Posts tagged “nunavut

Back from the dead…


Sadly this post has nothing to do with zombies (Sorry Amy).

I’ve been away from the blogging scene for quite a while now. I had checked out mentally months ago when we found out we won two free tickets to Ottawa and arranged to head down in mid August. Combined with the stress of dealing with my usual clients, working 25+ shifts at the animal shelter and making the rounds as Iqaluit’s newest social bee I quite literally had no desire to blog.

That’s all changed now that I’m sitting on a nice breezy balcony watching the a few willowy cotton ball clouds slowly float across the tree line. Trees! I forgot how much I missed them until I got back here. People take them for granted. I can’t say I’ve actually been longing to see them but it’s kinda one of those things you really don’t pay any mind to till it dawns on you. While Iqaluit has many breathtaking sights and sounds nothing quite beats watching the rhythmic sway of trees as their vibrant green leaves rustle like pom poms in the wind. It’s therapeutic… especially after the past month I’ve had.

I’m not a big “we gotta do something while on vacation” sorta guy. I hate planning. I’m all about let whatever happen just happen. We spend so much time plotting and planning in our everyday lives why would you want to do that on your time off? I didn’t plan on blogging today. Hell the biggest thing on my agenda for the day is sorting out what to have for dinner later. I’m blogging because for the first time in months I’ve felt like it. Didn’t feel obligated. Didn’t feel pressured into it. Just felt like running my mouth. Unfortunately, yet again, I’ve neglected blends and blikes in my absence. I apologize for that. I’ll probably play catch up eventually.

So what have I been up to?

I got set up with the Twitter a couple of months ago. The jury is still out on that. Can’t say I’m a fan of it but I have been using it more than I thought I ever would. Interesting depot for dumping random thought and anyone who knows me well knows I have plenty of those. I still find it to be an incredibly clunky way of communicating but there’s no denying how quickly news spreads (if you can sort through the tweetspeak gibberish). Cheers to all of you twits out there who actually try to use proper grammar. It’s a seemingly lost art form so thanks for keeping it alive.

Let’s see what else… oh yeah I shut down a puppy rescue and made women cry. It wasn’t my intention, mind you. Seriously. I like animals more than I like most people. Everyone knows that. Unfortunately I started working at the shelter at the wrong time and I have a mouth like a bear trap. I know I mentioned a while back that I needed to start offsetting my goody-two-shoes deeds as of late but I never saw this bit of potential infamy on the radar.

Those who have kept up with the Nunavut blog know I’ve been doing quite a bit of volunteering at the Iqaluit Humane Society. For those who don’t know the back story in a nutshell its Nunavut’s first and only animal rescue shelter. To put that into perspective crack open Google maps or a look at a globe and see the area the territory of Nunavut covers. That’s a huge claim to fame. It’s been around for over 5 years now and has rescued the lives of more than 1200 unwanted, abandoned or abused pets in that span. It’s a pretty remarkable feat considering it’s a non government-funded, not for profit organization run entirely on volunteer manpower. They’ve always teetered on the edge of collapse because of this but always managed to pull through.

That was until Big Bad Ian came along.

When I burst onto the scene my wife and I discussed getting involved with some of the volunteer efforts up here. Coming off the heels of the Mighty Rolf Rescue we made right before coming up here, it seemed like a natural fit for me to help out at the shelter. As a new jack with fresh energy I came into the organization with high expectations and a bevy of ideas. The IHS had a potential for greatness but the fact it seemed mired in its own inability to move forward irked me. The deck was stacked against the society in more ways than one. The city and territorial legislation provide no protection for canines, there’s an overwhelming lack of public knowledge regarding responsible animal care, the volunteer pool was insufficient, the dog population is on a steady unwavering rise, and even our own bylaws were flawed. There was no way the shelter could keep up with the ever-increasing demand for services because it was not geared towards sustainability. It was kind-hearted volunteers and a super dedicated board of directors pouring their hearts and souls into a bottomless well.

I ended up donating web space and a domain name to them so that I could construct a website for the shelter. I felt in my heart that they weren’t taking advantage of the vast pool of support out there by not having an online presence. Months later, after establishing a website, a somewhat successful Facebook page and a Twitter account I thought we were on track to break that elusive threshold of public anonymity. Volunteer contribution was hitting rock bottom due to the transient population so I committed to an obscene amount of hours working there in an effort to push the organization over the hump. I couldn’t remain silent about the factors that were working against us though. My intention was to push the society to change with the times and grow along side the city.

The society ended up having to face the sobering reality of the situation at hand. I, along with several other core volunteers, were slated to leave on holiday around the same time and the shelter literally didn’t have the people to come in and do what it takes to keep that place up and running. We needed to restructure our gameplan and treat this operation like a legitimate business instead of just a volunteer effort. It was unfair to the territory, city, community, animals and even ourselves if we couldn’t provide the kind of consistent care needed therefore the board decided to shut down operations on August 9th.

While the prospect of restructuring was welcomed with open arms by all the volunteers we joked openly amongst ourselves how “Ian killed the shelter”. I felt kinda wretched at first. I put on a happy face and played up the “lighting a fire under us” aspect but deep down I was stressed out beyond belief. While we were thankfully able to get our current shelter residents shipped out to responsible and caring no-kill rescue shelters in the south, every day we remained closed meant a disturbing amount of dogs were going to be put down. You see as I mentioned before, Nunavut is the only province or territory in Canada where animals aren’t protected by the law.  In a city where the stray dog population is disturbingly high and majority are put down in the local landfill it makes having a humane society a vital resource. One that I aided in getting shut down. I was of the Spock mindset that the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few… or the one. I felt that the sooner we could get our shit together the more we could save and continue to save unhindered.

Easy to say but hard to deal with the consequences.

Thankfully our ridiculously cool mayor heard of the closing and brought the IHS before the city council the same day we officially closed. We pleaded our case for having a better facility, actual staff members, funding and training. They acknowledged us as a vital city resource and pledged to help us however they can by establishing a work group to coordinate with us on all of our points of interest. We, as a society, decided to revisit our own way of operating and have begun reconstructing from the ground up forming committees to handle the many aspects of running the society. Since the time we closed there has been an unprecedented amount of media and community interest, the latest being a news broadcast about our plight.

We have roughly 3 months to get our plan into relaunch squared away otherwise we will remain closed. That’s a helluva burden I feel weighing on my back every single day – even while on vacation. Some of my pit crew chums (that’s what we call the dedicated guys and gals who bust their humps walking, feeding and cleaning up after the pups every single day) tried to thank me for pushing so hard to make these changes happen. Only time is going to tell if my being a unyielding pain in the ass is going to be for the good. If the shelter ends up reopening and becomes the self-sustainable city resource I know it can be, then I’ll be happy to have done my part for making it happen. If not then I could possibly be the one of the most hated people in the city.

Nothing like a bit of pressure, eh?

I’ve never done anything for the society with the intention of receiving praise or accolades. I could care less about that. I love animals. I love people who love animals. It honestly just tears me up inside knowing what happens to these creatures on a daily basis. I just want them to be cared for and given the fair shake any animal down south is allotted. We can’t do that if we can’t dig our heels in and be the institution we need to be. The first and only animal rescue shelter in Nunavut. That’s a lot of responsibility. We’re in the public’s eye more than ever now and have the means and opportunity to push forward like never before. It’s just matter of getting that monstrous ball rolling down the hill.

I always say it’s always better to do something and risk failure than to do nothing and guarantee it.

Time for a shot of Maple whiskey. 😉

Love, peace and hair grease peeps.

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Only in the North…


I debated posting this on our Nunavut blog but in the end I figured I’d share some of the nuances of northern living with the other side of the blogging universe. You know, the people who aren’t already living in the North. I feel weird posting about some of my observations on the other blog because a lot of northerners read it and it makes me feel incredibly n00bish for noticing some things.  So I’ve brought a handful of my revelations here to share with the masses who visit my warped little blog from all over the world.

Only in the North…

…can you gather food off some broken down cardboard boxes in the middle of a parking lot and not feel weird about doing it. Yup. That’s the way it is up here. Iqaluit (or any northern community for that matter) is a place where hunting is a way of life and badge of honor. It’s never done for sport. Every bit of the game out there is either eaten or used to some extent. Bones are often used in artwork, skins for clothing and innards for medicinal purposes. The meat however is a hot commodity in the Country Food Markets. It feels odd calling it a market. You hear that term and think of a booth, maybe a cash register… something to that extent. No. Up here a market can be the back of someone’s pickup truck or as you see over there a cardboard blanket in the middle of the street. There you can find all sorts of local food from seal, whale and char to caribou, muskox or the extremely rare polar bear – depending on what’s in season. I know. It looks a bit unsanitary and yes it can be a little disturbing if you’re a tourist and see a dude with a bloody face and hands chomping down on a fleshy bone. Hi. Welcome to Iqaluit. We love zombies. Not everyone eats the food raw or right there on the spot. Many bring their own bags, snatch up self-chosen selections and pay the vendor in cash. I admit, I had been wanting to try country food since I got here. I got a chance to do so on Nunavut Day. I had my first sampling of fresh-cut whale and seal. Tasted like sushi (which I’m also a fan of). Oddly enough the seal tasted more fishy than the whale. Go figure.

… can you walk around while it’s 5 degrees Celsius (around 41 Fahrenheit for you Americans) in your shorts and not even feel chilly. I took this picture last month when we went to one of the local parks (Sylvia Grinnell). Yes. The river you see there was still ice choked and yes there were still patches of snow in late June but I was there in shorts with no jacket and felt fine. The temperature up here is hard as hell to explain to people sometimes. If they’re not from here they just label you insane and that’s it. Northern weather is something you have to experience in order to fully understand. It always feels 10 degrees warmer than it actually says it is. Must be the lack of humidity. Plus you have to factor into the equation that there’s a whole different level of cold up here when the temperature does drop. When you contend with sub-zero temperatures that can reach -60 or -70 degrees it makes your body reevaluate what’s warm and what isn’t. Trust me folks, there’s a point in the thermometer where Fahrenheit and Celsius don’t even matter anymore and we can reach that pretty often during the winter. That in turn makes trooping around in -23c feel like nothing too bad. Heck I can recall lurking around the city with just a winter jacket, toque and some thermals on days like that. Meanwhile back down south if it ever got that cold I was bundled like a bear.

… can house sitting be a way of life. There’s a serious housing problem in Iqaluit, believe it or not. It’s a growing city with a very large Inuit population not to mention a steadily rising worker population. Doctors, teachers, engineers, tradesmen and not to mention government employees pour into the city all the time. However with only a limited amount of actual housing, it makes for crisis in motion. We were the victims too. Our housing situation fell through as we were on the plane ride up. We basically were homeless and lived in a hotel for about a month before wheeling and dealing a subletting agreement with a contractor at one of the apartment buildings. They didn’t have any employees up there so they let us rent from them until they did. We were lucky. Some people have to rely on the transient status of the working population as a way of having a place to stay. People will quite literally live from place to place, sitting for people who have gone out-of-town on holiday or for business matters while they wait for a place of their own. Tenures can be a couple of days to a couple of months depending on the situation. It’s not uncommon for a person fresh off the plane to shack up with someone they don’t even know in order to have a roof over their head. In such a tight-knit community who you know ends up being more vital than what you know.

… is fashion not a big priority. We’re not savages. We dress nice like anyone else but there isn’t a really strong emphasis on fashion – particularly footwear. Functionality supersedes beauty when it comes to stomping around the streets, hills and rocky terrain of the city. When a good portion of the year is spent in either mud or snow (with the remaining bit being superfine dust, sand and dirt) how good your shoes look really isn’t all that important. My running shoes were pretty new right before I came up. This is how they look after being washed numerous times. Let’s not even talk about pant leg bottoms. Everyone looks like they’ve been dipped feet first into chocolate at times so trust me when I say fashion is not a big deal up here. People will swarm quicker for a nice bug jacket, parka or good pair of rain boots than they would for any designer wear.

… do you have to take several showers a day during the summer just to get the dust off. We’re a polar desert people. We get losts of wind up here. They don’t use salt on roads in winter time. Doesn’t do anything. Instead they use dirt. That means when the snow goes away during the summer there’s nothing but fine dirt and sand blowing around the city. Some days it’s really bad. Take the past 2 days for example. The wind has been gusting at 30 – 40km at times. Did I forget to mention we live across the way from the dirt factory that produces the dirt used around the city? It’s wonderful. Don’t dare walk around with your mouth open. You’re bound to have a nice crunchy after taste in no time. Such is the way it is up here. If the wind blows you get dust-covered. If it stops then they come.

Some might think these things are a turn off but I love it. Can’t say it’s not interesting here.

I love how even in a post about Iqaluit, I managed to talk about zombies. Take that Zombie Queen! *wink wink nudge nudge*


Good things come…


…in small packages.

That leaves a lot to the imagination especially if you are a frequent visitor to this blog. I could very well just let your minds frolic in the gutter. After all I’d have to agree with the first part of the blog title wholeheartedly. Course referring to someone as a thing is just crass. But then again if you look at the whole phrase if I’m the good thing then is it derogatory to little people?

Anyway before the train of thought veers down the track into Perv Town, my title is in reference to the innocent old adage referring to a meaningful gift.

I take you back a couple of weeks to a certain young girl who is on the precipice of a landmark birthday. She’s knocking on the door to the wonderful world of teenagerdom and I wanted to welcome her to the next stage of her life with a very special gift.  Her ridiculously cool mother and I concocted a plan that was ABC After School Special worthy. It was a scheme so deliciously sweet it made my cavities ring and would serve as my Get Out of Hell Free card for the Rapture.

Oh wait… that passed already and I didn’t get taken away. Dammit! I guess I have to go back to being bad then…

The mission was to craft a piece of artwork for the young lass and get it to her by or before her birthday. On the outset it looked like an easy task. The picture was completed in only a couple of days leaving plenty of time to get it sent off. There were a few obstacles to overcome first in order to get said package from point A to point B. The first of which is the fact that I live next to Santa Claus and she lives near Sin City. That’s a  heckuva distance for a flimsy parcel to travel. I’m no stranger to undertaking improbable missions though. Heck I first met my wife face-to-face on a dare. Traveled all the way from the heart of NYC to Niagara Falls Canada just because she didn’t think I’d do it. But that’s another tale…

I know. I’m awesome.

Nunavut to Nevada doesn’t seem to be too insurmountable but then there stands my old nemesis and the second gateway obstacle  – good ole Canada Post. There is no love lost between us. We’ve engaged in many wars against one another and have fought each other to a stand still. A peace treaty was established earlier this year in the hopes of putting an end to the decade of conflict. The peasants rejoiced. Unfortunately CP caught wind of my super secret Priority One mission and shattered the pact by announcing there was going to be a nation-wide union strike.

Right on. Couldn’t have waited a couple more weeks right? Of course not. You are the bane of my existence. Why should I expect anything less. Touché.

I was wily in my ways and dispatched the package with a tracking number a week and change before the rumored start of the strike. Although it was a sneeze above regular mail priority it didn’t bring me any relief. Mail moves like frozen crap going uphill in the north and my greatest fear was that it would take too long getting to the south then get stranded there just as the strike would erupt. Sheer luck allowed it to blaze a trail all the way to the border without so much as a delay and avoided the strike by mere days. Up next the greatest challenge – Americans.

The final challenge was a twin fanged threat. American Customs can be a very fickle entity. You can easily get a package opened, confiscated or even destroyed depending on the mood of whoever is on duty doing the processing at that time. It’s their discretion. We all know how dangerous a piece of paper and a CD can be so naturally I anticipated the worse. Remarkably though it passed right on through customs and made its way to my old stomping grounds of New York City by the 1st of June.

I was giddy all day yesterday. When I checked the status it had reached the Las Vegas Sorting facility on Sunday (the 5th) and was slated for delivery. My hopes were high, but still I held on to that little shadow of doubt because I know far too well how the final leg of the race is always the toughest. I waited and waited to receive word. Finally, later that night I got an email from Thypolar informing me that the package arrived on time and intact.  (12) was given her surprise gift(s) early and I was treated to a couple of pictures mommy took of her reaction as she opened it.

Mission Accomplished.

