Author Archives: geoff

About geoff

Still alive and kicking after all these years!

New Job, New Home

This has been an epic week. I successfully interviewed on Monday for a job at Nunavut Arctic College and I am pleased to say that I am the new instructor for the Computer Systems Technician program at Nunatta campus in Iqaluit.

I started work on Wednesday and met some of the staff. They are really friendly and helpful and if initial vibes are anything to go by, I’m going to love it here. The classroom/lab accommodates 18 students although we will probably start the program with 12. One nice thing about being an IT instructor is that you get to work somewhere with windows rather than the sub-basements and basements where I have been used working.

The week got even better as I picked up the keys for my new apartment on Friday. Not only do I now have my own place to live, a signed lease entitled me to a post box in the Iqaluit Post Office rather than having my mail addressed to general delivery.

The second boat arrived last week and spent a few days offloading. My crate is on the third and final NEAS boat of the 2013 sealift and it was supposed to leave Montreal on 30 Aug. Alas, I checked the NEAS website last night and the revised schedule states that materiel should be on the dockside by 13 Sep for loading. I guess the boat will be three weeks late leaving Montreal and I *really* hope that the temperature is still above freezing when it arrives here otherwise I am going to have a lot of burst liquid containers.

 

Getting Ready to Move

The last week has been a blur and it went something like this:

Tuesday – Shopped at Costco. The bill came to just under $2400 and I didn’t have any junk purchases (chocolate and Kit-Kats don’t qualify as junk as they are major food groups). I managed to fit everything into six shopping carts and was pretty happy with that. I had already purchased $500 worth of pulses and spices from the Middle Eastern store a few weeks previously, so I guess the total food bill is closer to $3000. All the grocery purchases have been an educated guess and I know some things will last beyond one year, e.g. I sincerely hope not to use 64 toilet rolls and 10 litres of washing-up liquid in 12 months. Sealift 2014 and beyond should be more representative of a normal re-supply.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent moving the last remaining boxes to TSC, the shipper, in Ottawa. All the drop-offs have been for 10 or 12 boxes each time, so I have yet to see what the total shipment looks like. I suspect the shipment is going to be pretty big but I won’t know until I see the sealift crates when they arrive here September/October.

Friday – drove to Fredericton to see Robert, Jennifer and the grandkids. I dropped off my car with my son and then became the owner of zero keys. It is a strange feeling having no keys in your pocket.

Saturday night/Sunday – flew back to Ottawa via Toronto and then flew on Iqaluit on Sunday morning. For some reason, the two carriers that fly to Iqaluit, First Air and Canadian North, both leave Ottawa at 0915. As we taxied out to the runway we could see the Canadian North flight being pushed back from its stand and I wondered if they race to Iqaluit? Travelling aboard the 737 was a pleasure, I remember flying on them out of Goose Bay back in the 80′s. The seats are wide and there was adequate leg room and the service was first class. The contrast to the previous evening’s Air Canada cattle truck experience was marked. I guess over the years I had forgotten how pleasurable an experience flying could be. Jamie met me at the airport which was packed with both flights simultaneously deplaning and emplaning. Both bags arrived safely (thank you Air Canada for the $105 excess baggage charge for my second bag on a $250 flight).

Monday – went for brunch at the Arctic Hotel with Jamie’s roomie, Adam, and his friends. Everyone still seems to call the Arctic by its former name, Nova, so it was a little confusing initially. The Arctic breakfast was great and, at $14, is the cheapest hotel breakfast in town. The Frobisher charges $30 and the Navigator charges $40 for similar fare. Even though the temperature was only 8°C and sunny, I was comfortably warm in a T-shirt. Today is a federal holiday so very few places were open so I did the tourist thing and wandered around town taking pictures. Even though I bought a decent camera a few weeks ago, I am still using it in auto mode (point and shoot) and the pictures don’t do the camera justice. Oh well, I hope to get better – as an aside, I am becoming increasingly frustrated with products which come with a single page installation instruction. The user guide is on the installation CD but it means that you can’t slip the manual in your pocket and read it as you are taking pictures when out and about.

I’ve Got a Ticket to Ride

I bought my ticket to Iqaluit this afternoon. I’m fed up waiting around so it’s time to make a move. I’ll be arriving there on 4 August and the following day is a federal public holiday - I am sure there is no connection.

Unexpected Trip to Halifax

Instead of finishing off my sealift this week, I spent four days in Halifax. I popped a filling last Thursday and used aeroplan points to get me back east to see my dentist. Dr. Mark Sutherland and his team sorted me out and all is well again. I guess that it goes without saying that being between jobs is fine – being without dental and medical insurance cover is not cool. Luckily I didn’t need major work and the cost was affordable. It would have been a different story if I needed treatment in Nunavut, assuming that there would even be a dentist in the hamlet. The prospect of finding a new doctor and dentist after 12 years in Halifax does not fill me with joy. As I get older, the comfort of having trusted health care professionals is something I no longer take for granted.

I’m back in Ottawa now and I’ll start delivering boxes of personal effects to TSC on Monday and I have a Costco shopping trip booked for Tuesday. TSC will pick up the groceries from Costco and crate them for me and that should be it – packed and ready to go by Friday. The next boat to Iqaluit is the third and last sailing of this year on August 30 and my crate should arrive in Iqaluit mid-September.

 

 

Sealift Shopping

A friend from Iqaluit is in town this week doing his sealift shopping. I tagged along in the hope that I might stop stressing about paper products and cease counting toilet rolls in my sleep. Costco will give you your own checkout if you give them advance warning of your visit. If you know what you are doing, and he did, it can be a businesslike and straightforward affair. It’s just the quantities are mind-boggling to comprehend for someone who lives alone and is a minimal consumer.

We were in and out of Costco in under 90 minutes and TSC picked up the order the following morning. I would have taken loads of time and shuttled it to TSC; I know better now when my turn comes.

This was shopping trip 1 of 3, so there is lots more to be added to the sealift.

I wonder how other people organize their sealifts?

IMG-20130703-00549

 

IMG-20130703-00547

IMG-20130703-00557

IMG-20130703-00558

IMG-20130703-00559

IMG-20130703-00569

 

Google Street View

Want to take a sightseeing trip around Iqaluit and you live down south? Not a problem from July of this year. The Google Street View team came to Iqaluit in March and gathered the data they needed to map the area.

Unlike their trial project last summer in Cambridge Bay where they used  the Street View Trike to carry the recording equipment, the team decided to visit Iqaluit when there was snow on the ground so they could convey a sense of a land covered in snow. Googlers wearing a custom-built 40lb backpack rig walked around the local roads and trails to gather data. Although there is a Street View Snowmobile, Google hopes as more northern communities are mapped for Street View, only the backpack rig will be shipped to the community and local volunteers will carry out the data gathering.

800px-Google_Street_View_trike_side

The Google Street View Trike (image: CambridgeBayWeather)

Google Street View's Karin Tuxen-Bettman crosses the Arctic tundra in Iqaluit

Google Street View team member gathering data in Iqaluit. (image: Google)

Rollercoaster ride

This weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster ride.

My long-awaited Raspberry Pi arrived on Friday. Its a single board computer slightly larger than a credit card. I bought my first programming computer (BBC ‘B’) just over 30 years ago and the Raspberry Pi is the new kid on the block for teaching programming and STEM in UK schools. I chose the model ‘B’ which costs $35; there is also a simpler $25 model ‘A’ which is targeted at schools. I got the computer for my granddaughter in the hope that she will have some fun learning to program using Scratch, a visual programming language for kids developed by MIT (the program, not the kids).

raspi

So, that was the Good. The Bad was drowning my phone with all my contacts and calendars. Luckily I have been a good IT geek and I had the sync’d copy on my laptop. The badder (it’s Father’s Day, indulge me) event was my last Ottawa contra dance. I’ve fallen in love with contra since arriving in Ottawa in December and regret not having tried it sooner. There is a strong sense of community and friendliness with these guys; last night I danced with a five year-old girl, a woman in her seventies and partners of all ages. I am really going to miss dancing and that is something I never thought I would ever say. This is my first sense of loss associated with this relocation and it hurt a little. On the plus side, they will be having a contra dance weekend with the band Perpetual e-Motion later in the year and I would really like to come back for that.  I hear Iqaluit has square dancing, so perhaps all is not lost.

Preparing to move

Deciding in June to relocate to Iqaluit has not been a smart move. No store has winter items on display. I trolled back through the MEC catalogue for X country ski clothing and all the links were broken. So, if you want to come to the North, allow yourself time to purchase clothing when the stores have their winter apparel displayed.

Spontaneous Adventurer 1    Common Sense 0

Having said that, the nice people at Trailhead scoured their basement and I am now the happy owner of a Canada Goose Expedition jacket and some face masks and gloves which would not look out of place at a bank robbery or in a Jason movie.

I still have the sealift to sort out for 28 June but everything is slowly coming together. Here are some pictures of Sarah’s pictures of her sealift from her blog Sarah on the Road. She already had her personal effects, so this was just a re-supply (approx. $5,000) for the coming year to avoid having to pay inflated store prices. How inflated? That’s a topic for another day.