Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, 2008!

To: All our friends, relatives, bloggers, and anybody else who might stumble upon this blog.

From: TBF, Mrs. TBF, and a very uncooperative King

We hope you all have a great Christmas Eve, Christmas, and continued jubilation through the New Year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

We've been in London for the past few days celebrating Mrs. TBF's birthday. In all the excitement (including a bout with the flu), I forgot that Hanukkah began last night. I'll have some catching up to do with the menorah (and my candy Advent calender) when we get home, but I guess this one will have to do until then.

Right now, we're sitting in the BA lounge at Heathrow waiting for our return flight to Switzerland. I'll post some pictures from London in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Maybe I DO Need The Practice...

If you'll recall, Mrs. TBF suggested earlier this year that I book a Mobility car every couple of weeks so that my driving skills wouldn't become "rusty". After a quick self-examination, I determined that I was indeed NOT retarded and I just let the suggestion drop to the wayside along with past suggestions involving walks which would culminate in picnic lunches and other things that I won't mention so that I don't fall victim to a middle-of-the-night-rolling-pin-to-the head.

Not needing the practice driving, but needing to run some errands last Wednesday, I booked a car. Sure, it snowed all day, but everything went without a hitch and all errands were completed successfully. Today, I had another car booked, and when I walked to the parking spot to pick up the car, it was, again, snowing like a banshee!

Hmmm... Now that I think about it, maybe I should book a car for Christmas Eve so that we're ensured a white Christmas.

So I jumped into the little, red, Honda Jazz just after 11 a.m. and took off to run my errands. First, I stopped at the pet supply store and bought King a load of cat food. On the way, I noticed that the car sounded a bit funny and that the ride seemed a bit rough, but I figured it probably had something to do with the snow on the road so I just let it go. After buying King's food, I walked next door to Wyss Nursery and bought a Christmas tree. It took a bit of engineering, but after putting down the back seats I managed to cram the tree into the car.

On the way back home, I began to notice a funny smell - like metal burning.

Why are the wheels locking when I come to a stop?

What's that smell?

What's that weird, bright red symbol on the instrument panel?

What's this strange lever next to me that's sticking up in the air?

What the...? Doh!!!

It turns out that I had been driving with the parking brake on the entire time! When I thought about it, I remembered that when I got into the car, the keys were in the ignition, and the transmission was still in drive. I thought it was strange, but obviously the person who had the car before me was used to driving a stick instead of an automatic, and she (had to have been a woman!) had engaged the parking brake before turning off the engine.

Me, having only driven automatics in the flat, Midwestern U.S., would never even THINK to check if a car's parking brake is engaged. I mean, I think I've probably used a parking brake maybe twenty times in the past 30 years of driving. FU**ING parking brake! Sheesh!

I'm happy to report that the car performed perfectly for the duration of my remaining errands...

...once the parking brake had been disengaged!

Evil...But Sooooo Good!

I just saw a little snippet on the Chicagoist blog about something that is now officially my new obsession. Ladies and gentlemen, meet my new obsession:

country fried bacon!

Dip some bacon in batter and then deep-fry until golden brown. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, so good!

NOTE TO SELF: Pay a visit to Wiener and Still Champion at 802 Dempster Street, Evanston on your next trip to Chicago.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Got Into A Fight...

...yesterday evening, with the common cold.

I was just sitting around reading a magazine, and I suddenly felt my throat getting scratchy. Seeing it as a good excuse to take my beloved generic Night Time Cherry Flavor cold medicine that I bring back from the U.S. (Mrs. TBF says I'm addicted), I did just that. Although I did sleep like a rock for over eight hours, I did wake up with a sore throat.

So how does one fight a cold? I...
...fight the sore throat by gargling with salt water.

...pound Vitamin C tablets even though there's no real proof that it does anything to help.

...drink the blessed nectar from heaven cherry elixir, and...

...whine like a baby so that Mrs. TBF will wait on me hand and foot when she gets home from work.*

I'm open to suggestions. What do you do?

*My cold hasn't yet developed into a full-blown man cold. But Mrs. TBF doesn't know that. Does she?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Flyin' High...

'Tis the season for feeding the birds. Much to the chagrin (I'm sure) of our downstairs neighbors, we set up a bird feeder on our balcony during the cold months so that our little winged friends don't starve. Also, another reason we do it is to provide King with some entertainment - we call it "kitty cable". King just sits at the window, watches the birds, and goes about making strange noises...mesmerized! He'll be twice as mesmerized this year as we've added a suet feeder channel to his cable subscription.

The reason I think our neighbors don't like our bird feeder is because the birds make an awful mess. I end up having to sweep/vacuum up the huge amount of seed shells/mess that ends up on our balcony, and that wouldn't be so bad if it was just a mess on OUR balcony. However, I've begun to notice the seeds on the walkway leading up to our building, so I'm sure that the seeds are also ending up on the balconies of the people who live below us too. I kind of feel

Oh...who am I kidding? As long as the neighbors aren't complaining, I don't give a rip!

Earlier this week, I noticed that we were running low on birdseed, so I picked up a bag at the local grocery store, brought it home, and noticed for the first time ever that our birdseed mix contains hemp seed. Is this legal? Obviously it is here. But...would this be legal in the U.S.?

I guess I should hold off on feeding the birds for a few days before any trip to the U.S.; wouldn't want to end up being surrounded by drug-sniffing dogs at O'Hare Airport.

Happy 1,000 To Me!

This is the 1,000th posting on The Big Finn's Big Blog. I guess I should really say 'Happy 1,000 To Us' even though Mrs. TBF hasn't blogged for ages (...ahem!). But regardless of who's been doing all the blogging, it's still a milestone. I figure that the average blog post is about 200 words, so that means TBFBB is equivalent to a 200,000 word novel.

