Thursday, August 31, 2006

An Ode to bitter women

So I was puttering around a few blogs today and read Dana's, which then took me to Sarah's (as blogs are wont to do) when I came across the most marvelously bitter exchange. It's a month old, but I don't care, it's brilliant. I think it's Dana's quote, but she can feel free to jump on here and make sure that proper credit is given.

What is the quote? "I hate girlfriends. Girlfriends are sluts. The least they could do is keep their men home and stop cluttering up the bars."

To which I had to work hard to stifle the laughter because it might be hard to explain to people nearby what I was laughing at. It's an elegantly crafted piece of bitterness. I told it to one of my co-workers, who is back in the dating game after her marriage ended and she laughed. "They're right," she said. "And if they can't keep them out of the bars, then at least put some kind of bar code on them so I can run a scanner over them to see if they're single or not."

I admire that caliber of bitterness. I was quite the bitter person myself (Yeah, yeah, my friends can spare me the shocked "No!" reactions). But that was BC - Before Cathy. I was a God of Bitterness and was vastly entertaining to my friends as I could go on quite the bitter rant (Remember, God of Bitter, Lord of the Rant and Lord of Sarcasm) on whatever topic was annoying me at the time. My inability to get a woman was normally high on the list. For whatever reason, I wasn't making the correlation between sucky dating prospects and my bitterness. Hell, I was a near perpetual inhabitant of the infamous "Bitter Couch" at The Muse.

Bitterness and a rant can be fun (much like a Guinness and Strongbow mixed together), but you do have to be careful. The occasional dose is amusing, but if you're like it all the time it can get tiring.

But I don't really know that many, if any, bitter single women right now. I know Dana in passing (more friend of a friend sort of thing); most of them are kind of out of it. Hell, I don't have that many single women friends anymore. But about 10 years ago I knew some spectacularly bitter women, who were quite frequently single. Mireille was often entertaining. So was OM. My friends Tiffany and Andrea were queens of it. More than one night was spent at the Duke of Duckworth listening to them be bitter and blindingly funny.

If you're still bitter and snarky in your 40s, well, that's a cause for concern. But by God when you're in your 20s you should be able to be bitter and sarcastic and pissed off at the state of things, even if it normally ends up being mostly your fault.

So to Dana and Sarah and all the other bitter, yet blindingly funny women in the world, I salute you. Have fun and savor the bitterness while you can. Because before you know it you're a girlfriend again. And you know what that meansÂ…

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Moral or not

So a quick little link I threw out about ways, if one were feeling inclined, of causing mischief with a right wing religious organization with a less than tolerant view of gay people caused a bit of noise. Helmut put it on her site and then contacted Gay Orbit who also had a small racket. Most say go ahead and screw over Focus on the Family.

I confess, when I first came across this link on Warren Ellis site my initial thought was "Well, let's cause some havoc, shall we?" Then my better angels (ie. Cathy) gave me pause. Just as I was getting ready to go and order the Chronicles of Narnia, she said she didn't want me to do that.

It's not that she likes Focus on the Family. She agrees with me that they're a pretty reprehensible organization. She just doesn't think it's right. Cathy doesn't think they're worthy of her time or being paid attention to. Or, by her way of looking at things, she wouldn't teach that kind of behavior to her kids. Trying to do malicious harm to an organization, just because you dislike or disagree with their morals or politics, is something she wouldn't do. Nor would she want her kids to do it.

I understand that argument. I really do. And part of me would like to aspire to the higher ground where you can just ignore groups that are not beneath you. But too often I see the kind of harm these groups do. And that isn't it better to try and remove their ability to harm others by taking it to them first?

I mean, let's take a group of people minding their own business, just trying to get by in life under difficult circumstances. That's when an outside organization swoops in and tells them that they're amoral, horrible people and to stop what they're doing immediately. Furthermore they preach this loudly to whoever will listen and lobby politicians to do something about you. And then, just to rub salt into the wound, launch a very effective fundraising campaign using you as the villain of the piece.

Now, am I talking about Focus on the Family and the way they treat gay people, or am I talking about the International Fund for Animal Welfare and they way they treat Newfoundlanders and sealers? And really, if this was IFAW giving away free stuff, I wouldn't even be thinking twice.

So I'm trying to go and be the better person and let this group beat their own path to hell by preaching morality while espousing hate. But it's very, very hard to not want to do my part to help speed their way onto hell.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Stars in town

One of the weird little things about Iqaluit is the number of celebrities that pass through here.

No really.

Here's the thing Iqaluit's airport has a runway massively disproportionate to what is needed. It's a U.S. airforce length runway since there used to be a base here a few decades back. There's a story about Iqaluit being an alternate landing site for the space shuttle, but apparently it's bogus. That is really too bad because I always liked believing that.

Anyway, lots of planes fly over Iqaluit. If you're flying to Europe and using a circumpolar route, well, depending on what part of North America you're leaving, odds are you're going to fly over us. And if you're in a private jet, you might just need to pop down to Iqaluit and top up on fuel before heading on your merry way.

Many just stay on their plane, especially in the temperatures are in the -40 range. Some will get out and stretch their legs for a bit and you'll even get the odd one who'll pop into town briefly just to see what the place is like. The rumour goes around town pretty quick, but you normally find out after the event. Some of the ground crews at the airport will say "Hey, guess whose plane I refueled today?" at which point it's too late.

Now, I'm not really a celebrity stalker. I'm not sure if I've ever asked for an autograph as I'm not completely sure what I would do with it. And that Madonna apparently made a stop in Iqaluit does not overwhelm me with regret that I missed her. Although it would have been nice to have seen Robin Williams and Bruce Springsteen, who have also been rumoured to have made quick stops in town.

But I did enjoy this story about Sammy Hagar hitting town. I'm not the biggest Hagar fan in the world, but the confluence of events here is really amusing. I didn't hear him on the air. I sometimes have the radio on, but I normally just have my iPod at work. Still, this would have been funny. I wonder how I would have reacted if I'd been on the air and someone called me up to say they were at the airport and Sammy Hagar would like to talk to me?

A few quick links

My internet went down last night right in the middle of blogging. By the time it went back online, I was a bit too tired to focus enough to finish what I was saying at least semi-coherently.

So instead, a couple of quick links for you. A "normal" post this evening.

If you've ever wondered what would happen if you were wandering the desert in, say, a Warner Brother cartoon and began coming across some unusual skeletons, well there's this story about a guy with a bit too much time on his hands if you ask me. If you want to see more of his handy work, then you can go here, although be warned that most of the site is in Korean.

I'm not the biggest fan of the religious right in the world and even though this potentially screws them, costs them money and gets you free stuff, I post this with some reluctance. But, I really, really don't like Focus on the Family. So if you can handle getting free copies of the Chronicles of Narnia and don't feel like you need to take 15 showers afterwards for just going to their site, take a look at this.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Me and you and a dog named Boo...

I swear to God, I forgot that song existed until Cathy began singing it around the apartment. Weirdness...

So how is Boo doing after a week in his new home? Pretty well, it seems. He's not quite as clingy. The first few days we couldn't take a step without looking down first to make sure he wasn't underfoot. He wouldn't sleep all through the night. And he needed lots of attention.

Right now he's feeling a lot more confident. When we take him out for walks he's feeling confident enough to wander further afield and check things out. And the best thing, he's now sleeping through the night. We put him in his kennel when I go to sleep and he's not whining at 4 a.m. to get out and use the paper. We can get him to stay in the kennel until 7 a.m.

He's also starting to get used to the idea of doing his business outside. The first few days he would go for a 40 minute walk, do nothing and then come back to the apartment and go on the newspaper.

Today was a pretty good day because we took Boo out to the Sylvia Grinnell Park along with Ian, Jennifer and their dog Kuniq. That was a good couple of hours. Kuniq is just a touch bigger than Boo, but after getting used to each other they had a lot of fun.

Oh, and everyone who meets him in Iqaluit is falling deeping in love with him. But that's hardly a surprise.

So yeah, we're adapting to him and he's adapting to us. It's all going well so far.

And now, a few more pictures...

Kuniq chasing Boo...

Both taking a pause from chasing each other to look over a small pool.

Looking very cute.

Continuing the whole "Looking very cute" look.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Give us a lift

As several other bloggers up North have noted, this is the time of the year for sea lifts. It's not quite the same level of excitement in Iqaluit as it is in communities like Arctic Bay, where they might only get one or two sea lift boats per year visiting the community. In Iqaluit, it's a fairly steady stream of them as soon as the ice disappears from the bay in late June. The last boat will arrive sometimes in early October.

I have no idea the number of boats that will visit, but I should certainly think easily a dozen or more. If you want to get an idea of what it's like for those communities when the boat arrives, I encourage you to click the links and read the blogs. It might seem silly to people living in the south where even the most isolated of communities can still probably drive somewhere and resupply with only a minimum of fuss.

Now imagine the excitement when a boat arrives bringing everything from food, building supplies, new vehicles and more. And it's the only visit for the year. So yeah, it can get crazy.

In Iqaluit, it's a little more diffused, but still interesting. For one thing, I can already notice new cars around town. Obviously because of the costs, most people are not flying in new vehicles. So when the boats arrives, there's a steady stream of new cars and trucks in town. I've heard, and it could just be pure rumour, that there could be up to 300 new cars in town once the sea lifts are over. Which for a city the size of Iqaluit is quite a lot.

There's lots of construction going on, with the most visible being an apartment complex and a new hotel. And there are sea lift cans and boxes scattered all over town as people get their orders. Ours won't arrive until the middle of September.

And another rite of summer is the Sea Lift Sale at Arctic Ventures. They open up their warehouse and let people buy items in bulk. For us, it was a chance to pick up some stuff to either hold us over until our box gets in, or stuff that we forgot to order. It was just slightly crazy, with the line up to the sole cash register about 30 minutes or more long in the cramped confines of the warehouse.

For example, we picked up a couple of cases of pop (24 cans of Diet Coke go for $20 in case you're wondering), another box of paper towels (having a puppy is kind of eating into our supply) and some chocolate bars.

Between that and a foodmail order that arrived today, it's been a busy resupply day for us. It was kind of needed, what with our supplies running down over the summer (I let things get low rather than having to move them) and the deep freeze breaking. Still, it was a pretty good day, especially since Ian, Jennifer and Kuniq are in town and we hung out with them for a bit today.

It's all nice, but it's kind of the slow wind up to things going back to normal. Summer is very quiet in Iqaluit, with many people out of town on vacation, some residents moving south once the school year is over and many of the Inuit either out on the land or off visiting family in other communities. However, the temperatures are already starting to get a little colder, hovering around 10 C the last few days. People are resupplying. Teachers and other people are returning to the city after being away for the summer. New people are arriving. We're probably about six weeks or so from first snow on the ground.

It's still August, but it's already beginning to feel a lot like Fall...

Friday, August 25, 2006

One year in...

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of our arrival in Iqaluit. We arrived on a cloudy day with the temperature a brisk 10 C, struggling with 10 pieces of luggage and a cat not really having a large clue about what we were in for. We survived, of course. Max the cat, alas, did not. It was a weird few weeks. We spent the first week in a hotel not knowing how long we were going to be stuck there. We then moved into an apartment that we considered shockingly small, little realizing less than a year later we'd willingly move into an even smaller place just to escape that apartment. There was culture shock for me, but not so much for Cathy who had spent the previous year in Rankin Inlet.

There were lots of little things those first few months. The lack of trees. The temperature getting cold by the end of September. The shocking price of food. Stuff like that.

Some people deal with it and move on. Others can't handle it and snap. I mentioned in the comments section in the past week that there was a local reporter blogging. She moved up at the end of June. She's given her notice and is leaving. It's nothing against her. It happens. If you're from the south you need a certain mindset to handle the isolation, the differences in culture, the weather and dozens of other little things.

And we've done fine as it turns out. I kind of thought we would, but it's nice to see that I was right. Some friends will point out that I groused mightily those first few months, but that's who I am. When I was with the Muse I was the God of Bitterness with special powers in Ranting and Sarcasm. Lesser beings wept when faced by my full fury. It's diminished over the years, mostly due to Cathy's soothing influence. But that doesn't mean it can't flare up when given the right motivation. I rant as a means of keeping myself sane.

We talked about it over supper this evening. Iqaluit is home, but not Home. It's possible that over the next few years it will grow us on and we'll opt to spend the next decade or so here. Or we could be five and out. We shall see. But for right not, we like it fine enough and it will do. Perhaps not the most glowing reference in the world, but we're from Newfoundland. I'm from St. John's. All other places in the world are lesser realms in comparison...

Conversations to disturb your boss with

Me. Hey, I'll be a little late getting back from lunch. I need to drop the car off at the garage to get the brakes looked at. Wouldn't want to be driving along, have them fail and then die or anything.

Boss. Well, you'd probably live, but you would feel bad about all the people you'd have run over.

Me. (Pause)

Me. Yes, I guess I should, shouldn't I?

And then I walked out of the room without saying another word. Haven't seen the boss since then. Can't imagine why….

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Oh dear lord...

No, this isn't some bit of fake weirdness I found. It's actually quite real. I found it on the always interesting blog of John Rogers. If you're not going there, then obviously you fear his monkey's kung fu.

Now, while I find this both funny and appalling (and somewhere I'm sure Mireille's head is exploding like an overstuffed pinata),Rogers opts for the more sacrilegious route, declaring that he wants a pair in adult size so he can have gay sex in them.

He's not gay, you understand. It's just the thing to do if you're wearing those pjs.

I'm fond of something in the comments thread - if a kid is wearing these and is quite religious, but wets the bed, has he committed a sin or made Holy Water?

Sad to say, I actaully spent some time dwelling on that.

So, OM, would you like me to get Owen a set for Christmas?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bastard Reviews - Vanished

There's a couple of dozen new TV shows coming up in the next few months. I always liked reviewing stuff when I was with The Express. And I had the plan to get to Los Angeles at some point for the previews they gave reviewers in July. Most of them are pretty jaded about the entire experience, but I think it would be fun to do at least once.

Now, I'm not going to review every new show coming up this fall. I don't have the time or inclination. Some of the shows are so bad that you'd have to be an idiot to not see how much they're going to suck. I'll make a prediction in a few days on which show I think will be cancelled first in the new season. There's always some sad sack that dies a gruesome death after two shows and gets the mild infamy for being a new season's first casualty.

But right now I'm taking a look at Vanished, which is the first new show of the season. Fox has been jumping the gun on some of their shows because they lose all of October due to the baseball playoffs. The plan is to hook you now and hope you'll come back in November.

Vanished is also noteworthy because the actress who plays Sara Collins, the woman who disappears, is Joanne Kelly from Bay d'Espoir. Which is kind of cool.

Will the show last? Maybe, but I have my doubts. It's not that it's bad. It's just ehhhh. And really, you want more than that before committing to this kind of show.

The show is a season long mystery. What happened to Sara Collins, who disappears early in the pilot episode (thereby leading to the question of just how much we're going to see Kelly in this show). And that's hardly the only mystery in the show. Collins is the wife of a US senator, who has his share of political enemies. Their son is up to something, and so is their daughter. And Sara herself has more than her share of secrets.

Even the FBI agents involved in trying to solve the case have secrets and issues. There's no shortage of them in the show.

However, while there is a ton of possible subplots and the actors are fine in their parts, the show doesn't reach out and grab you. It's a season long mystery show. Which is an awfully big commitment. Normally, that kind of show has to do something very early in the pilot to grab your attention. Blowing up planes seem to work really well with both Lost and 24. So far there is curiosity about what happened, but I'm certainly not enthralled and dying to know what happens next. Good, but not gripping.

And you want gripping if you're going to commit to watching a show every Monday night for several months. I'll give the show another shot next week. But unless it gives me something amazing, I think I'll be giving this a pass.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Silly hats...

If I had been thinking, I would have started taking photos of all the retarded hats that were available at Disney. As it stands, these are the only ones I have. But for good measure, I add Cathy and her ears.

There was just a smidge of pirate stuff available. You'd almost think Disney had a pirate movie coming up or something.

I bought this hat. It might be completely retarded, but there you go. Cathy was so very proud that I did, although it was a bit hot wearing during the day.

Me with my hat, Cathy with ears. I think the sunglasses add the extra element of cool to the ensemble...

Three stories

Not precisely time sensitive on this, but these three stories caught my eye the past few days.

1. I haven't seen much on the province's plan to drop the provincial portion of sales tax on books including CD ROMs in either the news or with other bloggers. The thing that confuses me is that I was unaware, or had forgotten, that the province dropped the tax on book altogether. When did that happen? I'm starting to feel so out of touch with home.

I'm sure Ed and Sue would argue that this is just the province sucking up during a polling period. Which I've always felt is a bit of a disingenuous argument. Most people are fairly aware of why governments make these sorts of announcements during specific times of the year. I don't think they're fooling many people, nor will it influence poll numbers that much.

And besides, Grimes and Tobin were just as bad, if not worse, at doing this sort of thing.

2. Speaking of Ed, I was amused by this little post about a story in the Globe and Mail about a pack rat who managed to acquire a comic book collection worth $2.5 million. There is nothing like a wife to dash your dreams of hidden millions amongst your stuff, is there Ed?

And yes, since I collect comic books, I was thrilled with the story, up to a point. I do love reading about these old collections being found. I can never afford to own any of those comics, but they're so rare to find, it's always a joy when you hear about one.

The thing that infuriated me was towards the end, where it was revealed that part of the collection is missing, having been likely stolen by a contractor who was doing renovations on the house back in the 90s.

Understand, nothing infuriates a collector more that hearing about someone's collection being messed with. It's a nightmare scenario. Just as you wouldn't want it to happen to you, you wouldn't wish it on someone else. I was actually furious when I read that. The family who sold the comics can't press charges (too late) and won't pursue litigation and waste their newfound money on legal fees.

Still, I suspect I speak on behalf of many collectors when I say if you give us his name and address and we'll take care of the rest. Messing with someone's collection. That shit is just wrong.

3. Jon Stewart has already mocked the media for their frenzy over JonBenet Ramsey. And yes, the murder of a little girl, no matter what job the parents had already done to her, is tragic. But let's face it, there are a few bigger things happening in the world and the US right now.

Stewart knows that and was right to mock. My friend Karin sent me this cartoon which also nicely illustrates the point. Time to move on to other things, folks....

Monday, August 21, 2006

Gracious hosts

Been kind of caught of with the dog the last few days and got sidetracked off other things, such as the recent vacation. For that matter, talking about stuff other than myself and Cathy. I will get around to that again eventually. I never really meant for this to be a purely personal blog. But I've never known exactly where something will go when I sit down to start writing. And I suspect I'm far from alone in that.

But it occurs to me that in my ramblings in the past week I never gave proper thanks on the blog to our gracious hosts Jaap and Charlotte. Oh, we thanked them enough when we were leaving, but I feel it's only proper to give them their due here as well.

My friends know I'm exceptionally wary of imposing on them while travelling. Without going into detail there was an incident about 10 years ago where I clearly overstayed my welcome. There were extenuating circumstances, but still. Ever since then, I've been worried that I'm imposing, no matter what reassurances I get to the contrary.

That's changed slowly. We stayed with Dups a couple of years ago and that went well. And during the trip to San Francisco we stayed with Jaap and Charlotte. And they were, as the title of the blog says, very gracious hosts. They put us up in their home, which we severely covet. Not that it's a huge mansion. Far from it. It's a nice, comfortable, one-storey house. But they've done it up to suit themselves. It's perhaps not exactly how I would design a house, but I suspect it's not far from it. Oh, and it was about a five minute walk from their house to a very nice, barely used beach.

But that's one of the things about California - they have so many beaches that it requires only minimum effort to find one that no one is using.

Along with putting us up, they gave us rides to the train station that took us into San Francisco (they live in a community called Half Moon Bay, about 30 minutes south of the city), the took us out to supper, gave us information and were excellent company. You could not ask for better hosts. Oh, and Jaap drove me into the city one day where we did a nice geek out, hitting a couple of comic book stores and perhaps one of the best record stories I've ever been to - Amoeba Record.

However, because we're gits sometimes, we actually forgot to get a picture of the two of them. Oooops.

Anyway, thanks one more time to them for everything. They both said to come back anytime. And, you know, we might just take them up on that one day.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Meet Boo

So after much consideration we've decided to go with Boo. However, I'm sure there will be no shortage of nicknames given to him. It was time we picked something, though. And thanks to everyone who made a suggestion.

