Friday, October 31, 2008

Moving on up

So funny thing happened today....

A little over a week ago I put in for a move of convenience at work. Now, a move of convenience is about the lowest priority for housing that there is. They're normally trying to find housing for new employees or other people with more serious issues than "I kinda don't like the place we're living in, find us another one."

And the thing is, we do like the place we're living in, if only it was much larger. The building is great, we like the neighbours, I finally have the supers in shape (a pipe under the kitchen sink broke this week. I went down at 9 am to mention it to them. By noon, it was fixed), plus we have a free washer and dryer and free plug in for the car. And we're close to Ventures, Northmart and Cathy's work.

It's just too damn small. How small? I finally got the measurements of the apartment the other day....47.3 square metres. Or about 155 square feet. For two adults with a lot of stuff and a dog, that's not much room.

Anyway, I put in for the move, figuring it would take easily at least six months, if not a year. Except this morning I get a call at work. It seems there's an apartment available if we're interested. The only thing is, it's in the same apartment building that we already live in, but the apartment itself is larger. Do we want it?

Oh yeah, we'll take it.

Well, not officially. We have to take a look at it on Monday. But it is a third larger - 70 square metres (about 230 square feet) - which is good. Assuming the place isn't a wreck, I imagine we'll take it.

Here's the snag...the last time we moved up here, Cathy was back in Newfoundland and I had a week to move from the old place to here because we were on our way to San Francisco for vacation. Well, something similar is happening this time. If we accept, we have seven days to move. Which isn't a burden. Under ordinary circumstances, it would be no problem. Just drag some stuff upstairs. If you can't do that in seven days, there's something wrong.

Except, of course, I'm in the middle of getting ready for the Mixed Curling Nationals. And starting on Tuesday is when things start kicking into full-time crazy because we assume control of the arena and have to get it in shape for Saturday. On top of helping once the teams actually arrive. And we're looking at trying to move in the middle of this.

We must be insane. I predict little sleep in the next two weeks.


The other thing I was going to mention this evening is the big news going through the territory, that being Leona Aglukkaq being named as Health Minister. I think you would have gotten good odds, and made quite a bit of money, picking her to get the Health portfolio.

Look, Health is the most gruelling, evil and thankless cabinet position there is. No matter what you do, people believe there's not enough money, doctors and nurses. That people have to wait too long for treatment and that the government is, at best, uncaring about your problems. It takes a special kind of personality to not only be able to handle that kind of pressure, but to also want the job.

I hope she does well at it. I didn't vote for her, but that doesn't mean I wish she fails at the job. If nothing else I find the prospect of the two most powerful politicians in Nunavut being women appealing, if the rumour about Eva Aariak possibly in the running for the premier's job is true. It almost, but not quite, makes up for the lack of women elected in the last election.

So best of luck to her. But it's going to be one hell of a rough ride for her, make no mistake about that.

Last Five
1. International echo - Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint
2. Prison food - Ben Folds
3. Thunder on the mountain - Bob Dylan
4. Thieves in the temple - Prince
5. Pavlov's dog - Drive*

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Snow day and curling

You know, for a snow day, it turned out to be a reasonably eventful day. Granted, I still ended up going to work in the morning because I made this mistake of listening to Raven Rock instead of CBC. And Raven Rock never announced work was closed because of bad weather. So in I went, only to discover no one was there.

Which would be annoying enough, except in the process of getting to work, I managed to break the door handle to the truck (the door was frozen, I pulled on it and it snapped off in my hand) and the passenger side windshield wiper also broke.

So yeah, a touch grumpy when I got home.

On the upside, I got a nice chunk of the book edited today. So I'm now about half way through the editing process. The book is currently 228 pages long, I have 115 pages done, so that's not bad. Of course, the hard work is ahead. The book started to go off the rails around page 175, so we'll see what it's like when I hit those pages.

And the other nice thing was finally being able to throw a few curling rocks this evening. The ice is finally down after a few delays. I curled eight ends, which was fine. I will suffer tomorrow. I always suffer after the first few games, but it was still nice.

Next week is when things start to get silly. We take over the hockey arena on Tuesday and begin transforming it for the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship. I've been pretty good about not beating that championship to death on the blog, but I suspect that's going to change next week when the Mixed begins to take over my life. Especially since I'm the head of the media committee, which means I'll be dealing with reporters on a regular basis and having to be nice to them. I may well rupture something.

Anyway, if you're in Iqaluit and want to help out, more warm bodies are always welcome. Or if you can't do that, then swing by and catch a game. Tickets for each draw and ridiculous cheap ($2 a game) and a week long pass is also silly cheap ($35 allows you to see all the games). Here's the draw schedule.

Anyway, off to bed. More tomorrow, especially on the big political news of the day for Nunavut.

Last Five
1. Fade together - Franz Ferdinand
2. Bandages - Hot Hot Heat
3. Twisted logic - Coldplay
4. Marys of the sea - Tori Amos
5. Godspeed - Ron Hynes*

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Almost sounds like a plan

Well folks, you know people are paying a bit more attention to Nunavut bloggers when the politicians start using us for making their arguments. This anonymous comment showed up on at least three Nunavut blogs - mine, Jackie and Kent. I suspect others might have gotten something similar.

I was hesitant to comment on this. The anonymous commenter is clearly in some way linked with Tagak Curly. And it's about the worst kept secret in Nunavut that Curly plans to run for the premier's job. When you're a GN employee, mixing politics and blogging is a dangerous business. I felt distinctly uncomfortable talking about the Nunavut election, but it was a big event, it was my first territorial election and I wanted to talk at least a little bit about it. I'm not 100 per cent sure commenting on this is all that wise, but I will offer up a few comments.

So I'll say this much just to cover my ass...this is my opinion and not the opinion of anyone else. So for those of you in the know, don't be looking for hidden agendas, all right?

As for Curly's 10 point plan, I won't be commenting on each point. At least one of his points pertains directly to a department I work for and I might not be the smartest guy in the world, but I'm not quite that stupid.

But in broad strokes? I think I can sum it up best with a quote from the West Wing. We're replaying it - again - and we watched the episode "Noel" last night (one of my favourites. It's practically a master's class not just in script writing, but also in editing and sound) and there's a line Josh uses that I think works in this case.

"There are only two things that ever stop the government from doing anything: money or politics."

Which is my way of saying many of these things are very nice ideas. However, considering all the priorities in Nunavut, given that something in excess of 90 per cent of the GN's budget comes from the federal government (I stand to be corrected on that figure, but I think it's right), that the world economy is teetering on the edge of its worst crisis in almost 80 years and that the Harper government is already making rumblings about the possibility of a deficit in the next fiscal year, trying to get money for some of these things is going to be a real challenge.

It's not enough to say "I have these clever ideas I want to enact if I get to be premier", it's also a nice idea to explain exactly where you're going to get the money or how you're going to persuade a suddenly much more impoverished federal government to cough up the money. Yes, we have a Conservative MP who may well get a junior cabinet position in the new Conservative government. But trust a Newfoundlander, that's hardly your guarantee that the Gates of Bountiful are going to spread wide open and a torrent of cash is going to flow through.

There are any number of things Nunavut needs - tons of infrastructure, more housing, more social services programs - but if you couldn't wrestle the money from Ottawa when there were $10 billion a year surpluses, I'm not sure how much easier it becomes if there are deficits in the future. No matter how noble and just your cause.

I like the idea of listing out your priorities. I also like the idea of explaining exactly how you're going to accomplish them. One down....

Last Five
1. Dance, dance - Fall Out Boy
2. Be my Yoko Ono - Barenaked Ladies
3. Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve
4. Teenage love song - Rilo Kiley
5. I wish I was the moon - Neko Case*

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

US predictions

Since we're on a bit of a political roll, and the US election is now mercifully into its final week, I figured now is as as good a time as any to make my prediction about the US election.

