Saturday, December 31, 2011

Anton Chekhov on Occupy Wall Street

Just look at this life: the insolence and idleness of the strong, the ignorance and brutishness of the weak, impossible poverty all around us, overcrowding, degeneracy, lies . . . Yet in all the houses and streets, it’s quiet, peaceful; of the fifty thousand people who live in town there is not one who would cry out or become loudly indignant.  We see those who go to the market to buy food, eat during the day, sleep during the night, who talk their nonsense, get married, grow old, complacently drag their dead to the cemetery; but we don’t see or hear those who suffer and the horrors of life go on somewhere behind the scenes. Everything is quiet, peaceful and only mute statistics protest: so many gone mad, so many buckets (of vodka) drunk, so many children dead of malnutrition . . . And this order is obviously necessary; obviously the happy man feels good only because the unhappy bear their burden silently and without that silence happiness would be impossible. . .

At the door of every contented happy man someone should stand with a little hammer, constantly tapping, to remind him that unhappy people exist, that however happy he may be, sooner or later life will show him its claws, some calamity will befall him – illness, poverty, loss – and nobody will hear or see, just as he doesn’t hear or see others, now. But there is nobody with a little hammer, the happy man lives on, and the petty cares of life stir him only slightly as the wind stirs and aspen – and everything is fine. . .

Wait in the name of what, I ask you? In the name of what considerations? They tell me that it can’t be done all at once, that every idea is realized gradually, in due time.  But who says that?  Where are the proofs that it is so?  You refer to the natural order of things, to the lawfulness of phenomena, but there is order and lawfulness in the fact that I, a living and thinking man, must stand in a ditch and wait until it gets over grown or silted up, when I could perhaps jump over it or build a bridge across it?  And again, wait in the name of what? Wait, when you haven’t the strength to live and yet you must live and want to live! . . .

. . . don’t settle in, don’t let yourself fall asleep! As long as you’re young, strong, energetic, don’t weary of doing good! There is no happiness and there shouldn’t be, and if there is any meaning and purpose in life, then that meaning and purpose are not at all in our happiness, but in something intelligent and great.  Do good!
 Excerpts from Gooseberries 1898
Chekhov wrote these words less than two decades before the Revolution of 1917 that changed Russia - and the whole world - forever and only 7 years before the Revolution of 1905 which began a period of reform which was - as always - too little, too late... 

Regina's Mobile Crisis Services answering calls for help

 What my daughter MayB does at work. Going on 12 or 13 years now.  She is awesome.

Regina's Mobile Crisis Services answering calls for help

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii - Colour Photographer of the Russian Empire

Today's blog is a result of a friend of mine posting a link to photos of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii on Facebook. If anyone is interested in colour photographs of the Russian Empire in the last years before the Revolution, this man's work is incredible.  In the days before colour film, he invented a process combining three monochrome photos in red, green and blue, then merging them to make a colour photograph.

Twenty pictures are shown at the bottom of the Wikipedia article linked to above and 86 at this link here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

March of the Penguins

Tanya saw these on a TV cooking show so made a bunch for our party on Saturday.  You need large pitted black olives for the body and small ones for the head.  Carrot serves as feet and beak while cream cheese and Mayo make the body stuffing for the white vest (split the body olive to stuff it).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Celebrating Five Years of Marriage

Tanya and I celebrated five years of marriage on Dec 23rd. We found it hard to believe that time had flown by that quickly but I guess with age time speeds up. For supper, Tanya made Chicken _?_*  that she saw on TV and we drained a bottle of bubbly between us.

On the 24th (yesterday) we had a dinner party for 16 friends at a local restaurant owned by a friend of Andrei's whose son is in Masha's class. We ate, drank, danced and sang and had a great time.  Since we had been married in Canada, this was the celebration in Ukraine we didn't have then.

It has been a good five years, we both agree.  Filled with love, filled with fun, filled with happiness.  We suit each other in so many ways.  And our families get along.  Tanya loves my kids and they love her.  I love Tanya's kids and they love me.  Someday we would like to have the whole family together in one place, even for a week, just to say we did it.

We are not without our differences (viva la différence) and misunderstandings. Some is personality, some is family tradition and some is cultural, I am certain, but they are all mixed together and hard to sort out.  Men and women never speak the same "language" anyhow but we really do speak different languages and have different cultures so it makes us doubly aware that we need to be careful and let things slide many times.  Both of us, I am sure, feel we give more than we take so it is likely pretty well fifty:fifty, as it should be.

Speaking for myself, I am happy and contented.  Many years ago I named my consulting company Odyssey because I felt like Odysseus wandering the planet trying to find "home".  I think my quest is over and while I will still wander the planet (as long as someone else pays) I know where home is.  It is wherever Tanya is.
The anniversary couple

The anniversary cake

A few of the guests, (while we waited for the rest)

*Chicken breast sliced thin, a layer of ham and a layer of cheese with another layer of chicken breast on top, dipped in egg, rolled in bread crumbs and fried (could have been roasted) and took her all of 10 minutes to make.  She said it is NOT Chicken Kiev; anyone know what it is called?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Final Leg of the Journey

The last four days in Regina were a mad dash to finish business and see as many people as possible.  MayB had people for supper Thursday night and Friday night and when they left, more people came for coffee. Sunday was her church's annual Christmas program and dinner so I was able to see many old friends and eat another Turkey dinner.

She hauled me to the airport Monday morning on her way home from work (MayB works 10 pm to 8 am and The Guy from 4 am to 1 pm; they see each other occasionally) and the long trip home began.  AC left Regina on time (surprise); so far so good. Even the Toronto-Frankfurt leg was relatively uneventful.

When we got to Frankfurt, it was snowing heavily. Not good.  Four hours late leaving Frankfurt meant I missed my train connection in Kyiv.  Our long time taxi-driver, friend and all around fixer, Kostia, came to my rescue and helped me acquire a ticket for a later train.  Not an easy task at the last minute and beginning of holiday season but possible for Kostia.  Upper bunk in an open car but a ticket never-the-less. Instead of arriving home at 11 pm Tuesday, I would leave Kyiv at 11 pm and it would be 6:00 am Wednesday before I saw my Tanya.

An upper bunk is not impossible for me to climb into but having to do that every two hours becomes a bit difficult.  Lucky for me the Car Attendant sized me up as possibly having more money than energy and rented me her roomette for the trip for $12.50 (100 UAH - same price as the ticket).  A bottom bunk and a room to myself.  I slept a little, which I would not have done on the top bunk, in spite of being exhausted.

Andrei met me in P'yatikhatki.  The fog was thick as pea soup (or in Russian, casha - porridge) and even Andrei had to keep his speed down.  Tanya had borsch and roast chicken waiting for us.

A wonderful trip.  Spent time with my children, my siblings and Grandma - the primary reasons, in that order, for the visit.  Everyone else was a bonus and there were too many I didn't see. Not enough time but it was time to go home.  There is no place like home and no one like Tanya.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Aunt Pat aka Precious Pat

Last Wednesday Ky and I drove up to Comox to visit my Dad's cousin Pat and meet her new husband John.  I hadn't seen her for several years and figured it was a good opportunity especially if Ky would drive. Pat is a very lively 88 year old and John is a spry 81 year old.  Pat has outlived two husbands named William and I told her I was glad she married a man named John not another William or I would accuse her of being a Bill collector. She said she is not changing her name this time as it is too much trouble.

We had a great visit.  John is originally from England but lived many years in Australia, working at a series of jobs that took him almost around the entire country, prior to moving to Canada.  He and Pat were in a singing group that goes around entertaining at seniors homes.  He offered to carry her accordion one day and she turned him down, saying she could manage.  Then she felt guilty she had been rude, so next time she asked him to help her. Her grandkids teased her that the accordion got very heavy over one week.

My second cousin Marilyn and her husband Bill came in for supper.  They are retired and have a B&B on the ocean front. Marilyn had been to Saskatchewan only once, 1964 for my grandparents 50th anniversary.  I remember meeting her then and once since, the last time I visited Pat.

Cousins of my parents are getting thin on the ground, Pat 88, Muriel 95 and Nora 99 being the only three left of 23 on one side.  Pat said she was delighted the younger generations (meaning Ky and I) still remembered the older folks.  I said she is the only thing between me and the abyss so the longer we could keep her around, the safer I felt.

Pat and John (photo by Maryanne)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ricky's Place

My sister Evelyn picked me up in Red Deer Friday and drove me to Calgary.  We stopped to visit my brother Stan's oldest and her two girls (five granddaughters, he has!) and then to Ev and Dan's home where Ev had invited her two kids and their spouses for dinner. Saturday morning she drove me to the airport and I arrived in Victoria at 1:00 pm.

Kylee-Anne picked me up and we went directly to the Christmas dinner put on by the church group she attends. I had never been to her assembly but knew several of the people so got a visit with them.  Then Saturday evening we drove to Duncan for coffee with my friends Robert and Jo, with whom I have done several business plan projects.  He was flying to Saskatchewan next day so it was Sunday night or never. Ky was sociable for a few minutes then retired to his office to mark final research essays from her English class.

Ky finished the essay marking but then had 32 final exams to mark and also had to work Monday, so Sunday night she drove me out to Mill Bay to my friends Wayne and Gifty Dunn.  Ky knew Gifty but had not met Wayne nor his son Kabore (an up and coming hockey player at age 10) before. She visited for a couple hours and said she would be back for supper Monday night.  Wayne and I have worked together in a number of countries on CSR projects, Turkey in particular, and he was in Ghana when I was last in Canada so it had been four years since I saw him.

Kabore got an early Christmas present, a Macaw named Ricky. Small vocabulary so far.  Hello and such like.  Screams "ERIC" when he is mad.  Not sure who Eric was but figure he was either a hen-pecked husband or a teenaged kid. Ricky and I were introduced and he rode around on my shoulder or arm for a while and seemed to hit it off.  I felt like Long John Silver.  He shakes hands by grabbing your finger in his beak and bobbing his head up and down.  Next morning I went to his cage and offered him my finger which he promptly bit.  Hard.  Drawing blood.  And said "Ouch". Parrot beaks have a very powerful bite. My fault - moved in too fast.  After that I moved a bit slower and finally got him to sit on my arm and shoulder again. He is quite friendly and we got on very well.

I leaned back on the couch and Ricky sat on my chest and "groomed" me, picking and nibbling gently at my eyelids, nose, lips and chin.  That took a great deal of trust on my part because that is one wicked beak and if he decided to bite, I would have lost pieces of face.

Parrots are very clever and can have the intelligence of a four-year-old according to the book.  Ricky learns quickly. He had been perched on the railing overlooking the entry stairs and didn't want to move.  He would not get on my arm and pushed me away with his beak.  When I persisted, he got angry and would have bitten me if I'd got near him.  Wayne went to get him and he bit Wayne hard enough to draw blood.  Wayne threw a towel over him and threw him in his cage.  Ricky knew he was being punished and sorted out his attitude real quick.

Next time he was on the railing and I went to get him, he tried to bite me again so I got the towel and showed it to him.  He wanted no part of that and held out his claw for me to put my arm down to get him.  We sat on the couch and he grabbed the towel from me and threw it on the floor.

Saying goodbye to Dunns was hard and poor Ricky didn't want me to go.  He kept lifting his claw for me to put my arm out to take him. I want a parrot.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Since both Number ONE Son and DIL work during the day, I am left to my own devices.  Yesterday (Tuesday) I had coffee with school mate I had not seen for literally 46 years, since graduating from high school.

Dee was literally the girl next door.  Her folks farm was 3/4 mile west of our place and our folks used to visit back and forth.  When dad drove school bus, they were the second stop on the morning route.  Dee and her two sisters were more the age of my younger brother and sister, which is how I found her - she was friends with my sister on Facebook and noted her place of residence as Red Deer. Last I heard they were in Lloydminster.

We sat in a local coffee shop that roasted its own beans and served homemade desserts.  Gabbed for two hours until the money in the meter ran out.  Dee has kept closer contact with the old neighbourhood than I, as she and her husband helped run the farm after her dad passed away.  Until they figured they were both working to support their farming habit.  So we caught up on everyone we could think of from school days and all our neighbours, her mom and sisters, my siblings, kids, life in Ukraine and so forth.

Nice to catch up.  Sometimes I miss the community I grew up in but not often. The world changes and like they say, you can never go home again.

A Variety of Wishes from Bill Blum

William Blum writes a monthly Anti-Empire Report, the December version of which can be found here.
He sends the following to his readers (who may pick the greeting of their choice) including a number of wishes for the New Year.

To my dear readers in the United States and around the world — In the spirit of the season, I wish each of you your choice of the following:
  • Merry Christmas
  • Happy Chanukah
  • Joyous Eid
  • Festive Kwanza
  • Happy New Year
  • Gleeful Occupy
  • Erotic Pagan Rite
  • Internet Virtual Holiday
  • Heartwarming Satanic Sacrifice
  • Devout Atheist Season's Greetings
  • Possessed Laying-on-of-Hands Ceremony
  • Really Neat Reincarnation with Auras and Crystals
And may your name never appear on a Homeland Security "No-fly list".
May you not vex a marginally literate high school graduate with a badge, a gun, and a can of pepper spray.
May your abuses at the hands of authority be only cruel, degrading and inhuman, nothing that Mr. Obama or Mr. Cheney would call torture.
May you or your country never experience a NATO or US humanitarian intervention, liberation, or involuntary suicide.
May neither your labor movement nor your elections be supported by the National Endowment for Democracy.
May the depleted uranium, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and napalm which fall upon your land be as precisely guided and harmless as the State Department says they are.
May you receive for Christmas a copy of "An arsonist's guide to the homes of Pentagon officials."
May you not fall sick in the United States without health insurance, nor desire to go to an American university while being less than wealthy.
May you re-discover what the poor in 18th century France discovered, that rich people's heads can be mechanically separated from their shoulders if they refuse to listen to reason.
May you be given the choice of euthanasia instead of having to watch Republican primary debates.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Travelling Man

Have a bit of time today to write something.  I am currently in Red Deer Alberta, visiting my son and his wife who are both at work during the day so am left to my own devices with the two dogs for company.

I arrived in Canada last Monday afternoon and called my daughter MayB on Skype from Toronto.  Where are you?  Toronto.  When do you get into Regina? 12:30 am.  I thought you were coming tomorrow.  12:30 am is tomorrow.  (Some of my family are chronologically challenged). She did come and get me, though.  And we did some visiting, shopping and appointments over the three days.  MayB and the Guy work odd shifts so was able to get visits in with them as both were off for two days I was there.  We are splitting my visit three days coming in and three days going out, as that way we don't get on each others nerves. Well, me mostly on hers, the way she tells it :) :) :)

Three days in Regina flew by and Friday morning I hitched a ride to Saskatoon with a friend Jen Evancio from Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership to meet with a business associate Al Scholz once we got there.  Stormed most of the way and roads were treacherous.  Several of us have formed a dba, CIBUS Management Group, under Al's consulting company to chase work in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. 

Then dropped up to the U of S Animal Science Dept College of Agriculture and said hello to Dr. Bernard Laarveld, grabbed a 15 minute visit with my hero, role model and friend Dr Red Williams, Professor Emeritus, who is in his mid-80's and still goes into the office at Animal Science almost every day.  Dr. Dave Christensen, Ruminant Nutritionist, Professor Emeritous, mentor and long time friend, called his wife to put some water in the soup and slice the baloney thin as he was bringing me home for lunch.  We spent the afternoon discussing nutrition (I am still his student after over 40 years) and the world's problems.  Dave doesn't solve problems; that is what grad students are for. His job is to give them problems.  I know this.

My brother Stan (The English Cowpath) drove in from Rosetown to pick me up about 4:00 and I spent the night with him and his wife.  They have five granddaughters under age 6.  We stopped to see three of them, including the youngest Tatiana, who is 6 months old.  Pictures to follow (Stan, ask Shauna to email me the pictures she took, please).  Next day Donna drove me out to the farm at Wilkie where my brother Ross lives, having retired from Toronto about two years ago and moved back west. My son drove from Red Deer to pick me up and he and I spent the night at the farm and had a good visit with my brother whom I had not seen for several years.

Next morning we drove to Lloydminster to visit Grandma.  Grandma is Ella's mom and my kids' last remaining Grandparent.  She will be 92 in January and is now in an assisted living home as her memory is failing somewhat, though she is still very spry for an old girl.  Now that she is eating better she has gained weight and the pajamas I brought her didn't fit.  Awesome!  We went from Grandma's over to her youngest son's place and had a short visit with him and his wife and three of the kids before leaving for Red Deer.

Trying to see everyone in three weeks is impossible.  Some people will be angry that I didn't stop to visit and I am sorry as I would dearly love to see everyone of my friends and cousins.

Next year maybe Tanya and I will come over in summer and spend a couple months vacationing and visiting.  She didn't come this time as she has been battling a cold and besides she has been to Canada twice in winter...nuff said.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Potential Republican Presidential Candidate

Too bad this guy isn't an American citizen.  He would certainly qualify for a run at the Republican candidacy for president.  True story from an Irish friend.

A GALWAY councillor has refused to apologise for swearing at a County Council committee meeting after he told a fellow councillor to "go **** himself"
Local area councillor Seamus Tiernan made the amazing outburst after he was told he was a "feckin eejit" for thinking that cloud computing was only suitable in areas with lots of rain.
He had told the Infrastructure Committee meeting this week that his native Connemara would be ideal for cloud computing because it has heavy cloud cover for nine months of the year."
The Independent councillor said that the Government should be doing more to harness clean industries for the Connemara area and he named wind energy and cloud computing as two obvious examples.
"Connemara in particular could become a centre of excellence for wind energy harnessing, as it is open to the Atlantic. Also in terms of cloud computing, we have dense thick fog for nine months of the year, because of the mountain heights and the ability to harness this cloud power, there is tremendous scope for cloud computing to become a major employer in this region."
However his mistake was pointed out by an incredulous Cllr Martin Shiels who said that "this is taking the biscuit. I've heard it all now. You must be a fecking eejit to think that the cloud computing had anything to do with climate."
Cllr Tiernan took umbrage at the remarks of his colleague and called for them to be withdrawn. When Cllr Shields refused to do so, Tiernan said "go **** yourself, Cllr Shields."
Chairman Sile Ni Baoill asked for both councillors to withdraw their comments, but Cllr Tiernan was unrepentant that Cllr Shields was wrong and that cloud comouting is linked to cloud cover.
"Tell me why large companies are opening server farms in cold wet countries then, he asked Cllr Shields.

Monday, November 28, 2011

You have to live here to appreciate this one fully.

Three men, an Englishman, a German and a Russian are in a contest on some kind of reality show.  They are each given three steel balls about the size of a baseball and each sent to an empty room. Whoever can come up with the most unique use for the balls in one hour is the winner.

At the end of an hour, the Englishman is juggling; the German has worked out an elaborate gymnastics routine and the Russian has lost one ball and broken another.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On the Road Again

Off to Canada to visit my kids for three weeks.  Haven't seen my son and his wife other than on Skype for over two years when we were last home for MayB's wedding.  LynnieC was here from London last Christmas and MayB and Ky were here in July 2010.  It is a long time between visits.

Tanya says she will go with me next summer and we will rent an RV and camp in the mountains for a month.  Sounds like a plan.

72 hours home is not long enough between 3 week long trips.  I love my kids but I also love my wife.

Train to Kyiv, Lufthansa to Frankfurt, Lufthansa/Air Canada to Toronto and Air Canada to Regina.  Makes for a long day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Professor Isabekov's Traveling Dog and Pony Show

My trip to Kazakhstan, along with that of an American counterpart, was to add profile and entertainment to a series of 10 seminars held between November 9 and 23 across northern Kazakhstan promoting the expansion of their beef industry.  An organization called KazAgroMarketing has been charged with promoting beef cattle production and with providing technical information to assist producers to expand and improve their cow herds. This was the third series and one more will be held in the new year.  They had hoped for attendance of about 80 at our seminars but averaged half that.

Kazakhstan used to have a big beef industry but after the collapse of the Soviet System, cows were sold off to generate cash and the numbers plummeted, similar to stories in all the other SSRs.  Kazakhstan has 150 million hectares of pasture land (including mountain and desert grazing areas, I think) and grows a lot of grain each year which is a long way from tidewater.  They are surrounded by countries that need to import beef including Russia (for now at least), China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq... so it is a no-brainer to support beef industry expansion.  And every beef genetics salesman in the world is in Kazakhstan.

On the map below, the black stars are where we stayed - Astana, Kokshetau, Kustanay, Petropavlovsk and Karaganda.  The red stars are the locations of the seminars that I could find on Google Maps.  Several of the villages were too small to even get honourable mention. We would hit the road at 6 or 7 am and drive to the village, grab breakfast and set up the meeting room.  Seminar ran from 10 to 1, then we would have lunch and drive another 30 minutes to a farm. There we would view their Kazakh white head cattle, and the American would demonstrate AI technique and ultrasound pregnancy testing.  The American did it because he could else they would have had their own vet do it.  We would get back to our hotel anywhere from 6 to 8 pm most days.

Professor Isabekov, fearless leader and excellent speaker
Dr Dan Larson, Minnesota, Nutrition and Reproductive Physiology

Front - Baurzhan, veterinarian and Balzhan, translator. Back - Kadyrzhan, nutritionist and Bayan, administration

Thursday, November 24, 2011


MayB refers to all my pictures froom working trips as ABC.  Another Bloody Cow.  I like cows.  I take pictures of cows.  Many many pictures of cows.  I have pictures of cows from all over the world.  Now that I am back on line (railway station in Kyiv) I feel duty bound to share some of them with you. 

These are Kazakh White Head cows.  Many Many Many years ago the Soviet Union imported a bunch of Herefords from Canada.  It would never do in the FSU (hey, that rhymed) just to have Canadian Herefords.  They had to be "improved" by crossing with local Kazakh cattle and given a suitable new name so the university professor/institute scientist who invented the new breed could be famous. The "new breed" was recognized officially in 1953.

They are commercial Herefords in my opinion.  They look like Hereford range cows maybe with body type from 30 to 40 years ago, with horns from the Kazakh Steppe cattle they were crossed with.  They are good hardy productive cattle, too.  Enjoy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I am in Kazakhstan until Nov 25.  Ability to access Blogger is nil.  Tried again this morning and was able to open it.  No idea why it will or won't open at any given time.  Posts will be nil until I get home, for sure.  Nor can I read anyone's posts either.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Study of the Interconnectedness of Transnationals

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world - physics-math - 19 October 2011 - New Scientist

"From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, the Zurich team pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company's operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Breaking Smith's Quarter Horse

"Oregon Jim Creek was frozen solid and so was Smith's right ear".  So begins Paul St. Pierre's story of Smith; first name known only to people he hates, like bankers and brand inspectors. Smith is a small time rancher some 200 miles west of Williams Lake BC on the high Chilcotin Plateau. Set in the late 1950's when a ranch "needed 100 cows" to make a decent living, Smith has 78.  And many horses.  Many many horses.

Smith is a man of moderate ambition.  He has a Quarter Horse stud which he is convinced will make a legendary cutting horse IF Ol' Antoine, a local Chilcotin, will talk to the horse in the Indian fashion (this is long before horse-whispering became the rage).  He has promised Ol' Antoine $20 dollars and given him half already.  He has been waiting several years for Ol' Antoine to do this.   Ol' Antoine has a habit of promising Smith he will break the horse "right away, maybe start tomorrow".

Ol' Antoine according to his own stories might be 137 years of age.  He claimed to have fought in the Chilcotin War of 1864 and ridden with Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces in their futile race for the Canadian border. 

Smith's other ambition is to mind his own business and stay out of other people's troubles.  However the harder he tries, the more other people's troubles find him. Gabriel Jimmyboy, who "happened to shoot where someone was standing" and has been on the run for some months, has been pursuaded by one Walter Charlie to turn himself in to the law.  Smith trusts Walter Charlie "about as far as you can bounce an anvil in a swamp" and rightly so.  Ol' Antoine is to take Gabriel Jimmyboy in and collect the $500 reward which he will give to Walter Charlie who will "hire a good lawyer" and, as court translator, with Ol' Antoine in the witness chair, will speak "the words the white man wants to hear" to get Jimmyboy off the charge.

Other than warning both Gabriel Jimmyboy and Ol'Antoine that Walter Charlie is not to be trusted, Smith steers clear of the issue.  Until court is convened in the middle of haying season and his hay crew leaves to Williams Lake.  A broken mower blade sends Smith to Williams Lake and into trouble...

Breaking Smith's Quarter Horse was a gift from my parents back in the mid-sixties and surprisingly enough is still available from Chapters-Indigo.  The book was in the last care package MayB sent me.  I have read it dozens of times. It is an old friend. Paul St. Pierre spent most of his life in the Cariboo-Chilcotin country of interior BC and knows its people well.  The story is told in dry understated humour, which still leaves me laughing out loud at times.

They used coal oil lamps and gas lanterns. The toilet stood one hundred feet from the house and was made of logs, unchinked.  It was the coldest place in all Namko, possibly in all the world.
In the preceding summer Smith had built yet another line of his endless fencing between house and toilet.  He had not yet found time to make a gate through this fence.  The fence itself had required a month of hard work. The extra day required to make the gate had not been found by him. No doubt there was such a day, but he had not found it.
Some of these features of the Home Place annoyed Norah, in a general way.  On this day her annoyance was not general but specific.  Smith had been away for two days and he had neglected to notify her when he was going, where, why or when he might be expected to come home.

The story was originally written for television.  Chief Dan George made his acting debut as Ol'Antoine and went on to fame and fortune.  A good book, especially for those who enjoy ranching tales of a simpler time.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy as Pigeon with a French Fry GiST # Next

1. Have my documents, visa, presentation, ticket and clothes ready for Kazakhstan.  Leave Monday morning at 0045 hours by train to Kyiv and Monday night 2300 hours by plane to Astana.  Will rent a flat for $50 and sleep all day. Will be home late on 24th Nov.

2. Friday's trip to Kyiv was far less nerve wracking than last week's trip.  Only one screw up and it was my fault - left my modem and mouse in the restaurant where I had lunch with my friend George from the Canadian Embassy.  Discovered this at the railway station at 1545 and by 1715 was back with the missing pieces after a very brisk combination of subway and walking.  Needed the exercise anyhow. Went straight to the train which left at 1745.

3. Tanya had hot soup waiting for me when I got home Friday night.  The perfect comfort food.

4. Skype

5. Andrei drove me to Dnipropetrovs'k on Thursday in his Lexus to pick up the last documents for my trip.  I didn't mind travelling at 120 until Andrei said the speedometer was calibrated in mph not kmph.  Oh...

Kuchma appears to have dived onto his towel and  collapsed

Speaking of diving, this sleep position is adapted from the Olympic diving team.

Cold cat cuddles quilt.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Our Neighbour Viktor 1940-2011

Our neighbour Viktor was buried today.  It was a beautiful warm fall day.  The service was held at the house, actually outside in the yard.  Tanya and I went to pay our respects.  He was a good man and the neighbourhood will miss him. He had a good heart or доброе сердце as they say.  He always had a cheery hello and would often stop to chat if Tanya was in the flower garden.  My dogs will miss him, too, as he always had a kind word and a pat for each of them whenever he went by.

He was a man "from the village" all his life and worked hard.  He loved his cows and pigs.  When we moved here he had three cows and he and his son spent the summer putting up hay. Every morning at 5:00 all summer long he would pass our door taking the cows to join the others from the village where someone would herd them for the day and then he would go and collect them at night about 8:00. Sometimes the dogs and I would go with him to collect his cows. As the years passed the cow numbers dwindled to two then one.  We bought fresh milk from him the past two years.

Viktor's health was never good.  The doctor said just living to 71 was an accomplishment.  He was small and frail looking though his son and daughter are both quite tall.

We wonder now about his wife.  She is not physically able to look after livestock and cannot afford to keep the house and yard on one pension.  She may go to live with her son and his wife or her daughter and her husband but those are not easy decisions for her or them.

The neighbourhood is a little lonelier.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Global Wealth Pyramid

Read Article HERE.

Of the world's ADULT population, 0.5% own 8.5% of the world's wealth while 91.2% of the adult population own 17.8%. Time for a realignment of wealth.  Unregulated capitalism works only for the wealthy and not for the poor. Even Adam Smith realized that and worried many times throughout his famous book that without government keeping a firm grip on things, the results would be what we see today.

If businesses the world over market products or services that fill a need (the purpose of business) and make their owners rich, that is good; PROVIDED the business does not destroy the environment, treats its employees fairly and equitably and puts back into the community.  IF the business/owners use their money and power to monopolize, to beat down their employees, to co-opt governments into passing regulations that favour them and not passing those that would hold them to account, it is called in economic terms "rent-seeking".  (That also includes the activities of the powerful at the tops of planned economies too). Rent-Seeking is the chief cause of the disproportionate distribution of wealth and the seething discontent of the 99%.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Simple Fare for Simple Folk GiST #22

  1. Bread, cheese and tea for supper last night. Tanya knows exactly what to serve.
  2. My new $30 canvas computer bag; not the $300 fine soft black leather one that we looked at in Krivii Rih.
  3. Our little purple Kia Carens, standard transmission, few bells and no whistles but dependable and not too expensive to repair.
  4. Our little village, bad roads and all, but peaceful and with open country just across the road.
  5.  Just general contentment.  Few needs and fewer wants. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fools and Children

Yesterday was one of those 24 hour trips to Kyiv.  I was applying for my Kazakhstan visa and hoping to get the Canadian Embassy to certify some true copies of documents I need to take with me.

Either I am getting old or the berths on that night train are getting harder.  Not much sleep on the trip.  McDonald's at the train station at 7:00 am is packed 12 deep at 12 tills. It took less than 10 minutes to get my breakfast. No complaints there. It is not a good place for s sudden onset of dysentery, though, as the wait for the men's bathroom was 20 minutes.  Single stall.  Obviously McDonald's adheres to local standards (none) as opposed to setting their own intelligent ones. We did let one guy jump queue as he appeared in a bad way.

Wanted to be at the Canadian Embassy at 9:00 but the line up at the can plus finding a bank machine plus rush hour on the Metro meant it was 9:30.  They were able to handle three of my six documents, the others will have to go through the Ukrainian notarizing system.  For some reason Kazakhstan want my diplomas to prove I have gone to university.  At my age what difference does it make?  Further more, I could find a few hundred people who never darkened the hallowed halls who could do a better job than I of describing Canadian beef cattle production in 10 to 15 minutes. So the embassy will do what I told the Kazakhs to do and that is contact the Registrar's Office.  The paper diploma is only for decoration.  But not in the FSU, I guess, where documents with STAMPS are sacred as the original scrolls of the Pentateuch.

It was 10:30 when I finally headed for the Kazakh Embassy to apply for my visa.  I got off the Metro and looked for a place to change 400 Hrivna for $50 USD, the cost of the Visa.  No luck.  ALL the money changing booths in the area were closed up tight.  I found a bank finally and was told that because I was a foreigner they couldn't change money for me.  Some new currency law I didn't know about.  Panic city.  The Kazakhstan Embassy takes Visa applications until 12:00 noon.  It is now 11:00 and I am running out of time.  Call Tanya (who else??).  She said try another bank. Some days I wonder about me.

I headed for the Kazakhstan Embassy and looked for a bank along the way.  None.  I was hoping I could talk Ivan (the guy at the Embassy who speaks English) into letting me pay in Hrivna or waiting to pay until I picked it up next week.  I see a bank a few doors past the entrance to the Embassy.  A very small branch.  One desk, one teller, one security.  In my bad Russian and the desk lady's bad English, I explained the problem well enough she understood and was instantly sympathetic.  She said one magic word "resident" but I didn't have my Ukrainian Residency Card.

I got Tanya on the phone and she and the lady are having a conversation when I remembered THE STAMP.  I had a permanent residency stamp in the back of my passport.  Problem solved.  The lady smiled and lit up like it was Christmas, took a quick copy of my passport and the stamp and the teller lady gave me my $50 along with two documents to sign for it.  It was 11:35 when I got to the Kazakhstan Embassy.

Six people in front of me.  I know the routine too well.  Every one of them takes TIME and the clock is ticking. The lady at the counter finished as I found a chair.  French lady and two of the people in line were her kids.  She had driven from France through Europe to Ukraine and was planning on DRIVING through Russia, Kazakhstan, China (Xinjiang and Tibet) to Nepal where she was opening a restaurant ("the food in Nepal is terrible").  I learned all this while the second person in line was finishing at the counter.  The other two people were still filling out documents so I was next.

Ivan had a good laugh at my currency adventures and promised my visa would be ready Monday even though I was coming Thursday.  Finished at 11:50.  Wringing wet, heart pounding and looking and feeling like the wrath of God.  Found a Coffee House and had three cups of hot black bitter mud and a wild berry cheesecake to celebrate.  This was after I went back and bought a small bouquet of flowers for the folks at that bank.

Winter is coming GiST #21

1. Every day is a day closer to April and spring
2. Getting the dogs winter lean-to house all warm and snuggle BEFORE the weather got cold.  And remembering to shut of the water to the outside hose before the tap froze.
3. Kuchma has decided he is going to become a house cat in his old age.  He sleeps in the house at night but wakes Tanya up every morning at 7:00 to be let outside to do his 'blutions then comes back in for milk and cat food. Tanya has to wake me to take my turn at getting up early as I don't hear him at all.
4. Watching the dogs munching walnuts and spitting out (most of) the shells.  They were helping Tanya rake and burn leaves under the walnut trees and discovered walnuts were edible.  They are not as clever as the ravens at opening them but since they can crunch the nut, they don't have to be.
5. The doves are so pretty; light brown or light grey. This must have been a good season for them as there are many of them roosting n the walnut trees.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Depends on how you look at it.

My thanks to Sandy L for this.

"O would some Power the giftie gie us, tae see ourselves as others see us"  - Robert Burns

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Deadlock in Kazakhstan as oil workers strike

For five months, hundreds of workers from the oil fields of western Kazakhstan have been on strike demanding better pay and working conditions. Now the country's longest-running industrial dispute, it has led to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in oil revenue, reports the BBC's Rayhan Demytrie.

 Kazakhstan is a rich country.  Oil and minerals bring in billions in royalties and profits to the government.  Astana is gleaming with new buildings.  Out in the harsh desert where the oil is being drilled for and pumped out, it is not as obvious.  The oil workers are striking for danger pay they are provided for under law.  the courts (government) has declared the strike illegal.  Thousands have been fired.  Demonstrations have been broken up by police.  Activists have been arrested and jailed and one murdered.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Miscellaneous Gratefulness GiST #20

1. Air ticket to Kazakhstan arrived today.  Must mean I am going, though my gut feeling and Tanya's, too, is not good.  The whole episode has been SNAFU to date but money is money so one takes the risks.

2. Bought three return trip train tickets to Kyiv for under $100.  Two round trips to get my visa and one to catch the plane to Astana.  We'll buy train tickets to Moscow and to catch the plane to Canada in  November.

3. The hounds have been behaving quite well lately.  Either the 6 weeks in lock-up while they healed or the fact that it is late in fall and no females are running loose or both but they re remarkable playful and head into their pen when it is time.  Even Volk.

4. Tanya's cold seems to be getting better.  She still has a lot of congestion and coughs up a lung once in a while but less often than it was.  She says it is because our friend Ryya has it now.

5. Got word today of the sudden death of a colleague from Saskatchewan Agriculture days.  Not grateful for his death but certainly for his life.  He was a good man and made a solid contribution the the industry.  Wild Rice Specialist at La Ronge, Ag Rep at Hudson Bay and Forage Specialist at Prince Albert over the years.

Turkish Pizza

The Turks make a very nice thin crust pizza.  For teh first week we were on vacation, the resort would serve fresh pizza at the outside bar between 10:30 and 12:00 for those of us who were too lazy to go to breakfast or wanted a snack after swimming.

The pizza is baked in a wood fired oven.  The coals are pushed to the back and the surface dusted relatively free of ashes, then the pizzas placed in the oven using a traditional long handled paddle; turned once during baking and retrieved, cut up and served hot.

The second week there were too few people there and the practice was discontinued.  There is a reason for lower rates late in the season. But it was good while it lasted.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Food mostly GiST #19

1. Ryya and Vladik came for supper last night so I have another granddaughter story.  She is 5.  Mother: "Why aren't you learning to read?"  Girl: "I don't have to; my friend Iliya can read". Late at night, her mother can hear her tossing and turning in her bed. "Why aren't you asleep?" "Mama, who first decided the world was round?" And mother had to go to Google and find out before the kid would settle down.

2. Tanya went to the market today and I didn't have to go.

3. When she got home we made three litres of Adzhika sauce.  Tomatoes, bell peppers, red chili peppers, fresh horseradish root and garlic all run through the food grinder.  24 cloves of garlic turned out to be too many and next time we will use just 12. The sauce can be cooked and bottled or just bottled and kept in the fridge which is what we did. Apparently you can eat it with anything though it seems to me it would go best on beef.  it is good on bread and butter too.

4. Tanya made vereniki (perogies to some of you) for supper and put a bunch in the freezer too.  Vereniki is first boiled of course. Potato stuffed vereniki are then fried in butter with onions.  Cottage cheese vereniki are basted with melted butter and eaten with sour cream.

5. Number ONE son and DIL bought a new to them car, a 2008 Ford Escape.  They needed a new car so badly as their Toyota had seen better days. I am glad.

Cat Fight

If you have never heard Rossini's Duet for Cats, this clip is one of the best I could find.  I have seen this performed live in Dnipropetrovs'k by Ukrainian or Russian Mezzo-sopranos and again last night on TV by two other sporanos. I just love it.  As do the performers. They really get into the act.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How to Move to Canada: A Primer for Americans

How to Move to Canada: A Primer for Americans

At Amazon:

Here is your chance. Saskatchewan is crying for construction workers and manufacturing workers.  Two farm machinery companies that I know need 30 and 40 people each.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Looking for my wallet

I resemble that remark

The following was sent to me by a "friend'.  It hits too close to home, I am afraid.

$5.37! That's what the kid behind the counter at Tim Horton's said to me... I dug into my pocket and pulled out some lint and two dimes and something that used to be a Lifesaver. Having already handed the kid a five-spot, I started to head back out to the truck to grab some change when the kid with the Elmo hairdo said the worst thing anyone has ever said to me. He said, "It's OK. I'll just give you the senior citizen discount."

I turned to see who he was talking to and then heard the sound of change hitting the counter in front of me. "Only $4.68" he said cheerfully.

I stood there stupefied. I am 56, not even 60 yet
. A mere child! Senior citizen?

I took my food and walked out to the truck wondering what was wrong with Elmo. Was he blind? As I sat in the truck, my blood began to boil. Old? Me?

I'll show him, I thought. I opened the door and headed back inside. I strode to the counter, and there he was waiting with a smile.

Before I could say a word, he held up something and jingled it in front of me, like I could be that easily distracted! What am I now? A toddler?

"Dude! Can't get too far without your car keys, eh?" I stared with utter disdain at the keys. I began to rationalize in my mind.

"Leaving keys behind hardly makes a man elderly! It could happen to anyone!"

I turned and headed back to the truck. I slipped the key into the ignition, but it wouldn't turn. What now? I checked my keys and tried another. Still nothing.

That's when I noticed the purple beads hanging from my rear view mirror. I had no purple beads hanging from my rear view mirror.

Then, a few other objects came into focus. The car seat in the back seat.. Happy Meal toys spread all over the floorboard. A partially eaten doughnut on the dashboard.

Faster than you can say ginkgo biloba, I flew out of the alien vehicle.

Moments later I was speeding out of the parking lot, relieved to finally be leaving this nightmarish stop in my life. That is when I felt it, deep in the bowels of my stomach: hunger! My stomach growled and churned, and I reached to grab my coffee, only it was nowhere to be found.

I swung the truck around, gathered my courage, and strode back into the restaurant one final time. There Elmo stood, draped in youth and black nail polish. All I could think was, "What is the world coming to?"

All I could say was, "Did I leave my food and drink in here"? At this point I was ready to ask a Boy Scout to help me back to my vehicle, and then go straight home and apply for Social Assistance benefits..

Elmo had no clue. I walked back out to the truck, and suddenly a young lad came up and tugged on my jeans to get my attention. He was holding up a drink and a bag. His mother explained, "I think you left this in my truck by mistake."

I took the food and drink from the little boy and sheepishly apologized.

She offered these kind words: "It's OK. My grandfather does stuff like this all the time."

All of this is to explain how I got a ticket doing 85 in a 40. Yes, I was racing some punk kid in a Prius. And no, I told the officer, I'm not too old to be driving this fast.

As I walked in the front door, my wife met me halfway down the hall. I handed her a bag of cold food and a $300 speeding ticket. I promptly sat in my rocking chair and covered up my legs with a blanket.

The good news was I had successfully found my way home.

Notice the larger type? That's for those
other old fogies who have trouble reading.

P.S. Save the earth....... It's the only planet with seniors discount !!!!

Equality and sustainability at stake in Sask election - from Next Year Country

Next Year Country: Equality and sustainability at stake in Sask election: By Jim Harding No Nukes October 19, 2011 The 2008 global recession was sparked by greedy, largely unregulated U.S. banks. Now the Euro z...

 This post is a reprint from Next Year Country.  It provides some startling statistics of inequality right in Saskatchewan.  The economy is booming but people are still being hurt.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homeward bound GiST #18

The last few days have not made it easy to look on the thankful side of much, even though ther ehave been things to be thankful for, I have not felt like listing them or even much thinking about them, being weighed down with other things (see previous post).  However it all fell in place today and so here we go.

1. I have a signed contract with Nameless Large Republic and should get my airline ticket from them tomorrow if they ever make up their minds when the seminars are to be held.  At least I know what my topic is and can work on it finally.

2. The delegation from a Ukrainian company that wanted me to take them to Canadian Western Agribition and do a short study tour of farms, ranches and feedlots cancelled out last night.  This was to be my ticket home to see my kids after 18-24 months.  However Large Nameless Republic kept moving the seminar dates later past the date I would have left for Canada so it was fortunate that the delegation cancelled.

