Saturday, September 28, 2013

Waiting for the mail...

When you only have so many lifelines out of the north, when one of those goes through a major disruption people get very surly, very fast.

For example, about two years ago the satellite that provides most of the communications for Nunavut went down. It was very much like Nunavut got thrown back 50 year just like that. Internet, phones, television, banking….all were rendered useless. Hell, the airport went down for a day or so. People were deeply freaking out. It’s one of the reasons why there’s such a push for a fibre optic cable for Nunavut. Yes, it could still break, but at least it gives the territory more than one communications option than a finicky satellite.

The latest disruption is coming from Canada Post. Understand, the people of Nunavut and Canada Post have always had a…touchy relationship. There’s the belief, not exactly unjustified, that we pay way too much for a massively inferior postal service. This tends to ebb and flow, with the high points coming right before Christmas, when people are freaking out waiting for their gifts to arrive.

However, Canada Post is managing the rare trick of really pissing off people in Nunavut during one of the down seasons. The service to the north since about mid-summer has been awful. It’s taking weeks for things to get here. And what with the advent of online tracking, it’s no problem for people here to spot where the problem is – Montreal.

Seriously, depending on where it’s sent from, your package will normally make a speedy trip across the country, or around the world in some cases, hit Montreal and then stop. My favourite one for me personally was when I ordered some toys from China this summer. They made it from Hong Kong to Montreal faster than Montreal to Iqaluit. And not by a small margin either.

My Twitter feed is being lit up, daily, by people losing their minds wondering why one of their packages has been sitting in Montreal for weeks. And it is Montreal. One of the nice things about a small town is you generally have an idea of what’s going on. And let’s just say the local post office is quietly letting it be known that it’s not their fault there are so many delays. Not that it's always helpful to them. I understand there was a racket at the post office on Friday. A combination of a long line (about 15 people or so), only one person on the counter, and lack of mail caused some people to start yelling at staff. So things are reaching a boiling point.

There are some days you can tell that Montreal apparently decided to free up a bunch of Amazon orders because every second person is coming out of the post office with one of their boxes.

Now, there’s speculation that this drug bust might have slowed things down. The usual geniuses involved in the local dope trade were receiving ExpressPost envelopes filled with dope from dealers in Montreal. From my brief time working with the local Canada Post, I kid you not when I say we’re not dealing with rocket scientists. You could smell some of these bags from 20 feet away. Some were doing nothing to try and disguise the smell.

It’s times like this when I’m against legalization simply because I want an easy way to locate and remove the terminally stupid from society. This seems like a fairly easy method of doing so.

With this drug bust everyone is hoping the logjam breaks up and people can finally start getting their mail at the slow crawl we’ve all come to expect, as opposed to Canada Post basically forsaking us. I really hope so because when people don’t get their mail, man, tempers and nerves get frayed quickly. If it’s taking a month for an ExpressPost package to make it here during a slow season, I’m going to have to start ordering Cathy’s Christmas gifts three weeks ago in the hopes they might make it in time.

Look, I know Canada Post has bigger worries going on, what with them on pace to lose hundreds of millions this year. But their service in the north is an ongoing thing. There seems to be a real disconnect between Montreal and Iqaluit and it’s something that needs to be addressed. If the regional manager (who is often based down south) can’t do something about it, then perhaps it’s time for Canada Post’s president to make a trip to the north so he can understand what a vital lifeline the mail is for people and what these disruptions in service mean to people. It genuinely does weird things to people’s mental health. It can impact the economy. They need to explain why it takes weeks for packages to get from Montreal to Iqaluit and what they’re going to improve it.

There’s an election in Nunavut right now. I wonder if a clever candidate will make that an election issue…

Last Five
1. Greenland whale fisheries - The Pogues
2. Jealous of your cigarette - Hawksley Workman
3. Big parade - The Lumineers
4. Skinwalker - Robbie Robertson
5. Old man (live) - Neil Young

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The new geeks

So here’s a thing…I love female geeks. This isn’t the kind of love that my wife should be jealous of, by the way. It’s just…I’ve been a geek for as long as I can remember and for most of those decades it has been a big ol’ sausage party. The first comic book store I ever went to was called the Escape Hatch when I was around eight years old. I loved that place. And then the owner decided that comics weren’t bringing in enough business so he added a second floor that sold porn.

