Month: March 2018

Wed. Mar. 21, 2018 – site issues, please be patient

Good morning all, mid-50s here and damp. See your breath weather….

There have been some site issues with hosting, in the immortal words of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, DON’T PANIC.

Rick is working to fix what broke, and things should be back to normal soon.

In other news, it appears that Austin has one less bomber today. Hooray. There will be some interesting things to learn from this attack, wrt the surveillance state, insurgents, etc. If you are on the other side of that, there are lessons about vulnerability, and resilience to learn too. Got a trauma kit and fire extinguisher in your mail room?


Tues. Mar. 20, 2018 – more of the same

Good news from RickH regarding the continuation of posted yesterday. Read thru his announcement, and take a look at the site to provide feedback please.

About 60F and a bit drier here in Houston. NOAA says two days of clear weather. We’ll see, but it sure would be nice to have a long comfortable spring this year. I’ve still got plenty to do in the yard and garden.

Another package bomb, this time in a FedEx facility outside San Antonio. Probably headed for Austin. This would be the third different type of bomb. I understand that to be very unusual as most bombers find something that works and stick with it. Maybe it’s a copycat, maybe it’s someone testing out different designs, maybe it’s a personal grudge. If this bomber continues, I’m sure we’ll find out who it is. If not, it will be an interesting look at insurgency, tradecraft, etc. Imagine that the victims are prosecutors, judges, politicians, police, prominent bloggers, activists, etc. There are people that WANT this, can’t hardly wait for it, and will be working their way down a list. I really don’t want to get to that point, so keep talking to the other side please.

That’s it for now,


The Home Scientist Continues!

“RickH” here. I’ve been working with the new owner of The Home Scientist (Ben Siciliano) to rebuild the web site and move it to a new hosting place.

If you have followed along with Barbara’s blog, you might have noticed that Barbara and Ben have come to an agreement for Ben to take over The Home Scientist business. I’ve been working with Ben to get the site rebuilt with new design and some content changes. Most of the changes have been in the ‘back-end’, using PHP functions for commonly-used items to allow those items to be more easily changed.

There will also be a new customer support forum (not quite ready yet) for customers.

The site is available to you, gentle readers (and lurkers), for a ‘beta read’. If you could take a look at the pages to make sure the content looks consistent, and try out the “Buy Now” buttons (make sure you cancel the order on the PayPal checkout page), that would be helpful. You can use the Contact page on the site for any issues or comments.

The new site is currently at . I’d appreciate if you spending a few moments to poke around the site.

Here’s the announcement that will appear on the site (once per day).

I would like to formally announce that The Home Scientist is under new ownership!

Since 2011, the Thompsons have produced a line of high quality, high value science kits in chemistry, biology, and forensic science. To honor their tradition of service, we will continue to offer these kits, which as you’re probably aware, had been created to provide a meaningful laboratory experience for students and enthusiasts – something increasingly difficult to come by these days.

Over the next several weeks, we will be re-stocking the complete line of kits and making it easier for you to obtain technical support for the experiments covered. We’ll also be starting a new customer support forum area.

We’ll be making some changes to the look of this site as we move to our new hosting platform, but our products will still have the same high quality. We thank you in advance for your patience, and welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions for improvement. Please use the Contact Us page for questions or comments.

I’m looking forward to being of service.


Ben Siciliano, the new owner of TheHomeScientist LLC

Ben is restocking all the kits, and hopes to have them all ready by the end of the month.

Thanks for your help on being a ‘beta reader’. And thanks to Ben for agreeing to continue The Home Scientist as Robert and Barbara intend.



Mon. Mar. 19, 2018 – Back from vacation, tired.

I feel like this is the first day back from vacation since it’s the first school day. REALLY should have worked on acclimating the kids to the time change….

71F with misty drizzle in the Bayou City. Glad I got at least a little done outside yesterday.

Shopping and IT work is what’s on the schedule here today.

I let all the fresh staples run down before our trip, and didn’t want to shop over the weekend. So I’m feeling like the house is empty and the family will starve 🙂

In somewhat local news, MORE people have been injured by package bombs in Austin TX. That makes more in the last week than in the whole country in the last year, if I’m not mistaken. WTF?

Isn’t a mail bomb an anarchist staple? There has got to be more to the story than we’re hearing. I’ll also make a side bet that there will be copycat bombings too.

And with that pleasant thought….


Sun. Mar. 18, 2018 – The best morning comes at the END of a good long day

Well, this wasn’t a best kind of morning, and in fact I haven’t had one of those in years. But sleeping in when you got up early and worked hard the previous day, especially when you have two little ones, and your wife has plans for you is precious.

75F and 90%RH, sunny and generally nice this AM here in Houston.

