Monday, March 31, 2008

Hold yer Nose B'ye!

Regular readers might think I've gone off the deep end as of late, what with all the focus on the seal hunt and animal-rights activists. Indulge me one more post and I promise I'll return to my regularly-scheduled program for my next post. I came across this story yesterday so I decided to post it to show the hysteria coming from the dark side.

If Paul Watson ever turns out a suspense novel, I just might be tempted to lay down a few bucks. He sure knows how to ramp up the rhetoric. (Ice flows are flowing red...horrendous cruelty and slaughter...worst slaughter that I have seen...pathetic little corpses...violence rules out here...I'm a hermaphrodite....and so on). Unfortunately, this tripe relies solely on some pretty reliable "eye witnesses" but then its not like he'd ever let facts stand in the way of a good story.

I'm assuming he had this article published in a New Zealand newspaper as no respectable Canadian daily would touch this garbage. I love how he ends his piece though.....gripping suspense ain't it? "The icebreaker Amundsen is now returning, crashing through the ice towards us again..." I suppose if there are no more updates we can all fill in the blank ending to that one.

Special thanks goes out to Kendra for her technical assistance for explaining to me (several times) how to set up links on my blog. Its a brave new world!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Canadian Seal Hunt - The Facts

In 1978, famed underwater explorer Jacque Cousteau stated to an audience of 16 000 animal rights advocates, "The harp seal question is entirely emotional. We have to be logical. We have to aim our activity first to the endangered species. Those who are moved by the plight of the seal could also be moved by the plight of the pig."

At the time, the population of the North Atlantic harp seal herd was 2 000 000. It is now 6 000 000. Throughout the 400 years of harp seal hunts they have never been endangered.

Also, in 1978 there were three species of seal on the endangered species list - the Caribbean Monk Seal, listed in 1967; the Mediterranean Monk Seal, listed in 1970; the Hawaiian Monk Seal, listed in 1970. Today there are six species of seal on the list, including the same three species when Cousteau made his speech.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) assists 2 of these 6 species. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) does not help any. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) does not help any. Perhaps they should have listened to what Cousteau had to say. Then again, if there is one thing that is consistent between protesters both then and now, it is a total lack of logic.

Seals are skinned alive? Think for a minute here. Seriously. Ask any hunter or abattoir worker. Skinning a dead animal is a challenge in itself. Now, if anti-seal protesters make the case that seals are solely harvested for fur, then why would a hunter ruin a pelt by attempting to skin a live animal?? Think about this for a minute. You hold a wiggling animal in one hand and a sharp blade in the other hand. This makes no sense unless the person doing the skinning is intent on carving off a few fingers or a hand. Seal hunters are not barbarians. They are my neighbors. Do these prodominantly urban protesters consider a wildlife officer called out to kill a nuisance bear running around their nice little suburb a barbaric person?

Unfortunately, anti-seal protesters have been easily manipulated by groups who are apparently more concerned with monetary contributions than species longevity. Animal welfare dictates the killing of animals is acceptable as long as it is done in a humane manner and that conservation is ensured. Over the past decade Canadian seal hunt kills have averaged 300 000 animals. The harp seal population has experienced steady growth over this period, which proved the success of conservation.

In the late 1970's with less regulations than are in place today, the Excecutive Director of the International Society for the Protection of Animals, Trevor Scott, said, "While we do not support the killing of any animals, we consider the slaughter of the seals in Newfoundland to be humane." So really, why are all these protest groups fighting a humane conservation-minded hunt of a common animal but not helping other endangered species?

Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was once asked if his and other groups fight against the harp seal hunt because it is easy to use the issue to raise money. His response: "Well, it's definitely easier to make money and it's easier to make a profit because there are over a thousand animals on the endangered species list, and the harp seal isn't one of them."


OOPS!!

I guess it can be tough to fight on an issue when you base a great deal of it on human emotions. Facts suck, huh Paul?