Obviously I think Obama is going to win. That's not much of a prediction. However, I'm also going to predict what states he's going to win and how many electoral votes he's going to get compared to McCain. In most states, the winner of that states popular vote wins all the electoral votes. There are at least two exception to that, as I understand it, and they are Maine and Nebraska. Those states offer up their electoral votes based on who wins each congressional district.

Normally that doesn't matter too much. However, there are some who believe that one of Nebraska's congressional districts might swing towards Obama. For the record, I don't think that's going to happen although at least one of my readers is going to strongly disagree with me.

So which states are going to go to whom? Oh, and the list includes the District of Columbia.

Obama (30) - California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, North Carolina,Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.

McCain (21)- Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.

So that means Obama will get 375 electoral votes, McCain will get 163. Which is a pretty healthy landslide.

The states italicized are the ones that I'm not 100 per cent sure on. Giving both Ohio and Florida to Obama was a hard decision given both states' history of screwing over Democrats. Still, both states have polling giving it to Obama. And given the vast money and ground advantage Obama has in Florida it's hard not to favour him.

Indiana has been swinging towards Obama, but I think McCain manages to hold on. I hesitated on North Carolina, but there's quite the senate race happening in that state, one the Democrats are favoured in so that might help Obama in that state. Both Montana and North Dakota are toss-ups, so I split the difference. As for Missouri, the state has one of these track records of backing the winner for president for most of the last 100 years, so I think it'll break for Obama.

We'll see how close I am. Feel free to offer up your predictions in the comments section. Oh, and by the way, I reserve the right to change my numbers if something catastrophic happens between now and election day to either candidate. Although really, it's kind of hard to figure out how much worse things can get for McCain at this point, what with the advisers for McCain sniping at Palin and Palin advisers sniping at McCain. This is what happens when a campaign is on the verge of imploding, which is what's happening to McCain/Palin '08.

Revised - Oooops....I forgot South Carolina, which I'll put into the McCain column. That means the revised total should read: Obama - 367, McCain - 171.

Last Five
1. Traffic - Lloyd
2. Rain - Hawksley Workman
3. Savoy truffle - The Beatles
4. Cologne Cerrone Houdini - Goldfrapp
5. Dance club (comedy) - Bill Hicks*


I was planning on doing some more updating last night, but a combination of slow results and my internet collapsing prevented that. Ah well... For those curious about all of the results, go here.

Well, it appears that I have no future as a political psychic in Nunavut, given the election results. I thought the premier was probably going to lose, and he didn't. He did have a much closer race this time, but 340-296 is still a comfortable majority.

Nor was I really expecting that level of carnage among sitting MLAs and cabinet ministers. I think between retirements and defeats there are only two cabinet ministers (including the premier) from the last sitting returning. And although there were a lot more women running this time, only one was elected Eva Aariak in Iqaluit East.

I guess we'll see how all of this shapes up in the weeks to come. There are still two by-elections yet to happen. Plus the new MLAs have to sit down and figure out a cabinet and a premier. Just because Okalik wants to be premier again, doesn't necessarily mean it will happen, not with the way the government is run up here.

CBC has the full, gory details here for those who are curious.

Last Five
1. For dear life - Andrew LeDrew
2. Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels) - The Arcade Fire
3. Understand - Joss Stone
4. Chin up, cheer up - Ryan Adams*
5. Addicted - Hawksley Workman

Monday, October 27, 2008

Waiting for the results

I was warned earlier that election results in Nunavut redefine slow and that it could be midnight before the results for Iqaluit were known. And yes, I knew this was likely to be true because things work at a different pace up north. And results coming in late from smaller communities made a degree of sense, but I really did figure that Iqaluit results might come in a bit quicker.

But as I write this, the rest of Nunavut are getting their results, but Iqaluit? Not so much. One poll, that's it. The three Iqaluit ridings have a total of nine polls. Two and a half hours after the polls closed, they have the results for one of them.

Dear God. I imagine by this time next Tuesday Obama will be giving his acceptance speech. Although I have a degree of sympathy of the CBC "elections desk" people, who are desperately trying to fill airtime while Elections Nunavut, I don't know, counts votes using an abacus or something.

Anyway, how's it going so far? Well, a bit of a bloodbath for incumbents. A couple of ministers have gone down to defeat and at least one other is looking to be on life support. So this could be a very different looking government when they all gather to elect a premier and ministers.

Speaking of which, as of 10:30 p.m., the premier's fate remains up in the air. I'll update when there's more to report.

Last Five
1. Stomp dance - Robbie Robertson
2. Say hello to the angels - Interpol
3. Metal airplanes - Matthew Good
4. Think for yourself - The Beatles
5. Things to forget - Sarah Harmer

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book writing

Is it weird that the premier and a campaign worker showed up at our apartment this evening, asked us to make sure we got out and voted, and then gave Cathy a hat and a reusable shopping bag, both with his name on them?

Maybe it isn't. I'm just saying, I think it's a little weird.

Not much else to write about today. I've been focusing on editing the book today and I find it hard to be creative on the blogging front and creative on the novel front at the same time. I've got 13 chapters completed. And by completed I mean written, edited on the screen, printed off and editing on the page. I have 24 chapters written so far.

Why mention the book again? Well, I have a plan. Well, another new plan at any rate. As many of you may know, the first of November starts National Novel Writing Month. I've done that successfully once before...some of you may recall my ill-fated and terrible werewolf novel.

The plan this year isn't to start a new book, although I have ideas for about six different books right now. No, the idea is to finish this book by the end of November. All of it. Write the ending, edit it and be over and done with this book by the end of November. That's not exactly the goal of National Novel Writing Month, but I figure as long as you finish a book, no matter if you've already started it, then you've still achieved something.

So that's it. "Paper Trails" will be done by November 30. I'm sure I can keep picking at it long after that, but at some point you have to send your baby out in the world. And that's where she's going in early December. I might wait until January as I'm not sure many publishers are looking at new books right before Christmas.

And then we will see.

But yeah, I'll try and do some updates on how the book is going during November. I might even, if people ask nicely, put up an excerpt or two. And hey, if any of you want to start putting book excerpts up on your blog, I'd love to read them

Last Five
1. Darlington County (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
2. Boys - The Beatles
3. 48 hours - Sean Panting*
4. Star witness - Neko Case
5. I am sound - The Dandy Warhols

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weirder than you think

A couple of quick things on a Saturday night...

1. Apparently you know you've been married awhile when you do rock, paper, scissors to see who will take the dog out for a walk and we each threw out the same move seven times in a row. Kind of creepy, really. (I won, eventually)

2. The curling meetings will never end. Never. I had one this morning on learning about being a statistician for the Mixed Nationals (apparently I am very mean with my scoring, players should be worried if I'm scoring their game). Another one tomorrow morning with the rest of the executive. I think there might be one in the afternoon for all volunteers interested in helping out with the Mixed Nationals, and there's at least one other meeting on Wednesday.

I work for the government and I don't have this many meetings.

3. How can you tell you live in the north? When you call Pizza Hut, as we did last night, and tried to order a pizza. We couldn't get one because the dough didn't come up in the plane that day. We tried calling the Frob to get a pizza, but they had a private function and couldn't do pizza. Therefore, that was pretty much it for pizza in Iqaluit.

(Yes, the Storehouse has pizza, but it sucks to an almost unbelievable degree. And $100 a month membership is a bit much to get some decent pizza on a Friday night at the Racquetball club).

We settled for a McCain's pizza instead.

4. Tried to grab a quick lunch today after my curling meeting and Cathy spent the morning organizing her class. The first place we went to, a coffee shop at the Frobisher was, no kidding, closed for lunch. The second place was Fantasy Palace, where one poor bastard was run off his feet because his employee didn't bother to show up. Lunch was either a ham sandwich, an egg sandwich or a chicken wrap.

