Monday, December 26, 2011


We didn't do any dancing, but we have been getting out more now that I'm feeling a lot better. Tuesday, Jeff, Geoff, Robb and I drove to Maguire's Hill 16 for lunch. Geoff and Robb once again had the Fish and Chips, which Geoff swears is the best he's ever had outside of England. Jeff had the Lasagna Special and I had the Chicken Curry. Jeff liked his lasagna and the chicken curry was great. Jeff drank iced tea, while the rest of us had the Irish Cider. The cider is alcoholic but not overly so. After eating, we drove over to A1A, the road that runs along the ocean. We stopped at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort and spent several hours sitting on the veranda just a few feet from the shore.

Thursday, Robb and I drove down to Hollywood to check out a new French restaurant, Le Comptoir, about which I read a review online somewhere. All the reviews, except one, were raving about the food, the service and the excellent prices. We used to live in Hollywood, so we had no trouble finding it. Since we lived there, Hollywood has acquired a lot of cafes, most with sidewalk seating. But apparently, very few of them open before 17h00. We found that surprising since it is the middle of the tourist season and you would have thought there would be people sitting out there drinking and eating. The weather is great right now; not hot and not cold, so it was disconcerting to see virtually no one at the cafes and most of them closed till later. I had read that Hollywood had fallen on difficult times and I think this would go a long way to explain it.

Christmas Eve was nice. It started with a small holiday gathering in the lobby of our building. Several of the guys prepared snacks and dips with a variety of drinks. It wasn't a huge gathering of people, but it was nice and we met a couple of new people. We hung out and chatted for a couple hours, then we went up to our apartment, changed clothes and drove down to Le Comptoir in Hollywood. Le Comptoir, we discovered, is run by a French couple from Montmartre in Paris. The husband, who is also the chef doesn't speak English, but his wife and children (two girls and a boy) do. Our original plan was to have the moules avec frites (mussels with fries), but when we got there, we checked the menu and saw Canard a l'Orange (duck with orange sauce). It was excellent and way more than either of us could finish. We weren't going to have dessert, but when the madame mentioned it was a Bûche de Noël....well. It was great, of course. Our only disappointment was the espresso, but we were otherwise impressed, and we will return one day for the moules-frites.

Dumb Law of the Week: In North Carolina, it is a crime to move two hotel beds together!

Á la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Last Saturday (10 December), Robb drove our neighbor Dave and a couple of his friends over to see the 2011 Holiday Boat Show. They expected traffic to be heavy and Dave, in anticipation, had left his car at a friend's place on the water. Thursday night, as a way of thanking us for the favor, Dave had us over for dinner at his place across the hall, along with his friend Richard. He prepared an excellent meal of chicken parmigiana, with baked potatoes and spinach. Dave doesn't drink wine, so we brought our own Pinot Grigio. Everything was very good. We learned some interesting facts about Richard, who is from Jamaica. I didn't go so far as to ask how he supported himself, but I did find out that he doesn't work (he's around forty-ish). And he's been around Europe a bit, having been to Amsterdam and the south of France. 

Lunatics of the Year?  I mean, I've always heard the phrase " talking out your ass", but really, cell phones?

Obviously, it's time to start jailing some people, regardless of their age. Driver sent or got 11 texts in 11 min before crash

Dumb Law of the Week: In North Carolina, you cannot have sexual intercourse in a churchyard !
                  HAVE A HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Flash Gordon Returns

I went back to the doctor's office for what I thought was going to be a consultation with results of my stress test, but turned out to be another test. An echocardiogram. You know that thing they do with pregnant women when they smear the goo on her abdomen and use a 'wand' to get a picture of the baby? Well, an echocardiogram is the same thing, except of course, they're trying to see your heart. Apparently, it doesn't work that well through bone, and since the heart is behind your ribs, the technician had a difficult time trying to get a good picture. My next appointment isn't until 19 December, so I guess they'll do the consultation then. 

Skype co-founder's latest company signs deal with LightSquared, promises free broadband and voice services. I expect it will come with tons of advertising like most "free" things on the internet, but we'll see. 

Dumb Law of the Week: In Nevada, you cannot legally ride a camel on the highways!

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, December 05, 2011


I went for my stress test today. It was one of the most relaxing days I've ever spent in a doctor's office. The staff were extremely knowledgeable and friendly. I actually fell asleep during the so-called "stressful part."   My follow-up meeting with the doctor is on Wednesday.

If you needed any further proof that Americans are incredibly stupid and mentally ill, this should do the trick. Gun club invites children to pose with Santa... and their choice of firearm!

Dumb Law of the Week: In Nebraska, it is illegal to spit against the wind!

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Congressional Perks

The song seemed so appropriaste for this text.

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years. If you've ever wondered why our so-called representatives in Washington think about Medicare and Social Security differently than the rest of us, this may explain it. Our Senators and Congressmen do not pay into Social Security. Many years ago they voted in their own benefit plan. In more recent years, no congress person has felt the need to change it. For all practical purposes their plan works like this: When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die, except it may increase from time to time for cost of living adjustments. For example, former Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their wives may expect to draw $7,800,000 - that's Seven Million, Eight Hundred Thousand, with their wives drawing $275,000.00 during the last years of their lives. This is calculated on an average life span for each. Their cost for this excellent plan is $00.00. This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab for this plan. The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General Fund--our tax dollars at work! From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid) into --every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our employer) --we can expect to get an average $1,000 per month after retirement. Or, in other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000 monthly benefits for 68 years and one month to equal Senator Bill Bradley's benefits! Social Security could be very good if only one small change was made. And that change would be to jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from under the Senators and Congressmen. Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of us and then watch how fast they would fix it. If enough people are made familiar with this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe good changes will evolve. WE, each one of us... can make a difference. Start writing those letters and emails today. Get your Congressional people on the phone NOW and tell them you've had enough!

