Remembering my brother Brian

            Eleven years ago today, my younger brother Brian died in a snowmobile accident at the heart-breaking age of 29. It was, in every respect, a ridiculous waste – just a stupid fluke that ended his life and changed the lives of many others.

 BRian played lots of sports. Here he's pitching for Oshawa vs. peterborough

BRian played lots of sports. Here he's pitching for Oshawa vs. peterborough

            Every March 2, I wear the orange wrist band his friends created to help remember him. I wear it until April 21, his birthday. Then I put it away until the following March, letting my memories fade to some degree as I get on with life – experiencing the joys and pains of living that he missed out on. It’s kind of like lapping him on the track of life.

            The only consolation is that Brian packed a hell of a lot into his 29 years, doing things he loved and making scores of friends along the way. But he was just getting started. He was a technology savant, working with bands in recording studios and at live shows. I often wonder what he would make of all the technology that’s arrived since he left us.

            Buried deep in my basement, I have a box of cables I somehow inherited from him. At the time, they were the best available, cutting-edge tools to transport sound and light. Today they have no use. But I’ve never once considered getting rid of them. I have to pull the box out every December to get at other boxes full of Christmas decorations and detritus. They represent a moment in time, a moment when Brian was still an active part of my life, when he was crisscrossing the country using cables like those to do his work.

            It was during a work trip out west when he died. On their day off, he and two friends were snowmobiling when he hit a ditch and was thrown from the machine. There was nothing his friends could do, short of witnessing the moment and then recounting it many times in the following weeks for everyone who knew and loved Brian.

            I woke up this morning and thought of Brian as I pulled the orange wrist band from its drawer. I’ll think of him a lot until his birthday – a celebration he no longer gets to enjoy.

On turning 50 & a great music jam birthday party #LdnOnt #MusicJam50

            What’s the No. 1 thing anyone could want for his 50th birthday? Let’s take good health off the table because, of course, that trumps a lot of other wishes. Assuming you’re healthy, the best gift, of course, is friendship.

            Ya, it’s corny and sappy and treacly. But it’s also absolutely true. You want to celebrate in some fashion with friends – especially if it’s a ‘milestone’ birthday like 50.

 Alex Moir kicks things off with his sweet Martin acoustic guitar

Alex Moir kicks things off with his sweet Martin acoustic guitar

            Maybe you’ve already guessed I turned 50 this month. It’s easy to spend a lot of time considering the meaning of your 50 years on earth. But fixating on an arbitrary round number reminds me of all the reflection people undertake at New Year’s, much of it a distant memory by the second weekend in January.

            For most of 2015, when people discovered I was turning 50 this year, they wanted to know what I had planned, how I would mark the occasion. For much of the year, I ignored the question and gave it little thought.

            When an almost 10-year relationship ended in the spring and I was single again, the prospects – to be honest – didn’t feel all that promising. But that’s where this whole friendship thing kicked in.

            Having dinner one night with my tennis pals, someone suggested we organize a music jam for my birthday. It wasn’t just someone who suggested it, but rather Elise Sedgwick, wife of Rick Sedgwick, guitar savant and all-round good dude. Rick plays in a band called Accrued Interest. The name is a nod to the fact that most of the members work in the financial investment world.

            I’ve heard them several times and played with them a couple of times, when their regular drummer was unavailable for practice.

            I loved the idea of a music jam, the kind of thing that happens organically at clubs and in movies all the time – a bunch of friends get together and start playing. Others join in, singing, playing instruments, whatever. It seemed like the perfect way to celebrate.

            So we made tentative plans to do something in December. And that was all we did for most of the summer. By late August, a few things were happening. I booked the big room at the London Music Club. Owner Pete Denomme is a mensch who moved his regular Thursday jam to the basement of the club to give us the largest space: capacity 130.

            Booking the room was rather easy. Organizing the music was just a smidge more challenging. And, as I later found out, Rick was literally losing sleep in August wondering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into. I was blissfully unaware of his concerns, confident everything would fall into place. As it turns out, it takes a lot of planning to have a spontaneous music jam.

            Rick and I both pulled in some friends who could play or sing and wanted to get up on stage and perform. Some of them had done it before; others had not.

Angela Desjardins belts it out

            We started practising in October – always at Bill Smyrnios’ home -- working on a hodgepodge list of songs some of us knew or had always wanted to play. We added pieces as we went along, and by mid-November we had a dozen songs nearly ready for public consumption. Then we added another singer and more songs. Then a couple of the Accrued Interest guys dropped in to bolster the whole thing. We had as many as 10 people involved in some songs.

            We practised once or twice a week for a month, and it was a blast every single time. Sometimes it went so well we were ready to start planning the tour schedule. Sometimes it went so badly we wondered if we had ever practised before. We were playing Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Sweet Home Chicago, Time Warp, Born to be Wild, Heartbreaker, Hit the Road Jack and several more.

            As Dec. 10 approached, we got more serious, as in people started bringing beer to practices and we (and by we, I mean Bill) created a set list. We had 14 songs ready to go.

            We set up at the Music Club in the afternoon and ran through a few songs. The empty hall offered no feedback, acoustic or otherwise. We kicked things off at 8:00 with a fantastic performance by my friend Alex Moir on his acoustic guitar. He came from Windsor to get things started and sounded great.

Drum solo on Moby Dick. Thanks to Rick Sedgwick on guitar. Thanks to cymbal for blocking my face.

            Then it was time for us to go up and do our set. It was a hoot. The place was packed with 130+ people, the drinks were flowing and we played everything more or less as we had practised it. The final song in our set was Moby Dick, an opportunity Rick offered for me to play a birthday drum solo. He played the intro of the Led Zeppelin song, and I did some kind of solo that felt like it lasted 30 seconds but came in around three minutes. At the half-way point, the nut on the top of a cymbal went flying, prompting one of our fabulous singers, Terri Hayes, to launch a fruitless search for it while I continued playing.

            And then, just when I was trying to figure out when to wrap things up, a drumstick flew out of my left hand. I took that as a sign to get out. The solo wasn’t perfect, but like the whole evening it was a thrill because so many friends, and friends of friends, were there.

            Following our set, Accrued Interest played a dozen of their favorites, including kickass versions of Sweet Mountain River by Monster Truck and El Scorcho by Weezer.

            There was no better way to celebrate a birthday, and I am grateful to friends new and old who came out that night.

                                                                                      

More on @Diply cover story in Dec. @BizLondon magazine

IMG_20151204_083220.jpg

The first reporting job I ever got was at the grandly named Canadian Statesman newspaper, a family-owned weekly paper in Bowmanville, Ontario. When I got there in 1988, it already had been serving the community for more than 100 years, providing local news every Wednesday.

            As the previous century ended, the James family sold the paper to Metroland Printing, part of the TorStar empire. And in 2007, Metroland killed the paper, folding it into a tabloid weekly that covered a larger geographic region.

            I only worked at the Statesman for a year, but I learned 10 times more in that year than in the year I subsequently spent getting my Masters degree in Journalism. Don’t misunderstand: I learned a lot at the Western j-school. It’s just that I learned a whole lot more during my year in Bowmanville.

            The paper had a staff of two reporters and one editor. Together we covered local council, school boards, service clubs and sports. We took black-and-white photos with manually operated SLR cameras and developed the film in the tiny darkroom next to the tiny newsroom.

            On Wednesdays, everyone in the building – about 20 people in all – schlepped back to the printing press where that week’s newspaper came rolling off the press. Our job was simply to stack up bundles of 25 papers, run them through the machine that tied them up and load them on the truck for delivery.

            As romantic as handling the papers was at first, I quickly learned to schedule assignments and interviews for Wednesday afternoons to avoid the only physical labour involved in my first real, full-time job.

            I thought about the Statesman recently when I was working on this month’s Business London cover story. It’s about a London news organization with infinitely more reach than my beloved Statesman ever had, more too I imagine than this city’s daily newspaper, the London Free Press has.

            Diply.com is a web-based purveyor of news geared to millennials around the world. If you’ve seen Buzzfeed, you have a good idea of what Diply looks like. It looks gorgeous and draws in readers with a cornucopia of entertaining, whacky, silly and occasionally serious stories, lists, photos and videos.

            Last month, it attracted 110-million unique visitors who dialed up 770-million page views. So it’s numbers are pretty close to Business London or this website – if you move the decimal place over a few spots.

            The Diply operation is a rabbit warren of eager young writers, editors and designers who product oodles of unique content every single day. The goal is always to go viral and attract an ever-growing tally of eyeballs. They can come from anywhere in the world. In fact, only six per cent of readers are in Canada. Almost half are in the U.S., and the company is set to open offices in New York and L.A. in 2016 to pursue the American market further.

