Friday, April 27, 2007

I'm Exhausted...

I'm one of those guys who needs a vacation after taking a vacation just to recuperate from the added stress encountered during the vacation. Add in any kind of time zone change, and Fuhgeddaboudit!

I really enjoy going to Chicago to see friends and family. Really! However, I have to say one thing: the nieces and nephew, but...they exhaust me! And to think that I'm exhausted after seeing them just for a few hours a day for a week here and there unlike my sister and bro-in-law who have to deal with these whirling dervishes every single day. appointment with my doctor to discuss a vasectomy has already been set up for next week!

Dinner is especially hectic. I'm used to Mrs. TBF and I sitting down to a relaxing dinner. Sure, King will come by occasionally and beg for a little something, but that's about as hectic as our dinners get. Now, add four kids to the dinner table and things change...a bit. Certain words come to mind; chaos, bedlam, pandemonium...just to name a few. One evening, about an hour after dinner, my mom actually had to ask me what we had eaten because...she couldn't really remember.

Lots of distractions at dinnertime at my sister's house...

So, yes, I'm exhausted. Add into the equation that my flight left Chicago 90-minutes late on Wednesday resulting in me having to walk/run through Heathrow to catch my connecting flight to Basel. I landed at Heathrow at 7:50, caught the bus from Terminal 3 to Terminal 4, went through Security (after pretty much cutting in front of everybody in the long line), and parted the sea of travelers in Terminal 4 who saw in my eyes that I was prepared to kill (...only had to stiff-arm one person) as I made my way to Gate 19. I made it to my gate and boarded the plane (last person to board) while receiving many kudos from the incredulous staff who couldn't believe that I had made it. The door closed about a second after I got on the plane. Yes, I had made it, but... luggage didn't.

The luggage was delivered last night; one around 21:00, and the other one shortly after midnight.

This morning, I drove Mrs. TBF to the train station so she could catch the 7:03 train to Vevey.

I'm exhausted!

Friday Flashback: April 18, 2007

I was snoozing on the plane while flying from London to Chicago when I woke up and noticed this picture on my little TV monitor.

This would definitely be the worst time to be hearing the words "mechanical failure"!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Asparagus Season

Ok Bloggers and readers...I have been wondering about an issue for some time and I hope someone out there has some answers. Spring is "spargle" season, or asparagus season in Switzerland and I guess most of the western world. TBF and I happen to both enjoy asparagus and tend to eat a lot of it during the official season. In Switzerland both green and white asparagus are readily available and in large quantities. And, the spears also tend to be large. In the US, when you buy asparagus, the spears tend to be rather slim. So, here is what's been bothering me - absence of asparagus pee! Now don't get all embarrassed on me now - you know exactly what I mean. What I have noticed, now that I'm into my seventh asparagus season is that I don't seem to have asparagus pee anymore unless we buy extra slim spears. And the white asparagus have never caused asparagus pee. My theory is that whatever the chemical or enzyme is that causes asparagus pee diminishes the larger or thicker the spear is and is perhaps not present at all in the white variety. Can anyone out there verify this? Or, have I just evolved? I think not since TBF has also admitted to absence of asparagus pee. As an aside, one of the funniest asparagus pees ever was after we fed some to our dear departed Dominique and she went out for a pee and then did a doggy double take and turned back to smell her pee - it was so cute!
Anyway, I hope someone can help me understand this strange phenomenon, or if I'm just strange?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Missing TBF in Basel

