I might sound presumptuous, but I consider myself a rather congenial fellow… and generally speaking, I never refuse a friendship offer.

Eustache Le Sueur – A Gathering of Friends

From time to time, while slumming on Facebook, I get a “new friend request”. Usually, I take a quick look at the requestor’s homepage and if that person does not look like a serial killer, I generally accede to his/her demand.

Recently I received such a request from an attractive young woman. The message was in French and it piqued my interest. So after looking at the scant details of her homepage, I agreed to become “friend” with her.

Almost immediately I received another message from her inquiring in French “how I was doing?”

Two things struck me about this note. The first was that this young person whom I didn’t know, addressed me in a very informal manner. She used “tutoiement” (addressing me with the intimate “tu” form) and it bothered me a little.

English speaking people might not understand the distinction between “tutoiement” (the intimate form) and “vouvoiement” (formal form) but it is a sensitive matter.

“I admit to feeling, since then, an aversion to familiarity; originally, it must translate a confident intimacy, but if the people who “tutoie” are not intimate, it suddenly takes on an opposite meaning, it is the expression of rudeness, so that the world where the familiarity is common usage is not a world of general friendship, but a world of omnipresent disrespect.” Milan Kundera

The second thing was that the message was rife with spelling errors. For me, these two mistakes are “cardinal sins.”

Your initial friendship request is like applying for a job, and if you are serious about that position, you try to avoid any obvious “faux pas”. I am not a snob, but I still insist on elementary manners from the people who want to befriend me.
I accept warts and all from the people I have known for a long time, but I do not accept it from strangers.

And finally, what prompted this young woman to contact me? Do I project the image of a “chick magnet”? Maybe… but I cannot help it. Or is she a “croqueuse de diamants” (gold digger)? Sorry, I have very few of those left.

To make a long story short, I “unfriended” my overly eager groupie. It is better to have fewer friends than a lot of fake friends.


“God said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But, God or not, I hate to be addresses as “tu..” Pierre Desproges


A little while ago, a local pétanque player approached me and grilled me about becoming a “shooter”.

Honor Woodard

Well, I am not the most qualified person to give a pertinent answer, but I have my own beliefs…
First of all, anybody (regardless of age or sex) can be a shooter. You can start shooting at ten and keep going until your late eighties… maybe even later.

In order to become an acknowledged hitter, you need good eyesight, good coordination and a thick skin. A thick hide is necessary to shoulder the blame that will inevitably come your way after some lost games. A shooter’s failing is always more glaring than a pointer’s blunder.

“Champions all get kicked when they’re down.” Apolo Ohno

Then, you will need a lot of practice.
“Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, skillful, swift, and steady.” Bruce Lee

The shooter is usually recognized as the captain of the team and as the captain he has to make crucial decisions. The team relies on him/her to keep the enemy at bay. He is the sheepdog, the protector of the flock and he needs to strike when the opponents are getting too close.

But the defender has a limited amount of arrows in his quiver and he has to use each one judiciously. He has to decide when to strike or when to abstain and it is his prerogative.

The shooter also needs to exude confidence, the feeling that he can be relied upon. Just like airplane passengers put their trust in their pilot, teammates have to trust the shooter to get them out of a tight spot.

Shooting is exhilarating, but you can quickly go from hero to zero. And we all have bad hair days. Some days, despite trying hard, nothing works out. That’s when I invoke the deities on Mt Olympus.

The Olympians are capricious and just like human beings they can be easily offended. But they also have their “chouchou”. They will favor their protégé for a certain time and then lavish their affection on somebody else.

Just be sure to take advantage of the days when the gods had enough ambrosia for lunch. They are then magnanimous and even if you miss a shot, they will make your boule bounce on another boule and still score a point. Some ignorant people call it luck; I call it a gift from the Gods.

“True champions aren’t always the ones that win, but those with the most guts.” Mia Hamm

I do believe this. Audacity, then audacity again, always audacity!


Scented messages

Humans are vainglorious. Just because they are using messaging apps like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Wechat, etc. they believe that they are much smarter than animals.

Nothing could not be further from the truth… Way before the advent of the cell phone, beasties have been communicating  with means that are much more sophisticated than our pathetic little apps.

Scents are their invisible communication tool. Like cover intelligence agents, animals use “dead drops”. They surreptitiously leave encrypted messages in some selected spots and depart the scene with the same discreet way. Recipients retrieve their messages (sometimes in the dead of night) and respond, always with invisible ink.

My cat demands to go out every morning (at the same time) to check her “scented mail.” Nothing very different from what I am doing every day with my own computer.

Once outside, she first inspects the front of the house. She carefully sniffs every bush to see if there is any message. If she finds one, she reads it carefully with her nose. The more intricate the message, the more she concentrates.

Then she goes to the back of the house for the same meticulous inspection. No bush, flower or tree is left unchecked.

“Clearly, animals know more than we think, and think a great deal more than we know.”Irene M. Pepperberg

Message retrieving is important to my beastie. If I thwart her routine she gets understandingly upset and will show her displeasure by biting or scratching me, or both. I don’t hold a grudge; I understand the importance of keeping in touch with friends and acquaintances.

Once she has checked her mail, she goes for a nap because you cannot make a good decision without sleeping on it. And sleep she does. Probably ten hours a day…

 “I’ve met many thinkers and many cats, but the wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.”Hippolyte Taine

 So Silicon Valley hotshots don’t believe for a minute that you know best. Animals have untapped knowledge of and could teach you a thing or two.


PS: my cat is available for consultation