Saturday, 1 December 2012

11:19 – We made a quick trip out to Home Depot this morning to pick up some shelf brackets and 1X12 boards to put up some shelves in the stock room. When we got back, I climbed up on the roof to rake the accumulation of leaves out of the valleys. Barbara’s out there now with her Lawn Lamborghini® vacuuming them and the rest of the leaves in the yard.

Commenter JimC sent me a link to a fascinating site. While I was clicking around there, I came upon this article: What is the oldest audio recording of an expletive?

??? by inventors Sumner Tainter and H G Rogers. It’s the eleventh day of March, eighteen hundred and eighty five. [trilled “R”]. How is this for height? Mary had a little lamb, and its fleece was black as soot, and wherever Mary went … Oh, fuck! … [trilled “R”] Mary had a little lamb, and its fleece was black as soot, and wherever Mary went, the little lamb was sure to go. How is this for height? Over ???


13:15 – I just helped Barbara by blowing out a season’s accumulation of leaves in the back yard while she raked. I despise most yard work, but I don’t mind blowing leaves. There’s some interesting math involved, particularly when there’s a breeze and you’re blowing them into tall piles. Barbara is headed over now to her parents’ old house, where she’s meeting the movers. There are a few pieces of furniture there that the movers wanted for themselves, so Barbara offered to meet them there to get them.

We got an order this morning for a CK01A chemistry kit. I was about to ship the order when I realized that this customer might appreciate being given the option of buying our simpler, less expensive CK01B kit. So I emailed the customer about the availability of the CK01B kit. That got me to thinking. There’s no reason I couldn’t make the kit page live and start accepting orders, so I did. Here it is.

The part about the kits being in stock and ready to ship is even true, although we have only half a dozen of the kits boxed up and ready to ship. The hold-up is one item that’s been on backorder for a long time, a 12-position test tube rack.

We’ve been shipping chemistry kits with the 40-position PP test tube rack from the BK01 biology kit. It costs a few bucks more than the 12-position rack, but the alternative to not substituting the 40-position would have been to stop shipping chemistry kits. So we just ate the cost difference until the 12-position racks were back in stock.

The problem is, the CK01A kit ships in a USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate Box B, while the CK01B ships in a smaller RR Box A. The 40-position rack won’t fit in the smaller box, so we can’t build any more CK01B kits until we get the 12-position racks. (I’d put half a dozen of those aside to have available to build a small batch of the CK01B kits.)

Back in August, our wholesaler told us they’d have the 12-position racks back in stock on 30 November, so we planned around that and left 100 of them on backorder. I emailed them yesterday to ask about status of the 12-position racks, and learned that they’d shipped our backorder on Thursday. They should arrive Monday, so we’ll be ready to build more CK01B kits starting then.

23 thoughts on “Saturday, 1 December 2012”

  1. Robert, have you given any thought to a picture of each kit on its page?

    Nothing fancy, just an arrangement of the contents with the shipping box in the background.

    For us visual folks lists are boring, but a picture is worth a thousand words (as the saying goes).

  2. ” What is the oldest audio recording of an expletive?”

    Oh please! I thought this was supposed to be a family forum! 🙂

  3. “Our flagship CK01A Chemistry Kit is designed to provide a rigorous, comprehensive laboratory component for an honors first-year high school chemistry course.”

    Um, how old are first year high school kids over there? We didn’t study separate science subjects in first year (the year I turned 13), just “Science”, which was a mix of subjects. We weren’t offered chemistry as a separate subject until fourth year, when I turned 16.

  4. Um, how old are first year high school kids over there? We didn’t study separate science subjects in first year (the year I turned 13), just “Science”, which was a mix of subjects. We weren’t offered chemistry as a separate subject until fourth year, when I turned 16.

    I turned 15 in the middle of my first year of high school. All of my friends turned 15 during their first year of high school or in the summer before start of their second year of high school.

  5. The “first-year” refers to the course, not the student. STEM oriented students often take two years of chemistry in high school, a first-year course and a second-year advanced or AP course.