3. Tanya said I should go anyhow so this morning I booked my ticket to Saskatchewan and will be in Canada from Nov 29 to Dec 19.  Did I ever mention how much I love my wife?

4. Kuchma slept in the house the other night instead of going outside.  He came upstairs to wake Tanya at 7:30 in the morning.  BUT he wouldn't go out until first he had a bowl of milk and then his tummy rubbed. He is so funny.  His winter fur filled in while we were in Turkey and he looks like a much larger cat now than he did all summer.

5. People's kids make me happy.  Tanya's Aunt Vera has a great grandson Tolik (Anatoly) who is two and talking up a storm.  Tolik is the one who took the nuts off the axles of his great grandmother's wheel chair and dumped her when the wheels came off.  He loves nursery rhymes and can say several of his favourites.  His great grandmother will often mix up the names of her daughter Natasha, Tolik's grandmother,  and her granddaughter Katya, Tolik's mom.  So now the little imp will grin at his grandmother and call her Katya.


7. Masha, the littlest pot head, though it does seem a bit of a strain.

Contract, anyone?

I have been negotiating with a government agency of a country which shall remain nameless but is not Ukraine or Russia, for a small contract to deliver a presentation at a series of seminars in November.  They are, or claim to be, in charge of implementing the government program to expand the beef cattle industry.  I will not go into detail but it took two months of fruitless emails culminating in intervention of the Canadian Embassy and a conference call on Skype to learn what the topic was on which I was to speak.  

I intended to work through a consulting company of which I am an associate, simply to get the company name front and centre with hopes there might be more work.  We did get a contract, which the president of the consulting company duly signed and returned.  Yesterday we learned (as did the government agency apparently) that in order for them to sign ANY contract with ANY legal entity, they required the documents listed below (this is copied directly from their letter).  I don't think so.  

I am not familiar with protocols of signing multi-million dollar tendered projects or anything  like that but for less than $10,000 it does seem like overkill. It won't happen.  So now it is a personal contract between me and them which only requires FIVE documents.

The list of documents a legal entity is to provide:
  • Notarially certified copy of the Charter, which is formed according to the law. Non-residents of _____ should provide notarially certified extract from trade registrar with translation into state language and/or Russian.
  • Notarially certified copy of certificate about state registration (re-registration) of legal entity.  If legal entity acts upon Standard Charter, established according to law, he should provide notarially certified copy of application for state registration.
  • Notarially certified extract from constituent documents (in case, if Charter does not include information about founders or group of founders), which includes information about founders or group of founders, or notarially certified extract from registrar of shareholders, issued no later than a month ago, preceding the date of opening of envelopes. The next documents to prove solvency of legal entity:
  • Original of certificate from the Bank or branch of the Bank, in which potential supplier has a bank account, that certificates an absence of delayed debt for all obligations of potential supplier, which lasts more than three months,  preceding the issue date of certificate, before bank or branch of the Bank in accordance with Standard accounting plan in commercial banks and mortgage companies, established by the decree of Board of National Bank of the Republic of ______, in accordance with Annex 7 to this current tender documentation (if potential supplier is a customer of several banks of commercial bank or branches as well as of foreign bank, given certificate is presented from each bank) with signature of the first manager of Bank (branches of banks) or his deputy with seal of Bank. Certificate should be received no later than a month, preceding the date of opening of envelopes with applications to participate in the tender.
  • Original or notarially certified copy of financial report for the last financial year, signed by the first Manager or person, who replaces the Manager;
  • Original of certificate of established form of corresponding tax agency on absence of tax debt and debt on mandatory pension contributions and social deductions to saving pension funds, no less than for three months (except for the cases, when payment date is delayed in accordance with legislation of Republic of ________), received no later than one month, preceding the date of opening of envelopes with tender statements, signed by the Head or deputy of tax agency; 
  • A copy of the certificate of registration for VAT (value added tax), in the presence;
  • Technical specification in accordance with Annex 2 to this tender documentation;
  • Document, which proves introduction  by potential supplier of application to participate in the tender, established by current tender documentation  or bank guarantee in accordance with Annex 6 of current tender documentation;
  • Commercial offer of potential supplier in accordance with Annex 8 of current tender documentation (excluding the cost on accommodation, meal, travel in ________);
  • Letter of attorney to the person, who presents potential supplier to sign application to participate in the tender and participate in the meetings of tender commission, with exception of the first Manager of potential supplier, who has authority to sign without a letter of attorney,  in accordance with Charter of potential supplier;
  • Information about qualifications to participate in the procurement process in accordance with Annex 5 to current tender documentation;

Friday, October 14, 2011

Back Home Again GiST #17

1. Arriving home safely Wednesday night.  The tour company bus behind us on our way to the airport in Antalya was in collision with an oncoming car in its lane that sent 18 people to hospital.
2. Our neighbour Katya who house-sat for us and fed the critters also cleaned the house from top to bottom. She warned us we needed mouse bait.
3. Kuchma caught two mice in the house last night.  Of course, we had to corner the mouse and show him where it was but at least he didn't break out a deck of cards like Garfield.  Tanya is distributring mouse bait by the bag full.
4. Pork roast.  After two weeks in Turkey.  Tasted awesome
5. Our new hot water furnace is keeping the house nice and cozy even on low.

The Ancient Port City of Phaselis, Turkey

One of the stops on our boat cruise was at the ruins of the once major port city of Phaselis.  It is located a few km south of Kemer on a small peninsula with three harbours.  According to the information at the site and also on Wikipedia and TravelLinkTurkey, it was founded in the 7th century BC by people from Rhodes and finally abandoned in the early 13th century AD.  The Phaselitans were traders not politicians and the city prospered under a variety of rulers - Persian, Greek, Lycian, Roman, Byzantine and finally the Seljuk Turks.  Most of the ruins are of Roman and post Roman origin.

I am posting a few pictures but if you Google Phaselis, Turkey and click on images, you will see some wonderful photos.
With Google Earth, you can look down on the peninsula and see through the pines the main street and some of the ruins

The peninsula is covered with ruined stone buildings.  We had no real time to explore.

Certainly some of the city site has tumbled into the ocean over the centuries
The Romans were great for bath houses

More bath house

Ruins of a market place or Agora

We both saw this brave little flower blooming away in the middle of main street