Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

That's it, it's the last day of 2009, and I'm not that sorry to see it go. It was the year of my father's death, which certainly occupied most of my mental and emotional energy for quite some time. I remember last New Year's being a pretty gloomy time. And then while my Dad crashed and burned, so did the financial markets in the world. It was something to see, and I must say it made clear to me what they mean when they talk about risk in the stock market. Risk is great when things go up, but watching stuff go into freefall, well that's not so much fun.

This year things look brighter, though cancer still seems to be catching. The markets have come back (for now) and we're heading into, oh yeah, the Olympics. I have to admit to having lost my enthusiasm for the Olympics. It's nice to watch on TV, and well, being as I live in the host city, that's just what I'll be doing, watching it on TV. I can just about see the Olympic village from my place though.

I'm sorry, but this is just getting to me. The "Olympic family" gets tickets, the extremely rich or extremely foolish buy the over-priced few tickets left over in the nosebleeds, and the rest of us are told to be proud. Oh, and could we please close our schools, and our courts so the police can provide 'security'. Could we get our cars off the road, stay off transit, don't go to work. Oh, and just watch those grants for arts go into freefall, and any funding for sports for anyone who might isn't in the elite. Chuck out the animals from the Children's Zoo. Get those pesky homeless off the street. Reduce hours at the library. Postpone repairs on the schools. Smile for the new HST, an Olympic change in policy for our "Liberal" provincial government and let-them-eat-cake-Campbell. It will arrive along with a boost in the carbon tax next July (we're so green).

I flipped around through several newscasts last night and the top stories were five Canadians dead in Afghanistan, one of them a journalist, the proroguing of Parliament, and wait for it, The Team Members were picked. Only CTV had the decency to mention that they were announcing the men's hockey team. But it's not just sexism that's got me going, it's class war. On the morning after let-them-eat-cake-Harper prorogued Parliament for the second time in order to avoid running an honest government, the front page of the Vancouver Sun carried nothing but photos of Canada's warriors. Not the ones that died in Afghanistan, or the journalist who died with them. No, the pictures are of a bunch of wealthy hockey players, the gladiators for the ruling classes.Our chance for Gold. Gotta have our priorities straight here.

Okay, so I'm losing it.

There is some good news at least, on the labour front: Yesterday MVT (the evil bosses) finally agreed to binding arbitration, which the union asked for at least a month ago, and MVT swore they would never agree to. Upshot is the strike is over, picket lines came down at 9 this morning, and once the buses are up and running (any that have had problems have been tucked behind the picket line so haven't been serviced) my sweetie gets to go back to work, and any sick, disabled, fragile or elderly folks still alive after their two+ months sitting at home, will get to ride the buses again. It'll likely be a while before the labour contract gets sorted, but at least the system will be started up again next week.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

still on strike

Well, there you go. I thought the numbers would be the opposite, a grudging acceptance. Instead the members of ATU 1724 have grudgingly rejected the mediated offer. Fifty-eight percent of HandyDART employees said no. This just tells you how poisoned the relations are with the employer, to manage in one year to turn a non-militant group that has never had a strike, into such determined strikers. But 42% said yes, so it's not good.

Expect something like another miserable month for the passengers, before the heavy hand of the government brings HandyDART back to work. Or maybe, just maybe, the employer will say yes now to binding arbitration, which the union had asked for.

I suspect it's the pay scale. HandyDART drivers were offered an amount that is $4.75 less per hour than drivers make in Victoria. This is a historical wrong that may never be corrected. And it may explain why they feel hard done by. They are. But so too are the passengers, and I fear the sympathy for the drivers will begin to slip.

Oh dear, that's all I can say.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

treading water

Today is one of those days, not a bad day, but not a whoo-hoo-things-are-great-day, either.

I'd been waiting to hear from my partner about what kind of offer was made to the HandyDART union by the new-this-year employer. For some unfathomable reason, TransLink gave the contract to run the non-profit disabled transportation service in the Lower Mainland to a for-profit American company. A service that is mostly subsidized by the taxpayer (and should be, in the realm of some things are just the right thing to do). Any profit they gouge out is our tax dollars draining to the south.

Anyway after 29 years with no strike, the new employer managed to run down service and demoralize the drivers enough to leave the union no choice but the always hurtful option of striking.

There’s been a lot of misery caused by this strike, a lot of forgotten people stuck in their homes waiting for the buses to roll again, and a lot of under-valued people tramping a picket line for the past two months. Two months!

They're voting today and tomorrow on a mediated offer. They've been offered pretty much what they already had. If the union accepts the offer, the drivers will get to continue being the lowest paid staff in the TransLink system, and the lowest paid HandyDART drivers in BC. What about this picture seems wrong to you? Is there something easier about driving around our area?

The union will probably vote yes, but I'll bet it won't be resounding (don't quote me on it -- I guessed wrong about Survivor). I don't think they're going to be happy though; just less mad.

A two month strike in order to tread water. Two months pay lost to the employees, and two months life lost to their passengers. (No word on improvements to service and scheduling; that's up to TransLink to remind the company about. I hope the passengers keep on letting them know.)

But it does seem that the downtrodden just keep getting trod down, doesn’t it?

Friday, December 18, 2009


I've been doing this blog thing since 2003 in another space, and ran out of steam in the last year. I’ve decided it’s time to get back to it, here on blogger instead of my old page, (which will stay as my archive, if you're interested) because I started to realize that all the housekeeping around doing my own html was fun, but it kept me from the words and the writing, which are the whole point after all; word after word after word, until they create some shape and turn into something worth keeping. (Now whether this pile of verbiage remains worth keeping, we’ll have to wait and see. Databases have doomed us to such a fantastic ability to keep everything. So much easier to store ether.) It’s not like the world is going to run out of words, and on bad days I think, well, who needs mine added to the clamour, but on good days I think well yes, because my peculiar brain has things to say too. Peculiar, as in unique. We’re all unique. Right?

This post is a first start in the deluge, word after word after word, and I hope that it’ll get me going again in pulling out the nuggets that deserve shaping. In the meantime, I do love to hear what I think, and often can’t tell you unless I’ve written it down first.

I'd set this space up two years ago when I went rambling with my new love. I guess I've been rambling since, as much of the focus went out of my writing during this time. (You know how love makes things all fuzzy and unfocused). Then also my father died in February, and estate business, not to mention a complicated kind of grief, set in. What’s the point of a life, that kind of thing.

My relationship with my father was hard to define. Lots of emotion, fractured because the relationship was pretty fractured. He was complex (everyone's complex) and my feelings were complex. I can't be the first person to wash between me, me, me, and realizing it's not about me, I mean if any time should belong to anyone, it should be the person doing the dying, but then why does the me feel so, well, torn up too? And it’s not as facile as saying well, he was your father, so you loved him. I’m not sure of the truth of that. I spent so many, many years not loving him, a mix of hurt/hate. With an admixture of pride, the guy was such a character. And then I’d feel sorry for him; with all he had going, he was such a mess. No wonder he didn’t satisfy as father. And then, in all fairness, can anyone satisfy the father-hunger that kids have? Yeah, complex indeed.

So what brings me back to this place? The writing. It won't go away. The year drifts by, I think I'm looking after other stuff, and the emails get longer, the letters to the editor get more frequent, motor-mouth sets in when I bump into friends/anyone! and I think, well, what is it this picture telling me? Oh, right, write.

I'm going to use this space instead of the old one. I'm a supreme procrastinator, able to throw up distractions at the blink of an eye, and I’ve figured out that all the playing around with html, getting things to fit, and the background set, and remembering code, and feeling clever, means that I don’t get around to actually writing anything. And surely there are people besides me who will want to read what I write. Right? Well, maybe after a bit of focus sets in.