Archives for July 2006
My last update, over the weekend, was from Nice, which we used as a base to explore the area by car — Canes, Antibes, Villefranche-Sur-Mer, Monaco, etc. We dined in Villefranche that night. One of my favorite places in the south of France going way back. Oh, yea, we also did an afternoon in Saint Tropez (and yes, the Gendarme de St. Tropez building is still as it was in 1964) on the way to Nice. I used to live just an hour from there and I went often. Can’t get enough of looking at those yachts tied up in the harbor.
Upon departing Nice we took the auto-route and headed straight for Italy and its Cinque Terre region. I was due for three days of relaxing on the beach, so we decided to forgo Rome this trip and take a breather. We chose Monterosso and I loved just about everything about it — especially the part owner of the hotel we stayed at. 35 years on the job and you get good at it, and he is.
The auto-route along the Italian coast is an engineering marvel. It has got to be at least half tunnels and bridges. Some of the tunnels are more than a kilometer long. Imagine the Pacific Coast Highway drilled right through all those hills and mountains, with bridges connecting the tunnels in-between. Also imagine it’s a 4-lane highway. It went on like that for a good hundred miles, at least.
So we got to Florence yesterday with a brief, obligatory stop in Pisa for some obligatory photos. It really was a marvelous sight, in spite of the oppressive heat and humidity combined with huge crowds of people.
A side note on my trading, which I write about here as well. I had to spend a couple of hours on Monday in an Internet cafe in Monterosso (the notebook has GPRS, but I needed really fast). I was pretty sure that the welcome downtrend in the market was going to be on hold for options expiration week and that was confirmed in the first hour of trading Monday. So, I needed to go to work to protect some of my July positions against expiration. It came at a cost of about $7,000, but I rolled to more conservative positions for August. Great, $10k in the hole from this vacation, and now another seven?
I initiated a trade to make it back, plus another $7k, but couldn’t get it filled for the rest of the day Monday, then all day Tuesday. I was asking for too much of a credit on the spread. Anyway, due to the action on Monday and Tuesday, I was really expecting a big pop on Wednesday. So here we are at the Leaning Tower and I’m on my Treo’s web browser and managed to get that order canceled. The market popped big, as expected, and I re-entered that same trade this morning before the open, asking for a lot more credit on the spread. Got filled in the first few minutes and made $24,000 instead of the $7,000 I’d have received had I not cancelled before Wednesday’s open. So, the vacation is officially paid for.
We’ll be leaving Florence tomorrow and heading back towards Paris. We’ll have Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so it’s a comfortable drive and I plan to take it right up and over the Swiss Alps. That should be cool. It was great getting up to about 8 or 9 thousand feet going over the Pyrenees into Andorra a while back.
I just now realized that the entry right below this one seems to have gotten itself unpublished after I’m sure I published it. So, if you were one I’d sent a link out to and it didn’t work, it’s there now, though it applies to what was going on three days ago.
Franky, this is a piss-poor travel log. I’d had grand designs of publishing along the way, but I think that desire was based on the ability to publish from anywhere at any time — which is certainly cool — and not on a particular desire to share continuously. So you get the mish-mash, for now, but I promise to do a better writeup — if not soon — when I get back home. There will be a few hundred pretty good photos too. Those who remember the Kauai trip know I take decent pics.
Right now we’re in Nice, which is a bit of a disappointment. I’m not sure whether it’s because it has changed from 15 years ago, or just because it’s a holiday (Bastille Day, yesterday) and the whole stupid world is here and the local restaurants are catering to such stupidity by being stupid. Well, more on that later.
As I posted last, we were preparing to leave Arles for Avignon. I decided to take the auto-route, which took us through Nimes and within range of Le Pont du Gard. Do check out that link. This is the most amazing ancient construction I have ever seen.
If you look closely at that arch in the center, those are heads of people standing on the bridge. That gives you perspective on the enormity of this.
Most of all, this "monument" is the best thing I’ve seen so far because it wasn’t built as a monument. Though its arches are decorative, their function is to save construction costs. This aqueduct was started 19 years before Christ was born and finished 16 years prior. It carried 44 million gallons of water daily to the city of Nimes, which I guess is a place in which men saw potential that God had not. One must wonder why God, walking the earth for 30-some years, never acknowledged or alluded to such god-like feats on the part of his children. Huh?
So now it’s a monument. It’s a monument to the heroic and environmentally-controlling nature of man. It’s a monument to civilization and that which is at its very foundation: water.
I look at that construction, realizing it’s over 2,000 years old, realizing what it accomplished back then, and I am overwhelmed with feeling about how wondrous, how virtuous, how righteous, how holy is the very core nature of man — the essential being. Man qua man: the very defining standard of morality.
Then I go see monuments to Kings and Gods, and I get a very different picture of the nature of man:
How puny. How depraved. How insignificant, next to his bedfellow-betters: the church and the state.
You can have them both, in all of their miserable wretched glory; all of them.