Sunday, May 31, 2009

Let's Look At This From A Different Perspective

Here's an interesting little cartoon from the National Post I happened across courtesy of the blog Stage Left. For anyone who finds humor in this, I have a question - Would you consider this funny if the Governor-General had just returned from a cultural event or traditional feast in Vancouver's Chinatown?

Perhaps PETA bimbo Pamela Anderson, whose intellect is inversely proportional to her bust size, does.

Haydn's House

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Joseph Haydn. It was a great treat to have had the opportunity to spend a day last summer at his house. Okay, it wasn't really HIS house. The aristocratic Eszterhazy family owned it but being there was still a fantastic way to spend a day.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Silliness From Paul Watson

Given the recent non-news event involving Governor-General Michaelle Jean eating seal meat, I figured it was only a matter of time before my favorite moron weighed in on the issue. Just see here and here if you can stomach it. In typical idiot fashion, Watson ignores facts and instead concentrates on a character assassination. And yet, whales are dying on a beach right now and we see no sign of the guy. Now you would think "Captain" Crunch would be down there right now on that South African beach defending and helping the sea life he so passionately if misguidedly writes about. And yet, there seems to be no hint of the man. I wonder why.

Come on Paul, please. Why must you constantly fail? Animals need you RIGHT NOW and yet you are failing them. Rather than helping you sit back in front of a computer screen and launch an attack on my country's Head of State. The sea life of this planet deserves better than this, don't you think?

Or is it just much easier and convenient for you to hurl your hateful, vindictive tripe after the fact?

No. I'm sure that can't be it.

Sad Irony

In a sad twist of fate, shortly after writing this post, I arrived at work Thursday morning to learn of yet another suicide. Unfortunately, I've had some dealings with this particular individual in the case so I know he was a very angry kid. I also knew the moment he was flown back up here from Iqaluit that it was a big mistake. When I first learned that a judge had ordered him sent back, my room mate turned to me during a conversation and said, "You know Darcy, I think someone has just made a BIG mistake." I was in full agreement. But, as I've said before, I'm just a worker bee, so what do I know? All I know is that there will be a funeral here in town today when there really shouldn't be.

I'll save the long diatribe against the level of social services in the territory here for another time. Now just isn't the time or place. Suffice it to say that alarm bells should be ringing somewhere. Is anybody listening? Does anyone even care?? As a government mandarin I find myself growing increasingly frustrated and saddened with all these big long-range plans. In 5 years, the education system will be doing this. By the year blah-blah-blah, Social Services will be doing this. Yay. As I always ask, and no one answers, when I hear this typical government tripe, is what is was being done NOW? How do all your big fancy government pie-in-the-sky fantasies help the young people already in the system?

There needs to be less reliance on what government can do and more focus on what people can do. Obviously, the government is failing. Time for bureaucrats to get the hell out of the way so we can get down to real work, rather than drooling over fancily-printed plans that usually don't accomplish a whole lot. I don't want to paint a picture that there is complete helplessness. There is the realization that something has to happen. I can give you two recent examples, fittingly from my students, the young people that will soon inherit this mess.

Recently, Nunavut celebrated its 10th anniversary as a territory. One of the contests that was organized was a writing contest where students were asked to write how they viewed Nunavut in another 10 years from now. The winning high school entry was from a student who saw things as getting worse. Rather than blaming one single group as I am so often used to seeing however, she blamed EVERYONE. Everyone has a role to play.

As I was walking home from work yesterday, a student of mine caught up to me on his 4-wheeler. Our conversation went something like this:

"Darcy, did you hear about _________?"
"Yeah, not a good thing."
"I don't like this. Way too young. Way before his time."
"I know. It's just sad isn't it?"
"Something has to change. It has to start now. I'm tired of this."

I'm tired too. So let's change this. But change only happens when people believe its possible. If there's one thing I've spent the last 6 years doing is drilling into my students' heads it's that change IS possible. It is. It really is. So my students know this. So let's together get this done. Make the change. It CAN happen.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Don't Kill A Seal!

In 1942, in retaliation for the murder of Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi forces killed over 1800 Czechs in reprisal. The people directly responsible were taken by force from a church basement, lined up against this wall......

....and executed. But yet, hunting seals.....very bad.

The first museum I visited in Prague was the Torture Museum. Many rather gruesome devices for torture and mutilation were on display. This innocent-looking saw was one of my favorites.

And here's a lovely visual on how it was used. How many people met their end in this manner, I wonder?

But yet, its wrong to kill seals.

Some Europeans have no qualms about force feeding ducks and geese for profit.

But Europeans say it's horrible our Governor-General ate a piece of seal.

Eating seals? Very wrong.

When I was in high school, some genius in Toronto came up with the idea of dumping their city's garbage in an old open-pit mine near Marmora, Ontario. This would have had a serious impact on the watersheds of both the Moira River and the lower Trent River. Thankfully, saner heads prevailed.

I guess it's always easier to dump your garbage elsewhere, in someone else's backyard, rather than dealing with your own problems first.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oh My God! The Europeans Are Offended!

When I first heard that the Governor-General would be making a tour through Northern Canada, I have to admit I was pretty impressed. Not that I'm a particular fan of the office of Governor-General but rather that this seems part of a growing trend where the North is actually acknowledged by the rest of Canada as actually existing. As a kid, I was totally ignorant of the North. It never made the news. It was like it didn't even exist.

And generally, it seems the GG has been well received by the country's Northern residents from what I've been able to gather. Apparently, according to this CBC article, not everyone is pleased. Yep, once again its the seal issue. Once again, its seems our clueless European neighbors across the pond are moaning over their meat. How Typical.

And its not like the media is helping. Never mind the fact that the GG is also there to advocate for, among other things, the creation of an arctic university. (Canada is the only Arctic nation lacking one I might add.) No, no, focus attention on the simple act of eating a piece of seal meat. Throw in words like "blood lust" and "slash". Another news item I read paid particular reference to the fact that the GG wiped her bloody fingers after cutting off a piece of seal. How juvenile really. It's not like the woman killed the animal herself. Let's tone down the rhetoric shall we?

Oh man, those barbaric Germans are all a bunch of Nazis! The French are bunch of cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Italians are all a bunch of hairy folk secretly in love with their local Catholic priest. In fact, there goes little Giovanni right now. Don't even start to get me going about the Polish. Of course all these statements are ignorant, inaccurate and just plain wrong. But for some reason, animal rights' activists have no qualms about spouting off about how Canadians are are neanderthals (or worse).

The sharing of food is common among all cultures of the world. But because some European is offended, my god, put it in the newspaper. I should add too, that the word "slash" in reference to cutting seal, is highly inappropriate and misplaced. I've eaten seal both cooked and uncooked and had often had to cut it. At no point, did I feel the need to "slash". The meat comes apart quite easy. Anyone who has ever eaten seal before would know this. Its just common sense.

Perhaps Europeans should spend less time being offended and expend some energy trying to understand how the world works. If they didn't get offended so easily perhaps we could have avoided all those ugly wars in the past that they sucked us all into. I really don't think the Europeans are standing on any moral high ground when they act all offended and "hoity-toity". Its really quite pathetic really. Oh my god, the Europeans are offended! Well, la-di-da! I guess I can only expect as much from them. After all, when you have 500 years of dictating to the indigenous peoples of the world how to live their lives, I suppose old habits just die hard.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Little Closure

With a lot of things weighing on my mind the past several days, I decided to take a little walk earlier this evening in an attempt to clear my head. My walk took to me to a place I don't normally frequent but there was something inside me that induced me to go there. It was one of the very few times that I left the house without my watch. For once, the concept of time, of having to be in a certain place at a certain time, just didn't seem all that important to me.

