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Used Apivar Strips After Removal
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Tuesday October 20th, 2015

Today Mainly cloudy. Clearing early this afternoon. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming light near noon. High 14.
Tonight A few clouds. Low zero.

Sunrise:8:05             Sunset:18:31

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I have nothing pressing today. It is getting time to think about removing the Apivar, I suppose.

Contrary to the forecast, so far today is bright and sunny.  As is typical of this time of year, temperatures are predicted in coming days. By Halloween, we often have a cold snap, and by the time the Alberta Beekeepers Convention is held a week later, we have had at least one snowfall, and that week is often bitterly cold in Edmonton.

I am told that the amount of chemical left in Apivar strips is almost zero after the treatment period, but we are expected to remove the strips just the same or risk action by the PMRA if we don't.  Disturbing the hives to do so when the strips are in a lower box -- as they must be for effective treatment in some hives -- is likely to increase winter loss, but those are the rules.

When I returned from the coast, I noticed my weight was 228.4.  I have not been restricting my diet at all lately, and my eight has plateaued.  It is time to drop a few more pounds.

I ordered two remotes for the Mercury on eBay a while back.  They arrived promptly, but were not as described.  They were more damaged than shown and dirty.

I filed a claim three days ago.  So far, I have received no response from the seller. I've never had to claim before, so we will see how this goes.

The day was spent at the desk and tidying.  I made a vegetable/bean stew for supper, with plenty to last a while.

I have been lazy, so I took a bike ride out to Elliotts' and back just before sun down.

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In my opinion, the greatest single failure of American education is that students come away unable to distinguish between a symbol and the thing the symbol stands for.
 Paul Lutus

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Wednesday October 21st, 2015
Back to the Future Day

Today Mainly sunny. High 19.
Tonight A few clouds. Low plus 3.

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Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

The days are shorter now and I find am rising before dawn.

Here is something I have been watching. China has been building far more infrastructure and accommodation than they have been able to utilize effectively for decades now, and with increasing amounts of credit. Credit means promising future income to current activity, and at some point the entire foreseeable future has been mortgaged and no more credit is possible.  We are approaching that point.  What happens then?

Ever increasing Chinese demand for materials has driven economies everywhere around the world to gear up mining and resource industries in expectation of continuing demand.  We are now seeing a slackening of that demand and shutdowns and layoffs are cascading down the line.

The Chinese building boom has been due to population pressures and the need to keep people occupied.  Unemployed people revolt, and this has been a problem as long as we have had civilization. 

The Egyptian pyramids are mute testimony to the fact that the fertile Nile valley of Egypt provided enough food sufficiently easily that populations boomed, and also the rulers understood that the excess labour pool and excess resources needed to be employed if they were to stay on top.

As is the case today, that employment does not actually have to make real sense or be productive, and may be actually very wasteful, but the excess potential must be dissipated on a project or projects that the population accepts as meaningful. 

What people consider meaningful ranges widely between individuals and between epochs, but there are are central values and expectations in any culture and norms.  It may seem inconceivable to us that the entire country found it important to build immense and elaborate tombs for a few of their number and that those involved were highly respected and considered themselves valuable, but most of the respectable work we do today is equally silly and pointless.

Building projects are preferable to war, but war is the inevitable relief valve for the excess if another way is not found to employ the young.  Religion or politics are typically employed to create a consensus and there is not much difference between them as rhetoric and irrational argument is the common method of concealing the true imperative from everyone, including quite often the advocates and 'priests'. 

Anyhow, we are currently reaching the limits of credit and the results are obvious in the drop in world material prices and layoffs.  The question is whether another part of the globe can compensate for the drop in Chinese demand.  If not, then we are in the downstroke phase of the boom and bust cycle and will see one industry after another give up as their savings and hope run out.

Then the loans go bad and corporate shares lose value, and those counting on return of their invested capital lose out.  That is often older people who invested their savings -- or unknowingly had the banks do it for them -- in  what looked like sure and responsible investments.  Banks fail and  deposits are lost.

This has been a cycle throughout history: Overconfidence and overinvestment followed by loss of confidence and underutilized infrastructure accompanied by lost savings.  Eventually confidence returns and builds until the cycle repeats.

I find I am far behind in my accounting, and it is windy out, so books will be my day.  Supper is at The Mill tonight.

I drove to The Mill for supper, stayed until 2100, then  drove home.

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Truth never damages a cause that is just.
Mahatma Gandhi

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Thursday October 22nd, 2015

Today Mainly cloudy. Clearing early this afternoon. High 15.
Tonight Clearing. Low minus 4.

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Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I have bee work to do today and plan to continue the deskwork.

Flu shots are now available, so I may make a trip to town.

I did not go to town.  I stayed chained to my desk , catching up on the paperwork that has piled up since June. 

I also worked on my AR.Drone.  After we cracked it up last summer, I had ordered parts and the last of them arrived on a slow boat from China a few days ago. 

I charged a battery. installed the parts and tested the drone.  It started up, flipped over and broke two of the fancy upgrade propellers  I had bought.  I reinstalled the originals which are far tougher and tested again.  Once again it flipped.  I give up -- for now.  There are AR.Drone user groups on the 'net and when I am bored sometime, I'll have to research what is wrong.

Around 1530, I went out and pulled the Apivar from the hives in the North Yard.

The first hive I opened was full of wasps and for a moment, I almost believed they had killed the hive.  A bit of spotty sealed brood remained, but the death looked like varroa kill to me.   I had noticed high varroa levels in several hives when we held Bee Day, two months ago now, and this hive had one of the high counts as I recall.

The remaining hives were not as populous as I had expected, but a few were strong.  It is hard to judge on a day like today.  After all, too, these are all that remained after I split drastically and got a late start,  so maybe I am, expecting too much. 12 hives now remain in the North Yard.

Does splitting protect  us from varroa?  After years of splitting, I suspect that is just one more bee myth.  It does have a beneficial effect, but not sufficient in many cases to prevent varroa buildup.

At right is a shot of a pile of used Apivar strips.  It's obvious that the bees have been in contact with most of the strip surfaces, but that, even with this contact method, there is some variation in contact and therefore, probably, efficacy. There appear to be areas that were relatively untouched.  Whether this prevented the chemical in those portions from being fully utilized, I do not know.  for one thing, I don't know how mobile the chemical is within the strips.,

The design and manufacture of Apivar could be much improved, especially considering the high cost.  The way they are currently made, in pairs, they have to be torn in two and that is not easy.

Not only does that slow down the job of inserting strips, tearing them apart tends to bend the strips into an arc. As a result, the space between the strip and the comb surfaces varies from full  contact on one side to a wide space on the other when, ideally, there should be a bee space on either side.

The tangs allow hanging without toothpicks and that is not a wise thing to do because it is  tempting to use the tang instead of finding and inserting a toothpick or straw.  The tang hangs the strip from one side only and does not hang the strip straight down.  The result is contact with the comb on the opposite side which limits bee contact.  Contact with comb also would be inclined IMO to increase transfer of the chemical, Amitraz, to the wax rather than bees.

I finished that yard and quit.  The day was perfect for the job, but I ran out of ambition.  Oddly, I really don't care much about the bees right now.

Ever since I returned from Victoria, I have been realizing that I really don't want to be here.  I am stuck here in paradise with everything a person could want, and I would rather be living on my boat.

I'm thinking seriously that I should abandon life on land and head for the south seas.  How to get there from here, is not a simple decision unless I simply walk away.  I own too much stuff that needs my attention and care.

Any time I go anywhere, I am always impressed that my dog is packed and ready to go on the spur of the moment, but it always takes me fifteen minutes to get ready.

Although I am not too ambitious about bees, I am getting interested in Linux again and am installing Ubuntu on a VM at present. 

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War is God's way of teaching geography to Americans
Ambrose Bierce

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Friday October 23rd, 2015

Today Mainly sunny. High 14.
Tonight Increasing cloudiness early this evening. Low minus 4.

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Just like yesterday, I have bee work to do and plan to continue the deskwork and filing.

The weather looks good, so maybe I'll get outdoors for a bit longer today.

> Apivar strips: I removed them after we returned and thought the same then what you write, but then thought: 'the big guys do it and the must know best' and if I say something Allen accuses me of newcomer-bullshitter, so I didn't, giggling when I saw your notes.

Hey!  I was  teasing you.  Anyone can make good observations, but extrapolating beyond the limits of the data and false analogies always deserve to be questioned.

