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Sunday February 1st 2015

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Today, I'll catch up on my mail and make supper for the usual suspects.

From Romania:

Hello , Allen

> I am interested in making some pollen patties but I can't use your excel calculator to adjust the recipe to my conditions from Romania . Here we use 40% yeast , 40% soy flour and 22% pollen and the usual 67% syrup . The problem it is with the protein content from yeast and soy because they aren't the same as yours . Can you say me the recipe for 50 kg batches with the protein content that we use here ( Romania ). I want to use them this year but I don't now how to solve the problem with different protein content .

The exact proportions are not important, so just mix ingredients into syrup in the approximate proportions. If the resulting mix is thin, add soy flour until until is right. If too stiff, add syrup. The mix will get harder after a few hours, so take that into consideration.

If the protein content in the flour and yeast is much different from ours, then they may not be suitable for bees. The soy must be toasted. Raw soy is not useful for bees due to toxins which are destroyed by heating. If the yeast is lower in protein, then it likely contains the feedstock for the yeasts and is not suitable.

Boasting about small differences in protein content in pollen substitutes or supplements is a disingenuous marketing tool which can be counted on to fool people because it can be confusing and sounds as if it is scientific. It is not.

Although protein is the main ingredient we seek in these feeds, higher levels are not necessarily better.  What we should ask ourselves is what we pay for the protein we get.  For example, a patty with a 10% higher protein content is worth (maybe) a 10% higher price, but not 20% higher price.

Comparing percentages in patties to percentages in pollen is just plain BS (not Bee Science).  Patties contain sugar and water and pollen, so the final protein percentage is naturally going to be lower than pure pollen.  Duh!  Besides, pollens vary in protein quality and content.

In my mail, in addition to the batteries for my drone, I received an endoscope that I had ordered on Amazon.  It cost $12.59 and works well.  I bought it to look in hard to reach places, but I imagine it could be used to look inside beehives.  We'll see.

I spent most of the day preparing for supper and doing wash. There were fifteen of us at the table tonight and everyone had a good time.  I was finished the worst part of the cleanup by 2100.

Zippy is home now and happy to be here.

I wish I were like Facebook; being able to 'like' and 'share' everything I get.
Ashok Kallarakkal

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Monday February 2nd 2015

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This promises to be a desk day.

After weeks of warm, sunny weather here while I was away, I returned home in time for cold snowy weather.

I did not get a lot done.  I managed to go through all the mail, skim through the local newspaper, accompany the tree trimmer out to look at trees near the power line, fly my AR.Drone (right) a bit, and bring in the van for the exhaust work.

I have to cut out the flex section and measure for the replacement section available at Canadian Tire.  I hope to purchase a joiner section tomorrow in Calgary.

Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.
E. B. White

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Tuesday February 3rd 2015

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I woke up at 0200 and could not get back to sleep until 0500. 

When I find I am in bed, awake, for longer than a few minutes I get up until I am tired again, so I was up for a while.  I went back to bed several times, but was wide awake, and got up again.  As a result, I slept in this morning.

The moon was bright last night and the sun is shining today.  The temperature is still below minus ten, but a warming trend is underway.

Normals for today's date:  Max: -4C / Min: -15C
Sunrise: 8:09 / Sunset: 17:24

The days are now lengthening quickly.  We have gained over an hour since the shortest day in December.

Today, I plan to cut off the bad section in the Toyota's exhaust (left) and go to Calgary for the Bluewater Cruising Association monthly meeting.  I'll buy the necessary exhaust part while in the City, assuming I can find the correct one. 

This is a farmer-fix and requires only cutting out the damaged section and welding in a new piece.  The OEM part costs $1,500 plus labour and replaces the whole pipe from the manifold back.  Installing it requires working on almost inaccessible parts of the engine and risks breaking off manifold bolts, an event that would likely result in having to pull the engine.

I have more than the usual reasons to go to the meeting tonight since I am on the committee to organize an evening with Nigel Calder in Calgary this April.  I saw the talk in Seattle and hope to be able to skip out, but am working on the planning regardless.

I did not cut the exhaust pipe, but did manage to find a source for the part I need.  I also managed to compile and send a list of needed repairs for my boat to the maintenance manager.

I also flew the drone outside.  It had some issues with the cold temperatures and the powder snow.  Control was erratic and at one point, it slithered across the pond on the surface, requiring me to retrieve it. "Fly Aways" are an issue with these devices.  They have been known to just fly away and never come back. That can be expensive. 

At 1630, I drove to the city, stopping at Canadian Tire in Airdrie.  Their website showed one piece of the four possibilities in stock but when I stopped there, they had none.

