Friday, 7 December 2012

07:56 – I see that Michigan has joined the ranks of the right-to-work states. Not surprisingly, the unions are crying foul. As of now, Michigan is one of the most heavily unionized states, with 17.5% of the workforce belonging to unions. I expect that to change quickly, now that paying union dues is voluntary. On the one hand, this is very good news for both employers and employees in Michigan. On the other, I’m kind of sorry to see Michigan join the ranks of free states because it puts them in competition with North Carolina for new manufacturing facilities.

Other than the subassemblies we plan to build this weekend, we’re in pretty good shape on kit inventory, so I’m going to take some time today to work on the LK01 Life Science Kit. I already have a pretty good idea of what will be in the kit, but I haven’t written the manual yet. As I do that, I’ll modify the kit contents to add stuff I didn’t yet realize I’d need and remove stuff that turns out not to be needed. In addition to providing what’s needed to do the lab sessions in the manual I’m writing, I’d also like the kit to be usable with other life science lab manuals and to provide the key components necessary to do a subset of the labs in the biology book. That means there’ll be a lot of juggling going on before the thing is finalized.


10:07 – Interesting. As of this morning, we’ve shipped more kits in the first week of this month than we shipped in all of December 2011, and early December is not a peak period. In November, a very slow month, we shipped about three times as many kits as we did in November 2011, and in October (which is the end of the first-semester rush) nearly eight times as many kits as we did in October 2011. Of course, in 2011 we had only the one chemistry kit and now we have several different kits. Still, we plan to introduce at least a couple more new kits in 2013, so I’m hoping those multipliers hold up or increase in 2013. If so, we’ll easily blow through our initial goal of 500 total kits in 2013.

40 thoughts on “Friday, 7 December 2012”

  1. Right-to-work: As it should be! I have never understood the justification for forcing people to pay union dues. There may, understandably, be social pressure, but forcing someone to pay money to an organization they disagree with? Insane!

    If they actually pull this off, Michigan may see some jobs return in the next few years.

  2. I hated it at uni when I had to pay money to the student union for stuff that didn’t interest me. I could opt out of joining, but I still had to hand over the dough.

  3. Pearl Harbor Day today. Flags at half-mast today here in Vermont. They’ve been at half-staff all week already due to one of our state reps here deciding to scrape the ice off his car windshield by stopping it in the middle of his lane on a state highway and getting out and doing it, with his ass hanging out in the road. A following vehicle, also blinded by ice on their windshield, struck and killed him.

    Any dunce would know to get as fah off the road as possible to do this or get to a rest area, turnout, gas station, parking lot, whatever, of which there are plenty along that stretch of highway, but Nimrod evidently felt that his “HOUSE” plate would immediately halt all other traffic on the road so he could do his windshield. If one is truly and instantly blinded by ice or snow or mud or whatever, get off the road as fah as you can and crawl up on the HOOD if need be to get it off, but keep that pile of metal between you and oncoming vehicles.

    Next time you see a cop doing a motor vehicle stop, note where he or she (hopefully) positions their cruiser. Although I have even seen some of these cretins doing it wrong.

  4. We could nominate him, I suppose, but it’s a gray area incident: another driver actually stopped by him and advised him to move his car further off the road, which he apparently did, but also apparently kept scraping the ice from the road/traffic side of his vehicle.

    http://www.wptz.com/news/vermont-new-york/burlington/Vt-Rep-killed-in-Waltham-3-vehicle-crash/-/8869880/17605946/-/9gqim3z/-/index.html

    A really stupid way to go out at age 65 with someone who ought to have known better, esp. up here, where we often get wacky weather conditions out of nowhere very suddenly. I have in mind a stretch of highway on I-91 near Mt. Ascutney, where in summer you may well find yourself in a driving, drenching, blinding rain squall and in winter a blizzard white-out, completely blinding you; everyone carefully pulls over and stops for these. Another, similar stretch of road on my current commute in the area of Georgia, VT, higher elevation. And I have driven through the Killington pass in JUNE and been blinded by a snow squall.

