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 February  2016 





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Background Image: The yard cleanup continues

Monday February 1st 2016

Today Cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries this morning. High minus 1.
Tonight Mainly cloudy. 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 was worrying that I might miss my departure for China, but was I going by air, rail, or ???  I racked my brain for details and realised I don't have any reservations to China -- or anywhere, then I woke up a little more and craned my neck to look at the clock.  Morning had arrived.

I got up and weighed myself: 222.0. Hmmm.

I started the month of January at 230+/-, so I did not meet my goal of 220 for the month, but two pounds is just a rounding error (right?) and, besides, any loss at this time of year is an accomplishment (right?). No sense beating myself up over two pounds measured on an arbitrary date (right?). 

We can see by the above chart that my weight can change up or down by two pounds -- or more -- in a single day.  Although I measure and report to one decimal place, since my weight can vary by several pounds over a day or two, that excess precision is illusory.

Illusory, but not necessarily noise; the decimals are interesting nonetheless in that they describe a sub-plot superimposed on the larger weight-loss story.  The effect of alcohol consumption on fluid retention is quite obvious in those smaller numbers.

*    *    *    *    *

We have half-light at 0707 these days. The seasons are changing quickly and people are thinking about bees gain.  I'm not.

I'm thrilled at my progress thus far in cleaning up the yard and my burning permit is still good for a few more days, so I hope to keep going today.  The forecast is for flurries this morning, so we will see.

*    *    *    *    *

As I woke up this morning, besides worrying about leaving for China, I was concerned that I could step on a nail when working on the yard cleanup.

When pallets and boxes are pulled up off frozen ground, here is risk of leaving pieces with nails protruding vertically.  Additionally, after boxes and pallets are burned, frame spacers and other pieces with nails can remain in the ash pile.  A snowfall can cover hazards, so care is necessary to minimize such hazards and when moving about. I don't think my feedlot boots have steel in the soles.  Proper work boots do.

*    *    *    *    *

I always appreciate emails and forum posts from readers, (and I am always amazed I have readers).  Today, I received this:

> Thought you might find this interesting given your weight monitoring program!
> http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160201-why-the-calorie-is-broken

Here is an excerpt.

"But Nash and Haelle do not find weight control so simple. And part of the problem goes way beyond individual self-control. The numbers logged in Nash’s Fitbit, or printed on the food labels that Haelle reads religiously, are at best good guesses. Worse yet, as scientists are increasingly finding, some of those calorie counts are flat-out wrong – off by more than enough, for instance, to wipe out the calories Haelle burns by running an extra mile on a treadmill. A calorie isn’t just a calorie. And our mistaken faith in the power of this seemingly simple measurement may be hindering the fight against obesity.


All of these factors introduce a disturbingly large margin of error for an individual who is trying, like Nash, Haelle and millions of others, to count calories. The discrepancies between the number on the label and the calories that are actually available in our food, combined with individual variations in how we metabolise that food, can add up to much more than the 200 calories a day that nutritionists often advise cutting in order to lose weight. Nash and Haelle can do everything right and still not lose weight.
None of this means that the calorie is a useless concept. Inaccurate as they are, calorie counts remain a helpful guide to relative energy values: standing burns more calories than sitting; cookies contain more calories than spinach. But the calorie is broken in many ways


“Humans eat an incredible variety of foods,” he says. “Then those are all transformed by our body. And they’re turned into all kinds of other compounds.” We have no idea what they all are, he adds – or what they do.
It increasingly seems that there are significant variations in the way each one of us metabolises food, based on the tens of thousands – perhaps millions – of chemicals that make up each of our metabolomes. This, in combination with the individuality of each person’s gut microbiome, could lead to the development of personalised dietary recommendations.


Thanks!  Excellent article.

Although I do count calories, since calorie counting is simple, pseudo-mathematical, and works to some extent -- and has been the Gold Standard for years -- I have been monitoring the progress of the work to understand glycemic effects for years and understood that all calories -- or people -- are not equal.

I have also always known, back into my twenties and perhaps earlier, that foods act as a drug as well as providing fuel. And not long ago, I posted a picture (which I did not realise at the time might be more suggestive than intended) showing fruit and pills and asked,

...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?

Although I am not diabetic, I have tracked my blood sugar after meals for a decade now, beginning back when  doing so made one a kook and brought questioning looks at the pharmacy or doctors' office. 

Currently, I am listening to The End of Overeating, have queued up Always Hungry and am considering The Blood Sugar Solution.

If there is one thing that is clear, it is that in my case at least, being active is important. Exercise not only burns calories, but ensures the weight loss is predominantly from fat and and fluids, not muscle.

I really have not cared much about my weight and have been quite comfortable with it, but when I found I could not fit my wet suit, I decided to do something.  I am also becoming more aware of the risks that accompany being heavy and my skiing and other activities will definitely benefit from reducing the load on my frame and my inertia when in motion. 

I recall several decades ago when I weighted 190 that  the folks in a parachute club I attended once said I was to heavy to jump.  I weigh a lot more than 190 now and although the parachutes are much improved, I think there is a message in there somewhere.

I really don't care if I ever jump out of a perfectly good airplane, but it is not the fall that does the damage.  It is the landing and whether it the landing is by parachute from 2,000 feet or more, from jumping off a mogul on a ski hill, being lifted by a kite, or from slipping in the bathtub, lighter is better.

Oh, yeah.  Then there is the heart health thing. 

*    *    *    *    *

I made some stew again while I cleaned the kitchen and washed dishes. Dish washing is a daily task.  I don't use the dishwasher when alone except after a party.  Maybe I should.

*    *    *    *    *

Enough fooling around.  Let's go burn some boxes!

Ooops.  Maybe not.  We have an 8 MPH SE wind.  Not only is that enough to go kiting, but it is enough to make a fire want to wander away from its intended location.  It is also blowing towards trees I do not want to kill. 

The heat could either kill them or cause them the sap to rise prematurely, damaging them in the hard frosts yet to come.  It may be warm today, but in 1989, it was around minus forty on this day and it would be foolish to think we won't see some real cold before spring arrives, or even after.

*    *    *    *    *

Mating Biology of Honeybees: Apparently this is an excellent video but it gets off to a slow start for an old guy like me.  The video is an hour long.  Let me know.

*    *    *    *    *

Decisions. Decisions.  The wind came up around 1030 and switched from NW to E to SE.  It is right in the range for my 18 metre kite (4.5 to 12 Knots), but is dropping and can be expected to keep changing direction.  The temp is up to near freezing.  Seems perfect.  Will it be by the time I get ready and get out there?  We'll see.

