Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chocolate bunny condoms!

These were being passed out this week at the Health Centre:

Yes, chocolate bunny condoms for Easter!  No, I'm not kidding.

These aren't the first theme condoms I've seen in Nunavut.  A few years back, there were some distributed that were advertised as being the flavours of traditional game animals.  The meat, I assume, not the...  well, you know.  However, that campaign was cheeky false advertising; in small print at the bottom of the poster they said, "just kidding".

These, however, really are flavoured.  Well,  I guess don't know that for sure, we only gave them a sniff test at work, not a taste test.  But everybody's chocolate eggs will be extra well protected this year, which will no doubt be reflected in next year's chocolate chicken population.  Hopefully the chocolate bunnies will continue to breed like rabbits in order to pick up the slack!

The next holiday designated to have it's own flavoured condom...  Mothers Day!  No, I'm really not kidding.  If you're wondering what motherhood tastes like, (spoiler alert!) ... it's grape.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunset pictures

I went for a walk at sunset today, here are a few pics.  I just love the way the light changes from minute to minute.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mountains in Qikiqtarjuak inlet

This first pic is from 7 am, I had to make a home visit and the sun was just coming over the mountains.  I liked the light.

The next photos are from my walk on the ice of Qikiqtarjuaq inlet at around 9:30 am.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sun on the mountains

As I was leaving the clinic this afternoon, a patch of sun was catching the mountains and making them shine.  I had to run home and get the camera, and of course the light had shifted again once I got outside, but these pictures aren't bad at catching the little window of sun on the mountains.  I would have needed my SLR camera and the zoom lens to get a better photo, I just brought my little pocket digital this time (SLRs are difficult to lug around in bad weather).

Blowing snow

It's not very cold here today, but windy!  I was out for a walk around 9 am and got some pictures, I'm hoping for better weather another day to go out and get some more, today was overcast when I was out with very strong wind gusts.

This is the view from my living room window (mountains partially obscured by weather):

Let's go around town on a little walking tour.  Here's one of the churches:

This is the house where I'm staying.  My unit is the one on the far left of the building, next to the little white SUV:

The mountains behind town, looking very atmospheric today:

The backs of some houses, next to the school:

Looking down a street.  The house on the left has some seal skins being stretched for drying at the side of the house:

Qikiqtarjuaq from across the harbour.  The mountains are mostly obscured by cloud and snow:

Here's the front of the school, it's being added onto on two sides:

The health centre:

Here's the view down main street.  That's the Hamlet office on the left.

So that's Qikiqtarjuaq in some pretty authentic arctic weather conditions!  I hope the weather is better tomorrow, if it is I'll try to get some better pictures of the mountains.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Iqaluit to Qikiqtarjuaq

I had 3 hours between flights, so while I was in Iqaluit I walked to the Caribrew Cafe.  It's in the Frobisher Inn, and I go there because 1) I know where it is and 2) it's pretty much the furthest fast-food type place I know of from the airport, and I like the walk.

I was excited to see some Asian items behind the glass counter, so I tried this one, it's called Rice Noodles with Soy Sauce.  It wasn't that great.  The price didn't faze me ($7, pretty small portion as you can see with plastic fork and lemon to give perspective), but it was reaaaaallly salty, almost too salty to eat.  To me, it tasted like Ramen noodles, overcooked, and seasoned with the little soup mix that comes with it, without the water.  I'm actually thinking that really is what it was.  I called it "Unidentified Mushy Noodles with Fetal Shrimp", as those tiny reconstituted dried shrimp had been added.  It was edible, but just barely.  I've eaten here before and other stuff they make is better.  Oh well, they tried.

The Iqaluit fire station (I think the pool is in this building too although I could be wrong) has some graffiti-style artwork on the side:

Here's a close-up of the psychedelic Narwhal:  It has a little human inside it that's being squeezed by something octopus-like.

At 12 pm and again at 1 pm, there are mini rush-hours (rush-minutes) in Iqaluit as people head home for lunch and then back to work.  This is the 1 pm rush hour on an alternate route.  It was a little longer a line, but a couple of cars turned while I fished out my camera:

It was snowing as we headed to Qik, so here are the de-icers working on our plane:

Here's the apron of the Iqaluit airport as we headed out.  That's a big cargo plane to the left behind us.

The vividly coloured terminal building (I love it!)

