Week of 5 January 2009
Update: Saturday, 10 January 2009 08:35 -0500
Barbara very seldom uses her cellphone, so it made sense to get her
a prepaid cellular phone. She's had it for years. Every 90 days, she'd add $25 to her
AT&T Go Phone account, which bought her 100 minutes or so of air
time and rolled over any unused air time. At last count, she had
something like $350 in unused air time that we just kept rolling over.
Until last week, when we were supposed to refresh the account and
forgot to do so. Oh, well. It wasn't like she could cash in the
Rather than restart her existing account with
$25 of air time, I asked her if she'd like to get a new phone and new
service. Her current phone is something like 5 years old, so it made
sense to do so. After looking at the various offerings, I settled on
Boost Mobile, which is the Sprint/Nextel prepaid cellular. The basic
deal is $20 plus tax and the usual rip-off "government fees" every 90
days for 200 minutes of air time, debited at $0.10/minute and
billed in minute increments. Barbara probably averages 10 minutes
of air time per month, so this should work well for her.
They had various
phones available, but Barbara wanted the simplest model. She doesn't
care about text messaging, Internet access, ring tones, or any of that
other stuff, so we went with the basic $30 i425t phone
- Heads down work on the forensics book the rest of this week.
just got an email from Mack Camera saying that my camcorder has been
shipped back to me. Finally. We sent it off on 26 November.
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
Still working heads-down on the forensics book. I should finish the
rewrite today on chapters 12 (forensic toxicology) and 13 (gunshot,
explosives, and metal residues). After that, I'll get started on
chapters 14 (detecting forgeries and fakes) and 15 (forensic biology).
Then I'll be shooting images, incorporating tech review comments, and
so on, until it's ready to go to production.
UPS showed up with my camcorder, back from repair, six weeks to the day
that Brian and Barbara sent it off. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm
sure it'll be fine. Canon replaced the main circuit board, and says
they tested all functions. While the dogs were still grumbling about
the recently-departed UPS truck, what should pull up out front but a
FedEx truck with Barbara's new cell phone on it. I'm charging it up now.
just exchanged email with my editor, who says he has lots of chapters
from me, but not many of the images. So for the next few days, I'm
going to be shooting images to send to him so that the production folks
will have more to chew on.
Barbara's new cell phone is working, kind of. We still need to figure
out all the bells and whistles. When I activated it last night, I asked
the guy about turning off text messaging. He said the only option was
to go into profiles and set "Receive from contacts only" to true. I did
that, but now when I try to call Barbara's phone it goes straight to
voicemail. Apparently, that option means not only that text messages
are accepted only from the contacts list, but voice calls as well. I'll
have to look into it. I really do hate technology.
Today I'm shooting images.
Saturday, 10 January
Although I had the best of intentions, I never did get around to
posting yesterday. Today, Barbara and I will be shooting lots of images
for the forensics book.
Sometimes it takes a lot longer to shoot
an image than I thought it would. For example, late yesterday afternoon
I was going to shoot a couple of photomicrographs for chapter 14
(Detecting Forged Documents). One of the methods used to discriminate
paper samples from each other is to stain them using special dyes and
then observe the effect of those dyes on the different types of fibers
in the paper samples. I wanted to use two stains, called Herzberg's
stain and Jenk's stain.
I thought I had everything I needed to
make up both stains, so I headed down to the lab to make a few mL of
each. I found I was missing one of the required chemicals for each
stain: I was fresh out of zinc chloride for the Herzberg's stain and I
never have had any magnesium chloride, which is required for
Jenk's stain. Zinc sulfate I have, and zinc nitrate. I think I even
have some zinc acetate. But no zinc chloride. I have several pounds of
magnesium sulfate (also called Epsom salts) and magnesium nitrate, but
no magnesium chloride.
The zinc chloride is easy enough. I can
just react some mossy zinc metal with hydrochloric acid to produce it.
I'd do the same with magnesium, but I have only a small amount of
magnesium metal. So it looks like I'll have to make up magnesium
chloride from magnesium sulfate. That means dissolving the magnesium
sulfate in water, precipitating magnesium carbonate by adding a
solution of sodium carbonate, and then reacting the magnesium carbonate
with hydrochloric acid, which yields pure magnesium chloride and carbon
dioxide gas. I'll then dry the zinc chloride and magnesium chloride,
and finally have what I need to make up both stains, which I need to
have in order to take two images for the book. Geez.
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