A new look

Here we are. A new look!
After countless hours of intensive labor, the site of Le Cochonnet Marin has morphed into a blog.
The old website is still on line, but all new entries will be posted on this blog until I decide whether to continue with this format or go back to the website format.

I am watching you!

The basic difference between a blog and a website is that on a website the main page and all the other pages contain static information.
On a blog, the front page constantly changes. New entries will show up in a chronological order and the last post will appear on top of all the other entries.
On blogs (at least on majority of blogs) visitors can leave comments and interact with the “blogger”; this can be very helpful to the blogger in determining what to put on his site.

I like the look and the feel of the blog, but it has a few inconveniences.
Posting new entries is cumbersome and labor intensive. Inserting text and images require more steps and is more time consuming than the website format.
This program also lacks a variety of fonts to choose from, but altogether I think that this blog looks sleeker and more contemporary than the website!
I’ll let you judge.

I am trying to keep this site simple and uncluttered. A blog needs to remain spartan because after a while it can become untidy and difficult to navigate.
By the way, if you get lost while navigating, click on the “Home” button to bring you back to the “home page”.

Feel free to leave comments and suggestions. They can be very helpful to me.
When you leave a comment you will be asked to leave your name and e-mail address and whether you would like to be notified of new posts via e-mail. If you agree, you will be automatically notified of a new post.

Keep in mind that this site is a work in progress and that it will evolve as time goes by. I rely on my readers to let me know what they would like to see, and what could to be changed or improved.

Don’t forget to “bookmark” this site https://cochonnetmarin.com in order to easily get back to it.

Thank you for your attention.



Lamorinda, August 19, 2012

Yesterday I was at Lamorinda to compete in the first Annual Lamorinda Cup Tournament.
The format was Select Mixed Doubles and I had invited chicken farmer Sabine Mattei to be my wingchick.
This tournament attracted some heavyweights (Peter Mathis, Mickey Coughlin, Gilles Karpowicz, Alain Gusella, PJ Mallette, Dan Feaster, etc.) and the event promised to be lively.
Coffee and croissants were served before the tournament. Coffee was particularly welcome since it proved to be rather chilly in the morning. It became hot in the afternoon (hot enough to wear my shorts), and cool again after 5:00 p.m.

Etienne Rijkheer (who elected not to play) and “Carreau-Lina” Jones were the circus masters.
Since I was playing, it proved a little difficult to collect all the facts and tidbits, but here is what I remember.

Thirty three (33) select mixed doublettes enrolled to play. Three eleven points untimed games were to be played before lunch, and 13 points eliminatory games for the Concours and Consolante A and B in the afternoon.

After a rather inauspicious beginning (we almost lost our first game), Sabine and I won our first 3 games in the morning and were marshaled into the Concours.

After lunch, in our first game of the Concours, we faced le Facteur (Jean-Michel Poulnot) and la Factrice (Tamara Efron). It does my heart good to report that we brought them down to their knees. I might finally be able to sleep at night after defeating my longtime nemesis. It feels gooood to say so.

On our second game, we faced Trish and John Harris. Never heard of them, but we were told that they were good players. They were indeed.
After an auspicious start, we finally lost (10/13) to them after an epic struggle. The game hung in the balance until the last minute and we were defeated I am sorry to say, due to two capital errors of judgment of my part.
We lost and I am the only person to blame for it, but I don’t feel too bad barely losing to a team that made it to the finals.
Sabine did an excellent pointing job and should be recognized for doing so. Here is to you wingchick!

I would like to add that the Lamorinda field is very challenging (especially for those who are not used to it), and that’s where you separate the men from the boys. Winning in Lamorinda is indeed an honor.

Apéritifs and munchies were served after the tournament.

Final results (compliments of Etienne Rijkheer):

CONCOURS  (16 Teams)
1st place: Peter Mathis and Holly Sammons, VOMPC
2nd place: John Harris and Trish Harris, Oakhurst Pétanque Club
3rd place: Mickey Coughlin and Nicole Coughlin, Redwood Empire Boules Club
4th place: Carl and Linda Mottscheidler, Fresno Pétanque Club

1st place: Alain Gusella and Phim Nielsen, La Boule d’Or
2nd place: Beth Lysten and Daniel Genini, Lamorinda Pétanque Club
3rd place: Peter Wellington and Teri Sirico, VOMPC and Petaluma Valley Pétanque Club

1st place: By Vang and May Lee, Fresno Pétanque Club
2nd place: Carlos Couto and Carolina Jones, Lamorinda Pétanque Club

Thank you Lamorinda for a fun day and a job well done!


