Monday, June 02, 2014

Weather, dumps and journalism awards...

So a few things...

1. Welcome to June, which in Iqaluit today means you got intermittent snow flurries, winds gusting up to 80 km/h and general suckiness. Today's snow, by the way, continues the current streak of consecutive months with snow in Iqaluit to 22. The last time we had a month that didn't have at least one day of flurries was August 2012.

And I understand...Welcome to the Arctic. What else are you expecting? Still, this is the time of the year where it does start to wear on you a little bit. Or, as my wife said when she got into the car at lunch time, having clearly not enjoyed being smacked in the face with snow being blown at high velocity "Someone needs to get Mother Nature some candy and flowers and get her laid. Because this weather is bullshit!"

So yes, someone is ready for vacation now. I tend to take a slightly more pragmatic view. Along with the snow, there was also rain. So if you take that and mix in the high winds, it probably did some serious damage to the sea ice.

Because while the weather might be pissing Cathy off, I'm done with the sea ice and would like to see that gone. So if high winds and rain can break the back of that, I'm a happy man. For those curious, here's a satellite photo of Frobisher Bay on May 31, just to give you an idea of ice conditions...

2. I haven't written anything about the Iqaluit dump being on fire because, well, it's about two weeks old right now and been covered by CBC, Nunatsiaq News, Huffington Post, the National Post and god knows who else. The fact that there's a twitter account on the dumb has somehow become worthwhile news as well. And for the record, because I've been asked, no, I'm not the person behind @yfbdumpcano.

I will admit I was one of the first (but not the first) people on Twitter to call it the dumpcano and get a laugh out of it. Because the dump is one fire...again ("We'd have to update the 'X number of days since the dump caught on fire', but it's currently burning" was one of mine, I believe), local officials called it a volcano, all but ensuring things were going to get deeply silly.

And it's an easy enough thing to be silly about...when the wind is blowing the right way. So far, about two weeks into this, most residents have been lucky with the smoke blowing either down the bay (hunters were using it as, I kid you not, a navigational beacon when coming back to town) or out over the park. We've only had one bad day so far at our house where the prevailing wind blew our way. It was...unpleasant. I have friends in the Plateau Subdivision who have had to endure it more often. They're not happy.

They're really not happy when city officials say they're not going to try and put it out and that it could last for months. So we'll see. It's grumbling right now. If this is still burning in July, well, I think things could start getting unpleasant. As in pitchforks and torches unpleasant.

One of the things I used to hear all the time, when we first moved here, when something went wrong, or something you would take for granted elsewhere in Canada wouldn't work or happen here would be "Well, it's the north." I always thought that was a bullshit, lazy excuse. I could be wrong, but I think people are become much less tolerant of that excuse, especially as the territory, and the city, continues to grow.

3. Way back in my journalist days I got nominated for, and won, several community newspaper awards. Now as a serious journalist you're supposed to downplay the importance of these things. Wave them off as silly, unimportant things. But I remember being over-the-moon thrilled that I won a bunch of these. First of all, I don't often win things, so winning an award for my professional work was pretty damn cool.

Secondly, when you're starting out as a journalist and trying to make a name for yourself, let's face it "award-winning journalist" looks good on the resume. And finally, I recall one of the awards came with a $500 prize along with the wooden plaque. Given that I was making less than $20,000 a year at the time, that $500 was very much appreciated. It paid my rent that month.

Since those first awards I've also been on juries who decide winners, so yeah, I've seen some of the articles newspapers submit for awards consideration. Much like it's best not to see how sausages are made, behind the scenes for selecting an award is often not pretty either.

I mention all of this to put the following in a bit of context. Last weekend I won a Newspapers Atlantic award in the category of Best Speciality Column. I should note I haven't really been a journalist since 2005 and my current profession makes me winning a journalism award actually pretty damn funny.

I'm not saying this award is as good as winning that first award, because it's not. But it's still pretty awesome and put a big smile on my face when I got the news Monday morning. You better believe I'm hanging that bad boy up in my office, just for the looks it's going to get.

The column, by the way, is a summer series featuring travel stories. I did a dozen of them last year for The Packet in Clarenville. I did them because I find I quite like, and I'm getting half decent, at doing travel writing. Plus, my former (as opposed to old) editor/boss/friend Barbara Dean-Simmons asked nicely if I would.

I can never say no to Barb, even when she's threatening to murder me with cameras, softball bats, hockey sticks, iMacs or whatever else she has lying around. I like to think that's a sign of loyalty for everything she's done for me and my career. Others might use words like "idiot" or "masochist."

But hey, it's nice. And I am trying to do a little more freelance travel writing. Not having any luck so far, beyond The Packet, but perhaps the kind of words of the judge might help. " writing offers an antidote to the guidebooks and the hype of tourism brochures. His wry, no-nonsense take on where to go and what to see and do makes this column as entertaining as it is informative."


Last Five
1. It's all right (baby's coming back) - The Eurythmics*
2. Cover me (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
3. Another travellin' song - Bright Eyes
4. How insensitive - Diana Krall
5. The water - Feist

No comments: