Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Won't Do That Again!

I bought a "fresh" tuna fillet, late this afternoon, at the local grocery store. There was a bright orange sticker on the package indicating that it was marked down by 50%. I looked at the "sell by" date, and it was today; hence the discount.

Feeling that it might be a bit risky, I put the Thonfisch back on the shelf, looked at a few other pieces of fish, picked up the 50% off fish again, looked it over, determined that the discount was worth the risk, and...threw it in the basket.

A few hours later, I seared it on the BBQ. Normally, I would only sear it for about 90 seconds per side, but since the fillet was a bit old, I decided to sear it for 2.5 minutes per side; a total of five minutes. It tasted fine, although I thought it was bit overdone.

An hour after dinner, I was in the midst of a torrential downpour.

...and I'm not talking about rain!

I guess you get what you pay for.

NOTE TO SELF: Don't ever buy fish on the "sell by" date again! EVER!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Only Thrrree Morrre Days...

...until Septemberrr.

Septemberrr is an "r" month, and that means...OYSTERRR SEASON IS ALMOST BACK! I haven't had an oysterrr since Aprrril, and I can't wait to slurrrp down some of that mucilaginous, salty goodness.

I guess it's time for me to break out my trusty oyster knife and revert to my "crazy shucker" fall/winter persona. Let's see if I can keep alive my six-year streak of NOT stabbing myself in the left palm.

...hope I didn't just jinx myself.

Of course, oyster farmers want you to believe that it's OK to eat oysters during the non-"r" months, but oysters need a period in the spring to recuperate from the winter so that they can reach their peak. Also, according to this website, "...oysters spawn in the summer, which can alter their flavor and texture. Oysters are best eaten when they are not feeling frisky." Or, as my friend Dr. Andy says: "I'm not eating oyster jizz!"

Maybe I'll drrrive overrr to Frrrance on Frrriday and pick me up a box of huîtres...even though it'll still be August. I hope they're all done spawning.

I meant the oysters...not the French.

Tale Of Two Blonds...

I was reading my August 2007 issue of Blender on the way to London from Chicago, and I came across an interview with Miranda Lambert. I had never heard of her, but there was a picture of her which caught my eye. Ok...SHE caught my eye, but the quote that was under her picture is what really ended up catching my eye...after I was done looking at her.
"If God didn't want us TO EAT ANIMALS, he wouldn't have made them out of meat."
Apparently she's a country singer who's really into hunting, and claims that "...every animal I've ever killed, I've used for food." Whatever. At least she's got an opinion into which she seems to have put some thought.

On the other hand, here's another blond who definitely has some sort of opinion, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what it is.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Metro Moment...

Here are the before and after pictures of my eyebrows.

The first picture is of me on the flight from London to Chicago laughing my ass off while watching Blades of Glory (highly recommended!). Please note the unchecked growth of my eyebrows into my eyelids. Fearing that my eyebrows would eventually grow through my eyelashes into my eyeballs, I decided to take action.

While Mrs. TBF was at her salon in the midst of her once or twice yearly haircut, I sashayed upstairs for a manicure and an eyebrow waxing. The manicurist is Russian, and the waxing lady is Ukrainian. So it is in Chicago...

I like Lucy (real name: Ludmila) the manicurist a lot because she always tells me that I could be a hand model. I usually consider it for a second or two, but then I have visions of having to walk around wearing oven mitts like George did in Seinfeld, and I just realize that it would make me too darn sweaty. So, I just bask in the glory of having good-looking hands that rarely experience any sort of manual labor.

The waxing lady (forgot her name), on the other good-looking hand, has to be the direct descendant of a prison warden. I'd never had my eyebrows waxed before, and although she was as gentle as she could have possibly been, I'm going to say right now that it's highly likely that I'll never have it done again. Da-aaaam did that hurt! Regardless, I now have a guide as to where the lower border of my eyebrow should be, and now I can (hopefully) pluck out the errant hair with Mrs. TBF's eyebrow tweezers as needed. Knowing me, I'll probably have to resort to using a hedge trimmer.

My brother-in-law has his eyebrows threaded. That doesn't seem as painful. Maybe I'll try that next time I'm in Chicago.

Oh, and by the way...

I also had a chemical peel, and went to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned (NOT whitened) while I was in Chicago. Am I a metro, or what? My score on the "high maintenance" meter is definitely higher than Mrs. TBF's.

So far, I've had only one (unsolicited) comment: "Did you have your eyebrows waxed? I HATE when men have their eyebrows waxed!"

