Sunday, October 30, 2005

Warning! This post will offend normal people AND Republicans...

I'm tired. I've been coughing like crazy for the last week. I don't know if it's bird flu, TB, a dirty airplane, or just regular old coughing. It seems to be getting slightly better. I haven't slept well at all since Tuesday night. I'm pretty damn tired.

On Wednesday I went with BST to see a friend's band play at the Lager House. The band was okay, but the singer really sucked. Hopefully they'll figure that out. Friday I went out for drinks with one of the waitresses from the restaurant job. That was nice. I haven't done that in a while. She's a friend and it was really cool to hang with her for a while. Last night was fun. I had to work until 9:00PM, but I then headed to a friend's Halloween/Tactometer birthday party. I put my costume together the night before at 3:00AM. It didn't cost a thing either. I went as Tom Delay's mugshot. Some of the costume highlights were Awesome-o (Southpark), members of Steve Zissou's Life Aquatic crew, and J. Edgar Hoover in drag (BST). As always, it was fun sitting around chatting with college friends. It pays that some of your friends become doctors because they've got some kick-ass stories.

The sickest story that I heard was this...
(Feel free to skip if you are easily offended)

Apparently there was this flamboyantly gay guy that came to the hospital with a UTA (Urinary Tract Infection). I guess it's pretty rare for guys to get UTA's. It's mostly associated with women. The man was treated, but came back about two weeks later with another UTA. The doctor thought that this was very odd, and asked what the guy had been doing. The guy replied that he was a "Decanter". The doctor was of course puzzled and asked him what this meant. Apparently the guy works at a gay bar as a "Decanter". This supposedly means that he shoves a catheter up his one-eyed trouser snake and fills his bladder with wine, and then acts as a "Decanter" to the clubgoers for big-ass tips. Dumb-ass. I hope to never have a catheter up my business if you know what I mean. The thought of that makes me squirm more than anything...except for the possibility that Carrot Top may possibly make another movie some day. Sorry if you read that...

Yup. Doctors have great stories...and wedding photographers.

It's certainly no joy to be back to work (or this country for that matter). I need a vacation from vacation. Lots of odd things going on at work (none of them for the good). Lots of customers losing jobs too (Ford and even medical). Times are tough. I was supposed to get tickets to today's Lions game from one of the players, but alas I did not. Probably for the best seeing as they lost. I stayed home today and made a pretty kick-ass porkloin. Emeril Lagasse is right about one thing and one thing only, "Pork fat rules!"

I brought back so much chocolate from Switzerland that I haven't eaten it all yet. I'm doing my part, but still haven't tackled the pile in its entirety.

I'm ecstatic over the withdrawal of Harriet Miers and now I'm doing cartwheels over the "Scooter" Libby indictment (Not really. I can't do carwheels and it wouldn't be a pretty sight if I could.). I just hope that he doesn't draw fire away from everybody else under investigation. His nickname is "Scooter". Was he ever associated with NASCAR? There is a commonality between the idiocy of NASCAR and the idiocy of the current administration. It seems that members of both camps have a tendency to drool, shoot things for fun, count on their fingers, and create smokescreens (caused by burning oil). I've hear a rumor that Dubya is going to choose former NASCAR marketing phenom Cletus Buford Taintlicker for his next Supreme Court Justice candidate. The Texas wunderkind is known for his chaw habit, his extremist anti-abortion stance, his hatred of homosexuals, his love of tater-tots, his form-fitting Grand Dragon robe with shoulder pads and hood, his 19 year journey with Hooked on Phonics, his disregard of separation of church and state, his love of coloring books and Play-Doh, his dislike of vegetables and free-thinkers, and his Simian-like traits. He is married to Lulu May Dingleberry-Taintlicker. He met the love of his life when his mother gave birth to her. They have one son/brother, one daughter, and one banjo-pluckin' mutant that resembles a cross between a goat and George C. Wallace. The perfect nominee...

Don't forget to vote in your upcoming local elections! I can't vote in the Detroit election, but I sincerely hope that Freman Hendrix wins and saves the city that Kwame destroyed. The Dearborn election promises to be lots of fun too!

Indict Dubya!

Random poll- Why are fundamentalists friends with the devil (Cheney)?

Random poll #2- What is your least favorite Halloween treat (not including Candy Corn, Circus Peanuts, or apples)?

You Are

An Angry Pumpkin Face

You would make a good smashed pumpkin.

Halloween Horoscope for Virgo

Eh, Halloween is not exactly you favorite holiday.
You costume is usually pretty simple - if it exists at all.

Costume suggestions: A scary mask or whatever you wore last year

Signature Halloween candy: Tootsie Pops

Happy Halloween! Hope you get lots of candy!!!


Friday, October 28, 2005

Scary blog quiz...

You Are Creepy

Serial killers would run away from you in a flash.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Harriet Miers withdraws!
(She didn't like Senators asking her questions...)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I did not know that...

I was watching "I Love the 80's 3-D" tonight on VH1 and learned something new...23 years later. I did not know that the song "Rosanna" by Toto was about Rosanna Arquette. I did not know that...

