Wednesday December 10th 2014
It's plus five this morning before sunrise, with a wind that continued all night showing no signs of abating.
I had thought of going to Nakiska today, but see it is windy there again and also imagine that with the thin snow base they had when we were there recently that things will be getting scratchy.
Seeing as it is windy here today, I am thinking I should just take out the kites again. I also have things to do around the yard and in the house.
The wind held up and I went out and did several kite sessions, enough to wear myself out. I flew the 3.5 metre three-line trainer and actually managed to make a few runs on skis under that kite, but it did not have enough pull to take me upwind. As a trainer, it's a fixed-power kite and has no "accelerator" or "brakes" to adjust the traction to suit the rider. My Concept Air is a variable power design and the pull can be adjusted by moving the bar forward and back.
I also flew the 5 metre Albatross, and managed to control it better, but I still think it needs adjustment. I just have to figure out how.
I did not feel confident enough to take out he 8.5 Concept Air Smart Kite. That kite has a much wider wind range and more control than the others, but I have not had the best of luck mastering it, and by the time I thought to take it out, I was tiring. Discretion is the better part of valour. The wind readings on my roof showed 15 to 31 KPH winds, so conditions were well within the manufacturers 15-60 KPH ratings.
When I said I was kiting all afternoon, I really meant I spent at least half that time untangling lines. The Albatross has handles, not a bar, and four lines. I thought that I had figured out how to wind them up without getting them confused, but apparently not. The other kites have bars and storing the lines for those models is easy.
Yesterday, as mentioned, I chose a hilltop location that looked good, but had turbulent wind and also turned out to have muddy spots. Not only that, after a while I smelled hog manure and realised that the field had been spread with manure in the fall. The manure had been worked in, but there was still an aroma.
At any rate, the kite had occasionally landed in spots where the snow had melted thin and gotten a bit dirty here and there, so I washed it tonight and right now I have that kite spread out on the living room floor to dry. (This is my medium sized kite).
At 1840, the wind is still whistling outside at 25 MPH. I could still be kiting.
Everything in the
world may be endured except continued prosperity.
Thursday December 11th 2014
It's plus five again this morning at 0515. The wind blew all night again, but is dropping as the barometer begins to rise. The prediction, however, is for windy days until the weekend.
My weather station continues to be confused about the wind direction, so I must increase the mast height. That is not a hard job. I just have to do it.
At 0814, we have daylight, but the sun has yet to show above the horizon. The days are less than eight hours long. The days will not get appreciably shorter now, but will not reach this length again until the end of December. Winter Solstice here is on Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 4:03 PM. Perfect time for a bonfire? I have a huge pile of old bee equipment I've been planning to burn.
Sounds like a plan!
At 0845, the sun is just halfway up on the eastern horizon.
The day is sunny and is turning out to be much more pleasant than yesterday which was overcast and dull. At 1000, the wind has been dying, but I think I'll get out the Smart Kite and give it a whirl. I want to play with it in light wind before attempting to fly it in higher winds. Chart at right is in KPH.
I have company tonight and figure on serving meatloaf and chicken, plus the usual vegetables and rice.
I went out with the Smart Kite and flew it for an hour or two, then the wind dropped, so I came in. In the afternoons things get muddy, so I have another dirty kite.
Today, I resolved to solve the problem. I watched various videos and read articles last night, and, staring up at the kite and playing with the lines, I think I put my finger on the problem. There was a threaded ball on the sheeting line that was there to limit the adjustment and it did just that, to an extreme. It actually limited the range of control excessively to where I did not have a full range of control, no matter how I adjusted the depower lines. I took it off and everything is much better, but the wind died before I could test it in all situations. I'll know more when the winds picks up again.
The wind is back up now (right), but I am not sure I want to go out again.
When I awoke, I could see that wind again dropped, this time to zero. No worries, though, there is lots of wind promised for coming days and I may just go to Gull Lake for the weekend.
At 1600, I began supper. I had thawed some chicken thighs and some ground beef and had some vague idea to make a meatloaf and baked chicken with tomato sauce. I'd never made either that I can recall, so I searched for recipes on the web and read about a half-dozen recipes for each. Of course all the recipes were entitled "Best..." and other than a few ingredients in common, they did not agree on much.
They all sounded like too much work, with measuring, etc, so I just went to work and made both out of my head. I had little doubt the meatloaf would be okay (short of burning to a cinder, how can you go wrong with meatloaf?) but by the time I put the chicken into the oven I was a little worried.
I had added vinegar since it seemed to be in most of the the recipes, and also dumped in a good ounce of crushed chilies, a chopped onion, plus a tablespoon or so of black pepper, and some dried thyme Ellen grew some time back. I added salt and a can of diced tomatoes, a gob of honey, plus butter and a good spoonful of diced garlic. All this went into a glass dish with the dozen or so thighs.
When I tasted the sauce prior to slipping it into the oven at 350, it was watery-looking and I tasted vinegar, 'way to much pepper -- and stale thyme. Oh, oh.
Of course I did not bother to time the oven, but just glanced every so often. When the thighs came out, they were maybe a little overly brown, but when I put them on the table they disappeared completely, and with admiring comments from all. Whew!
The meatloaf was made the same way. A big package (5 lbs?) of lean ground beef, a cup or so of elbow macaroni, salt and pepper and minced garlic, a can of mushroom soup I have been wanting to get rid of, an onion, chopped up, and two stale buns diced up all went into a big bowl, were mixed together, but not homogenized, and dumped into a casserole dish, packed down lightly and placed into the oven with the chicken. I checked the temperature periodically and when it reached 165, it came out. The chicken was done at the same time.
The meatloaf turned out perfect, with good texture and flavour. It was not browned on top, and I did not bother with the mustard and ketchup glazing that the recipes seemed to want, largely because I was distracted and forgot but that is not big deal and the dish was probably better without.
For vegetables, I served diced beets, carrots, cauliflower and sliced peppers, rice, and squash. No salad tonight. Ice cream for dessert.
I had thought that maybe I was preparing too much food, considering I made both chicken and a large meatloaf -- I always like to have leftovers since it is a bother to cook for one -- but the chicken all disappeared and there is only a small chunk of meatloaf left.
Supper went well, and around 2200, after I cleaned up and loaded the dishwasher, I sat down at the computer to read some email. I must have closed my eyes, because when I opened them again it was 2330 and I was still sitting in my chair.
This was a good day.
Paradise is exactly
like where you are right now...only much, much better
Friday December 12th 2014
With the warm winds, our snow has mostly gone. The picture at right was taken yesterday afternoon.
This is the sort of winter weather I can enjoy, and I have been less inclined to go anywhere than if the ground was covered with deep snow and the temperatures were colder.
Around 1030, I went out and flew the Smart Kite for an hour and a half. This kite has a steep learning curve and I decided to experiment more to see how to tame it since it has not been as well-behaved as I expected from using other kites.
I checked the web cams for Nakiska and see that I was probably wrong about the conditions and may have missed some great 'spring' skiing conditions. Oh, well, I am busy with my Kites. but there is no snow here anymore so I'll have to go to a lake further north if I want to kiteski.
If I neglect to take off my long underwear when I come in I get sleepy, and I did again today. After all that fresh air, I found I was too sleepy to do much, so I lay down and slept soundly for an hour.
After that, I has a bite to eat and went out again to fly the Albatross. It is now much more controllable, but still a handful compared to the larger Smart Kite. I then changed the short line on the Smart Kite line for a longer one and a was about to try it out, but the sun went down and the wind died, so that is a something for another day.
I came in around 1738 and fiddled around for the rest of the evening.
Jean has had a bad cold for days now and now she reports that kids have it too. I had planned to go up to Gull Lake, but a Christmas cold I can do without. I am still wondering how I did not get a cold after coming back from LAX earlier, sitting in the seat in front of a kid who coughed and gurgled the whole flight.
A fanatic is one
who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
Saturday December 13th 2014
I've been enjoying the heatwave, but the weather has changed and the south winds are over. We'll have northwest winds now and NW winds tend to be cooler. Nonetheless, if the weather guessers are right, the mild conditions will last another week.
The plus temperatures and south winds have stripped away our snow and made for good kiting, but today we can expect rain and then snow. Being outdoors may not be as much fun.
* * * * *
I decided to have a Winter Solstice party on Sunday, with a bonfire. Currently things look promising, but we'll have to see if we have dry conditions. If the snow is gone there could be risk of wildfire and that could ruin a good party.
* * * * *
I had a strange dream last night, or -- more accurately -- this morning.
One thing that resolves, I suppose, is the question of whether people dream in colour or not.
* * * * *
I realised last night before bed that I need to shorten, not lengthen the kite lines, so will have to see. Maybe the original setup was correct, but somehow I was unable to adjust it to work.
* * * * *
I'm determined today to get moving earlier and get some of the things I keep imagining I will do done. I have quiet a list and have gotten to planning and thinking more than doing.
Most days I find I am reading and writing and generally time-wasting until almost noon. That has to stop.
I'm out of eggs, my regular breakfast, this morning and had a piece of toast instead. Now, an hour later, I am ravenous. Toast simply does not work for me.
* * * * *
I cleaned up the kitchen and put things away and caught up on some correspondence, then I couldn't stand the hunger from eating the slice of toast (and maybe from the two cups of coffee) so I ate the rest of the meatloaf and went back to bed and slept another hour. So much for my resolution. It is 1000 now and I am still in my housecoat.
At 1010, it is snowing outside and overcast. the temperature is a bit above freezing at 0.8 degrees C. and the wind is averaging around 5 MPH. The snow is starting up again.
I'm going to put the carb onto the snow thrower, extend the pole for the weather station, and...
I did none of the above. I did not feel particularly energetic and instead sat at my desk and caught up on my accounts -- almost.
I also did some wash and some tidying.
What happens when
the future has come and gone?
Sunday December 14th 2014
After some time with Lollipop (Android 5.0) running on my Nexus 4 phone, I must say that I am quite happy with it. The phone is fast, easy to use and mostly intuitive. The new power-saving features work and adaptive brightness is improved to where it is not at all obtrusive. After leaving the phone on all night, the battery was still at 86%.
Today is sunny and calm and right around freezing. I'm looking at the wind predictions and they are not too promising. It looks like a good day to go out and tidy in the yard and look at my bees.
Of course, although the WINDFINDER Super Forecast (left) predicts an hour of wind around noon, the six-knot wind immediately died to a few zephyrs.
I then began putting the carb back on to the snowthrower. Seems I lost the gasket, so am now waiting for a silicone film to set so I can finish the job.
I downloaded PhraseExpress Text Expander recently and have been playing with it. I was using QuickText in Thunderbird for signatures, but this is easier and inserts any text anywhere in any program with a few keystrokes -- and more.
I finished the snowthrower and noticed some wind had come up, so went out for an hour and half.
The wind was marginal -- it never exceeded 10 KPH -- and I managed to foul up the bridle badly enough that it took me twenty minutes to untangle it, by crashing the kite behind the only junk pile around, but I also verified that the lines are fine the way they are and that taking off the stopper was all that I needed to do.
This is the kind of day that makes me love Central Alberta. Not too hot, not too cold, bright sun. No worries about bugs or UV. The heating system demand is low. The days are short, but beautiful. Anything above minus ten is fine by me and although I hate the wind for other activities, kiting makes me appreciate it and notice how seldom it really blows hard.
A few months back, the captain's hat appeared in my mailbox, and Friday, the mug. No note, and the return address is just the supplier's address.
These gifts both obviously relate to my interests. Does this mean I can expect a kite or a drone soon? At any rate, thank you, whoever you are.
I spent an hour or so after supper looking at airfares to LA and to Sudbury. I should go to see Mom, and I also promised Jon I'd be back. I plan to go to Jean's for Christmas and maybe several days leading up, depending on whether they get over these colds. I'm thinking that early January might be the time to see Mom, but I like to see Wickendens when there and they may be going south about then.
At any rate, I am confused and find it hard to visualize. I'm probably making it too complicated.
