Wednesday, November 29, 2006

So Clean...And Safe!

I recently read this article in the easyJet in-flight magazine. In the article, the rather bland, Swiss tennis pro - Martina Hingis - rambles on about various things that I find pretty darned uninteresting (Hey...I was on a plane, and I was bored!). However, one sentence caught my eye. It was:

"I've lived near Zurich since I was eight and I love it: it's so clean and safe."

Ask any Swiss person (or most people, for that matter) to describe Switzerland, and chances are that the words "clean and safe" will pop up somewhere during the sentence. Whenever I hear or read this description, I add (in my head, of course) "...and boring!" But hey, that's just me, and I'm entitled to my opinion. Don't get me wrong. Saftey is important, and cleanliness is next to godliness (as "they" say), but I'm thinking that a few more adjectives could be thrown into the mix and peacefully coexist with the big, Swiss "C" & "S".

To me, the best thing about living in Basel is...that a lot of really interesting (less clean and more dangerous) places are only a short flight or train ride away. Basel itself? It's OK, but it's not exactly the most exciting city in the world. Again...just my opinion. But, I digress (Wow! That's the first time I've ever used those words in my blog!).

Once, at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, I somehow ended up talking with a Welsh man in the British Airways lounge (long story), and he probably summed it up better than anybody else. He said:
"Yeah...Switzerland is nice. I've been there several times. It's clean and safe [See? I told ya!] and all that, but soul!"

I think he's absolutely right. To name one thing, Switzerland (well, at least the Basel area) does not exactly have what I'd describe as a thriving music or art scene. Name a world famous Swiss artist, musician, actor, writer, comedian (I've heard the Swiss described as "famously unfunny")... You can't do it without Googling it, can you? I once asked a Swiss person to name the most world famous Swiss "rock star" they could think of, and she came up with Andreas Vollenweider. Who???? I guess a lot of Swiss just don't value pursuing careers in things like the arts that, in my opinion, are the spice of life. No! Instead, the Swiss seem to value...following rules, being on time, peace and quiet, conserving energy, etc.

What do people outside of Switzerland think of when they think of Switzerland? Let's see...chocolate, banking, mountains, cheese, fondue, Ricola, engineering, neutrality, Roger Federer - clean and safe (...and boring)!

So, sometime last week, there was a shooting close to the Basel train station. Two days ago, I read an article in Swiss Info about "...a series of brutal acts in recent weeks..." in Zurich. Today, on the tram, I saw signs warning women about pickpockets. The signs (translated) read: Keep your purses closed and your eyes open!

Danger and crime in Switzerland? Is Switzerland becoming a bit more...dangerous?

Well, at least it's still clean.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's So Funny... we don't talk anymore.

Damn you, Cliff Richard! DAMN YOU!!!!!!!!!!

It's been about ten days since we were in Paris, but that song continues to haunt me. Why? Because a poster advertising an upcoming Cliff Richard concert in Paris was plastered on the wall everywhere we looked in the Métro.

I began humming his 70s (only American?) hit, and I still can't get the stupid song out of my head. You know the one:

It's so funny how we don't talk anymore.
It's so funny why we don't talk anymore.
But I ain't losing sleep and I ain't counting sheep.
It's so funny how we don't talk anymore.

It's so funny? No, it's not!

P.S. PLEASE NOTE: Obligatory Eiffel Tower pictures...

I Put A Spell On You...

I've been spending the whole morning (ok...actually about three minutes) trying to come up with a reason as to why I've suddenly reverted back to the "working stiff's" sleeping schedule, and the theory I've come up with is that a spell has been cast over me.

Last week, during my one-day visit to Geneva, I spent a couple of hours trying to comprehend the folly that is modern/contemporary art at the Musée D'Art Moderne Et Contemporain and the Centre D'Art Contemporain.

Yes...while Mrs. TBF worked.

I like modern and contemporary art. To me, it's the kind of art that people look at, and then say to themselves: "I could do that." There's a lot of truth to that statement. However, one must keep in mind that THE ARTIST actually DID do it, and YOU just stood there and said that you COULD do it. That's one of the major reasons why HE/SHE HAS something hanging in a museum...and YOU DON'T!

Even though both museums are housed in the same building, they are kept completely separate. AND, they charge separate entrance fees (8 & 5 CHF, respectively). Why? I have no idea. What I do know is that I spent a good ninety minutes wandering around looking at rooms that could be best described as resembling a Thanksgiving Day parade float (fitting, since it WAS Thanksgiving Day) with a table and a harp, rooms wrapped in mylar with buzzing neon lights, and large installations such as this one which is called "Can I Crash Here."

As you can see, the museums aren't exactly teeming with visitors. As a matter of fact, at one point during my visit, I walked into one of the wings at which point I think I startled the (napping?) security guard who got up quickly and turned on the lights for half the floor. Ya gotta love them Swiss - always conserving energy ( that I don't have to)!

After determining that I had received an adequate amount of entertainment value for Mrs. TBF's hard-earned 13 francs, I stumbled out into the streets of lovely Gèneve (Hey...I thought it was supposed to be sunny!), and somehow found my way back to the train station.

I think I be HYP-MOTIZED!

Early To Bed...

...and early to rise.

What happened? Last night, I went to bed at 10:30, and I woke up this morning at 5:40. I opened my eyes, sat up, stared at King "the crotch rocket" sleeping between my legs who was staring back at me in disbelief, out of bed feeling wide awake. I didn't feel exceptionally tired yesterday during the day, so I'm not really sure what happened. Maybe it was the lingering effects of Sunday evening's Thanksgiving dinner at Andy and Di's house. Who knows?

What makes this little episode even stranger is that Mrs. TBF left for the U.S. yesterday afternoon. Normally, when she's away, I turn into a night owl. Reading, watching TV, reading blogs, etc. until 4 a.m. is the normal order of business for me when she's away. So, the fact that I just decided to go to bed at 10:30 is really, REALLY strange. I even slept through Mrs. TBF's call to let me know that she had arrived safely in New York (at 12:37 a.m.) even though the phone was on the headboard inches away from my head.

Wow! Going to bed at 10:30 p.m. and getting up before 6:00 a.m. It kind of reminds me of when I last had a job...2,259 days ago (September 21, 2000)!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Meet The Bloggers World Tour - 2006: Geneva the way...a belated Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans out there in bloggerland. I woke up in Nyon this past Thursday morning (tagged along with Mrs. TBF on an overnight business trip), turned on CNN, saw that the markets were going to be closed, wondered why, ....and then wished Mrs. TBF a Happy Thanksgiving as she walked out of the bathroom in her post-shower, all-wrapped-up-in-towels splendor. "Oh yeah," she said, "...I forgot."

That's Thanksgiving in Europe for you - just another day. Well, maybe just another day for her because of the fact that she had to spend the day slaving away at the office. However, Thursday ended up being a special day for yours truly. You see - I
met not one...but two fellow bloggers in a matter of a couple of hours. I've now met half a dozen bloggers, whom I had not known before blogging, face-to-face.

The first meeting ever with our fellow bloggers was with The Expatters on January 21, 2005. However, here are the dates from "Meet The Bloggers World Tour - 2006" in case you're thinking of having black concert t-shirts printed with the dates on the back:

Barry - September 27, 2006: Basel, Switzerland

Michael - November 4, 2006: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

...guess who? - November 23, 2006: Geneva, Switzerland

Sara - November 23, 2006: Geneva, Switzerland

That's right, folks! I met two very nice bloggers on one day. I met "mystery blogger" for a quick coffee, and I met Sara for lunch. Sara and I lunched on roasted chicken, so it was almost like having a Thanksgiving meal.

Three bloggers in one month! Who's next?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Paris: Spoon, Food, & Wine...

Would you like to eat at a GREAT place in Paris? Yeah? Well, then take my advice: make a reservation for dinner at Alain Ducasse's restaurant, Spoon, Food, & Wine. Do it! Now!!! It may be too late if you're going to Paris in less than a month, but give it a try anyway.

We ate at "Spoon" for the second time in a year this past Friday night. And, you know what? It was every bit as good as I remembered. I say it's currently my favorite restaurant in Paris with Senderens (a bit stuffier and not as good service) coming in a close second.

The food, service, and atmosphere at "Spoon" are all great. The staff is not in the least bit stuffy, and it's just an excellent dining experience. The menu at "Spoon" can be a bit complicated, but we just opt for the c'xy menu which is basically a "surprise" menu. Neither you nor the server knows what's coming from the kitchen, so you can't really pair up the wine to your food - which is fine because then you can just order any wine that strikes your mood (hey...that rhymed!).

I'm looking over Mrs. TBF's notes (NERD ALERT!), and (oh...and by the way, they served different things to each of us so that we could try twice as much different stuff) I can report that we had the following:

scallop w/wasabi tapioca & grapefruit (starter)

mushroom w/tofu soy foam and poached egg (starter)

tuna w/wok vegetables & satay (fish main)

sesame crusted calamari w/red pepper compote (fish main)

beef w/BBQ sauce & couscous (meat main) & Mrs. TBF's favorite!

spare ribs (meat main) & my favorite, but Mrs. TBF's beef was good too!

various desserts of which my favorite was the bubble gum ice cream

...a couple of coupes de Champagne, a bottle of vin rouge from Burgundy, a couple of espressos and....voila! The dinner was over too soon!

We walked out of the restaurant into the crisp night air just before the stroke of midnight. Wanting to preserve that look of after-dinner contentment, I set the ten-second timer on the camera, placed the camera on top of some Parisian's Smart car (don't worry...didn't scratch it), and...SNAP! Don't we just have that "Life Is Good" look on our faces?

We walked back to the hotel, climbed into bed, and...spooned.

Paris: Two-Thirds Of The Devil...

That's what Mrs. TBF calls our favorite room at the Lancaster - room 66.

We determined that this was our sixth stay at the Lancaster (Wait a second...sixth stay? 66?...666?...oh dear!), and the staff have been very, VERY kind to us. Sure, there are many other very nice, luxurious hotels around Paris - Ritz, George V (Dear American Tourists:'s George "sank", not George "vee"!), Hotel de Crillon, etc., but we feel that we've found a good thing at the Lancaster and we've stuck with them. As a matter of fact, we've never stayed anywhere else in Paris. So, we can't really give you a comparison. However, we love the friendliness of the staff, the non-pompous elegance, the location just off of the Champs Élysées, and the fact that they pretty much always upgrade us. I guess our loyalty has paid off.

Anyway, we first stayed in room 66 about a year ago. If you'll remember, it was about a year ago that all the car-fires were taking place outside of Paris, and A LOT of tourists felt the need to cancel their reservations. We didn't, and we were "rewarded" with a nice upgrade to a one-bedroom, two-bathroom, suite (room 66). Yes, a nice upgrade indeed since the room normally goes for 790 Euros/night.

Now, we were once upgraded to the biggest suite at the hotel. And, while it was pretty impressive, we actually liked room 66 better. It's cozier, we like the layout, and we like the decor (pictures HERE). Unfortunately, we forgot to write down the room number when we stayed there a year ago, and, for the life of us, we couldn't remember it. So, when the hostess showed us to our room, we knew immediately as we came off the elevator that it was THE room we had stayed in the previous year. TBF and Mrs. TBF: HAPPY!!!

We unpacked and put away our stuff, and then jumped into what I think is possibly the most comfortable bed I have ever had the pleasure of sleeping my ENTIRE LIFE!!! I don't know what it is. The mattress? The sheets? I'm telling you, my head hitting the pillow is followed by hibernation from which I don't emerge until I hear Mrs. TBF's mobile phone alarm go off...for the second or third time. God...I LOVE THAT BED...oh oh..gettin' frisky.

Where's that 'Do Not Disturb' sign?

