Monday, October 29, 2012

XL Fools for Fools

You know what they say: A fool and his money are soon parted. This old saying has no meaning for the fools who worked for XL Fools. It is said that the majority of the workforce of XL Fools Meat Processing Plant in Brooks, Alberta are Africans from torn the part eastern African countries, mostly Muslims. These poor guys fled their countries which were affected by civil war, drought and other problems with the hope that they can find food, peace and shelter here.
They most likely slept in Government provided housings and fed by the Food Banks and the money that the Government paid them on regular basis, at the beginning. Then all of a sudden a fellow countryman of them told them about this magic place that make people able to by cars, apartments and all the luxury that they never even dreamed about before stepping on Canadian soil. So many believed and joined XL Fools and after a while of hard work they decided to have wives and children, Hondas and apartments, like everyone else(!) in Canada not knowing that this is a Capitalist society and the last thing that has value for the owners is the human beings.
I do not know to whom this XL Fools belong to but it should be someone or group of people that they don't care about the plant not operative. They most likely are wise enough not to put all of their eggs in one basket. I remember when I used to work for a similar outfit there was this Caucasian guy who just had joined us. He said that he used to be a waiter and he was so happy that now he finishes around 05:00 PM and would be home soon. He told us about the plant that he used to work for in Edmonton. He said that there were on strike once and then the owner didn't even bother considering their request. The plant was simply shut down and everyone was dispersed!
So these African guys who are said to be crying after hearing that the plant was shut and receiving their Pink Slip had no fucking clue that they are doomed no matter if they are in Africa or Canada. If you are playing, you must know the rules or soon you are going to be a loser. They did not know the game and they did not know the rules. They just look at the others and imitated. That's why they are where they are now!
(Photo: I am not laughing at these poor fools who their life hs turned upside down now but this is he only good picture I found on the net)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Camp Life (3): Great Ideas of the Intellectuals

Camp crew, to the extent that I learnt, mostly comprises of tough Caucasian guys from all over the country. In fact these are the guys whom are called Roughnecks. I barely saw anyone who was as small as I am (5' 7") and these actually are the people who run the projects, practically. Barely anyone form other background was seen. I sat with a few of them, not a planned sitting although I liked to, and talked to them, or better to say they talked to me. Canadians normally do not have a good relationship with non-Caucasian especially in a place like a camp. The smaller people who are supposed to be the intellectual team of the project, are placed in the site office and those are mostly the guys who are physically not capable of doing Roughneck tasks.
I had a little chat with a guy from P. E. I. at dinner table once. Very nice gentleman, in his late 40s and early 50s, I would say. I felt really bad for him that at this age he has to travel more than 5000 KM (ground distance) to make it to work while there are people here from the other sides of globe who simply make more than what he does at ages half of him without travelling more than 10 KM daily. But that is the nature of life. The good thing is he does not have to pay for air fare and also the tax that the foreigner guy pays is going to be spent on places like his hometown and elsewhere.
I really didn't like the assholes of the office that I was staying at, except for a few guys. One of the morons who in fact is a very nice guy but a true hammerhead, was from somewhere in Far East. We were talking about different projects and I explained to him how the equipment are lined up in the project that he is not part of. He seemed that he was not happy because on this one he feels like he is a key player! So he tried to comment just to prove that he has done so much and he knows a plenty. We have three major machinery, each of them weigh tons and are put in distances as far as 500 meters from each other. Each machinery stand as tall as a three story building at least. This fucking idiot said that why would not we put the last equipment on the top of the second one just to save on cables and other communications as well as conveying systems?! Can you imagine something as stupid as this? I mean think before you spell something out! We want to put something as heavy as hundred of tons and as tall as a four story building on the top of another thing which if not taller and heavier than the base one, is not much smaller! I guess we have to have a foundation as deep as a 10 story high rise and cranes with booms of the same size and capabilities of tons!
There was another guy in the same department and this guy is from one of the Atlantic provinces and from French descent. I happen to find his resume in the system and read that. It was quite a shock to me for someone who has worked in many places and has training of different kinds, not being able to prepare an impressive resume without grammatical mistakes, someone who has born in Canada and now is in his late 40s.
The others were not much better than these two samples. So for me working at site has the benefit of working with people as smart as these ones! Forget it!
(Photo: Imagine instead of using a conveyor to carry a pile of stones in spot 1 to a crusher in spot 2, you put a storage facility on the top of the crusher. Wouldn't that be brilliant?)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Camp Life (2): All You Can Breathe

