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Week of 6 June 2011

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Monday, 6 June 2011
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09:46 - Happy Birthday to me. Today I turn 0x3A.

Some of the folks over on the messageboard seem to think that I have it wrong, and that it's the US that will suffer more from the coming economic apocalypse than Europe and elsewhere.
They're badly wrong. Despite the government elephant on our backs, the US is strong, young, and extraordinarily productive. We are still the manufacturing champion of the world, and that's not likely to change any time soon, despite speculative reports to the contrary. The EU is weak, old, and can't hold a candle to US productivity, which has continued to grow at an incredible rate even since the 2008 economic debacle. Note that that doesn't imply that the US is creating jobs. We're not. We're producing much more with many fewer jobs.

I should also note that fears of China are grossly exaggerated. China is in much deeper trouble than the US. If the US is looking for an economic boogeyman, China's not it. India, perhaps. China has had no success in overcoming its reputation for shoddy goods, and isn't likely to do so any time soon. I'm old enough to remember when a "Made in Japan" label almost guaranteed that the product was inferior. The Japanese were smart enough to realize they needed to do something about that, and they did, in spades. The Chinese don't even seem to realize there's a problem. The Indians aren't up to Western manufacturing standards, but they're generally a good step above the Chinese, and their prices are competitive.

Meanwhile, we're starting to see a trend in on-shoring. Companies, particularly small and mid-size manufacturers, have discovered that using Chinese manufacturing has huge hidden costs, not least of which are quality-control and time-to-market issues. These companies are learning that paying a nominally higher price for locally-manufactured products pays big dividends in product quality, timeliness, reduced inventory carrying costs, lower shipping costs, and flexibility. IP issues are also significant. Companies that transfer their manufacturing to Chinese plants often find that they're in competition with cheap knock-offs of their products, often produced in the same factories that they've contracted with.

Many small and mid-size manufacturing companies have converted to using US-made components whenever possible, and even auto companies and other manufacturing behemoths are taking steps to reduce their dependence on off-shored components. And even those that aren't are looking increasingly to India rather than to China. Again, none of this means that US manufacturing jobs will be returning, because most of these forward-looking US manufacturers are depending as much as possible on robotics and other automated manufacturing technologies.

13:38 - It took a bit longer than we'd hoped, but as of now we're accepting orders for The Home Scientist, LLC CK01/CK01M Standard/Honors Home School Chemistry Laboratory Kits, which will start shipping next week. The original target was mid- to late May, so it didn't slide by much. I wanted to give my regular readers--at least those in the US; we can't ship outside the 50 states--first shot at the kits. Our first production run was only about three dozen kits, although we'll be reordering components and assembling kits constantly, and are set up to assemble kits in batches of 100. Still, there are a lot of vendors and a lot of components, so vendor lead times may sometimes cause the kits to go out-of-stock.

Before you order a kit, please download and review the manual (linked to on the product page) to make absolutely sure it's what you're looking for. (Hazardous material shipping regulations make it impossible for us to accept returns on these kits, so all sales are final.) The manual is in essentially finished form, although we'll continue to tweak it over the coming weeks and months, based on user feedback.

Also, note that THESE KITS ARE NOT TOYS. They are designed to provide an intensive introduction to high school chemistry laboratory work. They are not for children. They contain hazardous chemicals, and are not intended for use by students under age 15.

At this point, we have no idea what sales volume to expect. We could sell tens, hundreds, or thousands of these kits per year. We're expecting sales to ramp up slowly, but with the autumn semester starting in about three months it's quite possible sales will ramp up faster than we expect.

One thing is sure: we're in this for the long run. We're already planning several other science kits, including a biology kit that we're writing the manual for now. That will be published by O'Reilly/MAKE late this year or early next. We're also talking to O'Reilly/MAKE about reverting the rights on the never-published Home Forensics Lab book, which we'll also design a kit for. We'll also eventually design and produce kits for AP chemistry, AP biology, standard/honors physics, AP physics, earth science, and others. So, this is just the first shot in our attempt to return rigorous, hands-on laboratory work to high school science curricula.


Tuesday, 7 June 2011
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09:56 - Hooray! I got my first kit order this morning. The problem is, the buyer is in California, but PayPal still added North Carolina sales tax to the order. I think I've fixed that problem, but I'm not entirely sure. If you read this before 10:30 EDT or so and you're in one of the other 49 states, I'd appreciate it if you'd visit the product page, click on the button to buy a kit, and see if PayPal adds sales tax to the transaction page. (You can abandon the transaction without actual buying a kit, of course.)

11:09 - Thanks to everyone who tested the kit page for me. It appears that it's working properly now. The problem was that when I set up the add-to-cart buttons, there was a field for sales tax. I entered 7.75%, assuming that it would charge that tax only for North Carolina buyers. Nope, it charges it to all buyers. So I went back and created a tax table in my profile and modified the buttons to use the profile value. That appears to have fixed the problem.

The other problem is that Firefox just went all wonky on me and won't allow me to access the PayPal site. There were about 20 different PayPal cookies stored, so I first tried deleting all of them. No joy. I tried using Konqueror (a Linux browser) and it worked fine. So, it looks like I'm going to have to close Firefox, which I hate to do. Right now, I have about 60 Firefox windows open, with probably an average of 5 or 8 tabs per window. I generally keep it open for months at a time, and eventually it loses its mind and starts doing weird stuff.

At any rate, I knew there'd be glitches, and I'm getting them worked out as fast as I can.


Wednesday, 8 June 2011
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09:12 - To my surprise, kit orders are already starting to come in. I expected a lag of at least a week or so following the announcement before people actually started to place orders, but apparently there's some pent-up demand.

I got an interesting email asking about the different lab kits we intend to produce and how to fit those into a four-year high-school curriculum. The short answer is that it's unlikely, albeit possible, that any one student will take all of these courses. By ninth grade, it's usually pretty clear if a home-school student has the inclination and ability to go on to major in STEM in college. For such students, I would strongly advise allocating two full slots per year to science over the four-year high-school curriculum. With eight full slots allocated over those four years, and particularly if science topics are covered on weekends and summer sessions, it's possible for a student to get a real jump-start on his or her science education. I'd recommend something like the following:

9th grade: Forensics (a good cross-discipline introduction to science and scientific techniques) and Biology I

10th grade: Biology II (AP) and Chemistry I

11th grade: Chemistry II (AP) and Physics I

12th grade: Physics II (AP) and an advanced science elective: Biology III (microbiology, histology, etc.) and/or Chemistry III (organic, analytical, physical, etc.)

That's two slots per year spoken for, and of course another slot allocated to math (algebra II, plane and solid geometry, trigonomety, and calculus/differential equations, with an elective slot in 11th or 12th grade allocated to a real statistics course). But with that preparation, the student will enter college and hit the ground running.

The other thing to keep in mind is that traditional subject slots were set up for the convenience of schools rather than what works best for students. There's nothing magical about a one-year chemistry I course or an AP biology course. For example, a first-year biology course typically attempts to cover biology broadly but superficially, with the second-year (AP) course covering a narrower range of topics but in more depth, and a third-year course being even narrower and deeper. For some students, this works adequately or even well. But for many students, it makes more sense to explore topics in more depth from the first day, and gradually expand the breadth over the full three or four years.

I'm taking the latter approach with the organization of the biology lab book I'm currently writing for O'Reilly/MAKE (although it can also be used for the traditional approach merely by doing only selected easier lab sessions in the earlier years). Students who go through this lab book in the order it's presented will spend a significant amount of time on the tiny stuff, starting with biologically-important molecules and life processes, and working their way up through cell structures (organelles), microorganisms, tissues, organs, and eventually organisms. In other words, we'll look at the raw materials of life first, then the building blocks that are assembled from those raw materials, and eventually the structures that are built from those building blocks.

