Saturday, 27 October 2007

Happy Birthday, Kizzy!

Happy birthday, Kizzy (a day early because I will be absent from technology tomorrow, but since I doubt you read my blog anyway (so you think you have better things to do? Hah!) I suppose it doesn't matter)!
And since you are unlikely to read this, can I just say that this cat kind of reminds me of you. The hat reminds me of that Mongolian one of yours ...

Friday, 26 October 2007

Awkward Belated Announcement

Reto and I are getting married. It's weird, it's exciting, it's actually a total nightmare (I don't want to plan the wedding and Reto doesn't want to elope). He asked me last week, so if I hadn't already told you (sorry!) at least you can console yourself with the fact that you didn't know for not very long.

Thursday, 25 October 2007


Personally I am enthusiastically looking forward to the days of the peak oil crisis and resulting apocalyptic/disaster type situation when I never have to bother feeling bad about my extravagant wasting of the world's resources again (because there will be no more resources) and when I never have to book another *&^%$#ing international flight again.

I am currently in the throes of changing the dates of a flight from Zurich to Sydney in January, and from various phonecalls to Swiss (airline) I have now ascertained that the flight I particularly bought because it let me change the dates for free is now either unchangeable unless I pay a fee of around 800 CHF, or totally unchangeable (depending on who I speak to. I phoned yesterday and heard that it was going to cost a fortune, than I panicked and said I would think about it while I checked various other sources of information, then I called back today and was told it was totally impossible to change no matter how much money I threw at them, then I got Reto to call the german-speaking call centre people about 2 minutes later and they said it is still possible to change but I have to pay the 800 CHF and the woman he spoke to couldn't instantly confirm both legs of the flight so we have to call back again later. Grr). Which may mean that I will miss my own wedding. Hmm.

UPDATE: I have the flight. I don't want to talk about the cost though. Grr.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

I Hate Sport

I just saw an ad for some tennis thing that is apparently currently on (and ruining the normal televiewing opportunities, frankly, because it seems that these Switzies are Fools For Sport, and so every time any sporty event is on (specifically tennis, soccer or anything involving snow or ice) ALL the Switzy channels turn into temples for the continuous worship of said sport, grr) and they described it as a "Federer-Fest". Hahahah.

Monday, 22 October 2007


Look what I got at my favourite cafe today!It's funny because it's true (sort of)*.

* "I'm a black sheep too", which obviously has political implications, but is also reminiscent of these ads in Zurich that tell people that all the public transport there is integrated and you can use the same tickets on everything (eg. "Ich bin auch ein Bus" stuck on the sides of boats or trams or whatever). Not that I am suggesting that the public transport thing has much to do with me, because I am not also a bus, but you know what I mean.

Sunday, 21 October 2007


It's votin' day in Switzerland today. Everyone gets their votin' forms posted to them, and you can just post them back (which Reto did a few weeks ago), or apparently you can take them off to a polling booth today and bung them in the votin' box. Which seems like a strange option to take, but apparently people do. Or they just don't vote at all, because it's not compulsory here (except in Schaffhausen, apparently, which is weird).

In other electoral news, I seem to have successfully applied for a postal vote in the upcoming Australian election, but frankly I am not holding my breath for the forms to arrive. Last time I applied for a postal vote I was in the USA and my voting forms were sent to my home address in Australia. Which was not very handy.

UPDATE: Oh Switzerland. It seems the "black sheep" thing hit a bit of a chord. In general it seems that the right wing vote is kinda up and the lefty vote is kinda down.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

It's A Good Thing I Avoid Too Much Introspection...

... because in the last week or so I have had three dreams in which Reto left me or tried to kill me or done me wrong. In the first one he just left me one day, leaving me all distraught and confused (and I subsequently went on to cause a really horrific train/truck accident in which heaps of people died in a really grisly fashion), in the next one he was involved with some other woman who framed me (really stupidly, but apparently enough to convince everyone) for some crime, leaving me to languish forevermore in jail and her and Reto to run off to some tropical island together, and in the last one he tried to push me off a very tall building and then left me dangling from the guttering facing an imminent and inevitable plunge to my end.

