Thursday, May 30, 2013

Looking Good

Don't get me wrong.   I hope I would be identified as the last person who would discriminate against people of a different sex or culture.  However, I do feel it is important for all individuals to take some care of their appearance.  And even more so to those in the public gaze, or with advancing years.

My attention was most recently brought to this matter in the Venezuelan elections

Moustache, please!  And get down the Gym

The good looking alternative, who somehow lost


Do you have faith in this old pensioner?

She is 54 years young.

Imran, so handsome, and 61

My hero, Chris Rock, subtly sophisticated at 48

Dan, 49, dresses to impress.

It is not fair, but we all judge and are judged by our appearance.  And so quite frankly those of us who are just average, and not stunning, need I am afraid to at least try to make some sort of effort.

The best that marcus can say is that whilst admitting to being Mr average, I am making some attempt not to grow too old and wrinkly:



Live Long and Prosper!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Good Guest Guide

Agata and Marcus came back to an empty apartment this Monday evening.  Our good friends Pierre, Krissy and baby Alex had left that morning, heading towards Zurich.

Coming all the way from London it was quite a journey for them and we were positively thrilled to see them here on home territory so to speak.

This got me to thinking,  that they came as close as we can imagine to being perfect guests.  I made a list :-)

  • No Hairs in the Shower
We like guests on their best behaviour!  Cleaning up after not just yourselves but also a small child is no easy task

  • We broke nothing
Means Guests are careful enough not to bust anything whilst still remaining at their ease during their stay.

  • Broken Items
If we did break something then we own up to it immediately, not hide it away for us to find later.  (Nothing was broken by the way, just for the record!)

  • Shoes Off
House rules in our apartments come with foibles like no shoes on in the house. Our guests obliged without question.

  • Not freaky food
People do have different diets but the ability to drink wine and taste the local Swiss food we regard as a must.

  • Clean
It is really true.  Our Swiss apartment is microscopically clean and we'd appreciate that you follow our paranoia too during your stay.

  • Happy
When Guests visit they are normally on holiday.  We expect to see lots of smiles, happiness and an absence of rowing!  This lift's our spirits and makes us feel great.

  • Knowledge of Technology
Our guests always have Internet Access and even a free laptop whilst visiting.  We expect them to be able to use it profitably.  Just Google it :-)

  • Brought your gifts
They took time to search out our  small shopping list of item(s) to bring from England that we can't get in Switzerland.   Whilst this is a potentially infinite list  (Swiss shops! Restricted Choices!), we appreciate arrival with what we asked for

  • Calm under Pressure
We tried to torture our Guests (on this occasion)  by making them watch a plot free, noisy, Bruce Willis movie.    Even with this considerable provocation they kept smiling.

  • Surprise Gift
We even brought you a surprise gift that you did not ask for.

  • We didn't borrow nor leave
Guests who are able to return the house keys and not  leave accidentally borrowing something important.  Equally, those who don't go on a mad eating/ kitchen destroying binge just before leaving.

  • Foreign Currency
We are not expecting you to always carry 1000 Franc notes in your wallet, but don't be allergic to getting some local currency for pottering about town.

  • We'll pay this time
When we go out to dinner Guests who absolutely insist on paying, and with Swiss prices this is a sincere mark of generosity.

So will all this praise, what is the Achilles heel of friends, such as Pierre and Krissy coming to visit us in Switzerland?   

Well of course, that you don't stay for longer. :-(

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A brilliant Inferno

Subtitle:  A novel that talks about serious issues we will face in the 21st Century.

Admittedly Marcus has a rather narrow field of vision,  but I still rate Inferno by Dan Brown as a masterpiece.

Not so much for the literally style, but it gets a 10/10 for plot and meaning.

To explain further:

The book centres on the further adventures of Robert Langdon, a fictional Harvard professor who seems to be somewhat irresistible to women.

Without putting forward too many spoilers:

  • I would categorise the book as thriller fiction
  • The book deals with the issue of Globally unchecked Population growth head on
  • Our villain may be Swiss  (and we live in Switzerland)
  • But is the villain really a hero?  And by whose standard?
  • Robert Langdon meets many people and trusts many.  But are his friends trying to help him or kill him?
  • There is an Interesting Ending.