Tantalus torment

Last night I was watching an episode of “Julia and Jacques cooking at home” where the legendary twosome were demonstrating the proper way to make “Crêpes Suzette”.
It looked mouth watering and I was salivating like a basset begging for a hot dog.
But this dish (like many others alas) is now off-limits to me!
Sugar, Grand Marnier, Cognac… Those things that I took for granted in my youth are not allowed to touch my lips anymore.
Alas, alas, alas!

For the last thirty years I have been afflicted with Type 2 Diabetes and I have to follow a very strict diet to keep that condition from worsening.
Sugar, carbs, alcohol… Those devilish aphrodisiacs are now strictly verboten.
Like Tantalus, I am constantly exposed to tempting dishes, but not allowed to satisfy my cravings. Over my head hangs Damocles sword and if I overplay my hand it will some day come crashing down on little old me.

I check my blood glucose every day and my glucometer is quick to tell me if I have broken my sacred covenant with the medical establishment. If the readings are out of the recommended range, I feel remorseful about my careless behavior.
Like all addicts, I swear that I will forsake sugar and all its vicious cousins forever.

But I am only human, and once in a while I fall off the wagon and surrender to debauchery. I indulge in some deadly sins; I will drink booze and have a sugar fix under the table. I do it quickly so that those watching me won’t notice, but my glucometer (my medical ankle monitor) does.

In the morning it will accusingly produce damning figures, and demand that I change my evil ways. I promise, but the flesh is weak… especially when Satan (in the form of Jacques) baits me with such scrumptious dishes.
Damn you Jacques… I mean Satan.
Let me confess, and let me have the absolution. I won’t do it again (soon), I promise…

But it is extremely difficult for somebody who was born in the land of Escoffier to keep those promises. I will sin again I know, but you will have to forgive me because there is no greater sin than to abstain from foods that make the Gods themselves cry.





Most of us live in a bubble called the “comfort zone”. That’s where people and things are familiar, and where we feel most anxiety-free.

But changes are unavoidable, and the transition from the comfort of our bubble to some unknown territory can be difficult and stressful. It is therefore better to embrace a new paradigm early than to fight an angry and futile rear-guard battle.

For the last 2 or 3 years I have been using an Apple application to produce this website, but due to fact that this program will soon be obsolete, I have decided to migrate to another piece of software.

As I said, changes can be painful and I am now compelled to tackle an unfamiliar program and relearn once familiar routines. It is not easy and (like Saint Michael) I am struggling to tame the dragon.

But the most satisfying undertakings in life are self-taught; when you are not coerced to walk in step and when instead, you take it upon yourself to learn and master a new discipline.

That’s why at “la rentrée” (when people in France–including government- are returning home after a long summer vacation) this website will have a new look. It will be more functional, easier to navigate, and have among many new features an “archival” capability. It means that you will be able you to look at articles, editorials, etc. that were published in the past and are not accessible on this site anymore.

Mastering a new program can be an arduous task and I am still struggling with a few features. But I am an obstinate bastard and the recalcitrant components are falling in line one by one.

I hope that very shortly now you will be able to feast your eyes on my new blog.

In the meantime, share this site with your friends and keep comments and suggestions coming. It is always greatly appreciated.

Hasta la vista!





Glücklich, chanceux, lucky, afortunado, udashni…

The word “lucky” exists in most languages and has many disciples. People who believe and pray for happy accidents.

Luck is this indefinable quality that brings good fortune upon somebody by chance, rather than through one’s own deliberate actions.

Be it in sports, finance, love, war, being lucky is a blessing that few can do without. Being accomplished at something is good, but being lucky is definitely better. All successful people have one day been enormously lucky.

But luck is a fickle lady. She has to be wooed properly. One date is not sufficient to win her heart. If you want more luck, you have to be more proactive and be more willing to take chances. “Luck, like the old Trabant car, generally only works if you push it. “

In pétanque for instance, in order to win, it is better to take a chance on a risky shot rather than to concede a point, for Lady Luck smiles upon the audacious. If you miss your target the Lady might be willing to grant you a few bonus points just for trying.

And you cannot win at the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.

Luck has also something to do with being in the right place at the right time.

Seneca (Roman philosopher), wrote, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

As an amateur photographer I try to always carry a camera with me, for you never know when the “one-in-a-thousand” shot is going to pop up. If a magnificent rainbow suddenly appears, you better be ready to bag it.

