Friday, June 24, 2005

Makkara Man!!!

Greetings from Helsinki.
I left hot Zürich yesterday evening and arrived in pleasantly cool Helsinki at around 11:30 p.m. By the time I arrived at the Hotel Kämp at around midnight, the restaurant was closed. I could have ordered room service, but I decided to walk around town a bit...and I'm glad I did! The reason for my glee? A hot dog (makkara)cart on every other street corner. I walked up to the first one I saw, asked for two hot dogs, and the guy gave me a choice of two hot dogs on two buns for 4 Euros, or two hot dogs on one bun for 3 Euros (the Finns think of everything!) I opted for the latter with mustard, relish, and grilled onions, and then I told the guy I'd be back for more if I was still hungry after eating it.
I walked around for about a half hour (the sun doesn't set in Helsinki until about 11:30 p.m.), did a little window shopping, observed a bunch of drunk young Finns stagering out of night clubs, and then I went back to my now-favorite makkara purveyor and ordered more grub. After inhaling a couple more hot dogs with nary a bite, I went back to the hotel.
Perhaps it was the fact that it wasn't really that dark out, but I ended up not going to sleep until about 2:30 a.m. At 4:00 a.m. (I'm estimating), I woke up in makkara induced distress but was too tired to do anything about it.
At 8:00 a.m., I was rudely awakened by my watch alarm, showered, and went down to breakfast where I probably ate - and I'm not exagerating - twelve to fifteen breakfast makkaras!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

It's 11:04 p.m.

After seeing Kansas, we pulled out of the parking lot at 10:50 p.m. We were home at 11:02 p.m. How convenient. One question: Does playing at an old warehouse in front of about 500 people in Pratteln, Switzerland really count as being a part of a "European Tour"? That's what it said on the t-shirts they were selling for 35 CHF a pop. Actually, it said "Kansas - European Tour 2005".
Seriously, if I had tried, I probably could have snaked through the crowd and touched the stage. It's kind of sad.
I first saw Kansas at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin in probably 1978 or 1979. My guess is that they played in front of 20,000 people. Then, I saw them at Poplar Creek in Hoffman Estates, Illinois in 1980 in front of 18,000 - 20,000 people. Shortly before we moved to Switzerland, I saw them with Bob and Jackie (Mrs. TBF had conveniently planned a business trip for the night of the concert...after we had already bought the tickets) at Ravinia in Highland Park, Illinois. It must have been 1999 or 2000. I'm not sure how many people were there, but it must have been at least 5,000. Five years later they're playing in an old warehouse not too far away from the Pratteln IKEA in front of a crowd which isn't too much larger than their road crew probably was in 1978.
There were some good rock moments, but overall they sounded a bit old and tired. I'd skip seeing them when they perform at your kid's school's next PTA meeting.

This is a test...THIS IS ONLY A TEST!!!

Originally uploaded by thebigfinn.

This is a picture of James, TBF, and Mrs. TBF taken by Lenka at the Lausanne Beer Festival on June 4, 2005. I was testing to see if I could figure out how to use flickr to send photos to my blog. It looks like I did it!

To better serve you...

I just downloaded software for a browser by Mozilla Firefox. Whenever I blogged using my Apple Safari browser, the icons for links, bold print, italics, etc. wouldn't come up. Now, I'm able to do everything I did before. I can italicize foreign words again... s'il vous plaît!
Now, I'm just going to have to get going with my iPhoto (still putting photos into the PC) so that I can add pictures to the blog again, and then I'll have to get my website switched over to Apple. For some unknown reason, there is no Mac version for Yahoo!'s SiteBuilder software - which is what I've been using.
Baby steps! Afterall, TBF is very busy.

Local celebrity???

