Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Canada's Racist Past Continues to the Present


For more than a century, Canadians have been accustomed to reports of terrible housing conditions on reserves, unsafe drinking water, dismal educational outcomes and, at least in Western Canada, prison populations disproportionally stacked with aboriginal inmates. Aboriginal leaders and young people such as those who embraced the Idle No More movement have been calling for Canadians to fundamentally acknowledge the injustices and atrocities of the past and fix the problems that keep indigenous Canadians from living the same quality of life as their non-aboriginal neighbours.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Love and Marriage: Part Three

Spoke with my son on Skype this morning and he told me this story.  It is apparently true but I have not bothered to find links to it.

A woman disappeared over 50 years ago (from BC?).  Her husband was suspected of murdering her and the cops dug up the yard looking fro her body.  No evidence of anything was found and he was never charged but when he died in the 90s, the cloud of suspicion hung over him still.

The woman has been found, alive and well, remarried and living in the Yukon.  She had simply left and never told anyone she was leaving or where she was going.

The reason her husband was suspected of murdering her?  He never reported her missing to the police for over four years.

Visiting Dasha on a Rainy Afternoon

Masha, Tanya, the two kittens and I sat on the front landing for over an hour watching the rain.  It was the second good rain we have had this summer and the air was cool and fresh.  A swallow sat on a wire overhead enjoying the impromptu shower, ruffling her feathers and preening herself.

The flies were very annoying.  Tanya said they like me because I am warm.  I thought it was because I smelled like something they could lay eggs on.

The kittens moved from lap to lap, watching the rain and listening to the thunder for a while, then climbed on my tummy and went to sleep.  Bonya was more or less vertical with his chin on my shoulder and Tigritsa horizontal on my arm with her chin on her brother.  Holding still is only fun for so long but they were quite good about me putting them down.

We think we lost another neighbour; the funeral bus from Lina's company went by filled with people, headed down our street.  Big Victor told Tanya this spring he had cancer and we had not seen him for a while.  Working in the mines claims another victim and our street has another old widow.

We decided to take Masha home (she was here for the night) and go visit Dasha.  Tomorrow is our last day home for a while and I had not seen Dasha for almost a month.  She is growing and very active, waving arms, kicking feet and clenching and unclenching her fingers and toes.  She will be three months on July 25th and weighs about 5.8 kg (12 lbs, 12 oz.).  She smiled and cooed as long as we didn't try to pick her up.  Then suddenly she got tired and it was nap time.  Tania bundled her tight, rolled her on her side and she went to sleep

Our little Dasha
 Tomorrow night I catch the Monday 1:00 am train to Kyiv and a 10:00 flight to Athens.  I will be there two weeks on a project. I got my documents the other day including one for a car rental.  Heart attack time.  I am supposed to drive from the airport in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece across Chalkidiki peninsula??  And read Greek road signs??  I emailed that I hoped they had good insurance and learned that no, the translator would meet me in at the airport and do the driving.  OK, I can breath now...

Monday morning, Andrei will drive Tania, Lina and Masha to Kyrylivka south of Melitopol on the Azov Sea for 9 days.  The sea is relatively shallow, warm and beaches are sandy.  Great for kids.

Tanya and I are going back to Greece in Sept for two weeks and friends from Saskatchewan are joining us.  We will be staying in Athens and looking forward to exploring a new country. Tanya thinks we should rent a car...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Love and Marriage; Part Two

Too much truth in this story.

There was a group of women at a seminar on how to live in a loving relationship with your husband.
The women were asked, "How many of you love your husbands?" 
All the women raised their hands. 
Then they were asked, "When was the last time you told your husband you loved him?"
Some women answered today, some yesterday, some didn't remember. 
The women were then told to take their phones and send the following text: "I love you, sweetheart." 
Then the women were told to exchange phones and read the responding text messages. 

Here are some of the replies:
1. Who is this?
2. Eh, mother of my children, are you sick?
3. I love you too.
4. What now? Did you crash the car again?
5. I don't understand what you mean?
6. What did you do now?
7. ?!?
8. Don't beat about the bush, just tell me how much you need?
9. Am I dreaming?
10. If you don't tell me who this message is actually for, someone will die.
11. I thought we agreed we would not drink during the day.
12. Your mother is coming to stay, isn't she??

Monday, July 15, 2013

Software things NOT to do: Delta Search

Some days, I am dumber than two sacks of hammers.  Today being one of those days.  Being a sucker for freeware I clicked on something I shouldn't have ought to clicked on.  Downloaded it and installed it to see what it did.  It was a PDF manager or some useless thing.

Actually I was trying to download a PDF file from a site that said I needed this first.  I trust everybody and when Winnie Mandela emails or Skypes me to help her get $47 million safely out of South Africa I am going to help her.

