Friday, September 30, 2005


The Chicago White Sox have clinched the AL Central Championship. Thank God! They were 15 games ahead of the Indians about six weeks ago, and their lead slipped to just 1.5 games last week. But none of that matters now. They're in the playoffs, and that's all that counts.
Since Expatter's team - the San Diego Padres - managed to somehow sputter into the playoffs with a less than .500 record (the Sox are more than 30 games over .500), there's a chance that the 2005 World Series could end up being Expatter vs. The Big Finn.
Stay tuned!

Telling It Like It Is...

I had to call our Swiss bank today regarding a question concerning our account. When you call the bank here, a recording tells you that "...your call WILL be recorded for security purposes!" I like that. They're tellin' it like it is. In the U.S., the recording says (unless it's changed recently) that "...your call MAY be recorded." Is it, or isn't it? I'd kind of like to know up front. I think it would also help for U.S. over-the-phone customer service. In the past, I've had to say to an especially cocky or rude customer service person in the U.S.: "I hope to God that this call is being recorded 'for security purposes' and that your boss decides to have a listen." MAY??? - They're thinking: "I'll take my chances." WILL??? - "(gulp!)"
Anyway, I called the bank today and selected #4 " speak with a customer service representative in English." The man came on the phone and began speaking in German. I began speaking in English, and he told me that he didn't really speak English and that he would find an English-speaking person for me. I told him not to bother and that I would try to ask my questions in German. First, he had to ask me a bunch of security questions in German, and I guess I passed because he then asked me how he could help me. I muddled my way through the questions, I think I understood the answers, we said goodbye, ...und jetz habe ich viel Stolz. I conducted banking business in German, people!!! But don't tell Mrs. TBF. If she finds out about this it might get her to thinking that I could pass the German certification test...and (God forbid)...she'd tell me to get a job...(gulp)!
I would, however, kind of like to have a copy of this history-making phone conversation. I know that the conversation WAS recorded. I wonder if they'd burn me a copy onto a CD so that I could listen to it when Mrs. TBF isn't around.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

It's A Finnish Thing.

That's what Mrs. TBF said when I told her that I gave money this evening to an accordian player who was busking near the Basel train station. I don't know what it is, but I just can't pass up an accordian player on the street without reaching into my pocket to pull out a couple of francs.
Maybe it's the fact that I'm impressed by the fact that somebody would openly admit in public that they know how to play the accordian (fairly high on the nerd-alert scale as far as I'm concerned). Or maybe it IS a Finnish thing. Afterall, Finland IS a country where the accordian is VERY popular. Don't believe me? Here are a few pictures that I snapped off of the T.V. at my Aunt Leila's house when I was in Finland this past summer.

These pictures were taken as I sat dumbstruck in front of the T.V. watching the Finnish National Accordian Championships. Yeah, it's kind of amusing. But, I have to admit that I kind of began getting sucked into all of the action. I had to - my dad and aunt were pretty serious about watching the hoopla, and I was just being shushed each time I tried make any comment whatsoever.

OK...OK!!! So what if the winner was announced by a hand puppet? It doesn't take anything away from the fact that great accordian players in Finland receive near rock star status.

And who was the junior Hopeinen Harmonikka 2005 Voittaja (Silver Accordian 2005 Winner)? None other than a young lad with the very un-Finnish name of Joni Stein! I'm telling you...this kid has groupies!! There's no doubt about it!
You might think that this was about all the excitment that the Finns could handle in one year. But no!!!! The Finnish National Tango Championships were taking place the following week. I'd say that that might be the pinnacle of all Finnish competitions. But, alas, that's for another blog on another day.
I need to rest now.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Voila! Nous Allons a Paris!

Does anybody know how to do the backward French accent on an Apple without switching to the French keyboard? I just can't seem to figure it out. Also, where's the damn Euro sign?

