Monday, 5 December 2011

By on December 5th, 2011 in science kits, writing

08:52 – Costco run and dinner yesterday with Mary and Paul. It was a nice break. Barbara and I had just finished building the final sub-assemblies for a new batch of chemistry kits, which’ll start shipping this week.

11:51 – I started the morning intending to write all day, but as usual I got sidetracked. I was writing a lab session that involved germinating carrot seeds, and I realized I might as well include carrot seeds in the kit. So, I went off in search of on-line wholesale seed vendors.

Now, carrot seeds are tiny, really tiny. Maybe an average of a milligram each, literally. Incredibly, one place was selling carrot seeds by number rather than weight. I could have ordered, 10,000, 50,000, 100,000, or 325,000 carrot seeds. Do they really count them, I wonder? Perhaps they count out a thousand, weigh them on a milligram-class analytical balance and then fill containers by mass.

At any rate, I found a place that looked to be a good source, and put half a pound (~225 g, or something like 200,000+ seeds) in my shopping cart. Then I got to thinking. I also need bush lima bean seeds for another lab, so I looked at that company’s offerings and added a pound (454 g) of bush lima seeds to my cart. But the lab with the lima beans also requires rhizobium inoculum, which this company didn’t offer. So I put my order on hold and went off to find another company that offered the rhizobium, thinking it might also have the seeds I needed. It did, but their prices were much higher, so I went ahead and completed the order with the first company.

Ah, but not all rhizobium inoculum is the same. Some works with clover or alfalfa, but not lima beans, or vice versa. In fact, there are a bunch of different varieties of rhizobium, each of which is optimized for a particular species or group of species, and works poorly if at all with other species. So I called the second company to tell them I needed a rhizobium inoculum to use with bush limas. They told me which of their products were suitable, so I placed my second order of the morning.

Of course, it’s not worth jumping through hoops to get wholesale prices, tax exemptions, etc. for small quantities, so I just put the orders on credit cards. But despite the fact that these were charged as “personal” purchases, they are of course actually business purchases. So that meant I had to go back and generate and print purchase orders and invoices for both orders so I didn’t lose track of them.

At least I’m finally back to writing.

19 Comments and discussion on "Monday, 5 December 2011"

  1. Raymond Thompson says:

    (unlike Ray, I will not touch any Adobe program

    Audition used to be done by the same company that made CoolEdit. It was a good product and the version of Audition that I have is the commercial edition of CoolEdit. A lot of features and capabilities that far exceed my limited knowledge. Adobe bought the product, well actually the entire company I believe.

    I was used to using the product so just continued using the product. Stuck at version 3 which was Adobe’s version. Another reason was the price of the product. I got version 3 of Audition for a price that was a steal. You can make of that what you want.

    I have no intention of upgrading because what I have does so much more than I need or understand. An upgrade would just confuse me further.

  2. pcb_duffer says:

    RBT: It seems self – evident, but if you are going to be charging small purchases, it would behoove you to get a different card which is used only for deductible business expenses. It makes accounting somewhat simpler, and it can make life less painful in front of the IRS.

  3. Roy Harvey says:

    Totally off topic (if there is such a thing), I see that one of the free Kindle books today (but perhaps not free tomorrow) is an autobiography of a Russian woman who flew the Sturmovik during WWII, shot down and captured by the Germans after some 270 missions. I haven’t read it but it looks worth adding to the library at that price.

  4. OFD says:

    Damn, I would grab that in a heartbeat, Roy, and I did, just now. The story of the Russian women who flew combat missions against the German forces on der Ostfront during The Good War is a largely untold one, especially over here, and likewise, the much larger story of how the Red Army basically won that war and lost ten million troops, not to mention the generals and field marshals murdered by Koba the Dread or Operation Keelhaul at the end of the war, a major blot on Anglo-American history.

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Oh, come now. The US won that war, both with manpower and by providing materiel to all of the allies. The soviets basically were cannon-fodder.

    I don’t have the low opinion of Operation Keelhaul (and Paperclip) that you seem to have. We were just getting rid of the ones who were useless to us and grabbing the good ones.

