Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Anger Management

Facebook has all sorts of neat quizzes that tell you what kind of ___ you are or how kind you are etc. I like doing them, realizing that I am somehow passing on important personal information that can be used to target me with advertising.  Mostly it seems to target me with interesting news items which are 2/3 of my FB news feed. Advertising is wasted on me as money is a requirement, I understand, if you wish to buy things.

Today there was a quiz about anger that my cousin in law had done that said she was pretty laid back which is the truth.  Not quite comatose (she is in Calgary and can't reach me to beat me) but not easily disturbed.

Can You Pass an Anger Management Test?

I, on the other hand,... according to the test, had moderate anger management issues.  I take pills for that or they would not be so moderate, trust me.  As one who has never suffered fools gladly, I find that there are fewer fools when I take pills.

But these days they do not seem to be working.  Reading the news and comments on Ukraine makes my blood boil.  Dealing with EU bureaucratese makes my blood boil.  Dealing with idiots who cannot follow simple written instructions makes my blood boil.

I am so grouchy I could put my teeth in backwards and bite myself in the throat.  Mostly I just want to crawl in a hole and pull the hole in after me.  Slept to 10:30 this morning and had a nap this afternoon.  And it is not even February.

But it is winter, such as it is.  +5C, constantly cloudy, constantly foggy, constantly muddy.  I wish it would get cold and snow.  But then I think about those poor pensioners in eastern Ukraine with no heat or light and our poor army guys some of whom are still without winter equipment though that is changing.

Christmas!  Bah! Humbug.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Herding Cats

Life is pretty routine at our house.  Highlights are garbage pick up day (Tuesdays) and water delivery day which is roughly every 8 days. (We get two 18 litre carbouys of drinking water delivered for $5.30 CAD).  Saturday we take a taxi to town for groceries. Round trip 14 km total fare $6 CAD.

We don't have children, though our granddaughters live in town and we visit often; every day by Skype.  So we have a dog and three cats to brighten our days.  We had two dogs but Bobik met an untimely end over a female, leaving Volk quite lonely.  Our cats Bonya and Tigritsa I have blogged about before.  Their brother Vovochka or Vovo (Vladimir) came to live with us permanently when Lina was working long hours.

They never met a door they were on the right side of, especially bathroom and front door.  Bonya can open the downstairs bathroom door if it isn't locked as the latch doesn't work.  He thinks if you are just sitting there doing nothing you should at least be petting him.  The door swings open on its own weight and leaves you rather exposed to the world especially should someone come in the front door which is opposite the bathroom door across the big entry way.

They go in and out the front door several times a day.  They come in to use the litter box.  I kid you not.  There is a heavy grape vine that winds its way to the upstairs balcony.  They learned to climb it as kittens and now, if we are not downstairs to let them in, they climb the vine and snap the plastic frame of the balcony screen door until we hear them.

Boyna likes to be petted and will climb on Tanya's lap sometimes when she is watching TV. He is a suck.  Vovo also likes to be petted but at night when we are sleeping.  He climbs on the bed and crawls between us to where he can bunt my hand with his head indicating "wake up and pet me".

Tigritsa only wants to be petted when I am at my computer.  She sits and looks longingly at me until I push the keyboard away to make room.  Then she jumps up for a face rub.  She licks my thumb so I wash her neck and top of her head, cat style - lick, rub, lick rub.  Then she flops over and goes to sleep with her head on my wrist.  I am allowed to use the mouse IF there are no sudden sweeping moves. Else she digs her claws into my arm to hold it.

Sleeping on the keyboard tray, head on my arm, back against my tummy
I never knew cats could have colds but all three of ours came down with something during the coldest weather when we had snow.  I was afraid it was distemper but the vet said not.  Bonya started it, trying to cough up a lung.  Our vet, who was out twice to see the cats, gave us an immuno-stimulator which we injected (sub-cu) every day for a few days.  Tigritsa had a mild case of it but Vovochka who was not at all sick at first got it really bad, more sneezing than coughing with runny nose and eyes.  They are finally over it.

Our vet, Andrei, is a wonderful man.  His office is that of a civil servant which means he is extremely poorly paid, charging only for medicines and travel.  Tanya pays him double and usually feeds him supper as he comes after work.

Yesterday, Boyna gave us a scare.  We have no idea what happened but he came downstairs dragging his back leg and meowing in pain.  We put him on our bed and even in his sleep he was crying and twitching his leg with the pain.  Touching it hurt him so much.  It seemed swollen.  Andrei came after work to check him out, thought it might be an infection from an earlier fight but couldn't find a break or anything.  Poor Andrei didn't get much of a supper as we had already eaten and there was no bread in the house to even make a sandwich.

Late in the evening, Bonya woke up, jumped off the bed, dragged his leg to the door and demanded to go out.  When Tanya refused he threw a giant hissy-fit, including trying to dump the pail of dry dog food. For that he got pitched into the back porch, bad leg and all.  This morning he favoured the leg a little bit but seemed fine otherwise.  He immediately went outside.

We have been having mild weather after our snow and cold.  It went to +5C and everything melted and everything is wet and muddy.  It even rained.  With three cats going in and out it is impossible to keep their feet clean when they come in the house.  There are muddy tracks everywhere and we just get a damp mop and follow them.  It is easier than trying to catch them at the door ten times a day.

If we don't let them out they get bored and start chasing and fighting each other.  Usually they chase Tigritsa.  If they don't she runs up to one, smacks it upside the head and runs for it.  Once Vovo and Bonya were wrestling and she jumped in and took a round out of Bonya when he was down.

Bonya and Tigritsa are long haired cats, Vovo is smooth haired.  The house if filled with clumps of hair, enough to start a new cat every time we vacuum or sweep.

Tonight we heard a banging on the front door.  It was Bonya wanting in.  Mud to the hocks and carrying a headless mouse.  The muddy floors, the cat hairs and the dead mouse had just about got to Tanya.  Not a good time for me to discover I had stepped in something when I went to feed Volk.

"Dog shit.  Cat shit.  This isn't a house.  It is a barn".

Friday, December 12, 2014

I will do this but first I have to do that.

Tanya is making Christmas (New Years) cards.  Masha is coming Saturday but Tanya couldn't wait.  She asked me to help her find pictures on line and print them to use as decorations on the cards.  Finding was the easy part.

I have a new printer, bought two months ago.  My third Canon in a row had the print head pack it in.  A new one costs as much as the printer and buying Canon ink cartridges which may make the print head last longer is a shortcut to the poorhouse.  So I bought an Epson L355 with large ink reservoirs filled from bottles which are not expensive. So far it has worked great.

Until I went to print on heavy photo stock, which was all I had other than ordinary paper.  This was double matte 250 g/m2 and it would not load.  My one remaining piece of lighter photo stock loaded and printed but not the heavier.

Go to the manual trouble shooting section: nothing.  OK, contact the company.  The L355 is a European model so the website refused to allow me to talk to Canada.  OK, UK. Go to Live Chat.  Nope, my Java is out of date.  Download and install new Java.  Windows 7 has updates waiting so I had to download and install them too.  By the time that was all complete, the UK office was closed so no Live Chat.  Send email.  BUT you have to have a UK address, so I gave them my daughter's in London.  Auto-response says we got it and are open tomorrow.

Today I got a link to their knowledge base which told me that for heavy stock one must use only Epson brand paper.  Link to their website.  Fifteen sheets of A4 photo stock is 11 Pounds Stirling. Which is roughly $20 CAD. NFW.

Catch 22.  Canon prints on anything but ink is like gold.  Epson ink is cheap but their paper is gold plated.  I will see what I can buy tomorrow in the way of lighter stock.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pictures from the Maidan and other things

We found some photos on Tanya's mobile that she had taken on Maidan February 18th when we were in Kyiv.  That was the day the final battle began that ended with Yanukovych and some of his mafioso fleeing the country.  We were in Kyiv applying for Tanya's visa to visit UK, and decided to go to Maidan to see for ourselves what it was like.  At that time, all the news was pretty much controlled by Yanukovych so it was suspect.

We found the Square pretty peaceful, with people coming and going about their business in and around the tent city and barricades.  There were lots of Ukrainian flags and EU flags as well as flags of various parties, including Right Sector and others of the right and left.  This was about noon or somewhat after.  there was smoke pouring into the sky up on the hill in front of the Rada or parliament building and we knew there was action there.  On the train home that night we we sat with a young man from Dnipro who had participated in the fight on the hill.  He was a young businessman who realized the only future for Ukraine was one without Yanukovych and without the layers of corruption.

We got home and turned on the TV to see the Maidan in flames and the Berkut attempting to storm the place but held back by gasoline bomb throwing protesters.  The authorities had closed off the Metro (subway) to prevent reinforcements coming in or people from fleeing.  Anyhow, a few of Tanya's pictures from early afternoon are at the end of this post.

Some links to interesting sites:

NEWS FLASH - this JUST in, a perfect example of Russian lies.

Russia says small military mission in east Ukraine at Kiev's request: RIA

Paul Gregory writes for Forbes and does a wonderfully funny job of describing the trolls and how they work.  Read the comments too as the trolls come out of the woodwork and illustrate his article beautifully.
Putin's New Weapon In The Ukraine Propaganda War: Internet Trolls is a great website dedicated to exposing the lies on Russian media of which there are no end. Just go to the site and hop around to see the kind of thing we are up against.  If you find one of the Stop Fake newscasts, it has English sub-titles.

This video is not well made but does pick out the high spots of Russian fakery.  Especially their use of photos from anywhere which they then claim to be of Ukraine.  Syria, Chechnya, Russia, anywhere but Ukraine and age of picture doesn't matter or if the person is still alive or died years ago.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Round and round and round it goes...Where it stops no one knows

The war goes on and the talking heads go on and on.

The ATO is now on the defensive only, fighting off attacks from the Russian backed, armed and supported terrorists.  The Cyborgs at the Donetsk airport are still holding out as is the salient at Debaltseve.  Every time a new Russian "Humanitarian convoy" enters Ukraine there is an increase in shelling and rocket fire from the Russian side as they now have more ammunition.  the trucks do not go back empty, they are loaded with the bodies of Russian soldiers that the Kremlin continues to deny are in Ukraine.  They all died in "exercises" near Rostov.

At least the anticipated invasion has not happened yet, though Russian troops and heavy armament continue to be rotated into Ukraine and strategically placed in areas which would certainly come under attack in an all out invasion.

The Russian economy is in the tank with the continuing drop in oil prices which are taking the ruble with it. The joke making the rounds is that Putin, oil and the ruble will all hit 63 in 2015.  Putin approved the next years budget which was written by Hans Christian Anderson Consulting from teh look of it.  $80 oil for starters.

Here is a better summary of the situation than I could write, already written:

Three posts by Paul Goble:

But a better question, Andrey Piontkovsky suggests, is whether Putin himself is ready to die for that northeastern Estonian city at the eastern edge of NATO and the European Union given that the leaders of the West now see him not as a strategic partner but as a strategic “problem” 

Is Putin Prepared to Die for Narva?

 All of these people had sought assistance from state agencies, assistance that they are entitled to under the law. And all had been refused. But rather than allow them to suffer, the Union for the Rebirth of Pskov Kray raised money by various activities, helped with renovations, and secured access to those who would never have had a chance otherwise.

Vadim Shtepa, who lives in Karelia and who supports Ukrainian efforts to defend their nation against Vladimir Putin’s aggression, reflects on this anniversary? “What can one say? The only thing is to wish our Ukrainian friends [in this new Winter War] to be no weaker than the Finns!”

Also if you have an hour, please listen to this presentation by Timothy Snyder on the history of and current situation in Ukraine as it applies across a much broader scope.  He is an excellent speaker and very knowledgeable historian.