Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Science and Belief

People develop belief systems trying to make sense out of their lives and the world around them.  Belief systems can and do answer all questions, leaving nothing to uncertainty.

Unfortunately, their answers are not always satisfactory nor factual.  However, belief system power structures usually come down hard on anyone who dares question their answers.  How hard depends on the degree of political power they wield at the time.

Consequently, those who would pursue factual verifiable truth must be to some extent non-believers since the belief systems have all the answers.  I tease some of my relatives that if it were not for atheists we would still be living in caves, lighting fire with sticks and believing the sun went around the earth.  Yet Atheism itself is a belief system in that one cannot prove or disprove there is a Higher Power. But it does free the mind to look for answers elsewhere than in sacred writings.

Belief systems have had a go at eliminating science and failed.  Science is having a go at eliminating belief systems and will also fail.  They deal with two separate issues – the knowable and the unknowable.

Science can only answer the WHAT, WHEN and WHERE of our lives and the earth around us.  Belief systems can only truly answer the WHO and WHY.  Using one to do the other’s work only leads to confusion, bitterness and ignorance.

Belief systems can be absolutely certain.  Science cannot.  Science can only be as certain as the facts before it today.  Tomorrow new research, new findings, new facts can add to what we know or completely turn it around.  The debate is NEVER over.  If science stops debating and only accepts one version, even when confronted with solid evidence, it becomes a belief system and is then totally useless to us.

One of these days, I will blog about my understanding of WHO and WHY.  The last sentence in my last blog about our homeless dog generated a few comments from my readers, as it was intended to do.  They deserve an answer.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Our Homeless Dog

When we were renovating, we hired two women, Natasha and Yulia, to do much of the inside finishing work, wallpapering and such.  Yulia lived across the back garden and down the next street a bit from us.  She had three girls, oldest about 10 or 12 and a boy about a year old.  Yulia and her husband Sergei both had alcohol problems and Yulia often came to work showing the marks of their relationship on her face.  She was a good worker but undependable.

When they wore out the shack they lived in, her husband's mother moved into the city into an apartment and Yulia, Sergei and kids moved into the mother's home, about "two blocks" from the other house and still quite close to our house.  The mother's dog, a mostly German shepherd female, stayed with the house and became  Yulia's (well, Sergei's) dog.

Sergei got into hard drugs and eventually sold everything in the house to buy narcotics.  I mean everything.  Stove, beds, blankets.  there wasn't a stick left.  Yulia took the four kids and disappeared.  Sergei disappeared too.  And our dogs brought the dog home.  Actually she had been here several times, raiding garbage bags and we had fed her a few times out of kindness.  She decided she belonged to us.  We didn't need or want her though she was a lovely dog, very smart, well trained and a good watch dog.

Too good.  I put her in with my dogs until we could locate a home for her or a veterinarian to put her down.  When we were away, Roman came to look after the dogs and she wouldn't let him in the yard to feed them so they went hungry for three days.  When I got home, I put food out in three dishes so of course they all wanted to eat out of the same dish.  The female growled and my two dogs were all over her.  I called them off and put her outside the yard.  She was glad to go.  She slept in a shed next door and hung around the front in the day.

She was such a good dog.  We asked all around if anyone needed a dog and everyone has a dog and usually two.  Our veterinarian does not euthanize animals and we couldn't find the person who had looked after our neighbour Luda's dog.  Valerie had a rifle I could borrow.  The dog's days were numbered.  I have not put an animal down for many many years.  I hate it but I will not allow an animal to suffer.  I suggested Volk go and we keep her.  THAT went over well.

Yesterday Masha was here and playing with the dog who obviously missed Yulia's kids and was so glad to be with Masha and so patient.  We were dreading what had to happen.  Then the lady who delivers our mail came along with the weekly newspaper.  Tanya was working outside and they chatted awhile.  Valya said she really liked the dog and would come back next day and take it home as they needed a dog.

