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Legend of a Donovan Jan. 30th, 2016 @ 11:57 pm
Walking around the Hannaford today, I heard a very familiar drumbeat come on the PA. And I was all, "Oh it's that song about a cowgirl, the one that ripped off the beat from The New Pollution."



Well, no, not exactly. It turned out to be a Donovan song which was familiar anyway! "Sunshine Superman." I just had never put the two together. But that's where the beat came from.



FYI. The jury is still out over whether Imani Coppola ripped off Beck with that beat, since after all, according to WhoSampled.com, Beck sampled the beat in "The New Pollution" from yet another song, "Hallelujah Alright Amen" by Gus Poole.


2015 Questions Jan. 11th, 2016 @ 10:20 pm
What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
Visited South America and Asia for the first time ever.
Bought an investment property.
Vetted tenants for said investment property.
Made rental income.
Built a freestanding structure (shed).
Laid paving stones.
Maxed out my work's retirement savings plan.

Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Nope.
Next year: Read 24 books. Watch 36 movies. Post 52 entries on my other blog. Several financial goals too dull to mention here.

Where did you go on vacation?
Naples for an extended weekend in January (extended due to cancelled flights).
Lima and the Sacred Valley in Peru in March.
We made a triumphant return to camping at Kring Point State Park in July after missing it in 2014 for the first time in ten years.
Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara in Japan in October.

Did you do your patriotic duty on the second Tuesday in November?
Yes, I even put up my first ever yard sign, for our green city council candidate. She didn't win, and neither did any of my local favorites. They all lost to the Democratic establishment picks. I know the Democrats win every race in this town unopposed, which isn't great to begin with, but having the Democratic committee's picks win everything is even more damaging to democracy. There is a real lack of imagination in the voters here.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.

Do you know anybody who passed away?
Grandma H.

Did you know anybody who got married?
John and Holland, and they had the best wedding ever. As part of the "circle of trust," we glamped out at the site of the wedding, a farmhouse in central NY. Then we helped build the wedding. Literally, everything was done by friends and family, and it was really, really nice. Great food catered by an Indian restaurant from Albany. And the groom's brother did yo-yo tricks on the dancefloor. It was my favorite wedding I've been to.

What countries did you visit?
Peru and Japan!

What sporting events did you go to?
Nope.

What concerts/shows did you go to?
They Might Be Giants at Upstate Concert Hall
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at The Egg
And the Confederacy of Dunces live performance at Huntington Theatre in Boston.

What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
Probably the day we visited the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto. We started the morning there hiking up the mountain before anyone else got there, and by the end of the day, we were petting deer in Nara.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I got a fat raise at work, something like 16%.

What was your biggest failure?
Working too hard.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
The weirdest thing, I came down with a cold for a few days in Peru, as I always do after traveling on a plane, and I felt congested on the flight from Cusco to Lima. My one of my ears didn't pop on the way down and it hurt like HELL. Like an ice pick in the ear for a few hours. I couldn't hear out of that ear for a few days. Apparently, if you're congested, you really need to use earplugs on the plane while ascending and descending. Something to do with the change in pressure makes it feel like your eardrum's about to burst.

What was the best thing you bought?
I would say our investment property, but time will tell on that one. Other than that, probably all of the food in Japan.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Whoever was the person who dumped an 8-foot pile of snow and garbage in our backyard. I'm not going to say the city was lying when they said it wasn't them, but I don't know who else would have been scooping up snow and garbage from the street to dump elsewhere.

Where did most of your money go?
Our rental property. A whole new down payment and mortgage, plus the maintenance, taxes and insurance we've had to pay. Yowza!

Other than that, here are my top fifteen expenses:

Home Mortgage - $10,835
Toyota Corolla Loan - $4,812
Groceries $4,555
Travel - $4,317
Property taxes - $3,757
Student Loans - $3,018
Home Maintenance (DIY) - $2,773
Pet Food, Boarding, Medical - $2,671
Home Maintenance (Contractors) - $1,951
Car Insurance - $1,169
Entertainment - $1,292
Gas (Car) - $918
Dining - $914
Gas (Heating) - $875
Clothing - $853


What did you get really, really, really excited about?
There was a lot of buildup to Machu Picchu. That was pretty exciting. And this is corny, but seeing the Robot Restaurant in Japan.