Suddenly, my parents became much less enamoured with the idea of me going there. And then the owner decided that the porn was selling better than the comics and did away with them on the ground floor. So that was that. The place eventually burning to the ground kinda of sealed the deal.

But women in geekdom was like spotting unicorns. And sadly there tended to be one of two reactions. The first was to get huffy that this…girl was intruding on your hobby. The other, and I fell into this camp, was so tongue tied that it must have made the whole comics thing look like it was inhabited by the marginally braindead.

(My ineptness with trying to date women is long known, and was a great source of amusement to my friends. I had a small group of conspirators who plotted for, literally, three years to bring Cathy and I together. They wouldn’t do it any sooner because she was seeing someone and they were absolutely convinced I would find a way to fuck it up. They were not wrong in this assessment.)

And look, collecting when it’s just guys is fun and all, but it would have been nice to have had a few women around. It started changing, slowly, around the late 80s. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman has been widely attributed to this, although you can make the argument that Chris Claremont's X-Men also played a role. But it’s progressed in fits and starts since then. I was probably na├»ve enough to assume that because more women were reading comics with Sandman, that meant good things. That male fans would think it was cool, like I did, and that the industry would do more to try and lure in more female readers.

This is where women geeks start to laugh their ass off. The industry and geekdom has been far from welcoming to women. There are horror stories of sexual harassment and abuse. Ask Colleen Doran what it was like being a young woman in the 90s trying to break into comics. Ask Valerie D'Ozario, who edited comics at Acclaim and DC last decade, what she went through. Her biography, Goodbye to Comics, is an eye-opener. There are endless stories of the major publishers not caring to target books towards women, even though they showed real interest, because why make the effort. For example, how the hell does DC not have all-ages books with Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl? Do you know how much merchandise those characters sell and you can't market an all-ages book about them? Dean Trippe pitched a Lois Lane: Girl Reporter book a few years ago featuring an 11-year-old Lois Lane breaking news stories. I would have bought that book, the pitch was that good. It's like they don't want to make money.

I’d like to say that it’s over with, but it’s not. You still hear horror stories going on. You still hear creators and publishers take staggeringly tone deaf attitudes towards women. DC managed to do that recently, with a pair of deeply respected creators quitting fan favourite Batwoman over editorial interference and a botched fan art tryout on Harley Quinn.

You hear of male geeks giving shit to women calling them “fake geek girls” or openly harassing cosplayers at comic cons.

But I don’t say this to make it sound like things are desperate and never going to change (and, as an aside, at least comics are better than the video game industry. Holy fuck but that’s a misogynistic gong show. You seriously have to love video games to take a tenth of that shit). What I absolutely love is the attitude of many female geeks….which is “fuck you, we love this stuff, and you’re not getting rid of us that easy.” And I swear, because they have to work harder at this, and put with more crap, they love it more and harder and are more articulate about their passion than a lot of male geeks I know. You find this scattered all over Twitter, Tumblr (In particular the brilliant DC Women Kicking Ass) and websites like The Mary Sue. Most of the absolute best comic book and pop culture criticism being written right now are by women.

Plus, you're seeing a lot more female comic book creators. Gail Simone (Batgirl, Red Sonya, The Movement, and the upcoming Tomb Raider) felt like she was very much alone in mainstream comics for awhile now. But there are others making their mark. Kelly Sue DeConnick who is doing Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble and the upcoming western/horror Pretty Deadly. Amy Reeder has Rocket Girl. Faith Erin Hicks (who lives in Nova Scotia) has a bunch of graphic novels, including What Could Possibly Go Wrong, Superhero Girl, The War at Ellesmere and others. Fiona Staples draws Saga which is the most critically acclaimed comic being published right now. There’s Katie Cook, who does My Little Pony, which is not a comic I collect or am interested in, but I love her art and the series is beloved by fans of the cartoon.

And there’s also Marjorie Liu, Becky Cloonan, Nicola Scott, Agnes Garbowska, Ming Doyle, Amanda Conner, Stephanie Buscema, Amy Mebberson, Colleen Coover and a lot more. Actually, I'm looking at the original artwork I have on my wall and half of it is by women artists.

