28 April 2021

Another quiet week on the hill above Lake Zurich. Just in the last couple of days, the hill across the lake has gone from brown to green. The leaves have come out on the trees, so it at least looks like spring. It has gotten a little warmer so that is good as well.

Yesterday, I spent another fun afternoon with CoSN, and a bunch of really good EdTech people in Florida. It was the last of some Cyber Security training. It is always good working with people from other backgrounds and finding out the way they do things, and I always like learning from new people. The highlight of the training was doing some table top exercises in reacting to a cyber security incident in your building. It was really hard to get some of them to think in real life terms. As soon as the first scenario was brought up, some people immediately jumped into shut everything off, segregate the network, start trying to clean everything up. I was like wait a second. The scenario says the person is unable to open a file. Doesn’t that happen at least once a week? If you immediately jump to the conclusion that everything is a virus, or an attack, how do you get anything done? I then asked the group to talk about the last time someone couldn’t open a file and walk us through that. This allowed us to look at the scenario a little more realistically. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

On another front, the vaccination saga took another turn this week. At the beginning of the week, we were reading about cantons having to cancel vaccination appointments because the promised deliveries did not take place. Then this morning, Julie called and said, ” The Canton of Zürich opened up appointments to people over the age of 50.” I logged in and got us appointments in a couple of weeks. There must be a high demand, because I had to log in once for Julie, and once for me. In the 2 minutes it took me to save Julie’s appointment, and get logged in as me, the center was booked for the day. So now it looks like I will have to go the vaccine center 4 times. Two to get Julie there, and twice for me! The vaccination center is only a couple miles down the road, though, so that is good. Assuming the delivery schedule stays intact. We will have our vaccines done before the end of June. That is about two months earlier than I was predicting. Germany seems to be the country struggling the most in this part of Europe. Although there are not literal travel bans in place, there are effective travel bans. Hotels in Germany are only open for “essential” travel. I do not know how the hotels are identifying essential, but from the German people I talk to online it is a pretty strict definition.

I was chatting with a woman who lives in Munich last night, and she basically has to have a COVID test every 48 hours. Many of the businesses are requiring a negative test before a customer can enter. There has not been any talk like that here, but I am sure once the COVID passport gets approved the requirements to show a negative test will be put in place for at least some businesses. I am pretty sure the restaurant, bar, and theatre business groups would love to get something like this in place.

It seems kind of funny, but right now I would predict that travel will open for people outside Europe to travel in Europe before it opens up for Europeans to travel. Everyone wants to open travel to North American soon. I think it is because people from the US spend a lot more money when they visit.

Somedays I wished I had studied economics more heavily; or maybe that I understood country wide finance better. Back in 2015 Switzerland implemented negative interest rates. I do not know what the economic catastrophe then was, but for whatever reason the Swiss National Bank decided this step needed to be taken to weaken the Swiss Franc. So for the last 7 years banks have had to pay the national bank for any cash in excess of the minimum reserves they are required to keep. The banks turn right around and charge their customers higher fees, and in some cases actually charge their customers for keeping money in a bank account. This seems strange to me, but now three or four times per year. Julie and I are forced to transfer money back to the US. Honestly we would do some of that anyway, but now we have to do it to keep from paying for the simple pleasure of being able to deposit Julie’s pay check. It is a strange system, and some day, I really look forward to sitting down with someone that understands finance a lot more than I so they can explain it to me.

On a work related note: I am going to end with something I learned this week about my job search. It started out, by me applying for a job with Accenture here in Zürich. I got another rejection letter, but it was actually the BEST rejection letter I have ever seen. It was complimentary, and even hope filled that a job would open up soon where I would be a better fit. Now I am smart enough to know it is a boilerplate auto response type email, but it was a masterpiece, and whomever Accenture had draft that letter should be highly rewarded! The only problem was the “This is an automated email.” line at the bottom of the email. So being kind of silly. I got on Tik Tok and made a quick video about the email. With a tag line at the end of the video showing my email address, and a plug for Accenture to reach out. Well, they haven’t reached out yet, nor do I expect them to. I did learn much more about employment here. For example, I learned that age discrimination is 100% a thing here. Companies have to pay more to the government in retirement plans for any person over age 50. So now, I just need to figure out how to make myself look about 20 years younger on my resume picture, and I need to go back through and get rid of all the dates on the resume. Of course if I do that, no one will EVER look at the resume, because dates are expected. Oh well, I knew it was going to take a while to find something if I started looking anyway. This just makes it a little harder. The thing that was a little depressing were the people that commented that they have been looking for jobs for literally years. The longest was four years in one case. That would make me miserable.

Well, I am going to sign off now. I need to run to the grocery store to get some stuff for dinner before Julie gets home. I hope this finds you well, and I will talk to you later.

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