Reporter's notebook from Fort McMurray

Posted: Friday, February 27, 2004

Not everyone from the Kenai Peninsula will have a chance to visit the 2004 Arctic Winter Games in Fort McMurray, Alberta, this week and next. Likewise, not everyone will have a chance to see the Games from a reporter's perspective. So, as a gift -- or curse -- to our readers, we will share some of the more interesting -- if not so relevant -- observations we have gleaned from the experience.

n The Kenai area may not be a world of business attire and power suits, but in the professional world, one does try to look nice. It's hard to pull that off during a sleepless night and nearly 12 hours of flying across the continent.

n All public signs in Canada are printed in both English and French. When one is half asleep, it's important to read the right language. Also, photographer Scott Moon adds, "I bet if you lived here long enough, you'd become bilingual."

n Even English has its different dialects. Someone really should have provided a language lesson prior to the trip, especially for those of us interviewing Canadian citizens. Among the words one should know are loonie (the unofficial name for Canada's one-dollar coin) and toque (pronounced tewk, a hat).

n Though not commonly considered a strong point for reporters, math is important. Among the formulas needed in just the first day: A U.S. dollar is worth about $1.33 in Canada; to quickly convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, multiply by two and add 32; a kilometer equals .62 miles, which is important not only when measuring distance but also when observing speed limit signs.

n It's not polite to stare at people as though they are crazy, even if that person is a waitress asking if you'd like gravy on your clam strips.

n Though not considered a breakfast food in the United States, Cheeze Whiz can be found in single-serving packets in a jam and jelly tray served with breakfast at some Canada restaurants.

-- Jenni Dillon

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