Okay, I've recovered from the week long hangover of The Nunies, and hopefully will get back to regular programming. Its funny, I've not had any shortage of things to write just a shortage of, desire. And strangely, even though I know its counter-productive to maintaining an audience for this little corner of the blogospher, I felt no need to write something without that desire.
But the sun is almost back, the weather is cold and the world is ripe with possibilities. Stay tuned.
The Nunies are over for another year, and the winners have been chosen. One of the most interesting things (to my mind anyway) of The Nunies this year was the enthusiasm of the new blogs and their fans. Best New Blog was by far the most voted on category, and the closest race. It is refreshing to see that even though the Territory has lost some great bloggers there are a whole new crop of great bloggers to step in and fill any void. And so, on to the winners.
Best New Blog It was a close contest, but one blog led throughout the voting, and emerged as the winner in this Category. And that winner is a couple blogging out of Chesterfield Inlet, The Arctic Post.
Best Blog And the top honours this year, Best Blog, go to Townie Bastard. Well deserved honours indeed.
I'll email all the winners jpegs of the appropriate Nunie Badge that they can post on their blog if they wish. All three category winning blogs will receive their choice of a book of Black and White photos of Arctic Bay or an Arctic Bay knit cap. In addition there is an inuksuk carving donated by Indigo for the Best New Blog, and a personalized mug donated by Jen of Nunavut for the Best New Post.
Congratulations to the winners, the nominees, and to all the blogging community in Nunavut. It is a diverse group of blogs that make up that community, as are the people behind them. All of them are well worth your time to check out and read, you'll no doubt find some favourites amongst them. You'll find all the Nunavut Blogs (that I'm aware of) at Nunavut Blogs!
Seabrooke, the wonderful blogger behind the brilliant Marvelous In Nature, has put together the latest I and the Bird (edition #117). Her edition? An illustrated one, simply clicking on the birds in drawing will take you to the various posts.
Once again, as if you need reminding, there are marvelous words and photos from all around the world. All are dedicated to the world of birds, and birding, as is always the case in this greatest of blog carnivals.
Did I mention its being hosted by an absolute brilliant blogger?
The voting for the Nunies is winding down, and there is less than 24 hours left. That means a couple of things. One, if you haven't voted you need to do so quickly. Two, if you're a nominated blog you don't have much time to do more lobbying amongst your readers.
Just bring the poll for the 2009 Nunies back up to the top of the page to make it easier to find. If you haven't taken the time to check out these blogs and vote, do so now. The poll closes on Thursday.
There is something indescribably beautiful about an icy cold day in the High Arctic, as the dark season rushes to its end. It is -34C, and mostly calm. Snow crunches and squeaks below your feet, ice fog lightly blurs the horizon. Ravens soar in the noon brightness, looking for food and mischief, finding both.
Without the wind -34 is more than bearable, it is exhilarating. Dogs yelp and bark, amidst the roar of lone snowmachines. The horizon is a light show that slides from orange to pink to a blue so delicate that flax dreams of the colour.
Above it all hangs a crescent moon, rimed with a glow in the cold sky. As a lone Raven flies across the face of it, I give up and return for my camera, all the while knowing how powerless it will be in my hands to convey the cold beauty laid out before me.
Amy at WildBird on the Fly, just released the latest results for the belated First Friday for January. Congratulations go out to the Marvelous in Nature's own Seabrooke Leckie. She wrote the winning entry this month (sometimes in the last three hours before the deadline - talented or what?) of an unexpected surprise on a Christmas Bird Count. Way to go Seabrooke.
First Friday is a writing contest put on by WildBird on the Fly, involving writing a 500 word short story themed around birds or birding. The birds can not be anthropomorphized. Winners are usually announced on the First Friday of each month (this month was late due to holidays and Amy's work commitments.
Go read Seabrooke's entry here. If you are at all interested here is my entry for January. I've already got February's entry in.
The Big Year
“This is the last pelagic birding trip I ever take” thought Barney. He had, however, reason to be unhappy with the charter, seeing how he was bobbing alone somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, clinging to an empty ice chest.
Barney was in the midst of a Big Year. Not a record breaking Big Year, a personal one. He had set out January 1st to see just how many species of birds he’d see. This had been his second trip out on a charter, and he’d been hoping to fill in some blanks left from the last one.
It hadn’t gone well. He was in the washroom when someone shouted “Craveri’s Murrelet”, an unexpected bonus bird. He missed it. By the time he made it up on the deck, trailing toilet paper stuck to his boot, it was gone.
Then he forgot “one hand for the boat” and lost his footing hurrying up the stairs when the albatross appeared. He bumped down to the bottom and though he was bruised he did little damage, to himself. His glasses, on the other hand, were finished, one lens broken in three pieces and the frames bent beyond any use. His biggest bruise came from landing on his beautiful binoculars, which were now two not so beautiful monoculars with an almost useless fixed focus.
No, it hadn’t gone well, and he sat gloomily on the deck, listening to others gush over species he was no longer interested in. They were birds already on his year list, and normally he’d still be marveling at them, excited to see such beauty found way out in this vast blue grey expanse, but he knew he’d never see them well. Not with the ancient, cheap, bargain store binoculars that someone on the crew had lent him.
He was trying to pull himself out of his funk when he smelled it. He recognized he had smelled it for some time but was too busy wallowing in self-pity to realize it. He had just snapped his head alert and just got the words “Does anybody smell gas?” out of his mouth when the explosion hit. He flew up in the air like so much debris, and felt warm for the first time since they left the harbour.
That feeling of warmth quickly disappeared as he hit the water, his broken glasses now gone. He reached out and caught hold of the ice chest. He shouted out for others but his ears were buzzing so badly he had no idea whether anyone answered. He shivered.
The bird landed tantalizing close to him and was slowly making its way closer. It was a murrelet, could it be the Craveri’s? He squinted hard, trying to resolve its features. It was almost close enough, he strained against his myopia. Suddenly it took to flight. He was still staring at the blurry, winged dot as hands lifted him suddenly into the life boat.
They were wrong when they thought his tears were in thanks.
I don't imagine most Members think about their demise. There are times, no doubt, when we do, often after the fact. Something along the line of "My god, what was I thinking?". There were situations that would send a freezing chill down my spine, probably going to domestic at a House Trailer more than anything else. There is little doubt that that was the result of a debriefing/analysis of the Lidstone and Brophy murders that I saw when I was but a Summer Student. I can still see the photos of their bodies in that trailer in my mind. It left an impression that has never left.
But I don't think that we generally sit and wonder if we will die at work, and how that will come about. We don't ponder if we will be gunned down at morning coffee, shot by a suspect who is "just going to get a gift for his daughter" (which is what took place with Lidstone and Brophy), or chased and gunned down by someone we were pulling over for not having their headlights on.
The truth is, that members killed on the job, are most likely going to be killed in a car accident. Our roll of honour covers many deaths in all manner of ways, from the member killed driving, to the bizarre death of Sgt Ralph Donaldson, who drowned when his boat was attacked by a herd of Walrus.
Sgt Gallagher is no doubt very familiar to Nova Scotians, he was a public spokesman for the RCMP there for a number of years. I don't have to look very far for a connection with him, I know his successor at the media relations job who worked up here before I retired. He had just recently flown into Haiti, and spoke to his wife a half hour before the quake hit, saying he was tired and was going to have a nap.
International missions always bring their dangers. Mark Gallagher went because he wanted the challenge. Despite the dangers and hardships that international missions often bring, you'll find no shortage of members looking for those challenges. Many more members apply for them than there are positions available. I've known members that have gone on them, dating right back to our first one, Namibia. A troopmate of mine spent at least one tour in Haiti. I have friends who were profoundly effected by their tours in the Balkans. I longed to go on them, investigating the genocide in Rwanda was the top of that list. But circumstances, and commitment to family kept me from applying to any of them.
Mark Gallagher, and perhaps Doug Coates as well, fully expected to return home from his mission in Haiti. He felt it was a job worth doing, enough so that he left his family and familiar comforts to do it. He was aware that it would involve privations, and probable dangers. But I imagine that when he laid down for his nap an earthquake was one of the furthest things from his mind. He is the first RCMP casualty on an International mission, the result of a terrible, devastating event. His death, certainly only one amongst 10s of thousands, is as tragic as the others, but brings this event even closer than before.
He cared enough about Haiti to give his time, and eventually his life, for the opportunity to help. Please take some time today to give to one of the many organizations that are on the ground trying to help, such as the Red Cross, or the International Medical Corps. Do it in Mark Gallagher's memory, or just because it is the right thing to do. Hell, do it to spite Pat Robertson. Help mitigate this tragic disaster, help a country whose people just can't get a break.
UPDATE: for those of you who are not friends with me on Facebook. My current status there is related to the bra colour meme that bloomed through out Facebook the last few days. It reads...
challenges all those who posted their bra colour, and their friends, to
donate at least $5 to Haiti relief and post that challenge in their
status. Let your status do some real work rather than some amorphous
feel good gesture.