This afternoon, Valya, her daughter Katya and granddaughter Victoria (19 months and cute as a button) came by, put a collar on the dog and walked her home.  She called to say the dog was very well behaved, loved the little dog house they had for her with straw to sleep on and seemed all settled in.

Snowbrush, I don't pretend to understand it but sometimes He not only sees the little sparrow fall, He reaches out and catches it in His hand.  I am just thankful when He does.

Spring and Such

Here is the picture of our crocus patch.  Our meaning Tanya's. 
Saturday we hired Natasha and husband Valerie to rake the vegetable garden area so it won't dry out and turn to concrete.  Tanya is itching to start planting things.

The mutts are doing quite well, behaving sort of civilly after their last bouts of brotherly love.  Bobik has a few scars too but they are scattered rather than concentrated.  They are an even match.  And both are long on attitude. 

Face of a Fighter

He started it, I didn't (much).

The Bridge - from my brother Stan. Best version yet.

A man on his Harley was riding along a California beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and, in a booming voice, God said, 'Because you have tried to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish.'

The biker pulled over and said, 'Build a bridge to  Hawaii  so I can ride over anytime I want.'

God replied, 'Your request is materialistic; think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking; the supports required reaching the bottom of the Pacific and the concrete and steel it would take!  I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things.  Take a little more time and think of something that could possibly help man kind.'

The biker thought about it for a long time. Finally, he said, 'God, I wish that I , and all men,  could understand women; I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's wrong, why she snaps and complains when I try to help, and how I can make a woman truly happy.

God replied: 'You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"

Friday, March 26, 2010

More Dog Jokes (sent by my friend Robert)

Why All Men Should Have Dogs Instead of Wives:

  • The later you are, the more excited your dogs are to see you.
  • Dogs don't notice if you call them by another dog's name.
  • Dogs like it if you leave a lot of things on the floor.
  • A dog's parents never visit.
  • Dogs agree that you have to raise your voice to get your point across.
  • You never have to wait for a dog; they're ready to go 24 hours a day.
  • Dogs like to go hunting and fishing.
  • A dog will not wake you up at night to ask, "If I died, would you get another dog?"
  • If a dog has babies, you can put an ad in the paper and give them away.
  • A dog will let you put a studded collar on it without calling you a pervert.
  • If a dog smells another dog on you, they don't get mad. They just think it's interesting.
  • Dogs like to ride in the back of a pickup truck.
  • If a dog leaves, it won't take half of your stuff.

Dog and cat characteristics•...

  • Dogs come when you call them. Cats take a message and get back to you when they are good and ready.
  • Dogs look much better at the end of a leash.
  • Dogs will let you give them a bath without taking out a contract on your life.
  • Dogs will bark to wake you up if the house is on fire. Cats will quietly sneak out the back door.
  • Dogs will bring you your slippers or the evening newspaper. Cats might bring you a dead mouse.
  • Dogs will play Frisbee with you all afternoon. Cats will take a three-hour nap.
  • Dogs will sit on the car seat next to you. Cats have to have their own private box or they will not go at all.
  • Dogs will greet you and lick your face when you come home from work.  Cats will be mad that you went to work at all.
  • Dogs will sit, lie down, and heel on command. Cats will smirk and walk away.
  • Dogs will tilt their heads and listen whenever you talk. Cats will yawn and close their eyes.
  • Dogs will give you unconditional love forever. Cats will make you pay for every mistake you've ever made since the day you were born.

Back Home Again

Three day beef school at Agro-Soyuz finished.  Everyone tired and happy.  Tanya says I am getting old as 11 years ago when I first taught a beef school in Ukraine, I could talk all day and not get tired.  It was a great class.  Lots of questions and arguments.  I learned lots too which is the best part of teaching an adult group.

