What has happened since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) reached the United States has been nothing short of bizarre and unbelievable. As far as I can tell, this virus is no worse than H1N1, SARS, Ebolola, and others, but the response has been a thousand times greater. It feels like the beginning of the Apocalypse.
I think the craziness in the United States started a little over a week ago when I read that people were hording toilet paper. That surprised me and still does because what is it about this virus that makes people think that toilet paper will suddenly stop being produced. After toilet paper, paper towels disappeared from store shelves. Again, I don’t get the logic. Will a virus prevent the manufacture or delivery of paper towels?
I can understand the disappearance of things like hand sanitizer, disinfectants and even isopropyl alcohol, but when the potato chip isle is ransacked it means we have all gone crazy. I guess nobody can survive an apocalypse without their chips.
I think it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. People think there will be a shortage of certain items so they stock up and create that shortage. The shortage then scares everyone else into stocking up.
The funny thing is, the produce section is pretty much untouched. I would think boosting your immune system with healthy, whole foods would be a top priority, but not so. Instead, people are buying up meats and canned soup, neither of which will help fight off a virus. I guess I could understand soup but not in a can.
The closing of businesses are what really bother me because it will be a huge burden on our economy and will increase our national debt beyond belief. Or should I say even more beyond belief? Some of the closings I agree with. Places where large groups of people crowd together should be closed, such as movie theaters, sporting events and the like, but closing retail stores and restaurants seem like overkill. Yes, there is a risk, but grocery stores are open and how is shopping at Macy’s more of a risk than the supermarket? I think if the stores are proactive with cleaning and people are diligent about washing their hands then that risk is minimal.
Restaurants are another place that should stay open. I think if each group of people are separated from other groups by six feet or more, and the staff practice good cleaning techniques, than it would probably be safer to eat out than to go to the grocery store.
So far, this is the worst mass panic that I have seen in my lifetime. As of now, I worry more about the response to the virus than I do about the virus. I will admit, though, that the possibility that this panic is justified has crossed my mind. Hopefully, the worst case scenario won’t come to pass and this will all go away soon. In the meantime, we should all try not to worry too much but also try not to take this too lightly. A little caution and some soap never hurt anyone.
Our last day trip in Germany was to a town in the Black forest called Triberg im Schwarzwald. We wanted to buy a cuckoo clock and my research indicated that Triberg was the best place to look.
The drive from Stuttgart to Triberg was pleasant with a lot of beautiful scenery .
When we arrived in Triberg we were impressed with how beautiful the town looked.
Finding a parking space was not easy but we got lucky. It was a bit of a dreary day but it wasn’t raining yet. When we got out of the car I noticed a sign that said “Max. 30 Minuten” so I thought I would just come back and move the car to another spot after 30 minutes, if possible.
Triberg is a very pretty village with lots of shops that sell cuckoo clocks and other locally made gifts. We stopped at several stores including the well known Haus der 1000 Urhen (House of 1000 Clocks). On the outside of the store is a huge working cuckoo clock.
Inside there are cuckoo clocks everywhere.
We eventually found a clock that we liked, with the help of a young lady that was very knowledgeable, but we wanted to look at other stores before deciding.
The store sold clocks but did not make them and I thought we should at least check out a store that actually made their own clocks. My wife is a big fan of unique stuff and where better to look for uniqueness than a place where things are custom made?
I read about a place called Oli’s and we decided to check them out. They were about a block up the hill and around the corner so we started walking that way. We reached a point where I felt like I should go back to the car to check on it and get our umbrellas because there was a light drizzle. Rose saw a store that she wanted to check out so she said she would wait for me there. I saw a photo opportunity next to the store.
When I got back to the car I actually read the entire sign that I just glanced at earlier when I focused on the time limit but not the rest of the text. The text under “Max. 30 Minuten” said “Gebuhrenpflichtig, nur mit Parkschein.” I didn’t know what “Gebuhrenpflichtig ” meant but I knew the rest of the sentence meant “only with a parking ticket. That’s when I realized I had to pay for a parking ticket at the machine. Oops. I did eventually look up “Gebuhrenpflichtig” and it means “Charges apply.” Put together that means “Charges apply only with parking ticket.” Does that mean if I don’t have a parking ticket there will be no charge? Anyway, back to the story.
I put money in the machine but could only get a ticket for 30 minutes. I put that in the window, grabbed the umbrellas and headed off to meet Rose. I was a bit worried that even with a valid parking pass, I was probably violating some law because my car was parked there too long. The last thing we needed was for our car to be towed but I doubted that merchants would complain and since it was raining I didn’t think the Polizei would be out looking for parking violators.
I caught up with Rose and we found Oli’s and went inside. We didn’t see a cuckoo clock that we loved but Rose bought a couple of things to give as gifts.
We then walked outside and into the next door. At the time I thought it was another section of the same store but realized later that we were in a different store called Kuckucknest.
There were a lot of interesting things in the store besides clocks and the owner was very nice about showing us around and explaining things. Rose found a cat nutcracker that she really liked. It was not made there but that didn’t matter. She also found some “smokers” that are designed to burn incense. The front smoker in the photo below blows smoke out of his pipe. The nutcracker, and I believe the smokers too, come from a company called Christian Ulbright.
We eventually found a great clock that was more than we were planning to spend but Rose loved it. It was his wife’s favorite, the owner told us. He also said that he only makes ten of each design and he listed all the places that he could remember shipping that clock to and none of them were in the United States so it certainly qualifies as unique for us.
I think it was 1258 Euros before the twenty percent “Value Added Tax” that is common in Europe. The nice thing was that the tax did not apply if the item was being shipped out of the country, or the EU, one of the two.
We also talked about the owner’s son going to cuckoo clock making school. He might have said clock making school but I don’t remember because I was thinking cuckoo clocks when he brought it up. If there is a school specifically for making cuckoo clocks than I think that is very cool.
By the time we got back to the car thirty minutes were long past but the car was still there and we had no ticket. We thought we should push our luck so I bought another thirty minute ticket and we went across the street to have lunch at a pizza place while it was raining.
I wish I had researched Triberg better before going because one of the tallest waterfalls in Germany is there and I would have loved to see it. I even photographed the stadtplan when I was there which showed the waterfall at the bottom left but I just photographed it, I didn’t look at it.
When we returned to our hotel in Stuttgart we bought some food at the market next door to the hotel and then I went down to get ice. When I reached the lobby the alarm went off and everyone was made to leave the building. I stood outside with many other people. I had no jacket and I was holding an ice bucket. I felt a little silly. I waited for Rose to come out but she never did. I couldn’t call her because we only had one phone that worked in Europe and Rose had it. After five or ten minutes the police arrived followed several minutes later by ambulances and a fire truck.
I think I stood out there for at least twenty minutes before they let us back inside. I found out when I returned that Rose didn’t even know anything happened. I was told it was a minor kitchen fire but I think they need to work on their evacuation plan before a more serious emergency comes up.