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Week of 26 July 2010


Latest Update: Saturday, 31 July 2010 09:15 -0400

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Monday, 26 July 2010
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15:24 - I've been working on lab-related stuff all day, but not in the lab. Tomorrow is a lab day. I need to make up 500 mL each of 25 or 30 bench reagents and assemble a prototype homeschool chemistry lab kit. Actually, probably two or three different kits. One for students who won't go on to major in college in a science. One for first-year chemistry for students who will go on to major in science. And one for second-year advanced chemistry. The first two take priority. Building the kits will be an iterative process. Designing, writing up, and performing lab sessions. Deciding what's missing from the kits and what's there but doesn't need to be. Eventually, shooting videos of various stuff. I'm going to be busy with all this for some time to come.


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Tuesday, 27 July 2010
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Wednesday, 28 July 2010
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08:07 - I got a late start in the lab yesterday, and my session ended up being cut short. I'd made up half a dozen bench solutions in an hour or so, when Malcolm walked into my lab. He never comes in there. As he entered the lab, I heard a rumble of thunder, which explained his presence. Malcolm has become terrified of thunderstorms. Like all of our Border Collies, he pretty much ignored them as a young dog, but as he aged he became more and more concerned about them.

I looked around for spare pair of lab goggles, but I couldn't find any that would fit Malcolm. Rules are rules, so I shut down and took Malcolm elsewhere.


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Thursday, 29 July 2010
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Friday, 30 July 2010
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08:30 - Yesterday was the day from hell. When we signed up for VoIP service from Phone Power in January 2008, our initial experience was good. Some months later, we picked up the phone one day and had no dial-tone. I worked through that via web-chat with their tech support folks, and whatever the problem was seemed to go away. Weeks or months later, it happened again. That time, I solved the problem just by powering the terminal adapter down, waiting 30 seconds, and powering it back up again.

Maybe six or eight months ago, it started to happen every week or two. Each time, the problem was solved just by power-resetting the terminal adapter. That's annoying, but wouldn't really be much of a problem except that with her dad being 88 years old, Barbara obviously wants reliable phone service. But for the last several days, our phone service has been dropping daily. So yesterday morning I called Phone Power tech support again.

I had been running the terminal adapter in a DMZ behind the router. The tech support guy said that generally worked, but they had had some problems with the TA losing registration in that environment. He recommended again that I reconfigure my network to put the TA between the cable modem and the router. So I did that, and everything worked. For about half an hour. Then, as I was working along and clicked on a link, Firefox timed out. I'd apparently lost Internet service. I looked down, and the lights on the cable modem weren't right. So, having no phone or web, I walked over to a neighbor's house to call Time-Warner tech support. They checked the line and said everything was normal. Which indeed it was, once I disconnected the VoIP TA and reset the router.

So, for the next several hours, I reconfigured and re-reconfigured things, quickly getting to the you-can't-get-back-there-from-here state. Finally, with the VoIP TA plugged directly into the cable modem, I called Phone Power and canceled service. I've signed up with Time-Warner Cable for VoIP phone service--at least I'll have someone local to yell at if it doesn't work--but the first installation date available is in three weeks. So we're headed out tomorrow to buy a cell phone for me. I should probably have one anyway, although I seldom leave the house. I looked around, and decided to go with the same cell service Barbara has: Boost Mobile pay-as-you-go, which is a flat ten cents a minute, with no contract. So, for the next three weeks, we're a cell-only household.

But at least the book is finished.


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Saturday, 31 July 2010
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09:15 - Malcolm caught his first cat yesterday. We were walking Malcolm and stopped to talk to our neighbor, Heather, who was working on her flowerbed out at the curb. As we stood there, Malcolm noticed their cat, Psycho Bob, lying on the walk up near their front door. Malcolm took off, running and barking. Barbara dropped the leash to avoid being pulled off her feet. Malcolm charged up toward the cat, which sat there calmly waiting. Malcolm circled the cat, keeping about a meter away, bouncing up and down on his front legs and barking the whole time. The cat waved its front paw at Malcolm, but otherwise ignored him.

Probably fortunately for the cat. Border Collies have had all the kill instinct bred out of them, but they will defend themselves (and their pack members, including us). I remember the time Duncan spotted a squirrel in our neighbor's yard. He charged the squirrel, which immediately took off running for a tree about five meters away. The squirrel had no chance. As a young dog, Duncan was about as fast as a greyhound. He overran the squirrel, knocking it rolling. The squirrel then made a serious blunder: it decided to fight. It sat up on its haunches, and when Duncan stuck his snout in to examine the squirrel more closely, it promptly bit Duncan in the nose. Duncan grabbed the squirrel, shook it once, and that was that for the squirrel.

Had Psycho Bob clawed Malcolm, I suspect Malcolm would have bitten Bob's head off, literally. Heather and Steve have an exaggerated faith in Psycho Bob's ability to defend himself. I don't doubt that Bob is a fearsome cat, but come on. He's a house cat. He has no serious weapons, at least not against an opponent Malcolm's size. A tiny little mouth with tiny little teeth, and paws with tiny little claws. Malcolm, on the other hand, outweighs Bob by a factor of about seven, and has jaws that could bite a broomstick in half. In a fight between a good little guy and a good big guy, always bet on the big guy.


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Sunday, 1 August 2010
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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.