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A panorama shot of the driveway at 1207

Sunday January 20th 2013
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Today is cold, at minus twenty, and dull with a light snow falling.  I'm beginning a cleanup and tidy project.  Kiting will not be pleasant, even if there is enough wind and I doubt I'll go out.  Tomorrow promises to be milder.

The day continued cold and I spent the entire day cleaning up and throwing things out.  I've never been good at discarding things since I can always see something good about old items as long as they work and when they don't, scrap value or parts potential.  I have lots of room, so things pile up indoors and out.  The storage is not all that unsightly most of the time, but every so often, I have to reorganize things and make sense of the storage . 

Usually, they are not in the way, but I decided recently that it is time to discard.  Things being as they are, I won't ever be using things I thought I might need, and I should pass them on or take them to the dump.  My dump trip in December was the beginning of what may be many. 

I have had difficulty deciding what to do with old computers due to the fact there is data on some drives that I would not want going to Nigeria or wherever they scrap those things -- or mine them for bank info, etc., and so have quite a collection of electronics.

Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government.
I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.
Sir Bernard Ingham

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Monday January 21st 2013
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Blue Monday

We have now had one month of winter and the days are beginning to get longer.  The change is slow near the solstice and accelerates as the spring equinox approaches.  We have another month of cold weather, but can expect the cold spells to be less severe and the warm spells to be milder as the days pass. Here is a our climate chart. (right)

The temperatures came up to minus fifteen during the day, warm enough to fly a kite, but the wind never did build up to where flying kites looked promising.

Although my cold has receded and I'm not congested any more, I'm quite tired today.  We thought of going to town to do some shopping, but I had a nap instead, did some vacuuming and made a shepherd's pie.  After supper, I watched "Deadline" and "The Hour" on Netflix.  I notice that we have lost two of the four over-the-air broadcast stations I was getting only a few days ago.  Are they gone, or have I jiggered some setting?  Don't know.

Windows 8 consumer preview has timed out and I got an email exhorting me to buy the final release, but I am at a quandary.  Win 8 may be a good O/S, but the preview does not perform well on the computer I installed it on and I cannot revert to Win 7.  On the other computer on which I installed a paid version, Win 8 does not run at all well, has errors and regularly shows the new style blue screen.  So far, in spite of many good aspects, for me, Win 8 has turned out to be the most troublesome Windows release I can recall since back in the Window 3 era.  I had not trouble with Millennium and I quite like Vista.  In fact, we still have a trouble-free machine running Vista.

I really have no use for the Win 8 tiles and "apps" and am not happy that they run in the background, consuming data and resources whether I want them to or not.  I suppose there are ways of defeating them, but I really do not have the time or inclination to work for hours to make it function in a useful manner.  I installed Classic Shell, and that restores the start button, etc, but is not as good as that built-in function in Win 7, Vista, XP, etc...

Whatever was Microsoft thinking by foisting this unwelcome user interface on its loyal customer base?

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 January 22nd 2013
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We are beginning a warming trend that promises to bring us back to the seasonal normals.

I've now been home from the BVIs for over a week and am pretty well over the trip and the cold that followed.  I'm still trying to decide what I think of the experience.  The long flights definitely detract from the overall experience since I spent two days out of the nine or 22% of the days on planes or in airports.  Moreover, I was already feeling a bit ill on the return flight.

As for the time there, it was pleasant enough, but we did not get out to Anegada due to weather.  The moorages were crowded and we were somewhat confined to the boat due to having to raise and lower the dinghy from the davits, and manhandle the heavy motor each time.  The snorkeling was good, but I did find the currents challenging and, being out of shape and out of practice, had several uncomfortable and even dangerous experiences.  I've spent may hours and days swimming in huge waves on raging rivers and oceans while windsurfing, but never felt as threatened as I did swimming in at the Baths.

Would I return?  In many ways, I like Florida better as there are many more destinations, and, of course I have a good boat on the West Coast.  Winter sailing in the Northwest can be excellent with a well-equipped boat.

Yesterday, I brought the Toyota van into the heated shop and it should have dried off by now. Assuming I feel motivated, I'll do the front brakes today.  Maybe I'll go to town, too.

I did the brakes and started on the flex pipe on the muffler.  This part is going to be a kluge.  The proper pipe costs $1500 and requires undoing connections to the manifolds.  On a 1998 van with 300 Km, I don't want to take a chance that the studs shear off or strip.  I'll cut out the bad part and patch something in.  I have flex pipe, but it is 2-1/2 and I need 2-1/4".

ABJ Extra-News January18, 2013
American Bee Research Conference Proceedings

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.
Wernher Von Braun

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Wednesday January 23rd 2013
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We have enough wind to fly a kite this morning, but it is still dark and cold.  I think I'll go to town today.  I need a piece of exhaust pipe for the van.

BTW, when kiting out in the field the other day, hundreds of yards from my largest yard, I saw a few dead bees in the snow.  This is normal, but I should look at my hives when we have a warm day. 

I am planning on selling down to fifteen or twenty hives or so, then I'll build back up.  Ninety spring hives is too many for my schedule.  By fall, I'd either have 18,000 lbs of honey to extract or 270 hives to winter and sell.   Even what I have has turned out to be is becoming work and I don't want work.  This many hives also keeps me home and I have places to go.

I do have customers enquiring now and have sold a few wintering hives, but prospective buyers want to know now what I can offer in spring.  There is really no way to predict spring colony counts with certainty.  I tell them to buy now and what they see is what they get.   I don't mind selling off some hives, including ones that might make three splits if I kept them.  I have too much work and that makes the load lighter.  If someone wants to take them off my hands and get that possible bonus -- or possible loss, that suits me fine.

Winter loss varies from year to year, and this has been a much colder winter than usual.  Moreover, many colonies did not look as strong as I would have wished going in.  Nonetheless, they could do just fine.

 After lunch, it was still minus fourteen with no sun and winds blowing a steady 15 MPH so I went out and flew the 3.5 metre2 kite for fifteen minutes, then got a phone call and went in.  I would not have lasted out there much longer with the gloves I had on.  I was warm otherwise in my full-body snowsuit, parka and snow boots.

I drive down the property to a clear spot to launch the kite and am finding that we have enough snow that the 4X4 gets stuck.  These tires are highway tires and their lack of grip in mud and snow is annoying.  I could put on chains, I suppose or just buy tires with more traction.  I don't want noisy tires, though.  I recently spent $235 to install a resonator in the exhaust to cut down on exhaust noise.

Matt chipped this turbo diesel truck and put on a free-flow 4" exhaust system.  I'm told it puts out 500 HP.  I don't know about that, but when passing slow traffic, I'm out and gone instantly. 

I still remember my second car, a little 1960 Vauxhall.  To pass with that car, I had to take a run at it.  I'd anticipate a passing opportunity, drop back a few hundred yards, gain speed behind the car I intended to pass, then pull out to pass if the other lane was still clear.  If oncoming traffic appeared, I'd have to abort and repeat the procedure.  If I just pulled out and tried to pass, that car had so little power  that I'd be in the left lane a long time.  Moreover, many drivers unconsciously -- or intentionally -- accelerate when  another car is beside them, meaning I could not complete the pass.

I drove to Airdrie mid-afternoon and bought groceries.  I had intended to do more shopping and maybe buy tires, but due to the strong winds and minus fifteen temperatures, I decided the groceries could freeze if left in the truck, so I drove home again. 

The truck exhaust is much quieter, making driving much more pleasant.

You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.
Ayn Rand

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Thursday January 24th 2013
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I have choices today.  I could go to the Calgary RV Show, do some shopping, clear off the driveway, catch up on deskwork, or make a doctor's appointment to see about an acid reflux problem that began after returning from spending Thanksgiving in California and has not gotten better.  I wonder if I picked up a stomach bacterial infection there since the problem began immediately after returning.

A major purpose of my trip yesterday was to get a piece of exhaust pipe to patch the flex joint in the Toyota exhaust, and I came up empty.  The Canadian Tire in Airdrie does not stock the full line of product some of the larger stores carry, so the van is still up on blocks in my basement shop, waiting for the part.

I'm past the point of no return on that job.  I wrecked what is left of the original leaking joint so I could examine replacement options and now must replace it.  We were driving with the exhaust leak, but the noise was getting worse and this job had to be done.

The van is a 1998 model, with 285,000 km on the clock, but it is in perfect condition other than this problem and a little rust on the hood.  I can fix both.  We have thought of replacing the van, but why do that when it only needs minor work?  Even if we did get another vehicle, I'd fix this one before passing it on.

Here is an interesting video about the fish we consume from Viet Nam. At the same time as I find it a fascinating illustration of human ingenuity and enterprise, it gives us reason for concern.

El and I went to town so she could get some blood tests done and so I could see the doctor. He agreed with my suggestion that the sudden onset of acid stomach might be bacterial, so Monday I go in for a breath test for H. pylori.

We bought some more groceries for tomorrow night's supper.  We are expecting a group of friends.

I did finally go out and blow snow off the drive just a sunset.  We are expecting friends and also the mail carrier is driving a car these days while her truck is being fixed.  I had saved this job for a local kid, but he is not answering his phone or showing up.

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
Galileo Galilei

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Friday January 25th 2013
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Normals: Max: -5°C  Min: -16°C

Temperatures went well above the forecast numbers yesterday and above the seasonal normals.  One month has now passed since Christmas and the days are finally getting a bit longer.

Today I have to do some cleaning and arranging in preparation for tonight's supper and maybe I'll take a peek at some hives to see how they are doing.

I have customers wanting to buy nucs, but I find it hard to commit so early.  I also prefer to sell complete hives.  Making nucs is hard on the hives and a lot of extra work.  The way things are going, it looks as if hives will sell quickly. 

I prefer to sell in winter as it is less work for me and if the buyer is happy to accept the small risk of colony death between now and summer, he or she gets a good deal compared to waiting.  At this point, I'm remembering how the bees tied me down last year.  In future, I think I'll not paint boxes, and buy only one-piece foundation for frames.

I spent the day cooking, baking and getting ready for supper guests.  Ellen is coming down with a cold and spent much of the day in bed. 

I had been give two big packages of strawberries at the grocery store for buying over $150, so I had to figure out what to do with them. I hadn't done any baking for quite a while, so figured to do something creative.  I did not figure, though, on how much time it takes to cut up two quarts of strawberries and make a glaze.  Fortunately, I had bought the crusts or the job would have run over two hours.

I cut the berries up and made two strawberry pies and then made a lemon cake to boot.  We had bought a huge beef roast, so that had to go into the oven early, and I mashed some potatoes to go with it.   Broccoli and salad made up the rest of the meal.

Joe and Carolyn and the Mayes all have the flu or are in the process of coming down with it, so did not come.  Ellen spent the day in bed but was up for the party.

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.
Martin Luther King Jr.

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Saturday January 26th 2013
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Supper went well last night and this morning I'm doing cleanup.

I also need to take look at the brakes on the red van since the brake light has been coming on.  The brakes seem to work OK, and the fluid is up, so I'm thinking it might just be an imbalance in the system.  Nonetheless, I should check it out since we are planning to run down to Fernie next week.

The furnace burner looks as if it needs cleaning, so that is on the list.

> top supering too early can be harmful to bees, so early in the
> spring if they need more room it may be best to add it on the
> bottom'. Harmful how...presumably because hive heat will rise into
> the added space and thus away from the brood? Sounds suspicious to
> me...

I changed the subject line from "Bottom Supering" because I am only referring briefly to supering. Supering is a separate topic.

I am talking about adding additional space in the early spring when a colony is stimulated by an unseasonable early flow, previous to settled weather and previous to the proper time for supering -- and before splitting.

Just to be totally clear, the term, "supering" in my experience refers to adding _honey boxes_ above the brood chamber(s). Honey boxes are often called, "supers", but most pros I know refer to brood chambers as "brood chambers" or "broods" or "seconds", and never as supers, although when not on the hive, the terminology tends to be less precise and any box, with or without frames" is often referred to casually as a "super".

Adding a brood chamber either above or below, is generally described as "adding a brood chamber", not "supering".

"Bottom supering", moreover refers to the practice of putting additional supers under any supers currently on the hive and above the brood chambers, and is used where the existing supers are full and capped and it is believed that the bees might not go above the current stack and into the new box(es). Bottom supering is also a common practice in comb honey production and where we want the bees to start drawing an entire box of foundation.

Knowing the difference between supers and brood chambers is particularly important these days when the brood combs may be exposed to chemicals we don't want near our honey crop.

So, that clarified, back to the topic of how best to add additional brood space when and early flow or leftover winter feed threatens to plug a developing spring colony and reduce brood rearing or induce early swarming.

Here is what I actually said previously.

--- begin quote ---

Adding supers too early can present complications.

I'd recommend placing any extra brood boxes you have under the hives. This allows more room for brood and if the queen goes down, makes splitting later easier. If the weather gets cold again, or they do not need the space, no harm is done.

Even adding a box with no frames below can be helpful. If they draw some comb down there, you can cut it off later, but in the meantime they have space.

Later, when you are ready to produce honey, you can just insert an excluder to separate any extra bottom boxes from the rest of the hive and remove them, or just remove them on a cool morning if they are not used by the colony.

--- end Quote ---

I mentioned the harm that can come from adding supers too early if the timing proves to be unlucky. This point seems incredibly obvious to me, but I will try to spell it out.

No intelligent beekeeper would rip the lid off a hive and leave the hive without the lid, but many, apparently, would remove an insulated lid and plop cold supers onto a developing spring colony that until that moment was nestled up against the warm lid, while extreme cold weather is still a possibility and the nights are cold.

There is not much difference IMO, except that in the second instance, there is a lid to deflect precipitation. If the weather stays settled for a week or so, probably no harm is done and the bees can adapt their nest, but if a cold snap hits, especially with winds, harm -- visible or not, immediate or deferred -- is bound to occur.

People often think that supering is the only possible response to a flow that comes too early, but early supering can be harmful. It all depends on your area, your locations, the climate, the strength of the colonies, the type of bee, and your management style -- and do you feel lucky?

Bees manage their resources to suit the space in which they find themselves. Changing the volume and cluster position in that space suddenly can stress colonies seriously, especially if done at a time when the bees are no longer in winter cluster and are committed to managing the maximum brood they are able to produce in that original spacial configuration -- and at a time of year when the weather can suddenly turn seriously cold.

While wintering, the cluster may be found anywhere in the hive. Wherever they may be clustered, they are adapted to that position and will not have a great deal of brood. If they are down in the hive, they use their resources in a manner appropriate to that situation. If they are up against an insulated lid, they will use their resources differently and make use of the warmth reflected back to spread out in a hemispherical cluster.

If the cluster is up against an insulted lid, that lid acts as a heat mirror and due to heat conservation, allows the cluster to be a hemisphere, not a sphere and the bees can cover roughly twice the comb the same colony could cover if clustered further down in the hive. If they have sufficient food, and been stimulated by an early flow, the colony will be fully extended in this configuration.

At a time of year when colonies are forced to cluster daily or occasionally, removing that lid and placing a new box on top will remove the heat mirror and suddenly require the colony to generate twice the heat to continue to cover the combs they are on and force the bees to change the shape of their cluster. If the weather continues warm, no damage will be done or the damage will be minimal, but if a cold snap happens to coincide with this action, serious stress results, with chilled brood and stress on adult bees.

(This a reason that reversing is not advised until the hives are strong and the chance of cold weather is past. Reversing similarly makes it difficult for the bees to cover all their brood if the weather turns on them.)

Placing an extra brood box or even a completely empty box below will not stress the colony, but will allow extra expansion room.

If the box placed under is a brood box, the combs will benefit from being occupied and freshened up by the bees and Will come in very handy at splitting time, which, obviously is still in the future, as is the proper time for supering, usually after splitting.

Pulling feed frames and replacing with empty comb and perhaps foundation against the hive walls is another alternative that is not likely to shock the colony and which will relieve the congestion.

Although many add the second brood chamber above the single in spring when using package bees, I have found it wise to place the new box under. Prolific queens will go down when they need the space and I see better results. Again, here is a case where the bees are accustomed to having the warmth reflected from the insulated lid and it is a virtual part of their cluster.

Removing that warm lid and replacing it with a new brood box would be no problem on a hot day and if the nights are warm, but if not, adding that box actually sets them back and stresses them, possibly causing chilled brood and adult bee illnesses.

The furnace is done.  Every so often I have to clean the burner.  The job takes an hour and is quite dirty, but I did it.

Why am I still burning coal?  I called some gas people, but they are pretty busy and our big old schoolhouse intimidates them.  The younger guys have never seen a stoker and marvel at a coal furnace that works just like gas.  They are afraid of it.  (The main difference is that the fuel arrives in a truck and the ashes are heavier than the ashes from gas (joke)). 

I'll get gas in here, but with natural gas I have to hire tradesmen, satisfy inspectors -- and am limited in the work I am allowed to do myself.  I might just put in  a propane furnace.  I can do that without any hassle.  All we need is backup for when we have a breakdown or go away for a while.

The sun is higher in the sky these days and the days are longer.  The seasons are turning and the worst of winter is past.  We will have bitter cold, killer winds, and drifting snow, before spring is here to stay, but the bright sun promises spring eventually.

> When preparing doubles for almonds in late winter, the temptation is
> to reverse the brood chambers of colonies that have moved into the
> upper chamber, since the cluster would often quickly expand upward.
> But ever since we discussed this subject previously, I've questioned
> whether that was a good idea after all.

If your timing is perfect or you are lucky, reversing or adding on top works.

However, we used semi-skilled labour to do large numbers of colonies. We work weekdays and can't time things perfectly. We also find the forecasts can be very wrong.

> Since then I've often just removed the lower brood chamber if the
> cluster is not large, in order to allow the bees better access to the
> entrance (to add a chamber back at a later date).

That helps if you don't use upper entrances. Even with upper entrances, the reduced volume can be a good thing.

> Could you please expand upon what you actually observed when
> adding the second brood chambers above or below when you
> were building package colonies?

Well, by adding below, we could add at our convenience and not wait until colonies were getting crowded, and we could do the whole yards in sequence with no exceptions. If we were a bit early, no harm.

Later, when we worked the colonies, we could reverse or spread brood in the individual colonies as required.

Sometimes the weather surprises, and if we were early, we would sometimes go back and find we weren't. The bees went down and if we had used our judgment, the bees might have been crowded on a hot day and gone to swarming. This way, not.

My advice is for a commercial beekeeper who may not see the hives every day or even every week and needs a plan that does the most good and the least harm, on a schedule, and for the lowest cost.

I quote Nietzsche below, but I don't know how people read enough of his work to dig out the great quotes, and there are many.  I started reading, but quit after a few pages.  I found him to be a crashing bore.

There are no facts, only interpretations.
Friedrich Nietzsche

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Sunday January 27th 2013
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> When preparing doubles for almonds in late winter, the temptation is
>  to reverse the brood chambers of colonies that have moved into the
> upper chamber, since the cluster would often quickly expand upward.
> But ever since we discussed this subject previously, I've questioned
> whether that was a good idea after all.

The key to understanding why I put the box on the bottom is our weather. Southern Alberta temperatures can range from +30 to -10 in May, often within a day or two, and mid-May is when (+/-) we put the seconds on packages. In addition, we may have 100 KPH winds at that time and often there is little shelter on the prairie.
See http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/images/2009/Trochu%20Temperature%20Chart.jpg 

Southern Alberta is a harsh climate for bees. Some years are benign, but other years, If we have two similar yards of overwintering bees and we unwrap one at the beginning of April, and leave the other wrapped until May, we may find that the unwrapped yard is 80% dead or dwindling and the wrapped yard is 80% alive, with some thinking of swarming by mid-May.

We have no way to know for sure what is coming even a few days in the future.

In other areas or times of year in Alberta where the climate may not be as variable or where the yards are more sheltered, less conservative approaches like adding boxes on top, reversing, or raising brood or opening up the brood chamber by inserting empty comb or foundation can be good practice. In fact, I do these things myself in specific circumstances, although I may have often put the new box on the bottom a week or two previously to get accepted and conditioned by the bees if they have a warm spell.

Again, there is also a difference between types of bees. Some may need some encouragement to expand the brood nest, but others, like Italians, may already be pushing that envelope and be harmed by further expansion or removal of the heat conservation of an insulated lid adjacent to the cluster.

These things are a matter of judgment and weather expectations, and involve a calculated risk of being wrong early in the season in our area. Later on, in June, with stronger colonies and younger bees, we can be much less conservative. My aim is to risk no harm to my developing colonies and I am conservative compared to some neighbours.

As some say, all beekeeping is local and what I do may not be optimal for others in other areas with different conditions, goals and practices

Patrick called the other night and wanted to know if I am up for a snowkiting lesson today.  I said, "Yes", but that I figure I need more time with the kites before donning skis.  He said no worries, that we could get that part of the lesson done today.  I'm waiting to hear from him whether there will be wind at Weed Lake.  Things do not look promising. (Right)

I also have to get ready today to drive to Fernie tomorrow.

Patrick wrote me and said the kiting is called off.  No wind.  Just as well.  I pulled the red van into the shop and will clean it out and look it over in preparation for tomorrow's trip.

> hi allen

>enjoy reading your diary, just reading your information on
> early supering, just wondering if temperature would be the main factor
> when working hives.

> Many articles talk about spring and fall seasons but
> with the varied climate in our country I wish people would add "with
> temperatures in the...." . This would help newer bee keepers like
> myself. In Nova Scotia we have a milder, damp spring that lasts for
> months, our falls are long as well but much nicer than spring. this
> winter has been a roller coaster -18 today and calling for plus 6 and
> rain in two days. wonder how the bees do it.

Hi,

Exactly.

In fact it is not the temperatures when actually working the bees, but the temperatures that may occur that night or in the following days before the bees adapt to the manipulations.

If the bees are manipulated late on a warm day and the night turns out to be frosty and windy, imagine the harm that can be done.

I've been doing a lot of research on various topics and leave a lot of tabs open while I decide what to bookmark or copy and what to discard.  So, I had a lot of windows open on my two main computers and got to work closing them.  

I have been noticing that the older computer was running slow and that the fan was running a lot, so I downloaded Core Temp and checked the processor temperatures.  Sure enough they were near the critical level, so I found my can of compressed air and gave a blast in through the various air vents.  I was amazed at what came out.  I had blown out the other computer, which I carry on trips, but neglected this one since it never leaves the desk.

If you download Core Temp, look for an older version.  The latest one is loaded with crapware.  I declined all the crapware and ran the install, but it seems the core program did not install, so I went to an earlier version, which works just fine.  I only had to refuse one crapware toolbar while installing it.

After blowing out the dust, the computer fan no longer runs constantly and the computer is a lot faster.

This the machine I converted to Windows 8.  Even after weeks of being 'on' night and day, it seems the indexer is still running.  It is using 40% of the processor and running constantly.  Maybe the heat was limiting it previously?  At any rate, it is hogging the power.  I started a local backup and maybe that is what is using the resources.  I am unable to see backup running in the action center, but suspect it is.

Converting from Win 7 to Win 8 was less than a huge success so far.  I don't recommend Win 8 so far.  Maybe Win 8 will improve as it is more widely adopted, but the crippling of the desktop was major mistake IMO.  Installing Classic Shell compensates by restoring a Win 7 look, but it is an add-on and still under development.  Why Microsoft offended users by removing vital features is a mystery to me.

We are all atheists about most of the gods humanity has ever believed in.
Some of us just go one god further.
Richard Dawkins

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Monday January 28th 2013
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Today we are off to Fernie for a day or two.  Ellen and a friend want to go to her ski chalet to decide on a stained glass project and they need a driver.  They figure I can get in some skiing or snowboarding while there, since we are going to be staying in the friend's hillside chalet and Fernie has a fabulous ski hill.  

Fernie is also known for having plenty of snow -- or rain.  Right now, it looks like snow, but the temperatures may be a bit chilly.

We drove south, leaving Calgary at 10 and were in Fernie by 3:30.  Along the way, we stopped at Popiels's restaurant in Coleman for a late, relaxed lunch.

We arrived at the chalet and managed to park in the steep driveway.  It was so slick that I had to apply the parking brake and chock the back wheels to keep from sliding back down.  There was deep fresh snow on the ground and light rain (Scottish Mist) coming down.

I had phoned Mom earlier as I drove down and heard that Linda was not doing at all well, so called Sid for details.  He said that the doctor will be over at 3 this afternoon, so we should know more then.

Flo, El, and I had a pleasant supper at in the chalet,  It is quite a monster, built of logs, with no expense spared.  Flo's grandson, Garth came by for supper.  He is working as a student at the coal mines nearby at Sparwood.

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Tuesday January 29th 2013
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We're staying at Flo's family's hillside ski chalet in Fernie.  The snow is deep and fluffy and the temperatures are right around freezing, but I'm worrying about The Old Schoolhouse.  According to reports the weather in Swalwell is nasty.  I left lots of coal on the furnace auger, but if something happens and/or the power goes off, the place is only hours from freezing up.

I still remember when Aaron and I were in Florida and his furnace failed to start.  A friend who was supposed to check the house was unable to get over to check on the house due to a snow storm.  His house froze up and the damage was extensive as he had hot water heating and pipes everywhere.  We have forced air, and only a relatively few pipes, but just the same, a freeze-up would be a huge problem.  Even if the pipes did not burst, we have quite a collection of house pants we really like.

I called Sudbury this morning and learned that my sister has only days to live at most, so we'll cut this visit short and return home later today.  Tomorrow, I fly out of Calgary at 9 and should be in Sudbury by 5:30.  We won't leave here until after lunch, though, as the road reports warn of cold winds, blowing snow and poor visibility until mid-afternoon.

I checked the temperatures in Fernie this morning on the web and found that it is minus twelve.  My cut-off is minus ten for pleasant skiing and even though the chalet is hillside and designed for ski-in and ski-out, I don't know if I can find my way back to this chalet from the hills in the short time we have before we plan to leave at one, so I decided not to snowboard today.  Maybe another time.  I guess I'm a bit worried, too, and think being conservative today is a good idea.

With the colder temperature this morning, the snow is less slippery and I managed to get the van up the hill into the heated garage, so it should be thawed out by the time we leave.

We drove home, stopping in Longview for coffee.   The house was nice and warm.  I unloaded the van, since I have to leave here in the dark and cold before 7 AM tomorrow.  I had bags, skis, poles, boots, snowboards, etc. in the back and found it so bitterly cold out that I had to stay in the house a few moments between loads to warm up.

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Wednesday January 30th 2013
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I'm up at 5 and packing for my flight.

(Later) It's 3:29 PM in Toronto, and as it happens, that is where I am, waiting for flight 7813 to Sudbury.  I have an hour and a half layover. 

I hear the roads have been glare ice in Sudbury all day and the highways have been closed all day, so I'm hoping I can get a cab into town.  I'm betting I can.

I did arrive in Sudbury, right on time and Bill picked me up at the airport.  The roads were fine, contrary to what I heard from everyone who listened to the radio and TV rather than going out to see.

The media always exaggerate everything they don't ignore.  We have to remember that the media are entertainment first and information is (almost) always bent to provide maximum thrills.  Add salt.

I write articles for magazines sometimes and when I look at the material in the mags, it is obvious that there are perennial subjects that are covered over and over.

Everything has already been covered many times, so novelty and controversy are sought to sell the publication. 

Publishing is all about buying paper at 1 cent a pound and selling it for a dollar a pound. 

Always doubt anything you read.  TV and radio are no better.


The artist is nothing without the gift,
but the gift is nothing without work.
Emile Zola

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Thursday January 31st 2013
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I had a very good night's sleep and will be seeing Linda and family this morning.

I went over and spent a few minutes with my sister, who is now in a coma, then visited with the family.  The girls are home for the duration and it is just a matter of time now.  Our brother flies in Saturday night.

I visited Linda mid-morning and she was gone by noon.  We got the call just as we were going out the door for lunch, and decided to eat in instead.

Mom and I spent the afternoon at 1207, napping, reading, and I did get out onto the Lake for a 40-minute kite session (Yes, I brought a kite).  The Lake has 8" of snow on it and the bottom 2" is slush from the recent warm weather and the wind was gusty.  Nonetheless, I had a good session.  I'm getting fairly good at keeping the kite flying and under control.

Flying a power kite is tricky.  If the wind gusts, the kite can go from falling out of the sky to pulling me onto my face in a matter of seconds.  With practice, one can learn to power and depower the kite and to move it around in the "wind window" so that it is either full of wind or idling, and the "walk" it down the edge of the window and sit it on one wing.

Linda's passing was not at all unexpected, but it does leave a hole in all our lives.  The full impact is still in the future.

Mom and I are off to Segsworths' for a family supper tonight and we'll know better what comes next after we get together and discuss immediate plans.

Wonder how good your passwords are?  Try testing a few of your favourites here.

We had a good family supper and discussed what to do next.  The plan is to have the formalities over quickly, by Monday night if possible.  We're notifying relatives and friends tonight, but social media being what it is, we were already receiving phone calls during supper.

I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is
not in order to enjoy ourselves.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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