While TBF is all jet lagged in Chicago, I'm missing him in Basel! Well, actually I've missed him in Nyon and in Gland (both about 30 minutes from Geneva). TBF left early Wednesday AM and early Thursday AM I headed down to Nyon by train for two days worth of meetings. Thanks to Uncle Dx Dave who took care of the beast (King). I arrived home at around 9:15 PM on Friday night and was greeted at the door by a very angry King who was telling me that his evening meal or two were now late and I'd better hurry up. I complied and within 5 minutes King was lapping up his super soft senior food laced with his sweet liquid Gatinar laxative. Then, I prepared a little something for myself - one of my favorites - poached eggs over spinach, mmmmmmm. After a wonderful night's sleep (in bed shortly past midnight and up around 9 AM), here's how the rest of the weekend went...
Saturday AM: 2 cups of coffee and then up to the roof to water. It's been so sunny and dry here that the garden could definitely use the water. Then, back down to the apartment to vacuum up all the sand that the beast tracks around. Yes...Mrs TBF does occasionally have to do housework.
Saturday afternoon: Met Rammy in town for a planned shopping spree. TBF and I have a summer wedding to attend so I though I'd better get a nice summer dress before all the good stuff is gone. Success! I also managed to buy another dress, a suit, a skirt, and two jackets!!! Major success, and they even gave Rammy and I some fizzy water in the Merkur shop because we were spending enough money I guess. And who says you never get anything free in Switzerland!
Saturday evening: Champagne and BBQ at Rammy and John's. I decided Saturday afternoon that I was in the mood for a little pink champagne, so I picked up two different bottles in town for us to sample. It was a perfect summer-ish (my God it's only April) evening, with a little chill in the evening air, but clear and calm. Rammy served up some delish scallops and John BBQed lamb steaks. It was a very nice evening...but we all missed TBF.
Sunday AM: Tennis with Rammy. We both played really well and we had an outdoor court - in April!!! I couldn't believe it, but it was perfect weather.
Sunday afternoon: After lunch I went for a nice walk with Di and Andy. We walked from their place up the hill, and let me tell you after playing tennis, my legs and butt were screaming going up that hill. Oh well - I got my share of exercise today, which was good. But, we all missed TBF. It was another perfect weather day and I'm beginning to wonder if we're headed towards another summer like 2003 - one can only hope.
Tonight, I'm relaxing, catching up on blogs and doing some laundry! I thought about having a relaxing bath, but I'd only miss TBF even more. Can't wait for him to get home. Ciao.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jet-Lagged In Chicagoland...

I woke up at 3:20 this morning. I thought it was 4:20, and figured that I had slept long enough. After reading in bed for about 45 minutes, I looked at my watch and saw that it was 4 a.m.! Doh! I t'ink I'll be needin' an afternoon nap!

I'm happy to report that no problems were encountered during the trip to Chicago. Well...almost no problems.

British Airways: You need to get your act together at Basel Airport. What's the purpose of a "self check-in" if one has to go stand in the same line as everybody else? Where's the quick baggage drop-off? WTF?!?!? Note to self: don't fly to Chicago during the BASELWORLD Watch Show next year; too many people flying BA between Basel and London.

Also, do you, BA, really think that a sausage & onion relish brioche roll is the wisest food offering for a 6:45 a.m. flight? Thank God I had some matches in my carry-on bags. Oops...did I say that out loud?

On the other hand...

You, American Airlines, receive my highest praise for your food and wine offerings in business class. I had a wonderful "Grilled Chicken Wrapped With Bacon" (a grilled breast of chicken flavored with garlic and herbs, topped with sliced avocado and wrapped with applewood-smoked bacon, complemented by sauteed green beans and roasted corn rice). Seriously, I would be happy if a restaurant in Basel served me this meal; it was seriously good! I washed it down with some Bordeaux AND some Australian Shiraz, and then I settled down for a nice two-hour nap. After my nap, Kelly - one of the friendliest flight attendants ever - served some real Chicago (Uno's) pizza. It was just a great flight!

Damn, I'm hungry. Time for lunch!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"Guten Morgen..."

...I said to the nurse at my doctor's office when I called this morning.

TBF: Ich bin TBF, und ich benutze Nasonex Nasenspray für meine Allergien. Ich fliege morgen vormitag nach Chicago, und habe ich heute bemerkt das mein Nasonex leer ist. Haben sie Nasonex bei ihren Büro, oder muss ich diese Medizin bestellen?

Nurse: Was ist ihre Nachname?


Nurse: Was ist ihre Vorname?


Nurse: Yes, vee haff dee medizeen here in dee offees. You may peek eet up at any time.

TBF: Do you close for lunch?

Nurse: No, vee remain open.

TBF: Thanks. I'll pick up the medicine early this afternoon.

Why the heck did I bother with two years of German lessons?

I could have saved the money and bought a new watch instead!

Hell Has Frozen Over...