What do you think?

What Did I Miss?

Nearly half of the day...that's what!

I woke up at 11:15 this morning. That's kind of sad, considering that I went to bed at 12:30 this morning; early for me when Mrs. TBF is out of town (Atlanta).

That's only about seven hours later than my drive-Mrs.-TBF-to-the-airport-for-her-6 a.m.-flight wake-up yesterday morning.

...guess I needed the sleep.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Puttin' On The Pounds...

Why do I always gain weight when I go back to North America?

Could it have anything to do with Doritos, Fritos, potato chips, Corn Nuts, Cheetos and Mountain Dew Code Red (somewhere in Wisconsin), 24oz. porterhouse steak, corned beef hash, poutine, double Whopper with cheese and bacon, BBQ ribs/side orders/beers with blogger and non-blogger friends at Smoque, Asian food, sushi with friends and family, etc., etc., etc...

Yup...thought so.

The Streak Is Still Intact...

Mrs. TBF's streak of not flying overseas in economy for six years, that is.

I'm happy to report that "the fine people" at BA upgraded us to Business Class BOTH WAYS on our recent trip to Chicago. That's a BIG high-five!!! When you're 6'5" like I am, BC makes all the difference. Sure, I still have to lie in a fetal position in order to sleep in the seat, but it's a helluva lot better than trying to squeeze into an economy seat.

Mrs. TBF has been informed (and has agreed) that I will, from this day on, never fly overseas in economy again. We've decided that we're going to sell our car, and the annual savings (about CHF 10,000/U.S. $8,000) will pay for about three Business Class round-trips between Basel and Chicago. For me, it's totally worth the extra money - better seat, Fast-Track check-in and security, use of the lounges, and not having to rub shoulders with the commoners (...take it easy, JUST JOKING!!).

Can you say TRAVEL DIVA???

Thanks for everything, BA! I even forgive you for "misplacing" Mrs. TBF's suitcase (just for one day) on the return flight home.

It could have been a lot worse...

Our flight from Chicago to London was delayed about 3.5 hours this past Thursday due to thunderstorms that passed through Chicago. Of course, it was completely sunny when we arrived at O'Hare, and everything seemed like it would be OK. While we were in the BA lounge sampling their various offerings, we heard an announcement that the airport was closed to arrivals and departures due to passing T-storms. However, the storms cleared, and we boarded the plane and it looked like we were only going to be delayed by an hour. Then, while taxiing on the tarmac, the airport was shut down again a couple more times, and we ended up taking off at about 8:20 p.m. instead of 4:45 p.m. We didn't realize how severe the storms were until a couple of days later when we found out that my sister and her family (along with 100,000 other people in the Midwest) had been without power for 2+ days.

Landing at Heathrow around 10:00 a.m. meant that we missed our 8:30 a.m. flight to Basel, and that meant we had to camp out in the BA Lounge for several hours because the next flight to Basel wasn't until 2:30 p.m. After wolfing down a bunch of lounge snacks, I found a comfy spot in the corner of a nice big leather sofa. I leaned my head back, and...proceeded to fall asleep for two hours with (according to Mrs. TBF) my face pointed up toward the ceiling, and my MOUTH WIDE OPEN!

I wondered why my throat was so dry when I woke up.

"You know, you could have woken me and told me to close my mouth," I told her. I guess she was too busy catching up on e-mails and making bid-ness calls! Too busy, also (unfortunately) to take a picture. Oh well, at least I didn't drool.

...I think.

Oh...and why am I writing this post a 6:40 a.m.? Well, that would be because I dropped Mrs. TBF off at the airport at 5:15 a.m. so she could catch a 6:00 a.m. flight to Frankfurt where she will connect for a flight to Atlanta.

It looks like it's just me and King until Friday. I guess it'll give me a chance to do some blogging...for a change!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mrs. TBF Is Very Excited!

No...not because she'll be flying overseas in economy for the first time in at least six years.


She's excited because we looked up the movies on our London to Chicago flight, and Blades Of Glory is still in heavy rotation on British Airways.

Sure, she's seen it about five times already on her many recent flights to the U.S. and Singapore. However, she's looking forward to watching it with me so that she can see me making a fool of myself while laughing my ASS off (I've never seen it before) in a sardine can full of annoyed passengers.

Yup...back to Chicago tomorrow. Then, it's off to Canada on Friday for my cousin's wedding, and then back to Chicago on Monday. After all the various appointments we've crammed into the two whole days we're in Chicago, we'll be needin' a vacation after our vacation.

