Saturday, January 30, 2010

I can't find a worthy image for this

I learned a new French idiom today:

"No arms. No chocolate."

I'm not even sure what that means.

But I'm going to start saying it all the time.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Risky Children

Friday night I decided to introduce my kids to Risk (actually it was Lux, a free download). I wasn't super aggressive at first. But my 7-year-old caught on pretty quickly. By the time I decided I needed to take my destiny in my own hands and defend my people, he was already in position to rule the world.
It was like being in a Greek drama where the son returns to dethrone his father.

I am sorry, My People.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jumping for Jumpers

I received three new sweaters for Christmas. And I have since had a few Australian and British friends tell me they like my jumper. Of all the Queen's English idioms I've heard, I never knew a that "sweaters" were "jumpers."

I know they mean it as a compliment, but I can't hear "What a nice jumper!" without feeling a little humiliated.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rhapsody in Meat, Vol. 1

You've got to hand it to the Europeans: they know what to do with pigs.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

EasyJet Advertising, Part 2

As I've written before, I'm a fan of EasyJet's advertising. Not award-winning or revolutionary. But I look forward to them.

I had to look up where Faro and Heraklion were. I certainly wouldn't have said, "Oh, Faro! Use a mandolin-looking thing for the visual. They play those all the time there."

Maybe it's just because I'm an American.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Watches: DeWitt

I suppose it's hard to be in Geneva this long without starting to think watches are pretty cool. I never gave them much thought, but since I pass at least 20 different watch billboards and posters on my 20-minute commute to work, and another 10 to 15 shop windows with different brands all displayed, I've started to drink the Swiss-made Kool-aid.

Last month, our agency pitched and won the account for DeWitt, a brand I had never heard of, but which produces some pretty amazing pieces. (Count Jerome DeWitt is the owner, and keeps the title Count because he's a descendant of Napoleon's brother.)

Here are a few of my favorite DeWitt pieces. I love the first one with the bike chain.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Little Sister Goes to Haiti

My sister Liz is a social worker in LA. She's worked in orphanages in Quito and Nairobi. She's been asked to go to Haiti to help displaced orphans.

She needs to raise $2000 within 24 hours to go. If you can spare $10, the details are in this email from Liz:

The group I am going through is Visiting Orphans Org. ( They have an orphanage in Haiti - Danita's Children's Home. I will go to Haiti from Jan. 31- Feb. 7 to help gather displaced children and bring them to the orphanage, among other things. I need to raise $2,000 this weekend. There are two ways to donate (all tax deductible) 1st- send a payment through pay pal to or you can go to the Executive Director's blog at and click on the CLICK IN link on the main page. Either way make sure to list my name (Elizabeth Alexander). I am really trying to gather donations within the next 24 hours. If people can not donate I would be grateful to just have their prayers!

Ski Season Finally Began

We were finally able to start skiing (good mountain snow was a little late this year).

Just over that hill is a tiny resort we take our kids to in the Jura Mountains. It's not Snowbird or Jackson Hole, but it suits us. And it's pretty awesome to see trains headed to France roll by.

Friday, January 22, 2010

R.I.P. Barnes Bank

This is my great-great-great grandfather, John R. Barnes.

He started Barnes Bank 118 years ago in Kaysville, Utah.

At it's height, it was one of the most respected and fastest-growing banks in the region.

My grandfather worked there his entire life. He even authored a biography of John R. Barnes and the establishment of the bank.

But a week ago Barnes Bank was seized by Federal regulators and closed.

The economy is an easy out. (If the economy were entirely to blame, several other local banks would have shuttered long before Barnes.) I believe it was mismanagement, exuberance, nepotism and opaque communication from the board of directors. The failure of Barnes Bank follows Jim Collins' outline of "Why the Mighty Fall" to a T.

Our family lost a lot of money. But the wrenching part is feeling we lost a legacy.

