Thursday, June 30, 2011

Relatives are where you find them

My Great Grandmother Georgina Ross had a brother George who ran away from his home in Rosscarbury, County Cork, Ireland at the age of 15 and was never heard from again by his family.  Rumour had it he was in South Africa.

My brother Stan is the current family genealogist and a couple of years back managed to track this distant branch of our family.  George Ross had changed his name to Arthur Ross which was enough to hide behind pre-internet days. His grandson, Brian Ross, 83, now lives in Western Australia and has filled in much we did not know about George Walter Arthur Ross and all our missing relatives.

Brian's interest is the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 about which he has researched and written a number of books.  His interest in the Anglo-Boer War has a personal link.  His Grandfather  fought in the war as a Commandant of a Boer Commando unit, defending his adopted country Orange Free State against the British.  You can read more details on The Australian Boer War memorial website here.

George and Ethylwyn Ross
I learned today that Brian has recently written two historical novels which are/will be available as e-books.  An Irish Nurse in Africa and The Irish Boer.  The first book is the story of Francis O'Driscoll with the British Royal Army Medical Corp in Natal, the second is the story of her brother who is fighting on the side of the Boers against the British.  The latter is in process of becoming an e-book. Now I have a real reason to see if I can fire up an old Sony e-reader I happen to have and find some instructions how to run it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

someecards and me

The directions are simple.  Go to someecards and pick five cards which describe you in highly unflattering ways. The last time I did this, my kids didn't quit laughing for days.  You can see it here.
No really funny ones this time.  I am disappointed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trucking on the M-54 Krasnoyarsk to Kyzyl

The M-54 highway runs from Krasnoyarsk about 850 km through Abakan to Kyzyl in Tuva on the other side of the Sayan Mountain range.  My brother-in-law Valerie trucks coal across those mountains summer and winter.  Tanya and I traveled the road from Abakan to Kyzyl in June 2006 and there was still snow on the high passes.  Beautiful country but not one I would care to drive a semi truck over in mid winter.
Doesn't look far on a map
Valerie's Scania and coal trailer

This is early June 2006, a late spring

The video is the Sayan Mountain road in winter.  Be glad you don't have to drive it for a living.  Valerie is a good driver and makes pretty good money for that part of the world.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The English Cowpath: Canada is Unofficially Bimetric

The English Cowpath: Canada is Unofficially Bimetric: " I wrote the following 2 years ago in response to a question from my 3rd cousin who was raised in South Africa and is now living in Western ..."

Next Year Country: ROAR on BBC World: Why the media lies about Greece...

Next Year Country: ROAR on BBC World: Why the media lies about Greece...: "By Jérôme E. Roos June 24, 2011 In a short BBC interview today, I argued that the media’s witch hunt against Greece perpetuat..."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Siberian Banya or Sauna

The banya is a fixture of every home in Siberia.  Apartment dwellers do not have the luxury but then, don't need it in the same sense.  The banya serves as sauna and bathroom for homes that do not have plumbing.  Bathroom as in bathing and washing, not to be confused with the toilet which is out back.

The banya is always in a separate building from the main house, at least partly for fire safety reasons.  Luda and Valerie's banya is just across from their house.  The first door was Luda's kitchen until they got plumbing and she moved it into the house, the old kitchen now serving as summer kitchen and store room.  The second door is to the banya. Theirs is a simple two room banya with a small entry room for dressing and for servicing the firebox (bottom) and the water reservoir (top) which you can see in the picture below. The green paint is over brick or concrete.

The fire in the banya was kept going almost all the time as the reservoir served as a source of hot water for washing clothes and dishes.  In winter, one made a quick dash across a cold yard, to a warm banya for morning washing up and teeth brushing, etc. When it was time for a bath or sauna and bath, the fire was revved up to heat the water, the room and the rocks as hot as you wanted to stand.  In the picture below (which is the back side of the picture above) you can see the construction of Valerie's system.  There is a pipe running from the fire box under the rocks to and through the brick chimney at the back. The rocks get hot.  You dip water from the reservoir and throw it on the rocks where it explodes in a cloud of steam.  Beside  where I was standing to take the picture is a wooden bench to sit or lie on while you steam yourself.