  6. OFD says:

    Oh come now, yourself. The U.S. was a latecomer to the war, which Churchill and Brit intel (spies working here as hostiles) got us into, once Pharaoh Roosevelt II got on board, after the “surprise” attack on Pearl. And in the beginning, the Germans kicked our Anglo-American asses, bigtime, with the exception, a very close thing, of Their Finest Hour, over Britain. The Red Army tied up the Germans on the Russian Front while we dithered and finally got into it via a hard slog through north Africa and Italy, the beaches in Normandy, while they lost ten million soldiers. You slide on over to Red Square some May Day and call them cannon fodder. But almost all of us, all through school, were taught that it was us at D-Day, the Bulge, and raising the flag on Mount Suribachi that won the war, singlehandedly.

    Then we handed brave Russian soldiers over to Koba the Dread’s goons and they ended up in the Gulag. After which we handed half of Europe over to that monster, who makes Hitler and Tojo look like rank amateurs in the fields of murder and genocide. Huge black marks against Churchill and Pharaoh Roosevelt II and their administrations. And mark you, I do not condemn the fire bombings at Dresden, Koln, and Tokyo; our fathers and grandfathers were, unfortunately, fighting evil with evil.

    The U.S. took over Empire from Great Britain, wrote the history books, and bestrode the world like a colossus. Now its feet of clay are crumbling.

  7. BGrigg says:

    Hold on, if the US were late comers for joining on after 12/7/1941, then they didn’t get their asses handed to them before the Battle of Britain, given that battle was fought the year before. You can’t have it both ways.

    Russia, don’t forget, were ALLIES of the Nazi regime with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact, which was in effect until Germany stupidly invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. So the Soviets were almost as late to the party as the US, and one wonders when, or even IF, or what side, they would have joined had the Germany military elite not allowed Hitler to make his biggest blunder.

    How many of the 10 million were killed by Germans, and how many by the Soviets themselves, is an interesting thought. I suspect that Stalin managed to move quite a few deaths from his own side of the ledger.

    The Russians also didn’t have two fairly large bodies of water to contend with. Driving a tank to Berlin from Moscow was pretty easy, when the Germans have already paved the way. And the US have provided materiel.

    I don’t discount the Russian effort, or the valor of their men AND women, but neither side won the war without the help and assistance of the other.

    BTW, my mother’s brother Doug flew a Hurricane for the RAF during the BoB, and then transferred to the “fledgling” RCAF and flew fighter support over Sicily and Italy. And my father fought in Sicily and Italy, while my father in law fought for the Brits at El Alamein, along side his father in law. My mother in law was a child evacuee from the Blitz, and her mother was bombed out of three homes in London during that time.

    Two of the most fascinating people I have ever had the pleasure to meet were on opposite sides of the war. One was a Jew who survived Bergen-Belsen, and the other was a German tank commander who fought at Kursk, and survived the retreat to Berlin. Both had stories that would curl your toes, and could then tell a joke that would have you rolling in the aisles. Regardless of who tells the history, there were damned few winners of that conflict.

  8. Miles_Teg says:

    Roy wrote:

    “Totally off topic (if there is such a thing), I see that one of the free Kindle books today (but perhaps not free tomorrow) is an autobiography of a Russian woman who flew the Sturmovik during WWII, shot down and captured by the Germans after some 270 missions. I haven’t read it but it looks worth adding to the library at that price.”

    Thanks for the heads up Roy. Just got it for free.

    (I’ve been reading about WWII in eastern Europe, so this’ll be a welcome edition.)

    BTW, is there a site within Amazon that lists all the free books that day?

  9. Miles_Teg says:

    RBT wrote:

    “I don’t have the low opinion of Operation Keelhaul (and Paperclip) that you seem to have. We were just getting rid of the ones who were useless to us and grabbing the good ones.”

    According to the Wikipedia article they also sent back White Russians who had never been Soviet citizens, or at least since the start of WWII. There was therefore no excuse for sending them back.

  10. OFD says:

    There are few winners in any war, and that point was brought home to us yet again after watching a relatively new PBS history of the War of 1812, basically a total waste, like most wars.

    WWII redounds to the present day and has affected many of us. My hat is off to your uncle Doug, dad, grandfather, and the mothers. My first wife’s uncles and grand-uncles and cousins were murdered by first Russian and Ukrainian pogroms and then by the Nazis. My current wife’s father was a WWII Navy vet; her uncle fought in the Pacific War, and her other uncle was in the Korean War. My paternal grandfather was in the so-called Great War; father in the Coast Guard during WWII in the north Atlantic; maternal grandfather in North Africa for three years in the same war. One of my own uncles was a Navy veteran of the Vietnam war, and old OFD did one tour in that one and one in the Cambodian wars, out of Thailand and throughout Cambodia and Laos. Wife’s cousin is a five-year Ranger vet of Afghanistan and Iraq, and our son’s sister-in-law just finished two tours in both of those places with the Marines.

    And those who stay behind and wait and suffer should not ever be forgotten, either.

    Seems like there is a nifty little war for every generation.

  11. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    If the US had remained neutral, Germany would have won. If the USSR had remained neutral, Germany would still have lost.

    And while I agree that it was a huge mistake for Hitler to invade the USSR before he’d closed the back door, I think his really fatal mistake was in allowing the Brits to evacuate their army at Dunkirk, when they had it surrounded and could have destroyed Britain’s ability to defend itself against invasion. At the time, Hitler considered it a face-saving gesture to allow Britain to retreat, but what he in fact did was allow the UK to become a gigantic, unsinkable aircraft carrier from which the Brits by night and the Americans by day bombed him out of the war. (I’ve had this argument with Pournelle, who supports the finds of the strategic bombing survey, which concluded, if not that the strategic bombing campaign was a waste of time, that at least it had minimal effect.

    Minimal, hell. The Germans lost the war because of what bombing did to their production capabilities, particularly for POL. Without that, D-Day could not have occurred, and if they hadn’t been so pitiably short of fuel they would have thrown the allied forces back into the sea during the Ardennes offensive, or at least driven a wedge and later defeated allied forces in detail.

    The only reason that the Germans were able to hold out as long as they did against the strategic bombing offensive was a result of an historical oddity. Germany was originally a collection of city states, each of which had a production specialty or specialties. The whole country with the exception of the Ruhr and a few others was a huge collection of small manufacturing plants and the Germans made the most of that. If we wanted to destroy their ability to make, for example, aircraft engines, it wasn’t a matter of bombing the crap out of five or ten large factories; we had to destroy literally hundreds of small manufacturing plants.

  12. Miles_Teg says:

    Bill wrote:

    “BTW, my mother’s brother Doug flew a Hurricane for the RAF during the BoB, and then transferred to the “fledgling” RCAF and flew fighter support over Sicily and Italy. And my father fought in Sicily and Italy, while my father in law fought for the Brits at El Alamein, along side his father in law. My mother in law was a child evacuee from the Blitz, and her mother was bombed out of three homes in London during that time.”

    My father was young enough to be just a trainee when WWII in Europe ended. Apparently he graduated as a wireless operator the day after the war there ended. He had plenty of anecdotes to tell about life in the UK and the people there but (fortunately) didn’t have any war stories to tell. And he wasn’t sent to the Far East either.

  13. Roy Harvey says:

    Not anywhere with everything free on Kindle, but I have had some gems (amid tons of dross) from I get the email and have an RSS feed too.

    My first introduction to the Sturmovik was in, a book I think 99% of the participants here would appreciate.

  14. Roy Harvey says:

    Oops, got the URL formatting inside out. Sorry about that.

  15. Chuck Waggoner says:

    For what it’s worth, both of my German daughter in-law’s grandfathers (drafted in their late teens for more than a 6 year stint each, then 2 years more as POW’s, losing nearly a decade of their lives) concur with RBT that it was the US which defeated Germany — not Britain, and not Russia. Without the US, Britain would have been crushed. Those two young soldiers were actually praying for Germany’s defeat by the US, because they were quite sure that Europe would not be free if Germany (or Russia) won.

