Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Closing a Chapter(s)

It’s not exactly a secret that Cathy and I are heavy readers. There are times I’m convinced we bought the house just so we could add more books. Seriously, one of the best purchases we’ve made for the house recently was a solid pine, 7-foot tall bookshelf that someone put on Iqaluit Sell/Swap for $40. I bought that sucker about 2 minutes after the listing went online (and was widely cursed on by others for getting it first. Book shelves are an in-demand item up here). It’s being put into good use.
Our drug of choice for most of our time in Nunavut has been Chapters. There was fundamentally little difference between Chapters and Amazon in terms of price, so we choose the Canadian company. Plus, some of Amazon’s business practices in the United States make me feel a little queezy. Their prices were the same, normally within a few cents and both offered free shipping. And when you live in Nunavut, you really grow to appreciate free shipping. Hell, reasonable shipping is appreciated.
I recently had a Canadian t-shirt company try to tell me it was going to cost $20 to ship a $12 shirt from Toronto. When I asked how I was able to order a t-shirt from Europe and only be charged $5 shipping, I got a shrug and a “That’s what Canada Post charges”. The shirt didn’t get purchased and I cursed Canada Post once more. I really should start a company and sell t-shirts with “Canada Post Sucks” on them. Of course, they’d do well in Iqaluit, but I wouldn’t be able to afford to ship them anywhere else.
So we’ve liked Chapters and I suspect if you were to look at how much money we’ve spent with them over the last eight years, you’d be pushing a number with five digits in it, at the very least. However, I’m pretty sure we’ve bought our last book with Chapters, either online or in one of their stores. Why? They’ve stopped free shipping to Iqaluit. They’ve instituted an isolated post exemption to their free shipping policy. Or, in other words, fuck you rural Canada, we don’t want your money.
How bad is it? Well, I punched in two thin graphic novels totalling $30 and went to the checkout. I was told it would cost about $17 in shipping. Amazon, meanwhile, still has free shipping to the north. So guess who gets the business?
You get these dick moves from time to time with southern businesses. use to have free shipping, then they started charging shipping, a reasonable amount. Then they really started charging for shipping, so nobody in Nunavut uses them anymore.
Future Shop is an interesting case study. They used to have reasonable free shipping. A DVD was free. A camera was free. Hell, even some small TV sets were free. But if you wanted a new oven, well, no. Then they went to the other extreme, charging $20 in shipping for a $5 DVD was my favourite. However, they’ve gone back to their original, more reasonable shipping rates. They had a change of heart, which is nice to see.
Of course, nothing beats IKEA and the $1 billion they were looking to ship a couch to Iqaluit.
Perhaps Chapters will change back. I think it’s a dick thing to do…to offer this service for so many years to people in isolated areas and then start charging full Canada Post shipping rates (which are ridiculous anyway) when your main competitor is still offering free shipping. Oh, and to not tell customers or offer up an explaination. It bears watching to see if Amazon does something similar (please god no) or if it’s a sign that Chapters is taking some water over the side. Considering what Chapters did to small bookstores across Canada, there would be some poetic justice in having it done to them.
In the meantime, we’ll adjust. We’ll switch move over to reading more books on our iPads (Cathy tried Chapters’ Kobo and it is a junky, poorly performing abomination) and only buy paper copies of books from authors we love. I’ll switch to buying all my graphic novels to Amazon. I could use the Comixology app, but I just like to read my comics on paper, not a screen.
It’s hardly the end of the world. It just pisses me off when companies suddenly decided to screw over loyal customers in the north.
Last Five
1. The future is x-rated - Matthew Good Band
2. The arrow killed the beast - Heartless Bastards
3. Bright tonight - Garbage*
4. Price of gasoline - Bloc Party
5. Streets of love - The Rolling Stones

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Against the law (school)

I actually meant to write about this a couple of weeks ago, but the thought of writing about Memorial University again nearly gave me a seizure. I’m afraid to do a search through the blog to see how many times I’ve ranted about things MUN has done to piss me off. Let’s just say more than once.
The latest is MUN’s plan to perhaps…maybe…open a law school. They’re holding public consultations on it right now across the province. Because you can always tell when an organization is serious about getting input from a group of people before making a decision when they hold consultations in July and August. A dozen people showed up in Corner Book, for example. None of them were lawyers.
Let’s be perfectly clear about why MUN is reexamining this idea. MUN wants the money. That’s it. Full stop. It was nothing to do with the province being one of two without a law school. It has nothing to do with a huge demand for lawyers in the province (there isn’t one). It has nothing to do with students from Newfoundland and Labrador being deprived of a valuable educational opportunity by not having a law school (other law schools across Canada easily handle the load).
Law schools are cash cows. MUN needs the money because revenue from tuition is flat and the provincial government is not forking over the money liked it used to. It’s a pretty simple equation.
So if MUN wants a law school, why not give it to them? You know, originally I was to write this as outrage about why MUN is doing this just for the money. Because there is no real demand for lawyers in Newfoundland, according to everything I’ve read and to friends of mine in the legal profession in the province. For that matter, there’s not much of a demand for lawyers across the country. There are not enough articling position for the grads being pumped out now in Canada.
Although it’s not as bad as the US, where it’s apparently reached catastrophic proportions. There are so many law school grads – and so few legal jobs available – that it’s becoming a real problem. Especially when you consider how much money most universities charge for going to law school. There are the law school living dead wandering the streets in the US, $100,000 in debt and no job. All because some universities decided their bottom line was more important and exaggerated their job prospects after graduation.
Which is what MUN will do, if this goes ahead (and it probably will). It’s probably going to charge tuition comparable to its med school. It will make a lot of money off this school. Students might be screwed, however, when they discover there are precious few jobs available when the graduate. People have this notion that law is a licence to make money. It’s not. It’s hard, the hours are ridiculous, it’s much more difficult to get a position than you think and, as a friend of mine put it to me last month “Laywers don’t retire; we just die.”
Then again, MUN keeps pumping out new teachers even though there hasn’t been a shortage in that profession since the early 70s. Every spring, you can count on NTV or CBC going to a job fair and finding some fresh faced recent education faculty grad expressing shock…shock I tell you…at how few teaching jobs there are in the province (or the rest of Canada. Teaching positions are getting scarce in Nunavut, which was certainly not the case 10 years ago). If you can’t be bothered to do some basic research of the job market before picking a career maybe you get what you deserve.
So yeah, I think a lot of naive suckers are going to go to MUN’s law school. I think the employment rates for those grads are going to be horrific for years. And not just because there’s little demand for lawyers right now, but because of something else a law friend told me. Most partners will choose, when all factors are equal, a new lawyer who went to the same school as they did. So if a firm in St. John’s is weighing between a MUN grad and a UNB grad and the partner making the decision is from UNB, well, guess which way that decision is going.
But on the upside, MUN will make some money. Here’s hoping they pump some of those profits into actually useful faculties. You know, like philosophy or history…
Last Five
1. Another travelin' song - Bright Eyes
2. The Sunday song - Amelia Curran
3. Someone saved my life tonight - Elton John
4. The bootleg saint - Sam Roberts
5. Things have changed - Bob Dylan*

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Every now and then I get some email from a company hoping I will plug them on my blog. If they saw my current traffic statistics, I'm not entirely sure they would waste the email. Not sure how I managed to get on their mailing lists. I suspect some asshole PR firm in the United States just put together a bunch of blogs into an email and sold them to some willing suckers.

I'm sure I could turn this blog into something that sucks up to companies for free stuff, just as I'm sure the few of you remaining would quickly stop finding reasons to come here. I've never been interested in making money from the blog. It's had other functions - a place for me to rant, a place for me to share information about Nunavut, a place for me to try and stretch my writing muscles - but never a place to make any money.

And yet, I'm going to plug something here, because it's kind of cool and I'm kind of in awe of it.

The last few years I've been paying a bit more attention to clothing. If you knew me in high school or university, you'd understand what a transformative thing that is. I was a t-shirt, jeans and cheap sneakers kind of guy (one of the many causes of my catastrophic luck with women). I had to beg and bribe women friends to go shopping with me so I could figure out what went with what and what clothing looked good on me. Some did it because it brought them amusement. Others, I'm sure, were just tired of looking at the horrorshow that was my wardrobe.

I'm much better at it now. I still consult with Cathy from time to time, just to confirm what I'm thinking. But I'm mostly safe to do my own clothes shopping. I think Cathy gets amusement over how fussy I can be, especially considering how lax most of the dress codes are in Nunavut. I've worked in place where senior bosses have come into work wearing dirty jeans and ratty sweatshirts.

But along with dressing better I've also become interested in, for lack of a better word, clothing technology. Some serious money goes into clothing these days especially if you're working out in it or travelling. I thought doing a workout in an old t-shirt and some shorts would be fine, but I've learned those shirts make a different. I've used Columbia, North Face and MEC shirts for working out and while I've occasionally gone "I'm paying how much for a shirt just to sweat in?" the damn things work. I feel better working out in one of those shirts.

Travel clothing has been somewhat trickier. We tried Tilley for ages, but they've gone downhill badly the last few years. The clothes have gotten uglier and not as durable. Plus, it's still ridiculously expensive. From there we've tried different clothing that's all been along the same lines - decent enough looking, light, packs easily, dries quickly, and durable.

You understand, not having to wash it after you wear it never entered the equation because we didn't think the option existed. Which, when you're travelling, can be a pain in the ass. Either you make your peace with offending people (which is fine if you're backpacking in the middle of nowhere, not so much if you're in large groups and urban environments) or make do with washing clothing, either in a laundromat or washing it in the sink and waiting for it to dry over night.

However, when I was in Sri Lanka and bumbling around with some of my friends, they raved about this clothing line called Icebreaker. They'd been wearing pretty much the same few shirts for the entire trip and they hadn't start to smell. At all. And they raved about how comfortable they were. So I filled it in the back of my mind for future reference.

Flashforward to Ottawa last month. Cathy and I wander into a shop with a Canada sale. Which was bad, given our state of mind at the time (post-sealift). And they had Icebreaker stuff there. On sale. So next thing you know I have a couple of t-shirts and a few other things. Even on sale they're still quite pricey, but what the hell. I was curious.

I'll be damned if the stuff doesn't work exactly as advertised. I'm on day 4 of the same t-shirt at this point. I've worn it to the gym twice and then hung it to dry, which it did in a few hours. I wore it to work this morning because I knew I was going to be running around later in the day (literally. I helped out with the kids games at Nunavut Day. Eight year olds are fast little buggers). There is still no odor from the t-shirt.

The salesperson gave me the pitch about someone going out on a boat for a couple of months and when he came ashore he took a shower, but the shirt was just fine. Not sure I believe that yet, but if I can get a week out of this shirt, I will be be pretty damn impressed.

It's made of merino wool. It's light. It's damn comfortable and they look pretty good. I wish it wasn't a fortune for the stuff, but if it lasts and it's good quality, well, I've wasted enough money over the years on cheap crap for the sake that it was cheap. I don't mind spending money if it's worth it. Early days yet, but colour me impressed. I'll have to stock up on some of this next time we travel. Whenever that will be.

Oh, I also like that each shirt has a "Baacode" that you can enter into Icebreaker's website so you can find out where the wool in your shirt comes from. Neat gimmick.

Last Five
1. In or out (live) - Ani DiFranco
2. First we take Manhattan - Jill Porter
3. Gloryland - Blue Vipers of Brooklyn
4. Le fantome, Denis - Colleen Power
5. Winter - Tori Amos*

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Man of Steel

I saw Man of Steel for a second time tonight. I normally only see movies twice in the theatres if I really loved it, or if I liked it, but there was something really bugging me about it. Man of Steel was the later. So I went back to see if I could figure it out.

I think I was too hard on it the first time. It's a pretty good movie. It's not destined to go down as the best in the super hero genre. I think Iron Man, The Avengers and The Dark Knight are going to have the top three in that list locked up for quite some time. But it's fine on it's own. And it has a lot going for it. I think Henry Cavill is fine as Clark Kent. He's no Christopher Reeve, but he's better than Brandon Routh. Amy Adams steals things as Lois Lane and is easily the best version of that character I've ever seen on the screen. And that's a pretty good supporting cast. If you're a guy and you don't get touched by the big father/son scene with Kevin Costner, well, you have issues.

And as much as think the last third of the movie is more than a touch too disaster porn-y and an effort to overcompensate from the criticism of Superman Returns that he never actually throws a punch (that's the least of that movie's sins), they are top notch action sequences. I actually liked the fight with Zod's henchwoman Faora a lot more than the big, climatic fight at the end. If you want to know what it might be like for super humans to have a fight in a metropolitan area, this movie is not a bad primer.

(The best, most honest comic book version of superhumans fighting still remains the terrifying issue #15 of Miracleman from back in the 80s where two beings destroy London and kill tens of thousands. I'd recommend picking up a copy to read, but it's out of print and you don't have the money to buy the back issues or the trades, which go for ridiculous amounts of money.)

So what's my problem? Well, I can point to specific moments. I still hate the ending of the big action sequence. I think the US military is functionally brain dead if they can't figure out who Superman is by the end of the movie. I'm not fond of Jonathan Kent's fate. But these are mostly nitpicks.

I think I wish this was a I remember reading comic book writer and novelist Greg Rucka saying before the movie came out that if this was a movie you couldn't take young kids to see it then you've failed, citing the scene in Superman Returns where Superman gets knifed by Lex Luthor as not really being appropriate for kids. And I'm not sure this movie is appropriate for kids. I don't have them, so I don't know. But I'm not sure I would take one under nine to this movie.

It's not unexpected that this movie is darker and more, I don't know, emo, given the creators involved. Dark = character development in their world. Which kind of misses the point, I think. There's darkness in the Iron Man movies, but there's also a hell of a lot of fun. Man of Steel has not enough of that. Not enough moments of wonder and joy.

And those origins are out there. No comic book character, with the possible exception of Batman, has had his origin rewritten so many times as Superman. Just before the movie came out Comixology (a digital comic app) had a sale on some Superman comics for 99 cents. I downloaded a bunch. There have been at least four major overhauls of his origin in the last 25 years alone, not to mention countless "out of continuity" retellings, like Red Son which imagines what would happen if the rocket had crashed in the Ukraine in the 1930s instead of Kansas.

I don't know much about the current origin, which was introduced about two years ago, other than most people really don't like the Superman books right now (perhaps because he's younger, sulkier and angrier. Also, his Kansas parents are both dead in his current origin, something I really dislike). But the other three all have merits.

Man of Steel by John Byrne came out in the mid-80s. It's a touch dated, but it worked wonders at the time. Superman was a mess before that series. There was about 50 different types of kryptonite and a ton of just silly foes and bizarre quirks. His power levels were also just short of God. The series stripped everything back to the basics and his version of Lex Luthor as a genius, driven businessman with a massive ego became the default version for decades. Byrne's artwork is still beautiful, even if the clothing and looks are a touch 80s.

There's Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid and Francis Yu which has a young Clark Kent travelling the world, particularly Africa, for the first few issues, as a reporter trying to see the world, understand things, and help people. And it works quite well. There are elements that don't work (Lex Luthor), but it's quite good and worth taking a look at.

But my favourite, and the one they really could have used more of, was Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's beautiful Superman: For All Seasons. For one thing, it's beautiful to look at. No kidding, Sale created one of the best drawn Superman books ever. But it's just a nice, simple....clean retelling. It actually feels like Kent is from Kansas (something the movie basically ignores except for a few touches). He's a nice kid, a bit reserved and quiet, trying to figure things out. He has friends, but knows he should do more to help. When he makes a mistake, he runs home to try and figure things out and learns from his parents and friends. It's good stuff. It falls squarely under the "He's Clark Kent, Superman is just a costume" side of the argument.

I'm not saying they should have made that comic into a movie. Given it's shifting narrative structure, it wouldn't work. But they should have taken the spirit of that comic and made that into a movie. A lot of people complain about how hard it is to make a Superman movie, which is the same bullshit complaint they say of Wonder Woman (honestly, there are easily a half dozen stories they could adapt). It's not. You need the right people and the conviction to stick with the core origins of the character.

Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly created one of the best Superman stories ever about seven years or so ago with All-Star Superman. It's not an origin comic, although it has one of best summations of his origin ever - one page, four panels, eight words: Doomed Planet, Desperate Scientists, Last Hope, Kindly Couple - that is just breathtaking when you consider how much ink others have spilled trying to expand on that. But it's fun and filled with mad ideas. There's drama, because Superman is dying, but it's also filled with so much energy and joy that it's infectious.

The origin in Iron Man was loosely based on his comic book one and the rest of the story was even more loosely based on any specific storyline, yet they nailed the heart of the character. I'm not sure they did that here. They got a sketchy, superficial version of who he is, but not the heart.

All of which is a rambling way of saying that comic book folks have, for the most part, figured out the character and what makes him work. When they get it right, and they have, it's a cool thing. He's a humble character, who has his doubts, but overcomes them. He's an immigrant, but wants to help his adopted country/planet. There's a joy to the character. Some confuse it for him being boring or simple, but that's a mistake. He's an inspiration (which you can do without hammering people with the Christ analogy like the last two movies have). Superman can be a blast, he just needs the right any character.

Snyder, Goyer and Nolan can do dark and dramatic quite well. I just think they missed out on the fun. It's a fine origin...they could have done better. Maybe they'll remember it for the sequel.

Last Five
1. Town chapel - Telekinesis
2. Bats - The Joy Formidable
3. Stella the artist - David Gray
4. Too much blood - The Gaslight Anthem*
5. On your way down - Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint

Friday, July 05, 2013

Walking softly...

So there was one other purchase on the sealift that I didn't mention in the last post. Mainly because I'm a little uncomfortable with the reasons for buying it, but I figure I ought to explain why I did just in case in ends up being a thing at some point in the future.

When Cathy and I were shopping around in Ottawa we went into a favourite store called Apple Saddlery. It's a store that sells a lot of horse related supplies, which ordinarily we wouldn't go anywhere near, what with us not riding horses. But we popped in there one day and it's kind of a cool store. They have lots and lots of Birkenstocks on sale, which makes Cathy happy as she has a fondness (some would say obsession, but let us be kind) with those shoes. I like the various Guinness stuff they have on sale and I bought my first pair of Blundstone boots there, which are seriously awesome. It's a nice store to kill 45 minutes or so if you have the time.

So while I'm bumbling around I come across some seriously nice walking sticks. Now, I have a weakness for walking sticks. I have no idea why...probably some outdated and deluded sense that I look cool with one. And it predates House being on the air. Probably goes back to when I thought I looked awesome wearing a trenchcoat when I was in my early 20s. These days, much like the trenchcoat, there's a ritual involved. I show it to Cathy, she rolls her eyes and tells me there's no need for me to own that, but go ahead if I want to (translated: you're an idiot if you go ahead). Then I sigh wistfully, remember my age, and put it back.

This is a nice walking stick. Handcarved, nice solid brass handle on it. It feels comfortable in my hands. So I'm getting ready to go and complete our usual ritual when I stop and suddenly realize that I actually have a very good reason for buying this walking stick. I show the stick to Cathy, who is about to go into the routine when I give her my reason. She looks a little sad and nods her head. So we buy the stick and it's on its way up on the sealift.

So why buy it? Because Iqaluit has a dog problem.

I think most cities have dog problems of some sort, but it feels like Iqaluit's is starting to get out of hand a bit. There have been a few too many dog attacks in the last year or so. Pit bulls are getting to be a popular breed up here, which is worrying some people. I have a friend, Tara, who loves the breed and loathes the ban in Ontario. But I think we're about one more attack away from something similar happening here. I agree it's not the dog's fault, but we unfortunately have some serious assholes in town who think having these dogs make them badass. I'm also concerned about what happens if/when they start breeding with sled dogs. That's a particularly agressive mix that's not going to do anyone any favours.

We've already had a couple of dog attack instances of our own in the last six months or so; one with us and one with a friend of ours. The friend was out walking her dog, on his leash, when a loose dog came out of nowhere and clamped his jaws on her dog's neck and started to shake him. She freaked out and kicked the attacking dog as hard as she could, which sent him scurrying away. Her dog is fine, but she was pretty shaken up by the incident.

Ours happened over Christmas when Boo was attacked. We were actually back in Newfoundland and had a family house-sitting for us. We didn't know how serious the attack had been (they said he had got a cut on his neck from "somewhere") until a couple of days after we got back and after we cut back some of his matted fur and noticed about a half dozen cuts and and several still open wounds. I'm still pretty pissed off about that, but anyway....

Basically, they let Boo out the side door so he could do his business. No problem, we told them they could do that. When it's cold, he only ever stays out a couple of minutes and never wanders anyway. But we always keep an eye on him; they didn't. That's when two strays chased him up on the deck and started going at him. Fortunately, a neighbour saw the attack happen, raced across the street with his shovel and beat the dogs off. Boo is fine, but if that neighbour hadn't been out, we might not have the little guy with us. He's a 12 pound fluff ball. Fending off two huskies isn't in the cards.

There's been other things as well. I've been taking Boo on longer walks as the weather has gotten better and we've come across some dogs there have been a little more agressive than I would like. And if some of the ones on chains that are freaking out ever got loose, well, there would be a problem.

So why do I need a walking stick? Because I have the depressing certainty that at some point I'm going to have to whack an agressive stray dog in the side of the head because he's trying to attack Boo. I'm going to feel awful about that. Other than rapping a dog on the nose if he's misbehaving, I've never hit a dog hard in my life. However, I'm going to feel a lot worse if one of them grabs Boo and runs off with him and kills him. Or decides to have a go at me when I try to kick him.

I wish things were different. There have been questions in town about the effectiveness of bylaw in maintaining the dog population. I think there needs to be a cultural shift in town on how people view, treat and are responsible for their dogs. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen overnight.

So until it does, I'll be walking Boo, on his leash, and carrying a big stick.

Last Five
1. Soldier's grin - Wolf Parade
2. Mahogany - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies*
3. Clark Gable - The Postal Service
4. Transformation - David Gray
5. Nobody - Tom Waits

Thursday, July 04, 2013


Last week we were down south to do the annual sealift, and to go to a wedding. More on the wedding in another post....let's focus on the sealift for the moment.

Sealift is an annual ritual for us. We've done one for the last eight years. The first one was actually done while still in Newfoundland and was hilarious bad. We had no idea what to expect or how much of anything we were going to use. How bad was it? Well, it took us three years to use up all the toilet paper, for one thing. But nothing is quite as ridiculous as the toothpaste. I'm not sure how bad we thought our dental hygiene was going to get in Nunavut, but we finally managed to use the last tube of toothpaste from the 2005 sealift back in February of this year.

We've gotten better over the years and we could, if really pressed, do it one day. Two days is a cakewalk. This year, because of circumstances, we actually had four days. Which is bad, but not something we realized at the time.

Doing a sealift requires a certain...mental preparation. You have to realize that you're going to go and drop an insane amount of money in a short period of time. If you can't mentally brace yourself to walk into a Costco and drop more than $2,000 in less than two hours, then sealift is going to be a problem for you. And that's a small sealift, by the way. We don't have kids. If you have kids, a Costco sealift run can be truly terrifying.

I figure between Costco, Walmart, Ikea, Canadian Tire and Sail (I needed a new Canada Goose coat. The old one is now eight years old and it's an XXL, which means it's a tent on me. Not good when -40C winds start blowing up it) we dropped around $5,000. Probably around another $1,200 to ship it all up. Which sounds insane, but it's a year supply of food and supplies and you do honestly save a lot of money. Plus, there is more variety than what you'll get up here.

Still, you do get looks. Costco was unusually snippy this year. Normally we just walk in, say we're doing our sealift and they set us right up. This year, when we spoke with the floor manager he huffed at us and asked why we didn't make an appointment. Because we never made one before and this is our fourth year going to that Costco to do our sealift? Seriously, we were there to spend thousands of dollars and he gave us grief about not making an appointment. Bit of a twit. We're actually friends with someone from that store and our opinion of him is apparently matched by much of the staff.

I always thought we got looks buying a year's worth of soft drinks (one can, per day, per person, for a year. Do the math on how many cases that is), but I discovered going to the cash with about 120 chocolate bars will also get you looks. I also learned the valuable lesson in previous years that chocolate and sealift does not mix. At some point, all the chocolate gets stored in a warm warehouse. Where it promptly melts and resolidifies. So I just brought them all back up with me on the plane.

The problem with this year's sealift is we had too much time. Normally we finish up and then we're on a plane somewhere for vacation. It gives you time to switch out of the spending spree mental state and into vacation mode. But since we weren't going anywhere, and were killing some time in Ottawa before heading to Kingston for a wedding, well, we had time to twack around. Window shopping in that mindset is dangerous. Next thing you know you're in Ms. Tiggy Winkle's buying the Lego Millenium Falcon (which is not on the sealift, it's up here with me, waiting for when I have time to do a Star Wars marathon. Because that's when you build things like that). Or going into MEC and the Expedition Shoppe just to look at stuff...

Anyway, we have to wait for all the stuff to show up. According to the schedule, that's supposed to be the first week of August. There's zero chance of that happening. There's still ice in the bay and the first sealift boat just buggered off to do the rest of it's run and stop back here before heading south. They habitually run at least two weeks late, so I would say the last week in August is when we'll get all of it.

So that's it for this year. Not as bad as it could have been as we got a bookshelf and elliptical up here just a few weeks before heading out. Now next year....we're thinking about a new living room set. Ack...

Last Five
1. Graceland - Paul Simon
2. Don't pull me over - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
3. The scientist - Coldplay*
4. My life as a wrestler - Dear Leader
5. Honey don't - The Beatles

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Snow in July

So this morning I opened the curtains and this was waiting for me...

Now, there were many thoughts racing through my head upon seeing this. The first was "I am supposed to be on a fucking beach in Costa Rica right now!" quickly followed by, "And if I head to the airport right now, and pick up a gun along the way (there are lots of guns in Iqaluit. I'm sure I could borrow one) I could hijack a plane and still get there."

(It was around 8 am. I'm not saying I was fully awake or making much sense at that point.)

Then there was the urge to curl up in a ball and sob for a few seconds. Then, finally, a resigned sigh and I went and got a shower.

Mercifully, it was short lived. By 8 this evening, this was the view from the window.

So yes, the snow didn't stay around long. And on the positive side, if you look closely that's an icebreaker out in the bay, which means sealift season is about to start. Ours won't arrive until sometime in August. They're saying the first week, but given that they've never been remotely close to accurate, I suspect it'll be closer to the end of the month.

And yes, there's still ice in the bay. Best not to dwell on that too much today.

Reaction to the snow has been mixed around town. Some where despairing (they tended to be mostly southerners). A chunk of people found it hilarious or didn't see what the big deal was (they tended to be Inuit) and others tried to put a positive spin on it  with comments like "Well, at least it'll kill the first generation of mosquitos." Not so sure about that. I saw one on the kitchen window this evening. They breed them tough up here.

The best comment came from Twitter where one wag wondered if the GN (Government of Nunavut) had closed for the day. You have to be from here to really appreciate it, but let's just say the GN has an...erratic history when it comes to making office closure calls.

Mercifully I didn't read any "Well, so much for climate change" comments or I might have completely lost it. Look, there's two ways to look at this. Climate change is not just the planet getting warmer, it's the planet getting weirder and snow in July, for me, is pretty damn weird. On the other hand, I've only been here eight years. Older Inuit around town were completely non-plussed by this because they saw this all the time when they were younger. It's only in recent years that there's been strange things like no snow in July, or the bay not freezing until January. So I don't think this is evidence that climate change is a hoax or something. I think it's evidence that it's all too real.

But that's just me. Your milage may vary.

Last Five
1. Ringneck loon (live) - Gordon Lightfoot
2. Have you seen your mother? - Rolling Stones
3. In my arms - Snow Patrol
4. A silent army in the trees - Matthew Good*
5. Delirious love - Neil Diamond

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Summer plans

So, one month after our latest drama and how do things stand? Well, I'm working, so that's a good start.It's not permanent at this time, so things aren't perfect. But it's a good job, I'm grateful to the people who rode to my rescue and gave me the opportunity, and there's the potential for it to turn into something more, so we shall see how that goes.

Still, it's a bit rough. Right about now, if all had gone according to plan, Cathy and I should be in San Jose, Costa Rica. Just for the night. Tomorrow we'd be on our way to Puerto Jiminez for a week of beach and tropical rain forest. And then other adventures in the following weeks. Instead, I arrived back in Iqaluit yesterday. I flew over hills still covered in snow, the bay still has a healthy amount of ice in it and a community a few hundred kilometres to the north of us got a heavy snowfall warning for today. About 30 cm of snow is going to hit there...on July 2.

Fortunately not in Iqaluit, though. As Cathy said on the phone tonight, if that much snow hit Iqaluit today I'd probably be on a flight down south. Not entirely sure that's true, but I would be a decidedly unhappy camper.

And yes, Cathy on the phone. Due to the circumstances we're going to be spending longer apart this summer than normal. We often spend about 3-4 weeks apart. Being a teacher she just gets more time off. But this summer we'll be spending about seven weeks apart. She's in Mount Pearl and I'm here. Which kind of sucks, really.

Anyway, I try not to grouse about it. Sort of like when things went bad with the last job. Give yourself a day or two to feel bad about it and then move on. I've been back in town for a day. By the weekend I'll be fine.

However, that does leave seven weeks to fill. Yes, there's work and I'll probably increase how often I go to the gym from four times a week to five. And yes, I have a bunch of TV shows and movies that Cathy hates that I can sit down and watch. But just doing that for seven weeks strikes me as a bit of a waste of an opportunity. So what to do...

Well, I've decided to write again. I've badly fallen out of the habit. The last job was far more management than writing. Which was nice and all, but it's just like going to the gym. If you don't use those muscles on a regular basis, they're going to weaken. Also like the gym, the first few weeks you start going again hurts. And really rather sucks. So if this seems rambling and incoherent, well, hang in there. It should start getting better sooner or later.

Still, it's a thing that needs doing. I've already done some writing. Although the articles aren't online, I have a 12-part travel series running with The Packet, my old newspaper back in Newfoundland, about my travels over the past year. So that's kind of cool. I also had a brief piece in the Globe and Mail about my weight loss over the last year, which has gotten a lot of kind comments.

As for more, well, I think I'm going to take up blogging again. We'll see what form it takes and how often. I'd like to do it every day, but perhaps like the gym, we'll see how much it hurts if I just do it five days a week.

I also think I'll take one last, desperate swing at the novel. The damn thing is 80 per cent complete and has been that way for the better part of seven years. I have seven weeks with few distractions. Let's see if I can do it. If I can finish the book this summer, well, perhaps all the chaos of the last month will be worth it.

In the meantime, enjoy the ramblings. I suspect I'll be venturing all over the place in the next few weeks, but I have ideas on things I'd like to write about, which is more than I've been able to say in quite some time. So let's see what happens.

Last Five
1. Piledriver waltz - Arctic Monkeys
2. My hometown - Bruce Springsteen*
3. There is a reason (live) - Allison Krauss and Union Station
4. Heart to heart with Lionel - Joel Plaskett Emergency
5. Blood red moon - The XX