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The Langdale Ferry to the Sunshine Coast as seen when approaching Gibsons.

Friday December 20th 2013
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Arriving home from Victoria, after the airport delays and the 60-mile drive home, with memories of the trip across the Strait still fresh in my mind, I pulled into my driveway at 0225.  This time there was minimal drifting and I drove up to the door. 

The house was just as I left it, and the cat was beside himself to see me.  I went to bed at 0330 and slept until 0920, waking only twice and with almost no congestion.

As an experiment, I have cut out eating cheese.  It occurred to me that cheese is everywhere and in everything these days.  It is also a favourite garnish or snack. 

When  I looked for something to eat last night at the limited selection in the small stands at the Victoria airport, I did not see many items without cheese. 

I have no idea if cheeses are the problem, only certain cheeses, or dairy in general -- on none of the above, but noticed that I had less congestion after I didn't eat cheese on several recent days.  Coincidence?  I have a particular liking for aged cheddar, so I have been eating a lot of that particular cheese.  We'll see.

Today I have some errands in Three Hills and a concert in Carstairs tonight.  I may blow some snow, too, to clean up the drive.  My plan is to have the new tires installed on the 4X4 today when in town.  I plugged it in last night and hope it will start.

My shoulders are still sore from winching the jib sheets.  I don't think the pain is in the joints, but rather the muscles of the upper arm and the tissue around the actual joints.  Blowing snow was hard on them, then I was winching against high resistance sailing yesterday.  I need to work my arms more and get back into shape.  I used to lift supers and also work my arms a lot when sailboarding.

From the Lower Mainland in British Columbia:

> Dairy products cause congestion, cheese is worse and aged cheeses being the worst of all.

> P.S- We had a fair snow fall today. About 4-5 inches I would say. A it of rain on top of this afternoon. Should make for ice and poor driving conditions later in the night. Will all be gone in a couple of days with warmer temperatures and rain being forecast.

Looks like I just got out of there in time.  I was there for the big snowfall last year on December 19.

At 1800, I drove to The Mill and picked up Fen, Maddy and Max and drove to Carstairs.  Supper was a spicy African stew on white rice, and followed by music performed by a talented duo.  Their sets were a mish-mash of material, including some random Christmas carols. 

If I never hear another Christmas carol, I will not mind in the least.  Carols were a treat back when people had to actually sing them, but these days when carols are endlessly regurgitated electronically everywhere and all the time from the end of November on, it becomes obvious how really inane and terrible most of them are.  The Little Drummer Boy has to take the cake though.  It has to be the stupidest and annoying of the lot.  Thankfully they did not punish us with that one.

I drove the others home, returned to Swalwell, and hit the hay.

Logic is in the eye of the logician.
 Gloria Steinem

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Saturday December 21st 2013
First Day of Winter
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I slept until 0820 and awoke with only a little congestion.  The last two hours, I had strange dreams which I'll attribute to the spicy supper.

One dream involved being at a ski hill somewhere (it was a non-existent hill that has appeared in dreams before) and waiting in cars in a parking lot for a member of our group who was slow buying a lift ticket.  My car was a black Smoky and the Bandit Trans Am.

I had let my passenger drive and he damaged the fender against another car in the lot.  The action seemed quite deliberate and he did not seem to want to pay for the damage.  Then it seemed the person, a young lady, we we were waiting for had disappeared an hour before.  The dream was not disturbing, just tedious.

I have nothing planned today except meet Ruth and get Zippy back.

Jean and Chris have no plans for Christmas except they want me to come up at some point.  I think they are both burned out, so I decided that I will go to Gull Lake and make them turkey supper on Christmas Eve.  I have plans to attend the Christmas Day supper at The Mill.

I have not bought any presents, and have been thinking.  Mckenzie needs skis and Nathan would love an electric train, I am sure.  J&K don't seem in a hurry to get McKenzie skis, so maybe that will be my present to the three of them.  This will not be cheap as we take our skiing seriously.  Jean and I are both instructors and have little use for cheap ski gear.

