Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Warm Thoughts...

I absolutely froze my butt off today. It wasn't really super cold outside, but it was moderately cold AND damp. I'm 100% Finnish, I was born in Canada, and I grew up in Chicago! I can't handle 45˚F and damp anymore? What da heck is da matter wit' me?

Sorry about that...King must've taken over my body for a couple of seconds.

It's time to fight the cold, damp Basel weather with a little mind over matter. Here are a few pictures of me and my folks taken last week in warm (80˚F), sunny Florida.

Separated At Birth?

The masses have spoken! Here are the most likely candidates (other than Alexander McQueen) for people roaming the planet who may be my separated-at-birth twin brother.

Vincent D'Onofrio as Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket
Back in the mid-90s, I was actually once asked by a waitress in a restaurant if I was "the guy from Full Metal Jacket." I guess I can see the resemblance, but I'm guessing that Mrs. TBF should really be the judge since she's the one who sees me in this pose (minus the assault rifle) pretty much every morning. Sorry...long-time married couple thing!

Ainsley Harriott - British celebrity chef
Ainsley Harriott is, or at least used to be (haven't seen him for a while), a pretty big star on the UK Food Network. Back in the late 90s, I worked with this American guy named John who had a British wife and had lived in the England for many years. One day, out of the blue, he said to me: "You know what? You remind me EXACTLY of this British TV chef named Ainsley Harriott. He's a dead ringer for you. He's big and he shaves his head. He's exactly like you. Ummmm....except he's black."

Christian Gross - coach of the FC Basel professional soccer team
What are the odds that I would resemble (down to the bulging vein I get in my temple when I drink wine) the head coach of Basel's soccer team? One time, several years back, we went out to dinner with some friends (Christian and Nimashini) of ours. It just so happened that FC Basel had won the Swiss League Championship - or whatever it's called (I'm not a big soccer fan) - earlier that day. Christian - who's taller than I am - and I walked into the restaurant, and suddenly we heard everyone start yelling "Christian Gross!!!" I figured that they were calling out to Christian because he was Christian AND gross.

TBF: Do you know those guys?
Christian: No.
TBF: Why are they yelling at you?
Christian: I...have no...idea.

I figured out about a year later that they were really yelling at me. I should have tried for some free drinks. Opportunity lost!

And...the perennial favorite:

Mr. Clean. I've been called Maestro Lindo in Italy, Meister Proper in Germany, and Monsieur Propre in France. Oddly enough, nobody has ever called me Mr. Clean in America. Maybe it'll happen when I get older and my eyebrows turn white.

Are there any others out there?

Let me know.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hey...Remember me????

I know, I know...I haven't blogged in a long time. And, I also haven't been very active in reading, commenting or really all things "blog". But, I am trying to turn over a new leaf. TBF has been on my case now for a long time about it, so today I decided that there's no time like the present, so here I am again. The big question for me is do I have anything that interesting, amusing, intelligent or otherwise compelling to say??? Well, at the moment I must admit that I really don't. But, maybe you do, so I'm going to pose a question. But first, a prelude to the question....

As you've read, TBF and I were back in Chicago for a few days together. At the end of one of my biz trips I flew to Chicago to meet him and spend the weekend visiting family and friends...frantically moving from one place to another to see as many people as possible in a short time. Luckily, things worked out pretty well and we got to see some people that we weren't able to hook up with last August. I always end up feeling bit stressed though and I would hate for people to feel as though we rushed through the visit. One evening we had what I would call a pretty relaxed dinner with Jo Mama. It was relaxed in that she didn't protest to drinking a glass of wine, having soup and a burger, and even a few spoonfuls of our shared dessert. The restaurant wasn't crowded and I generally didn't feel we were rushed out the door to turn a table which is usually the case on a Friday night. We also had a nice conversation which was not littered with angst or guilt over anything...not an easy thing for Jo Mama who worries about EVERYTHING! When we left Jo Mama's house to go to the restaurant, TBF announced with confidence that he was looking forward to his (our) mega-million dollar lottery winnings, but first we needed to remind him to buy some Lotto tickets. On the way to dinner we forgot to buy the winning ticket, but on the way home Jo Mama and I made sure that he bought the winning ticket.

