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Monthly Archives: February 2010

My earlier post about HSBC’s ads that appeared in airports in 2008/2009 continues to receive viewings, according to blog stats.  Apparently, someone out there is interested in them. So, here are some more ads from the same campaign, more examples of using three images and a word, or a single word and three different images, to provoke a reaction.  A link to the earlier post is here: The Different Values of HSBC.

I have added another post with more from the same series: Even more different values of HSBC.

To see my first attempt in creating a series of “same image, three words”, click here.

On my flight over about a month ago, I flew Swiss airline.  I was bored and cannot help but notice their consistent use of a graphic in most of their printed matter.

It is a short horizontal bar (or a dash) placed under the title of something.  I think the horizontal bar resembles a cursor.  Some of you may remember the command line of Microsoft’s DOS, or BASIC programming.  (Nowadays, the cursor is a blinking vertical bar, which avoids any confusion with an underline.)  This short horizontal bar is always placed at the beginning of a new line, and to me the graphic suggests a blinking cursor or a bullet point that invites one to input a command.  I do not know the rationale behind the design.  Perhaps the airline wants us to think that they are always at the passengers’ command.  It is certainly modern (when used with Helvetica, duh), and I think it adds a sense of being in the information age.

I said the flight was boring, right ?

Incidentally, as I am posting this, Sue is flying over from NY to join me in Switzerland.

Diptyque is a French parfumeur based in Paris which started the fragrance business in 1963.  We received two Diptyque candles (bougie) as a gift from Tracy a while back.  One was a colored version of the Baies scent which is described as a bouquet of roses and blackcurrant leaves (above).  The other scent is Violetteviolet leaves releasing the plant’s radiance and body, and traces of powdery iris (according to the catalog).  We loved it – the fragrances are natural, complex, and sensual – that’s all I can say in words.  Smell is a very potent reminder of people and places.  It is always surprising how vivid your memory can be when it is triggered by a smell.

Over Christmas, IT and I came across their own store on Bleecker Street in West Village.  The store has all their fragrances and candles.  As expected the atmosphere in the store was very fragrant, but not overpowering.  IT bought some small candles and a special scissor-like device for trimming the wick.  I bought a scented candle called Cuir (“leather”).  This scent is being discontinued (but not discounted) so there is no description of it in their most recent catalog.  This leather fragrance smells to me “rounded”, warm, and luxurious (without being specific about what it is that is luxurious).

The walls of the store have heavy curtains which create a mysterious atmosphere.  The “chandeliers” hanging just above our heads are perfect for the store.  It looks to me like a surrealist’s idea of fragrance – in the form of feather and dripping liquids.

This is a video of a landing plane and a moving train.  It was shot just before my flight landed at the Geneva airport and contains near the end a short clip of my train from Geneva to Neuchâtel.  It captures the moment of my first landing on Swiss soil as a foreign worker.  Sorry, no music, documentaries are generally a bit quieter.

On one of my house hunting weekend in Lausanne, I wandered into La Crêperie de Grancy for lunch.  It is located on the second floor of a concrete building on Blvd de Grancy 4.  Quite a cozy, comfortable neighborhood eatery – a bit like a diner, except that as the name indicates, they only do crepes.  Creperies are quite common here and offer an inexpensive dining option.

This creperie had newspapers and magazines strewn about  for patrons.  A crew from the supermarket across the street just stopped by for breakfast.   One can order à la carte or by set menu.  I had “Menu Deux” which included a small green salad, a savory crepe (eggs, cheese and ham), and a sweet crepe (apple sauce), and added a cafe au lait.  It was very good.  I’ll take you there if you visit.

This 360° video is taken from Bel-Air, which is kind of like the Union Square of Lausanne.

Lausanne is very hilly.  Its center sits on top of several hilltops linked my bridges.  The hilltops and the valleys in between are connected by public elevators and stairs. Several levels of parking garages and shops are built into the cliffsides.  In the video, the area below me is called Le Flon which is fairly new and feels a bit like the meatpacking district of NY or Covent Garden of London.  There is a metro stop under Le Flon.  Beneath my feet was several floors of FNAC, the french equivalent of Virgin which sells music, stereos, games, and books, etc.  Behind me was one of the main shopping street and up the hill (which cannot be seen clearly) is the old town pedestrian areas and the cathedral.  The Rue du Grand Pont (the lighted bridge) traverses Le Flon and reaches a hilltop on the other side, where the Lausanne Palace Hotel, theatres and government buildings are located.

