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Saturday December 20th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

The temperature this morning is minus three point six. We did not get anywhere near the predicted minus ten (right).  I just cannot trust forecasts, even the nearby ones.  I was counting on the cold to harden the ice.  Anything below zero helps, but minus ten is a lot more effective at freezing ice than minus four.

Sunday: Cloudy. 40 percent chance of flurries in the morning. Clearing near noon. Wind becoming northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 in the morning then light late in the afternoon. High plus 2.

Hmm.  That does not sound too promising for the party tomorrow, does it?  Well, the forecast is often wrong.  Let's hope it is wrong this time, too.

I'll ask another weather guesser, The Weather Underground...

Sunday 20% Precip. Partly cloudy. High near -0C. Winds WNW at 15 to 25 km/h.

Windfinder does not think there will be that much wind, though.  Northwest is not too bad since the pond is somewhat sheltered from that direction.

I see the forecasts are changing quickly, though, so what we will really see is anyone's guess.

I slept poorly last night.  Congestion and post nasal drip kept me tossing and turning.  I've also noticed a bit of arthritis in my lower back and one little finger the past two days.  I wonder if these things are all associated or if I somehow sprained the finger while working.  I don't recall doing so.

I'm still comparing the Note 4 to the nexus 6.  Frankly, I don't know why since I am happy with my Nexus 4.  At any rate, here is one of the best comparisons I have seen yet.  Video alert.  Google Nexus 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

I don't much like videos for any subject that can be present by text due to the boredom factor, but many websites like to use video because they can assault the innocent victim with inescapable and irrelevant video ads on the front end. Fortunately, my long-time browser of choice, Maxthon has a video add-on that strips out most of the ads so well that I was unaware of the encroaching deluge of video ads that I discover when using other browsers.

Comparing phablets is a valid use and the above site does it well.  There seemed to be a promotion on the front end, but I was able to skip it.

I went out to look at the pond and saw that there were two large areas of air bubbles.  Where they came from, I don't know. Maybe the surface of freshly applied water skinned over, then water drained from below the skin down a crack and left air or maybe there was gas in the water I pumped onto the surface from under the ice. 

At ay rate it does not much matter how it happened; what matters is what to do.  I lanced the bubbles I could and flooded over them in hopes that I can get enough ice on top of them that they do not matter.  Today is predicted to be above freezing, although the temperature is dropping.  As I write this, it has dropped to minus four point three.

"What does this diary have to do with commercial beekeeping?", you might ask, seeing as that continues to be the title, even ten years after my 'retirement'. 

Nothing much these days, it seems, but there is a continuing thread.  What readers can see in this diary if they persevere, is that we think we know what we are doing, but it often turns out we did not.  That was true when I was a commercial beekeeper and it is true now.

And, oh yes, I found a bee on the ice.  The hives are several hundred yards away.

The pond flooding tale serves to illustrate that point.  I thought I was home free with the rink and now I am into round two, trying to recover by tomorrow afternoon.  Not only did I find air bubbles unexpectedly, but the weather threw me a curve.  We saw this same thing the winter I unexpectedly lost 100% of my seventy-five or so hives.

In beekeeping as with many things, we think we know things, but we don't.  We have narrative that works or has worked, but at some point, there is always a surprise. Beginner beekeepers aren't the only people who believe things that are not true; commercial beekeepers and research scientists also think they have things figured out.  They don't. Nobody does.

Not only that, we are superstitious and fall for lame stories.  An example of products that exploit our ignorance and hope is under discussion here.

Some people automatically believe anything and everything until it is disproven -- and often long after that. 

Others disbelieve everything, often even after a fairly convincing case can be made for it. 

I tend to be among the latter, and the older I get the less reason I can see to become a believer.

I went back out, looked at the pond and decided that maybe the warm day provides a chance to put on a surface coat that does not freeze the second it hits the ice.  I did that and the ice is pretty good, but there are still some rough  spots.

The wind came up a bit, so I took the Albatross kite down to the strip and set it up.  After twenty minutes of trying and several line tangles in the stubble, I could not get it off the ground and quit.

I must have chosen one of those moments in the chart at right when the wind dropped to zero.  When it does that, there is no way of knowing if it will pick up again in a few minutes -- or days later.

I went in and looked at all the work I could (should?) do before tomorrow afternoon and decided that I should get a bottle of wine and watch TV instead, so Zippy and I drove to Three Hills.  I figured I'd get marshmallows for the bonfire and some extra tennis balls for 'hockey', too.  I was driving the last stretch into town when I realized that I had left my wallet at home (This is not the first time I've done this since I take it out of my pocket when working), turned around and drove home.

I spent the evening looking at imgur, and watching a kite video.  Then I checked the forecast.

Sunday: Cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries in the afternoon. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h in the afternoon. High zero.

Wow!  What a change.  Why do I even look at the forecast?  What happened to plus seven and sun?

Today would have been the perfect day, but of course tomorrow is the first day of winter and the reason for the party.

 There is always more misery among the lower classes
than there is humanity in the higher.
Victor Hugo

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Sunday December 21st 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Today is the first day of winter. Winter starts officially at 1603 this afternoon.

A few days ago, the forecast for today was ideal for an outdoors party, but as time passed the forecast changed and by this morning, the predictions are:

Today: Cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries late this morning and this afternoon. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 early this afternoon. High plus 1.

Compare this to predictions of no wind, sun, and plus twelve temperatures that we saw only a week ago.

As soon s it was full light, I went out with the garden hose to spot-fill the remaining blemishes on the rink surface, trusting there was enough cold in the ice to freeze the patches by afternoon, and that proved correct.  A full flood would not freeze solid, but small areas freeze fast.

I then rearranged furniture, tidied, readied things and and vacuumed.  Everything was ready around 1400.

Ruth showed up on time and then Fen and Maddy.  The rest came later.  I suppose that was my fault.  Usually I have evening gatherings and when I have an afternoon event, people are still imagining a supper party.

I had mentioned that this party was scheduled to start at 2 PM, but also mentioned with some emphasis that the bonfire starts at 4:03 PM, since that is the moment of the solstice, and I guess that was my mistake.  That was the number that stuck in peoples' minds.

I was concerned, judging by the forecast, that the weather might overtake us if we did not start on time and that we might end up inside instead of outside as planned,  but the forecast turned out to be largely bogus. 

Although the sky was partly overcast all afternoon, no snow arrived and the wind on the pond remained light.  At one point, we did get (barely) enough wind to fly the small kite in the yard.

While we were waiting for the rest to arrive to play some hockey, Maddy, Ruth and I got a few truckloads of old bee boxes and pallets and set up a fire so we would be ready at 1603.

We lit the fire promptly at 4:03 PM local to celebrate the beginning of longer days and shorter nights.  The coldest part of the year is still ahead, but in a few weeks the days will lengthen noticeably.

After a while, I grilled some hamburgers and we sat around the fire.  As it turned out, outdoor temperatures stayed mild and we chose to remain outside by the bonfire until everyone left around 2130.

 It was dark by the time we had eaten and decided to go skating.  Some of us laced on our skates, grabbed a stick and puck and went out to play a little hockey on the pond, lit by van headlights and my shop halogens.  The dogs joined in and the game turned out to be 'Doggy in the Middle'.

 

Some left a bit earlier, but most stayed longer.  When the rest were about ready to go, Fen discovered that Ebony, her little, old, deaf and mostly blind terrier had disappeared into the dark. Everyone searched high and low and knocked on neighbours' doors with no luck.  They finally gave up and went home.

It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative
without changing a single idea.
Robert Anton Wilson

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Monday December 22nd 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

The mild weather continues...

A text on my phone this morning, time-stamped 9:25 last night, says that they found Ebony.  He was walking towards home on the the road leading west from town.  He had only about twenty miles to go.

Another text, time-stamped 0502 today, says that Chris and Mckenzie are off to Nakiska today.  I don't think I want to go on such short notice.  I have several things to do, including picking up a gear motor and dealing with warranty on my ski boots.  I'm noticing problems with them.  I still have a bit of joint pain.

My Nexus 4 is running well after the Android 5.01 upgrade. The battery monitor (right)  provides an indication of remaining capacity, and is quite interesting.  The automatic Battery Saver also shuts down unnecessary services and squeezes out a lot of extra time when the level drops to 15%.  Before Lollipop, if the battery dropped to 15%, a shutdown was immanent.  Now, several hours remain if the balance is used wisely.

What to do today, now that that is over?  I have some things to do in Red Deer, but I don't know if I care to go. Right now, i am enjoying having nothing important to do.  I may organize my lists and go to Red Deer, and if I am there, drive on up to Gull Lake.  We'll see.

I wrote the ski shop about my problem , then flooded the west end of the pond again in case we decide to skate there again this holiday.  There were still a few blemishes.

Next, I packed and drove to Three Hills, went to the bank for some cash and drove to Red Deer.  I arrived at the ski shop and had my problem solved. 

They had set up the bindings incorrectly and that was what was causing the damage to the boots. 

They had also mounted the bindings a bit too far back, but I decided to let that go for the time being until I have a chance to evaluate their performance better.

That visit to Play it Again Sports is a long and slightly strange story and maybe I'll relate it later.  At any rate, my main problem is fixed.  The existing damage is not going to affect performance, but further use the way they were set up would have caused more damage and also skiing with the bindings set up incorrectly could be dangerous. When  I ski, I ski hard and I ski fast, on steep hills, and I rely on my skis to be set up correctly so that they release when the should, but never when they should not.

From there, I drove to Acklands Grainger and picked up the gear motor.  My experience there was in sharp contrast to the ski shop visit.  Customer service was excellent and the price was less than the price quoted.

Next, I drove to Sylvan Lake to look at a power kite advertised on Kijiji, a 13.5 m2 Best Kahoona.  The kite is like-new and I bought it after a pleasant visit with the owner.  Next, I went to another house in town and bought a small outboard, also advertised on Kijiji.

I'm amazed at how Sylvan Lake has grown since I first went there in 1968.  We spent many summer weekends there windsurfing in the 80s when the kids were growing up and considered buying there, but never did.

I'm also amazed at all the new 'homes' built in tight-packed neighbourhoods that did not exist a decade ago.  They are new and very nice, and many are duplexes.  I assume most are owned by the inhabitants, and can see how the real estate boom in Canada over the past decade looks from the ground.

The young man selling the kite was saying that his work has been slow for months.  He is in oil well service.  I can't imagine things will get better in the next while, and I can't imagine how all these young families will pay their mortgages when this boom dries up, as it is already beginning to do.

In Alberta, history repeats itself every twenty years or so.

Having accomplished my agenda, I drove to Orams, had supper, visited a bit and went to bed early.  Everyone went to bed around 2030.  They are not over their colds and I am hoping I have not exposed myself.  Jean has had this cold for two weeks.

Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.
George Jean Nathan

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Tuesday December 23rd 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I'm at Gull Lake this morning and my plan is to drive home.  I realise now that I will just be driving back here tomorrow since we plan to have our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.

I left Jean's just before noon and drove to Sylvan Lake, where I stopped at Wal-Mart to cross of some items on my list, then drove home.  It's a long drive: an hour and a half. I have not done any Christmas shopping, having agreed with the adults that we won't bother and planning on getting all the kids gift certificates.

The Dodge is getting tired and the tyres are not as good for winter, so I've been driving the Toyota van lately.   Coming back from Gull Lake, I noticed that the exhaust is getting loud again. I don't look forward to fixing it again.  It is a nasty job.

I arrived home before supper and found I was too tired to do much.  I put things away and chilled a bit, had supper, then a sauna.

On my trip, I had bought weather stripping for the sauna door, so I installed it and now the temperature gets up much better.  I'll just have to careful not to suffocate myself.

After that, I watched kite videos and then hit the sack early.

The Stone Age didn't end because they ran out of stones;
the Oil Age won't end because we run out of oil.
Don Huberts

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Wednesday December 24th 2014
Christmas Eve

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I'll be driving back to Gull Lake today for a Christmas turkey dinner this evening.  We may be going skiing in the mountains tomorrow.

Skiing on Christmas Day has been a longstanding family tradition.  We are still not certain we are going though, since the Orams have been fighting a bad cold.  They were better yesterday and that was why I felt it safe to go over, but if some of them are still weak tomorrow, we'll not go.

I have to get some gift cards for the kids and pack.  Frankly, my heart is not in all of this holiday festivity.  I'm enjoying being home.

I wrote a bit in the forum this morning about how easily people are fooled by false logic, especially when it gives answers we want to believe.  If I sound critical and a bit sour on the topic, it is not because I blame people for this natural tendency. It is because I have been taken in too many times myself.

I phoned Jean at 0900 and they are still undecided. The turkey is thawed, so I'm sure we will eat it tonight.  Fairy sure.  Jean will call back in an hour.

I'm going to flood the pond one more time today.  I have no idea if we will skate on it again, but I want to do it.  I got my skates sharpened yesterday, so maybe, even if no one else comes over, I'll skate myself.

I've only used these skates for a few short sessions since I got them a few years back.  They had never been sharpened since they were new, and I wondered why they did not skate particularly well.  Now, I learned that new skates have to be sharpened before use.  Who knew?  Maybe I'll enjoy skating more again.

I'm doing a wash and think I will take a few turns around the pond on the newly-sharpened skates before I flood it.

*   *   *   *

Change of plan.  I talked to Jean and they are still feeling down, so turkey waits until tomorrow, then maybe we go skiing the day after.  Actually, that is a bit of a a relief.  I'm having fun here at home and getting things done.

I talked to Fen, too and am invited over there for Christmas Eve, but I am thinking I'll just enjoy the day and evening here by myself, with the dog and cat.  I have the pond to skate on, the Toyota to look at, a kite to fly, a furnace auger to build, and beautiful weather to do these things in. I'm quite happy with this plan.

I have to decide if I am going south and east, but that can wait.  I also want to go to Mexico sometime for some dental work during the cold time of year, but so far things are staying warm.  I find temperatures right around freezing to be idea for many things.

I just wrote to my friend, Frank to see if it will work out for me to go to the Caribbean for a few weeks on Compass Rose.

I went out and did a couple of rounds on the pond, but had to quit.  My right skate was rubbing on my leg and when I took it off, I see that I chafed my leg badly the other night.  In fact, I had rubbed right through the skin.

Breaking in sports equipment takes time and patience.  There is always something unexpected.  The sharpening did make a big performance difference, however.

I'll have to bandage that wound somehow if I want to skate again soon, and I'll have to find a way to pad that pressure point.

I went out and spent an hour flooding the pond again.  At this point, I make as much mess as I fix and my only excuse is that I enjoy flooding the ice.  I enjoy it more than skating on it, in fact. The day is bright and sunny, right around freezing, with a light breeze.  A perfect day to be out flooding a rink.

You can tell I am procrastinating.  I should be working on the coal auger, the forklift, or even my van, but it is Christmas (almost).

The wind is picking up a bit, and if this keeps up, I may inflate the new kite and see how it looks.  It's a biggie.  13.5 square metres and designed for light air. Maybe not quite this calm, but I have to start somewhere. 

Five MPH winds are below the bottom end for surfing or any real traction, but I would much prefer to fly it on a light day before I try it with any real wind.  I don't want to be lifted off the ground before I figure out how to fly it, and that is a real possibility, not that I am that new at kiting, but I prefer to exercise maximum caution in these matters.

