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 December  2015 

 

 

 

 

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Background Image: Looking west on a foggy December morning

Thursday December 10th 2015

Today A mix of sun and cloud. Becoming cloudy this afternoon with 30 percent chance of flurries late this afternoon. Fog patches dissipating this afternoon. High zero.
Tonight Cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries. Low minus 3.

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

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

I'm up early at 0505 to check road and hill conditions in advance of a planned two-hour drive to Nakiska.  I don't really have to leave until about ten, but I like to decide early and also to take at least an hour to wake up before driving.  Bert may join me, but I have not heard back yet.

I weighed in at 231.4 today after five hours of sleep, continuing the downtrend of the week.  I'm back to about where I was last Sunday morning.

At left is a shot of the scale I am now using.  It's extreme accuracy and consistent readings make tracking weight changes much more rewarding than trying to read a small analog scale that bounces and changes as my weight shifts.  It was less than $25 at Canadian Tire.

The Nakiska weather looks good for today, and tomorrow as well.

I was wondering if salt was a factor in the sudden weight gain.  here is more on salt from Dr. Mirkin.

Who Needs to Restrict Salt?
The people who are most likely to get high blood pressure from taking in too much salt are those whose cells do not respond well to insulin (Hypertension, Jan 2013). People whose cells do not respond well to insulin are called “insulin resistant” or “insulin insensitive”. People who are insulin insensitive usually are already diabetic or have what is called metabolic syndrome. You have metabolic syndrome if you have any three of the following:
• storing fat primarily in your belly
• having small hips
• being overweight
• having high blood triglycerides (>150)
• having low HDL cholesterol (<40) • having a fatty liver (diagnosed with a simple sonogram of the liver) • having a high fasting blood sugar >100 (HbA1c> 5.7)
• having high insulin levels
• having high blood pressure

Severe Salt Restriction Increases Heart Attack Risk
Too little salt (less than 1.5 teaspoons per day) also increases risk for heart attacks and high blood pressure. In spite of the evidence that severe salt restriction can be harmful, the American Heart Association says it will stand by its current recommendation of less than 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt per day. I cannot find even one study that shows that severe salt restriction of less than a teaspoon of salt a day prevents heart attacks better than the more realistic goal of two teaspoons a day.

Regular exercisers can lose a lot of salt through their sweat, particularly in hot weather. If they do not replace their lost salt, they will not recover from their workouts and be tired and exhausted all the time.

My Recommendations
Instead of asking patients to restrict salt, doctors should push all of the other established healthful guidelines for preventing high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and premature death:
• lose excess weight
• exercise
• eat large amounts of vegetables and fruit
• eat a healthful diet that is high in plants and low in red meat and processed foods
• keep hydroxy-vitamin D levels above 75 nmol/L
• restrict alcohol
• do not smoke

DASH (High-Plant) Diet for Heart Health, Weight Loss and Diabetes

Prevention/ControlThe SHOW ME! Diet

I like to wait for daylight, and now that it is light, I see fog.  I notice, too, that  here are fog advisories, but the highway cameras show clear conditions and bare roads.

It's 0830, and time to go...

The roads were terrible all the way to the Mill and the fog was dense in spots.  I dropped Zippy off and went by Bert's.  My knocking got him out of bed.  He had been out late, so decided not to come.

Once I left the Mill and drove a few miles west, the sky cleared and the roads were clear.  By the time I got to Morley Flats, the sun was out and the day looked perfect.  ,When I entered the Valley running down through the Rockies to Mount Allan, however, the sky turned overcast.

I arrived at the hill, climbed the steps to the lodge and immediately wondered if I am still able to do this.  What about my heart?

I'm always weak at first when I exert myself, but if I persevere, I get my wind and can go for hours, so I pushed on. Since there was a dump of fresh snow yesterday, I put on my powder skis and caught the lift up.

It is a year since I last skied, and my first run made me further wonder if I am crazy.  The wind was cold, the hill seemed icy, my skis would not grip, and my muscles would not remember.  I wondered if I would last.  Seems to me I wondered exactly the same thing on my first time out last year, so I took another run or two. 

Things did not improve and I was getting worried I might hurt myself due to poor control, so I decided to try my ice skis.  I returned to the van to get them and that made a huge immediate difference.  Suddenly I was on rails and suddenly skiing was fun again. 

I started thinking I should forget the Caribbean, put the camper on my truck, change the glow plugs in my reluctant-to-start-in-cold-weather Ford PowerStroke 7.3 (and figure out a sure-fire way to warm the engine on cold days with no electricity available) and live in my camper in the ski hill parking lot, the way I did years ago.

Emboldened, I took the Gold Chair to the top and started down.  The snow here was chopped powder and I had the wrong skis again. 

I took a turn or two on the steepest slope and was reminded that discretion is the better part of valor. I was not turning well and turning is how we control speed and maintain control.

These hills are so steep that one cannot even walk on them very well without skis.  Falling can mean a long slide until a flat, a mogul, a rock or a tree breaks the slide.

Humbled and with some difficulty, I traversed through the woods to a slope better suited to these short, narrow skis and returned to the lower groomed slopes.

While I traversed, I got to wondering how much salt is in various alcoholic beverages. It has occurred to me before that red wines seem to have something that makes me thirsty and it might not be beyond some vintners, brewers and distillers to add salt to boost consumption.

