Thursday, March 29, 2012

Not Proficient.

I've studied Arabic on a few different occasions in the past, but I've never become even mildly proficient at speaking it. At my very best, I could make polite introductions and fake my way through some small talk. Nowadays, I'm able to recognize when Arabic is being spoken, but nothing much more beyond that.

My cab driver the other day was speaking a wonderful blend of Arabic and English into his blue-tooth phone while driving me back to my hotel. His conversation went like this:

Arabic Arabic Arabic nice Arabic Arabic fuckin' nice Arabic Arabic Mexican bullshit! Arabic Arabic Arabic city hall bullshit! Arabic $1.50 Arabic Arabic greencard.

After paying for my ride, I thanked the driver with a Shukran and hopped out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just in Case.

Back in the US for a short visit, and while up early due to jet lag I was wandering the streets of downtown Chicago on a weekday morning. It was cold and not much was open, so when I passed by an open barbershop I stopped in.

Alfredo was sitting in a barber chair reading the paper, and I asked if he was open for business. An older Italian-American, Alfredo looked at me with a smile, "Of course I'm open, what else I'm doing around here."

He then turned the radio on to a station that only played old Italian songs and got his scissors out.

"Look at this magazine here, and tell me if you can find a single picture of an ugly woman in there." Alfredo shoved a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue at me while he arranged my chair. Not wanting to be rude, I flipped through the magazine while he got to work on my hair.

"Well, you find any ugly ones yet?" I told him no, but that I'd keep looking just in case.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Like that ride at Disney.

And finally, half of the Matterhorn while standing in Zermatt. The best part? We're standing only a few feet away from a restaurant where we'll stuff ourselves with cheese and wine and more cheese.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Good Enough.

Sunset in the old town, Bern. Who wouldn't enjoy this?

Fine, not good enough. How about drinks in a glowing underground bar?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Watch Out.

Well, the Swiss do seem to have different worries from the rest of us.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

At Last.

There's a very nice street-corner accordion player about a block from our house, and now with the nice weather our open windows allow for bits and pieces of accordion music to float in.

On alternating days, or every three, the accordion guy takes the day off and is replaced by a street-side violin player. I'm not privy to the details of their playing schedule, but they seem to have worked it out. The violin guy's also quite good, and has a different repertoire.

All very pleasant, but after about two weeks we've heard just about all the songs that either one knows to play.

So it was with great excitement that I came home the other day to find Accordion Man sitting on the bench with Violin Man, both smiling and playing together.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

You Don't Say.

If you'd have asked me the capital of Switzerland a month earlier, I'd have quickly answered Geneva, no wait, Zurich. I don't know, but one of those.

Wrong wrong wrong. It turns out the capital is a charming little German town called Bern. Here's the seat of government at night.

And a view out over the city from upon one of the surrounding hillsides. Bern sits in the bend of a river (just like Baghdad, except it's nothing like Baghdad) and the old part of the city is a gorgeous maze of narrow winding streets.

Pretzels and Beer for everyone!

Monday, March 5, 2012


In that show where Tyra Banks is always calling things and people and clothing and pictures "Fierce," I assume she means this face right here.

We lost our dear cat Kevin recently, and this guy reminded me of the way he would happily sit for hours just staring out the window at the birds and people and leaves and whatever else went on in his cat brain. I think Kevin would have really enjoyed sitting by Lake Geneva, watching the world go by.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Icy Conditions.

Of course, it was February and we were in Switzerland. So there was still a bit of winter around.

Not everyone got the memo about the park being closed due to ice. Oh well, I'm sure this won't end badly. (?)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Not the Desert.

You'll find no arguments here, it's a charmed life that I live. A quick weekend jaunt to Switzerland to catch up with a good friend from the desert.

On the way to Bern, a day in Geneva. The sun came out, the ice sparkled and we enjoyed a beautiful day wandering about.