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Friday February 20th 2015
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I see that enough snow melted yesterday and the sun was hot enough that the the pond is flooded with runoff. The temperature reached plus eight yesterday.

Yesterday would have been perfect for looking at the bees, but today is cool, overcast and breezy.  I have to finish my travel plans and make more reservations. 

For one thing, I have a 12-hour layover in Newark and need a hotel with a shuttle.  I planned the trip with an overnight layover so that I get a rest between the two legs and hopefully arrive in Antigua fresh.  It will be hot there and I arrive mid-afternoon.

I have not arranged accommodation there while waiting for Compass Rose to be ready for me, and that remains to be done, too. Frank has guests on board until the first of the month and I am arriving earlier.

Booking online is fairly quick, but making correct choices takes time, and some thought.

I went outside in mid-afternoon, and lifted about thirty lids.  So far all the hives look fine.  A few need a little adjusting, but all look pretty good.

At 1730, Zippy and I drove to Calgary for the Foothills Association of Cruisers and Sailors (FACS) meeting.  The featured talk was about last year's Spring Thaw trip to the Broughtons.  They went the month before I did and had nothing but beautiful weather.  I last went on Spring Thaw with FACS back in May 2010.  How time flies.

I've been offered a berth on another member's Nonsuch 30, seeing as my boat is booked for charter that week.  I've always wanted to sail a Nonsuch.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
Marcus Aurelius

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Saturday February 21st 2015
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Hmmm.  Seems I did not get around to an entry this morning.

I spent the day finalizing my travel plans -- it seemed to take forever -- and updating the Global Patties website, then went to Mike and Liz's new home for supper.  We have been friends a long time and they have moved out my way.

I also spent time arranging for Maddy to stay on my boat at Granville Island. 

Maddy was stranded in Vancouver on her way to Denny Island when her Westjet plane was late leaving (what else is new?) and caused her to miss her float plane connection to the boonies.  She called  me to see if I happened to be in Vancouver and I suggested she might like to stay on Cassiopeia.  The Cooper Boating people are very helpful and got her access and some bedding.

I had planned also to look at my bees again today, and take a hive tool along, but the day did not get above minus ten, and besides, by the time I was done my desk work at 1605, I was already late leaving for supper at 1700.

Mike, Liz and I had a pleasant supper and I returned home around 1930, watched an episode each of "Chuck", and "Veronica Mars", and went to bed around 2200.

I seem to be spending an increasing amount of time with fiction.  I wonder about that.  In the past, I did not watch any video in the summer, but did in the winter when days are shorter and being outdoors is less appealing.

Both Ellen and my mother read a lot of novels -- the "good literature" and "must reads".  I'm not personally much impressed by what is trendy or what public opinion happens to think is really clever right now, knowing how fickle human tastes are and how they turn 180 degrees every few decades.

Frankly, I have almost no idea what is in those books, and have to wonder.  I have read -- or skimmed -- a few of the currently popular novels over the years, and of course read some of the "great literature" back in school.  I got a high mark for a book review of "War and Peace" back in high school even though I only skimmed it.  I also recall reading "Tom Jones" back in my university days for the entire night before a physics exam.

"Reading" a novel for me consists most often of opening the book in random places, seeing if it speaks to me, reading the last page, and deciding I don't need to read the rest.  There are exceptions, though.

My Audible listening usually starts at the beginning, though, and goes to the end.  I sometimes skip between several open books.  Listening makes the boredom of a long drive more tolerable when I have finished things mulling over, usually about twenty minutes into a drive, and is thus justified in my mind, but I do wonder about the two hours I typically spend in evenings just sitting, doing nothing but watching Netflix.  Is it a waste?   Can time actually be wasted, or is that a bogus concept?

On the way home from Darazs', I finished listening to "The Circle" on Audible.  It was an interesting book and ended rather abruptly, I thought. 

As a writer myself, I am always aware of the artificiality of narratives, the unlikelihood of any plot, the impossibility of describing reality (whatever that is), and the devices employed.   That does not stop me from enjoying a good story.

A Brief History Of Money

Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Conventional and Electric Vehicles

Even cockroaches have different personalities

A happy childhood has spoiled many a promising life.
Robertson Davies

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Sunday February 22nd 2015
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Hmmm.  No post again this morning. 

I slept in and worked all day at the desk, catching up on accounting and planning my trip.  I did a little house cleaning, too.

Where did the time go?

Very few people can afford to be poor.
George Bernard Shaw

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Monday February 23rd 2015
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We are above freezing this morning and the days are getting much longer.

I am still fiddling with websites and other desk work, but plan to get outside to do some bee work.  My thoughts are to take a hive tool and some Apivar and work down the lines.