Couldn't see much since it was snowing after all, but here is a chunk of coastline as we are heading into Qikiqtarjuaq.  Not sure if this is mainland or island (Qik is on an island, used to be called Broughton Island):

Here is a lobe of the town as we came in for a landing:

... and that's all for today.  Hope to be back soon with some more photos, probably on the weekend, weather willing.  Today's photos aren't that great as it was snowing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm going to Qikiqtarjuak

I got a call today for a short last-minute contract in Qikiqtarjuak.  I've been there twice before.  Every time I've gone there it's been for a short last-minute contract.  I'll leave this Thursday (March 25) and should be back on Easter Monday (April 5).

I'll have a camera with me and my laptop, so I hope to blog a bit while I am there, so check back now and then for the next couple of weeks.  I never really got any good pictures in Qik, as my visits were short and during the dark season.

It should be warming up there- I checked the weather and it's supposed to be -25 or so on Thursday (brrrrrr!) but over the weekend might go as high as -3.  I'll live.  Now that we've passed the equinox the days will be longer there than down here, but Qik isn't in the far north (kind of 1/3 of the way up Baffin Island) so at this time of year there won't be a huge difference.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

List of states I passed through on my trip

I passed through a lot of states on my trip to and from California.  On the way there, taking mostly interstates 70 and 15:

New York

Then on the way back, taking mostly interstates 40 and 81:

New Mexico
Texas (just the panhandle)
West Virginia (just a corner!)
Maryland (even smaller corner, I think a truck blocked my view)

...and then I was back into Pennsylvania and New York, where I'd started out.  Twenty states in all!

In other travels previously, I'd been to Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine (as a kid?  not certain), Massachusetts, Georgia and Florida.  So all together, I've been in or through 26 states.  That's half.

While I'm no fan of sitting in the car all day, I really like watching landscapes and climates change as I drive along.  I'm kind of interested now in doing a more northern and a more southern route if I drive it again next fall, although since I liked the highway 40 route so much I'd be most likely to just do that again, as anything else would be adding a lot of distance to the trip.  Route 40 isn't the shortest route, but it had a great mix of landscapes, was far enough south to avoid bad weather in February for the most part, and didn't cross too many big cities, no huge ones.  The highway 70 route was OK too, but it crossed a lot of big mid-western cities, and a lot of the landscape in the first half of the drive looked an awful lot like Canada.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

So now what?

Well, work-wise, I have a contract booked, I'll be doing the binge-work thing in June, July and August in Nunavut.  I'm booked to go to Arctic Bay, although I try to never get too attached to the destination ahead of time, since they have a habit of changing.  However, I really like Arctic Bay so I'm looking forward to it.

As I'm sure you all deduced, I didn't get a job in Los Angeles while I was there.  I haven't figured out the job market there yet.  There is work, but it's almost all full-time stuff.  That said, I did apply for quite a few part-time and per-diem (which is the same as "casual" up in Canada) positions that I was well qualified for, but never heard back about them, and from what I could tell, they didn't fill those positions either.

Part of the problem is that it seems they do hiring strictly through websites, and usually there is no way to get through by phone to someone in human resources.  When theoretically there is a way, they don't pick up the phone, and their voicemail is full.

The experience I have as a nurse is very transferable to other fields, and in Canada they love it, but without being able to reach a human to explain what it is I do, internet applications have a way of getting weeded out, since I almost never meet the exact criteria they want in a candidate, and computers are very rigid about these things.  Sometimes I do meet it though, so I'm not sure if I'm getting weeded out for being foreign (although I had a local address), or if they just weren't very motivated to fill their vacancies.

There was one job I almost got at a university student clinic, but in the end they hired the other guy (they had started with 10 candidates and then interviewed two of us... and the interviewer really made it sound like she'd hire me... but that's how it goes.)  That's the only interview I had though.

So, I plan to return to L.A. in the fall and look again for work.  The good thing is that this time I will be paper-ready, having completed the licensing procedure and the Visascreen procedure (which is a slower and costlier duplication of the licensing procedure), and will be ready to work, if anyone will have me.

If they won't, then I can't really complain, I also like my current lifestyle of working ~3 months in Nunavut and then having the rest of the year to do what I want.  It's a little more rootless this way than I'd like since I can't stay more than 6 months in the States every year, but for now anyway, it's not too bad.  Financially it probably even makes more sense to keep working in Canada and being a visitor in the U.S., so if they never hire me, then oh well, it might be better this way anyway.

