Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Killing Rumours

Yes, the rumours are out there - musicians are all artsy-fartsy, wimpy even. Hey, I understand. The word "pianist" is funny enough. Careful, how you say it now.* Anyhow, where was I? Oh yes, musicians are a tough bunch. Case In point - Bach. (Happy Birthday by the way, Johann). Now, this guy was dedicated to his art.

When he was 20 he traveled - on foot - 400km (one way) from his house in Arnstadt to a place called Lubeck. And why would any sane person want to travel to Lubeck? He wanted to see an organist there by the name of Dieterich Buxtehude. Buxtehude was the foremost German organist of the day so Bach came calling to learn from the great master and perhaps score employment with him. Apparently, the choir he was responsible for back in Arnstadt was about as musical as a....well, I can't think of a good analogy here but Johann was looking for a change. The only problem was that he didn't have permission from his Arnstadt employer to take this trip. He was dismissed shortly upon his return.

And why did he return? Why go back to Arnstadt and substandard musicians when you could learn from a master like Buxtehude? Turns out even Bach had limits to how far he would go to pursue his love of music. One of the stipulations Buxtehude laid out as a condition of employment was that the successful candidate (Handel of "Messiah" fame also applied) had to take his fair daughter's hand in marriage. Now, I have yet to come across any record of Bach's take on this prospective bride but evidently he wasn't very impressed as he best a hasty retreat back to Arnstadt soon after meeting her. (Handel also did like wise).

Bach also later got into a fight with a bassoonist after insulting the guy. Who knew bassoonists were so sensitive? But the instrument does look like a piece of bamboo and the business end of a bong had a love child so there you go.** The scuffle came to blows and Bach even drew out a dagger and was prepared to defend himself when the bassoonist stumbled into his arms. The two fell over, grappling on the ground before a few music students pulled them apart.

Bach later spent a month under house arrest for forcing the issue of his dismissal. Sure, it was the county judge's residence he stayed in and not one of those dank, dirty dungeons but still...weren't all these old dead composers supposed to be and prim and proper, dull and boring? Bach was only a couple years younger than me at the time and I know confinement of any time drives me crazy.

So three little anecdotes of mental and physical toughness from Bach. Gifted organist? Definitely. Outdated compositional technique? Maybe. Wimpy?...This tough old Saxon? Never.

*This sentence may or may not be a reference to an event years ago where my sister who was perhaps 3 or 4 blurted out in front of polite company about how her big brother was a "pianist"....only she mispronounced "pianist" for another word which I won't mention. Yes, I was embarrassed at the time (even though I didn't get it). Yes, sis and I still joke about it.

**For the record, the bassoon is my favorite reed instrument.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Arctic Bay Online Atlas Launch

Check out the new website featuring an interactive map of Inuktitut place names from the area surrounding Arctic Bay. This is a joint project from Inuit Heritage Trust and Nunavut Youth Consulting. It's a little slow loading on my computer at the moment but my connection has been on the slow side the past couple days. Be sure to check it out. I've added the link below to my sidebar as well. I'm definitely going to peruse this new website and hang on to it as a valuable teaching resource.

Arctic Bay Atlas

Press Release

March 23, 2009
Launch of Arctic Bay Online Atlas
Inuit Heritage Trust and Nunavut Youth Consulting are pleased to announce the launch of the ‘Arctic Bay Online Atlas’ website. It will be launched on March 30th, 2009 from 10:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at the Nunatta Campus of Nunavut Arctic College. Presentations and light refreshments will be served.
For the past three years, Inuit Heritage Trust and Nunavut Youth Consulting have been working in conjunction with Nunavut Arctic College and the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre at Carleton University. In addition to over 300 traditional names, there are interactive maps in which you can hear the place name spoken, you can follow the 2008 Pangagujuinq Nunavut Quest dog team race from Iglulik to Arctic Bay, as well as explore videos and images of different places and learn about some of the artists in Arctic Bay.

“Inuit Heritage Trust is happy to be supporting the exploration of different ways traditional place names and mapping can be presented online” says William Beveridge, Executive Director of Inuit Heritage Trust.

Cybercartographic atlases are on-line, 'living atlases' that use a dynamic, interactive mapping interface, along with other forms of mapping and multi-media information to engage people in creating online interactive maps related to their communities.

“Drawing on the wisdom of our Elders, the youth of Arctic Bay have collected valuable information to preserve our local history” says Ron Elliott, Nunavut Youth Consulting project manager. The project has provided employment for youth, valuable learning opportunities and a website which will act as a store house for the information gathered. The project in its entirety has been running for 5 years and started as a Literacy partnership between Nunavut Youth Consulting and Nunavut Arctic College.
For more information, please contact:
Ericka Chemko, Project Manager, Inuit Heritage Trust (867) 979-0731, echemko@ihti.ca
Ron Elliott

Buffalo Roll

As I was editing a few of my older pictures today, I came across a nice little set of a group of bison I drove past during a trip to Wood Buffalo National Park. What a sight to see! Just wanted to share.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Little Blog Meets Big World

It's rare that I get hits from so many countries in the span in a single day. Or perhaps I do and just lucked out and checked my stats at the right time. At any rate, I find it quite satisfying to have such an array of visitors, spanning almost every continent. I do get visitors from Australia and the occasional one from either South Africa or Egypt....perhaps they've just fallen off the page.

Friday, March 27, 2009


According to the calendar Spring has arrived, although you wouldn't know it from the chilly temperatures here. My thermometer read a chilly -37C when I awoke this morning. While I don't know the exact science behind it, I believe it has to do with the fact that the sun (and we get plenty of that now) heats up the upper atmosphere enough so that the underlying layer of colder air is forced down closer to the ground. Warmer temperatures appear to be just around the corner though judging from the forecast. At any rate, the thin cloud cover today produced a rather large halo (called a perihelion I believe) around the sun which made for a dazzling view from my classroom window this afternoon.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Teacher Retention In Nunavut Revisited

This is the time of year when things get busy with staffing - teachers make decisions about whether they will remain or not and postings for vacant positions begin to appear. A little over a year ago I wrote a post on the issue of teacher retention in Nunavut. I've found over the past year that this is among my most viewed posts on this blog with prospective teachers contacting me after happening upon this entry. I thought I would link back to the original post and provide a small update in the hopes that interested teachers will find it useful.

Regarding what I wrote back then in terms of "Do's" and "Don't's" and how to make the most of your experience I can't really think of anything new to add. I thought about doing up something along the lines of a section of "Frequently Asked Questions" but since for many people that could be a very long list and I don't want to bore anyone with reams of information its probably best to send me off an email. That way, anything I'm not sure about I can get back to you on. I would also encourage you to visit any of the Nunavut (or other fine Northern blogs) on my sidebar. Some are written by other teachers in a better position than I to comment on certain communities.

So what's the update? As part of its push to fill more teaching positions with Inuit, Nunavut Arctic College in cooperation with the University of Regina will see its first graduating class of NTEP (Northern Teacher Education Program) students here in Arctic Bay this spring. The program has been offered here in Arctic Bay and will be run in other small communities in the future. I believe there will be 6 graduates this spring. Most of them I suspect will apply for teaching positions here at our school though they can of course apply to schools in other communities. So we will have new faces on staff here in the fall.

As for my own future, I haven't made any firm commitments though I have to say that after 4 years I'm feeling a little settled and I'm definitely not looking forward to the prospect of moving all my junk any time soon. And not to jinx myself since it may just be wishful thinking on my part but I can now confirm that after a few days pondering it over, I did decide to submit a resume for the principal position at my school here. So you never know.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fire Alarm With A Twist

This afternoon at the school we had a fire alarm with a twist. The little twist was that there actually was a fire of sorts. Recess had just ended and I was doing some paper work for a class I teach when the alarm went off. I thought nothing of it at first, until the lights went out just as I was exiting the classroom. Outside I didn't see anything out of the ordinary although a colleague mentioned smelling something burning down around the office area. But I didn't see any obvious signs of fire.

Shortly after I saw a small group of students running around the side of the school toward the back. Perhaps something was up, I thought. So I followed them to see if there was anything untoward going on. Normally when I don't have students under my care, as was the case at that exact moment, I try to make myself useful by helping out with the younger students. So that's what I decided to do. Reaching the back of school I still didn't notice any danger although a side door, leading into the hallway where the wood shop is located, was wide open.

There was no sign of smoke and then a bell sounded giving the all clear. It wasn't until I was back into the high school hallway that I noticed a distinct odour...a fire extinguisher smell. In the main hall I noticed the door leading down the stairs to the wood shop was closed. So something had happened. I was about to return back down the hall when curiosity overcame me. I headed downstairs to the shop for a peek. Turns out a spark from a grinder had ignited some saw dust and a piece of wood. The small amount of smoke and the fire extinguisher that a staff member had grabbed to put the fire out had triggered the fire alarm.

I have been in a situation 5-6 years ago where there was quite a serious fire at a school I was working in and its not an experience I would wish on anyone when you have a building with 500 students evacuating. Needless to say, it was a relief that there was no damage and no injuries as a result. Whew! I can now return to my regularly scheduled day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm So Guilty

Seems that there is classical music fit for just about any occasion given some of the CD titles that have arrived in recent days..."For A Lazy Afternoon", "For Coffee Lovers", "For A Sunday Morning", "For A Dinner Party", "Dinner For Two"...and now this...

Whoever said classical music was boring?

Monday, March 23, 2009

FOX News....Where 2+2=5

The recent stupidity of FOX News commentators mocking Canada and its Armed Forces was a surefire way to get my blood pressure up. Afterall, the rumours about social studies teachers are out there. We're nothing if not patriotic. I was going to put a link to the video but I'd rather not sully my blog with the reeking detritus that is FOX News commentary. Rather, I started thinking what if I had to write report card comments for Red Eye host, Greg Gutfeld. I wonder how they would read?


Greg Gutless....er....Gutfeld...(Is that a surname or a neurological disorder?)

Dear Ms. Gutfeld


- engages in destructive self-stimulating behaviours (ie. banging head against the blackboard)
- insists on spelling his name with a "6"
- does not appear to be toilet trained yet
- frequently mentions sleeping with a stuffed George Bush doll
- fails to grasp that "pizza" is not a state capital
- refers to Dick Cheney as "my daddy"
- does not understand the benefits of toilet paper
- engages in highly inappropriate touching with class bully Bill O'Reilly
- frequently states that Ann Coulter is his biological father

Additionally, if you could bathe your child on a daily basis and send them to school with a drool bucket (or failing that, a large bib) it would be greatly appreciated.

(Feel free to add your own)

And yes, I know this tool issued an apology but hey, sorry Greg, its not good enough. Gutfeld, Benson, Schulz (nice tie by the way....were you ever beat up in school? I bet you were)....wipe the retarded grins off your faces, grow up, learn what comedy is, learn about your Allies, get educated and grow a brain!


In my last post I mentioned a place name Kivitoo (alternatively spelled Kivitu). Its a place about 50km (31 miles) north of Qikiqtarjuaq (Broughton Island) off Baffin Island's east coast, a place that has worn many hats over the years. A number of people from Qik had cabins in the area and return their every spring for fishing and caribou hunting as they have been doing since time immemorial.

Kivitoo aka FOX-D

The place, lying on the coast, just outside the boundary of Auyuittuq National Park provided an anchorage for Scottish whalers, who set up shop there during the whaling season. Evidence of these early visitors can still be seen today in the form of the many old barrels scattered around. These barrels would hold the whale oil which the whalers harvested from the whale carcasses. In the early 20th century, the Sabellum Trading Company established a post to take advantage of this. As the whale population became fished out, the whalers moved on to pursue other populations and the trading post was shut down in 1926.

Kivitoo was reincarnated in the 1950's when a small radar was constructed as part of the Distant Early Warning Line. A small village sprang up on the coastal plain below the heights and a runway, serviced by DC-3's was constructed. FOX-D, as the site was referred to, was constructed as an "Intermediate" site, helping to link together the slightly larger "Auxiliary" sites of Broughton Island (FOX-5) and Cape Hooper (FOX-4), located further north heading up the coast toward Clyde River. So close was Kivitoo to the FOX-5 site at Broughton that you could in fact see the lights from its tower on a clear night. FOX-D was never very large, supporting a rotating staff of only a handful of people. As the DEW Line became obsolete, the site was closed in 1963 and the surrounding Inuit population moved south to Broughton Island (Qikiqtarjuaq).

FOX-5 - now dismantled; for photos of FOX-5 from August 2004, see here.

Unfortunately, I only have a precious few photos from the area around Kivitoo in my personal possession and none of FOX-D itself other than what I could find online. I was only able to visit there once. I was participating in a community walk back in the spring of 2004, raising awareness of the problems of suicide that seem such a plague on Canada's North. Anyhow, I camped there over night in a cabin across the bay from FOX-D. It was rather foggy and overcast which limited my photo-taking opportunities considerably. I was also fighting cold fingers and developing a case of snow blindness but that's a whole other story. The whole area has a raw and rugged beauty to it and given the chance I would love to return.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rugged Beauty

These photos were all taken in the vicinity of Broughton Island and Kivitoo on the east coast of Baffin Island during 2004-2005.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Club Sandwiches....not so simple, PETA

So I've now returned from the store armed with the prices for all the ingredients I need to make my club sandwich. I should mention that here in Arctic Bay we have two grocery stores, the Northern (formerly the Hudson Bay Company) and the Co-op. It was the Northern that I went to since a) it was closer and b) hey, I was hungry, I want a club sandwich. I sought out prices for the least expensive item (if available).

The price list....

Bread - There wasn't any bread on the shelves when I checked actually, but I did purchase a loaf of "Country Harvest Prairie" bread yesterday on my way home from work...cost - $5.25

Mayonnaise - Again, there wasn't any on the shelves. But I did purchase a bottle early in the week (a very small one I might add) for $3.45

Cheese - Kraft Cracker Barrel 200g...$5.49

One head of Lettuce - $4.19

Tomato - Again, there weren't any in stock. I then decided to head over the Co-op. I found one. One single tomato. But seeing as it looked like it had seen better days, I decided to make due without.

Chicken - sliced chicken, Best Value 175g - $2.95. Incidentally, I also saw a 2kg bag of crispy chicken in the freezer - for the low low price of $71.49.

Bacon - Maple Leaf 500g - $9.49

Mustard - well, given the prices so far, I'll just bum some off my room mate. I'm sure he won't mind.

Sub Total - $30.82 - and I don't have everything on my list
GST - $1.54
Grand Total - $32.36

And in case you think I'm making this all up, I invite you to take a peek here at some prices typical of those found in isolated northern communities. They come courtesy of Kendra at Tales From The Arctic.

Now, I'm no hunter. I know the cost of hunting supplies can get pricey too. But I'd venture that a bullet for a seal costs no where close to $32.36.

Club Sandwiches??....um sure PETA, sure

A few days ago I came across an interesting picture courtesy of Stageleft. Don't club seals, club sandwiches? Club Sandwiches? Don't these MENSA wannabes realize these things contain meat?? Ah well, you can always ignore idiots. I can't however, ignore my taste buds. I love club sandwiches! Since these protest groups are so powerfuly suggestive (afterall they dupe the gullible out of millions every year to promote their warped value system) I suddenly felt the urge to eat a club sandwich. Now, since we have no sandwich/sub shops here in Arctic Bay, this means I'll have to be creative and make my own.

Club sandwiches.....mmmm....I'm thinking nice fancy bread, lightly toasted, bacon, chicken, perhaps some turkey, a little mayo, a little cheese, some lettuce and throw on some tomato. My mouth is watering already! Ok, I have my little shopping list. Off to the store we go!

(to be continued......)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Impressive Stats

As I've been a little preoccupied lately thinking up ways to mock and torment the anti-seal hunting crew, I've neglected to keep up on my nephew's hockey progress. His team won their quarter final series against Clarington and then moved on to play Barrie, Ontario, a team I believe they also faced last year. All the games were close but Cole's team ended up dropping the series three games to one. While his season is at an end, he is still a busy lad. Try outs for next years AAA Bantam team are upcoming and my sister told me that he was also recently selected to take part in a pretty exclusive hockey clinic. Only 72 players from his age group from across Canada are invited to take part and only 10-12 goalies, of which Cole is one. If I recall he'll be working with the goalie coach from the Detroit Red Wings so it should be a fantastic and unique experience for him I'm sure. To close off, here my nephew's stats from the season that my sister passed along to me. Not included are the playoffs and one of the tournaments he played in but I post them here anyway for the sake of posterity and gloating.

Games Played - 23

Wins - 18

Losses - 3

Ties - 2

Shut Outs - 6

Goals Against - 39

Goals Against Average - 1.69

Saves - 334

Save % - .895

Welcome Spring!

Sure my thermometer reads -33C at the moment, but today marks the start of my favourite season so I don't mind it at all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Education in Arctic Bay: The Early Years

The modern era of education in the NWT (which also included Nunavut at the time) had its beginning in 1955. This was the year in which a unified system of school administration was established under the newly formed Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources. The late 1950's saw a flurry of school construction.

Here is my understanding of the growth of the school here in Arctic Bay. Any mistakes are my own and I welcome any corrections and clarifications.

Arctic Bay's first school began as an old Department of Transportation building that was converted into a small grade 1 to grade 4 school in 1958. The first teacher, Margery Hinds, was also a witness to the "High Arctic Relocations" in 1953 when a group of Inuit from Inukjuak in northern Quebec (along with a few families from Arctic Bay and neighbouring Pond Inlet) were moved to what is now Resolute Bay. Subsequent teachers included the good and the not so good. Kenn Harper, who taught here from 1968-75 is a businessman, historian and one of the few Southerners I know of who speaks Inuktitut fluently. He still resides in the North and his columns featuring Arctic history are published weekly in Nunatsiaq News. Maurice Cloughly, who taught in a number of different school in addition to Arctic Bay, is infamous for the number of charges of sexual abuse he was been convicted on.

In 1958 the community, had a population of approximately 300 (which I assume also included the outlying camps) and a school population of 15. In 1967, a new two-classroom school was constructed on the site of the current school with additional classrooms added in 1970 and 1976. By 1970, the school had a staff of 3 teachers and 66 registered students from grade 1 to 6. In 1971, the school was given the name "Inuujaq School" after an elder. While I'm not 100% certain I believe the meaning of the name has to do with a small, yet developing person. In 1985, the current gym, which also doubles as a community hall (Qaggavik Hall) was added. A high school wing with 4 classrooms (my neck of the school) was also added at a later time, although I don't recall the exact date.

