Friday, December 30, 2005

My Favorite Year

Hello Everyone,
Well 2005 has come and is on its way out and its been a very interesting year.There have been a couple of changes from the norm and some interesting revelations. The year started out with a series of work dissapointments and some difficult decsions to be made. Once decided we entered a stressful and frustrating time as I travelled all over the country looking at new opportunities. Melissa and Christopher continued to provide unconditional love and support of the situations we had to endure to reach our goals. We tried several different situations which raised our hopes and then removed them (futureshop, Beer Store, Best Buy) then we discovered a new opportunity with something called the NorthWest company. That lead to where we are now, In the middle of the northern Tundra, a place where less than 0.00001 % of the world will ever visit in person. The experience we agree is one that everyone should have, the difference in culture and climate alone allow you a greater view of life and appreciation of all your experiences. We have left our families and learned how to cope in a foreign world. We have experienced everday things in this new world we would not have considered concievable in our previous life. We have dealt with daily facts of life regarding heat, toilets, groceries, and others that we would rarely have ever enountered before. The finally outcome is our lives have been turned upside down and it has been a wonderful experience that I for one would never give up or fail to recommend to others. I'd like to thank the powers that be for this opportunity and for the love of our family and friends.
Thank-you everyone.
P.S. The photo is Christmas day sunset, The column of light obove the setting sun was much more brillant in Real life and climbed thousands of feet in the air.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Monday Musings

Hello Everyone,
Well we all made it through another holiday season, so yeah for us. I'll start with some Q & A, first I'd never heard of the doneless turkey before till I got hear however I'm assured by the butcher that al butchers do it, Brian came here from Ottawa in May and he used to de-bone birds down there as well. After you de-bone the bird it is nothing but a floppy mass of meat. So you then stuff it to hold the shape of the bird. When stuffing you can stuff all the bird that used to contain bone, so you can stuff the wings and legs. In this case we stuffed the legs and wings with white meat to make them more appealling. Obviouslyb this increases cooking time as you now have a solid meat bird (30 Minutes per pound seems to work). Then you just carve the bird in slices, its like cutting a loaf of bread, no bones, white meat everywhere and no waste. I'm going into the butcher shop for training soon and I hope to learn to do this.
Ok land ownership in the north. I'm not sure I have all the correct Data for all cases so please forgive any mistakes. In the 90's the government set a homestead date. If on this date you had built a perminant structure then you owned the land, If not then all lands are reverted to Town ownership. So in this community 85% of land is owned by the town, Now you can lease any available land from the town and build on it, Your yearly rent and taxes will equal about $400.00 (but the cost of building is huge, all materials at northern rates, construction teams the same). Most of the housing in town is owned by the town and controlled through the housing comission which alloactes housing based on family sizing and similiar considerations. I have no idea what rent on these units are however I am able to speculate that they don't throw you out quickly for non payment (They are triing to force one eviction currently for non-payment, The resident in question hasn't paid since he moved in 17 years ago). All lands within a couple of miles of town have been plotted and are managed this way. What you would do to aquire land in the tundra I have no clue.
Ok Election Process, There is a voter list based on tax returns same as in the south. No we haven't seen anyone from any party, actually I haven't even seen a piece of literature from anyone yet. The Provincial Parlament is a little differet though. They have no home legistlature such as in the south. They actaully travel the house through all the northern communities. They come into town hold legilasture for a couple of weeks and then go back to thier comminties until the next one.
Yes we have had caribou, I don't particularrly like it. We've had roasts, steaks, jerky and stir fry. Melissa doesn't mind it but I find it tastes of too much iron, Its like boody meat with a long aftertaste. We're actually waiting to try Mittaku, which is beluga whale but there hasn't been alot in yet this year.
Ok it looks like I'm up to date on questions, I'll do a musings later.
Take Care.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Hello Everyone and Merry Christmas,

Well Its Christmas in the north and let me tell you, Santa doesn't do alot of prep work, ie reindeer training, warming up the engines, weather checks etc, Last night around 11:55 pm I saw him whip into he garage and take off a couple of minutes later. Since its such a short commute he must think its a milk run, anyways.
Christopher Has started to figure out this christmas and Santa thing. All season he didn't seem to get it, Until last night, When going to bed he had lots of questions about Santa and said he wanted to give Santa a big hug when he came tonight. Then he went to sleep fairly quickly, until around 12:00 when he woke up and stayed up till 3:30 talking, reading and singing about Santa. Then around 9:00 he decided it was Santa time and low and behold Santa had been by. Here are the photo's.
Tonight we are having the Ophans Christmas dinner with Jeff (the retail Manager) Melody and Brian (dept manager in training and our butcher) The turkey above was prepared by Brian and its a 8 kg turkey de-boned and then stuffed with another 8 kg de-boned turkey, Thats one heck of a bird :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Blood on the Floors

Hello Everyone,
Ok, This topic seems a little weird however its one that recenty suprised me. I was walking through the store and noticed bloody footprints across the floor. Now when this happened in the south we would track the footsteps to the injured person and give first aid and start with many WSIB forms and accident investigations. That is what I did, I wandered around the store following these footprints with growing concern, it was alot of blood and was looking fresher with every step. Now I would like to say I'm no dummy however I'm not sure. What I found at the end of the trail was a 50 year old Inuk Woman who did not appear to be in distress. What she did was to recently butcher a caribou or two, the blood froze to her clothing and then defosted in the store. Ok, we're not in Kansas anymore.
Take Care,

For Lesley,

My mother tells me you've been triing to email me, I haven't recieved any of these emails. Please check the My Profile section of this page which will send you directly to my email, hopefully this will fix our problem, I'm hoping my spam filters aren't the problem but to be sure make sure I am the only reciepiant the email. If problems continue, post a comment and I'll figure it out. Don't spend time on the emails till we get it figured out. I respond to all emails so don't think I ignored it, I didn't get it if I didn't respond.
Take care

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday Musings-Various Thoughts

Hello Everyone,
Just a few wandering thoughts from a busy week. First off, appreciate those who bring you food, I've been training in the KFC and Pizza Hut for 2 weeks now and let me tell you this is the worst job I have ever done. There is nothing positive to say about it, except in 2 weeks its over. Those people who pick food service as thier vocation must be a different breed than myself as I truely hate this aspect of the business. Its not one thing in particular, more over its the complete experience, maybe if it was a fine dining experience it might be different however the idea of working so hard to feed people items they shouldn't be eating just bugs me. Some of the locals eats 3 or more meals a day in our restaurant, they don't have enough money to pay thier rent, but they will sit in the restuarant for 7 hours. I just want to pull them into the back and teach them to cook. Anyways, poor life skills is something we all see.
Christmas events are almost over, we did Ladies Night on Friday and it was well attended and a busy event. We have through the variuos events focused towards everyone sold about $6,000 dollar per person in this town on gifts. Its amazing how much the locals save and spend on christmas. We would never see this level of commitment in the south (at least not at Wal-Mart). As for Christmas celebrations up here its pretty much the same except for the religiuos connitations of the south, As it was explained to me, up here it could be St Swiggins day and hey wouldn't care, its the opportunity to buy alot of stuff and get alot of stuff they really like. Decorations are the same, and they put up christmas tree's ( we fly in live tree's as well $147.99). The slight improvement in people's attitudes in the south at this time of year doesn't really translate up here as the people are usually more pleasent than in the south anyways, you an always get a "Hello" or a "Matna" from the locals.
This week one of the locals recieved a insurance check for well over six figures, its amazing how poorly they are educated in regards to financial planning. With no banks and ATM's up here, (we have on no name machine in the store, so No deposits avaiable) I guess they haven't had alot of exposure to the services of the south. The person who got the check spent over halfthe total in 1 hour in the store. They bought 2 trucks, 2 ski-doo's, 1 quad, variuos appliances and furniture. By the time we get to January they won't have a penny left.
Which brings me to another issue, You can't get christmas cards up here, I don't know why, it seems really silly considering everything else we have but no one in town sells them... strange.
Tahts it for now,
Take care.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

My Training

Hello Everyone,
Well, We've been here for 4 months almost and my training has been very slow and remidial so far. Last week I met with the regional manager and vice president to discuss my training and review what we've done so far. Thankfully they agreed that its time to step things up and get a larger picture of whats happening through all aspects of the stores. The bad part is that also means this week I've been in the quickstop making pizza's and cooking chicken all week. Its like I'm 17 and working in mcD's. I'm still managing but frequently have to step in and do the cooking when th staff don't show up. My last week has been either cooped up in a 100 degree kitchen or outside in -40, its hard to get comfortable. However It's nice to be moving forward again, I spent three months in grocery and could have learned everything I did in 2 weeks, the rest of it was just being a stocker, sure its fine and relaxing but not progressing me towards my goals. After Christmas I'll be moving to the offices which I'm sure will be ery frustrating as well, sitting all day and working on numbers... Oh well this is the price we all pay
Take care

For the Grandparents

Todays Lunch time.

