Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Flashback: Sky King

We're going to have an early start tomorrow morning; 4:30 a.m. wake up, 5:30 a.m. taxi to the airport, 6:45 a.m. flight to London, and then an 11:35 a.m. (London time) flight to Chicago.

I love flying to Chicago. Actually, I love flying...period! Sure, I love going to see friends and family, eating all the food I miss eating on a regular basis, and just getting a grand old dose of all things Americana. But the thing I like most about flying is that once you're up in the's always sunny. Yes, it's gray and dreary here in Basel today, but tomorrow at this time I'll be seeing nothing but clear blue skies and sunshine (if I'm not asleep).

In honor of tomorrow's flight, I dug deep through the photo albums to pull out this photo from the day - 7.5 years ago - when Mrs. TBF left for Switzerland. I stayed behind (with the pets) to finish working, sell the house, etc. At one point, we walked into our old bedroom and King was relaxing in one of Mrs. TBF's suitcases. Apparently, he didn't want to wait to head to Switzerland for his twilight years (that never seem to end!).

We learned from that experience; we no longer leave open suitcases on the floor. I guess another thing I like about Chicago is walking around wearing clothes that don't have cat hair on 'em.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nice And Calm...

Very, VERY calm!

Don't say I didn't warn you.

"Fed cuts rates 75 basis points in emergency move...biggest single cut since October 1984..."

"Bear market looms..."

"U.S. on the verge of recession."

"Tokyo falls 6%, Hong Kong 9% as rout continues..."

"Appreciable downside risks to growth remain..."

"Dow Jones opens down by more than 460 points..."

I think I'll go feed King...

...and then take a nap.

Almost Fiddy!

I noticed on my calendar that today is our sister-in-law's birthday. This picture was taken last year when we were in Chicago and she wasn't quite as close to "fiddy" as she is today.

We watched the Bears win the NFC Championship, and my s-i-l was a regular reader of The Big Finn's Big Blog.

What a difference a year makes.

Less Than A Year To Go...

Mrs. TBF moved to Switzerland in July, 2000.

I joined her on October 6, 2000.

One month later, GBII was elected(?).

We've been saying for some time now that our goal is to live outside the U.S. for the entire Bush presidency.

Unless something unexpected happens, we'll be living here for AT LEAST this much longer; realizing our goal.

I guess I should try to think of something positive to say...






He reduced the amount of U.S. taxes Mrs. TBF and I owed over the past seven years.



Monday, January 21, 2008

U.S. Shopping List...

We will be leaving for Chicago this coming Saturday. It's been four months since I was last there, and I'm really looking forward to going back.

I need a Chicago fix at least three times per year in order to maintain my sanity.

This trip will be a little different from past trips because I'll actually interrupt the Chicago feedbag and visiting of family and friends by taking a quick trip down to my parents' winter-home in Florida. Yes, the packing list will be complicated slightly because I'll have to throw in a pair of shorts, a couple of light shirts, a bathing suit, and some flip-flops along with the arctic-cold survival gear that's required in Chicago at this time of year, but I think I'll manage - somehow.

Of course, we'll also bring along a couple of extra suitcases so that we can haul some stuff back to Switzerland. Not much stuff, mind you, but a few of the things that we find that we can't live without. For example:

binder clips - hard to find here, and one costs the same as about fifty cost in Chicago. These are needed for maintaining my extremely anal-retentive filing system.

Crest toothpaste
- not sold here, and it's one of the few must-have things I always bring back from the U.S.

Sweet 'N Low - not sold here, and I like it because no other sweetener makes my coffee as sweet as Sweet 'N Low. Also, the sweetener here is called Assugrin, and it always makes me think of "ass surgeon" when I see it, and that definitely lessens my coffee drinking enjoyment.

Eucerin - I need my big tub of Eucerin hand lotion. I glob it on my hands right before I go to bed, put on my cotton sleeping gloves, and in the morning I have soft hands that adequately represent my lifestyle completely devoid of hard physical labor.

Vitamin E (400 I.U.) and Vitamin C (500 mg) - I can buy vitamins here, but they are ridiculously expensive. Seriously, a jug from Costo containing 500 tablets costs about the same as a container containing 30 costs here.

Target multi-symptom, night time, cold/flu relief (cherry flavor)
- I look forward to colds (have one right now...YES!) just so I can drink this stuff. Just two tablespoons (ok, maybe a little bit more) before going to bed puts me into a coma for hours. Plus, the stuff just tastes so damn good! Mrs. TBF thinks I'm addicted. However, I'm not. tongue is not unusually red!

Shake 'n' Bake - I've never brought this back from the U.S. before, but I've just been craving some Shake 'n' Bake lately. Do they still sell the stuff?

