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Friday, August 28, 2015

Funny Friday - Picky Eaters

Today’s post is August’s Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of every month. Funny Friday is a collaborative project. Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

Here’s today’s picture. It was submitted by The Bergham’s Life Chronicles

  1. He loves me - he loves me not
  2. I love my Supergirl's cape!
  3. When I'm older I want to dye my hair blue just like my mommy!
  4. You wouldn't believe the stuff that adults hide in the food. Shredded zucchini in my lasagna! Better to inspect thoroughly! 
  5. Hey Withlee, Colin says hello! He thinks mini cheese quiches are best when hollowed!

Now check out those moms. They have the right idea, haven't they?

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile: 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

My Dad's 10 Years Geocaching Anniversary

It was a Sunday in September 2005 when we introduced my Dad to a hobby we recently took up and thought he might get hooked, too: 

Geocaching aka treasure hunt with a handheld GPS.

A couple of days later we left on vacation (and took our Gecko with us).

We placed Christmas Reindeer, our very first travel bug, in a cache in Irvine, California. 

Its mission was to visit every state in the U.S.
It traveled almost 50,000 km = 31,000 miles, pretty impressive!

It wasn't a time where people were online at all times. So when we finally did at a hotel's business center, my father proudly emailed and told us he'd found a couple caches using only a map, a compass and his good nose. However upon our return we may advise him on a Garmin.

If I remember correctly my parents picked us up at the airport and took as straight to a geocache we just had to find.

That's how the madness started.

As a person who looks for caches you need a nickname. Ours was TheTwoGerbers because, well… an Australian tour guide once called us TheTwoGerbers, and it kinda stuck. My parents are called mirpets. We also have friends who play, their name is blue liners, and yes, those are also our hockey friends ;-)

Anyway, as a sucker for those cute travel bugs I came across NBJ Poppa, the king of them one day, and when I was in Seattle on business I met with him and his friend jcar for coffee and travel bug swapping. Poppa was so nice and offered to introduce me to the guys at Groundspeak, the founders of this game, so to speak, and they gave me this geocoin:

On another visit later that year we met up with Poppa and jcar and their families to actually find a cache. There was a rubber chicken involved, that's all I'm gonna say. 

Fast forward to 2015. TheTwoGerbers as you know have become TheThreeGerbers a long time ago, and we haven't actually logged a cache in three years, not for a lack of interest, more like life got busy. 

My Dad however has been going strong and celebrated 10,000 found caches last night!

He invited a bunch of his cacher friends for a BBQ in the local vineyard hut, and it was very nice!

He got treated to a special wine bottle

A customized log book just for the event:

Plus this absolutely stunningly fabulous logo cake

Geocaching really has to offer something for everybody:

  • Do you like the outdoors? Even if you don't, this is a good reason to get out occasionally
  • Do you like to hike? There are caches for all kinds of terrains and levels depending what shape you're in. Some go as far and have you climb or swim or even dive… Others are just "drive in" ;-)
  • Can you read a map? If not, are you into playing with gadgets? Alternatively, do you have a dog… ;-)
  • How about getting to know new places and sights? Taking pictures?
  • Any interest in statistics? You can totally do without, too!
  • Are you talented in crafting creative boxes? Most caches are tupperware boxes, but there are very nice, different ones out there, too:

The "Roach Motel Resort and Spa" cache in Pocatello, Idaho

 I guess, the social aspect is my personal favorite! Cheers!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Use Your Words - Catch me if you can

Today’s post is writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once, and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: 

barbecue pit ~ screams ~ burst into tears ~ twelve years

They were submitted by Someone Else's Genius - thank you, Robin!

You remember the pool party I attended last week? 

I had to observe an allegedly criminal art dealer Nate, and therefore I placed my rubber duckie camera in the swimming pool, so that the FBI could watch everything that he was saying and doing. 

Things were going well, until I dropped my phone in the barbecue pit.

