Monday, September 3, 2007

Sea Shipment Arrives

First of all, for those who have been writing to me, complaining that I have not updated this as often as I usually do, I apologize. Things have been busy here, and I haven't had much opportunity to sit at the computer and type. And I haven't had much mood, either, as you will see shortly. I will soon change the tagline from "Piet's Daily Journal" to "Whenever Piet Gets Around To It -or- Quasi-Weekly Journal" I would also like to thank you for actually visiting the site to find that I am a slacker and haven't updated the pages in a week.

Sea Shipment Arrives
On Wednesday, August 22nd, our sea shipment finally arrived. Yay! The sea shipment contained all the stuff I had learned to live without. It also contained all of the furniture that was currently held in the role of the rental furniture. In case you haven't been paying attention, (or I didn't mention it), we had rented most of our furniture, which looked like a shopping spree at Ikea. We asked the rental company if we could just make our lives easier and buy the furniture, and they said, "Sure! Please to be paying 5500 CHF!" That is when we decided to go to Ikea and buy some of the same furniture that we really liked; when we decided that the American bed we shipped over sucked, and was too big and uncomfortable; that was also when we realized we needed to buy our closet space. Oh so much to describe, I better slow down. Too much coffee this morning.

The Sea Shipment day was an action-packed day. The rental furniture had to go, the new sea shipment stuff had to find a way into our apartment; the final things we had bought at the Ikea in the days previous had to be assembled in a rapid fashion, or we wouldn't have any floor space to put together everything. Yikes! The Monday and Tuesday preceding the sea shipment consisted of lots of screwdriver turning and hammering as we assembled shelves. There were a few things that simply could not be assembled, due to the fact that there wasn't enough room for the rental furniture that hadn't left yet, and the new Ikea stuff that still was pending assembly. Namely, the bed in my bedroom, and the wardrobe in the hall. Some other things did get assembled beforehand, like the new chairs, my new computer desk, Stacy's computer desk. About half of the 1200 pounds of junk that we crammed into the Monster-Mercedes.

On the morning of that Wednesday, the rental furniture people showed up to pack up their stuff, which included the kitchen-ware, the dining room table, the couch, the chairs, the bed in my room; Jake's bed, all of the furniture in the Kids' room, all of the furniture in the living room, all of the TV's, and all of the silverware.

Second Trip to Gurten
The second half of the day's excitement was the sea shipment people who needed to show up late enough so that the rental furniture would be gone, and early enough so they could get done by 1700 (That's 5 PM for you Americans who don't know what 24-hour clocks are). Of course, the sea shipment people showed up too early, and started carrying things upstairs before there was sufficient enough room to put new equipment. I am sure that if you get Stacy started on the subject, she will begin ranting about how awful it was.

I, however, was charged with the very important task of keeping the kids out of the way. Out of the way means "out of the apartment." So, this meant another day to Gurten. As was previously reported, we had already enjoyed a day trip to Gurten, the only change in cast this time, was Stacy was not present, and Jake was not along for the original trip, but was present on the sea-shipment day.

Since the school year started on that Monday, there weren't any kids around on the top of Gurten, just us, and a few pre-schoolers. It wasn't as warm as the original day we went, and the kids were not permitted to play in the pond. Also, the kiddy train wasn't in operation until 13:30. The bumper cars were empty, and the kids drove around once, realized there was nobody to crash into, and gave up after one Franc.

The Rube Goldburg machine! Ah, I didn't explain the joys of the big ball machine adequately for the last Gurten trip. There is this huge contraption at Gurten park that is unlike anything I have seen in the US, (but I have seen one at the Singapore Science Center). The machine consists of three sections along with about a dozen what appear to be bocce balls.

The aim of the game is to get your ball all the way through the course. The course consists mostly of metal tracks for your ball to travel on, and every few meters of travel, the course presents you with various levers that must be pulled, wheels that have to be turned, dials that have to be twiddled, or cables that have to be yanked. Occasionally, there are a few places where the ball will fall off the track. The kids really enjoyed this contraption, and so did I.

I think I enjoyed the device the most when Joshie would get a ball moving, and as it raced through the tracks, Josh would chase the ball. The ball would inevitably change course while following a track, and Josh would have to dart around, trying to figure out where the ball would end up next. The aim of the game is to get the ball all the way through the three islands, back to where you originally started. I guess it takes about 20 minutes with about 2 dozen tasks to get all the way through the course, but I wasn't watching my watch, and wasn't counting the number of devices.

There is a big playground of raised walkways, and wooden ladders, etc, that the kids call the "Ewok Village", and now that they call it that, it does sort of look like the tree houses that the Ewoks lived in. We climbed the Gurten tower again, this time I got pictures of the building. We looked at the apartment, and called Stacy. We had her move some of the sun shades, so that it could help me point out the apartment for the kids.

After we climbed down from the tower, we enjoyed lunch in the cafeteria, where kids got to enjoy the comfort food of Chicken Nuggets. I had the kids run all around, and enjoy the day, but even at such an interesting place as Gurten park, there comes a time when the kids run out of joy. The kids were ready to go home.

I call home, Stacy says "No way, there's no room, the two sets of movers are arguing with each other, it's a disaster here." So I find a way to stall the kids even more. There was an indoor playground at the restaurant at the top of Gurten, and I had the kids goof of there for another hour, as I sat on the balcony and took pictures of the town below. Finally, Jake said he had a headache, and our time was up, and we had to come home.

Compulsive Hoarding
We came home to a jam packed disaster of an apartment. I felt like my spacious, almost spartan apartment with stylish European furniture has undergone a Gregor Samsa-like Metamorphosis. The first sentence of the Metamorphosis went like this:
Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt.

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.
As I walked into the apartment, I was met with the same level of shock as poor Gregor Samsa must have realized, so allow me to re-write the first sentence of the Kafka masterpiece:

Als Piet Barber eines Mittag aus unruhigen Ferien beim Gurten, fand er sich in seine Wohnung zu eine schrechliche Unordnung. 1

As Piet Barber one afternoon, after an unsettling holiday at Gurten, found himself at his Apartment to a terrible mess (disorder).
As predicted in the second law of Thermodynamics, entropy has won. I sank into the sort of depression that faces one who is challenged with an unending task, such as dealing with the DMV or IRS. I also felt as if I had walked not into my apartment, but mistakenly found myself in the house of the worst compulsive hoarder. I was reminded of the stories I have seen on TV and on the Internet of the crazy old lady with stacks of newspapers since 1983, "Just in case she needed them." At the moment I saw things like towering boxes of toys and felt quite the same.

It is really hard to explain the funk I quickly found myself in. For some reason, my brain keeps coming back to roaches, even though there were no roaches in the apartment or shipment. I think it's the horror I witnessed of the piled boxes and disaster in the apartment, along perhaps the Kafka reference. Perhaps the only times I've experienced such horrific shock was a midnight snack in my old Arlington apartment, the shock of seeing a floor covered in roaches once the light is flicked-on. Shock for both me and the roaches, as I shout "Roaches!" and as the roaches shout "Human!"

While I'm on this really weird tangent, my mind also leads me to my recollection of my favorite "Straight Dope" article -- Their excellent article series about roaches.
There are two proven approaches to dealing with la cucaracha: (1) borax, and (2) arson.
I felt as if, to modify the Cecil Adams article; (and I hope you readers don't take this the wrong way, especially if a fire ever does break out in the apartment)
...There are only two viable strategies to deal with this apartment disaster: (1) Escape, and let Stacy deal with it, and (2) arson.

Packing Strategies Re-evaluated
While we were still in Virginia, I don't know where I was during the packing time. I think I was at work, escaping from the draining endless stream of questions that I would doubtless had been faced with, if I was present. A constant stream of confrontational questions like "Should we ship the box of this toys, or should we store it." A shrug of indifference was always my reply, and when confronted to give an answer, I would answer with as random an answer as I could come up with. Then, invariably, Stacy would choose the other option. She is a saint for putting up with me.

The evening of my Kafka-like experience of witnessing the endless piles of boxes, I got into an email conversation with a co-worker's wife -- they will be relocating to Switzerland, and were at that moment, were preparing their shipment and storage piles. I gave her this advice to her questions, in-line:

Get everything into as discrete a pile as you can get it. they will not let you pack your own stuff. But do them a favor and at least get stuff into recognizable enough piles so they can save some time. Buy them lunch. It will probably take several days to move all your collected junk. Treat them nicely. They can lose your stuff into a river very easily if you treat them like crap.

Remember there are FIVE piles you need to consider:

What do I need to throw in the trash
What do I need to pack into my luggage
What do I need to go into the air shipment
What do I need to go into the sea shipment. --
What can I put into storage.

