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Week of 12 October 2009


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Monday, 12 October 2009
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09:00 - Barbara is due back this afternoon, so Malcolm and I are both happy. She needs some time away periodically, when she can just relax and not have to worry about taking care of the house, not to mention me and Malcolm.

I'm still working on Science Room articles, stuff for Maker Shed, and configuring science kits for Christmas and for Maker Faire next year. Today, I'm inoculating some prepared Petri dishes, hoping to grow some photogenic cultures. I'll expose a couple of dishes to the open air for an hour in the den (where there's an air cleaner) and outdoors. I was also going to swab the inside of the toilet bowl and Malcolm's mouth to compare the cultures that grow from those two sources. The toilet bowl was cooperative. Malcolm kept trying to eat the swab, so I guess I'll substitute my computer keyboard or my telephone for Malcolm's mouth.

One of my big problems in writing up these articles and shooting videos is that I think, write, and speak as a scientist, e.g., "5 mL of hydrochloric acid was transferred to the reaction vessel ..." instead of "I transferred 5 mL of hydrochloric acid to the flask", or, better still, "pour in 5 mL of hydrochloric acid." I sent a copy of a rough draft of the bacteria culturing insert to the Make team yesterday. Dan Woods mailed back to say it was comprehensive but needed a little punching up. And he's right.

I thought of me the other night when Barbara and I were watching one of the Bones series 4 DVDs. Here's a short clip from one of the episodes that shows Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan and her father, who's a top-notch science teacher, interacting with several kids. As I watched it, I realized I come across like Bones, when what I need to do is come across like her dad.

And before anyone points it out, I realize the "science" in this clip is totally bogus; it shows reflection rather than refraction (not to mention a *very* slow light beam), and the reason the light beam is visible is the Tyndall Effect (scattering of a light beam in a colloid) rather than the Jell-O "molecules" being "close together".


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Tuesday, 13 October 2009
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10:16 - I know I do go on about fundamentalist religious nutters, but they really are crazier and more dangerous than most people can bring themselves to believe. Here's an example of advice for young people from the Watchtower, published by the nutcase Jehovah's Witnesses.


Note bullet point two. "A well-intentioned teacher urges you to pursue higher education at a university." Quelle horreur, that anyone would dare to encourage a young person to pursue a university education. The Dark Ages called. They want their religion back.


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Wednesday, 14 October 2009
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12:14 - I'm cranking away on editing videos. I don't much like the Mac, so I decided to take another look at some of the non-linear editing software available for Linux. I think I've settled on Cinelerra, one I'd considered before but originally rejected because it looked too complicated. I liked the looks of it the first time I looked at NLE's for Linux, but it has so many options that I thought I'd never be able to master it well enough to do simple video editing. From reading comments from people who edit video for a living, it seems that Cinelerra compares favorably in features and power with professional video editing packages like Adobe Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro.

After working with it for a couple of hours this morning, I still have no clue what most of the features are for, but at least I think I've gotten to the point where I can use it for simple editing. I'm sure I'll figure out more of its features as I go along. One nice thing is that simple rendering of .dv files to .mov or .mpg format is nearly real-time on my quad-processor system. That is, rendering a two-minute .dv clip to .mov or .mpg takes only a couple minutes. That means I can play around quite a bit without wasting too much time.


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Thursday, 15 October 2009
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09:25 - Autumn has arrived here in the last few days. Yesterday, the high didn't make it much above 50 F (10 C), with a constant drizzle, and the low tomorrow night is to be in the upper 30s (~4 C). Malcolm always turns frisky with the lower temperatures. Well, friskier.

I'm still shooting and editing video.


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Friday, 16 October 2009
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Saturday, 17 October 2009
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Sunday, 18 October 2009
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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.