was even more packed with people and their iphones and fancy cameras, shuffling about and taking pictures of stained glass and arches and organs and religious relics.  I’m really not interested in the religious aspect of the church (though I did wonder how some people felt about all these tourists gawking at their place of worship), but I did admire the massive stained glass windows and the huge chandeliers and such.

Below the church they had a little “Archaeological Crypt” area that you could tour (for a few Euros, of course), which contained ruins of some older buildings that were built in…older times. They were mostly piles of crumbled stone, and some archways, but apparently they used to be homes and courtyards and stuff. “Converted in 1980 under the square in front of Notre-Dame  de Paris cathedral to display archaeological remains discovered during excavations from 1965 to 1972, the crypt provides a unique overview of urban and architectural development of the île de la Cité, the historical heart of Paris.” (Says my pamphlet). None of my pictures are really worth showcasing, but Justin and I did have fun playing with the 3-D, Sim-like, models that they had, displaying what these ruins looked like in their hey-days. The displays had little people walking about the town, and even naked dudes chilling in the bath houses. Yes, we’re mature.

To be continued…

day 1: welcome to paris!

Alright folks, I said I’d write about my adventures in France, and I’m going to start right from Logan Airport. I tried to put as much detail into my journal as possible, so I’m going to write from that and hopefully it’s fun to read!

Day 1: 1/30/13

Made it through security! For some reason, that’s always what makes me nervous. I never have anything to worry about, but I’m afraid to piss off security anyhow. Being treated like I might be a criminal just makes me feel guilty right off the bat.

I did get my right ankle patted down after stepping through the body scanner though…

It’s really starting to sink in that I’m headed to France. FRANCE!

I hope everything is as wonderful as I want it to be. I can’t even imagine being there yet–it’s beyond my imagination.

Later

An Icelandic lullaby on the pillows provided by the plane:

Bye bye and hushabye,
Can you see the swans fly?
Now half asleep in bed I lie,
Awake with half an eye.
Heyho and welladay,
Over the hills and far away,
That’s where the little children stray
To find the lambs at play.

Also, the most random list of in-flight movies ever, including but not limited to:
Looper
Pleasantville
The Dark Knight Rises
A.I.
All The President’s Men
City of Angels
Legend of the Guardians
Mystic River
Office Space
Speed
Shawshank Redemption
Wag the Dog…and more!

I watched Prometheus…decent I suppose, though I was left with some questions. Tried watching Dark Shadows but it sucked so much I fell asleep.

1/31/13 6:10 AM (still day 1 in my mind)

Iceland airport…ghost town. It’s still dark out, so I can’t see beyond the airport tarmac. I’m exhausted–I hardly slept on the plane and my stomach hurts because I’m stupid and I didn’t buy a snack on the plane (I was under the impression I’d be given at least some pretzels).

The airport is pretty neat though. There’s some neat architecture and they have wooden floors. It’s two floors and does have a lot of windows, even if I can’t see anything outside. The bathrooms are made up of individual rooms inside for extra privacy!

There was one food place open right near my gate, so I grabbed some yogurt and some candy that I thought was chocolate. In hindsight, I should have bought that ham sandwich I was eyeing. The yogurt was the best I’ve ever had however, very creamy and pear flavored.

ImageThat’s the brand and I wish we sold it in the states. It even came with a cute little fold-out spoon. Unfortunately, the candy I picked out was disgusting. If only I had read the side, which had a brief description in English: Topas–pastilles with saltliquorice flavour, sugarfree with sweetner. Oops!

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So, as soon as I ate one, I wanted to spit it out. However, I didn’t want the other people at the gate to see me do this, so I spit it out in the bathroom instead and then dumped out the rest of the candies in anger. So my first attempt at trying foreign candy wasn’t so successful. After my snack I basically zoned out until it was time to get on the next plane.

I landed in Paris around noon and my first impression was that there was so much space between all the little towns. Charles de Gaulle airport isn’t located in the middle of the city, so I saw a lot of the more country-ish parts of France on the way in. The three hour flight from Iceland to Paris was pretty miserable because I was overtired and hungry, but I couldn’t really sleep because I wasn’t comfortable and the two Icelandic women next to me were talking really loudly.

CDG was neat though, a bit like being on an episode of the Jetsons. After getting off the plane I got on a really long moving sidewalk that went up and down hills, and then got on to one that was encased in a glass tube and went up a slope for a few floors. The airport is a circle I guess. I grabbed my bag from baggage claim, and then left the terminal–no customs. I didn’t know if I had done something wrong because I expected to have to go through customs like Justin said. Instead I just came out at the arrivals gate where other people were being greeted by friends and family. I waded my way through a bunch of cabbies (“Taxi, miss? Miss, taxi?”) and found a bench. I basically just spaced out for an hour until Justin arrived (right on time). I will admit, I had a bit of a freak out, just sitting alone in a foreign country with no way to contact anyone (my phone wouldn’t even tell me what time it was), and a bunch of weird French dudes asking me if I needed a cab. Being tired and hungry didn’t help either.