He's learning quick. His second night was quieter than his first. He's learning to deal with us when we leave the apartment without making an ungodly racket. He's a good puppy so far.

On an unrelated matter, we got another lesson on the dangers of leaving our car doors unlocked. Some motherfucker put a rotting dead fish in the car. Don't know when, at some point between 5 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. Oh, and they junmped on the roof. We managed to pop that back into place, though. I cleaned up the mess.

So yeah, we're liking the new place despite it being small. It's feeling homey right now what with most stuff put away and the pictures up on the wall. But I am worried about the car. It's the only one parked along the side of the building. None of the other tenants in the building have cars, so ours is at risk of becoming a lovely target.

Hopefully they're isolated incidents, but twice in a little more than a week is making me a bit concerned.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Here he is...

No posting yesterday because it was just a little bit crazy. The last of my management seminar, picking Cathy up at the airport, getting the new critter to adjust to the house, unpacking and putting away stuff....just a little bit crazy. And when it gets that way, there is no time for blogging.

So yes, the new puppy has arrived and you'll see pictures at the end of this post. What's he like? Well, he's been breaking the hearts of just about everybody who has met him. That includes people at the vet office, people at both airports and the folks at my office. I suspect that Cathy has given out the contact information to the breeder to probably a half dozen or more people. He's also small. He can't climb stair or get up and off the couch without assistance.

As for other traits, he's insanely friendly and we have one more reason to never let him go outside unaccompanied. Aside from the borderline irrational fear that ravens will carry him away, he's that trusting that he'll go off with pretty much anyone. Very cuddly, very playful and very affectionate. So we think he'll be a good dog. Oh, and he's already paper trained, which is good because he's a little peeing machine.

His one bad fault, and this is a puppy thing, is that he's very needy. He's underfoot a lot and he doesn't enjoy being separated from him humans. So when we put him in his kennel or bar him up for when we go to sleep at night or go out to run errands, he's a little vocal in his displeasure. That'll change over time, I'm sure. And we have to stick with it and not break when he starts whining. But it is a touch grating right now.

The one problem we have right now is that he's clearly not a Mackenzie. We took one look at the dog and went "Nope, that's not his name." Sadly, he hasn't told us what his name is yet. And "hey you" isn't going to fly for much longer. We've resolved that he's going to have a name one way or another by the end of the weekend. I'm a little worried because Cathy has been calling him "Snookums" even though she says she doesn't want to name him that.

We're open to last minute suggestions at this point. Our current short list includes Bailey, Boo and Nemo. I'm fond of the later, but we shall see.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Learning to manage

When I said I was back to work this week, it was kinda/sorta of the truth. I've actually been at a class all this week teaching me how to manage people.

Yeah, stop laughing.

The thing is, I've managed people before. In a previous life, I was the associate editor of two weekly community newspapers. Whenever the editor was away, I was technically in charge.

However, as I'm learning this week, I'm not sure if editors always have the best people management skills. I mean, many of my editors have motivated me to complete my assigned tasks by basically threatening my life.

There's a line in a recent Warren Ellis graphic novel - JLA: New Maps of Hell - that I like. I can't recommend the book; it's one of Ellis' weaker efforts. But there's a great bit involving some of the Superman cast. Where Daily Planet editor Perry White is looking for Lois Lane and Clark Kent. His line: "Where's Lane and Kent? I want to drink their blood."

I've had editors like that. Where death is the favoured motivating technique in getting reporters to finish their stories before deadline. And I picked up on that and it became how I managed people when I was in charge. It didn't work on more senior reporters who had been around the block a few years. Threatening them with death is laughable. If the chronic drinking hadn't killed them at that point, they're far too sturdy for me to do them in. But as you might have figured out, enticing them with alcohol - effective motivating technique. However, death threats did work on younger reporters.

I've learned this week that perhaps, perhaps this is not the best way of getting people to do their job. This is a shock to me. I'm going to have to completely reevaluate how I manage people...when I get someone to manage.

Yeah, I'm doing a management course, yet there is a notable lack of people for me to manage. I mean, I have the word "manager" in my job title, but I thought it was just one of those words that they put in there to make you feel special. But no, apparently they mean it. I have no one right now, but I'll get someone next year. So this is all excellent prep work on how to handle the one person I'll be managing. I sure hope they appreciate all I'm learning and that I've discovered that threatening to drink their blood is wrong.

So what I'm learning is that communication is important. Or rather, positive communication is important (hence the not threatening to make them weep). Assigning goals, being accessible and recognizing different personality types and how to work with them.

I've also learned that I'm an introvert, which I'm sure is a shock to many. According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator I also like facts (Sensor, not intuitive), tend to be more of a feeler than a thinker (which is an assessment I'm skeptical on) and a perceiver rather than a judger. Or an ISFP. It's kind of interesting to learn some of the stuff, actually. Maybe I should get Cathy to do the test. That could be fun...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Post-vacation blues

It's not so much that I'm depressed after the end of my vacation. Well, maybe a touch. It's just that I wish perhaps not quite so much annoying stuff had not happened since I got back. I kind of need another vacation after dealing with the crap of the last few days.

The first problem is that I quickly discovered after getting home that someone got into our car while we were away. Here's the dilemma we face with the car in town. We can lock up the doors and run the risk that someone might smash out a window to try and get inside, or we can leave the doors unlock with nothing of value inside the car. They might mess it up a bit, but at least we're not fixing broken glass.

The later is what we've been opting for and what we did over vacation. And, sure enough, someone got into the car, messed around a bit, tossed the CD-Rs around the car, but didn't take anything. What they did do, while poking around the car, was hit the emergency blinkers. Tragically, they didn't think to turn them off while leaving. So they kept on blinking right until the battery died.

So that meant getting someone from a garage to come by and give me a boost, which is about what you think it would cost living in Iqaluit. Oh, and presumably the same person that went into the car also thoughtfully let some of the air out of two of the tires. But he did leave just enough to get to a garage and get them reinflated.

So that was a nuisance.

Last night's problem was...messier.

I'm not sure if I mentioned that the movers were less than gentle with the deep freeze when they brought it to the new apartment. However, it was working when they finally got it here and it was still working when I left to go on vacation.

Sadly, it stopped working at some point shortly after that.

So yeah, that was fun last night when I discovered that. The orange light was still on the freezer and I didn't have any need to get anything in it the first couple of days, so I didn't think to open it. And when I did, well, it wasn't nice. So that was a couple of hours spent tossing some very messy stuff and trying to get the smell out of the apartment.

Today was spent talking to the moving company over the possibility that perhaps one of their movers might have damaged the freezer (specifically, when he turned it upside down while moving it) and what they might be willing to do to compensate us. Those discussions are ongoing.

So yeah, quite the homecoming. On the upside, Cathy gets the puppy tomorrow. It appears (and this is still apparently subject to change as the breeder still hasn't made up her mind) that we're getting the male puppy. We'll put photos up of the new addition during the weekend.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Happiest (and Scariest) Place on Earth

If the phrase "Buyer's Remorse" doesn't have its origins in Disneyland, then I'm surprised.

Understand that I'm not the biggest fan of the Mouse on the planet. I have openly mocked Disney for many years. Early in our relationship myself and Cathy filled out one of those online quizzes to see if you're compatible. One of the questions was "Disney cartoons or Warner Brother cartoons?" For me, this was a no-brainer - Warner Brothers, of course. How could one resist Bugs, Daffy, Willie E. Coyote and company. No contest.

Cathy, of course, choose Disney. She's a Disney girl. Always has been.

And yet, despite all of this, I spent what I consider to be an obscene amount of money at Disneyland. Cathy was worse, but that was to be expected. Yet there I was, buying a retarded sorcerer's Apprentice hat that lights up at night when you turn it on. (Yes, there are photos. And yes, you'll see them later)

Terrifying. And it's a miracle I didn't buy some of the Grumpy (the dwarf) clothing that was there.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is what Disney does to you. The science behind Disney. I mean, I went to the San Diego zoo and there is science on display there. But it's mostly about ecology and education and biology.

The science at Disney is human. And more terrifying when you think about it. It's psychology and sociology. It's population control and economics. And it works, whether you realize it or not. The park has basic purposes: to keep people moving and to keep people happy. Because as long as they do that, they'll keep doing the main purpose of Disney - to keep people spending.