Once down the hill, I seriously considered taking out my snowboard and going back up, but decided that too much of a good thing might be just that -- too much -- and should quit while I was ahead and feeling heroic.  I took another run on the lower slopes and spent a little time in the chalet.

I ran the Navionics Ski app the entire time I was on the hill -- three hours and seventeen minutes -- and it says that I made six runs  in one hour and forty-nine minutes of actual skiing, reached a top speed of 34.6 MPH, skied 11.1 miles and 8,612 feet of vertical.

I left the parking lot at 3:33 and drove to Airdrie where I bought gas and some fruit, then picked up Zippy at Fen's and drove home.

I took a thermos flask of my vegetable stew and a couple of bananas along and that was sufficient for the day and for supper. 

Somehow, now, at 2040 and approaching bedtime, I have only consumed 66% of my calorie RDI, and, due to the exercise, I am 2448 calories in deficit for the day! 

I only counted the 1:49 actually skiing downhill and the corresponding 1602 calories -- not the 3:17 spent at the hill.  I have no idea if the study that came up with the numbers would have used the entire time, including chair lift time and chalet time or just the actual downhill time, so I used just the downhill time.

If the 3,500 calorie per pound formula holds and if water retention does not confound things, I should weigh in 0.7 pounds lighter tomorrow.  Wouldn't I be surprised if that is the case?  If it is, then I really should spend a few weeks on the slopes.

It is always a mistake to extrapolate one good day into the future.  It never works out the way it calculates out, but at this theoretical rate, I would lose five pounds a week while building muscle and meet my target in just one month!

In the real world, life gets in the way of the endless ski holiday.  And, if history can foretell the future, I'll find walking downstairs difficult and a bit painful tomorrow and not feel much like skiing for a day or two. 

Sore muscles.

*   *   *   *   *

After writing that, I got hungry and ate another 400 calories: 48 g -- two small handfuls -- of mixed nuts and a banana. 

Goes to show that theories are just theories.  Reality intrudes.

If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic, we should not get very far in our understanding of the physical world. One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability.
Vannevar Bush

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Friday December 11th 2015

Today Periods of snow. Fog dissipating late this morning. Amount 2 to 4 cm. High minus 1.
Tonight Cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Fog developing this evening. Low minus 5.

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

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

I went to bed at midnight last night and I would have liked to sleep longer this morning, but I woke up at 0448 and was wide awake, so I got up and had breakfast and coffee. 

It seems that is I want to sleep longer, I have to go to bed earlier or go back to bed after breakfast. Just under five hours two nights in a row is just not enough.

As always, I weighed myself before breakfast since that is the time of day with the most consistent readings.  I weigh 231.0 today. 

I realised this morning that I had a Budweiser yesterday and recalculated on Fatsecret.ca.  At the end of the day I had a calorie deficit after exercise of 1893 calories.  That calculates to a theoretical 0.5 lb of weight loss, and I see a 0.4 lb change.  That is amazingly close and when the errors in estimating energy consumption and the 0.1 +/- accuracy of the scale are considered, bang-on!   Having an accurate digital scale makes weight loss fun.

My legs don't seem to be very sore.

I decided to see about starting the 4X4 and found it would crank, bit not start even though the temperature is only around freezing.  I suspected the glow plugs and the duel filter, so I tested the glow plugs and inspected the filter and everything is 100%, so I just don't know.  That took a few hours and all I managed was to find out what was not the problem, a problem that remains. 

I'd like to be able to take the truck to the mountains with some certainty that I can start it at the end of the day, or the next day if I stay over.  I'm fairly serious about putting the camper onto it.

Meantime the snow is falling and we now have three or four inches on the ground.  I could get out the blower and maybe it's not a bad idea to give it a test run.  I'd get a workout, too.

I didn't.  I plugged in the truck and a while later, it started right up.

I'm tired tonight and I'll go to bed early in hopes of catching up on sleep.

I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good.
Seneca
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Saturday December 12th 2015

Today Cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries this morning. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this afternoon. Fog patches dissipating this morning. High zero.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Becoming cloudy near midnight with 60 percent chance of flurries overnight. Wind becoming south 20 km/h late this evening. Low minus 5 with temperature rising to zero by morning.

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

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

I went to bed last night at 2110 and awoke today at 0747.   That adds up to ten and a half hours of sleep!  This morning, I weigh 229.0, a two-pound drop overnight! Nice, but most of that has to be due to fluid loss.

I seem to lose about a half-pound of water through respiration and perspiration each hour, so it makes sense that sleeping four extra hours over my normal would drop me by about two pounds.

One half pound per hour is a very rough estimate  Apparently the hourly water loss is more like 0.4 lb /hr than 0.5 lb/hr, giving 1.5 lbs rather than 2.0 pounds in ten hours.

That appears to be the case since I had an 833 calorie deficit yesterday (below the 600 calorie deficit built into the RDI) and should have lost 0.4 pounds of mass, even without the additional fluid loss due to extra rack time.

0.4 + 1.6 = 2.0

The take-home lesson from the chart is that it took me over four days to recover from one big meal and three small shots of rum and return to the weight I was at before the meal!