The wooden barrel is for cold water.  Once you are steamed as much as your lungs can stand (and it is a learned process) you take hot water from the reservoir and cool it from the barrel and give yourself a bath, ending with a cold water rinse.  The floor is wooden slats with good gravel drainage under it so splashing water around is not an issue, in fact it is expected.

The banya is wonderful.  You feel cleaner than just a shower but it is not as quick or as handy.  And it is NOT a place for unattended children or clumsy adults.

It certainly is part of Russian tradition though -идти в банё (ydti v banyo - go to the banya) is a polite way of telling someone to go to hell.

How to Resurrect a Dead Cat

Kuchma gains and loses about 500 gm (1 lb) per year.  We fatten him up all winter so he will survive Spring Break.  About June 1 he looks like the wrath of God, thin, scruffy and unhealthy.  We worry about him.  He is sick.  He looks like he could die.  The cuts, gouges, missing pieces of hide and bite marks gradually disappear, he regains health, gradually puts on weight and the cycle continues.

This year he looked worse than usual and we really did worry.  He was off his feed all this month.  Usually he likes his "kitekat" dry cat food but he now would just nibble at the kibble.  We buy fresh whole farm milk with lots of cream.  He normally drank two dishes a day but now was just sort of looking at it.  He followed us around meowing like he wanted something but he himself didn't know what.

Three days ago I gave him store bought milk.  He drank two dishes.  We bought a 14 oz can of Whiskas tuna cat food.  For the first time in weeks, he smiled and his eyes sparkled. We spread it out over three days which he didn't approve of as he would have inhaled the entire can had we put it out in his dish.

Today he was sleeping in the arm chair.  I opened the new can in the kitchen.  He didn't move.  I walked into the living room and stood in front of the chair.  He didn't move.  I stuck the open can of tuna under his nose.  He moved. He could not have woke up faster if a mouse had bitten him on the nose.

Kuchma in late winter with some weight on.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Midnight Rescue

My friend Wayne Dunn, true to his Irish antecedents, has the gift of the gab.  He was hit in the kisser several times by the Blarney Stone and twice in the head with it for good luck.

He is a born marketer. A Saskatchewan farm boy from Big River, he is the only highschool drop out in history to hold an MBA from Stanford University.

He helped his cousin, Glen Scrimshaw,  rise from starving artist to international renown. Glen was struggling to sell a few prints at $25.  Wayne said for a piece of the action he would set out a marketing strategy that would take him up the ladder.  Glen reluctantly agreed.  Wayne doubled the price of Glen's prints.  Sales of prints doubled and revenue went up four times.  Wayne doubled the price again, sales doubled and revenue increased four times again.  Wayne sent a press release to major newspapers extolling the virtues of a rising Saskatchewan artist who had to double his prices twice in one year because demand was going through the roof.  Glen has never looked back.  Wayne's "piece of the action" - a few originals and some #1 of__ limited print editions.  I have Glen's "A Century of Memories" hanging in our stair well here in Ukraine.  Not an original.

Wayne has been drug and alcohol free for almost 25 years, having consumed sufficient in the first 33 to last normal humans three lifetimes.  Back in the days prior, he and Glen were returning home from a show in Edmonton late one night.  Here is the story in Wayne's own words.

Glen and I were on our way home from a show in Edmonton. About a 500 mile drive. It was past midnight and we were halfway between Prince Albert and La Ronge. 60 miles from anywhere. Lights came on and we were stopped by the RCMP. In those days we used to consume quantities of "lung tranquilizers"  and we inhaled. The van reeked and there was plenty to be found. I jumped out to meet the cop before he could smell the interior. Turned out it was his anniversary and he hadn't gotten his wife a present. It was midnight so he was F'd. By the time the dust settled we were leaving with some of his money and all of our drugs intact and everyone was happy. 

