Thursday, 28 August 2014

07:57 – So, I was down in the lab yesterday making up a new batch of Kastle-Meyer reagent, which is used in forensic science as a presumptive test for blood. It’s made by dissolving phenolphthalein powder in a concentrated solution of potassium hydroxide and then refluxing it over powdered zinc until the intense pink color of phenolphthalein in basic solution fades to colorless as the phenolphthalein is reduced to phenolphthalin.

Even cold, concentrated solutions of strong bases like potassium hydroxide etch/dissolve glass, and if they’re boiling they do so very quickly. Within a couple of minutes, the glass starts to turn cloudy with chalky white streaks. Once a flask is used to make up KM reagent, it’s too ugly to even consider using for anything else. So, the first time I made up a big batch of KM reagent a couple of years ago, I devoted a 2 L Erlenmeyer flask to the job, and that’s all I’ve used it for ever since. For the first batch, I put a kilo or so of zinc powder in the flask, made up the KM reagent, and then washed the flask out with several changes of water, leaving the unreacted zinc powder in the bottom of the flask. I store the flask full of water and stoppered, because damp zinc powder is pyrophoric (catches fire spontaneously when exposed to air). The next time I need to make up a batch, I drain the water, rinse the zinc several times, and use it again for that batch. I’ve done that several times over the last couple of years, and it’s always worked as expected.

Normally, I just add a liter of water to the flask along with the appropriate amounts of potassium hydroxide and phenolphthalein powder, put it on the hot plate, bring it to a boil, and then let it reflux for a few minutes. As it simmers, the bright pink color starts to fade and after five or ten minutes the solution turns colorless. But yesterday it didn’t work. After sitting there refluxing for half an hour or more, the solution was as pink as ever. Hmmm. Obviously, the zinc wasn’t reducing the phenolphthalein to phenolphthalin. It looked like there was still plenty of zinc in the flask, but instead of powder it looked more like a zinc coral reef. So I transferred another couple hundred grams of zinc powder to the flask. Sure enough, within five minutes the solution had turned colorless. The moral here is that just because it looks like there’s plenty of zinc remaining doesn’t mean there is.


10:45 – I get a surprising amount of private email from preppers, many of which ask me science-related questions. Sometimes they link to threads on various prepper forums. For example, one topic that I’m frequently asked about is storing antibiotics. The usual questions have to do with how long various antibiotics can be stored and the suitability of veterinary antibiotics for human use. I’m always surprised by how bad the information is on many of these threads, including quite a few comments by physicians, who should know better.

With regard to shelf life, the real answer is that most antibiotics if stored in the freezer will still be usable 20 or more years from now. Their potency may decline a bit, but long-term tests have shown that most antibiotics lose 10% or less (often, much less) of their potency after being stored frozen for 10 years. Just as important, any degradation that does occur does not create toxic byproducts. The one exception is the tetracyclines, which should not be stored long term. Tetracyclines do in fact produce hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic degradation products. Administering old tetracycline or its derivatives can kill the patient from liver or kidney failure.

With regard to human use of veterinary antibiotics, that’s generally not a problem. It’s not like pharmaceutical companies produce amoxicillin for humans in one plant and amoxicillin for veterinary use in another. It all comes from the same vats, and veterinary medications are packaged as carefully as human medications. One problem arises because people are not dogs or cows or chickens. The mechanisms are very similar in any of these animals, including humans, but our internal organs and processes may differ, sometimes significantly.

For example, on one forum thread someone asked if erythromycin packaged for oral veterinary use was suitable for oral human use. A physician responded that it was fine. It’s not. Veterinary erythromycin for oral use is often in the form of the phosphate salt. That’s fine if you’re treating chickens or turkeys. In humans (or other mammals), not so good. The problem is that the phosphate salt is quickly broken down by human gastric juices and the erythromycin is destroyed before it can be absorbed. Erythromycin for oral use in mammals is compounded with a different anion that renders the salt much less subject to being broken down by the hydrochloric acid in mammalian stomachs.

I keep a pretty good stock of veterinary antibiotics. For example, I order penicillin G potassium and sulfadimethoxine literally by the kilo for use in biology kits. Neither is intended for human use, but both are usable. The penicillin G potassium is not ideal for oral human use because it’s also degraded by stomach acids, but it can be used orally by increasing the dose and administering it when stomach acid is minimal, such as an hour or so before meals. One can also administer sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) a few minutes before the antibiotic to reduce stomach acidity even further. The sulfadimethoxine has never been approved for human use in the US, but it’s widely used in other countries, particularly Russia, and has been for decades. It’s as effective as the other sulfas on organisms susceptible to sulfas, and it has the added advantage of a very long biological half-time. That means it needs to be administered only once per day rather than the every four hours typical for short-acting sulfas.

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43 Responses to Thursday, 28 August 2014

  1. brad says:

    What is it then? Powder off the sides of the flask?

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    The boiling concentrated alkali breaks down the structure of the borosilicate glass and solubilizes the oxides of boron, sodium, and aluminum as hydroxides. The remaining solid is silica (sand), which makes up the bulk of the glass (~ 75% to 85% of the mass).

  3. Chad says:

    RE: Antibiotics

    Our family doctor, when we lived in Oklahoma, prescribed the newer cephalosporins almost exclusively as he was of the opinion that too many bacteria are resistant to aminopenicillins to bother with them.

  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I don’t know that I’d go that far. Many pathogens are still susceptible to even early-generation antibiotics from 50 years ago or more.

    My guess is that within maybe 25 years we’ll see the end of traditional antibiotics. Not because so much has become immune, although that’s certainly a huge issue, but because I foresee a new generation of synthetic biologists building hunter-killer bacteriophage viruses tailored to specific pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and protists.

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    1,400 cases of ‘appalling’ sexual exploitation revealed in UK report

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/28/world/europe/uk-child-sexual-exploitation/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

    Guess who is raping guess who? Yep, muslims raping mostly girls of white european heritage, some who aren’t yet into their teens. And it’s still going on and nothing is being done about it. The barbarians aren’t just at the gate, the UK has welcomed them with open arms. I wonder how much longer people will put up with outrages like this before they realize the government and police aren’t going to do a damn thing to stop it. Apparently, vigilantes may be the only solution.

  6. Dave B. says:

    Guess who is raping guess who? Yep, muslims raping mostly girls of white european heritage, some who aren’t yet into their teens. And it’s still going on and nothing is being done about it. The barbarians aren’t just at the gate, the UK has welcomed them with open arms. I wonder how much longer people will put up with outrages like this before they realize the government and police aren’t going to do a damn thing to stop it. Apparently, vigilantes may be the only solution.

    And even that may not be a solution. I am afraid that the UK’s unarmed populace has neither the inclination or resources to fight back. I’ve been joking about needing to get a shotgun before my daughter becomes a teenager in a few years. I think it may be time to skip the shotgun and buy an AR-15 now instead of waiting.

  7. Dave B. says:

    Speaking of antibiotics, I am reminded of an interesting bit of family history. My late mother was allergic to sulfa and had her appendix removed in 1936 or 1937. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that if she had that allergy her whole life, she was allergic to every known antibiotic when she had her appendix out. Makes me think a little bit more about that peculiar practice we call medicine.

  8. Ray Thompson says:

    I’ve been joking about needing to get a shotgun before my daughter becomes a teenager in a few years.

    When you have a boy you worry about one penis. When you have a girl you worry about all of them.

  9. Ray Thompson says:

    she was allergic to every known antibiotic when she had her appendix out

    I think back then people were more resistant to many types of infection because their bodies were exposed to more germ and viruses. Food supply was not as sterile, pacifiers were simply wiped when they fell on the ground, milk was generally raw, vegetables from the garden fertilized by manure and were only washed before use.

    I used to drink out of the creek that we used for irrigation. Never once got sick from drinking the water. Vegetables were many times just picked, wiped off, and eaten raw. Hanging fruit was just picked and eaten. Cuts on the farm were rinsed with water, wiped on pants or shirts, wrapped with tape if time was needed to get to the house. A bandaid may be applied before the evening meal.

    A clean food supply is indeed good, but sterile I am not so sure. I could probably eat stuff that would sicken 75% of the population and never skip a beat.

  10. brad says:

    Several (counselors) interviewed believed that by opening up these issues they could be ‘giving oxygen’ to racist perspectives

    What planet to these people live on. Of course it’s racist – but in the proper sense of recognizing that muslims – and only muslims – were perpetrating these crimes. Even if recognizing this were somehow bad, how is it better to let 1400 kids be raped by these animals?

    This reminds me somehow of the muslim complaint that western women needed to cover up, because otherwise it was like meat in front of wild dogs. This was somehow meant to be a comment about western culture, but it really just showed that too many muslim males exhibit all the refined, civilized behavior of wild dogs.

    Edit: I see in the article I linked that he talks about wild cats, but there was also a version with wild dogs. Doesn’t matter, the point is the same…

  11. medium wave says:

    @OFD: Something to consider when you start your term-paper-writing business:

    “Apparently, guileful students are thesaurusizing cut-and-paste plagiarism to fool both their professors and anti-cheating software such as Turnitin. But as long as a human is grading those essays, phrases like “sinister buttocks” (for “left behind”!) are guaranteed to provoke a professorial head-scratch (and some welcome, albeit dispiriting, entertainment during grading).”

    http://althouse.blogspot.com/2014/08/apparently-guileful-students-are.html

    (Be sure to read the comments!)

  12. Ray Thompson says:

    If you take one item from the WEB it is stealing. If you take many items from the WEB it is research.

  13. Chad says:

    I’ve been joking about needing to get a shotgun before my daughter becomes a teenager in a few years

    How old-fashioned of you! This is the modern philosophy on being a girl’s father:
    http://a.abcnews.com/images/Lifestyle/ht_feminist_father_kb_140619_16x9_992.jpg

    🙂

  14. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I don’t think of myself as a feminist, but I certainly agree completely with the rules on that shirt.

    And there’s nothing modern about that philosophy. It’s called respect for the individual. The other day at dinner with Mary and Paul, I said that after 50+ years of reading widely in history and philosophy I had concluded that the best single measure of the quality of a culture or civilization is how it treats its women.

  15. Dave B. says:

    How old-fashioned of you! This is the modern philosophy on being a girl’s father:
    http://a.abcnews.com/images/Lifestyle/ht_feminist_father_kb_140619_16x9_992.jpg

    I may be old fashioned, but I begrudgingly accept the validity of those rules after my daughter’s 18th birthday. Until then, this is the shirt:

    http://www.trenzshirts.com/p-1277-guns-dont-kill-people-t-shirt-dads-with-daughters-do-ii.aspx?CAWELAID=1583060811&CAGPSPN=pla&catargetid=530007200000613999&cadevice=c&gclid=Cj0KEQjwpvufBRCwzp_zyqfkhrcBEiQA8b-SHHp9ktCYiRJlZ8TT5aHTCphSkTgr7f7iK24dZs1t-soaAkN58P8HAQ

  16. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    18? Good luck with that.

    I don’t have a daughter. If I did have a young daughter, I’d make sure she knew all about birth control and STD’s before she started menstruating. (Or shortly after; I understand that menarche can come as a complete surprise, sometimes as young as 7.)

  17. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Realistically, IIRC, girls in the US lose their virginities at a mean age of about 15.5 years, with sigma around 1.25 years. So, 68.3% of them do it for the first time between ages 14.25 and 16.75, 95.5% between ages 13 and 18, and 99.7% between ages 13 and 19.

    In my case, I was 14 and the girl was 15. We had absolutely zero clue about birth control. That was a long, long time ago, but it’s still a recipe for disaster. On the bright side, my second was when I was 15 and she was–I’m guessing–maybe 30. She taught me a lot, all of which served me well later in high school and college.

  18. Lynn McGuire says:

    Wild, I agree with the feminist father rules. And I have a daughter (who is 27). She is quite opinionated on this matter.

  19. Roy Harvey says:

    The one exception is the tetracyclines, which should not be stored long term. Tetracyclines do in fact produce hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic degradation products. Administering old tetracycline or its derivatives can kill the patient from liver or kidney failure.

    I think it would be worth editing today’s entry to put the above text in bold.

  20. OFD says:

    I don’t give a blind rat’s ass for the feminists and their metrosexual manchild pets, nor the plagiarism racket; the latter, because I don’t care about schools and colleges anymore in the West and would see 90% of them closed down permanently.

    I’m pretty sure our daughter didn’t get going until her year after high school, over in Italy. Some young Italo stud got it on with her and I threatened him over the facetime phone; he just laughed. But now she’s 22 and nearly six feet and over 200 pounds and hopefully a little wiser about all this stuff. But what do I know, anyway? Kids do whatever the hell they want; I certainly did; if my parents ever knew the stuff I got into, their hair woulda turned white and stood on end most days, that is, if my dad hadn’t already lost most of his hair by age 25.

    Hey, latest nooz squirts from the neocon douchebags at the WSJ:

    “Obama says U.S. developing strategy, military options to counter Islamic State.”

    Really? Which “Islamic State” is that? What a frigging dunce. Who is pulling his strings, anyway? Strategy, military options, WTF is he talking about?

    Then we have:

    “Obama: expansion of military effort in Iraq, Syria not imminent.”

    Gee, what a relief that must be, both for the nabob shitbags who run those shit-holes, and the poor bastards that have to live under them. Also for the regular grunts, sailors and Marines who don’t gotta saddle up just yet; spec ops drones already on the ground, however, long since, but hey, they eat this shit up.

    Another day of ball-busting at the factory; sometimes I wonder who’s sweating more, me or those buggers down on the floor hauling ass with machines and tools all day. And while the scenery is cool, this forty miles each way is starting to be a drag already. Two hours of the day gone on that, plus all the gas.

    Will be chatting with Mrs. OFD on this topic when she gets back this weekend; she knows I’ve been having second and third thoughts; “Network Admin” my ass; it’s 80% Winblows help desk and 20% MySQL DBA/Programmer. The network, servers and Linux are barely touched so far.

    Given total free reign there I’d dump all the Windows crap and run maybe three or four RHEL servers, Zimbra mail, and Ubuntu and Mint boxes on everyone’s desk that uses a desktop or laptop. I’d leave the phone system alone; it works, it’s local, and anything cloud-related or VOIP or wireless will be a joke there, as it’s tucked in among the hills and mountains; cell coverage blows.

    Nothing like slaving at a Windows help desk gig all frigging day and getting a hugely renewed respect and longing for Linux.

  21. Chuck W says:

    I saw some pretty ugly things happening in Berlin: teenage German girls approached on the subway when alone by Turkish Muslim young hoodlum boys. So did my stepson. He stepped between a couple guys who were harassing a teen girl and stopped them from accosting her. I saw them spit on a girl who was being hassled so badly that she gave them the finger. Of course, spitting in Eastern culture is the ultimate form of disrespect. I have never, ever witnessed anybody spitting on anyone else prior to that event. Even growing up, kids here in the Midwest might get into hellish fights, but never did they spit on one another.

  22. Chuck W says:

    Speaking of Linux, it really takes using an OS to find out the faults. And the more I use Mint, the less suitable it becomes for my needs. It is not that I need to escape Linux, but that this multiple distros thing, all headed in different directions, is a problem.

    So it turns out (I am adopting the general new use of “so” to begin a new subject or as the start to answer a question) that Debian — all distributions, including Ubuntu and Mint — abandoned FFmpeg, the media file conversion tool, for their own fork called libav. After a couple years, libav development was abandoned. But Debian developers refuse to return to FFmpeg, because libav is now so deeply embedded into Debian releases, it would be overwhelming to change.

    This explains why I cannot open various video and audio files in Audacity and Cinelerra — because they use FFmpeg to convert files, and there is no FFmpeg compiled into those applications’ releases for Debian. (Simply installing FFmpeg on the computer does not solve the problem, as Audacity normally embeds FFmpeg into their distributions, but no longer does so for Ubuntu releases. Although libav is billed as a ‘drop-in’ replacement for FFmpeg, it is not, and has serious problems, not the least of which is that the Debian folks who forked it, have now abandoned it.)

    There is so little documentation of anything Linux that is useful, only geeks would have the patience to sift through troubles and stick with it to resolution.

    There are gotcha’s that one never knows about until you get deep into using it. Of course, I HAVE to have the full use of Cinelerra and Audacity, so I cannot stay with Mint long-term.

    This is a major setback, because I am pretty well ensconced in Mint by now, having used it exclusively since early May. Overall, I am still not unhappy with Linux as a replacement for the now defunct WinXP, and I doubt there is any way of knowing the right things in advance to avoid the kinds of problems I have been having, except by trying a distro and seeing what happens.

    Another couple of problems have developed. When recording audio, a low pitch click now occurs randomly, sometimes with several in a row. This was not a problem a month ago, so I can only assume it has comes from either software I have added as I needed it, or else from the OS and software updates that have come in at an average of about twice a day for Mint 17. The freeze-ups I was experiencing in Libre Office, have now spread to Firefox and the whole computer. Things lock-up completely for about 15 seconds. Logging off the user account and back on does not solve it; it takes a complete reboot, unlike my experience in Windows where I essentially never had to reboot and ran for as long as 6 months with not a second of downtime, and where logging off the user account and back on, solved any problem but the BSOD.

    The HP1200 laser printer (which was a mainstream widely-used printer) takes about 2 minutes to print even the simplest page — longer for graphics. Printing was absolutely instantaneous under Windows, so something ain’t right. As with the scanner, which took extra effort to get working, the printer (and scanner) worked perfectly out of the box with Mint 15 (which was not an LTS distribution, thus I did not want to stick with it). That is beyond discouraging to maddening. To break stuff that was already working in previous iterations, is really inexcusable.

    Finally, whether it is Mint related or not, I do not know, but Evolution refuses to put sent mail in the local “Sent” folder. It sends it to a folder (that I discovered by accident) which I created in my method of filing emails, which is to create a folder for each person and entity that I communicate with. Changing the option for sent mail to other folders does not at all change the behavior of it sending sent mail to that one folder.

    Bottom line, I will be moving to another distro. Most likely CentOS, because the radio software is developed on CentOS and they highly recommend using it. Or possibly Slackware or Arch, both of which still use FFmpeg. But most likely CentOS.

    Ugh!

  23. OFD says:

    I am thinking you may have to differentiate between the machine you use mainly for your radio work, and another one you use for your other work that you do. I would find it mildly surprising and interesting that CentOS would be the preferred solution, as it’s a downstream clone of RHEL, like Scientific Linux. Mainly used in server farms or running fairly substantial operations, like the manufacturer I’m at now.

    Maybe you oughta give Windows 8 a try for one or the other machine…just sayin…

  24. ech says:

    The other day at dinner with Mary and Paul, I said that after 50+ years of reading widely in history and philosophy I had concluded that the best single measure of the quality of a culture or civilization is how it treats its women.

    My mom, who turns 83 on Sunday, has said this for years. I also agree with Dennis Prager’s statement that anti-Semitism is the canary in the coalmine for a sick society.

  25. OFD says:

    What does Prager mean by that, and what’s his definition of “anti-Semitism?”

    As for how women are treated; how are they treated in this country? On one hand as not a hell of a lot different from how hadji hoodlums treat them, short of actually spitting, although I hear that’s some kind of freakish erotic thing for some. Like face-slapping and feet, I dunno, peeps is weird. But as garish displays, in pictures, videos, movies, tee-vee and live-in-person, not much different from old-timey street hookers, for the taking and the abuse. On the other hand, like a professionally aggrieved group of victims, where men are stupid boorish pigs and they’re all virtually goddesses, like the mythic matriarchies of old, of which the fugliest ones sing loudest. And once in power in the corporate and academic and media worlds, they are merciless harridans in large part, and worst of all to their “sisters.”

    In the middle, the great mass of girls and women, who are mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, and treated respectfully as such by the men and boys in their lives. Of whom we never hear. In the kultural zeitgeist, they’re whores and sluts; in the workaday world, they’re gaulieter and commissar.

    How, then, to evaluate our own culture?

    “Apparently, vigilantes may be the only solution.”

    Yes.

    If it was my daughter or wife or mother, rest assured those scum would rue the day forever.

  26. Chuck W says:

    Still makes me sick to my stomach to see men walking, dressed in Western clothes, with a woman covered head to foot in scarves and Burkhas, walking 5 paces behind the man. WTF goes on at home? Spit and beatings with belts? What a way to treat a woman! It’s sick, I tell ya.

  27. I looked into the business of tetracyclines becoming dangerous a few years ago, and it seemed like it isn’t much of a practical problem: the reports of toxicity were from decades ago, and subsequent investigations had found that the problem was another ingredient in the pill/capsule which made the tetracycline decompose — and which thus is no longer used when formulating pills/capsules for tetracyclines.

    I’m not sure this is the whole story, though.

  28. Chuck W says:

    Well maybe I should try Slackware. What I want in the short-term is the ability to run audio, including the radio automation (recommended by the developers to run on CentOS), normal communications like IRC, Firefox, and Evolution, along with Cinelerra, and be able to take it with me. Once I get the operation of the radio automation down, I would split that off onto its own computer; same with Cinelerra, because video editing really requires massive storage which pretty much kills its portability.

    I know CentOS is not common for the desktop, but everywhere I read, people say that it just works. With the radio automation, the only hitch is getting drivers to work for proprietary pro audio soundcards. And that IS a tough assignment, but not one I will be tackling until I have learned the operation of the main software. Apparently there really is no problem with built-in motherboard soundcards in CentOS — especially Intel, which is what I have. Surely CentOS can handle run-of-the-mill software?

    But the bottom line is that I MUST have FFmpeg working, and it will not work on Ubuntu at present. In fact, there is not even a release version provided by the FFmpeg developers for Debian/Ubuntu anymore. So I have to move to something else.

  29. OFD says:

    If you go to CentOS with your plans, be sure to post results here; I gotta work with it until such time as the Powers decide they wanna go for the RH support contracts. And there’s a CentOS mailing list worth its weight in gold which covers the gamut of features and various issues for different apps. Check out their web site thoroughly.

    I may throw it on one of the machines at work that are just lying around doing nothing at present; also a nice Fedora Security o.s., probably on one of the laptops.

    I’m their only full-time IT guy on-site for a manufacturing plant with a couple of hundred users; Mrs. OFD sez I have the upper hand and when I talk to the Powers tomorrow at our first weekly IT meeting, I should lay it on them about this past week and how it is not sustainable, no matter what they think past IT drones have done there. i.e., what can we do to make this work better together? Etc. She’s good at all this softball negotiation stuff. Ima gon tell them I need some help, and my recommendation is for an experienced Winblows help desk/support person who also knows some hardware, like PCs, laptops, printers, network stuff, etc., and who wants to learn and try out some other stuff. Two of us could get a bunch done there, but me doing it alone is Sisyphus rolling that boulder up the hill or Hercules at the Aegean stables. Maybe even poll the factory people down below, see if anyone is IT-oriented and wants to give it a shot.

  30. brad says:

    @OFD: Been there, done that. When I tried to get back into the workforce in my late 40s, I had to take a job with a long commute. Hung onto it until I found one closer to home. Like yours, it was an interesting company, but the commute gets really tiresome. Hang in there!

    In some sense, the fact that you’ve barely touched the servers is good news: it means you have a stable infrastructure (I’m trying to find the silver lining here). Maybe you can tackle the source of the Windows problems by setting up a couple of sample desktops with the configuration you’d rather see (Mint/Ubuntu), and do a slow transition.

    Seems like your idea at the IT meeting is good, depending on how easy the bosses are to talk to. It’s not really possible to both manage the infrastructure and play help-desk at the same time – the one requires concentration, the other interrupts you all the time.

    FWIW: The rule of thumb is 1.5 IT people for every hundred employees. If I take your “couple hundred” as 200 employees, then the company really ought to have 3 IT people. Certainly having only one is pretty damned risky. If you get hit by a bus, or are just seriously ill for a while, they are very screwed.

    – – – – –

    My IT woes – did a factory reset on the Cisco router, it blinked all the right lights, but the rescue software couldn’t do anything with it, so I sent it in for repair under the (3 year – wow!) warranty.

    According to the Interwebz, this router comes from the old Linksys line, has been around for nearly a decade, and has always had the same problem: cheap electrolytic capacitors on an internal power converter. Replace those, and it works again. If that’s true, it’s hard to see why they haven’t changed parts; there are apparently tons of warranty repairs on these things, which must cost a pile.

    Meanwhile, everything is reconfigured, and when I get the router back, I can reconfigure it again. Makes me feel almost like a real sys-admin…

  31. Miles_Teg says:

    “In my case, I was 14 and the girl was 15.”

    I’m amazed that you restrained yourself that long… 🙂

  32. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    What a way to treat a woman! It’s sick, I tell ya.

    Not sick. Evil.

  33. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I looked into the business of tetracyclines becoming dangerous a few years ago, and it seemed like it isn’t much of a practical problem: the reports of toxicity were from decades ago, and subsequent investigations had found that the problem was another ingredient in the pill/capsule which made the tetracycline decompose — and which thus is no longer used when formulating pills/capsules for tetracyclines.

    I’m not sure this is the whole story, though.

    I suspect you’re right, but, as the saying goes, better safe than sorry. That said, I do have kilo of various tetracyclines frozen.

  34. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’m amazed that you restrained yourself that long… 🙂

    I didn’t restrain myself; it took me that long to find a willing girl. Well, actually, she found me…

  35. Ray Thompson says:

    my recommendation is for an experienced Winblows help desk/support person

    You want my resume?

    cheap electrolytic capacitors on an internal power converter

    Had that problem on a SonicWall (before Dell acquired them) power supply. It was an external brick and bulged the supply. Got a variable power supply from the University EE shop for a few days until I got a new power supply. Set the voltage and current (although current was not necessary as long as it met the minimum), spliced into the old connector and was good to go.

    the fact that you’ve barely touched the servers is good news

    I have four Windows servers here that I rarely touch, perhaps half a dozen times a year. Last time was three months ago when the building power failed and the UPS ran out of power. One of the machines did not start properly. Restarted it again and all was well. Don’t know why it failed the first time and really don’t care.

    When I tried to get back into the workforce in my late 40s, I had to take a job with a long commute. Hung onto it until I found one closer to home

    I had to do something similar when I was laid off. Took a job with a company run by a real jerk. He wanted to totally rewrite the banking software and he thought I could do it. I knew better. So I strung him along until I found a better job. He was pissed when I turned in my resignation so he fired me instead to avoid paying for the two week notice. I could have taken him to the state labor board but decided it was not worth the effort.

    Since I turned in my letter on payday he tried to have my direct deposit pulled from the bank I found out later. But I suspected he might try such a stunt so I had removed all the money from the account and closed the account before giving him the letter.

    I’m their only full-time IT guy on-site for a manufacturing plant with a couple of hundred users;

    You may be good, but you are not enough. You need help.

    no matter what they think past IT drones have done there.

    Probably not much. Just kept the place operational. You are replacing two people and just physically moving around the plant is going to stretch you thin. And when two problems surface you will piss off the second person you resolve the problem.

    Add in wanting to do SQL stuff, move the web in house, that is a significant challenge and workload. You need to argue for at least one other person skilled in SQL, WEB and support. Two people would be even better. Unless you argue for help the place will rip your nuts out through your nostrils.

  36. Lynn McGuire says:

    He was pissed when I turned in my resignation so he fired me instead to avoid paying for the two week notice. I could have taken him to the state labor board but decided it was not worth the effort.

    You could have claimed unemployment then here in the Great State of Texas.

  37. Ray Thompson says:

    You could have claimed unemployment then here in the Great State of Texas.

    You cannot get unemployment when you have been terminated, only when you have been laid off. I had been on unemployment for the prior 6 months and thus my benefits had run out. I needed a job. This job was merely to hold me over. I faked it for about four months until I found another job.

    All the work I had done was in Microsoft Word and I put a password on the file before I left. They never called to ask for the password so I don’t know whether they even looked at the file. They did have a printed copy but that was effectively worthless. The company no longer exists and I suspect the banks he was processing for got bought or otherwise ceased to exist.

    He was an idiot. He wrote the program that handled the ATMs and the program was a piece of junk. I know because I had written the ATM and PULSE switch software for the bank holding company when I worked in San Antonio. My program did more, did it better in less than 6,000 lines of code. His was over 20,000 lines of crap that he was always having to change. I suspect he had separate code sections for each bank they processed. My program was table driven using the same code for multiple banks (27 of them) and making changes was trivial with some changes to the tables.

  38. Lynn McGuire says:

    You cannot get unemployment when you have been terminated, only when you have been laid off.

    The Great State of Texas has very strict rules for paying unemployment and very well defined terminology. If you are terminated for cause then there are only a few things that will keep you from getting unemployment such as attendance, thievery, violence, etc. Otherwise, Texas will pay you unemployment. And, since the employer has just sworn that you were terminated for a real cause and not just because they hate your breath, that makes it actionable if they lie during the process.

    The intent here is that anyone terminated for other than willful actions will get unemployment. This is designed to keep people off the welfare roles.

    I know this because I have terminated several people over the years and have paid unemployment through the nose repeatedly. Mostly sales people who did not understand that they had to sell constantly.

  39. MrAtoz says:

    I know this because I have terminated several people over the years and have paid unemployment through the nose repeatedly.

    We had to get rid of a couple of under-performers in Tejas. Had to pay through the nose for them.

  40. OFD says:

    “You may be good, but you are not enough. You need help.”

    Had the meeting today with the GM and the COO and told them the story; the GM practically cut me off and told me they’re gonna hire another person for me and to give them a job description to use, which I did immediately. The COO agreed 100%. Now we’ll see if they do. Meanwhile I’m just gonna pace myself and in a nice way tell lusers to bugger off, I’ll get to them; their place in the queue is such-and-such, now bugger the hell off.

    “Probably not much. Just kept the place operational. You are replacing two people and just physically moving around the plant is going to stretch you thin. And when two problems surface you will piss off the second person you resolve the problem.”

    About all they could do and had the time to do was keep the place operational; I told the Powers that today; if you’re doing Winblows help desk chit for a company that size, you have no time for anything else. If they want all these other things going on, too, they’ll have to spring for more staff. Yes, physically moving around the plant and up and down the stairs and over to the other buildings, etc., plus the two hours of driving, and my 61-year-old back and joints feel it. I can swing a hammer and carry a load and go pretty good for about three or four hours now and then I’m done for a while. Decades of soldier, factory and cop work, with countless miles hiked, slogged and walked; hearing partially shot, too, thanks to rock concerts and years of gunfire and explosions.

    “Add in wanting to do SQL stuff, move the web in house, that is a significant challenge and workload. You need to argue for at least one other person skilled in SQL, WEB and support. Two people would be even better. Unless you argue for help the place will rip your nuts out through your nostrils.”

    Argued for help and they evidently had already planned for it, somewhat; Ima gon push them on that until they do it. And if two of us are still treading wottuh, I’ll argue for a third, which may be a little harder ’cause they still use at least two outside “consultants” they pay $200/hour to tweak programs. They’d certainly like to bring that in-house, I reckon. Meanwhile I’m taking two online courses from now until the new year on HTML, CSS3, PHP and MySQL and between that and doing it at work a bit every day should get up to some primitive competency enough to keep the gun serial numbers in the right order for the ATF. Which is the main driving factor right now; they had two years’ worth go up in smoke somewhere, since recovered, but the ATF doesn’t like that kinda chit. By they way, they evidently sell many thousands of AK’s to the big firearms importers just down the road from us here, Century Arms.

    The boyz in the shop told me to swing by anytime, which I intend to do ASAP.

    Went in late today after my VA appointment and stayed until around 7 PM, a good time to be there, no frigging interruptions. So right there you know 90% of the Windows help desk chit is generated by the office peeps.

  41. Ray Thompson says:

    Otherwise, Texas will pay you unemployment

    Interesting. In TN such is not the case. We recently terminated a person that really needed termination. She cannot get unemployment benefits because she was terminated, not laid off or her position eliminated.

  42. SteveF says:

    Meanwhile I’m just gonna pace myself and in a nice way tell lusers to bugger off, I’ll get to them; their place in the queue is such-and-such, now bugger the hell off.

    It’ll help a lot if you have a ticket tracking system, preferably one which lets users enter their own problem tickets. If there isn’t anything in place, there are a couple of good-enough free/OSS systems which should be easy to set up on a Linux box which has Apache and MySql. Drop me a line if you’d like me to trawl through my cheese-like memory to remember which I’ve used before.

    Anyway, it helps a lot not only in reducing your workload in terms of making a list of what needs to be done, but in showing users that there’s a queue — a prioritized queue — and they’re thirty slots down. It doesn’t stop the pestering, but it reduces what comes to you.

  43. OFD says:

    I didn’t bring it up at today’s meeting, but yeah, we’ll be setting up some sort of ticket/queue system soon as we can, plus something to keep track of change management; there’s plenty of all that stuff in place already for the manufacturing workers, including email summaries and alerts sent to our iPhones; oh yeah, did I mention that? We get company iPhones, in my case soon, a 5S, just waiting on the sim. I should be getting a new laptop, also; I’ll specify 8GB of RAM at least, and then double it myself as an exercise in taking it apart and installing it, maybe a SSD as well. It’s an important effin’ laptop, my laptop, as it’s used with two monitors to keep track of all the servers plus my apps. I’ll have Winblows 8.1 Pro on it, Bitlocker, Orifice 365, Foxit Pro instead of Adobe, Classic Start button, VLC for late movies and shows when I’m stuck there during blizzards (motel a block away, plus Dunkins, and a restaurant), and I’ll hook up a sound system.

    The GM also told me today that they’re gonna migrate off the Apple/Filemaker Pro stuff they’ve been using for eCommerce and get something more up to date; one less platform to worry about and we can also dump the consultant we’ve been relying on to troubleshoot and maintain the bugger at $200/hour, when he deigns to return calls and emails. The GM named an app that does all the good eCommerce things plus hooks to Outlook but I forgot it as soon as she mentioned it, too busy looking down her cleavage,which she likes to display, along with the legs. WTF am I supposed to look at while obviously not looking at her cleavage???

    By all means, if you, Mr. SteveF, or anyone else here, thinks of a nice ticket-tracking system or a change-management deal likewise, doesn’t have to be open-sauce, but cheaper and free are better, drop me a line or post it here.

    They put out their little e-newsletter yesterday and just prior to that the receptionist had taken my picture to introduce me to the buggers as their new IT guru, who “knows a lot about IT, so drop by his office and introduce yourself and…” run all your goddamned nit-noy buggering issues and problems by him every effin chance you get…. The little built-like-a-brick-chit-house chick is about five feet tall and since I’m a tad over six feet she got a nice shot of my gut which looks like I swallowed a basketball. The wife had a good laugh over that when I sent it to her and told me my gut isn’t nearly that bad; I should know better by now and should have sat down for it.

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