Thursday, August 31, 2006

Does the plot thik'n?

Unconfirmed reports are that something is afoot on the VNBC strike front. There is some stuff going on around a bouts, but in interest in solidarity with strikers I will not say.
The MV Astron that usually does the freight run out of Cartwright for the North Coast is storm bound at moment south of Cartwright; at least that is the official story. The Astron has a full load out of Lewisport is the information some have received here.
Maybe nothing, maybe something, but local knowledge says that it is the wrong time of year for a full load out of lewisport for the communities of the north coast. Ching ching ching.

Some more Hopedale shots.

View of older part of town.

Little brook on rocks.

Rock hockey in Hopedale [Frans words not mine] Fran and Kendra.

Dog teams summer place.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What's left of the Old Hopedale DEW line site.

graffiti, highest point of site, view east, not too shabby is it?

The more things change the worse things get.

NL Minister for Transport John Hickey was interviewed by CBC Goose Bay this morning. The interview mainly centered on roads in Quebec, kind of strange, or is it just me. Mr. Hickey said he will be seeking a meeting with the Quebec counterpart to urge them to start work on upgrading the 389 that links to the Tran Labrador Highway. See here

Problem with all this talk I see is, I have not heard any announcement that the Feds are anteing up their portion for either the TLH or the proposed work on roads in the lower North Shore, until we hear that all is a mute point and just baffle gab as both governments have said any work is contingent on Federal monies...sigh.

In keeping with CBC Goose BayÂ’s policy of not covering stories that effect the North Coast there was no mention of the Ministers recent visit to the North Coast, like the day before yesterday.
The Northern Ranger service and operation continues to regress, roads can do with some upgrading, fresh food that is either flown in of boated in continues to regress just to name a few issues, yet no mention from CBC, or the Minister, onwhetherr this was talked about on his visit.

Given the lack of coverage of anything Northern Labrador by CBC of late I have thought up a new name for the Goose Bay operation; SCLBC or South Central Broadcasting Corporation.

Monday, August 28, 2006

More on Hopedale.

While in Hopedale I noticed that some work was being done at the old cemetery [grass being cut revealing old headstones].
With not much to do one day I wandered in to have a look. About 30 headstones had been revealed, all lying on the ground. Some were legible, some not, all but two were of burial places of woman, all were German by the look of it.
The oldest one that I could make out was inscribed; Elizabeth Schneider 25th march 1721 Boatswain [as best I could make out] Moravia 23 Dec 1797.
Another ; Beata Glitsch 3 Maerz 1842. Also; Beath Beck 5 juny 1846.
Beatus Elsner 4 July 1852.
Beatus Bubser geboron den 23 Mar 1854.
One was just inscribed; Mathilde Jnnuiertok 1804 angerartok Oct 1857.

I presume the whole cemetery will be cleared some time, quite a large job.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Credit Due.

I received my August 12 Bell ExpressVu bill on Friday. It was much anticipated given the reception problems and my constant interaction over the last six weeks with ExVu, CRTC, Telesat.
The bill is four pages of some what confusing charges and credits, some items I have been charged for I do not remember asking for in my package, I will deal with them on that later.
The bottom line is that in the AMOUNT DUE I have a credit of 25.34 bucks. That’s not too shabby seeing as I pay out the full amount owing, and on time, each month. So I have a free month and 25.34cr.
I wonder if all ExVu customers received the same treatment, I know of several customers here who have received a credit, but the problem was northern Canada wide.
The problem of low signal strength on numerous transponders still exists; I’m waiting on a clear sunny work day to call my contact at Telesat to try tweaking the signals up some what. Not sure how much change can be effected; if it is in the NOT MUCH category then ExVu will have to rearrange their pricing packages to reflect the constant disruption to our viewing pleasures.
One other thing of note that is missing from the bill, no indication of why I was given the credit, no apology for the angst caused by ExVu policy of ‘admitt nothing’ and ‘blame the customer’. Because of my contact with knowledgeable technical people in this field I did not go through many of the hoops and expence ExVu put other customers through, ExVu bad.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Scene's taken on Northern Ranger, 23 Aug. lll

Having fun or whar?

The two guys who cleaned up the lounge.

Tourists and locals mingle.

Scallop dragger in the run.

Scene's taken on Northern Ranger, 23 Aug. ll

A couple of young Nainimuks cleaned up the lounge, then numerous people did sessions on the guitars and these two ladies sang along to "Labradorimut", I choked a bit.

It was a magnificent day to be on the water heading into Nain, no wonder people put up with the third world provincially operated ferry service; but for how much longer? One has to ask.

