Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Another Crucial Step: The Third Interview

Two months went by until I got another message for the position I've applied a long time ago and number of its crucial stages have been passed. This time it was another interview, the third one(!) but on a different subject. For that I had to travel to another city and considering that I try to avoid putting too many kilometers on my vehicle, I rented a car. 
This was quite similar to the interview I had more than 2 years ago in British Columbia for a position that I didn't get it. It's hard to say what the outcome of this would be but I was honest and chatty! Tried not to forget anything and have no contradiction with the previously provided information. The whole process took 01:40 hours. The interviewer said, at the end, that she did not see any problem but still needed to receive the result of two other evaluations from two other organizations and then she could send the recommendation to the employer. I know nothing would happen in the next 2 months and less and than a quarter(!) left from the year. The question though is would I be called at least in Jan. or Feb. because I'm fed up with this stupid job and the related life. Being called does not mean that I will start right away. There still would be a stage to pass and then the long training! I will be ready for that though, I'm sure because that would be  my last chance of the life time. 
(Photo: The lady who interviewed me, unlike this one in the picture, never smiled. Not that I'm surprised or anything because I know how this type of interview work)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Good Gathering

I was invited to this group gathering for the volunteer work few months ago. All the cost would have been covered by the organization, if someone had lived outside the city. I, though, missed the first day because my flight got cancelled. I got to enjoy other things but missed the some others. The seminar was not bad. There were mostly nice people but as there always is an as*hole everywhere, this little group was not an exempt! I don't know why I even mention disgusting creatures such as that ugly Latino female! It's probably because I intend to show my disgust! Stupid and shallow people like that are very easy to come by here in this country! People who didn't even have bread to eat and now after using all the benefit the Government has given them, forgot who they were and where they come from, taking about years that they have been supervisor and manager! 
I also happen to see the guy who bugged me a few times with his irritating and sometimes irrational comments. He, an old East Indian, was OK though. I kind of liked him, to be honest. He actually is very good at what he does. He's very skillful and confident as well as prompt in responding. I, too, was approached by two guys who said they had read my name from the message sent to everyone regarding the person who contributed the most. There was a small group work which came out nicely. However the nature of this work requires people to work individually. That's when you focus and try to be creative.  There was actually another pile of stinking s*it in the group. The fool left in the middle of work without even saying goodbye to anyone. An inconsiderate, stupid, self-centered moron, who thinks she's better than many simply because she's earned a freaking degree from a certain school in the old country, I realized! There are thousands of them everywhere! 
Overall it was not a bad experience. I think the organization does that as a sign of appreciation for volunteers. The people had been taken to a dinner the night that I was absent, something quite similar to what we enjoyed two years ago. They intend to keep people on because at least two of the guys that I saw the last time were not amongst the new group.
(Photo: this picture could be attacked as sexist(!) as all characters at the table are portraited as male! That is not my intention though! Even our get together was not quite like this and not just because we had female members! Nevertheless I decided to use this for the post)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

An Interview in the Anniversary

I was invited to an interview exactly after a year of starting this so-called surviving job of mine. I had very low expectations for receiving a call and I didn't! Instead I received an e-mail from their head office in the US for the interview. However it was clear that they had lots of candidates as different time of different days were suggested to me. I coincidentally selected the anniversary date! 
The location is just less than 5 minutes drive from where I work now. So it wasn't hard although I went home, changed and came back! I made up a story so I could leave at a good time. 
There were two people, a Caucasian woman and an East Indian man. With what's available these days, it's not very hard to find who is what. However I was only able to find about the woman. It was a simple interview with only one technical question being asked by the fella. I knew a little bit about that. So I told him that I didn't know much in detail. The other questions were general as what I had done and I guess I provided good answers to all. At the end I was asked about my salary expectations and my availability. For the first one I told them that I would be OK with whatever the company offers and the market's norm is. For the latter I said that I didn't need any notice to give, although I am but I think I will be able to manage that if there's a need. The East Indian guy, nodded most of the time, like a Goat(!) as he was most likely stupid enough not to be able to ask a question properly! What amazes me the most is these guys all have difficulty speaking English while coming from a country which its official language is English and they all have this fancy and fake degrees! 
I was told that it would take up to two weeks to have the results in. The woman also added if I was available to travel. I said I was. I will follow up with them when the time is on.
(Photo: I took this picture when I came down from Door Jamb Mountain in a very smokey day. This is a mountain goat if I'm not mistaken. I used this because I believe that I always should use a picture for my posts and it should somehow relate to the subject, of course! Domesticated goat is used frequntly in Indian sub-continent for meal considering that Hindus don't eat beef and other types of meat are probably more expensive. I referred to the behaviour of the East Indian guy as the way a goat nods! That's a common expression in Persian! Means nothing to Caucasians and others in North America but it's a fact that at times if you're in presence of a goat, it gazes at you and even you might feel that it nods! I also remember the day that I was in Plateau Mountain with this East Indian fella coworker of mine, originally from Muzaffarnegar. We encountered a big herd of goat and they followed us to make sure we're leaving their territory! I'm certain of that! This stupid fella was freaked out and took a small knife and tried to defend us! I told him that it was OK. I was standing calmly and taking photos and one of the goats was gazing at me, watching every move, making sure that I'm not harming the female and young ones. I thought should mention this here as well)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Won for the Second Consecutive Month

I was in Pahrump, Nevada where I submitted my monthly volunteer work to the organization. I didn't have much hope for winning but it was there, after only a few days, that I realized that I had won! It was a good feeling because I wanted to have a good impression shortly before our seminar. In fact two of the participants pointed at my wins by saying that they had read my name, a few times, as someone who had submitted the most number of items with the highest quality. The thing that these guys don't know is that I have been out of the circle for a quite long time and despite all of my efforts haven't been able to get back. I will write more in the next post about our seminar.
(Photo: This is the place I was staying. Pahrump is a small but beautiful unincorporated(!) town which is a perfect spot for staying if you've planned to enjoy some of the best hikes that states of Nevada and California offer. In fact I'm planning to go back next year, if everything goes well, and do 2 or 3 hikes in the area but I don't ignore the fact that the City of Las Vegas also offers lots of fun, in addition to gambling which I do not partake, and I will stay there for e a few days for sure)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Airliner Tries to Compensate

I received a message from the airliner which caused us all anguish by cancelling the return trip. Although it was very stressful and disturbing, after a nice hike and a few relaxing days, I got to go home by a direct flight, instead of going through Vancouver and also I got to stay one night in a nice hotel and get myself familiar with Las Vegas in case I would go back. I will! 
The airliner gave, all of us I assume, a sort of points which we could use for the next trip. While it might not seem much but it's good. I believe that they didn't have to do that because they already have given us a very nice hotel room, meals, etc. It's nice and appreciated and I will use it, hopefully in 2019.  

Monday, October 08, 2018

Stuck in the Meadow (Las Vegas!)

I left Pahrump early enough to make sure that I reach McCarran International on time, especially because I had selected an economy car, which by the way was useless for such a trip, and then I thought there would be issues with returning the car or getting to the gate but really there was no issue at all. I reached Las Vegas without any problem. bought gas, followed the GPS and reached the return center. The Enterprise guy was nice enough to ignore a, probably, few liters that I was low. I then got on the designated shuttle and went to Terminal 3. That was where the disaster started!
The airliner kept postponing the damn flight from 12:30 to 14:30! I was so tired as a lack of sleep near Death Valley(!) and had pain in my right ankle and foot, due to lack of hydration and eating cheap, processed food and barely could move. They eventually canceled the damn flight around 15:00 hours, I guess, it was and sent us all back to the ticketing center! Over there I was issued a ticket back to Calgary (which was great for me because my return ticket was not a direct one!) for the next day at 08:20 hours and we all also were given vouchers for dinner, snack and tomorrow's breakfast as well as the overnight stay at The South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas!
For me it was not very pleasant because I was suffering form that excruciating pain but at least gave me the chance to have some rest as well as seeing part of Las Vegas vacation, the thing people die for here in North America! South Point Hotel and Casino, as the name suggests, is located in southern part of The City of Las Vegas meaning it is away from the glory(!) of Las Vegas Boulevard but I think that is a good place for resting, which was my main purpose and would be my main purpose when I travel to Las Vegas again. The place is huge. It's probably even bigger than The Parliament! I was given a huge clean and nice room with a double bed, air conditioning (which I turned it off the second I found where the control panel was!), coffee table, computer table and flawless bathroom. Unfortunately I was not in the mode to enjoy the room. I was exhusted and in pain. I didn't even shower because I had showered in Pahrump. So I just grabbed the vouchers and headed down the main floor. I was on the 4th which is good in a way as that expedites your travel but for the next time, if I'm staying at this hotel, I would book a room at the north side and as high floor as possible.
This part of the casino did not seem to be very busy. I wonder if it was due to the time of the day or the day of the week
It was interesting to me to see a legal casino for the first time. There are of course casinos in where I live but since I'm not a gambler, I've never been interested to go in. In fact we went in once only and that was when The Chef directed me as he goes to these places often. I guess I only used the restroom at the time!
Here this is to show that Nevada is not just for adult entertainment. It offers great photography and hiking opportunities and I will go there again to enjoy the both. This is near Red Rock Canyon just minutes drive from Las Vegas
The place is magnificent and reminded me of the movie Casino! It has several eating areas (different types of restaurants) and several sections for gambling of different kind. I'm not familiar with the terms and how different games are played but I can say that there were sections for professional sport, horse racing, Poker and that's it! I didn't know anything else about all the other sections! I wandered around and took a few photos but before starting, I checked with a security guard. He told me that I was free to take photos as longs as they were not from the cashier and a few other places which I don't recall now! The cashier definitely reminded me of that scene in Casino which is called Cheater's Justice! There're these guys who work together to cheat on a game and Ace (De Niro) finds out. He orders security guys to poke the guy with something like a cattle probe! When the guy is shocked and on the floor, the security guys take him to the back and threaten him with a Circular Saw! They break his fingers instead and then bring his partner in. De Niro offers him the money he has won by cheating (they caught him at the cashier when he was trying to cash his chips) with having the same happens to his fingers or walking away! He takes walking! De Niro let him go with this condition that he has to tell his buddies not to come back here anymore! Then orders the security guys to throw the other guy to the back alley and tell the cops that he has been hit by a car! He was hit by a car and the only parts of his body which was injured were his right hand's fingers!
My Turkey Sandwich and its Coleslaw side salad
After taking a tour of the area I decided to eat something as I was starving. I had breakfast almost 12 hours prior to that and then a few Guavas which I had purchased from Wal-Mart in Pahrump for lunch. I went to this place called Coronado Café. After being seated, I took a look at the long menu and ordered a Turkey Sandwich on Whole Grain. The order was brought quickly, meaning they do not put too much effort into that. I believe in the US, generally, quality of food is sacrificed for its quantity. The sandwich was not bad. It was tasty, somehow, but it was clear that its ingredients were old! The side Lettuce and Olives were way old and the side Coleslaw was even worse! I rarely eat out and when I do I try to adopt myself to what is available but after two teaspoons of the side salad I was disgusted by the taste and put it aside. I finished the sandwich though and I have to say that it was quite filling. Since I still had credit on my vouchers I decided to order something else although I was not very hungry(!) but I thought since I have to wake up early for the flight, perhaps I can accumulate calories and skip the breakfast. So I asked the waitress, who was by the way an Asian woman (possibly Filipino, like most of the staff) to bring the menu to me again. I'd like to add here that the majority of the labour hotel staff were from Hispanic and Southeast Asian background. Caucasians were amongst the managers, security guards and other staff of the same level, generally.
I ordered a BLT Sandwich one the same type of bread for the second round and added a slice of Blueberry Pie with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream at the side for desert. Bad Idea! The sandwich was cold and the Bacon was hard! It felt like it had just been thawed to the room temperature and didn't even bothered to be warmed! The dam pie was the worst of all three meals! There was a purple, gooey stuff in between the pastry which barely tasted like Blueberry! The Ice Cream was OK. I guess the total bill was nearly US $25 which is equivalent to almost CAN $32 but of course was covered by my two $15 vouchers! 
I then took another walk to help digest all the food I had eaten. That was where an incredible aroma of Coffee attracted me to a corner! It was Seattle's Best! This brand of Coffee is served in some places in Canada but I don't recall ever smelling such great Coffee anywhere but in one store in the old country which I believe owned by Armenians. Unfortunately it was to late for me to drink Coffee. I decided to go toward the elevator as I had to wake up at 05:00 to catch the hotels shuttle. This is another benefit of travelling to the meadows! Many hotels have shuttles which takes you to and from hotel and I imagine to the parts of the city as well.
Seattle's Best Coffee Bar in the hotel. I wish I had gotten a cup in the morning!
But why did I call the city, the meadows?! Las Vegas in fact is a Spanish terms which means meadows. We know that the Spaniards were amongst the first who arrived in what today is know as the US. A Mexican merchant on his way to Los Angles from New Mexico arrived at the meadows and stayed for water. He used the term to identify the area and the name remains the same today for the city which has more than 500,000 habitants! The bed was comfortable and there was not much noise in the corridor but some in the back. I was too tired to go to check it but it was mainly because I went to bed too early, around 21:00. There was not a peep later during the night but I didn't have a good sleep because of my pain which is a separate issue and don't want to bring it to this trip's story. I'm hoping another opportunity presents itself and I get to go to Las Vegas! I know it very much sounds not like me but I have great hiking in mind and I will combine that with great photography and dining in the city. I guess I'm going to stay there for a week or even 10 freaking days!
(Photo, top: The Old Spanish Trail map. It's obvious to someone like me who has been to Arizona why they had to go around to the north, to Utah and come back down to Nevada to get themselves to Los Angles. That's because of the geological status of northern Arizona and southern Utah which is occupied by the Grand Canyon and Colorado River)

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Las Vegas a Year after the Massacre

I arrived at Las Vegas one year after the shooting which left many innocent people dead but did not have a chance to visit it until the 4th. I always wondered what it was about Las Vegas that made people to spend hours of their life and thousands of dollars of their money there. What does gambling have. I finally find out: The city itself, or should be said, the Las Vegas Boulevard, is amazing! I just drove through and all the billboards, hotels, restaurants, statues and everything made me think that I should come back one day and see everything closely and take pictures. Hell's Kitchen and Trump Hotel were amongst the buildings which caught my eyes but there are many more to the city. You could stay at expensive hotels or stay at the cheap ones. You could buy cheap souvenir and eat East Indian food (which is cheap of course!) or dine and wine at Michelin Star restaurants. Considering that State of Nevada offers lots of great hiking and mountain climbing, I will definitely plan to combine those favorite activities of mine with city sightseeing, photography and dining, one day. 
(Photo: I didn't walk on Las Vegas Boulevard. Just drove through it but I have to admit that I was amazed. It's magnificent and worth spending maybe a few days in. This was at the intersection of the boulevard with Flamingo Road)

Saturday, October 06, 2018

An Apology

I've posted earlier that in this volunteer work of mine I deal with an annoying East Indian who, at times, with his stupid remarks causes anguish. I couldn't remember who he was from the dinner meeting we had 2 years ago but then I realized who he is during a seminar which I will write about it later. I replied to a number of his inappropriate comments until one day, a few weeks ago, I received a message from the manager of this V-Work apologizing for that behaviour, I would say, or the remarks/comments. I told him that I appreciated that while that was not his fault. I didn't want to expand the issue and be, as they say in CFLRS(!), a shit-pump. So I let it go. I saw him, as I mentioned earlier in a seminar and I will write about him in the related post. In a nutshell it was interesting to me that a person, one who is not responsible, apologizes for others comments. My thought is they don't want to lose the people who do free work for them but at the same time that's part of the culture. 

Friday, October 05, 2018

Telescope Peak, California

I had Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park, in California in my list for a very long time and eventually was able to hike it and reach the summit this Oct.. Alphonse (the name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual), my buddy from university days, who now lives in California joined me in Pahrump the night before our hike. We chatted for a while. It was our fist meeting since 2001, in the old country although we have been in touch through e-mail and telephone the whole time. I will probably write about him separably but just to say that I didn't want to be hard on him after all these years. So when I asked him when he would have wanted to wake up in the morning for the hike and he answered 06:00, I agreed. 
We had our breakfast at the hotel and then headed toward the park. It was hot day, as it's supposed to be in Death Valley and it was a very long drive. However I'm sure it's much better this time of the year. It took us nearly 02:30 hours to reach the trail-head! Had it not been because of the Alphonse's Honda SUV, we would not have been able to save the the last 1.5 miles (I'm following American measuring system now!) and it would definitely have been much harder and longer to do the hike.  We noticed only two cars near the trail-head. An SUV with two girls dismounting it. We never saw them again. They either went to the much easier hike, Wildrose Peak or were there for a short hike around. There was a Chevy sedan which got us very surprised. We wondered how he got himself up there because even Alphonse's SUV was going up the road not easily. We later saw the guy near the summit, descending and we had a little chat with him.
You can see the road that leads to the trail-head once you get enough elevation, probably after 1 hour or so. This is a dead-end which goes to Mahogany Flat Campground but you certainly need an SUV or a big truck. If you're driving a sedan don't even bother entering the gravel road or you'll lose your car!
The hike was not bad and the temperature was not very high. The good thing was I had selected a weekday for the hike. What, though, we could have done and I recommend to everyone who has this hike in the planning stage, is in addition to do it in a weekend, he or she should stay the night at Mahogany Flat Campground. We started our hike at 10:02 hours. Had we started from the campground I just named, we would have been able to start at 07:00 and save us 3 hours
Alphonse was not doing badly up until the end of the first stage of the hike. I have divided the hike to three main stages:
1) From the trail-head to the area where a twin small peaks are located. Alphonse thought one of them is actually the summit! 
2) From the twin small peaks area to the switchbacks. This area is easy and mostly feels like ridge walks. You have views of Death Valley both at right and left side of yours, if the view is not obscured by mist.
The US Geological Survey Plaque on the summit of Telescope Peak. I have seen something similar on Canadian Peaks and probably exists on other US summits as well. I guess I'll see next year!
3) From the switchbacks to the summit which is the most difficult part.
As I said Alphonse's speed was reduced after he realized that the summit was not what he had guessed. I was sure that it was not the targeted summit and pointed at the real summit which looked very far away! It looked that we had another 2 hours to go! I, then, handed a radio to him and told him that if he falls behind I will contact him and will check on him frequently. Soon I realized that It had been a good idea to bring the radios. Alphonse started to fall behind and I was not able to see him. So I contacted him every 5 minutes to make sure that he was OK but the piece of sh*t(!) radios went out of battery soon! I was really tired at the switchbacks as well. That was where we bumped to the Chevy guy. I, however, continued and Alphonse, according to him, was dragging himself up! I eventually reached the summit at 13:57 hours meaning the hike took me 03:55 hours which is not a significant time. I was not tired though. The only reason that I felt a little tired was lack of sleep in the previous two days. I had just a little water left. I drank that with a fistful of raisin and tried to contact Alphonse but the damn radio was out of battery. I was going to go down and help him to come up until I finally saw him coming up. He joined me at the summit a little more than 25 minutes after my arrival. We rested there for a few minutes, ate whatever we had (which was not much) and took a few photos. 
Going back down, I was expecting Alphonse to be more comfortable but I was wrong. He was having problem and we had to stop two times for him to rest. He was complaining about high heart ratio (which I believe is normal at that kind of activity) and was saying that he nearly blacked out a few times on the way up.
Alphonse is dragging himself on the trail! I'm just quoting! This is on the way back to the car and shortly before passing the twin small peak which are obscured by clouds in this picture on the right side
I guess it was 18:55 hours or so when we reached the car meaning the damn hike took at almost 7 freaking hours or maybe even more! Alphonse drove the gravel, difficult part of the road and then it got dark and I drove as he was dead tired! He laid down on the seat next to me until we reached a very nice store on the way. Stovepipe General Store, is amazing and they have everything you need in the middle of the desert. From drinks and foods, to souvenirs, books and gasoline. Alphonse got resurrected, just a little bit(!), after drinking water and an energy drink, according to him but I continued to drive back to Pahrump for the rest of the trip. 
Telescope Peak, is generally considered a difficult hike but I found it moderate. It's long and if you're not ready emotionally and physically, it would feel tedious and you won't enjoy. There's no scrambling involved but there are a number of exposed parts on the trail but it's much easier than many of the mountains I have been too in Canada. I'm happy that I did it and I enjoyed that. You get a total of a little more than 900 m. elevation during the hike which is not bad. All the detail is available on the web and there's no need to repeat them here but my recommendations, if taken into consideration, would help a lot to make the hike more enjoyable and easier to do. What I was surprised about was the lack of authorized personnel in the park. We bought our ticket from a machine in Furnace Creek and then later when we reached a visitor center (I don't remember which one but definitely after Furnace Creek) it was closed! While in Grand Canyon and Glacier, both the staff were available from earlier times. That could be due to number of visitors they get. Then the next day I saw full staff at Red Rock Canyon National Conversation Area, near Las Vegas!
(Photo, top: Telescope Peak from the trail. Here it's more than an hour to the summit depending on your speed and it's, of course before the switchbacks)  

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Ash Meadows, Nevada

Alphonse is supposed to join me to do a hike in Death Valley National Park, which by the way has Pahrump as its closest (unincorporated!) town. I was thinking what I should do and after a quick check of Google Maps I decided to go to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.
This place is the true definition of oasis! You're walking in the middle of a desert and sun is shining on you and you're hot and all of a sudden there's a small pond of blue beautiful water, marsh, trees, shrubs, birds, you name it!
The beautiful blue water in the middle of desert help the wildlife to survive and at the same time makes the grow of lots of plants possible
Of course the earlier during the year, the greener the area but also hotter. According to the visitor center lady, the snow on the top of nearby mountains (there are many around Pahrump both at Nevada and California side) melts and reaches the middle of the desert through underground passages and basically emerges from the ground. I was expecting Alphonse to join me and besides that wasted about an hour or so on the road because of the stupid GPS so I was not able to spend a whole good time in there. In addition to that the temperature was too high as it's Nevada and close to Death Valley and I don't wear short sleeve shirts and shorts.
Sand Dunes are seen in this wildlife refuge
Therefore I was not very comfortable. Nevertheless it's a phenomenal place that you should definitely visit once you're in the area. The whole visit might take as long as two hours or even more because there different parts of the refuge you want to see. The good thing is it's close to Pahrump, only 45 minutes, I believe.
(Photo: Funeral Mountains in California are seen from the wildlife refuge. Parts of the land that the refuge is located at it is private property. A house is seen at the left side of the picture here. The interestingly shaped cloud reminded me of the discussions over Area 51 in this state)