Time travelers

With fires raging all over California, Marin has been without power for the last 48 hours and it feels like we traveled a hundred years back in time.

Suddenly deprived of electricity, heat, the Internet, computer, television and other modern conveniences we were in an instant thrown back to the dark ages… an eerie an uneasy feeling.

The scariest part though was the realization of how vulnerable our infrastructures are. Without power, mighty California ceases to function and we are as impotent as a Banana Republic.

Our grandparents were much better prepared than us for such stressful conditions. They faced early powerless cold nights without apprehension.
Did you ever wonder by the way, why they had such large families? Well, let’s see… early darkness, cold nights, no internet, no television, no videogames…
Let’s go to bed to keep warm… and be productive.

So, are we better off today than we were one hundred years ago? It is open to question…

In Marin county, the power was cut off Saturday evening, around 8:30 pm. Initially, it was not too bad except for the fact we are not used to wandering in complete darkness. My cat did not seem to mind, but I did.

With invading obscurity and little to do, I went to bed around 6:30 pm and woke up at 2:00 pm. Went to the bathroom with tentative steps and after hitting a few things went back to bed again.

Like many people, we were woefully unprepared for this eventuality. We had some food but with an uncooperative electric stove, we could not cook anything.

After calling my brother in Sonoma we were greatly surprised to hear that its denizens had power. We later discovered that this was due to the fact that their electric lines are running underground. Why aren’t ours?

We then decided to escape our stricken environment and have some breakfast in this oasis. In Sonoma, we stopped at what was once known as the old Basque Bakery. The coffee was Lukewarm and the pasties stale. A far cry of what this old establishment used to be.

We then ambled to the pétanque field for a little practice. Tamara is now aiming to play the game as a “shooter” and wanted practice. I was surprised by how well she did. This dame has potential and with a little preparation, she will confound many. Watch out for the Russian Sniper!

For lunch we went to the new Picazo Kitchen & Bar. A newly renovated establishment serving American/Mexican food. It was decent and reasonable.

Back in Marin around 4:00 pm. Power came back Sunday evening around 6:00 pm.

Bracing again for new power shutoff.

Many thanks by the way to all the first responders. Firemen, policemen, civic leaders… They are all doing a  magnificent job. Thank you again.


All the King’s men

An unlearned king is nothing but a crowned ass.  Henry I

Once upon a time… a baby was born into a wealthy family. Well-wishers from all over the world were summoned to offer gifts and blessings.

Numerous people (some on camels) came to rhapsodize and pay homage to the newborn sleeping in the golden manger. Two good fairies (friends of the family) also came and each blessed the child with a single valuable gift.

But a third hunchbacked fairy who lived in a hut in the nearby forest was not invited and took offense of the slight. Stirring a mysterious cauldron, she then said: this child will be successful… but…

if he ever breaks his covenant with the people who anointed him, if he lies more than 1000 times in his lifetime, his fall will be swift and calamitous”.

 The baby grew up, and propped up by family and business acquaintances he became wealthy and… arrogant. Surrounded by sycophants, he could do no wrong… and even when he did, the faux-pas would be quickly swept under the rug and forgotten.

Even though pathetically misinformed, the man became opinionated and narcissistic. Just like a third-rate potentate, he demanded that his name and picture be posted in prominent places.

He became so imbued with himself that he slowly began to think that he should be king of his country. A king he heard, was a man who could do or say anything without fear of being contradicted, and he found the idea very appealing.

He practiced playing king with his immediate entourage and he was pleased with the results. All his youthful blunders and flagrant shortcoming were whited out from the books and the public at large was treated to the grandiose accomplishments of the would-be king.

And to universal surprise, he was anointed by some to rule over the others… Many people were shocked, but not the hunchbacked fairy. She had kept a thorough tally of all the King’s fabulations, and the needle on her pressure valve was slowly inching toward the red zone.

The king did not seem to be aware of it… but his barons started to fret.

The ticker tape machine keeping a tab of all the king’s fabulations is inching towards a critical zone,  and the hunchbacked fairy is snickering under her breath.

The royal vessel is running an erratic course and seems to be bound for the jagged reefs already heard in the distance… and there are very few lifeboats… Save Our Souls!


Lamorinda 30th anniversary

Yesterday, the Bay Area pétanque fraternity was invited to celebrate Lamorinda 30th anniversary and many devotees eagerly responded to the invite.

Fifty-two players (52) accompanied by family and well-wishers came running… and I am also happy to report that for once, at least 12 members of La Pétanque Marinière found the vigor to attend.

Pascal Gravier (Lamonrida’s president) outdid himself to make this event memorable. He even invited Mike Anderson (Lafayette’s mayor) to throw the first boule of the tournament and the mayor obligingly complied.

La pièce de résistance” of the event was a giant astonishing birthday cake crafted by “maître-pâtissier” Jean-Claude Etallaz. I hate to use this superlative, but damn, it was awesome! Don’t tell anybody but I had two servings of it.

Tidbits: Daniel Genini completed his 90th parachute jump. Saperlipopette!
Met Julie Hackett: who introduced herself. Extremely nice and charming young lady.

Now about the tournament!
It was well organized and well-run with the First and Last Names of all participants properly spelled, printed and posted for all to see.

We started playing around 9:30 am and completed 3 timed games before lunch. In the afternoon, as usual, we started to compete for the Concours and Consolante. Tamara and I barely managed to win a single game and were sent packing after our 5th game.

But this was part of my strategy. After leaving the competition, I put away my boules and unsheathed my camera.

Some people believe that I have the gift of ubiquity, but this not quite accurate. I can only be at one place at a time and you will normally find me where the light conditions are most favorable for photography. If you don’t see yourself in my new photo album, it is probably because you played in a shaded area.

The tournament attracted a bunch of very good players and the competition was fierce. Not being able (yet) to be at two places at the same time, I opted to pay closer attention to the Concours than to the Consolante.

In the semifinals, Peter Mathis and Holly Sammons faced Mickey Coughlin and Barbara Hall. It started very badly for Mickey and Barbara. At one point they were led 3 to 8 by Peter and Holly. It did not look good, but they did not give up. Little by little, they came back to reach 10/11.
At this moment, anybody could have won, but finally, Mathis/Sammons prevailed and won the match 13/10.
One of the most interesting game of the tournament, with all the players, playing extremely well.

In the Concours finals, Peter and Holly came against Fue Vang and Mae Her Vang, the same people who trounced us in the morning.

Fue has an unorthodox style of shooting but can be very accurate; Mae points very well. But against Peter and Holly, they seemed to freeze and were unable to score a single point. Needless to say that Peter shot extremely well and Holly kept her usual steady cool.
The game ended sadly by a Fanny: 13/0.

On the Consolante side, Serge Hanne and Dolzee Austin battled Carlos Couto and Beth Lysten, the same miscreants who beat us 13/4 earlier.

Peter Mathis and Holly Sammons

1st place: Peter Mathis and Holly Sammons – $ 120.00 for each
2nd place: Fue Vang and Mae Her Vang – $80.00 each
3rd place: Mickey Coughlin and Barbara Hall – $60.00 each

1st place: Carlos Couto and Beth Lysten – $48.00 each
2nd place: Serge Hanne and Dolzee Austin – $32.00 each
3rd place: Jean-Claude Bunand and Liliane Sebban – $20.00 each


 Enjoy the pictures!