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The bees are partially protected by snow. I need to put on more top insulation, though, now that brood rearing is increasing.

Monday February 10th 2014

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Nothing special today.  I'm just finishing the list from a few days back, and that will take days.

The weather continues brutally cold, outdoors.

Indoors, though, thanks to my trusty coal stoker and my friends' help while away, the tropical plants flourish and my tomatoes continue to ripen.

I'm propagating plants again, now that the days are lengthening.  Some of the annuals were dying back from the root and I salvaged the best stems to root in a glass of water.

This plant collection uses a lot of water, as much as ten gallons a week.

An interesting illustration of water consumption is the shot at left.  These are a few pieces of an annual that I placed in water to root.  That mug was brim-full to overflowing yesterday, and is down that far overnight.  Even without roots, these plants transpire a lot of water in a day!

I did some wash, then worked on the van.  There has been wind noise from a sagged drivers door as long as I have had the van.  To adjust that door requires a special wrench due to a hidden bolt.

I've been intending to bend a box-end wrench for the job and today I did it.  I keep oxy-acetylene around and sometimes wonder about the cost, but jobs like this pay for the lease.

I then changed the oil, and the washer fluid.  The van has not been much in use since warmer weather and it still had summer washer fluid.

The final job was to change the trim on the door I had replaced.  That took fifteen minutes.

I also filled the brake fluid reservoir.  The brake light has been staying on lately and low fluid  may be why.  The brakes seem fine, but the light was coming on and off after a stop, then, lately, staying on all the time.  The tank reservoir looked fairly full but was actually below the low line, and it took at least a cup or two.

I changed the front pads a while back and lost some fluid in the process, but did not think it was enough to require topping up the fluid.  As the pads wear, though, and recede, more fluid stays in the calipers.  Maybe wear took the fluid down far enough to turn the light on.  Hope that was all that was wrong.

Having dried out the shower stall with a space heater, I siliconed the seams again.  For some reason, I have had poor luck getting silicone to stay adhered to the seams.  After a while, the bead just pulls off in one piece.  I suppose I need to clean the surfaces better?  I had assumed that the new surfaces are clean, but possibly there is mold release on the surfaces and that needs to be removed with alcohol.

If I had my life to live over... I'd dare to make more mistakes next time.
Nadine Stair

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Tuesday February 11th 2014

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One more day of bitter cold, then we are promised warming.  I'll need to dig out the forklift and put on chains so I can take out ashes and do some bee work.

Yesterday, I got away from the desk and spent time in the shop.  It feels good to do something physical for a change and I hope to continue working on my list.  Nonetheless, I have days of paperwork sitting here.

I experienced congestion last night and also pain in my left shoulder.  I wonder if the congestion is partially rebound from having taken an antihistamine the previous night.  As for the shoulder, I must have stressed it working on the van door.  I slept quite well, nonetheless, but did wake slightly numerous times during the night.  I'd sure like to solve this problem,

I saw my doctor about it in December and an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) clinic called a while ago and gave me an appointment for the end of April.  I have yet to hear from the sleep clinic as promised.

Although we Canadians love our "Free" medical care, and it can be excellent in a crisis, for more mundane problem, it really sucks.   The wait lists and access times to see doctors on routine matters are ridiculous and appointment flexibility if something comes up is non-existent.  This means that life must be organized around some doctor's schedule, and the obvious conclusion I reach from this is that the system hopes the patient dies or gives up in frustration.

What seems really obvious is that, if the system can stay a constant three months behind, and it does, that the reason they never catch up is that people fall off the list and/or that resources are withdrawn if the wait lists get shorter.  This is rationing by attrition.

The reason is political.  The system cannot admit that they are rationing health care and this method is the least obvious way of doing exactly that.

I again had to deal with correspondence this morning, then began some cleanup.  Fen texted she was in Three Hills, so I invited her for lunch: soup and a salmon sandwich.