I have far too many hives for a guy who is losing interest.  I intend to sell off a bunch this year.  How many would be ideal?  Good question. 

There are only two conditions in beekeeping: too many hives, or too few.  Seldom do we ever have the exact perfect number.

This is the problem with beekeeping.  We start with a hive or two and that does not take much time, so we get more.  Pretty soon, we find it takes a whole day and then a whole weekend, then week nights if we have a day job.

Before long, we are working seven days a week, and longer hours.

Then we hit the wall. We have to run fewer hives, get more efficient, or get help.  No matter what we choose, we have to change our thinking and when we do, we give up some of our cherished ideas and immediately discover that a lot of the operations we thought were absolutely essential don't matter at all.

I'm on the other end of that expansion and am trying to cut down, and cutting down on beekeeping is a lot like quitting smoking or drinking.  It goes fine at first, but the habit keeps creeping back, little by little until we realize we have a real problem.

"My name is Allen, and I am a beekeeper..."

No, going to meetings does not seem to help.

Note: A reader was worried about Global Patties he had just bought after he read my post on Feb 19, so I spoke to Mike about this at supper and the answer is here.  There is no need to worry when buying Global Patties from either of the Global factories

It may be wise to query dealers about how long patties (of any brand) have been in storage, though.  Most dealers are very scrupulous, but some may not be or figure that storing over long periods at room temperatures or above (as in the south) does not matter.  Asking this question keeps them on their toes and lets them know that people are watching.

The storage question applies even more so when buying ingredients if you make your own patties.  Yeast and soy are not big sellers and can be in stock for years -- and they are worthless or at least less nutritious after a year on the shelf.  Added to that is the fear that the supplies may not be of a type that is proven for bees. Some soy flours and some yeast products may be toxic to bees.

People often think they will save by going to a feed store or a health food store and buying ingredients.  There is a chance they will get appropriate supplies, but a greater likelihood they will buy something that is stale or has toxic components.

It's 1418 and I am still at my desk.  What with phone calls and little jobs, it seems I have been stuck here.  I did take an hour to repot some houseplants, though.  I see my century plant is about to bloom. That is a big deal here in my house, but in California, they bloom all winter.

I'm still eating a few tomatoes from my tomato plants although the plants are dying back.  They got overwatered while I was away during the dark days of winter.

The morning was beautiful and sunny, but breezy and I figured that 2 PM would be an ideal time to go out, but now it is getting overcast and the wind has not dropped.  I'm going out anyhow.

What was I thinking?  When I got out there the bees were sunning themselves all up and down the fronts of the four and five-story hives both inside and out.  I cracked two top boxes full of honey to look under and saw bees in both boxes and that by lowering them again  I would crush bees between the wax ladder combs and burrs. 

Crushing bees is a sure-fire way to spread nosema and who knows what else, so I decided to quit.  My efforts on their behalf were not appreciated and the bees told me so in no uncertain terms.  I was able to confirm a dozen times or so that I am still immune to bee stings and do not swell.

Just then my phone rang and it was Joe on his way home, making sure I was here so he could visit.  I packed up and went back in, having decided that I will leave the bees alone until my return at the end of March. 

A hive or two may starve from being too far from feed, but the rest will be better off for being undisturbed and I will come out far ahead by doing nothing.  That is only because these hives were very well fed, with three or four boxes mostly full of natural honey going into winter.

I'd have liked to put in Apivar to get my treatment over early, but that would be too intrusive right now.  If my hives were in doubles and the clusters at the top and spread out, inserting Apivar would be easy, but many if not most of these clusters are still well down in the hives and not accessible without disturbance and crushing bees.

S/V Compass rose XWhere am I going later this week?  The Caribbean Sea (left) on Compass Rose with my friend, Frank.

We'll be at the lower right of that map at left (in the West Indies) and sail from Jolly Harbour (middle) on Antigua in the Leeward Islands to Saint Lucia in the Lesser Antilles (right).

From there, I return to Albany in New York State for the SABA meetings.


Click to Enlarge

Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.
George Jean Nathan

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Tuesday February 24th 2015
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I woke up sometime after 0300, having slept about four hours and realised I was wide awake -- and that I had been contemplating what I need to take with me on my trip.  Good.  My subconscious autopilot is working.  Do I need to take bedding and a towel?  I hope not.  My plan was to travel light this time.  I usually have a sea bag full of stuff and only need a small portion of it.

I got up and caught up on some correspondence.  I have been helping organize an event for Bluewater Cruising Association, but, as in the past, the central office does not have its ducks in a row and  lot of time was wasted in needless back and forth.  I had to tell the rest of those involved that time's up.  I'm gone.  I'll never be an organization man.

Around 0415, I went back to bed, but soon realised that I would not sleep and got up again.  Goes to show that some excitement in life is good for me.  It is easy to fall into a rut but I have to keep pushing back the perimeter of my comfort zone.  Otherwise, it would shrink to the size of a tiny cell.

I have to be in Drum at 0800 to have some exhaust welding done on the Toyota and deliver Zippy to Ruth.

At one time, back a few decades, I built an entire dual exhaust system while lying in the snow outside, using old pipes salvaged from a scrap pile, but these days I am not so ambitious.  I am going to let someone else do the job. 

I did a patch a few years back, on Tuesday May 14th 2013, and it held until recently, but the part I was able to find at that time was not as good as the one I have now. This repair should last. 

The alternative is to spend over $1,500 (plus who knows how much for labour) on replacing the entire exhaust pipe on a 1998 van that might be worth $1,500.  Obviously that is not a good plan.

I drive beaters and own a yacht. Go figure. Maybe one is the reason for the other -- and vice-versa.

I was at the door to the shop at 0805 and they put the van up.  First off, the mechanic said he would have to drop the pipe, and I said that I was afraid they would shear studs off a manifold that old. 

"No worries", he said.  He then said they could not cut the pipe without dropping it and also could not weld it in place.

"Oh", I said, "I did, and I welded it with the pipe in place, too."

How did you weld it?" he asked, referring to the failed flex coupling I had installed before I found this proper one.  It had lasted almost two years.

"With oxyacetylene, lying on the ground."

I said, "Do whatever you think best.", and left him to it. 

A while later, he came up front and said they had decided to do it in place as they were afraid they'd shear a stud.  I said, "OK".

Ruth came while I was waiting and Zippy jumped into the truck with Dave.

An hour after arriving and $115 lighter, I drove away with a newly silent van.  Coming into town, I had been careful not to make a racket with a wide-open exhaust, but this visit cured the problem, hopefully for good.

I then went to renew the truck plates and was refused since the insurance slip had my name, not the company name on it.  I decided to drive Three Hills.

In Three Hills, I went to the bank and then the registry.  Someone in front of me was registering an entire fleet, so I had some time to sit and meditate. 

Same problem here, but being a local, she let me turn over the form and write the policy number on the back and forgot she saw the pink slip.  From there, I went up the street to the insurance company and had the pink slip error rectified.

That done, I returned home, cleaned out my email inbox, tidied and organized the plants for watering while I am gone. 

I've been unsubscribing from every list I can, but still get buried daily in mail.

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive
but those who can best manage change.
Charles Darwin

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Wednesday February 25th 2015
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A little after 0330 this morning, I again discovered I was fully awake.  I must already be entering 'travel mode'.  In full travel mode, I always wake up at 0300 sharp on days when when I am scheduled to travel, even if travel is not until afternoon.  Odd, but true.

I don't know about you, but I have my "Bees" pictures folder photos cycling through as my desktop background on one of my two computers driving the four monitors here at Mission Control. (The other is showing the Bing desktop picture of the day).

As I sat here, drinking my coffee, the picture at right popped up and I realised that it demonstrates clearly how little bees care about the shape, size and attitude of brood cells.  Take a look.

At left is another.  These are storage cells, but given time, the queen might well lay in them and if so, drones would be raised.

We tend to look at the most 'perfect' areas of large combs and idealize these cells, assuming that all the other cells are 'imperfect'. Bees apparently do not see things that way. 

We give bees sheets of identical cell bases simply because we cannot easily make anything else and also because our human way of thinking makes us believe we know better than the bees.  There is a whole beekeeping cult dedicated to the idea that forcing bees onto foundation of a particular size made of recycled beeswax or plastics is 'natural' and 'organic'. 

Give me a break.

Speaking of 'organic', and how people are sucked in by the word and by anything labeled 'green', I had problems convincing my boat management people that hydrochloric acid is a more 'environmentally friendly' toilet bowl scale remover than the "green" artificial products on the market.  Here is my argument:

---

Hello again everyone,

It came to my attention after mentioning that muriatic acid is the best solution for cleaning scaled-up toilets, that people think that muriatic acid (dilute hydrochloric acid) is environmentally noxious and that chemicals like Simple Green are harmless.

The exact opposite is true!

Hydrochloric acid is what digests the food in your stomach and consists the exact same ions that make up a significant part of seawater -- hydrogen and chlorine. (Water is hydrogen and oxygen and salt is sodium and chlorine)

Many so-called "green" cleaners are made up of complex manufactured molecules that are never found naturally in seawater -- or anywhere!

