Friday, July 21, 2006

My turn to go fishin'

I am done work for the next two weeks, and not soon enough. I head to the cottage in the morning -- an eight-hour drive away -- for some family time, friend time and general R&R. Little Bro Dan will be there waiting for me, along with my Dad, StepMama, Sister, Brother-in-law, their two kids and their dog, and perhaps Brother, Sister-in-law and their daughter. Sunday, we're having a "do" for my Dad, who turns 75 next month.

The two weeks away from work will do me good. It's been a weird, melancholy time there since the big layoff announcement last Wednesday. We said goodbye to an Audio Operator today. He's taking a voluntary severance package, thereby saving someone else's job. The next exodus is August 31, when a few more people leave; then January 19 is the big day that the rest of us leave for good. I truly hope to have a new job to go to long before that.

There's been a lot of "WTF?" among my co-workers since the announcement, and in the wake of a few other developments since then. I won't say much about my situation in particular, but suffice it to say that it has become clear that management is taking the opportunity to get rid of me and my above-average salary, and replace me with a less experienced, less versatile, much lower-paid person. That's another slap in the face, on top of the one that occurred to two other supervisors and me last week, when we realized that one suck-up is being kept on, despite the fact that the three of us are more literate (yes, literate!) and versatile than he is.

All that aside, there are some hopeful signs. I have a few lines on jobs, and I'll kick the job hunt into high gear as soon as my holidays are over.

So don't expect much in a post before August 8. But don't worry, I'll be back.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

You can only escape the axe so often

You can only be lucky enough for the axe not to fall on you so many times, especially in this crazy business we call broadcasting, where staff reductions are an almost regular, almost routine feature. In my 27 years in journalism, 22 of them in broadcasting, I've been lucky enough to have never been laid off... until today.

As part of CHUM restructuring (which, we're told, is a total coincidence to Bell Globemedia buying the company today), I am among about 280 people across Canada who were handed their walking papers today. Some took effect immediately -- such as 47 of my colleagues in Vancouver, one of whom called me from a bar. At A-Channel Ottawa, where I work, a handful were immediate, a few more at the end of August, and the rest -- including me -- as of January 19, 2007. I'll tell you, there was a lot of unabashed hugging and "What the f***?" going on in our newsroom this afternoon. Anyone who says they weren't blindsided by this is either lying or on cheap drugs.

And that's not to criticize management, especially at the local level. Is there ever a right time and/or right way to handle layoffs without looking totally callous? Don't answer that question: it's meant rhetorically.

So I have six months to find another job. In the meantime, I'll weigh all my options, which might even include a different position at A-Channel. My resumé is up to date, and I've never been one to wallow in pity. I would rather pick myself up, dust myself off, and make the best of the situation. Yes, fellow bloglodytes, I'm gonna make lemonade outta this bushel o' lemons!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Whirlwind Weekend Trip

Well, I'm back at the grind after a three-day weekend, during which I joined a convoy from Ottawa to Timmins (Porcupine, to be more precise) to move Little Bro Dan into his new apartment. He started his new job as a paramedic last month, working between Timmins, Matheson, Iroquois Falls, Cochrane and Smooth Rock Falls.

He has a beautiful apartment, which is just around Porcupine Lake from Ma and Pa Horton's Timmy's South Porcupine location. His girlfriend will move up there late next month, after completing a summer job and a course she needs to get her Master's degree.

I guess there's no denying now that my Dano is all grown up. We were matched by Big Brothers in Timmins 13 years ago this Friday. In ways, it seems like just yesterday; in others, it seems like eons ago -- and that's all good. We are the ultimate in successful Big Brothers matches. He was ten at the time, and we quickly fit into each other's routines, lives and families, and decided it would be forever. I wouldn't trade a second of it.

Dan has grown into a fine, respectable, respectful young man, and although his mom is the absolute best, I don't mind taking some of the credit. It is really neat to watch a young person as they grow and mature, and realize that some of the values they exhibit in word and deed are values that they learned from your word and deed.

On a totally different subject: if you're lurking here and haven't participated in helping select the quintessential Canadian song that I began searching for in my last post, please take the time to do so.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What's the quintessential Canadian song?

