Sunday, January 29, 2023

Random Musings on a Cold Sunny Sunday

 Ukraine got its tanks. Finally. Over 300 main battle tanks (MBT) have been promised to Ukraine. Many of them Leopard II which will take Ukrainian tank crews about a week to master Whether they get enough of them in time, master the training, and establish the logistics to launch their long anticipated counter offensive before the Russians launch their offensive is the question. Negotiations are fast tracked for F16s and other fighters as well as long range ATACMS missiles which will complete the AFU strike capability. While the Russians keep hammering at Bakhmut with the regular army reportedly taking over for the wiped up Wagner Group, Ukraine keeps inching towards Kreminna in Luhansk to fully cut supply lines from the northeast. Ukraine continues to attack along the Zaporizhzhia front, hitting the usual high value sites with HIMARS and artillery, while Russia launches missiles and drones against civilian targets. 

I will not comment too much on Canadian politics other than to say the 4 conservative governments in AB, SK, MB and ON are doing their utmost to destroy publicly funded education, health care, and social services. The intent is to privatize them to the greatest extent possible to the benefit of their wealthy friends and donors. Ford was elected in Ontario because no one came out to vote. Alberta has an alternative with experience in Notley's NDP, waiting for an election to be called, Why Moe is popular in Saskatchewan is beyond me but he may well win the next election too. 

My grandson, Grayden, will be 6 months old on Feb 3rd. At least with social media I can keep up with him even if I cant actually hold him. He sits by himself and is eating real food, stuffs his bare feet into his mouth. Has not quite mastered rolling over. He is the smilingest kid ever. Hard to catch him without a smile. 

Morning smiles

Look what I found

A dear friend of ours celebrated her 99th birthday this afternoon. We had planned to go but our landlord was supposed to come by to fix a cabinet drawer in our kitchen. We told our friend we would come to her 100th party instead. I'm sure she will be there.

And we are still waiting for the repair people. I'd fix it myself but cannot figure out how to release the drawer from the glides. There is a fancy apparatus at the far end of the glide but I don't want to break it by forcing it. I do not fit well in the cupboard space under the drawer. Emailed the manufacturer but of course have heard nothing back. I never understand why they even have email for general inquiries as they are consistently ignored.

The end of the drawer glide.

Our back door does not open into our back yard, so we had to take Lucky out on a leash and then shut the gate and let him go. I built a moveable fence across the walk so now he can run out when he wants. Except of course he wants us to go out with him to keep him company. He will run to the front and bark at people, then run to the back and bark just because. Best if someone is on the street and in the alley at the same time. He races back and forth. Sometimes he even remembers why he is out there and does his business. When he wants outside he will bring a stuffed toy to take with him, which he usually forgets. A dog training video I saw said all dogs have ADHD. The need a job to keep focused. If you don't give them one, they will make their own. Lucky's job is to bark at every sound and movement, lunge at big vehicles and people. He never bites. And when we get visitors, he will settle down and accept them. If we aren't around he will be the friendliest dog you ever saw.

The front fence/gate

Back gate

Tanya is using my older Dell computer with Windows 10. She works in Russian language which a friend switched it to last spring; I work in English. She showed me how to switch languages back and forth and I spent two days cleaning it up for her. Uninstalled Malware Bytes which speeded it up a great deal. I used it for years and thought it was good. Apparently not. I installed something with the dumb name of Restoro ( which I have been using to keep my computer clean and operating at capacity. It works quite well. Takes about 30 minutes to do a clean up and then a reboot to finish the job by deleting all the garbage. It took about 6 hours to reboot and works like a dream. Will reboot now in about 2 minutes.

Tomorrow cold or not, I have to walk Lucky. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Thoughts on the Russian War Against Ukraine

 Information comes So rapidly, it is hard to keep up and have even a semi-informed opinion.

Steve Schmidt from The Warning wrote this today:

The war in Ukraine is an illegal war. It is a war of criminal aggression by a larger and more powerful nation, Russia, and a smaller nation, Ukraine. The Russian army has committed countless war crimes and acts of brutality against peaceful people as they raped, murdered, tortured, and pilfered. The Russians have emptied their prisons and drafted hundreds of thousands of young men to fight in Putin’s war of conquest against a European nation in the third decade of the 21st century. . .

The Russian army has been bloodied and humiliated by the Ukrainian army, but they have not been defeated. The Russian army is gathering, expanding, and attacking. It is indifferent to human life and suffering. 

The question at hand is this: how can that Russian army be destroyed in Ukraine before it advances into the next country? This is the fundamental question, and the most important issue facing the world right now. Should the battle lines expand beyond Ukraine, and converge with one or two other conflicts, the world could be at the edge of a third world war where nine countries have nuclear weapons. It means the doomsday clock would stand at one second to midnight. 

Allied tactics have been to trickle arms into Ukraine, after the fact, to keep Ukraine from losing, but not cause the Russians to escalate the war drawing in NATO forces. This has worked at great cost to Ukraine. Ukraine has been pleading for better anti-missile and anti-aircraft weapons. The Kh-22 ballistic missile with a 900 kg warhead, which destroyed an apartment block in Dnipro, killing more than 45 people and injuring more than 80, is an old Soviet anti-aircraft carrier missile against which Ukraine has no defense. They have been used before but finally Ukraine will get Patriot missiles capable of knocking them down. 

The big argument is it takes time to train people. Bulltweety. The war is 2 days short of 11 months old. There has been lots of time. Since the beginning and even before the war, AFU soldiers are being trained in combat by Canadians, British, Americans and other allies. Ukrainian pilots are now being trained in flying F16s and America has no objection to allies sending their F16s to Ukraine. Combined with A10 Warthogs, they make a formidable team. But the excuse about Warthogs is that unless you have complete control of the skies, they are slow and vulnerable. 

Russia is afraid to fly their planes into Ukrainian airspace because the get shot down. But Ukraine is not given the means to hit the bases in Russia to destroy their fighters and bombers. Ukraine is developing its own long range drones so the Russians can't blame NATO for that. And apparently they may be getting American missiles that can hit deep in Crimea, 250 miles to 350 miles range, but can't use them to hit inside Russia.

Lucian Truscott IV wrote this in his substack column

The U.S. does not literally have boots on the ground in Ukraine, but it’s got pretty much everything else on the ground there, from MRAP mine-resistant armored personnel carriers to 155mm howitzers to Avenger radar-controlled air defense systems to Javelin anti-tank weapons to Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to HIMARS rocket systems to Humvees and personal-protection equipment such as helmets, bulletproof vests, boots and winter uniforms. . . 

The CIA and NSA can see everything Russia does in Ukraine from satellites. They know where every Russian battalion group is located, what its unit designation is and most likely the name of the Russian battalion commander. They can see every movement of every Russian tank, armored personnel carrier, and resupply truck, and see what is loaded on every flatbed railroad car headed from Russia into eastern Ukraine.

The Americans share all military transfers to Ukraine and all intelligence about Russia in plain view of Putin, letting him know that they are solidly on side with Ukraine. And they have recently approved 2.5 billion in future aid.  in Comments is Freed "Proxies and Puppets" writes 

On Thursday, nine of Ukraine’s more robust supporters, including the UK, announced a raft of new measures with lots of ammunition, training and anti-aircraft guns, as well as 600 Brimstone missiles from the UK, 19 French-made Caesar howitzers from Denmark, and Sweden’s Archer artillery system. . .

 ‘We recognise that equipping Ukraine to push Russia out of its territory is as important as equipping them to defend what they already have. Together we will continue supporting Ukraine to move from resisting to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil. By bringing together Allies and partners, we are ensuring the surge of global military support is as strategic and coordinated as possible. The new level of required combat power is only achieved by combinations of main battle tank squadrons, beneath air and missile defence, operating alongside divisional artillery groups, and further deep precision fires enabling targeting of Russian logistics and command nodes in occupied territory.’

 Aye, there's the rub. Ukraine needs 300 Main Battle Tanks to mount a credible offense while at the same tile Russia is building up for their own offensive assault in spring or sooner. But they can't get them. There are all kinds of Leopard II MBTs available and countries that will give them but they cannot without German permission. Which is consistently refused. Germany, which is the third largest contributor of Military aid to Ukraine behind America and Britain, will not give permission for transfer of Leopard II MBTs. F

Scholtz said other countries have to go first, so Britain is supplying a battalion of their MBTs, Challenger II. Then Scholtz moved the goal posts and said America has to give Abram tanks first. America is not about to send Abrams tanks because as Lucian Truscott IV points out: 

U.S. reluctance to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine stems from a number of reasons. These are the most highly advanced armored vehicles in the world. They are basically an armored interface with the electronic battlefield mounted on tracks:  Everything on board is connected to satellite guidance and intelligence systems with computerized targeting, all defended by complicated high-tech armor and attack-avoidance devices. Training in the combat use of the Abrams takes months, but that’s not the only issue. Everything on the Abrams is in danger of breaking down and the whole apparatus needs constant maintenance, much of which can only be done by specialized civilian technicians

Not going to happen in a hot war zone. Though to be honest I wish Biden would call Sholtz's bluff and send a dozen over even if they aren't put into use.  Further to Ukraine needing MBTs, their military also must be trained in combined operations, (a tactic that integrates armored and infantry units with artillery and air defenses in attacks on the enemy. Combined operations are baked into U.S. tactics and are basic to the training of all soldiers, from privates in the foxholes to colonels and generals who command thousands of combat troops). This training is already happening though Oklahoma is suing to prevent "foreign troops" from being stationed in the state.  

The Kremlin claims that America and NATO are engaging in a proxy war to destroy Russia. Yes, and no. Ukraine is fighting Russian Imperialism on behalf of Europe and the world. If Russia succeeds in Ukraine, Poland, the Baltics, Romania are all next in line. NATO is immediately involved with boots on the ground. 

What is the end game? Allied tactics have avoided an "escalation" involving NATO and have kept Ukraine from losing BUT even though they pay lip service, there is NO strategy for winning. Zelensky laid out five non-negotiable points for peace, increasing them to ten a few months later.  Putin is reinforcing the area in Ukraine he has already taken, hoping for a negotiated settlement that leaves him in control. At the moment there is nothing to negotiate.

If Russia is simply driven back to 1991 Ukrainian borders, with no further action from the EU or NATO, even if Russian assets are used to rebuild Ukraine and sanctions continue, Russia is not beaten and will be back in "ten" years. They have survived Stalin, they have survived WWII. The Russian people and therefor Russia will survive with no lessons learned. 

Ukraine must win and Russia as an imperial power must be destroyed. Now or ten years from now. 

155 mm Howitzer



Leopard II Main Battle Tank

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Lucky, Samus, and the Dog Park

 I've not been on my computer much since last Friday. There are almost 200 unread emails in my Inbox, mostly news items of which I shall delete the older half. 

My second daughter, Kylee-Anne and her husband, Ian from Saskatoon were here from Friday night until mid afternoon Sunday and brought their dog Samus. Samus is a gentle giant, Black Lab and Great Dane cross. We were worried how she and Lucky would get along.

When Lucky and I stayed at my friend Ed's, his dog, Prill, kept Lucky in line as it was her house. They got along mostly by ignoring each other. But this is Lucky's house and he is highly protective of Tanya and I so we worried. Needlessly as it turned out. Lucky knows and loves my daughter as she is a true dog whisperer. So he accepted Samus and Ian with no fuss at all. In fact he was overly deferential to Samus who used her size and Lucky's timidness to make herself the top dog so to speak. 

Lucky never had another big dog to play with and when Samus would drop into play stanch, he didn't know how to respond. Not much room to play in our tiny house but in the back yard they learned to play together eventually. And we took them to the big dog park south-west of us off 13th Avenue. It is basically a huge level bare field, with a now-frozen creek along one side. This was Lucky's first experience off leash other than when he escaped the house a few times. 

He had so much fun and behaved himself around larger dogs and people. Ran and ran and circled back to make sure we were coming. He heard someone calling their dog way across the field and was sure it was for him so went charging off until we called him back. 

He loves cats and small dogs. There was a young woman with two small dogs and he was overjoyed. One dog was a 9 week old Golden Lab and the other was a sweet little floof of some kind. He would have spent his whole time with them if we hadn't called him to come with us. Even so he ran back across the field to check on them again. 

We have no vehicle to will have to depend on rides to go to that dog park in future. There is one within walking distance but it is much smaller and not much used on winter. We will use it in spring.

Both Samus and Lucky slept well that night. Lucky was sad to see Kylee-Anne go home but had mixed emotions about Samus. I think he was glad to get his house back and not worry about having his food stolen.

None of the pictures are mine as I forgot my phone when we went to the dog park.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Resolutions and Runkeeper

 New Year's resolutions were made to be ignored so I never made any. 

On the other hand, I have a dog needs walking. As all the Management courses tell you, "What you don't  measure, you can't manage." (Which is true to a point, but any good manager in real life will also tell you, "Not everything that can be measured is important, while things that cannot be measured are sometimes very important." But I digress.)

How far and how long I walk the dog can be measured. For many years I used an app on my phone called Runkeeper. It uses GPS to track where and how long you walked, ran, jogged, depending what you set it to. Also measures change in altitude over distance. 

I walked Lucky to the dog park closest to us a few days ago. He was bored as there were no other dogs there so we started for home. I hate retracing steps so I tried to go a different way and ended up walking south along the edge of three lanes of traffic going north. Most of my shortcuts end up like this. Two hours walking and 4 km measured on Google maps. Next time I'll go back the way I came.

I reinstalled Runkeeper on my phone today and  the three of us walked almost to the Lawson Pool. Tanya loves to swim and will likely walk there herself so she wanted to know how far it was from our house. Took almost an hour, there and back, as Lucky spent a great deal of time sniffing and marking. Do you know how long it takes to walk two blocks with trees every ten meters?

This is some of what Runkeeper displays after a walk:

Friday we will walk to the dog park again. The weather has been so great for walking since Christmas with temps around -10C, no wind and bright sunshine. It is perfect winter weather for outdoor activities.