Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rambling right along

Yeah, so no blog post yesterday. Sorry about that. I've been trying very hard this year to meet a goal of having at least 365 posts at the end of this year. Obviously I won't be posting every day, but there will be days when I feel particularly inspired and might crank out two or even three posts in the run of a day. So far, I'm doing all right. I'm actually ahead of the 365 pace, although this month is going to set me back a few days.

And god only knows what's going to happen when we go to Australia. We managed to do pretty good last year when in Italy about posting on a regular basis, but there's no guarantee that's going to happen over there. For that matter, I'm pretty sure there will be no post on July 13. It's one of those magic day where we don't exist, or the world doesn't exist, when travelling across the international date line. We leave Vancouver July 12 at 11:30 pm. We arrive in Sydney at 7:30 am on July 14.

I'll let others more into that sort of thing determine the state of our existence for that day. I just remember it deeply freaked me out when I went to Korea back in '96. Just wait until we're coming back when we have to deal with reality of arriving in Canada before we leave Australia. That and jet lag can mess you up for days.

So anyway, as I ramble on, yesterday I had nothing. It's been a relatively quiet week on the personal front for the two of us, so nothing there. Even reading the news didn't find me much. I really don't want to comment too much on the Piggy Pandemic as A. there's lots of people already talking about it and B. It has the potential to be a serious health issue and I wouldn't have even the slightest clue what I'm talking about.

Granted, that happens often, as others will likely tell you in the comments section. But when it comes to a health crisis, I feel more inclined to be restrained with my commentary.

So no, nothing really. Although I did read this and thing two things:
1. Wow, her husband is a spectacular asshole.
2. Wow, this spectacular asshole came awfully close to getting into the White House, either as vice-president in 2004 or as president in 2008.

Lord knows there's enough people out there talking and President Obama's first 100 days. I tend to agree with the group of thought that goes "who the fucks cares about the first 100 days?" Is he drooling on the carpet or starting new wars? No? Good job then.

But I think we can all be agreed that he's doing a much better job than if we had the drama of yet another philandering Democrat in there. Or, God help us, the white trash circus show that is the Palin family.

Huh...I guess if you sit down and just ramble along, you can magically find a blog post. How about that?

Last Five
1. Get off of my cloud - Rolling Stones
2. Strange loop - Liz Phair
3. New world man - Rush
4. The collected works - A.C. Newman
5. Subterranean homesick blues - Bob Dylan*

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Getting through the backlog

Sara mentioned yesterday in the comments section of another post about "The Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis. I guess if you're in the mood for end of the world plague books, this really is one of the better ones. Willis apparently took five years to research and write the thing, and it shows as it is easily her best book. Time travel, an outbreak in a futuristic Oxford and a look at what happened when the Bubonic Plague hit England.

My favourite thing about the book, really, is the whole idea that the only people really interested in, or that find time travel even the slightest bit useful, are historians. There's a riff on that I'd like to explore one of these days in my own writing.

Anyway, this brought me to the notion that I really must reread "The Doomsday Book" again at some point. I do have a copy of it here and, for years, it was one of my favourite novels. That, Iain Banks "The Crow Road" and Neal Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon". However, I'm in the middle of a small book reading project right now that I need to complete first.

I've gotten out of the habit of reading books lately. I blame this entirely on the Internet. For whatever reason, I've gotten more into the habit of reading articles or things of interest online as opposed to picking up a book. The result is that I have a bit of a backlog of books that I really need to start reading. And they're by authors I like as well.

So I've resolved no more Chapters orders until I read at least five of the unread books on our shelves. I recently finished the first of these books, "Fool" by Christopher Moore. The book is King Lear as told from the very skewered perspective of Lear's fool.

It's probably the best thing Moore has written since "Lamb". His last two books were "A Dirty Job" (mediocre) and "You Suck" (awful). So it's nice to see him get back into form. It's pretty damn funny, although you need a high tolerance for profanity. Some people who read this blog are not fans of random profanity, and Moore uses it with glee in this book. Don't worry about if you've never read Lear. I haven't and you can follow it just fine. And as Moore points out, there are lots on incongruities about Lear anyway.

Right now I'm reading "Let The Right One In" by John Lindqvist. It's part of my quest to find something scary about vampires again. So far, it's had a few moments, but Lindqvist is working on a broader scale here rather than trying to tell just a simple vampire story. There's drugs, bullying, pedophilia, commentary on suburban life, and other assorted things in the mix as well. It's good, but not blowing me away. Part of me wonders if it's because Lindqvist is trying to do a lot here and I'm still in the early stages, or if the translation if not quite right (the book was originally written in Swedish). Always hard to say with these things.

Next up after that is a pair of Peter David books - "Treason" and "Tigerheart". The first is a Star Trek novel, which might seem like a cheat, but David does really good Trek novels and it's been a few years since he's worked with the particular characters in this book. 'Tigerheart" is his riff on Peter Pan, which I'm curious about.

After that it is "In A Sunburned Country" by Bill Bryson. I really ought to finish that book before heading off to Australia. And then maybe "Bad Monkeys" by Matt Ruff, which I started and liked several months ago, but stopped for some reason.

If I were feeling really brave, I'd try to get through Stephenson's "Anathem", but that book is a monster and, a quick flip through the first dozen pages shows that it's going to be one of those novels that literally might take me months to get through.

I'm kind of hoping that by reading all of these books before I allow myself another Chapters order, it gets me back into the swing of reading books again. I kind of miss it.

Last Five
1. Sleeps with butterflies - Tori Amos
2. Early morning man - Andrew LeDrew*
3. Octopus's garden - The Beatles
4. Alex Chilton - The Replacements
5. Rena - Blue Rodeo

Monday, April 27, 2009

Covering a hard story

Just a small head's up, but it's well worth your while to pick up a copy of News North this week. There's a story in there that's well worth reading.

When I was a reporter the story I hated getting, and did my best to dodge, was the one where you had to go speak to a family after a loved one had died. There are few worse feelings in the world as a reporter than staring at the phone, willing yourself to make the call or, even more harsh, standing in front of the door and willing yourself to knock on it.

But reporter Derek Neary managed to find the will and produced an absolutely heart-breaking story involving the mother of the man who jumped out of the flight to Cambridge Bay on April 15. It got plenty of headlines because of just how strange it was at the time.

However, if you can read the following paragraph and not have your heart break, just a little bit, then you're got a stronger one than me. It's a quote from Navalik Helen Tologanak about her son, Julian.

"I just hope that he walked to a cabin, but it's been a week now," she said on April 21. "I'm hoping, but I don't think so."

He, of course, jumped from a plane at 23,000 feet.

The rest of the story is just as heart breaking. These stories are a bear to write, they really are. And this one is really, really good. He's probably going to win an award for it. Plus there are follow-up stories about Julian's last day before getting on the plane, how he could have gotten the door opened, and a story on suicide prevention.

It's a nice package. Perhaps the CBC got this beforehand, but I haven't heard it. I try not to praise local media too much (it's best to crush their makes my life easier...;) ), but this is a nice job of covering a hard story. And one too easily written off as sensational, given the subject matter.

Last Five
1. Blowing bubbles - The Pursuit of Happiness
2. The Great Salt Lake - Band of Horses
3. Mysterious ways - U2
4. Challengers - The New Pornographers
5. The laws have changed - The New Pornographers*

MUN, dial tones and swine doom

And to get your Monday going, some things I've noticed or read over the weekend.

So MUN is launching it's latest attempt at trying to find a university president. The poor, doomed bastards. I mean, I've been on some Committees of the Damned before, but this one sails right to the top of the list.

1. Everybody thinks that this is actually a Committee of One, and that the premier is lurking not so subtly behind the scenes, making sure he gets the candidate that he wants.
2. After the Joan Burke inspired mess of last year, MUN's national reputation is even further in the mud. Impressive, when you think about it, considering all the massive foul-ups the university managed all on its own before the government got involved. And yes, some people might relish a challenge to put the ship back on course, but then you have to look back at answer #1 - how much freedom is the premier going to allow any new MUN president to have?
3. There are apparently a lot of universities looking for new presidents. Trying to get a good one when everyone is looking and your rep is in the mud is not going to be the easiest task in the world.

So yeah, good luck with that whole finding a new president thing, guys. I suspect I'm not going to be impressed with the eventual candidate, but here's hoping for a pleasant surprise.

I first heard about this on the CBC, but they don't have a link to a story. However, there is this press release from the Four Host First Nations Society. And what is it about? Well, they're creating ringtones for cell phones based on throat singing. It's the first of a series of ringtones they're creating based on traditional native music.

Go here if you want to download some throat singing for your cell phone.

I can't tell you why this amuses me. I find most ringtones to be a nuisance and more than once I've wanted to grab a cell phone playing a Britney Spears ringtone and ram it up someone's ass (I don't like cell phones, in case you couldn't figure that out), but the idea of a throat singing cell phone makes me smile. And will probably scare the hell out of me the first time I hear it.

The latest "Oh God, Oh God, we're all going to die" is swine flu, which broke out in a big way, media wise, this weekend. And I'm not saying this isn't a serious thing and it should be dealt with as quickly and professionally as possible. However, I will bet good money this doesn't turn out to be a fraction as serious as what the media is playing out to be right now. I hope.

However, if you need a laugh in-between stocking up on surgical masks, hand sanitizer and duct tape (to air seal your house until the crisis is over, of course), then I think you will be hard pressed to find anything funnier than today's XKCD. A little levity while waiting for the swine apocalypse to come squealing down the highway.

Last Five
1. Circles - Bob Mould
2. Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
3. Not fade away - Rolling Stones
4. Long way home - Bruce Springsteen
5. The pretender (live) - Jackson Browne*

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Planning the next one

So we're back from one vacation and we're starting to get deep into the planning of the next one. I know, the burdens of being us. Except Ottawa was a pretty simple trip when looking at logistics. Australia is a touch more complicated.

We've had the tickets booked for ages, but with about 11 weeks until we leave we have to start getting into the other details. We need a place to stay in Sydney. We need to figure out how long we're going to stay there before heading off. We need to book a ticket to fly to Cairns, figure out how long we're going to stay there and where we're going to stay. And we need to get a train pass from Cairns back down to Sydney.

This is kind of the grunt work, the not really that much fun part of the planning. It took a lot longer than you would have thought to find out that, yes, you can get a train pass for the east coast of Australia similar to a Eurorail pass - where you can hop on and off the train. And there's a dizzying array of places to stay in both Sydney and Cairns along with a lot of websites that will help you find places to stay. It just gets a bit overwhelming at times.

We've finally given up on Lonely Planet and Wikitravel, which served us well for Italy. They just weren't finding us any reasonably priced places to stay. We've since switched over to tripadvisor and we've been having much better luck with that.

Plus, a couple of our friends and their daughter want to meet us in Australia. They currently live in Shanghai and want to hang out for a week or so, which is awesome, but again, one more thing to coordinate.

I'm looking forward to plotting out the fun stuff. Not entirely sure what we're going to do in Sydney, although Cathy wants to go and see a koala rescue area. As for Cairns, the sheer volume of things you can do there is overwhelming. Going out to the Great Barrier Reef to go snorkeling, sky-diving (something I've always wanted to try), going up in a balloon, white water rafting, hikes though the rain forest, beaches....

And then afterwards a nice slow train trip down the coast, stopping at different communities to just hang out and do whatever. We haven't even begun to research that yet. It's a big coast with lots of places to visit.

God love the internet....trying to plan a vacation like this even 20 years ago would have been a pain in the ass, trying to figure out where to go, where to stay, what to do. Now you have all these options. Which can be too much to handle sometimes. Still, there are worse ways to spend a weekend....spending about eight hours online doing research about Australia.

Now we just have to wait another 11 weeks.

Last Five
1. Out of habit (live) - Ani DiFranco
2. The Heinrich Maneuver - Interpol
3. My out of style is coming back - Matthew Good Band*
4. October - U2
5. Standing next to me - The Last Shadow Puppets

Friday, April 24, 2009

A little over the top

We clearly have issues when we're out about buying things to entertain us. Specifically, DVDs. That was the case during the trip to Ottawa. I recall before heading down thinking that we likely wouldn't buy that many because there weren't many new releases I wanted to own. Plus, surely God, we were getting near the end of our "Classic movies we want to own but don't" list.

Still, we took a travel case that could hold 48 discs. I figured we might fill half of that if we went all out.

We came back with 46 of the 48 spaces filled. Ooops.

Most of the damaged was caused when we walked into Wal-Mart and there, in a bin, was a bunch of DVDs for $5 each. Now normally you see a bin with $5 movies you're expecting Kirk Cameron's greatest religious apocalypse works mixed in with some Pamela Anderson reject movies. But this bin had good stuff tossed in there. Am I supposed to pass up a disc with The Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome on it? How about Heat, with DeNiro and Pacino?

For $5? I think not.

Cathy's DVD find of the trip was the first two seasons of Big Love for $29 each. I was happy to pick up Highlander for $12 (and I can't believe I didn't already own it). In fact, we only bought two new movies during the trip...the latest Bond - Quantum of Solace - and the Swedish vampire flick Let The Right One In. Just because I had read so many good reviews and I'm in desperate need of something well written/produced that features vampires so I can be reminded of a time when they were actually kind of creepy/scary.

(As a side note, Peter David put a link up to this hilarious "Twilight" recap site. I'm never going to be able to take the books seriously after reading this.)

What was curious were the DVDs we picked up and then put back on the shelf. A lot of them were old TV shows. I've learned from experience that just because I liked the show as a kid, doesn't mean it's aged particularly well or that it's fit for viewing as an adult. You will find no better example than Battlestar Galactica. Loved it when I was nine, but it's unwatchable now.

(Another side note - the complete DVD collection of the new BSG is coming out in July. And in Blu-Ray as well. That's going to be pricy...)

Which is why, for example, it was pretty each to pass up on the box set containing the complete Knight Rider. And it was only $90. I know Megan will be horrified.

Cathy had a moments pang when I showed her the first season of Blossom, a show she loved as a kid (it has to do with the hats). She looked at it, held it in her hands and then slowly put it back on the shelf. I did something similar with a box set containing the first two seasons of Moonlighting. Loved the show when I was 15 or so. Thought it was the funniest, cleverest thing I'd ever seen on TV. I was bitterly disappointed when all the behind-the-scenes drama basically drove the show into the ground. It was only $20, but I just had a sense that it wasn't going to live up to my memories of how funny it was at the time. That it was going to seem awfully stale and flat. So why ruin the memories by buying it?

Having said that, then I went and bought the first season of Remington Steele (featuring a young Pierce Brosnan) on a lark. It was $15, which is the only defence I have. I suspect it's going to be somewhere beyond cheesy, but we'll see. Regardless, I think we're covered in the home entertainment front for a bit.

Last Five
1. Girl on the wing - The Shins
2. Can't stop feeling - Franz Ferdinand*
3. Thrice All American - Neko Case
4. Nothin' - Robert Plant and Allison Krauss
5. All fired up - Interpol

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Safe arrivals

So I said we were busy yesterday, and we were. We were unwrapping and assembling prizes from the south. Which took many hours, but was worth it in the end.

I think I also have to offer a small defence of First Air here as well. Lord knows I have my complaints about the northern airlines. I still think they charge too much for plane tickets. But they've been getting a bad rap the last week on northern blogs, with Clare and Jen (I'm assuming it was First Air with Jen, although she doesn't name the airline), both having pretty severe problems with them.

Now granted, that could have to do with food mail, which is a program in deep need of an overhaul. I don't think anyone in the north is particularly happy with the way the program is run these days. We basically abandoned it about two years when we felt we were getting robbed, both in terms of the quality of food and how much we were paying.

However, I have nothing but nice things to say about First Air and how our cargo got up here. First of all, I won this cargo through a donation they made to the curling club. It was 100 kg of cargo, which is about a $400 prize, and that wasn't even the biggest donation they made for that bonspiel. So they're good like that when it comes to giving to community groups.

Secondly, we had no problems at all during the transportation process. I went into First Air Cargo in Ottawa essentially waving a piece of paper and they didn't give me any grief at all. They guy who took our stuff couldn't have been nicer and slapped a whole bunch of "Fragile" and "Glass" stickers over our boxes.

Also, we dropped them off on Saturday, the guy said they should be up in Iqaluit by Tuesday. And Wednesday morning they called and said to come and pick them up. All three boxes arrived safe and sound. One of those boxes was our framed print. The other was a box containing a curio, which was essentially nothing more than sheets of glass with a tiny bit of wood and metal thrown in.

I know Clare and Jen are not yelling at them just for the sake of yelling at them. They have legitimate grievances. I'm just saying, in this case, they did all right with us.

So, we have new things for the apartment. Let's show them off, shall we?

First up, the slightly boring, a shelving unit from IKEA. But you can never go wrong buying IKEA, especially in Iqaluit. People love it up here, so if you sell it later, you can easily make back what you spent, if not more.

Anyway, I think we're good on storage space for the next while, at any rate. Next up in the curio, which Cathy is very happy with and I'm mildly astonished made it up here in one piece.

And finally, our Dorset print is framed and hanging on the wall, a mere six months after we bought it. Don't ask how much the framing was. But we are happy with it and it looks great. I give you Grand Entrance by Kenojuak Ashevak.

And to give you some idea of its size, because it's a big damn picture and frame...

Anyway, we're happy with it all. We're broke, but at least the apartment looks nice and is well organized.

Last Five
1. Drawn to the rhythm - Sarah McLachlan
2. Days of rain - Bob Mould
3. Heal over - KT Turnstall
4. The sharpest thorn - Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint*
5. Safe in your arms - Joel Plaskett

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Na na, hey hey, good-bye

I really don't care much for hockey. I might have mentioned this before, after 1,300+ blog posts the subject matter I've written about tends to blur a bit, but I figured it was worth pointing out again as the play-offs are on.

I have no idea why, really. I like sports. I like lots of different sports, but hockey has never done it for me. I tended to follow it when I was a kid because that's what you do when you a boy in elementary school. You don't give the pack a sign of weakness at that age, and saying you don't like hockey is like coming to school wearing glasses, braces and wearing a pink shirt. You just know there's a beating coming at some point.

But I never did care much for it. Ours was not a hockey crazy family by any stretch. I'm not sure if anybody in our family has even laced up a pair of skates to play a game. Different people rooted half-heartedly for different teams. I know there are Leafs, Bruins, Blackhawk and Red Wings fans in the horde (oh, and has the Red Wing fan been unbearable lo these many years). But we were all united in one thing, though. We all hated the Canadiens. So while I might not have inherited a team to cheer for (I'm a very weak Leafs fan), or a sport to care passionately about, I did inherit a team to hate. It really didn't matter who won the Cup, as long as the Canadiens lost.

So essentially my Stanley Cup play-offs ended this evening. I didn't watch the game, I was busy, but I do enjoy this story. The Habs went out in four, which is fine and amusing for me. But that Michael Ryder did a nice chunk of the damage is what makes it glorious and causes me to actually pay attention to hockey for more than 30 seconds.

Ryder, as I recall, was treated abysmally when he was with the Canadiens last year. I was glad when he left in the off-season because Ryder playing with the Canadiens was always a minor headache for me. You want to cheer for the Newfoundland boy doing well in the big leagues, but did it have to be for that team?

But he left, went to a team that finished first in their conference and just put the screws to Canadiens by scoring four goals in the series, including two in the final game.

Plus the anguished cries of Habs fans on Facebook this evening are like a balm to my blackened, twisted soul.

So now I can go back to ignoring hockey again. Which is nice. Wake me up in about six weeks or so when all of this foolishness is over and let me know who wins, all right?

Last Five
1. Miniature parade - Bob Mould
2. We shall overcome (live) - Bruce Springsteen
3. Lonely people - Hawksley Workman*
4. A man/Me/Then Jim - Rilo Kiley
5. Pomegranate daffodil - Hawksley Workman

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Three thoughts on Tuesday

So let's see, it's getting late on Tuesday, let's see what quick things I can mention this evening.

1. I'm happy to see this story about the possible reopening of an air route between Nuuk, Greenland and Iqaluit. I've wanted to go to Greenland for years and it's kind of silly that it's two hours away by air and you can't get there directly from here. Instead, you can literally spend days shagging around with planes trying to fly to Greenland.

The question becomes how much will the flight cost, of course. Because I'd also love to visit Arctic Bay, but I'm not paying the $2,000 to get there (sorry Clare). Same thing with Greenland. If a ticket is $700 or something, then I'd think about it. But if it's $2,000, well, I would have to think long and hard on that before taking the plunge.

2. Our cargo stuff didn't arrive today which, to be honest, would have been mildly miraculous. Although I really could have done without reading this today. Yes, I know these things happen all the time. Cathy had an order of Pampered Chef stuff arrive in the mail yesterday (she does the ordering for some of her co-workers) that looked like it had been used for soccer practice first.

So yes, intellectually, I know there are pretty decent odds are stuff is going to get put through the grinder getting transported up here. Still, you really don't want to see proof of what can happen right now. I hope it gets here all right. And soon.

3. Since the regular TV season is coming to and end in the next few weeks, it also means its time to take a look at what shows are "on the bubble". This is a pretty good list of what's hanging on by a thread and a depressing number of them are shows that I like. They include Castle, The Unusuals and Chuck. The thought of losing Chuck is especially horrifying, as Monday's episode was just so full of....awesome.

This is actually a pretty nice defence of why NBC should keep the show going. It is a pretty brutal time slot and I don't think they're going to find anything there that's going to do better. So here's hoping there's good news on the show soon.

Last Five
1. In or out (live) - Ani DiFranco
2. Naked as we came - Iron & Wine
3. Black black heart - David Usher
4. No you girls - Franz Ferdinand*
5. Save the population - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Monday, April 20, 2009

No theatre...

So we go for nine or so days and there is a bit of drama we missed. Yes, it was Toonik Time up here, which is the big spring festival for Iqaluit. I kind of regret missing it each year, but it's always takes place during the break at school, which means it's one of the few times we can go on vacation. I understand it was pretty good again this year.

But then there was a fire in town, well photographed over here. I will note that this is pretty much a hop, skip and a jump away from where we live, but the wind was blowing in the opposite direction, so it appears our building was never at risk. Also, I haven't heard of anyone dying in the fire, so that's good news.

Then again, we lived right next door to the Snack when it burned down in 2007 and we never even knew about it until the next morning when we were going down the stairs to work. We never heard a thing. Furthermore, no one tried to evacuate our building, just in case. Hell, even our car was in the same spot, literally less than 20 feet away from the fire. In retrospect, it was insane. I can't believe that happened, but anyway...

The other bit of drama has to do with the movie theatre in Iqaluit, which is now closed for the time being. Gah. As I understand it, a large sum of money was stolen, the owner is out of the territory on medical and the theatre's reopening is up in the air. It could open this week, next week, next month or never.

No movie theatre in town is very bad. Yes, I just saw a whole swath of movies in Ottawa, so I'm probably good for a few weeks. But just the month of May has me deeply scared. On May 1 there is the Wolverine movie. A week later is Star Trek, the week after that is Angels and Demons, which while not a necessity, I generally give anything Tom Hanks is in a look. Then there is Terminator: Salvation on May 22 and Pixar's Up on May 29.

I have some serious movie watching to do next month. There needs to be a movie theatre in town. When Cathy gave me the news at lunch time I said we should by the theatre. She thought I was joking. I was...barely. If it's still closed in June, I might not be anymore.

Oh, and speaking of Star Trek, I got a little gift in the mail today. We have friends in the US who have... connections within one of the major cereal companies. So I got these three neat little things.

I received the Klingon, Romulan and Federation Engineer toys. Yes, I am a geek. Plus, they probably saved me $30 or so if I wanted to go and get them the traditional route. It's not like cereal is cheap up here.

Now if only I can get to see the movie...

Last Five
1. Maybe I'm amazed - Paul McCartney
2. Chainsaw Earle (live) - Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellas*
3. I turn my camera on - Spoon
4. Our motto - Dear Leader
5. Hold on - KT Turnstall

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back home

So we're back in Iqaluit again, with a marginally heavy heart. It's just the end-of-vacation blues. I think any place in Canada would have looked a touch depressing today with the idea of work waiting in the wings on Monday. But a cool, gray and blustery Iqaluit did little to improve the mood when we landed. Having to wait 45 minutes at the airport because the First Air and Canadian North planes landed within 10 minutes of each other didn't help. The airport was chaos. I'd suggest that the terminal might be soon in need of an upgrade given the increased levels of traffic going through the place, but more infrastructure money for Iqaluit is always bound to piss off people.

As for the last day in Ottawa, no real big observations to report other than trying to get into a half decent restaurant on a Saturday night requires some patience. I think we got some solid confirmation that if there's a recession going on, it seems Ottawa is solidly protected so far.

And, well, we certainly did our best to stimulate the economy while we were there. Although no matter how much you think you've spent while out, there's always people at the airport that can put you to shame. The ones who show up with about six large tupperware containers.

But everything managed to make it up here in one piece...well, so far. We're still waiting for the three items we have sent up via First Air Cargo. A curio cabinet and shelving unit from IKEA and we also got our Cape Dorset print framed (and yes, Mireille, we did pay too much for it). I had 100kg of free freight and our final weight total was.....98kg.

There's cutting it close, and then there's cutting it close. Of course, we now have 2 kg of extra air freight. Not entirely sure what we'll do with a whopping 2 kg, but we'll figure out something. Of course, we're just worried about it making it here without breaking. There's plenty of glass, and while we have "Fragile" and "Glass" written and stuck all over the boxes you always tend to worry about these things.

Hopefully they'll arrive on Tuesday, at least that's what they told us.

And now, back to work. sigh

Last Five
1. Redneck friend (live) - Jackson Browne
2. You can call me Al - Paul Simon
3. Istanbul (not Constantinople) - They Might Be Giants*
4. All thumbs - Tracy Bonham
5. What's it going to be - Neil Diamond

Saturday, April 18, 2009

State of Play

So our last day in Ottawa. A touch sad, because despite the complaints it is a nice city. We could certainly live here if we ever decided to give up on Iqaluit. However, as that's not happening anytime in the future, we're not worried about trying to find a place.

All that's on the agenda today is to pick up our print, which has now been framed and looks quite lovely, and then get it and the IKEA out to First Air Cargo. I was talking to the cargo guys yesterday, so with luck we should be able to pick up the lot of it either tomorrow or Monday, which is great. I had visions of it being stuck in a warehouse in Ottawa for weeks because they were too backed up, but that's not the case.

No new Ottawa observations other than it is a tremendously stupid thing to be anywhere near a bridge that leads to Gatineau anytime after 3:30 pm on a Friday. Which we did yesterday.

Oh, and Cathy got a tattoo.

She's been talking about one for ages, but always manages to not find time or worries about having to do a lot of walking while recovering from it, as she wanted it on her foot. But we're at the end of the vacation, we'll be taking it easy for the next day or two, so why not?

Pictures will be forthcoming in a few days once we get home. We have a camera here with us, but no cable to load them to the computer.

And last night we went and saw State of Play, which is the suspense thriller with Russell Crowe in it. Pretty damn good movie, if I do say so myself. The movie also reconfirms Crowe's love affair with Great Big Sea. I thought so because I'm 95% certain it's GBS's "The Night Pat Murphy Died" playing in Crowe's car during the first scene where we meet him. Cathy thought it was because he had robbed Alan Doyle's hairstyle for the movie. You be the judge.

But it's a fun movie, and the last of a dying breed....the heroic, crusading print journalist determined to get the truth of the story, no matter how long the editor has to hold the presses. I haven't seen the original BBC 6 hour mini-series, which I'm told is quite good, and I imagine plenty of sacrifices had to be made to get this movie down to a zippy two hours. But it manages to hold at the seams despite the cuts.

Plus, I will watch Helen Mirren be a hard ass bitch who curses a lot any day of the week. I was laughing disproportionate to the rest of the audience when we see the sign on her desk which reads "Never trust an editor" and fuming at Rachel McAdams "Don't you be looking at me with those dewy, baby reporter eyes."

Roger Ebert wonders if this is the last of this kind of movie. And there is a certain poignancy over the last scene as the final credits roll. I hope not. It's a fun movie and I think most print journalists will get a kick out of it, unrealistic scenes (I've been around newsrooms four hours past print deadline. I don't recommend the experience) and all.

Good fun. Much like our time in Ottawa. But alas, time to head home. We miss our dog. Plus, we've got to go and do something to pay for this trip.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Stunned gaze

Forgot to update last night. We got back from a movie - "Fast and Furious" (about the right level of dumb) - and then I settled in to reading Christopher Moore's "Fool" and next thing I know it's 11:30 at that's it for the evening.

Besides, I have no great observations from our Ottawa wanderings yesterday. Well, there was the matter of Costco, I guess....

We've been debating whether or not to go to Costco, but finally decided "what the hell". But here's the thing, Costco is decidedly a dangerous place for people who have been up north for awhile. I mean, if you've ever been at the Wal-Mart at South Keys shortly after the First Air or Canadian North flight from Iqaluit hits Ottawa, it's a dangerous place. You can always spot the Nunavummiut in the place - they're the ones walking around in a daze, with a stoned, almost orgasmic look on their face. They're also not paying to where they're going, making them a hazard to their fellow shoppers.

So dropping us into a Costco, well, I admit it, I was worried. Costco is bigger than a lot of Nunavut communities, both in area and number of people.

We managed, but it was touch and go there for a bit. We stayed out of the fresh fruit, veggies and meat section because that would have been too cruel. But we did wander the rest with the appropriate stunned gaze on our faces. And before we hit the check-out we rechecked the cart to see if we really needed everything in it. Amazing how much stuff you put back when you do that sort of thing.

So other real Ottawa observations this time, except to say that I have been picking on the place a lot the past week. And I admit some of the bloom has come off the rose, as we have explored the city and the suburbs more, but it's still a nice place and I could see us living here one day. Although I wouldn't want to live in the burbs and I have no idea how we could afford to live in the city we'll see about that dream.

Anyway, we're off to find Cathy a dollar store, and then off to First Air to make sure this gift certificate I have for 100kg of free cargo works.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


So I think if we had a deadly sin that was broken today then gluttony was definitely the one that took a beating. I mean, it started off simply enough, a nice stroll around the Glebe area of Ottawa and the next thing you know we spot a The Works burger place, which was raved about in yesterday's comments section.

Next thing you know I've been whipped by a meal. I actually could not finish the large milkshake, along with the burger and fries. Of course, I didn't know I would be drinking a milkshake in a glass the size of a kitchen sink. But it was all very good, though. So thanks "In Iqaluit" for the recommendation. It's going to be a regular stop for us in Ottawa from now on.

After that, well, the money kind of just went flying. A stop at a curling pro shop for a few things that got worn out during the year, some clothes that needed replacing, a stop at Wal-Mart and a bunch of other little things. Oh, and Wal-Mart was selling a bunch of DVDs for $5 each, so that got ugly in a hurry.

I'm slightly reeling from it all, even though I knew we were going to be spending money on this trip. "Retail therapy" as Cathy calls it. We only do this sort of thing once a year so I know it's all right, but trying to wrap your brain around doing a year's worth of shopping in one week, well, it can make you a touch jittery at the end of the day when looking at the receipts.

On the other hand, I think we've got 90 per cent of the shopping done, so I think the plan tomorrow is to find a coffee shop with a few tables outside and read, which I would say is cheap, except parking costs in Ottawa are insane. Two dollars buys you 40 minutes on a parking meter. Gah.

Other random observations about Ottawa:

1. Bank Street was clearly designed by a crack addict, what with one of the lanes disappearing (for the insanely expensive parking meters) and reappearing completely at random. I don't understand how there aren't more accidents. Not helping are drivers who are touched in the head.

Of course, it could be just that I'm out of practice in dealing with traffic. We laugh about the traffic in Iqaluit, but it's small stuff compared to other places. Plus, drivers in Iqaluit are polite...even the cabbies. In Ottawa, not so much.

2. You know, you read that 80s fashion is coming back, but you think to yourself "Nah, there's no way they'll repeat that decade of gruesome mistakes", but then you see the proof of it walking out of the Rideau Shopping Mall. The girl was about 17, had on flip flops, white leg warmers that came up to her knees, an acid washed denim mini-skirt and a pink hoodie. The other day in Future Shop I saw a 20 year old woman wearing enough hairspray that I was seriously concerned about stepping outside and getting blasted with enough UV radiation to kill me instantly. Oh, and her hair was done in a Mount Pearl Curl Flip. Dear god....

Oh, and I've seen two Japanese women clearly dressed as manga characters.

If nothing else, Ottawa is cheap entertainment for its people watching. Just as long as you don't have to park anywhere near Byward to do it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Psychotic breaks and big box stores

So what have we learned in our travels today?

1. You don't fuck with Ottawas bus drivers. They will take you out and not give a shit. I noticed on the back of the bus they have a little sticker advising drivers to yield for buses when they pull out. What it should say is if you value your life and insurance premiums, you will yield because they aint stoppin' for no one.

2. Our Garmin (lovingly known as "the Bitch") seems to be having a small break with reality. A warning pops up now when we turn it on letting us know that the map we're using is out of date and we need to buy a new one. We laughed, figuring how much has Ottawa changed in the past 18 months.

Well, apparently enough to give the Bitch several psychotic breaks with reality when driving around town today. I swear to God, the bloody thing actually sounded frazzled. I think it will get us through the rest of the week without melting down, but I guess we'll have to look at updating it the next time we do any serious driving down south.

3. We did do some serious beating around today, catching up with a couple of Cathy's friends in town. And in our travels we noticed that, man, Ottawa has a lot of Big Box Lands. And they all look alike. Hell, they look like Stavanger Drive or Kelsey Drive or places I've seen in Edmonton. It's like there's a single prototype for what a Big Box Land must look like and they all must follow it.

Which is a bit of a pity, really. It's taken a bit of a bloom off of Ottawa for us. Oh, we're still doing our best to stimulate the local economy, but there's just something about all those big box stores and seeing all that farmland being plowed under for subdivisions that's kind of depressing. Although we're still trying to figure out where all the people are coming from. Is there a mass immigration to Ottawa that nobody has told us about?

Monday, April 13, 2009

First we feast, then IKEA

Bonus points if you know the book the title quote is pulled from...

So the USS Endeavor finally got put to the test today. We haven't been using her that much because we've been staying downtown Ottawa over the weekend. We just left her parked and walked everywhere we needed to go. That included walking past a group of very determined Tamils protesting in front of Parliament Hill since Thursday, I believe. They were back at it again this morning. I give them marks for perseverance if nothing else.

Anyway, we took the starship out for a spin today, including to Cathy's favourite place in Ottawa - IKEA. Earlier the year I managed to win 100kg freight at a bonspiel and Cathy cheerfully managed to use up about 75 kg of it today. I think today is a holiday in Ottawa for Easter, which explains why IKEA was packed at 3 pm on a Monday. There were hordes of people going through the place.

I've been looking for signs of an economic downturn since we hit Ottawa. I'm not saying I'm an expert on the place, but I haven't spotted anything different in the place. Sparks Street looked dead, but it looked dead last summer when I was here. But every Chapters we've been to, the Byward Market, IKEA and MEC were all packed. Are we sure things are supposed to be bad down here?

Not really sure what we're doing tomorrow. Cathy's meeting a friend for lunch. I might finally go and hit a comic book store or two. But we shall see. It's a vacation, after all, and we are clearly not on a schedule.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens vs. Migraine

Your options are slightly limited when it comes to things to do in Ottawa on Easter Sunday, but we managed just fine. We've been staying at the Albert House Inn for a couple of nights, just as a bit of a treat before going back to the Adam's Airport Inn for the rest of our stay in Ottawa. Oh, and our upgrading streak continued. When we checked in here, there was a cancellation, so they upgraded us to the biggest room in the place. And the breakfasts here are amazing.

Anyway, the one thing that was open today was Chapters down near the Rideau Centre, so we spent a lovely three hours or so perusing the stacks, looking for new books or authors. We didn't buy any books, let's not be silly here. Books take up too much space and are too expensive when bought in Ottawa. But we took notes and we'll order a bunch when we get back to Iqaluit. Assuming we have any money left. Which may be somewhat doubtful by the time this week is over with.

Oh, fun thing I learned at Chapters today. I was in the biography section looking at Steve Martin's book "Born Standing Up" and I noticed Rebecca Eckler's masterpiece on the same shelf. Just out of curiosity, I picked it up and tried reading a few pages, just to see if it was as bad as her column writing. Unsurprisingly, about as awful as I expected. But here's the amusing thing...I noticed there were no blurbs on or in her book. There were no glowing words of praise on the back cover. There was nothing inside in the pages leading up to the first chapter.

I grabbed a few nearby books and looked at them. All of them had blurbs somewhere. The publishers managed to find someone, somewhere to say nice things about the author. I'm assuming bribes might have been involved with some of them, but they made do.

Nowhere in the land could there be found a person willing to go on record and stake their reputation as having enjoyed Eckler's book. Really says something, when you think about it.

This evening saw our continuing quest to see every movie currently playing in Ottawa while we're here except for Hanna Montana. This evening it was Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D IMAX. And we're both fighting the headaches as we speak. I thought I would be all right. I saw Beowulf in 3D IMAX a couple of years ago, but whatever process Dreamworks is using for this movie gave me a headache. The fact that the movie is erratic and not nearly as clever as it would like to think it is didn't help any either.

We saw Duplicity on Friday, which was better, but not quite as good as it should have been. Not entirely sure why. Some people complained the script was too complicated, but honestly, if you couldn't follow what was going on, then there's something wrong with you. I think it might have been that Julia Roberts and Clive Owen didn't have as much chemistry as I thought. And it should have been more fun. I think it was a touch more serious than it needed to be.

Not sure what movie to catch next. God help us, maybe Fast and Furious...although I notice a theatre in town is showing a double feature of Monty Python - Life of Brain and the Holy Grail. That's deeply tempting. But we shall see...

Saturday, April 11, 2009


So we've arrived safely in Ottawa without much in the way of incident. The odd unhappy baby and Cathy had one of her students sit next to her for the three hour flight. I had a pair of guys sitting next to me who I would have been concerned about their alcoholic intake (one of them had five beers and a cup of red wine), but 1. they both looked like guys who could handle their booze and 2. One of them was drinking Coors Light which, according to my beer connoisseur friends, barely classifies as recycled piss.

The amusing part came when we went to get our rental for the week. Whenever possible, we try to rent a car anytime we're in Ottawa, even if it's just overnight. For one thing, it costs about as much to rent as to get a taxi. And secondly, it means avoiding the obnoxious cabbies at the airport. The last cabbie we dealt with there cursed on us the entire ride from the airport to the Southways Inn because he had been waiting for a fare for three hours and he was just getting this crappy $10 one for all his troubles. He even griped when I gave him a $3 tip for a $10 ride.

So fuck that.

So we go over to Enterprise Car Rentals where we have a subcompact reserved for our time in Ottawa. And the guys are pretty nice, chatting away when the one dealing with us looks at his computer and starts laughing.

"So yeah, we're out of subcompacts so do you want a SUV or a mini-van for the week?"

So we're currently driving the USS Endeavor. All the damn thing needs is a set of warp nacelles and we would be ready to vacation on Vulcan this Easter. It's bloody huge, which is nice in a way because we're going to be transporting some large and awkward things this week, like a picture frame.

On the other hand, driving it is weird because it's the biggest thing I've ever been behind the wheel of. Plus parking lots are terrifying. I'm also dealing with this residual guilt thing because I'm sure no matter how much Mitsubishi is bragging about its fuel efficiency I'm destroying vast swaths of the ozone layer somewhere with this thing.

Ah well, we'll deal.

Anyway, we're off to finally take care of Cathy's Tim Horton's craving, then down to the Byward Market for a few hours and then off to a B&B we're staying at for the rest of the weekend.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Up, up and away

So we're leaving on a jet plane in about two hours. We're off to Ottawa for a much needed break. But being the dedicated blogging lad that I am, I'll still try to put something up every day while we're down there. Although that might get disrupted if we put Cathy's laptop in for repairs. Nothing serious, just some of the plastic around the keyboard is badly cracked and currently held in place by duct tape. So if we can get that fixed quickly and without it costing a small fortune, then we will.

Oh, and I promised a winner for the "Naming the Walruses poll". We had 55 ballots case and it was a tight race. So tight in fact that it was a tie between Ivey, Vic, and Rosmarus, with Drink, Drank and Drunk. They both had 12 votes each. Now, I could do a run-off vote for this, but I think I'm just going to use my executive power and cast the deciding vote.

So your walruses are now officially Ivey, Vic, and Rosmarus....although I suspect that will be shortened to Ivy, Vic and Rose.

Anyway, off to the airport. You all behave now....

Last Five
1. It takes one of know one - The Donnas*
2. Handshakes - Metric
3. It's catchin' on - Joel Plaskett Emergency
4. Heaven can wait - Meatloaf
5. The precience of Dawn - The Weakerthans

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Good-bye Burke

So after months of howling for her head, Joan Burke is finally shoved out the door as Education Minister in Newfoundland. And there was much rejoicing, even if her replacement, Darrin King, is filling more than one person with a sense of doom almost equal to seeing Burke remain in the portfolio.

Ross Wiseman remains in Health, which is baffling some, but to me is just a sign that there is great fuck-ups yet to come in Health. Wiseman's going to be hung out there to be the scapegoat to everything that is wrong with Health for some time yet. Why bring in a new guy/woman and have them immediately tarnished as incompetent when you can leave Wiseman there until the crap with the botched cancer tests and the nurses dies down. Then, if there's nothing else evil in the pipelines, you can shift him out of there. Although God only knows who Williams will put in there.

The problem Williams faces is the same one all of his predecessors faced - caucuses are a mile wide but an inch deep when it comes to the talent of being able to run a government department competently and without drama. Health, Education and Finance are the worst, because there isn't a minister of one of those departments in any jurisdiction in Canada that isn't hated, no matter how good they are at the job (and Wiseman and Burke are obviously not good at their jobs). Or, if they're not hated, it's just because they haven't been doing the job long enough yet. Give them more time. It's how it works.

Still, Burke was magnificently incompetent at her job. Yes, congratulations, you managed to suck up to university students by throwing money at them in terms of tuition freezes (in place before she got there) and the elimination of interest on student loans. But when it comes to assisting to make sure MUN is one of the finest post-secondary institutions in Canada, she did quite the bang up job in screwing that up, what with her subtle as a sledgehammer interference with the hiring process of MUN's new president.

And remember, MUN is a place that can manage to screw up its reputation all on its own, without outside assistance. And yet Burke managed to make it worse. That takes talent, to come in and make a bad situation worse, although I'm not sure it's necessarily the kind you want in cabinet.

By the way, has anyone counted the number of cabinet shuffles, adjustments, whatever, since Elizabeth Marshall was turfed and that the premier refuses to readmit her, despite the fact she clearly has more brains than 80 per cent of the current cabinet put together?

If you're all getting tired of me talking about Marshall, imagine how tired I am of her languishing in the backbenches. And ask yourself this question; how different would the entire cancer testing crisis have been if Marshall were still in charge of the department instead of being turfed when she had the gall to be upset when the premier interfered in her department without notifying her first?

Depressing thought, isn't it?

Last Five
1. Landslide (live) - Fleetwood Mac
2. Only the good die young - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
3. No place to fall - The Little Willies
4. Barricade - Stars
5. Alone in the universe - David Usher*

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Going to win

I know I said I was done with curling, but pardon me for this small vent. It comes from a story that was in News North this week about the Dominion Curling Club Championship. As I've mentioned before, I'm on the men's team representing Nunavut at this national event. It's a huge source of pride for me. That we get to represent Nunavut at a national championship is something I take very seriously.

How seriously? Starting when I come back from Easter vacation I'm signing back up with Atii Fitness. I want to get in better shape and drop at least 20 pounds. When you're in the front end of a good curling team, you have to be in good shape because you get called on to sweep a lot. When the ice goes back down in October I plan to be at the rink to get plenty of practice in. We're talking about flying up a professional coach to help teach what we hope is a large number of beginner curlers in the fall. But I also want to work with this coach to improve my delivery so I can play better at this event.

Cathy's has rightly chastized me for being too competitive on stuff. I don't need to come home grumpy because I lost a Wednesday night club game. I'm working on that and I think I've come a long way. But this is something else. It is:
1. A national championship.
2. The biggest sporting event I've ever competed at and may well be the biggest one I'll ever compete at.
3. I'm representing Nunavut.

So yeah, I'm taking this seriously. I'll have fun in Toronto. I'll enjoy the experience, the trip and all the great things we're getting (jackets, shirts, plane tickets, equipment, etc) but I'm taking this seriously. This isn't just a trip to Toronto to go shopping before Christmas and squeeze in a few games on the side. So imagine my insane frustration looking at the paper and reading that "there aren't big things expected for the two rinks..." (Nunavut is sending a men's team and a women's)

Speak for yourself. My goal is for the team to win three games. Is that insane? Unrealistic? I neither know nor care. That's my goal. To go down to Toronto and shock a few teams. To make the opposing skip have to to throw his last rock in every game just to have a chance to beat us.

I am not going to our first national level event in this sport and embarrasing Nunavut by getting creamed in every game. It's not happening.

Yes, I'll behave on and off the ice. Yes, I'll have a good time. And once the games are over I will gladly hang out with the other teams. I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun. But I don't need anyone telling me or other people not to expect much of us. We're going to win games and that's that.

Last Five
1. House of gold - Andy Stochansky
2. Fugue state - The New Pornographers
3. Be right - Spirit of the West
4. Hey Jude - The Beatles
5. Brothers in arms - Dire Straits*

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Monday night TV

There's barely a month left in the regular TV season, which makes me a touch sad because I'm settling into Monday nights quite nicely right now. Chuck continues to be a lot of fun, and last night had two awesome guest starts with Scott Bakula (who is aging quite nicely) and Chevy Chase (who really, really isn't). And there were even Quantum Leap jokes tossed in there. Cathy was bouncing up and down on the couch going "those were the same kind of sunglasses that he wore on Quantum Leap!" Chuck is filled with geek in-jokes, so I'm not doubting her word at all. She's also pleased that she managed to get one of the in-jokes well ahead of me.

But the show is building along quite nicely from something that I had my doubts would last six episodes.

Up until recently we had Jon & Kate Plus Eight at 9 p.m., which was more for Cathy than me, but I hung around and watched because of all the terrible shows on TLC (dear God, that show with the family with 18 kids), this is the least offensive to my sensibilities. But it's wrapped for the year, although there is controversy about whether it will be back.

At 10 pm there's Castle, which is turning into a nice little quirky murder mystery/procedural. Certainly helping is Nathan Fillon. For the record, I now "get" Fillon. There are some men that women have cruses on that I simply don't understand. But I've always understood why some women drooled over Sean Connery. Or why they lust after George Clooney, Viggo Mortensen or Robert Downey Jr. I think I can add Fillon to the list.

Plus, Castle is fun. I like the relationship the character has with his daughter (could pretty easily lose the crazy mom character) and the female cop character is coming along nicely as well. It's still a bit of a silly premise - mystery writer gets to go around with a cop to solve murders - but Fillion has got charming rogue with a heart of gold down pat, and the mysteries aren't completely idiotic.

Neither Chuck nor Castle have been officially picked up for next season, but here's hoping.

And then at 11 pm I watch House on Global, which has been a bit erratic this year, but hit one out of the park last night with the suicide of one of the main characters. Actually, the reason why the actor left the show is pretty cool.

And then that's pretty much it for me for the rest of the week. Fringe is back tonight, which is nice. I've been liking Better Off Ted on Wednesdays, but that has the air of Doomed around it and I expect it to be cancelled soon. And then there's the Amazing Race.

But I don't mind all the good TV being pretty much confined to one evening. Gives me time to go and do things the rest of the week.

Last Five
1. Doesn't anybody hear it - The Novaks
2. Of moons, birds & monsters - MGMT
3. I know I know I know - Tegan & Sara*
4. Working class hero - Green Day
5. A pair of brown eyes - The Pogues

Monday, April 06, 2009

A hint of empathy

I think I'm experiencing the rare emotion of....compassion? And for a politician, of all things. I'm trying to quash it, but it's still lingering a bit.

So there's this story coming out of Newfoundland today about Ed Byrne. Now, he is many things to many people. He was a former leader of the opposition, a former powerful cabinet minister, a potential successor to Premier Danny Williams and still the subject of my all-time favourite political photo.

Note to all public relations is always a bad idea to leave your clients under TV camera lights in a small room with no air conditioning for 45 minutes while waiting for the news broadcast to go live.

Anyway, what Byrne will forever be know for now is his attempt to defraud the people of Newfoundland and Labrador of nearly half a million dollars. He's going to be the very public face of political corruption in the province for years. His public image could eventually be rehabilitated, but I wouldn't want to be the PR professional that gets stuck with that job.

From the sounds of it, he doesn't have many friends left. His old political allies avoid him like he was an especially toxic form of Kryptonite and, from a Globe and Mail story, it sounds like he's estranged from his wife and children.

So, to sum up - probably broke from lawyer's fees and paying back what he stole, reviled by the public, avoided by his former colleagues and possibly has lost his family.

I'm not going to pretend I know or have any special insight into Ed Byrne. I interviewed him probably a dozen times over the years on different things. I thought he was a bit of a pompous ass at time, but that's hardly a unique personality trait for a politician. But I do remember being shocked when I heard what happened. I never would have pegged Byrne for this type of thing. And I can't help but wonder what was going on in his head at that time. There's a book, or at the very least a really good magazine feature to be written about what on Earth he was thinking.

I'm not saying Byrne shouldn't go to jail. I think he probably should. I don't need an opinion poll to know that people want him to go to jail. Hell, I suspect the majority will think he's going to get off too light if he gets the two years less a day sentence the Crown is pushing for. So yes, he deserves punishment.

But somewhere in there, reading all of this and reading about a man who could have had everything, who could have been the next premier of the province and his now reduced to this, it's hard not to feel a touch sorry for the man.

Last Five
1. Runnin' with the devil - Van Halen
2. Bangs - They Might be Giants
3. Suede - Tori Amos
4. The air near my fingers - The White Stripes
5. I can't make you love me - Bonnie Raitt*

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Done for the year

So curling is now done until October, so for those of you going "Oh Christ, not another curling post" every time you came to the blog, you're in the clear for several months.

The weekend didn't go quite as planned. We played well yesterday and got another chance at a spot in the finals. We just needed to win this morning. But we played a bit shaky, has a few bad breaks and lost in an extra end. When we played for third place about an hour later we were just toast. Probably one of the worst games I've played all year.

But I managed to continue my streak of winning something at every bonspiel, this time by winning a sports bag. But since I won one last week, I decided to give it to one of my team mates, who didn't win any of the door prizes and to whom I cockily predicted we would win money, so he should join us. Oooops. Kind of feel bad about that. Also, I should have known better. You don't tempt the wrath of the curling gods.

So with curling out of the way, we're gearing up for the trip to Ottawa this Friday. And not a moment too soon. Cathy and I are getting near the end of our respective ropes and after a long, cold winter, even a week or so in Ottawa is going to feel very, very nice. We're not going anywhere else, which is fine. I suspect between restaurants, some window shopping, movies and just general relaxation, we'll have a fine old time.

Although, and here's a quick question for you folks out there. We're thinking about buying an iPod Touch when we're out. The theory being it would be nice to have a small wifi device for checking the internet when we're in Australia. Or that we could use Google maps with. How many of you have an iPod Touch and do you find them good for internet usage? Also, what size would you recommend? We think the 8 gig would be too small, but I'm not sure.

And yes, I know there are netbooks, but that means using Windows. And I remain firmly convinced that Windows is the work of the devil.

Anyway, thoughts on how good they are and ease of use would be appreciated.

Last Five
1. Shadow of a man - Bedouin Soundclash
2. Hard way to fall - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
3. The real me - The Who
4. True love way - Kings of Leon*
5. Animal girl - Liz Phair

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Voting is open

So, not dead, merely curling....again. I wasn't planning on it, but it's the last bonspiel of the season, I didn't curl as much as I thought I was going to last week, so why the heck not. We lost our first game, but we're trudging back into contention. This bonspiel is called the Furspiel, and its unique in that the players kick in $100 each and pot is split three ways. Half for the winner, 30 per cent for second and 20 per cent for third. There are seven teams, so that's $2,800. So if we win, it's about $350 each, which by the time you count in your fee and bar tab means you might break even.

But we're having fun so far. After winning the Dominion last weekend, this is just a walk in the park. We'd like to win, but honestly, the big win was last weekend.

But in the mean time, if you want to have something to keep you occupied you will notice on the right hand side a list of possible walrus names. Please only vote once and I'll announce the winners on Friday morning. I'm not sure what prize the winner gets, but I'll figure out something. Although if its Clare, I'm holding the hypothetical prize for ransom until I get the hat I won for having the best blog post.

Anyway, happy voting and I'll try and post something longer tomorrow.

Last Five
1. Tried to rock - Lloyd Cole
2. Mr. Richards - REM
3. God give me strength - Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach*
4. Dumb - Nirvana
5. The planets bend between us - Snow Patrol

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Twilight madness

I still haven't read any of the Twilight novel series, nor have I seen the movie. Hell, we rented the movie last weekend and returned it unwatched. Just couldn't find enough time, or motivation, to get around to it.

I strongly suspect the series is not going to be my thing, and yet, I keep feeling inclined to give it a try. I never would have thought the Harry Potter series would be my thing and yet I remembered what happened when, on a lark, I picked up The Philosopher's Stone. I was in Clarenville at the time and was chomping at the bit to rush into St. John's and buy the other three novels.

No, from everything I've read, these books probably won't appeal to me. Cathy, who loves Potter, loves almost anything to do with vampires, is decidedly blah about the first book. I believe her review was "It's not great, but kids love it and it gets them reading, so it's good by me." I understand the logic - I've used similar tactics when describing comic books - but it's not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Plus, two authors who I respect tremendously - Stephen King and Peter David - have trashed the books. And it's not likely they're oblivious to the fact that they're not the target audience. Teenage girls are the main audience and that's fine.

However I think it is a touch offensive that the defence of "it's just for teenage girls, so it's all right that it's crap" is pretty lame. if I had a teenage daughter, I would prefer it if she was reading something well written. According to King and David, the books are not even close.

But here's the thing, and it's the thing that's making me almost tempted to read books that far too many people I respect say are crap, is that many of the fans of the series are deeply crazy. Now, I like to think I have some experience recognizing the deeply crazy aspects of fandom. I like science fiction. I read comic books. My introduction to the internet was reading newsgroups focused on things like the X-Files, Star Trek and X-Men. I've seen and read some deeply crazy stuff by people that would happily burn the internet to the ground to win an argument on who is the better captain of the Enterprise.

But then I stumbled across this message board list of attacks against people who said bad things about the novels. Including people who have suffered broken bones, have been stabbed or shot at with flares. Even one of the stars of the movie has a healthy fear of the fans.

So I almost want to read it now, just to see what it is that inspires that level of craziness. Because although a lot of very knowledgeable people say its crap, there's got to be something there that makes people snap. Perhaps its a code or something subliminal. So we'll see. Maybe this weekend I'll crack open the first book and spend an hour or so reading it (Cathy says its won't take much more time than that) and see what happens.

Feel free to leave a comment to this post. We'll see if in a few days times I reread it, snap and try to skin you with an ulu or something because of my deep love of the book and that you just don't understand!. Then we'll know there's something to those books.

Last Five
1. Gamma ray - Beck
2. Support system - Liz Phair
3. Why do you love me - Garbage
4. Harry Worth - Elvis Costello and the Impostors
5. Girl, you have no faith in medicine - The White Stripes*

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Polling numbers

As I've said, I'll refrain from discussing Nunavut at 10 today. But if you want to see what others are thinking, by all means just type "Nunavut" into a News Google search and read away to your heart's content. Lord knows there are plenty of people out there willing to express their opinion. Although I will offer a caveat...if you live in Nunavut, for the sake of your sanity do not read the comments section to any story. Granted, I think that's wise advise under any circumstances, as the comments section of far too many news stories seem to bring out the ignorant in such droves that I want to pour bleach into my eyes. But I did click on the comments for a Globe and Mail story and instantly regretted it.

However, if you're curious as to what people think of Nunavut, and the north, in more scientific terms, then this bit of polling might be of interest.

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised by how little most people know. I suspect most Nunavummiut have stories about trying to explain to your fellow Canadians where you live and yes, there is such a place. And yes, it makes sense that place that actually boarder on the Northwest Territories or the Yukon would know more about the north than Atlantic Canada. Still, I find my home region's lack of knowledge a touch depressing. Although given the way that poll was done, they probably only interviewed 30 people from Atlantic Canada and seven from Newfoundland and Labrador, so I should take it with a healthy pinch of salt.

Anyway, I hope wherever you are in Nunavut that you have a good day celebrating 10 years. And if you're not up here, then do a bit of reading and learn a bit more about the place. There's a lot more of interest happening up here than most people think.

Last Five
1. Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band*
2. Armagideon (live) - The Clash
3. And your bird can sing - The Beatles
4. Shame for you - Lily Allen
5. Even in the quietest moments - Supertramp