We're going to Paris in mid-November. I just booked our tickets on the Air France website, and I did it...COMPLETELY IN FRENCH! At least I think we have airline tickets booked on Air France for this November. It was actually cheaper on Air France than on EasyJet. Isn't it amazing what a little competition does? Plus, we get to leave Basel at 10:45 a.m. instead of 8:10 a.m. which means an extra 2.5 hours of sleep! Mrs. TBF has stated that she'd like to go to Paris at least once per year (TBF: "Who wouldn't???"), and it looks like we're covered for 2005 ( least I think we are.).
Maybe, just to be safe, I'll bring the confirmation to my French lesson tomorrow and ask Charlotte (our teacher) what she thinks. I'm having three French lessons on my own this week so that I can try to catch up with Mrs. TBF who's currently in New Jersey.
You gotta love the airlines! I know I've ragged on them before, but it's kind of ridiculous. Our tickets cost only 118 Euros. The taxes are 119.08 Euros. And, there's a 10 Euro frais de service - which I think means service charge. If you do the math, I believe our 118 Euro airline tickets just cost us 247.08 Euros. I understand that the airlines have no control over the airport taxes. But, a 10 Euro service charge for an electronic ticket that I booked myself on the internet?
If you ask me, that's a bunch of merde!

Zero Years Old!!!

This is my sister Diana and the new addition to the family - Sinead (Hey're less than a day old and you're already on the world-wide-web!). She was born this morning around 7:35 a.m. Chicago time, and she weighed in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. which is actually two more ounces than Uncle TBF was when he was born. Mother and daughter are doing very well!
My sister called me from the recovery room less than two hours after Sinead was born. If I remember the facts correctly, Diana and Colm (our brother-in-law) left for the hospital around 7:00 a.m. Diana was in labor, but thought there was plenty of time. WRONG!!! She said she got into the hospital bed around 7:20 a.m., her water broke, and she had the baby about fifteen minutes later!!!
I hope the doctor was wearing a catcher's mit!
This is number four for Diana and Colm. Sinead will be well looked after by her older siblings: Fiona, Kiera, and Finn. Also, Mummo and Pappa (my parents) arrived from Canada this past Wednesday to help out.
Mrs. TBF and I will be going to Chicago a week from this Friday. We can't wait!

More Swiss/French Nautical Adventures...

Here are a few pictures from this past Saturday when Jeanette, Mrs. TBF, and I took a little day-trip from Nyon to Yvoire, France. It only takes about twenty minutes, and it's well worth the effort. Uhhh...I guess it doesn't really involve that much effort. I'll post the Yvoire pictures a little later.

This picture was taken on the way to Yvoire. Jeanette and Mrs. TBF looked pretty happy even though they had to endure my complaining about the fact that this particular boat did not have a first class section (REMEMBER: TBF IS a travel diva!).

This picture was when we were heading back to Nyon. It was actually Mrs. TBF's third attempt at taking my picture. Her first attempt was basically a picture of my sunglasses and nose - you couldn't even tell I was on a boat for God's sake. The second attempt included my mouth and chin - still no water showing. The third time was the charm - you can tell that I'm on a boat!

Finally, this picture is of the beautiful Mrs. TBF. It was sunny, warm for late September, with Yvoire growing ever smaller in the background.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

On My Own...