There’s a conversation taking place. There are more women going to comic cons and less willing to take crap. They love comics, just want to have fun and want to interact. You get fans that with the right book, the themes really mean something to them and has a powerful effect on them. I’m not sure there is a creator who loves her fans more, and who goes out of her way more to be supportive, than Simone. And you can tell from her Tumblr and Twitter just how much women geeks love her work, and love what she's writing about. Which is not just strong women characters, but also minorities, GLBQ characters, transgender characters and more. They're not just a cool story with beautiful artwork. There's more to it than just that.

When I was in New York last year I’d say at least 40 per cent of those attending were women. And they were having a blast. They also want their woman superhero movie now, by the way. And fair enough. If Guardians of the Galaxy are getting a movie next year, then it’s insane that there’s no Wonder Woman movie yet. Or a Captain Marvel movie. Or Black Widow. And don’t give me Elektra and Halle Berry's Catwoman bombed. They were awful movies. Green Lantern bombed because it was just as bad and they went ahead and made Captain America and Thor. They’re also still giving Ryan Reynolds fresh chances to make more bad movies.

And look, not all males in the industry are assholes about it. Most aren’t. Some are wonderfully supportive. It’s just the dicks that get the attention, sadly. There are no negatives for more women getting involved in comics, either as fans or creators. Only positives. The geekiness will be cooler. The product will be better. It'll just be a lot more fun.

I, for one, welcome our new geek overlords. Bring 'em on...

Last Five
1. Mama - Genesis
2. Now I know - Cowboy Junkies
3. Kiss with a fist - Florence and the Machine*
4. Lady Dada's nightmare - MGMT
5. Magazines - The Hold Steady

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Amazing Race Canada thoughts

And so ends the Amazing Race Canada. I’ve see-sawed back and forth on the show right from the very moment I heard it first announced. When I found out Canada was finally getting a race, I was all set to wrangle someone into forming a team with me. Not Cathy, however, as we have long understood we would end up divorced at the end of the race. But then I found out the race was only going to happen within Canada. So that killed that idea. I made more than one joke about the race going to scenic Moose Jaw….woohoo. I wanted to travel around the world, not the country.

Still I tuned in for the first episode and stuck around to the end. I should have done a weekly review like I did with Doyle, but just wasn’t in the mood, especially after the very flat first episode. But it got better, despite some ups and downs. And while I mocked Saskatchewan, I actually thought that episode was one of the better ones. If I had to sum up the first season, I would call it about an average season of the US version of the Race. Which might seem damning with faint praise, but considering how awful this could have been, I think it’s high praise. They did some things right, some things really bad, but there’s room for improvement should they decide to do round 2.

What they did right:

1. Jon Montgomery as the host. I had my doubts during the first episode where he looked nervous and was reading very flat. But man, did he ever improve by leaps and bounds as the season went along. He loosened up, looked like he was having way more fun than most of the contestants and grew into the host role really well. He’s no Phil, but we’ve had years to get used to Phil. Jon should be happy with how he did this season.

2. The Teams. They never had a true villain team. Oh sure, the doctors showed some hints of it, but they never truly got into it other than moving around some maps. And they whined more than they were evil. But the teams had personality, even Jet and Dave, who kind of overwhelmed at times, but were always fun. You needed teams to cheer for, and with at least five teams with lots of personality and character, you were certainly lured into having your favourites to cheer for.

3. The production values. At no point did the show really look cheap, which is what I was expecting. The camerawork was solid, they did a nice job of showing off the country.

4. Canada. Don’t get me wrong, I think the whole joy of the US version of the show is watching the contestants try to figure out deeply foreign cultures and, in some cases, get mocked by locals by how clueless they are. That never really happened here, with the exception of a few minutes in Quebec City. But they managed to show off the country and I thought the Nunavut section of the race was particularly well done. It could have been awful, but it looked beautiful and gave a nice, brief taste of Nunavut culture.

What they got half-right:

1. The challenges. This is an Amazing Race standard, thought. You get some truly mind-blowing ones. As I have reiterated many times to friends, two of the hardest times I have laughed in the last 10 years was watching contestants try to run down a hill with 25 pounds wheels of Swiss cheese on their back while locals drank beer and cracked up. Only nearly matched by the sight of a former NFL player losing his shit while coaching a rabbit through an obstacle course. But then you get some that are dreadfully boring.

