Thursday, 22 March 2012

08:47 – Arrrrghhh! Leakage is the bane of anyone who ships liquids. I was making up the bags of hazardous chemicals for the biology kits the other day. There are seven of those. I’d distributed 30 sets of the first six to plastic bags. When I was about to add the seventh, Sudan III stain, I immediately noticed that the bag that contained 60 filled, sealed, and labeled 15 mL dropper bottles of Sudan III stain had liquid in the bag that had leaked from one or more of the sealed bottles. Ruh-roh.

The problem is that that stain is made up with a 50/50 mixture of 70% isopropanol and acetone. Both have low viscosity, and both are difficult to keep in a sealed bottle. The combination of the two was apparently too much for the dropper bottle cap, and several of the bottles had leaked. Dropper bottles are inherently more leak-prone than bottles with standard screw caps, so I immediately filled, capped, and taped a bottle of Sudan III stain using a standard PP cap with a PE liner. That bottle is standing on its cap right now. I’ll give it several days to leak. If it lasts until next week with no leaks, I’ll assume that that cap is good enough to prevent leaks during storage and shipping.

In fact, I’m seriously considering abandoning the use of dropper bottles entirely and shifting to using standard screw caps exclusively in all of our kits.


37 thoughts on “Thursday, 22 March 2012”

  1. My aunt passed away yesterday. I had stopped by the nursing home at 4:00P on the way back from Nashville. She looked dead then. 5 hours later and she was gone. It was the best thing that could happen to her as her mind was totally gone, unable to control her body enough for her to swallow.

    She will be cremated and the ashes scattered on the Beach at Port Townsend (shh, don’t tell anyone) sometime this summer. Cremation was paid for many years ago.

    Now another hassle begins and that is dealing with the IRS, Social Security, QWEST (her retirement), the VA and TN Medicaid. She has a will but has nothing of value so I will skip probate. I am not the executor but the lady that is does not want to do it. Not much to do anyway.

    There is no sorrow in this passing. Only joy that she is now released from the cruel bonds of dementia. Death indeed was a welcome relief.

  2. Our condolences. No matter what the circumstances, loss of a loved one is never easy.

  3. Bob:
    Whenever I’ve ordered dropper-chemicals for our forensic lab (I’m a cop), they always come w/a regular cap (sealed) and a separate dropper cap, for the reasons you describe. Is that too $$$ ?

  4. My condolences, as well. Even though the death is a release, the loss is still felt.

  5. Sorry to hear it, Ray. As you said, this was the best that could happen. Dementia sucks.

  6. Whenever I’ve ordered dropper-chemicals for our forensic lab (I’m a cop), they always come w/a regular cap (sealed) and a separate dropper cap, for the reasons you describe. Is that too $$$ ?

    Well, it’d be more expensive, certainly, but that’s not the main issue. Believe it or not, my main concern is cubic. We’re already close to overflowing on the box, and going to a larger box would significantly increase the shipping cost.

    The reason we went with dropper bottles in the first place is that it’s “expected”. That is, other science kits use dropper bottles. The truth is that dropper bottles aren’t particularly useful for what we’re doing. If I were using one of our kits, the first thing I’d do is pop the dropper tip out of each of the bottles so that I could use plastic pipettes to get as much solution as I needed. Even for microscopy stains, which are almost always supplied in dropper bottles, that dropper tip is too crude in my opinion. It’s much easier to get a tiny drop of stain exactly where you want it by using a plastic pipette.

  7. My condolences, too, Ray. I have always admired that you took on the task of caring for your aunt and stuck with it, even as her mind disintegrated terribly, and the bureaucracy you faced was contradictory and intimidating. I’m sure she would thank you, if she could.

  8. Thanks all. The biggest issue for me was that she be kept comfortable in the final hours. She passed quietly with no discomfort. She had not been eating for the last week and I was firm that no feeding tubes or IV be attempted. As much as I would have liked for her to suffer miserably because of what her and her husband did to me as a child, two wrongs don’t make a right. They placed morphine pills under her tongue. Surprisingly the state had no restrictions on the quantitie of morphine to be given.

    Now the next phase of the bureacratic mess starts. Dealing with the government agenicies is never easy. I cannot imagine the hell that people go through without someone mentally competent to do all the footwork and paperwork.

  9. Ray, your ability to complete this duty is admirable!

    I got off “lucky” when my wife passed away. No need for probate. I just sent off copies of the death certificate to the various agencies that required it, filed a last tax return ($0 income due to her illness), and that was that. Sounds as if you are in for more of a ride. Good luck to you!

    During her final days, she was provided enough Morphine so that “I didn’t have to keep coming and getting more”, which was as broad as a wink to a blind horse that there is an unspoken acceptance of euthanasia as a means to prevent long term suffering and loss of dignity. Anne didn’t take that path, but it was a topic of discussion on more than one occasion. Easily amongst the most difficult conversations I have ever had.

