Week of 2 June 2008
Update: Friday, 6 June 2008 13:43 -0500
I had to renew my driver's license this morning. I turn 55 years old on
Friday (although I prefer to think of it as 0x37), and North Carolina
driver's licenses are renewable every five years on birthdays with
years ending in 0 or 5. At least I won't have to do this again for five
years, when I'll be turning 0x3C.
For some reason, although DMV
makes appointments, hardly anyone bothers to take advantage of that. I
did, as I've done every time my license came due for renewal. I arrived
a couple minutes before my 0830 appointment time, walked up to the
desk, and told them who I was. They gave me a little slip of paper
numbered C601 and told me to have a seat. There was a big red LED
display at the front of the waiting area that said they were currently
serving A147 at station 1 and so on for the other two stations. I
waited literally less than a minute in an area with at least a couple
of dozen other people holding little number slips. As a station
finished up, they put C601 next to it on the display and called my name
on the PA system. I was in and out in less than ten minutes with my new
Two changes this time: on my last license, my hair
color was listed as red and there were no restrictions. On the new one,
my hair color is listed as gray and it says I have to wear corrective
lenses. Oh, well. I've worn glasses to drive for 10 years or more, so
nothing really changed.
should be home sometime this afternoon. The dogs and I are both looking
forward to it. As usual, the dogs have behaved badly the whole time
Barbara has been gone.
Malcolm frequently assaults Duncan at the
best of times, but he's been doing it much more often while she's been
gone. Duncan's back end is very weak anyway, so having Malcolm charge
into him and knock him over after he's just struggled to his feet is
very frustrating. Understandably, Duncan sometimes takes exception to
being attacked, and then we have a snarly fangy confrontation that
Duncan is destined to lose. I have to wade in shouting at them and
separate them like a couple of toddlers.
And Duncan has reached
the stage that all of our old Border Collies reach, when he's decided
that we're trying to poison him when we give him pills. For a long
time, rolling the pills up in lunch meat worked, but he's gotten wise
to that. He eats the lunchmeat and spits out the pills. We've tried
everything, and he simply refuses to take pills.
Barbara has to pry open his mouth and stuff the pills down his throat.
Barbara can get away with that, because the dogs consider her to be the
pack leader. I won't attempt to stuff pills down his throat, because
Duncan doesn't like me much at the best of times. If I tried to stuff
pills down his throat, he'd bite me.
Barbara got some pill
pockets from the pet supply place. They're soft dog treats with a
little pocket to put pills into. Those work pretty well for Barbara,
but Duncan gave me a hard time about taking pills even with the pill
pockets. In fact, at one point he even refused to take a dog treat from
me. One way or another, I managed to get him to take all his morning
and evening pills, but it was a struggle.
At one point, I
decided to try assembling my own pill pockets. Duncan loves Alpo Snaps,
which are little square, flat dog treats. So I used peanut butter to
glue a pill to the top of the snap. I offered it to him, and he
grudgingly accepted it and then immediately spit it out. I offered it
to him again, he took it, and spit it out. After two or three more
iterations, I yelled at him to eat the treat. He took it, crunched away
at it, and swallowed. And then spit out the pill.
I'm really looking forward to Barbara getting home.
Barbara is back. The dogs are happy. I'm happy. She had a good time at
the beach and was able to relax, which is a good thing. She just left
for work, and I'm sure she'll be covered up, but the good thing is that
this will be a four-day week for her.
We went over to our
neighbor's house yesterday afternoon to deliver Shane's birthday
presents, the Smithsonian Megascience Kit and (at Mimi's request) a
copy of the home chemistry book. It felt strange handing a copy of that
book to a boy who just turned five years old, but he's a very bright
kid, and it won't be too many years until he's actually ready for it.
changed hats and am back to working on the forensics book, which I've
missed working on. I hope to get another chapter knocked out this week,
but that'll depend on how things go in the lab.
I rejoined Netflix on 11 May, and the Netflix throttle-weasels have
started already. I should be getting three discs today. Instead, I'm
getting only two, with the third one shipping today.
ship that one to arrive tomorrow, I'll let this first minor throttling
pass, as I always do, and return both of today's discs in one envelope.
If they ship the disc today to arrive Friday or later, I'll return both
of today's discs in separate envelopes. That always seems to work. I'm
convinced that they keep track of people who return two discs in one
envelope to save them return postage.
Although that doesn't
sound like much, it adds up. Over the course of a month, they probably
break even on me if I return two discs in one envelope as often as
possible. If I return all of them in separate envelopes, they lose
money on me. People like me are Netflix's worst nightmare, but if
they're going to promote their service as "unlimited" there's not much
they can say when people take them at their word.
as I got back into the forensics book, my editor told me he thinks I
should do an article for MAKE Magazine that ties to the chemistry book.
