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Winter is here, even if the official start is now a month away

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Wednesday November 20th 2013
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At 0719, the weather station in my backyard reads minus 25.2 C, with a warming trend in sight after one more cold day and one more cold night.

I have been planning to go to Airdrie today, leaving early, but  I'm having second thoughts due to the cold and suggestion of light snow this morning.

Cold is not a real issue, but  if there is blowing snow, driving can be hazardous.  I think that the loose snow from recent falls has mostly drifted by now, but new falling snow could blow around, reducing visibility.

I drove to Airdrie and did some shopping at Wal-Mart, then drove to CrossIron, returned some items at Costco and ordered a pair of bifocals.  I picked up a new version of Quickbooks.  Costco is selling QB 2014 for $129 and the best price elsewhere is $240.

I returned home, had supper, installed QB and watched some TV. 

I bought QB 2014 due to some problems with my installation of QB 2011 in hopes that the bugs might be ironed out by now.  The latest QB looks ugly compared to QB 2011. 

The trend lately in computer GUIs is to flat, simple images and icons and flat and often clashing colors.  I can only conclude this is due to the increasing popularity of smaller screens and weaker processors, plus a need to always produce something new, even if not better, to drive obsolescence. 

If people cannot see an obvious difference, they cannot easily discern which is the newer (and thus more desirable) item, or justify spending money to 'upgrade'.  Toyota found that with trying to market hybrids and had to come up with a distinct, if ugly, design so that the Prius was obviously different.   

GUI eye candy uses a lot of computer resources that many phones and tablets do not have and the designers are trying to unify design across devices, so the deficiencies of the weakest devices is driving the design of GUIs for all, including powerful machines that can easily run rounded and 3D transparent images.  Even Apple is going flat.  Pity.

The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows.
 Aristotle Onassis

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Thursday November 21st 2013
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We're expecting a warmer day, with a high near freezing.

A friend sent me a link to this interesting video.

Fen, Bert, and Lorelee came for supper.

Show me a woman who doesn't feel guilty and I'll show you a man.
 Erica Jong

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Friday November 22nd 2013
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Our temperatures continue to run well below normal.  We set a record low the day before yesterday and the warm weather predicted for tomorrow has been cancelled.  We are now expecting minus six as a high.  Our normals are a maximum of -1C and a minimum of -11C. 

Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart;
and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
 Sir Winston Churchill

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Saturday November 23rd 2013
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The weather guessers missed by about twelve degrees, judging by this morning's reading.  We are much colder than they expected a week ago.

There are a number of things that need doing before I go to California for Thanksgiving.  One is to set up my 'bin buddy'. 

The bin buddy is what I call a crude powered auger I built years ago to carry coal across the bin to the main auger that feeds the burner.  The main auger only reaches to one corner of the bin, so this moveable auger brings coal from the far side of the bin to where the main auger can pick it up.

Without the bin buddy, someone has to shovel the into that corner from the rest of the bin periodically.  In cold weather, that can be once a day when the bin is getting empty..  Shoveling is good exercise when I am home and work for a neighbour's boy, but a concern when I am away.  I have built several versions of the auger, but none have really quite met my expectations.  They work well, but I dream of perfection.

I would have made a good Pope.
 Richard M. Nixon

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Sunday November 24th 2013
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Today will be warm again, around freezing.  It is plus two Celsius at 0900.

Here's an interesting email:

Varroa mite predators could be an answer.

http://vimeo.com/63418711 

I wonder if Stratiolaelaps mites could be raised in a worm compost bin right along with the worms.

http://www.appliedbio-nomics.com/wp-content/uploads/230-hypoaspis.pdf

If we changed our bottom boards to a more natural floor, as bees would have in a hollow tree, we could keep these mites right under the hive. I could see using a floor that is a vented plastic bin with a pull out drawer with some sawdust/soil type media in it and Stratiolaelaps mites living in it. The soil bin would give Stratiolaelaps mites a place for reproduction and they could feed on any fallen Varroa. Since the Stratiolaelaps mites are fast and mobile they would also be able to crawl up through the hive or bees going down to the floor could bring them up on their bodies. Also the beekeeper could take a cup of the soil from the bin every few weeks and put it on the top bars of the brood nest to bring the predators up where the food is. The hive entrance could be located above the soil media. Winter would kill the Stratiolaelaps mites but if you could keep some going in a worm compost bin you would have next years mites ready in spring, though they are not very expensive to purchase so restarting with purchased Stratiolaelaps would work too.

What do you think?

