Friday, 15 February 2013

08:27 – No word from Barbara last night, which I’m hoping means her parents passed a quiet evening and night. She’s taken the day off work today. This morning she’s taking her dad to look at battery-powered scooters. This afternoon, she’s taking her mom to see the psychiatrist that her mom used to see. He does outpatient work here in Winston-Salem, but is associated with a hospital in Thomasville. Barbara said she and her sister decided to get his appraisal of her mom’s condition and then just do whatever he recommends, including possibly admitting their mom to the hospital in Thomasville. They won’t consider putting her back in the psych unit at Forsyth Memorial Hospital, where she and they had horrible experiences. The downside is that Thomasville is a 1.5 hour round trip, so visiting their mom would be more problematic, if indeed visits are even allowed.

I am extremely disappointed in Netflix streaming. Things have been pretty grim around here, so last night I decided to watch a comedy just for some light relief. I noticed that the BBC comedy Coupling was available streaming. We’d watched it several years ago on DVD, so I decided to fire it up and watch it again. I remembered it as one of the funniest programs we’d ever watched.

So I watched the first episode of series one, and it just didn’t seem right. I wrote that off to the program just getting started, and thought it must have gotten better further into the series. So I started to watch episode two, and quickly realized that some ham-handed hack had edited the episode, bleeping out words like “shit” and even cutting entire scenes. The uncut original would probably get a PG in the US. Netflix has thousands of hours of other material with stronger language and more nudity, so I was at a loss to understand why they’d butchered Coupling.

I checked the Netflix web page for Coupling, and found that Netflix had edited the episodes down from 29 minutes to 23 minutes. There were lots of reviewers commenting about the butchered editing and Bowdlerization. So I went back to our archives in search of the DVDs. Series 1 was all on one DVD, and there was a slip of paper in the sleeve saying that I’d given that disc to Mary. So I started watching series 2, which was as brilliant as I’d remembered it. Laugh-out-loud funny. I shudder to think how bad the edited version would have been.

The moral here is that if you want to watch Coupling, which you should, don’t watch the Netflix streaming version. Get the DVDs. Oh, and don’t bother watching series 4. Series 1 through 3 are brilliant. In series 4, the actor who played Jeff left and his replacement was a very poor substitute.


10:39 – Barbara just made a flying visit home for some clothes and then headed back over to her parents’ place. Last night went well. Her dad is doing fine and her mom is doing better. Barbara said she may even come home tonight and leave her parents on their own for the night.

I’ve finished making up 60 sets of chemicals for the chemistry kits, and today I start making up chemicals for another batch of biology kits.


12:15 – I just made up eight liters (2+ gallons) of Fertilizer Part A, which at 125 mL per kit is sufficient for 64 biology kits. I’m always entertained by making up this solution. Most of the solutions I make up use reagent-grade chemicals weighed on an analytical balance and dissolved in DI water. That would be gross overkill for this fertilizer concentrate, which I make up with technical-grade or fertilizer-grade chemicals, weighed on a shipping scale to the nearest gram and dissolved in tap water.

This solution is a mixture of potassium hydrogen phosphate and potassium dihydrogen phospate. The mixture is calculated to provide the correct amounts of potassium and phosphate after dilution, while maintaining the pH in the proper range. I get the first chemical in four-pound (~ 2 kilo) jars from soapgoods.com. The second is VitaGrow Giant Bloom Part C, which is available in four-pound boxes from any garden supplies vendor.

When I made up the first batch of this solution last May, I wondered why VitaGrow added blue-green dye to the otherwise colorless potassium dihydrogen phospate powder. I assumed they did it just so the fertilizer solution would be a pretty pale blue-green color. But as it turned out, having the solution colored works better for us because it’s much easier to see the level on the 125 mL polypropylene bottles as we’re filling them. So I made a note in my consolidated chemical makeup instructions document that if in the future I used a different source for potassium dihydrogen phosphate I should add a few drops of blue/green food coloring to the solution.