  5. OK, that was interesting; since my post above included the link, I just tried for the fifth time to post that link from yesterday, a totally innocuous English muffin recipe from the late Julia Child and it failed AGAIN. Strange.

  6. I’m not sure what’s going on. There are no messages listed as being held for moderation.

    The way antispam is set up here allows anyone who’s had at least one comment approved by me to post more comments without waiting for approval, as long as those comments contain at most one link. Any comment that contains two or more links is held for my approval.

  7. Next time you see a cop doing a motor vehicle stop, note where he or she (hopefully) positions their cruiser. Although I have even seen some of these cretins doing it wrong.

    Around here the standard seems to be for the trooper to park behind whoever they are going to talk to, with the left-rear of their car sticking up to a foot into the right-hand lane. Of course with lots of flashing lights.

  8. Not sure what happened with those posts, either; no error mss; I just made a totally innocuous comment about the lousy bread products in the markets that were in that list of firms owned by Blimpo or whoever and included one totally banal link for an English muffin recipe. Then the posts simply disappeared into the ether. Weird.

    Cop stops: I was trained long ago when making motor vehicle stops to position the cruiser about ten to fifteen feet behind the target vehicle and park it about 50-50 halfway between the rear of the vehicle and out into the travel lane, probably more like four or five feet, rather than just a foot, and yes, with the light bar/s flashing. And to keep an eye on the oncoming traffic as much as possible while still dealing with occupants of the stopped vehicle, the first priority at that point. But you mos def want as much metal between you and the oncoming cars and trucks as possible. Common sense, really.

    These stops are a lot easier if you have two officers, one for each side of the target, and discretion being the better paht of valor, it is also wise to wait for a second or more officers if you suspect that the operator is dangerous and/or that there multiple occupants in that vehicle. I did not often have that luxury back in the day, and had some pretty hairy incidents that I had to deal with alone. Buford Pusser, that’s me.

  9. Back when I was in college, I worked summers for PennDOT, mostly doing paving and patching. When we were working on Interstate or similar roads, policy was to park a crash truck immediately behind the work crew. That was generally one of the older 10-ton dumps filled with gravel.

    I’ll never forget the day we’d taken lunch and were sitting up near an overpass a couple hundred yards past the work area, eating our sandwiches. Someone said, “Look at that!” and we all turned to see what he meant. Someone was cruising down the right lane at about 60. He’d blown through the orange cones that started half a mile before the crash truck. He plowed into the crash truck without slowing down or swerving. We never did find out if the guy was on cruise control and dead at the wheel or if he’d chosen a particularly messy method of suicide.

    What impressed me was how far that crash truck was pushed forward.

  10. OFD, your comments were blocked by the thought police. You were talking about a child’s muffin. Stay where you are; the Kiddy Porn Patrol will be picking you up momentarily.

  11. “What impressed me was how far that crash truck was pushed forward.”

    Oh, for sure, for sure. It is always impressive when a vehicle traveling at speed slams into another one, no matter how big. Brings to mind a head-on collision I was in as a passenger in an MP truck in Kalifornia a million years ago; a total dolt had left his gf’s cah that he’d been working on parked in the middle of the road, no lights, in fog, while he ran in to get a tool or a beer or something at two in the morning. We had time, a second maybe, to see his gf’s cah’s front grille before we slammed into it at maybe forty miles per hour. The cah was a big-ass Plymouth Fury III, IIRC, and the truck pushed it backwards at least fifty or sixty feet down the road. Both vehicles totaled, and although neither I nor the young troop driving the truck were wearing seatbelts (who did, back then?) we got off easy with a few shin bruises from hitting the dash.

    “…You were talking about a child’s muffin. Stay where you are; the Kiddy Porn Patrol will be picking you up momentarily…”

    If those are children’s muffins then I’ve been devouring them for half a century now. With unsalted local dairy buttuh. Maybe some marmalade. I like them much bettuh than crumpets and scones and doughnuts. Also make nice sandwiches, esp. bacon and egg, ham and egg, maybe with cheese, and believe me, homemade is way bettuh than the crap at one of the rat-burger joints.

