Sunday, August 18, 2019

Vive la France, en 16 jours, coffee and church

Our trip to France starts in 16 days. Watch this space for daily info and photos once we get there. For now, a few practice posts. The most recent post appears at gocek.org.
Two topics today (before we travel) that will require revisiting after we get to France: Coffee and Church

Although we have many events planned, we'll be in France for 15 nights and will have free time. I have become a big fan of premium coffee over the last few years, as served in America. I drink a little espresso, but it's not something I sip on for a half hour (because the little cup is empty after three sips). According to the internet, shops in France prepare coffee in forms close to what we Americans think of as espresso.

I rarely put milk or sugar in my coffee, so it seems like I will need to experiment a bit. And that may not be so bad; after spending a couple weeks in England, I found pub beer at its pub temperature to be very enjoyable, and it remains different than American beer even in these days of craft brews. I have not traveled to Europe since 1990, so I am looking forward to writing my review of the French coffee scene.

Along with coffee, I am also a committed Episcopalian, which is the American denomination within the Anglican Community. Historically, "Anglican" refers to the church of England, started by Henry VIII when the Roman pope wouldn't annul Henry's marriages. We probably won't attend a church service in Paris, but there is an Anglican church in Nice, "Holy Trinity Nice" ("Sainte-Trinité Nice"), and this is where we can really meet the locals.

While we're in France, we will meet many people, but most of them will be serving us in some way (hotel staff, tour guides, etc.). But, by attending a church service, we will meet fellow Christians (specifically, Anglicans) in their local house of worship (and one wonders whether the concept of "coffee hour" is universal).

I might drink a few glasses of wine in France, but I am also hoping for great coffee and church experiences.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Vive la France, en 17 jours

Our trip to France starts in 17 days. Watch this space for daily info and photos once we get there. For now, a few practice posts. The most recent post appears at gocek.org.

We visited our travel agent today to pick up our final bits of travel information. Most of our transportation arrangements have been in place for a while, such as flight and train info, but we picked up invoices for some pre-planned group tours and asked a few final questions (like, will our room be ready at 8 am when we arrive at our first hotel - um, maybe).

I think travel agents are still relevant, especially for long trips. You can spend your life reading customer reviews for Paris hotels and still not be sure of what you'll find when you get there, but most agencies send their agents to the major tourist locations and have lots of recommendations and advice. Agencies have access to discounts that aren't available to private travelers. The internet does indeed make it possible for individuals to book everything on their own, but my experience with travel agents has always been good and financially beneficial.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Vive la France, en 25 jours

Our trip to France starts in 25 days. Watch this space for daily info and photos once we get there. For now, a few practice posts. The most recent post appears at gocek.org.


So yeah, I had this idea that I would wear a tux into Salle Médecin, the room at the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo where Pierce Brosnan (as James Bond) plays baccarat in "Goldeneye". Well, it turns out, although there is a real-life dress code in the evening, tuxedos are not a thing.

There is some talk in the forums that dressing well attracts better service and especially may help when the staff is controlling access to crowded areas. But, you don't want to go overboard. We're just hoping Monte Carlo isn't as casual as Vegas, where Americans dress like they just got out of the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Vive la France, en 27 jours

Our trip to France starts in 27 days. Watch this space for daily info and photos once we get there. For now, a few practice posts. The most recent post appears at gocek.org.


Wow, my spellchecker really doesn't want me to type French words. But AAA wants me to have euros, so we got some in preparation for our trip to France. I think we got a good exchange rate ($1.19 per euro when the official rate was $1.11). When we get to France, I will be interested to see what my credit card company charges me. The word on the street is that there really is no such thing as "no foreign exchange fees". You either pay a fee, or you pay a less favorable exchange rate.

I have my high-security blazer with lots of zippers and buttons and such. I got an A/C voltage converter, too. Most devices can be plugged in to the wall outlet with just an adapter, but my limited experience suggests some small devices don't love 50 Hz / 220 V.

