Sunday, 9 June 2013

09:13 – Barbara is cleaning house and ironing this morning before she heads over to have lunch with her mom.

Amongst everything else keeping us busy, we’re still working hard to build more science kits. Fortunately, Barbara has a sense of humor about the business taking over the house. The basement–both the finished and garage areas–is full of boxes, as is the living room, my work room, and part of the den. And I just keep ordering stuff. Yesterday, I ordered a case of 500 Petri dishes.

Speaking of which, we’re constantly working to improve the kits, both from the customer’s point of view and to make it faster and more efficient for us to build them. Our first batches of biology kits included a sleeve of 10 disposable polystyrene 90mm Petri dishes. From our point of view, the downside to those was that they took up a lot of cubic in the kit boxes. From the customers’ point of view, the downsides were that, first, although the disposable Petri dishes were conveniently pre-sterilized, they are one-use, so once they’re used you have to buy more. Second, the dishes weren’t individually wrapped but supplied in one sterile plastic sleeve, so it was very easy to contaminate the whole sleeve if you weren’t very careful.

So we switched to providing a three-pack of 75mm glass Petri dishes. The upside from the customers’ point of view is that glass dishes can be washed and sterilized, allow them to be reused indefinitely. The downside is that they’re fragile and easily broken. The downside for us is that a pretty high percentage of the dishes arrive here broken. Our wholesaler credits us for breakage, of course, but it’s still a pain in the butt to deal with all that broken glass. Also, it’s time-consuming to bubble-wrap the dishes into three packs to make sure they survive shipment to the customer.

So, although we’ll continue using those 75mm glass Petri dishes until we run out of them, I decided yesterday to switch back to plastic Petri dishes. However, rather than use the polystyrene (non-autoclavable) dishes, we’re going to start providing a six-pack of 50mm polypropylene Petri dishes with the biology kits. Polypropylene is autoclavable, so the PP dishes can be washed, sterilized, and re-used repeatedly, and we’ll no longer have to deal with the breakage issue.

12:15 – It’s still spring, but the heat is starting to get nasty. It’s 86F (30C) out there right now, and the humidity must be 70% or more. It’s bearable in the shade, but of course Colin wants to walk where he wants to walk, and that’s often in the sun. I half-seriously thought about wearing shorts, which I haven’t done more than a couple of times in the 30 years Barbara and I have been married. But I do have a pair or two of tennis shorts in one of my drawers. (Yes, despite the fact that I’m a guy, I actually do have more than one drawer.)

I’m not sure where the tennis shorts came from. I think Barbara must have bought them for me before she realized that I never wear shorts. I never wore them even when I was playing long serve-and-volley tennis matches in high summer. Mainly because I fell down a lot, usually lunging for volleys. If you’re wearing shorts, that’s bad on grass, worse on clay, and horrible on hard courts.