Wednesday, 31 October 2012

07:58 – Barbara arrived home around 19:00 yesterday evening. Colin and I celebrated by barking, wagging our tails, and doing a circle dance. It’s good to have things back to normal.

Of course, Colin will miss the Heartland marathon. While Barbara was gone, we got through the last three episodes of series five, all of series one, and the first half of series two. Colin likes to watch the horses. He also likes it when Amy encourages the horses in her sing-song voice, “Good boy!” He was particularly intent watching one episode that featured a cattle drive, with a Border Collie herding cattle. I’m sure he’d love to have been there, working the cattle himself.

Work continues on the new batches of biology and chemistry kits, along with prototypes of our next kit.

11:31 – Sorry for the service interruption. The shared server that hosts my web sites was down. Apparently, I was the first person to inform Dreamhost. A few minutes after I submitted a problem report they rebooted the server and everything appears to be working normally. We now return to our regularly-scheduled program.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

09:01 – Winston-Salem suffered no effects from Sandy other than cool temperatures, a stiff breeze, and a few drops of rain. Today we’re expected to get some rain and wind. For the next few days, our highs are supposed to be in the mid-50’s (~ 12C) and our lows a degree or two above freezing. It is difficult walking Colin on breezy days. Like all young Border Collies we’ve had, he wants to herd the blowing leaves. Having a 70+ pound dog on leash that can accelerate from 0 to 60 in about 2.3 steps is no joke.

When I talked to Barbara yesterday she said that unless something changes her dad is to be released from the hospital this morning and they’ll be coming home today. She said that one good thing about all this is that her dad has apparently finally realized that at age 90 he can no longer do things that he could do as a younger man. So perhaps in the future he’ll listen to what Barbara and her sister say. I’m hoping that will include him agreeing to give up driving. The simple truth is that any 90-year-old man, on his best day, is more impaired than a young man with two or three times the legal blood-alcohol limit. We all cringe every time we read one of those news stories about an elderly driver running into a fuel pump at a gas station or plowing into a crowd of people in a theater line or at a bus stop.

I’m feeling a lot more comfortable about our science kit inventory. Everything is still in stock, albeit some just barely, we have another batch of 30 biology kits near completion, and another batch of 30 chemistry kits in progress. Sales are slow this time of year. Some days, we ship two or three kits. Other days, we ship none or one. Overall, we’re probably averaging about 1.5 to 2 kits/day, so the current batches should last us into December. Of course, we’ll have new batches in progress before then.

15:25 – I just called Barbara to see if she’d left yet. They got on the road around 13:30 and are currently on the far side of Raleigh. She’s taking it slowly with frequent stops to make it as easy as possible on her parents. Depending on traffic, she said they’d probably get to her parents’ place around 17:30 or 18:00, so it may be 19:00 or later before she gets home.

Monday, 29 October 2012

08:11 – Barbara called yesterday to let me know that her dad is to be released from the hospital Tuesday morning. Unlike last time, there’s no infection or other problems. It’s just the CHF. Her sister and brother-in-law returned yesterday, as planned. She and her mom are staying. She’ll drive them back tomorrow. I’m not particularly happy about them being stuck down at the beach in the middle of this storm, but at least the main effects of the storm will be farther north. It’s chilly here, and there’s a stiff breeze, but that’s about all we’ve seen so far of the effects of Sandy. There are higher winds and heavy rain forecast for tomorrow, along with heavy snow in the mountains to our west, but that’s nothing compared to what’s expected to our north.

Our supply of science kits continues to dwindle. I’m waiting for some 125 mL polypropylene bottles for the biology kits. Those should arrive today or tomorrow. And I’m labeling bottles for the chemistry kits in every spare moment. We should be able to get a new batch of 30 of those assembled this coming weekend.

Meanwhile, Germany is coming to realize that those “risk-free investments” in what have turned out to be junk sovereign bonds are anything but risk-free. German taxpayers are now on the hook for more than a trillion euros in junk debt. When this realization hits home, there’ll be a firestorm in German politics. All those Mercedes and BMWs that Germany “sold” to the southern tier were actually gifts, along with everything else the southern tier “bought” from Germany. Germans are already seriously pissed; they’re going to be livid.