Aveda hair care products - There is a new Aveda store in Basel (stopped by there with Mrs. TBF for the first time this weekend to check it out), but the products Mrs. TBF uses (Be Curly and Sap Moss...whatever the hell that is) are more than double the price of the same products in the U.S. However, I did notice that the "Pure Male Lunch Break" (facial and manicure) was fairly reasonably priced at our local spa, so maybe I'll have to head in there for a little "maintenance" in the not-too-distant future.

Ban deodorant - After years of listening to my mom tell us that Ban is the greatest deodorant ever created, Mrs. TBF finally decided to try it a few years back, and...she now agrees. Ban is now a permanent fixture on the U.S. Shopping List. My deodorant crystal continues to serve me well, so no deodorant for me.

Oh....and I almost forgot!

Mrs. TBF also wants an iPod touch, and I'm gonna buy me a new MacBook Pro.

Who knows? Now that house prices are falling in the U.S. (down 5% from last year and expected, by some "experts" to go down as much as 20%!) and the value of the dollar keeps dropping, maybe we'll buy a house too! Nahhh, just kidding! But I did check this past weekend, and one Swiss franc was worth 91 cents. When we moved here in 2000, the Swiss franc was worth only 57 cents - a difference of 60%.

Hmmmm...maybe we will buy a house.

Now...where's that big jar of loose change?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Flashback: Box Of Random Photos Edition...

I rediscovered a box of random photos this week. Actually, I'm not really sure why these photos aren't in one of our many photo albums, but...whatever. Suddenly, while looking through the photos, it suddenly dawned on me that I was in possession of a treasure-trove of Friday Flashback material.

How lucky!

This past week was a "car" week for me. First, I had to book a Mobility car for only the second time since we sold our car three months ago in order to bring King to the vet. Then, the next day we received a letter from our insurance company regarding the refund of our car insurance for the period from October 15 - December 31st. And last but not least - I finally canceled our parking spot contract.

And why did I wait three months to finally cancel our parking spot, you ask?

Here's the reason why: LAZINESS!!!

First of all, let me say that we have to give three months' notice in order to cancel our parking spot (that's Switzerland for you!). Seeing that we sold the car right before going to Japan, I couldn't really be bothered with writing a short letter in German and sending it to our landlord, so I just put it off until November. Then November came around before I knew it and I came up with the excuse that we would just keep the parking spot during the cold winter months so that our friends could park in our building rather than having to park in the street when coming to visit us. Although it appears like I was being a good friend, the truth of the matter is that I was just being lazy, and didn't feel like spending the five minutes to type a short letter in German.

You see how little things become BIG things when one doesn't work?

After returning from Paris on Christmas Day, I decided to finally take the bull by the horns and I sat down and spent the five minutes typing the letter. Unfortunately, it was at this point that I also looked our parking contract over and realized that one of the first lines states that we are prohibited from canceling the contract during the month of December (rules...RULES!!!!). So, I put it off until January...

Finally, this week, I brought the letter to the landlord's office. Yes, I could have mailed it, but as punishment for my laziness I decided that I would go in person and hand deliver the stinkin' thing. And, that's what I did.

"Cancel parking contract" has now been crossed off of my (very short) Things To Do list. After April 30th, friends, you're all going to be parking in the street!

How fitting then that I discovered this picture in the box of random photos. I'm not really sure when it was taken - maybe 2001 or 2002. Perry and Renee (the bro- and sis-in-law) had been in Basel for a visit, but it was time to head back to Chicago and the suitcases were packed in the back of the old Jeep waiting for all to be chauffeured back to Zürich Airport.

Right before leaving, they asked Mrs. TBF to snap a photo of them posing in front of the Jeep looking all sad about the fact that their vacation was nearing its end. Naturally, recognizing the potential for photographic gold when I saw it (sorry,'s instinct and it can't be taught), I jumped into the photo a split second before the shutter clicked after mustering up my best look of euphoria about the fact that they were (finally) leaving!

I guess it's not too far off the look I had when I sold the Jeep.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Pot Calling The Kettle Black...

Before this morning it had been 53 days since I had last driven a car.

I had to bring King to the vet this morning for a follow-up blood test to make sure that he's getting the right amount of thyroid medication. The last time I drove was the previous time I brought him to the vet - November 23rd.

After the last vet visit, Mrs. TBF told me that she thought I should book the Mobility car every other week, or so, so that my driving doesn't "...get rusty."

Yes, I, I'm CERTAIN those were her exact words.

"Wait. You mean, like, to practice driving?" was my startled response. I pretty much just agreed with her, glazed over, and then...proceeded to completely dismiss her advice as something one would say to a retarded person.

I'm happy to report that the fifteen kilometers of driving I did this morning went completely without incident. No accidents and no King pooping in his crate fiascoes like last time. Not even anything remotely resembling a close call.

