Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 30, 2010 – Sunrise

I have to admit that I did not actually get up AT sunrise, in fact I got up at 8 which is unusually late considering the beastly boy typically wants to go out at 6:30/7:00. Anyway, when I got up the morning the sky was too beautiful not to take some pictures and since I neglected my blog yesterday I thought I would share today.


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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 28, 2010 – Trick or Treat

Remember how I mentioned that my neighbor M asked if we would give out candy to some children from her son’s school? Some background, her son is 3 and will be 4 the 8th of November so these are little kids. Hey what the heck, they’ll be really cute and this will be fun.

Well yesterday afternoon rolled around and M rang my doorbell and explained that our other neighbor wasn’t going to be around so could I give out her candy as well. Sure why not, it’s really just throw extra candy into the kids bags. She also reminds me that they should be here around 5:30.

Anyway, I work in the afternoons so I’ve tried to keep that timeframe open but as work would have it I’ve run into an issue that I need some help with. Now my boss very understanding and that’s a good thing so she said she can help me as soon as I am ready, which is after the kids come and go. Now I can hear/see the kids because they have arrived at the apartment complex and are running around outside playing on the swing set. Unfortunately, that also reminds me that kids don’t tend to stick to schedules. They can be wily that way.

Lucky for me, at that moment L walks in the door. She managed to come home early so she could see the kids in costume. So I take advantage of the helping hands and call my boss to see if she can walk through this problem I have encountered. So, I’m on the phone with my boss, L is in the living room and the beast is lying on the floor of my office when Murphy’s Law comes knocking or in this instance not knocking. Suddenly I hear our front door open and see thousands of ants, I mean a handful of children, coming through the door. The beast hears/sees them as well so he’s making a mad barking dash at the children, I’m racing behind him trying to grab his harness before we have a beast/child trauma. The child who was 1st through the door makes a dash back towards the door just as I grab the harness and herd the beastly boy outside onto the balcony. Where I would have put him IF the doorbell had been rung or anyone had knocked on the door. So now the beast is safely behind glass and I turn around and children are swarming the apartment. I honestly have no idea how many children showed up, I just know that (a) I jumped up from my desk and left my boss hanging on the phone (b) children are all over the house and trying to get them under control is like herding cats.
One little boy who made a dash across the apartment to my office asked me “Where are the toys?” He seemed a little indignant that I was unprepared with playthings but decided to make due with the beast’s squeaky toy. Another little girl has plopped herself down onto the floor and is removing her shoes. I’m trying to get her to leave them on, really it’s alright you can wear your shoes (while my brain is saying, “please Lord tell me they aren’t STAYING”) This is wear it gets tricky and L has once again proven she can be quite the Saint. I’ve left my boss on dead air all this time and I need to get back to the phone. I ask L if she will be ok, we seem to have gotten the kids back towards the entryway. L gives me the affirmative and from there I am not entirely sure what happened but I can still see kids wandering the apartment and every once in awhile I make eye contact with L and she has this expression on her face. One that says “OMG these kids are funny and OUT OF CONTROL.” Later she tells me that they have wandered into our bedroom, the living room, the kitchen… I think the only place they didn’t go was the balcony which it turns out was keeping the beast protected FROM the children and not the other way around. One of the girls I could see/hear running towards the glass where the beast was looking in. She run to the glass “SCREAM” runaway… repeat.
Honestly, it was very amusing. The neighbors who set this up brought us a bottle of wine to say thank you and next year I’m passing out invisible fence collers.

This is a picture of the boy after the kids left.

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 27, 2010 - Bullets

* I'm rushing I have to meet mmy neighbor M in 15 minutes to go running.  We have officially signed up for the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.  My friend DeeAnne alluded to this, but I have to wonder, will there be Turkey's trotting along the route? Which would be better than a repeat of that TV show, WKRP in Cincinnati the "Turkey Drop Episode" where they tossed live Turkey's from the Helicopter

* I'm making curried pork and pea soup for dinner tonight.  It smells good, we'll see how that tastes.  I know you were dying to know that.

* Thank God we already voted and don't have to listen to all these last minute political ads, pundents, rallys and nonesense.  It's making me insane listening to all the political posturing and I don't hear the half of it.  Take your pick, Liar A or Liar B... *sigh*

* Have have a great day!

