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It is clear in Snug Cove, but out in the Queen Charlotte Channel, the fog is dense.

Saturday February 1st 2014


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I'm up at midnight, of course.  I had a coffee and will soon return to bed, but have had a chance to write some letters and bring these pages up to date.

I went back to bed after my two-hour midnight desk time and slept soundly until 0800 or so, then had breakfast, did some more compass research and reserved a flight home for tomorrow night.  I spent some time writing the manufacturer of the compasses in hopes of getting the needed parts.

Between now and the time I leave tomorrow night, I plan to sand and varnish the cockpit table and companionway steps.  Once I varnish the companionway, I am without an easy exit from my quarters.  The compass work depends on whether I hear back from Plastimo soon or not.

*   *   *   *   *

Lacking the necessary parts, but seeing as I am leaving soon, I reinstalled the compasses.  One I compensated, the other was installed without the compensator piece, as it is missing a magnet.  At the dock, they seem to agree fairly well, but I should verify that.  These days, few people rely on the magnetic compass for navigation and they are largely for use when the electronics fail.  I found them useful recently when I got turned around out in the fog.

As long as the plotter or other GPS works, close accuracy is not required of the magnetic compasses, but if the electronics fail and navigation by dead reckoning is called for, accuracy assumes great importance. 

Of course, there is always the hand bearing compass for checking and fixes, but there is a danger in having grossly inaccurate compasses at the helm in that someone might assume they are precise and attempt to navigate by them.  Of course, it is a skipper's responsibility to verify their accuracy when assuming responsibility for the boat and before relying on them.

The cockpit table has been bothering me for some time now. When I bought Cassiopeia, the table was a showpiece, but since then the varnish has dulled and wood shows through in places. Last summer a bird or animal messed on it and the charter staff scraped the mess off, and varnish and a little wood with it.  I have been planning to refinish it but uncertain what varnish to use.  Today I took a leaf off and hauled it to the Home Hardware for advice.

I bought the necessary supplies and started back to the boat to change for supper with Mom, then noticed that I had run out the clock and barely had time to make it in time, so I drove straight to Berwick Royal Oak.  We had supper, and when I left her, she was making friends with several other ladies who were waiting to see the Saturday night movie.  I think she is settling in.

I drove back to the boat, did some more research, organized things a bit, then went to bed.

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually afraid you will make one.
Elbert Hubbard

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Sunday February 2nd 2014

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Tonight I fly home at 1850 hours.  My rental car is due at the airport 1630.  With an hour's grace, that means I must be at the airport by 1730 at the latest, or pay a penalty.

Before then, I plan to pack, varnish the table and companionway steps, and clean up the boat a bit.  If the weather is agreeable, I may take the boat out to test the compasses.  From the forecast, that does not appear likely.

If I have time and Mom calls, I may visit her for a few minutes.

Weather in Swalwell looks cold, as it has been all this winter, with little respite, and I try not to think too much about my bees.  In a few weeks, the worst should be over, though.

The lack of bee content on these pages must be boring my diminishing number of loyal readers.  I'm not hearing from anyone lately.

I could mention the meetings going on in Edmonton in the recent days, but, frankly, I have lost interest.  I read the bee news coming in by email and it all seems to be things that I already knew or that just don't matter.

We already knew long ago that the mixtures of chemicals to which bees are exposed is a burden that holds them back.  We already knew that the supposedly "inert" substances mixes with pesticides were as deadly or more so than the pesticides themselves and that they are almost totally unmonitored and untested for their harm to bees.

I could go on...  Is there anything new?  Or are these meetings just a waste of time?

I am glad I set the surveillance system to send me a maximum of one picture every ten minutes when activated by motion.  It has been going nuts since last night.  The auger is in the "hot" zone and is now exposed enough, and thrashes around enough, to trigger a deluge of photo emails.

Then I recalled that I can change the settings from here using the software, so I redefined the "hot" zone to exclude the auger.  I hope that stops the spurious reports.

It did not. The remote software for the Lorex system does not work.  It appears to change settings on the DVR, but the settings remain unchanged   I continued to receive emails from the camera, even after I turned them off.

I spent the afternoon varnishing the companionway steps and the cockpit table, packing and cleaning up.

I then drove down to say goodbye to Mom and dropped off the car, had supper, and went through security for my flight.  It was delayed 45 minutes, but otherwise uneventful. At YYZ, I collected my van, paid the $168 parking fee for three weeks away (there has to be a better deal than that -- a month at YYZ cost me $100) and drove home.

Amos was delirious to see me and is wondering where Zippy is.  Ruth has promised to bring Zippy home tomorrow.