So I'm working on that today.
It seems the Democratic Party is suicidal. They quickly narrowed down
the list of potential candidates to Clinton--the most hated woman in
America and one for whom a majority of US voters would never vote under
any circumstances--and Barack Hussein Obama, who is even less
electable. Fortunately for the Democrats, they have a third candidate
who is electable and will almost certainly be elected, John McCain.
now it appears that Clinton will suspend her campaign, leaving the
nomination to Barack Hussein Obama. This despite the fact that Clinton
has won a majority of the popular vote during the primaries, and has
slaughtered Obama in the Electoral College. And it's worse still when
you look state-by-state at the results. Clinton has won states like
California that the Democrats might actually carry in the general
election. The bulk of Obama's Electoral votes during the primaries have
come from states that he has zero chance of carrying in the general
So, it looks like it'll be Barack Hussein Obama versus
John McCain in the general election. Barring a major screw-up by
McCain, I expect a landslide reminiscent of 1972. Literally the
majority of registered Democrats will probably either vote for McCain
or, at best, stay home.
And there's an easy way for McCain to
ensure a landslide victory. Considering that Barack Hussein Obama is on
the extreme left and that both McCain and Clinton are mid- to far-left,
all that McCain has to do is invite Clinton to be his Vice Presidential
candidate. A McCain/Clinton ticket gets essentially all the votes, from
the far right (who else can they vote for, Obama?) to the mid/far left.
course, if McCain chooses Clinton as his running mate, he'll need to
watch his back, literally. She'd have McCain assassinated in a second,
if she thought she could get away with that shortcut to becoming
President. If I were McCain, I wouldn't accept any food or drink from
As for me, I'll be damned if I'll vote for any of these
slime. I'll vote for Ron Paul, even if I have to write his name on the
My apologies to Senator McCain. Ron Morse and I spoke a little while
ago about the PC hardware book, and Ron pointed out that Senator McCain
is anything but an empty suit. Anyone who did what McCain did--refusing
to be released from a North Vietnamese prison camp until everyone who
had been there longer had first been freed--has my respect and
admiration for his personal qualities. My contempt is directed at
Clinton and Obama, who are both intellectually and morally dishonest,
not at Mr. McCain.
I disagree strongly with Mr. McCain's
politics, but I have only respect for him as a person. Mr. McCain is
honest, and his integrity is beyond question. For that reason alone,
given only the choice between him and either Clinton or Obama, anyone
who would vote other than for McCain is nuts. I have no argument with
anyone who votes for McCain. I will still vote for Ron Paul, however. I
agree substantially with his politics, and Dr. Paul is also honest and
of unquestionable integrity.
Happy Birthday to Me. Today I turn 55 decimal or, as I prefer to think
of it, 0x37. Or, as Elaine Boosler would put it, twenty-thirty-five.
has been promoting the Home Chemistry book, and their efforts are
developing some buzz. For example, earlier this week Greg Laden posted
a good review of the book on Scienceblogs.com, and just this morning John Baichtal posted another good review on GeekDad. I hope the book's momentum continues. By all early indications it seems to be sustaining that momentum.
The Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments is the second in the O'Reilly/MAKE DIY Science Illustrated Guide series, following our Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders, which was published last autumn. The third and fourth books in the series will be the Illustrated Guide to Home Forensics Investigations, which Barbara and I are co-authoring, and the Illustrated Guide to Home Physics Experiments by Tom Sgouros, who was the editor of the Home Chemistry book.
Brian Jepson, my primary editor, pointed out, it's important to get
this series filled out, because the books are mutually supporting. We
want enthusiasts and hobbyists to be able to pick and choose among a
wide variety of top-notch DIY Science titles, and we want home
schoolers (and public schoolers whose schools don't provide hands-on
lab work) to have available a complete range of hands-on science lab
books that covers their entire curricula.
When I finish the
forensics book, the next books I want to do are hands-on lab titles for
biology and earth science, although if the chemistry book does as well
as it appears it may do O'Reilly/MAKE may want me to do a follow-on
advanced chemistry title. Eventually, I also want to do an introductory
science title aimed at early middle-schoolers, those in 6th or 7th
All of this is very challenging, because when I write a
book my goal is not merely to write the best book I can write, but to
write the best book available on the topic. That's not easy.
- MAKE just posted a video of me
at Maker Faire. In the video, I'm demonstrating how to get around the
DEA restrictions on iodine. I'm embarrassed to see that I wasn't
wearing goggles while I did the demonstration. In my defense, I was
running on very little sleep. Also, you may notice that my voice sounds
very scratchy. That's because just a few minutes before Kip shot this
video, I'd been doing demonstrations for a larger group, during one of
which I managed to gas myself with chlorine. While Kip was shooting
this video, I was constantly attempting not to cough.
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Robert