Monday, March 30, 2009

More Proof That I'm Old!

After Mrs. TBF woke me up from my (extremely short) afternoon nap by texting me from her meeting...

Mrs. TBF: what are u doing now?

TBF: I WAS taking a nap!

I got up (groggily) and noticed a little table with a few magazines on it. In fact, here's what I saw.

And... here's what I chose.

Energy saving? Are you kidding me? What could be more exciting than that?

Somebody, HELP ME!

Not As Planned...

The trip to London was quick...but good. I guess if I had to rate the trip, I'd put it in the "not-quite-as-planned" category. Nothing bad happened, it's just that I ended up not going to Madame Tussauds as planned - and that was one of the things I had really set out to do.

Everything started out OK for my day on my own. I walked out of the hotel into the unexpected sunshine, enjoyed the leisurely 25 minute stroll to Madame Tussauds, and then was confronted with THIS upon arriving. I'm not joking, there had to be 300 people in line waiting to get in. Not being one who enjoys waiting in line, I decided to just wander off...aimlessly. The weather began to change, so I ended up killing some time (while it rained) inside a Selfridges. After browsing for about and hour or so, I ended up at a pub that served up an excellent steak and kidney pie. After lunch, I just went back to the hotel and took a nap.

OK... so what else did we do? When Mrs. TBF wasn't working, we managed (as I said before) to squeeze in a little shopping, and we also met up (at a pub) with Julie of This non-American Life who just happened to be in London at the same time we were. Finally, we also enjoyed a couple of really nice dinners.

The first night, we ate at Marcus Wareing At The Berkeley which we really enjoyed and would recommend. Then, the next night, we ate at Nobu Berkeley Street which had really good food, but we wouldn't recommend. OK...maybe we're getting old, but... we don't like eating in a place where the music is so loud that you have to yell to each other while you're eating dinner. That's for bars, not for restaurants. Also, we showed up on time for our reservation, but our table wasn't ready and they kept us waiting. Sure, it was only for ten minutes, but...!

We're not only old, but we've become Swiss.

OH. MY. GOD!!!!!

We've become old Swiss people!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Off To London...Again!

While I was in Chicago last month, Mrs. TBF told me she had to go to London in March for a meeting and asked if I wanted to "tag along".

"What will I do all day while you're working?" I asked.

"Whatever you want!" was her reply.

We left Basel yesterday afternoon. Much to Mrs. TBF's chagrin, we arrived at the airport about an hour and twenty minutes before our flight. Normally, she's one of those get-to-the-airport-with-minimal-time-to-spare people. I, on the other hand, would gladly get to the airport about three hours before my flight and just sit around relaxing. Mrs. TBF thought our flight was earlier than it was, we had already printed our boarding passes at home, and the long and short of it is that we arrived at the airport waaaaaaayyyy too early for Mrs. TBF's liking. This resulted in us RELAXING in the overly large Swiss lounge: Capacity? Probably about 150 passengers. Total number of people in the lounge? About 15.

After getting settled-in to our hotel, we had just enough time to do a little shopping, stop for a couple of quick pints (Ok...1.5 to .5 split), and then get ready for dinner at a really nice restaurant - probably our best dining experience in London so far.

What will I do all day today? Whatever I want! Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Best Of Times...

David Granger, in the March 2009 issue of Esquire, writes:

...if you have the courage to buck the prevailing mood (and are amoung the 93 percent of us who still have a job) - these are actually damn good times...

Gas is under two bucks [at least in America]. There's never been a better time to buy a new car (half off! 0 percent!) or a new house (depressed prices + 5 percent over thirty years = unprecedented opportunity). Tables are available in the vast majority of excellent restaurants, to eat reduced-price menus... Airports are way less crowded, there are empty seats on flights, and those flights land on time more often. There's momentum afoot in the land to address the problems (infrastructure, education, health care, energy) we've ignored for the last eight years. All in all, it's easier to live a more enjoyable life right now than at any time in recent memory... if we can just convince ourselves to go ahead and do so.

