Friday, April 25, 2014

Tradition of Seed Growing

A little more than a month has passed since the Iranian New Year, Norooz, was celebrated. Not that we celebrated it largely but didn't forget it either. One of the traditions which starts before the Norooz, which is the first day in Iranian calendar, starts is growing a seed. This seed could be Wheat, Lentil or any other thing but I think it is limited to 3 or at the most 4 different types. 
We had not done that for a few year and this year The Lady decided to have some. I guess she grew 3 different plates, with 2 different seeds. Growing a seed outside soil requires great attention. Adding enough water, putting a damp cloth on the seeds for a specific length of time and checking on it every night. Eventually the result was good and we had a green nicely grown plate of seeds at Norooz time. The unlike the tradition we decided to cut the stems and leaves every few days and add them to our salad! The result was good! Tasty and healthy. 
Just a few days after that I saw a couple of people in Co-Op selling almost the same things! They had small boxes, probably a quarter the size of our plate with all different sorts of seed grown in them. They were selling them for $4.99 each! It is expensive but it's understandable that some intend to be rich overnight! A few days later I saw the same boxes this time each was selling for $2.99 and still were sitting there! I don't think people have a clear idea as how they should use these ones on daily basis. They had started going yellow and they will be all gone in a few days. But it would probably make a good business if the majority of people cares about what they eat! 
(Photo: Leaves and stems of wheat, it should be is cut and put in a pot and stored in the refrigerator for daily usage)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Cursed Pipe: XL

The approval for the construction of the pipeline which takes Alberta's oil to the Gulf of Mexico is postponed by the US Government again. It obviously is not a good news for Albertans as well as all of Canada. The new Premier of Alberta and the Prime Minister both expressed their concerns and disappointment. There are other impacts of this decision. One important one is the grain growers' concerns. If there's no pipeline then the oil should be transferred via rail and that means no locomotive for grins to be moved and exported out of the country. I do not have good statistics but I know for a fact that Canadian grains and seeds get exported to all over the world and interruption to this could either to loss of market or people going hungry!
But what affect this might have in all those Oil Sands extraction projects? The producer might want to slow down a bit and that means lay offs and slower economy for the country. The aftermath of this will be huge, like a Tsunami!
(Photo: One of many grain elevators in Alberta and the train wagons. That is how Canada's products are transported to the ports and then from there to the world)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Highway 22 (North of Highway No. 1)

When you look at the newly available Google Maps with all the information you think it is a complete map that could be used as a reference for almost everything. Outside the cities and towns normally what's shown is nature and what's related to it such as forests, stream, lakes and such as well as roads of different kinds. At times you see other information such as airport or so. I was looking at the area that town of Sundre is located yesterday and studies the road. I wanted to go there to see how it would be to get to Maze Peak later on. I took Crowchild Tr. and I have to say that after years of living here I had never traveled at that side of the City and beyond it and I was amazed! First off Crowchild is connected to Bow Valley Tr. when the city limit is ended! I never knew that and then as you turn on 22 and the magnificent view of the Rockies are in front, you see many big mansions all around HWY 22 built on acreages. That's when you realize where rich people live! You continue more to north and of course the map has not shown anything to you but there are farms after farms and ranches after ranches. Also pump jacks are seen occasionally and apparently the majority of them belong to Pengrowth, the company that Saddledome had its name with it until only a few years back. Other different businesses also are occasionally seen. You barely see any sedan on the road. Majority of the people drive big trucks and only few have small cars. I assume considering the weather in this area and the life style a small car does not work for them much.
I had driven for hours just the day before and I had never been a driver. Driving makes me so tired. So on the road I had to let everyone go as I don't drive fast. I also like to stop frequently and see things while I drive. For that reason I didn't go past Sundre. It is a small town that seemed very quiet and being Easter I guess most of people were busy with the families. Beside the season does not help the nature yet to make the road pleasant to drive. So I let the adventure to happen another time when everywhere is green. Here are a few businesses I found them advertising on the road and I may check them later:
1- Buckler Farms. For Saskatoon Berries and related products
2- Bergen Farmers Market. 9 KM off Highway No. 22 to west. Produce and fruit, I would say.
3- Solstice Farms. Saskatoon Berries and alike.
4- A meadery that I forgot the name but it's easy to find.
5- Bronze by Gina.
All of the above have website and easily accessible through the available roads.
(Photo: One of many ranches on Highway No. 22. I wonder if fresh beef could be purchased from any of them)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Southern Alberta (Vulcan, Lethbridge, Milk River)

I had been planning for the long weekend of Apr. for about 3 weeks! A few first options had to be cancelled due to weather issues. Chinese Wall, Ptarmigan Tunnel and Cyrpt Lake were the first three plans which had been all put aside due to closures and amount of snow in the related area.
I eventually picked Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park and decided to check a few things before reaching there. Was not a very vise idea as you are about to see:
I wanted to start early to be able to see as much as possible. Another reason is I stop frequently both for rest and photography. As well I do not drive fast. So I left home between 05:45 and 06:00 AM it was, I think. My first stop was the Town of Volcan. But why a small Prairie town in the middle of Province?
I encounter the information in regards to this place in Google Maps although I have never been a die hard fan of Star Trek, I decided to visit the place. When I was a little in the old country and of course before the devastating Islamic Revolution which threw the country back to the Dark Ages I vaguely remember that the original Star Trek with William Shatner and Leonard Nemoi was being broadcasted. It was dubbed like all of the foreign movies and series so we kids in the school pretended we were Star Trek crew and we played the game. That's all I remember and this line: Spock. Do you copy? and of course and I would like to insist that was dubbed. The theme is another thing that I remember and I really liked it. Here after more than 12 years of living I never saw any movie or bought any DVD of the franchise. I must add that the series had been renamed to The Pioneers of the Space for the ease of audience I guess but one would ask the logic behind that. Of course it makes more sense if you see the difference in two languages. Anyways Vulcan is apparently is one of the world that Enterprise, the spaceship which carries the Star Trek crew, encounters in one of its countless voyages and it's a coincidence that a small rural community in central Alberta has the same name. 
One of numerous grain elevators in Alberta. This one on Highway 23 in Country of Vulcan
I thought it should be cool to visit the town specially when I realized that there is an Enterprise model and a Trek Center. The model is not as big as I originally thought but was not very disappointing either. I didn't see the Trek Center because I was early. I was there around 08:30 AM and the Trek Center would not open until 09:00. Plus I would have had to purchase something, Had I been to the place and I didn't want to so I just took a few photos and left the town with the hope that I visit it again later to take a photo of everything at night. I will like different and nice. And maybe I can manage my shyness and visit the place too. But did I get to the town? There is this exit on Highway 2 that takes you to Vulcan, easily could be found in any map. There was barely any car on the road may be 8 all the way to there and on both directions but when I headed for Lethbridge the road got busier. So Lethbridge was my second stop on my way to the park although I had not planned for that. The road was at a few spots so foggy that I had to slow down. Visibility was limited to 10 m. at times. Southern Alberta is all about vast farms, ranches and grain elevators. I passed a few giant one with trains lined up beside them. That's how they transport the grain. I made two stops in Lethbridge: I had a little walk beside the amazing 1909 train bridge over the valley of Old Man River first. It is the highest bridge of its kind in the world and just to prove to me that it still is working perfectly after 105 year a train arrived and passed over the valley. It was going so slow and I guess it was a precautionary measure. I was so stunned on the ground looking at the long train. It had so many cars that when the main locomotive reached the other side of the valley, the rest of the train had covered the enitre bridge and extended to the other side. I could not even imagine being the conductor of the train, in his little seat more than 95 meters above the bed of the river! I looked much higher form where I was standing. It requires lots of guts to go over an one hundred-year-old structure in that height! I then stopped in the town to grab something to eat before hitting Highway 4 to reach Milk River.
A train is passing over Old Man River Valley and through High Level Bridge in Lethbridge. It was breathtaking seeing the courage of men and also engineering used more than 105 years ago and still efficient today. Happily what had happened earlier to Quebec Bridge never occurred here.
It is about 40 km to the Writing-On-Stones Provincial Park from the town of Milk River. I have to say that I was disappointed to see this park. There was actually no carving on the stones by Native people. What I saw was the graffiti by the stupid thoughtless people over the eroding rocks. Although Government of Alberta has spend enough money to build a nice Information Center, picnic benches, information boards and everything else but just the issue with the history being destroyed is very heartbreaking. The other problem was choosing the wrong time of the visit. Had this visit done in June or even May, I guess I would have seen a much better scenery. But I was able to see the snow-capped Sweet Grass Hills. They are located in Montana and a good spot for a light, I would say day hike in future. Other problem and that was mine was being tired. I woke up very early and the long drive and the short hike in Helen Schuler Nature Reserve in Lethbridge had made me tired. The crowd was unexpectedly high and the information center was closed. The problem in Canadian parks is this stupid campground thing that makes the place miserable and unbearable. Noisy and busy. People mostly don't care about the nature. They destroy everything. In my opinion the Dinosaur Provincial Park that we visited last year was a better choice. However I would like to stress that all of the above factors were added up to make it not a very pleasant trip. In addition to that I was by myself. Had I have The Lady with me, it would certainly have been a better trip. Although I should not forget that her physical abilities are limited. I headed back to Milk River after about 30 to 45 minutes in there. I really wanted to do a long hike and at least cross Milk River but I was so tired to do so.

This plaque is put below the Enterprise model in town of Vulcan. Kligon is a character in Star Trek and this is its language. You can see the snow build up on the top of plaque. It was cold and slippery when I got there
I had to struggle with tiredness and sleepiness all the way back to Calgary. I stopped in Lethbridge again for a cup of coffee from McDonald's and couple of Hershey Pies from Burger King just to stay awake and then headed to Fort Macleod, a different route from the one I took in the morning. I wanted to take a few photos of the Wind Farm in the town but then I thought I would do that when I'm going to Montana in June, most likely and then decided to see Head-Smashed-Buffalo-Jump and headed that way but the giant board on the highway had a Closed Today below it so I pushed the gas and drove north. Even the famous real Fort Macleod in the town had this Closed for Season sign when I was driving by. I made a few stops and regardless of the strong wind, I got out and walk for a few steps to help me awake. By 08:30 PM I was back to the City. Generally the travel season in Canada is very short. If you really want to enjoy, you must travel between late May-early June and late August which is the busiest time and everyone is out. The only solution would be getting up early, seeing what you like and getting back. That is possible for natural attractions, mostly. As well as hike and climbing but not for other attraction that you need to pay admission. They open mostly when the majority of people are ready to visit, not the early birds! 
(Photo, Top: Writing-On-Stone-Provincial Park with Milk River running to east in the back)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Delusion Over the Weather

Just when everyone thought that spring has arrived the new forecast showed a few days of mix of rain and snow. It started when we were going to the C. O. P. last night and turned into snow by the time we arrived there. Then when I went to get the car this morning, I realized that I had to scrape the frozen snow off the windshield and windows. I could not just simply brush them off. 
The snow continued falling until the evening with a few short breaks. Maybe it's still snowing but it was not cold. Even the wind was not bad. 
(Photo: Snow in morning had covered the ground, buildings and everything else to a minimum of 1 cm)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Skating at C. O. P.

