Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ali Kebap Expansion

The third installation of Ali Kebap posters are appearing in Geneva.

The reveal to the original teaser posters felt a little flat. But with this third iteration, it's become kind of a running joke. A kebap-shaped hotel? That's pretty funny. I'm hoping this isn't the last. I actually want to see where Ali takes his business next.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jet d'Eau Rainbow

Part of our agency's summer party was a boat tour on Lake Geneva. I snapped this during the ride.

According to Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist, this beautiful scene was inspired by a little boy peeing.

Friday, September 18, 2009

American pop culture tweeted

I go online to check the headlines on The New York Times, CNN, and the BBC almost every day.

But it was through Twitter that I heard about Patrick’s death and Kanye’s outburst.

Does that say a lot about Twitter? Or just the people whose tweets I’m following?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Extending the brand

Traveling through Italy, I saw this boat docked along the Grand Canal in Venice.

Here's a close-up. I had it centered on the UPS logo, but then my boat started moving again.

I'm not sure if this is conscientious branding or just Italian improvisation, but I like how it straddles the line between brand identity and local authenticity.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cashing in on fiction

Verona is a small Italian town, about half way between Milan and Venice. It's probably best known as the setting for Romeo & Juliet (which I learned was not originally conceived by Shakespeare, but adapted from a 1562 poem).

Being a work of fiction hasn't stopped the Italians from claiming the house at 23 Via Cappello to be the ancient House of Juliet Capulet - complete with prerequisite balcony.

The marketing is great, and right out of Chris Anderson's Free. The courtyard is a public space, free to enter. But you have to pay to enter the house and have your picture taken on the balcony. In addition, the nearby shops make a killing selling miniature Juliet coins, statuettes, and copies of the book.

The Italians aren't known as the great capitalists of the world. But they've done a pretty good job milking an otherwise obscure building in fair Verona.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Is swine flu. Is not swine flu.

We've taken kids to the hospital in Switzerland before. Or, I should say my wife has. I don't even know where the hospital is. I should probably have her drive me by and give me a mock emergency in case I need to go on my own.

It's never been a huge emergency - always a kind of "just in case" scenario. Such as we had last week at 5 o'clock in the morning when my daughter woke up crying with respiratory problems. To our parental brains the equation looked like this:

problems breathing + living and going to school in Switzerland = SWINE FLU

Maybe it's that way in the States, I'm not sure. Seems everyone in Geneva is on orange alert for H1N1. You don't really see people wearing those funny surgical masks, but you do see increased notices about washing your hands in public restrooms. And a friend recently told me two of his co-workers at the UN have come down with it.

So my wife took our tear-streaked 5-year-old to the hospital with swine flu and came back with a tired 5-year-old with the croup who was so thrilled at the prospect of staying home from school she began taunting her brother about it.

It's hard to gauge the fear of Swine Flu in the States, although I read the New York Times daily online. I don't know if I'd be so afraid of it if I were back in Chicago. West Nile gave us a scare in the Midwest a few years back, but even then, we weren't draping the kids in netting and bathing them in OFF.

I think swine flu becomes a lot scarier when its potentially contracted abroad. And the croup is a lot scarier when it's potentially swine flu.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Internet down

Our office was without internet connection for two days. In fact, our agency's entire European network was down. It was interesting to see the reactions.

Some people were freaking out. How could they check email? Or their calendars? Or the news? Thank goodness for iPhones and Blackberries.

When my partner and I were talking, we kept turning to our computers to Google whatever we were discussing, only to realize we'd have to continue the discussion without visual aids. He was describing the a kind of fish he caught, and went to show me what it was like on Google images. Horror of horrors, he actually had to use words to describe it to me. He may as well have used the burnt end of a stick to sketch it on the cave wall.

Personally, I loved the break.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Very Methodical Ticket Booth

This weekend I took the kids to see Ice Age 3-D.

I paid for the movie tickets. Then learned that the 3-D glasses are sold separately. So after I bought tickets to the 3-D movie, I paid for the 3-D glasses by which we would watch said movie.

That seemed very Swiss to me.

But considering you pay extra for ketchup here - even at McDonald's - I don't know why I'm surprised.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tooth Fairy vs. The Little Mouse

My daughter just lost her first baby tooth. Because we are US citizens, the Tooth Fairy visits us. But in France and the Suisse-Romand area, it's "the Little Mouse" that exchanges coins for teeth. Frankly, that creeps me out.

We tend to give more in Swiss francs than we ever did in US dollars. We'd never give any of our children a $5 bill for a tooth, but when our son lost his tooth and the only coin we had on hand that night was a 5 franc piece, it didn't seem extravagant. Geneva's an expensive city, baby teeth included.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Metric lightning

Last night my wife and I were in bed watching the lightning storm outside our window. After each flash of lightning we'd count seconds until we heard the thunder to determine how many miles away it was.

And then we wondered how that converted to kilometers.

And then we realized we'd bought into that myth far too long.