Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fueling The Economic Recovery!

Along with buying a new house, we also bought a new car this past weekend. We looked at a couple of beastly SUV/gas pigs, but then eventually bowed to environmental guilt by buying a mid-size, 6-cylinder SUV that averages about 20 mpg. We'll make do with one vehicle for now, and then we'll buy a sedan next month after we get settled-in to the new house. The SUV will be Mrs. TBF's so that she can ride high. I'll take the sedan, lean the seat back, and ride low.

That's how we roll!

While in one of the showrooms, we sat inside a sedan (to see if I fit). As Mrs. TBF was getting out of the passenger seat, she noticed she was sitting on something. It turned out to be a shopping list that had fallen out of somebody's pocket or handbag. Naturally, I told Mrs. TBF we had to keep it so I could try to return it to its rightful owner.

Aaaaahhhhhhh, the power of the internet!

It's a good thing I covered up the person's middle initial and last name in the photo because... I just went to Yahoo People Search and found the person's address and phone number in about five seconds. It turns out that she lives about five minutes from our temporary apartment. How convenient!!

I hate to think about the "strain" Maria's been under these past few days because she lost her shopping list. I think we might have to drop off an anonymous care package for her this evening.

Don't worry, Maria! You'll soon have strong bones, white teeth, and be strain-free! We're coming!!!!!

Things Are Moving Along...

We'll be closing on our new home in Stamford two weeks from this Friday. The inspection went pretty well, the sellers agreed to fix a few things before closing, our financing was approved in a couple of days, and a home insurance policy has been purchased.

Now... we just wait.

Actually, we haven't just been sitting around waiting. We've looked at hardwood flooring samples (we're going to rip the carpets out of the bedrooms and install hardwood floors), visited furniture showrooms, etc. We're well rested after ten years of renting, and we're looking forward to the challenges and rewards of home ownership.

I won't bore you with a bunch of pictures of the house, but here are a few:

The TV/family room. It's right off the kitchen, and I think it'll be an area where we end up spending a lot of time.

The great room... into which I'm thinking of putting one of these things. The room has soaring ceilings, wide-plank hardwood floors, a nice fireplace, and it'll (hopefully) end up looking pretty nice... even though I think it kind of looks like a barn right now.

This is the view from the kitchen toward the breakfast area. It was updated a few years ago. It'll be nice being able to cook without constantly bumping into each other.

The front of the house. WE HAVE OUR OWN TURRET, PEOPLE!!!

This is part of the backyard. The property is really nicely landscaped, and there isn't too much grass to cut so there's no need to buy a rider mower.

Yeah, the house is big. However, it has a nice floor plan which makes it feel cozy instead of cavernous. Ok... the "barn" room feels a bit cavernous, but a little creative interior design work might correct that. If not...

...we'll just get a pet cow.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Hunch Was Correct!

The past few weeks in a nutshell:

Mrs. TBF and I looked at the Connecticut houses with the realtor, and we liked all of them better that the NY house.

We put an offer on a really nice house, negotiated back and forth a bit, and a price was agreed upon.

I side-swiped a concrete post in our parking garage with the rental car (Who the hell put that there?!?!?!?), and the impact did an impressive amount of damage to the car considering I was only going about 5 mph. The worst part was that it happened while Mrs. TBF was in Dubai on business. Since she had signed the rental contract, I had to wait three days for her to return before I could switch the car for another one. That meant that I had to drive around like a hillbilly for a few days with my side mirror duct taped to the car.

**cue up Dueling Banjos music now!**

I drove to our potential home in the hillbilly-mobile, and a home inspection was performed which turned up a bunch of major problems, so we backed out of the deal.

After Mrs. TBF returned from Dubai, we looked a few more homes. We put in an offer on another house, negotiated back and forth for about 30 minutes, and agreed to a price.

Andy, Di, and the kids, AND Jeanette all came to White Plains for a quick weekend visit. We all went into NYC together (first time ever for the kids AND me), and had a great time.

I went to my second home inspection in one week's time (this time Mrs. TBF was in London). All went well this time. Unless something really unexpected comes up, we should be closing on our new home around September 10th.

So much hunch was correct: it looks like we're going to be living in Connecticut.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The NY Finalist...

Mrs. TBF and I went out with the NY real estate agent yesterday afternoon, and we looked at four homes in the White Plains area. One of the homes had just accepted a contract, so that one didn't really count (and Mrs. TBF didn't like it anyway). After looking at the three main candidates, we managed to come up with the NY finalist. And, here it is:

Other than the fact that the entire interior needs to be repainted (i.e. the entry foyer is really, REALLY orange!), and we don't like the exterior color (but the paint is in good shape), it's a pretty nice house.
And get this: the house was owned by Germans who have moved back to Germany. In something that struck me as funny, the Germans were afraid of the gas cook top, so they converted it to electric.


