Sunday, May 31, 2015

What A Bummer!

Have you ever forgotten your marriage anniversary? That is if indeed you are married.
I can say that I have remembered it every year,

But not this year!

Was Bea dismayed by it?

No! She didn’t remember it either. But then this morning Bea had an email in her browser, congratulating us to this day.  We laughed and couldn’t believe that we both had forgotten OUR day. 28 years have passed with a lot of fun, with incredible journeys, with excitement but also with grey days nobody likes to remember.

May 30 is also the day when we arrived in Canada in 2002.

We often think of so many younger couples, their marriages ending after a short time before a judge, and we understand how blessed we have been.

We are so looking forward to every new year we can enjoy together.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Stranded Powerless

It was one of those days where I wished I had stayed in bed. And it was Friday as well, though not the 13th.
I had been dispatched on a run up north and was back with 12 passengers who all were eager to get to the big city, where one or the other business was waiting for them.
We were happily crusin’ down the highway when suddenly I felt a significant loss of power in my MCI coach. In fact I noticed we were just merely coasting with no motor power whatsoever.
Realizing something was very wrong I steered the bus onto a rather narrow shoulder where it rolled another few meters before it stopped entirely.

Any further attempt to re-start the engine was answered with an eerie quite. Flipping on my hazard lights didn’t bring any reaction either.

We had broken down with absolutely no electric power. Checking head lights I was greeted with the faintest glow. I remembered that I had been in a similar situation many years ago with an older motor home we owned at the time. Most likely our alternator had quit working.
Now, it was pure luck that we had cell phone reception, which, in these northern wilderness parts can be tricky at times. I managed to alert the company from where we were promised help would arrive in three ways: A tow truck would be dispatched, a company bus would be starting on the 2hr.-run from the city and another (school)bus would be dispatched from the other direction up north.
So, the race for rescuing us was on.

It turned out to be the race of snails. Time was ticking by, and my cell phone would ring every so often to inform us about rescue progress.

I had to do something to keep my passengers happy so I told them a story. It was the story of a hiker in the wilderness who got to a river he had to cross. Without any fort or bridge in sight, he started to search upriver for a way to get across. Pretty soon he found an Indian sitting by a fire boiling water for coffee. Down by the river he had a canoe.
So the hiker, who is from a big city in the south, asks the Indian whether he would get him across the river in his canoe.

The Indian says sure, but is just about pouring himself a coffee. The hiker sits down on a tree stump and waits. After the longest time and many coffee cups later the hiker gets to his feet asking whether the Indian could now get down to business and get him across the river. “Soon” is the Indian’s answer, as he lights up a cigarette. Hiker sits down again. A few cigarettes later the hiker is making another attempt of getting the Indian to ferry him across the water. But now some impatience has sneaked into his voice, so the Indian notices.

When the Indian finally turns around he says to the hiker: “If you are in such a hurry, why didn’t you come yesterday?”

Yes, why didn’t I drive the day before? Or the next day? 
After 3 hrs. a school bus and the tow truck, a huge semi, arrived from the north at the same time. Meanwhile, the other bus coming from the south had received order to turn back to the city.

We all arrived Edmonton very, very tired at 11:30pm. 1 gentleman missed his flight, another missed his Greyhound connection out west. But I guess all were happy as can be to get off the road.

And the “Picture of the Day”:


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Telus World Of Science

20150525_114725Another bus trip went to another Edmonton attraction: The Telus World Of Science, Undoubtedly financed by overcharging Canadian phone subscribers for decades. (Telus=telecommunications company) But at least the money spent was used for something useful – the further education of our youth for understanding complex scientific happenings in our world and history.
20150525_114517 20150525_11493520150525_124254
The center is nestled in a park-like setting along 142 Street and attracts immediate attention by its futuristic architectural design. 
It was already a hot day when we arrived after a 3hr. bus ride. And our bus was not the only one at the center entrance. Kids from all over the province were waiting in a big pile-up to get through the entrance. The center boasts a number of exhibitions, an IMAX Theatre and an observatory.