I wonder what my subconscious is trying to tell me.

Things That Happened Today

1. We went to the movies in Zurich and I ran into people I know. Which was super, and remarkable because I don't know anyone.

2. We came back to Aarau and went to the shop at the train station that stays open late (-ish) to buy some bread and we had to fight past crowds of boozy teenagers to get in! As it turns out the Aperto (the shop) is the place to hang out and buy cheap (-ish) beer and be cool if you are a grotty 16-year-old (who is allowed to buy beer but possibly is being refused entry to pubs*, or doesn't want to pay their prices). A grotty, freezing, horrible train station tunnel. Aah the joys of being a teenager.

3. I heard that Australia's status as a continent is controversial. Although every Australian schoolkiddy will tell you that Australia is the largest island and the smallest continent, apparently Switzies need to go to the crap press (Heute, which is one of those free newspapers heavily associated with public transport) for reassurance. Happily my knowledge of geographical terms in german (Kontinentalsockel, hee hee), or rather my ability to guess their meaning, is good enough for me to be assured that our teachers weren't lying to us**. And while we are on the subject, I would just like to make plain my opinion that any of those "Seven Summits" mountaineer types who haven't climbed Mt Kosciuszko are nothing but climbing snobs*** who are having themselves on. So there, Reinhold Messner****.

* Which they do a bit around here. Apparently there is one place that likes to only let in people over 21 in order to keep out the basic training army riffraff who are often around. Apparently there is a lot of basic training goes on near here.
** That being said, please don't follow those links to the stuff about the continents, because depending on how much of it you read you might come to the conclusion that the teachers were lying and that Australia is not its own continent but only part of one, which is kind of sad and boring.
*** The fact that my parents could drive a mini minor to the top of the highest mountain in Australia (back in the olden days when the path was open to vehicular traffic, anyway) means nothing.
**** I have nothing but the highest respect for Reinhold Messner.

Friday, 19 October 2007

The French Advench(ure)

Well, we're back and vaguely exhausted. We cleverly avoided the rain and the train strike (although only just! Apparently if our train home had left any later on Wednesday evening it wouldn't have left at all). We walked around a lot, we saw a bunch of sights and museums and so on, we got vaguely fandangled into the rugby world cup (well, we got sort of swept along in the crowds of people flocking to watch the France-England match on a big screen near the Eiffel Tower on Saturday. Don't get too carried away, though, we didn't watch the game or anything)I bought some rather fantastic stripy gloves, we ate vast quantities of scary cheese and apple tart and fish, we went on an excellent trip to the seaside (to Honfleur and Etretat, which are in the middle of the northern coast of France) for a few days(where we ate fish and mussels and oysters galore and walked around on grim stony beaches and goggled at the cliffs. Oh, and we saw the Pont de Normandie, which is this ginormous bridge over the mouth of the Seine, which happens to look almost exactly like the ANZAC bridge in Sydney, which was nice). I was forced by assorted French relatives of Reto's to drag out my non-existent French-speaking skills (honed during the several years of French classes I had in high school where there was only me and one other person in the class and we didn't have a teacher and somehow we had also not been enrolled in the correspondence course that we were supposed to be in, so needless to say I really can't speak any French at all), and also to eat frogs' legs (which were great. And extremely garlicky, which was also great).

On other matters, I had no idea that there was such a dearth of nice coffee in France (I don't really have such strong opinions on what is nice coffee and what isn't, but everything I had was horrible), and I had no idea that so many of the character names in the French version of Asterix were so crap (you would think that the original language would have the best names, but no. Getafix, for example, is called Panoramix in French (which is crap. He is called Miraculix in German, though, which is great), and Unhygenix is called Ordralfbetix (as in alphabetical order, not funny or relevant). Happily, Dogmatix is called Idefix in French and in German, which is great although obviously not as great as Dogmatix. Which obviously has the advantage of having "dog" in it).

