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So much of Paris merges together when viewed from the step of Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre, in part because new construction in Paris was limited to 121 feet (37 meters) as of 1977. One notable exception is the Montparnasse Tower at 689 feet (210 meters), which is quite visible in this photo from yesterday evening—the height limitation was imposed in reaction to the construction of this building in 1973, whose size and appearance were loudly criticised. (By comparison, the Eiffel Tower is 1,063 feet tall (324 meters.)

In case you are curious, the giant ferris wheel is a temporary structure in the Tuileries Garden for what I think is a Christmas market. When I first arrived in Paris, the circular portion of the wheel was only partially completed. Since that time, the wheel was completed, cabins were added, and, as of yesterday, the wheel was moving, probably in test mode.

In recent years, the rules on construction have been relaxed and some taller buildings are planned, primarily on the outer edges of the Paris. I highly recommend an article at newweek.com entitled “Will Skyscrapers Ruin Paris?” that argues, in part, that the traditional architecture of the city is part of what sets the city apart from others in the world.

Here is one thought-provoking paragraph from the article:

“When a dense area has low buildings, it forces residents to interact and puts more life out on the streets—a large part of what gives Paris its character. According to Swiss writer and philosopher Alain de Botton, five stories is the ideal height of a city building because anything higher begins to make us feel “insignificant, small, and trivial”—all words rarely used to describe life in the City of Lights. It’s no wonder artists and scholars have flocked to Paris for years for inspiration. Would the same be true if the spirit of Paris were essentially locked away in modern towers?”

In the 1942 classic movie Casablanca (my all-time favorite movie), Rick (Humphrey Bogart) famously told his ex-lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), “We’ll alway have Paris.” Will we?

Montparnasse Tower

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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I am in awe of the way that children experience the world. This morning I read a wonderful posting about some of the lessons that we can learn from a two year old, written by Nick and Kate, a couple in a “typical English village:” with their “4 wild but wonderful children.”

Check out their awesome blogs tingsha.co.uk and carterandwild.com and be sure to click through  the link in this re-blog to see the text of the entire original post. I am confident that it will brighten your day as much as it did for me.

tingsha

Our walk home from town this morning took about three times as long as usual. As we were walking I was watching my daughter and realised I had a lot to learn from her.

Lesson 1-Patience

At the age of 2, everything is just a little bit harder to do.

Watching her put a handful of daisies into her pocket so she could collect more took forever. She didn’t once get frustrated or give up.

One by one, very slowly and carefully the daisies were stashed away for safe keeping.

In an age where we can buy something and have it delivered the same day, google questions from our phone at super fast speeds, get meals out in an instant without even exiting the car and watch an entire season of a tv series on demand, we are so used to instant results and instant gratification that we live our…

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As I walked through frosty streets in the early hours of Christmas morning, I could see lots of colored lights adorning the houses of my neighbors. What really drew my eyes, though, was the sliver of the moon shining brightly in the darkness—it was simultaneously modest and spectacular. It brought to mind some words from the first chapter of the Gospel of John, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

As my pastor reminded us last night, Christmas comes in ordinary ways to everyday people like us and it is a season of hope and expectation. No matter what you believe or what you choose to celebrate, we can all use more light and hope in our lives and today is a good day to be reminded of that.

Christmas moon

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Why were the Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) prancing about on Saturday with their heads tilted upward and their wings displayed? Surely this was some kind of elaborate courting ritual.

As Tina Turner famously sang, “What’s love got to do with it?” Apparently this is how these herons defend their feeding territories. Really? According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, one of my favorite sources of information on birds, “Great Blue Herons defend feeding territories from other herons with dramatic displays in which the birds approach intruders with their head thrown back, wings outstretched, and bill pointing skyward.”

If only we could be so dignified in expressing our differences instead of squawking loudly and aggressively at each other.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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So you  think you can dance? You might have trouble keeping up with my great nephew, who showed off some of his amazing moves at this past weekend’s wedding. It was such a joy to watch the uninhibited movements of this two year old in action.

Most adults, including me, have lost that innocent sense of spontaneity, which is a little sad.

brayden6_web

brayden3_web

brayden5_web

dance2_web

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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For months I have observed this large screw-like tool partially buried in the ground at my local marshland park and gradually rusting with the passage of time. Was it deliberately abandoned during a construction project? Was it accidentally left behind?  Will it be used in the spring to bore more holes into the earth?

Is it a symbol of abandoned hopes and plans, of dreams that never came to fruition? I leave the interpretation to others.

screwed

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I recently experienced a sharp increase in the number of views of my blog and went from 628 to 4723 views in a single week.  One of my posts has had an amazing 3235 views to date. What happened? Have I learned a secret to boosting my viewer statistics?

As you might have guessed from the photos that I have reprised below, the post in question is my 4 November posting Rescue of an Injured Bald Eagle. Within my WordPress world, the post was reasonably successful and sixty viewers “liked” it, but that’s not enough to account for the boost.

The most important key to getting more viewers, I think, is finding viewers from outside of WordPress. I sometimes cross-post on Facebook account and in a few Facebook groups to which I belong and will get some additional views, but generally only a few.

I’ve looked back at all that transpired and here is the “formula” that led to my “success.” First, take photos of an event that is newsworthy, has broad appeal, and preferably has police involvement. The police departments, it seems, are always looking for good news stories, and I sent copies of my photos to the officer who made the rescue. The Fairfax County Police Department posted my photos (with attribution) on their blog on 5 November and included a link to my blog posting. This got the ball rolling, it seems.

The next step is to enlist the aid of the mass media in publicizing your blog and keep them updated. I suspect that news outlets troll the police sites for stories and suddenly I started receiving requests from reporters to use the photos in the on-line versions of their television or radio stations—I don’t think the photos appeared in print. I gave approval each time that I was asked, but requested attribution by name and, if possible, a link back to my blog.

The local Fox station and the local NBC station were the most cooperative and did articles that used my photos, excerpts from the text of my blog, and included links to my blog. The Fox article brought in more than 750 viewers and the NBC article brought in over 100 viewers. WTOP, a local news radio station, was similarly cooperative. I made sure to keep these reporters in the loop when I first received information that the eagle was euthanized and all they did updates on the story.

What about the others? Several news outlets, most notably The Washington Post, used my photos with attribution, though they did not request permission or link back to my blog in any way. It was really cool to see the Post use one of my photos in articles on 5 November and 6 November, but it had no effect on my blog statistics. The local ABC station WJLA also gave attribution when they used my photo in an article. I ran across a couple of instances in which my photos were used and they were attributed to “a park visitor” or to the police department.

I came across the photos, with attribution, in several local community news sites and in a couple of other Fox site as well. The euthanization decision was carried by the Associated Press, but, alas, they did not use a photo.

I think I understand better now how I had such an increase in viewers, but I realize that the experience is not easily replicable and the results were short-lived. After the temporary spike in views, I have returned to more normal levels. I enjoyed the brief moment in the spotlight and learned a lot about how stories enter into the news cycle, but I am content to return to my smaller world of walking the trails, in search of new photographic adventure.

 

Bald Eagle rescue

Bald Eagle rescue

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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