My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Funny, the things you'll see on a Swiss street...

I love to explore new and different places, but traveling is usually difficult for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is our six critters), so most of my traveling these days is of the "armchair" variety. I visit places vicariously, through travel blogs and web sites, DVDs, books... and Google Maps. Whether I'm inspired by a place I read about or by the far-off location of a blog visitor, or I just feel like dropping in on some random place on the planet, I sometimes enjoy exploring the world via Google Maps' street views.

True, it's nowhere close to the experience of actually being there, but without the expense of buying an airline ticket or the hassle of having to pack and drive to an airport and be groped by TSA agents ~ and let's not even talk about the misery of actually being on a plane ~ I can (virtually) saunter through Spain, roam around Rome, wander about Wales, journey through Japan, motor around Mexico or flit through France.

So today ~ which began for me at 4am, was filled with tiresomely tedious projects, and ended in a series of calamities while I was out doing my evening chores that culminated in my being inexplicably locked out of the house in -18º temps as it was getting dark and having to crawl through the doggy door into the garage to get back inside ~ absolutely demanded a glass of wine and some Google Map action!

Someone from Switzerland had visited my blog earlier today, so that's where I headed. I've always wanted to see Switzerland! I wound up in a small city called Männedorf and took off down the street toward nearby Zurich. There wasn't too much of interest along that particular road, but it was a pretty, early spring day there and there were sailboats out on Lake Zurich, so I was enjoying pootling along in a dazed sort of way when I suddenly hit my make-believe brakes (I was driving a make-believe BMW convertible, in case you were wondering) to get a closer look at this...

View Larger Map

You should be able to zoom in on it but in case you're not sure what you're seeing, that's a Cigar Store Indian standing on the side of the street, gazing out toward Lake Zurich. I don't know if he belongs to the owner of the house behind him on his left, or more likely to the Harley Davidson dealer (!) on his right, but I was pretty amused to see him there! But even more amusing was Google's thoughtful protection of his identity. If you've ever used Google's street view feature, you probably know that whenever people happen to appear in a shot, Google blurs their faces (as well as license plates on cars and often address numbers on houses). I don't know if it's a computer program or actual Google employees who do it, but somebody was really meticulous about it on this stretch of road! Not only is the Cigar Store Indian's face blurred, but earlier I'd passed an advertising billboard with a picture of some model or actor hawking motor oil or tranquilizers or whatever, and sure enough - his face was blurred too! I figure if the guy let his face be plastered on a billboard beside a busy road, he's probably okay about it being seeing by strangers, but maybe that's just me. ;-)

Anyway, seeing this Cigar Store Indian (who's apparently in the Witness Protection Program) standing nonchalantly on a Swiss street outside a Harley Davidson shop was just a little too surreal and amusing. So I thought I'd let him hang out on my blog till the tea and scones I'd promised you are ready! :-)


  1. -18º temps as it was getting dark and having to crawl through the doggy door into the garage to get back inside ~

    being locked out sucks..but you FIT through a doggy door! instant day brightener!

  2. The indian on the witness protection progamme, LOL!! It's a good job I don't have to get through the cat flap - it would just never, ever happen!

  3. I can't believe you got locked out in that kind of weather - so not fun!

  4. DD ~ LOL - that's quite a silver lining you came up with! ;-) Yes, even with my very bulky parka on, I did manage to fit through the dog door ~ and thank goodness! (Being a McDougaller sometimes pays off in ways I never anticipated!) :-) I'd have been in deep kimchee if I couldn't have gotten back inside...

    Barbara ~ Isn't it a hoot that they blurred his face?! LOL ~ a cat flap would have presented an insurmountable barrier to me as well, not to mention a major "so near, and yet so far" frustration!

    Jamie ~ My own disbelief was epic in its proportions! I've never had the sliding glass door lock behind me like that.

  5. that program is close to "eat to live"! which is what i try to follow! i really like eating that way.i just spent a few min on the mcdougaller website:) and im going to go look some more.

  6. That is really a unique scene, especially to happen upon on Google maps. I've spent my fair share of time roaming around streets on Google maps; it's fun!

    Crawling through the doggy that like through the looking glass?

    Seriously though, I'm glad you had a way in...being locked out in 18 degrees sounds'd have to go snuggle up with Mocha for a while if you didn't have a way in.

  7. Well, I'm certainly glad that I have never had to crawl through a doggy door because I definitely wouldn't fit! lol That's great that you were able to get back inside. Those temps are so dangerous! We're getting -15 wind chill here tonight after that raging blizzard. ugh

    Mike will use google maps a lot and goes all over the place with it, including places we've visited & loved. I didn't know they blurred out faces like that. That's a lot of work! Funny that the cigar store indian's face was even blurred out. ha!

    I hope the weather is better by you today. What nastiness there's been all over!

  8. Laloofah -- Never thought of walking down a street in another country -- great idea.

    Sorry, but I did laugh when you said you crawled through the doggie door. Well I guess you'll never be locked out now that you have discovered that you have a way inside.

    Wow, -18 degrees that's COLD!

    Try and stay snug and cozy -- barbara

  9. Egads! It sounds like you've had quite the day! When I do my armchair traveling, I like to visit travel blogs and Happy Cow (to see what the vegetarian restaurants are like in towns I will visit who-knows-when). I also like to go to Kayak and use their feature in which you can see a map of the world, put in from what city you want to fly, and how much you're willing to pay. Then they'll show you all of the places in the world you can go for that amount. It's nice to pretend I'm going to just drop it all and go to Paris, or Amsterdam, or Japan, or...

    Good choice on "visiting" Switzerland today. It is such a stunning country.

  10. DD ~ Yes, McDougall and E2L are similar in most respects, and I know some people who incorporate both, or go back and forth between them. Good for you for eating so healthfully! I'm not surprised to hear you love eating that way - we do too. I attended Dr. McDougall's 10-Day Live-in Program in Oct 2007, which was both fascinating and a blast! I was diagnosed with MS in 1994, which is why I "McDougall." I don't take any medications ~ instead I take care of myself with diet and lifestyle (Kris Carr and I use the same "pharmacy!" ), and am doing great! Plus, I can squeeze through doggy doors in a pinch. LOL

    Enjoy exploring his web site! They've got over two thousand recipes available there for free, and the "Star McDougaller" features are great. (I didn't get to be one ~ since I'd already been vegan for 7 years when I started his program, I was already "too healthy" to experience a dramatic enough change in my condition to qualify. But I experienced an improvement even so, in my cholesterol, energy levels and MS symptoms).

    Rose ~ Cool! I thought I might be the only one who derived entertainment (and travel fixes) that way! :-) I agree, that was a pretty unique scene. When I showed it to BW last night, I noticed the American flag hanging above the Cigar Store Indian! I wonder if all that Americana belongs to an ex-pat or the Harley dealer just thought it all makes a nice tableau? :-)

    I think crawling through the doggy door was more like falling down the rabbit hole. Or maybe it was finding I was locked out that was more akin to falling down the rabbit hole! And hey, you owe me 36 degrees - it was 18 below that evening! Oddly enough, it was 18 above when I was out doing chores last evening, and it felt so balmy that I dropped my hood and unzipped my parka! That's relativity for you. :-)

  11. Molly ~ You are so right, those temps are dangerous! How much snow did you end up getting? I'd already been outside long enough when I got locked out that even though I was wearing really good insulated gloves, my fingers were totally numb. It was definitely great that I was able to get back inside! You know, it never even occurred to me that I might not fit through the doggy door. I just saw it, the lightbulb went off and I made a beeline for it. Flopped down in the snow outside it on my belly and Army-styled on through! Not sure I would have been willing to accept defeat, but guess I could have gotten stuck like Pooh in the hole to Rabbit's den! :-) But at least the front half of me would have been warmer! LOL

    So Mike and Rose and I are all wandering the Google streets! We should all meet for a drink at a nice vegan sidewalk café in the Bahamas sometime! :-) Yes, blurring all that stuff out would be a lot of work for sure, I wonder how it's done?

