Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hoochie Mama's Day!

I just received an e-mail from Gucci with some gift idea's for Mother's Day. Here's one of the suggestions from the fine-a people-a at-a Gucci.

So, mom...

Whaddya think?

* For those of you who aren't as shtreet as me, here's the definition of "hoochie mama".

Monday, April 27, 2009

Just Wondering...

Dear Mom & Dad:

Do I have a relative named Masa? I've seen him on Facebook, he has the same last name as us, and... well... he sure looks a lot like me.


Your son

Friday, April 24, 2009

Shake, Rattle, and ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz!

In my never-ending battle to keep my workouts interesting, I've signed up to use a new exercise machine at the gym. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the Fitvibe.
For those of you who don't know, the Fitvibe is a vibrating machine on which one performs various exercises. According to the fine people at Fitvibe: Exercising on a high quality vibration plate will improve muscle strength, bone density, blood circulation and will make your body leaner and more flexible. A friend of mine at the gym has been using it, and he let me try it for about 30 seconds. It seemed to be really effective, so I figured "Why not?". I was in the midst of a real workout rut, so I thought this might just "shake" things up a bit.*

Of course, like most things in Switzerland, the Fitvibe doesn't come cheap. Also of course, it's not included in my gym membership. In order to use the machine, I have to dish out 1 CHF per minute - or about 87¢ U.S. per minute. The price itself got my heart pumping faster, which I figured was a good thing as far as exercising goes.

And naturally...

In order to use the machine, I first had to sign up for a training session with an instructor that costs 40 CHF. Fortunately, the trainer waived the session fee when I told her beforehand that I would sign up for a 100 minute package. At that point, she told me that she had done a study and found out that if I use the machine for just eight minutes per week, then it's worth it to shell out 400 CHF for the unlimited time for one year package. "Ummmm... Let's start with the 100 minutes, and then we'll see where I go from there." Sheesh!

So, she set me up with an 8-minute (what a coincidence!) workout. I kind of laughed at first. Eight minutes? Was she kidding??? "No, I'm not keeding...", she said. "You sood not use zees machine more zan two, maybe sree times per veek. And also, for not too long - ten minutes sood be enough. If you haf cancer or tumors of any kind, it may cause zem to spret eef you do too much. Also, eef you get zee headache, stop using zee maseen immediately!"

ZZZZZZZiiiiiiiiiiiiippp! (sound of record skipping on turntable!)

What? Hmmmmm... This sounds dangerous. I like that.

I proceeded to do the exercises that, as I requested, would focus on my legs, back, and abdomen. And?


That's right. My muscles were giving out!

I've been working out at this gym religiously for the last 6.5 years, and this stupid machine made me feel like I was working out for the first time.

Last night, I was a zombie. Mrs. TBF pointed out this morning that the only dinner preparation I did last night was to make the salad - she did the rest, including the clean-up.

Then, I fell into bed about an hour earlier than usual and slept like a freakin' rock!

This morning? Oh... I'm sore. REALLY SORE!!! But... NO headaches!

I think this Fitvibe thing is going to be good.

*comedic legend in my own mind

Needing To See The Light...

Crystal Light, that is!

I just drank my last Crystal Light "Skin essentials". All I can say is: "T'ank Got I'll be back in Chicago in less denn two weeks so I can stock up on Crystal Light."

In the meantime, where the hell am I supposed to get my antioxidant vitamins & plant extracts to help nourish my skin???? Where?, I ask you!!!!!

Skin emergency, people!!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'll Be Damned!

So we ended up going to Amsterdam last weekend, and we had a GREAT time.

On Saturday, we took advantage of the spectacular weather by going to see the tulips at Keukenhof. We looked in our hotel's excursion guide and decided we just did NOT want to go the tour bus route with a bunch of people and be on somebody else's schedule for the 5-hour Keukenhof trip (only about 45 minutes away from our hotel). So, we splurged and hired a driver named Ferrie who took us to the garden via the scenic route (which included a stop for some smoked eel sandwiches - sluuurrrrrrp!), dropped us off at the front entrance, and was waiting there when we came out about an hour later (blame my short attention span). All in all, we were gone for four hours, but we ended up seeing WAY more than we would have had we been cruising down the highway in some tour bus for hour on end.

Shortly after getting back to our hotel, we met up with Canadian-Swiss and Orange-X who had driven up from Basel earlier that day. Together, we went to a bar and met up with Michael from Chicago who was in Amsterdam celebrating his 40th birthday.

Bloggers of the world UNITE!!!

After seeing Michael and the gang, we stopped for a late-afternoon snack of bitterballen (GREAT!) and drinks at Dam Square with C-S and O-X, followed by an Indonesian dinner. After dinner, we went back to our hotel for a drink, and then we pretty much just crashed.

On Sunday, we checked out of our hotel, had a coffee at a café, ate a quick lunch, and then met up with C-S and O-X for the 6-hour ride back to Basel. All-in-all, a pretty relaxed, laid-back weekend.

And you know what I realized in Amsterdam? I could live there. And you know why? It's because EVERYBODY SPEAKS ENGLISH. It sure makes things easier for us. In fact, I even told Mrs. TBF that although North America (minus Mexico) would be my top choice for where we live next, I would even consider the following countries: U.K., Ireland, Nordic, or Holland. I just don't have the desire to learn another language. Nope!

English, Finnish, and broken-German is where I'm calling it quits with languages.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter Weekend 2009

Just a short post before things become a distant memory...

