Friday, April 29, 2016


One of the things that has recently complicated my life has been a prescription for Levofloxacin.  Levofloxacin is a member of the Fluoroquinolones family of drugs.  They're excellent at killing bacteria, but they carry very serious and dangerous side effects.  Two of the worst side effects are damage to the aorta and Achilles tendon rupture.  There has been a black box warning for the Achilles since 2008.  There's a long list of other bad things, but those are the two most significant.  The risk of damage increases with the age of the patient.  If you are over 60, your risk is increased.
Doctors like to prescribe these drugs because they work quickly on the bacteria (such as pneumonia) and then the patient feels better.  However, they're over prescribed.  My doctor did not say one word to me about the risks of this drug.  I was already aware from reading doctor blogs and discussing it with a couple of other docs I see, so I decided to take the risk because I was so sick.  It was a bad decision.  Four days after starting a low dose of Levofloxacin, the backs of my legs were giving me agony if I stood still for more than 60 seconds.  Walking is OK, standing is not.  I took 6 of the 7 pills and quit early, deciding I'd rather risk a super bug than hurt my legs anymore.  There is a lot of literature about these drugs on the internet, on reputable sites.

Here is one source, and there is another below, linked in the title.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jim Has a Cold and Stupid Technology

Here is a lovely blooming cactus for your consideration.  This was taken yesterday morning, before the troubles. 

The sunset was kind of interesting.  There wasn't really any color, but it was quite striking.  We're having a lot of clouds marching through with the high winds. 

As the day progressed yesterday, it became evident that Jim has caught a cold.  He hasn't been sick since 2013, so I guess he's due.  For some reason, we can never remember to buy a thermometer, I have no idea why that is.  So today, I took myself to Target for Tylenol and Nyquil and to get a stinking thermometer.  Did you know that some of them cost $60?  For a thermometer!  Anyway, I got this one.  What I did not realize is that it only works with a smart phone.  One must download an app to use this device.  The app is free, but it wants access to your contact list, all of your files, and your location.  This just irritates the living snot out of me.  Why does an app feel like it should be able to rummage around through all of your personal data?  So, this is going back.  Later I may nip down to Walgreens and see if they have something that doesn't require an app.  This is just stupid technology.

I'm continuing to improve.  I still have a cough that makes people stare at me in the grocery store, but it is better.  The doctor says that it'll be 4 to 6 weeks before this is completely over.  One of the things I am doing this summer is getting a pneumonia vaccine shot.  I do not ever want to have this again.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Jim's on the Bike and a Few Cactus

Greetings Earthlings!  How are things with you?  We're gradually improving.  I have to tell you that this is the sickest I have ever been in my entire life.  This morning I walked about a mile and it was enough.  Jim rode his bike for the first time since the incident.  It was a short ride, since we're having gale force winds here, but he was on the bike.  Unlike when he's walking, the repaired tendon feels fine when he's on the bike. That's a very good thing.

Due to being so dang sick, I missed the cactus upon our return.  It's unfortunate, this year's bloom was just spectacular.  Here are a few that I saw recently.

There are several saguaro cactus blooming in the park. 

Yuccas blooming in the park.  They're pretty magnificent.

It's amazingly hot and windy here.  A couple of days ago, someone left their awning out and a gust of wind tore in right off the RV.  I think we are here for at least two more weeks.  Jim's PT wants to see him again.  I will probably need to have my lung function checked one more time.  Then, maybe we can go to where it is less hot.

Paris Wrap Up

Before I forget everything, there were a few things I wanted to say about the Paris trip - in no particular order.

Clothing choices.  We over packed, it's what we do!  Actually, it's hard to pack for three climates, especially when you don't know what they're going to be.  We didn't need the heavy fleece jackets.  Hats and scarves were required, it was that cold and windy.

Electronics.  We still have some items that need charging at 110.  This little beauty was the best.  In addition to having three 110 outlets, there are USB ports as well.  Unlike our old charger, it has a cord attaching it to the hotel outlet, so we did not need a tower of paper backs holding it up.  Having the three 110 outlets was also handy because so many European hotels do not have enough outlets.  It's also an EXCELLENT white noise generator.  There is a small fan that runs constantly.  It drove some Amazon reviewers nuts but after a day we didn't hear it anymore.
This is also a good outlet adapter.  More than one thing can be plugged in to the one adapter.