Here is the original school building as it appeared circa 1958.

A local elder, Atuat, demonstrates drumming at the school, 1966.

Adult education at a hunting camp near Arctic Bay, 1966.

This photo really doesn't have anything to do with the topic of education but since I came across it, I thought I'd include it anyway. The flurry of activity that is known as sea lift time in Arctic Bay, 1965.

In this last photo we see Reverend Edmund Peck with new converts, Blacklead Island, Cumberland Sound, near Pangnirtung, date unknown. Reverend Peck, as I wrote about previously, was instrumental in the growth of syllabics, a writing system for Inuktitut.

Way Way Up Turns Three!!

Well, I'm not three (occasionally, I might act it) but this blog now is. I added a stat counter to my blog shortly before its first anniversary and I've just recently surpassed 100, 000 page loads, a modest number by blogging standards I'm sure, but I'm happy with it. I'm only aware of a couple other Nunavut blogs on my sidebar that pre-date mine so who knew my little blog would endure this long?

I actually don't have all that much to say to mark the occasion but I'd like to thank all my readers for the stopping by. I hope you find my blog interesting and entertaining. Feel free to ask questions as some of my best posts have come about as a result of reader queries. As always, look for more arctic photos, rants, information and general quirkiness in the year to come.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ok....I'm Officially OCD Now

My latest order of Cd's has arrived - a complete edition of Mozart. I've only just begun to scratch the surface. I've heard pretty much everything that's been recorded but I know there are still a few small odds and ends I haven't heard yet. Usually when it comes to box sets I find you have to sacrifice quality for quantity. But I took a quick look through some of the orchestras and artists and things are looking promising so far...the Philharmonia Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mozarteum-Orchester Salzbug and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (trying saying that five times fast) among others.

For some reason I had it in mind that it was a 127-CD box set. Also turns out that (predictably so when it comes to numbers), I was a bit off. The box actually contains 170 Cd's. Storage space is now becoming a bit of an issue. If my library hasn't hit the 1000 CD mark by now then I must be pretty close. If this keeps up, either my room mate or myself may soon be sleeping outside. Good thing the weather is getting milder.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Seriously, What Are These People Smoking?

The title pretty much summed up my thoughts when I read this news item. Originally it was Clare that brought this to my attention. (Sorry Clare, at this time I can't confirm or deny having ever worked for Halifax Transit.) Honest to god, the people in this story must suffer from a severe case of cranial-rectal inversion -- and I'm not talking about Halifax bus drivers, but the idiot protesters, specifically their reaction to it all.

Bridget Curran feels her group "felt intimidated and threatened." Well big boo hoo. Protesters such as yourself do the exact same thing. What's a matter? You hold the same beliefs as groups that advocate and justify violent means of protest. Or is that only okay in situations where YOU aren't the target?? Hypocrite!

By not pressing charges, Curran said people could perceive that it's permissible to charge at demonstrators if they don't like their message.

But hey Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society charge and ram ships and that's OK. Now I'm not advocating violence in any way here but excuse me if I roll my eyes a little at Curran's self-righteous, "holier than thou" mindset.

These Steep and Lofty Cliffs

Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion;
and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky

-- W. Wordsworth

Hungarian Highlights - Part 16 (Eger)

Link to Part 15

View of Eger Castle

Eger Castle.

View from the castle overlooking Dobo Istvan Square with the Minorite Church to the left and the Basilica in the background.

One of the rebuilt structures inside the castle walls.

Museum inside the castle walls.

I'm not sure when this minaret was built. The mosque that it was attached to is now long gone. I DO remember that I climbed 97 very tight and winding steps to reach the top - about 200 feet up.

The minaret.

Eger Basilica.

18th century Minorite Church

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Digging Deeper

Paul Watson's claim that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a group "with little resources" rang a bit hollow with me so I decided to investigate his claim a little further. It was then that I happened across this page from the website ActivistCash.com. This site tracks how a number of activist groups pad their wallets. Quite interesting.

The top donation from a Foundation for the years 1998-2002 was the Whatley Charitable Trust. They gave the SSCS $160 000 during these years. As far as I can tell, they also donate to the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Curiously, this foundation's mailing address seems to be in Jefferson County....Alabama. Apparently, climate change has caused a mass seal migration to the Deep South so that these people can now speak authoritatively on seals.

The SSCS's top individual donator....Ann Johnston. And who is Ann Johnston? According to Activist Cash --

Ann Johnston gave SSCS almost $2.7 million in stock in 1997. Her husband, Pritam Singh, is a real estate developer and a member of SSCS’ financial and management advisory board. According to the Key News Journal, he’s under investigation by the FBI for his questionable business dealings. One Key West attorney has also filed a civil lawsuit against Singh, alleging almost 20 years of criminal activity -- including racketeering and fraud. Singh was fined $1.2 million by the federal Office of Thrift Supervision in 1995. And he quietly settled a lawsuit filed by members of his sales staff who said he illegally withheld their commissions.