I was thinking about this when I was in Cuba in April, and want to hear what my fellow Bloglodytes think.

What got me thinking about it was the day tour to Havana (I was staying in Varadero), and the tour guide on the bus teaching us all to sing "Guantanamera".

I brought a journal with me to Cuba, and wrote in it quite a bit. I would write in it on the plane, on the bus, on the beach, on my patio, or in my room, jotting down my impressions of the place, and whatever would come to mind. That night in Havana, between dinner and going to the show at The Tropicana, I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel where we had dinner, listening to a string quartet. That's when I wrote about trying to find the quintessential Canadian song.

My nomination: BTO's "Takin' Care of Business". Sure, my buddies Mike and Greg used to sing it into empty beer bottles in the wee small hours of the morning back in the mid- to late-1970s, or on the hockey bus, so it brings back a lot of good memories (Greg was killed in a car accident 25 years ago last Tuesday -- perhaps another topic for another post on another day). But it still rocks to this day, and deals with the Canadian work ethic ("Get up every morning to the alarm clock's warning..." -- okay, so maybe we could leave out the bit about workin' at nothin' all day).

Anyway, argue for or against my choice, or suggest one of your own.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Happy Canada Boxing Day!

...And a day late, but White Rabbit! White Rabbit! White Rabbit!
Okay, I'll stop infringing on N@'s territory.

So, while I was stuck in my parents' basement creating BigBroBoblog, how did you spend your Canada Day? Truth be told, my parents don't have a basement, and I was actually in my third-floor apartment, an eight-hour drive from their house. Actually, I was rather enjoying a veg-out day, after having worked a lot of overtime the past couple weeks. I've been in downtown Ottawa on other Canada Days. It's an amazing experience to be among the hundreds of thousands of revellers, but the timing this year just wasn't right.

Last year, I worked on Canada Day, producing the 11pm newscast at the TV station where I work (A-Channel Ottawa). It's in the ByWard Market, just east of Parliament Hill. In fact, you go out our front door, look west, and you see the Chateau Laurier a couple hundred yards up the street. The Market was as insane as it is on any day, times about three thousand.

I had a chance to watch the fireworks from our back parking lot, with the Lebanese couple that runs our lunch counter at the station. Toni, the female half of that team, was almost overcome with emotion over how great it is to be Canadian. As the fireworks boomed overhead, she commented that noise like that in Lebanon usually meant someone is shooting at someone else. A great perspective on what it means to be Canadian, and live in the best country in the world.

Next weekend, I join a convoy of vehicles to Timmins, helping Little Bro Dan move up there. He just graduated from college as a paramedic and got a job with the Cochrane district ambulance service. So he returns to where we met 13 years ago this week, when fate brought together a ten-year-old fatherless boy and a 35-year-old TV news anchor. In later posts, I'll wax poetic (or otherwise) on what a great experience it has been. I've never been a dad (I know, JB, not yet) but this has been an amazing substitute.

Have a great rest of the weekend.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Damn you, N@, Ma and JB!

I was being obstinate, not admitting to liking the whole blog thing (still not sure), but a weak moment swept over me, and here I am -- in Blogland!

I blame N@ and Ma Horton -- both of whom I actually know in the real world -- and JB, who I only have the pleasure of knowing in Cyberspace, but who I know I would be great friends with, should we ever actually meet. So, JB, if you're ever in Ottawa or if I'm ever in Hamilton...

Actually, to those three and others who lurk and post on their blogs, I'm better known as Newsguy Bob. But seeing as this is my blog and it will likely delve into other things about me and my life than the Newsguy side of things, I chose to use the name BigBroBob. I am a Big Brother (through the Big Brothers and Sisters organization), and fiercely proud of that status and of my Little Brother -- both of which you're bound to learn plenty about here on BigBroBoblog. So call me Newsguy Bob or BigBroBob, just don't call me late for supper! Nyuk nyuk nyuk. I got a million of 'em -- just ask Little Bro Dan!

So Happy Canada Day, everyone. I welcome your comments and contributions.