(weird enormous human-bird-combo skeleton in the grounds of the palace of Versailles. Anyone know what it's all about?)

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Baguette or Zopf?

Brace yourselves, loyal readers. I am on the brink of switching my Swiss-style loafing for some Frenchy-loafing*, which is much the same thing, I suppose, but with less blogging and more walking. See you in a week or so!

* We're going to Paris for a week.


The other day I watched a movie and I had all sort of intentions of making some more

Unfair Assumptions Brought To Us By The World Of Swiss Cinema

but as it turns out, I find it a bit tricky with this film. It was called Lenz, and it was semi-German, semi-Swiss, entirely odd. It was about a tormented german filmmaker with a Swiss ex and a son, and tormented filmmaker man spent the whole time wallowing about in Zermatt in various states of lunacy, pining for the return of said son and ex. Which he actually had more success with than you would have thought, but happily for us, he also had a lot of disappointment and wackily erratic behaviour.

Unfortunately, I don't know if I should attribute the craziness to Switzies or to Germans, so I am going to make do, instead, with talking about how everyone in Switzerland eats the same kind of butter and the same kind of milk. Not that this is surprising, because there are very few different brands of supermarkets, and they don't really have a vast choice in most things (unless you are talking about the cheese section or the yoghurt section, because there you are wallowing in choice. Which doesn't sound very sanitary, everyone wallowing in the yoghurt section, but of course this is Switzerland and so it is only figurative wallowing, and even if it was literal, I'm sure someone would come along with a mop soon enough). I enjoyed seeing them buttering their toast with the same butter that I would butter mine with if we had toast-appropriate bread or a toaster, and drinking the same milk that i have on my cereal every morning, though. And then there was the scene on the balcony where their glass wall had the same stick-on bird pictures (to stop other birds from flying into the glass) as you see all over the place here.

Aah Switzerland, home of diversity.

Happy Birthday Kristie!

Owing to Kristie being more of a dog-fan than a cat-fan (and also to the dwindling number of birthday-appropriate cats), say hello to the first birthday cat-dog! Or alternatively, say happy birthday to Kristie!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Goats Etc

I had such a goat-packed weekend. Which is something that I don't think I've ever had the chance to say before.

On Saturday night Reto and I went to see Circus Monti. I haven't seens a circus since I was a wee young thing, but happily this one was really quite adult-friendly, and featured no clowns whatsoever, no audience participation, almost no kiddies in the audience and no putting of heads into the mouths of lions. Instead there were performing goats (kind of poorly performing in some instances, which really added to their charm rather than detracting from it), lots of juggling and leaping and falling over, all those circusy things that you would expect like tightropes and trapezes and good looking, well-muscled young men, and all those circusy things that apparently people here would expect but that came as a bit of a surprise to me, like crepes (apparently crepes are to Switzy circuses what fairy floss is to Australian circuses. Although they also had fairy floss for sale as well. We ate a crepe though. Not lemon and sugar, sadly, but banana and chocolate, which was kind of horrible). Anyway, the circus was full of high points (I think I liked the tiny woman who juggled the enormous ceramic pot plant pot thing, and the table (not at the same time) on her feet the most) and had one small but influential low point - the seats were really uncomfortable. So much so that I could hardly move by the time it was over and have been in absolute agony ever since, including all of yesterday, when ...

Reto and I went on an excursion to Engelberg with his parents. We had planned to go somewhere else, but the weather was deemed inclement, so we went to Engelberg instead, where it was all blue (sky) and green (grass) and white (glaciers. Or maybe just snow, I don't know) and lovely. We walked around and gawked at the scenery and the many thousands of parapenters, and I became progressively more and more crippled as the pain from my back spread down my leg and up my neck and basically everywhere. It was really a lovely day for it, though.

The goaty highlight of that day was this weird sort of small and temporary saleyard that was set up in a parking lot that we passed by on our way to Engelberg. A bunch of people had brough along a bunch of goats and sheep and tethered them to some fences, and then assorted passers by (like us) turned up and gawked a bit and considered buying a sheep/goat. Presumably some people went there deliberately with the intention of actually purchasing some livestock, but we only stopped there because we were passing by and it looked wacky. And so sadly we didn't buy anything (where does one keep a sheep or goat when one lives in a one room flat on the 8th floor?) but I did pat some baby goats and a few adorable little puppies, and I successfully managed not to get bitten by anything.

A successful day all round. If you don't count the cripple thing.


It's relentlessly foggy at the moment.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Movies n Music

Well, yesterday was an excellent day of loafing and culture. Reto finished this big hideous exam that he has spent the past zillion years studying for on Thursday, so he spent the first half of Sunday being sort of hung over and vile, but by the afternoon everything was shipshape again (relatively).

We went to Zurich and availed ourselves of some more of the Film Fest. We saw this Spanish film called La Caja (aka The Wooden Box, although I do wonder if that should really have been "The Coffin"or similar, which seems more likely. Apparently I don't wonder enough to go and look at a spanglish dictionary though), which was really great and dark and full of secrets and grimness. There was a question and answer thing afterwards with the director, not something I normally enjoy much, but at this screening there were only about 50 people and so the whole thing had a really intimate feel. People were asking questions in all sorts of languages (well, spanish and german and english) and it all had a really informal, friendly, funny vibe, which is really pretty different from the Q&As I am used to at the Sydney Film Fest, which are often more about people pontificating and showing off. Interestingly, the movie only had english subtitles, and it was all in spanish. No german in sight.

After that we had some dinner and then went and saw a Crowded House concert with my Australian Zurich friends, Sarah and Kathryn, which was really fun. It was a nice change to be surrounded by english-speakers (let alone english-speakers with Australian and New Zealandy accents!) and to be able to eavesdrop on people with ease (not that anyone was saying much worth eavesdropping on). We stood behind the sound desk for the concert, which I always enjoy because it usually makes it easy to see the stage, and also because I enjoy spying on the set list (or whatever it's called) and spoiling the surprise for myself. As you would expect, they played some new stuff (which no one knew), lots of old stuff (which everyone knew), and the odd bit of this and that. Interestingly, Davey Lane was part of the band.

Swiss people, as it turns out, are strange in crowd situations. They have this mysterious mock mexican wave thing that they do that involves holding both arms out in front of you and waggling your fingers in a "spirit fingers" kinda way while simultaneously humming a constant note (ie. making you look like a zombie having a fit), and then ideally I think someone at the front sort of takes charge so everyone knows when they can then wave their arms in the air in a more traditional mexican wave type style (except not around in a circle as in an arena, but more of a front to back thing). I have seen this a few times (at the schwinging, and at this concert we went to in Baden a while ago), and people sort of tried to do it last night at the concert, but it was evidently confusing for the Crowdies. The first time it happened the humming was much more prominent than the hand wobbling (I think the lights were down) and Neil Finn dealt with it admirably by assuming we were giving him a note and then he turned it into "Friday I'm In Love", which was funny. The second time the hands were everywhere and the humming was nowhere and Neil looked confused for a while, then he tried to join in a bit as well and started waving his fingers in more of a "black and white minstrel" (or at least black-and-white-minstrel-as-featured-on-The-Goodies) sort of way. Then everyone sort of gave up (which we surmised might have had something to do with the fact that the audience was probably less Switzies and more antipodeans). Katherine, who is quite the veteran of Zurich living (7 years!), says it's always interesting to see how foreign bands deal with the zombie wave. I think the Crowdies coped admirably. Hopefully the next chance I have to see will be in November, when the Cat Empire are touring Yay!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

How Do You Pronounce "Philistine"?

There's a pub in Sydney called the Löwenbräu Keller. Everyone pronounces the name "low-en-brow" (I don't know about phonetic spelling, but that's low as in the opposite of high and brow as in eyebrow), even people who should know better (such as the Austrian person I didn't go there with once, and the dude from my german class who managed the place for 7 years, and even Reto these days). Frankly, it's called the "low-en-brau" and if anyone tried to pronounce it properly no one would know where they were talking about*.