Johnston’s 1997 stock donation included shares of a company named Northern Development Associates, a for-profit business which is now 100-percent owned by Sea Shepherd.

Number 3 on this list is Mike Galesi, who donated a tad over $172 000 from 2000-2002. According to the SSCS's own website, Galesi (who also sits on the organization's Financial and Management Advisory Board)

is a successful businessman and entrepreneur from the New York metropolitan area. He runs a commercial real estate business that began three generations ago. He and his partners now own and operate properties up and down the eastern seaboard where they redevelop strip shopping centers and office buildings.

The number 3 donator on the list (contributing a little over $147 000 from 1999 to 2001) is Susan Bloom a long-time donor to the most extreme factions of the environmental and animal-rights movement. Bloom was the founder and main financier of the British Columbia animal-rights group Bear Watch, which employed David Barbarash, a former “spokesman” for the terrorist Animal Liberation Front (ALF). Paul Watson has hosted at least one Bear Watch fundraiser.

Wow....and this is only three! With heavy weights like this behind you, I hardly think Watson and the SSCS are starved for cash.

But wait! There's more. Again from ActivistCash.com -

Crew members are charged $1,000 for the honor of working long hours on an expedition. Watson has long claimed (as recently as his 2002 memoir) that he has kept his vow to “never accept a single dollar for myself from charitable donations.” The group’s 2001 tax return, however, indicates Watson was paid $40,000 as president and CEO. He also makes money from lectures, books, and teaching at the Arts College of Design in Pasadena.

The Fund for Animals and PETA have also made donations according to this list ($37 500 and $22 500 respectively). Evidently stupidity loves company.

Celebrity supporters of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society include Richard Dean Anderson, Linda Blair (of Exorcist fame), Pierce Brosnan, James Cromwell (he starred in the movie "Snow Walker"; which saddens me) and Martin Sheen (apparently Ohioans are more knowledgeable about seals than Inuit....right)

NOW.....what do all these people/groups have in common? They are all white southern elitists who think they know more about the environment and its protection than a group of people whose lives and culture and been closely bound to it for more than 4000 years.

Oh Wow! Another Protest.... zzzzz

Apparently, today is the "International Day of Action Against Seal Hunting". Well, sound the trumpets!! What? You didn't know?

This is the day you dress up like a "bloody idiot"** and make a fool of yourself.

Protests in Calgary, Detroit, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver among other places. How nice to live in such temperate climes where you can remain divorced from and ignorant of, the natural world. Some of these groups of course want you to boycott Canadian fish products. To which I say, too damned bad. We don't get fancy soy burgers in the stores up here like you might in suburban Vancouver or L.A.. (Or at least not very easily. And then, if we did, they'd costs you an arm and a leg.) So, this is my food.......

If you don't like it.... well, tough.

** Seriously, protest sites I've seen encourage participants in Windsor, Ontario to "wear red and bring signs/posters."

....And The Seal Hunt Begins

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sun Dog Views and Skies of Blue

Sun dogs in the sky this afternoon and I went out to capture a few photos. It's been well over a year since I saw my last sun dog and that was in Rankin Inlet. Getting the full shot would have entailed walking some distance up a fairly steep incline so after several minutes of trudging and trying I had to satisfy myself with these shots below.

A random view of my little arctic neighborhood.

I love the blueness of an arctic sky in spring. It is easily my favourite time of the year.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Words of Wisdom from St. Paul

I found these gems on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's FaceBook page. Essentially it was a loooong, delusional rant brimming with pseudo-intellectualism. The prose was a bit dense but I sharpened up my ulu and hacked my way through.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society does not exist to serve the interests of any group of people. We are not a people organization.

But you will gladly support your pocket books, right? Seriously though, if you're not a "people organization", seek help. There are professionals that deal with those specific issues.

With little resources, we take on the vast war chests of those who profit from destroying our oceans and our planet. They have the money to assault us with PR lackeys who are paid to disseminate lies and they have power to turn the media and politicians against us.

What? Little resources?! Care to open your books and PROVE it? So why is it that your website was advertising credit cards last time I checked it? Sucks to feel persecuted, huh Paul? Well, I guess you know now Inuit feel about YOU GUYS now. Actually, come to think about it, you stated yourself that you are not "people" people. So, logically, this includes yourself. So why the persecution complex if, to take follow your thinking to its logical conclusion, you hate yourself too?

When we took on the illegal slaughter of whales by the Makah Tribe in 1998 we did so in the face of criticism from other groups who felt that the Makah should be allowed to kill whales despite the law simply because they were Native American.