    If you have not seen Der Untergang with Bruno Ganz playing Hitler, I believe it is quite educational. Of course, the information one gets from living in Germany is quite a bit different than what is spread about over here in the US. IMO, Hitler was — time after time — just plain incompetent. I think Der Untergang shows how that was true, and also makes clear that Hitler was likely not all that mentally stable. I suspect Der Untergang is fairly close in depicting both Hitler’s true personality, and what happened during those final days in the bunker.

    But Goebbels was the truly scary one. Had he decided to knock Hitler off and replace him (which Goebbels could have accomplished, but had grave reservations about doing), things might have played out quite differently. IMO, after Hitler’s loss in Stalingrad in early 1943, Goebbels could have easily challenged Hitler for power, then and there, but he declined to do so — backing Hitler even while knowing Hitler was increasingly showing his incompetence. Goebbels was a PR genius, and came as close to the Pied Piper of Hamlin as I think anyone has ever gotten. Thankfully, we never had to deal with him as Hitler’s replacement.

  16. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I might add that the same is true of Japan’s defeat. Had they not attacked Pearl Harbor, they probably wouldn’t have gotten nuked. Roosevelt desperately needed a casus belli, and the Japanese gave it to him.

    Had it not been for the US, the UK would have lost, either by suing for peace or being invaded and occupied. The RAF and RN would not have sufficed. As to Russia, it had huge numbers of cannon fodder, but it would eventually have run out. And, again, without US materiel, the end for Russia would have come sooner rather than later.

    If Germany had put the UK out of the war, with its back door secure it could have rolled over the USSR. In fact, it very might have done so as it was, were it not for another of Hitler’s huge mistakes, Operation Punishment. The invasion of Russia was originally intended to begin on 15 May, but Hitler got side-tracked by Yugoslavia and wasted six weeks. By the time he actually invaded Russia on 21 June, it was too late. As it was, German forces got literally to the gates of Moscow before winter brought things to a standstill. Had he begun six weeks earlier, as originally intended, he would almost certainly have taken Moscow and the Politburo, and Russia would have collapsed.

  17. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Incidentally, I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a German guy who’d been a junior officer on the Russian Front and then later fought allied forces in France. He said that Russian forces were hard fighters, but so inflexible that small German units routinely defeated much larger Russia units. Germans often fought and won when they were outnumbered five or even ten to one. And much of the reason was that the Russian command structure was so inflexible. He said that German second lieutenants routinely made decisions on the spot that in the Russian forces would have to bumped up to a colonel or even a general, with the decision taking hours or even days to filter back down to the troops. And he said that when he encountered US forces, he was shocked to find the same was true in reverse. Decisions that would be bumped up to him as a captain in the German forces were routinely made by sergeants and even privates in the US forces.

  18. SteveF says:

    That concurs with what I was taught as a cadet and junior officer.

    The Russian Army had the human wave, with decisions made at the Generals level.

    The Brits developed drills, where each member of a squad knew his job. The privates’ jobs were rigid and defined back in England, but the squad leader had some ability to make decisions and the platoon leader had a bit more.

    The Germans developed great initiative and flexibility in their junior officers.

    The Americans came up with “Don’t just sit there. Try something. Try anything.” with ideas for the “anything” coming from anyone from privates to generals. This was backed by unmatched materiel — instead of sending a patrol to check out a tree line, as the Germans would, the Americans would just shell the crap out of it.

    … Which led to “When the Germans fire artillery, the British and Americans take cover. When the Brits fire artillery, the Germans take cover. And when the Americans fire artillery, everyone takes cover.”

  19. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Ah, yes. I remember the German guy talking about the incredible resources the Americans brought to the fight. At a time when the Germans were rationing ammunition, let alone grenades, he said the Americans would just crack open a couple cases of grenades and tell everyone to grab as many as they felt like carrying. He said the German grenadiers, who were specially trained to use grenades, expended them only when the tactical situation made it necessary. Americans, on the other hand, were famous for announcing their presence by tossing grenades through windows and doors before entering a building, whether or not they had reason to believe there was anyone in there.

    He was also stunned at how good American soldiers were with those grenades. He said the average American soldier was better at putting a grenade just where he wanted it than the trained German grenadiers were. I explained to him that that was because all of those American soldiers had grown up playing sandlot baseball.

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