Departing out of Charles De Gaulle.  One trip in the past we drove the rental car to Marseilles so that we wouldn't have to depart from CDG.  I think that's still a good policy. It's a huge airport.  Make sure you know which departure wing and hall you're leaving from.  We're used to just providing the airline name to the cab driver. It was clear our driver thought were were idiots.  He handed us a book and said "which?"  We asked for a 10:30AM pickup for a 2:00PM departure.  It was a good thing.  The cab was late, the traffic was unusually horrible.  Then we got there and passport control and security were shut down due to abandoned luggage in the airport.  The French take that very seriously.  There are few restrooms and virtually no food until you get through security, but before security there is passport control.  Please bring snacks and watch your fluid intake.  Getting through passport control was unbelievable.  The agents were moving out smartly, but they had been closed for over an hour.  Security wasn't too terrible.  We boarded at 1:40.  Getting there early saved us.

Entering the US via Hartsfield in Atlanta is a good choice. We would use this airport again, the Customs and Immigration process is excellent.  They had staff, they were there to tell you where to walk, where to stand and where to wait.  Also, the process for claiming and re-checking your luggage is well thought out and easy.  We're never coming back through Philadelphia again, ever.  ATL was extremely efficient.  (Update to post.  Other travelers' tales indicate that our experience is not the norm.  So, take our recommendation with a grain of salt.)

Paris is noisy.  If you're a light sleeper take ear plugs.

So that's it.  There was more I wanted to say, but if I don't get this posted soon it will have zero relevance.

Friday, April 22, 2016

It's Better

Greetings! I'm still sick, but I'm better.  Carry on!

Monday, April 18, 2016


We're still in Tucson, I'm still sick.  We are just back back from doctor visit number two.  I got worse over the weekend and now I have pneumonia.  I just feel awful.  When I'm better, I will type.  Over and out maties.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Au Revoir to Paris

 Parking in Paris can be a contact sport.  There's a van parked against the front of the black car as well.  He's not going anywhere until one of his captors departs.

Yesterday was a pretty bad day.  The fever and the cough got a lot worse.  Last night was also terrible.  I'm beginning to think Dextromethorphan might be psychoactive.  I got stuck in this zombie dream loop.  I'd run through Paris, and then die, but I knew in the dream that after I died, the game would reset.  It was small comfort.  I woke up just drenched, it was miserable.
Today I am feeling marginally better.  Jim came back from a foraging trip complaining of the heat.  Of course.  Our last day here will have me still trapped in the room with decent weather outside.  My goal at this point is to survive the trip home.

Even though the weather was difficult, I'm still glad we came.  The goals of this trip were to get out of Tucson, and to force Jim to get on his feet and stay there.  Jim has exceeded feet expectations.  The hitch in his gait is gone, and he's once again walking with a great sense of purpose.  Getting the walking re-established was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I think we're almost done with that.

Tomorrow we are up and out for the flight to Atlanta and then to Tucson.  We have a two and a half hour layover in Atlanta, which hopefully will be enough.  After the disastrous landing in Philadelphia, I've started looking for longer layovers when there will be clearing customs.

Ok, I'm tired now, time for a nap. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Good News Bad News From Paris

Jim went out and foraged for food this morning.  He stopped by the Starbucks where the kid got his back pack stolen.  Apparently that area is saturated with plain clothes police.  The baristas called the police, and the police caught the thieves and got the back pack  returned to its owner.  Later the kid came by the Starbucks and got his laptop.  So he was made whole again.  That is a good thing.

The bad thing is I probably have the flu.  One of the cool things about Europe is doctors who make house calls.  I called the desk, they called the doctor company and he was here thirty minutes later.  He gave me cough syrup so I can sleep, but told me I must respect the cough, and when it becomes productive, leave it be.  Hopefully I'll be home by then.  I am contagious.  Poor Jim.

This is the downside to crowds.  Even though we run away if we hear a cough or a sneeze it's inevitable that a strand of RNA will make it through.  I'm in Paris and I'm sick.  Quelle domage.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Watching Paris-Roubaix

Today is a beautiful, almost warm day in Paris.  We're in the room watching the Paris Robaix bicycle race live, in German.  Why are we inside on the first good day, you wonder?  Because I am sick.  It happened last night, first I had serious chills with goose bumps, then I got hot.  Really hot.  Red faced sweating hot.  Then in the night I was hot with chills.  Today I have a sore throat and a non-productive cough with fever.  I don't know what it is, so being a bad American, I got out the antibiotics.
About two we went out for an hour of slow walking to prevent the complete and total onset of cabin fever.  We saw statues.

We saw the Eiffel Tower.

Then we saw art museums.

After that, I was cooked, and now we're watching Paris Roubaix live.  With any luck tomorrow will be better.

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Here is today's travel tip for those who have not yet been to the continent.  Bring over the counter drugs with you as well as a first aid kit.  The pharmacies still have a lock on selling ibuprofen and band aids.  These things are not available at discount stores, only at the pharmacie. The lack of competition is evident in the prices.