I just returned from bringing King to the vet for his bloodtest. The fasting, ride to and from the vet, and blood test went fine.
Tonight, before we go to the Kansas concert (Mrs. TBF's just sooooo excited. Yeah, right!), I'll call Dr. Buser to find out if there's anything wrong with King. Hopefully he still has a few good years in him. Afterall, I did just spend about twenty francs on netting for the balcony to keep him from...well, you know.
As I approached our parking garage, I saw an elderly man with a big beer-belly waving to me. So, I waved back. He looked confused, and when I looked in the rearview mirror, I noticed that he stared at my car for the longest time. Here's why:
We live right by this restaurant called the Bottmingermühle (Bottmingen's mill), and the owner has the same exact Jeep that we have. It's the same year, same color, same interior...everything's the same except the license plate. The owner of the restaurant (which our neighbor Suzanne calls the "Myuuulaayyy" which I find really funny), is this 50ish gentleman with a big beer-belly who tends to wear white t-shirts. Today, as I was passing in front of the restaurant in the Jeep wearing a white t-shirt, the beer-bellied pedestrian, who obviously frequents the joint, must have thought I was the owner of the restaurant. Upon passing, he realized I was an imposter...and then he probably proceeded to call the police to tell him that the "Myuulaayy-mobile" had been stolen. Not really. My guess is that he walked across the street to this restaurant to check things out with the owner, who probably then told him that it's not illegal for other people in Switzerland to have the same vehicle as him.
Anyway, this isn't the first time this phenomenon has happened. The first time it happened was back in March when Mrs. TBF's mom was visiting. We were driving to the grocery store, and she said: "...there's some old man waving at you!" I kind of put two and two together, and realized what was going on. It's happened a few times since then, and I find it all rather amusing.
On a sidenote: The absolute best thing about the "Myuuulaayyy" (she kills me!) is that it closes at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, and it doesn't open again until Monday. THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED ON SATURDAY NIGHT!!! Can you believe it? I've never heard of anything like it before in my life! There's a bowling alley in the basement, for God's sake!!! They'd make a killing on Saturday night just from beer sales. But, no! They're closed. I can understand Sunday. But, Saturday??? Mein Gott! You've gotta love the Swiss!

In a nutshell...

Friday, June 17, 2005:

I went to IKEA. Among the things I bought was a houseplant and stainless steel pot. I bought a similar sized houseplant and pot at a local Swiss nursery a couple of weeks ago, and it cost 200 CHF. The plant and pot combo from IKEA was...80 CHF. Go Sweden (...sorry, dad!)!!!

I bought pet supplies at Qualipet. Included in my haul was a netting system that will hopefully prevent King from plummeting to his death from our fifth-floor (fourth-floor in Europe) balcony.

I didn't feel like working out, but I still went to the gym. I listened to Rammstein and System of a Down on my...I mean, our...iPod. Three hours later, I walked out of the gym with incredibly bloated biceps. Ahhhhh, the power of heavy metal!

We're worried about King (our cat). He hasn't been eating properly, and he looks kind of skinny. So, I made an appointment for him to see Dr. Buser on Monday. King must have overhead me talking to Dr. Buser on the phone, he proceeds to eat us out of house and home over the weekend.

Friday evening, Mrs. TBF and I went to John and Rammy's house for supper and to break in their new Weber patio fireplace. Something I ate gave me incredible gas, and after a couple of beers I had fun asking people to pull my finger in order to help me release some of the aforementioned gas (Mrs. TBF: does that count as something I shouldn't write because your co-workers read my blog? Just checking.). Fire...good!

Saturday, June 18, 2004:

Mrs. TBF went for a manicure/pedicure, and then we met at the Swisscom store. After nearly five years of being cell phone free, TBF is finally strong-armed into getting a cell phone so that Mrs. TBF can keep in touch with him while he is in Finland next week. Mrs. TBF - happy. TBF - not happy. Technology has changed in five years. TBF does not totally understand how phone works. Mrs. TBF will have to show him. PIN code???? What's that???

Seeing that TBF was not happy, Mrs. TBF suggested going home and preparing some veal kidneys for lunch (isn't Europe great?). TBF eats kidneys on balcony while worrying about King plummeting to his death. The netting will have to go up soon. Veal kidneys - good. Cell phone - still evil!

