Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Random Photos

Daniel the headless baby.
Sarah, cheating death again.

The petting zoo part of the zoo.

Sarah's first pony ride.
At a castle in France.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm slowing becoming Swiss

The Swiss National Holiday is August 1. To celebrate, the city of Basel holds a fantastic fireworks display. And when I say fantastic, I mean it puts Stadium of Fire to shame. The Rhein river runs directly through the middle of town, so they bring two barges loaded with explosives into the river. We were on a bridge between the two barges.

The fireworks were utterly spectacular and Daniel slept through the whole thing, which is amazing in and of itself. Sarah fell asleep in the last half. Although children that are woken up by merely breathing near them who can sleep through explosions is a topic for one of those mysteries of the world post, that is not what we are talking about here.

No, we're talking about me becoming Swiss. As the sun started to go down, it started to cool down a bit. All the Swiss people around me were pullng on jackets. Their children bundled. My family is all in shorts and short sleeves. I start to be concerned that I'm freezing the children. Especially Daniel.

I, myself, begin to feel a chill and wonder if we should just go home so we don't freeze to death. Sarah starts complaining about her lack of jacket. I find a long sleeved shirt in the diaper bag and put it on my perfectly happy--yet must be freezing--baby. I mean, everyone around us is wearing jackets. It must be cold.

Then Sarah and I go for a walk. On our walk there is a sign with time and temperature. Temperature? 23 degrees. Celsius. That's 73.4 degrees farhenheit. Umm, the cold was all due to peer pressure.

I wonder what these people are going to wear when it's actually cold out.

(And just a note--the Swiss may love their jackets, but they are brilliant about celebrations. They hold the fireworks on July 31st so you can stay out watching them and because the 1st is the actual holiday you get that day off work. Brilliant, eh?)

Friday, August 7, 2009


Our freezer has three drawers. Since we moved here we've always kept ice cream in the top drawer. There has never been a discussion about this; it is just where the ice cream lives.

Today I bought expensive (aren't they all?) chocolate ice cream. Jason, Sarah and Jason's father went out to dinnner while I stayed home with Daniel, so I felt justified.

Is it unethical if I put the remaining ice cream in a different drawer and not mention that I bought it? Say, the drawer that usually houses frozen vegetables? And for the record, Jason doesn't read this blog.

A strange situation

On Monday I wanted to take the garbage out. The bag was full and it seemed like a good thing to do. But, I couldn't. Not because of any physical inability or an exceptional clingy baby who wouldn't let me out of his sight (well, maybe that one...). No, it was because I lacked stickers.

Here in Switzerland, recycling is free. Some things you take back to the store; some things you take to recycling bins and some things you put out with the garbage. But, recycle all you want, it's free!

Not so with garbage. Each garbage bag must have the appropriate sticker on it. A standard kitchen sized garbage bag is 35 liters and costs CHF2.40. ($2.25) If you put a non-stickered bag in the bin or on the curb they either won't pick it up, or the garbage police will go through it to find out who the culprit is.

I bought stickers, so my garbage has been taken out. Jason and I were discussing this and he was shocked (shocked, I tell you, shocked!) that I totally approve of this system. He thought that since I was all libertarian like and anti recycling (really), I would want a system where I can throw away all the garbage I wanted to.

Well, I do have a system where I can throw away all the garbage I want to. I just have to pay for it. I think this is a tremendously fair system. Switzerland is a small country and they are concerned about waste. Rather than limiting the amount of garbage, or shaming people into compliance, they just charge for garbage disposal, by the bag.

Now, before you get your knickers twisted, you pay for garbage disposal as well. You either pay for it directly, or through your taxes. In Doylestown, the garbage men would collect an unlimited amount of garbage from us and they came twice a week. We threw away a lot more there then we do now. Why? Because whether I threw away one melon rind or an entire bedroom set, the cost was the same. (Not that I ever threw away a bedroom set, but I could have.)

Granted, as long as I put my melon rind or my bedroom set in the garbage can, it took the garbage men the same amount of time to take it away, but I could leave it by the curb, and make them pick up each piece and crunch it in their cool truck. Same cost.

I think it makes sense to charge the users. I also like toll roads. So there.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Another Potty Post

This is a story about the public toilet pictured above. Please note, this is the actual potty in the story. We aim for accuracy in reporting. Please also note that this story happened to Sarah and Sarah has given me permission to share it with you all.

A few months ago, Sarah and Jason were in Basel without me and Daniel. Sarah needed to go potty, so they headed to these lovely public toilets at a very busy tram stop called Barfussserplatz.

For the unitiated, some of these toilets don't have normal flush mechanisms. They have buttons on the wall labeled "WC." They also have similar buttons labeled "SOS." Sarah, being new to the high tech bathroom scene was sitting on the throne, wondering what the "SOS" button did.

So, being highly inquisitive, she pushed it. Oops.

A siren sounded, lights flashed and the door opened. Yikes! Sarah, aware that she was now exposed to a line of people waiting for their turn, leapt off the toilet and ran to the corner and started screaming. Jason ran in and was able to stop the sirens and close the door.

All in all, a very embarrassing experience. But, now that it is several months in the past, it's a hilarious story.

So, when you come visit us, you don't need to find out for yourself what the SOS button does. Just try to stick to the WC one.