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.

13 thoughts on “Saturday, 27 August 2011”

  1. Off topic. Does anyone know of a Firefox add-on that will save just ONE window and all of its tabs? In my searching, all the tab savers appear to want to save all tabs in all windows, and I do not want that. I just want to be able to open the 20 tabs in ONE window that contains a research project I will have to come back to repeatedly.

  2. I do not know of a Firefox add-on that does that, but I might be able help anyway.

    A Firefox bookmark folder has the “Open all in tab” option at the bottom. If you always go for the SAME 20 windows, set up 20 bookmarks for them in the same bookmark folder. Then you can just tell it to open everything in the folder. I have one such folder with 12 items that I open all the time, and another I use sometimes. If I add much more than 12 I start getting warnings, but it still lets you do it. Even at 12, with my slow internet connection I often have to hit refresh on a few of the tabs. If I had to open 20 I might set up two groups so I could open them in stages. The tabs do retain the order of the bookmarks in the folder.

    For me it is a really handy feature. Of course if your 20 bookmarks are not always the same this doesn’t help.

  3. Thanks Roy and Steve. I already did the search thing for Firefox extensions and came up blank. There are many of them, but–as I noted before–they all want to save EVERY TAB of EVERY WINDOW. I just want to save all tabs of ONE particular window. Cannot believe this is something that only *I* have need of doing.

    A close buddy tells me that Google Chrome can do this. In fact, I am getting so much pressure from close friends and family to move from Firefox to Chrome, that I think I am going to give it a try. I am not happy with the changes Firefox is making. They now have the hover-over link display IN the picture area, and it maddeningly and frequently covers up stuff that I really want to see. What in the world was wrong with the information bar that was UNDER the picture, hiding nothing?

    I will give Roy’s idea a try. I also use it for my ‘dailies’, ‘business’, and ‘broadcasting’ windows, each with half-a-dozen or more websites that I check daily. Still, saving 20 tabs one at a time, is pretty arcane when most people here report they have a good 10 windows open, each with 10 or more tabs. Hope something better crops up; in the meantime, thanks Roy for reminding me I could use that method.

  4. It will be fascinating to see what comes of Hurricane Irene. Despite being downgraded to a Cat. 1, the FEMA is forcing evacuations and lots of theater. Justifying its existence after the Katrina debacle – even though there are essentially zero similarities.

    From where I sit, it looks like just another chance for an unnecessary federal department to assert its authority and interfere in people’s lives.

  5. From where I sit, it looks like just another chance for an unnecessary federal department to assert its authority and interfere in people’s lives.

    I liken it to the bird flu scare where millions of people were supposed to die. Turned out to be a non-event. It started with Y2K and has continued to get more invasive.

    People that are scared tend to be more dependant on the government and the government wants this dependance. The government wants to control as much as possible in every aspect of peoples lives.

    And as you indicated you have government agencies that want to assert their authority and show they need to exist. Why the department of homeland security was involved and Janet Napolitano has to get involved is beyond me. Ten years ago the department did not exist and now they have to get involved for a weather event.

    Some of it is also a product of the news media and their insatiable desire to have their mugs on national news. Even the local stations try desperately to find some connection to an event. Our local stations are bragging about the hotels in Pigeon Forge hosting people from Myrtle Beach who simply changed their vacation plans.

    All the deaths that I have read about are only marginally connected to the storm. Some guy dies while putting up storm shutters and the death is attributed to the storm. An auto accident at an intersection because the lights were out because of no power and the death is attributed to the storm. Give me a break.

  6. Local news from areas actually involved is more to the point.

    I’m sitting right in the path of Irene and have had the local news and the weather channel on last night and all morning. I have not heard the name FEMA even once. The governor closed some parkways that are lined with trees, and banned tractor-trailer truck traffic, but that’s all the state-wide action taken. Here in CT at least evacuation is all a local decision based on local conditions (and on how much authority the local officials happen to have). Our little town has a phone message system our First Selectman (think mayor on a smaller scale) can use to get the word out, and she has closed all roads as of a couple of hours ago. Apparently there is some flooding down along the river, but the broader issue is trees and wires down. Inland flooding around the state will get worse over the next day or so, maybe longer. There was one death in a nearby town, apparently involving downed wires and a house fire. So far – knock on wood – we have only had one power outage of less than a minute, but I’m keeping fingers crossed for the rest of the day at least. We are on a well, so no power means no water, but we made preparations.

  7. Yeah, we all actually lucked out. As bad as a Category 1 hurricane is, it could easily have been a Category 4 down here and a Category 2 or even 3 by the time it reached the northeast.

  8. What really bothers me, is that these terrifying tactics have worked. A couple days after the eastern US earthquake, I was on a job, where two people were in DC and another guy was in Cleveland. All three were in high-rise buildings, which apparently amplified the effect. And what is it that they said was their first reaction as the cause of the episode?

    A terrorist attack.

    Man, Homeland Security has everyone well trained in how to respond.

  9. Yeah, well, I considered myself reasonably well-trained in what to do about terrorists even before 9/11. You shoot them, right?

    Which reminds me of something I learned in gunfighting school. If you shoot someone multiple times and then shout “Stop, or I’ll shoot!”, most or all eyewitnesses will swear that you shouted the warning before you opened fire.

  10. Here’s how to save just one window full of tabs.

    Right-click on one of the tabs. Choose “Bookmark All Tabs” and save to a folder of your choice.

    Very non-intuitive, and a lot of people have complained that menu should be in the global area of the menu structure, not as a right-click on one of the tabs. It appears nowhere else that I can find.

    A lot of people have been looking–like me–for a solution that would save the exact location they were in for each tab–like the ‘Restore’ feature does, updating all changes that may have been made to tabs in a particular window. But there appears to be nothing like that available for saving just one window.

    This is all the more reason I find each new version of Firefox to be a step backwards, not forwards.

  11. The Heimatsicherheitshauptamt always reminded me of that old joke about the guy on a train in Vermont tearing off strips of paper and tossing them out the window in a successful effort to keep elephants out of Vermont.

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