Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wherein DF dis/confirms some earlier observations about Svizzera

OK, broad readership, you heard it here first: DF was wrong. About one thing. Remember how I said earlier that there is a puzzling dearth of bums in Zuerich? Well, it turns out that there are not no homelesses here, though there are some. Today, DF witnessed a frail old couple, shabbily but not poorly dressed (if you follow me), hobble up to a dumpster near Bahnhof Enge, open it, and root around for cans or god knows what. It not only proved wrong my earlier observation about homelessness in Zuerich (which was affected by an unPopperian black-swan type error anyhow), but may have been one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever seen.

But DF's surprise at the non-checking of railpasses here continues. I've yet to see a single person checking any tickets, and I'm on trams a lot. Today, I was almost happy to see a cop get on a tram, assuming he was there to check our tix (mine was totally legit, natch). But then the cop just sat in a seat and started texting someone. I wanted to be all like, "Hey, guy, stop sending txts to your BFFs and do your damn job!" But that might not have been a great idea.

I used to have a theory that while Chicago was on average much colder than DC, my subjective experience of DC was much much colder because I prepared for the cold more thoroughly when living in Chicago, so I actually felt much colder when I was in DC (i.e., I'd go out in DC without proper gear b/c it didn't seem that bad, and then freeze my ass off, while I'd bundle up for fifteen minutes minimum in Chicago because I knew that if I didn't, I might die).

I mention all this because once again, it is hot in der Stadt. Someone looking at the average temps in Zuerich might say that it's not that hot compared to the US, but here's the difference: in the US, places are wired for A/C or located to catch cool ocean breezes. In Zuerich, the buildings, houses, and trams are almost uniformly un-air-conditioned, so that you're some kind of hot all the time. This ranges from "sitting in the office and kind of sticking grossly to the seat" to "walking up the hill back to ETH and pouring lakes of sweat." Don't get me wrong, DF loves the Zuerich, and it's only a low-level annoyance, but lord if it doesn't make me pine for the good old US and its environmentally unfriendly A/C addiction.

Did you know?

--The reason Swiss email and web addresses end in ".ch" is that the traditional Latin name for Switzerland is "Confederatio Helvetica," or "CH".

--Swiss-German people often greet each other by saying "Hoi." It's a weird sound for German-speakers to make. DF is beginning to be able to sense how Swiss-German sounds different from standard German, though this is really only an elemental aural instinct and not something I could explain.