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Commentary: Morning Joe 22 January 2014

I’m American, so I follow what’s happening “back home” quite a lot, including politics. I follow by reading websites (jumping off page is news.google.com), listening/watching podcasts (The Rachel Maddow Show, The Daily Show and Colbert Nation) and generally avoiding CNN.

I’ve often thought that I should listen to other competing views. Fox….well, every time I hear them say something, I just throw up (my hands) because there’s not a shred of evidence about the facts and because they are so very partisan. But, still I try and/or I see clips on other shows about what Fox said, and so it continues.

Today, I watched Morning Joe, about the severe weather and resulting traffic in NYC, and the indictment against former Governor “Ultrasound” Robert McDonnell.

And Joe said some things which sounded very disingenuous to me:

“…And then on the other side of it, you start listening to things that this company got in return, and……nothing. I mean, there’s nothing. There’s a launch party – seriously? – for a pill…..”

Well, yes, Joe. That’s something, not nothing. That’s a very big thing. How many companies get a launch party for a new product at the Governor’s Mansion? And how about the access the company got to key Government officials and agencies which was made possible by the Governor’s intervention? How about the first lady appearing at another product event and the Governor promoting the product? That’s not nothing, that’s definitely something.

He goes on….

(speaking about the Feds and the indictment) “But, going back to an old Hobbs Act [of 1946] to try to get this guy…..”

This is what really gets me. It seems like Joe’s point is: the Fed’s weren’t able to find a recent law that he broke. They had to go all the way back to 1946 to find a law he broke.

Ummmm, what?! You mean that a law’s effectiveness dissipates or disappears over time? They have expiry dates? I’m pretty sure that the law against murder was made a long time ago, but it’s still valid. The vaunted “Right to Bear Arms” was passed in the 18th Century – should we dismiss it because it’s old? (No, we should dismiss it because it addressed a situation – lawlessness, attacks from Indians and others, the lack of a police force, etc. – that is no longer present.) Laws are written to be valid from now forward, unless specifically repealed, such as Prohibition.

Joe, if you are gonna make a case as to why this indictment is erroneous or unfair or whatever, that’s fine. But, please be honest and logical in your arguments. The two above just don’t make the cut.

 

Parking in Blue Spaces and Parking Discs

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I didn’t grow up in Europe, and by the time I started driving in Europe, I was over 30 years old and had been driving for over a decade. I fancy myself as kind of a “rules” guy – I try to follow the rules as much as I can, mostly out fear of reprisal (fines) than because I think it’s a good thing to do, but anyway….

It took me forever to really pay attention to the concept of parking in Europe, with the blue lined parking spaces, the white lined ones and so on. I got a lot of parking fines early on. Confused and surprised every single time.

So, finally I learned that with the blue parking spaces, one needed to place the blue parking disc, indicating the hour of arrival. But, I never arrived at :00 or :30, so imagine me trying desperately to accurately gauge on my blue disc, *where* exactly 14:17 was. I tried valiantly and I think I did a good job, but the inaccuracy really bugged me.

So, I asked the people handing out parking tickets.

“How should I set the disc when I park between :00 and :30, which is most of the time?”

“Always set the disc to be the *next* half hour mark, be it :00 or :30.”

Oh! Really? Awesome! So, if I arrive at 16:01, I set it for 16:30. If I arrive at 15:59, then I wait 2 minutes in the car and *then* set it for 16:30.

My recollection is that I asked the parking attendants follow-up questions, but I can’t be sure. In any case, for about two years since that day, I’ve been trying hard to arrive about :01 or :31 so that I could set the disc forward 29 minutes and the have 90 minutes *beyond* that for parking. (See where this is going?)

Well, it worked pretty well for me. Until recently.

I returned to my car recently with a ticket, but it was well within the time I had set. I completely didn’t understand why I had a ticket. And, let’s be honest, these parking people are not always on the up and up, but that’s another story.

So, I asked a local merchant, who seemed to agree with my complaint and said I should talk to the local Mairie as they contract the firm to patrol parked cars. This, I did. I marched right over there and presented my ticket and said, “I’m within my 90 minutes; why did they erroneously give me a ticket?”

To her credit, the young woman showed me the error of my ways.

It seems that the parking signs all say “MAX 90 minutes, meaning that you might be permitted to park *less* than 90 minutes. Grrrrr.

So, *yes* you round UP to the next :00 or :30, but you only get 60 minutes from that marked time. After that, and you’ve overstayed your welcome. And, she showed me the disc that they hand out which explains it clearly on the back. For the full details for Geneva (and presumably all of Switzerland, if not Europe?), go read the Blue Zone page on the Official Site for the City of Geneva.

Oh, but the two hour lunch doesn’t count. 😉 Of course.

IMAX in Geneva!

Pathé Balexert in Geneva has IMAX theatre

Pathé Balexert in Geneva has IMAX theatre

Mere weeks ago, I was lamenting the fact that there were no IMAX theaters near Geneva, Switzerland. The closest one I could identify is in Lyon. (which I still haven’t visited! )

But, Wednesday night while driving around after Volleyball practice, I was at a stop light and saw a poster for the new Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire movie. The poster proudly proclaimed that it was being shown at Pathé Balexert in the new, only-one-in-Swiss-Romande IMAX theatre!

Woo-hoo!

Divonne Border Road Construction Open!

Today, I had to go to Divonne from Geneva.

Recently, I’ve been dreading this, because the person I had to see was a little up the hill towards Gex and then to the right. Normally, that’s OK, but for the last few months, there has been some major reconstruction of the road that crosses the border from Switzerland into France, forcing traffic to go *far* to the left and then up and then back – a long rectangular detour.

Today, the road is open again! Although there is still construction going on everywhere. Here’s hoping it’s not the end.

Random German

Today, I had no time between clients to eat lunch, so when I parked the car in front of a little grocery store that advertised “Sandwich de la Maison,” I thought I’d grab one as I walked to my client.

I went inside, greeted the woman behind the counter and asked for sandwiches and had a look around the store, too. I noticed that the radio was on and the announcer was talking in German. Not Swiss German, but German German. So I asked her about it.

Turns out she’s from Germany and so we spoke a bit about it: where’s she from, how long she’s been here, where I’m from, why I speak German, how long I’ve been here, etc. Standard I-just-met-you conversations.

As I was paying at the counter, I noticed some business cards, so I asked if I could place mine there. She said sure, so now I have another location with my cards. Yay!

 

Tribune de Genève iPhone app

The other day, I was looking at a paper copy of the Tribune de Genève with a friend. He wanted to read one of the articles later and so proceeded to tear out the pages and fold them up. I told him “Just look it up online.” He thought it wouldn’t be on the site; I couldn’t believe that it wouldn’t be on the site.

I searched the site from my iPhone, couldn’t find it quickly. So, I then looked for a TdG iPhone app. Found it! Installed it. Same story – that article was not there. Weird.

I put my iPhone away and didn’t think more about it. Well, that’s not entirely true. But, I digress.

The next morning at about 6:00am, I heard a strange beeping sound, sort of like morse code. I was sleeping and most sounds in my room come from my computer (also sleeping) or my phone. In that early-morning haze, I reached for my plugged in iPhone, and glanced at it.

“TdG: Some useless content that we thought you might want to know about. So much so that we woke you up with it!”

I couldn’t process, so I put it down, and went back to sleep. Later on, I was going about my day and my phone made a similar (but not the same) Morse code-y sounds. This time, being awake, I decided to turn that beeping off.

TdG > search for Preferences or Settings or Tools or anything….. Nothing.

Settings > scroll, scroll, scroll, searching for TdG Mobile….there it is! What options do we have here? “Vue horizontal: On/Off”. That’s it?! That’s the only application preference you felt might be necessary? Right, OK.

Home Button > Find TdG > Press and hold it for 3 seconds > See wiggly icons > click “x” on TdG.

Good-bye, TdG!

 

Free Advice for: Gatorade

Gatorade is a sports drink that was developed in 1965 and is now the official sports drink of most American sports leagues and is also expanding world-wide. I love Gatorade for when I run, play volleyball, ultimate, football, or do any kind of exercise. So, I was happy to see Gatorade was sold here in Geneva. Specifically, they had the standard Blue, Red and Orange ‘flavors’, even if they left out the yellow-green lime flavor.

I distinctly remember the first time I bought some of the red flavor. I was expecting Fruit Punch, as it’s sold in the US. It wasn’t; it was Red Orange or something weird. Yuck! So, next time I bought the orange flavor. I was expecting…..well, orange. It wasn’t; it was Mandarine! Yuck! Well, the third time, I bought the blue one, but I did check the label this time and was not surprised.

To this day, I see the three flavors there on the shelf. I *really* like the Orange and Fruit Punch flavors and find it baffling that they don’t sell those flavors.

Recently, they had a special “Let’s try this for a month or two” flavor: watermelon! I loved it! Really yummy. I bought it weekly. But, now it’s gone.

Now, here’s what I don’t get. I can’t remember ANY marketing by Gatorade here in Switzerland. Meaning, that all these Swiss people that see it in the stores probably have little or no idea what the hell it is. Why they need it or might want it. To me, this means that the only people who really understand the product on the shelf are the Americans who grow up with Gatorade: ads, sponsorships, NFL coaches getting doused with a big vat of Gatorade when they win the Superbowl, and so on. We know what it is. And we’ll be likely to buy it here as we recognize the product.

So, Gatorade is here, not marketed to the Swiss and therefore mostly purchased by Americans. I don’t know if that’s 100% true, but it seems logical to me.

But, the flavors that are offered are *not* ones that the Americans recognize, and at least in my case, not flavors that I like.

I would *really* like to see Gatorade have more of a presence here and more importantly, please stick with flavors that have a track record. Bring Orange, Fruit Punch and Lime to Switzerland. Please!