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere,
diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Groucho Marx

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Monday February 3rd 2014

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I'm home!  Everything looks good.  Now I have to pick up where I left off a little over three weeks ago. 

There is only a bit more snow on the driveway than when I left.  I have bookwork to catch up, and I have to collect my thoughts. I need to call my friends and arrange a party soon, too.  I see there is some vacuuming to do, and the wash I collected while away.  If we get wind, I'll have to go kiting and of course I'll drive up to see Jean and family.

I see that there are still tomatoes on the vines.  It appears that whiteflies are starting to work on the plants, though, so I'll have to wet them down with soapy water.  The plants also are looking a bit ragged due to being watered only once a week and the 55 degree temperatures during my absence.

I also see that my experiment in making cuttings from tomatoes (left) worked!  People usually grow tomatoes from seed, but there is no reason not to keep the plants over winter and propagate them from cuttings, it seems.  There is another plant in the glass as well.  I'll have to look up its name.

I did some wash and watered a few plants.  I see I have to work through some of them as some are getting old and need to be re-started.  It is getting to be the right time of year with the days getting longer, plants enter a growth stage.

I have a desk full of paper to deal with and that is my plan for the day.

Maybe we have all been to enough meetings, but from what I have seen from the lists Bee-L, etc. there seems nothing new, they just are going around in the same old track. When we went to BCHPA meetings, they were new, then a few years later, to me the meetings were still the same. Lots of old business very little new forward business. Chemicals are not the answer as we have seen as the mites built up tolerance.

I like beekeeping, have been doing it for 45 years. never had more than 150 hives, but when working at another job you only do what you can. It was a nice extra income some years because when children were small we decided, Lise, my wife would stay home. When they left home she wanted to work.

Retired 18 years ago, when companies were down-sizing, but was ready to go. First time was ever paid to leave a job. I still keep about 100 colonies or try to, the mites sure make it unpredictable, nucs are getting up in price. Use to get anywhere from 90 to 98% through winter. Not any more.

We live just outside Prince George and winter at Parksville. Have a 40' 5th wheel with 5 slides which has a winter package. But would not want to winter Prince George or where it is real cold. We like to be home by April 1st. We have the house with security, low temp. sensors. Also have thermostats that are controlled from internet, they call them "talking thermostats". We can control temp. from anywhere as long we have access to internet.

I have a bee building (I can winter 150 singles comfortably) with the same setup. Can turn on fans if needed or raise the heat or turn it down. Also have an exhaust fan for stale air on wall near floor can set at different times or turn off when to cold or on when to warm, also have another fan setup that is set at 45F when it get to warm. I love technology that makes life easier.

Anyway, what I do in winter is search the net for something different. Different outlook on mite control. Nothing seems to jump out at me. Don't know why the "researchers" don't go to the places that have mites but don't use any type of chemicals. When I had clean bees it was nothing to get the bees through the winter, if they didn't it was my fault. Also queens use to last 2 to 3 years.

Have read lots on the mites, at the end of the report they all seem to say "there is no way to get rid of the mites." If there is nothing new why write a report, just fills the net with more junk. One report says that a lot of new beekeepers have never kept bees without the mites.

Sorry to get long-winded, but winter have time to do this.

Ivan McGill
Prince George, B.C.

No one who cannot rejoice in the discovery of his own mistakes
deserves to be called a scholar.
Donald Foster

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Tuesday February 4th 2014

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Today, Ruth will be bringing Zippy home. It is also 10% Tuesday at the Three Hills IGA and a Calgary Bluewater Cruising meeting night.

Here is an interesting site I came across today: http://urlm.co/www.honeybeeworld.com is a site that reports on various sites around the web. It thinks HoneyBeeWorld.com is worth $3,791.58

Could bolt-on wireless technology keep drivers out of accidents?

I was kept busy all day with bookkeeping and emails about Mom's kitchen.  I was also waiting to hear from Ruth.  I made an appointment to be in town at 1600 to have my van checked to find the reason my ABS system has quit.

By 1530, in spite of phoning and texting, I had not heard from Ruth, so went to town and had the van checked.  After 45 minutes, the verdict was a sensor at the left rear wheel.  The estimate: $475 total, with no charge for the estimate. 

I have read online that someone had glued the part back on and I'll check that idea out before committing.  Although I like this van and want to keep driving it, the vehicle is only worth $2,000 -- maybe.  It runs fine and is safe.  I just have conventional braking and do not have traction control or ABS, and they are well worth having.

