Dark Clouds Over the Jura

Dark Clouds Over the Jura

According to Strava this was my 140th hike this year and my 83rd week of tracked activity. I don’t know why it’s only 83 weeks. My habit is older than that. When I set off, it was nice weather and warm. I didn’t set off with much because I expected the walk to be short. It was eight kilometres long. Part of the reason for this is that I did the usual detour by the Huguenot route before walking towards the Jura.

View of the Jura Under Clouds
View of the Jura Under Clouds

Despite the threatening clouds I was not rained on. This time, rain did not start as soon as I got home. The weather is stable for now.

More cloud
More Cloud

I have nothing else to say today, on this topic.

A Year Without Handshakes and Hugs

We are over a year into the pandemic that I wrote about for the first one hundred days, and stopped writing about because I thought that the Swiss Government was getting close to eradicating the disease, or at least getting it down to 0 new cases per day. Do you remember June 2020, when we actually thought the pandemic could be over by August? Unfortunately we’re no in April of 2021 and the pandemic is nowhere near over.

Today, upon news that a royal individual died, and upon realising that the Social media landscape and British media would be filled with this news I decided to take a twitter break, while morbid twitter marked the passing of this individual. I may seem apathetic and cold, uncaring, or even unsympathetic because I do not want to mark this event but I’d like to bring something to people’s attention. I’m between work contracts. I haven’t hugged or shaken hands with adults in over a year. If I was to grieve a stranger who had a full life, and lived to a good age, then how should I feel about my own life, and my own age? If I was to feel empathy, then I would destroy my own ability to cope with pandemic solitude.

A year with hardly a meal with others, with hardly an evening drink with others, a year without a single climbing trip, with no hiking trip with strangers, with no activities. The pandemic is not over, and neither is the solitude. We are still a year away from a normal summer, if we’re being optimistic.

Normally I would have spent the last three or four weekends going hiking and climbing with people, but this year I have done none of those things. I have walked in solitude, in loops of 10-15 kilometres where I live and in the process I have seen interesting things.

Today I saw a sign that gave the distance between Geneva and Lausanne in terms of Lieues (leagues). I walked down to the lake because I thought the high wind would give nice waves but no such luck. It’s funny to see the distance measured in such units.

This year I have already walked for over 160 hours for a distance of over 800 kilometres and the fourth month of the year has only just started. My walking has continued, despite the pandemic, and despite how theoretically unappealing walking is, around here. In fact walking in this area is nice and there are plenty of routes to be explored and with the seasons, the landscape changes with each passing week and month. Some months you see the start of one crop and the end of another. You also see mice and other rodents flee to safety. There is plenty to see. I also pass the time with podcasts and audiobooks, so although the landscape and route is the same the walk is different every single time. Contrary to popular belief daily walks, within walking distances of home can and are fun to do.

People may dislike that I don’t want to mourn a death, but in the middle of a pandemic, our ability to cope, or not cope, is based around what we prioritise, and what we avoid. By avoiding grief and mourning, we avoid undermining our own happiness and on that topic I want to take a quick detour.

A few months ago I read a number of articles that made me think of pandemics, depression and homesickness. I love the idea that people, during a pandemic, are feeling homesick for the way of life they want to return to, the friends they would like to see, and the things they miss. A pandemic is like a trip, and it takes time for people to adapt and get used to new environments.

I saw that people are meeting by a lakeside tonight, and if we weren’t in a pandemic then I would consider it, but because we’re in a pandemic, and because I want to avoid catching Long Covid I am not exposing myself to the risk. I also think that it’s easier to remain in pandemic solitude, than to yoyo into and out of it. I prefer to keep things stable. At the current rate of vaccination we may have another 70 weeks to go in Switzerland.

Forced to Wear Mask Outdoors

Forced to Wear Mask Outdoors

Switzerland is currently toying with the idea of forcing people to wear masks outdoors but it’s not clear whether this would be for cities or whether it would be for villages and even rural walks. If the obligation to wear a mask at all times is enacted then I have two reactions.