Cook top aside, the kitchen is really nice, the layout is great, the rooms are generous, and (something that appeals to me more than it does to Mrs. TBF) it has an pool and hot tub!

In about an hour, we're going to head out together to Connecticut to look at the six potentials from the 25 or so that I saw with the realtor on my own. And in my opinion, all six of the homes are nicer than the NY finalist.

I have a hunch we're going to end up living in Connecticut.

Friday, July 16, 2010

And Then There Were Nine...

One of the first orders of business in our new home, other than Mrs. TBF starting her job, is to find a place to live. Right now, we're living in a company provided apartment, but eventually we'll move into our own home - hopefully before the 60 days of company-paid-for apartment living turns into us-paying-for apartment living.

Overall, the apartment isn't too bad.

So, while Mrs. TBF has cut her teeth at her new company, I have been going around with two real estate agents - one in CT, and one in NY - trying to narrow down the list of potential homes we've compiled over the past couple of months.

Let me tell ya, it's no easy task.

First of all, it's a real buyers market out there. That means that there are tons of homes to choose from. Secondly, I've liked A LOT of the homes I've seen in both CT and NY, and it's hard to choose between the two states.

The Connecticut homes I've seen tend to be sprawling homes on large wooded lots and a 15-20 minute commute to Mrs. TBF's office. The New York homes (Mrs. TBF's office is right on the border between the two states), while being only 5-10 minutes from the office and White Plains shopping, are more suburban and the taxes are much higher.

Do we go with a little less convenience and lower taxes, or do we go with ultra-convenient and high taxes? As I said, I've liked the actual homes in both states.

So far, I've looked at the homes without Mrs. TBF, and I've managed to cut the list down to three potential homes in New York, and six potential homes in Connecticut. In about half an hour, I'm going to pick up Mrs. TBF at the office, and we'll go look at the NY finalists. Tomorrow, we'll head off to CT at 9:30 in the morning to look at the CT finalists.

Oh... and let me back up a bit by saying that we originally thought that we'd rent for a year, decide where we wanted to live, and then buy a house. Then, given the buyers' market and low interest rates, we decided that it was best to buy a place right away. At first, we thought we wanted a small condo or townhouse, and then we changed our minds and decided that we'd go for a smallish home. Now, we're pretty much looking at homes that are WAAAAAAAAAY larger than we need with properties that will require me buying a rider mower or hiring a landscape crew.

What the hell happened????


We're hoping that we're saying "and then there was one" in the not-too-distant future.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Did you ever think I would blog again?

Was I dead to ya???

Oh, ye of little faith! I'm back with a vengeance!!!

Ok, maybe not a vengeance, but I do plan on blogging again on a quasi-fairly-semi-regular basis.


What's happened since my last post lo those many months ago?

We've been to Paris, Chicago/Florida, Milan, Lisbon, Amalfi, and then back to the U.S... permanently!

Yes, you read that correctly. We have moved back to the U.S. In fact, we just arrived in NY this past Sunday, so I guess you can say we're "just off the boat." Or, in this case, the plane.

We're currently residing in temporary housing while Mrs. TBF begins her new job, we feverishly shop for a house, figure out what kind of car(s) we're going to buy, figure out where we're going, etc., etc.

We have a million things to do, but we're REALLY excited to be back.

The move went well, we said temporary goodbyes to friends (some are coming to see us in a couple of weeks), and enjoyed our last couple months of Swiss residency.

It was a great 10 years in Switzerland, but...

...it's time to begin the next chapter.

Friday, March 26, 2010


We're still alive, people. Just taking a little blogging break. Taking vacations from doing nothin' is a lot of work!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Once Again...

... not a total waste!

While Mrs. TBF went through boxes of Kleenex, and I sat there not eating due to my stomach virus, we actually managed to accomplish something this past Sunday:


1,000 pieces in about 6 hours! Not bad.

A Tough Two Weeks...

It's been a real sickbay around here lately.

First, I came down with a cold. It wasn't anything too bad: just a bit of a cough and gallons of snot. Then, Mrs. TBF got sick AND actually stayed home from work for two days. We started feeling better, Mrs. TBF went off to Miami on business (where she enjoyed views like these from her hotel room), and we thought the worst was behind us.

The last day Mrs. TBF was in Miami, she told me that she was starting to not feel well again.

Oh, ohhhhh.