Of course, this van is worth more than $2,000 to me. It runs beautifully and is quieter and better riding than the brand new Mazda 3 that I just rented for $180/week in Victoria.  $475 would not even make the monthly payment on a new van of this quality, let alone the down payment, (not that I would finance a new van). 

I then went to the IGA to buy groceries.  I have been waiting for 10% Tuesday, with the intent of buying over $150 and saving 15%, but found the prices high and the produce less than great, so only spent $78.

As I walked out, I discovered Ruth had phoned while I was in the store.   Somehow my phone had set itself to 'airplane mode' and I had missed her call.  It does that sometimes and I assume this comes from forgetting to kill the screen before pocketing it and from my fumbling around in that pocket. 

I called her back.  Her phone had silenced itself, too, so she had not noticed my many calls until then. She and Dave were already headed south on 21, but waited for me at the 27 junction and I was reunited with Zippy.

Zip was slow to get out of their truck, and I wonder.  The weather was bitter, with minus twenty and a biting wind such that Ruth and I did not stand out longer than a minute or two, but I wonder if Zip is starting to think of Ruth and Dave's as home now.  She has been there four weeks. Animals sometimes hold a grudge when left with others, but Zip is not of that nature and I know Dave spoils her.

I also wonder if my lifestyle is suited to having a dog now -- or a cat, or a home out here on the prairie.  I'll decide in the next year, I suppose.

When El and I decided to retire in 2001, I had wanted to phase out of our Swalwell property over a few years and eventually move to Victoria or another town, perhaps even Sudbury. I figured that as we aged, being 60+ miles from a city and fifteen miles for  the nearest town with stores would become increasingly problematic and winters more challenging. 

I had though we had an agreement on that as a condition of selling off the business, but it turned out that Ellen was determined to stay here, so we kept the place and I travelled.  That worked well for both of us, but now I am here with a large place I do not really need and which is a worry and a burden.  I have now lived here 45+ years, so the decision to sell, and the process of moving is not easy.

As with every thing I own, I have to ask if the benefits outweigh the burden.  This sort of question is a problem with more than one simultaneous correct answer -- there is a different answer on each of many levels, from the practical to the emotional -- so I am taking my time, feeling my way through and enjoying being here for the present.

Image: George Carlin on "Stuff". (apologies for the ad.  It can be skipped).

Life is short, though, and time is fleeting.

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.
John Kenneth Galbraith

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Wednesday February 5th 2014

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No plans today except tidy and do books. It is minus twenty-four again today and not likely to get much warmer for days.  This is the coldest winter in memory.  I wonder why I am here and not on the coast or in the Caribbean.

My friends say their bees look OK.  I have yet to look at mine.

Looking across the pond, I see that the deer are using my quonset for shelter.  That would have bothered Ellen a lot, but I tend to pity them.  This has been a rough winter and I would not want to be in their hoofs.

I also see that the wind tore a sheet of metal off the north side of my rail shed.  Drat! I'll go down and look and hopefully put it back, but not today.  At 1600 hours, it is still minus 23 outside, so I am not inclined to go out to look.

Mom's renovation crew needed more guidance and that took up some of the morning.  Books took the rest.

I looked at Ruth's computer and found that I cannot log in without being online.  She set it up with a Windows Live ID and since her machine does not have the logon info for my wireless network, it does not connect.  I can connect it with a 10/100 cable though and may try that, but this is a warning about the general lack of planning behind Windows 8 and Microsoft's attempt to capture your PC with their cloud functions.  I avoid them.

Full view of WinDirStatTreeSize FreeI also see that my new computer has only 15 GB free.  I compressed some files and downloaded several utilities to examine the HD usage.  TreeSizeFree (left) is a good app, but WinDirStat (right) and SpaceSniffer (below) are easier to use for visualizing where the disk hogs are located. 
 

Apparently my pagefile and hiberfile use a lot of space, 7.6 and 5.6 GB since this machine has a lot of memory, and my virtual machines are using a lot as well -- 23.3 GB.  My Dropbox has 13+ GB of pictures, too.  Some of these things can go onto an external drive or be deleted if need be.

I notice that I used 7 GB cellular data last month.  I'm not surprised.  That was my main source of data in my travels.

My surveillance system continues to send me photos from time to time.  At left, it noticed me walking into the hall.

After supper, I took out Ruth's computer again. This time, I managed to log in after getting the password correct.  (That was "I", not "i").  Anyhow, I managed to get it straightened out and also installed StartIsBack to restore the desktop and start button that has been deprecated in Windows 8.  It is hard to buy a computer without Windows 8, although most of us do not like the Windows 8 GUI.  Ruth has been stuck with the garish, inferior Win 8 GUI until now.

Her main issue, though, was that she could not get Windows Defender to run and I found I had to uninstall the trial version of Norton (which had expired and was demanding money) to get the built-in virus protection to run.  I am really disappointed in the direction that computing is moving, with manufacturers trying to monetize every feature.

I notice that Bing desktop, which provides a new desktop background each day, served me a shot of Flowerpot Island near Tobermory Ontario today. (right).  I was there in summer on a trip bringing a boat back from the Caribbean a few years back.

Now for more Covert Affairs on Netflix.

There are sadistic scientists who hurry to hunt down errors instead of establishing the truth.
Marie Curie

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Thursday February 6th 2014

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I am expecting company for supper tonight.  Deskwork continues. I have some housework to do as well.

We have used all the ash drums I had downstairs, so after lunch I went out to get some more.  Even though the temperature was minus twenty, it was pleasant out there in the bright sun. 

I took the opportunity to look into two hives.  The clusters are small, but the bees look good.  There is no point looking into more hives today.  In these temperatures, simply lifting a lid is harmless, but nothing more can be done without doing damage.  I learned what I needed to learn: this cold, windy winter has not killed all my hives -- yet.

Getting to the hives today was difficult as the warm weather last week has crusted the snow to the point where I could make several steps on the crust, then drop though into the knee deep snow. 

This is a difficult year for the deer and I expect many will not make it to spring.  Deer drag their feet and have trouble travelling far in deep, crusty snow.

I really should add more pillows under the lids.  The sides of the hives are well insulated by the EPS boxes I use, and by snow, but many hives have only a single pillow under the lid. 

I did not get around to putting pillows on in the fall and now getting to the pillows and then to the hives is a big job due to deep crusty snow. I was hoping for a Chinook, the warm wind that can eliminate all our snow in a matter of a day or two, and make access easier, but so far, no luck.

Top insulation is the most important insulation for wintering as that is where the bees are located in late winter and spring.  Being up against a warm surface makes things much more comfortable and prevents excessive condensation. 

I took the Toyota van to get the drum and managed to get it stuck.  Without the ABS and traction control, it has far less traction in snow.  Even  though the snow on the road to my storage yard is not deep, it is crusty enough that the van only got a few yards before becoming stuck.

I went to get the red van to extract the Toyota and found the battery was run down to where the starter just groaned.  A charger soon fixed that, but I am again remained that modern vehicles have features like alarms and remote door lock transceivers that drain even a new a battery in a month or two.  I had not started the red van for at least six weeks.

I cooked ribs for supper.  There were six of us this time.

The longer I live the more I see that I am never wrong about anything,
and that all the pains that I have so humbly taken to verify my notions have only
wasted my time.
 George Bernard Shaw

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Friday February 7th 2014

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Deskwork continues, as does the cold weather.  The days are getting noticeably longer though, with sunrise at 0802 and sunset at 1732.

I still have some housework to do and plants to repot and the van is downstairs, awaiting inspection.

Deciding more details for Mom's kitchen and reconciling the books took up my day.  Elijah came and blew some snow and mopped in the gym.

Zippy is getting old, and although I let her out morning and night, she sometimes is not ready to do it in the time between when she goes out and when she is too cold. Then I see she has had to find an alternative solution.  I don't like it, but I understand.

I went out for a little while in the afternoon to enjoy the fresh air. I forget to do that.

My left shoulder has been giving me pains when I use it sometimes and sometimes when I sleep on it.  This started back when I was blowing snow and muscling the snowblower around earlier in the winter and got worse when I used that arm to grind a winch when sailing in December. 

The original injury came back when Jon and I went for the Norquay Gold, a pin awarded for skiing 50,000 vertical feet in one day on one of their steepest runs serviced by a slow conventional chair.  I had mistaken a pile of ice for snow and taken quite a tumble, but finished the day and got the pin  Later, the shoulder bothered me again and after getting a tetanus shot on that arm, I had a frozen shoulder on that side.

I am working on rehabbing it, but forget to unless it hurts.  I really should have a routine.  Anyhow, it gave me a few unusually sharp stabs today which were enough to make me wonder if my heart was acting up.  How would I know?  I thought of going to the hospital to be checked, but am otherwise feeling OK, so decided against it.

It seems I am working all day and not getting much done. and am somewhat disorganized lately with all the coming and going.  I have received emails in the past few weeks I have not answered and they are now somewhere down in my inbox, which keeps filling with more email.  If you have written and I have not replied, please take no offense.  It's me, not you.

