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Thursday November 20th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

We're experiencing heavy snow here in Greater Sudbury.  I wonder if my flights will be on time.


View of Ramsey Lake from the living room at 1207

I got around to looking at the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - 30 Tips and Tricks video that Bob mentioned and am impressed.  Maybe I'll reconsider the Nexus 6.

I managed to check in for my flights, but not before I discovered that Thunderbird had lost my "Flights" folder with the confirmation email.  Fortunately I had some info in Evernote. 

The folder loss appears to be permanent as the emails appear to have all disappeared on Gmail's web page as well.  It seems that Thunderbird has some serious flaws.  Sometimes searches do not turn up emails that are actually there, if the indexes have not completed updating.  It is frustrating.

I am here at 1207 all day, getting ready to go.  I have lots of little things to do before I go.

After lunch I packed up in laundry, and managed to put my van in the garage. Sid's boat is no longer there, but the neighbour's garden tractor is now in there.  I did finally manage to get the van in, with barely inches to spare.

Bill came by at 4 o'clock to drive me to the airport.  Along the way I returned several items to the stores and we had supper at Gonga's in Garson.

We arrived at the airport early, so we went to the airport bar for a beer. Beer usually puts me to sleep. I drank two Steam Whistles in hopes that I would sleep all the way to Calgary.  This flight is a semi-redeye as it turns out.

I didn't sleep at all on the flight to Toronto or the flight to Calgary, though, beyond maybe a half-hour or so.  The first leg went smoothly and after an hour and a half wait in YYZ, I was on the Calgary flight scheduled to arrive at YYC around 1 AM MST.  That's 3 AM Sudbury time.

The movie selection had not changed much but but I found one that looked interesting, so I watched Anatomy of a Murder (1959), and it turned out to be a pretty good flick.

We arrived in Calgary pretty much on time and I caught a lift to my van and arrived back home around 0300.  I again noticed vibration as I drove.  The ride into YYC a week earlier had been smooth.

Once home, I looked at the mail and did a few odds and ends. then went to bed at 0400.

It's good to be home. I very much enjoyed the trip but it was very good to be back and, of course, the cat was ecstatic to see me.

The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance.
Robert R. Coveyou

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Friday November 21st 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

The phone woke me at 0900, so I got up.  Then the power went off, so I called the tire shop about the vibration that had showed up again and was told that they could take me around eleven, so I drove to town to kill time until the lights came back on.  I'm having people over tonight for supper and figured I 'd get some groceries while the work was being done.

I dropped the car off and walked over to get groceries.  An hour later, when the van should have been about ready, I phoned the shop and they still had not started on the van.  They said it would be an hour and half yet.  That was what they promised when I had brought it in an hour before.

I had brought the van in to have the tires checked, balanced and rotated. Kal Tire promises this a free service for the life of any tires bought there.  Since I had noticed vibration, I figured that it is about time or that maybe the CV joints were getting slack and the tire rotation and general checkup would fix or identify the problem.

The tire pressure light had come on while I was driving up and when I arrived at the shop I could see a low rear tire, so that definitely had to be fixed.

Not willing to take a chance they would keep their word this time, and with things to do at home, I told them that I had not planned to spend the whole day in town waiting; please fix the low tire immediately and forget the rest.

They said they could not get the van into a bay for a while.  I said that they could pull the wheel off where the van was sitting, and to get hustling.  Today was mild, so working outdoors was not a hardship.

I was annoyed by then and the person on the phone could tell.

This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened with that shop.   It seems that this shop has no respect for my time.

The rotation and balance is a free service, so they are in no hurry to do it.

When I got to the shop, the tire was being taken off and being repaired.  It took a few minutes and I took the opportunity to tell the manager what I thought.  He started arguing and even said that if I was not happy with his shop I could go up the road to Trochu.

He realised that he shouldn't have said that, as I politely gave him a tune-up on the spot.  He started to argue again but quit.  When I was done, he did not have anything more to say and I drove away.

It seems that the vibration that worried me was from the low tire.  Low rear tires usually don't cause that sort of shaking, but after the tire was repaired the van was a smooth as ever on the way home.

The problem is fixed, so I'm happy.  I'm going to have to have another chat with the tire shop manager, though.  I've had about enough of this second-class treatment.

I have a lot of leverage.  I can go to social media or call the corporate offices to complain, but I don't want to do damage.  I want to fix the problem with their unreliable scheduling.   He is a good enough guy.  I'm guessing that he's just over his depth in his job.  My goal is not to hurt him, but just to have work done when they say they will do it.  I can't be expected to spend three hours in Three Hills just to have a half-hour job done.

I got home and made supper.  Fen, Maddy and Betty came over.  Nobody knew where Bert was.  Carolyn begged off as she had to watch her granddaughter play volleyball and Meijers were not able to come as they had to go  -- as it happens -- to a tire shop in Stettler.  Seems today was tire day.

You can live to be a hundred if you give up all
 the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.
Woody Allen

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Saturday November 22nd 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

So far, this is a dull day.  Elijah is coming over this morning to work for an hour before going to The Mill.

He came over and worked for an hour.  I am catching up on things around here and getting ready to leave again on Monday.

While I was away, the new back for my phone that I had ordered on eBay had arrived in the mail, so I installed it.  The job was quite simple and the phone works just fine.  The only trick was getting the screws out.  The screws have a tiny torx head. 

I filed down a small screwdriver and they came out without any problems.  Replacing the back was simply a matter of prying gently all around the edge, transferring the buttons to the new back and snapping the new back onto the phone.

I see I can replace the battery if I ever need to.  I put the screws back in when I finished, although the back would stay on just as well without them.

I'm working at the desk today and expecting Joe and Oene here for supper.

 Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical.
Yogi Berra

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Sunday November 23rd 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I woke up early this morning and discovered that Evernote on one of my two desktop computers had apparently lost about one third of my 1000 notes and my shortcuts.

I had re-organised my notes quite drastically yesterday and apparently some gear somewhere deep in the software running on  Evernote's servers or a local copy skipped a cog.

I immediately messaged Evernote support since I have a premium (paid) account and am entitled to support.  An automatic reply email immediately informed me that support is closed on holidays and weekends!  That is pretty bad service in this 24/7 world.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and turned off sync right away on the good copy that appeared to have all the notes, and shut down the the deficient version on the other machine so it would not propagate its errors back to to the server.

Then I renamed the defective database folder on the problem machine and copied the good database across the network into its place.  When I re-started Evernote on the problematic computer, my notes were all there and I could only see one minor issue: one misplaced tag.

After a bit more work confirming that everything corresponded on all  machines and on my phone app, and after tidying up some more, I think that the problems are solved.

It seems that software cannot be trusted these days.  As software becomes more and more complex and more and more interconnected, the probabilities of data loss increase.

Thunderbird lost some important folders the other day and they appeared to be are irretrievably gone since everything syncs to the cloud and what is deleted locally is deleted there.  I suppose I could back up the email folder periodically, but it is huge.

Maybe I can contact the NSA and get my data back?  I'm sure they must have at least one copy somewhere.

It's turned to be a dull day. one of those days when things look dirty, and the house was badly in need of vacuuming again. 

I vacuumed three weeks ago, but the dust, dog hair, and plant litter have accumulated again, even though I was away eight days of that three weeks.

I've been trying to put the housework off, but could not stand the litter any longer. The whole place was not just slightly in need of work, but really in need of work, so I vacuumed the whole upstairs and the front stairs again.  I did some laundry, too.

I'm off to The Mill for supper tonight.  That makes three nights in a row where I either had company or went out.

(Later) I (happily) discovered that I have falsely accused Thunderbird of losing data.  I found the missing folder.

The folder had moved to the archives, further down in the confusing Thunderbird filing system, and I guess indexing had not yet found and indexed them in the new location when I last searched.

During the time that the emails were not yet found by indexing, the folder label disappeared from the Gmail web page making it appear the contents were gone, although the emails actually remained.

Now, with indexing completed (I think) everything is back. 

At any rate, I found the confirmation emails for my upcoming trip.

In the afternoon, I repotted my favourite monstera deliciosa.  It was not doing well since its last repotting and I see the roots have rotted.  Not good.  I hope it recovers.

I also reconfigured the security cameras for better viewing.   They have a lot of good features such as sending emails when motion is detected and I can watch the coal level and the temperature.   All in all, the various cameras do a decent job of keeping me up to date on what is happening at home when I'm away.

You don't get anything clean without getting something else dirty.
Cecil Baxter

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Monday November 24th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

On thinking things over, it seems that the recent problems I had with software -- Evernote and Thunderbird -- in both cases had to do with moving folders or changing tags in a large data storage on a wholesale level.  In each case, the indexing could not keep up, and in one case serious errors were made in synchronizing the various copies.

  • In the case of Evernote, when I was done reorganizing my notebooks and tags, the data shown on each of two Windows 7 laptops, the Evernote website, and my Android smartphone differed.  On one laptop, one third of my notes were missing! 

    Even though I had closed all but one copy of Evernote on one laptop while moving and re-tagging notes, Evernote failed to sync accurately when the second machine started and the phone also did not quite get it right either.

    This happening could have been serious if propagated to the other devices. Fortunately, I have thirty-five years of computer experience and knew what to do. 

    Evernote "support" was useless to save me since they don't work weekends.

  • In the case of Thunderbird, I had remained online while shuffling folders and it is clear that in future I should go off-line if I shuffle folders so that IMAP will not try to update the servers in real time and perhaps get confused. 

    Regardless, a long time is required to rebuild the index files and in the meantime, emails may appear to be missing.

    It is a known issue that Thunderbird sometimes develops corrupted index files and folders may need manual compacting (garbage collection) or repair.

  • Renaming and moving files and folders seems to confuse some systems.  I've noticed with Dropbox that if I delete a folder or file and then create another with the same name, Dropbox has a problem figuring out what is going on.  This may be partly because Dropbox premium accounts maintain previous copies of the data and there may be a conflict distinguishing the new from the old.

My laptop fan ran continuously at high speed after the Thunderbird job and the fan is normally not noticeable at all, so the machine was doing some heavy lifting in the background.  I wondered if the cooling was blocked, but I guess the processors were just working hard.  Indexing is hard work and demands all the resources available.

Writing about that reminded me to blow the dust out of the cooling system of that machine again, so I went downstairs and blew through the vents with the air compressor.  A little dust came out, but nothing like what used to come out of my desktop computers.

Today, I pack for LA and drive to Gull Lake.  Tomorrow, I fly out of Edmonton with Mackenzie for some American turkey on Thursday.

There is discussion in the forum today about feeding bees in winter.  One of the suggestions involves the use of acids in the recipe.  Acid is used to invert the sugars.  Is that really necessary -- or wise?  I don't really know.

I split the topic off from the previous topic and added a quick post suggesting we take a closer look at the use of acids in bee candy.  You can see it here: Candy Boards or Fondant? & Inverting Sugars with Acids? or if you want to see all the previous discussion on HoneyBeeWorld.com, check here.

I have been moving and re-aiming surveillance cameras the past two days and today the 100-foot siamese cables for the system came, so now all my cameras are active.  I have ten cameras at present.  They record whenever they detect motion and can send me email if I like.  I can look at the live video or re-run recordings anytime from anywhere I have internet, as can people I trust.

Carolyn was having problems reaching some of my plants to water them and many  of the plants were in need of work, so I spent a few hours working on them, and then finished vacuuming. 

I had a great day today.  I have been sleeping much better lately as well, so I seem to have recovered from whatever had me down for the last while.  Going East was a big boost, but I wonder if I picked up something low-grade in the Caribbean.

I checked in and printed out our boarding passes and that took a while.  Westjet's web site is a bit counterintuitive and I had to phone to figure out how to print the boarding passes.  All these activities left me running late on my plan to arrive at Gull Lake by supper, so I phoned Jean and said I'll be there by bedtime.  I figure to leave by about 1800.

I left shortly after 1800 and arrived at Orams' two hours later.  In Red Deer, I bought gas at Costco and the price was down to 94 cents/ litre.  It had been as high as $1.35 not too long ago.

Checking Evernote to ensure the notes I need for tomorrow are accessible on my phone, I discovered that the one tag I counted on for the trip had not linked to the relevant notes and spent an hour fixing that.  I have still not heard from Evernote "support".  FAIL.

I haven't spoken to my wife in years. I didn't want to interrupt her.
Rodney Dangerfield

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Tuesday November 25th 2014
One Month Until Christmas Day!

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

We were up by 0600 and out the door at 0700.  The roads were okay, but there were some very badly damaged vehicles in the ditches at several places along the road and from the look of some of them people were injured.

We arrived safely at the airport on time and there was no lineup at customs or security. The customs agent did not think that "turkey" was a valid response to his question about the purpose of our visit and wanted to know more, but he let us in anyhow.

Mckenzie and I should be in LA just after lunch today and Aliso Viejo well before supper.

We are now awaiting our flight which has been delayed a half-hour, meaning we wait here for two and half hours in total.  We had a second breakfast while we wait and I try to figure out how to call forward to Chris's US number. He lent me his Roam Mobility SIM, so now I have to figure out how to make it work. 

I may have to add an APN (Access Point Name) and also get a new Google device password.  These tricks are not well documented and after changing a SIM in an unlocked phone, these actions may be necessary to get data and phone service.

Here is where to get that special Google device password:
https://security.google.com/settings/security/apppasswords

and the Roam Mobility APN info:
 http://www.roammobility.com/support/search/query/apn/

I may have to do that on arrival in order to make calls.  We'll see.

I set up the phone in flight according to instructions and when I cancelled airplane mode on arrival I had a voicemail (from myself, testing) and email.  Bonus!

Walking out of the terminal, we immediately caught a shuttle and arrived at the car rental place minutes later -- and found a long lineup.  The computers were down, but we were processed and out of there a half-hour later in a new Chevrolet Impala. 

We stopped for ice cream, then joined the stop and go traffic on the 405 at 1430.  Crossing to the HOV lane, we made reasonable time once we passed Redondo Beach. 

 

There is an new ramp at the 55 and we accidentally made a detour up to Tustin, but met up with the 133 and arrived at Songbird Lane in good time.  I need to update the maps on my Garmin GPS.  My phone GPS is not working since I did the Lolipop upgrade. 

Android upgrades always cause unexpected problems that show up right when you need an app to work.  There are workarounds, but it takes time to find and apply them.  Another quirk since the upgrade is that Google Play does not seem to be able to install new apps -- including the GPS fix.

I see I forgot to mention the upgrade.  When  sat down on the shuttle, my phone had offered me an OTA upgrade to Lollipop. I know that upgrading Android at critical times is risky, but decided what the heck and okayed it.

I can also see now that I should have known better.  Of course, I don't know for sure that the upgrade is the reason that location services don't work, since I also changed the SIM, but Lollipop is the prime suspect IMO.

If you don't know where you are going,
you will probably end up somewhere else.
Laurence J. Peter

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Wednesday November 25th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept until 0900.  The day is sunny and warm and we are sitting around playing with the Rolling Spider and other toys.

*    *    *    *

After lunch, I drove the kids to the Bluebird Canyon playground, stopping for a snack at a Jack-in-the-Box along the way, then the Moulton Meadows playground.

Then we swung by Aliso Creek Beach and the kids played with the breakers until sundown.  At first they were just dodging the waves as the foam washed up the beach, but before long they were all soaking wet.  Katrina jumped right in.  We had supper at Jack-in-the-Box, where Kalle discovered he had left his shoes at the beach.  The JITB staff did not seem to care that the lids were half-naked, barefooted and soaking wet.  We ate, then drove back for the shoes and returned to Songbird Lane. 

Graham arrived around 2200 and we visited a while before I decided to call it a day.  The kids were already in bed. 

When I awoke for a few moments at 2 AM, the others were still talking downstairs.

I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
Abraham Lincoln

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Thursday November 26th 2014
US Thanksgiving

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I'm up early today and so are the kids.  The adults are sleeping, or trying to.  They were up until 0300.

We flew the Spider again this morning and the kids played hide and seek.  I spent some time trying to get my phone to work properly. I knew when I installed Lollipop that I was taking a chance, especially immediately after switching SIMs.

Android upgrades have given me surprises before.  Windows upgrades usually proceed without surprises, but Android has not been so seamless.  The one Windows upgrade that really did not work out was the upgrading my Windows 7 laptop to Windows 8.  That machine never did run right afterwards.

Minor Android upgrades have been merely inconvenient, with features disappearing or being hidden, but Lollipop has really rendered some essential features inoperable on my Nexus 4, a phone that performed flawlessly on 4.4.4 -- and there are no hints on the web yet.  The upgrade is too new.

Everyone is happy to stay home.  The turkey went in the oven at 0800 and we expect to sit down at 1500 for the meal.  Most of the work was done yesterday, so things are quite relaxed.

We ate at 1500. There were nine of us, four adults and five kids.  The cleanup took a half-hour.

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; 
it is generally the by-product of other activities.
Aldous Huxley

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Friday November 28th 2014
Black Friday

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I'm up early today again.  Things are generally quiet until about 0730 and then the kids get rambunctious.  They were up late last night watching movies, so maybe things will be tamer this morning.

At home, it is currently minus thirteen with blowing snow.  I should have finished repairing the snowthrower, it seems.

Some winters we get very little snow and others, lots.  So far, it seems we are on track for a snowy winter.

Here in Aliso Viejo, the temperatures are a mild 50 degrees at sunrise.  At 0700, the sun is just coming up over the hills to the east.  The expected high is 81.

We drove to the Myrtle Street beach and spent an hour or so playing in the waves with the dog.

Along the pathways leading to the beach, I observed honey bees were working the flowers.

I had left in a hurry to catch up with the others and not brought my bathing suit, so I changed to my cargo shorts, which I did have with me and plunged into the surf.  I'm glad I did. The water was wonderful and I soaked for a while before showering off and leaving.

I seem to recall the water here being colder in winter, but maybe I'm thinking of January. Also, there is talk about the Pacific waters warming recently.  I checked online and, yes, the water today is unusually warm for November, and yes, in January the water is a lot colder.

From World Sea Temperatures
January February March April May June July
August September October November December

By the time I was finished my swim, Graham had left for Sanford and the others for home.  I drove to my favourite JITB for a burger and to enjoy sitting outside, then returned to Songbird Lane.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing.  Nobody went shopping.  In the evening Damian came by to pick up Kaylee and Brendan, so we are down to three kids again. 

The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them,
but to be indifferent to them:
that's the essence of inhumanity.
George Bernard Shaw

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Saturday November 29th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept in today.  The house is quieter now that we are down to three youngsters again.

I'm relaxed and having a great time.  The kids want to go to the Sawdust Festival today and maybe we'll hit one of the zoos.  Sea World has been mentioned as well.  Nobody wants to go to Disneyland.

Observed at: Three Hills -- Issued: 6:07 AM MST Saturday 29 November 2014
Extreme cold warning in effect.

Today: Cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries this morning. Clearing near noon. Local blowing snow this morning. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming light this morning. High minus 17. Wind chill minus 40 this morning and minus 32 this afternoon.
Tonight: Clear. Low minus 31.
Sunday: Sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 20. Wind chill minus 34.
Monday: Sunny. Low minus 24. High minus 17.
Tuesday: Sunny. Low minus 23. High minus 14.
Wednesday: Sunny. Low minus 23. High minus 7.

Current surveillance view
of the coal bin

At home it is bitterly cold, but all is well.  The cold will continue, it seems, until I return on Wednesday.

The day is bright and sunny and at midday, the temperature is up to minus twenty-one.

I check the cameras several times a day to make sure the heat is on.

The kids and I left the house at 1400 and went to Ridgetop Park to fly kites, which we did for an hour or more, then we drove to the Aliso Creek beach again, where the kids played in the sand and I flew the smaller kite.

From there, we went to JITB for supper again and, afterwards, returned to Songbird Lane.

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings,
and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

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Sunday November 30th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Everyone is up early, so I guess we'll see if we go to Sea World or the Zoo, or just hang out.

Mckenzie and I have only today and tomorrow before we fly out Tuesday afternoon.

Tomorrow, K & K go back to school, so Mckenzie and I are on our own Monday.  Last year, our return flight was delayed due to snow issues in Edmonton, so we went to the San Diego Zoo on our extra day.  While the three are together, they show little interest in going to major attractions and prefer to play in parks or around the neighbourhood.

As we look back on November, we can see by the charts below, from my weather station, that the weather in Swalwell has been brutal this last week. The climate chart for our region is at right and normals are below.

Weather should be returning closer to normal shortly after we return home if the forecast is anywhere near correct.


I feel about airplanes the way I feel about diets.
It seems to me they are wonderful things for other people to go on.
Jean Kerr

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