It would be really great if some of you with high-profile blogs would repeat this and ask your readers to repeat it also.  Perhaps we could get somemthing going.

Dumb Law of the Week: In Montana, a wife cannot open her Husband's mail!!

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blah Blah Blah

Spent most of the week feeling like crap...blah, blah, blah. My Primary Physician thought it might be helpful if I went for a heart stress test, so that is scheduled for the beginning of December. I've never had a heart problem and don't expect them to find anything, but it's a precaution.  My new doctor surprised me yesterday.  He called to simply see how I was doing.  I've NEVER had a doctor call me, much less just to inquire into my well-being.  He may be a keeper.

Dear Mobile Phone manufacturers, it is NOT necessary to have a volume control on the side, top, or bottom of the phone. Love, Bob

To ALL the stupid Hollywood TV writers out there. Why do you insist on putting the star of the show in a "life threatening" situation? Everybody in the whole damned world knows you are not going to kill the star of the show. If you can't write any better than that, get out of the business. Producers, what the hell is wrong with you, why don't you cut those stupid scripts and fire the writers?

I wonder how much the drug companies paid to get this ruling: Doctors: Test all kids for cholesterol by age 11 CHICAGO (AP) - Every child should be tested for high cholesterol as early as age 9 - surprising new advice from a government panel that suggests screening kids in grade school for a problem more common in middle age.

LHC May Have Found Crack in Modern Physics. In late 2008, a few onlookers believed that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) would bring the end of the world. Three years later, our planet remains intact, but the European particle smasher may have made its first crack in modern physics.

Dumb Law of the Week: In Minnesota, it is illegal to tease skunks!

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not Feeling So Good Myself

Was having trouble breathing for the past few days and finally forced myself to go to the Emergency Room last night. I was going to have Robb drive me, but then realized I didn't even have enough energy to get to the car, so we called 911. A funny thing happened when they came in to get me. The said they couldn't get the gurney into the apartment and could I walk? I thought they meant for me to walk downstairs, so I replied that I couldn't. Then they suggested I could sit in my office chair and be wheeled out. Seemed like a plan to me, but I had this vision of me being wheeled all the way downstairs. They, of course, only took me as far as the door where I got onto the gurney. As soon as they put the oxygen on me, I was fine. I knew that was all I really needed, but as far as I know, there is no place you can call and ask them send oxygen. We were at the hospital for about three hours and then came home. I'm hoping this little incident will convince my insurance company that I really do need an oxygen unit in the apartment, but knowing how insurance companies work, I very much doubt it.

So let's say there was a "Big Bang". What was it that went "bang?" Why did it go "bang"? Where did it come from? What was it doing before it went "bang"? If one "thing" went "bang", could something else go "bang" some day?

Anyone wonder where Sam and Dean on Supernatural get the money for the uniforms, disguises, badges, credit cards, motel rooms, food. etc, etc????

Hundreds of police officers in riot gear raided the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York City in the pre-dawn darkness Tuesday, evicted hundreds of demonstrators and demolished the tent city that was the epicenter of a movement protesting what participants call corporate greed and economic inequality.
Isn't it great to live in a FREE COUNTRY?!?!?! Oh wait, this isn't France where people are FREE to PROTEST!!!!!

Dumb Law of the Week: In Michigan, a woman's hair is property of her husband!

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Party Party

Our friend Dee retired from the library system after thirty-eight years with the County. Dee was the Building Maintenance Supervisor, and was responsible for all thirty-eight branches of the Broward County Library System. A big party was held Friday night at the Signature Grand in Davie, Florida, which is just west of Fort La-de-da. It is a huge place consisting solely of banquet rooms. There are at least ten of which I'm certain because I saw them the night of Dee's party, and all of them were full of people having some kind of social affair. Rosa, who put the thing together, was expecting about seventy-five people, but a hundred and forty showed up. It was so strange for me. I recognized almost everyone I saw but could not for the life of me, remember their names

Dumb Law of the Week: In Massachussets, it is illegal to Shave while Driving!

Bad Choice Logo of the Week:  Happy Man Bottle Stopper
À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cartoons Plus

The Case of the Haunted Golf Club.  How can you make people better at sports? Tell them they're using equipment that previously belonged to a professional athlete. No, really.....

Dumb Law of the Week:  In Maine, it is illegal having your shoelaces untied!

 À la prochaine, mes amis. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back To Europe

Our British friend Geoff, after years of complaining about the States and how much he hates it, has finally made the decision to go back to Europe. Of course, in typical Geoff fashion, he is waiting until next year to do it. Something about seeing who moves in next door to his apartment. What exactly that has to do with the decision to go, I don't really understand. He's not sure whether he wants to live in Spain or the south of France. He last lived in Benidorm, Spain before coming to the US, and he plans to rent a place there before making a final decision.  He hates city living, so will undoubtedly look for a place in the country with access to the amenities of a city.  The good news for us is that we'll have someone else to visit in Europe, if we can ever go again. In my current state of health, I can't even think of a trip like that, but who knows what improvements time may provide?

Turn Your Standard Vacuum into a Water Vac for $1.

This is super cool.  I have this nagging feeling I've seen it somewhere before. OmniTouch Promises to Turn Any Surface into a Multi-Touch Screen.

Dumb Law of the Week: In France, it is illegal to land a flying saucer in the vineyards!

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, October 17, 2011


It's just amazing what you can learn from the internet. The other day, a friend in France wrote on Twitter about celtuce. Celtuce is a lettuce family originating from southern China. It is named after its unique combination of characteristics, the celery-like stalks and the lettuce-like leaves. In China, the plant is grown mainly for the fat central stalk that is very crispy and tender. Young leaves can be used as lettuce for salads and stir-fry. Seeds do not germinate well at high temperature. It is suggested to sow seeds with seed trays in a cool area, and the seedling is transplanted later into open field.

Speaking of the amazing internet, I started reading The Hobbit online.  I love the idea that I can do that, but the truth is, it's difficult for me to sit in front of my 'puter and read text for any length of time. Four or five years ago when my eyes were a lot better, it would have been fine, but not now.  Another problem with the online book is the number of typos.  I guess they don't have a proof reader.  I ordered the book from the library. I'll continue to read online until the book arrives, and then I'll switch over.

Dark Matter: Now More Mysterious Than Ever.

GE's new factory will push out one solar panel every ten seconds.

Dumb Law of the Week: In Louisiana, it is illegal to Gargle in public!

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fish 'n' Chips

Friday, Robb, Geoff and I drove to Maguire's Hill 16, an Irish pub and restaurant. We all had the fish 'n' chips. Geoff said they were the best he's ever had in the US. I was rather disappointed. First, instead of 'chips', we were served regular French fries. Real chips are more like slices of potato. Secondly, the fish was a huge piece of cod. I like cod, but this was just too big and I ended up giving most of it to Geoff, who ate his and most of mine. There are several interesting looking items on the menu, so if we ever go back, Robb and I will try one of those.

Wouldn't it be great if mobile phone makers got together and made the batteries, the chargers and the USB cords all exactly the same? Or at least interchangeable within their own line?

Secrets of Aging

It's not TV: it's Nottv, Japan's new Smartphone-only TV station.

Dumb Law of the Week: In Lee County, Alabama it is illegal to sell peanuts after sundown on Wednesday.

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Euro Fiat

We wanted to get our Smart Car serviced, so Robb made a reservation with the Mercedes-Benz place up the road. Then, I got an advertisement that offered free service on our Smart if we would take a test drive in the 2012 Fiat 500. So off we went to Rick Case Fiat (which used to be Rick Case Smart, where we purchased our car). You've already guessed, right? Yep, we bought a 2012 Fiat 500. We had been talking about getting another car because, although I love the Smart, it's really too small and causes some problems when there is a third person involved in our plans. The Fiat has a back seat, something we didn't have with the Smart. It's rather small and cramped even for someone as small as Robb, but at least it's an option. I think the thing I like most about the Fiat, is the Bluetooth thingie. You simply turn it on and say, "Call Robb", then it asks, in a sexy female voice, "Do you want to call Robb?". You reply, "Yes" and it makes the call. I do kind of miss the automatic windshield wipers that came on when it started to rain, but I suppose I can get used to doing it manually.

Because we're about mid-way between its hangar and the baseball/football stadium, we get to see the Goodyear Blimp whenever a home game is scheduled.  Usually, it's over near the ocean shoreline, so it's not all that easy to get a photo.  But the other day, I was sitting on the balcon when I heard it and it seemed rather close.  I looked up and it was passing nearly directly overhead.

We Are the 99 Percent

Since my last comment about the euro, it has fallen to around $1.32. That's the lowest it has been in many years, and it appears the trend is continuing. It may soon be worth less than the dollar. The European Union countries are talking about dropping it. I think that would be a mistake for a couple of reasons. First, their own currency wasn't worth much before the euro. Secondly, it's makes it so convenient to travel to different countries without having to worry about exchanging the money. Of course, Italy has been talking about going back to the Lire since they first went to the euro, and that's one thing I'll never understand. Why would you want to go back to a currency for which you need a wheel-barrow to carry around enough to buy a loaf of bread?

Astronomers Reveal Supernova Factory

Dumb Law of the Week: In Indianapolis, it is illegal to kiss if you have a Moustache!

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Red, Red Wine

Sure, the wine rack is full now, but what about tomorrow?

The stained glass items were made by Robb's father.  He was just starting to learn, but arthitis forced him to give it up.  I thought he was rather talented for a beginner.

I couldn't stop laughing: Doritos creator dies, to be buried with chips

Can Neutrinos Move Faster Than Light?

Dumb Law of the Week: In Illinois,it is illegal to speak English as the State Language is American!

Bad Choice Logo of the Week:

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Every day for the past year, or more, I've been reading how the European Union is in serious danger of falling apart because several countries are close to bankruptcy. And yet, the euro is still worth forty cents more than the dollar. I don't get it. Either money investors are stupid, or the dollar is even worse off than anyone is telling us.

If you've ever wondered how stupid one must be to live in Texas, remember, they elected both George Bush and Rick Perry to the Texas Governor's office....more than once!

Have we found Luke Skywalker's Tatooine? A planet orbiting 2 stars spotted by Kepler.

La vue du Trocadéro de ce soir au coucher du soleil.

'Super-Earth', Could Potentially Support Life.

Dumb Law of the Week: In Globe, Arizona, it is illegal to play cards in the street with a Native American.

Bad Choice Logo of the Week:

À la prochaine, mes amis

Monday, September 12, 2011

WooHoo WiFi

I finally bought a WiFi router. It is a Netgear WNDR3700-N (the one on the left is the router, the modem's on the right). I love it. It's super fast. It works both wired and wireless. I noticed a huge difference in my connection speed once it was installed, which was super easy. My desktop PC is stilll connected by wire (though it's capable of WiFi) but I read in one of the tech magazines that wired is faster, and since I'm only about five feet from the router, it's not a major problem. If the mood should strike me, I can always disconnect the wire and run wireless. The biggest change (beside the great speed), is that now I don't have to steal my neighbor's WiFi when I want to use my laptop. I'm not even sure he's ever noticed my connectionn to him, I don't do it that often or for that long; just whenever I really need it. Now that I have my own WiFi, I can watch football and tweet at the same time in the living room.  I also bought a new modem, a Motorola SB6120 DOCSIS 3.0.  Actually, I bought it some time ago but could never get it to work until now.

His opponents couldn't ask for a better opportunity to comment: Campaigning outside Pittsburgh today, GOP frontrunner Rick Perry attended a picnic at St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Oil City where he enjoyed a foot long corndog while touring the fabulous reproduction of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.