    While I am acceptable to people wishing to end their misery due to terrible illnesses, I do not wish for the legal sanction of a government approved euthanasia law. I figure the opportunity for abuse is far too great. “Based on these actuarial tables, we can’t justify funding the money for your treatment, best to take the more direct approach and harvest your organs before the disease ruins the merchandise”. Would Carousel be far behind?

  10. Oh, yeah. The way things are now in the US, the worst thing you can do is have an organ donor card. They tend to harvest organs before the donor is quite as dead as he should be. There’ve been several news articles on this recently.

  11. So far I see the running in the Dystopian Derby as Orwell with the early, and maybe obvious, lead with government surveillance, propaganda and perpetual war; while Huxley is close behind with drugs used to keep social peace, genetic manipulation and icon worship. But WAIT! There’s a third entry in the race! Larry Niven is making a last ditch effort with Organlegging and is coming up fast on the outside! It’s going to be an interesting race, folks!

  12. I had the organ donor box checked from my first driver’s license* up until my mid-30s. That was the point that I became aware of what a racket the donation biz was. In particular, there’s pay or other benefit for everyone involved in the process except for the donor and/or his survivors. To hell with that. Either come up with artificial organs or start paying the donor’s heirs or tell the doctors and paper pushers that they have to work for free.

    * Which I didn’t get until I was almost 20. Sheesh, you drive one car into a tree when you’re 15 and people get all unwilling to let you go out on the road legally.

  13. Now the next phase of the bureacratic mess starts. Dealing with the government agenicies is never easy. I cannot imagine the hell that people go through without someone mentally competent to do all the footwork and paperwork.

    Is anyone on the legal hook for the paperwork to get done? What can happen if everyone just goes limp on the bureaucracy, sending each fiefdom a notice of the death and nothing more? If there were anything of value in the estate that would be one thing, but if there is nothing…

    I’m not (quite) suggesting it, but I sure wonder what the catch-22 is.

  14. As regards testing for leaks that might occur in shipping, don’t forget about possible temperature changes and ambient pressure changes. Even if it doesn’t go by air, the package might be going to Denver — and might roast in the back of a truck on the way there, increasing the vapor pressure of volatile solvents.

  15. When you say “not as dead as the should be”, how far from death are they?

    I didn’t find much to dissuade me when I became an organ donor, but I’d be interested to see if I missed anything.

  16. As in not dead. As in heart still beating and brain still functioning.

    I do wish the religious nutters would get out of the way of the scientists. But for the ridiculous restrictions on stem-cell research, we might have already made significant progress on growing organs independently of a human body to host them.

    And what really pisses me off is that you can bet that when that day finally arrives, the religious nutters will be trying to shove their way to the front of the line. If they’re so damned concerned about the will of god, why is it that they take antibiotics and have surgery instead of letting the will of god decide their fates?

  17. Didn’t Obama lift the stem cell funding restrictions about 3 years ago? Or are you talking about new embryonic lines? I’m not knowledgeable enough to know what exists and if you still need embryonic.

  18. Also on stem cell restrictions. I thought the restriction was mainly the use of federal funds, but I’m ignorant.

  19. Proposed new entry in Wikipedia: Ray Thompson = Good Man

    Can I show that to my wife and say “I told you so.”?

  20. Is anyone on the legal hook for the paperwork to get done? What can happen if everyone just goes limp on the bureaucracy, sending each fiefdom a notice of the death and nothing more?

    I really don’t know. I have POA and have been told while she was alive if I did not get her care I would be on the hook for charges. Never told me what charges. But as it exists now a grand jury can indict you for being ugly.

    I have gotten social security stopped. Her last check for retirement will go to the Miller Trust account in which the state is the beneficiary. The state will keep the money which they are not legally entitled to. Fighting that battle will be difficult and costly. I cannot stop the check as it is already in process.

    So my plan at this point is to go the bank with the death certificate and have the account frozen, no activity. The direct deposit will bounce and QWest will send a paper check to her at my address. I would have another account which is a guardian account to which I can deposit the check. The state can have the rest of the Miller Trust, $0.62. I may just ignore the account and let it go dormant. Let the state dig for it if they want it.

    I have to also go the VA tomorrow with the death certificate and get those benefits stopped. I think she gets one more payment as those are paid for the past month.

    Now this is the odd part. I have paid for an entire month in the nursing home. I don’t know if that gets refunded to me. If it gets refunded to me, then the state is due part of that as they have paid for a large chunk of the month. I asked DHS how that works and they said they don’t know, no one has ever asked. So what am I supposed to do if the “experts” don’t even know?

    The IRS will be no problem. I will just file a final return in January of next year. They should be easy. It is the state of TN that are clueless clods. The people I really need to ask will not answer their phone nor do they have a method to leave a message. I tried all day. The phone just rings and then goes silent. Bunch of assholes.

    Cremation is tomorrow morning. I will pick up the ashes on Saturday. Will make the trip to Port Townsend in July or August. I will ship the ashes to the local funeral home as I don’t want the TSA dumping the contents checking for a 1 ton bomb.

    TSA = Training Sexual Assault.

  21. I was going to create a wikipedia page, but it turns out there are already several variants on Ray Thompson. If you can tell me your middle initial, you’ll have a glowing, fictitious, and meticulously authenticated biography before long.

    TSA = Tolerating Sexual Assault

    Not me, though. I refuse to fly, and have sent fairly nasty letters to airlines saying so. Yes, I’m aware that the airlines and airports are not fully responsible for TSA’s excesses (and cost and general uselessness) but they were happy enough to dump the responsibility on the federal government when the opportunity arose. More importantly, they are the only point at which a law-abiding citizen can apply pressure. It’s obvious that Leviathan doesn’t care what the people think.

    So what am I supposed to do if the “experts” don’t even know?

    Good question. I’ve been driving without a license for over two months because some DMV clerk made a typo several years ago which came to light only when I needed to renew. The problem apparently cannot be resolved. In an unrelated matter, my business is probably out of compliance with some paperwork because Office A sends a threatening letter saying we have to file some form saying XYZ. Then a couple months later Office B sends a threatening letter saying we have to file the same form saying ZYX. Lather, rinse, repeat, with no termination condition for the endless loop. Of course Office A and Office B don’t talk to each other and each claims to be the definitive authority. Note, however, that both of the above problems are with the NYS government, which not only has a notoriously useless bureaucracy but which to all appearances is actively trying to chase all small businesses out of the state.

    As for what to do about it, I have a few ideas. The leading contender is to kidnap, murder, and butcher large numbers of government employees. Then feed them to pigs. Then eat the pigs. The pigs are a necessary step because I’d feel uneasy about eating government employees. Not for any moral reasons, but because they’re filthy and disgusting and not fit for human consumption.

  22. I’ve never noticed pigs being conspicuously picky eaters. As noted above, they’ll eat anything. I’ve never had occasion to feed them a human corpse, but I’ve seen them eat fairly large bones of, I believe, pigs.

  23. I have seen pigs slurp down rattlesnakes and cobras like spaghetti here and overseas. Makes me think a bit once in a blue moon when I have some bacon or a ham sammich.

    I haven’t flown in a plane in seventeen years and no plans anytime soon to do that. I doubt if I could get through the Testicle Squeezing Authority without braining somebody anyway. And it would probably not because of what they are doing to me, but let me see them manhandling an old person or a toddler and all bets are off. I may or may not then end up posting here from my computer time at the prison.

    Actually, I won’t go to prison, either. Nuff said.

    Very sorry about your loss, Ray, but also mindful of the peace it may bring you and yours and even those that caused you pain long ago. Some form of dementia is among the three leading causes of death in my family, the other two being cancer and gunshot, no lie.

  24. Well, Vancouver had a serial killer that had a pig farm. Never did find any bodies, but lots of DNA, and there is the logical conclusion as to why. I actually have some experience with pigs, though certainly not any that were ever fed any meat, and as a farm animal I like them more than I do cows and chickens. It’s just the thought of forcing pigs to eat such particular swine seems rather “boarish”.

  25. OFD casually tossed off: “the other two being cancer and gunshot, no lie.”

    Self-inflicted or otherwise? 😉

  26. SteveF wrote:

    “I’ve never noticed pigs being conspicuously picky eaters.”

    You should watch the movie Leon aka The Professional. Leon tells his protege, Matilda, that pigs are very clean animals, which is why they might turn up their noses at US public servants.

  27. Bill wrote:

    “OFD casually tossed off: “the other two being cancer and gunshot, no lie.”

    Self-inflicted or otherwise? 😉

    Tossed Off? Bill, we *did not* need to know that. Anyway, how do you know what Dave gets up to in his spare time?

    Dave may not have to neck himself, I’m sending a well trained police dog called Chuck to take care of his cats, and any human cohabitants who try to interfere with him in the line of his duty.

  28. With my parents, notification to Social Security was done by the funeral home, which is now a legal requirement. Contacting Social Security yourself is completely unnecessary (unless somehow you manage to avoid a funeral home). If they die before the check is in the mail, you will never get it; they don’t do partial months. You die, the funeral home reports it instantly, and everything stops pronto. Both my parents managed to die just before the check was to be cut. I’m not sure whether the check you get is for the month in advance, but I suspect not. So they did not get paid for the last month they lived. Both parents had pensions from former employers. Those fair folks paid for every day they lived. My dad, having been an attorney, set up a trust, which contained all their assets, and that went through like greased lightning, with my only duty being to pay the attorney who finished things off–which had all been arranged by my dad, long before he died.

