No matter where you live, you definitely want to watch this video.
Non-Canadians: Rick Mercer is a political satirist from the same town Steve and I are from. He is the Canadian version of Jon Stewart. There are very few famous Canadians, but I think he might qualify.
THIS BLOG HAS MOVED
New posts on snowcoveredhills.com:
Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
This is a repost from last spring. I am joining my fellow northern bloggers to protest the protesters. If you read nothing other than this blog post, please check out Way Way Up.
You're so cute, I think I'll bash in your head.
Well, except for that nasty business about how it's illegal to kill seal pups. They are so much cuter than the ones that actually get killed!
While we were in Florida, we saw a group of naked people standing near the road shouting at cars. It was the first time I'd ever seen such a thing. People don't strip for their pet causes in Name of Town Withheld. I was trying to size them up without being too obvious about it, because of course people who are naked don't want a lot of attention. I realized that they were holding signs that said I'd rather be naked than wear fur. Yuck. Suddenly I wasn't interested in looking at them, no matter how naked they were.
A few weeks ago, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to the mayors of all Canadian capitals, asking them to lower their flags to half-staff out of respect for the seals that will be killed during this year's commercial hunt off Newfoundland.
HAHAHAHAHA. I know, it's already hilarious.
The best part is that Iqaluit is one of the Canadian capitals. If you've never heard of Iqaluit, please watch this video a friend of mine made during a trip through town (it is less than one minute long):
So you can imagine how this letter went over in Iqaluit. (It's more fun to imagine how it went over in St. John's -- go, Danny, go! -- but I have a northern perspective these days.) Sealing has been a way of life in Nunavut and Newfoundland for hundreds of years.
Iqaluit city council reacted much more maturely than I would have. They invited PETA to visit the north to learn how anti-sealing campaigns hurt the Inuit.
As it turns out, this actually had some effect on the PETA spokesperson. When CBC called him, he said, "No one, not even PETA, has a quarrel with native people who truly have no choice but to hunt in order to survive."
Now, this is an interesting take. Because the Inuit don't NEED to take part in the commercial seal hunt any more than Newfoundlanders do. The commercial hunt's not about surviving in the way the PETA fellow would like you to believe. And PETA's lurid campaigns have nothing to do with subsistence hunting -- the guy who shoots a seal, brings it home and eats it. Those blood-drenched commercials are focused on stopping the commercial hunt and reducing the market for seal pelts, meat and body parts.
Boy oh boy, is it ever easy to sit in the city and pass judgment on the people from a completely foreign culture. The commercial hunt is seasonal work. It's tough, it's bloody, and it's dangerous. Right now, 39 sealing boats are trapped in the ice near Newfoundland. People don't do this because they're sickos who like to kill animals, and they don't do it so they can eat seal meat all year long. They do it for the same reason other people have jobs: to get money to pay the bills, because there's no other work. PETA doesn't think of this as "hunting in order to survive", but the fishermen do.
Seals are an easy target for PETA for three reasons:
- They're cute when they're babies;
- They're killed on the ice, which makes a nice contrast for blood; and
- The only people who have a real stake in the industry are destitute fishermen with no other job options.
My buddy Danny Williams has been the most vocal opponent of the anti-seal lobby. He appeared on Larry King Live with Paul McCartney about a year ago. Here's the transcript -- sorry, I don't have a YouTube link. The worst part of this, for me, was Sir Paul's utter ignorance about why people would kill seals. He feels that they don't make very much money, so they should just stop. The program revealed that the usual paycheque for a season of sealing is $10,000 to $20,000 for every member of the crew.
Now, I can understand that Sir Paul doesn't think this is very much money, but it's a heck of a lot for the rest of us. So I have a solution that would stop the entire industry and put clothes on the backs of those poor protesters in Florida: Sir Paul could pay each potential sealer $20,000 per year to sit at home and not kill seals. This would shut down the commercial hunt and PETA could count it as a "win".
But of course, this would never happen, because it would require the same kind of sacrifice from Sir Paul that he's demanding from the people of Newfoundland and Nunavut.