Since this Best Kahoona is an inflatable, I have to be careful where I fly it.  I don't want to crash it into sharp stubble stems or sharp ice 'death cookies' and put a hole in it.

This is a kite surfing (water) kite.  My other kites are foils, for snow and sand.  People use these inflatables on snow, but they are different from the foils I am accustomed to.

I went downstairs to the shop and played with the gear motor I bought, attaching it to an auger section as a test.  I also tested the linear actuator.  I can see that either will work, but not today.  I am not in the mood. I'm weary and watched some video and posted in the forum. 

I'm afraid I am sounding a bit grouchy there in spite of my best efforts to be an agreeable host, and I hope people don't take it personally.  I appreciate everyone who contributes and don't wish to offend anyone.

One of my pet peeves is being cited studies that nobody has read or understood, or for which no one can even provide a full version without paying to read it and find often as not that it irrelevant to the issue at hand, or is simply junk -- and I don't know how to say so nicely.

Oh, well.  Please forgive me and have a Merry Christmas, or favourite holiday of your choice. Cheers!

I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.
Abraham Lincoln

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Thursday December 25th 2014
Christmas Day

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

Merry Christmas!

I plan to drive up to Gull Lake today for Christmas dinner with Jean and family.  I see a little snow is in the forecast.

I slept poorly last night.  The first three hours went well, then I awoke around 0100 and could not get back to sleep, so I tried walking a kilometer on the treadmill.  That only made things worse.

I probably should have gotten up and had a cup of coffee, then sat at the keyboard for an hour, which has always worked in the past, but I didn't.  I finally fell asleep again and slept fitfully until about four, then slept well until 0705.

At that point, I noticed a slight sore throat and thought, "Oh, oh.  Now I have that nasty cold."  The sore throat went a way as soon as I swallowed a bit, but I am wondering, since I was unambitious yesterday and a bit crabby, slept poorly, and have a tickle in my throat ...

There is not much to do before I go: put coal on the auger, re-pack, check the exhaust, and drive away.

I left at 1400 and drove to Gull Lake, arriving there before 1600.  I stopped once along the way and found that my habit of filling up when I drop below a half tank and Gasbuddy.com says that there is cheap gas nearby paid off.  The gas station was closed, but I still have plenty for the rest of the trip.

We had our turkey dinner and went upstairs to watch Back to the Future, a family traditional favourite, then turned in for the night

When a person can no longer laugh at himself,
it is time for others to laugh at him.
Thomas Szasz

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Friday December 26th 2014
Boxing Day

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept nine hours and, although I had slight congestion overnight and a dripping nose yesterday, so far have not come down with the cold.

Everyone here is coughing and sniffing, so we'll see.

We went down to the lake and Jean and the kids skated a bit and cleared the rink.  I put on my boots, but they had been in  the van overnight and were very cold.  I was not enjoying the cold, and the ice on the lake is rough, so went  back to the house.  There was no wind.

Jean and the kids went to town in the afternoon to spend some Christmas money I had given the kids and they returned with remote controlled cars.

Me?  I had a nap.  I'm taking it easy, hoping not to get sick.

An intelligence test sometimes shows a man how smart
he would have been not to have taken it.
Laurence J. Peter

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Saturday December 27th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I slept nine hours again and awoke with a sore throat.  It went away after I got up, and I don't feel too bad -- yet.

I'll be headed home today.

As the year is coming to an end, I am thinking that maybe it is time to wrap up this online diary, especially since I seem to have lost interest in my bees.  We'll see.

I left around noon and drove to Sylvan Lake where I stopped at Dollarama and Canadian Tire.  from there, I went to Red Deer to look for auger flighting, then Princess Auto.  Most of that was a waste of time.

From there, I drove home via Olds.  It's the long way around but I was feeling in the mood for a drive.  Years ago, I drove around large parts of the province when travelling for Lincoln Electric as tech rep back in the 60s, then the Alberta Government s a bee inspector from the 70s through 2010.

