23 Februar 2022

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!!

UKRAINE

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. 🙂

14 Februar 2022

Happy Valentines Day. I really didn’t think about it being Valentines Day until I was at the grocery this morning. They had one little kiosk set up by the front door with little heart shaped tines of chocolate. No banners, no section of cards. Pretty low key. In fact in one part of the store it looked more like Halloween, because there were two displays of masks and costumes. I am assuming these are for Mardi Gras or Carnival as it is known by on this side of the Atlantic. In fact, Julie and I are all booked for a long weekend in Venice, Italy this month which is known for a Carnival celebration. I am very excited. Anyway, I did at least get something for Julie. I mean how else is a wife supposed to know she is loved if her husband doesn’t buy something because some random date on the calendar says I need to show my love. 🙂

On another note, I did break down this weekend and finally sign up for the Alpenbrevet. This is a bike ride that takes place around the city of Andermatt. There are four different rides to choose from. The shortest is 64 kilometers long and you go up and down two mountain passes. The longest route is 268 kilometers long and you go up and down FIVE passes. (This one is sold out already!) I am more of a wimp. The ride I signed up for is a little over 100 KM long, and it only goes up three passes. The picture below is from near the top of one of the passes.

I will have 12 hours to complete the ride and it will probably take the majority of that time; so I do not think I will be riding in the Tour deFrance anytime soon! I am not worried about the distance part of the ride at all. I can ride 100 KM in under 4 hours so that part will not be bad. I AM worried about the elevation changes. In measurements that I know all my US friends can understand. The ride is only 67 miles long, but in those 67 miles there are over 10,500 feet of climbs. That is a lot of elevation change. The ride is the first weekend of September, so all summer long you will be getting reports of me trying to learn to climb up the mountains on my bike! This is going to make the hills of Southern Indiana, look like Florida!

In other news: There was another election yesterday. There were some interesting things on the ballot, but one of the most interesting was a local referendum question in Basel. The city of Basel was voting on granting “rights” to primates. I am not talking just normal animal rights issues. The vote was to grant human rights to all primates in the canton of Basel. This, I think, would have caused major problems if it had actually passed. The question did not spell out which rights were being granted. Would primates have a right to free travel? A right to an education? A right to marry other primates? No one actually knows, so it is probably a good thing the question went down in flames. 76% of the people voted against this. Just think of the lawsuits. Any person would have been able to sue over basically anything. The zoo has a monkey cage? The monkeys have to be freed. This monkey needs to be given a free public education. This list would be almost endless.

The four national questions were: 1) can Switzerland limit tobacco advertising 2) should ALL animal testing be banned 3) end the “Stamp” tax on large corporations 3) Financial Aid to public media

The first question had 56% of the vote to get rid of almost all tobacco advertisements. This one was fought vigorously by the tobacco companies, and also other large industries. The feeling is that if the country can limit the free speech for tobacco companies what are they going to come after next. I found this to be pretty odd. Most of the world has already determined that limiting tobacco advertisement is a good thing, but Switzerland has resisted this until now.

I was actually kind of surprised the medical testing question did not pass, but it failed with almost 80% of the people voting no. I mean this is the country that says you cannot just own one guinea pig because one guinea pig will be lonely. It is the country that says cats MUST have access to the outside. I mean in a lot of ways, I think Switzerland likes animals more than people. Switzerland would have been the very first country in the world to have a total ban on animal testing.

The stamp tax question was really a bone being thrown to big business. Right now if a “large” company wants to issue stock the government imposes a 1% tax on the capital raised. This is only on sales that generate more than 1 million CHF. So if it had passed it would have only impacted large companies. Over 62% of the people voting said no to this one.

I really did not understand the “media” question until the last couple of days. I thought the bill was to abolish public TV and radio. You know the same argument that happens in the US every election cycle when one party wants to cut Sesame Street and Wisconsin Public radio. However, in Switzerland the “PUBLIC” stations are already taken care of by a direct tax. Every household has to pay about 450 CHF per year to support public TV and radio. This question was should the government provide support for every newspaper, television station, and radio station in the country. The people that brought this bill forward basically have said since social media has changed the way advertising works these businesses are no longer able to make it financially. Therefore, the government should provide help. I have to admit I was torn on this one when I learned what it was about. On one hand I think businesses should either make it or fail on their own. There should not be government assistance. On the flip side. I have seen what has happened to newspapers and other media companies in the US. There really is no longer a local paper in the Fox Valley WI, or in my old hometown in Lawrence County Indiana. The local papers still have the same name, but almost all of the reporters are gone, and all the stories come from the HQ in some distant city. Heck the old paper in Appleton, WI doesn’t even have news stories any more unless they are two days old. This vote was the closest of the four questions. 54% of the people said the government should NOT help out these media companies.

One thing that will be happening soon in regards to media companies does have me ticked off, and it will be causing me to cancel our cable service in the next month or two. The new rule is that cable companies can now charge you for recording shows. Since you can fast forward through the commercials the companies have to make up or that lost revenue. The fee will probably be only 10-20 CHF per month. So basically a hamburger and fries at Burger King, but that puts me over the edge. I am already paying for streaming services, It will mean that I will no longer be able to watch the local news like I do most days, but I only catch about 1/4 of what they say anyway, and I do it to help learn german; so I will just have to start watching more Netflix in German.


That is about it for the day. I hope you have a great week, and will write more soon.





9 Februar 2022

First off Happy Birthday to my kids. Kaylee’s birthday was last week, and George’s is today. I am very proud of both of you!

Secondly, sorry I have not written much lately. We have not had much going on, but hopefully that will be changing soon. Switzerland and most of Europe is starting to loosen up the COVID restrictions. I do not think they will all go away any time soon, but it is going to be much easier to travel again, so we are already making our plans.

