What happened this week? Well….. I went to the dentist for the third week in a row. Julie has a wrist that will not stop hurting, and road repair season has started near our apartment.
In regards to the road repair, I think we will be living with this one all winter long. According to our landlord, and a letter from the town, the town is replacing all the sewer lines. Back when the lines were installed there was no thought of separating storm water from “black water”. So there was one big pipe run, and that handled everything. Unfortunately, as many communities have learned YES, MILWAUKEE, WI I am talking about you. That can be a big problem with a lot of raw sewage being released. Thank goodness they have not had that problem here, but the increase in rain the last few years has the town worried about the future. They are digging up all the sewer lines, and then installing separate runs for the two systems. I am being hopeful that there will be no emergencies on this block for the next few months, because access via the street is going to be very limited the next few months. Between the construction on houses and the street there will be many times that you will not be able to get to our apartment by car.
We got another good lesson this week on how the Swiss government handles immigration. One thing that does make immigration management easier is that thousands of people are not lined up at the border to get here. The federal government sets the rules, and sets the quotas on who can come in. The canton (state) government is responsible for approving immigration, ensuring the quotas are kept, and they run the verification systems. The local government is responsible for monitoring where everyone is living. We got another example of how efficient this system is just a few days ago.
If you remember from a couple of months ago, Julie had to have her passport renewed. I was so impressed with how quickly the US government replaced her passport. On Tuesday, Julie got a letter from the town. The letter was reminding her that the passport was set to expire in November, and prompting her to get it renewed if she had not done so. They also requested that she make a copy of the passport and get it to the town hall.
Efficient, may not be the correct word, but it is what comes to mind. One drawback to this system, is that some cantons interpret the rules differently, and once a decision is made there does not seem to be a means of appeal. I was reading an online post from someone in my shoes. This person is a non-eu citizen, and is here with a spouse. Like me, this person is wanting to work, but unlike me the canton they live did not grant him/her a work permit. Unfortunately, she cannot appeal the decision. There could be more to the story. For example, I had to prove that I met the requirements for a “highly skilled” individual. (No jokes from the gallery on that one.) Meeting that requirement involved my resume and college transcripts. I wonder if this move had happened 20 years ago, when I was just getting out of college with my MIS degree. I am sure there is not much demand for immigrant retail managers here, and would just having a degree but no experience be enough to consider me highly skilled? Of course the kids would have been little then; so I probably would have still had to be the Hausmann. It is hard to work, when the kids come home for an hour or two every day for lunch.
In other Swiss news….. There was a referendum over gay marriage last week. It passed with about 65% of the vote. This is not going to be like the US where the day the courts ruled marriage constitutional people started queuing up. According to some of the reports I have seen, it might be a year or more before same sex marriage is fully in place. Same sex couples are seen by the law as equal in almost all ways. The two big things that will change are: 1) partners can jointly adopt now where before only one “parent” could legally adopt. 2) lesbian couples can now seek medical help having a baby. Not sure how that last one was ever enforced, because a single woman could get fertility treatments, but not a lesbian? I guess that goes to show that laws designed to discriminate do not ever have to make sense. This was another one of the political questions that was very interesting to follow. A lot of people were making the arguments that individual cantons should be able to decide this. In some ways when I hear political arguments here, I feel like back in the US!
I just made reservations for two Christmas Market trips this year. I do not think Julie is very happy with me. Because of deer hunting in WI, I will be missing two weekends of Christmas Market time. We are going to visit Strasbourg, France and Prague, Czechoslovakia. So she will just have to get enough Christmas from those two cities, and I am assuming Zürich will have their markets again; because we really enjoy going downtown and listening to the singing Christmas Tree! Strasbourg is about a three hour drive, but we are flying to Prague. One benefit of Europe is that airline tickets are pretty inexpensive. It is about an 8 hour drive to Prague, which is pretty closed to the breakeven for driving vs flying. The trip by air, should take about 5 hours, but with delays……. Taking a train is not going to work, because with the transfers, the train is a 14 hour trip. The round trip cost is cheaper by train, but when I look at the time difference; that eats up any of the savings to me.
I also know winter is coming, because I have an appointment to put on my snow tires next week. Also because on an English Forum I follow, the annual winter vs summer tire debate started up again this week. I do not know why this amuses me, but it really does. Before I moved to Switzerland I spent 30 years in either Minnesota or Wisconsin. Not once in those 30 years did I ever own snow tires, and there is a lot more snow there than here in Zürich. I concede the fact that snow tires are better than year around tires, but I also think that when people get in accidents in the winter, it is not because of the tire it is because they forgot that you have to slow down when driving on snow and ice. I am thankful that Julie’s company provides a place to get the tires changed and they store the tires as well. When I got online to book my appointment, I was able to book a VIP appointment, and get quickly. If I had to wait for the normal appointment I would not be able to get the car in until November. I also got an alert on my phone that some of the mountain passes have already implemented their winter tire rule, and online I saw that some of the auto passes will be closing for the winter in the next week or two. I wonder if I will actually need my “WINTER”coat this year. I have only worn it once in two years, and I did not need it even then.
I hope you have a good weekend. Talk to you next week.