Simply extrapolating my progress from before the meal would suggest that without that indiscretion I would weigh 225 today. 

If true, that would suggest fluid loss takes a while because by diet alone, I had only a 6976 calorie deficit during that time and that can only account for 2 lbs of the loss.

From this, I deduce (always risky logic) that salt, nitrate, fat, and alcohol consumption cause fluid retention and the resulting gain takes days to dissipate.

I can't see that I will continue to lose a pound a day, which I have over the past nine days when the one-day three-pound gain is taken out of the picture.

I lost about a pound a day in the hospital last August and during that time, I was on a restricted salt and no-alcohol diet.  I weighed 223.4 on Sept 3rd, two days after the hospital stay, but was back up to 230.6, by Sept 11th, after being home a while.

I am now restricting salt and watching my alcohol intake.

I feel like rip Van Winkle today.   This hard cold start problem with my Ford Powerstroke 4X4 has shown me that the world has changed while I was 'sleeping' the past decade or so. 

I've owned and serviced diesel trucks and forklifts, rebuilt diesel engines, and serviced diesel fuel systems -- and my boat has a diesel engine -- so I thought I knew diesels. Apparently not anymore.

My cold start problem started after I changed the engine oil, but I could not see any connection between the two events.  After some research, however, I have learned that automotive fuel injection systems have changed completely and depend on engine oil pressure!  Formerly, there was no connection between the two, but now engine oil specifications and condition are critical.

The oil I used should be correct, but maybe it is sufficiently different that instead of starting down to minus ten, the truck now will not start at zero.  No matter.  Minus ten or plus ten, I need to have a way of warming the engine when away from home if I want to stop for more than a few hours in cold weather -- unless I get to the root of the problem and it is simple and cheap to fix.

I heard people talking about problems with high pressure pumps in diesel trucks over the past two decades and could not figure why they were so expensive and troublesome.  My trucks were from the eighties.  Now I know. Everything has changed since then.

A message today:

Hi Allen,

I, and others I know who have the 7.3l Ford diesel, all have had to repair/ replace high pressure oil pumps. I've had mine resealed, and it's holding up after a season of beekeeping, but I've heard other say don't waste the time, just replace it ($1200).

I too, have the cold weather starting problems, but plugged in for a couple hours, no problem. Resealing the HPOP made no difference in mine. New injectors this spring, hopefully will have it back in top shape.

PS: I've heard upgrading the air filtration system from the flat to round filters can save an engine, especially in the dusty conditions we deal with.

Thanks for that.  I'm looking now at scoping the engine.  I have a OBD II dongle and tablet software, but nothing as cool as the software shown here.  I intended to scope the truck earlier, but never got around to it.  Now I have to find the dongle and hope I get enough info to be useful.

One thing I did not mention previously is that when I decided to check the glow plugs, I had to disconnect the harness and was surprised to see that the harness plugs were coated with oil and dust (right) and that the top of the engine has been subjected to a fine spray of what looks like diesel fuel.

With my former understanding, applying to conventional diesel injection, this would have been of interest but have no bearing on the problem at hand.  However, with the current system, a slight leak could mean a lot and cause hard starts.

Regardless, any leak demands further investigation if only to prevent a fire and save fuel -- and as they say these days, the environment..

After lunch,  put on my snowsuit and went out to troubleshoot.  It was minus five degrees Celsius and the truck was not plugged in.

From http://www.motor.com/magazinepdfs/112011_09.pdf
During engine start-up, the PCM must see at least 500 psi. If the pressure is too low, the PCM closes the IPR

I cranked with no response, then pulled the plug off the IPC sensor, got back in and turned the key.  The truck started  right up!  Cold!  Now, is the pressure actually below spec, or is the sensor bad?   Most likely it is the sensor.

I took the truck for a run and it ran as well as ever. 

Online, the gurus say that lacking a sensor signal, the PCM falls back on default parameters.  What do I lose?  Maybe a little economy or maybe a bit more pollution.  Out here in the country, and from a guy with a furnace burning sub-bituminous coal, what's a little more smoke? (Sorry).

I called the local jobbers and they want nearly $300 -- and they do not have any in stock, so I went online and ordered a new sensor for $33 US, delivered, saving $250 and a trip to town.

Estimated delivery is the week between Christmas and New Years and I figure I'll run without the sensor until the replacement arrives, not that I drive that truck much.  I'll be interested to see how cold it will start now -- if we get some cold weather, and I am sure we will, sooner or later.

While researching all this, I came across diesel-fired coolant (block) heaters (more).  I won't get one, though.  I'm more likely to use  a Tiger Torch under the oil pan with a stove pipe to contain the flame. That is what the arctic truckers and flyboys do. I already have both.

Jean is still stuffed up, so their planned ski trip is cancelled. I think I may go anyhow if the truck starts when I turn the key tomorrow.

Kananaskis (Nakiska Ridgetop)
Sun, 13 Dec Flurries. Amount 2 cm. Wind southwest 20 km/h gusting to 50. High plus 1.

Maybe not.  Wind is predicted there, but nowhere else.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity,
nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor
by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.
Herman Melville
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Sunday December 13th 2015

Today Flurries ending this morning then cloudy. High zero.
Tonight Cloudy. 40 percent chance of flurries overnight. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h after midnight. Low minus 5.