            It also has an office in Morocco and targets no less than the world in its search for readers. Marshall McLuhan would be impressed.

            Operating since 2013, it has 100 employees.

            Make no mistake. It’s not the New York Times or Globe and Mail. It’s not even the London Free Press or Canadian Statesman. But like newspapers of yesterday and today, Diply is focused on serving its readers – providing them with content that brings them back regularly. Hard core fans sign up as members and can post their own content, squaring the circle of social media.

            If you ignore the content, the place looks a lot like a newspaper did 20 years ago – a hustling, bustling newsroom full of people producing copy for the latest issue. The scale has changed. Certainly the topics and writing approach has changed. But the central mandate to deliver hordes of readers to paying advertisers has changed very little. Read more in this month’s Business London

More on Tribe Medical @BizLondon cover story #LdnOnt

Hands up if you’ve ever heard of the Tribe Medical Group. No? How about Arthrex Inc.? OK, never mind.

            Although few people in London and Southwestern Ontario have heard of either company, there’s a very good chance many of them have used the companies’ products. Some are walking around with them every day, following arthroscopic or orthopaedic surgeries.

            Thousands of people have pins, rods, joints and other items in their bodies, giving them relief from pain and something approaching full range of motion. Florida-based Arthrex makes the devices, and London-based Tribe sells them across Canada.

            Surgeons in all parts of the country depend on Tribe to deliver the specialized devices and products they need to perform surgery on their patients. As you can read in my cover story for this month’s Business London magazine, it’s a role Tribe takes very seriously. Since 2008, the company has grown impressively and now employs 80 people.

             With sales this year of about $36-million, it’s still a bit of a niche. But co-founder and president Gordon McArthur is perfectly happy with that. He wants the company to continue offering specialized and personal service to its customers – a few hundred surgeons scattered across Canada.

            “Arthrex sells about $2-billion every year. We’re a tiny part of that. We have a great relationship with them, but they mostly just leave us alone and let us do our thing,” he says.

            Arthrex is privately held by its founder and contracts with companies like Tribe to sell its products worldwide. Tribe trains its own sales force with an intensive six-month intern program and never stops stressing the importance of helping surgeons help their patients.

            It’s one thing to emphasize customer service if you’re a craft beer rep making sure an independent bar gets exactly what it needs on hot summer weekend. The stakes are slightly higher when a surgeon is counting on her rep to deliver a new hip or knee joint going into a patient first thing Monday morning.

            Tribe stocks about 4,500 products and has access to thousands more, including tissue and organs from a separate supplier.

             Because it specializes in sports injury repairs and minimally invasive surgeries, it would be hyperbole to say Tribe is in the business of saving lives. But it’s absolutely true to say it’s in the business of improving the quality of life for thousands of people every year. The fact that few of those people have ever heard of Tribe doesn’t make it any less true. 

#WhatWeDidOnOurHoliday is movie perfection. Well done @BBCFilms

It’s tempting to say What We Did On Our Holiday is the perfect movie. In truth, though, it’s only perfect for certain segments of society.

If you’re a parent or a grandparent, if you’ve ever fallen in love or had your heart broken, if you’ve been married, or married and divorced, if you have complicated relationships with siblings, or if someone close to you has died, well then this movie is for you.

If not, you’ve led a spectacularly uninteresting life and this story is not for you.

Released last year in the U.K. and this summer in North America, What We Did On Our Holiday centres on the relationship of three young children and their cancer-stricken grandfather, played by Billy Connolly. Yes, that Billy Connolly, doing what Billy Connolly always does.

He is exactly the kind of wise old Scottish smartass that you’d expect. But in this setting, it’s perfect. He represents what grandfathers often are to their young grandchildren: fun-loving, rule-breaking founts of joy and irreverence. When he tells the three youngsters that he’s a descendent of Vikings and wants a proper Viking funeral, the kids soak up every word, including the fictional bits about how Vikings memorialized their dead.

When the kids follow his wishes, the reaction of their parents is, by turns, predictable, depressing and hilarious. The chaos that ensues shreds the veneer all the adults have been fighting so hard to maintain, a veneer covering infidelity, divorce, depression and the common neuroses every family faces at various times.

