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The Barron Blog
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Movie Review 128: Passchendaele
Mood:  a-ok

With Canada mired so much in Afghanistan, the movie Passchendaele takes on extra significance.

The film doesn't totally succeed as a love story, but it definitely succeeds as an heroic war story. Without a doubt, the Canadians (i.e. the stormtroppers) are up to the task of giving everything on the grim battlefields of World War 1.

The battle scenes swing between barbarianism and humanitarianism on both sides. In the end, it's the Canadians' sense of duty that seems to win the day.

The story appeals to my patriotic pride in the men and women who serve their country in time of need. Three stars.

More reviews can be found here. 

The poem below originated in War World One.

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

 


Posted by qualteam at 9:34 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 24 February 2009 10:30 PM EST
Sunday, 22 February 2009
The Recession: The Security Bubble Has Burst

Well, it isn't a bad as the Depression in the 1930s with unemployment running at 25%. Back then, it took the U.S. Government over three years to start to move on this condition. The Obama Government is moving much faster than that.

Economic forecasters were blindsided by the effect of massive "toxic debt" that was injected into the world's financial system from 2002 to 2008.

Guys like Bernie Madoff and Stanley O'Neil were able to get away with  fraud and financial bogus products for some time without regulation or oversight.

Added to the above were forecasts that oil and commodity prices would keep going up and up because of the demand in India and China. The bull market would continue indefinitely.

The herd instinct among forecasters made sheep look like independent thinkers.

The subprime bubble burst first, then the oil and commodity bubble. Financials nosedived followed by energy and other stocks.

In the end, the stock markets of the world ended up at where they were in 2002 (40% down).

If I were President of the United States, I wouldn't go easy on those that perpetrated this financial crisis. All of those who made money off of toxic paper would have to pay it back to the Government. This would cover a little of the cost of the financial bail-out. If they couldn't pay it back, they would have to do many hours of community service helping those less fortunate than themselves.

Stock market speculation is much harder to control. The Government should have well-trained investment analysts who can give warnings to investors when certain stocks get over valued.

Not enough time and effort was done to protect investors from the present downturn. This has to change.

I wish you all the best in keeping your job and/or getting a better one.

 


Posted by qualteam at 12:49 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 23 February 2009 8:51 AM EST
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
The Barron Blog Is Over Six Years Old

The Barron Blog was created on Feb/13/2003 and now contains over 1388 entries on practically every subject under the sun.

The highlights of this Blog are listed on the right. The funniest parts are placed in "my top ten lists".

Links to Barron Blog entries through pictures can be found here.

Perhaps, my most profound or controversial entries concern "The Brotherhood of Jesus Christ" and how one would connect to it. I've taken a mystical approach on matters of spirituality and the afterlife. If it isn't true for you, it isn't true for you.

Good music is also close to my heart and my blog and connected websites contain over a hundred songs and music videos.

Over the last year or so, I've tried to put some optimism into the world of investment and finance. This was a tough go for me, but you can't give up the ship because there's a storm on the ocean. We just have to make our survival and investment skills better in a time of painful recession.

The internet is a big mind that links us together. Hopefully, you've got a smile or an insight into something from your studies. I've tried to put my best thoughts, links and experiences into it.

Thanks for visiting. Send me a message on anything.

 


Posted by qualteam at 10:45 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 17 February 2009 11:00 PM EST
Sunday, 15 February 2009
Where Have All The "Traffic" Posties Gone?

After more than 35 years, I've finally retired from Canada Post. It was a decent job with a decent salary and benefits, but in the end I was hanging on to get a full pension .

I never grew up with dreams of becoming a career postal worker. Unfortunately, during my early 20s, I was laid off from many jobs. I wanted a position with a degree of job security that would be there from one year to the next. Luckily, I snagged a full time mailhandler position right off the street in July of 1973.

Sure there were many CUPW strikes, but I managed to get through those ok. Check out my "CUPW Guy Website" at www.cupw.info. for my involvement with this union.

The Toronto Exchange Office (TEO) had a nice retirement party for me and Linda Roberts, a registration clerk, who was retiring at the same time. Management brought in pizza and chicken wings for our staff but posties from other staffs showed up for the free food.

The plant manager Winslow, and floor supervisor, Ervin, gave their two cents worth on the occasion. It was more or less positive. I had a reputation for stirring up trouble for postal honchos. As a member of "The Good Old Traffic Boys" down at Union Station, we had a motto that we loved to communicate to management: "When the dust settles, we'll still be here, but you'll be gone". We worked hard, but we wouldn't put up with any harassment from the bosses.

Boy, have times changed.

The Post Office is downsizing in 2009/2010, but fortunately, there are, at least, 20,000 employees retiring over the next couple of years, so no one should get laid off like in the U.S. Post Office.

The Post Office has been good to me and others. We have (had?) 15 sick days cumulative each year. We have (had?) seven weeks vacation time after 28 years and six weeks pre-retirement leave after age 50 with 20 years of service. 

Why is "had" in brackets? Well, some things are going to change in the next contract, but the CPC pension plan is still one of the best in Canada.

The work in our section was often boring, heavy and tiring, but I stayed with it because it was a security blanket and an investment (i.e. the pension).

I look forward to writing more (screenplays, etc), blogging more, exercising more and acting as a film extra again. Perhaps, I might even get a small role in a film playing a bad guy of course.

P.S. My first job at Canada Post was in "The Traffic Division" down at Toronto's Union Station. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors play where the old Post Office once stood.


MusicPlaylist
Music Playlist at MixPod.com

Posted by qualteam at 10:33 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 15 February 2009 10:54 PM EST
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Movie Review 127: The Wrestler
Mood:  down

The best part of the wrestler was Mickey Rourke's performance. He reached out to his disaffected daughter and his personal stripper in order to develop a real relationship with each one. However, it seemed that the only meaningful relationship that "Randy Ram Robinson "(i.e. Rourke) had was with the wrestling audience.

This was where the story went off the rails.

Wrestling was killing Randy because his heart couldn't take it anymore. He tried to find redemption with his daughter and a stripper friend, but they rejected him. The only alternative was to wrestle until it killed him.

I didn't like this message. The story became a real downer three quarter of the way through when wrestling became the only thing that  Randy could relate to. Two and half stars. There's more meaningful things in life besides wrestling.

There are more reviews at on this website.

 


Posted by qualteam at 11:15 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 11 February 2009 10:11 PM EST
Saturday, 7 February 2009
Groundhog Daze

If fortune tellers are into economic forecasting why not groundhogs? Are the "gods of market forces" blessing us or cursing us? Every religion needs prophets and wise apples, why not "mystical economic shamans"?

It's easy to be a groundhog or a sheep investor following failed gurus and financial "experts". It's much harder to take a proactive approach to all of this and one's life as well.

I've been looking on the internet for material on "proactive thinking" and "reactive thinking".
 
Much of what has happened last year came from human reaction and emotion.  However, we all survive better when we use our noodles and engage in proactive planning and action.
 
The media is incredibly "reactive" on just about anything.
 
I've admired Ontario Premier, Dalton McGuinty's attempt to reinvent Ontario manufacturing. Some of this thinking comes from a report from
Roger Martin and Richard Florida called "Ontario in a Creative Age".
 
An important quote from The
"Toronto Star's" editoral yesterday. "Businesses have a responsibility to invest more in making their employees more creative".
 
This is the problem-solving, proactive approach that everyone should be into right now.
 
Engagment and educational programs should be part of any
out-of-the-box proactive plan.
 
We can't take our jobs and pensions for granted anymore. 


Posted by qualteam at 10:38 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 7 February 2009 11:24 AM EST
Monday, 2 February 2009
Stock Market Bouncing

There were more important things to worry about today than groundhog shadows. There still seems to be strong protectionist feelings in the U.S. Government and the unemployment rate continues to go up.