What song will always remind you of 2015?
Probably one of the songs from Ariel Pink's pom pom, either "Lipstick" or "Black Ballerina." I have very vivid memories of walking around the weird Town Center in Fort Myers while listening to it.

What was your favorite TV program?
In no particular order, The Knick, Review, Nathan For You, Going Deep with David Rees, The Americans, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

What was the best book you read?
I only read eight books this year. No standout great books either. So either Turn Right at Machu Picchu, The Monster of Florence, or Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I really liked the album by twitchy punk band Shopping.
Bu tmore than anything else, I listened to Boards of Canada this year, which I know everyone else discovered in the late 90s.

What was your favorite cultural moment of 2015?
When Donald Trump's daughter stiffly delivered a few lines on Saturday Night Live.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? This is such a dumb question. Year to year, I always answer Happier, but am I really so much happier than the first year I did this survey?
ii. thinner or fatter? Same as usual. 163-165.
iii. richer or poorer? Richer.

How will you be spending Christmas?
Spent in Fredonia with the in-laws.

What did you want and get?
I wanted cobblestones, and I got them. I spotted piles of them sitting just a block from my house, called the owner of the apartment complex they were next to, and arranged to pay $1 each for them. These are jumbo belgian blocks, and they are never that cheap!

What was your favorite film of this year?
Mr. Turner

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
33. I took the day off from work as usual, and I had a craving for pulled pork. So I spent the day making that, coleslaw, and cornbread. Caitlin made me a cherry birthday cake.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Does David Rees count?

What political issue stirred you the most?
Once again, watching the Republican party self implode as it tries to stop its ignorant, racist base from taking over the establishment.

Who was the best new person you met?
Your mom.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
If a cool guy shits his shit's still gonna stink
If a cool guy's cool in the middle of the forest
Man, nobody fucking cares
So why don't you just be the you that you know you are
You know, when nobody else is there?
You'll be aware, it's easy, and it's so important
Being cool shouldn't cost a fortune
Baby got her jeans from Goodwill
But I bet that ass look good still
Okay let's remember that shopping at Payless
It just means that you pay less, it don't make you bae-less
If you don't get re-tweets, it don't mean you say less, okay?
Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment - "Wanna Be Cool"

Best quote from a Best Show Scharpling & Wurster bit:
Tribute band booker Adler Lansington called in May, 2015 and explained the bizarro tribute bands he represents...

J: "Bong Jovi, Ugly Robin Thicke, Mexican Kraftwerk, Pancake Little River Band, Cannibal Cops..."
T: "I'm sorry. Pancake Little River Band? I can only imagine, in fact I couldn't imagine what that is."
J: "It's more like, what are they called, dioramas like you made as a kid. So it's kinda like, it's not really a band. It's basically, you hear the music of Little River Band and each person in the band is kinda a pancake on a sheet... It's a very low cost show."

Meal/restaurant of the year
The ceviche plate at La Mar in Lima.
The chocolate and churros at Manolo, also in Lima.
Any of the sushi meals in Japan, or the food on the airplane. Yes, the food on the airplane!
And everything at the Farm On fundraiser I managed to snag a free ticket to.

Best podcasts
The Best Show
Mystery Show
Breakfast Quest
Hollywood Handbook
Mike & Tom Eat Snacks

Best radio show/podcast
This Is That
Do or DIY with People Like Us
This American Life
Tags:

The 2015 Lists Jan. 7th, 2016 @ 11:41 pm
Top 10 Movies of 2015Collapse )
Top 21 Netflix RentalsCollapse )
Top Songs of 2015Collapse )
Top 9 Albums of 2015Collapse )
Top music videosCollapse )
Miscellaneous!Collapse )
Top 20 Arists And Songs On My AudioscrobblerCollapse )
Tags:

Toto sampled Nov. 23rd, 2015 @ 06:46 pm
I love adding things to the WhoSampled database. At a breakfast café a few weeks ago, I heard the piano from Lil B’s “November Confessions” and eventually figured.



Here it is!


Numbers mix CD Jul. 11th, 2015 @ 04:54 pm
My newest compulsive music playlist is by the numbers.. finding the best song with each corresponding track number in the title.