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

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

I slept a little over eight hours.  My weight this morning is 229.4, a gain of 0.4 pounds.

Since I had a dietary deficit of 1655 calories yesterday, I should have theoretically lost a half pound, so these predictions are inexact.  The difference has to be due to errors in my estimates or fluid retentions -- or deficiencies in the estimating assumptions or process.

It's still dark and I am contemplating a trip to the mountains and looking at Nakiska weather and also checking for wind at Spray Lakes for kiting.   Nakiska weather predictions have improved since I last looked, but it is Sunday and the place could be a zoo.  Spray Lakes, however are large and I'd be happy to see other kiters.

It's 0730 already and I have to get out the door as soon as I can get ready.  It is two hours to Nakiska and almost three to Spray Lakes.  I'll decide which while on the way.

I'll try starting the truck, just to see how it starts unplugged at minus 6 C, but think I'll take the van.  All my gear is in there already and it is quieter and more economical, plus I wonder about driving 600 km with the ICP sensor disconnected.

Looking out the window, I see we have ice fog with visibility less than two miles, but the road cams look clear except up by Carstairs and I'll stay south of there.
 

At 0820, we have daylight and visibility is good. I have a few things to pack and away I go....

It was 0930 by the time I actually hit the road and the drive was routine.  I stopped at Airdrie for an eight-pack of Bud since I like to have a beer halfway through the ski day and one beer is $7.50 at the hill and continued on. 

I took the back road through Cochrane.  Hoarfrost decorated the trees and grass all the way to Morley.

At Morley, I joined up with the Trans-Canada and at the Kananaskis junction, where I would have turned south to Nakiska, I continued on then pulled off at Lac des Arcs and Dead Man's Flats.  Each turnoff now has a village developing with properties for sale, so they each made for an interesting tour.

Years back, Ellen and would go exploring in the mountains and we were quite familiar with these spots.  As the kids grew, we used take ski trips and explore along the way and back, but as time passed and after the kids left home, she lost interest in such expeditions.   I took solo trips to the hills, but that tapered off over time.  Now, I am remembering those days and getting back in to the mountain winter experience.

At Dead Man's Flats, I. checked out a cheap motel that has bad tripadvisor reviews, but is priced right ($59)  and decided that it looks okay.  From what I can see, it is no better or worse than any other cheap roadside motel in ski country. From there, I drove up to the site of the old Pigeon Mountain ski hill and looked around.  It is now a resort.

I continued west and south towards Spray Lakes, a popular kite skiing location.  I had never been there before and was unsure of the exact location, but there is just one road and kites are obvious, so I drove on, stopping at each pull-off to look around.

At one, a cow moose and her calf ambled up and the calf was about to stick her nose into my open drivers side window, but I quickly closed it.  I'm not afraid of a calf, but regulations prohibit close contact for the good of both people and the animals and wild animals can be unpredictable.

About two thirds of the way down the Lake, I saw kites and came across the kite crew parked along the road.  I parked and walked down to see what was happening. 

A few were out ripping it up, but the rest were watching and a few kites were set up, but just sitting upside down. 

I was told the people kiting out on the lake were on kites as large as seventeen metres.  My biggest is 13.5, so I said, "I'm off to Nakiska."  Apparently some people had a good time, however (left).

Nakiska  is only seven miles away cross-country, but the road takes a long way around because the backside of Mount Allan is in between.  I left Spray Lakes at 1415, but even driving at 80 to 100 KPH on the snow-covered roads, I did not arrive at the ski hill until 1500.

I decided on my snow board since it is quick and easy to set up and took a run.  Although there was powder in spots, it was sheer ice underneath, especially on the steeps and  found the conditions too dangerous for my first snow board run in several years, and changed to my ice skis.  I managed two more runs before the lifts closed at four and I drove home.

I stopped in Airdrie for groceries and gas, then continued home, arriving at 1930.  Since I did not spend enough time at the hill to justify a mid-session beer, and I still had the eight when I got home, I decided to have one while I sat down to watch video.  One turned into three over several hours and I was in bed by 2230.

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
Mahatma Gandhi

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Monday December 14th 2015
Ten Days until Christmas Eve

Today Cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind north 20 km/h becoming light late this morning. High minus 2.
Tonight Cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries early this evening. Clearing this evening. Low minus 15.

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

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

I weigh 228.0 this morning at 0844, but weighed 229.0 at 0400 when I first got up and had breakfast before returning to bed at 0500.

I got up early because I felt poorly and was not about to fall back to sleep.  Getting up, being active and having breakfast usually cures the problem.  After breakfast, if I am tired, I often go back to sleep for an hour or sometimes more.  I clocked almost an extra three hours today.

One thing is for sure.  I can't drink beer the way I used to and still feel well.

It is minus six point seven here today and outside my door is still a winter wonderland created by morning after morning of ice fog and the resulting build-up of hoarfrost.

I was gone only ten hours yesterday and in that time, I drove about 600 kilometers and saw quite a few things, plus put in an  hour on the ski hill.  It is easy to sit home and do very little and have the days pass, but with a bit of effort, those days can be much fuller.

I had not really realized it, but today I'm right back at the 228 lbs I was at on  August 20th. 

