Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
I just submitted a brief to Canada’s Special Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reform, or ERRE. I expect it will show up on their docket in due course, but you can read it here first. There are many briefs, some very good, but this one is mine. Continue Reading »
I favour electoral reform. I am a newly-minted Canadian, who deeply hopes my first vote for Parliament will not be conducted under the current, archaic, unfair First-Past-the-Post system. So, when my MP convened a Town Hall meeting on electoral reform, I made a point of attending. Here are some notes on the event. I hope they are helpful documentation for other democratic reform advocates.
A couple of weeks ago the Music Encoding Conference 2016 was held at McGill University, Montréal, Canada. I attended on behalf of the Keyboard Philharmonic project. I was like a kid in a candy store: so many people with so much experience in representing music notation digitally, so many interesting talks, so much friendliness. I also had the temerity to hold, despite my first-time status, a workshop on the first day of the conference: “Encoding Music at Music Encoding”, where we would follow the Keyboard Philharmonic process to encode a short score. The goal was to release it to the public domain by the end of the conference. Here is how we did.
I’m no longer a foreign troublemaker in Canada. I’m now a Canadian citizen troublemaker!
On 29. January, 2016, Ducky and I affirmed allegiance to the Queen of Canada, and completed our metamorphosis into Canadian citizens. It was a brief ceremony, an hour and a half made up of bureaucracy with a layer of pomp and ceremony. There were 80 new Canadians, from about 15 different countries. The couple next to us were from England and from Scotland — I wonder how they grappled with shifting their allegiance from the Queen of the United Kingdom to the Queen of Canada. We spent our first 45 minutes shuffling up to a counter, where our application was checked one last time. This was a formality; the filter was last November’s citizenship test. We sat in 80 numbered chairs, which ensured we were in the same order as the stack of 80 Certificates of Citizenship. We heard a speech. We recited the Oath (or in my case, Affirmation) of Citizenship, in English, then in French. (Thankfully, our presiding Judge Roy Wong had quite good French, unlike the cringeworthy mangle we heard at a high-profile Canada Day citizenship ceremony a few years ago.) We sang “O Canada”: mostly in English, keener me in the bilingual version. We filed past Judge Wong in our carefully numbered order, and received the correct Certificate of Citizenship. Most people went off to work. A few of us stayed for photos.
Interestingly, we lost our Canadian permanent resident cards in the transaction; we are now citizens, not permanent residents. If we were to visit the US soon, we might not be able to get back in to Canada. So our next task is to apply for Canadian passports. Hopefully, they will be mailed to us within a couple of weeks. Then we tell the NEXUS program about our changed status, and are free to scamper across the border again.
We don’t lose our US citizenship. It used to that 8 U.S.C. § 1481 took away your US citizenship, if you became a naturalized citizen of another country. But the US Supreme Court ruled (in Afroyim vs Rusk (1967), according to Wikipedia at least) that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution overrules that Congressional statute. So now we stay US citizens until we express a clear intent not to be. And it’s a great situation to have: the privilege to live in a wonderful country like Canada, while still being able to travel and work in the USA. When first we moved to Canada, the cross-border tax expert, the late David Ingram, counseled us to get Canadian citizenship as soon as we could; for born US citizens it was all upside and no downside. He was right. Sure, we get the joy of filing both US and Canadian tax returns. But there are experts who help us with that, and a tax treaty that most of the time means each dollar is taxed by either Canada or the US, not by both.
For our first year as new citizens, we get free admission to thousands of parks and museums nationwide, thanks to the Cultural Access Pass. VIA Rail will give us 50% off a ticket, even a multi-week cross-country sleeper car trip. We are planning our adventures already! And we were touched by the enthusiastic welcome from Canadian friends on Facebook (and warm congratulations from US friends), also this one, and this one, and this one.
Oh, Canada, our home and (naturalised) land!
Last week I passed the Canadian Citizenship Test. It was a simple 20-question multiple-choice test, on facts about Canada’s history, values, make-up, culture, etc. I scored 19/20, but unfortunately my spouse Ducky scored 20/20. She gets the bragging rights. Thus I switch to focussing on the fact that we both passed, rather than the details of who got which score.
This test, and the documents check and chat with the nice woman from Citizenship and Immigration Canada which accompanied it, represent the last substantive filter to eliminate candidates from citizenship. There will be 3-5 months of process, pro-forma hearings, but not anything that is likely to reject us. Then we get a letter inviting us to an oath-taking ceremony, and we become Canadian citizens. I’m really pleased about this. It is the culmination of over ten years happy settlement in Canada.
Canada Post and the US Postal Service raised their postage rates again in January 2013. I was busy then, but I’ve grabbed a moment and updated my handy Canada Post and USPS postage rate quick reference card. The Canada Post rate increases were effective January 14, 2013, and the USPS increases were effective January 27.
My Canada Post and USPS Postage Rates project page, http://jdlh.com/en/pr/postage_card.html, has links to download the latest charts as I update them. The spreadsheet source file for the charts is also there. Both are licensed CC-BY-SA, so please feel free to re-use and modify them (as long as you attribute my work and share your product as freely).