New Fossils May Redraw Human Ancestry.

Dumb Law of the Week: In Florida, throwing dishes is illegal!

Bad Choice Logo of the Week:

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, September 05, 2011


 I am very slowly recovering, but I can see it's going to be quite a while, if ever, before I'm back to where I was before this all started.

On those rare occasions when I actually look up from my computer screen, this is what I usually see:

The other night, I noticed this shadow and thought it was interesting:

Daimler Smart Forvision: a solar-powered roof with plastic wheels.

Dumb Law of the Week: In Columbus, Georgia, you cannot sit in an 'Indecent' position!

Bad Choice Logo of the Week: MegaFlicks

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Just when I doubted the wisdom of our Washington leaders, along comes FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate who warned that damages could come as a result of Irene. I can sleep peacefully now knowing we're under the protection of such brilliant and capable people.

Presidents Cause Increased Homicides (And Suicides) 

Dumb Law of the Week: In Colorado, it is illegal to kiss a sleeping woman!

Bad Choice Logo of the Week:

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I've mentioned having cramps several times over the years. Thanks to one of my readers, Nadege, and my nephew Bob, I have a couple of remedies. Nadege, in a comment, wrote that her mother gave her Juvamine - magnésium + B6. Bob told me that when he was snorkeling, he got bad leg cramps and the guy at the snorkeling shop told him to drink Tonic Water. Something about the quinine in it that relieves cramps almost instantaneously. So far, I haven't had a reason to try either of them.

Small volcanoes add up to cooler climate. Airborne particles help explain why temperatures rose less last decade.

Test your Internet connection for signs of trouble. The ICSI Netalyzr

Dumb Law of the Week: In Clawson, Michigan, it is illegal for a man to sleep with his animals!

Bad Choice Logo of the Week:

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, August 15, 2011


15 August - I didn't mention this in my previous post(s), but when we were under the impression that I would need oxygen to fly back to the US, I tried to call my doctor to have him arrange for someone to meet me at the plane with an oxygen unit. He was absolutely no help what-so-ever. "It can't be done. You can't just go to the plane with a cannister of oxygen. Security will never let you in." To which I replied, "It is not possible that I will be the first person in the history of flying, that needed oxygen when he got off the plane. There must be a procedure in place for that." "Oh no, it can't be done. We will be happy to make an appointment for you to come to the office when you get back, but that's all we can do." So I did what he should have done, I called the Miami Airport. I was transferred several times and finally ended up talking to someone in Immigration (because I was coming from another country). They told me there was no problem at all, I simply had to get the captain of the plane to call ahead and someone would meet me at the plane with oxygen and a wheelchair. My doctor could have just as easily made that call and resolved the matter, but apparently he wasn't interested in actually helping, and that is why he is now my EX-doctor.

And you'd better believe I did call him and tell him that.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Humana is picking the tab for the French hospital.

As he usually does, Geoff wants to be friends again. At least this time, he admits that "we" have our "ups and downs". I truly believe he has no idea that he's lacking people skills. I'm amazed he was an airline steward for so many years. Of course, when confronted, he is a complete wuss. I suppose we'll get along for a while again and then he'll blow up over something really insignificant and meaningless, he won't talk to us for months and then come back and pretend nothing ever happened. It's very wearing.

Every Space Nerd Must Get This Thing For Their Bathtub

Dumb Law of the Week: In Chicago, it is illegal to go fishing in your PJs!

Bad Choice Logo of the Week:

À la prochaine, mes amis

Monday, August 08, 2011

Paris 2011 - Final

4 Aout - (Jeudi) - It has been four days since I entered this tiny room (maybe 10 by 10). The only time I've been out is when I go to the lobby while the maid is doing her thing. We even take our meals in here, and though the food is a definite improvement over the hospital, it's still not bistro quality.

Jeudi (Thursday), I got brave enough to try to go downstairs because I really, really would like to eat at a regular restaurant. We took the elevator to the ground floor, but once we walked the half mile to the exit, were confronted with steps. I'm not confident I can do steps yet, so that means we're screwed.....again. Only in Paris would they build a hospital that's NOT handicapped-friendly!

5 Aout (Vendredi) - 
I went back to the hospital for what I hoped would be my last time. The portable oxygen unit did not work and I have no idea why, so we went all the way with no oxygen. I rode in a wheelchair, so it didn't require much energy. They waited until I had been off the oxygen for about an hour and took a blood sample. The test came back very positive. My blood oxygen level was well within the normal range with no oxygen. The doctors decided I could fly with no oxygen on the plane. I'm not so sure that's a good idea, but I'm not a doctor.

Since, according to the French doctors, I don't need oxygen, we are going to fly on Open Skies (it used to be named L'Avion) a business-class-only airline on Sunday, if there are seats available. We will fly to Washington and from there to Fort Lauderdale.

Good news....we are booked on OpenSkies for Dimanche (Sunday) at Midi (noon)!!!

We went out for my first meal outside in the real world in three weeks. Of course, we went to the very first place we encountered, because I was walking very slowly, it was a relatively long walk, and I didn't want to overdue it on the first attempt. Aux Tours de Notre Dame is very touristy (of course) but the food is decent and I was so glad to be in a real café again, I could not care less about the bazillion tourists. While we were eating, it started pouring. I've never seen it rain so hard in Paris. We just let it run its course, and headed back to the room when it had stopped.

Here are some more pictures: CaféViewCafeView2le Jardin de l'Hôtel Dieu (Lower Level), le Jardin de l'Hôtel Dieu (Upper Level), Place Parvis (in front of Notre Dame), and a view toward Montparnassele Jardin de Hôtel Dieu (Best View), Dieu detailDieu EntranceGregorian Chant, a corner detailHospitel sign, and Aval'Tar, who represents all who have ever been in l'Hôpital Dieu (he was a real person). If you're in Paris and you want to see the jardin de l'Hôtel Dieu, it is open to the public and free. L'Hôtel Dieu is directly in front of Notre Dame.

