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 November 2018

 

 

 

 

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       Tuesday November 20th 2018

Today Sunny. Wind west 20 km/h gusting to 40. High 11. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight Clear. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 6. Wind chill minus 3 in the evening and minus 8 overnight.

I see the snow at home has melted. Here, the weather is about the same as ever, but sunny.  Yesterday was overcast.

Thanksgiving is Thursday and my search online for a stuffed frozen turkey has so far been in vain.  I'd have thought that here in California such things would be everywhere.  Apparently not.

I fly home Saturday, so should start thinking in that direction.  When I get home, my major project will be to get gas heat installed.  I think I am ready to do that.

It takes all day to get even a little done.  I managed to write a few important emails and went shopping for Thanksgiving items with Jon.

I think I have the insurance project underway again after a stall and I reversed charge on my credit card from the marina where I would be if not for the incident.

Jon made some really hot chili for supper.

I've has some issues with this computer -- slow performance and battery failure to charge so we looked inside and decided to order a new battery and an SSD drive on Amazon using Jon's Prime account.  My Prime does not apply here in the US or maybe it might, but his was more convenient.

We put it all back together and it works for the time being. Swapping in the SSD drive will take a few hours as we have to image this drive then transfer the image to the new drive.  The process is not without issues in the past, but Jon seems quite confident and after all, he is an IT pro.

Quote of the Day
The best revenge is not to be like that
Marcus Aurelius

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       Wednesday November 21st 2018

Today Sunny. Wind becoming south 20 km/h gusting to 40 late this afternoon. High 9. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight Clear. Wind south 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light late this evening. Low minus 1. Wind chill minus 5 overnight.

I woke up at one-thirty and got up.  I'd slept well thus far but knew I would not sleep for a while so here i am writing.

We are now one month into fall. Two months until winter.

After an hour or so I went back to bed and slept until seven.  I took two Benadryl to be sure to sleep, but I am generally avoiding this solution after reading this about this.

I worked on repair estimates and other projects all day and walked the dog in the afternoon. It's about a half-mile around the block.

Quote of the Day
Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.
 Jose Ortega y Gasset

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       Thursday November 22nd 2018

Related image        US Thanksgiving     Related image

Today Clear. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this morning. Wind southwest 20 km/h becoming light this morning. High 9. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness overnight. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 7. Wind chill minus 3 in the evening and minus 10 overnight.

We put the turkey in at nine, still frozen.  An hour later, there was still a huge block of ice inside and we realised that the Butterball we bought had at least a pound of pure ice included in the weight we paid for.

Food processers have imaginative ways to sell us water to add weight to the foods we buy.  Packaged fish and chicken tend to have salt water injected and I am certain some butchers add water to ground beef.  Honey on the shelf is always exactly at the maximum moisture allowed for the grade -- 17.8% -- although honey from the hive is often at 15% or drier. Hmmmm..

It took several hours to get to where we could pull the ice out.  From there on, the bird cooked as expected and was ready before three.

Maks and Elaine arrived and we sat down for the usual meal, followed by pumpkin and apple pies with  whipped cream.

Later when we sat down to watch Elf,  I realised I had eaten too much. I went to bed and watched an episode of The Kominsky Method and then dozed.

It seems families have a favourite movie they watch together annually and Jon's family seems to like Elf as Christmas approaches. Personally I find Elf to be beyond stupid, but to each his own as they say.  We used to watch Back to the Future or Groundhog Day.

Well, now Thanksgiving 2018 is over -- twice for me -- and I head back to Alberta Saturday.

Quote of the Day
You never know whos swimming naked until the tide goes out.
Warren Buffett

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       Friday November 23rd 2018

Today Mainly cloudy. Periods of snow beginning late this morning. Local amount 2 cm. High plus 1.
Tonight Periods of snow. Amount 5 cm. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 9. Wind chill minus 7 in the evening and minus 12 overnight.

I walked the dog,  Fought with the troublesome computer, and that was about it for the day.

Quote of the Day
The best things in life are free.
The second best things are very, very expensive 
 Coco Chanel

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       Saturday November 24th 2018

I was packed by 9:30, so Jon and I set out for LAX in the van.  We stopped at Fry's to browse laptops, then continued to LAX.

Jon dropped me off and I had two hours to kill.

I was impressed at the prices for food at the airport.  Inflation has set in and it takes $20 to get a basic meal now.  $20 US.

The flight left late and I managed to contract Bert to let him know just before take-off.  He was at YYC to pick me up when I landed.  The roads were slick with packed snow and the temperature minus fourteen. I was glad I had left him with the van and not the car.  I had anticipated the chance of weather like this and figured that studded tires would be best.  Bert was impressed with their grip on the road.  They make slick roads seem dry, but loose snow can still be a concern, especially when changing lanes.

I drove Bert home over icy and snow-packed roads and through fog and ice crystals.  Visibility was poor at points and I was glad to have good traction for steering and stops.

After I dropped him off, I drove home.  When I opened the door, I could smell coal smoke.  A trip downstairs came up with nothing unusual, so I gathered it may have been a glitch and went upstairs, updated the other laptop, read the mail and the Capital, then went to bed.

Quote of the Day
Everything that happened to me happened by mistake.
I don't believe in fate.
It's luck, timing and accident.
Merv Griffin

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       Sunday November 25th 2018


7.1  228.4

Today Mainly sunny. Fog patches dissipating this afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 4. Wind chill near minus 10. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight Clear. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 11. Wind chill minus 10 in the evening and minus 16 overnight.

I slept until 0830 and got up.  I'm up twenty pounds and my BG is high.  Time to smarten up.

The furnace ran low on coal overnight and the house was cool, so I raked more onto the auger and had breakfast.  The smoke seems to have dissipated overnight, so it may have been from when Carolyn shoveled ashes yesterday. Maybe not.

The day is bright and sunny and we have three inches of fresh snow on the ground.

After lunch, I went out and put chargers on the car and truck.

Batteries run down when vehicles that sit unused.  The electronics are sleeping, but still draw 20 ma or so waiting for someone to press a remote key pad and that adds up over time -- 15 Ah in a month and that is a fifth of the battery's 75 Ah total capacity when new.

I've been wondering what to do with the truck since I have not been able to get it running, and I have tried several times.  I know the issue has something to do with the PCM or the wiring harness nearby and it is intermittent.

I found out a year ago that there is a place near Alix that can work on it but I could not figure out how to get the truck there.  My recent van experience made me think: AMA will haul a non-functioning vehicle up to 100 miles for free on my current roadside assistance plan.  I get three such free assists a year. This would make two.  Last time I called them was for flat tires on my van last year (I think) in Sudbury.

Ooops.  Tilley is 214 km -- 133 miles -- in the other direction (left). Over 100 miles, I'm on my own and I imagine the cost is not insignificant.  Just the same, I'm going to have to do something.

Turns out there is a higher level of membership that tows up to 320km.  Hmmmm.  Interesting.  Okay.  I send the truck down to Tilley.  Suppose they can fix it. How do I get it back?  And if they cannot???

I figured the coal smoke might have something to do with corrosion in the smoke tube to the chimney.  It has happened before and I put on a patch.  Water gathers down there and is acid, so maybe it has eaten out again.

Sure enough. That was the issue. I made another patch and torqued it on with gear clamps.  Done.  It took me a half-hour start to finish.  It's not a thing of beauty, but it works.

I'm listening to tracks Spottily picked out for me based on what I have chosen over the past week and I'm not too impressed.  Apparently the algorithm chooses tracks by the same and similar artists.  That's a problem.  I may like one piece from an album or artist and dislike or even abhor others.


I've given up on the United Beekeepers of Alberta Council. So has Liz, So has Malcolm.  We were the three original founding members.  Since Tracey has been involved, she has managed to convince all three of us that there is no hope as long as she is involved.

At this point, it seems clear to me that the path being taken will lead to lots of talk, small membership, little money, little action, co-option by the Commission, and nothing of consequence for beekeepers.

I got an email today, the first in a while from Tracey, saying that she has set up a website at www.unitedbeekeepers.org and wants to do something.  She says, "...if you could think of how to merge these products so UBA has a solid and open-access foundation it would be appreciated."  Translation into English, please.  

We already have two domains, www.albertabeekeepers.com and www.UnitedBeekeepersOfAlberta.com.  I doubt she has any idea how much work went into them. 

Quote of the Day
Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.
George Carlin

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       Monday November 26th 2018

Today A mix of sun and cloud. Fog patches dissipating this morning. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 1. Wind chill minus 15 in the morning and minus 5 in the afternoon. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 5. Wind chill near minus 8.

