Saturday, October 31, 2009

Inuvik Post

My inbox has been flooded recently with people asking me about Northern etiquette. I don't think I've been here long enough to know all the ins and outs of proper social decorum but I have learned a few things. For starters, it's often mandatory to remove your shoes when entering a building. My place of work requires students and staff to leave outdoor footwear in the lobby. Yesterday I went to the health clinic for the H1N1 vaccination and the same rule applied. As such, it's not uncommon to see people walking around with bare feet or to spy a lone toe sticking out of a sock. This custom makes sense as peoples' shoes often leave an unsightly slurry regardless of the time of year. However, I don't think I'll ever get used to, or enjoy, walking around in my socks when I would normally be wearing shoes.

Some recent inexcusable excuses:
- hungover
- sister going into delivery (this happened on Monday, the student missed the rest of the week)
- student took son to get H1N1 shot, doctor told student she had to stay home because she could be a carrier

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Easy E don't come for free

Dear Sun,

I know we've both been really busy lately but I feel like we're seeing less and less of each other. I won't argue that we've had our share of ups and downs (like that time you burnt my ear, or the time, when I was younger, that I suggested we should send you all of our garbage) but I know that we have a good thing going and that our past only makes us stronger. I'm committed to doing whatever I can to see more of you; I hope you feel the same.

Yours faithfully,
Jesse V.

Sunrise: 10:20am
Sunset: 7:00pm

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I leave town for one week and:
  • I lose three students (1 was removed from my class list because she stopped showing up after the first week, another was kicked out of my morning class because she never attends (she is still in her afternoon classes (for now)), and another decided she's moving to the capital city)
  • my English class now has 6 students (I started with 10)
  • no less than 85 work e-mails were sent to me (only three of them were actually for me(see 1st point))
  • the town seems to have run out of milk. Conclusion - the Dempster highway is closed
  • the milk I had bought, and froze, for this occasion has turned an unsightly and somewhat unpleasant yellow colour. Under normal circumstances I would 'forget' about the milk in the freezer but now it's the last bastion of hope for maintaining my morning routine
  • the fruit section of the supermarket could be used in film about the early days of exploration; the ones where sailors try to stave off scurvy by preserving fruits for as long as possible. The produce I saw today would work well for the tail end of a long journey
  • My place of employment had an open house. I was told it was happening in early November
  • My computer at work looked as though it 'threw up' all of the documents I had put into specific folders. The documents were splattered all over the desktop.
  • (the above photograph is a garbage can in Yellowknife)
ps - I had an awesome week with Capital M

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I still apologize

I am truly grateful that M chose to brave the cold and come visit me in Yellowknife this week. Today we explored Old Town and walked up to the the top of "Pilot's Point." Unfortunately, we were at a double disadvantage with it being a statutory holiday and well past the summer tourism season. Pretty much every store and coffee shop was closed (some for the next month) and we weren't left with much to do but come back to our hotel after taking in the quiet sights of Old Town. (The weather was also cold enough to limit unnecessary outdoor exposure).
Yellowknife seems like a nice enough city. We discovered they have a unique drinking law on Sundays that states your food bill has to exceed your drink bill by $1.99. We were both doubtful that the rule was being enforced on the diners at a table next to us last night (there may be a few too many prepositions in that sentence).
The above picture comes from the outside of a place called 'Bullock's Bistro.'

Sunday, October 11, 2009

every thing's the same

Success! I am in Yellowknife and so is Capital M. It's funny how much can change in a short two hour flight: Buildings aren't supported by stilts, the absence of utilidors, food prices that seem entirely reasonable, and an age demographic that doesn't seem to be comprised mainly of older middle aged people. All in all, it's really nice to be out of Inuvik and even better to be back with M.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

On the Sly

My blog posts are coming a little more infrequently as my days rarely warrant writing about. I spend a large part of my day at school and the rest of it at home. Tuesday evenings are the exception - I'm doing a class by teleconference. If anyone out there is thinking of doing something similar I would advise you not to. There is something about silent reading on the phone (with other people that are also silently reading) that seems utterly ridiculous. It doesn't help that it's an education class with a very strong emphasis on reflection.
On the days where I make it to the post office I am greeted by numerous posters saying "Puppies, free to good home" or "Dorothy needs a forever home" (Dorothy is a really cute found puppy). I steel my resolve before looking at the wall but I think it crumbles a little bit every time. It's probably a good thing I don't make it there every day. (I could give Dorothy a good home. Surely she would get a long with two cats, and vice versa. Not only that, I'd be doing a service to the town of Inuvik, one less stray dog - in fact it's something any good citizen should do).
The last thing I wanted to mention was a small time scam that may have claimed $10.00 of my hard earned dollars. A few weeks ago some girls came by the school to raise money for the Terry Fox run. I pledged $10.00 and when the girl came back I only had a $20.00 and she had no change (or so she said). Class was starting soon so I told the girl that I was counting on her to be a good person and change my pledge to twenty dollars. I gave her the money and thought nothing more of it until I received this e-mail at work:

Two high school girls were here a few weeks ago fund-raising for the Terry Fox run. My wife and I both donated cash and filled out the form - I on the last line of the actual form and my wife on a form they had drawn up themselves, due to the actual form being full. After they left we both questioned whether it was legitimate and my wife followed up by calling the school. It turned out the girls had not turned in any cash and denied receiving any and they did not turn in the form they had drawn up, just the actual form, for which they said they had only received cheques which they said they had turned in. The school may now be turning it over to the RCMP. (End of e-mail)

I think we can all agree that even Bernie Madoff would be proud of their enterprising nature.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

forever feels about right

Though everything has long since frozen over, I thought I'd mention the town's lack of drainage systems. Rain water and melted snow pool in depressions along the road and either evaporate or freeze over. This creates watery obstacles for those walking down the town's main street. This picture may not show it clearly but a large part of the sidewalk is totally swamped and pedestrians have to veer into the road to avoid getting wet feet. Fortunately, there isn't much traffic so it doesn't create any hardship for an able bodied person. The same cannot be said for those who have mobility issues.
Also, it seems that businesses and the town do not shovel snow or salt side walks. This has resulted in some amazingly slippery walking conditions.
On a totally unrelated note, there is a chance that I may be able to see Capital M next week. If all goes well I'll be attending a conference in Yellowknife. A chance to see the capital city sounded exciting, same with attending my first conference. This has now been totally eclipsed by the prospect of meeting up M. My hopes are already high so I hope I get the go ahead.

Friday, October 02, 2009


I've been fairly busy this week so I contracted Josie C. to write a review of Lev Grossmans The Magicians. Some of you may be familiar with the reviewer's work, as seen in the little known,'Underfunded Publications.'

The Magicians by Lev Grossman- Review
by Josie C. Staff Writer for 'Underfunded Publications'

It wasn't so long ago that J.K. Rowling's avid fans could mitigate their desire to find out what happened to 'the boy who lived' by knowing that in a year's time an answer would be provided. Since the series ended there has been a vacuum in the world of wizardry. Almost. Lev Grossman has stepped up with his own coming of age story centering on a young man who, like Harry Potter, gains acceptance to a school of magic. However, that's where the comparisons end. Grossman makes a few references to Hogwarts in his novel but the story is entirely his own; it's darker and tackles tougher issues than found in Rowlings'. His protagonist, Quentin Coldwater, is described as "ridiculously brilliant" but this one of the story's shortcomings. At no point do his actions or thoughts set him apart from the rest of society. This doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the story but some of the novel's conflicts would probably have been handled differently by someone with an almost unrivaled intellect.
The story itself moves along at a brisk pace and some readers may find it difficult to stop reading parts of the novel. Grossman also isn't afraid to embroil his protagonist in messy situations, which provide another layer of conflict beyond Coldwater's internal struggle to find happiness and his place in the world.
Though there are a few things that seemed out of place, in particular some of Coldwater's dialogue during an intense fight, the story is always enjoyable. Anyone looking for a little magic to brighten their day may find Grossman's novel does the trick.

Thanks Josie. And now to wrap up this post, this week's Inexcusable excuses:
-back hurts, but will be better by ten