25 April 2021

It has been another quiet week in R├╝schlikon. Julie is trying to finish up Amcor’s quarterly finance reports; so she has been working long hours. The reports have to be turned in for approval this week, so then she gets a bit of a breather. She did go into the office for two days last week; so that seemed like a life altering change. I think I finally convinced her to upgrade her train pass to fist class. In some ways this seems silly. I mean you are talking a local commuter train. It isn’t like she is sitting on the train for hours to and from work. However, I see a couple of advantages. The first being the first class coaches are never full. She will always be able to get a seat. That also means that as long as we are still under the throngs of COVID, she is not going to be shoulder to shoulder with other people. Many of these people “follow” the mask requirements to the letter. By that I mean, just like on an airplane, you do not have to wear your mask while eating or drinking; so many of the riders choose to have a bottle of water or beer with them the entire ride. Honestly, I think the bottles are empty, because I almost never see anyone drinking from them, but simply holding them in your hands, the police will never make you put a mask on.

We did eat dinner in a restaurant for the first time in many months. We were trying to think when the last time was, and we think it was before Christmas. We were sure Switzerland was going to go back in lockdown before the Holiday. It turns out we were a few weeks early in our prediction. We did have a really nice conversation with the owner. He was describing how hard it was to stay in business. Before the lockdowns he was describing about 30 – 40 on an average evening. Now he is lucky to do 10 diners per night. The rules changed about a week ago where restaurants could serve people outside, but his outside dining area is very limited. Even worse, is that it is supposed to rain pretty much every day next week. Two restaurants that we visit occasionally have shut down. I am surprised more have not gone under.

Those of you that lived somewhere that speaks a different language than your mother tongue can relate with this. Speaking on the telephone is one of the most anxiety producing activities when you live overseas. When you are not fluent in the language it is hard enough getting by in face to face conversations. I don’t know what it is, but the conservation through the speaker of a phone leaves me almost completely clueless. I called the restaurant to make a reservation. I got through setting up the day and time, and then it happened. He asked a question, and I could not understand a word he said. How many in German is Wie viele. (It sounds like Vee Feela). I can normally hear those words, so I know the answer. This time all I heard was gibberish. so after making him repeat the question three times, I finally just asked him to speak English; so we could finish up the reservation. He had a good laugh with me while we were eating; so that is good! I know I am getting better at speaking, but it is still hard.

Yesterday also started our spring cleaning. We mopped and scrubbed the balconies. I realized after I was almost done, that I had made a huge mistake. Sometime in May the pollen is coming back. Last year it was almost like we lived in a pine forest. There was a thick covering of bright yellow pollen over everything; so I will wind up scrubbing them again very soon. The second patio in the house, will soon become my bike riding patio. It has gotten warm enough, that I can bring my bike up out of the basement. Riding on the balcony is only slightly better than riding in the basement, but both options beat the heck out of riding or running in the rain. I did break down last week and do something kind of silly. I bought a 2nd rear wheel for my road bike. It is such a pain switching out the road tire for the trainer tire each time I go from a real ride to the trainer that I decided to spend some of our travel budget that isn’t being used and make it easy on me. ­čÖé

In older posts I have talked about the health care / insurance system over here. Basically, the country runs on the same principal as the Affordable Health Care Act in the US. Everyone here is required to buy insurance, but the government will help you if you cannot afford to pay. I have learned that the insurance companies are not very responsive. When we moved, I made the mistake of telling the insurance company that I had visited a chiropractor within the last few years. With this bad mark on my record, I was only able to get the basic insurance. This is the level that every company is required by law to offer. The insurance itself wasn’t that bad. It has a 2500CHF deductible, and then it is an 80/20 split up to 15000 CHF per year. Since I am pretty healthy, and rarely go see a Dr. I could live with it. The only real problem is that it did not cover anything else. No dental coverage. No eye coverage. Nor does it offer coverage outside of Switzerland. So the two times I have gone back to the US I took out temporary health insurance. This is VERY expensive, but if I got into an accident, it was much better than having no insurance.

In November, I wrote the company requesting a quote for a step up in the Insurance. I figured I had been here a year with no claims maybe they would give me the upgrade. It took them 6 weeks to get back with a quote. So in January I turned in the request, and asked that go into effect on 1 March. So here we are at the end of April, and I have just submitted my third request to see if it was approved. The thing that irritates me, is that the only upgrade I have asked for is to be covered when I leave Switzerland. Everything else would remain the same. Assuming that my health stays the same, the company is going to make a lot more money off me. The upgrade costs 150 CHF per month; with one Dr Visit a year that costs almost nothing. You would think they would jump at this. For me, it even costs me more money, but assuming we can travel outside of Switzerland this year, I do not want to have to go through the headache of remembering to buy short term insurance every time we cross a border.

Since Sunday is truly a day of rest. Julie and I enjoyed the sunshine and took a long hike over the hill. The Sihl River runs through the valley on the other side of the hill. There is a wonderful hiking/biking trail that goes along the river, so we hiked along watching the fish, and other wildlife. I really need to go buy a fly fishing rod. Hey Rick Tardy. Come visit, bring your poles, and teach me to fly fish! The highlight of the hike was watching the mallard mating dances that were happening. Unfortunately, I was so engrossed watching, that I forgot to pull out my camera and make some video. I have to admit, these relaxing Sundays are one of my favorite things about living here.

This is one of the months that it is hardest being away from the kids. Finals week is approaching fast; and if nothing else it is easier to call and check on the kids when you are within a time zone or two. :). George’s finals start tomorrow. I wonder if year 2 finals are harder than year 1 for law school. Kaylee has a week of midterms, then the MCAT, and then her finals start. I think I would rather be George at this point. ­čÖé So if you would, please keep both of my children in your thoughts, they have a couple of hard weeks ahead. Oh and Happy Birthday Gabby! Julie and I hope you are having a wonderful weekend with your parents.


Well, that is about all for this week. I have the Prosecco chilled, so I think it is time to make up some Aperol Spritzes and sit on the balcony watching the sailboats on Z├╝richsee.

Until next time.



26 Februar 2021

I had a very painful lesson about my limited language skills yesterday. I went for a Haarschnitt ( I love that word, it sounds like exactly what it is). My regular barber was booked solid, so I got the 2nd chair. I think this is a training thing, because it is always a different young man every time I go in. So as he was finishing off the hair cut, he said something but the only words I really understood were wachs oder lotion (wax or lotion). I thought he was talking about putting something in my hair, so I answered wax, because that is what they always use. The next thing I know there is green goop all over my ears. I realized a little late what he was talking about. So needless to say I got the first wax treatment in my life. Thank goodness it was above the belt!! Continuing on with the language thread.

One thing that I believe sets Switzerland apart from most countries is the number of official languages the country has. You have to remember that there are only about 8.5 million people in the entire country, and size wise… Well you could put 4 Switzerlands inside Wisconsin (Switzerland is a little over 41,000 KM sq and Wisconsin is almost 170,000 KM sq). So in this really small country there are four official languages. I know I have talked about this before, but for those just tuning in…. The four languages are German, French, Italian, and Romansh. If you really want to get technical, there are even more languages, because each of the German speaking cantons have their own dialect of German, but this post is going to be about Romansh.

Romansh is really only spoken in one canton, Graub├╝nden. Graub├╝nden is in the eastern portion of Switzerland. The two two cities that people know about are Davos and St Moritz. Only about 60,000 people speak the language. The public schools in the Canton use Romansh until 6th grade. After that all instruction is in German. Even though, Romansh is the official language of the canton the students need to learn German so they are employable after school. Romansh is similar to Italian.

Because Romansh is an official language, it means the government must ensure that all communication is made available in the language. Can you imagine the US mandating all documents be printed in a language that less than 1% of the population speaks or reads? It gets even stranger. There are four major dialects in Romansh. The canton is responsible for publishing each school book in the four dialects. When the cantons became responsible for education, Graub├╝nden tried to only print the books in the most popular dialect, but the other citizens made such a fuss that the canton had to eventually give in. About a hundred years ago, the language almost died out because so many german speakers moved into the area. In the early 1900’s the push was made to save the language. It was officially recognized by Switzerland in the 1930’s, but did not become one of the national languages until the 1990’s.

I found this list of words and phrases online; so I am blantantly copying and pasting them. As you read through the list notice the familiarity with some Italian words that you may know, but also French and Portugese.

allegra hello. buna notg good night. bain finebun di good morning

buna saira good evening buna notg good night a pli tard see you

latera revair good bye grazia thanks. perstgisai! excuse me!

bun viadi have a good trip. Tge bel di! What a beautiful day!