Like a flighty woman, Lady Luck will give you only a small window of opportunity to take advantage of her benevolent mood.

If you are not ready, you won’t be lucky.

To conclude:

I believe in luck: how else can you explain the success of those you dislike?” Jean Cocteau



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A few days ago, somebody I knew fairly well passed away.
I learned about it through an e-mail from my ex-wife.
Oddly enough it left me cold. It left me unmoved because our old bond withered and broke a long time ago.

But such is the way of relationships. Just like living things they live and die. When properly nurtured, they thrive. When neglected, they shrivel and disintegrate.

Relationships are born out of a common desire to share and enjoy similar interests. It could be food, art, sport, sex, anything that two people take pleasure in doing together.

But relationships are eminently fragile and fraught with perils.

As the French say:
« En amour Il y a toujours celui qui embrasse et celui qui tend la joue » (in love there is always one who kisses and one who offers the cheek).

After many kisses, one gets tired of getting the cheek.

Because relationships, regardless how neatly packaged, are always a trade. And to be durable, the balance of payments should be even.

Subconsciously or not, one keeps track of shared experiences.
If it is perceived that the relationship is lopsided, ties will fray and break.
If when going go to a restaurant with a friend, you always end up with the tab, a few strands of the rope will break.

Relationships are like tango: it takes two to do it properly.

The minute one seems to lose interest, it is up to the other person to sense it and to rekindle the romance. If it is not mended on a timely basis, the relationship, like an old hemp rope, will unravel and break.

And that’s what happened to my old connection. It seems that neither of us were keen to pursue a limping partnership, so we parted ways.

It happened a long time ago.

Now, no crocodile tears shed, just the fading memory of things past.



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La bataille de l’Elysée

La 24eme bataille de l’Elysée est terminée et François Hollande sera officiellement investi des pouvoirs présidentiels le 15 mai 2012.

Cérémonie solennelle mais sobre (comme le demande un président anti-bling bling), gardes républicains, poignées de main, passation des pouvoirs.

Viendra ensuite, si ce n’est déjà fait, le partage du gâteau. L’on n’en parlera pas en public (ce serait indécent de montrer une curée), mais les chefs de file de la 24eme croisade sont en droit d’espérer quelques morceaux de choix.

Depuis des temps immémoriaux, le partage du butin a toujours été une affaire délicate et tout le monde se souvient encore du Vase de Soissons.

Les centurions qui se sont battus de taille et d’estoc entendent bien récolter leur poids en sel. Les autres de même.

Et une attention particulière doit être donnée a ceux (Marine le Pen : 17,90% et Jean-Luc Melenchon: 11, 10%) qui ont rassemblé un grand nombre de voix. Car comme a dit Le Parrain: « Sois proche de tes amis, et plus proche encore de tes ennemis »

L’on pourra se permettre de négliger sans trop de risques Eva Joly (2,31%) et les deux “Trotskyists” Philippe Poutou (1,15%) et Nathalie Arnaud (0,56%)

Tous les chefs de file brigueront des postes de ministre et comme il n’y a seulement que 32 postes (autant que d’ânes dans un pré) a octroyer, il va falloir jouer serré.

Les fidèles qui seront adoubés parleront évidemment de leur devoir de servir la patrie, mais ne vous méprenez pas. L’ambition personnelle prime toujours le bien de la nation.
L’on ne devient pas ministre par amour de la patrie, mais plutôt pour paver un éventuel chemin vers l’Elysée.

Pour DSK le partage du butin aurait été plus facile. Si il avait été élu, il aurait probablement offert a ses mignons quelques parties fines et tout aurait été dit.

En attendant, toute la France est suspendue aux lèvres du Président qui est dans la position peu enviable d’avoir promis beaucoup et de ne pouvoir offrir que peu.



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Mais la vie sépare…

Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s’aiment
Tout doucement, sans faire de bruit…

But life separates those who love each other
Very slowly, very quietly …

In 1945 Jacques Prévert wrote a beautiful poem called “les feuilles mortes”  (the dead leaves) in which he laments the passage of time and the pain of lost love.

In life, this is a recurring theme. With the advent of globalization, people are more prone to leave friends and lovers behind to resettle in another state or even another country.

Those that were once close to you are suddenly living in the foggy beyond of the universe and you might not hear from them for a long time. Out of sight, out of heart, goes a French saying, and it is sadly true.

You tend to dismiss people you don’t see on a regular basis.

But should old friends be disposable items? I think not.