And a short video from Hôtel Dieu showing the Panthéon and Notre Dame.
The last of the Paris 2011 pictures: A table ready for you, fleurs (flowers) outside the gardienne's office, the only window in our tiny room at l'Hospitel and the last Paris Rouge picture.

8 Aout (Lundi) - 
We are home after an exhausting 25-hour day. We got up at 08h00 (2 AM US) on Sunday morning. The Hospitel had promised us a van but reneged while we were out to dinner. Our last dinner was again at Aux Tours de Notre Dame. While we were eating, it started to pour. We waited till it had almost stopped and left. Robb demonstrated super strength by somehow managing to get all the bags down to the main hall, where the taxi driver picked them up and carried them to the taxi. Then we were off to Orly Sud, which is a lot closer to center Paris than CDG. It turned out we had even more time than we expected because our Open Skies flight was delayed. We spent the extra time in the VIP Lounge eating a petit dejeuner. We had the last two (of four) seats on the plane. If you've flown Open Skies, you know they serve champagne. Our steward, Kevin, was very responsive when asked to pose with the bottle.  If you haven't flown on Open Skies, Robb and I recommend it. It's easily worth the extra couple of shekels.

For some stupid reason, I decided we should fly to Washington instead of New York (you do hear the buzzer going crazy, don't you?). That was one of a couple of mistakes we will never make again. The only direct flight to Fort Lauderdale was by JetBlue (the other mistake we will never make again.) at 07h30 Monday morning. We settled for a connecting flight which required us to fly to New York and then home. Everything at every airport on the east coast was being delayed because of bad weather. We weren't even sure we would make the New York connection. Luckily for us, we did, but it was much later than we had hoped and we didn't get home until around 02h00. In addition to the many delays and other setbacks, the people at JetBlue seemed to be working in a daze and really did not seem to be in control at any time. Thankfully, the flight to Fort Lauderdale was smooth and I managed to sleep most of the way.

We got to bed around 03h00 and were up by 08h30, still exhausted.

You can see ALL the Paris pictures at Paris 2011

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Paris 2011-8

15 Juillet (Vendredi) - The day it all went to hell!

I was awakened around 03h00 with the most terrible cramp in my foot. Nothing I did could stop the excruciating pain. After an hour or so, the pain was making me sick, so I got up with the idea of going down to the toilet, just in case. Apparently, I made it to the bottom of the steps, where I passed out. I awoke some time later, gasping for air. No matter how I tried, I couldn't get my breath and breathe normally. I was laying against the bottom step and finding it difficult to move into a position in which I could breathe more easily. I finally was able to get to my hands and knees, and by leaning over could breathe a bit better but still not correctly. I tried laying flat on my stomache which caused me to throw up.

Needless to say, Robb was becoming more and more concerned.

I somehow managed to get to the sofa and sat there with my head on my arms on the coffee table. Robb decided to call for help. He consulted the guardiennne, who recommended calling les pompiers. They arrived and decided I needed to go to the hospital. Oh, and during all this, the only thing I was wearing was a night shirt and a towel. I got Robb to get me a pair of underwear so I wouldn't be totally naked and off we went.

I was taken to l'Hôtel Dieu, the oldest hospital in Paris, where it was determined that I must be moved to the ICU unit. ICU is interesting because they do everything for you. I was kind of embarrassed to be washed by two nurses.

I was in ICU for a week because they were supposed to move me to a regular room but had none available. All the medecins (doctors) and infirmières (nurses) in ICU were really, really nice and as friendly as they could be. There was kind of running joke about the food, which was the worst I have EVER eaten ANYWHERE. When they brought my first real meal, they asked how I liked it. I told them, "Comme la Tour d'Argent" (just like the Tour d'Argent, a very expensive restaurant in Paris).

After a few days the doctor came and told me I was moving to the other ward that day. A couple hours later, a guy showed up and said it would be the next day. That night, the night crew had a long meeting. When I told my night nurse (Alvee) I was moving tomorrow, he replied mysteriously, "Maybe". And sure enough, it was another day before I was moved.

When I got to the new room, I was the only one in a two-bed room. That didn't last long because they wheeled in another guy a couple hours later. I was somewhat disappointed because the ICU room had been private. The new guy, whom I dubbed 'Serge' because I think he was from Georgia (the Russian Georgia), spoke no English and his French was worse than mine, but somehow everyone seemed to be able to communicate with him.

That brings up another MAJOR problem; none of the doctors or nurses ever seemed to communicate with each other. Every time a new person came on the scene (which was almost daily), I had to explain my situation and hope they understood. Most of the time they did, but there were times when they didn't, and it was all because they did not talk to each other. One nurse actually told Robb she thought I was there because I had a drinking problem. I mean, we're talking very basic knowledge here people and she didn't know!

There were times in the new ward when I became so frustrated at the way they did, or did not, do things, I literally could have punched someone. An night I had a coughing fit. I called for the nurse. She came and I said, "Avez vous an medicament pour arret le toux?" (Do you have a medicine to stop this coughing?). She ran out of the room, screaming, "The English, the English." So she sends in the most arrogant, obnoxious asshole in the history of nursing. The moron comes into the room, comes to my bedside, stares out the window (never looking at me) and asks what I want. I asked him the same thing I had asked the bitch. He replied, "Monsieur, it is night time. If you want to make changes, you have to wait for the day time." I swear, if I had had the strength, I would have punched him in the face. Thankfully, they were the only two who were less than professional and way less than friendly. After that night, I never saw the asshole again.

