Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Supply Management Trap

The same kind reader who asked about coping with language differences in Turkey sent me a link to this Supply Management article in the Grope and Mall. I can't comment at all on the feather industry side of it but will try to explain the dairy industry side of it and show why it is so difficult to get rid of something that may have outlived its usefulness.

I milked cows as a kid.  We shipped cream until Dad got a job driving school bus in 1960.  One of the reasons I like beef cattle is that the calves do the milking of the cow.  So I am no dairy expert.  I called on my good friend DAC who as dairy cattle nutritionist (among other hats) at U of S has been in the dairy industry, production, politics, policy and all since his youth on a dairy farm near Saskatoon.  He sent me a package of stuff on the Canadian Dairy Industry Supply Management for which I am thankful.

Every country with the possible exception of New Zealand protects and supports its dairy industry directly or indirectly to some extent.  This very truncated version (with great liberties taken in abridging, partially due to my limited understanding of a complex issues), is Canada's approach.  (Dave, I know you will read this, so please fix any glaring errors).

In the 1930s, producers responded to processor problems by establishing producer-owned processing plants throughout Canada.  After WWII there was a shortage of milk and the government began subsidizing milk production.  In the 1950s a great many technological changes allowed the industry to reinvent itself and milk production increased to the point there was a surplus by the late 60s early 70s.  The government wanted to limit its subsidy liability and producers wanted to maintain prices.  The answer was to manage the supply of milk to meet Canadian demand with as close to no imports or exports as possible.

There are five classes of milk in the Canadian system, with classes 2-4 known as Industrial Milk.  Each class has its own price with Class 1 highest and 5 lowest.

  1. Fluid milk 
  2. Cream, ice cream, yogurt, infant formula
  3. Cheese
  4. Butter and Milk Powder
  5. Ingredients in food production.

Quotas were established for Industrial Milk under the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC), set up in 1966 to regulate supply.  These quotas were distributed to the provinces according to historical production.  This quota came with direct payment subsidies and support prices set in the form of butter and powder purchases by the federal government.  It could not be sold but could be transferred with the herd, if the herd was sold.  Needless to say, herds with quota brought more money.

Provincial Milk Control Boards established quotas for Fluid Milk which could be bought and sold.  CDC, in cooperation with the provinces, set prices at producer and processor levels based on cost of production (COP).  Producers were paid monthly a pooled price based on the percent of milk used in each class.

This worked fine for a while but soon the ability to cheaply move milk longer distances including across provincial boundaries led to a Western Milk Pool (WMP) and an Eastern milk pool, the P5.  Small processors amalgamated into larger ones and soon all processing was done by large interprovincial and international companies.  Industrial quotas and fluid quotas were rolled into one, described as 1 kg butter fat (BF), and were bought and sold across their respective pool areas.

COP which is NOT supposed to take into account the cost of quota was calculated at $74.40 per hectolitre in 2011.  Average pool price for milk in 2012 was $75.50 per hectolitre.

Quota, as a right to produce, has a value determined in the market place. The price of the right to produce 1 kg BF for 365 days was 36,000 dollars or about $98.60 per kg per day.  Depending on how this is amortized at what interest rate it works out to $40 to $50 per hectolitre of milk that the buyer now has the right to produce.  Producers with low incremental production costs (the cost of adding one or more cows to the milking line) are the only ones who can afford to buy quota.

Supply management has provided a good living for two generations of dairy farmers but is has wreaked havoc with Canada's ability to negotiate trade deals.  How to get rid of it and what to replace it with?  Quota is used as security for bank loans; it figures highly into the retirement plans  of older dairy producers.  It has resulted in small high cost dairy farms.  If there is 310 million kg of quota at $100 per kg, it would cost the government $31 billion to buy it out and then what would they replace it with?  How do we keep our dairy industry from being flooded with low cost, highly subsidized product from other countries?

Eugene Whelan and company meant well and Supply Management served the industry well in the short term but in the long term the failure (inability) to adjust will cost the country dearly.

