Friday, December 31, 2021

The 2022 Resolution

When it comes to the New Year's resolution some say it does not work and ignore it. Some say that you always can have a resolution. It does not have to be before a New Year. I like the idea. This year's resolution was very easy and it's accomplished. The next year's won't be as easy:

1- Get the hell out of this shithole that I have been calling workplace for a little more than two years now.  I've had it with these fools. Get a real job.

2- Enter in a long-term and meaningful relationship.

3- Travel outside Canada at least once.

4- Buy a new vehicle.

5- Practice calm 

6- Do as many hikes as possible.

Less than 8 hours left to 2021. Happy New Year everyone and tell me if you have anything in mind in regards to this post

(Photo: There're losers in the world who even for a simple picture such as above, would go after you, if you use it for yourself! Copyright infringment!)

Thursday, December 30, 2021

An Incident just before the New Year

I left home this morning almost at the same time as every day. By the time I reached the main road, I had three lights on my dash! Check Engine, which had come up earlier and I've written about it, ABS and Hand Break!! I check my hand break and it was not engaged and my car isn't even equipped with ABS (Anti-lock Breaking System) but because it's an standard Toyota dash, the light is there and it proves that it only is a malfunction. Two of the lights were turned off after a few seconds and I continued with the only one on. The drive seemed normal to me but when I pulled into a spot in the parking lot of work, someone called me and pointed at one of the tires! The rear passenger tire was completely deflated! How didn't I feel anything? And why didn't the car's dash show anything?! Another proof that the dash system is mingled up! 
When I pulled into a spot in the parking lot of work, I was shown the back of my vehicle! What did I see? A flat tire!! How the hell didn't I feel anything during the entire drive! I talked to a few people at work and everyone offered help but then I went out by myself later and replaced the tire with the spare. Then I called a nearby shop and they squeezed me in. I drove to the shop, left the car and they were nice enough to send me to work on Uber! getting the car was a different story, I could ask people to give me a ride because it's close but just like the way I changed the tire, I thought I should get the car by myself. So I bundled up and stepped out. Although it was only 15 minutes or a little more, I have to admit that it was not such a pleasant walk! The sidewalks were not cleared. I had to walk by the street and although the drivers were careful, if anyone had lost control, they would have hit me from the back. My hands were only spots which were cold but then my face started to be cold and I was there! 
When I get the car back, they didn't even charge me! It was amazing while the bill read $35! I thanked them and left. It was something that almost never happens! 
(Photo: Different warning signs on a Toyota dashboard. I don't know how old this guide is and I don't know if I have all in my old car)

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Is this the most Wonderful Time of the Year?!

The temperature has gone down so much in the past ten days or so that my Check Engine light came up for the first time in the past 11 years that I have been driving this car! The worst was yesterday that when I started the engine it was -28 ℃ (-18.4 ℉) and I let it run for a few minutes to warm up, something I normally don't do if it's not this cold. Then I head to work and while I was only couple of minutes from the highway, I looked at the thermometer and it was showing -34 ℃! (-29.2 ℉)! I guess it was where the light came up! All these years living in Canada I have never experienced something like that. 
At the time I had no choice to drove to work. I know if I take it to a dealer the first thing they ask for is a $90 or anything around that, just to look but I know I need to do that. If it breaks down on a road, it would not look pretty in this weather. I think it's probably the time to get a new car. 
(Photo: The car thermometer showing the outside temperature regardless of windchill)

Friday, December 24, 2021

Useless Phone

One of the things that bothered me at the first day of travel, after I landed in IAH and got my rental car, was that my telephone was not working! It was working but I wasn't able to make any calls! There was this stupid message on the top: " Emergency Calls Only "! My plan is a good one which enables me to call and text all across Canada and the US without any limit, for a little money! Now I was in the US and the telephone didn'r work! I went to my hotel and then from there I found an AT&T store clsoeby and talked to the guy about my problem. It appeared that a simple phone, with a handset would cost about US $75. I went back to the hotel and I realized that there was no long distanc call available!!!! I had never seen something like that! In fact when I was in Munic I had a similar situation, not quite teh same: There was no telephone set in the room! Anyway I got on a chat with my service provide through my notebook but he was not able to do anything.
A map at a local McDonald's shows the source of their coffee. I was greated in Spanish when I was ready to order and that was not the last time! Hispanics constantly mistaken me for one of their own! Had not seen the map before
The next morning, on the way to downtown Houston, I saw a T-Mobile store and stopped. I got a SIM card for US $45 and I got fixed for the rest of the trip! When I later contacted the service provide I was told that the roaming feature had been locked and I had to call before the start of my trip! 
(Photo, top: I stayed at Staybridge in NW Houston in my first night of my Texan trip, almost half an hour, if not more from downtown. I think I selected that because it was only 20 minutes drive from the airport. Not a bad hotel. It was more than half empty at the time!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

A Difficult Interview

I had a very difficult interview yesterday. I had not thought it would be as difficult as it was! I had applied for this Government position, I think, back in June or July and received a couple of e-mails in regards to that in my Spam folder! I was lucky, I guess I should say that I checked my Spam because I normally don't! 
It was written that the interview would take place through Microsoft Teams, a sort of software that I had not even heard of prior to that! I have heard of Zoom but apparently Teams is more professional. So I had to purchase(!) a headset and a Webcam because the damn Chromebook was not able to handle the program! Every time I would click on Join Now, it would crash! 
The good thing I was able to get help from friend, Newlywed, although he's no more, until I find another nickname for him, I'd stick to that. His daughter is now 6! I called him and he said that he had experienced working with Teams and sent me an invitation. I got connected with him through my cellphone and that was not bad but I knew for a better result I needed to attend the interview at my PC. That's why I spent nearly $90 on the items which is fine considering that would be a job with The Federal Government
I, of course, would not reveal any of the questions but they were sent to me half an hour before the interview. There were 7 questions and as soon as I saw them I started taking notes rapidly because they were not easy questions at the first glance. Newlywed had done a sort of mock interview but none of the questions he asked were amongst the ones that I received. 
I wrote so fast and tried to analyse every question in a manner that my hand hurt and when it was only 2 minutes left to the half an hour I had, I took a break and then the interview started. There were two guys and one lady, all from their home and when they introduced themselves it was really impressive that they had been on the job for such a long time and it was obvious that there were not the type of people who could be easily convinced. Each of them asked one of the 7 questions, one by one and they all listened and at times, made notes. I think I did well on most of the questions but not all but at the end everything would be up to them. I was told that I would hear about the result in January and asked if I had any questions. They also asked me if I could go back to any of the questions and provide completion. I knew I would not be able to contribute more in such a limited time, so I thanked and said no. I response to their question that if I had any question, I asked them where the selected candidates would work. The lady responded that there would be a pool of candidates and then they would be dispersed all around the country. I thanked them for the opportunity and mentioned my time in Oil Sands projects and added that I was very flexible and would work anywhere in Canada.
(Photo: Oil Sands projects have been part of Canadian economy but they have suffer tremendously due to environmental challenges and crude price drop)

