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Wednesday December 10th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

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 HoneyBeeWorld forum has been very active lately.  We have a number of very good participants who have a variety of experience, are open minded, but  critical thinkers and are willing to share their experience and insights.

This is most gratifying and I hope that readers make a point of checking out the forum and consider participating if they think they have something to contribute.  The discussions in the forum  are most genteel and for that I thank everyone. 

I do have a gavel and will use it if needed, but thankfully, there has not been any need, other than to to delete and ban the occasional spam that shows up in spite of the registration process.

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).

Tonight is 'Bees and Beers' in Calgary, a regular Calgary Beekeepers meeting.  I had thought of attending, but it is a long drive each way.  If I had gone skiing at Nakiska, I would have stopped on the way home, but as it is, I lack the ambition to drive into the heart of the city. 

I have decades of ABJ, Bee Culture and other magazines to give away.  I intend to take them to a meeting and see if someone(s) want(s) them.  I suppose I could sell them on eBay (Bee Culture - ABJ ), but it seems like a lot of bother.

At 1840, the wind is still whistling outside at 25 MPH.  I could still be kiting.

My daughter writes books and today informed me that she heard a collection she is in with ten other authors is on the USA Today best-sellers list and that she is on two upcoming New York Times best-sellers lists.

Everything in the world may be endured except continued prosperity.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Thursday December 11th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

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.

I have had problems controlling this kite in the past and have been put on my face more than once.  At least I have not been lifted off the ground, but the power control is not at all as effective as the control on the demo kite that convinced me to buy this one.  This one is supposed to be the same model except one year newer.   Lack of control on a big kite is frustrating -- and dangerous.

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.

I didn't and it's just as well.  Moments after I snapped that screenshot, the wind died again.  It picked up and I considered going again, but I felt tired -- I only slept five hours last night -- and had  a nap.

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.

Friday: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind southwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming light early in the evening. High 7.

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
Laurie Anderson

Friday December 12th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Just like yesterday, it's plus five again this morning.  The wind blew all night, with gusts to thirty KPH. 

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.

Healthy Heart Score | Harvard School of Public Health

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. 

Yesterday, I removed a limiter that restricted the depowering adjustment and that made a huge difference in control, so much that I can now fly it without fear of having it yank me off my feet and "Superman" me.

Today I played with the bar position and concluded that a line connecting the back lines to the adjuster are too short, and have been right from the factory.  I'll find a piece the proper length and then I should enjoy this kite a lot more and feel safer than I have.

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.

I have still not made definite Christmas plans since I have been having fun here.  I now have the Sunday afternoon Solstice party coming up, and figure to go to Gull Lake for Christmas, but that is about as far I as I have planned.  I also intend to go to LA, but the timing is vague.  I had considered the ABF at Disneyland on the 7th of January, but have not decided and early registration is now over.  There are two more days to reserve the hotel at the cheap rate.

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
Sir Winston Churchill

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Saturday December 13th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Today: Cloudy. Periods of rain mixed with snow beginning this morning and ending this afternoon. Risk of freezing rain this morning. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High plus 4.
Clearing this evening. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low minus 10.
Sunny. High zero.

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.

I was downtown in some unreal version of Sudbury, Ontario, and I saw a skunk kit (baby) coming down a wide, slow-moving stream with shallow banks.  It was summer.

The skunk seemed to be standing on something just below the water surface and drifting along.  It drifted up against the far bank and stepped off, at which point I could see it had been riding on a submerged log, no, wait, a beaver, and the beaver also climbed up onto the narrow mud beach.

At that point I found myself on the sidewalk on the SE corner of Elm and Elgin Streets and the beaver had somehow been replaced by a cinnamon bear close by on the same street corner.

I was a bit worried what this rather nice looking, well groomed bear might be thinking, but the bear just walked by me and strolled along unconcerned.

At that point Ellen asked me if I had put money in the parking meter and I realised that it had run out, and I saw a man with a canvas sack removing money from the parking meters across the street and working his way towards my car which was further down the block on the east side of Elgin, in front of a theatre.

We rushed across the crosswalk towards the car at which point the meter guy began hurrying towards my car as if he could read my mind.  Somehow we got to my car (which turned out to be a dark blue 1970s Buick or Olds) before he did, and had some change handy.

As we passed the car in a race to the meter, I could see the red violation arrow pointing up in the meter window, but got there first and slipped an American quarter into the meter and the violation arrow dropped out of sight.

The meter guy said, "You win this time."

I said nothing and woke up wondering what to make of all this.

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.

The meatloaf was not nearly as good after a few days in the fridge.  Ketchup was required.  I'll have to remember to spice meatloaf more strongly next time.  The problem with making meatloaf is that one should not sample it until it is cooked

I dreamed again, but nothing too striking except for an episode where my hive loader went up and up and would not stop even when I pulled off the electrical connection, and then a dream sequence where I was driving somewhere (Gull Lake?) and came across a town I had not noticed before. 

