Sunday, October 31, 2010


So that was a deeply quiet Hallowe'en after all. We had no idea how many kids we were going to get showing up to our house so we bought, in retrospect, silly amounts of candy and chocolate. We ended up getting around 40 kids to our door. Prior to buying all the candy I asked one of our neighbours up the street how many we should anticipate and she figured around 100-150.

So why the discrepancy? Quite simple really, and I'm kicking myself for not thinking about it. She lives near a bunch of townhouses. And not just any townhouses, but one with federal government employees in them. So yeah, she pulled in between 80-100 kids. But I live further down the hill, where the houses are further apart, so we got around 40.

Still, those are small numbers compared to Green Row. That's a section of Iqaluit downtown where there are lots of federal government employees and they're all townhouses. Oh yes, and near the school. I've heard horrifying numbers in excess of 200 kids hitting that place on Hallowe'en. Gah.

So our first Hallowe'en as homeowners was a relatively quiet affair. Well, in terms of kids. Boo lost his mind. Understand, the slightest noise outside can set him off. He's mellowed in the last year or so, but he's still quite the barker when someone knocks on the door. Now imagine that happening 20 or more times in the course of the evening. We had to barricade him in one of the rooms just so he wouldn't scare the crap out of the kids knocking on the door.

He seems quite tired this evening. All barked out, I imagine.

With Hallowe'en over the sprint to Christmas begins. They've already begun to cheat, of course. NorthMart has had Christmas chocolate for sale for weeks and their toy section is growing huge. And I'm pretty sure I saw a Christmas ad on TV this afternoon. Cathy's already ordered most of my gifts and I have her shopping about half done.

Trust me, you want to avoid having to pick up packages in Iqaluit's post office if at all possible in December. Jordon (an Iqaluit blogger and Post Master no less) is one seriously doomed bastard. Send pity his way, just not mail if you can help it.

Last Five
1. Johnny 99 (live) - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
2. I'm gonna find another you - John Mayer
3. Cobwebs - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
4. Stable song - Death Cab For Cutie
5. Snow is gone (live) - Josh Ritter*

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cårven Der Pümpkîn

It's Hallowe'en, well, pretty much Hallowe'en. So why not celebrate with the Swedish chef.

I've got to say, the Muppets really have found new life on YouTube. I'm not sure if we really need a new Muppets show, as long as we can get these two minutes bits of fun. I've yet to see one of these YouTube clips that haven't made me laugh out loud.

Last Five
1. Can't get arrested - Lloyd Cole
2. That time - Regina Spektor
3. Mary Jane's last dance (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
4. In my place - Coldplay*
5. Suicide - The Raveonettes

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Four for Thursday

1. The big news of the day in Iqaluit - after 36 days the dump fire is finally out. And there was rejoicing, although I noted a hint of sadness among some reporters on Twitter, who mourned the passing of an easy story on a slow news day.

For those people in Iqaluit who have grown accustom to the oily, burnt rubber smell that occasionally lingered over town, never fear. After all, Tim Hortons is opening up next month, so the smell will be back in no time flat.

2. It's now the October 28 and there is still no snow down on the ground in town. The temperatures are finally starting to dip a little bit below zero. But because it's so cold and dry, whenever the wind picks up you get little dust storms blowing around town. I hit one the other day that was bad enough I had trouble seeing where I was driving. So I never thought I would say this, but I'm kind of wishing for some snow to finally land on the ground, just to cover up the dirt.

Besides, living in the arctic and not have any snow on the ground in November is just plain freaky.

3. The phrase "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" is one of those completely foreign concepts to politicians.

Westcott was wrong to send that email. It was probably a case of him being frustrated over something, writing the email and then forgetting the cardinal rule of email. If you're not sure, stand up, walk away for five minutes, look at it again, shake your head at it and then hit delete (for example I had a sentence in this post I wasn't sure about, got up, came back, hit delete. Probably for the best). He didn't and he's paying a price now.

By the way, spinning it as a joke was a mistake. The simpler response was "I was in an upset mood and sent an email I shouldn't have. We've all done it, but that's no excuse of the language I used. I apologize."

But for the premier to stand up with a straight face and call it vile is rich considering all the truly vicious things he said over the past seven years (pretty certain Westcott hasn't conducted any interviews where's expressed a desire to have people shot). There was actually a good comment in the story where 'Mark' said, "I know that whenever I find something vile and offensive, my own inclination is to wait over a year and a half to react to it."

It's mock outrage to score political points. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

4. Finally got to see "Red" last night. Mmmmm, digital projection. Very nice. Fun movie as well. Glad to see that someone remembered Bruce Willis is at his most effective as a charming action hero, which is what he is here. If there is a fault, it's that there was not enough Helen Mirren with a Big Fucking Gun shooting people. However, it is set-up for a sequel so there's always the hope of Helen Mirren shooting Big Fucking Guns in "Red 2".

By the way, I'd love to be able to say, "If you liked the movie you really should go and read Warren Ellis graphic novel." Except they have virtually nothing in common. This was action comedy. Ellis book was a grim little four character action piece which also played with a theme he was running with at that time about the unexploded mines and ghosts of the 20th century that were going to haunt the 21st century for some time.

It's still a great book, but if you're expecting to see a whole cast of characters, no. Not so much. If you like that theme, I'd also highly recommend "Global Frequency".

You know how Ellis is a great writer? Because he's left behind so many fantastic ideas that he's simply grown bored with and moved on to the next thing. He could still be writing Global Frequency if he wanted to, that's how rich with ideas that series was. And Red was three issues and done. Others would have stretched that a dozen issues or more. Ellis told it in three and it was just fine.

Last Five
1. Fix you up - Tegan & Sara*
2. Positively 4th Street - Bob Dylan
3. Scenes from an Italian restaurant - Billy Joel
4. Into temptation (live) - Crowded House
5. Desert rose - Sting

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New tests

I forgot to mention we survived another Test of Marriage last week. We've had several this year. They include:

1. The Test of Prolonged Unemployment
2. The Test of a Spouse in a Job He Loathes
3. The Test of Vacationing with the Inlaws
4. The Test of Spending Lots of Money On Sealift
5. The Test of Being Apart for Seven Weeks.
6. The Test of Unpacking a Sealift
7. The Test of Putting Together a Large IKEA Item

And now we have...The Test of Unpacking and Moving a Washing Machine

For those of you sticking with my assorted ramblings, our old washing machine up and died back in August. In retrospect, we figure the thing was probably about 10 years old, so it was due. However, as there were no washing machine in town except for one that was around $1,700 (for that much it needed to also perform sexual favours. It didn't) so we quickly did some scrambling. We managed to get Ishop4U to pick one up and deliver it to TSC, who in turn boxed it up and managed to get it on what appears to be the last sealift boat of the season. Last week, it finally arrived.

Which is lovely. The guys at the laundromat are nice and all, but dropping $4 or so for one load in a washing machine is a touch much. And unlike the last time, we were prepared when the crate arrived having decided to go out and buy an expensive cutting tool for the metal band holding it together and a pry bar to open it up. So no more grovelling to the neighbours and looking like idiots. On this, at least.

What we didn't take into account was how to get a 260 pound washing machine up a set of stairs, into our house and installed properly.


The final tally was a bruised knee (Cathy), a bruised wrist (Cathy), a strained back (Cathy), a cut on the back of a leg (Craig), frayed tempers (Craig and Cathy), and one scratch (the side of the washing machine). You knew it was a stressful experience when Cathy was snapping at her dad when she called with a question (Dan, to his credit, was laughing at it when I called him back).

On the upside, we have a lovely, energy efficient washing machine and our marriage has survived yet another test.

The next test will likely be The Test of Handing Out Halloween Candy. We haven't done it together since 2003, so this should should be interesting, what with 100+ kids expected and Boo likely to lose his mind every time someone knocks on the door.

Last Five
1. You look so fine - Garbage*
2. Earthquake - The Von Bondies
3. Only ones who know - Arctic Monkeys
4. Every time you say goodbye - (live) - Allison Krauss
5. I'm impressed - They Might Be Giants

Monday, October 25, 2010

So he's crazy, big deal

I'm enjoying the collective "Oh my God, I need to move/set myself on fire/kill 49% of Toronto" freak out that's currently happening online because Rob Ford won the mayor's race in Toronto. Although, and let's be honest here, for most of Canada losing 50 per cent of Toronto is not the worst idea in the world.

I'm glad the election is over if for no other reason than I finally might be able to read the Toronto Star or the Globe and Mail without their incessant coverage of the mayor's race. The Star has been particularly bad, which would be understandable because it is a Toronto newspaper and not a national one, as the Globe is supposed to be. But the Star has been so astonishingly anti-Ford that even I have been left breathless. If your editorial writers and columnists want to take a crack at him, that's fine, but even the news stories have displayed an astonishing anti-Ford bias.

I normally downplay as paranoia any time conservatives start going off on a rant about leftwing media bias (hello Sarah Palin), but the Star certainly didn't do anything to help the "media are neutral" cause with their coverage the past few months. If I am to believe their coverage I'm pretty sure Ford drowns kittens when he's not beating small children in his spare time.

However, we get off track here from the important point which is, oddly enough, not the idea that half of Toronto should feel free to kill itself in protest of Ford's election. I have several other points.

1. City's frequently elect crazy people to run them. For years municipal politics was the one place where you could be truly crazy and manage to get elected anyway. I've covered enough municipal politics over the years and have seen more than my fair share of the truly deranged sitting at the table and thinking themselves lords of creation because they were on council. The equation goes something like "Crazy + Modicum of Power = City Councillor/Mayor." If there are not crazy people on your city/town council, then you are truly the exception to the norm.

2. I have no idea if Ford is the anti-Christ with a double chin or not. However, if he is crazy he's not the first crazy mayor in the history of Canada. St. John's elected them for decades. Dorothy Wyatt, rest in peace, was mad as a hatter. John Murphy might have been sane at one point, but lord knows he was getting quite batty towards the end. That's probably because Andy Wells drove him there by the end of things. Oh, and speaking of lunatics, Andy Wells was pretty close to one. I desperately hope he's writing his auto-biography somewhere because I can't imagine anything being more entertaining.

I left out Shannie Duff there in the list of crazy St. John's mayors. I don't think she was's just that nobody seemed to like her very much as mayor.

So yes Toronto, you did not event the crazy mayor. You're pretty late to the race. And I understand you elected Mel Lastman, but he was still triple A level crazy compared to what we've elected in St. John's.

3. Unless I'm mistaken on the way municipal democracy works, Ford is still just one vote. I'm sure there will be yelling, screaming, frothing at the mouth and diatribes before the Sun's editorial board on a regular basis about how councillors are ruining the city by holding up his agenda. Fair enough. Still, only one vote. Deal with it.

4. I'm torn as an outsider what the next few years will mean. On the other hand, watching people in Toronto freak out is always an entertaining spectator sport. On the other hand, watching people from Toronto whine for the next few years gets really annoying, really quick. We'll see which way it goes.

I have the feeling Ford is a four year flash in the pan. The kind of person you elect and then six months later you go "Holy shit, was I drunk when I voted?" but time will tell.

In the meantime, if someone could get me some of those Bose noise cancelling headphones to deal with that high pitched whine from the south, I'd appreciate it.

Last Five
1. From blown speakers - The New Pornographers
2. Please forgive me - David Gray
3. Bargain - The Who
4. Take it on the run - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies*
5. Magick - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Let us see if we can sum up the event of the day.

1. We did the last of the beginner curling clinics today and had a nice turn out despite the weather (more on that in a moment). It looks like another busy year at the club, which is good.

I also finally got to seriously try out my new curling shoes. Holy shit they're fast. They're easily the fastest curling shoes I've ever owned. Which is nice and all, but I have to adjust my slide because right now I'm rocketing out of the hack and my rocks are bombing through the house. So some tweaking will be required. My first game is Thursday night, so hopefully I'll get it fixed by then.

2. When I came back from curling, Cathy had our deck painted. Um, this wasn't on the planned list for today. She went out and bought deck paint, which the hardware store finally got on the sealift and then decided, because it was such a nice day, to paint the deck. The plan had been to buy the paint and do it next summer, but I guess the plans changed.

3. The plans changed at least in part because we're enjoying freakishly warm weather around here. I think the high today was +5C whereas the seasonal norm is around -4C. I had a conversation with someone this week where they were saying 25 years ago the bay would be frozen solid by this time of the year. Instead there were people out in their boats today, enjoying the weather.

Although reading a story like this in the New York Times about how Tea Party supporters are attacking anything to do with climate change science (the bible and Rush Limbaugh told them it's all a lie) does make me despair, just a little bit.

On the upside there are sunsets like this.

For some reason one of the two Coast Guard vessels currently anchored offshore moved over to the next bay. It's a bit odd as vessels don't normally anchor over there. But I'm not complaining as it adds to the shot.

4. We also went to see The Social Network this evening. I saw the movie when I was in Ottawa, but Cathy wanted to see it and I really liked it, so why not. But along with the movie the other big draw was the debut of the new digital projectors at Astro Theatre. I'm going to miss the soothing clacking of the old film projector in the booth, but holy shit the picture quality with the new machine is amazing. Seriously, I'm going to have to go and see more movies at Astro with quality that good.

They can also show 3-D movies, but guns and blackmail would be required before you would get me to sit through Jackass 3-D. I was mildly depressed that most people this evening seemed to be going to that movie instead of The Social Network.

Maybe they'll rerelease Avatar up here so I can finally get to see it properly in 3-D. Other than that, not sure how much money I'll be dropping on 3-D movies. The technology is still too uneven for me to embrace.

3-D movies, vets and Tim Hortons. My god, our little city is growing up.

Last Five
1. It takes one to know one - The Donnas
2. P.S. I love you - The Beatles
3. In a big country - Big Country*
4. Raise the alarm - The Living End
5. Changes - David Bowie

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'll take a vet, thank you

The city, indeed the nation, has been fixated on the story that Iqaluit is getting its first Tim Hortons. Look, they even have part of their logo translated into Inuktitut.

Reaction around town has been...odd. Some are excited, a surprising number are grumbling about it. Either because of the anticipated volumes of trash, that Tim's is a pretty unhealthy place and lord knows there is enough unhealthy crap to eat anyway (I love the ones bitching about how unhealthy Tim's is, but who I know eat at the Snack from time to time). Plus there are those who hate Tim Horton's coffee and just like to hate on the place as a rule.

I remain mostly ambivalent. I'll certain get some donuts and muffins from time to time, but I won't be going there for coffee. I don't like hot beverages, so Tim's has a limited appeal to me. I'm happier about the news that Iqaluit is on the verge of getting a vet full-time.

We have vets in town this very minute, but it's part of the twice a year visit the vets make to town. So as long as you're just getting vaccination updates or getting your pet fixed, you're fine. But if your pet gets suddenly ill, well, you're in trouble.

I've recounted here before how we spent nearly $2,000 flying Boo to Ottawa to get treated for an infection nearly two years ago. We nearly had to do that again earlier this month. He's fine now, but he was having some issues and Cathy actually had him in a crate at the airport getting ready to send him to Ottawa. By dumb luck I was already in Ottawa for meetings, so I was going to pick him up and transport him to the vet, get him looked at, and then sent back to Iqaluit the next day.

As it happens, the plane he was supposed to go out on got cancelled because of high winds. Then he got better and we decided not to send him out.

But you see how this goes. A full-time vet in town would be a very nice thing to have. Just because I suspect this is going to be a reoccurring problem. Tim's coffee and a donut is nice and all, but I'd much rather not be dropping a lot of money shipping the dog off to Ottawa any time he gets sick.

I'm disappointed that it looks like it's still going to be another year before she's able to set up her practice in town. She still has to finish school and she's also pregnant. So that's slowing down the process a bit. However, I'll be happy when she's here. And certainly happier than a Tim's opening up shop.

Last Five
1. Eventually - Brendan Benson
2. Giving up the gun - Vampire Weekend
3. Fuck and run - Liz Phair*
4. American girl (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
5. Store bought bones - The Raconteurs

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Westcott throws gasoline on the fire

I'm not sure I laughed harder this month when I found out the news that Craig Westcott was going to become the new Director of Communications for the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. I've been kind of drifting away from NL politics for awhile now. Part of it being time and distance, part of it being only the strong can survive writing about NL politics for years on end, and apparently I'm just a weak, weak man.