As I stated in the earlier post about the camp life, people's access to alcohol and drugs is very limited. In fact consumption of either of them is forbidden in the camp and the camp security performs random checks using sniffing dogs to find hidden narcotics. However I believe there still could be people who can hide those stuff from the security. After all the security that I saw over there comprises of African people, mostly from eastern Arab-affected Muslim states of eastern Africa who in fact are the most stupid ones, no offence to anyone. In one case we were going to the camp and when we reached the check point, the bar was up and the driver even did not bother swiping the card and simply drove through. The Black guy in the security booth showed that he was concerned and was waiving and going to jump out and stop us but the driver simply ignored him and carried on, parked and we all left the vehicle!
Nevertheless many do not risk bringing drugs and alcohol to the site and just make a fool of themselves using cigarettes. For those who say smoking cigarette is not addiction should come and see this. These people when they are inside the camp, at work or on the bus, barely can control themselves and as soon as the bus stops or they step out of the camp building, they light a cigarette and gather in groups and enjoy tobacco smoking! So when you are walking from the camp to the parking lot in the morning to catch your ride, all you can breathe is cigarette smoke for the first 5 minutes or so! That is disgusting. I guess if the Project owner announces a smoke-free camp, they will lose half of the work force but hey who cares about the people's health and well-being and the environment? What is important is getting the job done so the client can start the production and sell every barrel of crude for around $90. That is what is matter.
(Photo: This picture although not clear shows workers in a sunny day enjoying a smoke in smoking designated areas. This can bee seen as early as 05:00 AM)

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I wanted to see this new movie of Ben Affleck not because I like him as a good actor or director, only because I wanted to see what has been gathered by Americans to narrate one of the important events in the history of Iran, one of many that I personally experienced as a child.
In fact that was the first movie of Affleck that I watched. He, to me, always looked like a grade 3 actor, someone as low as a B Movie star but I didn't mind giving him a few bucks to watch what he directed.
I remember as a child one night my family was walking in front of the US Embassy in Tehran. It was for sure shortly after the embassy was captured by the people who called themselves The Universality Students Followers of the Path of Imam (Khomeini)! As much as this tile sounds stupid, what they did has impacts that today still affects Iranians all around the globe and inside Iran as well. I remember that it was a little cold fall night and we were walking on the sidewalk and there were all these peddlers who were selling books and newspapers. It was just shortly after the Revolution and different parties were still free to express themselves. Of course the Revolutionary Court put them all in prison or send them to fire squad later, in a few months! It was me, my younger brother, my Mom and of course Dad. My Mom now says that she was sick and tired of Dad's Political participation/games but there was not much to do at the time! Dad were always political and eventually got fired from his job for expressing himself and supporting anti-government opposition groups after the Revolution. He even once was called to Evin, one of the most notorious prisons in the world, and was interrogated. That had a very psychological impact on her.
I remember that Dad was always supportive of my studies. If I wanted to buy a book or a magazine who never would think twice. That night, in front of the Embassy of the US, in Tehran, I remember that I saw a little book of a French artist who had cartoons which their titles all had the word CIA in them! For example there was Ambulancia and many more but that is the only that I have in my mind. Dad bought that for me and    then we went home after a few hours of walking around. When I say that that always supported my reading and studying it means that what I know about English language is mainly is because that always encouraged me to study. At times he would sit with me and we would read books in English, translate and discuss it. 
Nevertheless Affleck's Argo starts with a brief history of Iran from the time of the American-British Coup which resulted in overthrown of Dr. Mossadegh's elected government to the Islamic Revolution. The narration is done by a woman which clearly has an Persian accent. The way she narrates the story and condemns the exiled King (Shah) at the end results in justification of the Islamic Revolution! I don't know whose message is that but there so many things behind that 1979 Islamic Revolution and can not simply pointed out in a 5 minutes narration of a movie. The stealing of the Revolution from the people and handing it over to the extremists, the role of the British and many other things. As Oliver Stone says in JFK it is a mystery wrapped in an enigma! 
Then there are scenes in the movie which clearly are untrue and exaggeration  It is made almost the same way that Not Without My Daughter was made. Street executions, truck loads of guerrillas driving around with their fingers on the trigger and looking around, etc. The movie has been probably filmed in Israel with Iranian-Israeli actors and actresses. That's what I can say by simply listening to their conversations. Stupid Affleck forgets to provide caption for most parts of the movie where Iranians talk in between themselves so I have no idea how the American and Canadians audience are supposed to understand the movie. The story is so simple and lacks almost any excitement but only one scene. In general the audience would not be happy to follow the story. I looked at my watch two times wanting to know when the movie ends possibly because I knew what the end was. I personally knew that the Canadian Embassy in Tehran helped 6 Americans to escape by issuing Canadian passport for them. I also knew that for that reason the Canadian Embassy remained closed until 1988 but never knew anything about the science-fiction called Argo. The movie would be exciting if Operation Eagle Claw was part of it but then it should have been called The Hostages, 444 Days or something like that. Overall It's a poor movie, with weak direction and low-quality play. I do not know why a Canadian or American would want to see this. They are not mostly political people, especially the young. They don't even care what is happening in their own country. Forget about a country at the other side of globe! I would not recommend the movie at all. I would not by the DVD and I would give it 1 out of 5
(Photo: A popular photo from American hostages in the American Embassy in Tehran. A marine and an African-American. The African-Americans where freed shortly after their arrest among with women employees of the embassy as part of Islamic kindness that Khomeini wanted to show the world. The rest of them were released by Iran after 444 days and that was after the failure of the Operation Eagle Claw. F. F.   said that the six who escaped to the residence of the ambassador of Canada to Iran, would have been released by the Iranians simply if they had been patients and did not have to go through the risk!)

Camp Life (1): Disgusting Eating Habits

One of the most important factors in camp life is food. For the people who have no access to alcohol, drugs and women, mostly, there is nothing amusing more than food and not to forget cigarette for some. Sex, I would say, is practicable for some who can find a girl in the camp or know someone from before but I personally did not notice anyone having sex in the camp although saw a few that seemed they were intimate.
There is plenty of food and is all free in the camp and lots of it going around. The problem is most of it is garbage but North Americans eat it. This is how the food is served:
1- Self-service restaurant: Three quarter meals are saved daily. You scan your card and can stay inside and each as much as you want. I personally did not try that but is possible. There is a salad bar and then drinking fountains and the kitchen where you order the main meal. I saw people who seemed that they had picked more than they could handle. No problem! Just leave it in the try and walk off! Salad is not fresh. It is either frozen or bagged. I tried a pasta-tuna salad and tasted like sand! I never saw avocado because you can not freeze it and then thaw and serve. It turns black and tastes like crayon! That is my easy test to prove the salads are not fresh. The beverages were all plastic bag beverage, like the orange juice in McDonald's. I never tried once but I saw several people who drank soda, milk and orange juice together! What a disgusting animal. Dinner was available of different kind, mostly horrible. Vegetables were the worst! I am someone who enjoys vegetables but tried once over there and spat them all out. Rice was the worst I ever had in my life. It basically is made of cheap Chinese rice mixed with so-called herbs and its like a dough you make to prepare your pie! Meat it not as bad, I mean beef steak and pork pieces including sausages because you can simply freeze meat and then serve it later without having much difference in taste. Meat is disgusting by itself if you eat too much but to me that was the only food that I could enjoy. I easily could say that they were not freshly made meat but I did not want to limit myself to salad. Fish was not bad as well but the only time I tried chicken I did not experience something good. Bread was available for the time the food needed it but mostly white bread that I dislike a lot. Soups, I did not get even close because they all would be can soup. My wife makes the best soups and I never contaminate myself with that can soup garbage.
2- Bag-up Room: There is this room that ready food is picked up for lunch. People have no limit. Everything from sandwiches, pizza, fruit, soup, salad, bread and sweet is available here. Let's analyse them all:
a- Soup: I did not even bother trying.
b- Sandwich: There is cream cheese and cucumber sandwich on whole grain baguette and lettuce and tomato on whole grain toast which are the healthiest. Cold cuts are also available and tried them a few times. Horrible!
c- Fruit: Grapefruits are awesome but those idiots barely eat them. $1.28 each in a supermarket. Orange was the best I had ever had in Canada. Yellow apples and bananas are good. Forget about red and green ones. Not ripe. Cut watermelon was disgusting. Frozen and thawed. Tasted like baby vomit!
d- Other sorts of garbage available for the fans!
3- Snack Room: Coffee and tea as well as muffin and sweet bars are the most available foods in the snack room. You also can find hot soup, of course from can. And that's all. Snack Room is open 24 hours. I enjoyed quite a large amount of pastry.
4- Store: Although huge amount of food is served, consumed and also wasted in the camp, you still see the people who are walking with a bag of chips or other snacks. There is a small store in the camp which sells anything from ice cream to juice, pop, chips and newspaper.
Overall because the food is not fresh (someone told me it's made in Edmonton! Possible!) and contain lots of preservative and other chemicals, if your digestion system is not used to it, you get sick. I had joint, stomach and headaches! Something that had never happened in my whole life after eating my meal! The food remains in your stomach for hours and hours before it leaves. Very hard to digest. I still could feel the food in my stomach hours after and was trying to get it down by drinking glasses of water! One day I had my left arm hurt and I said I would be done but I managed it. I stopped eating breakfast after two days not only because it was holding me back from catching the truck on time but also because it became useless. I did not do any physical work and all the egg, hash brown and other would be accumulated in the body. However the breakfast was healthy. The best bet for someone who does not do anything physical would be going to gym, having a shower and then enjoy a good meal.
(Photo: I intentionally selected this photo for this post. This a healthy juice that I make at time and is a combination of beet, celery and carrot and if available watermelon rind!)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