Then ask yourself again, What can I take from my sea shipment and put into the trash, or into storage. I heartily recommend taking as little stuff as you can comfortably imagine. Then divide the pile in half again.

My panic-attack-of-the-day is that for some reason we won't get visas period.

I recognize that panic attack. I have a special place on the Monbijoustrasse bridge just in case that happens for me.

Is that anything I should be concerned about? I'm a total type-A worst-case-scenario kind of girl, so I'm hoping I'm just worrying about nothing.

You have nothing on my wife who is far more type A than you , and she seems less stressed. So suck it up, lady.

Questions, before I forget:
I've pretty much scoured the house from roof to nasty-carpeted-floor and just want to see if there's anything else I should do.

Wall to wall carpet is evil and should never have become fashionable in the US. But remember, if you live above neighbors, they probably will hear you guys thudding everytime you walk around. If you are a soft-footed side-walled walker like me, you're good. If you're a heel-toe thudder like my wife and kids, maybe you should consider some strategically placed rugs to soften the blow.

Introduce yourself to your neighbors before they form an opinion about how loud a thud-walker you are. They will not introduce themselves to you. Do the introductions as soon as possible, preferably on the day before all the junk shows up.

Understand the trash and recycling as clearly as possible before you come here. When you pay 1 franc per trash bag, you get a lot better at recycling. Understand that you can't just dump your trash into a big dumpster somewhere and forget about it. That cardboard box from your "Frosties" doesn't just go away, you gots to save it till cardboard recycling day, which is like twice a month. For our household, the day they come to pick up the cardboard might as well be as special a day to us as is Christmas.

Do not think just because you have green bucket that is called "bio trash" that you can throw all your kitchen scraps into it. We got a yellin' at cause we did that. The green trash bins are for like gardening waste, grass clippings, etc. (your results in Fribourg may differ).

We are stunned at how dirty our barefeet are at the end of the day. The hardwood floors safely store all dust molecules, and your feet pick them up like mops. Consider some household slippers. I love walking barefoot, so i will put up with the nasty black-bottomed feet at the end of the day.

What happened with opened spices and toiletries [from your shipment]?

They came. They should have been sent to the garbage dump. Big-Ass American Spice (isn't that one of the spice girls?) boxes really don't fit well in our tiny little shelf. the little petite one we bought at Migros worked just fine before our sea shipment came. Fresh minced garlic and fresh minced onion taste better than the dried onion flakes, anyway.

Did you move any dry food-goods or just trash them?

We shipped them. I think our movers were so tired of all our junk that they got to a point where they just threw them into a box and said "Ship it!" There are lots of things that got shipped that shouldn't have. Specifically, our rule was "If it's got a plug, don't ship it." We're unpacking a lot of these unusable electric items from the sea shipment today cause of this. (sigh)

Were the movers helpful during the process or did they just box-and-go?

Stacy would say no, I would say yes, because I feel bad for making some other poor bastard pack all of my bad shopping choices over the last 5 years.

* What do you wish you would have gotten/brought that you didn't?

Floor rugs.
DVDs. The movies you buy here will be in German (French in your case), and will not play in your DVD Player anyway.

A better question that you didn't ask, but I'll ask for you is similar
What would you choose to leave behind, and what would you choose to ship?

Now that my sea shipment has come, and I depressingly look at my small apartment, I now wish I had done the packing differently. I now wish I divided half my stuff into two random piles and set one pile ablaze. Dance around it like a pagan fire ritual. If enjoyed such a ceremony, I would have 50% less stuff shipped here that I couldn't remember that I shipped here in the first place.

Don't ship big pots and pans because there is a good possibility they won't fit your oven.
Don't ship curtains because they wont fit your windows. (standard versus metric)
Don't ship hanging file folders unless you ship the hanging file cabinets; your Non-Metric hanging folders don't fit metric file cabinets.

While in the US, sign up for service with Skype immediately. Get your phone number transferred. Don't disconnect before you transfer the phone number.

If you have a TiVo, have your friend set it up BEFORE you leave the country. (Preferably, a friend with big outbound bandwidth so you can download your programs nightly)
Watching La petite fille va au marché every night on the TV will get tiring very quickly.

Buy Rosetta Stone before you leave the country so you don't have to pay the customs import fee.

Do everything in your human possibility to learn as much of this language as humanly possible before you leave.