Well, I like the idea better than using chemicals or drone brood removal.  I have some doubts though about achieving and maintaining a sufficient population of these mites.   I've been hearing talk of using various little bugs for some time, but application and persistence have been mentioned as problems.

The above suggestions might help, but I'd like to see some better science done and published that shows the actual efficacy and persistence in the hive over the year before forming an opinion.

They do not look to be more expensive than chemicals, so if they work at all, there is hope.

Here are some more resources: Beesource   blog  supplier   supplier.

In any contest between power and patience, bet on patience.
 W.B. Prescott

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Monday November 25th 2013
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Another mild day.  I am working on catching up with paperwork, some matters regarding Cassiopeia, and the coal bin as well as planning to install cameras.  A lot of time is spent in researching details on the 'net.

For the boat, I research problem areas and replacement parts as well as best practices.  For the surveillance system, seeing as it is a wired system, I have to calculate where and how to place each camera and the main station, and the router.  The cables that came with the unit are short for some locations, so I need extensions.  Not all extensions are compatible, and the prices for apparently similar or identical items can vary by 500%.

It appears the weather will be mild while I am gone if I can trust the weather guessers.  That is a relief.  I worry about minus forty weather and the heating load -- and the consequences of furnace failure.

I have been planning to install the surveillance cameras, but have been put off by planning where and how to place them and the fact that the wires are too short for some of the preferred locations, plus the question of where to move the Internet router.  Today I got started in earnest and installed a camera in  the one place that I have really needed one: the coal bin. 

The job was not as easy as I hoped as the floor is above the furnace room is an inch thicker than the 17" length of the bit and extension I bought to drill a hole for the wires.  Not wanting to drill huge holes in the floor and walls, I also used a bit that was just barely big enough -- 5/8" -- for the BNC connector and siamese wire to pass. 

As it happened, the location I chose (blindly) was tight against a joist and the hole shape was less than round.  I spent an hour trying to get the wire through.  Finally, I succeeded and the camera works beautifully.  The shot at right is from the camera in total darkness and shows the auger.  I can watch the auger and the fuel levels from the hall upstairs, and remotely from any place with Internet. 

Next, I'll add the other seven cameras to monitor temperatures and activity around the place.  Eight cameras is overkill, but that is what came with the system.  Someone suggested placing one near a beehive as a webcam.  These cameras are private and, besides, only three users can view them remotely at any time.

I may decide to get a separate unit to use for beehives.  My IP camera would work even if not rated for outdoors, but my wi-fi currently does not carry far enough.  All the webcam setups I have seen require a computer running nearby.  I have not had much luck researching a simple, easy system for a webcam.

Egotist: a person more interested in himself than in me.
 Ambrose Bierce

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Tuesday November 26th 2013
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I've been sleeping better, but still have some congestion at night.

Today, I'll install more cameras and get ready to go away for a few days. 

I spent a lot of time playing around with the bin buddy and running wire for the cameras.  I'm not sure I accomplished a lot.

The weather continues mild, running closer to seasonal normals.  We still have lots of snow. 

This year we have more snow and colder weather in November than I can remember in my 45 years living here.  Many years, we finished wrapping hives in December and the snow gave us little if any trouble getting into remote yards.

If there is ever a medium to display your ignorance, television is it.
~Jon Stewart

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Wednesday November 27th 2013
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I'll tie up loose ends, pack, and go to Jean's tonight.  Tomorrow, Mckenzie and I fly to LA for Thanksgiving.  The weather is expected to continue mild while we are gone.

My big concern has been heating system failure.  I am happy with the surveillance system.  Together with the watchful eyes of neighbour and their regular visits to check things, all should be well. 

I don't worry too much about theft, although I do make reasonable precautions.  I don't have much of value that anyone would want and the place is well-watched.  My main concern is freezing the plants and the water pipes.  If the building gets cold, the nails in the wallboard tend to pop and tiles lift as well.   Homes need to be kept above freezing.

As well as being able to watch the place through cameras located indoors and outdoors around the place, I have cameras aimed at the coal supply and a thermometer.  I am not too happy with the thermometer picture.  The infra-red LEDS reflect off the LCD and the image is faint.

I cannot do much about power failure at this point, but unless an outage is protracted, this should not be a problem unless temperatures are severe.

It is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims.
 Aristotle

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Thursday November 28th 2013
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We got up at 0600, Jean drove us to drove to YEG, and McKenzie and I were in LA picking up our car by 1300. 

We had 8 hours to kill waiting for Sarah and the kids, so we went to Venice Beach first, then Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier.