Paris: Bastille & Le Marais

We left for the airport at the ungodly hour of 5:00 a.m., and walked into the Hotel Lancaster lobby at something like 8:45 a.m. The concierge told us that we had been upgraded to a one-bedroom suite (YES!), but it wasn't ready yet. We told him that it was absolutely not a problem, we dropped off our bags, had a cup of coffee in the "living room", walked out the front door, and walked on over toward the Métro for a quick ride to the Bastille stop.

When we emerged from underground, we were greeted by clear blue skies and set about exploring the Bastille area on foot using our City Walks: Paris index cards. We walked down a few streets, checked out a few shops, explored the covered market and outdoor morning market at place d'Aligre, and then moved on to Le Marais.

Le Marais is, according to the index card, " with history and specialty boutiques...full of attractions." And, I'd say that this was an accurate description. I mean, I guess a store selling Absinthe and Absinthe supplies would qualify as a "specialty boutique.

After wandering under the arcades at place des Vosges (galleries, cafés, and more shops), we rested a bit on one of the park benches and soaked up the sun for about half an hour. Heck, we had been up for about eight hours already, and we needed a bit of a rest. Plus, we were getting pretty hungry. So, it was time to head off to lunch.

One of our Paris guidebooks recommended a brasserie called Bofinger, and I was able to conveniently make a reservation online. Also, it just so happened to be described on one of our cards as " of the most sublime French brasseries, with a stained-glass dome, high ceilings, and a vibrant ambience." [Note: Mrs. TBF hates this picture. However, I like it, and I'm doing the bloggin here. So...tough!] I ordered my steak saignant (bloody), which caused the "American ex-pat" seated next to me to feel the need to butt in with an "Excuse me, but do you realize that you ordered your steak rare?" "Why, yes," I told him. "I want it bloody...but thank you for pointing it out to me." Obviously insulted by the fact that his "Frenchness" had not come to my rescue, he and his wife said not one more word to us, and left a few minutes later. They ended up being replaced by a German couple who were so interested in what we were eating that Mrs. TBF ended up telling the Frau in a rather interesting combination of German and French that "...das ist rognons de veau." That, of course, opened up the German flood gates, and we ended up carrying on a "Germlish" conversation with them for the rest of the meal. Normally, unless the mood is right, I abhor intrusions from people at neighboring tables while dining with Mrs. TBF (I want her all to myself), but the Germans ended up being pretty nice and I enjoyed speaking with them (even though they did feel the need to correct every single mistake...there were many...I made while speaking German).

Our tummies were now full of onion soup, meat, potatoes, and wine. Full bellies and an early wakeup where taking their toll, and we were feeling the need for a little afternoon nap. It was time to head back to the hotel.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Nous Sommes Retournés...

...from a weekend trip to Paris.

Oui, mes amis
(how's that for only a year of French lessons?), the alarm went off at 3:45 a.m. (OUCH!) on Friday morning, and we caught the 6:40 a.m., easyJet flight to Paris where we spent the weekend:



walking some more...

eating a lot more...

enjoying our favorite room in our favorite hotel of all time...

shopping a surprisingly small amount...

walking some more...

and, oh yeah...eating even more...

As is usually the case on a Monday morning aprés le bon weekend (Sacre bleu, I'm practically French!), I've spent the morning cleaning King's mess (I thought I told you 'no parties while we're gone!'), doing laundry, and listening to my stomach growl as it wonders what it's done to deserve going from a diet of 5,000 calories per day back to its weekly, minimalist Weight Watchers fare.

I'll post a lot of pictures a little later. But first, I have to go to the gym to begin working off my weekend poignées de l'amour!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wine A Little...You'll Feel Better!

While TBF was away...Mrs. TBF did play.

Last year, I went to the Basel Wine Expo alone while Mrs. TBF slaved away on a business trip. This year, Mrs. TBF returned the favor by going to the Basler Weinmesse without yours truly while I was in Chicago taking a much needed, as my friend Dave would say, "...vacation from doing nothing!"

I returned to Basel last Wednesday, followed by Mrs. TBF on Thursday. On Thursday evening (jet lag be damned!!!) we went to a "geniesser abend" at our local wine merchant's shop for a wine tasting. While we were slurping away, I casually asked Mrs. TBF how much wine she had bought at the expo. "Oh...some," she replied. I figured it wasn't too much, and we ended up buying more wine at the wine tasting.

