Accounts of living in Yellowknife (a work in progress, this site and my life)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

What about Sunday?

Today, I did nothing all morning which reminded me a lot of yesterday when I also did nothing. I watched a new show that I garnered from the internet call the IT Crowd. Basically, its funny and if you can download it, do it. Decided I should do something today in the sun, so I went for a walk. It was -25C with a windchill that made it more like -30something. The following are some pictures. The trail is about 8km. By the end of it my hair was frozen - I should have taken a picture of that I guess. Now I'm tired and hungry.

If you look closely you can see the snow covered roofs of one of the trailer parks in town. These things sell, on a postage stamp of land, for about 200-350K right now. Some bit of a housing shortage.

A Tim Horton's commercial I think. This is about 2km from the Timmy's. Its not mine, I wouldnt litter....

Hey look! Its nothing.

This is how the CIty deals with conflicts between skidoos and roads. Skidoo Underpass.

Didnt know what to make of this. Must be a rock that the wind has dug around, and some dog pee. Interesting that it would make a circle though.

This is the sun at 1pm. Not very high at all. You can see the trail im walking on at the bottom of this one.

Map of the trail system. I'm walking around the bottom lake on this tour. The city is to the south and also the west of the lake.

As you get closer to the treeline trees get smaller - this is the biggest tree ive seen since I have been here. Its only a couple feet around, if that.

The snow looks huge in this one.

That weird building on the bottom right is a museum of some sort I think.

Rocks, trees, sun, snow.

The snow perches on any sort of surface.

The snow and light make interesting textures.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Why did that coffee cost so much?

Now that I have started working I have started in on the coffee. So far only a cup or two in the morning; hovever, even such a slight addiction has its consequences. Three days ago I broke my coffee pot. Smashed it while washing something completely unrelated. It was truly catastrophic - I still get teary eyed thinking about it.

Now I buy coffee in the mornings. It's good. However, today I went and had the most expensive cup of cofee that ive ever had. Even more expensive than the one on the Champs d'elysees.... and that was out and out extortion that was (but good). It wasn't as though I had intended to break the bank on this particular instance of indulgence. You see, the price of this coffee involved my hat.

It went down like this: I walked 10mins. in -30C weather at 9am (yes, I fully acknowledge this as a sign of severe caffeine addiction) and entered the foyer of the 20-something storey green and cement coloured building that houses the one and only coffee shop in town. I took off my one glove, and then the other. Then (pay close attention as this is an important plot element) I doffed (look it up) my toque. Proceeding to the counter I rifled through my pockets looking for the requisite $1.98. Now, here you may think that $1.98 isnt bad for coffee... but wait - where's my toque at?!

After tipping 2 cents, I sit down to savour my purchase. I toss my gloves onto the table, take off my coat and burn my lips on the scalding coffee. Everything appears as it should be, yet something is missing. Something is wrong. Suddenly, a thought occurs - Where is my hat? Its warm inside, but suddenly my head goes cold. I look around. Root through pockets (mine mostly). After a thorough search I decide its a lost cause. Someone has pinched my misplaced toque (may it grow fungus and make them bald). I figure theres probably a huge black market for toques up here.

So today I looked for a replacement toque, coffee pot, returned my snowshoes, and got beer. Tonight is going to -35C so I'm not planning on going out. The return (potentially having fun) on the investment (me going out alone, freezing, paying for overpriced beer) is not enough to motivate me to move from my warm apartment tonight.

As for tomorrow, the idea of snowshoeing is dead (for now, so maybe its more "just in a coma" than "dead"). In conversations at work various people have mentioned the 9 foot snowdrifts that make any sort of winter wilderness exploration dangerous.... one minute you're walking along, the next you're wondering if this is how igloos were invented and if so, how the person climbed out to invent it.

I'll find something to do I imagine, hopefully - more on this tomorrow.

Only a couple pictures this today. This one demonstrates how close to nothing town is. Apartment building, greenspace and nothing for hundreds of kilometres. People at work were telling me about how the isolation kicks in after about 6 months when you realize that there is nowhere to drive to for an afternoon or a weekend. That this is it. As an example, Edmonton (the closest city) is 1500km from here.

The Office. Where I was taken to have lunch my first week at work. Some communications structures. Its interesting how blue the sky is up here and how bright the sun is. But that may just be my reaction to being inside all bright hours of the week.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

What the crap?

Last night I did as I try to do every weekend - went to a new bar. I went to the Raven Pub. I have yet to find a place where I am not the youngest person... At 1030pm this place had about 12 people in it, an empty dance floor and a bored looking bouncer. After having the obligatory 1 beer there I went to the gold range for a second time since I got here. Nothing cool to report this time - a decent rock band, chairs and tables older than me, 6 dollar beers, and more than its fair share of drunken natives pretty much sums it up.