Heads up: Canada Post has already received approval for first-class mail rate increases in 2014. The 2013 increases of both agencies came almost exactly one year after their 2012 increases, so I won’t be surprised if this becomes an annual event. The good news is that both Canada Post and USPS offer “perpetual” or “forever” stamps, which are worth first-class basic domestic postage, whatever the price may increase to.
We recently imported our 2005 Mazda 3, built to California standards, into Canada. As part of that, we had to convert it to have daytime running lights — the headlights needed to stay on anytime the car is running. Why? Safety, it is said; a waste of fuel, it is also said; but the main thing is that C.R.C. c. 1038 Schedule IV Standard 108 requires it, and so we did it. It was almost, but not quite, a simple matter of installing a $40 aftermarket controller module (Hamsar 70987) bought from Canadian Tire. Here’s the lessons we learned that weren’t in the instructions. I hope they will help others installing daytime running lights in a Mazda 3.
1. Getting physical access to the headlight wiring is hard. The module requires one wire each to be attached to the active (+) wire of the low-beam lights, high-beam lights, and turn signal lights. These lights are, on the left side, hidden under a (removable) battery compartment vent, plus various framework pieces of the engine mounting and body front. Attaching the module wire to the existing headlight wire isn’t hard; the kit includes splice taps which makes the wire splicing a simple matter of placing wires and squeezing with pliers. But physically reaching the existing wires, between and behind all that structure, was hard.
2. The trick to reaching the turn signal lights is to go up from below, through the front wheel well. The turn signal lights are nestled under a particularly thick tangle of structural members. I thought I would have to take off the headlight assembly to reach the turn signal light wiring. But no; I found a posting on reparing tail lights which explained the brilliant idea of coming up from below. I turned the steering wheel to the left, moving the forward edge of the left front wheel out of the way and opening room in the wheel well. Then I unscrewed the two screws holding the front edge of the (plastic, flexible) wheel well guard to the car body. This allowed me to pull back the wheel well guard, reach my hand up between the guard and the body, and reach the wire harness at the back of the turn signal light without too much difficulty.
3. Mazda 3 spark plug wires don’t reliably trigger this module; you need to attach the wire to a wire with a reliable voltage which turns on only when the car is running. The place to find such a wire is in the wiring patch panel in the middle of the fuze box. The module has a green wire, which controls the module. Put a voltage on this wire (relative to auto-body ground) and the module turns on the headlights. Remove the voltage, and after a few seconds, the headlights go off. The kit suggests wrapping the wire around the spark plug wire, and securing with cable ties. I suppose the idea is that the sparking voltage down the wire will induce a voltage in the wire. I tried this; the result was headlights which were on most of the time, but sagged off during deceleration. This rig failed the import inspection — twice.
Note that Mazda 3 spark plugs are wired with two small-gauge conductors, not one thick conductor. I suspect the electrical properties of the Mazda 3 spark plug wires aren’t what the module required. In any case, the green wire, wrapped around the spark plug wires, wasn’t adequate.
I was not up for determining which wire in the engine had the right voltage at the right time. So I gave up and went to a mechanic. The mechanic, having done a couple hundred such installations, had no trouble finding a wire in the patch panel which had a dependable voltage. Thus, the lights became reliable.
I hope these notes and photos will help other Mazda 3 owners who need to install aftermarket daytime running lights.
Canada Post and the US Postal Service raised their postage rates in January, and I’ve just got around to updating my handy Canada Post and USPS postage rate quick reference card on this blog. The Canada Post rate increases were effective January 16, 2012, and the USPS increases were effective January 22.
My Canada Post and USPS Postage Rates project page, http://jdlh.com/en/pr/postage_card.html, will have links to download the latest charts as I update them. The spreadsheet source file for the charts is also there. Both are licensed CC-BY-SA, so please feel free to re-use and modify them (as long as you attribute my work and share your product as freely).
Heads up: Canada Post has already received approval for first-class mail rate increases in 2013 and 2014. Both Canada Post and USPS offer “perpetual” or “forever” stamps, which are worth first-class basic domestic postage, whatever the price may increase to.
CZBB, Boundary Bay airport, is my home field. I rent aircraft from Pacific Flying Club there. And the friendly air traffic controllers in the CZBB control tower are my rock and my safety. Saturday, I was at the airport with some spare time, and lousy weather made it a quiet day on the airfield. So I drove over to the tower for a brief visit. I had a great chat and got some nice pictures.
I think it’s great for pilots to visit towers and ATC sites, and for controllers to fly along with pilots. During my primary flight training, my instructor, Raeleen Ranger, made a point of getting me up into the tower at CYPK, Pitt Meadows Airport. It was interesting to see their gear, and invaluable to put a human face on the voices who tolerated my bumbling in, and on, the air. I admire the patience and supportiveness of the controllers at training airports, like Pitt Meadows and Boundary Bay, who give novice pilots a safe place to learn and make mistakes. I was particularly touched when, after I flew my first solo, a CYPK controller was one of the people who came down to congratulate me. Continue Reading »
Last January I got around to introducing my handy Canada Post and USPS postage rate quick reference card on this blog. On April 17th, 2011, the United States Postal Service put new, higher postage rates into effect. I’ve revised my rate cards to reflect the new USPS rates.