Friday, February 27, 2009

Back to the "prikcentrum"

At least that was worth a chuckle.

The very nice lady only needed one vial of blood, and I was the first one there, so the whole thing was done rather expeditiously. Turns out, I could have actually had a coffee this time, since it wasn't a mistake that they had crossed off "nuchter" instead of "niet nuchter". A little hard to explain, but one means "no food or drink" and the other doesn't. I just figured, they f*cked up once already, so I wasn't about to take a chance only to then be sent home, and have to go back on Monday.

The very nice lady agreed.

We'll see if I get any surprises in the mail this time.

Now, it just so happens that this morning, as we were briefly lounging in bed, I without my coffee today and Gabe sipping on hers, she brought up the subject of our Dutch lessons. (this coffee in bed thing is the morning ritual before I send her off to the salt mines btw)
While I realise that I do struggle from time to time with picking up Dutch, her head is firmly under the water, with little chance of coming up for air. So it looks like Nico (Dutch teacher for those of you who haven't been following along) is going to have to go back and review a bunch of stuff, or at least that's her take on things, to which she added, "I need, like a 'Dick and Jane' type of reader. Something simple...'see Dick run, run Dick run'".

I'm sure I had seen kids readers somewhere or other, but didn't give it another thought.

Now we move forward to after the blood letting.

Since I was in town anyway, and in spite of running on empty in the morning coffee department, I figured I might as well stop into Dinks and pick up a few things. Even though they handle mostly groceries, and let's not forget beer and wine, they do have a small section where they bring in a bit of junk from time to time, put it in a big bin or on a couple racks and flog it at some sort of reduced price.

Here was one of the items that was being offered this morning:

Looks simple enough,

but I think I'll have to put my foot down if she asks me to read it to her at bed time.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bloodwork update

Of course, you must realise that if this were in anyway some sort of serious news, I probably wouldn't put it on here.

So settle down.

Please note the label for this post...
I'm going to keep this brief.
Almost forgot to check the mail today, but figured I might as well, even though I'm not particularly expecting anything.

Well, there was this:I've covered some important bits to protect the stupid.

At first I thought it might be the bill, which we now no longer have to submit to the very smart insurance company, and thought, "man, that didn't take them long".

Oh no....hang on there.

Not sure how good your Dutch is, but without even hitting the dictionary, I really only needed to know one word: "verloren".

Yup. They lost my samples.

So now I have to go back for bloodletting part deux.


Not sure if I have to piss in the cup once again. Funny that the blood lady thought it prudent to give me a "spare"? Think maybe she's been down this road before?


Man, at this rate there's gonna be a lot of entries linked to that label.

I'm legal.

Mind you, I was perfectly legal all along, since I'm married to the person who is required to be here.

Only thing is, somehow there's this notion that I'm supposed to get a job. Phuh.
Yesterday (Wednesday) we spent the better part of the day by first going to the municipal building in Goor to pick up Gabe's Dutch drivers licence. In spite of the information that we had received, they don't just take away your existing licence and expect you to hoof it to work for the number of weeks that it might take for the thing to arrive in the mail, they actually have a system. They simply give you a piece of paper showing a photocopy of your existing licence with their stamp on it, saying, "This is your temporary licence which you can show if need be". Besides, they probably figure nobody's going to be gullable enough to simply give up a perfectly good driver's licence and then have to be ferried to work every day, since they're just going to drive anyway.
Just the same, I wasn't all too keen to start the proceedure for myself in case there was some truth to the rumour, and then neither of us would have a driver's licence.

Not happenin'.

I have to mention that, I very nearly made it to the place without the assistance of the GPS.

So close.

Thought I could do it.
At some point though the streets start to all look the same, so even though it turns out I was within about a block and a half of the place, I had to resort to "stupid". If it only had a bleepin' map....
Next we had to go up to Zwolle, which is the provincial seat for Overijssel, to fetch my residence permit . It's a bit of a hike, and these buildings (Immigration, Police station and a few more) are in an area where there's just very little parking. It's not like they plopped it down in the centre of some 500 year old town either, they just chose not to provide any parking, except for the people who work there.
There was a parking area, and that was fine if you didn't mind a good 15 minute walk to the front of the building. Of course, what do they care? It's only immigrants.
The last time we were there for Gabe's residence permit, we unfortunately went on a Friday, and it was busy. This time the double parking scheme was equally effective, however Wednesdays are better. I think there were maybe 4 people who went ahead of me. So I had my little card and was out in under 20 minutes I think.

Here's what you get:I don't even want to begin to speculate as to just what that guy looks like. Not sure I'd hire him, that's for sure.
Some days "approach with caution" might be a good caption.
But if you look really hard, you can actually see where its says "eww"

Click on the pic and look at the letters.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just don't mess with my coffee.

Last week I bolstered my courage and made a doctor's appointment for Monday morning at 8:30.
The receptionist first suggested 8:00 but that just sounded too early for me. In hind sight that wouldn't have been a problem, since at that time maybe I wouldn't have been one of the two patients scheduled for exactly the same time.
Why do they do that?
The other person was there with her two little rug rats slightly before me, so I let her go on in. It's not like there's more than one doctor, and the waiting room is miniscule, so we're all going to see the same guy.
Anyway, blood tests were in order, so that was going to take place this morning, or any time of my choosing for that matter. See, this doesn't happen at the doctor's office, but instead you have to go to the parochiehuis, which is a little farther up the main drag of Delden.
Now, the "parochiehuis" is a bit hard to explain, but suffice to say that these days, it's being used as a community centre.
At least that's as near as I can figure out.
In the little village where I spent the first ten years of my life, I think we would have referred to it as the "parsonage", but "parochial house" is also an English term, as you can see here.

Kinda handy that they have these websites, since that certainly saves me a lot of bla bla...
Educational, isn't it?
As any of you who have taken part in this blood letting ritual will surely know, there is to be no "food or drink" for the previous what? 12 hours? Whatever.
It means muggins here has to peddle his arse into town sans morning coffee.
Breakfast I can almost do without.
Coffee, not so sure.
Since the start time was actually 8:15 it did me no good whatsoever to show up at 8:00 o'clock, so I had a little time to kill.
I just wanted to get it over with.
I had my little piece of paper with me where the doctor had ticked off the types of tests we going to be doing, and that was all fine and dandy. However the notion of riding around town with a urine sample in my bike bag somehow just didn't work for me.
Just the same, went to Dink's for a couple things and thankfully , the gangs of urine sample thieves had decided to give Delden a pass this morning.

Boy was I relieved.

(hope you got that little pun there)

Of course by the time I get back there at around 8:40, there are a few other sad sacks waiting to get pierced. One poor old guy was told he was in the wrong place altogether, and needed to head off to the hospital. He looked like he had barely been able to make it there, so I'm not sure how he was going to make out.
Happily, the lady who does the deed is a cheery enough person and is really good at her job. There's nothing worse than ending up with someone who simply doesn't know what they're doing. Especially when it comes to poking you in the arm with a sharp object.
She even gave me a spare pee bottle, "for your house".

Ok then.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I feel a segue coming on

Ever have that 20 seconds of elation followed by disappointment?
This has been a trend at the mailbox lately.
Once again on Friday afternoon, while heading out to the market, I figured I'd check the mail.

We got something!

Big deal sez you, but I know what shape the bills normally come in, and it was a different sized envelope. That was five seconds of excitement right there.
Unfortunately it turned out to be the other funds that the very smart insurance company decided to send along. This time, it's in US funds.
As a further insult, they figured they'd put in the form that tells you just why you're getting US funds.
Notice where it say "DF006"?

They don't do Euros.

Hello? We're in Europe over here...

As an aside, I have to admit that in my "care taking vernacular", (read: inappropriate language) the letters "df" do have a certain meaning for me, but I'm not at liberty to elaborate on that in this particular forum. That would be inappropriate.
And really, it may just as well have been the letters "FU", since that would have had pretty much the same conveyance.

I can only go by what I know, and I'm pretty sure there are ex-pats all over the globe working for Eaton that have health coverage, so it's a mystery to me how any of them are getting reimbursed.

Guess they never get their teeth cleaned.

Mind you, it was once mentioned to me that some of the men here choose not to use deodorant, but that's a different story....

Then I realised, I'm really making a mountain out of a mole hill, and I need to just "let it go" and stop getting annoyed about these minor things.

Turns out that, if you wanted to make a mountain out of a mole hill, this is the place!

These, dear people are.....

...wait for it.

Mole Hills!!

I kid you not!

We've been seeing these little mounds of dirt most everywhere this winter and have been meaning to ask someone or at least try and do an online search to discover what they were. I finally took this pic on Saturday when we went for a brief bike ride.

So I've been using that expression to "make a mountain out of a mole-hill" for probably 40 of the 52* years I've been on the planet, and all I had to do was move to the Netherlands to figure out what it really meant.

Who knew?

No wonder this place is flat! Somebody needs to get busy!

*If you do your arithmetic, you'll find that that's right around the time I learned to ride a bike.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Chimp update.

A while back I presented a little mystery around a cheque from an insurance company in Canadian Funds.
Still no sign of the other outstanding funds that we're supposed to be in Canadian funds, but it'll show up at some point I'm sure.

Here's what we've learned so far:

First of all, as ex-pats for Eaton there are certain services which are provided to keep things running smoothly. One of the companies that has been contracted for just such a service is Cartus
...and you're welcome to go to their website and read all about their wonderful service and well, at least it's a better situation than when we were in Puerto Rico, 'cause back then, there was nothin'.

You take what you can get.

I'll take it easy on the puns at this point so no, they're not going to "cart us" away or any such foolishness. They're basically the ones that sort out money issues when it comes to accommodations or transportation or any other kind of relocation related stuff.
The minor ripple is, they're located in Arizona so it can still take a day to get a reply from an email. Plus, I doubt that any of them have a clue even where the Netherlands is, let alone having ever lived here and so they have been known to come out with some things that make you scratch your head and say, "wuh?" But hey, maybe they're a little goofy, but they are trying their best.
So when there's an issue with this very smart insurance company that's supposedly handling our health care, they get an email from the "Divisional Controller for Europe".

And we all know who that is.

Now, a few days have gone by, and we're not really sure what transpired between Cartus and the Chimps, but I'm sure I would have had a bit of a chuckle, if it had only been possible to read those emails. See, Gabe phoned this morning to say, from now on, all those cost can just be put in as an Cartus. .....and they'll sort it out.
Because, and I'd like to quote the aforementioned Controller here, "we don't pay a penny".
So either they were completely stonewalled by the Chimps, or were just so baffled by their incompetence that they figured it was just better to placate the client and be done with it.

Sometimes it's just best to step away from the village idiot, before he pees on your shoes.

Meanwhile, on the TV front, I just got a call from KPN, our phone company. They had a deal that I might be interested in, and they're sending a letter to the house in a few days giving us the option to try their version of a TV signal.

Gee, d'ya think they knew?

Same channels as before, but at €11 a month for two tv hookups, it's the best I've seen so far.

We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Google AdSense conundrum

Not sure what I want to do.
So I figure I'll look for some feedback from the regulars.

You know who you are.

I'm debating about the whole Google AdSense thing. Seems like it would be one more thing to get annoyed about, or have to deal with, but maybe that's not the real issue.
On the one hand, if there was some sort of income to be had from sitting here like a lump spewing out nonsense about every third day well, that's a no brainer. I didn't get on the Google bandwagon when they offered that ipo back in 2004, and I've been feeling a bit miffed about that ever since.
The other consideration is....well, sometimes those ads are just annoying. (that's the issue)
I really don't know if I have any control over what shows up or not. I've tried following other blogs with ads, and they're just horrid.

Let me know what you think.

Well, aren't we special?

Not only did we get a visit from one service technician yesterday, but it just so happens there was a second visit as well.

The first one was expected:

Our landlady came by on Monday morning on her bike to tell me that someone would be coming to service the furnace. This is good, since I had noticed before Christmas that the thing was labouring a tad and I figured it would be a good idea to clean the filter, which helped a great deal.
I was in the meanwhile planning on getting a replacement, but you can't just walk into a place like Home Despot or Canadian Tire and pick one off the shelves it seems. So I hadn't gotten around to that, and it turns out it was just as well, since replacing the filter is part of the maintenance agreement.

That would be good to know. Mind you, it would have been good to know that there even was a service contract, but let's not get all snippy.

Maybe someone told us, and I simply missed that little piece of information? Like....the part where there's no flippin' heat in yer bedroom...

Must have missed that too.

Service Technician dude was a nice enough fellow (didn't take his picture....darn it) and he did recommend that the filter be vacuumed once a month, and put in a crisp new one. He did some other mucking around, but since the furnace is only about eight years old, there's not too much else required.

Now...the second "visit" was a little unexpected, since at some point in the day yesterday I heard something being dropped into the goofy little mail slot at the front, and discovered a notice from Cogas that our cable had been cut off.


Now, we had had our suspicions that there was something up with that, since there had been a couple notices back before Christmas (I think it was...I didn't really pay attention) but we figured that first of all, what does a company called "Cogas" have to do with cable service and....that which they were offering wasn't really worth paying for anyway?
Seriously was pitiful.
So I figure it took these chimps six months to figure out that no body's going to pay for their lousy cable, so it's gone.

And not really missed.

With the exception of the odd rugby game on the BBC, along with the odd snooker match, there was precious little that I wanted to watch, and the TV only served as a means of taking a brief nap in the afternoon.
We might check into getting Ziggo, or some other such service, but the only change in our activity I've noticed so far, is that Gabe now falls asleep in front of the computer, instead of in front of the TV.

Like I say....not really missed.

Now, I'm sure you recall that I had been mucking around with shooting video from the bike a few days back. With limited results.
I didn't even bother with the first setup, even though it looked good, it was way too wobbly. So I mounted the camera a bit farther down on the forks by putting it on a small tripod and then wedging it in with the help of some "non-slip attachment devices". (um...bits of garden hose)

I have actually seen worse on Youtube, but it's still a bit annoying since you can certainly tell that I'm not even that good a bike rider. Keeping my balance is still a challenge.
Probably the same reason I don't do well on the roof of a house.

Not for the weak of stomach, but you're welcome to take a look.
It's just below.
Try not to hurl.

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click To Play

And yes, I realise I'm not supposed to ride on the sidewalk, but it's deadsville most of the time....and the bell ringing was an accident. I swear!
Don't judge me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's never that simple

Just a quick update today.

See, last week Gabe went to church on Sunday. It's one of those things you can do on a Sunday, and even though she doesn't quite understand everything that's going on, the service is pretty much the same no matter what Catholic Church you end up in, wherever you happen to be on the planet.

That is of course, if there's a service every week. Aparently that doesn't happen here.

So, since my Sunday ritual is that of going to the bakery for fresh croissants, it came as a bit of a surprise to see my lovely wife making her way back home again. Either a really short service, or the doors were locked.
Turns out they don't open the church every week. Not too sure where everyone goes on the off week either. This may be one of the mysteries that we never unravel.

Aparently attendance at church is kind of lacking....
so....that means, lock the doors? Hm.

Of course the other thing is, I had locked the house behind me, so it was a good thing she came back the same way ...

We thought we might head back out this afternoon and tool around Delden (since she still gets a bit turned around once in a while) but the weather has turned a bit snotty.

Spring in right around the corner.

At least I hope so.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stupidity revisited

The first thing you need to do is study this piece of paper carefully. I call it a "piece of paper" since, at the moment, that's really all it is.
First of all, to me cheques are a bit of a silly thing. They're kind of like getting a note from someone's Mom, and they're really not much good if you can't do anything with them. Certainly not until you get it to a bank that knows what to do with it.
See, it's not so much the notion of living in a foreign country that's the onerous part. It's the "support" that one is supposed to get as some sort of compensation for the perceived hardship.
Have you had a good look at the cheque? It was in last Friday's mail. I thought I would simply run it up to the bank, since I was on my way to the market anyway, until of course I realised it's in Canadian Funds. Yup...that's "Canadian Dollar" right next to the amount.
Apparently the good ole boys back there in Wilmington, DE haven't heard of a thing called Europe, or the currency that is presently used in many parts thereof...or direct deposit for that matter.
Just a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Supposedly drawn on a Canadian Bank....but then why cr*p would you send it to the Netherlands?? Not only that, but the notion of having our medical coverage handled by some chimp in Wilmington, DE sort of sends a bit of a chill up my spine.
There's more out there somewhere, since there was another portion that was to be issued in Euros that was supposed to end up Europe. Seems there was silence on the other end of the phone when that question was asked.


As it stands this piece of paper will now have to be sent back to our house in Canada, and our daughter will have to go out of her way to take to our bank.
While of course it's only €.95 for postage (that's about a buck and a half btw) it's also the aggravation of even having to do that that makes me grit my teeth.

On a positive note, just think how boring this ole blog would be if there weren't as many stupid people out there?

I guess I really should be thankful.

Friday, February 13, 2009

This old house

OK, I have to concede that I haven't yet come up with a solution to the camera on the bike situation.
It could take a while, and I might have to venture out to some flea markets over the next few months to try and come up with some ideas. Not overly keen on paying some inflated price for a purposefully made bike thingy, only to then disassemble it and try and transmogrify it into something functional.

As I said, stay tuned.

We got other stuff...

One of the other activities I'll no doubt be looking into over the next little while will be a way to try and keep in a little more of the heat that we most desperately need most days here in the winter.
This house was built some time in the 60s.

Here it is again btw, in case you forgot what it looks like...

So it would be reasonable to think that keeping out the wind and cold would be a worthwhile effort, even back in the 60s. I mean, heating a home in Europe has always been more expensive than in North America so a little caulking would go a long way.

Here's a prime example of what I'm talking about:

This is our front door.....
...and I must say, it looks really spiffy.

Just don't stand too close when the wind blows....

Um, doesn't take much effort to see the daylight out through those somewhat less than craftsman like mitre joints. Good grief!

Might want to stick to making wooden shoes.

Putting splines in your mitre joints comes to mind. Which btw, is the only way to make a mitre joint that will in any way be able to function as a proper woodworking joint.
Might have even added a little R value to boot.


I'm pretty sure I've seen coloured caulking in the stores here. Brown comes to mind. Of course, I didn't think to ship a caulking gun, so I guess I'll be adding one to the collection.

Now, if it were my front door, I'd probably take the thing down and rebuild it, or at least hang it properly so that there's not the big gap over on the strike side.
You did notice that too, didn't you?
Sort of defeats the purpose of installing thermopane windows in other areas of the

And don't even get me started about the little mail box compartent just to the right.

I guess if we run out of room in the fridge (could happen) we could always use it as a back-up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not enough junk.


And that's not to say I haven't pitched out mounds of "stuff" from time to time, but I've been doing some head scratching when it comes to messing around with little projects that would normally only mean looking through a few plastic drawers to find the proper screw or little piece of metal.
I mean, who knowingly ships their junk overseas? Even if we had moved "lock, stock and barrel", as some ex-pats do, not everything gets to go, and most people end up keeping things in storage, or some other such arrangement.

Here's where I'm going with this.

From time to time I do like to shoot a little video footage and thought that it would be handy to have some sort of way of doing that from the bike. The thing is, I never really learned to ride a bike until I was about 12 or so, and I find that keeping both hands on the handlebars is typically the plan that I try to stick to. Mind you, I do my hand signals and all that good stuff, but the idea of shooting video for anything more than about nine seconds just doesn't appeal to me. There's that whole braking situation that does come up from time to time.
So after messing about, I came up with this arrangement:

Looks pretty good, right?

