Saturday, June 07, 2008

Potpourri

1. I have to admit to being pretty slothful today. I don't have too much to finish up with before I head off to visit my parents early in the coming week. The students last school day was Thursday. My duties officially end on Monday afternoon. I just have a few odds and ends chores to take care of and I'll try to get ready for next August as much as I can before the day ends.

2. I took a closer look at the old piano in the staff room yesterday. A colleague at the school told me the thing pre-dated the mining days out at Nanisivik. Apparently it was the school's first piano and if I'm not mistaken the oldest parts of our current school were built in 1967. Anyhow, I opened up its lid, took off the soundboard cover, removed 4 crayons from inside and an old crumpled photograph that had found its way inside somehow. What I discovered was not too surprising given the instrument's age but unfortunate because it is beyond my ability to fix. For one, I found a couple strings missing from their tuning pegs. Most piano notes actually have 3 strings to them and 2 of them were missing from a note smack dab in the middle of the keyboard. You can still play this note. It just sounds a lot thinner than the adjacent ones. The other problem I have yet to solve is that when you play a few notes in octave just above Middle C, something in the mechanism which operates the individual hammers is either loose or rubbing against the adjacent hammers because pretty much every note I played in that octave caused 5-6 notes to play at the same time.....5-6 very out of tune notes too, I might add. So, its not looking good for this old girl. I'm pinning my hopes to the piano in my classroom. Its a Yamaha just like the ones I'd practice on in university. Sure, they're no Steinway but they are sturdy, with a good sound and, (as this particular instrument is a good example of) built to last.

3. The mercury is steadily creeping up, hitting +7C yesterday. Its refreshing to only need a t-shirt and windbreaker when I head outside. I usually don't worry too much about the weather back South. I figure that since I'm not there, there's not much sense in checking it out. I only allow myself to do this in the few days before I am due to fly out only so that I have an idea of what to expect. I really need a couple days to adjust to the heat and humidity and its always nice to have at least one cooler day in Ottawa before the hot stuff hits to allow my body to adapt. Last I checked the fore casted temperature for my flight day was +20C which should make for an easy transition.

4. Of course, I better adjust to this temperature difference soon as I fly over to Europe on June 19. Last summer, it got brutally hot during the second half of my trip. Thankfully, Hungary has fewer hills than the Czech Republic does. I've decided to pry myself away from my travel books. I'm only planning to take a couple with me while I'm over there. I find if I spend too much time pouring over them, I get in the habit of trying to cram too many things into my trip. I came close to doing this last year. There is just too much to see really and try as I might I know I'll never see it all in the time I have. I find myself fascinated with castles and architecture so like last summer, that's likely what I'll be focusing most of attention on (aside from the odd musical performance, of course.) I'm also tempted to stay at a couple fancy hotels while I'm there. Just to say I did it. The exchange rate of forints to Canadian dollars is a bit lower than it was last summer but it is still quite favorable. I can live without the luxury of a 5-star hotel. In some ways, its just not me. Too many old men and suits and elderly matrons walking yappy little dogs for my taste. But I figure, a few nights in a grand hotel in at least one of the places on my list to visit is in order. I can't go there for 6-7 weeks and not do it at last for one night. After all, you only live once.

5. Oh yeah, I changed my blog header. Its a view across Arctic Bay from last November, just as the bay was starting to freeze over.

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