There were no transcendental moments like that this season, but some of the challenges were quite good. The getting your room squared in Regina was good, as was the football challenge. The challenges in Nunavut were great. Then you get ones, like last night, where you’re opening chocolate bars for two hours and that’s worth spending 10 minutes of TV time on. Dear God.

2. The sponsorships. Shitting on the Amazing Race for sponsorships is ridiculous, considering Expedia is all over the US one. But I didn’t mind Interact Flash. Even Blackberry was only mildly annoying (the fact the new ones don’t work in Nunavut was amusing). But God Air Canada was annoying. To the point they actually messed up parts of the race (more on that in a moment). I understand they were a huge sponsor and the race probably wouldn’t have happened without them. But that I was hitting mute pretty much any time they went on screen says something about how aggravating the ads - during the show and breaks – were.

What was bad:

1. Bottlenecking. Here’s the problem with the race in Canada, and Air Canada. There are only so many places you can go, with only so many flights. And when you’re limited to only flying one airline – except for their hilarious covering up for using First Air to get into and out of Nunavut – you’re constantly going to have bottlenecks where all the teams even out. Other than getting a cool prize, there was rarely any benefit to winning a leg, because odds are everyone would catch up with you in the next leg very quickly. It would be nice if they were able to use WestJet or Porter or whatever. Or even flying into the U.S. for a few legs or something. They need to work on decreasing the bottlenecks next season.

2. The ending. Again, Amazing Race has the bad habit of not nailing the landing, but wow, this was just awful. From the smarmy “look how awesome we are bumping all these people up to first class”, to the absolutely ridiculous chocolate bar challenge (seriously, how much did Cadbury pay for that ad placement and that was the most entertaining thing they could think to do in a chocolate factory?) to having contestants wander around a zoo, it was a deeply boring ending to the show. Yes, they went down a half-constructed sky-scraper, but they all went down at the same time, so the drama there was minimal.

Also, for every person in Toronto you pleased by having the finale there, you probably annoyed three others. Here’s hoping next season ends somewhere else. I think ending it in BC or Newfoundland would have made more sense, rather than the “centre of the universe”, but that’s me.

So not a first go of it and they’re going to be doing a second season. I would hope there are things they have learned from this one and can do better with next time. I think they should up the ante on some of the challenges, work on not creating so many bottlenecks and maybe find a team that’s not quite so…Canadian. You know, really mean or something.

Let’s put it this way, I blew off the idea of putting an entry in for this race. I kinda regret that now. But I might see if I can find a willing sucker…er, friend to join with me in entering the next race. We’ll see…

Last Five
1. The sound of silence (live) - Paul Simon
2. A better son-daughter - Rilo Kiley
3. The broad majestic Shannon - The Pogues*
4. Modern love - David Bowie*
5. It's a hard life - Queen

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sealifting

(I actually wrote this a few weeks ago, but got lazy about the editing and slotting in the photos. But here it is now, in case anyone is interested in sealifts.)

We’ve just wrapped up our annual sealift, which is something that always fascinates people who don’t live in the north. I’m sure I’ve written about it before, but for those who don’t want to go digging through the archives, here’s basically happens with our sealift. Your mileage may vary.

The first couple of years we lived up here we did our sealift through NorthMart. There are pros and cons to that. The major pro is that it is pretty simple. You order your stuff online or through a catalogue and then a few months later there is a knock on the door and a couple of guys start dragging stuff into your house. The downside is that you can only order what NorthMart brings in, which can be limited.

So a few years ago we decided to go and do our own. It’s normally in conjunction with our summer vacation, so we’re not making a special trip out to do it. Plus, we’ve gotten quite good at our plan of attack. We can do a sealift in two days, no problem. We could probably do it in a day if we had to. Basically, we go to Ottawa, go to TSC (The Shipping Company), let them know we’re starting our sealift, and then hit the following stores in this order: Costco, Wal-Mart, Loblaws, Canadian Tire/Home Depot, Ikea. Sometimes there are specialty stops, like at a bedding company last year when we needed a new box spring and mattress. Next year there might be a furniture store if we decide to get a new living room set (recommendations for good places to buy sofas in Ottawa are welcome).

