Nurses, MPs, and money

I had a bit of an adventure this afternoon. It started with the graphic you see below, shared on Facebook by someone I know here in town.

From a fairness point of view, all else being equal, it doesn’t leave me with a good feeling. Of course all else is not equal, but politicians lead us, and they should act like leaders. The situation as depicted in the graphic doesn’t put the politicians is a good light. And make no mistake, they control the light.

Looking purely at the numbers, it’s difficult to compare only percentages. There are 308 MPs in the Canadian House of Commons. Multiple sources on the web indicated that their 2013 salary was $160,200. An 11% increase is $17,622, bringing their salaries to $177,822, each. Multiplying the increase by number of MPs brings to total cost of their raise to $5,427,576. Turning my attention to nurses, the Ontario Nurses’ Association has a table in their FAQ that lists their 2011 and 2013 salaries based on their seniority. To keep things simple, I took a starting RN’s pay for 2013 ($58,831.50) and calculated that an 11% increase would be $6471.47. According to the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario, there were 127,611 nurses in Ontario in 2012. Multiplying the 11% increase by the number of nurses give us a minimum of $825,830,758.17. Coincidentally, the provincial government just released their budget, and the total amount the province will spend is $130.4 billion dollars. Deserving or not, it’s no surprise that the province isn’t rushing to spend more than one half of one percent of the entire budget on nurse raises. Not salaries, but only raises!

At that point I paused. I wanted some other confirmation of this 11% figure. My search took me to a Huffington Post article, “How Much Do Canadian MPs And Senators Make?” This article corroborated the $160,200 salary figure for 2013, but it claimed that their increase was 2.2% meaning their current salary is $163,700. What’s going on here? I looked at the graphic again and things started to fall into place. Notice how close the MPs are? That’s because they’re sitting on a bench seat. In Canada, MPs have chairs, while in the U.K., MPs sit on long leather-upholstered benches.

The graphic is telling us the situation in the U.K. and has nothing at all to do with Canada. So if Canadian MPs received a 2.2% salary increase this year, how did Ontario nurses do? The best information I could find was the FAQ from the Ontario Nurses’ Association. It’s already a year out of date, and it compares nurse salaries from 2011 and 2013. Still, it’s the best info I have so it’ll have to do. Here’s the table:


I ran the numbers and the increase between 2011 and 2013 ranges from 2.736% to 2.764%. The thing is, the starting salary for example, increases from $57,252 to $58,831.50, which is 2.758%. But if a nurse starts at $57,252 in 2011, by the time 2013 rolls around, she’ll have risen to the 2 year 2013 salary amount, which is $60,684. That’s a two-year increase of 5.995%. Because of this, the two-year increases vary between 2.758% for those nurses with between 10 and 24 years of experience in 2013, and 15.686% for nurses with 8 years of experience in 2013.

Are Ontario nurses being treated as shabbily as the graphic would have us believe? I don’t know because the Ontario Nurses’ Association hasn’t updated their FAQ. Comparing MP salary increase this year and nurses salaries between 2011 and 2013, some nurses are doing a little worse than MPs, some nurses are doing better, and a small number of nurses are doing much better. Looking back at MP increases, the nurses did far better. Last year the MP salary increase was 1.6 %. In each of the three years before that, the MPs received no increase at all.

Where does this leave us? It leaves me understanding that one must sometime dig a little when presented with information.

Posted in money, politics, propaganda | 3 Responses

Antenna adventure

20140712-101555 5D3 4M6C2822.CR2: 5D Mk.III, EF 70-200mm 1:4L IS @ 70mm, 1/640, f/4, 100 ISO

My antennas, Mk. IV

I’m finally moving toward free television, again. The setup you see here is the fourth configuration I’ve tried here, and it’s still not right. Over-the-air television reception seems more art than science, with a generous dose of trial and error.

Previous to what you see here, things were dead-simple. I had a single antenna, which is the bottom one in the photo. It’s pointed directly at the Toronto transmitters, which are 68 kilometres away. I also want to receive the Buffalo stations, but those vary between 14 and 62 kilometres distant. Because most of them are very close, I was hoping to receive them despite the antennas not being aimed at them. In fact, they’re located between 120º and 150º off axis. The results vindicated my plan. The signals were easily strong enough, but the strength wasn’t the problem. I believe there was a multipath issue because without exception, the Buffalo stations were strong, but suffered a signal drop off every few seconds.