When she arrived back in Basel, she had... a cough and gallons of snot. Then, rarity of all rarities, she actually stayed home from work for two days in a row...AGAIN!

By the end of last week, I was completely over my cold and Mrs. TBF was on the mend... again. Then, our friend Tom, who was in Basel on business, came by on Friday evening for dinner and to spend the night before flying back to the U.S. the next day. He arrived at our place around 6:30 p.m.

As he stepped out of the elevator, here's what he said:

"Dude! My colleague just dropped me off in front of your place. I couldn't hold it any longer, so I just went in a snow bank in front of your apartment!"

At first I thought he meant he had actually dropped a deuce in a snow bank in front of our place, but then I realized that he had blown chunks. In he came, wheeled his bag to his room, sat down (as white as a ghost) in the living room, and enjoyed a pre-prandial cocktail of... Perrier. That was a bit too harsh for him, so he switched to plain tap water.

By this time, Andy, Di, and Jeanette had also stopped by. Tom gave it his best shot, talked with everybody for a little while, then... went to bed without a bite to eat and slept until Saturday morning. On Saturday morning, he took a taxi to the airport, and then flew back to the U.S.

Here's the worst part...

Jeanette, Andy, and I all came down with stomach flu over the weekend. I wasn't too bad, but Andy and Jeanette actually had to stay home from work on Monday.

We're all better now, but let's...


Tuesday, February 02, 2010


One year ago today we said goodbye to one old friend (King), and today I'm saying goodbye to another: a pair of Keens - perhaps my favorite shoes of all time.

Yeah, the tips are funny looking, but they have to be the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. Having been worn from the U.S. to Japan (and many countries in between), the soles had been worn down to the point where they were almost smooth. It was time to donate them to charity.

Today, we had one of our quarterly clothing pick-ups for charity. So, with a couple of tears, and a head full of pleasant memories, I gently lowered my old friends into the Kleidersammlung bag, along with some other clothes, and brought them out to the curb yesterday afternoon.

I just looked outside toward the street, and the charity bags haven't been picked up. I guess I still have time to change my mind, run out there, and salvage the holy Keens. But I don't have to - all is not lost - because...

I had the foresight to buy a second pair! Actually, Mrs. TBF bought me the second pair.

I had bought the first pair a few years ago at Nordstrom during a trip to Chicago. Mrs. TBF ended up being in Chicago about a month after me, and while there, she called me and asked if there was anything I wanted her to pick up for me. "Yeah," I told her, "... buy me another pair of those Keens." That she did, and the back-up pair has been in the on deck circle in a closet at Mrs. TBF's mom's house for the last few years for me to use while in Chicago.

Now due to my advance planning, I'll be able to enjoy the comfort of my beloved Keens for a few more years to come. Ahhhh... life's simple pleasures.

Did I Speak Too Soon?

You know how I went on about the end of the Sky era yesterday? Well, yesterday, just on a whim, I put in our new Sky card, and...

It's TOTALLY working.

That's right, ALL our channels as if nothing had ever been wrong.

Sky requires a 31-day notice when you cancel, so that means we'll still get all our channels until the beginning of March. That also means, I presume, that we could call them back and rescind our cancellation now that the card is working just fine.

Should we, or shouldn't we?

THAT is the question.

1 A.K.

King went to Kitty Heaven one year ago today. Can you believe it? It's been ONLY one year.

Man.... this last year has reeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaallllly dragged!!!

I thought it was just me, but Mrs. TBF feels the same way. It seems to me like King has been gone for three years. Really!

We were in San Sebastian only eleven months ago???

Amsterdam was just this past April???

My parents came for a visit in June/July, and we were in Ireland and Finland in July??? That was only about six months ago?? Are you kiddin' me????

Then, there were the trips to Amalfi and Copenhagen in September, and Scotland in November... plus, a smattering of trips to the U.S. sprinkled in for flavor. All that... and the year still dragged on... and on... and on?

What's going on here? I thought time flies when you're having fun.

Monday, February 01, 2010

No Offense!

And speaking of Sky...

Yesterday evening, I was about to watch The Simpsons on one of the free (YES!!!) Sky channels. I looked at the show description to see which episode it was, and I noticed that it was the one where Bart starts working for the local Mafia guys: Cool! I hadn't seen that one in a long time.

Seconds before the show was about to start, a voice came on a said:

Warning. This show contains strong Italian stereotypes that some of our viewers [the Italian ones, I'm assuming] might find offensive.


They actually gave a warning before A CARTOON to avoid offending some viewers.