Mrs. TBF and Jeanette had to work on Friday. So, my first full day in Nyon was a spent on my own. After helping myself to a few things out of Jeanette's fridge, I walked to the shores of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) - after a quick stop at the Nyon Region Tourist Office - and boarded a boat. I had decided to head toward Vevey.
The boat took off, and after about five minutes I realized that I had made a major logistical error. I thought the trip to Vevey would take about 90 minutes. However, I mis-read the schedule and discovered that the journey would take....three-hours and fifty-three minutes!!!!! No worries. I wasn't on any sort of schedule, so I just decided that I'd take it all in stride.
I turned on the iPod Shuffle and enjoyed the sunshine and scenery. After about an hour of sunshine and scenery, my stomach began to talk to me - I was hungry! I went down to the restaurant and enjoyed a very good meal. The highlight of the meal came when I actually had to do some French to English translation for a table full of Swedish tourists. The waitress didn't know how to say poireaux in English, and I miraculously knew that it was "leeks"!. The waitress, unfortunately for me, then assumed that I spoke French and I ended up understanding very little of what she said to me for the rest of the meal.
Finally, the boat made it to Vevey. I made my way to the Musée suisse de l'appareil photographique, and spent about an hour or so checking out the history of photography.
After having my fill of all things photographic, I decided to park my Big Finn Butt on one of Vevey's many park benches (something sorely lacking in Basel), light up a cigar (sorry dad!), and observe Vevey's "Walk of Life"! It was the kind of day I enjoy - no hurry. I was just enjoying the experience of the Suisse-Romande. After puffing away for about an hour, I mosied on over to the Vevey train station and made my way back to Nyon.
Mrs. TBF and Jeanette eventually made it home a little after 7 p.m. After freshening up a bit, we made our way into town to a very nice restaurant called Café Du Marché. It was an Italian restaurant, and it was very good! All in all, a perfect ending to a fantastic day!

Here I am on the boat with Lausanne (home of the Dictator Princess) in the background. By this point I had been on the boat for HOURS, and Vevey was just around the corner.
Note to DP: I believe your GA entitles you to ride the boats of Lac Léman for "free"! I highly recommend it!

This part of Switzerland is known as the Cote d'Or - a.k.a Swiss wine country. The wine isn't that great, but the scenery's pretty nice!

Here's what I saw when I arrived in Vevey. I've determined that just about every postcard you see in Switzerland has been produced using trick-photography - vividly blue, cloudless skies. Hah...the mountains are always shrouded in haze! Nevertheless, the scenery was still pretty spectacular

The Suisse-Romande....ROCKS!!!

I didn't realize it until Mrs. TBF and I were on the 5:05 p.m. train on Thursday evening heading toward southwest Switzerland that it had been THREE YEARS since I had last been in Nyon. Sure, I had been in both Lausanne and Geneva earlier this year. But, it had been a full three years since I had been in the town where Mrs. TBF worked (and had an apartment) for nine months in 2002. I'll officially go on record as saying that I miss it a lot, and I'd move there in A SECOND!!! I'll even go a step further by saying that if we moved there I would be perfectly content living the rest of my days as a Swiss resident (sorry Mom and Dad!)! French flair...Swiss safety and security - an unbeatable combination!
Our friend Jeanette picked us up at the Nyon train station. After dropping our bags off at her place, we left for a town called Bogis-Bossey where we ate a wonderful meal with Mrs. TBF's work colleagues at a place called Auberge de Bogis-Bossey.
The meal was great. I felt a little bit guilty about the fact that I was sitting next to Atul (a vegetarian), and I order foie gras for my appetizer and veal organ meat (ris de veau) for my main course. OK...I felt guilty for about four seconds, and then my body was taken over by my carnivorous instincts. We drank some nice French wine, ate some nice French cheese, and had a really nice time.

Simon - Mrs. TBF's boss - doesn't really like being touched. But, I was feeling so elated after the meal that I decided to give him a big bear-hug. Sorry Simon!

New Blog Photo...

Originally uploaded by thebigfinn.
I'm adding this as my new blog photo. It's a self-portrait that I took on a Lac Léman cruise on September 23, 2005 - 5 years and 2 days after my last day of employment!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On The Road Again....AGAIN?