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Weird Florida Lad

I bumped to a strange fella on my drive to western Texas during my trip. I stopped at a resting area to stretch my legs and have a little walk. The weather was nice. Not too cold, not too hot. no wind. Just a breathe. I snapped a few shots, as usual and then noticed someone was backing up towards my parked rental car very slowly. I first paid no attention and kept getting away from the car and looking for photography options. 
When I came back I saw someone kneeling in front of my rental car doing something to the grill! That was the driver of the backing car! His car was parked a few feet away from mine. I asked him what he was doing and he jumped up and walked to his car and got in! I didn't realize what detrimental act that was at the moment! It could've been deadly! I was in the States! Everyone could be armed! I could've been lying dead there even now after a few weeks! So I chased the guy and asked him what he did to the car. He said nothing and I threatened him that I would call the police and took a picture of his licence plate. He kind of stepped out and said something about bees, went back in and drove off.
I didn't know whether I should call the cops or drop it. Walked back to the car and examined the front. I didn't notice anything but a couple of giant bees! Nothing has happened so far(!) but I remember it was a tall and thin Caucasian fella in a white short sleeved t-shirt, shaved head and face and nothing else. Still cannot figure out what the hell that was about!
(Photo: My Rental Camry. Such a wonderful car which I enjoyed driving from east to west of Texas and back. It was here in this resting area where that lad looked like he was tampering with the car! I do have a photo of his licence plate but I don't think there's a need to post it here unless someone has gone some similar situation and suffered a loss and needs my help) 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Gulf (of Mexico) Area

I drove to the gulf area, or to be clearer, the
Gulf of Mexico is in the south part of Texas on my second day of the trip. The major point in the south is the Town of Galveston which is about an hour south of Houston. You know how every province or state has a town (or two) which is very attractive to tourists. For example Banff in Alberta, Whistler and White Rock in British Columbia, Aspen in Colorado and many more. I think Galveston in a way plays that role in Texas: Lots of restaurants and hotels, endless beaches, nice shops, etc. 

A structure in the middle of the sea which looks like an oil rig but no activity can be seen from here. I used a telephoto lens to bring it much closer

The road to the gulf area, after I found myself on Gulf Highway was just amazing! Another US highway that you cannot stop anywhere until you reach your destination and if you make a mistake, you'll either lose your vehicle or your life and maybe even both! I really wanted to stop and snap a shot but that would've been detrimental! I just wanted to have an idea of the area. A real trip requires at least 2 to 3 days to stay and enjoy. While the temperature was good, on a mild autumn afternoon in southern Texas, I didn't see anyone in the sea. The area was not overly crowded but it was okay considering Covid-19 was a concern. The thing that I was not expecting was free parking at the beach which has been signed clearly. It's very good for the businesses. I parked at the side of the road and took a short walk for photography. 

I happen to catch this lone bird on the beach but I have no idea what species it is

As my destination that night was Austin, I left the area after about half an hour. On the way back, while I was still in the Galveston area, a big pickup truck with a trailer missed me probably with about 3 feet only but in less than 200, w meters (you see here that I mix Imperial and Standard!), while I was in the parallel road and leaving the area, hit an SUV and threw it down the road! I was lucky that first I wasn't driving too fast and secondly the SUV didn't roll down the road and stopped. Otherwise I would've hit it and would've been a disaster. The road got crazy the closer I got to Houston. Everyone is in such a rush that a new driver like me who doesn't know much about the area, if makes a mistake, ends up in Dallas instead of Austin

I fortunately was very careful both about the signs and the other drivers and was able to get out and find myself on Interstate 10 toward the west without any problem.
9Photo, top: a beautiful row of palm trees at the side of the road, called Seawall Boulevard)

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Hilton DoubleTree, Austin, TX

I stayed one night in downtown Austin. Don't be alarmed! I payed that with Air Miles! I drove to the gulf area, Gulf of Mexico or to be exact the Town of Galveston on my second day of my trip to Texas and it was not such a wise idea(!) because I had to be in Austin the same night and you can't see much of the gulf area in a few hours but I went anyways and will have a post for that. My destination on that night was a luxury hotel in downtown Austin, called Hilton Doubletree.
I reached Austin when it was dark and considering the autumn (or as they say here, fall) it must not have been later than 18:30 because there was still traffic in the area. I pulled in front of the main entrance and tried to find a spot to park. I was told that only Valet Parking was available! I asked about the alternatives and I was told by the receptionist that I could park a block away, on the street but I would have to feed the meter as early as 07:00 next morning! Imagine you're on vacation and want to relax but you gotta wake up early, put your cloths on, go many levels down, walk on the street for 5 to 10 minutes to insert coin in a meter (or pay by card) and come all the way back! That would extremely stupid and totally unacceptable. Valet Parking would charge US $40 which I didn't want to pay. So I asked for another option and I was told that there was a covered parking just at the other side of the street for US $20
I had a few minutes to visit The State of Texas Capitol the next morning after my stay in Hilton Doubletree. This interesting statement is on the wall of one of the buildings. I think it was the library. There's so much to see and read in this area and it's highly recommended to the visitors to the State of Texas
I chose that which eventually cost me a little more than CAN $24. My suite and it actually was a suite was on the 7th floor and not bad but I could have been given a better place with a better view. I don't know why I didn't ask for it. Not sure if I would have been given. The suite was huge. Bigger than many one-bedroom apartments you see people here live in: A big living room with television, coffee table and everything else, a big bedroom with a king size bed, a set of drawers and another television and a big bathroom which was bigger than my bigger bathroom in this house! The guests in the hotel were all wealthy ones who didn't care to pay US $40 for a night of parking and although it was not very busy at the time, I saw a few. I, unfortunately, stayed only one night at the hotel and I must add that breakfast was not included but the hotel has a bar and possibly a kitchen for serving food. I left early because I had to go to my next destination but if you don't care about money this is a good hotel to stay at and everything is nearby. I in fact would love to stay in the hotel one more night and be able to take a few photos from the top levels. 
(Photo, top: This was taken from my room in the hotel. I had never heard of this bank. Perhaps it's the one which only operates in this state. The state's flag is on the top. I parked my car, or to be correct, the rental car in the parking of this building which one I saw the bill in my credit card statement, is named as Wells Fargo Building. I know Wells Fargo is a big financial company in the states. I think the Future Shop card had been issued and supported by this company, one it existed! Many probably don't even recall Future Shop)