Years later Glen was doing some fundraising work with the RCMP Benefit Fund, donating prints and such.  He ran into the guy who told him what a lifesaver it was to stop Glen that night.  Apparently the story has made its way around the RCMP and is quite well known.  

I tried to get Glen to tell them the rest of the story but he wouldn’t.

A Century of Memories - Saskatchewan Centennial 1905-2005

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The English Cowpath

My brother Stan who featured prominently in yesterday's blog post about the machine shed on our farm has finally started his own blog -  The English Cowpath.

My brother has two literary hobbies.  One is the origins and movements of people, especially as traced by mDNA and Y chromosomes (The Seven Daughters of Eve).  The other is the origin and evolution of words, words themselves and wordsmithing, which his new blog indulges. 

Check it out, please. And add yourself as a follower if you enjoy the use and abuse of the English language..

Oh, yes, his third hobby is photography and he is no slouch at that either.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Remembering the Farm - The Machine Shed

Dad farmed for 40 years nowhere to store equipment and nowhere to work on it out of the weather.  He  built a workshop/garage in the early 1950’s but it was only used once to overhaul equipment (motor on the 49 Merc 1 ton) before it filled with junk and was pretty much useless. About 1982 he decided it was time to build a real machine shed.

He bought 12 posts and trusses from a WWII airplane hanger and had enough planks and such also accumulated from auctions that he could build with minimum investment, which was how he did everything.  My brother Ross was in Ontario but would take summer off work to come back to the farm.  My brother Stan had a business in Rosetown but helped out when he could.  I had just started a new job in Regina and was rarely involved.  It was better that way.

My brothers building the forms for the foundation.  You can see the old shop in the background with the green door against it.

My brother Stan leveling the concrete.  You can see the old barn in the background.  It was once the home of my dad’s Uncle Joe and also the Cavell Post Office.  We moved it to the farm in 1952 (?) and converted it into a barn with loft.

Putting up the end truss.  The posts are bolted to the trusses and act as legs.  The trusses and posts were massive, multiple 2x12s bolted together.  The first truss was the tricky one as there was nothing to hold it up and it had to be braced until a couple more were up.  Dad rigged a “boom” on the front end loader to push the first truss up into place.  It didn’t work too well.  The truss came back down with a crash, brushing the peak of Dad’s cap as it fell onto the tractor.  That was the end of work for that day and he hired a crane to come and do the others.  Not sure when he went back to doing it himself.

 There is an aerial shot of the completed shed.  Note the date:  August 17, 1984.

 Two days later it looked like this.  Tornado came through and took it out.  Dad tore it apart and started over, added more length to it to the north, taking out the old shop, and made the final 40 x 132. It had three sections, north and middle were 36 feet long and the south end was 60 feet.

 It never did get doors on it in Dad’s lifetime and true to form, much of it filled up with junk from one end to the other  BUT there was still room for tractors and combine and such.

 Mom and Dad both passed away in 2002.  My brother Stan was the only one of us in Saskatchewan and took responsibility for sorting everything out, including the auction sale in September of that year, doing a superb job of all of it.  This shot was taken just before the sale.  The machine shed dwarfs everything else on the farm site.

 One of the first things Stan had to do was get doors on the machine shed so that stuff could be securely stored.  The farm site was to remain empty until my brother Ross retired two years ago and came back to the farm to live.

 In January of this year, a short in an extension cord started a fire in some shavings and the machine shed burned to the ground.  My brother was pretty sick about it because my dad was so proud of having a real machine shed.  That and the fact he had just moved all his stuff out from Ontario and had it all in the shed.

He is currently in negotiations with the insurance people to rebuild on the spot.  He told me the other day that he submitted a list of contents with over 100,000 items on it.  They’ll be a while sorting it out in Regina.  But rest assured there will be another machine shed on the farm if my brother can pull it off.  But it will be Quonset style.

Next Year Country: Libya, Canada's Other Ugly War

Next Year Country: Libya, Canada's Other Ugly War

Sunday, June 19, 2011


The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved."  Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out.

Terrorists have been re-categorised from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy.  These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is canceled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

John Cleese - British writer, actor ( Monty Python ) and tall person

Lilies of the Field

Tanya and Lena have been working in the garden since 5:00 pm, though I think Tanya was out by 3:30 in the heat.  It was well over 30C today.  Gallons of cherries, more strawberries (help, please, take some) and pouring the water to the cucumbers which will be pickle size this week.  We put up 3 litres of peas into the freezer two days ago.  Tanya picks, we shell and I blanch.

Tanya has lilies blooming from spring till fall. Whites, reds, pale reds and yellows now, fancier ones earlier this year and I have no idea what is next but there are several about to bloom.  Who knew lilies were for other than Easter?  These are for Mel who loves lilies.

I threw in a picture of the dogs for my daughters who likely prefer dogs to flowers.

Bobik and Volk on a hot day
These lilies are about 12' high.  We had never seen such short lilies before.

These lilies are over 5' tall.  Crazy.

Tanya says the dark red ones are for me.  Actually it is redheads I like.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Udderly Fantastic - Two Cows Explaining the Middle East

The Cynical Dairy Farmer's Guide to the New Middle East

How a couple of cows explain a changing region: equal opportunity offender edition from Foreign Policy magazine. Some good ones in the comments section too.

 And while we are at it: An oldie but goodie, the Carnation Milk contest

An older lady from Wisconsin had worked in and around her family dairy farms since she was old enough to walk, with hours of hard work and little compensation.
When canned Carnation Milk became available in grocery stores in the 1940s, she read an advertisement offering $5,000 for the best slogan. The producers wanted a rhyme beginning with 'Carnation Milk is best of all.'

She thought to herself, I know all about milk and dairy farms.  I can do this!  She sent in her entry, and several weeks later, a black limo pulled up in front of her house.

A man got out and said, 'Carnation' LOVED your entry so much!  We are here to award you $2,000 even though we will not be able to use  it!'

Friday, June 17, 2011

Alice's Poem for Louise

Louise's sister Alice wrote several poems over the years trying to make sense of her sister's experience in Vietnam.  She sent me this one with permission to print it.  It was written some 30 years after the fact, from the viewpoint of her sister or any other nurse like her. Her comments on the poem are below.

Reality Show
I came back to The World in 1971---
A year had gone by.
From Saigon to San Francisco on a transport
then on to Chicago Midway by commercial.
25 hours of flight-and-wait time
only to arrive to the taunts of unkempt homies.
They wore filthy fatigues and long strands of Love beads,
bodies bouncing around
unencumbered by clean or dirty underwear.
Some sat on the ground, wrapped in dirty Old Glories.
They carried placards with the peace symbol
demanding PEACE NOW!
Their version and mine of reality.....
One guy protested by spitting on me.
I stopped in an airport gift shop, bought a sweatshirt.
Ducked into a ladies' to peel off the dress greens,
switching to wheat-jeans and sandals from my carry-on
to go with the new shirt. Stuffed the pantyhose
in the trash.
My feet were cold, but blending in,
I sat at the Ozark gate,
waiting for the final leg of the journey,
my flight to Waterloo.
I had been off saving babies for a year.
From newborns of mixed-racial parentage
left by their abandoned mothers with the nuns
at the orphanage down the road from the unit,
to American boy-babes
a couple-three years younger than I,
drafted from cities and towns and farms
back in The World---
They were carried into our Med-Evac
asking for Mom
and I shush-shushed them, saying, "It's OK......"
and the ones we didn't save
couldn't save
are forever twenty in my mind.
                        ---AMW 8/28/03
This was a previous effort that I had polished up & used for a poetry course, and the instructor, who was a student at the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa, was probably a lot younger & didn't understand it. He didn't know a military transport plane from a commercial flight. BIG difference in comfort of the ride & how much room there was for feet and legs. This guy opined that hippie demonstrators were a myth, that this did not REALLY happen......that they would spit on returning military people in uniform. 
But it did happen, and it happened to Louise in Chicago.  Ozark was a midwest airline company, now long defunct.  And that orphanage was real, too. Louise wrote home about the conditions there, and she got our mother to do a baby clothing drive. Mom got ALL the church women in town going on that, Reformed, Methodist, and Roman Catholic, and gathered several boxes of baby things to ship to VietNam. 
It was an interesting time!  I suppose all times are interesting........if you think about it. :-)  Lots to pray about.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Universal Soldier

