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Tomatoes grow well in my south window,
even on New Years Day with less than 8 hours of daylight.

Wednesday January 1st 2014
New  Years Day 2014

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Happy New Year!

I awoke at 0230 and decided to start the year here at the keyboard.  I'll go back to bed shortly, after I wake up enough to sleep better than I was.  After the lasagna and pumpkin pie and several small glasses of red wine last night, I was groggy.   Tomato sauce and red wine do that to me.

If I am half-awake, groggy and dreaming repetitive dreams I find that getting up and waking up completely helps me get back to a sound sleep.  Sometimes I even have a cup of coffee.  Once I am awake, I eventually feel tired, usually after an hour or two, and go back to bed and sleep soundly for a few hours.

Who would have thought that when I started this diary back in 2000 before the word, "blog" was coined, that I would stick with it?  I really doubted I would.  At one point, after I retired, I quit and took down the website.  After a while, I put it back up due to beekeeper requests and have kept at it although, frankly, I am not doing much with bees anymore.  I have about 50 neglected hives at this point.  We'll see what I have in the spring.  I no longer am involved with BEE-L or even read it on any regular basis.

Time to go back to bed.

*   *   *   *   *

I slept as few more hours, got up and did some housework, then went out and blew snow until Elijah came and took over.  At 1230, Elijah, Zippy and I drove to The Mill, picked up Fen and Maddy and drove to Zeke and Adele's in Calgary.  We spent the afternoon and early evening at the family gathering there and then drove home.  I was home by 2200 and in bed by 2230.

We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry or because they
remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck...
 But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness.
Ellen Goodman

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Thursday January 2nd 2014
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The new year is now in progress and the holiday season is over.  Things are returning to 'normal'  Store hours are more predictable and the crowds are receding.  Rush hour will be at rush hour, 

Chris and Mckenzie have the rest of the week off from school, so this is an opportunity to spend time together.  Jean and McKenzie plan to go to Canyon today and I am deciding whether to join them.  I have yet to pick up my new skis and if I do go, I can do that and also am well on my way to Gull Lake and could plan on visiting there overnight.

On the other hand, there is lots to do here.  I have to finish cleaning and there is the bin buddy project...  The snow has not all been cleared yet.

I was up at 0500 for a while, had breakfast and coffee, posted here, called my Mom and went back to bed at 0545.

The mystery continues. I'm am experiencing an annoying post nasal drip again at night.  After a brief respite, it is back.  I was completely clear of congestion in my first three hours of sleep, but got up at 0500 due to swallowing and feeling dopey.  After breakfast, I slept another hour and half, but awoke with swallowing again.

I ate chili yesterday afternoon and had one Tecate beer.  I also ate a seed-nut trail mix in the morning.  I suspect the chili as it had chili powder and peppers, but it could be the nuts.

Stress is an ignorant state.
It believes that everything is an emergency.
Nothing is that important.
Natalie Goldberg

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Friday January 3rd 2014
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The morning is mild and breezy.  I slept well, having taken two Benadryl before bed last night.  I don't like to do that, but I needed sleep.

I was thinking of going skiing yesterday, but the phone rang and email came in and I was too busy until afternoon.  When all that was caught up, I found I was tired and decided to put it off until today.  Now, looking at the highway cameras, staying home looks like the best option for now.

At 0800, Chris texted me.  I think I will go to Gull Lake.  When Jean got up, we agreed to meet at Medicine Lodge for an afternoon of skiing. 

I got there at 1400 and skied with jean until closing at 1600.  Two hours was enough to turn my legs to jelly.  I'm out of shape.  She is a level two ski instructor (I'm only level one) and we tend to ski hard and steep. The terrain here is excellent and the snow was beautiful natural powder than was wonderful skiing even after it was chopped up.

Jean had picked up my new powder skis at the store and brought  them along.  I was a bit tentative with them at first as they are fat and long, but they turned out to be excellent.

