Saturday, January 31, 2009

Qikiqtarjuaq...The Big Island

I spent the better part of the afternoon scanning some of my old pictures onto my laptop. I have a number of photos from communities I've taught in earlier in my career. I now have the bulk of one album scanned and I hope to scan more over the coming days, particularly pictures from my time in Qikiqtarjuaq and Fort Smith, NWT. I'm not sure how many photos I've amassed over the years. Several hundred I'm sure. I have something in the neighborhood of 12-13 albums altogether. As a small taste, here are a couple photos from springtime in Qikiqtarjuaq (Broughton Island), where I began teaching in Nunavut.

Introducing The Moon...Now With 10% More Light!

Friday, January 30, 2009

It Rises!

After many weeks, the sun officially rises this morning, at 12:20pm. We won't see it yet for a few more days until it rises high enough to pop over the mountains but its a treat to check the weather and see the sunrise/sunset times filled in. The sun will set at 1:38pm, right around the time our school's students vs. staff hockey game kicks off this afternoon.

Hungarian Highlights - Part 13 (Debrecen)

Link to Part 12

Debrecen - Hungary's second city, marked the easternmost point of my trip. The place had a relaxing Old World feel. The city had a single tram line and the high tech trams provided an interesting contrast with the historical buildings along the main promenade. It was also a very walkable city and, since I arrived there on a Sunday afternoon, very quiet, almost to the point of being comatose.

Coat-of-Arms in the main square.

Looking south down Kalvin Square from the top of the Great Church. My hotel is the large grey building on the right.

Debrecen's Great Church. This is where Hungary's Declaration of Independence was read out also where the first Parliament met. A statue of Lajos (Louis) Kossuth, Hungary's "Father of Independence" sits out in front.

More views of the Great Church.

My hotel in the background, a fantastic Art Nouveau building...and well worth every penny I might add!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pac Man Anyone?

My night time photography isn't the greatest but this picture actually turned out BETTER than I feared it would. I was able to capture this photo of Pac Man (aka the Moon) eating a dot (aka Venus) shortly after arriving home from work.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

If all goes well I should be able to get some of my old pictures scanned in the near future. (Well, I'm sure it will be my neighbour Kendra actually doing the scanning while I stand there trying to look like I understand all the technology behind the process.) I have about a dozen albums going back to my first year of teaching in the Northwest Territories. I'm glad to have them but they do take up a lot of space so I'm looking forward to being able to store at least some of them on my Mac. I'm also hoping that I'll be able to put some of them up on my blog to share. I took some time earlier this evening to pour through my old albums. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Birth and A Death

Of course, I couldn't possibly let the day go by without mentioning that it is the anniversary of the birth of W.A. Mozart. I had almost forgotten all about it. Something must be at work within my subconscious however because through some strange quirk, having forgotten the significance of today's date, I mailed off an order for some Mozart CDs on my way home from work. Nothing less than a box set of all of Mozart's compositions. Of course, I already have a box set of all of Mozart's recordings but I figure, hey, it's Mozart. One set is never enough.

And since Mozart was such a little wunderkind on the piano, this leads nicely into a second anniversary. The man credited as the inventor of the modern piano died this day in 1731. For such a far-reaching invention, you would think he'd be more of a household name. Embarrassingly enough, I was well into high school before I learned the name of the man who invented the instrument I love so much, a (now) obscure Italian by the name of Bartolomeo Cristofori. (My first piano was a wood and metal refugee my stepfather rescued from the Campbellford hockey rink if I recall correctly. Looking back, that piano seemed to be as old as one of Cristofori's original instruments. It brought years of great joy and great opportunity to my life. Thanks Bart.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Overlooking the Rhine

For some reason, rivers have always fascinated me. Ironic, considering that I can't really swim. Whether, it's the Mackenzie River, the Slave, the Danube or the Nile, these wonders of nature have always attracted my attention. Part of it is all the history (both human and natural) and all the various myths and local stories surrounding them. Part of it too, is just the great beauty. Like life, they are always moving, ever onward. They can be fragile. They can be resilient. There are many turns and tumbles but its always an interesting trip.

