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Showing posts from January, 2019

MEDICARE LETTER TO AMERICAN EXPATS, JANUARY, 2019: WHAT TO DO

If you are an American living in France, and if your address with Social Security and Medicare is a French address, you may have recently received a letter advising you that you were going to be issued a new Medicare card. It seems they've decided that having our Social Security numbers on the cards was inappropriate, a potential breech of security. So new cards were being mailed.

Except, of course, new cards would not be mailed to addresses outside of the United States.

Never fear. If you have an account at MyMedicare.gov, you can print an official copy of your card and use it until you are in a position to obtain a new one. If you don't have an account, you can create one. There was another workaround, something about calling Medicare from a mobile phone from within the United States. But since we have no plans to go back to the States in the immediate future, my only ready option was to create that account on MyMedicare.gov.

Except, of course, that I wasn't allowed cre…

BAGELS, KARO SYRUP, MOLASSES, AND OTHER STUFF WE MISS IN FRANCE: JANUARY 2019

Three and a half years ago, an early blog post of mine listed American foods that I missed the most after I'd spent about 16 months living permanently here in the rural south of France. Then a week ago, after five years here, I began a post with a rant about the lack of readily available peanut butter. Both posts engendered a great deal of interest, particularly among my Facebook friends.

Within 24 hours of lamenting that the major supermarkets in the area had pulled less expensive, European produced peanut butter from the shelves in favor of more expensive, imported varieties, FB friends had pointed out such alternative possibilities as Super U, Lidl (during the upcoming American Week), and various stores, health food and otherwise. I'd been alerted against palm oil and artificial sweeteners. Folks were engaged. Not exactly viral, but clearly touching a common nerve. So I've decided to update that August, 2015 list with a new one.

What is it that still frustrates us afte…

PEANUT BUTTER, E-TAIL, AND YES, BREXIT AND TRUMP: JANUARY, 2019 RANT

PEANUT BUTTER

What's so hard about it? You take a pile of peanuts, you grind 'em up, you put the resulting paste in a jar, and there you have it. Peanut butter. High in protein. Calorie dense, yes. But not excessively so. It's good for you, dammit. And if you keep it simple without adding sweeteners or stirring in chocolate, it's an inexpensive, natural food.

Peanut butter is an essential part of my daily breakfast. I take a few fibrous crackers (fiber is good for you), spread some peanut butter on them (for morning protein), and cover the peanut butter with blackberry jam (high in vitamin C). In preparation for this post, I even read about a 2009 study that found that rats who were fed blackberries had improved cognitive and motor skills over a control group. So don't give me a hard time for breakfasting on PB&J. Nobody's going to mess with my cognitive skills by putting me in a control group, thank you very much.

Apparently, however, the French don't a…

OSTERIA DELL'ARCO, ALBA, ITALY: WHITE TRUFFLE FESTIVAL RESTAURANT REVIEW

Truffles, like wine, create an almost cult-like atmosphere when their devotees gather.

The connoisseurs of both truffles and wine converse in specific and mystical languages. They may wear badges and ritual clothing. They take that which is common out of the realm of the ordinary, elevating it to heavenly status. Cult-like. Am I being serious? Kinda sorta. Anybody who grows grapes can make wine. Anybody with the patience to plant and nurture an orchard can produce truffles and train a pig or a dog to find them.

OK. Maybe making good wine is a complicated chemical process requiring precision timing from harvest to vinification. And it's certainly true that if truffles were as easy to farm and as plentiful as grapes, they wouldn't be quite so expensive even without what I consider their artificially constructed mystique. But you get the picture. We're talking about products of nature here, known to mankind for centuries. We don't have tasting contests for peanut butter. …

PELOSI, OCASIO-CORTEZ, GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES, AND SOCIAL MEDIA

First of all, some housekeeping...

This post will be rather lengthy and rather dry. There will be no pictures of food and very few, if any, zingy one-liners. So settle in. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em. You'll be here for a few minutes.

Secondly, I will provide no citations. This is not my doctoral thesis. If you feel the need for citations, provide them in your response.

Onward.

If you have ever captained a team, managed a staff, or chaired a committee, and if the people that you were engaged with varied in age from the Greatest Generation to Millennials, and if you were at all effective, then you spent the time necessary to understand the differing attitudes that differing ages present. If you were effective without consciously considering those differences, God bless you. You are either an outstanding intuitive leader or you were lucky as hell. But it seems to me that today, given the headlines and the ruckus on social media concerning the new US Congress, it pays to take the…

CHRISTMAS MARKET NARBONNE 2018

The afternoon was clear and warm for late December between Christmas and New Year. The crowds were a bit thin, to be expected in the twixt holiday lull. But the little huts were all open and the proprietors were happy to be of service. Enjoy the pics.