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Friday, February 29, 2008


It has been a terrible week. I'm tired and more than a little drunk. No post tonight. I'll be back tomorrow.

WARNING WARNING: If you are, for example, my parents, you probably won't think this video is funny. I, on the other hand, adore low-brow comedy, especially the We Are The World reference.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


One of Chris Leavins' cult followers has done a mash-up of ME. Thanks, Bo in Alberta. This is amazing work, and I am truly flattered.

"Scary, yes, scary is the word."

Reader-submitted question: Why would you want to do an impression of this pic? Why would it even cross your mind?

I think a better question would be why I wouldn't want to do an impression of this, the greatest image in the history of modern photography.

I got the idea while I was at work about a month ago. Once I thought of it, I couldn't stop giggling. It was really fun to set up, although it turns out that this photo is harder to imitate than it would initially seem. I was trying to imitate the Hoff's come-hither look, but those photos were more disturbing than you can imagine. They did not look like they were supposed to be funny, even when I put them next to the original. They looked like they belonged in the type of magazine that comes in a black plastic bag. I mean, the type of magazine that I hear comes in a black plastic bag. Not that I go looking for magazines like that or have experience with that sort of photo. Not at all.

The point is that if you are thinking about posting a picture of yourself on the Internet, it probably shouldn't look like the sort of photo that I assume would be printed in that type of magazine. My dad reads this blog. And if you take soft-core pictures of yourself, it's harder to pass them off as a joke. So I decided to go with the Hoff's signature intense stare instead of the leer you see in the image above. You can only go so far with cleavage and boy shorts before people stop seeing the humour in the situation and start to get really, really freaked out.

Thanks for your question.

P.S. I am incredibly saddened by the fact that I had to tell you that this was a joke. Really, do I have to lay it all out for you? Why wouldn't you be able to figure this out for yourself? There must be some sort of treatment for Humour Impairment.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blog Swap

Today's guest blogger will remain anonymous.

I've never been depressed before. I've never come close to being depressed before. I can't even stay angry at people for more than about 2 hours, much less in a bad mood for any length of time. I've read Dooce for years, though, and thanks to her honest writing about the subject, I feel like I understand more than I used to how depression works. How it must feel, and how helpless people are when tortured by a disease that they don't want, don't understand, and can't adequately treat. I thought I had compassion and understanding and a better grasp of how to react if ever faced with it.

My best friend is depressed, and I don't know what to do about it. I don't know what to do for her, and I don't know what to do for me.

She's actively being treated. She's on medication, and in therapy. It's not doing a lot of good. I found out after the fact that she had had suicidal thoughts for weeks - had an entire plan worked out, in fact, and was days away from going through with it - before she mentioned it to her therapist, who changed her medication instantly. I wouldn't have known if she hadn't told me about it later. If her therapist hadn't asked the right questions, I wouldn't have known until she was dead. How can that be? I should have known.

When I'm around her, she seems fine. When she's not fine, she won't see me. I try to press the issue and force her to keep her plans with me, force her to let me come over and watch bad tv with her. Should I just show up? When she doesn't want me there? I thought it would at least be helpful if someone else was there, to draw her out, make her not sit around thinking awful thoughts by herself.

I want her to know I'm here for her.

But then I wonder.. am I? We've all got a lot of shit going on in our lives. If she needed me to drop everything and help out, would I? I like to answer yes, to myself. But shouldn't I be doing more, in that case? Should I be showing up at her house uninvited, forcing everyone to be cheery? Should I drive by her house every day and pound on the door until she answers, then force her to get out of bed and go to work? What would I do when she doesn't answer the door? Break in? Give up? Try again the next day?

I don't really know where I'm going with this. Getting it all out is nice. Maybe if anyone reading this has suffered depression, you can let me know what your friends did that genuinely helped. Let me know how to be a good friend right now. My previous experience with Being A Good Friend hasn't covered this contingency.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blog Swappers

The Adventures of Shelagh
Alice’s Wonderland


And You Know What Else

Bright Yellow World
Daily Tannenbaum
Du Wax Loolu
Everything I Like Causes Cancer
Face Down
Fretting the Small Stuff
For the Long Run
Galoot’s Hoot Page
Granted Null
Grumpy Frump
Just Below 63
Life After AC
Liz Land
Mamma Ren
Muse On Vacation
Muze News
Nancy Pearl Wannabe
Not What You Think It Is
One New Duck
Rankin Inlet: A Journey Northwards
Red Red Whine
Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills
The Reluctant Blogger
Sass Attack
Sauntering Soul
Sparkling Cipher
Stefanie Says
Three Carnations
Tracy Out Loud
Way Way Up

My secret is on one of these blogs, and one of these bloggers wrote the guest post that will be going up at midnight. Please take some time to look through them. I'm pleased to see that some of my favourite bloggers are taking part in the swap, along with some I've never heard of before.

Newcomers: Welcome! You can subscribe to my RSS feed in a reader or by e-mail. I hope you'll stick around.

