Death of a Forum

For those of you who have kept tabs on the Possumworld Forum, you may have noticed that it is no more.

The decision to shut it down was not one that I took lightly. However, instead of being a forum for free expression and discourse, it had become, instead, an excuse for a few members to verbally abuse others. It was so unpleasant that I found myself finding excuses not to read the posts.  That is pretty bad when it is your own forum!

If it had been a forum that I had joined, I would merely have gone away. But there is no way to leave your own forum. The only solution was to take my forum and go home. So, this is what I have done.

There are many of you whom I have come to consider friends, and I hope that you will stay in touch with me through email, etc. I am sorry to lose a place that began with laudable intentions, but the negativity had started to take a toll on membership, with many intelligent, interesting members no longer posting or even reading the messages. I really feel as if I had no other choice.

Perhaps in a few months when the dust settles, I’ll restart a new forum with different rules and a different focus.

Happy New Year, and a kinder, gentler 2008.

Randy

Almost Gone

It’s hard to believe that 2007 is almost over.  As always, time seemed to fly by and I have no idea where it all went.

This was a year of many events for us personally: adopting Shmoo (really just before Christmas 2006), several new books seeing the light of day (EDGAR ALLAN POE ON MARS, TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN Vol. 4), loss of my stepfather to liver cancer, bringing my mother over to live with us in the Possum Kingdom, purchasing a house where she will live and where we’ll rent out several other apartments.  I suppose it’s no wonder the time has disappeared!

We’ve met a bunch of people from both POSSUMWORLD and DAILY KOS, which has been very nice and made us feel that we weren’t just corresponding with mysterious strangers.  Life in the village has moved on with new friends arriving, some old friends leaving, and the usual assortment of village events to keep everyone busily gossiping until the next time.

Speaking of village events, this year we made an effort to visit several of the area’s Christmas Markets and have put some pictures up on my website, so pop over to see what you’ve missed.  We did have a Christmas market here in Chalabre this year as well, but since it was outside and the weather was not at its best, I’m afraid it wasn’t as well attended as some of the others we’ve been to.  Hopefully, it will grow for next year.

May 2008 bring you all joy, health, success and love.

Ciao for now,

Randy

Winter and all that jazz

Less than a week to go till Christmas and we still haven’t had any real snow in our part of the Possum Kingdom.  There were some very, very fine flurries on Saturday afternoon, and I’m afraid my excitement at seeing them was a big mistake.

I ran outside to see more and wound up talking with friends Nadia, Hélène and Yves.  Of course I didn’t take time to put on a coat and now I’ve got a cold.  I know that being in the cold doesn’t give you a cold, but that combined with several visits to the doctor’s office for various paperwork issues was probably enough to push my immune system over the edge.  Oh well, at least it’s cold enough outside that no one minds my current obsession with making soup for almost every meal.

Actually, as long as the wind isn’t blowing too hard (which it is right this minute), the cold temperatures are not all that unbearable.  If you bundle up in enough layers, you barely feel it. The nice part is that the sky is so crisp and black when we walk the dogs at night and in the morning, that we can see not only the nearest stars, but the Milky Way itself!  That is pretty impressive without a telescope, at least for us two city possums!

The dogs don’t seem the least bit interested though. We haven’t figured out how to make them look up.

There is one constellation that we look at that does the weirdest thing. When you look straight at it, it is quite pale and fuzzy, but if you catch it out of the corner of your eye, it suddenly comes into sharp, bright focus. Very, very weird, although I’m sure there is a wise, scientific explanation for the phenomenon.

Christmas itself will be pretty quiet, with just the three humans and two dogs. I’m planning on making another turkey, because the one at Thanksgiving was so good. Of course, with only three of us eating it, I’m worried we’ll be sick to death of it long before New Year’s Eve!

Ciao for now.

Randy

Moving Mom; The Saga Continues

Clearly, the move to France is long done as Mom has now been here for over a month.  She is settling in nicely, working on her French lessons and has no regrets about coming over.

We’ve done most of the big administrative tasks, however there was one thing left in order for her to get her permanent residence status (carte de sejour) and that was a medical examination.  We received notice that an appointment had been made for her at a doctor’s office in Carcassonne; but JM wrote a very nice letter (he writes great letters!) mentioning her age and asking if an exception could be made so that she could visit our local doctor instead.

A few days after the letter went off, we received a phone call from the person in charge saying that they WOULD make an exception and asking for our doctor’s phone number so they could call.  We went over last night for the appointment.

The basic reason for this exam is to make sure newcomers don’t have a disease like TB and that they’re vaccinated against polio, diptheria and tetanus, as well as to make sure they are not totally psychotic or serial killers.  I think that even if Mom WAS a serial killer, she wouldn’t be very successful because she can’t move very quickly and would easily be caught.

In fact, we were delighted that she could see our doctor, because I had been wanting to set up an appointment so that he could see her medical records and get familiar with her case.  It turned out to be another one of those France vs. the US moments and surprised all of us.

For her age, Mom is in pretty good health. She does have diabetes and high blood pressure and did have some pre-cancerous colon polyps removed about 10 years ago.  We had copies of the medical records provided by her American doctor and a list of the medications that she takes.  Our local internist went down the list of medications to find the equivalents that she will take here.  Surprisingly, even though most of the drugs are available here, in almost every case the dosages that are used here are very different than the dosages that are used in the U.S.  Indeed, he seemed surprised that for her age and general health she was taking such high dosages of certain things and wondered why she was getting one of the medications at all.

Then he asked when she had last seen her cardiologist and had an echocardiogram. She had never had either! Our doctor asked the question a couple of times because he couldn’t believe that a woman her age with diabetes would never have seen a cardiologist.  Apparently here, it’s something that is done annually.  He thought it odd that in the U.S. this wasn’t done.  Now, it could just be that since Mom was on an HMO it was standard to not order things like that.  But to our local doctor here it sounded like bad medicine.

He was also surprised that she hasn’t had a colonoscopy in over five years given that the last time she had one another polyp was removed.  So it seems that once she is fully integrated into the French medical system (in February), she will need to have a bunch of medical stuff taken care of.  I think we’re going to learn lots more about those differences in medical care as time goes on.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Lights!

Yes, at last the Christmas lights are up in the Possum Kingdom.  Village denizens were getting a bit peeved, as most of us had decorated our homes and shop windows at least 10 days ago.  Apparently something mysterious was broken (no idea what) and that kept the village lights from going up until today.

Since we already have been to our first Marché de Noël of the season, I had started to give up hope.  Also, this weekend is the annual Telethon which collects money for various neuromuscular diseases and also is a kind of kick off for the holiday season.  Now, at least we’re in full holiday gear.

Other village events are tomorrow’s “Floris” celebration.  A kind of weird local custom where the kids parade around the village making a lot of noise and which has to do with protesting some injustice to a peasant several hundred years ago.  Ah, life in the country.

But it is all in good fun and I’m pleased to see that for the first time since we’ve lived here, Chalabre will be holding its OWN Marché de Noël on 22 December.  It will be in conjunction with our usual Saturday morning market on Cours Colbert, however, if the weather is bad, then it will be under the Halles in the center of the Bastide.

Mark the date on your calendars!

Ciao for now.

Randy