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 January  2016 

 

 

 

 

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Background Image: Burning discarded bee boxes

Sunday January 10th 2016

 

Today Increasing cloudiness this morning. Wind west 20 km/h. High minus 7. Extreme wind chill minus 41 this morning.
Tonight A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness near midnight then 30 percent chance of flurries before morning. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Temperature steady near minus 9.

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 temperature rose to minus eight overnight.  I have my day planned.  A beekeeper is coming by first thing to have me look at his brood chambers, then I am off to Eagle Lake to get the bridle piece I need and for some kiting. 

Years ago, I used to windsurf at Eagle Lake and I have not been there for a decade or so now. 

Kiting access is often over unmaintained prairie trails or through fields. I'll drive the 4X4 in case there is drifting.

*   *   *   *   *

Today, I weigh 224.4 again.  I say 'again' because this is what I weighed last September 3rd.

Today's weight is the lowest my weight has been in seven years, and exactly what I weighed on September 3rd after leaving the hospital.

Back in 2006/7, I got my weight down to 208, but after then I neglected my weight and it crept back up.  The extra weight really does not bother me until I try to get into my wet suit or want to fly ultralights, kite, etc.

It took me a month to get back down to this weight from 235 after a few months of not paying attention to my weight and gaining back over ten pounds.

I certainly would not describe this past month of weight loss as a month of suffering or self-denial.  It has been a month of good food, adventure and excitement -- and it included Christmas!

*   *   *   *   *

The beekeeper showed up on time and his equipment looked just fine.  He had a package that survived one winter but not the second.  He had treated and the equipment looks perfectly OK, just a bit short of feed and without a lot of fully drawn comb.

It appeared his queen had just petered out and a replacement had not been raised in time. there were queen cells that may have produced queens, but no signs of brood.  No evidence of varroa problems, either.  The colony had never been strong and he did not extract any surplus honey either year. There was maybe 10 pounds of honey in the three frames that had feed.

*   *   *   *   *

I left home around 1045 and arrived at Eagle lake at 1140, a few minutes before Patrick.  He had some students, but lent me his kite which is identical to mine to see if it was any different.  I rigged the kite and found the wind had dropped to nothing, so joined his class for a few minutes.

After ten minutes or so, the wind picked back up, so I sent the kite up and had a good two-hour session.  The snow was mostly untracked powder. The kite worked well and I sailed across the lake and back multiple times. 

By 1445, my legs had had it and I know enough to quit while I'm uninjured and still having fun, so I sailed back to my truck, packed up the kites and drove to nearby Strathmore to shop.

I have not shopped in Strathmore for a while and had half-forgotten how many big box stores are there now.

I bought a few groceries at No Frills and stopped at Canadian Tire for tire chains and a Thule box for my van.  The box is to hold my ski and kite gear if I do go to Mammoth.  It will keep the junk out of the van interior regardless so I can carry passengers or lay out my mattress.

They had the chains, but not the box.  I drove home up the 21 highway, and had a light supper.  The truck is running well, but the exhaust or intake is noisier than I would like.

I see that now, at 1842 hours, late in the day, according to Fatsecret, I have consumed only 52% of my calorie budget.  It seems that exercise makes me less hungry, not more, but the night is yet young.

I ate a green banana and a small ice cream cone, but still came in well below my calorie budget for the day.

When a thing has been said and well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.
Anatole France

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Monday January 11th 2016

 

Today Cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light this morning. Temperature falling to minus 12 this afternoon.
Tonight Cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries this evening then partly cloudy. Low minus 14.

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 poorly and when I woke up at 0230, the temperature was minus one, well above the day's forecast high. I went back to bed after a while and slept until seven or so, fitfully.  By sunrise at 0836, the temperature had dropped two degrees.

I weigh 224.4 again today -- no change in spite of a 3,000+ calorie deficit yesterday. I slept less, though and that could factor in.  And, I'm not very ambitious.  After breakfast, I went back for a bit more sleep, but I am not really feeling energetic.  I'm a bit groggy.

It seems that whenever I drink wine, even in relative moderation, I'm a bit 'off' for a week or so.  It's a shame, but I think I'll have to give it up. 

Calculating from calories consumed and exercise calories burned, Fatsecret predicted ~4 lbs of loss.   That guess is within 10% and that is excellent for an estimate IMO.

At this rate -0.42 lbs/day -- I'd lose 13 lbs in a month and weigh 211 a month from now.

Any bets? 

Of course, believing extrapolations is always risky.  Trends eventually stop and/or reverse.  If we extrapolated the trend we saw not too long ago, the Canadian dollar would be at $1.25 US or more instead of the $0.71 it broke today.

It is around freezing out and the wind is up to  6 MPH, so burning boxes might not be a good idea.  Perhaps I should launch a kite later, but as I say, I am not feeling ambitious right now.  I have in mind to go and get the Thule box in Red Deer and at the same time buy a length of auger flighting I've had my eye on for a year but been too cheap to purchase. It's only $95, but sometimes I am a skinflint.

I've decided to revamp the bin buddy.  It has worked admirably this winter and saved me much shoveling.  Previously, I had Elijah do shovel coal and it gave him some income, but automating the job reduces the furnace work to a once a week half-hour task.

Recently, I have decided to reassess my reluctance to spend on some things and willingness to spend on others.  It can be very irrational, and I know I am not alone in this foible.  One example is how many people won't spend money on a smartphone or data, but will spend time and dollars on fuel driving around looking for things they could research in seconds anywhere anytime for mere pennies.

Cellular data seems expensive to us at $10/GB, and many resist spending anything on data, but 1GB represents a month of on-the-spot research and communication or three Netflix movies. The same people will spend $7.50 for one beer, far more on a movie and getting there, or drive to town on a whim for a pack of cigarettes.  Go figure.