Tanya and I are glad to be home with no projects in immediate future.  The last couple of weeeks have been pretty hectic.  I had 16 presentations on PPT that needed to be translated.  The translation team was tied up until a couple weeks ago so they were very rushed and late getting stuff back to me to make pretty and add pictures (slow email dictates no pictures etc in files sent for translation).  I was up late getting the PPTs ready, including nights during the school.

Spring has finally come.  Winter coats in closet, flower garden cleaned today.  Pictures of crocus's will be posted tomorrow.  Hyacinths are up and will bloom shortly.  Creek (river) is flooding.  Ducks and song birds are back.

Now I am going to bed.  I will read a week's backlog of blogs tomorrow.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Birthday Party and New Friends

Monday 15th was Volodya's 46th birthday so we went to a restaurant by the Dnipro River for supper.  Volodya and Oksana also invited their friends Natalia and Vasyl, whom we ahd met earlier in the day.  Natalia is office manager for Volodya and Oksana's company.  Vasyl and a partner have a woodworking shop next door!!  A fellow woodworker.  With lots of wonderful toys.

The first thing that caught our eye when we went into Volodya's office was a beautiful big hand-made blanket box by the door.  That was our introduction to Vasyl. Tanya ordered two immediately.  One for upstairs and one for downstairs bedrooms. I went over to his workshop and am now just itching to do some woodwork again.  It has been years.

Volodya and Oksana

Vasyl and Natalia

Snowing hard in Kremenchuk March 15th.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health Report

A regular reader emailed me inquiring about my health, in response to a comment I made on a previous post.  I just want to say, I am better these last few days but still feeling a bit drained.

It is no laughing matter; diarrhea's the total shits, really.  It hit me when I was driving the other day and I had to stop so fast I left skid marks and nearly wiped out.

 I'm not alone, either.  Diarrhea runs in the family.  It is heritable; it is in ourjeans.

It is not a problem you want on your hands and I may have run on a bit in describing it.  Expect one of my kids will email and tell me to "clean it up" and I already have.  I think I got most of it anyhow.

Road trip

Tanya and I are back from our three day road trip up north to Chernihiv Oblast. We took the bus to Kremenchuk on Monday to help our friend Volodya celebrate his birthday.  We stayed with Volodya and Oksana that night and next day with Volodya driving we left at 6:00 am to drive to meet with his client. 

The main company farms about 100,000 ha over several locations in Ukraine.  The man we met with manages three farms with a total of two or three thousand beef cattle.  Not sure how many mother cows.  The old Soviet system was long on total numbers as a count.  Useless in terms of information but impressive to those who know nothing about cattle.

Once I get pictures sorted and caught up on emails, I will post a bit about our trip. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010


As Churchy La Femme would have said, "Friday the 13th come on a Saturday this month".

Last night I finished the last PowerPoint presentation for a three day beef school I am doing in two weeks and sent it off to be translated.  I even backed up all my files on a flash drive, just in case.

I didn't sleep well.  Every joint ached.  (I know, I know, stay out of those joints). I was dog tired all day today.  Got up at 8:00, checked email, went back to bed until 11:00 while Tanya went into the city to shop.  Made some breakfast and went to have a shower. No water.  Went back to bed until 4:00.

We may have water tomorrow.  Went over to Lucia's this evening and got a couple pails from their well to flush toilet and we have a big jug of drinking water so are OK there.

The vet didn't come Friday.  We will have to take Volk in to the clinic to get his muzzle stitched up.  The stray female is still here.  Actually came up to me to be petted today.  She is staying with Bobik in their yard.  Volk does not want to go home as long as Bobik is there, though they have not fought.  Anybody want two dogs?  Only one of them is pregnant.

Tanya loves Volk for the same reason she loves LynnieC and Vicki.  The three of them do what they want and just ignore what anyone thinks. I like Bobik because he is like Monty and loves to please, listens to me...and hunts chickens but I don't say that out loud.

