Wednesday, 29 January 2014

09:09 – It’s currently 17F (-8C) with a stiff breeze. The forecast high today is a degree or two below freezing. We had maybe an inch (2.5 cm) of snow from about noon yesterday through late evening. I’m sure the main roads are plowed and salted, but secondary roads and residential streets are still in bad shape. Barbara drove the Trooper today. She didn’t even bother to take it out of 4WD when she got home yesterday afternoon. Today I’ll be making up solutions and filling bottles for more kits.

I just got back from walking Colin. We just went down to the corner and back, but I took him off-leash this morning, for the first time since he was a small puppy. He followed our usual route, and came on the run each time I called him. I’d trust him off-leash routinely except for one thing: there are a couple of dogs in the neighborhood that he really, really doesn’t like. One of them, Jack, a full-size poodle, lives down at the corner. Jack is extremely aggressive, and nearly attacked Colin once. Jack approached us on a dead run, snarling as he came. Colin’s hackles rose and his fangs bared as he prepared to do battle, and I had actually started my turn to snap-kick Jack and break his spine when he veered away and took off running. No one ever said that poodles aren’t smart.


10:46 – Oh, yeah. I installed the Roku 3 box yesterday and put the old Roku box on the shelf to serve as a spare. The new one works fine with Amazon Instant and Netflix streaming, which is all we care about. Amazon looks the same as it did on the old box, but now we have the new Netflix interface. I’m still not sure whether I like it or not. Supposedly the Roku 3 is much, much faster than our old Roku, but I don’t see any difference. The new Roku drives our TV at 1080P versus 720P for the old one, but again I see no difference. One nice feature of the new Roku is the USB port and the box’s support for playing back MP4, MKV, and a few other video formats. I haven’t tried that yet, but I’ll probably copy season 7 of Heartland to a 32 GB flash drive and see what it looks like.

I just ordered six bottles of 1,000 each 650 mg sodium bicarbonate tablets from Amazon Prime for about $17.50 per bottle. That’s sufficient for about 240 chemistry kits. Amazon showed another vendor that sold the tablets at $11.00 per bottle of 1,000, but their shipping charges were outrageous. I think it was something like $8.95 for the first bottle, which was fine, but additional bottles added something like $6 each to the shipping cost. That company is advertising an unrealistically low price for the product and making up the difference in shipping. I hate that.


14:37 – Geez. I just tried to order three kilos of bacteriology-grade agar from BioExpress, who’d sent me a catalog a couple months ago. I’m always on the lookout for new vendors, and these guys carry some interesting stuff.

So I added the agar to my cart and clicked on checkout. The site insisted I set up an account, which I did. But when I finished it wouldn’t let me complete the order. Instead, it said that my application for an account would be reviewed within 48 hours. So I called them and left voicemail for the guy who approves new accounts. He mailed me back to say that their agreements with their vendors do not allow them to ship “chemicals” to residential addresses. He suggested that he might be able to get an exception from the company that supplies their agar, but he thought that was a long shot. This is agar we’re talking about. The stuff is EDIBLE, and about as innocuous a chemical as I can imagine.

I emailed the guy back and told him it wasn’t worth either of our time and hassle and that I’d just order the agar from one of our regular vendors, which I did.