1 hundredweight of milk at 3.5% butterfat (bf) = .441 hectolitre at 3.6 kg bf per hectolitre. 
2.26761 hundredweight at 3.5% bf = 1 hectolitre of milk at 3.6 kg bf per hectoliter. 
1 hectolitre at 3.6 kg of bf = 103.2 kilograms. 
9.7 hectolitres at 3.6 kg of bf = 1 metric ton

Friday, March 29, 2013

Grunt, Point and Sign Language

Barb, from Barb's True Stories asked how Tanya and I communicate in Turkey. Where we vacation, everyone speaks Russian. Where the Germans vacation, everyone speaks German etc.  The resort areas specialize.  The tour companies for those countries feature those resorts.

It was different in Usak. No one speaks anything but Turkish, other than Murat with whom I work and his co-worker Hakim at the company office.  Even the folks at the hotel had virtually no English.  The first evening we were there we went wandering looking for some place to have supper.  We like to try small local cafes just to get a taste of real Turkish food.

We walked past this one place about three blocks from our hotel.  Very small downstairs but most seating was upstairs as it extended over the shop next door which was not a restaurant.  Clever use of street space.  I had no idea what they served but it looked interesting and smelled wonderful so we went in.  There was a man and two boys working downstairs which was the kitchen.

They served submarine type sandwiches made from rotisseried lamb tripe, wrapped like ribbons on a spit, then chopped up fine on the sandwich   With or without lots of hot chili powder.  (I had with).  The younger boy brought us  and gave us menus.  The older boy understood the situation.  He came to our table and held his hands apart to show the sandwich sizes.  Worked like a charm.  We asked for tea (chai in every language) but he brought us ayran which is a fermented milk drink, very popular in Turkey.  So that was new to us both, too.

We had no luck getting our tea so finally we finished and went downstairs to pay and the man says "What about your tea?"  So we sat and visited with him at the downstairs work table and drank our tea.  He asked where we were from and we said Canada and Ukraine. Tanya didn't think he looked very Turkish and wondered if he was from Armenia or Azerbaijan.  So we asked him.

He said he was Turkish and I said where is your moustache.  Many Turks wear a heavy black moustache. He dug in his wallet and showed us a picture of him from several years back and he looked Turkish.  Typical haircut and moustache. Then he showed us a picture of his wife, a lovely woman, so I showed him the picture of Masha which was on my mobile phone.

This whole conversation is with no mutually understandable words other than tea, Ukraine, Canada and Turkey.  If we are ever back in Usak, we will go there again as we are now friends.

The bill was $9.

Murat said there were only three places in Usak that served this style of sandwich and we had found the best one.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

More Turkish Countryside

These are photos I took in 2008.

Turkey has some of the best roads in the world.  In the past 10 years they have rebuilt or resurfaced 70% of them.  The main highways have not so much as a ripple on the surface.  Railways have been neglected to the point that a smelter on the coast could bring ore from Ukraine cheaper than from a mine within Turkey according to one report I saw.  New high-speed rail links are now being built between major centres such as Istanbul to Ankara and Ankara to Izmir.

Tertiary road to a village
Secondary highway

From a distance the farm villages of the Turkish countryside look enticing.  Every village has its mosque and the red tile roofs and white or pastel stucco houses look quite pretty.  But when you get into the villages you can see the poverty.  Farms are small, in Usak averaging about 7 hectares ( 17.5 acres), flocks about 20 to 25 sheep and goats and herds about 4 or 5 head of cattle

Typical Turkish village
Farm house and sheep pen
 Summers are hot and dry, with very little rain from June through September.  Irrigation is a must for any kind of productivity with summer crops such as corn, sugar beets, vegetables, and forages.  Turkey has water but accessing and managing it is the problem and takes money.  Usak province has increased its irrigated land every year.  The old systems were concrete channels such as the picture below, which with flood irrigation, were highly inefficient.  New systems are pipeline and trickle Israeli type systems.

Typical old irrigation water channel.
 Over grazing has been a problem in Turkey for millennia. As the number of people increases so do the number of animals.  Shortage of grazing land is a major problem as is the fact it is mostly common lands owned by Forestry or Treasury Ministries and therefor not managed in any way.  Turkey is working very hard to address these issues but is making less progress than one would like to see for reasons I could rant about but won't.

Heavily over grazed pasture area
 Most of the agricultural land I have seen in Turkey has been relatively poor quality, low in organic matter.  Partly due to use of crop residues for livestock feed but mostly because that is just how it is.  The mountains in behind Kisladag mountain in the background are home to the largest gold mine in Turkey.

