Friday, June 6, 2014

Fankful Friday

1. Apparently yesterday was NOT Wednesday.  So I guess I can be thankful that Tanya has not arranged for Social Services to send someone do do an appraisal.

2. Work on the house is progressing but every finished job seems to start another. The concrete walk along the north side of the house is finished.  It is not so much a walk as a way to drain water away from the foundation as weeping tile is unknown.  The cement floor is poured in what was the dogs' room and will be finished tomorrow.

The new gates on the dogs yard are more or less finished; they need paint on some of the welded areas and proper closures on the big gates.  Vladik, the welder, put the latch on the small gate to open up instead of down so that the dogs can't open it, though I wouldn't put it past Volk to figure out how to lift the handle.  He is now rebuilding the metal doors on the garage and we will reinsulate them to help keep our house warmer.

The roofing arrived tonight and is stacked carefully.  The sheets are 5 meters long and 1.5 wide.  Plain brown but will look quite nice.

3. We have adequate moisture and now are getting heat.  30+C yesterday and today.  Plants are jumping.  Many more of Tanya's flowers are blooming and her garden is doing well.  Sveta will be busy when we are away canning and freezing.

Fresh dill for the freezer

Neighbours' gardens beside the river/marsh
4. The dogs never cease to surprise me by not acting according to expectations.  They get a walk in the morning then spend the day tied up under the trees in Babushka's yard so they are outside and out of the way.  Today Bobik managed to unsnap his leash from his collar and simply stayed under his tree until I came along and snapped him up again.  Volk pulled his collar strap through the buckle (he needs a new collar) today also and took off for the river for a swim.  Then instead of making me chase him, he came home and ran up to me all happy to have his collar put back on.  Must be the heat affected both of them.

5. We are pretty much packed and ready to go.  We take the express train to Kyiv tomorrow evening and catch a Sunday morning 6:00 am plane, arriving in Calgary at 1:30 pm.  (I only wish the flight was actually 7.5 hours, rather than 15.5).  We are in Canada for 7 weeks.  It has been a long time since we have had a chance to visit with people so this is it.

Google autofill: I am thankful every hour of every day for Tanya.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ukraine - War and Propaganda

The war between the Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) and the Russian terrorists continues and has moved uptown so to speak.

No one (except maybe the Kremlin) are pretending there are no Russians in eastern Ukraine.  There are estimated to be some 4500 experienced Russian fighters in Donetsk and Luhansk.  They are led by Russians.  The self proclaimed whatever of the self proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic is a Russian propaganda specialist from Moscow.  These guys are stepping up the pressure on the local citizens as well

Finally Ukraine is going to lock down the border, 3 months too late.  I read somewhere the reason they hadn't so far was that it was too profitable for too many Ukrainian Deputies smuggling stuff including arms to and from Russia. give you an idea of what we are up against.

The Vostok Battalion has been recreated though most likely unofficially and well armed.  It is about 80% Russian nationalists of which a good percentage are Chechens with a lot of experience in combating terrorism with terrorism.  A few days ago, the Vostok Battalion took over the Admin Building in Donetsk and turfed the ragtag band of local losers who were pretending to govern.  It is no longer a local fight at all, though likely 20% of the fighters are still locals, with 10% fighting for money and 10% revolutionary dreamers.  There is a good interview HERE with the commander of the Volunteer Donbas Battalion which is part of the Ukrainian National Guard.

A couple of bases in Luhansk have fallen to the terrorists who have been attacking several hundred at a time.  They like to take shelter in hospitals, schools and residential areas and not let civilians leave.  Human shields hamper the activities of the ATO, obviously. And  civilian deaths are worth a fortune in propaganda value to Russia.  Russia paints the ATO as Nazi terrorists wantonly slaughtering peaceful unarmed civilian protesters.