That's right. Tomorrow, Mrs. TBF and I are heading to Nyon. Mrs. TBF's company has a location in Nyon, and she has to go there for some "bidness". I'm tagging along, and we're going to be staying at our friend Jeanette's house. Since Mrs. TBF is going to be busy doing the "work-thang" on Friday, I'll just be hannging out in the French part of Switzerland.
For those of youse guyses (sorry...slipped into Chicagoese for a second) who aren't in the know - Nyon is located between Geneva and Lausanne, and it's where Mrs. TBF had a apartment for 9 months in 2002 while she was working there. I haven't been in Nyon for a long time, and I'm looking forward to this weekend...a lot! Our plan is to take the 5:05 p.m. train to Nyon tomorrow evening. We'll have dinner in Nyon tomorrow night, Mrs. TBF will do her job-thing on Friday, and then our plan is to take the boat over Lac Leman from Lausanne to Evian, France for a day of exploring with Jeanette.
I really like the French part of Switzerland. I must say that I was rather disappointed when Mrs. TBF's job brought her back to Basel. Her apartment in Nyon was awesome. It overlooked Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), had a view of Jet d'Eau in Geneva, plus a view (when it wasn't too hazy) of Mont Blanc (the mountain...not the pen!). Plus, the difference between the French-speaking Swiss and German-speaking Swiss is like night and day. We'll see if Nyon and it's surrounds are as good as I remember.
On a side note: We're going to Paris in November, and I just discovered that EasyJet is going to begin flying from Basel to Paris on October 31st. They're also going to begin flying from Basel to Amsterdam, Lisbon, and Prague next year. Here's the press release!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mein Gott!!!

I went to the incredibly inconvieniently located FedEx office in Arlesheim this morning to send an overnight envelope to the U.S. I've been to this office a couple of times before, and this was the first time I was actually able to figure how to navigate my way to the parking spots right in front of the office. The last two times involved parking on the upper-deck of a parking garage and maneuvering down a three-story spiral staircase. Of course, the front door of the office is locked. You have to ring a doorbell, and then a man comes to the door, unlocks it, and invites you in. The man didn't seem to understand my "sehr gut Deutsch", and he didn't speak very much English. But, I managed to communicate what I needed, and things were rolling smoothly. Then, I asked him a question in German, and there seemed to be quite a bit of confusion. That was, until a man who spoke perfect English walked up and informed me that the first man was French and only understood French, Swiss-German, and a little bit of English.
The price for this plain old FedEx next-day envelope going from Basel, Switzerland to Herndon, VA U.S.A.???? CHF 67.30, or U.S. $57.48!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Am I the only person who thinks that's a bit steep? How much does it cost these days to send an overnight envelope from the U.S. to Switzerland? Just curious. To add insult to injury, if you're paying cash, you have to have EXACT CHANGE!!! Although I noticed that they now accept credit cards - something new since my last visit about 18 months ago to this "customer friendly" FedEx office.

Pizza, Pigs, and Pumpkins...

Last weekend in a nutshell:

A group of us went to a restaurant for dinner on Friday night. The restaurant is called Zagara, and we've been there many times. Mrs. TBF, especially, was really looking forward to having some of their pizza. We picked up the menus, took a look, and...NO PIZZA! As it turned out, the pizza oven was broken. Bummer! We had to settle for other Italian stuff...which ended up being pretty good!

On Saturday morning, we went to our 10:30 French lesson. Since we still had a real hankering for pizza, we decided to walk to a pizza ristorante after the lesson. We had our pizza fix! Afterwards, we did a little shopping, and then we decided to head back home. We walked out of a department store and saw THE PIG!! What? A pig in Basel, you ask? Well, not exactly. It's a tram that's designed to look like a piggy bank (advertising Kantonalbank). It's big, pink, has a big pig face on the back, and a coin going into a slot on the top. Plus, the inside is lined with wallpaper that looks like Swiss franc coins. It's pretty creative actually. For the past several months, Mrs. TBF and I have been mildly obsessed with "riding The Pig"! So, now it's Saturday afternoon, we walk out of Manor, The Pig goes by, I yell "The PIG!", and before we know it we're running to the tram stop. We made the tram, and now we can say we've ridden The PIG! I'm not sure, but I think it's going to make Mrs. TBF's top-ten list for the year.