Maybe I led a sheltered life, but I never heard of Freakie Freezies gloves until tonight's episode on 1982 (or was it 1983?). They say that they were HUGE, but I never heard of them at all. Maybe the commercials didn't air in Oregon, because it didn't snow much in the Willamette Valley in the winter. I watched a lot of TV in the 80's so I'm sure I would have remembered. I remembered the Monchichi song from the commercials...

I was reading some scary shit in the new Rolling Stone. Apparently Harriet Miers is not only an evangelical Christian, but a fundamentalist that belongs to a church that preaches "biblical inerrancy" - the belief that every word of the Bible is literally accurate. Valley View Christian church in Dallas, Ms. Miers' church, feels that abortion and homosexualiaty are at the center of a "vortex of evil". (Here's a link to the church.) She spent 7 years on the missions board. Their church supports missionary work in countries where proselytizing is illegal (ie. Afghanistan and Uzbekistan) and prides itself in its work among "Hindu extremists". If she's confirmed she'll be the first full-blown fundamentalist Christian in American history to sit on the Supreme Court. She's never been a judge either. Scared yet???

Here's a link to a interesting things also found in the new Rolling Stone. "Taking Stock" and "Saving Fluffy" are especially interesting. Find out how much money Dick Cheney is making off of Halliburton. Cheney insists he has "no financial in Halliburton of any kind."

There's also a very interesting article on the "intelligent design" debate in a Pennsylvania court. Here's the link, again, to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It's pretty damn funny, but very clever at the same time. Definitely worth checking out.

This country is scaring the shit out of me. Thank "nameless/formless/denomonationless Deity" for "Flying Spaghetti Monsters" and the people who have the balls to write about and passionately pursue such things. I'm especially grateful to those who have the guts to fight for what should be common-sense. Religion is fine and good, but it does not belong in government or public schools...especially fundamentalism. If fundamentalism takes over we're all screwed.

On a lighter note...
VH1's Reuniting the Band is on behind me right now. It's the episode with Berlin. What a great band! I used to think that Terri Nunn was so hot. She still looks and sounds great!


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

AFI Top 100, Rosa Parks, and Tom Delay smiles Satanically...

Julie had a great idea. She noted which movies she had seen of the AFI Top 100 movies of all time. I guess I'll just copy her idea. The movies that are highlighted are the ones that I've seen.

The Complete List:

1. CITIZEN KANE (1941)

2. CASABLANCA (1942)




6. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)

7. THE GRADUATE (1967)



10. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)




14. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)

15. STAR WARS (1977)

16. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)


18. PSYCHO (1960)

19. CHINATOWN (1974)



22. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)


24. RAGING BULL (1980)


26. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)





31. ANNIE HALL (1977)


33. HIGH NOON (1952)








41. WEST SIDE STORY (1961)

42. REAR WINDOW (1954)

43. KING KONG (1933)




47. TAXI DRIVER (1976)

48. JAWS (1975)





53. AMADEUS (1984)



56. M*A*S*H (1970)

57. THE THIRD MAN (1949)

58. FANTASIA (1940)



61. VERTIGO (1958)

62. TOOTSIE (1982)

63. STAGECOACH (1939)



66. NETWORK (1976)



69. SHANE (1953)


71. FORREST GUMP (1994)

72. BEN-HUR (1959)


74. THE GOLD RUSH (1925)


76. CITY LIGHTS (1931)


78. ROCKY (1976)

79. THE DEER HUNTER (1978)

80. THE WILD BUNCH (1969)

81. MODERN TIMES (1936)

82. GIANT (1956)

83. PLATOON (1986)

84. FARGO (1996)

85. DUCK SOUP (1933)



88. EASY RIDER (1969)

89. PATTON (1970)

90. THE JAZZ SINGER (1927)

91. MY FAIR LADY (1964)

92. A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951)

93. THE APARTMENT (1960)

94. GOODFELLAS (1990)

95. PULP FICTION (1994)

96. THE SEARCHERS (1956)


98. UNFORGIVEN (1992)



Guess there's a few that I've got to add to my Netflix queue...

Thank goodness there's another "I Love the 80's" (3D) on VH1. I know what I'm doing this week. Thank you VH1!

On a somber note...
A sad farewell to Rosa Parks

On a lighter note...
Have you seen Tom Delay's mugshot? That's some scary shit!

Now compare it to some other celebrity mugshots...

I'd have to say that the Tom Delay mugshot is by far the scariest of them all. Let's hope that his request for a change of judges doesn't come to fruition.


Another blog quiz...

You Should Be a Flying Monkey for Halloween!

You Should Be a Flying Monkey for Halloween!

Blog quizzes are easier than really posting...

You Are Italian Food

Comforting yet overwhelming.
People love you, but sometimes you're just too much.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Not very manly...

You Are 40% Boyish and 60% Girlish

You are pretty evenly split down the middle - a total eunuch.
Okay, kidding about the eunuch part. But you do get along with both sexes.
You reject traditional gender roles. However, you don't actively fight them.
You're just you. You don't try to be what people expect you to be.

Candy quiz...


They call you sticky fingers for a reason!

