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Archiv 2008

12/31/2008, Wednesday, 19:24, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Imagine Peace...!
Another year over...

From our window we have a look on the Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island, Reykjavik. It is a memorial to John Lennon from his widow, Yoko Ono. It consists of a tall "tower of light" and the power for the lights is provided by Iceland's geothermal energy grid. The tower lit every year from October 9th, Lennon's birthday, through December 8th, the date he was shot. And it is lit for New Year’s Eve today, too.

Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island, Reykjavik,
from our window

Happy Christmas
(War is over)

John Lennon

“So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over over
If you want it
War is over

We wish you all a happy, healthy, successful
and peaceful New Year
with wise decisions and some fun as well!
We hope you can make your wishes come true!


12/30/2008, Tuesday, 17:16, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

What do you want to teach your opponent’s children?

You are a teacher. Children (and adults) learn by experiencing your actions and the consequences of your actions. So you are a teacher - if you want to or not. You teach your own children. And you teach your opponent’s children, too.
So if you have to make decisions which influence your opponent’s live, have in mind what his children learn from and about you.
Do you really want to teach them to be afraid of you, maybe even hate you? Or do you want to teach them that you are an honourable neighbour who is able to solve conflicts in a non-violent, intelligent way?

When they grew up, based upon which education would you like them to make decisions which could influence your own children’s live?

So be a responsible teacher for your own children and your opponent’s children as well.


12/26/2008, Friday, 17:24, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Kind of surreal

Did I mention before that I like ships? (Yes, yes, I know...) We went for our traditional Christmas excursion to the harbour of Reykjavik where we haven’t been so far. It was like wandering around in a film set - somehow fascinating...
... kind of surreal - especially when we got a sudden heavy hailstorm and the Icelandic coast guard marched past.


12/25/2008, Thursday, 12:55, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

O Christmas Spirit, where art thou?

I somehow don’t get it this year - the Christmas Spirit...
It started when they removed the Halloween decoration from the shops in Ottawa and replaced it with Christmas decoration within one night. And it go worse in Boston where we got an overdose Christmas songs at the airport waiting for our connection flight. When my eyeballs turned into different directions and had the strong desire to jump out to stick into my ears I knew, Christmas spirit could be a challenge for me this year.

Please understand me right, I love the idea of Christmas! Friends and families coming together, having a peaceful and enjoyable time together after spending some time to think about what would make their loved ones the most happy. I really like that!
And I definitely have a very special personal relationship to Santa Clause!

Anyway when I was on my search of an unusual picture for our Christmas cards and this one of an nuclear explosion at the Christmas Island got the biggest part of my attention I was almost sure: Maybe I somehow don’t get it this year - the Christmas Spirit...


12/24/2008, Wednesday, 12:25, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #13

The last Yule Lad Kertasníkir (Candle-Beggar) arriving today fancies candle lights and follows children in order to steal their candles which were made of dripping and thus edible.

And some days ago we have really even seen Santa in Reykjavik! (Or it was a Yule Lad dressed up to have easier access to whatever he desires).
Anyway he drove away with his four-wheel-drive all-terrain reindeer.

And I found some nice pictures and information from Christmas around the world here: Christmas worldwide!


12/23/2008, Tuesday, 22:57, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #12

Ketkrókur (Meat-Hook) likes smoked lamb very much and uses a hook to steal meat from the stove through the chimney.
During the last days it was not easy for the Yule Lads (or anybody else) to find their ways... Maybe that’s the reason why we haven’t seen many of the Yule Lads so far.
Now we got “a little” rain and the best (or only) choice is to swim to your destination... Poor Giljagaur!


12/22/2008, Monday, 20:21, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Asmundur Sveinsson at the Asmundarsafn Reykjavik Art Museum

We visited one of Reykjavik’s Art museums and had a look at the work of Asmundur Sveinsson. Very impressive! I really don’t say that often, so this is a rare opportunity to hear it - or read it: If I would have an own living room, I would like some of his art in it!
Now you know what I want for Christmas, Santa - if it is the living room or the art is up to you!
(Just kidding - you already know what would make me happy!)

the “Bon Voyage”

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #11

Today we wait for the arrival of Gáttaþefur (Door-Sniffer) who has an abnormally large and very sensitive nose and an acute sense of smell which he uses to locate all kinds of things, especially food, standing in doorways of houses.


12/21/2008, Sunday, 17:12, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #10

Yule Lad Gluggagægir (Window-Peeper or Peeping Tom) is extremely curious. He is a voyeur who would look through windows in search of things to steal and makes faces to scare the children.
Perhaps they would like Santa more... At least they are well-educated (12/11/2008, 12:56).


12/20/2008, Saturday, 16:18, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #9

Because of his constant hunger today’s Yule Lad Bjúgnakrækir (Sausage-Swiper or Sausage-Picker) hides in the rafters and snatch sausages that were being smoked.
And I think this nice guy is on his search of Yule Lad #2, Giljagaur, who should be around since several days now. Or is it maybe Giljagaur himself?


12/19/2008, Friday, 18:27, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

“Walking” in a winter-wonder-world

Got some snow ... gasp ... had got to go to the supermarket ... gasp ... on the way ... gasp ... had to play... gasp ... a bit ... gasp ... are home now again ... gasp ... need higher boots...

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #8

Skyrgámur (Skyr-Gobbler) has an affinity for gourmet food and steals skyr (an Icelandic cultured dairy product, a type of fresh cheese) from the larders.


12/18/2008, Thursday, 16:42, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #7

Today arrives Hurðaskellir (Door-Slammer) who hides in dark corners and likes to tease the people and slams doors, especially during the night to wake everybody up.

And the nights are looong here in these days!

Today’s sun rose at 11:20 AM (!) and we had something they call “daylight” for a bit more than 4 hours which we couldn’t see because it was snowing that much. And it is not even the “shortest” day! But we know the moonlight pretty well now - and snow - what is kind of romantic....
Click here for
Reykjavik, Iceland Sunrise, sunset, dawn and dusk times!


12/17/2008, Wednesday, 19:40, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

That is Iceland..., Part 2

Hey, we have an underfloor heating for our parking spot! Never have had that before! Ok, we don’t have a car, but the heating is cool - or better: hot!
And it doesn’t even cost lots of energy because there is plenty of hot water coming form the boreholes. And because it is used to heat the walkways in Reykjavik here and there, too, walking around in wintertime is much saver!

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #6

Next Yule Lad is Askasleikir (Bowl-Licker). He hides under beds waiting for someone to put down their 'askur' (a type of bowl with a lid), which he then steals. He always arrives late to get to the food rests left by the children and finish the food from their bowls.


12/16/2008, Tuesday, 23:33, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #5

Pottaskefill (Pot-Scraper or Pot-Cleaner) is the 5th Yule Lad. He steals leftovers from pots and consumes the burnt layers of food from the pots and leaves them shining clean...


12/15/2008, Monday, 23:32, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

“Still Canadian...” or/and “Supermarkets are scary places...”

our way to the supermarket

  • Visit of Reykjavik supermarket, first try

Ok, keep in mind that we spent 12 months in Canada... There is still a lot Canadian behaviour in the back of our brains - probably more than we realized in Canada.
So we Canadians don’t touch someone we don’t know! Never! And if someone crosses our way in a wide aisle of a supermarket we look at a shelve as if there is the most interesting discovery in it - till she/he could comfortably go her/his way. And if we really have to come closer than 1.5m to someone, we say “Sorry!” and smile. Always! Yes, always!

So the first visit in one of Reykjavik’s supermarkets was a kid of culture-shock. Just in the vegetable section I was touched more often than I was in the last couple of years. Not mean or unfriendly, just ... a bit ... um... pushy. I was ... a bit ... um ... surprised. Maybe the narrow aisles are a reason for all the pushing. Andreas told me later that when he had tried to have a look at the potatoes he suddenly was almost diving into them because “someone wanted to have a look at the carrots...”

Well, we will get used to it...


  • Visit of Reykjavik supermarket, second try

The second time I was equipped with a shopping basket - a popular push-device. Brave I carried it into the vegetable-device. And, yes, this time was better. Maybe it was because I was holding my basket awkwardly over some boxes with apples to keep it and me out of the way of busy buyers, or because I was murmuring “Laukur...” while trying to figure out some prices... But I was smiled at - twice! And moreover, someone really said “Sorry!” for pushing me - ok, maybe because I excused myself for staying in his way so he had to push...

But anyway it is getting better somehow!

And we learned that the physical comfortable distance for Icelander is very, very little! Maybe that’s because they like each other that much, or it has another very important interpersonal positive aspect. It just takes a bit getting used to - we are adaptive.

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #4

Today came Þvörusleikir (Spoon-Licker or Ladle-Licker) who is extremely thin due to malnutrition. He concentrates on finding pots with something well tasting and licks the ladles.
Maybe he is afraid of Icelandic supermarkets... or is suffering from the financial crisis as so many Icelanders.


12/14/2008, Sunday, 21:44, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

My wonderful first Hasi-Day in Iceland...!

We spent a very, very nice day at the Perlan, a landmark building here in Reykjavik. The pulchritudinous (learned a new descriptive vocabulary) view from the viewing deck on the fourth floor let us almost forget that is was -7°C chilling cold. And Öskjuhlíð,  the park around,  has good chances to climb the ladder of my happy places. Oh, and we have seen our first geyser there, too!

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #3

Yule Lad of the day is Stúfur (Stump or Stubby) who is abnormally short. He steals pans to eat the crust left on them and is extremely attracted to the contents of the kitchens, and does not miss a chance to snatch something to eat.


12/13/2008, Saturday, 17:57, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #2

Today’s Yule Lad is Giljagaur (Gully Gawk) who hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity to rush for the cowshed and steal milk.
Hm, the best gullies to hide in I have seen were in Dartmouth, Canada. I didn’t try it by myself but the entries were huge and provided a comfortable entry and exit. But not a lot cows there. So it has advantages and disadvantages, Giljagaur.


12/12/2008, Friday, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Icelandic Christmas tradition: The Yule Lads, #1

Iceland has its Christmas tradition all of its own. Instead of Santa we will be visited by the Yule Lads this year! The Yule Lads originate from Icelandic folklore.

They are traditionally said to be the sons of the mountain-dwelling horrible hag Grýla and the troll Leppalúði. Additionally, the Yule Lads are often depicted with the Yuletide Cat, a beast that, according to folklore, eats children that don't receive new clothes in time for Christmas.

The Yule Lads were originally portrayed as being mischievous, or even criminal, pranksters that would steal from, or in other way harass the population. During the Advent, they come down from the mountain, one a day, until Christmas Eve. Then they return one by one.

In modern times the Yule Lads have been depicted as taking on a more benevolent role comparable to Santa Claus and other related figures and putting small gifts (or potatoes if the child has misbehaved) into shoes placed by children into their windows the last thirteen nights before Christmas Eve.
That might explain the
potatoes which protesters placed in front of Iceland’s Parliament a few days ago.

So today the first Yule Lad to arrive in civilized areas is Stekkjastaur (Sheep-Cote Clod) who heads directly for the sheep cot to have fun with harassing the sheep, but is impaired by his stiff peg-legs. I haven’t seen him so far, maybe not enough sheep around.

Gorgeous moonrise in Reykjavik

Here are some pictures I took from the full moon rising over the mountains a few minutes ago. It was just beautiful!

Pink hopping in Iceland

This singing-hopping-and-clapping-event in Kringlan, Iceland’s second biggest shopping mall, made my day today, um... yesterday. Very cute!


12/11/2008, Thursday, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Our Human Rights event

Our celebration of the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights event in the WGS-School was a big success! Hundreds of presents were given away and we got a great feedback!


UNICEF’s Study about early childhood education

A league table of early childhood education and care in economically advanced countries shows that Iceland reached the second place after Sweden with 9 out of 10 benchmarks achieved!

“This Report Card discusses the opportunities and risks involved in the child care transition, and proposes internationally applicable benchmarks for early childhood care and education – a set of minimum standards for protecting the rights of children in their most vulnerable and formative years.
The table below shows which countries are currently meeting the suggested standards, and summarizes this first attempt to evaluate and compare early childhood services in the 25 OECD countries in which data have been collected.”
UNICEF, The child care transition, Innocenti Report Card 8, 2008
UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, 2008


12/09/2008, Tuesday, 17:57, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Happy Birthday,
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights!

The 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights occurs tomorrow, on December 10, 2008.

For some people it is a question of rights, and for some of us a question of duties.
So I say: If all of us consider the realization of the Human Rights as our personal Human Duty, we can change the world to the better!
Worth a try, isn’t it?

Eleanor Roosevelt holding the
United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish

Read more:

P.S.: When you come around the WGS-School tomorrow, you will find some presents from us for you to celebrate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights! Enjoy!


12/08/2008, Monday, 11:39, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

“That is Iceland...!”