I walked down to the end of my road, down the hill and then followed the road west as it hugged the edge of the bay. West, in the direction of the dipping sun. I followed the road out past the last few houses on the edge of town and then up a hill toward Uluksan Point, a place I've been to many times. It wasn't Uluksan Point that was my destination however and I soon left the road and wandered down a hill, plunging through knee-deep snow occasionally as I went. It took a little bit of searching among the large rocks but eventually I found what I was searching for - the grave site of a student of mine that we lost back in the fall, shortly before the dark season set in. I've lost far too any students long before their time during my career. It's numbing.

On my way there I had an idea of a few words to say, quietly, in the stillness of that place. By the time I arrived, though, most of the words, swirling around in my brain had drifted off. I stood there for quite some time before that simple wooden marker and said my piece. From a purely literary standpoint this is the moment when some great sign appears - a bird alights on a nearby rock or an arctic hare skirts by. But there was nothing. The sound of my breathing and the faintest whisper of a cool evening breeze were the only intrusions.

I really have no idea how long I stood there. At the same time it seemed to be both 5 minutes and 60 minutes. Time just didn't seem all that important to me just then. A man much wiser than myself once told me that while you might have a bad day, its rare to have two bad days, and even more rare to have three. Be thankful for what you have because you don't know how long you will be here for. No matter how tough or insurmountable the challenge may seem, remember that you could always just be dead.

I remember thinking those exact thoughts right at that moment and it brought the semblance of a smile to my face...a peaceful smile. All the more fitting because if there is one image I will never forget no matter where I go on from here, it is of that student smiling. It's a memory I'll always cherish.

A minute later, I reached out placed my hand on the simple wooden marker and bid a good-bye. As I made it back up to the road, I paused briefly and looked back. I had found what I was looking for.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A River Runs Through It

Its been quite warm here the past few days, much warmer than the "+2C" my thermometer suggests at the moment. With the rising temperatures comes the inevitable melt. I still wear toque, just out of simple force of habit, and am finding it quite hot. After many months it's a bit strange to hear the sound of rushing water. With the sun powerful enough to melt the snow but unable to put much of a dent in the underlying permafrost, it doesn't take long before the melt water runs everywhere. I've watched our sewage trucks over the last few days employed to drain off some of excess water from several large "lakes" along the roadway in an attempt to combat erosion.

Don't fall in.

Up until late last week I usually took a short cut home from work through this field. After a tough slog on Friday I decided it's time to start using the road. By comparing the picture below to this picture from last week you can see just how fast the big melt is happening.

My Inuksuk....CD Version

After a long hiatus a new challenge is up at Nunavut Nonsense. Its creator, Jen, had a baby. Here is my little contribution....built out of 431 (mostly Mozart) CDs. there anything Mozart can't do?

Technically, it's not an inuksuk but rather an inunnguaq ("an imitation of a person"), but don't let that stop you for voting for it.....or any of the other creative contributions for that matter. At any rate, you have until May 30 to choose your favorite so go vote here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Go Windsor!

YES!! The drought is over!! Congrats to the Windsor Spitfires for winning their first ever Memorial Cup. While attending the university down in Windsor I tried to catch as many of their home games as I could. They weren't particularly good back around 1999-2000. They lost to the Owen Sound Platers, for the love of Pete! My how things have changed! Not only is it the team's first Memorial Cup but Windsor become the first team in tournament history to lose their first two games and battle back to take the glory. A fitting win given the tragedy of the sudden death of team captain, Mickey Renaud, last year and the recent economic woes that have played havoc with the city's economy. I can't think of a more deserving city at the moment.

For many years I would hear from the U.S. media some nonsense about Detroit being "hockey town." I beg to differ. Hockey is king in Windsor. I'm proud of the team and proud to say I spent some of the best years of my life down there in the city of Windsor, Ontario.


On A More Positive Note...

...the interviews are starting to come fast and furious. I've applied to quite a few positions all over the North really. The only real qualification is housing which has to be sufficient for a small family, but other than that qualification, the sky's the limit. I've done a couple interviews within Nunavut so I'll see how things turn out. Ideally, as far as staying in Nunavut goes, I'd love to get into Iqaluit. Guess I'll see how things go. As the largest community by far in the Eastern Arctic, that's where a lot of people want to go. I know a few teachers who have put in time in the smaller communities before ending up with a position in Iqaluit so hopefully my number is up.