We then drag most of this stuff back to TSC, put it in a crate and wave good-bye to it. There are exceptions, of course. If it’s really big sometimes we’ll get it delivered there (like the mattress last year). After an incident with Costco a few years ago we no longer ask TSC to do pick-ups. About $800 worth of stuff went missing and neither Costco nor TSC admitted the screw-up (pretty sure it was Costco), so we were out the money.

The crate has arrived, although they put it in the wrong spot  
TSC then packages it up, puts it in a crate, seal it up and then ships it to Montreal. From there it gets put on a boat and then eventually it arrives in Iqaluit.

We finished our sealift on June 26 this year. The crate arrived on August 19. So a little less than two months. Which is actually quite good. We’ve waited the better part of four months for it sometimes, depending on when we order and delays with the boats.

Fort Knox is probably easier to get into.
Opening a sealift is like having the most frustrating Christmas morning ever. First of all, TSC puts enough nails in the crate to ensure that you’re seriously considering dynamite at some point during the process of trying to open it. You know there is cool stuff in there, you just can’t get at it. And there’s always stuff that you forgot you bought or wondering why the hell you bought it in the first place. No matter how organized you are, you’re still buying a year’s worth of goods and dropping thousands of dollars in a short period of time. Higher brain function melts away at some point during the process.

After 90 minutes, progress has been made.
Once you finally crack it open you then have to drag it all into the house. Normally two people can make short work of it. And this year’s sealift was relatively small for us. Except the crate arrived days before Cathy came back from Newfoundland. Yes, I could have left it until she returned, but I find leaving thousands of dollars of goods unattended in front of your house is never a good idea. While we don’t order booze in our sealift, many others do. It’s a tempting target to many.

So anyway, I had to unload it myself. And on the day that the mosquitoes decided to make it their last hurrah for the year. I highly recommend the experience. But I did get it all in the house.

And here it is, waiting to be put away.
Now you’re faced with the challenge of where to put all of this stuff. It’s not so bad for us now. We have a house and a decent sized sealift room. When we were living in apartments it could be interesting. There’s the story of a guy who ordered so much beer on his sealift he couldn’t store it in his tiny sealift room. Instead, he used it as flooring and, over the course of the year, drank his way out.

Still, storage is Cathy’s thing (Cathy arrived on Thursday and began lamenting how cluttered the house is looking even without the sealift mess. I just sighed. I think it looks fine). I put some of it away and then cleared a space in the hallway to be able to walk through. She put the rest of it away.

So there you go. Another year’s sealift over and done with.

Last Five
1. Travelin' on - Norah Jones
2. Hum Hallelujah - Fall Out Boy
3. Get some - Lykke Li
4. Live it out - Metric*
5. Times like these - Foo Fighters

Saturday, September 14, 2013

On Gen Y, social media, municipal politics and getting off your goddamn ass


So I had one of those “Gah, but you… Gah!” moments the other day when I went to the Newfoundland CBC website and found an op-ed piece by Candice Walsh chastising candidates for not doing enough to reach out and get Generation Y age voters to participate in the election. You can read her piece here. It caused one of those spikes in blood pressure that two years ago I would have been concerned might give me a stroke.

One more advantage to weight loss…much less likely to die from reading op-ed pieces. Stroking out after reading something from Margaret Wente would be a profoundly stupid way to go. I would write about her “oh, rape isn’t really a big deal on campus” piece, but I think I would actually explode if I seriously let myself get started.

So anyway, voter engagement. Look, I’m a huge believer in the importance of voting. I believe you should be fined if you don’t vote. This is a step towards moderation from my original plan of going door to door with a taser and asking people if they’ve voted.

I think the voting age should be dropped to 16. I believe that the tobacco, coffee, soft drink figured something out that most politicians never have…get them hooked when they’re young. I was thrilled when I discovered the voting age for elections with my previous employer was 16. I was developing grand plans to really target kids to go and vote. Make it a big deal. That they can do something 16 year olds down south can’t do.