FWIW, commercial beekeepers use Apivar not because it is well-made and economical, but because it works reasonably well and is the only legal way to apply  Amitraz.  Most beekeepers would prefer to make their own applicators, and have, but the PRMA nazis would and do descend on any who do.

As with many such matters, there is a lot of background history and other information that enters into decisions.  Much of that is unknown to newcomers.  Some is sensitive and never discussed.  Some of it has to do with job security for government personnel.  'Nuff said.

One example is the source of smuggled queens when the US border was closed to imports from the continental US. Everyone knew, but no one was saying.  Probably as many queens came in then as now, but under the radar.

The facts could not be discussed openly, so pointing out that the embargo was not doing any good was not possible, and thus misinformation guided the discussion.  Still does.

Other facts are just ignored. Even today, regulators ignore the fact that bees (and Small Hive Beetle (SHB)?) fly freely across the Canada/US border in eight of nine provinces and that SHB has been seen in the prairies much more than once, but not reported -- officially. (See no evil, hear no evil).

The 'facts' that everyone 'knows' and which guide public discussion are often incomplete or BS, and the insiders know differently, but can't or don't say.  In fact, since 'Don't ask, don't tell' is the rule, people don't know what others don't know -- even 'public secrets' -- and assume that everyone knows what they know -- and can't figure out why the others come to different conclusions.

Have you been to Alberta Buzzing?  Lee and his dad are both outspoken, public-minded Alberta beekeepers.  The pages are worth a read.

I reconciled more accounts, paid bills and then went out to work on the South of the Hedge yard.

I removed the Apivar and lined the hives up, facing south in full sun.  At this time of year hives can be moved around without losing bees or drifting.  The bees follow the hives.

There are just six hives South of the Hedge now, and one is down to a single.  I'll combine it when I find another such hive.  Although a few hives are huge and plugged (right), most have moderate populations and some are decidedly small.  We have a warm winter predicted, but I can see losses may reach 50%.  We'll see.

We can see from the pictures how the light has changed from summer.  The sun is lower in the sky now and the colours darker. UV is not a worry at this time of year.

I decided to clean up around the hives and ran the riding mower, then changed the oil.  It has not been run for two months and has been sitting under a tarp outside. When I drained the oil, what ran out looked as if there was reddish water with it, but the oil was not creamed up, and water in engine oil turns to a creamy white emulsion when an engine is run, so I don't know what I saw.

Whatever it was, it was not good.  The mower ran and runs fine, though.  Maybe it is my imagination, but I think it sounds better after the change.  I often notice that after oil changes. 

I also noticed after mowing and after the oil change that the front left tire is soft again.  Must fix it.  A low tire affects the consistency of the cut.  The mower needs a good wash down, too, before winter storage.

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It doesn't make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who's dead.
 Joseph Heller

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Saturday October 24th, 2015

Today Cloudy with 60 percent chance of rain showers or flurries this morning then a mix of sun and cloud. High 8.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Low minus 2.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

Like yesterday and the day before, I have bee work to do and plan to continue the deskwork and filing, however, today breakfast is at The Mill.  Should I drive twenty miles, eat crepes and fruit and visit until ten, or get to work?  Crepes are not what I normally eat or even like, but the socializing is pleasant.

I was awake at 0310 and stayed up for a few hours, then  went back to bed.  When I woke up again, it was 0820 and I was late for breakfast, but went anyhow. 

Rick was there with his wife who had just arrived in Canada from Viet Nam.  After breakfast, I drove over to his place after to look at some appliances he offered me, and then stopped at Mike's for a quick visit.

Mike and his wife, Liz, and his son, Attila, run Global Patties and are well known to beekeepers all over North America.  We've been friends a long time.  Mike and Liz recently moved to the country, buying land and building a home and small farm not far from The Mill.

We walked out to glance over his hives.  He got five singles from me in June and four worked out well.

A few years back, Mike bought some Bee Villa hives from a couple who were at a table across from him at a US convention.

The Bee Villas are an interesting hive. They work well enough, and Mike's bees are doing as well or better than mine by the looks of things, but as I recall, the equipment is a European size, and the boxes are adapted to North American frames, with some bee space issues.  