My second cousin Louise was a few months older than me which was important when you were in your early teens.  Her parents would come up from the States to visit my grandparents so I met her a few times in the very early 60’s.  She was tall, slim, quiet and very pretty (like her nursing grad picture).  She read lots and the two of us sat on the basement steps at my grandparents and talked for hours.

I lost track of her when she stopped traveling north with her family. Her mom and her sister Alice would occasionally come to visit, then just Alice and her husband every once in a long while.  So it had been 50 years since I last saw Louise.

Then I reconnected with Alice on Facebook a little over a year ago only to learn Louise had been diagnosed with cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Louise had graduated from Nursing and served as a Captain in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. This is what Alice wrote to us after Louise died last month:

Yes, it is like the Vietnam War got her all these years later. Turns out some of the chemicals in Agent Orange encapsulate & hide out, and later on, they can come out & bite a person again. Louise was thinking that a previous shadow on an adrenalin gland, something that showed up in x-rays years ago & was under a 'probably nothing/we'll watch it' comment by doctors....that this was where the dioxin or whatever it was hid out.

When she was first diagnosed, I asked her about Agent Orange. "But you weren't out in the countryside or the jungle, when that stuff was raining down from the planes," I said. "But the guys would come into our evac all wet & covered with that stuff," she said. A good share of those guys have been gone for a long time already. There was another young soldier from here who was directly exposed. He made it home, got married, had a little baby girl, and then he died after a short battle with cancer. That was back in the 70s.

She fought it valiantly! Surgery, chemo, radiation....she had some of each. She was certainly a tough cookie. She was truly a person of integrity, always going the extra mile & doing more than was called for. I believe that the verse from the Gospel of John 15:13 fits her very well (Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends).

In those days and especially when you were from the Mid-West, you didn’t question.  You went and did your duty and assumed you were fighting for God, Country and a Just Cause because the people you trusted told you so.  Louise did right for her times and her family is justifiably proud of her.

But those she trusted lied to her and to every one else who served.  As they continue to do.  Perhaps as “they” have always done to the soldiers who fight for the empires of the rich and powerful?  And they reward them by treating them like heroes until they are wounded or discharged from service and then they are abandoned.  They reward them by poisoning them with Agent Orange in Vietnam; with depleted uranium and suspect vaccinations in modern wars.  And still the young men and women sign up and still they fight.  It has been forever thus.  They are the Universal Soldiers.  Maybe they need to stop.  Because the rich and powerful will not.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Good Hearted Woman

Tanya would take under her wing every stray dog, cat or kid in the country if she could.  There is a family in town with a bunch of kids that live with their grandmother who is often sick.  When they are down to dust in the cupboards, the oldest boy, about 12 will show up at our house, a long walk from the city, and Tanya will put together a food hamper and a little cash.  It doesn't happen very often, maybe every month or two.

Last week there was a young boy about Masha's age or a little younger, riding his bicycle up and down our street, all alone.  Back and forth, back and forth, all day long.  Masha was here on Sunday afternoon which meant Maxim was here and Ivan, too.  Tanya called the little boy in from the street. 

Vladik was visiting his grandparents who bought a house at the end of the block three years ago. We had seen him before, just never on a bike until this year. He is 7 1/2 and has never been to school because he has, as he put it, "problems with his eyes and cannot speak well".  He squints terribly and has a very thick tongue making it difficult for him to say a lot of words.  He has been to "the doctor" and will likely start this fall in a special school where they can help him with his speech.  Other than that, Tanya says, he is a pretty bright kid.

Tanya introduced him to the three kids and clamped down hard when they started asking him to pronounce difficult words. She got them playing Russian Lotto and said to them, you help Vladik.  Maxim cottoned on right away and you could hear the four of them laughing and having a great time.

Yesterday, I saw Valdik and Maxim walking together down the road, talking and laughing.

I love my wife.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Explaining Corporate Systems Using Cows aka More Bull

AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.
ARKANSAS CORPORATION: You have two cows. That one on the left is kinda cute...
BELGIAN CORPORATION: You have one cow. The cow is schizophrenic. Sometimes the cow thinks she's French, other times she's Flemish. The Flemish cow won't share with the French cow. The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow's milk. The cow asks permission to be cut in half. The cow dies happy.
CALIFORNIA CORPORATION: You have millions of cows. They make real California cheese. Only five speak English. Most are illegal. Arnold likes the ones with the big udders.
CHINESE CORPORATION You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.
DUTCH CORPORATION You have two cows. Officially you don't have cows. Their milk is black. You declare 20 cows for EC subsidies. Their stable was built without permit, of course by yourself with recuperation materials. Keeping them generates losses which are tax-deductible.
ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholders who sell the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Sell one cow to buy a senator or congressmen, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public buys your bull.
FLORIDA CORPORATION: You have a black cow and a brown cow. Everyone votes for the best looking one. Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one. Some people vote for both. Some people vote for neither. Some people can't figure out how to vote at all. Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.
FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You break for lunch. You drink some wine.  Life is good.
GERMAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, live 100 years, milk themselves, and run a hundred miles an hour. Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.
INDIAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You worship them.
ISRAELI CORPORATION: So, there are these two Jewish cows, right? They open a milk factory, an ice cream store, and then sell the movie rights. They send their calves to Harvard to become doctors. So, who needs people?
ITALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch. You drink some wine.  Life is good.
JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.
NORTH KOREAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned. You are drafted.
PAKISTANI CORPORATION: You have all the cows in Pakistan, which are two. You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private parts. You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons for the Afghan Taliban.
POLISH CORPORATION: You have two bulls. Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.
RUSSIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You have some vodka. You count them and learn you have five cows. You have some more vodka. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You stop counting and open another bottle of vodka. The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.
SWISS CORPORATION: You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.
ZIMBABWEAN CORPORATION: A farmer has two cows. You take over his farm, eat both cows and wait for the international community to supply more.
Added, with thanks to Demeur. AMERICAN BANKING CORPORATION: You have two cows. Both are ill.  You sell shares in the cows all over the world.  The cows die.  You declare bankruptcy and the government bails you out.  You give yourself a $10 million bonus.

Added, with thanks to Squatlo. ALABAMA CORPORATION: You "have" two cows.  Literally. The sheriff and his deputies respond to neighbors' complaints and haul you to jail. Animal control takes the cows for rabies testing. The test requires a beheading, but if clean, they're free to leave! Auburn grads with "animal husbandry" degrees rewrite the state's marriage laws to allow for inter-species weddings.

Added, with thanks to jadedj. WASHINGTON DC CORPORATION: You have two cows.  They moo from both sides of their mouths and give milk only to a select few.  They do not mingle with the common herd, except every two to four years during which time the bull is udderly non-stop for several months.

Explaining Political Systems Using Cows

My thanks to DAC for triggering this one.

CANADIAN LIBERAL PARTY: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You push for higher taxes so the government can provide cows for everyone.

CANADIAN CONSERVATIVE PARTY: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?

CANADIAN NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you all the milk you need.

CANADIAN GREEN PARTY: You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.

CANADIAN BLOC QUEBECOIS PARTY: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

PURE SOCIALISM: You have 2 cows and you give one to your neighbor.

IDEOLOGICAL SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM: Your cows are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and eggs the regulations say you should need.

FASCISM:  You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

PURE COMMUNISM: You have two cows. Your neighbours help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

REAL WORLD COMMUNISM: You share two cows with your neighbours. You and your neighbours bicker about who has the most "ability" and who has the most "need". Meanwhile, no one works, no one gets any milk, and the cows drop dead of starvation.

RUSSIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk. You stand in line for hours for your share.  It is expensive and sour. You steal back as much milk as you can and sell it on the black market.

PERESTROIKA COMMUNISM: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the Mafia takes all the milk. You don’t get a share. You steal back as much milk as you can and sell it on the "free" market.

CAMBODIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

PURE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbours decide who gets the milk.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

BRITISH DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. You feed them sheep's brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do anything.

CANADIAN DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

PURE ANARCHY: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbours try to take the cows and kill you.

PURE CAPITALISM: You don't have any cows. The bank will not lend you money to buy cows, because you don't have any cows to put up as collateral.

ANARCHO- CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: You are associated with (the concept of "ownership" is a symbol of the phallo-centric, war mongering, intolerant past) two differently - aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender.

Added, thanks to Ol'Buzzard. AMERICAN CAPITALISM: You have two cows.  You locate them in a third world country where they are  milked very cheaply and manure is flushed into the nearest river.  You import the milk to America and under-price American dairy farmers, putting them out of business.  You hire a lobbyist to buy Congressmen.  The government cuts your taxes and subsidizes your company.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Three Saint's Day

Today is an important day in the Russian Orthodox Church.  It is the feast day of three major saints Peter, Michael and Nicholas, pictures of the three of whom are carried in people's cars quite frequently, somewhat similar to St Christopher's medals, I think.

At any rate we had shashlik to celebrate. Roman found a new Georgian marinade recipe on the internet. He put 5 lbs of pork chunks to soak yesterday.  He is our chef, when it comes to wood fired BBQ cooking.  The shashlik was awesome.

Andrei and Tanya were invited but went to Krivii Rih instead but did drop Masha off.  Volodya and Valya from P'yatikhatki came over, so we had six adults and lots of meat and veggies.  I made a Cinnamon Coffee Cake for desert and along with strawberries and ice cream, we all ate too much of everything.  A good day.

Done to perfection

I can't get the colour right.  These roses are dark red with almost black stripes

Ma, he's making eyes at me.

Masha and her Uncle Roman get along well.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Get up, Grandma

Sometimes I do something right.  Visiting Tanya's sister Luda and family was a pleasure this time because THEY GOT INDOOR PLUMBING since we were last there.  So as a reward for not having to use the outhouse, which has a seat but no boards across the front, Tanya and I bought them a computer.  Nothing fancy, just the basics.  They signed up for hi-speed lite which is cheap and handles Skype. If every investment I ever made worked out that well...

Every day now, Tanya talks to her family, face to face with Skype and a video cam.  She can see her Papa every day.  Roman too is Skyping his aunt almost every day.  That is the best part.  He is getting to know his family in Siberia whom he has not seen for maybe 10 years, though his grandfather was here two years ago. Makes my day just to see the happiness on everyone's faces.

One of the reasons Tanya has been calling every day is that her cousin Natasha has been very ill, in Intensive Care in Abakan Hospital, though she is home now.  She had thrombo something.  Small blod clots floating around that were lodging in her lungs and making it very difficult for her to breath. They got it under control.

Natasha's mother Tanya's Aunt Vera, lost a leg 18 months ago to diabetes.  She gets around fine on crutches and wheelchair. She even babysits her great grandson, Tolik, when called up on to do so.  Tolik is named after his great grandfather, Anatoli (Tolia, Tolik) but he takes after his "Uncle" Roman.  Roman took everything apart to see how it worked, including his toys and two vacuum cleaners.  Tolik has discovered how to undo the wheels on his great grandmothers wheelchair.

They learned this when Natasha was in hospital, Tolik's mom Katya was working and Vera was babysitting.  A wheel came off and dumped her rather suddenly.  Tolik's response?  "Get up, Grandma".

Vera, Tanya, Natalia, Anatoli

Song and struggle: "Preacher and Slave"

By  David Bester  People's World   June 9 2011

Joe Hill was born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund in 1879, in Sweden. Like many other impoverished Europeans, he immigrated to the USA and became a migrant laborer. He traveled the country from New York to San Francisco, taking work where he could find it. In 1910 he joined the radical syndicalist union IWW (the Industrial Workers of the World, nicknamed the Wobblies).

Hill was a talented singer and songwriter. He became a renowned troubadour of labor, and toured the country helping to organize workers. This was a dangerous endeavor that Hill ended up paying for with his life. In 1915, in Utah, he was framed for murder and executed.

The bosses hated the Wobblies, and intense battles for the hearts of workers were a regular occurrence.

These sometimes reached the level of physical fights for control of street corners between IWW agitators and the bosses' thugs. Other opponents were Christian organizations that sought to disarm the minds of the working people, particularly the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army targeted the IWW, preaching against them and sending their band to drown out IWW speakers.

For this reason, many of Hill's songs attack and mock religion, and especially the Salvation Army. At the same time, the words tended to be set to famous religious tunes.

Folk singer Pete Seeger explained: "If the Salvation Army was preaching against them from one street corner, they might set up a soapbox on the opposite corner. When the Salvation Army band started up 'In the Sweet By and By,' Wobblies would use it to accompany their own singing of Joe Hill's parody, 'Pie in the Sky'.... "

"Preacher and Slave," which Seeger mistakenly refers to as "Pie in the Sky," is a good example of a Joe Hill religious parody. In it, he mocks the revival hymn "In the Sweet By and By," which encourages the downtrodden to be patient and docile in awaiting their heavenly reward, and he throws in a jab at the Salvation Army, calling them the "Starvation Army."

The song is also the origin of our phrase "pie in the sky" (meaning something fanciful or ludicrous).

Here are the lyrics:

"Long-haired preachers come out every night, Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right;
But when asked how 'bout something to eat, They will answer in voices so sweet"

"You will eat, by and by, In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die

And the Starvation Army, they play, And they sing and they clap and they pray,
Till they get all your coin on the drum, Then they tell you when you're on the bum"


"Holy Rollers and Jumpers come out And they holler, they jump and they shout
Give your money to Jesus, they say, He will cure all diseases today"


"If you fight hard for children and wife, Try to get something good in this life,
You're a sinner and bad man, they tell, When you die you will sure go to hell"


"Workingmen of all countries, unite Side by side we for freedom will fight
When the world and its wealth we have gained To the grafters we'll sing this refrain"

Modified chorus:
"You will eat, by and by, When you've learned how to cook and how to fry;
Chop some wood, 'twill do you good Then you'll eat in the sweet by and by"

Photo: Joe Hill from Wikipedia

Friday, June 10, 2011

World's Largest Camel Toe

The rest of the camel
What?  You were expecting something else? From me?  I'm shocked.  Shocked, I tell you.

I told you I was to the Left of Karl Marx

Lost in the Bozone found his point on  the Political Compass today. And referenced this website which helped him find it.  The Political Compass explains that simple Left and Right does not adequately define one's political views.  They add a second, verticle, axis called Authoritarian - Libertarian. 

As you can see in this figure, economically Hitler was more of a Centrist, while Stalin was to the Left, yet economics aside, both were pretty much off the scale in terms of Totalitarianism. Milton Friedman on the other hand is pretty extreme Right, economically but Libertarian in his views of government.

Other world leaders may be Left or Right economically but most tend to be pretty much on the Authoritarian side of the axis.  Not unsurprisingly.  So I took the test, answered the five or six pages of questions and ended up where I expected to be.  A Left Wing Anarchist.  If I were 35 years younger I should like to think I would blow something up but I don't know what.  Maybe expensive black cars with black windows.