Monday, November 30, 2009


bottom - Town Christmas tree in front of elementary school
next - 3:00pm sunset
2nd from top - makeshift sleds at the bottom of a small hill
top - evening colours

Sunday, November 29, 2009


One of the assignments for the adult learning theory class I'm taking is to provide weekly class feedback. Here's what I said for our last class:

I know that reflection is important for educators; we need to constantly assess our practices in the never ending endeavor of improving them. As such, I understand why teacher educator programs have such a strong focus on reflection. However, I think there are limits to what we need to reflect on. For example, at the end of our class you had us reflect on the statement ‘time flies.’ In fairness we did not spend a great of time on this but I felt as though our time could have been better spent doing something else. To me, ‘time flies’ is one of those small-talk conversations you have with co-workers around this time of year or with a classmate (outside of class) at the end of a term. I truly appreciate that you make an effort to fold our feedback into class (and that you allow for feedback) but I don’t feel that conversation was worthy of our time.

I only have three more waste of time classes left.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stays out late

Tips for Living well in Inuvik:

1. Check the expiration date of milk and other dairy products, especially during the closure of the Dempster Highway. Just because the expiry date has long since past doesn't mean that stores take the products off the shelves. Buyer beware
2. Though milk may be ridiculously expensive (at least $10.00 for two litres) don't stop drinking it, or at least take calcium pills. I've slipped and fallen four times on the road and had several other close calls. You'll need to make sure your bones are well fortified against such mishaps. Luckily for me, I'm almost invincible
3. Don't be surprised if people beg for money while you're shopping for groceries
4. People tend to overdress for the weather - don't feel like you have to follow suit
5. If you have happen to find a stray animal, and are interested in its well-being, you are better off taking it to a vet yourself. Animal Control does not check the condition of the animals they pick up
6. You may miss: loved ones, friends, fresh fruit, movie theatres, a reason to cook/bake, the sun, etc. Do your best to fill your free time with various activities.
7. Gossip extends well beyond town borders. You will probably hear stories about people living in other communities or maybe one of your own students will have been banned from a entering a nearby community. Be prepared to hear some amazing tales.
8. For the most part, the people you meet will be friendly but making deeper connections with people may be challenging.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rest in peace little buddy. I'm sorry our paths didn't cross sooner.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Be the first one

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

cut and try

This is the face of the dog that I encountered on my way home tonight. Much of the dog's body was covered in ice and when I picked it up its paws were equally ice encrusted. It's been dipping below -30 outside and I don't think this dog has the constitution to deal with these lows.
I was at loss for what to do with the dog. There was absolutely no way I could leave it outside (part of me just wanted to take it home, even though it was really smelly). With the aid of a passing couple and some helpful hotel receptionists we were able to contact animal control and shortly after a man came to take the dog to the pound. He said the dog has 3-5 days to be claimed, after that it will be put to sleep then burned. The animal control officer repeated this several times which I believe was either a ploy to encourage people (me) to adopt or they were the words of a very desensitized individual.
I guess this story is to be continued.

yours to keep

Book reviews:

Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I’ll start by saying that I enjoyed this book but not without some serious reservations. First and foremost the 9 year old protagonist, Oskar Schell, is the most tiring character I have ever come across. I initially stopped a reading a few pages into the book because of this and had to wonder why everyone he met in his quest around New York City didn’t feel the same way. Moreover, I thought the way the other characters treated Oskar to be a little too kindly in spite of his complete lack of social graces.
I also found that the story of Oskar’s grandparents left me feeling more confused than anything. The breakdown of nothing places was hard to follow and, to me, incomprehensible in why anyone would choose to live that way. The grandmother’s acceptance of the grandfather’s decisions was equally hard to believe.
At the bottom of all of this is a story of love and loss set not long after Sept. 11, 2001. It’s an emotional tale and one that is worth reading despite the confusion and fatigue encountered along the way.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