These two photos are of the Rhine River in Schaffhausen, Switzerland in June 2008.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Light Time

Here are a couple of random pictures I took on my way back from the Northern showing the increasing amount of daylight we now enjoy. They were taken shortly before 2pm this afternoon. It actually gets a little brighter than my pictures show here but after a long dark season, I'm certainly not about to complain.

The first picture is a little darker since I was standing in the shadow of the cliffs that surround the community.

Slovenia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Slovakia

A little self-indulgent perhaps, but at the moment I'm having a dilly of a time deciding between a couple of summer vacation destinations. For the past few months, I've been pretty set on Slovenia, having picked up a couple of really good travel books on the country. As I also discovered, getting to Ljubljana from Switzerland by train should be simple enough if can convince my dear aunt to put up with me for a few days. In recent weeks however, I've found the prospects of 6 weeks in Slovakia quite alluring (thanks Google Earth!). And now, I'm on the fence. I actually saw Slovakia last summer from Hungary though I never got over the border. I had planned to go there a couple years ago, but was so overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of Prague that I ended up sticking around the Czech Republic much longer than originally planned. Hmmm.....the names sound so similar yet they are both very different and attractive to me. It will be a tough choice. Unless something comes up to break the impasse, I may just have to flip a coin.

Speaking of confusion between the two countries, I once read how FORMER President Bush told a Slovakian journalist how much he had learned about his country after talking to the the Slovak foreign minister. In fact, it was the Prime Minister of Slovenia he had been talking to. Poor George! Slovenia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Slovakia. I'm sure he would have been even more confused if he had been told about Slavonia, which of course, is part of Croatia.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Try Building One Of These At Home!

Earlier this week as I was doing some classroom reading I came across an account of how a qamutik* (traditional sled) was constructed.** Qamutiik are pretty much everyday sights in Nunavut's smaller communities and great fun to travel on in the spring months. What made this qamutik interesting to me was how it was made. The account in the book mentioned how in traditional times, qamutik could be made out of fish in case of an emergency. Yes, fish. It seemed pretty surreal to me.

But no. The next day, a student showed me a video he had borrowed from the high school culture classroom showing two hunters doing exactly this, in -35C weather too I should add. The footage was good old black-and-white stuff from 1965 in which two hunters from Kugaaruk (Pelly Bay) made a "fish sled", first by lining up some frozen char and wrapping them in seal skins to create a set of runners. Once this was all frozen up, the two used caribou antler for cross-pieces secured with seal skin lashings. The finished product, pulled by a couple of sled dogs was strong enough to endure the bumps and ruts of the sea ice while transporting 2 adults and 2 children. I only wish I was able to show a visual of the feat. Pretty ingenious and indicative of how Inuit often took what resources they had at hand and made them work, simply because they had too.

I also recall once being told of how some locals, after breaking the prop on their boat, took a piece of metal and fashioned a replacement to help them get home. I don't recall exactly who told me this but I know Clare once mentioned it on his blog. Anyhow, I do plan to discuss a few more culturally-related things in the coming weeks as cultural items are one thing I hoped to write about when I started this blog so many moons ago. I will spend a week next month interviewing and learning from a local elder but I will write more about that as the event draws closer.

*the word is also sometimes spelled "kamotik", among a few others, though I believe many of these were crude attempts at rendering the Inuktitut language into Roman orthography
**Traditionally they were constructed of whalebone fastened together with strips of seal hide. Today they are made of wood, lashed together with rope with plastic runners. Not a nail to be found.)

"Wouldn't It Be Nice?"

The title popped into my head after a commercial advertising home insurance on television a few minutes ago. In many ways, it echoes a thought that has been floating around in my head over the past 48 hours or so. "Wouldn't it be nice" if the kid that popped me back in October actually got a real punishment instead of just "a whole lot of probation" as it was relayed to me the other day? What's the point of busting your hump when there are idiots out there that feel emboldened to do as they please to you because they know that in the end they will end up with little more than a legal version of being grounded? Thanks judge! You can fly back to Iqaluit and not ever have to put up with the kid again. Must be nice.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

3 Votes Of Separation

Another Nunie Awards has wrapped up (almost). The competition was a lot of fun, with many interesting twists and turns. There was a tie for "Best Blog" so there will be a run off to decide the winner. Congrats to Cindy, Matt & Our Furry Friends on being voted "Best New Blog". As for "Best Blog Post", it was a close race between Townie Bastard and myself. Every time I checked the poll, it seemed our two entries were always within a handful of votes, making it the tightest of the three races by far. In the end though Townie beat my infamous sewage truck post by a mere 3 votes. Thanks to all who took the time to vote for my post! Check out Townie's winning post. I recall it getting nominated in the recently-held Canadian Blog Awards, so I was up against some great competition.

Congratulations to all entrants. I've been part of the Nunavut blogging community for longer than most blogs on my sidebar and its great to see how things have really taken off, especially in the past couple years. And a tip of the hat is definitely in order to Clare for organizing the competition. The nice little bump in the number of visitors to my blog was nice to see. Who knows what the next Nunie Awards Competition will bring?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Letter That Pretty Much Made Me Cry

While I generally try not to put too many personal things on my blog, permit me to indulge myself just this once.

An envelope arrived in the mail for me yesterday after work. It was pretty beat up, a little tattered around the edges. It sure looked like it had traveled a long distance to get here, longer than most. When I held it closer, I could see that it had taken quite a long journey, and passed through many hands. The envelope had arrived here in Arctic Bay from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Inside was a status report from my World Vision sponsor child and she is doing very well. Well, perhaps not so much a child now. Judith has really grown up. I started sponsoring Judith a little over 8 years ago, when I first got involved with World Vision. I have sponsored other children over the years but Judith has been the longest by far. During my first year of teaching in Fort Smith, I had participated in a "30-Hour Famine" at my school. It was an eye-opener and soon after that I looked for other ways of getting involved other than just a one-time thing. To make a long story short, I made a phone call and got involved.

Judith turned 8 that year, a young girl living in a country once treated as personal property by the Belgian King when it was a colony; a country still racked by spasms of civil war. If a country could serve as a poster child for utter hopelessness, the DRC (formerly known as Zaire) would surely fit the bill. Unlike here, where a water truck can seem to take forever to show up, there, a water truck never comes. I remember thinking, the problem seems so insanely massive. Where the hell does anyone even remotely begin to fix this mess?! One child at a time.

Fast forward 8 years. Judith has really grown. She looks healthy. Her more recent pictures even show her with the beginnings of a smile on her face. And of course, the most heart-warming news for me as a teacher - if all goes to plan, sometime within the next year, Judith will graduate high school! I once saw the Oprah Winfrey Show, with guest Birhan Woldu and thought, "Wow, how incredible! One person truly can make a difference!"

I really should write her a note. It's been awhile since I last wrote Judith a little letter. Actually, yeah. I think I'll do that later on in the day. After I get the tear out of my eye.


Monday, January 19, 2009

The Mozart Effect

I've had Mozart on my mind today, but not because I've spent much time lately listening to any of his music. I've been an unrepentant Bachophile for some time now. So why is Wolfie on my mind? I've spent the past few days plowing through a biography on Glenn Gould...(and I need to finish it up soon so I can move on to a book on Canada's participation in WWI that I borrowed from Clare) A quote by Gould, where he remarked that the tragedy of Mozart was not that he had died too soon, but that he had died not soon enough, led me to many thoughts about the little wunderkind...Why did Gould only ever record just one of Mozart's piano concertos? Is there perhaps a Mozart trumpet concerto out there yet to be discovered? And so, through twists and turns, my mind jumped from pianos and trumpets to the Mozart Effect.

In essence, this was a theory that came out in the early '90's maintaining that listening to Mozart's music for brief periods of time can make a person smarter. The original study involved a look at how exposure to Mozart's music (especially his piano concertos!) affected a person's spatial reasoning. Somehow (and I'm not quite sure since I've never gone through the literature on it) this was misconstrued and the idea that Mozartian melodies could increase IQ was popularized. Its a nice idea, but purely bogus. If listening to Mozart really did increase a person's IQ, I'm certain I'd be some sort of level 10 genius child by now, given all the Mozart, I've played, performed and listened to over the years. Clearly, I won't be getting any invitations from MENSA in the near future.

I will say this though - I've found that certain music DOES help me to concentrate better for short periods of time. Mozart, yes but particularly J.S. Bach. Listening to Bach, with his very structured music, fugues especially, was helpful when studying or facing a tough exam...or sometimes for something as simple as waking up and focusing early in the morning (I'm a night person).

The theory has led to a niche market for all sorts of gimmicks claiming to improve your baby's intelligence, and while I don't put much stock in their claims, if I DID have a baby I'd much rather have them fall asleep to the 2nd movement of Mozart's K488 than oh, say, Nine Inch Nails. Exposing oneself to good music, at any age, is always a good thing in my book.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Now How Did I Know This Was Going To Happen?

How strange that I have this post entered in this year's Nunie Awards ( here) and here I am waiting for a sewage truck to grace me with an appearance so I can do a load of laundry?! Unfortunately, I'm not even feeling vaguely poetic tonight. I may have to resort to desperate measures.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why Must You Constantly Blame US?!

Note to Americans, (or at least FOX News)

Honestly, if I read or see one more news story blaming Canada every time you experience "Arctic-like weather", a "frigid air mass" or a "bitter cold front", I swear I'll march down the length of Baffin Island, hop over to Nunavik and continue right on down to the 49th parallel and have words with you. Honestly, it's getting tired. And last time I checked a globe, Alaska looked pretty darn north to me. Weather systems tend to track from west to east so seeing as Alaska is west of I where I sit, perhaps I should blame Americans for the -35C weather I experienced here this morning. But you know what? I don't. And why? Well, several reasons. First, it's called North America - North as opposed to South and since the northern hemisphere is away from the sun at the moment, that makes it winter. So guess what? It's supposed to be cold.

Second, its called Mother Nature. That's life. In Canada we don't whine about it (okay, unless of course we're talking about Torontonians or Vancouverites). Call me crazy, but I live in a country where we don't try to control everything or try to change the world to fit our image. If you can't suppress a Maine-sized country after 8 years, chances are you're not going to fare any better with something really big called Mother Nature, so why whine and moan about it?

And third, I guess Canadians are just tougher. Sorry but -25 IS NOT cold. It just isn't. And if it is, then dress for it. No use crying over it. I probably wouldn't be able to hear you with my big hat and hood covering my ears, anyway. I find it funny that a country that likes to boast and scream about being the greatest country in the world and how tough it is with its big military has a hissy fit the moment a snowflake touches the ground and the mercury drops below 32F. Don't you think there are many more important issues affecting your country and the world other than how you can't get to the mall for your Starbucks coffee and Walmart savings because, gee, it's -20?? Ooohhh.....brrrr....

A little advice if I can be so bold - It's called winter; it's called life; you can't control the weather and no one is interested in hearing you bitch about it. Time to suck it up. Grow a spine and deal with the weather. And don't blame Canada. It's getting old and we're just not interested.

Really, shouldn't you be more worried about losing nuclear weapons out of aircraft? That seems of great concern to me than a touch of cold weather.

High Noon...Arctic Style!

Long dark winters aren't very conducive to outdoor photography. But with the slow return of the sun that is slowly starting to change and I am looking forward to getting more outdoor photos of the area up on my blog. It will be about another 3 weeks before the sun gets high enough over the mountains so that I can actually see it. But for now, I certainly won't argue with the views. If only my camera could do it full justice.

High noon in an Arctic community. See? It's not so bad.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friends! Countrymen (and Women)! Lend Me Your Vote!

Given the large amount of votes already cast, I'm sure most people in the northern blogosphere have already cast their vote, but, on the off chance you haven't, or if you happen across my ramblings by chance, go here and vote for "Best Blog Post". The race between Craig and myself has been pretty tight. As a matter of fact, in the time its taken me to type this post I've seen my nominated post go from a tie with Craig to being up by two votes and then back to a tie again. I don't have pictures of cute babies or pets, but during the long winter months, I am a lean mean snow-shoveling machine...and I'll even bring my own shovel!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How Lucky Is This Guy?!

The one thing that never ceases to amaze is how potent a force nature is. The "conveniences" of modern have so encroached on the modern world that I think we often forget about this. Here I am sitting on a comfortable bed in a well-lit room with a Mac Book on my lap...a little Bach on the ipod. Pretty comfortable digs. And then I read a story about this Nunavik hunter's harrowing night on an ice pan. What an incredible tale of survival!

A couple years ago I learned of a similar from town told of how a number of local hunters out seal hunting found themselves trapped on an ice pan that broke away from the shore. I was surprised by how nonchalant the man who told me about the story was. I'm no hunter and I don't get out on the land as often as I wish so I can only imagine what my reaction would be. Perhaps something like this - scream like a little girl, run around the ice pan whilst flailing my arms about in an hysterical manner, kissing my posterior farewell.


I've been tagged by Allmycke, author of Teepe's Blog. The instructions are as follows:

1. Go to your documents.
2. Go to your 6th file.
3. Go to your 6th picture.
4. Blog about it.
5. Tag 6 others to do the same.

Here is what I dug out of the old archives...

This photo was taken in a small southern Bohemian town a couple years ago, near the headwaters of the Vltava River (I think this little stream is just a side channel) which eventually feeds into the Elbe before crossing over into Germany. Part of the castle is visible in the background along with the appropriately named Round tower, which reminds me of something straight out a Hans Christian Andersen tale. I can also make out the umbrellas and patio of a restaurant I ate at while I was there. I don't recall its name but I remember the food was excellent. I had a nice chicken dish there, not because it is my favourite (I much prefer a good steak (medium rare) with mushrooms) but because the word for "chicken" was one of the few Czech words I could pick out on a menu with any degree of confidence.

....and to tag 6 bloggers, I'll pick Clare, Kara, Kennie,
Craig,Kate and Curtis

Note to self - okay, Darcy, very cute. You managed to pick 6 names that all start with the same phoneme. Now get the dishes done, already!

Hungarian Highlights - Part 12 (Gyula)

Link to Part 11

After a couple of long travel days across the bottom of the country involving about 11 hours over bone-rattling roads, on an old bus with no washroom, I arrived in Gyula. Gyula (pronounced d'you-la) was my little oasis on the plain, close to the border with Romania. It was a little out of the way and I gave serious thought to giving the town a pass but in the end it ended up being a trip highlight.

Gothic-style Gyula Castle. Seeing it reminded me of the old CBC children's show "The Friendly Giant."

My hotel, backing onto the canal.

Inner City Church, dating from 1777.

Romanian Orthodox Church, dating from 1812.

Water fountains surrounding Lajos Kossuth Square.

Ladics House, a glimpse into how a typical 19th century bourgeois family lived.

Known only to Hungarian nationalists and musical pedants, this house (now a museum) is the birthplace of Ferenc (Franz) Erkel, the man who wrote operas as well as the music for Hungary's national anthem.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Media Hog

Chances are, if you live in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories, you've seen this article before I have. It usually takes a couple days for the weekly edition to find its way up here from Iqaluit as was the case this week. For those of you looking at the guy in the big picture and thinking some crazed lunatic has escaped from the local asylum, set your minds at ease. This is part of the article that was printed in News North, following a telephone interview last week about blogging in Nunavut.

Just thought I'd pass this along to the folks back in Ontario.

**For the curious, I was eating seal meat. Kendra took this picture last August at a community gathering a short distance outside of the community.**

He Shoots! He.....

...doesn't score - because my nephew was the goalie, of course! My nephew was in a pretty big tournament this past weekend in Oshawa, Ontario. I was prevented from mentioning anything about it due to hockey superstitions on the part of my sister. Plus, in terms of future development, it was a very important weekend and since my nephew reads my blog from time to time, I didn't want to unfairly put too much pressure on him. Now, however, I am free to use my blog to brag all I want as any proud uncle would. Needless to say, my nephew's team won the tournament. He only lost one game during the entire weekend. And since it happened to be the first game he played, we'll just chalk that up to pre-tourney jitters. He still managed to win MVP anyway. The real exciting part was that he's been AP'd by the AAA Major Bantam Team. As I found out, this is hockey-speak for "affiliated player" meaning that if the Major Bantam team needs a goalie for one of their games and it doesn't conflict with HIS team's schedule, he'll be "called up" to play. I could be wrong, but I believe Major Bantam is for 14 and 15 year olds and Cole just turned 13 back in September. So, it's definitely a good opportunity for him. Even if he doesn't get called up, its still a big vote of confidence for the kid. Good stuff bud!

And The Voting Begins

Refreshingly, we now have something non-political to vote on. Voting is now open for this year's Nunie Awards. There are a couple blogs in the "Best New Blog" category I nominated that I'd like to see do well since I read them fairly regularly. I also have an entry in the "Best Post" category so lend me your vote if the spirits moves you. Simply following the links below to vote in each category.

Best Blog

Best New Blog

Best Post

Good luck to all entries!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Slow Return

Slowly, infinitesimally it seems, the daylight is returning. An orange tinge now appears on the horizon where shortly before there was only darkness. The first picture is a view from my classroom across Arctic Bay (the water...or rather frozen water) around 12:45pm this afternoon.

This picture shows King George mountain at the same time as the above picture. Due to my photographic limitations, this shot came out a little darker than it actually was outside at the time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

This Is The Best I Can Do

Sadly, for someone who's lived in Canada's North for the better part of the last decade, I can only boast of experiencing two real blizzards (and the last one was almost 5 years ago now that I think of it). I'm sure this explains my fascination with ever blizzard story I hear. Due to a combination things both climactical and geographical, blizzards in Arctic Bay are pretty rare events. Arctic Bay DID experience a storm of sorts last August however, no weather warnings were issued. That storm was remarkable more for the fact that it happened in a "summer" month and not because of any great havoc it caused. I have yet to encounter a true blizzard here in town and I haven't heard too many harrowing tales of them from people who have lived here longer than me.

Apparently there is quite the blizzard kicking up at the moment in the Kivalliq Region (this would be the relatively flat plain of the central arctic region, a.k.a. the big flat part north of Manitoba). So I've read with interest what other bloggers from the Kivalliq have written from the communities of Arviat, Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet.

The only recent pictures (the best I can do) that I have at the moment that come anything close to a blizzard are this one from last month, which was taken where I grew up in Ontario the day after I arrived at my parents - a bit uncomfortable by southern Ontario standards but nothing to really sneeze at over all.

...and this picture was taken as my flight from Ottawa was landing in Iqaluit about 10 days back. Again, nothing earth-shattering, but as I said it's the best I can do for now.

Like a Democratic impatiently waiting for George W. to finally leave the White House, I too, wait patiently to experience the wondrous power of a true blizzard. I like blizzards - from the warmth and comfort of my living room, of course.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Big Deadline

In case you weren't aware or had forgotten (for shame, for shame), tomorrow, January 12, is the last day to send in nominations for this year's Nunie Awards. Nominations for "Best Blog" and "Best New Blog" can be emailed to nunavutblogs AT yahoo DOT ca. There is also a category for Best Blog Post. Each blogger gets to nominate one of their posts they feel is deserving of this title (which I've already shamelessly done so), so I'll see how my pick fares. The top 5 nominees in each category will then be voted on for top prize.

