Friday, 16 August 2013

By on August 16th, 2013 in science kits

14:36 – I’m still building and shipping science kits. Today marks the start of our busiest 30-day period of the year, from mid-August to mid-September. We’re still in pretty good shape on kits, both in terms of finished-goods inventory and the subassemblies needed to build more kits on-the-fly. Unless something completely unexpected happens we should be able to avoid back-ordering kits.

People who see something I’ve printed may think I’m a tweenage girl. I use blue, black, red, green, and brown Sharpies for routine stuff. One of them died this morning and I was looking for a replacement. I thought about ordering a dozen in mixed colors, but that’d be gratuitous. I have a gross of them sitting on the foyer table that UPS delivered yesterday and a bunch more in an inventory bin downstairs. The only problem is, they’re purple. We use purple Sharpies in the chemistry kits because the purple ink works well for paper chromatography. So I decided to ignore my preference for non-purple colors and just grabbed one of them from stock. I’m practicing dotting my i’s with little hearts.

25 Comments and discussion on "Friday, 16 August 2013"

  1. OFD says:

    Oh brother. We need to see a video of you doing that. If not, it didn’t happen.

  2. JLP says:

    My usual practice is to have the full rainbow of Sharpies in my lab coat pocket. When working with multiple items, each gets its own color to label tubes and plates and such. Makes it lot easier to things organized.

    During a (thankfully) brief stint in a QC lab I loaded up my pocket protector with all my Sharpies and went to work. A little while later the scowling lab manager came over to tell me that in QC only blue and black are acceptable. She held out her hand and confiscated my markers right then and there. Being treated like a misbehaving child didn’t go over well with me. I left that job for better things two weeks later.

  3. OFD says:

    “Being treated like a misbehaving child didn’t go over well with me.”

    What the hell is up with female bosses and managers, anyway? I have had a bunch of them since I came back from Uncle’s plantations and not one hasn’t been a royal PITA from start to finish. We’re talking nearly forty years here, and more women bosses than men bosses; nary a problem with any of the men. But the fembats were uniformly awful. And every single one was a beneficiary of some form of affirmative action and the desire of upper-level male manglers to look good. Not one was competent. And more than one went out of her way to make subordinates’ work lives absolutely miserable.

    I just came off two years of working primarily with guys; and even there, the one female was a problem, having once been a supervisor and since downgraded.

    Maybe they *should* mainly stay home and take care of the kids and cook my damn supper at night.

  4. Chuck W says:

    Female boss was the reason I left Chicago for Boston. It was the right thing for me to do for other reasons too, but she was the prick that actually prompted me to hit the eject button. It is pretty intolerable when a boss has no idea what your job entails, and literally refuses to accept any explanations. Nobody tells me how to do my job, and that included her. She was finally asked to leave not too long after I bailed.

  5. CowboySlim says:

    I once had a responsibility to sign documents for contracts. Once I grabbed in my pocket for my pen, blue, when the contract administrator came by. I was told that it must be signed in black and was handed the appropriate pen. (I did not ask the rhetorical question: “Where in the constitution does is state that legal documents must be in black?”) When the next contract administrator came by, I started fishing around for the black pen. I was informed that it must be signed in blue; copy machines were so good that the only way one could differentiate between the original and the copy was to sign the original in blue. Oh well,………………..

  6. Larry McGinn says:

    Back in the day, 40 years ago, my colleagues and I were ordered to sign things in black ink for a very good reason: The copy machines of the day did not see or reproduce blue ink very well, and copies were always required. When copy technology improved, either blue or black was acceptable. And copies were just as “legal” as “originals.” I did a house closing a few years ago, and everything was faxed to the closers and nobody needed the so-called originals.

  7. Lynn McGuire says:
    “The Egyptian defense minister has ordered the repair and reconstruction of all churches that suffered damage in the country’s violent demonstrations since the Egyptian military removed President Mohamed Morsi from power last month.”

    Back in the 1970s, my parents had some friends at our church who had left Egypt due to religious persecution. They were Coptics and moved to Houston to seek their fortune. He was a bone doctor and managed to get a medical license quickly. From the stories they told, I am amazed that any Coptics are left in Egypt. She was a cook and made the most wonderful Baklava that would just melt in your mouth.

    Civil wars do not go well when one side is not armed. One wonders if Obummer is hurriedly sending arms to the “downtrodden” in Egypt like he did in Syria.

  8. Lynn McGuire says:

    Signing contracts in blue ink allows one to know which contract is the original and which is the potentially modified copy. I always sign in blue ink.

  9. SteveF says:

    Yes, sign in non-black ink. Also initial every page and number it 1/24, 1/24, etc. And line through suspiciously large blocks of whitespace.

    Ideally none of those latter tricks will be needed because you shouldn’t do business with someone you think will cheat you. However, sometimes you don’t have a choice in the matter: monopoly provider, or their competitors are just as bad.

  10. Lynn McGuire says:

    Why Microsoft is running scared:

    “This is time of great change for Microsoft as it strains to hang on to an enterprise and consumer market that is moving out from under them every day. The numbers don’t lie.”