While my group were exploring the inner makings of the center I had to kill 3 hrs waiting for them to re-emerge. I had parked the bus in rear of the parking lot and with no shade available the interior was heating up rapidly. So I fled the bus and retreated with a book onto a park bench, still in the shade of some blooming trees.
When it was time for lunch I crossed the street and found a Quiznos lunch place were I got a Turkey Ranch and Swiss sandwich and a coke. That’s almost 10 bucks in this city. I went back to my bench devouring my food, occasionally watching 2 other drivers who were hanging around their coaches. Eventually they would leave for Quiznos themselves.

Buses waiting in the hot sun

I read some more in my book, but finally the sun bathed my bench and the temps rose to be beyond my comfort. So, I put my book away closed the bus door and went across the street a second time to huddle for the last hour in a coffee place. Their coffee was Starbucks-style – bitter and without any good coffee aroma.
Finally, it was time to get back to the entrance. Of course, again, my bus wasn’t the only one. Also, a water truck occupied the circle driveway in front of the entrance, blocking access until he finally moved on a 100 feet so I could pass and sneak my way along 3 other buses parked on the side. Whoever planned that circular driveway was not a bus driver!!!
Last stop on this trip was a McDonald where our kids spent the better part of half an hour to take in their favorite food: BURGERS.
After 900kms I was back in the city a second time at 9:30pm, dropped off the bus and went home to Bea and a late supper.

Friday, May 22, 2015

And All This Is Going On

If you were thinking that no postings on this blog would mean that nothing is going on, you could not be more mistaken.
I don’t even know where to begin.
How about with my last posting showing a bus being threatened by a dinosaur?  Yes, the place was Drumheller, Alberta. Of course! Nowhere else people can climb up into a giant like this like it was the Statue of Liberty.

Driving bus is still my occupation and I enjoy it a lot, especially when the cold air masses have vanished giving room for some nice warm summer days. Today’s temps reached 26C (80.6F) and for the first time I was wandering around in shorts. I can do that if I have the day off, right?
Doors and windows are left wide open and the furnace is suspended from job!

Well, let me tell you about yesterday. I was out at an Indian Reservation picking up the smallest of all students at their elementary school. And I got about 30 of the cutest girls and boys into my bus. Everybody was dressed Sunday-style, the girls with coloured hats and small handbags. It simply was a lot of fun. And where did we go? 

           To the ZOO!

Edmonton has a small but very nice zoo located in the river valley. The sun was shining out of a cloudless sky and it was almost too hot to do the walk-around.
As a driver I got in without a ticket and this time I had my NIKON DSL with me.
When I walked into the Elephant’s house the space was empty. A sign informed visitors that he was gone for a walk. But even outside I couldn’t find him. He must have taken a walk to town.
The zoo has a tiger, a snow-leopard, lynx, (sleeping at the time) and many other exotic animals. Of course most kids like the monkeys. Maybe because they can jump so nicely from one branch to the other, and maybe because they resemble humans…???
At least I could now cancel my trip to City Hall, where I suppose a lot of monkeys can be found.
DSC_0195 DSC_0196
On the Provincial level we got a hot debate about whether raised minimum wage would “hurt” the economy. Yes, yes….reps of the hospitality industry are now stepping up to claim that raised minimum wages of $15/hr. by 2018 will do immense damage.

How so? 

Wouldn’t higher wages have to be paid by every employer? And aren’t business leaders aware of that raised wages are part of product price calculation?  And aren’t the same people aware of that a raised income will result in more consumer spending? And isn’t consumer spending incidental and crucial to making a good revenue?

So why are these business owners whining?
Shut up folks and read up about Henry Ford. He knew how solid incomes could help HIS business of selling tin lizzies to his workers.
Yes, one doesn’t have to be a professor or rocket scientist to understand this. Just being a little less blocked in the head would go a long way.

Strangely, gas station owners can raise their gas prices with 12 cts./LITER in one night.

For our American friends, that’s 45cts/gal!!!
So, do their employees are earning more from today on?  Dream on!

And following the evening news I just learned that yet another OSB-built (commonly called: plywood) apartment complex is going up in flames. As Europeans we have always been wondering how it can be legal to build multi-family housing (and huge hotels) out of cheap OSB sheets.
Apparently all of the city’s fire crews are currently trying to douse the flames. Of course, they won’t succeed. But maybe they can prevent the fire from spreading to the next complex.
And speaking of fires, a lot of forest and grass fires are currently burning in the province. Fire crews have even arrived from Ontario to help out.

