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Showing posts from April, 2014

Smiles Aren't Free

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Spring is here and the trees outside my apartment are filled with singing, chirping, super-excited birds. These fluffy little sparrows, warblers, robins, jays and even a cardinal are full of a zest for life that I envy. As soon as the sun comes up they are just so happy and excited.

Since I returned to Canada from Russia I have found my life disconnected from what is truly important. I had become a slave to paying bills. I worked 7 days a week but, after all the bills were paid, had no money to show for it. I was working and sleeping and working and sleeping, and just basically waiting for the clock to run out so I could finally die and say "Whew! That was a tough forty years. Glad that's over!"

Life in Canada married to Katya has been nothing but jumping from one hurdle to the next. We were both happier in Russia, and had more disposable income and, in my case, more hair. But Russia is no place to retire and Canada is ranked in the top 5 countries to live in the world …

What Russia Does Well

I'm not falling for this whole "Ukraine invasion" thing. Russia isn't fooling me. Just after hosting a highly-successful Olympic games, complete with super-modern stadiums and technology, Putin sends the "Russian Army" into Ukraine. Have you seen these guys? They are kitted-out to the nines and are well-trained and well-disciplined, and very motivated. Top notch soldiers.

It's all smoke and mirrors, though. Russia has a conscript army with very low pay and even lower morale. Those guys in Ukraine were probably Spetznatz (special forces), the cream of the army and volunteers to a man. The regular Russian army is in a shambles, much like the rest of the country.

So the Russkis in Crimea aren't fooling me.

Politics

But it goes to show that Russian maskirovka is something that Russia does very well. Maskirovka is the art of masking, distracting and confusing, and is a Russian political-military specialty that goes back to the Second World War.

Russia as…

Russian Women and Me

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I lived in Moscow for a few years and experienced many adventures and situations that are out-of-the-ordinary back home. I recorded most of these in my blog Mission To Moscow, which has become more popular since I stopped writing in it and has gained more than 30,000 hits per month (and decent ad revenue, to boot). I couldn't get that kind of traffic when I was actively writing it!
Some of the most popular posts on that blog involve stories of drugs, drunken stupors and/or girls. Particularly Russian girls. 
By "girls" I mean, of course, grown women. But adding "girls" + "Russian" in a blog post drives Google search traffic crazy. Also, while I'm no misogynist (don't get me started on feminist BS), I'm also no pansy-pants white knight, and see nothing wrong with admiring the beauty of hot women. Russia, as it were, is filled with hot women. 
Since returning home, anytime somebody at work or a friend learns that I lived in Russia, they alm…

A Russian's First Days In Canada

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2012 was Katya's first year in a foreign land and one thing I learned about myself is that I need to remember that this is all new for her. As somebody who grew up in this country, it is easy for me to think that everything is normal, and I find myself constantly assuming that it is normal for my wife, too. Many times it is not!

Ontario, she finds, is very "normal". Not normal as in similar to Russia, but normal as in "plain". "It's normal here." She told me after 4 months of Ontario living. "People go to work. Go home. Pay their bills, Take a week vacation in the summer. Normal." This was after more than a year of living in British Columbia and a summer in Alberta.

She has done very well for herself in Ontario, I might add. Whereas in Victoria the most she could find was the odd cashier position at retail outlets, part-time for minimum wage, here in Ontario she landed a good job in logistics management in Guelph within three weeks of a…

Mabou, Cape Breton

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I'm on my third iPod in 10 years, and I love it. I wish the iPhone was as good a device as my Android Samsung because I would snatch one up in an instant! I digress..
My first iPod was gifted to me, by me, while in Seoul, South Korea. It was a silver iPod with a black and white screen and by the end of the first year I had that sucker loaded up with so many songs and playlists that it was impossible for me to revert to an unfriendly mp3 player. Three years later my ex bought me my second iPod, a black iPod classic with 60 GB of memory! 
That iPod went everywhere with me! It survived our catastrophic breakup (for me, at least). It was in Russia with me, and out on boats at sea with me, and in Ukraine and Germany and Sweden and England with me. Then last year it started to go wonky and the battery stopped holding any charge at all. That was exactly 5 years after I received it so not bad.
Knowing how much I love my iPod, Katya took me by complete surprise for Christmas 2012 by givin…

Crisis In Ukraine

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Three years ago this summer Katya and I met up in beautiful Ukraine, where neither her nor I required a visa. Katya is half-Ukrainian and has grandparents living there. Read my earlier post for details about that trip.

In the past month, as the world is aware, Ukraine has turned from a peaceful (but poor) place filled with culture and a magical sense of calm to a land at war with itself and threatened by its neighbor.

The Euro-Maidan, that is, the mass demonstrations and protests that happened in support of integration with the EU in the Maidan Square of Kiev, overthrew the corrupt pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and saw former Prime-Minister Yulia Timoshenko released from imprisonment. A new interim leadership has been installed although all the same sitting Parliamentarians that were elected before the revolution are still there.

This revolution was a mass protest of the people, although certain elements of far-right groups, most notably the Right Sektor, were also involved…