Have I been saying it, or what? No, really, I HAVE been saying this same thing to Mrs. TBF and others. However, David Granger summed it up better than I ever could.

Let's go ahead and enjoy life! it! Who's in?

Keep Going!

The Swiss franc is starting to go up against the U.S. dollar again. That's good news - at least for us. Parity with the dollar will be just fine, thank you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 18, 2009 at 3:24 p.m.

I finally rode the new tram today. Remember... when I mentioned the Tango tram... way back in NOVEMBER???

Why has it taken so long, you ask?

Well, that's because they've been training the tram drivers on the new Tango trams for the past three months. That's right!! THREE MONTHS!!!!!


I first saw one of the new trams probably in December. However, they would just go down the track - taunting us - with a big "L" (as in learner) on the tram marquee instead of the final stop. The tram would have the driver, and two instructors sitting behind the driver. It would stop at our stop, not pick up any passengers, and then just move on to the next stop.

I mean, it's just moving on rails like the old trams, right? How hard can it be to drive one of those things. I mean really... COME ON!!!!!!!

Finally, a few weeks ago, I noticed that there was ONE new Tango car actually picking up passengers, and that was only during certain hours during morning and afternoon rush hour. Nothing like being a bit cautious. Sheesh!

Oh, and incidentally... Mrs. TBF is SEETHING right now. Here's why:

We've had this competition between the two of us regarding who would be the first to ride the Tango. It actually spiraled downward to where we were trash talking each other.

"I'm so going to be riding the Tango while you're in New York," I'd say to her.

"Oh yeah? Well, I'm going to ride it home from work one of these days while you're at home cooking dinner... and I'll call you to let you know that I'm doing it. That's right!"

And so on...

Finally, this afternoon, as I was walking back to the apartment after returning my Mobility car, I looked down the track and noticed that the 15:24 tram was a Tango. It was headin' my way, and... IT DIDN'T HAVE AN "L" ON IT. I didn't really need to go anywhere, but I hopped on anyway. And let me tell you... IT WAS SA-WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!

Roomy...quiet...comfortable. Ahhhhhhhhhh, a real joy.

I rode it for three stops, and then I got off to return home because there were a couple of things that needed tending to.

As I got off the Tango, I noticed some tram-geek on the other side of the platform actually taking a picture of it. God, what a freak! However, I quickly realized that I too was a tram-geek because I was merely crossing from one side of the platform to the other side to head off in the other direction on the same line. Worse yet: I knew that HE knew what I had just done and what I was now doing.

Maybe I should wear a big "L" on my forehead.

L for LOSER!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Friendly Skies...

Mrs. TBF is on her way to NYC right now. Per the usual drill when she travels on business, I rode with her in the taxi to the airport (6 a.m. - OUCH!) so that I could spend every possible waking moment with her (Awwwwwwwww!), waved to her after she went through security, and then rode the airport bus/tram back home. Unlike previous times, I actually went back to bed this morning and woke up a little before 10 a.m. when Mrs. TBF called me to let me know that she had arrived safely at Heathrow.

While Mrs. TBF was going through security at our local airport, I noticed that there was some kind of "discussion" going-on with the security person regarding the liquids in her little Ziploc bag. It turns out that Mrs. TBF uses some unmarked containers for some of her liquids and the security person told her that she needs to....LABEL THE CONTAINERS WITH THE VOLUME AND CONTENTS! Can you believe it? How's that for security? Are you interested in bringing some gasoline on an airplane? Apparently the x-ray machines are unable to detect what it is. But... no problem! Just write "100 ml of water" on the container and you should be fine.


Also, Mrs. TBF informed me that laptops must once again be taken out of the carry-on bags and loaded into individual trays at security at Heathrow. The result this morning? Massive back-up at security that stretched all the way to the top of the escalator causing mayhem as people tried to get off of said escalator.

