Sunday, December 30, 2007

Free transport in Lausanne

This is from World Radio Switzerland and might be of interest for anyone planning on visiting Lausanne in the future.

Tourists in Lausanne can look forward to free public transport in the new year after a decision by the city council and seven other communes. Visitors who are subject to a “tourist tax”, which is set to increase from January 1, will all benefit from free fares on the Mobilis line, according to an article in Lausanne Tourism’s newsletter. The tourist tax varies from CHF2-3.5 per person per night. It is used by tourism associations to improve facilities. Officials hope the new system will make staying in Lausanne more appealing, as it offers free transport between hotels, the local hospital and schools.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bûche de Noël

Our after dinner treat on Christmas was a Bûche de Noël (yule log). It was excellent and is highly recommended to anyone who will be in France/Western Switzerland around Christmas.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Web Site Changes

I changed my web editing software as part of the move from a laptop to desk top. The good news is that the software is in English, the bad news is that it has different fetures than the software I used to use. I have updated the site with a few Christmas photos and will add more tomorrow after I do some research in how to get the photo galleries to work with this software.

Joyeux Noël!

Merry Christmas!

Bomb Scare

This is the first bomb threat I've heard about since we've been in Switzerland.

From World Radio Switzerland...

Train services are back to normal after a bomb alert caused disruption on Switzerland’s network yesterdayA suspicious package was found under a seat on a regional train in the canton of Bern.Police removed the parcel from the train in Lyss at around 12.30pm. Explosives experts examined the item before destroying it.No-one was hurt in the incident, although Lyss station was closed for over an hour.

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Fondue - almost a complete success

Last night was attempt number three with the McCann family fondue set. The first two times we had problems keeping the burner lit, so yesterday we thought about replacing our gas set with an electic one. Before we did that, we thought we should test the gas burner one last time. It ran for five minutes without any issues, so we decided not to replace it. Last night it ran great for about four minutes before it stopped functioning. It took a while, but I finally rememebered that the can must be upside down when filling gas canister. Everything worked great once the canister was actually full.

This time we used a premixed bag of cheese purchased from Co op, which made the entire process a little easier.

Where did Santa go?

I checked NORAD's santa tracker this morning and was disturbed to see that he didn't have any stops in Switzerland last night. How could he skip an entire country? He could have at least stopped once in the country considering how many people have an internet connection and children who would like to know where he is.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Baking bread with Grammie Krista

Just finishing a post started while we were in Bend.
Rowan helped Krista make bread on Wednesday. The photo on the right shows him kneading his little loaf.

Christmas Dinner

Click here to read an article on a traditional Swiss Christmas dinner. Our dinner will be more American than Swiss, but we will have fondue on Christmas Eve.

Christmasish Photos

I am having problems with my photo editing software (Elements 6 in French), so I can't get the photos resized for the web. Here are a few photos in an attempt to satisfy the demand. These are from our trip to see Pere Noel.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pere Noel

Yesterday we took the train to Roche de Naye to visit Santa. It was a small, narrow-gauge cog train. The train was a bit crowded, but we each did get seats together. Rowan wasn't too interested in sitting on Santa's lap, but was very interested in the treat that Santa was giving out. We got a family photo with Santa, which I'll scan and post on the web site once the printer/scanner is connected to the computer again. We were told there would be reindeer, but there was only one and it looked sort of pathetic without any antlers.

The snow was a bit hard, so it was difficult for the kids to play in. More photos will be posted soon.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Weak dollar

This article from the International Herald Tribune makes me happy, at least for the time being, I'm paid in Francs.

A new computing experience

I finally gave up on my laptop and just purchased an HP desktop with Vista. So far, I am not too impressed with Vista. I have a copy of XP that I might need to install if I decide I am really unhappy with Vista. The PC came with a Swiss German keyboard. Here are a few of the differences between a US and Swiss German keyboards

  • The z and thez y have switched places.
  • The Swiss German keyboard has these keys: ö, é, ä, à, ü, è, §, °, &, and ¬
  • the ; and . keys are one row lower
  • The @ is above the 2 still, but I have to push the 'Alt Gr' key. pushing shift and 2 gets me "
  • The ' and ? and ´ are on the top row

Thursday, December 13, 2007

US joins the rest of the world


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States on Wednesday joined an international
treaty on adoptions -- a move that will protect both children and parents, and
make the State Department a central registry tracking all adoptions coming in
and out of the country, officials said. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Maura Harty presented the U.S. ratification of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions during a ceremony in the Netherlands.

"We would say that today is a good day for children and parents involved in intercountry adoptions," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
"This convention establishes international laws and procedures for intercountry adoption. Cases involving the Hague Convention are to ensure that adoptions occur in the best interests of the children."

The agreement sets out what the State Department called "safeguards to protect the interests of children, birth parents and adoptive parents." It says children may be
adopted by prospective parents outside their country only if there is proper and
informed consent from the "family of origin." The treaty calls for authorities to make sure that birth parents haven't been persuaded to give up their children in exchange for money, urging countries to take "all appropriate measures to prevent improper financial or other gain in connection with an adoption." Officials also should make sure that the child's wishes are considered, the document says. The treaty covers the other end of the adoption process as well, calling on the country where the adoptive parents live to "prepare a report including information about their identity, eligibility and suitability to adopt, background, family and medical history." The rules begin governing international adoptions for the 66 signatory countries on April 1, 2008.

More than 19,000 foreign-born children were adopted by Americans in 2007 -- more than all the other countries of the world combined, McCormack said.
Final ratification "took a while" -- 14 years -- because adoption laws in the United States are generally regulated by the states, he said. "It took quite some time to actually normalize and get a common standard among all of the 50 states and build up the right institutions and procedures so that we could comply with the convention," McCormack said.

"It took some time to do that groundwork, and when you have 50 separate
sets of laws and 50 separate sets of state legislatures, it takes some time to
make sure that we get it right." Tom DiFilipo, of the Joint Council on
International Children's Services, called the agreement "a great accomplishment
after 14 years." "We're just glad that it is over and will be in place in April," DiFilipo said on the telephone from Moscow, where he was giving a speech on adoption. "The basic principles, accountability, transparency, doing everything in the final interests of the child, how can you argue against that," he said. The new rules may create delays in finalizing adoptions, especially adoptions from those countries that have also approved the Hague convention.

Guatemala, the country that provides one of the highest numbers of children coming to the United States for adoption -- more than 4,600 this year -- also just approved the international agreement, and its courts and government officials are expected to be overwhelmed. Salome Lamarche of Families Thru International Adoption said her organization has been preparing for the new rules. Her group has handled more than 3,500 international adoptions.

She predicted significantly fewer adoptions from Guatemala, at least in the short term. Several countries that are common points of origin for children adopted by Americans have not agreed to the treaty, including Vietnam, Russia, Ukraine and Ethiopia.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas market

Today we went to the Montreux Christmas market. It wasn't too different than a Chrismasish market you would see in the US. In fact, there were two groups of Native Americans/Pre-Columbians performing music. Our primary areas of interest were the "old fashioned" roasted chestnuts, the hot chocolate, the crepes, the playground, the carousel, and the ferris wheel. There are a number of Christmas markets over the next 23 days, so I'm sure more will be visited.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

New photos

Photos of our trip to the US have been posted on Blogs from the trip will be available soon.