Whenever we arrive in a new home the first thing we do is to clean the whole room to feel a bit more “at home”. That’s what we did here too. But when we turned the tap on we were surprised by a very “unpleasant” smell. Then we left the hot (and I mean hot!) water running for a while in the hope that it would clean the drain a bit and the smell would clear away. It didn’t... So Andreas went down to ask the nice lady who did the check-in with us for some “serious cleaning agents” while I was trying not to move away from the open window. I was contemplating her statement that this would be drinkable water...

He tried to talk in a very silent voice so surrounding people couldn’t hear - not to embarrass her on her first day.
“The sink smells a little bit ... disgusting... Maybe I have to use an hard... extreme... cleaning stuff...” She smiled, he looked confused.
Trying to restrain a laughter she asked “Does it smell like rotten eggs?“.
And on his “” she answered with an introducing gesture “That is Iceland...!”

At least she could console us a bit with the declaration that the water is “geothermal water...”

Later on our cleaning tour we found a label which reinforced her explanation. And the water even really seems to be drinkable... And after some research in the internet we found that it is probably one of the cleanest, healthiest world-wide...

And a relation-tip-side-note: Never ever look at your spouse as if she / he would have had a hot shower in Iceland! Think at rose-scented spring-flowers! Come on, you can do it! Try harder!


12/05/2008, Friday, 12:55, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Some social studies

Here are two studies I found which might be interesting for you. Both have advocates and critics - so form your own opinion about them and use whatever you can use.


12/04/2008, Thursday, 20:37, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Awesome coast of Reykjavik

Today we went for a little walk and found this rough beautiful spot:


12/03/2008, Wednesday, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Convention on Cluster Munitions

More than 100 nations have subscribed to the Declaration of the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions.

“Countries that ratify the convention are obliged "never under any circumstances to":

(a) Use cluster munitions;
(b) Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions;
(c) Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.


German Handball in Iceland...?!

Ok, after almost 70 TV channels in Canada the 7 in Reykjavik are a little less, especially because two of them seem to show religious shows or test pattern without exception. Additional there is one British news channel broadcasting international news.
But there are three channels which broadcast US shows and series and sometimes good movies - in English with Icelandic subtitles - very useful! Probably that’s an explanation why so many Icelander speak such a good English.
Aaand there is the sport channel which broadcasted ... tatah ... German Handball! “Die Woche - Handball kompakt”! We couldn’t believe our eyes! So if you ever wanted so watch the game between Hamburger SV vs Flensburg Something or Minden vs Großwallstadt explained by an Icelandic commentator, yesterday was your chance! Very strange!
                                      Hamburger SV...!


12/02/2008, Tuesday, 18:41, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland

Very little, tiny, short review...

After one year of Canada we spent some time for a personal review. How did this first year of travel changed us? What did we learn in which city? Which were the good and which the bad experiences? And what did we like best? Maybe we should write a book...!

Anyway, here is my new personal, very incomplete, but completely undemocratic and absolutely undiplomatic comparison of the cities we have lived in:

(5 = great, 1 = poor, between = between)



Halifax / Dart.

St Ste.



people caring about each other






people taking care of themselves






average relaxation of people






people singing in supermarkets






nature nearby












wild animals






dog education / behaviour






weather (general)






quality and quantity of public art






shopping possibilities and general friendliness of staff






public transportation












general loveliness












And some final pictures...:

my best Indian Summer picture

symbol of silence in Ottawa

my happy place in Ottawa

We will be back!


12/01/2008, Monday, 15:40, Meike, Reykjavik, Iceland


Travel rough, arrival save... (again)

So it is done, we survived another emigration!

with a heavy heart waiting for the taxi

getting rid of the snow at the airport of Ottawa - Canadian style

After 1:20 hours delay our tiny plane arrived from Quebec. The good-humoured stewardess announces via speaker that two planes were broken and they had to run... I like to hear those things - after we landed!

snowy Canada from above

And I would call our approach for a landing kind of rough. I lost contact to my seat three times...! More than I ordered...

At this point I felt much better...

Andreas in Boston waiting for the connecting flight

me in Boston
(chin is still healing, see 11/06/2008)

And when I saw the covering next to my seat in the Icelandair plane
I wanted the two broken planes from Air Canada back...!

first view on the mountains of ...

Reykjavic, Iceland!

Yay, it was worth it!

(And nobody sent in a correct guess for our “Where do we go next - Quiz”. Most frequent given answer was Tokyo. Maybe next time.)


11/23/2008, Sunday, 21:54, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Where do we go next - Quiz

Even if we feel so much welcome here in Canada, we will leave soon... Here is a new tip for you:

  • People around us will celebrate Christmas pretty much different from people celebrating Christmas around us in the last years...! That will be quite interesting!


11/21/2008, Friday, 19:12, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Honourable e-mail

Two days after publishing here that we would leave Canada we got a very friendly and surprising e-mail from the Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, with among others information about possibilities of immigration to Canada! That is so, so sweet!

And since you are brave reader of our blog you have to live with two more of my tree pictures.
To warm hearts - we had chilling Wind Chill -16°C yesterday evening...


11/18/2008, Tuesday, 21:57, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Where do we go next - Quiz

Actually we had no no correct answers on our quiz so far! Seems to be a challenge! So here is the first hint:

  • It is a city on the coast.

There are some very nice links to maps in the knowledge section of our link page. Have fun!

(Oh and please understand that we can not answer each mail with a guess individually. We will honour the first candidate with the correct answer here on the blog! So keep on trying.)


11/17/2008, Monday, 13:21, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Wow, we are busy...!


  1. The WGS school
    We are opening our first school these days!

    Education leads to understanding, understanding leads to tolerance, tolerance leads to communication - and communication leads to peace.

    Actually that keeps us working day and night right now- and it is worth it! I publish more details pretty soon!
  2. Moving on, learning more
    And... even if it breaks my little heart... it is time for us to move on again, to learn more! So we are leaving Canada pretty soon.
    That’s why we have a little quiz for you:
    The first one of you who
    guesses the right city, where we spend the next time, will be honoured here in the blog! Yes, I’ll give little hints from time to time.
    (Excluded from the quiz is everybody whom we told where we go, employees of the hotel and airlines, and everybody working for an intelligence service. And just one guess per person.)

One of the many reasons why I love Canada so much - even if it looks a bit different now...:


11/06/2008, Thursday, 19:35, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The seasons seem to be very short here in Ottawa.

After we had winter last week...

... we have summerlike 18°C (eighteen!) now again!

P.S.: Just to answer some e-mails of appreciated caring readers before they arrive... Yes, I have had the band aid on my chin before I tried swinging. No, I wouldn’t consider myself very motor skill gifted, my brain works fortunately much better.


11/04/2008, Tuesday, 20:07, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Scream, bang, tap, tap tap...

Last Sunday we had the chance to attend a local football game! Very impressive, especially auditive.


11/01/2008, Saturday, 15:15, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Our first Canadian Halloween... or “Are you Halloweeners...?”

the first Halloween decoration we have seen

Two months ago when we arrived in Ottawa we found a party decoration store on one of our fist discovery tours. Of course we went in an found ourselves in the midst of spooky skeletons, scythes, shiny ghosts, more masks and costumes than I have ever seen before, and other masses of strange decoration.
A friendly sales person headed for us and asked “Are you Halloweeners...?”. That made me think about the undiscovered facets of my personality again. Is there a Halloweener somewhere hidden deep inside waiting to be freed? Well, the concept of Trick-or-Treat sounded more as kind of attempted extortion to me and I’m not a big fan of skeletons, graves and all kind of cruelty in front gardens. So I told her that I might become one. But I have to admit that I was excited about all the impressing stuff in the store and before we left, we bought a sparkling hat for Andreas.

and these plastic bags for leaves were a very cute idea...

During the last weeks we have seen a lot of Halloween decoration and I have to state that I really started to like it! Smiling pumpkins, ghosts and straw men everywhere, just the graves and such needs getting used to.

And yesterday we celebrated our first Canadian Halloween! So at about 7 pm we went for a walk and marvelled the beautiful decorated houses and well-behaved and lovingly dressed little princesses, bugs, elephants, cats and much more, who were busy knocking on doors in the hope of candy, supervised by their just as excited parents. Very, very sweet!

my favourite Halloween decoration in the neighbourhood

And I have to mention that yesterday I won a Halloween costume contest as well... Maybe there is as a matter of fact a tiny but growing Halloweener somewhere ...?! Could be...


10/29/2008, Wednesday, 14:38, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Indian What...?!

Just keep in mind that some days ago we had some beautiful T-shirt weather. So we were a bit excited when the weather forecast announced up to 30 cm snow for last night in Ottawa. Well, the big advantage of Canadian weather forecasts is that if they promise you snow - you get snow!

So late at night we took a walk in the middle of the first big snow storm of the season what was really wonderful - and cold, and wet, but wonderful... And in the next days we are supposed to have nice cozy weather again.

Indian ... um ... Autumn?

Behind freezing me you can still see some Indian Summer...!

Indian ... hm ... Winter - this morning


10/28/2008, Tuesday, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Interest in groundwater

Yesterday the UNESCO published the first world map of underground transboundary aquifers. More...

“During the past decades the interest in groundwater increased considerably due to water shortage problems on local, regional and even global levels. The use of groundwater is considered as an appropriate way out of regional water crises caused by population growth and economic development but the knowledge of this hidden resource is still weak in many places and investments in groundwater management and protection are insufficient. “
World-wide Hydrogeological Mapping and Assessment Programme (WHYMAP)



Reactions on “Oh Ottawa” from 10/26/2008, Sunday, 22:07
Tree FAQs - Frequently answered questions about trees...!

Ok, now I know that some of you want to see some of my tree pictures! Here we go... Here are some!
And yes, I’m glad that you love trees like me. And no, I don’t hug trees so far, maybe I should try - so far I just hug people, dogs, stuffed animals, pillows, laptops,... And yes, I take videos of trees as well, but I couldn’t convince my camera to take good enough movies to publish them - I need a real video camera at some point. And no, I don’t sell tree pictures, maybe worth a thought in the future... And yes, I have some information about the question
why Indian summer is called Indian Summer.
And no, the snake didn’t bite, it was very nice and well behaved - of course, it is Canadian...!

P.S.: If you use our contact form, please be sure to fill in your correct e-mail address. Otherwise I can’t answer at all!


10/27/2008, Monday, 19:06, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Squirrel party in the neighbourhood...
Find three kinds of squirrels (and a dove) in this picture living (more or less) peacefully together.


10/26/2008, Sunday, 22:07, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Oh Ottawa...

Ottawa in autumn is just gorgeous! I took hundreds of pictures from Indian Summer trees...
And we had the chance to visit the Black Rapide Lock at the beautiful Rideau Canal.


10/22/2008, Wednesday, 15:22, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Another of Ottawa’s cuties in yellow-black...


10/17/2008, Friday, 21:46, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Andreas: “A snake!”, Meike: “A snake! A snake! Wow...! A snaaake...!”

Because the weather is still nice we have gone for a little walk in our beautiful “backyard”. At some point we heard a rustling 1 1/2 meters from our feet. Curious as we are we had a look what caused the rustling and there it was: About 80 cm long and well dressed in trendy yellow-black.

Of course I wanted to take a video (my new hobby) and after the first second of filming Andreas (who stood right-angled to my actress and me) moved - and instead of take flight in the opposite direction the snake snaked high speed towards me! I have no idea why she did so  (lots of animals do so for some reason, sometimes I like it more, sometimes less) and so my movie turned involuntarily into an action-movie very fast. Unfortunately I lost the snake out of the focus while hopping backwards through the coppice. But at least the sound is very entertaining...!

Andreas and snake

me and snake,
me holding a high-high-tech-snake-defence-tool McAndreas has tinkered and put into my hands, just for the case...
(And, no, my pants are not open, that is the bag of our camera fixed on my belt!)

gorgeous beauty

Another unusual experience! Isn’t that great, we really have snakes in the neighbourhood! Can’t wait to see some again!


10/15/2008, Wednesday, 09:27, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Canadian federal election

After the cancellation of four federal by-elections yesterday the 2008 Canadian federal election was held to elect members to the Canadian House of Commons of the 40th Canadian Parliament. Canadian voters have chosen to give Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives a minority mandate and the Liberals have got their lowest level of popular support since the election of 1867.

The election campaigns were pretty much interesting for us because they differed in several ways from the German election campaigns. The television spots were partly very much focussed on the failings of the political opponent, which sometimes gave the impression you had to chose the lesser of some evils, what was kind of strange - and somewhat unfriendly... so non-Canadian.

A wider difference was the street advertisement: The streets were not sign posted with dozens of same oversized passport photographs - just some few signs at intersections with names - but no reasons on them mentioned why to vote for them.
And very much different were the many signs in the front gardens of many private houses:
By the way: Isn’t this a lovely street...?!


10/13/2008, Monday, 21:04, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Time for one of my open letters again!