I received a call, this past Saturday, from the store where I had brought in my watch for repairs (...eight weeks ago!) saying that: "...your Breitling vatch is retty, und you may hol [holen is "to get" in German] your vatch at any time!" The strange thing about it is that I was standing in front of that very same store, at almost precisely the moment they left the message on our answering machine...looking at my next watch (see one post below) in the store window.


Now, if you'll remember, my warranty expired at the end of September, so I was expecting this repair to be very costly. For that reason, I first made my way to the UBS bank machine to withdraw a wad of money, and then I walked across Marktplatz to the watch store.

The store opens at 13:30 on Mondays, and I apparently arrived at 13:29 because the store's front door was locked when I tugged on it, and a (security?) man was standing there looking at me and holding up one finger; not the middle one, I'm happy to report.

So...I waited the mandatory one minute, walked in, and handed a lady my claim check. She disappeared behind a wall for a minute and then came out with my watch (which she was polishing with a cloth). I put it on and tried out the stopwatch to make sure it worked (it did!). Then, the lady showed me that my Breitling book had been stamped verifying the "official" repair and...


I thanked her, and I got the hell outta' there before she changed her mind!


It's kind of strange, but even though it was warm and sunny outside...

...I slipped on a patch of ice on my way out of the store!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Time Stand Still...

I went to the BASELWORLD Watch and Jewelry (BTW...the Brits spell it "jewellery"...Wankers!) Show, and OH...MY...GAWD was it boring!!!! Had I known how boring it was going to be, I would have saved the CHF 45 ($35 U.S.) one-day admission fee and just checked out the watches on the internet. Save yourself the money and just go window shopping in downtown (...insert name of big city here!).

I showed up at 15:00, and I thought I could last maybe two to three hours. And? I barely lasted one! MAJOR...LEAGUE...SUCKAGE! I left at just after 16:00, and I would have just given my ticket to an enemy of mine (if I had one) just to subject him/her to the torture I had just endured, but there were big signs warning people that the tickets were non-transferable, and anybody caught giving or selling their ticket to somebody else was subject to "a fine"!

Oooooooh...I'm scared!!!!

By the way, I'm sure most non-German speakers don't know that the German word for jewelry is Schmuck! That's right, like when Americans are calling somebody an idiot by calling them a schmuck. However, the Germans pronounce it more like shmook. It always cracks me up to walk around Basel and see the signs that say Schmuck in big, bold letters.

But, getting back to the show...

There were only two highlights for me. The first highlight was that, for whatever reason, there were A LOT of Finns at the show. I heard Finnish being spoken all over. About five minutes after entering the show, I overheard three Finnish guys (who were obviously in "the business") dressed entirely in black, with long shoulder-length straight hair, soul patches, and crazy-ass Euro glasses talking complete SHIT like they were important or I followed them.

Yes, I'm talking some serious stalking here.

I pretended to be seriously interested in whatever watches they were looking at while I listened to them droll on...and on...AND ON in Finnish about chronometers, Swiss movements, mechanisms of various sorts, profit margins, etc. Just when I was becoming rather impressed with my stealth, I noticed that they had stopped talking, and...


Busted! I'm not really sure what tipped them off, but when I looked at their faces, let's just say that I did notice that there were certain similarities in our facial features. I think they had recognized me as a Finn. It was time to move on...

The second highlight was the Rolex exhibit. I picked up a Rolex catalog, and Mrs. TBF will be happy to know that I've picked out my next watch. Allow me to present...the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date GMT-Master II!!!! I'm not sure yet if I'm going to go with the "F-YOU Corporate World/Pepsi Can" colors, or if I'll opt for the safer black face/bezel with silver/gold band. However, I'm pretty sure that this is the watch for me because I'm geeked about the fact that the "rotatable bezel, 24-hour hand and independently adjustable 12-hour hand allow simultaneous use of any two time-zones."

Come on...that's important stuff!

Jo Mama And Jewry...

Jo Mama's back in Chicago now. Basel cooperated with nice weather (3.9 out of 5.0) during her stay, and it was a good visit overall. We each only got really angry with her one time...which isn't too bad at all.

