404 (2019)

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Start at Windsor Comfort Suites.
Take 33 steps West and turn right.
Walk 100 steps North, turn right again.
Take 295 steps East. According to Google Maps, the distance from my starting point to where I first turned right should be 4.25 times longer than the actual distance it took from my starting point to where I turned right. The digital distance measured against my actual step count does not translate perfectly. Small brown creatures spaced randomly on the ground. Giving them a closer look, I notice they are date pits. I stop and look around for a clue.

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27 clicks without any new entries since I typed ‘date seeds’: “When someone dies in Iran, to avoid fainting over grief and sadness, dates are served at the funeral to help maintain one’s blood sugar.” Serving dates is also a traditional gesture of hospitality. Imagine if each tiny pit was thrown into a grave; the graveyard would turn into a palm grove, filled with infertile trees.

Wikihow: Soak the pits in fresh water for 48 hours. Fold 2 seeds into a damp piece of paper towel. Place the seeds and paper towel into a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a warm, dark place for 6-8 weeks.

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Arabic is now the most common mother tongue spoken in Windsor after English, new census figures show. Windsor Star, August 4, 2017.

In 2036, StatsCan predicts about a third of the population In Ontario and British Columbia, will be foreign-born. The Globe and Mail, January 27, 2017.

It is 17th of Ramadan 1440, 1st of Khordad 1398, 22nd of May 2019. I pick up one of the packages of Oriental dates to find out where they are imported from. 17 clicks in and I am staring at my monitor: “This Page Could Not Be Found! 404”

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In 1898, the U.S. Department of Agriculture created a special department of men called Agriculture Explorers to travel the globe searching for new food crops to bring back for farmers to grow in the U.S.

David Fairchild, a botantist who helped found the Agricultural Explorer program, was one of the first to travel to Baghdad to investigate dates.

"He chose Baghdad," says Seekatz, "in part, because he remembered One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, and ... stories of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The book was a well-known childhood tradition for generations of Americans."

Npr, June 10, 2014

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In 2005, Solowey, an expert in desert agriculture, germinated a 2000 year old ancient seed, which was recovered decades earlier from an archaeological excavation at Masada, a historic mountainside fortress. The seed had spent years in a researcher's drawer in Tel Aviv.

Sallon wants to see if the ancient tree, nicknamed Methuselah after the oldest person named in the Old Testament of the Bible, has any unique medicinal properties no longer found in today's date palm varieties.

"Maybe there are genes there that have actually died out or become extinct [in modern dates], in which case [the sapling] has very exciting possibilities for date cultivation as well," Sallon said.

National Geographic, November 22, 2005