A quick note about tomorrow

Tomorrow's post will be written by a Secret Guest. I will be posting on someone else's blog. It is part of a blog swap involving writers from several different countries. What fun! I'll post a full list of participants tonight so you can check out all of the anonymous posts in the morning. The best thing about the blog swap is that you're sure to find at least one new blog that you really like. Remember that tomorrow's posts are swapped, so if you're looking for a new blog, make sure you read through several days' worth of posts.

I still have to work on my entry, so I will leave you with yesterday's episode of Cute With Chris, my favourite weekly Internet show. It shows the fallout from last week's episode, which was "flagged by YouTube's user community" thanks to Pervy the Perverted Plastic Horse. Pervy is not to be confused with Colty the Plastic Horse, who loves Jesus, pantsuits, towels and murder, not always in that order. In general, I think YouTube's "flagging" system works very well at keeping people from accidentally stumbling on graphic depictions of sex and violence. However, it would seem that Cute With Chris does not fall into one of those (admittedly general) categories, at least not on days when he's not severing his right foot.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Secret, secret, I got a secret

Reader-submitted question: Can you explain journalistic privilege?

Sure. This is going to be very short. There is no such thing as journalistic privilege.

That was easier than you thought, wasn't it?

Now, of course I'm going to explain more. This was a serious question, and I'm going to give it the respect it deserves.

The first thing I'm going to tell you is that if you really want to know about privilege, you should talk to a lawyer, not to me. The side benefit there would be that the lawyer wouldn't be able to tell anyone that you asked the question. (HAHAHAHA.)

Privilege means that when you give information to a person who is covered by the privilege, that person will keep your secret within certain limits. For example, when you talk to your lawyer, he or she will not tell other people what you said. Or if you're a different type of person, your lawyer might visit your house, root around in the ceiling and discover videotapes of you and your spouse drugging and raping teenagers. When your lawyer is eventually charged with obstruction of justice for hanging onto the tapes, he'll be acquitted and disciplinary charges will be withdrawn.

Journalists have claimed that they have a similar privilege. They usually mean that they'll tell everyone what you said (and broadcast those tapes they found in your ceiling), but they won't tell anyone who you are. The reporter's privilege is usually only mentioned when it comes to revealing the name of a confidential source, like Deep Throat.

Reporters claim this, but it isn't true. They don't really have a special privilege like lawyers do. What they call "reporter's privilege" has the same result for the person with the secret, but not for the reporter. It refers to the reporter's conscious decision to defy a court order that would otherwise force him or her to reveal information. Again, this is usually the name of a confidential source, but it could also be things like the reporter's notes and original research.

Journalistic privilege hits the Canadian news about once a year. Journalists' favourite stories always involve themselves, but they also care deeply about establishing it as an honest-to-goodness type of privilege, so they always cover court cases that involve other reporters. I think it's unlikely that they'll ever be successful, but it's interesting to watch anyway. They usually don't actually end up in jail: their employers are typically fined for contempt of court.

There’s one other important consideration. As a lawyer friend of mine pointed out today: Privilege attaches not to the lawyer, but to the client. That's why we can never tell anyone what a client told us, even when we stop working for them or they die - because only the client can waive the privilege. The privilege is totally for their benefit, not ours.

When journalists try to argue that they have a reporter’s privilege, they’re doing it for their own benefit, not for yours. They believe that their industry depends on the ability of the press to keep certain information from ever becoming public, even when ordered by a judge. They feel that they won’t get as many scoops if sources are worried about being “outed”. This is definitely an argument I can accept up to a certain point, but it is not even close to the same thing as solicitor-client privilege. Your lawyer doesn’t keep your secrets so he’ll get more business.

Thanks for your question.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Does time make you bolder?

Reader-submitted question: Did you name your blog after the Stevie Nicks song?

Yes, sort of.

This question comes up every few months as new readers find their way here.

I have read that "I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills" was originally intended as a cocaine reference, but I've also read that it wasn't. The lesson here is probably that cocaine addicts don't really know what they're saying and it's best not to read too much into it.

It doesn't matter, though. I think it's a particularly good name for my blog for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that this is a personal blog that's written in the north. If you've ever explored my links list, you've probably noticed that most of the "northern" blogs have a reference to the north in their titles. I don't really think of this as a northern blog -- I've been here too long to pull off the wide-eyed-newcomer shtick -- but I guess technically it is. On another level, it's a song about a woman who is thinking about making changes in her life and watching other changes go on around her, and I really identify with that. I think most people can.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I've been workin' on the railroad, not quite all the live-long day. Actually, I haven't worked at all. Pay me, please.

Rob & Tina had an excellent observation about the way many people here seem to feel about work:

So, the way I see it is that there are a select few people in town that need money and want to work. Everyone else simply wants money, and if they HAVE to work to get it, so be it, but it's on THEIR terms.

This is what I've been thinking for the past eight years, except that I wasn't able to sum it up nearly as coherently. I moved Up There less than a year after I graduated, and I couldn't believe the number of jobs that were available for the pickin', but nobody would pick them. Steve and I are from the east coast, where you take any job anybody will offer you and where fifteen bucks an hour is a good wage. If you're lucky enough to get a job, you work hard. It would never occur to you to show up only on days you felt like working.

Attitudes are slightly different here. OK, they're a lot different. If you don't feel like working, you just don't show up. Your employer can't do anything about it, because everyone else seems to feel the same way.

Does this sound crazy? That's because it is.

Newfoundlanders are known around here as the hardest-working people a boss can hire. I think it's because we come from a place where it's just expected that you'll work if you're lucky enough to get a job.

There are so many jobs here that nobody's ever had to worry that they won't get one. It's just a given: if you want to work, there will be a job for you. My brother-in-law used to be a substitute teacher at the high school Up There, and one day he came home and told us that he'd tried to talk the kids into taking school seriously because they would need to get jobs soon. They told him that they didn't need to study or to know anything at all, because they were guaranteed jobs in the oil & gas industry.

It's pretty depressing, isn't it?

Who ARE you?

Reader-submitted question: Is it just me, or do you know a lot of lawyers and jail guards?

Yes. I also know a lot of police officers, probation officers and court staff.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Blog Share: Last Chance

I know you want to be part of it, and you have to commit by Monday. Just head over to -R-'s blog and sign up. Wednesday is the big day.

You can do the blog share even if you don't post on your blog very often. All you need is a post you don't want to put on your own blog. It's a lot of fun and you're sure to find some great new writers.

Dear Grampy,

You are very good at writing sentences.

If something's real, that means it's real. Sometimes you can't see things that are real. But they're still real. But sometimes people make up stories, and that isn't real. And if it isn't real, I can't believe it. That is why I do not believe in angels. I think it is just a story.

I want some things to be real, but they're not, so I do not believe them. I cannot believe it if it isn't real.

From Michael

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why didn’t I see this coming?

Dear everyone,

My mom says if there’s no tooth fairy, I don’t get money for my teeth. I want to get money, but I can’t believe it if it isn’t real.

Now I am thinking that maybe there is no such thing as angels. I think they might just be a story.

My mom says that my grampy has studied a lot and he is sure there are angels, but I think maybe he made a mistake. I think he might just think that because he is a church person. Church people might believe things that aren’t real. I like to go and watch church sometimes when my grampy is there, but I’m not a church person. I do like the bread at church. It would be good to have bread like that that was the size of my house. It would probably take me three days to eat it all.

If it isn’t real, I can’t believe in it. I can only believe in things that are real. Things like Cleopatra that are in books about real things. I know that Cleopatra was real. There are some books that are just stories and some books that are about things that are real.

Maybe angels aren’t real. I don’t know that for sure, but I don’t know how I would find out. I don’t think God needs guards. That doesn’t make sense. And I am pretty sure that angels are guards for God.

From Michael

Happy birthday, Cindy

Happy birthday, Glen

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I've seen fire and I've seen rain

Reader-submitted question: I am impressed with Flame of God: didn't think there was that much fire & brimstone that close to the pole, but you seem to be carrying the torch admirably (heh). I have to wonder, though, how many of the people you are targeting actually appreciate which side of the skewer they are on, god bless 'em.

Interesting question. I'm not sure what the answer is.

Uriel's about fundies, not your normal mainstream Christians. I happen to know several of these, and they are quick to distance themselves from the personality you'll see over there. They'll send me messages that are clearly intended to reassure me that they're not fundies, like Ha Ha! That was hilarious! or Man, those people rot my socks. Thanks for pointing out that they're hypocrites.

Uriel popped into my head the day after the 2006 American election. I used to keep those posts here on this site, but I set up the other blog about a year ago after lots of people didn't get the joke. Somehow they were able to see that the Hasselhoff worship is all in fun, but they knew or knew of too many people like Uriel to be sure that it was satire.

Her blog gets almost no comments, so I honestly don't know what her readers think of it. A few Christians have contacted me to say that it's insulting or completely unrealistic. Most of the posts are based on something somebody's saying or doing, so I don't accept that it's unrealistic. I think the people who don't like Uriel would be better off dealing directly with the real-life fundies who are making their entire religion look bad.

Uriel doesn't specify which religion she's in, but she's based on real people in North America, so that doesn't leave many options available. That said, I don't consider her a true Christian, and neither would my friends who call themselves Christians.

Thanks for your question.

Happy birthday, Alison

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Worth what you paid for it

Reader-submitted question: I need some free communications advice. My boss made a mistake and now nobody can get past it. We're doing everything the right way now, but everyone's still upset about what happened a while ago. I am pretty sure this is a communication problem. How can I make people be reasonable? This is wrecking all of our work. I mean, I can barely get anything done because people are mad about something that's not even an issue any more.


You know, this doesn't sound like something you should be trying to fix with free communications advice you got off the Internet. This sounds like something you'll need your own communications person for. I'm sure you can find someone to help out. There HAS to be someone out there who's disillusioned and looking for a change.

I will give you some advice to hold you over until you can hire someone, though. Everything I am about to say is based on an assumption that whatever happened wasn't actually illegal or incredibly horrible. I'm guessing that it was just a mistake and not, for example, the sort of thing I don't want to write about on my blog because I don't want to become the queen of Google. I'm also guessing that people aren't rioting, they're just angry.

First, you're making it sound like this is someone else's problem. It's not. When you don't communicate effectively, it's your problem. It's not the other person's job to make sure he or she understands you; it's your job to make sure you're understood. You need to stop thinking that people are unreasonable.

You're also trying to move beyond whatever the problem was without really addressing it. You're a step ahead of your audience. When you've made a big mistake, you can't get past it in a hurry. You need to apologise and apologise and apologise. You need to wallow in it. You need to humble yourself before you can move on.

Yeah, I know: your boss doesn't want to humble himself (herself?). Too bad. If he doesn't humble himself, other people will do it for him and he'll probably end up getting fired. It's hard to give specific advice without really knowing the details, so I will simply say that the way your boss does this will depend on the situation. Maybe you need to call a public meeting. Maybe you need to buy ads in the paper. Maybe you need to meet privately with representatives of whatever group is upset with you. Maybe you need to donate a large sum of money to an appropriate local cause. Maybe you need to set up a watchdog organization. Most likely, you'll need to do several of these things several times and add on a few other things that are appropriate to the situation.

Whatever you do, your message will be I am sorry. What happened was wrong. It was not up to the standards you expect of me, and not up to the standards I expect of myself. I will totally understand if you have lost confidence in me. I want you to know that I have learned from this experience, and I promise that this will never happen again. I will prove this by (pick an appropriate way to prove it -- ideally, let the angry people pick it). From now on, things will be different. Starting now, I will (list the things you plan to do, and let the angry people add a few things to the list).

You see, you've missed a step. You can't force people to believe in you after they start to think you're a screw-up. You have to earn their trust, and it's going to take some time. They have to know that you know you screwed up.

You're going to have to wallow for a long time. This won't be over in a two-hour public meeting. After that, you are going to have to prove that things are different. How you prove it will, again, depend on the situation. It's a good idea to let the angry people choose how you'll prove it. This has three advantages: it gives them some feeling of control, humbles your boss, and makes it less likely that they'll actually call for your boss's head. Then, only after lots of proving that you're really sorry, you can get on to your normal work. If you don't do this, other people will keep bringing up whatever happened, and you won't be able to get any work done.

Do you think your boss would be willing to do this?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dear Grampy,

There's no kids allowed to read this.

How would I be able to explain it when I don't even know what the tooth fairy looks like? I don't even know if she is real or not.

I don't believe in the tooth fairy. Nice try but I think you are trying to trick me. My dreams are NOT real. When you are dreaming, you only think it's happening, but it's really not. Someone's just tricking you and making it seem like it's real. But really it isn't.

My mom tells me things and then I just get the idea. Just like when my mom said she got me a Wii, so I don't need a DS. Then I knew that Santa Claus wasn't real. All of the adults were tricking me and the other kids. I think the tooth fairy is like that. I think it's a story that adults say.

I will never believe in the tooth fairy. I KNOW there's no such thing. TELL ME. TELL ME. There's no such thing as a Santa and no such thing as an Easter bunny. THAT EXPLAINS IT. THERE CAN'T BE ONE. Santa Claus is like the king and he isn't real. How can the tooth fairy be real?

From Michael
Problem Fixed

Michael's crisis of faith

Dear everyone,

I made this video because I am pretty sure my mom is lying to me. Is the tooth fairy real or not? I think not. But I want you to tell me for sure, because my mom won't say.

From Michael

Sunday, February 17, 2008

“That is damned cool!”

Reader-submitted question: Your new links list is awesome. How did you do it?

I cannot take the credit for writing the code; it’s something Google/Blogger worked out. There are two ways to do it:

Blogger In Draft lets you try out new features before they’re made available to everyone on Blogger. You can set it to automatically search all of your favourite sites and put links to the latest posts on your sidebar. To do this, log into Blogger In Draft instead of the regular Blogger login screen. From the dashboard, click Layout and then Add a Page Element. Select Blog List. Once you set this, you won’t have to do any more work: it will all be automated. I couldn't get this to work for the main blog, but I set it temporarily for the Uriel blog and it's really neat. I took it down because once you're on Uriel's site, she doesn't want you to leave, and she definitely doesn't want to point you to any cool new blog posts.

I set mine up through Google Reader. To do this, you’ll need a Google Reader account and you’ll need to subscribe to the RSS feeds for all of the blogs you want to put on your sidebar. (I have already confused some of my readers, I know. Call me if you want help to set up an account with subscriptions.) From inside Google Reader, click Settings and then Tags. Make your Share tag public, and click Add A Clip To Your Site. It’ll give you a code you can paste into your blog. Then as you go through your feeds, click Share on all of the posts you want to put into your sidebar. It automatically refreshes itself on your site.

I am pretty sure I’ll have to go through about once a week and clear out the old shared posts so the file of shared items doesn’t get too big. But it’s really easy to do it this way, and I can choose which posts go on the sidebar. I am very happy with it.

Technorati has an automatic feature, too, but I don’t like it nearly as much. It puts all of your favourite blogs in a scrollable list. When new content is published, that blog moves to the top of the list. A good idea, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. Besides, it didn't seem to be working right, and I didn't want to have to constantly muck around in code to get my sidebar working.

I'll probably change it again if I find something better. I have no loyalty.

The countdown is on

Tonight. 9:00. NBC. David Hasselhoff. People who work on soap operas. Some guy named Val Kilmer.

