I realized today that I have not written in a while. I have a hard time simply writing about daily things. I guess the life I lead is simply not very exciting. We do have a lot coming up, though. I will tell you a little about the future later.
The election is “over”. I have that in quotation marks, because there is still a lot up in the air. It seems strange to me that places in the US cannot count ballots within a day or two, but that is the case. As I am writing this no one really knows if the Republicans or Democrats will be in control of the House or the Senate. I think states in the US need to take a lesson from Switzerland. The majority of ballots are done by mail. The Swiss start counting these as soon as they come in. Election Day is a Sunday. So the majority of citizens have the day off. (Side note: I would be a big fan of making election day a Holiday. That includes the primary elections. At a minimum though the general election in November.). Somehow the Swiss always announce the results within an hour or two of the polls closing. I think that is because, again, the majority of the votes have already been captured before election day.
My only political thought, is that I was glad to see the majority of the crazy people lose. I realize that crazy depends on your outlook, but to me crazy are the 2020 election deniers, and others that talk about similar views. I was a little disappointed in my two home states, though. Indiana for electing a guy as Secretary of State that was fired TWO different times by the department he will soon run, AND has been credibly shown to have committed election fraud. Wisconsin, for being the one state that sent someone who actively participated in the Jan 6th attempt to over throw the election.
In other news… Young George is officially an attorney. He passed the bar exam and was sworn in this month to the Indiana Bar, He is currently working as a clerk for Judge Weissmann’s Court in Indianapolis. It was another day that we missed by living here. I am really glad my parent’s are still healthy and able to travel, though, because they have been making it a habit of filling in for us!
I am still trying to recover from COVID. As long as I am not exerting myself I feel fine. It has made riding my bike really difficult, though. I can ride for 90 – 120 minutes without a problem as long as I keep my heart rate under 120 beats per minute. However, if I really try and exert myself I pay for it almost immediately. I went for a ride around Lake Zurich two weekends ago. I told myself I was going to go slow and easy. BUT I got on the street and immediately started riding faster than I should have. I made the first 35 miles in my normal time; so I was feeling good. I stopped for a bit ate and rested, and then got back on the bike. The last 35 miles was a mistake. I should have just taken a train home. The first 35 miles took about 90 minutes. The last 35 miles took double that. I had to stop multiple times and rest. As I was coming up the last hill to the apartment, I had to stop and walk the bike up the hill. I was so “BONKED” that after a shower, I passed out in the hallway. Not once but twice. Julie was just a little concerned. :). Even today. I did 20 miles on our balcony. I rode 15 slowly, and then picked it up the last five miles. That was again my mistake. I didn’t pass out or anything, but I had to sit down and recover for about 30 minutes. Before COVID I never had any of these problems. Hoping that being able to use the trainer this winter will help with the recovery. I just have to remember to NOT push it. I have signed up for the ride I was not able to do this past fall, but honestly, I am not sure it will ever happen.
I learned recently the Swiss government is really serious about the language requirements for accompanying spouses. Some friends were on holiday in Poland, when they got an email from the Gemeinde (Town Hall) asking about the language certificate so they could extend their resident permit. Unfortunately, the company handling their move gave them bad information, and told them they only had to attend a class, not actually pass the test. So the government gave them extension to get the test done. I have spent the last few days working with him and making sure he will do OK. However, it turns out the tests are not as standardized as I thought they were. We did our studying pretending to take the same kind of test I did. Pretty straightforward test. You introduce yourself, and give a little background. Someone would ask you to spell your name, or ask for your phone number. Just simple commands and responses. The second part of the test (that I took) involved flash cards. You would randomly select a card, and you had to make two statements and ask two questions about the object pictured on the card, or the word on the card. For example: The picture might be of an apple. So you would have to say two things about the apple, and ask two questions. The word might be Buch (book). So again two questions about books and two statements.
My friend’s test was completely different. He was shown a picture, and he had to come up with a story about the picture. Then he had to have a “pretend” phone call with the proctor. That test is a lot harder than what I had to do. Asking two simple questions is pretty easy, but coming up with a story is on an entirely different level. If you have ever lived in an area where you are learning a language, you learn to dred the phone ringing. You never know what the discussion is going to be about, and I never knew how much I relied on lip reading, because I can almost never understand the person talking on the phone. I hope he did well on the test, but he is very worried. The other thing about his test, that seems unfair to me, is the proctor told him she gave him things from more advanced language levels.
There are actually 7 levels of language mastery:
A-1: The most basic. Can understand simple sentences is the best way to explain it.
A-2: One level about basic. More complex sentences able to use tense correctly.
B-1: Can understand more complex situations. Able to describe events and give simple explanations
B-2: Can maintain a conversation on regular topics with native speakers without strain on either side.
C-2: Can understand and express a wide range of topics, and can use language in social and academic standards
C-2: Can express themselves spontaneously and fluently even in complex situations
In Switzerland you just have to be at the A-1 level for the basic level residency permit. You do not have to maintain B or C level unless you are looking for a permanent residency or citizenship. However, my friend was given things from the B-2 list. That just doesn’t seem fair to me. I hope he is able to get it worked out, because it would stink to have to go back to your home country and leave your spouse here. I do think the language part would be easier if we lived in a different area of the country. All my friends say the hardest part about trying to learn the language here is that everyone just immediately starts speaking English as soon as we utter a Hello. I think if we lived in the French or Italian areas it might be a little different.
What is coming
Well normally I would getting ready to fly off to WI for a week of Deer Hunting, and then down to Indiana for a few more days of hunting and Thanksgiving with my parents. However, since I have already gone back to the US two times this year I decided to not buy another transatlantic flight. So Julie and I are prepping to visit Christmas Markets.
We leave the day after US Thanksgiving for Prague, Czech Republic. We are going to take a long weekend and explore some of the SIX different Christmas Markets located in the city. That should be a fun weekend. Prague is one of the cities on our “must visit” list. I have to figure out how to get some money though. Even though the Czechia is in the EU they have not adopted the Euro. I certainly do not want to get a lot of cash, though, because then I have to worry about exchanging it back for Euros or Francs. We are very excited about this visit.
We are going to spend another weekend heading back to Colmar France. Colmar is only a couple of hours away, and we have visited a couple of different times, but it is a beautiful little place, and we are excited to visit their markets as well.
Our final Christmas Market trip will be to Innsbruck, Austria. This is going to sound strange, but even though Austria is very close, we have only driven through the country. Innsbruck is another city that has multiple Christmas Markets and I know that Julie will have a wonderful time exploring them.
That takes us up to the week before Christmas. The kids both said they wanted to do a “Christmas in the Alps” while we are here; so this year we will also be staying here for Christmas. George and Gabby (his significant other) fly in on the 23rd. We pick them up at the airport and drive down to Zermatt. Zermatt is the Swiss village closest to the Matterhorn. Kaylee, has a different work schedule, so unfortunately, she is not able to get in until the 24th. She flies into Geneva, and will make her way up to the mountains to join us some time on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. We are then going to spend the next week enjoying our children, skiing, eating, and snowshoeing (assuming Zermatt finally gets some snow). If there is no snow, then we will do a lot of hiking, and exploring the countryside. Unfortunately, Kaylee has to get home right after New Years; so she will be flying back on the 31st to the US. George and Gabby get stay over a little longer. I think they will be coming back to Zurich with us for New Years, but then they are going to visit some friends in Germany. George has a very kind hearted boss, so she is also letting him work from “home” for a week or two, so we will wind up having one child over for about a month!
So that is what we have coming up.
Oh and if you didn’t notice, I changed the name of my website. I finally came to the conclusion that I was not ever going to have anything to do with education while I was over here; so I changed the name to reflect my new occupation! So as I close off for the evening. Thank you to everyone that has followed this for the past three years. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing this.
Talk to you soon.