The first is that I never leave the house without a mask and that I wear it when I am forced to walk within a few meters of people. Since the end of March I have been staying as far away from people as possible, which is how I discovered all my new walks.

The second reaction is that wearing a mask outdoors in a city makes sense. It doesn’t make sense when you’re out for a two to three hour walk along main roads where you rarely cross paths with anyone. To be forced to wear a mask even when we are kilometres from any other human would really suck. I know it’s not a scientific term, but that’s a step too far.

No one had to say “Don’t socialise, don’t meet friends, don’t go to restaurants, don’t go to pubs, bars or nightclubs.” No one had to say “Walk along rural paths where no one else walks to avoid any and all human contact”. These are things I did of my own free will. It’s not easy, but the documentaries I have watched and the books and articles I have read make this logical.

If I have to wear a mask for the entirety of my three hour walks where my exposure to others may last half a minute or less then I will be quite disappointed. The reason for that disappointment is that we would never breath fresh air if this rule was enacted. We would always breath mask air. We will suffer from Vitamin D as a result of not getting any exposure to sunlight and we will fall sick, for a new reason.

From what I understand in the Le Temps article this will not include my cherished quiet walking routes, luckily. I will have to keep hoping for rain as the only valid reason for indoor training. 😉 (I know an ascii wink is not good form, but I want you to know this is meant to be taken as a joke.)

For Context Switzerland, yesterday, became world leader in highest percentage increase in the number of new cases. “C’est en tout cas le pays qui compte la plus forte augmentation de nouveaux cas de Covid-19 ces 7 jours: +106%,” Within this context Switzerland must take rapid and immediate action to get the number of new cases per day back in control.

“Reduce your contacts by half”

For those who understand French this article presents the situation.

The three points of the article are:

  • The situation is similar to how it was on the 16th of March.
  • only semi-confinement helped to reduce the number of new cases.
  • If the measures were taken today it would take three to four weeks for things to get back under control.

For months I have been saying that people need to take responsibility and that everyone has to do everything possible to reduce the risk of propagation of this virus, and as we see from the current crop of articles the scientific and medical communities say the same thing.

It’s a shame that ordinary people need to be confined for a pandemic to be controlled and then contained. It’s a shame that people can’t take a one or two month break from socialising during a pandemic to get life to return to normal as soon as possible.

The Guardian Article: Inside the Airline Industry Meltdown is an interesting article that looks at the growing number of planes that are being mothballed until better times come, about the removal from service of 30 aircrafts from a single airline etc.

source: https://www.corona-data.ch/ accessed on 24/10/2020

Switzerland got down to 11 new cases per day in June. Yesterday there were 6600 new cases.

Daily Percentage of Positive Tests and Daily Tests per 10’000 (Last 7 Days)
Source: https://www.corona-data.ch/ accessed on 24/10/2020

Newly Reported Cases per Canton
Source: https://www.corona-data.ch/ accessed on 24/10/2020

The amplitude of the second wave is much greater than the first as we can see from the graph above.

Web Dev Studies During The Pandemic.

Web Dev Studies During The Pandemic.

During this Pandemic, I have decided to study Web Development and I am slowly making my way through one or two Linkedin Learning Pathways. In the process, I have learned about CSS, PHP, JavaScript ECMAScript2016, Frameworks and more.

The course I have studied are:

Angular Essential Training / React.js Essential Training / Git Essential Training / Learning ECMAScript 6 /Node.js Essential Training / Javascript Essential Training / RubyonRails Essential Training / CSS Essential Training / Ruby Essential Training : 1 The Basics / Installing and Running Ruby On Rails 5: Mac / Programming Foundations: Web Security /PHP with MySQL / Essential Training 1 and 2 /PHP Essential Training / Programming Foundations: Databases / Responsive Layout / HTML Essential Training / Introduction to CSS and CSS Essential Training.

