Thursday, July 28, 2011

Growing Food in Space and Ukraine

We were invited to joing the Mayor of the City of Zhutomyr, Ukraine for a tour of the Korolov Space Museum. Sergey Korolov was the mastermind behing all of the Soviet Union's space efforts. In fact, it is his designed Progress Transport vehicle which is the only way astronauts can get to the Internation Space Station since the Shuttle has been retired.
The museum is well done and represents many of the Russian and USSR achievements in space over the years. Korolov was born in Zhutomyr and they made a museum of the house where he was born and across the street is the actual space museum. I was quite surprised when one of the poster exhibits was an experiment showing the growth of plants in space, first on the MIR space station and then on the ISS. Then I recognized the plant growth chambers in the photos taken on the ISS. They were the modules designed and built at the Space Dynamics Laboratory. They were then transported to Moscow for testing and then launched on the Progress to the ISS. Russian astronauts conducted all the experiments and ate the food that was produced.
When I told the Mayor that I worked at SDL, who made the modules and cooperated with the Russians, he became very excited. He aske if I would come back for an interview and write up our history of the program so that the Museum can do a story and display on our cooperative efforts (he was not aware than this was a cooperative effort with the U.S.) They want to grow the international cooperation part of the Museum, and this was a perfect fit. We are looking foward to the follow up interview and story.
Then we had a chance to tour the Nation's largest producer of quail eggs and quail meat in Eastern Europe, maybe even the world. They have about 40,000 quail laying 30,000 eggs a day. They provide quail eggs for all of Ukraine.
We were fortunate to arrive just as about 20,000 quail chicks were hatching. They only eigh about 9 grams when hatched, and are an eating machine. For the first few days while they tripple their weight and size, they like loud noizes. We could whistle and they would come running to you. I guess that is instinct for where the food is. It is amazing how fast they grow and then begine to lay eggs. This photo is of thousands of two day old chicks. They reminded me of a floor covered with cockroaches moving for hiding when the light is turned on. It was fascinating and extremely educational. They gave us 100 fresh eggs that we will boil and put in a salad. They do taste just like chicken eggs, but the shells are several shades of brown kind of like a paint horse.
Having fun in Ukraine.

I Know Where Babies Come From!

I have now learned where babies come from. This answer came to me as I was gazing out the window of our long Marshrutka rides from Kyiv to Zhutomyr, Ukraine. In fairy tales and old stories, I learned about storks. It ws rumored they brought babies to families. I thought they were just mythological and did not really exist.

But, trip after trip to Zhutomyr I saw several very large gray nests on top of power and telephone poles not too far from the road. Often there were several in a row, one on every pole it seemed. There must have been 50 or more over a 40 mile stretch. At first I thought they were ornamental, man-made to look like large bird nests. They were huge, even bigger than an eagle's nest! I knew eagles would not build a nest in populated areas, so that was out. They were close to houses and barns. I could not imagine any bird willing to build a nest that close to human activity.

Then, one day I saw movement in one of the nests. Upon closer examination, I saw two large white and black birds, one standing on one leg and the other kind of dancing around. This got my attention, so I looked closer at the upcoming nests. Then I saw several young birds in a nest, with one of its parents. They seemed to be mostly beak with a wooly covering on thier bodies. I found out they were the young ones being raised by their parents. The parents looked like the "fictional" storks that I read in those old storybooks when I was a kid.

Then I saw in the fields hundreds of these birds looking for food. They were not as thick as seagulls on a Utah field, but there were hundreds foraging on short grassy fields. When I asked a native what kind of bird they were, he said the English word was "STORK". So they really did exist and they were not just in a fairy tale.

Well, if storks are real, then the rest of the tale must be true as well. Thus, I determined that babies come from Ukraine because that is where storks live, waiting their turn to pick up and deliver babies. Just don't ask me how they know where to deliver them. That is someone else's problem to find out!

Interesting notes from Ukraine

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer in Ukraine


Our new mission president, Jorg Klebingat, replaced Lane Steinagel as he and his family arrived on 30 June. We miss the Steinagels, but the Klebingat's are already well adjusted and accustomed to Ukraine since they lived here for about 4 years. He took President Hinckley to view the temple site location options and recounted to us the selection process in which the site was selected, and where the temple now stands. They will do great as we all enter this new chapter of the Kyiv Ukraine Mission.

We are preparing for the next All Ukraine Helping Hands Day, or "Day of Service" as expressed by President Eyring during April Conference. We had a great turnout for ther Helping Hands Day in April and hope to duplicate it in October. In addition to building Branch unity, the media covered many of the projects and reported on them. It is great exposure for the Church as we serve the communities we live in.

We recently spent several days in Crimea where we participated in several Humanitarian Service project closing ceremonies. All the recipient organizations were extremely greatful for LDS Charities support. Typically the assistance is for orphanages, handicapped schools, homeless shelters, homes for the elderly and hospitals. Blankets, desks and dorm furniture, a washing machine and kitchen appliances go a long way to help those in need.

Whilei n Crimea, we took advantage of the long daylight to spend a few minutes near the Black Sea. One very interesting site was the old Soviet submarine tunnel that housed several submarines while being repaired or prepared for sea duty. Built in the 1950's, they were completely hidden from later satellite images. Now they conduct tours though the tunnel and have a nice museum.

We also had a chance to test out the Black Sea beaches. They are very nice, especially as you go further east along the Crimean Peninsula. It has been a cool and somewhat rainy spring, which means the sea temperature is a little lower than they would like. But it was OK for us in getting our feet wet.

We are in a time of uncertainty. If the Church does not replace us, then we have a lot of cleanout to do with our apartment since it serves as our office. If they replace us, then we have to clean up our computers so that they make sense to other people. I never was good a putting together a filing system, and the same goes for a folder system.

More to come later.

Tom and Shauna