A Perspective on French Culture

New French Connection LogoRecently, I read an article about how France voted to ban cellphone usage entirely in the school system, exemplifying yet another stark difference between American culture.

And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing- in fact, I’m very fond of the idea. There are many aspects in general that are very appealing in my eyes.

Over the past school year, we did a variety of research on French culture, especially involving daily routines, food, and the educational system, and comparing our countries brought many things to light.

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A Tail of a Lot of Kittens

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Welcome to the 2nd season of  ‘A Tail of Three Kittens’!

NOW with more kittens than ever! 😅

It’s been a while- and a lot has happened since. I think we ‘may’ have a bit of a cat problem. See, our backyard has always been National Geographic- with cats, coyotes, (yes- an excellent combination), chipmunks, and the like. Up until recently, though, it’s only been our immediate cat family: Callie, Macintosh, Goldie, and Nutmeg, along with a few other occurrences. Evidently, word has gotten around though, and our ‘family’ has grown- significantly.

Let’s get started.

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Les Misérables Book Review Volume II: Cosette

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View the entire collection of 12 and Beyond’s summer book reviews (and more) here, and be sure to read my Fantine book review too.

Three hundred pages into the [full-length] novel, Les Misérables’ second volume, Cosette, still maintains its overall grandeur and elegance, and intertwines the same elements and perspectives that truly define the novel.

In this volume, a captivating tale is told of Jean Valjean’s escape from prison after being recaptured, and further proves Valjean’s righteousness as he rescues Cosette from her abusive caretakers, the Thenardiers, all the while under the pursuit of the inspector, Javert. 

At the strongest points in the volume, the story is suspenseful and exciting to follow, and takes the reader on an incredibly detailed and elaborate adventure, with no intricacy left out. The viewpoints and relations of all characters provide the reader with an omniscient comprehension of the events, which only serves to strengthen the magnitude of the volume’s impact.

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F. Seitz Concerto No. 5 (Mvt 1)

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It would appear as if I enjoy music too much.

Each week, I seem to drone on about the same things: “the emotion”, “the power”, “the beauty”… and yet as I discover more and more, music of all types still continues to astound me.

And while I do regret some of my musical choices from the past (*cough*), I still find there’s so much intricacy and passion to be evoked from each piece, something that makes each work extraordinary. Now, if you knew me, you’d know I’m not a very critical person- at all, which certainly has its downsides. But there’s something about music that just gets to me…

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Finding Area of Polygons Using Trigonometry

New It All Adds Up LogoWe covered a lot in Geometry this year, and overall, I found trigonometry to be one of the easiest units. Once you’re familiar with the mechanics, it all comes down to calculation. However, its implementation can be a bit more complicated, like in finding the surface area of a 2D shape with more than four sides, but the process is actually pretty cool.

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Rhode Island Photo Gallery

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At the beginning of July, my family and I took a weeklong vacation to Rhode Island, Newport in particular. I had an amazing time visiting the harbor, taking part in festivals, and swimming in the ocean, among many other adventures. Below, I’ve compiled several galleries of photos surrounding my favorite parts of the trip. For further details, many photos have attached captions for you to read.

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Dead Wake Book Review

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This post is the second in a series of Summer book reviews publishing to 12 and Beyond in the coming months. The full collection can be accessed here.

Of all the variety of literature that I’d been exposed to in Freshman English (ranging from Shakespeare’s sonnets to the satire Animal Farm), I’d yet to read a true nonfiction book this year.

But naturally, I’d resent having to read through one structured like a textbook, so I sought out one that was more of, well, an experience. And I found exactly that in Erik Larson’s Dead Wake.

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Interpreting French Writing

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In French class, we’ve practiced countless interpretive techniques, involving interpersonal communications, spoken responses, interpreting audio, and of course, writing.

In my opinion, writing in French is the easiest of all of these, simply because you can create workarounds to words you don’t know and still be successful in expressing what you desire. When you are presented with a written piece and asked to interpret it (like we had to do for our final), though, it’s a whole other story.

You essentially have to work with what you are given, as there’s no getting around the way the text is written, and what the text consists of. Often, it won’t be written in a way that you’d be used to (especially if it’s a native text).

There are still several techniques that can be used though to get the most out of understanding a piece of writing and improving your comprehension as a whole.

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Geometry of Circles

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For me, in Geometry this year, of all topics, circles were the one that I seemed to grasp most. Something about them just made sense, perhaps that every concept involving circles seems to tie back to a central point (pun intended).

Thinking about a circle on a simple level, a circle is made up of 360 degrees (which made understanding arcs a piece of cake), its circumference is 2πr, the area is πr^2, and every other aspect essentially builds upon these ideas. Given these, you can determine the values of interior angles built into the circle, find areas of inscribed/circumscribed shapes, and solve for almost any related missing aspect. We’ll try and get into a few of these today.

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F. Seitz Concerto No. 2 (Mvt 3)

New In Tune LogoThis Summer, in furthering my experience in music, I am beginning private viola lessons with Liam’s (who has been taking lessons for a while now) teacher, previous to which I only held experience playing in my school’s string orchestra.

In fact, my first lesson is today, and leading up to it I’ve been preparing the first part of a piece out of a Suzuki book, the Seitz Concerto No.2 Mvt. 3. It’s not incredibly difficult, and seems to be around my level of playing, although there will be some challenging sections to come. Overall though, I’ve definitely taken a strong liking to the piece.

The piece begins with a bright, fluent introduction that carries the main melody of the piece. The slightly staccato notes intertwined with grace notes and legato strings flow perfectly and sound very pretty. This melody gradually becomes more sophisticated, but maintains its expressiveness and impression.

Listening to the second half of the piece, a stark contrast takes place with what initially appears to be an insane amount of sequential sixteenth notes. However, listening to the piece being played while following the sheet music, their structure makes sense, following a coherent pattern.

In all, it’s going to be a good introductory piece to learn and play, especially as it’s presence takes a step farther from a structured, limited learning piece while still exhibiting the benefit of such, and maintains itself as a true classical piece of merit.

My favorite rendition of the piece on YouTube as performed by a viola player, Brian Clement, can be viewed here. You can also access my entire collection of In Tune features through the In Tune category or through the In Tune playlist on my YouTube channel.

Thank you for reading!

Gabe