Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope Santa is good to you all, and that you are safe, healthy and with the people you love. Here is a little Christmas animation I created as my gift to you all- don't say I never gave ya nothin!

Actually I created it a few years back as a animated gif tutorial for my students, but hey, you have regifted before too! Come on, fess up. I know you have.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

'We wish you well': Williams to AbitibiBowater

I have been following this story for some time now, and have found myself feeling warm and fuzzy feelings towards Danny Williams. Feelings I never really felt before. It made me feel strange. It made me feel icky.

So today, as I read the latest chapter in the Danny verses Goliath saga: 'We wish you well': Williams to AbitibiBowater I could not help but read the comments made by other readers. I was appalled and unnerved by what I read. It was no the number of positive responses that surprised me, it was the number of references to Danny's balls. Specifically the size and physical make-up of the boys below.

I shit you not. Check it out yourself:

"Danny Williams needs to take the show federal and start swinging his big brass balls in Ottawa!"


"I like this guy Danny Williams. He is just the type of man we need to run this Country. Big Boots and Big Balls. He got my vote."


"A politician with bollocks? Wow!" Is the word bollocks code for balls? I don't know but it sounds suspect to me.


"Way to go!! DANNY BOY you got BALLS !! "


"If we "Steve" had half the balls that Danny has, the whole country would be better off than it is right now. Way to go Danny!!! "

and from the Globe and Mail, a favourite word of mine, the rarely used cajones:

"More leaders in this country should have Danny's cojones. Government subsidies to most large companies in this country have been greater than any benefits they provided."

I could list many more, but I think you get the point, and I need to have a shower. Suddenly I feel very dirty.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Newfoundland expropriating Abitibi assets

According to the Globe and Mail, Danny has decided that Newfoundland will be expropriating Abitibi assets, including all hydro electricity rights from the generating station at Star Lake, as well as all timber rights to forests on Crown land.

I know this will cause a lot of people on the mainland to scream and shout about how this is just another example of heavy handed Danny stepping in where he should not, and while I am not one of his biggest fans, I am not sure I can condemn him here.

Maybe because I am too close to the issue emotionally, that is my hometown. I don't want to see it die.

What is really going on here? Some say the Abitibi created a deal the workers couldn't accept- they wanted to shut the mill down. Others say the workers would not negotiate.

When the mill was operating in Grandfalls it was given timber and power rights- and in exchange the mill employed thousands of people over the years. They don't access to those assets anymore, because they closed the mill. So the use of those leased assets should now revert back to the province.

Maybe I am just failing into the big bailout frame of mind. Bail out Wall street. Bail out banks. Bail out the big three. Bail out my home town. Heck why not?

I do not have all the facts- I know that. And yes, I am allowing sentiment to cloud my judgment.

I guess I just want the people back home to have a chance at starting something new. A chance at starting fresh.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sad Day for Grandfalls-Windsor

AbitibiBowater announced today that it will close the mill in my hometown before the end of March. The closure will put about 450 people out of work at the mill, my uncle and several in-laws and friends among them, and many more who work in forestry, shipping and other jobs that depend on the paper mill.

The town has grown up around that mill since 1905. My family really sprang forth from the opportunity that the papermill provided, my grandfather raised ten children on the salary he made there. They were never well off financially, but he provided well for them, he worked very hard. My dad too worked there a few years, and many summers- it enabled him to save money to go to university. My Uncle Bill works there still, I am not sure what there will be for him after the mill closes. And I am willing to bet he is wondering the same thing.

The mill allowed people to build a community where everyone knows everyone else, and cares about each other in a way that is simultaneoulsy loving, and smothering. The residents of Grandfalls-Windsor are connected to each other in a lot of ways, but the epicenter of those connections was the mill.

And now it is gone.

When I read the report I was hit first with a worry, it knotted in my belly and tighened there, a hard lump. And then came the anger, and boy there was a lot of that. I wondered how things got to this point? Why had Abitibi not kept the mill in pace with the times? How did the union fail to realize playing hard ball with a company already losing millions was not the best plan? How, especially given the current recesssion, could 88 per cent of the workers reject Abitibi's final offer knowing the company was looking for any excuse to close shop? I just don't get it.

I am not sure what is next for people home. I guess some could find work in Alberta, but even that wellspring is drying up. I know Rex says that the town has diversified, but I don't think it will make it for long without the mill, not without something to replace it.