Friday, August 31, 2018

Prague 2.0: Missing Persons

Sorry I've been away from the blog for a week, but we went to Prague last weekend to meet up with some very important people that we've missed:













But these are not the missing persons that I am referring to in my post title.

No, our mystery began after the above family members left town and Joe, Mo, and I were left to our devices for a day. After a quick Google search, Joe discovered that the Žižkov Television Tower in downtown Prague is a functional television tower that has an art installation (babies!) attached to it. Yes, please!
From across town.



















A quick trip on the Czech WAY underground subway system...
One of the cool walls at the subway stop.












...brought us to the tower:

 
View from underneath.

According to Wikipedia, "The structure of the tower is unconventional, based on a triangle whose corners are growing up in steel columns, consisting of three tubes with a double steel wall, filled with concrete. They support nine 'pods' and three decks for transmitting equipment. One of the three pillars extends considerably higher than the others, and this provides both the necessary height for some antennas, along with the structure's rocket and gantry appearance. The tower stands 216 metres (709 feet) high, altitude of the observatory is 93 m, the hotel room* altitude is 70 m, restaurants altitude is 66 m, with a capacity of 180 people. Three elevators transport passengers at a speed of 4 m/s. " 
*ONE hotel room!

But where are the babies??? Google promised us babies crawling up the tower!

"In 2000, ten fiberglass sculptures (3.5 m long, 2.6 m wide, and weigh approximately 150 kg) by Czech artist David Černý called "Miminka" (Babies), crawling up and down were temporarily attached to the tower's pillars. The sculptures were admired by many and were returned in 2001 as a permanent installation."

On the observation deck we saw a model of the tower we were standing in with the babies:
How cute is that?
But in real life there were NO babies!  

Apparently, for cleaning and structural checks, these Babies were removed from the tower in the fall of 2017, and they were scheduled to return to the tower in the spring of 2018, but they haven't been returned as of August 2018! Boo hoo!

Then we read that three replica babies (made of bronze, though) were located in Kampa Park. So off we went in search of the missing babies. After another subway ride and a long walk along the Vltava River we FINALLY found the missing babies:
My 'babe' next to a baby for scale.
Baby butt!





They were pretty awesome except for their faces...Mo was VERY disturbed by the "faces"...or lack there of:

















Our missing persons search ended up giving us a "baby steps" tour of Prague.
See what I did there?















Today's poem is not about babies, but about what it feels like to miss someone. Being halfway around the world has made the absence of loved ones very keen:
...I am a sock without a shoe.
...I am a cow without her moo.
...I am a detective without a clue.
...I am a stamp without the glue.
...I am a full bladder without a loo.
...I am a pigeon without its coo.
...I am a church without a pew.
...I am a ghost without its boo.
...I am the early morning grass without its dew.
...I am not my best

                                    ...without YOU!

©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Target Practice

This post is kind of a Pee.S. to Friday's post...












I'm sorry to belabor the bathroom subject, but Joe encountered something in the bathroom here at work that he never saw in the US:
A "fly" in the urinal.



















The urinals are "equipped" with a painted on fly for "target practice":
Ready, aim...
...fire!

Apparently this is not unique to Switzerland, though it is "on target" with the Swiss cleanliness sensibilities. The Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam famously introduced "flies" to their urinals in the early 1990's to improve aim and lower cleaning costs, if you know what I mean. And it worked!

Anything can be used for target practice for men, but the fly seems to be the most effective. Psychologically men want to pee on things they don't like. If it was something pretty like a butterfly or ladybug, men might not aim directly at it. If it was a spider or cockroach, it might induce fear and make them not even stand there. The fly is universally disliked, but does not induce fear. The perfect target!

If you want your own fly guy you can buy it here at www.urinalfly.com. Seriously.

Women don't need a target to keep the bathroom clean. Just sayin'...

Today's poem speaks for itself...
What's that?
What do I see?
Next to the drain
staring up at me?

Could it be
a nasty ol' fly?
Ready...aim...
goodbye!

What happened?
Why's it not gone?
Target practice
for the john. 
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Cleanliness Is Next To...

...Godliness.

That saying is nowhere truer than in Switzerland, where the Swiss take cleaning to the next level.

Case in point, public bathrooms (or WC (water closet), Toiletten, toilettes).

















Every public bathroom we've been in has been equipped with a toilet brush.

Every. One.

















Some take the cleanliness to the next level and provide toilet seat cleaner.

















But the best is when they give you explicit instructions on what to do...um, after you doo.

Even in English!



















I also love that they even have red dots on the sign to direct you exactly where to clean.



Today's poem is about the best possible thing I've overheard in a public bathroom:
a cheer and clapping

echoes off the bathroom stall walls

potty training success
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

S-N-A-I-L'S P-A-C-E

We're in the final week of summer before school starts. We're trying to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N time. What better way to do that than to observe shelled gastropod mollusks, aka snails.

The sight of snails still fascinates me because during our 7 years living in Tucson I never once saw a snail. I saw every other critter, but not snails.  Since moving to Switzerland, I am always surprised when one crosses my path...or rather, I cross theirs.
Hoisting himself out of the storm drain.












Crossing the dirt running path.












And blazing a trail.












Some snails hide in plain sight:
Can you see him?



















Peek-a-boo!



