A Seinfeldian post (a post about nothing)...

Last week I was going to post about Charles Rocket (ie. "Where are they now?") as a joke. That was about a day or two before I found out that he killed himself. I guess I'll try not to post about other former or current SNL members...

Sorry, Charlie.

It sucks to be back in the U.S.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Whew! I passed 8th grade math...

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 9/10 correct!

Friday, October 21, 2005


Hey kids! I'm back! I'm trying to reacclimate myself to my Detroit environs. I'm tired, pooped, exhausted... The jetlag is kicking in a little late. I also didn't sleep very well on the trip. But here I am. I can tell you that it's a great joy to be back to work... I got home at about 9:30PM on Tuesday and went in to work on Wednesday. I'm currently (at this very moment)uploading pictures to Flickr. Click on the Flickr badge to see my pics. I have not included any family pics as to respect their privacy. I don't have any tags on anything yet, but I'll go back later and add them (as best as I can from memory). There's lots of church pictures as there are lots of churches. I have to figure out if I can all of my pics on one disc and how to do it. I'll be ordering prints from Snapfish eventually, but I still have to download the pics to my account. Anyway...

I saw the most ingenious invention of all time at O'Hare Airport the other day. I was in the mensroom when I encountered the supertoilet. In the stall was an electronic eye that triggers the toilet to change its own sanitary seat cover (ass-gasket). Wave your hand and a new sanitary seat cover wraps itself around the seat. Genius!!! I don't know if this is the same brand, but you can get an idea of what I'm talking about by clicking on this link.

I should be back to regular posting by this weekend. Hopefully I'll have some tags on my pics too.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Yes...yes they do make a pop out of milk. And yes, that does excite me...´s been a long two weeks. I go to Zurich airport in the morning and get hurled through the air in an uncomfortable aluminum tube to Chicago and then Detroit at about 8:30PM or so. Then it´s off to work in the morning...I could really use a vacation.

Today was mostly spent with family, but I did finally get some "me" time as I had about three hours to walk around Schaffhausen. I spent the time shopping and window shopping. I spent most of the time looking for gifts, but I didn´t find much. (Stores are closed on Sundays and on Monday mornings...and some don´t even open Mondays.) Don´t expect anything, but I managed to pick up a few´ll probably get some chocolate. (Hey BST- Your wish has come true.) Anyway...I´ve got to start packing. I´ve got some homemade hooch to smuggle...

Swiss Observations
Coca Cola is made with sugar here instead of corn syrup. Maybe that´s why it´s 6 Francs.

Rivella still tastes good. I haven´t had a Rivella in 17 years. I had a hankerin´ for one before the trip was over. Rivella is a Swiss carbonated soft drink made from milk...go figure. (It doesn´t taste like milk, but I don´t know how to describe it. It has a sort of ammonia-like quality, but in a good way...

When I get home I´m gonna slam a gallon of cold skim each his/her own. Also some ice water (non-carbonated).

Random poll- Are you an "Ugly American"?

See you soon...if Swissair doesn´t kill me first.



A quick supplement to yesterday´s post...

Sandals and socks should never be worn together, regardless of sock color (with the occasional Birkenstock exception).

Europeans still remember Dallas and Dynasty in great detail. Alf is currently a popular show. That should say something about European TV. Gallagher could potentially be what Jerry Lewis is to France...

Apparently the people of Switzerland are under complete control of the two major competing supermarkets...Migros and Co-Op. They´re everywhere...

Still can´t get used to the European keyboard...

Today is lunch at the retirement home and then some shopping...

Random Poll- Who´s career has fallen worse into the gutter? Steve Guttenberg or Judge Reinhold?

Random Poll #2- What´s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?

Random Poll #3- If you were a bowl of soup, what kind would you be?

Random Poll #4- Based solely on acting ability, who is the better actor, Steven Seagal or Jean Claude VanDamme? (Tough one, isn´t it?)


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ticino, lots of food, Southland Mall in Europe, dried pee, and small poisonous "weepers"...

Grüezi kids! I hope that all is well with everyone. I´m back in Schaffhausen and have access to a computer again. I had a great time in Bosco Luganese (a small suburb in the hills overlooking Lugano in Kanton Ticino...the Italian speaking section).

We left Schaffhausen on Tuesday morning by mini-van. We stopped in Thürn for a wonderful lunch. Everyone had the more expensive deer tenderloin special, but I opted for the cheaper but more interesting deer special (sorry Bambi). It consisted of slow cooked pieces of lamb (leg,shank, rib, etc.) in a very rich brown sauce with walnuts, white grapes, and pearl onions. It was served with spätzle, red cabbage, brussel sprouts, and a baked half-pear with red currants. It was really fantastic and enjoyed outdoors under the mountain sun with a bottle of merlot from Ticino. It was sort of a quaint place with a view of mountains, cows, and the occasional train. Some of the customers were nut-job bicyclists. It´s nuts to ride a bike in the´s hard and involves physical exertion. We made our way south after espresso and dessert and decided not to go through the 17km St. Gotthard tunnel. We decided instead to go for the more scenic route...driving over the St. Gotthard pass. It´s pretty crazy, but beautiful. I recommend that you have a good transmission and brakes if you ever decide to make the trip yourself. The sun was out and everything was honky dory, but the clouds/fog took over near the snowy top. We were driving through pure, dense fog for several kilometers at a comfortably slow pace. Eventually we came out of the clouds on the way downhill (the Ticino side), but the weather was grey and overcast. We did stop at a St. Gotthard cheese producer and picked up some cheese as well as a glance at their operation. Pretty cool.