As for my blog, I plan to keep blogging, but while I'm in Ottawa posts will likely be sporadic.  Tune in now and then though, you never know, and when I go to Nunavut this summer I'm sure I'll be taking you on some photo hikes!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Los Angeles highways (from Feb. 12 and 13)

I thought I'd post some "leftover" photos that I took in Los Angeles but never got around to posting.  Here are some shots of the famous L.A. freeways.  Note that I was a passenger for these- I would never take photos while driving on these roads!  These are from mid-February, on my way to the bike rides in Long Beach and the San Gabriel river.  There are lots of major highways in L.A., this is just a couple of them.

This is the 110, heading south.  Very wide, it's got carpool lanes to the left.  To be in a carpool lane in L.A., the threshold is almost always just two passengers.  Traffic is moving well though so we're not in them yet.


This is the interchange on the 110 for traffic heading to the LAX airport.  I think there's a bus stop somewhere in there in the middle (seriously).  I find it interesting that they call their airport "LAX", after it's aviation I.D. (whatever that's called).  It's like if we called Ottawa airport "YOW".


This is the 10, one of the east-west highways, the major one I guess, it's an interstate that goes all the way across the country, the most southerly one.  We're heading east here.   It's quite pretty with the snow-capped mountains in front of us.  Note however how close you drive to the rather crunchy walls- there is NO shoulder on either the right or the left of the road here.  Absolutely no room for error either in the left hand lane (or right hand one for that matter) if you drift a bit... you hit concrete instantly if you do.  This carpool lane on the 10 scares the hell out of me.  I like a bit of a safety margin built into my roads.


Some interchange on the 10, forget which one.


This is the 6-something in eastern L.A., heading towards the San Gabriel mountains.  The road ends just ahead so that's why it's narrowed.


I generally avoided driving on the highways when I could... the highways I found are mostly more congested than the roads, so you could either be in stop-and-go traffic on the highways, or be stopping at traffic lights on the boulevards.  I prefer the boulevards- to me it gives the impression of moving faster, because if you're not at a red light, you generally are moving faster, and people are a little less hormonal when they're not on the highway.  Times to destination would probably be about the same though whether on the highway or on the road, in the central part of the city anyway (and that's where I lived, on the west side.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Luray Caverns, Virginia (Feb. 28)

Here are my photos of the Luray Caverns- I just love the patterns the stalactites and stalagmites made (yeah, I had to look up how to spell those), so here are probably too many photos (but if you like rocks, abstract art or design at all, I think you'll enjoy them too).




The one below is of an underground lake.  It's not very deep, but the reflections were very beautiful.


In the Luray caverns you go from "room" to "room" through passages, it's very cool.  It's a one-way passage, over a mile in length I think, guided by roped off areas so you don't get lost.  I liked this tour as it was by an audioguide and not a tour guide, so you could see it at your own pace.  There are also human guides stationed here and there if you want to ask questions.  I went in the morning so it was nice and empty, saw very few other tourists.


This is one of the column formations, where a stalactite and stalagmite grow together.




More columns, I think they call these the "totem poles".


I think the one below is the formation they call "Tatiana's veil".


This is looking up at the ceiling of the cavern... the stalactites form cool patterns!


You can see why I just couldn't stop taking photos, right?




These below are the coolest yet!  They call these formations "draperies", and they form when the water drips and deposits the minerals on an angle.





This one below is a fallen stalactite, that's why it has a flat edge on the right, that's where it was attached to the cavern ceiling thousands of years ago.  It's grown together with the stalagmite on the left, and they can tell when it fell by how much growth is there (but I can't remember when that was!)  They figure it was an earthquake that made it fall.


This is a close-up of the fallen stalactite (on the lower right) growing into the adjacent stalagmite:


I think they should call the formation below "cauliflower":


Looking up at some draperies from underneath them...


This one looks like a column but it isn't, it's a stalagmite (left) and stalactite (right) that grew into each other horizontally as they got wider.


This is the room the call "the Cathedral".  It has an organ that uses the stalactites for the notes.  They played an automated song on it while I was there, very beautiful sound.  Supposedly in the early 1900's or so they had dances in this room.  That must have been something in the days of candlelight!  I think they said they still have candlelight events in the caverns once a year.






This formation below is called the "fried eggs".



Back out at the surface.  This is the view to the east, towards Luray.


I loved these caves, I think they might have been my favourite thing I saw on the trip (considering the Grand Canyon got weathered out.)