    Back when I was in school, we had junior high (grades 7 through 9) and high school (10 through 12). Nowadays, most students attend middle school (grades 5 or 6 through 8) and high school (9 through 12). It used to be that the standard sequence for sciency students was biology in grade 9, chemistry in 10, physics in 11, and an advanced science in 12. Humanities-oriented students usually took biology and chemistry in grades 10 and 11 and possibly physics in 12. Nowadays, biology often follows chemistry, so it’s not unusual for a student to take his or her first chemistry course in grade 9 or even 8. A lot depends on where they are in math at the time.

  6. Oh, and there are generally three courses taught in middle school science, often in two years. It usually starts with life science (intro biology) in grade 6 or 7, followed by earth science and physical science (intro to chemistry and physics) in 7th and 8th. Then they start a full science, either first-year biology or first-year chemistry, in grade 9. That said, it’s not unusual for bright students to begin a full first-year biology or chemistry course in grade 8.

  7. Hm, well, that’s different to the way we did it. In 1st-3rd year of high school (ages 12.5 to 15.5 usually) we just did Science, which was a mixture of physics, chemistry, biology, and perhaps geology. I hadn’t shown much interest in science by the end of year 3rd year (now called Year 10) so the counselor tried to get me to take just biology, which was widely perceived as a dumb kid’s subject. I insisted on doing physics *and* chemistry, one of my best decisions/examples of pigheadedness ever. I also wanted to do two units of maths, but allowed him to talk me into doing just one – one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made. But doing those “hard” subjects was a very good thing, because it got me into a class with quiet, studious kids, nor the rabble I’d been in for the previous two years.

    The thing that surprised me was that most of the smart girls were doing biology, which I had thought was a no-hopers subject. The smart boys were, almost without exception, doing physics *and* chemistry, and not biology. Almost everyone was doing two units of maths.

    So, when I’d finished high school at age 17.5 I had two years of physics and two years of chemistry, I’d have to read your lab manuals to see how they compare. We had lab work in both subjects, but not that much. I’d say we spend 75% of our time in the classroom.

    Getting into that good class in Year 11 is what got me into university, which wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed with the rabble.

  8. Just for comparison, over here my younger son had biology last year, age 14 – that would have been 9th grade. This year he has both chemistry and physics. Next year again, both chemistry and physics. He’s not sure what happens in the last year. The kids split about three years ago into three different tracks – this is the college-track.

    My older son took the apprenticeship-track and has had no science since middle-school. The school that accompanies his apprenticeship is a combination of general education plus profession-specific courses.

  9. I had “earth science” in ninth grade (first year of high school here for you furriners) which sucked because the teacher was boring and sucked. Biology in my sophomore year, tenth grade, but the teacher was good and it was interesting and I got B’s. That was it for me for science, and never went past Algebra I and Plane Geometry for math; I am a super-duper humanities and social “sciences” geek from way back, most of which were AP courses for me then.

    But at nearly sixty now, I learn what I can with my severely limited math background and try to keep the remaining brain cells active, with electronics, radio, really basic physics and astronomy and suchlike. While also attempting to regain fluency in Latin and French, both of which I goofed off on too much in junior high and high school, with really boring teachers. Studied both along with medieval Italian, Old French, and Old Norse in grad school but hey, if U don’t use it U lose it.

  10. Dave, I’ve never understood that attitude among smart people. Learning is, or should be, a life-long process. If you’re deficient in math, go learn some math. There is certainly no shortage of resources, many of them free. Same thing for science. What you found difficult way back then you may find a lot easier now. Easy versus hard has a tremendous amount to do with outlook. Back then, it was useless crap, and it wasn’t cool to be good at it. Now, you might be motivated to learn things that in retrospect weren’t worthless then and aren’t worthless now.

    Hell, go check out the MIT courseware site. Pick a course, and dive in.

  11. I hear that clearly, Bob; and am aware of the MIT courses and also Khan Academy. But I don’t know how much more advanced math than arithmetic and plane geometry will be of use to me in my last bit of time on the planet. I haven’t used or seen algebra since my struggles with it 43 years ago with Mr. Fargo, who could have easily passed, minus his glasses, for a five-thousand-year-old mummy and about as lively. But I am interested in figuring out more physics and astronomy, so will start again somewhere.