In time we eventually made our way to Lugano and ultimately Bosco Luganese. The road up to Bosco Luganese is narrow, winding, steep, and treacherous. I'm used to a very flat Michigan. I can handle Detroit traffic and driving, but I don´t think I'd be comfortable driving up giant hills like this. Maybe if the traffic was one way. Some idiots even bike it...healthy idiots! The crazy thing is that there is a Post Bus that drives up and down most of the day. I could see myself getting run off the road by a bus if I don´t get crushed by it. We finally arrive at ca´ Serafino. This house was built/designed by my very talented architect uncle. It´s essentially an old stone farmhouse, but has been completely redone on the inside with hand-molded cavern-style walls. The house is really a masterpiece. He also built a house next door out of an old shed for his daughter, her husband, and their three kids. Also very, very beautiful. The property has a pond, grape vines, fig trees, some other kind of fruit tree (the fruit looks like a cross between an apple, a peach, and a tomato), chestnut trees (chestnut trees are everywhere in Switzerland and this is the season...Marroni Vermicelli mit Rahm is everywhere...that´s a chestnut puree with sugar in the form of a vermicelli pasta shape served with whipped cream). It´s really an idyllic setting. We enjoyed a simple, but fantastic risotto made with saffron and wild mushrooms that had just been found in the woods nearby). Very nice.

I don´t remember what we had for lunch on Wednesday at the moment, but I know it included a salad. Every meal includes a salad. I know that it was good...whatever it was. Wednesday night my cousin and her family joined us for dinner and her husband grilled veal two ways in the fireplace...fantastic! Wait! I remember! How could I forget grilled Bratwurst followed by roasted chestnuts???

(I´m not going to go into to many family details, but just give you the skinny on the food.)

I believe it was Wednesday night that we watched the Swiss national soccer team tie Ireland. Ireland is eliminated from the European championships...Switzerland has to defeat Turkey next to remain qualified to continue.

Thursday I made a simple bacon and onion omelette for lunch and I made spaghetti bolognese for dinner (not enough uncle picked up some stuff from a shopping list, but the cans of tomatoes here are a lot smaller than those in the US).

Friday my cousin drove me down the crazy hill to Lugano itself. We stopped by her husband´s family sporting goods store (Balmelli Sport is the best place to buy whatever you´re looking for if you´re in the vicinity of southern Switzerland or Milan). We joined him for an espresso next door and then we made our way to the city center and the piazza. We walked the old streets and looked at the plethora of very expensive stores. I bought some wine at a local store (gifts for some people here). The entire store is about the size of the area where we keep our shopping carts. There is a wonderful outdoor market on Fridays and it was very nice to look at, but very expensive. A single pomegranate was 6 Francs a piece! I took some pictures and drooled over the white and black truffles from Alba. The lake was pretty hazy, but the sun was out. Not good for pictures...

We stopped at the butcher and picked up the lamb for dinner. For lunch we had a boiled white sausage similar to Bratwurst and a salad. I was also in charge of dinner on Friday. I made braised lamb out of stew meat (they didn´t have the shank meat that I wanted). I did a simple braise...I gently coated the lamb in seasoned flour and browned it in oil in a Dutch oven (in increments), removed the lamb from the pot, sauteed the mirepoix (carrots, onion, celery), added dried oregano, garlic, and a bay leaf, then deglazed the pot with a little red wine. After deglazing I added the meat back to the pot, poured in some red wine and stock, and brought it to a boil. Once it hit a boil I turned the heat way down, covered it, and let it gently simmer for about 4 hours. Chronologically before this I made the dessert. I made a fruit trifle out of lady fingers dipped in orange juice, topped with whipped cream, then a blend of currants, blueberries, raspberries, lemon juice, and sugar. Repeat. Then topped with more whipped cream and garnished with fruit and shaved dark chocolate. Delish! (Imagine a fruit tiramisu). Very easy to make too! Everyone got together for dinner on Friday and we enjoyed an endive and tomato salad, mashed potatoes, and green beans with the lamb. Everyone thought I did a great job, so that was pretty cool.

I managed to finish Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell as well as David Sedaris´ new book Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy. Both were fantastic reads. I read both of them in a day and then had nothing left to read...

