Friday, July 30, 2010

July 30, 2010 - It’s Raining It’s pouring… the old man is snoring.

I have no idea who the old man is, or if in fact he is snoring, or why anyone would call someone “old man”. A point of fact is that the sun has finally peaked it’s nose out and may be making a play to stick around. It’s been raining for several days and this morning, while it was raining, I got that silly line from the song stuck in my head. That one bit is all I remember.

Last night L and I were invited to this nice couple’s house for drinks. L worked with one of the men “D” several years ago and they reconnected when we moved here. Turns out that D and his partner also “D” I’ll call him “D2” live just a few streets over from us. We had a really nice time, they guys were very entertaining. I’m hoping that we have an opportunity to do it again sometime in the near future.

There apartment was impeccable with a modern but comfortable feel. This got me to thinking about the move here and all of the “things” we accumulate. L and I certainly brought a lot of stuff with us, at the same time we left quite a bit behind. It’s just gone to show me how much “less” we can live with, and live quite comfortably. There are certainly things that I have/own that I don’t “need” as much as I like them. For example, it seems I have acquired the family disease of dishes. What is the disease of dishes? You walk by a set of dishes and say, “Oh wow, those are fun dishes, I’d like to have that set of dishes” or “Ohhhh wouldn’t that set of dishes be wonderful for X holiday?!” With that attitude I could end up with Halloween Dishes (and let me just say if they ever come out with a set of dishes featuring “Jack the Pumpkin King” I could still). I have managed to just have a small set of Christmas dishes, my everyday dishes and the dish set I bought when I bought my 1st home. This last set is the most complete and is perfect for entertaining. Of course I don’t actually “entertain” but apparently when I bought them I had visions of grand dinner parties for 20 of my closet friends and family. They have a very nice set of demitasse cups for Italian coffee. Sure I don’t drink coffee, demitasse or otherwise, but my family does. Besides, demitasse cups are just awesome. It’s a good thing I don’t drink coffee because I would absolutely own a bunch of these. Hmmm… maybe I should take up drinking coffee?

So other things I am addicted to but try not to buy:

  • Music: (I only download now)
  • Books: (I love my kindle)
  • Artwork… I seriously have a thing about black and white photos but between all the artwork L has and all of mine we’d need another house to display everything. Besides that my Mom paints and I LOVE having her stuff displayed in the house.
  • Furniture: I have a thing about furniture. I love modern looking comfy furniture; I’ve just never lived anywhere where that kind of furniture made sense. Beyond that I tend towards big comfy chairs and sofas. I want to be able to curl up and read for hours. Of course “not” buying furniture is easy. It’s not very practical and who has that kind of money to throw around swapping out furniture every few years?

 Wow as I was posting this I just realized that we have been living in Switzerland for almost 4 months.  The time really does go by pretty quickly and I had better start making a "To-Do" list.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29, 2010 - Random Thoughts and Stupid Phone Conversations

Computer Speakers / Dell:

As you may recall I killed the power supply in my desktop computer the 1st few days we were here.

Well the other day the speakers gave up the ghost. Nothing dramatic occurred, no smoke, no explosions, just a quiet death. We knew this was a possibility since they are speakers made in the US and aren’t designed to handle the electrical current despite the fact that they were plugged into a converter. Fortunatley they were a cheap pair of speakers I had held onto from another desktop computer. The problem, L can’t watch her TV shows on the computer. Or she could but he hasn’t learned to read lips yet and some of the impact is lost when you haven’t a clue what is being said. (Hey, that sort of sounds like my bus conversation). More importantly (sorry L) I can’t listen to my music. Well that is sort of a lie, I can if I plug my headset into my i-Pod but have you tried chair dancing when you have all those straps and chords flying around? Replacing the speakers should be easy, at least you would think so, but I have not been able to find a computer store in Zurich (except the Apple store but I don’t want to have to take out a loan for speakers). Ideally we would get them here so they would be designed to handle the electrical current. So I had the brilliant idea to go out to and order a pair. I found a set on sale for a descent price… but can I order them? No of course not, I can’t read the dam website it’s in GERMAN. I tried google translate but the translation is not that helpful. Finally I found a dell phone number in …. Europe… somehere. I’m actually fairly certain I was routed to India. Which is an entirely different blog/gripe session. The person I spoke with spoke English, yea… and I started the process of walking through what I wanted to buy. Unfortunately the conversation went something like this:

Dell: You want to buy speakers?
Me: Yes the ones I had burned out
Dell: Where did you buy your computer?
Me: It’s a Dell, bought in the US
Dell: We can’t ship to the US
Me: I’m in Switzerland
Dell: You’re calling from Switzerland
Me: Yes
Dell: Can I have your name and phone number?
Me: Did she just hang up on me?

….. silence

I think Dell is my best shot but I don’t have the patience right now.

Stupid People
Some guy has called my home in the US Monday and left a message for me, asking me to call him. My wonderful sister forwarded the message/info to me so the next day I call the guy. His wife answers the phone (at least I assumed it was his wife). She has an Indian accent.

The conversation:

Me: “Hello this is CAB, I am returning Patel’s phone call. He asked that I call him.”
Wife: “Why did he call you?”
Me: I have no idea.
Wife: “Patel, the phone is for you someone returning your call”
“Who is it?”

Wife: CAB, you called her yesterday she’s returning your call
“I don’t know who that it”

Wife: Is this a residence?
Me: Yes
Wife: I’m sorry it must be a mistake

Me: I hate stupid people…..

The point of sharing this? YESTERDAY the idiot Patel leaves ANOTHER message for me on my home phone saying he thinks he knows me and would like to speak to me.

Now do you supposed I will return his call?  If you do, there is a lake in Zurich I'd like to sell to you ... cheap

Random Bits of Stupid
I enjoy John Stewart, I think he adds an funny sarcastic wit to some of the ridiculousness that goes on in the world. Today I watched this clip and I see the humor in the interview but my God this guy Scott Lively is serious when he talks about why Homosexuals should not be in the military.

I get that there are lots of people out there who think that homosexuals are the spawn of Satan, but how do other people take this guy seriously when he says stuff like this? Are there that many people out there that these crazy off the wall statements actually have a ring of truth for them? Oye

Watch the clip here

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010 – How Long Is Now

I saw this in Germany over the weekend and I just liked it.

Today it struck me as being completely in sync with my day. You’re curious aren’t you? It reminds me of when little kids say “Are we there yet?” Which is apropos for a day when I have German class. “Are we done yet?” “OMG could NOW take any longer to get to THEN?”

Well the happy news my never ending struggle with German class will be over in two weeks. Praise the lord, I don’t know how much more I can “not” learn. If that made no sense to you, you haven’t been paying attention. However, today there was a significant breakthrough in my German façade. During class? Of course not.

I ride the bus home after German class, and today I was sitting on the bus in the 1st row right after the second door. At the second stop, an elderly lady slowly climbed on board. She had one of those rolling bags that can be used for shopping, or to conceal something. As she boards the bus she gets the little bag situated against the rail/barrier in front of me and then proceeds to sit next to me. She also makes note of the baby carriage in the same area that only contains a ½ naked baby doll laying across the on the handle as if it were taking a nap. I assume that the elderly woman (EW) finds this amusing because she points to it and rattles off something in German or Swiss German. Honestly, it could have been Pig Latin for all I understood.

I immediately hone in to my decision to channel my alter ego “Madame Viper” when faced with a difficult situation. Ok it’s not really difficult, but I’m tired of trying to tell me I haven’t a clue what they said and getting that sympathetic “Stupid Foreigner” look. Don’t let the name Madame Viper fool you, she can be sweet as long as she isn’t backed into a corner that demands “psycho bitch from hell” reactions.

Anyway, I nod/smile and offer that little glance that says “oh yes, you are absolutely correct, that baby carriage is amusing!”… and a friendship is born.

EW and I spends the rest of our bus ride together engaged in a lengthy conversation. EW rattles something off, laughs a little and I nod appreciatively. At one point she tells me something about the men working in the streets. I understood this because she pointed, said something about Zurich and tisk, tisked at the workmen. Of course I was in complete agreement. About 10 minutes into our conversation I started to worry that she might actually ask me something that demands a verbal response. How will she react when she finds out she is having a conversation with … well herself. I could always pull my “I’ve had a lobotomy” look out and drool a little if the conversation takes that kind of a turn.

Then I started to wonder, what if this woman is really a serial killer. She may look elderly but she has that wheelie thing with her and she’s guarding it as if it contains, well, her latest victim. OMG I could be sitting here nodding in agreement and laughing along with a crazed killer who is actually saying things like:

EW: “You’re American aren’t you? And you haven’t a clue what I am saying.”

Me: Nods and smiles

EW: I have just killed 3 construction workers on my way to the bus stop. Those men you see working in the street. They are my accomplices and are burying the bodies in the asphalt as we drive by.” *maniacal laugh*

Me: Smiles and nods head, laughs lightly

EW: “This is my stop stupid American, you might be next”

Me: Auf Wiedersehen

Then I realized, even if she is a serial killer, to the rest of the passengers on the bus I looked like I was having a pleasant conversation with a nice elderly woman and not that I was starring in a Charlie Brown comic when the adults speak all the kids hear is “Waa Waa Waaa Wa Waaht.”
Come to think of it, I sort if did have a nice conversation with an elderly woman on the bus. Maybe I can do that again tomorrow.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 27, 2010 – Superman and ALF

If the purpose of art is to provoke thought and conversation then this piece has certainly succeeded on that front. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this image since I saw it the 1st day we were in Berlin. It’s stationed outside of the Jewish Museum.

My initial reaction was “Hey Cool, Superman.” Then I noticed that his head was smashed and bloody on the concrete which elicited a similar response to my 1st one without the “cool” part. More along the lines of indignation: “Hey that’s Superman!” Superman’s head would not be smashed and bloody. He’s the “man of steel.” Simple concrete would not have that affect. I also know that it’s not concrete lined with Kryptonite because there would be a green cast to the cement. I mean really. Even if I give in to the idea that smashing his head into concrete would hurt like the devil, why wouldn’t he have his fist go into the ground 1st? Then he would break a hole into the ground before his head hit.

Then I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the artists’ way of making a commentary on the US. I don’t know what that commentary would be; is it in the context of the US entering WWII so late in the game? Is it geared toward more recent political actions? I have no idea and it seems I just can’t move past the fact that the artist smashed Superman’s head. For me that seems inherently wrong. Maybe it’s the fact that I enjoy comic books/graphic novels. Maybe it’s the fact that as a child I fully bought into the ideal that Superman is the defender of the weak and seeker of Justice. Maybe I just so fully associate Superman with being “American” that to see this image in another country seems like an affront to my sensibilities.