New friends are good, but old friends, like old sweaters, are more comfortable to wear. You know their qualities and their flaws, and you are less likely to be offended by their antics, for it is often the memory of youthful stunts that binds you together. A little bit like cellmates or army buddies.

But at the core of any friendship, there has got to be a mutual desire to keep memories and old bonds alive. And this requires work, and very often a “locomotive”, a dedicated individual who can put into motion and propel forward a group or a project.

One needs to remember that most friendships are made during our formative years. The older you get and the less likely you are to find kindred spirits. This is why you should nurture comradeships like old vine stocks.

Properly cared for, they will keep producing enjoyable clarets that will delight you and keep you warm in your advancing age.




August 12 tournament

Yesterday, La Pétanque Marinière hosted the FPUSA NW Regional tournament and I am happy to report that everything went swimmingly well.

The weather (nobody ever does anything about it) was picture perfect and absolutely ideal for a pétanque contest.

People who came early couldn’t help but notice the clearly marked and perfectly groomed field. You can thank Charlie Davantes, Christine Cragg, Claudie Chourré and David Riffo for that. I tip my hat to you, you beautiful people.

54 contestants (18 triplettes), elected to participate in this event, and they are as follows:
Team 1: Steve Jones/Jean-Michel Poulnot/Simone Furlan

Team 2: Gilles Karpowicz/Jurgen Weisse/Denyse Haney
Team 3: Bee Moua/Carolina Jones/Caryl Putman
Team 4: David Riffo/Bleys Rose/Gustave Foucher
Team 5: Paul Moua/Pierre Bremont/Christine Cragg
Team 6: Jean-Claude Bunand/Teri Sirico/Liv Kraf
Team 7: Dan Feaster/Holly Sammons/Robert Belfore
Team 8: Alain Gusella/Antonia Paulsen/Nan Walker
Team 9: Etienne Rijkheer/Alain Efron/Phyllis Mosher
Team 10: Yor Lee/Larry Cragg/Christine Jones
Team 11: John Morris/Greg Putman/Carin Paulsen
Team 12: Mike Cooper/Clausie Chourre/Frank Haney
Team 13: Kao Lee/Bernard Passmar/Mary Albright
Team 14: Phominok Lee/Colette Van Der Meulen/Peggy Silversides
Team 15: Kevin Evoy/Phim Nielsen/Tamara Efron
Team 16: Steven Paulsen/Patick Vaslet/Helen McGill
Team 17: Chang Xiong/David Katz/Linda Evans
Team 18: Ed Porto/Barbara Howard/Donna Yates

It is to be noted that, for sake of efficiency and timeliness, teams were configured the day before the tournament and this allowed the organizers to start the games at 10:00 a.m.

Croissants (albeit a little late) and coffee were offered to the contestants to help them sustain the arduous journey ahead.

Three 13 points “timed” games were played before lunch.

Timing games is a good idea, but I resent players who take an inordinate amount of time before finally parting with their boules.

Pacing the field back and forth might look good wise, but to me it is a real nuisance.

This often means that a game will be cut short before it reaches its natural 13 points completion. This procrastination can affect the final outcome of a game, for a leading team is not always assured of victory.

In my (always partial) opinion, in a timed game, contestants should be allowed to inspect the field only once. On their second shot they should have 30 seconds to play or desist. Period!

Before I forget, let’s give a hand to Verena, Bart and David for running a tight tournament, and to Antoine Lofaro (umpire) whose decisions are godlike.

After lunch, contestants (according to their morning scores) started to play either in the Concours or either in the Consolante and all the games were eliminatory.

At 7:00 p.m. it was all over. Apéritifs were served and medals awarded.

The final results are as follows:

1st place: Kevin Evoy/Phim Nielsen/Tamara Efron: $73.00 each
2nd place: Paul Moua/Pierre Bremont/Christine Cragg: $41.00 ea
3rd place: Steve Jones/Jean-Michel Poulnot/Simone Furlan: $31:00 ea

1st place: Steven Paulsen/Patick Vaslet/Helen McGill: $31:00 ea
2nd place: Yor Lee/Larry Cragg/Christine Jones: $20.00 ea
3rd place: Alain Gusella/Antonia Paulsen/Nan Walker: $13.00 ea

Before I put my pen to rest, I would like to beg for sympathy.

Because of my mate’s (annoying) prowess on the field, I am now in the unenviable position of playing second fiddle to somebody I taught how to drink wine, eat snails, and play Pétanque.

This is humiliating and has got to cease! I need your support to help me find ways to regain my previously unchallenged macho man status.

All suggestions are welcome and I will publish the 10 best ideas.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.



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