Day: June 19, 2012

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

11:35 – UPS showed up yesterday with about 30 kilograms of chemicals. (Of that, about 8 kilos was four liters of concentrated sulfuric acid.) I now have most of the chemicals I need to make up many more biology, chemistry, and forensics kits.

Speaking of forensics, our production editor just sent us the QC1 PDF of the first half of the book. I’ll be working on that heads-down until I get through it.

And speaking of kits, I got an order yesterday for a biology kit and a chemistry kit from a woman in Calgary, Alberta. I emailed her to say that we can’t ship kits to Canada, and that I’d refunded her money. I also mentioned that Barbara and I were watching Heartland and would love to visit the Calgary area one day. She replied that Barbara and I were welcome to stay with them, and could we bring along the kits. I replied that it’d probably be a few years before we’d have time to make that trip, but I’m pretty sure she was serious about her offer of a place to stay. She was obviously disappointed that we couldn’t get the kits to her.

That got me to thinking. I really hate not being able to ship kits to Canada. I really hate disappointing people, and I’ve lost count of the number of Canadian homeschoolers I’ve had to say no to. It seems so stupid. We can ship Priority Mail (air service) to all 50 states under the 49 CFR 173.4 small-quantity exemption, but that’s unique to the US. If these kits are safe enough to transport that the USPS is willing to put them on planes, it seems to me that we should be able to put them on a truck going over the border into Canada.

So I decided to see what could be done. I’ve spent several hours reading Canadian shipping regulations and talking on the phone to FedEx hazmat experts, and I’m going to do the same with UPS. At this point, it seems there may be a glimmer of hope. Although the USPS says that the ORM-D (Other Regulated Materials – Domestic) exemption is unique to the US, FedEx tells me that they’ll accept ORM-D (Surface only) packages for delivery to Canada. The Section 173.4 small-quantity exemption is a subset of ORM-D. For example, under SQE I can ship up to 30 mL of concentrated hydrochloric acid, while for ORM-D I can ship up to (IIRC) one liter. That being the case, the fact that our kits qualify for the Section 173.4 SQE should mean they automatically qualify under ORM-D. But there are a zillion details to deal with, including the fact that SQE and ORM-D have different packaging requirements. And I’m not sure if packaging that is ORM-D compliant for shipments within the US is also acceptable for shipments into Canada. All told, I suspect I’m looking at several days’ work just to determine authoritatively if this is even do-able. And, even if it is, it’d be ground-only, which means a shipment to Alberta or BC might take a week or 10 days to arrive, versus the typical two or three days via USPS Priority Mail. And, no doubt, it’ll cost more to ship the kits, probably a lot more. There may be surcharges for the hazardous materials. And, of course, there’ll be customs declarations and so on to deal with. But at this point I’m hopeful.

15:11 – The EU has announced its latest imaginary “big bazooka”, €750 billion to buy Spanish and Italian bonds on the secondary market, in an attempt to drive yields down. The problem is, that’s the combined nominal assets of the EFSF and ESM, and those assets are mostly imaginary. So now we have the ridiculous situation of Italy, which is bankrupt, guaranteeing the funds needed to buy Spanish bonds, and Spain, which is bankrupt, guaranteeing the funds needed to buy Italian bonds. Or, I suppose we could look at it as Italy co-signing on loans to Italy and Spain co-signing on loans to Spain. Give me a break. This isn’t going to fool investors. There’s no actual money there. Until Germany agrees to pay not just everyone else’s outstanding bills, but future bills as well, this is going nowhere. Which means it’s going nowhere, because there’s no way Germany is going to agree to sacrifice its own wealth to save the spendthrift rest of the eurozone. This shell game has gone on far too long already. Everyone, including the eurocrats, is perfectly aware that it’s a shell game. They just hope investors don’t notice. That’s the cloud-cuckoo land these people are living in.

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