Sunday, August 19, 2018

Give Me a Choice

"Pepsi Max?" "No, merci."

The American corporate monopoly disease has penetrated even small restaurants in Europe. It's outrageous.

We were in a small, Moroccan-themed restaurant in Perpignan, and I ordered a Coke Zero. The waitress suggested Pepsi Max. They carried only Pepsi products.

To me, Pepsi Max tastes like brown sugar water. There's no zing to it.

What's more irritating is the lack of consumer choice. The restaurant has opted to make a deal with Pepsi to carry their products exclusively, and in return they get a discount, ie extra profit.

I get water.

I first encountered this approach in Dallas, where Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made a deal to carry only Pepsi products in his football stadium. That's his choice. It's my choice not to attend any games and give any money to JJ - especially the exorbitant ticket prices, which he needs to pay the numerous felons he recruited for the team. (JJ also made a deal with Papa John's pizza, whose owner recently made racist remarks and severely undercut his business.)

I am offended, too, that Terminal D, the international terminal for Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, only carries Pepsi products. Dammit, I want to take a Coke Zero on a long flight across the ocean, not be stuck with watered-down fizz.

If you have a business that serves the public, then give the public a choice. Don't just serve your own greed.

Sometimes I Shop Like a Woman

This is a dueling blog with D-L:

Well, not like some women. Not helter-skelter, checking out everything in the mall in search of another so-called sale.

But compared do Donna-Lane, we definitely reverse roles when it comes to shopping. She tends to get in, get what she wants, and get out, and hopefully no one gets in her way to the checkout.

I do that sometimes when I know just what I want and where to get it - printer ink, for example.

But when it comes to clothes, sports equipment, furniture, books, I love to browse, check out all the possibilities before making a decision. Or no decision.

Recently, we decided to buy a new car. Or rather a new used car. Something with air conditioning and four doors. We thought about looking in Switzerland, but ran out of time before heading down to Argeles sur Mer. D-L had contacted the dealer in France who sold us our current car, a 1999 Peugot 206 which has held up surprisingly well which now has 255,000 km on it. But no aircon, requiring that in the summer heat we make the drive between Geneva and ASM in the middle of the night so as not to overheat Sherlock (and us).

The dealer had something he thought we might like, so we went out to his place to check it out. Aircon, yes. Four doors, yes. But a boring gray, not a colour as we preferred. And above the price ceiling we had set. We drove it on the highway for a few minutes. "Let's take it," D-L said, surprising me.

My style of car shopping is to check out several cars, test drive them, research their reliability on the internet, haggle on price. Might take a few days, maybe a month before I decide to buy. Especially since I am unfamiliar with the European car models.

We pick up the gray Renault Modus next week. And then look for someone to paint a design on it so we can find it in a crowded parking lot.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Into Thin Air

In the past two weeks, I have played golf in the hottest temperature I have ever played in (110F in Texas) and at the highest altitude I have ever played at (2,500 metres, or more than 8,000 feet -- 1 1/2 miles up).

If I was ever going to have a heart attack, one of those would most likely have been the day (other than shoveling snow last winter in Geneva). 

I don't know what possessed someone to route a golf course at the top of a mountain in the French Alps … and down the sides. (Golf de Flaine -

This is part of the road to Flaine
The 360-degree scenery was absolutely spectacular -- it's the first time I have ever used snow on distant mountains as an aiming point for a shot. But walking 18 holes, even relatively short holes, was an exercise in endurance. On some holes, I found myself stopping part way up the steep slope to hydrate and catch my breath. And it seemed as if every hole was uphill -- even the par 3s where the tee and green were about the same level required a hike down a hill then back up to the elevated green. My clubs often came in handy as walking sticks.

These were the "steps" up to the 7th tee box
The bottom of the course, the spectacular 187-metre 16th, is 1000 metres / 3000 feet below the summit.
My kilted partner nails a 6-iron on the green at the precipitous 16th.

The occasion was the annual playing of the Scottish Golf Cup, sponsored by InterNations, a group in Geneva which encourages people from different nationalities to get together for various social events. There were plenty of kilts and plaids.

As it happens, our group won the low gross. I think we were 2 or 3 under par. Earned each of us a can of haggis and assorted other goodies.

The highlight of the day was a bagpiper suddenly appearing at the top of the mountain, playing tunes to which some of the golfers sang the lyrics.

Memorable day.