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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 26, 2010 – Running & Halloween

If I counted correctly I have 3 ½ weeks to get to a place where I can run 5k. We’re going to Michigan for Thanksgiving and there is a “Turkey” trot in Detroit. Since we have to fly into Detroit and we arrive late the evening before we figured we would spend the night and then meet L’s niece and her husband (L & M) and run the 5k. Personally I know I can be ready and it’s a good short term goal. It will force me to be consistent in my running regardless of a partner. So this morning I went running on my own, I managed 20 minutes of, well let’s not kid ourselves it’s not “running” it’s more of a slow jog. I walked one patch that was 15mins but managed to keep the walk to a minute. Then I had to walk up the hill back to the apartment, which took another 10 – 15 mins. Hey I was tired and it’s a long hill. So as far as I am concerned that was a decent 30 minute workout. I also ran the same course I did the other day and mentally marked where I had to take the 1st walk. So my goal tomorrow, not walk until I at least get further in the run, and if I do walk to start running again and run a little longer than this last time. There’s a street corner I am shooting for.

I also ran into my neighbor M, the one who has been running with me. She’s not been feeling well. Anyway she said she is feeling better and will join me in the morning tomorrow. That and she gave me candy for Halloween. Now I know that sounds a little strange, but apparently they don’t celebrate Halloween here but her son’s school is trying to introduce the kids to other cultures. That or they are trying to introduce them to more candy. So they are dressing up and having a “Halloween Parade.” So M, asked me and another neighbor if we would be home so the kids could “trick or treat” tomorrow. I think it’s cute, and amusing since I don’t have to do anything except answer the door.

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

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25, 2010 – The Grossmünster

Saturday we took a quick trip into Zurich to go see the Grossmünster, which is one of 3 major churches in Zurich. This one was apparently commissioned by Charlemagne in the 1100’s. You aren’t really allowed to take pictures inside the church but you are allowed to go up into one of the towers; which I did. Fortunately it was not until I came back down the tower that I found out that there are 187 steps up the tower. Frankly I wasn’t counting, because to get up there is a very narrow spiral staircase. Narrow as in…. no passing… only one person will fit. Oh and narrow as is, this was so not good for my equilibrium. The spiral is so tight and I steep that I felt like I was spinning. I was seriously praying that (a) no one would be coming down while I was going up (b) that this particular staircase would end soon and (c) that this was the “up” staircase and that there was another staircase for “down”

I did breathe a sigh of relief when I came out into this section because now there were still narrow stairs but they weren’t “spiral” so much as 90 degree angles.  That little doorway leads back to the spiral staircase

It was worth the effort just to look out the tower across the city.

These are the towers (the one on the right is the one I walked up)

Later we went to a book store and I came across “War on Terror, the Board Game.”

The Warning label on the right hand side really doesn’t make me feel much better. For the life of me I can’t imagine who would make such a game and/or who would BUY this game. Maybe it’s me, and the fact that every day we’re hearing about new terrorist plots, that I can’t imagine making light of it this way. Then I also read this as a slap at the US which I also admit makes me angry and a bit reactionary.   Then again, for all I know somebody in the US created the boardgame and I just happened to run into it over here.  I still don't like it ;)

On to a happier note - we also saw this:

The best kind of snail.... fake

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

October 22, 2010 – Snow

I learned a new thing yesterday (reconfirmed today), it seems that when you live in Switzerland you know the elevation at which you live. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but yesterday I was informed that it had snowed the night before at 600 meters. I was then informed that we are located at 500 meters. The only response I could come up with was “Thank God for that extra 100 meters.” Then today my neighbor came home from a trip and remarked at how cold it is and that she could see that some of the “bare spots” on the mountains had been filled in with snow. So I mentioned that someone told me it had snowed at 600 meters. Her response… “Oh that is very close to us.”

I’m sure there is some practical reason for knowing the elevation, I just can’t think of one. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up in Connecticut and we don’t have significant changes in “elevation”. (At least not that I am aware of) That coupled with the somewhat factual running joke “we don’t have weather we get samples, wait 15 mins and it will be different,” has pretty much allowed me to take winter weather for granted. Basically, I’ve operated with the concept that if I had to go to work and it was snowing, I just left much earlier for the drive and drove more slowly. If anything, I was more inclined to watch the outside temperature gauge on the car when driving, because I might have left home with the temps in the mid 30’s and by the time I got across the state it might be well below freezing; It really only takes one car crash as a result of black ice to make you watch the temperature gauge.

Well, hell I’ve lost track of the point. Let’s just say “It’s cold here in Zurich, but the sun is out two days in a row.” Oh and I misplaced my snow hat.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 21, 2010 – Perceptions

This morning I got my hair cut, which obviously could be its own discussion but this is really about the fun conversation I had with the woman who cut my hair. It seems she has a cousin who lives in Ohio. My hairdresser wants to go visit New York and LA sometime, but she doesn’t want to go to Ohio and she really doesn’t want to go to Ohio… because…. The neighborhood and houses aren’t nice, they don’t look like the neighborhood on Desperate Housewives. Now I managed not to laugh too hard, all things considered she was wielding a sharp pair of scissors around my ears and I didn’t want to lose one. Then I had to explain that I imagined that most neighborhoods and houses in the US didn’t look like the one on Desperate Housewives and I would hope that most “neighbors” are as whacky as the Desperate Housewives either. The hairdresser was a little surprised that every house/neighborhood wasn’t like she saw on TV. Then bizarrely the conversation turned to Rock Hudson. She had been watching a documentary on his life and they said he was gay but he never said he was gay in any of the interviews he gave.