1. Daft Punk – “One More Time”
Also “One Day” by Bjork and “One Day” by Nobukazu Takemura, “Only Got One” by Frou Frou, and “One More Robot” by The Flaming Lips
2. J Dilla – “Two Can Win”
Also, Grizzly Bear – “Two Weeks,” The Guesstimates “Two Snakes On A Plane” and The Magnetic Fields – “Two Characters In Search Of A Country Song”
3. Momus – “3D Corporation”
Also, eels – “3 Speed,” The KLF – “3AM Eternal,” and They Might Be Giants – “Number Three”
4. They Might Be Giants – “Four of Two”
Also, Ariel Pink – “Four Shadows,” and Soul Coughing – “4 Out Of 5”
5. Bjork – “Five Years”
Also, The Vogues – “Five O’Clock World,” and David Bowie – “Five Years”
6. Gary Wilson – “6.4 Equals Makeout”
Also, Sneaker Pimps – “Six Underground”
7. Scott Walker – “The Seventh Seal”
Also, Sufjan Stevens – “Seven Swans,” The Clash – “The Magnificent Seven,” and Tarwater – “Seven Ways To Fake A Perfect Skin”
8. The closest thing I could find was Jai Paul’s “Str8 Outta Mumbai” which doesn’t really count. Someone find a song with eight in the title!
9. Aesop Rock – “9-5ers Anthem”
Also, Public Enemy – “911 Is A Joke,”
10. Jaill – “Ten Teardrops”
Also, Jaill – “Perfect Ten.” Weird, that.
11. Thao & Mirah - "Eleven"
Also, The Spinto Band - "Eleven, and" Primus - "Eleven"
12. Allan Sherman - "The Twelve Gifts of Christmas"
13. Big Star - "Thirteen"
Also, Manu Chao - "13 Dias"
14. TISM – “If You’re Not Famous At Fourteen”
Also, Aphex Twin - "Avril 14th"
15. Slim Cessna's Auto Club - "Fifteen Years"
16. Jack White - "Sixteen Saltines"
17. Broken Social Scene – “Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl”

Also, Polysics - "MS-17"
40. Mercury Rev - "Opus 40"

Okay, there's 22 silent tracks on there I guess, but whatever. Any other suggestions?
Tags:
Other entries
» Spotted a Go Team sample
Can I mention that, after their latest album The Scene Between, The Go Team has cemented their position as one of my, probably, top ten musical acts since 2000? Their albums are all ones that I keep returning to.

Anyway, while watching the documentary No No about Dock Ellis pitching a no-hitter on LSD, there was some footage of the Black Panthers chanting.



The reason it was so familiar? Well, it picks up around the 2:00 mark in the song "Huddle Formation."



Ha ha. And here I am assuming every vocal sample in a Go Team song is either from cheerleaders or double dutch. Definitely not "Off the pigs!"
» The 2014 Lists
Top 14 Movies of 2014Collapse )
Top 15 Netflix RentalsCollapse )
Top Songs of 2014Collapse )
Top 13 Albums of 2014Collapse )
Top music videosCollapse )
Miscellaneous!Collapse )
Top 20 Arists And Songs On My AudioscrobblerCollapse )
Top Eleven Books I Read This YearCollapse )
» (No Subject)
1. Open Calculator

2. Type in your birthday as MM * DD * YYYY

3. Copy the resulting number into Google Image Search

4. Click on Search Tools, Type, and choose Animated

5. From the top row of results, save whichever gif you want to loop on a small LCD screen embedded in your future tombstone

6. Reblog and add the image


» Fence bullshit
Well the garage is gone now, so we are making progress. It was basically done single-handedly by our demolition guy and his excavator (aka the munching machine). It’s called the munching machine because it munched into our garage roof.





After two days, the garage was gone, all the blocks hauled off to the recycling. Apparently this was a tough job because the garage walls were so eroded at the bottom, there was a danger of the walls buckling out and hitting the houses around them. What really struck me was, late in the day, standing behind where the garage used to be, the sun was in my eyes. I realized the sunlight hadn’t hit that spot in 100 years probably.



The day after that, all of the concrete was gone. The whole thing going right up to the house. What was interesting was that no jackhammers were used. Basically there is what looks like the metal lift part of a forklift that they lay on the ground, push underneath the 4 inches of concrete, and then pull up with the excavator. The concrete just pops up, then gets broken up and thrown out.





Next up on that front is getting the concrete re-laid up to the house and the drains We decided to put in concrete up to the footprint of the garage, clear some of the dirt in the garage footprint, put in a retaining wall because the pitch of the site is so steep, then put the stone patio at the level of the retaining wall.

