Monthly Archives: February 2012

How Time Flies And Billeting Is Crazy

It’s occurred to me that I didn’t do a blog post for last week.

Whoops.

A large part of that is due to my own ineptitude, but I also tend to wait to put up the post until the end of the week. However, last week, some crazy things happened around that time, distracting me from my given duties. What crazy things, you ask?

One word, lots of mess: billeting.

Billeting is when we Katimavikers get adopted for ten days (I think it is ten days… memory is not my strong suit) by a family in the host community, which, in this case, is Happy Valley Goose Bay. Now, I was slated to go and spend my billet time with Sarah, the previous editor of Them Days, and also my French teacher. But then, on the day that we were supposed to ship out to our billet families, Sarah had a fire in her kitchen, courtesy of some popcorn she was trying to cook.

Yikes.

She was fine, and so were her cats, but the house itself was a little smelly and sooty and basically unpleasant to live in. So it was decided that I would spend the weekend with another family, and I would go to Sarah’s place on Monday, because she would have her house cleaned up by then. I chose to go with Theresa, who is actually chair of the Them Days board. She already had two of the boys from my Katima-family billeting with her, but I was fine sleeping on the couch, and I really enjoyed my weekend with that family, especially hanging out with Theresa’s daughter, Sandra. We both have an appreciation for a certain British actor, and we dragged one of the boys out to see a movie on Saturday (the movie was War Horse) that the actor we liked was in. It was cool for me, because I hadn’t seen the movie theatre here until then. It was much smaller than the one I go to back at home, but I liked it a lot better, actually.

Half of the fun of the movie was squealing over the actor with Sandra every time he appeared on screen, and the other half lay in watching Charles, the boy we had brought with us, squirm and wince every time the French people in the movie spoke.

“They sound so wrong!” he said.

“It’s a France French accent,” I explained, trying to placate him (and possibly enjoying his distress at the same time). “Not a Quebecois one.”

“I don’t like iiiitttt….”

Alright, so maybe I’m exagerrating a little, but it was funny. I actually really enjoyed the movie (“But it was cheesy!” “Shush, Charles. I liked it.”) and I sort of wish that I could’ve spent some more time at Theresa’s house with all of them. However, I’m going to Sarah’s place tonight, and I know we will have a great time too.

A quick update on things at Them Days! We are definitely kicking into top gear now, and things are moving faster. To make sure I don’t get behind, I made myself a handy-dandy list, entitled, “Things Alexandra Should Be Doing”, with the subtitle of “(Have you done these? No? Do THEM!)”, and stuck it to the corkboard right  above my workstation, so that I don’t forget. I even drew a menacing cartoon to inspire me further. Tara and I have been working on editing and reviewing some articles that have been submitted, and I have been doing some transcribing of interviews as well.

And although this is something that happened this week, not last week, we have received a new addition to our girl’s club here: Tracy, who is going to be our archivist! She started work yesterday, and seems like she’ll be a great member of the staff!

Well, I need to stop doing work I should’ve done last week, and start doing my work for this week! Wish me luck with my transcribing!

Live long and prosper,

Alexandra

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Ordinary Days At Them Days

It’s been a fairly ordinary week at “Them Days”! Digitizing cassettes, shovelling snow, eating lunch, setting off the alarm again accidentally and having to talk to the police…(I’m still not sure whether I should be proud of or disturbed by my increased efficiency when dealing with police)

A few new things have happened to break the calm flow of everyday life. I burned popcorn in the microwave, for instance, which left an unholy stench that has not quite drifted away. The popcorn, sadly deceased before it could even be consumed, was meant for us to eat as we watched some videos on oral history and on “Them Days” itself. We still watched them and learned a great deal. I, in particular, now have a lot of respect for Doris Saunders, the first editor of “Them Days”. I also am now working on putting together a selection of pictures for the gallery in the middle of the magazine, so I get to look through the extensive database of pictures on the computer. That alone is an experience in itself; seeing all those images from the past makes it feel almost as if one could step through the computer screen and into the old Labrador reflected there in the pictures, and the black and white would explode into colour.

Another highlight of these seemingly ordinary days is when I hear interesting things on the cassette tapes while digitizing them. There were several tapes that seemed to consist purely of people, even a little boy at one point, singing old songs, songs of their culture. There was even a tape with old gossip, a story of how a woman’s fiancée went away for the winter months to work somewhere else, and while he was gone, she met another man and started carrying on with him!

So even on the ordinary days, there are always things happening around here.

Live long and prosper,

Alexandra

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Another new face in the office!

Hello everyone! My name is Tara McLean and I am the new Acting Editor here at Them Days! I have been in the position since December and it’s been a whirlwind experience ever since! In fact, there’s been so much going on, that I’m just now getting around to posting my first blog!

Getting familiar with some of the material in the library

 
Before I get into all the things happening here, I should tell you a little about myself. I am a proud Labradorian from Happy Valley – Goose Bay, with a genuine interest in the history, culture and heritage of Labrador. Being connected with the community, and sharing people’s experiences and stories are important to me.  I absolutely LOVE meeting people from all over the Big Land and hearing their stories, since they truly shape this region into the unique and wonderful place that it is.

I am a journalist with most of my experience in broadcast. When I was asked to fill in as the Editor for Them Days, I have to admit I was somewhat nervous and hesitant. I grew up knowing and respecting the magazine, and was afraid that my limited experience in print would prevent me from doing a good job. But the opportunity to try something new and work at a place dedicated to preserving Labrador’s history, was too appealing to pass up… I could only imagine the sorts of stories I would hear, and things I would learn!

So far, I have not been disappointed! Nearly every day I come across a picture or document in our collection, which introduces me to a place I’ve never heard of before, or teaches me something I’ve never known about our history before. It’s fascinating, and exciting! The best part of my work has been meeting people that come through our doors, or visiting people in their own homes and hearing their recollections about “them days.”

The expression “getting my feet wet” does not begin to explain my first couple of months here. I’ve jumped into this position head-first! Oddly enough, I began with the end of an issue. I’ve experienced a little of the editing process, sending it off to the printer, checking it for errors, and mailing it out before I actually put an issue together myself! It’s all been great “practice” and the later is still something I’m currently working on.

Which reminds me, if you or someone you know has a story to tell, please let me know and we can get it into the upcoming issue… Your stories and memories are what make my job and the readers’ experience even more enjoyable!

It’s been a great bit of fun, and lots of work so far. I am eager to get the next issue put together and really appreciate everyone’s patience and guidance. Aimee, who is off on maternity leave has been a blessing! She drops by every now and again to “show me the ropes” so to speak, and is always available to answer any questions. Having a wonderful board, staff and Katimavik Volunteer to work with have been the icing on the cake!

Now, I would fail at my first blog attempt if I did not mention the huge mound of snow that welcomed us into work this morning. Yes, the snow we so desperately wanted last year, is coming down in blankets this year! I am happy to see the white stuff since it means beautiful ski-doo rides, snowshoe adventures and sliding, but it also means tired arms and frosty faces. 51 cm of snow has fallen since Friday and it’s our job to clear the steps and ramp to the building. So that was the first order of business this week.

Alexandra arrived early this morning and got a head start on me. She’s definitely getting “immersed” in Labrador life… In fact, she was up to her waist in it this morning! It took about an hour in total, but she and I did a fine job of clearing away the snow. There’s just one little problem… We’re running out of places to put it! Half of the snow ended up in the driveway and the rest of it is creating a wall in front of the building.  All worries aside though, it made for a good chuckle when Alexandra got creative with it!

Alexandra... Well, her hands anyway!!

Then it was back to work, starting with a nice hot cup of tea for me and cafe mocha for Alexandra…

Tucked in nice and cozy by a blanket of snow!

 
Until next time, stay warm and enjoy the snow!

Tara

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A Fearsome Thing Called A Cassette Player

I have learned throughout my life that there are some things you just shouldn’t attempt to battle.

Such as a lion, a polar bear, my sister, or sleep (without my morning coffee to back me up).

Well, I can add something new to that list. Two things, actually.

Cassette players, and laptops with Windows on them.

In order to digitize the old interviews on the cassettes in the archive, I need to plug the cassette player into the line in jack of the laptop and use Audacity (a program for recording things) to record the audio on the cassette while it plays. I have Audacity on my own laptop, and I use it for recording my voice and playing instruments and the like using the built in laptop microphone. So one day during my break, I decided to see if there was a built in mic on the “Them Days” laptop. I forgot that I have worse luck than a person who opens umbrellas indoors, smashes mirrors as a pastime, and was born on Friday the 13th, and I forgot that my laptop is not a Windows computer. I was simply curious.

Note to self: there is a reason that curiosity killed the cat.

Inevitably, I managed to do something wrong, and when it came time to plug the cassette player back in and resume digitizing, it refused to work.

This resulted in Tara and I sitting there for about an hour and a half, attempting to fix whatever it was that I had messed up. I initially tried to battle through it alone, only to find that it was definitely a problem requiring two minds. Windows and the cassette player had apparently teamed up as an almost insurmountable foe, taunting us with their confusing-ness.

Eventually, we did get them to grudgingly shuffle back in line and work properly. I can now continue my job, but it was not an easy process by any stretch of the mind.

The moral of the story is this: don’t get curious and try to fight with the old technology, or try to make it do what you say. No, no. It goes the other way around. You are the slave to it.

May your days be filled with technology that is easy to understand.

Live long and prosper,

Alexandra

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Issue 35.4: It is Officially Out!

The latest issue of “Them Days”, 35.4, is now for sale! You can pick it up at local retailers as well as right here at the “Them Days” headquarters. If you have a subscription you better be checking your mail everyday, because your copy will be showing up (if it hasn’t already).

For a taste of what might be in store for you in this issue, make sure to go to the official “Them Days” website, http://www.themdays.com/, where you can even buy the issue using our Online Store!

Happy reading to all who decide to check it out!

Live long and prosper,

Alexandra

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