Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Professor

Well I need to go back and recap some things that have happened to me since I have been here which I didn't discuss before. One of the first ones that comes to mind is my French teacher from the course I took in January.

I don't want to sound stereotypical and judgemental, but if you could picture a "dirty old French man," this guy would be it, to a T. To be honest, it was absolutely hilarious and entertaining to be in his presence for 2 hours a night.

Alias: Professor
Age: 53
Marital Status: Divorced 3 times
Car: Rides the bus
Languages: French, English, some Spanish
Stature: About 5'10", large gut covered by an orange button down shirt which he wore every single day of class, chin length white hair and a big bushy white beard, like santa. And he laughed a lot, like santa. Except santa doesn't smell like cigarettes.

In my class were 5 youngish girls and 2 guys. This was a good ratio for Professor. When we would work in our workbooks in class, he would come around and check how everyone was doing. For the girls, he would literally lean RIGHT over you and was so close you could feel him breathing on you. Then say some comment like "Oui, Oui, you are beautiful and smahrt" or one that I got was "marvellieux, marvellieux, I lave you, ho ho ho ho ho!!!" Also one night when we were riding the bus home, he told me that I was a very quick learner in French, and also, that he "ated" the bus but when riding with me it was ok, because when it stoppped he bumped into me.

He was a very good professor actually. While he told us that "Zee best vay to learn zuh langugage ees on zuh pillow," he had some very good examples of how to remember French vocabulary.

Example: "Tante" (meaning, tent as in camping, or aunt)
"Ze word 'tante,' zis can be for faire le comping or can be zuh seester of your mohzer. For me, I sometimes would preefur to be undar ze other tante zan zuh comping tante. Ho ho ho ho ho!"

Example: the verb "choisir" (meaning, to choose)
"Par example, en zuh marning, I can ask Jeckleen (note: this is how my name is pronounced here) after she stay at my ouse and kuk me zuh breakfast, if I should choisis le chemise blanche ou le chemise rouge. Ho ho ho ho ho!"

Example: the verb "batre" (meaning, to beat)
"Zere is a saying we ave, 'Batre su femme tout le matin...' do you know zees saying? 'Beat your wife every morning, if you don't know ze raison why, she will,' ho ho ho ho ho!"

All in all, despite the fact that these comments would sometimes toe the line of harassment (I think it is safe to say were this in the U.S. he would have been sued), it did help us to laugh a lot and put the class at ease, which was a relief a lot of times. And he did teach us a lot and encouraged lots of talking in class which is the best way to practice. French can be so damn frustrating with all of the stupid masculine, feminine, the articles, the pronunuciation, ahhhh catastrophe!!! I am signing up for another class next month and hope to actually see Professor again. I tried going to another one after his ended but the class was too far advanced, and the lady professor was an old battie with awful B.O.

So, would you rather be hit on by a harmless old man, or have to spend 2 hours a night sitting in the stench of an old battie? I'll take Professor any day.

And finally...his class handouts, while very helpful, reeked of marijuana. Definitely a man who appreciates higher learning!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Leysin...aka Antarctica

I just wanted to post 4 pictures from the journee de ski in Leysin. I said it was foggy and the visibility was bad right? I just reviewed my photos and they are ridiculous. Really it was not even that cold but I think I could have sold them as photos of a south pole expedition. See for yourself!


by the way...totally random aside but I just found out there is a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? Did anyone see this? I am really interested in a review.


Just another quick message...since I am under major blog maintenance!

I added a link to my friend's blog, Endless Capacity for Useless Information. This is hilarious and is full of good travel tips and stories so I suggest you read it!

Also I would like to know...what questions do you have about my life in Switzerland? Then I can address this on the blog.

I can answer a few of them maybe right now.

1) Am I homesick? No. Not really. The weather here and the food make up for everything I would miss about Chicago. However I did get a little misty eyed when watching "While You Were Sleeping" the other night, which takes place in Chicago.

2) Do I miss Justin? This really is a silly question. Of course I miss him and it totally sucks. But we are surviving and have nice things to look forward to like spending a week in NYC in the spring and spending all summer together in Europe.

3) Do I eat a lot of cheese and chocolate? Yes. Probably a little too much. But sometimes you just have to say to yourself when in Rome.

Anything else is open! Let me know.

"Prochain arret..Servette"

Well now I have really gone over the moon. FOUR posts in 24 hours people!! So since I have been totally pathetic at doing this for the past 4 months, I need to catch up. So I will now profess in words my love for one of my most favorite things in Geneva: the public transport. For today we will discuss the bus. I love the train perhaps 100 times more. But everyone likes trains better. I bet you did not know how wonderful a bus system could be.

Oh Transports Publics Genevois is wonderful, at least for me. Let me give you some reasons why:

1) I can take the 9, 29 or 10 bus to work and 9 and 10 home. I never have to wait more than like 3 minutes for a bus to work because of this. Yes I happen to live at a good stop but this is a moot point, I still love the bus.