Chemical dispersants closely related to some Simple Green ingredients were implicated in environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico clean-up, found to be more harmful than the spill itself, and discontinued as being a bad idea.

While concentrated hydrochloric acid is harmful to organisms, when diluted and used up as it is after cleaning a toilet, it is no more harmful than vinegar, and, further diluted, dissociates into seawater ions!

Don't be afraid to use hydrochloric acid to clean toilets. Just be sure to send lots of water through into the tank afterwards before dumping.

Hcl is the most environmentally friendly choice -- far more so than CLR, Simple Green or any commercial cleaner.

Allen

---

(BTW, Hcl works quickly and well, and the other products do not accomplish much.  Until I told them about Hcl, they recommended replacing whole toilets because they could not get them clean. How 'environmentally friendly' is that?) .

Today, I am alone with my houseplants.  I am without my dog, and my cat has, of course, gone to 'a far better place'.  It seems a little strange not to have to let Zippy out first thing and not have her following me around the house. 

I no longer have to worry about the cat being lonely when I travel, even for a day.  I was unaware how much I did until he died and that worry went away.

I have been cutting back on my red meat and egg consumption and notice my blood sugar seems to be dropping.  It was 4.5 today and 5.4 yesterday (81 and 99 for you US folks).  That could also be due to eating mostly bean stews and salads, fruit, nuts and seeds -- or it could just be a fluke.

Enough procrastination.  It is now 0443 and I have things to do.  Besides, the computers want to reboot.  Today is Patch Tuesday, new updates have been installed and the machines are nagging me.

I spent the day repotting plants, sorting paper, doing last-minute jobs and generally getting ready. After supper a load of coal arrived and Elijah and I covered the excess with a tarp.

 I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.
Eleanor Roosevelt

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Thursday February 26th 2015
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Today I am up at a bit after 0300, getting ready to fly.  It's minus seventeen out, with a 10 MPH breeze.

I bought my ticket on Priceline and it was a bargain. The reservation is with United, but the carrier out of Calgary is Air Canada.  I tried checking in online, but the second leg of my flight, from EWR to ANU leaves tomorrow, so it cannot be done.  I wasted some time confirming by phone, but all is well, they tell me.

I arrived in Airdrie early, filled with gas, had a sandwich, and then Mike drove me to YYC.

My flight left on time at 1240 and I arrived at Newark a bit after 1900, as expected.  After a trip across the airport on the AirTrain and a half-hour wait, my shuttle arrive and shortly after I arrived at my hotel and had supper. 

Tomorrow, I need to leave here around 0700 to be sure to catch my flight at 0840.

Around noon, I'll be in Five Island, Antigua.  Will I feel much like posting here over the next two weeks?  That remains to be seen

There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem,
the more likely one will be to treat others with respect,
kindness, and generosity.
Nathaniel Branden

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Friday February 27th 2015
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Today I am up at 0500 local here in Newark, getting ready to fly another 5 hours.  My flight leaves at 0840 and it is now 0600.  I'll take the shuttle early to be sure to get to the gate in time and plan on breakfast there, not here in the hotel. EWR is another monster airport and I can see how I could get delayed along the way to my flight.

From here on out, my Internet connections may be spotty.

We boarded the plane, then disembarked and boarded another plane.  Our take-off was delayed by two hours, but we arrived only an hour late. 

I passed through immigration and caught a cab to my hotel. I reserved this hotel online and it is one of a kind.  Seems there are only a few rooms occupied, but the website says it is  full.  Go figure. Seems there are only two rooms occupied, but the website says it is full.

I spent the evening on the deck, reading. 

You can't leave a footprint that lasts if you're always walking on tiptoe.
Marion Blakely

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Saturday February 28th 2015
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This is my one full day to spend here at La Galleria.  Tomorrow, I meet Frank at Jolly Harbour. I slept in, had breakfast, and am thinking I'll go for a walk.

I walked down to the Royal Antigua Grand Hotel, seen at left in the scene from the deck here on the hill and had lunch and a swim.  The water was neither cold nor warm. Perfect.  Somehow I remembered the water here as being too warm, but today it is not.

For supper, I walked the other direction to Five Islands village.  The only 'restaurant' is a man standing under a tent with a barbeque, some picnic coolers, and a sound system rocking out tunes.  Most were in the local dialect, but some were in English.  I ordered a pork chop and salad and a beer, then sat on a crude bench with the others and waited.

The meal was excellent and I returned to the hotel for a few beers and visited on the deck with a German traveler I had met there the previous evening.  She had spent the day on a tour to Barbuda and was a bit sunburned, but said the trip was worth it.

It was such a lovely day I thought it a pity to get up.
W. Somerset Maugham

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