Dogma is the sacrifice of wisdom to consistency.
 Lewis Perelman

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Saturday February 8th 2014

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I awoke early today at 0445 and am getting an early start.  I took Benadryl and ibuprofen last night and that seems to have improved my sleep.  Benadryl was to forestall congestion, which has been less problematic lately, and ibuprofen was for my shoulder.  I hate to take drugs, but I also need refreshing sleep.

Deskwork remains (Does it ever end?)  I need to finish vacuuming and tidying. The van still awaits downstairs, and I really should take a look at the snowmobile and see if it can be resurrected.  I sure could use it. 

The front door outdoor automatic light no longer comes on as it should. I also plan to reseal the shower and should check the furnace over.  Elijah says he want to work today and if he works, that means I have to find him things to do.  Somehow, I doubt I'll get even half of that list done today.

I should look ahead a bit, too.  Jon is going skiing at Mammoth on the 16th and invited me along.  Probably won't happen, though.  I want to get back out to BC in the coming weeks, and I also have an opportunity to spend a week in the BVIs.  One week is not a long enough stay, though to justify the long flight down and back.  For now, though, I think I'll be home for a while.

This was a productive day.  Rod called and said he has time to replace the door on my red van (see Dec 3, 2013) , so I drove to Three Hills and an hour later, the door was fixed and we changed the passenger side mirror, too.  Total cost?  $175.  I still have to take the trim off the door and and replace it with the trim from the damaged door, but the job is basically done.

On returning home, I looked under the Toyota which had been drying out downstairs in the garage/shop and immediately saw that the sensor ring for the ABS had simply popped off.  I cleaned it up and glued it back on with silicone.  From what I read on  this web page, I assume that it will be back to normal after the glue dries.  It has been acting up since Jan 7 and I could have just looked more closely and fixed it earlier.

That is the story of my life.  I tend to doubt myself although I am more often right than wrong.  

The shop I took the van to had quoted me $475 to repair it, but I don't think they thought I would go that way.  Having researched the problem in advance, I had asked if the sensor could simply be repaired, and they said, "No", but they are bound by insurance an liability rules.  I suspect they knew I would just go home and fix it myself but could not tell me to do that.

I also had a good chat with the owner of the charter company this afternoon.  I've been with them one year now and can see the warts.  No complaints, though.  They have been good, but it seems they are flying by the seat of their pants.

And, by the way, I am eating pretty well anything I please and the congestion is minimal.  Did I have a virus?  I don't know.  There are also some fungi that are associated with beekeeping, indoor wintering, and cleaning out deadouts.  Some fungus infections may linger a lifetime.  Check it out.  I discussed it here somewhere, sometime....

Sometimes it is not enough that we do our best; we must do what is required.
 Sir Winston Churchill

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Sunday February 9th 2014

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I slept until 0745 and when I awoke there was daylight in the room.  The days are definitely lengthening.  Not long ago, it was still dark at 0800.

Looking out, I could see that the day is cold, breezy, and foggy with snow crystals.  I let the dog and cat out and within minutes they wanted back in.  The forecast promises better weather a few days from now.  We'll see.

I checked the Victoria weather and it looks cool and rainy.

The glue held and I took the Toyota for a spin.  The ABS works and the trouble lights are not lit, so that was all it took, and I saved $475!

Now the red van is inside in its place to have the door trim installed and so that I can adjust the front driver's door.

I looked in the freezer and see I have a lot of hamburger.  Living alone, I don't really use a lot of food and there is a limit to how long it should be kept frozen, so I decided to make shepherds pies that I can freeze and use when I have company.

It is time-consuming, but pleasant.  When Ellen was sick and I had time on my hands, cooking was a good way to pass time.  Now, I don't need to be here or have anyone to cook for, and I have other activities so wonder if I just wasted two hours.

Ooops.  What will I do with them? I can't eat all that. I was planning to freeze them, but now realise that the dishes are glass.  Will they break?  The sides are sloped and should be OK, but...  I think I froze a shepherds pie before in a ceramic dish.  We'll see.

I also cleaned the oven, superficially.  It has not been cleaned that I can recall since we bought it several years ago.  The oven was not too bad, but the glass door was spattered.  The oven is self-cleaning, but I am not sure I want a house full of smoke so I just washed it.

My weather station has been indicating 'low battery' the past little while.  Cold weather exacerbates battery problems, but it has been years since I changed batteries, so I went out to change them. 

When I climbed up to change batteries, I discovered that one anemometer cup had broken off.  I wonder how?  Maybe a bird hit it?  At any rate, I changed the batteries and put it up again, but then the software was acting up.

I managed to overcome that problem and see that the batteries are showing as OK now.  Signal strength is better, too.

If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?
 Will Rogers

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