Showing posts from November, 2016

When cities control the countryside

We will most likely lose our hospital due to a recent referendum that resulted in 66% of voters in our canton rejecting an initiative to keep regional hospitals open. And this is despite 80% of voters in our area voting otherwise.

The cities just don't want to subsidize the countrysides. Sadly, these urbanites don't realize what this means. Such a closure will bring us back to the days when people died of minor health complications.

Take my grandfather's brother, for example. He died of a ruptured appendix while attempting to walk the 45 minutes from Lauenen to the Saanen Hospital. It was the 1930's and his parents had both died of the Spanish Flu. His older half-brother--who was now head of household--had refused to give him taxi fare (the only car in the village belonged to the postman).

This means that if you are in our village and break your leg, suffer a rupturing appendix or a stroke, you will have to get yourself to the closest city hospital, which could take yo…

Collecting tax the Swiss way

Last Saturday, the call came in from a cell phone. I didn't quite make out his name, as he said it so fast, but I managed to catch that he was calling from the "Gemeinde" or city government. It seemed like a hoax until he asked: "Do you still have your dog?"

Oops, I thought. "Yes, yes, yes," I said. "Yes, Bizzi is still with us. I am so sorry. I keep forgetting to come down to pay my dog tax."

"Are you at home tomorrow?" he asked.

"You, you... work on Sundays?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "The whole day."

"Well... let's see. Yes.. It's Sunday... we plan to go skiing at 9:30am. Can you come at 9am?

"In Ordnung," he said. "I will come at 9am. Have CHF 120 ready." He didn't mention that CHF 30 of the amount was a fine for failing to pay the tax before the August deadline. As we are in the USA in the summer, I don't see the small reminder notice in the legals. And that…

Shame, humility, confidence, arrogance

"Americans are arrogant," a Swiss friend told me one day.

"You mean confident," I said, feeling defensive and very American in that moment. "The Swiss are so ashamed, they get in their own way." (By the way, being both American and Swiss, I usually defend whichever country I am not in physically.)

Since that conversation, I began reading books on shame and self-esteem and discovered that shame is the basis of addiction and leads to unhealthy behaviors and relationships.

One such book, written by shame and vulnerability researcher Dr. BrenĂ© Brown says: "Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. It’s the most primitive human emotion we all feel—and the one no one wants to talk about. If left to its own devices, shame can destroy lives."

So if shame is bad, what is humility?

The Oxford American Dictionary defines humility as "the quality of having a modest or low view of one's importance." With …

The handshake sucks but not for religious reasons

A recent Facebook post on kisses and hugs led to a discussion on shaking hands in Switzerland. The handshake in Swiss public schools is a requirement that could land you a CHF 5,000-fine if you refuse to do it.

It all started with the image of a young girl and the words:
“I am five. My body is my body. Don’t force me to kiss or hug. I am learning about consent and your support on this will help me keep myself safe for the rest of my life."
One person wrote that she agreed with the above words but that the same should apply to shaking hands.

"Don’t come to Switzerland then," I replied.

"Woah," she replied.

To illustrate my point, I shared recent news articles regarding two Muslim schoolboys who refused to shake their female teacher's hand. They said that Islam prohibits physical contact with the opposite sex unless with immediate family. At first, the school exempted the students, which caused an uproar, as this exemption was deemed discriminatory against w…

Switzerland is dog friendly

It's dog heaven here. You can take your furry friend nearly everywhere: in most restaurants, trains, buses, some shops, etc... And if they don't allow your dog inside, most shops provide leash hooks outside, allowing you to shop while Rover waits. You can even take your dog to work if your employer has pooch-friendly company regulations like NestlĂ©.

The best part is that you can walk your dog off the leash, as long as you can "voice control" it. Warning: this is tricky. Your dog must be really good at this. One policewoman nearly ticketed me for having my dog off the leash, but when she saw that my dog came when I called, she complimented me.

I believe strongly that keeping dogs with their owners most of the day socializes them, making them less shy, bored and aggressive than those dogs that are locked up at home all day.

Where my mother lives in the USA, local ordinances require people to keep their dogs on leashes in parks and on beaches. These ordinances are creat…