What that really means, of course, is that students won't be taking discrete courses in particular sciences over the years; they'll be taking heavy science courses that incorporate elements of biology, chemistry, and physics each year. In practical terms, they'll probably still be nominally taking the individual courses, if only because college admissions departments want to see those courses listed on a student transcript. But integrating those topics provides a superior learning experience.

In effect, that's what I did myself as a teenager back in the late 60's. I took the structured courses in public school, but those served mainly as a framework. I took my first biology, chemistry, and physics courses in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades, respectively, with advanced courses following those, but the whole time I was running experiments at home that crossed all of these disciplines and tied everything together.

In particular, the public school biology class suffered from taking a top-down rather than bottom-up approach. In 9th grade, we were dissecting frogs before we knew anything much about cell structures, let alone the biochemistry. And, believe it or not, many first-year biology courses are taught the same way today, mainly because frogs and dissection kits are inexpensive and easy for teachers to handle. That doesn't make it the best way or even a good way to introduce students to biology. The same thing is true of the survey elements of first-year biology courses. Sure, it's fun to look at a wide range of organisms, but if you don't have the basic grounding in theory it's not a particularly productive use of time.

12:08 - The first chemistry kits will ship next week. Today or tomorrow, I'm going to do a torture test on an actual kit. Well, an almost-actual kit. Instead of the actual kit chemicals, the chemical block will have containers of water, but otherwise the kit will be actual and complete. I'll put the kit in the clothes dryer and run it without heat for 10 minutes or so. If the kit survives that undamaged, I'll feel comfortable that the real kits will survive real shipping.

Talk about an epic fail. The more I read about the German E. coli situation, the more it's clear that the German authorities failed completely to do what needed to be done. This situation is now more than a month old, and the German government is trying to close the barn door not just after the horse escaped, but after it disappeared over the horizon. The German authorities basically stood by doing nothing for literally weeks, when they should have been desperately trying to isolate the source of the outbreak. Although epidemiologists haven't said much publicly about the failure of the German government to act, I'm sure that privately they are all stunned at the ineptitude.

As just one example, incredibly, no one at the time thought to ask early victims what they'd eaten and where they'd eaten it. So now, a month later, they're asking people to try to remember what they ate a month ago. In a pointless and almost surreal attempt to do now what should have been done weeks ago, the Germans now have scientists testing current product streams. As should be unnecessary to point out, anything they discover now is meaningless in terms of determining the cause of the outbreak. If they find contamination now, all that establishes is that the current products they test are contaminated; it says nothing about whether earlier products from the same source were contaminated. Similarly, if a current product tests clean, that says nothing about the status of earlier products from the same source.


Thursday, 9 June 2011
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08:11 - Ars posted an interesting article about probability and intuition.

The part about someone doing five coin tosses interested me. In an audience of my peers, I'm betting that most or all audience members would predict the same result, T-T-T-T-T, and by the same reasoning.

Why? Well, here's the reasoning that flashed through my mind: (1) all of the 32 possible outcomes (excluding the tiny probability of the coin landing on edge) are equally likely, unless (2) by analogy with loaded dice, the coin is biased; (3) a small bias is possible, but a profound bias (in the most extreme case, a coin with two heads or two tails) is more likely, in which case (4) there is a higher probability that the result will be either H-H-H-H-H or T-T-T-T-T, depending on how the coin was biased. Demonstrably, people are more likely to choose H for any coin toss, so (5) a biased coin is likely to be made to favor T. Therefore, there is a (presumably) small but very real increased probability that the outcome of five coin tosses is likely to be T-T-T-T-T.