On Saturday evening, we went to Jarl and Sharon's house for a going away party. They're moving back to the U.K. It was an excellent, catered soirée (figured out how to type French letters on Mac. Wendy: thanks for the tip, but the keystrokes you sent me are for a PC, not a Mac. Thanks anyway.). I worked some German language "schtick" with the ladies who were BBQing. They told me that my German was good, and they piled extra meat on my plate. Swiss catering ladies - good! Cell phone - still bad, and sitting at home on dining room table not being used! Highlight of the evening??? When we commented on Henry's new sunglasses, and he decided to put them on while holding a glass of champagne...spilling entire glass of champagne onto his right shoulder leaving a big wet mark. Henry...funny!

Sunday, June 19, 2005:

TBF called his dad to wish him a happy Father's Day, and found out that his Uncle Leo in Finland died. The funeral will be on the Friday when TBF is in Kauhava with his father. TBF no longer owns a suit. A navy blue jacket and Dijon mustard colored pants will have to do for funeral clothing. TBF hopes Finnish relatives understand.

Mrs. TBF and TBF sit on rooftop garden and enjoy sunny, 30º weather. TBF puts SPF 6 sunscreen on his head, neck, and shoulders. The rest of his body ends up slightly sunburned.

On Sunday evening, TBF and Mrs. TBF went to Kirk and Gretchen's house for a BBQ. Bill and Sabrina were there also. TBF met Kirk and Gretchen through his/their blog. Bill and TBF met at the gym. Bill works with Kirk. Kirk and Gretchen live right by John and Rammy. Small world! The BBQ was a lot of fun, and I just finished eating leftover lemon-poppy seed cake this morning with coffee. It's all good!

Monday, June 20, 2005:

TBF brings King to see Dr. Buser. Dr. Buser seems to feel that King is just getting old (he's 17) and losing muscle tone and doesn't require as much food because he's not as active as before. Dr. Buser also advised TBF that King will have to return tomorrow for a precautionary blood test after fasting for twelve hours. A healthy King is good. King who has fasted for twelve hours and is forced into his car crate for a ride to the vet for a blood test.....VERY BAD!!!

Oh. oh... This nutshell has become very large. It's time to stop.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I'm feeling a bit paranoid...

I'm not really sure why, but the last couple of times of gone over the border, the border guards have pulled me over and asked me for my passport. Last week, when I drove into Germany, they had me pull off to the side of the rode while they went into their little booth with my passport. I could see them in my sideview mirror looking at every page of my passport and typing stuff into a computer.
Today, as I was returning from grocery shopping in France, the Swiss border patrol had me pull off to the side after asking me for my passport AND my drivers license. Then, one of the men wanted to look in the back of the Jeep to see what I bought. I was under all my duty-free limits, so I had nothing to worry about. After a brief debate where I had to convince him that duck breasts counted toward the poultry limit and not the red meat limit (he had to ask his superior), he thanked me in Finnish by saying "kiitos". Apparently he recognized the origin of my last name.
My guess is that there is some big bald fugitive hiding out in Switzerland and I happen to match the description. Or, maybe they're just kind of bored. I was, afterall, the only car pulling up to the border crossing at the time.
And, on another topic...
Mrs. TBF and I have now lived in Switzerland for almost five years. There are MANY things I prefer about living in Switzerland as opposed to living in the U.S. However, the one thing I miss from America probably more than anything else (other than being able to regularly see family and friends) is... good old American dry cleaning. Although it does cost twice as much here than it does in America - it's not the cost that bothers me.
The first thing that bothers me is that if you walk into the dry cleaners and there are two people in front of you in line, it's going to take close to ten minutes before you're served. It's just INCREDIBLY slooooooooooooowwwww! They look at just about every tag on every garment to see the cleaning instructions. It's a dry cleaner for God's sake...just dry clean it!!! What's the problem??? Then, they have to put a number tag on every single piece that you're having cleaned. The guy two in front of me in line must have had his wife's entire winter wardrobe on the counter. There were scarves, and wool pants, and a down jacket....AAHHHHH!!! Then, the lady behind the counter would say something in French that I understood to mean "...for this garment we have two cleaning possibilities" ....AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Then, the guy didn't have enough cash, so he had to pay with his credit card ...AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The lady in front of me was having the most bizarre stuff dry cleaned. She had this ruby red ruffled dress, and then a matching corset-like bodice with about thirty buckles on cleaning instructions... "...for this garment we have eighty-four cleaning possiblities!" .....AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then, it was my turn - no questions, no looking at the cleaning instructions, I paid, she told me it would be ready tomorrow afternoon - I felt gypped.
The second thing that bothers me is that the cleaning is just not as good as it is in the U.S. At Village Cleaners in Barrington, Illinois, Mr. Kim would always take care of TBF (and still does when TBF returns to Chicago). The clothes would come back perfectly cleaned and pressed. My "extra-heavy starch" request would always be honored (I'd tell him that I wanted to be able to slice lunch meat with the shirt cuffs). The clothes would actually look better than new. French dry cleaning - kind of pressed, but some wrinkles. The collars and cuffs usually look like they need to be touched up. Starch is pretty much unheard get the picture.
And here's the worst part of it...French dry cleaning is about ten times better than Swiss dry cleaning. Swiss dry cleaning costs twice as much as dry cleaning in France, it takes up to TWO WEEKS to get your stuff back, and it's pretty wrinkled when you do get it back some time the following month. Swiss dry cleaning is so slow and so expensive that I'm convinced it's better just go to the U.S. with six month's worth of dry cleaning, have it cleaned there, and then just bring it back. The cost savings will pay for the airline ticket, and you'll have it back at the same time as you would from the local Swiss cleaners.
I guess I'm complaining a bit today, so I guess I just have to look at the positive side of all of this. The dry cleaning experience here is not comparable to what it is in the U.S., but it still beats the ultimate horror - ironing my own clothes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I just saved at least 5,000 CHF!!!

