Well it is hump day in the middle of Palindrome Week. Well, it is Palindrome Week in the USA. I say in the US, because as far as I know US citizens are the only ones that use Month – Day – Year formatting. So every day this week is a palindrome 2-21-22 through 2-27-22. I realize I am a bit of a nerd, because I have kind of enjoyed watching some of the reactions on social media to this. It is like the rest of the world looks for any excuse to tell US citizens that they are “Wrong once again.” Heck most of us probably deserve it. Yesterday, I saw a lot of people on this side of the atlantic embracing the date format as well, because they then kept chiding the americans that they needed to wait until 10:22 PM to make it really special. Those that served time in the military probably get that one. Yesterday at 10:22 PM it would be written out like 2-22-22 22:22. I did read an article though that said in China more people get married on Feb 22 than got married on Valentines Day, because the number 2 in Chinese sounds like the word for love.
About 36 hours from now, I will be able to cross another city off my bucket list. Julie and I should arrive in Venice, Italy about 10:00 AM on Friday. We are kind of excited. Switzerland has basically said the pandemic is at the end, and the rest of Europe is also loosening up some of the covid restrictions. We are hoping that this means we will be able to start doing a lot more long weekend trips to other parts of Europe we have been waiting to see. It is a little strange to think how quickly we can get to places for just a few hundred dollars and a couple of hours. We looked into taking a train to Venice, but there were two downsides. The first was the time. Flying will get us there in about 6 hours from our house to the hotel. The train will take closer to 12 hours. The second was the cost. It was actually more expensive to take the train than it was to fly. There are a lot of discount airlines over here, that actually make flying even a better bargain, but we have learned that those do not often fly on a set enough schedule for a weekend trip. For example. We booked our flight through Swiss air. It is about $150 each way. But there is an airline called Eurowings that offers a round trip ticket for $110. The issue is that it only makes two round trips per week. You can fly on Friday or Tuesday, and those are your choices. So in this case the Friday would work, but Julie did not want to take more than one day off for this trip.
It is kind of ironic that as I am writing this paragraph about traveling that I am also sitting on hold waiting to talk to United Airlines again. I know, I know. United SUCKS!! It really does, but it is the only consistent way to get from Switzerland to Indianapolis. American has a flight, but it is much more expensive. All other methods result in changing airlines, and internationally that causes a lot of issues with baggage. Probably not so much on my May trip, because I do not plan on doing any serious shopping. International flights offer you different baggage allowances, so if I flew Lufthansa to O’hare and then American to Indianapolils I would have to pay for extra baggage that outweighs any price savings. Anyway, United did it again. I like to fly to Chicago, because I do spring for a more expensive seat over the ocean. It then means a shorter flight into Indianapolis, when I am tired and cranky. Well, United changed my flight again from Chicago to New Jersey. Not that big a deal, but I want some money back. It means an extra 90 minutes in a more uncomfortable seat. Wow, as I type that I realize what a first world problem that is! I know they won’t give me anything, but I figure it never hurts to ask. I mean I complained after Christmas, and they gave me $75. That was not acceptable so I complained again, and they boosted it up another $75. At least the combined money paid for our hotel room and most of our dinner that we had to buy.
WOOHOO! I finally talked to someone and they put me back on the Chicago flight and they didn’t even charge me. Apparently the CHI to IND flight was the one that got cancelled. I get into Indianapolis, about an hour later now than flying to Newark, but that sits fine with me. I get a lot less time in the cramped seat, and with an extra hour at O’Hare, I can have an adult beverage or three!!
I have to say, I am confused by how the media is covering the Ukraine situation. To my untrained eye, it seems like Russia has already invaded Ukraine, yet I keep reading that an “Invasion” would be the largest war in Europe since 1939. So is it an invasion or is it not. I think I see what is happening. Russia will take over the eastern areas of Ukraine, just like they did Crimea, and the rest of the world will not do much to stop it. I am not saying that the rest of Europe and the US should send a couple hundred thousand soldiers into Ukraine and kick Russia out. But the sanctions should hurt. Right now, it looks like the primary sanctions are going to hurt the rest of us more than it will hurt Russia. Putting a stop to the gas pipeline is going to drastically raise the cost of fuel for everyone, and it will up putting more money into Russia’s pockets. If Russia can’t sell gas to Germany, they will sell it to China instead. That is not hurting Russia. To me, I would put a freeze on all assets owned by a Russian citizen, or the Russian government. Travel should be shut down, and all trade with the exception of food and medicine should be suspended. Make the invasion hurt in the pocketbook if you are not going to make it hurt militarily.
I have been following some online forums where people are talking about the situation, and it is interesting to be reading how everyone over just laughs about the fact that Switzerland comes out the winner no matter what happens. The feeling is that Russia will wind up doing all their banking through Switzerland, and then be able to deal with the rest of the world through the Swiss bankers. Of course there was a big scandal this week with one of the biggest Swiss Banks, and it is being threatened that Switzerland will be added to the EU list of money laundering countries which would hurt a lot of people here.
Another thing I find very confusing is coming from the conservative talking heads in the US. I did not think it was that long ago, that Russia was looked on as being closer to an enemy than a friend. Now in the US, some of the biggest names on the conservative side of the house are not only taking Putin’s side in this, some are actively saying that it is the US’ fault for Russia invading. This does not make much sense to me. No matter how much we disagreed with our political leaders we would have never supported another country more than our own political leaders. I guess this should not come as a surprise but it does.
I hope the Ukraine situation gets resolved quickly, but I do not hold out a lot of hope.
Last thing before I hang this one up for the week. I guess someone really does not want us traveling again. I just got an email from our hotel that there is a nationwide transportation strike on Friday. It just can’t be easy can it? So now instead of the $10 bus to get from the airport to the city we have to take a $100 taxi. Oh well, we are the ones that wanted to start to travel again, right? Sorry George and Kaylee, that will come from your inheritance fund. 🙂