Mens Night

Hello everyone,
We had mens night on Friday evening from 8-10pm. We had at least 300 guys there for the evening and this should be traditionally the poorest attended event (Ladies night will be the best). The guys slowly wandered in and started shopping. At 8:30 we started the first game which was a shopping game. We picked 5 men at random and they ech were given a shopping list. The list had to stay at the till and they had to remember as much as they could and run and select the items. Actually one of our stocker was selected to be one of the shoppers, so it looked like the game was going to be depressingly fast. Apparently we gave him too much credit for taking a interest in his job as he was the second last to finish. The winner was the school principal who spent the first 2 minutes studying the list then ran around the store and collected 8 of the items in his first trip. he won on his second trip, it was fun to watch. He won $200.00.
The other game we played was Lets make a deal where people had to guess the cost of a product then the winner could select a box and win the prize. Prizes ranged from power tools,to tampons to a toilet from the 50's I found in my basement.
it was a interesting night but lacked the energy of the women's events. Also guys don't know how to shop for a deal. We had about quarter of the store at 25% off and in total the guys saving were about $700 for over $10,000 in purchases (these numbers are made up but the ratio is correct). I guess thats why we hate malls, we will always lose.
Take care,

Sunday Musings-Christmas Cheer

Hello Everyone,
Well, Its been a very long week which started me to thinking about a glass of christmas cheer when I got home. You do not run down to the LCBO to pick up a bottle of your chosen poison in the great white north. The first step is to go to the Hamlet Office (City Hall) and get a permit to possess alcohol (cost $2.00). After filling in this form you return to the Hamlet office between 1-3 pm. and review the alcohol avalability listing from the Rankin Inlet Liquor store (which is terrible). You review the list and make your selections. You are allowed limited quantities of alcohol per purchase (2-64 oz bottles or 4 flats of beer, or 3-40 oz, or 4 bottles of wine per 2 week period). You fill in your permit based on availability by Monday at 3:00 for that weeks order (cost $15.00). On Monday evening the Alcohol Commission (a group of elders) reviews all orders and approve or deny the permits based on your quantities and if you have caused any trouble in the past while drinking. Then you wait till Tuesday and go to the Northern to see if your permit was approved. If your permit is approved you must send a money transfere to the Rankin liquor store (cost $30.00) by Wednesday at the lastest. The cost of alcohol is about double that found in Southern Ontario and aound 7 times the American price (for our south of the border friends). Now we're almost done, we wait. If the weather is good you can start calling the local airline to see if your order has arrived on Thursday. When your order arrives you can go out to the airport and pick up your order as well as pay the frieght charges to ship it to Baker (range from $35.00- $70.00 based on what you ordered). the Average order will cost between $200.00 and $300.00 to get 2 64 oz of booze. Important tips: only order 64oz's in plastic bottles (these are lighter and less breakable), Order the highest quality product available (the cost difference between the worst whisky and the best is only a couple of dollars) which is a very small % of what your paying anyways and costs the same to ship so splurge and put that 2% of your costs to a better product, Don't drink wine (cost prohibitive) there are no high quality products available, all are is glass and will run you about $65.00 for a $7.00 bottle of wine.
The idea of this process is to allow the local government to self regulate thier population and avoid the pitfalls of alcoholism that is so prevelent in the north, however as with most good idea's it fails miserably. The process does affect how much the non residents drink (white folk), but the locals seem to have no problems at all aquiring alcohol whenever they want it. The bootleg market is huge as well as the home-brew market. Most orders by Locals are for 3-40 oz's 2 to drink and one to sell. A 40 oz bottle sells for $150.00 locally except at this time of year. The home brew stuff is, well I don't know, but lets just say your vision would be in serious jeapordy consuming this product.
Now, lets deal with Christmas cheer, due to problems at this time of year the purchase of alcohol is banned from Dec 9 to January 13. This means that currently blackmarket prices have doubled and will soon triple and beyond, apparently by New years eve a 40 oz will be selling for $1000.00. This is why since I got here I have only imbibed of this nectar (legal only) once in the last 4 months. Keep this in mind as you pour yourself another glass of christmas cheer and think of those how have drank enough fruit juices in the last 4 months to ensure the fruit growers of the world enjoy a wonderful Christmas. BTW pop prices 2 liters of Coke $14.99 12 pack of Coke $19.99, even if you get booze odds are against you still being able to afford mix. Orange juice concentrate $3.25, I think I'll have apple juice today.
Finally, this question was asked last night, there is no where in town to go to have a drink, No bars, cafe's restuarants, hotels and any similiar places, there are no public service permits allowed in the area.
Enjoy you holiday festivities and don't drink and drive.

Take care

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sunday Musings

Hello Everyone,
Another week has come and gone but the Christmas celebrations have begun in the store. On Friday we had our Moonlight Madness sale. Most general merchandise in the store was 25% off regular and sale prices. We closed the store at 6:00 in order for staff to have dinner then reopened at 8:00 pm for the sale. Unlike southern stores where people shop consistantly for thier presents, here everyone saves thier money for thier events. We have events for everyone in the community, Teen night, childrens day, womens night, mens night and elders night are all still coming up. Each of these nights we try to align with a pay period for for the local economy. We then target what that group will be shopping for and apply discouts to our stock. We give away door prizes and play varuos games through the night, such as turkey bowling, lets make a deal, survivor etc. The people of town really expect the Northern to set the tone of the period as well as celebrate christmas for them. The enviroment inside the store on Friday night was not as populated as I expected however the enthusiam was more than I expected. By 20 minutes to 8 there where about a hundred people waiting in front of the store in -20 degrees The numbers must have increased to 200 by the time we opened the doors. They were chanting and counting down the time till we opened like it was New Years Eve. The store used to leave the shopping carts at the front of the store however after some injuries due to the mad rush we now scatter them around the store. They literally run into the store. Last year they broke the electronic security posts (like at Wal-Mart) beside the doors clean off. After getting a shopping cart they find out who has the raffle tickets and line up for those. The mad rush is to get a shopping cart once they get in they calm down a bit. They then locate the person who has the raffle tickets and line up for those. Then onto shopping. I'd say by 9:00 we had 500 people in the store (which in a population of 1500 isn't bad) and this was the first event, Womens night will be the biggest event. Elders night is more of a celebration that a sale.
Which leads me to a thought. Elders, whnen I came up here I didn't quite know what this term meant. Elders is a term of respect for their senior citizens. Between 55 and 65 you become a elder. There should be a photo here of a 97 year older elder who attended Midnight Madness.
Also all the events are formal for management(for when you see John the Quickstop manager). They baby he has is his new daughter Jasmine who was born 4 months early and is now 1 month old by her due date, five months by real time, When we arrived she was 5 lbs and the tiniest thing. Johns wife Karen is also pictured with a traditional baby carrier. The other baby carrier is the more common carrier for children outside. Children upto around three are carried around in the hoods of thier mothers Parka's (I can't remember the name of this piece of clothing). Most women wear this garmet all winter and summer, child care is such a community concern that almost all women wear them, aunts, grandmothers, mothers anyone above child bearing age (16) and below the point where they couldn't handle the weight.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hunting and Dressing

Ok thier in reverse order. And covering each other, just click on the overlaps and you can see the whole image. Sorry

Hello Everyone,
These photo's are from in front of the house from this morning, Pictured here are Roger and Winnie. Roger caught these three caribou on the other side of the lake and then cached and froze them to make the cutting of the meat easier. They catch and clean the caribou where they kill it. They then bury it in snow to allow it to freeze, bring it back to town on Kamatik, then they cut it into managable pieces. At some point after this my wife shows up and asks them for some antlers, You'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My Son Is Weird

Hello Everyone,
Christopher has given up sleeping with his teddy bear, He's adopted a bottle of Tide Coldwater. I wonder if we're looking at a sponsership deal here? Seriously, he carries this thing everywhere. He had a fit today when Melissa tried to do laundry.
Take care,

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

High Noon in Baker

These photo's were taken at 12:00 noon today. The sun gets upto about 5 degree's at its zenith.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Blog thing.

Hello Everyone,
When I set this page up it was because we were receiving too many similiar questions regarding life here and it was taking alot of time to respond to everyone I wanted to in a timely manner. So I thought I'd set this page up to try and better explain our experiences here as well as have the community share the answers they recieve to thier questions. I have answered specific questions in the comments section and I ask that people look there when they have a question. I know I am always anxious to read the comments whenever I join the page so I ask that my friends remember to look there for answers, as well as post any comments they may have. I apoligize that I have taken this short cut to answering questions and if anyone has something they don't want to share, please feel free to email me and I'll answer.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday Musings

Hello Everyone,
Its another Sunday and I have to figure out another bunch of things to talk about. Well I've been meaning to discuss the Inuit Lifestyle and white mans perceptions of it. When I've visited other blogs discussing this area I'm amazed at how eurocentric the interpitations are. I know I have made these same generalizations but we have to stop and look at where the people have come from and when.
40 years ago the inuit of this area lived on the land. The hamlet consisted of a store and a RCMP detachment. They came into town and got thier supplies and went back to the land. There is currently a class action lawsuit on the behalf of the local inuit groups against the RCMP. If you read histories of the area they will discuss how there was a outbreak of distemper in this area in the 60's caused the locals into town because they could no longer navagate the land on thier own. The lawsuit discusses how their was a detailed plan by the RCMP to force the Inuit into towns so they could have better access to a modern lifestyle. This plan was alleged to involve the RCMP shooting sled dogs under the guise of a disease.
That being niether here nor there, we have a group of people who were 100% self sufficient, providing themselves food, transportation and shelter as they had for a couple of thousand years. They had very limited exposure to white man, politics, ethics, religion, social expectations, alcohol, and commerce system. Now they are forced into a town, where they can no longer be self sufficient, they don't really have a skill set that matches white culture. They do not have a lifestlye of 9-5, they get up when the sun rises (very late in the day in the winter and they stay awake until thier needs are met. So we have a group of people who don't really fit into our job system niether in hours, expecations or skills. The government offers them social assistance to help meet thier needs. They are still not given exposure to a educational system that would provide them with a future however they are maintained in these communities with limited emplyment opportunities and very limited room for growth, no means of leaving or improving thier standing. Then we provide alcohol. this further impede's their growth into a acceptable european culture system.
Still the system was working Ok as everyone was in the same boat and they didn't know of anything different. The in the 70's we add TV to the mixture and we show them the way others live, we show them the products, lifestyles and alternatives they have never seen before. Now we have a group of people who want things, and yet still have no means of achieving them, even today the average education up here is grade 9, this town graduated 1 student from grade 12 last year. The college in town features coarses of a very vocational nature (hairdressing). Which I think we all know will still limit thier ability to go south and succeed. What we are left with is a culture that has never seen the American dream come true and doubt it can for a inuk in the south. That is why there is so much pride and interest in Jordin Tootoo (local Inuit who was drafted into the NHL), He is being watched closely as maybe he found the way out of the lifestlye and fits into white mans culture.
Anyways, these are my thought on the subject which may all be 100% wrong, lets remember we've only been here 3 months, these people came out of the stone age 40 years ago and this has to create trouble coming into a new world.
Take Care

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Life outside the Box

Hello Everyone,
Well we've had a very cool week. Most of the week we were under a blizzard warning. We didn't recieve much snow but the temp was low and the wind was high . Normally we have 4 flights minimum a day bringing people in and out of B.L. plus a couple of our cargo planes plus a couple with hunters or researchers in a avaerage week. That means we should have about 32 flights in a week, this week we're at 4 due to the weather. The shelves at the store are getting pretty bare, at least the perishables are. Ah well, thats life in the north. Other than the wind and temp it hasn't been bad, its not even the temp thats bad, its the way the wind cuts straight through your clothes to your skin. On Tuesday I think it was only about -26 or so, but in the 3 minute walk to the store I felt my cheecks starting to go numb. This lead to discussions in the office of various people's experiences with frozen body parts, lots of stories. And the one wives tale thats proven true about being here is that the second time to freeze something takes about half the time.
Sunday we're having a Grey Cup party at the 4 plex in the old apartment, that way we can just hire a maid when its over and no one has to worry about clean up. We'll have to call it something like a "female awareness seminar" in order to exclude the fairer sex from this highly informative and educational get together.

Still no pictures, sorry.

Take Care,

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sunday Musings

Hello everyone,
Another week has come and gone. Not much different than any other week up here. The other day we were talking about the enviroment up here and I was amazed at the locals way of life. As we discussed local families, various things kept reappearing in all the histories, "oh, his brother froze to death on the land", "Oh, his mother was killed by a Polar bear". It was astounding, there was literally no family we discussed that didn't discuss one of these tragicies in some way. We don't have Polar bears this far inland however we do have grizzlies and many people do go to local communities such as Rankin, Arviat and Chesterfield Inlet regulary and this is where the attacks happen. I can't think of a similiar force in the south that touches as many lives as the enviroment here, not drunk driving, crime, or any other than disease which occures to the same degree up here. Its not that daily living is any great challenge, its just that you pay for a mistake alot more drasticly than in other area's, when your vechicle breaks down here, there are bigger problem that what garage to go to for repairs, Do I wait here, How can I keep warm, what can I eat, Which way is town, Whats the weather going to do, what if I get injured, How long will it take anyone to find me? These questions have drastic conseqences. A elder went on the land for a day trip on Thanksgiving day, despite three weeks of intesive searching they still haven't found her (at Rankin Inlet). These are things the locals accept as life but they are very different for myself, I find it amazing and intimadating, the acceptable tragidy factor is amazing.
I've been meaning to talk about local wildlife as to whats around here so here it goes. There are grizzly Bears however they roam the land around town and rarely venture near town. A couple were chased away from the airport this summer however none have made it into town in recent memory. There are wolves, these too tend to avoid town, you can hear them at night. These do come near town but predominately avoid it unless the weather is bad, They realize that every house has a rifle in it and thier hides are worth a couple of hundred dollars. During storms they will come into town and take the occasional dog or scavange when they can. They pose no large threat to a adult as there aren't any stories of the pack coming into town, which would be dangerous to anyone. We have weasels, these are long ferret like creatures that are predominately in town during the winter, They are white in color and about a foot long. We have Sic Sic's which are large ground squirrels, they are about 6-10 inches in height and lack the long tails of southern squirrels, they more closely resemble small ground hogs of the south. We also have artic hare's which are BIG white rabbits at this time of year. We see more of these than anything else right now. You can also see artic foxes in town occasionally, these animals are a couple of feet long and pure white in color. For food for almost all these creature we have a lemming like creature that scurries benieth the snow, I haven't seen these animals yet.
Thats all i have for now
Take care

Friday, November 18, 2005

-52 with the wind chill

Hello everyone,
another wek has come and gone and We've had a week of sickness. Christopher was sick for about a week, Melissa is still sick after a week and half and as of today I've come down with something. Oh well, If its not one thing its another.
We have another blizzard warning, this morning it was just supposed to be cold and windy, apparently its been updated to include snow, which is strange it usually doesn't snow when its this cold. Hopefully everyone will soon feel better and the weather will keep us amused for the weekend. I just realized we have been here 3 months in three days. Doesn't seem like that long. Overall I'd have to say thing have gone amazingly well compared to the Wal-mart transition. Life is alot more relaxing and enjoyable without the needless deadlines and un-nessasary pressure. I'll update more this weekend when I get some photo's to add. Take care.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Cremation of Sam McGee (You knew eventually it would be here).

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ‘round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursed cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ‘taint being dead--it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows—O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked;” . . . then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Robert W. Service

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Another Blizzard warning

Well we're at it again, No photo's, nothing to see but white. I know a few people had questions about how the wind could be so different from that in Ontario. I know wind has no mass however think about this. The wind here hasn't seen a tree within at least 450 miles. This wind is travelling at that speed at ground level, it hasn't had to go around tree's or buildings, it simply races across the tundra for hundreds of miles. The reason we have a new high school is the roof and most of the south wall blew away in the wind, Last year the roof of a house near where we used to live blew off in a blizzard, It landed over a hundred yards away when it smashed into the side of the elemetry school.
After work yesterdayI found out I was right, the locals didn't really think that was much of a storm, in fact we're having a basketball tournament at the high school and during the blizzard over 1000 people went to watch it, Thats 2/3 of the total population.
Oh, well. I thought it was one heck of a wind.
Take care,

Friday, November 11, 2005

Well I couldn't resist

I just got back in, It is WICKED out there. I tied myself off with the dog leash ( a 300 pound test climbing rope and I'll tell you if I lost my footing it wouldn't have helped a bit) and went out to shovel some snow. The snow at the bottom of the stairs was over 6 feet deep. A crater like drift had formed between the store and the house and in places I couldn't see over it to the bottom. The wind drove you around like a rag doll. If you had anywhere to go it better be east cause thats where you were going. The temperature became irrevilant as all you were concerned with was keeping your footing in the wind. I wish I could explain what it's like to those who haven't been here, but I find I can't compare it to anything you'd understand, the worst storm I ever saw in the south doesn't even desearve the same name as this beast. And the greatest part is this isn't even a blizzard as far as the locals are concerned. I can't wait for a big one!!! That was one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. All I can say is WOW, mother nature rules.
the recently awed,

Storm Update

I have never seen anything like this. The wind is coming from the east at 60-80 kmph, I know this doesn't sound that bad but you should see it. I'm tempted to go out and feel it but to be honest I'm scared. We have about 4 ft of snow piled in front of the door (there was no build up yesterday). I can't describe the scene out our front window and photo's can't do it justice. Its -18 right now with the windchill and going to get alot colder. Its going to be difficult sleeping as the sound of the wind slamming into the side of the house is quite loud. This is really cool if your inside.
Take care everyone.

Blizzard Update

Well, A storm is here. I don't know if its really qualified as a blizzard yet. The locals keep telling me it's only a blizzard when you can't see 10 feet or less. Here are a couple of before and after photo's. Yes, the store opens through all weather, in the last thirty years it has closed early once. Actually thats what causes alot of trouble, the locals get the day off from their government jobs, they look at it like a child's snow day and immediately start going out and doing things when they should be indoors, this leads to a few death by exposures as someone takes a wrong turn and freezes to death 50 feet from civilization.
Further updates as the weather progresses.
P>S> same camera-same shot

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Weather Warning

Looks like we're in for some fun. We have our first Nunavut Blizzard warning. The storm is scheduled to hit this evening and go through tommorrow, I hope to get photo's however from what I've heard I won't be able to.
Take care

Customer service desk

Just another shot

Little fun with Helium

Assorted characters, a helium tank and a paging system, fun for 5 minutes annoying thereafter

Inuk Santa

This is our delivery guy. Shawn

Brain the butcher

This is our butcher at the front of the store

Christmas Decorating

Well, we decorated the store for christmas. We brought all the staff in for a couple of hours on Monday evening while we team attacked the store to get the job done ASAP. These are some photo's from the event.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Cold weather training

Just a note about the new guys in town. Last Thursday the Canadian military's Rangers arrived in town. This is the second or third time they've been here since we got here. There is a local defence force that is supported by the Rangers. These are local people who are supposed to watch the land for invaders The rangers come into town every so often, look around, talk to the locals, re-arm the local force, and recruit new memebers. In truth it apparently involves alot more of showing the rangers where the good hunting is and drawing a cheque from the government.
However every January or early Febuary we are invaded by the rangers getting their cold weather training courses. The numbers usually range from a 50 or so to a few hundred, They pitch thier tents on the lake and spend a week living on the land (with the exception of prepared foods from Northern and Pizza hut most nights. A couple of years ago we apparently had our biggest invasion ever as 2 C-130's few into the airport to deliver the rangers to town.
Anyways, I just thought this was cool, so thought I'd share it.
p.s. Last year training ended early after a couple of them set themselves on fire sleeping too close to the heaters
p.p.s. The photo's are of a friends carved antlers, he has them carved by a local.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A couple of quick thoughts

Just a couple of things I've been wanting to mention. Anyone who supports PETA or animal rights in that manner should be forced to come up here in January. I know my Parka from down south is starting to crack around -20, Everyone lines thier hoods and wears gloves made of fur, why? You don't see alot of animals frozen to death in the wild, but if your out there for 24 hours thats how they'll find you. Protesting fur is a luxury of the south. Second, Fashion is for Ski hills, up here is doesn't matter to anyone what you look like- the important question is are you warm? Ok I just wanted to say that, have fun everyone.
Any yes, the lining for Christophers coat is white fox, and when the winds blowing its warm.

Sunday Musings

We have had another enjoyable weekend. It started snowing early on Saturday and hasn't really stopped yet. Its not alot of accumulation but its continious. I've got a couple of photo's of Ravens to post with this entry. I thought that Ravens and crows were pretty much the same thing, but when you see a raven you know there is a difference. These suckers are BIG. they are at least double the size of a normal crow. These photo's are taken from about 50 feet away.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Another weekend report

Hello Everyone,
Well more computer fun this week, For some reason I got locked out of my router and the settings changed (yes, I had changed the password, yes to a secure password (23 alph-num)) I think it was a glitch rather than a hijack. It still took me awhile to unlock and rebuild it.
Anyways, This week we made all our store plans for christmas, Its amazing the role the store takes in christmas celebarations up here. We have 18 events and celebrations leading up to this holiday. the events usually involve sales, celebrations, food, contests and games as well as prizes. We wil be holding events such as Elders night, womens night, save the temp day, etc. Apparently, shopping up here is a little different that down south, everyone here does not shop for christmas as they encounter gifts, they save thier money and wait for thier celebration day. Everyone will buy what they need during these events. Last year on womens night, the store re-opened at 8:00 for womens night. They started to line up at 6:00. At 8:00 they are admitted and they will maim and destroy anyone between them and a shopping cart. We have around a 150 carts, we will have at least 500 shoppers this evening who will arrive at 8:00 and leave after closing at 11:00, apparently no one will leave inbetween, they all stay the whole time. We close the restuarant and serve free food during the evening, as well as have eating contests, lets make a deal games, draws, bingo's, dress-up contests etc. Christopher wants me to build a choo-choo with him so I have to go... I'll finish this later.
We'll end up giving away alot of product in draws, TV'S, DVD'S, a Laptop, a PSP and other assorted items.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Other things.

Good night.
P.S. I guess the picture has nothing to do with anything but I like it :)

Halloween in Baker

Hello everyone and Happy Halloween,
Well today I thought I should enquire about Halloween in Baker. I was a little shocked last year Allan (the current store manager here) and Rod both claimed to have have over 3oo visitors on this eve. They both bought over a hundred dollars in candy ( in northern terms that is about 400 mini bags of chips. They advised that we should expect around 200. We ended up buying 7 cases of mini chips (245 bags). When I left work at 6:30 I was shocked. It was like a parade on the main strip, there were literally around 100 ATV's taking kids house to house, I've never seen that many people on the streets here. Let me stop at this point and tell you about our house, we are away from everyone else, the nearest house is about a quater of a mile away. Regardless, I went home expected to have to wait behind troves of trick or treaters to enter my house... There was no one. Ok, so they are a little late getting to our house at least I can get in safely without being mobbed. Safely home I quickly moved the chips closer to the door so there wouldn't be a riot as I went to get another box. Now all set, we awaited the onslaught of kids and adults alike..... at 8:00 I switched off the light and went to the bedroom, we gave out 10 bags of chips and we ate about a dozen. Anyone want some chips?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Our house

This is our house from a few angles, one from the side showing the side of the store and the long journey I have to make to get to work everyday, the commute is killer. The other two are from the front of the house near the shore. Notice the angle of the satelite dish, little different from Ontario, when we first arrived and I saw my first one I thought it was broken, it wasn't till I saw all of them facing down I realized the problem.

Hotel and Competition

This is Christopher in the playground. In the Background you can see two round buildings, they are linked together and are the Iglu Hotel. To the right of them is the local Co-op (the two story brown buiding) our competition, the have about 15-20% of the local business.

Mural in the high school

This is a mural in the wall of the atruim of the high school.

Parking Lot

This is Christopher crossing the parking lot beside the arena. In the background on top of the hill is the highschool. The round building is the catholic church in town which must be having a event due to the number of ATV's in front of it.

Sunset from our front window

This is a sunset from our living room, we tend to have alot of red in sunsets up here.