Posted by Megan at 8:28 AM
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Phil (who now produces the show I blogged about a few days ago) has a Logos of the North series, so this will be Logos of the South. Actually, just one logo.
I had to take a picture of this truck the other day because the logo caught my eye. It's an Inuk scurrying back to his igloo with a palm tree. I feel like I'm missing something. I guess it means that this truck company will bring anything to anyone, anywhere, but I'm just not feeling it. It seems really out of place in Florida.
Posted by Megan at 9:01 AM
Friday, March 28, 2008
Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Pull quotes.
It's been a while since I mentioned Name of Paper Withheld: they've been satisfyingly mediocre for the past couple of months and haven't deserved my wrath. However, this lovely pull quote on the front page of today's paper is just ridiculous.
Pull quotes are short quotes from the body of a story, presented in larger font as part of the overall page design. They're a great way to pull readers into a story, especially a story that's a bit hard to understand at first. They can also pull readers into the entire newspaper by featuring the best thing that's been said since the last edition hit the streets. They are the print equivalent of the quotes that air just before the TV news begins. They're dynamic and exciting, and can set the tone for the reader. The idea is to showcase your very best material in hopes of pulling more people into the paper. A really good quote on the front page can even convince people to buy the paper. It sums up the best story of the day in a handful of words. It can be a beautiful thing. Think "I am not a crook" or "We will be greeted as liberators".
Now, let's break down the best thing Name of Paper Withheld thinks it has: "I'd far prefer to honour them than these birds."
Hmmm. I'm not feeling it. Anyone else? For starters, there's no context here. I need to figure out what this person is talking about before I can decide if it's a good quote. That's a problem.
Never fear: It turns out that it's a quote from one of our city councillors, who apparently has a "preference for prominent [name of town withheld]er's over raptors for street names". Hold on. My eye twitch is acting up again. For a second there, I thought Name of Paper Withheld had gone back to using apostrophes as decoration. I'll just glance at it really quickly and look away, just to make sure.
Dammit, won't they ever learn how to use punctuation?
And what the HELL kind of English is that, anyway? Who prefers people over raptors for street names? That doesn't even make sense. The only way this could have been worse would have been if Name of Paper Withheld had used "then" instead of "than". (I have to find something positive in this. It's the front page, after all.)
Braving the story on page 10, I discovered that Councillor Brooks cast the only vote against a bylaw that would name streets in a new subdivision after birds. But don't worry! City Hall is still going to name streets after people! They just want to name a few streets after birds for a change.
This is the kind of hard-hitting news that requires a free press. Hold the front page.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Reader-submitted question: Do you stage your photos?
YOU THINK I STAGE MY PHOTOS???
No, I don't stage them. However, sometimes the subject of the photo will make a funny face when he or she realises I am taking the picture. There are a few examples of this phenomenon in this post. Other times, I will ask the person to smile, but I usually try to capture a moment.
I am not a great photographer, but courses in photojournalism were required for my degree. I take many photos, so I can choose the best ones. I often crop them, too: the original shot of me in that post had my mom over my shoulder. You can still see part of her head on the left side of the picture.
But no, I don't put photos on this blog that make it look like something happened that didn't happen. And while I'm on the subject, I don't write things on this blog that make it seem like something happened that didn't happen. What kind of former journalist do you think I am?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Reader-submitted question: Your mother told your son where babies come from? Ahahahahaha OMG...Like *OH* *EM* *GEE*!!!!!!!!!! So did it turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing? LOL.
P.S. That David Hasselhoff gallery thingy is obscene. I had a Hasselhoff mustache-mare thanks to you!!
Don't worry. Dreaming about David Hasselhoff is very normal. All men aspire to his hairy manliness, and he is a star of stage and screen. There would only be cause for concern if you WEREN'T dreaming about him.
My son is in denial, I think. He hasn't mentioned it, nor has he suggested to anyone else that I am up to anything that would make a baby. Perhaps it was good that my mom started to explain it.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Why, LOOK! It's an icy drink! How ever did THAT get HERE? Well, if I don't drink it, it's just going to melt. Really, I'm performing a public service.
And look! She's got one, too! I wonder if that one tastes the same way mine does.
Hey, I want the camera back!
If I clasp my hands this way, I'll look really angelic and nobody will notice that I've almost finished four margaritas. It's like camouflage.
I don't like any of the pictures people take of me. I probably won't like this one, either.
I've got a better idea. Michael's the best camouflage there is! Everyone look at how cute he is! Nobody look at the drinks in front of me!
I stole the green thing off Grampy's glass! I wonder why nobody's eating them. They look yummy, like oranges. I can't wait to bite into it. That'll really show them that I am the sneakiest person at the table.
Monday, March 24, 2008
We spent the day at Universal Studios and were pretty tired by evening. So we went to the neighbourhood pub for supper.
It was two-for-one night. If you don't drink the second beer, it just goes to waste. And we couldn't have that, now could we?
The bartender had his eye on us.
He had a few ideas of his own. And that's how this:
turned into this:
Which turned into this:
And then this:
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Once upon a time, I worked in a small CBC station in the Arctic (click to listen). I did a lot of behind-the-scenes work, lining up interviews for one of our show hosts.
The most memorable of those hosts was a fellow named Roy. He was an old-fashioned guy who took a lot of pride in his Inuvialuit heritage. He'd hunt polar bears with a bow and arrow and knew exactly which type of snow to use when building igloos.
One day, I lined up an interview with a local Inuvialuit elder who'd just published a book. He was a wizened little guy, and I'm pretty sure he knows how to put a curse on people, so I was keen to stay on his good side. I didn't have time to read the book, though. I knew it was about his life, and I figured I could write general questions that would work well. The book was titled Call Me Ishmael: an obvious Moby-Dick reference that signalled that it was about old-time whaling. Perfect. Whaling was a traditional Inuvialuit activity and it would work really well for our show.
Note to journalists: Do not line up interviews with authors unless you've read the book. Roy took one look at the list of questions I'd prepared and stared at me like I had two heads.
"What are these questions?"
"They're for Mr. Alunik. About his life as a whaler."
"He's not a whaler."
"What are you talking about? His book is Call Me Ishmael. He's a whaler, isn't he?"
"No. It's called Call Me Ishmael because his first name is Ishmael. Why would you think he was a whaler?"
"Because of Moby-Dick."
"Because of what?"
Fortunately, Roy was a pro. I have no memory of what they talked about, but I do know that it wasn't about whales.
Friday, March 21, 2008
We are sitting in an Indian restaurant, listening to the world's most annoying white woman.
She is very unhappy to see us here, because we are also white. Just by sitting in the restaurant, we have single-handedly destroyed its authenticity. This is a problem for her, but she is a big enough person to get past it. She just needs to re-establish herself as the expert in the room. If she doesn't, one of us may reveal that we have met someone from India, and then she will be completely shamed. She has to make the first move.
She sits at the table next to us and begins to shout to her companions. There is no need for her to shout: the tables are quite small. However, it is the only way she can be sure we will hear her.
"MY BROTHER MARRIED A WOMAN FROM INDIA. WHEN SHE CAME TO VISIT US, SHE HAD GOLD ALL UP AND DOWN HER ARMS. SHE ASKED US WHERE OUR SERVANTS WERE. WE HAD TO TELL HER WE DIDN'T HAVE SERVANTS!"
And on and on. Eventually, she mentions that she lives in London, which is when we realise to our horror that Annoying White Woman is Canadian. There's no way she could be from England.
"MY BROTHER'S WIFE'S SISTER MARRIED BASICALLY THE INDIAN STEVEN SPIELBERG. HE WAS A BIG-TIME MOVIE PRODUCER."
Her tablemates feign interest.
"I WANT BEEF. HOW COME THERE'S NO BEEF HERE?"
Waiter: "Because this is an Indian restaurant, ma'am."
"MY BROTHER'S WIFE ATE BEEF, AND SHE WAS FROM INDIA. WHAT REGION OF INDIA ARE YOU FROM?"
"Northern India, ma'am."
"SHE WAS FROM NORTHERN INDIA, TOO, AND SHE ATE BEEF. I THINK YOU SHOULD SERVE BEEF. INDIANS EAT BEEF."
Posted by Megan at 9:54 AM
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Reader-submitted complaint: I have no idea what a meme is. How am I possibly supposed to participate or appreciate this if you provide no context?
Sorry. I guess I assumed that people knew this.
A meme is an idea that spreads from person to person. Richard Dawkins came up with the term decades ago, but it hasn't really caught on except in a way he couldn't possibly have anticipated. Bloggers take part in Internet memes when they do the same thing other bloggers are doing. The most common way of doing this is to fill in lists about the same thing. For example, people might write seven things they do every day, or three odd facts about themselves. I suppose this is a meme, too, but we didn't think of it that way at the time:
I read a lot of blogs from people who participate in memes, so I guess I just assumed that people know what they are. My apologies, dear readers.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Saskboy has tagged me with a true Saskboy-style meme. It's the only meme in the world where you make up your own rules. He has threatened to afflict David Hasselhoff with another drinking problem if I don't comply. Obviously, I have no choice.
I present: Megan's Multiple Personalities Talk About The Meme.
1. David Hasselhoff Freak: It doesn't matter what this meme is really about. I can make it about the Hoff. All men aspire to his hairy manliness, and he is a star of stage and screen. He's even better in slow motion.
2. Little Miss Know-it-All: Lists are a lousy way to get information to the public. Especially top-10 lists. They're too cutesy, too formulaic. Think harder and come up with something better.
3. Uriel: I refuse to take part in this -- I won't even say it. I was interested at first, but that was before I found out that Richard Dawkins invented the word. It is clearly an atheist plot, and it is basically the same thing as forcing children to sin. Do you really want to go into the lake of fire? No, I'm really serious. I'm booking seats on the observation deck in heaven, and it would help if I knew when your roasting is scheduled. It really is a shame that you're going to hell voluntarily. Anyway, which of the believers wants popcorn?
4. Sister, mother, daughter: HAHAHAHA! Just kidding, Dad!
5. Fleetwood Mac fan: I wonder if I can bring Rumours into this somehow. Nope, probably not.
6. Canadian: Memes are nice. And I am nice. So are you. I'm OK, and you're OK. No need for anyone to get mad at anyone else, right?
7. Meta-blogger: It's pretty interesting that memes have caught on as much as they have. On one level, they create links to and from other blogs, which increases traffic and is generally good for bloggers. But clearly, people aren't just taking part in memes to get a link exchange.
OK, I'm done. Now, I have to tag three people, so I'm tagging A., Matt, and Jackie. If you don't participate, Rebecca Eckler will haunt your dreams, you'll have to go back to drinking vodka in the bushes, and you'll never get a cab. Pretty scary, eh?
Remember, the rule is that you make up your own meme rules. You are encouraged to modify the prophecies of doom for your tagees. Go forth and meme.
Posted by Megan at 6:53 AM
Friday, March 14, 2008
Russell Smith is at it again.
He's fed up with the CBC. I am, too, but for different reasons than Russell is. He's upset that they don't play the kind of music he likes. He figures that if Radio 2 does not play enough classical music at the times he plans to turn on the radio, the entire network should be scrapped. I'm not joking. This is really his argument.
Russell, as you'll recall, is the Toronto columnist who never misses an opportunity to let everyone in Canada know that he is better than they are. Whether it's the proper way to tie your shoelaces or to punctuate a run-on sentence, Russell is the man with the plan. Everyone else pales beside him.
I know it's Russell instead of a ghostwriter, because only Russell would write a sentence like this:
We've all seen the writing on the wall for some time now, and resistance is futile: The CBC no longer feels there is any point to devoting an entire radio station to the more musically and intellectually complex style of music colloquially, though entirely inappropriately, known as "classical" (more on that tendentious terminology in a moment), because, according to its mysterious studies, no one is interested in that any more.
A good rule of thumb is that if you have to stop for breath twice while reading a sentence out loud, your sentence is probably too long. I did not make this rule up: I learned it at a school with ties to England, one of Russell's favourite places. We wore formal robes to dinner with the president and sipped sherry after chapel. This is all true, and should make me eminently qualified to offer advice to Russell Smith.
Russell is furious, because Radio 2 is only going to play classical music while everyone's at work. The rest of the time, they are going to play music from artists like -- wait for it -- Diana Krall. Yes. Russell cannot believe our national broadcaster has fallen so far. You can buy Diana Krall's CDs at Chapters! What's the fun of listening to a radio station that plays music ANYONE can own? The whole point is to listen to musicians nobody has ever heard of -- that is the only way to establish yourself as a cool person in Toronto. Russell would never dream of telling anyone that he listens to Feist. Heck, everyone knows who she is. Russell can only be cool if he listens to music that is so pure, unique and genuine that nobody else likes it. THAT'S what should be played 24 hours a day on the public broadcaster.
Russell is especially contemptuous of any music that features a verse, a chorus, and then another verse. I suppose he is much happier when music features "codas" instead. That's totally different. In any case, Russell sees this programming decision as proof that Canada is not an enlightened country. He wants Radio 2 to be shut down, because there are plenty of private easy-listening radio stations in Toronto. Why would the country need another one?
And people in Toronto wonder why everyone else hates them.
It has been many years, but I remember standing in the kitchen my dad built in Dexter, Maine, talking to my aunt Sharon, who is still very dear to me. She was telling me in a serious voice that she was very old, because she was 32. The Capitalist and I just looked at each other, stunned that anyone could be so old.
I am 30. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to feel.
And happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. See you tomorrow.
Posted by Megan at 12:57 AM
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The phone woke me up, and I ran out to the front desk. They had something for me: MY BAG!!!
Yep, that's mine. I'm tired and bleary-eyed, but this looks like a RUSH tag. That explains why it took five days to complete a three-hour flight.
AND ALL MY STUFF IS INSIDE!!!
My hoodie! The one I've been wanting!
And there are my sandals! And my underwear! Wait. What about my bathing suit? I really want to go swimming today.
THERE IT IS! YAAAAY!!!
I am so happy to get my stuff back. I have been feeling pretty angry and helpless for the past week. Not really the way a person should feel at the Happiest Place On Earth.
Posted by Megan at 4:41 AM
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
HAHAHAHAHA. Of COURSE my bag hasn't arrived yet!
My shoes are in there. I really, really need my shoes, especially when we get back home. If I have to replace everything in that bag, I am going to be really angry. I brought very little clothing from Name of Town Withheld, but I spent a lot of time and money in Edmonton on Friday so I'd have something to wear while we are on holiday. Grrrr.
So far, I've bought four shirts, two pairs of shorts, and one pair of sandals. I could be in a Gap ad. I had to buy underwear, too, but I refuse to provide an itemized list for the pervs who stalk my site, doing searches for things like "wife sex addict" and "Christian domestic discipline". I see you, freaks.
Sorry for the focus on my luggage, but I really can't think about anything else. I just sit here and stew in my anger.
Posted by Megan at 8:20 AM
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Three bags have arrived. None of them are mine.
Posted by Megan at 4:54 AM
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 09, 2008
We're here, but our bags aren't.
We got here at 5:00 this morning sans luggage. There are many reasons I hate Toronto, but one of the biggest is that for some reason they are completely unable to handle snow. First our flight TO Toronto was delayed by two hours. Then our flight FROM Toronto was delayed by two hours. We ended up making a run for the connecting flight, only to sit in the holding area for hours.
The good news is that apparently three of our four bags have been located and are on a plane to Orlando. We don't know which one is missing. Good times.
Posted by Megan at 8:56 PM
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
It may be quieter than usual around here for the next few weeks. We are going on holiday and I won't be able to get to the blog every day. I will still be updating, but I may miss a day here or there.
Criminals of Name of Town Withheld: Don't even think about breaking into my house to steal my Fraggle Rock DVDs. My in-laws will be here. Steve's dad may be thin, but he's tough, and he will cut you.
Posted by Megan at 6:25 PM
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Reader-submitted complaint: OMG Little Miss Know-it-all missed National Grammar Day! I am shocked and appalled at this lackadaisical approach to the correction of grammar. Get with the program!!
Oh, dear. It's true.
I linked to Stefanie yesterday but didn't do my own post. I agree: obviously, I shirked my duty by ignoring this important day.
I left a comment about grammar on Phil's blog yesterday, but he made fun of me and now my confidence has been destroyed. Yes. How sad. I may never be able to write about grammar again. The world could be deprived of my important contributions to semicolon and homophone usage. It's a true tragedy and it is ALL PHIL'S FAULT. He knocked me off my game and now I'm worried that I may never get the magic back.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Monday, March 03, 2008
Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Shut him up! Dammit, we can't shut him up? Maybe we should hand him a megaphone instead.
CNN is the latest employer to prove itself completely incapable of dealing with bloggers. You see, they discovered that one of their producers was blogging in his spare time. (GASP.) Even worse, he occasionally wrote about the television industry! (DOUBLE GASP.)
They immediately fired him, ensuring that his dangerous opinions would never see the light of day again.
HAHAHAHAHAHA. The only thing this did was draw more attention to the guy's blog. They might as well have put up a billboard telling people to check it out.
Who would have thought that firing him would make the situation worse? This was certainly an unpredictable result. And who would have thought that until he was fired, he didn't mention who he worked for or what went on at work? Until CNN decided to draw attention to him, he was really nothing more than a blogger with a less-than-favourable view of Oprah. Firing him turned him into a star.
This situation could have been dealt with quietly and politely. It reminds me of the CBC's heavy-handed plan to scare its staff out of blogging about their kids.
Employers: You will never be able to win by pretending that you can control everything your staff say in their spare time. And frankly, I think it's dangerous for you to even suggest that when your staff blog, they're representing you. If anything, you should be pushing for more general understanding that personal blogs are, uh, personal blogs. (Duh.) You never ever want it to seem like someone else's personal blog represents your own opinions. Firing people for going off-script on their own blogs just feeds into this idea. The more you try to insist that your staff follow the party line, the more you open yourself to criticism about the one or two weirdos you don't know about. Instead, you ought to be making it very very clear that personal blogs DON'T represent the company and that you have absolutely nothing to do with them.
Employees: I'm not saying that you should be able to post anything you want on your personal blog. In fact, there are a few things I won't defend you for:
1. Posting trade secrets or details about clients. This just isn't cool. Whether it's medical information about your patients in ways that identify them or the recipe for your boss's secret blend of herbs and spices, it's not OK. You can still write about what you do, but you can't give away information that's not yours to give.
2. Pretending to speak for your employer. Again, not cool. This turns your happy little personal blog into something that's half work, half personal. It's not fair to your readers or to your boss. It gets into what I was saying to employers a bit earlier: personal blogs should never ever be seen as extensions of the person's work. If anything, you need to make it really clear that nothing you say on your blog is your employer's opinion. This doesn't mean you can never write about work or use the expertise you've gained at work, but it does mean that you should be smart about the way you do it.
3. Saying rude things about people at work on your oh-so-secret blog. For pete's sake, find a more creative way to do this. If you're a writer, you can probably figure out a way. It seems like I'm always reading about people who've been fired for posting really stupid things about their bosses. I can never figure out why they couldn't come up with a way to write around the situation.
None of this is intended to show that you can't write about things you do at work. In fact, some of my favourite blogs are from people who've figured out how to write about their industries:
Sunday, March 02, 2008
My lovely and multi-talented friend Amy has created NWT Blogs, a directory of blogs from our territory. Please go and check it out. She plans to expand it over time to include a feed of the best posts from the NWT.
She has created badges for people who blog from here or just like to read about what's happening here. That means there's a badge that's perfect for you. :)
Basically, Amy rocks. Thanks for setting this up!
Posted by Megan at 11:53 AM