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Archive for March, 2011

Apple is taking over my life. Ever since I have moved to Scotland it has been making slow, calculated moves preying on my hectic life, knowing I’m too busy to notice it’s take over. It started off innocently enough. I started downloading podcasts for my walks to Cole’s in the morning. First it was just the New York Times 10 minute overview. Then it was Stuff you Should Know and This American Life. I started listening to these 30 minute to an hour episodes every morning walking to Cole’s. I began downloading all sorts of podcasts after that. John Hopkins. Freakenomics. Anything I might slightly be interested in – which is pretty much everything. If I had known then, what I know now, I may have tried to stop but I didn’t. Who knows if I would have even been able to?

I can’t watch television in Scotland, they have this dumb licensing fee over £100 to own a television. The television doesn’t even need to be hooked up for the fee to apply. As long as there is a television in your flat, you must pay the fee. (they mean business too, i’ve thrown away some pretty threatening letters) Clearly, I wasn’t going that route. Well I downloaded some free episodes form iTunes, then a couple episodes of my favorite shows. This of course, was before my discovery of Surfthechannel.com and sidereel.com. Maybe if I had stopped then, but no the damage was done. I now knew everything was at my fingertips on iTunes. Not just music. Since I don’t have a television and therefore a dvd player for the U.K. I began purchasing movies on iTunes. Not the expensive ones, just the cheap limited time $4.99 ones. Now I find myself waiting for the clocks to hit 5 am on Tuesday to see what new movies will be $4.99 this week and will I want any of them. I’ve talked myself into buying some pretty ridiculous movies justified by their price and my want to watch something – anything!

As many of you know, I am not the greatest cook. This used to be a problem, well still kind of is, but I’ve found my way out through iTunes…with the cooking made simple podcast and the Jaime Oliver podcast. Both with video! It’s almost Jess-proof this way. I’ve managed to cook up three successful meals, sure each time I almost burned down the kitchen because I needed to keep rewinding to see what I missed, but I did it. I made something edible. All through iTunes. They even give me the list of ingredients.

It doesn’t stop there, either. On my recent journey to Paris, without thinking twice, I connected to my iTunes and downloaded the French survival and French lesson podcasts. I even put a French flash card app on my iTouch. My iTouch – how quickly that has become another necessity to my life ( or should I say iLife). I can skype on it. I can create my grocery list on it. I can take pictures. Check the weather. Play games. The options are endless. I can’t stop.

After signing up for a 10k I’ll be completing in London I started using nike+ which of course is connected to my iPod. It tracks calories, time, distance. It’s linked to a workout regime and goal setting, as well as making running routes.

I recently saw audio books available on itunes…it’s only a matter of time before I cave in a moment of weakness. Just to try it out. See if I like. Listen to it on my walk to Cole’s. It might be nice. Multitasking. It’d be school related, right? Apple is taking over my iLife. I’m in too deep. It’s connected to every aspect of my life. I can’t get out now – there may be hope for others, but not for me anymore. My name is Jessica Thomas and I am addicted to Apple’s iTunes.

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I want to believe people are innately good. I need to believe they are in order to live in this world, because if they are not then what is the purpose. It’s  funny the way humanity works. Often when we see the worst of it, it is coupled with the best. I feel this is exactly how my trip to Paris with Brigid went.

Before leaving, everyone told us how Paris was their favorite city. They loved Paris. We got on our plane with all the excitement of making a great choice. Walking through the airport we assumed our tourist roles taking photos of each other at the welcome sign, looking lost, and not speaking the language. We were on the train to our hostel for about 20 minutes when suddenly at one of the stops something happened. To this day I’m not entirely sure, nor is Brigid, what exactly took place. We witnessed a man chase down another man out of the train, throw him from the platform and on to the tracks, drag the mans limp body by his neck up from the tracks with his own face blackened, another man pull the emergency cord, and then the police being called why the one man sat on the back of the other man. (if you are confused and disoriented by this story, then you feel a fraction of how B and I felt). The man, Brigid and I took for dead, was thankfully only knocked unconscious was arrested and taken away. Unable to understand the language, not sure who was the good guy and who was the bad guy, and being in an unfamiliar country where the airport was guarded by men carrying semi-automatics, you can only imagine how terrified Brigid and I were from that moment on. The woman across from us just looked at us and said, “C’est Paris.” A couple stops later, the same woman looked at us before getting off the train and in English said, “Enjoy your trip to Paris. Please be safe.” Exactly what our mothers would have told us. We traveled through train stations with extreme caution after that. We were suspicious about everyone. When we got to the hostel we finally felt safe, but still opted to sleep in the same bed. You know, just in case.

The next day Brig and I had our bearings and we had the best day ever walking around seeing the sites. We did just that. Saw the sites.  Continuing Lindsay’s theory of us being “25% tourists” since we don’t actually “do” anything.  We would see something, take a picture of it, take a picture of each of us in front of it, and then keep moving.

It was too expensive to stick around to visit any of the galleries and not enough time. Our mission while we were there was to eat everything that was delicious and we did do that. We enjoyed great baguettes, a delicious meringue, a scrumptious pastry, and yummy crepes. The streets smelled too delicious from all the pastry shops to pass any of these goodies up. We survived Paris using two key phrases. Mine always being, “Je ne comprends pas” meaning “I don’t understand” and Brigid’s was always “Parlaz anglais?” meaning “Speak English?”

On the last day of our trip we visited Notre Dame and hung out in the Latin Quarter. While trying to find a cheap, sunny restaurant to sit down and enjoy a coffee a man came up to us. He asked us what kind of restaurant we were looking for and started making suggestions of where we could go. As he led us to a great place where we could sit and enjoy the view of Notre Dame he asked if he could join us. We agreed, he bought our coffees, and we talked about Paris and life. Where he’s from (Manchester), how he loves living in Paris, why we were visiting. I know what you are thinking, have these girls learned anything from the train! We did. We were on our guard. (We weren’t following him down dark alleys, or going back to his place. We were always in crowded places, we watched our drinks) Then he introduced to the most wonderful bookshop I have ever been in. Shakespeare and Co.

The walls are lined with books from the ceiling down. They are in piles in front of the shelves on tables, on the stairs leading up to the second floor. Writers such as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and Allen Ginsberg have been known to gather and work there. It was the most wonderful store in the world. It was if Charlie, our new friend, were the Beast giving us his library. Before leaving us to spend the afternoon consumed in books, Charlie, bought Brigid and I each a copy of The Little Prince, his favorite book. He even made sure the store stamped the inside of it with their logo. One of the steps in the store had “Live For Humanity” painted on it. I can not think of a better way for Brig and I to leave Paris, having seen the best of humanity after witnessing the worst. (Brig took a picture of the step, so perhaps I can post the pic later) It was a great trip with a bit of rocky start but I wouldn’t change a thing.

I especially wouldn’t change the conversation of buying the train ticket to Notre Dame with a French woman.

Me: un ticket to No-ter Dame (I’m spelling it how I said it)

French Woman responds with something in French in the form of a question.

Me: No.ter. dame.

French woman with confused expression on her face.

Brigd: Notre Dame.

French woman smiles: Oui

…. the time I got yelled at in French

French woman yelling in French

Me: je ne comprends pas.

French woman points and yells now

Me: je ne comprends pas

she walks away shaking her head.

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