1.) We are hearing things about diversity and abundance of gut bacteria in humans being essential to health and that they affect heart health, tendencies to obesity, and susceptibility to cancers.

2.) We are also hearing that processed meats, sausages, hot dogs, salami, corned beef, beef jerky, ham, canned meat...) cause cancer and heart problems.

From here; "Processed meat now falls into “group 1,” meaning it ranks as high as tobacco smoking, the most dangerous variants of human papillomavirus (HPV) and asbestos exposure in terms of causing cancer."

Putting two and two together, and considering the fact that processed meats are processed with -- among other things -- chemical preservatives like nitrates, EDTA, propionates, etc., intended to prevent bacterial growth; could the adverse effects that are being discovered be in part, at least, due to disruption of gut bacteria?

Apparently use of oral antibiotics can on occasion cause dangerous imbalances by killing off the good bacteria  in the gut, and not some nasty ones resulting in serious complications.  Could processed meat constituents contribute to a similar effect on a small scale?

Just thinking...

I spent the morning and early afternoon at the desk doing basically nothing, but I did reserve my flight to Victoria to take Cassiopeia across and to attend the Vancouver Boat Show.  I ordered more coal, too.

I know, I am nuts.  I claim I want to put in the gas, but keep playing with my pet coal furnace.  I have been frustrated in getting gas in  the past and have developed a lot of inertia. 

Besides, my furnace is working well at present, just as it has for almost half a century, and I am becoming increasingly aware that I worry about it because I have to worry about something and Ellen worried about it. What will I worry about when the gas is in?

When I actually look at the question of the house freezing-up, there are only a few weeks a year that it is a real worry and when it would be a catastrophe if the furnace quit.

Looking at the chart at left, the average daily minimums -- blue line -- are not a big worry. 

What is the big worry is the blue dashed line -- the extremes that are known to be possible because they have happened in fairly  recent history.  I clearly remember an entire week of minus forty weather during the first week of February in, I think, 1990.

The problem, of course is knowing in advance which, if any, weeks will be extreme.  In truth, any furnace quitting during extreme cold would call for fast action and on such days, vehicles will not start and there may be drifting snow impeding travel.

I have some backup emergency heaters that would last ten hours or longer -- as long as someone is here to start and run them.

It is one of those days, warm and breezy, but overcast and dull.  It is, so far, not windy enough to push my buttons and make me go out to play. 

I got tired of being inside and went out to burn boxes.  I burned several hundred, some lids, too, and some pallets, but my progress is not really obvious to a casual glance yet.  I have burned maybe a third of this stack now, and there are more stacks after this.

When I look at what I am burning, I wonder why I did not do this sooner.  In going through the boxes, I do keep any that look good, and they are few.

I also remember now that I had built a box gauge that measured height and length and that we checked each box passing through extraction.  Many of the boxes are too long or two short or too shallow and as a result, the frames won't hang right, or even will fall right out. 

Broken and damaged rabbets is also a major reason otherwise seemingly good boxes are discarded.  This flaw is fixable, but the job requires some skill, and a saw that can cut nails safely.  At the time we discarded these boxes carbide blades were available, but dangerous due to metal flying when nails are hit on an open table.  Our staff were unskilled and often young.

These days, one could use an abrasive blade to cut out the wood and nails of the old rabbet and then just nail in a new piece, but boxes are different widths and some skill in fitting would be required.  At today's labour rates, and considering handling and overhead, repairs would cost more than a used box is worth.

Nonetheless, I'll have a small stack of the least flawed left when done.  Maybe.  Maybe I'll just burn everything to get it gone.

The most reliable way to forecast the future is to try to understand the present.
John Naisbitt

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Tuesday January 12th 2016

 

Today A mix of sun and cloud. Clearing late this afternoon. Fog patches dissipating near noon. High minus 1.
Tonight Clear. Increasing cloudiness before morning. Low minus 13.

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 well, but woke up to find the house cooler than usual.  I had not latched the south door and it had blown open.

It is minus twelve this morning, with a breeze from the west.

Our normals have not changed in the last two weeks, but our days are now seventeen minutes longer than they were on January 1st.

Seventeen minutes is a 3-1/2% change and the daily change will accelerate in the coming months.

 

I weigh 223.4 today and am warned I am losing 7 lbs a week, so my progress continues. 

I am eating well, and as much as I like, but am making sure I am aware of what I eat by tracking on Fatsecret.ca and avoiding calorie-dense foods or pigging out. I access and update my food diary whenever I eat anything at all, using my laptop computer or their Android app.

I imagine the Fatsecret app should be available for Apple devices, too, but maybe not. At any rate, there are zillions of such apps for Apple, it seems, and I don 't know if Fatsecret is the best -- quite possibly not -- but it works well for me on all my devices.

My vegetable stews (left - click image for a close-up) are very low calorie, nutritious, and quite filling.  If I make sure I burn at least 500 calories by exercise, even if it is just housework, driving or shopping, that increases the calorie deficit and speeds weight loss. If I go kiting or skiing, that really makes a difference.

What to do today?  I had thought I'd take a look at the furnace transmission and rebuild it.  I might also take a trip to red Deer, but we will see. 

Wind is predicted today, so maybe I'll go kiting, and any time I feel bored, there are more boxes to burn.

It is now 0811.  I'll just get dressed, get moving, and see where the day goes.

Well, it is now 1020 and I got as  far as the kitchen, cleaned up, then had an email to answer and found the forum software was out of date.  Bringing that up to date took a half-hour and here I am, still about to get dressed. 

So go my days...

I had a few little tasks lined up, so I went outside and tried programming some remote entry fobs.  No luck.  I think the batteries are shot.  Then I installed the tire chains on the van and went to try them out.  The van battery was flat, so I put on the charger. 

How did it go flat?  Newer vehicles are supposed to shut off all electrical items after twenty minutes of no activity, even if a light was left on. 