*    *    *    *    *

I got a blast from the head honcho at the Calgary Bee Club.  Seems I  stepped on his toes with a recent post.  This should make him happier.

Sorry.  I did not intend to start a war.  Frankly, I don't feel that strongly.  I'm retired.  I'm just saying what needs saying because no one does. Nobody has to listen, and for that matter, I am wondering if anyone really thought about and understood what I was saying.

I was addressing, or attempting to address, those who may wish to keep bees but not want to be a jack of all trades, assemble everything from scratch, then risk failure.  Although purists raise their own garden plants from seeds, most people buy bedding plants and some, like me, hire a gardener.

There are many equally valid ways to begin with bees and own bees, and not all involve knowing much about bees.  It is possible to own a hive of bees, and know nothing about them and never even look at them.  Is that wrong?  I don't think so.  People do it all the time.   One prominent example is Mr and Mrs Obama.  I am fairly certain neither has ever taken a bee course, but I could be wrong, yet they get a lot of respect from the bee community.

Many people would like to have a working hive of bees and maybe even hire someone to manage them.  There are many smart people in Calgary and district with good incomes and little spare time who would like to start with a producing hive and pick up the details along the way or maybe hire someone to mentor them or manage the bees entirely.   That is actually quite feasible.  I have  a friend in New York who  mentors beginners for a fee and makes sure they don't fail or become a nuisance.

I think that not understanding or respecting these people and not working with them is a mistake that comes back to bite the beekeeping community.

I have been a hobbyist, a commercial beekeeper, an inspector, taught beekeeping at Red Deer College, held office in various bee organisations, attended national conventions and lifted hive lids all over North America, and been invited as a speaker at more than one state or provincial annual meeting. I've written a series of articles for Bee Culture and moderated BEE-L for over a decade I've bought tens of thousands of packages and queens, raised and sold queens, and shaken and shipped packages, too.  I know many hobby, sideline and commercial beekeepers personally.  I am first name basis with quite a few Canadian and US bee researchers, too, so I thought my insights might be useful even if they do not square with the orthodoxy. Maybe especially since they do not just repeat it.

I have no dog in this fight.  I just calls 'em the way I sees 'em.  Actually, unlike most who are oppressed by border closure, I actually benefit from the high package and equipment prices caused by our pointless and self-destructive border closure, yet I speak against border closure.

I do sell hives in single lots, but as a service.  I do not need to, and will probably cut back considerably.  For that matter, I could sell all my hives at any time with a single phone call and not blink.  Right now I am burning up a lot of old stuff and thinking of reducing to a hive or two. 

As for membership in the Calgary club, I had intended to try to get to some meetings and join, but distance is a problem, but I see now that might not have been a good idea, and if you don 't like what I have to say, maybe I should stop posting here.

Of course, there may be some who find my thoughts and my experience useful. 

Let me know.


Around two-thirty, the wind was still steady from the SE, so I took out my 8.5 foil, started the truck and drove south along the tracks. 

I stopped along the way to look at where I had been burning and see a pretty clean burn.  There is a bit to rake up later, but when I think of the mess that was there and imagine the grass I'll have growing there instead this summer, I am in bliss.

Sorry, those frame spacers are useless. 
Fire softens the steel too much and removes the galvanizing.

*    *    *    *    *

The wind was excellent today.  It was a bit shifty and gusty, but nothing like the last day I went out there.  The snow, though was icy and rutted.  When  I got going, I was afraid I'd never stop, but I did. 

I ripped up and down the slope on the neighbour's open field until about 1700 when I found myself becalmed near my east property line.

I stood there a a while, then I got a good gust and started out, but -- guess what -- the wind had shifted and dropped my kite right into a tree, and then onto my shed.

Tilt. Game over. 

Just as well.  I was dead tired and did not have enough sense to quit.

By the time I retrieved my kite and lines (lines are $75 a set) it was six o'clock anyhow and I was in pain that I did not notice until I stopped.  I'm a beekeeper.  Pain is just part of the day.

My rib has been acting up lately after hard day of sailing, skiing or heaving boxes.  I think I should go back to that young doctor and ask her to have my rib examined as I suggested instead of checking me for gall stones.   She palpitated my stomach and chest, but never touched the area I said was bothering me and is sending me for an ultrasound of my guts. 

What ever happened to listening?

After my experience the other day, being thrown on my head, then into the mud several times and quitting out self-preservation, I was beginning to wonder if something was wrong with the kite -- or with me.  Today shows that it was the wind and snow conditions, but I know I have a lot to learn yet.  I'm not ready yet for leaping into the air like the younger guys.

Will I ever be?  Maybe when I weigh 190 or less.

The fundamental nature of exploration is that we don't know what’s there.
We can guess and hope and aim to find out certain things,
but we have to expect surprises.
 Charles H. Townes

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Tuesday February 2nd 2016

Today Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries this morning. Clearing this afternoon. Fog patches dissipating this morning. High minus 2.
Tonight A few clouds. Low minus 18.

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 eight hours, but somewhat fitfully with dreams again, perhaps due to taking two ibuprofen for the rib pain last evening.

I weigh 221.8, down a mere 0.2 lbs in spite of a Fatsecret estimated 4,350 calorie deficit yesterday.  I wonder if, besides curious dreams, ibuprofen causes fluid retention, too.  Let's ask Google

Here is a snip from one of many results.

"Fluid retention, which can cause pitting edema, is a common side effect of ibuprofen and all of the other NSAIDs...

How about that?  There is more...

*    *    *    *    *

I plan to attend the Bluewater Cruising Association meeting in Calgary tonight, since I hold a position in the Association's watchkeepers and especially because I have a burgee that is needed for the upcoming Calgary Boat Show,. 

Seeing as I have to go deep into the bowels of Cowtown, something I try to avoid normally, I plan to accomplish some chores along the way.  Exactly what, I have yet to decide.  I want to go to Princess Auto to get some tarps and straps for a roof carrier to use on my forthcoming trip to Mammoth Lakes, and I have a pump to return to Canadian Tire.  It is the second I bought and the second that does not work.

Eagle, Weed, Chestermere and MacDonald lakes are more or less along the route, so I might need to stop and do some kiting, too.  So far, though, the wind forecasts are unpromising, especially for mid to late afternoon.

*    *    *    *    *

Sometimes I make a stew that is better than usual and I try to recall what went into it.  Yesterday's was excellent, especially since I did not overcook it and the textures are interesting.

Yesterday's Vegetable Stew
with a bit of chicken

All ingredients and amounts are optional. Use what you have.

In a large pot, bring one package of Campbell's low salt chicken broth to a boil.

Add a handful of pot barley, 1 cup of diced carrots and cook until the carrots begin to soften.

Add 1 cup of  diced yam, 1 cup of diced rutabaga, 1 cup of diced cauliflower, 1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms and cook until vegetables are al dente. Add any other vegetables you may have at hand and want to use up, diced.   I had three cooked chicken legs in the fridge and I threw them in, too, at this point.

If in doubt about timing, and worried about overcooking, each item can be micro-waved separately and added at the end.  Doing so allows controlling the degree of firmness and prevents mush.

Add water whenever needed to cover.  Spice with ground black pepper, crushed chilies and a bit of Italian spice. The stew should seem overly spicy now as the spices blend in and disappear later.

Add three cans of six-bean blend or canned beans of choice, drained and rinsed, a can of kernel  corn, a cup of frozen peas, a cup of chopped celery, plus a cup of cooked brown rice and a cup of cooked red rice.

Salt to taste, but the ingredients may already contain sufficient salt.

Stir well and remove from heat.  Simmer a bit if desired, but remember that the remaining heat in the pot will keep on cooking the stew for a while after removal from heat unless the pot is placed in cold water.

Do not overcook unless you like mush.

I decided to inspect my kite gear and laid out the lines, then stretched some that were a bit short. 

Dyneema kite lines are extremely strong, but they stretch when new, and not all the four lines stretch the same amount, so the short ones must be stretched by the kiter.  Kite trim depends on precise line lengths.  That job took a while. 

At the same time, I am looking to why the new kite does not fly as expected and the cause may be in the layout of the lines on  the bar I was using. Adjustments are made using knots (right) and eyes.  A larks head is made with the loop and slipped over a figure of eight knot or overhand knot making a tight, safe connection that can disconnected in seconds with bare hands in the cold or wet.

Around four, I drove to Calgary.  I drove Cranberry since I had not taken the car out for a while and it was time for a run.  The car has not been winter-driven in its lifetime so far, and the roads are currently bare and dry so this seemed like the time.  This 1993 Grand Marquis is a sweet ride: full load and cushy to drive.

I drove to Princess Auto and bought tarps and straps for a roof carrier and proceeded to Tecumseh, arrived at 1900 on the dot, signed in, and upstairs went to the mess and joined the others for the BCA meeting.

The presentation was about the Great Loop and I was a bit surprised at how much of it was familiar.  After my posts to the Calgary Beekeepers group, and realizing that I was at the various Alberta historical beekeeping events of significance, I am beginning to feel like I'm a sort of Forrest Gump.

On the way home, I was treated to an amazing display of northern lights. At times they seemed only a mile away and a half-mile from the ground.   They were bright and close, but white, not coloured like those in the link. When I arrived home, the show ended. More.

I drove home, watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy, and went to bed.

We all know what to do.
We just don't know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.
Jean-Claude Juncker

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Wednesday February 3rd 2016

Today Mainly sunny. Fog patches dissipating this morning. High minus 2.
Tonight Increasing cloudiness. Low minus 17.

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

221.6.  Down another 0.2 pounds.

It's a beautiful day with no wind.  No kiting.

Gotta get out and burn!

I did and as soon as I lit some fires, the wind started up from the south and this would have been a good afternoon of kiting, right outside my door, a better day for kiting than burning.

As it was, the breeze worried me because one fast-burning stack of pallets was close upwind from some old tires and one thing I don't want to burn is a pile of tires. They burn forever and stink, and make black smoke that attracts complaints -- and fines.

Why am I cleaning up?  I'm glad you asked. 

  • Well, it is now almost fourteen years since I retired and I am not using this stuff and no one else wants it.  Much of it has rotted.

  • It is unsightly and if I or my heirs want to sell this place, a bunch of useless junk won't enhance buyer interest, or the value of the place.

  • In the meantime, I'd like to have the area clear for other uses, not that I can think of any.

  • Small Hive Beetle is coming.  In fact it is already been here in Alberta a number of times and is likely here now.  It cannot reproduce reliably enough to be a problem, although adults can overwinter and freak people out, and even if it did, the only beekeepers who will be affected are the sloppy ones -- like me -- so I am being proactive.

  • I need to re-skin or demolish my quonset and I could not get near it with the piles of boxes. Those piles are now over two thirds gone.

SHB is the latest make-work project for regulators. Although there is little risk that SHB will ever be an economic pest in Alberta or even become any more of a nuisance than wax moth, SHB is the latest scare and an excuse to maintain an embargo against cheap US package bees.

If you are a regulator,  you must regulate or lose your job and pension, so there must always be an immanent threat.   We have gone through Resistant AFB, tracheal mites, varroa mites, Africanized Honey Bees (AHB), in the past and now the focus is on Small Hive Beetle (SHB) as excuses to maintain oppressive regulations to prevent Canadian beekeepers accessing cheap replacement stock. 

If we had cheap replacement stock, we would have a lot less need for regulators or assistance coping with our severe and unpredictable climate.

Any bad news for beekeepers is a cause for celebration for those who 'serve' the industry.  Just one example: Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) (AKA Cash Cow Discovery) was a godsend to the US bee research establishment.   Until Dave Hackenberg discovered his bees were dying after returning to Florida from Maine blueberries one year and raised an alarm, US bee research was facing lab closures and layoffs.   Subsequent investigations and search for the CCD chimera kept the bee research and regulatory/extension establishment comfortable and in beer money for a decade.

The fact that Tony Jadczak had previously inspected those very same bees and predicted immanent collapse from a heavy infestation  of varroa mites in no way to prevented great excitement, press releases, demands for funding -- and granting of funds to study that 'new' 'something' that was attacking US bees.

Only a few people were so impolite as to point out that semi-mysterious mass bee die-offs like this one have been a regular occurrence throughout history or make much of such reports when they were brought up.  Everyone was profiting from the story.

Beekeepers got sympathy and had a ready excuse to give to the banker for losses due to bad beekeeping or bad luck, research bodies and schools got renewed budgets and new funding, bee organizations got new credibility and new membership, and the press was handed a simple, ready-made easy-to-print story. 

The only victim in all this was the truth.   Peter Borst wrote an excellent and well-researched article back in 2014 -- and was censored for his trouble.  Nobody wanted to kill the golden goose.

 Hi Allen

It appears that some of the BeeInformed people did not approve of my message. The post has been taken down.

