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Thursday November 1st 2012
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The dull weather continues with freezing rain and cool temperatures.  Our promised warm days have been postponed and the daily highs, originally the ten degree high predicted on Saturday is now postponed and reduced to eight degrees on Tuesday.:

I had placed an offer on the boat, yesterday, but the broker wrote today and said there was another offer placed, too, and did I want to alter mine.  I figured I was being hustled and withdrew my offer.

Our electricity went off just before noon today and stayed off.  At bedtime it was still off.  The temperatures are mild, hovering around freezing, with no wind, so we were not suffering.  I ran the burners on the kitchen gas stove to keep the chill off and ran the motorhome generator for a while to run the furnace burner.  I didn't have enough juice at the end of the slim power cord I had handy to run the furnace fan, though.  I have some heavy-duty 3/12 cords and we were using them last summer, but I could not find the one I needed in the dusk, so I was using 150 feet of 3/16 cord and the voltage drop is excessive if the appliance draws as much current and the fan does.

FWIW, the kitchen stove provides about 50,000 BTU of heat using just the stovetop burners.  That is over half of what a normal home furnace supplies.  Of course, this is no ordinary house, and requires over 200,000 BTU/hr in the coldest part of winter.

I hate this time of year at the best of times, but the cluster of events happening right now are a bit much. 

  • General and extended power failures hit all around central Alberta due to ice loads as my offer was submitted.

  • Sandy completely obliterated the marina I was planning to be moored at right about now, and the after-effects are currently seriously hampering the progress of the boat I was to be sailing on.

  • Newark, the airport I was to land at, had I not cancelled, was recently under 2 feet of water.  Marinas around New York are either gone or badly damaged according to early reports.

  • A major earthquake -- the biggest in Canada for decades -- hit Haida Gwaii, which is one of my intended cruising destinations.  (I have already been docked at Tofino once during a tsunami warning).

  • West Coast Canadian real estate is in a major funk and not likely to recover for a generation, impoverishing many potential charter clients and possibly forcing lots of boats onto the market shortly.

  • Europe is in big trouble and the unemployment there, plus draconian tax increases, will cut business from there for quite a while.

  • There is Increasing evidence that the Canadian economy is on a slide and that we are headed into asset  deflation as more and more people reach retirement with no savings.

 Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add,
but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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.Friday November 2nd 2012
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First thing this morning, I started up the generator and plugged in our deep freeze and the computers. The freezer interior temperatures were still well below freezing, but it pays to be careful.  Around 9:30, the power came back on and stayed on.  I realize, though, that I need to plan for outages a bit better now that we have become so dependant on power.

When we first moved here in 1968, we had no power or water or heat.  We bought this big old four-room school at action and had no money left.  We camped in the place at first, but within a few years, got the furnace going, the electricity on and a pump in the well.  Later, sewer and water came to town and after a while, we hooked into it.

Anyhow, today, I hope to get back to the books.  So far, I haven't done much, except tidy up and also run Spin Rite on one of my computers.  That machine, a five year old laptop, has shown a few glitches that look suspiciously like file corruption.  I ran sfc /scannow from an elevated prompt and it came up clean.  I also ran Malwarebytes and it found zero malware.  Now I'm doing a low-level disk check and repair.

I recall running Spin Rite on a friend's computer on which the main hard disk was screwed up to the point where it would not boot reliably or access files properly if it did.    I was there for supper and set Spin Rite to running and left instructions for it to go all night and not to stop it until the process was complete -- potentially 20 hours if the disk was really bad.    I could see a lot of repair happening from the screen report when I left for home.

He decided that it had run long enough after a few hours and booted the computer.  It booted fine, but of course the repair had not been completed and he lost files and had to replace the computer.  I wonder if he might not have recovered everything if he had not been so impatient.  Even then, I would have made a backup of everything ASAP as a drive that is failing as badly as that one was seldom lasts too much longer.