After the van started, I drove around the driveway, adjusted the chains and decided they are a bit small for the tires.  They could work, but there is no point no having the correct set.  I am accumulating a lot of items to return.

It's windy in Calgary and the wind is starting to build here now, at 1300.

I was researching tire chains on the Canadian Tire website to see what store has the right ones and now I notice that the policy is exchange only and only within three days of purchase.  Oh oh! 

When I bought them, I did ask the kid if I would be able to return them and he said, "Yeah, no prob", but he is a kid and I'll be at a different store returning them and other stuff.  No need to get hassled or have to get hot.  I should act now.

In the mountains, the cops sometimes require drivers to show they have chains before proceeding at checkpoints.  A popular trick was to buy chains, drive through the mountains and back, and if they were not needed, return them return them for cash back.

Let's see.  I bought them Sunday and this is Tuesday.  I'm running out of time.

I drove to Red Deer, bought the auger flighting, then returned items at the north Canadian Tire.  They took the chains, no questions asked.  Their Thule boxes were high on a wall, out of reach, and I wanted to compare before buying, so I drove to the  the south store.  Theirs were also a bit awkward to examine, so I bought both and will return the one I decide I do don't want.

From there, I went to Princess Auto and bought the same chains for $50 more than I had paid at Canadian Tire, but maybe they are the right size and will fit better.

I arrived home at 2100.

We really can’t forecast all that well, and yet we pretend that we can, but we really can’t.
Alan Greenspan

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Wednesday January 13th 2016

 

Today Increasing cloudiness this morning. Wind southwest 20 km/h. High minus 1.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Becoming cloudy after midnight. Low minus 8.

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 224.2 today, up 0.8 lbs.   Was it that Double Chicken Buddy Burger with its 960 mg of sodium?

I had concluded that salt was not an issue previously as my blood pressure was not high, but lately, I am realizing that salt consumption can affect water retention.  As a result, I've looked at recommendations and see that they run around 1,000 to 1,500 mg of sodium and run at 1,200/day for old folks! 

Who knew??  That one burger essentially blew my sodium budget for the day, and that is assuming that the cook that day was not more liberal than the food lab that drew up the specs.

"Sodium is an essential nutrient found in salt and many foods. Our bodies need a small amount of sodium to be healthy, but too much can lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Sodium intake has also been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, stomach cancer and severity of asthma. (ref)

Recommendations, are in mg of sodium and I suppose that includes the sodium in monosodium glutamate and other food additives as well.

Milligrams of sodium listed on labels are not the same as mg of salt.  Multiply by ~2.5 to get the salt mg.

I have the auger for the bin buddy rebuild now, two Thule boxes to evaluate, plus tire chains to try on for size.  Wind is predicted with sun and warm weather, so kiting is a possibility. I see I forgot a few grocery items last night, so maybe that means a trip to Strathmore, and a side-trip to Eagle Lake.

In stores I have visited lately for groceries, I notice a absence of some produce items. Moreover, yesterday I saw cauliflower at $7/head, rather than the $4 or $5 it was a few weeks ago, and that was Wal-Mart!  A week ago, no celery at No Frills.  Any bananas I see are too green to eat, but at least the price is unchanged.

I know the Canadian dollar is down, but not enough to justify sudden increases and shortages.  I have to assume the California drought has reduced plantings earlier and the effects are now showing up in stores, and/or that the produce buyers have become reluctant to stock produce for fear of buyer resistance to higher prices -- or both. 

My email and matters triggered by emails have already eaten up three hours of my morning.   I did get two loads of laundry in, but the dishes wait in the sink.  It is amazing how time flies. It seems like yesterday that I vacuumed and did laundry, but it is probably more like two weeks.

I have a runny nose this morning.  It is only on one side so far and I hope that it does not get worse.  That's the problem with going to town in winter and with eating in restaurants or drive-throughs.

From the Calgary Beekeepers...

Dear fellow members,

Please forgive me sullying our list with this posting about the flow hive.

Last night I was able to take a hands-on look at one of these infernal gadgets,
and rather than replicate what's already been written, will share these personal observations:

-  $800 CDN, Delivered.
- *Beautiful* manufacturing.     Tight fit, and nicely finished 7/8" Cedar.
-  Observation windows on sides.
-  Beautiful sloped-style roof.
-  The cells are all-plastic, but will still require the bees to rebuild about 10% of the cell walls after each use.
-  Apparently there are already flow hive knock-offs available on Alibaba.
-  Includes Bottom board (Solid), One deep, one "Flow super", 6 "Flow" frames, plastic excluder,  inner cover, Garden-hive style outer cover.
- On an economic basis, the hive falls short.     This setup, in Alberta would provide 20lbs-ish of honey per year.     That makes ROI at least 4 years, not taking into account price of bees and other equipment.    (Compare this to ROI on commodity woodenware, which can break-even the second, or even the first, year).     
- This setup, in Alberta, would be too small to manage, and would require additional Deeps/Supers.     If the additional components were bought from Flow, they would be expensive.    If one used commodity woodenware, they would be mismatched, and detract from the visual appeal of the hive.  

Aesthetically, I found the hive beautiful.
Viscerally, I found it, and what it represents, objectionable.
But did not set it on fire.

Daniel.

After spending a lot of time tracking down tire chains for my van, it occurred to me to read the manual. 

"To avoid damage to your vehicle or tires, observe the following precautions:  Use chains on P225/65R16 tires only. P225/65R17 tires do not provide adequate clearance.

I have P225 R65R17 tires.  Hmmm.  Chains are required on some mountain roads.  I'll fit the ones I have and see what I can learn.