Here is the article in its current form. I may be expanding it and submitting it to the ABJ. -- The Fall and Rise of The Honey Bee

I worked all afternoon, setting and watching fires.  The snow keeps wood piles isolated so that the whole thing does not go up at once.  Looking out at dusk (1730), I see that some piles are still burning freely.  There is no risk of spread, however.

Over the years, old equipment was stacked out of the way and projects that were no longer of interest or which had not worked quite as expected joined them.  Old pallets also accumulated as I had no easy and cheap way to get rid of these things until now that fire permits have become less of  a hassle.

Still, disposing of these things is not cheap if you figure my time.  It will take an entire week of burning and then a few trips to the dump.  Just the same, if I had to haul all this to the dump instead of volatizing it, the job would be ten times bigger.

As it grew darker, I glanced out the window and could see that one fire that had been slow all afternoon has flared up.  That's good, but I hope it does not alarm the neighbours.  Good thing I have a permit.

At bedtime, I looked out and see the fire has died down to almost nothing.  Excellent.  I don't want someone bothering me in the middle of the night.

Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards,
if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.
Ronald Reagan

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Thursday February 4th 2016

Today Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries late this morning and early this afternoon. Clearing this afternoon. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High minus 1.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. 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

"Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon".

No burning for me today. 5 or 10 MPH (8 to 16 KPH) is too much, so 12 to 25 is far too much.  Might be good for kiting, though

The scale says 220.2.  At last, I have reached my goal for January.

My bladder had me up a few times last night though, so I assume the loss is water.  Often I sleep right through, but not last night. 

I even slept in a different bed than usual to break the dream sequence. I suppose that part worked, but I did wake up often. I have one more bed yet, downstairs.  Maybe that is next?

If you look at the bumps in the plot at right, the big gains are from drinking. It takes me about a week to drop the weight that one night of drinking more than one or two glasses of an alcoholic beverage puts on, and it comes off all at once, like this.

*   *   *   *   *

If I look at my recent progress,  I look like a Trojan, stalwartly defending my intentions and progressing steadily to my goal.  The unrecorded period is the time I was on my boat, but we can assume fairly safely that nothing much outside the normal range happened during that time.  Nothing that would argue with the trend, though.

That is what I want to believe and what readers might love to see, and we could leave it at that and remember it that way.

Most people would believe what is portrayed, and think no father.  After all there is a chart with convincing-looking data points.

*   *   *   *   *

But wait, let's look back a bit farther and see more of the picture. 

How we kid ourselves if we don't keep careful track!  It's deja vue all over again.  We could have easily deceived ourselves with limited data and believed something that is not necessarily the take-home message.

If that November recorded weight is correct, then I was here before and I don 't recall.  I have to believe my data and there is that one data point.

That isolated data point looks like an outlier, so should we discard it?  I changed scales, too, at some point, so is there a change in calibration invalidating the old series (No, actually).

I can also think of many reasons to disregard the old data and concentrate on that nice-looking fresh new data that shows what I would like to show. 

That old data is embarrassing.  Besides, it is old and not fresh in my mind.  Moreover, my notes, although seemingly complete at the time, turned out to assume a few things that I can't now quite recall, and some details are now fuzzy...

What is really clear, though is that I got a lot more serious about recording my progress recently.  Also, we can see that my weight loss in summer was roughly comparable in both magnitude and timeframe!

We can also see that I maintained my loss until November, but I am now wondering if I accidentally recorded a September or October reading as 'November' It is easy to do in Fatsecret.

I recall now that the chart contains numbers I entered afterwards.  I did not maintain the chart back then, so the source needs to be consulted, and the source back then is occasional entries scattered through the diary!

The temptation to do 'correct' the data is strong, but this is exactly the sort of second-guessing and unconscious and unmentioned massaging of data that happens all the time and invalidates studies and their results, but goes undetected by the public.

I will check back in my written records and adjust the date only if I can prove it is erroneous.  Otherwise it stands as-is.  I now realise that the chart is suspect before December 2015.

I may go through and patch it up with data from the diary, but this is an interesting ethical matter. Restoration is always at least a little subjective, and there is no real way of knowing what is missing.

The data point is for October 30, so, I read the October 30th diary.  No mention of weight.  Hmmm.

In the October 20th diary, I say

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

Odd.  I cannot find that number in the diary after returning from Thanksgiving trip to the coast, so I did a honeybeeworld.com search for '228.4' and found that I recorded that exact number in the Aug 10 diary, Aug 20 diary, the Sept 20 diary, November 1st diary, and December 1st diary pages, so I had been referring to the first (September) trip to the coast, not the more recent trip.  Words are easy to misinterpret.

Moreover, one could infer from this that I weighed somewhere around 228 on Oct 20 and thus that a reading of 220.2 on Oct 30th is extremely unlikely -- especially given how long it took me to drop that far this past month and in the previous record. (The hospital stay weight drop being exceptional).

I am going to have to disregard the middle portion of that chart for now and decide if I can reconstruct it from the diary record or not.  If I do, it will be a tedious job.

For now, here is the 'corrected' chart with the caveat that the centre portion is just a guess.

As an aside, I have to ask, "What was I thinking?"  I gave up all that summer progress and had to do it over.  Seems my heart event threw me off balance more than I realised. If I had continued on course, one can deduce, possibly correctly, that I would weigh about 205 about now. (and disappear completely in 68 months)

All this illustrates exactly what happens in more studies than anyone knows.  Words are ambiguous, there are lapses in data recording or an instrument acts up or is replaced, someone gets sick, goes on holidays, gets annoyed with the supervisor, or sees results that will cause a stir and cooks the data to 'what it should be', etc. etc.  If the assistants don't fudge the data, then the researcher may very well adjust it or drop seemingly inconsistent data points or observations on the basis that they must be errors.

Then someone needs to publish or make a presentation and finds the series of data that seems to best fit and illustrate the thesis or effect under consideration best and makes a slide. 

The rest is left on the cutting room floor 'for later' and the omission is justified by believing that the data that did not fit was incomplete, corrupted, or confused, and would lead to uncomfortable questions from an audience that would lead the discussion away from the intended results and give the impression the presenter was confused or in doubt. 

After all we all want/need to be experts and present solutions, not uncertain and raise more questions. Right?

One of the rules for survival in any organization is not to ever ask a question that cannot be answered, see a problem with no solution, or present results that conflict with a colleague's prior work.

For this reason, what is missing in bee science is likely much more significant than what is shown, and our bee science tells us as much or more about people than it does about bees.

This why so much Bee Science turns out to be BS, and it is not just bee science.  Read this.