Couple of pictures.  The first is counted cross stitch that Lucia brought over to show us.  I found a beautiful kit at a craft shop and bought it for her just because she does counted cross stitch.  It will take her a while.  this was one she had just completed.

The second picture is a nine-plant stand I bought Tanya for International Woman's Day.  She still has two empty spots on it as she hasn't decided what ones to put there yet.  If the plants sit on the window sills they get too hot underneath from the registers.  With the stand they can get light but not so much heat.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Our Animal Kingdom

Kuchma Kot came home after four day, thin, filthy and bedraggled.  We were starting to worry that something he disagreed with had eaten him.  Most likely he was investigating someplace he should not have and accidentally got locked in.  At any rate we were glad to see him and rewarded him by giving him a bath.

Tanya wanted to bind his feet but since this was the first time I bathed a cat, I said no, i would just hold him.  Someone (Dana? Demeur?) posted about bathing a cat by stuffing it in the toilet, sitting on the lid and flushing a couple times, then getting out of the way while opening the lid. Should have done that.  Kuchma dug his claws into my arm and hung on for dear life while Tanya shampooed and rinsed him.  The tub ran black with mud. My arm ran red with blood.  Fair is fair I guess.

My two dogs are at it again.  About two weeks ago, they were out running around and suddenly went for each others throats.  Tanya and I separated them with some difficulty.  They were in deep snow.  Red blood looks really neat against pure white snow. We locked Bobik in their yard, leaving Volk out for the night.  Next day, I put Volk back in their yard, thinking they would have cooled off.  Nope.  I was by myself this time and really had trouble getting them apart.

I threw Bobik out and left Volk in the yard.  Next day, Bobik wanted back in so I opened the gate and in he went, no trouble. They got on fine.  I learned something but what?

A big German Shepherd cross female spent the night in the yard next door.  With Lucia's old dog.  How he got out, I have no idea.  Anyhow, he tried valiantly but could not mount a decent offense as they say in the game.  I have a great deal of empathy for him.  My two dogs howled, barked and whined all night, like roughnecks at a strip-joint, upset at being locked out of the action.

Next day, I let them out of their yard again and they didn't come home for two days.  When they came home they brought their consort with them.  A different female German Shepherd this time.  Smaller, fine featured, very intelligent but badly abused.  She had been hanging around before.  Abandoned by her owner (another sad story) in late December*, she was looking for food and of course we fed her on occasion.  I let her in the yard with Bobik and Volk for the night so she could eat and so my dogs would be quiet.

They were quiet all right.  Next morning the yard was tramped flat and they were tired and bloody.  It must have been quite a night as they have not so much as run since.  Very subdued pair of very chewed up dogs.  The vet comes tomorrow to patch them up and take the female off our hands.  We don't need another dog and we won't let her starve.

* that likely made her a Christmas consort . . . but I digress . . .

Monday, March 8, 2010

I can resist anything but temptation

International Women's Day was beautiful but cold.

After we had all eaten and the kitchen was full of dirty dishes, I said to Tanya, "Don't worry about the dishes, Honey . . . you can do them tomorrow when it isn't International Women's Day anymore".

Sunday, March 7, 2010

International Women's Day

Tomorrow is International Women's Day.  I'd never even heard of it until I moved to Ukraine.

Celebrated in North America mainly by the Nutcracker Sweets, it is a big deal in Europe and in Ukraine, International Women's Day is bigger than Valentines Day.  We have been sending ecards and telephoning our female friends all day today.  Yesterday we bought gifts (flowers and such) for Tanya and Lena and a game for Masha.  I had my eye on something for Tanya but she said no gift as such, she would rather make another big order to Interflora instead, which she did.

The kids are coming for Shashlik in the afternoon.  Not sure where we will cook it.  Maybe in the garage?  There is still two feet of snow in the patio area.

Volodya and Oksana were here for lunch on their way to Nikopol.  They are observing meatless Lent which made Tanya's prepared lunch obsolete.  I asked Volodya if he gave up Vodka, chocolate and sex too.  He said he was crazy not stupid.