Fortunately, the CT counterman looked around online and gave me a location that showed all four sizes in stock.  That store was right along my route, so I stopped in.  They had half of what their online inventory showed, and I bought a sample of the two kinds that were in stock.  I'll return the one I don't need. 

It is possible that I will discover that neither fits and that I have to order in a larger one if these  prove too small.  At least I now know where to find this product now, even if it means another trip to the city.

The BCA meeting went well.  We set up plan for the event and then enjoyed Magnus' account of his participation on the Vic/Maui race last July.

I returned home by 2300 and went straight to bed.

All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose.
They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it;
 if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else.
H. L. Mencken

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Wednesday February 4th 2015

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I slept until 0555.  I'm sleeping well these days if I am careful not to drink too much. I am not using the CPAP at all.  If I start having problems again, I may go back to trying it, but the results from its tiny brain said my sleep is quite normal.  There were times when it was not and the machine helped, but that was not the case lately.

It is minus eighteen and windy before dawn this morning.

Charley sent me some material today, and in the links I found the report synopsized below.  It makes sense to me and fits with what I currently believe, so here it is...

---

Diet is established among the most important influences on health in modern societies. Injudicious diet figures among the leading causes of premature death and chronic disease. Optimal eating is associated with increased life expectancy, dramatic reduction in lifetime risk of all chronic disease, and amelioration of gene expression.

In this context, claims abound for the competitive merits of various diets relative to one another. Whereas such claims, particularly when attached to commercial interests, emphasize distinctions, the fundamentals of virtually all eating patterns associated with meaningful evidence of health benefit overlap substantially. There have been no rigorous, long-term studies comparing contenders for best diet laurels using methodology that precludes bias and confounding, and for many reasons such studies are unlikely. In the absence of such direct comparisons, claims for the established superiority of any one specific diet over others are exaggerated.

The weight of evidence strongly supports a theme of healthful eating while allowing for variations on that theme. A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention and is consistent with the salient components of seemingly distinct dietary approaches.

Efforts to improve public health through diet are forestalled not for want of knowledge about the optimal feeding of Homo sapiens but for distractions associated with exaggerated claims, and our failure to convert what we reliably know into what we routinely do. Knowledge in this case is not, as of yet, power; would that it were so.

This is just the abstract. read the whole report at Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health? - Annual Review of Public Health

I worked at the desk all day and flew my AR.Drone in the afternoon.  The new batteries allow long flight times and having two batteries means I have almost an hour of flying if I want.  That is an awful lot of flying.

The drone flies well and responds to controls fairly well, but does make some unexpected moves, some of which result in crashes.  Although the drone is fairly tough, ordering and replacing parts looks to be a regular job when using this device.

A drone can be useful for looking around an area from above and potentially for looking around to see what is flowering nearby.

Flying one is not nearly as easy as one might imagine, though, since the only way to know where it is and what it is doing is to either watch it as it flies or look through its eyes on the screen of the controlling device.

AR.Freeflight is the free app that controls the drone from a phone or tab and allows seeing what the drone sees, right on the device's screen.  Here is a much better one that costs money. ARDrone Sim is the app I use to practice without cracking up the drone itself.

A tablet or phone screen can be hard to see outdoors in bright light.  A hood is a possibility to reduce the ambient light, but disorienting.  Also, what is seen on screen from the drone's cameras is either the view directly ahead of it or the view directly downwards.  The drone can be easily rotated to get a 360 degree view, but interpreting what you see is not as one might imagine and takes a lot of practice if you are not ten years old.  Kids seem to catch on quickly.

There are simulator apps for the Android and iPhone or tabs that give an idea of hard it is to manipulate a drone. They make a pretty decent video game in their own right.

Watch a simulation

If the drone touches something and crashes, runs out of battery and lands somewhere, or simply loses contact with the controller, finding it can be very difficult or impossible.  Drones have been known to just suddenly take a mind of their own and fly away -- and never come back. 

This $300 drone has a control perimeter of about 300 feet, but drones with much a much longer ranges and automatic return features and GPS locating are available, and some of those models are coming into an affordable price range. 

Anyone who buys a drone has to consider the real possibility of losing it, especially if it flies out of sight as well as legal restraints on use in some areas.

The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone,
but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.
Kalu Ndukwe Kalu

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Thursday February 5th 2015

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More deskwork today.  I caught up on my emails yesterday, but have the books to catch up.

I awoke today after eight hours of sleep, feeling a bit dissatisfied.  I also have a sore chest and a light, but deep cough.  I suspect the low grade cold I have had since Christmas.  As for the dissatisfaction, I am burdened with paperwork and am used to more action in my life.  This mood is unusual for me and always passes quickly.

I normally monitor and reconcile all my accounts rather obsessively, but Christmas and travel have kept me occupied.  Yesterday, I was surprised to see that several routine minor entries were last updated in November.

These were entries where I graph my power and heat usage and expenses, and is more of a hobby than actual bookkeeping.  The chart at right reveals the escalating cost of electricity, changes in seasonal patterns, and my declining usage.  The recent August peak reflects the increased use of hot water for showers and dishwashing around the time of Ellen's memorial.

As always, read back a day or so as I often correct or add material to recent posts.

Some of the usual suspects are coming for supper tonight, so that gave me an excuse to make a salad and get ready to cook wings.  The bookkeeping is not coming along very quickly.

I have wanted a wind meter for kiting and sailing for some time now, so me being me, I could not make up my mind and ordered three different units (right) on eBay. They are cheap compared to what is offered locally and I figure that I am bound to like at least one of them and can give away or sell the rest.  I'll leave one on my boat, too.

I see the Canadian stock market is holding up in spite of low oil prices and the falling Canadian dollar.  Maybe it is due to the falling dollar, since that makes Canadian stocks cheap for foreign buyers. Besides, oil is priced in US dollars and the hit to Canadian producers is not as bad as the hit to US producers.

We saw the same thing in the late eighties and early nineties when the CAD went as low as $0.62 USD.  That gave Canadian beekeepers $1.61 in local currency for every dollar a US beekeeper got for the same shipment of honey.  That was very hard on American beekeepers.  Canadian beekeepers had slightly higher costs for imported goods, but most expenses were in Canadian dollars, resulting in much higher effective net incomes.

People who did not understand the true reasons for the suffering of US beekeepers attributed the decline in US hive numbers to mites, and claimed we were saved by our embargo when in truth the Canadian beekeepers who were not driven out of business by the embargo had enough money to help overcome the severe effects of  mites and to overcome the increased costs and risk resulting from that same foolish and unjustified embargo, due to decent honey income when US dollar prices were converted to our weak dollar.

We must always remember that a small change in price can make a huge change in profitability since anything above the income needed to cover expenses goes to profit.  US beekeepers could not meet expenses.  We could and we think we are smart when we were just lucky.  Imagine how much luckier we would have been without the millstone of the embargo around our necks.

This how I procrastinate... Next, I'll vacuum and water the rest of the plants...

Not only that, but the weather has warmed to minus ten and there is enough wind to put up a big kite!  Temptations...

My friends came at 1800 and left at 2200.  I had finished cleanup by 2300 and went to bed at midnight.

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.
G. K. Chesterton

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Friday February 6th 2015

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It's dull and minus 15 here this morning at 0847.

We have accumulated some snow in the yard, but not enough most places to justify taking out the snowblower.  ne exception is the north driveway.  I have been wanting to check and adjust the tires on the red van, and need access to the compressor at the north door, and I was feeling the need for some exercise, so I went out and cleared enough snow to get in and out easily.

The day is overcast, still, but mild at minus ten degrees C.  I may need to clear the back yard, too to be sure the coal truck can come in at some point before long, but maybe Elijah will do that part.

He came after school and did some jobs, but we never did get to clearing off more snow.  I was busy getting caught up at my desk and made good progress today.

One of the jobs assigned was to check the tires on the red van.  I had suspected that the front tires were low on my drive to Calgary and back yesterday.  They did not really look low, but I could feel a bit of drag.  One front turned out to be at 20 PSI with the other being somewhat below 20. They should be at 35 PSI all-around.  The back ones were only down a few pounds.  Tires need to be checked monthly in cold weather.

I put new tires on my van in Ontario two years ago and they were filled with nitrogen at the time, meaning I can only fill them at a place with nitrogen available unless I want to lose the advantages of the nitrogen fill.  As a result, I had put off checking them.  That is a mistake.

When I pulled up to Costco a month ago, after the Toronto trip, sure enough, they were down somewhat, too.  The message here is that tires lose pressure over time, no matter whether they are filled with air or nitrogen.

Should You Fill Your Car's Tires With Nitrogen?

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time,
and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Saturday February 7th 2015

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When I awoke at 0730, it was already light, even though the sun does not officially rise for another half-hour.  We are expecting a Chinook today, but when I search for wind online, I am not seeing much, even down in the south where word was that trucks were blowing into the ditches yesterday.

A week ago today, I returned from Vancouver.  Since then, I hosted  two suppers and got a bit of desk work done.

We are going into milder weather and maybe I'll take this opportunity to look at the hives.

This evening, I felt inspired and tidied up my amateur radio station.  I bought some gear back in the spring and it has been stacked up on the table, with papers and books.

