If You Can Give…

My thoughts go out to the families affected by the fire early this morning in the Road to Nowhere subdivision.  Sadly, the building was destroyed, and there are now approximately 30 families that are homeless.

If you are local and in the position to do so, donations for families affected by the fire will be accepted at Inuksuk High School today and Friday.  As you can well imagine, there will be a great need for bedding, towels, small appliances and toys.  You can bring these items to the school cafeteria, but please – no large items.

For more information, contact Tina Morrissey, Student Support Teacher at Inuksuk.  Tina can be reached by phone at 867-979-5281 ext. 1426, or by fax at 867-979-4380.

Iqaluit apartment building destroyed in fire – North – CBC News

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An Open Letter to the Sun – (Arctic Spring Edition)

Dear Almighty Fireball in the Sky.

I bet you like that kind of introduction don’t you? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Your ego won’t allow for anything less regal. So here we are once again. Spring is here and you are once again enforcing your will upon the world and damaging my calm.

We get it.

You’re the source of life on this planet and our reason for being, blah blah blah. How much longer do we have to pander to you? You’ve been worshipped throughout the ages by adoring fans. Entire religions (and some cults) have been formed in praise of you. Entire civilizations have dedicated their way of life to your benevolence. Big whoop. Are you upset that you don’t garner as much attention anymore? Is this your reason for intruding upon my fragile state of mind.

Let’s be real here. We never got along in the first place. I’ve done my best to avoid you like the the drunk girl at a party. I’ve even resorted to cavorting with your goofy little brother with the bad acne, Moon, in an attempt to distance myself from you. He’s not the most engaging fella to associate with but at least he isn’t intrusive. Sure sometimes he shines his flashlight through my window on occasion but it isn’t nearly as blinding as your holier-than-thou sunlight. What part of I don’t like you do you not get? You cause me more misery than you do joy. Sure you’ll probably rattle off a laundry list of things you do for me behind the scenes but I don’t care. That’s your job. Don’t start just doing extra things without asking me first.

I understand there are people who have been waiting for you for a while now. They want to get their tans and frolic around in short shorts and go to beaches and what not. Hello. I come equipped with my own built-in tan. I don’t need to cook myself till I’m golden brown. I have that fresh out of the oven look year round, bro.  I could care less about wearing less clothes – and I’m quite certain there are many people who will agree that me with less clothes is NOT a good thing as well. I’m not a fan of open water either so you can keep the beaches as well.

You think that you’re too cool for school, but I have a newsflash for you Walter Cronkite… you aren’t.

My wife tells me that you’re stalking us for nearly 12 hours out of the day now. Really? Really? Has your ego really gotten that tremendous that you have to bug me for that long? Rumour has it that you’ve actually got the audacity to even try to exceed that. Do you really think I’m going to tolerate that? You sap the very life force out of me with your sun shiny dribble. I came to the arctic to escape your ever watchful gaze. So what that I’m seriously geographically challenged and didn’t realize it meant you and I would have our final showdown up here. I’m ready for you.

You will not break me and I’ll never yield to you.

So gather your silly little sun-loving minions and let them sing your praises and bask under what they believe is awesomeness. I’ll continue to plot in the darkness against you. Dark will always win out over light because light is dumb. Your hubris will be your undoing. Remember, a book once said “in the beginning there was darkness”…

That title will be regained some day.

Sincerely,

Ian

Concert Series, Arts Festival & Art Contest

Alianait Concert Series & Arts Festival 2011

Image Source: Aboriginal Peoples Choice.com

We caught wind of this a couple weeks ago while at a crafts show. Alianait Entertainment is producing a concert series that will span the rest of 2011. Those who are unfamiliar with the name, they’re the innovators behind the Alianait Arts Festival which is held every year. From what we’ve heard and read it’s one heck of an event with live music, arts & crafts ehibits and lots of local delicacies. We’re very much looking forward to it. However prior to that is the concert series which kicks off March 19th with award-winning singer/songwriter Leela Gilday.

I’m not familar with her work but I’ve heard rave reviews so I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t been to a concert since Massive Attack played in Toronto last year so I’m kinda itchin’ for some live music. If we do decide to go one of us will be sure to write a review of it.

She’ll be performing at the Inuksuk High School between 7:30pm and 10pm this Saturday. Tickets are on sale at Ventures. For more information on the Alianait Concert Series and Arts Festival visit their website and/or Like them on Facebook!

“Raven Harmonies” Art Contest

The Nunavut Arts & Crafts Association has partnered with Alianait for a Nunavut-wide art competition. The contest theme is ‘RAVEN HARMONIES’ with the winning design being chosen for the Festival t-shirt and guide. Any form of art will be accepted.

