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Week of 8 September 2008

Latest Update: Friday, 12 September 2008 09:40 -0500

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Monday, 8 September 2008
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08:35 - Barbara spent a couple hours over the weekend removing the tile backsplash over the kitchen counter. We went to Lowes and bought the new kitchen faucet. Now we have to wait until the dishwasher, cook top, range hood, and disposer are delivered, and the dishwasher is installed. At that point, we can schedule the first visit from the counter people, who'll make the template from which the new counter will be molded. They insist that all of the components be present before they'll come out to make final measurements.

Once that happens, we wait for them to actually make the new counter top, which can take as much as three weeks, depending on their schedule. A day or two before they're scheduled to install the new counter, we'll rip out the old one. We could have had them rip out the old counter, but they charge $10 per square foot. The guy at Lowes said that it's easy enough to do and that most people do it themselves, so we decided to do it.

I spent most of last week writing up articles and labs for the homechemlab.com subscriber supplement. I finished the October issue, nearly all of the November issue, and a good part of the December issue. I haven't actually done most of the labs yet because I'm waiting on raw materials for several of the syntheses to arrive. I ordered the following Friday from Seattle Pottery Supply.

Code           Name                                    Quantity     Price/Ea.         Total
72301-HP       ANTIMONY OXIDE - 1/2 LB.                       1         $3.75         $3.75
72300-1        BARIUM CARBONATE - 1 LB.                       1         $2.95         $2.95
71051-QP       IRON CHLORIDE - 1/4 LB.                        1         $2.35         $2.35
71012-HP       LITHIUM CARBONATE (FINE) - 1/2 LB.             1         $3.95         $3.95
72335-HP       MANGANESE CARBONATE - 1/2 LB.                  1         $2.50         $2.50
72336-HP       MANGANESE DIOXIDE - 1/2 LB.                    1         $2.35         $2.35
72339-QP       NICKEL CARBONATE - 1/4 LB.                     1         $6.50         $6.50
72342-HP       POTASSIUM (DI)BICHROMATE - 1/2 LB.             1         $2.95         $2.95
72345-1        POTASSIUM NITRATE - 1 LB.                      1         $3.00         $3.00
72349-5        SODA ASH (SODIUM CARBONATE) - 5 LB.            1         $3.50         $3.50
72376-1        SODIUM FLUORIDE - 1 LB.                        1         $3.00         $3.00
72354-1        SODIUM NITRATE - 1 LB.                         1         $3.00         $3.00
72393-QP       STANNOUS (TIN) CHLORIDE - 1/4 LB.              1         $5.95         $5.95
72356-1        STRONTIUM CARBONATE - 1 LB.                    1         $4.00         $4.00
72362-QP       VANADIUM PENTOXIDE - 1/4 LB.                   1         $8.50         $8.50
                                             Shipping to be determined later:         $0.00
                                                                    Shipping:         $0.00
                                                                   Sales Tax:         $0.00
                                                                       Total:        $58.25

The "Shipping to be determined later" is the odd part. I completed the order on-line, but when I got to the part about shipping there were no options to choose. I called them, and the woman who answered told me they calculate shipping individually and then call the customer to ask if it's okay to send the order. I haven't heard from them yet. Very strange.

But not as strange as the first place I tried. Amherst Pottery Supply. They have a web site, but no way to order on-line. So I called them with my order. The guy took my order, item by item, and then said, "You weren't looking at the prices on the web site, were you?" Well, duh. Where else would I be looking for the prices? So he explained that those prices were completely out of date and proceeded to give me the actual prices, which were in some cases two or three times those listed on the web site. Thanks but no thanks.


Tuesday, 9 September 2008
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08:40 - I really need to set aside some time to clean up my office and my lab. Ordinarily, my office is a complete mess, but until recently I kept my lab pristine. Every time I finished a session, I washed up glassware and put everything away. Lately, I've been running downstairs to do a quick check of some reaction or other, and I've just been rinsing and stacking glassware. That's really not the way I work, and I need to devote a couple hours this weekend to getting my lab back into shape. And probably a couple more hours to getting my office into some semblance of order.


Wednesday, 10 September 2008
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08:33 - Barbara and I have been married for 25 years today. In one sense, that seems a long time. We've been married for nearly half the time we've been alive, and for something like 75% of our adult lives. But in another sense it seems a short time. I remember our wedding as though it was yesterday, and the years seem to have flashed past.

So we're now in our second quarter-century of being married, and it's very nice indeed.


Thursday, 11 September 2008
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08:37 - Seven years today. And what I feared and predicted has come to pass:

"The danger here is that we will over-react domestically and under-react abroad. What we don't need is stricter airport security and similar useless measures. The way to stop terrorists is to kill them and those who support them."

When the Japanese attacked us, our grandparents knew what to do. Less than four years later, Japan lay devastated, its cities leveled and burned and its people slaughtered. And that was starting with essentially no military power, and while fighting a European war simultaneously. The Bush administration had it within its power to lay waste to all of Islam on the first day. And it did nothing and has done nothing, unless you count the useless sideshow in Iraq.


Friday, 12 September 2008
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08:55 - I resigned from Netflix Tuesday, four months after I'd rejoined. We were pretty much caught up on everything we wanted to watch, and my queue was full of stuff that either was listed as extremely long wait, wasn't yet available, or that we really didn't care that much about watching. I'll wait a few months until the new seasons of the series we're following (Weeds, Californication, Eureka, etc.) are available, and then rejoin.

The pottery supply place called Tuesday to tell me what the shipping charges would be, about $20, and get my approval. The stuff is coming from the west coast, so I'm not expecting it in until next week. I need to schedule some lab time, both for syntheses and purifications.

Most of the stuff I ordered--the antimony, barium, lithium, manganese, nickel, tin, strontium, and vanadium compounds--I'll use to synthesize various other salts of those elements. Some of the stuff--the nitrates, potassium dichromate, sodium fluoride, and so on--I want to test for purity by gravimetric and titrimetric methods. I expect some of them to be of about lab-grade purity, which makes them an inexpensive source of chemicals that can be used as-is in a home lab. Others I'll probably need to recrystallize, which is a cheap, easy, and effective way to purify crude chemicals.

09:40 - Every morning, I go back to Barbara's office and back up her system by creating a compressed archive file of her home directory and copying it to a USB flash drive. I do it that way because I like to keep an eye on her system. Visiting it every morning forced me to keep current with security updates and so on.

The problem is, Barbara's running Kubuntu 6.10 (Edgy), and support for that release ended back in April. I haven't upgraded her system because (a) I try not to touch her system unless it's absolutely necessary, and (b) the current release of KDE isn't ready for prime-time, which'd mean I'd have to install Ubuntu rather than Kubuntu for her.

But she's running a two-year-old release that's no longer supported, so I really need to do something. I thought about installing Ubuntu 8.04, but I may just wait and install Ubuntu 8.10, which is due to be released at the end of October. I may upgrade my own system at the same time. It's running Kubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy), for which support ends next April.

The problem with upgrading Barbara's system is that inevitably things will break or be missing, but I suppose I should just bite the bullet and do it soon. I've never done anything other than a bare-metal install with Ubuntu/Kubuntu, but I may try doing an in-place upgrade for Barbara's system to see how it goes. I have my doubts about in-place upgrades at the best of times, let alone for upgrading a system that's about three generations out of date. If worse comes to terrible, I can just do the bare-metal install and migrate her home directory over to the new system.


Saturday, 13 September 2008
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Sunday, 14 September 2008
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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.