Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wilderness voices

I've got a few threads going on in this post, so bear with me as I work through it. Because I'm perplexed on a couple of Newfoundland political things.

First of all, I've read Rob Antle's articles and David Cochrane's speech on the current state of Newfoundland politics. Rob writes devastatingly about the IEC and Dave produces a nice, thoughtful piece on how the business community basically needs to grow a pair of balls. And so, for that matter, should the rest of the province.

By the way, this should nicely refute some sniping I've seen on other blogs about how toothless Newfoundland media is. Folks, reporting is like anything else. There are people who are good at it; there are people who are bad at it. The gifted ones, the ones who go after the story relentlessly, are subjected to the kind of sniping, second guessing, insulting and abuse that most people could not handle. It can be high stakes stuff to go after politicians – who normally have huge egos to begin with and don't take kindly to criticism. One government did its best to shut down the Sunday Express, and basically succeeded. Clyde Wells was famous for chewing out reporters. Brian Tobin tried to exile a CBC reporter for daring to ask questions about his wife. And I'm sure Danny Williams has engaged in similar intimidation tactics.

It's a hard job. I think most reporters do a good job given to what they're up against and the resources they possess. That's a great story Rob did. I wonder how long it took to write? It meant he likely wasn't available to do other stories. That probably put pressure on the editor to justify why one of his best reporters wasn't writing anything on a daily basis. Welcome to the business end of newspapers, where you won't have to strain too hard to hear sales people lament the waste of perfectly good ad space being taken up by news stories.

So let's give the reporters a bit of slack, shall we?

Anyway, I had a small moment of clarity when reading the pieces by Rob and Dave and stuff that I've read on other blogs. And that is commenting on how the pro-Danny forces come out and attack anytime when the government is criticized. That the open line shows are bombarded, that letters get written to newspapers, etc.

Fair enough. You couldn't pay me, literally, to listen to open line. In this case, the voice of the people sounds a little too much like they were dropped on their heads as babies. So I'm sure it's happening and I would hope the fact that it's so obvious and commented on would dampen some of its impact

But where is the Voice of the Government online? Where is it in local blogs? Because I can't think of more than a small few Newfoundland conservative bloggers online. And some of them, like Liam, clearly have issues with the way the current government is being run.

So where are they?

Yes, I know not every local blog is on NL Blogrolling. Yes, I know the number of people reading local blogs is relatively small compared to the number of people who listen to open line shows. But hey, apparently they get enough attention that the premier of the province apparently felt the urge to threaten to sue a couple of them. I would have thought that would be sufficient for swarms of people to come online and at least start leaving comments on the political blogs ripping anyone who speaks against Danny. And that pro-Danny blogs would spring forth.

And yet, no. Very odd. Thus the local political blogsphere, for the most part, remains anti-Danny. Not that I'm summoning forth the legions of Dannyites, you understand. I'm just wondering in a province that is supposedly 70 per cent in favour of the current government, why there aren't more people with blogs defending the actions of the current government.

You get the feeling that there is a slow resentment building up against Williams, but that it all remains bottled for the most part. And again, this comes only from what I'm observing online and not on the ground. So it's a very skewered observation. But I suspect if there was the right catalyst, the right person, or the right group out there, willing to speak up and say something that an avalanche might start to roll.

I don't know who or what that might be. The Liberals and NDP are effectively toothless and after the EIC scandal no one trusts them either. What you need is someone of prominence to stand up and say they're not running for office and they're affiliated with no party. They just want every politician in the House who was there previous to 2003 gone. Yes, you can argue the crowd from 2003-07 haven't been much better, but let's pick a nice clean number. Everyone before 2003 needs to go as punishment for the financial scandal.

That means voting against the incumbent, running against him or her for the party nomination or in the general election. An anti-2003 platform I think might work if the right person was driving it.

It probably won't happen. Danny has spin down pretty nicely at this point and has certainly mastered the art of the attack. And I do wish more people would show some balls in criticizing the government. There's still six months left. The quip in politics is that six months is a long time. And it is. But that's a pretty barren opposition landscape out there right now. If there is a voice crying out in the wilderness, then he or she might want to yell a bit louder. Time is running out.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Quote of the day

I'm not about to start doing this on a regular basis. John Gushue does a remarkably good job of picking out quotes on his blog every day. But every now and then something jumps out at you that you just feel like sharing to the world.

This one comes from the always reliable Kevin Smith, who interviewed James Callis (Dr. Gauis Baltar on Battlestar Galactica) during last weekend's New York Comic Con.

"James, this season we saw you get into a three-way with Six and Xena, Warrior Princess. If you were also to nail Gillian Anderson, circa '99, that would be the trifecta, right?"

Admittedly you need to be somewhat steeped in geek lore to get all the references there, but I read that and laughed out loud. However, once I stopped laughing I noticed that I was nodding my head, meaning that subconsciously I was agreeing with Smith. That yeah, duh, obviously that would be the trifecta.

Which was entirely too depressing a thought so I went and whacked my head off a wall for a few minutes. Sadly, it didn't help and made my co-workers look at me strangely.

Sigh. Funny quote, though...

Oh, I almost forgot, I stepped on the scales today as I forgot to do it last night. I don't know how, but I'm down about 3.5 pounds to 234.6. So what the hell, I'll take it. It's nice to be heading downwards again after the past few weeks.

No means what?

This story is kicking up a bit of a racket. When I first read the story it seemed pretty straight forward. I was on campus when CFS came up with the "No Means No" campaign and it was needed at the time. There was a problem with date rape on campuses in the country. I don't know what the current situation is like, but I'm willing to bet it hasn't gone away.

The comments section to the story is interesting, with many people lamenting Political Correctness and the death of freedom of speech because BlueNotes are pulling the shirts. And many people also pointing out that there are far worse shirts being sold out there, even by BlueNotes and that women are hardly innocent of the kinds of shirts they wear (the story of one father saying his son started wearing a shirt with "girlfriends belong on leashes" after his girlfriend wore a shirt saying "Men make nice pets" is amusing, I confess).

All of which are fair points. Personally, I had no problem with BlueNotes selling those shirts and I think CFS and other organizations made a mistake trying to get it banned. And it's not a freedom issue or a PC issue or even an equality issue. It's as simple as this – any half intelligent woman who is standing up in a bar and sees a guy coming towards her wearing this shirt should just punch him in the nuts as soon as he offers to buy her a drink.

The assholes in life are not always easy to spot. Sometimes they are quite stealthy. They very rarely come with the gift of a t-shirt for easy identification. So don't knock a good thing.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sunday night television

Yes, the internet is breaking with the number of opinions regarding the Oscar broadcast last night. So what the hell, I used to write entertainment for a living. I found the broadcast kind of dull. Cathy was bored out of her trees (or whatever you can be bored out of when there are no trees for thousands of miles) and lamented that there weren't even any interesting dresses. Ellen was a mediocre host who had a few good bits. The joke about Al Gore was good, but then again, last night Al might as well have started taking campaign donations, such was the love being thrown at him last night. The Oscar carrying bag was funny. And getting Steven Spielberg to take a picture of you and Clint Eastwood on a $200 digital camera is pretty damn funny.

But other than that, she didn't do much for me. It didn't help when Jerry Seinfeld came out and did a three minute bit introducing documentaries and was funnier than she was all night. More than one person has suggested he host the show next year. I still think it should be George Clooney, but that's just me.