We started a skating learning course in C. O. P. today. It was a good start, I should say. There were not many people and the trainees were divided based on their skills. We practiced everything we already knew but the instructor helped us get better. I practiced Backward Skating and Backward Bubble and my improvement was significant after the tips given by the instructor.
So the first impression was good and it was not as bad as what some have say. There was an error and that was the forms we had to sign. They were not the ones they had e-mailed us but we still were able to reach at the rink on time. The route map they had sent was helpful as well of other instruction. So, again, the first session went really well and we learnt and we had fun. I fell once on my left knee and had a little pain and that was when we were asked to practice Hockey Stop but rather than that there was no other issue. 
Winsport part of the C. O. P. has a few rinks that Hockey is also thought and practice. The Hockey Hall of Fame is also there and we may go to visit one day.
(Photo: People are practicing Hockey in another rink. Here a puck is deflected and coming towards the camera while the shooter is turning back)

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Separatism is Condemned, Everywhere

There was this news that made me very happy: The Quebec separatist/racist party is defeated and the leader has resigned! I don't know how people can show their faces and announce that they would tear the country apart by making their territory, province or anything a separate and autonomous state! I mean what the hell was she thinking?! The example of all the countries who were together and now are tiny little of cat pow in the map should be a good example of them. Should it not? Look what happened to former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan which was on the verge of being cut to pieces after years of civil war. Look at the Korean Peninsula and what happened to former Soviet Union? Are any of them better off now!? 
Canada was started with Quebec and Quebec will remain a part of forever. 
We had and still have same stupid claims in the old country and that's actually not in one corner but a few different parts. It is certain that the government discriminates against minorities but that's no reason to pick up a rifle and spread terror in the country by kidnapping and killing.
I early 80s, right after the Revolution, many small and big groups used the opportunity, grabbed a rifle or a grande and started being a separatist. Kurds in the west, Turkmens in north eastern part, Arabs in south west and Balooches in south east. I guess the Kurds were the most serious since they have been fighting for independence in three countries of Iran, Iraq and Turkey since the First World War! The government answered that with napalms and beat the shit of them! Also it is claimed that many kids, women and elderly, more specifically civilians were killed but they killed as many military servicemen as they could. They killed young soldiers who were serving a two years compulsory service of the country. It's also claimed that the Hanging Judge issued many death verdicts both in Kurdestan and Gonbad area. I actually listened to an interview of him with BBC some 10 years ago and when he was asked why the people were mascaraed for their request to be independent his answer was simply " Because the country should stay unified "! I don't know the magnitude of the killings but people in the old country must have all forgotten these few starting years of after the revolution. Even the Hanging Judge was isolated and forgotten in his last years of life. He died shortly after my immigration in 2003. Whether he did something good for the country or he was a murderer? Many may ask this question from themselves. Maybe not many but in my opinion his answer was a good one: The country should remain unified. But of course using force is not acceptable. In this case, as said, the separatists were armed and were doing anything to gain their request. 
(Photo: Ayatollah [Islamic clergyman] Sadegh Khalkhli in military uniform on left. This of course is not how the Islamic Shea Clergymen dress but it seems to a photo from the time that he led parts of the operation in Kurdistan province in west of the country in early 80s. It is claimed that he is responsible for killing many kurds. On right the fool leader of Quebec separatist party Pauline Marois who resigned after defeated in the recent election, last Mon. Both of them are extrimists: Khalkhali to use excessive force to wipe the separatists out and Marois in using foolish idea and application of Hitler-like speeches!)

Monday, April 07, 2014

Troubled PC

My desktop is down again and I'm writing these with my 7 year old Toshiba laptop which at times could be as slow as molasses! I took it to Best Buy and asked them to transfer the available files to an external hard drive and haven't tried it yet. I didn't ask them to fix the computer though. We decided to buy a or maybe two new computers of different kinds but haven't found what fits our best yet.
I really don't know what caused this time's problem but I transferred a few photos and contacts to my old iPod Nano and after that worked with a PC for a few hours. The next approach was completely unsuccessful. I was not able to run the operating system. So here I'm now writing on this old machine and the good side of this is my time on computer has significantly decreased! If I only could use this opportunity and do something positive and productive with my time, that would be great!