I drove the red van outside and see the brake light is now off.  Adding fluid was a simple fix that eluded me for some time.  It seems that I sometimes just don't really apply my mind to things.  Bending the wrench to adjust the door was a similar quick, simple solution to something that bothered me a long time.  I need to prioritize.

A second test drive reveals that the door is not quite sealing, so I'll have to adjust it a bit.  I learned how when we installed it.  I hate wind noise in a vehicle and like quiet, smooth riding machines.

I spent the afternoon in the shop, organizing and I started the snowmobile for the first time in years,  I've been paying the license and insurance for years and not using the machine.  It starts and runs, but there is a problem with the transmission or the bogies that I have not bothered to troubleshoot.  Now that I am living alone, I am getting back to doing things I have not done for a while.

A few hours of work should resurrect the snowmobile.

After supper, I watched Enemy of the State a 1998 premonition of the current hubbub about NSA spying.

Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions;
it only guarantees equality of opportunity.
 Irving Kristol

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Wednesday February 12th 2014

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Today should be warmer and windy.  Elijah dug out the forklift yesterday and today, I should find the tire chains that fit it.

Jon and the kids want me to go skiing with them at Mammoth next week, but I have been hesitant to leave my home again in cold weather, and I also been finding the fares high and flight durations longer than I like when I search.  I am also a bit uncertain of the schedule, as Jon and the kids have to drive the six hours from Laguna to Mammoth Lakes and back.  The suggestion was to pick me up at LAX.  I'll have to resolve this today.

I decided against the California trip.  It just did not feel right and they are saying they may come up for some spring skiing here later.  That would be awesome!

Mohiomap Creates a Mind Map to Browse Your Evernote
http://pulse.me/s/M6ccX

Hi Allen, I saw this and thought of you. You have often mentioned that you use Evernote. This may be useful for you. I am a big fan of mind mapping and use FreeMind many times every day. It is central to everything I do, on the computer and off.

I have set up a 'Home' map with a dozen or so maps linked to it. They are the colored 'bubbles'. All the maps and any files they link to are in a drop box directory. The links map is password protected. I can then add passwords and know they are secure. The program is free. Wherever I install it I have full functionality. Later this year I will get a 12+ inch Win/Android tablet with the intent to have my mind maps wherever I go. Nodes not in use can be collapsed. That leaves a little circle at the end of the line, indicating that there are nodes to be expanded. This is just the first version out. I am hoping on seeing lots of new features soon. Hopefully they will also come out with a mobile app for Android.

Cheers, Bob

http://www.bobhack.com/recent-posts.html

Thanks, Bob.  I used FreeMind a bit, too, but have gotten out of the habit. 

I took you advice and signed up for Mohiomap.  Now I have to figure it out.

Thanks!

The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins.
 Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Thursday February 12th 2014

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We are warmer, at minus thirteen degrees this morning, with hopes of rising to the freezing point.

Friends came for supper.  We ate the shepherds pies.

I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and
pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to
founts of wisdom and knowledge.
Igor Stravinsky

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Friday February 14th 2014

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Minus thirteen degrees again this morning, with hopes of again rising to near the freezing point.  Our days are now longer, with ten hours between sunrise and sunset.

Family Day weekend is approaching and I am thinking I'll go to Orams' for a day at least.  I'm also thinking of going back to Victoria and also thinking about my van sitting in a lot at YYZ.  On Monday, it will have been there a month.

Today, I am doing odd jobs around the house and planning to work on the bin buddy.  I've been meaning to get around to that for days, but have yet to finish my procrastinating.  There are some subtleties to the design and building of that machine and I'll do it out of my head, but when I am ready.  One impediment is that my steel pile is under snow and I'll need some steel.

The day is dull and still minus seven point eight.  Not cold, but hardly inspiring for working outdoors.

I've signed up for Mohiomap, but am finding it confusing, and have yet to learn how it will make Evernote work better for me.  I'm guessing that I'll have to rework my notes to find this useful.  maybe I should read the help pages.

