Thursday, 28 February 2013

08:56 – Colin let me sleep in this morning. I awoke at 0755 and found Colin sprawled full-length on his back on Barbara’s side of the bed, still fast asleep.

One of the new science kits I’m seriously considering is a consolidated middle school science kit. There are three “standard” middle-school science courses: life science (introductory biology; usually grade 6 or 7), earth science (or earth & space science; usually grade 7 or 8), and physical science (introductory chemistry and physics; usually grade 8 or 9). Many homeschool parents try to cover all three of these courses in two years, grades 7 and 8, leaving grade 9 available for a first high school level science course. Traditionally that’s been first-year high school biology, with first-year high school chemistry in grade 10, but increasingly homeschoolers (and many public schools) are swapping those, teaching first-year chemistry in grade 9 and first-year biology in grade 10. That’s because modern biology courses are increasingly taught bottom-up–starting with the chemistry of life, life processes, cellular chemistry, and so on–rather than the old top-down approach of starting with organisms and working down toward cell-level issues.

We’re already planning to introduce separate kits for each of those three courses, starting with life science, but I realized that there are likely to be enough materials in common in those three kits that it might make sense to also offer a consolidated kit that would include the equipment and chemicals to do all three courses. It’d be a relatively expensive kit, but not as expensive as the three separate kits. If we do decide to offer a consolidated kit, it’d be a 2014 or even 2015 product, but it makes sense to think about it now because it would effect how we design the three separate kits.

And, on that note, I think I’ll make up a liter of universal indicator solution today, because that’s one of the chemicals that would probably be in the kit and I haven’t used it in probably 40 years. The stuff is ridiculously expensive to buy, but considerably less so to make.

11:49 – I thought this was interesting. Apparently, acetaminophen is even more toxic to snakes than it is to people. That’s pretty damned toxic, considering that something like 50,000 Americans a year are treated in emergency rooms for acetaminophen poisoning and about 500 of them die.

14:02 – I have finally had enough of being spammed by Shapeways. I was surprised that they spam, because they’re supposed to be a community effort in the MAKER tradition. But they’ve been spamming me for two or three years now. I have clicked on the unsubscribe link many, many times. I have sent them email. But the spams just keep on coming. So finally I went to their customer service page and left the following.

What do I have to do to get you to stop spamming me? I bought one item from you (a Dremelfuge centrifuge head) two or three years ago, and you have been spamming me ever since. I never “joined” your community, nor did I ever give you permission to email me.

So, please take me off your mailing list immediately. I should tell you that I’m an O’Reilly/MAKE author, and if you keep spamming me I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my readers are aware that I consider your company’s business practices unacceptable.