Thursday, August 21, 2014


For the past ten days, more or less, we had a French family living with us. 

We tried our best to make their trip memorable, taking them to Baltimore (they loved the Aquarium, were disappointed by the major league baseball game being rained out), having group photos taken (just them, their daughter and us, and the whole group), going out to dinner at very nice restaurant, lending them our car so that they could visit friends of theirs, and, at the end, taking them to New York City, where I spent three days with them, going to the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center Memorial (a punch to the brain and the heart), the Empire State Building (very nice but very long lines), and other places.  I knew they liked to walk, but I had forgotten how much -- I bailed on one little jaunt where they walked around midtown Manhattan for about three hours.  When they got back to the hotel, they said that they were exhausted -- and would be ready to go out to dinner in fifteen minutes.  Which they were.

When their daughter was with us, four years ago, she was a cute adolescent.  Now she has blossomed (insert suggestive eye roll here).  I knew that girls/women's fashions included underwear that was meant to be seen, so when I could easily see the sparkles on her pink bra, I wasn't too surprised.  But when I realized that she intended to wear it so that about half of her breasts (no, not 'the right one or the left one') was visible, I was astonished.  She's a very attractive young woman, and she apparently believes 'if you've got it, flaunt it'.  She does, and she did.  I was made a little uneasy by the display.  Some of it was that I was worried what signal she was sending, in Manhattan.  Then I remembered that her mother would refer to the girl's brother as 'her bodyguard', and noticed that yes, most of the time he was walking very close to her.  He's about six two. 

We were all very glad that they had come..  The only downside is that I noticed a slight change in my speech patterns -- when I was with them and needed to say Yes, No, More, or something like that, to a store clerk -- I said it in French.  Our visitors were highly amused.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


I bought John Scalzi's Old Man's War not expecting much. The book turned out to be a one trick pony in terms of what made the title plausible, but the writing was good, and when I learned that there was a second book, I picked it up warily.  It was better than the original. Then I found that there was a third book,  and I picked it up too, a little more quickly.

Yesterday I saw the latest book in the series, The Human Division, had come out. I immediately picked it up. I didn't even look at it. I just picked it up. And now I am reading it.

I keep thinking get better please get better please get better.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Friends living in the center of France have offered to let me live with them during the winter and spring, if I want.  No charge.  They don't live at home during the week, so the house is empty, and since they know I'd like to live in France at least part of the year, they offered.  I could use the house as a base to go up to Paris, down to Aix-en-Provence, or just a place to hang out, see what it's actually like to live in rural France.  Be a quasi-native.

Almost certainly will not happen - little matter of the cost, not to mention that though I would like to be in France, I would not like being away from my wife for an extended period -- but man, that's tempting.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Every time Bose sends a software update to the SoundTouch Wave -- which happens about once every four or five months -- the device stops working.  I run through the list of things that I did the last time, and sometimes it fixes the problem.  Sometimes. like this morning, I get to call them.

Initally, when the wireless service was new to Bose, I got what I think of as 'the A team' of responders -- fast, courteous, knowledgeable.  Now I get them sometimes, and sometimes the B team -- reasonably fast, reasonably courteous, reasonably knowledgeable.  They always get the device working, but not always quickly.

And, of course, afterward I wonder why should I have to call them at all?


Turned out that our friends were bringing their kids, and they were intending to stay with us.  Which of course delighted us -- we really like these people -- but also caused a couple of logistical problems.

There is a joke about a person whose home was in danger of being flooded during a storm. The police come and say that he should leave; he says no, I'm a religious person, and I know that god will save me.  The firemen come, the Coast Guard helicopter comes, the water gets higher and higher, his response is the same.  He drowns.  Facing god, he says I was a religious man, why didn't you save me?  And god replies I sent the police, the firemen, the helicopter.....why didn't you leave?

I am not a religious person.  But the ballgame in Baltimore would have caused us logistical problems -- seats in separate areas, not obvious how to connect up, and, of course, the thunderstorm predicted to arrive around the middle of the game.  Instead, a ferocious storm arrived hours before, and the game was rained out. Massive solution to a personal problem. Problem went away.


Sunday, August 10, 2014


Six months ago I picked a day to go to the ball game in Baltimore.

Today I find out that one day -- that day -- there will be a thunderstorm.  Nothing the day before, nothing the day after.  It is projected to start about two hours into the game.


Thursday, August 07, 2014


We learned a few days ago that our friends from France would like to go to visit other friends of theirs while they are here.  Well, okay, we can handle that.  If necessary, we'll rent a car.

We learned today that they're bringing their kids. Here?  To stay with their friends? 

No. Freaking. Idea.

I've been thinking about this visit for the last six months, so I am, to put it mildly, a little freaked out.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Why do we like apocalyptic movies?  Is it because of the same reason that we like roller-coasters?


Sometimes I worry about getting sick while travelling.  Call it Sudden Sickness Syndrome.

I don't mean something that needs a doctor's immediate attention, like appendicitis or malaria or getting hit by a bus.  I mean things like my blood sugar abruptly gets way low, and I don't have a source of glucose handy.  Or suddenly finding -- how to put this delicately -- that I need to know where a bathroom is, right the hell now. Or finding out that the result of that awareness is that toilet paper now feels like sandpaper. Or getting a sudden leg cramp while lying in bed, or a muscle spasm while slouched in a chair, or my back abruptly hurts, or I get an acidic stomach. Nothing lethal, but immediately urgent?  Oh, yeah.

These are all things that can freak me out just a bit when I'm at home, alone (in fact, one of them is how I ended up breaking part of my shoulder).  But the idea of them happening overseas, when I'm alone, not comfortably fluent in the language - like this upcoming trip in October -- that possibility actively scares me.  And I don't know what to do to address that fear. I have suggested hiring a cute Danish nurse to accompany me, but my wife seems to have a problem with that. 

Some solutions occur to me -- eat blandly, stay hydrated, carry drugs such as Pepto Bismol (unavailable in France!) and others that are common here. (I recall reading in Airborne, William F. Buckley's book about sailing across the Atlantic, that one of his older female relatives, on the trip, had a compact container of meds that the Red Cross would have envied.)  And even strange solutions - make sure you carry lots of tissues,  bring disposable underwear, always carry a high-sugar granola bar - occur to me. (So this is why American travelers wear those fanny packs!) But what else?  Without being a paranoid American traveler who should have stayed at home, what else?

We're in a position where we can travel -- we don't, a lot, but we can, and sometimes we do -- and when it's we, all is okay.  But when it's just me -- things like this scare me. I resent that fear.  It makes me feel old.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Talked with an Iranian woman who's in her late 30s, living in Iran.  I mentioned 9/11, and she said "What's that?"

Where was this...

.....when I still used business cards?