Saturday night: I won't get into the details, but we went to John and Rammy's house for a wine tasting party. They belong to a wine club that has a monthly tasting. The tasting is actually designed as a competition, and the winning couple (and last place couple) actually win some pretty nice prizes. The contest is pretty difficult for an uneducated wine palate like mine. You have to blind test a bunch of wines and guess the grape variety, year, region, price, etc., etc. To make a long story short - Mrs. TBF and I CAME IN SECOND PLACE. I don't know squat about wine, but I managed to make some pretty high-percentage, educated guesses. I guess you could say I was in the proverbial wine "zone" so to speak. We had a nice time and made it home in the "wee hours" of Sunday morning.

Sunday: I woke up at the butt-crack of dawn (OK...really more like 10:00 a.m.!). We had breakfast, went into town to buy some groceries (only two grocery stores by the train station are open on Sunday), and then we made the first trip this fall to the PUMPKIN farm!

I love this picture of Mrs. TBF! She's just soooooooo excited that Pumpkin Season 2005 has finally arrived.
Afterwards, we went home, Mrs. TBF made some pumpkin soup, we grilled a couple of steaks, and watched football until the "wee hours".
Pizza+Pig+Pumpkins+Pig Skin = Perfect Weekend?

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Our new refrigerator was delivered this morning. The appointment was for 8:00 a.m., and our doorbell rang at precisely 8:00 a.m.! The new fridge was needed because the old one had developed a new feature - an iceberg.
The old fridge was defrosted (yes, you actually have to defrost refrigerators here!) right before we went on vacation. When we returned from Amalfi, the new iceberg was already forming. So, a quick call was made to the landlord, the new fridge was ordered, and a few days later a message with a man speaking in Swiss-German was on our answering machine. Within the message was a word that kind of sounded like kuhlschrank (refrigerator) so I figured it was somebody calling for a delivery appointment. Fortunately we have caller-ID, because I never would have understood the way the guy said his phone number. When I called the man back, he actually seemed to understand my German. However, I couldn't really understand him when he spoke to me. I told Mrs. TBF that we had an appointment for Thursday morning. The problem was that I wasn't 100% sure whether it was for today...or next week. It turned out that it WAS for today, and even though King couldn't really give a rip, I think that everything's really, really cool!

Monday, September 12, 2005


If you're a man, you're in Amsterdam, you're under six-feet tall, and you're using a public urinal - then, you're standing on your tiptoes right now. Yes, this was one of the many amazing discoveries I made this past weekend during my 52-hour stay in Amsterdam. For the record, Dr. John and I actually stayed in Utrecht, but we DID spend a lot of time in Amsterdam sitting at sidewalk cafés watching life pass us by. And you know what? We had a damn good time doing it! Plus, we made some other discoveries (along with the abnormally high urinals):

Amstel tastes better than Heineken! Maybe it was the fact that Dr. John and I found a bar (first picture) that served up the Amstel in pitchers (Pitchers are unheard of in Switzerland!), but we definitely liked the Amstel better. It's just our opinion, but we're stickin' to it!

brits...Brits...BRITS!!! Everywhere!!! I'd swear that I heard more Brits than Dutch in Amsterdam. It was amazing. Plus, it seemed like most of them were on the cheapest possible vacation package that money could buy. We spoke with one British couple. They took a boat from some point in England, it arrived in Amsterdam at 8:00 a.m., they had about six hours to spend in Amsterdam, then it was back to the boat to head back to England. Uhhh....What's the point? The lady said it only cost the two of them 180 pounds. I said, "...that much?!?!? All that work for six hours in Amsterdam?!?!?!?" She didn't seem too pleased.