Then this morning I did a little research and the Jewish Museum has a special exhibit “Heros, Freaks, and Super- Rabbis: The Jewish Dimension of Comic Art.” Well it turns out that Superman was created by a Jewish cartoonist (Batman and Spiderman too); which explains “why” Superman is in front of the museum but doesn’t give me any indication of what the creator of this image is trying to say.

I’ll chalk this up to another one of life’s little mysteries and I’ll go read the graphic novel “Batwoman – Elegy”

On another completely bizarre and amusing note, at least it should be amusing to my family.  When we were andering around Berlin on Sunday we cam across a flea market and I saw THIS:

Alf singing his greatest hits in German.  Well I don't know if he sings in German, but the cover is in German.  Here's why this is so funny.  Alf, is my couisn.  Well not the furry bizarre guy but the guy who created Alf is my cousin.  So it's always amusing to see some weird Alf memoriablia.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26, 2010 – Berlin Germany – Weekend Roundup

Friday morning we hope the 7:02am train to the airport to catch our flight to Berlin. I’m not entirely sure what I expected from this trip but I knew from the “websites” that I wanted to see The Reichstag (the seat of parliament), The Brandenburg Gate, and Checkpoint Charlie.

But 1st, in keeping with tradition, a pick of L and I in Germany:

When we arrived the weather was rainy and overcast which as it turns out was a good deal because we decided that was better than it being too hot and the rain was more like an occasional drizzle. We also decided (sic…L decided to indulge me) to do the “atypical CAB thing” and signed up for one of those circle city bus tours where they have a series of stops but you can jump on and off the bus and stay at each stop as long as you want. It’s a set route so you just jump on another bus when you are ready. They come by every 10 – 15mins. Let’s just say that the buses were “functional”

Regardless, we actually got to see quite a bit of the city and its attractions on Friday.

Brandenburg Gate


Jewish Memorial

Homosexual Memorial “The Kiss”
Palace Charlottenburg

Potsdamer Platz (A GIANT Shopping area):
This giant pointy thing is attached to all of the buildings rooftops  I'm not sure you would want to sit directly below the pointy part.

It also allowed us to pinpoint what things we wanted to save and spend a greater amount of time wandering around on Saturday.

Checkpoint Charlie

Jewish Museum

Sunday we wandered around a bit more. Originally we were going to pop into one of the museums, but we were enjoying looking at the architecture and the various churches. We also took the opportunity to go into the “New Synagogue” which I think was called the New Synagogue before WWII but definitely afterward when they were forced to rebuild it because of the damage from the bombings.

Here’s what surprised me about this trip.

The number of Jewish Memorials; if I am honest I think I expected that the city/people would try to ignore or bury this part of their history. Along those same lines, and strictly from a historical perspective, I was surprised that Hitler’s name/presence had been removed from the 1936 Olympic Stadium. He is mentioned on the, for lack of a better word, plaques that explain what you are looking at in the various sections of the stadium. For example: They explain that the Fuehrer’s chair was removed from the parade area. Finally, I was surprised that (a) The city today seems to be extremely open minded about same-sex couples. We saw several who although not flaunting their sexuality, were also not hiding that they were a couple. (b) that there was a memorial acknowledging the persecution of homosexuals in Germany both prior to the Holocaust and during.

Finally, I was surprised at the Jewish presence in the city itself. Certainly there are not that many Jews per capita but the fact that the ones who survived the war returned to Germany or stayed is amazing. I really can’t imagine being Jewish and remaining/living there. I have nothing in my own personal life that can even remotely come close to a comparison, but on a minor scale I relate it to: If I lived in California when same-sex couples won the right to get married only to have that right taken away a few months later. I would not have been able to continue living in California. I would have been so hurt and angry that I “think” I would have moved. The Jews, in Germany constantly being persecuted and then systematically murdered. What kind of strength does it take for someone to go back there to make a life?

Some additional Random Pictures:

A self portrait

(Al, avert your eyes)
Dessert 1st: because it can't be all about sight seeing
The Aftermath (Al keep averting your eyes)
Some strange guy at the Brandenburg Gate, he didn't seem to be making much $$

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24, 2010 - Weinerschnitzal

I admit I have no idea how to spell that but it's what I had for dinner last night. I believe in Louisiana they would call it "chicken fried veal.". It reminded me of fried catfish, you don't really taste the cat under all that batter. Needless to say I felt my arteries hardening while I ate. Don't get me wrong it s pretty good but once in a lifetime is enough for me. I'll save future artery hardening events for catfish, if I should ever go back to Louisiana.

L and I are having a good time and did the stereotypical touristy thing yesterday; actually hopping one of those double-decker tour bus and going around the city. Surprisingly it was a good way to get an overview of the city and to pinpoint what we want to see today.

Right now L is napping and I'm sitting in the Einstein Cafe drinking hot chocolate (which btw is called "hot chocolate" in German) and typing away on L's iPad. I think I like it.

More to come later.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 22, 2010

Ah beautiful Friday the start of the weekend. What? Well yes technically it “is” Thursday, but for just this week, for me, it counts as Friday. L and I are heading to Berlin tomorrow for a long 3 day weekend. Which means the adventure actually starts this afternoon. I’ve told the two beastly children that we were going away for a few days and “no they are not going to camp” instead we have a very special treat in store. Angela, the house/dog sitter is going to come and stay with them. The best way I can describe Angela is that she is a bit eccentric. Then again I think you probably need to be to essentially live out of other people’s homes year round. That’s right we’ve hired a hobo to come stay with the dogs. Ok, fine, not a hobo; a transient worker; someone who travels from job site to job site. No wait that’s not right either. We’ve hired a very nice woman whose full time job/career is house/dog sitting. The majority of her clients are Expats. Where is the eccentric part? She would really like to study to be a Pet Psychic, well maybe she said pet psychology, I’ve forgotten. Anyway, Angela comes by the apartment this afternoon so we can take the dogs for a walk together so she can experience them on the leash. She has met the dogs before we just did not have time for the “walk” part. I’ll have to stress again that the dogs are NOT to be walked off leash because that will result in at least one of them running off like her tail was on fire. Not to name names… Jesse.

Then Friday morning we take the train to the airport. I’m actually kind of excited about taking the train to the plane. Then it’s off to Berlin. Here’s what I would like to see when we are there:

  •  The Reichstag
  • The Brandenburg Gate
  • Checkpoint Charlie
  • If there is anything left of the Berlin Wall
I did check out the weather forecast for the weekend in Berlin and I can only hope the weathermen in Europe are as accurate as the weathermen in CT. Really, have you ever had a job where you could be wrong 90% of the time and not get fired? Neither have I. Thus far the prediction is rain Friday – Sunday. I’m going to have a good time anyway.

© C.A. Bailey 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 21, 2010 - German Lessons... when will it end?

I’m trying to be good, I really am, I had a goal to learn the language at least enough so that I can get around and function in a pinch. Like the other day when some woman stopped Colette and I and asked for help. Sure I knew she needed help with something; but it could have been crossing the street to asking for a recipe for brownies. (I make a mean brownie). There were some visible cues; the baby stroller in pieces, baby in baby seat and not in the stroller. Obviously that ruled out asking for a brownie recipe. At least I was able to point out to Colette that I think that woman needs help. After that I was completely useless. Colette is rattling stuff off to her, they are manipulating the baby stroller “Neuzuzügerempfang” (If you recall we decided this means do-hickey in German). I should point out that Colette has a stroller do-hickey which immediately makes her more qualified than I am in assembling one. Anyway, when all is said in done I ask Colette how she was able to converse with her so well. Colette has told me in the past that she dropped out of German Lessons because the classroom setting was so boring. Colette’s response: “Oh, I listen to the radio and TV and after awhile you just pick stuff up.” Pick stuff up??? I have no idea what she is listening to but I have never once heard a baby stroller seminar on the radio. Again, this just points out to me that some people have an aptitude for languages which I do not. All of the fun and intrigue of learning German has been sucked out of me. Consider what is left of my brain as a dried husk of its’ former self. I am a walking advertisement for the type of person who will not be a poster child for the Berlitz style of learning. Everything I can say which consists of:

“Excuse me, do you understand English?”
“I understand a little German. Only a little.”

My ability to spew these few phrases can be directly attributed to the fact that I have been listening to Simon & Schuster’s Pimsleur German CD’s. I like this method and will keep listening and practicing with them.

As for my German lessons, how many do I have left? I don’t know, I’m afraid to ask because I am afraid they will say I have lessons until September. When I would rather believe that my lessons end in another week when we complete the last lesson in the book, Kapital 12. Say a little prayer.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20, 2010 – Peer Pressure and Other Random Facts

I can’t believe I finally did it. I swore I would never do it. I’ve resisted for years with “No, I have no interest in that. It’s just one more thing to distract me.” Then my sister did it (although she was forced) and then L got sucked in. Actually, that was the turning point. L got involved and then I started to hear about it and my interest was piqued. I still resisted, albeit it not as aggressively as in the past. I lasted two weeks since L succumbed to “the addiction” and now I’ve joined the ranks of ….  Facebook.

I know, what is the world coming to? Now I officially connected to the electronic age in almost every way possible. I work remotely, in the insurance software world, I’m on Blogger, Multiply, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo IM, Google talk, Email, I have a work related website in process (I really need to make that public), seriously I feel like a character in the Dean Koonz book from ages ago, where the guy is in front of the computer so much that eventually it (the computer) links directly into his head and they merge. I don’t recall the name of the book, but I recall my initial thought of “oh, that could happen.” Now I should also confess that my “twittering” is less tweeting, which I really don’t do, and more about reading news feeds. As for Facebook, I think it’s more about being in another country and feeling disconnected from familiar people. So it’s my attempt to “connect” with something familiar. That and I really like the people I grew up with even though I rarely see them anymore.

I also considered making this my profile picture:

What?  Do you think they would know it's not me?  I have those abs in CAB's world, just not real life but we all need a goal.  LOL

Last Night
I finally found the setting on my camera that allows me to take night pictures by delaying the shutter speed. Which I was extremely pleased about because last night the moonlight on the lake was amazing and this picture does not do it justice.

This Morning
I got my haircut today, and I’ve been toying with just telling the woman who was to cut it to do something drastic or radical. For those of you who know me drastic and radical is a little difficult to achieve when your hair is already short. What I discovered is the language barrier doesn’t translate either of those words. Which it turns out I am fine with. I got my hair cut, twice, and it looks really good and I am pleased. Twice you ask? Well yes, because I can’t see without my glasses on so I can’t tell how the haircut is going. So about ½ way through I popped on my glasses and asked her to cut it shorted please. Shorter on the sides; a bit longer on the top (than the sides that is) but shorter all the way around please. It’s good to speak up, although it would certainly be tough to say “Hey not so short!” I’m a fan of the hot glue gun and consider that the female version of duct tape but you really can’t do much about putting hair back once it’s gone.

Later this morning
I got my butt in gear and took a giant leap towards my fitness goals. Well maybe not “giant” but I left my haircut, dragged my butt back up the hill and grabbed the beastly boy for a walk. He needs to lose weight too. I left the girlie home because we are trying to put weight on her. I have avoided walking the boy on the trail after the “unfortunate incident”

I’ve continued to be a little creeped out and haven’t been able to make myself go back again. That is until today, which was incident free, so we should be on a new roll.

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 19, 2010 – Weekend Roundup

I had some work I needed to get done this weekend (procrastination can be painful), but in between working L and I did manage to go out and partake in the beautiful weather.

Saturday we went to the Zurich Zoo. I don’t ever recall going to a “zoo” before. I do remember going to a petting zoo but that doesn’t count. So my expectations were pretty high. I thought we’d get to see lot’s to cool animals frolicking around. For those of you who have been to the zoo before I am sure you’re thinking “What are you kidding me?” Well now I know, zoo’s are sort of a sad place. We did see some interesting animals but most of the time I was shocked at how small of an area these animals live in. Now don’t get me wrong, they were not in 9 x 12 cells. Well at least not all of them, regardless they seemed sort of sad. However, I did see the best monkey’s ever. The kind that if you were to have a pet monkey they would not be able to rip your face off; they were maybe 4 inches tall. I tried to get a picture but was too slow.

We also say these little guys roaming around:

And this “panda” up in a tree.

Oh and we saw pink flamingos on the lawn… and they were ALIVE.

Sunday we went to see the movie Chloe at this small theater in the city. Small = 42 seats, of course I did the math twice and came up with 49 and 36 respectively. The accountant in the family rolled her eyes and corrected me. This is why you never want me to calculate the tip at a restaurant.

Back to the movie; strange is the best descriptor for it. I did like the movie, L not so much, but I think to like the movie you had to get past some of the ridiculous parts and just try and relate to the fact that this woman Catherine (Julianne Moore) doesn’t like who she is, and is feeling vulnerable/insecure in her relationships with both her husband David (Liam Neeson) and her son. BTW from the moment you see Liam Nesson, you hate him. At least I did so he’s lucky that this was a movie and I wasn’t his wife because I would never have hired a psycho call girl to test his virtue. I’d have taken his pillow and smothered him in the middle of the night. I’d just claim he had “SADS” Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

Oh and to think I almost forgot to tell you about “The Darwin Awards in The Making.”

Of course this occurred while we were at the zoo, you can’t tell from this picture but these dufus’ are trying to put a bottle of soda into a monkey’s hands. The monkey has his arm (and claws) stretched out as far as he can and this kid is reaching for him. At one point he was actually just trying to stick his hand in the monkey’s paw. Now sure the monkey seemed docile as the kid was pushing the bottle into his paw, but how much of that is an act. That monkey could be Norman Bates just waiting for an opportunity for you to feel safe in the shower. Seriously, I fully expect to read about 3 teenage boys in the 2011 Darwin Awards.

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16, 2010 - Book Reviews

It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood. Any minute now I expect Mr. Rogers to pop his head into my office and say hello. Of course if he were to really do that, it would be both creepy and scary, since he is dead.
Since it’s Friday and I actually have a lot of work to do, it’s interfering with my ability to provide you with a new grand adventure. So instead I’ll give you a quick rundown of some of the books I’ve read this month. My own mini reviews:

Vicki Pettersson: For the series (3 ½ stars)
Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comic/Super Hero
  • The Scent of Shadows (Sign of the Zodiac, #1)
  • The Taste of Night (Sign of the Zodiac, #2)
  • The Touch of Twilight (Sign of the Zodiac, #3)
  • City of Souls (Sign of the Zodiac, #4)
  • Cheat the Grave (Sign of the Zodiac, #5)
Here’s what happened. Amazon has gave away the 1st book in the series as a “free book.” The obviously suspected that people (like me) would get sucked into the story line and then feel compelled to read the others in the series. They were correct. 
The series follows the life of Joanna Archer as she discovers that there is a secret world on earth where agents of the light and dark battle to maintain a balance between good and evil. Although the agents of darkness would obviously prefer to have complete control and let chaos reign. Throughout the series the reader follows Joanna as she discovers her own role in this “battle” and learns to walk a line between what she believes is right and the expectations of those around her.

My favorites in the series to date were book 1 and 5 which I would give 4 stars to. The others are 3 stars.

Peter Straub - A Dark Matter (2 stars)
Amazon has this book classified as “horror fiction” (I had no idea) it seemed more like a mystery/suspense to me but then that might be why I didn’t really enjoy it.

The story revolves around an event that occurred in 1966 in Madison WI, when 4 teenage friends get caught up in an occult ritual performed by Spencer Malon; with whom they have become infatuated.

The narrator of the story is Lee Hayward, who was friends with the 4 and is now married to Lee Truax, one of the participants in the “Dark Matter”. The story is relayed from the perspective of each participant and how it’s shaped or damaged their respective lives, including that of the narrator.

Surprisingly, I found the storyline of this book difficult to follow; in part because of how it was narrated. I found it distracting trying to figure out when a character was relaying their memories of the incident, versus when they were having a present day conversation. This was especially true when the character “Hootie” was both remembering the events leading up to the day of the “Dark Matter” and reading the events as they were laid out in Lee Hayward’s book. 

Tim Green - False Convictions (4 stars)
Mystery, Crime, Suspense, legal thriller

Attorney Casey Jordan runs a legal clinic for the underprivileged women, when she is contacted by the wealthy and powerful millionaire Robert Graham to ask her to participate in his pet charity “The Freedom Project.” The Freedom Project aim is to gain the freedom of prisoners who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit. In exchange for Casey’s assistance Graham will donate a million dollars to her clinic. The 1st case they want Casey’s help with is one involving a black man named Dwayne Hubbard who was convicted of raping and murdering a small town beauty queen in almost 20 years ago.

As Casey begins to research the case she discovers a cover-up, corruption, and then it appears something more. As she digs deeper, it becomes apparent that she has gotten involved in something more than she anticipated and that her reputation and life could be in jeopardy.

This was a very good read, with several plot twists and an unexpected yet gratifying ending.

Lea Santos - Little White Lie (2 1/2 stars)
Romance, lgbt

I've read enough romance novels to anticipate the formula. However, this was a fun and enjoyable read. Something I would qualify as the perfect beach book. The characters are enjoyable and often I found myself chuckling at their bumbling as the each misinterpret the others intentions.

I would have liked to see more character development, and some additional interaction with the two "best friends" regardless a very enjoyable book.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15, 2010 - Junk Mail

Just an observation, but Swiss junk mail is so much more work than U.S. junk mail. How can that be? Well first off, when I get junk mail in the US, I immediately recognize it for what it is, most times without having to even open the envelope. It comes in the mail slot and immediately heads for the shredder. Here on the other hand I go to the mail box, pick up my mail, and if it’s in an envelope it all looks “official”. Is this a bill? Did we do something wrong? Why is the town sending me a letter? So many questions and the only way to get an answer: type the contents into google translate.

The major content of today’s letter:
Sie wohnen seit einiger Zeit in unserer Gemeinde und haben sich hoffentlich gut eingelebt. Wir heissen Sie gerne persönlich wilkommen und freuen uns, Sie zum Auftakt der traditionellen Kusnachter-Chilbi-Tag zum Neuzuzügerempfang herzlich einzuladen....
Roughly translated:
You live for some time in our community and have settled in well, I hope. We look forward to personally welcome you and look forward to the start of the traditional Kusnacht-Fair-day to Neuzuzügerempfang invite cordially…
The gist is, I’m invited to an open house doohickey (is there a word in German for doohickey?) to learn about the town. What the heck, I’m game, but does anyone have any idea what the heck “Neuzuzügerempfang” is/means?
Speaking of mail; I find myself looking in the mail box hoping for mail, despite all of the work, because mentally it’s a bizarre confirmation that I still exist. As if I could ever be the product of someone’s sick and twisted imagination. My views of which could be its very own long confusing blog.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 14, 2010 - German Lessons – Critical Mass

I think we’ve reached the stage of critical mass when it comes to the German Lessons. Where every new thing I try to learn or comprehend has morphed and is stretching the very boundries of my brain, as well as my actual physical skull.
Today we learned how to ask when the train, plane is leaving, ask what gate it is leaving from and to buy one way and round trip tickets. At some point during the lesson I realized that for every new thing that I am managing to stuff into my brain something is being forced out. This is not a new phenomenon. I’ve experienced it before, but I can’t exactly tell you when, because that memory has been displaced by something new.

I really don’t know what has happened to me, but over the course of the last few years my memory has seriously left me in the lurch. The teacher asked what did I do this weekend, it seems so long ago and I couldn’t recall. “Hello… it was only 4 days ago!” Peter had to remind me that I went to the Pink concert. Thank God she didn’t ask me my name, I’m sure I would have given her a blank stare. “Name? I have a name?” If she had asked me what I had for breakfast I could have told her, but only because I have the same thing for breakfast every day. I can only blame the pressure of the classroom environment on part of my lapses. For example: I continue to confuse the words for the number 4 and the number 5. I had them straight for awhile, but now with time, and money, and dates all uses the same “numbers” but with different endings I have twisted these two together. Sure, it could be disastrous if someone asks what gate the train is at and I say “funf” and it’s really “vier” but anyone who knows me knows I’m just going to hold up 4 or 5 fingers and let the person come to their own conclusions. Why not? Children are understood all the time… “How old are you honey?” “This many…. Holds up fingers”. Certainly if someone asks me how old I am that wont work, too many fingers but I have that practiced look that every woman should have down. You know the one I’m talking about; the indignant one “Why would you ask me such a question????” or better yet the one that says “How old do you think I am?????” That one is a landmine just waiting for someone to step in. But, hey if someone asks me the time, I can either let them look at my watch, or I can give the universal language “shrug” of no idea.

Oh and the other horror I suspect might be true… I may have these classes thru August. One of us is not going to survive, and I strongly suspect it’s the teacher. She literally put her head in her hands today while she tried to think of some other way to make me understand the usage of “om” versus “im”. “Im” is something to do with time and I think going somewhere… Like I am going. Whereas “om” is a thing is going… like the train. Of course I could be totally wrong and that might be the reverse. Or it might mean something entirely different. Personally I thought “om” was a chant used in meditation.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13, 2010 - Time for a Change

I feel like it’s time for a change; a physical transformation or sorts. The question that I am always faced with, will I get off my duff and actually “make” a change. I want this to be about me and for me. Sure it sounds a little narcissistic but that’s not where I’m coming from. At least I don’t think it is. I want to be healthier, more fit, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Ok that last one should be modified… able to leap large snails in a single bound. I want to break out of the mold I’ve established for myself and find something new. Heck I even considered not cutting my hair for the next few months. You can stop laughing now, I walked outside yesterday and it was so hot I couldn’t imagine what the heck I would do with myself if I had “more” hair. Then I realized it would just be in a ponytail. Needless to say I have an appointment for a haircut on Tuesday. Somehow I have to balance my shear laziness with reality. I don’t want to fuss with my hair. Heck if I thought for a moment that I could pull off a haircut like Annie Lennox or Sinead O’Connor and not look like a boy I would do that; the ultimate in lazy hair. Alas, my face won’t support that.

So I need a goal, something tangible and then I need incentive, again something tangible. Finally I need a little help, yes something tangible.

The goal can’t just be “I want to fit into my skinny jeans” that doesn’t work for me. I do however, want to feel stronger. I’ve been feeling weak lately; my legs get heavy and feel tired. I don’t like the flabbiness that has invaded my arms (yes I am getting older but I think I can fight some of that off), I want to feel like I own my body versus being trapped in my body. I think that’s a start.

As for the help, I’ll have to enlist L’s help. Maybe she’ll push me out of bed at 6am tomorrow so I can attempt to go run.

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010 - Weekend Roundup

Let's just jump right in and state for the record, the weekend was really Saturday. L and I went to Bern to see Pink in Concert aptly named "The Funhouse Summer Carnival". Amazing, Amazing, Amazing. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting, probably just another "concert" by an artist whose music I enjoy; was I wrong. This was a production that was both visually and acoustically entertaining. The concert opens with a giant crane lifting a "box" well above the stadium. We all know Pink is in the box. As the two dancers dressed as crazy clowns ready the cannon and the "fire" Pink drops from the box and lands on the stage. Sure she has a rope attached to her and it's a controlled decent but still dramatic.

I'm kicking myself for having not brought a camera, but I made the assumption that security would not allow me in if I was carrying one. Remember the days when they used to search you for cameras and tape recorders? I think I am showing my age. They have obviously given up on trying to control that; in this age of cell phones and teeny tiny camera's. L took lots of photo's with her cell phone and a couple videos.

She sang a bunch of songs off the funhouse album, a few from "I'm not Dead Yet."  (I wish she had sung "Stupid Girls") and a couple of cover tunes: The Police - Roxanne and 4 Non Blondes - What's Up.

I think one of the things I enjoyed the most while watching this show, was the fact that Pink was obviously enjoying herself.  She had that look on her face that just screamed "I Love What I Do".

Now it's Monday and I have to head out to German Class. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

July 9, 2010 - Caught In The Act

"I'm not supposed to be on the couch?  Then why are these pillows and blankets here?"

It's a good thing he is cute.

On another note, I am THRILLED that the Federal Court in MA ruled that section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman for the purposes of federal benefits unconstitutional.  "Under the ruling, the plaintiffs are entitled to the same federal spousal benefits and protections as every other married couple."  I have no doubt that the decision will be appealed but it's a step in the right direction.


Weekend Plans - Saturday we're going to see Pink in concert in Bern.  I'm really looking forward to the concert and seeing the city.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 8, 2010 - Church Bells

Have I mentioned that the town we live in has two churches and one or the other, maybe both, chime on the hour, the 1/2 hour and at quarter to the hour.  Sometimes we are even lucky enough to have dueling church bells.  I'm saying this because right now they are definately dueling and the thought that runs through my head, other than "STOP" is:  How the heck did the Hunchback of Notre Dame stand that racket?  I admit that most days I hear the bells as it ticks off another hour and it only vaguely enters my subconscious but the double whammy instantly grates on my nerves.  The woman I "run" with lives in between both churches and when you are in her apartment you can almost feel the vibrations in the air it's so loud.  Speaking of, not the bells, the woman I run with.... 

We actually ran today; bits and pieces or out walk.  There were a number of flat sections and several downhills that we took advantage of and I feel good about that.  Plus I think I can actually make my way back to this spot so I can replicate the effort.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July 7, 2010 - German Lessons..... *sigh*

Well, I am happy to report that at least today I did not feel the need to stab myself in the eye with a sharp stick. Nor did I feel the overwhelming urge to run out of the room screaming. I did point out to today’s teacher that I did not really understand what the heck went on during Monday’s class. So she did a quick review. Do I completely understand? No. Do I care that I don’t completely understand? No.