When I left the hospital ten days later, I had dropped to 223.4, but I disregarded my diet after leaving the hospital and got less exercise and it shows. I'm getting serious about my weight now if for no other reason than to be a better skier and snowboarder.

At one point, I was actually above my July 5 starting weight of 232 lbs, but there is a discontinuity in my records because I changed to a more accurate scale August 15 and that added three pounds to my current series of weights, so that number should really be 235, not 232.

 Why does a pound or two, or even decimals of a pound matter?  In the greater scheme of things, they do not, but in day-to-day diet control, feedback is essential for maintaining interest and commitment. Daily measurement and small changes inspire action.

Without any feedback, it is easy to fall back into old habits.  In the chart above, we can see much quicker progress in recent days (steeper slope on the right side) than back in  July (less steep slope on left side), even without bee work to keep me active now.   Much of that is due to being able to see small changes and being encouraged by visible progress. My old scale was imprecise and progress was difficult to detect.

Can I lose too much weight too quickly?  I don't think it is likely with the varied diet and an adequate calorie intake.  I am a little concerned that the fat content is higher than I would like in spite of an a largely vegetarian trend, but that happens when restricting calories.  The carbs are high, too, but they are mostly complex carbs.

I recently lost six pounds in eleven days by an 8,200 (est.) calorie reduction.  By the 3,500 rule, however, I should have lost 2.3 lbs, so more than half of my recent weight loss has to be due to fluid loss, and the accelerated loss discussed above may be illusory. Time will tell.

Losing excess fluid is not a bad thing.  Sometimes we see people who look fat, and are, but are also equally bloated from retaining huge amounts of water.  At this point, I assume I am losing water and that the real weight loss will flatten out to 0.2 lbs/day expected from the 750 calorie average daily shortfall in my current diet.

Wait!

I've been only considering the daily calorie reduction below my daily RDI.

I have been forgetting that the RDI I am using is designed for weight loss and is already is 600 calories below my weight maintenance RDI. 

So my actual estimated daily calorie deficit is more like 1,350, which would give me 0.4 lbs a day of real loss, and 4-1/4 lbs over the eleven days.  That is pretty close to six pounds considering how inaccurate all these estimates are.

It is hard to believe that Christmas is almost here.  Where did the time go?

I went out and blew snow off the driveway for an hour for exercise and started the truck again.  After being started cold and then turned off right way on the previous test start yesterday, it was a little harder starting today, but started up within twenty seconds or so and ran rough at first.

By that time in the afternoon, the temperature had fallen to minus eight, and minus ten is the lower limit for cold starting this truck without plugging in as I recall.  It took a while to warm the engine to where the truck would go anywhere, and then I took it down to the dam and back for a spin.

Considering how hard the truck is to start and how long it takes to warm up, plugging in for an hour or two seems like a worthwhile idea when the truck is needed and the temperatures are below freezing.

I had supper, watched some video, then made a vegetable stew.

I see we are going into colder weather for a few days if the 10-day forecast is correct. We are expecting minus seventeen tonight and minus nineteen Wednesday night.

It takes in reality only one to make a quarrel. It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion.
William Ralph Inge

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Tuesday December 15th 2015
Ten Days until Christmas Day

Today A mix of sun and cloud. Becoming cloudy this afternoon with 60 percent chance of flurries late this afternoon. Fog patches this morning. High minus 5.
Tonight Cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries this evening then partly cloudy. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 18. Wind chill minus 25.

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

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Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

Predictions are now for significantly colder weather at the end of the week than was previously expected.  This change in outlook is not entirely unexpected since minus twenty temperatures are more typical of Christmastime than the recent trend, although we can have anything from plus ten to minus thirty at this time of year.  It's maybe a good thing that I held off on reserving a condo in the mountains for the week leading up to the big day.

I had been, and still am, looking online at Canmore suites and motels with the idea of spending a few days at the hills with Jean and family.  Canmore is an easy 55 km from Nakiska and 30 km from kiting at Spray Lakes.  I live 200 km from Nakiska and 245 km from the Spray Lakes Reservoir kiting spot.

There are still a few deals out there, while warmer predictions would be encouraging, bitter cold is likely to discourage them, especially with a four year old. Also, although I am sure I can get away, they are less certain, so I am undecided.

Nakiska weather does not look as bad as our forecast here on the prairie, though, being a good three degrees warmer. 

Minus ten degrees C is my cutoff temperature for planning ski expeditions.  Although I have been out at minus forty on calm, sunny days, anything below minus ten can feel cold.  Below minus ten, if there is no sun and the wind picks up, conditions can be downright unpleasant.

I weigh 230.4 this morning, a gain of over two pounds overnight.  Why?  Because I went to bed late, after midnight, slept twenty minutes and woke up and found I could not sleep.  I got up and had two beers in hopes of getting back to sleep, then ate some vegetable stew and watched forty minutes of video.  I achieved no calorie deficit from my RDI for the day at all, even after accounting for exercise.

I got back to bed after two and was up at 0800.  So I had only six hours of sleep  That accounts for one pound and the beer and extra food the rest. I presume it is mostly fluid retention.  Beer, and actually any alcoholic beverage beyond one drink, does that to me.