Incidentally, Paul Watson was part of Greenpeace until he was kicked out in the late 1970's for advocating a greater degree of extremism. John Hoyt, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States drew a salary of around $200 000 in the mid-1980's to run the organization. My oh my how we can make money by exploiting that iconic baby seal pup.

Suggestion - there are 4 other sealing nations in addition to Canada. One of these is Russia. Canada has the most regulated hunt on the planet. How much regulation do you think is involved in the Russian seal hunt with the collapse of communism in the late 1980's? Let Canadian sealers be!

Clarifications

I had received a pretty ignorant comment from a reader that to me summed up the attitude of the anti-sealing crowd. This prompted me to write up my little piece of sarcasm the other day. Now, normally I publish all comments readers send in. However, I refuse to publish comments with profanity. My blog, my rules. I realize that I won't sway the anti-sealing crowd with my arguements. However, I have my opinion and I have a right to speak it.

I think it is important to distinguish between the East Coast commercial hunt and the subsistence hunt that takes place here in Nunavut. Anti-sealers fail to do this. Here, the entire seal is used. Seal fur is used to make clothing (mitts, boots, and coats) I have seen a few seal fur coats in my time here. My assistant Principal has an absolutely gorgeous one that she made herself.

The anti-sealing crowd would have us believe that it is only baby seals that are killed. However, I have lived here for 5 years and have never seen a single one (dead or alive). Most of these people don't seem to appreciate the cultural significance of seals here. Heather Mills said on CNN that no one eats seals for crying out loud. I'm still laughing over that one. Guess what Heather? I eat seals, my neighbours eat seals, my students eat seals, our mayor eats seals etc. So much for that arguement then.

Yes, but according to anti-seal activists the sea ice is just awash in seal carcasses. Oh really? I look out on the bay here in town and let's see.........well there are a few dog teams out there along with their attendent ravens as well as a few qamutiik and skidoos. No bloody seal carcasses to be seen.

So you might ask, why do I even care? Afterall, in many ways I am still an outsider. Well, the actions of these people can sway governments. The actions of Brigitte Bardot led to many European nations (Germany, France, Belgium etc.) banning the import of Canadian seal products. This has a significant impact on the economy here, especially in smaller communities. There are no economies of scale here other than government employment. These actions of a few attention-seekers serve to deprive Inuit hunters of much needed income. Seal hunting provides vital employment in my community. I see the results of unemployment and under-employment on a daily basis in the form of young students at my school. This is the reality I face every day. Protesters, who are predominantly urbanites do not have to deal with this. They are insulated from this reality. Furthermore, I am tired of these people pushing their views on people. That is why I care so strongly about this issue.

I recall once seeing a news story in which a protester was confronted with the notion that there are people on this planet that make a livelihood through subsistence hunting. His response was incredibly naive. He basically said they should buy food at stores. He said something to the effect that "If they can put oranges on a plane and fly them out to California, they can fly them up to these people too." Yeah buddy, oranges. Now, I'm not sure what you pay for them in California but the last time I bought oranges, I paid $8.99........for 6. These people like to put on an air of superiority but they seriously have absolutely no idea of the human consequences of their actions.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Am An Anti-Seal Protester

Yes, I am an anti-seal protester. That makes me better than you. You see, I went to a university and have lived my entire life in an urban environment. I am also a vegetarian. Naturally, this makes me better than you. Even though I grew up and lived my life no where close to the ocean I still have the right to tell sealers that they are wrong. Because I'm better than you. I do not feel the need to go into a community where harvesting seals is a way of life because I am arrogant. I don't need to associate myself with these people because I am culturally superior. People in these communities be they in rural Newfoundland, Nova Scotia or Nunavut should just get jobs or move or something. Yes, it is a simple answer to a complex socio-economic problem but it is my solution so it is the right one. In Nunavut they should just get their food from stores. They should eat oranges or something.

