Monday, February 28, 2005

Now I've seen just about everything! But, I haven't tasted it...yet.

I stopped at our local Coop this afternoon to pick up a few groceries, and something really unusual caught my eye while I was looking for prune juice ('s not for me. Mrs. TBF's mom is coming to visit in a couple of weeks, and Hell hath no fury like Jo without her prune juice!). Actually, it's something I can't even begin to imagine could posess any sort of commercial potential. What is it you ask? Why it's....SAUERKRAUT JUICE. I am not kidding, I saw sauerkraut juice at the grocery store today. I picked it up, I held it in my hand, I considered buying it, and I chickened out. But fret not...I'm sure I'll be buying it soon. Now that I know it exists, it's something I just must try. And when I do - I'll be sure to let you know how it tastes. You know?? All this talk about sauerkraut reminds me of one of my famous brain-freezes from a few years ago.
Shortly after moving to Switzerland, I decided one day that I was going to make some sausages and sauerkraut for dinner. At the time, I could barely count to ten in German and going to the grocery store to look for items I had never bought before always brought on a bit of anxiety because I feared having to ask somebody where a particular item was. It would usually involve me belching out a simple question in what I thought was German but in actuality was more like a cross between Esperanto and one of those tribal African languages with the popping/clicking sounds. Plus, nine times out of ten, the store employee I'd be speaking to was probably French (most of the grocery store employees are), and they wouldn't have the slightest idea what I was saying. So, I walked around Coop for a couple of minutes trying to find sauerkraut without any success. Then, I figured I'd have to actually ask somebody where it was. When I began to rehearse the question in German in my head, I suddenly realized that I had no idea how to say sauerkraut in German. I actually looked in my little German pocket dictionary and I couldn't find it in the English section. This was unbelievable!!!! How could something so German not be in the German dictionary??? Right when I was about to give up, I simultaneously realized that Sauerkraut IS German (DUH!) and I looked up to see it on the shelf in the cooler directly in front of me at eye level. I grabbed a couple of bags, paid for my stuff, and slinked out of the store in disgrace.
So, let's fast-forward about 4½ years. Not only do I know that Sauerkraut is a German word, but I also know that Sauerkraut Saft means sauerkraut juice, it exists, and I'm probably going to be trying it for the first time in the very near future.

Hey...let's talk some shit.

Here's Dominique pooping on her rooftop "litter box" on February 27, 2005.  Posted by Hello
One of the best features of our new apartment is that the entire rooftop is ours, and ours only. Most of the rooftop is tiled and landscaped, but a fairly large portion of it is planted in a natural, prairie-style planting. The previous owners mentioned to me that it was just a "...bunch of weeds", so I figured that I would eventually just landscape it myself at some point. One thing I didn't really consider was this area's potential as a lazy way of taking Dominique out for her rather frequent need to relieve herself (afterall, she is almost fourteen years old). We were taking her down in the elevator, down the front steps, and over to a grassy knoll about thirty meters away from the front door of our building. Most of the time, Dominique wouldn't make it to the grassy knoll, and she would end up doing her business on the rather ornately grooved tiles in front of our building. This would result in me either getting out surgical tools to remove her dookie from the grooves....or just leave it and pretend it was somebody else's dog. I think you can figure out which option I chose.
Then one day, our neighbor Suzanne asked why we didn't just bring her up to the roof to do her business. It was like being hit on the head with Duh!-hammer. Since those brilliant words came out of Suzanne's mouth, I'd have to estimate that 90% of Dominique's peepeeing and poopooing has taken place in the rooftop "nature preserve." And be not concerned, because I pick up after our baby every time she drops one of her little land mines. I just grab a bunch of poo-bags from the Robidog bin when I walk by one, and I keep them in good supply next to the door that leads out to the roof.
I have to admit that it's so convenient that this past Friday night I actually took a pee up there myself while I was waiting for Dominique to finish. I'd be willing to bet that Suzanne is now regretting having given me the idea!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

A Mrs. TBF milestone...

I forgot to mention, Mrs. TBF hit her goal weight at her weigh-in yesterday. She has lost 30 pounds/13.6 kilos since September 1, 2004. She looks great!!! I can't stop slapping that taut po whenever she walks by me.

Ich liebe es...

That's German for "I'm lovin' it!", and that's definitely what I'm feeling.
It's probably the snowiest day in Basel since we moved here, and on my way to pick up Rammy and Mrs. TBF from the Münchenstein Tennis Center I made a quick (and rare) stop at the local McDonalds.
As I pulled into the McDrive, I noticed that they were promoting today's special - the Rösti Special. What is the Rösti Special you ask? Well, it's an intoxicating combination of an all-beef patty, with tons of cheese, a Rösti (the Swiss version of hash browns) patty, and a couple of strips of bacon on an fried onion bun. It was unbelievably good. Perhaps I'll have to stop at Mickey Ds later in the week to sample another daily special.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Take a chance... stupid ho!. Those are the rather catchy lyrics from Gwen Stefani's song "What You Waiting For." And, imagine my shock and dismay when I discovered this past weekend that the various SKY video channels that have the video in heavy rotation have made the rather silly editorial decision to bleep out the word - HO.
For those of you who aren't as "street" as me (oh...and by the way...when did it become pronounced "SHTREET"? Why has "SHT" become an accepted American prounounciation of every word that begins with an "ST"? Has everybody suddenly turned German on me???), ho is short for whore. Why has ho/whore suddenly become offensive to people? My guess is that a group of rather sensitive high-class prostitutes have lobbied against the music video channels to get them to bleep out this term that they find offensive - as if it somehow undermines the professionalism they have worked so long and hard (I'm sorry if you found that offensive) to achieve. I think people are just becoming too gosh-danged sensitive. All of this reminds me of some words or wisdom from one of my former work colleagues - David L. (I'm not sure if he'd want me to use his last name).
I worked with Dave for several years at my last company. Over the years I was amused by the fact that he was a devout Christian, went to church every Sunday, and...he swore like a truck driver (which was fitting because we were account managers for a trucking company). One day, I asked Dave how he justified peppering his vernacular with the word FUCK (...sorry if I've offended you) while attempting to adhere to the tenets of Christianity. Here was his response: "It doesn't say you can't say FUCK in the Bible!" Those words of wisdom have stuck with me through the years, and I've occasionally felt the need to repeat them in order to knock the easily-offended off of their pulpits. Their response is always the same: "Well...I find it offensive." And my response is: "Who cares?" And getting back to Gwen Stefani, my guess is that a handful people have called in to complain about the use of the word ho in her video, and they've managed to create a new swear word which is probably used a zillion times a day by English speaking people throughout the world.
I wonder if they're going to have to bleep out Santa Claus next Christmas. Bleep, bleep, bleep...Merry Christmas. There are going to be an awful lot of angry rednecks when they have to start calling them dad-burned things bleep-downs. It looks like Smith and Hawken have already buckled to the pressure by changing the long-used garden hoe to "precision weeder."
It's at times like these that I have to remember Dave's words of wisdom. It doesn't say you can't say ho in the Bible. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it!

Friday, February 18, 2005

King has gone "High-Tech"!!!

As I mentioned earlier this week, I went to Qualipet to buy some pet supplies. Among the things I bought was a "Kitty High-Tech Mouse" for King made by a German company called Karlie. One of things I really enjoy about buying things in Europe is that the back of the package usually has instructions/information translated into several languages. Now, mind you, this is not really a "high-tech" piece of equipment as the manufacturer implies. All it really is is a small fishing rod with a catnip stuffed mouse at the end of the line that squeeks when you bounce it off the floor. However, this fact has not deterred the good people at Karlie from feeling the need to list the highlights of their product in seven languages - German, English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, and Russian. Here is the English translation which I found rather amusing:

Here comes the high-tech mouse!
-Just the slightest contact and the cat hears the "real sound of mice" - an integrated chip makes this possible and the cat cannot tell the difference between this sound and the "original" sound of mice.
-With new safety mouse, which means to say with soft felt eyes, ears and tail, no sharp corners [Oh, I sense a previous manufacturing flaw? Perhaps the eyes, ears, and tail were previously made and barbed wire?]
-With the scent of catnip (cat mint)
-Active toy to promote instinct and concentration. [I must point out that it did pretty much drive King into a frenzy. So, instinct yes. Concentration? Let's not push it.]
-Many exciting hours [huh?] of play between animal and people.
-Immediately ready to use [Liars!!! There was some assembly required!]
-Do not leave the animal to play on its own. Do not eat. [Is this last comment directed toward the "animal" or the "people"?]

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

This fall...I'll be having it MY WAY!!!

BIG NEWS!!!! BURGER KING IS COMING TO BASEL THIS FALL!!!! I can smell that flame-broiled smell wafting over the Bahnhofplatz already! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

What a difference four years makes...

