Saturday, 8 February 2013

09:01 – Barbara stopped by to visit her mom yesterday afternoon. As it turns out, they’re not expecting to release Sankie until Monday. At least Barbara’s replacement phone arrived yesterday. It’s the same model as the one whose screen broke when she dropped it. I swapped in her charged battery and the SIM card, so she now has her old phone number back. Interestingly, she’s going to have to re-enter all her contacts. I assumed they’d be stored on the SIM card in some standardized format, but apparently not.

Kit sales are disturbingly slow, but February is always our slowest month. Slow as sales are, they’re still on track to double over last February’s.

Friday, 7 February 2014

09:29 – Barbara is expecting her mom to be released from the hospital today. With flu rampant, a hospital is about the worst place for an elderly woman to be. Barbara and Frances will pick Sankie up and take her back to her apartment at Creekside. She’ll have a companion there around the clock until Barbara and Frances can determine if Sankie will be able to stay at Creekside on her own.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

08:05 – They finally transferred Barbara’s mom from the emergency room to a regular room late yesterday. Sankie is doing, if not well, at least better than she had been. Frances stayed with her through the evening. Barbara is stopping on the way home from work to see Sankie. Frances stopped by Homestead Hills to put down a deposit to get Sankie in their queue, but we’re hoping that she’ll recover sufficiently that she’ll be able to return to her apartment at Creekside once she’s released from the hospital.

I boxed up another batch of biology kits yesterday. February and March are by far our slowest months, so for now we’re in good shape on finished-goods inventory of all kits. Not that we’ll rest on our laurels, because things will start ramping up again in April and by July we’ll be shipping kits faster than we can build them. That means we have to have a reasonable inventory built up by then, which means getting the labor-intensive stuff like labeling and filling bottles out of the way while things are slow.

10:19 – Last May, I commented that, other than the 15 year difference in ages, Michelle Burke (Little Men) and Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) could be not just sisters, but identical twins. Well, with Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights) that doppelgänger is now a dreifachgänger. They could be identical triplets. In fact, when I first saw Minka Kelley, I thought she *was* Leighton Meester. So much for eyewitness identifications.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

07:30 – Barbara went out to dinner with her friend Marcy last night, followed by a concert on the Wake Forest University campus. Frances had forgotten that Barbara was out. She called about 8:30 to give Barbara an update on their mom. Monday, Sankie had been asking her caregiver to call 911 because she was having a heart attack. Yesterday, she was trying to convince her caregiver to call 911 because she was in kidney failure. Neither was true, of course. Sankie seems convinced that there’s something badly wrong with her physically, although the doctors say there’s not. Unfortunately, the problems appear to be purely mental, and they’re not getting any better. Worse, if anything.

Frances and Barbara have been looking at care facilities, and have decided on one called Homestead Hills. It offers three levels of care: assisted living, memory care (Alzheimer’s/dementia), and full nursing care. Frances is going over today to put down a deposit to get Sankie in the queue.

09:32 – Another day, another crisis. Frances called at 7:36 this morning to tell us that Sankie had pressed her LifeLine button, that the EMTs were at her apartment, and that they were getting ready to transport her to Baptist Hospital. Fortunately, Frances got there in time to tell the EMTs to ignore Sankie. She has it in her mind that she goes to Baptist Hospital, when in fact all her doctors are at Forsyth Hospital.

So we had a conversation with Frances, Sankie, and the EMTs sitting in the ambulance in Sankie’s apartment parking lot. Barbara and Frances tried to convince Sankie that she didn’t need to go to the hospital. (Sankie’s complaint, repeatedly, was that she needed “medical attention”.) She refused to go back to her apartment, saying she didn’t “feel safe” there. Barbara and Frances explained to Sankie that if she went to the hospital that they’d probably put her in the 9th floor psych ward, which she hates, and that they’d discharge her to a nursing home and she wouldn’t be coming back to her apartment, ever. She still refused to go back to her apartment and insisted on going to the hospital, saying that she needed “medical attention”. So they transported her to Forsyth. Barbara and Frances are down there now. I have no idea how this is all going to turn out, but I suspect it won’t be good.

Meanwhile, before she left here Barbara had dropped her cell phone, fracturing the screen. So she has my cell phone as a temporary replacement while I get a real replacement ordered for her. Just one more stressful incident that Barbara really didn’t need right now. Barbara and Frances are back in hell, and their mom doesn’t know or care what she’s putting them through. As Barbara said before she left, dealing with Sankie is like dealing with a 2-year-old. I’m afraid it’s not going to get any better.

12:10 – Barbara just called to tell me that the hospital has diagnosed pneumonia, presumably pseudomonas again. Oddly, that’s good news, although pneumonia can kill even young, strong people, let alone a woman who’s nearly 86 and has other health problems. But it also means that Sankie’s severe mental problems lately may well be a result of the infection. Given that Sankie was in the hospital for a week, ending only two days ago, I’d like to know why the other hospital didn’t notice. It’s obvious that this infection has been running for some time now, possibly several weeks. This simply reinforces my opinion of psychiatrists as people with MDs who don’t actually practice medicine.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

07:55 – Barbara got home about 6:15 p.m. She and Frances had finally gotten their mom back to her apartment and settled in with her caregivers. Sankie is not doing very well. Barbara commented that she’s no better than she was when she went into the hospital. She’s still confused and rambling when she’s responsive at all. We’re all hoping that being back in her familiar environment will help her bounce back, but as Barbara said, Sankie has to do this herself. No one can do it for her. All anyone can do is wait and hope.

I just shipped our last biology kit, so my top priority today is to get another batch of those assembled. February is starting out pretty well. If the pace of the first three days holds up all month, we’ll triple sales versus February 2013.

10:58 – I’m starting to get annoyed with Netflix streaming. When I check their “New Arrivals” section, I find many titles that were first available on Netflix streaming several months ago and that we finished watching three or four months ago. That’s not “New” by any reasonable definition of the word. It’s probably no coincidence that Netflix doesn’t allow one to sort by availability date. If people could see only what’s been added in the last seven days or even the last 30 days, a lot of them would start wondering why they’re paying for the subscription. Making matters worse, most of what they’ve added in the last six months to a year has been garbage. Dubbed Pacific Rim and Eastern European titles, cartoons, crap reality shows, and so on. I’m sure they’re doing the best they can, given the $8/month subscription rate, but it’s pretty clear that they’re being outbid for a lot of newer material.

We’re watching a lot more stuff on Amazon Prime nowadays than we are on Netflix streaming. Part of that is because we’re new to the Amazon Prime catalog, but it’s also nice that Amazon Prime almost never crashes out of the program and re-buffers, which Netflix does frequently. On the other hand, I’m annoyed at Amazon for starting to charge sales tax to North Carolina residents, and I hear they’re thinking about increasing the price of Prime from $79/year to as much as $120/year.

Netflix and Amazon are both making a huge mistake by competing to license content exclusively. All that does ultimately is to drive up everyone’s costs and they gain no real competitive advantage by doing so. If Netflix and Amazon would both simply refuse to pay for exclusive rights and insist on the lowest possible fees for non-exclusive rights, both of them would end up with a lot more content at a much lower price.

Monday, 3 February 2014

08:37 – Barbara and Frances are both taking the day off work today to drive down to the hospital in Thomasville and bring their mother back to her apartment at Creekside. They’ve arranged to have home health aides with Sankie around the clock until she gets back on her feet.

I knew it had to happen eventually, but I’m still pissed. I ordered a book for Barbara from yesterday. When the email invoice arrived, it showed they’d charged sales tax. Bastards. North Carolina already collects use tax. There’s a line on the state income tax return where you have to calculate use tax due as a percentage of your adjusted gross income, as well as adding additional use tax for individual purchases over a certain dollar amount. So now North Carolina is double-taxing purchases from vendors outside North Carolina. Bastards.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

08:37 – We sold two biology kits yesterday afternoon and overnight, which takes our stock of finished biology kits down to one. Fortunately, we have all the subassemblies in stock necessary to build another two dozen biology kits quickly, so we’ll get started on that today. We’re also down to one prepared slide set, so we’ll get another 30 of those assembled.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

09:55 – Barbara got home about 10:00 last night from visiting her mom in the hospital. Sankie is not doing well. Barbara and Frances are convinced that she has a better chance to recover if she’s at home, so they’re going down to Thomasville again this morning to meet with representatives of the home-health company that they’re hiring to provide someone to sit at home with Sankie around-the-clock. They’ll bring her back to her apartment Monday, and hope to get her re-engaged with her normal daily activities. As it is, Sankie is pretty much non-responsive, and being in the hospital is not addressing that. I think the fundamental problem is that Sankie can’t face life without Dutch, and unfortunately there’s nothing anyone can do to bring Dutch back.

Although sales tailed off late in the month we still had a good January, with kit sales more than twice those of January 2013. February has historically been by far our slowest month, so it’ll be interesting to see how we do this month.

We do only 20% to 30% of the year’s business in the first half of the year, so we need to use these slow first six months to prepare for the July through December period and in particular the August/September rush. That means getting as much as possible of the labor-intensive stuff out of the way now, things like labeling containers. The chemistry kit, for example, has something like 50 bottles, vials, and envelopes, so being prepared to ship 500 chemistry kits means having about 25,000 labeled containers prepared ahead of time. And that’s just for chemistry kits.

14:39 – Here’s something we’re going to see a lot more of in the coming years: California cuts off water to agencies serving millions amid drought

And not just California. Any area that depends on the Colorado River for its water as well as other semi-arid Mountain states are in severe danger of running out of water in the near future. Recycling and conserving may help short-term, but it’s not a real solution. The problem is that there are too many people, too many farms and ranches, and too many industries for the available water to support. And much of the Southwest has been eating its seed corn for decades by pumping fossil water out of the ground at rates literally 1,000 times or more the rates at which it’s replenished. In the Eastern states, no one thinks much about water rights. In the West, water rights are increasingly becoming a matter of life and death, sometimes literally.