OMG, We are Parents!

No time to write much as I am busy parenting.  What?  Yes.  Parents.  The crazy travel-junkie couple known as Robert Hylton and Sonya Zilka have reproduced in the form of a stunning baby boy named Drake Nicholas Hylton.

Born November 28th, 2010 at 6:08am at the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland.

Back to parenting – here are the photos – will write more soon (I hope).

2010-11-27 Basel, Switzerland - Drake Nicholas Hylton 025


Robert Hylton


Airline Fees & Taxes–Who Knew?

My parents just booked their flights from Arizona to come and see our growing little family (little unnamed Hylton is due on December 11th).  Great news!

As they usually do, they sent me their itinerary by email.  They got a great deal on the flights at less than $800 per person.  All good.

Here’s the interesting part…  the itinerary listed in detail all of the various fees and taxes paid with the ticket.  First, I’m amazed they can fly someone across the world for $297.00, and b) I like the transparency (though it scares me in this case).  I haven’t seen this before and I was a bit shocked so I thought I would share. 

Am I the only one who has been out of the loop on how crazy this fair-to-fee ratio is?

Fare Breakdown





U.S. Customs User Fee:



U.S. Immigration User Fee:



U.S. APHIS User Fee:



U.S. Security Service Fee:



U.S. Federal Transportation Tax:



Germany Airport Security Charge:



Germany Passenger Service Charge:



Switzerland Airport Passenger/Security Charge:



Switzerland Airport Tax:



Fuel Surcharge:



U.S. Passenger Facility Charge:



Per Person Total:




eTicket Total:




The airfare you paid on this itinerary totals:



Taxes, fees and surcharges:      972.40        USD


Robert Hylton

Saved again by Google Translate! [The Dishwasher Episode]

Just wanted to share the latest event here in Basel where Google Translate has come to my rescue.  This one was particularly entertaining, at least to me and the Miele dishwasher repair guy.

Here’s the thing…  I work from home, so that gives me the distinct pleasure of dealing with most things related to the house.  This includes the small things, like receiving deliveries, to larger things like having things fixed, dealing with our landlord, etc.  Many of these people don’t speak English and my German is, uh, quite “begrenzt.” 

To get around this at times, I have brought out my trusty HP netbook with a browser open to Google Translate, and I try to start a conversation with whoever by typing my questions in English and having them appear in German (in this case), French, or whatever is needed.  The translation is always very strange and often quite funny.

Google Translate image

Interesting note:  Can’t do Swiss-German, because there isn’t a written version of it.  It is an informal language, so to speak (pun?).  There, now your day wasn’t wasted.

So, the Miele guy shows up to fix the dishwasher and of course it is something very complicated, both for me to describe and for him to understand.  Out comes the netbook and Google Translate, and rather than try to explain what happened, I just decided to paste the conversation here.  Hope you find it as entertaining as we both did, although it was probably better if you could see the accompanying charades:

German to English translation

Could not find fault
water in bottom pan
I suspect that has been used too much cleaner
cleaner residue in bottom pan

We have only used the small tablets, and only one each time

you have the dinnerware under a faucet with detergent-forwards

Do you mean … we are washing dishes in the sink as well?  Yes, we rinse the dishes with water only before putting them in the machine
We have lived here for 3 months, and it has only had this problem 2 times. When it happens, we can only use the machine if we wait for a few days.

when the device must run I can not find leak
what could be eventuele ware in the check valve between kukel a foreign body, and seal-ware and if it man running water in the sink, let it runs back into the device

The faucet was replaced this week. This one is new. Maybe it will fix the problem.  It was leaking water from the base of it. I do not know if the water went into the drain.

water closet has nothing to do with the new
if the check valve is like a foreign body zbfolie and you wash the hands, the water runs back into the device
that would be a possibility
one other error I could not find jatzt
Is the valve normally, or does it need to be fixed?

How to we stop this problem in the future?

the screen once a week clean and take out the check valve and check. when the same problem down again vorkommtund and check valve is ok then we have to build the device and unscrew the panel and then let you look through program and whether it is leaking somewhere, then

So, I will try this. If it does not work, then you need to come again?

If the error occurs again then even notice that program

Sound like fun?  You should try it really.  Gives you a new appreciation for some of the fun and pain of being a foreigner.  That said, we’re loving it here.  9 months pregnant, new country, new house, working remotely in three different time zones.  Not for the faint of heart, but we wouldn’t trade it.


Robert Hylton

P.S.  Did you see the autumn leaves photos?