Actually I planned to write an entry about today’s Canadian Thanksgiving day. There is so much we are thankful for in Canada...!
Additional topic should have been the Canadian Oktoberfest which takes place right now.

And then an article in the Washington Time about one of Washington Time about one of Senator McCains recent word choices draw my attention.

Usually I try not to get involved too much in political election campaigns officially because I am convinced that in free and democratic countries most people make in the majority of cases the right decisions.
And because being able to choose an appropriate and respectful choice of words is sometimes even more important than the content, Senator McCains’ recent meaningful mistake was the last in a row of questionable choices which made me decide: It is time for one of my open letters again!

P.S.: And I have sent a copy of this letter to Senator Obama as well.

Subject: Open Letter

Dear Senator McCain,

As many others I appreciated that you finally promised to run a respectful campaign in the weeks to come.

I’m founder of the international peace project “World’s Greatest Smile” which is supported by 14 Nobel Laureates including the peace Nobel Laureate the Dalai Lama. The aim of the “World’s Greatest Smile” is to enhance peaceful and effective communication.

And as a human being which is very much interested in a peaceful future for our children and us I listen carefully to the content of what politicians have to say.
Besides that from the view of an expert in communication I’m pretty much focused on the form, because this can make an intelligent content sound bad and vice versa. Especially in the candidates debates it is highly interested to hear and see which candidates uses which strategies and which easy and effective techniques you surprisingly have missed.

And now you said you would whip Senator Obama’s “you-know-what” in this debate...

Probably you meant that in a figurative sense so the content was that you like to have an intense debate.
The form was a choice which will hopefully be noticed from voters as a big and meaningful mistake. Some people will even understand that in a black-white-history context. You have enough experience and are probably responsible enough to understand that this was a statement which is far out of the acceptable limits.

You like me are supposable of the opinion that to announce physical violence is not the way of a role mode you want to be. Politicians should be and act as persons people can model themselves on, don’t you think so?
I hope you can and will correct your word choice in the near future.

Voters hopefully make their decision on a content basis - and furthermore carefully notice the form basis because both factors are important for a save future for all of us.

Meike Duch

“World’s Greatest Smile” project
mail (at)


10/12/2008, Sunday, 13:16, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Awesome day at Dow’s Lake

Yesterday we made an excursion to Ottawa’s beautiful Dow’s Lake. Sooo many smiling people, lots of dear dogs, a bridal couple tossing leaf over each other, children laughing rolling down a hill... Oh, and I had the chance to play with two adorable beagle puppies... Altogether definitely one of my best days ever!


10/10/2008, Friday, 11:41, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Nobel Peace Prize 2008

Since two years we expected former president of Finland, United Nations diplomat and mediator Martti Ahtisaari to be awarded the

Martti Ahtisaari

Nobel Peace Prize for his outstanding contributions to conflict prevention and resolution. And today, finally, he received this great and meaningful award!

Martti Ahtisaari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2008 "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts".

For the past twenty years, Martti Ahtisaari has figured prominently in endeavours to resolve several serious and long-lasting conflicts. In 1989-90 he played a significant part in the establishment of Namibia’s independence; in 2005 he and his organization Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) were central to the solution of the complicated Aceh question in Indonesia. In 1999 and again in 2005-07, he sought under especially difficult circumstances to find a solution to the conflict in Kosovo. In 2008, through the CMI and in cooperation with other institutions, Ahtisaari has tried to help find a peaceful conclusion to the problems in Iraq. Martti Ahtisaari has also made constructive contributions to the resolution of conflicts in Northern Ireland, in Central Asia, and on the Horn of Africa.

We cordially congratulate you, Martti Ahtisaari, on your well-deserved award!

The Nobel Peace Prize 2008


10/09/2008, Thursday, 17:07, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Basic Norwegian

For all our readers who might like to know some Norwegian vocabularies tomorrow morning 11 a.m. CET (9 a.m. GMT)

  • Hello! - Hallo! Goddag! Hei!
  • Good morning! - God morgen!
  • How are you? - Hvordan står det til?
  • Very good, thanks! - Bare bra, takk!
  • What is your name? - Hva er navnet ditt? Hva heter du?
  • My name is... - Jeg heter... Mitt navn er... Eg heiter...
  • Thank you very much! - Tusen takk!
  • Yes - Ja
  • Please! - Vær så snill! Vennligst!
  • See you later! - Ser deg senere!

And after that you probably need no more vocabularies for a (little) while being busy with hoping and dancing... Enjoy!

(No responsibility is taken for the correctness of this information.)

10/08/2008, Wednesday, 21:50, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Aww, part III

Just imagine... In Ottawa even the litter bins are cute...


10/02/2008, Thursday, 19:49, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Aww, part II

one of our beloved cute neighbours


09/26/2008, Friday, 22:57, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Andreas surprised me with a beautiful Wednesday-afternoon-Picknick. Singing birds, sunshine, 26°C, view on a river - what else do you need to be happy?


09/23/2008, Tuesday, 18:54, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Awesome Autumn

After having one of the coldest winters in Halifax, the first spring since decades in Dartmouth (whatever that means but lots of people told us so), the wettest summer ever in Toronto, we seem to get the most beautiful autumn in Ottawa now!

the very first beginning of Indian Summer


09/15/2008, Monday, 19:47, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

“Our wild backyard”

When I was having a look on some satellite images from our new neighbourhood here in Ottawa there seemed to be an interesting spot nearby. So we made a short excursion and found this:
(detail of the picture above)
Ok, no swimming today...


09/10/2008, Wednesday, 23:52, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


When we meet Physics Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek the first time several years ago he already spoke about today’s historic day in physics.
The first beam in the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at
CERN successfully steered around the 27 kilometres of the world’s most powerful particle accelerator! The organization has 20 European member states and scientists and engineers representing 80 nationalities working together to find out what happens when big kids play - or let’s say what particles they find, and what holds all the stars together, and much more.
I wonder what cool things happen when even more organizations make their big kids work together on a global playground.

And here is a rap explaining what this is all bout: Large Hadron Rap ...!


09/08/2008, Monday, 16:14, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

“If you don’t find it here - you don’t need it...!” (Andreas)

The Ottawa region was named after the Odawa First Nations, meaning “traders”...

Maybe that has nothing to do with it, but... besides living in a quiet, quiet neighbourhood we just have to walk a few hundred meters to be right in one of the most extensive malls I have ever seen. Think of a shop for any wired thing - and you will probably find it here, besides a curling hall, an indoor golf club, a shop for artistically decorating cakes, zoo shops with puppy training, computer shops, dutch grocery, a party decoration shop with Halloween stuff (from cute little glowing ghosts with changing colours to uh), a pet hotel, outdoor equipment with rubber geese, and much much more.

Candy store...!...!
Want to spend a night here, too? Me personally not right in this aisle - but they have aisles with cereals, dried fruits and all kind of delicious treasures, as well.


09/04/2008, Thursday, 12:03, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Ottawa - first impressions

After we spent three months downtown Toronto - right in the middle of busy everything - we decided to stay a bit  in a outlying district of Ottawa this time. Singing children and crickets are the loudest sounds most of the time - isn’t that nice...

We had some excursions around our new home and among others found “The field”.


09/02/2008, Tuesday, 12:51, Meike, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Bye bye Toronto! Hello Ottawa!

After nine months in Canada here is our new personal, completely undemocratic and absolutely undiplomatic comparison. This time I let Andreas co-decide and we differed in some points - but discussing the ranking we had an interesting review on the last time. We laughed a lot!

(5 = great, 1 = poor, between = between)



Halifax /

St Stephen







museums *1


3 (*1)


2 (*1)

felt air quality










liveliness in the eyes of people





parks *2


4 (*2)


4 (*2)

favourite food

every month different

raisin muffins

trail mix

indian cookies

quality of street performers *3


3 (*3)

1 (*3)

4 (*3)

free sport facilities





squirrels quality *4


4 (*4)


4 (*4)

seeming competency of police officers





average friendliness





ships *5



1.1 (*5)







Halifax: not a lot of exhibits but lovingly presented
Toronto: lots and lots of rare and expensive exhibits - if you find them

Halifax: beautiful
Toronto: lots

Halifax: ACDC on a panpipe
St Stephen: just haven’t seen any
Toronto: very international

Halifax: cuteness
Toronto: quantity

St Stephen: just haven’t seen many

And here some leftover pictures I wanted to share:
One of my favourite places in Toronto: Chinatown

Oh and I have to mention that we had the wettest summer in record in Toronto! There has never been so much rain than in the three months when we were there... I read somewhere that we had 24 days with thunderstorms, some of them with several per day.
This is the CN Tower in one of the rare moments when you were not soaked looking upwards.


08/30/2008, Saturday, 19:57, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Travelling on

After tree months in Toronto it’s time for us to move on tomorrow. And the winner this time is: Ottawa! Yay!
So today we had a long last Toronto excursion: CN Tower, harbour, Rogers Center, Eaton Center, the PATH, everything...
We found this communication advice in a multi-storey car park downtown Toronto. Maybe worth a try...


08/29/2008, Friday, 21:31, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

More fur = less fur...

The squirrels here in Toronto are huge - and we see lots and lots of them every day.

This dove seemed to like one of them very much...

... So did this bird of prey (I assume it’s a hawk?) in a park downtown Toronto.


08/28/2008, Thursday, 19:16, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

More furry love...

We found this at a University of Toronto building.


08/27/2008, Wednesday, 15:59, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Hairy love

When we were sitting on the lawn in a nearby park watching a combination of baseball and frisbee and some other games this huge cutie came along and enthusiastically embodies his desire to play, cuddle, love us... We were overwhelmed...
One of the watering places for best friends, humans upstairs, dogs downstairs - sometimes topsy-turvy.


08/22/2008, Friday, 23:14, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


We decided to take some hours off this afternoon to visit the famous Toronto BuskerFest, which takes place every August and takes place in support of Epilepsy Toronto.

Street performers from across Canada, the US, England, Australia, Hungary, Sweden, the Netherlands, Argentina and Japan perform for over 50.000 spectators. You could watch comedians, contortionists, musicians, magicians, sword swallowers, fire jugglers, acrobats, aerial artists and others.

And this happy guy brought on stage by balloons...

... turned out to be Mookie Morris who was voted out off the top 5 of the Canadian Idol TV-show last week. Today he sang for the enthusiastic crowd on BuskerFest.

And on our way back home we passed the flags in front of the Royal Canadian Military Institute half-mast because of the three dead Canadian soldiers who were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan this week.
We are back in reality...


08/20/2008, Wednesday, 19:30, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

New... new... new!

We worked in the last weeks (actually months and even years) intensely on the enhancement of the World’s Greatest Smile to make it more effective and influential. And now we are almost ready to tell you about our latest new exciting, great, and fun project within the World’s Greatest Smile!

So stay tuned, we are almost ready to publish!

We just need to prepare the website, find even more volunteers and co-workers and some tiny things besides that.

Oh and yes, we need definitely some (or one) very good sponsors or/and donators to realize the new project!


07/31/2008, Thursday, 23:31, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Metallike smile...
We found this smiling hydrant in a street nearby.

P.S.: And I like the expression ‘metallike’ - kind of readable ambiguity...


07/24/2008, Thursday, 15:51, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Highlights of “my last days”

Have been ill for several days now, so my highlights are somewhat minimalist.

  • I found out that I can sweat even on my eyelids - we had a humidex(measurement used by Canadian meteorologists to reflect the combined heat and humidity) of around 40°C for a couple of days.

  • I used some very rarely used vocabularies (!) when accidentally folded and broke one of my fingernails in the middle of it’s lifetime. (I never said that getting on shoes was easy.)
    You should have seen Andreas’ facial expression when I showed it to him when asked him to find a band aid while I tried to wash away the blood. Actually I have to say that it didn’t hurt for some reason - I promise!
    I took the picture some days after when I decided to take off the band aid to shorten the nail - another fun-event...

  • I was roared by a racoon when I was brushing my teeth at night! At least I hope it was a  racoon - it sounded like a grizzly! I’m not used to be roared at while brushing anything - and we are still downtown, so this was a very new and unexpected experience...
  • I can easily drink 5 litres per day, and cold Camomile tea with the taste of Champion soup tastes better than it sounds.


07/15/2008, Tuesday, 07:19, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Another speedy speed visit at the museum

When we visited the China exhibition some weeks ago we had some live music there (Dirty Dancing...! What else...?) in the ROM, the Royal Ontario Museum. So we were curious what to expect next. This time we saw some more cultures (unfortunately without any music at all), and more dishes than I ever expected to see...

07/09/2008, Tuesday, 13:11, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Language resources

I polished up our language resources section a bit.

These are the languages we have so far and you can help by adding the translation of another language: Click here!

07/05/2008, Saturday, 20:36, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Another continent...