    Good luck to any agency or department cops or agents who come to pick me up. I may well decide at that point to go out in a blaze of glory. Or, not necessarily to go out at all, and just take them out. Depends on the mood I’m in and what I’ve been reading or watching lately…so go for it!

  12. Elsewhere recently was a discussion of bacon, in particular the ends-n-pieces packages that some places sell. So… we’re talking about makin’ bacon with a child’s muffin, and getting a piece. Good thing we’re all talking about food, or someone might get the wrong idea.

  13. I’m baffled! As more and more cities and states legalize pot (check the headlines), the feds are scheming on how to crack down on it. Is not Obummer a dope sucking mofo from way back? What’s his game? I just don’t get it.

  14. Three towns here in Vermont have authorized medical pot use so fah; I say, laissez les bon temps rouler, mes amis! Roll another one…just like the other one…etc.

    But yeah, it is passing strange that the Feds and staties keep cracking down on pot growers, users, et. al. while the main mofo in charge of the world right now, or so he and his minions and adoring fans think, was not only a smoker and joker and midnight toker back in the day, but also like to snaffle up dem lines on da mirror with his communist Paki buddies, and also play hide the sausage with them. Real funny guy.

  15. Colorado passed Amendment 64 last month legalizing Marijuana use. It should be noted that this amendment passed with strong support from the us Conservatives, probably a first in this State.

    That said, I’ll be opening my own “Pipe Tobacco Shop” with the funny tobacco for those of you wishing to visit our beautiful State! 🙂

  16. Unfortunately some with vested interest in the prohibition will still try to stop it. California has had Medical Marijuana for a long time. Passed with a voter approved initiative. That didn’t keep local law enforcement from seeking laws to stop it. LA county as well as Kern (that’s where Bakersfield is) have used zoning laws to make it impossible to site shops anywhere. US attorneys have abetted local LE and used seizure laws to break not just shop operators but property owners whose crime was renting to the shop owners.

    I’m guessing Colorado and Washington will soon see this happening as well.

    Let’s face it. There is a huge racket built around the enforcement of drug laws.

  17. I find it very interesting that drug and property seizure laws bypass juries and judges. I maintain that seizure laws also bypass the US constitution.

    “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    It seems to me that the 5th amendment is very clear about property seizure, even during a drug bust. I have no idea how they jumped from the actual drugs involved to vehicles and landed property. But then again, I am not a shyster nor do I play one on the net.

  18. I just got my Christmas marching orders. She wants a new key fob for her 2005 Honda Civic coupe. I can do this!

  19. A new key fob for my wife’s 2003 New Beetle cost me $200. Then she found the old one in another purse. Merry Xmas!

  20. Never have liked Twinkies, not even as a kid. But chocolate Zingers…mmmmmmmmm.

  21. My bad stuff was the giant Chunky bars, Fig Newtons, Hydrox cookies, and, to this day, the Cadbury Fruit & Nut bars. Couldn’t stand the Twinkies and suchlike products, other than those fruit pies they had.

  22. When I was a kid, Twinkies and such were made out of real ingredients, instead of syntehtics, like today. My grandmother could even make a pretty good copy of Twinkies, and I assure you, she never used anything in it that wasn’t food.

    For a while in the ’60’s, Hostess made devil’s food Twinkies with the white cream filling. That was pure addiction for me. But it was back in the day when no matter how much food I put away, it never stuck to me. Now, if I even think about food, I gain weight.

  23. Well, sadly, the 1Tb AV drive is not going to work in the Ultrabook. If I were a REAL modder, I would not give up, but I just watched the video of a guy who spent a year modding his Playstation 3 to hold a 1Tb drive, and he would go for months figuring out some problem–like how to format a 1Tb drive so the Playstation would recognize it. Answer is to format it as FAT32 in a regular computer, then stick it in the Playstation, and it reformats automatically to whatever the Playstation needs.