*   *   *   *   *

I've arranged for a condo in Canmore from this Thursday to Christmas Eve.  My plan is to arrive there sometime Thursday afternoon and stay right through, with an occasional trip home if necessary.

In the afternoon, I took a drive up to Three Hills in the 4X4, partly to give it a highway run and partly because I wanted to get propane and pick up some sockets I ordered for the Cranberry headlight aiming.

Although I have been told today's diesel fuel does not gel or need additives, I bought some additive and maybe it was my imagination, but the truck ran better on the way home. 

Tomorrow, I need to decide what to take, prepare the van and pack.

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.
Eleanor Roosevelt

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Wednesday December 16th 2015
Nine Days until Christmas

Today A mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent chance of flurries. High minus 4.
Tonight Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries this evening and after midnight. Low minus 22.

Click here for current conditions in my back yard
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 Read yesterday's post
Often posts are edited the next day for improved clarity

I slept soundly, and in spite of indiscretions with wine, mixed nuts and Netflix last evening, I weigh 230.2 this morning.  Go figure.

I bookmarked Broadchurch some time ago, but put off watching due to the ugly cover picture and the fact there were only eight episodes, often a hint that the series did not succeed and was cancelled.

Once I began watching, however, I discovered the series to be an excellent, subtle whodunit, and like a number of similar British series, was designed to only go for a few segments and not continue on and on to eventual silliness and shark-jumping.

I have been watching the last few evenings and I don't normally binge-watch, but last night, I made an exception.

At 0830, the day is dawning clear and cool at minus twelve.  

Weather forecasts for the mountains and here at home have been revised warmer since yesterday and that is good news.  Temperatures at this time of year can be brutal, but we may have lucked out this year.

I plan to check in in Canmore tomorrow after 4 PM and I have a lot to do to be ready.

I had a nap after lunch and watered plants, then drove Zip out to Ruth and Dave, returning via Three Hills.  I had a hankering for a burger, so I stopped at A&W for a Mozza Burger. I consulted the Internet for a calorie count to record on Fatsecret.ca and discovered that I had just eaten 600 calories, with 40 grams of fat and 810 mg of sodium.

The ingredient list is something else, too.  At home I eat mostly foods that grow in a garden or on trees -- basically natural ingredients --  with a few mostly plant derived spices, and some meat, but look at this:

Pure Beef Patty: 100% beef
A&W® Seasoning: salt, sea salts (potassium chloride, sea salt), spices, sugar, cornstarch, garlic powder, dextrose, onion powder, yeast extract, caramel colour, spice extractives, high oleic sunflower seed oil, citric acid, natural flavour, silicon dioxide. 
Mozzarella Cheese: milk, modified milk ingredients, bacterial culture, salt, calcium chloride, microbial enzyme.
Double Smoked Hickory Roasted Bacon: Pork (Cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, natural flavour, natural smoke flavour, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, smoke).
Sesame Seed Bun: enriched flour, water, glucose-fructose/sugar, *yeast, sesame seeds, vegetable oil (Canola or Soybean), salt, calcium propionate, monoglycerides, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate. May contain wheat gluten, vinegar, calcium carbonate, calcium sulphate, ammonium chloride, potassium sorbate, acteylated tartaric acid esters of mono and diglycerides, monocalcium phosphate. *Order may change. 
Mozza® Sauce: soy bean oil, relish (cucumbers, vinegar, salt, xanthan gum), sugar, water, tomato paste, egg yolk, vinegar, salt, dried onions, potassium sorbate, spices, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, calcium disodium EDTA

In the evening, I decided to alter the bin buddy to work better for the time I am away, even though I expect to be coming and going and have others check on it.  That took a bout three hours.

The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Thursday December 17th 2015
Eight Days until Christmas

Today Mainly sunny. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light this morning. High minus 10. Wind chill minus 29 this morning.
Tonight A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness near midnight. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 21. Wind chill minus 28.

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

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

I weigh 230.2 again today after seven hours of sound sleep. 

That means no change since yesterday in spite of an estimated 1,861 calorie deficit yesterday.  In theory, that should have resulted in over a half-pound of loss, but I wonder if the salt in the burger has an influence.  I'm still trying to see if salt matters.

I've lost four pounds in two weeks and that is quite respectable.  At this rate, I'd be weighing 200 pounds in fifteen weeks -- March 31st, 2016 -- and completely disappear in about two years.

I have lots to do today.  My plan is to sleep in Canmore tonight   I notice that the bin buddy did not move as much coal as expected overnight, so that needs some tweaking and I have plenty of other things on my plate before I go, so we'll see how it goes.

The temperatures are predicted to be cold for the next week which means I'll have to pay close attention to my cameras.

Canmore predictions look quite a bit warmer.

In late afternoon, I left for Canmore, and arrived around six, found the condo and checked in.  On the way ion to town, I stopped at Gear-up Sports to look up my beekeeping friend, Mike.  I was told he is out of away for the holidays.

Mike ran bees up at Calmar in the summer and in  the winter, worked as a level four instructor at Sunshine Village.  I took instructor training for my own personal development and qualified as a level one, but did not apply to work. 

One year, my daughter worked at Sunshine as well, as a level two instructor. That winter, Mike was living in  a cabin in Canmore and I would drive up and stay with him at times, ski or board in the day and drink beer in the hotel and eat spicy chicken wings in the evening. That must have been back in the nineties.

