So, as we walked to Northmart a bunch of weeks ago, I noticed this phenomenon is not limited to inner cities. I finally remembered to bring my camera on the walk there today…
Yup…even in Iqaluit…
Yeah. There hasn’t been a post here in a while. We’re well aware of that. Truth be told it’s been an unholy combination of not much to report with a dash of not feeling like writing anything. I’m not a traditional blogger by any stretch of the imagination. I’m an angry blogger. My most lucid work comes as a result of mounds of stress. When we were trapped in a studio apartment at the Capitol Suites with no set destination slated at the end of our tenure – I wrote a lot. When we finally locked down a temporary place but had to move all the stuff we had on hand, plus the Wonder Twins and get prepared for the arrival of the rest of our belongings – I wrote a lot. However, as we’ve settled in and are getting quite familiar with our surroundings, the pace up here and getting used to the general mellow vibe of northern living we’ve grown increasingly complacent.
That’s not so much of a bad thing per say. It’s bad for the people who are waiting to hear fascinating updates on here. For that we apologize. It’s far more relaxing than I could have ever anticipated and while I can’t say it’s not stressful up here, it’s just a different type of stress. So different, in fact, that I haven’t had the proverbial chip on my shoulder for quite a while. It’s usually that chip that speaks to me and prompts me to write here or on my own blog. Without him I struggle in justifying what is “post worthy”. Who wants to hear about everyday dribblings from a web designer in the arctic? It sounds like a bad CBC special.
In any case, I’ll fill you in on some tidbits to keep you up to date…
In such a small township it’s almost impossible for me to fly under the radar like I normally do. Case in point, I was heading to the Post Office a few weeks back during one of our cold snaps. It was about -31c or so without the wind chill. Maybe -40c with. Basically it was eyeball freezing cold. Yes. I said eyeball freezing. If you walk into a steady breeze for a while on a day like that you can literally feel you eyeballs start locking in place. Anyways, as I get to the steps I’m intercepted by the local CBC reporter. I can’t remember her name for the life of me. I was kind of stymied having a camera pointing at me for the first time ever not to mention the fact that I suck at remembering names anyway. She kindly asked me if I’d like to announce the local weather. I stared blankly at her through my perscription sunglasses and sheepishly blurted out “Uhh.. okay. What do I do?”
She told me that all I had to do is say my name, where I was and “Here’s your local weather”.
I was a deer caught in the headlights. I held the mic and stared through the cameraman waiting for his signal. When he gave me the green light I quickly snapped back into reality and rattled out “Hi. I’m Ian Etheridge and I’m here in Iqaluit… and it’s really cold! Here’s your local weather.” With a point of my finger I shot it back to the studio… or at least that was what I was envisioning in my mind. The cameraman snickered and told me it was perfect. They both thanked me for my participation and let me be on my way. I have no idea if I made it on TV or not. I told Suzanne about my afternoon experience and we tried to catch the local news but finding that in Bell’s array of non-sensical programming is near impossible. We tried to catch it online (since they archive all their daily news shows) but alas, we were again thwarted by the Internot. If you’re interested in trying to find me go to the CBC News North website and try checking out their archived local news from January (possibly the 18th but I can’t recall).
Suzanne and I decided to put our selves out there by volunteering at the shelter. I don’t know if you can quite call it volunteering in the traditional sense since neither of us are doing any kind of animal handling but we are volunteering our services to help them on the communications, advertising and marketing end. Sub-par communications is the greatest adversary of virtually every business and/or government branch up here. It’s even more rampant in organizations that run off volunteers who do what they do out of the kindness of their hearts. When Suzanne first told me that she’d been in contact with some of the people who run the shelter I was stoked. It’s no secret that I love animals – even more so than people at times – so anything I could do to help I was in for. That comes in the form of re-inventing the shelter’s image and making it more of a prominent visual figure in the community. That’s where my web design skills come in handy. I’m in the process of reconstructing their website and enhancing the way volunteers communicate with one another. It’ll be one tool of many to help put the IHS back on the map. We’re even going to establish a Facebook presence to keep people up to date with local events and fundraisers. Social media and net presence will help the IHS reach the untapped resources of the net community. It’s not an easy task to undertake, especially pro bono. I’ve got pay-projects already on the go so there’s no set time-table for when everything will be completed but we are making headway. The only downside to all of this is that I run on New York time and everyone up here runs on Iqaluit time so things only get done as fast as I’m given information. Nevertheless keep checking back every so often. You never know what you might find.
Last Wednesday Missy decided to treat Suzanne and I to a time-honored tradition here in Iqaluit – Wednesday Wing night at the Storehouse. I’d heard much about it in the couple of months we’ve been here but haven’t had an opportunity to check it out till now. Wing Night is a raucous event. Not because the wings are so spectacular, but because the prices are so good – even for up here. 10 wings for $5. That’s a deal you can’t even find down south without digging. Now you match those prices up with the fact that it’s WEDNESDAY Wing Night (meaning Wednesday is the only time you’re gonna get some good priced wings in town) you have the makings of a lineup that rivals that of one to the bathroom at halftime of a hockey playoff game.
Since The Miss is our go-to Queen of All Things Iqaluit she got us there early so we wouldn’t have to be waiting in line for the entire night. While standing there conversing amongst ourselves, I hear a voice faintly ask one of us something. It sounded like Are you from New York?. I looked down at my chest and realized I had on my circa 1950 old school New York Giants sweatshirt so I looked around and saw where the question had come from. A parka clad gentlemen in front of us smiled and asked the question again, to which I replied “Yup… well me at least.”
He quickly retorted with a “Me too”.
Go figure. I find a fellow New Yorker way the hell up here in the arctic. Two New Yorkers walk into a bar in Iqaluit. Sounds like the start of an awful joke, eh? We immediately welcomed him into our group as we marched in with the second wing night wave of people. All of us ended up hanging out by the fireplace, scarfing down wings and trading stories for a few hours. Brad is an awesome dude and I promised him I’d post about the utterly random encounter. What I didn’t tell him was that I was going to shamelessly promote his business as well. He and his wife run a Wedding and Event Photography business called Gold Sky Media LLC. It’s based in New York (obviously) and they do really awesome work. I highly recommend you check out their site and take a gander at some of their work.
It ended up being a really enjoyable night full of surprises and firsts. It’s moments like that you can’t make up and end up talking about for the rest of your life. Not to mention the fact that I got to spend the night with Angelina Jolie.
But that’s another story… ;p
You hear about them in virtually any northern blog but you really can’t comprehend it until you actually see one (or a bloody flock of them). I remember when we first touched down and were loading our boxes onto the flatbed of the truck, this large vulture-like creature swooped down and buzzed me. It didn’t come that close to me at all but it sounded like it did because I could hear its wings flap as it went by. I thought to myself “WTF? I didn’t know hawks were up here”.
You see, being the zoologically challenged and environmentally isolated person I am, the only experience I had with any kind of large birds came in the form of hawks that fly high overhead whenever we went to parks or wherever. They were often too far to see distinctly but based on their altitude you could assume they had some size because of their visibility. So, having been air-raided by this avian I grew concerned for a moment. I wondered if being dive bombed by large predatory birds was a common thing up here. That put no sense of ease in my heart. Lo and behold, Mark snickered and told me that it was “just a raven”.
Just a raven.
There is no just about these mutants. They’re huge. They’re intimidating and they make weird un-birdlike sounds. I’ve heard them vocalize everything from beeps and honks to pseudo-barks and screeches. The smallest one I’ve seen is about the size of our largest cat (and he’s pushing 18 or 19 lbs) and the largest looked like a terradactyl. Okay… so that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the sucker was still huge. When they’re gathered together having their bird conferences, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Heck about a month back I was strolling along the outskirts of the airport taking pictures, when I came across a gully full of them. There had to have been about a dozen or so hanging out there drinking alcohol and throwing up gang signs with their wings. I’m pretty certain one of them said something derogatory towards me. I know when it’s opportune to avoid potentially dangerous situations so I tactfully crossed over to the other side of the road and continued on my way.
Let’s just say that the ravens of the North are no joke. While I can’t confirm whether they’re truly aggressive or not, I’m not willing to gamble on engaging a flock of them on my own. To anyone thinking about coming up here there’s nothing to fear about them though. There’s an unwritten law that states “you stay out of their way, they’ll stay out of yours”.
Heh… kinda reminds of New York.
As I enter day 3 of being here, I’ve learned quite a bit in that short span of time. Mark and Milissa have been awesome guides to understanding the ins and outs of how this city and its people flow. I’ve always been a big city person. Not by choice but by circumstance. Heck, the housing projects I grew up in even had a larger population than this (about 10,000 in a six block area). That doesn’t mean I don’t welcome the small town way of living. My ability to adapt to my surroundings is my greatest asset. I’m not Survivorman by any stretch of the imagination so roughing it on the frozen tundra isn’t going to be in my foreseeable future, but contrary to what I (and many others who are ill informed) imagined this place to be it’s really not that big of a learning curve. Here are some of the things I’ve picked up so far:
I’ve probably forgotten a slew of things to add but Lord knows I got time to add them in the future. We’ll probably be taking a foot tour of the city this weekend so be prepared for another onslaught of images. Till next time.