Hairdresser: Do you know the answer? Was he gay?

Me: Um, well I didn’t personally “know” Rock Hudson (how old does she think I am???) but I believe at the end of his life it came out that he was gay, yes.

Hairdresser: Well, why wouldn’t he just say he was?

Me: Well, I imagine that part of it would have been out of concern that it would have destroyed his career. He was supposed to be a ladies’ man and the romantic lead in films.

Hairdresser: Yes, but he was born in what… the 1950’s surely America is more progressive than that.

Me: Ummm, his career was in the 1950’s and no not really although it is certainly better now.

I mean seriously, how do you explain to someone what it’s like in the United States? Forget about the gay thing, I don’t know how you would explain what it’s like in the US for almost anything. The answer is almost always… “it depends”. Are you talking New England? The South? California? There are so many people with so many different backgrounds, religious and political beliefs, races, colors and by the way … nothing is what it appears to be like on TV. Heck even “Reality” TV isn’t “real” or at least it has no resemblance to my life or the lives of anyone else I know.

I’d like to be a fly on the wall when she someday makes it to NYC just to hear what her initial impression. I also wonder if she thinks it will be like the Sex in the City movie (which I have never seen). My own impression of NYC is based solely on having traveled in a few times for work a few day trips. Lots of people, cars, taxi’s and did I mention people?

I suspect that people in Zurich would be shocked to know that the city of Zurich reminds me of the City of New Haven or maybe more closely to areas in Boston. Mostly, because of its size and the general feel. Granted, I don’t have that many cities under my belt to compare it to. Paris reminds me of NYC. A nice place to visit but not somewhere I want to live.

Wow, and it just occurred to me; what are people from other countries thinking when they see “Reality TV?” No wonder people want to smack us.

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October 19, 2010 – My Trip To Mars

It started off as what under normal circumstances would be a routine trip to have winter tires put on the car. It’s certainly something I have experience with, for the last 10 years I have switched my cars’ tires over from all season to winter tires. It started as a result of a 50 mile one way commute to work across CT. With that kind of mileage I could guarantee that if I left for work in the morning and it was raining at home, at some point during the commute it would turn to slush/ice, and then by the time I hit Danbury/Ridgefield it would be snow. I’m quite familiar with the “salesman’s” attitude towards women. Usually, presented by some pre-college age boy who has been indoctrinated early into the auto worlds view that buy a car, tires, or having any repair done on said car requires the input of the woman’s husband. In my calmer moments I usually just smile and let the attitude roll right off me. (Right now my Dad is in tears laughing at that concept since I never have calm moments dealing with the condescension of any sale person male or female). I admit, I usually just go for zero to 60 and break out the Psycho Bitch From Hell persona. Sure I know that honey attracts more flies, but I’ve found that even more effective is the desperate need of the sale people/managers/store owners to get the crazy woman out of the building. I also find it particularly satisfying that when I return they refer to me by name, usually with a Ms. Politely place in-front. I can handle almost any attitude but I really hate when someone assumes I am an ignorant woman and then proceeds to tell me something that I know is factually incorrect. For example… putting two different treads on my car front and back when my car has all wheel drive; sure you can do that when the car is front wheel or rear wheel drive, but, but I’m going to believe consumer reports when they tell me its unsafe on 4 wheel or all wheel drive.

Needless to say I felt fairly confident in my ability to handle this transaction today. I almost completely forgot about the fact that I was in Switzerland. That puts an entirely new spin on things. How? Well, I successfully made the appointment with someone over the phone who understood a little English, so I assumed… hoped… prayed… that there would be someone there today who also spoke a little English. I arrive, pull into the drive way. Discover that workmen’s hand signal’s for STOP, Pull Over there, Good are all the same no matter what country you are in, but it all stops there. I get out of the car and no one in the bay area speaks English and they are going about their business as if I have a clue what I am supposed to do next. Park the car? Leave the Keys in the Car? Go to the Service Desk? Is there a service desk? Don’t I have to pick out tires? How do I pay? When do I pay? Well the quick answer to those questions is:

Yes, Yes, Yes, Sort of, No, I have no idea, and I still have no idea.