Well, gee, since you told them, "Just because you were born stupid doesn't mean you have to act that way," I can't imagine why anyone would be angry at you.

I should have died in June 1975. A dying harpooned Sperm whale spared my life. I looked into his great solitary intelligent eye and what I saw there changed my entire perception of reality.

What kind of loony psycho babble is this? A whale saved your life so you were somehow destined for greatness?? Cute. Actually I recall Hitler pulled the same stunt when he claimed he heard a voice telling him to vacate a shell hole just moments before an Allied shell obliterated a group of his comrades. And well, we ALL know the great things HE went on to accomplish.

Some may think we can be destroyed, as history has shown over and over again with the assassinations of so many who had the potential to change the world for good. I say this because I have received warning that there is an assassination order put out on myself.

Yes Paul! Just like Saul of Damascus walking that long lonely road so many centuries ago, you too are destined for greatness. You know, for someone who claims to be anti-people you sure have an inflated idea of human potential....particularly your own.

And as history has also demonstrated, there is no stopping the forces intent upon killing new ideas, just as there is no stopping new ideas. What will be, will be - it is as simple as that.

Killing a person does not kill the idea. If anything it strengthens the idea and gives it life. All people are mortal but ideas can be immortal.

Ah, but just because ideas challenge orthodoxy does not mean they are GOOD ideas. Um.....communism anyone? Hey I know, I know. But it did look good on paper. Are you inviting martyrdom or something here Paul? You know I really worry about you. I need you Paul. (You bring visitors to my blog after all.)

When there is no longer a use for Sea Shepherd then it will die naturally and as it should.

Holy seal skins! We actually do agree on something! Whoa! Well, I'm with you on this one. Oh that that day comes quickly!

Oh My God! I'm Famous!!

Direct from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society FaceBook page......from Paul Watson Himself no less....

I read every critical blog, every media indictment, every gossipy lie, and every fabricated accusation with amusement. You see, we don't have to answer to any government, to any society, tradition, culture, or to any human being at all.

He reads my blog......oh man! My poor heart is palpitating!

Thanks Paul. Truly. Thank you for not only proving you are semi-literate, but also for bringing more page loads my way!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

100 000 Hits

It's only been the last couple months that I started paying close attention to the stat counter on my sidebar. I added the stat counter shortly before the first anniversary of my blog. Back then 100 000 page loads seemed an awful long way off. But as it crept closer to the 100 000 hit mark I started to get a little more interested. Truthfully, I thought the number was a mere chimera and the blog would never long enough to see it. Today, however, shortly before getting home from work, I logged in and saw 100 005 on my sidebar. I'm sure my blog passed the 100 000 mark a few months back but since I didn't track hits for the first 12 months of the blog the actual number is a mystery. I'm guesstimating I've probably pulled in around 120 000-130 000 page loads over the last 3 years. Who knew?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Happy Retirement Professor Palmer!

I received a little card in the mail this afternoon announcing the retirement of one of my professors at the University of Windsor's School of Music. Distance and professional obligations will keep me from attending the big retirement bash though I'd be there in a heart beat if I could. Professor David Palmer was a class act - approachable, passionate about teaching and just a great fellow.

He was actually the first professor I spoke with when I arrived in Windsor. I showed up in the summer of 1993 for my piano audition and got a little turned around in the long, snaky corridor while trying to find the auditorium. Prof. Palmer was quick to welcome me to the university and the city and kindly pointed me in the right direction. He also wished me luck with my audition and said he looked forward to seeing me as a student later that fall. That little conversation was the kicker for me when it came to making my final decision on what university I would go to. I ended up having a choice between Windsor and another school and it was his friendly personality that was the kicker for me when all was said and done.

Hearing him play Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor (BWV 565) on the organ at All Saint's Church in Windsor was an unforgettable experience, a highlight of my university years. He instilled in me a life-long love for Bach that I hold to this day. Congratulations Prof. Palmer on your 40 years of teaching at the University of Windsor's School of Music. I wish you a happy retirement and warm wishes for the future!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears?

Shortly after the appetizer, Baby Bear noticed that Goldilocks was missing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Don't Get Your Hopes Up Mr. and Mrs. Goat

A few summers ago, my stepfather picks me up at the train station in Belleville, Ontario for the 30 minute drive to their house in Campbellford. My stepfather has to see a client along the way and mentions that we'll have to take a short detour. No problem. Since he is graciously chauffeuring me and its his vehicle, its not like I can refuse or anything. So here we are driving along some side road through the rolling countryside. I think we were somewhere near Marmora. Anyhow, as we are going down the road I notice a big old car in the distance up ahead of us. One of those big old rural clunkers. As we get closer to it, there seems to be a bit of activity going on in the back seat. I don't say anything to my step father, though I'm pretty sure he notices it too. A few minutes later, my step father starts laughing and asks,"Is that a GOAT?"