And some new cultures again... After a week with a lot (!) of work we decided to take a few hours off and spent some time on the “Toronto’s Afrofest 2008” today. Lots of music, art, food, happy people...
And on our way home I found even more Africa on two sidewalk flagstones...


07/01/2008, Tuesday, 22:40, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Happy Birthday, Canada!

Today is Canada Day!

On July 1st 1867 the British colonies joined Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation.
So it is Canada’s 141
st birthday, yay!

06/27/2008, Friday, 15:29, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Some of the highlights of this week:

  • Andreas saw a thick racoon right in front of our house.
  • I took part in the Annual General Meeting of the Native Canadian Center of Toronto what was very interesting.
  • Andreas has been at a sculptures art exhibition opening where even the orange juice was hot.
  • Lots of people are wearing German soccer shirts here for some reason.

And we found this inhabited sparrow nest.


06/24/2008, Tuesday, 22:07, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

New neighbours...

06/22/2008, Sunday, 20:39, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Miigwech (again)
for offering me the possibility to attend the Toronto Pow Wow!

I was looking forward to this weekend for many, many weeks...:
Yesterday - on National Aboriginal Day - we had the honour to take part in the
Toronto’s largest Outdoor Pow Wow!
What an experience! Very, very impressing in many ways! Lots of dancing, singing and drumming, lots of nice people on all kinds of shades, celebrating together and just enjoyed themselves.

I have to admit that I pointed on something (even twice) and fortunately remembered before I did it the third time that it might considered rude - and nodded appropriate in the direction I wanted to show from then on. ...I promise to learn more! At least I didn’t make any pictures during Flag, Prayer or Honour songs.

So imagine a park filled with more than thousand people, lots of them children, after 6 hours of dancing, singing and drumming. And now imagine someone announcing that the tons of gifts on blankets are free gifts for everybody to take along. What pictures come up to your mind?

Alan Manitowabi, Arena Director

Ok, the picture which came up to my mind was exchanged by a looong line (later even three lines because there were so many people) of polite and patiently waiting people who took a present each and thanked the event’s volunteers afterwards.

Free Giveaway

And even if you didn’t stay in line for a present (we didn’t because we didn’t bring any presents by ourselves, but I think now, we were not even supposed to bring some...) people came around and gave you one. So we ended up with a honey-soap for Andreas and a rose body lotion for me - what was perfect because we couldn’t transport a huge stiffed animal, picture frame, or some of the other presents anyway. So someone really knew what he did...

Anyway I spent some of the very best hours here in Toronto on Na-Me-Res’ Pow Wow.

Miigwech and Giga-waabamin miinawaa!


06/19/2008, Thursday, 21:31, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Art of the
Perfect universal companionship

Ok, I almost had no time (or did I finally become modest) to tell you about our first bigger art exhibitions in favour of the World’s Greatest Smile.

Rezzable Productions and the Not Possible In Real Life group (NPIRL) have joined forces to hold a large-scale two month extravaganza loosely themed around “The Garden of NPIRL Delights” in the 3D virtual world “Second Life”.

My (Second Life name: Yeti Bing) exhibition is called “Perfect universal companionship”.
It describes how different creatures (aliens, robots, a dragon, a dwarf and many more...) work peacefully together to run the solar system and the earth within it. Is shows how different beings can cooperate with each other and create a system that works in a perfect way for a comparatively long time. It means that the variety of inner and outer appearance can even enhance the cooperation and teamwork and brings the overall result to perfect.
And you can be part of the team – wear your free avatar! (You can get it in the “Perfect universal companionship” - exhibition.) Have fun!

“Perfect universal companionship”







06/18/2008, Wednesday, 20:53, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Where is Korea...?!

After our shoes dried now (mine took three days for that) we decided to take our cold out to a more water proved place and had a short excursion to the ROM, the Royal Ontario Museum, again today.
This time we visited the exhibition about Native Americans (which was astonishing small!).

Then went to “China”...

The Imperial Palace Hall - full-scale reconstruction represents the corner of a large palace hall in the imperial style of the Qing dynasty (1644 - 1912). All parts were made in China and shipped to Toronto.

After we couldn’t find “Korea” somehow...

... we ended in “Japan”.

And because our time was limited the only thing we saw from Greek and Cyprus was a video in Sign Language.
Next time more...


06/16/2008, Monday, 17:19, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thunderstorm the first, second, third, fourth, fifth...

After we recovered a bit from our cold we planed to spend the afternoon at the Luminato, Toronto Festival of Art & Creativity 2008 yesterday. At noon we had a thunderstorm so we decided to wait a bit... and even waited till the second thunderstorm was over as well. Then we hurried to the harbour to find out that if we want to find something artful or creative there, we have to do it by ourselves because everybody went home - what was probably a bright decision because we stood in the middle of thunderstorm number three.

This is supposed to be daylight...

We searched shelter in the PATH, Toronto’s underground walkway.
When we found out again we found ourselves right in the Filipino Singing Idol contest. Did you ever wanted to hear a great Filipino singer perform Italian love songs? If you didn’t, you should - this was really great!

Filipino Singing Idol contest - my best 20 minutes in Toronto so far!

When everybody started to stare at the sky instead of the stage we discovered that it is time to run again, because thunderstorm number four prepared to flood the city.

Thunderstorm number four: Now it is proven - you can’t get wetter than wet.

When we arriver at home we were soaked, dirty and cold. The sun was shining almost sarcastically - dry humour.
That gave us the chance to hop under the shower just before thunderstorm number five started it’s show...!

P.S.: I read that Vancouver has six thunderstorms per year. Hm... Vancouver?!


06/12/2008, Thursday, 20:38, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Historic apology and another Open Letter

Yesterday was an historic day in the history of our new home country Canada and maybe even in the history world wide.

At a ceremony in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally apologized for more than a century of abuse and cultural loss involving Indian residential schools.

This was a big step in the right direction! We hope much more steps will follow on a journey to peace! And we hope that more and more politicians (and others) will follow this path.

So it is time again for an Open Letter I wrote last night:

Dear Mr. Stephen Harper,
Dear Mr. Phil Fontaine,

We were deeply moved about your meeting yesterday and both of your future oriented speeches.

Thank you, Mr. Stephen Harper, for your exemplary apology!

Miigwech, Mr. Phil Fontaine, for your exemplary acceptance of the apology!

We are looking forward to your upcoming work together on ending this racial nightmare. And we are very confident of your future partnership! You could cause a change in the lives of so many people in Canada and even more in many other countries. Please take your chance and continue be a role model in this case for politicians around the world!

Sincerely yours,
Meike Duch

Mr. Stephen Harper, an apology, well done!

“We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children from rich and vibrant cultures and traditions, that it created a void in many lives and communities, and we apologize for having done this.
We now recognize that, in separating children from their families, we undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and sowed the seeds for generations to follow and we apologize for having done this.
We now recognize that, far too often, these institutions gave rise to abuse or neglect and were inadequately controlled, and we apologize for failing to protect you.
Not only did you suffer these abuses as children, but as you became parents, you were powerless to protect your own children from suffering the same experience, and for this we are sorry.

... The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly. We are sorry.
In moving towards healing, reconciliation and resolution of the sad legacy of Indian residential schools, implementation of the Indian residential schools settlement agreement began on September 19, 2007.
Years of work by survivors, communities, and aboriginal organizations culminated in an agreement that gives us a new beginning and an opportunity to move forward together in partnership.”

Text of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology to Canada's natives


Mr. Phil Fontaine, an acceptance of an apology, well done, as well!

“The memories of residential schools sometimes cuts like merciless knives at our souls.
... This day will help us to put that pain behind us.
... The attempt to erase our identity hurt us deeply, but it also hurt all Canadians and impoverished the character of this nation. We must not falter in our duty now. Emboldened by the this spectacle of history it is possible to end our racial nightmare together.''

Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada


06/11/2008, Wednesday, 19:12, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

New experiment on ourselves

Yes, the Torontonian cold viruses work, too. So now we successfully proved that we can have a cold at around -20°C in Halifax and at +33° in Toronto.
I feel that we should stop these experiments some day... Just a thought.


06/07/2008, Sunday, 16:55, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Street life

There was a “rolling street festivity” today on Bloor Street. It has been in Korea Town earlier and when it arrived in our area we went there and had some fun.

If you were very sweet they let you drown the lifesaver even if you didn’t hit the red aim with the ball. Probably he has one of the best jobs today, swimming in a bathtub at over 30°C.

Lots of booths selling all kind of cuddly toys, jewellery, hats, books and much more...

You could even get a massage.

And we have seen one of the most amazing street performances we have seen since years!

No glue, just balance...!


06/04/2008, Thursday, 12:14, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

All roads lead to ROM

Even if I have been to Toronto before, my stays were always too short to visit the ROM, the Royal Ontario Museum. The ROM is the largest museum in Canada and the fifth largest museum in North America. It is containing more than six million items and over 40 galleries.
Yesterday we took the time and went there. Because it is just a couple of minutes from our new home and there is much too much to see for one visit we decided to concentrate on the dinosaurs this time and come back frequently. So far we can say: Amazing building, amazing exhibitions! We are looking forward to our next visit.


06/03/2008, Tuesday, 14:18, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, finally

After we found out that our first accommodation in Toronto was just too far outside (and as a small comfort we found out that we rented some very expensive dirt, too) we spent some time to find a new home. And now we are very happy in a very, very cute street right downtown and just a few meters from the famous Royal Ontario Museum!

The structure of Toronto is fascinating! Huge but interesting designed buildings and gorgeous little streets with beautiful little houses and lots of green right side by side.

Our street...!
Did you expect a street like this downtown? Oh, and yes, the building on the right is a Tibetan Temple.

Lake Ontario before our first bigger thunder storm in Toronto.


05/29/2008, Thursday, 11:47, Meike, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Hello Toronto!

Yes, we did it and arrived in Toronto yesterday!

Did I ever mention our weather when travelling...?!

Lots of moose warnings on the way, great, isn’t it?!

friendly bus driver greeting all other drivers of bigger vehicles
(like all bus drivers did)

me in Montreal

huge Squirrel in Montreal

first view on Lake Ontario

big apple...

first view on Toronto

Bye bye, St Stephen!

Actually I love St Stephen! People were treating us from the very first day as if we were best neighbours since years. Having a nice chat with us on the street, glowingly waving from cars, windows and greeting friendliest when you met them, explaining us everything enthusiastically whenever we needed any information, and gave always much more than you could expect! I have to admit that I cried my when we decided to leave, I had to yield to reason.

Ok, here are some pictures from St Stephen I wanted to post...

“May Peace Prevail On Earth”, right behind the Canadian-US border

new hobby

picture taken by Andreas

Andreas on one of our favourite trails...

...and me

me in peaceful place

Andreas in search of cocoa

And our helpful innkeeper John.


05/22/2008, Thursday, 21:05, Meike, St Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

Green and shades of beige

After we discovered that the water we drink since a week colours everything it encounters green we decided to buy our drinking water here... And cause it is somewhat difficult to drink from a 10 litre canister (yes, I tried it) I really drink out of a mug instead out of my beloved water bottle.

Shades of beige
Yesterday we made an excursion to the flood area of St Stephen to think some projects through:

This area is flooded at high tide.

This as well.

Quotations of the day:
“It murmurs everywhere below me...”
“Be careful, here are everywhere ho...!”
(the “...les” was somehow drowned)


05/20/2008, Tuesday, 23:01, Meike, St Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

And that is where the fun ends - well, not really

Even if I really like St Stephen - and especially the people here who are so cute - it seems that we have to travel on pretty soon. We have just internet access for one of our computers, and even that just temporary with a very slooo...o...o(!)...ow connection. Moreover one of our mice died (relax, the computer mouse), it seems that it fell down a few time too often. And so unfortunately here we can’t work nearly as effective as we used to work and that’s why we have to leave earlier than we want to.

(Ok, this might be just funny for German speaking readers...)
(Spass = fun)


05/16/2008, Friday, 10:34, Meike, St Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

Daily life in St Stephen

Every day most of the time we still work at the computer, here in our newest office in front of the public library to use the internet there...

And besides that if we find the time we explore the surroundings:

Andreas and the footprint of ... um ...well ...

This is the official “Walking Trail” of St Stephen.

And rescued a bug from the rising tide flowing in.


05/15/2008, Tuesday, 10:28, Meike, St Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

We found two new friends


05/14/2008, Wednesday, 21:49, Meike, St Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

Trying to get and use the new opportunities

We are still challenged with our computer which seems to be the only one in North America not being able to use wireless internet. But at least it tries to assist as much as it can.
And even watching the change of tides is fascinating and St Stephen is really beautiful (on our way to the supermarket we were greeted with smiling “Hi!”s, “How are you?”s and several variants of nice greetings), soon it is time again to decide where to go next. There are some exciting possibilities.
Probably we will not go by car...


