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 February 2019





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Clearing drifts at home


 Are you are looking for bee information?

I'm losing interest in bees lately and bee-related posts are infrequent these days but at one time I was very involved in beekeeping. Just about every topic has been covered somewhere on this site some time or another. Your best bets for finding ideas are:

                   1.) check today's date in previous years               2.) visit the selected topics page
search this site for keywords.
                          4.) visit BEE-L


Wednesday February 20th 2019

Today Flurries. Wind becoming north 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High minus 5. Wind chill minus 19 in the morning and minus 11 in the afternoon. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight Flurries. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light late this evening. Low minus 18. Wind chill minus 14 in the evening and minus 22 overnight.

Another dull day. I woke at 0530. I see the temp is minus six and there has been a skiff of snow. The house is warm, but coal is getting low and I am still waiting for a delivery.

I keep talking about a gas furnace, but never seem to be here long enough with time on my hands to do anything conclusive.

Oh, here is another article for Chicken Little: Sea levels in and around Sydney Harbour 1886 to 2018.

I wrote to Rick about Cassiopeia first thing. The spent time writing various other emails I'll never send and by mid-afternoon realised I was in one of those days where I can accomplish nothing, feel crappy, and might as well just give up on doing anything.  I have these days sometimes and know there is no point trying.  Sometimes a bit of wine is the best solution, but no more than one bottle.  So I got into the van and drove to Three Hills where I bought groceries and a bottle of pinot grigio -- one standard one, not a large one and not two -- and drove home.

The sky was overcast and the road from the highway was covered with drifting snow and the wind was gusting from the north. My driveway is blowing in again, I see.  Is it worth blowing away those drifts again, assuming they are not too hard to cut?  They hardly impede traffic.  I'll decide tomorrow.

On the way home, I spoke with Bert and he expects to get out of hospital tomorrow.  We agreed I'll have a welcome home supper Saturday.  I'll have to call the Usual Suspects.

I had bought a cooked chicken and had some for supper along with the bottle of wine and watched The Break until bedtime. 

Quote of the Day
Learn all there is to learn, and then choose your own path.
George Frideric Handel

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Thursday February 21st 2019
One more month of winter

I woke at three-fifteen, got up and ate breakfast, then went back to bed and slept until nine-thirty, waking to bright sunshine and minus eighteen readings outdoors.

I weighed, checked blood glucose, and decided that I have let myself go and need to get back on track. I also decided that the world has come to the point where no one reads this diary and leaving it online is unnecessary.

I write it for myself anyhow, the irony being that I do not have time to read it except to check back occasionally to se what i was doing or thinking at some specific date in the past.

I did go out and clear the drifts.  They were dense and I'm glad I did.  It's actually fun to chew through those drifts and leave the drive clear, and it is good exercise.

I came in and found a note from John saying I have two more documents to fill out to be certified.  This never ends.  We have also been debating some of the questions on the exam. I contend that some of them are badly written. As an instructor, I am expected to provide input, so I did.  It is a huge time sink, though.

I have an MRI tonight at 10 PM in South Calgary, so I'll be driving in.  The roads are good, so it is just a matter of driving in and back.  It is an hour and a half each way.  I used to like driving, but now I find it a chore.

Our medical system centralizes facilities for several good reasons. One is to concentrate talent for critical mass.  Another is to economize.  However, as a result, patients are required to travel great distances and take time off work and that cost is not figured into the calculations. If it were, I think things would be organized differently.

We are about to have our medical test results posted online in private pages only we and the doctors can access.  That is long overdue IMO.  Quebec has had this for a long time, but the result are posted with a one month time lag so the doctors can access them first, interpret, and inform the patient in advance.

That assumes that the doctor knows more about the patient than the patient does. That may be true, but in my experience, I have often had to educate doctors about drugs, conditions and side-effects.  Also, the lag assumes the doctor is not on holiday or backed up with long waits.

Well, I do have one reader.  Dave writes...

Hi Allen

I read your diary, FWIW, I find it a touch of sanity in today's crazy world.

And, BTW, I still have bees, still troubled by CCD, whatever that is.

Formic keeps it down a bit, 2x/yr (troubled = excessive winter kill, >40%)

Thanks, Dave.  I still have some bees, too, but they have been ignored and if they are alive in spring it will be a miracle.  They do have good hives and lots of honey.

Countryboy posted in the forum.  Seems he still comes by to read the diary. That makes two.

Ken checked in, too.

I have no idea and no way of knowing how many people read the diary.

My guess is it's quite a few. I check daily to see what the latest entry might reveal.

It's interesting, many entries detail events and happenings that are far removed from my daily life. As a result it's educational in addition to interesting.

I travelled a large part of the world for 20 years as a part of my working life. The travel allowed me to learn a great deal about how people lived and how things worked. Many tourist attractions were bypassed but I really enjoyed learning about real life in far away places.

Maybe that is why I enjoy reading about the personal experiences Allen records in his diary so much.


That makes three...

I spent the afternoon filling yet one more for for Sail Canada. No end in sight.

It's getting on and I shall be off to Calgary soon.  I could go earlier, and shop, but I'm not in the mood.

The drive was uneventful.  I took a route that differs from my usual path and found that a lot has changed in the past few years. This route is shorter, but has been slower due to construction but now is faster.  Now, it leads to the Stoney Trail, a four to six lane divided freeway that bypasses the centre of Calgary and whisked me down to the South Health Campus non-stop.  I was amazed to find a whole new city where not too many years ago I was flying over farmland in an ultralight rented from Indus airport.

The South Health Campus is a very impressive area, with an huge YMCA and various large health-related buildings including the hospital.  The hospital is very spacious with wide hallways and open spaces that made me wonder their purpose besides using up tax dollars and impressing people.

I arrived an hour early and parked underground, then found my way up to diagnostic imaging.  I signed in and was led to the change room and lockers and into the MRI room almost immediately. 

They laid me on the pallet and placed a camera on me, introduced an intravenous and slid me into the tunnel. After almost an hour of loud noise and vibrations, I emerged and was told results would be ready in four or five days.

I don't know why the MRI machine makes such a racket to take a picture, but I guess they know what they are doing.  I would have though by now, with the advance of technology, such a huge and noisy device would be obsolete.  Apparently not.

I drove home and sat up a while, drank some wine, then went to bed.

Quote of the Day
Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.
Marcel Proust

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Friday February 22nd 2019

Today Cloudy. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud this afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 7. Wind chill minus 25 in the morning and minus 12 in the afternoon. Risk of frostbite. UV index 1 or low.
Tonight Partly cloudy. Becoming cloudy near midnight then snow. Local blowing snow overnight. Amount 2 cm. Wind becoming north 40 km/h gusting to 60 overnight. Low minus 15. Wind chill minus 14 in the evening and minus 27 overnight. Risk of frostbite.

I slept until nine again.  At minus eighteen, we are still well below seasonal normals of minus one high and minus thirteen low.

I need to work on the bin auger today, before the coal comes tomorrow.  Besides that, I have to tidy and prepare for a supper today or tomorrow.

I need to work on the bin auger and I find I have additional paperwork for my instructor certification and it is is taking up my time.  I suppose I am being anal about the details and spending more time than I need to to squeak by, but I hate not knowing.  The biggest issue is the wording of questions on exams and worksheets.

The material is written by people who don't realise that they are incorporating their own assumptions and misunderstandings into the questions and also ask questions that are likely only answerable by people who share their experience or sources.

Writing exams that actually test useful knowledge and are not irrelevant, quirky, or ambiguous is not a simple task.  Moreover, making sure the information presented as context for the question is important. There are guides (another) online, but in my experience most untrained exam writers don't see the issues with the exams they create and their students seldom provide feedback.

Allen, I remain another reader. It is a daily habit, and I enjoy it. I suspect there are more of us. -- Adrian.

I'm working through the workbook and filling in forms that ask questions that have answers cannot be fit into the space on the PDF form.  A lot of it is cut and paste.

I find this annoying, and as with many things I read that are wrong, I'm too lazy to document all the issues. Sometimes I do and it is usually appreciated.  Sometimes not.  I did provide feedback on the exam I wrote and it seems it was appreciated.  It was a lot of work for me though and I don't need more work. I'm swamped.

I have some pet peeves.  Number one is road construction zones with low speed limit signs set up miles for  the actual worksite and left up over weekends when no workers are to be seen. This wastes everyone's time and breeds disrespect for the signs, endangering workers when they actually show up. 

Number two is road signs that are not intuitive, an example being a sign indicating an exit in X meters with no indication whether the exit is from a left or right lane.

Number three is road closures on major routes after a serious accident while the cops scratch their, um, heads.

Oh, and I am glad I was not in Ontario for the last Amber Alert that was broadcast to all cell phones indiscriminately.  The issue was in Peel, but phones in Ottawa, 480 km away were alerted. 

The kid was dead already but they were looking for the perp.  They would have caught him sooner or later anyhow and he was not threat to the public anyhow.

People were enraged to be rousted by something, no matter how sad, happening so far away and said so, only to be attacked by people saying how insensitive they were  were to complain about being woken up from sleep by something that could never possibly have even remotely affected them.

Just because the cell phone has a 416 or 905 number and it is daytime does not mean its owner is not in Vancouver or Beijing at the moment. It seems some people have no idea how big the world is and how incredibly huge the population is -- or that not everyone works days.

"Sure.  We'll just ping everyone in Southern Ontario about our problem, after all there are only 10 million people and they'll be pleased to know about it." 

Apparently not.

I was working my down to complain to myself about the exam and working paper issues, but I guess those problems are a long way down the list.

I read your diary every day and miss it (as well as worry that something untoward may have happened to you!) if you don't post for several days in a row (as sometimes happens), so I guess that makes me reader number...five?

I get to vicariously travel, sail, wind surf, poke about with bees, and quite a number of other things through you and your adventures :-)

Please keep writing for yourself, if you enjoy it, and posting online for "us" if it's not too much of a bother.