The same day the demolition happened, we went out and looked at fences and learned a little bit about them.

Your big box hardware stores sell the cheapest fence panels, of course, but they are pine and pressure treated. The pressure treatment makes them weather resistant, since you couldn’t leave plain pine outside, but it also gives them that weird dark green color. The two local fence manufacturers we visited make their panels out of cedar and use pressure treated posts. Almost everything I read online said that this is ideal, cedar panels and pressure treated posts. (Apparently cedar doesn’t do well as posts for some reason, but weathers very nicely otherwise). Cedar panels cost more, probably 50-100% more than pine panels, but I figured we might as well do it. It’s a small yard that only requires six panels, less than 50 linear feet of fencing, so we can afford the upgrade.



Well now it was time to dig the fence post holes. I wanted to do five at first so we could get up our four fence panels that separate the neighbors. yard. And immediately I ran into trouble. The first fence post was to be near the house. After digging six inches (in the neighbor’s yard shhhh…) I hit rock. Like,a big rock that goes into the foundation of the house. Hey, it was 1860. They made the foundation out of stone. Well, I wasn’t going to touch that and risk damage to the house, so I moved on and figured the panel will be attached to the wall somehow.

The next hole (also on the neighbor’s property shhhh…) was similar, but after six inches I hit bricks. Bricks, bricks, bricks. Their yard is full of bricks. The neighbor’s yard is elevated about two feet higher than ours, and I think it’s because they filled out their yard with bricks to make a level lawn. I don’t think there was ever a building there because the bricks are dry laid, and mostly, but not entirely, in a pattern.

So it took me a few hours working one brick at a time to get down about two feet. I need to get down one more. As for the other holes, we are on our property, and after six inches, we hit concrete! Yes, the garage foundation. I should have known. We figured out it’s all concrete blocks, three deep, and if you dig a trench, you can knock them apart with a sledgehammer! I want to get rid of the first two blocks all the way to make room for planning beds along the fence, and where the posts are going I’ll need to remove them all the way down.



All the way down entails even more concrete because the blocks themselves are sitting on a concrete pad. So there’s been a whole lot of hard labor going on. Digging, smashing, and removing.
» On Belgian blocks
You learn a lot about contractors when you meet with them in person. We had a few people come to talk about installing a patio. And one of these guys who works for a landscaping company that mostly seems to do bougey pool surrounds came by. I mentioned we wanted a paver patio made out of concrete or something else, and he said, “It’s all concrete. If you pour stamped concrete or do pavers, it’s all concrete.”

Uh, NO IT’S NOT, guy. It’s not all concrete. Maybe where you come from it’s “all concrete,” but paving does not have to be concrete.

Concrete is too easy. Concrete is for babies. Concrete is for people who don’t want the real thing. This is concrete, and this is concrete, and this is concrete, and fuck that shit. We live in a nationally recognized historic neighborhood and you don’t use modern imitation bullshit materials.



BLING BLING! THIS is what you need to use.



Look at that. It’s a thing of beauty. Real stone, roughly cut to shape, heavy as hell, it’s not going anywhere. But what is it?

It’s inaccurately called cobblestone. It’s more accurately called Belgian block, but it’s even more accurately called granite sett. Thanks to a gardening and hardscaping guy who came by, I now know what these are. These are the things that make up old city streets. When they tear up streets, you see them underneath the asphalt. Sometimes they get restored in the old part of town, sometimes they just get paved right over again. But these are indeed real granite blocks.

In this country we generically refer to any stones that make up a streetscape as “cobblestones,” but in reality cobblestones are small, rounded stones that you sometimes see in old European streets, or I’ve seen them built into houses here. Rarely you find them in streets here. They are riverstones: small, impossible to make into an even surface, and problematic for walking. At least in the northeast US, what we think of as cobblestones are actually granite setts.

I’ve heard anecdotally that we call them “Belgian blocks” because they were quarried in Belgium, used as ballast on ships to the US, and then removed and used as paving. I’m not sure how true that is, since in the northeast we have our own granite that could have been cut into blocks. But it makes a certain amount of sense, if you need the blocks for when the ship is empty (ie. Coming to deliver stuff from America to Europe) and unload them each time. But that sure is a lot of blocks over the years..

(An even better anecdote is that granite blocks were eventually replaced by poor Irish immigrants as ballast on those ships, and that’s why many of the Irish are here today. I doubt they were used as ballast, but it could be true that since the Irish were coming to America anyway, the stones weren’t needed. We’re one in the same, you blocks and I!)

As you can tell, I’ve read up on my granite setts. Predictably, since I love learning about these old building materials. And since I’m convinced that this is what needs to be our patio, I’ve been on the lookout and have started seeing them everywhere.

As far as purchasing setts, here’s what I’ve found so far:
-If you look up Belgian blocks online, you almost invariably end up with concrete fakes that go for a dollar each.
-There are landscaping companies who sell new stones for landscaping projects. Usually these go for $6 a block up to $12, depending on the size. The same goes for the companies cutting new stones today. Yes, they exist!*
-The blocks routinely get ripped out of the streets during re-paving. Sometimes they’re left in, sometimes not. Troy did this recently was selling them for $4 each.
-Home Depot sells them at $3 a piece, but they are half the size they should be, or less.
-Independent contractors end up with some on their hands. There is one guy on Craigslist who has a few thousand blocks listed for $3 a piece. I got him down to $2 because…
-The City of Albany has their own stockpile for granite setts you can buy for $2 each.
-There is a guy in Schodack Landing selling blocky setts for $1.5 each. That’s the best price I’ve seen so far, but there is also…
-A new apartment complex in Cohoes that required putting in an access road that I can see from my house. What I never noticed and Caitlin just saw recently is that there are piles of granite setts that were left in the weeds next to the road. I might have to call the apartment complex and see what their plan is, if any. They might be holding on to them, but maybe I can get them for cheap? They look nearly forgotten about.

*So why get new blocks? Stone is one of those great materials that, when pricing it, people don’t seem to realize that old stone is just as good as new stone. It’s not like that new stone is going to last longer! Reclaimed granite setts can be had for half the price or lower of new ones, and I just don’t know why the price difference exists.
» Le Garage to Le Patio
So we have a number of outdoor projects coming up at home that I’m going to try to detail in this space. You get to learn possibly useful (possibly useless stuff) and it will probably also help me keep track of everything.

We live downtown and have got this huge garage out back. Since we’re in a city lot, 25x100 feet, this two car garage takes up the entire backyard. What we’re left with is a small concrete patio between the house and the garage. Which is nice. It’s very private, being walled in by a fence and the garage. And since the courtyard is effectively below grade, the fence appears seven or eight feet tall and the garage wall probably ten feet.



The problem is we never use the garage. We park on the street, and so the garage became storage for bicycle, kayaks and garden supplies. Kind of a waste of space. Not to mention that the garage SUCKS. It is probably a hundred years old and made of concrete blocks. The problem is that no one took care of it over the years, and now it’s crumbling. The walls were probably painted at one point, which forms an impermeable barrier. Still water can get behind it, and cause the whole face of the block to pop off. And now we deal with the after effects of that. Concrete crumbling, mortar disappearing, blocks falling off. You can see through every wall, the ceiling leaks all over. I would say it probably sheds a few pounds of concrete dust every week. This crunches under your feet, forms piles, and just causes a mess.



So we’re getting rid of the garage and replacing it with a patio and shed. Although you could probably demolish the garage by turning a hose on it at this point, we hired a demolition crew to do it. It’s just too dangerous to do it ourselves. Not to mention back-breaking. This is how I envision the rest going.

- Contractor demolishes garage.
- Demolish garage floor and concrete patio up to house.
- Have contractor re-pour concrete patio up to house.
- Get fence permit approved. Install fence along property line with neighbor’s yard.
- Have 4” gravel delivered for new patio base
- Grade gravel to ¼ inch / foot slope
- Cover with 1” sand, save for 8x12 shed footprint, blocked with timbers
- Sort paver blocks by size if necessary
- Install paver patio
- Leave 2-3 feet of along fence for gardening, block pavers in with timbers
- Use polymeric sand in joints
- Have shed kit delivered
- Erect shed
- Finish installing fence along back of the lot to shed
- Plant plants or have someone else plant plants
- Re-install iron gate in our alley way

Of course this won’t go according to plan. Who knows what’s underneath our garage floor anyway? We should find out in the next few days…
» Swiss trip part 6, Murren to Geneva
Friday, it was time to head off to Geneva. It was even more complex than getting up to Murren because we were headed west across the mountains, and the trains keep changing line gauges. This time it was:

Murren -> Cable car to Gimmelwald, second cable car to Stechelberg -> Bus to Lauterbrunnen -> Train down to Interlaken -> Train to Spiez -> Train to Zweisimmen -> I honestly can’t remember if we transferred in Montreux, it’s such a blur, but we probably did -> Train to Geneva.

We had a few minutes to kill in Spiez waiting for our next train, so we gazed across the lake at this shit and listened to the noontime bells. Look at that shit.




The train ride to Geneva had lots of rolling green hills in place of the shocking mountaintops of the Alps. Also at some point, the language of the announcements switches from German-emphasized to French-emphasized, when you pass from the Bern canton into Vaud. Make what you will of it, but all I will say is that the conversations on the train at that point also started getting louder…





















We got a little lost coming out of the gigantic train station trying to get on our way to the hotel. I felt marginally more comfortable surrounded by French instead of German. But truthfully, I might have picked up as much German after living in it for five days as I have retained French from high school. Maybe instead of teaching kids foreign languages in school, we should just drop them off in a foreign country for a month. They’ll probably pick up more vocabulary than from four years of classes.

We stayed at the Intercontinental by the United Nations, again free thanks to points. It’s a nice level of luxury, like the one in Dusseldorf, as opposed to the stifling luxury, and its attendant helper people, at the Park Hyatt.

I’m glad they left my personal water brand out for me.




The hotel, as all Geneva hotels, kindly gives you a transport pass so you can use all the trams you want during your stay. So we immediately headed downtown, since the hotel is a mile or two outside the historic core, and started walking walking walking. St. Pierre’s Cathedral is the centerpiece of the hilly, cobble-laden old town, but there are sidestreets aplenty, all filled with delicious-looking shops. That is, until you get close enough to read the prices.







Did I mention how expensive Zurich is? Well, Geneva has a reputation for being even more expensive that Zurich, but I managed to find the one cheap, good restaurant in town, La Chez Ma Cousin, a chicken restaurant. I call it a chicken restaurant, because that’s what you get: Half a roasted chicken. That’s basically the only thing on the menu, but it’s really good. I’m sure a more wealthy person could indulge in some authentic French cuisine in Geneva. There was absolutely no shortage of it. But if someone just wants to give me a roasted chicken meal for 15 francs, I’m happy.

Saturday morning I made it my goal to go to a real boulangerie for breakfast. (Look at that flawless high school French) It’s typical of our vacations to grab something from the nearest doughnut shop for breakfast, but when in French Switzerland…. I went to Boulangerie Contel and proudly conducted the entire transaction in French using words like “deux,” “s’il vous plait,” “pains du chocolat.” This is one of the few times high school French has directly paid off.

After les pains, we headed downtown for museum-going. The Museum of the Reformation is located in the St. Pierre’s complex. The sign is the most fun thing about it. It’s really educational, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you had more than two days in Geneva.



After La Musee de la Reforme, we met up with Spans and David who had come all the way out to Geneva, perhaps lured by the temptation of Saturday night’s Eurovision finals. They don’t have cable, and our hotel room was about to turn into Eurovision fandom central that night.



Since we had combo passes, we were able to go to the Reformation museum, the St. Pierre cathedral spire, and the Site Archaeologique.











The archaeological site, underneath St. Pierre’s, is what you should be doing in Geneva. It turns out that the site of St. Pierre’s has been a sacred site for millennia. You can go all the way back to 200 or 300 B.C. to when it was a tomb for some unknown revered person. Then the Romans took it over, and so on and on and on. As you go into the basement, all of these layers have been partially excavated so you literally see history adding up. This bath is dug, a floor is put over it, another tiled floor over that, etc. Pretty amazing.

What fascinated me most is that the site was really originally chosen by the Allobrogians for that one guy’s tomb. Who the hell was that guy? Nobody knows. But at one point at the site, you see his bones. During one of the expansions of the church, they started finding the lower half of the guy’s skeleton. And here’s the sick part: Instead of digging the whole skeleton out of the rock, they dug straight down to where his head would be, and took the skull. They just took it out! So the lower half of his body is exposed, and then there’s a straight line right to his skull. What is wrong with you freaks of old times?

I didn’t take a picture of it (something about respect for the dead) but other people have.