I did one of my classic Swiss outings this morning/afternoon - Qualipet, Media Markt, and IKEA. However, before I went to the BIG THREE, I had to stop off at the Motorfahrzeugkontrolle (or, MFK) to change our address on our drivers licenses.
Four years ago, when I was in the process of changing from our Illinois license plates to Swiss plates, the MFK (I began substituting something else for the "M" and "F") was the bane of my existence. It was incredibly disorganized, most people refused to speak to me in English (and my German skills were practically non-existent), and worst of all: nobody would provide me with a list of all the things I needed in order to get my Swiss plates. It was absolutely one of the most frustrating experiences of my life!!!! I had to go to the MFK four times in order to get my plates. Each time, a person would tell me something like: " that you have these [useless] pieces of paper, you must go get this form from your pastor swearing that you did once drive an orange Vega." I'm exagerating slightly, but it wasn't too far from what I experienced. On the fourth trip, I begged an employee who spoke English to PLEASE provide me with a complete list of everything I needed, and he told me that all I needed was one piece of paper from my insurance agent. Luckily, I had the agent's phone number, asked the man if he would call the agent and have him fax him a copy, and surprisingly enough...he did just that. Although he had to throw in a "...this is highly unusual..." just for good measure.
Fast forward to four years later....
I walked into the MFK, and I was surprised to see that they now had a very organized number system. I pressed a button, and received number 516. I looked at the board and found that number 514 was currently being helped. About seven minutes later my number came up, and I went to a window where I was helped by a Herr Rüdisühli. I was able to tell him in German that my wife and I had just moved from Reinach to Binningen, and that I needed to change our address. He took our paper drivers licenses from me, went to a typewrite where he just put xxxxxxxxxxxx over the old address, typed the new address next to it, and put the official Baselland stamp next to it. It took about two minutes, and I was out of there! I kind of wish I hadn't put an hour's worth of coins into the parking meter.
On I went to buy some cat food from Qualipet along with a cat toy for King (I just can't pass up those stupid cat toys). After Qualipet, I drove to Media Markt where I bought some printer cartridges and stereo cables. Then, I went next door to IKEA.
When we first moved to Switzerland, I spent A LOT of time at IKEA. As a matter of fact, one time Mrs. TBF and I were in downtown Basel at Manor (a department store) and a man going down the escalator said hello to me in English while we were going up the escalator. Mrs. TBF asked me who he was, and I told her that it was the warehouse guy from IKEA. I just got an "!" with the simultaneous eyes rolling up into the head...a classic Mrs. TBF look which I have had the pleasure of seeing at least about 5,000 times since we were married.
Anyway, I had to buy a small cabinet for our bathroom, and I actually understood the lady when she told me in German that I would have to pick out my own handles in the kitchen area before getting the rest of the stuff from the warehouse pick-up area after I paid for everything. Four years ago, I would have brought the boxes home, unpacked everything, assembled the cabinet, and then I would have hurled out a stream of expletives at IKEA, Sweden, and anything else that I could think of while wondering WHERE THE HELL THE @#$*&@#!!! HANDLES WERE!!!
So, I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now. Let's see if I still feel the same way after trying to assemble the damn cabinet.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I'm wasting away to nothing!

At the beginning of the year, I weighed about 113 kilos/248 lbs. which is pretty normal for me. On January 20th - the last day I went to the gym before our move - I weighed 109.9 kilos/242 lbs. The only thing I consciously did as far as dieting is concerned was that I switched from using heavy cream to using skim milk in my coffee (a MASSIVE sacrifice...believe me!). I was six pounds lighter, and Mrs. TBF was disgusted by the ease with which I lost the weight (by the way...she's lost 26 lbs. on Weight Watchers).
Two days ago, because of the move, I went to the gym for the first time since January 20th. I felt like my clothes were kind of loose, but I was shocked when I stepped on the scale and saw that I was....107.2 kilos/236 lbs. I LOST 12 POUNDS IN A MONTH WITHOUT EVEN TRYING!! It must be that I lost muscle weight during my gym hiatus. Either that, or I have a tapeworm the size of a cucumber!

Just say NO to drugs....

...I sure as Hell can't. I guess I should clarify. I'm talking about veterinary drugs.
Just about every time I go to Dr. Buser's office to get a refill on one of Dominique's drugs, I walk out with the latest viel besser medication. Today, I went to get some arthritis medication that I squirt on Dominique's food everyday. I came out with that AND a special arthritis medication for those extra-bad arthritis days that may (or may not) be coming up in the future. So, I guess I'm a sap when it comes to the pets.
At least I AM able to pass up on the constantly improving Swiffer...
Is it my imagination, or is there a new type of Swiffer every time I go to the grocery store? Yesterday, I saw a Swiffer that squirts liquid and wipes. It's ridiculous, and it must be stopped! Who decides that the world needs this kind of stuff? What happened to the good old-fashioned mop and bucket? HMMMMM...let me think about this for a moment...

People buying Swiffer wipes and liquid refills = company making money.

People using a mop for several years and filling a bucket with soapy water = company not making money.


People...this is mass brain-washing. You don't need it. My mom plunged my old pajamas into a bucket of water with some Spic (isn't this a little politically incorrect) 'N Span, or dishwashing liquid, or whatever was handy, and the floors were spotlessly clean.
Come to think of it...I'm pretty sure my mom NOW uses a Swiffer. Maybe it's not such a bad thing afterall.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


We have survived the move to Binningen! I just hooked up my computer, and I'm back in the blogging business! I'll resume blogging again on a regular basis over the next couple of days. That's all for now!