Sunday, June 28, 2009

Even Odds?

I spend a couple of bucks a week on Western 6/49 lottery tickets. For a dollar you get two lines of six numbers. One is always a "quick pick" by the lotto machine. I bought my ticket for the Wednesday draw today and the quick pick numbers were amusing. They were all multiples of 2: 4, 8, 20, 22, 34, 40. In theory this number combo is just as likely as any other to win the main prize, but I sometimes wonder if such a combination was drawn if WCLC wouldn't do a redraw because people might not believe those numbers were drawn legitimately. Of course if this does turn out to be a winning group of numbers I may be sorry about revealing them here if a visitor decides to try them as well.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gas In Saskatoon, June 26, 2009.

Although a holiday week is coming up the price of gas actually dropped this week. Gas in Saskatoon is now 105.9 cents a litre.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Necessary Evil.

Major League Baseball interleague play has proven controversial since its introduction in 1997. I like it, but it does mean having to do things you don't like, such as hoping the Atlanta Braves win tonight, since they're playing the Yankees. Otherwise I'd be cheering for the Braves to lose given such silliness as the Tomahawk Chop.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wee Hours.

Anyone who looks at the time stamp for this post will wonder what I was doing up so early. Dropping my parents off at the airport is the answer. They're taking a short trip to visit my brother in BC. Their flight is at 5:30 AM, so I was up just before 4 to drive them out there. It's actually foggy this morning. In this part of the world at this time of year the Sun starts to rise at about 4:30 AM, so it's much brighter out than you might expect from the early hour. Fortunately I was more than awake driving back from the airport, as a black cat ran across the road on 45th Street and I might have run him over if I wasn't.

One thing I will do is be lazy and not put any tags to this post. It's too early in the morning to think any up.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Be Aware And Beware!

Apparently the British Homeopathic Association has decided that this week is Homeopathy Awareness Week. I'm afraid they won't appreciate me making you aware, if you didn't know already, that homeopathy is a load of nonsense. Homeopathic preparations are nothing but water or alcohol. There is no active ingredient. None. They are made by taking a substance and diluting it over and over again until there is no actual material left. In other words if you are buying a homeopathic product you are paying for useless liquid. You could get the same effect from drinking a normal glass of tap water. All taking such a preparation does is delay your going to see a doctor or other medical service provider who can actually help you.

Just say no to homeopathy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Stakes Are Tiny.

Amazing. Or is ridiculous better? Having won 40 cents in a Pokerstars tournement today I decided to spend 10 cents on what I thought was their cheapest sit and go. Much to my surprise I found out that 10 cents isn't the bottom anymore. Now they have a 1 cent sit and go. 1 cent. Talk about tiny! Of course it does have 990 players, it's a hyper turbo with 3 minute blind levels, 500 chip starting stacks and 10 players per table. In other words pretty much pure insanity. I can't imagine anyone having a smaller entry fee, but then again I never would have imagined a 1 cent tournament.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pair Of Jacks.

Grabbing a couple of CDs to listen to as I sit here I ended up with two ECM examples featuring Jack DeJohnette. First was Gateway, with Dave Holland and John Abercrombie. The opener, Dave Holland's "Backwoods Song," is my favourite on the album. The other was the self-titled Terje Rypdal, Miroslav Vitous, Jack DeJohnette. I didn't deliberately set out to do that, but that's the way it went.

Gas In Saskatoon, June 12, 2009.

No snappy comments this time. Gas in Saskatoon is currently 108.9 cents a litre.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Gosselins And The Tabloids.

Yes, dear reader, even here you must be subjected to more Jon and Kate(or should that be Jonandkate?) if only so I can riff on the tabloids and other entertainment media. If you don't know who I'm talking about, don't worry, and be very grateful you don't.

Standing in line to buy a snack this morning I was assaulted with several covers featuring the couple, including a tabloid headline featuring Kate Gosselin's supposed ex-fiance and the dirt he would dish within. Frankly before this is over I expect everyone she's ever so much as looked at wrong to be interviewed, including the poor 7/11 clerk she didn't thank promptly enough when she was ten. After all she has tended to be portrayed as the villain in the whole piece as this nonsense has built up. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see some of the following headlines on the tabs in fairly short order:

KATE KILLED JFK! New Book Says She Was The Grassy Knoll Shooter.

