Today’s blog post is going to seem like a complaint fest. It is not meant as a complaint so much as to simply show you that the grass is not always greener. That Governments in all countries are a little messed up. Some more so than others, but all are messed up to one degree or another.
The first one is local. We got hit with a major snow storm last Friday and Saturday. Before I moved here, I thought of Switzerland as a winter paradise. I figured there was snow everywhere, in the winter. The reality is that outside of the mountain areas the climate is very mild, and yes, it does drop below freezing, the amount of precipitation in the winter is usually very small. Last year, we saw a little bit of snow, I think we had one where it snowed about two inches, but it was melted within 36 hours. This time we got about a foot of snow. It was one of those wet heavy snows. If we had kids here, they would have been out building snowmen. There are a lot of branches down, and everything is just generally a mess. As the snow started I had high hopes, the town was out spreading salt on the roads, and plowing. I thought it was going to be like living in Wisconsin. I was wrong, it is more like living in Southern Indiana, when we had the blizzard in the 70’s. In some ways worse, because I have not seen any evidence the town is even trying to clean things up.
The highways are clean, but even the major streets in my town are still basically one lane roads. I think the town is simply waiting for the snow to melt and take care of itself. I have not seen one truck out picking up branches, or clearing the snow.
The homeowners have not cleaned the sidewalks. I think part of this is the simple fact there is no place to put the snow. You can’t throw it back in the street, and all of the homes either have full hedgerows or fences toward the street. Most of these are over 10 feet tall. So it is next to impossible to throw the snow into the yard. At the bottom of the hill, the sidewalks are kind of passable, but I really wish I had my ice cleats but those are back in the storage locker. :), enough people have walked on the sidewalks that the snow has been compacted into ice. Up on our section of the hill, no one is even using the sidewalks, they are just walking in the road.
The good news is that drivers are incredibly courteous. If you are walking in a narrow area the cars stop and let you come by. If you are driving, people simply pull over and let you pass. When you do that, the the other drivers all smile and wave. I have to admit, the smiling and waving seems strange. I have not seen a lot of that in the last 18 months.
I believe, in my last post, I told you that we were going to be entering another lockdown this week. The lockdown basically started Saturday evening at 7:00 PM. I say basically, because everything is shutdown on Sundays, and the COVID restrictions already had everything closing at 7:00 each evening.
This lockdown is really strange. No one really seems to understand what is closed or what is open. About the only thing I know for sure that are closed are dining in restaurants, bars, clothing stores, and electronics stores. However, even the stores, are kind of iffy. I can’t go into InterDiscount (Think a small Best Buy.), but I can call them and tell them what I want. They will let me pay over the phone, and I can go pick it up. Apparently, that is the same thing with clothing stores. I have copied a couple of lines out of one of the newspapers. Read through it, and I think you will see how confusing it really is.
“In order to avoid confusion – or perhaps to add to it – the government has given a list of the types of goods which are considered to be everyday goods or daily needs. These include: food, cooking and eating utensils including cutlery, pharmacy items and cosmetics, cleaning and care products, house plants and flowers, garden items, underwear, clothing for babies, tools and building materials, pet food and animal goods, spare electronic parts like batteries, and newspapers and magazines. “
So when I go into a hardware store. I can buy a new cordless drill, or a board, but I can’t buy a lightbulb. A lightbulb is not considered a spare electronic part nor is it considered a building material. Most grocery stores have a small clothing area. So I can buy a package of underwear, but I can’t buy the shirt that is two feet away. Barbers and Tattoo Parlors are still open; so I can go get a hair cut and have ink put on my arm, but I can’t go to a gym and lift weights (as if I would actually do the latter anyway).
There is a mandatory work from home order “where possible”. So I assume Zürich is a ghost town. All of the office buildings are empty. Schools are still in session, though, and skiing is still allowed. In fact, this past weekend one of the ski towns near St Gallen had to mobilize their police reserves, and call out the fire brigades to help with crowd control. The only good news about the crowds, is there is mandatory mask wearing. The rules are that you have to wear a mask whenever on a chairlift, gondola, or in a queue. These lockdown rules are in place through the end of February. The Government has said the reason they are putting restrictions in place now is concern about the new strains of the virus that have been found. That does kind of make sense to me. I just don’t understand the seemingly haphazard way they are trying to enforce the restrictions.
Speaking of strange rules. For the new year, one of the papers published some of the strangest laws in Switzerland; so I thought I would share them with you.
1) It is illegal to eat dog or cat meat. UNLESS, it is your cat or dog, then you can eat all you want.
2) It is illegal to name your child something that may damage their well being.
3) In Zürich it is illegal to take a picture with a legal sized fish you have caught. You cannot release a legal fish either. You are supposed to take it home and eat it. (The last part of that law makes perfect sense to me. I don’t understand fishing without eating the catch anyway.)
4) It is illegal to wash your car at home, using a hose. The work around at least in my neighborhood is to wash your car with buckets.
5) It is illegal to urinate while standing after 10 PM in an apartment building. Some buildings have rules against flushing the toilet after 10 as well.
6) On Sunday it is illegal to: recycle, mow the lawn, hang out your laundry, hammer, or drill. Basically if it is noisy, or could a visual affront to someone, it is probably illegal to do on Sunday. :).
7) Hiking in the nude is illegal. Apparently, it is legal in Germany.
8) In Aargau, Glarus, Uri, Obwalden, Solothurn, Thurgau and Appenzell Innerrhoden, dancing is banned on certain Christian holidays.
9) Guinea Pigs and Goldfish are not allowed to be kept alone, you must have at least two because they are considered social animals. Nor can they be kept in small enclosures (Which in my mind makes it really hard to have a goldfish as a pet!)
10) It is illegal for a house NOT to have access to a nuclear fall out shelter. ( though I admit, I do not know where my shelter is. I keep waiting for someone to tell me.)
Finally here are the pictures I took this past week. We didn’t go anywhere, or do anything, so not a lot of pictures: