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Recent heat wave here in Western Canada, British Columbia, was over 40C in most areas. Resulting among others in over 400 deaths in the Vancouver area alone, mostly among seniors. [ ], deaths related to this heat.

For the past 50 years in Canada I have been subjected to many heat waves, some during travel for work (Ottawa) and also Quebec, Montreal, during summer. I learned then that in addition to drinking lots of water, which really is only for your inside, that also the outside of your body, the skin, is heating up tremendously.

One fact is: Heat always rises, while water always runs down. Meaning, that during a heat wave, the body temperature rises, and the upper part of the body needs to be cooled down as long as the heat wave lasts, that means 24/seven.

How to take at least simple precautions: Use a cotton kerchief for the neck (I have many from my Cowboy days in Alberta), soak it thoroughly in cold water and tie it around your neck. This prevents heat rising to you head, and knock you out. Secondly, soak your T-shirt in cold water and wear it. As the body heats up, this needs to be repeated hourly. In addition, if I have to go out somewhere, always take a bottle of cold water, to re-soak and drink. I have done this regularly for every bicycle trip as well.

I survived this last heat wave, alone, without anybody helping me, and I am over 80 years old.

LANGUAGES – good for your brain

This has been known for centuries, “languages expand your brain”. [Or, as we say: “expand one’s horizon”.] New studies (University York at Toronto, Canada) have shown and proven that those who are at least bilingual in old age will show their first symptoms of Alzheimer and Dementia (if at all ) later than those with one single language (like English). [autres études l’Université d’Edinbourg et équipe indienne.] ]

There is also a correlation between widely traveling and thereby being exposed to other cultures and languages, and a healthier brain capacity. Besides the scientific implications of knowledge of several languages, not just one or two, there is also a practical side of this. When traveling, one who can communicate with the locals in another country often finds better deals and pays less. And finds new friends.

My own experiences: I traveled widely, several times to North Africa, Tunisia and Morocco. Besides Arabic, the primary language for visitors is French. Because tourists are highly appreciated income sources for the locals, taxi drivers will often drive you around to markets and stores belonging to one of their relatives. However, if you intended to go elsewhere, you never get there. Communicating in French helps tremendously, to somehow get (“out of there”). Mostly I used the public bus system, being the only European on this bus. Again, language knowledge helped ! When I spent one month in Marrakesh, Morocco, I met up with an Australian lady who always wanted me to tag along, to talk the Arab taxi drivers out of giving us the roundabout through the Souks.

Or, on another trip to several Caribbean islands, one was Saint-Martin, Sint Maarten [ ]. Interesting, one of the few islands shared by two nations – The Netherlands and France. Since I speak also Dutch (and French), no problem. In fact I saved some money. Needed to take a taxi with a nice lady taxi driver, from Philipsburg NL to Saint-Martin, paying much less (then still French francs; today €), when I told her that I don’t have much money on me. While back at Saint-Martin, the American tourists complained about having to spend US$20 for a small taxi trip.

I made many friends in many countries, simply because of my language knowledge. Once, spending three months at the Côte dAzur , Mediterrean, in Cannes, France. First day on a walk met some Russians, who also spoke German (my mother tongue), and amazingly lived in the same city I was born in Germany. World is small indeed !

I do miss traveling a lot, since outbreak of that pandemic. Since 2018 the last time I made a one month trip to Mexico.

1959. A long, long time ago. After having spent one year in London, I returned to a depressed European economy. Returning to my home town (Braunschweig), I was lucky finding employment as Head of the information and documents department with the then DFL (Deutsche Forschunganstalt für Luftfahrt), later became the DLR – Deutsche Luft- und Raumfahrt [ ]. [ ]

Exciting, because all of this would eventually lead to my life long love for the space research and technology field, specializing in information retrieval systems.

By 1961 I left for Munich to work as Head Information department with the ZLDI. Mainly to establish documents databases and information retrieval systems, in cooperation with NASA (US National Aeronautics & Space administration; formerly NACA – 1915-1958). [ ]

In 1965 I left my homeland for The Netherlands, to start work for ESTEC (European Space Research & Technology Centre, Nordwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands. [ ][ ]. The largest center within the newly to form European Space Agency. There I was responsible to establish the first online information retrieval network for the European Space program. Largely in cooperation with NASA, who had already substantial databases of documents. [ ]. 1967 my son was born. I do remember 1969 – the flight to the moon. Because my own husband was still working for ESTEC and he had the chance to be present at one of the collaborative space launch ops at Vandenberg Airforce Base, California [ ]

We left Europe in Fall of 1974. Myself, completing a graduate program in Information Studies (Science and Technology) at Syracuse University, NY, USA. [ ]. After my graduation by Spring 1976, we both ended up in Alberta, Canada. As a result of the 1970s world wide economic depression. No possibilities returning to international professional jobs.

Much later, my son through his studies also got into this very exciting field, by first completing a technical program in Alberta, Canada, then continuing his studies for his Master of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA. [ ].

In Canada, despite having spent most of my professional working life in Alberta’s oil industry and other tech jobs (mostly computer systems development and installation), there is nothing more exciting than the field and subject of aerospace science, technology, and engineering.

When my son still resided in the United States, I visited him a lot. From Alabama we traveled to Mississippi, Louisiana, the Gulf Coast. Alabama – the heartland of the early US rocket programs. Wernher von Braun – instrumental in those early efforts, and very much respected in Huntsville, AL.

[ ]. We visited the Huntsville Space & Rocket Center, Alabama [ ]. These rockets are real. And they are huge – look at the Saturn 5. [ ].

Today I like to keep informed about world wide international space programs. Canada itself is very much involved. {NOTE. In fact I have invested in one of our Canadian space corporations [ ], and subscribing to [ ]

 [NOTE. During this time, not many pictures of wildlife were done, because I was always on the road.]

During the many years living in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada, I learned how to live with wildlife. From 1978 on, when moving from Calgary, a rather large City in Alberta to the Kananaskis Country, South West of Calgary, I had horses and land. Many different properties. First near Bragg Creek, a tiny little hamlet. [ ]. Then, you could afford an acreage, not now anymore. Actually, the Kananaskis Country all the way past Banff is one of the most beautiful, wild, and natural areas in Alberta. [ ]. Living and working from there is a bit different than just visiting as a tourist. I needed to go to work in Calgary for years, in winter sometimes minus 30C, slow going on the roads. There were times that I had to stay in the city after work, because of snow storms. Wildlife abundant. Bears – Grizzly bears, many attacks reported then and still are around this wilderness area. For many years, being a horse person, we also went riding many times in the mountains, I once witnessed the victim of such a Grizzly bear attack. The poor horse – who threw its rider, luckily – had been seriously injured while running away from the bear.

Later on my 80 acres ranch, in the north west of Cochrane – that is west of Calgary – I learned to live with wild life. Each winter of course moose and other. On my property I had black bears, the occasional wolf, the great grey owl (who took my kitten, never seen again), coyotes and cougars in summer. Coyotes are also predators, they will also go for your cats. On my other land further north west, Jamieson Road, 160 acres, I temporary had my horses grazing during summer. Always went riding alone. Good to remember, make yourself heard. Animals are rarely seen, but they sure know you are there. When I saw bear scat – fresh – I quietly and slowly turn some other way.

Grizzly bear. A different story. From Water Valley I had to drive through the bush on my 4 wheel drive truck- no roads – to the saw mill, to pick up lumber. On my way, I see two guys in a truck coming from that direction, white in their face. Must be something there. They were soon gone. I drive on, then see some yellow safety tape around an area – apparently a Grizzly bear had taken down a cow. The wildlife service had put out warnings. I arrive at the saw mill, nobody there. What an eerie feeling that was ! |Wildlife has its space and needs its space and should be respected. Here on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, besides, we have many cougars – mountain lions. They are fantastic, prolific cats who normally mind their own business, until they get annoyed for example by dogs barking, or else surprised by humans. There have been attacks on humans. Myself, in many years, I have had no attack. And I always went alone. Grizzly bears are not to trifle with, don’t even think of ‘standing up’ to them.

What I do not like is to read about “some other young cougars needed to be put down.” Because some person, who normally enjoys to live outside the city, spots one of those cats. Well, then leave them alone ! And take your barking dog inside.

Let’s see what a new US President can do to Canada’s controversial oil industry and in particular TransCanada – with their Keystone XL Pipeline: [ ] [NOTE. TransCanada changing their name multiple times – see also TC Energy Corp : – [ ].

An Insider story – TransCanada.

Pipelines, oil and natural gas, the story of Canada’s primary resource. When I arrived in Alberta in 1976, after having spent years in the United States, among others completing my Master of Science (IST) at Syracuse University, my very first job had been a temporary computer programming assignment for now one of the largest Telecom companies in Canada. [NOTE. Joe Biden – ]. Shortly thereafter I was hired by Alberta’s oil industry. The first of them strongly connected with Canada’s own history – Hudson’s Bay Company; the oil corporation was HBOG – Hudson’s Bay Oil & Gas Co. Does not exist any more. Others along the way were also taken over by large US corporations. Along the way, I worked as System Analyst, Project Leader for large corporate computer systems – hardware and software. I survived – that in itself inside the oil industry – is extremely stressful.

Turn back the clock to the 1980s when TransCanada Pipelines took over Maligne Resources (Dow Chemical), and all employees like myself were now part of the takeover corporation – TransCanada Pipelines/TCPL. The culture within – thinking back – reminds me now of being incarcerated in something like Guantanamo Bay. TransCanada had sent down enforcersfrom their Toronto HQ. to control former employees and work on plans how to reduce the workforce, using asocial tactics and creating illegal firing situations. Resulting in many layoffs, (women first) without even so much as offering pensions for long term employees. The enforcer offered me C$14,000, this after almost ten years in that industry. Yet, I walked out with dozens of high-class Reference letters from employers in the oil industry and others since starting in information systems and computer work in the 1960s, including three from TransCanada Pipelines TCPLmanagement as well the President at that time. Afterwards I survived with computer contracts work until the mid-1990s.

Norovirus primarily spreads through contaminated food. It is very contagious. It can cause a serious disease.

Knowing much more now about virus pandemics and outbreaks, in this case particularly when undertaking a cruise with one of the largest cruise ship lines, the Princess Cruises. This was in September 2015. Embarking from Vancouver across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands. The cruise itself was for 21 days on the Star Princess.

Soon after embarkation at Vancouver a number of passengers started coughing – the kind of cough that brings up your lungs. I had a balcony, my neighbor to my left was the first to cough. Couple of days later, my neighbor to the right of me started. Then more and more passengers got sick.

This had been a viral outbreak, possibly already arriving with the Start Princess from a previous voyage, before arriving in Vancouver. I complained officially at the Customer Services Desk, request that I like to use my balcony without being coughed at by both sides. No reaction. Throughout this voyage a large number of guests fell quite ill. Dining rooms started empty out. But entertainment went on, allowing guests to congregate in groups.

On 27 September the first health advisory report was issued by Dr. Grant Tarling, Chief Medical Officer, referring to (simple) cold and fly symptoms,and giving out advice how to protect yourself. In addition to the hundreds of (Alcohol-based) hand sanitizing stations throughout the ship. On 30 September 2015 the second health advisory report was issued to all guests, strongly suggesting an outbreak of Norovirus.

[ ]. Measures were put in place to protect open food buffets, allowing the crew to handle foods with gloves.

Of multiple posts on this particular voyage, this strikes me

[ ] as underestimating the severity of a particularly nasty outbreak of respiratory and gastro-intestinal disease on the Star Princess.

On the ship throughout the voyage I was not sick. Returning back to Vanvouver, arriving Cruise Ship Terminal, on October 4h, 2015. From Vancouver, the trip back home to Victoria, Vancouver Island, spending many hours by bus and ferry to finally return home, I was still OK. Until the next day after my return, that nasty virus got hold of me and I was sick for weeks. This type of virus is difficult to fight, because is is the immune system that needs to take care of it. Miraculously I had survived this.


My observations on this ship: Guests were still coughing into their hands. Using the Internet room and touching keyboards, or coughing freely into the air surrounding them. Or seafood and fruits being served which might or might not have been infected. Because of the fact that the disease started immediately upon embarkation, it can strongly be suspected that the Norovirus was already present when the voyage started. From a financial point of view, it is bad business to purchase a cruise for around $5,000 which includes not only a nice cabin with balcony, food, swimming pools, entertainment of all sorts, but also (hidden) a dangerous viral infestation.

{BTW – I never had any experience like this in my life.} [ ]

[ ]


1976 US Bicentennial travel with our Hobomobil*

PART 1 – From Alberta south to USA mid-west

Traveling with my little son in our old what I call Hobomobil* (a vehicle serving as a home, for decent temporary traveling folks; vs. hobomobile=Google app) square back Volkswagen. For the purpose of obtaining a Landed Immigrant visa for Canada. [See also my previous posts on 1975 travel during summer vacation from Syracuse University, taking a Greyhound Bus across USA.]

1976 is an important year for the United States, (their Bicentennial), having a history since 1776 and celebrating the most important events, which led to the US forming and their constitution, and – 4th of July 1776 – the Declaration of Independence. [ ]. I had come from Europe to the United States in fall of 1974 for my graduate program at Syracuse University. At that time I did not know much about US history. It was only coincidental that we (myself and my little son) would be there during this important period in time and history.

Likewise, not knowing at that time that my son after leaving Alberta, Canada, would also return to the USA, Alabama and later Washington, DC, for his own graduate studies. And then in 1990 return to his homeland Holland.

Back to my story – 1976, the year we arrived in Canada in Spring, on my expired US student visa. Having traveled in my VW for weeks to arrive in Edmonton, Alberta, staying with a friend. Someone who saw my vehicle (NY State license plate), turned me in to Immigration. Normally one has to return to ones home country to apply from there for a Canadian Landed Immigrant visa.

Impossible ! Somehow, with the help of another friend there, and some sort of job offer, I could return to the United States, to apply for the Canadian Visa and wait it out there. We took the opportunity, being it was summer, to just travel around. From state to state, during the US Bicentennial. Lots of celebrations, you might think ? Not so much. The nearest Canadian Consulate I chose was Minneapolis, Minnesota.

My old VW Hobomobil, our temporary home, in which we traveled, lived, slept, cooked, and accumulated a lot of stuff as souvenirs. Alone, on campgrounds, or just driving till late into the night, meeting others in similar or same positions. This old car did not even have an air conditioning system – summers sometimes high up into the 30C. All “road” people nice to us, even a group of Hells Angels motor cycle guys, met on the road during a heavy rain storm, waiting it out under a bridge.

[The pictures are from scanned images, previously slides]


9/11 World Trace Center Towers New York City Terrorist Attack

where were you ? I remember exactly where I was. This was September 9 in the year 2001. I had a Doctor’s appointment in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Walking the city I passed by a TV and electronics shop. Standing in front of the large store window and watching LIVE news. What do I see ? The plane plowing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Wow !

Coincidentally, that same year, August 2001 we (my son and I) had visited New York City, to celebrate my birthday. Traveling by Amtrak train from Washington, DC (where my son worked and lived) to New York City. Stayed in a hotel at Central Park. The evening we went out to visit the sites: Little Italy, the Russian Cafe, Times Square, Broadway, at night watching the musical Les Miserables, and hanging out. That was August that same year. From Washington DC I then returned to Alberta August 14th. Then came September 2001 and 9/11.

Next year in January 2002 we went one more time to New York City (from DC), with the elevator up the Chrysler Building, try see the sight – Ground Zero. At that time it was still all sooty and smelly and hazy, and no more World Trade Center Towers to see.


2020 the best year of my life, with a world wide pandemic, virus here, there and everywhere. What’s a person to do to have at least a feeling of a social life, especially if you are alone. Often I go out (in fact daily) for a walk, or take my bicycle, to the park, sit down, have a coffee. Better, yet, sit somewhere in one of the newly created outdoor cafes. Even sitting alone at a table feels better than sitting alone at home. YUK !

Coffee for many years has become an important part of my traveling life. In Europe, and on the continent. Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island: Although I have not tested all cafes, some are good, some not so, some are too expensive for the quality of coffee.

A decent cup for C$2.00 is pretty good. Murchies, 100 year old pattissery and eating place downtown. Not bad. Crust Bakery on Fort C$ around 2.00, also, but must sit outside, lots of street traffic. Other places (being that Starbucks closed down a lot) can go anywhere from C$2.50 to even over C$up to 4.00. Too expensive. My Italian shop in Victoria, on Blanchard, has the best Italian imports, everything (dozens of different panettones during Xmas season), and also a little corner cafe to sit. Regular coffee not so strong, espresso, Americano good. Prices good. [Reminds me of my Panettoni story: During Xmas 2015 went to Italy, from Cannes, bought a big Italian Panettoni, took it home to Canada in my suitcase.]. Yet, nothing beats a good Weihnachtsstollen.

While traveling in France, spending three months in Cannes, Mediterranean, ordering a coffee/cafe would always mean tiny cute little Espresso, good, but one shot. Netherlands, where I worked and lived for eight years is different again: You want to find a Cafe to sit down for a coffee ? Unless you intend to smoke pot or get some cannabis, those places are the ones. Real cafes bakeries for a coffee and dessert are bakeries (bakkerij patisserie). Germany, Berlin: There is a tiny historically old section, the Nikolaiviertel, one can sit down outside, have wonderful coffee, mostly coffee implies a little can, and have a cake. [Founded about 1200, the Nikolaiviertel of Alt-Berlin, together with the neighbouring settlement of Cölln, is the reconstructed historical heart of the German capital Berlin.]

St. Petersburg, Russia, is huge, a wonderful city. Near the Neva strolling along the Nevsky Prospect down to the landing dock for ships going to Finland, found a nice little restaurant, have a coffee. Good.

[Every morning I make my own cappuccino in my old-fashioned Italian Espresso machine.]. Continue enjoy, as long as you look at each other from the distance.

Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede – “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”.

Turning the time back to the 1960s – long time ago, when I was still in Europe. Over there we did not know much about Canada, only all there is to know about the USA. Remnants of Word War 2.

However, when I was still a teenager I was heavy into horses (riding) and crazy about cowboys and the entire rodeo culture. Though I did not know a thing about Canada then, already I knew about the Calgary Stampede. The only thing I know about Canada.

Ending up here (44 years ago) I would never have dreamed about. Ending up in and near Calgary and working in Alberta for almost 30 years, and living and breathing the rodeo, horses and cowboy culture (having had many horses myself, trained, shown), is a good memory of times past.

Of course, this year, that (damned) year of 2020 and that virus pandemic, for the first time ever in over 100 years, the Calgary Stampede did not happen. Made me cry.

Today is the last day : – the Finals Sunday. I watch every day, Calgary Stampede 2019.