TEDx talks

I am a TEDx fan. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) provides informative and entertaining lectures on various subjects and in more than 100 languages.

Charmian Gooch, Vancouver Convention Center,  Canada. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Even though I watch many English spoken presentations, I remain (unsurprisingly) partial to French speakers. When you have been weaned of your mother tongue, it is a real treat to listen to accomplished lecturers articulating their ideas in a crisp, precise, literate French. Not the kind of street-French that you might hear around your friends or in movies.

Women particularly excel in these presentations. They are smart, lucid, convincing while expressing sometimes difficult notions to accept. And they are not afraid of calmly using four-letter words to buttress their cases.

I recently watched a few lectures dealing with relationships and marriages, and it was illuminating. Most of the people enter relationships in a secondary state called “love.” During this period, they are not being objective. They want to please and will avoid conflicts, even if something is highly irritating to them.

After a while, the fog of love subsides, and the protagonists are starting to see things more clearly. The object of their affection is not perfect and starts to lose his/her shine. And they don’t know how to cope with it. They don’t know because nobody ever taught them how to deal with these kinds of conflicts.
The first reaction of an offended person is usually to hit back. The other person retaliates and that’s when everything starts to unravel.

Before rushing into any kind of amorous relationship, it would be very beneficial for everybody involved to attend some of these lectures. And the great thing about them is that they are free, and you don’t have to go anywhere to watch them. You can stay home, tune to YouTube, and voila…
I am usually watching programs in French or in English, but TEDx is available in a multitude of languages.

In Ted talks, nothing is taboo. The speakers (usually experts in their respective fields) will tackle any subject with brio. And you have to be a good public speaker to do this. Sex, infidelity, swinging, pornography… The very subjects that nobody dared to talk about publicly in the ’50s… especially in communist fighting America… or in Trumpland.
But those things are real and need to be talked about.

TEDx is not only about sex. It is about matters that everybody ought to be knowledgeable about… and are not. And that they often refuse to explore.

Never mind the TV networks and their dull and insipid offerings; TEDx is there and ready for you.
Go for it, and you will be happy you did it.


Far from the eyes…

The French say  « Loin des yeux, loin du cœur. » Literally “far from the eyes, far from the heart”. But it is not always true.

Our dear friend Colette Van Der Meulen who followed her husband to New Mexico a few years ago has never been far from our hearts. She is a delightful person, with an ever-ready smile and a hearty laugh. You feel good just standing next to her.

We are saddened to learn that her husband just passed away at age 47 from cancer complications. He was not a pétanque player and we seldom saw him on the field, but as Colette’s husband, he was part of our pétanque family. Our heart goes out to Colette and her loved ones at this difficult time.

I didn’t know much about the man and I have always deplored this gap about the people we know. It is often after he/she passes away that we learn more about a person we have known for years. Few people knew for instance knew that my friend Jack Rosenstein (who passed away 10 years ago) was a sergeant in the US army, an outstanding telegrapher and a Morse code virtuoso during WWII.

Toward the end of the war, he was summoned to Eisenhower’s headquarters in Reims, France, and was asked to contact the Germans (through his Morse “bug”) to invite them to surrender. After a few rebuffs, they responded positively and my friend was one of the first people in the world to learn about the German surrender.

He witnessed the official signing marking the end of the hostilities at a Little Red Schoolhouse in Reims, when on May 7, 1945, German general Alfred Gustav Jodl formally surrendered to the Allies.

When somebody joins our club, it might be a good idea to ask him/her to provide a few notes outlining his/her life and career. I was delighted for instance to learn yesterday that Lamorinda’s Eddy Pay was for 27 years a San Francisco cable-car operator. One of my earliest memory, when I came to the city, was of course to hitch a ride on a cable-car. It might even have been a car operated by Eddy!

You will find a few pictures of Colette in “My Photos”.

Enjoy, and if you have a chance, let her know that she will always occupy a warm place in our hearts and that we often think about her.


Laugh while you can

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Laugh while you can, because the minute you stop laughing, you start dying.
Today. the world is begging for a Covid-19 vaccine… and a good laugh. And not necessarily in this order.

Never mind the politically-correct naysayers. Laugh at nothing and everything, it is good medicine. Laugh at death, religion, politics, race, sex, disease… There is no taboo anymore; laugh at everything instead of wallowing in sorrow.
Laughter is universal and more powerful than the coronavirus. It is more contagious and even if you wear a mask, it will get to you.

Laughter is also highly versatile. It can seduce or destroy. When used skillfully, it can breach any wall and drive people to surrender.
The best way to seduce a woman for instance is to make her laugh. If she laughs at your jokes, she likes you and will be putty in your hands.
Marylin said it before I did.

“If you can make a woman laugh, you can make her do anything.” ― Marilyn Monroe

Laughter can also be weaponized. Make people laugh at somebody’s expense, and he/she will be hobbled for quite a while. Can you take seriously, somebody who has been mercilessly ridiculed? The present occupant of the White House ought to know.

“It has not been easy for me … My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.” October 26, 2015, on NBC’s “TODAY” show.

This clearly demonstrates that the only way to make a small fortune is to start with a big one!

A great part of anybody’s charm is an easy laugh. Regardless of how you look, if you can make people laugh, they will take you into their hearts. If handsome (but obviously dull) Christian de Neuvilette could have made Roxane laugh, he would not have needed Cyrano.

Let’s conclude with some more laughter:

A little more determination!
One morning, a man pinched his wife’s buttocks, saying: “If you tightened that up a bit, we could get rid of your girdle and your compression stockings”
She was miffed, but she said nothing.

The next morning, he woke her up by pinching her breasts and said: “You know if you tightened that up, we could get rid of your bra.”

That was too much. She turned around, grabbed him by the penis, and said:
“You know if you tightened that up a bit, we could get rid of the gardener, the postman, the pool washer, and your brother…”