    I could make this work, but I would have to get to the other side of the motherboard, to unscrew the drive socket and add some shims to the elevate the socket to accommodate the increased space a 9mm drive needs on the bottom side of the motherboard, thus relieving the pressure put on the keyboard. I really do not have that kind of time or energy.

    By the way, in nearly 10 years of living in Germany, no one could tell me what the German word for “shim” is. “Ausgleichstucke” was the only thing they could come up with, but a shim is not always used solely for equalizing things. And one place I taught was in a manufacturing plant where they designed things, and that work definitely would have required shims from time-to-time.

    The Ultrabook works perfectly as long as I don’t screw the bottom cover on. And let me tell you, with that AV drive, it screams! From a cold start, it asks for my Ubuntu password in 13 seconds. I am logged on faster than the wireless router can assign a DHCP address. The computer shuts completely and totally off (not sleep or hibernate) in 4 seconds after hitting the power button set for a full shutdown.

    The drive was designed to both record and play video at the same time, continuously, 24/7, forever until it dies. Has a 32mb cache, which is huge. So the Ultrabook probably won’t end up being the prime portable video editing machine I was hoping for. Sad. Really. Back to the supplied 500gb drive with 8mb cache.

  24. I bought a used car that came with only one key, a key with the fob built in. I called a Ford dealer and learned that a new key would be $125, with $100 in labor to program it. (If I had two keys I could have programmed it myself, but with only one it takes a dealer.) So I bought two, for $25 each, off eBay, and paid the $100 at a dealer to have them cut and programmed.

  25. This is our fucked-up civilization now; you can probably go out and kill somebody and then YOU become the victim because of all the stress and turmoil you suffered while doing it and disposing of the body, etc. You will get a vast cash settlement from the taxpayers.

    Hey, SteveF: I see a new career for us!

  26. Gee, OFD, if only my native ability and trained skill were matched by a near-total disdain for human life. Oh, wait. Right. OK, I’m in.

  27. Gee, the site lets me post that link but not the one about Julia Child’s English muffin recipe.

    As Chuck in Tiny Town sez: What a country!

  28. Holy crap! I just looked at the molecular structure of HM-20. That’s enough to make any organic chemist’s hair stand on end. Look at all those nitrogens and stressed rings. Geez. Just looking at the structure, I’d have guessed that the stuff is less stable than TATP (Mother of Satan).

  29. Yeah, word is that by itself it is beacoups unstable but combined is A-OK. Let’s get together with SteveF and experiment with it; your place, mine or SteveF’s? Oh and Satan doesn’t have a mom. Or any parents at all, actually; a poor little orphan angel.

  30. I don’t know from explosives. My sole experience is with the military stuff, and even then I was just a pack mule and then allowed to stand several steps back and watch while the people who know what they were doing were doing what they were doing.

    That said, I do live just a few hours from a target of which it could be said, if it were a man, “he needed killin’.”

  31. The UN shoulda been tipped right into the East River decades ago; I would add to that now the NY Times building, stealing from La Coulter on that one. Oh, and Nanny Bloomberg’s office and domicile.

    My own mil-spec experience with explosives was both long-distance and very close up and personal; several times stood by with EOD guys while they disarmed and dismantled mines and booby traps, providing machine-gun cover and striking a brave pose while smoking a ciggie and trying real hard not to have my hands shaking too much. The long-distance stuff was “observing” B52 strikes with very heavy ordnance, such as to cause us to crouch on the ground holding our heads and moaning while our noses and ears bled. The planes were miles away, too.

  32. An old neighbor of ours was a retired USAF freight handler. He used to talk about loading Daisy Cutters into the back of a C-130 while in VietNam, and having an 18 year old fresh out of EOD school two striper playing bongos on the thing while he worked. The kid would always say “Sarge it’s not dangerous until I connect these two wires.” Our neighbor had less faith in the infallibility of the assembly line process.

  33. Oh yes, I remember so well how funny them EOD guys could be. They was real funny with me a time or two, as were a couple of chopper pilots, but none of them realized I was on my second tour. They quit being funny when I swung the M60 barrel toward them and advised them I didn’t give a shit if we all died.

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