This is Davidson’s first novel and, according the book flap, the product of seven years composition and research. I have no difficulty in believing this. Davidson’s nameless protagonist suffers horrible burns at the beginning of the novel and everything from the burning of his flesh to his brutal rehabilitation is described in meticulous detail. Despite the grim and often unpleasant specifics this is where the book excels. Unfortunately the novel isn’t able to sustain this momentum or believability. Ultimately, The Gargoyle is a story about love and redemption but its meaning gets muddled when folded into Dante’s Inferno and when mixed with some heavy handed Christianity.
There is an unfortunate comparison on the back of this novel to Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It’s possible to see how a comparison could be made (though a weak one) and in the end it doesn’t do Davidson any favours. Martel’s book holds up long after the last page has been read but the more I think about Davidson’s the more I think about what didn’t work, rather than what did.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Team Canada

I don't believe I've ever seen my next door neighbours. I do, however, hear the couple on a regular basis. By all indications, and there are many, the man is not only very adroit but he seems to possess a great deal of stamina and vigour. I'm not sure what his day job is but he could probably supplement his income by producing a series of 'how to' videos. Or, if there was such an Olympic category, I'd say he'd be Canada's best hope for a gold medal in the long program. Go Team Canada.

Monday, November 09, 2009


I had a pleasant surprise at school today. There was a knock on my door while I was trying to explain how to find the lowest common denominator as a product of prime numbers. A delivery man walked in with a box containing one cake and a package of cookies. It seems my mom had arranged for these to be sent from the local North Mart. I had told no one it was my birthday but soon found myself handing out pieces of cake to my students and the other staff. All in all, it was a very nice surprise and one that was enjoyed by many people.
I'm copying an interesting article from Norbert Ispin's website. I don't agree with it entirely though I say bring on the cylons:

Tezuka Osamu, the creator of Astor Boy, envisioned a future in which racism extended to the machines that humanity had created. This resulted in a lot of conflict and allowed Astro the chance to fly, fight and laser blast his way into the hearts of millions of people around the world. However, it seems that maybe a real life Astro Boy wouldn't have it so easy. A recent article on the National Geographic website talks about the 'uncanny valley,' or the unsettled feeling that people get when they see a robot or image that looks too human. According to the article, it's possible that even monkeys feel this way. I cannot but help but wonder then where our efforts at creating artificial intelligence will lead us. Will we feel contempt for what we have created if it looks too much like us? Sadly, I fear the answer will be yes.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


waffer thin

A little over 120 ago Frans Boas conducted a field study of the Indigenous peoples of Baffin Island. His research and methodology forever changed the Anthropological process. Though I don't talk much of Boas in my day to day life he is something of a hero of mine (if I were to have an academic hero). I mention this only because I felt a little like an anthropologist tonight - though one without a)a research question b) credentials.
The Olympic torch made its way to town today and in celebration there were speeches, a town feast, and traditional dances. Pictured above are only some of the fine foods available for consumption. Other dishes included muskox chili, muskox stirfry (which was more like meat and gravy), and muk tuk (beluga blubber). Anyone who knows me is probably saying, "Jesse's an adventuresome sort, he probably loaded up on the blubber and chili." It is true that I was sorely tempted to expand my epicurean horizons but I didn't want anyone else to go without at my expense. (That, of course, is a total lie - c) I'm worse than a spoiled child when it comes to trying new foods, especially ones that come from the sea and/or were primarily used for insulation).
I met with two of my coworkers at the dinner. Both took the opportunity to comment that I need a warmer jacket. This is becoming a regular saying and one that I dislike (do ever I look cold?). Even my students have told me that I need a 'parkee'. (And d) I dislike other people telling me how to dress).
In fairness, it was -33 degrees Celsius tonight. I think Wasiata, the North Wind, has done its best to drive out the last remaining currents of warm air. However, I know this isn't true because it's only November; there's still plenty of time for the weather to get even colder.