About Ian the Zen Assassin

Just a guy with far too much on his mind...

Catching Up

Yes family, friends and other people who follow this blog we are truly sorry for going on a blogging sabbatical for the past year and change. No worries though, we’re slowly getting things back up to snuff. As you’ve probably noticed we have a new header to commemorate the Return to Active Blogging. It’s easier said than done but alas, I figured I’d put a challenge in front of us to get us back into the groove. We’ve grown so incredibly Facebook-lazy that we’ve neglected the masses who aren’t even on there.

So as 2013 rolls along we’re going to try to make this a viable resource once again. As a token of our determination I’ve revamped our picture diary and arranged it into years so that you don’t have to plow through tons of pictures at once. We still do take a ridiculous amount of pictures though. Now that we have a new DSLR camera I expect us to double that amount in 2013. When last we left off uploading pictures there was around 300 of them. There’s over 600 pictures now combined from all the galleries!

If you think uploading that many pictures is easy, try doing it on the InterNot. Not a fun experience. 🙂

Enjoy and stay tuned for more content in the near future!

Iqaluit Dress Guide for n00bs

One of the hardest things to account for when we came up here was the weather. Suzanne had done tons of research but the weather in Iqaluit is something you have to experience in order to really know about it. We simply heard “arctic” and “-30°c” and went right to Le Baron and stocked up on gear that could be used up in Grise Fiord. We experienced -30°c a few times in Waterloo and did not like it in the least. You’ll hear the term “dry cold” all too often when speaking with people who live in the north. It’s a difficult concept to explain to those who have only known “humid cold” all their lives. There’ve been many times I’d post on Facebook delighting about certain sub zero temperatures to the chagrin of my parents and southern friends. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t suddenly developed frost armor since coming to Iqaluit. Being chilled to the bones is not a feeling I enjoy. There are days when it’s so miserably cold here that it makes you question your sanity for staying.

In the end though it all comes down to how you dress for the weather. Most homes are well suited for the northern temperatures so you only really have to concern yourself with how you dress outside more than anything else. You’ll encounter a thousand different tidbits of advice across the Net about how to dress for the cold up here. It’s all based on personal preferences, protection from the elements and duration outside. While it is wise to have gear for extreme weather conditions the truth is you really don’t have to dress much different than you would down south most of the time. If you’re not a fan of the cold in general (a) you should live here and (b) your personal arrangement of clothes will more than likely be increased.

To understand Iqaluit weather you have to be aware of two things:

  • It’s cold. Dry or humid, cold is cold nonetheless
  • Wind means EVERYTHING.

For me, I’m a person who has always preferred being cooler than warmer. I find it easier to make myself warm in cold conditions than it is to cool down with oppressive heat. The fact that I’m a big dude probably plays a big factor in that. I’m built like a young polar bear so it just figures that I’d be more acclimated to the north. The following gear guide is just a reference for how I dress any given day in this city. You’ll notice that wind conditions affect what I wear tremendously. I base my gear selections on the higher side of the numbers listed. People have different body types and tolerances for cold so keep that in mind as well. You also gain a bit of conditioning once you’ve been here for over a year. You’ll know it when you head down south and normally nice weather (like 20c) is unbearably warm for you. Anyway I hope it provides a better understanding of what to expect should you choose to come up here.

The Go To (Basic)-5°c to -14°c (no wind)
Description: Gorgeous day. Typically near the end of winter and end of Sall. Sall is what I call summer here. We really don’t get a hot summer (although as we slip further into a Maritime Climate that can change). I find them to be on the cool side of nice so we have a mix of summer and fall – Sall. Cold enough for no bugs but warm enough to frolic without much layering. The lower end of the spectrum you can wear far less. I can recall being out in just a t-shirt, football jersey and jeans on -5°c days last year. Of course as you get into the double digits I employ a bit more clothing.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis, wool or thick cotton sweat socks, t-shirt (long or short), spring jacket. Ball cap or beanie (optional), Runners or hiking boots