I shall not dwell on the similarities to previous Dan Brown works where Langdon was also the reluctant hero.  I would ask you to focus on the serious Global issues that underlie the plot.

As someone who is highly critical of the sustainability of the worlds exponentially growing and unchecked population  I found many sympathetic viewpoints in the novel.  I hope these will be as thought provoking to the reader.

Inferno at Amazon

Monday, May 27, 2013

Polish Cars

Whilst I see a Ferrari 458 almost daily, since it lives inside the  Ferrari dealer showroom that I cycle/ run past in Lausanne, seeing one in Ursynow Warsaw this weekend past was a real shocker.

The state of Polish roads has improved dramatically and low ground clearance supercars are now thinkable on the majority of the Capital cities roads and well as some adjoining motorways.

However, I'm just still a little surprised that Style over substance and practicality is now rampant in Poland, big style.    I have less objections to 911's the multiple GT-R's or Bentleys that I saw, they can probably cope with all road surfaces and conditions, but a 458.  I mean, wow.

I checked my Warsaw diary for May 2013, these were the only unusual cars I saw:

Considering we were in Warsaw for almost one week you can see how the rather small selection above indicated how 99% and above of the streets are now inhabited by modern expensive, and also very expensive  automobiles.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tour du Lac 2013

Subtitle: At least it did not Snow!

I am very happy to report that team mouse comprising Agata, Pierre and Marcus successfully made it around the 180Km Tour du Lac course on Sunday.

Unfortunately it was not so easy!

To start with the weather forecast prior to Sunday had indicated rain.   Then on Saturday at home in Lausanne we experienced a 2 degrees C climate and strong icy hail.

I am always optimistic when this happens, since to my simple brain it means that less of this horrible weather is left in the sky for Sunday!

Using the WeatherPro app I checked the weather for Sunday in Lausanne, Evian, Geneva and Nyon.   All reports for all places indicated NO RAIN.   Given the unfolding story perhaps I can sue them ...

The race was to begin at 06.45 in start groups separated by 2 minutes. So with a 05.00 early wake up we cycled to the start and then stood in a long queue.  Despite the thousand plus people there we bumped into 2 friend.   Ah the Lausanne village!

Unlike previous years the queue cleared very quickly and we were off without waiting for too long.

The temperature was down to 5 degrees at race start.  We all had thermals on and nearly all participants had long trousers on.     At the end of May, in Lausanne!   Unbelievably cold for this time of year.

All seems good, rain wise until just past Vevey (KM 20)

Then the rain started!

Slow and insignificant at first, but at KM 40 or thereabouts we were talking major thunder storm, heavy rain, tumbling temperatures, and rain that felt like it was stinging   (icy?)

At the point where the tour crosses some railway lines we were just behind a multiple bicycle pile up.  Visibility was almost zero.

The course was the same as years past with a slight modification past Evian resulting is less cobbled streets to cycle over and less of a hill.  In fact Marcus did the whole course on his 55 front chainwheel.  No need to change down to that small front ratio!

The key to a truly excellent time for the course is to draught.  Ideally you are in a team and rotate who is at the front.

We tried various strategies including joining a big group at the start, however when the torrential rain started; getting close to the back wheel a stranger in front just meant spray and danger of rear ending accident.  So we pulled back.    For most of the journey then it was just Marcus/ Agata/ Pierre normally in that order.  Probably best since Pierre never rode this race before.

We chose not to stop at the public stops because we were carrying all the liquid and food that we needed.   Except after Geneva when we stopped finally at Nyon to recharge some liquids

 We finished and are so happy!

 Nice cycling village with lots of cycling exhibitors

 We come to meet up with Krissy so we can tell her tall tales of our rather arduous trip around the lake

No injuries, cuts or contusions.
Nobody fell off
No punctures
Marcus bruised his left thumb holding onto the handlebars so tightly!

Total moving time was just under 6 hours and total elapsed time including stops was just less than 06.15.00, a time   which we were all very happy with.