I was also interested in the discussion of the Monte Hall problem, which we've discussed recently in some detail. In particular, I disagree with the article's statement that, "[...] the answer remains counterintuitive—even for those with an exceptional grasp of math." Really? The solution certainly seems intuitive to me. Depending on the location of the prize, when Monte opens one of the two unchosen doors, his decision about which door to open may be constrained. Without even running the numbers, it seems a no-brainer to me for the contestant to change his initial choice. The initial probability of the prize being behind each of the three doors was 1/3. Monte opens one of the doors, reducing the probability of the prize being behind that door to 0/3. Monte's action had no effect on the probability of the prize being behind the chosen door, which remains 1/3. The probability that the prize is behind one of the two remaining doors is 1/1. It's not difficult to calculate the changed probability that the prize is behind the remaining unchosen door.

14:56 - Arrrrrghhh. As it turns out, I'm not going to be able to ship kits by USPS Priority Mail. The reason is at once simple and complicated, and comes down to a miscommunication between me and the USPS people. It's no one's fault, really. Some of the chemicals included in the kit make it ineligible for air transport, which I've known all along. The USPS allows shipping under regulations called "Consumer Commodity: ORM-D (Other Regulated Materials - Domestic)". There are two types of ORM-D: standard ORM-D for packages that cannot be shipped via air, and ORM-D-AIR for packages that can be shipped by air.

When I was discussing all of this with the USPS experts on hazardous materials shipping, we talked in detail about small-quantity exemptions and ORM-D. They told me that if the package was eligible under 49 CFR for air shipment, I could apply an ORM-D-AIR label; otherwise, I had to use an ORM-D label, which specifies ground-shipping only. So, I thought I would be able to use Priority Mail, and that applying the standard ORM-D label rather than the ORM-D-AIR label would indicate to the USPS that that package must be transported by ground only.

Somewhere in the literally hundreds or thousands of pages of regulations I read--here's one example--it said that Priority Mail packages were routed via ground and/or air transportation. I took that to mean that any particular package, depending on its type and destination and labeling, might be transported by ground, by air, or by some combination, and that Priority Mail packages with a standard ORM-D label would be restricted to ground-only transport. Not so, as it turns out. Any Priority Mail package may at some point be transported by air, which means packages that do not meet the ORM-D-AIR requirements simply can't be sent Priority Mail. I'll have to send them USPS Ground, unless I want to switch to UPS Ground or FedEx Ground.

Whatever I do, I can't use the existing Priority Mail boxes, which the USPS supplies free. Well, I could, if I wrapped them in brown paper or something, but I'd still be breaking the law. So I just ordered a bunch of boxes from U-Line, which increases my costs by about $1 per kit. That's no big deal. There's no flat-rate USPS Ground; it's all based on weight and distance. Just eyeballing it, it looks as though I'll probably about break even, because for the packages I'm sending USPS Ground should average a bit less expensive than Priority Mail. The downside is delivery time. Priority Mail packages from here in North Carolina to the west coast typically takes 3 or 4 business days, while USPS Ground typically takes 6 or 7 business days (although the USPS promises only 14 days).

Ultimately, I guess this doesn't change much. Instead of red, white, and blue PM boxes, the kits will ship in standard corrugated cardboard boxes. Shipments to nearby destinations will still take 1 to 3 days, although shipments to addresses west of the Mississippi may take a couple or three days longer than they would have with Priority Mail.

None of this changes my intention to begin shipping kits next week. The U-Line boxes should arrive tomorrow, I'll pack kits over the weekend, and begin shipping them Monday.

Incidentally, if you're thinking about ordering a kit and you want it to go out with the first batch, if you order it no later than Sunday evening it will ship on Monday. Orders received after that will not ship until the following Monday.


Friday, 10 June 2011
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11:01 - Barbara is taking Colin to the vet this afternoon for his final set of vaccines. We're supposed to wait a couple weeks for his full immunity to develop, and then we can take him out in public. So far, we've been restricting him to the yard, and not even allowing him to get too near the street. In a couple weeks, we'll be able to walk him, which we're hoping will help get him house-trained.

As things stand, I take him out in the front yard for a few minutes every time he asks or wakes up, which is usually two to four times an hour. He considers going out in the yard to be an opportunity to play tug-of-war with the leash and chew sticks. He does urinate outside maybe one time in three--that is, one time in three that he urinates, not one trip in three outside--but he hasn't defecated outside in more than a month. He can hold it a long time. No matter how long we keep him outside, he holds it until he gets indoors, where he can shit in the hall bathroom. At least the floor in there is ceramic tile. We keep old towels and a bucket full of water with Lysol and a mop handy. Some days, I end up mopping the floor literally 15 or 20 times.

I've had several requests for information about how to get started in self-publishing. I'm actually not the right guy to ask, because I've never self-published a book. That said, here are a few sites that may help you get started:

J. A. Konrath's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing - Novelist Joe Konrath is the poster boy for self-publishing. Until 2010, he was a big proponent of traditional publishing, recommending that his readers steer clear of self-publishing. A year or so ago, he dipped his toe in the self-publishing waters and quickly realized that he could make a lot more money doing it himself. By autumn 2010, had done a 180, and began telling his readers to avoid traditional publishing in favor of self-publishing. Compared to the really heavy hitters among indie authors, Konrath's success has been modest; he's earning self-publishing royalties of $30,000 or $40,000 per month. That's probably enough to put him in the Top 100 indie authors but probably not enough to put him in the Top 10.

Your next stop should be a husband-wife team of authors, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathyrn Rusch. Both have been authors for decades, and also have broad experience in all aspects of publishing, including running their own publishing house. Dean and Kris are also big proponents of self-publishing, both ebooks and print, although they also consider traditional publishing to be a viable choice.

Robin Sullivan is not an author, but runs a small publishing house. She quit her day job some time ago in order to concentrate her efforts on publishing and marketing her husband's novels. Her publishing house now has a small stable of accomplished writers, most of whom seem to be enjoying significant success. Incidentally, Robin's articles are sometimes full of typos and misspelled words. I've mentioned this to her, and she says she'd rather get posts up quickly than worry about typos. She reserves her editing attention for her books. Don't let the typos turn you off. She posts some articles that are worth reading.

One of the biggest problems that indie authors face is getting their manuscripts formatted properly for ereaders. It seems almost a black art. In fact, it's relatively straight-forward if you know what to watch out for. Guido Henkel has posted a very useful guide to the correct way to format ebooks for the various ereaders.

The two largest markets for indie ebooks are, of course, Amazon's Kindle and B&N's nook. An indie author needs only standard accounts on Amazon and B&N to start publishing. Both Amazon and B&N provide detailed guidelines about how to publish ebooks to their platforms. Overall, Amazon has two or three times the market share in ebooks that B&N does, but that varies from genre to genre and even from author to authors. Most indie authors sell more, sometimes much more, on Amazon than on B&N, but there are authors who do literally ten times the volume on B&N that they do on Amazon. No matter what, you want your ebooks on both of these platforms.

Between them, Amazon and B&N account for probably 95%+ and possibly 98% of ebook sales, so many indie authors get those two covered and don't worry about the tiny market shares of Kobo, Sony, Apple iBooks, and so on. (A ton of people read ebooks on their iPhones and iPads, but hardly any of them actually buy those books from Apple. They buy directly from Amazon or B&N and use the free iOS reader apps for those devices, so limiting yourself to Amazon and B&N doesn't mean that iPhone/iPad owners can't buy your stuff.) Until yesterday, the future of Kindle and nook ebooks on Apple platforms was in doubt, because Apple was demanding that Amazon and B&N pay Apple 30% of retail. That wasn't going to happen, because Amazon and B&N make less than 30% margins on ebook sales, so they'd have had to give Apple more than their actual profit on each book. As of yesterday, Apple caved, so things will continue pretty much as they have been.

