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Ash Holes in Europe

Although the holes are rather small

OK, I just could not resist putting that up as the title for today, given the complete mess Europe’s air travel is now in, thanks to a simple Volcanic Eruption in Iceland. I don’t remember Mount St. Helen’s causing this much of a hullabaloo, but then again, maybe that was different. This isn’t like Pompeii where the hole city was engulfed by a Pyroclastic Cloud, but it is the financial equivalent of it, with Airlines immobile and travelers stuck or worse forced to take $5000 taxi rides to then take an over-packed Ferry across the English Channel (which is the story of John Cleese this past week).

Amazing how Mother Nature occasionally flexes her muscles and shows we really are insignificant biological entities that can easily be wiped out by a few simple natural disasters. By the way, if I had travel insurance would a volcano erupting in Iceland be covered? My bet might be NO! but I am only guessing (opinions welcome).

Yes it’s the Tax Man

In Canada it is coming down to the wire and you should be putting in your tax returns very soon now (even if you don’t owe money, might be a good idea to submit any how). If you owe money, the CRA is not like the IRS in their ability to take your life and run it through their version of the Slap Chop (but you’ll love their nuts), but they can still make your life miserable if you owe them money. Better to come clean now and ask for mercy, you might be surprised what could happen.

I have already paid my wife’s owing taxes (it wasn’t in fact taxes it was CPP premiums as she is self employed). Interesting, but it will mean she can get CPP when she retires too, so I guess that is cool.

For Rent or Purchase

For those who missed it, the Nortel Carling campus (which was effectively home base for BNR and then Nortel) is up for sale. Almost 10,000 folks worked there in it’s hay day, I believe the number is significantly less now (and more importantly is someone still cleaning up the goose poop?). Rumors have it that the Federal Government “machine” may inhale this property, or it may become an excellent set for futuristic movies about Technology Companies Gone Mad (just a guess on my part). Maybe they can film a remake of “The Omega Man” there, and rename it “Omega DMS Man”?

Remember it is Administrative Professionals Day on Wednesday (used to be called Secretary’s Day, but that was deemed very non-PC, so we have gone with this quizical name now). So does this mean I have to buy my Computer Sys Admins roses? Hopefully I won’t have to get my School Administrators some daffodils? I alwasy appreciate it when folks change commonly used terms into something much more obfuscated, makes life that much more interesting.

Good God, when did I turn into Andy Rooney ?

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Holiday Cheer Volume 7: 2009 Ends

For my regular readers, I am so lazy swamped over the holidays that I am taking some time off and putting up a “Best of” anthology until the New Year (January 4th, to be exact). Enjoy two Best of posts a day over the Holidays, and have yourself a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

For me, the year 2009 was a roller coaster of ups and downs both financially and in my life. As some of you know, I worked at Nortel for 20+ years and got laid off at the end of 2008, but I was lucky enough to find a job this year, and I have no complaints about 2009, other than the everyday rants my regular readers have seen.

I have picked out three posts that sort of sum up Nortel and me in the past year. I don’t bear any ill will to the folks I worked with at Nortel. They were great, but I still have a festering loathing for the upper management team(s) and some specific on how this all “went down.” I guess that Karma, or God or whatever force that makes things equal in this world will get them eventually.

It is interesting that I never really had a specific post stating I was back at work. I slid it into a Random Thoughts post.

A Questionnaire for Everything (2009/01/06)

In August, as part of the entire severance process that I lived through with my former employer, a few odd things happened, and this incident was the most bizarre…..

To read the complete post, click here

Sometimes It’s Better to Be Lucky (2009/01/15)

With Nortel’s bankruptcy protection announcement yesterday, there is a sickening scenario for some very unlucky folks (many I know personally). Today’s title comes from one of my favourite expressions, “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than talented,” and that is how I feel right now.

To read the whole post, click here.

A Year Ago (2009/07/30)

This is the first anniversary of my lay-off notice from Nortel. A lot has happened in the past year (unfortunately, not a job offer for me, but I am still optimistic) that has me thinking that something terrible may end up being a good thing.

To read the whole post, click here.

Random Thoughts: Back to Work Edition (2009/08/07)

You will know I have been on the hunt for a new job for over a year now for my regular readers. Still, I am pleased to say that I will be embarking on a new career as of Monday, which is a great relief to me (and my wife, who will gladly have the house back in regular working order soon enough).

To read the complete post click here

All the Volumes

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Random Thoughts: Remembering Is Important

For the Remembrance Day week, there was much to reflect on. We live in a great Country (Canada) and are lucky for those who have fought for us and those in our Armed Forces today. Thank You.

