Saturday, January 28, 2012

Paul Watson's Revenge?

If you're familiar at all with my previous blog from Nunavut, you probably know eco-terrorist Paul Watson isn't exactly on the top of my Christmas wish list. I've been pretty harsh on him and deservedly so, here being but one example. I mention this because it seems that rather than fading off quietly into the dust bin of history, he has perhaps exacted some revenge.

Turns out, my son Gabriel is turning into a vegetarian. Both Lisa and I had decided before he was born to pursue a vegan diet for him. I'm not vegan myself, but unlike Watson, I prefer to keep an open mind on things. We figured once he was enough to feed himself (Gabriel, that is, not Watson) he could decide for himself. Now, Gabriel is very independent for a 10-month-old and has reached the stage where he only wants to feed himself. Lisa sent me some messages on my cell this morning to say that he was busy chowing down on some berries and bananas and while she did put some tuna in front of him last night, he refused to have anything to do with it. It will be interesting to see if this is just a phase he's going through or if the dormant carnivore I'm sure lies within will finally rouse itself. In the meantime I find the irony of it all rather....delicious.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Just to allay the fears of people following along on my Facebook I will soon be gainfully employed again. For those who many have missed it, we learned back in December (shortly before Christmas as it turned out) that my employer's contract with Suncor was not being renewed and that another company would be taking it over shortly into the new year. There was however, going to be a transition period so it wasn't as if I was going to find myself unemployed the following day.

To make a very long story short, there followed a pile of contradictory information from many different sides about out options. Unions and companies can definitely act like little children sometimes. Anyhow, I received my lay off notice this past Monday. I since I wasn't about to wait idly around waiting to hear back from either the company or the union while they dickered I sent out a flurry of resumes. I was told I could apply with the new company through the union which was great news. But when I checked the union board it was to discover that my name is 3647 on the list in terms of seniority which of course wasn't such great news. The new company also had my resume which I had submitted for consideration for office positions but I didn't want to wait around forever hence my little flurry of resume-sending over the past 48 hours.

Fast forward to last night an I got word that the new company was calling around to people that had already been with the new company. (There are 3 scaffold yards there so obviously they wouldn't just want a whole bunch of new people in there not knowing what they are doing.) I had planned to give a quick call to the new company this morning just to follow up on my resume but as it turns out they forestalled me and called me first. So next week I will be heading back to Suncor and my old job site, but wearing a different hard hat. And I can breathe a little easier this morning.

Ironically, this was the last of a bunch of photos I had on my laptop that I planned to randomly attach to future blog posts. The old Hill Drug Store, now sitting in the Heritage Park. Originally, it sat on Franklin Ave. where Campbell's Music is today....and now that I have a job to go to I can relax and no longer entertain thoughts of needing to break in looking for anxiety meds. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hardly Reality

I caught wind a few days ago on Fort McMurray Musings about a certain reality show that is being pitched. You can visit her post if you want to read more. Essentially, the producers of this show want to profile the lives of Fort McMurray woman who live affluent, pampered, drama-filled lives off the backs of their hard-working husbands/boyfriends on site. Believe me, I am doing my best to word this in order to avoid excessive amounts of profanity. But honestly, what a stupid, moronic idea for a show. What makes my blood boil even more is finding an ad for the show on Kijiji. Due to the ever-changing nature of the 'net, I re-post the body of the ad below rather than link to it so you can see for yourself in case the stupid thing disappears. (And yes, I couldn't let this trash do unchallenged without firing back my own profanity-laden response via Kijiji.)

Date Listed 19-Jan-12
Address 409 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1K1, Canada
View map
Job Type Full-Time
We're looking for women whose lives have been transformed by the oil industry. Does your husband/boyfriend work for the oil industry? Are your friends also oil-wives? Do you have a big personality that goes along with your big life$tyle!? Should you have your own television show?!

Proper Television is now casting 4-6 rig wives, ages 22-45 to star in this new docu-series. We're looking for a lively bunch, with HUGE personalities, living affluent, drama-filled lives.