If for some reason you want your ebook to be available in the Kobo, Sony, and Apple bookstores, the best bet is to do it through Smashwords rather than jump through the hoops that Apple and Sony require (such as buying ISBN numbers, which aren't cheap). You can publish your manuscript to Smashwords, which runs it though an oddly-named formatting program--Meatgrinder? Mangler? Something like that--and outputs ebooks formatted for the various devices they support. Frankly, I don't think it's worth the trouble. The market share of all vendors other than Amazon and B&N is just an asterisk anyway.

If you want your self-published book to be available in print as well as ebook form, you'll need to do a bit more work, but not all that much more. The two big names in POD (print-on-demand) self-publishing are Amazon's CreateSpace and Lightning Source. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and which is right for you will depend on many personal factors.

Finally, if you intend to get into self-publishing, it's worthwhile to follow some of the blogs and forums that focus on the nuts-and-bolts of self-publishing or track the constant changes in self-publishing. There are tons of those available. Two that I follow are Kindle Review and Kindle Boards, although there are many other good ones out there.

All of this has been off the top of my head, and I'm sure I've forgotten to list many good resources. But these sites are at least a good start, and if you start following them you'll soon find yourself clicking on links to dozens of other good self-publishing sites.

12:47 - Well, this is embarrassing. When I ordered the components for the first 36 chemistry kits, I knew that I'd sell them with or without a digital multimeter. I expect most buyers to choose the version without, so I ordered only a dozen or so DMMs. So far, every order has been for the kit with the DMM, and I'm rapidly running out of DMMs.

I just called my wholesaler for that item, American Educational Products, and my contact there tells me they're out of stock on that item and don't expect it to be back in stock until 30 June. AMEP is one of a group of companies that includes eNasco, which does have a similar product in stock. Well, nearly identical, except for color and brand name. So, my contact at AMEP is checking now to see if they can get a case of 24 DMMs shipped to me from eNasco. Just in case they can't, I've already contacted Elenco, which is eNasco's source for the M-1000D DMM. Unfortunately, I don't have a wholesale account set up with Elenco, and doing that might take some time. If worse comes to horrible, I'll just order them at retail and try to get at least a small price break for ordering a case lot.

Unless I get a flood of orders over the weekend, I have enough DMMs to meet my shipping commitments for next Monday, but I really do need to get more DMMs in stock before next Friday if I want to be able to ship orders that include DMMs by the following Monday.


Saturday, 11 June 2011
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09:25 - We took Colin to the vet yesterday for his final set of vaccines. Sue said it'd be okay to walk him around the neighborhood now, but to keep him away from woods and other areas where wild animals are likely to be. He's still not immune to leptospirosis, and won't be for another couple of weeks.

Colin doesn't turn four months old until tomorrow, and he's already up to just over 35 pounds (16 kilos). That's not fat, either. Colin is scrawny looking, like most healthy pups. Sue estimated Colin's adult size as at least twice his current size, and I don't remember either Duncan or Malcolm being this big at this early an age. It looks like we may have another Duncan on our hands, a true giant among Border Collies.

Duncan stood about 4 inches (10 cm) taller than most male Border Collies, and weighed about 75 pounds (34 kilos), versus 50 to 55 pounds for a typical large male. Barbara used to take him to events where there'd be 50 or 100 Border Collies running around in a field. Ordinarily, it'd be just about impossible to pick out one's own dog in a group of other (mostly) black-and-white BCs, but we never had that problem with Duncan. He stood literally head and shoulders above all the other dogs. Except one, who was actually noticeably larger than Duncan. That one was a Godzilla among Border Collies.

UPS showed up yesterday with my order from U-Line (whom I strongly recommend for anyone who needs packing/shipping supplies). I now have all the boxes, mailing labels, and packing tape I need to start shipping kits. In fact, I probably now have a lifetime supply of packing tape. They had a sale of packing tape at less than half-price and threw in a nice dispenser for free. So now I have 36 110-yard rolls of 2" packing tape, or 3,960 yards of the stuff. Or 3.621 kilometers. Or 2.25 miles.

Barbara just rolled her eyes. But in my defense, if I'd ordered what I'd originally intended to order, I'd have bought one roll of tape and a professional-quality side-loader dispenser for about $18 or $20, which would have barely sufficed to pack the first batch of kits. Instead, I ended up with 36 rolls of tape and a dispenser for about $60.

We'll be packing the first two dozen or so kits this weekend. We start shipping Monday.

12:27 - Baby pictures. Here's Colin at 17 weeks old today. Sue Stephens, our vet, tells us that Colin will "grow into" his ears. They're quite mobile. Usually he holds them with the inner edges flush, making it look like he's wearing a peaked cap. (They're not quite flush in this image, but you get the idea.) Sometimes he holds them both vertical, with noticeable separation between them. Other times, he holds them angled away from each other. Once in a while, he crosses them, which looks really odd.

The ears are apparently under individual control. Usually, they're both pricked, but sometimes he lets one flop over. They also operate like a submarine periscope. The other day, I was sitting on the sofa with Colin asleep next to my Ottoman, his ears laid back flat against his head. There was a noise outside, and I watched one ear stand straight up and rotate, trying to locate the source of the sound. Apparently, it wasn't anything to worry about, so Colin gave the down-periscope order, and the ear again lowered flat next to his head.

Today we took Colin on his first walk outside our yard, just down to the corner and back. He seemed to be excited about going for a walk, not bothering to fang the leash or pick up sticks, of which there was an abundant supply. We also started training him to come. Until now, he's pretty much ignored the come command, but things worked out better on the walk. He actually came every time Barbara or I called him, and each time we rewarded him with a small piece of Alpo Snaps dog treat. Oddly, until now, he didn't seem to care much about Snaps. I'd sometime give him one while praising him for doing something right. He'd usually take it, but not always, and sometimes when he did take it I'd later find it lying uneaten in the hall or den. On the walk, he seemed very motivated to get those small pieces of Snaps.

As you can see, he's quickly starting to look more like a dog than a puppy. Colin's a smooth coat, so we're not sure if his tail will eventually develop "feathers" or not. There is one tiny tuft of slightly longer hair at the tip of his tail, but that's all so far.

He's afraid of the yardstick, so I had a tough time measuring his height. As best I could determine, when standing he's now about 18.5" (47 cm) at the shoulder.


Sunday, 12 June 2011
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10:40 - Barbara's parents had tickets for the local minor-league baseball game last night, so she headed over about 5:00 to pick up her parents and take them to the game. We were a bit concerned about the weather, with thunderstorms in the forecast, but as it turns out it wasn't the weather that was the problem. During the 7th inning, Barbara left her seat to get some drinks. While she was waiting in line, her dad was hit in the head by a foul ball. She returned with the drinks to find the stadium first-aid people rolling her dad away in a wheelchair.

Although his head was bleeding, they decided it wasn't serious enough to call 911, but the first-aid people recommended he go to the hospital and get checked out. So Barbara hauled her dad and mom to the emergency room, where of course they had to sit for hours before being treated. The cut was fairly minor, but they did want to do a scan. Barbara's dad is close to 90, so they probably thought it was better to do the scan even if it turned out not to be needed. 

I'd sat up with Colin, who couldn't figure out what was going on, until about 0130. I finally called Barbara, who said her dad had finally gotten in to be checked. The scan turned out negative, and her dad seemed to be okay, so Barbara took him and her mother home. She finally arrived home, exhausted, around 0230.

Older people tend to have more accidents than younger ones, and Barbara's dad is no exception. He's had numerous minor injuries on bus tours and so on. But being struck by a foul ball is the most unusual one yet.


Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 by Robert Bruce Thompson. All Rights Reserved.