Random weirdness for the week of April 17, 2018


Well, the governor did issue a warning last week about photographing polar bears. And sure enough, this was definitely a “don’t get too close” moment for a group participating in a recent outdoor photography class. Roie Galitz, an Israeli wildlife photographer who for more than a decade has been shooting at both ends of the Earth and everywhere in-between, was teaching the class when a male polar bear approached and the group quickly retreated, leaving some gear behind. “We were photographing this beautiful male polar bear, when he suddenly noticed and started approaching us,” Galitz wrote on his Instagram page. “Of course we left everything, hopped on our snowmobiles and drove back. The big guy checked out my camera, realized it is not actually food, and kept walking. What a relief.” Responses to the post came naturally, so to speak, along the lines of “Photography is not easy. But sometimes you have to just bear with it!” “Now THAT’S a polarizer!” and “Bear overheard mention of his favourite thing …. a broken seal .. disappointed to find it was on a camera lens…” 


Penny foolish: Visitors liked the unique design and locals liked the fact they didn’t suck as trash bags. But it’s not hard to imagine in some corporate boardroom the suits liked the .00005 kroner (amount not officially confirmed) savings per bag they’d get by switching to the generic bags featuring an in-house ad for the company purchase card. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

Time to say farewell to the ultimate 1kr Svalbard souviner? Much as certain folks abroad might bitch about paying for plastic grocery bags, we doubt anyone would deny the bags at Svalbardbutikken with a polar bear graphic and the exact latitude of the store were seriously cool (full disclosure: we’ve used them to “wrap” gifts from here in). Alas, within the past week they’ve been replaced by the thinner and smaller generic corporate logo bags used by the Coop chain in mainland Norway. While that might seems to be a petty cost-cutting measure (and there have been a lot of profit-minded moves at the store lately), store exec Anna-Karin Lind says the bags aren’t gone for good. “We are developing a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic, which unfortunately is taking a little longer than expected,” she wrote in Facebook post after we mentioned the new bags, “These bags we have now are only temporary for us until the new ones are in place.” BTW, there are still some of the classic bags at checkout stands if you  look cafefully for them…

Since Svalbard makes all kinds of “top travel destination lists” we tend not to pay much attention to them unless something stands out. The claim that “Svalbard came in at number 3 out of 3000 experiences and locations evaluated “with the help of 800 of the industry’s leading travel professionals” certainly makes the grade, even if the pitch was made in a couple of e-mails by a travel website “content marketing producer” (alarm bells). But OK, after Googling to make sure the company is legit we did a cut-and-paste of the article URL (reminder: NEVER click on a link in an e-mail from someone unknown) and, while it’s nice and splashy, there’s no reference to Svalbard at all in the text or locator maps. Tromsø is mentioned with several other Arctic locations in an entry about the Northern Lights that #3 on a list of 50 – but there’s no indication the list is a ranking. And since it’s basically a list of 50 top experiences with multiple locations for many categories, it’s basically an “everyone wins a trophy (especially if they advertise) “award.” We sent an Enquiring reply asking about the omission, but so far the only e-mail activity related to the article is what appears to be a suspicious reference to the article from what may or may be a legit news magazine e-mail address. Which is one of many reasons we’re not offering any links/clues to finding the article, but, hey, at least you got us to waste a bit of time and maybe even a bit of online security on this. Gotta wonder what life is like in a world where that’s considered a job well done…