The program didn't amount to anything so I quickly uninstalled it but when I went to Google Chrome I found myself taken over by Delta Search which had been packaged with it.  I am too quick on the "next" button and don't read the fine print in the software licence agreement.  Or even read it at all. The Software Licence Agreement and The Bible have in common that people really don't read it, they just scroll to the bottom and click "I accept".

Delta Search is a phoney search engine that brings up fake results, directing you to websites you do not wish to visit so they can sell you something you do not wish to buy.  I went to Google Desktop (yes, I still use it) and used it to search the internet.

Learned a few more things there too.  

Do all the usual on Chrome first:

  • Go to Customize and Control, 
  • First, Tools, Extensions and remove anything that looks like Delta search - it may have other names.
  • Then Settings, On Startup Open specific pages - open and delete Delta anything
  • Also on Settings, Appearance Show Home Button change - delete anything Delta
  • Also on Settings, Search - reset default then open Manage Search Engines and delete anything that looks like Delta.
  • Close and reopen Chrome.  You MAY have solved your problem...or not.

If not:
Download adwcleaner and run it (Search then Delete), then run Malware Bytes Anti-Malware which you can get for free and should have on your computer anyhow. I have the Pro version which costs but has saved me many times.

That should solve your problem BUT be careful.  If you Google "uninstall Delta Search", some of the sites that will come up are also fakes and while they will tell you the above they will then suggest downloading and running something like SpyHunter or SpyWare Doctor which will "identify" all sorts of stuff on your computer and make you buy it to get rid of it.  I read several different pages of instructions before I did anything and lucked out because two of the first links I opened were fakes promoting the two Spy programs.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

In Praise of a Good Product

Disclaimer:  No one is paying me for this though they certainly ought to!

I have a consulting project in Greece, much of which will be done online or by pouring through documents provided by the client or others.  Most of these documents are in Greek, which as William Shakespeare noted, are Greek to me.

Translation is a big problem.  If I have no idea what the document says, I do not know if it is important enough to have it translated, so I need something quick and dirty.  Google Translate works well enough to get the gist of it, though of course agricultural terms are not well translated in many (most) cases.  And it does some languages better than others.

Working with Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish or German documents has not been a problem to date.  Whether the document was in Word, Excel or PDF format, normally, I could cut and paste enough into Google Translate. But it would not work for Greek, pasting from a PDF into GT or into Word.  Some letters came out as little boxes other letters were misread and replaced with a wrong letter, sometimes from another alphabet.  I had all the right fonts but...  Panic.

Kostas and Chrisa are the two people the client has assigned to work with me and emails have been going back and forth since July 1. Three days ago, Chrisa suggested ABBYY FineReader.  What a life saver!

I have used other OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software in the past but  nothing that worked on other than English.  FineReader works in 24 languages and it LOVES Greek.  I can load an 18 page Greek PDF document and in a couple of minutes I have a perfect replica Word Document, complete with pictures, tables, everything. Load that into Google Translate and ipso-presto, it is fully translated for a quick read (but needs a great deal of formatting cleanup to be passable as a document).

Interface Languages
Sometimes a PDF is not created in scannable format or the information might be in image format. No problem. FineReader just read a photo I took in 2007 of a descriptive sign at a 15th century castle in Crimea.  The sign was in Russian but in a minute I had a reasonable English translation.  Good for labeling pictures of the castle to put on-line.  (Someday).

I knew about ABBYY long ago but didn't know they were into OCR.  To me they are Dictionaries.  I have a Russian-Ukrainian-English digital dictionary I bought in 2008 but they have been around for much longer than that and have many languages in some of their dictionaries.

FineReader is an excellent purchase if you do any amount of document scanning and need it in clear clean type face, whether to read in Google Translate or simply to save as  a document.  It works great!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Divide and Conquer: The History of White Privilege.

This is a superb 10 minute presentation of how our skin colour got to be more important than our economic situation.

Guest post: And then its head popped off

Post authored by my daughter May-B once writer of Buggering Crap Monkies

I often come upon adventure when I take my dog, Monty, for a walk.  You would think we would avoid getting into trouble on one of the three routes we take daily, but more often than not, that isn't the case.  There was the time a pack of dogs left their yard and circled Monty doing nothing to him while he screamed as though being murdered.  There was the time he chased a small car into a snow bank and then looked back to me as though he had caught me a great prize.  He weighs 18 lbs, but he gets me into more trouble than most full grown people I know.

But I digress.  This tale is not about Monty, although he was present, it's about another animal. A bird.

A bird I had to kill.

Monty and I were on our walk, minding our own business (as we do), when a City truck drove by.  I thought nothing of it and carried on my way until the truck slammed on his brakes and swerved to the side.  I turned to look and saw a small bird lay on the road.  The two had obviously collided leaving a clear winner.

A middle aged man stepped out of the truck with panic on his face.  He looked like a 70s hippy throw-back with long silver hair and handlebar mustache.  He warily approached the bird and explained he had tried to avoid her, but the bird had swooped right into his tires. 

She was a small robin with a mottled brown chest and a badly damaged lower half.  She breathed heavily, gasping for air, as she lay dying in front of us.  The city worker's eyes began to mist and a single tear rolled down his cheek as he offered to take her to the Humane Society for help.  I assured him it was too late for that.  She was in her last moments. 

The man was overwrought and stood dumbfounded at the little life ending in front of him.  He looked to me for guidance and I found myself offering to take care of her.  To end her suffering so as to end his.  He agreed to hold Monty's leash (thank God the dog had not decided to be brave and eat the poor bird.  I think that would have been the end of the man altogether.)

I had two waste bags in my pocket for the dog and used them because I'd always been told birds carry disease.  I contemplated the fact I had no idea if this was true, but I wasn't taking the chance.  I draped one bag over her body and one over her head.  I picked her up gently and decided the most humane thing was to break her neck.

Being a city girl, I have never done this before. I assumed it would be simple.

I gently twisted.  And twisted.  And twisted.  The bird's head just kept turning while she just kept living. 

I started to panic. Not only was I not helping to end the bird's suffering, I was just torturing the poor thing.  

I was about to give up when I pulled out instead of twisted.

POP! The head came clear off the bird. 

I quickly put the bags back together so the tormented man wouldn't see the mess I made and ran to the garbage bin a block away to disperse of the corpse I had mutilated.  I returned, assured the man it all went well and was not his fault, and walked as fast as I could away from the dump site.

I immediately messaged my sisters to tell them of the horror.  They assured me I was a hero, despite the decapitation.

Next up, chickens.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Once Parted, Now Departed

Went for a haircut today.  While not ready for a comb-over by any stretch, I have to admit, I have not seen a stand that thin since the Drought of '61.

I have the same amount of hair but when you get old it grows out of your nose and ears. As Jeff Foxworthy (or possibly Dave Barry?) noted, "Pull on a nose hair and you can watch a guy's hairline recede".

Yulia has been cutting my hair for over 6 years.  She is a very nice lady and I quite like her.  She is closer to 60 than 50, barely able to see over the top of my head when I am sitting in her chair, but VERY meticulous. I tell her "Kak vsigda" (like always) and end up with a perfectly coiffed Yanukovych haircut.  It could be worse, I suppose; a Donald Trump haircut.

The hair salon is located on the second floor of an older Soviet style strip mall called Devyatka (9), anchored by a grocery store where we sometimes shop.  I think it must be a cooperative of some kind as there doesn't appear to be an owner per se.  There are private beauty salons, as Tanya has had manicures/pedicures from two of them but you can always tell who is the owner/boss.

There is a partition down the middle with five work stations on each side.  One side is men's haircuts, the other, women's. My Tanya's hairdresser, another Tanya, is on the end, just around the corner from Yulia so the three of them can converse while we are getting our haircuts and Tanya can approve Yulia's handiwork

Last time I got a haircut in Canada, it was $25 plus a $5 tip.  And a good haircut it was, too. Yulia charges me $5 (40 UAH) so I give her a $5 tip too.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Elections Do Not Make Democracy

Excerpted from the article of the same name in The Globalist.

"Free and fair elections are a necessary, but not sufficient condition of democracy.

  • First, a society must have in place or intend to build institutions that allow its citizens on a daily basis to participate in all aspects of the political process.
  • Second, a democratic society must guarantee that all people are equal before the law. That, in turn, demands an independent and apolitical judiciary.
  • Third, a true democracy acknowledges and respects all cultural, ethnic or religious differences that may exist within its borders.
  • Fourth, freedom of opinion without fearing repercussions from those who have been elected is also critical.

Of course, there is also the true purpose of government, i.e. to do its best to sustainably, responsibly and transparently serve the people in an effort to improve their standards of living in an equitable manner.

In other words, holding elections in a democratic void can easily lead to outcomes that might in the end undermine the goal of achieving democracy itself".

If those who wish to increase democracy in the world would concentrate on those issues instead of elections, democracy might stand a chance.  There are a lot of countries where voting takes place but there is no democracy.  Even the USSR had elections.

And simply winning a majority does not give licence to do as one pleases until the next election (Canada's Harper notwithstanding).  Nor does "one MAN, one vote, once", the so-called Islamist democracy take the wishes and needs of the people into account.

Democracy, government of, by and for, requires that the people participate.  Things get done by those who show up and if "the People" don't "show up", are happy to be ignorant, ill-informed, mis-informed or down right lied to, then the government will serve other than the people.

Religion makes it even worse. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Computer Cat Works for NSA

This was not the post I intended to write today, nor do I want to turn this into a cat blog,

At night if I can't sleep, I will sometimes go upstairs and sit at the computer for an hour or two.  Tigritsa will often come upstairs looking for me and either watch me play cards or walk on the keyboard till I pick her up and hold her.

Hacker spy cat
Last night I guess Tigritsa couldn't sleep.  At about 4:00 am. Tanya woke me out a dead sleep because my computer was making very strange sounds and she could hear voices speaking English. I went upstairs and found Tigritsa on my keyboard having a great time.

The screen was a mess of open dialogue boxes "Are you sure you want to delete this folder?" and open programs including Windows Explorer, hence the voices from a video.  Everything on the screen was distorted. Took awhile to regain control and close it down completely.

Outlook, Chrome and Skype had been all shut down before I went to bed as I was running a backup to my external HD.  Thankfully that was finished before the cat got in the act.  If things have been deleted, I haven't noticed yet.

What I did notice was software installed that I didn't recall, asking me to register and backup my computer for free.  When I tried to uninstall it, my anti-spyware went ballistic.  Spent the morning cleaning up my HD of unwanted trojans and cookies.

I wish she would just eat the butter on the table at night like her brother.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kitten Kuteness Kontinues

Cutsie titles like that make me want to stick my fingers down my throat.  I only did it in case there are others like me out there and I could annoy them.

The kittens are now 17 weeks old and still give us lots of smiles.  They have stopped sleeping on our feet and now sleep on top of the wardrobe, at least until they get cold.

It was pouring rain this morning but they wanted to go outside until they were outside then they didn't.  We were upstairs on the computers so they climbed the grapevine to the balcony and two very wet and bedraggled kitties meowed at the balcony screen door to be let in.  We took pity on them.

Several weeks ago, I bought them little ping pong ball cat toys with rattles inside which they played with until they lost them all. so I bought them little soft sponge golf ball toys.  They love these and only yesterday did they finally disappear though they will likely turn up.

Tigritsa claimed the yellow one as hers and Bonya was left with the pink one.  She would growl ferociously when she was worrying it.  She walked past my chair carrying it and I reached down and touched her so she growled at me too.  She carried it around with her for days, took it outside, brought it to bed and all.

The other morning I found the yellow ball in the dry food dish and the pink ball in the canned food dish. They had put their toys away when they were done with them. Didn't get a picture and they didn't do it again.

Sunday, Vladik and I were sitting on one couch and Raia and Tanya on the other, visiting.  Vladik had been petting the kittens earlier but they got bored and left.  Then they decided they needed a nap and came back, and without so much as a by-your-leave, hopped up on his lap, curled up and went to sleep.  Raia does not like cats so I told Vladik he could come and play with the kittens anytime he wanted. That got a chuckle from him.

Side story about their five-year-old granddaughter, Sonja.  Her parents are renovating their flat so they sent Sonja to visit them for two weeks.  Then she went to Azov Sea with her other grandmother.  Raia said she slept for three days.  Vladik had taken Sonja to buy new shoes.  When they got home she said to her grandfather, "You know, I don't think I have a simple dress to wear with these new shoes".  They learn fast.

Being good for a change.

So you want a Christian government?

Juan Cole: How Egypt’s Michele Bachmann Became President and Plunged the Country Into Chaos - Juan Cole's Columns - Truthdig

Monday, July 1, 2013

Remembering Roman

Today, July 1, is the six month anniversary of Roman's death. Yesterday we had a family dinner in remembrance.  Tanya and Lina cooked everything up on Saturday night so it was just a matter of finishing Sunday morning.

The two of them got up early and went up to the cemetery, put fresh flowers on the grave and pulled weeds and grass around.  At 12:00 we sat down to dinner.  Tanya and I, Lina, Raia and Vladik (Roman's aunt and uncle), Andrei, Tania, Masha and Dasha too.  I was so happy that Andrei and family came as it was the first time they had been to our home since Roman died.

Dasha was good as could be; mostly she ate and slept but when she was awake she was all smiles and waving arms and legs.  I did have to smile as she is at just over two months the same weight as my son was at birth (4.65 kg, 10.25 lbs) but she is growing like a weed.  Her mother keeps her well fed.

It was a hard day for Lina and for Andrei, too.  They spent a lot of time together and walked up to the cemetery by themselves for an hour.  I was glad of that.

The only thing that could have made the day more perfect would have been if Roman could have been there.