Saturday, December 19, 2009

before and after

While saying my goodbyes a co-worker told me there was some concern as to whether or not I was returning after the Christmas break. This was mostly meant as a joke because she went on to say that the concern was due to my classroom being so clean. I could have retorted with something witty (which I still can't think of), instead I just said "to be continued, followed by an ellipses."
Later, when the plane I was on broke through the clouds and I saw the sun for the first time in weeks, there was silent yet audible emotion from every one of the other passengers. I'm sure that if Crayloa made a crayon for 'joy' its colour would be the sun.
This morning I woke up in another world. One with two cats and a Capital M. Though I have had a really positive experience up North it is wonderful to be home.

1st picture - Inuvik - Igloo church taken around 4:00pm
2nd picture - Toronto, Lake Ontario - taken around 8:30am

Monday, December 14, 2009

10 simple rules for showering in Inuvik

Following these simple rules will result in a stress free shower:
1. Close the bathroom door (if not closed the smoke detector will go off)
2. Fill your mind with peaceful thoughts
3. Check shower head position - make sure it is up and to the side
4. Turn on taps - sometimes the pressure is so great it will bypass tub faucet and come out shower head (for this reason you'll be thankful for #3)
5. Water often needs to run for awhile to get rid of excess sediment build up (you can use this time to floss teeth, read National Geographic) *Note, water shown above is not as brown as in real life
6. Reposition shower head and shower. Note that water temperature fluctuations are frequent and severe. Be prepared for the worst, this may mean turning off the taps on occasion
7. Remember this is only a small part of your day
8. When finished showering do not open the door (see #1).
9. Move shower head up and to the side.
10. Quickly close the door after leaving the bathroom (see #1)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


This is the conclusion of my correspondence with Ms. Choyce. I would like nothing better than to respond to her e-mail but I don't think it would do any good so I'm turning the other cheek. Before posting her reply I would like to make a few things clear: 1) I don't know her or 'Allyson' 2) I've sent Ms. Choyce a total of two e-mails, both of which I have faithfully posted here 3) I'm a guy (Nature Witch comes from my hotmail address)
I've had a few nemeses in my life: my high school math teacher, a supervisor of a summer job in 1994, and a practicum supervisor in the B. Ed program. Ms. Choyce has just joined their ranks.
And now, an e-mail that manages to be patronizing, clueless and self righteous:

Date: Sun, 13 Dec 2009 04:53:31 -0300
Dear Miss Nature Witch,
Sorry you are still holding bad feelings about this.
That e-mail was intended for Allyson....and was not meant to go on the list serve.
Really you should worry about more important things...and I hope you are doing more to care about the world then just taking spelling mistakes and crazy accusations out on small projects helping kids in the DR and Africa.

Allyson never paid back what she promised.....That now her bad karma.
To do that to a small project like ours is a horrible selfish thing to do. A person meaning well does not promise things they can not do...and then leave people broke and try to ruin good projects aiding kids. I mean really.

We get tones of wonderful e-mails and thank you letter from local and international people. I work with the kids everyday...building homes, pre-schools, running programmes...
I have won the Red Cross Humanitarian Award, Worked for the UN and just been offered another UN job, plus just got a full scholarship from Yale University because of my work, sponsoring not one but 2 of our projects in South Africa.

....COLORS also gets support from some Very well known people and NGOs who have all seen our work on the ground.....leaving you looking silly for writing me this. And despite all this...I am dyslexic and have achieved way above this despite spelling mistakes..petty petty.

I know your a friend of Allysons so get over it and tell her that she might not feel so guilty if she pays back what she promised. It is not good to carry around such bad karma.

Hope your doing more with your life then writing ridiculous e-mails to volunteers working in Africa. You are now off my list, thank God. Please dont write again and restrain your efforts for bigger more important things.
Peace and Love

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I received an e-mail asking for a donation this morning. I've been waiting for it for a long time. Here's my response and the events that lead up to it:

Ms. Choyce,

Almost two years ago you sent around an e-mail meant to shame someone into paying back some debt. The e-mail was riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes and made you look like a mean and vindictive person; hardly the sort of communication that should be coming from a respectable organization. I sent you a well meaning e-mail and received a glib and dismissive response back. Consequently, I want you to know that yours is the last organization I would ever donate to. Moreover, I would discourage anyone from doing the same due to your complete lack of integrity (and use of spell check). There are many organizations attempting to do some good in this world and I can't say that I believe, based on your personal communications, that yours is one of them.