The promoters hoped to sell lots, but I think the hives were not well received on account of the size issues and the price. 

Bees will live in  almost anything, and do equally well in most cavities.  The question for beekeepers is what is most practical from the beekeeper's perspective.  That decision will vary with various factors having to do with frequency of hive moves and methods, interchanging of parts, cost, extraction equipment, beekeeper's lifting ability, purpose behind beekeeping, etc..

At any rate, here are EPS hives with EPS floors. Does the extra insulation offer any benefit?  I really don't know.  Sometimes, maybe, and sometimes maybe not.  Conditions vary over a year, week to week, and even over 24 hours.

While shelter is important, keeping hives too warm can be as harmful as allowing excess ventilation.  I recall a friend who got carried away and built a wintering box so warm that the bees were hanging out in January.  That, of course, resulted in high losses and dashed his hopes of striking it rich selling the system to other beekeepers.

That brings us around again to whether insulated floors are of any benefit.  As with all things to do with bees, the answer is "Depends".  That discussion has gone on forever, and, without considering the location, what other equipment is involved, the beekeeping system, and the bees themselves, any answer is likely to be arbitrary.

Insulated floors are unlikely to do any harm, but any claims that they do any net good are likely to be greeted with doubt by commercial beekeepers.

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Be the chief but never the lord.
Lao Tzu

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Sunday October 25th, 2015
Two months until Christmas

Today A mix of sun and cloud. Fog patches this morning. High 11.
Tonight Increasing cloudiness. Low minus 1.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I finished the account reconciliations yesterday but did not go out to the bees at all, even though the weather turned out to be quite nice.  Bookkeeping seems like a huge waste of time, but I seem compelled to do it.

I'll see what happens today.  I still have some billing and accounting loose ends to tidy up, and I am not sure if I am having company for supper tonight or not.

I've noticed vague chest pains over the past day or so and, stepping onto the scale today, I see I weigh about four pounds more than  I have been lately. Yesterday, my head felt congested and I was a bit deaf.

The weight gain has to be water and the pains could be my bad shoulder or heart-related. I don't know, but this came right after I worked the bees and mowed grass, again.  This not the first time this has happened and I have to wonder if it is the bee work itself, something in the burlap smoke, or allergies from mowing.  I have not been able to pin it down.

*   *   *   *   *

Recently, back on the 19th, I wrote "I no longer have a doctor. He moved on, as have the other doctors, tired of small town life (and politics, I am guessing -- it is not easy to be brown or black in a white protestant town in the Bible Belt)".

A good friend took exception to that and took it as a slam against Christians, so I am looking at it again.  I think the issue was this sentence: "...I am guessing -- it is not easy to be brown or black in a white protestant town in the Bible Belt".

I thought that was a simple statement of obvious fact.  That is what Three Hills is, and I have heard local people describe it more or less in that way, not without some pride.

As for it not being easy to live there, that has more to do with how an outsider feels in town that anything specific about the townspeople, who may in fact be, and seem for the most part, very welcoming, but not everyone finds the town and schools comfortable.

My son, Jon, took his high school by correspondence.  My daughter chose to go to school most years, but transferred out of the Three Hills High School and drove herself to another nearby town for her final year.  That says something to me.  FWIW, AFAIK, none, if any of their Three Hills School classmates went on to university.  They both did.

If even culturally and racially similar people, like us from out of town, find discrimination in Three Hills, it is reasonable to imagine that others who are less of a cultural fit would experience it too and be concerned for their children.

My point was that sticking out and being culturally and visibly distinct in a culturally homogeneous place like Three Hills may not be a comfortable way to live or raise a family for some.

*    *    *    *    *

After contributing to and moderating BEE-L for fifteen years, I learned that no matter how careful I crafted my words and sentences, someone would misunderstand and take me to task for something I did not say or even imply.

That did not mean that they were not absolutely certain I had said and meant what they read. Often people assumed that I meant the exact opposite of what I had very carefully said, and what I eventually learned is that what people see has more to do with who they are than who I am or what I say or try to say.

An ink blot is just an ink blot.  Even though nothing obviously is intended  -- or can be intended -- in its creation, different people see different meanings in the same blob.  Some people are very convinced they see what they imagine, and some even believe there is intelligence behind how the blot forms.

(That is a whole different topic.  For now, let's assume that forming ink blots is merely a semi-random mechanical process.)

If people can read meaning into a mess of ink, imagine what they can do with that same ink arranged into words. 

In learning not to be misunderstood, which turns out to be an impossible task, I learned that people do not primarily read and comprehend sentences or ideas so much as jump around in the text as they read. 

People spot words and groups of words in text and reflexively and viscerally react to them, repeatedly and briefly drift off into fantasy, and continue.

Any word may have strong personal associations for an individual reader that a writer could never guess.  Moreover, some people are more inclined to make unintended and personal associations to words than others who read more clinically.

There are certain words or sets of words that, no matter how they are used in a sentence, arouse thoughts or emotions that have little to do with the context and which may ignore that the words are preceded by the word, "not", or "never". 

The very sight of trigger loaded words (used deliberately or inadvertently)  may invoke the emotion opposite to the intended meaning if that word happens to be 'loaded' for the reader by some prior experience. 

A writer can never know, beyond being aware of common loaded words and cultural context, what image a word may provoke some specific reader and is often surprised by the reaction.

Intended or not, merely alluding to something conjures up an image for an instant.  Here's a test:  Try not to imagine a pink elephant.

How did you do?  What did you immediately imagine?

That was an example my instructor gave when I took my Level One Ski Instructor Course at Sunshine Village decades ago.  Rob said to avoid dwelling on or even mentioning defects in a student's skiing method because doing so causes the learner to visualize and remember that mistake.  Better to give positive images and demonstrate positive examples -- and ignore defects where possible.

At any rate, I had managed to innocently pack what turned out to be a lot of loaded words and phrases into that one small sentence: "politics", "not easy", "brown or black", "white protestant", and "Bible Belt".  Apparently they have different connotations to me than to others.

*   *   *   *   *

Additionally, and undoubtedly, other factors enter into the decision each doctor makes, like the lack of facilities and specialists in rural hospitals, being on call, and isolation from the medical mainstream.

Some rural doctors are recruited on a contract basis in return for a regional hospital paying tuition, moving expenses, or whatever and the contracts expire at some point.  The doctors can either stay or go. It seems that those of foreign origin leave Three Hills.  This does not seem to be so much the case with other centres, but I really do not know.

*   *   *   *   *

There were just five of us for supper tonight.  We had chicken legs, carrots, beets, and cauliflower.  I forgot the squash in the microwave oven -- again.

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Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
Helen Keller

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Monday October 26th, 2015

Today Mainly cloudy. Wind southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40. High 11.
Tonight Cloudy. 60 percent chance of rain showers this evening then 60 percent chance of flurries after midnight. Wind becoming northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 late this evening. Low minus 1.

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Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I left BEE-L because I got tired of having my carefully chosen words being misunderstood or twisted deliberately by trolls in some cases.

Writing for 1,000 readers, one is bound to be misunderstood by someone.  On BEE-L, in addition to more than a few who read too quickly and jump to conclusions there were a number who made a point of distorting, misquoting, or taking things out of context.  Not all of that got published, but as a moderator, I had to read every word.

Also, being a BEE-L moderator, I had a target on my back for some maladjusted people who were just there for whatever trouble they could cause and thought that 'free speech' is their right in any forum.  Some of these got quite nasty if a message was rejected and they did not get to stab someone that day.  A few were very subtle.

I figured that writing here was not likely to be misunderstood, and I never imagined that many people would read these pages or take me seriously, or that I would have to be very careful not to be misconstrued.

Last time I looked, this diary hardly showed up on searches.  I'd be surprised if twenty people read this diary on any given day.  If the forum participation is any indication, even  that number is high.

I take that back.  As always, I checked the veracity of my assumptions.  Today, this diary shows up at or near the top of the search page for an "beekeeping Alberta" search on all the usual engines, including even Baidu! 

Nonetheless, my logs show that relatively few people stay longer than a few seconds and most traffic is people looking for bee sting info.

Anyhow, maybe it is time to stop making this diary public.  Writing for just myself, I won 't have to worry about what people might think, how I may be misunderstood -- or pull my punches, which, believe it or not, I often do.

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It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree.
For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree.
Charles Baudelaire

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Tuesday October 27th, 2015

Today Clearing this morning. Wind north 40 km/h gusting to 60 becoming northwest 20 gusting to 40 this morning. High 7.
Tonight Clear. Low minus 8.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I'm still here.

I received some nice notes from readers and appreciate them.  I am what I am and that is about it.  I enjoy writing this diary and I guess the chips will just have to fall where they may.  If I am misunderstood, I am misunderstood.  It can't be helped.

Being misunderstood, especially by people we care about, is one of the most painful things people endure in interacting with friends and family, but it happens.

Anyhow, I was quite tired today and my blood pressure was very low this morning: 107/54 and pulse at 54.  I wondered if my heart was acting up again, but suppose it is just my prescriptions. 

It is too easy to sit at the desk all day and I decided that I might just need to be more active, so after a nap I decided to get down to the shop and clean up.  I have to do some major tidying and tool sorting, and organize the north end steps before I can do much about the heating system, and I really do need to get that managed this fall.

The problem is that when I look around, I can see that several solid months of steady work would not nearly finish what needs doing. It would make a dent, certainly, and maybe accomplish what really needs doing, but it is intimidating. That is the problem with a big place that is so unconventional.  Hiring help is a solution, but that comes with its own problems. 

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

I'm also finding that even if I have ambition, I have limited energy.  That's odd.  I seem to have lots of energy when I go sailing, but maybe sailing makes different demands on me.

I went down and did some work and felt better afterwards.  I can see some results, but it is just a start.  I'm also washing, sorting and getting rid of old clothes today. I now have three large garbage bags full to go.

I had accumulated clothes that are good enough to wear, but which have lost my interest or are a bit faded.  They are too good for rags, but would be fine work clothes, and now that I have now found a place where they are wanted, out they go.

I also have some of Ellen's clothes left, again for the same reasons.  They were just too good to throw out.  Although the Diabetes Association has big clothing bins in Three Hills, I have heard stories.   I suspect that out of whatever goes there some is sold, but most just goes for rags.  I don't know.  It's just what I hear, so don't flame me.

I listen to Audible books sometimes while I work.  Today I checked my account to find that I have six credits, so I downloaded Jim Rickards' 'Currency Wars' onto my phone and listen though Bluetooth headphones while I tidy.  The topic is current and fascinating, and the history illuminating. Listening while I am doing such unchallenging work keeps my mind busy.

I made a bean and rice dish for supper and put in too much pepper.  It was good anyhow, but I suspect that if it does not mellow, it will make a good soup.  Watering it down should help.

Well, back to the salt mines...

I worked on the boat trailer that has been sitting in my shop for far too long now and got to where I need to replace springs.  I bought a pair, but see now they will have to be exchanged.

I quit for the day and watched an episode of Death in  Paradise and a bit more of Minority Report, then went to bed.

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When you forgive, you in no way change the past but you sure do change the future.
Bernard Meltzer

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Wednesday October 28th, 2015

Today Sunny. High 9.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Wind south 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low minus 4.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

It was minus eight when I got up this morning.  Fall is here. Otherwise, it looks like a nice day and I'll try to get out and work on the hives a bit more.

I worry a bit, though, about my health and that makes me reluctant.   I've had some bad days after working bees lately and don 't know if it is something about the bees or the smoker fuel or the mowing.  Other strenuous activities have not had a bad effect on me.

I should get my boxes back as well.  I have three pallets or so of boxes at friends places and if I don't get them back, there is the chance they may be in the way or get mixed up with other equipment.

My plan, though, for the day is to change the wheel bearings on that trailer and get that job done as far as I can without new springs and further clean and organize the shop.

I am the sort that starts at one end and works to the other or does not start. Spot clean-ups are not in my nature, although I often get started and then get called away.  Travelling has a way of breaking a streak.  If I go away, I often do not get around to picking up where I left off.

I also need to get a longer term plan in place.  I really did not want to live here after retiring, but my wife insisted.  Since she was home, I could travel.  Now that she is gone, I find I am tied down here more than I like.  In summer, there are the bees (my own fault) and the yard to keep me home and in the winter, worries about heat.

I should sell the place, but I have not figured out how. There is a massive cleanup job if I do not just sell as-is.  I suppose I should consult a realtor.

I did not work in the shop. It turned sunny and seemed like an outdoor day, but it was breezy -- 10 to 25 KPH -- and cool.  I figured it was a bit cool for bee work, but decided to go outside with my trainer kite and get a feel for the day.

I managed to get a few good flights when I could get off the ground -- the kite makes its own wind once it is moving -- but there just was not enough wind and the kite would not even stand up much of the time, let alone rise.

Then I walked through the remaining bee yards and decided that before I work on the hives, I need to mow grass.  It is tall and a tangled mess.

I want to move the hives so they face south, not east and west as they do now. So, I started the mower and went to work.

I need to cut more than just the yards.  There are spots where the tall grass will trap snow, and also be a fire hazard.  As well, such areas also attract mice, and mice are a nuisance. 

I really should cut all the lawn, but there is a lot of tall, dry grass and that has given me allergy grief before.  I have been avoiding the job, but today I decided I need  to find out if I can mow grass or not.  As precautions against the allergies I suspect to be the problem, I took a Benadryl beforehand and showered after.  I also took a Benadryl again after mowing and again before bed.  I did not notice any problems.

I see I have a skunk or two, judging by the game trails, but these seem to be well behaved and are not scratching hives.  These skunks just clean up crawlers as far as I can see and that is a good thing.  Skunks are also good mousers.  Some people kill all nuisance species, but others say to just eliminate the problem individuals and let the rest be.  Works for me.

It was cold out there and I quit around five.  I still had plans to work downstairs, but was tired and had supper, then watched video for a while, and went to bed.

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The price of greatness is responsibility.
Winston Churchill

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Thursday October 29th, 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. High 10.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light near midnight. Low minus 2.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I slept well and was not bothered by allergies.  So, it seems I can mow as long as I take precautions.  I don't like to take antihistamines, but sometimes one must, it seems.

My early morning was spent trying to track down the cause of freezes on my main  laptop.  They were short and infrequent previously, but lately have become crippling, and that is the machine where I write these pages. 

The machine just stops responding for seconds or minutes at a time.  Occasionally, it locks up completely and never responds and I have to kill it by holding down the power switch until it dies.

I tried various usual tricks and found nothing, so finally decided to turn off all the 'eye candy' in 'advanced system settings'.  Those settings are not easy to find but I located them and killed all the options.

Immediately the machine sped up and a hour later, even after turning font smoothing and thumbnails back on, since they are almost essential, the machine is fast and has not frozen up.

*    *    *    *    *     *

Today is much like yesterday and I have to decide whether to go to town and maybe Gull Lake, or cut grass and work on the bees.

I looked out the window and decided that I am letting the place go to pot and that I need to clean it up, so I got onto the mower and got to work.

Mowing one's yard is like dressing, shaving and brushing hair in the morning.  It does not have to be done, but doing so is a sign of good mental health, and doing so actually improves one's state of mind. 

Not doing so is not always a bad sign, but indicates a lack of pride -- or ability to do these basic tasks.  It also indicates no expectation to be in contact with others, and lack of interest in what others may think

I started around 1400, but after an hour or two, as sometimes happens in tall grass, I hit something hard.  In spite of not seeing anything tangled in the blades or any obvious point of contact between the blades and pulleys, there was a loud clicking when I started the blades again.  So I went back to the house and jacked the mower up to look but I could not see any obvious cause for the clatter.

I have planned to clean out the deck for a while now, so this was an excuse to remove the guards, making washing much easier and also reveal other possible sources of the sound.

Even with the guards off, I could find no point of interference and the mower worked fine in spite of the racket.  So ,I decided that if it is a serious problem something will eventually wear or break and become obvious.  If not, it will go away, so I went back to work.

The alternative was to drop the deck and disassemble it, looking for the culprit part, and that is a big job.  That would mean I'd not finish mowing and maybe not get the thing back together until spring if a part was needed or something came along and interrupted the job.

I could try to locate the sound by looking while the mower spins, but I have to be on the seat or the engine quits.  Good thing, too.  Looking into the spinning blades is never a good idea.

I went back out and mowed until the sun disappeared below the horizon, and as I mowed the sound became weaker and less frequent, then almost disappeared.

The troublesome computer is now lightning-fast and no freezes have occurred since I turned off the eye candy. 

In addition to un-checking most of the advanced settings (right), I disabled the themes service.  I don't know if this last adjustment makes any difference.  Hard to tell.  The settings shown at right sure do.