My medecin, Docteur Chevalier, was a whirlwind or activity. She arranged for us to leave by Air France. She arranged for an ambulance to take me to the airport and get me on the plane. She arranged for l'oxygene (oxygen) on the plane. The only thing we had to do was pay for the tickets. Unfortunately, it all fell through when Air France went on strike the day before we were scheduled to leave. But that was the last time I ever saw her. Everything else was done through her assistants, most of whom spoke only limited English. I don't mind speaking and trying to understand French under normal conditions, but this is major stuff here and I would really like to be sure I understand and they understand.

An example of that is when Dr. Chevalier arranged for the Cardif company to give me an oxygen unit to use at home. I simply could not make them understand that I didn't want the unit, and I didn't need the unit, so it sits next to me at this moment.

Here's a short video from my room.

1 Aout (Lundi) - Because we couldn't leave on Sunday as planned, I was dismissed from the hospital on Monday. Fortunately, just like in St. Johns, there is a hostel (Hospitel) on the sixth floor of the hospital, and Robb got a room with two beds to which we moved with a lot of mis-communication, complaining and swearing (mostly by me).

Okay, speaking of Robb. He was not having such a great time either. Because I got sick in the last week we were to be in Paris, he had to move from the apartment, because it was already rented for the time after we left. Luckily, the guys (Olivier and Romaine) from Ah, Paris were super nice. They got him another apartment (a tiny studio) and helped him pack and move. But our bad luck continued, he could only have the apartment for a week and after a couple days, the elevator broke down. There was no way he could get all our luggage downstairs by himself. Again, Romaine to the rescue....sort of. They got the stuff loaded into a taxi, but they dumped Robb at the entrance to Hôtel Dieu and left him to fend for himself. According to Robb, when He told Romaine about the change of plans, he simply went to pieces and couldn't cope with it. But Robb is pretty resourceful and got all the luggage upstairs to our room.

They wheeled me over to the hostel, but the day manager (a woman) would not let us in. She kept yelling, "This is a hotel, this is not a hospital." Over and over. We finally left and went back to the hospital. About a half hour later, the hostel called and told them all was well, we could occupy the room. So they brought me back. And that's where we are ensconced at the moment. My first night of freedom was not so pleasant, but I'm fine now.

We had a very nice dinner in the room...with wine, bien sur!

Speaking of 'in the room'; that brings us to the next really nice thing that happened to me. The Cardif company representative brought a battery-operated oxygen unit to replace the plug-in unit. He also brought a portable unit so I could (if I felt up to it) leave the room and go to a restaurant. The portable unit lasts up to twelve hours, depending on what setting I put it on. Again, he did all this for free. I'm telling you folks, when these people are nice, they are REALLY nice!

The current plan is to stay here for a week in the hope that I will improve to the point where I won't need oxygen on the plane. Wish me luck with that!

You can see ALL the Paris pictures at Paris 2011

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Paris 2011-7

11 Juillet (Lundi) - We had to go back to the banque because Robb wanted to transfer more money to his French account and it required filling out a lot of forms.  It took quite a while.
After, we caught the bus to l'Opéra stop, after which, we walked past the Opéra to Celio.  Robb bought a nice shirt.  I was going to buy a pair of jeans but decided not.
We left Celio and walked to Galeries Lafayette.  What used to be Lafayette Homme (behind Bouchara), is now an H&M and it's for women only.  We crossed over the main Galeries Lafayette but decided fighting the crowds was too much and left.  We started back to catch the bus, but we stopped for a breather.  Then we noticed a lot of empty taxis held up by the traffic, so we jumped into one, gave him our address and....sat there.

It took forever in the rush hour traffic.  But we passed some nice churches on the route.  Saint Laurent, which I photographed way back in 1999 on one of our frequent trips to Gare de l'Est(when I could actually walk for miles and miles).  Église Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, which I've seen a few times, but was moving too quickly to get a shot.
We kind of decided, during the ride, to get off at the Franprix, instead of going to the apartment and walking back, but the driver turned down rue de Turenne since rue Saint-Claude is one way from there.  It was just as well, we dropped off our packages, made a pit-stop and went to the magasin (store).

Watched a TV show on France3 called "Copains" (Friends).  It was/is all about music from the late fifties and early sixties.  I think it's a weekly show.  The thing that really got to me was the way everyone looked so young.  I was young then also.  WOW!

12 Juillet (Mardi) - It rained most of the morning, but by the time I got out of bed, it had stopped.  We didn't make ay plans for the day because we believed the weather forecasters when they predicted rain for the day, off and on.

We did want to walk to Carrefour to get some stuff.  The Carrfour is a lot larger than the Franprix, which of course, means you can get things there that Franprix won't have.  It kept raining off and on for most of the afternoon, but finally seemed to be clearing up around 19h00 (7:00PM), so we took off and hoped for the best.

Just before we entered the Carrefour, we felt some intermittent drops and thought we had just beaten the rain.  But it never did get worse. We spent some time wandering around the store, trying to be cautious about what we bought because I can't carry too much weight.  Still we bought some nice wine and some stuff for dinner,  It's just amazing what you can get in Paris for only three or four euros.

13 Juillet (Mercredi) - The weather has turned chilly again.  Robb wanted to walk to Fontaine Sully because he thinks it's close.  A few years ago, I would have agreed.  I wore my leather jacket and my hat.  I considered wearing my scarf, but didn't.  Robb eventually shed his coat, but I was quite comfortable.

We finally made it to the restaurant and took the table at the window with the view of Hôtel de Sully, across the street.  We ordered a picher du vin rouge (St. Emilion) and a planche de fromage (plank of cheese).  There were five varieties and I only recognized two; the brie and the blue cheese.  But they were all great.  So we sat there eating cheese, drinking wine and watching the parade of people on rue Saint-Antoine.
After, we dashed into Monoprix to pick up a couple items, then walked up to the Saint-Paul bus stop for the 96.