I just booked a long weekend in Venice for Carnival! We are also making plans for Greece, Southern France, Belgium and other destinations in Europe; so those things are coming.

Today I have a little bit of a rant. I am sure I do not have the whole story, but the trend is troubling, and to me it is another sign that education as we know it is going away, and that we might as well stop educating teachers and instead start hiring baby sitters.

So this post actually starts in Reddit. For those that may not know. Reddit is a social media site. It is designed for someone to ask a question, and to rely on the crowd to give the answer. Because the type of questions are boundless, Reddit is divided into almost 3 million sections called a sub-reddit. “Am I the Asshole” is one of the 10 most active sub-reddits on the site. The poster lays out their side of a situation, and asks the question “Am I the Asshole?” in the situation.

So this morning, I was browsing through the site, and a parent poses a situation happening in their kid’s school. The science teacher is assigning episodes of “Breaking Bad” to the students, and then having lessons based on the episode. The teacher has sent out permission slips to the parents and the parent in question has refused to sign causing the teacher to change how the class is structured and re do a number of assignments.

The poster says the teacher was assigning entire episodes of Breaking Bad to be watched for homework and then the class will be doing other assignments based on the episode. The posters asks if they are the asshole for not signing the permission slip. The school apparently said there had to be 100% approval or no one could do these lessons.

After almost 20 years in education, the first thing that comes to mind is there might be one teacher, and one school somewhere that is so dumb they are willing to risk the fallout from doing something like that. I have learned in life to never discount the stupidity of people. This same 20 years is also telling the parent does not have the full picture of what the teacher wants to do. I find it difficult to accept that there is a principal that would sign off to let 13 year olds watch entire episodes of Breaking Bad. Sure there are elements of science in the show, but in an hour episode you might have 3 minutes of an actual teachable science lesson, and another 57 minutes of sex and violence. It turns out I am way in the minority. I really do not believe the parent when they say the class will be watching full episodes of this show. If I believed the parent, my thoughts would be different, because there is no way this show is appropriate to be shown in school.

So my post is not so much about this one Reddit entry as it is about the troubling trend I am reading about in American Education. Far to many states are imposing control at the state level on what a school can or cannot teach. It is one thing to have state approved standards. It is another thing entirely for a state to allow a teacher to be fined for teaching against a student’s religious beliefs. I think it is one thing to require a state mandated proficiency test in english or math and something entirely different to say it is illegal for a teacher to discuss something that might make a student uncomfortable or feel bad about themselves.

In Oklahoma a state senator has introduced a bill that would fine teachers $10,000 per incident any time a teacher offered an opposing view to a student’s religious belief. I find this troubling on many different levels. I mean this bill could stop every history, science or health class in the state. The same bill in Oklahoma would require pulling every book from the school library that could be seen as anti-religious. So do you pull every book that talks about Christianity because that could be anti-religious to someone following Hinduism. Do you remove any book that talks about birth control because that could be viewed as anti religious to a Catholic. Where do you draw the line? Whose religion gets to be the one that decides what every other student in Oklahoma gets to learn, and what happens a lesson goes against one student’s belief, but not anothers?

In my old state of Wisconsin, the State Assembly passed a law that says history teachers are no longer allowed to teach about racism. In part because white student’s might feel guilty when the learn how badly minorities have been treated. Can you imagine a US history class not being able to talk about the civil rights movement or not being able to talk about the deals that were made to allow our constitution to be originally approved? In another example, the Assembly passed a law that all schools will be required to teach cursive writing. I don’t know about you, but I do not remember the last time I actually wrote a letter. Heck, since I do not have to sign credit card receipts over here, I think the last time I actually signed my name to a piece of paper was when I had to get my Drivers License renewed last November, and I could have printed my name even then.

The state of Indiana is looking to pass a law that every teacher has to have the entire school years worth of lessons published online by the first of August each year. The same law says that teachers can only teach “facts,” and along with Wisconsin you cannot teach anything that might make a student feel bad about themselves or their race. My biggest question of the Indiana law is which “facts” because if the last two years have taught us anything it is that the word fact does not mean what it used to mean a few years ago. The definition of fact according to Miriam-Webster: Something that truly exists or happens, a true piece of information. I used the believe that we all knew what a fact was. I have learned that a fact is whatever someone believes to be true, not what actually is true. If this becomes law in Indiana, teachers will literally not be able to teach anything because there will always be someone that disagrees.

Education in the US is coming to a very troubling crossroads. Covid-19 made things incredibly hard with having to transition from in person to online learning with little notice. It was just as hard this year, even though most classes are back in person. The virus has made it difficult to find enough substitute teachers for one thing. For another how hard do you think it has been to have any continuity when large percentages of your class might miss a week at a time, due to how fast the virus has traveled through some school districts. I can imagine a teacher trying to teach the same lesson for weeks because so many children have been absent.

We ask our teachers to do an awful lot. We used to expect them to simply teach. Now we expect them to be teacher, counselor (both for school and other issues), nurse, and cheerleader. We want the schools to teach right from wrong, but heaven forbid if it is not OUR version of what is right and wrong. We say we want our schools to treat everyone as equal, but we do not see anything wrong with the fact that students of color are punished more severely than white kids. We want our schools to be inclusive of everyone, but we get up in arms and force our kids to pick sides when a group of students want to start a Gay/Straight Alliance club. We want our kids to be ready for life after High School, but we balk when it costs $50,000 for new welding equipment. On the other side we will spend millions putting astro turf down on the sports fields, or building a new weight room for the .001 percent that actually might play sports after high school.

I wish I knew the answers, if I did I would probably not be sitting at my kitchen table writing this blog. I would be on a US, maybe even Worldwide tour working with school districts, politicians, and parents. What I do know is that every successful school system relies more on local control than on state or federal control. I used to think that most people in the United States believed that as well, but what is happening now seems to show otherwise.

The only answers I do have: Support your local school district. Show up to some meetings and stay informed. Talk to your teachers and learn what they are doing. Everyone likes to talk about what they do for their job, and teachers are no different. Also, call them out when they do dumb things. Make sure what they want to do is being done with best interest of the kids always at the very front. Finally, call your politicians and let them know your views.

28 Januar.2022

Not a whole lot to talk about since I wrote last. I don’t think Julie and I have even gone out to eat. We are fixing that this evening, though. Julie wanted to go to a Japanese restaurant so we will be donning our face masks and taking the train to Enge.

For some reason our internet connection has been causing Julie some headaches with Work From Home (WFH). I don’t know if we have some new neighbors that put a bigger load on the internet, or if once again all the nearby construction is causing the problem. Last week and again this week, Julie would come out of the office saying she lost her connection again. I would look, and sure enough we were getting only about 10 percent of our normal download and upload speeds. Since we have another two months of WFH. I called the internet company to look at upgrading the speeds. We are not eligible for the 10 GB connection (overkill by a huge margin anyway), but if we would have been I probably would have paid for it. Unfortunately there is no fiber run in our immediate area. Anyway, I signed up for the 1 GB connection. Hopefully, we will not have any more issues. The best part, is that it saves us about $60 per month. Granted that is only one trip to Popeyes Chicken, but what the heck it is the first time in this country that I have actually gotten something cheaper!!

The only other thing going on is that I put together a wine rack in our basement. I never thought I would hear myself saying I have a wine cellar, but we all need to change a little in life. I am pretty sure I have talked before about never really liking wine. I got turned off by trying to order wine in a restaurant. You know, you buy a whole bottle at four or five times the cost of buying it in a store., and then the wine tastes bad. You are still stuck with a whole bottle of wine you do not like to drink. So it wasn’t until coming here that I actually started drinking wine. We have found the best way to buy wine is a case at a time. Now remember a case of wine is only 6 bottles. It is not like buying a case of beer. The store we buy from gives us a discount for buying a case at a time, and then about every 6 weeks they run a 20 – 30 % discount on all wines. So when we see the discount we buy multiple cases. This meant every time we wanted a bottle we had to go through multiple cases until we found what we wanted. I was getting tired of that so I started looking at a way to store the wine. I never knew how expensive wine racks could be, but I found one that seemed to be pretty sturdy, and also affordable. The rack came this morning; so after exercising I got to use my tool box to put together the rack.

I found a couple of articles in the news I wanted to talk about before I hang up for today.

Tent on a balcony:

https://www.thelocal.ch/20220127/sleep-under-the-stars-tent-for-rent-on-zurich-apartment-balcony-costs-chf500/

So a woman in Zürich is subletting her balcony for 500 CHF per month. Like in many places rent here is growing out of control. Subletting a room in your apartment is becoming more and more popular. Of course it really boils down to whether or not your landlord will allow it. I do know that occupancy of an apartment is based on size, and from following some online forums here, those rules are enforced pretty strictly. It kind of boils down that a one bedroom apartment can have two people living in it. A two bedroom apartment almost certainly can have three people living there, and depending on the size of the bedrooms maybe four people. I was kind of surprised that the landlord of the building has not made the advertisement be taken down.

The primary renter is allowing shared use of the kitchen, bathroom, and living areas; so basically the person just has to sleep in the tent. That might not be so bad. Goodness knows I have slept in a lot worse places.

From a BSA winter camping trip

The tent in question does come with an insulating mat and mattress, but no heater. I also wonder if that means the person has to keep their clothes in the tent or do they get a wardrobe in the house. The balcony is NOT covered so hopefully the tent is a good one and will not spring a leak, because it rains A LOT here. A part of me really wants to go check it out. I mean just think of the money Julie and I could save by only paying 500 per month!!

Health Insurance

https://www.thelocal.ch/20220128/worrying-swiss-health-insurers-warn-of-significant-price-increases/

I know I have talked many times about health insurance. People in Switzerland complain all the time about how awful health care is here vs other places in Europe. Switzerland does not have single payer or other government run health care. Instead they run the country off of the same system as the Affordable Care Act in the US. I have not had a lot of run ins with the health system, but so far my experiences have been good. My only complaint about the system is that not everyone is eligible for better insurance. Take me. I made the mistake of telling the insurance company that I visited a chiropractor in the US. I am not eligible for anything but the bare bones insurance. Basically, this covers nothing until my deductible is reached, and then I pay 20% up to whatever the limit is. Just like insurance in the US. Now Julie was eligible for an upgrade. Not only does this give her a semi private room if she gets sick, while I get stuck in the barracks ward, she also gets different free checkups. For example, I will have to pay for a colonoscopy when it is time for one. Hers was given at no charge. So there are some differences by insurance.

That being said the article was talking about a possible 5% increase in insurance rates due to Covid. Honestly I am surprised it is not higher. This is a small country. The population does not seem large enough, to me, to truly spread out the costs. The good news for me is that even with a 5% increase we will be still be paying significantly less for health insurance than we paid in the US.

To be fair, it does cost us more for insurance here than back in the US. For three reasons: 1. Here we pay 100% of the cost, where in the US we paid only a portion of the cost 2. We cannot put the kids on our insurance plans here, so we are paying for two extra plans in the US, and 3. Because I am only eligible for the basic plan, I have to buy extra health insurance when I leave the country. I do not buy it every single time we cross a border (though I probably should) but for example I had to pay an extra $400 for my three weeks back in the US this past fall. Especially with the pandemic I was afraid of catching Covid and being hospitalized.

