A bullfrog near Saint Joseph, Missouri, USA. Photo: Austin Santaniello, 2017-07-03.

Fifty years ago, back in the 1970s, I practiced a form of transcendental meditation. This weblog post provides some basic information about it, along with lists of mantras. I am referring to this content as open-source meditation. It comes without any guarantees. While there are undoubtedly differences of opinion, I do not think most people need a guru, or any form of instructor in order to meditate. People who disagree about this, or other matters, are encouraged to provide enlightenment, by writing a comment.

Among the books I am currently, but reluctantly, reading is Johann Hari (1979 – ) Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention – and How to Think Deeply Again (2022). Hari has had a history of ethical issues, including plagiarism, related to journalism, and like much of his work, this book has also received criticism. The topic of the book is important, and there is no harm in reading this book, as long as one is aware of its limitations.

While reading this book with respect to the challenges of multi-tasking, as well as sleep deprivation, I began wondering if other animals also suffered from these problems. Crows, I recently learned, are capable of using probability. This is why a photo of a bullfrog appears. Is it a secret meditator? I also wondered if some form of meditation could be useful, for aging humans, such as myself.

Claimed benefits of Meditation


  • Improved cardiovascular health: Studies have shown that TM can help reduce blood pressure, improve circulation and increase oxygen flow to the heart.
  • Reduced response to pain
  • Reduced insomnia and improvement in sleep: TM has been linked to an increase in the production of melatonin – a hormone thought to be responsible for promoting good sleep.

Mental Health

  • Reduced stress and anxiety.
  • Reduced symptoms of depression.


  • Increased focus and concentration.
  • Increased productivity and creativity.
  • Improved short-term and long-term memory.


  • Improved emotional regulation and resilience.
  • Improved self-awareness
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Improved emotional well-being and happiness


Choose a mantra. Mantras help the mind enter a state of inner stillness and peace, preventing active thinking. Select one that resonates with you. A number of mantras are listed below. Choose a location for meditation. It should be a place where you won’t be disturbed. Twenty-first century reminder: switch off that hand-held device that accompanies you, or put it on silent mode.

Meditating. First, sit comfortably. The spine should be upright but not rigid. The back can be supported. Second, close eyes. Third, silently repeat a mantra. Some forms of meditation use mantras that are religious words, typically with origins in Sanskrit. Others use sounds without any meaning. The advantage of a meaningless mantra is that it is easier to switch off thoughts. Meditators often claim that they enter a state of deep relaxation. Fourth, continue for twenty minutes.

Conclusion (once the 20 minutes are up). First, slowly open your eyes. Second, bring your attention back to your surroundings. Third, take some deep breaths and slowly stand up. Fourth, the real world awaits you. Return to whatever needs to be done. Fifth, remember to meditate twice a day.

Sleep Meditation

Meditating to help a person to sleep requires modifications to be made to the standard procedures. Instead of sitting, continue to lie down on your bed. Allow your body to sleep if and when this is possible.

Walking Meditation

Some people are not particularly good at sitting still. They may prefer a walking meditation, where they can develop an awareness of their surroundings and, in so doing, calm the mind and relax the body.

  • Find a safe place to walk.
  • Start to walk slowly.
  • Pay close attention to the physical sensations of walking: the way your feet feel when they touch the ground; the way your muscles contract and release as you move; and the rhythm of your breath.
  • Possibilities: Notice the air on your face and hands. Notice how the humidity and heat feel on your body.
  • When your mind wanders, gently bring attention back to your body and to the physical sensations of walking.

1969 Transcendental Meditation mantras


1972 Transcendental Meditation mantras


1976 Transcendental Meditation mantras


1987 – Present Transcendental Meditation mantras


Other mantras are words or sentences in Sanskrit. These include: 1) Om (or Aum) is the prime symbol of Hinduism and one of the most important spiritual sounds. It is the sonic representation of the divine in Indic traditions. It is often chanted during spiritual recitation or used as a mantra during meditation in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. 2) Sat Nam is a combination of two ancient Sikh words, “Sat” meaning “truth” and “Nam” meaning “name” – essentially it means “I am truth”. 3) Om Mani Padme Hum is a Buddhist mantra to invoke the blessings of Avalokiteshvara – the bodhisattva of compassion. It’s commonly translated from Sanskrit as, “The jewel is in the lotus.” 4) Ra Ma Da Sa is a Kundalini yoga that combines four sounds to create a positive vibration that helps release stress and tension as well as to bring balance to the body and the mind: “Ra” represents the sun and the masculine energy; “Ma” represents the moon and the feminine energy; “Da” represents the Earth and the healing energy; “Sa” represents infinity and the enlightenment energy. 5) Aad Guray Nameh is a Sikh meditation mantra meaning, “I bow to the primal wisdom”: Aad Guray Nameh = I bow to the Primal Wisdom, Jugaad Guray Nameh = I bow to the Wisdom of all the ages, Sat Guray Nameh = I bow to the True Wisdom, Siri Guroo Dayvay Nameh = I bow to the Great Invisible Wisdom.

Note: No weblog post will be published on 2023-09-23. The next one will be published on 2023-09-26.

Faroe Islands

My son, Alasdair, and I arrived at the airport on Vágar, on Monday, 2023-07-10, for a short adventure that will last until Friday, 2023-07-14. After picking up our rental car, a Hyundai Kona diesel with manual transmission, we headed off towards the neighbouring island of Streymoy!