Did you know, the speed of snails is around 0.5-0.8 inches per second? If they moved without stopping, it would take more than a week to complete 1 kilometer.

Today's poem is a limerick about a poor, poor snail:
A garden snail from Avondale
Took a trip -- an epic fail
Sailing on the sea
In a fit of glee

The snail was dinner for a whale.*
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.
*This version of this poem is thanks to Joy, poet extraordinaire, 
for her expert feedback on my original limerick.

Friday, August 10, 2018

All American Teenager

It's tough moving across the world. For a teenager, it is that much tougher.
Besides missing immediate family...
Loki and Colleeny













...and extended family and friends, Maureen misses certain American foods (followed close behind by living where the dominant language is English!)

So for her 15th birthday (which was Wednesday) we tried to add a bit of America to her special day.
We started off by making waffles on her very own birthday waffle iron:
We haven't found a place in Switzerland...

...that has waffles until now - home!
And the best part is that they are:










Then we took the train to the Zurich bahnhof in search of her desired "birthday cake":
There are only 5 locations in the whole country!
As with most things in Switzerland, they don't come cheap...
And for her birthday dinner she wanted the most All American meal of all:
McDonald's!
And "birthday cake"!

Oh to be 15 and to be able to eat like this...Joe and I didn't fair well that evening. 😳

Another food Maureen really misses is Cheddar Cheese. I know, right? In the land of cheese, she wants the orange stuff that is common place in the US. Then this week she found this at our local grocery store:
They are packaged like Kraft singles but taste like cheddar.












I have to admit, that there are some foods I, too, miss from the US: Skippy peanut butter and Toll House chocolate chips. Maybe next time you visit you could smuggle me some?

Today's poem is for my All American Teenage Birthday Girl who luckily is still on summer vacation:
birthday teenager
celebrates by sleeping in
a slumber party
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Look Sharp!

One of the most quintessential items associated with Switzerland is the Swiss Army knife. Victorinox Swiss Army knives have a long and storied history dating back to 1884 with its founder, Karl Elsener. One interesting tidbit is that the name Victorinox is a combination of Elsener's mother's first name, Victoria, and "inox", the word for stainless steel.

Since the Victorinox company is based in Canton Schwyz, one canton over from Zug, we had to check it out.
There was a small museum that showed knives big:

About the size of my forearm...


...with a lot of capabilities.

And small:
It's SO tiny!



















But the best part of our visit was the 'cutting edge' experience we had making our own knives!
OK, it was actually just assembling our own knives, but it was still very fun.

This is where the magic happens:
At the assembly table...

...with the instructions.
Luckily we were not left to our own devices, we had a lovely instructor named Melanie:











We diligently followed instructions:
Step...
...by step...

...by step.












And we were able to successfully assemble our own Spartan Swiss Army Knives!










Another perk to the assembly activity was that we got to engrave our knives any way we wanted! Melanie was impressed by our creative slogans:
Maureen's nod to the Victorinox knife spring.












My first Swiss Army knife!
With a note to myself.
This was his idea.
And we got a custom engraved large blade showing we assembled it ourselves! (Might have something to do with the warranty, but I am going to choose to believe it makes it special.)
When you come to visit, we will take you to the Victorinox center in Schwyz so you can make your own knife, too!

Today's poem barely made the 'cut':
sleek red case
tools tucked tight
watch the blades
they've got bite 
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Hot Spot

I know a lot of you reading this blog right now are hot, sticky, and generally uncomfortable at this point in the summer. Well, here in Switzerland, we are too.

Here in Zug we are experiencing an extended heat wave. These are the temperatures from this week - the second week of unseasonably high temperatures:
91.4 F
91.4 F

89.6 F







It's has been so hot that the Zug Cantonal government imposed a complete ban on fireworks, including public displays, for Swiss National Day which was August 1st. (Think 4th of July with ZERO fireworks.) It was interesting to note that there was 100% compliance with the ban - NO ONE set off fireworks. That made Wednesday a hot and sad day. 😧

For us personally, we've experienced extreme heat having lived in Tucson for many years. Right now in Switzerland it is not quite as hot as it got in the desert, but what makes this heat wave note worthy is the fact that there is NO air conditioning. Anywhere. OK, that is not 100% true, some buses and trains have AC, but others do not. Some public buildings/stores have AC, but many don't. And home/apartments almost across the board do not have AC. Our's included.

So we've become fans of the fan:
Go, fan, go!













And one night, to get overnight relief from the heat, we spent the night under the stars the balcony above us!

First we lowered the shades and moved the patio furniture / BBQ to make space on our balcony:










Then we laid out "tarps" (old rain ponchos from when we lived in Wisconsin!)










Then we put out mattresses:
You didn't think we would be 'roughing it', did you?












We put Smidgey's bed out there so she could join us:
She ended up sleeping on Mo's bed - what a surprise.












I'd love to say that we had a good night's sleep, but we didn't. At. All.
Turns out you can hear your neighbors, their dogs, and traffic much more when you are outside. Go figure! But it was a fun one night experiment.

The forecast for the next few days doesn't offer much relief:
At least we have a fan.











Here's a 'cool' little advice poem that will hopefully provide you with some relief from the heat:
no matter where you are
in this extreme heat
drink plenty of water
then repeat

                   repeat 
                                 repeat
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.