For routine care, I know our medical costs are more expensive here. What I hope to NOT find out is how much more it might cost if something major happens. I think it would be less here, but I am only basing that on this statistic. In the US the average cost for medical care are about $11000 per person. In Switzerland that cost is about $7700 per person. So a pretty hefty difference. Those numbers came from something called the Peter G Peterson Foundation and Investopedia. I do not know how accurate for sure either of those places are, but the numbers were similar on both websites so I figure they are good enough estimates.

Hopefully I will never find out the true costs because Julie and I will stay healthy!


Talk to you next week, with hopefully more going on!

18 Januar.2022

The apartment suddenly got a LOT more quiet this week, even with Julie working from home! Kaylee left for Madison on Saturday, and since both kids are back in the US the apartment just feels empty. It is getting a good cleaning this week, though! It is kind of strange having Julie home again so much. I think I am going to have to get a big whiteboard so that she can write down the days and times of her meetings. I have to work around the meetings so I can do house work.

George and Kaylee


I think I mentioned this in an earlier post this month, but 2022 is giving off such a strange sense of Deja Vu. Last year we were also in the middle of a work from home ruling. However, last year (if I remember correctly) we were in a kind of forced lockdown. Restaurants and bars were closed. The only exception were those in hotels. I remember thinking how stupid it was that you could go skiing and be in a gondola with people; you could go to a hotel and eat in the restaurant or bar, but practically all other entertainment venues were closed. Of course we were all hopeful because the vaccine was being rolled out, and we we naively believed that everyone would get the vaccine and it would be the end to the madness.

Now here we are a year later. By a lot of measurements in a much worse place with the virus, but the only real difference is that no one has any optimism for things to get better any time soon. Enough of the downer talk!

After the trip to Basel last week, we really did not do a lot. Kaylee and I went and visited the Lindt Museum in Kilchberg, but other than that we worked on a puzzle.

This puzzle was a lot more difficult than the previous puzzle. The blue alone took us most of a day. It would have been longer, but Kaylee noticed there were some electrical lines running diagonally across the sky. So we had to examine every single piece, and look for a “hair”. We eventually had to separate all the blue by shape. Then we would try each piece one at a time until we got one to fit. 🙂 Kaylee called it “Puzzling by brute force.”

I did get around to making some videos of our Basel trip.

30 seconds in Basel
Crossing the Rhine

Julie and I had seen some advertisements for something called the LILU Light Festival. This is something the city of Luzern started doing a few years ago. We thought it looked pretty fun; so after seeing off we bought tickets and took the train to Luzern. I wanted to take the train, because I had the thought the festival might have a sort of Christmas Market vibe, and wanted to be able to partake of adult beverages and not have to worry about driving home. Well my thoughts turned out to be WAY OFF THE MARK. It was nothing like a Christmas Market, and there was no booze to be had. Primarily because the crowds were so extensive, that it would have required a multiple hour wait to get anything.

Most of the show was outside but you could buy tickets for the inside light shows. We thought about buying tickets, but once we saw how big the crowds were, the last place we wanted to be was inside a building standing shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers! As it was, Saturday Night is the first time I can remember wearing a mask outside when we were not required to wear one.

The festival was supposed to have these light exhibits set to music. However, at most of the displays you could not hear anything. I am glad we went, but probably will not go back next year.

The rest of the week should be pretty quiet. Hopefully, I can think of something else to write about!

Talk to you soon!

It’s another Covid Christmas!

23 Dezember 2021

We have been back in the US now for about 5 days. We left our house at 7:00 AM on the 18th. By the clock we finally got to Indianapolis at about 10:00PM that same day. By the time we got to the hotel and checked in it was 12:30 on the 19th. So by the clock it was a long day, but if we had no time zones to worry about we would have spent 23 1/2 hours traveling. The extra long day did help with the jet lag, though. We both slept for about 8 hours, and really have not had any problems with jet lag this trip.

Julie and I intentionally stayed in Indianapolis the first night instead of driving another 75 miles to my parent’s house. We were able to spend a couple of hours doing some shopping for things we have hard time finding back home. I love going back home to Mitchell, but when down there your choice is Walmart and JcPenney; so staying in Indianapolis meant I did not have to drive back another time! EDIT: Well my mother informed me that JcPenney is closed; so your choices are Walmart and Lowes. 🙂

One of the most frustrating things, to me, about living during this pandemic, is how fast things change. Back home, in Switzerland, we really were not hearing much about the virus for a few weeks, and then WHAM! We get hit with the news the hospitals are full and the government is looking at implementing new Covid restrictions. As time is passing, the government seems more and more reluctant to put any strict mitigation efforts in place. We were prepared for restaurants to close, and quarantines be imposed for arriving travelers, which meant we would have to drastically change our plans for after Christmas. The restaurants are remaining open ( so far) as long as you are vaccinated, and they actually loosened the entry requirements; so as of now our kids will be returning with us. To enter Switzerland now you do have to be vaccinated; that has been the rule for a few months now. Where it became loosened is that instead of requiring a PCR test you can now come in with one of the rapid tests. I guess why I am saying that is loosening up is that the rapid tests are not as reliable, but they are a lot less expensive. Which kind of makes me happy as we have to pay for 5 people heading back after Christmas. We also have to take an additional test 4 days after returning.

Back in Indiana, we were getting ready to see everyone for the first time in two years, and then my youngest sister called, and she and her family are in quarantine at home, because her son’s best friend caught Covid, and due to contact rules her son has to quarantine for a few days. So it looks like we will not be seeing them this visit. I feel even worse for them, because most of Weston’s gifts are already here in Indiana, and very quickly after Christmas they were also supposed to attend a wedding.

There will be about 25 us still getting together, but we are trying to be safe. We have all been trying to limit our exposure the last two weeks, and another of my sisters has been scouring southern Indiana for at home covid tests; so we will all test ourselves before the big party.

Even though I was just back in the US a few weeks ago, I still am shocked by the almost universal lack of mitigation being enforced. Almost every store has signs up regarding wearing a mask, but maybe 1 out of 10 people is actually wearing a mask, and out of the people wearing masks maybe 50% are actually wearing a mask. My wife’s parents are staying at a hotel that claims they are mitigating for the virus. The website says that only registered guests are allowed in the hotel, it says they are checking for vaccination status, and enforcing mask wearing for anyone not vaccinated. Well, her parents arrived yesterday, so we went down to see them. It turned out that none of the rules the hotel has published are actually being enforced. We parked the car (after passing multiple signs stating that only registered guests are allowed in the hotel), walked right by the guard that was supposed to be checking for hotel guests, and met her father who had been given 5 of the “guest only passes” by someone at the checkin desk. No one ever asked about vaccination status, and no one ever checked the passes. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me that they are not doing the covid mitigation. What does make me angry is that they CLAIM they are doing covid mitigation.

cheese curds

When I was in the US a few weeks ago, I went out of my way to have some cheese curds. Those golden nuggets of goodness were one of the things I have really missed. We went to a restaurant in Bedford, Indiana, that claimed to have “Wisconsin Cheese Curds”; so we just had to try them. It turned out their idea of a cheese curd was to bring out a plate of mozzarella sticks. Needless to say we were sorely disappointed. I tell you this because last night we went to a restaurant in French Lick, Indiana that also claimed to have “Wisconsin Cheese Curds.” The family started chuckling and my son and I were debating if they would also be mozzarella sticks; so experimented and ordered the cheese curds AND the mozzarella sticks. We were pleasantly surprised to learn the Ohana Bar and Grill really did know the difference between the two. If you ever find your self in French Lick, Indiana give the restaurant a try. Great atmosphere combined with cheap prices and good food make a fun meal.

Not much else to report. I will try and write once more before we head back to Switzerland.

I hope you have a great Christmas!

11 Dezember 2021

The word of the week here has been COVID. What about on the other side of the Atlantic? Julie and I keep waiting for more restrictions to come down. Switzerland has blown by all the stop signs the Government said would trigger. the daily case count is higher than it has ever been and hospitals are over flowing. Zürich has been out of ICU beds for two weeks now, and three or four other cantons reached that level in the past week. This week the government announced they were mobilizing the medical units of the Army like they did the very first wave February and March 2020. It seems surreal that back then new cases were only about 1000 per day. Yet I remember one of the headlines that was very close to “Switzerland has the biggest military call up since World War II.” Switzerland’s new case count now is hovering about 10,000, with the highest daily count reaching 19.500.

The Government is meeting this weekend to discuss further steps. Right now to enter Switzerland you have to: 1. be able to show proof of vaccination, 2. have a negative PCR test 72 hours before travel, and 3. have a 2nd negative test taken between day 4 and 7 of your stay. Based on the rumors I am reading the travel restrictions will probably not change unless things get even worse than they are. The two plans the Government has sent to the Cantons are:

Covid is so bad in Switzerland the Knights on the Buildings have to wear masks.

Variant 1: 2G plus mask

The first path tightens the Covid certificate to vaccinated and recovered people, meaning that negative tests no longer qualify for the certificate. 

In effect, this means restricting indoor areas only to the vaccinated and those recovered from the virus. 

Masks must be worn indoors except for when sitting. Bars and restaurants are required to have allocated seating. Food and drink can only be consumed at a person’s seat. 

If the venue cannot operate with allocated seating – for instance clubs, choirs, brass music concerts and rehearsals – then attendees would need to be 2G compliant (vaccinated or recovered) as well as providing a negative test. 

This is known as 2G+. 

Venues like fitness centres and restaurants are able to dispense with mask rules and allocated seating if they require visitors to show a test in addition to their vaccinated and recovered status. 

2nd path: Partial closures

The second path tightens the Covid certificate to vaccinated and recovered people, meaning that negative tests no longer qualify for the certificate. 

Under this path, indoor areas of bars, restaurants, clubs etc would have to close for everyone, i.e. not just the unvaccinated. 

Sporting and cultural activities – i.e. amateur sport – would be restricted to 2G compliant people from age 16 and up. 

Eating and drinking would no longer be allowed at outdoor sporting events. 


I do not see many places willing to adopt the 2nd path. The other thing that neither plan addresses is work from home. I think work from home is going to be part of anything that is eventually tried. I am kind of surprised this is not part of the plans that have been published. In my mind, one of the realities is that unless some restrictions are put on the ski slopes nothing else will matter. Most of the slopes are already open this year and this time of year the ski slopes are where you find the biggest crowds. I have not seen any thing talking about limiting the number of people in gondolas, or wearing masks while in the lift lines. After living here for the last two years the one thing I have learned is that if you want to impact something in Switzerland from Dezember to März it had better impact the ski slopes if it has any hope of working.

Julie and I are taking it easy we do not want to risk catching it now since in 7 days we will be on a plane heading west across the Atlantic!

Swarovski Christmas tree in the Zürich Train Station.

We have left the apartment this week, but not very often. We ran downtown this afternoon. I had not taken any pictures of the tree in the train station (See Above.) That is one of my favorite things about living here. I just love seeing that tree. Julie also needed to head into her office to drop off the Secret Santa gift. She is working from home this coming week; so it was either do it today or be the office grinch! Julie was looking for some chocolate santas and deer like we saw last weekend. Sorry the picture is not that good. We really liked the buck teeth on the deer, but it was Sunday morning and the store was closed.



