Friday, August 23, 2013

Masters in the Making?

If my blog has been rather silent this summer I do have a good reason for it as I've been spending many an evening looking into applying to graduate school.  A Masters degree is something I always figured I'd eventually end up doing and lately I've found myself taking a serious look at it.  I began giving it some serious thought back in the spring, checking out various school and programs and I'm pleased with how things have gone so far.

Initially I felt I might be at a disadvantage since its been some time since I've done any sort of academic work and would be a bit rusty.  On second thought though I think the life experiences I've had over the past 10-12 will serve me well when I start doing up my applications later this fall.  One area of research I'd like to get into (which will come as no real surprise to those who know me best) involves Nunavut.  I have to admit to getting a kick out of corresponding with a few professors and being able to discuss some of my experiences.  "FOX-5 Dew Line site at Broughton Island?  Oh ya, I was there.  I actually lived in the nearby community of Qikiqtarjuaq for a couple of years."  At the risk of tooting my own horn too much I don't think too many grad applicants interested in doing research on the old DEW Line could claim in a grad school application that they've already been to not one but 3 different DEW Line sites. So yes, Nunavut is definitely a topic of interest.  Finding a professor with a background in Northern or Arctic history was a bit tricky but I've tracked down some good prospects.  Since I have interests in both Nunavut and also in military history, the DEW Line looked like a good way of blending both interests.  The University of Calgary is home to the Arctic Institute of North America so at the moment that school is top of the list for me.  Issues involving Arctic sovereignty, the Northwest Passage, the Canadian Rangers and of course, the DEW Line system, continue to be of interest to me.

As noted above, I've always had an interest in military history so I have a couple schools in mind that have research institutes geared towards this.  The websites for the The Laurier Centre of Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies at WLU in Ontario and the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick have had me as a frequent visitor in recent weeks.  I've always been interested in issues of command and control and what makes a good leader.  Perhaps I was subconsciously influenced by 10 years of classroom teaching here but I spent a good stint a couple weeks ago reading everything I could find on the topic of military mutinies in the Canadian Forces whether they be the Terrace Mutiny in 1944, the Kinmel Mutiny of 1919 or a few naval mutinies on Canadian ships in 1946 (in true Canadian fashion, these naval mutinies were the topic of an inquiry (not quite a Royal Commission I don't think but close) by the top naval brass).  Anyhow, without spilling all my little research interests I am taken by the idea of eventually writing a regimental history of the local reserve infantry regiment from where I grew up in southern Ontario, the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, should I go the military route on an MA.  The only regimental histories I'm familiar with at present were a couple of ones done by former officers (one of them being Farley Mowat).  To my knowledge, a full history of the regiment dating back to its founding militia units in the early 1800's has yet to be undertaken.

In the meantime, I've been gathering information on a few schools (I do have a short list, finally), tracking down references, doing my best to build up a reading list with what I have at hand and sorting out all the other minutiae involved.  Acceptance of a potential offer will involve a move and may or may not involve a property sale here depending on the exact circumstances.  At any rate, the application process is definitely a bit more involved this time around than when I applied for my undergraduate studies.  I'll be applying for the fall of 2014 so it looks like the next 12 months will be an interesting adventure.  Time to hang on tight and see where the road takes me.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Gang's All Here

I've been rather spoiled this year when it comes to the number of birds that show up around the house. Three woodpeckers (yellow-bellied sapsuckers actually are regular visitors in the early morning and evening hours along with chipping sparrows, magpies and chickadees.  These House Sparrows all turned up yesterday right as I was getting home from work.  Granted the photograph isn't the best but I was in a rush to snap some photos out my bedroom window before they all flew away on me.  Plus I had a very excitable cat next to me on the window ledge.  These photos are some of the first I've had to put on my new laptop so I'm looking forward to playing around and seeing what I can come up with.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fill 'Er Up!

Since I haven't posted in about a million years I thought I'd kick things off again with something other than a post about overpasses or the foibles of politicians, namely a little act of kindness from a random stranger.  I know this town can get a bad rap in many and while I know my humble blog won't change the world I do like to highlight good things about the community when I get a chance.

I had to make a quick run downtown with one of my tenants....actually it would be more accurate to say I got a lift.  Before I headed out I grabbed my jerry can out of the back shed for some gas so I would be able to mow the lawn.  Once at the gas station and as I was about to fill up, a gentleman at the next pump asked how much I was getting.  I'm not sure he saw the jerry can in my hand at first as the pump likely blocked his view of it and perhaps he was puzzled by some random guy walking up and staring at the pump (I don't buy gas very often.)  Just enough to fill up my jerry can, I told him.

At that point he took the nozzle out of his car and started filling up my can, just like that.  I thanked the man who then went back to finish filling up his vehicle.  When I asked him what I owed him ( the pump was up to about $15 or so at that point.  He politely declined payment and carried on with his own fill up.  The full jerry can will easily last me the remainder of the summer so it was a nice little bonus to be getting it free.

I asked him again about the cost and he again told me not to worry about it.  After a long, hot work day this generosity from a complete stranger was a much-welcomed gesture.  And so to the random gentleman I encountered at the gas station at the Superstore in downtown Fort McMurray I say thank you for your time.  In a world where it is all too easy to become cynical with the way the world sometimes works, this random act of kindness was greatly appreciated.  Thank you kindly, sir!