On Saturday morning my mother and I said our goodbyes and my cousin and two of her kids took us to the trainstation. We barely made train. We had to settle for some seats near a guy that smelled of dried pee. We enjoyed some Schinkenbrot (ham sandwiches) on the train (I had a major craving for some Schinkenbrot and it really hit the spot as I hadn´t had any yet on the trip). We arrived in Zurich and put our luggage in a locker. We walked around the Bahnhofstrasse and central district near the train station. We stopped at Globus for a look. Globus is a really cool department store (think Marshall Field´s-ish, but way cooler...and more expensive). There´s a beautiful grocery store on the basement floor with caviar and any other snooty thing you could imagine. We left Globus to walk around a bit more an grab something to eat. We decided to eat at the Feldschlossen Bier restaurant. I ordered the Walliserösti. It was hashbrowns with Schweinshnitzel (pork), tomatoes, melted cheese, and covered with a fried egg. Heaven on a bun (without the bun)! I had a dunkel style beer with it. Very nice. I had a craving for a cook so I shelled out the 6 Francs or so and got a large fountain was cold AND it came with ice! Heaven again! I´m not the average ugly American, but sometimes I want my drink COLD! I´ve gotten used to a few things in America. Although it may not make any difference whether a drink is served cold or at room temperature it at least feels more refreshing if it´s cold. I ended the lunch with a citron sorbet (lemon). We made our way back to the train station, gathered our stuff, looked at the crazy lady (apparently she´s there ever day), found our track, and waited for the track to Buläch/Neuhausen/Shaffhausen. We made it to Schaffhausen, got on the #3 bus, got out at right stop, and walked up the hill to my uncle´s. He prepared a very simple meal of boiled potatoes served with your choice of cheeses (the selection included Appenzeller, Gruyere, Limburger, Sbringd, a soft cheese with caraway, and about 3 other cheeses that I can´t recall the names of. My aunt picked me up after dinner and drove me to Alfred´s. I had 39 e-mails waiting for me (mostly junk). I checked my work e-mail and hope that someone has followed up on one very specific one. It could be bad if they don´t.

This morning I enjoyed a soft boiled egg, toast, bread, butter, preserves, Appenzeller cheese, Gruyere cheese, Jura cheese, OJ, and coffee. My aunt then drove us into Germany to visit the site of a synagogue that had been destroyed during the war. The memorial site was very serene and simple. It really makes one reflect. We also looked at the Jewish school and cemetary nearby. We left Germany, drove the Kanton Thurgau, crossed the Rhein into Kanton Schaffhausen to the very old and beautiful town of Stein am Rhein. It´s really very beautiful and ancient. We then picked up my mother and grandmother and drove to Alfred´s to have merangue with whipped cream and coffee. Very nice indeed! We played a Swiss board game and then my aunt dropped off my aunt and grandmother which leaves me to right now...I don´t know what´s for dinner, but it smells good...maybe soup.

More Swiss Observations...

I´m really glad I´m not a Swiss Catholic. The churches are all in the damndest places. They´re always in the most prominent, highest, hardest to reach places. I guess the church really does want you to suffer. Swiss hills suck! I don´t think that they had parking lots in mind when they built the churches hundreds of years ago...

Although I´ve certainly witnessed a lot of superior European fashion, I´ve also seen a lot of casualties. I know that the Europeans are supposed to have the edge on us Americans, but I´ve seen a lot of fashion don´ts. It´s like there´s another Southland Mall, but in Switzerland. I always get a kick out of the shirts that have English writing on them, but the words seem to be completely random and don´t make any sense. Just imagine a shirt saying "Mushroom Tickle Good Time Surf Fun Team". I haven´t actually seen that one yet...

A snake is called a "Schlange" in German. It´s funny to be able to say Schlange in front of my mom.

Speaking of Schlanges...there are a lot of snakes (and lizards) in Ticino. There are small, poisonous vipers. Here they are pronounced "weepers". I just think that´s kind of funny.

"Rösti" is essentially the national dish. It´s hashbrowns. Although every family and restaurants makes it a little differently (by the bacon, onions, etc.).

If you´re ever on a Swiss train and have to sit by a guy with no front teeth, smells of dried pee, and spends 4 months a year in Thailand...he´s probably pretty interesting.

Damn it to hell, but it´s hard to get a cold drink around here...

Tschau for now,

(I leave in two days...)

Monday, October 10, 2005

"Breakin´ 2- Lamb Vindaloo"

This will be a short one. I traveled to the Rhein Falls today as well as a beautiful old Kloster (Cloister) on an island in the Rhein. I had lunch at an Italian/Indian restaurant today with my aunt. Yup. Italian and Indian. I had the lamb Vindaloo. It was quite good, but a little mild for my American palate. I asked for it "medium hot" as "hot" has a tendency to often be incindiary in American Indian restaurants (not Native American). We had a family reunion/dinner of sorts at the Altersheim (retirement home) in the Bibliotek room (library room). It was quite nice to see my aunt, uncle, cousin, and her husband again. Tomorrow morning I travel to Lugano by car including a 17 kilometer tunnel at the St. Gotthard Pass. I don´t know if I´ll have computer access, so tschau for now. Check in a couple days...maybe I´ll have access. I will have access to this computer again by late next weekend.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

6 hours ahead and 200 years behind...

Hallo! Wie geht es ihnen? It´s Sunday in Switzerland and I´m still alive.

