Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Marshall plan

If you're looking for a definition of contempt, then take a look at the provincial cabinet announced by Danny Williams. Oh, it's not the extra people suddenly, magically needed to run the province. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador managed to get by with fewer cabinet ministers for many years, but now when we have the smallest population in decades it takes a near record high number of ministers to run the place.

On second thought, that is a pretty good definition of contempt. But no, I was going for another one.

How the hell is Elizabeth Marshall still not in cabinet?

If they did IQ testing on the Tory caucus (and boy, wouldn't that be a fun Access to Information request to make) I have no doubt Marshall would be among the highest in this bunch. I know there was some bashing of her during the election, but hell, it's an election that's what you do during elections. She's the kind of candidate you pray you get when you run a political party - an intelligent, competent, ethical, thoughtful person. As an added bonus she's a woman.

She was good enough to be a Health Minister right out of the gates. Nearly four years later, she's still in the wilderness after standing up to Williams when, oh yeah, she was right to do so.

I know Williams can hold a grudge like no one's business. But honestly, he's really going to keep someone that talented wasting in the backbenches for at least another year or more until there is another shuffle? That's a little beyond vendetta. That rolls right into contempt.

Dave Denine, who has been described by some in Mount Pearl as "a nice enough fella, but has done shit all the past four years" gets to be a minister ahead of Marshall. Ross Wiseman, who is so devoid of personality that my former boss tries not to quote him in her paper for fear that it might put people to sleep and that would be bad for business. He gets to continue as Health Minister.

And so on and so forth. I suspect I could through most of the cabinet and ask how they got in ahead of Marshall. By any standard other than skills at kissing ass, she's more qualified than most of them.

There's something strange going on there. Maybe Marshall doesn't want back in cabinet, although I find that hard to believe. I really have to believe that Williams has that much contempt for her. It would be almost impressive if not quite so sad.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The waiting game

Apparently we're at the age when you're supposed to have babies. Much to the occasional frustration of our parents, we're in no rush to produce an actual human offspring. Instead, we keep adopting substitute babies.

I believe you've met Cathy's baby. Here's a reminder.

OK, not one of his cuter moments, but they can't all be cute. Plus, we're still reeling from how big of a nuisance he was last night. Seriously, you could have had him for fresh fruit last night.

My babies tend to run more to the....non-living side. I order my baby last Friday. Here she is:

A 15" MacBook Pro, with 2 gigs of RAM, a 200 gig Hard Drive and I bought Aperture, a photo management program to go along with it. It is very pretty and I can't wait to get my hands a hold of it. My little iBook has served me well the past three years, but even when I bought it she was a low end laptop from Apple. This is one of their high end laptops and ought to serve me quite well for years to come.

Now I get to play the stalking game. Little did I know when I ordered it that it was going to ship from Shanghai, China. I have friends living in Shanghai, so that's weird. They can pop down to the Apple factory and pick one fresh off the line if they want.

So now I'm watching the tracking information to see where my baby is. Right now, it's somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. Apple is telling me that I should have it by Monday, November 5. We shall see about that. Courier companies operate weirdly when it comes to getting things up north. The computer is being shipped through UPS, which I pretty certain has no office in Iqaluit. That means either Arctic Express (God help us all) or First Air will be handling its arrival in Iqaluit.

If I get it before November 9, I'll be happy and pleasantly surprised. But regardless, I want it soon. I want to play with my baby.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Some links until I think of wiser things to write

The dog is being an evil bastard this evening and not giving us a moment's peace. Those willing to make a trade, drop me a line. He'll go for cheap at this moment.

Anyway, for your amusement, some things I’ve noticed online in recent days.

Is this the worst title and cover for a book ever? From Boing Boing.

I want to like How I Met Your Mother more. I really do. But every time I sit down and try to watch it, I can only handle about 10 minutes of it. It’s immensely frustrating because I recognize it’s a good show and has a great cast. I also strongly suspect given the way Chuck has flailed about in recent weeks, I’ll have the time at 8 p.m. to watch the show. And yet, no.

Having said that Neil Patrick Harris is pretty much the only reason I keep trying to watch, because Barney is such a great character. And now we have this legendary poster for the upcoming Harold and Kumar 2.

I like the first movie. Now I must see the sequel.

Remember how I said Viva Laughlin sucked? Seems most of the world agreed with me. The show is the first official non-reality programming cancelled in the new season. All the more impressive considering some pretty lame shows (I tried watching Cavemen. It took 30 seconds for Cathy to snatch the remote from me and change channels, fearing I might do something to myself to make the pain stop) are still going. Viva Laughlin aired twice and was killed.

On the upside, we have a new season of the Amazing Race in its place. And hey, there’s a goth team! From Kentucky! Who wear pink! Plus lesbian ministers. You can normally count on the Race for amusement.

Pushing Daisies gets a full season pick-up which is good news. Just as good, the show remains funny and charming four episodes in. No signs of suckage yet, which is almost as big a miracle as the good ratings its getting. Plus, how can you not like a show that features a pigeon getting a new wing Bedazzled on, plus characters singing They Might Be Giants "Birdhouse in your Soul." You cannot. To watch the show is to be hooked.

And because it made me laugh, Batman: Master of Timing.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Not dead yet

Yes, I'm still alive.

Part of it was still not feeling 100%. Part of it was just needing a bit of a break from writing to try and recharge the batteries. Rather than feeling like writing was a chore I took a break for a few days and hoped some kind of drive would kick in that would make me antsy to get back at it. There's always a risk with that kind of thinking. That it becomes kind of relaxing not racking your brains trying to figure out how to write something.

But I'm starting to feel something stirring again. This is a relatively short post this evening, just to let people know I'm alive. But I have stuff already in mind for the next couple of days. And I'm kind of anxious to get back at the book. So that's good.

So am I still sick from last Tuesday? No, this is more the self-inflicted kind. Friday and Saturday was the start of the curling season and this was the opening bonspeiel. The first one is always the hardest. The muscles are not used to working after the summer off and they're letting me know it today. So I'm in considerable pain.

On the upside, I won the bonspiel, although considering how badly I played in the last game I have no idea how. I didn't make a shot until the fifth end. First thing I've won curling as a skip since Grade 12. So I am now the proud owner of a $75 gift certificate from Arctic Ventures.

Not quite worth the level of pain I'm in today, but hey, it does feels nice to win for a change.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sick leave

Stayed home sick today with some sort of flu bug thing. I don't get sick often and in the old days I would have toughed it out and gone to work anyway. I only got five days sick leave per year when I worked with Transcontinental. Actually, I remembered when the company first took over the newspaper and one of their HR people came into explain the wonders of working for the company. When I asked if we were allowed to roll over sick leave from one year to the next I swear the woman looked at me like I was an idiot. And since most of my co-workers laughed at me as well, perhaps she was right.

The thing is, I worked when I was sick, which had two consequences. The first was that I spread around whatever I had. For that matter, since most of my co-workers did the same thing, odds are I got it from them in the first place. And secondly, when you're sick your supposed to take it easy and give your body a chance to get better. Which I never did. That meant when I caught something, it stuck around. I think I was sick for the whole month of February and part of March back in '05. Never took a day off to get better.

I was always afraid to take those five sick days because you never know when something really bad might happen and you would get serious ill. Then you might need those five days and they were gone.

My current employer, however, allows me to roll over sick days, which I think is a much more sensible approach. So if I feel like crap, I don't go to work to try and tough it out, keep myself sick longer and infect everyone around me. I don't know how many I have, but this one (and maybe two, depends on how I feel in the morning) won't break me.

About the most stressful thing I did today was write my book. I'm now at 105,000 words. I'm a couple of days shy of two months at it. All of which sounds fine, except I've just gone back and reread what I wrote today. It is possible that perhaps writing when my brain is, how shall we phrase it, trying to escape from my skull was not my wisest move. Especially since I'm now at a crucial section of the book.

That means I have to go back and rewrite it. Because even by the quick and dirty standards I've set for myself, this is a little too ramshackle to let slide.

The good news is I think the end is possibly in sight. Certainly no more than another 50,000 words, probably less. With luck I'll be done with the first draft by the end of November, which is pretty much on schedule.

Then I shall only have curling to bore you all with.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Good news for people who crave take-out food. Bad news for those of us trying to watch out weight a bit, but possess dubious will power. It appears the rebuilding of the Snack is back on. I walked out of our apartment building today and much to my surprise construction had resumed.

For those of you not following the drama, the Snack was the favoured take-out for Iqaluit residents. It was also, for years and years, the favoured method of getting your drugs delivered, but that was apparently well before my time. Anyway, it still made the best poutine outside of Quebec and was one of the few places you could get a decent club sandwich.

Alas, it burned down back in February. To the shock of pretty much no one, it was a fat fire related incident. It's good food, but no one every claimed there was much on the diet menu that was good for you.

Anyway, there was much wailing and misery about town because really, when you only have about a half dozen restaurants, losing even one of them hurts. However, the owners promised to rebuild, so people were content to wait a few months.

All appeared going to plan when a crew showed up to clean the rubble from the old site and then began hammering in the pylons needed to set up the new foundation. Then, constructions simply stopped. We found out later the owners underestimated the cost of rebuilding. They were predicting something around $800,000. Turns out it was going to be closer to $1.4 million. So they stopped and went looking for investors.

That was nearly two months ago and frankly I'd pretty much given up that the Snack was going to get rebuilt any time soon. The weather is getting cold up here now. And yes, the hard work is essentially done in getting the pylons driven into the ground. But in about two months you're going to be getting temperatures around -30 on a regular basis. Not many people want to be out in that, let alone be outside trying to do construction.

Still, they've started again. The new Snack looks like it will be considerably smaller than the old. For one thing, I don't think it will have sit down dining. It will just be take-out and delivery. So they might be able to get most of it slapped up before it gets too cold. I imagine there will be much rejoicing by residents.

As for myself and Cathy, well, I rather doubt much good will come from having a take-out literally a 30 second walk from our door step. Maybe out parents can give us some extra will power for Christmas.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

No prints for us

Mildly frustrating day. Today was the first day of the Cape Dorset print sale that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. While we had gone down to look at the prints in previous years, we'd never gone down to buy one, so we didn't quite know how it worked. But to be on the safe side we went down before it opened at 1 p.m. There were only four of us there, including Cathy, so I thought we might have caught a break.

Nope, no such luck. The way it works is that if you want to buy a print, you get a ticket from the curator. Then your name is entered into a lottery for the available prints. While there are signed and numbered lots of 50 for each print, the museum only has one copy. The rest are sent to galleries across North America and Europe. The draw for the prints took place about 45 minutes after the doors opened, so there wasn't too much of a wait.

I also thought the odds would be reasonably good. A quick glance before the draw happened showed about 25 people interested in buying prints. Cathy and I each had a ticket and there were two prints we were interested in. We weren't going to get both, but we figured we had decent odds of getting one of them.

The first four tickets drawn went for other prints. So we were beginning to have some hope. Then the fifth ticket drawn took the print Cathy wanted. The sixth ticket took the one I wanted. So that was that. I was fairly crooked for the next hour or so. I understand there is demand for the prints and this is probably a fair way to go about doing things. Still, it was a bit frustrating to see the prints we wanted to just up and vanish. Especially since the woman who selected the one I wanted kind of just went "Oh, is that one taken? No? OK, I'll take that one, I guess."

All that was going through my head was "Oh for fuck's sake..."

I guess the positive way to look at it is we saved $1,000, even though we had the money budgeted to buy it. And hey, I got to chat with Kate Nova for a little bit as well. In person, as opposed to online. So that was nice.

sigh At least I had my first bit of time on the ice curling today. Believe it or not, it put me in a pretty good mood. By the time I got home around 5, I was not longer ready to kill the people who took "our" prints. Plus, it's not like I can't find a use for the money...I'm buying a new laptop on Friday.

And on a purely unrelated note, I'm happy to welcome my good friend Craig Westcott to the wide world of blogging with The Public Ledger. Craig is a shit disturbing journalist in the best sense of the word and I look forward to reading what he has to write. Too often I find my favourite blogs drift away or fall silent. So it's always nice to see a new one start up that I know will be educational and entertaining.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I'm not sure I should admit that age 37 I've never really seen Hamlet before. I never read it in high school or university. Never saw it on stage before. And the only time I've sen it as a movie was when Mel Gibson was trying to prove a point about his acting chops and Glenn Close was playing his mother, although they were barely a few years apart in age.

But I've just finished watching Kenneth Branagh's version of Hamlet. It was a spur of the moment pick-up when I was back home during the summer because I had read so many positive things about his adaptation. I don't think it did well at the box office, but then again, it's more than four hours long. That's kind of pushing the endurance of your average film goer. Then again, this is the unabridged Hamlet. If I understand, every single scene from the play is here. No cuts for time or the smallness of the audience's bladder. Here it is, in all its glory.

I'm not going to review Hamlet. That would be very much folly as people a lot smarter than I have written at length about the play. For that matter, here's Roger Ebert reviewing the movie. And I agree with just about everything he said. I think much of what kept me away for the play was that it was supposedly so complex, so very dreary and that Hamlet was a whinny git. And really, who wants to spend hours watching a whinny git, be it either on stage or at a movie theatre.

And yet watching this, Branagh doesn't play Hamlet as git. There is vitality, passion and anger. There is surprising humour scattered throughout. And the look of the movie is astonishing. It's beautiful to look at, even if I confess to not always completely understanding what the actors are saying. This isn't a dumbed down Hamlet. Keep up if you can. If you can't, well, lord knows there are enough articles written about Hamlet over the years. Go find one, watch the movie and hit pause when you get confused.

I'll likely watch it again in a few months time, if for no other reason then I'm dying to hear Branagh's commentary, which I imagine will be fascinating. I also have to watch a couple of other related movies. I bought Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead a couple of weeks ago, but wouldn't watch it until I finished with Hamlet first. I remember loving it when it was released back in the early 90s. I also remembering seeing my friend Jaap star in a production of it at MUN, along with Aiden Flynn, that remains some of the most fun I've ever had at a play. It's a nice companion piece to this, I think.

And since I'm apparently on a Branagh kick, I'll have to rewatch Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing. Henry V is awesome. Ado is pretty good, although watching Keanu Reeves and Michael Keaton trying to do Shakespeare is a touch painful.

Cathy's going to go mad, I suspect. I think she got burnt out on Shakespeare studying English at MUN and here I am, wanting to watch hours of it on TV.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

And the shows gone on...

It's a funny thing...we're nearly a month into the new TV season and there have only been two causalities. Nashville, which Fox canned almost before the season started, and Online Nation on the CW. If you never heard of the last one, don't worry. I think it was pulling in about half a million people a week. And even for the CW that's pretty damn pathetic.

Anyway, I read an article the the other day which said that networks are giving new shows a lot of rope to hang themselves with. It seems quite likely that Hollywood writers are going to go on strike at the end of October. The theory is that it's easier at this stage in the game to keep a show on the air that's struggling or outright sucking than trying to develop and launch something new. Which makes sense, I guess.

So the good news is if you like a show, it might stick around for awhile longer. The bad news is that after the end of October there might be a very short window on how much more new programming there will be.

Oh, and on a related TV note, I just watched the first 15 minutes of Viva Laughlin. I recommend you not even waste that much time on it.

On a better note, I want whatever drugs the producers are slipping the writers of Pushing Daisies. Because there is some seriously demented and funny shit happening in that show. After the great pilot, the second episode was good, but there was still a bit of a drop-off. But the third episode had me laughing almost constantly. The secret origin of Wilfred Woodruff, unusual uses for plastic wrap and the dialogue, my god the dialogue. It's one beautiful bit of crackling conversation after another:

Salesman: "It's homeopathic."
Olive: "You mean it deeply relates to gay people?"

Olive: "That's not a truth bus; it's the bitchy crosstown express."

Olive: "This is a pie shop, not an herbal crack den." (Actually, Olive got a lot of the good lines this this week.)

Emerson: "I might be stuck, but I can still reach my gun."

Chuck: "Kick, Pooh!"

Ned: "I always wanted to be a Jedi."

And so on, and so forth. Best new show of the season by a mile. Please God, let it keep being this good.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The return of Boo

By popular demand, here are some new pictures of Boo. For those of you new to the blog, Boo is a Coton de Tulear. He's also about 17 months old and while out of his puppy stage is still a fairly large imp.

The pictures taken were from tonight and Saturday. If he looks soggy in some of them, it was because he had just taken a bath. One of these days I must try and shoot some video of what he's like after he gets his bath. Surely the neighbours must know when it happens, because he runs around like a maniac for 15 minutes and doesn't stop barking.

Anyway, the main attraction.

Cheezie Thief.

Checking out the main drag.

Throw the damn fish already.

Apparently, my attempt to hide so you can't photograph me has failed.

Why yes, I am stunning.

Nap time.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hi-yo silver...

Well, this is a mildly depressing story. It seems that silver remains the most popular car colour. However, it's the colour I hate the most in a car. I think I might actually prefer white over it.

I'm not sure what it is specifically about silver that sets me off. It just feels like such a personality free colour to have in a car. And yet, people choose it. They specifically demand it. If you believe the article, the reasons for it are:

U.S. market forecaster Bob Prechter believes silver suits our "social mood," a culture enamoured of technology and cool, high-tech gadgetry. They like the chic minimalist colour because it's futuristic and space-age, he says. He also suspects that silver – as a commodity, currently trading vigorously on the stock market – is perceived as a colour that reflects money, success and prestige.

Which, to be honest, sounds like a load of bullshit to me. Getting a silver car because you're lazy sounds about right, though.

When we go down south we've rent cars several times. The last three times I've made two specific requests. The first is I don't want a Hyundai Accent. I drive one of those when I'm in town. When I'm on vacation, I want to drive something new. The other request is that I don't want a silver car.

So when we were in Ottawa back in Easter we drove some generic Mazda. Last Christmas back in St. John's we drove a pick-up (which I felt retarded driving, but hey, they gave it to us for the same price as the sub-compact we booked). And last year in California we got a Mustang convertible.

The one thing all those vehicles have in common is that despite my request they were all silver. The Mustang convertible was especially terrible. It's a fun, sporty car. It should only come in fun, sporty colours. Silver is not that colour. Ford should not even make Mustangs in that colour. I don't know what it is about rental agencies, but trying to get a non-silver car is nearly impossible.

I pray we can get something with a real colour and personality when we go to Florida over Christmas, but I'm not optimistic.

In the meantime, here's my idea of a fun car with some personality and a real colour.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Slowing down

Given how long it took this story to load I'd say that NorthWest Tel has a few Internet problems.

I understand the challenge of trying to provide Internet service to the north. There are no fibre optic cables to transfer information as there is down south. Everything has to be done using satellite. Using satellite is far more expensive. And with so much demand on the limited bandwidth available it figures that things are slowing down. I think it has slowed down noticeably in Iqaluit during the two years I've been here. And we have some of the best Internet service in Nunavut compared to the restrictions that Qiniq has (it's much slower and has a cap of 2 gigs of bandwidth a month. Well, you can buy more, but it gets ridiculously expensive).

I know high speed is a relatively new concept for the north and I should feel happy that we simply have it. Cathy was still using dial-up when she was in Rankin back in '05. If I still had to use that I would go mad. But companies and government are going to have to step up at some point soon. Because demand is greatly reducing the qaluity of the service available. And really, I know that things cost more in the north...but $80 a month for the speed I'm getting is going further away from a "it's the north" thing to a "this is a bit of a gyp" sort of a thing.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Death marches, Star Trek and "useful" research

Book...melting....brain...yet I still must blog.

Seriously, I have 88,243 words and I don't know how close I am to the end of this bloody thing. I remember hitting the magic 50,000 words and thinking, "Hey, I'm half way there now." But no, clearly 50,000 words was not the half way mark. I'm beginning to fear that 88,000 words might not be the half way mark.

Yes, I know that I keep venting about this thing, but it's the biggest writing challenge I've ever set out for myself. And unsurprisingly, it's proving to be hard. Much harder than I originally thought. When I was around 40,000 words and everything was flowing with ease, I got all cocky about how easy it was. Now it feels like I'm on a death march.

I know, some of you will be tired of hearing about the book. But hey, good news. Curling starts soon. And I know how much all of you love reading about that. Although that does remind me, if you live in Iqaluit and are interested in curling this year, drop me a line. We have beginner clinics this Thursday and Saturday. There's an opening bonspiel the last weekend of October. The regular league starts on Oct. 30.

And now, two links. I suspect pretty much everyone has heard that Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) will play Scotty in the Star Trek remake coming out next year. Now, I don' really care much about this remake. I would just as soon see the franchise expand into new areas rather than just strip mine the past.

But this article made me laugh and would be a good idea for a Trek movie. That it should be told from the point of view of the poor, beleaguered engineer who has to deal with a madman captain who keeps getting the ship in one insane situation after another and he has to keep bailing him out while the ego-maniacal bastard takes all the credit.

Now that would be a fun movie to see. Pegg could do something really fun with that.

Then there's this story which I have shamelessly lifted from Neil Gaiman's blog. And it's not the idea that women may go into "heat" once a month, which as you can imagine is a touch controversial, that amuses me. It's just the way the "scientists" went about their "research." You can just see some of them going to their wives, "sorry hunny, I have to go to the strip club again this evening for more research.

I'm trying to decide if it's actually useful research or a future Ignoble Award winner.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Two random things

You can get weird searches coming through a blog sometimes. For example, I still get hits for people looking for a specific pron site because I once typed in two fair innocent words. I won't say what they are because I'm really not looking for that kind of traffic. But let's say every time I check Statcounter there's always weird result listed there.

But the best in recent days was someone typing into Google looking for "Me and You and a God Named Boo." Which I think is pretty damn funny considering I'm sure our little furball probably thinks he should be a god. Or at least worshipped and treated like one.

Oddly enough, when you actually do that search most of the results are for the actual song, but there is one for that spelling. It's for a song supposedly song that charted in Switzerland. However, I'm pretty sure that has to be a typo as well.

By the way, I'll try and take some pictures of Boo over the weekend and provide his fans with an update.

My other oddity is this story. Now, for you reporters out there who read this blog, and I know there are a few of you, there is an important thing you should know. If you ever find yourself doing a story about comic books and you used this headline or some variant, or you use it as your lede (this is actually a wire story, so the headline was the lede in other places) anybody who collects comics can legally beat you up. That might not be a scary prospect, but there are a lot of us out there and we can sneak up on you when you're not expecting it.

This story is the dream if you've ever collected comics long enough. You somehow magically stumble across Detective #27 or Action #1, both of which are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lord know when I was growing up I'd always run into someone around the bay who would claim to have had some ultra rare comic when they were growing up or who had a relative who might still have them in a basement or attic somewhere.

Never panned out, of course. Never stopped me from looking, though. When I was younger I used to hit used book stores and garage sales looking for comics that people thought were worthless. Found some pretty cool stuff over the years too. But alas, nothing worth six figures. I think the best I ever did was buy a copy of Spider-Man #300 for 50 cents and resold it a week later for $50. Oh, and I bought some comics off a guy who, in retrospect, was probably selling them to buy drugs. What I bought for $80 I later resold for close to $1,000.

Comics are a ruthless business, folks. There used to be a small group of us in St. John's about 15 years ago constantly on the prowl for deals like this. We called ourselves Mercs.

Cathy asked me this evening if I had any $100,000 comics stashed around. Alas, no. I have maybe a dozen or so worth a couple of hundred dollars. Which isn't bad. But I do still dream of going into an attic one day, moving a few boxes and finding that magic comic.

In the meantime, please don't use "Holy -----, Batman!" in any story you write. Thank you...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Horror show

Well folks, there are ass-kickings and then there are ass-kickings. And this is obviously one of the more impressive ones in Newfoundland history. Even the limited success I had forecasted for the opposition parties proved to be generous. I said it would be 40 PCs, 5 Liberals and 2 NDP. Instead we get 43 PCs, 3 Liberals and 1 NDP. And let's be honest, once they hold the special by-election out in central in November, the Tories will have 44 seats. Because if you're voting in a few weeks time, are you going to vote for a decimated opposition or the people who just did the decimating?

Yeah, that's pretty much a no-brainer.

This was pretty much a horror show to watch all evening. It wasn't just the low voter turnout. It wasn't just the fact there were precious few close races. Most of the Tory victors won by not just comfortable margins, but humiliating ones. There were times this evening where I wanted to just walk around the province with a gun and put Liberal candidates out of their misery. It was just the humane thing to do.

No, there's kind of something sad about watching democracy in the province be absolutely dead in Newfoundland and Labrador for the next four years. Oh sure, the arguments are there - democracy just happened. The majority of people in the province went out and voted and nearly 70 per cent of them choose Danny Williams party. That's democracy. The results might not always be pretty or smart, but they are what they are.

And it's hard to blame most people for voting the way they did. The NDP were only competitive in three seats. The Liberals were resorting to throwing warm bodies into some districts just to have a name on the ballot.

Still, there are four opposition members. The NDP may or may not keep their party status. I hope they do, just so they can keep some of their resources and give the opposition a bit of a hope in hell of doing their job. But the people of the province essentially just gave the Tories, and more specifically Danny Williams, free reign of the province. It should be interesting to see what he does with it.

Dear god, the next four years are going to be deeply weird.

By the way, while I appreciate Gerry Reid is deeply hurting this evening, having lost by only a handful of votes and having watch Williams slaughter the party he led like fattened cattle, he'll be glad for it in a few days. Once the pain eases a bit, he'll realize the pain of this evening will be much easier to bear rather than the pain of sitting in the House of Assembly for the next four years with Williams sitting across from him, smug and taunting (the premier is many things. A gracious winner is one of those things he's still working on).

It's roughly the difference between ripping off a band aid and fighting cancer for the next four years. Trust me, Reid will gladly take the band aid in a few days.

sigh...It's a good night to be a Tory. But I wonder if we won't all regret this evening, like a bad one night stand where you get herpes, in a few years time. I don't begrudge the win. But the scope of it is ridiculous. Nothing good can come form an opposition this small.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sloth Day

Cathy and I spent some time today discussing the need to create a new stat holiday. Actually, we believe in the creation of about six more new stat holidays. And we believe they should be called Sloth Days. Yes, that's not very politically correct. I believe Ontario wants to create something called Family Day or some such thing so that February gets a holiday.

But the hell with it, call it what it really is. Sloth. Lazing around and doing nothing. In fact, on Sloth Days it should be mandatory that you stay around your house and do nothing. The only way you should leave you house is to go to someone else's and do nothing or go to a beach or park.

In case you haven't guessed it, today was Sloth Day for us. We cooked up the turkey yesterday pretty much so that today we would do nothing other than laze around the apartment and eat leftovers. We watched a couple of movies. We read books. The only time we went outside was to return the movies and walk Boo. I played with the site design a bit (if you're a northern blogger and wondering why I haven't linked to you, blame Blogger. It's doing something weird that will only allow me to link to 15 sites). It was an exceptionally lazy day and I truly regret it has to end in a few short hours.

It was such a lazy weekend that I didn't even do that much writing on the book. I'm feeling bad about that, but part of it is laziness and part of it is arguing with one the characters in my head. She doesn't want to be a crazy redhead. However, as most redheads I've met tend to be a, she's going to have to deal. It is, however, slowing the creative process.

One last thing, as today isn't officially Sloth Day, but actually Thanksgiving, I figure I should list what I'm thankful for. But this thought occurs to me - if I were asked what I needed right now in my life, there's nothing I can really think of. Oh sure, there are things I'd like to have or want. But there's nothing I need. And I think that's quite the extraordinary thing to have at this point in my life. And certainly something to be thankful for.

Hard campaign

All elections can be rough going. And certainly the Newfoundland Liberal party were under no illusions about how hard this one was going to be. They were facing a premier with approval ratings at 70 per cent and higher. There was talk about the PCs sweeping the province. And just to add to their woes, Gerry Reid is really nobody's idea of premier material. I'm sure he's a nice enough guy, but remember, he didn't want to be leader of the party in the first place. When Roger Grimes stepped down, he didn't step forward. A disaster by the name of Jim Bennett did, who the Liberals promptly ousted when he gave the appearance of being too crazy to run the party.

So I'm just saying, it was rough going into election. The Liberals knew it was going to be a rough election. But I don't think the party was anticipating death and hospitalizations.

I didn't say anything when Gerry Tobin died out of respect to his family. But hell, I can't have been the only one to have thought, "Damn, you know it's a rough election when..." Then late on Friday Clayton Hobbs withdrew from the race in Bonavista South for health reasons, meaning Roger Fitzgerald was declared the winner. To be honest, this was just saving time as Hobbs had no chance of winning. Bonavista South was likely going to be the first seat declared for the Tories on Election Night.

But Jesus, now Simon Lono goes down with a blood clot? How brutal is it our there?

I've had Simon in my apartment for supper a couple of times when he was in Iqaluit. He's a hell of a nice guy and I was rooting for him in St. John's North. Now I'm just hoping the campaign doesn't kill him. It sounds like he's going to be fine, but both myself and Cathy are wishing him a speedy recovery. And hey, maybe even a surprise victory in St. John's North as a get better soon gift.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Stats so far

I like to do this updates once a year. There are any number of anniversaries I could pick for the start of this blog. It began in March 2005, lasted 10 posts and went the way of many blogs. Then it came back to life in September of that year, shortly after I moved to the north.

But the one I can certainly keep track of was when I signed up to use Statcounter, which was October 5, 2005. And as that anniversary just past, I figured it was worth taking a look to see what my traffic was like in the second year compared to the first.

So from October 2005 to September 2006, this is what my stats looked like"

Or, I had 39,259 page loads from 26,697 unique visitors.

Now, this is what October 2006 to September 2007 looked like:

In that 12 month period I had 58,602 page loads from 42,851 unique visitors. Essentially, I had a 50 per cent increase in page loads and visitors from one year to the next.

It's no doubt greedy that I would have liked a bigger increase. I was actually hoping for something close to a 100 per cent increase, but that was probably unrealistic. And while I have done things like update the blog almost daily, which helps traffic, there are certainly other measures to boost traffic that I didn't use. I don't link enough, my blog's focus is rather scattershot and it's certainly not the prettiest one around.

In terms of Newfoundland blogs, I figure it makes me mid to upper range. Certainly not in Ed Hollett or Damian Penny territory, but pretty respectable. For a Nunavut blogger I guess I would be near the top. Then again, there are probably only 20 of us who update on a regular basis, I won't brag too much about that.

What does all this mean? Pretty much nothing. I don't make a cent from the blog. I've never seen the need to put ads on the blog because I would only make pennies off of it. And that little change isn't worth making the site look ugly.

I just like know there are people who read the blog and that maybe they get some enjoyment out of it. There's also something else to take into account. When I worked with The Express, I had a reasonably popular column. The circulation of The Express was 40,000 a week. Assuming a third of those papers were dumped by the carriers without ever being delivered (and you thought you had carrier problems, Kate) or tossed by people without it being looked at, and then throw in some more who simply hated what I wrote (hard to believe, but they do exist), maybe 20,000 to 25,000 people read me a week. I had 42,000 pop by to visit in a year.

Ah well. Back to reality...

Friday, October 05, 2007

TV Reviews: Pushing Daisies and Private Practice

I think in the last four years since I began reviewing new shows I’ve seen five truly spectacular new pilots. However it’s interesting that the first four of those – Lost, Veronica Mars, Wonderfalls and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – I no longer watch. Studio 60 never came close to matching what it put up in that first hour. Lost lost me about half way through the second season. And while I would curse the network for cancelling Veronica Mars, the sad fact is that people didn’t watch it. The show was loved my critics and geeks, and yet it couldn’t draw three million people a week. As for Wonderfalls, well, Fox did everything in its power to screw that show from the start.

Yet each one of them managed to put their best foot forward in that first hour (well, maybe not Veronica Mars, which also managed to do some spectacular season finales). The first 15 minutes of Lost, for example, remain the most intense television I’ve seen in the past five years. It takes something special to make a really good pilot episode. The risk is that can you keep it up afterwards?

That’s what I thought while watching Pushing Daisies. This might change, but it’s obviously the best pilot of the new season and one of the best in recent years. It’s funny, creative, weird, has the best set design and visual palate of anything out there right now and is just a lot of fun. But I have no idea how they can keep this up. I can’t see how, but then again, the show has writers who are vastly more talented than I am and who get paid lots of money, so I’m hopeful they can dream something up.

In about as cool and strange a five minute origin sequence as I’ve seen in many years, the show opens with Ned (Lee Pace) discovering the rules of the game at age 10. He can bring the dead back to life with a touch. If he touches them again within 60 seconds, they die again. If he leaves them alive longer than 60 seconds, something else dies in its place (a dog lives, a nearby chipmunk snuffs it. A human lives, another human nearby dies). Oh, if he ever touches the person he’s brought back to life again, even if it’s after 60 seconds, they’re gone again, permanently. The five minutes where he discovers all of this manage to be surreal, funny, sad and touching all at the same time.

Skip ahead a bunch of years. Ned is now running a pie restaurant and using his abilities with a PI to solve murder cases. He resurrects the dead for a minute (who seem pretty cheerful, all things considered), find out how they died, then sends them back on their way. Once he knows what happens, they tell the appropriate people and collect a reward for more information.

Except this goes wrong when he tries to solve the death of a woman who he had a big crush on as a child and hasn’t seen since he first discovered his abilities. He brings her back, but is unable to send her back (“His lips could go no further and, as a result, the undertaker would go no further” says the loopy voice narrating events.). Now she’s back, they both have deep crushes on each other, but can’t touch because if he does, she dies.

This is all deeply strange and the explanation about how the whole resurrection thing thing works should seem terribly contrived. And yet, the writers pull it off with confidence. There's no winking at the camera or mugging. It's a neat writing trick that the actors also pull off.

It’s also a deeply cute show. You can’t look at the two leads and think they’re anything other than revoltingly, charmingly cute. I should have gone into diabetic shock, but didn't. Again, another neat trick. However that doesn’t change the fact that I think the show is doomed. In case you haven’t noticed, American TV programming punishes innovation far more often than it rewards it. As I read somewhere recently, people bemoan the lack of innovating programming on TV. But the reality is that networks do try innovative shows. It’s just that the public doesn’t watch them. At some point, people in suits pick up on that and give us another CSI clone or more dancing with borderline famous people.

In other words, how about giving this a shot. Because really, Dancing with the Stars makes me want to puke.

Private Practice

And speaking of cookie cutter, unoriginal shows….

There was little chance I was going to like this show. I only watched it because Cathy had it on and I was playing around on the computer. It’s a spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy, which I hate. Although that mostly has to do with Meredith Grey who is, by a wide margin, the most annoying character on television for me right now. Fortunately, she’s not on this show. Instead there is Addison (Kate Walsh), who just looks weird to me.

Seriously, have you ever seen an attractive woman and yet you know there is something deeply wrong with her face? That’s who Walsh is to me. I’m trying to figure out if it’s surgery, being botoxed to within an inch of her life or just wacky genetics. But there is something wrong with that woman's face.

The show is about some kind of strange private clinic in LA where people that don’t look like they could afford this kind of hospital can not only magically visit it, but also have the doctors do house calls. Plus there’s all kinds of the strange interpersonal wackiness that people who love Grey’s will probably love here. This week, we have a baby switch, some mystery poisoning and a stripper that causes issues with the female staff members.

I was bored. The characters all seem annoying to me. I can’t conceive of watching this anymore than I already have. But as I said, this isn’t a show designed for me. It’s not a show designed for heterosexual men, to be honest. I can’t see many watching it unless they have wives going “I watch your crap shows, now you’re going to watch my crap show.”

I sort of liked Dirty, Sexy Money last week and both of these shows are in the same soap operaish territory. The difference is that DSM at least has a bit of a wicked sense of humour. This is just 60 minutes of punishment.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I had a couple of different things I was going to write about this evening. I had a couple of reviews of news shows (Pushing Daisies and Private Practice) or some sanity saving tips for surviving your first winter in the north. However, my brain is now a softer grade of mush. I sat down this evening to write another section of the book (now at 75,000 words) and entered some kind of strange zone. I came out of it about 90 minutes later and was just zonked.

But I did manage to write several thousand words during that stretch. Which is good. But I'm pretty much done writing for the evening.

So in lieu of snappy reviews or useful advice I give you a meaningless prediction. The Newfoundland election is only a few days a way. Who is going to win is a foregone conclusion. All that matters now is the seat count.

So this is my prediction: 40 PCs, 5 Liberals, 2 NDP. The NDP will take Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi and Lab West. The Liberals will take the other three seats in Labrador and two somewhere on the island. No idea which ones, but they might be able to scrounge up two. I wonder which would be crueler for Gerry Reid? Winning his seat or losing it?

Anyway, I guess we will see. Feel free to make your prediction in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


This is such a weird fucking story. And before someone jumps on me about this, I’m not saying she wasn’t sexually assaulted and then the same guy tracked her down months later and beat her up. I have no reason whatsoever to doubt Ms. England’s story. I’m just saying it’s fucking weird.

Any journalist worth half a grain of salt in St. John’s right now must be looking at this story and wondering what the hell is going on. Maybe it is as straight forward as it seems. That somebody came to Ms. England’s house, forced their way in and raped her. Then, months later after moving to a new area and bravely coming out and telling her story, the same guy tracks her down and assaults here again. It could really be just that straight forward; that we’re looking at one seriously disturbed individual who has a real piece of hatred towards Ms. England.

But man, it feels like there’s more going on here. I don’t know what, but this is some seriously weird shit. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of something like that happening before.

Not helping things are the RNC, as usual. I know it’s easy to shit on the police. It’s easy to shit on the police in any city in Canada. And I have no idea why so many police forces find the idea of decent public relations so very hard to grasp, but they do. But even in a country filled with police forces with inept PR, the RNC normally manages to come out on top.

I remember one from about 13 years ago when I was an intern with the Telegram. I called the RNC’s flack and asked about an assault that took place on George Street at 3:30. He told me there had been no assault. When the CBC reported it the next morning (and after I got chewed out by my editor) I called him back. He told me there was no assault at 3:30 on George Street. There had been one at 3:15, though. I felt like killing him.

The RNC chief before Browne picked fights with reporters. He boycotted The Express after we ran an editorial rightly pointing out that at that time it took longer to get a degree in hair styling at the school the force were using in PEI to train officers than it took to become a qualified police officer. For six months afterwards we literally had officers telling us “I can’t talk to you. That’s come down from upon high and I will get in a lot of trouble.”

This is your professional police force. And every media outlet in St. John’s has these kinds of stories.

So when the RNC finally comes out and says “hey, no need to panic or live in fear” (I’m paraphrasing), well, that’s a bit too late and not quite enough. People are getting freaked out. A little more a lot earlier would have been useful.

I do have some empathy for the RNC, believe it or not. When they act quickly, they get burned with convictions tossed out of court and have judicial inquiries launched investigating their supposed incompetence. When they act slowly (remember, they have a murder investigation that’s been going on for about 10 months now with no arrests), they’re criticized for not acting fast enough. When they talk about a case, as they did with underage sex ring above the pizza place downtown or the drug charges surrounding Dr. Sean Buckingham, then they get burned later when charges start getting dropped left, right and centre or the case wasn’t as big a deal as was originally made out. (I’m not saying taking underage sex photos is good, but originally the story made national headlines for being an international child porn operating in St. John’s. Which isn’t what it was.) People then yell at them for exaggerating things. And when they don’t talk about a case, well, you get what’s happening right now.

(Also, as I discovered when editing this, you get people making up stories, wasting valuable time and resources.)

And hell, reporters are a pain in the ass. I know this. We’re bastards. But it’s what they paid me for back in the day.

So yeah, it’s a hard line to walk – give enough information to make people feel secure, but not so much that it ruins the case (there will never be enough information to make reporters happy). But hey, people competent and trained in their jobs can accomplish this. It happens all the time with other groups that deal with the media and the public. I have no idea why it’s so damn hard for the RNC. But it’s something they clearly need to fix.

If the RNC doesn’t want people to live in “constant fear” then they might want to try being a little better at their job. A competent police force can make people feel secure. The RNC apparently still has a way to go.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dion approaching

So I've heard that Stephane Dion will be visiting Nunavut in the coming days. I believe he plans on visiting Iqaluit Friday evening and part of Saturday. In fact, if what I'm hearing is true he'll be at the Iqaluit Press Club on Friday evening.

Yes, there's an Iqaluit Press Club. St. John's doesn't have one (or if it does, no one told me). I'm kind of tempted to crash it. I'm sure Dion has interesting things to say and all, but that's not the reason to go.

Let's put it this way, growing up I used to watch car racing all the time with my father. Not so much NASCAR, which we were never interested in, but we did like the open wheel racing cars, like Formula One or Indy Car. And hell, we both appreciated the skill it took to run a car around a course and to pass competitors and win a race. But let's face it, we were watching the race for the accidents. We didn't want to see anyone get hurt, but there's nothing like a nice pile up to make things exciting and a dull race interesting.

Do I really need to spell out the analogy any further on why I might go and see Dion talk this weekend?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Of Macs and weird electromagneticism

I'm wondering if there's sunspot activity or something wonky going on in the atmosphere this evening. The reception on the television has been crappy, with all of the channels snowy and a couple completely unwatchable. Add to that the Internet has been so slow that I've wanted to get out and push. For people living down south wonky cable TV and Internet probably couldn't be traced to weird atmospheric activity. However, since even cable and Internet come in here via satellite, it does make some degree of sense.

You'd figured if there was weird E-M activity there might be some cool northern lights this evening, however it's cloudy, so so much for that idea. I just hope it passes soon enough. Crappy TV and internet gets annoying after awhile.

Ah yes, roughing it in the Canadian Arctic.

Of course, I'm wondering if part of the crappy internet might have to do with the current laptop beginning to slow down. It's three years old now and doing fine for the most part. But sites like Facebook are killing it. It's a pain in the ass to open iPhoto anymore and with only a 30 gig hard drive I'm constantly having to delete things to make sure I have enough hard drive space.

All of which is building up to getting a new computer. Plus Cathy is getting tired using this iBook. Aside from wanting to get her own computer again, she hates the keyboard on this laptop. She always manages to find a way to erase everything she's written in email whenever she uses this machine. Weirdness.

Anyway, Cathy is looking at buying a new Macbook. Odds are I'll be getting a Macbook Pro sometime before Christmas. So we'll be up to our eyeballs in happy new Macness.

Another thing I've noticed is the number of people up here who seem to have Macs. Or at least the number of bloggers that have them. By my account there are at least a half dozen northern bloggers using Macs. That's probably nothing significant, just one of those odds things I've noticed.

Anyway, that's my rambling for this evening...