27 Januar. 2021

Well we are half way through week 2 of lockdown. We are long way from the Torrance family, but REDRUM…….. All work and no play makes George a dull boy……. Not sure what has brought on the Shining references, but maybe it is the fact that it is snowing again.

Seriously, though, I think Eowyn has the right idea. I think I am going to have to find a hammock for the house. She alternates between the two round beds depending on what is going on. If someone is sitting in the family room with her, she typically lays in the upper bunk. If she wants to see what is going on outside, she lays in the lower bunk.

Eowyn watching us

I am not sure why I am finding it harder to be cooped up this time versus the previous lockdowns. This is the third time we have be been on restrictions. The first time was almost as year ago. That first time, I was feeling sorry for people. We had just hosted some college students that were studying abroad for a weekend. I was really feeling bad for those kids. who all of a sudden had to cut short their adventure, and return home. Some of them lost credits, all of them lost a lot of money. Also, the first lockdown, there was a little relief that Julie was able to get back home. She had traveled to the US, 48 hours before the US limited travel, and was in the US when Switzerland started the lockdown. We were very fearful, that she wouldn’t be able to get home. I think we handled the first lockdown better because we were naive. I don’t think any of us realized that this was going to go on for over a year, and by some estimates, maybe three or four years, before things are back to a resemblance of normal.

This lockdown is different for a couple of reasons. First is the weather. As I am writing this post, it is snowing AGAIN. I haven’t been on a run for three weeks. I had just started running again after taking December off, when the snows started. I’ve been riding my bike down in the laundry room practically every day, but there is something different about working up a sweat in the basement vs being outside in the fresh air. The second reason is Julie’s job. She is smack in the middle of quarterly SEC filing, and she is on conference calls a good portion of the day. The apartment is big for European standards, but I still have to be very careful to keep the noise down. Even vacuuming the floor, I have to double check that she doesn’t have a call scheduled. I can’t even walk around the house naked, because I don’t want to give her co-workers a shock while she is on a Zoom call. 🙂 (just kidding about the last part; we have too many neighbors and windows to walk around naked.) I think the third and maybe most important reason that this lockdown is different; is the simple fact I am convinced this will not be the last. Apparently the new strains of the COVID virus are not only more contagious, they are apparently more deadly as well, and the kicker they are reporting over here, is that the vaccines may not be as effective against them. Those factors make me think that it will take longer for us to figure out how to live with this new wrinkle.

We do have one big thing coming up this week. I have to go to the US Consulate in Zürich this week. Julie’s passport expires this summer. Not that we expect to be able to use it other than for returning to the US, but if something turns around with the virus, and we are able to travel to other countries again, it needs to be renewed. One of the countries on our travel list is Hungary. The requirement to enter Hungary, is that you have to have more than 6 months left before your passport expires. I’ve never figured that one out. Why would it matter if you had 6 months, or 1 day left on your passport. It should still be a legal document. The renewal process is pretty much the same here as in the US. The difference being, we take it to the consul office, they send it to the embassy, the embassy ships it with other diplomatic mail. The new passport is made, and it is shipped back to Switzerland, before it gets put in the mail system. I am assuming this will be a little faster than mailing it ourselves back to the US, but I really don’t know.

Since we got the car, I have been trying to read up on driving laws in Switzerland. To end today’s blog post I thought I would share some of the strange road signs I have seen here and explain what they mean.

For anyone that has spent any time around a military base, this sign should look a little familiar. This is the sign warning you the military is training nearby so you should expect LOUD noises. When I was at my last post in the Army Reserves, I remember seeing signs like this around Ft McCoy, WI a lot. There was a highway that separated north post and south post. Signs warning us about artillery fire were a common occurance.

This sign, like a lot of the “forbidden”, signs takes a while to digest. This sign says sledding is forbidden. I think what gives me pause about these signs is that in the US, and in other places in Europe you expect to see a line or an X running over the picture as well as the red circle. When I see signs like this one, I used to think it meant that it was encouraging the activity. Thank goodness I learned differently before I started driving.

Similar to the no sledding sign above. This one means no vehicle traffic. You can ride a non electric bicycle, or a scooter, but anything else with wheels is not allowed. These are all over my neighborhood, and before I knew differently, I figured it was just trying to tell the pedestrians to be aware of vehicles. In my town, all of the places are see these signs, the roads look the same as elsewhere, there just are not any sidewalks.

Another common sign in our town. This one says the road is a dead end for vehicles, but pedestrians and bicycles can go through. I was amazed how many dead ends there are like this. It is great for walking, not so much for driving.

In the US, you would typically see a sign like this one on a highway or interstate. The cow would be a deer, and the sign would be yellow. Maybe in the western US, where there is more grazing land, you might see something like this one, but I am not sure. This sign says to be aware of cows on the road.

This last sign is only seen in the mountains. NO, it is not saying there is a Swiss Horn Festival coming up…. This sign is telling you to watch out for busses. On smaller roads in the mountains, the busses are required to honk their horns as they are coming into blind turns. So this sign is alerting you that you are driving on a mountain bus route, and to be aware that you may run into busses on hairpin turns.

I hope this post finds you well and healthy. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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