    With my wife, she died as a foreigner in a foreign land. US law required Germany to report the death to the US Embassy (amazing how we can just order any country to do anything–and they do!). The Embassy then notified a half-dozen different US agencies instantly (same day she died)–including Social Security,–then told me about that later. She was not yet old enough to collect any Social Security, so there the government got a lifetime of a portion of her wages, which no beneficiary of hers will ever see, because the government will keep it

    What a country!.

  29. Is anyone on the legal hook for the paperwork to get done? What can happen if everyone just goes limp on the bureaucracy, sending each fiefdom a notice of the death and nothing more?

    Having gone through all this for my mother two years ago, I wonder. I seriously considered not bothering with final tax returns, etc. – I mean, what is the IRS gonna do? Especially as she had primarily been living on Social Security for years.

    On the other hand, one doesn’t want to wake the dragon. The IRS can get downright unpleasant, and – from what one hears – isn’t terribly bothered about things like due process. So one quietly files the paperwork and goes about one’s business…

    What I found shocking was how easy the whole process was. For example, I called up Social Security, gave them her SSN, and said that she had died. There was no verification, they didn’t even want a death certificate. Anyone could have made the call! While it makes your life easier when wrapping up an estate, the lack of security is seriously worrisome. (@Chuck: I don’t know anything about the funeral home taking action – maybe they did and didn’t tell me?)

    Ray, if your aunt was ever registered to vote, you might want to cancel her registration. I recall when I did this that the voter registration office was surprised – most people apparently don’t bother. Since requiring an actual ID to vote is apparently discriminatory, we can at least make voter fraud that little bit more difficult…

  30. “Self-inflicted or otherwise?”

    Otherwise. Two were domestic disputes, one in which the estranged spouse emptied a clip into ex-hubby, reloaded and emptied another one and then put on an insanity defense. The other actually involved a ‘Nam vet. And a third was an armed robbery a long time ago. I did my best to ratchet up that stat but no takers.

    We are facing the pending deaths of a bunch of older relatives so all this discussion is worth noting, esp. as it pertains to the involvement of the State. I now intend to browbeat these duffers into hanging on as long as possible so as to avoid all the crap.

    Fotties at night here and up into the sixties and seventies during the day, pretty good maple sap weather so far. But we could still get snow right into next month. Here’s hoping…

  31. We had a case in Canada like the estranged spouse emptying the gun into the ex-hubby. In our case it was the current hubby, and both clips went into his back as he was leaving, supposedly after telling her he was divorcing her. Her insanity defense (automaton syndrome) got her two years in treatment. Turns out the guy was loaded, and she had a pre-nup signed that would have cut her off the fortune in a divorce, but not if he died, and that particular fact was held back from the jury during the trial.

    Interesting that last part. If Columbo was alive, he would have patted his pockets, and caught the gold digging bitch. Somehow, modern judicial proceedings can be circumvented by the defense. I have no idea how the pre-nup wasn’t considered as a primary motive by the prosecutor.

  32. I have no idea how the pre-nup wasn’t considered as a primary motive by the prosecutor.

    Incompetence, malice, and hidden self-interest explain most inexplicable human behavior.

  33. brad says:

    What I found shocking was how easy the whole process was. For example, I called up Social Security, gave them her SSN, and said that she had died. There was no verification, they didn’t even want a death certificate. Anyone could have made the call! While it makes your life easier when wrapping up an estate, the lack of security is seriously worrisome. (@Chuck: I don’t know anything about the funeral home taking action – maybe they did and didn’t tell me?)

    That is because your phoning SS did not mean a thing to them. Funeral homes are connected intimately to the local coroner, the courthouse that issues death certificates (funeral home passes those out), and SS gets its information solely from the funeral home, whom they know is involved with the coroner and courthouse records. It is a very serious offense for funeral homes not to report all this stuff; not only will they lose their license, but jail time is involved for individuals offending. If you got a death certificate, it was surely from, or through, the funeral home.

    This is a change from the way things were done decades ago. My grandfather’s brother, who lived 2 doors down the street, passed on back in the late ‘60’s, and the mailman incorrectly reported to SS that it was my grandfather who had died. It took THREE YEARS to get that straightened out, and in the interim, my grandfather did not get Social Security payments. Not only that, they never made back payments to cover the 3 years he was without Social Security. That kind of stuff is what led them to the current practice, I believe.

  34. Sons of bitches. That isn’t lower-level drones making those kinds of decisions, either. Some mangler higher up. I hope they burn.

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