Friends have suggested an ice cream shop in Paris, and that no one really wears a tux at the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo. Keep those cards and letters coming.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Keep those cats inside

NY State has outlawed the declawing of cats. Now it's time for leash laws!
I don't care whether declawing is legal or not, but declawing does not seem much more inhumane or painful than spaying/neutering.
But, there IS SUFFERING related to cats. Housecats and feral cats kill huge numbers of songbirds and small mammals ( https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/29/cats-wild-birds-mammals-study/1873871/ ). Also, while I don't shed tears over the occasional dead cat on a roadway, a run-in with a car seems a lot more painful than getting declawed. It is still legal to let housecats roam free.
If Gov. Cuomo and his donors and lobbyists actually care about cats, they won't pussyfoot around with restrictions on controlled medical procedures; they will actually keep cats and birds safe.
Hey, if we can't safeguard our elections from the Russkies, at least we can protect our cats.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Watch this space for reports on our trip to France

My lovely wife and I are traveling to France later in 2019. Watch this space for day-to-day photos and comments!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

It's a good day to do good, no matter what you call yourself

I watched the Harry/Meghan royal wedding on May 19, 2018, including Bishop Michael Curry's powerful address. I have said I felt that was a good day to be an Episcopalian. But, that was selfish and prideful.

I am always surprised every time I have a transformative revelation about my faith, as if I had had it all figured out. It was a Jesus moment.

On June 1, 2019, at a memorial service for a friend near Rochester, NY, the officiant was the Rev. Twyla Boyer. Without any thought to me or Bishop Curry or the lovely Meghan, she helped me to understand that it's a good day for us all to discern our gifts and use them to help others. She's a Presbyterian; go figure. 😊 But, you don't have to be anything. Just use your gifts.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

I am pro-choice, but not because women's rights are being trampled

I am pro-choice, but not because I think pro-life laws enacted in 2019 trample on the rights of women.

I don't think politicians wake up in the morning wondering how to control women's bodies. A woman may think it's profound to tell her Facebook friends she has the right to do anything she wants with her body, and there should be no legal restrictions. But here's the thing:
- Extreme pro-life positions ignore the mothers, even though mothers have value.
- Extreme pro-choice positions ignore the fetuses, even though fetuses have value.

Some women do not have a choice in their sexual and reproductive lives. They may be abused, oppressed, raped, poor, uneducated, etc. No one is "pro-abortion", but some women are in catastrophic situations and they need relief. Maybe Roe v. Wade is abused by some women as a way to deal with the consequences of their own bad choices, but RvW helps those women who had no choices. We cannot simply ignore those choice-less women, as terrible as an abortion is. A million abortions are performed in the USA annually, and legal restrictions will result in illegal abortions. Even if there are potential adoptive parents waiting for babies, adoption is complicated and not a reason to restrict abortion. I am pro-choice.

We won't stop pro-life laws by complaining about how they restrict women. All laws restrict someone, in favor of someone else. We have to find the compromise, but today there are three sides, (1) extreme pro-life (no abortions ever), (2) extreme pro-choice (fetuses have no value unless the mother says so), (3) non-extreme, who don't know how to resolve this.

The Christian perspective is that "it" (whatever it is) is about everyone else, and not about me. When applied to abortion, a woman needs to consider the fetus, the father, the healthcare providers, etc. So yeah, I am pro-choice, but don't tell me you should not be restricted from getting an abortion because, damn the fetus, it's your choice. Mothers matter. Fetuses matter. Men care, we really do, and you won't (and shouldn't) resolve the abortion debate without men. Personally, I think the compromise is to restrict third trimester abortions, but whatever the compromise is, we should find it without the help of the Supreme Court.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Fun, faith and family. And free.

New York Magazine published the article, "The Internet apologizes..." in April, 2018.
Basically, a bunch of hippies pushed an idea of free information, but the architecture of the Internet allowed big corporations to conquer it until Russians broke American democracy.
Well, here at gocek.org, you may or may not find anything specific that interests you, but we're still a 1980s throwback offering fun, family and faith, all for free. (and tech, of course, I just need to come up with a good F word for that). You don't need to log in and gocek.org does not collect personal information (although third party advertisers do).
Happy surfing.