If you are an electronics nerd and know what a multimeter is, much less own one, do not leave your multimeter at home. Make sure it is packed in the luggage you take with you. Do your best to keep from releasing any magic smoke.

We bought a big bag of those universal power converters, that take any plug (namely our US plugs) and plug them into swiss outlets. I also found that they don't fit very well into the sockets; they use up more than their fair share of space on the three outlet socket. I found that you can buy the square cables pretty easily at the computer store here (to make cables just like the ones that plug into Chris's computer), and the figure 8 power cables (to make the ones that look just like the one that plugs into Chris's Thinkpad power supply). Those fit into the wall much more easily. The replacement cables are 10 bucks a pop.

Be careful not to go into overage mode on your cell phone before you shut off your phone service, and before you leave the country.

Get a loaner phone from the company , so you won't be screwed making personal calls to the US for the random things from pay phones.

Buy shoes. They are metric and expensive here.

Get a haircut. They are expensive here.
Choose a longer hair style so you won't spend a fortune on your #1 on the sides haircut. Mike [an acquaintance with a very short haircut] would never be able to afford his "might as well be bald" haircut lifestyle over here. At least he wouldn't be able to afford his nice car, if he maintained his haircut lifestyle.

Learn the rules of the road BEFORE getting into a car as a driver. Do not turn on red. Do not speed. If so equipped, learn what the "Lim" stick on your steering column means before you hit it by mistake.

Learn the train system here in Switzerland by heart. Understand deeply. Learn what a Abo and a Halbtax card are. Get on the train and just "Go". Go to Interlaken, and Thun.

Get over the fact that you will be buying milk in cartons, and learn what UHT means, and get used to storing milk on a shelf because your fridge is too small.

* Anything you would like us to pick up and throw in our shipment for you?

This country does not know the magic of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
This country does not know the magic of goldfish. (The crunchy cheese baked kind that Pepperidge Farm makes)

Here are more answers to questions you should have asked:

Leave your bed at home. The one we got from Ikea is cooler and nicer, and more comfy than that American monstrosity with 30 pounds of dust mites from 15 years. Oh I guess I shouldn't write that out loud, should I.

Find friends quickly. English speaking friends. If you find American friends, they are likely to understand why you miss Kraft Macaroni and Cheese so much.

Get over the fact that you won't have and won't need an Air conditioning. Get used to a fan. They are better for you and your environment. If you are hot in the summer, stop wearing six layers of clothes. The world is not 72oF every day, you should not expect your apartment to be, either.

Bring Sudafed. Here, the pharmacist will just feed you some "retard" drug instead, and then you wonder why you're so tired.
Assembly Interim
On Wednesday night, most of the stuff in the apartment was at least usable enough to get through the night. The most notable exception to this was the bedroom furniture. We did not have enough time to assemble our new Ikea bed, and it was late. I was in no mood to assemble this bed at 11:00 PM. Thankfully, we have a hide-a bed!

The couch had a cool Transformer-action-figure ability to contort its self from comfortable living room sofa into a comfortable couch! We took advantage of this, unfolded the couch and got the bed ready. We closed all the window shades in the living room, and settled in for a night's sleep that we definitely deserved.

I lay my head onto my pillow, and found my torso poked by some uncomfortable springs built into the matress. This was by far the most uncomfortable mattress I have ever attempted to sleep on. The hide-a-bed could have been more comfortable if its mattress pad was packed with gravel.

About two minutes of lights-out discomfort, and Stacy and I suggested to each other, simultaneously, if we could possibly make this bed more comfortable with the addition of the mattresses that were ultimately destined for our Ikea bed.

The mattresses we bought from Ikea, for ease of storage, along with that "demilitarized zone" along the center (to quickly determine which party had invaded the other's territory) were quickly unpacked and placed side-by-side atop the hide-a-bed. The center was unsupported, and the sides were stronger than the saggy middle. The two mattresses formed a "V" shape, with the V being a split down the center of the bed. That was certainly an uncomfortable night's rest.

Somewhat in Order

In case you've ever been in doubt, let me explicitly state it: Stacy is Wonder-Woman. If you are not from Generation-X, you might not remember the 1970's series, Wonder-Woman. Wonder-Woman would change from mild-mannered secretary Diana Prince into Wonder Woman by spinning around. Seeing Stacy convert piles of dusty boxes into usable living space was a vision exactly like Diana Prince's conversion into Wonder-Woman.
Instructions are only for people who don't know what they're doing!
-- Bob the Builder
With my expert help in assembling the furniture (refer to quote above), we finally got the apartment mostly-box free. When I refer to my expert Ikea assembly techniques, I ask you not to inquire about the PATRIK chair incident, where I didn't look at the assembly instructions and attached it backwards. When leaning forward, the hinge that normally allows you to lean back in the chair would instead dump you forward.

School Begins
The most appropriate song I can think of is the Chrismas Carol "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Jake especially hates it when I sing this song to greet him with the new school year. The local schools all started two weeks prior (around August 13th!), so we got weird looks from the locals when we walked around town. "Why aren't these children in school!?" I'm sure all the Swiss wondered.

In case you haven't been keeping track of my kids, Josh, the 5 year old, is just about the age to start Kindergarten. The typical American scene of that first day of school is the teary-eyed mom drops the kids off at the school-bus, momma all proud and sad that her baby has grown up. The kid, also is crying, but not for the same reason. If the scene doesn't involve a school bus, it involves an SUV or a mini-van of some sort.

Being in Switzerland, Joshie was denied this stereotypical event in American culture, and experienced a minor change: The trip to school was not on a school bus, but rather on a train (very Swiss indeed). We got on to the S1 train to Bern (and points further), and watched, as each stop gained more people. There were an awful lot of non-Swiss looking kids on this train.

As we arrived at Gumlingen, everybody on the packed train exited at once. They all were bound to the International School of Berne. It was quite the mad rush. Instead of the train that shows up 38 minutes before class, this was the train that shows up 8 minutes before class. You must not dawdle, or you will not make the 3 minute walk to get to class on time.

My kids? Not dawdle? Ha!

Jake found some way for his rolling backpack ("A rolling back pack?!?! In MY DAY, we had to hoist a 30 pound back pack onto our backs! And CARRY it to school. In the snow! Uphill! Both Ways!") ... ahem. Excuse me.

Jake found some way to collide his rolling backpack into a previously-injured road-rash incident on his leg. Blood streamed. This is a delay. Stacy mopped up the streaming blood with Joey's emergency-change-of-clothes shirt. We managed to get to the school, injured Jake and all. Stacy delivered the younger two into their class rooms, as Jake was instructed to go to the bathroom and apply more pressure and water to the re-opened wound.

Stacy commanded that Jake go into the bathroom to clean up any remaining blood spillage, while she took the younger two kids to class. We dropped Joshie off first at the Kindergarten, where he settled in quickly and started playing. We had only a brief moment with Cecilia in the hall, as she found the appropriate place to put her backpack. "Stacy here with Joey!" Stacy commanded me. I obeyed.

Stacy went off to look for Jake, it was now 8:30, and class was starting. She couldn't find Jake, so she went to his class. Poor Jake. On the first day of class, his mother came to find him in his 6th grade class, and all of his fellow students got to see Jake's mother acting, well motherly. I can't think of anything more embarrassing for a 12 year old.

After dropping the kids off at school, we got on the Tram to go southeast a few stops, past Shiloh. This was the stop where Joey goes to the baby sitter; a Englishwoman who has been in Switzerland for 30 years; speaks German, English, Swiss German. At the day care, in her front yard or in her house, the kids are all spoken to in English. There is a friendly dog there named Janosh (YA-nosh), that Joey has grown quite fond of.

Stacy and I get back to the apartment two hours after we had started our morning journey. It didn't help that we missed a tram and a train, too.

I have acquired a French Press to make coffee in the morning, and I have discovered that it doesn't really matter much what kind of coffee grounds I have, if it's a french press coffee, I love it. Strangely enough, I'm not the only coffee drinker in this house. I can't brew up a batch, or even cook a kettle of water on the stove without young Joey coming to me saying "I WANT COFFEE!"

For me, coffee has been strictly an at-work ritual; but since I've not been able to report to the office for the past few weeks, due to some paperwork problems with my work visa. The at-work ritual has morphed into an at-home ritual, now instead. Joey's new fondness for coffee started when I bought a carton of coffee flavored milk, and Joey insisted that he have some then, too. Of course, it was quite milky, and very sweet; so who wouldn't like this? Each time I am forced to give Joey a cup of Joe, I follow the same reciepe: half a cup of milk, a couple spoons of sugar, quarter splash of coffee. He doesn't seem to complain.