Amsterdam is cheap! At least, it's cheap compared to Switzerland. On Sunday, after Dr. John had already left to return to the U.S., I went to a food stand to buy a snack. The guy said 2.40, but I thought he said 12.40. I gave him a ten and a five. He handed back the ten, and said he just needed the five. "We are not expensive - just good!" was what he said. I told him that I would have paid 12.40. He asked me, "...Where are you from? Switzerland?"'d he know that?

Amsterdam is a great place to go with no plan whatsoever! That's what we did. We were never bored, we never went hungry, we never went thirsty, we (almost) never got lost, and we didn't get arrested. We were also pleasantly surprised by Utrecht. We had to stay in Utrecht because Amsterdam was all booked up due to a convention, and we found it to be really nice. They have all these restaurants lining the canals (second picture), and there were many great places to enjoy a bite to eat. Also, everybody was speaking Dutch. It wasn't touristy at all which balanced it nicely with Amsterdam. It really felt like we were in the Netherlands. I don't know if I'd stay there again, but I'm glad we did.

I really have no complaints. OK...maybe one. I could have learned to speak Dutch in the time it took me to get to my gate at Schiphol Airport, but that's just TBF being picky. It was great seeing Dr. John again, it was nice going to Amsterdam for the second time in less than six months, the weather ended up being much better than expected (third picture), but...I'm also glad to be back at home. Mrs. TBF had a "successful" shopping weekend in Milan and a nice time with the girls, but I think she's glad to be home too. You know what? I even think King's happy that we're back at home.

Friday, September 09, 2005

I'm Happy, ...

...and I'm sad.
I'm happy because I leave for Basel Airport in about a half-hour to fly off to Amsterdam. I'll be meeting my old neighbor - Dr. John - for a well-behaved boys weekend away. I'm also happy because I found out that Kirk and Gretchen of Expatter fame are also going to be going to Amsterdam this weekend...AND WE'RE ON THE SAME FLIGHT!!! It's a small world, isn't it?
I'm also happy because Mrs. TBF is going to Milan this weekend with a bunch of ladies for a girly weekend of shopping and whatever else it is that girls do.
However, I'm also sad because Mrs. TBF and I will be apart. For some reason, it doesn't bother us if one of us goes away, and the other one stays at home. But, the fact that both of us are going away to different destinations has us both a bit blue. However, I'm sure we'll both have a lot of fun, and we'll only be gone for a couple of nights.
Gotta run...
Dr. John: I'm on my way!!!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

One Less Thing...

...on my "Things To Do List"!
About a week ago when we were lounging next to the pool at our hotel in Capri, I managed to open my eyes long enough to notice an olive tree in a planter about ten feet away from me. I told Mrs. TBF that I thought an olive tree would be a nice addition to our garden.
This morning, that thought became reality. I drove over to Wyss Nursery in Oberwil, and plunked down 48 CHF on yet another plant for the rooftop. They had bigger olive trees, but since the tree will have to come inside during the coldest part of winter I thought it would be a little less work lugging a two foot tall tree inside instead of a six-footer. Plus, the big trees were 155 CHF (...I didn't want an olive tree that badly!).
Now that we have the olive tree, all we need is some sort of statuary (I'm looking for a miniature "David".) and Mrs. TBF will have her own "little Italy" on the rooftop.

I Received an E-Mail Yesterday...

...letting me know that the Wheeling High School Class of 1980's (my class) 25th Reunion has been cancelled due to "lack of interest"! It had been scheduled for this coming weekend in Schaumburg, Illinois and I guess it's not going to happen. Bummer! For the record: I'm going to Chicago next month, so I thought that going to Chicago two months in a row might be a bit much. I guess I'm being lumped in with the "lack of interest" crowd. Although I definitely would have gone if it had been more convenient for me to do so.
I seem to recall that there were something like 475 people in my graduating class. I'd bet that most of them still live in the Chicago area, and it's amazing to me that they (whoever "they" are) couldn't round up at least a couple of hundred people for the reunion.
When's the next one? 30 years? 50 years?? Never???

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I Picked Up a New USB Cable...

...and I'm back in the business of posting pictures on the blog. One thing I'm wondering, though...why does Interdiscount feel that it's necessary to lock up every single cable that's for sale in the store? I'm not joking...the man had to use a key to unlock the lock that was on the front of the little do-hicky that the cables were hanging from. The things cost 24.95 CHF for God's sake. Everybody talks about how safe and honest Switzerland is, and yet Interdiscount is locking up the cables. Oh well...
But, getting back to Amalfi. We really enjoyed our stay in Capri. While we were there, Mrs. TBF must have said about ten times how great it was and that we'd have to go back next year. Then, we went to Amalfi and everything changed. Now, our plans are to go back to Amalfi, stay there, and just take day-trips to Capri, Positano, Ravello, etc. We loved everything about our stay in Amalfi - the hotel, the hotel staff, the town, the restaurants, the seaside location. It was relaxing, enjoyable, and just an all-around great vacation destination.
So, here are a couple of new pictures.

Ok...put the harpoon down. That's TBF swimming in the sea. Our hotel swimming pool was right at the seafront. We just went into the pool one time. For the rest of our time in Amalfi we just jumped into the sea.

Each morning, we'd go down to the pool around 10:00 a.m. right after the buffet breakfast. The novelty had worn off at bit by the time we reached Amalfi, so I wasn't really gorging on bacon and eggs as much as I had been in Capri. So, when noon rolled around, and we had been roasting in the sun for a couple of hours, I would be feeling a bit parched and looking for a little something to put in the old stomach. Of course, Mrs. TBF would order a water (so health conscious!), but since it was now afternoon (albeit, only 12:05 p.m.), yours truly would order two beers and the waiter would bring this lovely little "peanuts/Pringles flower" for us to nibble on with our drinks. I ended up getting two beers because I ordered the large beer and I was told "...Signor, we only have-a the small-a beer-a!" So, I had no choice but to order two.

Finally, here's a picture of the pool area. It was kind of hot and hazy the day I took this picture so you can't see it too well, but that's the town of Amalfi in the background.

More pictures soon.

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties...

...please stand by.
I think I left my USB camera cable in our hotel room in Amalfi because I can't find the gosh-darned thing anywhere! What that means is that I can't load any pictures into the "Bozo-puter" (people from Chicago will probably understand that one...) until I get a new one. I'm going to head over to Media Markt in a little while to see if I can find one.
Oh...and by the way, I didn't hear Primus this morning until about 6:40 a.m. I guess they're improving.

Monday, September 05, 2005

One Year Ago...

...this past weekend, we went to a party at our friends' - Mark (a.k.a "Thong Man") and Sandra's - house, and the police showed up at 2:00 a.m. to tell us that the neighbors had complained that we were making too much noise. To celebrate that momentous occasion, I decided to complain about one of OUR neighbors here in Binningen which has been making too much noise - Primus.
I've mentioned Primus before. They're a fire protection/extinguisher company which has a loading dock that's located within earshot of our bedroom window. If they comply by the town rules which dictate that they can't start working until 7:00 a.m. (or, it might actually be 8:00 a.m.), then there's no problem. However, when TBF wakes up at 5:27 a.m. to the all too familiar sounds of trucks being loaded, then there's definitely a problem. Mrs. TBF told me that she actually heard them around 5:00 a.m.
I know it's very Swiss of me, but I called Frau Honigman at our building's management company and complained. She told me that there are "very streekt rules" in our town concerning when companies can "beegeen making zee noyce" and that she was going to write a letter to Primus. I asked her to include in the letter that Hell hath no fury like TBF woken up at an unnatural hour. Actually, I didn't say that, but I did tell her that the next time it happens, I will go down to Primus in my bathrobe and break out a verbal can of wupp-ass (OK...didn't actually use those words. Her English is good, but not that good!), and then I'll call the police. She said that calling the police was not necessary, and that her letter should be enough.
Huh? We'll see. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Amalfi - No Comment...