Anyone who disagrees with my views is wrong and deserves to be smeared because well, they are just wrong and I am right. My culture is superior because it is European. There is no need to prove or debate this. I am Anglo-Saxon and that just makes me better than you. Because I am better than you, that gives me the right to tell you how to live your life and pursue a livelihood. If you come at me with facts, you are automatically wrong because I say it is so. Yes I am an anti-seal protester. My belief is the right belief. My opinion is the right opinion. My facts are the right facts. My culture is the superior culture. I am an anti-seal protester and I just know everything.

Culture Slaughterers - Yes Sea Shepherd Society This Means You



Seal skins make great winter mitts. I support the seal hunt.

Yes its that time of year again. The seal hunt is set to kick off for another season and once again anti-seal hunt groups like the Sea Shepherd Society (true media whores that they are) are determined to meddle and interfere. All fear their little ship "Farley Mowat". Now personally, I think Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Society, is an obnoxious loudmouth and highly illogical. Um, you do realize Paul, that if you take your views to their logical end then all humans really should just commit mass hari kari and the world would be better off. Actually, you can have your theory. Personally, I'd rather live in the real world and gladly stand up for a culture and part of the world I've grown to appreciate and love.

So the Farley Mowat cometh. I got curious about this story after seeing some coverage on Newfoundland Television and started to poke around to see what I could find out about the ship's crew. How informed/intelligent/logical are these people. Well let's see.......

The "captain" is Alex Cornelissen from Amsterdam. Of course, Holland has a very strong sealing culture. He sounds clued in to me for sure. I have to wonder though, would any one want to be on a ship driven by a this goof from Amsterdam of all places? (toke toke cough cough)

Hmmmm.....crew members from North Carolina and France......tons of seals in those places (in zoos!) There are also crew members from Australia and New Zealand and while I'm willing to concede there may be some seals off their waters, I seriously doubt they have much appreciation of issues being faced by Inuit in places like say Pangnirtung or Pond Inlet who rely on seals for income and food. But wait! All is not lost. There are a couple Canadians on the crew. Surely this will restore some sanity when you have an anti-seal protester from Winnipeg and Saskatchewan. SASKATCHEWAN? Are you kidding me?!

While there is humour and sarcasm to my words there is also great anger and frustration. It boils my blood that arrogant and ignorant idiots like these espousing a "holy than thou" attitude, feel they can slander an entire culture and way of life from the safety and security of their urban lair. Spend some time up here (no not just 2, 5 or 10 days) and get to know the people and culture before you condemn it.

Clueless statement from a crew member - "I'm excited to take part in the seal campaign because it is terrible the way they kill the seal for fur, for profit...it's not justified!!"

Neither is your ignorance. Sorry there, but in my world human rights trump animal rights.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Paying Homage

More than any other composer Beethoven helped usher in the Romantic era. He formed a bridge between classicism and romanticism and was one of the first composers able to make a decent living without having to rely on a wealthy patron. He died 181 years ago today in Vienna. While I doubt the story of him dying in the midst of a violent thunderstorm whilst shaking a defiant fist, the image certainly appeals to me. A lock of Beethoven's hair along with a lot of other cool Beethoven paraphenalia is housed at the Ira F. Brilliant Centre for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University, a place I look forward to visiting one day.

Beethoven contributed much to the Western musical tradition through his symphonies and piano sonatas especially. While I cringe at the thought of playing Fur Elise (a simple yet well-known bagatelle, it is the bane of piano students I'm sure much like the opening of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is the bane of string players the world over), I was fortunate enough to get my playing skills up to the point where I could play the opening movement of his Sonata Pathetique - a bear of a piece but still great fun to play.



I took this picture in Prague last July outside a house the great master frequently stayed at during his many visits to the city.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Not...Going...To...Make...It



I received a nice little invite from my alma mater this afternoon. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it of course. No rest for the wicked.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Concerts

A few days ago Townie Bastard did up a little quiz to his readers on rock concerts so I thought I'd join in. Shockingly, as enthusiastically as I discussed Mozart yesterday, I actually HAVE been to the odd rock concert (a huge gasp goes up from the crowd.) I've only been to two rock concerts in my 33 years (sad but true) which actually suits me just fine since Townie's quiz has exactly 2 questions to it.

1. What is the best concert you've ever seen?

This is an easy one for me. Around 10 years ago (maybe '97 or '98, I don't totally recall) I had the privilege to catch Burton Cummings live in Windsor Ontario, playing at the Freedom Festival. I listened to Winnipeg's hometown rocker a lot as a young kid, playing my Mom's LPs of him and mimmicking his piano playing on the back of an old armchair. (Shortly after that, my stepdad got me my first piano). Burton played a lot of old favorites at that outdoor concert by the river which transported me back to carefree days. Funny thing about that concert was, I swear to God I was the only one there under the age of 40!

2. What was the first concert you ever went to?

This was a Kim Mitchell concert I went to see with my aunt Janice back sometime in the mid-80s at the arena in my hometown of Campbellford, Ontario. I don't recall too much about this concert since I was pretty young at the time. I do remember being shocked because Mitchell had no hair (and has even less these days) and also a bit disappointed because, well, you see, turns out Kim Mitchell was a guy.

Friday, March 21, 2008

March Moon

M22



It takes a lot to keep me inside on a bright sunny day like today. In this case I was spending some time looking through my latest musical aquisition - M22 - a complete DVD set of all 22 of Mozart's operas, performed live in Salzburg in 2006 to mark the 250th anniversary of the prodigy's birth. Most of the productions feature the Vienna Philharmonic along with the Vienna State Opera so I was interested to see and hear.

I came late into opera. Truth be told, I didn't spend much time listening to it in university. I just found it hard to get in to. I knew some of the plots and was familiar with the more well-known overtures but other than that the world of opera was undiscovered territory for me.

I checked out Don Giovanni since I was interested in comparing it to the live version I saw in Prague last summer. The music was fantastic of course. The production itself was quite untraditional. Rather than set the actors in the expected costumes of Mozart's day, they were all decked out in modern 21st century chic which I found a bit odd. The setting involved a giant white structure of interlocking circles. I thought this was pretty sterile and rather distracting. The daughter's of the underworld were replaced with some rather scantily clad (and in some case very scantily-clad ) underwear models, if you know what if mean. Honest Mom, I did close my little eyes.

Compared to the staging of Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro was a little less avant-garde, which suited me just fine. Over the years I think I've seen large pieces of this opera and most if not all the arias so it was nice to finally see the entire production from start to finish. Susanna rather than Figaro (the same actor who performed Leporello in Don Giovanni by the way) really stole the show for me. The only new twist was the addition of a cherub-like figure not in the original who functioned to personify the ideas of fury and eroticism that run through the opera. I thought this was an interesting modern twist. Perhaps Mozart himself would have liked it, though I did find some of the cherub's on-stage antics distracting from the main action at certain times. The Vienna Philharmonic was under the baton of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, one of my favourite classical period conductors and a definite bonus in my mind. At any rate, I'll give this performance 4 opera-glasses out of five.

The other opera which I've managed to finish off this afternoon was The Magic Flute (ah, Die Zauberflote! Try saying that 5 times fast.) Zauberflote is known as a singspiel-type opera which basically means there is spoken word involved in addition to all the screaming and shouting. I've always had a soft-spot for this work. The overture alone is one of my favorite Mozart pieces and there are 3 or 4 arias that also rank among my favorites, including "Der Holle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen" (Hell's vengeance boils in my heart), likely the most difficult piece in all of opera. The set had a circus-like feel and came across as a bit garrish at times, but it still worked for me. At its heart, Zauberflote is a story of love and adventure, a great piece of escapism.

I'm looking forward to taking a look at some of Mozart's earlier and more obscure operas. For the most part these are rarely, if ever performed. A few were written while he was still a teenager and his first true opera, Apollo et Hyacinthus, was written at the tender age of eleven. Ah, can't wait to dive in and see what new gems I can find!

I suppose opera isn't everyone's cup of tea. But for me, its all about love, revenge, magic and adventure - and it works for me!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Still Blame The Vaccuum Cleaner

Monday morning, I wake up - no internet. No big deal. I unplug and reboot everything. Nothing. Ah, well, not a huge deal. I don't really need to check the weather. I can just step outside. And I can get my news and sports fix over the lunch hour at the school. Monday evening, though, no internet. Okay this is getting wierd. I haven't had connection problems like this since the 'net crapped out on the whole town a year ago last January.

So I rack my brain. What's going on here? Then I remember Sunday afternoon and the vaccuum cleaner. Like the good little Molly Maid I am, I always make it a point to give my livingroom carpet a good once-over on (most) Sundays. Only this time I got the router's adapter cord wrapped around one of the vaccuum's wheels. I guess I pulled on it with a little too much relish. (Our livingroom has cords running everywhere - for the tv, stereo, 2 laptops, the cable cord and the satellite cord - love the marvels of wireless technology!)

Anyhow, fast forward to Tuesday. This is when I discover some exposed wires on the adaptor cord and clue in. Ah that's why I don't have internet. Well, wait, it can't be the cord otherwise I wouldn't be getting all those fancy blinking lights on top of the router. Oh!.......uh oh. It all comes back. I had knocked the router off the window sill. At this point I decide its the router that's the problem. So much for my $150 deposit. (My housemate Monty managed to fix the adaptor so I knew that wasn't the problem.)

I phone the guy who serves as the local contact for our service provider and explain my vaccuum faux pas. I find out that there are actually 3 different types of adaptors but I haven't the slightest clue which size in particular I need. He tells me he won't have any new adaptors or routers until his next shipment comes in on Thursday. And, oh yeah, your account has been suspended. Hmmmmm......interesting. I had just updated my info a week ago since I had a new credit card plus I wanted to upgrade to a faster internet package anyway.

Anyhow, in the end I paid the man a visit. He conveniently lives just down at the end of my street. Very quickly, he processed my credit card info and soon enough my internet signal was up and ready. But I maintain my innocence in all this. I still blame the vaccuum cleaner.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Way Way Up Is Two!!

Way Way Up is two years old today! Hard to believe my blog has now reached the two-year mark. I never really knew what directions my blog would take when I started out but its been an interesting ride - a published magazine article, an interview for a faculty magazine with my alma mater, a Nunie nomination, a congratulatory letter from Pope Benedict. (who knew?)

It's pleasing to know that after all this time I still have plenty of fodder for posts (363 posts since I began blogging) and that people actually read it - 32,691 visitors over the past year. A big thank you to my readers who have left me well over 400 thought-provoking comments. Feedback is always welcomed of course and at times has provided a nucleus for new posts.

What's in store in the future? In the coming year, look for more incisive commentaries, informative observations and other general wackiness. Time to break out a big piece of chocolate cake and celebrate.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Arctic Winter Games Part 3

Long-time readers of my blog (all 6 of you) and fellow Northerners will know of the Arctic Winter Games that ran all last week in Yellowknife and finished up yesterday. Team Nunavut won 67 medals (ulus), 15 gold, 27 silver and 25 bronze. Our humble Arctic Bay contingent won 4 silver and 3 bronze ulus (hope I counted that right). Good job guys! Arctic Bay sent about 5-6% of the athletes yet you won a little over 10% of the territory's medals. Fantastic accomplishment!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

The plan for this afternoon was to head up to Nanisivik. I haven't been up there in quite a long time and the new RCMP member, my housemate and I wanted to visit a sign (more like a group of signs) that had the names of all the home towns of the miners that used to work out there. We hoped to make our contribution by adding to the sign and take a few pictures. We left under cloudy skies but the ceiling here in town was pretty high. We made it out past the turn off to Nanisivik and were about 2km from our goal when we (or rather the truck we were in) ran into a wee bit of snow that had drifted across the road. The winds were so strong they had compacted the drifts into the same consistency as cement. Sure, we'll make it, we thought. Ah, famous last words.

