Tuesday, October 31, 2006

End of the scariness

So Cathy survived Halloween with her sanity intact. Nothing like being a teacher of little people on the day of sugar and craziness. Of course, tomorrow might be worse as she has to deal with the kids who will be either wired or coming down off of massive sugar highs.

As for at home, we find its been a quiet Halloween so far (knock on wood). One of the things about living in a secure apartment building is that you don't get much in the way of trick or treaters. I think Cathy is feeling a little guilty about that and is resolving to donate $20 she would have spent on candy to the UNICEF fund.

Oh, a slight bit of paranoia on our part. Given what happened with the car, we thought that a few extra precautions would be in order. So rather than leave the car out front where it might be the target of a sugar-fueled rampaged, we parked in one of the nearby apartment complexes which is better lit and has security. That's fine for this evening, but won't work in the long term. But for tonight, it'll do.

You know, I used to love Halloween a lot more. I hope it's not one of those "I'm getting older" things and is instead just a result of being in a smaller community and not knowing enough people yet. My costume at work this year was kind of lame (dressed in black, threw on a cheap plastic cape and wore the Mickey Mouse hat from Disneyland). I used to have more elaborate costumes. I'd like to do it again, but I guess we shall have to see.

And now I should go off to bed and get some sleep. Need to be well rested to start my epic novel tomorrow.

Going up

Not so much anything the folks down south would care about, but for those of you living in Nunavut just a head's up. The price of gas is going up 10 cents a litre as of November 1. So if you need to top up the gas tank, now would be a good time to do it.

For those of you down south, that means the price of gas in Iqaluit will now be around $1.17 a litre. The Nunavut government subsidizes gas prices here so they won't be outrageously expensive. It's not so much for motorists (because outside of Iqaluit, there aren't many cars), but mostly for hunters who have to go out on the land in their ATVs and snowmobiles.

I'm not sure what the price of gas is down south right now, but I imagine we're not too much more expensive than many places. I know there was a time last year when the prices was $1.07 that we were actually cheaper than many places down south. Remember, all of our gas for the entire year comes during the brief thaw during the summer months when freighters and tankers can operate in the north without too much fear of ice. I think the last tanker left Iqaluit the other day, so we're now locked in until about the end of June, 2007.

Something to warm my heart this morning.

Oh, and a quick Conversation with Cathy for you, as many of you are also having to deal with kids today...

Me: (As Cathy is heading out the door) Have a good day, babe...
Cathy: It's Halloween. I'm just trying to survive today.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Writing challenge

So I have received some gentle nagging about where the writing blog is for the grand National Novel Writing Month challenge. Well, it's now set up and will be going full tilt as of November 1. You can go to Doomed Writing. Right now there's not much on the site, but hopefully that will change in a big hurry as of November 1.

Right now the people who I have sent invitations to are OM, Dups, Melissa, Corey and Curtis. Including me that's six people. If you still want to get in, either respond to this post or e-mail me at daehan hotmail dot com. You have until the end of October 31 to join in the chaos.

As for those of you not participating, I encourage you to swing by and see how we're doing. Feel free to leave comments, but please be kind. We're making it up as we're going along. Literally.

It ought to be fun. Good luck to all of us....

More shuttle

Ian mentioned on his blog that he's been experiencing a lull in writing recently and he can't really explain it. I confess, I've been feeling a little draggy myself the last week. I try to post every day and for awhile there I was even managing to do it twice a day.

I knew that was risky. There's a well you tap when you write and I fear I might have burned through quite a bit of the reserves in September and October. Let's home there's enough left in the tank to get me through November.

Oh yes, the site isn't set up yet. Why? See previous post about the kind of mood I've been in this past week. However, even though it's Monday, and I'm taking a chance in writing this, I feel in a better mood. So I'll try and set it up this evening and then contact the people who have expressed an interest in driving themselves slowly mad over the next month.

In the meantime, here's another space shuttle pic. It's not like I go looking for them, I just happen to stumble across them. This photo was taken one some kind of odd technology called "film." Go here if you want the details. I think it's an interesting "reverse-angle" of the photo I put up last week.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


It goes without saying that I have a very wonderful wife, but I think I got a reminder of that the past few days. To say I haven't been in a fit mood would be an understatement. There was the tires being slashed that set things off, of course. I've also spent most of this week trying to do something that most people down south would take for granted...buying new tires.

The tires were slashed early Monday morning. I started calling around Monday afternoon to get replacements. I finally got them this afternoon. In-between I had one company say they didn't carry that brand and hang up on me, and other company not bother to return my messages and the one that finally got my business...well, it took some work. Now, they actually came to the apartment building and put the tires on for me, which was good. Driving to a garage on rims was not something I was looking forward to (a flatbed truck to transport the car was not an option).

Still, it took several days, repeated trips to their store and finally calling the owner on his cell phone before it got straightened out. Having said all that, I still haven't actually paid for the tires. And, just for a kicker, I still don't know how much they cost. Not that it matters, they were the best of a dubious bunch I've dealt with this week. Plus insurance is covering it.

The other thing that set me off was a taxi ride today. I had to walk to the airport to pick up our food mail order. As I wasn't walking back with a bunch of boxes, I called a taxi. On the ride to the apartment the driver asked if I owned the green Hyundai Accent parked in front of the building. I thought he was going to comment on the slashed tires, but he surprised me.

"Man, I drove past there a week or so ago and there was about seven or eight kids just jumping up and down on that car. It was unreal."

I swear to God, I could feel my blood pressure spike. I'm half-surprised I didn't drop dead from a stroke on the spot. You know, all I want is for them to not fuck with the car. Is that so much to ask? Not fucking with something.

I think it's just the frustration. Knowing the police couldn't do anything because they're all likely under 10. If I caught them I likely couldn't reason with them and they might even feel the urge to retaliate. And just to add to that, if I went to their parents the odds are they wouldn't do anything and likely not understand why I'm getting so upset.

So yeah, not a happy person. Cathy, god love her, just stayed out of my way. I've been a slow burn for days now. I try very hard not to snap or get irritable, but I know some of it as leaked out. She knows it's best to just leave me alone for a few hours and it'll work out of my system.

Which is pretty much what she did for part of last night (vastly annoyed about the fact I couldn't get a hold of anyone to talk about the tires) and finding out about the car stomping today, well, she knew enough to give me my space and let me play Civilizations for several hours (where I destroyed the Spanish, Incans and Greeks and I'm about to declare war on the Japanese. I've feeling a touch warlike right now for some reason).

Anyway, I'm calmer now and in a more civil mood which means my wife now feels safe to talk to me again. She's even got me to laugh several time. We have tires on the car and I think on Monday Cathy is going to mention to her students that some kids have been messing with her car, that it isn't very nice and she hopes it's no one in the school is doing it. With luck maybe word will get around and the screwing around with it will stop.

Because I really don't want to die of a stroke in Iqaluit. Over a Hyundai. That would be tragic. Or just really stupid.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Going down

When Danny Williams finally landed the Atlantic Accord I quipped that he was a lock to win the next provincial election until they found kiddie porn on his computer or something. Which is a good line and all, but not entirely true. Granted, it would be very difficult at this point for Williams to lose the next election.

However, I'm pretty certain one of the provincial ferries sinking with all hands aboard might just do it. They're getting lucky so far. This incident could have been much worse. Lives could have been lost. And having your Transportation Minister on record as saying something like this...

"We're going to have to deal with the fact that we only have so many ferries in the fleet. We have a very old fleet...We just can't go out and pick up a ferry down alongside the wharf that's waiting to be leased. That's just not available."

Which is essentially saying "We know people could die because our ferries are decrepit, but we're certainly not going to take an extraordinary measures and spend money."

It's the political equivalent of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. It's worked so far. It might keep working for quite some time. But if one of those ferries sink and people die, what with a report out there critical of the fleet, the Transportation Minister shrugging his shoulders and the Premier apparently uninterested, well, if it wasn't terminal for the current government then it certainly would be very damaging.

I appreciate that speculating on a disaster that would cost lives and its political impact is a touch cold. But somewhere in the halls of government that calculation has already been made, I'm sure. And yeah, the Liberals are just as guilty as the Conservatives for the state of the ferry fleet. They ignored it for the better part of the 14 years they were in power.

But people aren't going to remember the Liberals, although I'm sure the Conservatives would try awfully hard to spin in that way. They'll remember a report came out saying the fleet was in terrible shape and that the government went basically said there was nothing they could do for a couple more years.

So if a ferry goes down, it might just take a government with it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Travel and gadgets...

While it isn't etched in stone yet, it looks reasonably certain that we're going to travel to Costa Rica next July. We had concerns about how wet it was going to be at that time of the year. July is the "Green Season" in Costa Rica (which is their tourism board's nice way of phrasing "Rainy Season.") We didn't want to go and spend two weeks in the country and be soaking wet the entire time.

However, we think we've got parts of it sussed out. We'll spend a few days in the rain forest (where, you know, it tends to rain regardless of the time of year) and then head down to the Pacific coast where it's drier. It still rains, but from what we're reading when it does rain, it tends to be in the late afternoon, early evening, and for not that long.

So we're now in the early stages of figuring out what we would like to do, the exact places we're going to go, if we're going to go by ourselves or on a tour. I also need to get my vaccinations sorted as I should get my Twinrex for Hep A and B. So there is all sorts of things to get straightened out.

So what have I been doing the last few days? Checking out new cameras.

The theory being that if we're going to go to Costa Rica for a couple of weeks, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and scenic countries in the world, then I want a really good camera. My current camera, a Sony DSC-F717 is only three years old and it's a perfectly fine camera. And hell, it's the photographer, not the camera. Ian took some great pictures of Auyuittuq National Park with a Sony that is probably not as good as mine.

Hell, look at what Ansel Adams produced using a camera that was little more than a box with some glass and mirror. However, I am not Ansel Adams. Not even remotely close. So I need every bit of help I can get. That means getting a very nice digital camera.

I was reminded of all of this by looking at some of the great pictures Dups has been putting up on his blog recently. Now Dups is quite the good photographer. However, he's also helped by the fact that he's using a Nikon D70. It's a heck of a nice camera. It's also a heck of an expensive camera, further confirming the suspicion that Visa and Mastercard are going to have to start pimping Dups to get their money back from him.

Anyway, I'm in the middle of doing research for a new camera. There are a bunch of good camera review sites - DP Reviews, Steve's Digicam, Image Resource and Digital Camera Resource - that I've been going through. The problem is they're all pretty much saying the same thing - they're all really good cameras I'm looking at with a few faults that might bug you. So it's a matter of sorting through it all.

Of course, I still need to actually hold the cameras in my hands. Reviews are fine and all, but there is nothing like holding the camera in your hands, seeing how it feels and actually playing with it a bit.

What am I looking at? These are the contenders...

Pentax K10 (which is coming out next month)

Canon Digital Rebel XTi

Olympus Evolt 500

Nikon D80

Pentax K100

Sony Alpha

So yeah, a few toys to go through. And not cheap. The base, without any lens, is going to be between $700-$1,000. Plus the costs of at least two lens, memory card, maybe a flash, plus a camera bag. It's going to be expensive, so I want to make sure. Plus, once you commit to a camera name brand, and start to buy their lens, you're kind of stuck with them for life. Well, you can switch, but it is a pain in the ass.

Not sure when I'm getting it. Probably in the new year, unless someone out there loves me enough to buy me one for Christmas or my birthday. You all love me, right? I provide amusement and entertainment. You want to buy me a ridiculously expensive gift, right?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Not much...

Yeah, I got nothing this evening. I got home at 5:40, grabbed a quick supper, walked to the curling club at 6:30, curled for two hours or so, then got home at around 9:15. Then there was spending a little bit of time with my wife and also cleaning up the dishes since it was my turn.

All of which is a bit dull (although we won 11-0 in curling, but that had more to do with the team all being rookies then any over-whelming skill on my part), but gets to the point that

A. I haven't had much down time this evening.
B. I haven't had much time to think of anything particularly witty to write.

I also got tagged by Vicky to answer the question "What are 5 Things Feminism Has Done For Me?" Which should be fascinating. I wonder exactly how much trouble I can get into answering that question?

Oh, and one last thing. Take a look at this post on Claire's blog. That is one heck of a nice knife he's getting made. I'm envious...

In orbit

I don't know if these pics are real or not. I originally saw them on Warren Ellis blog and a couple of people in Ellis comments section have expressed some doubt about them. But I haven't seen anyone outright discredit them.

I hope they're real. They're beautiful shots of the last space shuttle launch as seen from the International Space Station. Stuff like this, it's why I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid.

I still hope I get into space one day. If there is a great disapointment in my life it's how space travel has essentially gone nowhere during my 36 years on this planet. We were supposed to be on Mars now with a base on the moon. sigh...

Anyway, the pics...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


So let's see where we stand on various things...

1. Never believe it when kids relay information. Turns out it wasn't 37, but 12 cars that had their tires slashed. Still a sucky number, but not as bad as 37 (Although as a side effect, I now have Dante Hicks from "Clerks" screaming "37!" in my head. My head is a strange place, as you might imagine). A brief discussion with the police also revealed two of the three are young offenders. The third had the misfortune of recently turning 18. So we'll see what happens when it makes it to the courts.

2. Finally managed to order some tires today, which we should have by Friday at the latest. And in a nice touch, they will come to the apartment and put on the tires, rather than me having to drive the car to the garage on its rims. No idea how much it will cost, but insurance will apparently cover everything past $250 and it won't effect our rates. So the past couple of days have been a nuisance, but not as bad as it could have been.

3. Actually, one of the benefits of the past few days is that I've been walking back and forth to work, including at lunch time. I can do it at a brisk pace in about 15 minutes. So I'm getting some much needed exercise.

4. Speaking of exercise, I had my first curling game of the season this evening. I think I'll be curling twice a week - the men's league on Tuesday and the mixed league on Wednesday. I'm the skip in the mixed league, which is nice, but not a lot of exercise. So I shot lead stones this evening and nearly died. It's sort of pathetic how much I'm out of shape.

I almost felt bad for the other team this evening. We drew names out of a hat to see who would be on each team. The luck of the draw put four people who normally skip on our team. The guy who actually skipped just moved to Iqaluit from Manitoba where he played on a team that routinely competed in the Brier playdowns in the province. So yeah, we won 10-1 this evening. It was ugly. But a heck of a lot of fun when you're the 10 as opposed to the 1.

5. I don't normally talk about work too much, but there was an interesting little development yesterday. Work regularly blocks certain site. I'm pretty sure most porn sites are blocked (I've never been so idiotic as to check). So is Flickr and MySpace. Anything with streaming video and audio is blocked (it eats bandwidth, which is expensive up here). And yesterday, well, yesterday they blocked blogger.

I don't blog at work, because that would be dumb. But I have been known to check the odd blog during a down minute. Not anymore. Anything with blogspot.com has been blocked. Ah well. I guess I'll just have to work or something...

TV stuff

Let's see if I can find something to lighten my mood given all that's happened yesterday. Ahhh, TV. "Let us all bask in television's warm glowing warming glow…"

1. Andrew Ryan of the Globe and Mail is predicting the axe could fall for Studio 60 this week. It's now drawing less than eight million people and for a show that hyped, and that expensive, it's disastrous. It's not a bad show, but I admit it's been shaky since its debut. Last week's episode was pretty good; the one airing last night was hit and miss. There is some good stuff, but I honestly don't know if Sorkin has a clue at what he's trying to do here. Ryan does make some good points about what's wrong with the show, including the sad assessment that it's also likely too smart and a bit arrogant about it. Oh, and the comedy remains unfunny. That's not good.

Pity though, since Matthew Perry, as I've said before, is fantastic. I'll be sorry to see his character go if nothing else.

2. The Amazing Race saw one of the nicest acts I've ever seen on a reality program. For those who don't know all the details of how the show works – twice in the run of the race there is a challenge called a "Fast Forward." If you get it, you can skip all the other challenges and run to the finish line. If you go there and it's gone, you have to go and do the regular challenges with the other competitors, but odds are you're now far behind.

The married couple David and Mary, also known as "Kentucky" by the other racers, were in last place and needed to finish first. So they were debating going for it. A pair of obnoxious cheerleaders also decided to go for it. To help out Kentucky another pair of competitors, The Cho Brothers, psyched out the cheerleaders by saying they were going for the Fast Forward. Rather than race against them, the cheerleaders backed out. Once that happened, the brothers helped "Kentucky" sneak away and send them off to the Fast Forward. They gained nothing by doing this and actually put themselves behind. They did it because they liked that team and wanted to help them out. Kentucky finished first in that leg of the race (and won a nice Jamaican vacation). The Cho's finished fourth and get to keep racing, showing that good things can happen if you do nice things.

It was extraordinary. I'm seriously cheering for the Cho's now, although four of the six teams left are actually pretty likeable.

The team that loss was Peter and Mary While I do like Mary and was impressed with what she accomplished using her artifical leg, her boyfriend was a major ass (or at least edited to seriously resemble one). I almost wonder if they threw that leg of the race rather than continue on with each other.

3. I'm not prepared to even come close to saying Battlestar Galactica is the best sci-fi show ever (as some will loudly prnounce online). But Saturday's episode was certainly the finest sci-fi TV I've seen in many years. Spectacular action sequences both on the ground and "in space" not to mention just a ton of solid, intriguing drama (tell me you weren't glued to the TV wondering if Tigh was going to deal with his treasonous wife or not). The first four episodes were very, very good. Now the catch will be to see how they handle what comes next. I've lamented in previous years that the show's season can start with a bang and end with one, but lags horribly in the middle. Well, that was quite a bang. Now let's see how they handle the fallout over the next few weeks.

4. Finally, Ken Jennings has something on his blog about "One vs. 100" and sums up pretty nicely many of the problems I have with the show. There's a lot of potential, but the questions are very simple and it's entirely too easy for the One to walk away with a couple of hundred thousand dollars, leaving the mob will almost no chance to win anything. You can be five fairly simple questions in and have $100,000. Now, do you stick around, knowing it's going to be almost impossible to bump off the ones left because they're with Mensa or brain surgeons, or do you take the 100 grand and run?

Most are choosing the later. Can't say I blame them. Only one person has lost out of five competitors and that's because he was really, really dumb. I won't get into the mechanics, but let's just say he sided against Jennings on a question. Granted, Jennings got a question wrong later, but that was one about roulette wheels. Maybe I'll assume that a good Mormon doesn't know much about Roulette wheels. But a question about the last name of the Jessica stuck in the well back in the 80s? Yeah, I'll side with Jennings on that one.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday, Monday...

So yeah, we've had a nice day today. I mean, appreciate most people think Mondays suck, but this one is kicking it up a notch.

First, let us backtrack to a point late Friday night, early Saturday morning when someone decided to pitch a rock at our living room window. The glass is double paned, but the outside one was cracked quite nicely. The inside pane survived intact. Still, it was going to have to be replaced. And that was dealt with today so hopefully we'll have new glass in the next week.

But that was just the appetizer. When I went to get in the car this morning I discovered that someone thoughtfully let the air out of all four tires on our car. I think I probably stood there just stunned for several minutes. Then I walked to work. I could have got a cab, but really, I needed the walk to calm down. It wasn't until I was half way to work that it dawned on me that the tires were probably slashed. I was still mentally operating on the bizarre notion that someone had taken the time to let the air out of each tire using the nozzle, as opposed to the more simple, direct and efficient method of stabbing it with a knife.

So at anywhere from $150 to $200 a tire, this is a nice chunk of change (although it appears insurance will cover most of it. I say appears because this is, after all, an insurance company). I spent the better part of the morning fuming and trying to get a few things done. That included filing a report with the RCMP. Understand that I viewed that as five minutes of my life that I was never going to get back. Unless you catch them in the act or someone turns them in, vandals are rarely caught.

And really, the RCMP in Iqaluit have enough to do. I don't begrudge them for not throwing tremendous resources at vandalism when they're trying to stop the drug trade, spousal abuse, break and enters and lots of other things. But I was still pissed that this was going to go unpunished.

Then I came back from lunch and found out they apparently caught them. So good on the RCMP. Although, to be fair, if you go and slash the tires of 37 vehicles as these three fine examples of genetic waste did, the odds of you being caught do go up dramatically. No idea of their age, but I will bet good money they're young offenders.

Chatting with one of my lawyer friends pretty much confirmed what I thought...that the odds of anything serious being done to them are slim. It's "just" property damage, never mind that it's probably going to run close to $30,000 to replace all the tires they slashed (a company in town had $50,000 worth of damage done to its bus fleet recently). I know I'll never get the money from them. The idea of taking them to Small Claims Court is a joke. But I would dearly love the idea of them doing community service to each person whose car they vandalized. At a rate of about $25 an hour and at a cost of about $800 to myself and Cathy, one of them (I don't need all four, just one) could work it off to me in about 30 to 35 hours.

And I can assure you, I will find things for them to do. Oh yes...

The next racket I suspect is going to be with the building's owners. Since we moved there three months ago we've had the car broken into twice (including the leaving of a rotting fish on the passenger seat) and there are people regularly (about twice a week) walking on the car. I know this because I can see the muddy foot prints on the roof. This is the same roof, by the way, that I've had to pop back into place several times.

So yeah, I'm done now. I shouldn't have to get rid of a car or move it to someone else's house in the hopes that it will be more secure. At the very least they're going to put a security camera there to monitor the parking area and a warning sign stating the area is under video surveillance. It's a high traffic area. It's the absolute least they can do. So that's the next fight.

So yeah, quite a day.

One final note...this isn't meant, just in case anyone thinks it, as a rant against Iqaluit or the Inuit. For one thing, I don't even know the ethnicity of the people who did the slashing nor do I care. And I've had a car fucked around with when I lived in St. John's. You live Downtown, it's going to happen on occasion.

This is just...infuriating. I just want to throttle people who do petty, stupid things like this. It's the cost, the waste of time and the mood it puts me in. I've been just seething all day. It's like this dark cloud hanging over head. I nearly snapped Cathy's head off over lunch...that's the kind of mood I've been in. I don't care what your ethnicity is or where it happens. It just pisses me off.

Anyway, a nicer post next time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I'm still not sure I'm using Switchpod the way I'm supposed to. I think I'm supposed to record a broadcast and all that jazz instead of loading up three songs and talking about them. But the hell with it. I don't think anyone is going to complain.

Anyway, first up is Colleen Power. I've got OM pretty addicted to her even though she's only heard a few songs. But this one is cute as well. Considering all the times OM had to go up the road mentioned in the song (not to mention probably dealing with crazy obsessive friends over the years) I thought she might get a kick out of it.

Torbay Road

Covering Gordon Lightfoot is a dicey prospect under the best of circumstances. Covering "Sundown" is probably second only to "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" in terms of foolishness. But if you're Ron Sexsmith, you get a lot of leeway. And this is a good cover.


Tom Waits has a new record coming out next month and I've already heard one of the songs. It already sounds better than anything off his last three records, so that's a good sign. This is a basically a bootleg. Several years ago he appeared on VH1 Storytellers. Bizarrely, there was no CD released from the concert. However, bootlegs are in no short supply online. This is one of my favourites from it. Also, every song comes with a story. It's well worth hunting down if you can find it.

Hang Down Your Head

Awake on a Sunday morning

A couple of days ago OM inquired as to exactly how I could be posting early in the mornings, especially since she herself tended to be either far too busy with her son, or far more determine to sleep some more, to want to do anything in the way of writing at 8 a.m.

And the truth of it is, I seem to have lost the ability to sleep in. It's a little disturbing to me. Sleeping in until 10 or 11 a.m., hell even until noon, was something I enjoyed. I was really good at it. So good that I converted Cathy to the cause. When we first started going out, she used to dliligently be up at 8 a.m. or so, even on weekends. Now it's 10 a.m. on a Sunday and she's still sound asleep. I've been up for about 45 minutes.

This is concerning for me. They say the older you get, the less sleep you need. I used to enjoy a solid 10 hours some nights. These days eight hours or so is not a bad accomplishment.

So rather than blaming it on me getting old, I'm going to blame it on our bed.

As has been mentioned frequently, we live in government subsidized housing. And with this housing comes furniture. That includes a double bed which is just barely big enough for the two of us to sleep on. So either the slightly cramped quarters or the quality of the mattress means that after about eight hours, my back locks up. So I can certainly still lie in bed, but all it means is discomfort and waking up Cathy with my tossing and turning.

So here I sit in the living room, awake on a Sunday morning. I feel so ashamed.

I'd test this out when we go home for Christmas, but I suspect the sleeping arrangements are going to be strange enough when we go home. Nothing like being a married couple coming home for the first time with no apartment and having to crash at your parents. But which parents and for how long?

Should be fun...not with so much going on I'll be getting much in the way of sleep anyway...

Friday, October 20, 2006

House of Pods

So things are getting a little crazy on the iPod front at home, as this photo probably proves...

Yeah, for of the damn things. I'm such a Mac whore. The white one is my old iPod. The blue one is a Mini that Cathy owns. The black one is my new 80 gig iPod. And the silver one? That's a Nano that we just got the other day. And it's not for me or Cathy, it's for my mom.

Mom doesn't check the blog, so there's no worries about her seeing it. And for those of you who know her, don't say anything...

My mother is notoriously difficult to buy for, but this year she got the idea that one of those MP3 players she hears so much about might be nice since she keeps breaking discmans whenever she goes out for a walk with her dog.

(Do they still make discmans?)

So voila! A nice and easy Christmas gift for her. It's so rare.

Of course, what I need to do now is load up her Nano with music before I give it to her. Mom has many rendemptive qualities, but I suspect knowing how to load an iPod without assistance is unlikely.

This means I will be destroying part of my soul this weekend acquiring the kind of music she likes. This means Celine Dion, Anne Murray, Abba, Rod Stewart and Garth Brooks just to name a few. I got beaten up in Grade 3 because of my mother's love of ABBA.

Basically, I was in music class and the teacher who who our favourite musical act was. I was asked first and because mom was listen to ABBA all the time, and I didn't know any better, that's who I said. Alas, a trend quickly developed in the class where all the girls liked ABBA and all the boys liked Kiss.

So naturally I was beaten up at recess. Ah, youth...

So yeah, ABBA sucks.

But at least iPod will make my mother happy...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

In threes...

The theory with the Prime Minister's plan of keeping a tight noose on cabinet is that it will keep the Tories from making stupid mistakes. Tight discipline means a tight ship. No mistakes means a government that stands a much better chance of geting reelected.

The thing is, I don't think it's going to work. In the short term it does. Fear works in doses and when you're in a minority government situation people with large egos who like to talk a lot will try extreme measures such as shutting up and listening to your leader.

But you knew it was going to break down. It wasn't going to last. Too many egos. Too many "ooops" moments were going to happen. And the last couple of days pretty much have shown that.

There was Loyola yesterday and his shot at Paul McCartney. You know, it was a bit of a cheap shot. I'm not going to defend McCartney...he shouldn't have come over and messed with the seal hunt in the first place.

But to go and make jokes and gloat about helping dissolve his marriage....why? It just looked stupid and petty. Even the Premier had the sense to stay away from it. Would that Hearn shared it.

Then there was the racket with Garth Turner being kicked out of caucus, something that's probably going to backfire. If Turner joins the Greens, that could be very interesting. It could backfire on Harper a lot. It could give the environmental lobby a very loud voice in the House of Commons. All to get rid of a MP who was being a bit vocal.

But if bad things come in threes, then boy did Peter MacKay pull a doozie. I mean, it was a great quick and snarky comment. If I were a bitter and jilted man, it's something I might have come up with. So part of me can appreciate it.

But, you know, if you're the Minister for Foreign Affairs standing in the House of Commons, maybe you pass up the obvious zinger. Maybe you don't call your ex a dog.

So, it's been a beauty last few days for the Conservatives. And you get the feeling it's just getting started. Because if you want to throw in a fourth bad thing, the Conservatives new environment platform didn't exactly set the world on fire today. And with a minority government, I'm not optimistic about the odds of it getting passed.

You think the Prime Minister is regretting that whole "winning the election" thing right about now?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Novel challenge

So, for those of you who don't know what National Novel Writing Month is, go here, do a little quick reading and then pop back. We'll wait…

Are we done? Good.

I've been trying to tackle this son of a bitch for several years now. My good friend, and eerie psychic, Anne (she predicted myself and Cathy would get married about a month after we started dating) has been pestering me on this for years. It got to the point that she attempted to withhold a Christmas gift until I gave her the first chapter of my book. Others have also bugged me, most recently OM, who took a delicate little shot at me during that Book Tag meme by writing that the novel not yet written she'd most like to read would be mine.

The thing is, writing a novel is goddamn hard. I have lamented this before and will do so again, just for the record. It involves moving and using mental muscles that have never been used before. It's not enough to just have an idea, although count yourself fortunate if you have a good one. It involves developing a plot, story and character arcs and dialogue. Not to mention grand ideas such as theme if you want to get really fancy.

I've tried National Novel Writing Month before and failed. I normally get a couple of thousand words in and then the story dies a slow, miserable death of neglect. Yet, I am once again going to try it this year. Because I am that big of a masochist.

But this time, there are a few catches.

First, I'm going to be posting my writing online. No, not on this blog as it will clutter things up. I'm creating a separate blog, either on Blogger or Wordpress, where I will post my writing. I will try every day, but the goal is to hit 50,000 by the end of November. It will, just for the record, be unbelievable crap. So those of you with smoking jackets and pipes, who like looking for the themes in Sylvia Plath books and are eagerly awaiting the chance to make snide comments should wander elsewhere. It's a big Internet; feel free to get lost there.

Next, if I'm going to be miserable, who wants to join me? That's right, kids. It's a challenge. Not only do I want to see people do the National Novel Writing Month challenge, I want them to post their writing right alongside mine. I'll make the blog one of those where people you become a member and can also post. I'll work on the details. I still have two weeks.

The point being, those who take me up on this challenge get to post their writing up there with mine. And hopefully the quality and frequency will inspire us to get better.

This is the plan. Oh, and just in case this gets out of hand, as plans of mine sometimes tend to, we'll limit it to 12 people.

So...any takers?

Dorset, part II

Because a few people inquired, here are the prints that Cathy likes out of the Dorset collection. Surprisingly we do agree on one - the print of the fish that I posted previously.

Here are the other two she likes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Converstations with Cathy

Cathy: (upon reading Dups latest adventures in the wilderness) Well, that settles it. I'm never going on vacation with Dups.

Craig: I didn't think his latest adventures were that bad.

Cathy: He went camping with Mike in sub-zero temperatures in the middle of nowhere Alberta without any food.

Craig: Well, bad for Dups. Not so much for Mike. Dups is a vegetarian, Mike isn't. If worse had come to worse, I like Mike's odds better.

Cathy: And they tried to break Ted (Martin)'s record for most number of Golden Hammers (Strongbow with a shot of whiskey) consumed in an evening.

Craig: Admittedly, that's a bit worrying. Ted, in his prime, had the liver of a Norse God. It was a foolish record to try and break that. But after Mongolia God only knows the state of his biology. He may have a Super Liver. He might have developed a secondary liver as a defence mechanism to protect his body from the abuse.

Cathy: And I don't even want to get into the Bibliomancy thing.

Craig: So I can never go on vacation with Dups either, then?

Cathy: You can go if it's just you and Dups. You and Dups with other people is not allowed.

Craig: So me, Dups, Seamus and Myrick, for example...

Cathy: Are you insane?

Craig: So that's a no.

Cathy: The only way it happens is if OM went along. It's the only conceivable way I could see you coming back alive.

Craig: Frankly, I still wouldn't give good odds.

Cathy: Well, if you insist on going just let me know so I can take out a large life insurance policy in advance.

Craig: I feel the love, babe.

Cathy: If you're going to go kill yourself, then at least I need to have the money to lead a comfortable life as a widow.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cape Dorset

For all that Newfoundland likes to brag the depths of its arts community, there are still places that can put it to shame. It was several months ago, I believe, that Stats Canada cited the community with the most number of people calling themselves artists, per capita, in Canada. And that place was in Nunavut.

It's a little community on the southern part of Baffin Island called Cape Dorset. About 22 per cent of the roughly 1,000 people living there call themselves artists. Here's a story from earlier the year that talks a bit more about it.

The reason I mention this is that one of the events of the year in Iqaluit is when the Dorset Fine Arts print collection hits town. Which just so happens to be this weekend. We went to the museum last year to take a look at it and loved some of the work that was there. Alas, we had been in town less than two months, I wasn't working and bills were still rolling in from the wedding and the move. So we really couldn't justify buying a print (and they're a print in the right sense of the word, Mireille).

So now we have this year's collection, which will be available for viewing and purchase this weekend. For those who can't wait, or who aren't near a galley featuring this year's collection you can go to their website, which is here.

There are some nice prints there, but as might be expected, myself and Cathy haven't really managed to agree on a print that we both like. And really, if you're talking about spending anywhere from $400 to $1,000 it would be nice to agree on the print.

Anyway, these are the three I like.

Oh, I should also mention that Cape Dorset also does some of the finest sculptures around. You can also buy those (and sculptures by Iqaluit artists) at the museum. If you ever visit Iqaluit for the love of God be careful where you buy your sculptures. Some places in town charge a lot of money. The museum has the best prices.

Note I'm not saying which place pays artists the most. I simply do not know. Just because some places charge a lot doesn't mean the artists are getting a lot. Just because some places charge less, doesn't mean they're gouging the artists. I simply do not know.

And for that matter, you can always go to one of the restaurants at the Frobisher Inn. People routinely walk through each restaurant selling items.

Despair Mondays

A slight change from the politcal this week...

Sorry that I don't have a more recent picture of Boo to put up on the blog, but I can assure you he's just as cute, not much bigger, a touch fluffier and just as big of an imp.

Mixed weekend

It's warm in the arctic tonight. I'm actually sweating a bit in my apartment and resisting the urge to crack open a window to cool off. Environment Canada says it 2C as I type this with a high in the next 24 hours of 4C. There was some snow on the ground in the higher elevations around town today, but I doubt much of it is going to survive this evening, especially with a nice layer of fog hanging over the town.

So yeah, this is slight weirdness. It's the 15th of October and there is no snow on the ground. The ground itself is muck and needless to say there is no ice to be found anywhere in the harbour. And by the forecast, there isn't going to be much snow on the ground for the next week. Winter was well along this time last year.

As for this weekend, it was one of mixed results. There was a lot of stuff we needed to get done. And we got a nice chunk of it done. Funny thing is, the stuff that was related to work or school managed to fall by the wayside.

Cleaning the apartment? Done. Doing the laundry? Done. Cleaning up and backing up my computer? Done. Playing with my new iPod? Done. Well, it was work to an extent. I had to back up my music and load up stuff onto the new iPod. I have learned the lesson of a year ago when I didn't back up my iPod and when it crashed I lost about 3500 songs. So that's work-ish.

Oddly enough, the school work that I needed to get finished is not complete. The work work that I needed to get done remains unfinished. However, I'm in good company as Cathy brought work home and it magically didn't get completed.

Ah well. I guess I'm just out of practice. I used to bring home work all the time when with the Express, but I haven't done much since I've been here. And I haven't done school work in years. So I'll have to get back into the habit.

But hey...at least the new iPod is fully loaded. Five thousand songs that I can listen to while at work. That's the important thing...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Switchpod test...

I'm still not completely happy with the way Switchpod is working for me, so this is only going to be an occasional thing. That's assuming this actually works. So here are three songs as a test to see if it works.

The first is by Neko Case. For some reason, I think of Mireille when I listen to this song. She's written that she's into sad music lately, and this is a sad piece of music sung beautifully.

I Wish I Was The Moon.

I include this just because I have often spoke highly of Sean Panting many, many times. And this is one of my favourites of his "Victrola" CD.

Beautiful One

And this is included because it is simply the filthiest song I've heard in quite some time. Yes, there are plenty of rap songs that have more profanity and are probably just as explicit. But there's just something about this song that had me laughing. It's by Loudon Wainwright III off a CD call "Rogue's Gallery" - a selection of sea shanties. Many of the songs are terrible, to be honest. But this is amusing. I wonder if anyone in Newfoundland has covered it before.

Good Ship Venus

Anyway, let me know if this works, and what you think.

Some entertainment notes

1. Always happy to see, even if it is in baby steps, the return of Roger Ebert. The man can’t remember July and August. From the sounds of it, he was in a medically induced coma. Jesus…

2. One of the first big events I covered as a reporter (or at least it felt like it at the time) was the 1993 East Coast Music Awards. Myself and Chris Smith covered it for The Muse. Now, I like music quite a bit, but Chris was always into more than I was and had a touch with local musicians that I never did.

I’ve seen Chris on and off over the years. Ironically, we kept running into each other at the 2004 ECMAs and we were using the same kind of camera (a Sony DSC-F717). That’s about where the similarity ends. I’m not a bad photographer. Chris is an exceptional one. And now he has the exhibit to prove it. I’m a bit envious. Still, good on him and I’m glad to see he’s doing well.

See kids. Being part of the Muse is good for you. And they mocked us all for being left-wing, cliquish, feminist queers back in the 90s.


Although, to be fair, just about everyone on staff were either some or all of the above at that time.


3. Sci-fi television doesn’t begin and end with Battlestar Galactica these days, but it isn’t far from it. The picking are slim. Yes, there is Heroes, Jericho (sort of) and some stuff on cable (Eureka is kind of cute). And there are the Stargates. Haven’t gotten into Atlantis and SG-1 is hit and miss with me. Not that it mattered, I thought, because SG-1 had been cancelled.

But there was this interesting bit of news about two direct to DVD movies (also known online as D2DVD) featuring SG-1. Depending on how they do, this might be the way the show comes out from now on.

There’s also talk about Joe Michael Straczynski doing the same thing with Babylon 5. There’s something being staffed in Vancouver, according to Warren Ellis, called Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, which is a D2DVD anthology series.

With so many quality shows on TV tanking these days (the critics might love Smith, Studio 60, Kidnapped and The Nine, but audiences have clearly not embraced them) I'll be curious to see that if these two shows do well and if this becomes another model to distribute programming. Most D2DVD stuff is crap (Butterfly Effect 2, anyone?). But there certainly is a fan base clamoring for more Stargate and Babylon 5. If it works, we might see more programming go this route, or via iTunes or You Tube (I know the joke has been made already, but with Google buying You Tube, doesn’t that make it now Goo Tube? And isn’t that a little gross sounding?)

Anyway, time will tell. And I certainly wouldn't mind seeing some more Babylon 5. Or Studio 60, which I suspect might last to the end of the season, if it's lucky...

Friday, October 13, 2006

You got this wrong?

I now officially despair for the U.S. education system.

We just finished watching the new NBC show One vs. 100. It's a fairly simple trivia quiz show. Questions are asked. If the one person gets it right, they go on. For every member of the "mob" (the 100 people) they bump off (because they got the question wrong), they get a dollar amount. The longer they go, the more each person is worth when you bump them off. Of course, the longer people last, the smarter they tend to be and harder to get rid of.

At any point, the One can bail and take whatever money they've gotten. If they get a question wrong, the money in the pot is split among the surviving mob members. And the mob is rigged. Ken Jennings from Jeopardy was there. There were PhDs and others as well.

Fair enough. It has some potential and at least it moves along faster than the interminable Deal or No Deal.

The problem is, the question are really, really dumb. I mean, I got one question wrong and it some pop trivia thing involving Jessica Simpson. Everything else was really simple.

But fair enough, not everything has to be Jeopardy level trivia. Jennings quite entertaining book proved that. There are all kinds of trivia games and they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. But here's the question that broke me. The one that had me wanting to throw something at the TV set.

"On the show Deal or No Deal, of the 26 cases used, how many of them feature numbers divisible by three?"

So you understand that anyone who has passed Grade 4 math should know this, right? The One in the show got it right, barely. She almost got it wrong.

However, 18 people in the mob got it wrong. Eighteen people got elementary school math wrong and didn't know the answer was eight.

I despair sometimes, I really do.


Once again my lovely, and far wiser wife, has likely saved me from doing something rash. I appreciate that going postal isn't something that's easily done over the Internet, none the less, the intent crossed my mind. Remember, my father is a letter carrier. I do have postal genes.

So this is the way it goes...for the record, I have never plagiarized during my writing career. That includes my time with The Muse, The Evening Telegram, The Packet, The Express and all freelancing. I have never plagiarized during by brief blogging career. The fact that no evidence has been shown that I have and there's only the accusation of an anonymous poster should mean that I don't even have to say anything to defend myself.

Nonetheless, I wanted to clear that up. If anonymous wants to post where this magic bit of supposed thievery occurred, it is more that welcome to do so. It won't, of course. Best to leave it vague and with doubts. Otherwise, all other posts from this particular anonymous poster will be deleted. His last message in the previous post will stand, but that's pretty much it. Other anonymous posts, for now, will stand.

Why? Because this is diminishing some of the pleasure I get from blogging here. And Cathy is right. It's not worth it.

And to everyone who came to my defence, my thanks. It's always reassuring to see friends come to your aid, even over something as minor as this.

So that's that. Let us move onto other things...


There are several things I like about the Newfoundland and Labrador Blogroll. Not so much the technology behind it, which has been kind of wonky as of late. But the blogroll itself has introduced me to many good "local" writers and produced a nice sense of community. We're not perfect, by any means. I don't read every local blog. Not all of them are to my taste, but that is also to be expected.

And we don't all get along and place nice. There are differences in politics and whatnot. And while things get passionate, they generally remain civil. No matter how much Ed and Liam might argue, you get the feeling that they'd be just as willing to do it over a beer as they would be online.

I like that. I'm glad to be a part of it. It's a nice community. I hope we all get together over Christmas like we've talked about.

Which is why it's a touch vexing I've been attacked twice this week and on matters considerably less heavy than politics. Because I honestly don't recall seeing anything like it on other local blogs, although someone can feel free to correct me on that.

Oh, it's nothing serious. In truth, I might have over-reacted a touch. Then again, if there was ever such a thing as perfectly bad timing to take a shot at me, both "anonymous" and "Bagwatts" managed to find them. It hasn't been a horrific week in the north, but there have been a few more stresses than normal which has left me in a mood unwilling to benignly accept cheap shots.

And let's not kid ourselves - accusing me of being a thief (which, for the record Bagwatts, set me off), a bad speller (a seriously "what the fuck" moment. It's a blog. I'm lucky if I have time to do a quick edit and spell check before posting) and stupid because I don't cite fine works of literature and like comic books - is some petty stuff. Why would you even bother? First rule of Internet - do I really need to respond to that? Most times if it's going to be negative, the answer is no.

So yeah, if they're not the same person, or if they don't know each other, then it's a hell of a coincidence that they both landed here and did something that I haven't seen on any other NL blog in more than a year.

I'm not going to take my toys and go home. It's just...disappointing. And I confess that a bad week and slightly rusty skills in handling personal attacks may have let me go over the top a bit. Perhaps I should have just ignored them or deleted them

It's a nice community. Hopefully this is just a blip that will pass.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Book tag

Ian tagged me on this one, and while I don't always respond to tags (OM is notorious for sending me chain mail) this one is fun. Also, just because I can, I'm using favourite book and comic book. I have lots and lots of both and way too many favourites…

1. One Book That Changed My Life
I think it would be "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke. It was the first "adult" novel I read when I was about 10-12 years old. I was just enthralled with the book and spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the end meant because it wasn't "Happily ever after". It was the first time I realized that science fiction, at its best, is far more than big action sequences, aliens and space ships trying to blow each other up (ie. Star Wars).

The one comic book that changed by life was "The Anatomy Lesson" from #21 of Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore. Which might sound silly, but 25 years later it remains a masterpiece on the level of Edgar Allan Poe in terms of crafting a truly scary and disturbing story. It was the first time I realized that comics could be more than guys in tights beating each other up.

2. One Book I Have Read More Than Once
"Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Yes, maybe it should be some great piece of literature. But I've lost one copy of this book from lending it out so much and had another destroyed from over-reading. I'm on my third copy. Fifteen years after it came out it remains one of the funniest books I've ever read.

Comic book wise I'm going with "The Complete Frank Miller Batman" which contains two of the best Batman stories ever written – "Year One" and "The Dark Knight Returns." It laid the ground work for every cinematic version of Batman since 1988. Except for the horrific "Batman and Robin" which was inspired by Joel Shumacher's wallet not having enough cash in it so he decided to sell his soul to toy companies.

3. One Book I Would Want On A Desert Island
So here's the rub, would I pick a book that everyone tells me I should read just so I'm finally forced to go through it out of sheer boredom, or something I genuinely love? Because the only time I was able to get through the terrible "The Shipping News", which everyone told me I had to read, was when I was in South Korea and desperate for anything written in English.

So if it's the former, I'd go with "Lord of the Rings" in the hope I might find out why people love this book and I've been bored into a coma within 10 pages. If it's the later, then I would pick the "Complete Short Stories of Arthur C. Clarke." And yes, the "SAS Survival Guide" might be more useful, but I'm going with the assumption someone is going to rescue me before starvations sets in.

The comic book would be "Absolute Watchmen" by Alan Moore. Given enough time I might finally figure out all the narrative tricks he used in completing what Time Magazine called one of the 100 greatest novels of the 20 th century.

4. One Book That Made Me Laugh
I already used "Good Omens", so instead I'll use "Bloodsucking Fiends" by Christopher Moore. Almost anything by Moore is funny (his funniest idea is still "The Stupidest Angel" about the Christmas Angel accidentally unleashing a plague of zombies on Christmas Eve who chant "First we feast, then IKEA.", but it's more of a novella than a full book), but this was his first book, which I picked up on a lark and was floored by how funny it was.

Comic book – "The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius" by Judd Winick. A foul mouth 10-year-old, who just happens to be the smartest person on the planet, and his well meaning, not so bright, hormonally over-charged best friend and the weirdness that they get involved in. I've laughed so hard while reading this on public transportation that I was unable to explain why a comic was doing this to me. Find it, seriously.

5. One Book That Made Me Cry
A tough one. Not because I'm so macho that I don't cry, just having a hard time remembering one. I think I got upset several times while reading "Shake Hands With The Devil" by Romeo Dallaire. The poor bastard.

Comic Book - "Maus" by Art Spiegelman. The story of a Holocaust survivor as told to his son. However, both are portrayed as mice while the Nazis are portrayed as cats. It sounds stupid, but it's a masterpiece and is at least as emotionally powerful as "Schindler's List." It also won the Pulitzer Prize, the only graphic novel to do so.

6. Two Books I Wish Had Been Written
"Craig, this is how you write a novel and become rich"

"Final Foundation" by Isaac Asimov.

Comic Book – "Barry Ween: Boy Genius in Space" by Judd Winick.

7. One Book I Wish Had Never Been Written
"Lure of the Labrador Wild", which a high school English teacher once described to me as "like reading Revelations backwards". Not entirely sure what that means, but it was said in a context that indicated it was horrible. And it is. Part of my problem with high school English is far too often terrible books are selected. And really, if you ever want some of these kids to read again, let alone pick up another novel, this book should be banned from the Newfoundland curriculum. Just a dreadfully dry, dull, boring book. I understand it's still being taught. May God have mercy on their souls…

I'm not especially proud of that "Charles Barkley vs. Godzilla" comic I bought back in the day, but there has been much worse. Probably Todd McFarlene's "Spawn" because it was a mediocre comic that had plenty of dramatic, and not always positive, impacts on the comic industry and many of its professional.

8. One Book I Am Currently Reading
"Two Trains Running" by Andrew Vachss. "The Custodian of Paradise" by Wayne Johnson is up next. Oh, I don't know if "Lonely Planet: Costa Rica " counts.

Comic Book – Just finished rereading "300" by Frank Miller. Waiting for Ed Brubaker's run on "Captain America" to arrive from Chapters.

9. One Book I've Been Meaning to Read
I have bookshelves full of books I've been meaning to read. Probably "A Crack in the Edge of the World" by Simon Winchester, which is about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Meant to read it before going on the big trip. Ah well…

Comic – "Fell" by Warren Ellis. I'm a big Ellis fan and have most of his collections. However, Fell isn't out in it yet and might not be for some time, which is a pity.

As for who I want to see respond to this – OM, Mireille and Helmut.

New season so far...

Not every show of the new season has debuted yet, but most of them have. So what am I watching and what do I think?

I catch "How I Met Your Mother" from time to time. I know it's funny and clever, but there is still something about the show that prevents me from watching it regularly. The humour is a bit too cringing for me to watch every week. However, Neil Patrick Harris is quickly entering God status for his acting in the show.

I want to like "Heroes", I really do. And I really like the geeky Japanese guy. But there are too many characters I don't give a damn about or are outright annoying. That makes it a bit hard to enjoy the rest of the show. I might try it again later, but for right now, it's a miss.

Studio 60 is beginning to worry me. The last two episodes were much worse than the first two. The writing was clunky and the show has, to quote a "West Wing" episode, yet to bring the funny. If you're doing a show about a comedy show, at some point you have to make the comedy show funny. Hasn't happened yet. The show is also bleeding viewers. It started with about 14.5 million. The last episode had less than nine. It's going to be canned if the ship isn't righted soon.

"NCIS" is a guilty pleasure and there is no damn good reason to keep watching it, especially since Gibbs' moustache is freaking the hell out of me. The mysteries are mostly crap, but the characters are fun. Which is why I stick around, I guess. But the show is hitting a bit of a rut this season.

"House" is what it is. Which is fun, but there doesn't seem to be as many cutting House-isms this year. Also, the whole deal with his leg and drug addiction seems to have been cleared up too quickly. Still, it's off to a better start than last year and is better than 90 per cent of what's out there.

I'm actually watching my favourite TV show this year. I love "Veronica Mars", but have always watched it on DVD sets. It's the best show on TV (the writing leaves most shows far, far in the dust), but the mysteries work better when watching all at once. Watching it over a season, with lots of repeats, is maddening. But we're going to give it a try this season.

Look, it's on the verge of cancellation. Go watch it, for the love of God.

I liked "Smith". It's been canned. Ah well.

"Boston Legal" is something I can take in dribs and drabs. The in-jokes are a bit too much to take in concentrated doses.

I gave up on "Lost" last season. Just got bored with it. I recognize it's a superior drama, but that doesn't mean I can't get bored with it.

I'm still watching "Bones" which is a touch of a surprise, but again the character interactions are working for me. Which again is a bit of a surprise since I'm pretty sure I said last year about half the cast needed to be canned. As it stands, it's the supporting cast that's proving to be entertaining. The mysteries, again, are a bit silly and the science being used might be based in reality, but occasionally feels more like magic to me.

"Justice" is on its last legs and is actually being moved to Monday nights. It's one of those shows I can watch if it's on, or miss it and not particularly care. But it's a harmless enough treat. Plus, there is some amusement at seeing how the justice system can be circumvented, if only the kind of amusement that comes from feeling happy that you've just stopped banging your head on a wall. Plus, they use Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns and Money." Got to give them props for that.

"The Nine" is a bit too young to comment on yet, other than I was intrigued and I'm curious to see what happens over the next few episodes. The show is on what happens to nine people who were hostages in a failed bank robbery. The show flashes back to what happened to the people while they were inside. It could work and it's being called on the best new shows of the year. Alas, it's getting ratings similar to Studio 60. So that isn't good.

The big night on TV and I watch next to nothing. Gave up on "Survivor" when the big twist last all of three episodes. Whoopee. I catch "CSI" sometimes and it falls under the "catch it if I can" area. I won't be out of the loop if I miss one episode. Cathy is a big "Grey's Anatomy" fan, but I loathe the show so I just go in the bedroom and putter while it's on. The mere sound of the characters is like nails on a chalkboard.

Still giving "Shark" a look, even though it's a watered down, less fun "House". It's a pity you couldn't put "Justice" and "Shark" on back to back on the same network. Different sides of the legal profession in LA. It would be kind of amusing.

Nada, except the occasional episode of "Numbers", which is hit and miss with me.

I'll give the devil its due and say I was appropriately blown away by the season premier of "Battlestar Galactica". Any show in which the heroes are basically Iraqis and using suicide bomber tactics to get themselves free of their ruling oppressors has got some balls. It was two solid hours that flew by and I was engaged the entire time. Can't say that of too many shows this year.

If I have reservations about the show is that in previous years it has slumped badly after the first episodes, which normally resolve the cliffhanger from the previous season. It picks up again when they're building to the next cliffhanger, but in-between it slumps terribly. I understand not every show can be brilliant all year, but they need to avoid the depths of that slump this year to keep me engaged. I like the show a lot, but I'm not as head over heels and I want to be.

The only reality show worth watching, "The Amazing Race." Sad to see the gay guys go this week, but that was predictable as they were finishing near the bottom too much. I'm really surprised at how long the single moms and the couple from Kentucky have lasted. I thought they would have been long gone, but I'm happy to see them still there.

Now if only the cheerleaders and the fighting couple would go. Kind of routing for the Korean brothers right now. I like the woman who is getting around only using one leg, but if her boyfriend isn't a complete idiot, then the producers are doing quite the hack job on him. I suspect it's the former as she doesn't look too happy with him.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


A mostly relaxing weekend that went AWOL down the home stretch by:

1. Switchpod giving me small headaches by not doing what I want it to do.
2. A security update from Apple killing my wireless signal which meant considerable screwing around to get it going again.
3. Some anonymous git accusing me of plagerism in the last post (don't bother to look, it's been deleted).
4. Cathy not feeling the best (her cold has gone down into her lungs) which kept us up the night.
5. Having to go back to work today.

So yes, there is crankiness this morning. I'm sure it will pass. I'm just saying, not the happiest houshold in all the land right now.

By the way, just so I make this crystal bloody clear, I love people commenting on my blog. It makes me immeasurably happy that people take the time to read what I'm writing and feel the urge to comment on it. And I allow anonymous comments because, for the most part, they're benign and it's people without Blogger accounts and can't be bothered to get one (fair enough). But if people are going to take shots at me, insult me or accuse me of plagerism of all bloody things, then you're going to sign your name to it. Otherwise, the anonymous function disappears.

I'm a benevolent dictator. To a point. And this really isn't the morning to piss me off...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Despair Mondays

Welcome to the first of what might be many, or might putter out in a few weeks, of Despair Mondays. Where I take a photo either from my personal catelogue or something I find online and produce something pithy and amusing.

However, not always original. Just to fess up right from the start, I obviously didn't come up with either of the quotes in these two posters. The first is straight from another despair.com poster and the other is from God knows where, but I certainly didn't come up with it.

And don't worry, I'll pick on the Liberals and NDP eventually...

I was hoping to do a test of Switchpod right now, but currently the site is very slow. So perhaps this evening I'll give it another try.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

New design

I'm still playing with Wordpress and this blog might end up there yet. But I've hit at least one roadbock. When transferring my posts and comments from here to Wordpress, the pictures didn't go with them. I'm not fond of the idea that my pictures won't be over at Wordpress and I don't relish the idea of having to go back and reload any missing images. So if someone knows how to fix that, please drop me a line.

So unless I get that figured out, I'm staying at Blogger for the time being. Hence, the redesign you see. Although if someone could tell me how I could put an image at the top of the page to replace the generic green thing, I would appreciate it.

There are a few other changes. I got rid of the Plazes box on the sidebar because I couldn't get it to work anymore. If you're visiting this blog for the first time and don't know where Iqaluit it is, find a map, find Greenland, look west. Tada!

Also, in honour of OM, I've add one of those maps that puts red dots up from wherever people are visiting from. Just because I think it would be fun. One of the problems with Statcounter (Yes, I could buy the professional account, but I don't get enough traffic to justify it) is that I lost track of people one I get more than 100 hits. So that will show me where everyone is coming from.

I'm also looking at doing something with Switchpod over the next few days. With a little luck I will be subjecting you all to my music in the near future.

In other news, we're not far off having permanent snow on the ground here in town. It's snowed the last three days and coated the ground, but it's all melted within 12 hours. I suspect that won't be lasting much longer. We'll have a permanent base of snow by the end of this week.

Which is to be expected, but there is something mildly depressing to know that in the next week will be the last time we see the ground until June. Then again, Iqaluit always looks better with snow on the ground.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Low key weekend...

It's a veritable smorgasbord of sloth potential here today. It's the long weekend and Cathy is out this afternoon playing poker with some of her co-workers. Nothing like being surprised by someone even though you've been with them nearly five years. I didn't know she could play poker. Actually, I think the test is when she comes back so we can see if she's won any money. She comes back with cash, she can play poker. Maybe we'll set it up as a little sideline for her or something. We'll stash away her winnings for spending money on the next big vacation

Meanwhile, here at Chateau Welsh, I'm hemming and hawing over which acts of sloth to begin with first. As it turns out, I'm taking care of the blogging first. Then I might start playing with Wordpress some more. I've had a few people suggest I should give Switchpod a try. That way I can inflict my musical tastes on a broader group of people. One quick question, anyone have any idea of the legality of me using this blog to broadcast songs? I'm not going to have SOCAN showing up at my door waving a bill, am I?

(And least you think I'm kidding, I know several businesses in St. John's who had SOCAN people walking into the restaurant or bar, give them a bill for playing music in their establishment and demand payment or they would be taken to court. So while I might respect the purpose of SOCAN, it doesn't mean I can't think they're real pricks sometimes).

Other than that, there's some academic work I should be doing for my UVic course, I spent enough on the damn book, I should at least read it. But I have other books I'm in the middle of reading. "Two Trains Running" by Andrew Vachss and "The Geographer's Library" by John Fasman. I just finished "Brainiac" by Ken Jennings (The Jeopardy guy) which is quite good. I might write about it at more length later this weekend.

But right now I'm just content to unwind a bit. The turkey picked up from Food mail this morning is sitting in a bin of water and defrosting so hopefully we'll have turkey for tomorrow. If not then, certainly for Monday. It's seven kg and cost about $4.30/kg. It's butter basted and grain fed, so I think they mailed us a fancy sounding turkey, not like I'm an expert on them or anything. All I know is that it's a damn site cheaper than buying one in Iqaluit, where a Butterball goes for $7.50/kg.

It seems like a nice enough turkey. Here, take a look:

Yes, I know, the dog looks a bit nervous, but don't worry, while they're both about the same size, there is no risk of us cooking the dog instead of the turkey for Thanksgiving. For one thing, the dog cost considerably more than $4.30/kg. I can only imagine how big a pest he's going to be around supper time with all the turkey smells. We don't feed him from the table, but he's terrible for begging for food.

And what the hell, just to make Colette and the in-laws happy, one more pic of the dog.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Movin' on up...

I had planned on doing something on the Newfoundland census figures, but a bit of time has past on that and Ed did a better job on it than I really could. But no one up north has done anything on the Nunavut census figures, which show a few interesting things.

On July 1, 2004 there were approximately 29,633 people. A mere two years later there was 30,782. More than a thousand people were added to the population of Nunavut in a very short period of time. Unfortunately, StatsCanada in this report didn't break down how individual communities did. We'll have to wait for the 2006 census report for that, something I don't think we'll until early in the new year. I'm dying to know the population of Iqaluit and the breakdown.

I'm also curious as to where that population growth came from. I just assumed that most of it was an increase in the birth rate. Nunavut has double the national birth rates in Canada and is second only to Alberta. But there's also a decent amount of immigration by the sounds of it. CBC North did a story about it (not up on their website, of course) talking about it.

While they didn't say how many immigrated (again, annoying) 29 per cent of them came from Ontario and 18 per cent from NewfoundlandLabrador (It's now a government mandate to spell it this way). Not really a big surprise for anyone living here. A lot of Ontarians come here via federal government jobs. A lot of people from NewfoundlandLabrador come here just looking for jobs. It pretty much confirms the feeling that nearly every Southerner in Iqaluit is from Newfoundland. Hell, I'm willing to bet more than a few of those immigrating from Ontario were originally from Newfoundland.

The other thing that caught my eye was this - While Nunavut is still the smallest territory by population in Canada, it is quickly gaining on the Yukon. That territory had 31,229, less than 500 people more than what's in Nunavut. And considering Nunavut picked up about 700 people in the last year, it's entirely possibly by this time next year than it will no longer be the smallest territory. By population, that is. The place is still friggin' huge.

Anyway, there is your statistics lecture for today...

Thursday, October 05, 2006


So today is a blog anniversary. Not of the first post, or my first posting in Nunavut. One year ago I thought I'd install Stat Counter on a whim. I didn't figure that many people were reading my blog, but I was curious as to how many and where they were coming from.

And thus was a statcounter addict born. I suspect I'm not the only one. You know, people who are constantly checking their blog stats to see how many are reading your words of wisdom. And then you begin to curse because your numbers begin to drop for no reason and you wonder where all the bastards have gone....

Or maybe that's just me. Journalists generally have a healthy ego that needs to be stroked by the knowledge that people are reading your work. Since I no longer have people writing me Letters to the Editor informing me how much I rock or how much I suck (generally got more of the later than the former), Statcounter was one way I got my fix.

So what does the last year look like for me? Something like this:

(By the way, I have no idea if I'm violating some kind of blogger rules by doing this. I just find stats interesting sometimes)

So basically no one was reading last October and the only reason that many were was that John Gushue kindly did a little post announcing I was back blogging. The numbers took a bit spike around last February when I joined Newfoundland and Labrador blogrolling, dipped during the summer and then spiked again big time last month.

During that period I had about 40,200 page loads by 27,380 unique visitors. Which I'm kind of pleased about. Most visitors came from Newfoundland, but there was a healthy amount from the Ottawa area, Alberta and the North. Oh, and Qatar. Thanks for dropping by.

Oh, and a lot for St. Laurent, Quebec, which is where Transcontinental routes its internet traffic. If anyone there has an opinion on my Express post, but didn't feel like putting it on the blog, by all means drop me an e-mail. I'm curious if it's getting a reaction.

Anyway, not a bad year for a guy just starting blogging and doesn't really have the time to do something fancy with it.

So what would I like in the coming year? To double the stats of this year. To have about 80,000 page loads in the next 12 months and about 60,000 unique visitors. Dare to dream, I guess. It will mean doing a few more things with the blog that I've been lazy about - signing up for more lists, doing something with Technaroti and whatnot. But what the hell. All should enjoy my wit and wisdom.

That was sarcasm, by the way, for the estimated 40 per cent of the population who doesn't get it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Look upon my works and despair...

This is the gates of hell I'm about unleash here. There is no end to potential mischief this can cause. And yeah, I'm thinking about two or three people in particular.

One of the sites I like is despair.com. There is something about those demotivator posters that I really enjoy. I even bought one of the calendars a few years ago, even though they're expensive and the shipping is a bitch. I was thinking about getting another one this year, when I discovered they've made a change.

Not only can you pick which demotivators you want on your calendar, you can create your own. Now, there are two things you can do with creating your own. You can actually get it put on the very calendar you create, which is kind of cool.

The second thing you can do is something like this:

You can see the potential for some serious bad behavior here, right? I mean, that only took me a few minutes. Plus, you don't even have to follow Despair style lines. You can create something a bit different if you wish...

I plan on having some serious fun with this and the rest of you should feel free to join in. I think I'm going to do one every Monday from now on. Despair Mondays. It has a ring about it.

Oh, and thanks to Asia Pundit for the heads up on this...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Brand new

Ahhh, branding.. It's the latest craze. Everybody is doing it. I should do it at some point. Rebrand myself. Become something that the cools kids would be interested in.

Anyway, the province has a new brand, which looks like this:

So upon seeing the province's new brand, I asked what does this say to me? Perhaps even what kind of slogan that might go with this brand. I mean, "Yours to discover" was out there for years. I assume a new "brand" means there is a new slogan.

How about this one: "NewfoundlandLabrador - dragging down national education test scores by flunking remedial grammar since 1949."

No? A bit wordy, perhaps? Mmmmm, you understand my point, though. I mean, how hard is it to stick "and" in there? Or hell, even "&". NewfoundlandLabrador just isn't doing it for me.

But that's just the name. What about the....things coming out from Newfoundland. So how about this for a slogan: "NewfoundlandLabrador - come for the wine, women and song, leave with a parasitic disease."

Seriously, though. Don't those things coming out from Newfoundland look a bit like this:

Which, by the way, happens to be a fluke. First thing I could find on Google that looked vaguely like what's in the brand.

Then again, let's be honest. It's not a parasite. And if we're going to do a slogan to match the brand and the reality of the province, it likely has to be this:

"NewfoundlandLabrador - "Come and visit the coolest place in Canada. Stay because our slug-like alien overlords demand it."

Tell me you don't see some similarity between the two...besides, haven't we all thought at some point that aliens were running the province. It would explain so much when you think about it.

On the bright side, I do kind of like the font and the colour (and unsurprising blue to match the Tories, much like the previous colour was red, to match the then-governing Liberals). And it's certainly better than what MUN produced last summer. All the province managed to forget was the "and". The university managed to forget where it was located.

But my problem with the brand is this. I know it's supposed to be a pitcher plant. Most people in the province will probably clue into the fact that it's a pitcher plant. But people outside the province, who wouldn't know a pitcher plant from a baseball pitcher. I was kidding, but only sort of, when I mentioned parasites and alien slugs above. A lot of people really aren't going to have a clue what those things are suppose to be.

Kind of stupid, really. I wonder how much money the government spent on something that is probably going to have to be explained every time it is used?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Anniversary songlist

Awhile back I said I was in the middle of putting together a First Anniversary CD for some friends. We gave out CDs of some of our favourite music as gifts during out wedding and I struck upon the bright idea that we should do it again for our First Anniversary.

I say "bright idea" somewhat sardonically because Rule #1 for the CD is that both Cathy and I have to like the song (the unspoken second rule is that while every song doesn't have to be happy and sunny, it shouldn't make people thing we're on the verge of divorcing). And the thing is, we share very little in common musically. Cathy likes "happy" songs and ones where she can very clearly hear the lyrics. She also doesn't like "angry" songs, meaning ones where the guitar is quite heavy.

Whereas I'm much more scattershot. I'll listen to almost anything once, part of my Muse upbringing, where I was exposed to a large range of music. And while I like good lyrics, if the music and voice are good enough, I can give the lyrics a break unless they're horrifically bad. But if I don't like something, I'm a terrible snob about it. For example, Cathy likes Garth Brooks and Bon Jovi. I would rather stick knitting needles in my ears than listen to it.

Conversely, Cathy doesn't understand how I can mock country, but love Neko Case (because the woman has one of the best voices in music. Period) or why I would like Tori Amos at one moment and Matthew Good in another.

So it's a challenge. Although occasionally I introduce her something and much to her surprise she'll like it. Death Cab For Cutie's "Plans" recently made it onto her iPod and she likes it. So miracles can happen.

We recently sent out a handful of belated First Anniversary CDs. If you didn't get one, don't feel slighted. There is a very limited press run of about six. Postage is a bitch up here. Also, my printer died during the move, so I couldn't do up the nice labels like I did for the wedding CD last year. All in all, a very half assed effort on my part. Sorry, if I do it again next year, I'll try and be better organized.

Still, if you want to create your very own Craig and Cathy First Anniversary Wedding CD, I'll include the song list below and a brief reason why we picked it. If you e-mail and ask very nicely, I might even see what I can do about getting you certain songs.

1. We – Neil Diamond: Because it would mess with people a bit as I'm not known as a Neil Diamond fan. But his last CD, "12 Songs" was pretty good. And this is a cute little love song.
2. Song for a Winter's Night – Sarah McLachlan: I think we're both past our days of being Sarah McLachlan fans. But this is still a nice cover of a Gordon Lightfoot song and appropriate for where we are right now.
3. What Am I Doing Here – Blue Rodeo: There are days we ask ourselves this very question.
4. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys: Just seems like the right answer to the question above. Also, played in the movie "Love, Actually" which is one of the few date movies we both like.
5. The Scientist – Coldplay: No reason other than probably the best song Coldplay has done.

6. Tower of SongJenny Gear: I mocked Canadian Idol recently, but Gear is from the first season and this song was a revelation. It still holds up really well. Cathy has discovered that while she hates Cohen's voice, she loves his songs, much like the oft-covered "Hallelujah."
7. Kathleen – Josh Ritter: "All the other girls here are stars/you are the northern lights. They try to shine in through your curtain/you're too strong and too bright. They try and they try but everything that they do/is the ghost of a trace of a pale imitation of you." The first time I heard Ritter was opening for Sarah Harmer. The audience was skeptical, but he completely owned them by the end of his set and got a standing ovation. This is perhaps my favourite opening verse to a song. Cathy has just grown to accept that I love this song. It was the last song cut from our Wedding CD.
8. Beautiful Day – U2: We love U2. It is the meeting ground of our musical tastes.
9. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic – The Police: Well, there are times she utterly baffles me, and yet I love her like crazy. Magic.
10. With A Little Help From My Friends – The Beatles: The other band where we meet on common ground.
11. Who Put The Bomp... - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies: I thought Cathy would hate these guys. They do covers, but in punk rock style. Yet she loves them. Go figure. About two minutes of frenzied fun.
12. Clint Eastwood – Gorillaz: What the hell does this song mean? No idea. But if you're not bobbing your head to it when it comes on, then you have no beat. Hell, this song offered me hope that I might have some small sense of rhythm.

13. Na Na Song – Colleen Power: We love Colleen Power. You must go immediately and buy Colleen Power's CDs. One of Newfoundland's best singer/songwriters. No kidding.
14. Swearing SongBuddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers: Just to mess with friends, who would probably view themselves as being above the band. For non-Newfoundlanders, these guys are probably as big, if not bigger, than Great Big Sea in their home province. Silly and kitschy, but they get the job done. The funny thing is, there is no actual profanity in the song unless "Lord liftin', leaping lyin', dear ravin' and dancing dyin', sufferin' thunderin, workin' wonderin', robbin' gobbin' hairy, hells fire, firey flamin', screechin' screamin', namin' blamin', son of a no good, merciful-mudder, of jumpin Joseph Murphy!'" is your idea of hardcore swearing.
15. All That Heaven Will Allow – Bruce Springsteen: "Tunnel of Love" is one of my favourite Springsteen CDs. This is the one song off the CD that we can agree on.
16. Red Is The Rose – Nancy Griffiths and The Chieftains: Cathy loves the song. I love the Chieftains. And this version is much better than the version they did with The Ennis Sisters a few years back.
17. And So It Goes – Billy Joel: Just a nice song from Billy before he completely lost his mind.
18. Love Me – Norah Jones: Lovely voice, lovely song.
19. I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love – Tom Waits: Cathy feels much the same way about Waits as she does about Cohen – nice songwriter, horrible voice. Of course, his voice is part of the reason I like him. We both agreed on this song, from early in his career when his voice wasn't completely messed up because of booze and smokes.

20. Beautiful OneSean Panting: The other great unheralded singer/songwriter from Newfoundland. I heard this song months before it came out on CD and begged Sean for a copy of it. I wanted to play it at the wedding. He meant to send it, but life got in the way (his wife got pregnant) and it never happened. Still, it's a great song. He wrote and recorded it the night before he got married and played it at his wedding. For anybody who ever went through a long distance relationship.