I called Meijers and asked them over and arrived home around 1700.  They arrived at 1800 and supper was ready by then.  We had a good visit and they left around 2100.  I cleaned up, watched some video and went to bed.

I was looking for something different to watch on Netflix and stumbled onto Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  It's a twenty-minute show and I found it amusing enough that I I watched two episodes. 

I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.
Joseph Baretti

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Sunday December 28th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

I woke up with a scratchy throat this morning.  I'm hoping it won't get worse.

I see we are back into the deep freeze for a while, but if we believe the weather guessers, New Years Eve and New Years Day should be mild.

I began the day by writing in the forum.  I had posted reference to a study I find interesting and reasonably credible. 

In posting, I also confessed that I am prejudiced because the study in question confirms what I think I have been increasingly observing (unscientifically) in recent years.  (My confirmation bias).  The study seems well-designed to me and is published by a group that in my recollection has a sterling reputation.

I had one response, beginning with, "Honestly? It's a complete joke."  The comments seemed so far off what I had read in the study that I had to go back and make sure that I had not misread the article.   I had not.

I had confessed when I posted the link to it, that I had not completely digested the whole thing in the half-hour I spent on it, but had read enough to satisfy myself that is was well-designed and that the conclusions merit consideration.

With such things, there is a limit to how much time we want to spend and how deep we need to go to get what we need. 

A person could spend days, literally, going over the study and then correspond with the authors to clarify small points and we have been known to do that on occasion. 

In this case, I simply read enough of the study to satisfy myself that the design was good, that the method was convincing, and that the authors are scrupulous and unbiased observers.

How people read online: Why you won’t finish this article.

*   *   *   *   *

Last night, Meijers mentioned a Western Producer article stating what I have been saying for decades.  We already have African bee genetics in Canada, and have since at least the 70s.

*   *   *   *   *

Spot sent me an email suggesting I buy a Spot Trace and get a full refund for activating it.  The device is designed to by attached to items that might be stolen or moved without permission, and if the item is moved, will send out n email and post a series of breadcrumbs by satellite that can be traced on a Google map.

After looking the offer over, I seriously considered a Trace for my boat, Cassiopeia, since I am not getting timely reports from the charter company in charge of the boat and I sometimes wonder where she is.

I might I actually have purchased a Trace except that I could not find out where to do so in the short time window allowed for the promotion.  That got me thinking, though.  I have a GEN3 Spot Messenger with subscription, and I have not used it since June.  Back then, I recorded and broadcast our routes as we travelled on the Boughtons Voyage, and it served well except for the one day I forgot to turn it on.

 If I place a tracker on my boat, I don't want to have to go out to change batteries, and I don't want to tell others where on the boat it is located, for obvious reasons.  I'd keep it a secret.

Battery life has been my big concern.  I figured that the batteries would not last more than a week or so in the GEN3 and therefore did not consider using the GEN3 for that task, or anything more than more than recording trips and sharing reports in real time. 

When I read up, though, I discovered that the Trace is reported to go as long as three months on a set of batteries.  What is the difference between the the Tracker and the Trace, I wondered?

I decided to research the question and here is what I learned.  Apparently, the Trace is just a dumbed-down GEN3 and my GEN3 would work just as well.  More importantly, I also discovered that either will work without batteries if connected to DC power by a USB cable. 

DC power is always always available on my boat. Bingo!  I can just wire the GEN3 in behind the panel and it should work.  Apparently anything except metal will not prevent the unit from sending to the satellites, and the boat is mostly plastic.

So, when I install it, I should get an email whenever the boat moves and be able to plot its travels on Google Maps in real time.

I am getting a strong urge to get Back out to my boat.  The weather at this time of year can vary from very nasty to very nice, but I miss being on board.

Today would have been okay for putting up a kite, but the temperature is just off the low end of my comfort zone and the wind is marginal.  Since I am fighting something (scratchy throat), I don't want to chill myself, so I decided against.

