“The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. …” Barack Obama

On November 6, crucial mid-term elections will determine the course of the country for the next two years and maybe beyond. In the US democracy is under attack and there is a noticeable drift toward intolerance and totalitarianism.

It is essential for every citizen to vote, and to vote wisely. This will require some homework and before casting your ballot you will have to do a bit of research.

You will need to do some a lot of reading (sigh) and not rely on television to get informed. Short television ads are funded by Political Action Committees whose main purpose is to sway and mislead voters.

If you care about this country, you absolutely must vote. No excuses. Democracy is often lost through indifference. Not voting is like deserting your unit in a firefight.

“Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.” Keith Ellison

You should vote for the common good and not for a few narrow interests. Coal production for instance is not good for the environment and should not be promoted to please a minority. Many viable alternatives are available and should be encouraged instead.

You also need to remember that the original motto of the United States (before being dumped by zealots in 1956) was E pluribus unum (out of many, one).
Our leader needs to unite us and not to pit us against each other.

To survive and flourish a country needs to be unified. Siding with the party of millionaires and bullies will only increase dissension and disunity.
Could the United States wield some much power and influence if they were not united? Definitely not.

It is not easy to figure out what is right and fair when the truth is blatantly distorted by deep pockets money.

But democracy is at stake.

Do yourself a big favor and research the candidates and the issues. Remember the Costa Concordia! An impetuous captain will drive his ship to the shoals. A good skipper will mull over his decision before putting his vessel in jeopardy.

United we stand, divided we fall.

It is as simple as that.


Remembering Henry

Yesterday we experienced an outpouring of love the like of which I have seldom witnessed. This heartfelt outflow of emotion was a tribute to a man who was much too briefly a member of our small community.

Henry Wessel, dog lover

You get to know a person over time and unfortunately some of us ran short of that commodity. Henry was like a shooting star that appeared and disappeared too quickly. He was a private and modest man who seldom talked about himself, but who cast a giant shadow. I always appreciated his good sense of humor and his quick wit. He was also a hard worker who did a lot to beautify our field.

He also struck me as a person eager to learn. When he first appeared on our field, he asked a lot of questions about the game and took a lot of video clips. He sought everybody’s advice and in a very short time, he became one of our best players.

Whenever he heard a French word or a French expression, he was always keen to learn its exact meaning. What does it mean? How do you spell it? How do you pronounce it? I was always pleased to oblige.

Yesterday, many people paid tribute to Henry. Mark Shirley, Tiaré Ferrari, Noel Marcovecchio, Sandra Shirkey, Doug Coleville, John-Philippe Wyek, Larry Cragg, Evan Falcone, and Bleys Rose were the voices of our various clubs.

We, of course, missed our Christine, but some tears were shed on her behalf. A few speakers (e.g. plucky Sandra) choked and could barely hold their tears while talking.

I was personally heartened to see Calvert again. We all missed her and it was a pleasure to have her on our field again. This Southern Belle is a resilient person and I am convinced that in due time she will be her old happy-go-lucky individual again. Her gracious sister Sally is helping her to remain seaworthy.

Mark Shirkey, Larry Cragg, and Tiaré did a great job putting this presentation together and ought to be warmly congratulated for their efforts.

After a potluck lunch, casual games sprouted spontaneously and a good time was held by all.

Henry left a huge void. He will be missed and will remain in our hearts “pour toujours” forever and a day.


PS: Feel free to download any of my photos, but when posting any of them on social media, due credit (Photos by Alain Efron) would be deeply appreciated. Merci.

Emotional support animals

Every human being needs love. And so do animals.
Some people are lucky to have experienced it, but many are not so fortunate. They are often desperately lonely and seek comfort with an ESA (emotional support animal). 

 Some humans find it surprising that practically any animal can be tamed and become “un animal de compagnie” (an emotional support animal). But some individuals have successfully managed to raise bears, hippos, wolves, lions, etc. and  bond with them.

All animals, regardless of their species, have a soul, feelings, and are definitely capable of love.

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” James Herriot

Unlike humans, animals’ feelings are unconditional. They will love you forever regardless of the circumstances.

Emotional support animals come in many shapes and colors. Most are cats and dogs but there are many other species. Mice, rabbits, birds, hedgehogs, rats, mini pigs, ferrets, squirrels, turtles, turkeys are fairly common.

“I never married because there was no need. I have three pets at home that answer the same purpose as a husband. I have a dog which growls every morning, a parrot which swears all afternoon, and a cat that comes home late at night.” Marie Corelli

 ESAs can travel free on most airlines. But there have been some excesses and airlines are cracking down on support animals and issuing tighter regulations.

Some people have tried to board planes with snakes, peacocks, monkeys, turkeys, penguins, duck chickens…

I am a staunch animal lover but I would not fancy flying to Paris with a talkative peacock seating next to me.

But I definitely understand the need for emotional support animals. They are like a child’s “blankie”. Indispensable.

Finally, regardless of what you choose as an ESA,  please do not try to take your smart pot-bellied pig everywhere. Common folks might not be as understanding as I am.