09:42 - Barbara and her family finally got on the road late yesterday afternoon. They broke their trip in Roanoke, and will finish the drive this morning. Her dad is still on IV vancomycin, which she has to administer at 9:00 p.m. daily. Colin and I are missing her, but we’re surviving so far.
Last night, we watched several more episodes of Heartland. Well, I watched, while Colin mostly pestered me to throw his toys down the hall. I wouldn’t mind if he’d just bring them to me and drop them so that I could pick them up and throw them. But that’s not enough participation to satisfy him. He brings them, drops them, and as soon as I reach for them, he grabs them away from me and then stands there whining at me. Very annoying.
Despite our mutual kidding, there aren’t really any speech characteristics that allow one to discriminate reliably between Canadians and Americans. Yes, there’s the “ou” diphthong, which most (not all) Americans pronounce to rhyme with “cow” and most (not all) Canadians pronounce to kind of rhyme with “loose”. But there are many Americans who use the “Canadian” pronunciation, and vice versa.
So, on my first pass through the five seasons of Heartland, I thought I’d discovered a speech difference. On three or four occasions, one of the characters was referring to his or her school days and used a construct that strikes American ears as strange. Where an American would say, “my third-grade teacher”, Canadians apparently instead say, “my grade-three teacher”. I thought I’d discovered something.
Then, last night as I re-watched episode six of series three, Lou was telling Amy, Ty, and Scott in detail how much work was involved in caring for an orphaned foal. Scott (the vet) asked her how she knew so much about it, and she replied that she’d done a “sixth-grade” project on the subject. Oh, well.
We ended up shipping six kits yesterday, four chemistry and two biology. So far today, we have only one order. That’s actually a bit of a relief, considering that our finished-goods inventory is now down to only four biology kits and five chemistry kits. So yesterday afternoon I brought 30 almost-complete biology kits up from the basement. They’re now sitting in the kitchen, where I’ll complete final assembly today and stack them in the finished-goods inventory area. Once I finish that, I’ll start assembling another 30 chemistry kits, followed by yet another 30 chemistry kits. Then it’s 30 forensic science kits. Lather, rinse, repeat.
12:18 - When I shipped our first science kit to Canada a month or so ago, I had to drive to the post office to have the box weighed. Even though I was shipping the box International Priority Mail flat-rate, the customs documents required an actual weight for the box. So, the other day I finally got around to ordering a shipping scale from Amazon.com, which arrived yesterday and which I used for the first time today.
The main reason I put off ordering a shipping scale so long was that I figured it’d be expensive and I didn’t really have time to do any comparisons before ordering. So I was shocked when I found a perfectly suitable scale from a good manufacturer on Amazon for $35. It’s the American Weigh Ship-Elite. It has a capacity of 50 kilos/110 pounds and resolution of 0.1 ounce across that range. The metric resolution is 1 gram up to 20 kilos and 2 grams from 20 to 50 kilos. It runs on two AA cells or the included AC adaptor, and has a remote read-out on a coiled cord.
I may actually use it in the lab as well. For example, one of the solutions included in the biology kit requires dissolving 1.5 kilos of dipotassium hydrogen phosphate in 15 liters of water. Weighing out 1,500 grams of something on a lab scale with a capacity of 200 grams is a pain in the butt. With this scale, I can weigh it in one pass, and know that I have between 1499 and 1501 grams, which at ± 0.07% is certainly close enough.
13:24 - Geez, I’d forgotten what a pain in the ass it is to pack biology kits. I was wondering the other day why we’d made a second set of goggles an option with the chemistry kits, but not the biology kits. Now I remember. When all of the components of a biology kit are in the box, there’s no room for anything more. Nothing. Not even a packing peanut. I’m even opening the ziplock bags to squeeze excess air out. These biology kits are, in the words of Veronica Mars (referring to game hens), “dense little turkeys“.