The whole secret of
life is to be interested in one thing profoundly
Monday December 15th 2014
It's minus ten and breezy this morning with fog so dense I can't see across the tracks to my nearest neighbour and I see hoar frost on the trees.
It's 1124 and I have so far done nothing but the dishes and water the plants. I wrote some email and wasted an hour following links from my daily Digg email. Mostly, all I learned was how nasty the Uber management has turned out to be, according to various reports.
The wind is steady and not too shifty, but the temperature is minus eight with no sun. Should I go out?
The wind continued to build and a little after 1400, I went out to fly the Smart Kite again. This kite, my most expensive kite and the most powerful, has been a hard one to learn. This is the kite I will use to kite ski and I need to be able to fly it without looking at it. That takes practice.
I rolled out the lines, and although I was sure that I had sorted them out last session, walked them out of caution and found they were snarled a bit again.
I corrected the crossed lines and had a good session. I can't completely depower the kite, but I can bring it to the ground in the power zone and drop it down the edge of the window. I can fly it in 10 KPH winds without being "Supermaned" (up, up, and away!). I don't dare loop this kite yet since it is a high aspect model and consequently a slow-turning kite. In a loop, the kite gathers power, possibly too much pull to manage without skis or a board to ride away on.
Shown at right are slight bruises and scratches from a previous Superman launch that happened a few days ago -- before I figured out the line adjustment -- and was pulled forward onto my arms. Such war injuries could be far worse, especially without safety lines and gear, but I have two quick releases and I do wear a helmet. I have knee pads, but don't wear them -- yet, anyhow.
When I was done, and putting the kite away, I paid special attention to the bridles so as not to foul them. A cobweb of fine lines attaches the kite fabric to the main control lines. On my smaller kites, there are fewer such lines to tangle, but larger kites have more attachments, and the control lines have pulleys.
If we had snow, I could have been skiing or boarding today. Here is a shot from February 2013.
I tidied and made a bean stew, had supper and chilled for the evening. Well, maybe "chilled" is not right word. I did fire up the sauna before bed. I have not used the electric sauna for a while, a year at least. I find it a bit cramped compared to a traditional sauna, and draughty. I sealed the glass door a bit, but need to seal it better.
I decided to skip watching video, and went to bed at 2100.
It has been my
experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
Tuesday December 16th 2014
No fog this morning so far. The wind blew steadily all night from the south and, before dawn, at 0506, we are at minus 7.3° C. Predictions are for sun and cloud, and wind all day.
I have resolved to minimize my time at the desk today. We'll see how that resolve holds up.
As often mentioned, I should get out and work on my bee equipment and look at the bees. I have been putting kiting first, but should really get around to the bees.
It is less than ten days until Christmas, too, and I should get my plans in order.
This morning I am on a new regime. I ran out of eggs yesterday, and so I tried eating bean stew for breakfast. That worked out well, so I did it again today.
Also, I have been planning to use the treadmill Chris gave me, but found setting up the TV to watch video a hassle and the time it takes to get a video going was almost half as long as the time it takes to do the one-mile walk itself.
I decided this morning to use my phone for video, and when I looked for a place to put it, was surprised to notice a ledge on the console for a phone or tablet. All in all, with my Bluetooth headphones, it worked well and I walked my mile while watching The 4400. (I don't know what I think of that series yet. I have so far just watched the pilot.)
That felt good.
I am pleased to see that at 0830 my blood sugar reads 5.7. That is excellent, if it is correct.
Here is an interesting article that fits with my renewed interest in antiquity.
and another topic of current interest...
It's noon and the wind has been blowing nicely all morning. The trees are covered with hoarfrost, meaning that the humidity is high. No sign of sun yet, and the temperature is steady around minus seven.
I spent the morning rearranging the furniture a bit and cleaning. I have far more to do, but the kites beckon.
I went out and flew the Smart Kite for an hour. The wind was as steady as it gets around here at around 10 KPH, measured on my roof. I'm sure it was stronger higher up as there are quite a few wind shears and eddies due to terrain and the kite pulled harder higher up from the ground than when I brought it down.