Digging out was fun.






The thought of needing to take a taxi back into town popped into my head for some reason. We found out we weren't the only ones battling Mother Nature today. On the way back to town, we bumped into the taxi van on the way out to the airport.



We had our little adventure even though it wasn't what we intended. Luckily there are always other weekends.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Notes from the North

1. Last time I checked the medal count for the Arctic Winter Games, Team Nunavut had 54 medals...ulus really. (An ulu is a traditional woman's knife with a half-moon-shaped blade). Just like their round-shaped cousins, they come in gold, silver and bronze. Currently the 54 total break down into 13 gold, 22 silver, 19 bronze. I've been waiting patiently to see how the junior boys basketball team fares. No word yet but they are scheduled to play Team Yukon for the gold medal sometime tonight. One of Team Nunavut's players is from town here.

2. I'm quite grateful to one of students after he somehow fixed my ipod earlier in the week. I have no idea what was wrong with it and no idea what he did to it but all I know is that is works and I'm very happy. Relieved too since I had over 5300 tracks on the blasted thing before it went all wierd on me.

3. In an interesting development to my little hissy fit from last night, I caught word today that a territorial election will be held Monday, October 27. Perhaps I'll vote afterall. (evil laugh).....How many incumbents can we unemploy this time?

4. I'm pleased to see that Parliament has voted to extend our mission in Afganistan. I know this may go against the tide of public opinion because it seems politicians are always telling us how we feel, but I'm glad our troops are there because it is the right thing to do. Pulling out now flies in the face of years of Canadian involvement when the going gets tough, dating all the way back to WWI. Getting out would be a travesty. Shame on Stephane Dion (who quite obviously has a political weather vane where most people have a heart).

5. I had blogged a bit earlier about my nephew's PeeWee team. His team was knocked out in the Ontario semi-finals last week. They lost a tough series against Dunnville. Considering this is as far into the playoffs as the team has ever gone, I'd say it's a pretty impressive accomplishment. (I know Mom's proud of you Cole.....and so am I!)

Brighter Mornings

Its refreshing to no longer walk to work in darkness. A rising sun casts pleasant colours in the sky this morning.



A pleasant crescent graced the sky yesterday morning.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Accountability in Politicians?!

My head is still spinning from reading the news but I'll try to keep it together long enough to finish this post. Bear with me.

Let me see if I have this right: Nunavut's Finance Minister resigns over failure to disclose some business connections. He is then replaced in the cabinet by an MLA who was forced to resign his seat in 2000 after being convicted of sexual assault (he was later re-elected in 2004.) I can't say that I'm impressed by this. Frankly, its just sad. What kind of leadership by example is this, exactly? Why won't my government enact legislation to prevent nonsense like this from happening?

Now, as hard as this is to believe, it could have been worse. Yes, worse. I suppose the Finance Minister could have been replaced by the Minister in charge of the Housing Corporation. He was later found to be in arrears to the Housing Corporation....defaulted on his mortgage. OR...I suppose the Cabinet could have chosen MLA James Arvaluk. He was Nunavut's first Education Minister. He resigned from the Legislature TWICE - in 1995, after being convicted of 2 sexual assaults and again in 2003 after being convicted of assault causing bodily harm. And the consequences? He was re-elected in a 2006 by-election!

When Arvaluk was re-elected I did write a strongly-worded letter to one of the territorial papers and I called him out on my blog inviting him to come into my class and explain why women should be treated as equals rather than sex objects. I haven't heard from you yet, James (my invitation is still out there).