It has snowed almost every day this week, but you can barely tell it down at our level, but the the hills surrounding Zürich are snow covered, and the Alps are almost completely white again.

Uetliberg

The 12th is supposed to be clear so we are going to try the Rapperswil Christmas market again. Last weekend it was rainy and windy we would like to go when the weather is nice!

We have our appointments made for Covid testing before we head home, and other than a couple of trips to the grocery store we probably will not leave the apartment next week! I have a lot of cleaning to do this week since we hopefully have three visitors flying back after Christmas.

My last thought before closing out tonight, is what the heck happened to Indiana in Wisconsin? I mean the last time IU won in Wisconsin our oldest was only 1 year old. I do not what happens to the IU BB team when they get to Badger Land, but somehow the team seems to lose itself. Even worse is getting a 22 point lead and blowing it. The only thing that makes me feel a LITTLE BIT good is knowing IU still holds the series lead by over 20 games. How bad was Wisconsin in the past? Hopefully something exciting
will happen this week so I actually have something to write about before we head to the US for Christmas!

Talk to you soon.

4 Dezember 2021

Well it has been a fairly quiet week after returning to Switzerland. It was a pretty easy transition back into “Hausmann Tasks.”

It is very easy to tell that winter has returned to Switzerland. It is dark by 1630 every afternoon, and we have seen the sun exactly one time this week. We got a little snow on Monday and Tuesday, but not enough to actually stick on the ground for longer than a couple of hours. Julie and I are still trying to enjoy the season. We went to the Zürich Christmas Markets on Thursday. It was pretty awful weather, but the markets are always fun.

Zürich actually has three larger markets. There is one in the train station, the Neiderdorf Area, and at the Opera House. The markets are all different. The market in the train station is focused on buying traditional Christmas goods. The market in Neiderdorf seems more focused on foreign goods. The market at the Opera House is more of a food and drink venue. Julie had heard the market in Rapperswil is actually better than the Zürich markets so we hopped on a train and rode to the other end of the lake.

Unfortunately by the time we got to Rapperswil the weather had worsened. The rain was really coming down, and the wind had picked up so bad we watched multiple umbrellas turn inside out. We did find the nicest sales people at a stand, though. We had just started walking through the market, and Julie found a place selling wool chair mats, and other products. Julie wanted me to get a new pair of house slippers, and we can never remember our sizes over here; so the nice young lady brought out plastic sheets and paper bags; so I could stand on something dry and try on some slippers. Needless to say, Julie wound up buying multiple things, and has even said she is heading back next Thursday for more. I guess that counts as a win/win????!!!

I was going to be writing this in Prague. Prague has a Christmas Market that is on Julie’s must see list. Instead (I will talk more on this later.), we are in Basel for the weekend. I learned yesterday, that I forgot something back in the US. I mentioned earlier that we have seen the sun once this week. Well that was yesterday. As we were getting ready to leave I realized I would want my sunglasses. However, when I opened the case and saw nothing but air looking back, I realized the sunglasses are sitting in an F-150 back in Mitchell, Indiana. Oh well, hopefully I can return in two weeks and get them! This leads me to my next thought. Are we ever going to get over Covid?

We are now approaching the end of year two in dealing with this virus. The US appears to have gotten their Delta wave this summer. Europe is getting it now. Throw in Omicron, and we appear to be looking at another COVID Christmas. One of the biggest problems is that travel restrictions seem to come and go with a moments notice. When I arrived on Monday, we were still good for trip to Prague. By Wednesday, the trip was called off, because there was a mandatory 10 day quarantine upon returning. Even for people fully vaccinated. By Friday, the quarantine part had been lifted, because Switzerland’s status was just as bad as the Czech Republic’s. Now we have a very heavy testing protocol in place with any foreign travel. For example on our trip to the US for Christmas we have to take a PCR test 24 hours before the plane departs. We then have to take another PCR test 72 hours before we come back to Switzerland. After we come back, we have to wait 4 days to get another PCR test. I do not know how much these tests cost in the US, but here they are about $160 per test. So we are looking at about another $100 for the two of us for the trip. The way we read the law, this is now true for any international travel. We were thinking of going to Strasbourg, France next weekend, but that trip is probably out as well.

The worst part about the Christmas Trip, is that we were bringing the kids back with us. The travel situation is so tenuous right now, that we will probably wind up canceling the return visit for the kids. Julie and I are both surprised Switzerland has not already imposed more lockdowns. The Government said all along that as long as the situation remained stable they would not make any further moves, but in the last two weeks the number of people in hospital has skyrocketed. Zürich has filled up their ICU beds with COVID patients, and a news article I saw yesterday said they are unable to transfer patients to another canton. One other move the Government is making actually kind of pisses me off. Not because it is not the right thing to do, but because it rewards people that should not be rewarded. The announcement this week is that work from home is recommended, but may be made mandatory for the unvaccinated. I guess I still have much US in me. If your company requires you to be at work, and you choose to not be vaccinated to work from home, the company should immediately be able to terminate your employment. That will never happen here. At this point I am ready to throw up my hands in the air and say “F*** IT!” There are far too many people not willing to be vaccinated, and few countries will require the vaccination; so we will be dealing with this for the foreseeable future. We might as will just lift all the precautions and let life go. A lot more people will die, but at least that helps the over population problem right? I am writing this from a hotel in Basel. Julie and I decided to come visit the Basel Christmas Market instead of staying home; so obviously we are not that worried about catching Covid.


I do think many of the restrictions make sense. I support requiring the Covid certificates before going out to eat or going to any entertainment venue. In my mind, this should encourage people to take the one step the experts all agree would eventually mean we can stop being concerned about Covid. Julie and I are also on the waiting list for the booster shot. We should be able to get it right before we return to the US for Christmas.


