On rubbish disposal

Getting rid of stuff you don’t want is a serious business here. Here’s what I’ve learnt so far:

  • Metal and glass (sorted into white, green and brown) must be taken to your local recycling area (mine is about 5 minutes walk away) and deposited in the appropriate bins. However, you can only do this between 7am and 7pm Monday to Saturday.
  • … glass, except, that is, for some, but not all, beer bottles, which have a deposit on them and must be taken back to the shop where you bought them to get the deposit back.
  • Oil also has to be taken to a special recycling area, but one which is further away.
  • Recyclable plastic (PET and milk bottles only) is taken back to the shop where you bought it.
  • Paper (not cardboard) must be neatly bundled up with string and left outside the door the night before collection, which happens once a fortnight depending on where you live.
  • Cardboard (not paper) must also be neatly bundled and left outside for collection once a month (on a different day to the paper, of course).
  • It’s illegal to throw out any electrical items. These have to be taken to a shop that sells such things, which is theoretically required to take it off your hands for free. I haven’t tried doing this yet.
  • Normal rubbish (ie. anything else) may only be disposed of in special bags (“Züri-säcke”) which you can buy at the supermarket. These are quite expensive (about 1 CHF each for the smallest), and apparently pay for the cost of disposal, but at least you don’t have to take it anywhere: each building has a dumpster for them.

One of the side-effects of all this is that many kitchen balconies have a large variety of bins and bags for collecting all the different recyclables. And even after all that trouble, you still can’t recycle as much (lots of plastics, for example) as where I lived in Sydney. Ho hum. I’m all in favour of paying for the amount of waste you create, but they could really make it easier to recycle stuff. Why on earth do I have to take some things back to the supermarket, and others to the recycling centre?



So, I just got home from a week away at a conference (photos to appear soonish), to find I have two important-looking letters. One is from the department of health of the City of Zurich telling me that my health insurer isn’t recognised by the Swiss health insurance law, and that I have to choose one or be compulsorily enrolled in one. They also informed me that they are sending a copy of the letter to the department of health of the Canton of Zurich. The second letter is from the department of health of the Canton of Zurich telling me that I am exempted from the Swiss health insurance requirements, and that they are sending a copy of the letter to the department of health of the City of Zurich.

I think I’ll just ignore both and hope they figure it out.

Life in Zürich

… so in case I forgot to tell you, I moved to Zürich a couple of weeks ago. Sorry for not letting you know earlier. Apart from some rather nasty plumbing problems (think bathtub filling up with sewage) everything has gone surprisingly well. I now have somewhere to live for a few months while I wait for my stuff to arrive, an apparently-important piece of recycled paper that says I’ve applied for a residence permit, a bank account, a mobile phone, thirty seven different types of (compulsory) insurance, a (compulsory) pension plan, a railway concession card, an office and a EuroSys paper to help work on.

Anyway, there are a handful of photos of my new/temporary place here. If you’re going to be in Europe, let me know!

On Swiss independence, and power points

I naively assumed that Switzerland would have the same kind of power sockets as its neighbouring countries. This, it turns out, was a mistake. They have their own three-pronged hexagonal thing that is different to everything else. I can understand not wanting to be tied to the Euro currency, but is the country’s independence going to be threatened by the ability to directly plug in foreign appliances? Maybe there’s an important group of Swiss adaptor manufacturers they need to protect.

Swiss power outlet

Luckily, the width between the active and neutral prongs matches that on the German/French plug, so if you can get by without an earth (or just think you can), and the power point isn’t an annoying recessed one like those in the picture above, you’re in business.

Metro count += two

So last week I was in the bay area and San Francisco for a flying visit. There are some standard touristy photos here, but the main purpose of this post is to update my metro count, which now stands at 19.

Got at b3co.com!

Some random observations:

  • Nob hill has the most expensive-looking hotels on it, and thus, I suppose, the nobs.
  • The BART line to the airport is a bloody good idea. Why do so many cities make it a pain to get to and from their airports?
  • It would be remarkably easy to fall over the railing on the Golden Gate Bridge from a bicycle accident.
  • Why don’t we have spiral escalators in Australia?
  • United isn’t so bad when you at least get an Economy Plus seat.