Does this sound like you? If so, please click on this link to fill out our online questionnaire:

Please include a short 2-4 minute video of yourself. Tell us about you, your friends, what you do for fun! Tell us about your husband/boyfriend, his job, your life together and what you do when he's away working long hours. Show us your personality; give us a tour of your home/property. Have fun with it!!!

Upload your video to a private page on Youtube and include the link with your online questionnaire (above).


Once all video submissions are viewed the finalists will be chosen and calls/emails will go out to our 5 lucky ladies on their way to becoming Canada's new reality stars, good luck ladies.

On second thought......I wish this mindless crap would disappear.

Dear Producers of "Proper Television" [sic],

What an ironic name you give yourselves. This show idea is anything but proper. The 1950's are LONG over. The myth of the woman staying at home doing nothing (like it even existed to begin with) is gone. This is not a bedroom community of suburbs where the man goes to work while the woman stays home. Actually, if you knew anything at all about Fort McMurray beyond what a quick Google search would show you, you would know full well that a vast VAST majority of woman work in this town. And they work damn hard. Fort McMurray can be an expensive place to live. The real reality is that both husband and wife (or boyfriend and girlfriend) have to work to make ends meet. I'm while I'm at it, there is more here than just the husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic you focus on. I personally know many immigrants and minorities who work hard to support family back in their home countries. From my own work experience I know of many woman in the trades. They are supervisors, forewomen, and drive heavy machinery. One of the best forklift drivers I know at work happens to be female. But no, you wouldn't realize this as you focus so myopically on some dreamy fantasy perception of life here that simply doesn't exist. Feel free to dig out a thesaurus if you have difficulty deciphering any of my verbiage.........I'll wait.

Even the header on your own website demonstrates you don't have a clue! In your own word's...."Proper's focus is on all things factual, from reality through fact-ent [sic] to specialist factual." HUH? Setting aside that reality television is far from factual, it seems you can't even form proper sentences. For God's sake, my 10-month-old son has produced better things in his diaper than that gem.

In short, grow a brain and get lost. Would you go to Vancouver and portray all people there as hard-core drug-users or tree-huggers? Would you go to Nova Scotia and portray everyone there are fishermen or everyone in PEI as a bunch of Anne of Green Gables-hugging potatoe farmers? How about a reality show about reality show producers instead.....just a bunch brain-dead nobodies in search of exploiting the good people of our town for a quick buck. Now THAT's closer to reality.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Apparently I Haven't Lived Here Quite As Long As I Thought aka Conversation With A Creepy Bald Guy.

Its been almost two-and-a-half years since I moved out here and almost two years since I bought there house here. Perhaps I don't trumpet that fact enough (or perhaps just not to the right people) as I was reminded of over the past couple days. Sunday I received a letter in my mailbox addressed to the wrong person. It's been a number of months since I recall happening. So Joan B., if you're reading this, I have an envelope for you. Errant mail is understandable here given the migratory nature of a certain percentage of our population.

Mail is one thing. When people come to the door looking for someone else, though, that's just a little bizarre, and somewhat comical too. Late yesterday evening, I was doing what I do best on the Monday afternoons I have off, which is to say vegging and being lazy. I was brought back to reality by the door bell ringing. I was pretty sure it wasn't a tenant since one was home and it was a little early for the other one to be home from work. I figured it was someone looking for a room and was quickly rehearsing my "Sorry, but all my rooms are rented out now," shtick as I opened the door.

You know when I weird-looking bald guy with a hat is on your doorstep, it has the potential to be an odd conversation. I paraphrase our conversation here to the best of my ability....

Creepy bald guy - Hi are you Lorraine?

Me - No.

Creepy Bald Guy- Oh. Is there a Lorraine that lives here?

Me - No. Sorry.

Creepy Bald Guy- Really? How long have you lived here?

Me- I've lived in this house a couple years.

Creepy Bald Guy- Oh. Sorry. I've always done her steaks. Maybe I have the wrong house here.

Me (to myself) - Gee...ya think?

Creepy Bald Guy- I've been doing her meat for awhile. [I kid you not.....those were his exact words.] Well, you wouldn't be interested in some steaks?

Me- Nope.

Creepy Bald Guy- How about some ribs then? Pork chops?

Me- Nope, I'm good.

Creepy Bald Guy- Okay then, sorry to bother you. Have a nice night.

Now, I know I can go to the post office to deal with the mail man....never thought I'd have to deal with a meat man.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Definitely Not A Blue Monday

Apparently, today is Blue Monday. Pure pseudo-science of course. Today as rather productive as it turned out. With a little trepidation, I finished painting the living room this morning and while I was very conscious of the fact that I wouldn't be able to pull out an eraser if I screwed up, I have to say I'm pretty impressed with how things turned out. There are a few touch-ups I will have to do but its amazing how much a little paint can completely change the character of a room.

I had a productive conversation on the employment front and sent off a resume which potentially could keep me out at Suncor albeit with a different company. Funny that after a very unproductive conversation with my union office I can go strike out on my own and make much greater progress. So much for the whole "solidarity...we look out for our members" mantra.

And finally, on a completely different note, I've had a number of visitors to the yard over the past couple days. There are a number of birds I can count on as fairly regular visitors, and other than juncos, I've pretty much seen them all the past past two or three days. I even caught a few glimpses of a Blue Jay this morning which seem to hang out in everyone else's trees other than mine. Not too bad for a "Blue Monday".

View of the Athabasca River from the "Bridge to Nowhere."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Moments of Angst

Although there is a lot going on around here I'm not sure what to write about but seeing as this blog has been rather quiet as of late I will do my best here. i decided to book off a couple of extra days for the end of my last shift so rather than my usual four days, today starts a nice stretch of six. I've rarely taken extra days over the past year and half so I figured now was as good a time as any. As a further upshot I'll avoid working outside when the weather takes the huge dip predicted to arrive in the next few days.

I'm hoping to put the time to good use with a few things I need to do around the house but also so deal issues on the job front. With my employer losing its contract with Suncor, our time there is quickly winding down. Without going into detail simply switching hard hats and getting on with the new contractor has hit a few road blocks beyond our control. Without going in to detail there are a few of us at work that aren't exactly thrilled with out union at the moment. Anyhow, I have options so I suppose I shouldn't worry too much. Turns out that long before finding out our contract would not be renewed had done myself a huge favour by handing my resume in to my general foreman who in turn passed it on to his supervisor. So here goes. I know I shouldn't worry but it just in my nature.

On a brighter note, I have 6 days off and I've now succeeded on renting out each of the three rooms I had advertised. Everyone works long hours and I keep a quiet house which all three told me was a high point on their list. One tenant won't actually be moving in until February but he really wanted the room and nicely enough, was willing to pay the full rent up front in order to secure the room. So there you have it.

I have a few new books I'd like to tuck in to and I'm hoping my grosbeaks show up. I saw one early this morning as I headed out to run some errands but I don't get a chance to enjoy them (or the red polls that have been frequenting my backyard feeder) when my work hours see to it that I go long stretches when its always dark out when I find myself at home. I look forward to remedying this tomorrow.

Friday, January 6, 2012

George The Cat

For the past little while I had been hearing occasional snippets about a missing cat at the Edmonton airport. I didn't realize it until tonight that George the Cat was a local. Now even though I have a cat at the moment I remain more of a dog person than a cat person. All the same, welcome home George.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

When The Unclear Becomes Clearer and The Simple Becomes Difficult

I have to admit to a little angst and indecision as of late as our work contract with Suncor winds down. Fortunately, I have choices. It's just a matter of making the best choice, of course. I could stay with my employer or try to get picked up by the company taking over the contract. I could also go "into the field". A few courses and I could qualify as a second year apprentice. I could look for an office position with the company or send out resumes and seek employment in an entirely different direction. The first few years of my teaching career involved a number of moves so I'd rather just stay with the company. I wouldn't mind going into the field as I'm still at an age where it is feasible. In a worse case scenario, I could get laid off and not taken on by the new company. Each scenario has played through my mind lately and yes, there have been moments of angst. Knowing that your employment situation is going to change isn't exactly a great way to start of the new year.