*   *   *   *   *

I posted this link to Facebook yesterday and wonder if people will misunderstand.  I am sure that out of context, this post appears quite bizarre to anyone who has been off-planet this year and not seen the following and wonder if I have taken leave of my senses:

I don't follow pop music at all these days and only got to looking into this with all the fuss about Miley Cyrus AKA Destiny Hope Cyrus AKA Hanna Montana (a Disney creation), and found I was falling down the Rabbit Hole -- and here I am.

What do I really think of all this?  I think these works are hilarious, mostly harmless and powerful social statements -- that also make big money.  At first I was somewhat offended, but then I got the joke.

People don't recognize real art -- or irony when they see it.  These pieces are fully "in your face" to a culture which peddles women's bodies every day in every way, but will not acknowledge that fact, and actually denies it.  These are IMO, contrary to what people claim, powerful protest pieces and the best part is that the people they mock and chide actually pay to see them!

*   *   *   *   *

I drove to Drum and picked up Zippy.  I returned and think I'll have a nap.  Since this morning, I did a bit more research into the above and found that there are tons of parodies. Here are some  more.  All are done amazingly well.  Enjoy. 

And then there is the similarity to Marvin Gaye's Got to give it up:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRcVQDELAd4

I think I've seen enough.  Time to quit procrastinating and get some work done around here -- or have a nap.  I'm still tired after my adventure.

*   *   *   *   *

I had my nap: one hour fast asleep.  I never would have guessed years ago that one of my biggest pleasures in life would be undisturbed sleep. One thing that disturbs my sleep has been my shoulders, especially the left one and I decide to look up some exercises:

These don't require equipment or brute force.  I'm going to work on them and see.

I also had some comments the other day by email that I did not address at the time:

> I think I would just about kill for 10 hours of straight sleep :)

> I used to do work for one of the sleep centres here in the
> South and Calgary and they told me the following will give
> you a lousy night sleep.

> Alcohol

I find the effect is variable.  A little can be helpful.  Too much results in sleep that does not refresh or in waking up in the middle of the night.

>Lack of exercise early in the day exercise later in the day
> can get your body revved up and he sometimes are still
> revved up while you're trying to sleep. Apparently pushing
> your luck, flying off the handle and jumping to conclusions
>does not count as exercise.

Again, I find that some of my sleep problems are from relaxing too much or, conversely, from being tense, sometimes from lack of exercise all day.  In these cases, stretching and light exercise can make sleep come more easily.
BTW, I usually fall asleep shortly after my head hits the pillow.  If not, I get up and do something until I am tired.

> Alarm clocks apparently there's something about the colour
> of light on your skin or something like that. I did get rid of
> my alarm clock and I just use my cell phone now and for
> the most part I do sleep better. But I'm not sure if it isn't
> a psychological thing. However I can tell you I don't get f
> rustrated by opening my eyes and looking at the clock to see what time it is anymore.

Right. I've turned my clock to and angle where it is not shining on my face and I have to move and crane to see it.  I also fasten the curtains to reduce light in the room.  Both these things made a big difference.

I can wake up at any time I like, to the minute, but I cannot control that and sometimes I get confused about time zones.  So, I turn off my internal body alarms and set an alarm clock (several in fact) if I really need to get up.  That lets me sleep in peace and sometimes I sleep so well that I really resent the alarm when it goes off.

As for cell phones, they are excellent in some ways and a pain in others. If notifications are on, they chime and flash when messages arrive in the night.  I'm always afraid to turn off notifications as I sometimes forget to turn them back on and miss calls. Phones also are quite bright when checked for the time.  Best just to set an alarm, turn off the phone, close the curtains, and go dreamtime.

Once Jon lent me his phone to use as an alarm when I had an early flight to catch out of LAX and my phone was not available for some reason.  His GF decided to text him after midnight and the iPhone does not just notify once.  So much for undisturbed sleep.

Some phones will work as alarms even when turned off.

And then all the other things that you know about coffee, stress etc.

Yes.  Oddly, sometimes a cup of coffee will put me to sleep, but usually coffee late in the day prevents falling asleep.  In the mornings, I often get up, have breakfast and two cups of coffee, do some work, then go back to bed and sleep two hours.

> There actually is a lot of good information online about
> sleep hygiene.

Yes, I have found it very useful but also have looked at the forms the sleep guys ask to have filled out.  In my own experience, my real-world sleep problems are never simple enough to be explained on those forms and anyone relying on forms to understand me would be badly misled.

> It almost struck me as it something we forget that do with
> all the hustle and bustle of busy lives and it is one thing
> that kids do way better than adults.

 I never would have guessed years ago that one of my biggest pleasures in life would be undisturbed sleep.

Bowen Island is still on my mind.  What a week that was!

It is 1932 hours and I am listening to Randy's Vinyl Tap on CBC One Calgary.  He is playing Christmas music and I am enjoying it.  Go figure.

A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation.
 H. H. Munro

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Sunday December 22nd 2013
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Bookkeeping today.

That is about all I did and there is more of the same left to do.

I went to bed early.

You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty.
 Sacha Guitry

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Monday December 23rd 2013
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I don't know what is up with the weather guessers.  The forecast is for minus one and it is now minus 16 and blowing at 7 MPH.   I hope the forecast bears out, though as that means the house will not eat up too much coal over the next few days.

My plan, if it works out, is to pack up my skis, snowboard, tow lines tire chains and an extension cord and head up to Orams'.  I have some shopping to do and some cleanup before I go.

*   *   *   *   *

I was ready to go by 1400 and drove to Red Deer.  There, I found myself in heavy traffic until I got downtown and past the shopping centre areas.  I stopped at at the Wipe Out ski shop and looked over what they have on hand, with a plan in mind to buy skis and boots for McKenzie and some powder skis for myself to use kiting. 

They had a good selection of skis in my size, but I have not kept up with what is good and what is not, and considering the price tag, I decided to wait and do some research.  They had nothing in Mckenzie's size, so I went on over to Play It Again Sports.

There, I found used skis and new boots for her at a decent price and also a set of new powder skis with bindings to suit me.  The skis turned out to be a lady's model, but I bought them on the understanding that I can return for a refund within seven days and the only difference from men's skis is the graphics and balance point.

From there, I continued to Lacombe where (apparently) the only model train hobby shop in Central Alberta is located.  The only person in the shop was a young girl who had no sales experience, who informed me that they were out of the pieces I needed. In spite of her unhelpfulness I managed to determine that they should have enough to make up a present for Nathan but was out of time and drove to Gull Lake for supper and to spend the night.

Good teaching is one fourth preparation and three fourths theater.
 Gail Godwin

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Tuesday December 24th 2013
Christmas Eve
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I'm at Gull Lake today.  There is no wind for kites and nobody is going anywhere this morning, but Chris did go for a cross-country ski. 

After lunch, Jean Mckenzie, Nathan and I made the 45-minute drive to Red Deer to exchange Mckenzie's boots and return my skis.  We bought another pair of boots for Mckenzie and I bought new performance boots for me. My old ski boots were so thrashed that Play it Again Sports did not want them, even on consignment.

Ski boots wear out, but once they are broken in and comfortable, there is a tendency to keep them forever.  Buying new boots is not fun and new boots are often uncomfortable at first.  Performance ski boots are designed to be tight-fitting and to clamp the foot firmly, but every foot is different.  New boots do adjust (Pack in) to suit the foot over time, but the first day or two can be trying.

I returned the skis I had bought, but in their place took a pair of men's powder skis -- same brand, same size, but with less exciting cosmetics and a slightly stiffer flex.  The bindings are yet to be mounted and we have to pick them up on the 27th.  Until then I have my downhill skis.

From there we drove to Lacombe and bought Nathan an HO model train kit which had just arrived, then drove home for turkey dinner.  We opened presents around the tree in the evening and celebrated  the first Christmas in Orams' new home.

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers.
My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
 Flannery O'Connor

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Wednesday December 25th 2013
Christmas Day
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I'm at Gull Lake today and headed home for the day, and for supper at The Mill tonight.

It is a Dick family tradition to ski on Christmas Day, but again this year we are missing out for the third time in a row.  This is the third time in many years that we have not been on a ski hill on Christmas Day.  Nathan's arrival has tied Jean down and Ellen's illness also affected  our plans, too.  With luck we'll get back on track next year.