What you see here is my answer to this problem. The big antenna is taking care of Toronto, and a smaller antenna attends to Buffalo. It was a good idea, but it brought another problem. The second antenna made short work of the Buffalo stations, resulting in a signal strength and stability I’ve never seen before. The problem is that the smaller antenna receives enough of the Toronto signals to interfere with those signals from the other antenna. I believe it’s a phasing issue in which one signal subtracts from the other, resulting in a far weaker signal. I believe that there are two significant causes. One is that I combined the signals from both antennas and brought them into the house on the same cable. This allows them to interact with each other, in either good or bad ways. The other is that the antennas are different. When combining signals, the general rule is the antennas should be the same.

There are two remedies I can try. I can replace the big antenna with a twin of the smaller one. This could clear up the problem but I really doubt it will. My reasoning is that the big antenna, a ChannelMaster 4228, is simply a melding of two of the smaller antenna, a ChannelMaster 4221, side-by-side. The other option is to separate the signals. If I bring in the signals from each antenna on a separate cable, the signals can’t interfere with each other. I know the Toronto signals can come in just fine, because they did before I added the second antenna. I already have the cable, but I do need another signal pre-amplifier. The Toronto signals are weak to begin with, and tuner is at the other end of a 20 metre co-ax cable. A pre-amp is required to the tune of another $70.

I started pursuing over-the-air reception when I lived in Ottawa because of my absolute loathing of cable television and the companies that offer it. The loathing is still there, but I’m even more eager now because of the plethora of available stations around here. This is what I can expect to get when I’ve got everything just so:

2.1 – NBC, Buffalo
2.2 – Weather Nation
2.3 – Retro TV
4.1 – CBS, Buffalo
5.1 – CBC, Toronto
7.1 – ABC, Buffalo
9.1 – CTV, Toronto
11.1 – CHCH, Hamilton
17.1 – PBS HD, Buffalo
17.2 – PBS Think Bright
19.1 – TV Ontario
23.1 – CW Network
23.2 – Bounce TV
25.1 – CBC French, Toronto
26.1 – Trinity Broadcast, Jamestown
26.2 – Trinity Broadcast, Jamestown
26.3 – Trinity Broadcast, Jamestown
29.1 – FOX, Buffalo
29.2 – ZUUS Country Music Videos
35.1 – CTV Two, Hamilton
36.1 – CTS, Hamilton
40.1 – OMNI 2, Toronto
41.1 – Global HD, Toronto
47.1 – OMNI 1, Toronto
49.1 – The WB
51.1 – ION, Batavia
51.2 – QUBO Kids, Batavia
51.3 – ION Lifestyle, Batavia
51.4 – ISHOP Network
51.5 – QVC Televised Shopping
51.6 – Home Shopping Network
57.1 – CITY TV, Toronto
67.1 – ME TV
67.2 – THIS TV
67.3 – ME TV
67.4 – Daystar TV, Religion

Frankly, much of that lineup is of little interest to me. The shopping, kids, weather, religion, French, and country music stations will likely not make it to my final line up. Still, all the major networks are there, and the monthly costs are exactly $0. To me, the loss of the cable speciality channels more than makes up for not having to pay the monthly fee for cable.

Posted in me, television | 6 Responses


That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet.

Emily Dickinson
From Poem Number 1741

Posted in poems, quotes | Leave a comment

The SCoC, and then more

The week before last, on June 13, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a ruling that took me completely by surprise.

The case involved Matthew David Spencer. Police saw him downloading child pornography, though they didn’t know it was him. All they knew was the IP address from which the files were downloaded. They traced the address and went to the ISP to whom it belonged and did what they’ve done so many times in recent years. They simply asked the ISP for the name and the street address of the person who was using the IP address when they saw the child pornography being downloaded. No harm, right? The police simply asked, to save time. If the ISP refused, they’d go through channels to get a warrant. If the ISP co-operated, they’d save the time and trouble of getting a warrant.

The ISP did co-operate without a warrant, and as a consequence, police arrested Spencer and the court convicted him. The ISP’s simply handing over his name and address didn’t sit well with him so Spencer appealed his judgement. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal affirmed his conviction stating that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for basic subscriber information. Spencer took it to the Supreme Court of Canada and they ruled unanimously in his favour, which has enormous implications for all of us. I have no doubt that Spencer is disappointed because the Court let his conviction stand, stating that the police acted in good faith, and justice would not be served if they reversed the decision.

According to Michael Geist’s post, “Supreme Court Delivers Huge Victory for Internet Privacy & Blows Away Gov’t Plans for Reform,” the Court stated,

in the totality of the circumstances of this case, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in the subscriber information. The disclosure of this information will often amount to the identification of a user with intimate or sensitive activities being carried out online, usually on the understanding that these activities would be anonymous. A request by a police officer that an ISP voluntarily disclose such information amounts to a search.

The point being that a police search without a warrant is a definite no-no, and one does have a reasonable expectation of anonymity going about their business on the Internet. Because that expectation is entirely short-circuited by an ISP connecting an IP address with a user on request, police require a warrant. This flies in the face of what law enforcement and the Conservative government have been telling us. They’ve stated that subscriber information is not in any way private, and therefore should be available on request, if the ISP co-operates.

The timing of this Supreme Court decision is fortuitous. Not only has the Conservative government been telling us that police should have easy access to this information, but they have two bills they seem desperate to see made laws: Bill C-13, which is intended to crack down on cyberbullying, and Bill S-4, to be known as the digital privacy act. In particular, bill C-13 would make it legal for companies to release customer information to police or government representatives simply for the asking, and protect those companies from any legal reprisal. Clearly, the Supreme Court decision states this is unconstitutional.

So given that their two bills are in a shambles, what does the Government plan to do? They seem to plan to ignore the Supreme Court’s decision. Minister of Justice, Peter MacKay, said,

The Supreme Court’s decision actually confirms what the government has said all along, that Bill C-13′s proposals regarding voluntary disclosures do not provide legal authority for access to information without a warrant.

Yet bill c-13 states,

487.0195 (1) For greater certainty, no preservation demand, preservation order or production order is necessary for a peace officer or public officer to ask a person to voluntarily preserve data that the person is not prohibited by law from preserving or to voluntarily provide a document to the officer that the person is not prohibited by law from disclosing.

(2) A person who preserves data or provides a document in those circumstances does not incur any criminal or civil liability for doing so.

It is true that ‘the person’ in question here is under no legal obligation to provide the information, but this is certainly splitting hairs. Telecom companies currently do provide this information on a vast scale. Legislating that they are able to do so without liability will only encourage them to do so more freely. And further, the current law states that this information may be requested by a

peace officer or public officer enforcing or administering this or any other Act of Parliament

In other words, police may request this type of information for the benefit of a police investigation of violation of the Criminal Code or any other federal law. Bill C-13 removes this stipulation entirely.

The government is wasting their time and your money by pushing ahead with legislation that will, if passed, be struck down the first time it is challenged on constitutional grounds. Why? I really don’t know. Certainly Prime Minister Harper is accustomed to getting his way, and he doesn’t react well when he is denied. Make no mistake, in this case, he will be denied.

The Supreme Court is not the only dissenting voice. Earlier this week, Forum Research released the results of a poll detailing how Canadians feel about Bill C-13. According to Techvibes,

The poll shows that 73% of Canadians oppose C-13, with just 15% approving a ratio of nearly 5 to 1.


opposition spans every age group and is strongest among 18-34 year olds (78%) and 55-64 year olds (74%).

Harper will find no support among his own, either. reports,

Notably, the poll reveals that just 24% of Conservative voters support the bill, with 62% opposing it.

It’s time for the Conservatives to put these two bills to bed. They’re past being stubborn about it, having clearly shown that whatever agenda they’re working on has nothing to do with protecting Canadians.

Posted in crime, Internet, law, privacy, rights | Leave a comment

Connected hot tub

Yea, you know what? I have no idea.20140605-113542 5D3 IMG_0472.jpg: iPhone5s, back camera @ 4.12mm, 1/3700, f/2.2, 32 ISO

It makes no sense. Why would you want your hot tub to be a wi-fi hotspot? The amount of extra money you’d pay for that would certainly be far more than simply buying a general purpose wireless router that you could simply configure as an access point. You could even use it apart from the hot tub and move it anywhere you want. Imagine!

So like I said, I have no idea.


This seemed so silly that I had to look further into it.

This wouldn’t be the first time, and it won’t be the last, that I completely misunderstood. The hot tub doesn’t serve as an access point. Rather, it’s a wi-fi client connected to your existing wireless network. The benefit of this is that you can use your phone or tablet to ‘configure’ the hot tub. Do you want to crank up the water temperature and turn the pumps on from the comfort of your chair? No problem!

What I find completely bizarre is that one particular manufacturer believe that when they list “wi-fi connectivity” on the spec sheet, you’ll know exactly what it means. Indeed, that’s all they say about it on their web site. You have to read the product manual to understand what it really means.

It still seems ridiculous, but at least it makes sense.

Posted in electronics, Internet, silliness | 2 Responses

See? Sex isn’t so great

Of all escapes from reality, mathematics is the most successful ever… All other escapes—sex, drugs, hobbies, whatever—are ephemeral by comparison.

