Trash Stickers

I feel really guilty. We didn’t recycle hardly ever before we moved to Switzerland because they don’t do it in our neighborhood. We still don’t have it here, but the problem is, people are tightwads in our neighborhood, and apparently adding recycling would add something like $5 a month to everyone’s trash bill. They’d probably have a fit about it. Plus, there are quite a few retired/fixed income folks here.

When we lived in Switzerland, we recycled everything for several reasons. First, they charge your trash by how much you throw away. The system where we lived is that you buy these stickers. A sheet of 10 stickers cost about $13. For very large bags of trash (65 L, I think) you used two stickers. For your average bags (35 L), just one sticker, and for smaller bags, half a sticker. Next to the trashbins at our apartment complex was a bin for compost material. On designated days of the month, you could leave your paper (carefully bundled in strict regulated size piles) in the trash area.

Here’s what one sticker looks like, though the picture is a bit fuzzy probably to keep people from copying it. You would get a whole sheet of these, same size as a piece of paper that you get from your printer. They are as wide as the page, and yes, they are wavy on the edges.

If you didn’t have a sticker on your trash (on rare occasions, folks would try to pry off a sticker and put it on their own trash, or people just didn’t put a sticker on it for whatever reason), there is a sort of garbage police. Some poor sucker is paid to go through your trash and find out who they are so you can fine you. First, though, they usually put an orange sticker on the offending trash and leave it outside the bin, giving you the chance to put a sticker on it and make amends. Continue reading

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A Little Life Update

Since there are a scattering few people who use this blog as primary means of keeping up with us, I thought I’d share some pictures of our son around Easter time. We were able to take him to two Easter Egg Hunts, one done by a mom and baby group that I’m in, and one done by our neighborhood association. It didn’t take long for E to become a pro. Here’s some picture links:

Mom and Baby Easter Egg Hunt

Community Easter Egg Hunt

Houston Downtown Aquarium

A few weeks ago, we visited the Houston Downtown Aquarium. My husband and I had been there quite a few years ago when we were dating, and it wasn’t all that much to behold. We were hoping for expanded exhibits and when I got a discount through a local photography club that I am in, we decided to revisit it.

The Houston Downtown Aquarium is not owned by any sort of educational group, but by Landry’s Restaurants. Even the official website has “restaurant” in the URL address. Crammed into a few city blocks, the facility consists of a building housing a small aquarium exhibit, restaurant, bar, and gift shop, a small outdoor game arcade and amusement park, and a short train ride that goes through a shark tunnel. The aquarium boasts lots of special events, and is available for rental for everything from parties to sleepovers in front of the white tiger cage.

I was most interested to see the aquarium portion. It was sadly lacking in a variety and quantity of fish and information. I’ve seen more species of aquatic life at the Dallas World Aquarium (and they are constantly expanding and improving their exhibits). There are a few petting tanks in the middle of the exhibit, and kids had fun touching and giggling at the baby sharks, horseshoe crabs, and anemones. But, if you want to see a great aquarium, this isn’t one of them. Continue reading

Euros in Switzerland

We have since moved back to Texas from Switzerland. I first drafted this post before we left.

Just a quick note in the midst of our preparations to leave…

Switzerland is not part of the European Union, however they abide by certain of their laws and even accept the Euro for currency. Well, they are supposed to anyway. In the last month, I’ve been to Konstanz, Germany three times (long story), and Colmar, France once. I had leftover Euros from each trip, and while we usually just pool the leftover Euros for the next trip outside of Switzerland, we’re not going anywhere else for a while. So, I thought I’d try to spend my Euros here in Switzerland.

At first shopkeepers sigh or get a befuddled look on their face when you hand them Euros (at least in Winterthur). It seems that every last one of them is happy to take the paper currency, but no one wants to take the coins. It turns out that the banks in Switzerland are the same. No one wants Euro coinage. I wonder if any of my Swiss friends have experienced this?

So, now I have a big fist-full of coins that I’ll just have to pack in my suitcase and hold on to until our next trip to Europe (perhaps Ireland in the summer?).