Unlike Iceland, which met us with desolation, we were met by fog which helped us suspend our judgement. We soon stopped at a food store, where we encountered three young workers who, true to tradition, complained about their elders. They were helpful, and we were able to purchase necessities for our domestic life.

We took the easy way out buying coffee that was already ground. The food store had a machine to grind coffee beans.

We then continued on to our accommodation at Kvivik, run by Petra Iversen. It was a comfortable basement suite, suitable for two people.

Domestic necessities

Healthy eating? Puffed wheat coated with honey and sugar, along with orange flavoured yoghurt.
Safely stored in a freezer, two varieties of ice cream chocolate and licorice.
We took the easy way out buying coffee that was already ground. The food store had a machine to grind coffee beans. Indeed, we later found that our hostess had a coffee bean grinder in her kitchen. This took me back to the early 1980s, when Trish worked at a coffee and tea store that ground coffee to the specifications of its clients.

Alasdair noted, correctly it turned out, that our accommodation had been outfitted by a woman. Appliances included a filter coffee maker and kettle, microwave oven, conventional oven, induction stove top, freezer and refrigerator, as well as a dishwasher and a battery operated, bagless vacuum cleaner. Dishes, plates, glasses, cups and flatware were found in abundance, in the cupboards. I especially liked her red, rubberized coffee cups. This place felt more like home, than any other place we had stayed in previously on this trip.

On Tuesday evening, we met our hostess, to pay for our accommodation. She had a coffee bean grinder in her kitchen. This took me back to the early 1980s, when Trish worked at a coffee and tea store in Molde that ground coffee to the specifications of its clients.

The coffee cup, turned upside down.
Tvis Køkken = kitchen, from Holstebro, Denmark.

On this trip I have decided that my role is to look at culture rather than nature. Thus, I was delighted to find two works of art from our accommodation that are included here for everyone’s enjoyment.

On our last evening, we were given a sample of Faroe cuisine, complete with whale blubber and mutton.

Faroe cuisine

August Insights

Some notable events have taken place in 2023-08.

Women’s World Cup 2023

I do not follow sports, but sometimes read results so that I can interact with normal people. There are two counrties that are natural for me to support, Canada and Norway, not to mention Ireland, that has provided citizenship to the others in my immediate family. With the Women’s World Cup, I felt I could impress these people by reporting a select few game results. Already near the start, on 2023-07-20, with Norway losing 1-0 to New Zealand, and Ireland losing 1-0 to Australia, I realized that backup could be necessary, in order to be on the winning side. Fortunately, Denmark and Sweden were also playing. By the end of group play, Canada and Ireland were out, but the Scandinavians were still in. On 2023-08-05, Norway lost 3-1 to Japan, and was out. The next day, Sweden beat USA on penalties, and was still in. The day after that, Denmark lost 2-0 to Australia. All hopes were on Sweden. In the end, on 2023-08-19, Sweden ended up in third place. On 2023-08-20 Spain won with England in second place. The scene was set for the main drama…

Dear Luis Rubiales: sportswomen are not dolls to be kissed, touched and patronised. Those are the words of Barbara Ellen in The Guardian.

Yes, I eagerly awaited the resignation of Luis Rubiales (1977 – ) for forceably kissing Jenni Hermoso (1990 – ), a Spanish professional footballer who plays for Liga MX Femenil club CF Pachuca (Mexico) and for the Spain women’s national team. She has previously played for teams in Spain, including Barcelona, and is the all-time top scorer for both Barcelona and Spain, at the end of the Women’s World Cup. She did not consent to be kissed.

Rubiales is president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and one of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) vice presidents. He refused to resign, and was dumb enough to say, “A social assassination is taking place. I don’t deserve this manhunt I have been suffering.” It took Fédération Internationale de football association = FIFA to remove him, if only temporarily. FIFA will look at whether his actions constitute violations of Article 13 in its disciplinary code, concerning offensive behaviour and fair play.

The Spanish government was also taking action to force his removal. It was asking Rubiales to explain himself to a Spanish administrative court as soon as possible. If it deems he violated the professional sports code, he could then be suspended.

Hermoso stated: “I want to make clear that at no time did the conversation to which Mr Luis Rubiales refers to in his address take place and, above all, his kiss [was n]ever consensual.”

She added his claims were “categorically false and part of the manipulative culture that he has generated”.

“I feel the need to report this incident because I believe no person, in any work, sports or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviours. I felt vulnerable and a victim of impulsive-driven, sexist, out-of-place act, without any consent on my part”.

“Quite simply, I was not respected.”

She was put “under continuous pressure” to help with a “statement that could justify” Rubiales’ actions – and so were her family, friends and team-mates.

“These types of incidents add to a long list of situations that the players have been denouncing. This incident is the final straw and what everyone has been able to witness on live television also comes with attitudes like the one we saw this morning [Friday, 2023-08-25] and have been part of our team’s daily life for years”.

81 players confirm they will not play for Spain’s women’s team until he is removed from his post. In addition, two Spanish men’s national team and Real Betis players, Héctor Bellerín and Borja Iglesias, criticised Rubiales on social media, with the latter refusing to play for Spain until Rubiales resigned.

By Saturday, 2023-08-26, RFEF had threatened to sue Jenni Hermoso, accusing her of lying and defamation, and the women football players who signed a letter in which they refused to play for their country as long as Luis Rubiales remained its leader. Obviously, a lot more people in the RFEF need to be replaced.

Then, Ángeles Béjar (? – ), Rubiales’ mother, entered the Church of the Divine Shepherdess in Motril, Granada, Spain on Monday morning, 2023-08-28, to begin a hunger strike to protest what she describes as her son’s unwarranted, inhumane and bloodthirsty hunt.