'Smooth edges of screen fonts' makes some text much more readable on large monitors and does not seem to slow the machine appreciably.

 'Show thumbnails instead of icons' gives previews in the picture directories.

As for "Enable desktop composition', this non-essential setting may or may not make a difference.  Disabling the desktop windows manager service might give an additional boost as well.  I have yet to play with that.

BTW, although this machine is not state of the art, it is not a clunker.  However, graphics is its bottleneck.

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No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean,
for words are slippery and thought is viscous.
Henry Adams

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Friday October 30th 2015

Today Increasing cloudiness early this morning. Wind becoming west 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 12.
Tonight Clearing late this evening. Wind west 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. Low minus 1.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

Once again, I slept well and was not bothered by allergies in spite of having mowed dry grass for hours yesterday.  Taking Benadryl, or actually the generic version seems to counteract the ill effects.

"In the United States and Canada, it [Benadryl] contains the antihistamine diphenhydramine. In the United Kingdom, it contains either the antihistamine acrivastine (marketed as Benadryl Allergy Relief) or the long acting antihistamine cetirizine (marketed as Benadryl One a Day Relief). Benadryl products are marketed in Australia and New Zealand as a cough medicine and do not contain any antihistamine."

Being in Canada, I'm talking about diphenhydramine.  IMO, beekeepers should always  keep some on hand as it is one of the first handy, fast-acting, non-perishing and inexpensive, first response treatments for bee sting allergy.  Whereas an epi-pen is often recommended, they are seldom  at hand, require some ability to administer properly and have a short shelf life.

Disclaimer:  I'm no doctor, so do your own due diligence.

I really don't know how the two treatments compare for efficacy.  Good question.  Let's ask Google.  I see there are better references now than there used to be.  Here are two.  I gather the epi-pen is the more effective solution, but also notice that antihistamines are administered as part of treatment for a serious reaction.

In my personal experience diphenhydramine is very useful for the types of minor allergies that make a person twitch and itch or interfere with sleep.

I decided it is time to update my bee sting page.

*    *    *    *    *

Just after I was bragging about fixing this machine, it locked up several times and rebooted itself.  I began to suspect hardware problems and installed some monitoring software.  Of course, now it is working just fine, but this is taking me back to the days of Windows 3.x and subsequent oft-crashing versions right up to XP that made it prudent to save work every few minutes -- or risk losing it.

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Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.
Maya Angelou

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Saturday October 31st 2015
Halloween

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
Ten day forecast

 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I woke up at 0820.  Breakfast was at Rick's at 0830.  I got up, dressed and drove over, arriving in time for waffles.  We visited until about ten, then since I was almost a half-hour closer to Airdrie, Olds, or Red Deer than I am at home, I decided to keep going.  My choice was Red Deer because it has the most options and is closer to Gull Lake.

I had not decided to go to visit Orams at that point, but that option was there and when making decisions on which way to branch, and when all choices look about equal, I choose the one that has the most interesting options.  Although all three centres were about the same distance, I also chose Red Deer because it has a Princess Auto and I need trailer springs.  I'd like to get that job done and over.

I drove to Red Deer and stopped at Costco.  While I was there, Colin texted to see if I was available for a call.  I said, "Give me twenty minutes", and he called when I got back out to the van. 

The conversation  lasted sixty-three minutes and by then it was getting well into the afternoon. I had texted Jean earlier and she replied that Kenzie was playing in the finals for volleyball in Lacombe at four.  I decided to go, and arrived right on time. 

Her team came second in what I think was the Provincials.  Although they and the other team from the same school (which came first) are on top, they play for fun and are not overly competitive.

At any rate after it was over, we returned to Gull Lake.  Kenzie and I picked up two pizzas along the way for supper.

After we ate, the kids went trick or treating and came back after a half-hour or so with candy.  Everyone was tired and went to bed early. I watched some video, then fell right asleep.

Around midnight, I awoke and realized that pizza sometimes keeps me awake at night.  I think it is only some brands of pizza sauce because it is hit and miss.  These pizzas, although I only ate three slices, turned out to be the type that did that and I was awake or dozing for four hours before I finally fell asleep again.

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If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.
G. K. Chesterton

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