We'd go skiing locally, but the nearby hills are closed today and the mountains are a challenging three-hour drive with the youngsters, each way.   We are thinking we may get it together to go out to Canmore, Banff, or Lake Louise later this week and stay overnight.

Additionally, Nathan is not yet three and although we figure he can ski with us, but we have not yet found skis for him.  Ski hills have programs for his age group and, in fact, Jean used to be in charge of the Tiny Tigers sometimes when she was a ski instructor at Sunshine Village, but Nathan has never been in daycare and is very attached to his Mom, Dad, and sister.  We figure he would have a melt-down if separated and would be best skiing with us.

Contrary to what some might think, kids that size are pretty fast and safe skiers.  They are so light that they hit limiting velocity at fairly low speeds and can go straight down hills that heavier folks like myself have to work our way down to control our speed. 

Also, being light, they don't get hurt falling or hitting things they way larger people with more mass and momentum do.  The biggest risk is twisting legs, and even there, they are quite flexible.

I've seen a squirrel drop fifty feet from a tree and hit the ground running.  I'll bet an elephant would be badly injured falling more than five or six feet.

The other risk is going off the trail and into trees or rocks.  Nobody, large or small, comes out very well in a collision with a tree. 

Some parents keep the little ones on a leash when skiing, and we have contemplated getting a harness.  With Mckenzie, keeping her close was never an issue, as she was a cautious, but Nathan could turn out to be more independent and less heedful.

I drove home, stopping at The Mill along the way.  Many in the family are already there.  I just stayed long enough to help fix an air mattress, then continued home.  I'll return there for supper.

I dropped Zippy off, turned up the heat, did a few things and returned to The Mill for supper. Almost the whole P-S clan was there.  I had not seen some of them for a long while. It was a good time.

Christmas greetings to all.  I'm falling behind in my correspondence and apologize.  I hope to catch up soon.

Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal.
 Leo Tolstoy

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Thursday December 26th 2013
Boxing Day
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Supper last night was spicy and my sleep was a bit disturbed. I was not congested and slept well enough that I am up at 0600 feeling rested, but did wake up a few times before dropping off again.

I'm up earlier than I might be since I plan to spend the day at Canyon with the Orams.  Canyon is a local area, claiming to the the biggest non-mountain resort in Alberta.

"The resort is located just about 8 minutes East of Red Deer Alberta, Canada. Canyon offers a 164 meter vertical drop which gives everyone a slope to suit their preference. With 6 different lifts, 18 runs, a new and improved Terrain Park and Super Pipe, Canyon gives you more time on the slopes and less in line-ups! Our longest slope is 1.2 km long and our total skiable area is 28.6 hectares from which 40 % are for novices, 40 % for intermediates and 20% for expert."

The chairs at Canyon are slow, the snow is thin and icy, and the place is often crowded, but it is fairly near home for Jean and Chris, being and hour or less from their new home.  Medicine Lodge ski hill is closer to Orams' home, but only open weekends.  For me Medicine Lodge is just about as far as Nakiska, an Olympic ski resort with world class facilities  in the mountains. 

Jon and I were on the Ski Patrol at Canyon back in the '80s, so we were there often in those times, but Mount Allan (Nakiska) was built for the '88 Olympics. For me, Canyon is 120 km and Nakiska, is 193 km, a half-hour further than Canyon and on better roads, so the choice is obvious and I have been going to Nakiska in recent years. The other mountain resorts are another hour away -- minimum.

 We are taking Nathan out for his first time on skis, so a small hill close to home is in order.  If that works out, then we'll go to the mountains.

*   *    *    *    *

We arrived at Canyon around 1000 and skied until just after 1300.  By then, we had enough for the first day out.  Nathan enjoyed the experience, and did well, so maybe we will get to the mountains this holiday.

From canyon, I drove home and had trouble keeping my eyes open along the way.  I stopped at the A&W in Three Hills and got a coffee. 

That woke me up enough to get home, but I had a problem drinking it until I diluted it with water I had on hand.  Why do these fast food places serve coffee that is dangerously hot?  I have to add water or an ice cube to make it drinkable.

When I got home, I went to bed and slept at least two hours.  When I awoke, it was dark. I think I have been fighting a flu or something.

