29 June 2007

Message to Swiss Air

I have this thing on my blog called a tracker.

It tells me how many people have read my blog and the internet provider so I know approximately where they are located.

As with many large corporations, you are your own internet provider. Therefore, I know for a fact that employees of Swiss Air have looked at my blog several times in the past week.

That says to me that you likely received my e-mailed letter of complaint as well as logged on to the blog to see my complaint in full detail.

And yet, I haven't heard from anyone yet.

Are you going to keep lurking on my blog?

Or are you actually going to respond to my complaint?

Just wondering...

Gadget-y Follow Up

I received a couple of e-mails about my inability to turn on the television. And I have learned how to turn on the satellite, usually. It is just that sometimes I hit something wrong and disable the entire set up until GLH comes home. While fixing it he grumbles and says, "What did you do this time?"

Lest you think I am a total techno-idiot, I thought it important to show you exactly what it is involved.

Here is our Media Center:

Components include:
  • Large Screen TV
  • Home Media PC (with dvd player for European formats)
  • Satellite Box
  • Stereo Surround Sound (with 5 speakers placed around the living room)
  • MacBook (with dvd player for US formats)

Note: the home media pc also communicates wirelessly with our two desktop PC's in order to access iTunes (music and videos), Electronic Photo Albums and Internet.

Here are the various instruments used to control the aforementioned components:

From left to right, the remote controls are:
  • Television
  • Master Remote (which cannot control everything because the manufacturers did not envision GLH's creation)
  • Satellite Box
  • Unknown (I have no idea what this remote control does. I imagine GLH knows.)
  • Stereo Surround Sound
  • MacBook (when watching US format dvd's)
  • Wireless Keyboard for Home Media PC

I've asked GLH to type up step-by-step instructions (including graphics), but he just laughs at me and says "It's really not that hard!"

Would you be able to

turn on the television?

My head hurts now. I'm going to go lie down.

26 June 2007

Moratorium on New Gadgets

There are two people living in our household.

Would someone please explain to me why we now have four computers?

Unless our cats have developed opposable thumbs and a greatly increased mental capability, I do believe that many computers might be considered excessive.

True, one of those computers is GLH's work computer which he lugs back and forth between work and home every day.

But still!

GLH's latest acquisition is a Macbook.

And how did he talk me into this? Mostly he just wore me down.

But his justification is that it is small and lightweight and therefore perfect for traveling. Plus, since he upgraded his personal computer to MS Vista, he hasn't been able to sync his iPod. Because, of course, Bill and Steve still don't like sharing sandboxes and it can take awhile for new products to become both PC and Mac compatible.

And, of course, the home media center we purchased makes you decide between playing European and USA formatted dvd's. (Sidenote: don't even get me started on how difficult it was to get a Swiss-purchased computer to default to English language. We figured convincing it to switch indefinitely between DVD formats was beyond its capabilities.) In the end we went with European format and therefore needed something that could play USA format.

After much messing around and a few choice words, GLH managed to set up this...
Yep, James Bond. On the big screen.

Fortunately, even the smallest wine refrigerator was too large to fit in our kitchen. Thank you to the powers that be for small graces. (And inadequate counter space!)

But I have implemented a 3-month moratorium on all new gadgets.

'Cause I need a break.

Perhaps I can spend that time learning how to turn on the television. It has now become so complicated that an advanced degree in electrical engineering is strongly recommended.



GLH helpfully pointed out that I miscounted the number of computers. We actually have FOUR personal computers in addition to his work computer for a grand total of FIVE computers.

Even if we were both ambidextrous, we wouldn't be able to use them all.

25 June 2007

Uh Oh!

Earlier today I was at a stoplight during rush hour. I sat and watched the light turn red then green then red. On each green approximately 5-7 cars were able to get through it. Then it would turn red again for an exceptionally long time. This happened four times.

Finally I was three cars away from the light. It turned green. Yeah!

But the car in front of me wasn't paying attention and got a delayed start. As I approached the corner the light turned yellow.

I decided I was not going to sit through the red for a fifth time and gunned it. It turned red while I was halfway through the intersection.

Then I saw a flash.

It is possible the flash was for the car behind me that definitely ran a red light. But it is also possible that I may have just gotten my first ticket in Switzerland.

I guess I will find out in a month or so. If a bill with a photo of me appears, I was caught. If not, I can breath easy.

Anyone know how much running an "orange" light costs?

24 June 2007

Photo Memories

Last week we flew to Cleveland to visit GLH's family for a few days before going on to Kansas City. GLH had business meetings. I shopped for both of us.

Here are a few of our favorite photo memories, taken with my new digital point and shoot that is tiny enough to slip in my pocket.

Dinner with Sue
Sue and I have been matched by Big Brothers, Big Sisters since January 2003. While in KC we went for a celebratory barbecue dinner. Sue has earned a 4-year scholarship to attend one of the best private high schools in Kansas City. Yeah, Sue!

Geese Crossing
The Cleveland area was full of traffic jams caused by adolescent Canadian geese and their proud mamas. The geese are not quite old enough to fly yet, so must cross the road in packs, much to the dismay of local drivers who are trying to get to wherever they are going!

Air Conditioning!
I kept the a/c in our hotel room set at a constant 65 degrees fahrenheit (18 degrees celsius), my optimal temperature. Ah, it was wonderful!

Le Boutique Target
If I could only shop at one store while in the US, I would select Target. Fortunately there are no limits on consumerism in the US and I also visited Ann, Eddie and Jill. As in Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer and J. Jill! All of them open seven days per week.

Cereal Aisle Although I couldn't fully indulge because we stayed at a hotel, while at the grocery store I made a visit to the cereal aisle. I really miss the cereal aisle. The Coop and Migros have a pretty pathetic selection. By the way, this is just a portion of it because there is too much to fit in one picture. The cereal options cover the entire length of the aisle on both sides.

Patriotic Desserts

We could not believe the size of the "Red, White and Blue" dessert on the menu. Even by American standards, it was gargantuan. My brother-in-law and the waiter posed with it to give you an idea of the size. We easily split it between 6 people!

Gossip Mags!

And finally, I was able to get caught up on all the celebrity gossip.

23 June 2007

A Rant and a Vow

I'll begin with the vow:

I, Global Librarian, hereby vow that I will NEVER fly Swiss Air for a transatlantic flight ever again unless it is a dire emergency and I have NO OTHER CHOICE!

Now for the rant:

Swiss Air Sucks!

I have flown quite a lot in my years upon this earth. And I have flown many, many airlines on those trips.

But my top three absolutely worst flying experiences have been on Swiss Air. It just so happens to be the three times I have been on a Swiss Air flight over the Atlantic. And one of those times was even with an upgrade to business class, which one would think would be better. But I can honestly say there are three other airlines I would rather fly coach than Swiss Air's business class.

Here's why...

Reason 1: No one over the height of 5'7" should ever be forced to sit in Swiss Air coach. There is no room. The rows of seats are incredibly close together. So close that you could easily do dental work on the individual sitting in front of you once their seat is fully reclined. They are literally in your lap. And because my legs are so long (36" inseam), the seats are so close that the angle is wrong and I cannot stretch my legs under the seat in front of me.

And the width of the seats is smaller as well. Now, I will admit I am not as thin as I could be. Ideally a woman's BMI (Body Mass Index) should be between 19-25 and mine is 28. But obesity is BMI 30 or higher. I should not have to wedge my ass into the seats. True, I have the wide child-bearing hips that all of the women in my family have, regardless of their weight. But c'mon already!

So I sit wedge between the armrests with my back pressed against my seat and my knees pressed into the seat in front of me. After about an hour of this, the painful muscle spasms begin.

Business class is better. At least I can shift every now and then. But Swiss Air's business class seats are only a bit larger than Continental's coach seats. And Swiss Air's seats are old and lumpy, thereby causing back issues on long flights.

Reason 2: The food they serve is horrendous. On the flight to the US I was in business class. I literally could not eat anything they served. It tasted so terribly to me that I felt nauseous. I was so hungry that at one stage my blood sugar dropped very low and I started to shake. I explained I had blood sugar issues and asked them for some protein. They found me a couple of packets of peanuts, which at least stopped the shaking. The only thing they served that was edible was the ice cream cones for dessert. And the flight attendants scooped noticeably larger cones for the male passengers than the female passengers. Bitches!

Reason 3: You have the fly through Chicago O'Hare when flying anywhere in the Midwest.

Yesterday I decided they should just implode that airport and start over fresh. It is so poorly designed. As Chicago grew, they kept adding on to it with little thought for logic or flow of passengers. If changing terminals, which the vast majority of passengers must do, you need to exit through security and take a train to the next terminal and then go through security once again.

This means that you have substantially more people needing to go through security than would happen in other airports. Which leads to lines like this:

We were told the line should take 15 minutes or so. In actuality the line took over 45 minutes!

We were nearing the end of the line and the exceptionally long wait when we saw the sign informing passengers that there are no restaurant options on the other side of security. We could have used that information earlier in the line and had some dinner before the wait. By the time we saw the not-so-helpful sign, we did not have time to wait in the line a second time. On the other side of security you have the option of chips, candy and a small selection of nasty, soggy sandwiches that have been sitting in inadequate coolers all day. Fabulous.

Reason 4: It is extremely difficult to use frequent flyer miles. There are many rules that are not explained well. Even the Swiss Air employees do not understand them. When we ask question via telephone or in-person at the check-in desk they frequently say they do not know and have to make a telephone call to ask someone. And when we have asked the same question, we are usually given a different answer the second time. And on those rare occasions when you are actually able to use miles, an excessive number of miles are required. Much more than any other airline with which we have frequent flyer status.

Reason 5: Swiss Air does not have little air spouts above the seats. I suspect it has something to do with the odd belief in Europe that breezes are bad for you. But when the airplane is so warm that you have sweat rolling off of you while sitting still, you could use a little breeze on your face.

Especially when the person sitting next to you stinks. The only time I have ever smelled anyone worse is at the library with the homeless people who had obviously not bathed in a very long time. And at least there we could explain that their smell was offensive to others and they needed to go to the shelter for a shower and some clean clothes before they could return to the library. We even had a number we could call and someone from the shelter would come and get them.

The person I sat next to would have been asked to leave the library. He smelled that bad. And I had to sit next to him for 9 hours because the flight was completely full and there were no other seats available. My only respite came when I went to the restroom. Which I did repeatedly. And since I had the window seat, he had to move for me each time. He probably thought I had a bladder infection or something. I didn't have to pee, I just needed a break from his stench.

By the time I got off the airplane earlier today I was starving, in severe pain due to cramps and muscle spasms, had not had even a minute of sleep, and had been assaulted by a horrific smell for 9 straight hours.

I was literally in tears.

And that is why I will never, ever fly Swiss Air on a transatlantic flight ever again.

15 June 2007

Archival Experience?

I've got a busy week ahead of me and will be taking a break from blogging.

But now is your chance to catch up on my archives!

Won't that be fun?

14 June 2007

Return of Gadget Boy

Now that we have settled into our apartment and most everything is pretty much the way it should be, I thought the Gadget Boy inclination may have died down a little.

I thought wrong...


GLH: That bottle of wine we opened last night? You were right, it really wasn't good. I poured it down the sink.

Me: That's too bad. Make a note of the label and we won't buy it again.

GLH: I'm wondering if perhaps now it is summer, the kitchen is too warm for storing the wine.

Me: Perhaps. We should probably move the bottles down into the basement.

GLH: That seems inconvenient. I was thinking we should get one of those wine cooler refrigerators for the kitchen.

I rolled my eyes and shook my head.

13 June 2007

Drumroll, Please

We are going to...

Spelled Majorca in English.

And by the way, the famous costume jewelry? Majorca Pearls, of course.

Congratulations to Greg for coming up with the correct answer!

Now we just have to wait for September...

12 June 2007


I had my first session with a private German tutor. The classes just didn't work for me.

Although I have studied German before, I completely forgot essentially all of the grammar. My tutor and I decided it would probably be best to start from the beginning in order to relearn the grammar, although we will likely move very quickly for the first few sessions.

She gave me the titles for a couple of books for our lessons. They are the standard Beginning German books plus one on the fundamentals of German grammar.

Yesterday afternoon I went to a bookstore in Zürich to purchase them. I approached the information desk on the first floor with my carefully written list of titles, authors and publishers.

"Haben Sie diese Bücher?" I asked.

The woman glanced at the titles before launching into a stream of rapid-fire German. I caught a couple of words, but most of it was completely lost.