2023-09-11 Update:

Ángeles Béjar was taken to hospital on 2023-08-30.

On 2023-09-05, Jorge Vilda (1981 – ) was fired as head coach of the Spanish women’s national team.

According to a Guardian article, Luis Rubiales’ uncle, Juan Rubiales, told El Confidential: “We Rubialeses are absolutely committed to the idea of dignity. And dignity is to defend Jenni, to understand her, and to reproach the shameful behaviour of this president…. I think [Luis Rubiales] needs a social re-education programme and a re-education in his relationship with women.” He described his nephew as a man “obsessed with power, luxury, money and women”. In a separate interview with the newspaper El Mundo, he added that his nephew was a “man with a clear machista [sexist] tinge”.

Irene María Montero Gil, MP is a Spanish politician and psychologist, member of the Podemos party. She has been the Spanish Minister of Equality since 2020-01-13. She described the kiss as a “lower-intensity” form of sexual violence that is often invisible and normalised in society.” On 2023-09-10 she tweeted: “Se acabó [It’s over].”

On 2023-09-10, Gary Lineker, former England footballer turned BBC broadcaster who played in Spain for three years, tweeted about Rubiales resignation: Rubiales: “No voy a dimitir. No voy a dimitir. No voy a dimitir. No voy a dimitir.” “Voy a dimitir [I resign].”

Rich Men North of Richmond

Oliver Anthony, playing Rich Men North of Richmond

At the start of the first American Elephant Party television debate on 2023-08-22, an excerpt was played of Oliver Anthony’s (1992 or 1993 – ) song, Rich Men North of Richmond, then discussed. Fox News host, Martha MacCallum, said Anthony’s “lyrics speak of alienation, of deep frustration with the state of government and of this country. Washington DC is about 100 miles north of Richmond.”

On stage stood seven current or former governors and congressmen and one venture capitalist, all members of the Elephant Party.

McCallum asked: “Governor DeSantis, why is this song striking such a nerve in this country right now?”

Ron DeSantis, replied: “Our country is in decline. This decline is not inevitable. It’s a choice. We need to send [Donkey Party member and US president] Joe Biden back to his basement and reverse American decline.”

However, on Friday 2023-08-25, nonpartisan Anthony released a 10-minute video, in which he rejected that answer and denied that he was a conservative figure. “The one thing that has bothered me is seeing people wrap politics up in this. I’m disappointed to see it. Like, it’s aggravating seeing people on conservative news try to identify with me, like I’m one of them. That song has nothing to do with Joe Biden. You know, it’s a lot bigger than Joe Biden. That song’s written about the people on that stage and a lot more, not just them.”

It was hard, Anthony said, to “get a message out about your political ideology or your belief about the world in three minutes and some change. But I do hate to see that song being weaponized, like I see. I see the right trying to characterize me as one of their own. And I see the left trying to discredit me, I guess in retaliation. That’s got to stop.”

He said the response to his song had crossed party lines and that he welcomed a diverse audience.

“If you watch the response videos on YouTube, it’s not conservative people responding to the song. It’s not even necessarily Americans responding to the song. I don’t know that I’ve seen anything get such positive response from such a diverse group of people. And I think that terrifies the people that I sing about in that song. And they’ve done everything they can in the last two weeks to make me look like a fool. To spin my words. To try to stick me in a political bucket.”

Wikipedia tells us, that Anthony is the first songwriter to debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with no prior chart history in any form, Anthony is the first male songwriter to chart 13 songs all simultaneously in the top 50 Digital Song Sales while still alive—Prince and Michael Jackson exceeded that count only following their deaths.

Confession 1: I have not actually listened to Oliver Anthony’s track. After about 10 seconds I find the raspy voice and Piedmont dialect , along with a resonator guitar so unpleasant that I turn it off. I was able to listen to Johnny Cash (1932 – 2003), or more likely his artificial intelligence alter-ego, singing it.

Confession 2: I find the names of political parties difficult to accept. I am not sure what makes, say, the Democratic party, more democratic than another party. I frequently avoid that aspect of political debate, by codifying their real names. In this alternative universe, the party that is closest to me is the Marmot party. Why? The marmots I know best, those living on McArthur Island in Kamloops, British Columbia are enthusiastic and engaged, but without direction. I often rename parties after party symbols.


The effects of the Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii wildfire. Photo: 2023-08-17 at 10:02, taken by Glenn Fawcett, for the United States Department of Homeland Security, and released into the public domain.

Wildfires have become an issue. To call them a serious problem is to undermine their destructiveness. I think especially of the village of Lytton in British Columbia, but also Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, not to mention Lahaina, on Maui. On 2023-08-19, West Kelowna, across Okanagan Lake from Kelowna, where I spent most of my childhood summers, was experiencing wildfires. Kelowna, was being threatened by them. They experienced the wildfire of a century twenty years earlier, on 2003-08-16. Yes, I too am amazed at how short centuries have become!

We have to improve the terms used to describe wildfire events, removing the time scale. A once in a century fire, could be more accurately described as a 1% chance wildfire event. This, has now become a more common 5% chance wildfire event. In another ten years that might increase to a 10% chance wildfire event. These percentages indicate that there is no regularity to these events.