05/13/2008, Tuesday, 22:20, Meike, St Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

Computer co-operation

Finally I found a possibility to transfer the web site from our “web site computer” to the other one which is willing to use it’s wireless internet function today. Hopefully just a temporary solution for the moment. We have to upgrade our “web site computer” at some point.


05/12/2008, Monday, 22:26, Meike, St Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

(published Tuesday)
Towards the maple leaf

Today we explored our new temporary home city St Stephen, Canada’s Chocolate town. We even bought chocolate cookies...

St Stephan when we started our walk today - at more or less low tide

one of the easiest ways to get throughout the woods
(Don’t do that at home!)



And now, just imagine Andreas and me walking a looong way just to have a look at the river bay. Finding a dead end (rough cliff and no chance to go that way any further). So we decided to take a break, throwing stones into the water, as so often. Started wondering why the sound of the impinging stones sounded so strange and why the splash of the water has such an unusual direction. We started an experiential series and at some point (yes, somewhat soon) had the thought that it could have to do with the change of tides.
...Well our way back was a bit more challenging... We were a bit in a, um..., hurry.
Did I mention the the Bay of Fundy has the highest vertical tidal range of the world...?!

our ending was much happier

St Stephen at more or less high tide when we came back from our walk


05/12/2008, Monday, 21:127, Meike, St Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada


(published Tuesday)


Even if it seemed to break my little heart we decided that it is time to travel on- to discover more of the wide world.

two of our new friends, Charles and Jeff, with Andreas
before we left Dartmouth in the eeearly morning (Greetings, guys!)

Travelling in good weather, is that really possible for us?
We have to try that one day, this time we choose snow in the middle of May...

9985 kilometres to the equator
9985 kilometres to the North pole
Yes, right here!

“stable” in Saint John

Arriving at the border checkpoint of the United States the customs official thought that he likes us to come back the next day to show them another enormous important document we could get from the internet - and sent us back “towards the maple leaf”.
So we went back and stopped at the Canadian border control office, where we met two customs officials who were extremely friendly. They told us the name of the city (!) and even made a telephone call to help us finding a hotel in St Stephen - and cancel the reservation of our hotel in the United States. Aaand... they extended Andreas’ visa for Canada! So we will stay in this exciting, wonderful, overwhelming country for a while! Yay!!!


05/12/2008, Monday, 20:51, Meike, St Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

(published Tuesday)

Halifax & Dartmouth

Here are some pictures from our time in Halifax and Dartmouth which I wanted to post and had no time before.

springtime in Dartmouth, planting trees

me in “our Dartmouth office”

our beautiful home in Dartmouth in 1916

and today

one of my “Happy-places”, the dining room

Halifax harbour

Halifax harbour, Dartmouth

Halifax harbour, Dartmouth

another wild neighbour living in Dartmouth

Yes, we found Yoda - in the Point Pleasant Park

stop signs - of the winter?


05/09/2008, Friday, 21:12, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

On the road again...!

This week we decided to journey on to learn more about other cultures, people, nations - and to enhance the World’s Greatest Smile!

Do we don’t know where we will be or how we will get there? Um, not precisely.
Would you like to come along? Sure you do, admit it! Will be great!

I’m going to post further blog entries as soon as we are re-interneted.

P.S.: When you like to invite us and like us to come by, we might do so!

Peace Pavilion

Finally we had not to break into the The World Peace Pavilion in Dartmouth - they reopened it now.

(stones on the left are from Canada and the United States)

(coloured stones from the Berlin Wall in Germany...
Can you see the footprints of the cat which was walking in the sand through the exhibition?)

(clouds over the Peace Pavilion...)


05/07/2008, Wednesday, 18:55, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

And another new little friend we just met...

05/06/2008, Tuesday, 18:46, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

New discovery...

I haven’t ever seen these disinfection stations before. We found this one in the MicMac Mall, besides several others next to elevators, public telephones, toilets...
Very nice!

You don’t even have to touch it! Just hold your hand under it, wonder why nothing happens, take your hand away, watch a gulp of slime fall on the floor, try again, and surprise yourself with the fact that disinfection burns more than you expected.
Will try again...

05/05/2008, Monday, 21:24, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Another nice excursion

Yes, besides loving ships I like planes. So we spent some time in the Shearwater Aviation Museum - and as you can imagine, we had some fun in the flight simulator...

Andreas in the flight simulator

And me causing a...

...gear damage trying to fly upside down.

me, being more flexible than I always expected to be

And the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights... in a museum...


04/30/2008, Wednesday, 17:17, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Happy Birthday, World Wide Web!

The World Wide Web was created in 1989 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and on April 30th 1993 CERN announced the World Wide Web to be free to everyone. How could we survive without?

Thank you, WWW, for all the information you provide every day for people living in most parts of the world!
Thanks for the chance to meet wonderful people from all over the globe!
Thanks for the great possibility to share and realize visions and plans for the future!
Thanks so much for all the friends we can make around the world!

World Wide Web, we love you! We wish you all the best for the future! Please stay healthy and hopefully get even more free to everyone!


04/29/2008, Tuesday, 16:09, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lost and found

Yesterday we decided to go for a short walk to think several things through and got lost in the “Canadian wood” for the first time. Actually it wasn’t half as mean as getting lost in the Hamburg Sachsenwald (see 25.09.2006). The only disadvantage was that it got pretty marshy at some point so we had a chance to practise our hopping-from-one-stone-to-the-next-abilities... And just Andreas got wet feet because most of the time the moss was kind enough to carry my weigh... I loved it!


04/27/2008, Sunday, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

13:21, Meike
Letter to Jacques Rogge

Today I sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president expressing some of my thoughts about the interview he gave to the Financial Times:


Dear Monsieur Jacques Rogge:

You must have a very busy time these days and maybe handle more political issues than you ever wanted.
So you are is the same situation as the Olympic athlete who said he gave more interviews with the topic Tibet during the as weeks than he ever gave about his sport. Probably you knew that this situation would come when the IOC awarded the 2008 Olympics to China. So I appreciate your effort especially because the IOC was a sporting and not a political body.

Yesterday I read the interview you gave to the Financial Times and several comments of other media and would like to mention some of my thoughts about it.

>> The West must stop hectoring China over human rights, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge has demanded in an interview.
"You don't obtain anything in China with a loud voice," Rogge said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Saturday.  "That is the big mistake of people in the west wanting to add their views".
>> "Otherwise the Chinese will close themselves.” "To keep face (in Asia) is of paramount importance. All the Chinese specialists will tell you that only one thing works -- respectful, quiet but firm discussion.”

Yes, you are right. Quiet and firm discussion with fast and good results is what all of us would like. And for sure this is the best way for politicians to solve Human Right Problems in China and around the world.
Besides that one of the ways for residents of democratic countries to have an influence on their local politicians - and to motivate them to take action -are non-violently demonstrations.
So different actions should be advised, some for politicians, some for citizens and some for the ones who are somewhere between. And if you would have chosen a more specific addressee than “the west” which seems to be a much too big chunking for your suggestion, people living in the west would have understood and appreciate your words much better.

>> "We have been able to achieve something. I am not quite sure that heads of government have achieved much more than we have done," the IOC chief said.
>> Rogge questioned whether media attention on Tibet would be as strong if the Games were not taking place in Beijing. "I wonder if Tibet would be front page today were it not that the Games are being organized in Beijing. It would probably be page 4 or 5," he said.
>> However, Rogge noted that the relationship had resulted in policy changes by Beijing -- a media law allowing 25,000 foreign media access during the Games.
>> "The Games, we believe, will have a good influence on social evolution in China, and the Chinese admit it themselves."

These quotations were not said one after the other, but they sum of very good to show one big advantage, which the Olympic Games could reach for Chinese people. And probably, if the Games wouldn’t be awarded to Beijing, Tibet wouldn’t even be on the 5th page, as other countries which have challenges in their Human Rights as well aren’t either. That’s why I deeply appreciate the decision of the IOC to award the Games to China.

>> “It took us 200 years to evolve from the French Revolution. China started in 1949," he added, a time when Britain and other European nations were also colonial powers, "with all the abuse attached to colonial powers". "It was only 40 years ago that we gave liberty to the colonies. Let's be a little bit more modest." “China may not be a role model in the west, said Rogge, but "we owe China to give them more time."

Yes, many countries in which people demonstrate against violations of Human Rights these days have a violent past themselves. And isn’t that a valuable sign showing that humans can learn and change their behaviour and even politics if they find out that another way is a better one?
And another good human attribute is that people can learn from each other. That’s why not everybody has to make the same mistakes. And people and countries can solve problems faster by making use of solutions which are already found.
So maybe we should suggest people in democratic countries to non-violently express their wish for Human Rights in all countries, and moreover we should motivate politicians all over the world to enforce quiet and firm discussions.

And at the same time we should express our trust in the developing-attitude of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, and in their ability to raise their challenges successfully and especially very fast.

Best wishes,
Meike Duch


Financial Times: IOC’s Rogge asks for more time for China


12:16, Meike
Weekly Weekend Walk

Yesterday we made a walk along the Dartmouth’ side of Halifax Harbour. And found...

...out that the red spot we can see from our “office”
is a ship from the Canadian Coast Garde.

...which animals you can meet if you go for a swim here...

...ok, not exactly these any more. The sea gulls seem to be very efficient. oil platform which must have been arrived in the last days.

... and one of the more alive animals, a Blue Jay.


04/25/2008, Friday, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

16:26, Meike
Tibet: One more step on a long journey

Today the Chinese government announced that officials would meet in the coming days with a private representative of the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly called for renewed talks with Chinese officials and sent a letter last month to President Hu Jintao of China.

Chinese state media made the announcement shortly after Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China met with José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission. Barroso called the announcement encouraging and said China appeared prepared to discuss all issues except Tibet’s sovereignty.

Tenzin Taklha, the Dalai Lama's spokesman, said of China's announcement: "Since His Holiness is committed to dialogue, we would welcome this."

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said "It's necessary now that the dialogue engages, so that things can progress and the situation ease in Tibet” and added  that "France is pleased at this progress. It's because people are talking, and only through dialogue that one can find solutions."

We think: Yes, good step! Now both sides are responsible to make the next ones!


15:39, Meike
How long did I sleep...?!

I noticed some rain when I went to bed at 3am... and took this picture at 7am today. Did I miss summer and fall somehow?

04/24/2008, Thursday, 16:47, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Oooh... so colourfull... and shiny... and sparkling... and...!

A very unique and beautiful shop in my favourite mall in Halifax.


04/22/2008, Tuesday, 14:51, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Look what I found at Halifax Harbour...

I would love to know who stuck this note there.
And how she/he put her/his plan into action.




04/20/2008, Sunday, 19:31, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Weekend at the Lakes

We spent two beautiful weekend days at Lake Carles, Lake Micmac and Lake Banook...!

me, trying to create a rainbow
(Just imagined that I really made one and sat (more or less) at the end of it - what does that mean then?)

always around: crows

Yesterday we built a little boat...

...and watched it swim for a while...

...and today we really recovered it.
Who knows what it has seen in the meanwhile...


04/17/2008, Thursday, 20:32, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

We went for a long and thoughtful walk and found...
...besides other interesting things the Imperial Oil Refinery Dartmouth.


04/15/2008, Tuesday, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

16:18, Meike
Axis of... hm... what?

Today the Amnesty International issues annual death penalty statistics said that eighty-eight per cent of all known executions took place in five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the USA.

During 2007, at least 1,252 people were executed in 24 countries and at least 3,347 people were sentenced to death in 51 countries. These were only minimum figures - the true figures were certainly higher.

In 2007 the United Nations General Assembly voted – by 104 to 54, with 29 abstentions – to end the use of the death penalty.

Amnesty International: Secrecy surrounds death penalty


15:38, Meike
World Peace Pavilion

The World Peace Pavilion in Dartmouth was opened during the G7 Summit of June 1995 by the seven visiting Foreign Ministers. It contains rocks to represent the Earth and bricks to represent the efforts to shape the future from 70 countries, a chunk of the Great Wall of China and some remains of the Berlin Wall for example.
Now it is is closed...


04/11/2008, Friday, 16:07, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada


04/10/2008, Thursday, 21:05, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

We took some hours off yesterday to visit the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History in Halifax. Lots of dinosaur traces, living Nova Scotia snakes, an igloo to crawl in with books in it, videos in Inuktitut, and much more. Very cool!

Andreas discovering dinosaur traces

romantic dinosaur feet

a moose and me, again...

Now it is proven: Andreas has the weight of a polar bear cub.

me reorganizing a seal

and some whales


04/08/2008, Tuesday, 17:39, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Spring seems to be even better

If you think Halifaxians in winter have the best mood of people you have been around so far, you should meet Dartmoutians in spring!


04/04/2008, Friday, 19:32, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Happy 50th Birthday, Peace Sign!

It was designed from Gerald Holtom as Nuclear Disarmament logo for the first Aldermaston March, organized by the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War, Easter 1958 (4-7 April).  The design was a combination of letters of the flag semaphore alphabet for "N" and "D", standing for nuclear disarmament, and a circle around it to represent the world.

Give peas a chance!

And I knew it: There must be life under all the snow!

The first real flowers we spotted in Canada!


03/31/2008, Monday, 18:26, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Andreas’ snowiest birthday so far

Andreas on Lake Banook a few minutes from our home


03/26/2008, Wednesday, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

15:16, Meike
Jean Ziegler named UN human rights expert

Today the UN Human Rights Council elected Jean Ziegler to represent the Western world as an expert at the UN Human Rights Council. Ziegler, the co-founder of the "Muammar Khaddafi Human Rights Prize," is UN Special Rapporter on the Right to Food and a senior professor of sociology at the University of Geneva and the Sorbonne, Paris.
He has been criticized for supporting authoritarian leaders in developing countries.

14:14, Meike
Some people really can’t have enough snow...

03/25/2008, Tuesday, 16:37, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Finally a Great Easter

We made a long walk yesterday (Easter Monday) to make some plans for the future - and when we came back we found this huge ship in the Halifax harbour:

03/23/2008, Sunday, 14:40, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada


Ok, the only bunny I saw on my Hasi-Day yesterday was a stuffed one laying face down in front of a buggy. At least it caused a loud laughter and several intense hugs when I gave it back to its little owner.
And then we saw this...


03/21/2008, Friday, 18:31, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Boycott of the Olympic Games in China?

Many athletes around the world think about boycotting the Olympic Games 2008 in China these days because of the violations of human rights in Tibet.

I deeply appreciate the willingness of those athletes to make this sacrifice! It must be a immense pain to spend their energy for their sport and then maybe miss their last chance to be honoured for this work.

So do I think they should boycott the Olympic Games in Beijing to protest against the Chinese policy? No, I don’t think so!
If you want to protest against politics, it just can’t be the right way not to do what you are good in (unless you are developer of military weapons or something like that).

But if you are good in any skills or have the chance to be heard appear before the public by any other reason, please mention violations of human rights and your wish to a peaceful solution for conflicts whenever you can!
For athletes political statements combined with the Olympc Games can be challenging enough which was shown by Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who were suspended from the national team and banned from the Olympic Village after their political protest at their medal ceremony in 1968. But if they would have just boycotted the Olympic Games, today not a lot of people would remember their names - or why they protested.

So, please, if you are an athlete and want to use your role in public to change the violations of human rights, then attend the Games, be as good as you can, and speak to people and especially to the media about the importance of human rights in Tibet and all over the world!

World’s Greatest Smile Olympic athletes

Graffiti in Halifax, part 1
I found this at Citadel Hill.


03/20/2008, Thursday, 14:56, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

111 days in Canada

After 111 days in Halifax (and Dartmouth, which is part of HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality)) here is my personal, completely undemocratic and absolutely undiplomatic comparison.

(5 = great, 1 = poor, between = between)




provision with public watches



friendliness of people



friendliness of dogs






provision with chocolate









colours of houses






fun factor in libraries



provision with vegetarian pizza



public transportation (buses, subways, ferries)

(love the ferries)

(like the subway)

wild animals



number of flowers indoors



decoration of houses for holidays




4 (taste)

4 (price)

fennel tea



size of trees



prevention of falling into a gully



number of helmets on cyclists



provision with warm socks

2 (!)





distance to ocean






03/18/2008, Tuesday, 19:29, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lake Micmac

We made a short excursion to beautiful Lake Micmac...!

(wind-chill -20°C today)

03/16/2008, Sunday, 15:37, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada


There are definitely more places in the world where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not work as they are supposed to do.
During these days the eyes of the world are on
Tibet. And we hope you keep them open - in spite of the censorship of the media which will increase within the next time. And if you want to do more, read the link-list!

“I am deeply concerned over the situation that has been developing in Tibet following peaceful protests in many parts of Tibet, including Lhasa, in recent days.  These protests are a manifestation of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people under the present governance. 

As I have always said, unity and stability under brute force is at best a temporary solution.  It is unrealistic to expect unity and stability under such a rule and would therefore not be conducive to finding a peaceful and lasting solution. 

 I therefore appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people.  I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence.


Here I listed some useful links for you:


03/14/2008, Friday, 16:45, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

Find the pi-nuts!

International Pi Day

Today (in American date format 3/14) is - beside Albert Einstein’s birthday - the International Pi Day!
The Pi minute is at 1:59 pm - and if you really want to know it: Pi second is at 1:59:26 pm!

Click here for more information about our Pi-World-Records and more about Pi!
Give pi(s) a chance...!

03/13/2008, Tuesday, 14:37, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

New home, new snow

So we already feel at home in Dartmouth, made some long walks to explore the surrounding. And today we discovered the 37th sort of snow: apparitional sparkles...

(Dartmouth last night)
(Dartmouth today)


03/10/2008, Monday, 11:27, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada

03/06/2008, Thursday, 18:11, Meike, Dartmouth HRM, Nova Scotia, Canada


“Miserable Day”

“Miserable Day” was the headline in the newscast yesterday. They meant the heavy frozen rain - storm combination. And we can definitely confirm the media at this point, we have been in the middle of it...
So if you ever wanted to watch us blown on ice across uphill and downhill streets with huge backpacks on each front and back (is a backpack carried on the front a frontpack?) - then you had your chance yesterday. Oh and a little proud I have to say that we watched more tumbles than we experienced by ourselves. We tried a mixture of turtle and snail locomotion, not fast at all or even elegant - and definitely exhausting!
This was supposed to be daylight...
I took this picture at about 11am on the ferry after sliding along the streets of Halifax and right before blown away on the streets of Dartmouth.

P.S.: Yes, it was worth it! Our new home is just beautiful! And today we even had sunshine and tropical 6°C.


03/04/2008, Tuesday, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

22:31, Meike
Another mystery has to be un(t)ravelled: How to fit a household into a bag

Four backpacks, two notebooks, 1 1/2 kg rice and a little more. Tomorrow we change houses again and move to a hopefully beautiful place in Dartmouth, just a little ride with the ferry from Halifax.

Play the Game! Spiel starten

So accordingly I have another online-game for you:

“I’m packing my suitcase. I’m taking...” Try packing your suitcase with all the right items in the right order.
And you don’t even have to carry it afterwards!
Click here fore more games!


19:32, Meike
Once again...

We needed some travel information... and ended with a “fine” tradition (read 12/09/2007, Sunday, 13:01, Meike) with a little change: evacuation of the railway station this time - before we got our information.
But even the fire fighters were pretty much relaxed.


03/03/2008, Monday, 13:55, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

For some reason we decided against “Go for a swim” as entertainment event today.
Maybe tomorrow...

03/02/2008, Sunday, 17:46, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Went to the game
Yesterday evening we were invited to the ice hockey game
Halifax Mooseheads vs Moncton Wildcats at the Halifax Metro Center. New experience, we had lots of fun especially backstage, even saw a 2m sandwich and a dance contest...!

(snow storm on our way, about 20 cm fresh-fallen snow...)

(singing of the national anthem)

(Very enthusiastic, relaxed and friendly audience. And here will the
2008 IIHF World Championship take place from May 2nd to 18th!)

(tiny players got their chance, too, sooo cute)

(Halifax Mooseheads finally won 4-3...)

Oh and yes, on the way back we had 3°C and rain, so ice-water-snow-mixture up to the ankles. By the way, does anybody of you ever tried to dry sport shoes in the microwave...?


02/29/2008, Friday, 12:34, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Moving in Halifax, part four

“N(ice) try...” or “Did I hear someone calling for whipped cream...?”


02/28/2008, Thursday, 16:47, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Moving in Halifax, part three

02/27/2008, Wednesday, 12:56, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Moving in Halifax, part two

Even ice and snow moves on...










(Yes, I’m a bit proud of this picture...)







02/25/2008, Monday, 14:31, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

New snow...

E.T. would have to rise to some challenges here...

02/22/2008, Friday, 23:01, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

I love you - a bit more...

Hm, headline sounds a little strange. Anyway we added some more languages in our “I love you!” -in-many-languages-collection. In this spirit: Have a nice weekend!
Click here:
I love you... in many languages...


02/21/2008, Thursday, 10:22, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

I scream for ice (cream) in Halifax...
So far we don’t wear shorts whenever temperatures raise up to 0°C like some of our neighbours but the desire for ice cream starts about 30°C earlier than in Hamburg.
Did we become Canadian that fast?




(1.98l chocolate ice cream can full of pleasure)

02/17/2008, Monday, 13:31, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

How is the weather? Well...

Weather is always an adventure here. Imagine the snow we had five days ago - and then suddenly 8°C (yes, plus!) and “heavy rain” (and “heavy rain” here is heavy, heavy rain), then -11°C, and today 9°C and, yes, “heavy rain” again...

02/14/2008, Thursday, 11:08, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ok, two dogs fondled with one hand (no, this is not a bad translation of a Germany proverb, its our version of “Kill two birds with one stone”.)
This new resource is a
language resource and a communication tip as well. And it is just so useful in many ways. So, probably even three dogs - well, maybe three dogs are too much in this context “Two’s company, three’s a crowd”. Phrases run wild on Valentine’s Day...

Anyway here are the translations of “I love you!” in many, many languages:
I love you... in many languages...


02/13/2008, Wednesday, 12:45, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

We got ‘a little more’ snow over here...

Snow in front of the fence...

... and the snow behind the fence...


02/12/2008, Tuesday, 21:53, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Last night they showed the movie “Goodbye, Lenin!” on TV here. Because we don’t watch a lot TV, I discovered it more by chance and I saw just a few minutes. It was my first experience with watching a German film with English captions here in Canada.
And because the written text appeared always a little earlier than the spoken text and I tend to translate English into German and vice versa whenever I hear/read it - and because it was in the middle of the night after a looong workday - it was a kind of confusing language-mud at some point. But probably an interesting way to learn languages - and entertaining anyway...


02/11/2008, Monday, 13:31, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Animal Hasi-Day...

On the occasion of my biweekly Hasi-Day on the weekend I decided that we take the chance and make an excursion to one of my very favourite places here in Halifax, the Point Pleasant Park, and this time Andreas even remembered to take our binocular along. And in the moment we arrived at one of the places with them most spectacular view we saw three seals resting on a rock and waving to us and - tataah - a bald eagle flying right in front of us again!


02/08/2008, Friday, 16:01, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

New Link tip:
Do you like statistics? Well, I do...

So I have a new link tip for you with more world-statistics than you ever wanted to get.
Like to know how man winter olympic medals per one million people Canada got? Or that Canada has the highest fruit juice consumption by country? They even have an happiness-level indicator...
Have a look on NationMaster, a central data source and a handy way to graphically compare nations. NationMaster obtains its data from such sources as the
CIA World Factbook, UN, and OECD.


02/07/2008, Thursday, 09:14, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Moving Halifax, part one

We are making progress in finding out, how to move like an Halifaxian. Even if we are still not very good in Halifax-Moving we figured out some basic principles.
The ice is really a challenge here for me. More than once I stood fixedly without moving a foot - and still slid in this position to an even more uncomfortable place, driving

Yes, this is really supposed to be a way to walk on...

cars, open water, or just downwards the street - which can be a long way because Halifax is kind of hilly.
So I try to figure out how Halifaxians move - and they do that on the ice in an impressive speed! I even saw several of then run on streets I had to struggle to walk on. And they do it with a smile on their faces, greeting you friendly...


02/04/2008, Monday, 21:33, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Let’s get physical - Sunday

For the first time I didn’t fall asleep watching the Super Bowl - but, yes, it was easier this time because I didn’t had to watch it in the middle of the night. In exchange I spend some time after the game to cheer up a friend of mine who was a very sad Pat-fan (I sometimes already sound as if I would know something about football).
Anyway I have to admit that I didn’t watch it very concentrated because they showed football literally the whole day on TV and - more important - in the evening I was busy programming a 3D-project for Valentine’s Day and it wasn’t very cooperative. But in the end all worms were hugging as they were supposed to, all lady bugs walked around their designated way, the blade of grass grew in heart-form, and even the fishes finally stopped jumping out of the water.
And now I know that the New York Giants won somehow.


02/01/2008, Friday, 12:55, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Web site and games for the weekend...

Maybe you have noticed that I worked on the web site here and there during the last days.
And because I know that some of you love to play our
fun online-games for some reason I opened a new race and reset the highscore of Blocker today.

Play the game! Spiel starten!

Awesome highscore of the Blocker-Game till today:

  1. bonxxx   949939
  2. bonxxx   946088
  3. Hamster 921249

How to play and more games. Have fun!


01/30/2008, Wednesday, 12:52, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Besides enhancing the World’s Greatest Smile - Project we still work on becoming good Halifaxians. So I’ll introduce our new home town a little more to you again.

The libraries definitely belong to my very favourite places here in Halifax!
Actually we got our library cards at our first day in Canada. And beside the friendly staff, lots of books, clean toilets, and the warmth, are the dozens of internet computers which you can use there for free the reason for all the enthusiasm.
Sitting on comfortable armchairs in front of an adjustable keyboard you can feel like in your very private cockpit with access to friends all over the world and almost all knowledge.
And even Halifax is a comparatively small city, we have 14 libraries here! Very cool!

(Hula Hoop event in front of our nearest library)

P.S.: First book we caught sight of was a very highlighted one from one of our VIPs, Kevin J. Anderson!


01/28/2008, Monday, 17:24, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

The future

World’s Greatest Smile-Day 2008 is over. And yes, we smiled a lot reading encouraging and hopeful e-mails from all over the world. Our press-list grew again. So did the list of important supporters of the World’s Greatest Smile - Start with a Smile!-Project.

And still I have a World’s Greatest Smile-version of John Lennon’s “So this is Christmas (War is over)” in my head - one of my very favourite songs which was recorded when I was just one month old.
“So this is ... . And what have you done? Another year over. And a new one just begun. And so this is ... . I hope you have fun. The near and the dear one. The old and the young. A very Merry ... . And a Happy New Year. Let's hope it's a good one. Without any fear ... And so this is ... . For weak and for strong. For rich and the poor ones. The road is so long. And so Happy ... . For black and for white. For yellow and red ones. Let's stop all the fight. ... War is over - If you want it - War is over - Now!”

Reading the world-news on Friday showed that all of us have to try better. Andreas and I work on new plans and new projects in the World’s Greatest Smile.
And we need some more people who want to support us, realizing them.
If you are one of them,
please e-mail us!

“So this is ... . And what have you done?...”


01/25/2008, Friday, 13:28, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Today is
World’s Greatest Smile -
Start with a Smile -
Day 2008!

“Be the change you want to see in the world!” Gandhi

Lots of participants smile today all over the world as a sign for their willingness to communicate in a more friendly and peaceful way.
This year  many, many (really many) children take part again - on their own, in groups, in schools, and other friendly places. We are looking forward to the future when all these children are adults and allowed to make more influential and maybe even political decisions! So today’s adults, please, let’s provide the best point of departure for them!
Thank you for all of your announcements of participation!

P.S.: Thanks so much for all e-mails you wrote during the last time! We really appreciate all your friendly words, suggestion, encouragement and best wishes!
Because we are swamped in work right now, we were not able to answer everybody so far. Please be a bit patient, we will answer you as soon as possible!

01/24/2008, Thursday, 12:53, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Tomorrow is World’s Greatest Smile-Day!

The participation in the World’s Greatest Smile-Start with a Smile -Day is a symbolic act, just needs a few moments, and you can take part wherever you are on that day because participation is not attached to a certain place.

So smile at January 25th 2008 for a moment -as long or short as you wish and wherever you like to, you don’t even have to leave the house to participate to make it possible for everybody to take part. More efficient is the participation in a group, for example a business, a school or any other gathering of people.

It is just a symbolic smile to express the wish for a friendlier communication and we wanted to make participation as easy as possible to enable everybody to take part. And so it is really very easy to do it. And if you do it right, you’ll have a lot of fun as well!

My father-in-law sent us this beautiful picture of a “smiling” Cape Hyrax he took.
You can find more great photos on his web site


01/21/2008, Monday, 13:41, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Better Party
After a very busy week with a lot of work we spent the Sunday on a birthday party in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic! With cake (which we unfortunately couldn’t eat because we are vegetarian (gelatine)), party hats, TV team, ships and everything which belongs to a birthday party.

“Happy birthday”-singing and cake

The parrot on the right is Merlin, a Rainbow Macaw, and the Maritime Museum’s latest crew member.

We have to try this next time...

One day bombs exist only in museums.

On our way home...


01/16/2008, Wednesday, 12:54, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Let’s go back to work and play!
Because it’s mostly best in many ways to teach people new things in a playful way, here is another of our
Great-Games-Collection for friendly communication and teamwork. Like all our games you can play it with children and adults!

Dwarfs, Giants & Fairies
Ok, Dwarf, Giants & Fairies is a for some people a kind of confusing game. That is part of the fun - so stay relaxed and enjoy!
But though I love it because it is such a metaphorical game, and you can teach people so much about communication and how to jointly make decisions about themselves and their group while having a really great time together!
The aim of the game, what you need, the rules of the game and what you can expect: Click here: Play Dwarfs, Giants & Fairies!

01/15/2008, Tuesday, 13:31, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

World’s Greatest Smile - Day 2008:
Smile where the Smile begun

Physics Nobel Laureate Prof. Dr. Frank Wilczek announced his fourth participation in the World’s Greatest Smile-Day!

Frank Wilczek and me

Frank Wilczek definitely belongs to the brightest and friendliest persons I ever had the pleasure to meet. (And that’s the reason why he is one of the very few people who got a place on our Genius List! Read our article on the Genius List (in German) about him, his brain, his Nobel Prize and other awards, books, quotations and more!)

Professor Wilczek got the Nobel Prize in Physics 2004 for the discovery of asymptomic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction.

And besides some of his books you can purchase “I love Frank Wilczek”- and “Frank Wilczek loves me”-T-shirts at amazon...

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01/14/2008, Monday, 12:48, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

World’s Greatest Smile - Day 2008:
More knowledge about the past and more Smile for the future

Physics Nobel Laureate Prof. Dr. George Smoot is going to support the World’s Greatest Smile.
Additional to his nice e-mail he sent this beautiful picture showing him on a boat in the Usselmeer.
“... I am happy to participate
Is this an appropriate smile showing me looking to a peaceful future?...”

Professor Smoot was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, 2004, for the discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

He works in experimental astrophysics and observational cosmology finding out how the universe did begin. As far as I’m concerned a highly interesting topic!

He wrote a book called “Wrinkles in Time” in which he efforts to uncover the origins of the universe. “Astrophysicist and adventurer George Smooth spent twenty years pursuing the “holy grail of science”- a relentless hunt that led him from the rain forest of Brazil to the frozen wastes of Antarctica. For decades he persevered - struggling against time, the elements, the forces of ignorance and bureaucratic insanity.And finally, on Apil 32, 1992, he made a startling announcement that would usher in a new scientific age. For George Smoot and his dedicated team of Berkley researchers had proven the unprovable - uncovering, inarguably and for all time, the secrets of the creation of the universe.” (Back cover)

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01/13/2008, Sunday, 18:12, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Where is the ocean...? Part three
Here we go!










See the little dark spot in the middle of the picture above?
This is a bigger version. Isn’t that marvellous?!




(And I got just one wet foot.)

01/11/2008, Friday, 13:17, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

World’s Greatest Smile - Day 2008:
Our newest Nobel Smile

We got a new e-mail from Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Dr. Sir Harold Walter Kroto, who announced his support for the World’s Greatest Smile.

Prof. Dr. Sir  Kroto was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996, for the discovery of fullerenes. The Fullerenes, are a family of carbon allotropes named after Richard Buckminister Fuller and are sometimes called buckyballs, when in a spherical configuration. Anyway they look pretty elegant.

And an interesting statement I found is that he “now claims to have four "religions": humanism, atheism, amnesty-internationalism and humourism.” (wikipedia)

“My advice is to do something which interests you or which you enjoy (though I am not sure about the definition of enjoyment) and do it to the absolute best of your ability. If it interests you, however mundane it might seem on the surface, still explore it because something unexpected often turns up just when you least expect it. With this recipe, whatever your limitations, you will almost certainly still do better than anyone else. Having chosen something worth doing, never give up and try not to let anyone down.“
And in addition my advice is -besides some others-: read his
Autobiography (where I found this quotation).

Ok, I have to say that I always found it a bit challenging to answer Prof. Dr. Sir Kroto’s e-mails, because even if we did quite some research on the internet, we still don’t know the appropriate way of addressing a “Prof. Dr. Sir”.
And what do you do if the addressee signs his e-mails with his first name? And what do you do if you think the formal correct form is ‘x’ and the addressee seems to be so likeable that you really better like the way ‘y’?


01/10/2008, Thursday, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

18:45, Meike
We just came back from a little walk and ... today we have seen our first Bald Eagle in Halifax! All of a sudden it flew right across our way a few meters in front of us!
I was too busy with hopping up and down (Did I mention that some people think that we have an ability for enthusiasm sometime?) to take a picture.
So I took this picture of the location a minute later and added a free picture of a Bald Eagle to give you an impression how it looked like.

11:47, Meike
World’s Greatest Smile - Day 2008:
Smiles everywhere

Some people think that we have an ability for enthusiasm. And, yes, we do! we proofed it when we received a great e-mail from Nobel prize laureate Professor Dr. Oliver Smithies.

“... Keep up the good work. I will smile on January 25th, 2008. All the best for your peace project. ...”

Besides a long list of awards Professor Smithies was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2007 for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells. Now he says that his “research interests include the construction of animal models of complex human genetic diseases to facilitate better studies of their genetics and the resultant pathology and to help develop new modes of treatment, including gene therapy. Major effort currently is on hypertension and on hemoglobinopathies.”

P.S.: Guess where Professor Smithies was born. Hm? Right, in Halifax! (Ok, Halifax, West Yorkshire, England (but ... anyway)


01/08/2008, Tuesday, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

14:07, Meike
World’s Greatest Smile - Day 2008:
A new Nobel Smile

Nobel prize laureate Prof. Dr. Donald Arthur Glaser is our newest Very Important Participant in the World’s Greatest Smile Day 2008 as he wrote us now.

1960 Professor Glaser received the Nobel Prize in Physics  for the invention of the bubble chamber, a kind of pressure cooker with windows - a powerful instrument for the study of atomic particles.
He changed is in research to molecular biology starting with a project on UV induced cancer in 1962.
And today Professor Glaser works at the UC Berkeley Vision Science faculty on Computational models of the human visual system. Their “main goal is to construct computational models of the human visual system based on its measured abilities (psychophysics) and architecture (neurophysiology and anatomy). These models are intended to give insights into the workings of vision that will lead to predictions of the behavior of the system in the real world in addition to the laboratory experimental situation.”

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10:53, Meike
Where is the ocean...? Part two

New information: The Ocean is best to find in Halifax between 4:20 pm and 12:35 pm - except Tuesdays / Wednesdays? ... Anyway - good to know...


01/07/2008, Monday, 14:43, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

World’s Greatest Smile - Day 2008:
Nobel encouragement again

Ok, some people really know how to write encouraging e-mails. And Nobel prize laureate Prof. Dr. Dudley Herschbach definitely belongs to them. Actually all mails he sends us are worth to be printed and put on the wall.

Here is a short extract of the last one: “I'm delighted with your project.  Will certainly smile on the 25th and ask everybody I see that day to do so.   ... Thanks for your initiative on WGS ...”

And here are some additional pros: 1986 Professor Herschbach was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry  for the contributions concerning the dynamics of chemical elementary processes.
He is a board member of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a non-profit policy organization, established by the Council for a Livable World in 1980, that seeks the reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons as a significant tool of U.S. national security policy. Prof. Herschbach is also a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists which is a nontechnical magazine that covers global security and public policy issues, especially related to the dangers posed by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
Beside that Dudley Herschbach has lent his voice to The Simpsons for the episode Treehouse of Horror XIV where he is seen presenting the Nobel Prize in Physics to Professor Frink.

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01/06/2008, Sunday, 19:08, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Where is the Ocean...? Part one

Wikipedia says about our new wonderful home town the “Halifax Regional Municipality is home to a number of outdoor recreational opportunities, including numerous ocean and lake beaches”. So now it is time for us to find out: Where is the ocean...?

Well, here it is.
How picturesque. Right between a construction site and a cemetery. Can you imagine all the romantic sunrises we will see here?


01/04/2008, Friday, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

18:44, Meike
World’s Greatest Smile - Day 2008:
Nobel Participant

And another e-mail reached us: Nobel prize laureate Prof. Dr. Kurt Wüthrich is going to smile for us on the World’s Greatest Smile-Day again!
Professor Wüthrich got the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2002 for his development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for determining the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution. Besides that he was awarded the “World Future Award, The World Awards, Vienna, Austria”, the “Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology, Inamori Foundation, Kyoto, Japan” and the “Médaille d'Honneur en Argent, Société d'Encouragement au Progrès, Paris, France”. Besides that Prof. Kurt Wüthrich got several international Honorary Degrees for example in China, India, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Argentina, Hungary, and Russia.
World’s Greatest Smile VIPs

14:35, Meike
Cooold day...
It seems that we reached the point where you actually think about if you really want to taking of your gloves to take a picture. And after taking the picture you have not enough feeling in your fingers to close the zipper of your photobag.
Some very different ways of thinking are starting.


01/03/2008, Thursday, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

10:52, Meike
World’s Greatest Smile - Day 2008:
If just everybody could have such a Smile...

And for the third time one of our most committed allies smiles for us again!
Nobel prize laureate Prof. Dr. William D. Phillips wrote us an E-mail and announced his renew participation in the “World’s Greatest Smile-Day”.
1997 Professor Phillips got the Nobel Prize in Physics for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. Beside that he is a founding member of the International Society for Science & Religion.

We deeply appreciate Professor Phillips’ dedication to the “World's Greatest Smile”!

08:46, Meike

Halifax, -16°C (Wind Chill -29°C)


3rd January

12 years of Meike & Andreas

We won.

01/02/2008, Wednesday, 20:20, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

World’s Greatest Smile - Day 2008:
Our season of dancing and singing started today.

Today we got a great E-Mail from Nobel Laureate Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ketterle. He is “...happy to participate :-) ...” And we are definitely happy, too!

Professor Ketterle works at one of the most exciting places of the world, the MIT, on the “world of nanokelvin atoms and the magic of matter waves!”
2001 he got the Nobel Prize in Physics for the achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates.
Beside that Wolfgang Ketterle achieved lots of awards including the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit) which is the only general state decoration of Germany.

World’s Greatest Smile VIPs


01/01/2008, Tuesday, 03:51, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

We were there!

Yes, we were there. All of us.
“Live concert ... featuring great live entertainment and a spectacular Midnight Kaleidoscope of Fireworks from the roof of Halifax City Hall”  told us Halifax’ Website. That seemed to become entertaining - and I like concerts. So we got some extra socks on and went to the ‘Grand Parade’. And it seemed that just everybody else came, too. No one  mentioned the -4°C (Wind Chill -11°C).

The music was great. Just the applause sounded very strange to us: thousands of gloves tapping...! A very new sound for me!

Then a final countdown, short but impressive fireworks, another song ... and then ... everybody went home - 10 minutes after midnight.
15 minutes after midnight (the time when in Germany the party would have started) they began to break down the stage. We were surprised.

Anyway eventually I have to say that the ambiance was great! Good entertainment. No drunk people (!) or firecracker. Free bus and ferry rides for everybody. A snow slide right next to the concert with a lot of kids and adults on it. Many crazy caps. And lots of dancing friendly people in a very good mood.
My best New Year’s Eve party so far - definitely!

We wish you all a
peaceful, healthy, successful
and very happy new year!


12/31/2007, Monday, 15:12, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Neat - at least clean - future

We finally went on the journey into our basement where we dared to use one of the (at least in Germany) famous North American washing machines.
And - behold - even if it looked like a shredder our cloth survived - and moreover got clean.
And even the dryer did after “a little” convincing what it was supposed to do.
Oh, and no, our socks did not shrink - our feet just grew (I think)...


12/28/2007, Friday, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

18:21, Meike:

Another adventure trip
to the supermarket was necessary and right across the street we found ... this:

Oh and - really - it isn’t that cold any more!

13:10, Meike:
“Cold and Flu Report”

I have not been ill for about two years, since I knocked myself out while jumping on a trampoline and landed upside down headfirst pinpoint next to it. And even then I was able to give a several hours lasting TV interview the very next day...!

So - if all Canadians do their jobs as thoroughly as this virus does - I am very impressed!

Actually the weather forecast includes sometimes an official “Cold and Flu Report” section in Canadian and US television. I never saw something like that in Germany. And Halifax got a three out of four in Cold and Flu risks. Probably they found that out right in front of our front door.
Here is a little CNN Quiz: Facts vs. fiction about cold and flu


12/26/2007, Wednesday, 15:57, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Beautiful Christmas decoration in Halifax
We crawled to our nearest supermarket and found among others this wonderfully decorated house on our way.
Actually the Christmas decoration is much more colourful here in Halifax than it was in Hamburg. Even if there is not as much “official” decoration of our new home town, the house owners seem to spend a lot of effort in decorating their own houses. And they did it just beautifully! It is a wonderful experience to wander through the streets and admire their handiwork and all the colourful lights!


12/20/2007, Thursday, 09:58, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Need a place just for yourself?
This is a great rudimental tree house which we found some days before on one of our first walks through our new home city Halifax.
Very nice!


12/19/2007, Wednesday, 13:41, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Language resources
Thanks to a kind reader of this web site a new language found its way to our list of languages with the most important vocabularies.
Thank you so much, Biglox, for the translation into


12/18/2007, Tuesday, 16:23, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Hurray, big party... (harrumph)

Our sociable research object Hccv#1 (Halifax’ common cold virus number 1) seems to have invited one of his friends to celebrate a long term party with us. (No, it didn’t ask before - we have to talk about that later.)
So it happened that now we are four of us here: Andreas, outgoing Hccv#1, our new guest Hsf#1 (Halifax’ stomach flu number 1), and me. Andreas bravely still tries to dress festive food (not easy with that many unknown ingredients, not to mention the smoke detector-challenge - nobody wants to watch me hop up and down right now, believe me). And I regularly decorate the party venue with ... anyway.
At least Hccv#1 and Hsf#1 appear to enjoy themselves tremendously - so we seem to be great hosts...


12/17/2007, Monday, 11:51, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Weekend: Still cold...



Well, if we wouldn’t had to stay in bed, we definitely would have been at the Halifax’ Parade of Lights, which must have been wonderful. So we just could watch it on TV.

If I can’t get out into the snow, the snow just comes inside... Very handy!

12/14/2007, Friday, 12:44, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Our official virus research result: Not much better

Maybe because they talk so much about having a cold in Canadian / US television advertising, we (more unconsciously) decided to try out one of the Halifax’ common cold viruses.
And here is the definite result: It is not much better than the Hamburg version!
P.S.: At least the tissues are softer...


12/12/2007, Wednesday, 13:29, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

(our new staircase: the carpet feels as if
they put some foam under it, like walking
on clouds without getting wet feet)

Well, I could write something about our electrical power outage yesterday afternoon, but I promised to write something smooth, so here we go:

Soft, softer, Halifax!

Everything is sooo soft here. It is really unbelievable. Linen are soft. Pillows are pillowy. Tissues are softer than soft. Carpets are so soft that is sometimes hard to walk on them. Buns are soft. And the socks in the shops are even so soft that you can hardly feel it if you touch them! Probably you can loose yourself in a puppy - have to check that.
Serviceable the water is so soft that there are no chalk stains in the bathroom when you splashed around. (I tried it...) And if you take a shower and wash your hair, your head literally turns into your own cashmere pet - Andreas’ more than my more shaggy one, but I work on it.


12/11/2007, Tuesday, 12:30, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Another action report - next time I write something really smooth, I promise!

New kitchen - new adventures! Our new kitchen is great - or would be great, if we could use it without activating our fire alarm. One of our smoke detectors seems to be a bit overactive and starts whenever we just think about cooking.
This way we activated a horrible loud alarm three times till now - by cooking water!
So here is our brand new rice-, potato or whatever you like to cook with water- receipt:

  • Open the windows.
  • Turn on every fan you can get.
  • Be brave and turn on the stove with a pot of water on it.
  • Just before the water starts cooking, the water damp activates the fire alarm in the bedroom (the one over our bed, the one in our kitchen seems not to work somehow...).
  • Now it starts to be a bit exciting:
    If you are Andreas: Take the pot of water and run as fast as you can - but very carefully - to the nearest window and hold the pot out of it.
    And if you are Meike: Hop on the bed and grab whatever is available (pyjama, notebook...) and swing it as fast as you can around for a better circulation of air. Beside that try to cover your ears with all of your unused extremities.
  • Now think about how many calories you burnt while cooking and then have a look on your wet but uncooked food and figure out how to eat it this time... (Yes, we ate it each time...!)

Actually after we tried this receipt three times now, we decided to discover our new microwave!
... Even if I think that microwaves are a little scary since I once saw someone to set frozen raspberries on fire in it (... pondering silence ... ok, you know that it was me, so...). But now I read that you just have to put a lump of aluminium foil in it - and after a second you get a delicious menu crawling out of it ridden by someone who does the dishes, is that right?

12/10/2007, Monday, 14:47, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Our new fitness program?! I don’t hope so!

We just came back from in our favourite supermarket. And ok, we had our second Don’t-know-what-is-going-on-but-RUN!-situation within two weeks!
While we were in search of honey in one of those maaany looong aisles, we suddenly heard some loud shouting coming from the market exit. That didn’t bother us a lot but then a lot of people started running along our aisle away from the exit. And when some supermarket employees rapidly passed by with a kind of panic in their eyes we decided to run, too.
Interestingly the supermarket employees disappeared through a door with a sign “staff only” at the very back of the market - while the customers where staying in front of it - hiding behind the shelves. Very orderly - of course!
So we stood there with everybody else trying to figure out what has happened and listened to the loudspeaker which said something informative like “Fhgerjjnddfh! Security to the entrance! Gdehfhfiiek! 911! Okloafgh!”.
Anyway, after a while people started to relax a bit (even the nervous guy with the knife at his belt (...)) and after the police arrived we finally found our honey!

Actually, yes, I do prefer other kinds of sports and my adrenaline level feels perfectly fine when I just stay in a beautiful park watching the snowflakes fall! So thank you - I definitely don’t need this kind of mobilization.

P.S.: As we all know from the great MythBusters it might be a good idea to hide behind water (supposable shelves with juice in plastic bags are fine as well). And probably shelves with cans or a cosy place behind a huge freezer might be a healthier hideout than the cookie shelf.
Even if the cookies are just really, really delicious here - so hopefully is the honey...


12/09/2007, Sunday, 13:01, Meike, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada


We arrived in Halifax!

Well, there is sooo much to tell - so here is a very, very short summary:

  • One day before we left we had a complete loss of all (!...?.!...!!!) our computer data, inclusive our websites and pictures. A very friendly computer expert in a computer “emergency unit” solved that problem for us - of course his name was Angel... (no, I really didn’t make this up).
  • Evacuation of the Airport in London in the middle of the night... A very loud and alarmed stream of words from the announcement by loudspeaker let us know to “... leave the building immediately ... report all unattended bags ... and please for the comfort of everybody don’t smoke...!”
  • Some assumed cracks in the aircraft over the Atlantic (yes, of course right next to my seat...) rose the adrenaline level of the crew and passengers for a “little” while. After half an hour or so they tried to calm everybody down with the explanation that this would “just be a construction fault”. Very comforting - everybody felt much better immediately...!
  • But finally we safely arrived in Halifax. And it definitely was worth the effort! Sooo many friendly people around! Smiling faces everywhere! Kind of mixture of a sit com, soap opera and the workshop of Santa Clause.
  • Oh, and yes, it is cold here. Wind chill -16°C. We learned our lesson of not to take off your gloves within a few seconds. But now we got almost used to it - and we love snow anyway.
  • After a few days in a floret-overload B&B (even florets on the plugs) we moved into our first own apartment in Halifax - just between Downtown and a really great Park.
  • And we just started exploring...!

(Airport Hamburg, Germany)

(evacuation of the Airport London, Great Britain)

(Airport of Halifax, Canada)

(after 36 hours of travel)

(very cool playground in Halifax)

(first snow)

(Halifax’ harbour)

(beautiful pond in Point Pleasant Park)


20.11.2007, Tuesday, 10:53, Meike, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Today is Universal Children's Day

It is UN’s “day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children. It recommended that the Day was to be observed also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The Assembly suggested to governments that the Day be observed on the date and in the way which each considers appropriate. The date 20 November, marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.”


19.11.2007, Monday, 17:48, Meike, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany


Moving movements
We had a very busy weekend between packing cases and one of our farewell parties. A lot of sweat and tears drops - and a lot of fun as well!

The orange one is me.

The green one is Andreas and the black one is Lana - the most beautiful dog on earth
(I might not be very objective in this issue).


12.11.2007, Monday, 13:22, Meike, Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Yes, we do! Yes, we do! Yes, we do! Yes, we do! Yes, we really do!

Everybody who is thinking that people should change their places of residence from time to time to learn more about foreign countries, people, cultures, religions, languages and much, much more - is absolutely right!
We think the same!

That’s why at the end of November the organization of the international peace and communication project “World’s Greatest Smile - Start with a Smile!” (what basically means Andreas and me) will relocate. And even if there are so many nice and friendly countries on our wish list we had to decide where to go .

And the winner is ... hear an internal fanfare ...: Canada! More precisely ... hear an internal bagpipe ...: Halifax, Nova Scotia.

So we spend a lot of time these

days to organize things, pack our bags - no pipes, find a nice place to get a kilt and such things. (Of course we will be back in Germany from time to time to work here and visit family and friends as we are in other countries as well.)
And besides all the work we are going to do, now we are looking forward to play curling, watch whales and fondle porcupines if they ask us to.

Does anybody know a friendly place to buy vegetarian Marshmallows in Halifax? That would be great! Please let me know!

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(nicht perfekt,
aber manchmal
sehr unterhaltsam...)

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