Well, as you may have guessed, we did not win the Lotto. Our spread of numbers was absolutely pathetic. But, the nice thing about the Lotto is that it always gets you thinking. If you didn't think there was a chance to win you wouldn't buy a ticket, right? I honestly believe that every single person who buys a ticket, even if it's just one ticket believes that he or she can and will win. Who doesn't eagerly review the winning numbers against their own ticket(s) with anticipation? And who doesn't think about what they would do if they won...the big one???

So, prelude over. TBF and I are no different. We've had the conversation about what we'd do if we won. We've talked about our "magic number" that we'd need for me to join him in retirement. We've discussed buying a home, or maybe two. We've talked about our investment strategy. So, now the questions....

1. What's your magic number - what size lottery would you need to win to feel you could retire?
2. What's the first thing you'd buy?
3. Would you take a lump sum or an annual annuity, and why?


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mistaken Identity...

We're back.

I flew to Chicago nearly two weeks ago. After spending a few days in Chicago, I flew down to Palm Beach International to spend a few days with my folks in the Florida warmth and sunshine. Then, I flew back to Chicago, met up with Mrs. TBF, spent a couple of quick days visiting family and friends, and then we flew back together to Basel.

As we were getting off the plane in Basel, a British woman who was standing behind me said to me:

"Excuse me... I'm sure you get this all the time, but are you a designer?"

I had to admit that I'd never been asked that question before in my life, so I just had to find out who she thought I was.

It turns out that she thought I was Alexander McQueen.

I don't think I look anything like him, but...whatever. Maybe I'll grow a mustache and chin-beard and try to get some free meals at London restaurants.

I was once asked (when we were on our way back from Japan a couple of years ago) in the BA lounge at Heathrow by an American woman: "Did you used to play basketball?" to which I replied, "Why yes, I did." I'm sure she thought I used to be a professional basketball player, but I did, in fact, play basketball when I was a kid, so I didn't feel like I was lying. Ok, I'm tall. Yes, I can understand if somebody would think that I used to be a basketball player, but...

A designer?

I guess each one of us has a "separated at birth" twin somewhere in the world.

Who do people say you look like?

I slept for four hours yesterday afternoon, and then like a rock for nearly eight hours last night. Give me a couple of days to get back on track, and maybe I'll find, and post, a couple of photos from my trip to the U.S.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A Farewell To King: ?/?/1988 - 2/2/2009

King passed away quietly this morning. He was part of our household for 18 years, 2 months, and 23 days. We will, and already do, miss him greatly.

It was on a sunny afternoon on November 10, 1990 that we walked into the "cat room" of a local animal shelter in Palatine, Illinois. I saw a ray of sun beaming in through the window directly onto a sleeping King, and I said: "THAT'S my cat!"

We adopted another cat (Binky) along with King that day, but I'll always consider King to be our first pet because I decided at first glance that we'd take him home that day. I walked over to him, gave a gentle stroke on the head, he opened his eyes, meowed at me, and went back to sleep. SOLD!

In retrospect, I think he may have actually chosen us.

We added yet another cat (Zane) and a dog (Dominique) the year after adopting King and Binky. So, at one point, we had a house full of pets. Binky was the first to go to the great scratching post in the sky. Then, Zane followed in 2000 shortly before our move to Switzerland. Nearly four years ago, Dominique "ripped out our hearts" when we had to put her to sleep after her battle with chronic kidney failure.

It was also chronic kidney failure that would eventually cause King's demise.

A blood test from a couple of years ago confirmed that he was in the early stages of renal failure. We began noticing him drinking, and using the litter box, a lot. One of the many things to King's credit was that he ALWAYS used the litter box (at least when he wasn't in the rooftop garden). A couple of months ago, I began noticing blood in his urine. Last week, for the first time ever, he had an accident on the duvet on our bed. The vet decided to try antibiotics just in case it was just a bladder infection.

It wasn't.

This past Friday night, we came home and found a puddle of bloody urine in the bathroom right where King often slept on the heated tiles.

We knew it was time.

I brought King to Dr. "Boozer's" office this morning for the last time. I gently stroked his head - just like I did for the first time 6,659 days ago - King closed his eyes and...went to sleep.

It's hard to believe that Mrs. TBF and I are now empty-nesters. It's just the two of us in the house for the first time since late-1990. A new chapter has begun.

Boy...it sure is quite around here.