Mike gave up beekeeping and bought the sports shop here in town.  I have not seen him for a while and wondered if he was still here.  He is.

I'm here alone.  Although getting a condo in Canmore was a dream of Chris', it seems they have trouble getting away. Colds, volleyball, the dog and other excuses keep them home.  Fen and Maddy will be out Sunday.  Bert is babysitting but is interested, and we'll see who else shows up.  In the meantime, I have a two-bedroom luxury condo (found at a bargain on Kijiji) all to myself.

The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Friday December 18th 2015
Seven Days until Christmas

Today Cloudy. Periods of light snow beginning this morning and ending early this afternoon. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 late this morning. High minus 11. Wind chill minus 25 this morning.
Tonight A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness after midnight. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming southwest 20 late this evening then becoming northwest 20 overnight. Low minus 17. Wind chill minus 27.

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

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

I went to bed around 2230 last night and woke up at 0330 -- exactly. 

I got up, realizing that I wasn't going back to sleep soon, lit (switched on) the fireplace, cooked breakfast and made coffee.  I'll write a few words and then go back to finish the job of getting proper rest.  Sleep is important. Here (above right) is the Nakiska and Spray Lakes forecast (map at right -- kmz).

West 20 is not too promising for kiting at Spray Lakes, but Nakiska should be sheltered and good skiing.

Although Nakiska and Spray Lakes are only seven miles apart, they are almost an hour from one another by road.  There is a mountain in between.

It is colder at home, but the house looks fine.

At left is the view from my balcony. The temperature was minus twelve in Canmore when  I left for Spray Lakes, but minus five at around 1145 when I arrived at the spot on the Lake just past Sparrowhawk picnic area where kiters launch.

I walked down and found two kiters already there, setting up.  The wind was gusting from the SE to over thirty KPH, then dying to five or so.  That was in the wind shadow near the eastern shore.  Not too promising for the first run of the year.

I climbed the hill back up to the van, put on ski boots, then walked down with my skis and 8.5 Smart II.  The others were already out and down the lake a bit.  One was having trouble keeping the kite up so I went downwind to check.

They were okay, but overpowered and taking things apart to walk back so I continued.  Early afternoon is the time of day that the wind picks up and I was already at the upper limit of the kite's wind range during gusts.  The wind built even further to 50 KPH and that was definitely over my limit. 

Then the kite hour-glassed and the bridle tangled.  A tangled kite is hard to stop.  When I finally managed to get stopped and get to the kite, which kept escaping, blowing downwind, and sometimes lifting off with great force, I found things were too snarled to untangle in the high winds. 

I decided conditions would not get better and I would not be able to kite into a wind shadow, and I was now almost two miles down range and out of sight of the launch. I was destined to walk.

I kicked off my skis and managed to roll up the kite in spite of the gusts tearing at me and the kite and walked to shore, seeking a spot where climbing to the road through the snow and bush would be easiest.

Walking was laborious and I stopped often as I climbed to catch my breath and to enjoy the scenery. 

I've done the walk of shame many times before.  One memorable time was windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge west of Home Valley, but that is another story.  It is always interesting.

I made it to the road and sat down to wait for traffic, but nobody came along.  The day had turned dull and windy and I suppose that discourages people.  

After ten minutes I decided I should walk to stay warm if no other reason.   At the rate I could walk, the hike would take me hours, but I was hot and sweaty from exertion, but that can turn into a chill quickly on a winter day.

Walking on a hard surface in downhill ski boots is not something I want to do for more than the distance from my car to the ski lifts, but I had two miles to cover, uphill and into a stiff, cold, gusting wind. 

Fortunately a pickup truck came along and I flagged the driver.  He was happy to turn around and drove me back to my van.  I suspect he thought I was crazy, but didn't say so.

At the van, I collected my tiny 3.5 training kite and returned to the lake.  The others were leaving, but I launched the trainer and ripped around for an hour before I decided enough is enough and drove back to my condo where I drank several cups of strong, black coffee, then lay down and slept for an hour.

What a fabulous day!

*    *    *    *    *

Apparently, we are finally starting to figure out that our North American diet is a killer -- or worse. 

My friend Sharon sent the following link to me and I'm glad I shared it this morning.  The mention struck a chord, and brought several responses. 

Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program (AGING Journal)

In response, a friend sent me a link to a related TED talk:

Interesting TED talk on fasting and how it effects the brain. When I fast at home I have water and tea. When I fast in Canada I have nothing for the 2 or 4 days. It is easier than people think.

Here's another note that came today.  This lady says it well.

Thank you for the "novel therapeutic program"!!

I had a brilliant, and brilliantly-quick mind most of my life, which enabled me to do almost anything I wanted to, but a few years ago I started to struggle terribly with a number of the same issues noted in this research paper (understanding/remembering data, remembering detailed steps of execution, articulating in speech and writing, writing/reading/comprehending detailed, scientific, work related material as well as self-chosen recreational material, etc).

Having been an avid life-long "learner", who had always had new goals and new interests and challenges to look forward to, this increasing inability to focus on, be interested in, and complete even some of the most simple of day to day tasks was like a death knell.