I got to thinking yesterday about the not-getting-rusty comment, and the more I thought about it...the more annoyed I became. No, I didn't make a big deal about it, but I did manage to very casually drop in a "...when was the last time YOU drove a car?" during dinner last night, and it turns out that Mrs. TBF hasn't driven a car since she drove a rental car during a business trip back in November; something like 103 days ago!!! And no, I made no "rusty" comments of my own - although I'm sure I could have come up with a real zinger.

But hey, no worries, Mrs. TBF. I'm minutes away from booking a rental car for when we're in Chicago in a couple of weeks so that I can get in some driving practice. Wouldn't want to get rusty, now would I?


The nerve of some people!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Caught My Eye...

Mrs. TBF and I were out for a walk about a week ago when we came across this nameplate on a parking spot outside an office building.

Sure it's childish humor, but I don't care. I found the name so funny (so did Mrs. TBF) that when we went for a walk yesterday afternoon I insisted on going the same route as one week earlier so that I could bring the camera along and snap a picture to share with you all.

Will I ever grow up?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hooters...And Beavers...And Bears...

...oh my!

One of the most common ways that people find my blog is by doing a search for "Weight Watchers points for Hooters wings" or something of that sort. I'm not totally sure why, but I'm guessing that I've written about Weight Watchers and Hooters on at least a few occasions. Last night, for some reason, I was in a people-helping-people mood, so I whipped out the old Weight Watchers Complete Food Companion to see if I could help out these so-called dieters who are unable to come to grips with reality by continuing to believe that Hooters wings can be part of a weight loss program.

I couldn't find Hooters wings (no big surprise there), but I did manage to find Buffalo wings cooked, 3 (4.5 ounces) coming in at a whopping 9 points!!! Seeing that Hooters wings are absolutely LOADED with butter and sugar (just do a Google search for "Hooters wings secret recipe"), I'm going to say that three Hooters wings come in at 10 points. There you have it, people. According to TBF:


For those of you who have never followed the Weight Watchers diet, let me try to put things into perspective...

I am 6'5" tall, and I weigh about 215 lbs. (about 98 kilos). During the week, I count all our points (I don't count points during the weekend) and I stick to 25 points per day. That means that three Hooters wings would equal more than one-third of my total daily food consumption from Monday to Friday. YIKES!! What's worse is that I remember going to Hooters with two co-workers back in the 90s, and the three of us would split a tray of fifty wings. Usually there would only be about five wings leftover, so that means that I probably ate at least 15 wings in one sitting - 50 points; two days worth of caloric intake for me these days. DOUBLE YIKES!!!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Forget about eating Hooters wings when you're trying to lose weight on the Weight Watchers diet. You know you can't just eat three of those things, so you're better off just staying away from the place until you've reached your weight loss goal.


While I was looking up Buffalo wings, I did notice two pages earlier that Weight Watchers has a listing for Beaver, cooked 1 oz.......1 point.



Then I noticed on the same page that they have a listing for Bear, cooked 1 oz......1 point. That didn't freak me out as much because I know people who hunt bear and eat the meat.



Just out of curiosity, I then looked up, and found, Goat, cooked 1 oz.....1 point, and Horse, cooked 1 oz......1 point.

Strangely enough, there was no listing for donkey. Oh, my mistake...I'd have to look in the French edition of the book to find that one.

So there you have it folks, skip the Hooters wings and dig into the bear, goat, horse, and...beaver.



Monday, January 07, 2008


The Christmas season is officially over!!!

No more decorations!!! No more Christmas music!!! Stop buying wooden toys and ornaments that you think are better than non-wooden toys that...were made in China!!! Immediately!!!

Yesterday was Epiphany (a.k.a Three Kings Day). Do you know how I know? I asked Mrs. TBF, of course.

TBF: (yesterday) Isn't today the last day to turn on the Christmas lights? What's it called?

Mrs. TBF: Three Kings Day!

TBF: Oh.

As you can probably tell, I'm not the most religious person in world by any means, so I had to rely on Mrs. TBF for the info. Her mom will be happy to know that all those years of private Catholic education didn't go to waste. I even went so far as to Google "Three Kings Day" because I thought I remembered that it was called something else. Ah yes...Epiphany!

Now I know!

We actually took down the Christmas tree on New Year's Day. It was cut into small pieces and put into our rooftop storage room where it is waiting to be burned in the rooftop fireplace as soon as the weather gets a little better. Also on New Year's Day, we took down all the Christmas decorations and boxed them up. All the Christmas decorations, that is, but one. Yes, we left up our little Christmas tree light that hangs on one of our windows so that we could have just the tiniest bit of Christmas cheer until Three Kings Day.

