Sunday, October 30, 2022

Murphy's Horseshoes

 Murphy's Law states simply that if anything can go wrong it will. Anyone with life experience knows that Murphy was an optimist. Further adventures enroute to home demonstrate this truth.

Did not sleep the night before nor that night, Up at 2 am, at the Regina airport by 3 am. No problems getting my boarding pass and a seat in an exit row. Arrived in Toronto where I had an enjoyable 7 hour wait for KLM to Amsterdam. More on that later. 

Toronto to Amsterdam was 7 hours. Felt like forever. Longest flight I've ever been on was Beijing Vancouver 11 hours. I'm getting old. No internet so actually finished two books. Arrived Amsterdam for a 4 hour layover to fly to Warsaw. Went through passport control to enter EU and found my gate C15. Sat to wait. Got a text that the gate was changed to C5. Went to new gate to wait.  15 minutes later I was paged to the desk. Reached for my passport and boarding pass as that is what they usually want and found them gone. No panic as I knew where they would be, on the bench at C15. Except someone had found them and turned them in to the desk at C5. Horseshoes, I tell you.

Arrived Warsaw at 11am, and my checked suitcase was missing. Failed to make the transfer in Toronto. I hate that airport. They only had 7 hours and still screwed it up. Took 15 minutes to register at lost baggage. They have it down to a fine art. Masha's highschool friend David met me at the airport. My bus to L'viv left at 7 pm. I was so tired I was incoherent. 

David found a hostel in Old Warsaw called Oki Doki. Crashed for a few hours as I could finally sleep. Caught the bus and had good wi-fi to the Polish border. Tanya spent 10 hours waiting to cross the border in August so she told me to message her when we were through the border and she would buy my train ticket from L'viv to P'yatikhatki based on my arrival in L'viv. Took 45 minutes to cross both Polish and Ukrainian border. Part horseshoes and part Murphy's Law as there was no wi-fi in Ukraine so I could not contact Tanya. 

The bus stopped at the L'viv train station and I had wi-fi again. Apparently Sasktel does not connect to European mobile networks so using my data pack under roaming conditions does not work. Murphy again. I messaged Tanya and she sent me a train ticket within minutes. This country is in a war for its very survival and everything works like normal in many places. Certainly not at the front or in the occupied communities. With Russia targeting electrical production and distribution infrastructure, systems will not work like normal in many places now I expect. 

I had 6 hours to wait for my train so signed into the lounge where it was comfortable. "Where are you from?" "Canada". "(thumbs up) Trudeau!!". No wi-fi on the train so slept 18 hours. Arrived home at 6:30 am Monday 26. Showered, ate, slept. Lost a day somewhere as Friday came and I thought it was Thursday.

Got an email Tuesday saying my suitcase was in Warsaw via Paris. David will pick it up when he gets back to Warsaw on 31st. He will hold it until we get there with Lucky. 

It was good to see Tanya after three months of being alone, and Lucky was very glad to see me after 8 months. He gives hugs but no kisses. He hates kisses. If I hold his head and kiss his nose, he will give a little flick of his tongue in response. We took him for a walk yesterday and will again today.

Lucky was excited to see me but no kisses. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Horseshoes,...Hand Grenades, and Slow Dancing

 If horseshoes bring good luck, then I would seem to have several. I know where they are, because I walk funny.

I was supposed to fly to Warsaw Oct 20th. My flight left at 05:15. For some unknown reason I read that at pm not am, though I know better. It just stuck in my head that the flight left at 5 pm. I went to the airport and learned I was 12 hours late. Called KLM in a panic and a female voice told me that the next available flight was Oct 22 and it would cost $3400 CAD. Went home and called KLM again. Male voice told me that in fact the Oct 20th am flight had been cancelled and rebooked me on the Oct 22nd flight at no charge. I sent him cyber hugs. Horseshoe number 1.

Called Tanya who was less than pleased but thank God it wasn't my fault. She contacted the young man in Warsaw who was to meet me and rebooked him for Sunday. Called the bus line in Warsaw and explained the problem. They said use the old ticket since it was not my fault. The train ticket from L'viv to home only refunded 30%. Standard procedure.

Two weeks ago we had our apartment block sprayed for cockroaches. We had to empty all cupboards, closets etc. and pile it in the middle of the room so they could spray the baseboards and where ever else. They were to come back today and do a second round. Our building manager's understanding from them was that the only needed the bottom of the cupboards, closets and and baseboards clear. And I thought they would come again at 10 am as last time. 

I was getting ready to leave by 10 when they knocked on the door at 9 am. No one was ready because they had NOT told the building manager it was the same deal as last time...all cupboards and closets empty etc. They are going to come back next Friday. So I spent the day emptying everything out of cupboards and closets again. If I had caught my plane or even if I had left before 9 to come back late in the afternoon, I would not have had time to do this. Horseshoe number 2.

I hope the horseshoes hold out and the flight tomorrow is not cancelled. Toronto is noted for that. 

Monday, October 10, 2022

Revenge and several other things

 A well timed explosion (rocket? NOT a truck bomb) on Putin's birthday knocked out a section of the Kursk vehicle traffic bridge and set fire to a train of highly flammable tank cars damaging a section of track and essentially stopping rail traffic. Vehicular traffic is down to one lane. Supplies to the southern and western fronts are limited to rail and highway from Russia across Zaporizhzhia to Kherson and Crimea. All within range of AFU artillery and HIMAR rockets. 

Revenge was not long in coming. All day on the 10th, dozens high power cruise missiles, rockets and bombs were deployed against civilian targets in every major city in Ukraine with devastating results. Kyiv was attacked for the first time in months. Reports of numbers of dead and wounder are still coming in as I write. 

Locations of Russian strikes on Ukrainian cities

In 10 days I will be headed to Ukraine to bring Tanya and Lucky back to Canada. Once I get to Warsaw, the question remains how to get home. I would normally have taken the train from Warsaw to Kyiv but I expect the main railway station in Kyiv will soon come under missile attack. The alternative is bus which is a two day trip most likely. Wish me luck. I will be happy to see both my wife and Lucky again. Tigritsa will be glad to see me as every time she hears my voice on WhatsApp talking to Tanya she comes looking for me, meowing, but cannot figure out the phone.

My good boy

In the meantime I am on my way to visit my grandson. He is two months and a week old and has had his two month vaccination. He is 14 lbs and 24 inches long, starting to make sounds in response to being spoken to. Likes Country music. And loves his brother and sister. 

My best good boy Grayden

Mutual admiration society

I'll be home next Sunday and will see your comments then as I can't approve them on my phone app. My apologies for not following my go-to blog posts as it has been a bit wild with the goings on in Ukraine. Our apartment block was sprayed for cockroaches on Friday so I spent days emptying all cupboards and closets and moving everything away from walls. Saturday and yesterday was spent putting most everything back. They will come again in two weeks but only do bottom cupboards and baseboards. My nephew in California was getting his house sprayed for cockroaches the same day. 

I will take my computer with me when I go to Ukraine as I cannot do everything on my phone. 
What a world we live in. Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers. 

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Dogs of War

The savagery of Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilians is heart wrenching and that is not a strong enough word. Their military is being beaten back rapidly or continuously blocked in the one area they continue to attack. So they take revenge on the civilian population in the occupied communities, by shelling villages all along the front or by rocket and bomb attacks on cities. 

You may have seen pictures on the news of atrocities committed in Bucha which was occupied just a short time early in the war, or from Izium which was liberated not long ago and now there will be more from Lyman which was liberated yesterday. And every other liberated community. Torture rooms in every one of them.

Or pictures of a little girl pushing her doll carriage and another 30 minutes later of her broken body lying dead after a rocket attack on a medical centre in western Ukraine. Or of a little boy putting a can of beans on his grandmother's grave after she starved to death. Or of parents mourning their dead children or children mourning their dead parents from artillery, bomb and rocket attacks. 

Tanya says she can hear the overhead activity every night as Krivii Rih comes under constant attack. And Dnipro City day or night. No one knows when or where the next rocket will hit. There are more dead and wounded every day. 

All of that I have been able to take, grief without tears. But I broke down and wept for the dogs who have lost their loved ones and mourn for them, not understanding why their people have been taken from them. The dog in Izium who found his master's grave and lay on it crying. The dog whose master was killed in a bomb attack and lay with his head on the man's feet not knowing what to do. But mostly the old dog, blinded and deafened by the bomb attack which killed his entire family, grandmother, mother and two children, who sat on the rubble and cried all night. They brought the war close to me as nothing else could.

I can fill the blog with pictures of death and devastation. War is a terrible thing. As Hawkeye said in M.A.S.H, "War is not hell, hell is hell, war is war". People in hell deserve to be there. People who suffer in war are by and large innocent.

A convoy of 6 cars riddled with bullet holes and burned to a crisp.
25 to 30 killed, half of them children

Crater from a rocket attack in Dnipro City. Just missed the bus depot

Weeping over the dead

People huddled in bomb shelters, sometimes for months

So what is the end game? For Ukraine, at a minimum it is driving every Russian out of Ukrainian territory followed by the removal of Putin and ideally the demilitarization and denazification of Russia. Russia must lose the same way Germany lost and be forced to face their past which they have never done. Otherwise a stab in the back mentality will arise and we know how that ends. Russia will continue to attack Ukraine with bombs and rockets from inside the Russian border and will eventually launch a full scale war against Ukraine in 10 years.

What is Biden's end game? Simple replacement of Putin appears to be Biden's objective not based on what he says but what he does. After the first Iraqi war, USA wanted a replacement for Hussain and encouraged a revolt BUT they only wanted him replaced internally with an easier to manage dictator from the Baath Party. When the Shia and Kurds rose up, they were abandoned and suffered greatly for it. America had no end game whatsoever after the second Iraqi war and the world is going to pay for that for a long time yet. 

Russia was and remains an empire with all power concentrated in Muscovy which includes St Petersburg. All other parts are treated as colonies with their wealth flowing to Moscow. When Putin is removed, one possibility is a struggle for power between the elites of the military, the FSB/GRU, the oligarchy, and the siloviki. That will end, either in making Russia a true federation or more likely with each territory becoming independent and then forming their own links with each other.