We returned to Birch Meadows for supper.  Mckenzie went with friends for a sleep-over.  Zippy and I stayed the night.

Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man.
It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out.
Sydney Smith

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Saturday January 4th 2014
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I'm still a bit sore from yesterday.  I'm hoping that a bit more time on the hill will get me back into condition.

My cameras are sending me emails now and I see all is well at home.

 

The first image is taken in total darkness of the coal bin and was sent when the camera detected motion, probably from coal sliding down into the auger.  I can see there is still an ample supply in the auger corner, for today at least.

The second is of a thermometer in the hall showing that the house is warm at 10 degrees Celsius.

The third image is of my hall and probably triggered by the sun rising or the cat walking through the hot zone.

The fourth image is from a movie clip that my D-link IP camera nicknamed 'Rover' sent of me driving away as I left to come here yesterday. 

I'm pretty happy with my surveillance system now.  All that remains is to permanently install the rest of the eight Lorex cameras.

*   *   *   *   *   *

I drove home, stopping at Wal-Mart along the way for groceries.  I also picked up a 32" Emerson TV, with the idea of using it as  computer monitor.  It is 720p, but I figured it would work as I has various inputs.

I arrived home and had to run through drifts as the drive has blown in again. 

I was home for a while and Mom called.  An upstairs radiator at 1207 had burst, flooding the dining room.  She managed alright with the help of a neighbour and the plumber, but was hoping I can go down to assist with supervising the repairs.  She is unable to climb the stairs.

So, I dropped everything and looked up flights.  There was nothing for tomorrow except the red-eye and I know better than to take those flights.    People are returning from the holidays right about now, and flights are full, but I did manage to find a flight at 0900 Monday.

That gives me time to prepare before I go.  I don't want my house to freeze while I am gone.  I booked a one-way at at high price and will wait to book the return after I see how long I need to stay and maybe there will be a seat sale between now and then.

As for Monday, there are two storms converging on Ontario, and I suspect my chances of getting there without disruption are next to nil.

Ontario told to prepare for snow storm
Last Updated Saturday, January 4, 2014 10:26PM EST

Residents in Ontario are bracing for their first winter storm of 2014, while thousands in Newfoundland remain without electricity as temperatures dip down to -35 C.

Environment Canada issued a special warning statement for much of Ontario as two separate storm systems are expected to hit the province beginning Saturday, with freezing rain and as much as 20 cm of snow by Monday.

A storm system moving from the north of the province is expected to bring snowfall beginning Saturday night and continue into Sunday morning dumping 5 cm of snow in some areas, while a storm system developing over Oklahoma and Texas will make its way north, crossing into Ontario Sunday night and persisting into Monday morning.

The agency warns that Saturday's milder temperatures will be short-lived.
While the average temperature will hover around the freezing mark in Toronto on Saturday and Sunday, the mercury will soon begin to dip, with a high of -17 C forecasted for Tuesday.

The agency expects bitterly cold temperatures to remain throughout the region through Wednesday, bringing in some of the coldest temperatures in years.
Travel conditions are expected to deteriorate by Sunday night, with accumulating snow and poor visibility anticipated across most of Southern Ontario.

Air Canada has a travel warning posted for January 6, 2014

Toronto, Pearson Int'l, Ontario (YYZ)
Event: Flights may be impacted by forecasted winter operational conditions.
Air Canada and Air Canada Express advise that flights to, from or connecting through the airport(s) listed may be delayed or cancelled due to the event described.

When: All day, January 6, 2014

I may have to re-book.  We'll see.

*   *   *   *   *   *

The new TV is really very impressive for $228, but not as a monitor.  My other (24") monitors are 1080P.  I've found that mixing a 24" 1080P and a 32" 720P on the same graphics card does not work well as the text is too large on one, and if that is adjusted then the text is too small on the other. 

I'll use the TV  downstairs in the gym for Netflix.  I really need to work out.  I am getting weak.

Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a winning candidate.
Mark B. Cohen

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Sunday January 5th 2014
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       WIND CHILL WARNING IN EFFECT        

This morning, at 0627, it is minus thirty-three outside with a light breeze.

Today, I have to prepare to leave tomorrow morning and also watch the weather to see if I need to rebook.

I don't know if I can trust the weather guessers, but if they are correct, then Swalwell will have some warm weather for the first few days I am gone and that reduces the risk of having the house get too cold in my absence.

When the temperatures get down to minus forty, and there is a wind, the risk of loss increases.  If the home heating fails there is very little time to respond in such weather, but when temperatures hover near freezing, cooling is much slower. 

In extreme cold, it is harder for people to get here in time and the roads may also be blocked if there has been drifting.  The Mill was blocked in for five days last time I was away.  As a result, I have to have several backups lined up to respond.

What happened at Mom's is that the temperature dropped to minus thirty-five for days and there was an east wind.  That combination chilled an outside wall and froze an upstairs radiator which was turned off as no one was up there.

I went out at 1030 and cleared snow for a half-hour.  By 1100 when Elijah came over to relieve me, it had warmed up to minus twenty-four.  This snow is dense and going is slow, but the sun is out and there is little air movement so it is very pleasant working out there.

*   *   *   *   *   *

After looking at the Ontario weather again today, I decided that flights tomorrow are going to be late or cancelled, so I delayed my flight 24 hours.  That gives me more time to get ready and I invited company for supper tonight.  I'm cleaning up and organizing.  I'll have six or seven for dinner.  Roast beef is on the menu.

Supper was fun.  At the end, Zippy rode with Joe over to Ruth's where she will stay while I am away.

It is equally offensive to speed a guest who would like to stay
and to detain one who is anxious to leave.
Homer

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Monday January 6th 2014
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I slept in and checked my phone when I got up.  Mom had called, so I called her back.  Apparently the cleanup people had decided they need to move the furniture and demolish walls.  The rest of the morning was spent in phone calls and research.

It seems the storm did not hit Toronto and I could have gone today.  What happened to the storm?  Will it hit tomorrow? I hope I have not outsmarted myself.


Alberta in winter is incredibly beautiful.

Cold, but beautiful, and it is warm inside.

I spent quite a bit of time dealing with Mom's problem.  At the end of it all, the issue looks less serious than suggested at first.

Women and men have to fight together to change society - and both will benefit...
 Partnership, not dependence, is the real romance in marriage.
Muriel Fox

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Tuesday January 7th 2014
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0300: I'm up and I'm packing, getting ready to leave for Sudbury.

*   *   *   *   *   *

I turned on the news at 0400 and heard that there are huge line-ups and planes waiting on the tarmac at YYZ due to weather, and that the police were being called in to manage the crowds.  I went online and sure enough my flight is cancelled.

Change of plan.  I called Mom and she is fine.  I'll handle things over the phone for today.

The note below explains what happened next.

To Air Canada, sent at 6 AM Jan 7, 2014

I woke up today and found my flight from YYC - YYZ was cancelled. I tried rebooking online and got a message that I was unable to proceed due to an "Unexpected Error" and to call Air Canada reservations. I tried all numbers numerous times and all were busy.

There was no way to reach Air Canada by phone and the web was not working.

As I did not want to be a no-show, and could not cancel or rebook, I am writing now, several hours before the cancelled flight(s) and less than 24 hours after booking this flight to notify you that I am unable to contact Air Canada and have booked and paid for the same flights for tomorrow when hopefully things return more to normal.

I trust I will be reimbursed for the cancelled flights since Air Canada was unable to respond in a timely manner due to the heavy demand and I was forced to take the matters into my own hands.

If you need any further information, please contact me.

Thanks in advance.

So, I'm going back to bed!

*   *   *   *   *   *

At 0855, my phone rang.  It was the insurance adjuster.  We discussed Mom's problem and hung up.  A few minutes later, she called back.  In the few minutes after she first called, the ceiling in the laundry room had fallen down.  She and mom had just been in there looking at the damage.

I have an extra day here at home.

Pesticide 'contaminating' Prairie wetlands: scientist
Researcher suggests pesticide may be linked to insect, bird declines

*   *   *   *   *   *

I drove to Three Hills to do a few errands and returned just after lunch.  The roads are snow-covered with drifting snow.

I'm beat.  I had a few naps and many phone calls.  Mom is staying at home tonight but has been advised to stay out of the kitchen and dining room as the ceilings are in danger of coming down, according to the contractor.  When I get there, we'll find her a place to stay for a week or two while the repairs are underway.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for my flight tomorrow morning and hoping to have a good sleep tonight.  I actually do not have to get up until 5 AM if I am packed and ready.  By then I should be able to see online if my flight will be taking off or not.

*   *   *   *   *   *

By evening I could see online that my flight has been cancelled -- again -- and the Air Canada phones are all constantly busy.

I have given up on flying East until things settle down.  I have given over $1,500 to Air Canada and both flights have been cancelled with no notice and I have been unable to contact them.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Since my trip to Gull Lake, the ABS and tire warning lights on my Toyota van dash have been staying on.  A quick web search shows that both are associated with the ABS sensors at the wheels. 

Perhaps one is damaged or a connector is unplugged or corroded, but on the chance that the problem is simply a buildup of ice, I brought the van inside for the night.  This is also a good way to dry out the van interior. 

Now I have the boat, the snowmobile and the van in the shop.  It is getting crowded down there.

Tracy arrived with a load of coal at 2035, so the bin is full to overflowing.  That is one less worry while (if?) I am gone.

*   *   *   *   *   *

I've had enough of all this turmoil.  It seems I won't get a decent flight for a while and Mom is doing fine with the help of neighbours and friends.  I'm going to bed, and plan to sleep in tomorrow.

We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone,
alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.
Maya Angelou

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Wednesday January 8th 2014
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I slept soundly and got up, refreshed, at 0730.  I see now that I have some texts from Air Canada. They all contain links that produce the error page at right.  It seems Air Canada is trying, but their systems are still not up to speed.

"Error 500: Request processing failed; nested exception is java.lang.IllegalStateException: Session Object Internals: id : overflowed-session hashCode : 1827171560 create time : Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 1970 last access : Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 1970 max inactive interval : 0 user name : null valid session : false new session : true overflowed : true app name : servicescomprd1f3/inbox non-serializable app specific session data : null serializable app specific session data : null

I phoned Mom and she is happy enough.  She will move to an apartment hotel for a week, starting this afternoon. 

This is turning into an adventure.  I think that is the secret of long life: Don't let circumstances get you down.  If you are given lemons, make lemonade.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Here, at home, the day is dawning bright and beautiful.  We are still down at minus 15.7, but there is no wind.  We are expecting warmer weather over coming days.

At 0942, I phoned Air Canada again and the phone actually rang.  An announcement said that the wait was twenty to forty-five minutes.  Then the noise began.  A mindless jingle started to repeat over and over.  I hung up.  Who can stand forty-five minutes of that racket?  I can't.

I called again at 1046 and was told the wait is 11 to 17 minutes.  Then the pseudo-music started again and soon the ads began.  I hung up.

*   *   *   *   *   *

I finally got around to billing some web clients the other day.  I don't mind the work, but hate billing.  I'm thinking of winding down that sort of work.  Most clients are no work at all and some never have any changes, but some are always needing tweaks.

I have one who submits changes fairly often, and in Word format.  That is OK, but there are often errors in her material.  Sometimes she responds quickly to queries, but sometimes not.  Last winter it was a month or so. 

Once I open a file, and get working on it, I get a lot done, but if I have to put it away for a month, I have to figure out where I was when I stopped for feedback  -- usually expecting to be finishing shortly. 

