Saturday, March 21, 2009

La Primavera II

It's the first day of Spring today: Saturday, March 21, 2009.


Today, with the running of the 100th Primavera, the annual Milan-San Remo bicycle race, "Official" Spring is here once more. Another Winter has passed.


Four years ago, on the first day of Spring in 2005, Amerloque began this blog to share his experiences, correct exaggerations and misunderstandings, and inform his readers about France and its differences from the USA. Things were going fairly well, blog wise, although pounding out a weekly entry soon came to resemble ‘work’, rather than being the ‘fun’ he expected. Too, Amerloque participated frequently in selected blogs and discussion groups about France which interested him, which took up a lot of time. Yet Amerloque continued ...


However, in the middle of a frigid, rainy night in February, 2008, seated in his living room, Amerloque had trouble breathing. Serious trouble, so serious that Mme Amerloque called the pompiers. It should be noted that when such problems occur, calling the fire department is a well-honed reflex in France. Far better than SOS Médecins, in Amerloque's view. A squad was dispatched to the scene and arrived in seven minutes (so Mme Amerloque attests), ready to administer immediate first aid and take the measure of the situation. The accompanying trained medic decided that an ambulance was required, and the SAMU (Service d’Aide Médicale Urgente) arrived forthwith. The living room was crowded: Mr and Mme Amerloque, one adult child, five burly members of the pompiers (well, OK, the medic was female and far less, er, burly that her teammates), and five members of the SAMU.



The SAMU doctor (in general they are considered to be among the best in France) examined Amerloque and said: “It’s three thirty in the morning, Monsieur. If you remain here like this, you’ll be dead by seven. Off you go, Monsieur !”. The attentive reader will correctly assume that such a statement focused Amerloque’s attention immediately - and irrevocably !


So Amerloque was unceremoniously bundled onto a stretcher and equally as unceremoniously trundled down several flights of stairs in no uncertain manner. He was then quickly gurneyed into the SAMU ambulance parked in the middle of the street, blocking traffic – where he remained for an hour and a half, while he was stabilisé. This is standard French emergency medical procedure, by the way: these SAMU vehicles are wonderfully equipped and designed for treating the patient immediately. Only after the stabilisation phase does the vehicle wend its way with blaring three-toned horn and flashing blue gyrophare to the hospital which offers the most specialized care … and has an empty bed. Not the nearest hospital, necessarily – the one offering the best chances for the patient.


The diagnosis of Amerloque’s illness finally turned out to be - well, not particularly joyful, as the French say. It’s the kind of illness that can be treated, but not cured. M and Mme Amerloque’s lives have been radically changed: what with physiotherapists, daily medications and nebulizer sessions, doctors' visits ... the lot. Bouncing from clinique to maison de repos (rest home), with, fortunately, significant periods at his own home, Amerloque found himself somewhat cut off from the world that he had constructed for himself. Today, walking is difficult, for example; only in June of 2008 was Amerloque able drive a car, as a matter of fact. His visits to the country became few and far between, alas, and are only now resuming with any kind of regularity.


Amerloque's internet access and participation were also substantially affected, alas, becoming sporadic and ephemeral: not too many French medical establishments offer links to internet for their patients ! Not too many even offer facilities as basic as cable TV. Amerloque was exposed for days and weeks on end - far, far too long, to his way of thinking - to the standard French media: TV, radio, newspapers, periodicals. In some venues, the food was excellent - copious four-star !- while in others it was less good: say two- or three-star, but no less copious. Nowhere was it unacceptable or tasteless.


Finding himself in a world totally unknown to him - the French medical system - Amerloque spent an enormous amount of time conversing with those around him: hospital personnel, therapists, other patients (and not all were French). Always with a smile on his face and in his eyes, too, since in a hospital or clinique, no matter where in the world, a patient is fully at the mercy of the staff. Always. Amerloque must confess that playing a role became somewhat wearing at times, especially when le petit personnel, generally non-French, explained gleefully to Amerloque how many supposed brothers and sisters and children they had brought to France to take advantage of the social system and collect unemployment insurance. Since Amerloque was not French, they assumed - quite incorrectly, of course - that Amerloque would be of like mind and was prepared to suck everything he could from the French social system.


Amerloque had a relapse during Thanksgiving week, 2008; he was hospitalized in réanimation ( i.e., in the ICU) for several weeks. He missed participating in his usual Christmas activities in Paris, although one of his children went to many of them and described them to him during visits. Mme Amerloque visited him every day. He can also state that spending Christmas in the hospital is no fun at all ! Fortunately the family was able to smuggle in smoked salmon, oysters, goose with stuffing, and the inevitable buche de Noel, as well as the mandatory Christmas gifts !


Be it said in passing that the French social safety net is indeed well developed. Amerloque's medical expenses - 100% - are taken care of by the state. Since he is on a congé longue maladie , his full salary - yes, 100% - has been and will continue to be paid to him for three years. Naturally Amerloque has been paying his fair share into the system for nigh on forty years, so Amerloque is pleased to see that what goes around, comes around.


Amerloque rarely frequented the web (including blogs about Paris). He did, however, do a lot of reading and thinking during his forced sojourns in various hôpitaux and cliniques. During the past year, Amerloque found himself rubbing his eyes in disbelief many times, but three instances stand out.


The first is M Bertrand Delanoe's re-election to the Paris mayoralty. He is a committed leftwinger and internationalist with ambitions for the Presidency of France. The Delanoe administration has devoted itself to making Paris a venue for the politically correct, almost unlivable for productive businesses, business people and people who think for themselves, while driving out investment and significant taxpayers and speeding the day when Paris will be nothing more than a museum for tourists and bobos.


The second is the great global warming scam. Amazingly, the media has managed to convince the gullible populace in France - and around the world, apparently - that global warming is man made (so-called 'AGW') and that the human race can do something about it, notwithstanding scientists' flawed and dishonest computer models and skewed or bowdlerized data. With the whole AGW scare - and the attendant upcoming 'water shortage' - the politicians' and their fellow travelers' intentions are clear: tax and control. Over in the United Kingdom the concept of the 'envirocrime' is alive and well. Amerloque was flabbergasted to learn that the new water laws voted upon and coming into effect here in France mean that, after filling out the proper form at the local city hall, Amerloque will pay an annual tax on the pipes and barrels that have been used for several centuries to harvest rainwater from the roof of his country house. (Fat chance of any declaration to the Mayor, states Mme Amerloque.)


The third is the nomination and election to the US Presidency of an arrogant, incompetent, inexperienced, fast-tracked-affirmative-action, smooth talking nostrum salesman from Chicago's South Side and its Cesspool Politics. Did America voters even glance at the man's suicidal program, almost guaranteed if completely implemented to reduce the status of the USA to that of the Third World ? Do Americans understand just how much they stand to lose ? In his own mind Amerloque called the man 'Chrysologus' from the very beginning and thought him a man of many words but very little substance; his only asset during the campaign, after all, was that he wasn't George Bush. Amerloque remembers that old saying "Salute the office, not the man" and hopes that the wheel will turn - as rapidly as possible.


Nothing he has seen since January 20th has caused Amerloque to change his mind. Alas, it even looks like the realities of the upcoming catastrophe will be far worse than feared, what with the man's about-faces and blatant backtracking, and politics-as-usual. As Shakespeare would have it:

"...the spring, the summer,
The chilling autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries; and the mazed world
By their increase, now knows not which is which ...”



For readers of an even more classical bent, Plutarch was clear enough, too:

The real destroyer of the liberties of any people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and largesses."



L'Amerloque



Text © Copyright 2009 by L'Amerloque
Images © Copyright reserved to copyright holders, including Amerloque

24 Comments:

Blogger LASunsett said...

For all the madnesses we are witnessing in the world and the things that seemingly make no sense at all, sometimes there are those things that we can all be truly thankful for. There are those things that can and do uplift the human spirit, in spite of the calamities we all suffer at some point in our lives. Some call them life's little miracles.

One of those moments was when we first heard about your health issue. Not because of the issue itself, we hate that part of it. But we are happy because you made it through and are still with us. And even though I don't really know a lot about you, I know enough to know that it is my personal hope you remain with us for a long time.

(In other words, you are not allowed to leave this world, without permission. You must submit your request one week in advance for it to be properly denied.)

Thanks for coming around PYY and making it a lot smarter, sir. Hang in there.

5:58 PM  
Blogger expat said...