We had a great Easter weekend. Mrs. TBF had five days off in a row, and the weather was fantastic.

On the Thursday before Easter, we celebrated Kirk's triumphant return to Basel with a "Kirkey" dinner - turkey on the grill, stuffing, cranberry chutney... the works! Douglas, Liz, and Claire joined in on the fun, and it was a great way to start off the long holiday weekend.

The next day, I enjoyed my first rooftop breakfast of 2009. Mrs. TBF concocted a breakfast "hobo" made with leftover turkey stuffing. It was AWESOME!!!

Let's see...

After that it was: dinner at our friends' house on Friday evening, big dinner on Saturday night, Easter dinner with friends at our house on Sunday night, big-time leftovers on Monday... food...Food...FOOOOOOOOOD!

The bad news? On Tuesday it was back to work for Mrs. TBF. But the good news? Only a 4-day work week.

What will we do this weekend?

I think an adventure is in order...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spring Cleaning...

The traffic lights have been washed, and the flowers have been watered here in Perfectville. It's 9 a.m., and everything is clean and safe.

Nothing to see here, people. Move on.

In fact, you can move on to the Alps where even more spring cleaning is taking place.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Ignoring The Economic Crisis

We've added another two paintings to our "collection" of paintings by Basel artist, Regula Mathys-Hänggi. We bought our first painting - Sterngucker - about three years ago. Then, last year, we purchased two more of her paintings - Zeichensprachen III and Engelsreigen. All three of these paintings hang prominently in our living room for our, and our guests', enjoyment.

Earlier this week, we took delivery of our latest acquisitions: Orchideenblüten and Sechs Grazien. The picture of the paintings is scanned from the exhibit brochure, so I apologize for the graininess.

Seeing how we were running out of wall space in our living room, we decided to hang them up on the wall behind our headboard in our bedroom. Therefore, I guess these paintings will be more for our enjoyment only. Our guests will certainly be allowed to go into our bedroom and have a look at them if they like, but I'm not serving them drinks and appetizers in there - that's for the living room only.

I'm thinking that'll be it for Regula as far as we're concerned. We really like her paintings, but I think it'll be time to explore someone new next time.

Peep Show

For the third time in a week, there's an elevator repairman (as viewed through our peephole) working on our building's elevator.

I'm beginning to get worried.

I sure hope he doesn't have to shut that thing down long-term - which I define as more than two hours - due to having to wait for some part or something. That would really suck!

We live on the 4th floor, which would be correctly called the 5th floor by North Americans, but is INcorrectly called the 4th floor by Europeans due to their erroneous insistence on labeling the (North American) 1st floor as floor 0. Or, often as "EG" for Eingang in the German speaking parts of the world. Hey, I'm not one to start conTROversy or anything, but calling the first floor you see ZERO when you walk into a building is just plain...well...stupid!

So, getting back to the elevator. It would really suck if we had to take the spiral staircase in the center of our building to/from the TOP FLOOR on an on-going basis. Speaking from experience from the few times I've done it, it's a dizzying enterprise, and one which I would be happy to never have to do again. Plus, the thought of having to climb all those stairs with a bunch of groceries or after having done forty minutes on the elliptical trainer at the gym seems downright cruel.

I might have to go live in our storage unit on the ground floor (compromise!). Or, maybe I should go into hermit mode and just not leave the apartment. Or...

Let's just hope the damn thing gets fixed!


Our elevator has been repaired. At least, I THINK it's been repaired.

A short time after posting, I heard a ruckus coming from the hallway outside our apartment. A quick look through the peephole revealed TWO arguing repairmen - one was shaking his head saying "nein!", and the other one was emphatically pointing at a page in the manual.

Things were not looking good.

However, a little while later, the repairmen were gone and it appeared that the elevator was as good as new. Just to be sure, I've decided that a grace period of a few hours is in order: I'm letting the other residents in the building be the guinea pigs. I don't need to be free-falling down an elevator shaft from the fifth... I mean, fourth floor.

DesTROYING The Competition!

Dear Mrs. TBF:

Do you remember the new Tango tram that was going in the opposite direction this morning right after you got on your (outdated) tram to go to work? Yeah? Well, I ran across to the other platform, jumped in (just happened to have my camera in my jacket pocket), and rode on it for one stop to the Coop to pick up a few groceries that we didn't really need. Then, I snapped a photo of it pulling away in all its Tango glory.

Maybe it really only takes ONE to tango.



For those of you keeping score at home: TBF = 3 Tango rides Mrs. TBF = ZERO!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

She Got Me Good!

This morning, while waiting for the tram that would whisk Mrs. TBF away to the office, Mrs. TBF turned to me in all seriousness and said:

"I think I'm going to resign today."

Already mentally tabulating the inventory for the move back to America, I looked at her somewhat bewildered. Then came the next words out of her mouth:


OK... she got me. But how long is it until my self-imposed deadline for leaving Switzerland for good?

Oh yeah, this long.


...in like a lion.

...out like a (shorn) lamb.

What's Blooming?

Here's what's blooming in the rooftop garden at the beginning of April: not much!

So far, pretty yellow! But it's a sign of warmer days to come.

We had probably the coldest winter since moving here in 2000. I'm guessing that accounts for the fact that the forsythia is blooming nearly two weeks later than usual. In fact I went back through my pictures and found a picture of the same forsythia bush in full bloom on March 20, 2007.

I know...