    MS owns the desktop. The desktop is less than 10%? 5%? 2%? of the computers out there and dropping rapidly.

  11. Ray Thompson says:

    Signing contracts in blue ink allows one to know which contract is the original and which is the potentially modified copy.

    Color copier. We have such a copier at work that will reproduce in color and you have a difficult time discerning the original from the copy.

    The desktop is less than 10%? 5%? 2%? of the computers out there and dropping rapidly.

    I think the numbers are much higher. Consider most households have one, many two, several three, computers. Our desktops outnumber our servers 3 to 1. With virtualization that ratio would be even lower if you counted physical boxes.

    The tablet, such as the iPad, is a significant threat to Microsoft. But I most certainly could not do my job on a tablet. I need a full desktop at work and at home. The iPad is used to check mail, websites, store some notes, calendar and on-site photo preview tool. Serious stuff on an iPad would make me shudder.

    she was the prick

    Somehow that just sounds wrong.

  12. OFD says:

    We’ve got two desktops and four laptops and two smartphones. No tablets. I’m mainly on the two desktops, one of which is my IT security sandbox right now.

  13. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    It’s trivially easy to discriminate a photocopy of a signature from the original signature. It doesn’t matter what color ink you use.

  14. Lynn McGuire says:

    You techies don’t count. Go look at Joe Droid phone and Jane talk all day on her iPhone. Neither of them have desktops or laptops anymore. They have a smartphone and maybe an iPad. The computer market is changing and changing fast.

    I cannot do my job on a tablet either. But, we are content creators. We are vastly outnumbered by the content takers. Offices will still have desktops. For now.

  15. SteveF says:

    Lynn beat me to it. We content creators are a few percent of everyone. I need something with efficient text input, preferably a standard connector so I can plug in my highly ergo (and very expensive) Kinesis keyboard. I’d prefer something fairly beefy to run voice dictation software without irregular delays as it swaps and computes. I need something more precise than fingers for photo manipulation. I need (or at least greatly prefer) to run my own server for sharing images and what-not; I could put my content up on public servers, but I’m not exactly the most trusting soul ever to have lived. Depending on the contracting gig, I may need something fairly beefy to do compiles (in a realistic amount of time) and to run a development application server for testing, though usually the client provides the hardware for any but small jobs.

    That said, my two computers are the only two traditional computers in the house. My mother-in-law, wife, and daughter share two iPads and that suits most of their needs. A third iPad would handle most of the perceived shortcomings. My wife does have a work laptop, to be used only for connecting in to their secure servers. My sons have laptops, required for engineering school, but they’re not really part of the household anymore. (Except that I’m paying through the nose as the family “contribution” to their tuition, as discussed recently on this site.)

    So: the content creators (ie, me) have multiple computers to produce and serve content. The content consumers (the women of the household) share multiple tablets to satisfy their needs. Another datum supporting the conclusion voiced above.

  16. Chuck W says:

    Heck, I scanned my signature and for many years in Berlin, turned in time sheets with the graphic of my signature, instead of the real thing. All that was converted to PDF and sent via email. I can tell you that lawyers do not discriminate between originals and photocopies anymore; they will certify either as the ‘original’ for court exhibits. For many years, lawyers refused to accept “service” if it came in via fax, but now they accept it via email. Go figure.

    Adding to SteveF’s description, when I think something funny might happen, I do that page numbering trick right at one edge of the page. Most photocopiers are set to 105% to keep the edge of the page from showing up as a black line, and will cut off stuff that is too close to the paper’s edge. Dead giveaway that it is not my original.

  17. Rolf Grunsky says:

    My wife works for the Toronto Public Library. Most of the managers and almost all of the staff are women.She makes many comments about working in a female dominated workplace. None of them are complementary.

    A friend of mine was a legal secretary for 40 years. She had the opportunity to work for a woman lawyer, she hoped it would be a better experience than working for men. It was far, far worse.

    I’ve never had a problem working with women during my varied work experience (geophysical draftsman, programmer, etc) but then I’ve never worked for a woman. On the other hand, none of the women I worked with struck me as being manager material.

  18. OFD says:

    So it ain’t just me; in IT there are very few women in the trenches, and the ones that are seem to be pissed off constantly and always with a chip on their shoulder; like walking on fucking eggshells around them. But go up a couple of levels and keep going and suddenly there’s women all over the place; check the company directory online and find them by the hundreds in managerial positions. All of them must be really competent, of course, to reach those exalted states, like the IBM CEO for instance, where they just laid off hundreds of drones again. Yet have the cash to keep buying smaller companies.

    I hope to never again find myself working for a woman or women. Life’s too short for that much misery every week for forty hours plus.

  19. Miles_Teg says:

    I’ve worked for a few women over the years, and never noticed a difference in competency or ability to communicate with them. I had a female boss in the mid 90s who was a real dot-i-and-cross-t type, I was much more laid back and eventually we compromised to some extent: in part I saw some of the benefits of doing stuff her way. She was a good manager and good technically but could be a bit anal at times.

    It’s interesting to hear women talking about other women. My mum was very tolerant of other women, she’d stick up for them and make excuses for them when they did something daft. My sister is the exact opposite: she’s very critical, and sets high standards for other women. She can be *really* bitchy about what she says and the way she treats them.

  20. Miles_Teg says:

    OFD wrote:

    “So it ain’t just me; in IT there are very few women in the trenches…”

    Lots of women with me in the trenches 1980-2013. At first there were mainly men at the upper levels but plenty of sheilas at the coalface with me. As time went by more women broke through the glass ceiling, mostly on merit. I’d guess that around 40% of my colleagues when I left were female, many of them Asian. Generally speaking their competency was on a par with the guys, although there were a few duds. The woman I handed over my responsibilities as a RACF administrator to was definitely one of the duds.

    I have no problem at all working with women, per se.

  21. Don Armstrong says:

    I’ve had bad managers in IT, some of whom were women. More bad male managers than female, but then there were more male managers full-stop.

    I started working in IT (other than getting ejamacated) in 1970. Since then, the best IT people I’ve worked with were female. That even includes my ex-wife, the one who later went mad and left me (unfortunately with a dozen years between the two events). She wasn’t the only one though. At that stage, these females were workers. Any female made it on merit, or not at all. Some males made it without technical merit, so they pulled the average down.

    Now things have reversed. Females make it on merit or politics, but don’t actually need merit to garner reward. Men lose out on both, or just because someone’s going to go and it’s not going to be a female. In a market where even public service expectations are based on bean-counters looking at quarterly P&L figures, where selling the organisation’s life-blood, vision, history and experience this quarter is regarded as good business regardless of health, growth and longevity even half-a-year away, then people will lose jobs. Any perceived disadvantage (even if the perception is inaccurate) will cost jobs. Being at a political disadvantage is gunna cost you, sooner or later, more or less.

    At this stage, bitchy female bosses can cut numbers without having to actually front the victims and fire them – they can just make holding the job intolerable, and the head-count melts away with less problem for the bitch. They may not even have to justify things. Bean-counters, auditors, run a rule across the organisation looking at places to “cut costs”, places with “excess expenses”, and the bitch who can’t keep her staff and who’s light enough on her feet to keep moving and dance ahead of the inevitable collapses, doesn’t stand out. She’s already “cut costs” and “reduced excess head-count” enough that the unit she is manager of does not stand out against the bean-counter’s rule. Last long enough (and it doesn’t take long these days) and SHE can end up being one of the “last men standing”.

    Of course, it’s pure murder when you fall under the control of a male manager who’s deciphered the rules, decided to beat the women at their own game, play by the same rules, and top them.

  22. brad says:

    What the hell is up with female bosses and managers, anyway? …the fembats were uniformly awful. And every single one was a beneficiary of some form of affirmative action and the desire of upper-level male manglers to look good. Not one was competent.

    Um…didn’t you just answer your own question?

    There *are* competent women out there. My wife, for one, gets really pissed at the affirmative action stuff, because it makes people question the competence of all women. Which is *the* reason that affirmative action is actually counterproductive.

    That said, there is another problem that either goes unrecognized, or perhaps is just not PC to notice: The management and working styles of men and women are fundamentally different. All-female departments tend to work fine, as do all-male departments. It’s the mixtures that tend to be awful.

    If I may overgeneralize: Good male managers set a direction, and then expect their subordinates to carry out their duties. Correspondingly, good male subordinates want to be given a direction, and then expect their manager to get out of the way. Female subordinates find the stereotypical male management style abrupt and impersonal, because their managers seem not to care about them as individuals (which isn’t true, of course, but guys deal with this stuff differently).

    Female managers want to nurture their subordinates; lots of touchy-feely, talk about personal topics, etc.. Female subordinates apparently appreciate this. Male subordinates find the stereotypical female management style intrusive and insulting – just tell me what you want done, and get the hell out of my way.

    Granted, there are individual exceptions all around – my most awful boss was male, but painted with a broad brush, that’s how I’ve come to see it. Does that sound like what y’all have experienced?

  23. OFD says:


    Especially on the part of the fembat managers and their subordinates who constantly organize forced socialization events and if you don’t show up with bright and shiny faces you’re on their shit list forever.

    My last male boss, by contrast, would shoot the shit with us about various topics, tell us what needed to get done ASAP and what could sit on a back burner, and then leave us to it. If we didn’t do it in a timely fashion or fucked it up we’d hear about it and have to make it right.

  24. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Again, it all comes down to biology and DNA. We came down from the trees to become hunter/gatherers. The men were the hunters and the women the gatherers. Successful hunters had to focus on the prey to the exclusion of all else. Successful gatherers had to be much more aware of their surroundings. And, to this day, men are much better than women at focusing single-mindedly on the particular task at hand, while women are much better at multi-tasking.

    Men cooperate as needed, but (as you say) just want to know what needs to be done and then be left alone to do it. Women are much better at working in cooperative groups, because they evolved to work that way.

  25. OFD says:

    So let them work in their little groups and leave us the hell alone! In the workplace, at least. Designate a guy to take whatever orders from their highnesses and relay them to us and we will then carry them out.

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