Spend My Day With Trains
The typical Swiss thing with regards to trains is to just throw the kids on the train, and let them show up at their stop. Not 11 or 12 year olds, sometimes 6 and 7 year olds. Stacy hasn't yet gained this confidence to do this with the kids yet, or at least she hasn't yet gained the confidence that the kids can handle getting off on the right stop every day. Every day she goes with the children on the S1 direct to Gümlingen. This involves a significant chunk of her day on Bern's public transportation.

She starts by leaving the house at 0740 to walk to the train station, catches the train at the station at 0751. Arrives at Gümlingen at 08:22. Drops off the kids. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she grabs a Tram to Worb. They come every 10 minutes. To do this drop-off at Sue's house, she is only likely to get the 09:38 train back to Bern. She gets back to Liebefeld by 10:30.

Joey has a toy called "Geo Tracks" which comes with a DVD. On the DVD, they sing the theme song "I'm going to spend my day with trains!" Stacy sings this song, as a matter of disgust rather than humor. I think she's ready for a car, at least on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Jog Log
Before we got our sea shipment, the house was mostly empty, so I started jogging. I found this to be a good way to get to see all the sights of the town. I also realized that I was really going to enjoy this, as there are not that many interesting places to jog in Suburbia back in Virginia. Back in South Riding, jogging around is pretty much confined to the town of South Riding. There is no safe means of escape from the town, as all of the roads out of South Riding have no side walk and no safe shoulder to jog or ride bikes on. This is also why I dare not ride the bike to work. Some monster SUV driving soccer mom yelling at the kids in the back seat is surely going to wipe me off the road.

Here in Liebefeld, there are many interesting sights to see withing jogging distance. I've been slowly building up my distance that I can jog without limping home, or without having an asthma attack. I'm up to 7 kilometers now. Go East, and I can climb the Gurten. Go Southwest, and I can visit Köniz. Go Northeast, and I can get to the river. Go west, and I can go to a large park on top of a hill. Or if I feel like running on a track, I can just go around the block, and it's a simple 1.5 kilometers without crossing any traffic (but two sets of train tracks).

Last Saturday, I put Joey in the jog stroller and asked, "Mountains or River?" Joey decided to do the river. So I jogged northeast to the "Tierpark" which means "Zoo" Now this isn't like the National Zoo in Washington DC. This is a very nice zoo with "more room for fewer animals", as their tagline says. They do just that. These animals in this zoo are certainly given much more room than I have seen at other zoos. There are two sections, the pay-per-view section, with the Bears, and other large carnivorous animals, and the free section, with the horses, billygoats, sheep, otters, beavers, etc. Since I didn't have any cash on hand (I was jogging after all), we only experienced the free part.

"Is this where Macindonald lives?" Joey asked. This was very funny for us, since for Joey, 'Macindonald' is how Joey sings "Old MacDonald". In fact, sometimes it sounds like "Megan Donald had a farm." He loves singing that song, but gets stuck on the "neigh neigh there" over and over again.

Here's a map of my jogging routes that I've described so far. Just cause they're a nice solid line doesn't mean that I actually jog the WHOLE way, though. (Especially up the hills)

View Larger Map

Somazzistrasse Block Party
On Friday, 31th of August, the whole set of apartments on Somazzistrasse all had a big party on the basketball court. This was "bring your own meat to grill, something to share" party. I enjoyed meeting a neighbor who works in Zurich (so he has a similar daily commute to mine), who works for Google. I told him how much I enjoyed using all of Google's products, like Blogger, Picasa, Gmail, and how I moved everything to Google before I came to Switzerland. "And best of all, I'm not forced to use Windows for any of these things!" which was a viewpoint he perfectly understood. A fellow geek! I think we're going to get along just fine.

Stacy went to the Migros (that evening, somehow our communication that it was a "bring your beef" party was not communicated or forgotten somewhere along the way), and came back with some sort of mustard-sauce meat. Stacy didn't understand the German the guy was speaking to her, so there is no telling what kind of meat it actually was. Beef? Hopefully. But it could have been horse too. Anyway. Whatever sort of beast it used to be, it was delicious, and beef-like.

I was enjoying a very nice evening of conversation, until work called me on my cell phone with some sort of emergency which occupied the rest of my evening.

I think the kids enjoyed their time at the party, too.

Foot note 1. Please don't consider my visions of Gregor Samsa as a cockroach infestation. We don't have any bugs or other arthropods in this newly-constructed apartment, except for the occasional fly or honeybee that flies in through an open window.

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