I periodically get emails ridiculing me for saying that the US is in relatively good shape compared to Europe, and indeed compared to just about anyone else. Yes, we’re in bad shape, but we’re fully capable of growing our way out of it. Europe is moribund, if not in Cheyne-Stokes. Here’s another of the reasons why.

09:47 – Here’s one of the big reasons why I do what I do. These two emails arrived this morning, and are pretty typical of the emails I receive regularly. First up, a young scientist:

On Sunday 28 October 2012 09:13:14 pm you wrote:

Dear Mr. Thompson,

I am Nicholasand I am a huge fan of science , Over the summer I bought your book on chemistry after I took chemistry camp , a few months later I saw your biology book and finaly , I got your forensic book from barnes and noble on the 14th . I really love your books and you are a good author . Before I got your books I found a science store near my house called the Colorado Science company in december . The next day I went there and it looked really cool they had chemicals,microscopes, telescopes and lab supplies.You know its funny I am only 9 years old and I know alot about science.In my room I have a great science desk with a microscope, chemicals, rocks, minerals, books,a piece of american indian pottery,and marine biology specimens. When I am a grownup I want to be an archeologist and a professor of science.

I just wanted you to know that I am a big fan of your books.


Hi, Nicholas

First, thank you for the kind words. My first love was science, and for the last few years I’ve devoted all of my time to doing what I can to help young people develop their interest in science by hands-on lab work. I’m 50 years older than you are, but I still remember vividly being your age and working at my own science bench. You are at the beginning of a long and wonderful journey.

I applaud your ambition to become a scientist. We need all of the young scientists we can get. Realize that, like most young scientists, your focus may change as you get older. You may indeed become an archaeologist, but you might instead decide to become an organic chemist or a particle physicist or an evolutionary biologist. Or whatever. My point is that it’s important not to focus too much on just your current interest. Make sure along your journey to learn as much as you can about biology, chemistry, physics, and math.

Please keep me posted on your progress.

And a response from Rob in Adelaide, whose original email I posted recently:

On Saturday 27 October 2012 06:27:41 pm you wrote:Dear Bob

Thank you very much indeed for the prompt and thoughtful response. I admire your pragmatic enthusiasm to teach science.

I actually bought “Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments” first and only later noted your website and Home Chemistry Kit. I run an Ophthalmic Science Research lab in the Hanson Institute, Adelaide, so I can fairly easily source the equipment and materials independently.  But your Kit certainly looks great and would have been convenient. The image of your kit on the website brought back great memories of a chemistry set I had as a kid, something that started me on a scientific pathway. My 10-year-old daughter saw the photo of the chemistry set and her eyes were wide with excitement!

I will have to start ordering to try and make up something that looks as exciting as your kit: we have an old laundry that I need to turn into a lab for Xmas!



Hi, Rob

That’s great!

When I was about your daughter’s age, my dad helped me turn a corner of the basement into my own lab. I wonder if he knew then that he’d started me off on a life of loving and doing science. We need all the young scientists we can get, and it sounds like you’re doing for your daughter what my dad did for me. She’ll look back on this later and realize how lucky she was to have you for her dad.

Best regards.


13:33 – Although I was under the impression that he died in about 1825, Thomas Bowdler is apparently alive and well. What else to think about this abomination, an “improved” version of Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet? This cretin does more damage to a classic work of fiction than Reader’s Digest Condensed Books ever did to the books they butchered. This jerk can’t even get the aspect ratio of his cover right.

14:29 – Hah! UPS showed up a little while ago with boxes from one of my wholesalers with the stuff I ordered last week. Among them I found five dozen of the 125 mL polypropylene bottles. (I almost strained myself lifting the smallest of the boxes, which contained 90 sets each comprising 72 frosted flat slides, a dozen 3mm thick cavity slides, and a box of coverslips. Talk about a dense little turkey. I suspect that box would be literally bullet-proof. Fifteen to 30 centimeters of densely-packed glass will easily stop a bullet.)

So I labeled 30 bottles and filled them plus an extra three unlabeled. I now have everything I need to build 30 more biology kits. All I need to do is pack everything up.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

08:33 – Barbara is due back around mid-afternoon. They’ll probably be driving back through wind and rain, although we haven’t seen much of either here yet. The forecasts have the weather from the hurricane moving in here tomorrow and Tuesday and then blowing through by Wednesday. It’s supposed to cool down here later in the week, with highs in the mid-40’s (~ 7C) and lows near freezing.