So, despite and maybe because of the conditions, I can tell you that we were extremely pleased to have finished this tour.   Congratulators to all :-)

Official Tour website

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sunday Sermon: The Road Trip

Fellow beliebers. For this Sunday Sermon:

"I don’t want to be the person that’s like… nothing you show me is gonna change my mind… but then, at the same time, I’m like, it can’t… It really can’t… Because the faith that I have, if I start accepting all of this [evolution], I’ve got to accept that everything else is a pile of crap…"

Start watching

Fullscreen version

Friday, May 24, 2013

A visit to MagBio

Arrival at Magbio, Romanel, 1032 vicinity Lausanne Switzerland.

Despite our recent trend to shop as frequently as possible at the bargain priced Aldi  (instead of at the higher priced Coop or Migros), we relate our recent trip to Magbio.

We found out about this through a missed Groupon advertisement

 The shop was practically empty.  We liked that

 There is a wine section

 And even a cosmetics section

A large solar panel array is on the stock warehouse

A combination of average weather and the realities of solar panels show 2KW output average.

And the Results are

The food selection was workable. A lot of French produce. No great Cherry picking, meaning there were workable selections of the necessary  fruits, veg, cosmetics, wine, cereals, meat, dairy categories.   You could actually complete a full shop there ...

Prices >30% higher than Coop. Aldi is <50% Coop.  So Aldi to Magbio is quite a jump.

We will certainly visit again, but our regular defacto Swiss destination will remain Aldi.

Magbio official website

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Insane Car Prices

One of the measures of insanity aside from preposterous House prices is my secondary stupidity index

Car Prices

To me this refers to both the New and Classic car marketplaces

When there are significant numbers of people willing to part with not just hundreds but over a million dollars to own a car they will probably only drive sparingly.

The MP4-12C would be fine for us Mclaren (hint hint)

Just 3Km away from us, but we don't like the colour.

Then I fear the Checks and Balances of our global economy has gone tragically wrong

To relax simply unwind and watch the trailer and even the film, it makes more sense than the current trend in Car or Stock Market Pricing.

Eleanor sold for 1.1 million USD
1.3 mill Mustang
McLaren P1 and 1.3 million USD
Car Prices in Singapore

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Treblinka Extermination Camp

Two important errors are often made whilst talking about the Nazi extermination camps of World War 2

  • The Extermination camps were not in Germany, but in Poland
  • Whilst Jews were the primary target other races/Ethnic groups were targeted. Additionally many Polish died in the associated Concentration / Forced Labour camps

In Poland this week it was an opportunity to visit Treblinka.

Traditionally Polish school children would be taken on a visit to a Camp but I am not sure this still occurs.

Believe me, the area is so beautiful by nature it is scarcely believable that such crimes against humanity were committed here

 I counted 9 Christian shrines and 1 large church close to Treblinka.  There are zero, I mean zero Jewish religious places of worship.

 A modest wooden hut is the ticket booth to the Museum

 A plan of the museum and the walk to the Treblinka 1 (Forced labour) and Treblinka 2 (Extermination) camps

 Forced Labour Camp Layout

 A scale model explains the Extermination Camp layout

Stones mark the edge of the camp.  The concrete railway sleepers are not original.

The main exhibit is a field of stones, many named with Polish towns.

 Simulated Ash Pile

Museum Organisation

As a non Polish speaker I was disappointed. The modest museum had Polish language throughout with some additional texts in German, and some lesser parts translated to English.  So I could not understand most of what was presented.

  • We were amazed to find that the S8 motorway now makes the journey from Warsaw trivial, before it was 100Km of single track and often potholed roads
  • As visited the Treblinka camp and area was hosting numerous biting flies. The ticket office actually advised other visitors not to walk in the forest.  Some days later we all have multiple bites over our face, hands which are quite painful.    Wrap up!

Final Conclusions

  • It is generally accepted as fact that over 800,000 Jews were murdered in a period of less than 1.5 years (July 1942 - October 1943)
  • Additionaly at the Treblinka Concentration (forced labour) camp over 20,000 were murdered, predominantly Polish
  • Because the camp was dismantled in 1943, well before the end of the War, successful efforts to hide this genocide means that practically no evidence remains of the camp.   As such I would instead recommend a visit to Auschwitz camp or Birkenau  which are likely to leave a more lasting and horrifying impression on you