The Go To (Extended)-5°c to -14°c (light winds w/wind chill of -19°c or so)
Description: Still a nice day but the winds make the cold a bit more noticeable. It also affects your amount of time outside. For day long excursions you will want to dress in more layers so you can add or remove as your activity level goes up and down. If you’re just doing basic treks then it’s fine to dress lighter.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis, wool or thick cotton sweat socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood, spring or fall jacket, beanie, insulated gloves (optional), hiking or rain boots


The Go To (Deluxe)-15°c to -23°c (no wind)
Description: Very similar to the weather above but the lack of wind makes it very tolerable to be out for much longer. The air is crisp but doesn’t bite and you can feel a tingle in your thighs if you don’t have light pants on and are out for a long time. However if you layer too much you can certainly start overheating with minimal activity. You encounter days like this typically in October, November, early December and the tail end of winter.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis, wool or thick cotton sweat socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood or fleece liner, fall jacket, beanie, insulated gloves, winter boots


The Light Rogue (Basic)-15°c to -23°c (medium winds w/wind chill of -30°c or so)
Description: A lot days in Iqaluit are like this during early and late winter. The wind chill is very noticeable. This is where gentlemen start experiencing Santa beards and moustachsicles and ladies can cut through glass (giggidy). You will have the uncontrollable runny nose no matter what you wear. Your length of time outside dictates how you should layer. Again you do run the possibility of overheating if you layer too much.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis (Thermal underwear underneath optional), wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood or fleece liner, winter jacket, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf (optional depending on blowing snow conditions), insulated winter boots


The Light Rogue (Extended)-24°c to -30°c (light or no winds)
Description: It’s cold but nice. Perfect example of the difference between dry and humid cold. Equivalent (in my opinion) of about -15° or so in the south. If the sun is out it’s gorgeous to just go trooping around or hop on a skidoo. Bear in mind that if you’re snowmobiling treat your wardrobe as if you’re dealing with a serious wind chill because going at moderate to high speeds will generate bitter conditions for exposed skin.

Selected Gear: Jeans or thick cotton Khakis (w/thermal underwear underneath optional) or snow pants, wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), sweat shirt w/hood or fleece liner (optional if wearing just a parka), winter jacket or light parka, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf (optional depending on blowing snow conditions), insulated winter boots


The Bear (Basic)-24°c to -30°c (medium to strong winds w/wind chill of -45°c or so)
Description: Okay. Here’s where you start respecting and fearing the cold. Once the wind kicks in at these base temperatures it totally changes the playful wardrobe choices. Now your start bundling to prevent as much wind from touching your skin as possible without turning yourself into an oven. Doesn’t matter if you’re making short treks or long, time to start dressing for the north.

Selected Gear: Snow pants (w/thermal underwear underneath optional), wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), fleece liner (optional if wearing just a light parka), light or heavy parka, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf, mask or balaclava, temperature rated insulated winter boots, goggles (optional)


The Bear (Basic)-30°c and higher (light winds w/wind chill of about -40°c or so)
Description: Once it’s past -30°c in base temperature it’s generally accompanied by SOME kind of wind. Even the slightest winds change the dynamics of the base so much. Not much change in what you should be wearing.

Selected Gear: Snow pants (w/thermal underwear underneath optional), wool socks, t-shirt (long or short), fleece liner (optional if wearing just a light parka), light or heavy parka, beanie, insulated gloves, scarf, mask or balaclava, temperature rated insulated winter boots, goggles (optional)


The Bear (Ho-Lee-Shit)-30°c and higher (strong winds w/wind chill of holy shit)
Description: No. Seriously. No. Unless you’re stuck outside already there’s no reason you should be on foot for any long periods of time in weather like this. When the wind chill is so cold that Fahrenheit and Celsius don’t matter anymore it’s brutal. People can and have died in weather like this so don’t play around with fate too much. If you have to go out, dress as if you might get lost. Better safe than sorry. These are very real temperature you might encounter on a skidoo so be very prepared.

