Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ah, spring...

We all celebrate the arrival of spring in different ways. For some of you down south, perhaps it's breaking out shorts or skirts and sitting outside of coffee shops sipping lattes. And then there's how we roll in Iqaluit...

Cathy actually took out the deck furniture last weekend in a fit of optimism and was punished for it by getting about 30 cm of snow this past week. Mother Nature can be a vengeful bitch when she wants to be. I understand that much snow may not seem a lot, but consider two things:

1. This is still an arctic desert. We actually don't get much snow in the run of a year.
2. It's the end of April. Thirty cm of snow sucks at this time of the year no matter which way you cut it.

And it's not like we're entirely out of the woods. I recall there was a blizzard in Iqaluit back in 2004 that hit in May. Guy actually lost his life as he was caught out on the land. Still today it's sunny and beautiful and warm, hovering right around 0C. The bay looks like a speedway with all the snowmobiles zipping back and forth across it.

So yeah, this is nice. In a few weeks it'll be insane mucky and potholes will show up everywhere. But for right now, we're just enjoying the rare combination of sun, snow and warmth.

Last Five
1. Be the one - The Ting Tings
2. Something so strong (live) - Crowded House
3. Through & through & through - Joel Plaskett
4. Four kicks - Kings of Leon
5. Old shoes - Tom Waits*

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A little catch-up

Huh, wow, two and a half weeks. Well, let's do an update here...

1. Florida went pretty well, even though Cathy and I both got nailed with fairly vicious head colds. Nothing like getting sick while on vacation. Mine managed to stay on a low boil for most of the vacation, only getting bad the second last day there. Cathy got hit early and, for extra flavour, managed to couple it with an allergic reaction. So we had no idea what drugs to give her to combat what. And "All the Drugs" is apparently not a good idea as it does weird things, like self-medicated comas, for a start.

As this is our third trip to Florida in as many years, I think I'm getting used to the weirdness. One of my friends asked me what strange stuff I saw down there, and I couldn't think of anything off the top of my head. The weird is the new normal. I mean, giant billboards advertising Emergency Rooms didn't even really register. Or doctors advertising their services for lawsuits. For that matter, the sheer volume of ads for lawyers....none of it really registers as weird anymore. The Wagon Wheel flea market was actually boring. The $1.50 pineapples didn't make me break down and start crying as they did in previous years.

Even belly dancers with fire doesn't really startle me anymore.

Or bunnies on the beach.

That bunny was actually on the beach right before Easter Sunday. Taking a break before the big day, I guess.

So yes, Florida is now kind of boring. Which means it's probably time for a change, but we'll see. We like going some place warm over Easter, but doing an all-inclusive is a bit of a waste of time when you don't drink, for example. And Florida is still quite cheap. But we have a year to figure things out.

Is it wrong, by the way, that I know most of the vacations we're going to take over the next four years?

2. There was some mild panic over whether or not Republic of Doyle coming back or not earlier this month. I confess I had mixed feelings. I've obviously been frustrated with the show, but was I frustrated enough to wish people out of jobs? Not really. I wish they would hire a proper script doctor to fix they many faults in the writing.

But despite the panic, there was never any real risk. It's still one of the CBC's highest rated shows. Also, and I'm sure they knew this when the decision was being made, the Newfoundland government kicked in something like $3 million to help with the cost of producing the show. I assume that doesn't count all of the tourism ads they put on during the show as well.

3. We're entering one of my favourite times in Iqaluit. The temperature is warm enough (around -10C) that you can put away the big winter coats and wear much lighter jackets. We can also crack open a window to let some fresh air circulate into the house. I understand that sounds insane for those of you down south as -10C is still too cold. But after a winter of -40C, well, the extra 30 degrees feels positively balmy.

But it's other's warm enough to spend more time outdoors. The light at this time of the year, shining on the snow and the ice on the bay, is stunning. I'll try and get out and take some photos this weekend. It's nice to sit in the living room at the end of the day and watching snowmobiles going back and forth across the bay.

It's all on an edge, of course. In a few weeks time the daylight will go from nice to a little too much, when it will essentially give up being dark for the next few months, which leads to an increase in the craziness. The snow will start to melt, so there will be muck and potholes everywhere.

But for right now, it's nice.

4. Blogger has switched to a new format. Which I hate. So we'll see how this post works out...

Last Five
1. Cold desert - Kings of Leon
2. Never give up - Ron Sexsmith
3. I'm yours - Joel Plaskett Emergency
4. Breakdown into the resolve - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
5. Here comes the rain again - Eurythmics*

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Where the weird end up...

I guess before I get too deeply into this blog post I should mention something about the last Republic of Doyle....which is that it was that stupid that I think I finally might give up on the show. If the whole plot about accidentally robbing $2 million in gold bars didn't give you a brain cramp with it's overwhelming stupidity, then I have nothing for you. At all. It was dumbass from start to finish.

Also, and I know this is purely me, the last song they played before the credits rolled, really annoyed me. I like the idea that they're apparently going to end each season with a Ron Hynes slong, but "Atlantic Blue" is as close to a sacred Newfoundland song as there is. For those whoe don't know the history, it was written as almost a hymn for the men who lost their lives in the Ocean Ranger disaster 30 years ago. So yes, let's use a 15 second clip of it over a closing montage showing Des bleeding from a gunshot wound.

Gah. It just really annoyed me. It's a beautiful, beautiful song and you're going to waste it on this? Someone deserves a boot to the head. Seriously.

Anyway, as we clearly needed to recover from the mental damage the show inflicted, Cathy and I find outselves in warming climes. Yes, it's our annual (well, third year) pilgrimage to the land of the crazy....Florida. As a percautionary measure, we've left our hoodies at home.

Florida is always guaratneed to produce a steady stream of weird moments. Yesterday was my quest to get a hair cut...because as nice as my guy in Iqaluit is, we're looking at 30+ dollars there, versus $12 here. Which is why I was looking like bozo the clown the last week or so. But my usual marginally racist barber was closed unilt Monday, so I was left scrambling. Finally found a place that was open, walked in and discovered that, including me, there were exactly two white people out of the 20 or so people in there.

Still, excellent hair cut. Seriously, one of the best I've had in years. I mean, the guy spent 20 minutes on my hair. If you've seen how much I have left, you understand that you have to work to spend that much time on my hair. But man, they were thorough. Hell, there was a guy there who got in the chair next to me 20 minutes before I did and was still there when my cut was finished. If I had run into him on the street, I wouldn't have said he needed a cut to begin with. But they were seriously good barbers. Next time I'm back here, I'm hunting them down again.

Last night we did a walk down the beach and back (in lieu of my gym workouts, I'll be walking the beach at least twice a day) and came across a woman with a bunny (the easter bunny?) who were watching a pair of belly dancers playing with fire...literally. One had a hula hoop of fire, the other was doing something with a sword. I have pics to prove I haven't been drinking, but don't have an adapter to transfer them to the iPad. Not yet anyway. Maybe later this week.

Today was just the redneck flea market of the damned. Except I'm apparently getting blaise about it's charms. We burned through it in less than two hours this time. It seemed less interesting this time, although the price of food ($1.50 for a pineapple) still made me weep.

This evening is a buffet (a good one, apparently, as it costs more than $6 per person) and tomorrow is our Restocking of the Wardrobes, as we hit an outlet mall and drop an appalling amount of money in a few hours so we don't have to buy clothes for the rest of the year. Cathy's mom isn't coming this year. I think we scarred her for life last year.

More updates as more weirdness happens.

Last Five
1. Everybody knows (live) - Leonard Cohen
2. Magpie to the morning - Neko Case*
3. Gone tomorrow - The Monday Nights
4. Buzz Fledderjohn - Tom Waits
5. The loneliness - Fightened Rabbits

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Curling finale

No Doyle this week. Between the gym and a few things that needed doing around the house after I got back from the gym, it was about 10:20 before I sat down. I think this week is the season finale, so I'll try and make time to sit down and watch it.

As for other things happening, curling season wrapped up for me this week. If I haven't spoken about curling quite as much as I usually do it's because I found this season a bit frustrating. I just wasn't playing well and it wasn', although I'm not sure why as the guys on my team are pretty cool. My third, a nice guy named Jeremy, joked during our final game last night that I never listen to his advice. My response is that in previous years my Third has been a cute woman and I'm apparently more receptive to their advice.

(There are many women I should apologize to for that last remark, but let's start with Cathy, and then move on to Stephanie and Ashley, who were my Thirds in recent years.)

I suspect many people would wonder why I was so frustrated. We didn't win our Tuesday League night, but we did win the B final that night, which was nice. We curled in the Canadian North Bonspiel last night (no plane ticket again, alas) and won the B Final in that event. Apparently, it's been a B kind of week.

The weekend was actually a lot of fun. It was only a three person team due to various weirdness. After losing an annoying game on Friday night (two of my final stones picked up debris and did weird thing. Cost me six points), we won Saturday morning, a nice strategic battle in the afternoon to get to the final and then an epic one in the final. We were the last teams on the ice, all I had to do with my last shot was make a take out to win...which I missed, of course. So now we're tied, it's 10 p.m. everyone else is eating and they're trying to convince us to go to an extra end.

We deferred, as we were all exhausted. Instead, we did a fun little bit of mental torture called skip stones. Basically each skip throws one rock, closest to the button wins. No pressure. The other skip went first and put his rock in the eight foot (the white rings, for those of you who watch curling on TV). I threw mine and put it on the button. It must be said, there is something nice about doing a pressure shot like that and making it, and then looking up and seeing people applauding (everyone was watching) and pounding on the glass.

I threw the last rock, in the last game of the season to win a final. I like that.

But I'm not sure it cancels out everything in the weeks before. As I said, I was frustrated a lot, my patience was thinner that it has been in years. My broom went flying a few times when I was frustrated, which I haven't done in about five years. That's not acceptable.

So I figure one of three things will happen.
1. Business as usual. I'll go back next season and do it all over again. The odds of that are marginally better after this week. And not just because of the wins. I notice my delivery is better as I've been losing some weight.

2. I'll put my name out there and if some team wants to recruit me, I'll curl with them on the condition I'm not the skip. I'll shoot Third stone or something.

3. Take a year, possibly more, off.

We'll see. I'm leaning towards #3, but that might change come September. Maybe the itch will be back.

But for now, time to hang up the curling shoes. I'll also have to see if I'm going to add Tuesday nights to the gym schedule. I've been going five nights a week, except Tuesday (curling) and Friday (recovery). Not sure I want to do six days a week at the gym, but I'll make my decision after Easter.

Last Five
1. Ribbons undone (live) - Tori Amos
2. The letter - Mark Bragg
3. Your heart is an empty room - Death Cab for Cutie*
4. Girls like you - The Naked and Famous
5. Tiger Lily - Ron Hynes