Okay. Thanks. I'm happy to hear I have not bored everyone.

I spent the rest of the day on this damn workbook.  Much of it is a waste of time, but some is valuable, but is aimed a someone much less experienced than I. Over the day, I finished off a bottle of malbec to maintain my sanity in this drudgery.

Why am I doing this course?  Good question.  I originally took the clinic back in February and March 2017 to certify to teach onboard boats.  The clinic was a gong show as the courses were all being updated and the material was confusing.  Also, much of it consisted of pretending to teach a performance objective to classmates and the sailing was riding around in a small keel boat designed for a crew on a rainy day waiting to take turns doing single-handed maneuvers that were ill-defined.

And I hated it. I didn't care if I ever finished certifying.  However, last summer I was suckered into doing lessons with the assurance that certification was not expected.  But it was. the I was told another instructor would sign off on the certifications.  No one would and the only way not to let the clients down was to finish this process, so I resumed the process, taking time to do the largely useless first aid course again and going to the coast to do a cruise and learn.  I had been told that was the end of it, but then John discovered I had not done these workbooks at the clinic and they are required, so here aI am doing them at an awkward time when I have other pressing things to do.

As I work through this, realise that the reason for the lesson prep is preparation for classroom teaching, which is one aspect of the certification, but one that hardly interests me for many reasons.  I signed up to teach on board, not to spend days or evenings teaching in classroom.

 Around nine I finally was tired and watched the final episode of The Break

All in all, I found the arc of this second season somewhat disappointing.  The first season had slightly different camera work with beautiful shots of the countryside other subtle differences.  The plot last year was less grisly. This one was similar, but more fantastic and not in the best sense. Several unlikely leaps were also apparent. It looked like a sequel to follow up on an excellent first series, which is what it was.

I went to bed at eleven.

Quote of the Day
If you see a man approaching you with the obvious intent of doing you good,
you should run for your life.
Henry David Thoreau

I correct, revise and augment entries in previous entries each day before writing new diary entries.
Read yesterday's post

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Saturday February 23rd 2019

Ten day forecast
Sunrise, Sunset, and Moon Times

Today Periods of snow ending near noon then a mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent chance of flurries. Amount 2 cm. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40. Temperature falling to minus 17 this afternoon. Wind chill minus 20 in the morning and minus 26 in the afternoon. Risk of frostbite. UV index 2 or low.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 27. Wind chill minus 24 in the evening and minus 32 overnight. Risk of frostbite.

I woke up at 0545 and decided to check my weight and BG and see that my weight has dropped three pounds since yesterday morning.  Hmmm.  I did cut back on snacking a bit and ate less yesterday, but was drinking wine.  I assume my system is readjusting from whatever was upsetting it over the past month. Thank goodness.

BG was 6.1 which has been my morning normal for decades. It has been higher lately, though and worried me and is one reason I decided to exercise some discipline --that and the fact my pants are tight, the same pants that were falling off last summer.  I assumed that whatever was upsetting my digestion was related.  The fact that I was occasionally seeing low -- for me -- readings periodically for no reason made me wonder, too.

Since the day I was contorted on the floor on Cassiopeia working on the pumps, my right hip has been bothering me a bit.  It is nothing new, and has been a bit strange for years. I am hoping that, as before, it will stop being noticeable.  actually, now that I think about it I should stretch.  Could be sciatica.

I hear a snowplow at the road, so I guess it snowed again last night, but the plow being here does not mean much.  In winter they run on a schedule whenever snow is predicted, whether it actually snows much at all. I hope the coal comes before we get drifted in again. I'll also have to check the driveway before the Usual Suspects arrive tonight.  I still have not decided what to serve.

My computers are both working really well since I changed the hard drives to 500GB SSDs. The old drives were 500GB 5400 RPM conventional mechanical drives.  The difference is night and day.  Both machines had slowed to where they actually froze momentarily from time to time and were practically unusable.  Now they are fast.  The Acer is not quite the machine the old Samsung is however.  It is a little slower as can be expected from a budget machine with a limited processor.

I've made a few little changes.  For one thing, I rediscovered these links and added them back to my daily header.  The Weather Underground remains an ideal weather source.

Ten day forecast
Sunrise, Sunset, and Moon Times

Looks like we are drifting in again.  Wind is strong from the north.  It is hardly noticeable here in the south end of the house, but I did note that the Weather Underground (my favourite) reports 33 KPH winds here. 

Stepping out for a minute, I can see drifts forming. I wonder if supper is going to have to be cancelled?

I got to wondering why my coffee is never as good as the coffee I get at A&W so I checked my RO filter output.  I know I should service the filter every year at most, but it has been three years at least now.  I hate to disturb it because the shark-bite fittings tend to leak after I fiddle and they are not leaking now. 

So, I figured the quality should declining, and I checked it but it is still putting out water at 20ppm. The tap water is 109ppm.  Neither is bad.  Here are the water quality standards on my  $15 water hardness tester.



One more reader!