I mean, sh** happens, phones are replaceable, even most of my pictures and other data were backed up, I just wasn't aware of fact that the duck camera was only able to broadcast as long as my phone was switched on and had reception. 


So half of the FBI screams at me not only for spoiling the successful transmission of a compromising conversation between a criminal and his trusting (so I hope) vendor

But because obviously not long after I strategically placed the duck camera, Colin (my son) & Colin (Stacy's son) found it, retrieved it from the water and started playing with it. 

The little that FBI techs were able to record was Geneviève telling Nate that she has been working for Louis Vuitton for twelve years, that she was looking for a rare snake or crocodile skin for the launch of a new purse line, and that she was planning to spend her vacation in Southern France.

Then they were witnessing two little boys bursting into tears because a dog approached them and wanted to play with the rubber duckie as well.

So even if I hadn't interrupted the life transfer by breaking my phone, the dog's chewing the duck would have!

Shortly after the BBQ, the FBI briefed me about an upcoming champagne tasting in Paris that Nate was invited to by Geneviève. 

The tastings are rewards for people who posted the nicest pictures on #MoetMoment 

How could I have missed this challenge, btw? I had taken a whole set of cool pictures myself!

Anyway. I am going to attend the tasting as a member of the press reporting about it! As it turns out, the FBI is not only able to provide new passports but press credentials, too! So my new name is Véronique Dupont, and I work for le nouvel observateur. Pretty cool, huh!

They let me fly to Europe a couple of days earlier to get acquainted with my surroundings and brush up on my français. It's been a while. 

The tasting is taking place at Fondation Louis Vuitton, a bit outside of Paris, Bois de Boulogne, to be exact. Of course, right? The perfect combination! Purses AND paintings! 

The night before the event I get to go undercover as a member of the cleaning crew which enables me to sneak into the office in order to help the FBI to find compromising files. 

As soon as I arrive, I turn on the computer and insert the USB stick the agent gave me. Then I call the tech who gives me instructions like "hit ENTER", "when the window pops up, I want you to read the code to me", "now click ACCEPT",… 

Just like that they hack into the LVMH computer network.
Noticed? Moët Hennessy is affilliated with Louis Vuitton.

They seem quite pleased with what they pull from recent e-mails. 

The next day the museum is buzzing with activity. Caterers set up the buffet, technicians install a giant screen for the projector, security guys pace back and forth, and first guests and press members arrive. 

I am just admiring the new Caïssa Hobo that Kate Hudson is wearing, when I notice my phone is vibrating.
"Nate isn't here! He is stuck in Frankfurt, Germany" my FBI colleage says.

"Lufthansa pilots are on strike again, and pretty much any other flight to Paris is overbooked. He's on standby with Brussels Airline, but obviously they are missing a spare part and can't take off. Now I was thinking... didn't you work for an airline a while back? You surely know people who can do something about it! Hold on, I'm gonna transfer you to the guy who can tell you what they require.

Oh, and needless to say - we need Nate to make it to Paris today! He's supposed to discuss the delivery of some crocodile leather for a first purse prototype with the global director of procurement."

After I hang up, I have to sit down. If I was alone I'd probably burst into tears.
Is this what it has come to now? I used to be an average part-time working mom with an office job who made one fatefull transaction, and today I am permanently on the run, and my current assignment is to source a sidestay landing gear for an Avro Liner - the lemon that is finally being phased out in favor of C Series. It just about missed making the top ten worst airplanes that are still in service!

I don't know how many times one of them was AOG due to a spare part that was missing and needed to be disassembled from another plane that was sitting in another airport on another continent because you just.haven' to order them for over than twelve years!

But you know me. I'm nothing if not resourceful. And of course I know people. Thank you, R, for helping me out! Air Botswana came through with this gizmo:

Guess what, though?

Nate vanished. 

