Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Analog Today, Digital Tomorrow.

A final reminder for Canadian visitors:  Today is the last day of analog over the air TV transmissions for most TV stations in Canada.  Tomorrow they will begin transmitting in digital format.  If you receive TV via an old fashioned TV antenna you will need a recent TV that contains the necssary circuitry or a coverter box to watch the new format.  Cable and satellite TV viewers are not effected.  It should also be noted that if you use a radio to receive TV audio for some reason it will not be usable to receive the audio from digital TV stations.  I haven't been looking for them, but I haven't seen  any sign digital capable TV audio portable radios are available in Canada.

In Saskatoon specifically CTV and Global's Saskatoon transmitters will go digital.  CBC's English and French TV stations will remain analog.  As noted before the transition has been a bit of a mess as far as which stations will and which won't switch over to digital tomorrow, so consult with the stations in your area if you have any doubts.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I won't claim to be a great poker player.  But one thing I am is stubborn.  I'll stretch out my stay in a tournament as long as possible, even if I've got a ridiculously short stack.  Tonight I was playing a sit and go on Pokerstars with some money I won there on Sunday.  I didn't play well tonight, including having pocket aces cracked twice, which might not have happened if I played them better pre-flop.  Come bubble time in the tournament and I and the other tiny stack were down to our last couple hundred chips.  In the end on his final hand he had just a tiny bit fewer chips than I did, so he was forced all in by the blinds and antes, while I had a grand total of two bucks left that allowed me to fold.  He lost the hand, and became the bubble player, while I won 50 cents.  A silly way to win that money, but still fun anyways.  Of course if I played better I might still be in the tournament playing for more than 50 cents.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Change, It Had To Come;

Just in case anyone has been using my link list to access PZ Myers Pharyngula blog I'll note that I've switched the link here to the new version on  If you want to look at the old Scienceblogs version there are usually links on the new version when something is crossposted to both.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Gas In Saskatoon, August 26, 2011.

It's been a week of pingponging gas prices.  At the start of the week gas dropped to 119.9 cents a litre.  The trend reversed itself on Wednesday with a rise.  Gas in Saskatoon is now 124.9 cents a litre.  It will be interesting to see what if any changes there are before and after the Labour Day long weekend.

Two Thousandth Time's The Charm.

Congratulations to Jeph Jacques, whose webcomic Questionable Content has published itts two thousandth strip.  What started as a primitively drawn one strip gag comic about a 20 something and his little robot companion has grown considerably more sophisticated since then.  As the name indicates the comic often contains NSFW material, so don't get too into trolling the archives if you're at work when you read this.  Most webcomics don't last more than a couple of years, let alone long enough to have an archive of two thousand strips.   And Jacques is supposedly one of those rare cases who makes good money with his work.  Here's to another two thousand strips.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


It's funny that they call it life insurance.  It's actually death and damage insturance.  But of course calling it life insurance makes it a more appealing product.

When I was a kid every year we'd get a package handed out at Cardinal Leger, the Saskatoon Catholic school I attended, offering life insurance for kids.  We kids always shook our heads at the fact that the company gave out more money if you were maimed that if you died.  Of course we didn't realise that a badly injured child would cost money to help recover, while a dead child wouldn't.  If I remember correctly it was 10 grand if you died, 25 grand for major injury. 

Friday, August 19, 2011


Squier Thinline 1

It's been a long time since I bought a guitar.  I'd been thinking about buying something this year, so yesterday I pulled the trigger and bought this Squier Classic Vibe Thinline Telecastter. 

Squier Thinline 3

Squier Thinline 2

Of these photos I like the back the best, as it nicely shows the figuring of the mahogany used for the body.

The Telecaster was the first successful solidbody "Spanish" (that is, made to be played by fretting) guitar to see mass production.  The Leo Fender design was first released under the Esquire name in 1950.  When local guitarists convinced Fender to change the neck design so it had a truss rod, allowing for adjusting the curvature of the neck to compensate for climate effects, Fender renamed the guitar the Broadcaster.   Several hundred were produced before the  Gretsch Company asked the name be changed since they already had a Broadkaster drum line.  The result was a final name change to the one that would stick with the instrument, Telecaster.  Fender would soon revive the Esquire name for a single pickup version of the design, versus the two pickup Telecaster.

Telecasters have been offered under the Fender brand name ever since, a production run second only to the hollowbody Gibson ES-175, which debuted in 1949, making the '175 the electric guitar model produced the longest. 

This Squier model is based on the late '60s Telecaster Thinline, designed by the late Roger Rossmeisl(who designed many of the classic Rickenbacker instruments used by the Beatles) with help from Phil Kubicki.  It features a mahogany body with a hollowed out chamber and accompanying f hole, both features originally being an attempt to create a lighter version of the Telecaster than the original solidbody design.  This emulation is part of Squier's Classic Vibe line, which has been getting a lot of attention from guitarists of late.  These Chinese made instruments run in the 300 buck range, and show a nice level of quality for that price. 

Fender established the Squier line of instruments in 1982 when it began selling Japanese made instruments.  Fender had acquired the V.C. Squier string company in 1965, and decided to use the Squier name for their initial Japanese line in case reaction proved negative.  Instead Squier went on to be Fender budget oriented line, with production over the years moving to South Korea, Indonesia, India, and China as production costs increased in more developed countries and as guitar manufacturing capabilities grew in sophistication and quality in new places. 

This is a nice instrument.  I haven't popped off the pickguard to get a look at the electronics, but this one is surprisingly electrically quiet for a guitar with single coil pickups, which are prone to 60 cycle electric noise.  It seems a good shielding job was done.  Some folks have complained about the neck width and depth but they haven't bothered me yet.  If you're looking for a budget electric check these out. 

Gas In Saskatoon, August 19. 2011.

It's been a while, but the price of gas has finally changed.  Gas in Saskatoon is now 120.9 cents a litre. Of course the price change had to happen the day after I put gas in the car.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fan Phone.

Walking down the street today I heard someone's phone blurt out a familiar sound.  It was the opening bars of "Green is the Color," the old Saskatchewan Roughriders theme song.  These days it's pretty hard being a fan given how poorly they've done this year.  But there is a consolation, the BC Lions are every bit as bad this year, so the Riders aren't alone in the CFL West basement.

Monday, August 15, 2011



While doing some shopping today I decided I wanted some chips.  Unfortunately Real Canadian Superstore didn't have the Old Dutch chips I wanted.  After a bit of looking around I decided on a package of President's Choice Organics line chips because the price was good.

I certainly didn't choose them because they were organic.  Frankly the idea of organic junk food is rather silly.  Whatever minor health advantages being organic might give you they're still potato chips.  Just like regular, non-organic potato chips they have quite a bit of fat.  Using organic sunflower oil doesn't change that.  I don't think they taste any better than any other potato chip, although they're quite good.

Betcha Wanna Pet Him.

It was that time of year again.  Dudley came to visit last week.

dudley 2

Here he is waiting for everyone else to come back.  I'm afraid I'm not that entertaining to dogs.

dudley 1

I'm pretty sure I took this one mid chew of one of his dog treats.  His eyes look a bit odd because I used the redeye tool of the Kodak software I use on them. 

I should have tried to take more pictures of him.  I especially wanted one of his tail frantically waving as he was the centre of attention, but I couldn't pull one off.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

False Advertising.

This site calls itself the Canadian Free Press.  Yet the front page contains virtually nothing dealing with Canada.  Rather it's a bunch of US political stuff, much of it of obvious cluelessness, such as 'Birther' nonsense.  They should call the site Shameless American Right Wing Fanboyzone or something like that.  On the other hand they do say at the top of the page "...Because Without America There Is No Free World."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

That's What We Like To See 2.

Many major league baseball players never hit a grand slam.  Bret Lawrie has been in the big leagues less than a week, and tonight he hit his first.  He's 21.  I wonder how many more he might hit over the next however many seasons he plays.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Still Transmitting.

A lot has changed on shortwave over the years.  Many stations familiar to long time listners have dissappeared completely.  Others have greatly reduced their schedules, especially to the industralised world.  They unfortunately assume that if you live in such places you'll listen online.  But there are still some familiar sounds to be heard.  While tuning around the bands I cam across a familiar voice.  It was Arnie Coro, still hosting his longrunning show DXers Unlimited on Radio Havana Cuba.  He still sounds pretty good.

It's not much of a surprise that Coro is still aorund given that Radio Havana Cuba is largely stuck in the past, just like US-Cuba relations are.  It was interesting to hear the RHC newscast refer to NATO troops as "occupying troops" and the Taliban as "resistance forces," read by someone with a North American accent.  Probably some Canadian, or maybe some really adventurous American, who thinks they're helping to "fight US imperialism" instead of helping prop up a decrepit Communist dictatorship that needs to go.  Cuba has no more reason to like the Taliban than the rest of us, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that.  The whole thing was tedious decades ago, and gets even more so as the decades go on.  Unfortuately I doubt even the Castros dying will change things, as American policy has given the Cuban regime no reason to lighten up..

Saturday, August 06, 2011

I Question His Taste.

I must say I'm a bit disappointed with Mike Wilner after what I heard on today's Blue Jays pre game show on the Blue Jays Radio Network.  Today's Blue Jays-Orioles game is in a rain delay.  Over the PA system they apparently were playing "Here Comes The Rain Again" by the Eurythmics.  Wilner claimed it was the worst song of the 1980s.  Seriously?  Worse than some of the third rate hair metal that charted?  Or the more egregious of the schmaltzly power ballads that were so popular?  I don't think so, Mr. Wilmer.

Friday, August 05, 2011

That's What We Like To See.

Brett Lawrie just had his first at bat as a major leaguer for the Toronto Blue Jays.  The result?  A single and an RBI.  Good job!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Happy Birthday, Little Brother.

I'm surprised I haven't done this in the past, but better late than never.  It's my brother Joel's birthday today, so this one goes out to him.  And you too, if it's your birthday.


In Saskatoon the only people besides police officers you'll encounter on the street with legal handguns are the crews of armoured trucks.  While Canadian police forces have universally gone over to semiautomatic pistols armoured truck guards have continued to carry revolvers.  But it seems this is changing.  This morning I saw a Brinks guard heading in to a liquor board store, and it looked like he had magazine pouches on his belt.  Sure enough when he came back out I could see his right hip, and he was carrying a pistol instead of a revolver.  (I'm familiar enough with guns that the design of the grip made me think it was a Smith and Wesson product, perhaps their recent M&P model.)  I would imagine this is simply a case of the older guns needing replacement, as armoured truck robberies aren't common here.  In fact I haven't a clue when the last such attempt might have been.  It also makes me wonder again how much shooting practice these guys actually get.