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Apartment buildings in Paris.

As soon as Justin showed up, I felt better. After a long and jam-packed metro ride, we made it to the area of Paris where we would be staying in an apartment that belongs to Justin and Margaret’s friend Claire. I can see the Eiffel Tower from the balcony of her apartment. Crazy!

Upon arrival we also met Charlie, Clarie’s adorable French boyfriend, and his amazing dog Tosca, who is the most well-trained dog I’ve ever met. They both made for wonderful company! The apartment is totally charming, and has some old-school French looking furniture and marble floors and definitely made me feel like I was staying in Paris. I took a bath and the four of us headed out in search of food.

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Street signs are harder to notice because they’re usually plastered to the side of a building.

ImageWe ended up at a patisserie, where I got a croque-monsieur, which is a totally delicious and cheesy sandwich. Mine had ham and cheese and white sauce in the middle, with cheese and tomato on top. They heated it up and it was delicious! I also got an eclair to munch on later (filled with chocolate pudding!) We walked around while eating, which I learned isn’t really done in France. You’re supposed to sit when you eat and drink, or people give you funny looks. Since they have a more relaxed culture (and, as I learned later, a lot more free time) people just sit to eat instead of rushing off. Unless it’s a baguette, then you can eat it on the go. But, walkers beware! There’s lots of dog poop on the streets and sidewalks, because apparently there’s nowhere else for dogs to poop!

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A French Midas!

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Great building decor!

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Mini Statue of Liberty

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The tower!!!

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ImageAfter heading back to the apartment for a glass of wine (of course), Justin and I set off towards the Eiffel Tower for some night pictures. Standing under it, while it was all lit up, was mind blowing! It was pretty cold out and there was quite a line, so we decided not to go to the top. Instead we walked around (and avoided like 20 guys selling key chains) and ended up at a bar. The bar also had a massive cappuccino maker, which was a strange sight to me, since I’m used to bars and cafes being separate. The beer was good, and so was talking to Justin about some of his world-traveling adventures.

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task butler – app launch

https://lh5.ggpht.com/gKLqm19iAK8sFVlv4BegGs75SIg8Wb0xghuj9UaELPZ2QISQpQDhDzvVo4kPcL5pQYQ=w124Recently I designed an icon for an app that my friend was working on – Task Butler. Well Task Butler has launched and is available through Google Play for Andriod devices!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=edu.worcester.cs499summer2012

Task Butler is a personal assistant app that helps keep your life organized. Use Task Butler to keep track of all of your shopping, errands, bills, to-do lists, and more. You can group your tasks into categories to create sub-lists of similar tasks. You can assign due dates to tasks, and Task Butler will remind you when it’s time to complete them. For an especially time-sensitive task, use the procrastination alarm and Task Butler will make sure you finish it!

If you have an Andriod, be sure to download it and leave a review and rating!

Over the next few weeks I hope to make a nice webpage for it too. :]

design preview

So I actually started working on this today. Hoping to refine my pen tool skills. Her hat is giving me a lot of difficulty. I’m not 100% settled on the colors yet either, that can come later. I am going for a flat look, but I do still want some details. I probably won’t mess with that until I have a full figure finished though.

I really do love working in Illustrator, I just have a lot of issues drawing with a mouse. Even if I sketch something and scan it to trace (like this picture I’m working on), I still can’t trace it exactly the way it’s laid out. I am not sure if having a tablet would really improve that or not.

I want to trace a lot of my projects from the design class I took my freshman year of college. We did everything by hand for that class, so now I’d like to do my digital spin on everything.

Eventually (my list of art-related things I’d like to do is a long one) I want to do more drawing by hand as well.

illustration friday

 

Today I finally decided to submit something to Illustration Friday, a weekly little inspirational challenge. I found this site a couple years ago, and have only once submitted an idea. Ideally, I would be more disciplined, and try my hand at each weekly topic. It’s a good chance to just design/draw something. As it is, this is from college, but this week’s topic is ‘identical’ and I felt this matched that pretty well. I am actually going to start making my digital copy of this soon, after some more work on a project for a friend of mine. Going to post pictures from my weekend in Maine over the next couple days as well.

milliebot website up and running!

I did it, I finally finished enough of my website to launch it! I am so excited. It feels amazing to actually have a website for myself that I designed, rather than a simple blog. Woo! Of course, there are still tweaks that need to be made, but it’s functional for now!