Today in class I learned that I (a) think to hard about what is actually being asked and what the correct response is. For example: She asked when my birthday was; which immediately caused me to freeze, as I struggled with remembering how to say 21 in German. The reality is, I can tell her it’s any date I want I just have to pick a date that I actually know how to say. Who said I need to tell the truth? Heck, I make stuff up all the time when someone asks me something I shouldn’t or couldn’t possibly know the answer to. Like the time I told a friend that it was someone’s job to drop the calorie into diet soda. The use an eyedropper for precision.

So when the teacher asks me if I like a particular movie I’ve never heard of, I should be saying “Ja! ich Lust ….” Instead of struggling with trying to figure out how to say I have never seen it. (Actually my internal reaction is, “huh? Never heard of it!”) Speaking of movies: Who the heck decides what movie they are going to see based on the director? Peter and the teacher are rattling off that they like movies directed by “so in so.” Maybe it’s just me, but the likelihood I’m going to know the director of a movie is pretty slim; right up there with, me actually inheriting millions of dollars from that long lost relative who happens to be a Nigerian Prince. I pick the movies I want to see based on the actors in them and the storyline.

I did learn how to kill a conversation quickly in class today. The teacher asked what types of movies I found boring. Generally speaking, documentaries, which prompted her to tell me, “Oh Michael Moore’s documentaries are EXCELLENT. Not boring at all.” To which I explained that “I refuse to watch his films.” Fortunately, that stopped that conversation; I’d have gotten myself into trouble if it went any further.

Anyway – after class I asked her to review the homework with me, because it’s a little like math word problems where they give you a sentence with a couple blanks in it, then tell you to ask the question that gets the person to answer the sentence. You think that explanation is confusing? Try doing the homework.

So, at least I know have a goal for the next class. I’m going to go into class as my alter ego, Madame Viper (superhero at large. Or as the Duetch might say: At large, superhero. But that just makes me sound fat). Madame Viper will answer any and all questions in the most fanciful way. Lies and Untruths abound!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 6, 2010 - Zurich Fest

This weekend was Zurich Fest, which is essentially a HUGE steet fair that is held every 3 years.  We had a great time wandering around and people watching.  Although today is a bit crazy - a couple of pics from the weekend:
I'm fairly certain the swans did not come in just for Zurich Fest

Somehow THIS was creepy
but this was not... go figure

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5, 2010 – German Lessons…. Please Kill Me Now

Forget everything I’ve ever written or said about my German lessons in the past. Then, imagine being stabbed in the eye with a sharp stick. Really it’s only excruciatingly painful until shock settles in, then everything goes numb. Today’s German lesson was worse than that because the shock and numbness didn’t kick in until after class was over. It’ was 90 minutes of hell. No, I’m not exaggerating. It was painful for all of us, me, the teacher, even Peter. I don’t know what happened today but usually I have a basic understanding of what the teacher is saying. Maybe not on the first go around, but the second or third time. Not today. I literally felt like I spent the entire class experiencing the windshield affect. For those of you who don’t know what that is: Things fly at you at a high rate of speed, hit the windshield and slide off. In this instance, all knowledge and any attempt to instruct me in what was going on was immediately met with a protective barrier, preventing anything from sinking in.

Peter was even trying to tell me in English what was going on. That didn’t help. We were heavy into grammar today. Concepts that I struggled with in elementary school and that obviously never sunk in back then. Now, I’m experiencing them again, in a foreign language. About 30 minutes into class I seriously considered walking out just to end everyone’s suffering. Another hour later, which felt like 6, I still had no idea what anyone said to me. If I could have run out of the room screaming I would have.

I think this is the 1st class I've had where I couldn't even be amused by my own ignorance.

Friday, July 2, 2010

July 2, 2010 - Happy Anniversary

Today is my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. That’s right, they been married, to each other, for 50 years and they still like each other.

Here’s what I know about my parents relationship. They laugh a lot. They do things together but they also carve out time to pursue their own interests. They support each other. Certainly there are times when they disagree or “bicker” but that has always appeared to be more a side effect of being human. In my limited view the strength in their relationship comes from the fact that they respect, trust, and love each other. As a result, they have raised three smart, successful, independent children who (speaking for myself) view them as a model to strive for in my own relationship.

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July 1, 2010 - Tuesday Gifts

I'm so excited I can barely contain myself.  This morning I went to the store and I bought a fancy European Fan.  No really, I did.  I just went hog wild and bought one.  Now it's not a completely frivolous thing.  We don't have AC in the apartment and although it gets cooler in the evenings I realized last night that L would not be able to sleep in these temps.  So I went with the complete intention of buying her a present.  Yes, exactly.  The European Fan.  Now for those of you who know L, tomorrow is her birthday but no.  Despite the coolness of a European Fan that is not her birthday present.  Appliances, tools, furnature, software (well it depends on the software) are "Tuesday Gifts".  Things you buy for someone because you know they will like/use/or need it  but are of a more practical nature.  Those are things you can randomly give someone, just because.  However, they are not Birthday, Christmas, Anniversay, or Valentines Day gifts.  Obviously there are exceptions to that rule.  For example you certainly can give/receive a piece of Jewlery as a random Tuesday Gift and there are times when a person will request tools etc for a birthday gift.  Use your best judgement.  Personally, I enjoy the random tuesday gift because it means I was on someone's mind.

Oh but wait, I got sidetracked.  European Fans..... Let me show you the spectacularness of this fan:

It swivels, has 4 speeds, and it can even dice a carrot if you manage to jam it through the protective grate.

Now I know you are wondering; what makes this particular fan so special and "European"?