He was supposed to board a plane that takes him to Bruxelles first, and from there to Paris. They had him paged several times at Frankfurt Airport. Nothing. Is he suspecting anything?
Ground services had to remove his bag that was already loaded. Of course it was on the very bottom of the container. The guys were not amused. Neither were the passengers.

Hours later - after they flew me to Frankfurt as a freelance writer for a gossip magazine - I found out the following, and it literally knocked my socks off:
So our dear  Australian (art) dealer Nate ended up at the ER.
You'll never believe this: It turned out that he was tampering with the cargo fire extinguisher. 
Why? He wanted to replace the chemical powder that is used in these types of devices by drugs. That's how he's been getting them into the country for quite some time.
Only today things didn't go as planned.

A bunch of aircraft engineers who were on their break heard a detonating sound, followed by screams coming from a nearby aircraft that was ready for boarding.

"The scene was looking like a barbecue pit" Airport Police stated at the press conference.
"There is going to be a thorough investigation on how this individual made it to a restricted area in the first place, and how he was able to carry considerable amounts of heroin without being detected. He currently can't be questioned because he is being stabilized at our Airport Clinic so he can be airlifted to the University Hospital for treatment of his severe injuries. It looks like he may have lost both of his hands in the blast."

I guess the FBI is gonna take it from here...

OK, I feel like I can't just end it here. We need something uplifting. How about this:

Remember Florentijn Hofman's giant rubber duck?

Los Angeles
Hong Kong
Now go find out what my friends' words were, and what they did with them:

Baking In A Tornado 
Spatulas on Parade 
The Momisodes
The Bergham Chronicles
Stacy Sews and Schools
Southern Belle Charm
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo
Someone Else's Genius
Never Ever Give Up Hope
Confessions of a part time working mom 
The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
Searching for Sanity
Juicebox Confession
Cluttered Genius
The Angrivated Mom

Friday, August 7, 2015

August Secret Subject Swap - The Pool Party

Welcome to August' s Secret Subject Swap. Again 16 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  
Sit back, grab a glass and check them all out:

Baking In A Tornado

The Momisodes

My subject is 

You are invited to a pool party, 
upon arrival you see your… 
with your… and you go...

It was submitted by Spatulas on Parade - thanks, Dawn!

For those of you who remember, a couple of weeks ago I came into money and spent some of it to have a nice pool built into Stacy's garden. Tonight she's hosting a pool warming party so to say for some of her friends, and I'm super excited for our sons, both called Colin, to meet and play again.

I am a bit nervous because I have a special assignment for later tonight. On our way over to the party I feel for my Beach Bath Time Duckie in my purse every five minutes

When we arrive, Stacy hugs me and hands me a cocktail, and as I make my way through the crowd toward the pool, 

I see my art dealer Nate laughing and joking with my friend Geneviève, and I go "shoooot, why didn't I think of that?"

But let's start at the beginning. 

We were on a long road trip to visit a lot of nice people. Later I scored a book deal and won Music Jeopardy. Life has been treating me really, really well. 

It's only natural to have the occasional setback, right? My spending money for appliances and other people's mortgages, and especially my appearance on TV, had my contact person at the FBI frown, to put it mildly. 

"Don't pull something like this again or we will freeze your assets" he said, and he sounded annoyed. "Also we finally want to see some results", he added.


Of course it would have been too good to be true, right?

Stealing millions and just getting away with it? Even have a foreign government's feds throwing in a new identity for free? Out of the goodness of their hearts?

Yeah, you didn't think so either. 

So today it's payback time. I have to help them to catch a bad guy. 

Just like this? 

Of course not. I have been trained and tested. 

My "language stay" in Australia was part of my cover. I needed an Aussie background in order to get in touch with the suspect, an art dealer from Sydney, who is the alleged boss of an international smuggling ring. 

Not only do his people sell fake paintings (very high quality fakes of course) to trustful American citizens, but between two layers of canvas, there are also drugs hidden.