Jean texted me a picture taken from a window at their home at Gull Lake.  Two kiters were out for a ride.  I suspect I know one of the guys.   One kite can be seen as the arc just above the roof of the neighbour's house, lower left, in the picture.

Today is dull and snow is falling.  The clear, sparking picture in the background of this page has turned grey and the shining ice is now covered with an inch of snow.

I'm home, and I am glad to be here.  I could be many places today, but this is my choice.  Home alone, with my animals and my plants and all my Internet friends.

Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves,
even fewer are wise enough to rule others.
Edward Abbey

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Monday December 29th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

No sore throat today, no congestion, either.  I'm hoping the threat of the winter cold has passed.  I can still feel a little tenderness, so I'm not out of the woods yet, though.

My Spot GEN3 has been sitting on a shelf, unused, and now I suddenly realise that it would be a good thing to wear when going kiting.  As well as for tracking journeys of various sorts, the GEN3 is intended for remote tracking and rescue when hiking in isolated areas.   People can track it on a map and the unit can send a rescue message if needed.

This unit is designed to be used in remote regions and can send out pre-recorded email messages by satellite.  It is strictly one-way communication and cannot receive return messages.  It does not, however, depend on cell coverage.

This link shows where my Spot GEN3 is right now and has been while turned on, with history for up to seven days.  I turned it on yesterday and turned 'tracking' on.  It is sitting beside me a the desk, without batteries, connected to a USB charger.

The GPS is a bit sketchy indoors and the plot at right appears to wander around over a fifty foot radius in my house even though the unit has not moved.  Outdoor accuracy should be better, but even this accuracy is plenty good for calling in rescue, which is one of its intended functions.

BTW, if anyone decides to buy a Spot device, please contact me.  We can both get a 20% discount on service for referral.  The actual units cost around $100, depending on the best deal available (Amazon, eBay, local stores).  Annual service subscription is about $150.  More here.

Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time. I must continue to bear testimony to truth even if I am forsaken by all. Mine may today be a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of Truth.
Mahatma Gandhi

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Tuesday December 30th 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

My throat is a bit rough this morning and I have a bit of a cough.  I'm thinking that I have been fighting the Oram cold for the past few days.  I'm also hoping that I can beat it without getting worse.

Recent discussion in the Honeybeeworld.com forum makes me realise (again) how seldom people who cite studies to justify their opinions in arguments actually have critically read or understood the contents of the work they cite, or how seldom those who dismiss the studies cited have actually even looked at them. 

Oftentimes, neither party has even fully read the summary provided (the abstract) --  or even a popular magazine article paraphrasing the work.

Of course, this is just one aspect of a wider phenomenon; people everywhere refer to studies they heard about on the radio, or misquote a few lines from mistranslated ancient texts (some of which could be the Harry Potters of those long-ago times) to justify their own thoughts and actions -- or condemn the thoughts and actions of others.

What is even more curious is how often such pretend proof accomplishes the intended purpose and is accepted, or diverts the discussion from the matter under debate to hypothetical and tenuous matters.

In more serious instances, nations go to war over such fabricated or questionable 'proof'.

What will I do today?  The temperatures outdoors are below minus twenty C. and the wind is blowing at thirteen MPH.  That means COLD. 

This wind would be good for kiting, but I'm afraid that I would not enjoy standing in the wind for long.  There is no snow for skiing, so all I could do is stand and fly the kite, here at home at least.  I could go to a lake, I suppose, but when it is this cold, I doubt I would have much fun.  I also have to consider my cold and that I might make it worse.
 

The reason I am here at home and not in California is that I had intended to spend the Christmas week with Orams, but their colds caused me to be cautious about the amount of time spent there for fear of catching what they have (maybe I did?) and also kept us from doing the amount of skiing we planned. 

The adults in the Oram household have been quite sick for at least ten days now.  I wonder if they have several colds at once, or a series of colds.  I suppose that is possible.  The kids don't seem too bad.

