Monday, November 17, 2008

Laundry, this is the Last Time

Readers, I have HAPPY NEWS!!

I just realized that tonight was very likely my LAST trip to the laundromat, ever!!!

I am going home on Saturday for a week, and then I return November 30. After that I am in Geneva for just 2 more weeks. And readers, let me tell you, I can make my laundry str-e-e-e-tch (it's all about the handwash). So it's not likely I will have to go again.

Oh laundro, I will not miss you. I will not miss the randoms that hang out there who come with 25 garbage bags full of clothes. I will not miss when I have to fight people for dryers. I will not miss men looking at my sexy underwear when I manage to drop JUST those on the floor on my way to the dryer. I will not miss lugging my clothes 5 blocks away and having you use up all my good coins and refusing to take my 10s and 20s. I will not miss that time you locked my clothes in the machine!!

After this, I will either be using:

a) Justin's new common washer and dryer in the basement of his building
Pro: It's in the basement
Con: The basement is scary and you have to go outside, requires quarters

b) Aimee's in-apartment washer and dryer
Pro: It's in a cute "laundry closet" and it's free
Con: Aimee will probably force me to "just throw in a few things with mine"

c) Mamoo's energy saving, super quiet, totally awesome washer and dryer in Naperville
Pro: Comes with Mamoo's free laundry expertise; if you are lucky it will be folded and packaged just like if you sent it out!
Con: Have to drive to Naperville to do it

To commemorate this happy occassion, I have written a small ode to the laundromat:

(to the tune of ABBA's "Dancing Queen," since I saw Mamma Mia! again)...

You can wash, you can drrrryyyyyy
having the time of your life
See that girl, wash those jeans,
She is the washing queen!

Monday night and the lights are lowwwwww
Lookin out for a place to gooooo
Where they got the right washers, getting in the swing, I've come to wash my things
Any washer could be my guyyyyy
Night is young and the setting's hiiiiiiiiiiigh
With a bit of detergent
Everything is fine
I'll soon have some clean pants
And when I get the chaaaaaance

I am the washing queen,
Young and sweet, gettin my clothes clean
Washing queen,
Get those coins from the change machine!
You can wash, you can dryyyyy
Having the time of your liiiiife
See that girl, wash those jeans
Diggin the washing queen!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This is cool

I just woke up and saw these words on my internet homepage:

"Barack Obama est devenu le premier président noir de l'histoire des Etats-Unis. Après son écrasante victoire, il a déclaré que "le changement arrive en Amérique".

Which even if you don't understand French, you know.

It's been super cool to be over here for the election. People in Europe have been very interested in the race, curious about both candidates and how our voting process works, and hopeful that whoever was to win the election, this individual could help to repair America's relations abroad.

So now, on verra!! Time to head to work to spread the good word!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Down on the Farm Part II

Hi readers! You thought I forgot about this, didn't you? No, I've just been lazy. So let's back up, shall we?

When we last left our heroine, me, I had just tucked in for the night down on the farm near Stein am Rhein. So I slept in the dorm, not the straw, but it was still pretty darn cold - there was no heat in there. I slept in my long johns under an old Swiss military blanket and felt warm and snuggly...till I had to get out of bed the next morning!

I went down for breakfast and spoke for a few minutes with Doris, Heinz's wife. She was super nice and making us breakfast of fresh bread, cheese, meat, yogurt and fruit. The coffee was AWESOME (Doris did not make the coffee though - I think that was Nespresso). Being a farm, there were bugs buzzing around inside, which I was NOT a fan of. At one point, a bee buzzed over my head and landed on one of the ceiling beams. Doris reached up with a kleenex and smushed it. "Wow, you're brave!" I exclaimed. "Oh, that was a male one...they don't sting, and they are very stupid and slow," she explained. Naturally!!

As I sat down to eat, my bunkmates appeared. It was a middle aged German woman with short grey hair, and her daughter, who seemed about 14. I found out shortly that the woman, Dorothea, spoke english, so we were able to chat over breakfast. We talked a bit about how I got here, why was I traveling alone, etc. I was also curious to speak with her about German vs Swiss German. I didn't realize this at first here, but Swiss German (or Schwyzertuutsch, which sounds like "Schweizer Deutsch") is purely a spoken language and completely incomprehensible to "regular" Germans. Most newspapers etc are written in high German, which is the same, but when it comes to speaking, Swiss German is basically a totally different language which is not written down. I was always glad that I was in the French speaking part!

Anyway, as we finished up breakfast, Dorothea and Lea offered to drive me into town. This was HUGELY appreciated because otherwise I would have had to wait for the random bus by the woodcutter's house, which I'm pretty sure came only once per hour.

We packed up to go and I went in to say goodbye to Doris and Heinz. Inside, their 4 kids were running around - all little blond haired ones, 3 of them holding baby kittens and playing gently with them. It was really one of the sweetest scenes I have ever seen (try that 5 times fast). They were such a nice family. There is a link to their farm here which is in German, but you get the idea. And this page is the family one - so cute!

Stein am Rhein was just a short drive away. When we arrived there, I told Dorothea and Lea that I was going to walk through town...kind of giving them an "out" in case they wanted to ditch this random American. "mmhmm," Dorothea hummed, and discussed with her daughter in German for a moment. "We will walk with you, we have all afternoon and are not in a hurry," she announced. We wandered to the town square, and she pointed out many of the buildings and the history. "Oh there's a museum I want to show you!" So we walked through a small museum and again got a history lesson. "Oh this is a famous shop!" I walked around with them for about an hour or so, enjoying the cute little town, and then we parted ways with warm handshakes and a "Tchuss!"
This is a picture of the town square. I have seen things like this before, but only at like, Epcot. Switzerland continues to surprise me.

For me, it was back on the train, now to Schaffhausen to get to the Rhinefalls. The ride was not long, and I was soon walking down a hill towards the sound of rushing water. I won't discuss the falls too much because the pictures say it, but it was pretty impressive.

While my day started off cloudy, it cleared up quickly, so I spend a long time lingering by the falls and enjoying the beautiful colors and scenery. The Swiss being Swiss and clever like they are, had built a number of different viewing platforms in order for you to be able to experience the water from afar, below you, right next to you, etc. It was really cool.

The most amazing thing was there was a huge rock in the middle of the falls where a tiny viewing platform had been built. To get there, you had to take a small boat into the falls and hop out. Of course like any sucker, I paid the 6 CHF and got on the boat. It was well worth it. The view of the falls from on the water was gorgeous, and as we crossed the Rhine, the green water beneath the boat was bubbling excitedly, giving the impression that we were cruising through the inside of a san pellegrino bottle. From the top of the rock, the water crashed down on either side of you while you stood under a brave Swiss flag. Very cool!

After I had enough fun in the water, I stopped for a beer and to send a postcard to Justin, before heading to catch the train to Winterthur, Zurich, and eventually back to Geneva.

You can see more pictures by following this link.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I had a really Euro-style day today and found it pretty amusing -

-I went to see a movie (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and even though there were several parts where the characters were speaking Spanish and the only subtitles were in French (or German), I found I could still understand everything going on. yay! The movie was good and I noticed that some of Rustbucket's friends made cameos!

-I went to the pool for a swim and afterwards was standing under one of the dryers - side note - they have these AWESOME big dryers mounted on the wall that you can move up and down to dry your hair etc...such a good idea and you don't have to bring a hairdryer to the gym. Anyway, I was using the one just inside the locker room and seriously, this pool boy came by to vacuum up the water on the locker room floor and I suddenly realized he was vacuuming in a circle around me. Literally every time I would shake a droplet of water on the floor he would suck it up. It was hilarious, I mean who has the kind of patience/desire to keep things in such a good order EXCEPT in Switzerland??

-As I was riding my bike home around sunset, I passed a slow moving Italian on his bike. "Ciao bella, comment ca va?" he said. "Bonsoir!" I yelled and pedaled off in a hurry. Don't be jealous J man, he wasn't cute, but seriously I thought it was hilarious. Hitting on a someone while riding bikes?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

One last thing

I know I've been kind of veering off the subject of Swiss life lately, but what good is a blog if you can't use it as a soapbox every once in a while? I promise this is it. The video is worth it.

I actually know some people who told me they are not voting, so I hope this changes their mind:

Monday, October 06, 2008

Me, Ms. Absentee

So I voted today!! I can say first hand that I understand how they screwed it up in the past. It's a bit confusing, at least the whole absentee thing.

I was already registered to vote in my state, so it was easy for me to request an absentee ballot for the primary. But I found out the hard way in college that at least in Illinois, if you have never voted before, you can't vote for your first time as an absentee. That's how it was in 2000, anyway. So I didn't vote that year.

