Wednesday, January 13, 2010

If you are reading this then the North Coast of Labrador is back from its enforced sabbatical from internet and long distance service.

This will be the longest post I have put on Blogger to date, it will be in chronological order and its length dependent on when Aliant gets to repair damaged microwave towers and any ancillary damage to their coastal network and Blogger formatting.

Dear Diary, 6th January 2010: Sixth day of crapped out weather, only one passenger plane in that time, no mail or freight planes since Thursday.

Now this morning the long distance phones and internet are down. According to CBC Labrador Morning these services are down from Cartwright to Nain, plus Goose Bay are without cell phone service, oh my, poor old Goose Bayimuts.

So we are reduced to listening to the soothing voice of Tony Dawson to keep us all relatively sane, then there is Satellite Television if you have it.

If and when we are back on line I will post these photographs from around town taken on Tuesday.

No ceiling at all from the airstrip.

The new trail groomer [road groomer] was doing runs around the community to level out the bumps. Unfortunately with the soft mushy snow it is rather futile IMO.

In my years here I can not remember not being able to go along the shore harbor ice as a means of commuting from one end of town to the other in January.

Something is afoot for sure, but society will continue to spew all sorts of pollution and chemicals and carcinogens into the atmosphere, must have those jobs so we can all perish in relative material comfort you know.

The upside is Environment Canada’s prediction of up to 20 cm of snow last night did not eventuate, perhaps the precip was in the form of rain cause it is awful wet looking out on those roads.

Dear Diary, 7th January 2010: Seventh day of crapped out weather, only one passenger plane in that time, no mail or freight planes since last Thursday.

Second day of no long distance or internet service. This means no banking for people who do on line and telephone banking, no banking at the local bank branch either one would assume as all transactions are done over the internet.

Yesterday it rained or drizzled all day turning to light snow in the evening. Not great weather to be out being chased by Nalljuks. It was the last day of the Christmas festivities here; we can take the tree down now.

The up side is heating bills are way down. With the temperatures hovering around 0 to plus two for four days the furnace does not kick in that often.

Looks dark out so guess it is cloudy again, no precip yet, see what the day brings.

Some hours later, when daylight broke, we were socked in with low cloud and light to moderate snow.

A spokesperson for Aliant mentioned that telephone service to the north coast will be restored dependent on weather conditions and a crew being able to access the Tower at Double Mer near Rigolet. She mentioned that all internet was now restored. That my dear Watson is a little white lie; we do not have it back in Nain at the time of the interview, or for hours after for that matter.

Dear Diary, 8th January 2010: Eighth day of crapped out weather, only one passenger plane in that time, no mail or freight planes since last Thursday of last week.

Third day of no internet or long distance:

There was clearing and lifting of the cloud mid afternoon on Thursday. People are coping well, no threats on storming Confederation Building or separation from Newfoundland. I am sure if that happened there would not be too many tears shed, except maybe for our MHA, but I digress.

CBC On the Go had a report of an Aliant crew hovering in a helicopter over the tower at Double Mer yesterday afternoon. They were unable to land due to weather, if they could not get down the crew would return to Goose Bay and try again Friday.

I do not know if that is over dramatizing the situation, a bad choice of words, or perhaps they were hovering above the clouds looking for a hole. Whatever, we still have no change in the communication situation.

CBC’s erstwhile weather man Ryan Snodden’s modeling has another nasty weather front circling in from the Atlantic that may hit Rigolet south to Cartwright today.

All these crappy fronts are coming up from the south, hitting a huge cold water patch out in the North Atlantic and circling back on us. By us I mean the Island and Labrador. This is not the norm for this time of year, for Nain the flows and wind direction come from the West North West.

Over in Brittan and Northern Europe they are getting hit with storms the like that have never been experienced before. Mid and Southern US is getting snow and below 0 temperatures.

Move on folks, northing to see here, go about your business spewing industrial crap into the atmosphere.