Selected Gear: Snow pants w/thermal underwear underneath, wool socks (possibly doubled based on footwear), t-shirt (long or short), fleece liner, heavy parka, beanie, polar mitts, scarf, mask or balaclava, temperature rated insulated winter boots, goggles.


The moral of this post is, yes buying artic clothing and gear is highly advisable but no you probably won’t have to use it ALL the time. As you adapt up here you will develop your own style of layering. To each his (or her) own.

It’s hilarious waking down the street on those brutally cold and windy days and not recognizing your closest friends. Everyone is super bundled and looks the same. We’re all united in the freezing cold. I’m sure it’s a neat analogy on life up here if I chose to dig deeper into it.

Maybe another post…

The Mega Indoor Tailgate Super Bowl Party of Awesomeness & Excellence – A New Iqaluit Tradition & a Sad Farewell

In February of 2011 Suzanne and I decided to host a small get-together for the Super Bowl. We were only a 3 short months into our extraordinary stay here but wanted to do something for our amazing new friends that welcomed us to this city with open arms. I was never the party guru type of guy down south. I was always better at attending parties rather than hosting. I have a passion for food and American football though. The fact that I’m living in the Land of the Puck made the concept of a “Super Bowl” party unrealistic… or so I thought. Nevertheless we executed it and had a pretty sweet time – even though the majority of the people in attendance didn’t know or care about the game.

Super Bowl 2011The positive feedback we received inspired us to “kick it up a notch” and do it again the following year. As fate would have it my team was on a collision course with the Super Bowl so it was imperative that we make the party much more than a gathering. We needed to make it an event. And an event it was. It reminded me of the party thrown in Weird Science. Standing room only in our tiny one bedroom apartment but that didn’t stop people from having a good time. People feasted, imbibed in the sprits and delighted in conversation as the Super Bowl played out. To my amazement, people were actually watching and following the game at some point. Although I didn’t get to see much of the actual game (being locked in the kitchen belting out food deliciousness) it was still a grand experience. As a long time die hard New York Giants fan having the opportunity to celebrate a victory amongst my friends (and stick it to the Patriots fans in the house) was the bee’s knees.

Super Bowl 2012That was where the legend was born. In the days and weeks that followed we started to hear the chatter about the party. People were flabbergasted by the food. Many were scorned from having not been invited after hearing the rumors. Humbling to say the least. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect it to evolve as much it did in such a short amount of time. A simple love for food and football spawned into a cult phenomenon of sorts. We’re not the kind of people who rest on their laurels so; of course, we had to take the 3rd annual party to yet another level.

It took months of planning and many dollars to pull off but we somehow managed to top what we did last year. How on Earth we managed to fit about 30 people in our place is a mystery that will baffle physicists all over the world. The 3rd Annual Mega Indoor Tailgate Super Bowl Party of Awesomeness & Excellence featured a super fantabulous food preparation crew (aptly dubbed The Minions) and a spread that literally KO’d every single person. My patented Super Bowl chili was served in large Tim Horton’s coffee cups to further enhance the “tailgate” theme. It marked the first time in my history of making it that there were no leftovers. Absolutely obliterated. Course there were way more people than ever so I guess I’m just gonna have to get a bigger pot. Pulled pork, Muskox sliders, mini tacos, one bite tater skins, mac ‘n cheese, and mozzarella sticks went over well. Pizza puffs, spring rolls and hors d’oeuvres didn’t even get cooked. As always though the deep fried pickles and Jalapeño popper dip drew rave reviews. Receiving praise from our peers about the food makes all the hard work that goes into it that much sweeter.

Super Bowl 2013 #1Super Bowl 2013 #2Speaking of hard work, that brings me to the sobering portion of the festivities. There is a young lady who has gone above and beyond when it comes to not only helping out come party time, but anytime in general. She was the first face we saw when we landed – having never even met before – and has been a mainstay in our lives since. She showed us the ropes on how to live up here. Everyone we know now can be traced back to her directly. She was the guiding light to helping Suzanne get her foot in the door of her trained profession. She has house sat for us on a moment’s notice and even rescued our kitties from a possible fire. Her selfless and unwavering friendship has been an inspiration. It motivates me to be a better friend to my peeps. As if that weren’t enough, she’s also super villain smart and a champion level geek. Everything you could possibly want in a friend.

Sadly this was her last Super Bowl party with us. Soon she will follow the mass exodus of long timers that are leaving the city of Iqaluit. I’m torn by it. Part of me is mourning the loss of a very dear friend but on the flip side I’m ecstatic that she is finally free and gets to be with her beloved husband that she has so rarely been able to be with for the past 5 years. I know deep down it really isn’t “losing a friend”. She’s that special breed of friend that sticks with you for life. It’s just sobering to know that seat at the table will be empty. I still hold out hope that if there is a 4th Annual Mega Indoor Tailgate Super Bowl Party of Awesomeness & Excellence that she and her hubby will be there, forever lighting up the party with her smile.

Here’s to you Missy. You’re a remarkable person and an even better friend. I’m sure I can speak for the both of us when I say we’re very privileged to have you in our lives.

Missy hard at work

To infinity and beyond!

Third Christmas in Iqaluit

Christmas in Iqaluit is a pretty unique experience. I’ve celebrated Christmas with family and friends in vastly different ways. From time honored family gatherings on Christmas Eve that spilled over onto Christmas day to whirlwind dinner feasts at friends’ homes. Each experience different. Each one memorable.

Two Christmas’ ago we had the pleasure of adding even more new memories to our mental rolodex. To all you young bucks out there a rolodex was a manual device for storing names, addresses and phone numbers. Yeah we didn’t have a microchip to do all the thinking for us back in the days. If you liked someone you had to actually remember their info and write that shit down. Bah… kids these days.

Anyway, back to my old man recollection…

Suzanne and I were introduced to an entirely new and utterly foreign concept of friendship. It was rough going at the start of our tour of duty here. Our prescribed housing had fallen through while we were heading up and we’d be trapped in a hotel for over a month with two, young fur monsters and a good portion of our belongings (that we couldn’t use). 7 days before Christmas we managed to get a grossly overpriced apartment to stay in temporarily. It was our first Christmas here and we hardly knew anyone. The stress of our housing situation coupled with the awe of being in a totally new environment made us feel quite isolated and alone. A very sweet couple invited us over to her place for Christmas dinner. It was a shock to us. We had only known them for less than a month and yet they opened their open to us. There we feasted for hours, talked for even longer, played games, drank the finest alcohol and were introduced to a core group of individuals who today are our closest friends up here today. It was the kind of welcoming community experience you see in sappy made-for-TV holiday movies and made a lasting impression on the both of us.

We were never really the super social types back in the K-dub. We weren’t douches mind you. We had a very small but tight network of friends that we were very dedicated to but we never really went out of our way to welcome new ones into the fold. After that first Christmas in Iqaluit it opened our eyes to the fact that not everyone is “out to get you”. There are legitimately good natured people out there who genuinely care for other people’s well being. People who don’t care about creed, color or sexual preference. People who can just treat people like people. It was a hard concept to swallow at first but after weeks, months and now years of unwavering friendship I am a true believer.

Trust me. I’m not saying Iqaluit is some sort of Utopia. There are bad apples, nutbars and assclowns just like anywhere else in the world. It is a true community though no matter what. A place where people band together during tragedy and help their fellow residents. A place where people go that extra mile to help out friends in need. A place where people will get together and party for the silliest reasons. A place where a cynical African American/Puerto Rican/Italian artist from New York and his sarcastic Polish/German Canadian geographer wife can hang out with a Japanese/Brazilian professional photographer and his Indian R&B singing architect girlfriend on Christmas Eve and sip on egg nog loaded with a generous portion of maple whiskey chilled with ice cubes chiseled from an iceberg while feasting on a traditional Indian style meal.

Only in Iqaluit folks.

Thank you to everyone who has made this the most depressing, stressful, enlightening, mind blowing, unforgettable, humbling, exciting, motivational, joyous, and most of all remarkable time of my life.