The next day, I found the "obviously purchased without adding up the total price" list of wines that Mrs. TBF bought at the Weinmesse. I began adding up the number of bottles along the left margin. When the number went over thirty bottles, I decided it was time to break out the trusty calculator and add up the total coast. And...? I'm happy to report that Mrs. TBF spent four times as much money at the Weinmesse this year than I did last year.

This morning, a partial order was delivered which I promptly put away in the "drink now" wine rack. I'm happy to say that France and Italy are well represented.

Hmmmmm...what kind of wine do you serve with...ketchup soup?!?!?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Things We Do For Love...

"Hey, Hon...don't forget that I ordered some cookbooks and had them sent to your sister's house," Mrs. TBF said to me shortly before I left for Chicago. "No problem," I told her, since I knew I was bringing way more luggage to Chicago than I needed.

When I arrived at my sister's house, I saw that Mrs. TBF had ordered a couple of rather large cookbooks. No problem, I thought - I had plenty of room. I spent the first night at my sister's house, and then I moved on to the mom-in-law's house the next night.

Upon arriving at Jo's house, I went to "my" room and noticed a stack of Gourmet magazines. At that moment, I recalled that Mrs. TBF had mentioned that she had subscribed to Gourmet and had them sent to Jo's house. Once again - no problem. I just threw the magazines on top of the cookbooks that were sitting in the suitcase in the corner of "my" bedroom.

Later during week, I exchanged a book that my parents had brought Mrs. TBF (that she had, unfortunately, already read) for guessed it...cookbook. I brought it back to Jo's house and threw it into the suitcase. No problem!

The day finally came when it was time to go back home, and...PROBLEM!!! When I went to throw the suitcase on the bed, I discovered that what was basically an empty suitcase when I flew to Chicago had now suddenly turned into a "bag of bricks"! Fortunately, I had two bags, and I did some creative packing in order to redistribute the weight. Both bags ended up being pretty heavy, but they both (barely) made it under the weight limit.

I lugged these "bags of cement" to the car and drove to the car rental office to turn in my car. My sister met me at the rental car office, and I grunted as I transferred the bags from my rental car to my sister's minivan. Then, I grunted as I carried the bags from my sister's minivan into her house, and again (later) from inside her house out to the limo. "Señor...what do you have een deez bags," the driver asked as he struggled to load the bags into the trunk of the car. "My wife's cookbooks and cooking magazines...," I said as I collapsed into the back of the limo.

At the airport, I watched as the driver struggled to put the bags onto the cart. I was going to help him, but I figured that I needed to conserve my strength in order to be able to lift them onto the conveyor belt at check-in - which I did while "holding in my hernia." HA! Now they were the baggage handlers' problem!

...Zip ahead about fifteen hours....

The bags, by means of a Herculean effort on my part, were now in our apartment. After unpacking everything, I decided to see how much Mrs. TBF's books/magazines weighed. And, as you can see, they came in at a whopping 9.9 kilos/22 lbs. Well...I guess they were kind of heavy, but...they weren't really that heavy. Plus, look at how much she's enjoying her new cookbooks (King lay there like a was his only defense).

I guess it was worth the effort.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Flashback: Aloha, Oy Vey!!!!

As a little added incentive to lose the weight I gained in Chicago last week, I'm posting a picture from November, 1997 when Mrs. TBF and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with a two-week Hawai'ian vacation.

TBF's weight at the start of the vacation: 250 lbs./113.6 kilos.

TBF's weight at the end of the two-week vacation: 270 lbs./122.7 kilos.

DAMN those buffet breakfasts, Thanksgiving buffets, and luaus!!! Sure, it all tasted great (except for the Bud Light which was the only beer available and is, in my opinion, the worst beer of all time!...but I drank it anyway!), but it wasn't worth the IBS, indigestion, profuse sweating, sore feet, and sore knees. Would you just look at those chubby cheeks, and the amount of food on my plate???

I eventually topped out at 275 lbs./125 kilos before I dropped back to 250 lbs. - where I remained for many years. Now, I generally keep my weight under 215 lbs. (except for little lapses here and there when we travel).

It's hard for me to look at these old pictures, because I just can't believe that I let myself go like this. Sad!

Ate - 8 - 8!

Here are a few reasons why I gained just over 8 POUNDS (4 kilos) IN 8 DAYS during last week's visit to Chicago. I'm not really too concerned because I anticipated the gorgefest by leaving for Chicago five pounds under my goal weight.

Yeah, I guess eight pounds sounds like a lot of weight to gain in a short amount of time. However, it still doesn't come anywhere near my personal weight gain record of 20 POUNDS IN 2 WEEKS in November, 1997 when Mrs. TBF and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in Hawai'i. Damn those breakfast buffets!

Now that I'm thinking about it, I guess I did consume quite a few high calorie goodies during my trip, including: ribs, bacon-cheddar hamburgers, combo sandwich, french fries, deep-fried mushrooms, fried calamari, liver and onions, Chicago hot dog (no ketchup, of course!), chips, Doritos, Fritos, polish sausage with grilled onions, trick or treat candy, ribeye steak smothered in gorgonzola cheese, Dunkin' Donuts buttermilk donut, chile rellenos, corned beef hash, beef brisket sandwich, sushi, pot roast, pizza...I'm sure I'm forgetting some things...but, you get the picture.

I'm thinking that the cold weather in Chicago triggered some kind of instinct to add an insulating layer of blubber, because...I'M A MAMMAL DAMMIT!!! Hmmmm...I also decided to begin growing a winter beard on my last day there...I guess there's more to this mammalian instinct than I thought.

Anyway, we fortunately have this modern invention at our apartment here in Basel known as radiant heat. Therefore, I'm thinking that the blubber layer is unnecessary, and (hoping) that I'll be back down to fighting weight in the next couple of weeks or so. Although, it's going to be a bit of a challenge seeing that we're going to friends' houses for dinner tonight, tommorow night, and...we're going to Paris for a couple of nights next weekend.

Yes, the blubber's going to come off, but the beard is going to stay. The razor is getting a break for a few months, but I'm needing to make "happy time" with the elliptical trainer this coming week!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Colon Blow And Borat: Separated At Birth?

I just read about Sal's dad bearing an uncanny resemblance to Borat at Sal's VTB. Sure, there's some resemblance there. But, what about a twenty-something Colon Blow and Borat? Huh...HUH? Whaddya think?

Oh...and Colon about updating the blog one of these months?

Meet The Bloggers World Tour 2006: Michael

Here's the latest chapter in my never-ending effort to meet my fellow bloggers. I can now add Michael to the list of ten (not including Mrs. TBF) bloggers that I have met face to face. Ok...OK...I knew some of these bloggers before we were all bloggers, but I'm stickin' with ten...

Michael and I met at a Mexican restaurant called Cesar's which is located at Clark and Belmont in the heart of the city. I enjoyed a small Margarita which was huge by Swiss standards, some chile rellenos, and we made two hours of "happy time". I say "happy time" because the Borat movie opened in Chicago the night before, and that's what Borat would say. We even did a Borat-pose for our picture.

My visit with Michael was short but sweet. I'm sure we'll get together at some point in the not-too-distant future. Mrs. TBF is really jealous that I met Michael before she did, and now she wants to meet Michael too.

Amateur Mistake...

I think I've made close to 15 trips back to Chicago since we moved to Basel in 2000, and you'd think I'd be an expert by now. But, NO! I made the ultimate "rookie" mistake this evening - I fell asleep on the sofa at about 8:00 p.m., and woke up (with the TV remote control in my hand...hey, I'm a guy!) at 11:00 p.m. Now...I'm sitting here in the wee hours watching a replay of the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards not feeling the least bit tired.