I'm catching up on email today.  I'm a very slow writer, but managed to get a few done.  Each is important and wording must be precise to achieve the required result.  It is like computer programming.  Use the wrong words or the wrong syntax and you get the wrong result. If you tell people clearly, there is a possibility of achieving understanding and co-operation.

Just before noon, I heard a chopper really really close and looking out saw the area near the crossing blocked off and huge cloud of snow.  Stars Air Ambulance was landing.  The Linden Fire Department was on hand and unloaded a gurney, then stood waiting.  I figured something had happened somewhere on the rail line, but eventually an ambulance came and a patient was transferred and the chopper lifted off.

               

My phone does not ring when it should and I get a missed call message instead.  I wasted an hour researching, only to learn that it is known Android bug that Google has not for whatever reason done anything about.  It seems to me that ringing is a prime function of a phone, so how can they have let this slide for several years and several Android versions??

Another little annoyance is money transfers. While in Mexico, I needed to make a transfer and found my bank would not do one unless I was in the branch, and, of course, I was in Mexico.  I'll have to do something about that.  First, though, I have to research the issue and there goes another hour. Make that two or maybe three?

I drove to town at three to meet with the bank manager to set up a US account so I can pay US bills.  The job should take fifteen minutes, but took an hour and half.  It was supposed to be easy to do on an iPad, but that failed and we had to phone.  Then when setting up passwords, the bank site refused to accept anything I  tried.

I bought groceries and a cooked chicken and drove home, had supper and tried with my laptop. Same result, but finally by trying and trying I finally found one that was accepted. 

 I watched a Belgian Netflix video and went to bed at nine.

It was in French with English subtitles and I was surprised at how much French I understand.  I think studying Spanish has unlocked that part of my brain.  The languages have similarities, but they are structurally different.  I'm reaching the point where I understand more than a little Spanish, but my vocabulary is very limited.

Quote of the Day
Think of how stupid the average person is,
and realize half of them are stupider than that.
George Carlin

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       Tuesday November 27th 2018

5.2 227.4

Today A mix of sun and cloud. High 6. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Risk of freezing rain overnight. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 6. Wind chill minus 3 in the evening and minus 8 overnight.

I smelled coffee at 0700.  The coffee maker woke up right on schedule but I went back to sleep and got up at 0800.  I'm groggy today.

I made an omelet for breakfast and drank four cups of coffee.  Scheduled for today is more letter writing and deskwork, plus a walk around town.

I've dropped a pound since yesterday and my BG is 5.3.  Being home and eating right makes a difference. I'm liking being here.  The furnace is working well, but I need to get moving on installing a replacement.

I don't know where the time goes. Around eleven, Carolyn and I went for a short walk down to the mailboxes and back.  It was a  bright, sunny day and mild.

Then I had lunch and wrote a few emails and tried to figure out my US account.  One thing I learned is that probably PayPal is the easiest and cheapest way to send money from one country to another.  I did a test entry and there don't seem to be dollar limits like there are with other methods, but I did not test any huge numbers. I don't have that kind of thing in mind.  I cancelled out before it came to point where it would have been obvious the source account I used does not have the funds I used for a test number.

I was writing another email in a series and decided instead to call the insurance adjuster. He said from what he has seen so far, I should ask the investigator to file his report quickly so that a decision can be made. There is enough now to have a good idea of the eventual costs.  Then the insurers will either decide to pay for repairs or settle with a lump sum.

Either way, a month has passed and it is time to decide.  I'd like to have things straight by January, but that would be pushing things, judging by the rate this has gone so far.  Just the same, when a good crew gets to work, the structural work will take less than a week.  The electrical will take longer as the parts need to be sourced and delivered.

I'm still burning coal and it is getting down.  Will I get a replacement before it runs out?  I doubt it and it would be good to have backup, but my slate is clear to get back to that job now.  Of course there are a few little distractions, but the main ones are now out of the way.

I spent the evening looking at laptops online, seeing as my Acer is having problems.  After that, I watched an episode and a bit of The Break and went to bed.

Quote of the Day
I'm for human lib, the liberation of all people,
not just black people or female people or gay people.
Richard Pryor

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       Wednesday November 28th 2018

Today A mix of sun and cloud. High 6. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 11. Wind chill minus 3 in the evening and minus 14 overnight.

I woke up at two and got up for an hour then went back to bed, but didn't sleep, so changed beds and still did not sleep.  Got up and made eggs and coffee.  Finally went to sleep at around five and slept until 10:24.