I called out to my dago wife and told her to get her goombah ass out to TV room so she could hear it for herself, but she was in the tub stomping on some grapes, or in the shower scrubbing off the garlic smell, or something...

Who knows? Fuggedabouit!

The End Of An Era...

Remember a couple of years ago when I said that there was a chance that we might lose our Sky satellite subscription in the "near" future. Well, horror of horrors, it's finally happened!!!

This past October, a box began popping up on our screen telling us to insert our new satellite card and we'd have to press a button on our remote every 60 seconds(!!!) in order to get the message to go away - ANNOYING!!! Our card was supposed to have been sent to the U.K. home of one of Mrs. TBF's colleagues, but it never arrived in the mail. Mrs. TBF's colleague had to call Sky from her home in the U.K. (because Sky now blocks calls from outside the U.K.), pretend she was Mrs. TBF (after we coached her on what to say), and ask for a new card to be sent. Sky said they would do so.

They didn't.

After calling Sky a couple of times, and Sky saying they would send a new card but not doing so, we just asked our friend to call them and cancel the subscription. When, our friend called to cancel, Sky practically begged her to give them one more chance. About a week later, much to our surprise, the card came.

This past Friday, we received our new card from our friend, and...


Our friend called Sky from her home in the U.K. this past weekend, and they told her it would be working within 24 hours (after we had to provide the old card number, the new card number, AND the serial number of our Sky box). After THIRTY hours, it still wasn't working, so our friend called Sky last night and canceled.

In the end it was kind of strange: WE wanted to keep our subscription, SKY wanted us to keep the subscription, but it just didn't work out. Shame!

But I'm happy to report that it's not a total loss.

Even without any card, the box still picks up quite a few free channels. Fortunately, one of the free channels, amazingly, is the U.S. Food Network. That means that we'll still be able to get our nightly dose of Iron Chef America every night at 10 p.m. - which is one of the few shows we watch with any regularity anyway. Plus, we'll still get the BBC channels, ITV channels, and quite a few others. Yes, no more NFL on Sunday nights, but... the season's almost over anyway, right? Plus, when the new season begins next September, we'll be getting close to moving back to the U.S. anyway.

Right, Mrs. TBF???

Way Too Early!

Mrs. TBF is on her way to Miami right now. As usual, I rode in the taxi with her to the airport at 5:45 a.m., we said our goodbyes, and then I took the bus/tram back home.

Seeing that my gym now opens at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays, my original plan was to take the bus back into town from the airport, walk to gym, and then have an early workout. However, when I woke up this morning, I decided against it. I mean, I don't have to go to work, so WHY IN THE WORLD would I want to torture myself with an early-morning workout when I don't have to? Instead, I took the bus back into town, got myself a venti Americano at Starbucks, and then took the tram home.

And speaking about my gym...

They used to open at 8:00 a.m. on weekdays. One day, I mentioned to one of the trainers that they would probably increase their membership significantly if they opened earlier because people could workout before going to work.

Here was the first objection:

Swiss Trainer: But who vood vant to come to verk so early in zee morning?

TBF: Ummm... Probably any number of people who are out of work and need a job.

Swiss Trainer: But... vee vood haff to find a zertified trainer.

TBF: To unlock the front door so that people could come exercise? Anybody can do that! Just hire somebody part-time to come in and work for a couple of hours until the regular staff shows up at 8:00 a.m.

Swiss Trainer: But who vood vant to verk for only two hours per day?

TBF: Ummm... Somebody who needs the money and figures that two hours of pay per day is better than ZERO hours per day of pay. A stay-at-home mom or dad, a university student, somebody who wants to take on a second job.

Swiss Trainer: A second job????

Then, the next objection:

Swiss Trainer: Anusser seeng ees zat vee surveyed our members to see if zey vanted to come verkout earlier in zee morning, and almost everybody said no.

TBF: Yes, but did you survey people who are not members?

Swiss Trainer: No, vhy vood vee do zat?

TBF: Because THOSE are the people who are not joining the gym because it's not open before they go to work. I mean, I don't work, so I can come here any time I want. And since I can come at any time, why would I want to wake up at 6 a.m. and come workout when I don't have to. However, a person who gets to work at 8:30 a.m. might not join this gym because he can't workout before he goes to work. Maybe if you opened up at 6 or 6:30 a.m., you might increase your membership... significantly!

I sensed the gears grinding in his brain, but it really was a lot for him to take in. The concept of doing something that might benefit the customer and actually increase business was just such a foreign concept that he really needed to take some time to think about.

Now, I'm not saying I had anything to do with it, but imagine my surprise when I heard a few weeks ago that my gym would now begin opening at 6:30 a.m. from Monday to Friday.