Submit your design by email or mail as a ‘PDF’, ‘jpg’ or photo of your artwork by 5 pm March 28th 2011  to:

Alianait Arts Festival
Box 568
Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0
Email: heather@alianait.ca

So all you talented artists out there throw your two cents worth in and see if you can become a part of history. I’m even considering chucking an entry into there. Even though wildlife really isn’t my forte’ (I tend to be more along the lines of the creepy, horrific, demonic, big boobed style artwork)  but  I’m willing to take a stab at it. Who knows what will come of it? Stranger things have happened. 😉

A Tomb Raider in Iqaluit?

If you read our own individual blogs, some of you may have heard that Ian and I had a houseguest for a few weeks.  That’s right, Angelina Jolie was visiting us as part of The Jolie Pez Project.  There’s even more details about the whole shebang – including some of the participants – right here.  It was a disastrous an interesting experience, to say the least.  The Jolie can certainly be a handful, as you may have read about on my blog, and on Ian’s.

She recently continued on her travels to Newfoundland, and once she left earlier this week, Ian and I came across something that we think she left behind – The Secret Diary of The Jolie.  We thought we’d share the contents of the diary with you…

Dear Diary,

I have been enjoying my time here in Iqaluit with Suzanne and Ian.  They’ve tried to show me a good time, but neither of them have any idea how much I’ve been learning about hunting.  I really need to get out there to experience true survival!  The polar bear at that bar we visited was only a taste of what I can do now.  I’ve learned how to use a bow and arrows to take down anything!  I can’t wait to try out the new techniques…

One of the first beasts I’d really like to try hunting is a muskox.  A muskox is a giant mythological creature with curly horns, hooves of steel…and it breathes fire!  I read about it in this book.  I might be exaggerating about some of its abilities…

But I also read that there aren’t any muskox in Iqaluit, so I’ll have to venture out further.  I took a peek at a map that my hosts have, and plotted my course.  With the right transportation, I could be hauling a fresh kill back by sundown tomorrow.

Due to the cold temperatures up here, Suzanne made me a parka.  I was thankful for it, but didn’t want it to hide my radiant beauty from the world, so I never fastened it up tight.

I needed to look for some transportation.  I found a pretty good spot…you can barely even see me up there.  Perfect for stealing a ride on something…

From my vantage point, I could see something across the way…a group of…animals perhaps?  I’d have to head back to my hosts and return here later – when it was dark.

I snuck out of the apartment while my hosts were cooking dinner.  When I returned to the location I had found earlier, I confirmed that there were a number of large dogs…they must be sled dogs!  Why they would be perfect!  I could hook them up as a team, and they could pull me out on to the land to hunt the mighty muskox!

Of course, I don’t have a sled…so what else could I do?  Then I heard it…the rumbling of a huge snow machine.  I turned quickly and saw a man heading towards me on his snowmobile.

But he was just too fast.  I couldn’t get to him before he drove off.  I was sad.  At least until I heard what would possibly be my way out.  A loud rumbling from afar caught my attention and I walked towards the sound.  Of course!  The airport!  This will be my way out of Iqaluit and up to the high Arctic so I can find muskox!

I decided to return to the apartment so as not to arouse the suspicion of my hosts.  I would have a good night’s sleep and set out.

The next morning, I headed back out to the airport.  I realized that I would not be able to fly further north…I must have lost my wallet back in New Brunswick in the dulse bin.  Foiled!

Besides…I’m pretty sure this sign said “Must be this tall to ride” in its strange hieroglyphs…

Another setback, but not to fear.  I noticed a snow-covered mountain that if I scaled, I would be able to see for miles and perhaps come across something to hunt nearby.  It was becoming quite evident that the muskox was not to be my prey…and so I climbed.

From the top, I had a great vantage point for wildlife that might be in the area.  As I kept my eyes peeled for movement, I noticed something back down at the base.  Tracks!  Huge tracks!  These had to be those of a polar bear for sure.  I rappelled down the cliff quickly and rushed to where I saw the tracks.  They turned out not to be those of polar bears, but of the local ravens.  Those birds are huge!  I mean, I’m easily 5′ 10″…and I felt dwarfed by the size of the tracks.  Perhaps I could perfect my hunting technique with them…after all, they were everywhere in this city.

Just as I was about to hijack another passing snowmobile rider, I noticed the sun was beginning its descent behind the hills.  The day is nearing its end.  And soon I will be leaving Iqaluit.  Perhaps one day I will return to this land of stark beauty.  Of cold ice and snow.  Of huge pterydactol-like birds.