I brought her to Zürich Airport yesterday morning for her 12:55 Swiss flight back to Chicago. This brings up something I've been wondering about for nearly seven years now...

What's the deal with all the Jewish people flying between Zürich and Chicago? I try to avoid Swiss as a rule because I think they suck as an airline, but on the few occasions I've flown Swiss to Chicago, the plane has been loaded with what I think are Hasidic Jews (dressed in black, wearing hats, men with curls at their temples). Yesterday, the Swiss check-in line was at least 75% made-up of men wearing yarmulkes, women dressed in black, etc. These were Americans and not people from Israel as was the case on my previous Swiss flights. Jo told me that the flight from Chicago to Zürich was the same. This fascinates me...

What's up with this? Why do so many of the world's 13 million Jews fly Swiss between Zürich and Chicago? Just wondering... Can anybody help me here? TBF needs to know!


Jo Mama's back at home, and all that's left of her visit is a pile of bed linens and towels that still need to be washed, a few empty bottles of prune juice that need to be recycled, and a few pictures that I finally uploaded into the computer. Here are three of my faves...

Jo Mama and Mrs. TBF sharing a pumpkin seed pretzel. Jo Mama's not supposed to eat seeds because they can aggravate her diverticulitis. However, she chose this moment to tell Mrs. TBF that "large seeds" don't bother her. I've also heard her say, in the past, that "small seeds" don't bother her. Dear Jo Mama: If large seeds AND small seeds don't bother you, then you probably don't have diverticulitis!

Jo Mama has been a widow for nearly ten years now. Whenever she comes to Basel, we always tell her that we're going to hook her up with a rich, elderly, Swiss gentleman. If we see somebody that fits the bill, we'll just say "suitor!" to see if she approves.

She NEVER approves.

Here is a rare photograph of Jo Mama with one of her "suitors". The guy is obviously checking her out, and she is, like, totally ignoring him. WHAT A TEASE!

Whenever the experience that is "living with Jo Mama" would become too much for yours truly, I just retreated into the sanctity of the rooftop garden (The Fishbowl) to clear my head. I could just feel the eyes of all the Swiss people in the tall apartment building - which we call One Big Bruno - staring down at me because: I was wearing shorts and flip flops in April; I was wearing plaid Bermuda shorts that no Swiss person would ever wear; I was trimming the boxwoods into two giant testicles while sitting and smoking a cigar (" an old Dago!" Mrs. TBF's words, not mine!). DEFINITELY stare-worthy, I'm sure, as far as the Swiss are concerned.

Hey, now that I'm looking back at these pictures...

Is that guy in the second picture actually staring at me?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Light Up, Everybody...

...and grab yourself a cup o' Joe!

In the news today: Recent studies have shown that both smoking cigarettes and drinking plenty of coffee seem to reduce the risk of Parkinson's in people from families who are prone to the disease.

My grandfather had Parkinson's, and I also have an aunt with Parkinson's disease...

I currently drink three to four cups of coffee per day (much less than I used to), and I smoke an occasional cigar (one to two per week during the warmer months). Maybe I need to increase the coffee consumption and supplement the cigars with cigarettes.

What's next? Drinking beer is good for the liver? Eating a pound of bacon per day lowers cholesterol? Global warming is good for the Earth? Scientific research won't be contradictory?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

It's Always Something...

Mrs. TBF and I are pretty healthy people, but lately we've been sick...A LOT!

We both had the flu a few weeks back, and then we both had the flu - again - a couple of weeks later. Last week, I woke up on Wednesday with a scratchy throat that developed into a cough, congestion, and post-nasal drip (...nice thing about a cold: you never go hungry!). As soon as I started feeling better, Mrs. TBF came down with my cold...but worse (...sorry!).

Spring has finally sprung, and it is our hope that the better weather (yesterday was a 5!) will bring an end to our ills. Of course, the annual allergy problems will flare up in the not too distant future, and I'll have to deal with that, but first...

I've got to deal with this damn stigmata that flared up yesterday!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Flashback: The Green Fairy

Mrs. TBF, Jo Mama, and I went out to dinner with Drs. Andy, Di, John, and Rammy last night. We went to a place called Balthazar (sorry, no website), and it was really good; good food, big wine list, and good service - a rare, Swiss, triple thumbs-up! The waitress even exhibited signs of a sense of humor by laughing when I ordered "...für meine liebe Schwiegermutter, ein bischen Essigsaft und ein alter Schuh!" (...for my dear mother-in-law, some vinegar juice and an old shoe!).It looks like they have a really nice outdoor seating area, so we'll have to go back for a little al fresco dining once the weather warms up a bit.

After dinner, we were all in the mood for a little more wine. The kids are all away at swim camp, so the parents had no curfew. We all took the tram back to our apartment and opened up a couple of bottles of wine.

Then, the "green fairy" made a rare appearance...

It was almost exactly one year ago when Andy and Di came over dinner. For some unknown reason, we decided to break out a bottle of absinthe that I had bought in Spain a few years back. We didn't really know how it should be served, so we decided to have it in a snifter with a couple of ice cubes...and the essence of Di's feet. It wasn't until much later, that I found out from Sal's blog that one is supposed to dilute absinthe with water at a ratio of about five to one. Oops!

Did we learn our lesson? Obviously not! Last night, we once again enjoyed the "green fairy" with a couple of ice cubes. Andy especially enjoyed pointing out the fact that absinthe is 70% alcohol...while he sipped away.

Suddenly, Andy stated that he'd had enough, and he walked into the kitchen to dump out the absinthe that remained in his snifter. A couple of minutes later, he and Di were heading home in a taxi.

I haven't heard from him today. I wonder how he's doing...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Roadtrip To Riquewihr...

Riquewihr is a medieval town in the Alsace about an hour's drive from Basel. We've been there many times with many different people. However, we recently realized that we haven't been there for nearly four years. It was time to change that...and yesterday was the day. The three of us jumped into the Jeep and made the one hour drive up to Riquewihr.

The Jeep must be exhausted. I think I've driven more in the past two weeks than I did during the first ten weeks of 2007. Plus, the speed limit on the highway in France is 130 kph / 80 mph! I'm sure the Jeep is still trembling down in the garage.

We made it to Riquewihr around 11:00 a.m., walked around a bit, sampled/bought some Rieslings at a wine dégustation, and then made our way to one of our favorite places for lunch - Au Cep de Vigne.

I'm not really sure why (maybe because it was a Tuesday), but nobody else dined in the restaurant the whole time we were there. The food (Alsatian specialties) is great, the setting (in an old wine cellar) is really unique, and the service (despite the language barrier) is very friendly.

Yes, I said friendly. See? The French don't really hate everybody!

After our 90-minute face-stuffing marathon, and a bunch of mercis and au revoirs, we trudged up the stairs and made our way back out into the street. Another hour was spent going in and out of various shops, a few things were purchased, and then it was time to head back to the Jeep.

You'll notice that I didn't say that it was time to "...head back home". That's because we had one more stop to make...

Whenever we go to Riquewihr, we absolutely MUST make a stop at the winery shop of "the Man" - Monsieur Edel - in the nearby town of. We just lucked into his little winery shop back in late 2000, and it has become one of those places that we can't drive by without at least making a quick stop to buy a few things. Unfortunately, Mr. Edel was in the house recovering from hip surgery, but we were well taken care of by his daughter-in-law (who happens to speak perfect English). We tasted some of their apricot liquer, and ended up leaving with that plus a couple of other liquers and some crémant.

We got back into the car, hauled-ass down the highway at 80 mph, and were approaching the Swiss border about 45 minutes later. Oh...I forgot to mention that Mrs. TBF had handed in her passport at work a couple of days earlier so that they could procure a Chinese visa for her for upcoming trip, so we had to "smuggle" her back into Switzerland. Fortunately, the Swiss border patrol had no interest in questioning our "lily-white" faces (they pretty much just seem to stop people of color), and just waved us through.

Here's Mrs. TBF immediately after re-entering Switzerland sans (See? I speak French!) passport! What a law breaker! Isn't she naughty?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Jo Mama Has...

...avoided bickering with her daughter while helping in the kitchen.

...cleaned ten artichokes resulting in black fingers.

...gotten over her jet-lag, enjoyed the nice weather, and is well into her sixth trip to Switzerland.

More to come...