5. Things start to get weird and ugly in the last stages of the Nunavut election. Remember how I said you didn't normally see that many campaign posters for elections up here? Clearly I was an idiot. The city is plastered with them. They're going up faster than the vandals can tear them down. My favourites are the ones going up on buildings currently being constructed (will they just build over them?) or that Arctic Ventures has completely abandoned any notion of impartiality, what you your ability as a customer to grab a Hunter Tootoo (Iqaluit Centre) button and some Elisapee Sheutiapik (Iqaluit West) campaign literature at the cash when you're paying for your groceries.

Plus, there are these stories stirring the pot in the last few days. I think I'll be glad when Tuesday morning happens and there will only be one election left for me to follow and then I can finally slip into a coma.

People sometimes think I exaggerate that things are a bit....different in the north. No, I do not. I underplay them if anything.

Last Five
1. Stepping out - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
2. The miracle of childbirth (comedy) - Patton Oswald* (because it's that damn funny)
3. Sea of a million face (live) - Allison Crowe
4. Tryin' to throw your arms around the world - U2
5. I'll work for your love - Bruce Springsteen

Friday, October 24, 2008

Arrival day

Not much to report today, alas. After we got home from work our sea lift magically arrived. We order it back it June, it was supposed to arrive on the mid-September North mart sea lift, but was delayed by at least a month, making Cathy unhappy. And to paraphrase from the won't like Cathy when she's unhappy.

So finally after regular "where's my sea lift?" calls to North mart, it arrived. The good side to ordering with North mart is they deliver to your house. The bad side is that you don't get anything that isn't already at the store. So if you want some variety or something new, good luck with that.

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures from the sealift delivery. This is, for the record, about $3,000 worth of food and beverage, including shipping costs, just to give you an idea of how much that amount of money gets you. And miraculously, Cathy managed to find places for just about all of it in our very small apartment.

And yes, that's a lot of pop....but it will last us until next September at least.

And where was I this evening when Cathy was doing all of this? At another curling meeting. I have another one tomorrow morning and probably another Sunday morning. The Mixed Nationals are now about two weeks away, so this is when things start to get deeply crazy. But I'm sure it will be fun....when we all start to breath again.

Last Five
1. The Boulevard of broken dreams - Diana Krall
2. Dark streets of London - The Pogues
3. A well respected man - The Kinks
4. Four kicks - Kings of Leon
5. Every little thing she does is magic - The Police*

Thursday, October 23, 2008

12 days

Let's see what I've spotted online regarding the US election that I think is of interest.

A fairly glowing profile of Obama by Time magazine's Joe Klein. He wasn't the biggest believer in Obama throughout much of the electoral process, but seems to think much more highly of him now.

A pretty damning look at the McCain campaign from Robert Draper of The New York Times Sunday Magazine. It shows a campaign that never managed to find its focus or central narrative and completely shatters any notion that Sarah Palin was properly vetted for the position of VP. She was picked for purely cynical political reasons - they thought she could help shake up the campaign - rather than any rational belief that she could actual perform the job.

And with polls starting to turn devastatingly against McCain (he's losing in Montana!?), this is the point in the campaign where the rats start to abandon ship. You're going to see a lot more people start to speak out where they think the campaign went wrong. After all, they still have careers as political operatives, strategists, fundraiser and whatnot to consider.

Oh, and it's not just political operative rats that will start looking for a life raft. I've been wondering it and Marc Ambinder (who has done some top notch reporting this election) wonders if Palin is about to cut McCain lose. Oh, she's not going to stop campaigning or anything, but McCain's political future essentially ends on November 5. He's 72 years old. He's never going to run for president again. Hell, he might not even run for the senate again.

But Palin? She's young, has sucked up to a specific wing of the Republican party very efficiently and will learn a lot from this experience. So don't be surprised in the closing days of the campaign if she starts talking about things she thinks will help her get the nomination in 2012 (a constitutional ban on gay marriage, a total abortion ban, completely against stem cell research, etc) even if it means going against her "boss."

We haven't seen the last of her and I won't be at all surprised to see her as the Republican nominee in 2012....assuming she survives her reelection bid as governor of Alaska in 2010, of course.

But it is a sure bet that $150,000 clothing and hair shopping spree is going to hang on her for the rest of this election.

And some final thoughts:

When you're using animal feces and contemplating the using of electrical current to protect your lawn signs for a candidate you know things are getting weird.

A couple of cute and touching voting stories out there. This one is about three elderly Jewish ladies and the, well he sounds a bit like a redneck, who helped them vote for Obama. And was so touched by them that he decided to vote for Obama as well.

And while I like to think of myself as a cynic, even this story about a 90-year-old woman breaking down and weeping after she had voted because she never thought she would live long enough to vote for a black candidate for president had me getting a bit misty.

Sometime next week I'll make my prediction on which states each candidate will win. Feel free to offer up your predictions as well. I want to see how things shakedown the weekend first. I don't think things are going to suddenly go sideways for Obama, but you never know...

Last Five
1. Tired of pretending - Blue Rodeo
2. See your sunshine - Paul McCartney
3. Something beautiful - Tracy Bonham
4. Spiritude - Ron Sexsmith
5. Walter Reed - Michael Penn*

Ground game

I don't pretend to have any major insights into the race in Iqaluit West. Pardon the Iqaluit-centric egotism, but it does feel like a race that a lot of people in Nunavut are watching. Hell, even outside of Nunavut. This is obviously due to Premier Paul Okalik running and Iqaluit Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik challenging him.

A lot of the talk I was hearing around town was that Okalik would win this seat. Perhaps not the blow-outs he had the last couple of times he ran, but he's still premier of Nunavut and, well, I don't know a province or territory in Canada where you don't give the edge to a sitting premier in any district contest. Unless the sitting premier is loathed and a complete screw-up. And while I'm sure there are people around the territory with strong opinions regarding the premier, I suspect there aren't that many who loathe him or think he's a complete screw-up.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Okalik's presumed victory....Sheutiapik appears to be running a stronger campaign than he is. Almost the second nominations closed Sheutiapik had signs up in the district. Lots of them. Ordinarily I'd dismiss this as simply a willingness to spend lots more money. And hell, she's obviously well known in town, being the mayor and all. But Okalik is the premier and has been for nine years. He has a bit more name recognition going for him.

No, the interesting thing about the signs wasn't that they were stuck up in public areas - they were on people's houses. Lots of them. In fact, I'd say I've seen in excess of 25 signs up on people's houses or in apartment windows since the election was called. Might not seem like a lot, but remember, the population base for districts here are small (even with strong voter turn-out I will be surprised if more than 1,500 votes are cast). Plus, I might have seen about five posters for Okalik. I haven't canvassed the district and made a list of signs. There might be an area where Okalik has plenty of signs up and I just haven't seen it. But in terms of the signs on the houses war, Sheutiapik appears to be well ahead.

Could be nothing, but I find it interesting. By the way, while both candidates have been to our apartment, only one has had workers come up to me when I've been out walking Boo to let me know that advance voting was going on. And that was Sheutiapik.

The final point of interest comes from the candidates forum on Monday. Because I'm an idiot, I completely forgot about it. However, I have talked to a couple of people who were there. And the thing they noted was how beaten Okalik looked. As I said, it's a small district - I imagine both candidates have knocked on every door here by now. There's no formal polling or anything crazy like that (I'd love to get a call from a polling company asking who I was going to vote for. That would be hilarious), but I imagine both of them have a pretty decent idea of the numbers. And for Okalik to look so down, as he apparently did on Monday, isn't saying good things about his chances.

Again, I could be wrong. I could be completely talking out of my ass. Wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last. And yeah, you've got to favour an incumbant premier in a district election. But let's just say I won't be too surprised if there's a surprise in Iqaluit West on Monday night.

One last thing, I hope you will all note that I'm not saying which candidate will be better or has the better platform. This is just my observations on the race and how it is being conducted, which is the whole world different on who I think should win and why.

And who do I think should win and why? Sorry, Iqaluit is a bit too small for me to get into that racket on a public blog. Maybe next time...

Last Five
1. Rainy night in Soho - The Pogues*
2. You can never hold back spring - Tom Waits
3. Pardon me madam, my name is Eve - Elvis Costello and the Imposters
4. I am a man of constant sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys
5. Turpentine - Elvis Costello and the Imposters

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trying to keep afloat

I wrapped up my second swimming lesson last night. And how is it going so far? Well, let me sum up.

1. I've clearly forgotten a lot since the last time I took swimming lessons 12 years ago, but not everything, which is somewhat reassuring.

2. I paid $50 for three months of lessons. I assumed that I would be in a small class for anywhere from 5-10 people. Nope, it's just me. There are two other people in the pool, but one just wants to practice and get some exercise and the other is Cathy, making sure I don't skip lessons.

So for $50, I get my own private tutor for about 10 or so hours. That strikes me as being a pretty sweet deal.

3. The instructor, for the record, is very nice and keeps saying encouraging things and is happy with my progress. So is Cathy. So am I, for that matter. I wasn't bad when I took lessons 12 years ago, I've just forgotten everything I learned because I didn't practice. It's coming back slowly. I did a backward crawl last night towards the end of the lesson that floored the instructor. I just have problems getting my face in the water.

4. Speaking of which, I snorted enough chlorinated water last night that my sinuses are still burning. And my eyes are still mildly bloodshot. So clearly nose plugs and a pair of goggles are in order.

5. Despite the progress it is clear that I do not possess natural buoyancy. Cathy does and is absolutely mystified at why I sink. Anytime I try to do a front crawl, it's like watching a deflating balloon - looks all right to start with, but then things start to sink pretty quickly.

But that's all right, I'm not too worried. I've only had two lessons. Can't expect miracles quite that quickly.

6. The other nice thing about the "private" lessons is that I can develop them to what I want. So, for example, I have no need or desire to learn how to do a butterfly stroke. What I need is to feel comfortable and not panicky in water that can go over my head, to be able to snorkel and to be able to swim a forward crawl.

I think I can do all of that by December. It's then just up to me to keep practicing with it from January until July so I don't get rusty again. But so far, so good.

Last Five
1. Frames - Ian Foster Band
2. 3 O'clock drunk - Sean Panting
3. 29 - Ryan Adams
4. Let's dance - David Bowie
5. Elegy for Elsabeth - The Weakerthans*

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Not smooth sailing

I've been a touch reluctant to comment much on the Nunavut election. I don't think it's much of a secret who signs by paychecks and when it comes to discussing matters regarding your employer, even indirectly, in a public forum like a blog, discretion is the better part of valour. Even if I tried to turn this blog into a commercial venture, I don't think I would come anywhere close to my annual income.

But how fortunate I read this story where the premier essentially says it's all right if I want to talk about certain things. It is good because I'd like to discuss how the election is being handled so far.

Let's be kind and say this election hasn't exactly been a model of how to conduct an election. First there was the issue of people forgetting to run in Baffin South, a matter that was fortunately resolved and there's a by-election scheduled for Nov. 3. Apparently it just snuck up on people. Embarrassing, but not too bad. Also the fact that two seats were won by acclamation is one of those things you really wish you wouldn't happen.

Next up is the matter of the mess in the district of Akulliq (made of the communities of Kugaaruk and Repulse Bay) where there's a lawsuit to determine whether or not one of the candidates was been a resident of Nunavut the past 12 months and if he can run in the election. That riding won't have a by-election until the end of November or early December.

And then there's the racket in Iqaluit Centre where Okalik Eegeesiak has been told to suspend her campaign because she hasn't been a resident of Nunavut for the past year. I understand she's appealing that, but right now she's off the ballot and anyone who voted for her in the advanced polls - which were heavily promoted and encouraged for residents to participate in - will have their vote disqualified.

How many ways can you see a lawsuit happening over that ruling? From the candidate who got disqualified? If the election is close, the loser is going to feel pretty miffed that Eegeesiak was allowed in because they might have gotten those votes. And hell, if I was in that district and have voted early - because I was encouraged to do so - and then had my vote disqualified, I might be a bit pissed off as well.

Now if this were an election down south these mistakes would be frustrating, perhaps even comical in the right light, but would present no real lasting harm. However, Nunavut doesn't operate like governments. Those of us who live up here know it's a consensus government. There are no political parties. Once all the districts have selected their MLA, they gather in Iqaluit and vote on who is going to be premier and in the cabinet. Then the premier selection which new cabinet minister gets what portfolio.

For the record, I really like this system. After spending my entire life dealing with party politics, not have to deal with political party bullshit up here is like breathing clean air for the first time in my life. It's luxurious. But it does have one problem. The election is October 27. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe they have to wait until all the by-elections are completed before they can vote on a premier and cabinet minister. Which is fair, for the record. Each community should have their representative there to vote on the cabinet or to have the opportunity to serve in the cabinet.

But it does mean it could be mid-December before we know who our premier and cabinet is. And that's just not right. I understand why it has to happen and why it's only fair. But it does mean there were screw-ups of biblical proportions somewhere along the way. And that maybe, just maybe, someone should take a close look at how on earth all of this could have happened and make sure that in 2012 or 2013 that this doesn't happen again.

I know there's the temptation sometimes when things go wrong up here to just shake your head and mutter "It's the north", but really, these kind of mistakes are not acceptable. It needs to be better.

You know, I had intended to say a few words about the Iqaluit West race, since that's where I live and it's race everybody is watching, but I've gone on a bit too long on this this evening, so I'll do something about it tomorrow.

Last Five
1. Ageless beauty - Stars
2. Higher learning - Sam Roberts
3. Zero down - Sean Panting
4. Hard bargin - Ron Sexsmith
5. Please to meet me - Drive*

Monday, October 20, 2008

Last gasps

It's a mere 15 days until the long, long, unfucking believeably long U.S. presidential campaign finally draws to a conclusion. I've been following this thing pretty closely for about a year now and as much as I've enjoyed and been enthralled by it, I'm also really ready for this to be over. I need to stop hitting 25 or so US political websites every day so I can get caught up on the latest news. Cathy's become a US presidential election widow and we don't even live in the US. Needless to say, she's very confused by this turn of events.

And while it's foolish to say that Obama has this in the bag, only the most blinkered of individuals would say that things don't look very good for Obama right now. The fat lady might not be singing yet, but there is a a robust looking woman waiting off in the wings practicing her scales.

You know things are grim for the Republicans when many right-wing pundits have essentially given up on the 2008 election and are planning for 2012. Several are also coming out for Obama, citing his calm as a mark in the pro column for him and Palin as a big negative for the McCain campaign. Oh, and newspaper endorsements are running about 3-1 in Obama's favour.

This is prime time weirdness in the election now. And it was even Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama over the weekend that got me thinking that way. It's lots of little things, but mostly its the hate and bile that's come from some elements of the Republican party. I hasten to add that I don't think all Republicans are stupid, racist xenophobes. In fact, I bet that a very small percentage of them are that way.

But man, you see some of the videos that have been making the rounds. The people who believe he's a "secret muslim" (God love Powell for saying he's not, but even if he was, so what?), a socialist, a communist, a terrorist and other things. That you have crowds and McCain/Palin rallies actively harassing reporters from media outlets they don't like - MSNBC, CNN, NY Times, etc - and rushing up to get autographs from reporters they think are doing the best job of covering their candidate - Fox. Some reporters have claimed to have things thrown at them.

When you have politicians saying parts of America aren't the "real" American or wanting to make sure that political leaders are really's just ugliness. It's startling, in fact. Yes, Americans are far more passionate about this election than Canadians were about ours that just wrapped up. And that's to be commended. I'm fairly embarrassed by the turn-out of our last election.

But with all that passion and enthasism you also getting to see the ugly side as well. And yes, I'm focusing on the Republicans right now, but there's been ugliness from the Democrats as well. Some of the attacks on Palin's family have been above board (yes, I'm probably guilty of that too, in the heat of the moment). I do wish the grand debate of ideas and vision which seemed so likely earlier the summer between Obama and McCain had happened.

But it didn't and I'm sure there's no shortage of opinions on which candidate and party is to blame for that. But most of the garbage seems to be coming from the Republicans. I hope it's one last gasp of breath from a vile, minority cross-section of the US electorate that will go the way of the dinosaurs (some in that group will likely deny the existence of dinosaurs. I hope to be able to deny their existance a few decades from now if anyone asks).

However, until they take their last gasping breath and die, it's still disheartening to look at. I like to think I'm not quite so naive as to believe that if Obama gets elected he's going to solve the financial crisis and heal the divide that has driven America mad the past eight years, but surely he would be a good step in the right direction.

Last Five
1. Firecracker - Ryan Adams
2. Pure and easy - The Who
3. Gas station sandwich - Sean Panting*
4. Stupid now - Bob Mould
5. Fated - Matthew Good Band

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Grand Entrance

Just to give you an idea of skewed priorities we made two purchases today and Cathy is having a hard time deciding which she is more excited by.

One one hand, we have the pumpkins. Pumpkins aren't cheap up here as a rule. I just came from Arctic Ventures and some decent-sized pumpkins are going for around $25. Some down south will be horrified with that dollar figured. Others, living further north are probably envious and salivating at the idea of getting them that cheap. Cathy was contemplating buying one for her classroom.

Then we popped into Baffin Cannery, one of those little places that unless you live here you'll likely never find on your own. We were in there picking up a few things and found pumpkins for $7.99. I thought Cathy was going to have a stroke. There was only one pumpkin on the shelf and she would have been happy with that but, on a lark, asked if they had more.

"We have a whole pumpkin patch out back," the cashier quipped. So we promptly got two more. Cathy was a very happy girl.

And the other purchase? Oh, we bought this.

Yeah, today was the Cape Dorset Print Sale. We went down saying the one thing we weren't going to do, having looked at the prints online and considering what we have back in Newfoundland, was buy an owl. So naturally, we bought an owl. However, it's not just any owl, it's a Kenojuak Ashevak owl, called "Grand Entrance". We had been looking at it and figured it might be a bit too big and that surely it would be one of the first prints snapped up.

But much to our surprise, it wasn't. The way the print sale works is that you go down, put your name on a ticket and then they randomly draw the tickets. If they call your name and the print you want is still there, then it's yours. When Cathy's name was called - I think she was about the seventh - it was still there. So we went to hell with it and grabbed it. There was a few moans of disappointment.

It was a bit of a strange sale, really. Some of the stuff I thought would be snapped up right away didn't go until almost the end. Then again, the prints were more expensive this year. The cheaper prints were the first to go.

So we have an Ashevak owl, which I am glad about. Aside from being stunning (the online image doesn't do it justice) Ashevak is one of the masters of Cape Dorset and is world famous. I'm quite happy that we have one of her prints.

Cathy is happy too, by the way. She's just also pretty happy with the pumpkins. It's been a pretty good day over all.

Last Five
All from "Cardinology" by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals

Friday, October 17, 2008


There's several different things I could write about this evening, but I'm more in the mood to veg than talk about the US elections or work on the "Moving to Iqaluit" FAQ that needs to be done.

So instead I'll second something I read on Johanna Draper Carlson's excellent blog....where's my Max Headroom DVD set? Seriously, I deeply loved that show when I was a kid and it was one of my earliest lessons in the gross unfairness of network television. Where they would kill something so obviously cool and creative and leave utter dreck on in its place.

It's only 12 episodes or so, but I would buy that series in a heartbeat.

But the other nice thing Johanna did, other than talk about the show, was to give me a nice 80s flashback. Ladies and gentlemen, for your Friday evening pleasure I give you "Paranomia" by the Art of Noise featuring Max Headroom. Enjoy.

Last Five
1. The park - Feist
2. Sick of myself - Bowling for Soup
3. London girl - The Pogues*
4. I never told you what I did for a living - My Chemical Romance
5. Not so soft (live) - Ani DiFranco

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Disturbing gift ideas

For some reason, I thought of Kate and Inflatable Elvis when I saw this. Just in case you're looking for gift ideas or extras for that Iqaluit zombie movie.

And look, a video featuring them in action.

You can buy the plush zombies at Think Geek.

But now, for your truly disturbing gift idea of the year. For the devoted Obama fan, well, there's this.

Yes, it is exactly what you think it is. You can go here to buy them. And hey, good news for those of us living in the north. Apparently there's free shipping if you order three or more.

"Thanks" to Warren Ellis for the link.

Never let it be said that I'm not there to help my readers out with Christmas gift suggestions.

Last Five
1. Reason to believe (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
2. Time to start - Blue Man Group
3. We'll never sleep - Rilo Kiley
4. She came in through the bathroom window - The Beatles
5. Reunion tour - The Weakerthans*

Observations from a townie after his return to the homeland

The odd thing about the recently concluded trip back to St. John's is how hard it was for me to find time to get online, or how uninterested I was in blogging when I could find the time. I was in Italy and on a boat in the middle of the Caribbean and I could find the time. In St. John's? Not so much.

Still, there are observations I made a mental note of to comment on when I found more time. And since I'm back in the Great White North I have, well, not that much more time to be perfectly honest. The Canadian Mixed Curling Championships is rapidly approaching and scaring the hell out of me, quite frankly. Still, here are a few things that I took back from Newfoundland.

1. The traffic in St. John's has, impossibly, gotten worse. I witnessed on a daily basis several acts of attempted vehicular suicide. I mean just staggeringly brain dead things. I mean, if you want to run a red light at the intersection by the Avalon Mall on Columbus Drive, well, it's your funeral. Hell, I was in Mount Pearl and in a long line waiting for the light to change. A woman was trying to turn right so I gave her a break and let her out in front of me. The son of a bitch behind me leaned on the horn that loud you would have thought I'd murdered his mother.

I was fully prepared to blame baymen for this decline in driving skills. However, it was pointed out to me that baymen have been coming into St. John's and fucking up traffic for decades. We've adapted to that, so it must be something else.

My best guess? Mainlanders. It's the influx of all this new money and newer people making things deeply weird. I've always said St. John's has some of the worst drivers in Canada, but if what I saw my week back home is accurate, we're easily approaching Montreal levels, which ought to be deeply concerning.

2. Somewhere in St. John's this conversation is happening (with apologies to Patton Oswald):

Businessman: You know, I've been think and it occurs to me that there's a real business opportunity here in town that people are failing to take advantage of. That's why I'm coming to you looking for money.

Banker: And what's that?

Businessman: Well, I've been wandering around downtown St. John's and I've noticed there's only 50 coffee shops down there. And I was thinking what downtown clearly needs is another coffee shop.

Banker (jumping up, excited): Stop drilling, you glorious motherfucker, you hit gold! Another coffee shop! Jesus, why didn't I think of that?

Seriously, folks. The coffee shop situation in St. John's, but especially downtown, is getting deeply weird. Coffee shops are going to outnumber bars pretty soon. And I think we can all agree that a drunken, hyper-caffeinated population is good for no one.

Although perhaps that does explain some of the driving I saw.

3. Wandering into the Rose and Thistle and paying $10 to see one of Canada's greatest singer/songwriters - Ron Hynes - essentially playing for beer money and having a blast, is surely God must be one of the great deals in Newfoundland, if not Canada.

4. The two most commonly heard conversation I had when I was back home? "So and so is now dead/dying of something horrible/is sick with something no one can figure out" and "Jesus, can you believe it? My house is now worth (inset some silly number here)."

Honestly, no wonder my grandfather is a bit depressed when it seems every second conversation is about either how he's feeling (not great) or who is dead now. And as for the housing, it's like a collective delusional mania has set in. "My house has gone up 50% in the last year! I'm rich!" Yes, too bad about that whole having to find another place to live problem after you've sold your house, though.

Craziness. And hey, it's not like anything possibly disasterous could happen with a housing bubble, right?

5. You know, I'm beginning to think there's just some kind of chaos field that surrounds Dups anytime he's in St. John's. In theory, going to George Street to catch the Idlers and the Discounts should be a simply enough thing. At no point should we have been subjected to three Shea Heights rejects doing some kind of hideous Newfie rap, and yet....

Apparently the opening act cancelled at the last minute and these three morons got to fill in. The brain scarring will never heal. Never. I read an article in either the Scope or the Current saying Newfoundland rap was about to take off. If this is the calibre, then it should be shot down now, quickly.

As we were fleeing the bar (without seeing either the Idlers or the Discounts) I asked the bouncer who they were. He wanted to know why.

"Because I want to warn the whole world how much these assholes suck."

"They do suck," he said.

"God yes," added a woman collecting money for the bands at the door.

Neither knew their names. However, if you see three white guys rapping, two of which are over-weight, avoid them. I would suggest violence, but that would be bad. You know, they might get all gangsta and shit on you. Or sic their ho's on yo ass and fuck you up. Word.

Last Five
1. General Joy - Tori Amos
2. Giddy up - The Hives*
3. 19th nervous breakdown - The Rolling Stones
4. Uncle Alvarez - Liz Phair
5. Fade together - Franz Ferdinand

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Loser night in Canada

Oh yes, my friends, nothing but losers littering the landscape after last night's election. Losers as far as the eye can see. Let's take a closer look at our List of Losers, shall we?

The Conservatives - Yes, they have an increased majority at 143 seats. However, they managed to fall 12 short of the promised land. If you can't get a majority with a divided left and with the weakest political leader the Liberals have had in a generation then you simply have to face're never going to have a majority. At least not with Harper. Simply not enough people like or trust him.

It'll be curious to see what happens with the Conservatives in the next few months. Harper has ruled that caucus with an iron fist. If cabinet ministers start talking without permission from the Prime Minister's Office and other criticism starts leaking out from "anonymous" sources, then he's in trouble.

It was Harper's arrogance in dealing with the media, Quebec and, God help me, Newfoundland, that cost him his majority. I'll be curious to see if that lesson sinks in at all.

The Liberals - A big, whopping pack of losers. They lost a couple of dozen seats and the casualities would have been higher if so many people hadn't voted for the Liberals because they hated Harper that much. Does Dion quit before he's pushed? He's not an idiot, so I suspect he's going to quit sometimes sooner, rather than later and the May leadership review could end up becoming a leadership election.

The Bloc - Perhaps the only true winner for the evening. They fended off a possible apocolypse early in the campaign and managed to land about two-thirds of the seats in Quebec. I dream of the day when this party will be wiped from the face of the planet. In typically ironic Canadian move, they emerged from the chaos as strong as ever.

NDP - Yes, they picked up seats, but Jack Layton was making lots of big talk about winning or at least forming the official opposition. They spent lots of money. They finished fourth. Furthermore, you have to wonder how solid any of these gains are. The NDP does well when the Liberals are in chaos, which they are right now. But you've got to figure the Liberals will get their act together at some point, right? Then what happens to the NDP?

Greens - A dynamic and interesting leader, a seat in the House of Commons, a presence at the leadership debate, a larger national presence than they've ever had before - zero seats. I could be wrong, but I think we've just seen the high water mark for Green Party in Canada.

Oh, and because I can't resist, congratulations to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, who shut out the Conservatives, thereby assuring no representation at the cabinet level. That likely means Peter McKay is the respresentative for the province. Or perhaps someone appointed to the Senate to represent us.

Smooth move. There were no shortage of people saying that given what Loyola Hearn did during the last government, that we really didn't need federal representation in the government. These people are either:
a. Too stupid to know better.
b. Crazy.
c. Lying like a cheap rug to you.

Plus, Williams is now saying he's willing to bury the hatchet. WTF? Seriously. You've wrecked all this chaos and damage and now you're willing to let bygones be bygones? So what exactly was the point of the whole ABC racket if you're willing to let it die for no apparent reason. If that kind of weirdness is Newfoundland and Labrador politics in a nutshell....


Oh yes, a big ol' night of losers all the way around.

Last Five
1. What became of the likely lads - The Libertines
2. Take your partner by the hand - Robbie Robertson
3. The chamber - The Last Shadow Puppets
4. What's it gonna be - Neil Diamond*
5. Cheap champagne - Sloan

Winning ugly

I said yesterday that I voted Liberal, Cathy voted NDP. Neither one of us cared for the Conservatives, but we differed on who to vote for in opposing them. And it looks like a lot of people in Nunavut did that as well. If you wanted a clearer cut case of vote splitting, you'd be hard pressed to beat Nunavut. The Conservatives polled 34.8 per cent of the vote, the Liberals 29.2 per cent and the NDP 27.6 per cent. Oh yeah, and the Greens got 8.4 per cent of the vote. They finished last, but at least didn't have the humiliation of having the Marijuana Party finish ahead of them, like they did in the 2006 election.

Oh yes, and the voter turnout was 49.4 per cent, down about five per cent from 2006. There were 8,068 voters who showed up to the polls out of the 16,350 eligible to do so. Now, some of that might have had to do with rackets regarding voter identification. We didn't have any problems, but I certainly heard of people having to run home and grab a bill or something with their mailing address on it to prove they were who they said they were to Elections Canada officials. But I suspect there was a solid dose of apathy tossed into the mix for good measure.

Someone can do some digging around on this, but I'm pretty sure that Leona Aglukkaq polled the fewest number of votes to win a federal seat, getting a whopping 2,806. The combination of only 16,350 eligible voters combined with an anemic 49 per cent voter turnout certainly helped. But so did nearly two-thirds of the people of Nunavut voting against her. So, pathetically low number of votes and an ugly winning percentage.

Yes, somebody has to win and this isn't sour grapes that the person I voted for lost. But this is almost the very definition of winning ugly. But I guess a win is a win. Now we'll have to wait and see what Aglukkaq and the Conservatives do with it. There were lots of big promises made to the north if a Conservative won in Nunavut for Harper. Let's see if they get delivered.

Last Five
1. Knockin' on heaven's door - Bob Dylan*
2. The barricades of heaven (live) - Jackson Browne
3. Don't let the man get you down - Fatboy Slim
4. Past the mission - Tori Amos
5. Man with no country - Flogging Molly

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cathy sums up the election in one sentence

"I would have preferred to have voted for Obama, just for the record."

However, as that was not an option, we both voted, unenthusiastically, for the options available on the ballot. Cathy voted for the NDP; I voted for the Liberals.

And now I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Up in the air

Good christ but I still don't know who I'm going to vote for in the federal election. Which is pure weirdness. I normally have a clue pretty early on in the process who I'm going to vote for. If I lived in St. John's East, I would have voted for Craig Westcott, even though he was a Conservative. I heard that a lot from people when I was back in St. John's, actually. "I'd vote for Craig, but I just can't support Harper."

And in a weird twist, I actually could have voted for him. Just before heading home I popped into Elections Canada to get my voter registration straightened out. I didn't receive a card in the mail, but figured it was just a mix up. We were in Nunavut, but we'd changed mailing addresses since the 2006 election. This is roughly the conversation I had with an Elections Canada official.

Me: Yeah, I just want to get my voter registration fixed. I voted here in 2006, but have since moved, so I guess my registration got sent to the wrong address.

Elections Canada Official: Well, give me your name and I'll check for you.

Me: (gives name)

ECO: Well, it seems you're not registered to vote in Nunavut.

Me: Well, I voted here in 2006 so that's weird. Where am I registered to vote?

ECO: (clicks a few more keys) St. John's East.

Me: (A string of profanity that lasts several seconds.) I have a friend running in that district and I'm heading there in a few days for a visit.

ECO: Huh. If you hadn't told us that, you could have went home, voted in the advance poll then come back up here and voted again.

Me: Are you serious?

ECO: Oh yes. I'm not saying you should have or that it was right, but I doubt we would have caught you.

Me: (More profanity).

Oh, and just to rub salt into the wounds, when I arrived at Dad's house, my voter registration card was there waiting for me. So yup, could have voted for Westcott. Fuck.

Anyway, as for voting up here, still trying to decide. Leona Aglukkaq is pretty much out. I could have held my nose and voted for Harper knowing Westcott would be in a caucus meeting making his life difficult. But I don't know Aglukkaq well enough to trust her to overcome my many concerns regarding Harper.

And for those wondering what some of those concerns are, they include a staggering disconnect with the Canadian public (yes, now is a good time to go and find some good stock deals. Dear God....), his refusal to deal with the national media in any kind of mature manner (you may not like them, but they play an important role and ignoring them is beyond foolish) and my concerns about what kind of evil, draconian copyright policy he would ram through with a majority government.

So no to the Conservatives if I have to vote up here.

That leaves Liberal Kirt Ejesiak and Paul Irngaut of the NDP. Yes, I know Green party candidate Peter Ittinuar is out there, but he feels entirely too much like a warm body the Green's threw at the riding to avoid embarrassment rather than a serious attempt to win the seat or a serious attempt to address Nunavut issues.

Of the two who are left, I don't know yet. I'm voting after work today. Anyone want to try and sway me in the last few hours of the campaign?

Last Five
1. Down to the river to pray (live) - Allison Kruass and Union Station*
2. It's different for girls - Joe Jackson
3. 1972 - John Rouse
4. Window - Fiona Apple
5. Clap your hands - They Might be Giants

Monday, October 13, 2008

Home again

So I've returned to Iqaluit having thoroughly burned every ounce of good travel karma I possess. The flight on Sunday from St. John's to Toronto on Air Canada arrived 20 minutes early. The flight from Toronto to Ottawa arrived 10 minutes early. When I got to the luggage carousel, my bags were already there. There was no one in front of me when I got to Enterprise to rent a car and when I swung by the hotel on a lark to see if my room might be ready, even though check-in was several hours away, they had my room ready.

Nothing dramatic in today's flight up. I had window seat, no one in the middle seat so I was able to stretch out a bit. And the bags arrived undamaged. So that's good too

So yeah, that will never happen again. I like to think it was making up for what happened when we were flying back from Italy the summer. Whatever the cause, this trip back to Newfoundland featured some of the smoothest, no hassle travelling that I can ever recall. It was quite amazing.

There's lots I want to write about. There's stuff that happened on vacation I simply haven't gotten around to writing about yet. Lord knows the US election continues to be interesting....and I have a theory on Sarah Palin that could prove to be amusing. There's the federal election and I guess I have to find out what's happening with the territorial one.

But I'm just going to chill and relax for right now. I'll probably have more to write about later.

However I will give you this. Last year we bought, with the able assistance of Miss Jen, we bought a Cape Dorset print. And while I'd seen what it looked like because we had one here on display in Iqaluit, I'd never see what our print looks like (yes, I know, there's no difference. Bear with me). The print was sent to my in-laws back in Newfoundland to get framed. But because of the size (it's five feet tall) and concerns about it making to Nunavut in one piece, we've held off shipping it up here.

But I finally did get to see it while I was visiting Cathy's folks. And perhaps this pic doesn't quite do it justice, but I'm really pleased with the framing job. I love the print, but the framing certainly helps make it that much better. There's a bit of a glare off the glass, but you still get an idea of how it looks.

And hey, the Cape Dorset print sale is this weekend, so we might get a companion piece for our owls yet.

Last Five
1. Hidden track - The Pursuit of Happiness
2. Step right up (live) - Tom Waits
3. 4th of July (live) - U2
4. Santiago de Cuba - The Chieftains*
5. Always - Blink 182

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Last day

Last day in town as I fly out tomorrow morning early. Off to Ottawa, where I will then head up to Petawawa to see an old friend. And then back in Iqaluit on Monday.

On the one hand, this trip home has gone ludicrously fast. And I feel like I need to take a few days off when I get back to Iqaluit to recover. On the other hand, it'll be nice to get back home. I do miss Cathy and she's had a bit of a rough week, so I wish I was there for her.

I imagine that will all change when I get back to work and I have to start dealing with the Mixed National curling stuff again. I'll likely be eying tickets back down south once I start back into that. But for now, I'm just trying to be zen, enjoy my last few hours in St. John's and enjoy the idea of getting to see Cathy again.

As for what's left to do, I'm going to to supper with my folks this evening, I still have some last minute shopping to get done, and I suppose I should pack at some point. My flight leaves at 7 am tomorrow, so packing is probably a good idea.

I've managed to see a lot of friends, but not all of them. Which is to be expected, but still disappointing. It would have been nice to have seen more, but you really can't expect people to drop everything in their lives just so they can see you.

I'll have more insights on what this last week was like when I get a bit more time to write. But it's been....interesting.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday spree

So the comic books are finally taken care of. You know, there are times in my less sane moments when the idea of insuring them and then having a tragic accident where I spilled lighter fluid and clumsily drop a lit match is awfully appealing. I'm sure I would regret it later, but when I dragged 20 boxes of comic books (with the much appreciated assistance of Cathy's dad) from my father's house to storage, the thought did cross my mind more than once.

And I was able to drag six boxes of mostly junk to a local comic book store and get $500 for it. Which is certainly better than just putting them on the edge of a street corner and waiting for them to vanish.

My time home is quickly evaporating. I now have a little less than two days left and in that time I have to do a chunk of Christmas shopping for my parents and Cathy. Plus pick up a few things I need. And I still have friends I'd like to see. But even then I'm running out of time to see them. I need to be cloned or something. I honestly thought about 10 days home would be enough, but it really isn't. Ah well...

I have, however, managed to see a nice chunk of my family. We had a mini-feast over at my father's house last night and a surprising number of the family showed up. I'm debating whether it was to see me or that dad never does any large family get together at his place. Plus there was free food. Still, I'll assume it was me.

Anyway, the stores open in 30 minutes. I should go and start warming up the credit card....

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The trip so far

All right, so here's what I've done during my "down time".

1. Went downtown Friday night. Walked into the Duke and promptly found two CBC and one Telegram reporter. Exchanged some gossip. Was asked when the book was being published.

From there, went to George Street for about 20 minutes and then, to paraphrase Bill Hick, filled my "Hump of Hate, because I am the Hate Camel." So I'm good on need to go to George Street for another couple of years. From there I went to catch Ron Hynes play at the Rose and Thistle. Nothing quite like catching one of Canada's best singer/songwriters playing essentially for beer money ($10 cover) at a pub. Heard him play "Sonny's Dream" and "Atlantic Blue" within 15 minutes of walking in. So that was all good.

2. Saturday went around the bay to see my grandparents. I don't think I'm really quite ready to talk about that in public. It's kind of personal.

3. Sunday went to see the only family I have left on my mother's side, which is my aunt, uncle and three cousins. Had chicken along with vegetables they pulled out of the ground they day before. I remembered that carrots are actually supposed to taste sweet. My god, it was good.

4. Went to Clarenville Sunday afternoon and had supper with my friend Pat, who asked me about the book. Exchanged gossip and snarking. All is good in the world.

5. Monday morning, went to the Packet offices. Was asked about the book by three different people, including the two new reporters who I had never met. Again, lots of gossip, stories and laughs. Also, I got copies of all my old "So Anyway" columns, which I might begin reprinting here on the blog in the near future. I meant to hit the road about 2:30, but didn't leave until 4:30. It was really, really good to see Barb and the gang.

Oh, and Barb gave the book its name. She asked what it was called. When I said I had no idea she replied, "I would have thought it was obvious. It should be called 'Paper Trails'."

God....Damn....It. God fucking damn it. It is 'Paper Trails.' I didn't know it until she said it, but it's the perfect name for the book. That's maddening. But she's that good, it really shouldn't surprise me.

6. Had supper and beverages with Andrea on Monday evening. Went to excellent pizza place cleverly called 'Pi'. I highly recommend it.

7. Spent the day going through comic book collection. Have managed to purge collection down from 25 boxes to 19 boxes. Which might not seem like much of an accomplishment, but I am getting rid of about 1,500 by my estimate from a collection that appears to have been around 7,000. So it's a start. Also had supper at my mom's house and saw a movie...."Appalossa", which was....all right. Could have been better, but it was entertaining enough.

8. Had lunch with my friend Anne, who asked about the book and gave me hints about how to handle the next one.

And now I'm sitting at Hava Java waiting until I go out for supper at Cathy's parents. And then this evening I'm going to the Duke to see if some of my friends will show up. I put out a call, but it's kind of last minute, so I don't know.

And that's the vacation so far. It's fun, don't get me wrong. But boy, talk about no rest of the wicked.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Not dead

I swear to God, I'm not dead in a ditch. Funny, I was on a Caribbean cruise, wandering the streets of New York, and bouncing around Italy and I had little trouble blogging almost every day. I come back to Newfoundland and I barely have time to think.

It's been silly busy. Since last I blogged I've gone around the bay to see family, went to Clarenville to catch up with old friends and mentors and I'm trying to go through 10,000 comics to decide which ones I keep and which ones go.

So it's been busy. Tomorrow, I'll have more details on what's going on. But right now, I have to go hang out with my folks a bit, call Cathy, do more with the comics and maybe, just maybe, catch a movie.

I don't work this hard when I'm, you know, actually working.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I'm currently sitting in Hava Java in beautiful, sunny downtown St. John's. Cathy may well kill me for the description, but it's a lovely day, I have good food and a lovely chilled beverage. I'm not saying it's perfect, but there is something to be said for it.

The flight went about as smoothly as I could have dreamed. I actually arrived 20 minutes early and was flying Air Canada, so clearly the gods were looking out for me. I had my bags and was out of the airport by 10:30, the time the flight was supposed to land. My parents both looked good, although mom was being mom.

"Come over to the car, I have something for you," she said.

So I dutifully go over to her car.

"Here's some fresh bread, a litre of pop and some orange juice, in case you need some food."

"Ummmm, mom. I am staying with dad. He does have food. Plus, you know, I do have money. I can buy food."

"Oh, I know. But take it anyway."

Moms. You gotta love them.

I even managed to get home and catch the last hour of the VP debate. I tried to watch some of the prime minister's debate, but every time I flipped over, they were yelling at each other. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Palin did fine. I mean, I wasn't expecting her to start drooling or pissing herself. I haven't read any of the commentary online about the debate last night, but she might have finally staunched some of the bleeding of the past three weeks.

As for what's next for me, well, I'm going to bumble around downtown for a couple of hours, just to reacquaint myself. Then I might catch Ron Hynes, who is playing at the Rose and Thistle tonight. I passed up hundreds of chances to see Ron when I lived here, now I can't think of anything better than to see him play tonight.

I spent the morning dealing with the comics. I am well and truly fucked. It's much worse than I thought. 25 boxes, each one holding anywhere between 250-300 comics. Oh, plus two 75L Tupperware containers holding graphic novels. And I have to whittle this down to a manageable level. I have them lugged upstairs. Next, is to get some new boxes to replace the old and ratty ones. And then the whittling down begins. But it looks like it will be more work than I had hope for.

Ah well....

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a sunny day to go out and enjoy.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Banned book week 2008

This is an American event, but as you might have noticed, we don't exactly shy away from discussing American things in these parts. Plus, even though this isn't as big a problem in Canada, it's still worth mentioning.

This is National Banned Books Week in the United States. The American Library Association has a bunch of events to mark the event and to remind people that you do have to fight for certain freedoms, even for things like making sure certain groups don't pull books they don't like out of libraries.

And as this list shows, people really never do give up.

Fortunately I don't think the local library goes through any of this kind of trouble. Most Canadian libraries don't go through this kind of trouble. But as I said, it never hurts to remember that you have to fight for certain things. And freedom to read is something I consider to be well worth fighting for.

Besides, what narrow-mind asshole wants to ban Huckleberry Finn? And hey, I understand why the Golden Compass trilogy pisses off some religious people, but it's a fantastic trilogy. It should be mandatory reading in schools, not on a blacklist.

Last Five
1. Aveda - Hot Hot Heat
2. Back where you belong - 38 Special
3. Homelands - Spirit of the West
4. Like a star - Corinne Bailey Rae
5. True love will find you in the end - Matthew Good*

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

An October assortment

1. Well, that wraps up a thoroughly weird month of September for the blog. But a very good kind of weird. The blog set a traffic record for the month. There were 8,000 page loads, 6,275 unique visitors and 3,139 returning visitors. To put that in some perspective, that is double what the blog pulled in during September 2007 and 30 per cent higher than the next best month in 2008.

2. Why? Well, I've always tried to figure out what lures people to this particular small piece of the Internet. It's certainly not just talking about the north. Curling seems to horrify and cause people to flee as much as it lures others. And I think there might be exactly two people who want to read about comic books.

So the secret appears to be politics, sadly enough. All it took was the combination of a US presidential election, a federal election where I've commented on national issues along with two specific ridings - Nunavut and St. John's East, with a smidge of territorial election politics tossed in for good measure. The three most read posts of the month included the two where I defended Craig Westcott. The other one was where I mocked Levi Johnston, the poor doomed bastard who, according to some rumours, might be getting shotgun married just before the election to help boost the freefalling McCain/Palin poll numbers.

So there you go, politics is what people want. You may all be in denial about it, but you keep coming back for more of it, you sad bastards.

3. So to keep your political jones satisfied, two things. First, I admit to being somewhat concerned about the US vice-presidential debate. The bar has officially been set so low that my concern is Biden might actually trip on the trench where the bar is buried. If Palin manages to not drool on herself tomorrow night, Republicans will claim it as a victory. Judging by this story, she's done well in previous debates mostly by being charming and knowing when to sit back and pick her moment to strike. Will that work here? I don't know.

I suspect it will come down to how much information she can retain through her "cramming" sessions, how much confidence she has left after the drubbing of the past two weeks or so, and whether or not Biden says something off the cuff and stupid. Still, I confess to being worried she does just enough to be viewed as an almost credible candidate when she very clearly isn't ready for that stage.

4. I criticized campaign signs last month, and here I am going to use them as giant cardboard tea leaves. The territorial election is now on. We live in Iqaluit West, which is the race to watch this election with Iqaluit's mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik running against Nunavut's premier, Paul Okalik. And in the sign battle, the mayor is clearly winning. She has a lot more up, which are huge, and located on people's houses or businesses.

In fact, we find ourselves in the interesting location of having a sign for her on Arctic Ventures on one side of our building and other side is a house of....dubious reputation with another huge sign for her. I think all I've seen so far from the premier is a couple of 8 by 11 posters stuck up in the post office.

There's still a month to go, but Sheutiapik certainly hit the ground running.

5. Then there's this kind of sad story about how few people are running in the Nunavut election. There are 46 running this time, down from 82 in 2004. And even more depressing is that no one threw their name into the ring for Baffin South. A seat in a territorial election and no one wanted it.

I'm not saying it's an easy job. There's a lot of travel and time away from the family. You get a lot of phone calls from upset people and they have a tendency to be pissed off with you a lot. That's why about half the sitting MLAs aren't running again. But still, by the time you throw in base salary, northern allowance, tax breaks, travel, constituency allowance and God knows what else I've forgotten, a starting MLA will make $100,000 a year. And that goes up a lot if you make cabinet.

And nobody wanted the job?

Probably just as well I wasn't living there. I can just imagine the reaction if I came home and told Cathy "Honey, good news. I've just been acclaimed the MLA for Baffin South."

It's a toss-up if she hugs me or smacks me in the head repeatedly.

Last Five
1. Nautical disaster (live) - The Tragically Hip*
2. Tiny dancer - Elton John
3. S'wonderful (live) - Diana Krall
4. Mercury - Kathleen Edwards
5. Naked in the city again - Hot Hot Heat