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.