Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What do Swiss millionaires do for fun?

source: Bloomberg

The CEO of Hublot, Jean-Claude Biver herds cows.  His cows adorned with flower bouquets and bells, Jean-Claude herds his heifers every winter 16 kilometers from their summer mountain meadows down to his farm.  Cows that, by the way, produce five tons of Gruyere-styled cheese annually.

According to this article, having a life outside the office makes for better CEOs.  

I will add that perhaps the opposite is also true: having the office of a successful CEO makes for a better life outside the office.  At least it sure seems that way.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

On random things Swiss

Some random thoughts on everyday Swiss life:

On banking
The rumor is true:  Swiss banking is indeed marked by efficiency and security.  For example, customers are given one of these calculator-looking things for internet banking.  It provides an extra step in security, as one needs not only web-based credentials to log into their account, but also one of these gadgets with a bank card inserted into it.  The procedure consists of a series of steps in which the magic calculator and bank mother ship go back-and-forth generating security codes.  Internet code to type into calculator.  Calculator code to type into internet.  Many codes, user names and such later VOILA! you're allowed access to your account via the net.

On a different "note" - I am not used to banknotes in the denomination of one thousand.  On a special occasion I had to withdraw some cash, the kind of amount that would take a few minutes, a few counts and re-counts by the teller, and an envelope in my hand in the end in the US.  Well, not so en Suisse.  I was surprised when the lady at the counter handed over 4 banknotes.  Counted once.  No envelope.  That's all, next!  Yep, banking is a totally different experience here.

On Shopping
What is the one thing you must have when shopping on foot in hilly Lausanne?  A Granny Cart like this one:

Thank you Granny Cart, for making my life easier!

On Cooking

Things aren't always what they seem.  This is especially true when doing benign things such as shopping or cooking in a foreign land.  Your stew meat might come from Seabiscuit.  Those meatballs?  Turkey testicles. Yesterday's mishap wasn't quite as exotic as that.  However, the baking dish I used for preparing Saturday's lunch, the one that looked and felt like glass wasn't glass at all.  My first clue came when, peering through the oven door, I saw my lunch morph into a Dali painting.  By then it was too late for the dish and for our lunch, although it did have a special ambiance sitting on the counter.

Just stuff

Then the small stuff, the subtle things that often signal when you are in a different place are signs.  Store fronts, street signs, traffic signs, and even bathroom signs.  These are the signs for boys' and girls' bathrooms in local elementary schools in Lausanne, at least in the few I have been in.  So cute, so different somehow.

----What I really like are the self-cleaning toilet seats that are so common here (link is not my video by the way).  Going to the bathroom abroad is a true cultural experience in itself.

And there you have it: all you didn't know you needed to know about banking, shopping, cooking and toilets in Switzerland!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Zermatt, Chillon, CERN: Time travel in three days (Part 1)

As September 19th was a federal holiday here in Suisse, we enjoyed a long weekend.  We decided to not waste a second of it, and planned 3 eventful days of autumn fun.  Right off the bat, we had to change our plan to watch the Sion air show, due to intense rain fall and fog on Saturday.  No big deal we thought, and we headed into the mountains instead to get above the clouds in Zermatt.  Zermatt is a quaint, cute quintessential Swiss village, most notable for being the base for viewing the Matterhorn and for visiting / skiing nearby peaks.

Fooling mother nature was not quite as simple as that.  We parked in Täsch as usual -well I say this because the kids and I visited Zermatt in August and did so,  and took the 10 minute train ride to Zermatt.  This journey just brought us closer to the rain clouds, but not above them.  So A) we could not view Matterhorn, B) the weather alternated between drizzle and torrential downpour.  They say Zermatt has approx. 300 sunny days a year, this was not one of them.  We kept our good spirits however.
J and Small Moose on the Zermatt train

In Zermatt
We went back to Forest Fun Park where the children ziplined and tree climbed in August in scorching hot weather.  Today they repeated the same activities in the rain.  All part of their rigid Ninja training schedule we keep.
Big Moose overcoming obstacles

Big Fish tethered

Downtown, we literally walked into the middle of an amazing performance of Mozart's Requiem, called Hark! Requiem Reloaded.  At first we thought it was a flash mob with umbrellas.  It was a truly moving performance.
Here are some sunny shots from August to give you a better idea of what it is like in Zermatt on better days:
Matterhorn in background

Small Moose navigating the treetops, Matterhorn below him

Big Moose enjoying bratwurst from a street vendor
We arrived back in Lausanne late at night, tired, wet but happy, ready for the next big thing.   


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