Frank writes from the Hudson River on his way to Bermuda and the Caribbean

Hi Allen.
We are still making our way down the Hudson, currently at Haverstraw Bay. I do know that my friend Alton has his marina totally destroyed along with his boat. We are hoping to find a place to stage for our departure which at this time looks like next Thursday. As we head down river we see more & more destruction. Boats washed ashore and in the marinas sailboats on their side. Very sad. Electric power just becoming available to the area north of NY. Truly a disaster at this time. Biggest problem is electric. Without it, Gas for cars, heating & refrigeration not working.

When I work I relax; doing nothing or entertaining visitors makes me tired.
Pablo Picasso

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.Saturday November 3rd 2012
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We are facing yet another dull day around freezing.  We've been below the normals for two weeks now.  The pond has frozen and it looks less and less as if we will see the ground for a while.  Alberta is known for the occasional brown Christmases, so nothing can be ruled out.

I'm still getting my deskwork up to date, so keeping at it is my plan for the day.

I got it done, or mostly done by 4PM.  What a waste of time.

We had supper, then sat down to watch a movie.  We were about ten minutes in and the power went off again and did not come back on until we were asleep a few hours later.

The recent week of freezing rain and hoarfrost loaded power line wires around Central Alberta with ice to the point where the weight broke cross arms off poles. It will be a while until all the damage is repaired.  As the crews work, they have to cut power periodically so they can safely repair sections at a time.  Who knows how long this will take?

No one would have doubted his ability to reign had he never been emperor.

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.Sunday November 4th 2012
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Finally we have a sunny day that promises to be above the seasonal normals for the first time since the 20th of October, two weeks ago. 

I find dull days very depressing and the return of the sun is most welcome.  Today and tomorrow appear to be the last good days to get any outdoor work done.  We'll see how ambitious I am.

The Alberta Beekeepers Commission AGM starts Monday but I have pretty well decided to skip it. 

Attending the Alberta Beekeepers Commission Convention and Annual General Meeting is expensive.  Moreover, the registration process does not appear to be set up to accommodate members who want to only go for a day or two -- or simply attend the business sessions!

In fact, it appears -- to the outsider at least -- that there is an admission fee to attend the Alberta Beekeepers Commission Annual General Meeting.  To my mind, this -- if not illegal -- is just plain wrong.  This may or may not be the case, but it is sure how it looks when I go to the web page and there is no indication that all members have the right to attend freely, which they most certainly should -- AFAIK.

I'm afraid the Alberta Beekeepers Commission is regressing towards exclusiveness again.  This is a natural, mostly innocent and somewhat accidental tendency that some of us have fought over the years, understanding that a Provincial  organization needs to include all Alberta beekeepers to receive the support of all parties.  This is particularly true when  there is an element of compulsion to belonging.

Naturally, the Commission is run by relatively prosperous and relatively big beekeepers, and they tend to forget or overlook the small beekeepers' interests and limited budget.  Those in the executive and the office speak mostly to others like themselves who already understand with how things work, and are happy.  They see no need to explain and promote to others who can't see what they see.

That things work in their favour and largely exclude the sideliner and new beekeeper perspective is conveniently forgotten.  After all, those whose needs are being underserved are not at the meeting to point that fact out. Catch 22.   Moreover since outsiders do not understand the inner workings, they are not even in the position to ask intelligent questions or insist on their rights.

The Commission was set up to include a sideliners' representative, and that is as it should be.  However, for whatever reasons, the AGM has been structured to exclude the actual members of that segment of the Provincial beekeeping population, even though they are required to be under the Commission.

IMO, it is of the utmost importance to make efforts to encourage participation by outsiders and newcomers.  Unrestricted entry to the business sessions should be the very minimum, and maybe thought should be given to holding some or all of the business in the evenings.  Although single day registrations would be a start, even offering a Convention discount to first-timers would pay off in the long run by bringing new blood.

The new beekeepers, small beekeepers, sideliners and outsiders are all a vital part of the present and future of the Alberta beekeeping industry.  It only makes sense to work hard to include them.  It is everyone's interest to make sure all parties have the opportunity to be  present and heard when decisions are being made that affect all Alberta beekeepers

Maybe I'll send in a motion in this regard.

I have another issue as well.

To be continued...

Zippy and I took a one-mile walk down the property and back, mid-afternoon.  I need to get more exercise.

When hungry, eat your rice; when tired, close your eyes.
Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean.

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Monday November 5th 2012
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Our snow mostly disappeared overnight, but so much for the promise of a sunny day.  We have sun, but now we are expecting rain as well.  Our weather forecasts have been a string of broken promises.

I've was tired yesterday and my ears have been blocked, so I took the day off.  I'm still tired today and my ears are worse.  Sure hope this passes.  I'll go out and see what I can accomplish anyhow.

I got a fair bit done.  It was even warm enough that I had to take off my fleece.  The bees were flying and the snow disappeared as I worked.   I see that the hive scale seems to be free again, but it has not changed since the last reading weeks ago so I wonder what is going on with it.

I managed to do a bit of cleanup now that the snow is gone and added to the load on the trailer.  I think I'll give up on the idea of really packing it full, though.  I think now that it may be more practical to just make extra trips than fool around trying to pack every last piece of junk onto every load.  I'd like to take at least one load over before it gets snowy again.

Try a thing you haven’t done three times.
Once, to get over the fear of doing it.
Twice, to learn how to do it.
And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not.
Virgil Garnett Thomson

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Tuesday November 6th 2012
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This came in at 5:56 AM today.

Hi Allen,

Just a response to your comments about the ABC annual meeting and convention. We are missing you here.

Your comments about the "closed quality" of the meetings is a bit overstated. The ABC board does a pretty admirable job in my estimation and I think in your heart of hearts you would have to agree. Your comments about encouraging small beekeepers has been made at the meetings by George Hansen, President of the American Beekeeping Federation.

Small and Hobby beekeepers is the industries face to the public at farmers markets, etc. The very positive public image we enjoy is largely because of this sector. The ABF of course is the organization that accommodates the small beekeepers in the U.S.

The ABC has made available a seat on the board for the hobby segment of the industry. It has been moderately successful.

The Edmonton Beekeepers always have a meeting at the convention facility during the evening and are able to utilize the speaker cadre from the convention program.

The ABC has the been instrumental in restarting the beekeeping training programme at Fairview, which is certainly a tool to help get young interested beekeepers started in the industry. The College instructor, Eric Strongren, in his talk yesterday made a clear point that one of their strategies in placing students is to put them in a realistic situation. If the student is more interested in the marketing, side of the business, he hopes to place them in an outfit with that focus.

While Alberta beekeepers are a professional group focused on honey, pollen and wax production and pollination services, they are not blind to the role that other components of the industry play. Bee health seems to have become the dominant topic in recent years, so the agenda is largely dominated by those kinds of speakers. I think bee health is every bit as important to the small beekeeper as it is to the larger operators

The convention cost may be a stickler for you, and that topic has been discussed forever I am sure. The current site seems to hold the favour of our membership from a family oriented, convenience perspective. As you are well aware, you will attend many bee meetings and never find as many young people and their small children in attendance, and this years meeting is no exception. Further, we came to this venue because of poor service, inadequate facilities and high prices elsewhere. Young women with children in tow were well represented at the wine and cheese, silent auction last night!!

Fallen Timbre Meadery was present and had a very pleasant wine tasting table. Their product seems to be most delightful, I plan on asking our local establishment to bring in a couple of cases!!! Of course no wine tasting goes without some story telling. My best story is attending some BCHPA meetings at which the membership had been asked to bring a bottle of their finest. A good time was had by all! And of course David Tharle did bring up some Allen Dick and his mead laden motor home stories.

You may not of been here but really you were in our hearts. Come on Up


P.S. I was going to write this to your forum but my computer incompetence has me excluded from my gmail so I couldn't complete the registration process. My problem is centred around my inability to remember passwords. The ending of our culture will be precipitated by password screwups.

Grant is quite right in that my criticisms are not meant to be severe.  He is one of those who worked very hard to make sure the Commission was not set up to be a Big Boy's club and to make certain include all Alberta beekeepers, so I have to respect his opinion, but at the same time, I want to make sure that the natural tendency to forget about bringing in fresh faces does not creep up on us.  BTW, I hope Grant does manage to join the forum.

Looking again at the registration form, though, I see this, just as I did when I first thought of going for a day or two.:

Single day rates available at the Registration Desk only to full registrants ”who would act as a sponsor for non-member employees or family members excluding spouses. An additional fee to cover daily meal costs would be added.”

I don't think Grant realizes how far the original intent of full inclusion with which we began the Commission has gone off the rails.

BTW, I am assured by my friends that I can attend for a day - no problem -- BUT why should I get private assurances when other members read this and find they either pony up the whole fee or are turned away? 

And, nowhere does it state that registration is not necessary to attend the business meeting.

As I said to insiders, and the wealthy, it all looks great.  To outsiders, and the budget-conscious, not so much.

Actually, the cost of the Convention is not a real issue to me but I can sure see that the way it is structured is bound to unintentionally inhibit many of the outsiders and budget-conscious newbees.

I should explain that there are a number of reasons I did not go to the Convention this year.  Last year, my wife was diagnosed with a serious illness just days before the Convention, so I missed it.  I also missed all the US meetings.  I was home from October through June except for a short trip to see Mom in January.

This year, though, I was caught with my outdoor fall work unfinished when we got an early snow, and I am just now getting caught up.  I also have a doctor's appointment today.  I suppose I could have rescheduled, but I did not.  Tonight, I have a meeting in Calgary.

I've also committed to go to Laguna Beach for a week at Thanksgiving to spend time with Jon and the kids, and the preparation has kept me busy.  Usually when I travel in the winter, Ellen prefers to stay here, so the house is taken care of.  This year, we are both going, and I have to make preparations to be certain that we have backup heat, good security, someone here watching, and that a lot of little details are managed.  We also have two animals that are going to miss us.

And, yes, the meeting would cost me $312, plus a room at $510! (three nights) plus 600 km at $80 (cash cost), or a total of $902 for the three days, plus meals out or $1,000 all-told.  There is no published way to attend for one day.  For comparison, I will spend a week in California with my wife for less than that -- including flights and a rental car to boot.

As I previously mentioned, the above are not my only concerns.  I also really wonder about the "spouse" discount in registration.  It sees to me to be totally out of touch with the times and an inappropriate endorsement of a sexual relationship, when there are other close relationships which are not offered the same advantage.

A preferential rate for sleeping with someone is as ridiculous and inappropriate in 2012 as expecting women to only attend the Ladies Auxiliary meetings was in 1975.

I recall the confusion and outrage back in the seventies when Ellen (my wife) and Marnie Abel both decided to attend the main sessions and not the Ladies' Auxiliary meetings.  The men did not seem to mind, since they knew the two were no less beekeepers than the men in the room -- but the 'ladies' had a fit.

I know some will object to making spouses equal to everyone else and pay the same as everyone else.  People always do.  I remember clearly at one meeting when  it was suggested (probably by me) that the women should also vote, that one woman stood up and said, "Women don't need a vote!  If I feel strongly on an issue, I tell my husband how to vote."  And, knowing her, I bet he did as he was told.

If the intention is to have a 'meals only" registration, so families can eat together, then why not break that out and offer it to all members and families?  For that matter, now that the ABC is a commission, not an association, I wonder if any special provisions for families is legitimate.

As for accommodation cost, I used to take a camper or motorhome and stay in the parking lot at the Mayfield or the Edmonton Inn.  That made a lot of sense.  Why pay for a room when all it is used for is to sleep a few hours and maybe take a shower.  Back then, convention registration did not force a member to buy meals, so a budget-strapped member could sleep outside, carry a lunch and attend at very low cost.  I wonder what would happen today if I tried staying in my camper at the West Edmonton Mall? 

For one thing, I'd have to be very careful about drinking and then sleeping in a motorhome.  The rules have tightened to the point where an overzealous cop could charge someone sleeping in a vehicle with impaired.  I'd have to leave my ignition key with a friend, and even then who knows how Mall security would react.

That was then and this is now.   The voting rules have changed and the Association has morphed into a Commission.  Times have changed and everyone is prosperous (or at least the members who can afford to attend).  Forgotten are the times when beekeepers met cheaply in basement rooms with plywood stacking chairs and plywood tables.  Now we meet in four and five star hotels with white linen on the tables and cushioned chairs.