In this case, I was in the middle of a complex job, requested feedback, and when the reply finally came a month later, had to begin again at the start. 

She questioned my (conservative) billing of $400/yr including hosting, domain, and edits!  (I have some clients as cheap as $150/yr).

Below is my response.  I hope I do not sound too testy.  I don't mind doing her site.  I just figure that if you go to a garage for an oil change and then you order flushes, tune-ups, and a wash, you should expect a larger bill than for the oil change you discussed in the first place.

At any rate, if anyone wants some clients, I am thinking of passing a few along.

> I had forgotten to change the 2012 to 2013 but the other
> dates were  correct! I will reattach it... in case I did send
> the wrong one!

I just post whatever you send. It is very important you check it over for errors immediately and carefully after I notify you of changes, and get back to me while I still have that file open.

I posted the corrected file you just sent. Please look it over.

> Also... about the bills! The first year you quoted me $200/yr but I
> paid extra (it was my idea!) because of all the extra work you
> did with the initial "setting up" of my website. I wasn't
> expecting it to be $400/yr after the initial??? Did you base
> these bills on the first one? If you could please clarify...!

Your site has been a lot more work than expected due to many additions, changes and repeated corrections of material submitted to me, plus the complexity around the pictures and long lags from the time that I made changes to the time I got feedback. The posting of pictures this last time was particularly difficult.

Usually, after the initial web setup, there is little work. Most sites only have a few straightforward changes a year.

Basically, if you figure every time a web worker sits down to make a change it costs (or should cost) someone $50+ whether it is billed or not.

At any rate, you can pay whatever you like. I am not making anything like a proper hourly rate doing web pages and the money is not of particular interest to me or I would be charging what others do and billing more promptly.

I have been doing web work for fun, but am thinking of giving it up over the next few years, particularly where I find I am needing to do a lot of work on short notice, so it might be a good time to start looking for someone younger who is looking for work.

They are out there, but the good ones are not cheap.

What do you think a fairly basic website should cost annually?  If you do websites, what do you charge? Reply in the forum.

I called Scare Canada again at 1106 and got a busy, twice.

Ditto at 1131, 1147...

I read the PDF that finally came up from the text message, tried the rebooking number given there and was connected in minutes.

In 14 minutes from the moment I dialed, I had rebooked the same flights, but for Friday.  I was offered other options for travelling sooner, but decided to take the daytime short-layover flight.  The emergency has passed, Mom is moving to a hotel, and I am very happy here at home. 

Mid-afternoon, I went out and shoveled some coal, burned some garbage and took a few pictures.  The day is mild and the light is beautiful. 

My hives are mostly under snow.  I've talked of blowing more snow onto them, but so far have not.

The forklift sits under a pile of snow.  I should dig it out.  It runs fine any day that the temperatures are above freezing.

After supper I made a pot of chili for tomorrow night.  I left out the chili powder and it lacks something, but I know that chili powder gives me insomnia.

Old age comes on suddenly, and not gradually as is thought.
 Emily Dickinson

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Thursday January 9th 2014
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One more day and I will again attempt to fly East.  Bad weather continues in the US Eastern states, but Ontario is looking better.   Sudbury looks quite mild in the coming days, too.  In fact the temperatures forecast are not much different from ours, but the skies there are expected to be overcast with flurries.

Victoria looks warmer and overcast, too, but wetter, and the nights are warmer.  It occurred to me that if Mom flies to Victoria, I could conceivably be eligible for an "attendant" fare.  (i.e. a free ticket?) as she has bad arthritis and requires assistance getting up and moving around.  Maybe we should go west for a week or two while her house is under repair?

We are now almost two weeks into winter.  The days are growing longer, slowly, at about two minutes a day, but days are still short and the sun is low on the horizon. 

As time passes this daily rate of change increases to about four minutes a day at the spring equinox. then slows to nothing at June 21.  On that day, the sun rises to 62.4 degrees to the horizon.

Ours is the age that is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to.
H. Mumford Jones

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