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Showing posts from 2012

Gen. Schwarzkopf Passed Away

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I just realized last night that General Norman Schwarzkopf had passed away on Dec. 27th. This weblog by no means is a news blog but I could not ignore this. I became familiar with the General right after the war ended in Kuwait in 1992 when I still lived in the old country. I became familiar through his book, It Doesn't Take A Hero . Then I waned to know if what had been translated is true. So I bought the book shortly after coming to Canada and read parts of it. I really enjoyed how the General tells his life's story from the time that he was a child and his father had to leave for Europe , to the time that he was in the process of joining the US Army and the difficulties and struggles. His father, Norman Sr. was sent to Iran shortly after the Second World War and that is the favorite part of the book when he describes the old Tehran to you. I have not unfortunately finished the book yet but whatever I have read has been interesting very much and it's highl

Fatal Cold

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The temperature has remained in the range of -25 to -20 degrees Celsius in the last 5 days of so in Calgary . I went for me usual running the day before and also before that but today I didn't dare! I guess I had inhaled quite big amount of freezing air into my warm lungs and made them sensitive to cold. I felt like I was going down with a cold today in the morning. Instead I decided to have a little walk in Shaw Millennium Park and Confederation Park to test my newly purchased Sony Cybershot DSC-W560 which we had bought this morning. I was so cold that I could not feel my fingers for a while! I came back home around 08:50 PM and we decided just to have salad for dinner with a little bread and cheese. That was not helpful! I still feel cold. So what I did was I put two pants and two running jackets on and put the heat on as well! It is also in the forecast that the temperature remains the same for the rest of the week. I do not recall I ever experiences such a brutal

Are Oil Sands Projects Screwed?

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The activities on Oil Sands projects in Alberta has attracted many people to this province in the past 5 years or more. As well have kept many people active around the globe. Manufacturers and service providers from Korea to the UK and from the US to all industrial provinces of Canada are benefiting form these projects but seems lack of proper transportation media has significant affect on the projects. The XL Keystone Pipeline which is planned to take the crude from Alberta to Texas has not been approved. At the same time there was another one on the schedule which was supposed to take Alberta 's oil to the coasts of British Columbia and that one, the  Gateway Pipeline is in holding pattern as well simply because B. C. wants more than Alberta is offering (levy, etc) and Alberta is not giving that much away. So the current situation in oil industry of Canada is pretty much similar to Iran 's! That country faces sanctions that not only prevents the oil indu

The Seven Wonders

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You probably know about the Seven Wonders of the Word. I do not know them by heart but I guess only one of them exists now. It’s easy to find it on the Internet. Then in the past few years the Modern 7 World Wonders have emerged just to make people entertained and then every country individually started having its own 7 wonders. I was in one of the Canada ’s 7 wonders today. I had seen him previously but I never knew that was one of the wonders so I was surprised when I faced it. That was my East Indian colleague who took me to lunch! It’s passed 10:00 PM and I still cannot believe that. He had told me that we were going and he asked me when I wanted to go. I left it to him to decide so we went to an Indian restaurant. I was really hungry so I helped myself very well. That was rare from someone who had told me earlier that about purchasing a pair of boot from Wal-Mart for $3 . I asked me how someone who does not even want to spend his own money for himself would by me a lunch f

Christmas Party 2012

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It was a bit hard to get to the hotel where the 2012 Christmas party had been held. I started calling the damn cab company at about 04:15 PM and had no success until 06:10 PM that I decided to stop dialing. Then we went down and got the engine started. A taxi cab showed at the door before I have the engine warmed up. So I got out and I asked if he was waiting for someone and apparently he was just dropping his buddy, the day shift guy and had just taken over. So we got lucky and were there not too late. For that, I'm hopping  Checker has a valid answer! How is it possible that I tried their number for over an hour without one single successful connection while their drivers were driving freely around the town! I would be ashamed and reevaluate my entire system. Anyway this year's party felt better to me. I did not have to put up with the assholes that I see them on daily basis in the office. Most of them were not there. The food was good and drinks were flowing! In fact

