Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some of photos of von Schulmann's in 1911Otto

Bernhard Freidrich Georg von Schulmann was my grandfather's brother, he died in Switzerland in 1917 only aged 27.  Why was he in Switzerland?  I have no idea.
Bernhard Friedrich Goerg von Schulmann in 1911
 Woldemar Nicolai von Schulmann was my grandfather's second cousin.
Nicolai von Schulmann
 Onkel Otto was another brother of my grandfather.   He adopted my father so that my father could inherit from him.  Otto's two sons Max and Wolf were killed in the war and his wife Isabella was murdered in Vienna in 1945.
Otto Wilhelm Oskar von Schulmann in 1911

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Calling Phone Booths For Fun

When I was aged about 11 to 14 years old my brother Nik and cousin Andreas did this strange almost social media like thing - we called phones booths.

We initially tried dialing random numbers to see who we would get but that was mostly a waste of time and we often got a guy we called "filmy" - Andreas named him that.  "Filmy" was the recording you got when you called a number that was not in service.  It was a deep and articulate voice like a film star, hence the name.  The random dialing was borrowing so we wanted some more interesting way to play with the telephone.  One day I realized that all the phone booths had numbers we could call, we just needed the numbers.

When we were out and about in the city I would write down the phone numbers in phone booths and later when we were at home we would call them.   The most common one we called was at Kootenay Loop.  We called it the most because there was a bank of phones so at least one would be free and there were always a lot of people hanging around waiting for a bus.

We did most of our calling from my aunt Nata's place in the evening while watching bad late 70s TV because she did not see to care that we were doing this and my parents would likely told us to quit using the phone for a "prank".

We would dial the numbers we had until we got one that was not busy.   We would then let it ring till someone picked it up.  Sometimes they would just pick it up and hang it up right away.  Often people would say "Do you know you are calling a phone booth?"  to which we answered yes.  Finally, a few people just answered the phone and said hello.

We had some interesting conversations with people on the phone.  We would ask people what bus they were waiting for, where they were headed, what was going on with their lives, and whatever else came up.  We also told people about what was on TV and about us and where we lived.   They were random connections with people across the city from us.

Sometimes people would stay on the phone for more than half an hour.   We had all the numbers at Kootenay Loop because we asked one woman on the phone to get us all the rest of the numbers, she had nothing better to and seemed to want to help us.  Some of the people seemed to be very happy to have someone to talk to kill some time while waiting in the rain and cold for the #14 bus.

The weird little thing we did seems to be completely from another age - there were no mobile phones, no answering machines, no caller ID, and no social media.   What we did in 1979 had more in common with 1919 than 2012.


ps  Nik or Andreas, feel free to comment with your memories

Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Pro Sports Teams in Canada?

The Conference Board of Canada has looked out to 2035 to see what demand there could be for more professional sports teams in Canada.

The report found seven possible new locations for CFL teams, but I think there are more than that possible.

In BC I think there is a case to be made for two to three more teams

1) Surrey - a second lower mainland franchise but south of the river
2) Abbotsford - with Chilliwack this represents a population of 262,500
3) Kelowna - from Penticton to Vernon there are 280,750 people in the Okanagan Valley

I am not convinced that Victoria would support a team.

The report says there are enough people for a team in Saskatoon, but is this really the case? The Roughriders are a Saskatchewan team.

In Ontario the report suggests there is enough demand in London and Kitchner/Waterloo, but I think there is enough demand to add two more teams in the GTA and one in the St Catherines area for eight teams in Ontario.

In Quebec the obvious location is Quebec City but there should be enough demand to add two teams around Montreal.

In the Maritimes they suggest Moncton and Halifax but I can only see a team in Halifax.

So if one adds these teams you end up with a league of 18-22 teams which could be four  divisions

Quebec East
Quebec City
Montreal Argos

Toronto Argos


Okanagan Valley

You would play teams in your division twice, the other conference teams once and teams in one of the other conference divisions which would alternate from year to year.   This would be an 18 game season, the same as now.   The total number of games would go from 72 nationwide to 180 games.   This would take total attendance from just under 2,000,000 to just under 5,000,000

Let us say to you went to a schedule of 36 games - in your division four times, your conference twice and the over conference once.   This can be achieved by playing two games per week, one on the weekend and one mid week.   This would boost the total annual attendance to just under 10,000,000 a year.  Each team would sell twice as many tickets but without large cost increases and some reduced costs.

At the moment a typical CFL team take in about $14,000,000 in ticket sales, with more games this would rise to $28,000,000.   By comparison, a Canadian NHL team will in $60,000,000 to $80,000,000 in ticket sales.

One of the benefits would be a better travel schedule.   This would save the teams money.  Some teams would still have to travel more than others such as Halifax, but if the league averaged out the travel expenses over the whole league the costs per year should be lower.

Another benefit would be more rivalries of nearby towns.  In Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal it would mean a game in town every week.  This would increase attendance and media coverage.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Another NHL Labour Lockout?

It took me several years to really back into hockey after the last lockout.  It has only been seven years since the last lock out and it looks like we are headed towards another one.

If they really do lock out the players for a third time in 18 years I suspect that is the end of my interest in professional hockey.  

I grew up in a house where dinners on Saturday were timed to be eaten between the periods in the game - we ate fast when I was growing up.   I lost touch with the NHL over my time at university and living in the UK so it is only in 1992 that I really started to follow the league.   I have to admit it was Dan Gawthrop who got me interested in the Canucks again with the arrival of Pavel Bure.

A lost year means all the momentum the Canucks have built up will dissipate and I suspect some years in the wilderness are coming.  I lived through the Canucks of the 1970s and 80s when they were the worst team in the NHL, I can not get excited at the idea of a losing team.

Maybe I will start to follow the KHL.  In 1994 I had the IHL to follow.   I would also have time to properly follow the WHL which is more interesting now that there is a team in Victoria even if I hate their name.

I think it is bullshit that the NHL owners are playing chicken with the players.  What the NHL needs is to regroup as a league and focus on where the money is - Canada.   The league needs a team in Quebec City, Hamilton and a second team in Toronto and Montreal.   You can get these four teams from Phoenix, Carolina, Florida and Tampa Bay.

Friday, August 17, 2012

POW Camp 2226 - where my father was from February 1945 to September 3rd 1945

My father, Axel von Schulmann, was a prisoner in British POW Camp 2226 which was located in Zedelgem near Brugge and Ostend in Belgium.  Given my father's Baltic background, it is of interest to note that the neighbouring camp 2227 in Zedelgem was for Latvians.

 My father arrived there sometime early in 1945 after having captured late in the Ardennes Offensive.   He was in the camp until September 3rd 1945.  He was had the number A 476444 but I have no idea if this was his number from the German military or one assigned to him in the camp.  He arrived in the camp around his 23rd birthday with no knowledge what had happened to his family.   At about the same time his father August von Schulmann was shot and dumped in a mass grave just east of the pre-war German/Polish border.

Camp 2226 seems to have held close to 20,000 German POWs of which 1/4 were officers and a number very senior naval officers.

A letter of reference for my father
Camp 2226 was guarded by the 19th Fuselier Battalion, which was created in February 1945 from Dutch speaking Belgians.  My father spoke about two of guards in the unit that happened to Jewish - Weiss and Gruen if I remember correctly.  One was pleasant and the other was not.

Discharge papers for Axel von Schulmann - due to water damage the details are
very hard to make out
Conditions of the camp became worse after the end of the war, the amount and quality of rations dropped.  My father did well with food because he played cards well.   Since food was really all they had to bet with my father ended up with more than his fair share of rations.   My father also benefited from working on the administration staff of the camp starting on May 1st 1945.  He worked for a Captain but I can not make out the name on the paper, best I can get is S.R. Berge(?).

My father's knowledge of English allowed him to get the work in the documents office of POW Camp 2226..  In general his knowledge of English benefited him several times between 1945 and 1952, when he arrived in Quebec City he had his first job in Canada before he even left the ship.

Why did my father know English?   It comes from his high school in Estonia.   At age 16 he was fluent in German and English and spoke decent Estonian.   Even though his education was in a German school, it was not the same as what was learned in Germany.   He graduated in 1938 from the Pernauer Deutsche Realgymnasium.   Remember, this was a school without any ideological leanings and no mass purging of teachers.

My father was released relatively early because he was a of a low rank and had a place to go to.   The family had an central address to contact each other at.   I suspect the fact he worked well with the Camp staff helped gain him an early release.  Others remained in British camps for several years.

update on October 5th - pictures of Camp 2227 can be found at this link, thank you to Meredith Schofield

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Canada and the Olympics - end results at London

The Canadian Olympic Committee wanted Canada to finish 12th in the medal standings but came 36th .  In the last six games before London Canada has been reasonably consistent in where it finished in the medal rankings but this time the country fell back

Games        Ranking G  S  B total athletes
2012 London    36th  1  5 12  18    277
2008 Beijing   19th  3  9  6  18    332
2004 Athens    21st  3  6  3  12    263
2000 Sydney    24th  3  3  8  14    294
1996 Atlanta   21st  3 11  8  22    303
1992 Barcelona 11th  7  4  7  18    295
1988 Seoul     19th  3  2  5  10    328
Canada has a smaller team in London than average.

Based on past Olympics Canada should  have won 3-4 gold, 5-6 silver and 6-7 bronze for a total of 15-16 medals.  With the medal total from Beijing, Canada would have finished 22nd overall, Athens and Sydney totals would have meant a 23rd overall finish

If we look at total medals it has been better for Canada since 1996 than ranking by gold medals.
2012 13th (+26)
2008 15th (+4)
2004 19th (+2)
2000 18th (+6)
1996 11th (+10)
1992 15th (-4)
1988 19th (+-0)

A dubious honour for the country that the nation does better coming second and third than first.

Canada has won a total of 59 gold, 99 silver and 120 bronze in 25 summer games.

Meanwhile when it comes to the Paralympics Canada has done well, in 11 summer Paralympic games Canada has won 339 gold, 272 silver, and 299 bronze which is fourth overall on the all time standings list.  Even though Canada does many times better at the Paralympic games, there is almost no coverage of them.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Mars Exploration - another success by NASA

With the arrival of Curiosity there are now five active missions on or around Mars.  Four of the current operating missions are from NASA, Mars Express is from ESA

  • Mars Odyssey has been in orbit around the plant since February 19th 2002
  • Mars Express has been in orbit since December 25th 2003
  • Opportunity has been roving Mars since Janaury 25th 2004
  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been orbiting since March 10th 2006
  • Curiosity landed yesterday

A total of 17 missions have either orbited or landed on Mars since the first successful orbit by Mariner 9 in 1971.  13 are NASA, 3 are Soviet and 1 ESA.   Only NASA has managed to land anything on the planet.

Longest operating missions - bold are landers, red are Soviet, green is ESA, underlined are current missions

  1. Odyssey 3940 2001-current
  2. Global Surveyor 3344 1997-2006
  3. Express 3148 2003-current
  4. Opportunity 3117 2004-current
  5. Spirit 2635 2004-2011
  6. Reconnaissance Orbiter 2342 2006-current
  7. Viking 1 2308 1976-1982
  8. Viking 1 Orbiter 1490 1976-1980
  9. Viking 2 1317 1976-1980
  10. Viking 2 Orbiter 691 1976-1978
  11. Mariner 9 350 1971-1972
  12. Mars 2 270 1971-1972
  13. Mars 3 265 1971-1972
  14. Phoenix 170 2008
  15. Pathfinder 86 1997
  16. Mars 5 9 1974
  17. Curiosity 2 2012-current

From 1988 to 1999 there were 10 missions to Mars launched and only two successes.   Since 2001 there have been 10 missions to Mars with only three failures, all three of those were not NASA missions.   There has been a lot more success in the last decade than at anytime before when it comes to Mars exploration.

2013 should see the launch of two orbiters, one by India and one by NASA.  2016 could see as many as four more missions launched.

Number of missions active in years in which there have been active Mars missions

  • 1971 3
  • 1972 3 
  • 1974 1
  • 1976 4
  • 1977 4
  • 1978 4
  • 1979 3
  • 1980 3
  • 1981 1
  • 1982 1
  • 1983-1996 0
  • 1997 2
  • 1998 1
  • 1999 1
  • 2000 1
  • 2001 2
  • 2002 2
  • 2003 3
  • 2004 5
  • 2005 5
  • 2006 6
  • 2007 5
  • 2008 6
  • 2009 5
  • 2010 5
  • 2011 4
  • 2012 5

Friday, August 03, 2012

How long till a US right wing talk show nutbar notices the new toonie?

I am not sure anyone else has ever put on a coin something depicting the defeat of the US.   This year Canada as released a $2 coin with the HMS Shannon on it.   I suspect when some US nutbar right wing talk show notices he is going to scream for blood, demand a boycott of Canada etc....

The Shannon is most renown for the capture of the USS Chesapeake on June 1st 1813

From the Royal Mint site:
"The War of 1812 was a fundamental turning point in Canada's history. Its history—including that of the Leda-class frigate, HMS Shannon—has become important chapters in the narrative of Canada's evolution from colony to sovereign nation. The two-dollar coin featuring HMS Shannon commemorates the historic 11-minute battle with USS Chesapeake off the coast of Boston. The capture of the Chesapeake marked a decisive naval victory for the British at a time when morale was waning."

This is only the first of five War of 1812 $2 coins that will be released in over the next year.   Coming are Issac Brock, Tecumseh, Charles-Michel de Salaberry and Laura Secord $2 coins.   I really have to wonder how the Americans are going to take Canada issuing all these coins celebrating the defeat of the US in the War of 1812?

Rowing at the Olympics

Rowing has been a major source of medals for Canada at the summer games since 1984 and should have been one of the sports which gave Canada more than two silver medals in 2012.

Year  G  S  B  Total
1984  1  2  3   6
1988  0  0  0   0
1992  4  0  1   5
1996  1  2  1   4
2000  0  0  1   1
2004  0  1  0   1
2008  1  1  2   4
2012  0  2  0   2
Total 7  8  8  23

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Canadian transit rail systems

Just looking at how successful the various systems are in Canada as of best data I can get at the moment

City     km  stations daily passengers
Montreal  69.2  68      1,111,700
Toronto   70    69      1,054,200
Vancouver 68.7  47        406,300
Calgary   48.8  36        263,603
Edmonton  21    15         95,315
Ottawa     5     8         14,200
TOTAL    282.7 243      2,932,538

Toronto is in the process of extending the Younge-University-Spadina line to Vaughn adding 8.6 km of line and six new stations.  There is also the new Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown Line will include the Scarborough RT and some 20 km more line westwards

Vancouver has started construction of the Evergreen Line which will add 11 km and six new stations to the Skytrain system.

Calgary is building the West LRT which will add 8 km and 7 new stations.   Calgary is also extending the existing north west line by one station and the north east line by two stations.

Edmonton is currently adding three stations ona  North LRT expansion

Canada at the Summer Olympics

(updated on Saturday August 5th)
The Canadian Olympic Committee wants Canada to finish 12th in the medal standings, this is I think unrealistic given our past performance.  In the last six games before London Canada has been reasonably consistent in where it finished in the medal rankings.

Games        Ranking G  S  B total athletes
2012 London    21st  1  3  6  10    277
2008 Beijing   19th  3  9  6  18    332
2004 Athens    21st  3  6  3  12    263
2000 Sydney    24th  3  3  8  14    294
1996 Atlanta   21st  3 11  8  22    303
1992 Barcelona 11th  7  4  7  18    295
1988 Seoul     19th  3  2  5  10    328
Canada has a smaller team in London than average. 

Based on past Olympics Canada should win 3-4 gold, 5-6 silver and 6-7 bronze for a total of 15-16 medals.  Canada should finish the games in about 20th overall.

For Canada to finish 12th overall it would have to win 6 to 8 gold medals, something that is simply not realistic.   Since 1988 the Canadian results at the summer games have been reasonably consistent.

If we look at total medals it has been better for Canada since 1996 than ranking by gold medals.
2012 11th (+10)
2008 15th (+4)
2004 19th (+2)
2000 18th (+6)
1996 11th (+10)
1992 15th (-4)
1988 19th (+-0)

A dubious honour for the country that the nation does better coming second and third than first.

Historically Canada did much better at the summer games than the winter games.   From 1924 to 1976 Canada won 11 golds, 7 silver and 14 bronze at the winter games, 6 of those gold were in hockey.  In the summer games over the same time 12  golds, 32 silver, and 37 bronze.

Since 1988 this has changed.
        G  S  B  Total 
Summer  22 35 42  99
Winter  39 36 32 107

Even more impressive is when you keep in mind that Canada has had smaller teams at the winter games

Games            Ranking  G   S  B Total Athletes
2010 Vancouver      1st   14  7  5  26   206
2006 Turin          5th    7 10  7  24   196
2002 Salt Lake City 4th    7  3  7  17   150 
1998 Nagano         4th    6  5  4  15   144
1994 Lillehammer    7th    3  6  4  13    95
1992 Albertville    9th    2  3  2   7   108
1988 Calgary       13th    0  2  3   5   112

At the winter games you can see a very clear improvement trajectory over the last 24 years