Did you get my Signal?

Eddy Pay

In Marin County, some LPM club members are now using an app called “SignalPrivate Messenger”.

Under normal circumstances, we have traditionally played pétanque on Saturdays and Sundays. But due to the pandemic, nothing is ordinary anymore and many habits are evolving… and will soon become the norm.

Covid-19 is the main reason behind those changes. With a sharp increase of new cases, the authorities have been begging citizens to wear masks and avoid enclosed public areas. Since most everybody hates being cooped up for long periods and craves some kind of physical activity, pétanque has been a godsend. It is not a contact sport and everybody can enjoy himself/herself while keeping a safe distance.

And “habitués” have noticed a distinct increased activity in our field. We owe all of this to Eddy Pay. Eddy has talked our club into using “SignalPrivate Messenger” to allow club members to easily communicate with one another… and it is catching on. This app can be found in the App Store and has to be downloaded to your smartphone. After you have done that, you simply join a group called “LPM Casual Play” and you are ready to roll. Our club president Christine Cragg is also sold on this initiative and if you need additional help, she will be glad to oblige.

To communicate with any member of this group, you simply enter a query on your smartphone and wait for a reply. Something like “Who is playing today?” And you will probably get an answer from somebody.
To the best of my knowledge, more than a dozen people have already joined this group and are presently active on that network. This app is free, easy to install, and easy to use.  I recommend it to all our club members.

Eddy (who by the way is fluent in  6 foreign languages) is also very supportive and is always willing to show you the ropes. And as a bonus, you can probably question him in your own native language and he will respond in kind.

SignalPrivate Messenger is not extremely sophisticated, but it serves its purpose. If you want to know who is going to be on the field on a particular day or at a particular time, ask… and you shall receive.

Don’t be shy, send me a  Signal!



Flaming eyes Loël McPhee

2020 has been a very challenging year. The double whammy of the Covid-19 pandemic and the turmoil of the presidential election have traumatized and driven Americans apart. Recommended safety measures like social distancing and confinement have also exacerbated this already sensitive situation.

Being cooped up for weeks on end is hard on everybody. It is eerily akin to being locked up. The human being is a social animal who needs to mingle with his own kind regularly, and if unable to do so, he will become hostile and aggressive. And there has been a significant increase in cases of domestic violence to prove it.

Our club president, Christine Cragg, has been tirelessly working with the local authorities to allow us to play again and she finally succeeded in doing so. After many long months of inactivity, we are finally free to come to our field to do zoomies, wag our tails… and “en passant” play pétanque. Just like our four-legged friends’ next door!

But we are now playing a slightly different game called “Pandétanque”. It is very similar to the classic game, except that all players are now wearing masks. The purpose of this innovation is to protect some people’s fragile egos. After a defeat or a victory, nobody will know who is exulting or who is fuming. Isn’t this a great way to humor everybody?
Let’s not forget that our sports club also functions as a social club and it does wonders for your mental health.

Besides keeping our club alive, CC has also managed to recruit a sizable number of energetic young women. They are a much-needed and welcome addition to our club.

I am presently working on a new pétanque book tentatively called “Pandétanque.” If you can come up with a better title, let me know. To this effect, I am currently shooting additional pictures to add to my portfolio. If you look good without a mask, you will look even more attractive showing only your “yeux de braise”.
Don’t be surprised if I sneak up on you to snap a quick shot.

A book publication though requires a lot of preparation and calculations. To be affordable to all, the books have to be ordered in a quantity ranging from at least 15 to 20. The higher the order, the lower the price. To facilitate my task, let me know in advance if you intend to purchase such a book.

Parting thought:

If you have a few minutes to spare, please perform a small rain dance. We need the wet stuff more than we need oil.


Can you recognize a scam?

There’s a scam for everyone, and that means everyone is a potential victim. Susan Grant

Nowadays everybody has heard about or been exposed to some scam. They are usually fairly easy to recognize, but once in a while, you might get fooled… Especially when it involves a relative or a close friend.

Early yesterday I received a dramatic e-mail message from a French friend who told me that she just discovered that she had larynx cancer. She was in the hospital waiting to see an oncologist and could not talk because of her condition. The message said that I was the first person that she confided to and that she needed moral support… and a small favor.
This message was written in good French (scammers are often bad spellers) and addressed to me.

When a close friend is involved, you instinctively feel sympathetic and lower your guard… at least I do. I pride myself to be a reliable friend and a comrade in need always deserves assistance.

The story presented to me was a little convoluted, but basically, I was asked for some money… immediately. I was willing to help, but the process involved seemed a little strange. I was told to go to a “bar-tabac” (a tobacco shop) and “buy 3 TRANS-CASH reloading coupons of 150 € then send the RECH codes of each reloading coupon by E-mail.”

 First of all, to my knowledge, we have no tobacco shops in California and my friend (who had been there before) should have known that. Secondly, I have never heard of Trans-Cash and have no idea how to deal with this.

Then, I happened to mention this story to my friend Noël, and he immediately asked me if I was sure that this was not a scam. This question took me a little by surprise, and I slowly started to think that he might be right.

I grabbed my phone and called France to try to elucidate this tale. The phone rang and I was surprised to hear my friend’s voice. I told her what happened and she immediately informed me that it was a scam and that she was aware of it. Somehow her account had been hacked and all her friends had received a similar message.

I was shocked and relieved at the same time. I thought that I was a little more worldly than Joe Sixpack, but to my embarrassment, I swallowed that sob story hook, line, and sinker, and I was ready to send some cash.

To sum it up

Especially during the holidays (AND during the pandemic), scammers are working overtime to take advantage of charitable people. Before opening your heart (and your wallet) to anybody, make double-sure that everything is kosher,  and above board.