I have to say the smile she had and the look of shock on her face gave me the warm fuzzies of doing something good for someone. I may say I don’t like children but that’s just generally speaking. I don’t like people either but I have quite a few that I consider very dear friends. The same holds true with kids. Some kids I truly do like and appreciate. (12) is one of those. She’s a great little gir…err.. ‘scuse me… soon-to-be young lady who has a very pure heart. She’s not selfish. She’s not caught up with all the nonsense many children nowadays get wrapped up in and still has that precious dose of innocence. She also has the luxury of being surrounded by an awesome (yes I referred to someone other than myself as awesome) family and good friends. I was really tempted to post at least one of the pictures she sent but alas, she is not my child and I’d never violate a family’s privacy like that. I’m bad but I’m not a douche. I trust there will be a great many pictures of the newly crowned (13) once her birthday has come and passed so stay tuned to Thypolar’s blog for more updates. I don’t like to get sappy too often because it seriously tarnishes my gangsta nerd reputation but sometimes it eeks out.

I’m man enough to show respect when respect is due. I’ve bashed Canada Post and the United States Parcel Service on numerous occasions but this time you came through big time and were spot on in every phase of the transit. For that I thank you. You’ve done Kevin Costner proud.  Somehow though I suspect we will meet once again on the battlefield. Until then you have my respect.

So… what does a sanity challenged individual who made a child happy do for his next trick?

Start pushing my way back to the front of the line to HELL of course! I can’t very well start getting a reputation for being a do-gooder now! There are far too many assholes in the world for me to rant about and stupid people to cruelly mock for me to turn good. For now it’s back to the drawing board (no pun intended).

Cheers!


Insomnia, blogging, Arctic Char, Bell monkies and a traitorous unicorn


2:39am.

That’s when the sky starts to lighten up now. That’s about an hour earlier then at the beginning of the week. I’m a little concerned that my demeanor is slowly devolving into something that is a cross between Bugs Bunny and a zombie. My level of cynicism and sarcasm has risen to an all time high, my brain is constantly firing but it’s spouting out gibberish 90% of the time fused with inaudible groans, I stumble about more than usual without being drunk and I may as well hook myself up to the coffee IV at this point in time – which sucks because unlike normal humans coffee isn’t a stimulant for me. I drink it to relax myself and fall asleep sometimes.

Sleep.

I’m finding it incredibly hard to sleep up here. Correction, I’m finding it incredibly hard to sleep normally up here. My wife will contend that I sleep just fine but that’s not what my mind or body is telling me. It’s not that I can’t sleep with the sun out. Hell I can sleep standing up in a fully lit (and moving) subway car so that’s not an issue. It’s what this nuisance known as the sun is doing to me mentally. I find myself forcing myself to sleep rather than having it happen naturally. When we first came up here many moons ago I was absolutely in my element. I am a child of the night. Sorta like a sexy vampire but with no bloodsucking and looser pants. I’m alive at night. I work best at night. I write my best at night. When days consisted of 19hrs of darkness and 5 hours of light I was in my zone blogging, working and being just an Energizer Bunny full of life. I’m kinda glad I was at the peak of my blogging because had I started now I’d probably would have never blogged at all. It’s brutal. I couldn’t have anticipated how much a few extra hours of daylight would have such a profound impact on my daily living.

Who am I kidding? I’ve never liked the sun.

Regardless, as the days get longer and longer my Bizarro Superman darkness-fueled powers fade more and more. And we’re not even into Summer yet. That’s where the real fun begins. From what I’m constantly told we don’t get full on 24hrs of daylight because we’re just outside the infamous arctic circle but let’s just say it never really gets dark either. Woo hoo. Mix that with my wife into a new kick of playing music to go to sleep at night and I’m in store for a wonderous next couple of months. Mind you, she just bought a white noise machine not too long ago to help her sleep. You know those rainforesty, crashing waves crickets fucking type of things but apparently she’s abandoned that for block rockin’ beats.

I sleep with earplugs. Not by choice. It started back when there were habitual partying neighbors above us in our old apartment. I’m the kind of person that can fall asleep anywhere at anytime if I’m tired but if there’s even a hint of unwelcomed noise, I can’t sleep. I later donned the plugs once again when a child with name of the Norse God of Gods, Odin, walked the Earth above me. He certainly lived up to his tremendous namesake. I thought in fleeing to the arctic north I would relieve myself from the noises (and voices) that plague me nightly but then Jemaine and Brit  decided they learned enough English and elected to test it out every morning at 5am by singing Lionel Richie’s “Hello”. Mind you they only know the hello part and while to some it may seem cute and amusing, I wholeheartedly believe I can make a cat fly before the end of the summer if it keeps up.

I apologize for a great many things…

I apologize for posting a Lionel Richie video. Although I think he should be apologizing for the video itself. The girl is blind and he says “is it me you’re looking for”. That’s just some cold-blooded non politically correct shit there Horse Man.

I apologize for the run on sentences and tangents that stray from the main point during the course of this post. But then again if I don’t have a point to begin with is it really straying from it?

I apologize for not being a daily poster. No… I don’t want to be a giant paper on a wall. I’m just sorry I can’t produce as much content as others in the blogiverse can. I have weeks worth of events, sights and experiences locked in my brain but the creature at the helm of my brain only allows me to blurt it out as he sees fit. I write articles, albeit weird and disjointed ones at times. I can’t just write to hear myself talk. Some people appear to thrive off of that but that’s just not me. While I do ramble, rant and babble I do it for the people 4700+ people who have and still do come to this blog who area interested (for some reason) in what I have to say.  Thank you loyal and demented followers (and those passing through). It’s always comforting being able to spread my infectious dribble across the world.

I apologize for having an Arctic char in the freezer. Yeah. I got a whole frozen fish in my freezer and have never scaled or gutted a fish in my life. It had to be purchased though. I recall salmon steaks and fillets running at least $9 – $12 in the south for the skimpiest portions. This is a whole fucking char, freshly caught, for $25. How could I pass up a deal like that? Course my do now, think later mentality has put me in yet another bind. I don’t care. I’ll defrost and cut that bastard up somehow.

I apologize to Missy for stealing her unicorn and assassinating her with it. I didn’t mean to. Okay… that’s a lie. I did but only because you were slowly killing me the entire time I was fighting my way through the inner ring. C’mon. I was broke, had no fate and was dragging a dragon carcass around for most of the night. The gnome in my pocket didn’t help out much either. When I saw my opportunity to take you down I went for it and prevailed as the ruler of all. If you’re reading this and don’t believe a word of what I’m saying there were three other witnesses to monumental event so I’m not crazy. Course there was a lot of drinking involved too and I do recall Missy requesting that I draw it at some point so I guess that’ll be a future post, eh?

I apologize to Bell and Corus Entertainment for living on Baffin Island. When we left Kitchener we brought our  receiver with us. Bell still offered service up here so we figured it was easiest to just bring it and not have to worry about getting a new one. For months we’ve had the same Astral Media programming we had down south. You know like The Movie Network and east coast stations. That all changed 2 days ago when the brainiacs over at Bell decided to switch our service without notice. Apparently, according to them, the entire territory of Nunavut falls under their west coast services. Nevermind the fact Nunavut makes up about a third of the entire country (with roughly half of that in the east).  I’m no geographer but last I recall Iqaluit is still in the Eastern Time Zone. Heck, if you pull out a map or a globe you’ll see that we’re further east than Kitchener, Toronto and even New York so of course I want to see west coast programming. Does this make even remotely any sense to you? Maybe my sleep deprivation is making me see things in a skewed perspective but doesn’t it bear to reason that if I’m in an East Coast time zone, shouldn’t I get east coast programming? Bless Bell and the monkeys they have working there.

Lastly I apologize for being awesome. Over the last few weeks I’ve come under a lot of fire from critics and cynics for my proclamation of awesomeness. It’s understandable that there is a lot of animosity and jealousy when it comes to being in the presence of something truly awesome so in being the awesome guy that I am I’ll try my best to contain my aura. I’m not being egotistical or overly confident. I’m just being what I am. A tiger can’t help being a tiger. He’s born that way. I can’t help being awesome. I was born that way.


Logo Source: Courtesy World Wrestling Entertainment and the only person aside from myself allowed to refer to himself as awesome, WWE Champion Mike “The Miz” Mizanin