Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bobik 13/01/2008 - 04/09/2014

Bobik died accidentally a few days before I got home. He tried to jump and climb over the side fence in the dog's yard, fell back, caught his collar and broke his neck.  Andrei buried him under a tree in the abandoned yard next door.

Even Bobik couldn't climb over that
Bobik was too smart for his own good.  Once he learned how to climb over the front gate there was no keeping him inside until I rigged a meter-high mesh on top of it two years ago.  That held him but didn't look too fancy.  We replaced the front gate this summer.

We always figured he could climb the side fence if he took a notion but he never did as all activity was in the front.  Until this fall when a stray female came along outside the side fence.  Over Bobik went.  It was one or two nights later when he tried it again that he didn't quite make it.
New front gate and side fence

He'd had the best summer of his life.  Tanya's niece, Sveta, who looked after our place while we were away, loved to walk and took the dogs on two and three hour walks every day.  In hot weather she took them to the river to swim.

Volk, of course, is heart broken.  He stopped eating and just lay there.  Tanya bought him liver sausage and cooked porridge for him and he ate a little of that.  Yesterday I went to see him and he wagged his tail a little but didn't move otherwise.  I picked him up and sat and held him.  He just lay there limply in my arms.  I set him down and he lay against my leg and went to sleep.

Last night I could hear him crying for about five minutes.  Short howls full of sadness and loneliness. I cried for Volk.  The two of them were never apart unless one escaped and the other didn't.  I had to smile when I was holding Volk as I noticed a huge partially healed gash on his front leg from the last time they tried to kill each other.  Brothers!

Today when I picked up his leash to take him for a walk he actually bounced a little and wagged his tail happily.  We went for a good 45 minute walk (all I could handle) and he walked beside me quite well behaved.  He will make it.

Tanya is talking about getting a 6 mo old spayed female to keep him company but we'll see how he does.

Tanya didn't tell me until I got home as she didn't want to spoil the last few days of my time in Canada.  She did right, I suppose.  But it reminded me of the Ronnie Corbett monologue describing how on holidays he got a letter from his friend to tell him his cat died.  He was devastated and wrote his friend chewing him out for not breaking the news to him gently.   "You could have written that my cat was up on the roof.  Then the next day write and tell me it had fallen off the roof. The third day write and tell me it was injured and the fourth day tell me it had died.  That way I would have time to get used to the idea".  The next year he was on holidays and got a letter from his friend that started "Your mother was up on the roof".

Bobik my good dog, Volk and I will miss you. As Mark Twain said, if you didn't go to heaven, I want to go where you went.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Headed Home Monday

Monday at 3:30 pm I get on a plane to go home to my wife and to share whatever fate awaits my country.  My 90 days of exile have been completed and I should be able to reenter the country as a Canadian tourist without a visa.  However one should never underestimate the intelligence of immigration officials of any country.  If all goes well I will be at the house by Tuesday at 11:00 pm Ukraine time or 2:00 pm Saskatchewan time.

I have one hour between planes in Amsterdam so everything better go according to schedule, including my bag transfer.  Worked for Tanya but my luck hasn't been that good this trip. Murphy may not have organized it but certainly has a hand in implementation.

Tanya and I enjoyed visits with so many people while she was here with me and I was fortunate enough to visit many more after.  Our sincere thanks to all who fed and watered us or provided a bed.  Our home is your home should you come to visit us.  At least it is our home until Putin takes it...

I started to read the news of Ukraine today and it was just too sad, so I quit. There is one link that is worth reading -

Ukraine: The left turn right through the looking glass

It explains how members of the left are so anti-American that they can excuse the same or worse imperialistic conduct on the part of Russia and China simply because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".  The extreme right (including some Americans) supporting Russia I can understand but the left?  Leaves me very disillusioned. And everyone who repeats the Kremlin lies strengthens totalitarianism and weakens liberal democracy.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Things have gone to Hell in Ukraine

Reading the news from Ukraine before going to bed is not a recipe for a good night's sleep if you care about the future of the country. From August 25th Russia has invaded in force to prevent the defeat of the terrorist crowd in Donetsk/Luhansk and the Ukrainian army has been driven back. Proroshenko is now forced to negotiate with whomever Putin says.
Ukraine has implemented conscription and many young men from Zhovti Vody have been called up, according to Tanya this morning.

The war in Ukraine - from The Economist
Putin's Trap Why Ukraine Should Withdraw from Russian-Held Donbas - from Foreign Affairs

Read the last one if nothing else.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Independent Journalists Probe Russian Soldiers’ Deaths in Ukraine

Russia This Week: Independent Journalists Probe Russian Soldiers’ Deaths in Ukraine

This website currently (August 29) has a series of reports of the problems families seeking news of their loved ones and of journalists seeking answers. At the beginning of a new week it is moved to an archive but there are links.