Noticing my blank stare, she pointed at the escalator and said, very slowly, "Kundendienst auf erste Stock." (Customer service on first floor)

So I went upstairs and found the area with the language books. I went to the nearby information desk, handed the woman my list and said, "Haben Sie diese Bücher?"

She looked them up on the computer. Then she also launched into a rapid-fire stream of German, spoken so quickly I hadn't a chance of understanding. I suspect she was giving me directions because she also pointed across the room.

Noting my obvious lack of comprehension, she walked over to a shelf, got the books and handed them to me.

Here's what I do not understand. Did neither of the women notice the requested titles were entry-level German?

11 June 2007

It's Your Turn

GLH guessed the correct location. Readers may now guess. So, may the comments begin!

I will post the correct answer on Wednesday.

We are going somewhere...

Clue 1:
...that has water sports for GLH and a fascinating history for me.

Clue 2:
...that was once part of the Roman Empire.

Clue 3:
...with a long religious history.

Clue 4:
...that has been a popular tourist destination, especially among the Germans and Brits, since the 1950's. But most Amercians have never heard of it.

Clue 5:
...known for its costume jewelry. Indeed, the costume jewelry is so well done it takes a professional to distinguish it from the real thing.

Clue 6:
...that geologically is part of Africa. Although the island is in Europe.

Clue 7:
...that has everything from beaches to sweeping plains to very steep mountains. It has been called the "Bread Basket" of its country.

Where in the World?

Clue #7

We are going somewhere...
...that has everything from beaches to
sweeping plains to very steep mountains.
It has been called the "Bread Basket" of its country.

C'mon, already! Figure it out!

Previous Clues:
...that has water sports for GLH and a fascinating history for me.
...that was once part of the Roman Empire.
...with a long religious history.
...that has been a popular tourist destination since the 1950's.
...known for it's costume jewelry.
...that geologically is part of Africa.

Don't Tell Me!

The finale of The Sopranos was on HBO last night. This was the end. There will be no more.

We recorded it with our SlingBox. But as it was on at 3:00 am Zürich time, we haven't seen it yet.

Today will be spent avoiding all US internet news sites in an effort to not find out what happened before we watch it tonight.

Later the same day...

I went to check my e-mail and Yahoo had a headline that gave away part of it.

I am now saying a string of very bad words that are not ladylike and I decline to write in my blog.

Bad Yahoo! Very, very bad!

10 June 2007

Pilgrimage to Einsiedeln

On Sunday afternoon GLH and I made a pilgrimage to the Kloster Einsiedeln.

Alright, it wasn't so much a "pilgrimage" as it was a "look-see" because we had heard that the Abbey was something to see. Plus, it was only a 30 minute drive. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon with no other plans!

Einsiedeln is the most important pilgrimage site in Switzerland. Although certainly not at the level it was during the medieval period, it still receives approximately 200,000 pilgrims per year.

When we arrived the area around the abbey was packed. Turns out this is also the time when Einsiedeln produces the Einsiedler Welttheater (Theater of the World), a production that occurs every five years. Which makes it a major pilgrimage time.

Photography is not allowed within the sanctuary, but I did manage to sneak this picture without any of the monks catching me. Accomplished by hiding behind GLH and quickly shooting over his shoulder.

The church is astoundingly beautiful and one of the most ornate churches I have ever seen. It is well worth a visit.

The abbey is also known for its stables. The priests and monks have been breeding horses since medieval times. Unfortunately, the stables are not open on Sundays.

After leaving the Abbey we followed a sign pointing towards the Bethlehem Diorama, the largest nativity scene in the world. Or so the sign said. And at more than 800 individual pieces, it certainly was big. But not terribly spectacular.

After leaving the Diorama, we followed another sign to the Panorama Kreuzigung Christi (Panorama of Christ's Crucifixion).

Although I must admit it was a tad creepy to be completely surrounded by this enormous canvas. And it smelled kinda funky too!

My recommendation is to go to the Abbey, but skip the Diorama and Panorama!

Ski Jump Humor

When driving into Einsiedeln, it is impossible to miss the enormous ski jump.

But keep your eye out for this skier on the side of a mechanics garage just down the street!

That looks painful!

Where in the World?

Clue #6

We are are going somewhere...
...that geologically is part of Africa.
Although the island is in Europe.

What do you think, GLH?

