Week of 26 July 2010
Update: Saturday, 31 July 2010 09:15 -0400
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.
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.
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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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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