Bea and I are seriously preparing for departure to New Brunswick. I still hope we can start the migration on June 7. Should be able to invite some friends to our porch for coffee and ice cream on my 63. birthday on June 15.
So I guess, there you have it. At least most of it.

Thanks for dropping by!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Congratulations NORWAY!

It’s May 17 again and Norway’s National Day. Celebrations are going on everywhere in the country and where ever Norwegians live in the world.
may 17-02
may 17-01                                        May 17 in Oslo

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Day After

It kept snowing most of the day, though by 5pm it had turned to slush and then rain. Clearing night skies made for freezing temperatures and when watching the morning news reports of road carnage were streaming in. Stupid big-city drivers had caused accidents all around the city and traffic was backed up just about everywhere. I really wonder where some people have their thoughts when they get behind the wheel on a morning like today.
Edmonton has still a solid layer of snow in the open terrain, but when I yesterday drove 15kms west of the city Spruce Grove people were gawking at the snow cover on my van. Spruce Grove had no snow at all. I really wonder how snow-laden clouds could linger over the city for so long.

It is also the day after election and media have started asking questions about how the new Alberta government is going to interact with the business world. First comments from business leaders have confirmed my expectations that big oil is going to try to blackmail this new government into making concessions to the industry. Of course, giving in to that would equal political suicide and I don’t think that the NDP will go for that.
One of the most interesting points on their agenda is the long overdue increase of minimum wages to $15/hr. Alberta would be the first province in Canada to reach out to workers, especially in the notoriously exploitive food-and hospitality industry.
If the increase in minimum wages becomes reality it will have consequences for the other provinces as well and could lead to interesting Canada-wide discussions.
It’s sure going to be an interesting year.

Thanks for dropping by!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Unbelievable Thing Happened

Yesterday was election day in Alberta and it was the most exciting day since Pres. Obama was elected for office.
For 44 years Alberta has been governed by the Progressive Conservative Party (PC).

Yesterday was their last day.
Resigning from the public:
Jim Prentice
20150506_073350Albertans had decided that they wanted CHANGE. And they elected the New Democratic Party (NDP) with Rachel Notley as their next Premier. It was a ground shaking event bringing the NDP to a solid majority in Parliament.

Alberta’s Premier elect:
Rachel Notley
20150506_080158Not only, lost the PC against the NDP but even the controversial “Wild Rose Party” defeated the long-time Dynasty of the corruption-ridden “Good-Old Boys-Party” and will now be the official opposition, putting the shriveling PC to the third rank in parliament.
Hopefully, the change will mark the end of “free-give-aways” to the oil- and gas industry. Ever since the price of oil plunged through several floors into the basement, the Alberta public economy has suffered huge losses. The PC failed on the proposal of a budget making up for the losses by letting Albertans pay for it, instead of increasing corporate taxes.

An increase of royalties to the oil industry may also be entering the debate.
Symbolic to the defeat of the PC-Party the weather has turned to create wintry conditions once again. Looking through my window I see drifting snow and a very grey sky. It is freezing cold –1C (31F) and traffic advisors are announcing white-out conditions on the highways.

It has now been snowing for 3-4hrs and we are having 15cm (6”) of accumulated snow on the ground. A fierce wind is producing higher snow drifts.
What a day!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wintry Driving Conditions Just A Tad North

I had to re-check today’s date, but the calendar confirmed that we had May 5 – 2015. I was watching the morning news and there was the weather guy, who in his nice humorous mood tried to sell us the fact that we are looking at  another return of winter for May 06. From today’s 20C (68F) we are gonna race down to tomorrow’s single digit temperature of 4C for the city. But looking just a tad farther to the north people will see 10-15cm (4-6”) of snow!
Now that is a real bummer when most people have already rigged up BBQs and garden furniture outside. Indeed, over the last 3-4 days trees have sprouted green leaves just about everywhere. Every time we experience another come-back of winter we hope it’ll be the last for the season, yet mother nature has a surprise for us.

As crazy as that might seem, it is not unheard of in this province. Talking to old-timers, we learn that snow has graced this country in every month of the calendar.

Enjoy the weather!