I plan to spend some time today labeling bottles for the new batch of 30 chemistry kits while I watch Heartland re-runs. I’ll also spend some time cleaning up before Barbara gets home. She always does a quick scan when she arrives home, counts the dog to make sure it’s not missing, and so on. (Bill, the boyfriend of the woman who lives across the street, restores old cars. He’s always offering to trade me one of his cars for one of our Border Collies. I once actually had a deal worked out with him to trade him Malcolm for his fully-restored 1951 Packard, but then Barbara heard about it. Yesterday, he offered to trade me his Porsche for Colin. I told him I would, but Barbara would notice.)

08:47 – Well, just as I posted that, Barbara called to say her dad is in the hospital. He was having trouble breathing due to his chronic congestive heart failure. They called 911 around 1:00 a.m. The paramedics transported him to the hospital, where of course they immediately put him on diuretics. They want to keep him at least overnight, and possibly longer. That means Barbara has to stay down there with her parents. She just got back to the beach house around 7:30 a.m. She’s pissed. For weeks now, it’s been obvious from the edema in his legs that her dad needed to go to the doctor or hospital, but he simply refused. I told Barbara before they left that I thought it was a big mistake to go to the beach with her dad in CHF. She agreed that it was an accident waiting to happen, but she allowed him to push her into taking them down. But this is the final straw. She said that from now on her dad is going to do what she and her sister decide he’s going to do.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

12:47 – We’re still surviving here, and Barbara returns tomorrow. I’ve done everything I can to get the new batch of 30 biology kits ready. All they lack is one bottle, a 125 mL polypropylene bottle of fertilizer concentrate. I have 60 of those bottles on order, not to mention another 60 around here somewhere if I could only find them. The bottles should arrive Monday or Tuesday, at which time I’ll fill them and get biology kits ready to ship. Fortunately, we haven’t quite run out of biology kits. We’re down to exactly one in stock as of now. (I found half a dozen of them downstairs that I’d forgotten we had.) So, worst case, we may get biology kit orders today and tomorrow that won’t ship until Tuesday or Wednesday instead of Monday.

I don’t know why it always surprises me what it costs to send a kit to New England. I just shipped one this morning to Vermont, which cost $10.80 to ship (zone 5 postage). I guess I think of New England as “close”, given that I grew up in Pennsylvania. But much of New England is USPS zone 5 from here in Winston-Salem. That seems a bit high, considering that northern New England is only about 1,000 to 1,200 miles from us and many zone 8 addresses are anything from 3,000 to 6,000 miles from us. Of course, the military gets a bit of a break. That kit we shipped recently to an APO address cost $8.18 to ship (zone 4 postage). I emailed the woman who ordered it to ask where she actually was. Stuttgart, Germany.

Speaking of shipping kits long distances, I got email this morning from a man in Adelaide, South Australia asking if there was any way we could ship a chemistry kit to him. Here’s how I replied:

On Saturday 27 October 2012 12:18:15 am you wrote:
Dear Home Scientists

I am most impressed by your excellent scientific kits. I would like to very much like to obtain one of your CK01A kits for my daughter (and myself).

I understand possible regulatory issues, but is there any possibility of shipping to South Australia (obviously I would cover all transport costs).

Rob <redacted>

Hi, Rob

Thanks for the kind words.

Alas, at this point we ship only to the US and Canada. When we first considered shipping internationally, we wanted to ship to the English-speaking world. Then we found out how much it costs to ship to Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. At 40US$ extra, Canada is bad enough. The UK costs $60 extra, and Australia $75 extra. We didn’t bother to check NZ.

The second issue is that IATA regulations for international transport of hazardous materials make it impossible for us to ship some of the chemicals. I’m attaching a PDF that details the differences between the US and Canadian versions of the kit. If we shipped kits to Australia, the changes would be the same.

Finally, there’s the problem of loss or damage in shipping. Although it’s rare (although probably more common with international shipments), we do sometimes have a package damaged in transit; a broken beaker or thermometer, and so on. The extremely high cost of shipping means our usual policy of shipping replacements no-questions-asked is impractical.

Although insurance is available, it’s costly and from what we’re told it’s just about useless. Filing a claim takes hours of work, many/most claims are denied, and even if a claim is approved, it may be for only a fraction of the true loss and the payment may take literally months to be processed.

So our only practical alternative would be to ship FOB origin. In other words, our responsibility would end when we handed the package to the US Postal Service. All risk of loss or damage would be the buyer’s responsibility. I wouldn’t be comfortable buying a kit from us on those terms, and I’m not comfortable asking a potential customer to do so.

Best regards.


15:36 – One of the things I enjoy about Heartland is that it features many Canadian musicians, most of whom are not well-known outside Canada and probably some who aren’t well known even inside Canada. One of those is Jenn Grant, whose track Dreamer is used as the opening theme music for all six seasons of the program and whose track White Horses is used in one of the first-season episodes. Of course, most people know of the many internationally-popular Canadian musicians–Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Linda Rondstadt, Celine Dion, Alanis Morissette, Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, and so on–but Canada also turns out a lot of very skilled musicians who haven’t yet made it big. Heartland features quite a few of them.

17:11 – I’m beginning to think that both campaigns now believe that Obama can’t win North Carolina. Today has been the first day in recent memory that I haven’t gotten a phone call for either candidate. It appears that both Obama and Romney believe that Romney will win North Carolina, so they’re both refocusing their efforts elsewhere. I’d mentioned before that the political signs for both campaigns were present in relatively even numbers in our neighborhood four years ago, but now Romney signs far outnumber Obama signs. And I noticed that three more Romney signs have gone up in the neighborhood in the last 24 hours, while the number of Obama signs is the same. That puts Romney up in terms of sign count by about an 8:1 or 10:1 margin. From other stuff I’m reading, it appears that Obama has gone from what he perceived as a comfortable lead a month or so ago to running scared today.

Friday, 26 October 2012

10:07 – Colin and I finished series five of Heartland and started again with series one. It’s interesting to watch Amber Marshall reset from a 23-year-old woman playing 20 to an 18-year-old girl playing 15. The rest of the cast doesn’t look all that different jumping back from 2012 to 2007, including, oddly enough, Jessica Amlee, who was 13 when the series premiered and 18 as of the final episode of series 5.

The news from the EU remains as bad as ever and getting worse. I don’t think the politicians realize that the lull they’ve had over the last couple of months was merely the EU crisis passing through the eye of a hurricane. The winds are already picking up again. After the premature announcement a couple days ago about the release of the months-overdue tranche of the Greek bailout being released, it’s now clear that it has not been and that Greece has been given until Sunday to agree to the Troika terms. As of now, it looks unlikely to happen. If not, what happens Monday is anyone’s guess.

I’m still working on building science kits, designing new kits, and writing documentation for them. I also need to spend some time cleaning up downstairs, particularly my lab.

11:54 – Since I moved to Dreamhost from the shared server that Brian and Greg ran for a decade or more, I’ve really missed the spam filtering options that I had on their server. So I finally got around to emailing Dreamhost tech support to request some changes.

I have two requests that I would like you to consider enabling:

1. Currently, blacklisting is allowed only by <domain>.TLD. I would like to be able to blacklist by TLD. For example, it would be very useful to allow blacklist of all .CN and .BR domains, along with those from most of the rest of the non-English speaking world outside of western Europe. Ideally, this would be implemented with a page of checkboxes that allowed one to blacklist all TLDs with one click and then un-blacklist the ones you wanted to allow through by clearing the checkboxes for those domains.

2. My former service provider provided a squirrelmail spam filtering option called “discard silently” that permanently deleted the spam emails rather than moving them to a quarantine area. I would very much like to have this option.

Thank you for considering this request.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

08:04 – Barbara just left to pick up her parents and head down to the beach for a few days. Colin and I are bereft. She’ll be back Sunday. Colin and I will watch Heartland reruns and play ball while she’s gone. We made it through all but the final three episodes of series five while Barbara was at dinner last night. We’ll watch those three episodes tonight and then start again on series one.

I got email from Cathy Duffy last night. She runs the most popular homeschool curriculum review site on the web. I’d sent her a copy of Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments a few months ago, and she added it to her to-be-reviewed queue. Here’s her review.

We have everything we need to put together 30 more biology kits, except one thing: thirty 125 mL polypropylene bottles. I know we have 60 of those in inventory; I just can’t find them. So I issued a PO yesterday to one of our wholesalers that included, among other things, 60 more of those bottles. They should arrive early next week, and we can start assembling another batch of biology kits.