As for my picks, I think I was seven for 12, which certainly isn't one of my better years. I should have known better on Peter O'Toole and in retrospect Little Miss Sunshine winning Best Original Screenplay was fairly obvious. But I'm not certain how many people were picking Alan Arkin in Best Supporting Actor over Murphy and I don't think anyone was picking that German film to beat Pan's Labyrinth in Best Foreign Film.

I was glad to see Scorsese win Best Director and The Departed get best movie. Yeah, some people moan that isn't Scorsese's best movie. And it's not. But, you know, until they invent a time machine so we can go back and rip the Best Director award from Kevin Costner's hands and give to Scorsese for Goodfellas, that's all we can do. It is a great film and certainly one of his better ones. And I would just as soon he win for The Departed than The Aviator, which was a mediocre movie at best.

Anyway, good for him. He was due.

When not watching the Oscars last night I was flipping over to The Amazing Race: All-Stars. Because I love this show, one of the very few reality programs I can stomach (I will die before I understand the appeal of Dancing with the Stars. I also have another rant about Canadian Idol, but that one is still a week or so away). The household has also taken the opinion that we want Rob/Amber to win.

Yes, they are hated in many quarters, but I respect them because they play the game very well. They very rarely make stupid mistakes and when they get behind it's often because a strategic gamble didn't pay off. Like the one on Sunday where they got another flight that would have gotten them in 30 minutes earlier than most of the other teams. But it meant one more airport stop, always risky. Doubly so when traveling in South America.

And didn't pay off and they arrived later than the other teams. But you know what, they still finished first for that leg. Barring a catastrophe, they should be in it to the finish.

You can also see the wheat from the chaff in the show. Several teams already have the doomed taint on them. Team Alabama have the look of the doomed on them, although I've underestimated them before. Charla and Mirna look very much doomed, and not too soon. Christ, they're annoying. And I certainly wouldn't mourn the loss of the beauty queens either.

But I guess we shall see. I'm enjoying this season so far, although I wonder how much that mining company paid to get that kind of publicity on the show.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Late Oscar picks

I've picked my Oscar winners for years now. Sometimes for money, sometimes for bragging rights and sometimes it was just in The Express. I've ever really kept track of my accuracy rate. I suspect it's nothing spectacular, but I hit more often than I miss.

For whatever reason, I've been late putting up my picks this year. Well, since the Oscars are going to be starting in less than 30 minutes as I type this, I'm doing this really, really late. I just haven't seen many of the nominees this year. The only one of the major films I've seen is The Departed. And it's not that the rest of the movies haven't played here. With the exception of Letters From Iwo Jima, all of them have played here. Dreamgirls and Pan's Labyrinth are playing right now. I guess with the cold we often don't feel that inspired to take in a movie.

So anyway, here are my predictions for 12 of the awards (Really, nobody knows who is going to win Best Costuming or Editing). As always, this is not based on what I think is the best movie, performance, etc. It's based on the hype, advertising money spent and gut feeling.

1. Best Picture - The Departed
2. Best Director- Martin Scorsese
3. Best Actor - Peter O'Toole (my upset pick)
4. Best Actress - Helen Mirren
5. Best Supporting Actor - Eddie Murphy
6. Best Supporting Actress - Jennifer Hudson
7. Best Animated Film - Cars
8. Best Foreign Film - Pan's Labyrinth
9. Best Documentary - An Inconvenient Truth
10. Best Adapted Screenplay - The Departed
11. Best Original Screenplay - Pan's Labyrinth
12. Best Original Song - An Inconvenient Truth

Saturday, February 24, 2007

An amusing rant

I've started paying attention to The Muse again, which may or may not be a good thing.

It's probably no secret to many that I got my start in journalism by walking through the doors of the old Muse office in the TSC back one faithful day in September, 1990. I consider the four years I spent there to be some of the most important in my life. It shaped my professional career and most of my closest friends have come either directly or indirectly from my time with the paper. So I feel a strong sense of belonging to the paper years and years after my day was done.

I've always tried to keep track of what was going on with the paper, but refrain from commenting except when among friends. Back in my first year with the paper I recall an "old time" Muser came in the office. And by old time I mean he had been with the paper in the early 80s. And he began talking about his time with the paper, and how they did things different and boy didn't they cause a racket and wow, clearly the paper need to do something differently to get up to the standards they had set.

The fact that the staff who were in the office at the time listening to this didn't beat him to death borders on the miraculous. I vowed then and there to not be one of those people who would pop in the Muse office years after my time with the paper and start telling them what to do.

However, now I have the Internet and can read the paper online. Plus, thanks to the miracle of the Newfoundland and Labrador blogroll, I know several of the staff are online and that they sometimes come here and read things. This is all bad things because it makes me tempted to start talking about the Muse. And really, I shouldn't. Yes, it's a good idea to have people with more experience to come and offer suggestions and tips. But that's what conferences are for. Plus, you're invited to comment and offer suggestions. There is a big difference.

But still...

You know, I will say this. The paper looks good, the layout is coming along nicely and it's great to see some really nice colour photography in the paper. That LSPU Hall spread and the cover were very well done.

But no, what caught my eye was thisthis. Understand, I enjoy a nice crafted rant. And yeah, I can renew my longstanding complaint that The Muse ought to run editorial and not opinion pieces (editorials don't use personal pronouns). And yeah, maybe it's a touch rough and could use another pass to knock off some of the edges.

But then again, another pass might have ruined it. It might have watered down the bile and contempt. And that would have been a sad thing. This is a lovely thing. It stirred something dark and thought long dead or dormant in my chest. That being the seething hatred and contempt you can have for those in power when you're in university. It's a wonderful thing to read and I just wanted to post a link to it here so others could read it.

Plus, that's a great headline. The kind you can only get away with in the student press.

I also hope they ran that past a lawyer before running it because if CFS is as litigious as is claimed in this piece, then the lawyers are likely already sharpening their knives.

I almost feel bad picking on university student councils. I lived for it back in the day. If you think the three levels of government (municipal, provincial/territorial, federal) produce juicy targets, it's nothing compared to what your average student council can offer up. It's like a lame duck shoot every week for a budding journalist.

But then again, they're not that dissimilar from the people who work on student papers. You've got people who want to get involved who are often inexperienced, but want to learn more because this might be something they want to pursue full-time. And mistakes are going to be made. Quite often big ones. Lord knows enough people have ripped The Muse, and even tried to shut it down, over the years for mistakes in the paper.

So it seems a shame to pick on student council's in such a ruthless manner. Then again, the other part of me thinks that you're better off crushing them when they're young and weeding out the incompetent. After all, if you don't catch them then, well...wasn't Ed Byrne a former student council president?

Friday, February 23, 2007

The stupidest story you will read all day

I swear every year that I'm not going to talk about the seal hunt because I have no intention of dying of a stroke because of anti-hunt protesters. I don't know how I want to die, but that isn't it.

But honest to God, you read something like this and you have to comment. And your only sane reaction has to be "what the fuck?"

This is my favourite quote: "They're very dedicated. They know that sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone to raise awareness," Matt Rice, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), told AFP.

No, no, no....the word you're looking is "committed" not "dedicated". As in "anyone lying outside naked in the snow for an hour when the temperature is -15 and covered in red dye to protest seal hunting ought to be committed."

It's not so much that seal hunt silliness starts earlier each year, it's that the protesters get more retarded each year.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Better off where he is

I don't normally pay too much attention to Justin Trudeau. He seems bright enough and hey, he wants to try and do something for his country and I respect that. And today's announcement that he's going to run in Papineau, Quebec at least eliminates the possibility of him doing something fairly stupid which was suggested in the Globe and Mail earlier the week by Aaron Spitzer, that being to run in Nunavut.

I don't talk much about politics in Nunavut and I have good reasons for that. It comes a little too close to my job and I try to keep blogging and my job as separate as possible. Plus, I've only been in Nunavut for 18 months. I have a clue about Nunavut politics, but I am far, far away from being an expert. Still, Spitzer's suggestion that Trudeau run in Nunavut in the next federal election was just so odd that I might have ignored it complete if it hadn't of run in the Globe and Mail.

Here's the thing – yes, the Liberals have won Nunavut in the last several federal elections. But I really don't think the political party made all that much difference in the vote. It was the person who ran that made all the difference. Remember, Nunavut runs on a consensus government. There are no political parties here and the political party infrastructure is kind of weak. It's rather refreshing, actually.

No, from what I've heard and read, it's more important who your family is, what connections you have and where you're located. For example, although Iqaluit is the largest community in the territory by a wide margin, a lot of the candidates in federal elections tend to come from the Kivalliq region (Rankin Inlet, Arviat, Baker Lake, etc). I couldn't tell you exactly why, but that's the way it is. I think four of the five candidates in the last federal election came from that region.

But here's the really important thing. It's more important than political parties, regional politics or the challenges of running a campaign here (during the last election candidates spent about half their campaign budgets on simply trying to travel around the territory). Justin Trudeau is white. Eighty-five per cent of Nunavut is Inuit or, you know, not white. Many Inuit rightly feel that Ottawa is ignoring their concerns as it is so are they going to send another white male, no matter how well connected or well meaning, to Ottawa or are they going to send an Inuit?

Plus, Trudeau might be famous in southern Canada, but I suspect a lot of people in Nunavut wouldn't know or care who he is.

I realize this is a moot point because Trudeau made up his mind. But it's just one of those things that stuck me as such a patently odd suggestion that I had to comment on it. And Spitzer seems to know the North and even worked as an editor in the territory for awhile. I would have thought looking at his resume that he would know a lot more about northern politics than me. I have no idea why he would think Trudeau would even run up here, let alone suggest it's a good idea (for either Trudeau or Nunavut) or that he would have a chance.

But hey, he got published in the Globe and Mail and likely got paid for it, so he's doing better than me in that regard.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Not completely evil as it turns out

Here's something that's surprising the hell out of me. Stephen Harper doesn't suck as a prime minister.

Now, I'm not saying I'm going to vote for the Conservatives in the next election (that depends a lot on who they run here. The last one was pretty vocal in his opposition to gay marriage, which pretty much made him a dead duck to me) or that I even want to see them get a majority government any time soon. A minority government with the NDP helping to keep them in power works quite nicely for me. Judging by the fact that none of the parties can gain any traction in the polls, it seems to be working quite nicely for most of us.

And yes, I know Stephane Dion has been taking a pounding in the polls and the national press this week. But I tend to lean on the side of some pundits and columnists I've read who remind people that Stephen Harper was behind in the polls in the last election and thought by many to be unelectable. Dion needs to get his act together, but he's hardly dead yet.

It's just that after so many years of being painted the anti-Christ, surprise surprise, Harper's actually not a bad prime minister. The country hasn't fallen apart in the last year. The economy continues to tick along nicely. Decisions are getting made and promptly. Social justice issues haven't been completely rolled back. Same sex marriage continues. Things seem to be quieting down with the separatists in Quebec. Newfoundland is unhappy, but guess what, we're always going to be unhappy.

And hell, I don't even have a problem with Canada being in Afghanistan or the military spending. If we want to be taken more seriously on the world stage, then engagements like Afghanistan are going to have to happen. And yes, it is tragic that men and women have been hurt and killed over there. But honest to God, I think they're making a difference. Maybe it's slow steps. Maybe peace is going to be a long ways away. But I think Afghanistan is better with a Canadian presence there than without one.

And yes, Harper's commitment to the environment is likely more of an attempt to cut the legs out from underneath Dion than a serious belief in the importance of the issue, but hey, it certainly seems to be working, doesn't it?

No, Harper isn't perfect. I don't agree with all the cuts he made in the past year. And I still can't shake the feeling that we would see a very different prime minister if he didn't have to behave in a minority government. But we're already starting to see the lead up to another federal election, this one likely around May. And unless there is a sudden shift in things – Mr. Harper is caught eating small children; Mr. Dion is shown burning tires in his back lawn or Mr. Layton makes a deal with Satan – then there will be another minority government.

I appreciate that politicians are not the smartest breed on the face of the planet, but you'd figure they might catch on sooner or later.

But hey, at least sign makers will make a fortune. Which reminds me, I wonder if any of the parties will make them out of recyclable materials?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Weigh-in, etc

1. Last night's weigh-in was 238 pounds, down one pound from last week. I was hoping to lose more considering how much sweating I did on the weekend, but I did eat quite a bit at the awards banquet. Really, that was one of the better spreads of food I've seen in awhile. Prime rib, chicken Kiev, cod, chicken stir fry, three different kinds of salad, chocolate cake and more. My will power was weak.

I also need to get back to the gym. Hopefully Thursday the weather will hold, and myself and Cathy will both be healthy enough at the same time to go to the gym together. Oh, and the car will keep working. It's asking a lot, but there you go.

2. I hope those of you that like Studio 60 (all 10 of you at this point) liked last night's episode as in all likelihood that was it for the show. Unless the Black Donnellys (the replacement show) tanks. I imagine the rest of the episodes will either be burned off during the summer or will end up on iTunes.

It's hard to pick just one area where the show went wrong. I like the creator, I liked most of the actors and the premise wasn't a bad one. But they've just been flailing about the last half dozen episodes trying to find a director. It's a shot at Hollywood, it's a workplace drama, it's a social commentary on the left and right in America, it's a romantic comedy...none of it stuck and it all started to seem rather desperate.

It's a pity, though. I have a new respect for Matthew Peary after watching Studio 60. Who would have thought that out of the Friends cast, Peary would be the best actor of the bunch. I hope he lands something good after all of this.

3. Three things about Britney Spears because I am apparently desperate for things to write about this evening:
a. All things considered, doesn't K-Fed look like the more sane parent right about now?
b. Who in their right mind would pay a million bucks for this crazy woman's peroxide damaged hair?
c. My favourite joke making the rounds - does this mean the drapes match the carpet now?

Monday, February 19, 2007


Ok, last curling related story for a good long while, I promise. As is evident by the lack of feedback and slight dip in traffic, no one really cares for curling stories. On the upside, this may actually amuse those of you who enjoy seeing me humiliated or in pain.

Here's the think about curling – it's played on ice. That means odds are you're going to slip and fall at some point. So far this season I'd managed to avoid that. However, I did slip and go down Friday night in a game. I didn't hit the stone nor did I hurt myself because it wasn't that bad of a fall. Everyone asked if I was all right, I laughed, dusted myself off and said I was fine and went back to playing.

Now on Sunday, we had a different matter all together.

It was the sixth end of the final game. The one for the big money. It was a close game and we were only up by one point with the other team were lying two buried behind a guard. Our skip was going to throw some big weight and hope to clear out all three opposing rocks. The shot is coming down nicely, we've been yelled at to sweep and I'm merrily sweeping my guts out to try and keep the rock on line. We're about 10 feet away from the big kaboom.

This is the moment that my watch falls out of the fleece I was wearing.

I don't normally wear my wrist watch when I know I'm going to do be doing a lot of sweeping. It hurts my wrist sometimes. So I just throw it in my jacket pocket and zip it up. However, I must have forgotten to zip up the coat the last time I checked my watch for the time. So it falls out, I don't notice and it lands right in front of me and I then proceed to step on it.

This is the point where I became airborne. Honestly, I was vertical and the next thing I know I'm several feet in the air. Everyone tells me it looked quite spectacular, one of the better falls seen in recent history at the club.

Oh, and of course, this is the game that Cathy decides to attend. She was very impressed and said it was almost graceful. Almost.

So anyway, the watch has rocketed about 50 feet away, I'm hit the ice with an impressive Thud. I'm just a touch disoriented and people are rushing up to me asking if I was ok. And my response to these questions is to ask what the fuck happened to the shot because I didn't hear the big kaboom that normally comes with rocks hitting each other at high velocity. That was kind of amusing, actually, in a Marx Brothers sort of way. Everyone kept asking if I was ok and I kept not responding because I was too busy asking what had happened to the shot and so on, and so forth.

It actually took me about a minute to get a straight answer that I had kicked it when I was going down.

This lead to several minutes of me cursing and venting because it was big shot at the time. But in retrospect it was pretty funny. Cathy has been teasing me and saying I was going to be in a lot of pain after that fall because I did go down hard. But that hasn't happened yet, perhaps because I have too many other aches and pains vying for my attention today.

Oh, and our skip did a draw on his next shot to salvage the end and take one. And obviously we won the game, so all's well.

You know, except for my pride.

Oh yes, one last thing...the watch is fine. So if you need a watch that can survive being dropped on the ice, stepped on, rocketed half way across a curling rink and then thrown in disgust at the floor, then I recommend a Guess Steel watch. Kept right on ticking. Good for pressures up to 100 metres and being used as a hockey puck at a curling rink.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Curling over and done


ow ow ow ow ow ow ow


Well, that's the hardest $500 I've made in recent history.

Yeah, we won the bonspiel. The semi-final was a harrowing game that went back and forth. We got lucky when the opposing skip missed a take-out on his last shot of the game, leaving us with a draw for two for the win. Considering we played kinda crap for the first half of the game, we were more than happy to get the win.

The final was close, but we had a bit of luck in the eighth end, took three and that made it difficult for the other team to catch us.

And that was that - $2,000 split four ways. My muscles hurt and my knee is still bothering me even though I actually wore a brace on it today. But hell, all things considered, that was a lot of fun.

Now I'm trying to decide what to spend the money on. I told Cathy is she wants to get something she is welcome to partake of the winnings, seeing as how she was a widow for the weekend. However she is suggesting unfun things like putting the money towards the transmission.

We'll see. I'm leaning towards a couple of pretty book at Chapters right now, personally.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Curling, day 2

A mostly good day on the curling front. We won our two games by convincing scores of 7-1 and 11-1. The way the bonspiel is broken down is that six teams make the playoffs, with the top two getting a bye into semi-final. As it turns out three teams finished 3-0. The next tie breaker was the number of points allowed (as opposed to points scored which prevents people from running up the score). One team allowed only seven points, our team tied with the other in allowing 10 points. Which meant another tie-breaker.

Neither team wanted to play another game to decide a tie-breaker so it was decided to do skip stones. Each skip gets a chance to throw a rock. Closest to the button wins. Our skip managed to to win the draw by a few inches, so we're off until tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.

That means barring losing both games tomorrow, we'll win some money. So that'll be nice.

So what are the downsides? Well, call me paranoid but I don't think too many other teams are cheering for us. Yes, each team wants to win, but you still cheer on other teams and hope they do well. I get the feeling that more than a few people would be happy if we lose tomorrow. But maybe it's just me.

The other problem is that I am hurting right now. It feels a bit like I've been hit by a sledgehammer. Aside from the muscle aches, I"m feeling just worn out. Plus I hurt something in my knee, so I've been icing and heating it throughout the evening. I've also got a knee brace that I'm going to wear tomorrow to help out.

I was supposed to go out this evening because they have a band at the curling club. However, with a game at 9 a.m. and with me feeling like crap right now, I've decided to stay home and take it easy this evening.

Man, I'm the youngest guy on the team. I shouldn't feel quite this bad after this much curling. And yet...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Curling widow

So this is a big weekend to me and, in a very geeky way, I've been looking forward to it all week. That being I'm playing in the Furspiel.

Yes, I know, but I didn't name it. Plus, it has some history, although no actual furs will be awarded this weekend, but have been in previous years.

I'm shooting second stones on a curling team that has to be considered one of the favourites so I'm hoping for a fun, and potentially profitable, weekend. First prize is $2,000 for the team, second is $1,300, third place is $800. Peanuts for some of the other bonspiels played in Canada, but pretty serious stuff up here. Plus it's $100 per person to enter (other bonspiels are about $25 per person to enter) so it's mostly the serious and good curlers out in force this weekend.

I just finished playing tonight (we won 12-8, but we were lucky), and we're back at it tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m. After that it depends on how we do. The final is Sunday afternoon. There's also a skills competition that I stand virtually no chance at, but ought to be amusing. Finally, there are door prizes of plane tickets to Ottawa and other goodies.

However, this is going to be more "serious" curling. Most of my normal weekly games are six ends. A serious game can go eight ends. This weekend the games are 10 ends and no team can quit, no matter how badly they're being blown out, until the end of six. Also, while my normal weekly games aren't exactly cheating affairs, you do tend to let people get away with some things they shouldn't. Players have specific places they're supposed to be standing when the opposing team is shooting so you don't distract them. Some players cheat a bit on how the sweep a stone. For example they will sweep off to the side hoping it will curl more in that direction rather than across the full face of the stone. Small things, really, but they can make a difference in a game. Lord knows I'm probably guilty of the odd infraction during the run of a game.

But the biggest racket is going to be over hogline violations.

For the non-curlers out there, this is basically the rule. When you're sliding out with the rock you have to release the rock before the front of it touches the blue line (hog line) about 30 feet or so away from your starting point. If your hand is still on the rock once it reaches that line, then it is considered "hogged" and removed from play. A single stone, removed at a critical moment in a game, can be a big deal so people take it seriously.

Let's just say there are a few people in this bonspiel that have been known to cross the hog line with their hand still on the rock. I remember during a bonspiel last year the opposing skip was hogging rocks badly. I didn't want to be a poor loser (he was beating me) so I let it slide, but after the game I told him that he was hogging stones and that he might want to be careful about that in future games.

He ripped my head off. He had been curling for x number of years, and no one have ever accused him of doing this because he didn't do it. I honestly thought he was going to punch me for a moment. To an extent I understand. I basically accused him of cheating, which is a serious accusation in a "gentlemen" sport like curling. Still, he did overreact just a bit.

However, with a decent amount of money at stake in this one and organizers saying we're playing by strict rules, people are going to call these violations if they happen so it ought to be interesting to see how people react. Hopefully bloodshed will be kept to a minimum.

The other thing about this weekend is that Cathy is going to join an illustrious group known as "curling widows". Basically I'm going to be tied up with this all weekend. She can come down and watch and can get access to the private club upstairs, but I don't think she's going to show up that much. She likes curling, but I'm not sure she likes it enough to spend hours in a curling club watching me play.

Besides, she has her porn this weekend.

Yeah, that requires some explanation.

I'm not talking about real porn here, the kind you might find on satellite or late night on Showcase. Nor am I talking about all the Laurell K. Hamilton books she has. Rather, I'm referring to the six hours of coverage on the Outdoor Life Network of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Yes, six hours of dogs parading around on TV. She will be in her glory, glued to the TV set, probably cuddled up with Boo telling him that one day that could be him prancing around in front of the cameras.

Although I don't think Coton de Tulears compete in the show. Small matter as Cathy prefers watching the working class breeds anyway. So I'll be curling, she'll be watching dogs and all will be right in the world. We'll meet up sometime Sunday evening and compare notes on how our weekend went.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Shameful confessions

I fear I have a shameful confession to make. I am actually the father of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter. The other 25 men claiming to be the child's father are all lying bastards.

It's come as a shock to Cathy, but fortunately she's been very understanding (after she castrated me) and once the DNA testing is completed and it's confirmed that I am the father, she plans on adopting.

As for how the unlikely events that a relatively poor, slightly overweight, balding man living in the Arctic managed to hook up with a tabloid-loving, white trash, Marilyn Monroe wannabe, well, it's a long and sordid story and it's perhaps best not to get into it here on the blog.

Besides, Extra! has paid me $100,000 to give them my exclusive story. Not to mention it will mess up the book I'm writing on about it and possibly screw-up the negotiations for the movie-of-the-week biography due out in May, just in time for sweeps.

Plus, y'know, it's awfully painful to talk about and all.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why not a little romance?

I'm a sap for Valentine's Day. Have been for years. Friends of mine can recollect horror stories of things I've done on Valentine's Day, although I think the kicker was probably the year I was in South Korea (come to think of it, that would be exactly 10 years ago. Huh. Time flies) when I sent a dozen roses to my mom and a dozen roses to my friends Tiffany and Andrea. Why? Because I wanted to.

I think if you spend as many years single as I did after the age of 13 (that being most of them until I met Cathy) you can have two reactions to Valentine's Day. Most people get bitter and depressed about it. And really, I spent most of the rest of the year that way. But one day a year I decided to go the opposite and try and look at the positive side of romance. I never stalked anybody, I just tried to do something fun and romantic for some of the female friends in my life and, for the most part, I think they appreciate it. Although it probably also confused the hell out of them.

I also know there are no shortage of articles and blog posts bitching about Valentine's Day. How it's mere crass commercialization designed to guilt saps into spending money on flowers, candy and other trinkets. And bah humbug to the whole day.

Look, every major event day in the calendar is crass commercialization these day if you're an adult. Not one of them is free of it. And we have so many days in the year that celebrate different things. New Year's is for new starts (and drunkenness). St. Patrick's Day is about drunkenness. Easter is about, hmmmm, I don't know, forgiveness? Spring? Victoria Day is about drunkenness. Canada Day celebrates our country (and more drunkenness). Labour Day celebrates, well, labourers and is a chance for one last blow-out before summer is over. Halloween is about fun and scariness. Remembrance Day is about our veterans and Christmas is about family (and more drunkenness).

So why not one day celebrating romance and love (and probably drunkenness, but how you choose to celebrate the day is up to you)? I don't see any problem with it. Why not be sappy for just one day.

I've actually been a touch remiss the past few years. Getting sloppy, I guess. So I resolved to do better this year. So I got Cathy a dozen Gerber daisies (as a side note, I ordered them about two weeks ago. The florist was so thrilled I ordered them in advance instead of just showing up on the 14th that I thought she was going to hug me). And because I have a new camera to try out, here's a pic.

I also got her some chocolate (chocolate covered raisins, coffee beans and cherries) and a bracelet. So I think I did all right and Cathy certainly seemed to appreciate it. We're going out to dinner tomorrow night to avoid some of the Valentine's Day madness, plus most of the restaurants feature fixed menus with items on it that can kill Cathy.

So I think this Valentine's Day went well. And hope you had a good one as well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Radioactive what?

That I read too many comics is pretty much a given. Cathy is already living in terror of the bookshelf dedicated to comics in the apartment. It's quickly running out of room (and will take a serious dent if I cave and buy the Fantastic Four Omnibus volume I'm looking at) and besides, she never got the whole comic book thing anyway.

But nearly as bad is that I still read comic book related sites. It's my way of compensating since I can't get my weekly fix of comics, I just read the sites and some message boards and there and that keeps me sated until my next fix of graphic novels come in (likely not to happen now until around Easter. I'll have the shakes
by mid-March).

Anyway, the comic world is currently having a small embolism over a mini-series called Spider-Man: Reign, also derisively known as The Dark Spider-Man Returns. Here's probably the best review of the latest issue, although you have to scroll down a bit to read it. I should warn you, the review is rather...explicit.

There is also a fairly obscene, but also obscenely funny, thread on
the Warren Ellis board. Again, not for those who perhaps want to deal with descriptions of Spider-Man's sex life.

It's basically about how Spider-Man's wife, Mary Jane, dies in this (alternate reality) series. And that's apparently because, bub, blood is the only thing radioactive about Spider-Man. This isn't the only time that people have written weird things about sex and super-heroes. There is, of course, the legendary Larry Niven story, Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex. But at least that was done tongue in cheek. By all accounts, the writer is actually trying to be serious, but only managed to come up with seriously bad.

What's even more strange is that Spider-Man 3 is coming in a few months, quite possibly the biggest movie of the year. I don't really know why you tell a story like that now. But hey, what do I know, I only read comics, although I think I might give a pass on this series.

Anyway, enjoy your dose of geeky and highly disturbing right in time for Valentine's Day

Monday, February 12, 2007

Weigh-in and photos

So the whole weight loss thing appears to be sliding away from me. Think I got cocky with the relative success had early on. I slid up another two pounds this week and sit at 239. Which sucks. I think I'm doing ok on the exercise front, but I''m clearly sliding on the eating front. Doesn't help that the secretary near by office is becoming a clearing house for all the chocolate she has in her house.

That, of course, is a cheap cop out. I've just been sliding on the snacking at home and the portions. And since I've discovered that the weight won't magically disappear, it's back to watching what I eat again. Which kind of sucks, but I really would like to lose that 50 pounds by the end of the year.

Anyway, enough whining about weight, a few photos from Sunday when I took the dog for a walk out the Road to Nowhere. Also took the new camera. I think I got some of hte white balance issues worked out. Then again, it helped that it was a bright sunny day. Here are a few pics.

I just like the way the sun looks in this shot.

Just a lucky shot of Boo in mid-flight.

We found this igloo along the side of the road. No one was there and I have no idea how long it had been standing, but I still liked the look of it. Believe it or not, after 18 months in Nunavut, this is my first igloo.

Clearly I'm leading a sheltered life up here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Curling congrats

Well, it's not every day that a Newfoundland team wins a national championship and gets to represent Canada at an international tournament. So a big congratulations to the Stacie Devereaux rink for winning the Junior Women's Curling Championship, 7-6 over Manitoba. And in fine dramatic fashion by taking three in the final end. They now go to Minnesota for the World's. Which is too bad, in a way. You figure if you're going to an international curling final, you'd get to go to Scotland or Sweden. But they get Minnesota. As I recall when Brad Gushue got to the World's he got to go to Utah.

So really, I imagine they're thrilled at winning, but it's too bad they're not getting a better trip out of it.

It's interesting watching this level of curling. When you watch the men and women curl at national events a game can swing on a few inches. There are few total misses, yet you see it a lot more at this level. You certainly saw it in the 10th end when the Manitoba team made a couple of critical errors, including something I've never seen at that level of play - a rock hitting the boards before hitting its target. It certainly make for interesting curling. And a kind of game I can relate to, where you can call the shot, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to get made, no matter how straightforward it appears.

I actually do feel bad for the Manitoba skip. It was her second straight loss at the National final. That's the kind of thing that haunts you for a good long time. I hope she gets over it eventually.

The one thing that is kind of disappointing is that there was no team from Nunavut at the Nationals. There actually is a Junior Men and Junior Women's team in the territory and they'll be competing at the Canada Winter Games in a few weeks. Curling is still pretty basic in Nunavut. Once you get outside of Iqaluit there isn't much happening. And I realize that even if the juniors had played at the Nationals odds are they would have been smoked by everybody. Still, I think they would have had fun and certainly would have learned a lot. It's something to aim for in the future. It would be nice for the territory to at least have the option of make it to the Nationals as even part of a wider Territory team (the Brier and Scott feature one team representing The Yukon/NWT).

And no, this isn't some ploy so that I might some day get to the Brier. That will likely never happen. Hell, as good as it will get for me will likely be next weekend. I'm playing on one of the better teams at the club as a Second in the Furspiel (don't look at me, I didn't come up with the name.) First place is $2000. Plus there is a draw on some tickets on flights to Ottawa. Who needs national championships where there are airplane tickets up for grabs?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wardrobe malfunction

Cathy is still fighting some kind of bug, which is making her a non-happy person. It also means she has to stick around the apartment because even a short walk tends to tire her out quite a bit. That means she's also going slowly insane. Most people don't handle being sick all that well. I think Cathy handles it worse than most because she was sick quite a bit as a kid.

She also got it into her head that the closet was a mess. Specifically, that my side of the closet was a mess and in dire need of purging. So part of my evening has been spent watching her tear through my clothes and saying things like "this doesn't fit anymore, this is too ratty, I don't know why you bought this, do you really need 15 t-shirts, you never wear this anymore" and other such phrases.

You know, I thought conversations like that only happened on sitcoms. Live and learn.

I'll readily admit that I probably have more clothing right now than I have at any other point in my life. And I dislike getting rid of clothes. I don't know why, just one of those things. The stuff that is currently too small for me I still entertain the fantasy that I will fit into it again some time soon (I went to the gym today, so I'm a good boy, although the Chinese food for supper might have cancelled out the hour-long workout). Or that it just seems like a waste. I spent good money on that clothing, just giving it away feels wrong.

Still, there were quite a few sweaters there I will never wear again, along with t-shirts that have seen better days. And, well, it's still a ways off before I fit into a pair of pants with a 36 waist (i.e. 50 pounds off at least).

So there are three bags of clothing awaiting donation to someone less fortunate. Just as soon as I figure out where that is in town.

And hey, if I see someone in town wearing a Duke of Duckworth t-shirt, at least I'll know it found a good home...

One more thing, a couple more pictures, this time of the ravens inhabiting the ruins of The Snack. The weather is supposed to be warmish tomorrow (around -12) so I might try to get around town, or just outside, and get some more pictures. These are a bit better, but I still have much to learn.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Not quite so funny

I think perhaps I'm beginning to soften in my old age. There was a time when I was younger that I certainly wouldn't have passed up the easy zinger and the cheap and cutting shot. And this was to people I might see in the flesh. When they're people to whom the only connection you have with them is what you see on television or read in the newspapers, then it becomes exponentially easier.

But oddly, I'm having problems finding much funny or mean to say about the death of Anna Nicole Smith, for example. Granted, I had little respect and less interest in the woman. She made her living out of keeping her name and face in the tabloids as much as possible. There are less honourable ways of making a living, of course. But tabloid fodder as a career tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth. For example you get the feeling that something is just laying the tall grass for Paris Hilton and that's going to come to a messy end. A karmic retribution, as it were. And sadly, I might feel a smidgen of joy when/if that happens just because I'm hard pressed to think of a bigger waste of genetic material than Paris Hilton.

But I digress.

Anyway, Smith died of what is likely drug related issues leaving behind a five month old daughter with uncertain parentage and a massive lawsuit against a Texas oil family. I don't know, as much as I like mocking, I can't get my heart into this one.

But of course the real zinger for the week is Captain Lisa Nowak. From the start, even with all the details coming out about a love triangle, the bungled kidnapping attempts and, of course, the diaper, I never found it funny. Bizarre, certainly. But never funny. That certainly wasn't the case with much of the coverage coming out of the United States. While I didn't see what Letterman and Leno did, I imagine there were quite a few jokes. Jon Stewart did. And I appreciate that it's such a strange, strange story that it's hard to pass up.

But I never thought it was funny. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, though. However, the stories that have been coming out in the past 24 hours have put a better perspective on things. The tremendous amount of pressure astronauts are under at the best of times. That it tends to be worse for women and even moreso for those who are mothers.

And then there's the kicker – that the coping mechanisms that me or you might take advantage of if we were under high amounts of stress, they won't use them. Your rewards for admitting you have a problem and might be losing it a bit? You get pulled off active duty and quite likely will never get to achieve your life long dream, the on thing you've trained decades for – to get into space.

So if you were losing it, but were still sane enough to know the consequences of admitting it, what would you do? You'd glue them together and pray they won't shatter and fly all over the place. And as it happened with Nowak last week, the pieces apparently finally came apart.

All I can think of is this woman who the world thought had so much, who worked so hard and went and lost her mind and there was no one she could talk to. I just can't find it funny. It's sad. It's tragic.

So I guess I'm becoming more sympathetic in my old age.

Except over Paris Hilton. Nobody should feel any humanity towards her.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A poisoned house

I think it was either Ed or Simon that was critical of the editorial writing of The Telegram. To be fair, good editorial writing is a damn sight harder than most people think. Just look at what's passing for an editorial in this week's Muse (sorry Sheena, but at the next ARCUP or CUP conference for the love of God get someone in to teach proper editorial writing. That's a column, not an editorial) for more proof.

It's hard. I did it for both The Packet and The Express and while I'm quite proud of some of the editorials I've written, I'm sure I had my share of clunkers. And I was only doing them once a week, sometimes only once a month. I can only imagine writing them every day. And perhaps it's different in dailies, but in every weekly I've ever worked for, editorials are normally the last thing written, and generally when you're pretty hard up on a deadline. So the proper thought, logic and argument doesn't always go into them that it should.

However, I liked this editorial in the Telegram on Thursday. The editorial is spot on about what it's like to cover St. John's City Council. I did my time in hell. I thought it would be exciting, then got disillusioned, then began a running commentary with my fellow reporters and eventually got to the point where I was done with it.

I like politics. I like covering politics. Hell, I got my start in journalism covering CSU meetings at MUN. Covering City Council is a gruelling, punishing assignment. There were times I wanted to yell at councillors for being idiots. Myself and other reporters would chat about how stupid some of the councillors were being. I was openly disdainful of one. When council considered putting aside somewhere between $5,000 to $10,000 for the creation of a St. John's Poet Laurette I told several of them that I would write stories on it that would make their eyes bleed because I considered it such an idiotic idea.