Dear Diary, 9th January 2010: Ninth day of crapped out weather [with a rider]. Weather did not clear Friday but the ceiling lifted enough for at least six planes plus one Air Inuit from Northern Quebec, one bag of first class mail by mid afternoon, not sure what else after that, the first movement since Thursday of last week.

Forth day of no long distance or internet: According to an Aliant spokesperson these services have be restored for Rigolet but not to communities [5 plus VB mine site] north of Rigolet. They went on to say the damage to the tower at Double Mer seems to be severe but technicians will not land there until the weather improves.

The good news is there looks to be some sun in the forecast for the next several days.

Temperatures dropped slowly Friday down to about -10 this morning. There were a couple of people out on the ice yesterday, though with a flat for safety. Still many open patches and the Air Inuit pilot said there was still a lot of open water in the bays to the north west of us.

Some lessons learnt these past four days: If Fran had her druthers she could do without the internet but not without long distance. I would not like to be the people who took away her right to snail mail.

If I had my druthers I most definitely could not do without the internet and could get by without long distance.

Stamps go up again Monday, the annual ritual, postage goes up every year at this time whether they need to or not. While in the post office yesterday we received a heads up on the increase and a chance to save a few cents, after Fran thanked the heads upper she was told that “that was OK, you send lots of letters”.

I don’t think I have mentioned this before, people who rely on Cable Television for there news and entertainment have been without that service since around mid December. For some reason, weather being one, a technician has not been able to get in to fix the problem.

These people have been left with just the two free to air channels, CBC and APTN, both of which the Cable Company piggy backs off the CBC free to air transmission in town.

Boy, the memories of days past when we had cable TV, those many protracted, bordering on the nasty, battles I had with the then cable provider and the CRTC, who by the way are there to protect the industry and not the consumer as they would like people to think. .

So all in all not a great month or so for modern communications services, it sure shows how much we have become reliant on these services. For me the internet is the most important, if used smartly and correctly it can counteract the overabundant flow of south north communications and proper gander.

Dear Diary, 10th January 2010: Still have nor seen any sun but the clouds lifted to high overcast, lots of planes for a Saturday, helicopters arriving and buzzing around.

Fifth day of no long distance or internet service: Saturday morning we noticed a chopper arrive and go straight up to the Aliant tower up back of us. It hovered for a short time then left and landed over at the Hydro plant.

A time later noticed two hydro guys on ski doos go up the pole line towards the Aliant tower and stay for some time. I have no idea if it has any relation to our communication problems.

I was having a chat with a couple of people who were on the early flights that arrived on Friday. The weather did look a bit iffy with low ceiling and gusty winds but apparently a couple of early flights really frightened many on board.

Hopedale approach was a bumpy and a very rough landing but on approach to Nain some thought the landing would be aborted, when it was not they figured it would be their last.

I was starting to think that this 19th century style communications thing is not such a bad idea. More peace of mind and if worked on a little we could be OK without long distance telephone and internet.

Then reality hit me in the arse big time, there is so much injustice in the world, sure Northern Labrador is just small potatoes in the big picture, non the less there are many wrongs that need to be corrected still, so all the tools available have to be utilized to maintain a level playing field.

Then there are people who have relatives outside and are worried if their loved ones arrived back in Nain safely, and visa versa.

Then there all the levels of government departments that need to communicate with other government departments to operate effectively. We are in a bad enough state at it is with modern communications, imagine what it would be like with none at all for a protracted amount of time.

Just back inside from some outdoor activity [Sunday]. Now that is January weather, around -18 or so, sun shinning, nice little breeze, the harbor ice looks like it may freeze nicely if these temperatures keep up.

Dear Diary, 11th January 2010: Sixth day of no long distance and internet. It is taking getting used to not having any communication with the outside world; maybe if we all go back to using snail mail Canada Post will drop their cost of stamps. I was listening to a CP spokesperson rationalizing the latest increase, “an increase in the number of customers and a decrease in the volume of mail, plus upgrading aging facilities and sorting machinery”. This from the bloke who once told the people on the North Coast of Labrador to move if it cost to much to live here.

So over all the town is coping very well with this break down in communications. I joined a group formed just recently; it meets several times a week and has a surprisingly high number of members. So many in fact that there is not a building large enough in town so each meeting is attended depending on what section of town you live, upper, middle and lower sections.

The group has a rather long name at present; it’s called ‘Let’s all pray that Aliant’s chickens, turkeys and partridge have wooden legs in perpetuity’.

There are sessions in personal relationships, verbalizing face to face, key board withdrawal counseling. My favorite is at the end of each session where we all sit in a circle and stuck pins in dolls that are wearing tiny Aliant tee shirts.

The latest news on the situation is, no news is not good news. Unconfirmed reports are that Aliant were in town briefly and have left. The main problem is at the Tower at Double Mer near Rigolet as reported by Aliant last week. The unconfirmed part is that the tower has a sever lean or bend to it caused by heavy ice build up around the micro wave dish.

Update: Confirmed reports are that the above mentioned tower has collapsed under about 30 tons of ice build up.

Crews and gear have been brought into the site over the weekend, this will allow for a temporary fix with long distance being the first priority. There is no guess as to how much longer it will be for the temporary repairs to come into affect and no mention at all on high speed internet service being restored. The tower will be replaced permanently come summer.

Later: The bad news is [it always gets worse it seems] is that we are now socked down in a more typical winter storm. Snow and blowing snow from the NW, makes one feel more at home.

The real bad news would be if Double Mer is experiencing the same weather, and from all reports they may well be.

Dear Diary, 12th January 2010: 7th day of no long distance and internet. Weather yesterday caused cancellation of planes, which resulted in the postponement of the annual Regional Inuktitut Speak Off that was to be held at the school last evening.

CBC Here & Now had a photograph of the tower at Double Mer that is the cause of all this. The tower was all but horizontal on the ground with the ice build up still evident, hell of a lot of ice for sure.

All aspects of life on the North Labrador Coast are starting to feel the pinch now. No credit or debit cards, no banking, no one can file their EI claims, retailers can not send orders out to replenish their stock.

Most retailers are giving people credit on purchases. Social Services can not file claims as all there fillings are done electronically and the list goes on.

Northern in Nain is allowing people to file EI claims on their intranet system, not sure how that works but it does.

People who need to contact some one up here and who is not in the province must be wondering what the hell is going on.

Some people are wondering allowed why Aliant does not have a back up system, redundancy so to speak. I guess one reason would be cost, then again the cost to Aliant for an extended shut down may cause a re think on that. Maybe another technology could be utilized, especially if the weather patterns change to more wet freezing rain and warmer temperatures in the winter months, just thinking allowed it is I am. Other people are asking why the Company and Government are not taking the situation as serious as if say this happened down on the Avalon Peninsular or anywhere on the Island portion of the province. They speculate that more resources and seeking of assistance would be emphasized.

Listening to the Aliant PR person this morning it is clear [after reading between the lines] that work is progressing slowly mainly due to the weather conditions.

Dear Diary, 13th January 2010: Surprise surprise, long distance was restored yesterday afternoon.

CBC On the Go had a news cast stating that service had been restored to some communities; I tried a call to Goose Bay and got through OK. Unconsciously I must have been getting anxious with the communication isolation as my fried said I sounded more excited than usual, and I guess he was correct.

I know Hopedale is back up and presume the other communities are as well.

The not so good news is that internet is still down, let’s hope that will be working in reasonable short order.

Weather down in snow and wind has meant no planes for the last two days, it is becoming a regular occurrence, short windows for planes to get in then longer spats of weather delays.

I also took the opportunity to call me mom down under, no snow storms but mom was suffering with the 39 degree heat of Monday their time.

All in all when it seems things are not going too well for you one is reminded that there are always people a hell of a lot worse off in the world i.e. earthquake in Haiti, or droughts and genocide in some African region.

Long distance back 4.30 PM the 12th. Internet back 30 minutes ago.


Paradise Driver said...

Now, that was an ordeal!

Anonymous said...

Ah, This is great! Clears up
a few contradictions I've read