Previous Clues:
...that has water sports for GLH and a fascinating history for me.
...that was once part of the Roman Empire.
...with a long religious history.
...that has been a popular tourist destination since the 1950's.
...known for it's costume jewelry.

09 June 2007


Sometimes you just get a hankering for some banana bread. And today I decided I must have some.

I looked up the translations for Nutmeg (Muskatnüss), Baking Soda (Naturn) and Baking Powder (Backpulver) and set off for the grocery store.

Baking Soda and Baking Powder are sold in little packets. Apparently they are much too valuable (or dangerous?) to sell in larger quantities as they do in the United States. Although I'm not certain why.

If I were more domesticated, I would probably buy them while in the US so that I didn't need to deal with the little packets. But as I have been here nearly six months and this was the first time I baked anything, I don't think I will bother! Indeed, in the end I didn't even need the baking powder. But I do have it on hand if I need it in the future.

So for those who would like a very simple recipe that even someone like me, who virtually never bakes, can follow. Here you go!

One note: the recipe calls for three egg whites beaten until they form peaks. We do not have a mixer and there is no way on God's green earth that I am going to stand around and do this by hand. I used one whole egg instead of three egg whites. It worked just fine!

Banana Bread Recipe
American Heart Association Cookbook
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar (divided in half)
2-3 very ripe bananas (mashed)
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil 5x9-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat oil and 1/3 cup sugar. Add bananas and mix well. In a medium bowl, sift flour, spices and baking powder. Add to batter and beat. In a separate bowl, beat eggs whites until foamy. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until egg whites form soft peaks. Fold eggs whites into batter.

Pour into loaf pan and bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick came be inserted in the middle and come out clean. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and cool on a wire rack.

Analytical Deductive Calculations

Last night GLH asked me if the flight to our Secret Destination was more than 2 hours. I said it was. Then he asked if it was more than 4 hours. I said it was not. Then I refused to answer any more questions.

Here is the map he put together...

The first circle represents what would be approximately a 2-hour flight from Zürich. The second represents a 4-hour flight.

He is also putting together a spreadsheet to include additional criteria based upon previous clues.

Oh My God! I married a Geek!

Box of Books!

My reading interests are broad and varied. I quite literally read everything from low-brow to high-brow and for all ages.

In general I have discovered that most of my reading interests can be satisfied through the English Bookshop on Bahnhofstrasse, Amazon in Germany, downloads to my e-reader and book-buying bonanzas on trips to the US. However, there is one genre I read which is not as easy to find here in Zürich -- American romance novels.

Sure, they have the Big Names like Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz and the like. But the romance section tends to run more heavily to British Chick Lit. Which is all well and good, but sometimes what ya want is a good, old-fashioned, trashy American Bodice Ripper.

A Librarian has answered my need.

This morning the scooter-riding postman stopped at our door and delivered a Box of Books.

Thank you, A Librarian!

Of course, I will have to keep these books away from Max and Tilly. They smell like A Librarian's two cats, which make them irresistible chew toys. One book was already chewed up before I realized what they were doing.

08 June 2007

Where in the World?

Clue #5

We are going somewhere...
known for it's costume jewelry.
Indeed, the costume jewelry is so well done it takes
a professional to distinguish it from the real thing.

O.K. GLH, see if you can Google this!

Previous Clues:
...that has water sports for GLH and a fascinating history for me.
...that was once part of the Roman Empire.
...with a long religious history.
...that has been a popular tourist destination since the 1950's.

07 June 2007

Getting All Assertive

One of my continuing frustrations at living in Switzerland is the number of people who will completely ignore the fact that others are already waiting for service and go directly up to the staff. There is usually quite a lot of grumbling, but no one does anything about it. Including the staff member even when they have seen it happen.

This occurs often enough that I have spent a great deal of time analyzing it. Frequently while watching it happen once again.

This is my theory. The Swiss tend to be extremely non-confrontational. Therefore, the Line-Jumpers know there is very little chance that anyone will call them on their behavior. And when someone does, they act very innocent as if they didn't see the line and had no idea it was even there.

I have learned to combat this by confronting them and they usually back down pretty quickly.

This afternoon I was standing in a line of three people waiting for one of four cashiers to be available. A woman breezed through the door, walked past the line and stood immediately behind a customer who was about to be handed their purchases.

The man in front of me and the man behind me both looked perturbed, but did nothing.

"Entschuldigen Sie!" said I.

The woman turned to look at me.

"Eine line!" I said, completely forgetting the German word for "line."

She pretended to not understand and turned away.

"Nein," I say, pointing at the line, "Eine line."

She went to the end of the line and said "Es tut mir leid. I weiss nicht." (I am sorry. I didn't know.) As if! Of course she knew! It was very obvious there was a line of people waiting for help.

The man in front of me gave me a short, but emphatic, nod of approval.

Ich Bin Auch Ein Restaurant!

During the summer a popular activity for locals and tourists alike is to take a boat ride on the Zürichsee. As part of the public transportation system, ferries run up and down the length of the lake on a regular basis. On a sunny, summer weekend the lines of people waiting can stretch the length of the dock.

Anyone who has ever had to wait for the ferry to arrive only to be told it is full and they must continue to wait can tell you that larger ships with a greater passenger capacity are sorely needed.

So it was with a great deal of excitement and fanfare that a new ship was launched as part of the ZVV Fleet this past April. The 9.5 million (Swiss francs) triple-decker ferry promised to help alleviate the crowding and long lines. The Panta Rhei, from the Greek meaning "Everything Changes," would soon show that it's name was a rather ironic choice.

Within two weeks, the ship was pulled from service. Apparently the ship ended up a tad bit heavier than it should have been. About 60 tons heavier. This caused it to sit too low in the water and create waves. In turn, the waves created a great deal of complaints from the many sailors and other water-sport enthusiasts who wished to frolic in the lake.

Since then it has sat in its dock while it's owners, it's manufacturer and the Canton of Zürich argued and back-pedaled and tried to figure out what had gone wrong. And, of course, whose fault it all was!

Last weekend GLH and I happened to notice that the triple-decker ferry was sitting at the Burkliplatz dock. We thought perhaps they had worked out the issues and it was now in service. A closer inspection revealed a sign which reads Ich Bin Auch Ein Restaurant! (I am also a restaurant.)

It would appear that the ZVV decided there was no point in this incredibly expensive ship sitting at a dock losing money. Best put it to work anyway they could. So it is now a lake-side restaurant.

A bit of research gave me the backstory. A very long backstory told exclusively in German in Tages Anzeiger, a local daily newspaper. (Search Term: "Panta Rhei." There is a list of stories in the archives along with a price list that dissuaded me from researching more fully!)

Short version: the restaurant will operate until August 10th at which time it will go in for structural alterations that will lift it higher out of the water and reduce the waves by 40%. The fix will cost approximately 1 million CHF. Who will pay for the repairs (Owners, Manufacturers, Cantonal Government) is still being debated and will likely turn into a drawn-out court case.

Until August you have the opportunity to eat on this floating fiasco while gazing upon Zürich, the lake and, if it is a clear day, the Swiss Alps. Have no idea how the food is, but you cannot beat the view.

Bon Appétit!

Where in the World?

Clue #4

We are going somewhere...
that has been a popular tourist destination,
especially among the Germans and Brits, since the 1950's.

But most Americans have never heard of it.

Alrighty, GLH, have a go!

Previous Clues:
...that has water sports for GLH and a fascinating history for me.
...that was once part of the Roman Empire.
...with a long religious history.

06 June 2007

Run, Little Bear, Run!

A bear has been spotted in Western Switzerland. And so a European Brown Bear is making international news. Again.

Some of you may remember Poor Bruno, the famous bear from last summer who wandered over the border of Italy, through Austria and into Germany, where the Bavarians promptly shot him. His carcass lies frozen in an undisclosed meat locker while the Bavarians and Italians fight over who gets to keep him.

See, the brown bear has been gone from the Alps since the early 1900's. But Italy started a program to reintroduce bears into the Italian Alps. Unfortunately, even though they are without passports, visas and other appropriate documentation, some of these bears have been leaving Italy and entering neighboring countries.

The program has caused the greatest concern in Germany and Switzerland where local farmers fear for their livestock. And where hikers may be stupid enough to approach the bears for a photo op.

Switzerland, being populated by the Swiss who believe in planning for any eventuality no matter how improbable, developed a "Bear Strategy." Simply put, bears had better follow the rules or they will be shot.

So my advice to any bears who may happen to be wandering through the Alps is to run back to Italy. Because they are unlikely to be able to read the Official List of Rules for Bears posted throughout the Swiss Alps in German, French, Italian and possibly English.

By the way, just in case the Germans and Swiss are not upset enough, the Italians are also involved in a program to repopulate the Italian Alps with wolves. My guess is that the wolves will also eventually get lost and wander inappropriately across borders.

Those rascally Italians just love to stir things up!

05 June 2007

Ya Think Ya Know Someone

You've read my blog. You've viewed my pictures.

But do you really know Global?

Testriffic Quiz Your Friends
Create your own Friend Quiz here
The highest possible score is 70.
Good luck!

Where in the World?

Clue #3

We are going somewhere...
...with a long religious history.

Once following both the Greek and Roman gods,
this island has gone back and forth between
Islam and Christianity a few times.

Alright, GLH - you get one guess!

Everyone else, please keep your guesses quiet and give GLH a chance.

Previous Clues:
...that has water sports for GLH and a fascinating history for me.
...that was once part of the Roman Empire.

03 June 2007

An Evening at the Movies

GLH and I went to see a movie this evening. Our first since moving here, mostly because we just haven't had time.

But GLH really wanted to see Spiderman 3 and he finally wore me down.

I first checked out where it was playing in English. Then I tried to purchase our tickets online. Unfortunately, once you get to that screen the website gives you 180 seconds to finish your purchase. My German skills are getting better, but it shut down on me twice while I was still trying to translate the darn thing.

So we decided to take our chances in person.

We arrived at the theater to purchase the tickets and were shown a seating chart. Because, of course, there is assigned seating in Swiss movie theaters. You wouldn't want people just going in and seating themselves anywhere they wished. That would be chaos!

Once we got into the theater we found our seats. Others filed in. By the time the movie started, most everyone was sitting tightly packed into one of three rows. Even though only a quarter of the theater was full.

Perhaps this assigned seating bit doesn't work so well after all! I mean, I like people all well and good. In theory. But I would rather not sit right next to complete strangers in a movie theater.

After the movie started, we moved to different seats. There was no one in them and no one else sitting around those seats. I was surprised that no one else also adjusted so they would have more room. The other people in the theater seemed surprised that we moved and were obviously sitting in seats that were not assigned to us!

By the way, I must not forget to mention -- absolutely no one came in late. That's right, folks, the entire audience was on time to the movie. No stumbling about in the dark. No whispered apologies as someone steps on your toes to get to a seat.

Then we had another surprise. Although the previews were over and the opening credits had finished, there was still a great deal of chatter going on in the theater. I waited for someone to start shushing and asking others to be quiet, but it never came. Then I realized that pretty much everyone else was talking. Apparently talking during movies is perfectly acceptable here.

But we settled in and went with the flow. We even were able to mostly ignore the chatter. Then, in the middle of a scene. Indeed, in the middle of a sentence, the film shut down. The lights came up and a message on the screen recommended we go get ice cream.

It was an intermission! In a two hour movie!

About half the audience left. And the message must have worked because many of them did indeed return with ice cream.

The remainder of the movie finished without incident. Well, except for me laughing at inappropriate places because the plot and dialogue were over-the-top melodramatic and the acting was terrible. But I feel no guilt. If they can talk throughout the movie, then I can laugh loudly at "touching scenes."

When the movie finished, the lights came up. Everyone looked around their seats for their trash and carried it out. Anything that could be recycled was duly placed in the appropriate recycling bin. Garbage was neatly thrown away. The theater was left in immaculate condition.

Weird experience all around.

Where in the World?

Here is another clue!

We are going somewhere...
...that was once part of the Roman Empire.

Previous clue:

...that has water sports for GLH and a fascinating history for me.

Please Remember! Do not post guesses until after GLH has guessed correctly!

01 June 2007

Tambourines and Alphorns?

This evening I heard about a Swiss musical group in which the lead singer plays an alphorn and a tambourine whilst singing "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple!

Apparently the group performs in the Zürich area.

Does anyone know who they are? Where they will be performing next? Anything?

'Cause this is something I gotta see!

Perhaps they would be a good option as Switzerland's entry in next year's Eurovision Song Contest? It is just crazy enough to work!