Monday, August 25, 2008

My Progeny...

Mrs. TBF and I decided a LONG time ago that we didn't want to have children. When we first got married, we thought we'd eventually start a family. But we decided to wait three years. Before we knew it, our third wedding anniversary was upon us. We talked about it, but we decided we weren't ready and that we'd wait a couple more years.

Fifth anniversary? Nope...still not ready.

Seventh anniversary? Nope...too busy raising three cats and a dog.

When we were in Hawai'i in 1997 celebrating our tenth anniversary we talked about the whole "starting a family thing" and we decided then and there that neither one of us really wanted to be a parent...ever! Of course, it wasn't until last year that I took the "final step" to ensure that I would never father a child.

OK...too much info.

Although I'm 100% happy with the decision to not become a father, there is that teeny-weeny voice in the back of my head that wonders what our children would have looked like. Today, while reading some blogs, I came across a website that allows one to upload two pictures to see what their children would look like. The site is:

According to the website, our son would have looked like this. I have to admit that I was a bit alarmed to find that we would have produced a son with a lopsided face. But I have to admit that the hair color is pretty close to the color of my hair when I was growing up.

Our daughter would have looked like this. She actually would have been kind of cute. After seeing these two pictures, I definitely would have preferred a cute girl to a son with a freakishly lopsided face.

Of course, curiosity got the best of me and...

Here would be the result of the immaculate conception (ABSOLUTELY NO MATING WOULD BE INVOLVED) and King. It's strange that I never noticed, but apparently King is black. Who knew?

Had my man-seed somehow fertilized a Scotch egg...THIS would have been the rather unfortunate offspring.

And last but not least...

Had I somehow managed to clone myself, the result would have been...

...a child who looks absolutely nothing like me whatsoever!

Although...I do like to swim!

Sunshine On My Shoulder...

...makes me happy.

It looks like we're going to have some nice weather here in Basel this week.

That being said...

Why am I sitting in the apartment NOT enjoying the nice weather?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another Exemption!

Hand/eye coordination improvement device.

NOT clutter!

Hi-Yo Silver!!!

Today was an excellent mail day!!!

Kind of sad, isn't it? I actually rate mail days...

The mailman buzzed me from downstairs and informed me that he was leaving our recently ordered box of Nespresso capsules in the lobby.


Hey! But that's not all!

When I went down to grab the Nespresso box, I also checked the mailbox and found that I had received my new British Airways SILVER Executive Club card.


Of course, Mrs. TBF has to ruin my fun by pointing out that since I always fly business class on overseas flights anyway, I'm allowed to use Fast Track and the lounge even without having Silver status. Which I then counter by saying: "HA! But now I'll earn BONUS MILES on all of my flights on BA. Ha!"!


Of course, then I'm reminded that Mrs. TBF has GOLD status, and that she can use the First Class Lounge. The only way I can use it is if I go in as her guest.

That's it!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Never Say Never?

We are the proud owners of brand spankin'-new C-permits. These are the permits that allow "us" to continue working and living in Switzerland. I went to our town hall right after coming back from Chicago a couple of weeks ago to apply for them, so the fact that we got them isn't really that much of a surprise.

There was a moment of concern, however, when I noticed as I was waking in to renew them that Mrs. TBF's previous C-permit had actually EXPIRED A COUPLE OF WEEKS EARLIER!!! The expiration on my permit was August 16th, but Mrs. TBF's was actually in July.


However, after I brought it up (aren't I honest?) with the town official, he told me there was absolutely no problem at all. You see, MEN RULE IN SWITZERLAND. The fact that my permit had not yet expired - even though Mrs. TBF is the one who works - meant that we weren't violating any laws. However, I'm kind of enjoying the thought that, technically speaking, Mrs. TBF was a schwarz Arbeiter for a couple of weeks.

Upon receiving the new permits in the mail a couple of days ago (with a rather arbitrary bill for CHF 66), I noticed that the new ones are good for five years; the last ones were only good for three.

Wow! Five years!

Now, I generally try to never say never, BUT...

The chance of us still living here in Switzerland when the new C-permits expire, five years from now, are extremely small. I'm not going to say it would never happen, but...