You won't want to miss it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Communications jobs at Steve's university in southern Canada (current temperature: -1 instead of -31).

What an interesting idea.

This one's for Ricki

This classic scene from The Young and the Reckless is a MUST SEE. I am so glad I've subscribed to The Daily Hasselhoff. Otherwise I might miss these groundbreaking works of art.

Remember, the Knight Rider movie is on NBC tomorrow night, and David will have a cameo. It is certain to be the best movie of the year. Theatrical releases are so 2007. It's all about straight-to-video and TV movies now.

The saddest part, though, is that Will Arnett will not be heard in the movie after all. He has a car conflict:

Apparently he's not allowed to be the voice of GMC and the voice of KITT. How short-sighted. KITT isn't a car, he's part of a movement! So now Val Kilmer will get the career boost that will come from being part of this ground-breaking project. I don't mean to take anything away from Val -- he's a cute kid -- but frankly, I'm not sure he's ready to co-star with someone as huge as David Hasselhoff.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy birthday, Darin

A compromise

If you come to the blog instead of using a reader, you’ll see that I’ve changed the links list that used to be on the sidebar.

I read a lot of blogs, and I love a lot of blogs. Far too many to put on my sidebar. I’ve wanted to link to my favourites for a long time now, but I didn’t want to take anyone off. Who would have to go?

But really long lists of links are overwhelming. I don't like it when I see them on other sites: I just don't know where to start and most of the time the content hasn't been updated. I get frustrated after a few clicks and don't bother with the rest of the list.

I think I’ve found a compromise: I’ll be linking to the new posts on my favourite blogs a few hours after they go up. This will make things easier for those of you who use the sidebar, too: you’ll be able to see new posts at a glance. The latest 15 will be featured, so I expect it to completely refresh itself about once a day. The newest posts are at the top, and they slowly move down the list and eventually drop off the main page.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

I don't have many traditions here on the blog, but I think this is a good one.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Attention, PETA

Do not click on this link.

I'm really serious. You won't like it.

I miss my kamiks. I have Sorels now, and although they are great, the rubber split around -40. I put duct tape on them, but it doesn't seem to hold well in the cold, either. This was never a problem with my sealskins.

For the first few years we were here, we had matching boots that we bought at a tiny leather shop in Newfoundland the week before we moved Up There. We knew the owner really well (he was an artist who made beautiful things out of leather) and when we brought Michael back after he was born, he gave us a pair of tiny sealskin boots.

NWT Bloggies?

I have been inspired by the Nunies and the general awesomeness of Nunavut blogs. I would be willing to run a similar contest for the NWT if it's something you guys would be interested in. Any thoughts?

I'm sure I don't know all of the NWT bloggers, but the ones I do know of:

And me.

Okay, there's no way that's all of us. See what I mean? There's no blogging community here. Who am I missing? And if I do this, will anyone care?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

RIP, Halifax Daily News

I heard yesterday that the Daily News had closed down, but I didn’t realize how it had happened.

Ninety-two staffers showed up to work yesterday and were called into a meeting, where they were told that the paper was shutting down. No more Daily News. Instead, the parent company is launching a free daily called “Metro”, and a few of the staff will get to work there. Everyone else is out of luck.

Apparently the company has known for months that the paper was closing, but decided not to tell the staff until the last possible moment. Here are some quotes from executives:

Marc-Noel Ouellette, senior vice president of Transcontinental: “We’re sad for these people. But at the same time we’re enthusiastic. Metro is designed to read in 20 minutes. It’s a young option, and people can read it quickly.”

Greg Lutes, publisher: “It’s good news for Halifax. This is a paper that’s around the world. We will develop a group of new readers, it’s a young, non-traditional audience.”

Executives of the world, please allow me to give you some unsolicited communications advice: If you need to lay people off, do NOT tell them it’s good news. Do NOT tell them you’re enthusiastic. And do NOT say that you’ll develop a group of new readers/clients. These are things you secretly think to yourself while you count your money. Or, if you’re a decent person, you don’t think them at all. Instead, you tell people you’re really sorry it had to happen, and you give them more than half an hour’s notice that their jobs are disappearing.

My alma mater’s journalism school has produced a special issue of the regular journalism review.

Blog Swap

Hey, remember the blog swap? The oh-so-secret, oh-so-fun blog swap? The one that resulted in this simply marvelous guest post?

Another blog swap is coming up this month! How exciting. The big date is February 27.

The more participants, the better. If you want to be part of it, get in touch with -R-.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I am famous

Steve called this afternoon and said that I was on the radio. Me! How exciting, eh?

Well, except that being on the radio isn't all that exciting for me, sort of like going to the office isn't that exciting. And also that it wasn't me on the radio.

It was a speech I'd written. Apparently it sounded just like me.

I don't write many speeches, but when I do, I like them to sound conversational. Most of this is in the delivery of the speech, but I really can't do much about the way a person reads my speeches. All I can do is write the words and hope that they sound good coming out of someone else's mouth.

I don't usually get the chance to hear really good speeches. It's fun to listen to the words someone else wrote and think about all of the work they put into it. People don't work on speeches much anymore; they put bullet points on PowerPoint slides and call it a day. YUCK.

It's best that I don't continue this discussion any further. (Hello, Forces of Evil.)

Since my dad is taking a starring role around here now that I'm starting my own religion, and since I'm talking about speeches, I will provide a link to his weekly sermons. They're quite good.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My new favourite quote

I do not allow my views and my concerns about the future of the United States of America to be affected in any way by my personal ambitions.

-- Senator John McCain
As his campaign "imploded"
(as the journalists say)

Frozen fingers

I am a bit envious of my blogging counterparts in Nunavut. They've created a little community of bloggers from all over the territory. It is fascinating to watch, because they seem to have little or nothing in common except their blogs. This communication tool is bringing people together in a way that you don't see with, say, shortwave radio.

I read a lot of them, but I wanted to point out a few of my favourites. Maybe they'll become your favourites, too.

A Journey Northwards: Jackie's 22 and has just moved to a small Arctic community to take her first real job with the CBC. Sounds familiar.

Adventures in Medicine: Two doctors from Iqaluit blog about Arctic medicine.

Habeus Corpus Under Aurora Borealis
: A friend of a friend is a new Crown in Nunavut.

Jen (and now Aleks): I love the photos on this blog.

Kent: The story behind the story (like several Nunavut bloggers, he's a reporter).

Port Town Ghosts: Kate Nova's funny and smart.

Tales from the Arctic: Kennie's a teacher in Arctic Bay, where they just got the sun back.

The House: Clare (also from Arctic Bay) can tell the temperature just by starting the family snowmobile.

Way Way Up: Those Arctic Bay bloggers have me hooked. I assume this fellow works with Kennie.

If you spend much time at all on Nunavut blogs, you'll discover that they're each a piece of the ongoing conversation. It's truly a web of information. They post comments and write back and forth about local issues. They sometimes have disputes.

We here in the NWT don't even come close. I don't know if this is because we feel less freedom to write about issues that affect all of us, or because we don't have the same sense of community here in the territory.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The answer, my friend

Reader-submitted question: Your purple skirt used to blow in the wind?

Blow, float, soar...really, what's the difference? Trust me, nobody was checking me out, unless it was to comment on my shoes.

Leave the archbishop alone

I am simply THRILLED that the Archbishop of Canterbury wants Sharia law to be recognised in England. This is PERFECT.

In fact, I think that all people should be free to follow any laws they want, as long as they're religious. Civil laws, of course. Criminal laws would obviously continue to be set by the state. Otherwise, there would be anarchy. ANARCHY, I TELL YOU. The archbishop is a genius.

For example, there is a so-called "law" in Canada that says I'm not allowed to murder people, even if they annoy the hell out of me. I grudgingly accept this because it's a criminal law. The civil law, on the other hand, should be something I'm free to dismiss if I don't think it's in total compliance with my religion. Therefore, things like contract law and family law should be run any way I want. Yes. ESPECIALLY family law. Who said anything about the best interest of children? It should be all about ME, ME, ME.

And this is perfect timing, because I've just made up my own religion and the current civil-law system here in Canada is causing me a LOT of cultural stress. It just does not work with my values. It is great to have support from a fellow religious leader for my new laws.

Of COURSE I'm the leader of my new religion. Duh.

Friday, February 08, 2008


From yesterday's Ottawa Citizen:

In an article on page A10 of the Jan. 30 edition of the Citizen, a number of inaccurate statements were made about Ottawa surgeon Dr. Joel Freeman.

Dr. Freeman was never convicted of any offence over an alleged road rage incident in September 2004 and received an absolute discharge after pleading guilty to the charge of assault in April 2006. At that time, Dr. Freeman was acquitted of a charge of assault with a weapon, and a charge of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose was withdrawn by the Crown, after no evidence was led that he held a closed pocket knife during the incident. Further, Dr. Freeman was not forced to resign his privileges at The Ottawa Hospital but did so voluntarily in June 2005.

The Citizen apologizes to Dr. Freeman for any harm caused by these errors.

I'm looking at you

Okay, so I'm not looking at you. I'm looking at myself. My aging self. I am getting old, and I don't like it at all.

I noticed my first forehead wrinkle the other day.

Can you see it? I'm not sure you can. It's there, even if it's hiding under my hair.

Grimacing at myself in the mirror, I discovered that the wrinkle becomes deeper with certain facial expressions:

  • Anger
  • Irritation
  • Shock
  • Horror
  • Frustration
  • Confusion
  • Exasperation
  • Righteous indignation
This is a problem, because my typical day goes something like this:
  1. Phone rings. Someone shrieks that there is a problem -- a big problem! EVERYBODY PANIC.

  2. I ask the person to explain. The explanation shows that there really isn't a problem except in the person's head.

  3. I explain that there really isn't a problem.

  4. The person is unconvinced. EVERYBODY PANIC.

  5. I spend a few hours researching the huge problem. The person calls or e-mails every 20 minutes, demanding an update. EVERYBODY PANIC. Usually, there is very little to research because, as I might have mentioned earlier, it isn't actually a problem.

  6. I get a few curse words out of my system before calling the person and presenting Actual Proof that there isn't a problem, or if there is, it is an entirely different problem than the person would like it to be.

