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Cllr Tiernan took umbrage at the remarks of his colleague and called for them to be withdrawn.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.