Friday was fun. I´m a little fuzzy on the details, but I remember having lunch with my aunt a supermarket buffet (Co-op). It was surprisingly better than most American restaurants. We also shopped and ran a few errands and then drove into a small ancient town (Angefingen?) and had some dessert (Mango sorbet with raspberry liquor and an espresso). I took some cool pics of a Schloss (castle) and park and we then met my mom and Oma in Schaffhausen to take Oma to an eye-doctor´s appointment. My mom and I walked around a small farm market and the museum while we waited. We also managed to find a replacement watch-band for one of my watches and joined my aunt and Alfred at the Kino (cinema) and we watched The Woodsman. It was very good. A great performance from Kevin Bacon. After the movie we went to a local pizza place that is a local favorite of my aunt and Alfred. Sehr gut! I called it quits early on Friday and went to bed fairly early as I had to get up at 6:30 on Saturday.

I couldn´t fall asleep at all on Friday so I was already up when 6:30 rolled around. It was still dark. At 7:30 my aunt and I walked to the bus station and took the bus to the Schaffhausen Zughof (train station). We met my mother and uncle and got on the 8:05 to Zurich. It left at 8:05. Swiss trains are extremely punctual! The engines and train cars are much more modern than the ones I remember riding as a kid. We arrived at Zurich and a short time later hopped onto the train to Luzern (a double-decker). We arrived in Luzern with about half an hour until the boat left so we walked around the town a bit. I think this was my first time in Luzern (Lucerne). It´s a beautiful city! I took some pictures of the famous ancient covered wooden bridge and also took some pictures from it as we crossed the lake. They had a busy Saturday open-air market and I could smell the wonderful cheeses, sausages, and roasted chestnuts. Unfortunately we didn´t have enough time to check out the whole market as we had to make our way to dock. We arrived at the dock and it was quite crowded. We boarded the boat and found ourselves a table with a good view and made our way around the lake. It stopped at various towns to pick up and unload passengers, but our destination was the last stop...Vitznau. The view of the alps from within this watery basin was nothing short of breathtaking. We could see peaks like Eiger and Jungfrau. Simply beautiful on a luckily sunny day. We arrived at Vitznau after probably more than an hour and immediately boarded the train to Rigi-Kulm. This is the oldest mountain train in the world. It´s really like a tram with a cog system (like a roller coaster going uphill for the first climb), but it´s very smooth (and steep). This rail journey provided us with some breathtaking views of the mountains and the lake. We arrived at the final destination...Rigi-Kulm. We climbed the very steep path to the top and this fat boy was out of breath (being at about 6000 ft. didn´t help much) The view was stunning. Alps and valleys all around. We could see the Zug See (Lake Zug) and villages everywhere below. Forward and above we could see the majestic Alpen peaks gently enshrouded by clouds. It was really a sight to behold. Hopefully my pictures will do it justice. It may have been too bright. At this point we luckily walked downhill to the restaurant/hotel. I had a delightful plate of bratwurst (weisswurst in America), pommes frites (French fries), and carrots with peas. American bratwurst is not bratwurst. Bratwurst (weisswurst) is a white sausage made from pork and veal and gently seasoned with nutmeg. Delicious! I followed that with a piece of chocolate torte (mz first chocolate on the trip). (Can you believe that? Chocolate desserts are rare here. Everything is delicious, but they´re centered around fruit, anise, or Amaretto.) We rode the train back down a different route and ended in Arth-Goldau. The views were otherworldly in parts. We had about 15 minutes in Arth-Goldau and then boarded the train to Zurich. My aunt left us this point to go home to Bülach to check her mail. My uncle, mother, and myself boarded the train to Schaffhausen. We arrived at the Schaffhausen Zughof and got on the bus to visit Oma. After a few minutes visiting we walked to the bus stop and boarded the bus and got out at my uncle´s stop. He made us some nice salads, veal cutlet with onions, and spaghetti. Very nice. I was very tired yesterday as I hadn´t slept the night before. I was grateful to return to Alfred´s so that I might crash in my bed.

Today it´s fondue at Alfred´s and then dinner at my uncle´s.

Europeans don´t drink while they eat (water, etc.). I'm dehydrating myself. I´m drinking lots of coffee and virtually no water. I haven´t had any milk or butter yet. WTF?!?!? Apparently the Swiss don´t drink milk. It was always around before because I was a kid. I have a serious milk-habit in America and now that I´m in the home of the world´s best milk I haven´t had any. Switzerland is awfully hilly. For every downhill there´s an ass-kicking uphill. Swiss girls are hot! I have to both admire and laugh at European fashion. Switzerland is a successful merger of the ancient and the ultra-modern. I could never drive here! I´d rather drive in Manhattan or Detroit! Crazy stops, yields, hills, curves, narrow neighborhood roads, and circular turn-arounds. Tiny cars look funny. There are lots of tiny cars in Switzerland...I mean tiny. Lots of crazy bicyclists riding up crazy hills around crazy curves. Everything is expensive here. 6 Francs for a Coke? 1.8 Francs for a single airmail postcard stamp? Yup. Worth it to be here? Yup. The German that Swiss speak barely resembles the German (Hoch Deutsch) language. Swiss people love to show off their English (luckily). Supermarket cashiers have chairs. Don´t tell the unionized Americans. Soccer (football/futbol) is huge! Swiss people are very chatty. They just love to socialize, be it over coffee, beer, or nothing. Salads just taste better here (I think it´s the simple vinaigrettes). Kids get pierced pretty young here. Maybe it´s a nod to the traditional earrings worn by men in the Alps. Swiss people cannot handle spicy food. I mentioned to someone that I love spicy food (Thai, Indian, Mexican, etc.) so they just put more onions in my salad. Switzerland is pretty cool.