At 2030, we picked up the others and arrived on Songbird Lane by 2200.  I dropped Sarah off at her place, then returned.  Graham arrived an hour later We visited for a while and called it a day at 0130 the next morning.

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement.
The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
 Niels Bohr

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Friday November 29th 2013
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It was raining when we got up, but the kids and I did a tour of our favourite playgrounds, had lunch at Jack in the Box, then returned.  The kids were beat and were happy to stay home for a while.  I lay down for a nap and woke up two hours later.  Around 1600, Graham, the kids, the dog and I went to the beach and stayed until dark. 

When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty.
I only think about how to solve the problem.
But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.
 Buckminster Fuller

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Saturday November 30th 2013
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 WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT

What to do today?  San Diego Zoo?  Disneyland?  Wild Animal Park?  Sea World?  Nope.  The kids want go to local playgrounds and the ice cream shop and generally just hang out and enjoy one another's' company.  Consumerism is dead.  Time to sell your Disney stock. 

I was wondering when I heard of the NHL/Rogers deal if hockey has jumped the shark.  We are increasingly hearing that parents are balking at the ridiculous cost of kids' hockey in time, money and travel. 

Moreover, there are now (finally) concerns being expressed publicly about gratuitous violence and concussions in hockey -- even professional hockey.  I've always found this repulsive and the famous Canadian victory over the Russians back in the seventies was IMO a low point for the game due to the way that Canada turned a gentleman's game of skill into a game of roughness and intimidation.

The NHL is hardly a good example for our kids.  More and more people are belatedly realizing that fact.  IMO it is just a matter of time until hockey fades into the background again.  Every dog has his day and when we hear of a mega-deal like the Rogers/NHL deal, it usually signals a top.

I see all is well at home.  The surveillance cameras, other than the bin cam are just jury-rigged for testing now, propped up with cloths and knick-knacks and with wires on the floor, but are working fine.  The outdoor camera is shooting through glass; otherwise the picture would be much better.  I see we got some snow.  I also see that when I set the date imprint, I was one day off.  I'll have to correct that.

I'm still learning how to set the system up.  I can have it send me emails at set times or whenever there is movement, but doing so is not simple and I am not always sure of getting a remote connection.  The system went offline for 8 hours or so yesterday, so I am afraid if I made an adjustment and lost connection, that might get 1,000 emails before I could change the setting.  I'll play with this when I am at home and have hands-on access to the DVR.

I bought a plan for data, text and talk in the US before leaving home. The plan includes 40 MB of data for 30 days.  That is not a lot, but I figured that if I am careful to use wi-fi when available, it would be plenty. 

Right off, I found my phone does not report data use in increments of less than an entire day.  Since I used my Canadian data until we flew, and did not record how much, I was unable to separate out and track my US usage on  that day.

Then, yesterday, I took pictures and moved them to Dropbox while on wi-fi at Jon's.  Dropbox used to be very quick with uploads, but It seems that Dropbox is very slow lately and apparently did not do the upload until after I was away from the house and was on a cellular data connection.  I thought had turned off background data, but the settings are confusing and later I found that had Dropbox eaten up my whole 30-day data ration in one hour.

A few apps need data at all times and are frugal, but the phone 'help' advises against restricting individual apps.  There is still work to be done to make these things work the way we need them to.  Fortunately the data plan renews automatically at the reduced rate, but that oversight needlessly cost me $15. 

At full roaming rates, the cost would have been $200.  These phone company billing tricks are what makes us all hate our phone providers.  Koodo seems better than most, but I would have expected a text advising of the overage.  I discovered the bleeding because I am suspicious and double-check everything.  I wonder what is happening at Dropbox that makes it so slow lately and failing to sync properly.

In the afternoon, we all (Jon, Graham, Katrina, Kalle, Mckenzie and I) went to see the kids' schools and visit the playground at Top of the World. From there, we stopped for frozen yoghurt, drove to Lido Island and Balboa Island and home again for supper.

Graham, the kids and I went to the Sawdust Festival, but found it closed so we drove around Laguna to see the lights and stoped at Main Beach.  The kids played on the swings, then around eight we headed for the car, but noticed the Candy Baron was open and stopped in.

At home they were already starting on the turkey for tomorrow.  We're having the Thanksgiving turkey tomorrow afternoon since we were all scattered and travelling on Thursday. 

Sarah picked up Kalle to finish his homework.  We learned his hamster died that day.

I went to bed at ten.  The others were still wide a wake.

We all agree that your theory is crazy, but is it crazy enough?
 Niels Bohr

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