Leaving an incredibly stressful (and thankless) job where I was far, far too overworked helped somewhat, as years of unhealthy, unrelenting stress can be terribly damaging all on its own, but even now, a few years later and with infinitely less stress in my life, I've never fully recovered.

Trial and error over the last few years have led me fairly recently to many of the same remedies suggested in the paper, it's good to know I'm on the right track AND that there are a few more things I can add to my arsenal!

Thank you!

Strangely, I am not hungry after the day's effort.  I did not even eat my entire lunch, and if I can believe Fatsecret, I have a large calorie deficit today. Of course, I am not in bed yet, so that could change...

As much or as carefully as we may plan our days, we never know what each day will bring, and things never look or feel exactly the way we expect them to when we start out.

*    *    *    *    *

I had brought the bundled up kite up to my rooms and decided to untangle the bridle.  The picture at right shows the snarl of expensive string.

It's clear that I'd have never untangled that mess in the cold out on the lake with gloved hands and with powerful gusts tugging and flogging the kite around.  It took me almost a half-hour to do it in the warm room with bare hands and no distractions.

To err is human; to forgive, divine.
Alexander Pope

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Saturday December 19th 2015
Six Days until Christmas

Today Cloudy. Periods of light snow beginning this morning and ending early this afternoon. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 late this morning. High minus 11. Wind chill minus 25 this morning.
Tonight A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness after midnight. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming southwest 20 late this evening then becoming northwest 20 overnight. Low minus 17. Wind chill minus 27.

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

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

The intense exercise yesterday had a big effect on my weight again.  I weigh 227.4 this morning, down 2.8 pounds from two days ago.

I suspect that much of that apparent loss to be a change in my fluid balance, partly due to breathing cold, dry air, but yesterday's estimated calorie deficit could account for a pound.

Things at home look okay.  Indoor temperature is shown at left.

It'll be a cool, dull day there in Swalwell, with snow forecasted. 

Kananaskis highs (at right) are expected to be six degrees warmer and the day sunny, but windy.  Wind is a good thing, right?

FWIW, I am not stiff and sore at all this morning, which is a bit of a surprise considering my workout yesterday.

What will I do today?  I'll start by going back to bed.  I woke up at 0503, feeling stuffy.  I'm clear now and another hour or two of rest would be nice.

I expect Fen and Maddy and maybe Will will be out later today.

*    *    *    *    *

I went back to bed at six and slept almost to nine.  Excellent!  This condo is quiet, my bed is comfortable and the curtains in my bedroom completely block out daylight.

It turns out that Fen and Maddy come tomorrow.

Although I have a season's pass to Nakiska, Spray Lakes beckons and I am off to kite there again today.

I arrived just after noon and found a half-dozen or so there already, flying 12 metre kites.  Figuring the wind builds in early afternoon, I rigged my 8.5 again.  I was about ready to go when I discovered the lines were still slightly mixed up and had to sort them out.

Once the kite went up, I had a good ride until around three when the wind dropped. I was about done anyhow, so I packed up and climbed the hill to the van.  That's when  I discovered I was beat.  Riding under the kite was almost effortless, but after a few hours of skiing across the lake and back, I had used up my reserves and it took me ten minutes to climb the grade in stages, burdened with kite and skis.

Once up the hill, I felt normal, but when I stopped on  the way back and got out of the van to take pictures, I found I could hardly stand up. 

Pictures don't do the terrain justice.  The pass at upper centre leads to the Spray Lakes. From where this is shot, the drop is as great as the distance from here up to the pass.

Once back in town, I stopped at Canadian Tire to look at tire chains for the van and the grocery store to get RO water for coffee. I bought a frozen turkey, too since they are only on sale this cheaply -- 99ȼ/lb -- at certain times of the year and I have a freezer in my suite.

I was thinking of going to the hot tubs, but instead drank several cups of  coffee and had a nap.  May be I did not kill myself yesterday, but today, I am knackered.

Out of interest, and wondering if the cold dry air causes weight loss, I checked and found I weighed 227 when I came in.  After drinking water and coffee, I was up to 229, as expected. I always weigh a few pounds more late in the day.

What will I do tomorrow?  By bedtime I had recovered enough to be considering another trip to Spray, but a glance at the WindGuru forecast suggests that the conditions will be brutal. 

Nearly Force 9 Beaufort, predicted for noon tomorrow at Spray (right), is a full gale and enough wind to be really dangerous.  It might be fun to watch the crazies get beat up, but nothing I would like to experience attached to a kite.  My trainer kite would be too big and the snow will be blowing like bullets.

Nakiska might be the answer, but, being only seven miles away, albeit on the other side of a mountain, things might be pretty breezy there, too, but there is shelter on most runs.  Riding the chairs could be unpleasant though.

Maybe I should take the day off?  Fen and Maddy arrive in the afternoon and then Orams come the next day.  Orams will want to spend Monday and Tuesday at Nakiska and I'll join them.  That might be enough downhill for me.

Nakiska is 45 minutes closer to home than Spray, so I am inclined to maximize my time an Spray while I am living in Canmore and go to Nakiska later, from home. 

I must say that this condo life is spoiling me, and I don't miss my dog and her demands -- yet. 

I could easily forget Swalwell and live here -- I think.

People want economy and they will pay any price to get it.
Lee Iacocca

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