This time I had no issues and the session was almost boring. If I had snow, I'd be skiing or boarding as I was in that session on Weed Lake in Feb 2013 shown at left instead of standing in boots holding back on the throttle.
I find I still cannot quite completely depower the kite (without pulling the safety release), so a minor adjustment may still be necessary, however I am gaining confidence and developing muscle memory.
Minus seven is twenty degrees Fahrenheit. I find this temperature quite comfortable if I am active as I was today or when skiing. If there is sun and little wind, skiing can be pleasant as much as another ten degrees colder, but when the sun is hiding and the wind blows, minus ten is my limit. In some ways I prefer this cold to the excessive heat of the tropics.
Seems that whatever I did today, it works. I am getting lots done. It may not be exactly what I intended, but just the same these are things that need doing.
I did a lot of cleanup around my desk area and then watched kite videos until bedtime.
The world only goes
round by misunderstanding.
Wednesday December 17th
No kiting for me today. The wind has dropped to nothing and is predicted to stay calm. The fog is back and in my yard, the trees are loaded with hoarfrost.
The days between now and Christmas are predicted to be mild although the nights will get down to minus fifteen. The wind forecast is for calm conditions.
I'm planning a winter solstice part for Sunday afternoon and hope to flood the pond before then. I lent Ruth my sump pump and hope to get it back today.
My cleanup continues today and I have decided I simply have to get a cross-bin auger set up in the coal bin again. My bin buddy made it possible to leave the furnace for a week at a time in winter without any more attention than an occasional glance that the surveillance cameras.
Wow! It is 0900 already and I have not walked on the treadmill or done anything except (almost) catch up at the keyboard.
I went down and started walking. A mile and six tenths later, I was done. Walking a mile seemed to have made me more energetic yesterday so we'll see what this walk does for me today.
This treadmill has various programs which vary the speed and the ramp angle in various combinations, so I picked one at random. Yesterday, I just ran the treadmill without a program.
To keep entertained, I watched more of the same episode of The 4400. It will take several days to finish it at this rate.
At any rate, I am hoping that getting physical early in the day will break me out of the habit of researching things endlessly on the computer, and get down to some very real, material things i have been kidding myself I will get around to.
From what I see, though, this little bit of exercise is having an immediate beneficial effect on my general all-round condition. Using the treadmill overcomes the excuse I so often use to not get out and walk: too much wind, too much rain, snow too deep... On the treadmill, watching video, a mile and half walk seems to take only moments.
I have wondered about the hour to hour and half I often spend watching videos nightly, especially in winter. It seems like a waste, but I am often too tired to do anything else.
I drove to Three Hills to get some groceries and to meet Ruth to retrieve a pump I had lent her. I plan to flood the pond for skating Sunday and need the pump.
I spoke too soon. After supper, I got ambitious again and spent some time down in my shop working on the bin buddy.
My efforts added up to nothing, but failure is a success of sorts in that it rules out some ideas that had seemed plausible, and narrows the options going forward.
This was a so-so day.
It's a poor sort of
memory that only works backward.
Thursday December 18th
There is no wind in the forecast today and no kiting in prospect for me today, or tomorrow by the looks of things.
I wonder how accurate my weather station is when coated with frost (left)?
I dreamed a bit overnight and I won't relate the entire dreams here, but will relate the most interesting part of the last one I recall:
The pond is a mess. The deer tracked up the snow when the weather was colder, then the surface thawed and froze several times, leaving the rink pitted, with bubbles and with snow frozen into the ice. I'm planning a party Sunday and want to be able to play some hockey and generally goof around on the pond, so I am flooding it.
I cut holes at each end of the pond with my electric chain saw (Yes, I did have a GFCI pigtail* in the extension) and put the sump pump into the holes to pump water onto the surface.
As I draw water from underneath, the ice sinks down, forming a bowl to hold the water that is pumped on top. This means less water s needed than one might think.
I really enjoy this "job". It takes me back to the many years when I sent days I making a rink for the kids. At one time the neighbouring kids came over at night and played hockey by car headlights and halogens from from my workshop.
This (right) may look pretty rough, but compare it to the 'before' picture above. I have only done the first coating of water so far, and its job is to seal under ripples, bumps, snow and air bubbles. Ripples and bumps will remain, but I have to wait for this layer to freeze solid before I can do any more.
I'll be putting on several additional layers since there will be bumps where the water layer is thicker and depressions where it is thin. Water expands a lot when it freezes and the deeper water will hump up. There are also "death cookies" to submerge and air bubbles to cover up.
The next layer will smooth things more, and even up the irregularities further. Then final, thinner coats will deal with remaining flaws, but it will never be perfect. When the weather changes, cracks will form across the surface.
I just realised that Joe comes home from Holland today.
The flooding is going well and I am off to The Mill for supper. I didn't feel like cooking today, so Fen offered to do supper this week. Just as well. I have been busy all day.
She cooked a leg of lamb. Maddy, Lorelee, Bert, Betty, Fen and I had an excellent supper.
I left for home at 2200.
This was a good day.
Early to rise and
early to bed makes a male healthy and wealthy and dead.
Friday December 19th 2014
This morning, I'll check to see if the first layer has frozen solid. There is no sense flooding further until the first layer has set up completely.
* * * * *
I went out before daybreak and walked across the pond. I would prefer to flood early in the coldest part of the day if the pond is ready, however, it seems it is not, yet.
The newly flooded areas are now frozen to the point where they carry my weight and I do not break though the new surface, but there is still water under the new ice in spots. I'll have to wait until the rest of the last flooding freezes before I flood again.
I might be able to flood later today or I might have to wait until late in the evening when the sun is down and the chill sets in, or even tomorrow.
I have to be careful to allow enough time for the last layer to freeze hard. If I flood on Saturday, there is always the chance that the last layer might not freeze by Sunday unless that layer is very thin. I also have to remember that the weather forecast is just that, a forecast, and that the real weather is often different from the predictions.
After writing that, I went out again, checked the surface again and realised that although there are soft spots, most of the flooded surface is frozen solid -- although only an hour before it seemed soft -- and that I have the opportunity to fill some of the imperfections while the temperature is still minus eight, so I did a quick, thin flood.
The pond, once it freezes, is now good enough for skating now although I should yet break and fill a few bubbles. That is a job for a garden hose and nozzle.
I'll do another complete flood or two, too to smooth the pond surface right out. Around the edges there are some bumps as can be seen in the picture at the right above, but they really don't matter and another flood or two will eliminate them. I may be able to do some more in an hour or two. We'll see.
Entrapped snow and air are visible in the pictures. Once covered with an inch of new ice, they will continue to be visible for some time. Other than a few bubbles that I will break and fill, the air and snow below the surface have no effect on the skating surface.
An hour later, I could see the surface had frozen again and gave the pond another quick flood, concentrating on the roughest areas..
Well, I'm almost done. the water kept freezing, so I flooded again, including a fairly deep flood on the west end where there had been a lot of drifts. Now it just has to freeze solid. I may do one more flood before Sunday, but may not.
I've been a bit of a rink fanatic the past two days, but present, I am re-designing the bin auger, affectionately known as my bin buddy. I'll be relying on it to keep the furnace stoked while I am away in the new year. Of course my friends will be here to take care of things, but the cross auger eliminates some hard work and makes maintenance a weekly chore not a job that must be done every day or two.
While I was waiting between floods, I searched for a gear motor to drive the auger. The reasons the auger is out of service is that the one I was using failed and I have to re-design to employ a different design since the motor I was using was one of a kind.
Elijah is coming today to do some chores, so I cleaned up where I was working on the bin auger. He came and did the furnace and left.
I had supper and found I was tired, so had a nap, then watched kite video for an hour.
Tonight is predicted to drop to minus ten, but so far the temperature is rising, not falling. It is risky relying on the weather guessers when flooding a rink. I just hope we get the minus ten tonight. Tomorrow is suppose to get up to freezing -- or thawing depending on how you care to look at it, with the night falling to minus nine again, so if there is any truth to the forecast, all should be well, but there is still some water under the surface ice in spots.
By all means marry;
if you get a good wife, you'll be happy.
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