Until then…I remain…
The Jolie

I got the Meme on me…

If you’re expecting a post about Iqaluit then you’re in for a shock. This has absolutely positively nothing to do with the Arctic so you’ve been properly warned…

On January 20th, 2011 an award was forged in the firey bussom of Mount Doom the likes of which had never been seen before. It was to be the award to end all awards. One award to rule them all. But mysteriously the award was stolen and never seen again. Distraught over the loss of the all powerful relic the mighty Jillsmo was forced to create another equally power award. Unfortunately what was spawned was far worse than anyone could imagine. The gawdy monstrosity came to be known as The Memetastic Award and it spread across the land like a plague infecting all in its wake with memelicious goodiness.

If you have no idea what the hell that means, join the club. All I know is that our dear friend Wendy awarded us with the memetastic bubbly goodness and now after a month of trying to figure out if there was a pill or shot or something to cure the meminess I am compelled to follow suit with the rules for being blessed with such an honor. Since Suzanne already had to deal with a meme on her own blog I figure it’s my turn to confront it.

They are as follows:

1. You must proudly display the award in a post. [Done]

2. You must list 5 things about yourself, and 4 of them must be bold-faced lies. [Done]

3. You must pass this award on to 5 bloggers. [Done]

Anyways 5 things about me in which only one is the truth. Hmmm…

  1. I was a grip in a video shoot for a Norwegian singer.
  2. I once participated in trial experiments of a drug called cortexiphan.
  3. I once competed on a reality show but was voted off shortly after I went a little bonkers and started talking and texting from a rock that I believed was a blackberry.
  4. I worked for a brief period of time as an architect at Vanderlay Industries.
  5. I worked as a package deliverer for IPS.

And not who do I piss off by giving them this award. Well since I’ve done worst to people in the past so I suppose gracing them with this award won’t be that bad. Anyways, here are my victims …err… winners:

  1. Enso Monkey
  2. It’s Jim
  3. Thoughts Appear
  4. Thy Polar Life
  5. Life in a Nutshell

Don’t hate me for showing the love. Just spread the love to others. Cheers!

Jillsmo would totally appreciate it if you visit the  Memetastic Hop and link up there if you are a recipient of this fantastic award. One has to know how far the memeness has spread.

The Wisdom of Polar Bears

Every once in a while, one comes across an article so inspiring, that their life will never be the same again.

This is not that article.  But it is bound to put a wee smile on your face nonetheless.  It did that to me when I saw someone had posted it on a board at work.  To whomever posted this, I salute you.

Word has it that it was originally written for The New Yorker in 2002, but unfortunately I was not able to find the original online.  Thank goodness it’s floating around from other sources…

Polar Bear Workout

It is not recommended to use a polar bear as a workout partner.

 I present to you…

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED BY HAVING MY ARMS RIPPED OFF BY A POLAR BEAR
by ANDREW BARLOW


For me, wisdom came not at the top of the graduate-school mountain nor buried in the Sunday-school sandpile.  For me, wisdom arrived during a visit to the home of our trusted friend the polar bear.  Actually, I suppose “trusted friend” is something of a misnomer, because last year I had my arms brutally ripped from my torso by a fifteen-hundred-pound Norwegian polar bear.  How and why this happened is an interesting story.  For now, though, let’s take a look at some fun lessons about our good friend Ursus maritimus, the polar bear.  Here’s what I learned:

—Share everything.  You might be thinking, Really?  Even with polar bears?  Yes, share especially with polar bears.  Actually, the word “share” does not exist in a polar bear’s vocabulary, which consists of only about three hundred words.  Give everything you have to a polar bear and do not expect him to share it.  It did not occur to the polar bear who took my arms from me to share them in any way afterward.

—Polar bears are meticulous about personal cleanliness.  A typical polar bear will feast for about twenty to thirty minutes, then leave to wash off in the ocean or an available pool of water.  The polar bear who feasted on my arms did exactly this, leaving to scrub up in a nearby lake.  Good hygiene is fundamental.

—In nearly all instances where a human has been attacked by a polar bear, the animal has been undernourished or was provoked.  In my case, the bear was plump but deranged.  Consequently, my attacker bear was spared the execution that typically follows an assault.  My proposal—that my polar bear have his arms ripped off by a larger polar bear—was rejected by the authorities.  No lesson here, I guess.

—The town of Churchill, Manitoba, is known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.”  According to legend, when a bear ambled into the Royal Canadian Legion hall in Churchill, in 1894, the club steward shouted, “You’re not a member! Get out!,” and the bear did.  This story is almost certainly fictitious.  During the first ten minutes that a polar bear was removing my arms from my body, I repeatedly shouted, “Stop!,” “Get away from me!,” and “Please—oh, my God, this polar bear is going to rip my arms off!,” but the animal was unfazed.  The lesson in this is that you can’t believe everything you hear.

