I don’t think I am exaggerating very much when I say we have some sort of precipitation practically every day for the last three weeks. Early on, we were getting snow. We got almost a foot of snow in one storm, and then we would alternate rain and snow. For the past seven or eight days it has just been rain. Everytime I read a local paper or watch a local newscast, I am expecting to see talk of flooding. So far I have not heard of any. Which honestly has surprised me A LOT. I do not think the lake level has changed more than inch or two, but with all the rain I would think that every home along the lake shore would be underwater by now. It looks like we may get a break on Thursday and Friday of this week, but then the next 10 days are predicted to be wet.
About a year ago I tried to explain a little about the health care systems here. In a nutshell the Swiss developed Obamacare, but it is Obamacare on a grand scale. Everyone is required to have insurance, if your income level is low, the Government will help, but it is not nationalized health care like most of Europe. Everyone over here complains a lot about the cost, but we are paying less for health care here than we did in the US. Even though now we are paying for three different health care plans (one for Julie and I, and each kid has their own plan). we are still paying less than what the school’s portion and my portion were two years ago. I bring this up, because I finally have the chance to upgrade my health care plan.
When I got here, I was forced to take the very basic care plan. This didn’t impact co-pays, and deductibles, but it did mean if I got sick, I would be in a barracks style hospital room, and it also meant that I was only covered while in Switzerland. The two times I have been back in the US, I paid for extra insurance plans to cover me there. That was VERY expensive, but if I had caught COVID it would have been very costly. Anyway, now I get to update. I am still sticking with the barracks room, but I am opting for better coverage in other countries. When we were able to travel I was always just a little concerned about getting sick, or having an accident. With the updated plan, I have coverage if we go to another country; so I don’t have to worry about remembering to take out the extra insurance.
I think in an earlier post I told you I was picking up my guitar again. I had not touched it since we moved, but my goal this year is to spend 15 – 30 minutes every day practicing. Well yesterday I managed to break a string. I never even thought about having extra strings on hand. I was a little worried that my practicing would have to stop due to the lockdown. I knew there were not any stores that would be able to sell guitar strings. I am pretty confident the Swiss Government would not class that as a necessity. I found some online at a store named Galaxus. Galaxus sells practically everything except food. Anyway, I learned they are every big as efficient as Amazon in the US. I ordered two sets of strings yesterday at 4:00 PM. This morning, they were in the post. I don’t even think Amazon is that efficient when they need someone else to deliver the packages. I would up missing a little practice yesterday, but after putting the new strings on the guitar I was able to practice today.
Another one of my guilty pleasures this lockdown has been watching Netflix. “The Originals” is one of the two series I have been watching. I do not know quite how to describe it. It is basically a soap opera with vampires, werewolves, and witches. None of the characters are all good or all bad. Each character has their moments, and you really never know when the good or the bad is going to show up. With all of the rain, I have not been running, I have been riding my bike in the basement. While I am riding, the other series I have been consuming is “The Protector.” The Protector is a Turkish based show. It is all about a group of immortals that are trying to take over Istanbul, and they have been thwarted through the centuries by a protector. The protector is a hereditary job. It has been passed down from father to son for something like 28 or 29 generations. It takes a little bit of adjusting to get past the english voice over, and every once in a while I start laughing because I know the translation is JUST a little off, but it is a fun story.
Speaking of Lockdown….. We have four weeks left. I have a sneaking suspicion that like a lot of Europe the Swiss Government will extend the lockdown into March. I was reading an article yesterday that was talking about how the infection rate is still high in a lot of the country. The good news is that the number of new cases is falling, but apparently, the rate of spread is still high. The really odd thing…… The parts of the country that have the worst spread rates? Where the ski slopes are. The one thing the Government said they wouldn’t shut down. Now, I am smart enough to know it isn’t skiing that is causing the problem. It is more the fact of being in long lines next to other people, and the fact that hotels are still doing business in the ski areas. I just find it a little strange that the problem has been isolated to these areas, yet the government doesn’t want to close down the slopes.
Other Covid news. Switzerland decided the Astra Zeneca vaccine could not be used. I do not know what this company did differently than others, but the Government said there was not enough data to know if the vaccine would work. Almost 20% of the country lives in and around Zürich, but we are one of the worse areas for the vaccine roll out. The latest news, is that the general public will not even be able to start getting vaccinated in this area until mid April or later. Ironically, none of the medical facilities want to help the canton distribute the vaccine because the canton isn’t paying enough. Which seems really strange to me. The canton is paying 50 CHF per dose. For a hospital or clinic, that would already have some of the infrastructure set up to give vaccinations passing on potentially 50,000,000 CHF seems strange to me. It seems that Switzerland is doing better in regards to vaccinations than the surrounding countries. I saw that in Geneva they are having a hard time distinguishing between the French citizens that are eligible for the vaccine, and those that are not. The law is that if you cross the border to work, and you have Swiss health care you are eligible for the vaccine. Since the border is open there have been cases of people coming over from France to get vaccinated. In another case, there was a busload of vaccine tourists who were caught and sent back home. There is a growing business in Northern Italy of trying to Italian citizens across the border to get vaccinated.
We have our thieves and scammers here as well. In the Canton of Vaud, the police are looking for a group of people going around too houses pretending to be someone from the government. These people are then charging the home owner to get on the Covid Vaccine list.
I am going to end this post with a couple of comments about cheese. There is no such thing as Swiss cheese here in Switzerland. All cheese is Swiss cheese, and the type of cheese that you are thinking of as Swiss Cheese is actually called Emmentaler. Thank God I saw smart enough to NOT ask for Swiss cheese the first time I went to the Grocery. There have been two stories in the news recently about swiss cheese. The first is that the industry has had a record year, even with Covid. The reason is that more people are eating and cooking at home, and swiss people eat more cheese at home than they eat when going to a restaurant. The second story involves swiss cheese and Germany. There is a dairy near the German Border that has petitioned the government to allow 3 million liters of german milk to be imported. The dairy cannot get enough swiss milk to keep up with the demand. The story talks about the conundrum of how can the dairy make “Swiss” cheese if the milk is not from Switzerland. The dairy is being very smart. They are saying that all the cheese will be exported back to Germany, so they won’t be bringing down the quality of swiss cheese! The Swiss are very protective of their milk and cheese. There is a 76 rappen (cents) duty on every liter of milk that is imported from abroad.
So that is it for this weeks post. If you are in Madison, WI this week, please give Kaylee Sorrells a shoutout and wish her a Happy Birthday. My baby turned 21 this morning.
See you next week.