goatee-stroking musing, or something

ephemera: Government of Canada “Action Request” – phone memo slip

Government of Canada - Action Request slip paper, yellow, 100 × 133 mm (form refs: GC 12E, 7540-21-868-3907) c. 1990
Government of Canada – Action Request slip
paper, yellow, 100 × 133 mm
(form refs: GC 12E, 7540-21-868-3907)
c. 1990 (est)

found inside a copy of the “Commodore 64 User’s Guide” bought from JPPBM at World of Commodore 2018.

o canada

The Real Change that Canadians* want

We’ve just had an election in Canada. You probably didn’t know.

The (now) majority Liberal Party of Canada ran a set of 106 issues pages, and their stance on each. Visitors could vote on how they felt on these issues. The overall results aren’t tabulated there yet, so I took the liberty of scraping the data (harder than it looked) and ranked it.

Here are the top ten issues from the website, ranked by popularity:

  1. Marijuana
  2. Guns
  3. Electoral reform
  4. International students and temporary residents
  5. Middle class tax cut
  6. Helping families
  7. Ending unfair tax breaks
  8. Canada Post
  9. Science and scientists
  10. Post-secondary education

I have no idea how objective this information is. I suspect some attempts were made to game the system, looking at the vote counts for the top two.

Here’s the data: liberaldotca-realchange-poll-data-2015-10-20-183923. All the columns after Five Stars were derived by me.

I’m very disappointed that the issue of Missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls wasn’t even in the top twenty. C’mon Canada; for once, don’t let me down.

*: english-speaking Canadians who visited» Real Change and voted on issues there before 2015-10-20 18:39:23 EDT, that is.

goatee-stroking musing, or something

Power, at what price?

It’s the Canadian Electricity Association’s Electricity in Ontario week. Can’t you feel it in the air?  A brochure, snappily titled “ELECTRICITY ARE WE GETTING VALUE FOR THE MONEY WE PAY?” [pdf] was in my dead tree media stack this morning. I think it’s trying to say our power is too cheap, as in this graph yoinked from the text:

powerforthefuture_graphBut as ever, hand-picked statistics only tell half the story. Digging into the IEA Key World Energy Statistics handbooks for 2011 and 2012, the data look something more like this:


2010 Domestic Electricity Price / USD/kWh

2010 Annual Electricity Consumption per capita / kWh

Annual Cost per capita









United Kingdom








United States













So really, because Canadians use such an obscene amount of energy per capita (srsly; we should be ashamed of ourselves), the graph should look more like this:

realchartSo we’re not actually that inexpensive; solidly mid-range. Since our electricity price per kWh is so low, if we spent a little money on energy conservation, we could have really cheap power for everyone.

o canada

Happy Canada Day (HP-GL version)


HP-GL source: canada_flag-hpgl

(Maple leaf derived from Wikimedia Commons’ File:Flag of Canada.svg.)

amateur radio


ICQuestionBank2csv: A tool to extract both the Basic and Advanced Amateur Radio Examination guides from Industry Canada’s rather annoying two-column PDFs. Written for IC’s 2014-02 database updates.

See: Amateur Radio Exam Generator.

Written by Stewart C. Russell (aka scruss) / VA3PID – 2014-03-07.


  • Perl, with Text::CSV_XS
  • xpdf tools
  • Bash
  • wget


Run either or to download the source PDF and extract the data.


WTFPL (srsly).

o canada

Twice the price ain’t twice as nice

HP 35 from $43 HP 35 from $84

computers suck

Canada’s Microwave Links

Canada's Microwave LinksMade using scruss/taflmunge and QGIS.


Canadian Wheat Boards: #1 & #2

Canadian Wheat Board #1
Canadian Wheat Board #2

Organic Canadian wheat on red cedar, beeswax encaustic; 72 × 182 mm.

In the Synthetic History of Canada, there was no symbol more evocative of hearth and home than the wheat board. Reconstructed here by the artist in the traditional materials of cedar [strength], wheat [abundance] and beeswax [cohesion], the wheat board is a forgotten part of Canadian lore. Its rediscovery as a domestic art form brings new hope of a progressive national identity.

o canada

Ten years in Canada

A decade ago today, Catherine and I landed in our adopted home. There was snow on the ground. Late in the day, we checked into the Holiday Inn at Martin Grove and Dixon. We hadn’t brought clothes for snow.

The next day we went to stay at the meeting house. The day after I braved slush and the Warden bus for a job interview at Warden and Alden in Markham. There were still farms at Warden and Steeles.

Until we moved in here in late June, we house sat, couch-surfed, whatever you want to call it. We relied so much upon the kindness of then-strangers. So thank you to: Don and all the Bowyers, Jane Orion, Brett & Nancy, Lynn & Tam, Brydon & René; to Les for the first job at Gandalf, to Dave and the TREC crew for being there at the start of a new industry.

I didn’t blog back then, kept no journal, and took few photographs. The first few years were tough — early 2003 might be a special low point, with a bitter winter, a dreadful job and a flooded basement. Every tiny detail of the immigration process seemed so important at the time, but now barely registers. Getting a SIN card up on St Clair? Biggest deal ever, then.

So, thanks to everyone, here’s home now. I think it was the right move.

Wind Things

“woohoo, we’re #5!!!”