Next: How much commission money is wasted?

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Wednesday November 7th 2012
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Here is Grant again:  I'm pretty busy these days, and I have a choice: either respond now or deal with some of my own projects before the snow buries everything again and we go back into the deep freeze... 

I have to deal with my workload first.

Just thought I would keep you up to speed on the convention agenda.

Your comments about access to the ABC annual meeting are interesting, and off-track at some points. An uninformed reader unfamiliar with ABC proceedings but a reader of this site might think that there is a beekeeping community milling around the periphery of the meetings waiting to rush in to right the wrongs of the industry if the institution were not so heavily guarded!

I agree it might be perceived as you are implying, but I believe that you are making a point and ignoring the reasons behind why ABC business meetings are spread out over 3 days. It is a problem the American Beekeeping Federation faces, as detailed by President George Hansen, in his comments on Monday. With 1000 members, the ABF could hold their business sessions in a very small room, because the membership bolts for the door when the business session commences! The ABC scheduling came about because of the very same problem. When we left the entire AGM till the Wed. afternoon, it was often difficult to have a quorum. By breaking the business sessions into smaller blocks, attendance doesn't drift off.

Exclusion was never the rationale as you very well know, no sector of the beekeeping community should ever feel unwelcome. We have attendees from around the world at ABC who feel very comfortable in the sessions, and in socializing with Alberta beekeepers during the social hours.

In discussing cost, now there you have a live topic. The price of vehicles, groceries, fuel, power, air travel within Canada, and Hotel rooms, are all ridiculously high in this country, and yet we both have chosen to live here. Is there something wrong with us? I am all in favour of holding the meetings in your favourite economical, tropical locale! I believe it was the Canadian Canola Council that held there meetings in Mexico... once! Their producers didn't feel that the meeting was accessible to membership!!!

There are a couple of other foibles about the ABC meeting location that I am sure you will get to, and I am looking forward to the waste of funds you are implying in your teaser. Meetings truly do fall between a rock and a hard spot!!

Marion Ellis followed Lynae Vandervalk, a U of A. grad student and Dr. Shelley Hoover on the agenda, and communicated the feeling of the room in his opening comments. Dr. Ellis said that he would be retiring in June, and before he left Alberta he would be talking to these two dynamic young women to try to convince them to go to work for the University of Nebraska. And that was how the morning was. Very lively speakers with good practical research. We are indeed fortunate to have these women working in Alberta.

I missed the session on the update of the Economics of Beekeeping in Alberta. What I do know, that like the cost of attending these meetings, it costs way too much money to do business in Alberta, and to keep honeybees in Canada. On the other hand it is a wonderful place to live, right Allen.

Henry Graham's talk on feed and diet consumption, at various locales and elevational differences at one location, and between various diets, was the kind of information that beekeepers live for.

George Hansen was the final speaker for the day and spoke on Pollination in the Western U.S. and again had a full house. Beekeepers just love listening to other beekeepers and looking at their pictures. Beekeepers really are all passionate simpletons at heart.

The inevitable business session then followed, with the usual roundup of members to make quorum. David Tharle reported on his work on the Labour Committee this year. He has really stepped up in this position. He is also the chair of an umbrella group of ag. commodities that share similar labour issues, and that has led to federal involvement and the streamlining of the issue with the other commodities.

I am sure there are still a million miles to go with this, but I think Dave is the right driver, in an improving vehicle, to get the job done.

This was a busy day.  I didn't get much done outdoors as the wind was blowing at 20 KPH from the north, and chilly.  I did put on my snowsuit, though, and went out to try hooking up the trailer in hopes of making a trip to the dump.

As I expected, the wiring was a hang-up. The lights worked right-off, but not the brakes.  The truck is heavy enough and the trailer light enough that I don't need brakes, but brakes are required by law and I don't really want to have a chat with the county mountie.

After an hour or two of research and checking the wiring, I established that the adapter I had bought to save the bother of building one was cross-wired.  The 12V line and the brake controller output lines were interchanged.  Once I took it apart and exchanged the wires, the controller reported all was well.  By then it was after supper and the dump was closed until Saturday.

