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.

20 thoughts on “Friday, 15 February 2013”

  1. On Netflix here in the UK (which only does streaming, and very very poor selection due to too many rights holders) all 4 series are available as I watched them all in January! Very funny but I’d have thought very British for the US ?

    Streaming is broken in the UK as there are two many streaming offerings (each at £6 or £10 a month) and the content providers are signing exclusive contracts with different providers – which means each streaming provider doesn’t have a compelling set of content.

    Also only Netflix has bothered (perhaps due to its US operation) to be available on every device you can think of – the rest are PC / Mac and/or tablet only and in very low-quality. Netflix UK is stunningly good 1080p quality on a little Apple TV box.

  2. Barbara and I have been married for almost 30 years, and the whole time we’ve watched probably as much British TV as US. We usually don’t have any problem understanding the accents, vocabulary, and cultural references, although sometimes we have trouble with things like very broad Yorkshire accents. Of course, I’d imagine that many Brits also have some trouble with strong accents like that.

    The pop culture references are probably the hardest. For example, I’d imagine that not one in a thousand Americans has any idea who Mariella Frostrup is. Nowadays, though, it’s a lot easier than it was 30 years ago. We have Wikipedia.

  3. My kids are quickly learning that if you want explosions and car chases, watch an American movie. And if they want intelligent dialogue and excellent acting, watch an English one.

    Netflix in Canada sounds much like Netflix UK. I tried very hard to find something to watch, and ended up not even watching one show before cancelling.

    Mariella Frostrup from Ab Fab? Who doesn’t know who she is?

  4. This morning she’s taking her dad to look at battery-powered scooters.

    There’s a racket. Obviously, many elderly need them. However, the entire industry built up around building them, selling them, and paying for them with medicare could probably keep an investigative reporter busy for a year.

  5. Yeah. Lucky for them it was just a baby, something like 7 feet in diameter, and dissipating maybe a few kilotons equivalent. One like Tunguska, small on a cosmic scale, can dissipate hundreds of megatons equivalent. And there are plenty of objects out there that would dissipate gigatons or even teratons equivalent. The really big ones would ring the planet like a bell, if not fracture it.

  6. I gather that the local denizens heard the noise and saw the contrail and went rushing to their windows; bad call.

    Picture it whizzing over Manhattan. Or Mordor……hmmmmm…..

    Or Tunguska…

    “Estimates of the energy of the blast range from 5 to as high as 30 megatons of TNT (21–130 PJ),[7][8] with 10–15 megatons of TNT (42–63 PJ) the most likely[8]—roughly equal to the United States’ Castle Bravo thermonuclear bomb tested on March 1, 1954; about 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan; and about two-fifths the power of the later Soviet Union’s own Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated.[9]”

    (from Wiki)

  7. Yeah, and the one that’s going to miss us by a gnat’s eyelash (inside the orbit of geostationary satellites) later today is Tunguska size.

    All it would have taken is a minor impact on that asteroid that slowed or speeded it by a tiny, tiny fraction or altered its course almost immeasurably and it would have hit us.

  8. But we all know, of course, that even if it does hit us, the statistical likelihood is that it will be striking in the ocean somewhere or landfall in an uninhabited area, like Siberia or Mordor….oh wait…I meant Montana.

  9. An ocean strike of a very large object would kill a higher percentage of humans than a land strike. See Lucifer’s Hammer (although some of Pournelle’s calculations have significant errors, or at least they did in the first edition; that’s how I “met” Jerry, back in about 1980 on the pre-Internet, by emailing him to point out his errors.)

    The problem is that a land strike concentrates the energy in a very small area, “overkilling” it, while an ocean strike distributes the energy and its effects globally. See Glasstone The Effect of Nuclear Weapons about equivalent megatons.

  10. A lot of places have stolen from this video, but here is the unedited version from Reuters

    http://in.reuters.com/video/2013/02/15/incredible-amateur-videos-of-meteor-over?videoId=241150734

    All those dashboard cameras come in handy sometimes.

    Most Reuters stories use the word “meteorite” when they really mean “meteor”; unless the meaning of the two words has changed since my long ago science classes. One headline was “Meteorite streaks over Russia”.

  11. Yeah, technically a meteor doesn’t hit the ground but vaporizes entirely in the atmosphere. This one was big enough, however, that pieces of it certainly must have hit the ground, even if they were dust-sized.

    But different groups use the same word differently. For example, astronomers would call this a bolide, which they consider any meteor that produces a fireball to be. Geologists, on the other hand, use the same word only for meteorites that produce a crater.

  12. Damn, that’s right; the ocean strike *would* be far more lethal; and I just had a similar conversation here yesterday with our team lead about how best to place a small nuke, i.e., find an abandoned hotel in a large city that has a swimming pool.

    (It’s OK, folks; we can talk about this shit here; we’re security-classified DOD contractor drones with TOTAL ACCESS)

    I was hip to the connection with the large volume of water but not to the desirable height of the building, i.e. for maximum dispersal effect.

    Cool amateur videos in Chuck’s link; and slick choice of the progression, too.

  13. I’m a kinda surprised the top Russian rocket forces general didn’t order an immediate retaliatory strike on somebody; that looks a lot like an incoming rocket.

  14. Mariella Frostrup looks pretty cute, and the Wikipedia article praised her voice, which I thought was nice, but nothing special.

  15. OFD wrote:

    “roughly equal to the United States’ Castle Bravo thermonuclear bomb tested on March 1, 1954;”

    Ah, my brother was born that day. He sure came into the world with a BANG.

  16. OFD wrote:

    “But we all know, of course, that even if it does hit us, the statistical likelihood is that it will be striking in the ocean somewhere or landfall in an uninhabited area, like Siberia or Mordor….oh wait…I meant Montana.”

    If it hit St Albans nobody would know for years… 🙂

  17. I gather that the local denizens heard the noise and saw the contrail and went rushing to their windows; bad call.

    I think they saw the flash, ran to the windows (or outside), and then received the shock wave. spaceweather.com has this link; check out the second video titled The moment the shock wave reaches the ground.

  18. Wow, Roy. Good find!

    Notice how it is around 09:00 on all the clocks, and the sun is only just rising there. Was it here that I was recently mentioning that summer/winter time shifts are more-or-less useless at US latitudes, but can make the difference between sun at 09:00 or 10:00 in far northern lands. I really do not like the winter dark in northern latitudes. Even in Indiana, it is still dark when I have to leave to be in Indy by 08:00 and we are past the middle of February already.

    And geez, it looks like Russia has more spy cams than the US.

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