    The weather today is much nicer, and I need to head out there and take advantage of it soon! Got to take the girls for a good hike and then haul 147' of primed ceiling trim out onto the patio to sand so I can get it painted! Ugh. Tomorrow it's supposed to start raining and then snowing and get colder for the next several days, and I don't like to do that sanding indoors. Hope you warm up soon!!

    Barbara ~ Oh, it IS fun! You must try it sometime! :-)

    That's okay, I imagine I looked pretty comical! Good thing the Google Street View cameras weren't trained on the back of my house just then. (Or WERE they?!) LOL

  12. Cadry ~ I love exploring Happy Cow too! Have you ever written any reviews there? I've written a few and uploaded some photos. That's such a helpful resource when we're planning to travel for real, I need to make better use of it when I'm doing my "magic carpet" travels too!

    I had never heard of Kayak before, but I checked it out after reading your comment and THANK YOU! What a great site! Funny, I've often told BW that it would be fun to have a way to find out where you could afford to fly to if you had yay-amount of money so spend. And now there is a way! :-) Sadly, my fantasy flight has to start at $380! That's how much it costs to fly from my nearest airport (in Sheridan) to Denver (the only place the local airline flies to)... such is life in the Back of Beyond. Hence all my armchair traveling. :-)

    I like how your imagination works, it's similar to mine! Have you ever actually been to Switzerland? I'd love to visit it someday, it certainly looks stunning in photographs.

  13. I think we got almost 9 inches. It's still really windy today & drifting something fierce. So much that a car hit a drift and is stuck in our ditch right now! Mike tried to dig them out, but they're too wedged in. :o

    Meeting in the bahamas sounds really nice right now, whether it's "real" or not! :)

  14. Molly ~ Oooooh, noooo! Did those people have to abandon their car there, or did they call a tow truck? Wind like that can really pack that snow so it's more like concrete, can't it?

    Okay, the Bahamas it is. Meet you there for a drink after work tomorrow. (I could use one!)

  15. They ended up getting someone to tow them out. I guess that there were a lot of abandoned cars around, though, and Mike saw a SUV flipped over. Yikes!

  16. You definitely did deserve a glass of wine and something fun to do after that whole getting locked out and gate falling incident.

    Anyway, I'm glad you decided to post about it because I was totally shocked by the cool technology of that google map thing. I zoomed on it (cool but nothing extraordinary) and then I finished reading the post (it tickled my funny bone that they protected the statues identity) and decided to go back to the map.

    I just happened to run my curser on the left and imagine my shock when it followed the scene and in the end, I got a full 360 degree view of that street. That is incredible. That takes virtual traveling to a whole new dimmension. I had no idea technology could do that except in fancy Fed Intellegence labs and then only after moving satellite positions around (like in the movies :-)
    Anyway, I'll have to figure out how to do that for myself cause there's lots of places I'd like to visit for myself that way. The first of which will be the clay soldiers in china.

    I should sign myself "technologically repressed" on this comment since probably everyone but me already knew about this - but oh well - it's me!

  17. Jo ~ I'm glad you enjoyed a fun introduction to Google Maps! I wasn't sure how many people might be familiar with it... I did figure most would, but didn't realize so many would use it for vicarious travel entertainment like I do! :-)

    I'm afraid you may be disappointed when you try to see the Terra Cotta Warriors & Horses in China. I actually found where they are (look for "Qin Shi Huang Tomb" in green lettering about an inch to the right of the red teardrop symbol with the letter "A" on it), but when I try to zoom in all the labels vanish and I'm totally lost. And there are no street views, of course. Not likely you'd be able to see the terra cottas anyway, as I believe they're all underground or under roofing to protect them. So here's a consolation prize you might enjoy!

    Still, the Chinese terrain looks really interesting on Google Maps. I haven't explored it much yet.

    You might want to check out downloading Google Earth, too. We had one of the earliest versions of it on our old iMac, but had to delete it when our hard drive was nearly full. We haven't bothered to download Google Earth on the new iMac, so I'm not sure what this newest version does that Google Maps doesn't.


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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