Basel is a very nice city. Like most larger Swiss cities a good mix between the modern and the old. The two live successfully right next to each other. This is our second visit here. We came here for lunch one day when George was visiting this summer. We walked along the river side and toured the Cathedral. The weather was excellent yesterday; so we checked into the hotel and visited the Christmas Market. Julie claims this one has been her favorite in Switzerland. I think she said this, because it has been the first time this year, she could add to her Christmas Market/Gluwein cup collection. It is a great setting. You enter the market through a small alley, and it opens up to a drink and food court. All nestled along the base of an old church. You follow the alley along the walls, and it opens up into a really nice plaza where the majority of the market is located.

It turned out the “church” is now the Basel Museum. It is a fascinating museum with a great mix between the history of the church, history of Basel, and other exhibits. It is highly recommended if you are ever in the area. Julie and I commented multiple times, that our kids would love this place. Outside of the Swiss National Landesmuseum, this one is my new favorite. (Sorry Bern.) We topped off our Friday with dinner at an Irish Pub. We had a little problem with our food order, but the pub had live music; so we still had an amazing evening.

Unfortunately, the rain came back on Saturday. We were able to go strolling through town for about a couple of hours before the heavens opened up, but it has rained pretty heavily all day; so we relaxed in the hotel room.

I am thinking a lot today about many of my friends in Memphis, TN this weekend. This is the third year we have had to support the Barlow Family and Team David from afar. Julie and I both really miss being there. I know everyone is always asking for money this time of year, but if you have a spare dime there is no better place to support than St Jude Hospital. I am attaching the link to the Team David page please donate if you are able.

St JUDE HOSPITAL DONATION LINK

Also before I get to some of the pictures from our weekend, I would ask you to keep another High School friend in your thoughts and prayers. Brian Grow and his wife Misty just found out one of their grand children was diagnosed with leukemia. Stay strong Archer, you can beat this!

11 November 2021

This will be my last post from Switzerland for a couple of weeks. In 4 days I will be heading back to the US. I am going to spend some time in Wisconsin and then head back to Indiana to spend Thanksgiving with my parents. I will probably write at least once per week, because I am sure I will have some amusing stories to relate.

There is probably a 99.9% certainty that something will not go right with the Wisconsin DMV. I mean what can go wrong while trying to get an ID that has an address on it, but the only address you have is in another country? I have already talked to someone in Madison, but just because that person understands my problem is no guarantee that someone in Appleton will. If I had not talked to other people, in my shoes, that let the license expire to learn the headaches I would just let it expire. That being said, I do not want to retake all the tests when we eventually move back. I am not so much worried about getting the ID. I am not getting the Real ID (where you have to show proof of citizenship as well as residency.). I figure when we move back I can worry about the Real ID. What I figure will cause problems will be asking the person to have the ID mailed to a different address than is on the ID. According to the person I spoke with, I have to keep my old address on the license, because that is the ID I have to provide to keep my voting eligibility. Yet since we moved so long ago, the Post Office will no longer forward any mail. So I have to use my daughter’s address as the mailing address.

One thing that still has me ticked off about Switzerland is the health insurance situation. I have talked before about how Switzerland runs the whole country on the same system as Obamacare. It works, and overall health care is very good here. What has me angry is that when we moved here two years ago. I was given the “basic” insurance that every company is required to provide. This is OK as long as I am in here, but it does not cover a thing if we travel to another country. I do not worry about for short trips, but spending two weeks in the US scares me a little in case of an accident. I think I do need some coverage. Anyway, I just bought a policy that covers up to $1million in expenses. Max I could be on the hook for is $20,000. So pretty similar to the long term policies in the US. The cost is about $80 for two weeks. At first I thought this was expensive, but then I started thinking about how much money was taken out of my paycheck every week and how much my old school district had to pay. I realized that $80 is a heck of a deal. There is still much confusion on my part why my insurance company would not let me upgrade to a policy that would cover me in other countries. Julie was eligible for that one right away. The price increase would have been $150 per month. Based on my track record with doctors here, that would have been a good deal for the insurance company. Anyway, it is all bought and I am ready to head back to the US next week.

For those of you that get our Christmas cards, do not be alarmed that they have a US stamp on them, and are mailed from Indiana. I spent this week getting the cards ready. If I were mailing them from here it should have been done about a month ago. The mail is so inconsistent with the US. Sometimes letters take 6 days. Other times they take 6 weeks. The other reason for doing them now, is that it costs about $2 to mail something to the US from here, but I have a bunch of 40 or 45 cent forever stamps. So I have them all addressed and stamped so I can drop off and save about $100 on postage. Even with the increased postage, here, it is not enough to keep the Swiss Post in the black. There are talks about limiting service just like the talks that have been going on for decades in the US. I am not sure what the cost of postage really needs to be, but it is not high enough to keep the system running.

Below I am reposting the videos that were made in Murten. I learned that I should never update this thing on a weekend, because absolutely no one goes back and reads it. I do not get a lot of visits on my blog but I enjoy the writing, and it gives me something to do. On a normal day about 15 people visit my site. On a day that I post something that usually goes up to 30 – 40. Again, not a very big reach! 🙂 That being said when I posted these videos on Saturday only three people visited the site! So if you are interested to see a little more of Murten, please click on the videos below.

I hope you have a great rest of your week, and the next time we talk I will be back in the USA! Hopefully with some good stories to tell!

18 Oktober, 2021

Today’s post has probably been written 20,000 times by 20,000 different people. It is something that practically every person over the age of 25 has experienced at least once but more likely multiple times. I wish I could tell you I have pictures of the beautiful hike Julie and I took this past weekend or inviting prose about the wine tasting we went to Saturday evening. There will be only one slightly entertaining section of how bad my language skills are. This is a story that could (and did to one extent or another) happen to me back in the US. I guess to relate it to being an Expat it is simply proof that somethings never change. No matter the country, the culture, or the time.

So my story starts a couple of weeks ago. The last post I made I told you about the cable TV problem we were having. I ended the story with a new cable box coming out. Well unlike the US, the package arrived exactly when it was promised. I got the new box installed, and was very happy to see that there were new features with the new box, that were not part of the old one. For example, during setup the cable box immediately recognized what television was hooked up. The set up process asked if I wanted to tie the TV and speaker system into the remote. This of course was a HUGE plus, to be able to put two of the remotes in a drawer made me happy. The menu looked different, and I was even able to set up different captions; so that on some channels I could listen to the TV in German, but have English sub-titles. I figured this would help me learn. So I was really happy until 7:12 the next morning.

If you remember, the old cable box rebooted every morning at 7:10. I was watching the BBC for my morning news, when… the whole thing rebooted. I was slightly peeved, but wound up greatly relieved when it only rebooted once. Sunday morning, it rebooted four times, and this morning it rebooted again three times. So since I already had to give up my morning run. I decided to call UPC and try and work through customer service. I called at 9:30. Next comes the obligatory bad language skills part of my story.

I started the call speaking German. I got through the whole address, customer number, even was able to talk about the box rebooting. I did have to look up to learn the german word for reboot was Neustart. (Side note: another example of how the german language really makes a lot of sense. The word describes exactly what happens.) I even remembered that neustart would be a split verb so The UPC box reboots every morning becomes Die UPC box startet jeden Morgen gegen 7:00 Uhr neu. I was feeling pretty good. I did explain to the technician that I only spoke a little german. He was fantastic with me, and easily slipped back and forth between german and english flawlessly. I was also very appreciative of the fact that once he realized I was trying to talk in german he really slowed down, and was very helpful. I also appreciated that before he handed me off to the next person, he asked if I wanted a german or english speaker. This unfortunately was the end of the good parts to my story.

He put me on hold to wait for the next technician. I was on hold for 45 minutes, when the call disconnected. I went downstairs put the laundry in the dryer, and called again. The next person very quickly transferred me to the next level…. Unfortunately, I spent the next 3 HOURS on hold. I admit I wasted about 30 minutes sitting doing nothing. Finally I started doing something else. I mixed a loaf of bread, swept the floors, sharpened all the kitchen knives, got a load of laundry put away, and completed most of my daily housework all while listening to the awful hold music. After three hours on hold the call disconnected. I will call back again tomorrow. If I have another 3 hour wait; then I will be calling Swisscom.

I am a very loyal consumer. The first mobile phone I bought through Verizon, and I still have the kid’s cell phone plans through Verizon. In the past I have switched between cable TV and satellite a couple of different times, for service related issues not simply to save a dollar. The first time I switched to satellite because the cable company was not going to carry the Big Ten Network, and I really needed my Indiana Basketball fix. Ten years later I switched back to cable, because Direct TV had just released their new DVR and whole house system. I wanted to upgrade, but since they were giving systems away for nothing to new customers, I was unwilling to pay full price to upgrade. (What really ticked me off about that is the day AFTER the cable company had installed the new equipment Direct TV called and said they give me the new customer deal!) I have stayed with USAA for over 30 years. I switched once to save some money in 1989 and in 1990 was back to USAA.

One bad experience outweighs a lot of really good ones. UPC has been good. We have only had one cable outage in two years, and no internet outages. When Julie was working from home, we had a lot of wifi problems, but UPC helped us diagnose and solve the problem. They sent out new and extra equipment to make sure Julie was able to function from home during the pandemic. The service people have been extremely nice. So why am I considering changing companies?

It was simply the three hours of being forgotten. If they would simply have a live person come on every once in a while and let me know they were still around. Even some kind of timer that would say ,”There are 3500 people ahead of you. The wait will be 2 days and 21 hours.” Even better would be an automated system that says, :”We apologize for the wait . We have your contact information, Press 1 and we will have an agent call you when they are available.” It truly does not take that much to let the customer know you care about their time as well. This is going to sound petty, but I was not even able to get my laundry done today, because if I had gone to the basement the call would have dropped and I would start all over again. I also could not leave the phone upstairs, because if they had answered I still would have to start all over again. The bottom line for me is: DO NOT WASTE MY TIME.

Hopefully I have not wasted your time today. I hope you had a smile or two.

I have finally crossed the Swiss threshold for scheduling things. I had emailed one of the couples that we do things with, and was trying to find an evening to get together. We realized that weekends for the next three months are already booked. They have friends visiting from the US the next two weeks, then I am back in the US for deer hunting. When I get back we are spending the next two weekends in France and Czechoslovakia, then Christmas ( we are headed to the US, and I believe they have family coming here ), and then our kids will be here for a few weeks in January. I never realized how busy we are. Getting back to our friends; we agreed to have dinner on Wednesday. 🙂

I will end with something I learned about Switzerland just today. When you die in Switzerland, you rent your grave site for a term of 20 or 25 years. At the end of the time surviving family is given the tombstone if they want it, your remains are then dug up and disposed of. Most are simply incinerated. In most cases though there is not much left. The Swiss do not use vaults like in the US, and I am pretty sure the bodies are not embalmed like in the US. The caskets are simple wood boxes. With the amount of moisture and no preservation there is usually not much left after the 20 years. The exceptions to this are if you are from a really wealthy family that has purchased a large plot or if you are famous. If you are wealthy, the bodies are not moved, they stay in the family area. If you are famous. The remains might be disposed of, but the gravestone is kept in a place of honor in the cemetery. I hope that last thought was not to morbid for you.

Talk to you soon.