I look in on you quite frequently. Your adventures are worthy of following. Please keep posting as long as it is possible and right for you.

The bees brought me to the diary and any time you have something to report it is of interest. Your writings are freshness and something new that many websites lack. Those with new [news?] are not consistently worth my time.


I have taken to listening to Spotify quite a bit lately and am still on the 99 cent special.  Spotify works between my devices and works well with my Bluetooth speakers and my sound bars.

Will I continue onto the the $10/month plan after the deal expires?  Good question.  Good chance, because I cannot stand ads and the free version has stupid ads.

I'll look more at Amazon Prime music which I think I have included with Prime and maybe Google music, too, though.  So far, though, Spotify seems to be adjusting well to my tastes with the only issue being a tendency to play the same songs too often. If I do stay on, I may take the $14.99 family deal and share with my grandkids.

I'm housecleaning today.  I also decided to stretch and guess what?  My hip feels (almost) normal. 

My chiropractor told me once that my pelvis locks up and needs to loosen up and he is right about that.  However, he also showed me an exercise and when I tried it at home I pulled my hip out of its socket.  It did not hurt but I thought it was a bad idea and stopped doing it, so next time I was there I told him.  He said, "Not possible." I said, "Watch".  "Ooops!", he said, "Better not do that any more".  So I didn't.

I went out to take a look at the drifts and an hour later I am in to warm up.  They are growing and the time to clear them is before they set up.  Drifting snow is far different from fallen snow.  It is much denser and the crystals are smaller.  For a while the drifts are soft, but after a while they congeal and are like cement.

I got out the blower and set to work and at 2:30 I'm half done.  The weather site say that it is still minus fifteen and gusting at 25KPH, but it feels warmer.

I exploit the the wind to carry the snow far a way and try to avoid blowing into the wind because the snow comes right back on me, melts on my face and makes me wet.  The blower is doing nicely chewing its way through the drifts.

I am thinking I've had the blower at least seven years now.  Twice I have wrapped a cord in it, done it considerable harm, even breaking the gearbox once.  I had to tear it down twice.  I suppose I could use the tractor, but this is more fun.

My snowsuit is in the drier with my gloves, warming up and drying off.  I'll go back out soon.  I'm thinking I may make chili for supper.  It is easy and keeps if people cancel. I've already made a bean salad.

I went out and finished the drive, then came in and tidied, cooked, and began vacuuming.

Bert and Fen arrived before I was done and I put the machine away. The others arrived shortly after.

I forgot to serve the salad as it was, and still is, in the fridge.  I did make and serve chili, though, along with brown rice, Brussels sprouts, and cooked carrots, with ice cream and frozen blueberries for dessert.   I always make the chili without a recipe, and it turned out very well, but probably could not make the same chili again.

I used 1-1/2 pound of lean hamburger, a can each of pinto beans, six-bean mix, black beans, white kidney beans, red kidney beans, kernel corn, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and cup of chopped celery, an onion chopped up, some cumin, some black pepper, some dried chopped garlic and an ounce of white vinegar.  I started with the items needing cooking and when they were getting right, added the beans and simmered a while to merge the flavours.

I only had six people -- the regulars -- plus myself since I was not feeling too ambitious. That is a good group. We had a a good visit and by nine, everyone left.  I loaded  the dishes into the dishwasher and tidied, then sat and listened to Spotify until eleven and went to bed.  As Spotify gets to know me, I am finding the mixes are getting better and better.

Quote of the Day
If it is not truthful and not helpful, don't say it.
 If it is truthful and not helpful, don't say it.
If it is not truthful and helpful, don't say it.
If it is truthful and helpful, wait for the right time.
Gautama Buddha

I correct, revise and augment entries in previous entries each day before writing new diary entries.
Read yesterday's post

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Sunday February 24th 2019

Ten day forecast
Sunrise, Sunset, and Moon Times

Today A mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 18. Wind chill minus 31 in the morning and minus 23 in the afternoon. Risk of frostbite. UV index 2 or low.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 32. Wind chill minus 28 in the evening and minus 42 overnight. Frostbite in minutes.

I woke up at five and figured I should sleep more, but found I was still awake ten minutes later, so I got up. I had breakfast and may go back to bed in a while.

I ate and drank quite a bit last night, but feel better than I do many days. Today, I may be receiving coal and also I told Fen I may drive her to Calgary later today.  She has another concert at the Carstairs Museum and I may go, but we'll see what happens with the coal delivery.

Normals Max C. Min -12°C. Sunrise 7:30 MST Sunset 18:03 MST

The weather trend continues to ne well below normals for this period, with e highs for the next three days averaging nineteen degrees Celsius below the norm and the lows averaging eighteen degrees Celsius  below the norm.  In Fahrenheit, that is about thirty-three degrees colder than normal, but does not quite match the extremes shown on the chart (right).

Nineteen degree C is about the same difference in temperature (and heating load) as the difference between freezing and room temperature. The days are growing longer and the sun warmer, however.

At seven, I went back to bed and slept until nine-thirty.