With these studies I am getting a good overall appreciation of the options and solutions available to web developers. When I complete the “Become A full-Stack Developer and Become a Web Developer Courses I want to focus on a single framework and try to do everything from scratch, from setup to deployment, or at least to it being “completed”.

It’s easy to watch hours of videos and not learn much. It’s for that reason that with these courses I have re-written every line of code and when it did not work I persisted until I resolved the issues.

With CSS I took the opportunity to re-work the entire website. I made it mobile compliant and more visually appealing. I plan to take the same approach to learn about frameworks, taking my website and its sections, and using a framework as a CMS.

For now I need to keep progressing with the learning pathway. I have eighteen hours of courses to go but that’s without including the hours of effort put into getting things to work after I’ve written the lines of code.

At least this is a productive way of taking advantage of being in self-isolation for the foreseeable future.

Nice Clouds on a Windy Day

Nice Clouds on a Windy Day

Sometimes you drive home on the scooter and you look up at the sky and you think “When I get out of this village I’m going to stop by the side of the road and I’m going to take a picture of the clouds because they’re photogenic.

Ribbed/rippled clouds

The reason for them being photogenic today is that they were rippled like the sea, rather than fluffy. Those ripples make you think of the sand underwater by the beach.

When clouds are around look up
It’s nice to see a sky that looks different than usual.

After so many hours spent walking the same landscape day after day you spend more and more time noticing the details. In so doing you notice the sky, you see the fields change, and the crops mature, from a muddy field to a field at full maturity, before being ready to be harvested, and harvested.

The summer road
For months we had very few clouds. Finally the sky is worth looking at, once more.

Self-Sacrifice and Pandemics

Self-Sacrifice and Pandemics

Self-Sacrifice and Pandemics are intimate friends. In order for a pandemic to end we must learn to do without things that we need. We go without meeting friends for months, we go without hugs or handshakes for months. We go without restaurants, bars, cafés or cinemas for months. We go without needing the internal combustion for days at a time.

Human Contact

I mention all of these things looking at the past 76 days. Yesterday I had my first human to human contact in that many days. Today I shook my first hand. Between yesterday and today I transitioned from being two or more meters from people at all times to being close. I went into homes that were not my own.

For those who were not alone in self-isolation this might seem uninteresting but for many of us, who live in solitude, is a big step towards post-pandemic life. We can return to being within society, rather than on its outskirts. We don’t need to be distant and cold.

Of course the two meter rules are still in effect, but in two specific contexts I have let the rules slide for family.

The Return to Cycling

Although I didn’t make much fuss about the return to cycling this was a big step towards post-pandemic life. During the pandemic, I did not cycle because I wanted to reach only places that I could reach within an hour to an hour and a half of walking. By cycling, I decided the rule was no longer needed. My range of places to go, and experiences to have expanded.

During the pandemic people went on 80km rides, and I could have done the same, but I sacrificed because I believed that the cost to society would be too high, if I was infected and spread it, or if the opposite happened.


Yesterday someone spoke about feeling uncomfortable saying no to meeting friends during the pandemic after I had done the same. My reasons for not meeting those friends were:

  1. It would have required crossing seven or eight towns and villages at rush hour
  2. The group would have been from seven to nine people large when the scientists recommended that groups be no larger than five individuals
  3. The meeting was too late for me to include it within a bike ride, and I don’t want to return to using a car every single day like I used to.
  4. The location would have required me to drive for two and a half hours to three hours at best.

The emotional cost of this was huge, because I really did need to be sociable for the first time in over 70 days and I couldn’t, because couples who were not lonely and in solitary confinement went together anyway.

If you were not alone with yourself for seventy plus days then you cannot understand. As a joke I started to say that I was a pandemic hermit because of the self-isolation.

Driving to Do Things

So far during the pandemic the furthest I have driven is to the top of a mountain. I can get there within fifty five minutes so that shows how close it was. For sixty to seventy days I never crossed the Canton/state lines. I still haven’t been into a city.

The Brits got angry with Cummings for the road trip and I do understand that anger. I felt it when I saw people do touristy things at the peak of the pandemic in Switzerland. It made me angry that I self-sacrificed whilst they went on as normal, and it made me angry because of their apathy towards other people and the rules.

In a pandemic we must all sacrifice, and behave as a united society because solidarity is important, but also because the more seriously people take lockdown rules the sooner a pandemic is over. The less self-sacrificing people are, the more drawn-out the pandemic lasts.

Still Not Over

The pandemic is still not over, but at least those of us who were in solitude for over two months can re-emerge and re-integrate society, one small step at a time.

Day 74 of Self-Isolation in Switzerland – Looking At Swiss COVID-19 Case Graphs

Day 74 of Self-Isolation in Switzerland – Looking At Swiss COVID-19 Case Graphs

For several days I have not been looking as seriously at the COVID-19 case graphs for Switzerland because we the storm waves of new cases that we were getting before are now no more than ripples on a pond. The situation seems to be under control in Switzerland.

A graph of the daily new cases – we see a consistent degradation of the wave.

As we look at the graph above we see that for at least a month the number of new cases was high every day but that by the fifteenth of April the number of cases decreased week, by week, until the number of new cases per day seems imperceptible at the scale of the graph above.

The graph for Switzerland has flattened.

The graph for the total number of cases has flattened for a few days now so we may be over the worst. I still wear a mask in the shops and I still respect the minimum two meter distance between individuals. I don’t want to lose a habit only to find I will need to resume it in a few days.

We have gone from a peak of around 14313 active cases in a day to less than 600 yesterday.

The number of active cases has also gone down. We are now at around six hundred active cases.

Cars waiting to cross into France

During one of my many walks I passed by the French border from Vaud into Divonne and I saw columns of cars waiting to get into France. I saw one or two cars, turn around, in the hope of finding a less congested route. For people who have to cross borders on a daily basis patience will be even more important than usual.

A discarded face mask.

Someone shared an image of two mice resting in hammocks with a caption to the effect that “it’s wonderful going into cities at the moment, there are plenty of hammocks to be found.”. The perspective is amusing.

Face mask as Political Statement headlines

When I went to the shops yesterday I saw that some people were wearing face masks, as was I. Now that I have a few I can wear them when I have to be indoors with other people or within close proximity to others. My only reason for not wearing a face mask was that I couldn’t find them. It was never a political statement.

For some people, the wearing of a mask is a sign of oppression and of submission. For others it is common sense to wear a face mask.

The Daily Walks

Yesterday the daily walk was a run and a walk. I went on a shorter route than usual because we’re at the end of the month and I had reached the daily distance goal for the day. I still walked fifteen thousand steps.

During a bike ride two days ago it was funny to see how a walking path had been worn between Signy and Eysins. So many people have walked along the grass by the road that they have left a walking path. Usually foot traffic is not heavy enough to leave a trace.

Daily Tasks

I have renamed one of my daily tasks from “write a blog post” to “work on the website”. Yesterday and the day before I spent hours working on my website so I was out of creativity when it came time to write a blog post. That little change means that I’m on a 70 day streak.

Day 72 of Self-Isolation in Switzerland – British Anger At The Wrong Thing

Day 72 of Self-Isolation in Switzerland – British Anger At The Wrong Thing

I want to write about British anger at the wrong day today. As Switzerland gets closer and closer to zero cases and zero deaths per day it’s dangerously easy to think it will be over soon only to find out that it isn’t. I thought that by April 19th we could be back to normal but we weren’t. I thought that when the soft lock down was lifted we’d be able to do group activities. Of course we still can’t and I don’t want to get my hopes up anymore.

I speak about hope because from Thursday to Saturday or so there were no deaths in Switzerland linked to COVID-19 and then three in the last day or two. We seem to be even further along the long tail of the virus.

If you look at twitter, and what the Brits are tweeting about you see that they’re angry about Cummings 240 mile drive when people are not meant to go more than five miles from their homes. Guy Verhofstadt is saying: