Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
"On that side of the House, they have the man who fathered the carbon tax, put it up for adoption to his predecessor and now wants a paternity test to prove the tar baby was never his in the first place," said Poilievre.
Friday, May 29, 2009
The Liberal mantra has been that the Conservatives are not doing enough to stimulate the Canadian economy. However, now that the Finance Minister has announced the $50 billion deficit, mostly the result of the efforts to stimulate the economy, the Liberals are crying foul. This is a leap of logic, but this is politics. It looks bad on both of them, but Prime Minister Harper is trying to deflect the negative news about the deficit by digging up old video footage of Michael Ignatieff in his former days when he left Canada for some forty years. He said and did a lot of things that can be used against him today. Is it fair? I feel it is justified in that Iggy has an ambition to be Prime Minister and we should know of what kind of stuff he is made. He has not exactly been a loyal and dedicated Canadian let alone a Canada booster for most of his life and yet he wants to run the country. Is this not opportunism with a capital O? In the meanwhile, our future is being mortgaged for bailouts that will not work but only drive up the debt of the nation, something that has to paid back sooner or later. Watch for increased taxes, inflation, and perhaps an election coming to a neighbourhood near you.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
One example of this that comes to mind is my willingness to share investment ideas. When I hear good news, I just like to share it so we can all benefit. The opposite of that is when I hear of a good investment and do not share it, then only I benefit, and I have deprived any one of my friends the joy of success. It goes both ways, however, in that sometimes the investment can go sour, and indeed this had happened. This is when I tend to 'turtle' and promise myself that I will just keep my mouth shut next time. Not only is there great pain in helping your friends lose their money, but this sort of thing tends to ruin one's reputation as a wise investor. It seems that ten successes and one failure still makes one a poor investor. The expectation of total success in every venture is unrealistic. Tossing the ball toward the basket in a game, comes to mind. At what percentage of shots that make points, is a player deemed successful? One thing is certain. 100% of shots not taken, fail. So I continue to take shots. My dilemma, increasingly, is, do I tell my friends to take the shots with me.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Today (Monday) the headlines read that Canada's deficit will be "significantly more" than fore casted. I am convinced that politicians do not yet 'get it'. The formula is so simple, why are the conclusions so difficult to grasp?
One has only to look at the causes of the recession/depression to understand why the deficits will continue to mount. Here is a brief review.
We all have heard of the 'bubble' and that it burst and that is why we are in trouble as a world economy. Two false assumptions caused the bubble in the first place. 1. You can build an economy on debt and spending. (You remember all the ads encouraging you to take a home equity loan so you could take that vacation and buy that new SUV, let alone the constant barrage of solicitations for new and better credit cards.) 2. The value of your assets will always go up.
So this is really simple and maybe that is why the eggheads in government do not get it. 1. The debt and spending has got us into trouble and the market is trying to correct the mistakes. i.e the sub-prime mortgages that all have to come to roost eventually. 2. The value of assets always fluctuates and when it is vastly inflated, it must come down sooner or later.
Now it gets really simple. 1. You cannot fix a problem that was caused by debt and spending with more debt and spending and yet that is what world governments are doing. It causes even more problems down the road and only delays the inevitable. 2. What do people do when they lose value in their assets? And here is the clue to when the recession/depression will be over. What do you do when your financial security is threatened? You pull back, right? You spend less, you pay down debt, you are more cautious, you save more, you invest more conservatively, and all of this results in lower government revenues because when you are not out spending recklessly, tax revenues drop and thus we have a headline like today.
So when is it over? When you and I have re-established our financial security by paying down debt and having a very healthy nest egg for our future, be it short or long term. And when we do again start spending, we will no longer throw caution to the wind but will be careful because we will remember '08 and '09 and not want them to be repeated. I predict this will take a long time and in the meanwhile, we are in for much harder times than what we have had until now.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
It seems that everywhere I go these days, people are asking me how work is. By that, they mean to inquire about the amount of work, if any, that I have. This is common in an economic recession. But what are the motives? It could be that they want to compare their situation to mine. Or they might want to get a handle on but one more indicator of how the economy is doing locally. Or they might be concerned for me. My standard answer is that I going week to week, day to day. Gone are the days of being booked up for months ahead of time. And then I add that my time off is just a practice for retirement and practice makes perfect and I will therefore have a perfect retirement because I am getting lots of practice. And then I inquire about their situation and I discover that not many people I know are suffering in this time of economic trouble. This is a good thing, but is not the reality everywhere in Canada or in the USA.
I have always said that being self-employed is a life of living by faith. It has stretched me in so many ways and after many years of realising that worrying will not improve anything, I find myself not worrying. I am developing a new worry, however. I enjoy the days off so much that when I do get a job, I am reluctant to do it. Now that is something to worry about, unless of course, I am officially retired, which I am not.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I have not been photographing for a while now and just recently dug the memory card out of my camera and found a few winter pictures. This is at the home of one of my clients. I might show you his house tomorrow.
When I was a kid, I would often have a dream where I was struggling violently for breath. It was usually a drowning that I was suffering, in my dreams. I would struggle for air and soon I was panicking and would start to thrash around in my bed, and that is what saved me. Apparently I was falling asleep with my head under the covers, either because it was in the dead of winter and it was cold, or I was afraid of the dark and it just seemed safer under the blanket. As I thrashed around, I would yank the covers off of my head and draw the first sweet breath of fresh air. I remember it being so exquisite and life giving that it would waken me.
I have also experienced this in real life when I almost did drown. There was life and sweetness in reaching the surface of the lake and gulping in great breaths of oxygen.
I have felt this also, to a lesser degree, when visiting Vancouver Island where the air is fresh and oxygen rich, so obviously different from home that each breath is a reminder.
On a similar but more profound level, was the experience of being released from 4 days in the ER with a condition unknown but one that required high doses of pain killers. It was many years ago but I remember like it was yesterday. It was a sunny crisp autumn day and Lis and I went for a short walk a few hours after my release. The drugs were wearing off, I was out of the stuffy hospital, and I was alive, something I was not sure of only days before. I had a keen awareness of every breath I took, how it was drawn past my lips and down into my lungs. I was not hallucinating, but just appreciating every breath I took, and being so grateful to be alive and whole.
Our sermon this week in church was on James 1:9-11. The poor are to realise their high position and the rich to realise their low position. We who have so much, tend to not rely on God as we ought. One way to realise how dependant we are on God is to thank Him for every little thing, even the air we breathe. I have at times appreciated every breath and know that without even that most basic of needs, I am undone. If I realise that my every breath is from my maker, it certainly puts me in humble and a dependant position.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Yesterday's post was about our (my) tents showing signs of age. If you take the time to do a little calculation, as did I, you may find something interesting. Divide the 'symptoms' you have by the total number systems. That will tell you what percentage of these symptoms you have. Now divide your age by 103 which will give you the percentage of the old man's age that you are. How closely do the two figures match? I was amazed that my two percentages matched perfectly, and to two decimal points! Unbelievable!! I can assume from this, that barring a drive by shooting or being hit by a big bus, I will live to 103 ...... but will own every one of those symptoms. :-) It is like camping in a tent. Great for the first few days, fun and novel, but it wears thin after a while and you just want to get out of the tent.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The primitive sponge-like creature, traces of which were discovered by paleontologist Elizabeth Turner and two other scientists, may well push back the earliest geological signs of animals by more than 200 million years.
"We're not looking at things that are as complicated as worms or even as complicated as sponges," Turner, of Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., told CBC News.
"We're looking at something that's simpler than that. And that's at the very junction between the earlier life forms that preceded animals and the lineage that became animals."
The trio's discovery has been documented in this month's issue of the journal Geology.
Only a few months earlier, evidence from the Arabian Peninsula pushed back the origins of animal life to 635 million years ago.
The new find by Turner and her colleagues dates those origins even further in the past, by another 200 million years.
"It is a big deal because, I mean, there's a huge community out there of people who are trying to understand the early evolution of animals and the early evolution of Earth ecosystems," she said.
Alasdair Veitch, a biologist in Norman Wells, N.W.T., said the discovery of the sponge-like body is an example of the rapid progress scientists have made in mapping human evolution.
"These little sponges that were on the sea floor out in the Mackenzie Mountains 850 million years ago - those are the precursors to all the caribou and sheep and moose and even ourselves that [are] what we have today," he said.
What goes through your mind when you read this? For me, at every turn there are questions to be asked. Where do I start? I am reading Lee Strobel's "The Case for a Creator". As he peels back the so called evidences for Darwinism, there unravels a trail of deceit, smoke, and mirrors. One thing is very evident among evolutionary scientists and that is the almost desperate attempt to convince themselves and others that there is indeed enough evidence to support their belief system. Time and time again the missing links unravel and are proved to be something other than what they were presented to be. In this article, the 635 million mark has been trumped! Really? Who can say this with certainty? Who can say they found a relic of organic living tissue dating another 200 million years farther back in time. And what a preposterous and outrageous claim to say that it is the precursor to caribou, sheep, and yes, even us humans. There is not a stitch of evidence, despite incredible efforts, to give us a shred of evidence that this is true, and yet it gets published and many say, "Oh my, we are getting closer to understanding our origins!"
I say, "Hogwash."
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I often think of our days in Ocean Falls, but organising my thoughts and honing my memory for this project has had some unexpected benefits. When I first started, Lis told me she had some souvenirs that she had kept in a scrapbook from those days. I was amazed to see some very interesting artifacts and memorabilia. There were newspaper articles, Crown Zellerbach newsletters, pulp test samples, test charts from the paper testing station, letters written on various types of paper that I had just tested and was hot off the machines, and some incredible town site maps from the engineering department dated from the 1950's. If I ever go back to Ocean Falls, I will have to take them with me and donate them to the museum there.
I knew we had kept our letters from those days, when the phone service was unreliable and we did not see each other for months at a time. There were well over 250 letters (just the ones I had written) and after reading them over a period of a few weeks, I was totally back in the frame of mind that inspired me to write them. The old feelings of waves of loneliness came back, as I described my life in the hotel and working long hours and not seeing the sun for many days on end. I read them in chronological order and as the letters progressed, I could see my thoughts developing and some maturity setting in. I believe a renewed love for my wife has also been re-kindled in the process. It is easy to forget the days of long ago when we are so wrapped up in today. But I was reminded why I fell in love with Lis and why I loved her so much, and why we were willing to wait for each other as the months dragged by.
There have also been other serendipity's. I have done some research and found some really great sites with tons of photo archives and stories. I have joined a "Yahoo Group" open only to former residents of Ocean Falls and have opened communications with a few people from there. I have not yet connected with some of my favourite people but it may yet happen.
I mentioned my friend who was in the car with me, when I had the accident that led to me taking the safe driving course in Ocean Falls. We have just in the last few weeks 'found' each other. In those days he lived right next door to me. Today, he again lives close, but this time three houses down and across the street in a town home complex. We have been out for coffee twice and are renewing our old friendship.
I realise that not 100% of my tale will be 100% accurate, but my recollections are based on the letters, the articles, and mostly my memory. I realise that time can warp reality, but there was not an intention to mislead or misrepresent. These were my memories and my recollections. It has been a cathartic, nostalgic, and most enjoyable time travel experience for me. I hope whoever reads these blog posts will find it worthwhile, a bit entertaining and a bit educational.
Thanks for reading, you do me a great honour.
Monday, May 18, 2009
There have been precedents. Private enterprise has determined that a business is no longer viable and then a government takes over. This never works. The reasons are all about political ideology and motivation as opposed to pragmatism. Even after new infrastructure such as a $5 million state of the art ground wood mill (built in 1965) and upgrades to the steam plant, Crown Zellerbach could not make a profit, probably because of falling newsprint and pulp prices on the world market. So to save the people, the jobs, and the town, the mill was purchased in March of '73, by the NDP government, even though there were only 6 people in town who did not already have another job and location to go to. Most had already shipped their belongings out of town and were in the stages of closing down their lives in Ocean Falls. Ted Vesak, who was directly involved in the studies that led to the original plan to shut down the mill, was now hired on as manager of all operations. Yes, he knew, but took the job anyway. There had been numerous other suggestions for the town site, from fish farming operations, to a drug addiction rehab retreat. But in the end, it was decided to take the two mothballed newsprint machines and fire them up. There was a little spike in paper prices right then and that was all the motivation that was needed to make the final decision.
It turned out to be a fiasco. Shortly after the government took over, we were seeing news headlines that were claiming that production had never been so high at the mill. I could not understand this so I made some inquiries and found out that all four machines were running newsprint at full speed. This obviously made for higher tonnage because you cannot run the machines at a high speed when you are making the more profitable specialty papers. Not only that, but I found out the newsprint did not always have a market and it was being pumped out in record amounts and then being stored. The problem was, storage space was limited so the thousands of rolls of paper were being fork lifted to the old sawmill which was old, decrepit and had leaky roofs. In no time at all, mountains of perfectly good newsprint were reduced to useless piles of wet and rotting pulp. But headlines did not reveal this. It was Government deceit at it worst.
Even 'they' could not carry on this sham forever and eventually, what Crown Zellerbach had known all along, dawned on the bureaucrats. Again, it was announced that the mill and town were shutting down, but this time there would be no last minute deals. Even a murderer on death row eventually goes to his demise.
The death was swift and brutal. Without a lot of consultation, the town was what they called 'normalized'. That was a sanitized version of 'demolished'. After much hue and cry from former residents, 'normalisation' was halted just before evertything was lost. What was left is still standing today. Some of it in total disrepair, some of it restored for historical purposes, and some building are being used or lived in to this day.
There are now around 50 permanant residents but in summer the population explodes as holidayers, fishermen, and former residents invade the town.
I have not been back but have seen many photos of what is left. I do not know if I want to go back. I have heard from others that it is difficult. I see it as such a waste and a devastation of such an incredibly beautiful spot. The town of my childhood in Saskatchewan is not at all like it was when I was growing up there. I have been back there and it is difficult not recognising all the old familiar spots. This would be the same. If I do go back, this blogspot will be the first to hear about it.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
So here is a big thanks to Ken & Jan, Henry and Heidi, Erv and Delores, Bill and Ella, Frank and Elma, and, of course busy Lizzy. A huge thanks also to all those outside our little group who donated many wonderful items.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
It was a thrill to be back in civilisation, although it took some getting used to. A few days after our flight home, our 35 boxes of belongings arrived via Northland Shipping Co. and we farmed it out to our parents basements until we could find a place to live. Our first priority was to purchase a new car and do some travelling. It was the reason we did not stay 'till the end. We were not home one week and we heard the shocking news. Ocean Falls was to get a reprieve. We could have stayed there and continued to work, but by the sound of things, the decision to keep the mill going was just another postponement of the inevitable. I felt sorry for those who had already packed their belongings and had secured jobs in other towns. Now they had to make a decision. The two newsprint paper machines had been mothballed and only the two specialty machines were now running. The price of newsprint was falling and the cost of producing paper in the old mill was increasing.
We did our travelling across Canada that summer and had a great time. But even as we came back home to settle in, we had an ever watchful eye on the newspapers and kept in contact with a few people in Ocean Falls to hear what the eventual fate of the town would be. We continued to wonder what would have happened to us had we decided to stay a few more weeks. And then the big announcement came, ten months later, on March 16, 1973. There was a buyer!
Friday, May 15, 2009
We were not surprised because whenever the sun was shining in Ocean Falls, it meant that rain was just around the corner. But we also knew from the last few years, that flights in and out of town were cancelled without notice more often than not. We just wanted to get going and not worry about where to stay if we were delayed in town for another day or two.
The pilot threw our few bags into the hold and ushered us on board, me in the co-pilot's seat and Lis and my sister Jan in the back.
He quickly throttled up and because of our light load, we were airborne in no time at all. We looked back over our shoulders, gave a quick wave to our friends on the dock, and took a last look at what had been our home, and what we would probably never see again.
We were at a thousand feet by the time we rounded Cousin's inlet and headed up the Dean Channel to King Island. And there it was. A grey wall. I knew that storms looked worse from a distance, especially when the perspective was from the sunshine. We hit the wall in a few minutes and at first it did not look that bad. The visibility was decent and the pilot seemed to have confidence.
But it was only the leading edge of the storm and as we progressed, the plane began to get tossed around and we could barely make out the water below, and certainly not the mountains on either side. I was not too concerned because I knew the Beaver had pontoons and there was no shortage of water to land on should we get into serious trouble.
Just as the plane began to lose altitude, I stated the source of my confidence to the pilot who answered me by pointing out the huge white caps in the ocean below. I then realised, and knew, that a plane the size of the Beaver could not land in such rough seas. And he was indeed flying lower because he wanted to keep sight of the water.
"It is worse that I thought it would be. Maybe we should turn back."
I did not like what I was hearing.
After an hour of indecision, suddenly, the plane banked steeply and I blurted out, "What?"
After what seemed like forever, we were nearing Port Hardy and the visibility was deteriorating rapidly.
"I am going to have to 'island hop' the rest of the way in. I cannot see the next island so I will circle this one until I can catch a glimpse of the next one."
The steep and sudden banking of the plane resulted in a retching sound from behind me. Lis was in very early pregnancy, plus air sick, and she had been holding the little brown bag under her chin for the last twenty minutes already. She was now making good use of it. I was concerned for her but could not get to her because it was critical, at that time, that we remain belted in.
So, we island hopped for the next 30 minutes, sometimes in a gentle bank because the Island was large, and more often very steeply as the Island was so small and we did not want to lose sight of it. My eyes were strained and tired, desperately trying to distinguish shapes of trees or cliffs in the flat grey light. The pilot seemed to be depending on me a lot to help spot the terrain.
As we circled a spit of land for the sixth time, the pilot, who seemed to be in a quandary, finally opened up to me what the situation was.
There was no turning back. We were low on fuel, and he "just knew" that the Port Hardy harbour was just two miles across open water from where we were now. But, he wanted to see the goal before reaching for it. I wanted for him to see it too.
"I'm going for it!" he finally exclaimed. "It will be alright."
As I glanced over at him, taking my eyes off the greyness around us for an instant, I did not like the beads of perspiration I saw on his brow and upper lip.
I was too young to die. Don't we all say that? But it was true in this case. I had a wife and a child on the way. We were about to start a new life. My sister was in my care. I didn't have a will. I can't swim. These and another million thoughts flashed through my mind as we set a straight course into the grey unknown.
I cannot tell you how tense the next few moments were. What I can tell you is that there were four people praying and I guess that was a quorum because God saw fit to present to us the most incredible sight I have ever seen in my entire life. The light suddenly increased and almost instantly, we were in sunshine, but the most incredible part was that right there in front of our faces was the sleepy little harbour village of Port Hardy and we were heading straight for the seaplane docks, at just the right altitude and speed.
The relief and euphoria in that little cabin was palpable. Even Lis took her face out of the bag for an instant to see the answer to our prayers.
After much celebratory back slapping and congratulating, we transferred to a regular plane and resumed our flight to Vancouver, a very dull and uneventful happening. We were grateful for that because our adrenalin reserves needed replenishing.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
This picture actually includes one more person that you cannot see. Ponchos were all the rage, as you can see, but under Lis's poncho is the mystery person, our first child, and technically, also a resident of Ocean Falls.
In May of 1972, events came to a head and after years of threats, rumours and postponed announcements, the news that was not new to anyone, was that yes, Ocean Falls would be shutting down for good. It would happen some time in July, only two months away. There was relief and sadness and because everyone had more than enough time to contemplate the consequences for their own lives, most people had plans. We certainly did too. The decision to leave was made for us so we chose the exact day. I put in my resignation and with two weeks to go before D-day, we packed our few belongings and reserved a flight back to Vancouver.
Our desire to travel during the summer months overcame our desire to stay until the end. My sister (tall, blonde, in the photo) saw it as her last chance to come so she spent the last few days with us there and flew out with us. She, and Lis's sister were the only family that ever came to see us.
Our good friends, Larry and Rosanne Rae, had decided to stick it out to the bitter end so they came to see us off at the float plane dock. This was the last picture in my camera of Ocean Falls. It was a beautiful sunny day as the plane taxied to the dock and as we took our last look at the town that was settled between the mountains and the sea, we had very mixed feelings. But we would soon be fearing for our lives and days later hearing the most shocking news about our beloved town.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The last half of the adventure was an extended honeymoon, an opportunity to build a financial footing in life, and a time to make plans for the future. It was a time when the deep loneliness disappeared and in retrospect was one of the happiest times of my life.
Overshadowing our life there, was the constant reality of impermanence. Leaving was inevitable, but the timing of that was uncertain but always imminent. There were constant threats of strikes. Our lives were greatly effected by longshoreman strikes, tugboat operators strikes, postal workers strikes, airport workers strikes, pulp and paper maker strikes, and I realise now, that those were tumultuous times in the world of labour relations in BC. In fact, the unionization of BC's labour force was a factor in the upcoming provincial elections of '72 which had an immediate effect on our town and our future.