It falls to the children to teach the adults around them what really matters – lessons learned from their grandfather. That they miss the nuances of many situations and forge ahead with innocent determination only concentrates the point that much of what we spend our time worrying about is meaningless.

The children carry the movie and deliver most of its best lines. Let’s face it, little kids with British accents delivering non-sequiturs and unfiltered observations are very funny. Their parents, played by Rosamund Pike and David Tennant, represent flawed parents everywhere.

With potential clichés lurking at every turn, the film steers a refreshing course, dabbling, but never drowning, in sentimentality, and wrapping up in an uplifting but realistic conclusion, rather than a saccharine happy ending.

Perfect.

More on my @CityMatchLdn @BizLondon cover story #LdnOnt

            I’ve never been wooed. Professionally, that is. So I can only imagine the kinds of discussions that occur when a company desperately wants someone to pack up his or her family and come to London to fill a key role.

            (One thing we know from the magnificent new Pixar creation, Inside Out, is the kids will struggle mightily with their emotions when the family relocates, but that’s a topic for another blog entry. Suffice to say: Inside Out is terrific. Your kids should see it. You should see it. It will be nominated by the Oscar folks not just for best animated film, but for best film, period.)

            Back to being wooed. And again, I mean professionally.

            One of the challenges London companies face when bringing talent here is that no one outside shouting distance of Andy Oudman knows very much about London. What those companies need is someone connected to all parts of the city -- an unofficial ambassador of sorts, a community concierge if you will -- to introduce London to the Wooed and the Wooed to London.

            That’s where Jodi Simpson comes in. As you can read about in this month’s Business London magazine, Simpson recently launched CityMatch, a service designed to help the Wooed and their families integrate smoothly with the city and everything it has to offer, even if those offerings aren’t obvious or widely understood.

            For a flat rate of $4,800, paid by the recruiting company, she takes the incoming family under her wing, meeting them at the airport if appropriate, and introduces them to the city, in much the same way the best teachers you ever had opened your eyes to a new subject.

            Our own love or hatred of a given subject – history or Shakespeare perhaps – often can be traced directly to the first high school teacher who introduced us to the topic. That teacher either lit or doused our nascent interest, depending on her level of enthusiasm and creativity.

            In a similar way, Simpson will be the teacher who introduces professionals and their families to their new home of London, Ont. Her enthusiasm for the city is unparalleled. In fact, part of the reason she started the business was to contribute something to the city.

            Before she was director of marketing at Harrison Pensa, she was director of programs at TechAlliance. There she saw how difficult it can be for technology companies to attract and retain talent. It’s not just tech companies either. Lots of companies struggle to fill specific posts and lament the loss of key people whose abilities inevitably draw attention from companies around the world.

            If CityMatch pans out the way she hopes, Simpson will be a valuable resource for those companies in their ongoing struggle to find and retain the very best employees -- those who know what it’s like to be wooed. Professionally, that is. 

I don't care what you think about the weather #LdnOnt

            I was standing in line today at my favourite small grocer, @Remark_London, and overheard a conversation about the weather. That’s hardly surprising, given how much time Canadians spend talking about the topic.

            The gist of the conversation was that person A felt the spring and early summer have been too wet, while person B enjoys rain and spent some time this very morning walking in said rainfall.

            OK, good to know. Thanks.

            As Derek Smalls asks in This is Spinal Tap, “Can I raise a practical question at this point?”

            Who cares? Who honestly cares whether Person A or Person B is happy or unhappy with the general state of the weather today, this week, this month or ever?

            Let’s stipulate that everyone has a weather zone he or she considers perfect. Some like heat; others don’t. Some crave humidity; others don’t. Some enjoy a crisp winter’s day while others would rather stay inside from December to March.

            There are more than seven billion people on earth and more than seven billion opinions on what the perfect weather conditions are. Who damn well cares?

            As climate change is demonstrating every day, we humans cannot dictate what type of weather we want. We simply react to what comes, sometimes very well and sometimes so inadequately that people suffer and die. Until there comes a time when we can tap an app on our smart phones and dial up the weather conditions we want for a particular day, there’s no point in discussing whether we are happy or sad about the weather around us that day.

            There’s general agreement that hurricanes, blizzards and tornadoes are lousy weather conditions. Besides that, there will always be someone happy with the weather and someone else, standing three feet away, who is unhappy with the very same weather.

            Go ahead and talk about the forecast -- about frost that might kill the tomatoes or snow that’s going to close the highway. That’s good to know.