Light brown soil,  Kisladag mountain in the background

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Uşak (ooshak) History

Turkey (more correctly Asia Minor or even Anatolia) is old.  Civilizations in Turkey go back 10,000 years. Agriculture passed through Turkey on its way to Europe.  Everywhere you look in Turkey are ancient ruins of one civilization or another.

The territory of Uşak Province was once within the borders of the Hittite Empire, then within the Phrygia Kingdom, Lydian Kingdom and Persian Empire. The famous "King's Road" built during those times passes through Uşak. The province was incorporated into Macedonian empire in the 4th Century BC. It was taken under the rule of Roman Empire at the end of the 2nd Century BC. It was ruled by Byzantine for 700 years. After the 1071 Malazgirt Victory of the Seljuk Turks, Uşak was controlled by various Turkish Principalities and in 1429, it came under the Ottoman rule. It was occupied by the Greeks between August 29, 1920 and September 1, 1922 during the War of Independence.
King Croesus was the ruler of the Lydian Kingdom between 547-560 B.C. and is known for minting the first gold coins. The gold for his coins and for the treasures of his reign came from Uşak province. His treasure, known as the Karun Treasure, which was found in Uşak  province are some of many artifacts on display in the Archaeological Museum in Uşak city. The treasure is said to be cursed as the villagers who found and stole the treasure trove seemed to all come to bad ends.

More pictures HERE

The current museum is small, under staffed and under funded.  Construction has begun on a modern museum that will house the famous Karun treasure, the symbol of the Aegean province of Uşak, as part of a new museum complex in the Historical Uşak Train Station. The museum is scheduled to open this year according to this article

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Otel Dülgeroğlu, Uşak, Turkey

Otel Dülgeroğlu, Uşak, Turkey is my favourite hotel in Turkey.  I have stayed there several times over the past 10 years.  It was built over 110 years ago as a caravanseray or inn with an open courtyard.  In the mid-80s it was purchased by the Dülger family and converted to a hotel by putting a roof over the courtyard.

I had hoped the client would book us into this hotel as I knew Tanya would love it. We were only there two nights but long enough for Tanya to fall in love with the hotel and with Uşak which is a small rural provincial capital (180,000 people according to my local source) in west-central Turkey.

Outside view of the unique angular shape.  Photo from here.

Rooms open onto a landing that looks down on the courtyard

Flash shot of the landing

Another flash shot of the landing

Daylight shot looking up from the courtyard
Me at work Sept 2002

The bed in our suite

Four meter ceilings and fancy drapes
This many centuries old mosque is over a meter below current ground level

Street scene from Usak

On the Road in Turkey

We traveled from Ankara to Usak city and then Esme and Ulubey in Usak Province.  West Central Turkey, like all Turkey that I have seen, has some pretty unique landscape.  The country has more fault lines than an old man has wrinkles, plus volcanic action in times past, all of which adds up to the country looking like it was assembled one bit at a time by slamming together bits of land, leaving mountain ranges, plains and hills sort of at random all over the place.

Rock formations sort of stick out of the ground in places

Semi-flat country side 
Snow capped mountains in several places along the way

The other side of the road is flat with hills in the distance.

Rolling hills leading up to jagged rocky hills jutting sharply out of the ground

Continuation of the above picture

Tree plantation 15 year old red pine

Kisladag mountain

Village in the distance, scattered oaks in the fields
I am sure a geologist can make a better description but this flat land prairie boy is used to large tracts of land all looking essentially the same, so I find this interesting.  Tanya took some pictures on the fly and so did I.  Some other pictures are from a few years back and can be found here

Friday, March 15, 2013

Turkey Trip

Tanya and I have been in Turkey since Sunday on business.  Ankara and Usak.  It is impossible to be creative on a laptop keyboard in a hotel room with no real desk or chair so I have not done any blogging.  Will have lots when we get home.  We leave for home tomorrow but it remains to be seen if we get home tomorrow or sometime Sunday.

Expecting aircraft weather in four airports in one day is somewhat of a stretch this time of year. Tanya expects we will be sleeping in the airport in Kyiv over night and not fly to Dnipro until Sunday.  There is no space on the train or we would take that from Kyiv. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Attorney at Loss

From a friend from Kansas.