Initially I though a couple kids were fooling around but it did look like a goat-like critter to me. "It looks a bit like a goat, but I can't really tell for sure," I reply.

A few minutes later, the old clunker stops at a 4-way stop and we pull in behind it. Suddenly, as if on cue, one of the critters stops bouncing around and slowly turns its head to face us. Two seconds later, the critter's companion also stops, turns and stares back at us. (It really was a comical effect but I suppose you had to be there.) Holy goat droppings, it is a goat! Actually not just one goat - two goats. Here we are driving down the road and some country hick is taking two goats for a ride in the back seat of his car. And it's not like they are wearing seat belts. Those things were hopping/bouncing all over the place back there! But at least they were riding in high style compared to how I see more farm animals transported. Yup, welcome to southern Ontario in June.

Well, needless to say, we both burst out laughing at these stupid-looking goats staring back at us. By now, we are both curious about the driver, his mental state, and just where exactly he is taking these two freaky-looking things. We didn't have to wait long for an answer. The old clunker continues on after the stop sign and barely a couple hundred yards past the intersection slows slightly and indicates it is about to make a right-hand turn. I turn to see where the car is turning in to. I see a barn and a sign.

The word on the sign?? -- ABATTOIR

Dang! Talk about getting the goats' hopes up!.....and some people think Inuit are cruel to animals!

Monday, March 09, 2009

How To Run A Successful Anti-Seal Hunt Campaign

First assign human qualities to seals. Use words like adorable, soft, cuddly, baby, helpless...you get the idea.

Then, assign less favourable words to sealers and the hunt - cruel, barbaric, blood-thirsty, savage, relentless.

Then, keep asserting falsehoods as fact. Remember, if you say it loud enough and often enough and in front of enough cameras, it doesn't matter if it's actually true. (Ignore the fact that in Nunavut, Inuit use rifles and not clubs to kill seals. Also ignore the fact that Inuit don't hunt white coats in the mass industrialized fashion portrayed by the antis' propaganda, that they use the entire animal after they harvest it and that hunting white coats has been illegal since 1987 anyway.)

Remember, it's important not to muddy the debate with facts. Instead, play on people's emotions. The further removed those people are from areas where seals play a role in people's lives, the better. Also, don't play up the fact that you are an ignorant elitist because you went to university. Sure, you can feel all self-righteous and self-important, just don't let on. You can score further points by referring to your adversaries as "red necks", "hicks" or "Nazis".

Next, because visual aids are important....you can show celebrities...

like Paul McCarthy and Heather Mills....

old crazy French actresses....(my oh my the years have definitely NOT been kind to you, mon cheri!)

(Note - for this one to work you have to ignore all the not nice things she's said in the past about Jews, immigrants and homosexuals. It muddies the waters and distracts from the issue of making money......er...I mean protesting the hunt.)

...or, you can use Pamela Anderson. Woo hoo!. (Well, it's not like PETA has ever sexualized women in the past to promote a campaign, so don't blame me on this one. They started it.)

Hmm...some protestors have roaming eyes...

You can also use seals themselves. Remember, that for maximum effect, it helps if they are white and furry. Just ignore the fact that Inuit don't traditionally hunt baby seals and you're good to go.

Referring to them as "mother" and "baby" is a good thing.....really tugs at the heart strings of the ill-informed.

Awww....it almost looks like these two seals are kissing. How adorable!

Look at this seal....

Oops, I mean ignore it, IGNORE IT NOW! We can't actually show how Mother Nature REALLY works now....that would be counter-productive.

Man, what is a poor protester to do? Whack the whale? That would get those whale protesters after you? Wait, aren't the two groups one and the same? Yeah, I thought so too. Gee, those guys really ought to go out and give THEMSELVES a good whack!

Of course, you can also protest...

Using young attractive women who aren't describing their last marriage is generally more palatable though.

Remember to let nothing stand in your way. Be wary if the group you are facing is a group of Inuit students, who, you know, might actually be able to speak with some authority when it comes to the seal hunt. You know, since they come from a culture that has harvested seals for oh, 4000 years. Don't worry though. If they try to reason with you, just shout and scream at them.

When that fails, take one of their cultural symbols and desecrate it.....

Of course, when all else fails, you can always just make an idiot of yourself.

Notice how in all the protest photos, the protesters were all standing in urban settings? Its much easier to operate a camera in nice warm cities. It's much harder in small Northern communities when it's -40C. Plus, cities guarantee you both an ignorant populace and an abundance of media exposure. Live and learn kids!

Now, go out and do your worst! Remember, we fail every year BUT we are STILL better than they are!