Tuesday, 30 April 2013

09:15 – Barbara called last night around 7:30 to say her dad was back at home and doing pretty well. I was mistaken about Frances staying with their mom and dad tonight. Barbara said they’re going to leave their parents alone tonight and just keep their fingers crossed that Dutch will settle in.

I got another batch of biology kits assembled yesterday. Today, among other things, I’ll start building another batch of two dozen chemistry kits. With what’s already on hand, that should give us enough biology and chemistry kits to last through the end of May. Then I’ll get started on building subassemblies for the first batch of 30 life science kits, which start shipping the last week of May.


13:05 – I thought of Barbara’s father when I saw this:

I’ve assembled four dozen science kits in the last two days, which got me down to dangerously low inventory levels on several items. For example, I’m down to only four 12″ lab thermometers and less than 70 splash goggles. Fortunately, I’d just issued a purchase order this morning for 400 thermometers and 400 splash goggles, along with a bunch of other stuff. That vendor had everything I really needed in stock and they generally ship pretty quickly, so I suspect the stuff will arrive late this week or early next. I was also going to order a couple or three gross of 250 mL glass beakers, but this particular vendor doesn’t stock glassware and sells it only by the case. The trouble is, their lead time on glassware is 90 days give or take. Oh, well. I can get those beakers quickly from any of several other wholesalers.

Monday, 29 April 2013

10:16 – Barbara’s dad gets his last IV antibiotic dose at 4:00 this afternoon. Barbara and Frances are leaving work early to pick him up from the nursing home and take him back to his apartment at Creekside. Barbara will stay with him tonight because she’s concerned that her mom won’t be able to deal with Dutch physically on her own quite yet. Dutch is now able to stand and walk, but still has some trouble getting up out of a chair and so on. Frances will have dad-sitting duty tomorrow night and then she and Barbara will decide if Dutch is able to be on his own with just Sankie there to help him.

Our finished goods inventory of science kits is getting low again, so I’ll spend some time today and tomorrow assembling more finished kits.


11:52 – Never, ever even think of ordering anything from Vitality Medical. I ordered 500 oral syringes from them a year or so ago, and they’ve been spamming me ever since. At first, it was one or two spams a week. Now it’s up to at least one a day. I’ve repeatedly clicked on the unsubscribe link in their emails, with no effect. I’ve emailed their customer support repeatedly, again with no effect. I’ve called the support number repeatedly, again with no effect.

Yesterday, I finally checked the email headers and found that apparently Vitality Medical subcontracts their spamming out to a company called Constant Contact. No shit. They do what their name says. The FTC needs to shut these bastards down.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

08:55 – It’s really annoying when a later release of Linux breaks something that worked automagically in earlier releases. When I built a replacement for Barbara’s sister’s old system, I told Frances and her husband just to take it home and connect up their printer (a Brother MFC) and their webcam and it should Just Work. Although that was true on the earlier version of Ubuntu they’d been using, that turns out not to be the case with Linux Mint 13.

Not only did it not Just Work, but getting it to work is going to be non-trivial. The last time I installed their printer, I just brought up the printer administration window, choose Brother in the left pane and the correct model in the right pane, and Linux installed the proper drivers and auto-configured the printer, scanner, and fax functions. This time, Linux no longer offers the opportunity to choose make and model manually; it offers only the make/model it detects and offers no option to change or configure the drivers. So I’m going to have to do this the hard way.

Fortunately, I was able to find a page on the Brother web site that looks as though it should work: Brother Drivers for Linux® distributions


13:23 – We just got back from Frances’ house. Her printer and webcam are now working. Surprisingly, everything went smoothly and quickly.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

08:16 – Barbara’s dad’s IV antibiotic course finishes tomorrow. She has to take him to a follow-up visit to his doctor Tuesday, so she’s going to pick him up from the rehab facility and take him back to his apartment after he visits the doctor. She says he’s up and about, which is all that’s necessary to make his own apartment the best place for him. The last thing Barbara and Frances want to do is split up their mom and dad, so they intend to keep him at the Creekside retirement village as long as possible. If/when there’s another crisis, they’ll get him to the hospital and wait until he’s well enough to come straight back home. They don’t want him in a nursing home until/if it’s completely unavoidable.

