The Second Half

Anything goes. Within the bounds of propriety, of course. Welcome and behave, please!

Of winter and old farts — March 5, 2018

Of winter and old farts

Can winter make you realize you’ve grown into an old, crotchety fart? Quite so, I assure you.

See that above? It’s what the landscape around these parts has looked like in the past few days. When I woke up on the morning after the first heavy snowfall, I glanced out of the window and my first reaction was, “Holy cow, this is marvelous! So white, peaceful, and clean!”

And a few seconds later: “Bloody hell, how am I supposed to wade through this to go get beer??!”


When I was a kid, the first heavy snowfall brought jubilation, with squeals of delight echoing around the neighborhood all through the day. We were outside till dark – sleighing, staging snowball fights, making snow figures, or just wallowing around in the white fluff, then rushing home to change into dry clothes and dart back outside for more fun and games.

Now, in my early 50s, I look out of the window on such days and the first few seconds of wonder are quickly replaced by thoughts such as, “Huge electricity bills again…I probably need to buy new boots, the old ones seem to be giving up the ghost…Will trains run on time?…Eff it, I’ll have to do without beer today cuz I’m not going out in this!”

I catch myself thinking these thoughts and I feel sad. When did I get so old, in spirit, that is? Why doesn’t the sight of this sparkling white canopy compel me to bolt out and make snow angels or engage in some other frivolous activity? Ah, never mind, I’m sure learned people have produced countless volumes to answer such questions.

But I’m not totally depressed. You know why? I can still remember how it felt and the longing lurks in there, so maybe one of these winters I’ll throw decorum to the wind, sprint out, and act in a completely age-inappropriate way.



I renounce thee, Amazon! — January 29, 2018

I renounce thee, Amazon!

Do you have those moments when you slump into your chair and start howling something along the lines of “Ay, ay, I’m the lowest of the low, a spineless entity with the IQ of a really, really dumb fruit fly!”

C’mon, you must have hated on yourself now and then. I don’t mean for real – gosh, no, I hope you all love and treat your good selves right. But once in a while, we disappoint ourselves in some not-quite-significant ways, like doing something common sense screams at us not to. Or maybe we act in a manner that reveals we’re not the rather splendiferous characters we like to think we are. I recently had such a chair-slumping, howl-inducing moment and the trigger was Amazon.

Let me make it clear right away: I am not a fan of Amazon! Any company that seems intent on devouring the world is a villain in my book. Yeah, all right, hats off to Jeff Bezos for building an empire, but let it go already, for Pete’s sake!

Anyway, I had long resisted even browsing their site, let alone buying anything. Why would I do it? It’s a foreign company, and I’d have to pay a crapload of money to get my stuff delivered. I could get the object of my desire from a local online store, and it wouldn’t be more expensive when you factor in exchange rates and delivery costs.

So, I knew all that, common sense told me so, my aversion to Amazon told me so. And what did I do? Having listened to my friend Mona sing Amazon’s praises for quite a while, I caved in and made an account. I did the same thing with Titanic and Avatar: I’d sworn not to watch them and then they came on TV, and I was just too bloody lazy to change the channel. I quite enjoyed Avatar, truth be told, Titanic not so much, but that’s beside the point. I’m an oath breaker – an amoeba would have more willpower!

And Amazon is dangerous for me!!! You see, I have this maniacal desire to buy stationery, mostly pretty notebooks, preferably in bright colors. It’s probably a medical condition – these beauties never get used, I stack them up in a bookcase, go admire them from time to time, and that’s it. Con-di-tion, OK? No need to roll your eyes. And yep, it’s what I bought on Amazon.

Ah, the excitement!
Even Poofie got excited!
And the anti-climactic revelation…

They cost me a LOT and the delivery charge was hair-raising (I ordered via the UK site). I mean, it’s not money I can easily afford and besides, my English friend Lee said they were indeed expensive, so it’s not as if I’m looking at it from the perspective of an impoverished person.