I am not saying that we deceive others deliberately, but it is just natural for us to deceive ourselves first and see what we want or expect to see, then want to share our delusions. In fact, our lives would be impossible if we did not deceive ourselves constantly.  Civilizations are built on shared delusions.

Think about it, but be careful what you say and to whom.  There is a good reason that hot buttons like religion, politics and sex are not considered to be safe parlor or dinner table conversation.

In my house, they are, but my friends are special.  Not everyone can stand having their cherished notions challenged, and some people are very fragile that way.

From the Forum

> I stop by the diary now and then and I noticed a post where you were feeling discouraged because of a negative reaction from the Calgary Beekeepers club to one of your posts...

> Ignore 'em. 10 bee-keepers, 15 opinions. There's a wealth of common sense and experience and scientific method in most of what you post here - I think more people than you know are still learning from you (I am).

Thanks for the words of appreciation. I only received the one blast, but also received a number of supportive emails, so I'll persevere. Seems quite a few Calgary members feel that some in the club expect conformity of opinion. I suppose that is why there is more than one bee group in Calgary.

I applaud those who set out to train new beekeepers, but am not too comfortable that some want the newbees to be clones of themselves and share their values. I suppose it is only human to seek confirmation of one's views, but to demand acceptance and conformity and torture logic to justify it is another thing.

To cite the successes of any particular method of starting out is one thing, but what is never revealed is how many people tried it the 'right' way, failed and dropped out. Those people will not be posting to say that was the case. They are gone and won't be back, or joined the other group.

I have taught beekeeping and talked to lots who have taken the lessons, including some who have taken the recent courses, and I am not convinced that they will be any better at beekeeping than someone who gets a good hive of bees and begins learning then. For one thing, until you have a hive in front of you, all the talk and pictures are just that, talk and pictures.

One of my major obstacles to becoming a good beekeeper was the literature and opinions of other humans.

That is not to say the opinions of people were not useful, but my best teachers were the bees and that continues to this day.

I offered a Bee Day this summer and those who attended learned a lot that they could not learn in a classroom. I hope to have more such events in the coming year and I am very concerned about those who indicated interest and did not attend. I know some will be losing hives as a direct result.

Here is my tryout of VoiceNote II - Speech to text:

The quick brown fox jumped over the slow lazy dog wow this works amazing.
1 2 3 4
Five six seven eight who do we appreciate.  I am trying out voice note 2 - speak to text and it is quite amazing. Years ago, I bought Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and work with it a bit it was ok, but I wasn't that impressed. It wasn't something I stayed with.
I also use the native Windows 7 voice recognition and I didn't stay with it either. We will see what I think of this after a while.

*   *   *   *   *

I am spending far more time than I should on this diary today. 

Examining the question of truth in data and interpretation is a tarbaby.  In examining the topic, even in such a cursory fashion, the limitations of our own capacities for self-observation quickly become obvious.

We simply can never get it completely right.  We have limited senses, limited memory, and our tools, language and logic are slippery.  Moreover, the passage of time makes everything shift in relation to everything else and alters perspective.

The one thing that stands out is that we seldom know what we are doing and any snapshot is just that a snapshot.  When we look out our window, we can only see what is in front of us at the moment and not what is surrounding, or even within ourselves.

Should I try to reconstruct the chart?  Maybe.  I can just search the diary page by page for "22" and "21". Tedious?  Yes.  Worth it?  Dunno.

*   *   *   *   *

 I have noticed the chimney is not drawing as well as it might, so I cleaned out the bottom of the chimney yesterday and found two dead birds in the ashes. Sad, I thought, but now I wonder now if they built a nest there in summer when the furnace was off, then were killed when it started up.  I also wonder if the nest is still there.  I'll have to look up there and see.

*   *   *   *   *

I went south of the pond and see I have lots of burning I can do even if it gets breezy.  As much as I have accomplished, I am not yet one half done.

OK!  I reconstructed the Fatsecret chart and the values are from my daily diary, so they are truly what I saw at the time.  My only reservation is that I changed scales early on, then the scale seemed to wander a bit at one point, but neither is sufficient variation to affect my conclusions.

I still cannot figure out how I lost so much weight in the hospital (Sept 3 on the chart).  No booze?  Little salt?  Lots of sleep?  I also wonder how I gained it back so quickly.

I weighed 235, on December 8. 
Today, I weigh 220
That's a change of
 fifteen pounds in 57 days
or an average of about  
1/4 pound a day, 2 pounds a week, or 8 pounds a month.

*   *   *   *   *

Now I am going outside.  It is dull out there and breezy, so I am not excited to go, but a man has to do what a man has to do.

*   *   *   *   *

I went out and burned up piles of dreams.  These hive floors, lids and pallets were assembled at varying times over the past century by people spending years at the task at various locations all over Alberta. 

These parts served us well until we palletized and did not need them any more.  I advertised them but people were never very interested and those who seemed to be turned out to be just another problem, not the solution. They wanted them for nothing and if they got them for nothing or some token amount would pick through and leave me a mess.

We were not fussy and some of these parts were pretty tattered, but many would still do service for someone, but that someone has not shown up in  the past fifteen years, so it is time to turn the page.

I torched one pile and was considering saving some back, but my phone rang, then I got an email regarding a boat I am buying.  I went in for a moment and when I came back the pile I had been saving was involved so I figured that fate had helped me decide and let it go, too.

I tend to be indecisive and can see some good in any old thing, so sometimes I need a shove.  I tend to see the good in people, too, even if some would consider them to be beyond salvage, so that trait is not all bad.  It used to drive my wife crazy though.


There was a lot of good stuff those piles, but a lot of problems too.  Also, the remains of old projects, begun and abandoned.  Time to let go.  A person can't do everything.

Oddly, I did not see any mice being displaced or signs of nests.  That is good since I hate displacing the wildlife, especially in the cold of winter. Zip sniffed around and followed scent trails here and there, but she may have just been detecting the deer which have been living over there and leave ample evidence behind.  I wonder what they think of all this.  After all, deer are not all that different from people in many ways and this must be a puzzle and inconvenience.

The promised wind never did arrive, and that was fortunate, so, after I got a few piles going, I got bold and lit a few more.  I suppose I could have just torched all the trash the first day, but it took me a while to get used to how the fires burn and also decide how much to burn.  This is a learning experience.  It will take me many more days to finish, but I am approaching halfway.

It was hard to start this job.  I did not like to destroy equipment with any promise at all, but once I started, it got easier and I was thinking, why not burn it all and be done with it?  Extrapolating, I think I can see how vandals or marauders can wind up burning entire villages. Maybe they start with one hut of someone who has really annoyed them, but once they get going...

