No Hippie Reunions & Certainly no Agridome. This Is Not The End, But A New Beginning.

PhilFoster500It seems like a long time ago now.  I got a call from my good friend and mentor John Gardiner telling me he was going to start an online newspaper.  He said something about it being called the Chatham Kent Gazette.  That quickly morphed into something called and the rest as they say is history.

It was an interesting time.  My 1st reaction was one shaking my head.  What was an online newspaper?  Of course I had quite an idea since I was early into the Internet and I could see how the ability to access information online was going to change the game.  However, like many other people I couldn’t quite figure it out.  It had only been what seemed a couple of years since I first showed John what we could do on a computer.  Building an online newspaper seemed so science fiction at the time.

You have to understand how revolutionary John’s idea was at the time.  I remember paying bills on the Internet for the 1st time.  I was told by my bank at one point that I needed to get confirmation that my taxes had been paid.  The only problem was I paid my taxes over the Internet, something almost unheard of at the time.  When I went to the local municipal office to get confirmation that I paid my taxes, they told me they couldn’t help me because they really did know what the Internet was.  Long story short, I somehow got the bank satisfied with my explanation and somebody got confirmation that everything was paid.  Needless to say, when the Internet was born there were many people who didn’t know Al Gore.  My friend John Gardiner was at the forefront of revolution.

Harnessing that revolution was always the great challenge.  We all knew that we were at the reins of a wild bucking bronco but finding a way to turn that into cold hard cash was always a difficult reality. Even today in 2011 many online ventures lose money but for whatever reason are wildly successful.  Twitter is one of those.  In fact a Saudi billionaire invested $300 million into Twitter yesterday.  I guess when you have money to burn; you can do those types of things.

John and I have been friends since 1978.  So that is a long time and you could even make an argument I’ve been friends with John almost longer than anybody else on earth.  We have a long history, forged by mutual respect and a synergy that is very powerful.  I’ve often told John to not worry about me because we are joined at the hip and we understand each other even when we don’t talk.  So over the past 9 years all of my work showed up on John’s desk even when I was on the other side of the earth.  I’m sure John didn’t bat an eye.

On December 12th John announced to columnists that he could no longer operate CKtimes as a business and would be shutting down the paper by Christmas.  He then surprised me by saying that he would keep it going starting January 10, 2012 if there was enough interest.  He also advised us that he would completely understand if we could not go on with what he called the “regular grind of writing.”

That is where I find myself.  Over the last 9 years I have given everything I had to  That involved the writing of this column, East-West and their respective podcasts.  A few years ago I also brought my agricultural commentary to every week.  It meant creating pictures for each column, sometimes editing and creating 3 podcasts each week in addition to a very heavy workload on my ever-expanding farm and in addition to my expanding writing and speaking career outside of it.  In that time I never missed a deadline other than for East-West, where I had to rely on the communication vagaries in Bangladesh.  Sometimes, it was a very exhausting time for me and I know with John ceasing to run as a business, I cannot continue.  It’s been a heck of a ride, but now it’s over.

I can remember writing my column and editing podcasts in several locations around the world.  That’s what John Gardiner meant to me.  Without John’s support throughout my life, my world would be different.  There would be no Rick Fines, no Blues Bands, no Star Trek, no Hanover, no Hippie Reunions, No Glass Onions and certainly no Agridome.  This is not the end, only a new beginning.  John and I, still after all this time, joined at the hip.  Sam would be so proud.