I'm feeling kind of lazy, so I'm just going to post some pictures from our trip with no comments...

Amalfi/Basel - Do You Know What????

It WAS Bryan Ferry!!! The man who drove us to Naples Airport this morning at 5:30 a.m. confirmed it. I asked him if he has every driven any celebrities, and he said no..."but my manager has." When I pressed a bit further, I found out that the manager had driven Bryan Ferry from our hotel to his private jet two days ago. That means that Mrs. TBF definitely saw Bryan Ferry lying on the chaise lounge next to mine. I'm saying that that counts as an official brush with celebrity.
We are now back in Basel. Everything went well until we were standing at the luggage carrousel at Basel Airport. Some idiot decided to hit the red emergency stop button for absolutely no reason whatsoever after only about four suitcases had come out. I was standing right in front of the button, and I saw him do it. Of course, I was listening to my iPod Shuffle at a fairly loud volume when he did it which caused me to probably yell out "...WHAT THE HECK DID YOU DO THAT FOR?!?!?!" Then, it took the competent Swiss airport authorities a good 45 minutes to get the thing turned back on. But, we're home now, and all is well with the world. I'll post more pictures from our trip soon.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Amalfi - One Thing You Can't Find... Amalfi conditioner. They haven't had hair conditioner for Mrs. TBF in either of our hotels. So, she thought she could just buy some in town. We went to a few stores: plenty of shampoo, but no hair conditioner. I guess Italians don't feel they need it. Hey, wait a minute...Mrs. TBF is Italian-American, and she goes through gallons of hair conditioner. Go figure...
But anyway...we went out to dinner tonight at a really good restaurant in Amalfi called Risorante Marina Grande. It wasn't anything fancy, just real good food right on the seashore. We had our fill of pasta, seafood, beef, cheese, wine, etc., etc. We are full, and we are happy.
Now it's time to go to bed. You'll be happy to know that we have "very soft lee-poes". At least that's what the maid called them. The conversation went something like this:

Maid: "I give you very soft lee-poes."

TBF: "Lee-poes? Do you mean pillows."

Maid: (disgusted with herself) "Si...pee-loes."

TBF: "Grazie."

So, it's time for me to go to bed and have pleasant dreams on our extremely soft "lee-poes". Good night.

Amalfi - The 73-Step Program.

We arrived in Amalfi yesterday morning, and we took a taxi from the port to our hotel - Hotel Santa Caterina. The hotel is very nice! We actually like it better than the hotel we stayed at in Capri. There are pictures in the lobby of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea when they stayed here in 1994, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stayed here just after Brad and Jen broke up, and Mrs. TBF claims that Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music) was lying on the chaise next to mine at the pool today. She says yes, and I say maybe...
We are very tan, and we are very relaxed. Our past two days have gone pretty much as follows: We wake up, get dressed, and then climb the 73 steps from our "Honeymoon Suite" to the breakfast buffet. Yes, we received an upgrade to the "Honeymoon Suite" when we checked in yesterday. It's a funky two level room with a sitting area, floor to ceiling windows, crazy looking bed, jacuzzi, and a nice big bathroom. After breakfast, we take the elevator down to the seaside pool. We park ourselves on our chairs, occasionally jump into the pool or the sea, TBF enjoys a big cigar (first picture...sorry Dad, I know you hate pictures of me smoking cigars), Mrs. TBF (second picture) and I enjoy a Cynar and tonic, and then head back up to our room around 5 p.m. Yesterday evening, we actually went into Amalfi and walked around the nice shopping area and bought a few things. Since we're staying in the "Honeymoon Suite" TBF had extra interest in the "Viagara Naturale" (third picture). Also, Mrs. TBF (in the fourth pictures) was amazed at what were the largest lemons we've ever seen.
More pictures tomorrow if we can break away from our busy schedule of doing nothing.