Friday, February 29, 2008

HTTP://WELL.CA

Is this shameless promotion? Yes, yes it is. However after dealing with astronomical quantities of businesses as a shopaholic, this site is earning my vote for best. Yes it might just be an online pharmacy but holy crap is it ever the best.

Lets start from the beginning. Some of you might have remembered the post I made last year about online shopping for us in Nunavut. Well.ca also read it. Why? Because they were actually out searching for someone who would give them a strong customer relationship and found me. Someone actually took the time to send me an e-mail (not one pre-written with my name inserted, a real e-mail) to tell me about their site. This sounds logical, you would think most businesses are out looking for customers, however you are wrong. Most businesses that I have dealt with be it online of or in store, really could care less if you are a devotional shopper for them. No star treatment, unless of course you sign up for their promotional cards that really don't give you any promotions but are still costing you money. No thanks.

So I received an e-mail...FROM A REAL person. That was what caught my attention, but what has me writing a whole post about this company? They only charge $3 shipping to anywhere in Canada....and that's a big deal for us Nunavummiut!!! HUGE DEAL! Seeing as the only other online pharmacy (who isn't actually selling medication, you can see it on their site, but you can't actually purchase it) charges $30 as a starting rate for shipping. And I really don't have a problem with that other company...it's just HELLO $3 is much better!

Getting Medication in Nunavut is an issue for me. You can't get certain things, and what's available you have to get from the nurses station. Or you can have mom and dad mail it up...but they have better things to be doing. So there is another positive check for Well.ca, they actually sell medication. This company also shows me that customer service isn't dead with the extra personal touches they add, the little thank you they hand wrote on my order form was so nice. But the number one reason they are the best company of all time is that they knew I had a huge issue finding MINI EGGS online last year, so THEY ADDED THEM ON THEIR SITE......JUST FOR ME!!!!!

Here is the box I got last month. Tallinn was really excited about it, even though their wasn't anything in it for him. I was excited too..... just go check them out already.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Can Has Kitteh?

Jen is at at my place in Ottawa and she has a new addition to the family, a new Bengal we are jokingly calling "Maui." It's Sookie's first cat encounter and it's not going smashingly well. Sookie is very engaged by Maui's presence, but more in the way the witch in the gingerbread house was fattening up Hansel and Gretel. Numy num num....

"I can has a flavor?"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Shake those booteh's

Sookie got little dog booties. I'm not 100% clear on why, but I am 100% clear on the 'fun' we had teaching her how to walk again.

"Aw, are you kidding me?"


Baby steps... baaaaby steps....

"You suck, human"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

WE LIKE DA MOON...

"...Coz it is close to us. We like DA MOOOON. But not as MUCH AS A SPOON."

Or maybe clouds?


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Not in Nunavut


Well I am not just back yet, I have much shopping and Starbucks refueling to do yet. Meanwhile I am out taking just as many photos as I normally do, averaging about a million photos a day I'm sure. I was out for a walk with my family yesterday and realized that I had fallen behind the group. I had stopped to take some photos and when I turned around, everyone was far ahead and I had been left behind. Their voices and footsteps had been replaced with silence. It made me start to think about how I decided to be a photographer. Most of my life I have been catching up to the rest of the crowd. I learned to read later then the kids in school, it took me a little longer then the rest of my friends to get my drivers license and I was the last of all of my friends to get my first boyfriend (but the first to get married oh yeah). I am a dawdler. When everyone and everything hurries ahead, I can slow down and see the world. When you take a photo, it is important to slow down and look at something. Clear all the other worldly distractions and really take a look. One bazzar thing that I do is turn my head side ways, or look at some thing upside down. Sometimes colours pop out to you when you are looking at the world from a different perspective. You might be only looking at muddy farm land, but if you turn your head around, you might just see that blue sky. And if you let the world pass by you, no one will see how ridiculous you look walking around with your head at a 90 degree angle. Seriously try it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

From Snow to Sand & Back Again...

I have returned from the island of sun. I won't go into too much detail for you northerners as I am sure my tales of sand and sun would be much too irritating. Here are a few photos, much different then the ones I usually post....much greener.



Sunday, February 17, 2008

English has a problem

There's a shortcoming of the English language in the modern age: it's hard to be gender neutral.

English's 3rd person, for some reason, makes a distinction between male and female. You would think in today's society that a person's gender, much like a person's race or religion, should be left out of conversation unless somehow relevant.

"The VP was emphatic during (his/her) presentation that..."

Yes, it's not necessary to point out a particular person's gender when you're talking about them, especially in their capacity (e.g., a VP), but at least a specific person has a specific gender. But what about an unspecified person?

If you've ever watched a propaganda film from the 40's-50's you know what I mean. The film usually centers around an unspecified individual, yet typically assigns a male gender.

"The voter casts his vote...."

Today it's considered an exclusionary practice to speak like that since it may give the (incorrect) impression that the narrator believes women do not vote. It would be much easier if their was a gender-neutral 3rd person singular possessive. Here are two (grammatically incorrect) alternatives:

"The voter casts their vote..."
"The voter casts its vote..."

Personally, I like the first one. Yes, it's grammatically incorrect, but solves the problem. One other grammatically correct but sometimes awkward solution is to pluralize to take advantage of the neutral 3rd plural possessive:

"The voters cast their votes..."

So why am I telling you this? Well recently, through the course of reading and writing academic publications, I've been encountering a new writing trend: some writers are getting around the problem by using 3rd person female.

"The voter casts her vote..."

Their justification is simple; it's cleaner to write in 3rd person singular, and if you have to pick genders, it's more acceptable to pick female than male.

This introduces a dilemma. Which is more important:
  • clean grammar with a definitive (but 'polite') gender bias,
  • less clean (or versatile) grammar with no gender bias?
I prefer the latter. To me gender fairness is more important than readability. But that's just one person's opinion. It would be so much easier if some conservatory in England would just "proclaim" a new gender neutral singular 3rd person possessive. Frankly I don't see why that cannot be done. There's obviously a need for such a word. It exists in (certain) other languages.

I invite the reader to contribute her opinion :-)

Update: See "singular they"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A land I can claim, a land I can tame!

It's not enough to have to shovel snow out of your driveway. That's for winter amateurs.

If you want a real Canadian winter experience, you gotta kick it up a notch: you have to shovel out the snow pile you made from having to shovel your driveway.

Think about it; shoveling snow is about creating access to something. Most people need access to their driveway. In my case, I need access to the snow pile!

I made a post the other day about how the snow pile has exceeded my own height. I don't think my diagram did justice to the circumstance I find myself in. Maybe a photograph would better convey the situation:


You can see the driveway at my feet. This is perfectly level ground, and I'm 6' tall, so you can plainly see the pile is approaching 7'. It's hard to believe... at some point SEVEN feet of snow is going to have to melt before the lawn gets the first rays of sun in a season.

This was getting ridiculous... I can't shovel that high anymore. I had to try to do something. I had to shovel this snow pile onto a new snow pile!

So I climbed up on the mountain, sunk in to my knees, and got down to taming the land. I saw some of my neighbors (with their own mountain problem) looking at me. I have to think it would have been obvious to them what I was up to. The key is not to remove the snow, just spread it around, like a child attempting to make it look as if they ate most of their dinner.


There we go. Much better. And just in time too, freezing rain is threatening to "lock in" all our snow mountains over the weekend.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rolling Scissors

There's an old jetfighter tactic called "rolling scissors" where the planes roll over each other in circles as they fly along.

It looks like ballet, but both pilots are trying to reduce their airspeed to get behind the other plane so they can shoot.

The History channel has an awesome show called Dogfights where the use computer animation to recreate historic dogfights... it's seriously the coolest show ever. Some of the stories just blow your mind.

Anyway, I was eating lunch today watching a story about a dogfight from the Korean war where an F-86 Sabre was battling an enemy MiG. It was the early early days of jet dogfights, so it especially interesting; the pilots hadn't yet fully learned to respect the awesome power of the jet engine, so the tactics were still a little clumsy... like your first date in highschool.

The Sabre pilot, now a little-old-grandfather, was recounting getting into a rolling scissors move with the MiG pilot. This dance continues until one pilot makes the slightest mistake, or the planes slow down so much they stall. In this story, it was the MiG pilot who made the slightest error, allowing the Sabre to get behind him and into firing position.

Anyway, the reason I'm telling you all this, is because I totally loved the Sabre pilot's quote:

"I saw him overshoot, and ah' just though to myself, 'friend, that's gonna cost ya...'"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day card.... with cryptography!

Here's a fun nerdy valentine's gag using "visual cryptography."

The idea is you have two sheets, which separately look like random static noise, but when you put them together, a message pops out!

You can try this online (if you're bored and want to nerd out along with me). You take your valentine's day message and use the program to create the two staticy/snowy lookin' squares. You print one of the squares on a normal piece of paper, and the other on an overhead transparency. Yes, I drove to Staples and spent $20, JUST for this reason! :-S



Then you print some regular message on a regular sheet of paper and sandwich it in between to "hide" your secret love message. You can see the regular message says "happy valentine's day-pull to reveal secret message" (and I taped a little tab to the side to make it easier to pull out).



As you start to pull out the middle sheet, you can see the two layers combining... showing the secret message.


And the secret message is revealed: "I Love You."


Well... it's hardly a secret: I love you, Anna. Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Eat Snow and Die, Caveman

It's snowed a lot this season, which is especially bad for people with driveways. Now I don't want any Nunies to feel left out either by lack of driveway (or lack of snow), because I still softly slur a cuss word in your honour every time I watch the news and catch that 2 seconds where they flash the temperatures in, say, Arctic Bay.

But sheer volume of snow is a burden, and officially today it became a curse. Depicted here in this Novaesque diagram is the problem: the pile has finally achieved unity with my own height. Therefore shoveling newly fallen snow requires me to lift it above my head. Now I'm more of a cardio guy--I don't resistance train on my DELTOIDS-- so I can't quite do it, at least not enough times to put a dent in last night's dump. There are however two alternatives:
  1. Launch the scoop like a discus from waist height. 10% blows back in your face, and you eventually tear yourself in 'places.'
  2. Use one of those 'one horse open sleigh' shovels to shuttle loads over the mountain and in back behind the house.
Mom had a much more practical suggestion: "buy a SNOWBLOWER." As a self-respecting engineer, clearly the only solution is to fashion a 20-story parabolic mirror and harness the awesome power of the sun to beam away my snow berm.

Is it just me....

...or does that say "Irqaluit," with an 'r'?


I had spent some time on the plane ride home (back in November) studying the syllabics, and if I'm not mistaken the second character (the superscript rotated 'U' with the hook) is an 'r', making it "Ir-Ka-Lu-It." It kinda stuck in my mind ever since. How does it work?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Talking to your dog....

....with a computer?

Many people dont know it, but Windows XP has a text-to-speech tool. You type in a phrase and then the computer "says" it. The voice is kind of unrealistic. Windows Vista's version is better... funny enough the voice is called "Anna."

I thought for fun, I'd try typing all kinds of explosive dog trigger phrases into it and see if I could get any reaction from Sookie:

"Want to go for a walky? Walky?"

"Treat? Do you want a treat?"

"Car ridy? Want to go for a car ride?"

No reaction.

Then I tried the "irritation" approach and just kept saying:
"Sookie... Sookie.... hey Sookie..."
In this case I started getting some heavy breathing, but no obvious recognition.

Then I tried a new technique... the computer says Sookie 9 times, and then *I* say 'Sookie' on the 10th time. The time I said it, she jumped up and ran over to me.

Conclusion: Sookie has a jaded sense of "real" and "pretend" things.

MY SOUULL!!

Humorous Pictures
Source: LOL Cats


funny pictures
Source: LOL Cats

Let it snow, let it snow...

...let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Even the snowman says "holy sassafras, Santa Claus. Too much SNOW!"

Did I mention Jen made it safely to Maui?

Monday, February 11, 2008

They tried to make me go to obedience class

and ah' said no... no... no...

(Sookie picks up the Grammy for biggest carb-snorting doggy soul performer)

Friday, February 08, 2008

The story of an Adventure dog

Ok, I don't get any -45 Arctic bay nights, but still, winter bums me out. One of the things that helps me through is to close my eyes and think back to summer camping trips.

I've had a lot of fun camping in the last few years with Anna (my wife) and her parents and their THREE GREAT DANES. These dogs are incredible animals. "Gentle giants." They're highly engaged by human interaction and are very loving.

They're also incredibly athletic. Pepper, the smallest of the three, is built like a greyhound-cheetah mix. When she gets out into the yard its like watching an airshow.

But great danes, god bless them, are not rugged outdoor adventure types. Their thin coats are easily scraped by branches. Here is a photo of Sadie (a cousin of Scoobie doo) when she fell into the lake. What can I say, those lion paws are just no good at scaling the Canadian shield.

This brings me back to Sookie--a dog of which we have absolutely no clue as to her pedigree (she's adopted). She's a curious mix of black bear, buffalo and goose and is a true adventure dog.

After we pulled Sadie out of the lake, she, Pepper, Sookie and I went for a climb into the interior of the forest. The terrain was very steep and Sadie, almost in a show of pride, went tearing ahead of me up the embankment with Sookie in tow. Pepper, a more cautious dog lagged behind, and eventually turned back to seek attention of Anna and her parents who were still down on the rocks enjoying the sun.

When I got to the top I saw that Sookie was busy exploring but that Sadie seemed much more subdued. I noticed a gash on her leg and decided I'd better take her back down. She picked up on this and, as before, tore ahead of me--except this time running full-tilt down a steep and uneven hill.

I'm not quite sure what happened, but I believe I saw her wipe-out in the distance. When I reached her she was walking with a bit of a limp, but buoyed by my presence she tore off again and after all the forest crashing of a Bigfoot attack, I eventually heard her rejoin the pack down on the rocks below.

Deciding I'd better tell them what had happened, I continued down the embankment to the last stretch--a 6 foot drop. Nothing major, but something that you have to hold onto exposed tree roots as you ease your way down to the ground. The passage is narrow--just enough for one body.

But that didn't stop my greedy little Sookie from pushing past me as I was hanging off a root (like Spiderman) just in time to see her fly off the drop (like Superman.) She hit the ground running... and not a scratch. Now there's an adventure dog.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Dreaming of a sunnier day

...because its so gross outside today.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Cast your fears away, worries for another day...

Sookie is already a middle aged girl, but she has these Fraggle paws that cause people to think she's a puppy. But that's not the only thing...

"He's going to be gorgeous when he grows up," people often stop us on the street to say.

I just smile and give them a Vegemite sandwhich.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sookie likes nature

...some say for the wrong reasons!

Go Super Tuesday!

While Jen begins her journey southward and eventually to that island where they film LOST, I'll be in front of the TV watching SUPER TUESDAY!

Oooooo, Barack or Hillary? The race is so close, we might not even find out tomorrow!

Monday, February 04, 2008

As of Tomorrow...


My Friend just got back from her vacation and brought me this fun t-shirt. :)

The truth exposed!

Confessions of an Alaskan Malamute

I thought our Tallinn needed time on the big screen as well. Here is what he told me...

video

Our doogy is a famous movie star...

When Nathan & I got our Alaskan Malamute, I did everything in my power to come up with a name that wasn't a cliche sled dog name. We spent many days deliberating and trying to agree on our new puppy's name. Finally we decided on Tallinn. For Nathan it was the name of the ship on some geeky television show called Farscape and for me it was the city where my Grandmother was born, obviously my spelling of the name won out. I thought that for sure this was the farthest thing from a sled dog name as I could get.

UNTIL TODAY!!! I was sitting on the couch watching T.V when a trailer came on for a new movie called "Snow Buddies". I was distracted with something else, when I heard "there is a legend of the greatest of all sled dogs, Talon, who lives in a cave where snow turns to rock. His power is so great that the northern lights will shine greater..." (not unless by the power of his gas from too many milk bones). I thought to myself ok this is not a big deal becuase the spelling is different, but then I realized that this so called Talon was an Alaskan Malamute also.
I wouldn't really mind, it's just that I like to do things differently, and this movie has basically thrown our pups name in to "fluffy" or "spot" territory. Next dog is going to have a name that is really really weird like nibletronathalroneska, just to play it safe.

Meanwhile check out the preview.

The Malamute in the movie has a really manly voice over that says "Sometimes you just have to have faith" & " Always trust your lead dog". If my Tallinn could speak it would be a little more like "Sometimes you just need to eat some garbage" & " Always feed me cookies".

Our man is special, not because his power controls the northern lights, but because he howls at First Air when they fly over our house, or when we find him sleeping on our bed, covering it in hair.

This is when he was just a pup.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

FINE!

A Busy Bee

Hello everyone, thanks for your encouraging (aka nagging) words on posting frequency and regularity. I'll be sure to eat lots of Blog Bran to keep those posts coming on time :-)

Apparently half the bloggers in Nunavut are reporters or otherwise with literary backgrounds, so I feel at liberty to share some otherwise tediously boring details of my day:

I'm going to submit my masters thesis final-draft tomorrow; a 120-page document that I've spent the last week polishing, like the chrome fender of my pimping ride (academically speaking).

The examiners each get their own copy of the thesis and scribble all over it in red pen. Then I have to go through each copy, page-by-page, and fix all the omissions, ambiguities and punctuation errors. It would be a lot easier if this was in MS Word, but I have to use a typesetting program called LaTeX.

Here's what that looks like:
\scriptsize $R_{2} =\newline E_{k_{a_{2}}}(E_{k_{b_{2}}}(v_{2}))$&
\scriptsize $\sigma_{2} = P_{\beta}(2)$&
\scriptsize $k_{a_{\sigma_{2}}}$ &
\scriptsize $I_{\sigma_{2}}=E_{k_{b_{\sigma_{2}}}}(v_{\sigma_{2}})=D_{k_{a_{\sigma_{2}}}}(R_{\sigma_{2}})$ &
\scriptsize $k_{b_{\sigma_{2}}}$ &
\scriptsize $\varsigma_{2} = P_{\varphi}(2)$&
\scriptsize $v'_{P^{-1}_{\varphi}(2)}=D_{k_{b_{P^{-1}_{\varphi}(2)}}}(I_{P^{-1}_{\varphi}(2)})$\vspace{3mm}\\ \hline


I spent much of the day talking about revisions to another academic article that just got accepted. This one's a tough one. Although I started out as the main author, it has ballooned to include numerous authors. I have little experience trying to streamline the style and voice of so many people. The kitchen is crammed with cooks... and tonight's dinner features beef stuffed with chicken stuffed with pork with a side of potatoes, pasta, rice, couscous and 9 seasonal vegetables.

Fun photos will come another day.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Winter Dog Walker / MiG Figher Pilot Fashion

Hi, I'm Aleks -- Jen's brother, and this is my first post. If you're interested to know who exactly is posting on this blog at any given time, take a look at the bottom of the post and it should say "Posted by ____," with either my or Jen's name. Jen wanted to make sure I didn't say anything too crazy, and if I did, that it would have my name on it :-)

You know, you northerners don't have the market quite cornered on cold weather. Although my winter outfit probably doesn't qualify as space suit, I'd like to think it at least qualifies as fighter pilot's suit.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Espresso Siblings


Remember the Espresso Ninja?

Aleks of Ottawa

Some of you might remember Aleks as my brother who came up North for his first time in October. Others just know Aleks.....hopefully like mom & dad. Aleks lives in Ottawa and is very much a city boy, he is married and has one child (a dog named sookie). We are very similar in that we both treat our pets like children in some respects. Aleks is a pretty busy guy working with different academic groups and he just finished doing his masters degree. However he still finds time to do some very creative things like moving making, photography and now currently he has taken an interest in my blog. As he puts it guest blogging is very popular right now, so I have decided that we will give it a try while I head down south on vacation. If you like his commentary and photos, then please encourage him (to get his own blog) and maybe I will get my blog back when I come home.

As most of you know I am heading out to Hawaii, finally getting out on our honey moon. As Nathan always says "but honey coming to Nunavut was our honey moon", so I guess this is just a vacation. Anyways I won't be able to blog the whole time while I'm down, maybe the occasional post. This is why I am having Aleks fill in as a guest blogger, and to mainly keep Tina entertained.

My only worry about leaving home for a while is "OH GOD what will the house smell like if the sewer truck sucks the water out of the toilet for a whole month of non flushing?" My solution is to hopefully have someone come in an flush every few days.

Don't forget to continue to stop by Nunavut Nonsense! Our second photo challenge is up and needs votes!