I also have an interview lined up for Saskatchewan late next week. I made a small goof by not putting my school's phone number on my resume. Most of my interviews so far have taken place at home although this one will be done at work. So I had to fire off a quick email yesterday to the superintendent who called me to tell her the school's number. But my little goof did give me an opportunity to do some brown nosing. Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan really is a beautiful little community and I told her as much in our conversation. This interview also marks the first time I will be interviewed for a position in a community I've already been to. I'll take it as a good omen. In the event that I wound up there it would mean I've pretty much gone full circle since before moving to Nunavut in 2003, I taught in La Loche, just a little bit further up the highway from Buffalo Narrows.

As far as heading back to the Northwest Territories, hmmmm. I haven't seen too many ads come up that are of interest to me. I only really one horse in the race here, although I like to think my chances are pretty good. Certainly no worse than anyone else's. As for Yukon, I still have a couple potential options in play. Gut feeling at this point though is that I'll end up teaching somewhere out West for sure....just not as far West as Yukon. I suppose that sounds pretty vague. Ah well, if I haven't put you to sleep yet with my little ramble, thanks for indulging me. I needed something to focus my attention on as of late.

Rest assured, I plan to keep this blog going in the new school year if at all possible and I look forward to all the changes ahead.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A True Case of Cranial-Rectal Inversion

I'm sure I'll get dinged for this but I truly don't care. Seems the judge that presided over the case involving my little love tapper from back in October is either totally clueless, a complete amateur or something worse. I swear this moron wasn't called to the bar....I'm convinced a bar must have struck him over the head and knocked what little sense was left in his brain into the sewer. God forbid we should actually send people to jail for breaking the law! Instead, sentence them to time served, give them probation (because we all know how effective that is) and worse, make them attend school as part of your judgement. Um, hello, judge, the incident occurred in a school. Even though school here is effectively finished, with exams having been written and marked, send him back to school. Pure genius really. I'm sure the kid won't attend anyway but that's not the point. Just exactly what kind of message is being sent here? Honestly. It must be nice to fly out of here at the end of a court session and not have to see the kid. At the moment, "sir", that's a luxury I don't have. Really, what is your deal? Are you just incompetent? Did an easy sentence just make things more convenient for you and save you some paperwork? Were you not breast-fed as a child? Or do you just not care? Honestly, I'd love to know the reasoning that went into this decision.

In the mean time, I'll offer up a little advise for you - grow some compassion and some common sense. Go back to law school seeing as you obviously need to. And finally, be careful when you sit down on your nice comfy judge's chair, because the small lump you feel jammed up next to your your brain.


I was 14 when I first met Tyler, the son of friends of my parents. He was a couple years older than me then. He was easy going, down to earth. He played hockey too...defence. I always thought it was interesting that he played defense because after high school, Tyler joined the Ontario Provincial Police, Grenville County Detachment. Now instead of defending the zone, Tyler dedicated his life to defending his fellow citizens, people like you and me. He was in his early 30's when he made it onto the ERT Team. From what I understand its pretty rare to get onto the Emergency Response Team at a young age as typically these positions are filled by officers with many more years of experience. I know his parents were very proud. I thought it was really cool.

On May 23, 2004, Tyler was in his patrol car, responding to a call when he was hit head on by another driver traveling in excess of 140km/hr. A drunk driver. Traveling in the wrong lane. Tyler was killed instantly. Constable Boutilier was just 32 years old.

If its true a man can be measured by the strength and depth of his character then surely, Tyler was a giant among men. My deepest respect to the Boutilier family on this day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Fog Rolls In

Around 10:30 last night (at least that's about when I happened to glance outside and noticed) a little fog rolled in. It didn't last long but I've always loved watching it as it slowly tumbles down from over the cliffs which hug the town, performing some slow arctic ballet.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Resume Writing Machine

As of late I've been a whirling dervish of resume mailing, faxing and (welcome to the 21st century Darcy) e-mailing. So far not too bad. I'm a bit rusty with interviews since I haven't really done any in about 6 years. It showed in my first interview about a week and a half ago. It wasn't too bad for a first interview I thought. It ended up that I didn't get the position but since I had big reservations about going to this community anyway, I'm not going to sweat it. There was one particular community I really thought I was a shoe in for so I have to admit to being more than just a little frustrated when that opportunity imploded on me. However, since it turns out this place may have issues with packs of dogs and my intention is to move to another community with my girlfriend and young kids, the idea of roaming dogs, even it's only one or two, doesn't sit well with me. So, no loss there as it turns out in the end.

I've sent off probably close to 40 resumes by now, a few of them to places I figure I have no chance of getting in to but the idea here was to get some interviews and get some practice doing them so that I can concentrate on the positions I really want. I should hear back on a position tomorrow but won't cry if things go sour. I really got the impression during the interview that this place wouldn't really be a good fit for me. So where DO I want to end up then? I've got a short list. A few positions I've applied for with Nunavut Arctic College here in Nunavut and Aurora College next door in the Northwest Territories have piqued my interest. There's also a junior high position along the MacKenzie River I'd love to jump into, a second junior high position in Watson Lake, Yukon and a government position in Whitehorse that could be a real opportunity down the road since it is very similar to the kind of work I've been doing the past few years, only in a much larger centre. A couple communities in Saskatchewan are in play as is a position in the Kivalliq although I suspect this may be filled internally....argh. As for teaching in the Baffin Region, I have resumes all over the island....Kimmirut or possibly Pangnirtung look the most realistic at this point although I could be way off base. Predicting where I end up is ultimately an exercise in futility since there are many forces at work in that mysterious world known as "the hiring process." Having said this though, its still fun to imagine the myriad of possibilities.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Feel The Heat

Yes, I know pictures of thermometers are about as exciting as watching George Bush doing sudoku, but indulge me if you will. The past couple days have seen some of the mildest temperatures in months, last night's dusting of snow notwithstanding. While this may not strike most people as particularly warm, to me, it's glorious.

You Tease

The mercury flirted with the freezing mark yesterday. In fact it might just have pushed over that magical threshold. After several overcast days, the sky cleared up somewhat and it felt warm (relatively speaking, that is). Of course it was all just a chimera as I popped my head out the door last night to see this on my front porch...

Of course, at these high latitudes, snow can occur at any time of the year. We didn't seem to get that much snow last year so I take this as Mother Nature's way of restoring the balance. And, as an added bonus, this photo was taken at about 12:15am last "night" so you get a good idea of just how bright it outside at such a "late hour".

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Strange Birds

For the past several months the only birds to be viewed were black - the Common Raven. (Two or three weeks back I found myself scrambling for my camera in my coat pocket over at the school as a bird flew by. Initially I thought it was a gull of some sort but as it turned out it just the light making a strange reflection off a raven.) Recently other birds have slowly made an appearance - a sure sign of the encroaching Spring. I'm not 100% sure what species of gulls we have here. I pulled out my field guide but given that I'm still very much a novice at identification and they were a little far away, I can't say for certain. I probably should have grabbed the binoculars but I forgot them in my haste. At any rate, after what seems an eternity, Spring has finally arrived en force.

Fishing Derby

The May long weekend marks the start of a major cultural and social event here as the town clears out for the annual fishing derby. Long lines of skidoos and qamutiik head out down Admiralty Inlet to one of several fishing lakes. One particularly popular place is Ikpikittuarjuk, roughly 6-7 hours south of town depending on how fast you're traveling and how many times you stop for a "mug up". Some people will venture even further south (a good 10-12 hour haul from what I've been told) to a string of lakes well known for their char. One such spot is Kugarjuk which I heard all about today by one of my students who was very keen to get out there. Unfortunately for me, other preoccupations will keep me in town, though I do plan to make the short stroll up to Dead Dog Lake as I did last year for a look see. In the meantime here are a few pictures from my trip down to Ikpikittuarjuk from about 3 years ago.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hungarian Highlights - Part 20 (Budapest)

Link to Part 19

Hungarian Parliament

Chain Bridge spanning the Danube River

St. Stephen Basilica

The Terror House - former headquarters of the Hungarian secret police, now a haunting museum

18 700 Hungarian forints worth approximately $100 Canadian.

The remains of a Roman amphitheatre along the right bank of the Danube. There was a military amphitheatre a few kilometres further upstream but I was not able to get out to it.

A large fountain on Margit Island in the middle of the Danube. Not the best picture but since there were a lot of locals sunbathing (in various stages of undress) in the area, it took me a long time just to get this shot. I tried for a wider view but didn't relish the prospect of being chased the length of the island by a bunch of angry naked people.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Patience Grasshopper

I suppose its been a bit of an open secret for some time now that I intend to leave Arctic Bay at the end of this school year to pursue other options. I've done my best to keep my recent negativity off my blog but I have to admit its been a challenge. Those in the know are aware that this year has been far from easy for me. This is my sixth year here in Nunavut. From experience I know that the average stay of many teachers, particularly in the smaller communities, tends to average around 2-3 years. So I guess I can be proud that I've surpassed the average. One thing that can always be counted on in education is change and I feel that in many ways I've reached some sort of upper threshold. I feel a bit stale professionally after 4 years in the same role and I feel that I've accomplished all that I can here in my current position. On a personal level there are a few life goals I wish to accomplish before I reach 40. So I have a nice little cushion before I reach THAT threshold.

Having said this though, my wish is to remain in the North in some capacity. Exactly what form that will take remains to be seen. I've spent my entire professional career here (9 years! Where did the time go?) and the North has defined my life in many ways and has colored how I see the world. I am currently sending out resumes to all and sundry. A couple hoped-for opportunities have fallen apart like a Chinese bookshelf but I remain optimistic. It's still quite early in the hiring process and I know from my own experience that I always end up with something good in the end. For now, I just soldier on and wait for the phone to ring. Patience, grasshopper, patience.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oh God! Where Do I Even Start With This?

Apparently dancing, music, and hand holding are corrupting our youth. I saw story on tv and then read a couple on-line articles. Several minutes have now passed to give me some time to digest it all and I have to admit I'm still rolling my eyes. I honestly don't know whether to laugh or groan. It's just wrong on so many levels. I wonder if the principal involved here appreciates the irony that it is usually the right-wing religious zealots griping about how schools (and all manner of institutions) are over-stepping their bounds and involving themselves in issues that should be left up the parents.

And speaking of the principal, seriously buddy, the rumours about educators being bland personalities as parodied on shows like The Simpsons, are out're not helping. This guy must have a pretty lifeless marriage if he doesn't believe in simple hand-holding. Grief!

On a more serious not though, grow a brain you moron. Supposedly you're an educator. Give the kids involved here SOME credit. Not all 17-year-old males turn into thugs the moment they see a skirt. Don't think of all females as a bunch of low-cut dress-wearing floosies bent only on distracting young males. I'm not sure what pulpit this self-righteous school administrator is hiding behind but I think there are much more important issues in the world that merit attention.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Where Am I Going?

For someone who tries to blog on a daily basis I've really fallen off my game lately. There are a few reasons for this. In between the twin distractions of a phone and an Internet connection that have been several levels less than useless this weekend I've also started packing up some stuff in anticipation of a move. Who knew one fellow could accumulate so much? Early in my career I moved into one community with a couple suitcases and a handful of boxes. I'm not sure how many boxes I will end up with when all is said and done but I'm sure it will be quite the sight. So I'm packing up all my worldly possessions in anticipation of moving to........? Actually I'm not sure yet, although with luck I will know in the next couple days.

In the meantime, I'm amazed at just how much junk I've accumulated, from the curious to the ridiculous. I've found AA batteries I'm sure I can put to good use, some cords the purpose of which I have no clue, a Santa Claus hat and a few old high school report cards from when I was in grade 9. Go figure.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Because One Darcy Just Isn't Enough

Several days ago I had my portrait done by one of our Kindergarten students. I put it up on the little bulletin board beside my desk and its brought a smile to my face whenever I've looked at it since.

Poor Paul Watson

Paul Watson cuts such a pathetic picture sometimes and goodness knows I've shredded the shaggy-haired troglodyte on more than one occasion here on my blog. Truly, the guy must crave attention given all the crazy stunts and claims he's made over the years, from ramming ships to claiming surviving assassination attempts. All I will say though is that the man has really backed himself into a corner. Really, his ignorant views and misguided actions have put him in a position where he can't back down. The man must now continue down the warped path on which he set out many years ago. He has no choice. Backing out now would mean his actions over the past 30 years, a cause to which he has dedicated much of his life, were a complete waste of time. Rather than admit to failure, he must stick to his delusion, his opiate of the masses as the saying goes.

But hey, grow rich off the misery of others you moron. Capitalism is sucking the oceans dry, so he says. But capitalism must still work for Watson. Rather than rape the oceans of its bounty, he chooses to rape the wallets of the gullible and ignorant. I don't see how this is any more ethical.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Symphonies, Curses and CDs

Today marks the 185th anniversary of the premiere of Beethoven's 9th Symphony give at the Karntnertortheater in Vienna on this day in 1824. About a year ago I wrote how this iconic orchestral piece had spawned its own curse, the so-called Curse of the 9th. Another quirky tale I like about this symphony has to do with how it may have influenced the development of the modern compact disc. Apparently, when Philips started working with this new audio format, the first disks developed were designed with a diameter of 11.5 cm, big enough to hold one hour's worth of music. According to the story, however, a Japanese electronics businessman insisted the disks should be long enough to hold a complete recording of Beethoven's 9th. At the time, the longest known recording was 74 minutes, made in 1951. Is this story really true? I don't really know for sure but I remember it well from university where I first heard of it and it has stuck with me over the years.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

European Union Votes To Ban Import Of Seal Products

I guess if you have a been imposing your will on the indigenous peoples of the world for centuries, habits get a little hard to break. Let's not kid ourselves, the exemption offered to Inuit from Canada and Greenland means nothing. Anyone who thinks otherwise has wandered Amsterdam's "red light" district too many times...puff....puff. I found it amusing that the EU Parliamentarian interviewed this morning on CBC was in Strasbourg, right across the river from Germany, where they apparently they are very good at telling the difference between racial groups.

No Europe trip this year.

Midnight Sun

Today marks the start of the so-called "midnight sun". Since making its first appearance above the horizon back in February, the sun has been slowly lingering in the sky a few minutes longer each day. Yesterday, the sun rose at about 2:13am and it won't set again fully until August 9 I believe. The Midnight Sun is finally here.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Nunavut Dog Sledding

It's been rather warm here the past few days by high arctic standards so I'm attributing my mental sluggishness to this current heat wave. I know, I know....-6C(!)....quite unbearable. How do people do it? Anyhow, something I meant to do several days ago now (other than laundry) was a short post as a follow-up to the dog sled races just to give readers a better idea of what the sleds look like and how the dogs are hitched. These aren't the best pictures but hopefully they should suffice. For anyone looking for more information on dog sledding, I invite them to check out some of the Yukon blogs on my sidebar. The sleds are much different and the dogs are hitched to the sled differently but they should give you a good idea of the sport and can speak with much greater expertise on the topic than I can. Yukon Musher and Yukon Yahoos are good examples and both have links to a number of other canine-related blogs on their respective sidebars.

Here is one of my better shots of a qamutiq, the traditional Inuit sled. Originally, of course, they were not built out of wood. Rather, whale bone was used. I have however, seen examples of where caribou antler is used for runners and even a one instance where a number of frozen fish were wrapped in seal skins to make some transportation in a pinch. In the North, one has to be constantly adapting and resourceful. While you can't really tell from the picture below, I should add that, with the exception of some plastic strips along the bottom of the runners, the entire sled is tied together with rope lashings.

Most people are familiar with the tandem hitch which is used in the West where you have to negotiate around trees without the dogs' traces becoming entangled. In the Eastern Arctic, the fan hitch is used. Each dog has a separate trace attached to a main line. As the name suggests, this allows the dogs to fan out and find the best footing over the ice and snow, without having to worry about Here is the best shot I have at the moment which shows the use of the fan hitch.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Please Hang Up And Try Your Call Again...and Again...and Again...and Again

So I had a job interview today in another province...well, sort of. I suppose my first clue that things would go awry should have been that instead of THEM calling ME, they wanted ME to call THEM. So, like the punctual fellow I am, I call them promptly at 1pm. It was one of those "888" numbers...for the "Ramada Hotel and Conference Centre on Kingsway" as the receptionist chirpily informed me. I patiently wait as an automated voice lists my options. I stay on the line and eventually get a human. What follows can be summarized below:

Call #1 - I am transferred to the wrong room and get some sort of answering machine. I believe it was for a travel agency by the sound of the message.

Call #2 - I am again transferred to the wrong room, only I get static and a distant voice and what I think was another answering machine.

By now, it is 10 minutes past the scheduled start of my interview. My focus is beginning to shift from the actual interview toward simply getting in touch with a person from the school board. Also, I feel a tad guilty about monopolizing my vice-principal's office. I tell my principal of my difficulties and that if I don't get this interview it's no big crisis for me. I head back to my classroom...where I am paged by the office. I return to the office. My phantom interviewers have called. They tell me they have been waiting patiently for me to call them. I explain I have already called twice but was not transferred to them for some strange reason. "Oh, what room did the receptionist put you through to? You need to tell them to put you through to the Regina Room." I think, well that would have been useful information to have told me earlier. But hey, I'm just a worker bee so what do I know? I also think that since THEY have now contacted ME that we can now start the interview. (Oh the things we think but cannot say.)

So I hang up and call again.

Call #3 - By this time I'm thinking the receptionist must think I'm some sort of creepy stalker. Perhaps she did think this because in the midst of transferring me, I get cut off.

Call #4 - I get transferred a couple of different times to different people who have no clue what I'm talking about, even though I mention the correct room I want and that I'm calling regarding a job interview. I even tell them the name of the school board and the name of the lady I'm trying to get in touch with. I dread calling again, thinking I'll have to suffer through the annoying automated voice listing my options. You know the one I'm talking about....for blah, blah, blah, push 1....for blah, blah, blah push 2 etc.. I hear a lot static and start thinking it would be a good time to push #4. Pressing 4 patches you through to the Locker Room Sports Bar. Just then, I get a real human voice who tells me the hotel is having trouble transferring phone calls. (Gee, ya think?)

So, I hang up. And, because I'm a sucker for punishment, I'm just about to make call #5 when THEY call ME. They ask me if I am having trouble getting through to them. Am I still interested in doing this interview. Naturally, I keep my professional demeanor, though inwardly I'm saying "well, I've called 4 times....of course I'm interested. But I've probably got the poor receptionist thinking I'm stalking her....also, that sports bar sounds really darn tempting by now." I ended up telling them it would be best to reschedule the appointment since by now my mind was on everything but the interview. THEY agree to call ME early next week, no doubt in order to tell ME when to call THEM for another interview. Hey, don't could happen.

My final chuckle came when I returned to my classroom and I am paged by our secretary. I picked up the transferred call. It was the receptionist from the hotel, the same one I've now talked to 3-4 times in the past half hour. Apparently, my fears of her thinking I was a freaky stalker are unfounded. She is calling to ask me if my phone call had been transferred through successfully.