Thursday, 22 November 2012

09:01 – Barbara is leaving late this morning to meet her parents and sister to spend the day celebrating Thanksgiving. I’m not much for holidays, and certainly not religious holidays, so today is just another work day for me. Barbara will bring me food when she returns this evening, I hope not including any turkey. It’s not that I dislike the taste of turkey so much as that I think it’s a bad idea to eat something so stupid that it can literally drown while drinking because it forgets to take its head out of the water.

I ran out of chromatography paper envelopes while I was building kits yesterday, so Barbara is going to label and stuff another 60 of those before she leaves. That gives me enough to finish building 30 each of the chemistry kits and biology kits, as well as some prototypes of the two new kits. I also have a case of glass Petri dishes that’ll be in one of the new kits. We have to figure out how to package those so they can survive shipping. I know we’ll use bubble-wrap; I’m just not sure yet which type or how much.

Barbara has been encouraging me to get a tablet. I’ve hesitated because I really prefer something with a real keyboard. I’d been thinking about buying a ChromeBook, so yesterday I went ahead and ordered one from Google. I’ll probably give it to Barbara, but I may use it from time to time.


11:45 – In designing science kits, I end up doing all kinds of little experiments that have nothing directly to do with the lab sessions covered by the kits. I’m doing one of those today.

One of the new kits I’m designing right now is the LK01 Life Science Kit. Life Science is basically middle-school biology, a simplified version of a first-year high school biology course. One of the classic experiments that’s covered at both levels is antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Our full biology kit includes four antibiotics: amoxicillin capsules, chlortetracycline and sulfadimethoxine powder, and neomycin liquid. But to simplify things for 7th and 8th graders and to keep the cost of the kit down, I decided that the LK01 kit would include three antibiotic test papers–amoxicillin, neomycin, and sulfadimethoxine–rather than the actual antibiotics.

I’m going to make the antibiotic test papers myself, by soaking letter-size sheets of chromatography paper in solutions of the antibiotics. But I need to have at least an approximate idea of the concentrations of the antibiotics in micrograms per square centimeter. To do that, I need to know how much liquid one sheet (about 600 square centimeters) of chromatography paper will absorb. Knowing that, I can calculate how concentrated the antibiotic solutions need to be. So, to determine that factor, I’ll weigh a sheet of dry chromatography paper, soak it in water, reweigh it, and determine how much liquid it absorbs. I don’t expect a lot of variability, but I’ll do several sheets just to get a reasonable idea of how much actual variation there’ll be.

But I can’t simply use blank sheets of chromatography paper. The test papers included in the kit will be roughly 4 by 5 centimeter pieces, so I need to pre-print each sheet with “amoxicillin” or whatever in tiny little print. That may affect the absorbency, so it has to be taken into account.


14:06 – Well, it is a national holiday, so I’ve decided to take the rest of the afternoon off and watch Heartland re-runs. I only have 1.5 episodes left on Netflix streaming, so it’s time to fish out the boxed set of series three to watch the four remaining episodes in series three and then start series four on disc.

20 thoughts on “Thursday, 22 November 2012”

  1. I went for a tablet last spring and I really like it for light browsing; however, I put it aside for any input more than a sentence. Similarly, if it is much more than a paragraph such as this, I’ll not use the laptop (which I am now using) and type on the desktop later in the day.

    I do prefer the laptop downstairs in the early morning while waiting for the paper for an early catch-up.

  2. “bad idea to eat something so stupid…”

    Chuckle! That reminds me of that W.C. Fields quote: “I don’t drink water because fish fuck in it.”

  3. Yes, I hunted wild turkeys a couple of times. They’re extremely smart. Their domesticated cousins, however, are incredibly stupid.