Men have become the tools of their tools.
 Henry David Thoreau

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Friday December 27th 2013
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I slept fairly well, but lightly, and awoke refreshed.  The plan is to spend the day at home, but my new skis should be ready for pickup later today and I may go up to Orams' for the night.

I am conflicted between taking time alone to putter around the house and research projects and spending time with family while they have winter vacation time between now and the 6th of January. Basically, we have ten days.

The weather promises to turn colder tonight, with freezing rain and blowing snow, but promises to warm up after a few days.
 

I continue to tinker with my Lorex surveillance system.  Even after a lot of tinkering with settings, it will not send me emails when it detects motion. I've had to file a support ticket. 

The D-link IP camera works fine and sends me an email every time I walk through the living room.  However, the D-link unit is unreachable from my Android app. IMO, these surveillance systems are not fully debugged and need further development.

I wasted the better part for the day on the Lorex problem including an hour on the phone.  Forty-three minutes were spent waiting on hold while being subjected to repeated announcements and a snatch of very distorted "music" repeating in a loop.

I don't know why suppliers think customers who are already frustrated should be subjected to several bars of distorted computer-generated trash over and over. 

If the customer's nerves are not already frayed from trying to deal with the product, having to suffer while on wait must annoy most of us and make working in support less pleasant than it would be if we just hear a beep every 10 seconds to know we are still connected and an occasional notification  of how long the wait will be.

I finally was connected and the worker was more interested in getting rid of me than assisting me.  I learned nothing and the problem continues.

A comment received by email:

> ...I cannot tell you how many hours days or weeks I have wasted on
> hold only to be connected to the lowest level of support a
> company can afford.

> However occasionally you get somebody that actually knows what
> they're doing and can make your problem go away in a few
> minutes, unfortunately it's like winning the lottery.

> Personally I find that speaking my mind does help after all if
> they're upsetting me why should I take My frustrations out on
> anyone else other than them :-)

Hehehe.  I know the feeling.

I used to think the same way, but over time, I've realised that these lower level people can't help it if they are not well trained and are pressured to handle a maximum number of cases per day.  Although there is some satisfaction in sharing the pain, taking out my frustration on them is not going to improve things.  All that abusing these poor slobs accomplishes is to make them miserable and eventually quit the job -- and be replaced by someone even less experienced and informed and desperate for work -- any work.

If anything, we are both (me and the 'support' person) victims of the company's incompetence in managing its business to provide a product that works and/or instructions on how to deal with it if it doesn't. 

I've seen fantastic support policies.  Wal-Mart and Netflix come to mind as examples (not perfect) of the right corporate attitude.  These firms understand the value of a satisfied customer and the good PR that comes from going the extra mile.   I'm sure some people take advantage of them, but these firms know that the averages work in their favour. Even if they get ripped off by a minority, the goodwill they get back by giving customers the benefit of the doubt pays off in spades.

If I should excoriate anyone, it is the managers or the company itself, not the poor trainee.  And I do I fully intend to deal with the the company -- if that seems indicated after they have had a reasonable chance to redeem themselves -- by writing a detailed review warning prospective customers victims of the deficiencies of the product and support, and posting that review on the sites where it will do the most good

I should add that I am mostly happy with the product.  It just does not do the one thing I would find most handy.  It appears that there is a flaw in the software since my other apps seem to be able to send email without difficulty.  That would seem to me to indicate that it is not a port problem regardless of what that poor slob had in his script.

Hmmm.  Maybe it is that @$#^% Windows firewall.

The wind came up in the late afternoon and I took the kite out with hopes of doing some snowboarding.  With the plus five temperature, no gloves were required, but I still find the harness over my snowsuit clumsy and awkward.

 It turns out that I have forgotten a lot in a year.  I knew that I have gotten out of shape, but I had also forgotten exactly how to rig the kite.  After some fiddling I got it set up and launched, but the wind was gusty and I managed to get launched and dumped on my face in deep snow several times, then the wind died and shifted north.  By then dusk was settling and I decided to quit.