    Thanks for the pep talk!

  12. Well, if you seriously want to do physics properly, you’ll really calculus and diff e at a minimum. Observational astronomy requires very little math.

  13. Right now it’s observational astronomy, mainly via binoculars, and radio electronics. But I can see getting further into physics down the road a bit, maybe. Any way to avoid more algebra?

  14. I think the problem is you can learn a lot *about* physics that way… but you can’t learn much of it. The mathematics is so much of it.

  15. I took quite a bit of physics in both high school and college. My favorite physics teacher used to say, “Physics is so easy. All it is is finding the formula for a particular action and plugging in numbers.” His point was really aimed at the people who could not really grasp some of the concepts. He kept saying that you do not have to understand the concepts; all you have to do is memorize which formula goes with which action, and plug in the numbers.

  16. Well, I don’t agree with that. Being able to derive the formulae and understand what’s going on is very important. If all you can do is plug in numbers you’re screwed if a different formula has to be derived to anything you’ve been taught.

    In 2nd year computer science we had a lecturer who set an exam (Numerical Methods) that had an average mark of under 40%, most of the students were really dark with him for the way he changed the formulae to be used in the exam so they were different to they way they looked during the course. That was the year before I did his course, when he first came into the lecture theatre I thought “Geez, what a scruffy looking student.” But he was the lecturer. He wasn’t one of my favourites.

    Physics is the Queen of the Sciences, there’s no such thing as too much physics.

  17. OFD wrote:

    “Right now it’s observational astronomy, mainly via binoculars, and radio electronics. But I can see getting further into physics down the road a bit, maybe. Any way to avoid more algebra?”

    You don’t want to avoid algebra, you want it morning, noon and night! It’s not hard. Really! Just get some Schaum’s Outline Series books and get started. Physics and mathematics are things of beauty that will repay time spent studying them.

  18. I certainly agree with that, and I’d add that chemistry, biology and the other sciences are in the same class.

  19. Well, I don’t agree with that. Being able to derive the formulae and understand what’s going on is very important. If all you can do is plug in numbers you’re screwed if a different formula has to be derived to anything you’ve been taught.

    I had an excellent high school physics teacher. The most bedrock fundamental thing I learned from Mr Martin was that you have to get the units right. He would do all sorts of basic algebraic manipulations of the formulas from the books, but always emphasizing how the units changed at each stage. In other words, we were not just manipulating numbers, but properties. I know it seems like something simple and obvious, but he made it all fit together. Late in the year he put a very basic formula of some sort on the board, and then took it through a succession of steps (long forgotten by me) applying different things we had covered over the year, and when he was done what we had up there was E = mc squared. A real tour de force, at least as I saw it at the time.

  20. I had the same physics teacher in Year 11 and 12: Greg Winner. He was a very good teacher, and one of his best recommendations was to get a copy of Physics, the 1st year university textbook by Halliday and Resnick. He said that anyone who bought and used this book would get a grade higher than if they hadn’t, and it was this book that really ignited my interest in science. Although it was supposed to be a university level text there was plenty of useful stuff for high school physics students in it. I’m very sentimental, so I really regret selling it at the end of 1st year uni.

    Talking to Mr Winner in Year 11 I mused aloud about whether to become a teacher or a lawyer His reply, of course, was to be a teacher I don’t know how I could even have thought about becoming a lawyer, which would have involved selling my soul, sacrificing 1000 puppies, and a whole bunch of even more evil things.

    I also had good chemistry teachers in Years 11 and 12. In Year 11 I was in the chemistry master’s class, and he was one of the eight authors of the chemistry text book and lab manual we used. I still remember him gloating ironically about the 1/8 cent commission he got on each copy. In Year 12 we had a forgettable bloke for the first week or two, who had no control. I and two other boys asked the chemistry master for a replacement and we got a fairly strict disciplinarian who also drilled stuff in to us. REALLY drilled. Nearly 40 years later I still remember a lot of that stuff.

    I had some forgettable teachers in high school, a few horrors, and some really wonderful ones. Fortunately, the really good ones were mainly STEM.

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