Don't you just love it when people stop dead in their tracks after getting off of an escalator. Another good one is when people stop to hug all of their relatives immediately after exiting passport control/customs at any airport resulting in complete blockage of said exit for all the other passengers.

People! Sheesh!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Things I Read...

I read in last week's Economist that it takes 1,120 liters of water to produce 1 liter of coffee (or 140 liters per cup). Only 120 liters go into making the same amount of tea. Wine? Nearly 1,000 liters. Beer? Only about 300 liters.

Here's the blurb from in case you're interested.

I guess the best thing for the planet is for us to drink tea instead of coffee, and beer instead of wine. Better yet, just drink water...and don't eat anything.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Going Down...

A couple of weeks ago, I checked the price of a flight going from Basel to Chicago. I plan on going back in early May, so I figured there was no hurry and I just decided to put it off a couple of weeks.

Boy, am I glad I did.

Today, I checked again, and...the fare is nearly 10% lower than it was 2.5 weeks ago. Should I book now, or should I wait even longer? Hmmmm....

Prices are dropping! This economic crisis RULES!!!*

*trying to stay upbeat!

That Was Easy!

I met with the accountants (one American and one Swiss) earlier this afternoon. If you'll recall, last year I went into the meeting, armed with my perfectly organized records and laptop, full o' piss and vinegar, and I came out spitting a few nails.

This year, I opted for the low-tech approach. Reaaaaaaaaal low-tech!

Yes, I went in once again with my perfectly organized records, of course! However, this year? No laptop! Also, I just stuck my records into a jumbo, 2.5 gallon Ziploc bag which proved to be very popular with the bean counters. After barely and hour, we were all done. Somebody who looked like me forged Mrs. TBF's signature on a bunch of forms, I ate a couple of mints (individually wrapped with the firm's logo prominently displayed on the wrapper), drank a coffee, shot the breeze with the beaners for a few minutes, and that was it.

No attitude this year, no complaints, no...nothing! Happy! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaapy!

Am I mellowing out in my old age, or what? Hell! I didn't even lie about our net worth for the Swiss wealth tax this year.

Wait a second...

Is that a halo over my head?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Brotherly Love

I saw this on the CNN ticker this morning.

Very few things cause my sister to panic as much as the thought of an asteroid colliding with Earth.

Hey, Diana...


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

San Sebastian: The Photos...

They're all here, people! More photos (100+) from this past weekend than you can probably even handle: in and around San Sebastian, the day-trip to Bilbao, the dinners at Mugaritz and Arzak, the pintxos crawl.

Knock yourselves out!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

On Egin!

That's "cheers" in the Basque language.

We've been in San Sebastian, Spain since Thursday. During our flight, we figured out that it's our ninth trip to Spain.

We kind of expected it to be a good trip, but it has totally exceeded our expectations. San Sebastian is a really, REALLY nice place to spend a long weekend, and we hope to return again in the not-too-distant future.

What have we done so far?

We hired a local guide named IƱaki who showed us around San Sebastian. He told us about the history, but (more importantly) he also brought us around to many of his favorite pintxos (the Basque word for tapas) bars where we proceeded to gladly sample all of the best San Sebastian has to offer.

Hey...don't worry. We've also eaten some good sit-down meals too. We ate at Mugaritz on Thursday night, and Arzak (five Michelin stars between them) last night. We even had our picture taken with (and touched) Elena Arzak. Both she and her father were incredibly nice.

"We're not worthy! WE'RE NOT WORTHY!!!!"

On Friday, we took a day-trip to Bilbao. Exactly 1 hour 10 minutes by bus from San Sebastian, Bilbao is famous for the Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim Museum. I slapped on the SPF-15, and we walked around Bilbao for hours. While at the museum, Jo Ann was chased by a man-eating spider, and I was engulfed by some man-made fog. However, we both lived to tell the tale.

We'll be heading back to Basel tomorrow afternoon. I've taken a bunch of photos, and I'll post a link to them all after we're back home again...counting our calories.