Pessimism haunts the world's stock market and government debt gets bigger everyday.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've only bought one stock and it has trended lower. It's good to keep your losses at a minimum and watch for any change that might improve some sector of the market.

Most investors are probably still looking for a bottom in this market. I think we've passed that point, but there hasn't been much to cheer about. Cherry picking stocks is the game of the day, right now. You might get lucky and you might not.

In the meantime one can park his/her money in a "High Interest Tax-Free Saving Account". 3.00% is better than 0% or -5%. 

 


Posted by qualteam at 11:00 PM EST
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Movie Review 126: Frost/Nixon

Unfortunately, I missed the original Nixon interviews in 1977. However, these interviews were stunning brought to life by Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Legella as Nixon.

The development of the plot puts David Frost as the real underdog in this story. His producer thinks it will be hard to interview Nixon. Later on, Frost has difficulty finding advertisers for the program. He faces bankrupcty if the interviews don't air. The U.S. networks also pass on the subject matter.

When the interviews do start, Nixon controls most of the agenda and makes himself look good through his rambling "good old boy" responses.

However, in the last interview, Frost pulls out surprise questions from "The Watergate Tapes" and gets Nixon to demonstrate presidential arrogance by saying "When a president does anything it isn't illegal."

Frank Langella is magnificent as the complex, pitiful Nixon. Time and time again, Frost confronts him with his mistakes, but Nixon has difficulty remembering details. In the end, justice is served and "The Nixon Interviews" gain a TV viewership of 400 million.

This is a great drama with terrific acting. I'd give Frank Langella the Best Actor Oscar for 2008. Four stars!!!


Posted by qualteam at 9:23 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 27 January 2009 10:09 PM EST
Sunday, 25 January 2009
How To Be Happy In 2009 And Beyond

  1. Figure out exactly what is important to you. For example, Leo Babauta, a former miserable speechwriter and the contented author of "The Power Of Less" boiled it down to four things: spending time with his family, writing, reading and running.
  2. Learn how to live on a tight budget. This would be paying extra on your debts including your car and house. It would include a minimun of luxuries like travelling, dining out and electronic toys like a Blackberry.
  3. Become a prayer warrior and social activist. We are all stewards of this world. This involves a responsibility for improving mankind's condition. Our job is to make Earth a better place physically and spiritually.
  4. Learn how to save and invest properly. In Canada, there are high interest tax-free saings accounts called TFSAs. You can put $5000 in one every year and you never pay tax on the interest. This would be a good financial product for the U.S. too. Tell Barack Obama you want it. You should also have your own online trading account and learn bad investing from good investing.
  5. Develop a program for a healty diet and physical exercise that you can enjoy. These would be good habits that you can continue through your life and into retirement.
  6. Write a blog on your life, thoughts and visions. Every person is unique is his/her own way. It's great to "find the oneself" in our life experiences and communicate to others.

I'm a great believer in personal empowerment through education and self development. 

If you have a blog or just want to communicate, please share your thoughts with me.

 


Posted by qualteam at 12:08 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 25 January 2009 12:26 PM EST
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
America Gets Another Chance

I believe that Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt have unfinished business concerning the U.S. today.

Over the last eight years, we've seen a weakening of the United States as a power for peace and prosperity in this world. This is something that would not rest lightly with spirits of the former presidents above.

It will take an "all hands" effort to restore America back to where it once was from the 1950s to the 1990s.

I believe the three former presidents will be on President Obama's team as spiritual advisors. You can't leave this earthly game until you leave as a winner. United States must become a major force for peace and prosperity in this world. 

This may be too much for Barack Obama and his team (physical and otherwise) to handle. That is why there has to be a DH on the team too. A "Designated Higher Power".

The Lord will take control if necessary. All you have to say is "Jesus Take The Wheel":


Posted by qualteam at 11:40 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 21 January 2009 5:07 PM EST

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