Historically, there have also been large wildfires in the past, such the Peshtigo fire in Wisconsin in 1871 and the Sudbury fire in Ontario in 1916. At times in Australia, Indonesia and other places there have seen multiple fires burning simultaneously, causing significant harm and loss of life. Cities have also burned, notably, the Great Fire of London on 1666-09-05 and Chicago, that started the same day as the Peshtigo fire, 1871-10-08. New Westminster, where I grew up has experienced two massive fires that started on 1898-09-10 and 2020-09-13, respectively.

While I avoid expletives, I am thinking of introducing one for dramatic effect, combustion! (with variants). For example, “It was a combustive mess”. Like most other expletives, it adds no truthiness to a basic statement. Here, a mess is a mess. Combustive simply adds emotional flavour. While some forms of combustion are necessary, the world in my lifetime has produced too much of it. My hope is that by making it an expletive, people will reflect on their combustive behaviour and reduce or eliminate it.

Despite being as much of a NIMBY (not in my backyard) as the next person, I am a proponent of decarbonization, including the total elimination of fossil-fuels, such as natural (and unnatural) gas from houses. Induction stovetops are a more effective (but not necessarily cheaper) way to cook. Hydro, geo-thermal, solar and wind are effective ways of producing clean electricity.

Hawaiian Electric irresponsibly claimed that they could not turn off the electricity on Maui because some customers were dependent on electrical power for medical devices. In addition Maui uses electricity to provide water for residents. My reply is that batteries have been invented that can provide power to medical devices, in situations where it is unsafe to have grid power on. Yes, I am aware that someone has to think of that solution, and that batteries cost money. So does an enormous loss of life, with so many people unaccounted for! Where I have lived water relies on reservoirs and tanks at higher levels, and uses gravity feed to provide water to consumers. Admittedly, water may have to be pumped into these storage places.

Somewhat later, I received the following reply from a friend: Appears Hawaii Utility removed downed power poles, equipment, suspected of possibly causing the devastating fire …. therefore jeopardizing offficial investigation. Cover up?

Maui County is suing Hawaiian Electric over the fire that leveled Lahaina, The lawsuit includes a demand for a jury trial. It alleges the destruction could have been avoided if power lines had been shut off. This is part of a growing critical focus on the utility with videos apparently showing downed cables setting fire to vegetation. There were ample warnings of strong winds from a nearby hurricane, but Maui County claims which that Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries negligently kept power lines live. Some quotations: “These power lines foreseeably ignited the fast-moving, deadly, and destructive Lahaina Fire, which completely destroyed residences, businesses, churches, schools, and historic cultural sites.”; “Defendants knew that the high winds the [National Weather Service] predicted would topple power poles, knock down power lines, and ignite vegetation.”; “Defendants also knew that if their overhead electrical equipment ignited a fire, it would spread at a critically rapid rate.”

Maui County is not free of blame. Critics say it was not prepared for the event, and provided an inadequate response. In other place, such as California, electric utilities routinely shut down large stretches of above-ground power lines in strong winds. One has to question whether above-ground power distribution is suitable in the 21st century.

This 2023-08-08 fire was the deadliest wildfire in the United States for more than a century. It burned through about 800 hectares destroying the historic town of Lahaina, a former Hawaiian royal seat. It has rendered thousands of people homeless. Maui County released a list of 388 names of people who remain unaccounted for. Recovery is expected to take years. Federal estimates suggest the fire caused $5.5 billion of damage.

Popularity contests

At the end of August, Tim Anderson has written something I could never write, It has to do with the popularity of computer languages. This topic is easiest to explain by looking at fruits. Different fruits have different uses. Personally, I avoid apples and cherries because they don’t like me. I do consume citrus fruits, but they are not substitutes for each other. I would never eat a lemon or a lime with breakfast, like I would eat an orange or half a grapefruit.

Computer languages also have different uses. I regard scripting languages, such as JavaScript or Lua, as a type of glue, typically used to hold the components of websites together. There are database languages used to manipulate and organize data. In my mind, these are special purpose languages to be used restrictively, much like lemons or limes are used in cooking.

Then there are general programming languages, that can actually be used to make a software product. These are a totally different ilk, much like an orange or (for some people) an apple or a handful of cherries. There have been many generations of these, with Python being the most popular today. It was named after the British comedy group whose first name is Monty, rather than a snake. It first appeared in 1991. C, the language I use most, first appeared in 1972. Fortran first appeared in 1957.

I am now changing the advice I am giving to young people about which general purpose language to learn and use. My new favourite is Rust, named after the plant pathogenic fungi (order Pucciniales) with about 7 000 species. This programming language first appeared in 2015, but originated some years earlier at Mozilla, makers of the Firefox browser. It is supported by a number of large tech companies including Alphabet (Google), Amazon and Microsoft. Apple uses Swift, a competing language and successor to Objective-C, in most areas, but uses Rust in robotics.


On Monday, 2023-07-10 it was time to leave Iceland, and to head to the Faroe Islands. Excitement that morning consisted of an earthquake warning, followed almost immediately by a few earth-shaking moments that appeared to do no damage. We were up and showered before breakfast at 8:00, with a departure at 8:30, in order to return our rental car before the 10:30 deadline. The only problem was that our flight’s departure was delayed by four hours. So we had lots of time to explore the town of Keflavik.

A minor volcanic eruption had already begun as we drove across the Reykjanes Peninsula. We were told that no volcanic ash has been emitted, but noticed an unusual mist as we approached Keflavik Airport. Later, we learned there was a 200-meter long fissure on the slopes of the Litli Hrútur mountain, from which lava emerged as a series of lava fountains.

Unlike the day when we first rented our car, there were more staff than customers at the Budget/ Avis airport office. Alasdair reported the broken windshield, and paid the deductible for the damages. His travel insurance later refunded this amount.

We spent much of our time in Keflavik visiting a municipal park. Photos on our way there are shown below. There were many children in the park, and their activity of choice seemed to be standing in front of robotic lawn mowers, waiting for them to stop, then turn to avoid the human obstruction.

Later, we also walked into the business district, where we found a store that sold flags large enough for our flagpole, a typical souvenir for us. We were surprised to find that it was cheaper to buy an Icelandic flag in Norway, than in Iceland.

Necessities: Microwave communications tower, and water tower


Höfn is the Icelandic term for harbour. It is also a place in the south-east of Iceland, which has a model of the solar system. This weblog post is about this model. It is fairly accurate in terms of relative distance between solar system bodies, with the exception of the location of Pluto.

There are several characteristics to enjoy about a model like this. One of the most important is that it can be reproduced almost everywhere in the world. So, you too could create one, at a smaller scale in a room or garden, or at a larger scale across your county/ state/ province/ country. In this particular case, it is 2.8 km long. However, it could be any length desired. Then there is the data, with all sorts of interesting facts about the sun, and each planet. An example is the sun’s diameter in real life (1.4 million km = 1.4 Gm), and on the model (45 cm). The solar system model bodies are illustrated in two different ways. There is a photographic representation, as it would be seen through a telescope. There is a more naive representation, made by a pupil at the local school.

Not everyone is able to respond to scaled proportions appropriately. I remember one test to see if people understood the scale of the universe. Ask them if the moon or an elephant is larger. I thought it was a dumb question to ask, until one person seriously replied that an elephant is larger.

The Sun

The Sun





The Asteroid Belt






Weaknesses. I may criticize others for not knowing the true size of the moon. Yet, I have my own failings. No one would describe the photographs of the solar system information panels as professional. They were taken with a smart phone on a sunny day, which meant that because of my light sensitivity, I had to wear sunglasses while photographing them. Most of the time, I failed to capture the entire sign. Even when I did, it was not centred.

I explored the first part of the solar system, closest to the sun, with others, then went out on my own to explore the rest of it, some hours later. I was able to trace it, but unable to retrace the route back to our accommodation. I hadn’t recorded the accommodation address, so had no reference point to use on my smartphone map. Fortunately, I was able to give my location to Alasdair, who rescued me. It was totally undramatic. Yes, I may understand scale, but I don’t have a geographic sense of position, a fact well known to the others in my family.



Venturing into Seyðisfjörður involved about 20 km of driving in fog. While there, much of the fog lifted, so the return drive only involved about 10 km of fog over the 600 m high Fjarðarheiði mountain pass.

The area has a history dating back to the tenth century. It has also been the site of the world’s first modern industrialized whaling station, established in 1864. In 1906, the first telegraph cable connecting Iceland to Europe (and the world) made landfall here. In 1913, it was also the location of Iceland’s first high-voltage AC power plant, that included a hydroelectric dam. During World War II, it housed a British/ American military base.

While for most of the post-war period the economic focus was on fishing, today, it is tourism. the Icelandic port for the Smyril Line ferry M.S. Nörrona, built in 2003, that connects Iceland with Hirtshals, Denmark and Tórshavn, in the Faroe Islands.

The village was also a filming location for the Icelandic crime series, Trapped.

On 2020-12-18, the largest landslide in an Icelandic residential area hit, destroying thirteen houses and the Technical Museum of East Iceland! Many other buildings also suffered damage. Within hours, the entire village was evacuated.

Now, near the Smyril ferry terminal, a display explains the landslide in detail, especially the fate of individuals, complete with photographs by Katja Goljat and Matja Rust.

The Landslide Project

Yes, there are about 30 additional images and text like the previous two!

This photo shows where the landslide took place!


This is a Volkswagen Sportswagen HyMotion vehicle with H2 fuel cell technology. The photo is from 2014, and shows technology developed by Ballard Power Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia. Photo: Volkswagen.

HyMotion is the name Volkswagen applied to its hydrogen fuel cell prototypes. This post is mainly about Volkswagen, a company that was forced to transition to electric vehicles, because of Diesel-gate. The American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) , had found that Volkswagen had intentionally programmed turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to activate their emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing, which caused the vehicles’ NOx output to meet US standards during regulatory testing. However, the vehicles emitted up to 40 times more NOx in real-world driving.

About the same time, concerns about the danger of global warming led many countries to set up a timeline to phase out fossil fueled vehicles. It is actually a case of too little, too late. The European Union seemed to be heading in this direction, but then on 2023-03-28 it approved legislation ending sales of new carbon-emitting cars by 2035, but made an exception for E-fuel based internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, due to lobbying from Germany. That means ICE cars will continue to be available for sale after 2035, but will need to be fitted or retrofitted with fuelling inducement system technology to prevent the use of fossil fuels. E-fuels are synthetic fuels, regarded by some as carbon neutral because they are produced by capturing CO2, which offsets the emissions from usage. Carbon neutrality is not always the case. In contrast, hydrogen vehicles emit water vapour and warm air, while BEVs have zero tailpipe emissions.

The challenge is that billionaires, and other wealthy people immediately under them in terms of class, want supercar toys, powered by E-fuels. What E-fuel advocates either fail to understand, or more likely are not concerned about, are the dangers of combustion on living creatures, particularly the role of PM 2.5 particulates. In addition, vehicular noise pollution also becomes an issue, as people seek quieter cities, and other places to live.

After the Diesel-gate scandal broke in 2015, Volkswagen saw electrification as a way to redeem itself. New fossil-fueled light vehicles will not be available for sale after 2024-12-31. Many brands, including Hyundai, have already stopped selling ICE vehicles. Volkswagen in Norway will not sell them after 2023-12-31. Already now, almost 90% of light vehicle sales are battery EVs. Hydrogen vehicles are sold, but in insignificant numbers. I am not certain if Norway is following EU regarding E-fuels. However, there will be social pressure exerted on any potential E-fuel users, who will be seen as violators of the Norwegian social contract.

The motivation to write this post, followed an announcement by Volkswagen Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Oliver Blume (1968 – ), that the group would transition to hydrogen powered vehicles, after 2030! Previously, 2022-07-03, Blume had supported E-fuels as an effective, complementary solution to making cars cleaner. “Combustion engines can be powered with e-fuels in a virtually carbon-neutral manner. They don’t have to be converted or retrofitted for it. E-fuels can be offered as an admixture or alone at all filling stations. We have to offer an option to the owners of existing vehicles too.” This misses the point that combustion makes a major contribution to debilitating heath issues through the release of PM 2.5 particulates. It also shows his background as CEO of the Porsche division.

In addition, Blume seemed to be more concerned about the economic health of fuel providers. “If produced on an industrial scale, prices of less than $2 per litre could be possible. The important thing is that synthetic fuels are produced sustainably and in places in the world where renewable energy is abundant – then the higher energy input for production is irrelevant. E-fuels produced from water and the carbon dioxide extracted from the air for automobiles, planes and ships have the advantage over pure hydrogen that they can be transported more easily.”

Ballard Power Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia has developed technology for hydrogen fuel cell products, including membrane electrode assembly, plate and stack components. On 2015-02-11 it sold its technology for light vehicles to Volkswagen Group, but retained the rights to this technology for buses and non-automotive uses. Volkswagen introduced its Ballard based technology to the world in the form of four Volkswagen and Audi fuel cell concept vehicles at the Los Angeles auto show in 2014-11.

Since then, Volkswagen has gone on to develop further fuel cell technology. German patent DE 10 2020 119 021 B3 was issued on 2021-07-29 to Volkswagen and Kraftwerk Tubes. It involves a ceramic fuel cell membrane. Allegedly, this is cheaper to manufacture than a polymer membrane, as found on Toyota and Hyundai fuel cell vehicles. It works without any need for an expensive platinum electrocatalyst. Volkswagen states that this will allow them to produce vehicles with a 2 000 km range.

Volkswagen brand’s CEO Thomas Schäfer (1970 – ), said that E-fuels were unnecessary noise, and that hydrogen has some big disadvantages compared to battery technology and that it’s not for Volkswagen, at least not in the next ten years because it is not competitive, especially not for passenger cars, as the fuel tanks take up space in the cabin.

Still earlier, Blume’s predecessor Herbert Diess (1958 – ), criticized H2 fuel cell vehicles, referring to a report from Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) that concluded hydrogen vehicles are not the way to achieve climate neutrality. Battery electric cars (BEVs) are more sustainable and can be a more environmentally-conscious option for those who are concerned about their car’s emissions.

A move to H2 fuel cells and away from batteries does not seem to be the smartest move, for several reasons. While there are a certain number of early adapters, most of these interested in alternative vehicles have already taken the EV leap/ plunge, finding it a more appropriate solution for themselves than a H2 fuel cell vehicle. This is mainly an operating cost issue, but also a space issue, but increasingly a model availability issue. There are few fuel cell vehicle model choices. EVs have become dominant, with models suitable for a variety of use cases. People are unlikely to reassess their preference for EVs, especially considering that the operating costs of a H2 vehicle are several times higher than that of an EV. Of course, there are others who are brand loyal, irrespective of how stupidly the company they support acts. In Norway, when an EV needs charging, it is typically plugged in at 22:00, when energy prices are lowest. By morning, it is “fully” charged, typically to 80%, to preserve battery life.

A key word is convenience. In much the same way that workers find it more convenient to work at home, and are reluctant to return to the office, most electric vehicle operators find it more convenient to charge at home, and are reluctant to return to a fueling station. Home charging is a habit that grows quickly, especially when commercial high-speed charging is expensive, and offers no to few advantages. H2 is even more expensive.

A previous post discussed the colours of hydrogen, the assorted types of H2 available, based on how it is produced. About 95% of that H2 is methane based, meaning that it is essentially a fossil fuel, that produces CO2. Other types/ colours of H2 are more environmentally friendly, but with the power produced costing about three times more than electrical power from other sources such as wind, solar or hydro. Given a choice, I doubt if consumers would be willing to pay this for this fuel, given the availability of cheaper, more environmentally friendly alternatives (read: BEVs).

In 2023-06, three H2 stations in South Korea received contaminated black hydrogen, produced using steam methane reformation (SMR) — from Korea Gas’ Pyongtaek facility. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells used in hydrogen-powered cars need H2 with a purity of 99.9% to safely operate. SMR produces hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). A water-gas shift reaction is usually turns the CO into CO2, while the CO2 is removed using pressure-swing adsorption. In this particular case, some CO or CO2 may not have been properly removed. These impurities can cause irreversible damage, necessitating the replacement of the PEM and other components. For example, CO adsorbs strongly on the platinum electrocatalyst, and CO in hydrogen fuel degrades the performance of the polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC).

On 2019-16-10, an explosion destroyed a Uno-X hydrogen fueling station at Sandvika, near Oslo, Norway. This was covered in one post initially, then followed up in a second post, some two weeks later. More recently on 2023-07-18, hydrogen buses were being fueled at a Golden Empire Transit facility, in Bakersfield, California when one of the buses caught fire. One bus was destroyed and the dispensing portion of the hydrogen fueling station damaged.

In the world there are about 625 public hydrogen fueling stations, according to one source. At the top of the list are: Japan with 175, USA with 107, Germany with 92, China with 88 and France with 40. In Canada there are 8, of which 6 are located in British Columbia (Burnaby, Kelowna, Marpole in Vancouver, North Vancouver (2) and Victoria). There is also one in Mississauga, Ontario and another in Quebec City, Quebec. In Scandinavia, Norway and Denmark have 7 each, Sweden has 5, Iceland has three, while Finland has none. There is actually one located 124 km (1h 51m driving time) south of Cliff Cottage. It is the most northerly in Norway. Except, a Norwegian source states that there are only three H2 fueling stations currently operating in Norway! Interested readers can take it upon themselves to find the correct number of H2 fueling stations in the world. It is probably over 500, but less than 1 000. Currently, one source indicates that there are about 115 000 gas stations in the USA.

Ammonia (NH3) has also been suggested as an energy bearer. This will not be discussed here, except to reference a source for further information.

If Blume is wanting to shift to fuel cells to increase range, he should be aware that researchers at Pohang University of Science & Technology in China have found a way to multiply the energy storage of a battery by ten. An anode stores power when charging and releases it to provide power. Currently, most modern lithium batteries use an anode made of graphite. Other materials, like silicon, have a higher energy capacity, but researchers have been unable to create a stable battery with a silicon anode. This is because the reactions inside the battery cause the silicon to expand dangerously. A research team has created a binding material that will keep a high-capacity silicon anode from expanding.

Currently, the specific energy of a lithium-ion battery is 100–265 Wh/kg (0.360–0.954 MJ/kg). Our Buzz has a 80 kWh battery providing a theoretical 400 km of range. Using the above data, the battery mass should vary from 800 kg to 302 kg. Personally, I see little need for this range to increase by a factor of 10 to 4 000 km. Even the most enthusiastic of users would probably be content with a 2 000 km range. Normal mortals would probably willingly accept 1 000 km,

If the specific energy of a battery increases to 1 to 2.65 kWh/kg (3.6 – 9.54 MJ/kg), then the mass of a battery with a 1 000 km range is probably somewhere between 200 and about 75 kg. A Volkswagen Transporter T6 2.0 TDI has a fuel tank capacity of 80 liters, with fuel consumption per 7.5 liters (combined) per 100 km, or 75 litres for 1 000 km range. The density of diesel is about 0.85 kg/ litre, which means that 75 litres has a mass of almost 64 kg. This does not take into consideration the mass of the storage container. This means that the mass of an EV battery is approaching parity with the mass of diesel.

In 2021, Equinor, Aire Liquide and Eviny started Project Aurora, at Mongstad, Norway. Its goal was to construct a Norwegian liquid hydrogen manufacturing facility for maritime shipping. They estimated that manufacturing costs would likely be ca. US$9.30 per kg. That project was permanently abandoned in 2023-03, because it failed to attract customers. Liquid hydrogen would also be needed for aviation fuels. However, this price is three times the cost of Jet A fuel. Transportation of hydrogen is a major challenge. The US Department of Energy states that a single tanker of gasoline contains 14 times the energy as a tanker of hydrogen. Thus, for both maritime and aviation uses, it may be appropriate to produce H2 near the facilities where it is being used. This situation may also apply to vehicle H2 fueling stations.

It is useful to compare energy pathways. Here, two such pathways will be examined. The first looks at the use of electricity to produce liquid hydrogen, which is used to produce electricity to power, say, an aircraft or ship. Start with 10 MWh of electricty. Turning water into hydrogen is about 70% efficient. There is about 7 MWh of chemical energy in the resulting hydrogen. Compressing, storing, transporting and distribution hydrogen uses another 10%, resulting in 6.3 MWh of available energy. Liquifiction is about 66% efficient, resulting in4.2 MWh of energy. Boil off uses another 5%, leaving about 4 MWh of energy. Burning hydrogen in a jet engine is about 50% efficient at optimum altitude and speed, but is closer to 40% efficient gate to gate. Thus 10 MWh of green electricity provides 1.6 MWh to move an aircraft.

The pathway for a battery aircraft or ship from wind differs significantly. From wind farm to the grid or a battery, it’s about 90% efficient. That results in 9 MWh of energy being available. There is an addition 10% energy loss using electric motors on the aircraft or ship. These would have about 8 MWh of energy available. This is five times the energy available on the hydrogen pathway.

Despite Volkswagen being the automotive brand that I have bought most frequently, I am not a loyal customer. The VW Buzz we currently drive will most likely be our last vehicle purchase. I appreciate having the opportunity to drive a quiet EV, that avoids combustion, and was delivered as a carbon neutral vehicle. I find the comments made by Volkswagen Group CEO Oliver Blume irritating, but not nearly as irritating as some of those made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The final word on this subject will be given to Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand with responsibility for Technical Development:

"Science is largely in agreement on this issue, as several recent studies have shown. The Federal Ministry for the Environment, for example, assumes that hydrogen and synthetic fuels, so-called e-fuels, will remain more expensive than an electric drive, as more energy is required for their production.The Agora Verkehrswende (traffic transformation) initiative also points out that hydrogen and e-fuels do not offer ecologically sound alternatives without the use of 100 percent renewable energies, and that, given the current and foreseeable electricity mix, the e-car has by far the best energy balance. In the view of the Fraunhofer Institute, synthetic fuels and drive technologies such as hydrogen in combination with the fuel cell will indeed play a role – but not so much in the passenger car sector, but rather in long-distance and heavy-duty traffic, as well as in rail, air and sea transport. These segments will only be converted in later phases of the energy turnaround, i.e. beyond the year 2030, and closely linked to the expansion of renewable energies."

"In fact, hydrogen-based fuel cell technology has one crucial disadvantage: it is very inefficient – both in terms of efficiency and operating costs. This is also confirmed in detail by a Horváth & Partners study, comparing both types of drive for e-cars from the customer’s point of view."


The traffic lights in Akureyri feature red hearts for stop. Pedestrian tourists like this, and comment on them waiting for the lights to change. As with most second-largest cities they have to do something, preferably positive, to shift the focus away from the largest city and onto themselves. Akureyri had a population of 19 219 in 2021, occupying 138 km2.

The Aviation Museum of Iceland is located in Akureyri. A Wikipedia article provides insights into the museum. This weblog post provides some photos!

Lots of planes…
… radio equipment …
… uniforms …
and a waiting hut!

In Akureyri, Fashionista Brock was also pressed into a photo shoot to show off his yellow glasses, in the yellow frame. Credits for the shoot are extensive.

Fashionista Brock appears courtesy of Happy Modelling Agency. Sweater, socks and toque courtesy of Thunderbird Design. Jacket by Haglofs. Chinos from Dressmann. Shoes by and from Allbirds. Yellow Kieth 2 glasses from Face A Face, Paris. Yellow frame coutesy Akureyri municipality. Photo by Charles Justice using an Asus Zenfone 9.


A Whale skeleton from the Húsavík Whale Museum Photo: Húsavík Whale Museum

It took almost a week to find it, but should fate necessitate a move from Inderøy to Iceland, I think I have found a location that would meet my needs, Húsavík. It is a village on the north coast, with a population of 2 307 people, its own airport, the oldest flock of free ranging sheep (from 874) and one of the best museums I have encountered in the world, the Whale Museum.

Of course, such a statement is based on first impressions. That is all one has on a road trip. There is no time to encounter places a second time. This encounter with the town almost didn’t happen. Driving from the outskirts of Akureyri, we visited the waterfall at Goðafoss. We then took the most direct route towards Húsavík, only to find the road blocked by highway crews, who couldn’t be bothered to move their truck from a bridge to allow other traffic to pass. This added an additional 30 km to the trip, which meant that we discussed missing Húsavík altogether.

Wikipedia reminds people that Húsavík served as the setting of the 2020 Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, a comedic story of two Húsavík natives representing Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest, with one of the film’s songs named after the town. The song itself was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 93rd Academy Awards. Both of my children have commented positively about this film.

More on climate. There is no advantage to living at Húsavík during any other season. While we have grown used to winters in Norway, I could appreciate less cold weather and less snow. On a theoretical level, Madeira has appeal. However, unless other family members wanted to move there, it would not be an interesting place. As long as our daughter Shelagh and her husband Derek are living in California, it is more appealing to visit there. Canadian citizens are generally allowed to live up to six months each year in the United States. The most appealing months are November to February.


After eating dinner at a Macadonian run B & S Restaurant, we needed to walk off our meals, walking along the banks of the Blanda River in Blönduós, Iceland. We stopped to admire a modern building with a sod roof, and unusual siding.

We stopped to admire this wall and roof.

At the mouth of the river, we walked away from the river for a block. Then we walked along a street, one block from the river, on the way back. Here we encountered the Icelandic Textile Centre, a research institution, and the Icelandic Textile Museum. It was in the same building that we had appreciated previously.

Kitchen, at the Icelandic Textile Museum

The museum was officially opened at the centennial of Blönduós in 1976, and has been a private foundation since 1993. In 1976 the museum was in a small and narrow building, a former stable of the Women’s School (Kvennaskólinn) in Blönduós. Construction of a new building was started in 2001-10. It was designed by the architect Guðrún Jónsdóttir. It occupies about 250 m2, integrated with the old building. This new building was opened 2003-05-09.

I liked the modernist design of the Textile Museum, and felt that the architecture contrasted with the textiles. The underlying theme of all exhibitions at the museum is the Þráður = thread. The thread is the basis for all textile crafts and connects the past with the present, and the future.

Halldóra Bjarnadóttir (1873-1981), made significant contributions to the museum. She was employed by the National Farmers Union in Iceland and published the „Hlín” magazine for 44 years. Moreover, she founded and operated the Wool- and Textile College at Svalbarði in South-Þingeyjarsýsla. Halldóra dedicated herself to the social and educational affairs of women and was an eager representative of their culture. She collected varieties of weaving and knit patterns as well as many types of small objects related to wool- and textile processing. Many sources point out that she never married, and did not have children.

I had an interesting conversation with a young woman employee at the museum. She explained that Icelandic national costumes are not owned by any individual, but by a family. One person, usually an older woman, is usually responsible for the garment(s). It is considered an honour to have this position. People may ask to wear one or more parts or all of a national costume for various events.

I asked her about male costumes. She could show me photographs, but not the garments. They were not well enough kept to put on display, she said.

Wall hanging

A life in Blönduós would offer people an opportunity to pursue the study of (Icelandic) textiles in depth, and an opportunity to meet others with the same interest.