Winter pétanque

When you think of pétanque, what usually comes to mind is a bunch of people in shorts and sandals, drinking Pastis and talking with their hands.
But what about when the temperature drops below 30 degrees as was the case yesterday in Marin County?
Is it going to prevent die-hard pétanque fans from doing their thing?
No siree Bob!

A true “boulomane” will play in any type of weather. You just need to dress adequately that’s all. When it is really cold, if you don’t want to freeze your boules, long thermal underwear is highly recommended.
Generally speaking, as long as it doesn’t snow, “boulistes” will show on the field, eager to rumble.
Jacques Sarafian, our soon to be centenarian wouldn’t have it any other way.


The main problem when playing in subzero temperatures is that initially “boules” are very cold and difficult to handle.

Somebody once said, “find a need and fill it”. That’s good advice.
A far-seeing entrepreneur could start a “boule-warming stand” and, for a modest fee warm up your boules to a comfortable temperature.
He could also provide hot drinks such as “gløgg” or hot cider, and crêpes naturally.
Just an idea mind you, but worth considering. That’s the way kids are becoming millionaires nowadays; implementing screwy ideas.

In Europe, the ruling class used to laugh at anything that was not “mainstream”. It took a bunch of brash college dropouts (Zuckerberg, Jobs, Gates, Ellison) to set them straight. So, don’t ever laugh at a kid with screwy ideas; he might very well be the one laughing all the way to the bank!

Sunday turned out to be a nice day after all. Cool, sunny and pleasant. After 4:00 p.m. the sun disappeared behind the Civic Center and it started to be cold again.
Like a flock of sparrows, players dispersed and flew home.

As for me, I won one big dollar from Jacques Gautier.
Not a bad day after all!



The Living Dead

Here we are. Twenty thirteen. A brand new year. But like most Americans I have few reasons for being optimistic.
America is facing a lot of pressing problems and with an ever-deadlocked Congress I don’t see even a flicker of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Prior to being blissfully retired, I worked for a large corporation.
Every year I went through a “Performance Evaluation”.
I was given pen and pencil and asked to list my accomplishments for the year past. Based on those results I would or would not receive a pay raise. In case of really bad performance I could even face dismissal.

Unfortunately (sigh) this philosophy doesn’t seem to apply to our political fauna.
Regardless of their (meager) accomplishments, politicians are forever seeking reelection, without ever having their record scrutinized.

We need to understand that a politician’s Number One job is getting reelected. And this requires a lot of time and money. While trying to protect their job, politicians can’t waste their time dealing with national issues.
They will get reelected mainly by providing Pork for their constituency and by stonewalling issues like gun control, healthcare, etc.

If I had my way, any politician running for reelection would be required to make public the list of his achievements. For instance, how many bills did you sponsor last year? None? Interesting…
If those accomplishments were judged below par, the candidate would be disqualified from running again.

Lately, public perception of Congress has been extremely negative. Many people call it the Congress of the Living Dead.

According to Wikipedia, in 2006 members of Congress received a yearly salary of $165,200. Congressional leaders were paid $183,500 per year and the Speaker of the House of Representatives earned $212,100 annually.
And I am not even talking about perks!

That’s a lot of moola for subpar performance and unabashed junket trips (enjoyed by government officials at public expense).

In an ideal world, those incompetent hacks would be shown the door and asked to never show their faces again.

But politicians are a resilient kind.
After having been kicked out of Congress, many politicians focus on lucrative careers as lobbyists.
They are indeed the Living Dead. No matter how many times you kill them, they’ll come out of their graves to haunt you again.

So one more time, put ideologies aside and demand tangible results from your elected officials.
And compromise (regardless of what Tea Party zealots have been saying) has never been a dirty word.



Forwarding baloney

My mother used to say, “If it is in the newspaper, it must be true”.
Wrong! Utterly wrong!
Unfortunately, my mother (like many people of her generation) was very gullible.
If it was in the newspaper or even on the radio, it had to be the gospel truth.
Those educated people wouldn’t lie to you, she would say.
Well Mother, they did and they still do.

Keep in mind that any piece of writing (like this one) can be distorted, misquoted, or attributed to somebody else.
The same goes for the Internet. And there is practically no censure out there. It is up to you to decide what is accurate, what is misleading or what is worth forwarding.

Many people seem to be predisposed to believe gossips. Any gossip. And the juicier, the better.
Upon receiving something particularly outrageous, some people cannot wait to send a copy of that piece of baloney to all their “friends”.
They copy all their acquaintances (could be as many as fifty) and click the “forward button”. That piece of no-sense then flies over the Internet to promptly land into your mailbox.

Two things, right away.
Before forwarding anything to anybody, check the author and the accuracy of whatever you receive.
It is very easy.

Copy, and then paste the first sentence of any article into the search window of your browser.
Any reference to that sentence will generate a bunch of links, and it will be up to you to pass judgment as to the veracity of that document.
If you are satisfied with the author and the accuracy of the document, you can (carefully) forward it to somebody else.

But for crying out loud, don’t send this to a bunch of people using the Cc: (carbon copy) format. Doing this will expose the names and e-mail addresses of all the recipients to the prying eyes of Internet malfeasants.
They will harvest a maximum of names and addresses and sell them to eager buyers. Don’t be surprised to then be inundated with spam or even more dangerous schemes.

If you send a document to more than 3 people, absolutely use the Bcc: (blind carbon copy) format.
This way the names and addresses of the recipients won’t be visible to the other receivers and won’t put their addresses at risk.

Third, refrain from forwarding anything to more than your 3 BFF’s (Best Friend Forever).
Most of the time what you are forwarding is inaccurate and only plays in the hands of criminals and hate mongers.

Practice good Net etiquette, always use Bcc: utilize “forward” very very sparingly and never ever include my name in a mass mailing operation!

Thank you.