It is worth reading to see how the Russian military treats their soldiers and their families.   I wrote about  Kichatkin in the previous post whose "wife" claimed he was still alive and standing beside her, after which a man claiming to be Kirchatkin spoke.  The number was disconnected shortly thereafter.

25 August. Funeral of Leonid Kichatkin. Photo by Nina Petlyanova/Novaya Gazeta.

Novorossiya again

Putin is losing his plausible deniability cover.  He can still lie through his teeth as he did in Minsk earlier this week but even the Russian people are starting to learn the truth. It is coming home to them in coffins (code: Cargo 200).  The white trucks of the "AID" convoy took home not only arms manufacturing machinery but also the bodies of Russian soldiers killed fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The secret military funerals in Moscow or Pskov cannot be kept hidden for ever though the families are threatened to keep them silent and the Russian Soldiers' Mothers Committee has just been declared a foreign agency.  The wife of a dead soldier was phoned by journalists.  the woman who answered said her husband was standing beside her and he spoke to them on the phone, yet his funeral was held the day before and his name and date of death were on a wooden cross.  Journalists managed to get a picture before they were driven off by thugs.  Later the name was removed from the cross.

But perhaps he no longer cares to hide the casualties.  If he is getting ready for a major war he needs to get people used to the idea that their husbands and sons are now cannon fodder. During the first and second Chechen war there were officially 10,000 Russian military casualties.  Since the Kremlin consistantly lies about casualties, possibly double that?

The large convoy of Russian equipment and troops that crossed the border and are headed for Mariupol constitute an open invasion and war, though no one officially calls it that as it would require action. The question is where are they going to stop.  Luhansk and Donetsk together call themselves Novorossiya, however when Putin used the term first he was referring to a much larger area, based on historical conquests by Catherine the Great in the mid-late 18th century.
So when he used the term again, praising the Russian-led terrorists (and Russian military) of Luhansk and Donetsk for their "major successes", which vision of Novorossiya was he thinking of? His current infested oblasts? A land bridge to Crimea?  The whole kit and kaboodle?

According to Paul Goble's blog, the Moscow Military Review Voyennoye Obozreniye, an online Moscow journal directed at the Russian military and military analysts, has published a list of seven targets Russian forces are likely to attack in the course of what it describes as “the probable future of the war for Novorossiya.”

Whether the Russian military could invade and HOLD even a portion of the area with the troops available is a debate that is ongoing though most think it is far too few.  Partisan warfare is something Ukrainians know all about and more fanatical groups like Right Sector would come into their own, following in teh footsteps of the OUN-UPA.

Major sources of articles continue to be
Kyiv Post site links to some international stories and also sends a daily email with more complete links to stories in the international press

Monday, August 25, 2014

Keurig Coffee Makers

Just to change the pace from constant bad news, some thoughts on the seemingly ubiquitous Keurig single cup coffee maker. They come in all sizes and shapes, including some you can hard wire into the water system so you never need to refill the reservoir

Almost every home and some offices I visited in Canada had one of these coffee makers.  How handy can life be - drop in a little sealed cup prefilled with any number of different coffees, push a button and voila a cup of very good coffee. They call them K-cups, however that conjures up an interesting visual image I would rather not dwell on so I will just call them cups. Throw away the used cup and you are ready to start over. No fuss, no muss, no feathers.

Ay, there's the rub.  According to a recent article in the Grope and Maul, some 10 billion of these little non-degradable cups are filling nations' refuse heaps annually.  Fortunately the article goes on to announce a company has begun making biodegradable cups.

The second rub is the cost of these little cups.  Best deal seems to be fifty cents per.  Which is fine for one person drinking one cup per day.  However if you are a multi-person household, drinking multi-cups per day, it adds up. Keeping costs down while maintaining convenience becomes an earnest objective.

There is lots of "coffee" left in the cup after only one use.  The recommendation is to shake it before using it again to loosen the grounds.  Let me know if that works.

There are also all kinds of ways of reusing the cups with replacement lids or filling your own disposable cups.  Amazon carries a number of these here. A second rubber seal is recommended so there is no leakage around the flimsy replacement tops.  

There are refillable K-Cups complete with filter but there goes convenience.  You could buy a couple dozen, fill them and keep them in the freezer but at $16 to $20 per, the initial investment might be a bit steep.

Then there is something called the EZ-Cup which used a disposable filter.  Only $35 on Amazon with filters available from Wal-Mart at $5 for 50.

