Wednesday, April 29, 2009

granola with extra fruit

California is called the Golden State, but it would rather be called the Green State. There may very well be more vegans than Republicans in the Bay Area, and people say "organic produce" and "locally grown" as if they were holy words. I admit that I have some green tendencies -- I bring my own bags to the grocery store, and I drive a Prius, but I draw the line well short of growing my own vegetables to feed to the chickens I'm raising in my backyard in order to be 100% sure that they produce organic, cruelty-free eggs. (Yes, people actually do that. It's commendable but insane, especially if the people have jobs and kids. Who has time to tend to chickens?)

I've met many people who are at various crunchy stages on the granola continuum (see chicken owners, above), but I met my first completely, ridiculously over-the-top one recently. Oddly enough, she is originally from Texas, not a state I really associate with crunchy granola types.

Over dinner, this self-proclaimed "free spirit" informed us that:

(1) She and her husband still "co-sleep" with their two kids (ages 7 and 10) in one bed.
(2) She is a recent subscriber to the "raw food" movement, and will be getting her very own food dehydrator soon.
(3) She only gives her children raw milk, because heating the milk during pasteurization kills all the good stuff (presumably she meant something other than dangerous bacteria), leaving nothing but "cow pus." (Is "cow pus" more nutritious if it hasn't been heated? If she thinks milk is basically just pus, why drink it at all, heated or unheated?)

She spouted a lot more entertaining fruitcake dogma that I won't go into. What I love, though, and what she doesn't know, is that her husband secretly gorges himself on chicken wings and pizza when he's at work. I don't blame him, if the food he gets at home is not only raw, but dehydrated. Yum.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

too late

This came too late for me. I suffered through a lot of transatlantic flights sitting next to wheezing rhino behemoths who couldn't keep their massive bulk out of my seat. No amount of passive-aggressive elbows and lowered armrests can save you from The Fat Travelers Who Refuse To Acknowledge That They Can't Fit Into One Seat And Then Give You Dirty Looks For Trying To Use All Of The Seat That You, The Reasonably-Sized Person, Paid For, But Which They Think They're Entitled To Encroach Upon Because They Can't Resist Hostess Cupcakes.

Maybe this will end their reign of terror. Although I'm not sure that the airlines will actually enforce it, since there were similar policies already in place, which I always hoped would be used, but never were, at least not when they could have rescued me from on-board hippo-wrestling.

Next, they should let passengers of below-average weight bring more luggage. Seriously. It's only fair.

And don't even get me started on babies and young children. Do you remember when there used to be smoking on planes, and there was a smoking section and a non-smoking section? Yeah, they need to do that with babies and kids now. Put them in their own soundproof cabin, and everyone will be happier, except the parents, perhaps.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

a few of my favorite things

When people ask me for recommendations in Zurich, this is what I tell them.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I never thought I had seasonal allergies, having made it through 30 years of seasons without issue. Apparently, however, I am allergic to Mountain View in late March. March has passed, as have my allergies, but now the mystery remains: what is in the air in Mountain View in March that isn't in the air anywhere else that I've lived at any time of year?

My only other allergies that I know of are cats, rabbits, large quantities of dust, and Sulfa drugs. Maybe someone tossed all of those into a wood chipper and sprayed it all over town, but just for a few weeks, until it got old?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


It's all relative.

The typical desk job in the States starts you off with two weeks of vacation per year, plus some standard company holidays. You gradually work your way up until a trillion years later, when you get four or even five weeks off per year.

Law firms start associates off with four weeks per year, plus firm holidays, but it's all for show. No one really takes all four weeks off, and chances are pretty good that you'll end up working on a fair number of the holidays and weekends, as well.

Then I left New York firm life for Swiss NGO life. When I first learned that I would get five weeks off, plus about two weeks of Swiss holidays, I couldn't imagine how I would use that much vacation up each year. Weekends and holidays? They were mine, as well. The first year I was there, I ended up with a few days left over, but after that, I used up all of my vacation days, and by the end of my time as an expat, I was finding it difficult to stretch my days off to fit my travels. My friends and I wondered, "How did we ever get by on less than seven weeks off per year?"

And then I moved back to the States. I get three weeks off, plus twelve company holidays, for over five weeks off total, which is quite generous by American standards, but still not quite the same as the Swiss seven. I worried that I would find it difficult to adjust back to the American way. As it turns out, I've been back in the States for over ten months, and have only taken two vacation days. In fact, by the time I hit my one year move-a-versary, I'll only have taken seven out of my fifteen vacation days. How things change...

On the other hand, that number is quite deceptive, because I'll also have spent thirteen days working from our offices in London, Zurich, and New York (to avoid taking vacation time while traveling), taken all twelve of the company holidays, and spent several days at company or department off-sites (wine blending, eating, doing pub trivia, skiing, going to the beach, and so on).

I'm not really sure which system works better for me yet, but at least I can say that, contrary to expectations, I don't feel vacation-deprived.