Today we went to Sacre-Coeur, it's a minor basilica.  It's on the hill in Paris.  The subway stop for it is old and very deep in the ground.  One climbs many steps to leave the metro. There is nothing like five flights of stairs to let a person know how out of shape they are.  Upon arriving at the church, we elected to take the funicular up.
Once on the grounds, we were approached by a "deaf college student" wanting us to sign a petition.  We waved her on, she made a very rude noise.

The view from the ramparts is magnificent.  It's unfortunate that the light was so bad.

This is a fabric store.  We went in on one of our previous trips.  It's just amazing what is in there.

Sacre Couer.

Ruh-roh.  Looks like we will not be going inside the basilica today.

The gargoyles are impressive.

Look in the center of the photo.  That's a pretty cool building.  We walked by it later, but it was closed and there was no signage.

We walked down the hill to see what we would see.  One thing we saw were men playing Three Card Monte, or some sort of variant.  The guy keeps moving the three things on the table,  the person being fleeced is betting they know where the target went, they guy with the money in his hand is betting that you won't.  He was not enthused about having his picture taken.  In many places this game is illegal.

The area below Sacre Coeur is somewhat sketchy.  Again we were targeted by scammers.  A tall guy was walking in front of Jim, and occasionally looking over his shoulder at Jim.  There was a compatriot on Jim's left.  Suddenly the compatriot "dropped" his cell phone in front of Jim (actually it was more like a toss).  One's usual response might be to pick it up and hand it to the person, but since we are at defcon 1, Jim yelled at them and we just kept going.  I think that cell phone has been dropped a lot.
Upon returning via Metro to our neck of the woods of Paris we again were targeted by a guy doing the "I found an 18k ring on the ground and want to give it to you."  We told him to go away.  He was incensed that we did not believe him.
My theory on the frequency of the scams is the high level of unemployment, the fact that we have gray hair, and I am wearing a stupid looking hat.  I think the scam artists are seeing us as an easy target.   So far they are not winning with us.

This is a florist shop near the hotel.  It's unfortunate that the reflections on the window kept me from getting more of the interior.  It's just lovely.

Internet access has been very flaky for me.  Much cursing was required to get a connection this afternoon.  If I don't post, it's because the cursing has stopped working. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Crime and Walking in Paris

The coffee machine at the place where we get breakfast is dead.  No coffee for us.  So after eating, we walked over to Starbucks.  Depending on which Parisian Starbucks you're in, there may or may not be half and half used.  This store does not, they ask you how much hot milk you want added, and mark it on your cup.

This is just outside the window where we were sitting, and is the scene of a crime.  A young man was sitting outside using his laptop with his back pack on the chair to his left.  A motor scooter drove up on to the sidewalk, looking like it would park next to the other two scooters.  The passenger got off, stood next to the bike and talked to the driver for about thirty seconds.  Then he whirled around, grabbed the young man's backpack and they drove away.  He gave chase, but fell when he grabbed at them in the intersection.  He got up and kept running.  We went out and got his laptop before it, too, was stolen.  We waited for about thirty minutes for him to come back but he did not return.  We gave the laptop to the baristas.  Hopefully it will make its way back to him.

A British woman sitting next to us said that this type of crime happens frequently.  A scooter came up to her and the passenger grabbed her backpack.  She said anytime she hears a scooter behind her she puts a death grip on her bag.  Pick pockets still ply their trade.  College age kids will try to get you to sign a petition, while you're distracted they'll take belongings.  One technique we have seen at the Place de la Concorde is a woman who'll pretend to pick up a gold ring and say she found it and wants you to have it. So, we're now in the mode of distrust of our fellow humans.  If someone is trying to distract you, it's probably bad.
Scooters are everywhere.

A new way to separate the tourists from their dollars is to let them drive a super car for 120 euro.  I'm not sure how far or how long you get to drive the car.  In Paris traffic it probably won't be long or far.  That's a Lamborghini.

We walked on up to the Champs Elysee.  It looked better when we were here in 2005.  It's become over run with people.  This is on a work day in April, one can only imagine how crowded it will be in the summer.

This is the McDonald's where we would have breakfast in 2002.  It was really good, and cost much less than the hotel breakfast.

I was trying for a shot of the incredible lines inside, as well as the security guys checking bags before they would let you in.  However, I was distracted by this guy waving his hand at me.

Does he look annoyed or what?

Eventually we reached the Arc de Triomphe.  It was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon after his victory at Austerlitz.  We climbed to the top of it in 2002, watching the traffic in the circle at the base was mesmerizing.

I love watching people.  These two are standing on the lane divider on the Champs Elysee taking photos. Cars are whizzing by them in the narrow lanes.  Fortunately, they were not killed today.

Sidewalk sweepers.  Their technology has been upgraded and now they have giant vacuum cleaners.

There is a fair amount of begging in Paris.  Many people have signs up asking for help for their dogs.  There are two people on Rue de Rivoli who have dogs that are nursing puppies.

There are many Muslim women as well.

In Paris, people use the sidewalks to help them park.  This guy eventually gave it up, no way was that van going to go in the slot where he wanted to put it.

We saw one of these on the way to breakfast this morning.  We were staring at it when the owner returned and glared at us.  The doors open up, not out.  You can park it anywhere.  It has three wheels, rear wheel drive, it leans and is fully electric.  Top speed is 35mph.  Toyota calls it the I-Road and is positioning it for city driving.

We walked far and then we got tired and decided to Metro back.  After one stop, the Metro suffered a mechanical.  After waiting for awhile we abandoned and decided to walk back.  Here is a cool building outside of the Metro stop.

Here we are back at the Place de la Concorde.  During the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette and many others were guillotined in the square. 

Our rental car in Normandy had an interesting feature.  If you're sitting at a stop light, or reading a map, or otherwise not moving with the clutch pedal out, the engine turns off.  As soon as you push the clutch pedal in, it starts up.  The first couple of times it did that it was very disconcerting.  This feature is call Start-Stop Technology, and will be coming to the US in the not too distant future.  It's being done to improve over all fuel economy.  The cab we took back into Paris from Orly did it as well.  I don't know how I feel about this.
It was an interesting day. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Bastille Market and Paris Arsenal

In a previous post I wondered about the viability of the famous French markets.  Do not be concerned, they are alive and well.  The presence of more grocery stores does not seem to have made inroads into the culture of the twice weekly market.  The Bastille is a good one.  To reach it you may exit the Metro at Brequet-Sabin on the 5 line, or the Bastille exit on the 1 line.  This stop puts you right in the market so there is no uncertainty as to which way to walk.

It is a huge market. There is much more than food.  For some reason I did not get photos of the bins of ladies underwear.  See the cart the woman in the center of the photo is pulling?  That's an indicator of someone who it there to shop.

There are hats.

There are kitchen implements.  There are many scarf vendors.  After catching the fringe of my scarf in my jacket zipper again, I bought a new silk one today for five euro. No fringe is good.

There are many fruit and vegetable stands.

Some vegetable vendors are more popular than others.  This one had a lot of people wanting to buy.   It's pretty cool, some of the vendors will call out their products, others whistle to get your attention. One of the popular fish vendors had a running "allez allez" going.

This is escarole.  I don't know if it comes like this, or if they fanned it out, but it's a nice display.

There are a few flower sellers.

I admire the French and their willingness to cook difficult things.  Would you know what to do with an octopus?  This is so out of my comfort zone, so is horse meat.  The French still eat horses - it's odd looking.  It's very red. 

Note the dots on the flounder.

This guy was filming the fish monger.  They had a huge hunk of tuna in the case.

I'm hoping he was filming me, photographing him.

The sign says live langostino.  They were lively.  There was one on the left waving.  I got video of it, but can't figure out how to get it up to Youtube.

I have wondered why they leave the heads on the chickens.  It's because they are selling a particular breed.  Leaving the head on allows the consumer to know they're getting that breed of chicken.  It still weirds me out pretty much.

After slow walking in the market, the feet needed a break.  We decided to get coffee.  Two coffees - eleven euro.  Even by Parisian standards this seems a little high.  A three course lunch is fifteen euro ninety!

The other cool thing in Paris is the Paris Arsenal.  There used to be a blog written by Bill and Nancy from San Fransisco.  After retirement, they had an old barge converted to cruise the canals of France.  After a few years of that, they were able to get moorage at the Arsenal and spent a few years there.  They really enjoyed the experience.  It was sometimes very difficult, but overall they loved it.  That was what sparked our interest, but we ended up with an RV instead.

Look at that sky.  We decided to cut the walk through the Arsenal short as we did not bring the umbrellas.  It was a good decision.  The weather is being difficult.  It's nice, then the temperature drops ten degrees, the wind comes up, it rains like crazy and then it's nice again.

For those of you following men's fashion, this is what we're seeing this spring in Paris.  It's the year of the short pant.  Check out the pant length on this stylish young man.  His are the most extreme case to date, but we are seeing a lot of short suit trousers.

There will be more walking around tomorrow, weather permitting.