It almost looks like it was made for a bike.

The bottom part is from a lamp that came off the bike that I no longer use (ssh, we don't talk about that in the garage) and the top part is from a small tripod that I will use again, which is why I didn't want to wreck anything.
I especially didn't want to scratch new and shiny, which is why the mount is great since it's all padded and cushy.

Now, while I'll willingly concede that having wobbly bits on the female anatomy is most assuredly not a big deal, being too wobbly is not the way too go when it comes to shooting video.
I only made it up the street a little ways when I realised, "this ain't gonna work".


If you're anything like me, having to watch some jerky hand held footage and trying to keep from tossing your cookies while doing so is pretty much like torture.

I'd prefer not to be a participant.

So if I knew what to buy, I'd consider going out to buy some junk, if I thought it would help.

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Not done yet.

With winter that is.

Mind you, I'm not complaining. It's still possible to ride a bike, and Gabe and I went out yesterday afternoon for a little tool around Delden. Unfortunately we were at the tail end of the best part of the day, and the snow started to come down in those big wet snotty gobs, at a time when we were just far enough from home to get us soaked by the time we got back.


Didn't think I wanted to do that again this morning, since the gobs were back for a time. It hasn't completely cleared up, and it's not going to, but at least I was able to wait it out before heading out to the stores.
Also, if I can believe the weather forecast from the BBC, we should be getting the tail end of more snot tomorrow. Sorry, did I mean to say "snow"? Guess that was a bit of a slip.
One of the abiding qualities that I've learned to develop is patience. Not only when it comes to things like the weather, but also for those moments of zen that one gets to experience when forced to shop with all the rest of the chimps from the village.
Case in point; this morning I thought it would be the polite thing to do to let this one little old lady go in front of me (plus, she had a six pack of Heineken, and I realised it was once again on back I went to the beer isle) which would have been all fine and dandy, 'cept when she went to pay....she realised she hadn't brought her money with her. She wasn't even all that old....really. I mean, I check on certain things before I head out on the bike like;

Is there anything in my teeth?

Is my fly done up?

Do I have money?

Things like that.

I should also mention that, at this point in time, making sure I have reading glasses is also on the mental list.

Thank God I still have all of my own teeth.

Well, most of them.

On the other hand, it was also one of those rare moments when I hadn't yet unloaded my little shopping basket and was beckoned to the next check-out by the head cashier. That almost never happens.

Speaking of the little shopping baskets, I've always been an ardent practitioner of the "commando" style of shopping where, if it doesn't fit in the basket, you don't need it.....and that's even when shopping by car. In this present domestic situation, the filling of the basket also represents the filling of the saddle bag on the bike. Even if there were such a critter as Costco, I don't know how the hell I'd carry home one of those bales of toilet paper, or a three year supply of dish soap.
I've been known to go out a second time (the horror!) if I felt that there was a need to stock up on a particular item.

Libations come to mind.

In that case, I'll head for the other grocery store in town, just to add a little variety to the mix and not give the impression that I'm some coffee addled shopaholic.

I had originally planned on uploading a video that we had shot down in Switzerland. However, it seems to have taken an awfully long time, and then the browser "encountered a problem" and had to shut down.
I might try again later.
Meanwhile, best to get this posted before much else happens.


...much later...

Well, I fell for it again....I naïvely thought I could upload a video to Blogger. I had forgot that, unless the video is around nine seconds long, that could take most of the afternoon.
That's pretty much what happened. Not only that, my web browser "encountered a problem" and had to shut down.
And yes, I do realise that I just repeated myself, but I'm leaving it in...because that earlier bit was actually hours ago. So there.