I could go back up to Gull Lake today, and maybe I should, or maybe we will all go to Nakiska tomorrow.  The weather tomorrow in the mountains is predicted to be ideal.  As for today, though, I can work on various jobs around the house, but I am getting bored.

I did the dishes and re-taped the hockey sticks.  I have thought of having a New Years skating party, but am undecided.  If I do have one, I need to know that I will have at least ten people and twenty would be better.  I also have a bit of a cold and am concerned I might get worse, and then there is always the question of weather.

*   *   *   *   *

I've decided.  I'm off to Gull Lake.  I also am thinking I will have a "come as you are" party on New Years Day if I feel like it and people want to come.

*   *   *   *   *

No, I'm not going to Gull Lake. 

I packed, shoveled the ashes, piled on coal, and and was ready to go. Zippy was in the van with the engine running, and I decided to add a quart of oil.  I checked the furnace on the way by and looking in, I noticed the burn pattern was uneven.  I stopped and I observed for a few moments and saw the grate is not turning. 

That happens occasionally due to wear on a drive cog, and I really need to make sure this does not happen again, especially while I am away.  In the process of confirming the problem, I adjusted the timer switch, and noticed some wear on a feeler than could stand repair, so I cancelled my trip.

I figured, though, that even if I don't go north that I could fly a kite for a little while before working on the furnace, so I drove down to the strip and took out the trainer.  There was not even enough wind to make the kite stand at all, let alone fly.

Looking at the wind line in the chart at right (dark blue), guess when I decided to fly a kite on a day that had been windy -- until the moment I chose to go out.

I checked the weather at Nakiska, just out of curiosity, and see that with overcast conditions and wind chill, the minus twelve feels like minus twenty-two.  Just as well we did not go there today, methinks.

Seems the universe is sending me a message, so, I'll relax here, unpack, and get to work on the furnace.

*   *   *   *   *

Although I am just fine for getting around, I found I am too weary and groggy to do any kind of thinking work tonight, so just did some computer shopping and watched video.

*   *   *   *   *

As mentioned, I have had a Chaney Acu-rite weather station for years now.  It has worked well, except when the anemometer cups get knocked off by hail. The humidity sensor also does not seem to work.  Otherwise, it is pretty cool.

The image below left is what I see on my phone or tablet when I check the weather at home from anywhere. The next image is what I see on a desktop computer when checking from anywhere, the second from right is the readout device, and the image at right is the PC-Connect application running on my desktop that sends the data to the Internet.  (These shots are not all taken at the same time).

     
Click to enlarge

I have been thinking it is time to upgrade to the newer weather system with better senders and a colour display, so I have been carefully researching a replacement unit online.

I did a fairly exhaustive online search and have concluded that I would buy the same brand again, but be sure to buy extra cups, anticipating breakage.  I'd also get the colour display unit and an Internet bridge. 

The system I have now uses PC-Connect software and to have data, requires that a computer always be on.  The bridge sets the weather station free from the computer, and I imagine the cost of the power and inconvenience over a few years exceed the costs of the bridge.  PC-Connect is also a crude and buggy program that has given me hours of grief, but works well once set up, with only the occasional hiccup.  I think I can do without the software.

This system shown at right appears to be the best selection for me. Additional sensors are optional and I have to order at least four extra anemometer cups since I'll need them eventually and the shipping on parts is prohibitive.

When you encounter seemingly good advice that contradicts other seemingly good advice, ignore them both.
Al Franken

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Wednesday December 31st 2014

Click here for current conditions in my back yard

My throat is a bit rough again this morning.  It is just as well I stayed home, I guess.

I spent the morning troubleshooting one of Jean's websites, then drove to Gull Lake.  Along the way, my exhaust got much worse and is now very noisy.  I did not investigate, but drove on.

We had supper, then played with the GoPro for a while.  Chris and Mckenzie went out and looked at the comet and the moon.

Then everyone turned in early.  There were fireworks down at the beach, but we didn't care.  We're still a bit groggy from colds.

War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military.
Georges Clemenceau

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