So today, full of excitement and expectation, I drove a half hour out of town to the middle of nowhere and got out of the jeep. I strapped on my new snowshoes and off I went. Promtly sinking into snow up to my ass! You see these snowshoes, rated to 200lbs, don't work worth the wood they're made of. In fact if they werent so expensive I'd have made a mini bonfire with them and taken my revenge. So, to get to the point, I did not manage to go snowshoeing today and only took one crappy picture. So now having arrived home I am thoroughly discouraged and am going to do laundry, eat, and watch crappy tv. I'll try again next week with bigger snowshoes after I return these. On the plus side, after examining my receipt, crappy tire never charged me for the skipoles.... smoothes my ruffled feathers that does.

So here's where I was going to be snowshoeing in... yes it pretty much was this grey out today. And snowing... but warmish (-13C ) i think.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Why not post more often?

Basically it comes down to the huge lazy factor and I really don't want to type about my work week unless something cool happens. The day to day details of my job are entirely too exciting for me too rehash every evening, plus I'd have to kill you - so use your imagination and picture me in an office in a building working at a desk with maps, scales, and a computer planning all things Yellowknife everyday of the work week.

However I have purchased a controlling interest in some snowshoes and ski poles. Tomorrow evening you can look forward to some more touring photos. The last trek I went on was on an extablished walking trail. However, I didn't move north to walk on tame and circumscribed trails - I came to forge ahead on my own path (in some sense). So I will be driving to some godforsaken place and heading in some random direction for a sunday event. Hopefully I see some bison. Remind me to bring a compass.

As for work: well... work is work and gets better somedays and worse others. It looks like by virtue of my limited experience and comparable expertise (to my coworkers) in GIS I will be for some reason working on a realtime RFID (radio frequency....) setup to track emergency vehicles in and around the City. How this is planning related I'm not too sure. I am sure that its somewhere outside the bounds of my job description - but what the Hell, I'm game. Its amazing what they pay me to do.

Speaking of pay - something I am coming to understand about living here is that while yes, you do receive a northern allowance and most jobs pay more than the south, you also receive northern bills which like their southern cousins cost money but are on an order of 25% larger in general. Baiscally this means that that pink caddy convertable I had on order, the one with the dice on the mirror, yeah I had to get a raincheck. Long live the bling.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

How about a tour-de-force?

So with the sun shining, and the temperature a comfortable -15, I went for a lengthy stroll. I don't get to see the sun during the week as I dont rank windows at work. So it's nice to get out during the more illuminated hours and explore. I took some random walking path and went on a loop around one of the lakes on the edge of town.

Here are some pictures to illustrate the experience.

Panoramific view of the city, Frame Lake, and some trees/rocks.

Long shadows. The sun comes up, does a little turn, and goes back down. At noon, when the sun is overhead of you down south, it has come up maybe a third of the sky.

Lots of rocks, trees and snow (Im detecting a pattern here).

One lonely, stunted dead tree.

Snowdunes. When it turns really cold the snow can become granular and the wind will whip it around like sand.

Some of you may wonder if i still look the same. Yes, I pretty much do. Yo ucan chalk the redness up to cold. Somehow my self-portraits always turn out better when Im not in the frame... go figure.

On top of big rocks the wind whips cold, so hoods come in handy. I love my parka.

Infinite pathways.

The City from across the lake. The sky up here is more like something you'd see on the prairies than back home in ontariario.

The entire surface of the lake has been packed by snowmobiles - makes for easy walking.

Pedestrian way to the Northwest Territories legislature building... It was really windy when I walked down here and all you could hear were the flags snapping in the wind.

Welcome to Yellowknife City Hall.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Was floats your weekend?

OK that was a long week. This friday brought about the most sincere TGIF (thank God its fri) of any friday yet in the YK- I had had enough of my private war with the GIS (geographic information) system at work. Its unfortunate that no one there really understands the complications that arise when dealing with contours, orthos, and data that dont have the attributes you need - they do sympathise though, which is muchos nice of them. I have been trying to put together 3Dmodels for that new subdivision area that I keep talking about designing... its basically turning into a make work for myself program because no one else seems intent on giving me work.

Its a weird experience going from being amongst the oldest at university to being the yougest in your workplace. It makes you interact differently.... I find that I have to respect peoples wisdom and experience as more than mine in certain areas, but have to balance that with the realization that they are no more intelligent than myself. I also do recognize that I am a can be an ambitious, cocky SOB, but again that this mentality has stood me in good stead so far.

Anyway, enough about work.

Let me wax ludicrous about my latest situational observations. And if this takes a turn for the melodramatic, blame the music im listening to (sigur ros), and the scotch in my glass - hopefully we can avoid that.

I now walk to work in a sunrise situation. Where before there was dark, I now get sunlight. The sun comes up during my walk to work... i figure that since the sunrise/set times change by 4mins per day that I have another week of this before the sun is up before me.
And it doesnt stop there, it just keeps getting earlier and earlier until it doesnt set. I figure on buying a lot of black markers and colouring in my bedroom windows come summer.

This morning was a why dont i become wide awake at 8am and immediately go for a walk (thats where most of the subsequent pix come from) kind of day. So up i got, not really of mine own choice, but because i wanted to see the sunrise while it was still at a reasonable hour. Temperature-wise it is actually nice out here.... -22 or so with winchill i think. After that AM tour it was hours of awful(ly good) tv movies. And then after much deliberation and a basic fed-upedness with going without any social interaction: to the bar. This week I wasnt feeling very adventurous so only made it to the boston pizza to watch some olympic womens hockey reruns and the people play electronic poker and of course to drink some beer.

Funny thing did happen on the way home though - i was walking by the 'gold range' bar and some guy roared at me (I think). It wasnt like he said anything comprehensible, it was more like drunken leopard or lion telling someone that it wanted to eat them... except it was wearing a parka and not very catlike or threatening or hungry at all. Yeah, cool.

So enjoy the pix, and hopefully something funnier comes along for the next posting.

Congrads to my newestly wed cousin Alex and the newest member of the family Adam!!

I woke up early today and was instantly wide awake. A saturday morning situation that makes me sad. I foolishly determined the best course of action would be to get up, climb a hill and take a picture of the sunrise. Here it is.

What time is it? Booyah! Time. A truly Canadian experience. This place must be cool... whatever it is.

Does your cab company sell Fireworks?

This is either where my cable comes from, or those damn russians had better be watching what they say. Im betting on cable.

Political activism in the north is a lot like it is in the south - illegible.

This place is on my list of sketchy looking places. Its a long list.

It was Friday night and I felt like beer. Not just any beer, but glacier beer. That was ok - fine and normal - but when i went to buy said beer, it was a 15-pack. That blew my pathetic excuse for a mind.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

What about the bar?

Yes, I will get to the bar in a moment. First, I would like to thank those who posted random comments on this site - that is cool.

Second, what did I do this week at work? I did piles of mapping analysis, which is (again) cool kind of - slope, aspect, elevation, graduated displays and even some 3d stuff. Then I made road patterns.... yeah, that was a retarded exercise. I can't even begin to count the iterations I will have to go through in any subdivision design I make.

Third, on to the bars (well, really just one bar). I went on friday to boston pizza for dinner, beer and a hockey game.... I was not dissapointed. They have all of those things here as well as wherever in the south you are. It is somewhat depressing asking for a table for 'one' - even if you do specify that you are 'very cool'. This place didn't count as a bar as all I did was ate and watched tv there.

Tonight I went to the Gold Range at around 9:30 local time -a real bar. The windows, where they exist, are covered with black curtains and the door is heavy. I sucked up my trepidation and upon entering was greeted by an excellent rock band on a stage. The crowd was definitely of an older, drunker sort. Taking all this in I then proceeded to the bar. Canadian beer in hand I sat down at a ratty table and rattier chair - I was younger than all of the furniture in this place. Also cool about this place were all the handlebar moustaches - I counted 5. Tag teaming these archaic moustache relics were the mullets - and whether they were accidental or intentional - they were all over. I felt kind of out of place, lacking the 'party in the back'.

Also observed were a bunch of guys wearing snowmobile jackets. These jackets happened to coincide with a lack of necks - apparently, you don't mess with the guys with those jackets. There were also many a regular barfly to be found. This one native would walk by me, slap my arm and yell "Ho!", so I would return "Hey!' - we got along well. The theme of the night was this one guy who stumbled in at about 10pm and promtly was escorted out the back door- too much to drink you see. He tried to come in the front door 5 times in the next hour and was laughably bounced each time.

I also saw a guy in plaid pajama pants, people dancing with handlebar mustaches and mullets, t-shirts tucked into jeans riding higher than I've ever seen, and many a drunken patron.

Doesn't that sound like fun?

2pm Saturday afternoon, I was standing on a big friggin rock. Where were you? Welcome to the YK skyline. This outlook is called the Pilot's monument and is a recognition of bush pilot's contribution to the history of the CIty. The plaque reads 'The Rock', and its not talking about the actor/wrestler.... it is a rock formation where the 'old town' is. Some day soon Iwill post some sort of map or something so you all know where these sorts of thing are.

Also, you should click on the picture and see it in large format to truly appreciate it.

So I climbed up this big friggin rock and the stairs were basically covered with packed snow and slippery as all Hell... then I took some pictures. Then I warned myself to 'not fall down' those stairs. Then I fell down these very stairs. Im good at falling though. If the Russian ballet had seen me fall they would have signed me post haste - seriously.

Here are some houseboats. Lots of these around - propane and wood heat... you can rent one for about 500+utilities. It sounds so good and cheap compared to the cash that I hemmorage every month for rent - there must be something wrong with them. These guys get custom driveays in the winter - must suck to shovel them though.

Just in case you are confused, these are what some nautlically unenlightened people would refer to as boats. What floats your boat?

This plane is a float plane. More like a froze plane though.... there are lots of these around. Theres even a float plane club.. Id join it, but I can't afford aviation fuel - it's bananas.

My freezer defies gravity. This ice cube blew my mind. I have the only anitgravity freezer I know of. How does something freeze in an upwards motion? Can anyone explain this? Its probably the proximity to the north pole - like toilets go backwards in australia, ice freeezes upwards in yellowknife.