Happy Holidays people!

Happy End of the World / Pre-Christmas with a side order of Toga Party 2012!

Happy End of the World / Pre-Christmas with a side order of Toga Party 2012!

Iqaluit – A Year later

Didn’t think I’d have to write this post so soon. I guess that adage about time flying comes into play here. It’s not all fun and games though. We’ve had our fair share of stressful moments but as a whole I rate the experience thus far a strong B.

I feel really fortunate for living here and getting an opportunity every Canadian person should experience. This place does have its drawbacks like any city but when you factor in all of the components it’s one of the most intriguing, stimulating and interactive places I’ve ever lived – and this is coming from a guy who spent 20+ years in NYC. What more can I say about our Year One Anniversary other than yet another list of random observations I’ve made over the past year. Whether you live here, thinking about coming here or want to live vicariously through us, this is for you:

  • The people I’ve befriended up here are enough to keep me in this city for as long as humanly possible. I’ve never met such welcoming individuals in my life. I’ve said it time and time again, you definitely get a feel for a real community here. People really do go above and beyond the call of duty and in turn the infectious reaction is to do the same. Pay it forward means something here.
  • There’s a huge Twitter and Facebook presence up here with lots of useful group pages. Great way to stay in the know about matters up here and abroad.
  • I never expected to see so many cars. Even in the short time I’ve been there the population of cars has grown quite a bit. It’s something you don’t really think about when you look at this place from abroad and hear about our handful of paved roads but you have to remember this city is deceptively big and there are a lot of hills. Not everyone wants to shell out $6 per cab ride to get from place to place all the time. The Cavalier Crusher will be making its northern journey next sealift.
  • I miss many things from the south: family, friends, pop in a bottle, trees, real high-speed internet, paved streets, fresh fruit, fresh candy, the Bulk Barn, LCBO, our garden, normal winds (not this demonic gale force sustained crap up here)…
  • There are so many musically gifted people around here. It’s as though every other person I know can sing, play an instrument or is in a band of some sort. This city is a hotbed for undiscovered musical talent. I’ve probably seen more concerts and live performances than I did for the past decade down south. Truly amazing.
  • I’ve completed an entire year without completely wiping out and putting my well padded ass on the ground. Sure I tried to headbutt my apartment building and bloodied myself but I never hit the turf so my record is intact. Here’s to the next 365.
  • Figures I’d have to come to the arctic to find some gamers. No not video gamers. I’m talking old school pen & dice. I came out of the dungeon and people are noticing. Sure it’s super geeky but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • There is absolutely no time to blog – for us at least. You could see it for yourself as we became more and more integrated into community activities and volunteering, blog posts became a rare sight. There is just so much to do up here it’s ridiculous. If you’re a person who wants to keep busy you’ll keep busy. Even you’re a person who doesn’t want to be involved in everything you’ll still have a full calendar. After a year of being pretty much all over the place I’ve learned that one has to pace oneself. It’s real easy to get swept up in the euphoria of being a volunteer, making friends and helping the community but trust me when I say I catches up to you.
  • Operation Outbreak is coming along well. We’ve successfully infected several households with dominoes gameplay and it is rapidly becoming a pastime here to the point where people own their own sets now. Course we’ve been infected in return by new games as well. Beware family and friends of the south.
  • I’ve been shocked by how many people contact us for advice. Regular Joes and Janes like us who find our blog, read our stories and want to know some more information about the city, its people and how things work up here. It’s quite flattering that people would ask a guy who hasn’t even explored the whole area yet for advice but I’m willing to share what I do know. It’s like I said at the top of the post this is a place all people should get a chance to experience at least once in their lives and I’m more than happy to help bring people in. I’m contemplating adding a business resource index to this blog. I found it hard to know what’s available when we first got here so I figure it may be a great tool for others looking to invest some time here. How and when that actually gets done remains to be seen. I’m on Northern Time now folks. ;p

I could prattle on and on with more tidbits but duty calls. I have to work the desk at Atii Fitness soon so once again, life has intruded upon my coveted blogging time.