Get them started early, and make them realize why it’s so vital to inform yourself on the issues and to get out and vote. In that regard, I think generations of Canadians have a legitimate beef with that part of their education. For that matter, I want a You’ll Actually Need This class, where they teach you how to use credit cards, how to budget, how to write a resume and do a job interview. Throw the importance of voting in there.

Anyway, the op-ed complains that candidates are not doing enough to reach out to people in their 20s, who are not at apathetic and disengaged. They want to care, but people are not doing enough to reach out to them and the quality of candidates is lacking.

OK…

First of all, it’s your job to care about the damn election. Yes, a smart candidate should be reaching out to voters on multiple platforms and not just plastering those ugly goddamn signs all over the city. However, those signs reach older people, who apparently have managed to figure out the importance of voting in municipal elections. But if they’re not reaching out to you on Twitter or Facebook, it’s because they probably view it as a waste of limited resources (resources are not just money, they're also time. And you need time to do a proper social media strategy. Ask people who think it's a cheap and easy thing to do and how that works out for them) because they don’t think you’re going to go out to vote anyway.

Democracy isn’t something you’re spoon fed when you’re sitting in your high chair, folks. There is some work to this. If you’ve got ideas, then you can’t wait until someone comes courting you over social media. You either have to run, support someone who is running, or find someone who you can convince that these issues are damn important and require serious consideration.

We have a territorial election here next month. I can't wait to start asking my questions.

I don’t know why people view municipal elections as less important than federal or provincial ones. They’re not. That ugly damn fence down by the waterfront that everyone complains about? That’s your city councilors at work, right there. Or preserving downtown? Or the quality of city services. Almost pulped walking to university because the sidewalks aren’t cleared? Yeah, there might be a solution to that. Municipal politics is day-to-day, ground-level stuff. It's not flashy, but never doubt its importance.

It’s funny, as I was writing this I was scrolling through Twitter. I follow a brilliant New York artist named Molly Crabapple, who turned 30 on Friday. She was talking to a friend and reminiscing about being young, stupid and fighting for every bloody inch.

I don’t mind being young and stupid. I was young and stupid. I wish at least once a day I knew then what I know now. I know my parents were young and stupid just by measuring the distance between their wedding and my birthday. But I love the line about fighting for every bloody inch. Because if you’re whining in an op-ed about people not doing enough to reach out to you in an election, instead of reaching out and taking every bloody inch from them on issues that are important to you, then don’t expect a lot of sympathy when they get elected and steamroll you…again.

Last Five
1. Run - Vampire Weekend*
2. The mason's apron - The Chieftains
3. Always look on the bight side of life - Spamalot (OCR)
4. Every in ambition - The Trews
5. Jacob's ladder - Bruce Springsteen

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Curling once more...

To today is Mass Registration Day in Iqaluit. I'm absolutely certain I've written about it before, but for those not willing to dig through the archives, it's simply this: If you're a club, society, or whatever in Iqaluit, today's the day you sit at table and try to convince people that you're cool and they should join you. There are dozens of groups, everything from the Humane Society, to the Scouts, to different martial arts groups, etc.

It's actually a pretty cool event. I've gone each year looking for something interesting to join. I rarely do, however. Because of the activity/health kick I'm on these days, I want something physically active to do. But most of the activity groups in town don't really interest me. Badminton, broomball, karate, etc...don't really do it for me. I'm not sure what would, but nothing grabbed my attention.

Which meant I went to my old fallback...curling.

I've been getting a bit frustrated with curling the last couple of years and keep grumbling that this year was the year I was going to break from it. Last season was particularly maddening in that we were knocked from the playoffs when half the team didn't show up. I'm just arrogant enough when it comes to curling that I'm convinced I could go out there by myself and one other person and beat most teams in town. That's not a completely justified arrogance, by the way. There are plenty of good curlers around who could whip me, no problem But I just want to get out there and play, and having that not happen....well, I was in a pretty foul mood. Forfeiting is a deeply shitty way to end the season.

And curling should be fun. I should be getting a kick out of it, enjoying the strategy and the skill and the rare sport that I can profess some ability at. Cathy has been gently suggesting that maybe I should take some time away from it.