Understand, this is all very bad, very unprofessional behaviour for a journalist. I'm more than a touch embarrassed when I think back on it. But I swear, it's the building, or something in the water or just the general atmosphere of the place that makes you unprofessional. I don't think I was a bad reporter. I know several of my comrades in arms were among the better reporters in town...when on other assignments. But in there, you became almost as the lot of them.

The editorial writer nailed it in this truly is a poison house when you can break even seasoned journalists into unprofessional behaviour. But it's also true that we can grovel to editors and ask for our freedom. God help the poor bastard who work there and have to deal with them day in and day out. I can only assume they're heavily medicated after their first two or three years.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A conspiracy next door

I forgot to mention my weigh-in on Monday. I did do it, just forgot to post it. I was 237, up one pound. Motherf*%ker...

And yes, I know it could be increased muscle mass because muscle weights more than fat. And I'm not radically discouraged. I think I just got cocky off the start and figured this would be easy. Guess again. Hopefully with the car back we'll be making it to the gym on a more regular basis than the sporadic times we've been getting there the past couple of weeks.

Oh yes, we have the car back, 19 days after we put it in the garage. The good news? Shipping was about a quarter what they estimated, so that's good. The bad news? Because of all the rust underneath the car, it took several hours longer than they thought. Final total? About $3,300.

So I picked up the car, asked if he wanted the left arm, right arm or Visa (sadly opted for the Visa) drove back to work in the car, which seems to be running quite smoothly, and then went into my office, closed the door and whacked my head off the desk for a few minutes.

I've never spent that much on car repairs in my life. Which makes me lucky, I know. Still, gah. I hope the mechanic enjoys the trip to St. Lucia with the money because that's likely where we would have ended up. I've tried to tell myself that at least we got airmiles, so we're not that much closer to Australia (or New Zealand). It's cold comfort though.

In other news, the fire department is steadily coming to the conclusion that a fat fire might have caused The Snack to have burned down. Which will not be one of the great shockers of all time when that is released.

But what is amusing is the reaction of the ravens to the ruins. We went out this morning and there was about 40 or 50 ravens pitched on the rooftop of our building, Arctic Ventures or the wires, plus all the ones on different part of the wreckage. They apparently have decided to claim the ruins for their own. Then there's the noise they make, which can be a caw or a kind of clicking noise. They're a very vocal bird.

We walked out this morning not paying attention until we suddenly noticed all the ravens and paused. I turned to Cathy and said 'Dear, I think we've entered a Hitchcock movie." She agreed and we quickly vacated the area.

Sadly they were gone lunch time otherwise I would have taken a photo. Perhaps tomorrow.

As a side note, I was curious about what a group of ravens are called and found this site. This is what they said: "A group of Ravens is called 'An Unkindness'. It can also be a 'Constable' or 'Conspiracy', though, depending on what they are doing at the time. For example, an unkindness of ravens might torment a dog and steal its food. A constable of ravens is stationed at the Tower of London. A conspiracy of ravens might be seen lurking in the shadows of a garbage dump."

You know, I really like those names. Basically when I came out this morning I was looking at a conspiracy of ravens. And I've certainly seen an unkindness of ravens in the past. But conspiracy works. For one thing, the buggers are hard to photograph. They're just black shapes. Here's about the best shot I got from an attempt to photograph one over the weekend.

They're just menacing dark blobs. I'm sure they can be photographed and I plan on having many more attempts at getting a good shot of one. I'm just saying, they're crafty buggers.

Then again, those involved with conspiracies tend to be.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Test photos

So I've had a chance to play with the new camera a bit. I'm happy with it, but I obviously still have a lot to learn. It's not a professional camera, but it's obviously more advanced than an amateur one. There are a lot of features to master and play around with. Enough was spent on it; I don't want to leave it on the automatic features. Which means getting a feel of what features I need to use and what ones are fine, but only for special occasions.

Let's take this one for example.

Which is a perfectly fine shot of Boo. It's shot inside in crappy light and I had to use the flash. I dislike using flash, but kind of necessary in this case.

Then I used Photoshop Elements to touch it up and came up with this.

I like the second one better. I want to figure out how to do that without having to use Photoshop to work out the right elements. I know most professionals use Photoshop to fix photos, but I like to think they are just tweaking them. This is a fairly big change.

Although not as big as this one. This is Cathy and Boo. I've taken a lot of pictures of Boo because he doesn't really care. Cathy smiles politely for a few and then suggests if I try to take many more of her she might try out the new zoom feature of my lens to get a good shot of my colon.

Anyway, Cathy and Boo before.

And Cathy and Boo after the wonders of Photoshop.

Again, quite the bit of difference. And yeah it was a gray day outside. And yeah, snow can do weird things if you not completely sure how to shoot it. Still, I'm not completely happy with the results so far. It's not the camera, I'm pretty sure. I'm just not used to shooting with something this advanced.

I'll get better, I'm sure. It's just going to take practice. On the upside, the battery held up really well. It was cold, but not frigid on Saturday when I took the outside shots. Probably around -20. We've had colder, but that's still pretty harsh for most electronics. I had it outside for about 30 minutes and there was no problem with the electronics and the battery life was even pretty good. No noticeable dip. I've been outside with my other camera and saw the battery life die by about 40 per cent in 20 minutes.

Now I just have to start shooting to the level the camera is capable of. I almost wish there was a course here I could take part in. Maybe I'll look some people up when I'm in town the summer. I'm not a bad photographer. Just wish I was better.

Monday, February 05, 2007

We survived

Well, we managed to survive the big blowout last night with no apparent damage. We're not out of it yet, the wind is still howling around 80 clicks or more and the window still sounds like a buzz saw going at full tilt. But it didn't break. And, nearly as important, the cable held until some point last night after we went to bed so I got to see the Super Bowl. And since I was cheering for the Colts, it was a good evening despite the weather.

Things are a bit of a mess around Iqaluit. School was closed, there were power back-outs throughout the city today. I was off work, although I'm not entirely certain I was supposed to be. But there seemed like there was a bit of confusion around town, what with the power problems.

We got hit a few times, but we managed to keep our power most of the time. There were people who lost it 5 p.m. yesterday and are still doing without. The temperature hasn't been too bad, around -5 and even with wind chill it's only dipped down to around -20. Which I appreciate still sounds pretty damn cold and I wouldn't want to be in it without heat. But then again, it could be the -30 or so we were having last week coupled with this wind. Which would have knocked the wind chill down to the -60 range.

And that is pretty fucking cold.

Then again, no matter what the weather, that doesn't mean that kids won't go out and play in it.

Some kids across the street around lunch time. I shot it from the living room window.

By the way, as I'm sure everyone has noticed now, I've changed around the blog a bit. This is pretty much it for the changes, unless anyone has a suggestion for more improvements, this is the way the blog will look for awhile. I'm pleased with it. I'm sure it could be fancier and whatnot, but I think it looks pretty decent.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

In it now...

Well, they were forecasting a blizzard today and tomorrow and myself and Cathy were mocking it. Not much was happening earlier and given Environment Canada's ability to predict these things, we thought it unlikely to get one.

Which goes to show what happens when you mock the weather up here.

About 90 minutes or so it kicked up. In the space of 10 minutes it went from relatively clear to no visibility and high winds. However, this is presenting us with some challenges.

The lights have already flickered a couple of times, so odds are we're going to lose power at some point. Given that this is Super Bowl Sunday, it will be a sad state of affairs for me. I suspect Cathy will be quite happy. It remains to be seen how quickly this place will lose heat. It was never much of a problem at the 6-story. With all the apartments the place tended to keep warm. Also, we were on the same power grid as the hospital, so on the rare occasion it went, it never stayed out for long.

But the real challenge might come from the window.

Some may recall I mentioned we had one of our windows broken back in October. All of our windows are double-paned and while we complained, nothing was done about it. Other than a condensation problem there wasn't too much of a hassle. This is also the north. Things happen at their own pace. We had pretty much accepted that nothing would be done until May or June.

However, this blizzard is coming from a different direction than other storms. And it is hitting that pane of glass in just the right way. It's currently vibrating like a hummingbird. We've done what we can for the moment - put some tape on the glass in the event that it breaks the glass doesn't go everywhere. We've also put a blanket up in front of it to try and contain any glass.

I hope it holds, but I suspect we'll be burning some luck and karma for that to happen. Needless to say, we'll be talking to the building managers to get something done on Monday or, more likely, Tuesday. We really don't want to go through this again.

Anyway, I suspect the internet is going to go at some point, so I now bid you all adieu and will let you know how we toughed out the night...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Lookin' for love

Many of you who read this blog already know who Dups is. For those of you more fortunate than the rest of us, here's a picture of him.

This is actually one of the more sensible pictures of him that I have.

Anyway, much to his mother's despair, he remains single. Various attempts by his parents have been made to find the right woman for him, but they have failed. Dups own ability to find the love of his life have also been less than successful.

That's why he's now turning to outside help in his quest. He's offered up the challenge to write a personal ad for him, which he will then put up on Lavalife.

I'm currently working on a couple (oh like Dups could be summed up in a mere 2,000 words) which I will send off in the next day or so. But I hardly want to be the only one. After all, the more personal ads he has out there, the better the odds he'll meet the right woman (Or man. There have been rumours). So I encourage you to go and write a personal listing for Dups. Even if you don't know him, feel free to write one for him. Make things up. I certainly intend to.

The first one I have for him is: "Male, breathing, seeks female into the same." It's and oldie but a goodie. I used it myself back in the days I perused Lavalife. And it actually worked. Those women actually saw it as a sign of a sense of humour as opposed to actual desperation.

Whether or not it will work with Dups, I don't know. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't women get suspicious of men still single in their early 30s. Especially of ones who have never been married?

Anyway, go help Dups out. He can use all of it he can.

Friday, February 02, 2007

No mercy

There are times when I read something and I actually get excited. I have to stop reading for a second, make myself stop bouncing up and down in my seat and calm myself a bit. Because you know what's coming is good. A finely crafted piece of writing that I need to savor and not rush through.

Now me being me, this normally happens when it's a lovingly craft piece of evil. Where one person has taken it upon themselves to spank someone else for something really stupid they've done. And by God, Rick Mercer can really do that when he feels like it.

I don't catch the Mercer Reporter as often as I should. Weird time zone difference with where I live (we actually get CBC out of Yellowknife here, so shows that should air at 8 p.m. come on at 10 p.m. I constantly forget the time difference. And yes, I know most of it is online, but there are only so many hours in the day I can spend online.) mean I tend to miss it. But as much I love his video bit, I think I like his written rants more. You pay more attention to what he's saying and not the visuals he's using. Never forget that Mercer is one of the best writers in the country when he puts his mind to it.

But this is glorious. Glorious! I was roaring with laughter at the end of the first paragraph. It is as excellent a piece of vivisection as I have read this year. I mean, I have crafted a few attack articles in my day, both on this blog and when I was a columnist. And I thought I did a pretty decent job. However, I bow to the Master on this.

"Noreen Golfman, sadly, is Margaret Wente without the wit."

If you're not from Newfoundland, admittedly, you might not get it. If you're from Newfoundland you're wincing in pain. That, my friends, is about the most evil insult I have read in quite some time. And it only gets better after that! I only wish I could read her original piece, if for no other reason so I could better appreciate this dismantling.

I've had small dealings with Noreen in the past. Technically I was her editor at The Muse when she wrote articles promoting the MUN cinema series. I did her film course and failed, but I suspect that had much more to do with me being in my last semester at MUN and wanting to be out of there than the quality of her course. Although I recall being bored an awful lot.

But in the intervening years she has annoyed me more and more. I'm not entirely certain why. There's just a certain smugness and arrogance that rubbed me the wrong way. How she keeps ending up on the CBC or in print is beyond me. She does good things around town, sure. But watching her being cut down like this fills my dark, cynical heart with joy.

I'm a bad, bad man, I know. I just wish I could write this well

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Potter-y barn

So the word has come down that the last Harry Potter novel will come out on July 21. And for many people in the world the massive withdrawal symptoms will begin at some point on July 22 with the realization that there will be no more Harry Potter. In fact, if the rumours are right, Rowling may well snuff him.

Oh sure, there are the movies. But that's really not the same, is it? No more books. I'm wondering if there will be mass suicides when it all sinks in.

Myself and Cathy will manage somehow. And at least there will be no debate on who gets to read the book first this time. I won't say we came close to breaking up over this issue previously, but there were certainly... discussions. We weren't together for the first four books, so that wasn't an issue. I think for "Order of the Phoenix" we actually bought two copies, so that was settled. But for "The Half-Blood Prince", well, there were issues. I needed to review it for The Express. I had a comp copy from the publisher, but it arrived late, so I had to steal the one Cathy pre-ordered. I had an unhappy wife for a day or so until I finished reading it.

However, she wins on the new one. As it turns out, we likely won't be together when it comes out. She'll be in St. John's and I'll still be in Iqaluit. And given the precarious state of our bookshelves (we will be out of space before the end of this year, I suspect) getting two copies isn't an option. And there's no chance in hell she'll wait until getting back to Iqaluit in late August to read the book.

So she'll get it and I'll have to do my best to avoid spoilers for a couple of weeks. She will also likely get to go to the fantastic Granny Bates launch party. I know Chapters does them, but the one for Granny Bates is a lot more fun. I'm jealous. Granted, I almost died at the other one, but hey...

(I thought I had mentioned this before, but I can't find it. Long story short, I covered the last Potter launch at Granny Bates and was standing next to Sean Panting, who was MC. When midnight came he opened the box and then instead of handing out the books to the hordes of children screaming and begging for it, began to read the first paragraph. It's not often I've feared for my life as a reporter. That was one of the times.)

Oh, and in what I'm sure is a purely coincidental event, at the same time the date of the final Potter book was being announced the production of Equus released some publicity photos. What is Equus? It's a controversial play being mounted in London about a teenage boy's erotic attraction to a horse. And it stars Daniel Radcliffe, who just so happens to play Potter in the movies. Here are a few photos.

Got to admit, it takes balls to star in a play like that, or to release those kinds of photos. In fact, were it not for some judicious cropping and Photoshopping I suspect you might actually see Radcliffe's in those photos.

And here's one with an actual woman as opposed to a horse.

I wonder what those photos will do to Radcliffe's teenage girl fanbase? They get to almost see Harry naked. But he's with a horse and that's weird. Although, and I can't explain exactly why, I suspect his gay fanbase just went waaaayyyy up.