I'm relieved to welcome you back to the REAL world (the net, I mean, of course). I was just wondering if an entire year would roll around with no bloggery -- some sort of record, I imagine.

You're wrong about Obama.

6:14 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hi LAS !


Thanks for stopping by ... and for the kind words !


/// (In other words, you are not allowed to leave this world, without permission. You must submit your request one week in advance for it to be properly denied.) ///


I've asked Mme Amerloque to do the necessary paperwork with you when the time comes ... (grin) ... hopefully in the far distant future ! (wider grin)


Best,
L'Amerloque

7:09 AM  
Blogger expat said...

By the way, I also had a medical emergency, in California in November, nowhere near as serious as yours. My bedroom filled with burly EMTs, too, although sadly an all-male crew.

I happen to live 3 blocks from the teaching hospital, so the ambulance had about 400 metres to cover. The facture -- $984.

Vive la différence!

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

Amerloque:.I only was able to read you briefly on Superfrenchie before I was moderated into oblivion. I was stuck by your third person stance and your interesting comments. Your musings were always so very intelligent and yes, deep...Let me just tell you something personal if you don't mind. I too faced the blue hammer that comes out of the sky on a clear day, and in my case, found great pleasure in 'les si belles' French nurses who took care of me in reanimation in Marseille--having arrived by helicopter from the Alps. Such are the surprises as we walk along through life.

When I left the sterile, airless hospital after 44 days and saw my first tree flickering the sunlight from the wind's force, so beauty, life, and optimism were reborn in me. It's carpe diem everyday now. As is written, 'sufficient unto the day'...

I never would have imagined your ideas about Delanoe, and Obama from reading you. But I agree Plutarch is on to something.

Tonight I will drink to you and your health. Seems from reading you that you have a wonderful family and a good sense of things...so Courage. And God bless you.

Every cloud has a silver lining. I am so glad I read some of your third person musings...

2:52 PM  
Blogger Pumpkin said...

I am so happy that you posted. You are often thought about in Switzerland even if you don't know it. Like LASunset said I, too, don't know much about you. Yet, you have touched my life. I am thankful that you made it through and you have your Mrs. Amerloque and family right there by you.

I supported Obama and I hope that he can and does at least try to do what he promised. No matter what...I am still not a fan of politics. I think it takes a certain person to even want to get in that game. Perhaps that is the real problem. No completely decent person would be able to go anywhere in the political world. After all even JFK was soiled with connections to the mafia and love affairs.

I was beginning to believe in global warming until we spent this winter buried under snow for almost FIVE WHOLE MONTHS in the Jura of Switzerland. :)

I really missed your posts and hope that you are able to continue even if it isn't often.

Thank you for always being thoughtful and helpful to all that you met online and I am sure even more so in real life. ;)

11:43 PM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hello Patrick !


Thanks for stopping by ... and for the kind words!


/// ... Alps ... reanimation in Marseille .../...

Wow - that sounds far more dramatic than Amerloque's adventures ! (grin) Forty-four days is a heckuva long period !


/// I never would have imagined your ideas about Delanoe, and Obama from reading you. But I agree Plutarch is on to something. ///

Amerloque plans - if his health doesn't interfere - to write at length about Delanoe / Paris and Obama.


For the moment he is attentively watching events in Washington. The question uppermost in his mind is:

What will happen when the First Family's First Dog starts sh$$ing in and/or digging up the First Lady's First Bio Garden ? Will the garden still be 'bio', post facto ? (grin)



/// ... things...so Courage. And God bless you. ///

Amerloque reciprocates the wishes to Patrick !


Best,
L'Amerloque

6:08 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hello expat !


/// I happen to live 3 blocks from the teaching hospital, so the ambulance had about 400 metres to cover. The facture -- $984. ///


That is indeed an astronomical amount, yet one supposes that the fixed costs (paramedics, oxygen bottles, et al.) would be the same whether it was 400 meters or 4000 ... but it's only a supposition (grin).



/// Vive la différence! ///

Since Amerloque is pris en charge à 100%, the emergency vehicles to the hospital (both times) were free.


Twice a week before he was able to walk, an ambulance would come to pick up Amerloque and haul him to the physiotherapist ... a distance of quite precisely 5.5 km. Mme Amerloque had forgotten the prescription paperwork one day, so she had to write a check. This cost there and back was 160 euros - which was, of course, refunded.


Otherwise, M and Mme Amerloque don't even see the invoices for ambulances, doctors and PTs, since they are sent directly to the payeur. Medicines are another story, though.


Yes, vive la différence !


Best,
L'Amerloque

6:06 AM

6:12 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

i expat !


Thanks for stopping by ... and for the kind words !


/// You're wrong about Obama. ///


Oh, Amerloque is perfectly willing to be proved wrong. Wouldn't be the first time in his life. (grin)


The man's opacity is very, very disturbing. Could he even have passed a normal security check, i.e., received a security clearance, if he were employed by, say, the Secret Service or the FBI ? Amerloque doubts it very much.


For the moment Obama is on the high road to disaster, in Amerloque's view. Reminds him quite a bit of Nicolas Sarkozy here, as a matter of fact .



Best,
L'Amerloque

6:14 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hello Pumpkin !


Thanks for stopping by ... and for the kind words!


/// I supported Obama and I hope that he can and does at least try to do what he promised. ///


Every American hopes that he can lead the USA with competence, integrity and forthrightness. Not much choice for the next four years or so ...


Amerloque is quite pessimistic as to his chances of success. In addition, Amerloque is no fan at all of his platform, nor of his promises ... (sigh) ...


As they say here in France: Les promesses n'engagent que ceux qui les écoutent ("Promises commit only those who listen to them.")



/// No matter what...I am still not a fan of politics. ///


(wide grin) Hmmmm ... there's a saying in France about that, too: Occupe-toi de la politique ou la politique s'occupera de toi ! ("Take care of politics or politics will take care of you.")



/// I was beginning to believe in global warming until we spent this winter buried under snow for almost FIVE WHOLE MONTHS in the Jura of Switzerland. :) ///


Five months ?! Mygod ... Pumpkin and family (Hi Vilay !) must really be waiting for the spring sunshine !!! (grin)


Best,
L'Amerloque

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Vilay said...

Heureux d'avoir de tes nouvelles Amerloque. J'espère que tout entrera dans l'ordre maintenant.

Pour ce qui est d'Obama,je ne suis pas d'accord. Si la compétence en politique se mesurait à l'aune de l'expérience, il n'y aurait certainement pas eu de nombreux grands politiques.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous superfrenchie said...

Hi Amerloque:

You're dead wrong about Delanoe, GW and Obama, but you are absolutely right about Milan San Remo and Spring so that balances out.

Everybody at sf.com wishes you "prompt retablissement", better health for decades to come, and enough time to stop by your old blogging stumping grounds.

PS: Hi Patrick. Hi LA. Hi Pumpkin. Hi Expat.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous rocket said...

So glad to hear that you made it through all of this. Please stay well and stay away from the rich food.

But you're back just in time for MLB on ESPN America as it has been rebaptised.

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Amerloque,

Welcome back. We've missed you.

It is always a pleasure to read your diaries or comments here or elsewhere.

Even if I don't always agree with your opinions on such and such matters I find your analysis nevertheless always thought provoking.

Cela n'est pas donné à tout le monde.

That is very interesting and should I say necessary.

Take care of yourself.

Eygh

Ps : I tried to post a comment yesterday but it didn't go through apparently

1:15 AM  
Anonymous Cincinna said...

Amerloque, I have been checking back to your Blog for months,and wondering about you and how you were doing. I am so pleased you are doing well, and are back in the "real" world. The health care in France is very good, and I am glad they took good care of you.

I experienced a severe medical situation here in NY, and the attention, professionalism, and high level of care I received was world class, top notch. The follow up care is excellent as well.

Your observations about the election of Obama, the man from nowhere, with no experience, no history, no family, no roots is spot on. From the stinking cesspool of Chicago politics, indeed.

I also enjoyed your observations about that master of pomposity and arrogance, Delanoe.

ObamaMania in France is something I cannot understand. When asked why they "love" him, the response is always the same... "Je ne sais pas"

Best wishes from America for your continued recovery .

Kindest regards,

Cincinna

12:12 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hi Rocket !


Thanks for stopping by ... and for the kind words!


/// So glad to hear that you made it through all of this. Please stay well and stay away from the rich food. ///


Actually Amerloque has lost a lot of weight when bedridden and is now taking dietary supplements. (grin)


/// But you're back just in time for MLB on ESPN America as it has been rebaptised. ///


Yes, the first game of the MLB season is today. (grin)


In the great-minds-run-in-the-same-channel department, Amerloque’s latest post is about baseball, justement !


Keep in touch !



Best,
L’Amerloque

9:35 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Salut Vilay !


Thanks for stopping by ... and for the kind words!


/// Pour ce qui est d'Obama,je ne suis pas d'accord. ///


(grin) L’avenir nous dira !


/// Si la compétence en politique se mesurait à l'aune de l'expérience, il n'y aurait certainement pas eu de nombreux grands politiques. ///

Ce n'est que quand un 'politique' ne devient un 'homme d'etat',qu'il puisse être considéré comme un 'grand'... (sourire= ... n'est pas 'grand' qui veut !

Obama est un incompetent arrogant. C’est ca qui va causer sa perte, car il croit detenir toutes les reponses … encore faut-il qu’il se pose des bonnes questions, ce qui est loin d’etre evident … n’ayant jamais vraiment travaillé de sa vie (sauf à vendre des glaces Baskin-Robbins, apparemment ), comment peut-il comprendre ce qui se passe ?


This discussion should undoubtedly be in English for the benefit of non-francophone participants, no ?


Best,
L’Amerloque

9:47 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hi Superfrenchie !


Thanks for stopping by ... and for the kind words!


/// You're dead wrong about Delanoe, GW and Obama, but you are absolutely right about Milan San Remo and Spring so that balances out. ///


(wide grin) In life, balance is everything, so it is said.


/// Everybody at sf.com wishes you "prompt retablissement", better health for decades to come, and enough time to stop by your old blogging stumping grounds. ///


Amerloque extends many, many thanks !


Over here, the Prozac Prez is still gesticulating wildly and contradicting himself day after day … plus ça change ...


Best,
L’Amerloque

9:53 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hello Eygh !


Thanks for stopping by ... and for the kind words!


Eygh is always welcome here, of course !


Best,
L’Amerloque

9:56 AM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hello Cincinna !


Thanks for stopping by ... and for the kind words!


/// ObamaMania in France is something I cannot understand. When asked why they "love" him, the response is always the same... "Je ne sais pas" ///


The latest thing on the all-news cable channel LCI (Lobotomiser, Crétiniser, Infantiliser) is that Obama is visiting Normandy in June (if he is still President, of course). Hence “Omaha Beach” is now referred to as “Obama Beach”. Veterans must be rolling in their graves.


The city of Caen is launching an advertising campaign for American tourists: “Yes, you Caen !” This is reported as genuine news …


Best,
L’Amerloque

10:22 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Awesome, awesome post. Thanks to LAS for linking me to it, and to you, l'Amerloque, for writing it. Good to know a little bit about what happened and where you had been.

Whatever it was, it didn't affect your mental capabilities, since you are dead on about "Global Warming," Delanoe and 0bama, who I am already calling THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER!!! ahahahaha.

1:02 PM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

Hello Greg !

Thanks for stopping by ... and for the kind words!

/// Whatever it was, it didn't affect your mental capabilities, since you are dead on about "Global Warming," Delanoe and 0bama, who I am already calling THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER!!! ahahahaha. ///

It will get worse every day, alas.

As Amerloque writes these lines, he learns from French TV (which has taken a few minutes off from Sego Royal, pedophiles, homeless, "the right to decent housing" and whatnot) that Somali pirates have seized an American ship with twenty US nationals.

Amerloque has just taken the time to explain to Mme Amerloque a few historical references in a well-known US song: "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli ... "

Will Obama land the Marines and take out a few Somali villages in the one language that they understand ?

Fat chance.

Is he even aware of the words of the song ?

Best,
L'Amerloque

8:52 AM  
Anonymous rocket said...

Hi

Did you notice that Espn America did a piece on "Take me out to the ball game" history of the song today between ball games around 21:45.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Take_Me_Out_to_the_Ball_Game

1:46 PM  
Blogger L'Amerloque said...

April 15, 2009

Hi Rocket !

Amerloque hasn't seen it - and extends his thanks for the tip !

Best,
L'Amerloque

12:58 AM  

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