2) The buses follow a schedule (gasp!) and they stick to it! This means that when I want to go home, I can actually leave and not have to wait on an L platform for 45 minutes tapping my foot and wondering why the thing is late.

3) A lot of the buses are electric which is good for the environment!

4) Most of the buses are "accordion" that I take which means they are long with lots of room. And they are also usually very clean so it makes for a pleasant ride to work.

5) You can get Le Matin Bleu (equivalent of the Red Eye) on the bus for free in the morning.

6) People can bring their dogs on the bus which is really cute and entertaining! Somehow the dogs always know to lay down and be quiet. I guess Swiss dogs are smart.

7) I just noticed that most of the little ticket kiosks where you can buy your bus ticket have solar panels on them, meaning they are solar powered (duh) which is also good for the environment!

8) The doors only open when someone pushes a button to request for them to open. This saves time loading people if there is no one there to get on and also keeps the bus warmer since the doors do not open for no reason.

9) If you are buying your ticket at the last minute, most drivers will wait for you to encourage you to not ride the bus without a ticket (this continues in point 10)

10) The buses and trams are on the honor system. So this means they trust you to buy your ticket and have it before you get on the bus. Since I have been here, my ticket has only been checked once. It is really exciting when this happens though! All of the sudden at the Balexert stop, 4 guys got on, one at each door, all in uniforms. Then they check the tickets in between stops so you cannot escape! I have an annual pass so as long as I have this with me, I am safe. Supposedly they fine you 60 Sfr if you do not have your ticket but worse than that is that they embarass you in front of the entire bus. I did see someone handing over money when this happened to me but they didn't embarass him. Maybe the bus was not full enough to make spectacles. Anyway, it was a real thrill, kind of like right after I turned 21 and I would still get nervous to go to bars even though I knew I was legal. Almost everyone except for that one man did have their ticket, so I think it is a good system.

Oh one other thing...the bus schedules are very clever and interactive! When you go to the bus lines, you can click on your stop and it will then show you the schedule for your line, but also it shows at the top how many minutes to get to each stop down the line. It is actually kind of sad that I am so fascinated by the TPG system but that shows you how terrible the public transport in Chicago has gotten. I would ride the bus in Chicago only if I was not in a hurry. It is extensive but totally unreliable.

If you are really bored you can check out the schedules at www.tpg.ch you can check out the clever schedule thing yourself! At http://www.unireso.com/files/horaires/20070305/9.pdf
and my stop is "Servette."


Well this thing is so silly and I can never post pictures. But I just added some to my kodak gallery. These are from Tim's visit, about 12 or so out of the 100 I think he took. But they are good ones! This was actually about a month ago now.

See I am getting better at blogging already. Yay!


decisions, decisions

By some miracle of technology, the internet is working yet again so I need to post! My problem with the internet is my own little monster and I need to kick it to the curb soon. The problem is, when I moved here, I signed up for Swisscom (essentially the only telephone utility provider in Switz) for phone and internet. However ordering the service on the website was all in German. Even now my french is not great, but I can generally understand what they are asking. German is just its own issue and for some reason my blogger page has also gone Deutsch so I imagine I am going to have a pretty difficult time changing any format or posting photos on here for a while.

In any case, I thought I ordered a modem to go with my internet package. So I stupidly waited around until January and went back and re-read the set up instructions I got later (in English) and realized I am actually not getting a modem. Then last month I tried to buy and install a modem and router but that didn't work. Basically I need to bite the bullet and call Swisscom to come save me, but I have to do so much other admin crap each week like paying a million bills, responding to letters threatening to kick me out of the canton because I didn't have health insurance, etc, and these are all in french so it takes a long time to deal with. Meanwhile I have been "borrowing" a wireless signal but I figure since I am actually paying for internet with Swisscom and don't have it yet, that this is not stealing.

Well I have some issues today. First of all I have no idea what time it is. I think it was daylight savings last night but I am really not sure. They don't advertise with cute little clock cartoons and things like they do in the U.S. I happened to hear about this last night at the journee de ski which is the only reason I think it might be true. My computer seems to have adjusted so I guess I should trust this one. Unfortunately I did not take this into account when setting my alarms last night so I was very proud of waking up early until about 10 minutes ago when I burst my bubble. Shoot.

Also, I need to go to work, and I have a lot to do as it is tax season. My boss has put a mandate that we must send out 60 tax returns by April 15. Which is about 3 weeks away. Any guesses how many have gone out??? It is a difficult process because they all essentially have to go through one manager and if he gets behind (which he already is) we are screwed. So I have to go in and fly through about 5 reviews today.

Also I NEED to do laundry and I'm not sure if you would understand or if I should tell you how desperately I need to do laundry. Recall that I have to haul my clothes 2 blocks down the street to do this so clearly, I have been saying I need to do laundry for about 3 weeks. It has gotten to the point where everything needs to be washed and I don't know what do to. I think I am going to go with sheets, snowboard clothes and pants and the rest will have to wait until later this week. I think I will just go to work first to get it overwith but I have a feeling Sunday night at the laundry mat is going to be verrrry busy. It is going to be a long 2 years of this I can tell you right now.

