Observing the Swiss

Since the university where I work is right next to the main train station, most of my Swiss-watching (pun very much intended) takes place in the station. The Swiss are interesting, particularly when it comes to weapons in public.
It’s common to see guys with slung SIG SG 550’s walking around the train station as they head off to military training, the range, etc. Nobody pays these guys any mind whatsoever; it’s just part of what’s normal here.
I admit to doing a double-take when I saw a guy with a slung katana picking up some groceries in the main station, but nobody else seemed to care. “Guy with a sword getting a liter of milk and some eggs. Meh.”
Even rather unusual things, like the guy wearing a full-body ghillie suit with a rifle slung on his back buying a cup of coffee from the McDonalds, go completely unremarked-upon by anyone here. It’s amusing to think of Swiss Wookie-suiters?being a thing.

Rifle overboard!

What’s going on here?

Image from S.T.A. Training Group
Image from S.T.A. Training Group

Based on the Facebook comments people are speculating that the man works for a marine security company and is throwing this AR-pattern rifle overboard for one of two main reasons:

  1. The rifle is full-auto and was purchased outside the US (i.e. they don’t need to comply with the NFA hoops), and they’re returning to a US port and the gun would not be legal. It’s cheaper and easier to simply discard the rifle overboard and buy another one once they leave US waters than deal with the NFA.
  2. Essentially the same situation, only they’re docking in some other port where firearms are restricted regardless of if they’re full- or semi-auto.

Thoughts? Speculation? I suspect that #2 is a bit more likely.
(Apologies if this post shows up twice in your feed reader. There were some tech issues here.)

Travels to Egypt

As some might recall, I traveled to Egypt and Jordan over the winter holiday. My wife and I took around 4,000 photos — we’ll spare you all the details and just stick to the highlights.
Both nations were fantastic: everywhere we went the people were pleasant, the sites stunning, and the food delicious. Everywhere was steeped with history. This post is briefly about Egypt, with a soon-to-follow post about Jordan.
At the time (about a year after the January demonstrations in 2011), Cairo had a bit of reputation for being unsafe and so there was essentially no tourists anywhere there. Fortunately, Cairo was quite safe and we ran into no trouble whatsoever and got to benefit from the lack of crowds at the various attractions; unfortunately, you could tell that business was slow for a lot of tourism-dependent merchants. Outside of Cairo there was a lot more tourists — the majority of tourists in Aswan and Luxor were Russians — and business seemed to be better, though the guides said that tourism has definitely been down since the revolution.
One of the great highlights of Egypt is, of course, the Pyramids of Giza. It should go without saying, but the pyramids are really big.

Continue reading “Travels to Egypt”

Educational Updates

Long time, no post.
The results are in: I was accepted into three graduate schools: the University of Oslo in Norway, and the Universities of Zurich and Bern in Switzerland.
All are fine research institutions, but I ended up going with Bern, as it combined excellent research with a much more reasonable cost of living than Zurich or Oslo. We’ll be moving at the end of July.
In short, I’ll be spending the next two years of my life at a place like this:

Well, not quite. I’ll actually be in the science building, but it’s right next to the fancy old university building. I’ll probably be in the basement, though. Oh well.

It looks a lot nicer on the inside.
Alas, as the Swiss are nearly universally excellent shooters, it’s unlikely that there’ll be any need for me to introduce new shooters to the sport. Oh well. All the New Shooter Ammo Fund ammo is marked and store separately here in the US, so it’ll be available for teaching new shooters when I return to the US.
While the Swiss do permit me to import firearms for personal use, there’s a nominal bit of paperwork involved and I don’t want to deal with the hassle during the main move. Perhaps I’ll get the guns when I come back for holidays or something.
Much of my time in the next few months will be spent preparing for the move, so posting may be lighter than usual (amazingly enough).
I know it’s been a while since I last posted, which is mostly due to living in Arizona (arguably the least-restrictive state in regards to firearms laws, which makes things really boring when it comes to writing about firearms-related legal developments) and not having the time or money to get out and shoot as often as I’d like. Hopefully after moving to Switzerland, I’ll have a bit more opportunity to shoot. We’ll see.

On Couchsurfing

Since I live in the Phoenix area (my wife has a condo there) and work in Tucson during the week, I’ve been couch-surfing with friends during the work week for the last year. This has allowed me to not need to get a separate apartment, thus saving hundreds of dollars a month. In exchange for housing, I maintain my friend’s cars, computers, and do other such tasks. So far, it’s worked out pretty well for both parties.
Imagine my interest when I discovered CouchSurfing.org. In essence, it consists of people willing to provide a place to sleep for others. It’s not meant to be permanent, but is geared towards a similar group of people as those who stay in hostels whilst traveling. Hosts and visitors have a profile page which also includes reviews from other CSers, so one can be reasonably assured that they’ll not inviting in an axe murderer or crazy person. Very cool concept, and something that my wife and I will take advantage of when we move to Europe and travel frequently.
Hostels are inexpensive and nice (for the most part), but you don’t really get a feel for the people of an area in most cases. With CS, one actually stays with a local (or is a local and hosts a traveler), and so can get a much more in-depth feel for the people and culture in an area. Very cool.