But I want to be doing something and going to the gym five days a week isn't an option as I can only spend so much time on an elliptical before my sanity starts to fray. So we'll see how it goes. I've already said I either want to be on a serious Dominion team or put together a pretty rock solid rec league team. I've already had two people express an interest in the rec team, so maybe that's what happen. Time will tell.

However, if you're in town and a brilliant curler, by all means, give me a shout. The Dominion is in Halifax next year and I'd like to go. It'd be nice to go to a national curling event so close to my family and friends. Maybe I could persuade a few to come on up and see me play.

Last Five
1. Old Dan Tucker - Bruce Springsteen
2. To wild homes - The New Pornographers
3. She loves you - The Gaslight Anthem
4. Learned you name - Frightened Rabbit
5. Navigator - The Pogues*

Monday, September 02, 2013

Eight years

I've actually had this post sitting in the queue for about a week or so, just been too lazy to edit and publish it, which has to be a record for sloth. Anyway, some thoughts on the 8th anniversary of out time in Iqaluit....

So August 24th marks, as best as I can recall, the eight year anniversary to the day we first set foot in Iqaluit. Now, Cathy had a year in Rankin Inlet before moving here and she also had spent a few days here as part of a teacher conference, so it wasn’t a shock to her. But it was our first time here together and it wasn’t for a visit, it was to come here to live and work.

I believe my reaction, after leaving the airport was “oh my fucking God, what have you gotten us into, Cathy?” I have seen many other people have similar reactions when they first arrive in Iqaluit, so I’m glad I’m not the only one to have ever had that reaction.

Nunavut can be like that to people when you first arrive. You can be good and do your research, talk to people, read articles and look at photos. But if you’re moving here, nothing really prepares you for that first shock of stepping foot into the place. There’s more than one story of people getting off a plane, taking a look around and going “nope” and getting the next flight back south.

Then again, there are also lots of people who come here for a three month contract and have been here for 20 years. It all depends. As I have cautioned many people who have emailed me over the years. It’s not for everybody, but if it turns out it is for you, it’s a fantastic place.

We came to Iqaluit on a five year plan and we’re going into year nine of that plan right now with no end in sight. Are there things that drive me nuts about Iqaluit? Oh God, yes. I could rattle of an extensive list of things, from the crap internet to the lack of basic stuff you take for granted down south. My latest one? I can’t paint the deck of our house. There are two hardware stores in town. One doesn’t carry deck paint and the other is going bankrupt so they didn’t bother to bring in any new paint supplies. And we forgot to get paint during our sealift. That means we have to wait to paint the deck until next summer.

Or how about the airlines putting up a “seat sale” recently. Iqaluit to Ottawa for only $1,600. That frustrated me enough that I took to Twitter and begged WestJet to start flying here. They responded we’re on their wish list, so one can only hope.

And that list can go on and on.  But here’s the thing, that can be said of any place you live. If we were still in St. John’s I would be complaining about that damn stupid harbor fence, bayman drivers, Stavanger Drive and a desperate and doomed provincial government on its last gasp. I lived in Clarenville for three years, a place about the size of Iqaluit, and I complained about the lack of book store, crap drivers and that the mayor was obviously crazy.

You will always find things to complain about in any place you choose to live. And you won’t have to search hard for it either.

Yet, there is plenty to love about the place. Iqaluit is honestly beautiful during the winter. Even with the population growth in town, there’s a nice sense of community here. I get to experience a unique culture and language without leaving Canada. When we move away (I’m not living here in my retirement, sorry) I genuinely will miss the view of Frobisher Bay from my living room window. It's the best view I've ever had of any place I've lived, and I used to have a view of the Narrows when I lived in downtown St. John's.

We do miss our family and friends. Cathy will testify that I was pretty depressed for a couple of weeks after a wedding in Kingston this summer with most of my closest friends in attendance. There is something that gets to me knowing it can be years in-between seeing some of these people. But if we ask ourselves if we would have been any better off eight years ago if he had decided to stay in St. John’s rather than come here, I don’t think we would be. Not even remotely.

So here's to eight years (nine for Cathy) in Nunavut with no end in sight. 

Last Five
1. Not fair - Lily Allen* 
2. 500 up - Sloan
3. Open arms - Tracy Chapman
4. Lunge forward - Wavves
5. Lucinda/Aint goin' down (live) - Tom Waits