Gian-Carlo Rota (1932-1999), mathematician
Quoted from: Edward Dolnick, The Clockwork Universe, 2011

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VW diesel refuel #118

Dates: April 11 to June 12
Odometer: 109204 to 110034
Distance travelled: 830.0 km
Fuel used: 52.924 litres

Calculated fuel economy:
6.4 l/100 km
36.89 miles/US gallon
44.30 miles/imperial gallon

After leaving Ottawa, my fuel efficiency suffered. The problem is this town is small. All my trips are shorter. That’s great for saving time and spending less on fuel, but shorter trips are less efficient in terms of overall fuel economy.

I really have no cause for complaint, though. I’m using less fuel overall, which means savings. The fuel I am consuming is also being used far more efficiently than in any car I’ve ever owned.

Posted in VW fuel economy | Leave a comment

Pray for parking

My middle-school buddy Michael posted a link on Facebook from the Huffington Post. Here’s the good stuff:

Victoria Osteen, the co-pastor of the Lakewood megachurch with her husband Joel Osteen, spoke to HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill about the spiritual benefits of fasting and addressed the kind of prayer that she does in her daily life.

“Even if I’m going to drop my kids off, or I need to park somewhere, I’m like, ‘OK God, you know I’m in this parking lot, you know any place you can open up for me would be great!’” she said. “I just have this relationship— I’m not dumbing down prayer. What I’m doing— it’s just part of my life.”

So let me understand this. She’s sending a request to god, the supreme being in the universe, indeed the creator of the universe itself, and requests that, in amongst running the universe and other important things like saving people, he/she make a parking spot available because she’s dropping off her kids. Talk about self-absorbed. I would think that god would not look kindly upon such parasitic prayer, and appreciate followers who had enough initiative to take care of the details, saving the important requests for prayer.

Then again, god, being god, surely has a mute switch for that kind of thing.

The President of the United States should be glad he’s got rings of security around him, or else Mrs. Osteen would barge in on a visit from a foreign national because she’s got a really quick question about her tax return. It’s just part of her life, after all.

But hey, that’s just me. I’m looking at this one from the outside. And laughing.

Posted in religion | Leave a comment


You’ll recall my May 23 entry in which I sent a message to the Liberals, PCs, NDPs, and the Green Party. I received a reply from the PCs the next day. I’m very tardy in writing this update, but I received a reply from the Green Party on May 28:

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your question, and sorry for the delay in reply.

The Green Party of Ontario would keep the Drive Clean program, and would likely enforce stricter controls on vehicle emissions. Hopefully this answers your question!

Hope all is well,

Provincial Campaign Coordinator
Green Party of Ontario

I note that the message is from the provincial campaign coordinator, and not a volunteer. Frankly, the writer’s stature makes the message all the more confusing to me. I’m not surprised, though I am disappointed, that the Green Party would keep the Drive Clean program. What renders me quizzical is the part about stricter controls on emissions. As far as I’m aware, the age of the vehicle determines the emission limits. Comparing the car’s emissions to the emission limits in force when the car was manufactured is the what determines whether the vehicle passes or fails. It seems to me that insisting that a vehicle have fewer emissions than were allowed when it was made is fundamentally unreasonable.

Go ahead and move the goal posts after I kick the ball, Green party.

In reading the Green Party’s web site, I find them far more agreeable than I had expected. I particularly like their idea of folding the Catholic school board into the public school board. I wanted a viable alternative. Unfortunately, with harebrained ideas like their vehicle emission plans, they’re off my list.

Posted in me, politics | Leave a comment

Let’s chat

It’s funny, I’ve noticed that one learns a lot of vocabulary in science-fiction. This is also true to a lesser degree in fantasy, but it’s mostly science-fiction in my experience. Before you say this is obvious, know that I don’t mean only technical terms. I’ve mentioned that I recently watched Firefly again, and this one popped out at me for the first time:

Palaver, noun & verb. e18

A noun.

1 In W. Africa: a dispute, a contest. e18

b hist. A talk, a conference, a parley, esp. between (African) tribespeople and traders or travellers. m18.


a Unnecessary, profuse, or idle talk. m18.
b Cajolery, flattery. m18.

3 Business, concern. W. Afr. colloq. l19.
 A tiresome or lengthy business; (a) fuss, (a) bother; trouble. colloq. l19.

B verb.

1 verb trans. cajole, flatter, wheedle, (a person). Also folk. by into, out of. e18.
2 verb intrans. Talk unnecessarily, profusely, or idly; jabber. m18.

The origin of palaver is uncertain, but it’s probably West African pidgin from the Portuguese palavra from the Latin parabola, meaning parable.

I was astonished because in all the times I’ve seen the episode (“Shindig”), I didn’t hear it. This time it was different only because the writer appears in the commentary track, and she mentioned that because the word is no longer in common use, no one knew how to pronounce it. This is doubly strange because I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that commentary track before. Not all of it, apparently.

Posted in definitions, me, television, words | 2 Responses