My last days living in Switzerland are looming. Two weeks and I’ll be back across the pond, the sun rising hours later on a completely different body of water. As the time draws nearer, I realize that: One, I’m getting really impatient with things that drive me nuts about Switzerland. Two, I’m already feeling nostalgic about the things that I love about Switzerland.
It was a long, wet winter here in Heidiland. And is has been a cold, soggy, hypothermia-inducing spring. Down in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, Lago Maggiore is brimming over. Around here the farmers can’t plant their potato crops, because the fields are too muddy for their tractors to till.
A while back I wrote a post on stereotypes. Okay, it was a long while back, when Harold Camping was predicting that the world was about to end. In that post I recapped some pretty standard Swiss stereotypes: The Swiss go on eating Rostis and chocolate and dipping day-old bread into oozing pots of cheese fondue, occasionally heading down into their fallout shelters for another bottle of Chasselas or Pinot noir, which they deftly open with their ever-handy Swiss army knives, accordions playing cheerily in the background. When they’re not conducting secret bank deals involving covert Carribean cash transfers, that is. Or cleaning their ovens with toothbrushes. Or hiking up an Alp behind a herd of fat cows whose bells ding and dong sweetly into the picture-postcard valley far below. Today, I came across something that made me laugh. It’s a story of a Swiss person who has taken the click here to read the whole dang post [...]
The other day Luc had to give a presentation to his English class about the novel “the Great Gatsby.” It had to be 12 minutes long, so I volunteered to listen and time it. He argued that the theme of the book was “The American Dream,” or, more accurately, the Illusion of the American Dream. See, Gatsby was all about excess – the old idea that the more you have, and the more you can accumulate, the happier you’ll be. You’ll finally reach some point of maximum return, you’ll hit the top of the top. Then people like Tom, who are born rich, will let you into their fold. There’s this idea that everyone has an equal shot at being one of the chosen few. It’s just a matter of hard work. The movie is coming out this summer, in case you didn’t read the book in high school.
It happened today. Out running along the lake in a cold drizzle, I felt it. The low pit of winter is past. We’re on the upslope to spring. There was a huge gaggle of cormorants (is gaggle the right term for cormorants?) on the fake island in Preverenges. They must be on their way to Scandinavia. They must be feeling it, too. (I took this picture the day before.) I know it officially happened on December 21, when the balance of dark versus light hit bottom and the slow climb back into the sun began once again. But January is usually still too dark and cold and, well, winter for it to register. Today, however, despite the clouds and the rain, I finally feel like I’m climbing out of the hole.
I’m not dead yet! This may very well be my favorite line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail - it’s a close tie with Silly English kuhniggits! and Run away! Run away! Spoken with the proper accent, each phrase has served me well in response to a variety of situations I’ve encountered across the years. You might very well have wondered about my status, since my last post was about a month ago. I saw my trusty CTO Dave not long ago on a trip to the US, and the issue came up. Dave: You haven’t posted much to Gydle lately. Me: I don’t have anything to say. He shrugged, and that was that. Yesterday he sent me a comic from the Oatmeal that explains it much better than I did. Make sure you scroll down to the part that says “I’m a firm believer that if you don’t click here to read the whole dang post [...]
Gydle has been silent the entire month of November. No excuses, I just didn’t have anything to say. Then I woke up this morning and my brain was teeming with ideas. Was it something I ate? First, I have a great gift idea. I got an e-mail the other day from “American Gut.” Imagine my excitement! The Human Food Project is live on IndieGoGo. For only $99 and a stool sample, you can get a list of the microbes colonizing your gut. Upscaling is a bargain – it’s $180 for two samples, $260 for three and a mere $320 for a family of four!
I was a little worried that after my last post, someone would stage an intervention. Take away all my running shoes, maybe, or set up a booby trap in front of the door so I would trip and sprain an ankle. Remember, way back this spring I asked you to remind me to be moderate when I started going off the deep end. Thanks for nothing, people! As it happens, I intervened all by myself and took two consecutive days off. Then I went into a funk. And that has really slowed me down.
I think I’ve been possessed. All I can think about is how much I want to run an ultramarathon. I know! It’s totally insane! I haven’t even run a marathon yet! We keep running mountain trail races during which I’m thinking Oh my God I’m going to die! And then we get home and eat a ton of pistachios and I think Wow that was really great, we should find another one of these to run. Do you think pistachios could be hallucinogenic?