But Westcott as Comms director? That's hilarious. Newfoundland and Labrador politics just got infinitely more interesting.

I'm a friend and fan of Westcott and that's no secret. Do a search of the blog using his name and you'll find it come up many times, with me saying good things about him. I think he's a hell of a journalist and has a refreshing low bullshit tolerance level. And in fair disclosure, I use him as a reference on my resume. I'm pretty sure he's the reason I have my current job, because he apparently spent about 20 minutes talking about how brilliant I am.

So yes, I laughed when it was pointed out to me that he had a new job. As expected, there are some who are not happy about it. I shrug off most of the comments as they generally don't know what they're talking about. Geoff Meeker interviewed Craig briefly and I think everyone got an idea pretty quick of what the next year is going to be like.

“Since I started these papers I’ve been lucky to have had maybe 20 minutes a month to think about Danny Williams and write a column about his style of government," Westcott said. "And from what I understand, that was enough to have him down on the floor of his office, chewing the carpet. Well, as of Monday coming, my job will be to watch Danny Williams and his government full time, seven days a week. And I’ll have a six-person research team helping me. So maybe the Premier should order some new carpet, something maybe in a ju jube or Reese’s Pieces flavour. With the team we now have in place, we’re going to be very effective when the House opens.

People can say he's being a hypocrite for running for the Conservatives and then switching over to the Liberals. Perhaps, but he's just doesn't like Premier Williams very much. I think he comes by that dislike honestly. I worked with him when Williams was first elected and I think he was intrigued by Williams. Certainly he was a much needed breath of fresh air after years of Liberal melodrama. But gradually, piece by piece, he began disagreeing with the premier on issues and how he ran the province. Westcott's zero bullshit tolerance crept into his writing, Williams didn't like it and pushed back (I know he called Westcott at him to complain about a column) and things escalated from there.

So yeah, I don't know how much of a card carrying Liberal Westcott is, but he's a hell of a writer and he certainly knows what buttons to push with the premier. Which, by the way, is what is desperately needed if you're the Liberals.

There's a line from the West Wing I like, where one of the characters complains about how abused the word 'liberal' had become in US politics. "We rolled over and said, please don't hurt me.' That's pretty much how I've viewed the Liberal Party in NL for many years now. Very much trying very hard to avoid being hurt any further by Williams. The only solid Liberal voices in NL the last five years have been Ed Hollett and Wallace Mclean.

Whatever else you can say about Westcott, it's the first sign of life I've seen in the Liberals in years. The first sign that they're willing to fight Williams in public. That they're willing to hire someone they know is going to drive the premier insane, that they've found the money for some more researchers is at least an indication they're not going to be annihilated in the next election.

I'm not going to say they're going to win next fall, but at least now I think there might actually be a chance they pick up a few seats. It's politics; it's not all about getting along with each other. Sometimes it's about picking a fight. If the Liberal party wants to survive past the 2011 election then they finally found someone who might just be able to do that for them.

Last Five
1. The beast and dragon, adored - Spoon
2. Such a scream (live) - Tom Waits
3. Intro (live) - Tom Waits*
4. The view from the afternoon - Arctic Monkeys
5. Front row - Metric

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Curling clinic

I feel it's worth mentioning for blog readers in Iqaluit that the curling season is going to be getting started, well, unofficially tomorrow. People have been busy at the club getting the place in shape, getting the ice down (I've been by several times and the its the best I've seen the ice in the six years I've been at the club) and preparing for the craziness that is the start of the season.

Curling officially begins next week. However, as we don't like to throw new curlers onto the ice without a bit of practice, we'll be having free and open clinics. The first is Thursday night from 7-9 pm. The second one is from 1-3 pm on Saturday. The first was supposed to be yesterday, but we couldn't get the ice ready in time. Ice makers are perfectionists, which has its pros and cons.

If you're at all interested in curling I highly recommend coming down for the clinics. They're a great introduction to the sport. And I always tell people if you're new to town it's hard to beat curling for a social sport and a way to get to know new people. If you like the sport, we can sign you up to a team. If not, no harm. All you need for the clinic (you can go to one or both if you feel like it) is some warm clothing, a comfortable pair of pants (tight jeans are bad) and a clean pair of indoor shoes.

Membership at the club for the year is $125, which is ridiculously low, probably the lowest of any curling club in Canada. Also, our first bonspiel of the year will be in a few weeks - November 5&6. That would be the First Air Bonspiel. I can't say what the door prizes are yet, because they're not confirmed, but First Air has always been a good sponsor and the prizes have been quite good.

So come on down.

Now, all I have to do is put together the pieces for my mixed curling team and my Dominion team. It's hard work. I miss my old team from last year. They're going to be a bitch to replace.

Last Five
1. In a world called catastrophe - Matthew Good*
2. Original sin - INXS
3. Constance - Ron Hynes
4. Learning to fly - Tom Petty
5. The switch and the spur - The Raconteurs

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


It appears I'm going to have to update the Moving to Iqaluit FAQ.

The FAQ has been about trying to explain the realities of living in Iqaluit. Explaining those realities, I've discovered, has scared off as many people as it has lured up. But the one thing I've always used, more for a punch line than anything else, is that Iqaluit has no Tim Hortons.

However, I can't use that punch line any more. It's not just that there is going to be a Tim Hortons coming to Iqaluit, there's going to be three of them coming here. Which is a wee bit of an overkill, but hell, I'm not a businessman, so what do I know.

It'll be interesting to see what impact this will have in town. It's not like the city is hurting for coffee opportunities. I'm not a coffee connoisseur by any stretch, but then again, coffee connoisseurs don't drink at Tim Hortons. Although if they get a drive through, it'll be amusing to see people pull up on a ski-doo.

I think the big loser in this, aside from the obvious hit some coffee shops will take in town (you will note the mayor of Iqaluit didn't express her delight at Tim's impending arrival, it was the deputy. That's because the mayor owns a coffee shop) will probably be the Tim's at the airport in Ottawa. Man, that outlet made a mint off people flying to Iqaluit.

I'd say I won't miss the line at the Ottawa Airport Tim's, but let's be honest, the line-ups in Iqaluit are probably going to be pretty brutal anyway.

Cathy's happy, by the way. And while I could give a rat's ass about the coffee, I do have a weakness for donuts, so this could get bad.

Now, if you could get a Wendy's or The Works up here, then I'd be all set. And probably 30 pounds heavier.

Note: I hadn't thought of it until Chris Windeyer mentioned it on Twitter, dear God the litter. Iqaluit is bad for litter at the best of times, adding a Tim's is a bit like lobbing a nuclear bomb of litter to the mix. This could get ugly.

Last Five
1. A house where nobody lives (live) - Tom Waits
2. Look no further - Dido
3. Wild horses - Rolling Stones
4. Narc - Interpol
5. Someday - Ron Hynes

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I've struggled viciously with this one, so I ask your indulgence...

One of the most common questions I get from people looking to move to Nunavut, after questions about rent, is about whether or not the place is safe. I give the same answer, which is, "I don't think the place is any more dangerous than Toronto. There is crime, there is obviously a drug problem, but most of the crime tends to involve people who know each other. Assuming you're not stupid, then you should be fine."

So far, knock on wood, the worst Cathy and I have had to deal with was having the tires slashed on our car several years ago, and someone throwing a rock at our living room window when we lived in the NEU building. Most of the problems around the NEU building disappeared after I complained and the building owners put in cameras.

However, this has just been an exceptionally bad last few weeks. I'd blame the dump fire smoke for making people grumpy and crazy. Then there was this story, which caused more than its fair share of freaking out around town. Then there was Macleans listing Nunavut as one of the most dangerous places to live in Canada when it comes to violent crime.

And, of course, there is Cape Dorset completely losing its mind. Nunatsiaq's recounting of what the community has been through this past year reads like a horror show. And when the Globe and Mail's editorial staff shines the spotlight on your community, then things are getting bad enough that the normally obliviously southern media are paying attention. But, for the love of God, don't read the comments section on that editorial. It'll make you want to hurt people.

So yeah, October hasn't been a great month. It's been the icing on a bad year.

We were at the Cape Dorset print show at the museum yesterday afternoon. It's normally one of the highlights of the year for us. It's a great display of art, Cathy and I haggle over whether or not to buy some art (we didn't) and it's always fun to watch the ticket draw and the reactions from people if they did or didn't get their favourite piece of art.

But it was kind of subdued. Hard to be excited about all the art when you realize the place where all of the art was coming from was in the process of trying to destroy itself.

I honestly don't know what to tell people when they ask about the violence and crime anymore. Maybe it's a blip. I have a bad feeling it's more than that.


Look, I still recommend Nunavut as a place to move to. It's not for everyone, obviously. There are challenges to living here which I've gone into before - the cold, the isolation, the lack of amenities, etc. But we love the place. We've been here for five years and it's a good community at heart. But it does have problems. People are trying to solve them, but they're not easy ones to solve. It's going to take a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of patience and a lot of determination. It's going to take tremendous intelligence and even greater will. Those things are rarities at the best of times; I don't know how much exists in Canada, let alone in Nunavut.

I think the thing that frustrated me the most when writing this is that I don't like writing posts that offer up all the problems without taking a crack at what the solutions should be. But the solutions I've mentioned are so...generic. But I've got nothing. People who have lived up here for their entire lives appear to have been so shell-shocked that when these things happen, there's a weariness when it happens.

It'll be fixed one day, I'm sure of it. I just don't know when. Or how many other people are going to die or be hurt before then. And, like so many others who live up here, that frustrates the hell right out of me.

Last Five
1. Back in your hand - Tegan and Sara
2. Fisherman's blues - The Waterboys
3. In the shape of a heart (live) - Jackson Browne
4. Walter Reed - Michael Penn*
5. I can do without you - Kaiser Chiefs

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cute and disturbing

I did have plans to blog this evening, however I seem to be coming down with something. I've already taken Cold FX and some Advil in the hopes of beating this down before it becomes something more serious. Or perhaps I have Dump Flu or something, who knows.

However, in the interests of providing you, the patient reader, with some entertainment this evening, I give you two YouTube videos. One, a cute little thing. The other, the funniest, most disturbing thing The Simpsons has done in about 10 years. Enjoy.

Last Five
1. September Lilly - Hawksley Workman
2. New sensation - INXS*
3. I want you back again (live) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
4. Can't stop now - Keane
5. You won't make a fool out of me - Flogging Molluy

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


So if you speak the devil's name, he has a habit of appearing. Last night I mentioned the dump was still on fire. Fortunately during most of the few weeks that it's been smoking out there, the prevailing winds drove it out of town.

Today? Not so much.

It was kind of a swirling wind and most of the time it was blowing from the south. In terms of the weather, it was a beautiful day. Sunny, but in a nice, crisp fall day. If it wasn't for all the smoke blowing over the town, it would have been perfect. It produced a smell that, as one person said, smelled like old smelly socks being burned in a rusty oil drum.

It was around lunch time when things started to get twitchy. The schools decided to close, the argument being that the air quality inside the schools wasn't good for students. Then, about an hour or so later, the Government of Nunavut closed for the day. You can go to CBC and Nunsatsiaq to read their coverage.

Now, the fascinating thing for me wasn't that this happened. We've been lucky so far on the dump fire and I imagine before it's put out we're going to have a few more days like this. No, the fascinating thing for me was watching the reaction online, specifically Twitter. There was more than passing fury that the GN closed for the day and that schools were closed. The fury was expressed in the following ways.

1. Why close the schools? The air is going to be bad all over town, so what difference does it make if they're in school or at home?
2. If the air is so bad, why are kids playing on the playground?
3. Nunavut's chief health official said there is no danger in the smoke from the dump fire, so why send people home?
4. If there is a problem, why didn't the GN issue a public health advisory? Why were only GN employees at risk from these fumes and needed to be send home and not everyone else in town?
5. The air here is not so bad compared to other places, so suck it up.

So yes, quite the bit of outrage and surliness going on.

Lord knows I'm not going to defend the GN. Some of these gripes are probably very legitimate. However, I will point out a couple of things, just to counter-argue a bit.

1. Cathy's school was pretty well uninhabitable this afternoon. Going in there, even for a few minutes, nearly brought on an asthmatic attack. For whatever reason, the air inside the building was much worse than the air outside of the building. And her school has suffered from some air quality issues in the past. I can't speak for the other schools in town, but it sounds like the made the right call at hers.

2. Trying to decide whether or not to close the GN is one of those no-win situations. If you close, government employees are lazy bastards getting a day off. If they stay open, they're potentially putting their employees at risk. I'm willing to bet someone called Workplace Health and Safety and asked if they should be at work if they were feeling ill.

3. People react different to the fumes. I had a low grade headache and a bad taste in my mouth. I know someone who had her first nose bleed in years today. Cathy had problems breathing. I really think it's hard to develop a policy on what to do when the smoke blows over town. Some people are simply going to be hit very hard by it, some are not. Some will tough it out, some are going to take advantage of the situation and try to scam a day off. Develop a policy based on that.

4. I wonder if there is an argument to be made about people in Nunavut, particularly Inuit, simply not having as much of an ability to handle airbourne pollution as someone who came here from Toronto. If you come from a place where pollution and smog warnings are regular occurances, then this type of smoke is probably not a big deal. But if you're used to breathing the pristine air of Nunavut, this kind of crap could hit you hard.

As I said, lord knows I'm not defending the GN. The situation could undoubtedly have been handled better. But it is a weird situation and one that's not easily dealt with when there are a variety of factors at play.

But yeah, if the wind were to blow constantly from the south for a week or more, that's when things could start to get deeply ugly.

Last Five
1. Girls room - Liz Phair
2. Smooth criminal - Alien Ant Farm*
3. Sleazy bed track - The Bluetones
4. Working man's blues #2 - Bob Dylan
5. Never said - Liz Phair

Monday, October 11, 2010


So, first off, let's answer the really important question, the one that I've been getting posts to the blog about and emails.

Yes, the dump is still on fire. Not seriously on fire like it was the first few days, but yes, there is definitely still smoke coming up from there.

Seriously, I've gotten more questions about that than if I was all right or if the blog was going to be permanently shut down or anything like that. I'd be hurt, but when you have the friends I've had for the past 20 years, you develop a certain thickness of skin, a certain "Oh for fuck's sake, just suck it up already" that gets you through such things.

So why the absence? At first it was a few days of "I have nothing to write about." And then there were a couple of things I could write about, but when I sat in front of the computer, I wasn't feeling particularly inspired or motivated. And for most of the last week I was in Ottawa on a combination of meetings and a chance to try and do some Christmas shopping. I also got the chance to see an old friend and, at least for one afternoon, helped to keep her sane. Until her husband comes home. Then she's his problem.

That's the reason for the absence - Lack of inspiration followed by being pretty busy. I was also curious. Blogging had become a bit of a chore in recent months. One of those things where "Oh God, I guess I should blog now." I mentioned this to Cathy today and she reminded me that I said the blog was meant as a writing exercise. That there was supposed to be an element of discipline involved, where I would try and write every day, even on the days when I didn't want to. Especially on the days I didn't want to.

However, I think I was having too many of those days with not enough reward. I was curious to see how many days it would take until I got the itch to write again. As it turns out, quite a few days. Longer than I would have thought. I haven't checked Statcounter to see if anyone is actually still coming here. And I can only imagine what this break has done to my share price on Empire Avenue.

But I do feel a bit better after the break. Hell, I blog even when I've done on vacation. So let's consider that a bit of a blogging vacation and see if it's done anything to fire me up for the blog again. A lot did happen over the past 12 days or so. We had a small dog emergency, an anniversary of sorts, travels, visits with old friends, the frustrations of Christmas shopping and so on and so forth.

Oh, and curling. Oh yes, it's that time of the year again.

So tomorrow, back to your regular scheduled blog. Oh, and Lorie, I'll change the Flag on top of the blog this week, I promise.

Last Five
1. New favourite (live) - Allison Krauss and Union Station*
2. Boxing champ - Kaiser Chiefs
3. Boulevard of broken dreams - Green Day
4. Don't fail me now - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
5. Summer well - Interpol