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Saturday November 1st 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept eight hours again last night.

Nobody appeared at the door last night.  Trick or treating has died out here in the country.  Older kids go to the nearby towns and parents take the young kids to a few friends' houses and that is about it.

The weather now is predicted to be on the cool side.  Halloween is always a watershed date in Central Alberta.  Before Halloween, weather is typically decent, but after, the snow comes and with it some bitterly cold days.

Today does not look like a nice day to be outdoors.

Here's an email I sent to a scientist friend and his comments...

AD:  Frankenbees are here?  From the Sept/Oct UC Davis Bee News:

"Christina Schulte and colleagues at Heinrich Heine University in Germany recently were able to insert a foreign gene into a honey bee queen, which was then transmitted to drone eggs,

> They've always been here. The honey bee continually incorporates
> virus gene sequences into its genome

AD: I've always considered the panic about GMO to be based on ignorance. (Never underestimate the power of ignorance).

I think the real fear is that someone somewhere will deliberately do something disastrous either deliberately, or due to unforeseen consequences of some "Good Idea".

The genie is out of the bottle, though, and it is only a matter of time until some 'mad scientist' does something with bees somewhere and releases it into the wild. It would take time to discover and be almost impossible to trace.

> This easy method of inserting transgenes opens all kinds of
> possibilities, although would face objections in some European
> anti-GE countries. We could have varroa-resistant bees quickly if
> we were to adopt the practice.

AD: The problem is that responsible people realise that they cannot predict all the possible outcomes and are very careful, but it won't be long before these capabilities are available in a "Chemistry Set" at the some underground "Toys 'R' Us" for mad scientists and terrorists.

At 1500, it is dull and raining.  I see a muskrat swimming in the pond.  I don't know how many there are now.  Maybe there is just the one.  I know there were two at one point, but now I only see one whenever I look.

I just finished washing down the shower.  It has been bothering me more and more as its walls slowly acquired a soap scum build-up and recently the base started to mildew in one corner.  There were still spots where my bare feet had left beeswax on the floor last summer.

It takes almost an hour to do the whole job, and I suppose it would be faster if I did it more often, but I have been putting the job off.  I must have cleaned it last summer before the memorial, though, so it has really been only three months since the last cleaning.

I have some daily shower spray that I have employed at times, but it is a nuisance to do after each shower and it is easier just to do the whole shower when needed.  I think that I should do this job monthly, though.  Too much scum accumulates over longer periods.  After all, I was away a lot over the past two months and still had a lot of cleaning to do.

I did some vacuuming, too.  I don't know where all the  dirt comes from.  It seems that I vacuumed a short while ago.  Maybe all I did was think about it, but I'm sure I vacuumed in the past two weeks.

At any rate, all that seems to mark the passage of time around here is the changing of the seasons, the build-up of dirt and the need to water the plants once a week. 

I tend to have some worry when I have a lot of travel scheduled since I have to find someone to tend my house when I leave. 

I'm under the gun now because Shirley and Grant are gone for two months and Shirley was someone I could trust to come in and water the plants and pet the cat.  I now must find someone responsible before Thanksgiving.

I think Elijah can be counted on to care for the furnace, but he needs a supervisor.  He has lost his cell phone and I don't see him except for our weekly suppers.  I gave him a bag of old phones, hoping he can find one to replace the one he lost.  Maybe then I can text him.

At 1715, I drove to The Mill to meet up with Fen, Maddy and Lorelee.  The roads were slushy with wet snow, and heavy, wet snow continued to fall as we drove to Rick's for his going-away party.

The party ended around 2200, and we drove back to The Mill, then I dropped Betty off and continued home. 

By then, the roads were becoming treacherous and I could feel loss of steering from time to time as the front wheels slipped, then regained traction.  This is not a good feeling and is often experienced moments before a trip into the ditch.  I reduced speed drastically.

Most of my life, I have driven rear-wheel drive vehicles, but at present I have both front and rear wheel vehicles, and I have to remember instantly and correctly which vehicle I am driving at the moment and make the correct response.

The goal in any case is to keep all wheels turning at exactly the speed they would be turning if they had not lost contact with the surface and to keep the steering (front) wheels pointed in the direction of motion so they can regain grip.

With rear wheel drive, the immediate and correct reaction for a front wheel skid in snow and slush is to reduce power a bit and feel for steering traction to be restored.  The front wheels are unrestrained by the drivetrain and naturally will sync with the road surface if they make contact.  Reducing power to the rear wheels tends to straighten out the vehicle, although done too aggressively it can cause a front-wheel skid to become a four-wheel skid if engine drag stalls the rear wheels.  Rear wheels tend to grip better than the front in snow, though, since they travel in the ruts cleared by the front wheels. On ice, they have no such advantage.

With front wheel drive, the trick is to keep the front steering wheels turning at the correct speed to sync with the road surface with the hope of re-establishing grip on the road.  They are connected to the drivetrain and thus the accelerator directly controls the speed at which they turn.  Dropping power too much can stall the front (driving) wheels and make the skid worse.  Allowing the engine to rev and spin the wheels has the same effect.  The driver has to feel for the road with the gas pedal and maintain the accelerator at a point where the speed of the front wheels matches the road speed until contact is regained.  We do this by feel.

All this is a strong argument for avoiding cruise control in slippery conditions and points to how a cruise control can cause sudden and uncontrollable disaster on slippery roads.  Late model vehicles my have a skid override built in to detect skids, but some may not, and older models definitely do not.

I arrived home safely, watched an episode of Suits and went to bed.

I am finding that don't like 'Suits' as well as 'The Good Wife', so far at least.  I've run out of 'The Good Wife' episodes available on Netflix and I tried using Amazon Prime, which offers newer episodes, but I have to get a VPN working to use it.

In doing that, I got distracted trying to figure out if I can run two wifi SSIDs on one WRT54G flashed with DD-WRT.  I don't want to be restricted to one device and figure a router dedicated to a VPN is the answer.

I have two DD-WRT flashed WRT54Gs if need be, but setting these things up takes time and study.  I also need to decide which VPN service to use.  Some are much better than others.

There are similarities between Suits and The Good Wife, but the people in Suits are less believable and likeable than those in The Good Wife and I am finding that the plots are less nuanced.

Television is for appearing on - not for looking at.
Noel Coward

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Sunday November 2nd 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept eight hours again last night.  This morning, my bedroom clock showed 7 AM, but the growing light outside suggested that it was later.  My clock is a Sony and automatically adjusts for Daylight Saving Time (an oxymoron of the first order) and had automatically set itself back overnight.

I am not sure if like that feature or not.  More and more devices have secret lives of their own, hidden from us, and presenting us sometimes with surprises.

These surprises are intended by the designers to be nice surprises, but sometimes I think I would rather know what is going on behind the elegant covers of these devices, in their tiny inscrutable minds and make the adjustments myself if I deem them necessary.

 As it is, how am I to know that the clock took it upon itself to jump one hour without being asked? 

  • I have had confusions about appointments on Google Calendar because I set them up in one time zone and consulted them in another. The Calendar had decided to (erroneously) adjust the time for me without making the alteration  obvious. How nice.  I had already made allowances for time zones.

  • Our vehicles make decisions for us, too, somewhere down inside their microbrains with no way for us ever to know, and they record our speed and other motion parameters. 

  • Our computers and phones are communicating constantly  with remote servers and devices, unbeknownst to us. 

  • Operating systems upgrade and update themselves, sometimes without our knowledge or permission, shutting down and restarting critical processes in the course of doing so, and we are presented with "agreements" we can neither comprehend or refuse -- often presented in tiny un-resizable windows -- by software and services we suspect we need, but have no time to research.

Looking outside, I see we have an inch or two of snow. 

My Nexus 4 is now taking foggy pictures with its main camera.  The other camera, the one facing me, is taking perfect pictures.

I first noticed this fog when I was on NautOnCall and photographed the interior.  I assumed that it was a temporary phenomenon due to a smudge on the lens, but apparently not. I can't see anything on the lens and wonder if there is some sort of interior fog inside.

Discussion continues in the forum.  I spilt one topic as it had morphed into a discussion of what topics interest beekeeping conferences and to what is the make-up of such audiences these days.  It all originated with my surprise at finding that I had misjudged an audience I addressed at a provincial conference in B.C. a month ago.

It seems that the roster of available speakers tends to recycle their presentations, sometimes for five years or more with few changes.  This is obvious to those of us who travel to various meetings and not at all so to beekeepers who only attend an occasional or local conference.

I don't know what to make of this.  Today's world is fast-moving and the expectations and needs of the beekeeping community are changing rapidly, as are the demographics of the audiences. 

Information -- and misinformation -- that was difficult or impossible to find in the past is available at anyone's fingertips anywhere and any time in seconds.  Audience members can be fact-checking the speaker's comments in real time while sitting in the conference and looking up questions to ask or communicating with critics. 

Is it time to overhaul our assumptions about such events and to overhaul our conferences and presentations in content and structure?

Maybe the real topic is how beekeeping has changed in the past decade and whether bee extension has kept pace with and adapted to technological changes.  Of course, we know it has not.

*    *    *    *    *

Today is the Swalwell Fall Supper.  It is scheduled from 1100 to 1400, so why it is called a 'supper' is a bit of a mystery to me.  Anyhow, I plan to go, but now, at 1025, with a half-hour to go, the electricity just went off in town, so I wonder how things will work out.

After a half-hour, I called the power company and learned that it is just our town that is out, and a technician is on the way as of 1031.  It is a twenty-minute drive from Three Hills, so the earliest we can expect resumption of power is right about now.  Of course that would be if he finds the problem right away and the fix turns out to be minor.

Power failure here at home is a big  worry for me when I am travelling.  I also worry about my heating system breaking down in cold weather, but power failures are fairly frequent, and when the power fails, my heating system, which depends on power, is shut down, too.

Power failures typically happen in relatively mild winter weather, caused by heavy snow or ice.  At such times, when the temperatures outside are around freezing, loss of power and heat is a minor nuisance.  However we sometimes have long failures when the temperatures are down near minus thirty.  At such times the loss of heat can be catastrophic, especially if there is no backup heat and if no one is around to make sure that heat is maintained.

My cat is fascinated by the woodpecker that has been working the side of my house the past few days.  The bird is clearly visible through the windows, sometimes sitting right on a window frame, and of course a bit noisy.  I think he is eating houseflies that have gathered there for whatever warmth they can find as the season winds down.

*    *    *    *    *

I decided to find out why my phone is taking foggy pictures and cleaned the lenses on  the outside, then found that the dirt is inside, under the outer glass cover on the rangefinder lens. 

I replaced the back glass on my phone on August 29.   It had been broken for almost a year at the time.  The glass cracked again within weeks and I decided to live with it, covering it with clear plastic film to hold it together. 

I see now that the adhesive failed, allowing a broken corner of the glass to lift enough in my pocket to allow pocket lint to enter.

I cleaned the inside with a Q-tip and the camera is fine again, for now.  This won't last, though. The glass back I bought cracked shortly after installation and I damaged the NFC chip, so this time I ordered the entire back.  I hope it stands up to use.  I love this phone, but its back covering is tender.

I've had this camera for a year and a half now and never used a case or screen protector.  On close examination, I see tiny scratches on the glass, but nothing serious -- except the cracked back, and that hardly matters.  It is mostly annoying. When I had the lenses and screen under the microscope, though, to check for dirt, I did see a few microscopic scratches on the camera lens, so wear does occur.  At some point, I suppose it will matter, but cell phones are almost a disposable product these days.   Besides, they can be repaired. I see I can buy the entire phone front assembly, including the display, for $55.

*    *    *    *    *

The power came back on after about forty-five minutes of outage. 

Fen was going to come to Swalwell for the "supper" at noon, but her staff didn't show up and so she decided to stay home to clean the tanks.  Shortly after texting me about that, she texted that Maddy is driving Bert to the hospital, so it turned out to be a good thing they stayed home.

I went to the hall and had my lunch. The power failed again during lunch but the emergency lights and a backup generator kept things running just fine.  "Supper" was good. 

The whole community was there it seems.  I used to know every country person within thirty miles, but now I know next to no one and it seems my memory for names I did know is fading.  I kick myself for that, but then realise I have not seen some of these people for decades.  I've lived here in the same place for forty-six years.

Now I am back home, wondering how Bert is.

*    *    *    *    *

Now I know a bit more.  He spent the night at a Calgary hospital.  We had texted him from the party and he had been okay at the time, but must have gone in later.  Apparently they released him and he drove home, but then felt unwell and called for a ride back to hospital.

*    *    *    *    *

I decided to check for flights to Grenada from Calgary  It appears at first glance at least that they are double the cost of flights to the BVIs.  Hmm.  This will take further study. I thought  saw better deals previously, but this time I used my phone...

*    *    *    *    *

I had promised myself to set up the treadmill Orams gave me, but allowed myself to get distracted by getting Amazon Prime working.  All this is due to my apparent addiction to The Good Wife.  Once I reached the end of season four, Netflix had no more to offer, but Amazon prime has season five

I signed up for a free one-month trial, but had to arrange to connect through a US IP to use it.  So, I reactivated Express VPN and connected my laptop to the TV with a long HDMI cable I bought some time back.

Sunday night was probably the worst time to test this out.  My my Internet was very sporadic, running at 1 Mbs with some halts, and the VPN server I chose seemed to be clogged.  Nonetheless, I manage to watch an episode.  I really, really need to get some exercise, however.

Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life.
Laughing at someone else's can shorten it.
Cullen Hightower

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Monday November 3rd 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

After several nights of excellent sleep without CPAP, I decided to use the machine last night and slept fairly poorly.  I'm wondering if CPAP does me much good since my AHI is usually around one, and five is the threshold for sleep apnea.

My sleep test back on March 11 showed an AHI of 10.5, but I have never seen that high a number, or anything close, when using APAP machines.  I always wondered about the accuracy and competence of the outfit that did the test.

I do, in fact, have sleep problems and congestion sometimes but it seems that this happens episodically and is not a constant.  It comes and goes.  The CPAP machine did seem to help earlier this year, but now seems to actually interfere with good sleep.

*    *    *    *    *

I see one of my Christmas cactuses is blooming again.  It has bloomed several time this year.  I think that the cooler temperatures in the house when I go away may trigger this phenomenon.

*    *    *    *    *

I had a nap, then went for a walk. The afternoon was pleasant and snow was melting, but due to the DST change, I was out an hour late and the day was ending, so I did a few little things, then went in.

The railway crew were down again in the afternoon with the track leveling machines (right). 

I can tell when the tracks are getting bad from the sound and vibration of trains passing, and they were getting noisier lately.

The spot right in front of my place seems to be a soft spot and they have to level the tracks here quite regularly.  At one time the locos used to shunt here at one time when there was a triple siding and I suppose the constant vibration over many years turned the clay under the roadbed to jelly.

One machine rakes the roadbed rip-rap onto the ties and the other lifts the rails and ties a bit and shakes gravel under, then compacts and re-tests.  The result is a perfectly level and firm track that allows the trains to run by almost silently.

After supper, I took out my AR.Drone and finally got around to installing the parts I bought two years ago.  I had run it into a tree one time too many and a shaft broke.

Once I had the drone assembled, I discovered that the battery is dead, totally dead, it seems.  I had let it go flat and sit for two years and the battery is toast.  Now I need to get a new battery.

Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.
Elbert Hubbard

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Tuesday November 4th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I'm going to Three Hills today, I think.  I could go to Calgary instead, though, since there is a Bluewater Cruising meeting tonight. 

I need dog food.  The bag is empty as of today's feeding, and I need to go to  bank.  It is 10% Tuesday at the IGA, but I hardly need any food.  Maybe Calgary will be my choice.