And... fine, I'll just have to resort to my Blip tv account, which is what I should have done in the first place.
So here's a snippet of video that I shot while driving through one of the many Swiss tunnels on our way back from Morges last week.

here's the tunnel

There were more, but in spite of the fact that I was doing the driving and the videotaping, I was still able to have a steadier hand than my travelling companion. Not sure what to do with those.
I'm thinking along the lines of the "delete" function.
Don't tell her.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Heidi Part Deux

I feel that I didn't quite do justice to the visit to Switzerland, so what will follow will basically be a series of pics and a brief description.

I had mentioned that the snow had followed us down there and we went out to romp in it on the Sunday.
Here you can see that I'm just getting all coiled up to go "romp".


Where there is the expectation of snow is most often up in the hills. We were not disappointed:

Get ready.....more romping:

Considering I was only wearing running shoes ('cause I'm just so into winter) we didn't go too far off the beaten path.

Down at the beginning of the pathway there is a little hut, that can be used to get warmed up if necessary. Having the orderly society that the Swiss do, they have what to me looked like a system that requires users of the area to have a card that must be shown to go on the trails. Seems archaic I suppose, but how often do you hear of hikers getting stranded out in the wilderness with the resulting massive search efforts that follow? Seems the Swiss have been there and done that, and realise that there's a better way. We were allowed to go a little ways without any formalities.

Normally there are a couple really fabulous vistas from that elevation, but that wasn't the case for that day. Pretty sure the visibility is far better in the summer.

The farm country could pass for just about anywhere in Europe, and the crops seem to range from vineyards to sunflowers.
No sunflowers to be seen at this time of the year of course.

Mind you, by simply looking the other way, there is a stark reminder of just where you are...

Now, in spite of the "orderliness" of Swiss society, I was surprised to see a vendor at the side of the road, selling pizza. This was more reminiscent of something one would see in a place like Puerto Rico, with the exception that this is a new vehicle, and in PR it would be a beat up old school bus.

There are two additional things that struck me as evidence of Swiss culture.
Firstly, from the age of 17, every Swiss citizen has to report for military duty. A choice can be made to serve in a "weaponless" fashion, but you need to have a letter from your local canton explaining the reasons why. Even then you may be required to practise with a wooden gun, and in some cases (seems to me it was the conscientious objector ploy) you'll need to see a shrink. For women it's voluntary, but they can serve in any fashion they choose.
That link to the wiki article makes for a good read, even though it's a bit lengthy.

So to see the fortifications in every little town is not out of the ordinary. This is the "Château de Morges", which not only houses four different military museums, but also the military personnel for the area.

And in some towns, it's easy to see just how the notions of fortifications is taken into account....
The thing is, one does get a sense of being relatively safe....and although doors do get locked, there is such close tabs being kept on just about everyone who comes in, that any "undesirable groups" are simply just not welcome. You can fill in the blanks just about any way you want, but this sign put up by the Swiss People's Party pretty much tells the whole story.

This is one of the reasons (so I was told) that Switzerland would rather not become part of the EU, and that's simply because they then fear there would be an influx of foreigners from some of the former eastern bloc countries.
Aparently though, there are certain groups that have no problem coming to Switzerland for at least a visit...and then maybe leaving behind some money.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I feel like Heidi

But I promise not to yodel.


And I don't have enough hair for braided pig tails. But other than that, totally.

I'm going to try and sqeeze in a few words here before I have to get my act together and check out of the hotel.
So I'll only be uploading a few pics I'm afraid and that might be it.

We got in to Morges (Switzerland) Saturday afternoon around 4:30 or so, and found the hotel after circling the town a couple times. Since most of these places have tiny streets, they've made Morges into a series of one way streets, so if you're not sure or miss your turn, you need to take a little drive.

The hotel is right on the waterfront, so the view can be not too shabby.

I figured if I took enough of those, I'd like one or two of them at least.
There's a little marina just outside of the hotel as well. Seems they're able to keep the boats in the water year round, since the weather is typically mild enough that getting snow at this elevation is quite rare.
Of course, since we were coming to town, we woke up Sunday morning to snow...
What's with that? The danged snow seems to follow us around Yurp like some sort of curse.

This will be an alarmingly short post, but hey....there will be more.