I went to Art Basel today. It's an annual contemporary/modern/abstract art show at Basel's convention center, and let me tell's quite the freak show! I saw your usual artsy folk dressed in black, smoking cigarettes, and acting like they were important or something. But, I also saw some real freaks. The best freaks were a man and woman walking arm in arm, with shaved heads, and identical outfits - fishnet hose, fuzzy pink neon shawls, very heavy eye makeup, etc., etc. And, they had to be over fifty years old. FREAKS!!!
My favorite piece from the "...I could do that!" category was a plastic ice cube tray that was screwed to the wall (flat side facing the wall), and somebody (apparently the "artist") had written "I'm very thirsty" on the back of it with black magic marker. FREAKS!!!
I noticed that there were a lot of "works" that were pretty much just a canvas that had been entirely painted black. Man, what I'd give to have copyrighted the "black painting" a few thousand years ago....I'd be rich!!!
Another theme I noticed was a white piece of paper which somebody had scribbled on with a black magic marker (probably the "artist's" child), slapped a cheap frame around it, called it "untitled", and then had the nerve to charge something like 5,000 CHF for it! One of these "works" even showed a price tag of 8,000 Euros, and the frame was 500 Euros EXTRA!!! CROOKS!!!
So, on my way home, I remembered that I had a couple of IKEA frames that I bought for 10 CHF each a couple of years ago for no reason other than the fact that they were on sale. Upon arriving home, I went down to our storage locker, blew the dust off of one of these frames, took off the backing, and scribbled directly onto the inside of the glass with TWO markers - a black one and a blue one. I scribbled with the black one using my right hand, and I used my left hand to scribble with the blue marker. Therefore, I decided to name my "masterpiece" - Left/Right. Come to think of it...I should have called it Right/Left! Given the fact that I used two colors and actually titled the piece, I think my artwork should go for at least 7,500 CHF. My version of the "Black Canvas" is next. That one will actually take me about thirty minutes from start to finish, so I'll probably have to ask about 10,000 CHF for that one.
No checks or credit cards. Cash only, please! I'll accept Swiss francs, Euros, and U.S. dollars. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I think I need some vegetables!