Everything is tightly controlled and efficient. It's ridiculously clean. The lines for rides are always moving. They might be a mile long, but they're always moving so you feel like you're getting somewhere rather than just standing around. The exits to the rides always exit into a store where you can buy stuff. Hell, even getting into and out of a ride is efficient. You're rushed in, you're rushed out. Politely, of course, but make no mistake they get you in and out pretty quickly.

Even the food and beverages have gotten better, long a sore point with the patrons at the park. Yes, it is still overpriced, but not as badly as before and it's of better quality. The attitude there is not to gouge you on a few items, which might piss you off, but to slightly over-charge you on everything so you keep buying more and more.

Honestly, the person who can walk out after spending a day at Disney without dropping $100 after the price of admission is tapping on will power reserves that most of us don't have. I think it's actually impossible if you have kids. The whole atmosphere of the park practically compels you to reach for your credit card (They only take Visa, by the way).

Of course you want to spend $20 on the Mickey Mouse ears with the Pirates of the Caribbean rag and dreadlocks. Of course you need a Goofy sweatshirt. Yes you need the Tinkerbell Christmas ornament (sadly, we apparently do). There are so many ways to make you part with your money. You have to constantly chant to yourself "Do I need this and will it ever be used again after I leave here?" If not, well, I pity you when you get the Visa bill.

It's astonishing. I'm a touch in awe of it, to be honest. Because somebody did the science on this. People sat around, commissioned psychologists, sociologists, people familiar with how to get people to move and created this park around their suggestions. It's as brilliant a creation as it is terrifying. It says something about humans. I'm not quite sure what, and I'm not quite sure I'll like the answer, but it certainly says something.

Does this mean I didn't have a good time? I did have fun, although I was aware of something oddly creepy about my enjoyment around the edges of my subconscious. The rides were fun and there is something about watching the kids run around and have fun. Other people's kids, mind you. I think Disney is best enjoyed without kids. Less stressful and certainly cheaper. You can enjoy the wonder the kids have in Disney...just make sure it's watching other people's kids....

Wisdom of the day

There are few things more evil than the sound of an alarm clock at 7 a.m. officially ending your vacation.

That is all.

Monday, August 14, 2006

And we're back...

So I'm back after two weeks in the sun in California. We even got sun in San Francisco every day we went into town, which I'm told is exceptionally rare. Disney was....well, I'm still trying to get my mind around that day. And the San Diego Zoo has pretty much spoiled me for any other zoo ever.

The next week or so is probably going to see a lot of posts about observations and stories of our vacation in San Francisco and California. So if that kind of thing is boring, well, I'm sorry but you're just going to have to deal until I get some of that stuff out of my system. But I'll try and make it as entertaining as possible.


Photos will be up the weekend. Cathy is still in Ottawa until Friday when she is bringing back the dog on Friday. You'll get fresh pictures of the puppy then. Hopefully we'll know what sex the dog is by then.

Oh, and just as a public service announcement for people who might be travelling in the next few days. We left San Francisco on Sunday morning, a couple of days after the U.S. brought in their new travel restrictions. We transferred in Washington D.C. and arrived in Ottawa last night. I flew out of Ottawa to Iqaluit this morning.

And I had very few problems. Security was no problem in San Francisco. In fact, it was mildly entertaining and there was a man belting out instructions in an amusing fashion while you were waiting in line (which moved quickly). We showed up early and got through security so quickly we ended up waiting two hours at the gate.

Same thing in Ottawa this morning. Showed up early and breezed through security. Just make sure you show up a bit early, pay attention to the security restrictions and you should be fine. The only problem we had was that our luggage got lost during the Washington to Ottawa section of the flight. While I would dearly love to curse and blame Air Canada for this, I suspect it had more to do with the beefed up security at Washington. After casually chatting with a few people at the airport apparently lost baggage has been endemic in flights coming from Washington since the security clampdown. So as long as you're not going through there, you should be fine.

I got the luggage back just before boarding the flight to Iqaluit this morning.

Anyway, more weirdness and fun stuff to come in the following days. And while it's good to be back home, it sure was nice to see lots of green and plenty of trees for those two weeks. Good for the soul....