Here are three articles that give you an idea of how peaceful these terrorists are:
ONE, TWO, THREE.  Attacking Christians of several denominations, shutting down all freedom of the press and refusing to allow refugees to leave.  A couple more: FOUR and FIVE , the Chechens and kidnapping. And here is a new one.  $1000 USD per adult and $500 per child to be allowed to leave Kramatorsk.  Do you suppose the idiots in eastern Ukraine are having second thoughts about this Russia, Russia, Russia thing?  Not likely as there were not many of them to start with but propaganda and street thugs go a long way.

Russian propaganda is embarrassing to everyone but Russians, I guess. THIS link is in German but the pictures posted are in English.  They have been stealing pictures and video from all over the world and presenting it as though it were in Ukraine.  Why do people believe this stuff?  Well, remember there are people who believe everything they see and hear on FOX News or from Alex Jones, and if that is all you are allowed and are bombarded with it day and night...

If there are any military readers of this blog, take a look at these two links regarding an explosion in Luhansk which killed a number of civilians.  The Russians are wetting themselves because it "proves" ATO are deliberately killing civilians, others are less certain that it was not a false flag operation.  I don't have a clue about either explanation from these videos.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Thankful Thursday come on a Friday this week

1. I am thankful I am old enough to have enjoyed the source of the above reference.

2. The dogs got their annual haircut.  I comb them out for about a week first to remove the masses of fine insulating hair that grows in outdoor dogs.  Then Tanya wields the scissors.  Not fancy but a lot cooler. Volk flops down on the table and doesn't move.  Bobik sits or stands.  If we want him down we have to throw and hold him like a calf.  It all grows back by fall.


2. The garden is growing rapidly.  Tanya has already frozen huge amounts of fresh dill for soups and salads next winter and given away bags full.  That is why the corn and watermelon look weed free.  Next year Tanya says she will put in two more sprinkler hoses so they are 2.5 meters apart which she says is optimum.

Corn in the top left, strawberries front and centre

Watermelon in back, tomatoes front right

Vegetable garden

3. Work is progressing slowly but surely and well done too.  The new gates may be finished tomorrow.  Andrei has figured out the Weed Whip and our "lawns" are looking more like they should.

Bunch grass does not for a filled in lawn make

4. For Euro 2012, Ukraine bought several Hyundai passenger trains, two of which made the paired runs morning and evening between Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk.  Until they were all pulled for repair work under warranty.  We need to go to Kyiv on June 7 in the evening to catch the early morning plane but could not get information nor tickets.  Wednesday they announced that Kyiv-Dnipropetrovsk Hyundai service would be resuming June 1 and we now have our tickets.  So we don't have to take the morning train and kill 12 hours.

5. My good office chair is repaired and useable.  The man welding the gate frames welded the two broken legs for me.  Now if I can find new castor wheels, it is like new again.  The downside of a comfortable chair is that I fall asleep at the computer.

Google Autofill: I am thankful every hour of every day for Tanya.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ukraine - three days into a new chance to succeed.

Proroshenko is not wasting any time as there is none to waste. He told Putin that as far s Yanukovych being the legitimate president of Ukraine that no one had asked Putin or any other Russian to interpret the Ukrainian constitution.  And our Foreign Minister in response to Russian (Putin and Lavrov) continuous calls to "cease the violence in eastern Ukraine" suggested that they could blow that idea out the orifice of their choice and sent a protest note regarding Russian Border Service continually allowing heavily armed Russian terrorists to cross the Ukrainian border.  Their response: We didn't see anybody.

Proroshenko has also doubled down on the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO). Pro-Russian terrorists made the mistake of getting separated from their civilian shields by capturing the Donetsk Prokofiev International Airport (rebuilt for Euro 2012).  The Ukrainian army blasted them out of there in a hurry, killing as many as 45, destroying an open truck load of terrorists on their way to reinforce their bandit brothers (Ukrainian version) or a closed truck with a Red Cross loaded with wounded on their way to the hospital (Russian version).