I wonder how crowded it is? I guess I'll have to ask because... there's NO WAY I'm getting up that early in order to find out!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not A Total Waste

Suuuure I've had a mild cold for the past week, and Mrs. TBF had a stomach virus for a couple of days, but...

... at least we accomplished something!

This one was a little tough!

Almost Forgot...

With all the sickness in the apartment over this past week, I almost forgot that this past weekend marked the 5-year anniversary of us moving into our apartment.

I'm tellin' ya, I never thought we'd live in this apartment for five years. In fact, when we moved in, we signed a two-year lease and I had doubts about making it through two years.

I guess I was wrong about that one.

Will we make it to six? Maybe... but let me qualify that.

If we're still here next January, we'll definitely be on our way out. We've decided, and Mrs. TBF has already told her bosses at work that this will be our last year in Switzerland. One way or another - either moving back with the company, or giving notice and moving back at our own expense - we'll be moving back to the U.S. in the not-too-distant future.

Here's to hoping it's sooner rather than later.


Not only did Mrs. TBF stay home from work on Tuesday, but she also stayed home from work yesterday too. That's right... TWO SICK DAYS IN A ROW!!!

Mrs. TBF went back to the office this morning which means she's all better now. I'm definitely happy that she's 100% healthy again, but I did enjoy having her home for a couple of weekdays.

That was, when I could find her.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Everything was going along smoothly. Then, last weekend, I uttered those dreaded words:

"You know what? I may be jinxing us here, but... this is the first year in as long as I can remember that I haven't had a cold or the flu by this time of the year!"

A few days later?

You guessed it. I woke up last Monday with the sniffles. It wasn't too bad: just a really runny nose that has lasted about a week. I haven't even had that bad of a cough, and no sore throat at all. In fact, I can't even claim it as a proper man-cold!

Now that I'm getting over my cold, Mrs. TBF has come down with some horrific stomach ailment. Last night, she had to get up every couple of hours to visit the "library".

Maybe I'll change my tactics:

"You know what? I may be jinxing us here, but... we have yet to win the Euro Millions Lotto!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I sure was at about 1 p.m. just after I had finished working out. Seeing how I was completely out of cash and all, I walked over to a bank machine not too far from my gym so that I could fill up the money clip. It just so happened, the machine was right next to THE Burger King.

I call it "THE" Burger King because it's the ONLY Burger King in Basel.

Since I normally try to watch what I eat during the week, I figured it was best to skip the fries and I only went for a Whopper. No fries, no drink, no cheese, no bacon. Nope... just a Whopper.

I'll tell ya, it's a good thing I had just stopped at the cash machine because...

A Whopper in Switzerland costs CHF 7.50. That comes out to $7.17 in American money!!!!

For "A" Whopper.



Last month, while in Chicago, I seem to recall seeing promotions for 2 Whoppers for $4!

It's unbelievable to me that a Whopper costs nearly four times as much in Basel as it does in Chicago. What's the minimum wage here right now? Actually, what is it in America these days? $8/hour???

Are the Basel Burger King employees actually making $30/hour?

Come on!! They're unskilled workers for chrissake! OK, they can speak multiple languages, but I'm sure their English is pretty much limited to "Would you like cheese or bacon?" or "Would you like ketchup or mayonnaise?" ... for which they charge extra, by the way. That's right, they charge you for each individual packet of ketchup or mayo... something like 30 cents per pack!! My friend, Dr. Andy, always orders something like four packets of ketchup with his fries. I wonder if he realizes that he's paying over a buck for ketchup.

And... as if it couldn't get any worse, my Whopper wasn't even hot - even though it was made to order. It was barely lukewarm!


I'll be back.

TBF just needs to eat a Whopper every now and then.

She Brings Home The Bacon...

This morning at about 8:00...
TBF: I need to go to the cash machine. I have absolutely ZERO cash on me.

Mrs. TBF: Do you need some cash? I have cash.

TBF: Nah... that's ok. I need to get some cash.

Mrs. TBF: You know what? I can't remember the last time I actually used cash. In fact, I can't remember the last time I actually paid for anything!

Monday, January 18, 2010

We're Alive!


I've been hibernating since we returned from Chicago. I really don't have any reasons for the lack of posts other than that I just haven't felt like blogging.

Have I been busy with other things? Nope!

Have I been sick? Nope!

I just... haven't felt like it.

Quite honestly, I still don't really fell like it, so let's just link up to some photos from our Christmas in the Windy City.

Maybe I'll have more to say in the next few days.

That is... if I feel like it.