Scene's taken on Northern Ranger, 23 Aug.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Couple more pics of Hopedale.

Amaruk Inn and part of origianl community.
Rear of Moravian church complex.

Some shots from Hopedale trip.

1. Fran enjoying the streets of her youth.
2. New subdivision.
3. Moravain [front of] mission complex.

4. Showers over the airstrip
5. Lonely husky.
So my search for the PWG on the North Coast of NL came up empty. Not even a flag pole at the main building complex in Hopedale.

No sign of any PWG in the new or older sections of town [you will have to take my word for it]. Actually there was a dearth of flags of any type or color. I only noticed two flags, the washed out faded ones of the new Nunatsiavut Government, and I hope they asked for their money back on that lot, very poor quality indeed.
I only made it to the dock in Natuashish but I am positive that not a one PWG flag would be found there either; you will have to trust me on that too.

There was a lot of great rock formations, here’s just two in B&W.

Friday, August 18, 2006

In search of the elusive PWG.

After an unsuccessful search of the town for the allegedly prevalent PWG flag I leave today for Hopedale to continue, where I’m almost positive my search will be just as fruitless.
For those not familiar with the PWG, it is a flag of old, it was flown, I’m told, in Newfoundland many years ago to represent the colony, then self governed Newfoundland, or at least some aspects of same. In modern times the PWG has been taken up by Newfoundland nationalists and disgruntled townies, or so I’m told.
While I’m on my search I will take the chance to visit some of my in-laws, and spend some time with Fran, who took the Northern Ranger down on Wednesday.
For the record, all the flags I did come across, and there are many on cars, boats, flag poles, were maple leafs, tri color Labrador flags, and the most prevalent being the washed out looking one with the Inukshuk on it[they got’a do something about that]. I do remember seeing the flag of NL up poles at times, but only on special events it seems.

At the moment it is planed that we will return on the next run north of the Ranger. I love that trip; alas the Ranger is worse for wear and lack of care.

After a cool several days down in the single digits we are back up into the high teens, even into low twenties at times. The little garden of flowers I planted out front is finely starting to show some color, lot’s of people stopping to have a look. My second crop of lettuce is starting to show promise, and the few tomato plants are slowly stretching up, will bring them inside after September and have fresh tomatoes for Christmas, I hope.

Being a cloudless day yesterday I called the Telesat honcho to see if he could do more tweaking with the weak ExpressVu signals. He called back and we went through all the transponders again. He seemed puzzled by the read outs and has to go over them with other folk at Telesat. We will get together again when I return from Hopedale. I still have not heard from ExpresVu in any follow up from my complaints to CRTC, except the one call from their Toronto office a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Friendly Port.

I'm assuming that the 'Atlantic Future' came in out of the gale yesterday. Quitted down today, but still lot of low cloud and fog with drizzle. Most of the scallop boats are out today, busy at the plant with two shifts now.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

From the photo memory book.

On the way to Watson's Bay by ferry, Sydney Harbor, August 2001

Aimee and Fran on the path above The gap, Sydney 2001.

Third picture is of the top of The gap. Years ago this spot was used quite often for people who were fed up with life as they new it. The is a fence right along, but it is only about 4 feet high.

The weather is wanked dudes.

See, the weather forecaster people get it right at times, like if you predict something for long enough it will happen. Yesterday was RDF all day, today we have some serious rain and the wind is picking up to a mini gale. I would not want to be out in a tent in this sure, but I know some who are, my thoughts are with you.

Things quite on the strike at the mine. A few of the lads have peen picketing near the VBNC office all week; they finely had some ‘official’ signs come in. The Nunatsiavut Government has again called for both sides to get back to the table. Leader William Andersen says that the government will not get involved on either side. Guess that puts the kybosh to appeals from some of the strikers asking the Nunatsiavut Govt. to do an early release of the next five thousand dollar pay out to beneficiaries. This pay out is over a couple of years, it goes by age groups starting with the older to the younger. I won’t comment on this as I thought it was a stupid thing to do with monies that are already in short supply. OK, I did comment.

Given it’s such a gloomy day I thought I would get into something different. Noticed these pictures, taken from a cell phone [mobile down under] by

First one is the sky line of Sydney taken from a walking path near The Gap at Watson’s Bay. Now if you want to talk about great harbors of the world Sydney sure can not be left out. From memory they don’t empty untreated sewage into it either, but that’s another story.

Second picture is part of the cliffs at The Gap, you cam make out the walking path, and some seriously dangerously situated houses. Back down the hill towards the harbor are a couple of attractions visitors to Sydney should not avoid. The Watson’s Bay Hotel and Doyle’s restaurants and take out fish and chips on the wharf.
You can get there by road, but by far the best way is a ferry from Circular Key near the bridge. In my travels I’d forgotten what great fish and chips are really like. There are many good spots to get F&C in Oz, but it is hard to beat the setting and atmosphere at Watson’s Bay. We stopped in on our visit in 01. You order your meal; everything is fresh and cooked as you order. You can sit at some of the tables on the wharf, take away, or just stroll to the park and sit down with the sea gulls. I had battered flathead, fresh oysters, and chips. The others went for crab, chips and mussels.

The hotel has an outdoor restaurant, part of which is on the beach fronting the harbor. It was quite crowded on our visit, so we strolled in the park after scoffing most of meal at a table on the wharf.
It sure is a pleasant way to while away some hours.

On the Bell ExpressVu front there have been developments of sorts. On Friday a little birdie told me that some one from ExVu had been making inquiries of some of their customers by phone. Customers were asked if they were having troubles of the reception kind. Response was in the affirmative. Customers were then asked if they knew of me, and CRTC was mentioned, but I'm not sure of the context.
Interesting indeed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Won the battle, not yet the war.

I was able to watch my beloved McNeil News Hour last evening, the first time in weeks. All the offending transponders on the ExpressVu system were up with readings in the low to high 60Â’s. Still not high enough for bad weather, but ok for sunny to cloudy.

The news hour was a little disappointing though; the whole hour was taken up by reports and interviews on the latest arrest of alleged terrorists in England. While I agree that this is very news worthy, and some things need to be reported to the public for their safety, I do not think there was enough information on who, what, where for this story to take up so much of an hour news program. Of course CNN was blanket coverage, with little to nothing new to report for hours on end.
I did see some where a report of how the recent cease fire in Darfur has resulted in 27 thousand more people being displaced, and the atrocities on the increase. Also mentioned some where was a report stating that the authors of the report thought that the westÂ’s attitudes and approach to the problems in Africa border on racist. Well color me white!

The balmy weather continues, lot of cloud and light rain at times, but it gets up to the middle to high teens most days.
We were expecting a visit from old work mates of FranÂ’s these past two days. They were on a small [90Ft] cruise ship. The ships itinerary was flexible, but it was indicated it would get into Nain. Unfortunately no sign of her, bummer really, Fan was excited with the prospect of seeing these people after 30 years, thems the breaks.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hassle Inc.

I have read places that Bell ExpressVu is a company that is some what difficult to deal with when problems arise with their sytem.

Well we up in the northern latitudes can now attest to that sure. For around six weeks an unknown number of customers of ExVu have been calling about weak to no signal on about 8 transponders. As I have mentioned before, the run around was given in no uncertain manner, even when many customers tried to explain that this was a community or regional problem the same spiel was given, “it is only an isolated issue, check this check that”. This went on for many weeks. One could be excused for thinking there was some sort of avoidance here on the part of the company. At best there is a distinct lack of coordination and correlation in their technical help system. The dots should have been connected a lot sooner as to a wide ranging problem.
After checking with a variety of sources over a fairly wide geographic area, it became clear to me that something was amiss, either with uplink or down link with the satellite.

After many phone calls, e mails to ExVu, and the CRTC, I finely received a call on the evening of the 8th from a person in the executive office of ExVu. He admitted there was a wide ranging problem, mainly in the northern latitudes, and from BC to NL to Nunavut.
So the admittance of a problem was there, unfortunately no idea given as to what the problem was, or how long to correct it. Also not given to me was any promise of re imbursements for the lost programming.
Earlier on the same day I had called Telesat, who operate the satellite, so I already had information as to the wide ranging area of the problem. Telesat did not admit to what the problem was, just that their was a problem.

So we sit and wait. Not for long though, yesterday I get a call from a gentleman at Telesat, he asked me if I would be kind enough to help with monitoring the signals while he attempted to set things right. I agreed to do this, in for a penny in for a pound as they say.

So he called back in the afternoon and I spent an hour on the phone as he came and went doing what ever it was he was doing. Seems there were other people on the line with him also. The end result was that all the problem transponders had their signal strength raised, some substantially, others just a small bit.
What made it more difficult is that just as he called to do the corrections it started to rain in Nain, so this affected any accurate test of the signal strength. So it was left until the weather patterns clear and we will most likely do it again.
There was some interference last evening as usual, but not as bad as previous. This morning the signals are up, but the main effects are as the sun goes down and into the early evening, when all the good shows and news are on, so we await again with crossed fingers.

We will also wait to see what Bell ExpressVu comes up with in the restitution field. I have spoken to several people who are fed up, and if they get treated like this again, or are not treated fairly with some rebates, then they are going to look else where for their television service.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In like a lion, out like a ?????????

I zoomed passed the LG and his entourage [on my 18 speed] as they came out of the Nunatsiavut offices yesterday. They were all spruced up in their suites and uniforms, quite fitting I suppose.
Unlike we first were told, Ed departed the HMSC Montreal here and headed back south. Seemed a bit of a let down, arrive on a Halifax-class frigate; depart on a scheduled run of a Dehavilland twin Otter. Word is that a helicopter owned by a keen political party supporter was supposed to pick Ed up for the trip south; it did not work out for unknown reasons.

Speaking of things that don’t work out; I have it on good authority that a recent run of the Sir Robert Bond was a little over crowded. There were people who embarked at Cartwright for the run to Goose Bay who not only could not get a birth, but could not get a seat to sit on. Standing up for any length of time, because there are no available seats, is not what one would call ‘having a vision for the future of tourism in the province’.

After the long weekend I will be back on the attach with Bell ExpressVu, Telesat and the CRTC over the on-going satellite signal problems, going on for 7 weeks now. It’s very frustrating and humiliating the way people get treated by the corporate agenda and there public minions, but I’m determined to get this thing resolved, not that I’m alone, but you can’t get ExVu to admit any one else has the same problem and has reported it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Monday Morning.

It's a civic holiday in town today, not lot's going on, lot of people "gone off", some hanging around for the Lt. Governor who came in early on the Montreal, anchored off. The Moncton is at the dock.

CBC was reporting that the strike at VBNC in Voisey's Bay could last up to two months. Inco claim to have enough concentrate stockpiled to last awhile. There is a good pile at the dock up the bay, strikers are talking about blocking any attempt to get it out to Ontario or Manitoba.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

More this n that.

What a beautiful weekend to date. Warmer again, nice breeze keeping bugs to a minimum.
Lot of action down the dock last evening what with the coast guard vessel Mathew in for a crew change and fuel. Then the scallop boats lining up at the crane to off load the days catch, plus local speed boats arriving back from fishing, hunting etc. Very nice idyllic scene indeed.
Not sure why they have allowed six boats to drag for scallop, the plant is not really geared up for that many boats, seems an ideal number would be no more that four.

No more word on the strike at Voisey’s Bay mine, not sure how long VBNC can keep a couple of hundred workers over there without production, if that’s what’s really happening.

The whole town has been invited to break bread with Ed tomorrow. The queen’s representative Lt. Governor Ed Roberts is due in for a few hours. I’m told he is coming in on another coast guard vessel, the Montreal. Also supposed to be in is the Moncton. Busy little harbor sure.
Ed is supposed to go as far north as Saglek, the ships will head on up to Nunavut with some Rangers on board. It’s the usual showing of the flag thing, sovereignty and all that. Plus everybody and his dog wants to make an appearance at the new Torngat National Park reserve.

After several days of total frustration with dealing with a Canadian company and there stunned help line system [Bell ExpressVu] it was a welcome relief to deal with an American company. Had occasion to call the Continental Airlines lost baggage help line desk. First call I spoke to an Asian sounding man who was very helpull and friendly, he helped sort out the incorrect and incomplete information in their system. I had to call back late last night as the luggage was to be delivered to St.John’s before heading up here. A lady with a distinct southern drawl was also very helpful, and did not mind one bit that she did not know where the hell Nain was in relation to YYT. So get off your bloody high horse Canada corporate, your second rate by a long shot.
The luggage is still a big if, one piece is not located and one is in St.John’s to be sent up tomorrow, but the whole experience of dealing with people who seem to know what they are doing, and do not mind things being pointed out to them, was quite up lifting.

Not sure if this story spreads an ominous cloud over Goose Bay or not. One could wonder how many special reaction troops does Canada need, or better yet can recruit. The number seems familiar; the PC’s were promising 750 for Goose Bay. Maybe the NL nationalists are not fear mongering all that much after all.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Other stuff.

I spent part of the afternoon listening to the first internet broadcast of Radio Free Labrador [RFL] Some great music, wish them well, perhaps this will help bring the eclectic parts of Labrador closer. I sent an e mail to them while on air, something about the accent of the host, BBC and the colonies. Not sure if host was being careful or what, or perhaps it was me being from the antipodes with a different sense of humor. Any way I think I sorted out any confusion with a second e mail.

Man I’m steaming and ready to pop. Spent good part of the morning and some of afternoon on the phone and e mails with Bell ExpressVu, CRTC and Telesat Canada.
There has been a Labrador wide problem with ExVu satellite for at least six weeks. This is not the first time I, or for that matter others, have informed ExVu of the problem, but the refusal to deal with the issue is to say the least frustrating. I would love to come face to face with some executive from Bell, and to a lesser extent from the CRTC, it would be rumble in the jungle for sure.