*   *   *   *   *

Tomorrow, I go iceboating at the Ghost.  Last summer at Bee Day, a fellow beekeeper invited me to go sometime and today we arranged for tomorrow.  This should be interesting.  I have always wanted to try it and almost bought an iceboat at one point, but have never been on one -- yet.

*   *   *   *   *

For supper, I made a hamburger soup/stew.  Basically, it is my usual recipe with cooked lowfat hamburger thrown in, but with a few less ingredients since I am running low on vegetables.

Do they all look the same?  There are similarities, but each pot is very different. This one has pepper, crushed chilies and cumin, but no garlic.  The previous one, pepper and crushed chilies, but no other spices.

*   *   *   *   *

I keep getting notes of approval from Calgary Bee club members saying, "Keep posting."  There was one in the forum today.  I see we continue to get a few new members in the forum.  We appreciate every question, comment, or reply.  Thanks folks!

All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.
Edward Gibbon

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Friday February 5th 2016

Today Increasing cloudiness. Wind becoming west 20 km/h near noon. High 6.
Tonight Mainly cloudy. Clearing near midnight. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light after midnight. Low minus 1.

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That was the worst night's sleep in a long time.  I don't know if it was smoke from the fires, the fact that my furnace was smoking a little, my diet and the pepper in the stews, my medications, avoiding alcohol, or just one of those inexplicable cycles in my life.  Whatever the cause, I slept fitfully when I slept and worried about things I don't normally worry about.  Finally, some time after four AM, I got up and drank a cup of coffee.  After that, I slept soundly until 0730.

When I got up, I found my kitchen radio would not turn on.  The failure may have been due to overwatering a plant that sits on top of it, but I suspect it is just another failure of early 2000s electronics caused by the capacitor plague.  I suspect the latter as I noticed some deterioration in the radio's performance recently.  Cassiopeia's chart plotters have come down with this malady recently as well, and I am looking at again replacing the multifunction display unit I recently replaced.

I weigh 220.8 today, up 0.6 pounds in spite of a large calorie deficit and care in selection of food yesterday.  Bad sleep adds weight, plus I ate and drank water and coffee during the night.  Eggs are 2 oz each and water weighs 8 oz per cup.  When we are dealing in tenths of a pound, 2 eggs and a cup of coffee translates to 10oz or 0.6 lb!  What a coincidence.

Yesterday, I spent far too long on this diary.  That will have to end for now. Today I am going iceboating at the Ghost and have some shopping to do.  For whatever reason, my furnace is smoking a bit and I'll have to troubleshoot that before I go.  It is probably time for the routine furnace service that I do twice a year.

I drove to the Ghost and met up with Randy.  It turns out that he has an excellent, two-person ice boat.  We rigged and set out, and before long we were going close to 100 MPH over the bare ice. Temperatures were around +8°C and the ice surface was melting, providing a very slick surface, so slick that standing and walking on the ice was hazardous.

I shopped on the way home, watched video,  and checked the furnace, then went to bed.

Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.
Jean-Paul Sartre

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Saturday February 6th 2016

Today Mainly sunny. Wind southwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 becoming west 50 gusting to 70 near noon. Temperature falling to minus 2 this afternoon.
Tonight Clear. Wind west 50 km/h gusting to 70 becoming northwest 20 gusting to 40 this evening. Low minus 10.

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I woke up at a bit after three and seeing as I was wide awake, got up. I weigh 220.0 in spite of only sleeping four hours.

I drank two shots of vodka last night to test the theory my poor sleep might be due to abstaining from alcohol.  Apparently not.

I got a whiff of smoke again and went down to find the ashes were up over the ring.  They were okay last night, but getting near the limit. 

A sudden accumulation can build up sometimes, and it seems I must have hit a pocket of shale in the coal again overnight.  When that happens, a lot of material passes through and is is thrown over unburned.

Shale looks like coal, but does not burn and just drops into the ash reservoir as the furnace continues to run until real coal comes along and generates enough heat to reach thermostat room temperature again and turn off the burner for a while.

Sometimes the furnace can run unattended, even in winter, for up to two weeks without needing attention, but this time, it was one week to the day before ashes became a problem.  I shoveled the ashes and went back to bed.

Looking back, the ashes were shoveled on Jan 7th, 13th, 17th (before I left for BC), the 29th, and of course today -- and should have been yesterday -- the 5th.

I was home this past week and maybe that makes a difference in consumption since when I go away, I turn the heat down to 55° F from the normal 70° F (21°C to 13°C).

The amount of heat required, and thus coal consumption, depends on the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature with some allowance for stored heat in the ground under the basement floor and solar gain and the cooling effect of any winds.

Since the mean daily outdoor temperature at this time of year is -10 °C, and ground temperature below the frost line is +13°C year round, the unheated building would probably rest at above freezing except during a windy or extreme cold spell. Solar gain also tends to warm the south end greatly on sunny days and the furnace may not run all day even at minus ten.

If that is the case, then turning down the heat to  55° F reduces the heating load by half -- as long as the weather stays normal.  My big worry always is that one of those exceptional cold spells that take the temperatures to minus forty might occur while I am away.  They do happen just often enough to be a concern.

I woke up again at seven.  Breakfast is at The Mill today and I am of two minds about going.  I have things to do here and what is served is definitely not on my list of ideal foods.  Crepes, syrup, jam, whipped cream, bacon, and fruit. The fruit is okay, I suppose, but I go for the company.

I had thought maybe to go up to Gull Lake afterwards for the day and an overnight since I would be twenty minutes along the route already, but Orams have basketball and volleyball and the winds at Gull are predicted to be very strong and gusty.

I decided that I need to get out more, so I did go to breakfast and did carry on to Gull Lake.  Mckenzie was playing basketball in Sylvan, but the games were over when I got there, so I continued on and checked Sunnyside, found no one kiting, and  drove to Birch Bay where I drove out onto the ice a way to get away from air turbulence. 

Even out there the wind was gusty and twisty, but I took out my trainer kite and took some runs.   From moment to moment the air currents ranged from zephyrs to violent blasts, but I had a few satisfactory runs before an especially powerful gust ripped the kite from my hands, threw me down and broke the brake strap.

I got back up and saw my kite vanishing rapidly downwind, and wondered if I would ever see it again.  As I tried to recall the replacement cost, I made the slow quarter-mile trek back to the van over six inch crusty snow in ski boots, carrying my skis.  When I glanced back could still see the kite skidding away, then stopping before carrying on, getting smaller in the distance.  I rushed a bit, but decided that I shouldn't kill myself over a kite and rested a bit.