Yesterday: Three Kings Day. The Christmas tree light was shining in all its glory.

Today: the little Christmas tree light is in its box where it will be until late-November.

Yes, Christmas is officially over. However, I'll leave you with one more Christmas image that will, hopefully, carry you through until Christmas 2008...

King was so inspired by the little Christmas tree light, that he decided to create his own little version. His canvas: the litter box. His medium: cat pee.

Behold, the cat pee Christmas tree.

Let me just say....before you decide to make the pilgrimage to our apartment to view the sacred cat pee Christmas tree...

Stay at home! I already threw it out!

Before I Officially Close The Christmas Season...

...let me post a few more pictures from Paris.

Here's the "mandatory" Eiffel Tower picture I took at sunset while we were on the big ferris wheel that's erected every year (I think) at Christmas time. Us going on the ferris wheel is a classic example of the kind of thing we do when we wander around Paris with no plan whatsoever.

we walk...

we point...

we go!

A nice self-portrait taken in the lounge of our hotel while enjoying a cocktail before going out for dinner. Please note the placement of the gin and tonic (with a grapefruit peel...recommended!) that conveniently hides my expanding Christmas love handle.

On the way back from dinner, I scoffed at danger by plopping my camera on top of a short traffic signal in the middle of the Champs-Élysées, set the timer, and...voila! La Défense.

Since it was Christmastime, we thought we should try to hit at least a couple of Christmas markets. We read that there was one at La Défense, so we jumped on the Metro at George V and jumped off a few stops later. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas markets - I kind of view them as one step above flea markets (which I despise) - but I figured that maybe I'd be able to land something weird like Christmas ornaments made out of French fries, a stocking hat made to look like a baguette, or something else of that ilk, so off we went. And, the verdict?

The La Défense Christmas market has to be the worst Christmas market I've ever seen. Yes, as I said, I don't really like Christmas markets, but I have been to quite a few. So, you can feel confident that I'm speaking from experience. Yes, the food appeared to be very good. Unfortunately, we couldn't eat any because we were so full from breakfast. No, the food wasn't the problem. The problem was that...

...the market appeared to not be selling anything that pertained to Christmas!!!

I think I saw maybe two stands out of 100 selling Christmas ornaments. The other stands just sold the craziest stuff. For example: if you were in the market for a samurai sword, then you were in the right place. Need a hookah pipe? No problem...there were many styles to choose from.

We did manage to buy a couple of wooden games (i.e. Jenga), because giving toys made of wood as gifts seems to be de rigueur these days for reasons I have yet to figure out, but that was about it. Fortunately, the weather was beautiful, so just walking around in the bright sunshine was enjoyable enough in itself. Plus, the fact that the market was so bad meant that we didn't need to hang around for more than 45 minutes before heading off to do bigger and better things like...

...a Seine river cruise. Finally!!!

Friday, January 04, 2008


Here's what I'm listening to these days:

Radiohead: In Rainbows

This is Radiohead's seventh album which now qualifies them (must have at least seven studio for each day) for an artist/group whose catalog I would want to have along with me if I just happened to be stranded on a desert island...with electricity (or at least a solar panel) so I could charge up the iPod. Rush and Yes are two other obvious choices for me, but I'm having trouble picking the other two to round out my top five. Pink Floyd? Genesis? U2? Kate Bush? Led Zeppelin?

Who would you choose for your top five?

Kate Nash: "Made of Bricks"

For whatever reason, this album was released in the U.K. and Canada this past August, but it won't be released in the U.S. until next week. I like her quirkiness and her London accent, but she probably won't be popular in the U.S. due to...her quirkiness and London accent.


Go to iTunes when it's released next week and give it a listen. Oh, and tell Steve Jobs I said hello!

A Thing Of The Past...

There's a new smoking ban in France. Yes, believe it or not, France is on the road to becoming smoke-free.

I don't smoke cigarettes - although I do puff on the occasional cigar (sorry, dad!) - but I'm kind of sad that the smoke-filled Parisian cafe looks to be a thing of the past.

I'm guessing that a big chunk of French people are going to be overweight in five years. But least they'll have clean lungs...and our clothes - and Mrs. TBF's hair - won't smell like smoke.


On second thought, I'll just look at the picture from time to time.

Fat And Happy...

Happy New Year, everybody!!!

After a self-imposed two-week blogging hiatus (hands were too busy picking up forks, knives, and glasses), I'm ready to get back into the blogging saddle once again.

As we expected, Paris at Christmas was great. We ate a lot of great food (too much), walked for mile upon mile in bright sunshine trying to burn off the calories, and left stores with big smiles on our faces after giving the old credit cards a workout.

We're both a little heavier (not too bad) than we were a couple of weeks ago, but we're happy...VERY happy.

...not a bad way to start off 2008.