Then we went to the Patek Philippe Watch and Clock Museum. It was expensive and late in the day, but I’m glad we went. They had the most insanely ornate, and mechanically complex timepieces you will ever see. I wish I could show you, but pictures were not allowed. They had a fascinating video that showed how birdcall clocks work. It's not a cuckoo clock, mind you.

About that time, we headed back to the hotel. Spans and David took our advice and got roasted chicken takeout from Chez Ma Cousine and then we settled in for a long night of Eurovision!



Cheap champagne, supermarket macarons, fine cheeses… that’s how Eurovision should be.

All of the semi-finalists perform a second time, performances that are bizarrely identical to their first performance, and then the voting starts. Then the vote tallying starts, with a representative video-conferencing in from each country to present their country’s voting results. Austria won, which was no surprise. What surprised me what France’s result. The winning countries will have hundreds of points by the end, countries in the middle are in the 50-70 range, but France had 2 points, last place by a very wide margin. Which is so strange because I think their song was kind of great.



The next morning, we caught the bittersweet bus to the Geneva airport and got on our super luxurious Lufthansa business class flight home. I say luxurious, but it wasn’t without its awkward moments. Caitlin’s headphone didn’t work, which led the German flight attendant to take her seat for a moment as he tested the headphones out to make sure it was the headphones problem and get new ones. Then my food tray wouldn’t deploy from my armrest! It took (what felt like) an eternity as a different flight attendant jammed the tray up and down next my lap, trying to get it to pop up and out. We are definitely due a few hundred thousand flyer miles for this embarassment, and probably a few bottles of champagne to take home.
» Swiss trip, part 5, Müre Mürren
Thursday morning it was time to head up to the Schilthorn. We checked the Schilthorn cam, which you must always do, because it can be cloudy at the peak, making it a complete waste of time going up. It takes two cable cars to get to the top. I would’ve tried hiking the entire thing, something like a 1,300 meter elevation gain, but it was still almost completely snowed in.




If you think Switzerland is devoid of cheesy tourist attractions, think again! At the top of the Schilthorn is a revolving restaurant and a James Bond museum. The sole George Lazenby vehicle, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was filmed all around Murren and on top of the Schilthorn. In fact, the filmmakers helped finance the building of the restaurant.






There is a scene where Bond goes curling on the walkway, which I had to re-enact.












There weren’t many people at the top, but all were ecstatic to be there. There were a father and son going to the top, and I didn’t even realize they had all their ski gear, so when they got to the top, off they went…



There was no one else at the Bond museum, so we were free to play with the big LCD table, the kilt with the tv inside it, and the bobsled re-enactment.







Coming back down.



Silent cable car pulling into the Birg station.







After Schilthorn, it was time for another hike. This time we decided to go uphill, against the advice of Kitty, who said it was still too snowy. We would go up to Allmendhubel, an area with a flower garden in the warmer months, then across and back down to the cliffside.

During warmer months, you can even take the funicular train up to Allmendhubel, but this wasn’t running either when we were there.









Here’s the first cows we actually saw outside. As you can see, they are very interested in people. Couldn’t help but feed them some greens.
















Allmendhubel station. Our water was running low, so we shoved some snow in the bottle taking a moment before realizing we would be drinking pure Alpine water! People would probably pay a pretty penny for that. They’d still probably want it filtered a hundred times because people are really paranoid about water, even Alpine snow water.



As you can see, it started getting snowy, and we only had hiking boots. There were a few other footprints in the snow, so obviously someone else had done the same route, but as we went along, it became only one pair of footprints, then no footprints. So we were the first people of the year stupid enough to do this particular route. I’m sure it gets very busy during the summer.





We came down into a nice valley with streams and wildflowers.











There are helpful posts everywhere telling you how many minutes hiking to different destinations. They are timed by local old people, and I’m proud to say, we usually beat their times.



More farmland, and no people.



So fucking picturesque!



Is this real??



Holy shit, look at that. Oh my god.​




We made it down to Winteregg since that was, I don’t know… a place on the map. I knew there was a train station there, so we might as well turn back at that point. There was a big restaurant and playground, and again, it was all closed. We walked back along the road to Murren.



Lumber mill.






They were testing out the train that normally takes people into Murren.



Back in Murren, there was a mountain goat chilling out next to our inn.



Ultra zoom!



Delicious supper in preparation for the second semi-final round of Eurovision!


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