The heat sealer I ordered from Amazon arrived yesterday, and I immediately put it to the test by sealing a couple of bottles of iodine solution in a quart ziplock bag. The bags are 2-mil (0.05+ mm) polyethylene, and it takes only a couple seconds for the sealer to melt a seal into the bag. I intentionally left plenty of air in the bags so that I could check them for airtightness. They are in fact airtight, but unfortunately that doesn’t stop the iodine vapor from penetrating the bag. There’s a very, very slight iodine odor, but that’s good enough to keep the iodine vapor from staining other parts in the kits. We’re going to start including a separate iodine bottle label that people can affix to the bottle once they open the bag. I’ll probably also use the heat sealer to seal the other chemical bags in the kits.


11:36 – Barbara and I just got back from Lowe’s. We needed some 4-foot fluorescent tubes for the basement fixtures, so we picked up a 10-pack for $22. I think I’ll date the things with a Sharpie before I install them. I think some of the current tubes are original from when we installed the fixtures back in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

While we out there, I decided to pick up some chemicals for the kits. Most of the chemicals we use are reagent-grade, lab-grade, or USP, purchased from lab chemical vendors. But three of them we get from Lowe’s or Home Depot, because we use them in relatively large amounts and they’re much cheaper at a DIY super-center than they are from lab vendors. The purity is adequate for our purposes. Those three are copper(II) sulfate pentahydrate (sold as Root Kill), sodium hydroxide (sold as Crystal Drain Opener), and hydrochloric acid (sold as muriatic acid).

Years ago, before I decided to use them, I did gravimetric analyses on the copper(II) sulfate and sodium hydroxide. The Root Kill ($13 for two pounds/907 grams) is labeled as 99% copper(II) sulfate. When I tested it gravimetrically, it assayed at, IIRC, 99.7┬▒0.1%, which is essentially reagent-grade in terms of purity. The remaining 0.3% give or take is probably almost all insoluble copper(II) oxide, which is easy to filter out. The Crystal Drain Opener is labeled as 100.0% sodium hydroxide. Gravimetrically, I got about 99.5% sodium hydroxide, but I suspect it really is 100.0% in the bottle. The problem with sodium hydroxide is that it literally sucks water vapor out of the air. You can put some dry sodium hydroxide in a weigh boat and watch the weight increase as the dry crystals absorb water. The muriatic acid is probably about lab grade in terms of purity. The stuff is manufactured simply by bubbling hydrogen chloride gas into water, so most of the contaminants in the products were in the source water. Still, it’s more than good enough for our purposes.

I also picked up a gallon (3.8 liters) of acetone in the paint department for something like $4.50 a liter. It’s certainly not spectroscopic-grade nor even reagent-grade acetone, but again it’s more than pure enough for our purposes. Acetone is produced commercially mostly directly from propylene by the cumene process or by oxidizing isopropanol, so the process itself inherently produces pretty pure product. Other than water, the only contaminants are typically low concentrations of VOCs that have no effect on the acetone for solvent purposes. We use it 50/50 with USP-grade 70% IPA for making up Sudan III stain. I’ve tested that stain made up with reagent-grade solvents, and there’s no visible difference in results compared to stain made up with the USP and technical-grade solvents.

Friday, 26 April 2013

08:40 – For the first half of April, I thought it would be an excellent month in terms of kit sales. Last year, something like 80% or 85% of our April sales were in the second half of the month, so I was kind of expecting the second half of this April to be big as well. Not so, as it turns out. Things have been pretty dead since the 15th. We’ve sold only five kits so far in the second half of April. Still, month-to-date we’re doing very well compared to last April, and for the first four months of 2013 we’re running ahead of the total sales for the first seven months of 2012–well into our busy season–so I can’t complain too much.

Barbara was finally able to get to the gym yesterday, which was the first time in at least a couple of weeks. That was a very good thing, because the gym is a stress reliever for Barbara, and she certainly needs that given the constant crises for the last several months. It’s been just one thing after another. The amount of stress on Barbara and her sister caused by caring for their parents is similar to the stress of caring for a baby. The obvious differences are that new parents are typically in their 20’s or 30’s rather than their 50’s, and that with a baby one looks forward to the future rather than dreading it. With elderly parents, there’s nothing to look forward to except more of the same and worse.


10:54 – I didn’t notice until this morning, but Amber Marshall is now Amber Turner. Congratulations to her and Shawn. (I hope he realizes he’s not good enough for her…) Amber will soon be shooting season 7 of Heartland. I wonder if she’ll decide to be credited as Amber Turner in the new season or to keep Amber Marshall as her working name.

Our finished-goods inventory is starting to dwindle, so I’m building more science kits today and over the weekend. We’re still trying to build stock for the rush period that begins in July, but we’re constrained by backorders on a couple of key components. One of those is the thick cavity microscope slides, which are included in the biology, forensic science, and life science kits. We have apparently cornered the US supply of those slides. I had 200 dozen on order as of 15 March, with expected delivery of 15 May. Earlier this week, I got a shipment that included 41 dozen, with the remaining 159 dozen backordered, now through 17 June.

To conserve our supply, I decided to reduce the quantity included in the biology kits from a dozen to half a dozen. None of the biology labs require more than six of these slides, so cutting the number included in half allows us to build twice as many biology kits with the same number of slides. The forensic science labs actually use the whole dozen, so those kits will continue to include the full dozen. The Life Science kits include only a two-pack, so they’re not a major issue.

Rather than reduce the price of the biology kits, we’ll simply reduce the price increase that’s due to take effect soon. In fact, ordinarily we’d have increased kit prices as of 1 January, but we’ve held off on doing that. We had been adjusting (read, increasing) kit prices on 1 January and 1 July, but I decided we could afford to go to annual rather than semi-annual price changes. As of now, kit prices are scheduled to increase on 1 June. Cutting the number of thick cavity slides in the biology kits just means the prices of those kits won’t increase as much as they otherwise would have.

Meanwhile, my vendor tells me that they shipped us every box of thick cavity slides they had in stock, and there are no more to be had anywhere until their next shipment arrives. They actually did get a shipment last week, which was the one they were expecting on 15 May. But that shipment had so much breakage that they ended up refusing it and keeping only the 41 undamaged boxes that they just sent me. So I should get another 159 dozen in mid-June, and then the pipeline is dry. If I reorder around then, the new batch of slides would show up 60 to 90 days later. Unless, that is, I want to pay for air-freight in. Believe me, I don’t. These slides are glass, and I shudder to think what the air freight charges would be on a case of them coming from China.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

07:50 – This year has been just a continuing series of crises. It started in January, and the hits just keep on coming. I was expecting Barbara home regular time yesterday afternoon, but instead of coming in the garage she left her car parked at the top of the drive and came in the front door. We ate dinner on the fly and then she left to drive out to the nursing home in Clemmons to make sure that her dad had been moved to a new room–the first night he was in a room with someone who kept him awake all night–and that the nursing home had remembered to give him his IV antibiotic, which they seem to have a problem doing in a timely manner and sometimes not at all.

A few minutes after she left, the phone rang. It was Barbara. The woman driving in front of her had apparently hit a loose piece of pavement around a manhole, displacing the pavement. Barbara hit the hole and her tire started losing pressure. So she headed for Firestone, where we’d just had four new tires installed a week ago. It was just a couple minutes before Firestone closed, so she left her car there and I drove over to pick her up. I just called Firestone to check progress, and they tell me the wheel was bent. They’re going to hammer it out and then test it to make sure it holds pressure. Meanwhile, Barbara will drive my Trooper to work today, go to the gym after work, and then pick me up at home to head over with her to Firestone and get her car back.

Oh, yeah. When Barbara arrived at the nursing home yesterday evening, they’d just gotten her dad moved to a new room. They hadn’t transferred any of his stuff with him, so Barbara had to get it from the old room and carry it down to the new room. And he hadn’t had his antibiotic. The nurse said she had other patients to care for, so Barbara’s father would just have to wait until she had time to do it. The nursing home doesn’t seem very concerned about getting Dutch his antibiotic on time, or at all for that matter. He’s supposed to get it three or four times a day, Barbara’s not sure which, and he’s supposed to get it through this coming Sunday. It sounds to me as though Dutch isn’t getting a whole lot of care or rehabilitation at this facility. When Barbara got home around 9:30 last night, I told her that if it were me I’d pick up Dutch Sunday and take him back to his apartment. At least he’d have Sankie to keep an eye on him, and she can call 911 if necessary. That’s probably better for him than what he’s getting at this “care facility”.


09:19 – We started watching The L Word on Netflix streaming a couple weeks ago. The first season was good, well written and interesting, although it did start weakening in later episodes. It was a series about a group of women who just happen to be lesbians. But beginning with the first episode of season two, this series went completely off the rails. It’s now all-lesbians-all-the-time. Instead of character development and plot, season two focuses just about exclusively on the lesbianism of the characters. Now, I have nothing against lesbians. In fact, I’ve known many and I’ve liked almost all of them. But a one-dimensional program like this isn’t worth watching. This series jumped the shark earlier and more abruptly than any we’ve ever watched. Oh, well, it’s not like we don’t have lots of other stuff in our queue.


10:05 – I was out front with Colin when Paula, our across-the-street neighbor, pulled out of her drive. I asked if she’d mind giving me a ride over to Firestone so that I could pick up Barbara’s car for her and save her the hassle of doing it this evening. She said sure, so I picked up Barbara’s car and drove it home. When I called to let Barbara know, I told her I’d walked to the Firestone, knowing she wouldn’t believe me. It’s 1.5 miles (2+ klicks) from our house. Barbara knows I wouldn’t walk that far other than in a life-and-death situation, so I finally admitted that Paula had given me a ride.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

07:29 – The hospital discharged Barbara’s dad to a rehab/nursing home facility yesterday. The transfer was supposed to happen at 3:30, and for once it sounds like they got something done on time. Barbara left work early to meet the ambulance at the facility. I finally called her cell phone around 5:00 to find out what was going on. Barbara was too busy to talk long, but she said she was signing a whole bunch of papers. I hadn’t thought about it until I talked to her, but then I remembered that the same thing had happened when we transferred my mom from the hospital to a nursing home. And it really pissed me off, because I remembered that the papers they’d really want signed would be financial responsibility papers that would ask someone other than the patient to voluntarily assume responsibility for paying. Of course, they never mention that accepting financial responsibility is entirely optional. They’re just looking for as many “co-signers” as they can get, to make sure that the facility isn’t stuck if the patient’s insurance or the government doesn’t pay. And they take advantage of the confusion to sucker family members into signing these agreements.

Actually, these financial responsibility agreements should be void on their face. A contract requires a meeting of the minds, and it’s obvious that no family member who understood what they were signing would agree to sign. By doing so, they’re voluntarily assuming a potentially large liability that they’re under zero obligation to assume. Most people in that situation just assume that this is routine paperwork that must be signed for their parent to be admitted. It’s completely unethical for health-care facilities to present these papers for signature without fully informing the family members that it’s their right to refuse to sign, and such refusal will have no effect on the patient being admitted or the level of care provided.

In practical terms, this is unlikely to affect us, but it still enrages me that the facility took advantage of Barbara’s concern for her father by requiring her to sign financial responsibility papers that she wasn’t legally obligated to sign without disclosing that she wasn’t obligated to sign them. Bastards.


09:50 – I just finished the physical build on my new system, which is Barbara’s old system. It’s a Core i7 980X hex-core processor, which not all that long ago was a $1,000 CPU. I don’t remember how much memory is in it. There are three sticks, but I couldn’t see the labels, so they may be 4 GB or 8 GB sticks. Doesn’t matter. Even 12 GB is more than enough for what I do. I pulled Barbara’s old hard drive, labeled it, and stuck it in a drawer, just in case. Then I spent an hour or so vacuuming the case (an Antec Dark Fleet DF-85) and installing a new 3 TB hard drive. I’ll probably add more hard drives eventually, but that’ll do for now. I should also connect my eSATA external hard drive frame, which holds one or two standard hard drives. Either that, or I may just use the quick-swap bays in the case.

I started to install Linux Mint 13 Maya LTS from the same disc I used to build Barbara’s new system, but quickly realized that it was the 32-bit version. I’m downloading the 64-bit version now, but only because I want support for memory above 4 GB. I know there are still some apps that don’t work properly on 64-bit Linux, so I’ll just hope that all of the ones I need work properly or have adequate substitutes available.

Once I get the OS installed and make sure everything works properly, I’ll move the system unit, the new 23″ display I bought for it, and the other stuff off the kitchen table and into my office and plan the cut-over. I’m nervous about that because I have so many applications on this old system and I’d really like to get as much of the data and configuration settings migrated so that I don’t have to start from scratch. At least I’m running Firefox on the current system, so everything on it should migrate easily to Firefox on the new system.

I decided to give up Kontact/Kmail/Korganizer in favor of Thunderbird, so I’ll export the data from Kmail, including my contacts, in as many formats as possible before the cut-over. I also need to make a detailed list of all the applications I have installed for stuff like video/image/sound editing and so forth. I’ll leave the old system set up right beside the new one for a while, just in case.


12:57 – Well, this is depressing. I set up my new system with a 128 GB Crucial SSD and a new 3 TB Seagate Barracuda. I booted the 64-bit Linux Mint Maya disc and chose to partition manually, setting up the SSD as the system drive and the hard drive with a small swap partition and a large ext4 partition for data. When I told the installer to continue, it went to work and I watched the progress bar progress to about half way done. At that point, I heard an odd buzzing sound from the system unit. It lasted only a second or so, and I was hoping it was just one of the eight fans installed in the case. Alas, it wasn’t. That buzzing was the sound of the new 3 TB Barracuda dying. The partitioner finally blew up and said it couldn’t write the filesystem to the hard drive. I rebooted the system, and the BIOS told me the DVD and the SSD were now the only ATA devices present. Crap.

This drive is one that Seagate sent me as an eval unit a year or so ago, so there’s no warranty on it. So I headed over to NewEgg to look at hard drives. Not that I’ll ever again buy anything from NewEgg, but their reviewers tend to be a bit more technically-ept than the Amazon reviewers. I decided to look at capacities of 1 to 3 TB. There’s a 4 TB Seagate available, but that’s more than I care to put on one drive, and the cost/TB is much higher than for lower-capacity drives. It seems the sweet spot is 2 TB, so that’s what I looked at. I was surprised that the drive of choice seems to be the Seagate ST2000DM001 rather than a WD model, but so be it. NewEgg had them for $90 with free shipping, but I won’t do business with them ever again, so I went over to Amazon and found they had that drive for $99 with free shipping. Let’s hope it’s not DOA.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

08:14 – No word yet on when Barbara’s dad will be discharged from the hospital to the rehab facility. Barbara said her dad’s personality has changed. She’d never expected him to behave nastily, which he’s doing now. I told her we’d probably be nasty too if we were in his situation. He’s tired of being in the hospital, and being sent home and then immediately going back didn’t help any, either.

Our new friend Abby stopped over yesterday so I could help her get a domain name registered and get her set up on my shared server at Dreamhost. Abby’s mother is a friend of Paula, our neighbor across the street. We met Abby last autumn, when Paula hired her to dog sit Max, her very old dog, who needs someone with him constantly. One day, I spotted Abby raking leaves in the front yard. I asked her if Paula was also paying her to rake the leaves, and she said Paula hadn’t mentioned it but it needed to be done. So she’s a worker.

Abby is 26 years old and can’t find a job. She graduated from North Carolina State University in 2009 with a major in history and a minor in art and design, and then spent two years at the Irish School of Animation, Ballyfermot College in Dublin, Ireland, where she received a Higher National Diploma in Computer and Classical Animation. She’s smart, hard-working, and confident. But right now she’s limited to doing freelance work because the job market is simply abysmal.

Paula recently made an extended trip out to California and hired Abby to dogsit Max while she was gone. Over that couple of weeks, Barbara and I saw Abby frequently and decided we really liked her. I asked Abby if she did stuff like designing logos and brochures. She said she did, so I invited her over to our house to talk about doing some stuff for our business later this year. She rang the doorbell at the appointed time. I opened the door, found her standing on the porch, and invited her in. She asked if I was sure it was okay with Barbara for her to be here when Barbara wasn’t. I assured her that Barbara trusted me, and wouldn’t object to the two of us being alone in the house. So she came in, and we had a long discussion about logos and brochures, writing (she wants to be a writer), and everything else under the sun. When I told Barbara about Abby’s concern, she just laughed. The next day Barbara saw Abby out with Max and went over to tell Abby not to worry about being alone with me.

So Abby stopped over yesterday so we could get a domain name registered for her, get email set up for the domain, and so on. I’d originally intended to register her domain on Godaddy.com, where I have my domains, but as it turns out Dreamhost is also a registrar so I decided just to register Abby’s domain there.

Abby wasn’t sure whether she should register the domain, and it was obvious to me that she was concerned about whether having the domain was worth spending the $10 to register it. I told her she’d be nuts not to register it, particularly since she’s running her own business. I told her that I understood her problem because I remembered being young and poor. I was trying to figure out how to pay for the domain myself without making her feel obligated to me, but as it turned out that wasn’t necessary. I’d forgotten that Dreamhost bundles one free domain registration or renewal per year with an annual hosting contract. So when I clicked on the Register Domain button, the charge came back as $0.00. I explained to Abby what was going on, and she protested that I should use that $10 credit myself. I told her that all my domains were already registered at Godaddy.com, and that using that credit myself would require moving a domain over to Dreamhost, which wasn’t worth the time or aggravation.

When I told Barbara about all this later, she completely approved and said I should explain to Abby about pay-it-forward. I told Barbara that I’d already explained that to Abby and told Abby that some day five years from now or 25 years from now she’d run into a nice young person who needed some help getting started and that would be Abby’s chance to pay it forward. I also told Barbara that I suspected Abby would try to do some free design work for me in return for the help I was giving her, but that I’d insist on paying Abby her regular rate. Barbara said she agreed absolutely. No free work from Abby. She can just add that to her pay-it-forward account balance.


Monday, 22 April 2013

07:57 – Barbara’s dad is still in the hospital, but I suspect they’ll soon be transferring him to a rehab facility. Given the way the hospital has behaved, I suggested to Barbara last night that she tell the hospital that getting him to the rehab facility is up to the hospital. If Barbara and Frances picked him up at the hospital to transport him to the rehab facility, I’m afraid they’d be stuck with him, with the rehab facility refusing to accept him. So I told her to refuse to take custody of their dad until he’s well enough to be on his own at his apartment.

Nor is just Barbara’s dad. When Barbara was walking Colin yesterday, she talked to our neighbor Kim. Kim’s mother, Mary, is in her 80’s. A week or ten days ago, she fell and fractured her pelvis. She was in the hospital for a few days, and was then transferred to a rehab facility. The rehab facility is discharging Mary this Thursday to go home. The problem is, Kim is totally disabled with a back injury and Jasmine is away at college. Mary is not supposed to put any weight on her pelvis, which means she can’t even stand, let alone walk. And yet they’re expecting Kim to take care of Mary by herself. Barbara said Kim’s teenage niece was at Kim’s house while she was talking to Kim, helping get the house cleaned up and ready for Mary’s return. I’d already told Kim when her mom was in the hospital to call me if she needed help lifting or moving anything, because Kim simply can’t lift anything and I’m only three houses away. I’ll tell her again today, because she’s going to need help when Mary gets home.

I keep thinking that with millions of unemployed people drawing government benefits, there shouldn’t be any shortage of unskilled labor to provide assistance like this to elderly people. We, the taxpayers, are paying people to sit at home watching TV and pretending to look for jobs that aren’t there, when they could and should be doing something useful with their time like assisting the elderly or cleaning up public areas.


08:44 – I got Barbara’s new desktop system installed and configured yesterday. That was harder than it should have been. All she really uses the system for is OpenOffice, email, and web browsing, with Kontact/Kmail/Korganizer for email and Chrome for the browsing. After pulling three full backups of her system, two to DVD and one to a flash drive, I disconnected her system and slid it out of the way. I slid the new system, an Intel Atom, into place, connected it up, and got rolling. The first problem was that the current version of Kmail uses a completely different format for storing email and contact information than the version Barbara had been running. I’d copied her email/contact data to /home/barbara/.kde, and expected the new version simply to see it and use it. No dice. When I started Kontact on the new system, it informed me that it was using a new data format. It offered to import the old data, so I told it to proceed. About two seconds later, it said it had encountered a fatal error, and terminated. So I tried running it again, and it said it had already been run. So I deleted all the appropriate directories, recopied over her data, and tried again. No dice. The new version simply wouldn’t touch the maildir email files, and apparently had no clue what to do with the contact information.

So I fired up Thunderbird, which was installed by default, and tried to get it to import Barbara’s mail/contact data. I screwed around with that for a while, including installing a maildir->mbox converter, but no joy. So I disconnected the new system, reconnected the old system, fired up Kontact, exported her contacts as a .VCF file, and forwarded all her email to myself. I then disconnected the old system, reconnected the new system, blew away Kontact and all the old data, and reconfigured Thunderbird, including installing the Calendar plugin. I then forwarded all of Barbara’s email from my own system back to her and pulled it into Thunderbird. Geez.

But at least I was finished except for getting the Chrome data off the old system and into Firefox on her new system. (I’ve found I don’t much like Chrome; compared to Firefox it’s feature-poor and unstable.) Surprise. The conversion didn’t work. So I installed Chromium on her new system, expecting it to just use the data from the old Chrome installation. Surprise. It wouldn’t import Barbara’s old data. So we just said the hell with it and re-entered her bookmarks and so on manually. Geez.

Barbara’s old system is now sitting on the floor of her office. She says her new system is working fine, but I think I’ll leave the old system there for a while, just in case we missed migrating something. Once I’m pretty sure everything on the new system is present and working properly, I’ll pull the hard drive and put it on the shelf. I’ll then clean up her old system (a hex-core i7), install a 3 TB hard drive, and turn it into my new system.

Given what I just went through migrating her simple configuration to a new box, the idea of migrating my configuration to a new box scares the hell out of me. I don’t have just OpenOffice, email, and browsing. I have literally dozens of other apps installed, from science number crunching to DVD ripping to video/photo/ sound editors and converters to scanning apps to astronomy apps to who knows what else. Even just figuring out what I have installed will be time-consuming, let alone getting everything moved over.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

09:10 – Barbara’s dad came home briefly, but is now back in the hospital. I almost paid a visit to the hospital myself yesterday, to have a heart-to-heart chat with some of their staff. When Barbara got home yesterday morning, I was downstairs doing laundry when she pulled in. She got on her cell phone as soon as she got out of her car, and I overheard her end of the conversation with her sister. I heard her mention a conversation with one of the nurses, and she mentioned that the nurse had said that she and Frances were horrible children. I roared, “WHO THE HELL SAID THAT?”, and was getting ready to get in my truck and head down there. Barbara quickly assured me that the nurse hadn’t actually used those words, but that had been her implication. Not much better, but I sat down and listened to what Barbara had to say. In effect, the nurse accused Barbara and Frances of abandoning their father, when the truth is that the hospital flat-out lied to them about his condition and essentially forced them to take their father home when he wasn’t anywhere near ready to be released. And this nurse actually told Barbara that if they brought him back to the hospital they wouldn’t treat him further and that their father was now their responsibility.