I'm definitely thinking it!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I hereby propose that my 240 souvenir shot glasses be officially categorized as a collection, and not as clutter.

Those opposed, say nay!




(clearing of throat)


(gavel strikes!!!)

The bill has been officially passed into TBF-Household law!

This session is adjourned!

(gavel strikes again!!!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

THE Crusade!

More specifically, the one-hour anti-clutter crusade - it began yesterday.

Every single day, until...oh...I don't know when, I'm going to spend one hour each morning systematically going through every square inch of floor space/cabinet/drawer/dresser/shelf to eliminate things we don't need. Our house isn't cluttered at all, but...

...there's always room for improvement!

I tackled our not-too-big-bookshelf in the guest room yesterday, and at least 20% of the books are either going into the garbage, into recycling, or are being passed on to other people. Here's my question:

Why keep books?

Sure, we'll keep the books we reference frequently like cookbooks, gardening books, and coffee table books, but why keep anything else? Have I ever re-read a book?


If I feel the urge to read a book a second time, I'll just go out and buy it again. Who needs a bunch of extra books sitting on shelves getting moldy and collecting dust?

Also, while going through the books, I discovered some that neither of us have read that we probably bought fifteen years ago. We'll keep those, read them, then chuck 'em...or pass them on to others.

This morning, I tackled the IKEA cabinet in our office.

Why do...I mean, did...we have fifty 9x13 mailing envelopes and about a zillion letter-sized envelopes?


Old APS camera?


Carrying case for a Sony Discman?


French and German workbooks?


Oh...and here's a little bit of advice:

Don't waste your own money on foreign language classes, books, or tapes UNLESS YOU HAVE AN INCREDIBLY STRONG DESIRE TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE!!!

I mean, how many people are out there, and how many BILLIONS of dollars have been spent on foreign language classes/materials with the result being that the people who bought them can't speak the language even at a conversational level AND the materials are just sitting on some shelf taking up space...getting moldy...collecting dust?

Learning a foreign language is a good thing, but...


Wow! Few things give me as much pleasure as a manic, clutter-purging binge.

I think I need a cold shower!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Easy Like Sunday Morning...

Mrs. TBF often plays tennis with Dr. Rammy (neuroscience) on Sunday mornings. I love it when Mrs. TBF plays tennis because it means that:

she gets exercise,

she has girly-time with Rammy, and...

I get T.O.B. when she gets home.



Saturday Soiree...

The non-stop entertaining schedule continues...

Two of Mrs. TBF's work colleagues and their spouses came over for dinner on Saturday evening. The weather was absolutely perfect, so we enjoyed starters (roasted red pepper roll-ups, mortadella packets, and chicken liver crostinis) and champagne up on the rooftop. Then we all came downstairs for dinner (stuffed zucchini blossoms, cold melon soup with crispy prosciutto, cedar planked salmon, veal chops with potatoes Lyonaisse, beans from our garden, and carrots) all washed down with various wines. After dinner, it was back upstairs for more al fresco dining; cheeses followed by meringue with berries and some dessert wine.

Let's see now...



Didn't we have four people over for dinner?

Oh...THERE he is!

I guess all that fresh air was too much for him.

The Bug Doctor

Our old neighbor, entomologist/"bug doctor" Dr. John (not to be confused with the current, neuroscientist Dr. John) came into Basel on business for one night, and one night only. I hadn't seen him since I met him in Amsterdam nearly three years ago, and Mrs. TBF hadn't seen him in about four years.

John the Bug Doctor and his family moved from Basel back to the U.S. about five years ago. Except for the fact that Mrs. TBF and I are both significantly lighter than we were back then, we live in a new apartment, and Dr. John has a new hip (modeling his scar here with our friend Dr. - of chemical engineering - Andy), it seemed just like old times when we got together.

Sure, Dr. John still refuses to stop living in the glory days of the 60s and 90s Packers (face it...Favre is gone and NOT coming back!), but that didn't stop us from having a nice dinner, drinking a few beers, and talking about things past, present, and future.

He has another trip to Basel scheduled for the end of the year.

Double Dr. John Party?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Yet Another Note To Self...

Note To Self:

Don't show up at the Migros just before 8:00 a.m.


Don't show up at the Migros just before 9:00 a.m. either.

I walked into the Migros at around 8:55 this morning so I could pick up a few odds and ends - the store was practically empty. A quick in and out, right?


Apparently, all of Switzerland takes a break from work at 9:00 a.m. because as I walked up to the lone cashier at around 9:03 a.m., there was a 10-deep line of people all buying some variation of sandwich/snack and beverage. Naturally, the moment I put my stuff on the conveyor (by this time there were about five people behind me in line) another line opened up and everybody behind me jumped into the just opened line.

Lesson learned!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Making The Hard Decisions...

I just got off the phone with a VERY pleasant, English speaking customer service representative from our local utility - EBM. I've been mulling over our most recent utility bill for the past couple of months now, and I finally decided that today was the day that they would be receiving a call from me.

I've noticed the words "EBM Strom CO2-frei" on my last couple of bills. I figured that we had been voluntarily signed up for carbon offsets without my permission, and I decided to call to find out just how much this green tax was costing us. If it was a reasonable amount, no problem. I mean, I buy carbon offsets for travel all the time, so no big deal.

As it turns out, I found out that everybody is automatically enrolled in the carbon offset program (the standard product) unless they opt out. There is an option to pay a lower non-carbon offset rate, and there is also an option to pay a higher fee that is called "EBM Strom atomfrei" - whatever that is. Nicole - the VERY pleasant, English speaking customer service rep - told me that the atomfrei rate is for "...people who are rich and have nothing else to do with their money." Nicole was kind of sassy! I liked her.

In the end, I opted for the cheapest rate. What really kind of ticks me off about these different rate structures is that the sales tax (7.6%) is charged on all three of them. That means that the Swiss tax man gets extra tax money from people who are paying extra to offset their carbon footprint. I just don't think that's right. What I think the utility SHOULD do is charge everybody the lowest rate and then allow people to buy carbon offsets WITHOUT PAYING THE SALES TAX ON THE ADDITIONAL AMOUNT.

I thought long and hard (about two seconds) before making my decision, but I eventually decided that saving 35% on our utility bill was worth the inconvenience of a little climate change.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Life's A Beach!

In case anybody is interested, here's a link to pictures we took during our beach week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Comfort Food

We've had yet another brush with celebrity.

I was enjoying my 1.5 hour snooze on the sofa in the Concorde Lounge at Heathrow when Mrs. TBF woke me up (the NERVE!!!) to tell me that our flight would be boarding soon (oh...thanks!).

Oh...and by the way, Mrs. TBF...thanks for the flattering photo. Revenge WILL be sweet!

While I was wiping away the crud from my eyes and the drool from my cheeks, I glanced over Mrs. TBF's shoulder and noticed a BA employee fawning over a man who looked very familiar. I heard the BA lady say "Just let me know if there's anything at all I can do for you...." and the celeb-dar in my groggy brain began beeping.

The man just sat there staring straight ahead as if he was in a trance, so he didn't notice me staring, trance-like, at him. I stared, rubbed my eyes, stared a bit more, and then it hit me...


I noticed on his official website that he had performed in London the night before, so I'm 100% sure it was him.

He was sitting with a lady, but he didn't say one word to her. He just sat there, staring straight ahead, like a zombie. Was he tired from the previous night's performance? Hungover? Sleeping pills? Who knows? I guess selling over 70 million albums, appearing in a bunch of movies, and touring relentlessly is hard work.

...I wouldn't know.

But I'm happy to announce that the 13-month brush with celebrity drought is officially over!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

We Saw A Sign...

...on a Christian academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois yesterday that said:


So now that we've suddenly discovered that our cat is Jesus Christ, we figured it was about time we got headin' back to Switzerland so we can show him some love.

It's approaching 7 p.m. in Chicago, and we're just sittin' here in the BA Lounge enjoying a couple of cool drinks and looking at the beautiful blue Chicago sky waiting for our 8:25 flight to London.

We feel like we've been away from home for a looooooooooooong time! I guess it HAS been two weeks, but it actually feels longer than that; maybe it's because we've crammed so many things into the past fourteen days.

I have to admit that I could stay here (a lot) longer, but Mrs. TBF has to get back to work, AND...we don't want to tick-off Jesus.

Talk to all youse guyses soon!