11 Days of Camp Life

I just came back from a project camp after 11 days, last night. I am so tired as a result of lack of enough sleep and having a cold. The period had advantages and disadvantages but if I am asked to go there, I will most likely say that I would not go for so many reasons. I witnessed a lot and learnt plenty. Felt good and bad but overall disappointed. There are lots of things to say and I will tell them all separately under a different post. Here, I am just going to say how I got there and it was pretty similar to my previous trip, just a bit easier. My flight had been scheduled in the afternoon so I did not have to wake up at 04:00 AM again. And when I got there I simply moved in to my room because everything had been planned and there was no delay or mistake. For that I am thankful to the organizers.
(Photo: This picture shows a pit on the top and a lake/pond on the left bottom and of course the propeller of the airplane. The plane was a bit noisy but not very annoying. That was the first time I was on a propeller plane. We flew over this Project site shortly before landing and I have no idea what site it is but would not be so hard to find out)

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Thanksgiving's Turkey

One of the advantages of living in North America is that you have access to almost everything from food and education to entertainment and news. While not everything is in quality level that you might have been used to, with a little struggle, you, most of the time are able to find what you are looking for. In the meantime despite this variety of everything, North Americans are somehow stuck to their tradition and customs, I would say. For example look at McDonald's: The fast food giant has not changed its menu since when it was established. All they offer is burgers and a few chicken sandwiches, not to mention that I don't eat anything from McDonald's but their coffee. 
Thanksgiving's turkey is one of the meals that must be eaten as a family feast in Thanksgiving Day in the US and Canada and for that reason we added it to our annual menu a few years go. I celebrate Thanksgiving Day because I am thankful, not to what they call it God though, that I have such a wonderful wife, I am healthy almost and at the moment have a job and I'm thankful to the Canadian Constitution and the Canadian Government to start a life here in this country, not that it is a very easy life. In fact it is full of challenges and that is what I like but challenges become pointless when they have to be taken in an unfair situation. 
Anyway the type of turkey that F. F. makes and she basically spent the entire morning on it, and is wonderful    in taste might not be what you want to show on a Thanksgiving table when every member of family and other guests are sitting because it is not a demonstrative whole turkey but at the same time it is the healthiest and most delicious turkey that I have ever had.
As you can see in the photo, we let the turkey thaw first and then cut it to pieces, then we make the deep mixture, which is mixture of onion, garlic, herbs and vegetables, lemon juice and plain yogurt and let them sit for an hour or longer. Then we cover the plates and put them in the oven. It only takes 20 minutes with a normal broiling temperature and turns out wonderful. It is not dry and needs no butter or gravy or artificial canned cranberry sauce. The turkey could be served with mashed potato or any other regular Thanksgiving dinner side dish. We had it with rice and pickled vegetable and I just could not stop eating. So as you can see it's far from traditional North American turkey but it definitely has more taste in it and is way healthier. If you do not want to cook it for your Thanksgiving, try it as your normal daily cooking once and you will fall in love with it. Let me know if you want to know more about the vegetables and herbs used.
(Photo: This is how the pieces of turkey look like after they are taken out of the oven. To me they are even great for sandwich but some might only like the very thin layered processed turkey meat imitation with added preservatives. They can simply go to supermarkets and sandwich bars to get some. No need to go through all the hassle!)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Flying with Air Canada after 11 Years

I flew to British Columbia yesterday morning and this time via Air Canada. The ticket was booked by the company so I just proceeded. It was a bad start because first there was about half an hour delay and that was because they had to spray the wings to blow the snow and ice away. Then when I sat I realized it was a bit more comfortable compare to Westjet. There was also an entertainment system which looked very interesting. Movies, News, etc. I selected Prometheus and made myself busy with that while I had promised myself to read for my exam. When we landed at Vancouver International Airport, which in fact is located in Richmond, we realized shortly after that, through the pilot that the bridge which connects the fuselage to the terminal is not working! We waited almost half and hour and all those idiots who jump up as soon as the plane lands, had to sit their asses down, embarrassingly! I continued watching the movie until a tow truck came up and towed the plane to another connection point. So I was there at round 08:40 instead of 07:30. I made my my visit with half an hour delay and everything was performed according to the plan. 
The flight back to Calgary had no issue and I watched most of Witness on the way. Unfortunately there was no delay so I could not finish the movie! My drive from Surrey to North Vancouver and then Vancouver and  Richmond was not so bad but it was the Budget map which saved me lots of time and money. After coming off the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, I took the right lane to East Hastings and went all the way to Main St. Then I made a left to Main and went all the way to Marine Drive SW and just over the Arthur Bridge and Airport!
(Photo: Flying back and forth to British Columbia I never had the chance to see Mount Baker in Washington State from the window. This photos shows it from my seat while we were leaving British Columbia and getting distance from sinking sun)

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The APEGA Opportunity

I have been trying to go back to APEGA since early this year. I just got lucky that my file had been inactive a little less than 6 years. Otherwise I would have had to re-start everything from beginning. And by everything, I mean everything. Then it was the decision by the board (I don't know what board but not defiantly a cutting board) that should have been made to see if I need to write F. E. (Fundamentals of Engineering) examination or not. Thanks to the board that just gave me the opportunity to become a Professional Engineer just by writing and passing the N. P. P. E.
I have screwed up this exam two times so far. The first time I knew barely anything and I was completely lost. The last time which was more than 7 years ago, I came out of the exam room pretty confident and I was quite sure that I would pass it but APEGA's result showed a fail! 
So it is up to me to write and pass it this time. I have already started but have to make sure that I am increasing the time I'm spending on it.
(Photo: The new logo of APEGA. They have recently removed one G from the acronym and logo. I'm just hoping that they have not removed anything else. I will write more about this organization later)

Monday, October 01, 2012

Couscous Meals

Couscous is a North African which just has been added to my menu recently. It is normally served with vegetables and meat, most specifically lamb but the three times that I have made it so far I have not served it with meat. Like East Indian and Chinese food it has lots of vegetables in it but of course they are all cooked and we know that cooked vegetable is not as good as raw vegetables  i. e. Salads. My daily vegetable consumption is focused on raw, fresh ones which have been combined in different shapes of salads as well as fresh fruit which very hard to come by in Canada but I also added this meal to my listing because it's healthy, delicious and a variety to Persian food that we rarely. I say rarely because Persian food preparation requires skills, patience and good ingredients. We do have the first two but lack the last one. The issue with Persian food is being fattening and source of Cholesterol, Uric Acid and other harmful substances.
Anyway this one here is the third meal that I have made and the most complicated one(!) and I have to say that it takes longer to be prepared to the other two that I had made and in the picture one ingredient is missing  and that is Feta Cheese. I  guess it is add to complete the nutritional value of them. They probably added it to provide Protein but I believe it could be skipped because Lentil does the same without the harmful parts but because I never intend to alter the recipe I keep it here.
So for Couscous Grilled Vegetable-Lentil Salad you will need:
1- 2 cloves Garlic.
2- 3/4 teaspoon Salt.
3- 1/3 cup Olive Oil.
4- 3 table spoon Lemon Juice.
5- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin.
6- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander.
7- 2 medium size Zucchinis.
8- 2 Portobello Mushrooms.
9- 1 sweet Read Pepper.
10- 1 Yellow Pepper.
11- 1/2 cup Lentil.
12- 1 cup Whole Wheat Couscous.
13- 1/3 cup minced fresh coriander (Cilantro)
14- 1/3 cup crumbled Feta Cheese.
This is how you make it:
Finely mince the garlic and rub it to the salt and make a smooth paste. It requires patience. Use a teaspoon or on a plate for that. Combine Oil, Garlic Paste, Coriander and Cumin with Lemon Juice and let them stand. Cut the vegetables to the desired size and brush them with the oil mixture and grill them or fry them until tender. Cook Lentil separately and then bring 1 cup of water to boil, add couscous and cover, remove from heat and let stand until all the water is absorbed. Mince fresh Coriander (Cilantro) and mix the grilled or fried vegetable with Couscous, Lentil, crumbled Feta Cheese and add it to at the end. This salad could be served cold. That's how mostly salads are served but you might want to warm it up and eat.
(Photo: Top, the salad with missing feta cheese but I added later. You could say they are not seen in the photo! Below, min ingredients. Lentil and cheese are not seen here as well as the herbs)