I suddenly realised that I had to pick up something there and tried to find the loading dock.  I was driving a one-ton flat-deck and, even though I was unclear on what the cargo was to be, it involved cardboard boxes and wondered if I had enough ropes and a tarp. 

The building where the goods were to be found was quite fascinating with bright tilework.  I realised it had been repurposed into an indoor mall from some other original function. 

I found the loading docks and was backing in when I found that several vehicles suddenly blocked my access.  One van with about ten men inside got stuck down the ramp where I had to go.  I suggested that the men inside push it up the ramp and when I turned around, it was gone.  Where did it go?  It had driven out through the wall behind it and there was a door where there wasn't one before... and on it went.  No stress, but it was an interesting adventure.

I have no idea why the sudden burst of dreams, and, interestingly, although I seldom -- if ever -- dreamt of Ellen after her death, she is now showing up in my dreams regularly.

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?
Robert Half

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Sunday December 14th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

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.

It's a beautiful day and I am more ambitious than yesterday, so I went down to my shop and got to work. 

First, I extended the pole holding the weather station sender so that it is high above the roof, out of wind turbulence. 

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'll probably find the gasket right where I left it so I'd be sure to find it -- as soon as I have finished reassembling the blower without it.

I wonder if I will need the blower much this year.  We have years when we had no use for snow shovels and years when they are out weekly.

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.

Untangling lines and undoing knots are similar skills.  Beginners often make things worse before they make them better or just give up, but experienced rope, string or thread people look to see how the tangle or knot came about, then reverse the process.  Often as not, the tangle or knot just shakes out if it loosened and is held correctly -- and has not over-tightened.

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.

That reminds me of how my son showed me one of the secrets of enjoying life one day.  We were both trained ski patrollers and as such were trained not to 'lift off', but keep our skis on the snow at all times. 

That particular day, we were working our way down a moguled moderately steep slope and I was not having fun. 

He watched me a while said, "I know your problem. You are trying to keep your skis in contact with the snow. Try looking for good opportunities to lift your skis off and get air.  If you do, you'll ski better."

 I did and the slope was a lot of fun from that moment on.  I also realised how few real good ramps there were. In life, too when things don't seem like much fun I realise that often I just have to change my way of looking at things for an instant improvement in my appreciation of my circumstances

Someone is having fun sending me things anonymously by mail (right).

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.

It would be nice to see everyone during the holidays, but I am not sure I want to hustle away in the nice weather we have been having and how to schedule it.  I was afraid air prices would climb as the date approaches, but it seems right now they are dropping.  I am undecided, but see I can get seats --  unless there is a storm around then.  If there is, all available seats are full.

That is the thing about booking travel around that time of year and expecting to be on schedule.  Last year I was delayed at Thanksgiving and again after Christmas, and that second delay involved an overnight stay at YYZ, and driving the last leg by rental car.

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
 and in a thousand things well.
Horace Walpole

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Monday December 15th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

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?

I'm no fitness or health nut, but here is a website worth reading with a free email newsletter I get regularly.  The writer is a doctor who reads a lot of research, picks the best, and summarizes it for us.

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.

I am careful not to get lifted off the ground.  Although many kiters enjoy being lofted by the kite and make a sport of jumping, I am too old and too heavy to be dropping from any height or landing at running speed -- or faster.

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. 

I now see what people have been complaining about in the forums and the preference by some for inflatable kites. Larger foils have complex bridles that are easily snarled up.  I need to develop a routine to avoid having to untangle the kite every time I set it up.

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.
Abraham Lincoln

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Tuesday December 16th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

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.

I can't eat just anything for breakfast.  Hot or cold cereals leave me feeling lousy later and pancakes or other options are worse.  I have found that eggs work well for me, and have over the past decade.  There are intermittent warnings about eggs, however, so if I can reduce the consumption of eggs, maybe I should.

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.

This morning, I checked my blood sugar on awakening and it was 6.7.  I was using the last strip in a canister, and that strip may be stale, and these readings have a fairly wide margin of error*, but if that number is nearly correct it is too high.  Even my normal 6.2 in morning is higher than ideal.

I had already decided last night when I went downstairs to my gym and had a sauna that I would use the gym more and begin the day by walking, but this reading was an encouragement to follow up.

I am pleased to see that at 0830 my blood sugar reads 5.7.  That is excellent, if it is correct.

This is the first strip in a new bottle, but assuming that the reading is correct, it goes to show that exercise makes a big difference.

Blood sugar meters have been fairly inaccurate and we can see that a 20% or greater error is not impossible.  Whether an consistent 20% error in a particular meter of batch of strips is not clear to me from what I have been able to find.

* See Why Meters Can’t Tell Us Our Blood Sugar Levels "...if we want portable meters that require no calibration or coding, use very small blood samples, with less than 10 second read-outs, the next standard the FDA is currently considering (within plus/minus 15% of a hospital lab test) will bring us close to the theoretical limits of what’s possible regarding accuracy..."

From: Contour User Guide
Expected Values: Blood glucose values will vary depending on food intake, medication dosages, health, stress, or exercise. Consult your healthcare professional for the target value that is appropriate for you. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, standard medical practice goals for a non-pregnant individual with diabetes:
• Before a meal: 4.0 to 7.0 mmol/L
• 2 hours after a meal: less than 5.0 to 10.0 mmol/L

Comparison of meter accuracies from
Competitive Meter Comparison Chart:

I see a new generation of meters is out now due to new technology and regulations regarding accuracy.  It may be time to update to the one of the newer units.

Here is an interesting article that fits with my renewed interest in antiquity.

 There's a good reason for Monocultures

and another topic of current interest...

Should the Agricultural Use of Neonicotinoids Be Banned?

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.
Charles Baudelaire

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Wednesday December 17th 2014
Four days until the first day of winter
One week until Christmas Eve

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

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.

Walking on a treadmill is interesting.  On a treadmill, I cover miles without going anywhere.  Since the scenery does not change, the only thing that changes is me, and I can observe myself. 

When I exercise, my heart rate and breathing change, and so does my mood. One of the first times I was on a treadmill, was to do a heart stress test.  After rushing seventy miles to be on time, and then cooling my heels for forty minutes in a waiting room, I was not in a good mood when I got on. 

I began walking and they gradually increased the speed and slope.  Soon I noticed a mood change and was surprised that I was feeling good, just from walking.

I read yesterday somewhere that to deal with stress on the job, a one-minute break doing something very physical like running up and down a flight of stairs can change everything.  I already mentioned taking a few deep breaths some time back.  Both can cause an instant mood change, too.

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.

"Allen, you might also find that if you build that walk/video routine into your evening it might help you sleep."

Interesting comment.  I have wondered exactly that.  I tend to agree.  If I can't sleep, sometimes getting up and doing things gets me sleepy again.

However, the stock advice is not to exercise just before bed. My personal experience tends to indicate to opposite and it just goes to show that each person is different. Unfortunately, contrary to what some might believe, I tend to be an agreeable person and believe what people tell me.  I have to tear myself away and say, "Whoa, that is BS".

We get all sorts of advice about diet and every other aspect of life, but it really is "one size fits all".  We all know that this does not work and that we have to try everything on and see what works for us.

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.

After my "up" day yesterday, I thought I might have discovered the secret to being more active and enthused about my chores --  walking on the treadmill -- but maybe I was wrong.  By 0600, I was done for the day and had accomplished very little.   The dull, dull day did not help, but I guess that there is no magic elixir.

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.
Lewis Carroll

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Thursday December 18th 2014

Three days until the first day of winter
One week until Christmas Day

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

At 0800,the sun is rising on a clear day.  Hoarfrost decorates the trees and a stag can be seen along the tree line in the distance.  Very little snow remains on the ground .

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 have not been using the CPAP machine lately since I seem to have been sleeping well enough without it, but I decided to try it again last night. 

I don't really know if CPAP helps or not, but one thing I notice is that I breathe more deeply and the slight pressure keeps my lungs more fully inflated than if I am not using the machine.  I think that is a good thing.

I find the masks I have to be a nuisance, however, since they tend to either leak or press on my face.  Both disturb my sleep. There may be a solution, but so far I have not found it.

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:

Since some of my bags seemed to have been lost on a bus and I was getting off before the end of the line, I was giving the driver my cell phone number.   I started to give him an old number, realised that it was no longer valid, started to correct it and realised I could not easily recall my current number.  So I explained to the driver, "I'm having trouble remembering my number right now because I am asleep."


Before (1962)                                         After (2014)

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.

The flooding is going well and the ice is setting up nicely -- not too quickly and not too slowly.

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.

Tripping on one such crack on Lake Ramsey when I was a kid was what broke my two front teeth,  (A girl was chasing me). My parents promised to cap them, but somehow we never got around to it.  Now my other teeth have worn down to match them.

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.
James Thurber

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Friday December 19th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

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.

We only got down to minus eight last night.  Today is predicted to remain below freezing and tonight is predicted to be minus thirteen, so my chances of getting a good freeze by tonight are fair and by tomorrow morning, excellent.  I'd like to do at least one more flood.  the next flood does not have to be as thick, since I have now filled the worst defects -- I hope.

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.

It is possible, too that by walking on it earlier that I triggered freezing.  Water sometimes becomes super-cooled, reduced to below the freezing point, and does not set up until disturbed.  Cases have been recorded of whole lakes freezing over in a matter of seconds.

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.
If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.

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