"When will you marry?" Paul Gaugin
USD 300m
"Les Femmes d'Alger" Pablo Picasso
USD 179m
I met Nate at Art Miami last December and have been observing him on and off, but frankly, apart from contacting both artists and potential customers, I have never seen him doing anything that actually seemed illegal. 

However, the FBI was convinced that he was working on something big, and I needed to find out what.

Tonight, I finally got it. 

He was done with art. He had moved on to purses!! 

How else would he know Geneviève, who is Louis Vuitton's Head of Procurement in North America? 

A Capucines made of crocodile skin is being sold for USD 48,500.

Just imagine! 

If Nate is impersonating Crocodile Dundee's distant cousin or something, and provides LV with what he claims authentic croc leather but in reality is a fabric that his people not only replicated, but probably incorporated drugs? 

My moment has arrived! I stroll to the edge of the pool and casually place my rubber duckie in the water. It contains a camera and a microphone and is also equipped with a wireless transmitter, so whatever Nate and Geneviève are discussing, goes straight to the FBI's server. 

I retire to the bathroom and text the FBI, so they can start to monitor Nate's conversation and react accordingly.

Meanwhile I make my way to the BBQ pit. It smells heavenly, and I'm hungry! Looks like I've come to the right place, look at this!!

Just as I position my phone to snap a picture, the two Colins come running, bump into me, and I drop the phone. 

D*** it!!! 

My phone couldn't just fall on the floor, it's in the flames! 

To be continued next Friday...

Monday, August 3, 2015

Zurich Quiz, Part 2

Last week we went to town to try and find some Zurich trivia answers. There were too many  - so we had to come back this week! Also I needed to take my car to the shop.

Q: how much is a "Kurzstrecke" (2km = 1.24 miles, typically 5 - 6 stops) if you are in possession of a "half fare card"?

A: CHF 2.20

Q: What banks can you see at Paradeplatz, Zurich's heart of the financial district?

A: Credit Suisse, UBS, HSBC, J. Safra Sarasin, Julius Bär

Q: What airlines do have an office at Talstrasse?

A: Gee, now that was a flop! In the late 80s, early 90s there were PLENTY! So many that to me Talstrasse was like the airline aisle of the city! On today's tour we learned that they have disappeared. All of them! We did find Emirates Airline at Gerbergasse, around the corner, and Air Prishtina and Singapore Airlines at Löwenstrasse, also not far. 

Instead we found restaurants, more banks, clothes shops, phone providers and a flower shop.

Then we got hungry and went for some sushi.

Q: How old is Globus, the prestigious department store, and what's the name of their mascot?

A: The lady who works at the information booth didn't know. "We had an anniversary a couple of years ago" she remembered, "therefore it must be more than 100 years old." Colin insisted she found out who old exactly, and she actually called somebody who told her "1896". That's 119 years old. Wow! 

Meet Globi, born 1932! Originally a giant stuffed animal, he advanced to the main character of many books and CDs, some of which have even been translated.


Q: Where in the city can you board a boat?

A: Bürkliplatz, Zürichhorn/Casino, Enge and Wollishofen

We wanted to take the short round trip, but as it turned out, short was 1.5 hours, and we needed to get to our next destination before that.

Not here. Well, sort of here ;-)
I achieved Gold Status on my SBUX Card, yay!

Here neither. I just thought it was cool. It is a blood donation mobile.

Did I mention it was another one of those 90°F days? Time for a slushy!

I love that C always wants to go to book stores!

Time for the next question: where is the coolest kids' hairdresser in town and what's its name?

A: Sim Sala Bim @ Franz Carl Weber, the legendary toy store

This is how it works: First you choose a DVD.

Then you hop on a toy car, watch the movie, munch on popcorn

And before you know it, your hair is done!

And because you have been such a good kid, you get to spend an hour at the toy store, meeting a baby T-Rex,...

A giant LEGO man,

And shoot some Nerf gun

Mommy has been good, too and got to meet a new online friend!