My last issue is that I have absolutely no food (lucky for me I ate a pound of fondue last night and can probably survive off this for some time). Since it is sunday, and evvvvverything is closed, I'm not sure what to do for making it through the work day. Working on the weekends sucks and requires some kind of motivation, for me this is usually good music and some nice food. But my choices are croissant, kebab or mcdonalds (I refuse) or nothing. I think I will go to work and try to convince someone to order lunch for us.

Well time to hit the shower. Does anyone else think the NCAA tournament is super boring this year? There is a chance, a good one, for it to be 3 #1 seeds and a 2 seed. I think that is really terrible and fortunately I have not really been able to watch the games this year. Vandy...sounds like they got a little hosed but I think they need more tournament experience. Next time they will make it out of the Elite 8!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Journee de Ski!

Bonjour tout le monde! I am so tired but I promised I would start blogging more and today is a good day to start because it was the Deloitte Journee de Ski (Ski Day!). It was a super fun day.

I of course was running late this morning but met up with everyone about 835 at the office. Actually there were not many people from my team there, but there was a girl Louise I have become friends with from audit and a bunch of other audit people and also some IT people. You could bring guests too so a lot of people brought spouses, siblings etc. So I have been on a lot of ski buses this season so far and this one was VERY posh. Nice new bus with pretty green seats and lots of room. It was lovely. On the bus on the way to Leysin, a few helpful individuals dished out croissants, coffee, pain au chocolat and juice, mmmm! A nice pre-ski brekky!

Leysin is in Switzerland a little bit past the lake when going around it (I think) so it only took about an hour to get there, maybe a little bit more. When we arrived, there was a slight problem. The mountain wasn't there. This is because it was soooo foggy that you could hardly see anything. It went kind of on and off like that throughout the day but for the most part the visibility was absolutely awful. Fortunately there was a ton of snow this week in CH so the snow was really good! None of the runs were even groomed which was verrrry interesting. Lots of steeps though so this was really fun for my snowboarding and good practice! The mountain was almost completely empty so we had the place pretty much to ourselves, which was fun.

At 2pm sharp was the slalom race!! I have never done a slalom before but apparently it is not an option, everyone has to do it and we wear little jerseys to boot. I was number 4 and the second one to go!! My first run was actually really fast and fun. After you get to the bottom, you can watch the rest and yell ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ! (go go go!) and bang your poles etc. We went up for the second run of the slalom and coming around gate 3 I caught a little bit of a bad edge and ooooops je tombe!! I popped back up though and finished the course in record time! (I thought) Turns out I actually came in last place for the women. However, the last place finisher got a nice box of chocolates so this is fine with me!!

We skied a few more runs afer the slalom and then had a quick snack (vino blanco, cheese, dried meat, little tart thingys) and then ended up skiing down for the true last run as the telecabine closed. The last run was very nice and still not groomed but a little bit easier to manage than the other runs in the morning.

Of course there is no better way to end a long day of skiing than with a nice meal. The group of us went to this very cute restaurant (of course they are all cute here made out of logs and super old etc) where we started out with a nice apertif (Kir for me) and vino blanco, then had some bread with this very nice herb butter and dried meat (Notice the theme of the dried meat here) and then a GIGANTIC pot of fondue and there were 4 of them!!! Mmmmm c'est bon!! The fondue was sooo good and filled us all up. After this we had some dessert and tea. It was a really fun meal and I got to know some of my other co-workers which was cool.

We trudged back to the bus and all settled in for the ride back to Geneva (sleeeeeeep). The worst part about the day was getting off the bus to go walk with all of our crap at 11pm to go catch the local bus. Overall though a spectacular day! And tomorrow, tax returns!!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

No pictures

I know a lot of peoplw who use blogger and I think it REALLY sucks for uploading pictures. Anyone who uses blogger and can upload pictures, can you please tell me how you get it to do that??

Well my first wave of visitors is over. Justin came for Valentine's Day (yes, ok, and he brought a heart shaped pizza from Lou Malnatis) and stayed for 5 days. It was fantastic, we spent most of the time in Geneva, but also went out to the countryside for a fondue and about 5 bottles of wine (there were other people there too...Dave and Lisa), and it was really hard when he left. Missing people is very weird because I kind of don't think about it until I actually see them or talk to them or think of something that reminds me of a relationship and then it sucks. So I was in a state of major depression and then my friend Tim just came here to visit last weekend which cheered me up. We went skiing (meaning, we sat inside and drank and watched the blizzard in Flaine and took a ton of pictures), went to the Paquis (meaning, Tim got really excited looking for hookers) and in general probably weirded a lot of people out. We also took a lot of really good pictures of the jet d'eau which would be NICE if I could upload them.

Well this is a really lame post but I need to go to bed. IKEA is coming tomorrow with my couch between 7:30 and 9. UGh! I wouldn't mind except that I had a client meeting at 830 in Lausanne this morning, so I had to get up already at 6 today. Anyway I am going to bed. Still don't have the internet sorted out so the posts are going to continue to be at a very random pace. Sorry about that!