I ignored the manual and put the chains on regardless of the possibility of interference with 17" wheels.  Then I drove around, turned the steering all the way over and back, and found no interference.  That does not mean the chains might not hit the body if the vehicle suspension bottoms on rough terrain if reasonable speeds are exceeded, or the chains get loose, but they will quite certainly work for me under the conditions I expect.  Good.

Years ago, we bought a used Datsun 4X4 and it came with big tires.  It turned out that the tires rubbed on the fender wells that are also the floor of the cab at the driver and passenger's feet when we turned the steering all the way over.  I took out a big hammer and pounded the floor up a bit so the wheels would clear and we used that truck for years.  Things were simpler in those days.

These chains are of an interesting, self-adjusting design I have not seen before and are actually quite easy to put on.  That does not mean -- even though it is warm today -- that I did not freeze my fingers doing the job.

*   *   *   *   *

I now have to decide on the Thule boxes.  The longer one is actually smaller, 11 cu ft and the shorter one is larger at 16.  Both are high enough to keep me out of parking garages, so that gives me reason to think.

I spent some time shuffling things around and thinking, but have not decided. Neither box will carry all the stuff I'd like to carry.  Due to their fixed, hard shape and side loading using  all the volume efficiently in either will be difficult.  I'd be better with an open basket carrier with a tarp, but I worry about security, but in truth, even a hard box with a lock won't stop a determined thief .

*   *   *   *

I last shoveled the ashes on January 7th.  Today is the 13th and I could probably go another day, but that is what I thought on the night of the 6th and then found a problem the next morning after we hit a pocket of shale in the coal.  I have no reason to push my luck, but I do want to know how long I can go between. It looks as if I can go seven days with the weather we have experienced this past week -- below normal -- until today.

I shoveled the ashes and got an entire drum.  I saw more shale in the ash.

*   *   *   *

My nose continued to drip, so I took an Allegra-D and that stopped it for the time being.  I'm not too energetic today.  maybe it is the cold, but I am glad I did not go kiting with the other guys.  Seems they had a good time, according to Facebook at least.

*   *   *   *

I'm finding I'm pretty serious about changing my diet and losing weight. What I am learning is actually quite shocking.  What I thought of as food all my life is actually manufactured product designed to make me hungry, not satisfy me.

I'm even starting to think that 180 pounds might be a good eventual target now that I am seeing results and can see this might work.  For now, 210 will do fine.  That is fourteen pounds and a month -- theoretically -- away.

I also think I must be quitting drinking, too.  It does not take much alcohol -- only a few drinks -- to make me feel lousy for days.   It never used to be that way.

Now, if I can only remember that when people are drinking wine and a glass of wine looks tempting...

He's turned his life around.
He used to be depressed and miserable. Now he's miserable and depressed
David Frost

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Thursday January 14th 2016

 

Today Cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries this morning. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming light late this morning. High zero.
Tonight Cloudy. Periods of snow beginning this evening. Local amount 2 cm. Low minus 12.

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 223.8 today, down 0.4 lbs from yesterday.

Last night was my best night of sleep in a while.   I experienced no nasal dripping during the night and I slept six hours straight.  My target is eight hours, but when I awoke at 0420, I was not tired, so I got up.

Yesterday one side of my nose was running almost constantly.  There was one ticklish spot in the left nostril and I pondered whether it was a sore of some sort irritating the nose and causing the flow or the beginning of a cold.  I really don't want the nasty cold that has been going around.  It lays people up for a week and then the after-effects linger on.

The flow got to the point where I took an Allegra-D 12-hour tablet.  The reviews I read all mention insomnia, but my experience seemed to be the opposite.  I slept soundly.  (I'd say 'slept like a baby', but I didn't wake up every two hours crying.)

My nose is normal this morning. Did I dodge a bullet, or is the '12-hour' tablet still working some fifteen hours later?  The expected effects and active half-life of any drug can vary widely from person to person.

It is warm and windy today, so I'll be compelled to go kiting.  I could just go out my door and kite on the nearby fields, but they roll up and down, causing the wind to vary in strength and making returning to the starting point less predictable than on a flat surface like a lake, and I would be without companions for company and support.

We see video of kiters in the mountains racing up and down the slopes and flying, but I am not quite to that point yet.  I figure I have had a good day if I can race around the flats, get back to the point of origin without walking or hitch-hiking and still walk downstairs comfortably the next day.

*   *   *   *   *

I often puzzle over how I become fully immersed in something one week and am off on something else the next, having seemingly forgotten my former passion, and how sometimes I get stuck in between, like now, and how days or weeks pass with nothing especially exciting happening.

The week before Christmas, I was living in Canmore, skiing every day and kiting at Spray Lakes. More. After that, I got out fairly often and now I seem to have drifted to other things.  One could say that life interfered?  But, what is life? 

On the local radio, I hear reports from a naturalist, Brian Keating who is in the Antarctic one day, somewhere in Africa the next, and maybe The Galapagos soon after.  I have to wonder how that feels and the day-to-day of it.

Next week, God willin' and the cricks don't rise, I'll be on the left coast on a sailboat and have forgotten the kites and skis and almost forgotten the plants and the furnace. and I don't have the latest data.

*   *   *   *   *

That reminds me it is plant-watering day.  That job takes an hour and over ten gallons of water.  I measured.  That is Imperial.  Twelve US gallons.

*   *   *   *   *

I had to measure some lines on my newest kite to troubleshoot some performance issues, and while working on that I decided that the Thule system is not flexible enough for what I plan.  I need something more flexible and realize I should be able to buy a huge duffle bag or just use a tarp and straps.

I wasted an hour or two  online and could not find any bags longer than 48".  My skis are 178 cm (70").  I think something like this (right) is going to have to be the solution -- a large tarp and bungee straps, perhaps with a plywood platform, perhaps not.

Not only will I have more capacity and flexibility by making my own setup but I'll save a lot of money, too.  Thule boxes are over $500 each.  I had to work up my courage to spend that much, but figured I could justify the cost if a box worked well for me.  I can see now, it won't.

*   *   *   *   *

I would use a larger, heavier tarp than in the picture and wrap the contents better than shown here.  I'd also make sure the tarp was well strapped so that it would not flutter and to discourage tampering by passers-by. Light tarps flutter no matter what you do, but heavy tarps resist flutter quite well.

I know how to make what I need, too. It is easy.  I have the design in my head.  Piece of cake.

Believe it or not, in the '70s, we used to make dining sets -- tables and chairs -- in our basement gym and deliver them to a furniture store Calgary on top of our car, a 1956 Olds.  I may have a picture somewhere.  I'm sure I do, but not handy.

To deliver them, before we had trucks and trailers, I built a roof rack that bolted directly to the car roof and consisted of two cross-stringers shaped to the roof curvature and a 4x8 sheet of plywood.  I drilled holes at appropriate spots on the plywood sheet and set the table and chairs onto the roof, then roped them down through the holes which provided positive positioning.

It was a sight to see, but it worked.  We had to choose times when weather or bugs would not be a problem.

I also delivered fifteen large Commodore Business computers SuperPets plus accessories to the Golden High School on top of my 1974 Plymouth station wagon when I installed Golden's first computer lab back in 1980 or so.  That was a huge load and probably not the wisest thing I have done, but I did it.

*   *   *   *   *

Well, it is 1400 and I have done quite a few things, but nothing that really feels like an accomplishment. 

The idea of wasting time is very protestant as is the idea of having a purpose in  life.  I am untroubled by the latter conviction, but do feel some time pressure to do things. I also find I have a poor sense of time, which hardly helps.

A FARMER STOOD IN AN ORCHARD holding a pig by its hind legs. He held the pig up, and the pig took apples out of the trees with his mouth and dropped them into a basket below. As soon as he picked one apple and dropped it into the basket, he reached for another one.

A man passed by and stopped to watch. He said, “I’ll bet it took a long time to teach that pig to do that.”

The farmer said, “Oh, time don’t mean nothin' to a hawg.”

*   *   *   *   *

I finished examining the kite and packed it up.  It is a monster, but when rolled up, it fits in a mid-size backpack with lots of room for more.

I'm finally ready to go out kiting and the wind dropped.  How about that?

*   *   *   *   *

I'm not doing supper here tonight.  Enthusiasm for a weekly meal seems to have waned for now.  Instead, I'll be going to The Mill.  I'll take chili, seeing  as they work during the day and I have the time, and the chili already made.

*   *   *   *   *

Well, I guess I do not have a cold.  My nose has not been dripping today.  Bonus!

*   *   *   *   *

Now that I have decided to return the expensive Thule boxes and build a rack, I am happier.  I could see that I will never be happy with a solid box.  I hate spending money and I like building things.

Thule boxes are 'in' prestige item that says "serious, affluent skier" to the shiny people, and the campy-looking setup I'll be building says something more like, "farmer".  To the rest of us, though, having taken a good look at the hard boxes, the store-bought box really says, "More money than ingenuity", or, "This guy can't have very many toys if they fit into that little thing". 

I carry three pairs of skis, at least one snowboard, plus helmets, boots, kites and poles, plus emergency equipment and I may want to have all seven seats available for passenger -- or be able to put  the seats down and blow up my air mattress for a night.  Therefore, I want the option to put everything on the roof at times, even if I may carry some things inside the van most of the time.

Now that I look carefully, I am thinking  may not need to build anything.  I may be able to simply put a heavy tarp on the roof, pile on the goodies, fold the tarp in, tie it up, and bungee it.  The roof has reinforcing ridges and the racks will carry most of the weight.  The rails provide a place to tie and I think that is all I need.  I'll get tarps, ropes, and bungee straps tomorrow and test out my plan shortly.

I had supper at the Mill with Fen, Maddy, Lorelee, Bert and Betty.  Fen and I decided to go to dinner theatre in Red Deer tomorrow night.  The others did not seem interested. 

I was home by 2045.

We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.
Arthur Schopenhauer

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Friday January 15th 2016

 

Today Flurries. Local amount 2 cm. High minus 9 with temperature falling to minus 14 this afternoon.
Tonight Periods of light snow. Low minus 19.

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 224.2 today, up 0.4 lbs from yesterday.  I ate over my calorie budget yesterday.   In spite of calculated daily calorie deficits totaling 11,140 over ten days, which should represent a 3-lb loss, I weigh the same as I did on the 6th.  I have plateaued again.

I have not been as active the past few  days and that is bound to be a big factor.  I am also thinking that the energy-burn numbers that are given for various activities like housework, driving, shopping, etc. on Fatsecret may be optimistic.

A big portion of my daily research time the past few days has been dedicated to looking into books on overeating, food choices, etc.

I have been becoming increasingly aware of how harmful some popular foods are and, since I have an Audible account, I figured one of these books would be a good read/listen, but which one?   In my experience, many books could have presented their thesis in one short chapter, and sometimes one paragraph or sentence, but many run on needlessly for 250 pages. 

For me, "A word to the wise is sufficient".  I want to avoid time-wasters -- false arguments and empty words --  and in making such decisions I rely on Amazon book reviews. 

I make a point of reading or skimming the critical reviews, along, of course, with a few selected positive reviews, and I have found that by doing so, I can eliminate many of the books.

The positive reviews typically can be expected to include fluff from the writer's mother, the book publisher, friends, undergrads hoping for favour and other disingenuous flattery designed to boost the book, sometimes written under pseudonyms.

The negative reviews may include flak from competitors and drivel from cretins, but generally they are a worthwhile source f counterpoint, and shorter.

Moreover, in the process, I learn the distilled contents of each book and the take-home messages without having to sit through the book. As a huge bonus, for free, I can skim through a rainbow of criticisms, arguments and insights from people of all sorts from experts to laypeople.  In the case of these food books, the reviewers run from nurses, dieticians, fellow authors, and researchers to farmers and construction workers; and IMO, their perspectives are probably more useful than  the book itself.

And Amazon reviews are not the only source of commentary:
           Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck

My eventual conclusion?  Everything depends on everything else. Everyone wants to sell us food or a book, and is selecting 'facts' and promoting a viewpoint that benefits that end, but beyond some obvious truths, nobody really knows because everyone is lying or telling partial truths, deliberately in some case, but naively in many. 

Moreover, there is not just one universal truth -- assuming static independent truth exists -- that can apply to everyone.

It seems clear that reducing calorie consumption, avoiding animal products and exercising daily are not panaceas, but beneficial -- at least to the consensus of today's thinkers -- but beyond that facts are confused and reaching unambiguous conclusions is difficult, if not impossible.

As always, follow the money.

*   *   *   *   *

Speaking of food, I am going to dinner theatre in Red Deer tonight and  to be at The Mill to pick Fen up by 1630.  Also, I have a load of coal coming tomorrow and have a few things to do to be ready.  Other than that, I have bookwork and housework to do.  With temperatures below minus ten, I am unlikely to go kiting.

I picked up Fen ten minutes later than planned and we drove to Red Deer.  The country roads were  covered with snow up to the undercarriage, but it was light and fluffy.  The main roads were plowed and sanded, but snow-packed.   Driving was just fine.

I am learning the new traction control and stability features of this van.  Amazingly, it maintains the track requested by the steering wheel, even while braking or in a skid.  That takes some getting used to since as an experienced winter driver, I am accustomed to having to compensate for over or under steer and to feel and pump the brakes.  With this van, all I have to do is steer and brake much as on dry roads.  The noise and pulsing of the traction and stability systems working tales some getting used to.  the pulsing and grunting sound awful, but are best ignored.

We stopped at Canadian Tire and I returned the Thule boxes and a trailer break-away system, and exchanged an air pump that did not work, then we proceeded to the Quality Inn  and found the dinner theatre.

Dinner was the usual steam table buffet.  I took a plate and sampled a bit of everything, then had a cream pie and a piece of carrot cake for dessert. 

Buffets are always a conundrum for the value-conscious person.  We pay a flat price and the temptation is to get one's money worth by loading up, and people do.  If you ever go to all you can eat buffets, I don't think it is a coincidence that the people there seem several sizes larger on average than the general population.  In truth, though, no waste is greater than the waste of consuming more food than one actually needs. No one benefits.

The play was Gladys in Wonderland (more) and this was the first night.  It went off well and was quite enjoyable.  Everyone did a great job.  I actually enjoy these amateur productions more than I enjoy professional theatre.

We drove back south over snowy roads and by ten thirty, I dropped Fen at the Mill and continued home.

 

One is tempted to define man as a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
Oscar Wilde

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Saturday January 16th 2016

 

Today Periods of light snow. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 15 with temperature falling to minus 21 this afternoon. Wind chill minus 27 this afternoon.
Tonight Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of flurries. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 23. Wind chill minus 31.

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

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

I weigh 225.2 today, up one pound from yesterday.  I blew my calorie budget yesterday at the dinner theatre buffet.   I knew I was doing that and did not go crazy eating, but I did have a fairly full plate and cream pie.  I did  not bother counting calories. 

Although I definitely did exceed the calorie budget, I am quite sure, I am quite certain that what causes the gain is the type of food, not the calories and that the gain is mostly fluid.   One cannot gain a pound of fat overnight from slight overeating.

In the forum yesterday, a forum member posted a thought-provoking link to a talk, that, among other things, explains very clearly how simple calorie balance cannot explain obesity.  The evidence is quite obvious

I think this is fairly obvious and that calorie management is only a device to achieve temporary progress and that other factors are involved in long-term maintenance.

The video is an hour long and most of the talk is background showing that calorie balance alone cannot explain obesity and is worthwhile, but if you are impatient or already know all this, the real message begins at around the 45-minute mark and the conclusions around 55 minutes.

     

Maybe I have not mentioned glycemic index and glycemic load lately, but these concepts are central to my diet philosophy.  I have monitored my blood sugar for years now, precisely because I am aware of how rises in  blood sugar are implicated in weight gain and health problems.

The problem is that high glycemic food items are everywhere and hard to avoid, especially in restaurants and on social situations. 

High glycemic foods and snack it3ems are presented as a treat.  At the theatre last night, I was tempted and ate some desserts.  This morning, I went to the Mill for breakfast, and what did we have?  Pancakes with chocolate or jam.  We had fruit, too and bacon, but...

I worked on the bin buddy in the afternoon and the coal came at 1700.  To fill the bin before the yard drifts in, I ordered before the bin was empty, so there was coal piled, on top of the bin again.

I definitely don't want to get snow in the coal because if the coal gets moisture in it, the coal freezes solid, bridges, and won't fall onto the auger.  Then the auger runs bare and the furnace stops producing heat and someone has to devote time, day and night, to periodically poking the coal to keep heat coming. 

So, I went out after supper and found tarps and old tires to weigh the tarps down and covered up the pile.

It is a beautiful cold winter night.  Windchills of minus forty are predicted, but, dressed properly, it is fantastic out there.  There is enough light that  in years gone by I'd be skidooing with friends and enough wind tonight that I'd be kiting if I had company.  Flying around the fields alone at night, though, is not prudent.

It seems no one skidoos anymore.  There is one track going by my drive and that is it although conditions are perfect. Years back, the night would be filled with the roar and moans of passing sleds.

The picture at right was taken from my south deck, in December 2000.

My diesel truck that was so hard to start at zero is now starting for me at minus twenty.  I plugged it in this morning, ran it, and then it sat for hours.  After that interval, it started right up.  I find that very encouraging.