Anyway I did vote in 04 and as I said, was then able to easily request the absentee ballot this past winter. You have to put what it is that makes you an absentee - are you in the military, are you a citizen temporarily residing abroad (me) , are you a citizen in jail currently awaiting bond and cannot go to your polling place (hmmm, not me), etc. Then I put my political affiliation, even though I don't have one - but I guess in some states if you don't put that, you don't get to vote in the primary. Anyway, then a few weeks later, I got my ballot for the primary. They send you like a MAJOR envelope that's super official looking. That little parcel is definitely on official U.S. business. And inside is a ballot and a secret envelope, and another envelope for you to put the little secret one in, in order to mail it. Then you have to practically sign your name in blood saying that you voted in secret. Finally if you happen to live near the embassy, you can take it to them and they mail it for free. Unfortunately for me, I do not. So essentially I had to pay to vote in the primary.

Now a few weeks ago I got the biggie ballot. I was kind of confused though because it was a federal write in ballot. Not the scan tran one. The instructions said that my county's ballot was not ready yet, but when it was ready, they would send it to me. And to mail it in as soon as I got it. But if it was too late to mail it in, that they wouldn't count it, so I should mail this one in, and if I mailed both in, they would know which one to count. Got that? Of course this was in September, so I ignored it. Lo and behold, I got my REAL scantron ballot on Friday from my county. I went back and checked the write in again, and I guess they throw it out if you send the real one in by the deadline. The deadline according to my county is that it must be postmarked the day before the election in order to be counted. So since I have a lot of time, I figured to ditch the mail in and just go with the real one. I don't think they need any additional confusion over there in the church basement where they're counting the votes all night.
Word to election officials - you should probably write what color pen to use to mark the ballot ON THE BALLOT. I was lucky and guessed black after looking everywhere for the instructions on how to mark it. Then on the back of the instruction sheet, there was a short sentence about what color ink to use. Of course the entire instruction sheet is in caps, underlined, etc about all the things you need to do and not do, so it didn't exactly stand out. Again - on the ballot. This should be as fool proof as possible.

So I voted and put it in the secret envelope. Then I had to sign again saying it was secret and yes, I was temporarily residing outside the country, not awaiting bail. This morning I excitedly waved my official looking ballot around my office (it was ok, because I had already safely sealed it at home so NO ONE could influence my vote). Then I took it to be mailed and to send it "recommande," which is like registered mail, cost me 12 CHF!

Anyway, I'm proud to say I did my civic duty. It has a nice feeling to it. Kind of like when I give directions to a lost random person or workout first thing in the morning. Except I don't get a cool "I voted!" sticker like I normally do from my polling place.
And remember if you don't vote, you don't get to complain. So get out there and vote!!! We can all do it, doggone it, yes we can!!

Here is a picture of the super secret envelope to put the ballot in - actually it's the one from the primary. See how official looking it is?? Hope I don't have to mark my next ballot from jail for posting this...


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sports Redemption!!!

Vanderbilt is ranked #13 in the U.S. and is 5-0 for the first time since world war II!! yEEEAAAH!!

who ya with VU?!

This is so FREAKIN typical, part II

Yes of course I woke up at 6am to watch the second half of Cubs game 3 against the Dodgers. For whatever reason my wasn't working too well (the whole point of why I bought it was to someday watch playoff games, so WTF?), but fortunately I was able to at leat listen to Pat Hughes and Ron Santo. The two of them sounded frustrated and desperate, just like all of the Cubs fans out there. Clutch hitting...we don't have it.

Everyone said before the playoffs started that the Cubs were a solid team because they were so well rounded. If their hitting was bad, their pitching could pull them out, and if their pitching was off, their hitting could pull them out. Everyone contributed and there was no one player for whom we had to rely on success. So I guess since EVERYONE on the team played awful, is the reason that we lost (maybe DeRosa gets a pass since his hitting was great - but that error...).

It's really sad and frustrating but we're getting kind of used to it now. Maybe we need to lower our expectations a bit? I don't know what the answer is.

I find the most ridiculous thing is that the Trib is publishing a book called "this is the year" or something like that and that they were having a camera crew follow the cubs around in the postseason...this was of course before anything good had happened. Does anyone think this is a good idea?! Things like that are an obvious jinx!!!