It is a socialist idea that making profits is a vice.
I consider that the real vice is making losses.
Winston Churchill

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Saturday February 15th 2014

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I'm hoping the day warms above freezing so that I can use the forklift.  The throttle cable tends to freeze and a warm day thaws it out.

Valentines Day was yesterday and Alberta Family Day is Monday.  Monday is also Nathan's birthday, and I plan to drive to Gull Lake, but today the plan is to stay here, unless I see a chance for some good skiing.

It is now six months to the day since Ellen died.  It is also three months since I unsubscribed from BEE-L.

I started rearranging things in the computer area today, wasting time with Ellen's old desktop computer and working with my D-link DCS942L IP camera.

The online firmware upgrade did not work and it took hours to get it upgraded and working again, but the upgrade really improved the camera's performance.

The picture at right is from the remote viewing web page.  The camera provides its own light.  At the time the picture was taken, it was sitting in my hall in the dark.

I figure I should see if there is anything worth saving on El's machine before I wipe the drive.  It is still running Vista.  Vista actually worked really well and we never found a good reason to upgrade to Win 7, even though I have several unused licenses.

I can't claim all that time was spent on the IP camera.  Some of that time I was out starting the forklift, getting it out of the drifts, and taking out ashes.

Tomorrow, I think I'll go up to Gull Lake.

Hell is paved with good samaritans.
 William M. Holden

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Sunday February 16th 2014

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A strong, warm WSW wind blew in the front door as I let the dog out this morning.  The cat decided to stay in.  The thermometer says minus three. Looking south, I don't see the Chinook Arch I expect under such conditions.


Picture from Wikipedia

Snow is drifting by, and even though my broken weather station only shows 4.2 MPH, I suspect there is much more wind than that.  The anemometer is broken, but the station is also slightly sheltered from the SW.  I wonder what broke it.  Maybe a fat bird tried to sit on it one day when it was not spinning?
 

At 0846, the station now shows 10.6 MPH.  It would ne nice if I could trust it.  I need to know the real wind speed for safe snowkiting.  I'm thinking about putting on the skis, but also promised Jean I would be going up to Gull Lake.  I suppose I can take them with me and ski on the lake if there is wind there.

The drive takes an hour and a half and is just far enough away that I do not look forward to the drive.  I'd like to leave early so I have time to stop in Red Deer along the way.

At 1000, the outdoor temperature is plus 1.8 and the wind 13 MPH.  If this continues, our snow will not last long.

I'm getting fewer tomatoes on my indoor plants lately, but the plants are blooming.  A week ago, I made a few more cuttings in anticipation of the coming summer, and am surprised to see that one cutting is making roots, but the other, from a different plant is not, so far. (Right)

Last night I had dreams about Ellen.  Nothing striking, just ruminations and memories. 

I was wondering when that would start.  I've not had a lot of such thoughts lately, but figured that the time would come.  I'm cleaning up and rearranging the rooms and throwing things out, plus decommissioning her computer.  I suppose that may be the trigger. 

I wondered if I am experiencing another of the popular five steps of grief, and looked the topic up again to refresh my memory, but cannot stereotype my experience.  One thing I observed was that I definitely went through an angry spell last winter about this time.  I was quite aware of what was happening at the time and wondered about it and when it would end.

I also have tended to be a bit depressed to the point where things that should interest me do not for quite some time now.  However, neither of these symptoms are particularly obvious or overt, or remarked upon by others.  I have made a point of having activities that challenge me and also to keep up socially by having weekly supper parties, writing, and calling friends periodically.

Although I, myself, noticed that I was generally somewhat uninspired and numb, when those effects were superimposed on my normally happy, outgoing nature, I was only reduced to a state of mind that it seems that many live with every day.  Hardly anything to worry about.

Just after noon, Zippy and I headed north towards Bentley.  Snow was blowing across the road, creating a slushy patches on the otherwise clear road.  The wind was gusting, alternately pulling at the wheel, then slackening. 

I slowed as I approached one especially bad spot, wary of oncoming traffic. I always worry with two-way traffic that a head-on could occur.  In comparison, hitting the ditch here is not a big worry as the land is flat and the ditches gradual.

I'm glad I did slow as when I got to the slush patch a wind gust hit me and I immediately went into a skid towards the ditch.  I could see that I would not pull out of it, and if I tried too hard, I could corkscrew into the oncoming cars.

The ditch looked smooth and so once I was definitely off the pavement and committed I drove in, rather than fighting the skid.  Fighting the skid could just turn me sideways and cause a rollover.   The snow was surprisingly hard and the car just rode over top until it sunk forty feet from the road.

I then noticed another car further down the ditch.  Apparently he had had the same experience.   (I'm glad it was not just me). I called AMA for a tow and saw the other driver walking up to me.  He had called a tow also and said the ETA was twenty minutes.  He also said that he had been coming from Beiseker, a ways down the road and between there and here, an approaching car had done a 360 right in front of him, missed him, and hit the ditch.

At present, I am sitting in the van, waiting.  I am told the wait may be ninety minutes.  So much for skiing today.

The tow truck came after a while and pulled out the other vehicle, then winched me out and I continued on my way, stopping at Sylvan Lake to shop and then arriving at Birch Bay in time for supper.

I should mention that in the second picture (right), the highway plow had just been by twice, clearing the worst of the slush.

The tow cost me nothing as it was covered by my AMA membership.

I had wondered about the tires on this van and consulted my tire shop.  They had assured me the tires were just fine and charged me $100 to rotate them..  I could have bought new tires for another $400 or so, and have never been happy with these ones since due to noise.  They are a peculiar summer tread I have never liked much.

I am sure now that I should have replaced them at that time.  This is the second time I have believed the tire shop when I knew better myself.  Tires that are more than half-worn are noisier, prone to flats, and far less able to hold the road.

Of course, I need to reevaluate my driving as well.  Some people drive their whole lives without ever once going into the ditch.  I have been there more than once.

Also, I had two vehicles with new winter tires -- the Toyota and the 4X4 --  and chose this van for the trip, simply because I wanted to show Jean the new door in place of the one that had been damaged at her place on my previous visit there.  Of course, I did not know the roads would have slushy drifts and I underestimated the probability of gusts, but maybe I should have guessed, given the strong winds, and been more cautious. 

This particular stretch of road is known to be dangerous and there have been many fatal accidents between Three Hills and the Kneehill Creek Valley.  The tow truck driver said he pulls a lot of vehicles out of the ditch at this exact spot.

A pint of sweat saves a gallon of blood.
 General George S. Patton

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Monday February 17th 2014
Alberta Family Day

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Zip and I are at Oram's today.  We had a lazy day.  Sharon came over around noon, and after a visiting a while, we all went down to the Lake to check out the conditions for ski joring.  The day was warm and the Lake was popular with ice fishermen and an ATV group.

The snow cover was thin enough that we could drive the van anywhere on the Lake without getting stick, but there were exposed icy spots from the last warm spell that looked a bit dangerous for skiing, but we judged the surface to be suitable and I took some runs on skis.  Mckenzie was next, then we pulled Jean and Nathan around on a toboggan.

Later, we went back to the house for coffee.  I left just before supper and returned home.

There must be a limit to the mistakes one person can make,
and when I get to the end of them, then I'll be through with them.
That's a very comforting thought.
L. M. Montgomery

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Tuesday February 18th 2014

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I'm home and the weather is mild. The overnight temperature dropped to minus ten, but the days are predicted to be warmer.

I enjoy Dr. Gabe Mirkin's emails and website about Health, Fitness and Nutrition.  Here are a couple of articles that are relevant to beekeepers.

Some readers expressed concern about my trip into the ditch.  I suppose that I should make it clear that I deliberately drove into the ditch, seeing it as the least risky option once I was in a skid.

I might have ended up there anyhow, but once I realised that I was in a skid and evaluated the oncoming traffic, I surveyed the ditch and chose it as the safe alternative to attempting to pull out of the skid.  I used what control I had to choose my entry angle and distance from the road.

