Sunday, 3 November 2013

By on November 3rd, 2013 in earth science, science kits

09:00 – After several days of highs in the 60’s and lows in the 50’s, it was 39F (4C) when I got up this morning. The leaves have noticed. A week ago, most of them were still green and attached. Now, a lot of them have changed and fallen. Barbara vacuumed the yard yesterday, and there are already a lot more leaves down. My guess is that most of the deciduous trees will be looking winter-bare by mid-month.

After a mediocre October, kit sales are looking up for November. If the current pace persists, we should do at least double kit revenues this month relative to November of last year. Barbara labeled several hundred bottles yesterday; today she’ll label and fill several hundred more. Among other things, I have the messy job today of filling 500 g baggies of plaster of Paris for the earth science kits. I don’t think I’ll depend on the zip-lock to keep them sealed during shipping. I’ll heat-seal them above the zip.

10:29 – As expected, I get 22 half-kilo bags from each 25-pound sack of plaster of Paris. As I was working on them, I though how odd it is that our abilities change with age, usually for the worse, but our perceptions of our abilities don’t. When Barbara picked up the 25-pound bag of plaster of Paris, I was disappointed that Home Depot didn’t carry larger bags–50 or 100-pound. As I was man-handling a 25-pound bag today, I realized that it felt, if not heavy, at least noticeable. Back in the day, I’d have thought nothing of shouldering a 100-pound bag and carrying it around. I’d have thought nothing of doing that all day long. Now, a stinking 25-pound bag is a noticeable weight for me to carry around, and hauling 40- and 50-pound bags of sand and gravel up and down the stairs is distinctly non-trivial.

I’m a pale shadow of what I once was, both physically and mentally, and I try to keep that in mind. In the immortal words of Harry Callahan, “a man’s got to know his limitations”. About the only thing that hasn’t degraded too much is my reaction time. I still have the reflexes of a rattlesnake, albeit perhaps a middle-aged rattlesnake.

13 Comments and discussion on "Sunday, 3 November 2013"

  1. SteveF says:

    Yah, if any of those baggies come open during shipping there’ll be dreadful “unknown white powder”, the post office will be evacuated, and next thing you know the gestappo — er, SWAT team — will be breaking down your door.

  2. pcb_duffer says:

    SteveF, maybe our host is putting your name & address on the return label. :0

  3. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Actually, I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s one more good reason to heat-seal. Actually, we’ll heat-seal the other baggies as well–pea gravel, sand, and so on. Once I find the heat-sealer.

  4. brad says:

    Just looked at that visualization of code sizes. Reasonable graphics (though XKCD does these things better), but the whole thing is an exercise in comparing apples to bricks.

    To take the most ridiculous example, consider Debian: The 65 million LOC includes all 12000 packages: OpenOffice, OpenJDK, Ecluspe, even VirtualBox. Really, that’s not a single project, that’s thousands of projects that happen to be associated with each other through the Debian distribution.

    Likely it’s the same for the F-35 (which has lots of different computers). And even with this, I cannot imagine that an “average modern high-end car”contains 100 million LOC, unless they are including software on the development and support side. And, as pointed, out, the supposed size of is plainest nonsense.

    (oops – looks like I posted this to the wrong day)

  5. Chuck W says:

    Ender’s Game does better than industry projections:,0,7654741.story

    I had better go see it next weekend to hold up the figures. Audience age was higher than expected, as it was aimed by producers at teenagers, but the average age of audiences has been above 25.

    Ender’s Game is the most enjoyable fiction book I have read. Not really enough romance in the plot, but Card’s character development reminds me a lot of Dickens’. Not much romance in Dickens. If they did not beef that up in the movie to match Titanic, then the producers had better lower their expectations for teens.

  6. Miles_Teg says:

    A cop covertly films himself having sex with various women, which is illegal in NSW. So what does he do? He shows it to his fellow cops to prove what a great lover he is. Geez.

  7. Dave B. says:

    A cop covertly films himself having sex with various women, which is illegal in NSW. So what does he do? He shows it to his fellow cops to prove what a great lover he is. Geez.

    The ironic thing is that if the idiot went looking on the Internet, he could probably find women who would not only consent to being filmed, but who actually wanted to be filmed. Therefore he wouldn’t have violated the law.

  8. brad says:

    “how odd it is that our abilities change with age, usually for the worse, but our perceptions of our abilities don’t”

    In Bill Cosby’s book written when he turned 50, he said something like (this is a paraphrase): “When I wake up, I feel just like I did when I was 20…until my feet hit the ground”.

    It’s really true, though. My 18 year old son is completely non-athletic. I’m reasonably fit and pack a lot more visible muscle than he does – and yet, he is stronger than I am. I don’t even want to think about my 16 year old, who likes sports and lifts weights…

  9. Miles_Teg says:

    I used to be able to stand straight up from a cross legged position sitting on the floor without using my hands, even for balance. That was over 35 years ago.

    Getting old is hell ™.

  10. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Hmm. Well, at least I can still do that.

  11. Larry McGinn says:

    “Getting old is not for sissies.”
    Attributed to actress Bette Davis after a diagnosis of cancer followed by a stroke.

  12. SteveF says:

    I’m 50 and certainly not as fit as I used to be, but I’m very fit for my age and general beat-up-edness. (I’ve been shot twice, knifed, lit on fire, hit by cars, chewed up by a couple dogs, and jumped out of an airplane without a functioning parachute. And that’s just off the top of my head. Oh, and been dropped on my head as an infant.) Probably overall tougher and stronger and faster than the average man regardless of age, but I’m not sure how to put that to the test. I’m much stronger than either of my sons; the elder can do more pull-ups, but he practices them and in the past few years my one rib which took a bullet has started to hurt when I stress it that way. I can spar and beat several younger opponents at the same time, but that’s speed and experience at least as much as strength.

    The two declines that I notice most about getting older is that I don’t recover as quickly from a hard workout or sparring match or working on the car or house all day, and that I can’t eat as much as I can cram in my face every day. Even on that latter part, it really applies just to junk food; I can still eat all the meat and vegetables I want.

  13. brad says:

    “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill”

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