Random poll- What´s your favorite childhood travel memory?
Random poll 2- What´s your favorite spicy food?


Friday, October 07, 2005

Gott sei dank heutige is Freitag! (Thank God it´s Friday) Switzerland

Today (Friday) was a great day! I have to get up really early tomorrow for a train/boat/train journey to the Rigi. More details later. Have fun wherever you are!


Es is gut!

Grützi kids! All is well in the land of skis and cheese. The weather is still a little overcast and grey, which is fine by me. Yesterday (Thursday) my aunt an I enjoyed a nice lunch at my uncle´s. He made a big bowl of Cervola (sp?) salad. It´s essentially a fresh green salad with bibb lettuce, carrots, onion, radish, tomato, hardboiled egg, parsley, vinaigrette, and...a bologna-like sausage. How rockin´ is that? Sausage in salad? Hell yeah! We then stopped by Oma´s to pick up my mother and Oma to meet some of my uncle´s friends at a Schaffhausen restaurant. The trend so far has been to meet one beautiful woman a day. I met a gorgeous Russian nurse on Wednesday at the retirement building and a beautiful Swiss flight attendant yesterday. I hope that this trend continues. Oops. Before all this I went with my aunt to a wine store and picked up some kirsch and some local marc (grappa) to take back home. The guy at the wine store gave me a bottle of local wine because I´m in the business. Nice. At the Italian restaurant I sampled some Sicilian wine, the local Falkenbier, and espresso with grappa. My mother and I then walked to the train station to change our money and run a few basic shopping errands. We took the bus to my uncle´s and had a lovely dinner of salad, liver, and polenta. Today we´re going to run a few errands and then take in a movie (The Woodsman) and get some pizza. Tomorrow looks to be a fun-filled day. I´ll tell you more about it later...


Thursday, October 06, 2005

"Guten Morgen!", sucky flights, and European keyboards...

Guten Morgen y´all!

I´m currently in Schaffhausen, Switzerland trying to figure out the European keyboard. The flight to Chicago on American was aces. I'd give it an A-. I think that an A+ would require a happy ending or something. The Swiss International flight really, really sucked scheisse. I think that it may be better to be a sardine than to be a passenger on an Airbus 330-223. At least a sardine has something to look forward to...being eaten. These were the narrowest seats that I´ve ever encountered. Horrible, horrible flight.

My aunt picked us up at the Zurich Flughafen (airport). We then ran a quick errand to her house and then had to drive through Germany for a quick spell to Schaffhausen. (It´s funny like that!) We then went to visit Oma (grandma) at her retirement building. It was really, really fantastic to see her again after 17 years. We chatted for about an hour and a half and then headed to my uncle´s for Mittagessen (lunch). He made a great pot of vegetable soup and we had some damn fine crusty bread and some damn fine Emmentaler and Appenzeller cheese. I was a little worried about this trip as I´ve essentially forgotten all of my German. It wouldn´t really matter. The Swiss speak a whacked-out dialect referred to as Schweizer-Deutsch. It´s very fast and I think they make it up as they go along. The Swiss pronounce it "Schweetzer Dootch" rather than the proper Hoch Deutsch (high German) "Schwytzer Doytsch". My supremely cute grandmother commented that Hoch Deutsch is like a completely different language that she doesn´t understand. We then headed from there to the Co-Op supermarket. I stayed in the car as I was extremely tired. I hadn´t slept essentially since Sunday night. We then headed to my aunt´s boyfriend´s place which is where I am currently staying. I took a nap and then had a nice dinner with my aunt and her boyfriend and my mom is staying with my uncle. We had a nice simple salad and some risotto with some merlot from Ticino. That was followed by a delicious plum tart made by Alfred (my aunt´s boyfriend). He left to go to a geology class and my aunt and I talked for a couple hours. Alfred is a retired mechanical engineer whose current hobby is geology. He is technologically-minded and there for has this wonderful computer with a crazy European keyboard (the "Z" and the "Y" are swapped and other things are in different crazy places and there´s a second shift key for other thingies. Today I think we´re going to my uncle´s for lunch (sausages and such).

The weather is cool, overcast, foggy, and hazy. That´s all well and good for me, but limits some photos for now. I don´t remember what else we´re doing today. Alfred said I could dowload pictures to his computer. I may try posting pictures later, but I don´t really have anything to post as of yet. I´m currently enjoying a damn fine cup of European coffee and a view of some woods. From Alfred´s covered terrace there is a view of a soccer field and a handball stadium as well as some horses. He´s on the top of a hill. The house is quite nice and a great balanced of old fashioned European and ultra-modern. Looks like I´ll be able to post again... I wish everybody fun in the land of Dubya. By the way...they REALLY hate Dubya here. Smart people.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Vacation! Hell yeah! It's off to Switzerland...

