Friday, September 30, 2011

Sumela Hotel Resort Pictures

Front gate

Front entrance

Walk from beach to hotel

Back view of hotel and Cafeteria

Mountains crowd the coast to a narrow strip

Wall to wall resorts

Tanya says that is me out swimming

Sumela* Hotel is a three star all inclusive.  Rooms and meals being the main differential between star ratings but there are other differences.  We have stayed at a 5-star in July with intermittent air conditioning and 40+ temps .  Cost us $2000 for a week.  Never again to that hotel nor in summer.  Last year we stayed at a four star just down the road a pace from here and it was OK.  We liked the looks and price of this place however the internet site was less than truthful in some regards.  The rooms really need redoing and the meals picked up a bit to make it a four star as outside it is lovely and well looked after. 

*Sumela is the name of an old monastery near Trabzon on the Black Sea coast.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Body by Fisher GiST #11

This post is being written in the more or less dark on the balcony of our room.  If I sit out here it is close enough to catch the Wi-Fi from the office,

1. Watching Tanya swim out so far into Antalya Bay I can hardly see her and "swimming" out to meet her half way coming back.
2. Left over from yesterday - seat in the exit window row on an Airbus 221 on the way from Kyiv to Antalya,
3, How are the mighty fallen and the mountains made even as molehills. There are things to be said for underwire support.   And one piece bathing suits.  And in my case, tents.
4. Northern Exposure. And southern exposure and eastern exposure and western exposure.

5. Celebrating 64 years by swimming in the Mediterranean and going for dinner with my wife to a little roof top cafe with wonderful Turkish food.  Best Day Ever, Stephanie!

Pictures tomorrow.  I know I said that yesterday.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Mediterranean Coast - GiST # 10

1. We arrived at the Sumela Hotel about 45 minutes south of Antalia on the southern Turkey Coast for a two week stay at this 3 star hotel.  The water is wonderful.  Even I can 'swim" way out over my head and not panic.
2. The first room they showed us to was a disaster,  Very small but with a nice bathroom.  For $30 Tanya got us moved to a larger room at the opposite end of the hotel from the entertainment stage which plays thump thump music to about midnight.
3. The website said Wi-Fi.  There is a trick to that.  For no cost you hook up to the cable at the front desk and check email.  It is painfully slow.  BUT if you ask the right questions, one of the young men who works there signs you onto the hotel Wi-Fi network which does exist but cost $5 per day for the first 8 days (the next 6 are free).  Only in the lobby but who cares.
4. Our luggage arrived with us.  This morning in Boryspol Airport for 5:00 am take off, they were loading 4 planes for Antalia and one for Sharem el Sheik.  We figured our luggage would end up there.  (Murphy was an optimist).
5. We won't starve.  The salad bar is loaded with fresh vegetables (and hot banana peppers) and the four hot dishes are adequate and tasty.

Pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sunshine and Sleeping Cats - GiST #9

1. My step-daughter-in-law. Today is *Lina's birthday.  I went to their place for lunch.  What a banquet she put on, just for the four of us (her mom and I extra).  Tanya joined us on Skype so she wouldn't transfer any germs.

2. Smiles from a happy little girl.  Yesterday I gave my old notebook computer to Natasha, Katya and Yuri's youngest daughter, who is 12. I deleted all my files and had MIR computer shop change all the programs to Russian language for her, bought a modem and paid the first months internet fees.   It will do to start her off even if it is old and very slow.

3. Home-made ham and split pea soup.  Easy internet recipe and tastes wonderful.  Will make it again.

4. Tanya helping me manage negotiations for contracts, keeping tabs on all the pieces.  My Manager!

5. Cats sleeping in the sun.  Kuchma fell asleep in the sun on his little bed .  Sun moved.  Cat didn't. Tanya put toys beside him.  Didn't even flick an ear. 

*Sometimes I spell it Lena, sometimes Lina.  Her name is pronounced Lee-na, not Len-a and not L-eye-na.  The Cyrllic I/i is pronounced ee.  Which is why the Ukrainian KKK member got confused when sent to the sheethouse but I digress.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mouse in the House - GiST #8

1. Kuchma caught a mouse on our upstairs landing.  It is fall; mice move indoors for winter. I felt sorry for the mouse but better the cat caught it than if I had to try.  Tanya was not going upstairs ever again with the mouse on the steps.

2. Skype - talked to all four of my kids and both spouses this weekend.  A 2 cent phone call to get them onto the computer and the rest is free.  Connection is hit and miss so the webcam is only on for a minute but at least we get to see each other.

3. Refillable ink cartridges for my Canon iP4300 printer.  Fast, easy and cheap (That's me). Brand is Color Way.  Website is in Ukrainian but the spelling is American.  Maybe it is available in NA too?

4. Ky and Lyn are successfully dealing with the challenges of their new jobs.  Meaning they haven't killed anyone yet or taken to strong drink.  Ky is marking assignments from her first year students.  She is quite positive about it.  Positive they are dumb as bricks but are teachable and will improve.  Lyn is coping with teenage boys who make her library smell like goat and with a filing system that appears to be more random than librarians are used to.

5. Tanya is feeling better this morning.  Got up, made tea, took her meds and went back to sleep. Head colds are no fun.  I gave her hugs and will try my hand at making soup.  Not chicken.  We ate that for supper last night.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

ATM Robbery Technique - Don't Be a Victim

This set of pictures illustrates how you can be conned into thinking your card has been 'eaten" by the bank machine with the use of a bit of film strip.  A "helpful" stranger comes along and convinces you that if you enter your PIN at the same instant he presses cancel, then your card will be returned.  You try this a few times while the stranger memorizes the PIN.  You give up and walk away, the stranger retrieves the card.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Seven Day Wonder - GiST #7

1. Actually blogged seven days in a row, never mind GiST'd.
2. Asked a friend for a letter of reference and he threatened to put it on old UNDP letter head and add doctored pictures.  Worst of all he threatened to write the truth.  See if I ever bail his ass out of jail.
3. Felt like working for the first time in several days.  Laid down until the feeling went away.
4. Trying to look after Tanya who now has my cold.  She takes such good care of me, I wish she would let me take care of her. Mostly I do dishes and make tea. And give her lots of hugs.
5. Looks like I will have a small project in Kazakhstan in mid-November; enough to recoup my costs of July plus related marketing costs.  In my world breaking even is considered a huge profit.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why I need GiST - # 6

This has been one of those day where five things to be thankful for do not roll trippingly off the tongue.  There are ALWAYS things to be thankful for; things that make me smile, things that make the day if not the "BEST DAY EVER", at least redeem it from being a write-off.  Every day above ground is a good one.

1. Hot home-made ham vegetable soup - good for what ails me.
2. A small boy with a huge backpack wending his way home from school kicking a chestnut down the sidewalk in front of him.
3. Masha had a school trip to an ostrich farm and came home with a real feather and a small plastic ostrich as souvenirs.
4. Oreo cookies and honey covered puffed wheat - tastes of home from the local grocery store.
5. Tanya, who loves my kids, who love her in return.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Another Sonya Story - GiST #5

1. Why I love other people's kids.  Sonya is supposed to be learning to read. Her mother asked her to read a book to her.  Sonya refused "I can't read. I can't remember the words.  I can't understand it.  Etc etc." Her mother wrote on a piece of paper in Russian of course "Sonya is being an ___" (rhymes with grassmole).  Sonya said "What did you write?  Is it about me?  Let me see that. . .   MOTHER, that is a terrible word! NEVER call me that" "See, you can read".  And she could and did, ever after.

2. A good night's sleep, once I went to bed at 1:30.  I slept soundly until 10:00 am and woke up feeling much better.  I may even breath again.  They say you can't live without love but I find oxygen to be rather important too.

3. Danish blue cheese on toast for breakfast.  Now that is decadent.  Almost like home-made Baklava for breakfast on a school camping trip with Grade Sevens about 20 years ago.

4. My hounds are recovering from the last beating they gave each other about 2 weeks ago. Volk is pretty much healed up.  Bobik, who got the beating of his life, will take another couple of weeks.  Both will take all winter to regrow all the hide they lost off their faces.  They are going to become consultants as soon as I can get the vet arranged.  Enough is enough.

5. Tanya's last (??) box of fall bulbs arrived.  Only $25 this time.  They don't go in until late in October anyhow.  Between 200 to 250 planted and another 50 to 75 to go.  Now sure where, but Tanya assures me she has a (new) plan. She worked three solid days clearing out flowers to make room for bulbs.

Sept 21 with bulbs planted in the clear areas
August 20 packed with flowers
Sept 21, bulbs in the clear areas - except for the angled path which is dog and cat run
August 20 filled with flowers

When Socialism Saves Capitalism

When Socialism Saves Capitalism is a good news story from Truthdig about the turnaround of the American auto industry helped in part by government intervention in the form of temporary investment and union-management cooperation.

General Motors has gone from a $4.3 billion loss in April 2010 to a $2.5 billion dollar profit in Q2 of 2011.  The new 4 year agreement with UAW will enhance the profit sharing agreement.  Union members shared the hard times with the company and will now share the good times.

The American taxpayer has been or will be repaid for their investment which the private sector would not touch, employees will stay employed, paying taxes and NOT needing unemployment insurance and the supply industry will stay in business.

Governments do a great many things right, many far better than the private sector. It is why we have government.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Grace in Small Things #4

I'm trying to think of a better way to title this blog series.  365 of these will get boring.  I need a daily theme word and then put GiST #X behind it or something.  For Canadian readers I am tempted to shorten it to GST.  For those who don't know, GST is Canadian for VAT, like "Eh" is Canadian for just about anything we want it to be.  But as usual, I digress.  I release a thought inside my head and it takes off like a pinball machine. (TILT).

Anyway here are five more things that I am thankful for and that make me happy.

1. From reading MayB's blog post the other day, it appears I could be a grandfather in my own right next year.  Of a kid.  Or a dog. Its a win-win.

2.  Comfort clothes.  Flannel long underwear that looks like tights.  today I wish they had feet.  A heavy flannel housecoat.  All to keep me warm as I shuffle and snuffle around the house.

3. I love kids.  Other people's kids especially.  Our friends Ryya and Vladik have a granddaughter named Sonja who is in Kindergarten.  The teacher called the class up to sing and she refused to go.  The teacher called her mother.  When she got home, her mother asked her why she didn't sing with the class.  "How do you know?"  "I'm a mother.  I have eyes everywhere and know everything you do". Sonja looked at her mother with all the scorn a 5 year old can muster "The teacher told you".  Next day she went up with the class and informed the teacher that "See, I am singing.  You don't need to call my mother".

4. Tanya took the mini-bus to Dnipropetrovs'k today to visit her friend Elena and go shopping in the big clothing and garden markets.  Old age is when you don't care where your wife goes as long as you don't have to go with her. 

5. Everyone quotes Adam Smith but no one actually reads him.  I have started "The Wealth of Nations" and am on page 26.  It took a month.  How long will it take me to read all 1208 pages?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grace in Small Things #3

1. Yesterday Lina and Tanya harvested all the grapes and started making grape juice.  They also collected a big box of walnuts from under our our trees.  Lots for banana bread this winter - I put a good half cup of chopped walnuts into each loaf.

2. The two families of young swallows that have been swopping around, practicing their wings, have disappeared for the winter. The young doves are still here.  There were a dozen or more, so beautiful in their light greys or browns, perched on top of the outbuilding. I opened the window to take a picture and they all flew away. Don't know if they are mourning doves or not but they are certainly morning doves.  They start hoo-hooing at the break of day. 

3. Coldrex hot lemon drink.

4. I finally have a plan of organization for the business plan I have been working on.  All the research I can do is done but what, where and how to include the information most logically had created writer's block(head).  The canned templates are OK to a point but. . .

5. Finding this song for Tanya

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grace in Small Things #2

1. Tanya's fall bulb order arrived from Interflora today.  $75 worth.  It is a big box.  I may not have promised her a Rose Garden but she is creating a botanical garden.

2. Another man came to finish spading our garden today since the first couple have not returned. Spading over 625 square meters (6600 square feet) of dry clay is asking a lot of anyone and I think they just wore out.  The new guy had been here before, taking out a tree that was interfering with the power line. He said he would finish the garden as long as Tanya would give him flowers for his garden.

3. When we were away at Pryluky a couple weeks ago, our hot water boiler was fired up and we have hot water to the sink and Tanya's bathroom again.  Makes doing dishes much nicer.

4. "Where is my ice-cream?" is our new standing one-liner.  Tanya and I are so forgetful, (both of us but me more so) we are like the old couple watching TV one evening when the old lady says "Would you like something to eat?"  The old man says "I'd like coffee and toast". The old lady shuffles off to the kitchen and brings back tea and cornflakes.  The old man says "Where is my ice-cream?"

5. Twelve-year-old Glenlivet, an early birthday present from Tanya.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grace in Small Things #1

This is an experiment in forced positive thinking.  I make no promises about everyday for a year or anything like that but I will try.  Other GiST blogs that I have read have been a very enjoyable experience.  Writing one may even be more enjoyable.  I will risk it.

Five things I am thankful for today.
1. That I started GiST after thinking about it for along time.
2. That there are a great many good people out in etherland whom I have never met face to face but whose blogs, comments and emails have been a positive influence in my life.
3. That Tanya gave me enough notice to clean the kitchen before she arrived home with guests for lunch.
4. That Tanya still has so many friends throughout the Raion even though she hasn't worked there for many years.
5.  That my kids treat me with the respect I deserve. ;>)

And my readers can be thankful that I didn't write all five about Tanya.

Wage a battle against embitterment and take part in Grace in Small Things.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Painted Ponies Go Up and Down

Like it or not summer is over and fall is in the air.  The smell of burning leaves and garden waste is constant.  There are few summer flowers left and the reds and golds of autumn flowers fill the flower beds along the street.  Temps are warm in the mid afternoon - even mid-30s some days but drop to as low as 8 to 12 at night.

The root vegetables are all dug and bags of potatoes and onions are stacked in markets and roadsides, selling for as low as $0.35 per kg.  It was a good year for veggies.  All that is left in our garden is cabbage.  The rest has been cleared off.

We hired a couple to dig the garden.  Last fall Tanya bought two truckloads of well rotted manure (actually black topsoil) and the couple were spreading it over the garden using our wheelbarrow and then mixing it as they turned the soil over.  Hard work. But they have no work.  Victims of the failure of the FSU. 

The man used to drive a tractor at a collective farm and remembered Tanya from previous times. The woman is "not quite right".  She has a very bad arm, broken and unattended years ago and healed at an offset angle to where it should be. They obviously have nothing.  Tanya dug through her stash of clothes and shoes and filled a bag for the woman, which was appreciated. 

Tanya gave them a little money at the end of each day as they likely needed it for food.  Four days ago she paid them up to date and we haven't seen them since.  They'll be back and finish the job, we are not worried.  Our back fence neighbour chided Tanya for paying them before the work was finished but she said she couldn't not pay them.

We had a four-inch rain last night  - the drops were four inches apart.  Tanya spent today watering her flowers.  She has been clearing out space to plant the spring bulbs.  Every day she says to me "I have a new plan".  Her flowers move around a lot as she experiments with locations and combinations. 

The bulbs for spring flowers will go in this week end I expect.  As you can see there are a few to plant. These are not all the bulbs, just the ones easy to photograph.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ever the Optimist

We didn't put the cat out before we went to bed last night.  Partly because he had not caught fire.  (Please forgive me if I used that line before). He was sleeping peacefully on the couch upstairs and Tanya hated to disturb him.  There is a rule that if you do not disturb Kuchma* before you go to bed, he WILL disturb you late in the night when he decides he needs to go outside.

I got up at 1:00 am.  Kuchma was still sleeping.  When I came out of the bathroom, Thump, he hit the floor, Meow, he wanted out.  We started down stairs.  Now, fog may creep in on little cat feet but they are not Kuchma's.  Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump all the way down stairs but instead of heading for the door, he headed FOR THE KITCHEN.

I don't think so.  Boot!!!

*Kuchma Kot aka Kuchmishka when we are rubbing his tummy and scratching under his chin or &^%%$#@!!! when I find him on the table eating the butter.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes 1902-1967 was a black American poet, "known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry."  You can read more about him here.

I found this poem of his "Let America be America Again" and thought it fitting.  Ten years on from 9/11 mostly we have lessons unlearned and questions unanswered.  The world is a safer place for the ruling class which in the name of counter-terrorism has continued to slowly cut back on freedom of the individual.  But Langston Hughes' poem brings some hope.  I need permission to quote the entire poem but you can read it here.  The last few verses go like this.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Win Some, Lose Some.

The post is reprinted from Miserable Bliss with permission of the author. With a daughter in Social Work, I follow the misadventures of Violet, another Social Worker with a wry sense of humour and a way of putting words on paper that make you think.  This is one of those blogs.

The vast majority of my clients are addicted to something. Many of them personify, to varying degrees, what you (likely) think of when you hear the word ‘addict’ – though most people don’t recognize that ‘addict’ is still ‘human’ and thus it’s not just about the drug, even when it’s all about the drug. But if you saw them walk by, you’d probably assume correctly that they were an addict based on various indicators that are stereotypes. Stereotypes and, often, reality.

A smaller number are what I’d call “recreational users” of substance(s) – sort of like your friend who really does only smoke a bit of weed at parties and never any other time – but if they’re coming to see me they’re into something considered a bit ‘harder’ than marijuana. I deal in clean needles and crack pipes, remember. But it is completely possible for someone to recreationally use something like crack or meth. Probably more than you think, actually. (But it’s a slippery slope, indeed.)

Then there are the people who come to pick up supplies for their friends – and yes, they really are getting stuff for someone else. (And yes, I also have clients who pretend they’re picking up for a friend.. most of them eventually drop the pretense when I ask a few questions about what their ‘friend’ needs/wants.) Sometimes they’re picking up for a roommate who’s at work and can’t come to my location. Sometimes they’re picking up for a girlfriend or husband or cousin. Sometimes it’s their tenant. They often ask me for information about drugs or side effects – is the behaviour they’re seeing caused by the drug? Mental health? Personality? Is this a psychotic break or mania? I like talking to these people, generally, because they have the same goal that I do – keeping a substance user healthy and safe. They are curious about what the supplies are for and how to use them.

I have favourite clients from all of those categories. As a general rule, I like them for the same reason that I like anyone else – they’re funny, or they’re smart, or they tell a good story. Some of them might terrify me if we met in some other context. I probably shouldn’t have favourites but, really, it’s not like I treat them any differently from the people who I like a bit less. The stuff I give out is unlimited, standardized, and there really aren’t any extra perks I can give out.

The nature of addiction, particularly for those who I consider to be “hard core addicted” is that the health and general well-being of my favourites is pretty much all over the place. I can tell when someone has ramped up their drug use: they lose weight rapidly, melting in days what would take someone months to achieve; they have open sores on their body, face, hands; they lose what I’d call, for lack of a better term, a sense of pride, and they start showing up unwashed, smelling, unkempt or just plain filthy; they cavalierly tell me that they did [some action] that’s out of their normal behaviours and probably outside of society’s definition of “normal” or acceptable. Sometimes they just tell me directly that they’re using more. Sometimes I can tell by the number of supplies they take from me.

It’s hard to watch. It’s hard to see someone twice a week, for example, and watch them begin to snuff themselves out. The light disappears from their eyes and is replaced by an emptiness and a cold-focus that appears to be hunger – craving, wanting, needing. They don’t ask how I am, anymore, or comment on the t-shirt I’m wearing – they make their demands and then they’re off and running again. I need 10 needles, 5 cookers, 5 waters, 2 ties. Thanksbye. I watch them first appear embarrassed, then ashamed, then completely vacant, as their personality dissipates. I see the manicure turn to chewed nails and abscesses on the backs of their hands, arms, breasts or feet.

It would all be so much easier if people with addictions fulfilled the stereotypes – surly, mean, criminal, filthy, society’s rejects, stupid.. whatever. But my clients, as much as they fill some of those stereotypes, are also parents and students and wives and brothers. They’ve often experienced huge amounts of trauma – awful, terrible things. (They’ve also often handed out their share of awful, terrible things to other people.) They inhabit lives that are ridiculously difficult to fathom – the stress and anxieties of their daily life often boggles my mind. They are warm and sweet and funny and caring.

I watch them decline and there is nothing I can do.
This is where, I understand, people judge the work that I do. “If you didn’t give them needles, they wouldn’t do those drugs” or “You’re condoning drug use!”
People are wrong. This is where the work that I do becomes incredibly important.

I check in as best I can – I look at abscesses and refer to treatment (I have access to a physician who can usually get someone in very quickly to have an abscess drained and packed and bandaged up). I try to refer people to the social worker on my team if I think there’s a chance they’ll show up for an appointment. I ask how people are doing. Mostly, though, I am invisible to them for a bit.

The rational human being is swallowed inside the addiction. Eventually, with any luck, the human emerges again. My job is to help make sure the person that emerges is coming back to reasonable health. When asked for 4 needles, I hand out 10 or 20. When someone grabs a bunch of needles, I hand them a bunch of (sterile) water vials so they won’t use puddle water.

I caretake, a little, for people who are not overly invested in taking care of themselves for a bit.
Maybe, just maybe, it’ll prevent an infection. HIV. Hepatitis. Any number of health problems.
I mention all of this because today I saw two clients that drove the point home.

One, who I’ll call Tammy, has been away for a while, causing me some worry. It’s not like I can call someone to ask how she is or what she’s doing; I don’t know her last name, who her friends are, what her phone number is or where she lives. But today she reappeared to get some supplies and tell me about the treatment she’s starting soon. She was radiant – healthy, glowing, happy, smiling – and it was a vast change from the last time I saw her. She told me about the things she’s been doing for the past chunk of time, the improvements and changes and things she’s done to make life better.

Will she actually go to treatment? I have no idea. We both know that she needs it.. and we both know how easily she could miss that appointment and just keep doing what she’s doing. I cheer her on, tell her that I hope things go really well for her, and then I hand her my business card.

The other client is someone who has been drifting around me for a while, off and on. I’ll call her Amy. She was doing well, then not, then well again. We connected quite a bit and had some good conversations. Then a series of events transpired that knocked her off-kilter and I didn’t see her for a while. Today I saw her slinking around – avoiding my eye contact, embarrassed, and looking extremely unwell. She has escalated her use. She will likely continue to avoid me for a while. She bolted out of the place before I could decide whether or not to go over to her.

I know she has my number. Knows where to find me. Knows what I can do to help (and what I can’t do, too.) I will wait, patiently, for her to get in touch. I try to remain hopeful. I also try to remain realistic.

When I don’t see someone for a long while, I like to think they’re home with family. Healthy. The reality is that they’re more likely in jail. Sometimes dead. But sometimes they really are out of town, staying with their parents, avoiding the ‘bad influence friends’. Sometimes they’re in treatment and they come back looking better than I do on my best days.

Win some, lose some, isn’t quite accurate. Keep playing the game – the winners sometimes lose and the losers sometimes win. There is no end.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gnus and Vous

Tanya went with Andrei to Dnipropetrovs'k today in his Lexus.  He had to go and adjust the seat for her.  The seat adjusts 16 ways to breakfast with a whole collection of buttons.  Too complicated for Tanya, she of the two-button microwave (Make Hot; Open Door).  Tanya would like only one button for seat adjustment "Make Comfortable".

Tomorrow is Tania's birthday.  Masha got some materials from her Babushka and is making her mother a hand-made birthday card. See what you started, Dana, with that lovely card you made? We will be going for ice-cream and cake sometime tomorrow, not sure when yet.

Masha went to school Thursday and Friday and then was home sick Monday and Tuesday.  She told Tanya that she thought she was allergic to school.  Good try. 

Kuchma Kot sits outside the bathroom door in the morning, waiting for Tanya to come out and feed him.  This morning she took too long and he clawed the door open and meowed at her. When we are eating, there is one chair by the table that he jumps up on to wait and hope we feed him something good.  When Masha is here, she sits on that chair.  Kuchma jumps up behind her and tries to push her off the chair. That is HIS chair.

The hounds have been running free for a few hours each day.  However that has ended.  They started collecting girl friends and bringing them home.  Last night, they came home quite cheerfully when I called and I locked them up.  Thirty minutes later they tried to kill each other; serious, no-holds-barred murderous fighting.  This time, I left them to sort it out themselves.  Apparently they did, because a few minutes later they were all best friends again. Their girl friends hang around at night hoping the gate will break or something.  We can hear Bobik and Volk howling pitifully several times during the night.  Tough luck, boys but you can stay home.

Whose Space is it Anyway? | textingthecity

Whose Space is it Anyway? | textingthecity

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pryluki Elevator

We got a tour after class one afternoon of the new Agrikor grain elevator.  184,000 tonnes of storage, with several 20,000 tonne bins.  That is a lot of grain or oilseeds.  Two separate unloading, cleaning, drying and rail car loading facilities at the site, the second one being so new that it took it's first truck load of sunflower seed while we were there.  There is a central weigh scales at the entrance to the site which all trucks must pass.  An automated vacuum arm takes samples from each load which are dried and tested in the laboratory.

Original elevator is all Ukrainian made except the driers

New section, just opened.  All American built - reliability was critical.

20,000 tonne bins

Drying tower is on the left

First load in the new section.  Trucks open and dump sideways.

Automated sampling arm; 50 gms per tonne; 40 tonnes per truck and trailer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Beef School at Pryluky

Tanya and I returned today from Pryluky, a city of 65,000 about 2 hours east of Kyiv. A client there sponsored a three-day beef school for his staff and other interested parties Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  An old Soviet style meeting room in city hall was rented, a sound and projector system set up and coffee/tea and cookies available at the back all day long. There were about 30 people on Friday when I was talking about business management (the bean counters were there), 20 on Saturday when the topic was breeding and selection and 15 showed up on Sunday for nutrition and herd management.

Tanya helped out with some group activities which I am not good at.  Next time we will do more of them, plus she will deliver some of the sessions.  Tanya helps answer questions and gives more detailed explanations of some points as she has heard my sessions before and also been to Canada and understands our beef production system. My translator was Sasha Borisov, who has translated for me many times before, starting back in 1999. We work well together.

The client, Agrikor Holding, run over 2000 purebred cows in four breeds (Simmental, Charolais, Angus and Limousin). They recently bought Limousin and Charolais bulls from France.  We went out to see them one evening after class and also look at one of the old feedlot barns which is in use until better facilities are built. We also toured their new AI Stud and the company's 184,000 tonnes  (6,750,000 bu) capacity elevator for drying, cleaning and storing sunflowers and corn.

Old Soviet feedlot barn, 300 animals tied up to grow and fatten

The barns are OK in summer but cold and wet in winter.  Outside is best but that will take time.
French Charolais bulls inside resting

French Limousin bulls outside resting