Poor nuclear power just can’t catch a break. The Canadian Nuclear Association commissioned a cross-Canada attitude survey, and — well, I guess people like nuclear power slightly more than coal, but worse than everything else. Which sucks to be nuclear, I suppose.

o canada

Only in Canada …

Pink Snow in June
Pink Snow in June

A pile of candy-coloured snow on a hot day in June is no surprise to many Canadians. The photo location may help those outside the country, though it helps to know what a “community recreation centre” is.


the old country

it looks like Scotland’s sneezing …

I think that needs to work on its tracing of the UK.


choons computers suck

emusic canada changes its pricing

What with the sad loss of Wild East Compact Sounds this summer, my sources of music are now limited. eMusic, bless ’em, have been my source of indie stuff since about 2003. They were cheap, had a fixed price per download, and carried a raft of indie stuff and no major label tat.

Not much longer; got this in my inbox:

So, yeah, the full announcement: major label content, minimum 49¢/track, and variable pricing. Exactly all the reasons I wouldn’t want to use them. Good call, eMusic, for a battered-about subscriber since 2003.

I was initially confused by the pricing. I pay 36¢/track, so I couldn’t see how their promise that “your monthly payments will not change and you will still be able to download the same number of tracks available today, if not more, depending upon your current plan“. Then I see their new menu:

So basically they’re crediting me with a fake $4.48 a month (oh wait; “30 days”, not a month; they so want you to forget to download stuff by making the cycle date change) so I can still get my 35 downloads. Since they hint that there will now be variable pricing, I’ll bet the new stuff will be >49¢, so I really won’t be able to download as many per month after all.

They’re saying that the new pricing will allow them to do a bunch of fun stuff:

We’re also committed to making eMusic a better member experience. We recently rolled out improvements to Browse and Search pages. And we’re hard at work on a host of new features and enhancements including a music locker, which should allow you to stream your music collection from any desktop or mobile device. In addition, improvements to eMusic’s social features, to better connect you with our editors, other members, artists, labels and your friends, are also in the works. We’ve sketched out an ambitious slate, and it will take a little while to get there. We hope you’ll continue on the journey with us.

I don’t want all that social fluff. The MP3s work just fine on any mobile device, so streaming them just adds more crud. I want fixed price downloads, not some half-assed music locker. Where, oh where is Frank Hecker and swindleeeee when you need them?

computers suck o canada

… we stand in line for thee

A little bit of silliness for Thanksgiving:

This took almost no time to put together. The “speaker” is a Tim Hortons cup with a cheap piezo glued to the base. What makes the Arduino sing is the Tone Library running its RTTTL demo sketch, with the anthem itself pasted in from a rather old Nokia Ringtones library.

Update: Here’s the code, such as it is. It’s just the Tone/examples/RTTTL code with the tune data pasted in. I’d been programming Arduino for about a year, so that was a semi-major achievement for me:

It’s nice to revisit old code and find it was written by a friend, Brett Hagman of Rogue Robotics.

goatee-stroking musing, or something

How Ink Is Made

How Ink Is Made, from The Printing Ink Company, Rycoline Inc.



unfortunately, he knows where I live, too …

Dr. Friendly Rich knows my name.

computers suck o canada

Netflix vs

So, Netflix Canada launched today. As a (fairly) loyal subscriber, I was worried, but to be honest, I can do without putting DVDs in the mail every week. Since we can watch Netflix on the Wii, I thought I’d sign up for a trial month.

I tried to find things I’d want to see. Netflix is drawing blanks. I took my list of 30 movies I have queued at Zip to see how they compare. It’s not so good:

# Title Netflix
1 A Single Man
2 The Dish
3 Becoming Jane
4 October Sky
5 Playtime
6 The Commitments
7 The Cove
8 Storytelling
9 Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back
10 Princess Mononoke
11 Kiki’s Delivery Service
12 Whisper of the Heart
13 Salesman
14 Festival Express
15 Fat Girl (A ma soeur!)
16 Adam
17 Micmacs (Micmacs à tire-larigot)
18 A Chorus Line
19 This is England
20 Crumb
21 The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection
22 Old-Time Banjo Styles
23 Learning Mountain Dulcimer
24 Animation Greats!
25 Black Cat, White Cat
26 Northfork
27 Leningrad Cowboys: Total Balalaika Show
28 The Turning Point
29 Winter’s Bone
30 Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

Available 70% 7%

The unavailable titles at Zip are ones they know about, and will try to find. Not surprisingly, all of them are also not available from Netflix. The only ones I could watch at Netflix are October Sky and This Is England. And would you credit it, but didn’t the DVD for October Sky just arrive yesterday …

Look, I know it’s early days, but Netflix needs to get a bunch better in the next 30 days. Oh, and it could do with some CanCon – it’s very weak there.

computers suck

what NBC sounds like in canada

This is what NBC sounds like in Canada. I guess it’s okay to have a message, but no need to get all Yankee Hotel Foxtrot about it. I snipped off the obnoxious taco ads; NBC is so ad-infested that they have to wedge them in their videos.

I was trying to watch a Molly Lewis video, but it failed. Guess they forgot the WW in the web …

bike stuff photo

Canada Day softball

On Canada Day, I rigged up my bicycle with a camera set to take a picture every 20 seconds, and a GPS to track my location. I had no control over when the camera would fire as I rode round the neighbourhood. Out of the 150+ photos it took, this one from Jack Goodlad park came out quite well:
The rest of the pictures are here: My Neighbourhood, Canada Day 2010 « Numpty’s Progress

computers suck o canada

Canadian Comedy Central

I don’t know why people keep banging on about how funny Comedy Central is, because whenever they embed a video, this is what I get:

Am I missing something? Is it the new, newer universal punchline? Something like:

1: My dog’s got no nose.

2: How does he smell?

1: In Canada, Comedy Central Videos are available on The Comedy Network.


Q: What’s yellow and deadly?

A: In Canada, Comedy Central Videos are available on The Comedy Network.