Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What About My Needs?

Why is it that Mrs. TBF gets what SHE wants - multiple bathing suits - which results in me having to sit for what seemed like hours and hours at Everything But The Water, but...

I couldn't get an incredibly practical, little ole BBQ grill with a built-in refrigerator from Costco.

Huh??? HUH????

I mean, you don't NEED a bathing suit - you can swim naked, but...

YA GOTTA EAT!!! Right?


And don't even try to pull that airline baggage limit malarkey on me. I'm just not having any of it!

What We Did This Summer...

We've been on vacation for ten days now. We flew to Chicago on the 19th, then we flew to Norfolk, VA on the morning of the 20th, met up with some friends at the airport (btw...a very nice airport y'all have there in Norf-uck!) and then drove from Norfolk to Rodanthe, NC where we spent a week enjoying an Outer Banks vacation in a ginormous beach house with NINETEEN other people - a total of 11 adults and 10 kids!!!

Outer Banks vacation keywords: sun, sand, hot, humid, surfing, beer, wine, SPF 30 sunscreen, BBQ, Dairy Queen, Food Lion, and smuggled Cuban cigars (sorry, Dad!).

We flew back to Chicago this past Sunday, and now we're enjoying doing stupid things like going to Costco and being amazed by coolers that will hold 101 cans of beer AND keep ice up to 5 days at 90˚F. OR...if that's not enough fun for ya...picking up gigantic slabs of beef, and wondering how much more they'd cost in Switzerland.

Do we know how to have fun, or what?

Of course, we have our usual array of dental appointments (still no need for dentures or glasses...at the age of nearly 46!) and such, but most of the week will be spent wandering around aimlessly and just blending in anonymously as locals.

Oh...and the quote of the day comes from Mrs. TBF as we were walking around a Target store picking up a few odds and ends:

TBF: Ya wanna walk around s'more and look for somethin' else we might need?

Mrs. TBF: NO! I HATE this place! It's got a bad vibe!

I guess we'll just have to stick to Costco from now on.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


...for all you Rush fans out there.

My Rolling Stone magazine arrived yesterday in the mail. I leafed through it really quickly and I saw that it had a big feature article on Rush. I had already decided that I was going to save the issue for the long plane ride to Chicago this Saturday, so it's taking all the willpower I have not to open up the magazine and read the article before this Saturday. ABSOLUTE TORTURE!!!

Now, for the first time in over thirty years, Rush has performed live on American television. Thanks to Matt for the Colbert Report tip!

Rush belongs in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mug Shot

Our C Permits that allow "us" to live and work in Switzerland expire in a month.

Has it been three years already? Wow!

When we had B Permits, Mrs. TBF's company had to arrange for them to be renewed. Now that we are "big-time" C Permit holders - we're on our own.

The problem was: I didn't really know how to go about getting our permits renewed.

Mrs. TBF told me that I should just go to the Gemeindehaus - kind of like a town hall - and ask them. I snorted back something to the effect of: "If you think that's so easy, why don't YOU do it?" After winning the short debate that ensued (I basically refused to do it!), Mrs. TBF became convinced that my suggestion was a winner; having one of the Swiss administrative assistants at her office call the Gemeindehaus to find out what we need to do instead of me standing at the Gemeindehaus, speaking broken German, sweating through my shirt, and looking like a dork with my Daumen herauf mein Arschloch.

Besides...what choice did she have? I just REFUSED to do it! MWAHH-ha-HAAAAAAAAAAAAA! I'm going to have to try that one again sometime!


Swiss assistant called...

She squoli squonked with the Gemeinde person, AND...

All we have to do is go to the Gemeindehaus and hand in our current C Permits. We also need a couple of current passport photos and we have to pay an unknown amount of money. After a couple of weeks, we'll receive our new permits in the mail. PLUS...and this is the best part...the assistant said that Mrs. TBF can expense the cost of her C Permit to the company.

HA! We wouldn't have found THAT out if I hadn't held my breath and folded my arms across my chest until you agreed to have the assistant call for us. See?


Yup, I was feeling pretty smug about the whole thing until today when I went to the SECOND passport photo booth (first one ate my money and didn't give me any photos) and got these AWFUL photos which will be on my C Permit for the NEXT...THREE...YEARS! Unless, of course, we move back to the U.S. before the three years are up when I'm assuming we'd have to hand our permits back in to the authorities. Now THAT'S incentive to move!

Or, I guess I could just go and have new pictures taken.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Gettin' Old Is A Bitch!

Especially if you live in an English-speaking country!

I've been meaning to write about this for some time now. In fact, every time I barbecue something I think to myself: "Gotta blog about this one of these days!" (See? Told ya!)


"One of these days" is...TODAY!

My Weber grill has warnings prominently displayed in ten different languages. But for whatever reason, the good people at Weber feel it's necessary ONLY IN ENGLISH to warn us to "...keep young children and the elderly away." This was pointed out to me a couple of years ago by a Belgian colleague of Mrs. TBF's who speaks English, Dutch, French, and German, with a smattering of Italian and Spanish. I proudly added my two cents worth by confirming that the Finnish translation - Pidä lapset loitolla! - also did not mention the elderly. However, I was also quick to point out that Finnish was the only language where the good people at Weber deemed it necessary to include an exclamation point!

What's up with THAT?

I'm guessing it was probably brought up during a brainstorming session at Weber HQ that the Finns - being a stubborn people - would just ignore the warning, so the folks at Weber added the exclamation point to show the Finns that they meant business. Or, at least that's my theory.

And all this talk about the elderly reminds me of another thing I've been thinking about...

When is a person "officially" elderly? My dad is in his early-70s, and he told me the magic number is 80. He also told me that when he turns 80, he's going to tell me it's 90. It's not really that important for me to know when we're here, but we're leaving for America this Saturday, I plan on doing some grilling while I'm there, and I want to know before I go so I can...

...avoid getting my ass sued by some "elderly" American person.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wine A Little...

...you'll feel better!

Here's an FYI from TBF for TGIF.

Have a great weekend!

Thanks For NOTHING!

I checked the weather report yesterday morning, and the forecast called for nothing but sunshine with a ZERO percent chance of rain for yesterday and today; perfect BBQ weather!

Early this morning, I went to the store and picked up some scallops for the grill along with other groceries. After returning home, I went upstairs and watered the entire garden because it was hot and dry. Then, at lunchtime, I went and watered our friends' (who are out of town) garden. Deciding to enjoy the nice weather, I walked the mile or so home.

That was at 2:00 p.m.

Right now...

...it is absolutely POURING rain outside!

I'm talking an end-of-the-world type of thunderstorm.

Basel weather forecasters are USELESS!!!!!

Updated at 4:45 p.m.:

The storm is over. Our rooftop garden suffered no casualties. A tree fell into the street within view from our apartment, and the competent Swiss authorities were clearing it away with minutes with their chainsaws. I'm happy to report that the sun is shining as I type, and all appears to be well here in Basel.

For now.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Couch Potato...

I invented a new sleeping medication yesterday. Since I've already filed for the international patents, I guess there's no harm in sharing the (until now) secret formula.

First, eat two gigantic pieces of Mrs. TBF's ice cream cake with the Oreo cookie crumb crust. Then, lie down on the sofa and turn on the Wimbledon finals.

At some point, Mrs. TBF gave me the Singapore Airlines flight attendant wake-up (gently rubbing the top of my hand) and informed me that I had been sleeping FOR THREE HOURS!!! I figured that I must have missed the entire tennis match, but no such luck. Two rain delays meant that I actually ended up seeing a good chunk of the final.

All in all, I have to say that watching tennis on TV isn't the most exciting thing in the world, but it's definitely not the worst either; definitely more entertaining than watching soccer. Although, sometimes tennis can kind of drag on...and on...and on.

By the way...

I'm happy to report that the afternoon nap didn't affect my nighttime sleep one bit. Nope! I slept like a baby for eight hours straight.

Apparently my new sleeping medication lasts for a little longer than I had intended. Maybe I'll have to tweak it a bit.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th Of July!

Roughly translated:

Most Americans love their native country. Nevertheless, on the 4th of July, they are particularly patriotic and get their flags from their basements. 232 years ago today, the 2nd Continental Congress of the 13 British Colonies in North America met. They adopted the Declaration of Independence of the United States. The main author was Thomas Jefferson, who later became the 3rd President of the USA.

Plus, dudes...it's, like, the day we all began speaking American instead of English. Have a nice barbecue, drink a few cold beverages, and enjoy the fireworks.

God bless America!

Friday Flashback: First Grilled Turkey!

All this talk about turkey during the last week or so reminded me that we have a picture of the first time I ever grilled a turkey on the Weber. At least I THINK it was the first time. The first time may have been a year earlier, but suffice it to say that it was ONE OF the first times I ever grilled a turkey on the Weber.

That's good enough, right?

These photos were taken by Mrs. TBF at Thanksgiving in 1989. Don't I look cool in my acid-washed jeans and cowboy boots? And how about the hood of Mrs. TBF's parents' 1979 Lincoln Continental. God, that thing was a boat! The hood must've been ten feet long!!

As you can see, we had a white Thanksgiving that year, and I remember freezing my butt off when I went outside to check on the coals. But cold be damned! Eleven minutes per pound for the turkey! Summer or winter...it makes no difference!

Like a Swiss...freakin'...watch!

Even though I had probably drooled onto the bird while I was carving it, AND that I was balding so fast at that point that each of us probably had some of my hair in every forkful, everybody raved about it. In fact, Mrs. TBF's dad said it was the best turkey he had ever had in his life.

You know what? I'm in the mood for more turkey. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law don't know it yet, but I'm really looking forward to the deep-fried turkey that they'll be making for us in a few weeks while we're in Chicago. Nudge, nudge...wink, wink!

Can't wait!

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I was riding the bus to the grocery store in town today, and a man got on the bus a couple of stops after I got on. It was warm today, and he was wearing hiking boots, long pants, a t-shirt under a long-sleeved shirt, a safari vest (What's with these safari vests, anyway?), dark-tinted glass, a scowl, and a black baseball cap. I looked him over, and I immediately sensed...COP! Yes...YES! He was definitely a tram/bus inspector.

He was a sneaky one. He just sat there for a few stops, and then he stood up, announced that he was Polizei ( I KNEW IT!), and asked me for my bus ticket. I showed him my annual pass and photo I.D., and then he moved on through the bus, one person at a time, until he came across a Schwarz Fahrer...who hadn't bought a ticket for his dog (they ride half-fare). That's what they call people here who ride the public transportation without tickets - "black riders".

My annual bus/tram pass costs CHF 670. That means that I used just over 335 francs of it without ever being inspected. The fine, if you're caught by one of the random inspectors, is...get this...80 or 100 francs (not sure) if you pay immediately on the bus/tram, and an additional 20 francs if you don't have enough money on you and they have to send you an invoice. Really! I'm not joking! They actually give you a discount for paying on the spot!

Being an honest, law-abiding foreigner, I would never dream of trying to cheat the system. Sure, I'd probably come out ahead if I did because I've never been inspected more than 3-4 times in a year. If you add it up, I'd only be out of pocket about 300 - 400 francs instead of 670. But it's just not worth it to me. Why?


That's what these guys do. They take the "black rider's" I.D., start writing the ticket, and then proceed to lecture him/her in front of the other passengers about why what they are doing is wrong, and why they shouldn't do it.

I'm sorry, but I just don't know how to say, "...spare me the lecture, 'cuz TBF ain't listenin'!" in Swiss-German (or even in high-German, for that matter). More importantly, I also don't know an attorney here who would be able to bail me out of jail. Although, I've always contended that...Swiss jails can't be that bad.

I mean, Swiss jails are probably clean and safe, right? Swiss men are, for the most part, pretty tiny, so I wouldn't have to worry about picking up the soap in the shower. As a matter of fact, I'd probably be the biggest bad-ass in the entire Swiss prison system. I'm sure the food is pretty decent, so three decent hots and a cot...



Ok...I'll just keep buying the annual pass. I'm going to shut up now.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It Was Worth The Embarrassment...

...of being seen in public pulling Mrs. TBF's "granny" cart.

Our weekly copy of the Coop Zeitung arrived in our mailbox yesterday, and, as I normally do, I gave it a thorough going-over to see if anything good was on Aktion for the week. Lo and behold, two things that are commonly consumed in our household jumped right off the pages and onto the shopping list that is constantly updated in the inner sanctum of my brain.

1664 - my beer of choice: an enticing 35% off.

Persil laundry detergent: a whopping 40% off!

This morning, after seeing-off Mrs. TBF at the tram stop, I determinedly made my way to the neighborhood Coop (public ridicule be damned!) and loaded down Granny with three 12-packs of 1664 and two bottles of Persil.

Total savings? 42.15!

Jeez! That's almost like getting two 12-packs of 1664 for free.




Where's granny?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Nature's Palette...

We've been having some really nice sunsets lately. The sunset earlier this evening had some very nice shades of orange. Unfortunately, I couldn't get as much color saturation with my little digital camera as I would have liked.

Gonna have to shell-out for a bigger/better camera one of these days!


...for those of you who have been wondering. The fake "natural" garden is coming along quite nicely. If you'll recall, this is how it looked last September when the work was just beginning. And this is how it looks now.

You know, the proper way to maintain a prairie-style garden is to do a controlled burn every year or two in order to simulate the burns caused by lighting strikes that result in prairie regeneration.

Hmmmmm. I wonder if the landlord would go for that.

Happy Canada Day!

My flag is flying?

How about yours?