Over the past few days, my diet has consisted of mostly meat and other fatty foods - and it's beginning to take it's toll. It kind of reminds me of October, 2001 when we met our friend Dave in Munich, and after a couple of days of consuming nothing but beer, meat, potatoes, and sauerkraut, he said "...I think I need a carrot or something!" That's exactly how I'm feeling right now.
Our ex-neighbor Tom, who now lives back in America, spent the night at our house on Friday and Saturday nights. I grilled up some veal chops on Friday night - and so began the meat/fat odyssey. For lunch on Saturday, we ate at Gifthüttli (a Basel landmark) and I had some Älplermacaroni. It's basically pasta, potatoes, lardons, and a bechamel sauce that's grilled under the broiler. On Saturday night, the three of us went out with Geraldine (who was in town visiting from the U.K.) and I had a buttery pasta starter followed by a pizza (I guess there were some vegetables on that). Then, on Sunday, we had a bunch of friends over to celebrate Andy's birthday.
Mrs. TBF made some foie gras; pasta with a sauce consisting of crabmeat, butter, and heavy cream; a zucchini and leek tart with a wild rice crust; and I barbecued a bunch of beef and lamb chops. This was all follwed by Mrs. TBF's ice cream cake with an Oreo cookie crust (sorry people...ancient family recipe...can't give it out!). Of course, we washed this all down with champagne and wine (a 1982 Burgundy that we all bought for this occasion while we were in Burgundy a few weeks ago).
If this wasn't enough, yesterday I went golfing (I actually didn't golf...just drove the cart) in France with John, Henry, Andy, Pat, and Phil, and I had steak for lunch. Then, Mrs. TBF and I had leftovers from Sunday night for dinner.
So, as you can see, I've kind of overdone it in the rich/heavy foods department over the past few days. There are just a few leftovers to get through tonight, and then I think I can get back to a more reasonable diet. Of course, there's the new McDonald's "Road To America" promotion going on here in Switzerland. So, I guess I'll have to try one of the new burgers for lunch today.
Hey...I think there's some lettuce on the burger. That counts as a vegetable...doesn't it?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Military precision...

I have a very strict schedult today to which I must adhere. It started out this morning with Mrs. TBF and I going to Geant (How the heck do type French letters on a PowerBook? I have to figure that one out!) in France to do a bit of grocery shopping. We're only allowed to bring 500g of duty-free meat per person back into Switzerland, so we needed two bodies in the car so we could bring back 1 kg.
I dropped Mrs. TBF off at the office and then I headed back home to unload the groceries. I was going to unload the groceries and then head over to Lang (a butcher shop), but I saw a parking spot right in front of the shop, so I parked my car and went in to buy seven racks of lamb. Incidentally, while I was at Lang, I noticed that they have USDA ribeye steaks for...get this...7.50 CHF per 100g. That comes out to about $27.00 U.S. per pound! I used to eat a 1.5 lb. ribeye steak just about every week right before we moved to Switzerland. That same ribeye here in Binningen would cost me $40.00 U.S.! I think I'll save the money and just fly to the U.S. every few months and gorge on steak while I'm there.
After returning home, I unpacked the groceries, ate a little bit of late breakfast, and now I'm going to pack my bag and head off to the gym right after I finish blogging.
After the gym, I'll go down the street to the Asian Market and pick up some frozen lump crabmeat that Mrs. TBF needs for a recipe on Sunday, and then it's back home to finish up yesterday's house cleaning marathon.
Tom's in town. So, he'll arrive this evening, we'll have some dinner, and then he's going to spend a couple of nights at chez M. et Mme. TBF's house.
It's 11:29. I allowed myself blogging time until 11:30. Ciao!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