  4. ““I can’t believe we’re living this way,”

    That says a lot right there. A real shame that the rich suburbanites of Brookline and Newton have to put with damn wildlife in their yards and streets. But God forbid an extended hunting season and range or the use of any possibly lethal alternatives. Imagine, on your way to the Symphony or the Chestnut Hill Mall that you are confronted by an aggressive and hostile wild turkey as you attempt to exit your Mercedes or Beemer. The horror!

    If she can’t believe they’re living this way now, I can’t wait to see her in a few more years down there when they’re living quite a bit differently. It won’t be wild turkeys to worry about.

  5. This poor, poor woman should get a Border Collie. I don’t believe there’s any avian species that will not flee BCs, up to and including the Roc. They know a birdivorous predator when they see one.

    One of the women Barbara used to volunteer with in BC Rescue trained BCs for airport work. Airports that had severe problems with birds, particularly Canada Geese, suddenly find that there are no birds to be found.

    I remember years ago when for some reason the Canada Geese that have settled year-round in a pond a half mile from here decided to congregate on our street. They showed no signs of leaving, so I told Duncan “get ’em” and opened the front door. Within about five seconds, every Canada Goose was gone from our street, never to return.

    I just wish that worked as well on Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Well, when JWs show up at my door, I tell them that Colin is named Satan and he’s my familiar. They take off running, too. But it’s just not the same if I don’t let the dog chase them.

  6. Jeezum Crow, how many frigging times a year do youse guys down there in the tropics get visited by Witnesses and Mormons??? We’ve seen a pair of each in the last DECADE up here.

    Hell, I’m gonna be a real sport here and send down some good ol’ Roman Catholics to evangelize you pagans and heathens and heretics, schismatics and apostates.

    And Happy T-Day!

  7. Well, it’s a lot less frequent in our neighborhood than it used to be. I think the word got around that a radical atheist lives here. But we still get Mormons and JWs once every couple or three years. They’re just a minor annoyance now, compared to the visits every month or two by evangelical Southern Baptists of one stripe or another, usually middle-aged women in pairs. It’s against the law to shoot ’em, more’s the pity.

  8. Seriously.

    I used to work with a guy who, when someone pissed him off, would say, “I’d shoot you if it wasn’t a crime.” That’s exactly how I feel when someone interrupts me to preach some religious garbage. If I could get away with it, I’d shoot them and post their heads and bibles on pikes in the front yard to discourage the others.

    Another guy I knew around the same time had his property posted: “Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be eaten.” I was going to put up that sign in our front yard, but Barbara wouldn’t let me.

  9. I used to threaten people that I’ve eaten human flesh before* and that I have no moral qualms against doing it again.

    * It was an accident – bit off half of a guy’s thumb in a fight, then damn near choked on the damned thing. And because I was in 7th grade (and my opponent was in 8th but was supposed to be in 9th or 10th) I got detention for fighting. No mention that he (and friends) had attacked me while I was minding my own business. And no punishment for him, though I’ll concede that losing half a thumb probably makes more of a point than detention.

    As regards your current plague of pests, it seems that a handy man could rig up some kind of sprinkler system right outside the front door with the control right inside the front door. Hmm. And it need not even be hooked up to the water pipes. I imagine a ten-gallon tank suspended over the front door on the inside, with pipes going outside through the wall, would be much like having a toilet discharge on the pest’s head. Hmm. I’m going to have to give this some thought, as well as think of how to disguise it so my wife doesn’t notice it — she gets all pissy about things like ten-gallon tanks inside her dream house.

  10. I’ll send down a couple of traditionalist Latin Rite Catholics to stand guard for when the evangelical Southern Baptist heretics drop by. Also an official exorcist.

    And soon this country will be such that you and I WILL probably get away with shooting people who piss us off; law and order will go up in smoke, around the time the State can’t pay the cops and soldiers anymore. You’ll be whacking Baptists and I’ll be up here shooting all the snotty, arrogant, smarty-pants rich libruls I can find extant. And make them extinct. Here in Vermont that will cut the population roughly in half, I figure, and down in Maffachufetts, my “home” state, at least 90%. I will do doubt find eager recruits in both places to assist me in my patriotic endeavors.

    53 here and a beautiful sunny day on the Lake. Thinking seriously about SteveF’s idea for the abandoned tires.

  11. Haha! Pleased to have been of service. It’d keep the rubes busy for a while, anyway. (With “rubes” referring to the credulous flatlanders, not the rural mountain folk. Bear in mind that I grew up in the mountains (to the extent that I grew up at all, that is) and always enjoyed watching the locals rook the sophisticated down-staters.)

    Keep in mind that car tires are difficult to cut – the metal bands are tough enough to resist large-toothed saws and the rubber gums up metal-cutting blades. And the rubber is also flexible enough that a short-stroke reciprocating saw will just mush around in the rubber. A bandsaw with a small-toothed blade works fine. A circular saw should work, if you can find a blade with small teeth.

  12. After taking my mom out of the house Friday to take her to the doctor, I finally realized that she’d never agree to an assisted living place. So I actually bit the bullet and rented a place for her and bought some new furniture for her. We took her out to another doctor’s appointment yesterday, and then took her to lunch at the assisted living place. We had somebody bring my daughter by, and my mother got to see her granddaughter for the first time in two months.

    I know I did the right thing, because we had lunch and got my mom to walk into the new apartment and sit down before she figured out what’s going on. At least she loves the food, and she’s in a more appropriate environment. We were hoping to be able to bring her to our house for Thanksgiving, but we figured out that won’t work yet.

  13. “But it’s just not the same if I don’t let the dog chase them.”

    Why not let him chase, and eat what he can catch? You save on food bills, Colin gets the bloodsport he wants and the neighborhood is rid of undesirables.

  14. “But we still get Mormons and JWs once every couple or three years. They’re just a minor annoyance now, compared to the visits every month or two by evangelical Southern Baptists of one stripe or another, usually middle-aged women in pairs. It’s against the law to shoot ‘em, more’s the pity.”

    A woman I knew in the newsgroup alt.fan.dune had an enclosed front porch that could be remotely locked. There was a sign out the front along the lines of “no religious proselytizers”. A couple of Mormons ignored the sign and knocked on her front door. She was so pissed that she locked them into the porch for some time, to teach them a lesson.

    I detested this woman, not because she was an atheist, but because she was obnoxious. I was glad she was an atheist, because she gives the more pleasant ones a bad name. And she was a bit weird. She once said that she was glad when she hit menopause because she then no longer had to wear knickers. Some of the more discreet women in the forum threw up their hands and said “too much information.”

    This site is *really* slow today. Tell the hamsters to run faster.

  15. OFD wrote:

    “I’ll send down a couple of traditionalist Latin Rite Catholics to stand guard for when the evangelical Southern Baptist heretics drop by. Also an official exorcist.”

    The Southern Baptists will no doubt smell the sulfurous fumes, see the forked tails, horns and pitchforks of the LRCs and run for their lives while still a couple of houses away.

  16. Worked for several years with some other archaeologists living in an old farm house that came with an Australian Shepherd. Legitimate visitors who had never been there before could walk up to the front door unimpeded. But that dog would start protecting the property when the Jehovah’s Witnesses were still half a mile out.

  17. OFD, on further consideration, I think you should not cut the tires in half. Instead, cut rectangular-ish holes in a board or sheet of plywood and stick the tires up through. This’ll help in lowering the center of mass below the water line.

  18. Even better, and no sawing through metal-infused hahd rubbuh. Couldn’t do it yesterday or today on the Lake, though; very windy with whitecaps and rolling surf; looks like the ocean again. Mrs. OFD and I took a little walk last night down to the pier and thought on how we could sail from there to all the oceans of the world. Just bop on up through the Richilieu River to the St. Lawrence Seaway, or if we feel like several portages with canoes and/or kayaks, down the southern end of the Lake, Lake George, and the Hudson.

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