The Ukrainian military also wiped out a terrorist training camp in Luhansk, just a few hundred meters from the Russian border and potentially covered by Russian anti-aircraft guns and missiles.

Since the ATO has been as careful as possible about civilian deaths, the Kremlin backed terrorists are helping them, randomly shelling homes with mortar fire and randomly shooting civilians to create footage for Russian TV which can then be blamed on the fascist Ukrainian army.

Russian propaganda may have to look for a new theme, at least outside of Russia.  As the picture below illustrates, the Far Right did not do well in the Ukrainian election while in many European countries it took 20% to 25% of the popular vote for the European Union Parliament.  The European Nationalist Parties are very scary people who solidly support Putin's Russia, where Right Wing Nationalists actually are the government.  Timothy Snyder writes that Ukraine might be the solution to Europe's fascist problem.

Britain's UKIP took 27%, I believe.
Meanwhile back in the USSR...I mean Russia, they have banned a film about Stalin's deportation of the entire Chechen nation in 1944 on the grounds that it is "anti-Russian and a falsification of history".  Meaning it tells the truth, I suppose.

The West has put travel bans on a handful of Oligarchs but Putin has banned international travel for as many as 5 million Russians and the number may continue to increase.

Ukraine's problems are not going away any time soon as "The Survey Says"...  A recent Pew Research Center poll in Russia shows that 61 percent of Russian citizens think that parts of neighboring countries rightfully belong to the Russian Federation.  And Paul Goble, quoting historian Yuri Felshtinsky, “Putin’s Ukrainian complex can be compared only with Stalin’s Polish complex and Hitler’s Jewish complex.”

The sad legacy of all this is that Ukrainians seem to becoming infected with "Russian Disease", of “intolerance, aggression, militarism and chauvinism” in response to Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk.  I need to watch myself in this regard.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Ukraine - Election

With 80% of the votes counted, Proroshenko maintains 54% of the vote, enough that a second round need not be held June 15.  This is a relief to everyone.  Turnout was reported at 60% which when adjusted for Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk worked out to 70% of those registered and able to vote. The election was given a clean bill of health by the international observers who said that the only real problems were the ones everyone knew about ie the terrorists in the east.

An attempt at hacking the Election Commission computer system and inserting a virus which would declare Right Sector(1) Candidate Yarosh to have won with 37% of the votes (requiring a run off ) was foiled only 40 minutes before Russian television went on the air and announced it.

Proroshenko is the best of a not a lot of choice.  Hopefully the desperate situation the country is in will force him to continue on the road to reform, though it will not be easy.  Here is what has been accomplished in the past three months.

Cleaning up the terrorists in the east will not be easy.  There are a lot of experienced fighters from Chechnya coming across the border and a great deal of heavy armaments and equipment.  Those of us who are arm-chair generals need to heed the following articles, Here and here, one of which starts Ukraine has the army it has. Which is to say Ukraine can only work with what it has.  Yesterday the SBU seized a few crates of arms headed for Mariupol which will come in handy for the army.

I have not seen a statement yet from Putin whether or not Russia will recognize the new president/government.  Putin was quoted yesterday as saying Ukraine could have votes on anything they wished but Yanukovych was still the legal president of Ukraine.  Of course Putin is also quoted as saying that Russia is practicality giving their gas to Ukraine and that the use of force to seize Crimea was justified as Ukraine's actions threatened them. Them who?  Crimeans or Russians?  Putin does seem to live in alternate universes.

Some links to other interesting stuff:
The video below was milked to death by Russian propagandists to prove how terrible the Nazi's were that took over the government.  The tall guy is the Oblast prosecutor in Zhytomyr and the heavy guy is a thug with Right Sector.  When I was sent this link as "proof" I was a bit skeptical as under Yanukovych the prosecutors were the most venal of all civil servants as they decide who gets investigated for everything including tax evasion and were all appointed from Yanukovych Party of not all from Donetsk.