Once, at the van, I changed to street boots and drove the van out across the lake towards a dark speck on the horizon and I managed to catch and head off the skidding kite, bundle it up in the howling wind, and thrust it into a downwind van side door.

Not having much choice since this was my smallest kite, I decided to quit, and drove to the house.  I was tired from the early day and the kiting and lay down for a nap.  When I woke up I was groggy and think I may be fighting some bug.  If so, that might explain the disturbed sleep the past few nights.

I try to keep a record of food and exercise and am pretty faithful in doing so lately.  Here is the summary for February so far.

Daily Average:   Exercise: 3879 Cals   Food: 1427 Cals (Fat: 42.83g, Protein: 63.86g, Carbs: 191.33g)
Monthly Total: Exercise: 23276 Cals   Food: 8564 Cals (Fat: 256.97g, Protein: 383.15g, Carbs: 1147.96g)

It seems that this month I run a daily deficit of about 1,400 calories and that should result in losing about half-pound a day according to theory.

Here is January:

Daily Average:   Exercise: 3359 Cals   Food: 1749 Cals (Fat: 68.96g, Protein: 80.62g, Carbs: 192.56g)
Monthly Total: Exercise: 100780 Cals   Food: 54224 Cals (Fat: 2137.83g, Protein: 2499.17g, Carbs: 5969.47g)

Over the month, the deficit averaged 1,600 calories a day and should have reduced me by 13 pounds. It did not.  I went from 229 to 222, half the estimate.

Here is December:

Daily Average:   Exercise: 3440 Cals   Food: 1940 Cals (Fat: 78.65g, Protein: 80.84g, Carbs: 212.64g)
Monthly Total: Exercise: 96325 Cals   Food: 54323 Cals (Fat: 2202.17g, Protein: 2263.61g, Carbs: 5954.01g)

I should have dropped 12 pounds, but dropped 4. 

Although there are many explanations, I suspect that the estimates for the calories and exercise are just that, estimates. Food estimates are probably optimistic on the low side and exercise on the high side, to make us feel good.

The deficit totaled from Dec 1 to now is 103,180 calories if I did the math correctly and their totals are correct.   That calculates to 28 pounds of lost fat.  I weighed 234 on Dec 3 and weigh 220 now, a difference of half of that, so something is fishy.

It does not really matter, though.  What matters is that I am making good progress in the right direction and if I am kidding myself half the time, it does not matter.  I as I have said recently, kidding ourselves and pretending is what makes life tolerable and even fun.  Given what we know and what we don't, if we did not kid ourselves or pretend, we could not function in society.

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.
Ernest Benn

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Sunday February 7th 2016

Today Increasing cloudiness late this morning. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light near noon. High plus 3.
Tonight Clearing early this evening. Low minus 10.

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I woke up at 0300 again.  I don't know why. I was not fretting about anything. I was just awake.

I found myself waking up with annoying dreams or fretting in the middle of the night several times recently, but whatever the reason, these things that were bothering me seem to have been resolved in my mind. Nonetheless, I was a awake or half awake tonight for an hour or more before falling back asleep and sleeping until eight.

The winds here at Gull do not look too promising today according to some reports but windguru seems to think I have a chance.

Medhat sent me the agenda for the upcoming Beekeeping Systems and Integrated Pest Management Workshop February 9 and 10.  I had not intended to go, but looking at the programme, I'm thinking now that I might.  It is expensive, for a retired sideline guy with no dog in the fight, but I am still alive and I still care. With travel and hotel, it adds up to $500 at least.

After sitting through many, many presentations, I've come to think that there is little of any practical use in most of them, but at the same time, it pays to keep up with the current thinking by going to meetings and networking. 

There are many political aspects to beekeeping; bureaucratic decisions and fashion can very much impact what is acceptable and marketable, so it pays to keep up with the day's buzz, even if it what's new is often just based on speculation and arbitrary rulings.

I left Birch Bay before lunch and drove to Aspen beach where there was suppose to be 10 knots of wind according to an automated email I received.  I drove out onto the lake and found there was barely a hint of wind.  That gave me a chance to straighten out the kites that had tangled yesterday.

That accomplished, and with no promise of wind, I started to leave, but when I was turning around I found I was stuck.  The snow was crusty and the ice under it was slick and there were packed sections where others had driven, making ridges. 

I tried the usual tricks and after ten minutes decided to put on my chains.  That is when I found that installing them was almost impossible when the wheel was deep in snow.  I already knew that, but I had no shovel, so after another ten minutes and freezing my hands, I went to plan B.  I let half the air out of the front tires. That softened the tires enough that I was able to drive right out.

At 20 pounds pressure, I still had enough pressure that the tires did not look at all flat and enough to drive on the highway at least until I reached a gas station to refill them.  Although running any distance on roads with lower pressure is said to affect gas mileage, be dangerous due to way and chance of hydroplaning if roads are wet, and make the tire more at risk to damage from heat buildup and puncture, at twenty pounds, tires have a different footprint and far better flotation on soft ground.

Tire pressure is a technical matter and one should always run the recommended inflation, but for special off-road purposes, reduced pressure can improve flotation on soft surfaces like sand, mud and snow and improve traction by many multiples over a hard tire.  It can also increase risk of rim damage and puncture due to softening the contact area, so one must be aware of how soft the tire is and the type of terrain.

For extreme flotation and traction in sand and mud, tires can be dropped to as low as five pounds or so, but at that point, they are very low to the ground and there is risk of breaking the seal to the rim and having the tire come off with hard turns or too much torque.  Of course reducing pressure lowers the vehicle body, too, and there is increased risk of high-centering and becoming hung up on the frame or making things worse if already hung up.

Obviously this is something to try before you spin the wheels enough to dig them into holes and sink to an impossible situation.  Nonetheless, if the body is not hung up too badly, this trick can often get you out of such spin holes.

Be careful though.  If you do not have a tire gauge and are relying on looking at the tire to see how much you let out, in sand or mud, the ground may hold the tire shape and you will not see how very flat the tire is until you move forward and you could be sitting on the rims with tires too flat to drive on, and which will fall off the rims once you drive more than a very short distance or at any speed.

This picture shows the lowest you should want to go. Usually sufficient traction can be achieved long before the tire is getting this flat.  I try letting out ten pounds at first, then a bit more and bit more and only on the drive wheels.

If that does not work, then letting down the other tires too may help by increasing flotation so they roll up over the soft surface.  The rule is soft on soft, hard on hard.

At this degree of deflation, tire damage is quite possible, either from running over stones, etc., or from overheating from driving too fast and far.  Care must be taken driving and the tire should only be driven short distance at very low speed. 