Back in university I was fairly active in politics, joining a political club, taking out membership in a federal party and volunteering time during a provincial election campaign. My youthful idealism has now been replaced with a rather putrid dose of cynicism toward politicians and elections. Will anything ever change? Doesn't the electorate deserve better? A general election is due to be called in Nunavut within the next year. Should I even bother to vote?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Arctic Winter Games Part 2

I didn't get a chance to check the medal standings last night as I had dozed off. As of this morning, Team Nunavut has 16 medals (2 gold, 7 silver, 7 bronze). Arctic Bay athletes picked up a silver and a bronze yesterday in the Snow Snake event, bringing our contribution to the territorial medal haul to 4. I'm not all that surprised that our athletes have performed so well in these events since I see kids practicing them all the time through a large part of the year. So......four of Nunavut's 16 medals are from Arctic Bay...not too shabby!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Medal Update From Arctic Games

The first thing I did this morning once I had my morning coffee was check the medal medal results from the Arctic Winter Games. Nunavut now has 9 medals. Two of these were won by students of mine, a silver and a bronze, in the Stick Pull Event (more on that later). Three other athletes from town also finished in the top nine. A good start to the competition so far. Good work guys!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Arctic Winter Games

The 2008 Arctic Winter Games kicked off yesterday in Yellowknife and will run until March 15. Think of these as a northern version of the Olympics. The competition features traditional sports such as basketball, hockey and volleyball as one would expect but adds a Northern twist with sports that are not that well known in the "South" such as snow snake, knuckle hop, high kick and airplane.

Naturally, I am keeping an eye on the competition to see how Team Nunavut and Arctic Bay athletes in particular, make out. Team Nunavut is sending 262 athletes and if I have counted correctly, Arctic Bay's contribution is 15 athletes. One student is going for basketball and others are competing in traditional Inuit sports. We are also sending a team to compete in Dene Hand Games. Dene Hand Games are unique for us because Arctic Bay is the only Nunavut community sending athletes to this particular sport. Dene Games are not indigenous to our part of the arctic but they have really caught on in our community due in no small part to the unbounded enthusiasm of our recreation director. At the 2006 Games, Arctic Bay athletes took gold in Dene games so I'm very interested to see how the team fares this year.

In 2006, Team Nunavut garnered 75 medals. Perhaps this year they will break 100. And yes, I do have a few predictions. Team Nunavut will pick up at least one gold in boys badminton and I'm confident that our indoor soccer teams will all reach the podium (the junior boys team from Iqaluit is very solid). My team played against them back in November and Iqaluit had a phenomenal team. In most of the other age divisions, the soccer teams are coming predominantly from Rankin Inlet, a major powerhouse from the Kivalliq Region. I'm also predicting that Arctic Bay's contingent in Dene Games will repeat their 2006 gold medal performance. Arctic Bay athletes will also put in medal-winning performances in the Inuit sports as well. Competition kicked off earlier today so I will be checking the results frequently. (Go to www.awg2008.ca) Its going to be an exciting week.

Out of curiousity I decided to check out the NWT page on the Arctic Winter Games website to see if I recognized any names from my days in Fort Smith. Turns out a few names rang a bell. Of course, it was hard to recognize faces since it's been 8 years since I lived there. I did teach at least a couple of them back when they were perhaps 12 or 13. I also recognized the young NWT athlete who read the Athlete's Oath during the opening ceremonies as a former student of mine from my first year of teaching. Dang, they all look so grown up now. I feel old!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Silent But Deadly

All I'm going to say is that when this happens to your sewage vent...........



it doesn't take too long before you take notice and head out with a ladder and a kettle.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

King George in Daylight!



Friday, March 07, 2008

In Their Own Words

Sometimes when you don't think teenagers are listening or that they just "don't get it", you get a pleasant reminder that indeed they are.

A strong peer message. (It might be a bit hard to read due to camera flash but check it out).........



A couple weeks back an orange laminated sign, with the words "Student Messages" written at the top, showed up in a display case outside my class. Later in the day I noticed what one student had posted on it. A strong peer message. Yes, they do listen. Hanging around outside a class instead of bettering yourself inside a class is definitely not cool.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

It's A Cool, Cool Breeze

Because I was bored and because I wanted to see if I had the guts to do it....and because I had my camera handy.......stuff like this happens.........






Now I'll never finish off my shampoo from my 2004 sealift.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Random Thoughts

1. I'm patting myself on the back for having this summer's planned adventure in Hungary more or less worked out. I hope to stay as far away from television as possible so as not to subject myself to coverage of the US Democratic Primaries which look like they will drag on painfully and relentlessly ad nauseam.

2. I must remember to pick up a pair of decent sunglasses this week. The sun is back with a vengeance and I suspect my frequent headaches earlier in the week were a result of adjusting back to all the sunlight. (Eyes to brain: What is that yellow colossus? Brain to self: It burns, it burns!)

3. We now have a photocopier at the school to work with. The 2 former ones gave up the ghost just before Christmas. They were brand new copiers from last year but I really shouldn't go into any more details. It took some time before the new one arrived and I am very glad for it. Since we are not exactly swimming in textbooks and resources here, not having a photocopier presented a major challenge to delivering lessons. It really forced me to get creative at times. And while I welcome diversity as a good opportunity to show off my planning and teaching abilities......dang it sure is nice to have a copier!

4. One of my favorite blogs is back. "The Adventures of Matt and Kara in Kugluktuk" has now become "The Adventures of Matt and Kara in Faro". Their blog was one of the first northern blogs I discovered, and in my blog's early days, quite a bit of my traffic was a result of their blog. Be sure to check out this new blog. (http://wenttofaro.blogspot.com) I've added it to my sidebar as well.

5. I like short hair. Tonight, I uh.....decided to make it a bit shorter. Yup, it's pretty much all gone now. I've decided not to shock you with a photo tonight but I might get one up in the next few days. I'm not sure how practical the new 'doo is in -30ish temperatures but I'm confident this town is big enough for at least one skinny, white bald guy!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Poor Kevin Taft

Normally I don't pay too much attention to provincial elections. Even elections in Ontario (where I grew up) usually don't cause me to rush to a tv or computer screen to drink in the latest results. I haven't lived in Ontario for the past 7-8 years and other in provinces where I have lived and worked, I was never really around long enough to take much of an interest in provincial ranglings. Nunavut doesn't have party politics so I don't find them as exciting. (But we are due to have an election up here within the next year so maybe this will change depending on what issues come up.) Anyhow I did find myself drawn into tonight's Alberta election, if only because I was curious to see how the Stelmach PC's would fare. I figured the PCs would win but.......dang! I didn't think they would pull in the results I'm seeing at the moment.

I'm not sure how the opposition parties could be so incompetent. I mean come on, the PCs have been in power since before the Ark and the Liberals/NDP can't come up with one single issue to mount an effective campaign?! Yikes! Partisan politics aside though I must admit that I can't help but wonder what it will be like with essentially no opposition. In the end though, you always get the government you vote (or don't vote) for.

I suppose democracy can be a double-edged sword......and I think it just fell on Taft and the Liberals.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Swing Month

March is a big swing month here as we will get ever increasing amounts of daylight. At the moment the sun is up for just over 9 hours. By the end of the month, it will be up for about 14.5 hours. Daylight Savings Time is just around the corner too. Hard to believe. Yes I love March. We also get more inclement weather this time of the year it always seems as the increasing sun gives us more fog and cloud (just like today). But I take it all instride. After 5 years, I still find it stunning how quickly the days lengthen.

Today I find myself being a big sloth. I'm back into the classroom tomorrow after our Professional Development Week here. The sessions I had were very good (classroom management strategies and ESL strategies). Much of it was more applicable to junior or intermediate grades but I did pick up a few teaching ideas I look forward to trying out in the future. AND the information was helpful should I decide to take the plunge and get into administration in the future.

I also want to stick close to my laptop today as my sister down in Ontario has been feeding me updates on my nephew's play-off games. His team tied up their series yesterday with an overtime win and they play again later this afternoon. Cole should be eligible for the draft in 2014. I know he'd love to play for Ottawa, his favorite team, and given how crummy Ottawa's goalie situation has been of late, I'm sure they could use him. Good luck kiddo!