—Beware of blame-shifting.  The authorities speculated that the nasty scene may have begun when I grabbed onto the polar bear’s fur.  At first, I thought, Gee, maybe that’s right—I must have done something to get him so sore.  But now I reject this suggestion.  Why would I grab his fur?

—Things change.  As a child, I used to delight in early-morning “polar-bear swims” at my summer camp.  Now I don’t even feel like swimming anymore, because I have no arms.

—Summing up:  1. Do not run from a polar bear.  2. Do not fight back.  3. Don’t just stand there.  Whatever you do, it will teach you a lesson.

—Never judge a book by its cover.  Polar bears hate this.

—When a male polar bear and a human are face to face, there occurs a brief kind of magic: an intense, visceral connection between man and beast whose poignancy and import cannot be expressed in mere words.  Then he rips your arms off.

Frostbite & Flippin’ Snowmobiles

Okay so this title is a little misleading. Neither of us have long-term frostbite nor did we flip a snowmobile… entirely. It is an interesting story nonetheless. I was kind of waiting for Suzanne to tell the story since she did all the driving… or is it piloting(?)… who knows. Anyways, she’s being somewhat blog anti-social at the moment so I am here to tell the very short yet utterly enjoyable tale of our second snow mobile excursion.

For those unfamiliar with our first outing on a snow mobile you can delve back into our short history and check it out for yourself. Back then I was relatively new to the whole Arctic cold thing. The deceptively warm weather up here had us dressing very light for the first couple of months. I really didn’t anticipate how cold it could get on a snow mobile during a relatively balmy arctic afternoon. I had my Light Recon outfit with a scarf and thought that would do the trick (…I’ll explain what exactly my Light Recon Outfit is along with other outfits in a future Dressing in Iqaluit post). Let’s just say an hour into our ride in -40c wind chill I got shown how wrong that outfit was. Chilled to the bone, a faucet for a nose and nursing some minor facial frostbite I quickly learned that if I intended to get on a snow mobile again, I’d need to rethink my strategy and take the weather more seriously.

I mean heck, we got that expensive gear for reason right?

My opportunity at redemption came two weeks ago when Suzanne’s manager once again invited us out for a snowmobile outing. Several people were supposed it be in attendance this time and we were to travel across the sea ice to Katannilik Territorial Park.

…travel across sea ice…

This troubled me at first. After all I am the man who fears open water so why not drive heavy machinery over frozen water, right? Despite this blinding fear I was jazzed at the prospect of doing something I could never have predicted I’d ever do. Let’s just say Suzanne’s enthusiasm put mine to shame. While we were extremely excited about doing it, some very serious concerns put doubt in our minds. Besides the whole n00bish fear of falling through the ice we had some really grounded concerns about things like out lack of proper equipment (i.e. wind resistant pants) and Suzanne’s insulin pump. The trip was going to be an all day adventure slated for a 9am departure with us returning around sundown (which would be around 5pm). When we first went out on a snow mobile months ago the weather was unseasonably warm but since then it’s been on average -27c daily with some nasty wind chills on some days. Driving into those wind chills at 30 – 40km makes for a very serious situation if you’re not properly dressed. Layering is all well and fine but if you don’t have something to cut that wind it’s pointless.

Then there was the insulin pump. We’ve seen the effect of the bitter cold on electronics. Batteries get killed in minutes in the extreme cold not to mention she has an exposed tubing for the pump. Even though she intended to bring her insulin pen along, even that wasn’t a guarantee. At these temperatures it would  freeze as well. The night before we were scheduled to go we pretty much talked ourselves into not going. Better to be safe than sorry was our reasoning. We figured there would be plenty of opportunities to do such things in the future.

Image source: Google Maps

The next day we find out that everyone else (except for her manager) dropped out and it was only him still heading out. Cue crisis of conscience. We felt rotten that everyone bailed and that he’d be going out all alone. It’s not that he can’t handle himself. He’s been out here doing this for years. We felt bad that everyone ditched the trip so at zero hour we decided to take our chances and go with him. We layered up, donned the bears (aka the Resolutes) and psyched ourselves up for the journey. Armed with a pair of snow mobiles, supplies, a rifle and a qamutik we set out towards Katannilik.