BIGFOOT IS THE SEXTUPLET'S DADDY! Kate's Tearful Confession To Jon.

DID ET IMPREGNATE KATE? The Shocking Evidence!

KATE DUMPS JON FOR OCTOMOM! Their Lesbian Wedding Plans!


JON'S MOM IS AN ILLEGAL ALIEN! Is He Really An American?

The scary thing is the JFK headline is the only one that's really unbelieveable as a tabloid headline, and frankly I wouldn't put it past the rags not to use it.

Out of the whole family it must be hardest on the oldest girls, who are nine. They can read and are no doubt old enough to understand what some of the more outlandish claims floating around mean. Unfortunately it's likely to get worse before the tabloids finally get tired of the whole thing and move on to someone else.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spreading The Stupid.


When I sat down on the bus this afternoon I noticed the above scrawled on the panel ahead of me. I wrote the URL down, and then decided I might as well snap a picture while I was at it. Seeing the name I was suspicious it might be an extreme right website. It isn't, just another example of more general paranoid nonsense. There's the typical for the times nonsense about 911 conspiracies and free energy. They also believe in what I consider one of the more stupid conspiracy theories currently going, chemtrails, the idea that the evil whoevers are engaged in some secret scheme involving aircraft sprayed chemicals. Chemicals that they are apparently so stupid as to spray in daylight in such a way as they create giant, easily visible contrails of evil. They of course also have links to various other sources of this kind of garbage such as British nutbar David Icke.

Unfortunately a bunch of stupid people fall for this load of bullshit regularly. Too bad some dumb Saskatoon kid stumbled across this crap and fell for it, and might very well be busy infecting his friends with paranoid stupidism. The irony of these kind of people is that while they claim to be skeptics they in reality don't apply any sort of critical analysis to their own beliefs, instead taking the claims of conspiracy mongers at face value because their ideas fit into existing prejudices and blind spots.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Real Retro.

No doubt you've heard about them. The folks who persist in buying vinyl. They come up with all sorts of interesting reasons involving waveforms and the human ear, stuff like that.

Bah, humbug to that!

If you want to be really hip and not buy into all those newfangled formats like mp3s and CDs listen to cassettes! Vinyl is for wimps. It takes a real man or woman to listen to music on cassette. I personally intend to to listen to a lot more music via cassette in the foreseeable future, and I might buy myself a Sony Walkman(a real cassette Walkman, not the radio and mp3 pretenders Sony slaps the name on) one of these days.

Okay, I'm not really doing this out of some misguided jihad against modern audio tech. I simply remembered how many cassettes I have lying around and intend to listen to them more, since there's a lot of great music on them. I'm not sure how many I have, but I bought a lot of them over the years, which of course will seem strange to younger readers who started buying music after the prerecorded cassette format was put out to pasture.

In an era when people want their music instantly and can randomly access hundreds or thousands of songs from a device that fits in their palm the idea of listening to cassettes can seem frustrating. Want to listen to a specific song on the cassette? You need to sit there and fast forward or rewind until you reach the beginning of the song. Even vinyl allows quicker access to a tune. Even if you listen to a side all the way through in most cases you'll need to spend some time rewinding or fast forwarding because most albums don't have equal amounts of material on a side. But in a way the cassette was truer to the way albums were recorded during their heyday than other formats, as songs were recorded one after another on reel to reel multitracks before being mixed down to a master reel to real stereo tape. Like a cassette to access a certain point on such tapes you had to fast foward or rewind them, although this was faster and there were ways of aiding the process.

Aviator Flys Back.

My ownership of a Grundig G6 Aviator portable shortwave receiver has ended. I took it back for a refund today. There were just too many annoying little problems with it. This included a loud tone when tuning to 1330 khz and using the supplied AC adapter, and a lack of signal strength when using just the whip antenna on batteries. The adapter actually increased signal strength on some frequencies, but it also greatly increased the noise, even more so that just the noise increase from what is an electrically noisy environment anyways. I had hoped Saskatoon being a pretty low signal strength area might help with the overload problems some users have experienced, but that really doesn't matter if you can't hear a frequency anyways. The reported problems with FM stations "breaking through" into the air band range held true here, including local country station 92.9 The Bull smack dab on 118.3 mhz, the primary tower frequency for John G. Diefenbaker Airport. You could hear the tower when they transmitted, but who wants to sit through distorted country music while waiting to hear them? Fortunately Future Shop took it back with no problems. I decided not to exchange it for another unit because I didn't want to go through the trouble of getting another one only to face the same problems. My advice for anyone interested in this unit is to buy it from a retailer that will let you return it if you find it doesn't work in your listening environment.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Adapter Nation.