There I am standing in the middle of this service bay/parking garage like thing, looking around not having a clue where I am supposed to go now that I “parked” the car in the middle of the ramp or what I am supposed to do. I’m looking around at the signs on the walls and they don’t even vaguely look familiar. It’s at that very moment when I realized OMG I feel like I am on another planet. I finally spot a glass office with a bunch of people in it. Most of whom are on the phone but one guy comes up and says hello to me in Swiss German, I am proud to say I responded appropriately and then asked in German if he understood English. Yea, No. Um, and no; to the other 8 guys in the office. They finally get a girl who can speak English to whom I immediately apologize for the fact that my German is so awful and explain that I have an appointment but haven’t a clue how this is supposed to “work.” She tells me to hold on, calls some guy, while another guy starts yelling at her for calling the guy because from what I could gather the guy she was calling was in the service area. Eventually this man comes in from the service area, smiles and tells me I am all set, come back at “11” to which I say, don’t I have to “buy” tires? No and some other guy says “They are Free” and everyone laughs. The 1st guys repeats come back at 11, the funny guy says they will bill me (at least I think that is what he said) and I wandered away hoping that they don’t install some crazy 4,000 franc tires. No I don’t think they actually cost that much, but they could easily cost me 1,000 francs. Oye. Maybe this is what some of my friends mean when they say sometimes you just have to put it out there and let the universe take care of itself.

I got back at 11, realized I have no idea how to recognize which car is ours, since all grey audi’s look the same to me and lord knows I haven’t memorize the plate number. As I walk up the funny and turns out very nice guy pulls up with the car and hands me the keys. New tires on the car, old tires in the back. I’m good.

Mars – I’ll be back in the spring.

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 18, 2010 – Weekend Roundup & Snails

The weather really wasn’t cooperating this weekend, once again; a wet gray, cold weekend. I’m beginning to suspect that this “is” what fall feels like in Zurich. Saturday, I retired my regular jeans and broke out the flannel lined ones. They may look like old lady high waisted jeans but they are warm and at some point in life I gave up fashion for comfort. Ok, fine once the people who know me in real life stop laughing and saying “When has CAB ever been fashionable.” To you I say, I set my own fashion trends. “Casual Hobo”

Saturday we went to the Zurich Museum they are having a Picasso showing that opened on Friday and with the weather as it was we thought a nice indoor event would be perfect. It was actually pretty interesting. I’ve determined that I like Picasso’s earlier works when he was just getting into the geometric shapes and whatnot. Why? Because when I stand back and look at paintings I can still make out the underlying picture or say a woman in a chair. Although, I like the vibrant colors of he later works, no matter how many times you tell me that the swirl in the middle of the picture is a woman in repose, I still just see a swirl.

Sunday was mostly spent relaxing, and catching up on work (as was Saturday but I won’t mention that ;) ). Unfortunately it was also a day filled with “snailicides.” Don’t these things hibernate or something when it gets cold? Usually I’m pretty good about watching where I walk. In fact I am almost obsessive about it, but something went horrible wrong on Sunday. It started out with me taking the dog out in the morning. I saw the small snail in the driveway and avoided him. 30 mins later we’re coming back when I hear and feel “CRUNCH.” Seriously there is no going back when you hear that. It’s not like I can somehow retract my foot and make it all better. Apparently I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the snail as it lunged under my foot. What? Snails can lunge. It’s like those accident reports you read about “I don’t know officer I was driving along when the tree leapt in front of my car.” If a tree can do it a snail certainly can. I’m actually fairly certain it was a Kamikaze snail and that I heard a little tiny “aiiiieeeeeeeee” just before the crunch.

Later that night tragedy struck again, but this time I just kept walking as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, now the thought keeps running through my head that when I eventually die I’m going to be met at the gates of heaven and a Giant Saint Peter Snail will be there… or worse, I’ll die and be reincarnated as a snail… maybe even one of those icky snails without a home.

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010 – School

I have one class left to complete my certificate in Information Protection and Security. One class: one class, that I have been trying to schedule since January. The class I want to take is “Internet Investigations and Audit Based Computer Forensics” and it seems that the only time it was actually scheduled was last March. I didn’t register for it because we were in the middle of the big move. Now, 2 semesters later, it’s still not being offered and it’s not offered this winter, or the spring. UGH. Sure I could do it as an independent study, but honestly that requires a huge amount of work and I want to know that I am learning something not that I am teaching myself something. My options are also pretty limited because I obviously have to take this as an online course, the commute to class on campus would be just a bit much. So that leaves me with waiting or just taking SOMETHING to finish this up. There is an online course “Research Issues in Cyberterrorism” but that is not officially a part of the certificate program, at least not when I signed up. So, I guess I will be calling my advisor, who has no idea who I am, and asking for either (a) Recommendation on a course I can take or (b) Permission to take this one.

Wish me luck

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October 14, 2010 – Bidet

I know, I’m sitting here shaking my head I can’t believe I am going to even attempt to go here, but I am. I'm just chalking it up to the spirit of European Adventures. 

The apartment has 2 and ½ baths and in typically Swiss fashion each toilet has duel levers for water conservation. Low flush and high flush. No I’m not going there. Well, shortly after we settled in I came across an instruction manual for one of the toilets. If you are like me you’re first reaction is: “why do you need an instruction manual?” The second is: “I can’t read this because it’s in several foreign languages.” But hey, there are pictures which leads me to the conclusion that the toilet in the guest bath is equipped with a bidet. Let me just put this out there right now, I have never really encountered a bidet (they are not that popular in the US) before and frankly I’m a little afraid of them. When we did our Italy road trip there were bidet’s in the hotel’s and they did very little to reduce my fear. In fact my trepidation increased with the concept that I don’t know who cleans these things. Needless to say I have kept my distance, but I was still very curious about the that is built into our bathroom. Really how does that work, it just looks like a regular toilet.

Well, curiosity and ingenuity wins out. Technically you are supposed to sit on the toilet and using your left elbow push the lever and voila … something happens. Well I want to know how it “works” but don’t want to actually try it without seeing it 1st. Why? Because I have this crazy fear that something horrible will happen involving electricity and or just plain ol’ injury and I certainly don’t want to end up in a Swiss ER trying to explain that I was injured in an unfortunate Bidet accident… in German.

So, I figure out that if I lean on the toilet seat with my hands I can apply enough pressure for the toilet to think someone is sitting on it. Apparently, there has to be a certain amount of pressure on the seat for the bidet to operate. But, now I’m faced with how the heck do I press the lever? Oh and I have thought about, what if I press the lever and the water shoots out with A LOT of pressure? My face could intercept said water, which is a somewhat revolting thought. Again, no one said I was rational. Well it turns out that if you “Gently” press the lever with the top of your head while apply pressure to the seat with your hands (and one knee) an arm like lever slides out of back of the toilet bowl and spray’s water. Then a blow dryer kicks on. All of which I found fascinating and not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. Oh, did I try it? Yes, let’s just say it’s an interesting experience from that perspective as well.

Will I use a bidet in a hotel… not even if you were to pay me, I still don’t know who cleans them.

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 13, 2010 – The Sun Will Come Out… Tomorrow…

Well at least I hope that is the case, although I am extremely thankful that it’s not raining. That being said, if this foggy, grey weather is what Switzerland has in store for me the entire fall, and winter I’m going to be in a lot of trouble. The cold I can handle, that’s what they made flannel lined pants, hats, and layers for, the lack of sunshine. Not so much. Although, as I look around I realize every wall in my office is yellow, happy face yellow. I wonder if that was a deliberate choice made by the owners to compensate for the lack of sunshine.

On another “Kids can be funny” note: the other day I was walking through town to the COOP and a small blond boy, I’m guessing he was 2 or 3, was standing on the sidewalk with his umbrella. It wasn’t raining, but it appears he was using it as some sort of prop. Anyway, he was so proud of himself that when I got near him he shouted “HI! I WENT POOPIES!” Admittedly I don’t have children and I’m a little in the dark on what the appropriate response to that would be so I just ran with “Congratulations, that’s wonderful” and then walked way chuckling to myself. Partially, because I was also wondering… did he mean he went “poopies” right at that moment or was this earlier in the day, maybe while he was at home and in let’s say… the bathroom?

Which reminds me of stories my Mom has told my sister and I (we’re twins) about taking us to the grocery store. No, we did not announce our bathroom habits to strangers, at least not that I am aware of. However, we would say “Hi” to everyone we saw, and if for some reason they did not say Hi in return we would keep saying “Hi” because obviously they didn’t hear us. We learned how to stawn someone to death at an early age.

We were VERY cute

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

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 12, 2010 – PMS

I know, TMI but I need to blame something so I’m blaming PMS. No I did not kill anyone, in fact I am feeling surprisingly emotionally stable. Then again, I don’t have TV or radio so I haven’t seen/heard any of those insipid commercials that typically make me break out into tears at times like these. What commercials? Oh you know the ones, the heart wrenching OnStar commercials where the woman locks her keys in the car and calls OnStar and they magically unlock the doors. Exactly, there is nothing even remotely tear jerking about that, hence the emotionally unstable comment. Now I have to run out the door to meet my neighbor for a run.

Did you miss me? I know it’s almost as if I never left, but I did. I’m enjoying our runs. First it gets me out the door and off my butt. Second I get to talk to someone who talks back. Sure I talk to the beastly boy when I take him for a walk and often he twists his head around looking as if he is desperately trying to understand what I am saying. That or he’s desperately waiting for me to say “cookie” which he understands perfectly well. Unfortunately, beyond that he’s not the best conversationalist. Finally, I’m much better emotionally and mentally when I am working out with some level of consistency. I just generally feel better, more relaxed, more like myself.

It’s a good thing.

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

Monday, October 11, 2010

October 11, 2010 – Weekend Roundup

My neighbor and I went running Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Today, Monday, is a day of rest. Although rest and a dog don’t actually go hand in hand, so it’s more of a day where I just tok a long walk.

Cookies: I made chocolate chip cookies in Saturday. I was going to take a picture of them, but by the time I thought of it, I would have had t take a picture of an empty plate. Don’t worry Al, I gave a dozen to our neighbors downstairs. My general opinion is that there is no such thing as a bad chocolate chip cookie. There are just some cookies that need to be dunked in milk a little longer than others. These ones were a little dry, which tells me I just need more practice making them.

Pumpkins: We went to a pumpkin farm. Supposedly the largest pumpkin farm in Europe, but that little factoid is from a neighbor so it could be completely inaccurate. I am ashamed to say I forgot my camera. Now sure, once you’ve seen one pumpkin you’ve seen them all but that is not why I am sorry I forgot my camera. There were goats. Small goats and one of the goats had babies. I swear to God these baby goats were the size of 8 week old puppies. I want one. They were so cute. Although, like puppies they will eventually grow up and be goats and then I don’t really want one. People were putting their kids in the goat pen to pet the goats. I on the other hand was waiting for a goat to butt some unsuspecting child in the rear with his tiny horns. How can you expect anything else? Isn’t that what goats do? Oh and it was a good thing that the farm had turned off the electric fence to the goat pen, because there were quite a few children swinging from it.

Taxes: For those of you who don’t know, part of the deal for moving to Switzerland was that I wanted to be able to continue working. Which ultimately resulted in me: resigning from my job, starting my own company, and consulting with my former employer. All of which are good things, but the thing I find horribly stressful is managing all the finances. You would think it would be easy, and it mostly is, but I have to pay estimated Fed and State taxes, there are business filings and tracking expenses. All of which feed into my fear that I am going to screw something up and in doing so screw something up for L. Now, logic dictates that I can’t really screw anything up that badly, but when I am in the midst of tracking everything I still find it stressful. So, this year I am trying to think of it as a giant learning experience and next year I will have all this business stuff down. At least we can hope.

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

Friday, October 8, 2010

October 8, 2010 - Friday Nothingness

Yes, I admit it for some reason I am still on this weird baking I found baking soda!!! At least I think it is and based on google translate it seems to be “Natron Bicarbonate de sodium.” Ok sure I realize that for most human beings this is not that big a deal but it was purely by accident and I took a wild guess based on the picture on the package (a pretzel). The “sodium” part with the picture made me think that it was actually salt, but I couldn’t really fathom why you would buy a small envelope of salt. That and salt is called “Salz”. So as of this very moment I have all the ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies, my goal for Saturday. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that I don’t repeat the brownie mishap.

Running: My neighbor and I just got back from a run and somehow I managed to walk away with a giant piece of chocolate cake at the end. If I keep getting rewarded like that I may have to run more frequently.

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

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October 7, 2010 – Weird Weather

We’ve been having what I would call weird weather although I honestly couldn’t tell you if it’s weird for Zurich. Maybe after we’ve been here for a year I’ll have something to compare it to. However, it’s made for some interesting photos that I hope you enjoy.

This is the view from our balacony (zoomed) on Monday afternoon

 Tuesday late afternoon

The Sunset from Last Night. 
(I haven't decided which of these I want to have printed and framed yet)

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

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October 6, 2010 – Baggy Pants

I don’t actually understand the phenomenon of baggy, hangity down pants. You know the ones I’m talking about. They rear-end hangs down around the knees and the people wearing them need to wear long shirts or boxer shorts co cover their butts. I’ve even seen girls, not women, girls wearing these pants. Seriously, you normally wear a size 14, maybe a 16 jean so you go and but a pair that has a 48 inch waist so they can be properly baggy and hang down low. This is whyI pointed out that girls wear these and not women. I don’t know any women who would willingly buy a pair of jeans for themselves that were BIGGER than they need. Heck, I’ve known women to buy the correct size for themselves and to sew on a new levi’s tag that said they were a size smaller.

Anyway, I was just remarking to L the other day that I think I’ve become my mother (no offense Mom). Every time I see a young kid with his pants hanging down around his knees I want to yell “Pull Up Your Pants!” My inside voice is screaming it. “PULL THEM UP!” My outside voice remains quiet. Although, I do run the risk of some day thinking I am using my inside voice and actually saying it outloud.

Do these boy’s not understand that there are plenty of girls out there who enjoy the view of a guy in a nicely fitted pair of jeans?

The irony of my recent revelation is that today I read the following headline: “Tenn. Teen shot in behind over sagging pants.” Apparently it’s just a flesh wound but I had to laugh. I know I shouldn't laugh but there is just so many things funny and wrong with this story, and fortunately no one was hurt seriously.

It seems that some guy saw a pair of youth’s with bagging pants and he yelled at them to pull up their pants. They chose to ignore him and an argument ensued. It seems this gentleman was so incensed by the bagging hangity down jeans and the lack of fashion sense that he pulled out a semi-automatic weapon and threatened to shoot the boys. It goes on to say that the boys attempted to run away, always a good option when faced with a crazy man, although it might have been easier to pull up their pants but who knows maybe by then it was too late and Mr. Crazy was determined to make an example out of the baggy pants boys. While running away, one of the boys was shot in the behind.

Do you know what the lesson in that was? If they weren’t wearing pants hanging down to their knees (I’m just guessing on the bagginess) they could have run away faster or done the serpentine to avoid getting shot. Really how fast can you run with your pants falling down?

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

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 5, 2010 – Aliens

I was going to tell you about the rest of our trip Saturday. The running of the cows was in the town next to the town of Gruyere, famous for their wonderful cheese, the walled village, and the Museum dedicated to H.R. Giger’s Alien. I was extremely excited to go, because I enjoy sci-fi and I really enjoy a movie where a women gets to carry weapons, kick butt and doesn’t die in the 1st 2 minutes so that the real hero can take over.

My expectations: Go to the museum, see some really cool Alien Movie Paraphernalia. You have to figure between Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, and Alien: Resurrection that there would be all sorts of interesting things.

Reality: In a nut shell, Alien Erotica, Alien Porn, and a little Alien Demonology thrown in for good measure.

I will never be able to watch any of the Alien movies in the same light again. Somehow, I did not anticipate that the original vision Giger had of the Alien was so highly sexualized. Don’t get me wrong, his drawings/renditions were often amazing but considering the reality was so out of line with my expectations I was more disturbed by many of the images than anything else. After viewing one particular piece, I couldn’t imagine how Giger doesn’t wake up screaming in the middle of the night if these are the images racing around in his head. The piece itself was a trio of floor to ceiling pictures (I am not sure of the medium). The two outer pictures had two main focal points, an alien and a large Jewish star that surrounded the alien. These two pictures flanked the middle one, which was Giger’s rendition of Satan as he sits on his throne. Turns out these three are part of the Tarot Cards to the Underworld.

But hey here is a couple pictures I can share with you…

The Village of Gruyere from outside the walls

As you walk into the village

The view from the main walkway

 Artwork outside the Giger Musuem

 The view from the Chalet

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

Monday, October 4, 2010

October 4, 2010 - Running with The Cows…

 …the kinder gentler version of running with the bulls.

L and I went to Albueve Saturday morning to watch the annual decent of the cows. The cows are herded down the mountain before winter and there are lots of celebrations in the various towns.

The people herding the cows dress in “tradional garb” and the cows are sometimes decorated with flowers and whatnot.

I actually think it’s just another excuse for people to drink beer at 9:00 in the morning. L and I skipped that part of the tradition and opted for a homemade jelly donut (me) and some sort of tart thing (L).

I was actually pretty excited about seeing the cow parade. There is no explanation for it, I just was, besides cows are cute. I even pet this one; a little, on the nose, but then it looked at me with that eye and despite its extreme cuteness I was a little afraid of it.

Just look at it, its head is HUGE and I didn’t want to make it nervous and have it bite my hand off. I can see the headline:   “Swiss Cow Chomps American’s Hand For Violating Common Cow Courtesy.”

Then they announce the cows are coming, in French (I know you were waiting for me to say in German, but we were in the French speaking section of Switzerland. L understands French. I understand Freedom Fries.)

Everyone lined up on the street behind the protective barrier. I think yellow strip of tape you might see on CSI posing as crime scene tape. It starts, and those cows are moving; running in fact. Next thing you know, it’s over. That’s it? A handful of cows racing by and all I got was this lousy picture?
Then I spotted the guys bringing up the rear so to speak and I thought, "well heck I might not have gotten any cool pictures but at least I'm not cleaning up after the cows.

It turns out that I am just a little too quick on the draw, there were more cows coming. This is, in fact, an all day event. There were 10 herds coming down the mountain and they were timed. Every ½ hour another herd came through.

We were in a better position with the next herd. The cows still made me a little nervous, especially when an occasional rogue cow would make a break for it and veer towards the crowd. If those particular cows had bubble over their heads they may have said something like:

“Get this damn bell off me, it’s heavy.”

“What’s with these crazy people, they are scaring me.”
“Why do we have to walk so far when I was happy eating grass on the mountain?”

Btw – this is Steve, at least that is what his collar said, he was one of the running rogue cows.

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

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 3, 2010 – When Brownies Go Bad

Who knew that brownies could go so wrong so quickly? No not the “pre girl-scout” Brownie. Although having been a “Brownie” for an entire day I can attest to the fact that they are not always what they seem, but that is another story for another time. Today I’m discussing “brownies” that chocolaty gooey kind of cake like substance that you eat. You would think that making a batch of brownies would be easy. Seriously, how difficult could it been when you are using a brownie mix? Add and egg, some butter, nuts, water, mix, bake, eat. Not necessarily in that order, except for the eat part. You really want to cook them before you eat them.

You all know that I’ve been Jones-ing for chocolate chip cookies, but I haven’t found the ingredients I need to actually make them; specifically basic flour. Sure I found the “word” in German for flour but the shelves in the grocery store have all these crazy flours that look like they are “bread specific”; as in, rye bread or St. Gallen bread. Can I use flour that has a picture of bread on it for cookies? Rather than make myself insane I knew I had a box of brownie mix at home so I decided that I would make that today. I’d made a batch of Swiss Brownies once before with some success. Surely I could repeat that process.   Um, not so much.

Now first, let me point out this is not the same brand of brownies I had bought last time, it’s from a different store and therefore slightly different. It doesn’t matter, I’m confident and despite the fact that the directions are in German, French and some other yet to be determined language, probably Italian, there are also pictures. Who can’t interpret pictures? The egg looks like an egg, butter… yes I understand that. Oh-oh, water… no picture of water. I scan the directions and it says “2 Esslöffel Wasser (20 g).” Turns out google translate has no idea what an “Esslöffel” is, neither do I.  So, I try the French “2 cs d’eau.”  Somehow this comes up as 2 cups of water. Ok yes, even I recognize that this seems VERY odd. I have never made brownies with that much water but what do I know, this is Switzerland and their brownies are more cake like. Regardless, I still hesitated before throwing the water in, thinking “this doesn’t seem right”.  I also very briefly tried to figure out what heck 20 grams of water would look like. It turns out that I should have hesitated to the point of going back to google and trying again, because as I type this I returned to google and the French translation is more like 2 TABLESPOONS of water.

So if anyone needs a brownie that has the consistency of silly putty, I’ve got them.

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

Friday, October 1, 2010

October 1, 2010 - Reminiscing

This is kind of strange but I have been having the urge to bake. Seriously, I have no idea what that is about, but it’s not even random baking, I want to bake chocolate chip cookies. If I want to get all psychoanalytical about it I could say it’s because I’ve been thinking of my Grandmother lately and I associate chocolate chip cookies with her; Sunday dinners and chocolate chips. Not that they went together but those are my two main memories.

When we were little and my Grandfather was also alive we would have Sunday dinner at my Grandmother’s house. Honestly I have no idea if this was every Sunday or not, but my memory makes it feel like it was every Sunday. We would go to Sunday mass with my Mom and Dad and my Grandparents would be there, then we would ask my Grandparents if we could come over for dinner and they would tell us to ask Mom and Dad. So of course we would run over to our parents and tell them that Grammy and Grampy invited us for dinner. I don’t think we were fooling anyone. As we got older and after my Grandfather died, my Gram started coming to our house for Sunday dinner; still the same tradition, just a new venue. Gram could NOT arrive empty handed. Sometimes she would bring ice cream other times she would bring tollhouse chocolate chip cookies.

Later after I was old enough to drive and my Gram had stopped driving one of us would pick her up so she could come to Sunday dinner. It’s funny, as far as I can remember I always liked picking her up. When I was living in my own house my Gram would suggest that it was too far to come get her and I would point out that I was going to Mom’s for dinner anyway and that I might as well pick her up. She was only five miles away.

On these brief trips she would ask how work was, if I liked driving (she taught herself how to drive on the farm and I don’t think she really “enjoyed” driving so much as it got her from point A to point B), if I was dating anyone. Years later, when her Alzheimer’s started to kick in I would pick her up and we would still have the same conversation, except that we might have it several times on the same trip. I never minded, there was some comfort in the conversation and it would give me an opportunity to ask her when she was going to introduce me to someone, which would make us both laugh.

Today I wonder what my Gram would think of my life if she were alive today. I suspect she would be awed a little bit by the fact that I am temporarily living in another country. I also think she’d be proud of me.

So here's to Grams and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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