Hashemian Blog
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Red Rock and Lake Mead

by @ 8:10 pm
Filed under: environment,running-hiking — Tags: , ,

When I travel for business I try to mix in some pleasure. In most cases that means taking the weekend at the end of the trip to explore new places around the area.

This was the case with my recent trip to Las Vegas. I ended up exploring the Red Rock Canyon and Lake Mead. Beautiful places with plenty of hiking and swimming.

Calico Tanks

Calico Tanks in Red Rock Canyon. Moderate hike.

Turtlehead Peak

View from Turtlehead Peak at Red Rock Canyon. Las Vegas strip visible in the distance. Strenuous hike.

Red Rock Canyon from my hotel room, bathing in the morning sunlight.

Red Rock Canyon from my hotel room, bathing in the morning sunlight.

Lake mead from an overlook. Clearly low water levels, indicated from the light/dark contrast on the island. Swimming is still allowed from the Boulder beach.

Lake mead from an overlook. Clearly low water levels, indicated from the light/dark contrast on the islands. Swimming is still allowed from the Boulder beach.

Shot from the top of Hoover dam. Clearly visible bathtub ring  indicates historic low water levels.

Shot from the top of Hoover dam. Clearly visible bathtub ring indicates historic low water levels.

So Long Orumieh (Rezaiyeh) Lake

by @ 3:01 pm
Filed under: environment — Tags: ,

When I was growing up in Iran, one of the places I always wanted to visit the Orumieh (Urmia) lake in the north-western part of the country. The lake was known as Rezaieh lake prior to the Islamic revolution in the country.

People had amazing stories of biodiversity and beauty in and around the lake. The lake, the biggest in Middle East, was apparently so salty that one couldn't even sink in it.

Unfortunately I never got the chance to visit this beautiful part of Iran and the Orumieh lake and apparently I will never have that opportunity. As it turns out the lake seems to be drying up and disappearing forever, thanks to mismanagement, excessive development, and environmental factors.

It takes humanity to destroy such beauty. Shame 🙁

Picture courtesy of TIME's Timelapse project, powered by Google.

 

Austin, Trails, Bats and Springs

by @ 10:38 am
Filed under: environment,running-hiking — Tags: , , ,

Last week I was in Austin, TX setting up for a show that my company runs. My initial reaction to the city wasn't so favorable but as time went on, the city grew on me. These were the attractions that I was able to catch in Austin.

The trails - The Lady Bird lake has a long and beautiful dirt trail running alongside made for running. I did a number of happy runs and walks on this trail. There are quite of a number of hikers, runners and dog walkers on this trail. Most are pretty young and I assume they're students at the nearby University of Texas. This is a very long trail and hooks into other trails so careful not to get lost, I did.

The bats - Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. You can smell them anywhere near the Congress Ave bridge. Just before dusk the entire colony from the bridge and the surrounding areas takes flight. It's a surreal scene with a million bats filling the skies like dark clouds. I was lucky enough to witness that event one night. It's something you don't forget.

The springs - Barton springs that is. I went running on the trails the first day and got lost, but that's how I discovered this gem. So on my last day in Austin with not much time to spare I went to the Barton Springs pool and did a 20 min dip. Hardly enough time to enjoy the refreshing cold water, the giant pool and the surroundings and all that for $3.

Austin is a weird town and apparently it prides itself in that. Weirded me out.

Austin Bats

Austin Barton Springs

Hurricane Comes, Server Goes

by @ 11:04 am
Filed under: environment,web — Tags: , ,

Hurricane Irene has come and gone causing much damage and destruction in its path. I ended up with a leaky roof and a power outage. Relatively speaking, that's not so bad, except that the power outage lasted for what it seemed like eternity.

Of course with the outage came the loss of this site as the server went dark. This right on the heels of the recent DDOS attack the site had suffered. The tools and utilities used by people around the world were no longer accessible and understandably that's a source of frustration. It's one of the hazards of self-hosting and not having an huge budget. Why not host the site with a hosting company in a data center, like it was at one time? I am working on a separate blog post on that.

For now, I offer apologies and the hope that the next outage, while inevitable, will be in a distant future. Nothing in life is certain and even the Titans of the web go down occasionally, let alone a small operation like this. I promise my best effort to keep the server up and running.

Thanks for your support and trust,

Robert

 

Snow in Tehran

by @ 10:41 am
Filed under: environment,social — Tags: ,

It has been an interesting winter season. Here in the Northeast US we've been getting a good dose of the white stuff in what seem to be endless days of snow. No complaints from me. I actually like shoveling the stuff. But as fate had it in for me, I also got to shovel snow half way around the world this year.

Last week I was in Tehran (Iran's capital city, for the geo-challenged) on family matters and enjoyed a decent snow while there. Hadn't seen a white Tehran in almost 30 years since my childhood growing up there. I actually did some roof shoveling and found it quite challenging. The snow there gets soggy and slushy rather quickly and it's quite a bit heavier than the powdery snow i'm used to.

Despite what some people think, Tehran, being at the base of the Alborz mountain, gets quite a bit of snow every winter season. It used to get a lot more of it many years ago, but over-population and pollution have cut down drastically on the quantity and the frequency of snow falls in the recent years.

Here are a couple of shots I took from my parents' backyard in Tehran.

Deep Blue Sky

by @ 7:17 pm
Filed under: environment — Tags: ,

A couple of weeks ago while hiking in the back woods and taking some pictures, I decided to take a picture from the sky. When I looked at the picture afterwards, the deep blue color of the sky really struck me.

Hope you enjoy the photo as much as I do. Don't know if the camera had made any internal adjustments to the colors when I snapped the photo, but other than scaling down to post here, no editing of any kind has been done to it. It's straight from the smartphone camera.

deep blue sky

Sympathy for BP

by @ 10:29 pm
Filed under: environment,law — Tags: ,

BP, Tony HaywardIs it just me or does the BP boss, Tony Hayward, has one of those faces you feel sorry for? I know, no compassion for BP, but watching the man squirm before the congressional hearing today, I almost felt bad for him.

Ok, enough sympathy. Now let's get that Gulf gusher plugged, shall we?

 

Pine Mountain, Ridgefield, CT

by @ 11:02 pm
Filed under: environment,running-hiking — Tags: , ,

Hard to believe that I've had a jewel of a hike within a walking distance of my house (where I've lived for year) and I hadn't been to the top of it until a only few of weeks ago.

This is a part of a parcel of land that my hometown, Ridgefield, CT, took from the salivating fangs of a residential developer some years ago using the eminent domain process. The land was quickly turned over to the state of Connecticut and designated as a state park to be enjoyed by people and animals forever.

I have been hiking this trail every week since discovering the splendid scenery at the Pine Mountain lookout, and I think about how close we came to losing this beauty to bulldozers, trucks and steam rollers. When the dust will have settled, instead of the trees and the streams, there would have been rows of McMansions with manicured lawns and European luxury sedans parked upfront. How typically nauseating.

Instead, this is what we have and I know more than just me are thankful for it. Enjoy the pics.

Pelican in BP Oil

by @ 8:31 pm
Filed under: environment — Tags: , ,

Pelican in BP Oil

Pelican in BP Oil - Courtesy MSNBC

If MSNBC was trying to evoke feelings of sympathy and anger in its viewers today, it really came through with the picture of this defenseless bird covered in rust-colored BP crude oil.

For me it sums up how reckless and callous oil companies are and how ridiculous the "drill baby drill" people sounded. You figure these people would want to pass on a clean world to their own kids, but no, the lure of money is just too strong to care about anything but their own pockets. And if they don't even care about their own children, how could we possibly expect them to care about the ruined lives of so many people facing tar balls on their shores, let alone this poor animal?

We can boycott BP for eternity but that doesn't solve anything. BP will continue to sell its oil or it'll just operate under another name, and we know the other oil companies are no better. A more appropriate response is to reduce energy consumption. Drive smaller cars, use public transportation, walk or bike when possible, turn off lights, combine errands, or use shorter wash cycles. There are so many ways to help save the planet and save money in the process. Try one on for size.

BP's Nightmare

by @ 11:19 pm
Filed under: business,environment — Tags: , ,

BP logoThere seems to be no end in sight for BP's plight. The oil well is still gushing, the stock is bleeding, and there's word of a criminal investigation.

BP's stock got hammered today to the tune of $20 billion. It also doesn't help that BP is a European company and Europe is still grappling with its serious financial malaise. Since April 20, the day of the rig explosion, the stock has lost some $75 billion. If BP keeps its dividend payout steady, the current price of $36.50 a share is a fantastic bargain, yielding 9.2%. Of course there's little chance of realizing that. It's quite possible that BP will stop paying dividends entirely as it will need every dollar to deal with countless liability suits pursuant to the biggest oil disaster in US history.

The contrarian view would consider BP's stock attractive at these levels and it may be a correct view. But BP's problem is far greater than what Toyota had to contend with a few months ago. Surely BP can see the dark clouds coming its way. It had better cork that well soon while there's still a chance to survive the mountain of lawsuits it will have to deal with in the aftermath.

P.S. Somewhere out there Mohammad Mosaddegh is looking down at BP's misfortune and smiling broadly. It's payback time.

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