Mrs. TBF will have her work laptop with her, so we'll probably be posting from the HoJo in Sudbury, Ontario sometime this weekend.

Until then, eh?

I Learned...Real Good!

As a matter of fact, I learned two things this past weekend.

The first light bulb lit up over my head this past Saturday night...

We had some friends and their daughters over for a nice barbecued leg of lamb (I'm happy to report that my new wireless remote meat thermometer works!!!), plus wave after wave of various courses and sides prepare by Mrs. TBF. While we were enjoying our dessert, the husband (He'll remain anonymous because I don't want to embarrass him.) was admiring some Finnish glass birds we have on our dining room sideboard, and he suddenly said: "Those birds have a real jizz."

TBF: "Ummm...'scuse me?"

Apparently noticing that my jaw had dropped onto my plate, our friend explained what he was talking about. As it turns out, a bird's "jizz" refers to the immediate recognition of a bird from the briefest of glimpses. I thought it might be a British expression (he's British), but I think it's actually more of a birding expression.

Self-restraint prevailed, and I thought it best, since the kids were within earshot, not to "teach" our British friend what "jizz" is in American slang.

The second episode of getting my learn on occurred on Sunday afternoon while Mrs. TBF and I were getting our tans on...

While we were soaking up rays, Mrs. TBF suddenly wondered out loud "...why is The Beast so interested in that part of the garden?" As it turns out, the "part of the garden" King was so interested in was the very part where I've been dumping the ash from our charcoal grill. I walked over toward King - who was squatting over the ash - and I arrived just in time to see him making a feeble attempt to cover up his pee in his new rooftop litter box.


That was a lot of learning for two days. My brain was really tired after that, so I wasn't really up for any learnin' on Monday or Tuesday.

I'm not holding out much hope for today either.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Workin' Hard!

Mrs. TBF has had a tough schedule as of late. Normally during the summer, Mrs. TBF's schedule relaxes a bit. We stay at home in order to avoid the summer crowds throughout Europe, Mrs. TBF's colleagues (and just about everybody else, for that matter) are on vacation, Basel is a ghost-town, and life slows down to a snail's pace.


This year has been different. Mrs. TBF's schedule has not slowed down this summer, and she is rundown...worn out...EXHAUSTED!!! She's tired a lot, the traveling (four trips to the U.S. and one trip to Singapore in the last couple of months) has worn her down, made her sick, and...SHE NEEDS SOME R & R!

That's why, during last weekend's R & R weekend, we decided to return to THIS PLACE! That's right...our Mecca of total rest and relaxation, and the place that I don't really want to mention because it's soooo great and I don't want to risk it getting overrun by tourists.

The weekend has been booked, and we'll be there in mid-September.


Doesn't somebody turn 45 that weekend?


Is there any other household chore more rewarding than power-washing the (...insert your area/object here)?

...just wondering.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

How Not To Negotiate...

Mrs. TBF and I will be going to Chicago in just over a week, and while we're there, we'll be driving up to Sudbury for my cousin's wedding. Naturally, we'll be needing a car to drive while we're there, so I just booked a rental car through Enterprise.

A brief aside: I always book through Enterprise, and I always pick up the car (close to my sister's house) at their office in Barrington, Illinois. Why? Simply because the guys who work there are the most eager to please, energetic, service-oriented guys I've ever encountered. They always offer to make me a fresh pot of coffee, and I'm pretty much always upgraded at no extra charge to a bigger car just because I'm "a big guy". But, the best thing is when I drop off the car and they ask me: "Was there any part of 'your rental experience' that could have been better, or is there some aspect of our service that we could improve upon." Once, when returning my car, I told them that the inside of the front windshield had been a little dirty, but it was no big deal - I had just cleaned it myself. The guy not only apologized profusely, and told me that it would never happen again, but he also REMEMBERED the incident A FEW MONTHS LATER on a return trip to Chicago and told me that he would PERSONALLY make sure that the inside windshield was thoroughly wiped down. Amazing!

So...back to renting our car for our upcoming trip to Chicago/Sudbury.

First, I tried reserving the car online using Mrs. TBF's company's corporate ID number. I got a rate of something like $310 for the week, including 1050 free miles and then 25 cents per mile for each mile after that. Dollar signs began to flash before my eyes, seeing that the trip to Sudbury and back alone is about 1300 miles. So, I decided to see what happened if I tried reserving the car without the corporate ID number.