These coffee makers may be available in Ukraine in Kyiv where people might have the money to afford the little cups but it will be a very long time before they hit the small towns and villages.  I will stick to my 12 cup coffee maker with paper-towel filters that makes four mugs of good coffee.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

White trucks come and go

Well, the Great White Aid Convoy entered Ukraine on Friday after a mere 34 trucks had been inspected at the Ukrainian border.  Russian soldiers pushed the Ukrainians aside and all the trucks crossed the borders.  Sans ICRC people, as they could not get guarantees of safe passage from the Terrorists.  Russia claims they could not wait any longer to deliver bottled water and 30 tonnes of salt as well as 800 kg of tea to the suffering civilians in Luhansk and Donetsk.  

No one has yet seen a complete manifest of the contents of the trucks, though Russia of course says they "met all requirements".  The truth was they never met any and never intended to.  The Russians kept announcing agreements though neither the Red Cross nor the Ukrainian government really agreed to anything other than Thursday to begin inspections of the trucks.  Which agreement the Russians promptly broke.

What ever was in the other trucks has been safely delivered to "those for whom it was intended" in Luhansk and Donetsk.  And the trucks left on Saturday.  Carrying the contents of two munitions factories, one in Luhansk and one in Donetsk  The equipment had already been packed and was waiting to be loaded.  There is some historical precedent for this as the Soviet Union packed and moved dozens of factories in front of the advancing German Army, reassembling them on the other side or the Urals. The factories apparently made radar equipment and small arms magazines or something like that.

Reuters, WaPo (best story), EuroMaidanPress,

Not sure what it will take to "prove" to the world that the terrorists are strengthened by Russian military personnel as well as Russian supplied heavy arms and equipment.  Russia is also shelling and firing rockets from the Russian side of the border. Russia keeps claiming that any Russian military people found among the terrorist fighters (eg the Chechens and Cossacks) are purely volunteers.  Right.

So why did Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attend a ceremony on the 22nd to give the Suvorov award for valour in battle to the 76th Guards Air Assault Division of Russian Airborne Troops from Pskov?  Any number of clues seem to point their active engagement in Ukraine, including the alleged recent capture by the ATO of  Russian paratroops complete with documents.  The story is here on the Russia Today blog of The Interpreter Magazine.  REad it and decide for yourself if the documents are real or "part of the ongoing information war". reports that in Moscow there was a secret funeral service for 14 members of the 45th Regiment of Special Purpose Airborne Troops, all of whom "died by accident while on vacation".  No one was talking to reporters at the funeral, especially other members of the 45th. The article goes on to say (Google translated from the original):

It is worth noting that at the time of the mysterious death of 14 soldiers from Special Forces Russian airborne troops are no military operations involving airborne forces in this country have been conducted. There was no major military exercises, during which theoretically could occur group accident. Of course, the fact that the Russian military under the guise of alleged local "militias" are engaged in armed terrorism in the territory of Ukrainian Donbass, official Moscow media did not say. But at the same time, say numerous witnesses in Russia in recent days in a strange funeral frequent various so-called "Cossacks", military special forces and other fortune seekers.
Recall that in the course of anti-terrorist operations in the Donbass Ukrainian Army and National Guard are increasingly unable to destroy large groups of militants who have seized several towns of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. In particular, only the first day after the end of the allotted President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko term unilateral ceasefire, which the terrorists and did not get to add weapons, force headquarters ATO has reported on the elimination of more than 1,000 armed bandits . The same information is confirmed and have been so-called "militia". A few weeks earlier from Ukraine was organized delivery in Russia on the refrigerator corpses of Russian citizens , who fought on the side of terrorists and were killed during the battle for the airport in Donetsk. How and where was the funeral of those killed, none of the Russian media did not tell you suggesting a complete secrecy of mourning ceremonies. Recall, the Russian authorities have repeatedly officially stated that "there are no Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine."
Ferguson Police must be taking a leaf from the Russian propaganda machine.  They allegedly doctored the tape of the convenience store robbery to remove the bits where Michael Brown paid for the cigars.  Russian news is famous not only for using actors in various "on the spot interviews" but also for videos of incidents which occurred in other countries and pretending they were "live" from Ukraine.  The Polish border, Syria and Chechnya and all served as proxies for footage from Ukraine.  Add Kazakhstan to that.  

The explosion on the right took place in Kazakhstan in 2013 during a failed rocket launce at Baikonur but was doctored into a news item allegedly showing Ukrainians attacking a village with rockets.
It is already Sunday 24th August in Ukraine. The 23rd anniversary of Ukrainian independence.  On Tuesday, Proroshenko will meet with Putin in Minsk.  He had hoped to retake both Luhansk and Donetsk cities from the terrorists by Sunday but the white trucks put paid to that.  I do not hold out any hope for Minsk, I am afraid.