I spent some time yesterday prototyping a couple of the new kits that we’ll be shipping at the end of this year and into 2013. It’s important to know what size box the kits will require. The biology, chemistry, and forensics kits all fit into a USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate Box B, which costs anything from about $6 to $15 to ship, with the average being about $11. If possible, I wanted the new kits to fit a RR Box A, which costs from about $5 to about $10 to ship, with the average being about $7. That difference means we can price the kits $4 less than we would have if they required a RR Box B.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

07:57 – Reuters is reporting that the Greek government has struck a tentative deal with the Troika to release the long overdue €31.5 billion tranche and allow Greece to avoid default a month from now.

As usual, the terms are a joke. No one, including Greece, knows exactly how many people are employed by the Greek government, but it must be more than a million. That’s 10% of the Greek population. Not the working-age population, you understand. The entire population. If Reuters has it right, Greece will announce that 2,000 of these people, about 0.2% of state employees, will be put on notice that their jobs are to be eliminated a year from now. That’s 2,000. Not 200,000, which would have been a more reasonable first step toward reducing the size of government. And the layoffs will be a year from not, not right now. Then, Greece will serve one-year notices on a further 6,250 state employees every three months through 2013. So, Greece is going to lay off, eventually, about 25,000 state employees, or something like 2%. Not 250,000 which would have been a reasonable start. Drop, meet bucket.

As usual, it’s really all about Angela Merkel. She’s running for re-election next autumn, and she wants to make sure she’ll be re-elected. She doesn’t want the euro to collapse until she’s safely re-elected. She’s trying to spend as little as possible to ensure that.

13:17 – Barbara is leaving tomorrow to drive down to the beach with her parents. They’ll be back Sunday. Instead of wild-women-and-parties, I think I’ll just continue the Heartland marathon. I’d made it part way through series five the last time Barbara was away, so the question now is whether I should finish series five and then start series one again, or should I finish series five and then watch the first four episodes of series six before starting the cycle again?

When I mentioned to Barbara that Amber Marshall had gotten engaged a couple of months ago, she asked if I was disappointed. Eh? Barbara knows that I adore Amber Marshall, but it never even occurred to me that anyone would believe that I wanted her for myself. She’s an extraordinarily attractive young woman, and not just physically, but she’s young enough to be my daughter. I told Barbara that, to the contrary, I was delighted for Amber and wished her well. Now, it’s true that if I ever found out that Shawn Turner wasn’t treating Amber well, I’d have at least a passing thought of driving up there and pounding him into the ground head-first until only the soles of his feet showed, but that’s as far as it goes. I am protective of young women, not covetous.

17:29 – One of Barbara’s friends picked her up a little while ago to go out to dinner. Before she left, Barbara made me an early dinner. So, I fired up Heartland S5E13 and sat there watching it while I was eating dinner, with Colin begging the whole time. After I finished eating, I lit my pipe, intending to smoke it for a few minutes before I fed Colin. He let me know verbally that he wanted his dinner. I ignored him. He asked again. I told him to give me just a couple minutes. He then walked over to the DVD player, snouted the eject button, turned around, and looked at me. People who haven’t lived with Border Collies would pass this off as a coincidence. Those who have lived with BCs would believe it might have been intentional. Colin has certainly watched me closely many times as I ejected and inserted discs. I’m not 100% convinced it was intentional. Only about 99%.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

09:44 – I understand there was another presidential debate last night. Barbara and I watched a Dalziel and Pascoe DVD instead. These debates are all boring. Talk, talk, talk. They need to adopt my proposed debate format: give each of the participants armor and a short sword, and let them have at it.

Although October is one of the slower months for kit sales, we’re still on track to sell maybe 40 kits this month. November should be similarly slow until about Thanksgiving, when sales for Christmas and second semester start to kick in. But we’re in perilously low inventory status on the chemistry kits and particularly the biology kits. Those 15 chemistry kits we just built are dwindling fast, and the new batch of 30 biology kits isn’t ready to go yet. So, the first goal is to get those 30 biology kits finished and ready to ship, followed by a new batch of 60 chemistry kits, followed by yet another batch of 30 biology kits. Oh, and the first batch of 30 life science kits. Those should carry us through the end of the year, or nearly so.

10:37 – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard nails it: Britain has left the European Union in all but name

It has never been in Britain’s best interests to be a member of the EU, other than the common market. For at least a couple of years now, it’s been obvious to anyone paying attention that that’s exactly where Britain is heading. In terms of the common market, the EU needs Britain more than Britain needs the EU, so it’s unlikely that the EU will put up much resistance as Britain continues to withdraw from the other aspects of the EU. As the EU continues to decline and the euro crashes, I expect to see other member countries and countries with strong links to the EU also withdraw, starting with Norway and then Sweden, followed perhaps by Finland and Ireland. It is in the interests particularly of Britain, Norway, and Sweden to remain as far as possible at arm’s length from the EU, and to focus their trade-development efforts on the English-speaking countries and the developing world rather than continental Europe and distance themselves from the increasingly command-driven economies of the core EU members. I suspect that the current UK government is the last that will pay even lip service to maintaining full EU membership.

Monday, 22 October 2012

08:11 – Oh, great. Not only is North Carolina among the nine “swing states” for the presidential election. An article in the paper this morning says there are about 100 “swing counties” nationwide, of which a dozen are in North Carolina. And we’re one of them. So I guess the flood of spam political phone calls we’ve been getting is likely to get even heavier over the next couple of weeks.

And the IMF is proposing a plan that would wipe out a large amount of the world’s sovereign indebtedness, proposing something I’ve favored since the 1960’s: eliminating fractional-reserve banking. For those of you who don’t follow banking esoterica, fractional-reserve banking is both simple and fundamentally dishonest. It amounts to private, legalized counterfeiting.

When you deposit money in your bank, you deposit it in one of two types of account: a demand-deposit account, AKA a checking account, or a time-deposit account, AKA a savings account. So let’s say you deposit $1,000 in your checking account and $100 in your savings account. With the demand-deposit account, you are not lending that $1,000 to the bank. They are holding your money for you, in a fiduciary role, and you are entitled to reclaim that $1,000 at any time. You pay a fee to the bank for holding your money safely. With a time-deposit account, you are actually lending that $100 to the bank for a specified term, typically six months (check the fine print). The bank is then entitled to lend that $100 to someone else.

Fractional-reserve banking corrupts that system, which had worked very well for hundreds of years. In fractional-reserve banking, the bank lends out not only the $100 you placed in your time-deposit account, but most of the $1,000 (typically $900 or more, depending on the reserve requirements in effect at the time) you placed in your demand-deposit account. In other words, they’re misappropriating money that isn’t theirs to lend. The effect is that the bank just creates $900 out of thin air. The result is difficult to distinguish logically from the bank simply counterfeiting $900.

Now, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard gets a lot of the details wrong. Adam Smith, for example, propagated no myths about this. He nailed it completely. AEP is also confused about how money worked in Sparta and Rome. There’s no evidence that Sparta used iron coins, for example. They probably did use iron ingots as a value store, but AEP ignores the relative value of iron then and now. At the time he speaks of, Europe was just transitioning from the bronze age to the iron age, and an iron ingot had significant inherent value. It could, for example, be turned into a sword. But Evans-Pritchard gets the broad-brush issue right. It’s long past time that we eliminate fractional-reserve banking, which is simply institutionalized theft on a gigantic scale.

13:07 – There must be some way to sue political parties for harassment. So far today, I’ve received eight–that’s EIGHT–political calls. It seems to me that despite their free pass from the DNC regulations, political parties should establish a DNC list of their own. That list should be propagated downward to every candidate running under the auspices of that party, from the president to local candidates, and severe penalties should result if anyone violates it.

13:51 – I don’t know why inflation continues to surprise me. Perhaps I’m more aware of it than most people, who aren’t likely to remember exactly what price they last paid for a specific item. But just now I cut a PO for sticky labels and other stuff from iBuyOfficeSupply. To do that, I copied the spreadsheet for the last PO to them, which I issued on 1 May. I ordered two of the same items this time as last time: sticky labels for chemical bottles by the box of 7,500 and sticky labels for running postage labels, by the box of 100. In 5.5 months, the price of the small labels had increased by just over 12.5%, and that of the larger labels by about 13.1%. It’d be interesting some time to go back and compare our Costco receipts from months ago to the most recent one. I’d guess food prices are increasing at the same rate, give or take. This really can’t go on. Of course, the official government inflation figures are grossly understated, much like the official government unemployment figures. Do they really think that no one notices that prices are going up much faster than they admit or that a boatload more people are without jobs than they admit?