What can I tell you? I’m not exactly displeased with my purchase. The notebooks are of excellent quality. That said, I expected five different colors, and I got a green duplicate, so four colors. Moreover, I was looking forward to a red notebook, and it turned out to be orange. Of course, I was a newbie and it didn’t occur to me to browse the comments section: I would have found out that many other people also got duplicates of one of the colors. Frankly, I doubt I would have parted with my money had I known such a risk existed.

The thing is that I must grow a spine and really steer clear of Amazon. On top of my dislike for the company in principle, it’s a hazard for people with an obsession like mine. So many notebooks, in all sizes and colors, sitting there, taunting me, reaching out to strip me of my hard-earned cash…Brrr!

So, here is my resolution: I won’t go on Amazon again until they set up shop in my country. That, however, is something I fervently hope to never see in my lifetime! Hey, I’m not calling for a boycott or something. I’m sure it’s a great option for many people otherwise Bezos wouldn’t have the money to do his imperialistic thing. But for this lady in Bulgaria, no number of devastatingly gorgeous notebooks will be temptation enough to return there. I’ve spoken!

Broccoli demon gets kicked out of cauliflower heaven: Day 4 — November 17, 2017

Broccoli demon gets kicked out of cauliflower heaven: Day 4

Alas, all good things must come to an end and this was one good head of cauliflower indeed! My grief is tempered by the gratitude I feel for the four excellent meals I squeezed out of it.

So, my esteemed readers, our cauliflower journey has come to its conclusion. In parting, I’d like to give you the recipe for one of my most favorite salads ever. In fact, this is what I usually end up making when I have cauliflower around. It will only set you back by a few minutes (when you exclude the time for steaming) and is a fantastic crunchy, creamy mixture I can never get enough of 🙂

Without further ado, here’s what you need besides the steamed cauliflower:

  • A cucumber
  • 2 or 3 tomatoes
  • Boiled eggs (I used three)
  • Parsley
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard

So, roll up your sleeves and cut the cucumber and tomatoes. The shape matters not as long as the pieces aren’t too chunky – just common sense really, you don’t want to use force to stuff them in your mouth. Then chop up the boiled eggs and add everything to the cauliflower, sprinkling with the parsley.

The dressing is the same we used on day three – mayo mixed with some mustard. You may have noticed that I rarely mention salt. I leave it up to you to decide if or how much you want.

And there you have it, the culmination of this cooking adventure. Granted, it didn’t require much in the way of utensil-wielding and pan-tossing skills, but that’s how I roll – minimum effort for maximum enjoyment 🙂

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey! I hope you gave some of these recipes a shot or at least enjoyed reading.

I’m off now to indulge in some mindless entertainment. Have yourselves a glorious weekend!

Broccoli demon outstays welcome in cauliflower heaven: Day 3 — November 16, 2017

Broccoli demon outstays welcome in cauliflower heaven: Day 3

Sorry, sorry, sooorryyyy! This series was meant to take a few days and be done with. Eyes will probably start rolling now, but I swear this is the truth: I got swamped with work, then went out of town for a couple of days and time just passed. In fact, I’m using a lull in the daily workflow to get this one finished and dispatched. Yep, I feel guilty, please don’t hate me!

So, let’s proceed. On day three of this cauliflower journey, there will be no cooking, just mixing stuff together. Well, apart from where you spend a couple of minutes to throw the cauliflower and carrots into the veggie steamer.

Here’s an interesting fact: for most of my life, I had no idea what tuna fish tasted like. I won’t start reminiscing about my childhood and adolescence, which were spent under an authoritarian communist regime. What I want to say is that many things were unknown in these parts, tuna included. Sure, we had fresh and canned fish, but no tuna graced supermarket shelves. At least the masses didn’t have it, the bastard commie elite may have gorged themselves on it.