You guessed it...

It was cheaper. In fact, quite a bit cheaper - $255 for the week for a "Premium Car" (Mrs. TBF didn't want the "Luxury Car" because it would be a Cadillac or a Lincoln Town Car), and UNLIMITED mileage.

Hey, all you folks in purchasing at Mrs. TBF's company...

Way to go negotiating those corporate contracts!!!

Welcome To Our Weekend...

Last weekend might have been our best weekend of the year, so far. What did we do? Not much, that's what. EXACTLY as we planned!

It all began with a fish...

It all began on Friday when I went to the Migros Fish & Co. in the heart of Basel and picked up this nice, big, extremely fresh, whole lake trout. Why it took me seven years of living here to find out that there was a nice Migros fish store in Basel, I'll never know. Unfortunately, the trout was already cleaned (this Canadian finds pleasure in cleaning his own fish!), but I still had fun washing it (even though it didn't need it), brushing it inside and out with a quick mixture of butter/dry vermouth/lemon juice/chopped fresh tarragon, and plonking it on the grill. Eight minutes per side, and...VOILA! Mrs. TBF was incredibly impressed by how I masterfully pulled off the skin and pulled out (most of) the bones without tearing the fish to shreds, and then we enjoyed it on the balcony with a nice bottle of Riesling.

On Saturday (after waking up at 10:15), with no particular agenda in mind, we decided to go taste/buy some Bordeaux at the Mövenpick Cave. Mrs. TBF had been suffering from a cold for a couple of days (DAMN airplanes!), so she decided to go to buy some lamb for dinner and left me to do the tasting. Keeping with tradition, we didn't leave the wine store empty-handed. We brought our wine to our friends' house where we store some (276 bottles...and counting!) of our wine in their beautiful, climate-controlled wine cellar, and then, as far as errands go, THAT WAS IT!!! The rest of the weekend was spent getting our tans on and grilling. It was, for the most part, just me, Mrs. TBF, and King. Don't get me wrong...we love getting together with our friends. However, it was really nice just spending the weekend together at home - just the two of us (with an occasional special appearance by King). The weather was PERFECT! I'm talking blue skies, 30˚C/mid-80s ˚F, breezy, with low humidity. As I've said before: If the weather was always like this, I'd live here the rest of my life!

People always wonder if I get bored not having a job. The answer is: ABSOLUTELY NOT! Actually, I do have a job: taking care of EVERYTHING so that Mrs. TBF and I (and King) don't have to do anything but relax during our weekday evenings and on the weekends. Last weekend was an example of a job well done!

I think I'll give myself a raise...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday Flashback: Monimutkainen (complicated) Edition...

It's yet another "lazy" Friday Flashback. This week, I'm going back to...

...last Friday!

OK...I know...pretty lame! However, I have a good excuse for not blogging over the past week or so because I've been recuperating from minor, elective, "man" surgery. I won't get into the graphic details, but let's just say that a bag of frozen peas and some baggy swimming trunks came in handy last Friday. OK?

...'nuff said!

And what does one do on a Friday evening after having surgery on a Friday morning? Well...have some Finnish relatives (Jorma, Leena, and Otto) you haven't seen in five years over for a BBQ, of course!

Here's the monimutkainen (I'm trying to use that word a lot because I just learned it last weekend and I don't want to forget it!) part:

Jorma and my mom are first cousins which makes him a blood-relative of mine.

Leena is married to Jorma; not a blood relative of mine.

Otto is Jorma and Leena's son (...and my godson) which makes him my second cousin (pikkuserkku, in Finnish) according to this chart I found on the internet.

My question is: What does one call how I'm related to Jorma? First-and-a half cousin?

Regardless...I guess the four of us are truly related by the fact that we all have 100% Finnish blood! Sorry, Mrs. TBF...

We had a really nice get-together. The last time we saw each other was in Finland five years ago, and it was great having them all on our "turf". Who would have thought five years ago that Mrs. TBF and I would still be living in Switzerland? Not us, that's for sure!

The five of us sat up on the rooftop and enjoyed a beautiful evening; clear, warm, and breezy. Fortunately, for Mrs. TBF, Jorma and Leena speak English very well, so I didn't have to act as interpreter the entire evening. As a matter of fact, I had to make an effort to speak in Finnish with Jorma and Leena because I noticed at times that they would speak to me in English even when Mrs. TBF wasn't around, and I need to practice my Finnish every chance I get!

So...two sets of Finnish relatives in one month.

Who's next?