Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gen. Schwarzkopf Passed Away

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 highly recommended. It's one of those book which never gets old. Schwarzkopf was 78.
(Photo: Schwarzkopf with his family in Tehran, his two sister, Mom and Dad. There is a Persian carpet on the floor and a Persian rug on the wall. As well a hand-crafted table cloth from Isfahan on the coffee table as well as other Iranian handicrafts. Schwarzkopf was between 11 and 13 at the time, I guess)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fatal Cold

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 and long winter cold.
(Photo: An ice sculpture in Confederation Park. There is beautiful lighting in there but I could not see all because I was about to get frozen. I will probably post photos later. The new camera is not so bad, I guess. Worth the price)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Are Oil Sands Projects Screwed?

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 industry from investing and renewal but also does not let them to export as much as normally is done.
I even heard the oil sand recently has been sold for $45 a barrel while the conventional oil is around $90 a barrel. I don't know how transporting goods could affect the price of an item this much! It could be possibly because of not being able to meet delivery date deadlines.
I also noticed the day before that the price of gasoline has gone down significantly and below $1 for every litre and that I can say happened for the first time since summer of 2010, as far back as I remember. While the temperature is too low now, currently around -17 °C and considering windchill it feels around -24 °C (I was out walking for about 20 minutes!) and snowfall has caused issues in many European countries, it is not known why the price of oil has gone so low.
So this is another reason that no one is immune to the economy here in Canada. I feel bad for the dickheads who just after a year and a half working bought houses for $650,000 and up and have to pay mortgage for the next 35 to 40 years. In a way I don't feel bad for them because that's what is going to happen to suckers! How guarantees a job for 35 years here in Canada? Wal-Mart may be does that!
(Photo: Two maps here the one on the left shows the Gateway Pipeline which goes through northern Alberta and British Columbia and the one on the right, the XL Keystone which is supposed to take the oil of Alberta to the south coast of the US to feed the refineries)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Seven Wonders

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 for $15 but did not find any answer for that! I will have to do that for him, most probably in 2013.
(Photo: The great pyramid of Giza, which I don't know which one it is(!), apparently is the only wonder left from the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. It has been only 2010 that I thought of having a trip but just shortly after my decision the country erupted and to this date has not seen peace yet)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Party 2012

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 I drank too much. This time after a few glasses of red and white wine I tried Whiskey on rocks and it was very good before the dinner because my stomach was empty and I felt overjoyed and relaxed! I tired it several more times after the dinner and was not bad. The bartender once gave me a shot of Bourbon and that was awful and I told her that. So she switched back to my regular! We danced a bit and chatted and unlike last year we left at around 11:40 PM. I got lucky that I did not throw up because after we got home I felt really bad in my stomach and could not sleep for a few hours! My mouth was dried because of too much alcohol I had drunk, I guess! But I managed top control a major flow of puke!
(Photo: The main entrance of the hotel where the party was held)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Camp Life (7): Laundry Room

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 because I only lived in the second and third floor when I was there. They have brand new big machines)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Camp Life (6): Working in Cold

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)