In my case, at 20 pounds instead of the recommended 35 pounds, my tire did not look at all flat, not like this, but still had plenty of additional traction.  Most people would not have been able to tell it was down to half pressure just by looking.

Also, once free of the soft conditions, one can only drive very slowly and carefully to the next air pump.  Nonetheless, this trick has gotten me out of muddy fields, beach sand, and snow more than once, and on occasion from spots where I would have had to get a  farmer to bring a  tractor.

Get stuck often?  Check this out.

I drove home, and had supper, serviced the furnace, and went to bed. 

On the way, I bought gas.  The price is down to 66.9 and after the 7-cent discount, that puts gas under 60 cents.  We never thought we would ever see that again!

Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.

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Monday February 8th 2016

Today A mix of sun and cloud. High 8.
Tonight Clear. Low minus 9.

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I woke up at  around 0300 again, so I got up and got to work.  I have decided I am going to Edmonton for at least one day and I have a lot of things to do.  I'll go back to bed in a while, but there is no sense lying there if I am not sleeping.

I did some desk work, had breakfast and coffee, and then went back to bed at 0505 and slept well until 0905. 

While up, I updated LibreOffice to LibreOffice Fresh -- version 5.  There is s trick to it.  I was getting 1402 errors on both computers, but uninstalled the existing version using this hard-to-find fixit: MicrosoftFixit.ProgramInstallUninstall.Run.exe.  After that, the new version installed easily.

I weigh 119.2 today!

I did deskwork in the morning, then cleaned out the chimney.  It is a dirty job, but makes quite a difference. 

I had thought the main chimney might be blocked, but we can see that looking up and down it was clear.  The horizontal section, though, was clogged.  The picture at right below was taken after some of the blockage was cleared. I also found and patched a hole in the cleanout that leaked smoke when the chimney was not drawing.  It is all good now.


I plan to be in Edmonton tomorrow and will stay at Jean and Chris' tonight as they live about halfway.

I left home around 2000 and stopped at Mike's to pick up some door prizes for the IPM meeting then drove to Orams'.  I arrived a little after 2100 and everyone was already in bed.   I went to bed after watching a bit of video and fell asleep immediately.

 Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.
Oscar Wilde


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Tuesday February 9th 2016

Today A mix of sun and cloud. Clearing this afternoon. High 7.
Tonight Clear. Low minus 10.

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I slept well and awoke from dreams to the smell of coffee.

I was driving home from Three Hills and came across what appeared to be a large search party down by the Creek.  People were fanned out, combing a grid which was marked out with red strings in tall alfalfa on the east side of the road.  I thought I would stroll through the area and so I did.

None of the searchers  or dogs paid the slightest attention to me.  I wandered south and found the slope became steeper and turned to clay with medium-sized stones imbedded.  I continued on.

About then I encountered a 'little old lady' that I had seen around and we exchanged a few words as we climbed the slope in  the same direction and as we walked, the slope grew steeper.

We walked, then climbed along in the same direction until the grade became vertical, with few handholds.  I reached a point where I could not find a route up. She continued on and I examined where she had climbed and could not see how she had managed to find a grip.

That is when I woke up.

I weight 218.6 today. I'm off to the IPM workshop.

Zippy is problem.  I am leaving her with Jean, but she has misbehaved here before, barking constantly and messing where she should not.  Apparently Zip does not like Nathan and Sophie and misbehaves here.

For some reason, she is no such trouble at the Mill, but Fen was going to be away, too, and could not take her.   I'll be leaving her with Ruth when I go away next, but am finding that she is getting to be a problem if I can't leave her places when I must.

I left around 0730 and drove to Edmonton, arriving in time for the main part of the workshop.

I found nothing particularly earth-shattering in the first few presentations, but I did shoot a few slides. Steve Pernal presented on AFB transmission, a topic of interest lately, but did not mention which strains of bee were used.


I had picked up the page shown at right as I went into the meeting, had read it over, and was wondering what in was about.

Oddly, this document is not on the Alberta Beekeepers website as I had expected it to be.

The other side (below) is of interest, too.

Everything was clarified soon enough in a presentation entitled Alberta Agriculture Response Plans; What is it all about? in which Medhat first explained how hard Small Hive Beetle (SHB) is to detect in small numbers, how a few beetles can reproduce into vast populations quite rapidly given the right conditions, and then introduced Dr. Delores Peters to explain how Alberta Agriculture plans to implement an inspection and permit regime for bees moving From BC to Alberta and within the province anyhow.

When  it was time for questions, I pointed out the letter in my hand and asked if they were aware of the Commission's opposition to the plan and also asked if the Commission had changed its stand since the letter was written in December.  They were aware and the Commission is still opposed.

Right about then my nosebleed began again and would not stop.  I plugged the nostril and managed to keep it under control that way.   The bleeding clearly has to do with using Pepto Bismol, as this happened once before and is probably an interaction with my anti-clotting medication. I took the Pepto Bismol two days ago, so I am surprised at how long the effect lasts. PB contains salicylates, the active compound in aspirin, which among other things thins blood.

Apparently government has learned nothing from the attempts to control the spread of tracheal and varroa mites, although the beekeepers have and are aware of the futility and cost of such interventions.  Nobody knows if this plan will do any good at all -- or if SHB is even likely to be an economically significant pest in Alberta -- experience elsewhere suggest not -- but we do know the disruption and expense that this project will entail.

Apparently, Alberta Agriculture has taken this on without full consultation with all stakeholders or BC and against the explicit advice and requests of the organization that represents virtually all Alberta Beekeepers.

Someone told me that Ontario at first attempted controls but has taken them off and Southern Ontario is a far more suited to SHB problems being much farther south that we are with mild winters and a long season.

This situation is bizarre to say the least.  For the Alberta Agriculture to ignore the representatives of the affected industry and rush to action seems most inappropriate.   Is this even legal?  Stay tuned.

There was some discussion, but clearly there is much left to be said. There was another item on the programme, but I left and went to the bar. 

I was there all evening visiting with the all the various beekeepers who get together at such events.  We are very much like family.  We all know one another and have things in common.  People  bicker sometimes and even fight, but get back together after a while and continue as if nothing ever happened.

I see a lot more young people lately.  Beekeeping is a family business and very often at least some of the kids stay in the occupation with the folks or strike out on their own.  I see another new generation taking over.

Jean reported Zippy was okay so I got a room and stayed the night

I'm not a real movie star.
I've still got the same wife I started out with twenty-eight years ago.
Will Rogers

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