The point of telling you this is to make it known that I have become a huge fan of tuna in recent years. No, I don’t start salivating profusely and acting strangely at the sight of it, but I do love it. Ergo, today you’re getting a recipe that features tuna. We’ll be having a salad of sorts, for which you need your cauliflower and carrot mixture plus the following:

  • Some canned tuna
  • Sweet corn
  • A cucumber
  • A few radishes (A spur-of-the-moment thing, saw them in the supermarket and thought it would be a good idea to throw some into the mix. My taste buds thought so.)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard

Do you even need me to tell you what to do?! Just in case you do, here’s the procedure: chop up the cucumber and radishes, add to the cauliflower, and then throw in the corn and the tuna. In another bowl, scoop up some mayo and mix with a bit of mustard. The quantities will depend on how much dressing you want and how mustardy you prefer it.

And here’s what you get for your efforts:


Incidentally, I’m having another tuna-based salad for dinner today. Don’t worry, I won’t be forcing that recipe on you as well. In fact, my cauliflower head proved enough for four meals, so the next post will be the final in this series. Then I really need a change of theme or people might think they’ve stumbled across a cooking blog. Which they have not, I must point out.

Broccoli demon lingers in cauliflower heaven: Day 2 — November 6, 2017

Broccoli demon lingers in cauliflower heaven: Day 2

So, the Earth did its rotation thingy and a new day dawned on my cauliflower project. After the euphoria of day one, I felt like something creamy for the next round. My thoughts strayed to the two options I typically debate in my head: mayonnaise with mustard or blue cheese sauce?

Frankly, I stick with those because they are easy to make, especially the first one. I mean, you just mix mayo with mustard and you’re done! Sometimes I add a spoonful or two of yogurt, depending on what else is in the dish to keep it from getting too rich.

I decided to go with blue cheese sauce. Since that’s quite the extravaganza in my book, I thought, “What the hell, let’s go wild and throw in some mushrooms!” And that’s what I ended up with: cauliflower with mushrooms and blue cheese sauce.

Cauliflower in blue 🙂

All right then, you have your steamed mixture of cauliflower and carrots. You’ll also need the following:

  • A few mushrooms (I had five mid-sized ones)
  • A little butter
  • Parsley
  • Ground black pepper

And these for the sauce:

  • 100ml of cooking cream (mine came in one of those small cartons)
  • 50g of blue cheese
  • 50ml of milk


Cut the mushroom up however you want and throw them in the pan, where the melted butter is sizzling and beckoning. My two cents: use as little butter as possible because there’s plenty of fat in the sauce. Of course, if your attitude to butter and similar fats is summed up by “the more, the better,” don’t let me stop you.

Once the mushrooms are cooked, turn off the heat, sprinkle with black pepper and chopped parsley and give the mixture a few good final stirs. Then remove the pan, take a deep breath and proceed with the sauce.

Did you notice how I gave you exact measures for the sauce ingredients? People who have read my recipes know that I have quite the disdain for precise quantities, but I’ve come to realize that sometimes you just have to do what you’re told. This sauce is a case in point. The first time I made it, my passion for blue cheese got the better of me and I plonked in the entire piece, which was 100g. I tell you, it was a massive waste of material as the sauce turned out too salty. I may or may not have cried in anger and despair.

Anyway, here’s how you make the sauce. Pour the cream into a pan and bring to boil while stirring. Add the milk and the mashed blue cheese and keep stirring until the cheese fully melts.


That’s it! All you have to do now is mix everything together, give it a few minutes to settle and proceed to devour with gusto. I think I gave my cats a scare because I was practically growling while I ate. I probably sound disgusting…Maybe I should just keep some things to myself.

See ya soon!

Broccoli demon goes to cauliflower heaven: Day 1 — November 1, 2017

Broccoli demon goes to cauliflower heaven: Day 1

Those who’ve read my article on fruit and veggies know that I turn into a demon at the sight of broccoli, a fiend losing all regard for familial ties, any sense of propriety and basic human decency. Must-have-all-broccoli-no-touch-you-die…..that kind of thing.

While not as demented, my reaction to cauliflower may also seem unhinged. Domestic peace has endured due to the exceptionally fortunate fact that my son doesn’t much care for either broccoli or cauliflower.

What I’m going to do over the next few days is share with you how I consumed a massive head of cauliflower (not all at once, of course, I split it into several portions). These are concoctions I felt like trying out, but I won’t claim originality – it may very well be that some ideas have stuck during my frequent browsing of recipe sites. I don’t even know what to call them: some are neither properly cooked meals nor salads. What I can tell you for certain is that I found every single bite orgiastic!

To spare myself some keyboard clacking and your good selves reading time, here is something that unites all recipes: the cauliflower is steamed together with some sliced carrots and this is later mixed with the cooked portion of the meal. OK? So every recipe has this as its foundation. Quantities are entirely up to you.

Some of these combinations probably violate a rule or two or a dozen of proper cooking. I kindly ask you to note that I’m clueless as to said rules and I’m solely guided by my taste buds and intuition.

Now, let’s see what came out of my kitchen on day one.

Broccoli meets cauliflower in epic merger of near-equals 🙂

In addition to the steamed cauliflower-cum-carrots mixture, you’ll also need:

  • Some broccoli (I got the frozen variety because my store had no fresh broccoli right then and I couldn’t wait)
  • A cucumber
  • A couple of tomatoes
  • Chili pepper flakes
  • Cooking oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt (perhaps)

As I noted above, this is a hybrid of sorts. I may like veggies, but I’m not too keen on steamed ones; they are depressingly bland. But combine them with some stir-fried goodies and you bring a good thing into this world.

All you need to do is stir-fry the broccoli, adding the chili pepper flakes near the end. I love spicy dishes, but if you don’t, you can just use sweet pepper flakes. Mind the salt because the soy sauce has plenty of it.


broccoli flakes
Phase 1: broccoli done


And that’s all the cooking, I kid you not! I mean, involving heat and some stirring. Remove the pan, add the cauliflower and carrots and mix well. I suggest leaving this to cool before proceeding to the next step.


Phase 2: broccoli mixed with steamed veggies


Once the mixture has cooled down, grab that cucumber and the tomatoes and chop them up, in as small or as large pieces as you want, in whatever shape pleases you. Add them to the pan and mix carefully so as not to squish the tomatoes.


Phase 3: all done


What next? Just scoop some of it onto a plate, drizzle with soy sauce and tuck in!

I realize I’m excessively biased in this case, but I have to tell you I was stuffing my face to the sound of heavenly trumpets and angel choirs. It was all in my head, of course, and I plan to seek professional help. That said, I hope somebody is intrigued enough to give this a try and get back to me with a comment. Happy cooking, fellow broccolites and/or cauliphiles!

‘Twas a day of peppery pleasure — October 29, 2017

‘Twas a day of peppery pleasure

Remember a while back, when I shared with you the recipe for a fantastic meal? Well, I happen to find it exquisite, you may beg to differ. Anyhoo, I told you then I’d be back one day with the recipe for one of my favorite dishes and here I am. Sorry it’s taken this long but I had to up and cook it, you know, take pictures and stuff. And that’s just what I did the other day, which is the reason I’m now at my desk, pounding away on the keyboard.

Before we get into the swing of things, let’s give credit where it’s due. I did not come up with this recipe, uh-uh. It resides here but might not be of great help because it’s in my native language (Bulgarian). You can try with translation or you can just rely on me – I’ll give you my version but also tell you what the original says.

Now, this one is supposed to be a salad – you prepare it, let it cool and serve it. I’ll probably become the object of ridicule, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway: I’ve consumed this in the prescribed way but I have it more often as a proper meal. You know, serving it hot with crusty, fragrant bread to dip in the sauce.

The second thing I want to note is that you’re supposed to grill the peppers and peel them. I tell you right away it’s too much hassle for me. I might be persuaded to grill peppers, but I do my Speedy Gonzales act when peeling looms. Besides, very few things smell as heavenly as frying peppers or taste as good. In other words, my version has the peppers fried.

OK, we’re ready to get cracking. If you’d be so kind as to look at the picture above, you’ll see the ingredients you need and realize it’s a simple meal. I have another selling point: it only takes about half an hour to prepare. Here’s what I invested in this cooking venture:

  • About 400g of chicken cut into small pieces (I bought about half a kilo but my cats decided they were in the mood for some. Mind you, they don’t much care for chicken, cooked or otherwise, but they were being contrary, for some reason)
  • 420g of corn (that’s what it said on the can)
  • 400g of peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 7 or 8 red peppers cut in strips (I forgot the exact number, shouldn’t matter much)
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic (or as many as you want or maybe none, depends on your relationship with the plant)
  • Ground white pepper
  • Basil
  • Cooking oil

It’s all pretty straightforward from here on. Heat the oil and start frying the chicken. A couple of minutes will suffice because you’ll get to cook it some more when you add the peppers. Don’t let them fry for too long either as they’ll get mushy when the tomatoes go in. Say, 10 minutes max for the peppers, then on with the tomatoes and the garlic. That’s where most of the cooking time will go – give the tomatoes at least 15 minutes, adding the white pepper and the basil at some point. When you decide it’s just about ready, throw in the corn and let the whole mixture cook for another minute. Turn off the heat and you’re done. Congrats!


Whether you serve the cold or warm version, I hope you find that half an hour time well spent. Bon appetit!

Why not? — October 27, 2017

Why not?

It’s been a month since my last post so you could say I’ve been slacking. Am I ashamed? Erm…not really.

And you won’t really be getting an article today. I mean, it IS an article but not the type I write for my own pleasure. It wasn’t intended for this blog but what’s the harm in sharing? Might as well use it to inject some life into this place. I’ll be back tomorrow with a proper article (I think). Cheerio!



Special birthday girls, Part 3: B.B. — September 28, 2017

Special birthday girls, Part 3: B.B.

On this day, a silver screen legend turns 83. But what does it matter? They say myths are ageless and Brigitte Bardot is every inch a myth and then some!

I thought for a moment there to say “the quintessential silver screen goddess” but it immediately felt wrong. Oh, Bri-Bri is a goddess – no argument there or at least none that I care to hear. But she is too unique to fit into the confines of any description. Silver screen goddesses were thick on the ground during the golden years of cinema, but Bardot was in a league of her own. Besides, she never thought much of the profession and never sought the adulation.

What was the hysteria about then? Sure, she was insanely gorgeous, physical perfection personified. But then again, there was a horde of other actresses beautiful beyond words.

It certainly had nothing to do with her acting abilities either. Bardot herself once declared, “I started out as a lousy actress and I have remained one.” Film critics say she did well in a couple of films (Le Mepris and La Verite), but she is generally considered a mediocre actress at best.

I have to agree: she usually seemed disinterested and somewhat disdainful on screen, as if the whole thing was an annoying chore. This inevitably translated into wooden, forced performances. Bardot never claimed to love acting. On the contrary, she consistently voiced her dislike for the profession and vowed to leave it when she’d truly had enough. B.B. kept her word and bid cinema adieu in 1973, devoting her life entirely to the animal rights cause.

But this woman had a presence so powerful that you couldn’t tear your eyes away from her! She could just sit in a corner and sulk, stare vacantly at a wall, or smoke with a supreme air of boredom and you would still feel compelled to gaze at her, entranced and spellbound.

The magic of Bardot has virtually nothing to do with the quality of her cinematic work. Her films are mostly light fare, sometimes downright silly and occasionally boring to tears. But people kept flocking to watch her. Why the abiding fascination?

The pursuit of the answer made Brigitte the subject of cultural, sociological and feminist studies. Another French icon, Simone de Beauvoir, explored the appeal of B.B. way back in 1959 in an essay titled “Brigitte Bardot and the Lolita Syndrome.” Here is an excerpt from that work:

“When Marlene Dietrich exhibited her silk-wrapped thighs while singing in her husky voice, she was casting a spell . . . Brigitte Bardot doesn’t cast spells; she acts. Her flesh doesn’t have the generosity that symbolizes passivity. Her clothes are not fetishes and when she undresses, she reveals no mystery. She simply shows off her body, which is in constant movement. She walks, she dances, she moves. In the hunting game, she is both hunter and prey. Males are an object for her, as much as she is an object for them. This is precisely what hurts males’ pride.”

Another prominent woman of French letters, Françoise Sagan, made Bardot the focus of a book in 1975. “She was success, money, love incarnated and she didn’t see why and who she should reimburse. She wasn’t ashamed of herself, she didn’t apologize for her absolute triumph whereas so many others apologized for their half-victories. And this is why she scandalized everyone,” Sagan wrote.

Brigitte refused to bow to conventions at a time when such dissent sparked public outrage and moralistic diatribes. This is a woman that the Vatican once denounced as the personification of evil by using her image at the 1958 World Expo in Brussels in its pavilion hall to depict suffering, hell and the devil, and lasciviousness. There’s an irony somewhere here because Brigitte remained a conservative at heart throughout her life. She was, after all, brought up in a wealthy Catholic family that upheld tradition.

Controversy has always surrounded Brigitte, nowadays mostly for her far-right inclinations and nationalistic views. Many in France revile her for her stance on immigration in general and anti-Muslim sentiments in particular. She’s been convicted several times of inciting racial or religious hatred. And while claiming to have many gay friends, Bardot has spoken some ugly words about homosexuals.

On the whole, the French have mixed feelings about their erstwhile screen goddess. Many hate her for the things mentioned above but many also praise highly her immense contribution to the fight for animal rights. Quite a few admire her refusal to follow in the footsteps of actresses her age who desperately fight the passage of time by resorting to cosmetic surgery and often end up looking ridiculous. Bardot looks every year of her age, all wrinkled and frail, limping along propped on crutches.

The woman has endured, that’s for sure. Her style has been copied avidly through the years, but no-one has even come close to the original. She was a being apart, floating in her own universe: an incomparable body moving with animal grace, a shock of blond tousled hair, a pout the likes of which the world had never seen and has yet to see, an unapologetic attitude, and a total disregard for the trappings of fame.

She has symbolized many things in her life, among them France, sexual freedom and women’s liberation. It didn’t seem as if she cared much about all of that. Brigitte often claimed she was happiest in La Madrague, her villa in Saint-Tropez, next to the sea, surrounded by her swarm of animals and away from people. They say that Saint-Tropez became the jewel of the French Riviera after word spread that Brigitte had taken up residence there. The city is now honoring its famed denizen by unveiling a statue of Bri-Bri on her birthday.

Bon anniversaire, Brigitte! Be well and stay happy doing your thing, even if that happens to be nothing more than feeding the animals in your yard and puttering in the garden.



(Featured image comes from Brigitte’s official Facebook page.)


WTF, Switzerland?! — September 19, 2017

WTF, Switzerland?!

Somebody in Switzerland can shit money!!! Like, literally! So far, the unidentified individual has pushed tens of thousands of euro out of their craphole!

Don’t suppose that fooled ya, did it? No, of course not. This is what a four-year-old might be inclined to accept as fact. There’s no excuse for grown-ups unless they are partial to mind-altering substances, in which case the idea of people shitting money wouldn’t appear out of the ordinary. So, let me tell you what all this is about and what happened in the aftermath.

Bloomberg (love you, guys!) reported this week that Geneva prosecutors were investigating how wads of 500-euro bills found their way into the toilet pipes of three restaurants in the vicinity of a UBS branch. For those not particularly interested in financial matters and the institutions that rule the market, UBS is Switzerland’s biggest bank and one of the world’s top sector players: it has operations in more than 50 countries and a global workforce of close to 60,000.

It might also be appropriate to mention that UBS has been involved in a fair share of controversies, some of them resulting in criminal charges. It was one of the financial institutions that held on to Holocaust victims’ assets and claimed them as its own. In more recent years, the bank has been accused of aiding tax evasion in several countries, violating US trade embargoes, colluding with certain peers to manipulate Libor and currency benchmarks, and quite a few other transgressions.

But it’s not my intention to hate on UBS. To prove that, I’ll also tell you that it consistently gets recognized by industry bodies, especially for its wealth management services, equity research, and employment practices. On the other hand, I didn’t set out to produce an article about UBS so let’s move on.

The bank had to be mentioned because the first discarded bills turned up in a bathroom close to a UBS vault full of safe deposit boxes. Within a few days, banknotes had made their way into the toilet pipes of those restaurants, the result being thousands of francs blown on plumbing repairs. Switzerland has no law against destroying banknotes but Geneva prosecutors believe the incident merits an investigation. UBS has yet to issue an official statement on the matter.

It figures that melted cheese (fondue) would be Switzerland’s most famous dish.

All right now, we know Switzerland is a rich country but come on!!! This was one of the first things to cross my mind when I read that piece of news. Then I got to thinking this is one frigging weirdo of a country. Cuckoo clocks, mountains, cows, cheese, fondue, chocolate, bank secrecy laws, neutrality during World War 2 – that more or less exhausts my knowledge about Switzerland.

Then the usual happened. You see, when I read something and it intrigues me for whatever reason, I want to find out more. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not always in pursuit of quality information – sometimes I just want to be entertained. I was leaning towards levity on the day I read Bloomberg’s article so I set out to unearth weird things about Switzerland.

Do you have any idea how many things are against the law in this country after 10 pm? I mean routine, run-of-the-mill things, not some outlandish activities. Check this out: flushing the toilet, taking a shower, washing your car, slamming a car door, or peeing standing up. Apparently, the first two are encoded in laws that allow interpretation. Come Sunday, don’t you dare hang your laundry out to dry, wash your car (yourself, that is; going to a car wash is perfectly legal), mow your lawn, or dump bottles and cans in public recycling bins. And forget about reciting poetry while you ski down a mountain slope!

You wouldn’t believe the passion Switzerland has for animal rights! In case you are considering a guinea pig, a mouse or a ferret as pets, you’ll have to get at least two or you’ll be guilty of animal abuse because these are social species. On the other hand, the country doesn’t seem to care all that much about cats, which definitely gets my goat!

No guinea pig is lonely in Switzerland (unless its owner is a law-breaker)

Most of its weird laws are intended to keep Switzerland clean and safe. That it is and then some! It may be the only country in the world where heads of state and government members use public transport and do so without any bodyguards in tow. Mind you, this is a country where men have to keep their rifles after their compulsory military service. So, lots of firearms around but no itchy trigger fingers.

What else made me go “WTF”? Switzerland allows discrimination on the basis of gender, age, or nationality, as well as assisted suicide. It also has no problem with illegal downloads but sharing the content is a no-no (huh?). You can go nude or start a campfire in public without fear of legal repercussions. And if you happen to be a wealthy foreigner, you can haggle with the authorities to get a flat tax rate.

So, dear readers, I now have a wealth of more or less useless information about this interesting country. Allow me to take a minute to thank Bloomberg and Reuters, whose daily newsletters keep me amply supplied with all sorts of information. Some of them carry serious stories, like world, business, and financial news. Some deal with plain goofy stuff. But you know what? They keep my curiosity alive and very often provide me with writing material. Granted, this article may not have much of a worth but I enjoyed the research and the actual writing. And I think I now want to visit Switzerland one day and cavort in the mountains among the cows, munching on a chunk of cheese and reciting poetry. Since I won’t be skiing, I don’t expect to run afoul of the law.

P.S. Remember how the Internet went ga-ga recently over the “[insert country] Second” campaign? With Trump stomping his feet and screeching it will be “America First,” a swarm of countries began jostling for the second position. The Netherlands produced the first video, setting the tone and style for the rest. Not all of them are good, but Switzerland’s is, without any doubt in my mind, one of the top three. In case you’ve let this hilarity slip unnoticed, grab a spare set of undies and then check out how the country sought to win over POTUS.

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