Some people can't sleep except in their own bed. I am the opposite.  I sleep best in a new place. I find that if I am not sleeping and get up a while, and then go back to the same bed, my thoughts and dreams are still waiting for me there and resume when I lie down, but in another location, this does not happen.

Today is bright and sunny. I'll get out for a walk, for sure.

I went down and shoveled coal and then my brother called.  We spoke for an hour.  Mom had a fall recently and Ron happened to be there shortly after to assist. She was bruised, but needs additional care for the time being.

I bought an SSD for my small laptop, but it has developed battery and monitor issues, so I decided to use the SSD for my Samsung NP-SF410 instead.  It has been my main machine at home for years but has gotten very slow. 

I ran into problems, though.  It turned out that the current drive is 597GB and the new one is 512, but actually has 497GB available.  So, I had to shrink and move partitions. I researched and tried the usual-- Easeus, Macrium, etc. and fell back on Minitool Partition Wizard Free.  The others were either too hard to use or lacked the features I needed to do the entire job.  Minitool isa still free, full-featured, and has an easy to understand graphical interface, plus great ratings.

It took me hours of research and fiddling, but I was two thirds done by midnight.

Quote of the Day
The bravest thing that men do is love women.
Mort Sahl

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       Thursday November 29th 2018

Today Mainly sunny. High plus 3. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 13. Wind chill minus 5 in the evening and minus 16 overnight.

I was up at 0830, and have an appointment for a hearing test at ten.

I spoke with Miguel and things are coming together, it seems.  I called Mom and she is in good spirits.  (Of course she is.  She is the centre of attention since her fall and people are around 24 hours until she recovers.)

I drove to town, took the test that showed what I already knew and arranged to buy the top of the line hearing aid.  There are guarantees and no commitment, so we'll see.  I then had the tires filed with air, had a breakfast sandwich, bought gas and groceries and drove home.

When I returned home, the cloning had completed, so I installed the SSD drive and it worked!  They were not kidding about it being 15X faster than my 5900 RPM drive.

Carolyn was ready to walk, so at 1330, we walked down to Harvey's and back.  She has less stamina now that she is back on the full dose of meds.

I had some Aeroplan points I was concerned might expire today, so I booked a flight to Sudbury for mid-December.  That lights a fire under me to get the heating job done a before then.

The Samsung is running well now and it is fast again.  The SSD did the trick.  I had been watching in the task manager and the disk had been a bottleneck at 100% while the processor and memory were underutilized.  Now the disk is better matched to the system and the processer is not waiting on the disk.

I still have to deal with the Acer.  It will not access the large monitor beside it since I refreshed windows, and is a pain to use.  Also, my daily software was uninstalled with the refresh.  Bummer.  Add to that the battery problem and I think it is toast.  How much time can I spend on this?

I looked at heating systems online and wrestled with computer issues on the Acer and went to bed just after midnight.

Quote of the Day
Some people have no idea what they're doing,
and a lot of them are really good at it.
George Carlin

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Friday November 30th 2018

6.2 

Today Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High zero. Wind chill minus 13 in the morning. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness late this evening. Fog patches developing overnight. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 7. Wind chill near minus 10.

I'm up at 0700.  It is time to get downstairs and work on heat and hot water today.  I slept less than usual and but better.  I used my sleep mask for a change and that maybe helped.

Having a fast computer sure makes work easier. 

For some reason my machines that once were fast have slowed, and I attribute that to the evolution of Windows.  Every update adds more security and other burdens on the system and machines that once were fast find themselves doing a lot more work to accomplish what is essentially the same job.  At the same time, websites that once were simple and small uploads, even over slow connections, have added a lot of "features" and calls to other sites that require many additional tasks just to view a page.  Browser add-ons to eliminate junk ads, trackers, scripts, other nuisances, and unnecessary eye candy slow things too. 

After changing the Samsung to a solid state drive which is 15X faster than the 5,900 RPM mechanical drive, it is clear that Chrome and Firefox now both consult the hard drive a lot more than in the past.  The change happened a year ago or a bit less and I noticed my machines slowing. It could be they employ a large cache and I don't see settings to reduce the size.  Caches are supposed to speed rendering, but require a search for every image.

I am still having video issues with the Acer.  I looked at potential replacements for that machine and they are all around the $1,000 mark, assuming I want something that is fast, light and won't be obsolete next year.  Finding one with the necessary video ports to run a second monitor is an issue, too since Windows 10 apparently has a continuing issue driving by HDMI, which is replacing VGA.  I depend on second monitors for extra real estate.

So, right now I have one fast machine with two screens, but am used to having two with a total of four screens -- tow large and two smaller.  The Acer works, but has a small screen that's okay when travelling and close-up, but too small for many tasks when on the desk with others.

In late morning, I started on the heating problem, but with repairing an electric space heater.  These devices, and other electrical appliances like coffee makers, etc. nowadays have a thermal fuse in them so that if they overheat for whatever reason, the fuse blows and the device is rendered entirely useless. This is a safety feature, but it is overkill because few know how to assess and repair this simple issue.

Often the heating was due to being in the sun or heat vent, falling over, being covered up, or some other fluke, but the fuse is inaccessible and the device often as not gets thrown out.

Repair is simple.  The fuses come in various temperatures, but IMO, a few degrees here or there don't matter, so I order fuses in the middle of the range and when one blows -- fairly often it seems -- I just open the device and wrap the leads of a new fuse around the leads of the blown one, reassemble the device and Bob's you uncle. That saves anywhere from $20 to $150 and spares the landfill more junk.

Note: Thermal fuses come in temperatures from 110 C to 216 C and 10 or 15 amperes.  Each device tends to have a different amperage or failure temperature from the last unit I repaired. 

It is unsafe to use a thermal fuse with  a higher temperature number greater than the original, but a lower rating temp fuse is safe IMO to use in a pinch.  A lower ampere rating, however will result in early failure and a higher amp rating may be unsafe.  

Although, IMO, a close match should be okay, a lower rated fuse is more likely to fail again and they are really cheap, so I order a selection to have on hand.

   

The fuse is hardwired in above the heating element here. Removing the old fuse is not necessary unless the fuse has to fit inside an asbestos sleeve as in these pictures. I see no need to solder (won't work) or crimp the leads.  Just wrapping the wires works for me. If there is room, I just place the new fuse beside the old and wrap the leads around a few times. on each end.

Unless you are experienced with repairs, don't try this at home, kids.

The heater is now as good as new.  What procrastination can I find now to avoid the job at hand? 

None.  Next came going through my notes and bookmarks from previous times I've looked at this furnace project. Sorting bookmarks is a pain and took a while, but I am now reading about venting.  I have two furnaces to install (one now), a gas water heater, and my propane kitchen stove should be converted to gas.

I'm somewhat reluctant to get started.  For one thing, I love this old furnace and it works well when It works. After all, I have adapted and built parts of it and maintained it for  years.  It is not a problem when I am here, but I depend on neighbours to keep things up when away and that happens more and more lately.

I've set about researching replacing it with gas and now have the gas in the building, but was interrupted by events each time. Ellen's illness being the last major distraction.

I am somewhat daunted by the process of installing a new system.  In spite of having records and various analyses of fuel consumption, I am not certain of the peak amount of heat required or the operating costs of a new system -- or reliability. Also, with coal, there are no regulatory issues or permits to think about and the fuel arrives by truck and I can see how much is left.

Although I am certain what is adequate for average weather, the extremes of cold worry me.  I know the coal system manages at minus forty, but will the new system keep the building warm, or at least above freezing?  Currently when away, I se the building to 10C and that ensures the perimeter does not freeze, but what temperature is really minimum?  If I could count on 5 being adequate, that would save fuel.

I went out and photographed the building exterior, existing ductwork, and potential locations for the appliances. I have to figure out the logistics for running the supply lines -- both water and gas, condensation drains, and the vents.

The gas piping and mechanical installation requires a little planning and study, but the venting is the real hassle.

Vents have to be made of the proper materials for the appliance, have to be of specific dimensions, and the routing must meet certain specs.  Vents can only emerge to the outdoors in specified locations in relation to ground, nearby activities, snow drifts, doors, windows, services, etc.  They must be protected from bird nests and other pests.  Additionally, vents penetrate the building exterior either through a wall or the roof and cannot be permitted to cause water or fume leaks.

I had not used Quickbooks on my Samsung laptop for several months and now that I need it, QB failed to load when I tried it today.  The migration to SSD apparently affected the license,  so I spent a hour or two troubleshooting that and now I can do accounting again.

I looked at furnaces and water heaters for a while and watched more of The Break and went to bed just after midnight.

Quote of the Day
A short saying often contains much wisdom.
Sophocles

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