These are from a book called: "Disorder in the American Courts", and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, "isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?"
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year- old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He's twenty, much like your IQ.
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you kidding me?
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Getting laid
ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about 20, medium height, and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I'm going with male.
______________________________ _______
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And, Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Harry and Bess

My friend DAC sent me this and it is certainly worth posting. 

Harry and Bess

Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many or more important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri. His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.

When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale."

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise."

As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale. 

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!"

Thursday, March 7, 2013

RIP Stompin' Tom Connors

Another one of my heroes is gone.

Lifted in total from Yahoo! Sports

PETERBOROUGH, Ontario (AP) -- Canadian country-folk singer Stompin' Tom Connors, whose toe-tapping musical spirit and fierce patriotism established him as one of Canada's biggest cultural icons, has died, his promoter said Wednesday night. He was 77.
Connors passed away from natural causes at his home Wednesday evening, Brian Edwards said. The musician, rarely seen without his signature black cowboy hat and stomping cowboy boots, was best known for songs ''Sudbury Saturday Night,'' ''Bud the Spud'' and especially ''The Hockey Song,'' a fan favorite played at hockey arenas around North America.
Those three songs are played at every Toronto Maple Leafs home game. At Toronto's Air Canada Centre Wednesday night, many fans took to their feet as ''The Hockey Song'' was played after Connors' death was announced.
Although wide commercial appeal eluded Connors for much of his four-decade career, his songs are regarded as veritable national anthems thanks to their unabashed embrace of all things Canadiana.
''The hockey song was the biggest one,'' Edwards said. ''Domestically he was known everywhere.''
On Twitter, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said ''we have lost a true Canadian original. R.I.P. Stompin' Tom Connors. You played the best game that could be played.''
The National Hockey League tweeted: ''Sad to hear that legendary Canadian Stompin' Tom Connors has passed. His legacy lives on in arenas every time 'The Hockey Song' is played.''
Connors knew his health was declining and had posted a message on his website a few days ago, saying Canada kept him ''inspired with its beauty, character, and spirit.''
Dubbed Stompin' Tom for his habit of pounding the floor with his left foot during performances, Connors garnered a devoted following through straight-ahead country-folk tunes that drew inspiration from his extensive travels around Canada, dating back to his itinerant teenage years when he roamed the country working one job or another.
The country that Connors celebrated in song was strangely ignored by other Canadian songwriters, he often said.
''I don't know why I seem to be the only one, or almost the only one, writing about this country,'' Connors said in 2008. ''This country is the most underwritten country in the world as far as songs are concerned. We starve. The people in this country are starving for songs about their homeland.''
He was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, on Feb. 9, 1936, to an unwed teenage mother. According to his autobiography, ''Before the Fame,'' he often lived hand-to-mouth as a youngster, hitchhiking with his mother from the age of three, begging on the street by the age of four. At age eight, he was placed in the care of the charity Children's Aid and adopted a year later by a family in Skinner's Pond, Prince Edward Island. He ran away four years later to hitchhike across Canada.
Connors bought his first guitar at age 14 and picked up odd jobs as he wandered from town to town, at times working on fishing boats, as a grave digger, tobacco picker and fry cook.
Connors is said to have begun his musical career when he found himself a nickel short of a beer at the Maple Leaf Hotel in Timmins, Ontario, in 1964 at age 28. The bartender agreed to give him a drink if he would play a few songs, and that turned into a 14-month contract to play at the hotel. Three years later, Connors made his first album and garnered his first hit in 1970 with ''Bud The Spud.''
Hundreds more songs followed, many based on actual events, people and towns he had visited.
He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1996, one of the country's highest honors. He also had his own postage stamp.
Connors is survived by his wife Lena, two sons, two daughters and several grandchildren.
A celebration of Stompin Tom's life is being planned for next Wednesday at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.
Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Malapropisms, Mondegreens & Spoonerisms

Last August, my brother Stan on his blog "The English Cowpath" posted on Malapropisms, Mondegreens & Spoonerisms. He does a nice job of defining them and provides a few examples.

He added a note about a week ago that Word-a-day just did a week on these funny word errors.
Here is the end of the week compilation:
and an extra to publish all the mail they got that week 

The tears were streaming down my face and Tanya demanded to know what was so funny.  Some things just don't translate.

Here are a few examples but best read the sites yourself and get all the benefit.

The best use of spoonerisms occurred in the British parliament. The speaker of one party complimented one of the other saying "I yield to the gentleman as a 'shining wit'." And then apologized for making a spoonerism.
-Martin Litke, MD, Newport Beach, California (litke.martin

A friend, wishing to celebrate his divorce, suggested that we go to the saloon for a beverage. I suggested that if he wanted decoration for the party he might consider a balloon for the severage.
-Tromboniator (via Wordsmith Talk online forum)

While working in Moscow some years ago, several of us overheard a colleague complaining about Russian: "I just can't get a handle on this acrylic alphabet."
-Hilary Evans, Ottawa, Canada (hil666evans

A friend of mine was ill and needed to get a biopsy done. Her husband upon hearing this asked her a bit later when the autopsy would take place so he could go with her! Her reply: "Not quite yet dear."
-Margriet Hecht, Portland, Oregon (mihecht

I overheard a guy who had just driven across country say that "The car was loaded to the tilt."
-Harry Bower, San Francisco, California (fluteoftheroom

I am hearing-impaired and have a telephone with closed captioning on a screen. In a recent phone conversation, this wonderful mondegreen came across. My friend was describing the preparation of a drink and she said, "throw out the pulp and keep the juice." But the CC read, "Throw out the Pope and keep the Jews." Those closed captioning fellas have a pretty vivid imagination!
-Dean M. Laux, Englewood, Florida (dlaux6

A pianist was playing at a function in a private home and really needed a bathroom break. One of the guests asked him about the piece he had just played and instead of replying "this is a very difficult piece to play", he said, "This is a very difficult place to pee."
-Anne Lusby, Brockville, Canada (alusby

My all-time favorite: From a breathlessly excited radio broadcaster announcing the disembarking of the Royal Windsors in New York, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Duck and Doochess of Windsor!"
-Paul Wessen, San Jose, Costa Rica (pwessen

My mother once said (after her second glass of sherry), "After Papa has retired we're going to fix up the world and take a trip around the house."
-Nina Garrett, Old Saybroook, Connecticut (cornebg

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Words

These have been around a few times and I have no idea if indeed they did originate with the Washington Post, but they are clever.

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. 

1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate's disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.
18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and a pain in the rear

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Coats, Cans and International Women's Day

Tanya is the happiest today I have seen her in two months.  Yesterday she took the bus to Dnipropetrovsk to go shopping.  She has been needing a full length dress coat for some time.  It is often too warm for her heavy leather/fur coat but she had nothing but short casual jackets.

She phoned me about 3:00.  She found the coat of her dreams, classic black, "not expensive", only $375.  But there was this car length burgundy coat she just loved.  What should she do?  "Buy the black coat because you need it and the burgundy will be from me for International Women's Day"*.

Both coats are well-made, from St. Petersburg and are cut "to fit Russian women".  I owe her $400. She wore the red one home and it looked awesome on her.  The black one was just lovely, too.

I didn't sleep good last night.  Happens from time to time.  I lay awake for hours and drift off about 3:00 am or something.  Tanya laughed and said she knew why:
"Ivan, why can't you sleep?"
"Because I can't pay Maxim next door the money I owe him"
Wife pounds on the wall of the apartment, "Maxim, my husband can't pay the money he owes you......Go to sleep, Ivan, it is Maxim who cannot sleep now".

This morning she and Lina went to town for groceries.  Tanya was dressed to the nines. Black skirt, black and white sweater, her new black coat, black and white scarf.  She. Looked. Good.  And she felt good.  "I have wanted a coat like this for a long time.  I feel like a woman!" **

When they came home, I said "All men look at you but you come home to me".  "You're the only one who buys me coats"..

Called my son on Skype later in the day. He was cleaning the bathroom, down on his knees scrubbing the toilet and the floor.  I said, "That's fair as you pee all over it".  "Not ALL over it; just in one spot".

I told him about Tanya's new coats and mentioned that Friday, March 8 was International Women's Day.  "Hey, Mel, Friday is International Women's Day. I won't hit you that day and I won't complain if you don't have my supper ready on time".

*For the uninitiated, in Ukraine and Russia IWD and birthdays are when men spring for gifts for their beloved...or else. 
** Note to husbands: Anything you can do to make your wife feel good about herself pays off in the long run.  It isn't always easy, either. I know this.