I was reading something the other day about german words in english, and how english speakers are abysmal at pronouncing a lot of them. Apparently we are quite good at saying "poltergeist", "gesundheit" and "kindergarten", but we fall down all over the place with "Porsche", "neandertal" and "Fahrvergnügen" (which apparently featured in a VW ad years ago, although possibly only in the USA. I don't know, but I do know that I have never heard anyone try to say it, correctly or otherwise).

I am willing to accept that we generally don't say "Porsche" properly. It's a business, or more importantly a proper noun, and as such, in my opinion, we should pronounce the "e" and try to say its name as it was originally intended (even though we then do run the risk of being misunderstood or thought of as wankers) . Obviously that is the complete opposite of what I apparently so heartily approved of in the first paragraph (that the Löwenbräu is the low-en-brow), but I am willing to admit that I am not only occasionally wrong but also occasionally inconsistent, and to not apologise for that at all.

The "neandertal" thing, however, is another matter entirely. The point in the thing I read was that "neandertal" is a german word and although we use the word in english (albeit possibly spelt slightly differently, ie. with an h. Apparently both spellings are acceptable in english, incidentally, but I have never seen it without an "h" before) but we don't pronounce it properly like the german-speakers do. Umm, that would be because it is not a german word any more, I say. I mean, obviously it is a german word, but it is also an english word now as well, and once a word has been adopted into a new language, I really think that the new language people should be able to pronounce it as the general rules of their language dictate. And that means with a "th" sound, in my opinion. Although apparently, according to that article I read, that means that I am not one of the "informed people", who all prefer the germanic-type pronunciation.

Any opinion?

* Possibly a slight exaggeration, but you get my point.

Happy Birthday(s) Poppy and Sarah!

Today it's a shared birthday cat: Happy birthday to Sarah, and also to Poppy!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

For All Your Waffle Board Needs

According to my blog stats thing (which I don't approve of me having but I am too nosy to get rid of it) lots of people* arrive at my blog by googling the words "waffle board". I always asumed that this was because they had seen my blog before, kinda remembered the name but not the address and were specifically looking for the blog. As it turns out, though, waffle board is a thing, and if it is waffle board you are looking for, and not me waffling, then here you go:
Enjoy. I don't know what it is, by the way. But I do know where you can get it from.

* lots relative to the entire number that actually read it, which is really not that many

Back To Work, Slacker

Congratulations to my sister, who is not unemployed scum any more.

Not that there's anything wrong with being unemployed scum, my life choices are perfectly valid, etc etc etc.

The Cold Hard Light Of Day

My sunnies broke the other day. It's not the first time, and they are only a crappy cheap pair from Manor, but I still have every desire to rescue them and none to go and try to find a new pair, and so I have been forced to try to fix them myself. The tiny screw that holds the arm on fell out unexpectedly while I was in a cafe the other day, and so after grubbing around fruitlessly on the floor for five minutes I gave up, went home, experimented with a toothpick and then mangled apart the biggest paperclip you have ever seen to create this:

Which is not ideal. Not only do I have an enormous metal spike living dangerously close to my eye, in this land of excessive kissing I am also in danger of inadvertently poking other people's eyes out too when they lean in for the kill. I mean kiss.

So consider yourself warned. Until such time as I get new sunnies or some sort of metal clipping device, I pose a great threat to your future visual opportunities (assuming we meet and I kiss you. Or you kiss me).


Reto has been getting up unconscionably early for the last few days, and as it turns out it's really great. He sneaks around quietly having breakfast and trying not to wake me up and then he leaves and then I have all that bed and doona to myself. I haven't slept this well since he was in the army.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Nouveau Cuisine

Today when I was at the supermarket (lots of my stories seem to involve those words. How depressing) I got a free sample sachet of sweet chilli sauce. Is this because it's a novel new item and they are trying to raise its profile?

Hee hee.