I was also excited to see that the Ottawa Public Library has updated their “Stone Knives and Bearskins” interface and are now testing a brand new interface which I like a great deal (and you can find me on their as bigcajunman as well). Try it out and tell the folks what you think of it.

From the Financial Blogosphere

Given the N.C.F.B.A. met this week, I always feel a level of rejuvenation in my blog, and also a level of confusion, given some of the topics that are discussed by some of the members are well over my head financially. I listen and attempt to learn as much as I can, and then go and read about the topics more (so for me it’s like going to a seminar on high level finance ideas).

  • Michael James wrote about Veterans’ Pensions and just how little we pay permanently disabled soldiers and members of the military (shockingly low, but might be tax free).
  • Speaking of disabilities the Canadian Capitalist wrote about The Sad Story of Nortel LTD Beneficiaries which is another scandalous issue. These folks are going to lose their benefits (or already have lost them), because of how Nortel ran their program. Read the posting, and then ask yourself how your company does Long Term Disability benefits.
  • Soon to be Television Personality Preet at WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo put up a useful video on What is a Mutual Fund for those wanting to learn more about how that investment vehicle works. Preet will hopefully soon be seen on the W Network on a weekly basis, stay tuned.
  • Larry MacDonald (who promises to write a follow up one day of his successful book Nortel: Telecomm Empire) writes a useful posting on the Quotable Guide to Passive Investing where he gives you some quips from some very good books about passive investing.
  • Gail Vaz-Oxlade tells you 8 Reasons Why You Don’t Save right on target as usual (wish she wasn’t sometimes).
  • Promod at Riscario Insider write about Three Reasons Why Financial Literacy Eludes Us again, wish he wasn’t right.

Have a great weekend all, remember it’s time to put your Snow Tires on!

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Random Thoughts: TGIF

Yes for me TGIF for the first time in a while (no not, “Toes Go In First” (although I do have that monogrammed on all my socks)). It’s exciting fun and worrying all at once to be back on the job, so we shall see what this new endeavour leads to.

Thanks to all the positive comments I have received this week, but remember there are lots of other folks looking around, so help them out if you can too.

These Guys Is Financial

Another interesting TGIF acronym for the financial articles this week:

Have a great weekend all, I will be recovering from a long first week (after a year any first week was going to be LONG) 🙂

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A Year Ago

This was written in 2009 a year after I had been laid off, and I was about to start a new job, interesting reflections

This is the one year anniversary of my lay off notice from Nortel. A lot has happened in the past year (unfortunately not a job offer for me, but I am still optimistic), that have me thinking that for something bad, it may end up being a good thing.

Nortel
Nortel Once a Giant Now Deceased High Tech Firm

Relaxed

The atmosphere at Nortel had been such that since about 2000, there was a constant feeling of the Sword of Damocles hanging over you. I lived through about 16  lay off rounds in the various groups I had worked in, so the actual lay off was almost a relief in a very odd way.  My minister made that exact comment that since he had first met me every time he spoke to me I mentioned something about impending lay offs, so my eventual lay off was anti-climatic in a perverse way.

Severance Paid

From my calculations I was in the last group (or nearly the last group) that received full severance from Nortel. The people after me are on a long list of creditors who will be paid little or none of what they are owed (or were promised by the company). There are many very sad stories that I have heard from people I used to work with, and I count myself as very fortunate.

The latest stories are sickening to hear that they will be withdrawing payments to people on long term disability, as well as pulling their medical coverage. Hopefully there will be government assistance to these folks, but I am not optimistic.

Pension Losses

I suspect that Nortel’s pension debacle may only be the tip of the ice berg in corporate Canada, with Air Canada already having done this (and doing it again).  I took my pension money out of Nortel when I could, which in hindsight was a great decision but at the time it was more my lack of trust in the company that made me do it, not any great insight.

All pensions these days seem to be under pressure (even the Public Service pension lost $9Billion dollars this past year), which makes me wonder how the retirement of the Baby Boomers is going to go, and whether all pensions can deal with this huge out flux of cash from their reserves?

Save up to 50% on life insurance.

Christmas Wishes from the Past

I seem to do this a lot, so here are my Christmas wishes from years gone by:

Reflections So Far

My real view of my lay off last year is that I have been very lucky, and I was lucky to have worked at Nortel/BNR for the time I did. The experience I picked up continues to get me job interviews, and I worked with many wonderful and amazing people, so even at times when I seem to be a “bitter former employee”, I am not, I am grateful for the experience and hope to soon find a new place to ply my trade.

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