I finally made it. I leave for Switzerland tomorrow morning (Tuesday). I'll land in Zurich at about 8:30AM on Wednesday. Two weeks with family I haven't seen in 17 years, two weeks without work, two weeks of bliss. I'll try to take lots and lots of pictures. I don't know if I'll have much access to the internet, so I don't know if I'll be able to post much or at all. I'll try. Check every so often if you so desire. I'll have stories and pics when I get back. I'd like to wish my friends a fun and safe cruise. See you in a couple weeks!


So much for what I said...

So much for what I said a few posts ago. It's October 3rd and it's 86 degrees Fahrenheit! WTF?!?!? Hopefully it'll really be fall when I get back in two weeks.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

In the immortal words of the cheesy hairband Europe-"The final countdoooooowwwwwn!"

Just one day until looooooooonnnng day. The weekend was pretty uneventful. "My bags are packed, I'm ready to go...I'm leaviiiiiing on a jetplane. Don't know when I'll be back again." Actually I'll be back on the 19th. It's going to be a really, really long day at work. I'm not looking forward to it. I actually have already packed. I'm usually really last minute when it comes to packing. The day before I left to go to Australia I packed my suitcase and it took me about 2 hours to get it shut it was so full. Luckily this time around I'll have an opportunity to do some laundry.

I'll try to post again before I leave.

Random poll- What is the best airline that you have flown?
What is the worst?
What's your favorite airport?
Least favorite airport?
(The best I've flown is Qantas,

but in the past I've also had good experiences with Swissair, Alaskan, Pan Am, American Trans Air, and British Airways. The worst is Northworst.

I'm indifferent to American, United, Continental, US Air, and Southwest. Qantas definitely stands heads above the rest. They do a fantastic job, but the flight is an ass-kicker! My favorite airport is probably Frankfurt. My lest favorite is LAX or Newark.)


Saturday, October 01, 2005

What your sleeping position says...

What Your Sleeping Position Says

You are calm and rational.
You are also giving and kind - a great friend.
You are easy going and trusting.
However, you are too sensible to fall for mind games.

Animal personality test...

Your Animal Personality

Your Power Animal: Eagle

Animal You Were in a Past Life: Whale

You are active, a challenger, and optimistic.
Hard-working, you are always working towards a set goal.

I love the fall, The Fall, and fleeing the country for prettier environs...

You Are Changing Leaves

Pretty, but soon dead.

Fall is here...finally! It's my favorite season. I love the cool, crisp air and the smell of fallen, fermenting leaves. I love watching the gradual color change of the trees. I love the sound that a leaf makes as it haphazardly rolls along the ground in a gentle gust of wind. I love the smell of a distant fireplace and the sight of billowing smoke in the clear night sky. I love watching the transformation from shorts and T-shirts to sweaters and jackets. I love to walk in the woods on a tranquil autumn day. I love sleeping with the window cracked open on a cool October night. I love that the oppressive heat of summer has gone into hiberation for 8 months or so. I love the fact that winter is only a short time away. I love the first time that I can see my breath after several months of dripping sweat. I love watching the squirrels rustle around in the leaves and dart up the trees. I love that there aren't any mosquitos. I love the foods of the season. I love that the electric bill has dropped 80%. I love a bonfire on a clear, starlit evening. I welcome the season with open arms and enthusiasm.

I love the fall (not to be confused with The Fall, whom I also love). This last summer especially sucked a lot of septic tank. It was hot, humid, and generally icky. I declare the summer of 2005 as the "Summer of Swamp-Ass". I'm glad it's over. Good riddance.

There weren't any fights at the restaurant that's a good thing. It was fairly busy.

Today I got a haircut and bought another 512MB Flash Card for my digital camera. I also organized and packed my overnight bag. I bought a bunch of mini shampoos and other random "mini" products last week. I've got an assload of batteries for the camera packed in a compartment of my suitcase. I burned about 40 CDs to bring along with my Discman. I've chosen the books that I'm going to bring on the trip. I've got my carry-on half organized. I've done a bunch of laundry. I'll probably try to get everything "officialy" packed on Sunday and plan my clothes for Monday and Tuesday. My trip to Switzerland is getting very close. However, I still have to get through Saturday and Monday at work. Those are going to two very long, shitty days. This last week at work sucked buckets of chum. There are many, many issues, but being short-staffed and having a boss who is certifiably futs really makes things difficult. Who knows what I'll miss in my two weeks away? I can safely say, however, that I won't think of work once while on vacation. I can't wait to see my family and the stunningly gorgeous country that is Switzerland.

Why do people get Switzerland and Sweden mixed up? Seriously? When I tell people that I'm going to Switzerland they ask if I speak Swedish. They ask if I'm going to drink lots of aquavit. Why did "Swiss Miss" in the old hot chocolate commercials have a Swedish accent? Swiss and Swedish are NOT the same. Switzerland has four national languages- German, French, Italian, and Rumantsch. To learn about Swiss history go here.

I'll try to post once more before I leave.