How many pages would that be?

My first post on this blog was on June 17, 2004. That means it took 1,638 (4 years, 5 months, 24 days) to reach the big 1,000. At this torrid pace, I should reach 2,000 on June 6, 2013. I'll be 50 years old then.


Will I still be blogging then? Will blogs still exist? Will some other format take its place? I don't know...facebook is pretty darn easy...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Someone Had To Do It!

I just returned home a little while ago from a babysitting adventure. Actually, since the kids (whom I've known for seven years) are 13 and 11, "baby" isn't really the correct term. Dad was out of town on business, and Mom had to suddenly go out of town for the night, so "Uncle" TBF was called in for a little "adult" (snort!) supervision.

Imagine...somebody entrusting me with the safety of their children. I feel like such a grownup.

I actually walked into the house last night and sang: "Here I come to save the dayyyyyyyyyyy!" Since these American kids have lived outside of the U.S. nearly their entire lives, they actually had no idea what I was singing about. I asked them if they knew who Mighty Mouse is. They had no idea.


Everything went well. I cooked up a bit of pasta, watched some TV with the kids, answered about 827 questions like "How long have you been bald?", etc., and then the kids just went to bed at 9:30. I cleaned up a little in the kitchen, went upstairs to my room, read until about midnight, and then...proceeded to toss and turn on what has to be the shortest and most uncomfortable futon in the history of futons.

TBF advice: Don't ever buy a futon. If you have a futon - get rid of it!

So after having spent the previous evening with possibly the greatest, most polite kids in the history of kid-dom, I walked the kids to school and then got on the tram to head back home. I got on the tram with my ear buds in my ears, picked a seat, and opened my book. I was tired, crabby, and full of piss and vinegar from having woken up at 6:45 a.m. (It's inhumane, I tell ya!). At the next stop, two Swiss kids got on - one of the kids sat next to me, and the other one just stood next to him in the aisle. The trouble began immediately...

These two juvenile delinquents from Satan's brood began poking each other. Then, they started shoving each other. All the while, they squoli squonked at each other in their Swiss-German gibberish. Other people began giving them dirty looks - more shoving...more squonking...

Why is nobody saying anything? WHY IS NOBODY DOING ANYTHING???
, I thought.

I'd had enough! I back-handed the kid sitting next to me in the arm - hard enough to get his attention, but not hard enough to hurt him - while simultaneously giving him the death glare and said:


He looked at me and saw that he was about two seconds away from having a size 13 American shoe stuck up his ass. I stared daggers at his friend and he immediately broke eye contact with me. The brats didn't say peep for the rest of their trip. In fact, I don't think anybody else in the entire tram car said peep.

"Here I come to save the dayyyyyyyyyyyyy!"

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Warm Thoughts... TBF.

We got our first Christmas card of the season yesterday. It was from my mom and dad.*

I looked at the postmark on the envelope, thought about how I've been freezing my keester off in Basel for the last few days, and then looked at the postmark again. This afternoon, I called my folks, ran a few dates by them, and then I went to the United Airlines website and booked a ticket.

I'll be in Florida in February!

*NOTE TO SELF: Buy Mom and Dad a Christmas card, and mail it, TOMORROW!!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

What Happened?

You used to be so great!

One day, not too long ago, I told Mrs. TBF that I had a real taste for Shake'N Bake. I really liked it as a kid on chicken and pork chops, so seeing how I hadn't eaten it in over thirty years, I decided it was time to relive a little part of my childhood. Figuring that it wouldn't take up too much space in my suitcase, I bought ONE box while I was in Chicago.

Tonight, I dropped the mix into the plastic bag, threw in a couple of chicken breasts, and shook it all up until the breasts were nicely coated. Then I popped the chicken into the oven at 400˚F for 20 minutes, like the instructions recommend. And????


Ok...they weren't THAT bad, but they weren't really that great either.

In all fairness, the chicken did end up being crispy on the outside and moist on the inside as advertised. No, that wasn't the problem at all. The problem IS didn't taste anything at all like I remember it tasting when I was a kid. In fact, the coating just tasted like crumbs from the bottom of the toaster with a few (not enough) spices thrown in. Oddly enough, unlike most prepared food in America, it seemed to be lacking salt - I actually had to add some.

Is it me who has changed, or has Shake'N Bake changed? Or both?

And while we're on the topic of expats bringing food back with them from America...

What's with all the North Americans bringing back Kraft macaroni and cheese in their suitcases?

The strangest thing about it all is that most of the people who bring back suitcases full of the stuff admit to me that they rarely ate the stuff back when they lived in the U.S. or Canada. What's up with that? I guess it's just "the thing" to do.

There's nothing wrong with bringing back some stuff from "home" that you miss and can't get where you live now, but a suitcase full of crap that you never used to eat anyway?

Whatever! I've learned my lesson.


Are you impressed that I actually set up my candy Advent calender before December 1st? I sure am! I've had it for as long as I can remember (and probably even before that). Here's what is written on the back:
Timmy [don't know who that is!]

December First to Christmas
Is the longest time of year,
Seems as the old Santa
Never will appear.

How many days till Christmas,
It's so mighty hard to count,
So this little candy ribbon
Will tell the exact amount.

[I think the person meant 'untie'] a candy every night
When the sandman casts his spell,
And Christmas will be here
By the time you reach the bell.

I guess I should have read the back before I ate my little Snickers bar THIS MORNING instead of 'when the sandman casts his spell'. Doh! But when you think about it: Why would someone eat candy right before going to bed? Who wrote this thing?

A dentist?