As it turns out, things got a little interesting today. Without jinxing myself and going into great detail (because a lot of things are still up in the air) it turns out my general foreman has mentioned me to his supervisor and a position may open up in town where I would be working in a warm office with the supervisor as a planner for the company or something along those lines. Apparently, my foreman wants to set up a meeting next week involving himself, the supervisor and me to Hearing this little gem was definitely a nice way to end the day.

When I began the day I quipped that I must really lack a life because the highlight of my day was going to be when I got home and hooked up the new shower head for a hot shower. (The old one is woefully inadequate and I didn't yet have a proper wrench to get the new one connected.) With wrench in hand, I found myself standing in the shower in my birthday suit (sorry for the horrid visual) eager to get the new shower head attached. Sounds simple enough, screwing on a new shower head. Only, for some reason, the rubber washers didn't want to cooperate so I ended up just spraying water all over the place before putting the old shower heard back on. I'm sure there is a simple solution but after a 12-hour day it seems I am fairly inept at performing simple tasks.

Finally, so you are not left with nightmarish thoughts of me installing a shower head au naturel, I give you this 2009 photo of Fort McMurray's first bank, now a fixture in the local heritage park. (Yes, I had some bills to pay today.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Dirty Secret

One of my many little quirks is that I have a tendency to collect things and never seem able to throw anything out. I guess I am a collector by nature. I wouldn't say that I'm a hoarder or anything. Sure I have lots of books and CDs but nothing too crazy. Occasionally though, things tend to accumulate unintentionally as I realized this afternoon while going through some of my clothes.

Due to the outdoor nature of work, we are supplied with balaclavas and glove liners. Normally, I'll wear a couple balaclavas under my hard hat to keep my head warm. At the end of the day, rather than throw them out, I stuff them in my bag along with my glove liners but the following work day I'm not always good at digging them out of my bag so I'll grab fresh ones. Slowly these balaclavas and glove liners began a slow migration from work to my work bag to my closet at home. (I find them convenient on my days off if I'm out and about. If I come across one in a coat pocket or my work bag, I tend to wash them up and re-use them.)

Not all the guys at work are as good at re-using stuff so there is the odd day where items like balaclavas and glove liners are in short supply at work. I once joked that at the rate I was going, no one on my shift would have to worry about work running out of these winter items since I was sure a day would come when I would have saved up enough of them to supply everyone for the day.

I think that day may have arrived. And I may have outdone myself. This morning I counted 13 pairs of glove liners and 14 balaclavas in my closet. That's actually enough to supply pretty much both shifts together on most days.

Fort McKay River, winter 2010.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Of Books and B&B's

With the new year comes a chance for reflection and to set some new goals. Two long-term goals that have been increasingly on my mind lately are ones I've had for a few years now and I'm slowly starting to plan out for them. First, my goal of operating my own Bed and Breakfast one day. I'd start tomorrow if I could but of course I will take the time to do my homework on it. There are a few areas of the country I've been considering and its been a lot of fun so far imagining the final product. I'm a tad young compared to most people who get into the Bed and Breakfast field so I know I still have plenty of time. In the mean time I have a couple tenants in place so I see this as a practice run for running a B&B in the future. That and some much needed bathroom renovations should keep me busy enough.

I know that it will be a lot of work but I hope to take some of my time while operating my future B&B to pursue goal number 2, writing a book. Friends and family that have been following both this blog and my Nunavut blog have often told me I really should sit down and write a book about all my experiences. At first, this was just a fantasy of sorts, but lately I've been giving it more serious thought. In addition to my blogs I have a number of journals going back to about 2001 I hope to draw material from as well. I figure if I rely solely on my blogs for material, people will just read those rather than buying my book. I've always been an avid reader, so writing a book seems the next logical step. Anyhow, I'll see how things shape up in the new year. It's always good to start off the new year with lofty goals.

Northern Alberta morning, 2009