March 31, 2008 7:23:58 AM

Subject: Allyson Invoice


COLORS has not recived any of the money you prommised to pay back after you made the rorary project fall through. Stan from Rotary promissed you would keep your word and pay it back since it the ethical thing to do.

I trusted you, again, ....and hoped you would pull through.

You promissed you would pay at leaset in instalments every month.???? But you have not helped at all...and I am working so hard each day keeping 5 projects running at once, and feel it should not be nesssary for me to have to follow up on this at the point. It should be done and completed,,,but we are all still waiting on you.

COLORS never would have bought you this ticket if you did not alreday promis to pull through and commit to the Rotary swazilandproject. The only reason we bought the tickets to this location was because the rotary wanted to fund the project there with your contacts.

This all left COLORS in a terrible possion, having lost the funds from your ticket once you backed out

This is issue is now larger then just us,

This is Kids and volunteers in need that this money is for....not for you to keep. The support was not inteneded for you to waist but to pay back to COLORS respctfully.

It has been over three months of waiting for you to take I've been asked by my donors to writ you this letter so you can justifiy the funds and return the kids money where it belongs.

We have some fantastic programs running here. All the volunteers know that the money coming from you is what should be helping them be here too. So they are still waiting for their extra support.

Next week Lesley Choyce and the donors who sponcered the flight will be comming buy your house for the money you owe COLORS. or you can just mail a check.

Please get someone to write a check to COLORS for what you owe.

Please write your chcek out to: Project COLORS

NOte: funds owed for flight

Project COLORS attn: Lesleychoyce

83 leslie Rd,

Nova Scotia B2Z 1P8



Sunyata A. Choyce
Founding Director, Project COLORS International South Africa #011-27-78-871-6939


Sent: Monday, March 31, 2008 6:53:51 PM
Subject: RE: Allyson invoice

Dear Ms. Choyce,

I'm writing in regards to the message you sent out earlier today. I've read it over several times and am both surprised and disappointed with its content. Before I go further let me say that I have no doubt you work hard and have the best intentions of effecting a positive change. However, I think you have done more to damage your credibility with a single e-mail than the years of hard work you put forth to make that change happen.
Your choice to include the ids-list serve in a private matter is a strange one. I can only imagine that you have every dime accounted for and are in great need of the money owing to you. What's unfortunate is that you have done the opposite of what you intended - you have created sympathy for a person who would otherwise deserve none. The threatening tone at the end of the message was especially uncalled for.
You have also involved the twit who posted anonymously, the other students, and myself (which is why I'm writing this). Your message was so unprofessionally written that it makes me question what type of organization you run. There were so many spelling and grammar errors that it was almost illegible. If anything your e-mail is a lesson to everyone in how not to handle a problem situation. Most damningly, it gives no one a reason to support your efforts when there are other more credible projects that are just as in need of funding.
I do hope you receive your money and I sincerely hope this incident doesn't derail your hard work.


Jesse V.

Sent April 1st, 2008

Re: Allyson Invoice

Dont worry it wont.

Sunyata A. Choyce
Founding Director, Project COLORS International
South Africa #011-27-78-871-6939,

Monday, December 07, 2009

making it work

Top - taken at 12:15pm (yes, that's the moon)
Next - back of elementary school
Next - taken from my window at work around 12:50pm
Last - Gazebo by College

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Mr. Snowman

Well it finally happened. The sun has stopped rising and setting. When is it coming back? Not until sometime in January. Fortunately it's not totally dark all day up here. There's no direct sunlight but there is a decent amount of light for about 4 hours. It may not be much but I'll take what I can get.
Also, in the spirit of the Web 2.0 I'm going to be better about responding to comments on my blog. To Hamesy and Butterfly-Girl, I don't think my instructor appreciated my comments but it made my day to see yours.
Keep reflecting,
Jesse V.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Don't wanna behave

Here's a new student. He was tucked away in a box labelled 'Christmas.' I asked him if he was hungry and he said "no, I'm stuffed." (Ba dum pum pum)


Dear Primo Foods:

I recently tried your 'country harvest vegetable' soup. It's gross.

Jesse V,