Friday, December 10, 2021

Strolling in Austin

I had two days in Austin, TX before heading back home and although it became a bit stressful because of the damn PCR Test that I had to take, in order to be allowed on the plane, I had a chance to check a few places and I gotta say, I liked the city and if any chance presents itself in future, I'll visit the city again. The thing is I was supposed to see the Little Pika in there but he was on a trip to the old country and despite the fact that he gave me his son's and his wife's number (which was his own number but she was using it at the time) I changed the entire plan which basically was paying for two nights hotel! I told him that I was not going to the city and that was because I sensed and I'm sure I was right, that he and/or his family didn't want me to go there while he was away. I tried the damn number of his a few times and his wife never picked up! 
Nevertheless I went to a park in downtown and take a few photos on the first night. The interesting thing is unlike Calgary there are spots in downtown that you can park for free and go for a walk. Calgary used to be like that when I arrived here first and then was changed. Now you need to watch the assholes of Calgary Parking Authority as they might sneak on you any time to tag you! That put aside, I also had a chance to check two major retailers that I had not been to: H. E. B. and Whole Foods. Although it was Black Friday, I didn't aim for any major shopping though.
Texas Red Grapefruit, I had been told is the best. I've never seen it in any grocery store here in Alberta. 

Whole Foods is a very big (as usually everything is in the US) supermarket which mainly, as far as I realized, sells the sort of food which is not chemically changed, I'd say. I only bought a bottle of Organic Tea and something else, which I don't remember but when I asked for Whole Grain Pizza, they didn't have it. The customers of Whole Foods are wealthy people or the ones who put a budget for safe food aside, every month. I don't know anything about other parts of Canada but in Calgary we have Community Natural Food and Blush Lane which both provide Organic Food. If I go to Austin again, I'll make sure that I will shop at Whole Foods. The other supermarket which was bigger and I had never been to was H. E. B. This one was a good store as well. Something like Safeway but much bigger. I bought a bag of Texas Grapefruit, a  clam of Mexican Guava and a calender, all for reasonable prices. 
I didn't try any restaurant or even a fast food joint during my stay because I uusally get by without them but if I go to the city again I"m certain that there're many places that I can try. The hotel's breakfast was not too bad in comparrison to the other ones that I had been to but not very healthy. So I skipped that after the 2nd night of stay. 
(Photo, top: Downtown Austin at Colorado River. It was a cloudy evening and rain had just been stopped but desirable temperature. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

2021's Christmas Party

My employer decided to have the Christmas party on the premises this year and for that, they did a little decoration, put chairs, tables, speakers and even a screen in the main work area! That, of course seemed ridiculous but imagine how much money they saved in comparison to renting a venue! But that was not it! We were expecting at least edible food but it was beyond bad!  Then snacks were brought in and added and we were told that food would be provided as well. But what was the food? Food from a food truck! I have never tried a food truck in my entire life but I didn't know it could be that bad! I'm the kind of person who barely eats out because I don't believe majority of restaurants provide healthy, nutritious and delicious food and I have to say the food provided by this food truck, which is not necessary to say its name, was one of the worst that I have ever had in my entire life, anywhere in the world! And I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thinks that way. Even the Filipinos and the Chinese, who normally eat everything you give them for free(!), complained about the damn food!
That was not the highlight of the so-called party! We had singing and dancing by employees as well! Singing, basically, was performed by a number of losers(!) who lip-singed a number of songs from the text!! Can you imagine that?! Imagine a loser, who can not sing and only lip-sings and then add the person reading the lyrics from a screen that everyone can see! 
A few loyal(!) employees were given an award after that. It was for their long service at the company. A group dance was the next entertainment(!) and finally the prize draw which I think was the part that everyone was waiting for! One food sucks and dancing is even below average, what else is left but a prize that you can take home? The draw is designed in a way that the majority of the employees win a prize and then there're three main items, the most expensive ones, which is kept at the end and everyone could win. my buddy, The Stout won the last prize which was a big (but cheap!) television. I won a nice H. H. windbreaker which I later checked and realized that it was worth $120! I was quite surprised and happy although I have 2 at home! The rest was some other nonsense which is not worth even writing but despite the food which  was a total disappointment and the entertainment which was lame, I think the gift compensated for all! 
(Photo: The food truck plate! I'm not writing the price because I don't wanna reveal the truck but I am shocked that people who own this so-called business are in fact in business! I mean who eats this expensive, ugly, tasteless crap?! Apparently there're losers who do!)

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Wild-dead more than Wildlife!

One thing that I noticed a lot during my long road trip in Texas last week was the number of dead animlas on the state's highways. It was aweful. At times I couldn't say what it was because it had been hit so many times and some badly that nothing was left to recognize but from the numerous pieces I saw there was anything from Deer, Armadilo and Rakoon to other smaller annd bigger creatures. 
I do, however, came across a few beautiful wildlife including a mammale with long, sharp horns, Zebbra(!) and a few more but unfortunatrely there was no safe spot, mostly at the side of the road to pull over and snap a shot or I was in a hurry! I'm sure that I'll go back to Texas one day agaion and I will make sure I will look for good opportunities to catch wildlife. What I'm not sure about is whether the State of Texas does anything to prevent this masacre or not! Everywhere I drove, every road, it was fenced but animals do jump to go to the other side. This problem, as far as I know has been looked after in Alberta. I guess what we have here is called a Safe Cooridor and governments have spent millions to protect wildlife. You come accross a dead animal though, once in a while but not to the extent of Texas but we need to keep in mind that Texas, the biggest state of the US but only a few squre kilometers bigger than Alberta. The difference is Texas is streatched from west to east and Alberta from south to north.
(Photo: This deer was in the middle of Texas Highway # 290 when I was driving east somewhere between the town of Harper and the town of Fredricksburg. The road was so quiet that I had the chance to stop and take this shot. It looked like it had been hit just recently, perhaps the night before)

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Release of 50 Million Barrel

The price of gasoline was a hot topic when I was in Texas last week, all across the US, of course. It was Thanksgiving week and many people were on trip, either flying or driving. President Biden decided to release 50 Million barrels from the US strategic oil reserve to fight the soaring crude price! It was obviously a dive in vein and I heard that on the radio that this action was criticized because that much of oil only equals to the US's total consumption for only 2.5 days! It was also said that the Biden administration had engaged in negotiations with allies(!) to find the solutions to the problem.

This map show the approximate location of storages. I might have driven pass one because of went to Gulf of Mexico area
The US created the reserve in response to oil supply shortege/blockage of 1975. The major oil suppliers turned the tap off to the world after the US supported Israel in their fight with Arab countries in 1973, Yum Kippur War. The blockage was led by Saudi Arabia which was being ruled by King Faisal. He was later assassinated by a member of family. Many spaculate that it had something with him denying oil to the world, and of course the US, as part of it.
I don't know how effective that action was but I doubt it played a major role in price change, at least, when I was there. One thing that I'm sure about is it didn't affect the driving habits of Americans! The highways were as busy and the drivers as crazy as ever! There was no chance in hell that I could come back to Canada in one piece, if I didn't have a GPS and at one time I had two on a the same time. I paid a lot for gasoline because I was crazy enough to drive 1439 miles (approzimately 2316 km!) but I don't regret what I did except the part that I could take it slopwer, I mean, not on the road, because I would've been killed! I could have driven shorter segments but it's alright. I plan better for the next trip.
(Photo, top: Price of gasoline in Exxon gas station in the twon of Katy, about one hour from Houston, Texas. For the one's who are not familiar with American pricing method of gasoline I should say that it is $2.83 Cents of a US Galone and a US Galone equels to 3.75 litters)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

20 Years Now

Yesterday, the 29th of November was the 20th anniversary of my immigration. No celebration. No regret either. I wanted to go to the cafe that I sent my first messages home to tell them I was safe but was too tired as a result of the trip. 
There won't be any celebration at all, not even this weekend because I have not achieved my goals in these past 20 years. My past 20 years have been mostly full of failures. One after another. Big and small. costly and cheap, in terms of money, of course. A failure is a lack of success, lack of accomplishment, reaching something that you had planned for. It's always costly because you have lost the most valuable thing: Time! 
My marriage fell apart and I'm single for nearly 6 years now! Not that my marriage was so good when we were together but I know we loved it each other and now that we're not together, I miss her a lot and I know I won't be able to find someone like her again. The women I have met in the past 6 years, I can't even call them date because I never liked any of them. Today I was going to talk the Blue-eyed Lady but I couldn't. Her door was shut and I didn't want to wait the entire afternoon there to see when she has time. 
Almost everything else has been a failure as well. There's no point to name them all here. Someone by simply going back to what I have written so far will find how big of a loser I am! A few accomplishments that I have are not even worth counting! So I'm going to leave now as there's no pint to waste other's time with the failure stories. I do have some good New Year's Resolution which I will post time when it is the time. 
(Photo: Rubles in Afghanistan. People are  getting sleeping stuff up. This is Afghanistan after 20 years, when the Americans left and their forces gave up, for the reasons beyond my understanding. My life has not been much better than Afghanistan's! A total failure. Just hope youngsters learn from my mistakes. Select a goal and aim for it. Don't divert or you'll end up a loser like me)

Monday, November 29, 2021

Austin to IAH and the Return

I reached home last night and I was so tired that I barely could walk! I think it was almost 22:20 when I got home and dragged myself up. I'm still tired and my right ankle and right knee hurts like crazy! I think it's the result of sitting still for hours. The drivbe from Austin to IAH and then the flight from IAH to YYC
What I did was I left early because I didn't want to take any risk when I was flying back to YYC. I left around 07:45, got some gas from a nearby Shell and headed east on InterState 71. The road was not bad, in terms of usuall crazy American drivers(!) and I only made a very few short stops, although I should've made more for a number of good photo opportunities, untill I reached Houston area and basically after Katy, TX where I stopped for the last gasoline and it became really crazy! I must add that instead of my GPS, I used my phones GPS which looked more accurate and more updated but still I was nervous and uncomfrotable on the road! I swear that I barely saw anyone on Texas Highway # 8! I had to be very carefull to not get killed in the last hour of the trip!
I finally delivered the car without any issue and I'm sure I will receive more invoices, because part of the road was Toll Road and went to Terminal A. It was there where I realized most of the passengers of WestJet to YYC had arrived before me! The WestJet guys opened the Check-In counter shortly after my arrival but I didn't move until 14:30 because I simply didn't want to stand on my feet! I was so lucky that I received a message from CVS Pharmacy in Austin, TX where I had gone to for Covid-19 Test, indicating that I had been seen negative. Later during cheking I realized that I would not have been able to get on the plane without the test result and that was way different from the time that I flew to IAH, first.
To my surprise tripadvisor has a shop in IAH right next to gate A11
Here's what happened with that test. While I was driving out of Austin last Tue., I saw an advertisement for free and rapid Covid-19 Test but didn't stop. I thought I'd have time. When I came back I checked a Walgreen and I was told I would have to book online but when I booked and then went to the pharmacy I was told that would not be accepted by " airliners ". " You'd need a PCR Test ", I was told. They difected me to CVS Pharmacy just 2 minutes drive from there but I had to book online. I went back to the hotel and I booked for 12:50 while the Chromebook's clocked showed 11:30 or something. Then I thought I should go a bit early. On the way to the phramacy I realized that it actually was 12:45 not 11:45 because I had not adjusted the Chromebook's clock to the local time! While I was cursing at myself, I sped and I'm hopping that I had not been detected by any camera(!) but right when I needed to turn left I saw a fire truck! Apparently there was an incident. I was very nervous because losing my appointment might have meant that I should have gone back to the hotel and rebook! Fortunately I reached there and I went to the drive-thru, the service that we don't have it here in any pharmacy. A young girl greeted me and after I told her that I had an appointment, she put a test kit in the drawer and pushed it toward me. The dawer is like what I have seen in The Silence of The Lambs when Agent Starling visits Hannibal the Cannibal for the second time! She walked me through the test and the diiference between that and the one I had done in Shopper's Drug Mart was the sample taking. In the latter it was from throat. CVS wanted it from the nostrils. I then put the test package in a box installed next to the window and left. 
Back to IAH, the other issue that I faced was this App that CBSA wants youto install on your phone, so you can submit your information to then to review, before your arrival and it's called ArriveCan. I knew about that for a long time and even received a message that it would be required and partially installed that, but didn't finish it. There was a very nice girl who told me that I would need it and helped me to install it. I was able to pass the security check at about 15:35. The flight had been scheduled for 16:30 but there was a bit of delay. So I want't late.
The flight back was not as good as the one I had from YYC. There was a very limited leg room but the stewardesses were very nice and helpful. I got as much water as I needed. That in fact was the only thing worth drinking or eating on the plane! I had purchased some Guava from H. E. B. and enjoyed a number of them and that was the flight. 
I was barely able to walk when the plane finally landed. My right ankle hurt a lot but I dragged myself to security check and eventually the casserole and waited for my backpack, which had cost me more than US $30 to checked it in! I had to do that because I had purchased some jam and Salsa from this nice little town called Frederickburg. After that it was walking to the parking and get the vehcile. My 6-day stay in Economy Parking cost $68 which was not bad considering the proximity and the charge of a cab, if I had gotten one. I reached home around 10:30 and was so tired that after a little supper and shower went to bed and had a good sleep until 09:30, this morning.
(Photo, top: I got gasoline on this gas station clsoe to my hotel on Sun. morning. The price of gas has become the center of attention in the US and I will have a post for that soon)

Friday, November 26, 2021

Stress in Austin

I'm back in Austin and I'm going to settle down here until I fly out of the US because this processes of getting a room, checking in and checking out and carrying your stuff, is stressful and exhausting. When I first arrived in the vicinity of the city, I decided to find a place. The useless, stupid GPS directed me to two wrong addresses! I think I'd need to update the damn thing when I get back. Then I found a hotel and tried to book for Covid-19 Test because I apparently need that to go back. I tried Target and Wal-Mart pharmacy and both said they didn't have. An urgent care center, close to the hotel offered the test for $300! I then went to a Walgreen and there I was told that I had to book online. 
Booking online, after I got the room was a disaster because the online questionnaire is designed for a resident of the US not a Canadian! I eventually was able to register by going around some parts or altering answers(!), with the hope that I'd not affect the result. The stupid website didn't even send me a confirmation! I guess we'll see tomorrow.
(Photo: Downtown Austin at Colorado River. This actually is a nice city and should be visited in summer to enjoy the most of it. On the other hand this river, Colorado River doesn't look to be the very one that I saw when I went to Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park!) 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Guadalupe Peak, TX

I'm heading back east again after doing the hike of Guadalupe Peak. I'm staying in Fort Stockton, TX, tonight. Very tired and both of my knees hurt! It was an easy hike overall for a summit which only stands 2667 m. and the elevation gain is roughly 914 m. but what happened was I, first, when I got there, I had a little difficulty finding the trail-head and the visitor center was closed. So I referred to my phone and the GPX format file that I had downloaded and I found it. Then I realized that there's a campground just at the trail-head where many people are about to start their journey(!) from there. I head up the trail and I passed 3 or 4 parties when I realized a fella is approaching really fast. I turned back twice and he was shoulder to shoulder with me. A taller man with all white beard but he was very comfortable and relaxed. We started talking and going up together which was very good for me but I think perhaps that's why I have painful knees now because I had to pace up to catch up with him!
We reached the summit in about 02:17 (2 hours and 17 minutes!) which I think is a good time but it was so windy and cold that I, who usually stays at any summit for at least 15 minutes to take many photos, had to head down after 7 or 8 minutes! It was cold and I took my gloves out to be able to take photos and my both hands were numb! My left hand was swollen so badly for hours, which I had never experienced that but now is fine. We were back to the parking lot at about 12:45 which makes the entire hike something around 05:15, which is considered a good time. I will write more later as I'm dead tired now. I've got to take shower and hit the bed.
(Photo: The visitor Center at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It's a very nice place where you can see many things and they have nice gifts as well)

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

766 Km (476 Mi) in one Day!

I'm in Carlsbad, NM now and back to Mountain Time! It was a very tiring day because I decided instead of flying to Albuquerque and coming down NM and reaching Pine Springs, TX, approach from west! That was because there's no direct flight from Calgary to Albuquerque. WestJest goes to L. A. and then passes you to an American airliner and they fly you to that city. Air Canada flies to Denver, CO and then pushes you further south. The latter is more expensive. I realized that the second option was better now that I have driven 776 km in less than 9 hours! Between the tiredness, road safety and cost of gasoline and food, it'd much better to take Air Canada option but that's lesson learnt too late! 
The drive was actually not bad because Texas Inter-State 10 West is wide and there was not much traffic. The problem started when I hit 289 North which is under construction and particularly the last 40 minutes which got dark and the road was reduced to 1 lane only! All the area around 289, all the way to NM is oil facilities and camps. I gotta get ready for tomorrow. I will write more later.
(Photo: Oil pump jack at the side of Highway 289 N in Texas which connects Fort Stockton, TX to Carlsbad, NM) 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Crazy Driving Day!

I'm writing from the second reserved hotel in Texas, in Downtown Austin now but I made a bad mistake! I thought I'd be okay to drive a long distance but I was wrong! I'm not a US driver! Some of these guys are really crazy and they have no respect for speed the posted speed. Besides there's not much enforcement on the roads! After checking out of Staybridge in NW Houston, I grabbed a breakfast, as they had nothing and then headed to Downtown Houston. Driving to any downtown in North America is not a wise thing because you either would not find a parking or the available space is usually unreasonably expensive. I parked on the street close to Toyota Center and went to the visitor information which was quiet and no one was there but the two fellas who were working there. Toyota Center, on the other hand, had a long line of youngsters all around it! Apparently a concert had been planned for the night.
Here's the crazy thing I did: I drove all the way to Galveston which took more than an hour but was very tiring. I parked on Seawall Boulevard and went for a short walk. Then started heading to Austin! It was crazy! Just when I was leaving the Gulf Freeway a crazy and stupid pick up driver with a trailer attached to it, missed me by a few feet only but hit a SUV just after 200 minutes and trow it down the road, just before me! The SUV was lucky that didn't roll and I was lucky that I reduced my speed. Otherwise it would've been a worse accident than what it was.
I'm too tired now and that's because of lack of enough sleep last night. So I'm going to prepare to sleep and will post more later.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Not such a good start for a Trip

I'm writing from a hotel in Houston, TX and I gotta say, it hasn't been such a pleasant trip so far! YYC was fine. No problem at all. At the CBP counter I had a chat with a Black officer who was very friendly and nice. No issues at all. I don't even see a stamp on my passport. Then WestJet flight was a usual. enough legroom, couple of cheap drinks(!) as usual and nothing else.
My stress started at George Bush Intercontinental. No check or nothing at the airport and I went to the designated spot for the Rental Car Center shuttle. It must have been at least 20 shuttles and buses passing by and none stopping, which made me nervous that I would miss my reservation! A bus eventually came and I got on! The car renting process was easy with this difference that firstly they gave me a Camry, instead of Corolla and then the guy asked for coverage which would cost another $130! I declined that and said that I would come back a few days before the actual return day and would obtain it. 
An old East Indian lady was sitting next to me at the isle seat. She didn't do anything in the entire flight but sitting. No computer, no cellphone, no books, no nothing! Perhaps because she couldn't use any of them but surprisingly she was neat and clean and without any unpleasant odor. At one or two points during the flight she took a Wal-Mart(!) chocolate bar, took a small piece and put it back in her purse! I assume she would have it for the next month, if not longer! At one point, I guess she was really bored she started clapping! Fortunately she ended that soon because it would've been really annoying! Then she started praying! I think she was praying for the trip to end soon, probably and that is the time, that you see in the picture, that she's about to finish her prayers! I figured that out by just looking at her hands! I guess she was counting something. Perhaps the number of times that the prayer had been said or the number of people whom the prayer was for!  
The drive to the hotel was not so bad except for the fact that I was getting away(!) from Houston. I mean I was going to the outskirts! And there was traffic but actually in the highway just parallel to the road I was driving on, mostly which was a toll road! I then reached the hotel which looked like a ghost house! Not many people around and just one guy at the counter! A few cars in the parking lot, meaning not many guests. I tried to call home and tell Mom that I had arrived safe and sound as I had called her earlier from YYC. No damn signal! I couldn't believe this shit! My plan includes unlimited call and text to the US and Canada and this is the shit I have to deal with! I then decided to get something to eat. So I asked the front desk about a nearby grocery store but after what he told me I decided to check the GPS and find a place for myself! Bad idea! The first place that the damn GPS directed me to was just a dark place with no lights at all! Then I selected a nearby Wal-Mart. Wrong again! I ended up at a place called Sam's Club and I knew that before even entering but went in anyway: It's a store similar to Cosco which you need to be a member to shop! The closet place, on foot was a gas station. I grabbed a small bottle of milk and was going to pay but I was told that they could not break my $100! I put the milk back and went to the hotel.
The room is actually a small nice suite but the problem, like most of the hotels is its proximity to a major road: TX 249! A major road which runs north of Houston. When I first saw earplugs in the bathroom I was a bit surprised because I have never seen any hotel offering that. Now I know why it is there!
I had made a Peanut Butter & Date Sandwich at home and although I wan't very hungry I ate that and then I made some Decaffeinated Coffee and drank it. I then decided to get something from the hotel's pantry! Yes the hotel, Staybridge Suites, has a pantry and to my surprise a 42 g(!) Kit Kat candy bar was $2! But what do I care?! I have US change which have been sitting in a bag for too long. So I bought one. Then I thought: How the hell I am going to inform Mom about my well-being. She'll be so worried. 
I decided to call The Mumbling Guy, using WhatsApp and asked him to call Mom! I told him that I was in a place which there's no signal but WiFi is available! The guy accepted but I'm sure he was not happy doing this! He barely left a message and said he had called! It was so difficult for her to call me back! Most of the places that I have been to, I have not seen many people wearing masks. The most frustrating part is nobody, nowhere, I repeat nobody, nowhere has even asked for proof of vaccination or the damn PCR Test result! The latter cost me $150, plus I had to switch one working day which was not convenient at all. So the question is: Would this trip worth all the cost and agony(!) that I've been through so far?!
(Photo: The main floor of YYC looks deserted! No soul! Not one!)

Sunday, November 14, 2021

The Chinese-Vietnamese in Canada


Canada has developed itself to be the garbage can of the world(!) for decades now. Everyone who has an issue finds their way to this country and is accepted easily. Why? Because the country needs more people. More cheap labour, more population to consume the junk food and buy cheap houses and more people to bring revenue to the government!
Therefore it's not a surprise to find:
  • Child molesters
  • Corrupt cops and military officers (even engaged in genocide and war crime) 
  • Slum prostitutes and drug dealers
  • Professional thieves
  • Sex offenders 
  • Fundamentalists and extremists
  • Wife Abusers
And other sorts of evils in this country. Do the government and society care? No! The Government knows and doesn't care and the society looks at all of the foreigners with the same eye! They dislike them all! To them it doesn't matter if a person like me came as an immigrant after 5 years of sending documents, doing medical tests and such or a filthy pig who comes from slums of The Philippines! In fact they like the latter more because they know they would never be at the same level of them while I can be anything that a Canadian has been and better.
With that in mind I'm going to introduce a sort of scum here in Canada who are amongst the nastiest that you could find in this country and possibly the entire world: The Chinese-Vietnamese. How did the Chinese ended up in Vietnam? That might be the question. China became a Communist nation during the period of 1945-1950, shortly after the WWII (in fact the Second European War which was extended to the other parts of the world!) was ended. At the time the Chinese who were not in favour of the new system, tried to leave the country and some crossed into Vietnam in south. Amongst them is the father of this fella whom I know from work: A young Chinese guy who was born in Canada but is more Chinese than some of the peasants in China who come from west to east to work in major manufacturing industries of the country! He says that his father illegally entered Vietnam after the Chinese Communist Revolution and undoubtedly entered Canada illegally, again, years ago, probably a few years after Communists took over Vietnam in 1975
You look at this animal and you want to puke in his ugly face and shit in his bold head at the same time: Cheap, nasty human-like creature who have lived like a worm in mud for years. Still cannot talk like a normal human being after years and steals everything that he can and cheats whoever he is able to! His son, the guy who worked at the same place as I do, always wears shabby cloths and his sweatpants are hanging off his waist(!) but has two houses! He lives with his grandparents(!) in one and the other one is rented! He is addicted to gambling but the rummer around the work is that he has once won a big chunk in a casino and has used it as his mortgage down-payment for his second house! He claimed to be a graduate of ... from The University of Calgary (a Bachelor's degree) and has worked as a professional but has never tried to go back to his field after he was laid off! He claimed that his fella former classmates face uncertainty at their professional job and that is why he prefers this shitty job, working besides the slum residents of the Philippines! He claims that his wife works for a high-end designer shop and makes good money and they're doing well the way they're doing! A true pig who enjoys nasty food on daily basis! I guess that's true when they say: Like Father, like son!
(Photo: Chinese-Vietnamese border, of course in south of China. This was where people skip and enter Vietnam and also the Chinese would send ammunition and weapons to NVA during Vietnam War, of course. The role of former USSR cannot be denied but that is a different story)

Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Signs

I haven't written anything here for a long time because there's nothing to write! It's just the disgusting work and then coming back home. Work at the side of the former nasty residents of slums and then coming home, eat, do a few things and go to sleep and again the same! Over and over. The only difference is that now I work 5 days a week which is much better. Less torture! Almost the same money.
My plan to date the Blue-eyed Lady hasn't materialized, though! I tried to go to her office several time and she seemed to have a visitor every time! I eventually had an opportunity to have a little chat with her and she was very nice and smiling all the time! I think something very good had just happened to her because she usually is not that way. She said that I could go to her on Fri. afternoon and I thanked her. 
I dropped by on the day and she was on a sort of telephone conference. She even didn't here me knocking twice and finally a few minutes before going home I knocked on her door for the third time. She asked me to wait a second and then opened the door. I told her that I had been there and she said she had been busy. She apologized and I said it was okay and stepped out! 
I think she realized that I was upset, not that she gave a sh*t! She just said she was sorry but maybe I read the signs incorrectly because she had waved at me a couple of times before that and the very day that I had that pleasant(!) chat with her, she said that " she was late to see her friends " meaning that she doesn't have a bf! I have known her for almost 2 years now and never asked her out! Now I don't even think that I am a sort of person who is interested in her! Otherwise why I had not asked her out for such a long time?! 
I doubt that he answer would be positive but I will talk to her hopefully this Mon.
(Photo: There're quotes about loveless life but unfortunately I have none on the time of my mind at the moment! I never thought of love seriously before the last years of my marriage and after she left! It's always like that. Once you have something, you don't appreciate! When it's gone, you realize what you've missed and you regret!) 

Friday, October 29, 2021

Canadian is a Culture not a Citizenship

I went to my neighbourhood supermarket a few days ago for a little shopping. I only got a jar of Organic Milk, and a bag of Raisin and Cashew, each. I went to the cashier who happened to be a phony Indian woman in her early 50's. This was a perfect example of a phony person: Fake smile, if I could see that at all and forced(!) greeting and useless chit chat! As soon as she saw the bag of Cashew the man attribute of East-Indian people, jealousy, emerged! I barely have seen any people as jealous and cheap as Indians and I'm stereotyping. This is based on my observations throughout all these years living in Canada. The bag worth more than $10 and she wondered how I can pay that much for an unnecessary food! So she asked me where I was from. I told her that I was from Rajastan, which is a state in India! She looked at me and first, for a moment she was about to believe that. I added that I was from Jaipour which is a main city in that state! She didn't buy it and now I kept going by all different major cities around India, starting from Srinagar! She said that she was from Srinagar and I added a few more!
She insisted on her question and even once made the right guess but I denied that! Then I said I was Canadian(!) and she said: We are all Canadian(!) I said: You're not Canadian. You're Indian!
That was the end of it. She didn't like my answer and said nothing! 
It's funny that some idiots in this country believe the bullshit that the Government of Canada force in to their asses! A filthy animal who is born and grown in filth, shit, grime, pollution and after years of living in the country still cannot write 5 sentences without grammatical and spelling errors and still chow on the garbage that they sued to stuff inn their filthy village, call themselves Canadian! Next time I see this filthy pretender, I will certainly avoid her. It'd much better than listening to her stupid accent and smell her stinking cloths.
(Photo: A cashew tree in India)

Saturday, October 23, 2021

A Call after more than a Year

One of the things that people, who come from poor countries, think about Canada, I repeat, think, and this thinking is not rational(!), is its health services. They think it's a good system, in comparison to the US's and of course their own. When I first came to Canada, I remember that there was a monthly amount, a premium, that everyone had to pay, based on the size of their family, to benefit from basic health services. They made it free a few years later. I always resisted paying and when I did it was with delay. I don't remember if there was a penalty for the delay or not. My point was I am always careful about my health. So why should I pay for the health services which take care of drunkards, drug-addict, crap-eater, etc?!
The system actually encourages irresponsible people to do whatever they want to do and eat whatever they like(!) because they say: What the heck! If something bad happens to me, I'll go to the doctors and they'll fix me! 
I don't know much about British Columbia but I think it was the same thing until I got the hell away and returned to Alberta in 2011. Now the so-called health system is in trouble. They have hired so many people with high rates and they don't know how to pay them! In the meantime small communities and towns far away from major cities face shortage and have to resort to foriegn sources which mostly comes with problems. I'm not going there but will probably discuss that in another post. When I was in the Milk River area in the southeastern part of the province, I remember a big sign at the side of a major road asking for physicians to come and help the residents of the town! Same problem you see in the so-called Third World countries! Most of the health professionals like to work in major cities so they can enjoy(!), what they call it the quality of life! Iran is a good example of this issue. For years and years, I had heard that physicians from India had to be hired by the government and sent to small communities or places where because of weather conditions, physicans would not work. I personally never had any experience because I and my parents and grandparents all were born and lived in the capital. Then what the government did was establish medical schools in almost every city and town! The classes were so big that I remember once a high school friend of mine, who is a specialist now, told me that the instructor had to use a megaphone! And although he's originally, from both parents, is from a small town, he stayed in the capital and continued practicing! The other thing the government did was forcing the newly graduates of medical schools to spend a few years in remote and small communities. That was part of the deal when they were accepted to the medical school. I don't know if it worked or not but I'm sure even talking about that in Canada will result in being labeled by so many different things! You would be accused of being anti-democracy, you'd be called names, you'd be called against Western belives and values, you name it! 
My personal experiences with AHS has not been very good every time i had to drop by. I had to see a few physicians and I can say that a number would easily fall under the category of incompetant and unprofessional. Waiting times are usally and unnecessarily long and over-staffed clinics and medical offices, which turns in excessive budget, as well as burocracy, always has been a problem. When I moved to this town more than a year ago, I tried to find a family physician. I haven't had one since I left British Columbia in 2010(!) and even at the time, when I was much healthier, the so-called family physician who was a woman in her mid-30's, I would think, was not so good. 
I called a few clinic around the city and then eventually one of them put me in their waiting list. Now more than 13 months I have just received a call to see that physician! I have seen him once and I really didn't like the way he handled the problem I had explained to him. The only good thing he did was referring me to a specialist whom I have seen and the session went well, I hope! I'm looking forward to see my family physician to see how he is going to deal with the problems I have. 
(Photo: Alberta Health Services on a building)

Monday, October 18, 2021

A Different Type of Massage

I, at times, go to massage places. I mean real places where you can get healthy massage not the fake ones with sexual purposes. This time I found a place which is only 5 minutes drive from my home. From the get-go I realized the person is from Eastern Block. Yes! It is still considered Eastern Block because those people are different from Western Europeans. 
Anyways I reached there with a 5 minutes delay(!) because I, the silly(!), had to go to a bank and get cash. I was not sure if she had a machine. So it was a must to avoid an argument with an Eastern European woman who barely speaks English! It was a very nice and big house. Clean and organized and part of the house was turned to a little clinic with office stuff, bed, equipment, basically whatever you need to run a business. As I had guessed it was a woman from one of the three countries which used to be part of The Soviet Union and they were the first three which became independent. Now I have no idea what the relationship of these countries are with Russia today but I see no benefit for them. I don't think there has ever been any benefit for most of the Soviet Union republic which became independent. Many of them such as Khazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and perhaps a few more, have good and strong relationship with Russia. Assholes such as Ukraine are in conflict with Russia! To my surprise the lady talked in favor of Russia
The lady provided a very strong massage which I did not expect to that level. She even used cupping and the entire hour was productive. We had a little chat and that was the time that I sensed that English is a real challenge for some! I was so beat that I barely could walk! I put my cloths on, paid the lady, got the receipt (for the insurance, hopefully!) and walked to the door. An old man, probably her husband was sitting in the living room and I raised my hand (that's been my way for decades!) as a sign of salute and goodbye(!) at the same time and grabbed a knob which seemed to be the entrance door. Wrong! It was a closet! I was so exhausted that I couldn't even see where I was going and the man, on the coach said nothing! Either because he couldn't see (He was an old man wearing glasses with full head of white hair!) or didn't know how to say that in English! I shut the closet's door and found my way out! If I need to have another massage, which I will, before the end of the year as I still have insurance benefits available to me, I will go there again, unless I found a better place within the same distance or a little longer. Unfortunately I can't reveal the name and address but there're many great massage therapists around the province. You need to do your search and find a good one.
(Photo : The former Soviet Union map and its republics. The three small northwestern republics, numbered 2 to 4 in the map, became independent first and the lady is from one of them)

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Alphones Chickens Out!

I contacted my buddy Alfons down in California to discuss our hikes in Nevada. We were supposed to hike Boundary Peak and then Mt. Charleston, both in the State of Nevada this month and then when my supervisor said that I needed to give him a 30 days notice, I suggested to Alfons to postpone the trip/hike to October but he chikened out! 
He indicated the cold and his lack of ability to do a hike in winter. I was aware of that but since he's the one who always brings the vehicle(!) of need (a 4WD) and is a good company, I was hoping I could convince him this time as well! I really didn't care if he'd be able to reach the summit! Now that he has stepped back I'm left with a delimma! Should I stay or should I go? I'm not really worried about the trip cost. Neither I am worried about the ricks on the mountains. What makes me think twice about a trip of such is the stupid restrictions that the US Government has still in place! I, as someone, who intends to do a non-essential trip, needs to be tested for COVID, within 72 hours before his flight and provides the result to be able to board. At the same time, it's said tha the US does not recognoze the mix-shots! So for me who had received AstraZeaneca as the first shot and then Pfizer as the second shot, I don't know what would happen to me, If I went to the airport!! 
Then there's this re-write of the exams in December, which I haven't registered for but i will. I was hoping to study some on the plane(!) because it's change of the environment that you need at times to encourage you to do what you have to do but I guess I have to drop the damn plan and think of another time. I even thought of doing Guadalupe Peak in western Texas, where we attempted the last time we were togethere and we didn't even go to the area(!) because of his stupidity. My plan was going to Albuquarque. through L. A. and from there drive down to Texas, do the hike, as they say October is a very good months for this hike and then drive east to Austin to see The Pika, if he's back and then go to Houton and fly back to Calgary. It would've beeb a wonderful trip if it was not this stupid Covid! But I don't think it will happen soon. 
(Photo: Alfons, my hiking buddy avoid our upcoming advantures out of fear for his life! His performance in the previous hikes was poor. refer to Telescope Peak trip and Flatiron Mountain trip posts)