If the ditch had been steep or otherwise dangerous, I might have chosen differently, but I could see that it was clear of obstructions and knew that on a downhill, in slush, that if I did make a move to remain on the road, that I might well recover and keep on, but there was also the real risk  that if I overcompensated, I would rotate right into the oncoming traffic.

Once I decided to take to the ditch, I did not attempt to stop.  There were two reasons:  I did not know whether someone else would come into the ditch right after I did and hit me.  I also knew that if the snow was firm, that I might have crossed to field on the far side and driven back onto the road at the approach further down.

My orchid is blooming and has been for weeks now. 

By 1000, the day was bright and sunny and had warmed up to near freezing.  Although I am tied to my desk until I get a number of jobs done, I felt the need for some exercise and took a stroll down to my rail shed.  I had noticed that some sheet metal had blown off while I was in Victoria, but with the cold and the crusty snow, I had not been down for a closer look.

Today I sized things up.  I see that as was the practice seventy-five years ago, the metal was nailed on and the nails had shaken out from wind action over time.  The metal is still just fine except for some minor bends.  I'll get screws and put it back up when the snow melts and access is better.

I worked at the desk until lunch, then took out 11 drums of ash. That is always a bit of a job and must be done several times a winter.  It took about an hour.  I plugged in the 4X4 for an hour, then took it for a spin down the trail just to enjoy the new tires.  I can see that the snow is too deep and crusty, though, to allow easy access to the wintering hives.

I considered putting on my snowshoes and taking a look, but have been feeling a bit faint since yesterday and decided against.  I went back to the books, but found I was too tired to concentrate and had a nap.  An hour and a half later, I woke up, feeling worse.  I think I may have Chris' cold or maybe a touch of flu.  I'll take it easy for the rest of the day.

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
 Mark Twain

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Wednesday February 19th 2014

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What a change!  Yesterday was bright and calm; today is starting off overcast in ice crystal fog and with a chilly nine MPH northwest wind.  The mercury stands at minus five point seven Celsius.

The cat spent the night outdoors.  Unlike Zip, Amos does not always come when called, and missed his chance to come in before bedtime.  After the first try, I forgot about him.  Fortunately, the night was not too cold. 

In the summer, Amos often spends the nights outside, but at this time of year, I am afraid he will miscalculate and choose a night where the temperatures plunge to minus thirty.  It happens.  He has some shelters out there, but just the same, he is getting old.  I notice that when he comes down the stairs.  He is a little lame.  I don't know how old he is, but he must be well over ten.

I thought I was getting a cold yesterday and experienced fatigue and a runny nose, but I see no signs of it today.

The day looks perfect for kiting, with a temperature right at freezing and winds around ten MPH -- if I can trust the wind gauge now that I know it is missing a cup.  Ten MPH would be ideal, but if the wind is much stronger or gusty, I would find it too much for a first day.

Not only that, but I have to take Zip and Amos to the vet at 1430 and by the time I set up the kite and get ready it would be time to go.

So, I drove them to town and stood with them while they were checked over.  They got their shots and de-worming and Kathy says that Zip needs two teeth extracted. 

It seems that Zip and Amos were both born in 2003, making them 11 now.  I'm told that Zip will likely last until 14.  As for Amos, I've had cats that had kittens when they were over twenty years old.

I paid the $227.33 vet bill and made an appointment for Zip to have the dental work done Friday.  I didn't dare ask what that will cost.

Before I went to town, I hunted for the cat carrier for an hour, and finally had to use the dog cage.  I must have lent it to someone.  Either that, or it is right in front of me and I can't see it.

While I was hunting, I talked with Colin on the phone and agreed to go to Vancouver this weekend or next to deliver some boats between Vancouver and Powell River.

I also intend to go back to Sidney to spend time on my boat and see Mom, but before I go, I have some jobs I really need to do: get the books to the accountant and rebuild the bin buddy.

Opportunities multiply as they are seized.
 Sun Tzu

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