170 days of snow and counting

First day temperature slipped below freezing – October 4, 2012

First day we had snow this winter – October 23, 2012

This morning:

 

 

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Wake Up!

You have to read this, corporate malfeasance definitely suggested. Once again Europe is leading the charge, trying to save us from ourselves. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has studies that prove bee colony collapse is definitively linked to pesticides.  There is something to be said about the different regulatory regimes in North America versus Europe.  Here in North America corporations hold sway.  Despite an abundance of evidence that the fox is in the hen house govenment regulators continue to lay down and let themselves be bought to approve the purely short term and avericious desires of multi-nationals.  By far the worst offenders in my opinion are the chemical companies related to food production.

Montana bee researcher Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, had originally signed up to be an expert witness on behalf of beekeepers who brought a class-action lawsuit against Bayer in 2003. He suddenly dropped out—and immediately received a significant research grant from Bayer to study bee pollination, which has continued in recent years. It should come as no surprise that Bayer pesticides were never mentioned in the study as a potential cause of CCD …

….Beelogics, a company whose primary goal is to control colony collapse disorder, has just been bought by Monsanto. That means any research from Beelogics may now be compromised.

Pesticides Definitively Linked to Bee Colony Collapse
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According to this article nearly one-third of US cropland is planted with crops treated with neuroactive insecticides which are known to be highly toxic to bees.  Similiarily roughly one-third of crop species in the US are pollinated exclusively by honeybees, including fresh vegetables and fruits.  Half of the food supply is at risk if bees die off.

Just as in the GMO crop debate, you need to get involved.  Start by getting educated.  You need to know the extent to which chemical companies are spinning the truth and suppressing facts.  In Canada we need to speak and and demand the return of appropriate levels of oversight.  Restore the government labs, the testing facilities, protect the scientists who speak out.  Over the past 20 years we have an abysmal record. 

Food science not your thing?  Try big pharma.  Ask yourself what company, in a purely capitalism based ecomony, will purposely take action to put itself out of business.  Then ask yourself why we have not progressed in the search for cures. All we get is symptom treatments.  See all these TV commericals for prescription drugs? Want to really scare yourself sometime? Research how drugs get to market, you will find lots are invented first then the drugs companies go looking for an ailment.  Then we end up talking about pseudo-ailments like fibromyalgia and treating them with anti-depressants.

 

Downtime Blues

Since my office PC is stuck in advertised programs reboot hell and I can’t work for more than 10 minutes at a time I will spend some time updating you while I wait for the helpless desk to try to restore sanity to my laptop.

I hooked up the Intuos and started doodling in Illustrator again recently. Nothing I want to share at this point but I have a couple of ideas I am working on. One is a series of graphics depicting some word plays. I am such a fan of word plays; double entendres, puns, rhymes, you name it. I’ll have to see how it works out. If it gets some legs I will post it here in the future.

The laundry room reno is turning out awesome. A couple of days on the finishing tasks and it should be complete. I really HAVE to get to the small stuff like trim and doors if I want to shake the moniker I got this winter – Sir Partialval, Knight of the Unfinished Table. As soon as this room is done I have to get to the spare room and the shop, and at some point if I don’t build the new TV stand I will be sleeping in the garage where the rosewood lumber I bought for the project is still sitting.

Outside I think I finally got the ice dams on the roof under control. Two trips up the ladder with an axe and then a third with a hose hooked to the hot water tap and the ceiling in the office is dry. Temperature this weekend is supposed to be above 0C so let’s hope so. No way am I looking for another drywalling opportunity. As it is I probably need to do shingles this spring, the roof looks bad. I also wonder about my neighbor’s roof. I was snow-blowing his sidewalk yesterday and noticed he must have over four feet of snow on this roof. Wow, what a winter this has been.

Well, the PC is still pooched, but it’s conference call time, so later gators.

Etchings

Sitting around half watching Canadian Pickers, half playing on iPad. Downloaded an app called Etchings the other day, here are a couple of examples.

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Oakley on a Stamp
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Yellow Creek Bridge as an ink and watercolour

Merry Christmas

The kids all show up later today for our traditional Christmas Eve. Tomorrow they will be with their own families or with their spouses families, so we do Christmas Eve.  A smaller gathering this year, with no Mom, Eric or Chelsea. Cass and Dave are brining Finn, so he should easily fill the spaces.

Once again the weatherman has managed to give us 30 below for holidays.  Tomorrow night’s forecasted low is -32°.  Thank goodness for remote start!  We are changing thing up a bit for Christmas Day, going over to Kyle and Tara’s for supper.  First Christmas Day I had to get out of my pyjamas in many a year. Another new family starting their new traditions.

Hope your day is filled with friends and family and is happy.

 

Merry Christmas 

 

Goodbye my friend

I found out that a friend passed away today. Maybe not a friend by the standard definition. We did not hang out together. I never knew the name of his daughter. I don’t think I ever spent a minute with him that was not in one of our respective offices. He was a colleague and a customer.

Yet I find myself very saddened by the news. I enjoyed every moment I spent with him. If ever there was a man with joy in his heart it was him. Always a big smile. Always a joke to end the meeting. Even when he was grinding me on a price it was always with a “do it for the kids, Mel” and a twinkle in his eye.

He was a small island of sanity in a sea of conflicting priorities, lack of resources, and over-stressed coworkers all trying to meet seemingly unrealistic expectations. I always admired and appreciated his ability to make a quick decision and his tendency for expediency over politics.

So even though I am what others might consider to be only an acquaintance, I feel as though I lost a friend. Maybe everyone who ever met him feels the same.

October is Gadget Month

If I were to look back over the last few years it seems that October is gadget month for me. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is that summer and all the yard work and running back and forth to the lake is done so I have extra time (and money) to find and buy stuff. Maybe it is that payroll taxes like CPP and EI premiums are maxed on and I have extra cash. Whatever the reason this year is no different.

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Tonight I finished installing my swanky new Nest thermostat. It would have been last night except for the need to replace the old wiring. I ordered this prerelease a couple of months ago and it has been sitting on my dining room table for two weeks waiting for me to install it.

Self learning programming, motion sensing, Internet connected for remote management, it is the perfect gadget for me. I can’t wait to see how much it tells me I saved by having a night and away lower temperature program that actually works with our erratic bedtime schedule. Adjustable from an app on my iPad I can sit comfortably back on the couch and control the heat without getting up, leaving me more time to play with my other new gadget, the Harmony Touch remote, but that’s a story for another day.

Classic Someone Must Pay Scenario

Italy has never been an exemplar of cool headed thinking and calm rational response. They are more often categorized as hot blooded, emotionally driven. Case in point this week is the conviction of six scientists and a government official to six years in jail for failing to warn citizens of a 2009 earthquake.

They were convicted even though the prosecutor acknowledges that earthquakes are impossible to predict. Current models forecast the potential for an earthquake within a period of decades. Even if these scientists said that there was a 100% chance of an earthquake they could not say with any certainty when it would happen. What did the Italian court want them to do? Did they really think it would be reasonable to evacuate a region for ten, twenty, thirty or more years until something happened?

What if they scientists issued a warning that said there was a 90% chance of an earthquake happening in the next 8 weeks? Would they have evacuated then? If it did not happen, would the courts then be looking to hold the same six scientists financially accountable for economic impact of shutting a place down for several weeks?

The conviction is a travesty. Thousands of researchers, geologists, and other scientists and scientific organizations around the world are speaking up against this conviction and writing to Italy’s president to step in. For Italy’s sake let’s hope he does.