Camp Life (7): Laundry Room

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The life in the camp has been established in a way that everyone could feel at home and has everything available including laundry. I never used the machines because I didn't want to go through the hassle of hauling my dirty cloths bag to the room and everything. Besides I never stayed very long over there. The problem with the laundry is it is very noisy and it's main door is never shut, like this photo up here. My cell was at least 5 to 6 doors away from the laundry room but I still could hear the zippers and buttons hitting the tub's surfaces! Not to mention the other noises and my cells door was shut of course. Imagine how miserable it could be to the guy who just stays next to the laundry room and the one nest to him/her. I guess if we consider all the other problems at the camp, this one is probably not a major one. When it comes to money, people will put up everything. (Photo: There is a laundry room in every level of each wing but the main floor, I guess bec

Camp Life (6): Working in Cold

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I had heard stories of the temperature going down in northern Canada while people had to work. This time I got the chance to experience it just during the walking. I admit that I did not have much on but the guys who were actually working are covered pretty well. I had a pair of jeans and nothing but a briefs underneath. On the trunk I had a pullover and a regular winter jacket on the top and I had my hard hat and other safety gears on me. If the wind is not blowing, there will be not much problem. When the wind blows then that could be a son of a bitch because it works like a knife on your skin. On one occasion I had to put a Monkey Hat or as some call it here a Balaclava (Not Baklava !) Then you will be fine. Otherwise no work will be done and the whole work should be shut down for 4 months or so! (Photo: Outside temperature reads -28 ° C. This was taken at 09:54 AM and did not have a significant change during the day) 

The 11th Year

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Today marks my 11th year in Canada . There has been bad and good moments, like everyone else but one thing that I wanted to specifically address here in today's post is how many times I have moved so far. The list bellow show the places that I have lived so far: 1- North East Part of Calgary . 2- Downtown Calgary in the vicinity of 17th Ave. SW and 17h A. St. 3- In the neighbourhood of Hubalta Road in South East part of Calgary . 4- In the area of Queensland Dr. of Calgary in South East. 5- Around Chinook Shopping Mall in Calgary , just a few minutes walk. 6- In Coquitlam , British Columbia . That was a big jump! 7- In Squamish , British Columbia , another big jump but not as big as the previous one! 8- Back to Coquitlam , British Columbia for a very short time, may be a month or a little longer. 9- In Surrey , British Columbia . 10- Moved to White Rock , British Columbia . 11- Went Back to Surrey in the same province again! 12- Took a big le

Sleepless After Late Exercise

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I heard many years ago that late physical activities, for instance sport activities or even sex prevents the people from sleeping. I never had such problem until recent days. The day before I went for my running and it was almost 18:30 and few degrees below zero. I was fine during the entire time but when the sleeping time came, my difficulty emerged. Of course the state of mind is very important too, as well as what is eaten and when but this lack of sleep with all involved factors comes to me at times. I once wanted to try something to help me sleep but have not thought about that seriously. (Photo: This is Memorial Dr. in Calgary at the north bank of Bow River in last weekend when I went for running. No problem with sleeping since an early afternoon time had been selected. I did not go today due to the issue explained above)

Automatic Computer

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  I guess there are features if set, your computer would automatically start and runs a program. I have never had one. I was asleep just a few nights back and it was passed midnight. I woke up hearing someone was talking in the living room. I guess it was 03:30 AM or something. I though F. F. was watching something on the computer but at that time of the morning!? No! She was asleep. So I went to the living room and I realized it was a clip of Seinfeld that I probably had watched it earlier last nigh and was minimized! I just do not understand how it had been started! I stopped the clip, minimized the page and put the computer to sleep or turned it off and went back to the bed! I have not found the answer to why the computer started by itself and why the clip ran! (Photo: The main characters of Seinfeld show. I found this nice cartoon on the net and I am hoping its artist does not mind me using it here. There are so much to write about this show. The only thing I would like

Animals in Winter

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We all know that the wildlife get closer to the towns and cities in the winter for food. I experienced one last year in Glenmore Park . Last weakened I went to Nosehill and it was very cold, less than -10 °C and I wanted to have my normal jugging. I realized that it was a little late, not because it was getting dark; I was to pick up F. F. So I started walking up the hills. Just after a few minutes I noticed movement up over the hill. There were a few animals standing there. When I got a bit closer they looked like White Tailed Deer to me. I wanted to take a photo and this time I had my Samsung digital camera on me. This was my last resort because I had lost the Sony which had been with me for over 5 years , but I realized that the batteries were dead! I stated running because I was running out of time and I guess that caused the damn camera falling off my pocket and I lost the second camera in the past 6 months! Anyways I got as close as I could because shortly after I sta

Risking Without Thinking

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There is no doubt that in every business there is an inherent risk. At times I think to myself whether there is a secure job that the person actually can have ease of mind and live in peace!? May be years ago when the world was not in such mess and population was not this big. I can not recall anyone from my family, from both mother's and father's side, ever having any job problem until my generation. Even when I was graduated it was not so hard to find a job that you wanted to stay, regardless of the fact that the salary was barely satisfactory. Now the good jobs are scarce and the stable businesses are not seen easily. A few month back I noticed this new coffee shop in Downtown on my way back home from work. The minute I saw it I realized that it was a bad step taken. A Tim Horton's is just 2 minutes walking distance from it and there is adjacent Mac's which everyone know that supplies coffee as well. Not to mention 17th Ave . where there are tons of coffee s

Clear and Present Danger

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I watched a good movie on DVD after a while finally last week. One of Tom Clancy `s, Clear and Present Danger . Tom Clancy `s stories about a C. I. A. agent could be compared with Jason Bourne series. In the fist ones Jack Ryan is the character but unlike Bourne he's not the guy who has forced to fight against unethical C. I. A. guys. He is a C. I. A. hero who at the end even questions the President and testifies in front of the Senate . In fact I bought two movies: The Bourne Ultimatum and the the one made based on Clancy 's novel with Harrison Ford . You can not compare Ford and Demon because they play different roles in the two movies. Ford as Ryan is a PH. D. holder who is a director in C. I. A. while Demon as Bourne is a field operative. The style of the actors are also different and that could be because of their timing. Ford has played major roles in many movies and most if not all are commercially successful. I can not even imagine who much money h

Freezing Fog

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  Alberta `s weather has different phenomenas at different times of the year. From the hail storms of the summer to the freezing fogs of fall. It is supposed to be fall now but snow is everywhere and the temperature has fallen to -12 °C . More snow is in the forecast and the weekend will be colder. Last weekend we had a little ride in the Calgary and the visibility was very limited in the northeastern part of the city. This gives the area a mysterious situation. (Photo: This shows the intersection of Memorial Dr. and 36 St. NE. Marlborough Mall is supposed to be seen from here but only it sign appears)

Camp Life (5): The Cells

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The life in the camps resemble concentration camps, labour camps or Gulag s, whichever you want to name it. Many might night be familiar with the last term. I am going to provide a little explanation here. Gulag in a Russian acronym for Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies or in case there are Russian readers: Гла́вное управле́ние исправи́тельно-трудовы́х лагере́й и коло́ний ! Those labour camps where spreaded all across the former Soviet Union for almost 30 years. It is said that almost 1 millions were died as of the hard condition of those camps which were all closed in 1960 . Whether this these camp and the other similar camps will reach that death tool or not is a different question but the death of people would not be as a result of excessive hard labour, cold temperature and lack of food. It would be because of excessive smoking, old food contaminated with all sorts of preservatives and chemicals and obesity and it gradually kills the majority

Camp Life (4): Unbelievable Amount of Waste

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One of the significant features of Western society, more specifically Canadian society is the amount of waste that you see on daily bases on almost every aspect of life. It was almost the same in the old country when I used to live there. I don`t know about now that people are mostly struggling for the end`s meat. One of the very popular ones that I actually heard it once with my own ears from one retarded was “ the car vomited” and they use it when they fill up the tank so much that gasoline actually pumps out of the gas and spills all over. The price of gasoline in the country which is one of the top 5 exporters of oil and gas products was very cheap. It is not that much now. Also it was amazing that how much bread people waste on daily basis, at least in the city that I was born and grew up. There were peddlers who practically bought those wasted, old bread from you and would sell it to farmers(!) I heard once. Strange flow of material! You spend millions of dollar to prepar

