Archive for Corsica

innumerazione

Posted in Kids, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , on September 5, 2021 by xi'an

While vacationing in Corsica, I spotted this poster all over town (Bastia). About the weight of recycled garbage in Corsica. Its congratulation smelled somewhat fishy and trying to argue the point with my family I looked at what it meant in meaningful units….

Since the weight of 8 Eiffel Towers is about 80,000 tons and there are about 340,000 people residing in Corsica, this means 235kg are recycled by an average Corsican (if the figure does not include agriculture, industry, and service recycling). Which sounds close to the national figures, when considering the average 580kg of personal garbage produced by the average French. However, this statistic does not account for the likely impact of tourists (like us) on the figures. Considering that there are about 3 million tourists visiting Corsica every year, with [the conservative figure of] an average stay of one week, assuming that they recycle as well, the figure per inhabitant gets down. (This impact can also be spotted in the raw [!] figures per month, which are triple in August, when the majority of tourists is visiting, than in March.) Hence the figure is not so conclusive…

a journal of the plague year² [new semester looming]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2021 by xi'an

Returned from Corsica with two relaxed weeks where hardly anyone was anywhere in Paris, including the University. Which made plenty of room for preparing the incoming lectures of my undergraduate course (in Paris), cleaning our garden (and saving tons kilos of tomatoes from mildew into tomato sauce),

and cutting some of the fast-invading pumpkin vines,and finishing reviews of grants, papers and PhD theses.

Still some time for reading, including the very final volume of the Yalta Boulevard series, Victory Square, which sticks rather closely to the fall of the Ceausescu regime (a proximity acknowledged by the author), but also contains shocking (to me) revelations and some somewhat unrealistic foreign excursions. Nonetheless enjoyable enough to see the quintet as a formidable collection. Also read a short book on the non-elucidated murder of a Moroccan worker in Corsica, Les Invisibles, which I had bought while there. The style is a bit heavy and journalistic, and it certainly does not avoid clichés, but the report on the exploitation of North Africa seasonal workers by vegetable producers there is gripping (if reproducing identical patterns seen from Andalusia to Puglia…)

Watched two Kenshin movies [out of five] as well as some bits of the hilarious and rather silly very light Mystic Pop-up Bar series [with a lot of fast-forwards during my watch]. At the start, Kenshin is a prolific manga series set at the emergence of the Meiji era, series that ran from 1994 to  1999. And following a swordsman, Hitokiri Battōsai, who reminded me  (to some extent) of the 16th century samurai Miyamoto Musashi.

Monte Sant’eliseo

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2021 by xi'an

the traitor Baru Cormorant [book review]

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , on August 25, 2021 by xi'an

“I deal in costs, not faiths.”

I read The Traitor Baru Cormoran by Seth Dickinson over my Corsican vacations, as it was saved on a Kindle conveniently available… I had this book courtesy of Tor, as one free book of the month, and I did not know what to expect. In the end, I read the book over two days as I could not let go!, and I found it a great story, despite its shaky moral stand, which makes the title sound like an understatement. And leaves me with a feeling of being swindled by the author when finishing the book!

“Without any outward sign or motion, in the wreckage of herself, she donned her armor, made it firm around her heart. Raise her mask: a cold discipline, a steel beneath her skin. Grow comfortable, she told herself. It will never come off.”

The story is a Venetian variation, in that a Republic uses trade to conquer nearby duchies and turn the local inhabitants into its own citizens. While imposing its restrictive moral rules and repressing dissent. I have read it in half a dozen books, at least, but this particular variation is nonetheless fresh, due to the novelty in the depiction of the alternative cultures and the strength and depth of most of its characters. They really come to life under the pen of Seth Dickinson and it hurts to see them go when they die, mostly unexpectedly.There is furthermore a mathematical flavour to the story in that the main character Badu Cormoran is (spoiler alert!), an accountant, elected to high functions by a common entrance exam! A less palatable connection with our field is the enforcement of experimental eugenic policies throughout the empire. The final section is a page-turner as the description of a major battle and of its consequence. Again I have read dozens of such descriptions, including the volume long battle of A Memory of Light that brought the Wheel of Time to its close, but this one is quite gripping and not the end of the story. As written above, the main reservation I have about the plot is that Badu is too nicely rendered for her deeds. She has become the mask she was planning to use to bring the Empire down. I was unaware while reading it that this book was the first in a trilogy: the author could and maybe should have stopped at the final scene, which is both the most devastating and the most brilliant part, but also from which it seems impossible to recover…

GR²⁰ [at last!]

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2021 by xi'an

On the last day of our vacations in Corsica, we hiked a little bit of the mythical GR20, a hiking trail that crosses Corsica from North-West (Calenzana) to South-East (Conca), with fabulous landscapes and difficult paths. I had bought the guide book for this trail in the late 70’s, hoping for a completion in the subsequent years, but this was actually my very first hike on it!

The hike to the Lavu di Nino from Poppaghia was not particularly difficult, with only a short section involving minor scrambling and a 700m climb over 5 kilometers, arriving at the nice lake with its pozzine ponds and free ranging cows and horses, under the noon sun.

From there, the prospect of climbing down the abrupt section was somewhat daunting, so my wife and daughter continued on the GR20 instead, going up an extra 100m and then down 500m over 10km of so.

During our break at the lake, an civil defence helicopter made a landing nearby, presumably to rescue a hiker injured on the trail or incapacitated by the unreasonable heat. Since our car was parked at the beginning of our hike, I ran down back there, drove to the junction with the GR20, and ran up to meet with my daughter, then my wife, after two hours, only to turn back and return to the car with them.This was a very enjoyable conclusion to our trip, with great views and spectacular trees in the forested parts. Making me hope I could return under more clement weather, eg in winter!

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