When we got back to the apartment, I nodded off for at least an hour
14 Juillet (Juedi) - Le Quatorze.  The original plan was to go to the Esplanade des Invalides, meet some friends, drink a little wine and chill out until dark, when we would walk over to the Champs de Mars for the fireworks show.  But I decided that would be too much for me so we decided to just go to the Champs de Mars.  The problem was we weren't sure the bus would be running.  We checked with a friend who said the RATP had put up a special page for Le Quatorze, which we checked.  According to the RATP, all the busses were running.

We caught the 69 bus and started on what we thought was going to be our first Quatorze experience.

We were wrong.....again!

The bus ran it's normal route until it got to rue de Grenelle where it stopped and the driver told everyone to get off.  Incredible!  There's no way he didn't know he couldn't go all the way, why didn't he just tell us, instead of dumping us in the middle of nowhere?

This would have been bad enough if I was healthy, but in my less than stellar condition, it meant we would have to walk to the nearest bus stop, which turned out to be on Boulevard Saint Germain.  We made it to the bus stop and I figured we would have to take the 83 to Place d'Italie, get the 57 to Gare de Lyon, and finally get the 20 back to the apartment.  All of that turned out to be moot, because while waiting for the 83, we flagged a taxi.  We changed our mind about going to the apartment, and went to Fontaine Sully for dinner instead.

Once again, we've been screwed out of participating in Le Quatorze by the RATP and the city of Paris.

The REAL news will be in the next installment!

You can see ALL the Paris pictures at Paris 2011

À la prochaine, mes amis.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Paris 2011-6

8 Juillet (Vendredi) - Robb had aother appointment at the banque on Boulevard des Italiens today.  His regular conseiller (counselor) has taken off a couple months (we think she is getting married), so he did business with a really nice guy from the South of France, who spoke excellent English, and seemed to prefer it.

We encountered a slight drizzle on our walk to the bus stop.  Fortunately, we had both taken our parapluies (umbrellas).

As we passed the Monoprix on rue du Temple, we decided to get off at the next stop and walk back to it because Robb wanted to get another bottle of a cologne he really likes.  On the way back to the Monoprix, we stopped at a luggage place where I had bought a suitcase several years ago,  Just to have a look.  A French friend had told me it's very well known, and I can understand why.  The prices for their very good luggage are excellent.  Then we stopped quickly at Tati where I bought a European extension (the little black things are American to European adapters).  We finally made it to the Monoprix and Robb got his cologne, UdV (Ulric de Varens).  It's named in colors, I like the Blue.  When we went out to get the bus (the stop was just outside the Monoprix door), I took a picture of Église Sainte Elizabeth, just across the street. There was a guy in a wheelchair waiting for the bus and I managed to get a shot of the wheelchair extension from the bus.

At about 20h00, we walked down and caught the 96 bus to Saint Paul.  We had planned to take the métro from the Saint Paul station to the Étoile station, because both have escalators to the side walk.  But there is a taxi stand there also, so...  The taxi let us out in front of Pizza Trionfo, a place at which we had dinner several times a week last October.  It's basically a pizza place as one can tell from the name, but we almost always had the pâtes (pasta).  I liked all the pasta dishes, but I loved the pâtes bolognaise.  The only time I had a pizza there, I thought I was ordering tartiflette.  And it was a tartiflette pizza which was very good, but when you're expecting one thing and you get another, it's not the same.

Nino recognized us as soon as we walked through the door.  He thanked us for the carte postale we had sent from Fort Lauderdale and we chatted for a few minutes.  There was a sizable crowd in the restaurant.  I think we were the only non-French in the place.  An interesting point: even though it's an Italian restaurant and the proprietor's name is Nino, he's not Italian; he's Egyptian.  For desert, I had a créme caramel and Robb had the Parfait Café.  As usual, Nino gave us a digestif on the house.
9 Juillet (Samedi) - Laundry (jeans) and La Tour de France.

10 Juillet (Dimanche) - Aujourd'hui (today) we went to le Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of Arts and Crafts) which involved taking the same bus twice.  We had a choice; we could take the 20 to the end of the line and come back, or we could do what we did.  First, we rode to the next stop after the bank, and then we walked down to rue du Quatre-September, where we got the bus going in the opposite direction.  We got off at the Réaumur-Arts et Metier stop, which is just across the street from the musée.

The first thing you notice is L'Église Saint-Martin des Champs, which you can enter from the musée, but isn't part of it.  Regretfully, we did not go in for a look.  The second thing you see is the Statue of Liberty.  That now makes three of which I'm certain in Paris, but there could be more.

The musée has exhibits on three floors.  The first floor exhibit was a temporary show about the Paris métro system.  We didn't see that either.  But there was more than enough to see on the other two floors, including one of the first, if not the first, airplanes.  I'm not sure I'd want to take a flight in that.  The ceiling above the hanging plane is almost as spectacular as the plane.

The musée is large and filled with fascinating stuff.  We were there for about three hours and we didn't even see everything.  As well as the stuff in the musée, there were interesting things to see outside as well.

Afterward, we caught the bus back to the apartment, and decided to walk down to Comptoir Turenne for a drink and (for me) a rest.  I had a coupe de champagne, Robb had a Kir Royal, and we shared a dish of pommes frites (French fries).  While sitting there, I saw one of the famous Space Invader mosaics on the building next to the church on rue de Turenne.

Walking back to the apartment on rue Saint-Claude, I noticed a couple other graffiti-like things; the spaceman, the social comment and the very cool barber's sign.

You can see ALL the Paris pictures at Paris 2011
À la prochaine, mes amis.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Paris 2011-5

4 Juillet (Lundi) - I took an alprazolam (generic Xanax) last night, and for the first night since we've been here, slept straight through.  I'm somewhat susrprised I don't feel that much better, but I suspect my medicine has more to do with how I feel than my lack of sleep.  I have doubled my dosage to what it was before this doctor, to see if that's the problem, but it will take at least a week to see a result.