1 to 1:63 Ratio

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1 to 1.63 is the debt ratio in Canada now. It means for every dollar that people make, on average, they spend $1.63. It is more than 1.5 times. Too much but not me! It is said that when the economy collapsed in the US in 2008 the ratio was 1 to 1.70. We are close. I don`t know what the role of Government would be here. Is this enough just to broadcast it once in a year in a TV news show like CBC which is barely watched by anyone? The Government is elected and appointed by people to govern them. That, I believe is the role of the Government . At least it is said in the Western democracy.  The Government of Canada keeps saying that they have strong banking system. May be. May be not. What strong banking system it is that they give loan to someone after a year and half working to buy a $650,000 house! I do not know that system as strong. I know that system as unwise. There is no doubt that the greedy banks think of the money that they can make out of these guys but when the mark

XL Fools for Fools

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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 African s from torn the part eastern African countries, mostly Muslim s. 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 Bank s 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, Honda s and apartments, lik

Camp Life (3): Great Ideas of the Intellectuals

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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 Roughneck s. 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. Canadian s 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

Camp Life (2): All You Can Breathe

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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 s

Argo

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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 al

Camp Life (1): Disgusting Eating Habits

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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 w

11 Days of Camp Life

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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 w

The Thanksgiving's Turkey

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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 American s 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 s

Flying with Air Canada after 11 Years

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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 co

The APEGA Opportunity

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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 t

Couscous Meals

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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. Salad s. 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

XL Foods (XL Fools)

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There is a long time problem with the beef industry in Canada and most specifically Alberta and apparently it comes from the processors not the producers and this is not the first time but seems now the CFIA is waking up and wants to do something about it. The poor ranchers, I believe, are the ones who suffered the most. Their loss was something around $2 Billion last time. I worked in cattle industry for nearly 4 years and I used to see the   CFIA guys all the time. There were there and they had an office there but I can not tell if they were doing their job! If I refer to my old post, you will see that I have written 1 out of 3000 cattle gets inspected here in Alberta while in France this inspection is 100%. As a Quality expert I know that the smaller the sample, the less trusty the result will be. For a big population of cows in Alberta , for sure the number of inspected ones in every processing plan should be increased in order to obtain the good result. Rather than that

Short Trip to Edmonton

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I had a short trip to Edmonton yesterday which was very tiring but overall positive. I was there for the Steel Day and visiting one big manufacturing facility in the industrial district of Edmonton . It was a bit silly because I had to wake up at 05:00 AM and if it was not because of the Hodani 's GPS , I would have been lost and never made it on time! I am not going to name the company that was hosting the event but it was well organized and rather than a few small flaws, the people were very friendly and polite. We spent only an hour and a half in there and at the end there was a Pizza truck that we could get two slices of Pizza but I preferred not to stay in the line. Instead I had a short drive around the Downtown area and walked in Queen Elizabeth Park at the south shore of North Saskatchewan River . I had two other short stops and because I had to return the damn stupid car. It was a very hot and sunny that and UV rate was so high. For that I really suffered. Then

Wild Mushrooms

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If you are used to hiking you probably have seen wild mushrooms grown in the jungle under trees and everywhere else, depending on where you are. Some of these mushrooms are toxic and not edible of course. Trying to eat them raw or cooked has no consequence less than a painful death. You have to know how to distinguish toxic mushrooms from the good ones. Then you can go and pick mushrooms. F. F. told me once that a colleague, an old East European , possibly a Russian lady once told that they normally go to pick mushroom. Although she never told her where they usually go, she said that they could tell good from bad because where they lived there was basically nothing to eat but wild mushroom and what they would do, in the few mild months of year, was mushroom picking and storing them for winter because the winter was so cold they could not find anything to eat and had to live on mushroom. I don't know what part of Russia or Eastern Europe  she comes form but this story is the