Archive for June, 2009

The Nortel Shell Game

It’s not every day that you see a company with a 127-year history in Canada dissolve before your eyes. Or is it? North America‚Äôs biggest maker of phone gear filed for bankruptcy protection in January of this year. I’m sure that in the current climate refinancing their debt is difficult but this downward spiral has been mounting.

Bankruptcy protection, at least these days, is nothing new. Nor is the mismanagement of Nortel, as recently as 2007 the company paid a $35 million fine to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission claims that it was manipulating earnings from 2000 to 2003. Lately executives have been touting a renewed focus on stabilizing its customer and supplier base but one must follow the money.

The company had been hoarding cash leading up to its bankruptcy filing and had been slow to pay severance payments. After a fight that went to Ontario Superior Court, Nortel was allowed to pay $45 million in bonuses for close to 1,000 executive and nonexecutive employees (including the eight senior executives). With thousands let go you it’s not hard to think of how many current or former employees feel. The gravy train is coming to a halt. The fire sale has begun. The demise of Nortel is criminal, but many will say this is business as usual.

Only a matter of time until Nortel will be delisted from the TSX. Nortel was Canada’s most widely held and valuable company (one of the few “dot com” companies with real assets) worth over $350 Billion and employing 95,000. Now it’s worth a few hundred million and employs less than half that staff count! Pity.

Getting Flipped Off By A Fed

Not sure what is with the Conservative Party these days? Are they daydreaming about golf, summer vacation or “sexy” isotopes. No matter I’m hopeful that the funding the TTC is supposed to get for the new accessible streetcars goes through.

Federal Transport Minister John Baird apologized to Toronto Mayor David Miller for using colourful language criticizing the city’s application for stimulus funding. The June 27th deadline to pursue the TTC’s Bombardier contract is approaching. I’m glad Baird apologized and that everyone can move on. It looks as though something constructive will actually happen between the two levels of government. Good thing we didn’t just F__@ off and wait to see if we would actually see some stimulus money.

Short Of The Record But Not Of Greatness

Yesterday afternoon’s Guinness Book of World Records attempt at largest guitar ensemble attempt was astounding. In 2007 Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany brought together 1,802 guitarists to play Smoke on the Water. Neil Young’s Helpless was to be The Great Canadian Tune to rally Toronto guitarists and beat the record. We were close. “Just” 1,623 made it! While just shy of the record seeing a city block wrapped with a line up of guitar players was pretty cool.

A Piece Of Photographic History

I’m a sucker for classic cameras. Waiting to get my hands on a piece of history , an Olympus PEN. In the age of megapixels and mega marketing one must remember a good camera still comes down to a good lens. A good photograph, doesn’t need even that, just the vision of a photographer. (I’ve seen plenty of amazing pictures with a plastic lens or no lens at all – using a pinhole)

The fact that a nearly 50 year old camera could still be functioning says a lot for the workmanship at that time. Its speedy 32mm f1.9 lens and ability to shoot 72 pictures on a roll of 36 film tips the film camera vs. digital balance for me. Not sure how many rolls of film I’ll get to put through this beauty but it will be a fun ride.

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