I haven't mentioned food in a couple days.  We have been eating 'at home', because I realized that at €100 or more per night, it would cost us almost $20,000 to eat out every night for three months.  We simply cannot afford that.  For whatever the reason, prices in this area are rather high.  We will eat out occasionally, but it probably won't be often.  That's one of the advantages of renting an apartment.

Robb was hot to buy another shirt.  He went back to the store where he had previously bought three shirts.  The shirt they sold him was a medium and he wears a small, so I accompanied him back to make the exchange.  Surprisingly, the clerk gave him no hassle at all and the exchange was made.

We decided to go back to Comptoir Turenne to get something to eat.  We had the same waiter and, apparently, I was right about the other day, because he greeted us warmly and provided excellent service.  We decided on the Chevre Chaud Salade.  It was huge!  Robb, of course, finished his, but I could only eat about three-quarters of mine.  As I am wont to do, I had a good look around and noticed that the ceiling had been painted as a map of the Marais.

On the way back to the apartment, I noticed an old door.  It's somewhat atypical of doors here.  Most are in better condition.

Our friend, Steve, came down with some kind of stomache problem, so we re-scheduled for Wednesday evening.

5 Juillet (Mardi) - The Musée d'Orsay has lent some of it's impressionist paintings to Hôtel de Ville which is showing them for free until the end of Juillet (July).  We hopped aboard the 96 bus and rode to the Hôtel de Ville stop, right across the street from city hall.  We walked to the main entrance, but had to go to the back entrance.  As we thought, there was a line waiting to be ushered into the show, luckily, it wasn't very long.  An interesting thing happened while we were waiting; there was a small group of kids with their teachers in front of us.  The guards looked over, saw them and then motioned them to go inside, ahead of the people waiting in line in front of them.

We finally were let in and it was well worth the wait.  There were actually two exhibits in the same place; the Impressionistes and La Construction du Nouvelle Paris (the costruction of New Paris).

The Nouvelle Paris exhibit was up a couple flights of stairs, but I was determined to see it.  It was worth the climb.  There were a lot of pictures of now famous buildings when they were new, or as they were being built, including some really great pictures of the new opera building, which we know today as Opéra Garnier, the old opéra.  There was a cast of the Théâtre de la Porte St. Martin, which I thought was the Théâtre de la Renaissance.  It's a great exhibit and if you're going to be here before the end of July, I really recommend it.'

Then, we went downstairs to view the Impressioniste paintings.  Again, easily worth the wait to get in, which because it has been here a couple weeks and will last until the end of July wasn't that long.  There were several artists in the show with whom I was unfamiliar, but I enjoyed seeing their works.  Of course, if you've been to the Orsay, you know they never show the complete collection at one time, there's just too many.

After our visit to l'Hôtel de Ville, we walked up to BHV Homme in the hope of getting some more bargain T-shirts.  I bought a couple and Robb bought one.

We left and walked to the 75 bus stop on rue des Archives.  We took the 75 to Place de la République, but got off at the wrong stop, so our walk back to the apartment was several blocks longer than necessary.  Fortunately, the weather in Paris right now is beautiful (low to mid 20'sC, 70's F).  Since we had to walk right past it, we stopped at Franprix and Robb bought some stuff, including another bottle of wine.

We heard from our friend Peter and, I think, we have a date for drinks tomorrow afternoon.

6 Juillet (Mercredi) - Last year, I complained because every place at which we stayed was undergoing some kind of construction.  Since we got to Paris this year, it had been nicely quite.  It now appears the peace is to be broken.  Just across the courtyard, workers are renovating what I think is an office.  Will someone please explain to me, why are the workers only noisy in the morning when I'm trying to sleep?

Peter stopped by around 14h30.  We drank some nice wine and, as usual, had a great conversation.  We started outside in our little jardin terrasse (garden terrace) but it started to sprinkle, so we moved inside.  During the course of the conversation, Peter asked if we had been to the church down the street (Église Saint-Denys-du-Saint-Sacrement).  We told him we had, but then, he mentioned the "Pietà" by Delacroix, which we had totally missed.  He did say it was in a dark corner, and the church was quite dark when we were there.  Now that we know it's there, we'll definitely make a point of going back to see it.

Around 18h30, we walked down to the Turenne/Saint-Claude bus stop.  Caught the bus and rode to the Hôtel de Ville stop.  We walked to rue des Archives and then, up to Les Marrionners, passing an empty Chez Tsou.  All the other places around Chez Tsou were busy, as usual.  We have eaten at Chez Tsou and liked it very much, so I don't understand why it's always nearly empty.

We ordered a picher du vin rouge and settled down to wait for Steve, who arrived straight from work.  We drank some wine and chatted for several hours, and made a tentative date to meet in Madrid, since he and "cheri" will there for a few days while we are there.  Then, Steve left while Robb and I decided to have dinner there.  We both had what Les Marrionners calls the "Croquita".  It's basically a croque monsieur, but the croquita is an open-faced sandwich with mozzarella, ham, tomatoes and Herbes de Provence.  It's very good and very filling.  It comes with a small salad.

We finished our dinner and walked down to rue François Miron to get the bus back to the apartment.

7 Juillet (Juedi) - Laundry and La Tour de France.  Robb made his daily trip to Franprix and a side trip to the pharmacie for acetone, because I had used Super Glue on my house booties and got a lot of it on my fingers.   I tried to watch la Tour at 13h00, but it wasn't on.  I thought maybe they had taken a day off.  I was starting to watch a tape of yesterday's action around 15h00 and figured I would try France2 once more, and there it was.  I don't know if you can watch this French website in the US, but thought I would include it just in case.  Laundry takes forever.  Washing is quick enough, but in order to have dry clothes, you need to run them through the drier at least three times. 
You can see all the Paris pictures at Paris 2011

À la prochaine, mes amis.