I rarely run. Four knee operations have ensured that I live a rather slow moving existence. But, last night, I actually tore into a full-on sprint.
Mrs. TBF had a business dinner last night at the Gundeldingerhof Restaurant in Basel's Gundeli neighborhood with a bunch of her colleagues. I have to say that I was jealous because I really like eating there, and spouses were not invited. So, I decided to just settle down to a couple of hamburgers prepared for me by Helmut and a couple of beers. Later in the evening (it was actually when I was blogging my rant about my bad hamburger bun experience), the phone rang and it was Mrs. TBF inviting me to join the group at the restaurant for an after-dinner drink.
I threw on some clothes, looked at my watch, and realized that I had about two minutes to catch the next tram - otherwise it would be a fifteen minute wait.
I barreled out of the front door of our building, jumped down to the sidewalk from about the fifth step, looked back to make sure that I hadn't shattered the sidewalk tile (or any of my bones), and walked at such a brisk pace that it barely qualified as walking.
As I turned the corner around the Migros grocery store, I saw that the tram was already at the stop - about fifty meters away. My first thought was: too late! But then some primordial instinct took over and, before I even knew what I was doing, I was sprinting directly toward the tram.
The tram began to move ever so slightly, but I forged ahead undeterred. At this point, the tram driver must have seen this large blur of Finnish flesh heading directly at him and he not only stopped the tram, but he also opened the door for me! As I passed in front of him - leaping the last couple of meters for good measure - I gave him a wink and a nod and disappeared into the tram where I was met by about ten pairs of staring eyes. Even the couple who were making out stopped to stare.
About ten seconds after I sat down, I realized that I my heart was beating pretty hard (but not pounding!), and I definitely felt about a gallon of adrenaline coursing through my veins. I also realized something else - RUNNING IS COMPLETELY OVERRATED! It's way too much work.
Anyway...I walked into the restaurant about fifteen minutes later where I had a nice time with Mrs. TBF and her colleagues. And, I'm happy to report that I didn't have to run to catch the tram home.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Dear Quality Bakers...

...of Garrel, Germany:
Your "Mega Burger Buns" hamburger buns SUCK!
Every year, when I make my unbelievably good TBF burgers (this year I'm making them on my new Weber Genesis grill - his name is Helmut!) for the first time, I'm aghast at your company's sheer disregard for quality control. I feel that it is my manly right that the first bite I take out of my TBF burger should not result in my top-bun shattering into no less than 14 pieces. This is an unmitigated outrage.
My friend Andy (he has a PhD in one of the sciences) tells me that the reason this happens is because of your refusal to use enzymes in the baking process. Please begin using said enzymes immediately. If you used the same attention to detail in the baking process that you use in translating the ingredients list on the back of the package into 20 languages, perhaps this correspondence would not be necessary.
I will, from now on, buy only Harry's hamburger buns at Geant in France. My friend, Dr. Andy, assures me that they use his company's enzymes (doh!) in the baking process. Thank you for your time.
You suck!
Mit freundlichen gruessen...

Mrs. TBF's going to be really excited about this one...NOT!

Last night, instead of helping Mrs. TBF clean up after dinner, I told her I had to go into our T.V. room so that I could listen to Rich Williams of the band Kansas being interviewed on Planet Rock. After she was done cleaning up, and I was still listening to the interview, we discussed the menu/shopping list for a dinner party we're having at our house this Saturday evening. Well...she talked, I half-listened and occasionally shushed her when I couldn't hear the interview, and...the long and short of it is that a menu and shopping list were assembled (I think).
One of my duties for this dinner party involved me having to go to a butcher shop in Binningen called Lang so that I could check out about getting a certain cut of lamb. As I was walking from the bus stop to the butcher shop, a poster with the word "KANSAS" jumped out at me from my peripheral vision. It turns out that they are playing at a concert venue in Pratteln called Z-7 (about 15 minutes from our house) on Tuesday, June 21st. I am soooooooooo there! Styx is actually playing at the same club on the following Monday, but I'll be in Finland. Kansas on Tuesday...leave for Helsinki on Thursday...what a week that will be. I'm livin' da good life!
Oh yeah...and I bought some lamb.

Monday, June 06, 2005


After drinking beer and gorging on festival food this past Saturday at the Lausanne Beer Festival, I figured that I must have gained about five kilos. However, I weighed myself at the gym this afternoon and to my surprise found that I was even lighter than I was after my recent bout with the flu - 104.9 kilos!!!! That's 231 lbs.!!! I can't believe it!
Oddly enough, I was actually weighed at the beer festival. This group of young ladies was walking around the beer festival celebrating the upcoming wedding of their friend who was dressed up as a pregnant nun. For some reason, they were walking around asking men to step on a scale, asking them where they were from, and then logging this information onto a sheet of paper they had on a clipboard. They seemed pretty excited when I walked up because they probably thought the scale might break. I told them jokingly that I thought I weighed 120 kilos and was rather concerned when their scale showed that I was 115 kilos. I told them that my clothes must weigh 10 kilos. Their scale WAS wrong. I weighed myself on two different digital scales at the gym today, and both of them showed 104.9!!!

I'm a lead foot...

...because I was caught speeding THREE times in two days by speeding cameras. These are obviously new cameras because I was caught on roads that I drive on all the time while never paying attention to the posted speed limit. As a matter of fact, I wasn't even sure what the speed limit was on these streets. But, now I know.
I was caught on May 30th at 16:23 going 39 km/h in a 30 km/h zone and on May 31st at 10:35 going 36 km/h in a 30 km/h zone on Bodenackerstrasse in Bottmingen. The "competent Swiss authorities" take off 5 km/h as a margin of error, so I received two tickets of 40 CHF, the second one for going 1 km/h over the limit (that's about .62 mph...just over one-half of one mile per hour!!!). Also on May 31st, I received a ticket at 11:20 on Reinacherstrasse in Muenchenstein for going 59 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. That amounted to another 40 CHF (about $32 U.S.).
The thing I really hate about these speeding cameras is that you get caught speeding if you just accidentally go over the speed limit. In both of these cases, I was probably driving on roads with very little traffic just minding my own business. I wasn't in any hurry, just enjoying the scenery, and then...FLASH! It's all totally cut and dry. They have a picture of you speeding, and that's it - you pay the fine. I guess there's a way to contest it, but if they have the picture I don't think there's too much you can do about it.
So, needless to say, we took the train to Lausanne this past weekend where we had a really nice time. Our hotel -which we arrived at at about 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening - was really nice. We enjoyed a nice dinner at the hotel on Friday night and slept-in until about 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. After grabbing a quick bite to eat at a little sandwich shop by our hotel, we took the bus to the Musee de l'Art Brut where we checked out art that was produced by schizophrenics and other people with some serious "issues." After the art museum, we had a nice al fresco lunch, went back to the hotel to freshen up, and then met our friends James and Lenka at the Lausanne Beer Festival.
This is the fourth year in a row that I've attended the festival. It's right on the shores of Lake Geneva and it's just a great annual event packed with great beers from around the world, excellent festival food, terrific scenery, live music, and French-Swiss people who definitely enjoy life more than the German-Swiss people of Basel.
Every time we go to the French-speaking part of Switzerland, we marvel at how different it is from the German-speaking part. Let me tell you right now...if we ever had the chance to live in the Lake Geneva area of Switzerland, we'd do it in a second!!! And, we'd probably live there for the rest of our lives - it's that good! Plus, I've heard that they don't really have many speeding cameras in the French part of Switzerland. That's just icing on the gateau.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Damn we're healthy!!!

I didn't mention that Mrs. TBF went for the results of her blood test from her check-up of about a month ago. Her cholesterol came in at a very respectable 4.23 (anything under 8 is good). That translates to about 160 on the U.S. scale. By the way, the U.S. is the only country that uses the scale where anything under 220 is considered good. The rest of the world - including Canada - is on a completely different standard. According to Dr. Schwarz, the U.S. pushed to get the whole world on a world-wide standard, and then they decided to not go along with everybody else after the entire world had switched to this new standard.
Anyhoooo....I say that Mrs. TBF's level was "respectable" because it did not equal yours truly's alarmingly good level of 3.19 from about a year ago. That's about a 121 on the U.S. scale. I remember Dr. Schwarz kind of looking at me as if I were some sort of X-Man when he told me this level. There was some talk about how he expected it to be high because I'm a big man. After revealing to me that I was in excellent health, he proceeded to tell me that I had " dietary restrictions whatsoever." And, I have followed his advice by continuing my strict regimen of limiting myself to no more than two servings of red meat PER DAY, fatty food, beer, wine, cigars, Pringles, etc.
I do have to give credit to my parents. They also have very low cholesterol levels, and I'm sure that they passed on the gift of low cholesterol genes to The Big Finn.
To DA GOOD LIFE!!! Cheers!!!