Come to think of it, Bert is in the Foothills hospital after his heart attack the other day, so I could drop in on him along the way to the meeting.

I have to go to Calgary tomorrow, too, and Drum as well, so I will be putting on the miles. Good thing gas prices are down.  Calgary, for an eye exam, and Drum for a travel consultation and inoculations for travelling to the Caribbean.

In the forum today, there are good photos and discussion about how bees will chew wax foundation if it is left on hives when there is no flow.

*    *    *    *    *

Against my better judgment, I had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, and of course, I was tired after.  I decided I had to either lie down and have a nap or get active.  I went outside and walked around.  I looked at the bees and I looked at the forklift. 

I'm in a quandary.  I don't know where I am going or what I am doing, so seemingly simple decisions are made difficult. Do I  really need a forklift for more than a few months?  I could sure use one now.  Should I build pallets for the boxes?  No forklift, no need.

I wondered if maybe the forklift has reached the end of its useful life.  Who knows?  If I don't repair it, it will have.  What I really need is a Swinger with a bucket and pallet forks like the one I sold when I retired.  I really do not need forklift mast.  The arms and pallet forks are far more versatile.

I lifted a few lids.  The bees look good, but I wonder if my new lids are too tight for winter. 

One of the best winters I had was one when I just put pillows on top of EPS hives and single pallets on top of them.  I lifted the front edges of the pillows a bit for airflow during the winter to remove excess moisture, then sealed them better in spring to preserve heat.

I see the bees propolized the pillows down for a really airtight seal. Do the bees know best?  Good question.  I am seeing a fair bit of condensation up on the pillows, but no water running out the doors. Note the water droplets on the pillow in the picture at left.

My new lids are designed to seal the pillows well around the edges and that is a good thing in spring when heat conservation is essential, but in winter, they may trap too much water.

On some of the hives, also I am seeing some unfinished frames in the top boxes.  That is not a good thing.  I'll wait until a cold morning and just lift the unfinished boxes off, hoping the cluster is somewhere below.  If that is the case, I'll just keep the extra supers in storage if the hive still has two or more boxes.

Then I started the Toyota to check the wipers.  They had quit the other day and still were immobile, so I started searching for blown fuses.  I finally found the culprit, a 20 Amp fuse, and changed it.  The wipers work. It turns out this vehicle has three separate fuse boxes!

My boat purchase in Granada seems to be proceeding.  I have mixed feelings.

I researched a part for my old Grand Caravan online and, on a hunch, called the local parts dealer and discovered I can buy it cheaper at the NAPA down the road than on either eBay or Amazon or even in  the Big City (Calgary and area).  That swayed me and I drove to Calgary, picking up the part along the way.

I stopped at Costco and bought an audio strip for my TV, a zooming and panning IP camera, plus dog food and a roast for Thursday.

Along the way, a shudder developed in the van and I suspect a CV joint in the front end.  The shudder has come and gone in the past, but was very persistent today.  I may have to change a CV joint before I drive this van musch more.

The BCA meeting was at 1900 at HMCS Tecumseh.  After the recent incidents in Ottawa, added security was evident.  The presentation was about four guys sailing a catamaran from the Canary Islands to Barbados.

After, I drove home and installed the audio strip and watched an episode f "Suits" to check it out.  By then it was almost 0100. 

Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.
Arthur Schopenhauer

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Wednesday November 5th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I awoke at 0700, had breakfast, and am now off to Drum.  I'll take the red van since the Toyota has a vibration.

*    *    *    *    *

At the Drum Health Care Centre, I spent an hour with a nurse, having a travel consultation, then received three shots of various vaccines and boosters, appropriate to the Caribbean area I plan to visit soon.

From there, I drove to Calgary. My timing was good and I made my eye appointment with a half-hour to spare. Everything checked out fine. 

Next, I waited around for several hours while Bert was being discharged from the Foothills and drove him home, stopping to fill prescriptions along the way.

Bert had had a heart attack on Sunday and was rushed to hospital. 

He had checked himself into a hospital in Calgary Saturday night for a suspected heart attack, but was declared fine and had driven home Sunday, only to realise that he was unwell and been rushed back to another hospital where they had put in some stents and released him today.

He is walking around and doing things as if nothing had happened.  Miraculous, I'd say.

We had supper at The Mill, and I drove home, watched some video and went to bed.

Along the way, since I was in drug stores, I bought an electric toothbrush.  I had one long ago, but had forgotten about it until Jon was here a while back and I noticed he was using one.

I have never been particularly good at brushing my teeth.  The recommended method is difficult to do properly, and boring. Since food has been getting stuck in my teeth lately and I have been flossing a lot, I thought this worth a try.

I used the electric brush before I went to bed and can see they have improved them a lot since I last had one.  It worked much better than the manual brush and I could feel he difference immediately.

Where we have strong emotions, we're liable to fool ourselves.
Carl Sagan

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Thursday November 6th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Another week has passed. We have our weekly supper here again tonight.

It's windy today, with a Chinook blowing through.  I'll spend the day indoors most likely as I have lots to do: cleaning, laundry, organizing, and monthly bill paying.

I bought a new wireless IP camera the other day and found time to  hook it up this morning.  It's a D-Link DCS-5010L.  My older D-Link camera is fixed, but this one pans and zooms almost 360 degrees.  Amazing.

There is activity in  Honey Bee World Forum these days and the topics are quite interesting.  I don't have time to participate right now, but the regulars are covering things nicely.  Feel free to drop by and post questions. 

Anything I have to say on these topics is probably somewhere back in the thirteen years of my diary already, but when I have time, I drop by to add a word or two.  I always read everything posted.

The best way to find topics in the diary is via this link Search HoneyBeeWorld.com.  Sometimes finding the right combination of words for a search is tricky, but I always find lots of interesting material, even if it is not what I was seeking.

There were just four for supper of us this week.  Everyone else was busy.

After everyone left, I loaded the dishwasher and watched video for forty-five minutes.

ExpressVPN  running on one of my machines works well for connecting to Amazon Prime, so I am watching a more recent season of The Good Wife on my TV via an HDMI connection.

A man with a watch knows what time it is.
A man with two watches is never sure.
Segal's Law

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Friday November 7th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

It's Friday again already. Another month has passed, so I have books to do and bills to pay.

Cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers this morning then a mix of sun and cloud. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light near noon. High 6

Maybe I'll fly my kites today.  Gusty winds are not the ideal for kites, however. 

The force exited by wind varies with the square of the speed, so a forty KPH gust pulls with four times the force of the twenty KPH wind, making kite handling tricky.  Gusty winds tend to change direction constantly, too.  When flying traction kites, strong gusts and veering winds can yank me off my feet.

As it turned out, there was very little wind, so I did not get out the kites.  The day was mild and calm, so I did, however, rewire the trailer plug on the red van and replaced the blower control resistor. I tried to track down the source of the wind and road noise on the drivers side, but had no luck.  I'll need to have someone drive while I listen with a hose to my ear.  I've been meaning to do that for three years now.  Here is my history with that van.

I spoke with my boat broker and am beginning to wonder if he really has what it takes as a salesman.

I contacted the seller directly back on October 27th and then brought Dave in to help expedite things, but now, ten days later, he is off early for the weekend and nothing much is happening.  I told him I expect to make a deal early next week or walk away.

I find I have very little energy lately.  Going out an being active feels good, but I don't have a lot of ambition.  I was much more inspired and energetic back in August.  I wonder what has happened since then.

My helper is coming over at 1630, so maybe we'll get a few things done.  The ashes need shoveling and drums need emptying.

I left him with extra funds to cover work while I was away, but he still has not used up the advance and it seems I have to chase him to get work done.

School is a poor preparation for the world of work because the teachers often care more about a student's success than the student does and nag or go to lengths to get them to show up and keep them in school whether their work is done or not.

Schools are run with the entitlements of the students as a top priority.  As a result, kids get the impression that work will be the same.  It isn't.

Things don't work that way.  Employers are are looking for self-starters and diligent workers.  If people don't show up or work well, the employer may notify them a time or two, but after that, unless there are no other options, the employer will usually just let them go, often without comment.

If asked for a reference for such a former employee, the employer usually won't give a bad reference -- that can cause repercussions if it gets back to the subject of discussion  -- but won't give a good one either.  People hiring understand that a lack of strong recommendation implies someone not worth hiring.  This is known as 'damning with faint praise'.  The slacker will never know and cannot complain even if word gets back because nothing was said.

The above comments are not meant to apply to any particular student. It seems to be the system.  At one time, the schools were run with the needs of society as the primary object, but with time and unionization, the comfort of teachers and overprotecting  students have become paramount.

One of the reasons we retired when we did over a decade ago was that we could see that the kids were getting too spoiled to be good farm employees. At one time, the local farm kids we hired expected to work, showed up reliably, and did an excellent job, but starting around the year 2000, we could see a trend developing and that we could not rely on students or Canadian employees generally going forward.

At this point in time, I don't know of any Alberta commercial beekeeper of any size who can operate with Canadian labour and who does not bring in foreign workers.

 Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.
Alfred Hitchcock

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Saturday November 8th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

We're expecting snow again tonight and temperatures down to minus twenty-three by Wednesday, so I am spending more time outside.

I went out an my intent was to work on the forklift, but I realised that I have to do something with the pool before freeze-up.   Well, maybe not, but I figure I should drain it or clean the leaves out, so I cleaned the leaves out and plan to cover it -- anything but work on the forklift.  I have a mental block against that job.

I was late setting the pool up this year because it is a hassle finding a level spot, then setting it up and filling it. Why not just leave it set up and full?

The obvious reason not to do that is that the water will freeze solid and split the pool.  With a rigid pool, that is a certainty, but maybe with a flexible plastic film pool, it won't.

I decided to take a chance and vacuumed the leaves and bees out so the water will not be too dirty and plan to cover it well with a tarp.  The cover that came with it is not up to the job.  It is too small and either fills with rainwater and slips into the pool or blows off.  I need a real tarp.

Well, if in doubt, ask Google, and I did.  It's all good.

I also picked up the garden hoses and other items around the yard and anyhow, there went the afternoon.

I've mentioned my drone here previously and that it has been on the shelf for two years after an unfortunate brush with a tree.  I repaired it, but found the battery was dead and cannot be charged, so I ordered a battery, today and will be flying the drone again whenever the battery arrives from China. 

During a break from outdoor work, I downloaded and played with an AR.Drone simulator app, ARDrone Sim. While waiting for the battery, I'm finding that the app is almost better than the real thing.  For one thing, I am gaining far better understanding of the controls and maybe I won't crash it quite as often when it comes to real world flying.

I watched another episode of The Good Wife and one of Suits.  Maybe it is just me, but both of them seem to be getting weird.  Of course, such entertainment is just that, entertainment, and quite contrived.  These dramas only make sense as long as we are willing to suspend our judgment (interestingly, suspension of judgment is essential first step in being hypnotized) and once the spell is broken, we say that the show has "jumped the shark" -- pushed our credulity beyond its limits.

There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is
a willingness to contemplate what is happening.
Marshall McLuhan

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Sunday November 9th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

We received a couple of inches of snow overnight and the thermometer registers minus 9.6 this morning with a high of minus ten predicted.

I have decided to get more exercise, but got off to a slow start this morning.  After updating the diary, I played with the drone sim app a bit, posted briefly in the forum (pretty lame post), and ordered several 100-ft siamese cables for my surveillance cameras on eBay.  I need longer cables due the size of this place.   I have cables running around on the floor because they are not long enough for indirect, hidden routing.

Shopping online from Canada is not easy, and actually quite slow since many US companies have not  figured out how to ship here and eBay sometimes adds import charges, too.  That means finding offers that ship to Canada, then determining the landed cost per item.  Chinese suppliers are quite a bit more savvy that way and also offer lower shipping costs.

Somehow four hours passed.  Next, I'll go down to the gym and assemble that treadmill.

Nope.  Email came in and I got busy organizing a BCA event with Nigel Calder this coming April.

We have over six inches of light fluffy snow so far today.

Other distractions came along, but by late afternoon, I got around to assembling the treadmill.  That took an hour or more since the holes did not want to line up for the bolts, but I got it done. 

I started up the treadmill and it ran a few moments, but gave error 66, ran a bit more and quit with error 11.

That was enough exercise for me,  I went back upstairs and had supper.

After, I decided to go east for a week to see Mom.  I haven't been down since September and that was a very short visit.

Usually Aeroplan offers nothing at all attractive in nearby weeks, but this time I found some good flights and booked them.  That cost me $175, but to book the same flights would have cost me $1500 on such short notice.  The best price, with fourteen day advance purchase, is about $750.

I'm flying Air Canada and often fly on Q-400s like the one pictured below with a piece of a prop sticking out of the fuselage after a hard landing in Edmonton.   I'm not worried in the slightest.


National Post Pictures

After all, I crashed my ultralight and walked away, and this plane remained intact with only minor injuries, even with a propeller breaking off.  Nonetheless, I usually try to sit beside or behind the props on propeller driven craft like the little planes that fly from YYZ to YSB since when they break off (which is extremely unlikely) they fly forward.

My plan brings me home after midnight on the 21st and allows me a few days before going to Aliso Viejo for Thanksgiving.  It also lights a fire under me to get things done now.  I have been busy doing nothing for weeks now, but now I have to prioritize.

A friend was concerned that perhaps I am depressed these days, and I guess I am. A bit. 

Fortunately, for me depression is not the black dog it is for some.  I get a bit depressed in fall every year, but it passes and at its worst, I just fiddle with things and don't accomplish much.  I don't get unhappy or worried, just ineffectual.

I took a quiz here and scored eleven, just over the line.  Looking at the questions, I imagine that many people would score about the same.  Of course, one's score will be influenced by how the participant  interprets the questions and also how aware that person is of his or her own feelings.

At any rate, I expect that this trip, assuming that it goes reasonably well, will be beneficial.

Something else that is useful for depression -- or just general everyday living -- is to remember to be "mindful".  It is easy to fall into doing things by rote and being somewhat numb and unaware.  Mindfulness is the antidote.

"We all have the capacity to be mindful. It simply involves cultivating our ability to pay attention in the present moment and allows us to disengage from mental “clutter” and to have a clear mind. It makes it possible for us to respond rather than react to situations, thus improving our decision-making and potential
for physical and mental relaxation."

Something I have observed, and it may have an impact on my sleep problems, too, is that when I am under stress I tend to breathe more shallowly.  Shallow breathing increases the stress.  It's a feedback loop.  I've noticed that I have been tense for quite a while now and have to remember to relax and breath deeply.

When people are uptight, others often say, "Take a deep breath".  Taking a deep breath tends to reduce physical and mental tension almost immediately.  For people experiencing anxiety for whatever reason will find the quickest and most natural relief by simply concentrating on breathing well.  Of course the other extreme is hyperventilation, but that is another topic that does not concern me.

Looking back, and reading through my diary a bit, I see that I have totally forgotten some of the things we did in the past several years.  I was there and did things, but was not relaxed enough to actually be there it seems.

The boat purchasing effort in September was intended to be an adventure to challenge me and keep me occupied, but turned out to be a frustrating energy sink that screwed up my late summer/fall planning. 

I am beginning to realise that my broker was not really on the ball, and I'm still committed to looking at the boat in Grenada, but am inclined to call the purchase off unless things smooth out and fall into place soon.

*   *   *   *

Speaking of black dogs, here's a black dog that can cheer us up. 

Ski hills open this weekend.  I'll miss the opening, but I plan to get out more than a few times this winter.

He who will not reason is a bigot;
he who cannot is a fool;
and he who dares not is a slave.
Sir William Drummond

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