I'm tying to decide whether to go skiing today at Orams' or wait and go up later.  I plan to go to Edmonton for the IPM Workshop and would be staying at their place Monday night anyhow. If I go today, I'd be there two days and then spend two days in Edmonton, for a total of four days away.  I have plans to be away later in the month and should get some things finished before then -- including my plans. 

I have committed to being in New York for March 16th through 21 and also plan to be in the Caribbean from Feb 28th to the 14th.  Before then, I have prepare one presentation and to polish two others.  I also would like to spend time in Sudbury between now and then.

Life is an unbroken succession of false situations.
Thornton Wilder

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Sunday February 8th 2015

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It's minus eighteen before dawn again today. Minus nine is the predicted high.  I guess the Chinook won't make it this far north.  I am not seeing any promise of real wind.

I was looking at the agenda for the IPM workshop and see an excellent lineup.  Click the image for the programme schedule.

Frank Eischen is bound to be interesting.  He has done a great deal of work on many facets of beekeeping problems over many decades.  Ellen & I visited him in 2007 on our trip to the almonds.

I use Lookout Security on my phone. I rebooted the phone and Lookout noticed.  I received this message:

We noticed your device was turned off
Lookout took a photo and got the location of your device to catch any suspicious activity. If you did not take this action, follow the steps below to start protecting your device.

Not the best photo ever of me, is it?  Here (right) is a better one.

I spent the day sorting paper, playing with my drone and the ham radios.  These radios are complex and require programming to function, and there are a number of obscure settings for various functions and frequencies. Elijah came over and sorted the recycling pile and we jacked up the Toyota to see how the flex coupling I bought fits.  I think I'll need to get a larger one.

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

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Monday February 9th 2015

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I awoke at 0815 with the realization that I am stressing about all the various directions I am pulling myself in the next month.  I thought I was relaxing yesterday, but was reacting to a feeling of pressure.  I know that no one is pushing me; I am pressuring myself.  I am mostly happy about what I am choosing to do, but every so often I find myself faced with indecision or (almost) mutually exclusive choices and try to force things.

Scheduling is difficult and when I try to optimize travel time and expense, which I do, the job is more difficult.  Some people just make up their minds and go.  I'm always trying to see what else I can fit in. 

My schedule is a "critical path" problem and the complexity grows with each added stopping point that is fixed in time.  The optional activities and uncertainties complicate the calculations.  I have two this time: New York, and The Caribbean.  I am committed to both and want to work in Sudbury and Vancouver as well -- and then there is Swalwell and skiing and kiting, plus the bees to try to fit in somehow.

Trying to get the best airfares makes the job much more difficult and sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and pay whatever the the price is at the time.  It goes against my frugal nature, though, and I am stressed either way.

I am off to Jean's for the night and the IPM Workshop for tomorrow.  (Programme at right).

The next two days promise to be fun.  I'll get to see my old friends and adversaries.  Old adversaries are almost the same as old friends since we have so much in common. 

Friendship, I have discovered, often has as much to do with time spent together or in communication than on actual mutual affection.

I recall reading once that parents tend to best love the child who gives them the most trouble.  Observations tend to confirm that, and the reason is simple.  More emotional interaction.

Salesman know that if they want to make an impression, the best way is to arouse emotions.  The easiest emotion to stir up in a stranger is dislike, but once that is accomplished and attention is aroused, that emotion is easily converted to liking -- or love. 

That explains a lot of things, doesn't it?

I drove to Gull Lake, stopping at PartSource in Red Deer to pick up another flex coupling.  Now I am ready to have the Toyota exhaust fixed whenever I can get to Drum.

As I approached Jean's, it was dusk, and the roads were snow-covered.  Light snow blew up when vehicles passed, obscuring vision for a few seconds but travel was not too difficult. I wondered conditions would be worse by morning, or better.

I arrived at Gull Lake just before 1800, had supper, and decided that the roads and tomorrow's schedule were such that I'd be wise to carry on to Edmonton.

I arrived at the West Edmonton Executive Inn just after 2000.  The roads were poor as far a Pigeon Lake, but then were clear and visibility was perfect.  I passed several cars in the ditch, though, and wondered since the road did not seem slick.

I had reserved on Expedia, and congratulated myself on beating the beekeeper special price until I realised that I paid in US dollars.  That is annoying.

Some of the usual beekeepers were sitting in the bar and we visited a while before I went up for the night.  At one time, coming to the city was exciting and I would be down there until midnight, but the thrill has worn off.

We need to find the courage to say no to the things and people that are
not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and
live our lives with authenticity.
Barbara de Angelis

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