I’m stiff as a board from standing on concrete for 12 hours and humping those tubs around.

We’re supposed to go to the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show today (last day) but the plan was to go early and leave early for other commitments. Don’t know yet how that’s gonna play out.

I’ve not been paying much attention to the international news, and I suddenly find that our allies the TURKS are attacking our allies the KURDS; that Russia is withdrawing ambassadors and staff and kicking out foreign diplomats; and that Russia assassinated a former spy in broad daylight in a foreign capital……. anyone else getting a bit nervous about the nearness of a major conflict???


Fri. Mar. 16, 2018 – what did you do to prep for LIFE?

71F, 94%RH and yep, back in Houston…

Still, it looks like a nice day outside.– EDIT — started raining 🙁

This week, instead of what you did to prep specifically, what made you what you are today? What changed you path or set you on the right path? Whether guidance, a person who helped, habits, tips and tricks, or ‘words to live by’, what do you tell a promising kid who needs just a bit of guidance?

For me it was a couple of things, and some minor things helped.

I was deep in credit card and student loan debt. I’d just realized that I’d made it thru my youth and probably WASN’T gonna die young. Suddenly I decided I’d better get myself and life in order for the long haul.


I had a steady job I was good at that paid pretty well, but lots of debt. My roommate (R.N.-a great guy) told me that if I wanted to succeed, I needed to save 10% of every dollar I made. Just deposit my check, and make a 10% transfer every time. Kick start the savings by trying to get thru one pay period without cashing my check, then deposit that in savings. That way, you see yourself making progress.

The rest was simple but hard. Get rid of credit card debt. I did this legally, but the laws have changed to make it harder. If you do the math and see where you will be in ten years if you continue on, or if you take drastic action, you’ll be convinced to just do it.

Get rid of consumer and school debt. You are ruining your credit anyway (it’s probably already ruined by all your credit cards) so do it all. If you don’t pay your student loans they will eventually settle for whatever they can get. Save your cash, make them an offer. Pay them off one at a time IN FULL and at reduced totals.

Get right with the IRS. They will work with you, but you’ve gotta do it and stick to it.

The KEY to this was saving cash. Without that initial 10% saved, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the rest.

That was the point my life turned around. I went from living in the moment, and changed my focus to longer term. I started saving money so I had options and flexibility.

A while later, in a different city, and a different life (made possible by having money in the bank) a good friend told me to make a 10 year plan. What did I want in ten years? How could I get it? Making the list (home of my own, debt free, money in the bank, start a family) lets you decide if you are making progress or not. It lets you judge choices. It took me FIFTEEN years, but I got there.

Finally, two minor things have helped more recently.

Break your addiction to the “Snooze” button. If you are hitting it more than once, you aren’t getting any more good sleep, and you aren’t getting up. Set it for your final awake time. GET UP and just get started on the day. Set a backup if you don’t trust the alarm or yourself. In a while, you will both start to wake up, and trust the alarm. This has made a big difference in my mornings.

The second is something I read, that was very hard to internalize but helped me a lot in my work and relationships with people in general. Indra Noori (CEO of Pepsico) said the best advice she ever got was to “assume positive intent”. In other words, assume people aren’t trying to screw you no matter what it looks like initially. Most people are not villains. Most are doing the best they can with what they have and what they know. It may screw you anyway, but that’s not usually their goal, they just want to get thru the day and go home. Changing your default assumption will change the ‘color’ of every interaction and opens up a wider range of solutions to any problems that come up. Seriously, this helped a lot.

So, what or who helped you prep for life?


Thur. Mar. 15, 2018 – another day another airplane…

Cool and clear here in Santa Fe. Yesterday it got warm enough to take off the jacket…

Plan for the day is sightseeing, food, drive, fly, and home.

Tomorrow get back in the swing at home and pack for the Hamfest. I need good weather to sell off all the cr@p I’ve been accumulating for the fest. I hope I can find it all and fit it in the truck.

Food here has been great. Super savory, spicy, and delicious. I’m not a big fan of green chilies but ‘when in rome’ … And they’re famouse for it.

Better get packing…


Tues. Mar. 13, 2018 – friday the thirteenth comes on a tuesday this month

Clear windy sunny and COLD.

Delicious carnitas last night, maybe the best I’ve ever had. Today more sightseeing and I’ve been threatened with a hike.

Some of the more ‘active’ prepper/3per/militia sites are hammering away at people for physical conditioning. I’d say that you probably don’t need to be able to ruck march a dozen miles, but if you’ve let your condition slide, everything is better when you don’t hurt so damn much. Yoga, Tai Chi, pool workout, chair workout, or just simple walking. The new year is almost a quarter gone. Do some stretching! Get up and move.


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