I still have not heard from Tracy about the coal. I stick my head out to see if the drive has drifted in again and it hasn't. 

I don't think it will drift much now, even if the wind picks up again because once snow has drifted, it sets up hard after sitting a while.  That was one reason I went out yesterday to clear the drifts as the drifts had just formed. I see the maximum predicted wind today is 9 KPH.

I hear the highway plow out there again now, so there must be blowing snow somewhere nearby.

I see I have thirty tabs open in Chrome and  many more stored in OneTab, Before changing the hard drives on these two old computers to SSD, I was barely able to use the computer with even one or two open tabs.

It seems the hard drive was the bottleneck on both machines.  The problem crept up over time and I assume the slowing was due to incrementally increased demands by Windows 10 as updates added feature after feature and security was added to security.

So, the lesson here is that an old laptop with only 4GB and a fairly down-market CPU (the Acer) can be very satisfactory with a $100 upgrade. 

The upgrade is not too difficult either.  Aalthough the Acer gave me some trouble it was mostly my own fault. That trouble had to do with some sort of issue in the software and also due to my not finding the software Crucial provides for the task until after my first attempt.  The second try went flawlessly, following the instructions on the web.

An inexpensive, easy to use cable (Crucial) is required to connect the new drive to the USB port while the data is being copied across, plus the confidence and dexterity to open up the laptop and a few hours, most of which is waiting for the data to transfer.  Reading glasses or a magnifing light can be an asset for those unfamiliar with the innards of these devices.

The flap on the magnifier is to keep dust off, but also prevents starting a fire if the sun happens to hit it at the exact angle to focus on something flammable.  That can happen.  Clear bottles of water left in the sun can start fires.  I once had a neat hole burned in a car seat from a gallon of water left on the seat.

Once the transfer is complete, the old drive is taken out of the computer and the new one installed in its place.  The old drive can be kept as a full back up and can be read using the cable at any time in the future.

Prying open the laptop can be a bit daunting and may take some patience. After the necessary screws are removed from the bottom, careful prying around the edge will release the plastic grabbers that hold it together.  take your time.  If one spot resists, there may be another screw, possibly hidden under a rubber foot.

If the laptop is about to hit the scrap heap anyhow and this is a Hail Mary attempt to save it for $100, what is there to lose?  You may well just save $1,000 and several days work breaking in a new computer.  That job is never simple and finding all the software and re-registering it is always a pain.

I also bought a new battery online for the Acer a while ago.  The Samsung battery still seems fine after five years, though.  I assume that is due to the Battery Extender feature in the Samsung that can be set to limit only charge to 75%. I use that setting unless traveling.

Fen called and we arranged to meet at the museum at two for the concert. After, I'll drive her to Calgary and tomorrow she flies to the coast for a month.  I called Tracy to confirm that he is not coming today and and he said his truck transmission line is still blown and he can't get the part until tomorrow.

I'm happy to have a chance to scrape the bin empty and burn up the last of the coal anyhow. There is coal dust in the bottom corners and wet coal dust can spontaneously combust in hot weather although I doubt the bin bottom ever get warm, being underground.  Some of that dust may have been there for the better part of fifty years.

My front door keypad lock began to act up the other day and was flashing a green light. That worried me as I might be locked out, so I changed the battery but that did not fix it. I took it apart and put it back together and now it seems okay.  I still don't know what the issue was.

It's 11:40 now and I have to leave here around 13:15, so I have a bit of time to look at the workbook again.

I went to the museum and guess what? This guy,  Tim Hus was amazing. Of all the performances at the museum I've attended (and all were tops) this was maybe the best. Of course we have to suspend our critical faculties to accept that a (maybe) truck driver from the Kootenays is a cowboy, but WTH, he looks and sounds the part and that is what counts these days.

Anyhow, Fen and I drove to Calgary after, stopping to look at the New Horizons Mall in Balzac. The new mall is a huge investment with great expectations, but now, after opening, has only maybe twenty shops inside.  The building is beautiful and maybe some day will fill up. We'll see.

We stopped and had a hamburger for supper at A&W in north Calgary and I dropped her off at her sister's and returned home.

Quote of the Day
How much savage coarseness is concealed in refined, cultivated manners.
Nikolai Gogol

I correct, revise and augment entries in previous entries each day before writing new diary entries.
Read yesterday's post

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Monday February 25th 2019

Today Sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 20. Wind chill minus 45 in the morning and minus 27 in the afternoon. Frostbite in minutes. UV index 2 or low.
Tonight Clear. Becoming partly cloudy near midnight. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 30. Wind chill near minus 36. Risk of frostbite.

I woke up at 0830 and shoveled ashes first thing.  Coal is now almost gone.  Might last two days in this cold weather. Tracy says the truck will be fixed and he will bring a load tonight.

As for weather, there is no relief in sight.  The cold continues, with temperatures about twenty degrees C below normal....

Wednesday and Thursday look a bit milder, but then our plunge into the deepfreeze resumes for the foreseeable future.

My $15 compass came today from Amazon and it looks good. 

On our way to Calgary yesterday, Fen and I drove past the new Amazon warehouse at Balzac.  It is huge.  I gather this is the reason Amazon can promise to deliver within a day or three.

I spent the afternoon filling out forms for Sail Canada and the longer this goes on, the more I regret even having started this process.  I keep thinking I am approaching the end and something else is thrown at me.

After that was done, I lay down and slept for an hour.  At six, I texted Tracy to see how things are going with his truck.  He says he is just finishing the repairs and would be underway soon.

I was already set up and ready.  At seven he said he was on his way and an hour later he was dumping the load into the bin.

John had marked my work and okayed it but I had missed one question, so that remains. Tomorrow.

I came across my old Acer netbook, the one with the Acorn processor and 2GB RAM.  It had been my daily driver when travelling for a few years, but when Win 10 came along it was just too slow and I set it aside.  Once in a while I take it out and see if I can make it work better.  Never any luck.

I got to thinking that maybe I should install Linux and give it to Ruth.  She has been without a computer for a while now and can't afford to get another. it. I fired it up and started downloading LXLE Linux. While that was happening, Win 10 wanted to update, so out of curiosity, I am letting it update but with faint hope that Win 10 will be usable on this old bare-bones machine.

I went to bed at ten-thirty but did not sleep so got back and stayed up until midnight.

Quote of the Day
When a great moment knocks on the door of your life,
it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it.
Boris Pasternak

I correct, revise and augment entries in previous entries each day before writing new diary entries.
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Tuesday February 26th 2019

Today Sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 16. Wind chill minus 43 in the morning and minus 20 in the afternoon. Frostbite in minutes. UV index 2 or low.
Tonight Clear. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 24. Wind chill near minus 29. Risk of frostbite.

I woke up at 0630 and got up. In the kitchen, I glanced at the thermometer and notice the room is at 63 F.

I looked at the thermostat and it was set at 70, so went down the check the furnace, figuring that with the new load and the adjustments that accompany accommodating it that maybe the bin auger had failed to start.

The fire looked normal. So did the bin auger.  Looking at Environment Canada, I see it is minus thirty-four out. I looked for wind, but the trees are not moving. The furnace is in second gear, so maybe it just can't keep up.  I wondered if this new coal is not as good as the last, but it looks okay and the furnace settings are the same as yesterday.

The furnace has three gears. It is more efficient running steadily than going off and on, so I don't run it at top speed unless I have a reason, like re-heating a cool house.

I'm comfortable, so I left it in second.  I'll be sitting at the keyboard for a while with an electric heater directed on me, so why heat the entire room? The day will warm up and the furnace will catch up. When the sun shines in though the south windows, the furnace often rests for hours even on cold days.

I keep looking for a break in the cold and a return to normals of -1°C. Max and -11°C Min, or even a trend to above normal, but am not seeing any promise of that happening. We are still running along close to the extreme lower line in the historical weather chart and last night we exceeded the lowest temperature (1994-2018) of-27.9°C seen in 1996 by six degrees!

Tomorrow is expected to be a lot warmer than today, but still far below the average and from there we are expected to get colder again.

I am about finished the latest segment of the certification ordeal and with any luck, it will be over.  At this point I am regretting ever beginning this project.  It has been consuming a great deal of time and diverting me for other pressing matters like my heating system, my Mexican project, and visiting family.

The sun came out and the room returned to the expected temperature. There is a lot of heat gained from the south windows.

I'm burned out from filling out the worksheets, so I'm kicking back a bit.  I watered the plants and am playing with the old Acer netbook. I'm also vacuuming and tidying again this morning.

Here is one of the best articles on economic cycles I've seen:
To Help Put Recent Economic & Market Moves in Perspective

Just before noon, the Medical Centre called. My prostate MRI results came back and did not show any nodules that might require a biopsy.  Good.  Biopsies are not a big deal -- I've had two in the past two decades -- but they are invasive and can have adverse after-effects.

I received an email from Bee Culture hawking their podcasts and looking for advertisers.  I looked and the podcasts are really good.  It looks like a perfect opportunity for my friends at Global Patties.  I'll write an ad, but make it short, knowing how I hate ads myself unless they are short and direct to the point.

Mid-afternoon, for no reason at all I decided to go downstairs and look in the coal bin.  I heard the auger motor running but the belt was not moving.  The auger had jammed against the wall.  I released it and wondered why the belt had not burned though or the pulley had not melted. Lucky, I guess.

At four, I went down again and the belt is off.  I'll crawl in and deal with that in a while.

Just now, John wrote and says I am now certified as a Sail Canada Basic Cruising Instructor.  I was beginning to think it would never happen.

I crawled into the bin and put the belt back on and adjusted the switch.  Now it's all good and should be for days.

Then Colin wrote and wants me to help promote the flotilla I'll lead to the Broughtons this June. Two ad assignments in one day?

Then the claims agent wrote and wondered why I have not accepted the insurance settlement. Frankly, I thought I'd be in Mexico about now, not sitting at a keyboard finishing certification.

I have ten days between today and the day I fly east, so any trip to Mexico would be a fast one.  Given that the trip takes a whole day each way, that means a max of eight days there.  I need at least a day or two here on each end, so, is a three day stay long enough, especially during Carnaval?  I am not sure I can get what I need to do done in that time -- and the trip, besides taking a day each way costs a grand.

In the evening I was burned out so went to playing with the old Aspire One. It was that or watch mindless video.  I'm getting tired of video.

The netbook is finishing an upgrade to Windows 10:1809, but I have faint hope for it ever being fast enough to use, so I downloaded LXLE Linux yesterday and am downloading Unetbootin now.  Unetbootin is a 'way cool utility that packs Linux into a bootable thumb drive so I can carry it around or install it as I wish.  My plan is to install LXLE Linux on the netbook if Windoze is too slow, but at the moment the netbook seems fairly fast. We'll see.

Ooops.  I'm stuck at 71%.  I wonder if I allocated too much of this 3.8GB drive to user files. Have I run out of space?  No error message yet, tho'. OK. Here we go.  I guess it was just thinking.

When this complete, I pulled the USB drive out and stuck it into my other Acer and rebooted.  Wow! I'm impressed. This is a good-looking, fast Linux that is easy to use.  The weather app even knows where Swalwell is.  That's better than the Windows native app, which does not half the time.

I'm running LXLE Linux off the USB drive on my newer Acer and when I eject it and reboot, I'll be back in Windows that is on the SSD.  I'm wondering about dual boot.

I'm staying up until midnight again.  I seem to sleep better that way.  It is funny.  Even if I am not watching the time, I realise I'm tired, look at the clock and guess what, it is midnight.

Next, back to the plan for the Broughtons trip this June.

It's midnight.  Bedtime.

This has been quite the day.

Quote of the Day
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
Mahatma Gandhi

I correct, revise and augment entries in previous entries each day before writing new diary entries.
Read yesterday's post

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Wednesday February 27th 2019

Today Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 5. Wind chill minus 28 in the morning and minus 9 in the afternoon. Risk of frostbite. UV index 2 or low.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 19. Wind chill minus 17 in the evening and minus 23 overnight.

I woke up at 0645 with a dry mouth and dreaming I had chased a train down the tracks, swung onto the van and was sitting in the caboose chatting with another railway guy.

I had chased the train in Swalwell, and not quite caught it, so I drove to Three Hills in my old champagne coloured Merc and just caught it there as it was moving out. 

We talked about my railroad days and the bridge at Parry Sound, one of the bridges I had worked on.  He had not been east.

Tom T Hall's Faster Horses was playing in my head.

He said, "It don't do men no good to pray for peace and rain.
Peace and rain is just a way to say prosperity,
And buffalo chips is all it means to me."

I told him I was a poet, I was lookin' for the truth
I do not care for horses, whiskey,
Women or the loot I said I was a writer,
My soul was all on fire
He looked at me an' he said, "You are a liar."

"It's faster horses, younger women,
Older whiskey, and more money"
Well, I was disillusioned, if I say the least

I went to the kitchen and made a cup of coffee, then found I had not remembered the grounds and had made hot water.  Then I spilled it.  I must be groggy.

The netbook continues to update.  It is actually faster now than I had expected.

I'm still tired.  Back to bed. 

I slept another hour, took a desloratadine, having noticed some allergy symptoms last night and this morning and got back to it.

What to do next?  Tidy the kitchen.

Here is a really interesting article, but the title hides the most interesting parts which are far down in the text. Snips are worth quoting here...

Pills can help people control risky drinking,
so why aren't doctors prescribing them?

About 80 per cent of Canadians drink. Fifteen to 20 per cent of Canadians exceed official low-risk drinking guidelines (no more than 10 drinks a week for women, and 15 drinks a week for men). A further 18 per cent engage in heavy drinking — five drinks or more for men, and four drinks or more for women on one occasion at least once a month in the previous year.
Yet, “Most doctors get their beliefs about treating alcohol use disorder from the same source the rest of us do — AA,” said Mike Pond, a West Vancouver-based psychotherapist and co-author, with his partner Maureen Palmer, of Wasted: An Alcoholic Therapist’s Fight for Recovery in a Flawed Treatment System.
The best studies suggest the success rate of AA, which demands, in addition to abstinence, a vow for members to surrender their lives and “will to the care of God,” is between five and 10 per cent, Dr. Lance Dodes, former director of Harvard Medical School’s substance abuse treatment program at McLean Hospital in Boston, wrote in his book, The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry. A review by the much respected Cochrane Collaboration of randomized studies conducted between 1966 and 2005 concluded that “no experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA” or other 12-step facilitated approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems.

 Hmmm. False hope?  The rest of the article is worth reading.

I decided to do books. The day was bright and sunny. In a while, I decided to go to town and took the Cranberry Mercury for a ride. I have been wanting to get some nitrogen fertilizer for my plants.  I've had several buckets on hand, but they are high in phosphate. Each nutrient has its own purpose and balance is important.