Yes, we even have prizes! And what are they? Well, thanks for asking. Prizes include a knitted cap, courtesy of Clare from Arctic House, who is running the contest, along with a stylized badge for the winning blogger to put up on their sidebar. Jen, of Jen of Nunavut renown has 2 badges on her blog for winning "Best Blog" and "Best Blog Post" in last year's contest. For "Best Blog", the winner receives an acrylic painting. For "Best New Blog", the prize is a $25 Northern Link card, donated by Rob and Tina from Just Below 63. The winner of "Best Post" wins a travel mug with a Nunavut blogging crest on it, courtesy of Jen.

I've seen the Northern blogosphere expand quite a bit since I began blogging, from around 5 or 6 to around 40 blogs I'm aware of. In fact, a great many of the blogs on my sidebar came to my attention as a result last year's Nunie Awards competition.

On a related note, I was contacted yesterday at the school by a northern newspaper and interviewed about my blog, as part of an upcoming article on the 2008 Nunies. I suspect I was contacted more because I happen to live in the same community as Clare, who is running the contest and because Kendra and I both work at the same school, making it easy to get two interviews with one phone call, rather than because of any great writing on my part, though. Anyhow, fellow Northerners can look for that article in next week's edition of News North. And for relatives back home, I'll be sure to save a couple copies and mail them off to you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

...and I Thought I Had A Thick Skull!

While waiting for a connecting flight last weekend in Pond Inlet, I happened across this polar bear skull on display in the airport terminal. I don't really have any information about it other than the fact that, as the small attached card reads, this skull is considered to be the second largest specimen ever found.

Friday, January 09, 2009


Off and running with work. It was a busy week but a good week, getting back into the groove after two weeks of sloth. I teach 4 classes this semester and I had recess duties so I was constantly on the go. I'm pretty organized and I've taught my courses a number of times, so it just takes a few days to get back into my stride and then I'm good to go. It's still nice to have a weekend now to look forward to so I can get some work done and finish getting set for the semester. Attention-wise, I really wish I felt like my parents' cat, engrossed in a hockey game....

At the moment, though, my brain is more like...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

So....It IS Possible!

I remember one time back in grade school asking a teacher what would happen, if during an election, two candidates ended up tying. What would happen then? I remember being introduced to the concept of a by election but, I was assured, ties never happen, so really it was all just academic. I suppose I can't fault my old teacher too much. After all, elections usually involve such a large number of voters that the odds of a tie are probably akin to my odds of fighting off a polar bear armed merely with a rusty spoon and a stick of butter.

As I discovered earlier this evening, when you have a smaller population and hence a smaller number of constituents heading to the polls in a place like Nunavut, ties following an election are possible. Truth be told, I'm surprised this doesn't happen a bit more often. Typically, in many Nunavut ridings, only 400-500 votes might be cast, and because we don't have political parties (in the consensus-style of government employed here) almost anyone can run for a seat, so it's entirely possible to have 5,6,7 or more people battling it out for those 500 votes. In the recent territorial election the incumbent in my riding was defeated by a mere 8 votes if I recall. In the riding where I lived a few years ago, the differential was something like 6 votes.

So what does this all mean? Maybe I outsmarted my old teacher, even if it wasn't really done with a great deal of intention. As far as a full slate of MLA's meeting when the Legislature reconvenes later this month though, yes, it will mean a delay in filling the one vacant Cabinet position left open pending the result of the (to be announced) by election. Democratically, what does this mean? Does it mean people can't make up their minds? I don't really think so. If anything, it's an indication of just how much power the voter has, which, in a democracy, is a good thing.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"Variations of Increasing Complexity"

It's not often I run across a tune in my music library that in some ways echoes my work. If any Baroque keyboard piece was capable of this, I'd have to say it was the Scarlatti harpsichord sonata in A minor Kk61, a set of variations (the only one in his entire corpus of sonatas), "of increasing complexity". First day of school after the Christmas break. New courses to be taught. A weekend flood which led to our entire primary end being closed off to students. This tune echoes my life at certain times, perhaps a reason why I enjoy it and find myself continually pushing the repeat button. It's always great to be able to hear good music at the end of the day!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2008 Nunie Awards...Let The Nominations Begin!

Clare over at Arctic House has announced the start of this year's Nunie Awards. You can head over there for more details. The categories are:

Best Blog

Best New Blog

Best Blog Post

Nominations will be accepted until midnight, January 12. I finished 4th last year in the "Best Blog" category I believe, so shamelessly I again ask my readers for a nomination. You can nominate as many as 5 blogs for each category and voting will commence shortly after the January 12 deadline. You can e-mail your nominations to nunavutblogs AT yahoo DOT ca. You can nominate as many as 5 blogs for the categories of "Best Blog" and "Best New Blog".

Last year's contest was fantastic as it brought many new blogs to my attention, many of which have now become regular reads. My sidebar includes blogs from all the 3 Northern territories so just be sure it is a Nunavut blog you are nominating (although of course, they are all excellent reading to me). I have a few ideas in mind for nominations so I plan to go through them and e-mail my choices off to Clare over the next couple days.

So, if you want to nominate me, thanks. And if not, that's okay. It's just nice to see the great writing on Canada's newest territory that's out there in the blogosphere get some recognition.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Kamiik in Campbellford!

For the first time in......well, ever, there was enough snow on the ground at my parents' to allow me to wear my sealskin boots (kamiik) outside. (Predictably, a couple days later, the bulk of the snow was gone.)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Fly This Way! Fly That Way!....Gurgle, Gurgle!

After 3 loooong travel days I find myself back in Arctic Bay tonight. There's a saying that it's not the destination but the journey along the way that something something. Very true. Just when you think you've seen everything.

I left Ottawa Friday morning without a hitch and over-nighted in Iqaluit. Other than being woken up at 1am by a somewhat inebriated hotel guest who had apparently wandered into the wrong hotel, no big problems. The fun stuff began this morning. I actually thought I was ahead of the game, since my flight left 15 minutes ahead of schedule. But I had heard some talk in the terminal that the road from town out to the airport out at Nanisivik had not been plowed so there were worries about the flight not being able to land. Apparently the runway was not plowed either....always nice to hear while sitting on a plane en route. So, we land in Pond Inlet. Again, no big deal as we were already scheduled to stop in there anyway before popping over to Nanisivik.

The fun began when we landed in Pond and were told that Nanisivik's runway and the road leading to it were still buried in snow. Hmm. This was the first time I have encountered a flight (anywhere) being delayed to "bad road conditions". So, in order to buy time to clear the runway it was decided that our plane would carry on to Resolute Bay with the passengers bound for there. Then, it would attempt to land at Nanisivik (by then, hopefully plowed), drop off the Arctic Bay-bound cargo, return to Pond Inlet and pick up the Arctic Bay-bound passengers, head back to Nanisivik and drop us off before making the 1200km flight back to Iqaluit. To make a long story short, this all translated into a 5 hour layover in Pond Inlet. Fortunately, my superintendent bumped into us in Pond so my principal, another colleague and myself were able to kill a couple hours at her place rather than sit around at the terminal.

All this to say that since I am writing this, my flight was obviously successful in landing safely on a nice plowed runway. It's good to be home. School was supposed to start tomorrow. While in Pond though, I learned that our school was flooded due to a burst pipe. All I have heard so far is that it was "very bad" though the situation is being worked on. So, no school for tomorrow at least.

hmm.....Happy New Year??'s STILL good to be home.