Everything is closed here after 6pm except restaurants.  Dimly lit restaurants do not offer takeout food.  They sell ambience and not convenience.  Bright lights signify a takeout joint.  In the US, pizza and chinese takeout are very popular.  In the UK, fish’n’chips and indian curries are dominant.  In Switzerland, or at least the parts that I am living in, it is Turkish kebab or Tunisian takeout.  I had Moroccan couscous in NY and France before, but not Tunisian couscous.  At the risk of insulting people from those two countries, I have to say I cannot taste the difference.  The other night I got this from my local Tunisian takeout for dinner.  The chili sauce they gave me (not shown here) is one of the freshest homemade sauce I had – it was very flavorful, pungently spicy but not overly hot.  I have to try some more North African cusine.

Couscous Aux Meguez Tunisienne

Since I was talking about car yesterday, I thought about my old cars.  In theory, we could have taken at least one of the cars with us since we are nowhere near filling up the 40-foot container that the company provides for shipment of our things.  In practice, it seems quite complicated to get the export and registration papers, and with unknown emission control standard.  It would have been too much hassle to keep either one of them.  The first one to go was the beemer.  It was a fun car for us, and we hope M and A will enjoy the use of it.

In retrospect,  this car would be great for commuting between Neuchâtel and Lausanne – autoroutes 1 and 5  have no cracks or potholes and the 8 or so tunnels on the way have the smoothest black tarmac.

The company has generously providing me with this rental car from Hertz for 60 days.  It is a Mercedes-Benz A180, a rather small car that I have never seen in the states.  Here’s a link to this car on the Swiss MB’s multimedia web site: A-Klasse.  In the US, I think they sell only class C and up, and not classes A and B.

When I picked up the car, it only had about 400 km.  So it is practically new and yes, it has the new car smell.  It is agile, but lacks power, yet feels safe on the autoroute; I drove it back and forth several times between Neuchâtel and Lausanne.  Every morning it reminds me about something by displaying a German message in red (something like “Reifendruck … überprüfun“).  My German colleagues told me that it is telling me to check the tire pressure.  The stereo plays CD with mp3s but sounds boomy, probably a result of using electronics to overcompensate the small size of the speakers.  I had to dial down the bass.

The car is just right for my 10 minute commute.  It also makes parking and navigating narrow hilly streets (i.e., my neighborhood) so much easier.  But it costs almost Sfr40 to fill half a tank of gas.  I think I am being swayed to get a small diesel car for living here.

Notice the rather clunky GPS on the dashboard which I think blocked out nearly 10% of the windscreen in front of the driver.  It has been quite useful though.  This is the NeverLost system that is provided by Hertz, the cost of which is calculated separately on a daily basis.  Since I am renting the car with it for 60 days, I think the total cost of renting the GPS would have paid for the device itself.  Yes, this GPS is multilingual and can speak English, unlike the one we had used in France a few years ago which spoke only French.

Here are some pictures of the interiors of my temporary home – living/dining room, kitchen, a small bedroom and a finished attic with a bed, and a foyer.  The house has one of those typical European staircase.  Another tenant lives below me and the landlord (a couple with 2 dogs) occupy the ground floor with a garden and pool.  Washer is the basement.  Certainly adequate for now, quite cosy in fact. Best of all, it is free for 60 days.

Continuing with the tradition of the food porn series, whenever I come across some good-looking food, I record it. This was my dinner on the night of Jan 28, 2010 at many thousands of feet above the Atlantic.

Fennel-dusted sea bass, sauteed vegetables, mascapone polenta, red pepper coulis; small green salad; and vanilla panna cotta with mirabelle plum coulis

Hello. Bonjour from Switzerland.

恭喜發財 Kung Hei Fat Choy !

We wish you all a Prosperous New Year of the Tiger and Happy Valentine’s Day. With the opening of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the start of O Carnaval in Rio, what a busy weekend !

We are back online.  The biggest adventure has just begun and there are many many stories to tell.  My iMac arrived by air freight and was delivered on Friday.  Finally, I can download the pictures from my camera (my SD card reader refuses to work with the company’s Dell laptop).  I hope to post several times a week. Check back regularly or look out for announcement on Facebook or twitter (@christwitx).

I am staying at a company-rented apartment in Peseux which is a small town above Neuchâtel.  It  is on the third floor with an attic and has two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  These are the views from my balcony and a back window.  Lake Neuchâtel can be seen faintly here in the haze.  On a clearer day, the snow-capped mountains on the other side of the lake can be seen.  The weather is like NY but generally overcast with a light dusting of snow.

Here is a map of Peseux: