Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Canine conundrum

Normally, I love dogs. I have enjoyed their company since we got our first puppy when I was a teenager, and miss my parents' current labrador, Miller. There are a lot of dogs here, so I know he would have lots of friends to play with. At the moment, however, my relationship with dogs is suffering, because some of the local pooches are not respectful of bedtimes. Granted, they aren't likely aware they are disturbing my slumber, and yet, they should know that barking at 1am is not going to produce the results they're trying to achieve, given that an hour later, they are still at it. Most dogs here are chained up outside (most unlike the way we coddle our dogs, as if they're members of the family) and are considered work dogs, although I'm not sure what kind of work they are supposed to be doing. Guarding rusty snowmobiles, perhaps?

The days and nights are noticeably cooler now - we went for a walk last night and my cheeks were numb after 20 minutes. Thank goodness my balaclava arrived last week - we will soon be needing serious face protection when we venture outdoors. Today is cool and sunny - it's a shame I didn't bring any golf clubs as this would be a perfect day for it. Apparently we have a golf course up near the airport, but no one is exactly sure where it is, and I get the impression the greens aren't kept in the conditions I am used to. Oh, and when your ball lands in the rough....forget about it!

When I was in Africa, I spent the first two weeks in an intensived language course to help me talk to the locals in their language, which made a huge difference. Here, it's a little different. At first glance, the language relies heavily on the letters q, t, u, v, and i. One word I found in a prayer is 26 letters long, and have seven 'Q's in it. And, as difficult as speaking it may be, the written version is even more challenging, in that it is entirely symbol-based, much like Egyptian hieroglyphs. I've included a photo of one of the stop signs in town below, so you have an idea what I mean. Even a rudimentary knowledge of common phrases will be seemingly insurmountable - as of today, the only word I know off by heart is Ugaru, which means "big rock". Unfortunately, the phrase "big rock" is limited in application around town. 

Tomorrow is my first visit the health center - I have been suffering from bouts of insomnia, so I am seeing if they can suggest anything to help combat it. I've never the had the problem before (Mom might even say I suffered from the extreme opposite when I was younger) but it's playing havoc with my sleep cycle now, so I'm hopeful a solution will present itself. 

I know I have been promising a video, but the ones I took were not much better than the photos we showed you in August, so I will put together a better one and try and cut it into clips our meagre rationing of bandwidth can handle. Our cap is 10GB, which some of you will find ridiculous, and others will be scratching their heads asking, what's a GB? It stands for Gigabyte, and it is a measure of capacity for both storage space, like a hard drive, and bandwidth, which refers to Internet usage. In Burlington, it cost about $70/month for 50GB of usage. Here, we pay about $10 more per month, and we get a lot less usage for that price, so we have to be very careful in how we use our Internet. Uploading a video uses up a big chunk of that, as does Skype (as we discovered to our dismay in August), so we are being much more careful now. 

Same goes for our water usage. We have a water truck fill our tank three times a week, and our tank holds about 1500 liters.  Not having a cap on water back home, I wouldn't think twice about doing laundry, showering, or washing dishes. Here, laundry is once a week, max. We've actually done laundry before and run out of water, and since you need water to flush a toilet....yeah. Clean shirts come a distant second to being able to use the bathroom. We have a sewage truck come twice a week, but I'm hoping we can increase that to the same schedule as water. Here's the kicker: since the sewage tank needs water to operate, when it gets full, it shuts off the water pipe so there is no overflow. So, when we run out of water, as has happened a few times, you're never quite sure if the culprit is an empty water tank, or a full sewage tank. Fortunately, we can see the water level in our tank in the "basement" so we can get an idea which one is the root of the problem. I put the word basement in quotations because of course it's near impossible to dig deeper than two feet here.  All of our houses are built on wooden stilts embedded in concrete, so our water and sewage tanks sit on the ground, and the house sits on these risers just above it. You can see what I mean in the photo below. 

I'm off for my walk now - I try to walk for an hour a day, which is basically a trip to the Northern and back, and if I can't manage that, a 20 minute jaunt around the neighborhood is the next best thing. Coupled with the P90X workouts Lily is insisting we do for the next 3 months, I am looking forward to returning home for a visit looking and feeling a lot better. 

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first poll, and for those of you who haven't, please take a moment to review yesterday's post and add your 2 cents. It's important to us to know how often you like to see new material, and it's reassuring to know our efforts are appreciated. 



  1. Jeff, try earplugs. They'll save your sleeping life!!!! They're bell shaped and can be bought at Walmart or any drugstore - get your mom to send some. They work amazing!

  2. Thanks regarding the post. It's good to listen to one other individual's opinion. I certainly agree with exactly what you are saying regarding the data. Please keep up the nice work as I'm definitely going again to read more.

  3. The Inuit language is called Inuktitut -- just something you forgot to mention. Also, there is a deep history about the Inuit and their sled dogs - many of which were slaughtered in the 1950's, that I would suggest reading about. Otherwise, thanks for the interesting post!