My Chicago/London/Basel trip went well in that the flights were on time, the lines for security weren't too bad, etc. Despite the fact that I didn't get my business class upgrade, AND ended up sitting next to a complete "nut ball", I managed to squeeze in a good three hours of shut eye on the overseas flight.

"Nutball" was a talker. I knew it the moment I laid my eyes on him. Remember, I was in sales for fifteen years, so I think I'm pretty good at getting an instant read on people. My iPod was on, and my earbuds were in when I took my seat. I greeted him, and then I proceeded to ignore him despite his best efforts to make me his "BFF". He'd say something to me, and I'd pretty much pretend that I couldn't hear him even though I really could. I know, I'm an ass, but I don't care. I didn't feel like speaking to anybody, and that was my right.

At one point, I had to take my earbuds out in order to speak with the flight attendant during beverage service. As I ordered my TWO gin and tonics ($10 in economy???), "Nutball" did his best to engage me in conversation. He's 60ish, an attorney, this was his eleventh trip to London, he's from Kansas City, etc., etc. He had a BOOMING voice, kind of a hillbilly accent, and...worst of all...he was a "close-talker". I was cranky from not getting my upgrade and my lingering cold, and this guy just couldn't take the hint that I didn't feel like talking, so...I just put my earbuds back in and just ignored him while he was in mid-sentence. I figured that he'd think I was an A-hole and just leave me alone, But...NO!

Fifteen minutes later, when the gin was beginning to work it's magic, I was just sitting back with my eyes closed listening to my music, when I suddenly had this sensation that I was being watched. I opened my eyes, and...I'm not kidding..."Nutball's" face was about six inches away from mine, he was pointing at the iPod Shuffle hanging from my neck, and his voice BOOMED: "What the Hay-ell is that thang?" I just said, "iPod" and continued to ignore him.

Periodically, I'd hear "Nutball" mutter something to himself, grunt, blurt out something to the flight attendant or a random passenger walking to the lavatory, etc. He'd fidget, bump me occasionally (I think it was intentional), but I still managed to sleep for several hours.

At one point, I woke up, and "nature" called. I glanced over at "Nutball" and he appeared to be sleeping (with his blanket completely over his head), so I figured that the coast was clear. After I came out of the lavatory (do NOT go in there!), I looked toward my seat. What did I see? "Nutball" was in the aisle stretching and...doing tai chi moves. He saw me coming back, he climbed into his window seat, he inhaled as if he was going to say something, I put my earbuds back into my ears, turned my back toward him, and ignored him.

I think the only other thing I said to him was "...have a nice time in London" as I was walking off the plane.

Why me? WHY ME?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Catching The Worm...

I've been waking up kind of early every morning during this trip to Chicago, which is OK by me. This morning, I woke up at Dave and Shannon's to their dog 3:00 a.m. I stuck my fingers in his ears, scratched them until there was sufficient doggy ear wax on my fingers, and then let him lick my fingers like I used to do with Dominique (dogs LOVE that!). Both content, we fell back to sleep and I didn't wake up again until 6:00 a.m. when I got up and let Ari out into the backyard for his morning business. Coming here and sharing a bed with Ari is nice (Dave, Shannon, and the kids aren't bad either...). I look forward to it. However, I have to say...

Mrs. TBF: Don't get too excited. I'm not ready to get another dog...yet.

The trip has been going well. I've seen a lot of friends and relatives, a combo sammich has been consumed, my first U.S. steak of the trip was inhaled last night, some new clothes have been purchased, etc.

I'm in the actual city of Chicago right now about one mile west of Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team for those of you who don't follow American sports). This afternoon, I'm going to drive a couple of miles to meet up with...well, it's a surprise. This evening...dinner at Hooter's with my sister and her family. I go there for the wings....HONEST!

Mrs. TBF has returned from Kuala Lumpur, and she's back in Basel. Tomorrow morning, she leaves for the U.S. We'll be on the same continent again, but our paths will not cross. I'll arrive back in Basel on Wednesday, and she'll arrive back in Basel on Thursday. I wish she was here.

In the meantime, I'm snuggling with Ari, and Mrs. TBF is snuggling with King. I guess that'll have to do for now.