January 29, 2009

and then the fight started...

My wife and I were sitting at a table at my high school reunion and I kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table.
My wife asked, "Do you know her?''
"Yes," I sighed, "she's my old girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago and I hear she hasn't been sober since."
''My God!" says my wife, "who would think a person could go on celebrating for that long?"

And then the fight started.

OK, sometimes I can't help myself - there are a bunch more like this. Let me know if you want them emailed - and thanks Rob.

January 27, 2009

a steaming pile of ...

We have a big treat in store for us tonight and tomorrow as we watch the opposition parties in Canada talk out of two sides of their mouths at the same time. When last we visited this soap opera, you may remember that the 3 opposition parties in our parliamentary system made a desperate grab for power by threatening to outvote the governing party on a financial bill. This forced the Conservatives to backpedal from a clearly arrogant and ill-timed attempt to pull all of the government financing from each of the parties, including themselves. Nothing is so angry as a politician forced from the taxpayer's teat.
So here we are, the economy world-wide is in turmoil, the Americans are printing money faster than "you-know-what" through a goose, companies everywhere are clamouring for bailouts regardless of their ability to be successful, banks around the world who have been injected with taxpayer's money refuse to lend any of it, layoffs are reaching levels never experienced by this generation and the Canadian government is about to create a 35 billion dollar deficit in this budget (that's 1,000.00 for every man, woman and child in the country) and will be applauded by the pundits for plunging us into another round of debt.
A couple of months ago, the opposition was screaming for just this scenario but what would you like to bet that they will spend all of their time blaming the governing party for doing what they themselves would have done, only more so? It seems that in our system, the opposition wants only to oppose, regardless of their own counsel and in complete opposition to their stated beliefs of a few short weeks prior. It will be interesting to see at least two of the opposition leaders hold forth with views of how the government is completely mismanaging the economy without having read (would they understand it if they did?) the budget that is presented.
Let's hope against hope that some common sense, civility and intelligence rises from the steaming pile of stench that we call Ottawa. Not that I'm cynical......

January 21, 2009



"I'm OK and ... thanks."

Adoption is an issue that affects millions of North Americans but is probably one that very few people have ever thought about. Certain buzz words alert those who are involved in some way to information or people who have a connection to adoption. Words like "given up," girls who went away, illegitimate, relinquished, birth mother and another one or two that I have been called by people who probably didn't know the actual meaning of bastard. I always take that one as a compliment.
Anyway, to make a short story longer - a few years ago I decided to write some of my thoughts around adoption and it ended up taking the form of a letter to the birth mother that I have never met. This short book is almost ready for public consumption (although I'm still not sure if I am), the writing, editing, formatting and ISBNing are complete. The cover page, which is being done by a very good friend who is an artist, is almost complete. I have to do some techy, internetty, on-liney type stuff to get it to PayPal and then link it from my website, but soon - it will be available to download to your own computer and print.
I am not planning to print and distribute a hard copy of the book because I don't think there is a very big commercial market. I will let you know when it is actually available.

January 20, 2009

OBAMA sama-sis-boom-ba

At first blush, it makes me sick. The U.S. media and entertainment industries are fawning over the new president like he's the second coming. Expectations have been jacked up sky high to the point that it would be impossible for any mortal to fulfill them. And I expect that we will find that out soon. It would be nice to think that it is possible for one man to change the world - and I suppose it has happened before, but my fear is that change is expected overnight. The media and Hollywood types are falling all over themselves with promises of hope and change that will magically appear today with the entry to the White House of Barack Obama. I suspect that the pain for people on the street is just beginning. The unemployed, disenfranchised, working poor, homeless and home poor will have to accept a much bigger role in changing their own lives than just cheering for a man who offers hope.
The media and entertainment attention and hyperbole is a mile wide and an inch deep as they wrestle with each other for 15 second sound bites full of promise from spectators desperate to blame the previous administration for everything from acne to war. Not that Bush doesn't deserve to carry the bag for a lot of what went wrong but greed, disinterest, myopia, naivete and downright stupidity were not the exclusive playground of the president - he had a lot of partners - about 350 million of them.
Anyway, I think that when Obama finally settles into office (150 million for inaugural festivities is obscene - imagine the media outcry if the Republicans had spent that much) and starts to take control of the levers, most people are going to find out that he will have to make a lot of very unpopular decisions. After the honeymoon is over and citizens figure out that they too have to make some decisions and take some actions, let's hope that some common sense and realistic time lines will develop to support Obama's effort to get the machine moving again.
One last thing I know for sure, we should NEVER count out the American ability to rise above challenges and truly create a brave new world. If I needed to bet on one country - I think I might bet on the U.S.

January 18, 2009


The answer was in the sealed envelope. The return address in the upper left corner revealed the name of the brokerage house in charge of the care and feeding of my retirement funds. OK, so we all know what has happened to the economy, the stock market and our retirement dreams but the real question is – “what the hell do we do now?”
I would like to hope that it will be unnecessary to apply for a job as a Wal-Mart greeter but fear has a funny way of painting pictures in our minds. The newspaper and television shows are full of experts telling us what we should have done. Advertisements tell us to switch what’s left of our funds to a new and presumably safer form of investment. It’s so easy to know what we should have done in retrospect and it seems that investment companies of every stripe are playing the 20/20 hindsight card. Gee, if only I could change the past there are a lot of things I would do differently – important things like getting more exercise, exotic travel and movie starlets I would have dated.
But back to what is left in the old age account. Depending on the proximity and the forced nature of impending retirement, we might still be able to continue and enhance our savings program…and pray. But more likely, we feel the strong need to do something now! Like find a magic pill that will restore our financial health and make the past eight months nothing more than a bad dream.
The contrarian in me insists that the majority of people do the wrong thing the majority of the time. And the sceptic in me views the opinions of ad writers and talk show experts with a healthy degree of cynicism. What should we do now? How about employing the same principles of good investing that we always did – or should have?
Use our natural senses when confronted with any kind of financial opportunity. If it doesn’t feel, smell, sound, look and taste right – don’t do it. But just as important are the other senses that don’t get recognized very often and may be the most important at this time – trust our sixth sense – instinct. Instinct, when listened to, will always tell us what is right and what is wrong. Common sense, the seventh, will tell us never to invest in something we don’t understand.
Before opening the envelope referred to earlier, it may be helpful to consider the importance of the eighth sense to our health and well-being – a sense of humour.
Good luck and welcome to Wal-Mart.

Bob is a recovering stockbroker who is nearing retirement and trying to define what that is. His vices include writing, golf, travel, cooking and reading. www.RobertJBannon.com

January 1, 2009


From our corner of the world to yours: May 2009 bring you joy, peace, comfort, good health, prosperity, success and enough challenge to know that you are still alive.