Having purchased a radio with an AC adapter last week I was prompted to think about those ubiquitous things. Frankly I don't know how many I have currently lying around. As the years have gone by we've seen more and more of them in use. But it's not just for using battery powered devices at home. A lot of equipment with no real provision for battery power uses them too. This is done because it simplifies the production process of various products. Instead of having to produce examples of your product with a different built in power supply for each market you have them all powered by an adapter and simply put the one appropriate for each market into the package just before shipping, or leave it up to the user to find an appropriate power supply. It is also easier to get some products approved by the various product standards organisations if you don't have to deal with a built in AC power supply.

It's too bad that AC adapters still largely follow the standard "wall wart" format, where the plug is mounted directly on the same box that contains the power transformer of the adapter. I have a couple of pieces of equipment whose adapters have an AC power cord attached to the transformer box instead of having the AC plug mounted directly. This make it easier to run multiple adaptors from the same AC power outlet because you don't have the transformer box blocking an outlet. This is especially handy if you're using a power strip. I would assume that the wall wart survives simply because it's cheaper to make than the newer design.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Fido Fatalities.

We've all seen it more than once. Someone driving along with their dog or dogs, and the dogs have their heads hanging out the window. Seeing an example of that today made me wonder how many dogs are killed in accidents each year because of such behaviour. In an accident an unrestrained dog will be like any other unsecured occupant of a vehicle, at risk for being ejected, or for that matter striking the interior of the vehicle or other occupants in a potentially lethal fashion. I doubt anyone keeps track of this kind of thing, and animal deaths only seem to be mentioned in news reports either when the accident is caused by hitting an animal or when a significant number of animals are involved, such as a truckload of livestock.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Saskatoon Shortwave Boom?

I got rather a surprise recently when I discovered the local Future Shop is actually carrying a usable shortwave radio. It's the Grundig G6 Aviator, one of the radios sold under the Grundig name in North America by the Eton company. Selling at just a hair under a hundred bucks before taxes this small radio has continuous coverage from 150 kilohertz to 29.999 megahertz, single side band demodulation, and covers the AM aviation band from 117 to 136 megahertz. Given the price I figured I'd buy one, and I'll probably have more to say later, as I'm probably going to keep it.

But what is even more interesting is that the one I bought was the last one on display in the box, apparently part of a batch of ten they received. Two different Future Shop personnel told me these radios have sold very quickly, which frankly is a surprise to me. Is there suddenly a bunch of people interested in shortwave in Saskatoon? Or does it have something to do with these units being labelled as the Buzz Aldrin Edition, commemorating the 40th anniversary of Aldrin's role in the Apollo 11 mission? If the latter I wonder if they won't see some of these returned by people who didn't really know what they were getting into buying a shortwave receiver. As I've noted before shortwave reception is not like receiving local TV and radio stations no matter how powerful the station is, so it's not hard to imagine some people thinking their radios don't work properly when they don't produce a signal like Saskatoon stations CKOM or C95.

Interestingly the Grundig shortwave product lineup in North America is different from that in Europe, since Eton actually uses the Grundig name under license and has products produced for them directly. Grundig's "world band" line outside of North America is actually composed of rebranded products from respected Taiwanese manufacturer Sangean. The Yacht Boy 80 for example is actually the Sangean PT80.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Fun On The Border.

Have a thought for the border guards along the US-Canada border today. June 1st sees the introduction of new regulations for travelling to the US from Canada. To cross the border you must have a valid Canadian passport or one of several other alternate documents. But you know that a whole bunch of people trying to cross over the next few days don't know they now need a passport, despite ads announcing the changes running for months on TV. So border guards will have to deal with a bunch of irate people who are having trouble totally of their own creation.