Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Once Again...

... not a total waste!

While Mrs. TBF went through boxes of Kleenex, and I sat there not eating due to my stomach virus, we actually managed to accomplish something this past Sunday:


1,000 pieces in about 6 hours! Not bad.

A Tough Two Weeks...

It's been a real sickbay around here lately.

First, I came down with a cold. It wasn't anything too bad: just a bit of a cough and gallons of snot. Then, Mrs. TBF got sick AND actually stayed home from work for two days. We started feeling better, Mrs. TBF went off to Miami on business (where she enjoyed views like these from her hotel room), and we thought the worst was behind us.

The last day Mrs. TBF was in Miami, she told me that she was starting to not feel well again.

Oh, ohhhhh.

When she arrived back in Basel, she had... a cough and gallons of snot. Then, rarity of all rarities, she actually stayed home from work for two days in a row...AGAIN!

By the end of last week, I was completely over my cold and Mrs. TBF was on the mend... again. Then, our friend Tom, who was in Basel on business, came by on Friday evening for dinner and to spend the night before flying back to the U.S. the next day. He arrived at our place around 6:30 p.m.

As he stepped out of the elevator, here's what he said:

"Dude! My colleague just dropped me off in front of your place. I couldn't hold it any longer, so I just went in a snow bank in front of your apartment!"

At first I thought he meant he had actually dropped a deuce in a snow bank in front of our place, but then I realized that he had blown chunks. In he came, wheeled his bag to his room, sat down (as white as a ghost) in the living room, and enjoyed a pre-prandial cocktail of... Perrier. That was a bit too harsh for him, so he switched to plain tap water.

By this time, Andy, Di, and Jeanette had also stopped by. Tom gave it his best shot, talked with everybody for a little while, then... went to bed without a bite to eat and slept until Saturday morning. On Saturday morning, he took a taxi to the airport, and then flew back to the U.S.

Here's the worst part...

Jeanette, Andy, and I all came down with stomach flu over the weekend. I wasn't too bad, but Andy and Jeanette actually had to stay home from work on Monday.

We're all better now, but let's...


Tuesday, February 02, 2010


One year ago today we said goodbye to one old friend (King), and today I'm saying goodbye to another: a pair of Keens - perhaps my favorite shoes of all time.

Yeah, the tips are funny looking, but they have to be the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. Having been worn from the U.S. to Japan (and many countries in between), the soles had been worn down to the point where they were almost smooth. It was time to donate them to charity.

Today, we had one of our quarterly clothing pick-ups for charity. So, with a couple of tears, and a head full of pleasant memories, I gently lowered my old friends into the Kleidersammlung bag, along with some other clothes, and brought them out to the curb yesterday afternoon.

I just looked outside toward the street, and the charity bags haven't been picked up. I guess I still have time to change my mind, run out there, and salvage the holy Keens. But I don't have to - all is not lost - because...

I had the foresight to buy a second pair! Actually, Mrs. TBF bought me the second pair.

I had bought the first pair a few years ago at Nordstrom during a trip to Chicago. Mrs. TBF ended up being in Chicago about a month after me, and while there, she called me and asked if there was anything I wanted her to pick up for me. "Yeah," I told her, "... buy me another pair of those Keens." That she did, and the back-up pair has been in the on deck circle in a closet at Mrs. TBF's mom's house for the last few years for me to use while in Chicago.

Now due to my advance planning, I'll be able to enjoy the comfort of my beloved Keens for a few more years to come. Ahhhh... life's simple pleasures.

Did I Speak Too Soon?

You know how I went on about the end of the Sky era yesterday? Well, yesterday, just on a whim, I put in our new Sky card, and...

It's TOTALLY working.

That's right, ALL our channels as if nothing had ever been wrong.

Sky requires a 31-day notice when you cancel, so that means we'll still get all our channels until the beginning of March. That also means, I presume, that we could call them back and rescind our cancellation now that the card is working just fine.

Should we, or shouldn't we?

THAT is the question.

1 A.K.

King went to Kitty Heaven one year ago today. Can you believe it? It's been ONLY one year.

Man.... this last year has reeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaallllly dragged!!!

I thought it was just me, but Mrs. TBF feels the same way. It seems to me like King has been gone for three years. Really!

We were in San Sebastian only eleven months ago???

Amsterdam was just this past April???

My parents came for a visit in June/July, and we were in Ireland and Finland in July??? That was only about six months ago?? Are you kiddin' me????

Then, there were the trips to Amalfi and Copenhagen in September, and Scotland in November... plus, a smattering of trips to the U.S. sprinkled in for flavor. All that... and the year still dragged on... and on... and on?

What's going on here? I thought time flies when you're having fun.

Monday, February 01, 2010

No Offense!

And speaking of Sky...

Yesterday evening, I was about to watch The Simpsons on one of the free (YES!!!) Sky channels. I looked at the show description to see which episode it was, and I noticed that it was the one where Bart starts working for the local Mafia guys: Cool! I hadn't seen that one in a long time.

Seconds before the show was about to start, a voice came on a said:

Warning. This show contains strong Italian stereotypes that some of our viewers [the Italian ones, I'm assuming] might find offensive.


They actually gave a warning before A CARTOON to avoid offending some viewers.


I called out to my dago wife and told her to get her goombah ass out to TV room so she could hear it for herself, but she was in the tub stomping on some grapes, or in the shower scrubbing off the garlic smell, or something...

Who knows? Fuggedabouit!

The End Of An Era...

Remember a couple of years ago when I said that there was a chance that we might lose our Sky satellite subscription in the "near" future. Well, horror of horrors, it's finally happened!!!

This past October, a box began popping up on our screen telling us to insert our new satellite card and we'd have to press a button on our remote every 60 seconds(!!!) in order to get the message to go away - ANNOYING!!! Our card was supposed to have been sent to the U.K. home of one of Mrs. TBF's colleagues, but it never arrived in the mail. Mrs. TBF's colleague had to call Sky from her home in the U.K. (because Sky now blocks calls from outside the U.K.), pretend she was Mrs. TBF (after we coached her on what to say), and ask for a new card to be sent. Sky said they would do so.

They didn't.

After calling Sky a couple of times, and Sky saying they would send a new card but not doing so, we just asked our friend to call them and cancel the subscription. When, our friend called to cancel, Sky practically begged her to give them one more chance. About a week later, much to our surprise, the card came.

This past Friday, we received our new card from our friend, and...


Our friend called Sky from her home in the U.K. this past weekend, and they told her it would be working within 24 hours (after we had to provide the old card number, the new card number, AND the serial number of our Sky box). After THIRTY hours, it still wasn't working, so our friend called Sky last night and canceled.

In the end it was kind of strange: WE wanted to keep our subscription, SKY wanted us to keep the subscription, but it just didn't work out. Shame!

But I'm happy to report that it's not a total loss.

Even without any card, the box still picks up quite a few free channels. Fortunately, one of the free channels, amazingly, is the U.S. Food Network. That means that we'll still be able to get our nightly dose of Iron Chef America every night at 10 p.m. - which is one of the few shows we watch with any regularity anyway. Plus, we'll still get the BBC channels, ITV channels, and quite a few others. Yes, no more NFL on Sunday nights, but... the season's almost over anyway, right? Plus, when the new season begins next September, we'll be getting close to moving back to the U.S. anyway.

Right, Mrs. TBF???

Way Too Early!

Mrs. TBF is on her way to Miami right now. As usual, I rode in the taxi with her to the airport at 5:45 a.m., we said our goodbyes, and then I took the bus/tram back home.

Seeing that my gym now opens at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays, my original plan was to take the bus back into town from the airport, walk to gym, and then have an early workout. However, when I woke up this morning, I decided against it. I mean, I don't have to go to work, so WHY IN THE WORLD would I want to torture myself with an early-morning workout when I don't have to? Instead, I took the bus back into town, got myself a venti Americano at Starbucks, and then took the tram home.

And speaking about my gym...

They used to open at 8:00 a.m. on weekdays. One day, I mentioned to one of the trainers that they would probably increase their membership significantly if they opened earlier because people could workout before going to work.

Here was the first objection:

Swiss Trainer: But who vood vant to come to verk so early in zee morning?

TBF: Ummm... Probably any number of people who are out of work and need a job.

Swiss Trainer: But... vee vood haff to find a zertified trainer.

TBF: To unlock the front door so that people could come exercise? Anybody can do that! Just hire somebody part-time to come in and work for a couple of hours until the regular staff shows up at 8:00 a.m.

Swiss Trainer: But who vood vant to verk for only two hours per day?

TBF: Ummm... Somebody who needs the money and figures that two hours of pay per day is better than ZERO hours per day of pay. A stay-at-home mom or dad, a university student, somebody who wants to take on a second job.

Swiss Trainer: A second job????

Then, the next objection:

Swiss Trainer: Anusser seeng ees zat vee surveyed our members to see if zey vanted to come verkout earlier in zee morning, and almost everybody said no.

TBF: Yes, but did you survey people who are not members?

Swiss Trainer: No, vhy vood vee do zat?

TBF: Because THOSE are the people who are not joining the gym because it's not open before they go to work. I mean, I don't work, so I can come here any time I want. And since I can come at any time, why would I want to wake up at 6 a.m. and come workout when I don't have to. However, a person who gets to work at 8:30 a.m. might not join this gym because he can't workout before he goes to work. Maybe if you opened up at 6 or 6:30 a.m., you might increase your membership... significantly!

I sensed the gears grinding in his brain, but it really was a lot for him to take in. The concept of doing something that might benefit the customer and actually increase business was just such a foreign concept that he really needed to take some time to think about.

Now, I'm not saying I had anything to do with it, but imagine my surprise when I heard a few weeks ago that my gym would now begin opening at 6:30 a.m. from Monday to Friday.

I wonder how crowded it is? I guess I'll have to ask because... there's NO WAY I'm getting up that early in order to find out!