  7. Deep breath.

  8. Repeat steps 1-7.
There is absolutely no chance this wrinkle will go away. It is probably getting deeper by the hour. I better make myself comfortable and settle in for the long haul.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tell me more, tell me more, like does he have a car?

Reader-submitted question: Why did you change your little South Park picture?

Because it didn't look like me anymore. The old one was about two years old: I don't have spiky hair now. I figured it was time for a change.

And I'm all alone in the picture because I didn't feel like creating a little Steve or Michael. It takes time to put those little people together, and putting more than one person in the frame takes even longer. I was tired and just wanted to update my own picture.

Besides, this is my blog, not theirs.

Oh, and that's a tree on my shirt. It's...uh...a reference to Steve. Yeah, that's it.

What a boring response. Sorry.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Michael's Assignment

Michael had an assignment last week: Write a biography of a famous person.

I almost cried when I saw it. Byron is Steve's dad.

Byron's Biography
By Michael E.

Table of contents
Where and when he was born
When he was young

Hello, I hope this book inspires you. This book is about an adult named Byron.

Where and when he was born
Byron was born at Bay Roberts, Newfoundland.

In his family he has a wife named Mona and a son named Steve.

When he was young
He liked to play with friends and toys when he was young.

He started shooting moose about in 1988 or 1989.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Good grammar is IN DA HOUSE

Reader-submitted question: Yo gramma' lay-dee! What are your thoughts on split infinitives? Are they bad grammar or poor style? Anxiously awaiting your wisdom.

Yo yo, WHAT UP? I got it, dawg, I got it.

I wuz hangin' wit me homeys when dey axed me howta split an infinitive. Yeah, I SAID IT.

Dis is gonna be real fast, 'cause I don' like leavin' my babies in da car too long. Split infinitives is awright, dawg, longas dey make sense, ya knowwhaddamsayin'? Yo! 'S long as da sentence is clear, it's totally cool.

Thanks for yer question. Now, are you gonna pay for my cab, or what? Somebody's gotta pay fer that!

If it's good enough for NASA

I can't resist. There's something cool about this.

Monday, February 04, 2008

If it wasn't for the ice fog... would be able to see that there is a path in the snow from my front door to Karan's front door. Unfortunately, it's too foggy to see across the street.

This photo is so awesome, it has been published on the Globe & Mail's website. Yes. That's how impressive my friends are. When they take photos, the professionals take notice.

Sa. Striel. Suh.

Reader-submitted question: Purple skirt?

What, you don't get in-jokes from 15 years ago and half a world away?

I am simply thrilled that my old friend Chad has found his way here. (Hi, Chad!) I haven't seen him in about ten years.

It happens that some of the clothes I wore as a teenager caught the eyes of the boys I hung out with in high school. The purple skirt was one of these items of clothing, along with a pair of black stretch pants (and I do mean stretch) and what was affectionately dubbed "the herb shirt". What can I say? It was the early '90s.

Special note to those readers who happen to be my parents: Never fear; they were not checking me out. They were commenting on my fashion sense. I am now more certain of this than I ever was.

I loved the purple skirt, but I am pretty sure that I got rid of it around the time I moved to the NWT. Too bad.

This video is rated PG-13. NO CHILDREN.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


It was in the -40s and -50s all last week. This weekend we FINALLY got some temperatures in the -30s. Is it just me, or does it look like it's getting COLDER again???

Today's post is not appropriate for children

It was a normal afternoon.

Michael and I were on the couch, talking about the worldly goods he would like me to buy him but which I do not think he needs.

"I want a DS."

"I'm not getting you a DS."

"But I really want one."

"I bought you a Wii. I'm not buying you a DS."

"You didn't buy me a Wii!"

This should have been my cue to shut up. But it wasn't.

"Yes, I did!"

He gasped, and his eyes widened in shock. By the time I realised what I'd done, it was too late.

"No, Santa Claus brought that! But you said YOU bought it -- SANTA CLAUS ISN'T REAL! SANTA CLAUS ISN'T REAL! SANTA CLAUS ISN'T REAL! OH MY GOSH!"

Yeah, this is all my fault.


There was no way to get out of it. We 'fessed up to the entire story.

"So does that mean that you bought all of the presents? And YOU put them under the tree? Oh my gosh, I bet I am the first child to ever figure this out!"

We solemnly told him that although Santa is not a man in a red suit, he is the feeling that people get when they do nice things for other people. We also made him promise NOT to tell any other kids, especially Janet, who is only five.

"So does that mean that elves aren't real?"

No, they aren't real, either.

"What about -- what about the workshop? This means that all of those movies aren't real!"

I was expecting him to be upset, but he is thrilled with himself.

Parents in Name of Town Withheld: Please forgive me. I couldn't lie.

I get it. Wait, maybe I don't.

Reader-submitted question: So, do you like Fleetwood Mac or not? I know you SAY you like them, but you also say that you like David Hasselhoff, and I am starting to think that you only like him ironically. Are you making fun of Fleetwood Mac?


Well, you are correct. I thought I was very sneaky, but you have caught me! I can't slip anything past you, can I? This should be a lesson to me. Hold on while I write this down. I'm going to write it on my hand so I don't forget.


There, that should help me in the future. I really screwed up that time, didn't I? I promise to be more direct from now on. If I could, maybe I'd give you my world. But how can I, when you won't take it from me?

I don't think I've ever said anything that even implied that I don't like Fleetwood Mac. Where are you getting this stuff?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Hiding in plain sight

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: [CENSORED] you, you [CENSORED]ing [CENSORED] [CENSORED]. Signed, Anonymous.

I do not like anonymous Internet jerks.

I don't mind mildly critical anonymice, or jerks who are willing to put their names behind what they say, or even jerks who post under Internet names that link back to their own blogs.

I'm not talking about my own readers. I love comments, and I don't mind when people comment anonymously, even with something that's not so nice. You guys aren't the problem. Keep your comments coming! They make my day.

But I do get annoyed when a critical mass (ha!) forms. This is easier than it should be online. Voices of reason simply don't carry as well as hysterical ones do. And the anonymity makes it worse.

I follow an anonymous blog that's critical of one of my former employers. The Tea Makers has been going since the summer of 2005 and claims to be written by a member of the CBC's Toronto management team. I'm really not sure why I still read the thing, but it's probably out of some sense of solidarity with my former co-workers.

Although it was quite good early on, it has degenerated into a bitch-fest with at least one full-time troll. Goody. It's too bad, because they do have a good point: The MotherCorp could be better than it is, with more creativity, flexibility, and all those "ity" words its management team spouts at every opportunity (there's another one!). The problem is that that good point gets lost in the bile. The CBC's new president commented on the last post, asking if he was wasting his time.

I talked to a reporter about this a few days ago for a story he was writing. Anonymous criticism's too easy to do. It means a lot more when you're willing to put your name behind what you're saying. It's hard to drum up much support for your cause when you hide behind anonymity, especially when the person you're criticising has been honest about his or her own identity and opinions. If you really believe what you're saying, make it count. Use your real name.

I can't believe I'm defending CBC management. This is what the anonymice have brought me to.

Friday, February 01, 2008

You don't know the power of...

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: The dark side.

Let's get one thing out of the way right now: I am not a journalist.

Sorry to disappoint you.

Like most of my friends, I am a former reporter, although I was the first of our group to leave. I still work as a writer and editor, but I am not nearly as impressive or as subversive as I was a few years ago when I worked for the MotherCorp. I have been co-opted by the conformists and everything I do is suspect. I am The Man.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. I am on the dark side. This blog could contain subliminal messages urging you to...uh...I have no idea. But it's possible! As a non-journalist, I am definitely pushing some sort of agenda. You can't trust me.

Isn't that annoying? Yeah, I agree. I don't like it, either.

Journalists are trained to think of themselves as the only people who can be trusted to know what's in the public interest. The more annoying ones refuse to accept that they could ever be wrong or that anyone else could ever be more trustworthy than they are. These are the people who use the phrase "the dark side".

Technically, the dark side is PR. Journalists don't like shades of gray, so they don't understand that there's a difference between shilling for a company and providing information to the public. (Ha! See, I can make blanket statements, too! Isn't it annoying?)

Okay, I'm being unnecessarily harsh. What I'm trying to say is that some reporters are jerks with over-inflated egos. However, most of them are decent people who don't like the jerks any more than I do. These guys have made an impressive effort to take back the "dark side" phrase. I wish I could say they've been successful. They really do mean well. They always say it in a friendly way, intending to tease someone who is almost always a former colleague.

Journalists: I'm going to do you a world of good by telling you that it never works. Please stop saying it. I know what you're trying to do, but it rings hollow every time.

I felt that I had to post on another blog today after someone took the author to task for using the phrase. She meant well. She was paying tribute to a co-worker who is leaving journalism, and she tried to tease her gently. A reader got very offended. More offended than I thought was appropriate, given the circumstances.

I didn't take the space there, so I'll do it here on my own blog to explain why people hate this. I personally don't get upset, but I think the people who use the phrase honestly don't understand why it bothers their friends.

No matter how friendly you are or how teasing your tone is, the clear message is that you are better than the other person. You are purer, more trustworthy. Your friend is a sellout who would say anything for a buck.

Now, remember that you're saying this to a person who comes from the same background you do. That's why you're teasing her, right? She wouldn't get the joke if she wasn't a former reporter. She has already been through an agonizing decision to leave your pure industry and go into a sullied, less honourable industry. You think you're being funny, but it's offensive. Your friend is already worried that you think less of her for changing jobs, and now you're twisting the knife.

When you use the phrase, you channel that self-righteous attitude I was describing earlier. You hate those guys just as much as I do, but you become one of them when you tell your friends they're on the dark side. Please stop.

UPDATED: The author of the post I mentioned above has responded. Kate Nova is an awesome writer who lives in Iqaluit. I read her blog every day, and so should you. I didn't link to her yesterday because this post is about the phrase in general, not the way she used it a few days ago, and definitely not about her personally. I have no doubt that she did not know that people are offended. In fact, all of the decent people who say this have no idea why their friends don't like it. I am certainly not saying that I think you guys are snobs. In fact, I'm saying the opposite.