I have never liked this kite much.  I loved the one I learned on and assumed this 8.5 metre Evo Smart II  would be similar since I bought it from my instructor on his recommendation.  I find the control bar setup requires me to reach too far out to sheet out and the kite has less wind range than I had hoped.  I'm going to have to play with it and adjust it indoors, and maybe go back to see the vendor.

WIND WARNING IN EFFECT
BLOWING SNOW WARNING IN EFFECT

Tonight: Snow. Risk of freezing drizzle this evening. Amount 5 cm. Blowing snow with visibilities frequently less than 1 kilometre this evening and after midnight. Wind north 70 km/h gusting to 90 diminishing to 30 gusting to 50 near midnight. Low minus 19. Wind chill minus 25.

After supper, the wind really came up and blew at twenty to thirty MPH from the north until bedtime.  The temperature dropped, too, down to minus sixteen in a matter of a few hours.  That is a sudden change of over twenty Celsius degrees! (thirty-six degrees Fahrenheit).

It's 2210 and I am off to bed.  I looked outside the front door when I went to shovel coal and I see there is a total whiteout. The temperature continues to drop.

Good night.

A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.
 John D. Rockefeller

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Saturday December 28th 2013
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The temperature is minus twenty this morning.  It's pitch dark now at 0630 and 'll check to see how much snow we got and how badly it drifted once we get some light.  The news reports cars stuck on a nearby highway.

The driveway was blown in again last night and Elijah has been blowing snow for three hours.  Another half-hour should get it cleared off. 

I think I've said before that I can't recall such a cold, snowy winter in 45 years living here -- and winter is just getting started!

We're below normal again and the days are less than eight hours long.

I'm cleaning house today and doing laundry, but first I wasted several hours configuring the surveillance system.

I had chicken, salad and broccoli for supper and then sat down with two beers and popcorn to watch TV.  Well, it is mostly not really TV.  I mostly watch Netflix.   Tonight I did not feel like doing anything else and watched "Cracked", "Kidnapped", and a bit of the "Murdoch Mysteries".  That is a lot of video for me. I went to bed around 2130.

Imitation is the sincerest form of television.
 Fred Allen

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Sunday December 29th 2013
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I slept right through, and awoke at 0455 with no congestion.  That is unusual.  Why?  What is different

Yesterday was not unusual.  I worked at the desk, did some housework, had two beers and some popcorn and watched more video than usual last evening AND I washed the sheets and pillow cases.

I recall (vaguely) that when we were kids, Mom changed my feather pillow to a foam pillow as I (or maybe my brother or sister) had some issues  with feather pillows.  I also have often noticed that I sleep better when in a new place, like a hotel.  Hotels provide fresh linens.  Could it be that simple? 

How to Recognize the Symptoms of Allergies to Dust Mites
From http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/dustmites.php:

The protein substances in the dust mite feces produces antibodies in humans who are allergic when these are inhaled or touch the skin. These antibodies cause the release of histamines which causes to nasal congestion, swelling and irritation of the upper respiratory passages. The Mayo Clinic, WebMD and NIH collectively provide this list of typical symptoms of an allergy to dust mites; You may experience all or just some of them:

  • Hay fever,
  • Watering eyes,
  • Runny nose,
  • Sneezing,
  • Asthma, difficulty in breathing,
  • Infantile eczema
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Postnasal drip
  • Cough
  • Facial pressure and pain
  • Frequent awakening
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
  • In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose

(I grayed out symptoms that are not bothering me)

More articles.

In the past, have noticed that dust from my hair after lawn mowing or beekeeping was  a problem and have sometimes taken antihistamines to cope.  I also tried to remember to wash my hair before bed after such activities, but I am now thinking that maybe even when I am not working outdoors that dust mites may build up in the pillowcase after a few nights and cause issues.

I buy new pillows fairly often.  Good pillows are quite cheap at Wal-Mart and pillows lose their spring after a while.  The biggest problem in my experience is to find pillows which are the right thickness and firmness to suit me.  It is hard to tell in the store.

I have broad shoulders and sleep on my side.  A thin pillow does not hold my head in the correct position and causes sore shoulders and/or a stiff neck.  A pillow that is too thick and hard has a similar effect.

I routinely wash my sheets every week or two, whether they seem to need it or not, and the pillowcases get washed at the same time.  Washing the sheets means stripping and remaking the bed.  With tight-fitting fitted sheets, that job is a hassle, but washing or changing only the pillowcases is easy to do, even daily if indicated.  Hmmm.  Maybe I will start changing pillowcases more often, and I do have spares.

I'll think twice before I start taking more drastic measures, though. The special sheets and pillowcases sound like a hassle.

Here is one more thing that almost slipped my mind: I used bleach in that load of wash yesterday

I don't usually bleach my sheets and pillowcases, especially as the are coloured, but I had a towel in that load, too, and towels tend to get smelly if they are not bleached, especially if they are left damp in a hamper.  As a result, I routinely and proactively add a touch of bleach to any load with towels.   I only use an ounce or two -- not enough to cause any colour loss -- to disinfect.  It makes a huge difference in freshness, especially now that washes are usually in warm or cold water.

The articles I read on dust mites suggest using very hot water to kill mites, but I wonder if that touch of bleach has the same effect.  I think so.  Could a solution for me be that simple? 

I think the problem is that my nose is right up against the pillow., and I don't think the sheets or blankets are a big problem.

I'll experiment and time will tell.

The holidays continue.  Not for me, as I am retired, but for everyone else.  I notice that even many of those at work are not fully up to speed this week. 

Orams have the coming week off and we have been talking of skiing, but the weather is not the best right now and the cold is now projected to continue to Wednesday.

Looking at the mountain weather, though, Banff and Canmore are expected to be quite a bit milder than the prairie and there is fresh snow forecast.

Elijah did most of the driveway yesterday, but had missed a few spots, so I went out this afternoon and cleaned up.  This accomplished two things: Cleared the drive, and gave me some exercise.

I find I am suddenly behind in housework, so started work on the project by vacuuming the entry, the front stairs, and my bedroom.  Then I dusted a bit..,

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool.
-Richard Feynman

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Monday December 30th 2013
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I'm in a sort of limbo.  I have a number of things I plan to do, but need to deal with several things here before I am comfortable leaving the house in this cold winter for longer than a few days.

I have to get a better bin auger working and ensure the surveillance system is reliable.  I'm also waiting for a better airfare to Ontario to go visit Mom and, after that, plan to go to B.C. for the Vancouver Boat Show and to sail a while.

I've also been sticking around for Christmas and New Years activities and to spend time with Orams while they are on holiday.

In the last while, I have let housework slip, so I plan to continue cleaning house today.  I'm getting an early start on spring cleaning, too.

Tomatoes continue to ripen in the south window of my living room and the plants continue to bloom.  Of course, I have to hand-pollinate them as there are obviously, no bees to do the job.

I seem to be able to eat these tomatoes without problems.  Whatever I was doing to cause the sinus congestion, apparently eating these tomatoes was not it.  I do know, though that some tomato sauce and some roma tomatoes do seem to bother me. My houseplants are blooming, too, despite the dark days.

The surveillance cameras continue to be a problem that I work on from time to time.  I've tried so  many things that I am starting to forget what I have done and go in circles. 

Neither the Lorex or the D-link are 100% when it comes to remote viewing. 

  • I don't actually have any problems with the Lorex except that it will not send email as programmed.  I am sure it is a bug.  I also am not certain that I will not lose remote contact if the local IP changes, although I did change it and Jean can still see the cameras from Gull Lake.
  • The D-link DCS-942L camera sends me an email every time I walk by it for a while, then doesn't for a while, and the remote viewing is faulty.  I can see the image on my phone as long as I am on the local wi-fi, but not when away.
    The web-based viewer page did work until recently, but depends on Java.  That meant permission had to be given several times when logging on and loading the video feed. 
    Now, in the last day, that web page has stopped working entirely and reports coming downtime on Jan 2.    I suspect that this has to do with Java.  Java is pretty well dead and considered a security risk these days -- hardly a good problem to have in a 'security' system.

Maybe it is just me and my unreasonable expectations, but somehow, one would expect a surveillance system to be rock-solid and reliable in every regard.  Even one failure or unreliability fails the entire system, no matter how good the other components are.  By that measurement, both these systems fail.