Thank you people of Iqaluit for your warmth, generosity and patience in accepting us into the community. Now that we’re official I suppose that makes us Iqalummiut as well.

We are hellbent to get a Zombie Walk going in Iqaluit and Horror Movie Nights at some point in the near future so you may soon regret welcoming us into your arms so willingly. >:)

Love, peace and hair grease folks!

The IHS & The Aviva Community Fund

Yes this is shameless promotion but who cares when it’s a good cause involved. The Iqaluit Humane Society has a chance to win a nice chunk of money to not only help re-open its doors but get some seed funds to construct a new facility. All you have to do is vote. Just look at the poster(s) and follow the instructions.

Be a part of history.

Thanks and Happy Voting!

Oh the Legion…

This past Friday I had the luxury of being invited for “a night out at the Legion”. For those who live under a rock or just don’t know what “the Legion” is it refers to The Royal Canadian Legion. Without going into too much detail it’s basically a members-only social club (at least up here it’s like that). The Legion in Iqaluit holds a pugnacious reputation for being the spot to go to party on Friday & Saturday night. It’s one of the few places in town where there’s late night drinking and dancing so it tends to attract people from all walks of life looking to have a good time.

Finally after 7+ months living here Suzanne and I were invited to break our Legion cherries. A friend of ours requested our presence at her birthday night of dancing and we were stoked to finally be heading to the city’s most happening night spot. I heard all kinds of stories both positive and negative about the place. Nothing could have really prepared me for the lessons and revelations I came to in just one night:

  • The Quiet Room really isn’t quiet. Yes. The building is divided into two sections. A larger area with many seats, a dance floor and DJ booth and a smaller closed off area with a large tv, bar and about a dozen tables. The thing is, the Quiet Room plays live music so when you’re sitting right under the speakers it’s not so quiet. However compared to the booty bumping bass on the other side I suppose quiet is a relative term.
  • Dance music still sucks. Last time I went club hopping was with Jesus and some of the Apostles. Okay so it wasn’t that long ago but I recall it was at Webster Hall in NYC and I was about 16 or 17 at the time. If any of you know how old I actually am you’ll know my first statement isn’t too far from the truth. Anyway, it amuses me how dance music really hasn’t changed. Back then you had a generic megabass repetitive beat with some crappy vocals on top of it to try and dress it up as a real song. Nowadays its repetative bassy beats with crappy synthed out voices on top of it. The Whippersnappers tell me it’s cool but we all know it’s crap. No one listens to dance music for the vocals or lyrics. They just want to dance provocatively to heart pumping rhythms. Nevertheless, with enough alcohol even I found myself on the dance floor a couple of time. Thank goodness there’s no flash photography allowed in there.
  • Eating a candy off a chick’s bum isn’t a bad thing. I tweeted that when I got in. That really happened. In full view of my beloved wife. In fact she paid for it and told me to do it. Before anyone gets the wrong idea there wasn’t anything dubious or erotic involved. There was a bachelorette partying going on that night. The pretty bride-to-be was clad in a very young t-shirt adorned with candies, front and back. She and her bridesmaids floated from table to table inviting willing participants to pluck candies off with their mouths for a small donation to the wedding fund. By the time she reached us Suzanne already had the money out. Being the gracious wife she is and knowing how much of a pig-dog I am she set me loose on the candies. The one I went for though was located in the no man’s land near the small of the back and upper …uhm.. gluteus area. I didn’t realize how affixed the candy was and didn’t manage to pull it off on my first attempt. I didn’t want to leave the job undone so I was forced to go in again and complete the task. I gained no amusement from this endeavor. Seriously. *snicker*
  • There’s no escape. It never ceases to amaze me how no matter where you go, you always run into the same people. It makes me giggle when you see someone throughout the course of the day and not have it planned that way. It adds a whole new wrinkle to the group dynamic. You can arrive at a place with a certain set of people, hang out with another set, merge sets later on and end up closing the night out with people you didn’t even arrive with. Got to love Iqaluit.