Monthly Archives: April 2011

Greetings from Paris

Outside a Bistro in Paris

It was lovely to arrive in Paris with no time change/no jet lag. We glided in by train and went to our apartment in the 9th arrondissement. We are here with our friend Louisa and immediately went in search of dinner. The vibrancy of the streets are in stark contrast to the quiet, ordered feel in Switzerland. Everyone is much more fashionable, of course, and there is more emotion evident. Animated conversations, laughter, shouting. It makes me feel like drinking absinthe and painting. We have four days to see how that works out.

Help Me Help Myself

The Swedish* Nanny Training Center**
* All nationalities welcome
** Formerly Bob’s Autocare and Carwash

I talk to a lot of mothers. It’s what you do on the playground waiting for your kids to come out of the school door. And nanny problems are common. Nannies who don’t cook. Nannies who are late. Nannies who don’t interact with the kids. Nannies who are great with the kids but can’t do any of the shopping, coordinating pick-up times, etc. That’s why I opened The Swedish Nanny Training Center (SNTC).

Prospective nannies between the ages of 17 and 23 are put through our Nanny Boot Camp. Not easy stuff. But if they graduate, they are SNTC-certified. The only internationally recognized certification program that combines hands-on learning with my “Ken’s Right” rigorous classroom methodology. Nannies are also rigorously trained in conjunction with our brother school, the Male Midlife Crisis Academy (MMCA).

With SNTC-certification, you get peace-of-mind. Your husband gets MMCA training instead of a red Miata, office affair or a tattoo, and I get the will to get out of bed in the morning.

Applications, with photo and one-paragraph essay on “Why the Swedish Nanny Training Center is right for me” or “What I did last summer” are currently being accepted. Go Nannies!

Remembrance of Things Past

We had a mom and her two kids — a lovely six-year-old girl and a tank of a 3-year-old boy — over for dinner. This is the note we got back the next day:

“Sorry that Benjamin broke your toilet.”

Yup. Cracked in half.

Ah, the joys of dealing with 3-year-olds. It definitely reminded me: I am too old for this shit.

Bad Taste is Universal

No one has cornered the market in bad taste. Here are some lovely options to cover your (Laufen) toilet seat available right outside Basel. They are on sale at German corporate-based Obi, Germany’s version of Home Depot (or vice versa, depending on your global outlook). Happy bathrooming.

Which one is right for you? Alternative captions: Nothing says crap like an angel. No monkeying around here! Mooo your bowels!

This is Switzerland

Go into any bathroom in Switzerland and look down at the toilet. Here is what you will see:

The Swiss Way


Now do the same exercise in the US or the UK. You will see many more names.

This is what defines Switzerland. One company. Doing an outstanding job. Lovely design. High functionality. I love Laufen. It gives me pleasure to use their products. But I want a change.

I want to look down and see Kohler, Toto, American Standard, Triangle, Nautilus, Bemis, Pegasus, Crane, Gerber. Whatever. Just something different. Even if it’s not as good. Because the same, no matter how dependable, lovely and outstanding, gets boring.

How to Live Past 100

Alternative headline to please my grandparents: Worlds Oldest Antisemite Dies

World’s Oldest Man Dies at 114

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Walter Breuning’s earliest memories stretched back 111 years, before home entertainment came with a twist of the radio dial. They were of his grandfather’s tales of killing Southerners in the Civil War.

Breuning was 3 and horrified: “I thought that was a hell of a thing to say.”

But the stories stuck, becoming the first building blocks into what would develop into a deceptively simple philosophy that Breuning, the world’s oldest man at 114 before he died Thursday, credited to his longevity.

Here’s the world’s oldest man’s secret to a long life:
— Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. (“Every change is good.”)
— Eat two meals a day (“That’s all you need.”)
— Work as long as you can (“That money’s going to come in handy.”)
— Help others (“The more you do for others, the better shape you’re in.”)

Then there’s the hardest part. It’s a lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death.

“We’re going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you’re born to die,” he said.

Breuning died of natural causes in a Great Falls hospital where he had been a patient for much of April with an undisclosed illness, said Stacia Kirby, spokeswoman for the Rainbow Senior Living retirement home where Breuning lived.

He was the oldest man in the world and the second-oldest person, according to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group. Besse Cooper of Monroe, Ga. — born 26 days earlier — is the world’s oldest person.

So some Buddhist teachings (embrace death), some scientific low caloric intake advice (eat only two meals a day), some statistically accurate link between working and longevity. All good. Now the part buried in the article:

“The man who otherwise preached kindness and service to others acknowledged that he had mixed feelings about the war and the Nazis. He expressed some sympathy toward Hitler.”

So, maybe add one more thing to living old: find a group to dehumanize.

Also, Breuning never had kids. Hmmm.

Private Message to Jessica

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I ate the two bags of Funyuns yesterday. Just me. The boys don’t like them.
Enjoy New Jersey.
Must go food shopping with the boys, now. (I wonder if they still have the buy one, get one free Funyun special.)

PS: Celebrating NJ and the 1980s, a song for you:

Manic Fun(yun)day
It’s just another manic Fun(yun)day
I wish it was Sunday
When you were here
But now it’s Fun(yun)day
And you’re in New Jersey,
hey hey
I’m across the ocean,
over here.
Just another manic Fun(yun)day

Copyright Violations, Anyone?

At the bottom of the main stairs in the basement of the Basel train station is McClean, a pay-to-use toilet. For about 2 francs (less if you want to use just the urinal), you get the cleanest bathrooms anywhere. There is an attendant always cleaning. Whenever Jessica has used the bathroom, an attendant was always walking out of the stall, having just scrubbed and sanitized it seemingly before every new customer walks in. You could eat a Big Mac off these floors. Though in my bathroom visits, I favor McDonalds’ competitor Burger King, which is just across the street from the train station, and upstairs has super clean bathrooms that are free. The only downside? Every sixth bathroom stop with the boys I am compelled by the lizard part of my brain to purchase a Whopper and fries.

Very Satisfying

The March of the Lady Bugs

Seen outside the post office, 3:30 pm, Wed…
I don’t know what kind of bugs these are (Swiss Lady Bugs?) or why they are coupled, but they have really cool markings and a nice walking rhythm.

Stop and Smell the Pickle Flowers

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A most alluring scent has emerged from a flower bed in Schutzenmatte near our house. On our way to and from school, we are enveloped in the delicious smell of pickles. It’s like lowering your head inside a half filled wooden barrel of garlic pickles and brine at Guss’ Pickles. It is our Proustian olfactory madeleine.

We pinpointed the specific flower offering up this heady deli aroma, and I am transported back to my Grandpa Mickey’s New Jersey basement, where he had made sour tomatoes in barrels every fall. We are now on the look out (sniff out?) for a salami plant to complete the experience.