Moored at Lock 45, Port Severn, The Icebreaker Sweet Shoppe
Four years ago this week, I was on board a nuclear-powered icebreaker steaming toward the North Pole. That voyage is one of my fondest memories. Yesterday, then, when I traveled to the edge of the Canadian Shield at Lock 45 on the Trent-Severn waterway, I was tickled to encounter another icebreaker.
I couldn’t go aboard the Icebreaker Sweet Shoppe, because she was closed for business. I would have in an Iqaluit minute, had her crew been dispensing sweets. I pine for icebreaker adventures. Nothing carrying people on the surface of the ocean compares to an icebreaker. They are working ships, not designed to pamper passengers. Sail on an icebreaker and beware. Sail on an icebreaker and you’ll never go back to vanilla.
The family reunion is in August, just 11 minutes from where the ISS is moored. I’m bringing the entire clan for an ice cream and a photo opp. We’ll make sweet memories.
The Descendants (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Three subjects of particular interest to me came together in The Descendants:
- Family History
Family History: My Perspective
If family history is viewed as an exploration of those who came before – ancestors, the weight of obligation is less than if one views family history from a descendant’s perspective. That is illustrated brilliantly in the film, as Matt King struggles with the responsibility of stewardship of land he and other descendants inherited. Matt King is a man who can recite his pedigree, passes it to his children and shares it with a gaggle of cousins. The past is present in their lives.
A Cinematic Perspective
This film is rife with cinematic cliches. Hawaii as paradise. Workaholic father and distant husband. Dysfunctional family. Disloyal wife. Matrimonial implosion. Precocious tween. Teenage daughter acting out. Dull-witted teen beau. Eccentric supporting characters.
Every time I became impatient with the cliche, there was a situational twist; or a piece of dialogue that belied the cliche; or an unexpected insight into a character. That’s a really big but. The Descendants is a much, much better film than it appears in promos, reviews or on the DVD cover. There are human truths brilliantly depicted. I’ll let you pick the ones that resonate with you. My moments were the hospital scenes when the characters spoke to the comatose Elizabeth as if she could hear. Been there, done that.
My dream as a marketer of polar product was to see the Arctic and Antarctica become ubiquitous. Like Walmart – even if you never shopped there – you know the name. The Descendants confirmed that that dream of mine is now a reality. I won’t spoil how the film set in Hawaii manages to do that. Just watch it.
As a matter of fact that is the best piece of advice I can give you about this film – just watch it.
Image via Wikipedia
A friend of mine was recently interviewed by a major UK paper. She posted a link to the article with an unnecessary apology for the inaccurate headline that used the terms North Pole and South Pole as synonyms for the Arctic and Antarctica. As an interview subject, Sue Flood has no control over a headline.
To those involved in the business of polar travel that headline reflects one of the marketing challenges faced in a world of Search Engine Optimization and keyword content. Polar professionals use the terms North Pole and South Pole to refer only to invisible points on the planet at 90N or 90S. To use the terms as synonyms for the generic but accurate Arctic and Antarctica is tantamount to a sin. Using the terms inaccurately is the sign of an outsider, an amateur, a dilettante. No one mistakes Sue Flood for an amateur. She has the ice creds to call herself a polar professional.
Yet…the amateur is the person marketers of polar product want to capture. If amateurs refer to the polar regions by inaccurate terms, then the online content must include the terms with which people search for polar travel information. I came to terms with that conundrum by writing an article about inaccurate terms used by people when referring to the Polar Regions. I thought of it as an educational piece for seekers of information, and a clever way to ensure my former employer’s polar professionalism was not eroded.
When we insert keywords into a search field, for the most part, we do not worry about syntax or spelling. We insert keywords or phrases in a kind of stream of consciousness. Just use Google Insight for Search and take a look at how people search for your favourite subject. For example – more people search for Antarctica using the adjective Antarctic than the noun. The latter is part of the former, so the problem may be minor, but the point is the same: Writing for keyword content if you use search data undermines the English language and that irks me.
I read in the National Post this morning that a researcher has concluded that social networking in the 21st Century is no different from the social networking of prehistoric humankind. Our best and worst impulses manifest themselves when we are members of a virtual group or a tribe. I am not surprised. We think with the most primitive part of our brain first. The fact we act in a primitive manner makes sense. Evolution has been limited to the superficial not the activities that really count.
Image via Wikipedia
There is a more fundamental reason why I am not surprised: My experiences in Antarctica and the Arctic. When faced with the overwhelming forces of nature, unfettered by telephone lines and billboards, I felt awe. True awe: “an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.”
As I stood on Petermann Island feeling like Eve in the Garden of Eden, I believed I understood why the first humans began to worship spirits in inanimate as well as animate objects. I felt puny in the grand scheme of things; yet connected like a brick in a wall, strengthened by my inclusion in a greater entity, but aware that alone I was essentially worthless. They were primitive, basic feelings and I was in awe.
My national broadcaster launched a new television series three weeks ago: Arctic Air. The premise is simple. A small commercial airline based in Yellowknife, NWT, serves the Far North, moving people and cargo. The stories revolve around a core set of characters, meant to represent Canadians in the 21st Century. There are people of our First Nations and people of other nations – India, Germany and the Republic of Petroleum and Natural Resources. There are northern lifers of mixed ancestry, with an irascible eccentric or two for humour.
The protagonist changes every week, although there just might be a recurring one, who represents evil businessmen from the South, a staple of Canadian myths. We have a great deal of South, about 80% of our population lives in the South. We have a great deal more North, however.
Episode Three introduced our first policeman – a Mountie I believe, although that was played down. Mounties expect to get paid royalties these days for the use of their image, name and uniforms. [That fact is not a myth.] I’m waiting for the politician to appear – as the bad or good guy or gal, because The North is a favourite stop for photo shoots and glad handing by our Federal politicians.
There are two more uncredited recurring characters – a DC3 and a float plane – iconic symbols of the North to a woman of my generation. I don’t know what the younger folk who might watch Arctic Air make of the machines, held together by refurbished parts and hope. There is nothing high tech about Arctic Air‘s fleet. Flying those birds inevitably leads to nail biting, as they touch down on choppy lakes or rocky runways built on erupting permafrost.
Arctic Air delivers beautiful women, handsome leading men, the expected eye candy for the jaded TV viewer. The landscape, however, is the real beauty and star of this series. The producers invested in aerial and ground shoots in and around Yellowknife. Ethereal, aloof, and seductive, she’s got me hooked. Bring on Episode 4.