*   *   *   *   *

I have written, reverse engineered (hacked) and debugged software going back 30 years now and I decided that there must be a glitch in the Lorex software.  I had noticed that when I checked "maximize" on detecting motion, that the picture was not maximizing.  That had not interested me, but that checkbox is right beside the "send email" on detecting motion checkbox and I wondered if clicking these boxes showed a checkmark but was not setting the flag, or if the flag was setting, it was being cleared somehow. and not being saved.  Interestingly, by playing with them in various combinations, I was able to have a few emails sent.  The D-link IP camera email feature continues to be intermittent.

I got more housework done today, and changed the RO filter cartridges for the first time in 25 months (if my records are correct). 

Municipal tap water goes in at 100 ppm and comes out at 20 ppm, just the same as before I changed the filters, but changing the prefilters periodically on a schedule is important as the charcoal filter protects the membrane from chlorine.  There is no way to know the charcoal in the filter has been used up until irreparable damage is done, so regular changes are recommended every six to twelve months. More...

My unit (left) is a basic unit we have had for at least ten and maybe fifteen years.  I helped Orams install their new unit last week and I see that RO units are more sophisticated these days, but this one does still the trick.

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
 Bertrand Russell

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Tuesday December 31st 2013
New Year's Eve
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Weather Underground PWS IABSWALW2One more day and I'll have to write "2014".  2013 has been a year of changes.  My sister died, then Ellen died, I spent time sailing on the West Coast, and none in Muskoka.  I wonder what 2014 will bring.

We are in the deep freeze still and can expect this to continue for a while.  Although we have passed the darkest time of year, and days are slowly getting longer, January is the coldest month.  Early February can also be brutal.

I have yet to take a look at my bees and the minus twenty temperature outside this morning does not inspire me.  The deep snow is also a discouragement.  I really should get more insulation on top of the hives before the brood rearing starts increasing mid-month, but getting to the supplies and the hives will be a struggle.  I suppose I could put on my snowshoes or break trail with the 4X4. 

Now, suddenly,  I am getting emails from the Lorex system (left) reporting motion both in the hall and the coal bin.  The emails are time-stamped with the moment of triggering, and the emails carry the same stamp +/- a minute or two, but are received by me as much as ten minutes later. I am using the Lorex mail server and wonder if it is backlogged. 

I'd use my own servers, but now that this thing is working, I am afraid to alter the settings.

Just as suddenly, the D-link camera is working.  Go figure.

I vacuumed and dusted this afternoon.  Elijah came and shoveled snow and coal. We had another 3" last night.

At 1600, I put a lasagna in the oven to take to The Mill tonight.  Shortly after, Zippy barked authoritatively at the door.  I opened it and no one was there.   Shortly after, she barked again and again no one was there.  I had to explain to her that nobody is coming for supper.  We are going out.  I guess she has learned that if I put something into the oven, people will be coming over soon.  Too funny!

Zippy is not a bold watchdog.  She barks reflexively when the doorbell rings, and runs to the door, but stays behind me if someone she does not know is at the door.  If it is someone we know, then she is bold.

I am planning to stay up until at least ten tonight, so I had a nap while the lasagna was  cooking.

I have been wondering if dust from my hair and dust mites from sweat and normal shedding of dead skin onto the pillow could be the cause of nighttime sinus congestion.   Since I had a little congestion last night, I washed the pillowcases this morning, even though they were washed three days back.

Seeing as I did that, and I had been vacuuming and raised a dust a several points, I figured I should wash my hair before lying down, so I had a second shower today.

Although it seems I cleaned house only a short while ago, I am seeing dirt, so I have set out to work the place over, wiping and dusting and vacuuming. The job is immense as is this place, but I enjoy cleaning and it gives me something to do while I wait to head off to visit and sail.

I really need to rebuild the bin buddy before I go anywhere, but am reluctant to start. Once I start, the job should go well and I can worry less about leaving. In a week or two, I'll get another load of coal, too, and a full bin makes keeping the auger covered easier for people charged with the responsibility.

I really, really should get a gas furnace installed for backup, but the job is somewhat daunting since this place is big and old.

The lasagna is ready and I'm off to The Mill for the evening.

A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.
 Lao Tzu

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