That the heavyset guy is a thug was not in question as he was involved in criminal activity and since died in a hail of bullets in a legit police raid BUT there is always more to a story.

In an interview with the 2IC of Right Sector the interviewer asks about the story and here is the response:
In fact, Muzychko saved the life of this prosecutor. The latter released the man and put a brake on the case of the murdered woman. Armed people who gathered wanted to burn this prosecutor’s office together with him. Muzychko volunteered to stop the conflict and went to the prosecutor. If he had brought flowers to the prosecutor, people would have torn both of them. Thus, he settled the conflict. People were satisfied and the prosecutor re-opened the case.

Besides the fascist, Nazi stuff the Russians also wore out the record that Kyiv was prohibiting the speaking of Russian.  This link describes the law that was repealed though the repeal was vetoed. Since nobody ever read it everyone was quite prepared to believe that the law gave Russian special status.  Since it was about 18 minority languages and even under Yanukovych it was never implemented, there was a great deal of anxiety about nothing.  (sounds like the ACA).

Anyone interested in a little history of Crimea might find this of value - it is an article describing the construction of the canal from the Dnipro River that brings water to almost all of Crimea. The construction of this canal was one of the reasons Crimea was transferred to Ukraine in 1954.

(1) Note: The Right Sector is a Ukrainian nationalist organization that is repeatedly cited by Russian media as typical of the supposed “fascist” nature of Ukraine’s pro-Western forces.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Or as dey say in Park Valley and MINNeSOta, T'ankful T'ursday.

Our granddaughter Masha will be 12 in August
 1. I am thankful for Masha's love of and ability to dance and that she took first place in the regional competitions again. She has milked Turkish dancing for four Firsts in the past two years and I think it is time to retire the routine.
Irrigation for Tanya's vegetable garden
 2. I am thankful for irrigation for Tanya's flowers and kitchen garden.  With low water pressure we could not automate watering and she had to stand there for hours making sure everything was watered.  Now she can control it all by turning a few valves.

Our masonry chimney showing a crack down the centre.
 3. I am thankful we found we needed to replace our chimney before it fell apart in the middle of winter.  We had winter chimney problems a few years back and it is no fun to be without heat or for Yuri who had to climb on our roof and add a long section of pipe.

Iris and Lily in glorious colour
 4. I am thankful for Tanya's love of flowers and her ability to make our yard so beautiful all summer long from April to October.  I am so proud of our yard and it is all her doing.

Photo bombing the Iris patch
5. I am thankful Tanya still loves me and hasn't murdered me yet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Happy Campers

Tanya has a fancy new tap on the sink in the downstairs bathroom.  The increased water pressure proved too much for the old one.  My shower this morning was not quite enough to peel the skin off but oh, what a feeling.

The most important wonderful thing of all today was laying sprinkler hoses in Tanya's flower gardens and in her kitchen garden.  She now has a regular irrigation system in the important half of her garden.  The corn and watermelon can look after itself between rains but everything else can be watered at the turn of a tap.  She is so happy.  And when Tanya is happy, I am happy.

Of course, the unexpected always should be expected.  Removing the cracked and breaking parging on the masonry chimney revealed that we in fact need a whole new chimney.  Not sure what the local brand of Selkirk chimney is but that is what we are getting.

Since there is a crew working in the dogs' yard getting ready to pour cement, the dogs spend the day tied up in Babushka's yard in the tall grass and trees.  The gates are closed when the guys go home and the dogs go back in their yard for the night.  Except tonight I forgot to close the door at the other end and when I let them off their leashes they promptly ran out the back to freedom.  It was short lived as they cycled through the house yard once too often when I went after them and Andrei and Tanya each grabbed one.

We got a quote on high quality plastic gutters (eavestroughing) today and it was about $500.  I have no idea if it is good or bad but at least the rain will not drip off the roof all along the edge of the house anymore.