Week of 15 September 2008
Update: Friday, 19 September 2008 10:42 -0500
Monday, 15 September
I upgraded Barbara's system yesterday from Kubuntu 6.04 to Kubuntu
8.04. It took a lot longer than it should have, and it was because I
tried to save a few moments.
Every morning, as part of my
routine backup procedure, I create a tar.gz archive of Barbara's home
directory and copy it to a USB flash drive. I did that yesterday
morning, and then I thought to myself that I could save myself a few
minutes by copying her home directory directly to another USB flash
drive rather than waiting the minute or two it would take to unarchive
the tar.gz file. So I did that, and when I'd finished the bare-metal
install of Kubuntu 8.04, I copied her home directory from the second
flash drive up to a scratch directory.
She'd been running
Firefox 2.x and I'd forgotten that Firefox 3.x uses a different format
for its bookmarks. Once I remembered that, it was easy enough to import
her old bookmarks. Then came her mail. We both use Kmail, and Barbara's
mail files are in /home/barbara/mail. So I fired up Kmail to let it
create directories, and then copied over her old mail files.
would have worked, except for one thing. The flash drive to which I did
the direct copy is formatted FAT, so not all of her files ended up
being written to it. When I fired up Kmail again there were a bunch of
messages listed in the messages pane, but when she clicked on them they
simply disappeared. The index file made it over, but the actual mail
files didn't. Or at least some of them didn't.
The solution was
easy enough once I realized what was going on. I just copied the
original tar.gz archive file that I'd made immediately before I started
the upgrade to a scratch directory, unarchived it, and copied all of
the files to her mail directory. Voila. All her mail was back.
this point, her system is about 99% complete. I still haven't managed
to make her PDA sync, but that's a minor issue. All her major stuff is
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Early start this morning. Barbara's dad is having knee-replacement
surgery today. She's picking her parents up this morning and taking
them to the hospital. It's a routine procedure, to the extent that any
surgery is routine, especially for a man of 86. I expect they'll keep
her dad hospitalized for several days.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Long day for Barbara yesterday. She left the house around 6:45 a.m. and
didn't get home until about 9:00 p.m. Her dad's knee-replacement
surgery went fine. He's been moved to the Sticht Center where he'll
remain for a few days of continuous physical therapy. After he returns
home, they'll send a physical therapist to work with him at home until
he's able to do the therapy exercises on his own.
going to work through lunch today and leave at 4:00 p.m. to visit her
dad in the hospital. She'll get home a bit later than usual, about the
time she normally gets home on a gym night. This is all very stressful
for her, so we'll try to keep things as normal as possible.
showed up yesterday with the package from Seattle Pottery Supply. As I
expected, the chemicals are packed in paper or plastic bags. It's
impossible to estimate purity accurately solely by appearance, but the
ones I looked at appeared to be very clean. I'll do a quick
quantitative analysis on each of them.
Thursday, 18 September 2008
yesterday morning, the phone rang. It was Kim, and I could tell she was
flustered. As it turned out, Jasmine had written a report that was due
for an 11:00 a.m. class, but she'd forgotten to print a copy to take to
school with her. Kim couldn't get the document to print, so I headed
over to Kim's house to get it printed for her so she could deliver it to the school.
was going to save a copy of the document to a USB flash drive so that
Kim could take an electronic copy as well as the printed copy to
Jasmine, but when I clicked on the menu there was no option to
save, but only to save-as. Oh, boy. Jas had written a 12-page report
and never saved it to disk at all.
couple years ago, I gave Jas a 1 GB USB flash drive, which was
large at the time. Kim has since bought her another. I asked Kim if Jas
was using her flash drives to back up, and Kim said she
didn't think so. I told Kim I needed to explain to Jas about
saving early and often and about hard drive
failures and data loss, and show Jas how to back up her stuff to
optical discs and her USB flash drives.
While we were walking
the dogs after dinner last night, I stopped by to talk briefly to Jas
about protecting her work. I explained that hard drives fail like light
bulbs, and that if she didn't back up the day would come, probably
sooner than later, when she'd have cause for deep regret. As always,
Jas was polite, but I could tell that she wasn't taking my advice to
heart. I'm afraid Jasmine is going to learn the hard way about the
importance of saving and backing up.
And that's okay. I've
always believed that pain is a good teacher. Protecting kids from
painful mistakes is a bad idea, as long as there's no real injury
involved. Jas is a bright kid. She's going to get burned, but it'll
only happen once. And that's a small price to pay for learning an
Just as I published this morning, the Lowes delivery truck showed up.
They delivered the new cooktop, vent hood, and disposer, but not the
dishwasher. The guy said he'd check into it and get back to me. The
counter people are coming tomorrow morning to "template" the new
counter, which I assume is a fancy way of saying they're going to
measure for it.
has been quite worried about her dad, who didn't seem to be doing as
well as she'd hoped. Originally, she'd expected him to go home Friday,
but last night she said she thought he might be staying in the hospital
for several more days. When I talked to her this morning, she said he's
doing much better, so he may go home tomorrow or Saturday after
I just spent an
hour or so cleaning up my lab, mostly washing glassware. It needs
another couple of hours work, but at least I have some work space
again. This is why real chemists have lab assistants.
Friday, 19 September 2008
- From two years ago today...
Arrrrrr! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
I was looking around for a photo I have of our friend Mary Chervenak
wearing a pirate eyepatch and with a parrot on her shoulder--actually,
it's a small stuffed baby duck, but we did the best we could--but I
couldn't find it. Oh, wait, here it is. Arrrrrr!
Duncan's rear end is in bad shape. He doesn't have hip dysplasia, but
something more akin to osteoarthritis. We've known since he was a puppy
that he'd eventually have problems with his rear hips. Our former vet,
Sue Stephens, X-rayed his hips when he was young and said that the
socket was shallow.
Now, with Duncan almost 14 years old, I'm
afraid the socket portion is nearly gone, between wear-and-tear and
loss of bone mass similar to osteoporesis. I think I'm going to ask our
vet about strontium treatment. An experimental drug called strontium
ranelate is in wide use around the world, although it's not approved by
the FDA. The results are quite impressive, including among women over
80 years old, for whom other osteoporesis treatments are largely
Interestingly, in most current drugs, it's the
anion that's the active agent, but with strontium ranelate it's the
strontium cation. That made me wonder why they chose the ranelate salt
specifically. Apparently, it has to do with minimizing gastric upset,
but based on what little I know I would expect the chloride or citrate
salts to be equally effective and no more likely to cause gastric upset.
patentability was the issue, because strontium ranelate is a very
expensive drug. Strontium chloride is inexpensive, has low
toxicity, and is widely used for such purposes as toothpaste for
sensitive teeth. Strontium citrate is also inexpensive, and is
available OTC in moderately high dosages as a nutritional supplement.
I'll do some checking into use of strontium in canines, although there
may be little or no data available.
Saturday, 20 September
Sunday, 21 September
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Robert