Saturday is like an eternity away.  In my life, looking ahead is difficult.  I do set some definite plans like air tickets for LA and for Sudbury -- I have to buy in advance and work around those dates -- but the weather and other unpredictable factors determine the feasibility of other activities like loading the trailer and beeyard cleanup.

I dealt with some other research during the day as well.  I'm working on a new heating system for our home and had to deal with the gas company as well as study the rules and the options in equipment.  The past few years have offered big changes in what is available and what is recommended.

I am also looking at boats in the Caribbean now.  I had been thinking that I should buy on the West Coast, but I lost out on one bid and, and on thinking it over, decided that winter is when I need another boat, and not in the north.  In summer, I have lots to do in Canada already without having a boat in British Columbia.

As for the ABC issues, I think Grant's letter illustrates how hard it is for those in the middle of the action to see things from the outside, and how easy it is to justify the status quo.   After all, there is not a whole lot wrong with it and the insiders are happy.  The outsiders are not visible.  It was ever thus, and I really don't care all that much anymore, at least not enough to say much more than a few words now and then. After all, I'm an insider and I'm OK.  I could spend time writing on that topic or write a letter to my Mom.  I've owed Mom a letter for a while now and so, the choice is made for me, I guess.  Maybe later.

I am sorry I missed some of the presentations and the chance to see my friends.  I would have liked to see Marion and his presentation.  He has excellent students who always make great presentations at the ABF conference, and I still recall visiting the Butterfly Museum with him, his wife, and Aaron at Niagara on the Lake a decade ago.  And, of course, I miss seeing all my friends.  The beekeeping community, in Alberta and across North America and even beyond, is like family to me.

Lynae is an up and comer and I'm sure she had some good things to show us. If she goes to work with Marion, that would be excellent.  As for Henry Graham's talk on feed and diet consumption, I missed seeing that on the agenda.  I might have gone just for that.  Hopefully, I can get a transcript of he has  a paper.

At any rate, I expect to be at some US meetings and the same material gets presented over and over.  I'd prefer to go to the AHPA in San Diego, since Sandy Yego is one of my favourite stomping grounds, but I fear I am going to find myself in Pennsylvania in early January.  Uggh.

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.
Groucho Marx

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Thursday November 8th 2012
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OK.  Very interesting!

I have been getting feedback and even a phone call today about my Alberta Beekeepers Commission comments.  It seems I am right, or at least not alone in my perceptions.  People have enquired about attending one day only, or just the business meeting, and been told definitely that they have to sign up for the whole meal deal -- or nothing.

So, it seems that the impression that I got when I looked into going up for just a day is correct.  Sure, I could have wrangled it, but I know everyone -- and they know me. 

Maybe they might have let me in and not have even charged me for the day, BUT I have it on good authority that when at least one other person asked, that the option was not offered.  Someone else thought it a real enough problem to phone me about it today and cheer me on.  People are talking about being excluded, and were doing so before I mentioned it.  Some are even threatening to ask for their dues back, which they can. 

Some do ask for their money back, but such requests are paid and then hushed up.  Confidentiality, is the excuse, but no one in the ABC inner circle wants to start a rush for the exits.  There is no requirement that I know of for confidentiality and the possibility of publishing the names was considered, but considered a bad idea.

I recall having complained about favoured status for the inner group before, after I left the board of the ABA, and  being told by the president at the time that I was imagining things.  After he left office and left the board, he approached me at a meeting and said to me, "You were right.  I had no way of knowing at the time, but you were right".

The insiders are so coddled and catered to that they have no clue how the outsider feels -- until they become outsiders.

The same problem occurs at AHPC and I have been on them about it here before.  They have even kicked out former chairmen and fought publicly with others.  I had to beg publicly, in the annual meeting, to get Eric Abel reinstated as a member 

There was nobody around to beg for me after AHPC screwed me over.  I assume they are still doing this routinely to members who exercise their rights in away the current inner circle doesn't like.

Don't get me wrong.  All these people are my friends and I doubt any of them has bad intentions.  This is just what happens when people get into an inner circle and know the ropes.  They just naturally assume everyone can see what they see and are treated the same as they are by the staff and suppliers.  They are not.  Not nearly.