I never deal with these people while under any banned or legal substances, so now I’m about to partake in a legal substance.............or two. Will get back to the above people next week, they will be sick of this grumpy ol bloke for sure if they don’t get their act together.
Have a nice evening everyone.

Noticed a picket up near the local VBNC office this afternoon, pity the local has not sent in some decent signs. Only one or two at max strickers there.

Breaking 2.

According to the company; workers have been brought in from outside of Labrador to keep the power plant operating at the site.
"This violates the letter of the Impact and Benefits Agreement [IBA] between the company and Aboriginal groups" according to the president of the Steel Workers local at the site. The president of the local also works in the power plant, when not on strike that is.
A spokes person for the Nunatsiavut Government said they are looking at the situation to see if any breaches have occurred.
Kind of a gray and muddy area if you ask me. An IBA has provisions for hiring percentages of local people, so what happens when the locals withdraw there labor? Wonder if that was taken into account in drawing up the IBA?


Nunatsiavut Government issued a press release on Tuesday [that I only noticed this morning] stating their concern that the IBA may have/is being breached due to the strike. It does not take sides and hopes that both sides can get the dispute over with quickly, so all parties are not overly impacted in negative way.


CBC is reporting:
Union are claiming that replacement workers are doing the jobs of striking workers. Example; people have been brought in to maintain electricity to site. "That is my job" claims a striking worker. Company is claiming that it is not doing anything wrong, and it's OK to bring a few people in to keep power and heat to the workers not on strike.
Solution; send the non striking workers home, or have management do the work.
More to follow.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Strike chatter.

Some talk over at freenewfoundlandandlabrador about the strike at Voisey’s Bay VBNC site, something about the unfairness of wages and the fact that the resources are being taken out of the province. One thing for sure is that Ottawa can’t be blamed for allowing the resources to be taken out to Ontario. Politicians in this province of all levels and all stripes went along with that big con job.

As to wage parity, as far as I can tell there is a $5.00 an hour difference between Voisey’s Bay and other INCO facilities. At least in the mill where most of the strikers seem to be from. There are other issues in the grievance, but they are not being talked about. I don’t think that difference would come to $30,000 a year as is the speculation.
Workers for VBNC get a set salary per month, with overtime added if worked. Shifts are two weeks on two weeks off.

Travel costs by air are covered by VBNC from anywhere on the north coast and out of Goose Bay. There was rumblings some time ago about expanding that free travel outside Labrador, not sure what came of it.
VBNC workers while at the site receive free accommodations and three free meals a day. TV, access to internet, telephones recreation room, exercise room are all there. Not a big compensation for being away from home, but no one is holding a gun to any ones head to go work there.

As to coastal strikers, the big worry I would think is to prevent, if possible, any shipping movement into Antalok Bay, and to some how prevent any strike breakers from starting the mill up again. I see on the VBNC web site that they have removed any indication of shipping in the next little while, next due ship is September, OR NOT.

I’m just writing this for information purposes, some may have gathered that I’m no fan of the whole shebang.
Artist in residence.

Artist leaving residence for the wilds of Labrador.

Not on the big one, on the one to left.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Double Yum Yum

Caught a nice looking recipe for blue berry/nectarine crunch on a cooking show last week. Thought I would try it some time.

As is usual up here one has to improvise, and not wanting to risk life and limb by using my wife’s fresh blue berries, I thawed out some frozen red berries, cut up some nectarines made my usual pie crust for the bottom; mixed rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, some nuts for the top, and presto, red berry/nectarine cobbler, or kuchen. It was a little on the bitter side, blue berries would have addressed that I would think, but I like desserts to have some bitterness, seems others think it is OK as not much left this morning.

The fish plant should get a lot busier this week. They have had just two boats dragging for scallop all season, late last week three more boats arrived, so barring breakdowns and weather they should be smoke’n. Speaking of which, a good amount of char have been coming in with a good portion of that being smoked.

Weather is unsettled, rain, drizzle, cloudy, could be like that for rest of week.

CBC’s Ann Budgell interviewed Elizabeth Penashue this morning. Elizabeth is worried what the proposed Hydro development on the Lower Grand River [Churchill] will do to the ecology and environment. Ann tried twice to get Elizabeth to address the question of benefits to local business people, and business peoples concern for local employment. Elizabeth would not be side tracked, and only wanted to talk about her concerns for the people and their environment, which I may add are a lot more genuine than any local business persons. I might add Ann was just doing her job.