I have to say driving across sea ice is an experience that’s extremely hard to describe with just words. The day was cold but it was clear and sunny. You could see for miles. It’s kinda mind boggling thinking about it – driving across the inlet with about 25ft of ice between you and the water below. I have yet to drive an actual snow mobile. I’ve always been the passenger. Suzanne figures the guy nicknamed “Mr. Bump” shouldn’t be at the helm until our medical coverage is straight. It’s all good though. Sitting back and enjoying the scenery is a treat I wouldn’t pass up for anything. It’s amazingly quiet out there when the engines aren’t roaring. I’m talking pin-drop quiet.

Yeah, that's frozen eyelashes, moustache and nose stuff. It's THAT cold.

By the time we reached Cabin One the cold was starting to get to me. Suzanne and Mark seemed fine but my hands and toes were feeling quite numb. I didn’t understand why. I was dressed as well as I could. I had 2 pairs of wool sockets on in addition to my -60c rated Sorels but as we sat there in the cold little hut, I could feel my toes taking a nap. We sipped some hot tea Mark brought along and munched on some granola bars while he explained to us why I was feeling the way I was.  We’d been riding for quite a while; something like an hour or so. When you’re not moving as much your heart rate drops and therefore your circulation slows. He told me I needed to get up and run around a bit to get the blood flowing and I’d be fine.

Naturally I doubted this because I’m ignorant to logic sometimes but I followed suit and went outside and ran around for a bit. Sure enough once my heart rate got up my fingers and toes warmed up immediately. It was magic. Suzanne discovered that her pump had frozen during the trip despite being inside her parka. I should clarify and say that her tubing froze, much like my iPod buds do whenever I go out. Basically the insulin froze in the tubing. So rather than risk any further damage to the pump, she shut it down. Unfortunately he pen insulin was frozen as well. While this didn’t pose any immediate danger, we couldn’t be out gallivanting for hours on end. Besides, I had tweaked my knee when I got off the snow mobile earlier so I wasn’t against packing it in a little earlier anyway. Nevertheless we stowed our gear back into the qamutik pressed forward towards Cabin Two.

That’s when disaster struck.

Mark acknowledging our christening flip...

Okay so it wasn’t disaster but it was a fail nonetheless. While trying to ascend the mountain Suzanne couldn’t quite hit the angle she wanted and we veered a bit off course. The rig we were on was very top-heavy so naturally once we got parallel to the mountain we started to tip. No amount of leaning we did could have saved us. It felt like we crashed in slow motion but once the back of my head smashed into the icy snow I realized it was a legit fall. Thankfully the snow mobile didn’t roll. It kind of keeled over like a lame horse. Both Suzanne and I pushed off from it when we felt it tipping so we fell a few feet away from it. We were on the side of a mountain though so momentum times gravity made the fall feel worse than it was. According to Suzanne she was yelling at me for a few seconds trying to find out if I was okay. I honestly don’t even recall it. My bell was rung and I had that nasty salty taste of blood in my mouth. After a few minutes of waging war with the evil forces of gravity we managed to get our bearings. No serious damage done.

Mark swung around and made sure we were okay. After flipping the beast right side up once again we decided that was the monkey that broke the camel’s back (or however that saying goes) and started to head back home. Suzanne’s confidence was a bit rocked but Mark and I kept reassuring her it’s what happens. Everyone flips a snowmobile at some point. That didn’t stop daredevil Suzanne from catching some air off of about a 10 foot hill with me clinging for dear life behind her. As we started to reach the choppy shoreline Mark got his snow mobile wedged in a gully so we had to spend some time trying to jimmy it free. Suzanne was still a little leery about tackling some of the hilly crests that we had to cross in order to get to the flatter open water so she let Mark go at it.

He too managed to flip the snow mobile as well which brought some semblance of comfort to Suzanne knowing that even a pro like him can fall victim to it. That provided a prime opportunity to take some pictures of course. Bear in mind Suzanne’s camera has a cracked LCD screen so there’s no way of gauging what you’re shooting or how it’ll turn out. I have to say these pictures turned out quite well if I do say so myself…

Suzanne walking on water...

Throwing up gang signs at the ice (?)

My wicked cool blind shot at the path we just took and the mountain...

Looking out towards the other coastline past the waves...

We had a blisteringly cold ride back to Iqaluit and got home roughly around 4:30pm. We had spent a whopping 6hrs out in the boonies. Not bad for people who weren’t completely prepared. We bore the war wounds of a nice day of activity. Our fingers were somewhat frostbitten and we were achy like a first day at the gym but after a couple of days of taking it easy we were back to full speed… for the most part. In the end it was an experience that’ll last a lifetime. I’m sure locals and long time residents may not see it that way but for two n00bs from the south it was awesome. Can’t wait till the next road trip.

Note to self… next time get the heat packs going before you leave not while you’re out there. ;p