Instant gratification takes too long.
Carrie Fisher

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Sunday January 17th 2016

 

Today Cloudy with 60 percent chance of snow this morning then a mix of sun and cloud. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 16. Wind chill minus 27.
Tonight Cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries late this evening and after midnight with risk of freezing rain. Wind up to 15 km/h. Temperature rising to minus 12 by morning. Wind chill minus 25.

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 222.6 today, down and amazing 2.6 pounds from yesterday.  This the least I have weighed since 2007 or 2008.

Yesterday was an active day, working in the shop, clearing the snow off the bin and putting tarps and tires on the coal pile. I also stuck to my diet.  I ate an estimated 91% of my RDI of 2300 calories, and, after adding in exercise, had a deficit of 1351.

As noted previously, calories do not account for everything and the one thing that is important, but I seldom state is that I am usually quite selective about the foods I eat.  I avoid sugars, and simple carbs. (That includes honey). I am also avoiding or limiting red meat, processed meat, and processed foods in general.

Although carb counting alone cannot explain every aspect of weight loss, studies show time and again that regardless of the central theme, the effective diets wind up restricting calories.  Even if they claim to be based on other factors, when examined, the effective ones all reduce caloric intake.

Patrick plans to go to Spray today.  I have one of his kite bars and need to get it back to him before I go to the coast.  Although we have minus twenty here at sunrise, with minus sixteen as a high and snow predicted, the forecast for Spray is minus three, sunny and windy.  I don 't feel like going since I leave tomorrow for a week and have odds and ends to tidy up and some worrying to do first, but we shall see.

I always worry before I go away and for the first few miles down the road, then I forget about home and those worries fade away. 

I always wonder about the effects of place on a person.  Birds and animals navigate accurately over great distances without a compass or map.  They must have a sense of something we do not or do not realise we have.

My dog once jumped out of the car when at a friend's place twenty miles distant across farms, streams and gullies with no roads and showed up at home again the next day.  We had never walked that route.  I'm sure he did not follow a road. How did he know?

When my wife and I travelled southward, towards Acme, Calgary, etc. the most direct route was/is down a country road that passes the Swalwell Cemetery.  When returning home by that same route, we would often be chatting as we drove, but when climbing that hill, and about three miles from home, I would notice that the tone of the conversation would change and tend to become less companionable.

Was it the location, the realization that we were about to resume our home life, duties and worries, or the cemetery?  I don't know.  Ellen is now buried in that cemetery now.  I don't find that driving by affects me at all and I am not always even aware I am passing that area.

It's ten, now, and the go/no-go moment.  I still have things to do, so my decision is made.  No go.

To Calgary Beekeepers today:

> If I understand an oldtimer correctly, the Province of Alberta used to have a bee rearing program to supply packages of bees. The program was nixed by the Klein government.

I don't recall that exactly, but various schemes have been dreamed up over the years to try to compensate for the tremendous and well-documented costs imposed on our industry by the 'temporary' closure of our national border to bees from our traditional source.

Indeed, Alberta apiculture was founded and maintained until the mid-eighties on California package bees.

> does anyone know more details about the program – how many packages were produced, who ran the program and where the program was based?

Henry Pirker, a Northern Alberta master beekeeper wrote an article about producing package bees in Alberta, but I don't know that it was ever applied on any scale. Another beekeeper, Richard Kemp, wrote an article about how a single hive could be used to produce sixteen(?) colonies by fall in Alberta as I recall.

Although many things can be done once and by one person, usually with a lot of hoopla, for anything to be possible in any scale, many people have to be able to do it with predicable and reliable outcomes. Each success is a flash in the pan and gets hopes up, and sucks people in, but nothing ever comes of such hopes.

Wintering and bee management in general in Alberta is unpredictable, and unpredictable to the extent that it is very risky to count on any one technique to be successful from year to year. You can't really count on anything except that there is at least one joker somewhere in the deck.

Saskatchewan was bragging a few years ago that they would be able to provide bees for Canada and reduce or eliminate the need for packages. I'm not hearing much about that now.

Vancouver Island produced some packages for a while and maybe still does, but they had to import queens. I was out on the island when packages were being collected from small beekeepers one year I recall. They had to scrounge to meet orders. Even that relatively benign climate is not as predictable as the US South (and the US South sometimes has shortages).

Some beekeepers winter nucs in the Lower Mainland with success, but the possibilities there are limited.

> Every year when packages are flown in from down under I am amazed that there is not a program provincially or nationally to raise bees for Canadian beekeepers.

It is not from lack of dreaming and trying, or lack of investment. Our best hope is Global Warming.

Trust me, if producing surplus bees could be done competitively and profitably in Alberta, or Canada generally, it would be done on a sufficient scale that the cost of bees would be driven down by now to where imports would be uncompetitive. That is how our economic system works.

I produce bees and the only thing that makes it worthwhile is the ridiculous cost of the alternatives. Alberta is suited to making honey cheaply - lots of it -- and southern regions are suited to producing bees cheaply, lots of them. This is called comparative advantage.

> I fear that when [not if] something affects that weak link of importing from New Zealand, Canadian beekeepers are going to be left with no source of bees.

Our traditional source, California could and would supply, given some lead time and some guarantees that the market would not be suddenly destroyed by capricious regulatory action , but disinformation, xenophobia and FUD campaigns have kept the border closed long after it has been proven conclusively that the costs to Canadian beekeeping from the embargo on US packages are far greater than any benefit.

The simple answer is to open the US border and learn to deal with whatever comes along, just as our neighbours several feet south of us do now., happily and profitably.

In eight of ten provinces, the border between Canada and the US is invisible, just a fence or a blocked road. Bees fly back and forth freely.