Friday, March 5, 2010

More Conversations

Kuchma: Meow
Me: You want outside?
Kuchma: Meow
Me: (opening door) It is raining.
Kuchma: (goes outside, sits and watches rain)
Me: you can wander off and get wet or come back in the house where it is warm and sleep.
Kuchma: (comes back into the house) Meow

Me: Here is the 800 hrivna I owe* you.
Tanya: Good.  Do you need to borrow more money?

* for 400 hrivna she "loaned" me two weeks ago.

Meals were getting a bit slack as neither of us felt much like cooking.
Me: (sarcastic) Will you cook tomorrow?
Tanya: (sarcastic) What would you like me to cook for you?

Supper was amazing.  "Homemade" sausgage baked in teh oven, mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, huge green salad.
Me: Thank you so much for the wonderful supper
Tanya: You'll pay plenty for it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Earthquake Disaster in Chile

My friend Francisco's family lives in Santiago.  He writes the following:

Even though my family is all well and healthy there are many needs and many in need as per call for help from the Government of Chile as per list below extracted from Chilean consulate in Vancouver web site.
Thank you all,
The Government of Chile has requested from the international community the following help:
Mechanical bridges
Field hospitals with surgery capacity
Satellite phones and relay stations
Generator equipment
Evaluation systems of structural damage (hospitals, schools, public building, among others)
Desalination plants
Tent shelters
Autonomous dialysis centers
Mobile dining facilities
Some supplies require the envoy of specialized personnel. Please direct all technical inquiry about this help to Mr. Pedro Salamanca: psalamanca@onemi.gov.cl
 For all Chileans overseas wishing to collaborate with donations, the Ministry of the Interior has opened an account at the Banco del Estado with account number 4545 and the funds received will be sent to the Oficina Nacional de Emergencia (ONEMI), Chile’s Emergency National Office. 
 Chileans wishing to send money through the Consulate will be able to send a money order in US dollars addressed to the Ministerio del Interior.
 These money orders will be sent to Chile through the diplomatic pouch of the Consulate.
 For more information regarding the earthquake, please visit www.onemi.cl or the website of the Consulate General of Chile in Vancouver: www.chilevancouver.com
 Regarding the massive earthquake that affected the Central/South part of Chile, mainly in the Provinces of Valparaiso, O`Higgins, Maule, Bio Bio and Araucania, the Embassy of Chile in Canada can inform so far:
 To Canadian citizens:
 If you are a Canadian citizen and have family in Chile, please contact the emergency number of the Canadian Embassy in Chile: 613 9441310 (TTY)               613 996 8885         613 996 8885. You can also visit the Canadian Embassy website: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/chile-chili/index.aspx?lang=spa
 Communications by phone to and from Chile are still slow, but in process of recovery. So be patient. May we suggest you contact your loved ones by email, Facebook, or any other social network, which are mostly working.
 Please note that since Santiago International Airport will be closed at least the next 72 hours, international flies have been cancelled.
 To Chilean citizens
 Since most communications are down, though in process of recovery, we advice you to visit the web of the Emergency National Office www.onemi.cl in order to find out about the general situation in Chile.
 We also recommend you insist trying getting in touch with your family by phone, as well as by internet (Facebook, Twitter and others).
 About last minute information, you can also visit the following web sites:
To find people via GOOGLE:   http://www.chilepersonfinder.appspot.com/?lang=en  
 Today, March 01 we will open a bank account for donations to the victims of the earthquake. The details of the account will be posted here.
The amounts received will be sent to Chile via ONEMI, (National Emergency Office) or any government office the Chilean Government may determine.

Three Little Pigs

The garbage truck came at 9:00 instead of 10:00 today leaving our garbage bag still inside the front door.  The big German Shepherd showed up at 9:15, looking to raid our bag before pick up. 

I need a life.