Saturday, 27 August 2011

11:11 – Irene has made landfall on the North Carolina coast, fortunately as a Category 1. We’ve seen almost no effects from Irene here in Winston-Salem. It was a bit breezy when I took Colin out around 0700 this morning, but we’ve had no rain and aren’t expecting any. Some rain would have been welcome, but not at the expense of the eastern part of the state suffering even more than it is.

I see that New York City has closed its subway system for the first time ever due to weather, and that about 300,000 New York City residents have been ordered to evacuate. Very few NYC residents own automobiles, which makes me wonder how and to where they intend to evacuate these people. Perhaps it’s enough just to move them from low-lying areas to parts of the city that are a bit higher. Let’s hope that Irene continues to weaken. A direct strike on NYC by even a Category 1 hurricane would have disastrous results in terms of both the human and economic toll.

The human toll in particular, because few New Yorkers have experienced a hurricane up close and personal. Most of them probably just think of it as just the sort of storm they’re used to, but on a larger scale. As Mark Twain commented on another subject, the reality of a hurricane compared to normal storms is like the difference between lightning and lightning bugs. Even here in the southeast, where people are experienced with hurricanes, there are numerous idiots who rush to the coast to experience a hurricane. Every time we have a strike, there are at least a few Darwin Awards candidates who end up being injured or killed because they were somewhere they shouldn’t have been, doing something they shouldn’t have been doing.

Paul Jones stopped by yesterday to borrow my Plextor analog-to-digital converter. He has some old personal VHS tapes he wants to transfer to DVD. He asked about the DSLR I’d just ordered, and I mentioned that the AA battery adapter was on back-order so I’d ordered a spare $44 lithium-ion battery. Paul mentioned that he’d ordered three spare batteries when he’d bought his DSLR, and he’d paid only $8 each. My hair stood on end. I mentioned that Chinese DSLR batteries are famous for damaging cameras, if not actually catching fire, and he said he’d had no problems with them in the three years since he’d bought them. Hmmm. This morning, Paul emailed me to say that he was mistaken. It was the IR remote he’d ordered that’d cost $8. The batteries listed for $49 each, but he’d gotten three of them from Amazon for $30 each.

Barbara and I are assembling 18 more chemistry kits today. I’m also going to try to semi-finalize the contents of the kit for the biology book this weekend. At some point, I simply have to declare enough, and stop adding items to the biology kit. One of the primary goals, after all, is to keep the kit affordable. For example, I’m going to include a bottle of sterile pre-made nutrient agar in the kit. Home Science Tools sells the same item for, IIRC, $7, which is reasonable. But I’m going to remove one of the lab sessions I’ve already written, on coliform testing of water, because that lab session would also require either EMB (eosin/methylene blue) agar or MacConkey agar as well as TSI (tri-sugar/iron) agar. Allocating $21 of the kit price to these three agars is too much, so I’ll have to settle for including just the nutrient agar.