(This has nothing to do with advertising or Switzerland. Just had to get it out of my system.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Effective Meeting Best Practices

Saw this poster in a corporate conference room. It reminded me of David Letterman's old joke about staying in a hotel in Times Square. You take out the Gideon Bible from the dresser, look out the window, and check off the 10 Commandments as you see them being broken.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No one dreams in Geneva

I couldn't figure out why I was getting so many "out of office" replies today. Then I realized it was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.

I could only get responses from Swiss co-workers and friends in Arizona.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bakugan Au Combat!

Looking for Bakugan information? Click here: and please notice the ad links. If you find them relevant, click them. Thank you!

The reason for that post is the recent resurgence in Bakugan related activity according to Google Analytics. I cannot figure out how or why this is happening.


About a year ago, I wrote this post on Bakugan - a toy and pastime my son discovered in his Swiss school. After the post appeared, Google Analytics showed huge traffic to my site from Europeans interested in Bakugan.

As an experiment, I registered the domain name and started a blog with Google AdSense. For some reason, traffic to this site has not increased even though I use the phrase "Bakugan au combat!" frequently, conspicuously and ridiculously throughout the site, hoping it will appear on any Google searches. (Google "bakugan au combat" and the blog is the #2 hit, followed by Change it to an image search and my picture appears.)

A few days ago, on a whim, I did this post on I have since seen the traffic to triple, with heavy traffic from Germany.

I really don't know that many Germans.

So if you are interested in Bakugan, please visit Because my Google AdSense agreement does not allow me to ask you to click on the links, I only ask that you consider them, and pursue those most relevant to you. And because you never know which may be relevant, you may as well browse through them, if you like.

Bakugan au combat!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anyone Want An Obama?

Having had Barry as a guest in our house for the last four months, I'm about to send him on.

I'm told there are some people in Paris who want him. But if you live in Switzerland and want to participate in the Obama In Our House project, you'd save me some postage.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Location, location, location

Dear Catholic Church,

If you would like your basilicas to be pictured on more postcards, make sure you build them in places where the city will not eventually install lots of street car tracks and bus stops. They make it much too hard for the postcard makers to photoshop out.

Friday, January 8, 2010

2009 Book List

Every year I publish a list of every book I read during the past 12 months.

If you'd like to see it, you can download it here.

Any recommendations for 2010, happily welcome. Even if I don't get around to them until 2014.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Clean hands. Full car.

Driving through Switzerland and into Germany, I saw something at a few gas stations I hadn't noticed before: courtesy gloves to keep the petrol spilling on your hands.
Are these relatively new? Do they have them in the States?

Now all I need is a swine flu mask.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jolly Old St. Fidel

While in Germany, we spent a couple days with my wife's distant cousins. Lovely, lovely people, who fed us amazing food.

Their home was full of traditional German Christmas decorations: 12-pointed stars, huge candle pyramids, wood-carvings in every window illuminated by candlelight, and this elaborate nativity scene.

In the background you can see the shepherds visiting the New Born King. In the foreground, you can see what appears to be Fidel Casto shooting a deer. I don't think that's in Luke 2. Must be somewhere in the Apocrypha.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

World's Most Unreadable Road Signs

Just got back from a week in Schneeberg, Germany. Gorgeous, hidden place near the Czech border. We drove, and I'm very glad we have a GSP console in our car.

Navigating in an unfamiliar city is difficult.

Navigating in an unfamiliar city with road signs written in an foreign language is more so.

Navigating in an unfamiliar city with road signs written in an foreign language on a foggy day is just silly.

But navigating in an unfamiliar city with road signs written in an foreign language on a foggy day in a town that uses some version of Gothenburg to mark its streets? Come on!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Worst. Christmas Decorations. Ever.

Before we bid adieu to the beautiful Christmas decorations of Geneva, I thought I'd post this. I passed it on Rue de Mont Blanc, the second-largest pedestrian mall in the city.

Apparently, the owner of the booth wanted to contribute to the holiday cheer by displaying a Charlie Brown-style Christmas tree on a sled that some 8th grader made in woodshop, on top of a pile of broken up styrofoam panels that look like snow to people with cataracts.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.