Archive for November, 2010

Nov 30 2010

“Chutes” of Snow

Published by under Uncategorized

Last week we had something of a mini blizzard here in Lausanne with multiple inches of snow dumped from the sky, a welcome excuse to post another photo of Ruben, for whom snow combines everything great in the world: he can lick it, he can hop around in it, and he can chase after it. Though it does stick to him in funny little snowballs. Tip for coton de tuléar/bichon/dogs with long-hair owners (who found this while googling “how to get snow out of fur of dogs with long hair”): if your dog doesn’t mind water, have him stand in a tub with warm water for 30-60 seconds and it’ll all melt. Then dry/comb/blow dry as appropriate.

Super Snow Dog!

But that wasn’t the end of it. This morning, I e-mailed Jackie to say that the prediction was for 15-20 cm (6-7.5 inches) of snow starting tonight and going through tomorrow, and it’s since been revised to 20-24 cm (8-9.5 inches), meaning according to the meteorological service the alert has reached: Great Danger (seriously…) Also, the meteorological service apparently calls the area of Switzerland near Lake Geneva the “lowlands.” As if we live in Scotland—also, Lausanne is nothing if not hilly.

At work, the administration sent an e-mail early in the afternoon which I didn’t get for some reason, warning of a “forte chutes de neiges” (i.e. heavy snowfall) and people started packing up to leave early right away. I only gave myself an extra 20 minutes for my bus ride to the train station, assuming that the bus might be a little screwed up, but trains in Switzerland travel through snow all the time, although not often in this area, so there wasn’t much to worry about. After sitting on the bus, in the parking lot, for 10 minutes, I realized that we weren’t going anywhere because the bus was stuck—not in the snow, which was at this point coming down quite heavily, but in traffic.

Out on the street, traffic was apparently backed up for blocks, so no cars could exit, and neither could the bus, which uses the parking lot as the start/end of its line. A few blocks away there are trams, which a few of us hapless passengers thought might be working. We asked the bus driver, who didn’t have any inside information. But when asked, he did offer an assurance that if he happened to pass us while driving and we were walking, he’d be happy to stop and let us back on. He also asked if there was any coffee available inside. The cafe was closed, and the vending machines aren’t easy to find, plus he’d have trouble passing through security, I informed him, while drinking tea from my travel mug. He noticed, and laughed, so I offered to run inside and get him coffee, as long as the other people now motivated to set off into the snow in search of moving transportation would wait for me. Two minutes later the bus driver had some coffee, and we were off. We passed the long stretches of backed up traffic, arrived just as a tram was pulling away, and decided to continue on the train station on foot. I was chatting with an American I didn’t know, so the 25 minute walk to the train station was not bad at all, even in the snow.

I expected some delays, so I wasn’t so worried about making a specific train. But at the train station, chaos. Signs claimed that trains were anywhere from 8 to 22 minutes delayed. Or flat-out canceled. Information I found online using my phone warned ominously of a “signal box malfunction,” which is never a good sign. I boarded one train, standing room only, and after 15 minutes an announcement was made inviting us to kindly disembark, since it wasn’t going anywhere. I boarded another train, this one marked as having an indefinite delay. From in the stationary train, we could hear the announcements in the station—indefinite delay for all trains to Lausanne. But after another long wait, things became more promising and after another wait, we left! The conductor announced that we were 60 minutes late (not an hour late, but 60 minutes) and the train was quite local so it made a bunch of stops, but eventually I made it home to Lausanne, where the metro is still running perfectly. Jackie had to leave for choir, but Ruben (and dinner…thanks Jackie!) were waiting for me.

According to 24 heures, train traffic will remain quite messed up between Lausanne and Geneva all night, with intercity trains all canceled, and shuttle bus service replacing part of the line. The Geneva airport is apparently closed, and the bus system in Lausanne was completely paralyzed, but may be resuming shortly if the roads get cleared (looking outside where it’s still coming down hard suggests otherwise.)

No responses yet

Nov 24 2010

Towards the holidays

Published by under Uncategorized

Not much newsworthy has been happening here.  Unless, of course, you want this to turn into a blog solely about Ruben and training a puppy in Switzerland.  Oh, and Adar and Horesh now have a baby boy, mazl tov to them!  He is a big newborn, very cute, and very noisy.  I have a suspicion their blog might turn into a blog on raising a baby in Switzerland…or they might just be too darn busy to ever blog.

My parents went on their annual Mauritius medical mission, stopping in London en route and Geneva on the return.  I saw them twice, and I got awesome, narrow shoes and lots of cheddar in London and then they got to carry Ruben around for 2 straight days in Lausanne.  Ruben was so tired from all this attention, he had to sleep most of the weekend to recover.

Today my doctoral seminar was rescheduled from Thursday afternoon to Wednesday night.  We had a guest speaker talk about the relationship between Cuba and Chile during the Cold War, and I actually understood what was going on; thank you Jorge Dominguez and your core history class on the Cuban Revolution.  For the third time since I’ve been in Switzerland, I have experienced serious train delay, like the kind of train delay that results in “this train cancelled, see you…whenever it gets fixed” (there are plenty of small delays and frequent enough 20 minute or so delays on the Geneva-Lausanne line).  So I sat on the train for an hour, and the announcement was only “all trains are blocked in Geneva, please excuse us.”  Some kind of signal malfunction.  Eventually, it left, and I am sitting on it now.  In the meantime, they turned it from the express into the local train, so I will get home on the pretty late side.  =(  At least it was on the way home and I didn’t miss class.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and so is a bris, and so is a puppy class, and our CSA pickup, but fortunately I do not have class and Seth’s schedule is flexible this week.  We’ve been invited to two Thanksgiving dinners (!) so we don’t have to do all the cooking and stressing this year, though some cooking, yes.   On Saturday, I went to the market and bought so many vegetables from my favorite stand, that the new person who was helping me and doesn’t know yet that I ALWAYS buy a ton of vegetables asked, “Um, are you a vegetarian?”  I said, “Yes, and also it is an American holiday that celebrates the harvest this week, and I don’t know what I’m going to make yet! “  So our fridge is packed with cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, pumpkin (we roast and puree it here ourselves), red and white chard, beets, turnips, parsnips…but we’re sticking with old standbys and making a red cabbage recipe by Mollie Katzen, a simple roasted root vegetable dish, plus Mark Bittman’s winter squash buttermilk biscuits.

The last bit of news is that, as usual, I have a choir concert series coming up!  Guess what the theme is?  Oh yes, you guessed it, Christmas, and guess when?  Straight through the weekend that’s during Khanike.  Hoping we’ll find the time to fry some roots and spin dreydls even so.  It is really amazing how every Christian holiday my choir celebrates takes place exactly over the Jewish holiday that is proximate on the calendar.  The concerts should be pretty good, though, particularly if Christmas music is your thing, and the newly arrived Holden Collegi-ite in CJL has convinced our conductor that we should be singing a piece of Renaissance polyphony while we’re at it.  They are free admission, plus the information poster is awfully nice (click it for more info):

No responses yet

Nov 01 2010

No such thing as Halloween, but marathons, yes

Published by under Uncategorized

Well, this was our most un-Halloween yet of Halloweens.  We didn’t even give a thought to going to a party and getting dressed up, furnished no candy, and had no trick or treaters.  We did see two girls dressed up on our after-dinner walk with Ruben, but that was it.  I guess we also saw an adorable 2-year-old dressed up as a monkey over skype…

Instead of Halloween, Lausanne yesterday hosted its annual marathon.  Luckily for us, the marathon was on our street, the starting point a block up the road.  So late yesterday morning, there was a lot of commotion outside our window, various races began, we saw packs of people run by, and about an hour later, the marathon was finished from the perspective of the starting line.  One category?  “Mini children.”  Seriously, that’s what the marathon for kids was called.

Also this weekend, Seth took Ruben to another puppy class (we tried one last weekend).  It stunk.  We have discovered that despite the permissibility of animals riding on public transportation here, relying on public transport while a pet owner is unreliable.  Pet supply stores are barely accessible by public transport and canine education classes in Suisse Romande are almost all located in the most remote Swiss villages you could possibly imagine, with the exception of a few sub-standard offerings in Lausanne itself.  So, future pet owners sans car in Lausanne, consider yourselves warned.  At least there are several conveniently located veterinarians, and the one we went to on Friday was awesome–Ruben loved all the treats he got to eat and the other dogs he got to play with there!

No responses yet