Monday, October 12, 2015

Going from Paris to Ris-Orangis

The best way to get to Ris-Orangis from Paris, is via Taxi I was told .  Not so true.  Firstly, it is costly, especially, if you have to do it every day, back and forth for four days.  Secondly, it is boring.  There is lots to see on and outside of the public transit --and if there is not, one can sleep, read or listen to music.

A 5-days pass for zones 1 - 5 costs 67,40 € (2015, October).  And from anywhere in Paris you can get to Gare Du Nord or Les Halles Stations where you can catch RER D train operated by ROVO South (Sud) to CORBEIL ESSONNES.  I caught this at 7:42 AM and was in Ris - Orangis at 8:20 AM.

There was no cab at the train station, to my surprise.  So, I had to try my French in getting the point across to the attendant at the train ticket station, who kindly made a call on my behalf.  The taxi however arrived in sooner than the expected 15 minutes.  I tried my French again on reserving a taxi for tomorrow but I gathered from what the driver said, I have to call again tomorrow.  By end of the week the attendant at the train ticket station will either avoid me or we become good friends.  I certainly hope for the latter to happen!

Going back to Paris, I took RER D train North (Nord), at 5:31 towards VILLIERS LE BEL GONESSE ARNOUVILLE, operated by VUPE, from ORANGIS BOIS DE L EPINE, a different station that the one I arrived in the morning, and got to Paris around 6:10 PM.

There are many trains going through the same station, but they go one at a time :), so for the information about the next train approaching are on the monitors, this includes time of arrival, and all the stations the train stops.  This is truly a source of reassurance. However, if the system is down,  monitors showing a blue screen, it's best to know the train information, timetable, and operator from a previous time, basically get on the train that arrives at that time, and listen to stop announcements, those French statements starting with: Prochain arret ....., to ensure you are on the right one.

The following two websites are source of reference for planning to visit Paris and/or Paris and the vicinity.
Paris and suburbs:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ward Islands, Toronto Islands

If you are looking for something to do on any given day, and you happen to be in Toronto, head down to the Toronto Island Ferry port, and get a RT ticket for $7.25 (subject to change, fees are based on 2015) and travel to Ward island. 

The Rectory Cafe
Center Island is a popular destination, and with the Centerville Amusement park, water fountains, and the bicycle and boat rental stores it makes total sense that the line to that island is always the busiest.  But Ward has its own beauty --it's more mature, and more reserved.  You get off the ferry, and there is no sign or anything else to direct you or inhibit you from going in any direction.  But, if I may suggest you may head towards the lake and start walking west toward the Center island.  It's a lovely walk and doesn't take too long.  Along the way, watch for the sign (on your left) for The Rectory Cafe.  Don't think of leaving if you are hungry and there is a line; it's worth the wait, and the staff is quite accommodating and seats hungry clients quickly.  The Salmon and Steak there are cooked to perfection.  In the summer time, when we visited, August 16, there was quite a charming jazz musician singing beautiful tunes.  It was a whole experience.

There is plenty to do after lunch.  Continue with the walk to Center Island and explore the eastern point of the island via a rental boat or a bicycle.

Apex, by Ramez Naam

APEX, independent of what led to it, (events of Nexus and Crux), builds a story based on connection of minds through the NexusOS. Through this soft layer one human mind can feel and see the other's. In addition Nexus OS enhances the natural ability to think, learn, memorize, problem solve, and focus.

It is year 2040, and unrest is a dominant and recurring theme; the government of China, India, and USA are involved in secretly boosting their power position by enhancing NexusOS while publicly denouncing it.

In US, post a series of suspicious deaths of high ranking government officials, leaked government documents show it's involved in crimes post-human's are accused of committing.
In China a post-human, Su-Yong Shu, has been tortured so badly that has led her to create a cloned software that when activated will set the path to destroy all human life on earth.
In India, government officials bribe Chinese scientist to get a hold of part of the AI technology behind Su-Yong Shu.

Where there is evil, there is good. And in this story, the goodness comes into play quite often to defeat the bad. It's the author's belief that only compassion and peace can stop war and devastation.

What stood out for me, were meditation and concentration and how he used them in his story. It inspired me, to think what if? What if peace could be reached in the world if those of us who believed in it meditated?
However, I would have appreciated a bit of out of the box thinking for the governments of the imaginary year of 2040. Intentionally or inadvertently the political part of the story closely follows the happenings of past couple of decades.