  • Potash: Flowers and fruit
  • Phosphate: Roots and flowering
  • Nitrogen: Stems and foliage

I bought groceries and two bottles or pinot grigio, promising myself I would only drink one, had and Spicy Habanero Chicken Burger.  So much for discipline and self-control.

I drove home and put things away, then decided to pot some cuttings from the rubber tree.  They are an unruly bunch of branches I finally had to trim off the plant as I grew too big for the space, and I am quite sure they will root, but what will I do with more rubber trees?

As I worked at this and other things, I took a deep dive into Spotify and listened to a variety of music until bedtime.

Hasta mañana.

Quote of the Day
I've told you before and I'll tell you again.
The strong survive and the weak disappear.
We do not intend to disappear.
Jimmy Hoffa

I correct, revise and augment entries in previous entries each day before writing new diary entries.
Read yesterday's post

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Thursday February 28th 2019

Today: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 7. Wind chill minus 24 in the morning and minus 11 in the afternoon. UV index 2 or low.
Tonight: Becoming cloudy this evening with 60 percent chance of light snow this evening and overnight. Wind becoming north 20 km/h after midnight. Low minus 21. Wind chill minus 18 in the evening and minus 32 overnight. Risk of frostbite.

Well, this is about it for February. Here comes March.  In like a lion, out like a lamb?  Hard to guess.  This cold streak has been persistent, but weather, being as chaotic as it is, cannot be reliably predicted. The weather guessers certainly had not expected this to descend on us or last as long as it has.

The Earth has its own plans.  People like to think they can predict and to some extent the y can, but the predictions are usually just an extrapolation of the current state with some influences considered.  Which influences are a matter of taste.  Currently, the warming trend is popular and is being extended out into the future, but tomorrow, maybe the Atlantic currents my shift permanently or maybe a volcano will erupt and belch out more CO2 than humans have released in the past one hundred years. Both these things have happened before.  Right now, the Earth's magnetic poles have broken off their former trend and are moving faster and farther than predicted.

'The most recent version of the model came out in 2015, and it was supposed to last until 2020. However, researchers say the magnetic field is changing so rapidly that they have to fix the model urgently.

It's moving at about 50 km (30 miles) a year. It didn't move much between 1900 and 1980 but it's really accelerated in the past 40 years,' Ciaran Beggan, of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, told Reuters.

I'm sure someone will link this change to anthropogenic "Climate Change" or even, as was the favourite in the 'superstitious' past, political events.  Well, actually it is part of a changing climate, but it'll be hard to blame that on humans. And, what do I say about models?  They are useful as long as we don't mistake them for anything more than they are -- models.

Wait!  Shifting poles are already being blamed on climate change.  Of course. However the pole in question here is "true" north, which is related to the axis of rotation, not the effects of Earth's magnetic inner core.  The poles are not the same and only are close to one another in the current epoch by coincidence.

Why am I interested in the North Pole?  Magnetic compasses figure strongly in yacht navigation and we have to calculate the movement of the poles when navigating.

At four, I walked around town.  The day had warmed up.  It was minus six in bright sun and the walk was pleasant.  I stopped along the way to hold a handful of hay for the horses at the fence.

The mile seems much longer without Carolyn's constant chatter.  She has been reluctant to walk lately in spite of my nagging.  I found I was stiff and out of condition having been inactive the past few days. As I walked, I followed the tracks of a lone bovine. I wondered where it came from and where it was going.

This is the kind of day that reminds me of how much I have enjoyed this country. over the past five decades I have lived her.  The bright sun, sculpted snowdrifts and blue sky are amazing.  Tomorrow is the first of March and only three weeks from the first of spring.  Days are lengthening fast and the sun is higher in the sky.

As I sit here after the walk, on the radio they are talking about home ownership and the cost -- and age that people start.  Ellen and I bought this place in 1998 for $2,300 cash.  We stood in the hall and bid in an auction, spending every last cent we had.  When the auction was over Ellen and I owned a 9,000 sq ft schoolhouse with 5.5 acres of land 60 miles from the nearest city. We had no money and no jobs, no electricity and no running water, and apparently, no common sense. 

What came next was an unbelievable adventure and fifty years ;later, I am still here.  Nobody else has stayed in Swalwell that long.  I have been here longer than anyone, and I own three plots in the local cemetery that I never plan to occupy, so....

I need to relax and the approach of spring helps.  I keep thinking I need to be somewhere else.  I have the Ontario event coming on fast and Carnaval is happening right now in La Paz and my boat is still on the hard there, awaiting repairs, but sometimes it is nice just to be here.

I should touch down and get up to see Jean and family.  I should go skiing, and I have yet to do more than that one day of kiting...

Quote of the Day
The people who make it to the top - whether they're musicians, or great chefs, o
r corporate honchos - are addicted to their calling ...
[they] are the ones who'd be doing whatever it is they love,
even if they weren't being paid.
Quincy Jones

I correct, revise and augment entries in previous entries each day before writing new diary entries.
Read yesterday's post

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