            What isn’t good to know or hear is the categorization of the weather as good or bad, filtered through your prism of weather perfection. Please shut up. No one cares and it just doesn’t matter. 

Thanks for everything Dave @Letterman @ByeLetterman #ThanksDave

It’s been more than a year since David Letterman announced he would retire sometime in 2015. We’ve known today, May 20, would be the last day since December. Either way you cut it, that’s a long time to prepare for something, but nevertheless, as I wait for tonight’s final show, it seems like it all happened in a few short weeks.

            My DVR is jammed with dozens of recent shows. I’ve read everything I can find from smart critics and observers about Letterman’s legacy. I’ve spent more time on YouTube than the proud owners of a piano-playing cat. In short, I’m trying to soak in as much as I can before Letterman leaves my TV screen forever.

            There’s no shortage of articles and reminiscences about what Letterman has meant to his fans. Like millions of others, I started watching Late Night in high school, rarely lasting until the show ended at 1:30, but reveling in the first 30 minutes when most of the absurdist jokes, stunts and inventions came pouring out of the show at a breathtaking rate.

            If it seemed the pace of brilliance was unsustainable, well, it turned out to be exactly that. In recent years, the Late Show has been less irreverent, less absurd. And yet, as I watch the endless compilations of highlights, I’m reminded that much of what made NBC’s Late Night great transferred very nicely to CBS’s Late Show. Bits came and went, the Jimmys started playing beer pong and charades with their celebrity guests, and Jay Leno plodded along, winning the ratings race. But Letterman’s brilliance never faded.

            Yes, he mellowed after his heart surgery and the birth of his son. The man is 68, so it’s hardly surprising that his sensibilities and interests might have changed from the early days when he was in his mid-30s. What never changed, however, was the deep well of quips and reactions he delivered in any situation. Sure, his writers prepared some great lines for him, but his ability to say something funny in any circumstance, with pitch-perfect timing was and is unrivalled.

            The great Tom Shales, a Pulitzer-prize winning TV critic at the Washington Post for roughly as many years as Letterman was on the air, said exactly what I’ve been thinking for years. From time to time, I would record one of the Jimmys, or Seth, or Craig or, now, James. But that decision was based on what guests were scheduled to appear, what musician was playing to close the show.

 So long Dave 

            With Dave, it was different. He was his own best guest, Shales noted. It didn’t matter who was coming on with him, I wanted to see Dave every night and that’s why I watched. It’s why I watched for 33 years, and it’s why I’m going to miss him so very much. 

More on @BizLondon May cover @EllipsisDigital #LondonRoundhouse #LdnOnt

            Early in 2013, my daughter Emily was applying to universities and had to submit a series of photos in support of her application to the fine arts program at Ryerson in Toronto. The photos had to represent a theme, and she chose urban decay.

            I had just bought a new camera, so we set out together, cameras in hand, to see what we could find in downtown London. We spent most of a January Saturday tooling around exploring.

            Late in the afternoon, we stumbled across the former Great West Steak House on Horton Street. It was one ugly building -- exactly what we were looking for to demonstrate urban decay. Boarded up since 2007, it offered no clues to its fascinating past and certainly not to the renaissance it would enjoy in the spring of 2015, when hundreds of people would flock to an open house to celebrate the building’s restoration.

             As you can read about in this month’s Business London cover story, beautifully illustrated by Steve Martin’s photos, the building had been a railroad roundhouse, an architectural wonder constructed in 1887 by Michigan Central Rail to service and store hulking steam locomotives that were nearly impossible to move in reverse. The roundhouse was built around a giant turntable, allowing up to six locomotives to be turned and shunted off into service bays as required.

            When it was no longer used for its intended purpose, the roundhouse went through a number of owners and uses, culminating with the Great West Steak House, which hid the glories of the building not so much under a bushel basket but under tons of wood panels, drywall and other detritus. 

            Underneath, however, the building always had good bones. That’s what interested the co-owners of Creative Property Development when they bought the property, along with 23 other properties in the SoHo (South of Horton) area. Patrick John Ambrogio and Slavko Prtenjaca met while attending Central high school, and slowly created their company without relying on any equity partners. They have a bunch of rental space on Richmond Row, but their SoHo developments take most of their time and energy.

            They love the area and are committed to restoring it, using Toronto’s high-tech Liberty Village as a template. Already SoHo has attracted a variety of creative and tech firms, most in buildings Creative Property has renovated. The London Roundhouse is the largest project of all, however. The multi-stage project will cost the partners something north of $10-million. And they’ve proposed a commercial and residential tower as the final phase at a cost of $45-million.

            The key to developing the 5,500 square feet in the Roundhouse itself was finding the right tenant. Ellipsis Digital and its sister company, Engine SevenFour, were the ideal match. Operating as rtraction when they toured the building in 2013, the three partners signed up eagerly. It might have helped that they didn’t know the extent of what they were getting into, but now that it’s complete, they are thrilled with their decision.

            Sure, the project can be called a renovation. But that word suggests some new paint here, crown molding there, maybe a new countertop and appliances. The Roundhouse project is better described as a rebuild: Besides the majestic beams holding the place up, virtually everything else is new. It took a year longer than planned, but it looks fantastic.

            The larger project will continue for several years, initially adding more office space in a circle around the Roundhouse itself. Among the new tenants scheduled for 2016 is Royal LePage Triland Real Estate, led by two of the most pleasant men in real estate: Peter Hoffman and Peter Meyer.

            The final phase might be more of a dream than reality at the moment. Given the timetable for phase one, it’s tough to believe a 15-25 storey tower will be up by 2020. If it’s even approved by then, it will be impressive.

            In the meantime, the Roundhouse stands as testament to what passion and determination can deliver. Congratulations to everyone involved. 

 The finished product: London's most beautiful office space

The finished product: London's most beautiful office space

 

 

More on @BizLondon #FortuneMinerals February cover story #LdnOnt

It takes some gumption to start a mining company in your London, Ont. basement and name it Fortune Minerals.

            Presumably, the name refers to the fortune such a company some day would deliver to its employees and shareholders. Or perhaps Robin Goad chose the name because he knew he would need a serious dose of good fortune to make his fledgling venture a success. Either way, Goad created Fortune Minerals in 1988 and took it public the following year, peddling over-the-counter penny stocks and working part-time as a mining consultant to cover some of the costs of his new business.

            In 1996, Fortune discovered deposits of gold, copper, cobalt and bismuth not far from Yellowknife in the NWT. As you can read in this month’s Business London cover story, the company has been working to mine the area ever since. There’s reason to believe it could start extracting minerals by 2016, two decades after making the original find. Mining is not a industry for the impatient.

            In the mid-90s, the copper and gold might have been the headline from the discovery. But since then, the world has changed. Lead is now a four-letter word, drummed out of paint, pipes and water supplies, by law and moral suasion, around the world. And it just so happens bismuth is an ideal substitute for lead in a variety of industrial applications -- without any of the health concerns. Bingo. Fortune’s NWT mine has 12 per cent of the world’s known bismuth reserves.

            How about cobalt? Would you believe it’s a primary ingredient in the ultra-sophisticated lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride batteries that power so much of the developed world every day? Cordless appliances and tools; smart phones, laptops and tablets; electric cars and so much more.

            Even though a barrel of oil costs about the same as a barrel of monkeys right now, Tesla is going ahead with a $5-billion lithium-ion battery plant in Nevada. It won’t take a Keystone pipeline to get the cobalt – which will be processed at a Fortune facility near Saskatoon – to the Nevada desert facility.

            When Fortune made its original find, no one had heard of Elon Musk and his quixotic Tesla Motors, the company leading the world toward a future of electric cars that people actually want to drive.

            Fortune appears to be well situated. But it’s still waiting to sell its first ounce of bismuth or cobalt to anyone. So last year, it made a huge strategic move and purchased an operating silver mine in Colorado. More than tripling its workforce, it instantly became a producing mine, rather than simply a speculative one. Only trouble is the price of silver, like all commodities, has plummeted in the last four months. Oh, and the mine turned out to be a bit of a fixer-upper. So it hasn’t provided any net revenue as yet. “But it will within the next month or so,” says Goad.

            If it does, and if the bismuth and cobalt start flowing in the next 24 months, the name of Goad’s company might well suit it. If not? Well, the company has another mine site in B.C., where it has rare anthracite coal. But that is going to take even longer to develop.

            And so goes the mining industry. Years of hope and despair, punctuated by stunning success and crushing defeats. Fortune is poised for one of the former. And in mining terms, it could happen any day now.