"The Falcon has landed" | Recap of Falcon 9 launch and landing

Around two, I heard from  Patrick.  He was going to Weed.  I said that the temperatures were a bit low for me and he said it was expected to warm by mid-afternoon and since I wanted to get his bar to him and pick up my line extensions, I decided to go.  I was at Beiseker when  he texted they were thinking of leaving Weed and going to Namaka.  If I had known that, I could have gone straight to Namaka, but I said, "OK". 

I was extremely low on gas, so we met up at Hwy 1 and Road 270 and drove together to Strathmore where I filled up and had coffee.  They went ahead and soon changed the plan again, this time to Eagle.

I thought of going home, but decided to drive the twelve kilometers out of my way to see how it went.  They were having a good ride on sister kites to my Lithium, but Patrick said it was about as cold as he had ever been kiting.  He guessed minus twenty, but my van said minus fourteen. 

No matter the number, I had decided it was too cold and too late in the day for me.  Minus ten is my cutoff, especially with the sun low in the sky and disappearing behind cloud on the horizon.  I watched a while and then drove home.  The picture tells the story. That is what an Alberta late afternoon a January looks like.  Dark.

I received a summons for jury duty a while back, requiring me to report tomorrow morning.  I was eligible to be excused and had applied to be exempted on the  basis of age, poor memory (True -- I had forgotten about it) and distance, but heard nothing, so I phoned the recording number on the form just now and apparently the jury call had been cancelled.  That is a good thing -- for me at least. I have a ticket to YYJ, leaving at noon tomorrow.

At left we see several familiar items -- several pieces of fruit and a few little pills.

What I ask is this: if half a little pill like the one shown can lower my blood pressure by ten or twenty points and slow my heart by ten, what can these larger items -- and the various other things we eat with little thought about effects -- do?

We know what the pills do, or should do, but what do we really know about common foods? 

People fear GMO foods, but accept traditional foods and herbs even though some have been proven decidedly harmful and some of the rest have effects that may be deleterious to some or all, but are considered fine or even nutritious and/or beneficial since we are so familiar with them and known them from infancy.

Last thing of the day, I crawled into the bin to adjust the bin buddy demand switch that determines when the coal has dropped and more is needed.  Everything else works AOK, but the switch needed a little adjusting.   I think I got it, but I am not totally happy with how it is working.

Morning will tell.

I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts.
Mark Twain

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Monday January 18th 2016

 

Today Cloudy. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this morning. High minus 8.
Tonight Clear. Becoming partly cloudy after midnight. Low minus 19T.

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 always wake up early on a day when I make a jump and when I awoke at 0429 this morning I was wide awake  I got up.

I have lots to do before I go, and must leave by 1000 at the latest.

I see the forecast has turned colder than previous forecasts.  That is not good.  I worry when it is colder than normal when  I am away.

I weighed in at 222.6 again today. I had only five or six hours of sleep and since I lose about 0.4 lbs/hour when asleep, I would guess that my weight would be a pound or so less if I had slept a full eight hours, but that is just a meaningless guess.

Of course, I am weighing too often for each reading to be meaningful, but it is fun. I have to make a game of this to keep engaged.

First thing, I noticed that the bin buddy switch had not triggered, so that needs some fiddling.  Why do I do these things at the last minute?

I left on time and dropped Zippy at the Mill.  She did not really want to stay there, but what other choice was there?  Besides, she has a good time there and the staff spoil her to the extent that she is a nuisance when she gets home, wanting in, out and lots of attention.

I parked at the lot and caught the shuttle to the airport and soon I was getting out of a taxi at Port Sidney Marina. I visited with the charter company staff a bit, went for groceries, then pulled away from the dock, headed for Russell Island.

 By the time I reached Dock Island, I realised that sundown comes early at that location, even though it is south of home, not later as expected and that I was an hour from my destination, with night falling soon.  I checked the moon phase, turned on the running lights, and called Bruce.  I figured that I might go into Fulford and have supper with him if I could see well enough to go that far.

The moon was waxing gibbous and although there was some cloud, I figured I'd be okay so I proceeded.  I don't normally move at night in these waters since there is so much driftwood, but it had been blowing all day in one direction and I was not seeing any logs.  I also could follow the lighted path of the ferry terminal lights reflected on the water.

I arrived at the pier, docked perfectly in the semi-dark, tied up and met Bruce.  We ate at the Rock Salt Restaurant and I totally ignored my diet, other than having a chef's salad in place of chips with the two beers and what turned out to be a ginormouus lamb burger.

I guess if they charge that much, they figure it has to be big.  I hate restaurants.

We left the restaurant around eight.  I returned to Cassiopeia and turned in early.

A man has to know his limitations.
Clint Eastwood 

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Tuesday January 19th 2016

 

Today Sunny early this morning then a mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent chance of flurries this afternoon. Fog patches dissipating this morning. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 5. Wind chill minus 27 this morning.
Tonight A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness overnight. Fog patches developing 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 woke up around 0330 and wondered how things are at home.  Lacking Internet, I had not checked before going to bed.  Now I wondered if I should worry.

I got dressed and prepared to walk up the street to where I would find a signal on my phone, but gave it a try from the boat and was able to see the cameras.  The signal comes and goes here.

New Dietary Guidelines

I went back to bed and slept until weight, then cast off and sailed ov3ere to Ganges.  That took a few hours.  I decided top tie up at the Ganges Marina and paid $32 for the privilege even though I saw no one and the only service I received was the privilege of tying to their dock and walking on the docks. I figured I did not want to put the outboard on the dinghy and was unsure of where I could leave it, so tying up was easiest.

I met Bruce at a dockside bar and had two beers and some wings. My diet is having a day off.  We then walked around town then went to his place for supper.  We had steak and I had wine with the meal. 

After supper, he drove me back to the marina and I called it a day.

A thing worth having is a thing worth cheating for.
W. C. Fields

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