Oh, and I can tell tales about The CFIA -- Canadian Food Infection Agency -- (damn spellchecker)  and how they suck up to the powerful and connected and to those who schmooze them and can be petty and tyrannical towards outsiders. 

In the years I was on the ABA board and meeting with their top honey staff, I could do not wrong.  They were angels and very casual when they came by.  It was like a social visit (except my friends don't lick my boots)

When  I left the ABA board, suddenly they were like Nazis and a visit from them was like a police raid, even if they never found nothing untoward.  They would park in the middle of the busy driveway, blocking traffic, and rush in like they were going to catch us doing something awful.  Then they would go on and on about a flake of paint or a little spot of rust on drums.   The drums were provided by AHPC for their honey and AHPC's responsibility, not mine. I had to go elsewhere when they came by, and have my wife to talk to them so nobody got killed or maimed. Jerks. 

I'm not surprised CFIA totally missed the Brooks plant fiasco and it took the US border inspection (if US food inspection can find it, it must be really bad) to discover an ongoing problem that was then proven to have already made a score of people very sick -- after it came to light -- and probably hundreds more that went unreported.

I can't understand why the media gave that corrupt and ineffectual agency a free ride.  They were responsible for that plant and they totally flubbed it.

Gee.  It might seem that i'm really down on everything today, Eh?

Not really.  I am very grateful for all the good people working hard to make a better world and I don't see many who are not. 

I can see lots of room for improvement though, and can't help putting in my 2¢ worth.

I hope that some constructive criticism helps.

We have an inch or so of new snow this morning, and temperatures of minus 6 degrees Celsius.  We're back into the deepfreeze for a few days, with maybe six inches of snow predicted.  I also see minus 26 coming up in the coming days.  Minus twenty-six is 15 below in Fahrenheit, and fifteen below is cold.  Normals are: Maximum: 3°C and Minimum: -8°C.

This morning, I'm glad I'm not on Compass Rose X in New jersey or wherever Frank found refuge, as another storm has hit.  The area is already a disaster.

He is expecting to wait it out and leave for Bermuda Saturday, about four days late, but my instincts warned me about the Atlantic at this time of year and I'm glad I heeded the warning.

Today, I have to be in Three Hills at nine to have the muffler on the truck changed.  Matt put a four-inch exhaust on this truck with a non-restrictive muffler and the exhaust is pretty loud.  I don't need the extra power, assuming that the noisy muffler adds power, so I ordered something quieter -- I hope.  The Power Stroke turbo diesel is loud under the hood, too, but I don't find the diesel noise as tiring as the exhaust note.  I also don't like to be offensive in the city with a loud exhaust.

So, I have to unhook the trailer and I'll get to see how the engine starts at minus seven.

I should check the glow plugs.  I suspect that one or two must be bad, but even if I discover this to be true, I am not too inclined to change them.  That job involves pulling some various lines and ducts and then removing the valve covers.  Removing the bad glow plugs can potentially be a problem since reportedly some aftermarket GPs can mushroom and be difficult or impossible to pull back up the hole.

I'm more inclined to just plug the block heater in in cold weather and live with a bad glow plug or two.  I bought this truck to drive, not to fix.  I already have a list of minor things to fix, including burned-out dash lights, a non-working lumbar adjustment and an intermittent front speaker.

--- Wow.....the question everyone wants to know....as beekeepers don't share near as much as you. Are you living, with WOW vacations, and trucks, trailers, boats.....solely from the income you made beekeeping as described in your diary?

Hard to say.  I did some other things, too, and still get a bit of consulting income, plus an old age stipend from our generous government.  I actually live pretty cheap and have not really dug into our savings in almost ten years of retirement.  We own our own home and our taxes are low out here in the boonies.  Utilities are affordable and I am frugal. 

Our newest vehicle is a 2002 grand Caravan I picked up for $3,500 almost two years ago and which has cost me almost nothing over the 15,000 miles I've driven it.  I expect it will do just as well in the coming year if I don't tire of it.

We have free medical care and drugs here in Canada, to a certain extent, and so even my wife's illness has not been too expensive for us.  Even though the monthly cost is over $5,000, we only pay a hundred or so for miscellaneous drugs and a tiny co-pay.

 If I or others were as smart, could they, in today's world, be successful as you?

Probably more so.  Most people I know are smarter than me.  My commercial beekeeper friends all have money to burn and time off to enjoy it.

--- In my failure department......I fed and fed the bees. (Feeding seems to work for you.) I ended up with 1/3 of the hives having out of control hive beetles, the bees leaving some, and a mess. Once the beetles have taken over, it is a lost hive. --- Do the professions have major failures and lose their bees?

Ask Dave Hackenberg.  He has taken a few hard lumps, as have most of the other big commercials in the US.  What distinguishes the winners is not how badly or how often they get knocked down, but how fast they can get back up.  Having friends helps, but even a few real curmudgeons seem to take a licking and keep in  ticking.

And after a professional loses all their bees, how do they get the capital to start again with enough to earn a living?

I've wondered the same. Splitting the survivors is one, and having a good banker and good agriculture program in your country/province/state helps. Having friends helps, too.  I've heard of friends helping friends to restock dead hives and even lend equipment.  Sometimes package producers will give credit to people with good reputations.  Commercial beekeepers all know they need one another and even 'enemies' often co-operate.

--- Northern Lights. I have never seen the Northern Lights. No one that I know has seen the Northern Lights. I have been looking at Sun weather and Northern Michigan weather for a chance to see the lights. You love the outdoors and live where, in theory, you have great nights of stars and planets. Are the Northern Lights as good as the pictures?

Sometimes, if we have a good strong solar storm, but we get used to them and forget to look up.  We usually don't get much colour here, even when we get a full spread, but sometimes we do. 

Are they worth driving 10 hours for a 1/20 chance to see? Do you have recommendations you wish to share? (I send a jar of my honey to others who help me...but what can one send a person such as yourself?) --- as always....even if you don't respond, I will continue to have great respect towards you.

Thanks.  Yes, they are worth seeing, but I'd fly north, not drive.  You'll get farther and see more.  The farther north you go, the stronger they are.

I think the lights are somewhat predictable since solar flares are visible immediately -- at the speed of light -- but the gasses take time to get here. 

Google should know.

The truck started beautifully and I was off to Three Hills.  I arrived at the tire shop early, but it seemed that they were snowed under, so to speak.  I went an bought groceries and went back, but they were still busy.

They said they would do the muffler, and be done in a hour, but I know how long an hour can be at the tire shop and decided to go back later.  I'm thinking I need better tires, too.  They say they are fine but that is what I was told about the tires on  my Merc when I asked them to check them a month before I had a brush with a guard rail.  I knew they were too bald.  No matter what the law says, tires that are under 50% are not worth using if you can afford better.  It is cheaper to buy tires than fenders.

The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating,
and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.
Bertrand Russell

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Friday November 9th 2012
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I let the dog out first thing and she was surprised to find herself in 8 inches of fresh, fluffy snow.  There is more coming, too.

Ellen had an appointment for a flu shot in Three Hills and I had a package to pick up, so we went to town.   We took the Toyota van because it has good snow tires. Travel was not advised, but the roads were fine.  Snow-packed, but fine.  I found the truck slid a bit last time I went out and although it is a 4X4, I figured the van would be a better choice for the day.  The truck tires are quite smooth and I am thinking of replacing them.

I sold more bees today.  One fellow will be taking delivery of two overwintering hives next month.  Otherwise, I didn't really get much done. Where did the week go?

I hear that the ABC convention was not as well attended this year as previous years.  Time to do some deep thinking and to consult members.   There are only a few in the organisation who are really keen on listening to all the various opinions and making sure everyone is served.

Grant is one of those who goes out of his way to listen to people, discuss their concerns and accommodate them if feasible, so it is ironic to find him defending the status quo so automatically.  Grant was instrumental in ensuring that there was almost zero opposition to the transformation of the ABA into a Commission whereas the previous attempts to do so had resulted in a rebellion and 'civil war'.  I think things have changed since he last took a good look, and it is hard to see out from inside.

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
Will Rogers

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