Oxygen saturation

Funny thing today...

Yesterday some students were doing photosynthesis experiments after school. Two of these experiments were to measure dissolved oxygen concentration (that is produced by photosynthetic activity, dah) under different light conditions (using filters) using a dissolved oxygen probe we have.

It couldnt have gone worst.

Nobody, yours truly included, had ever or knew how to operate the probe. And that is one bitch of a probe. Secondly, there was the issue of the sensor, which is supposed to be filled with KCl solution, was dry. The first 2 trials were irrelevant because i failed to notice the sensor was dry. Once I figured that out, i made some .1M KCl filler and filled it up. Alas the probe was giving out a reading. Then calibration was a problem because our sodium sulfite was somehow bad (sodium sulfite solutions won't let oxygen in, so they're 0% O2 in solution). So i made new solution. The probe calibrated alright and everything was good to go.

I set it all up in the biology lab. I placed the elodea plants in the distilled water, got a reading of 4.1mg/mL and started the test. 5 minutes into the test the laptop that was gathering the data runs out of battery and thus dies. After clearing up a bit I moved the experiment to my office. I set it all up again, warmed up the probe, calibrated and started the experiment with a reading of 4.5mg/mL. This was ok because i had expected that in the half hour it took to move the experiment (i also went for coffee hehe), more O2 would be dissolved, so no problem.

Here's the thing, concentration went up to 4.7mg/mL in the first 10 minutes of the experiment and stayed there... for the next 4 hours.

All i could say is... what the fuck.

After much thought, i realize that OF COURSE I'M AN IDIOT. Given the altitude of the city (~900-1000m above seal level), barometric pressure and temperature will have a significant effect on oxygen saturation. In this case, using a table i calculated saturation at around 5.1mg/mL. But given the change in biochemistry the water undergoes because the plant is in there, i think it's pretty safe to assume it'll be around 4.7 to 5. And 4.7 it was.

So I boiled 1L of dH2O for an hour and got it to drop the O2 concentration; it read 2.01mg/mL, which is not bad considering the substantial increase it'll have if saturation occurs at 4.7mg/mL.

I let the water cool downa and started the whole show again.

Funny how science works sometimes. The starting concentration of 2mg/mL is right now 1.4mg/mL, and the experiment's been running half an hour.

We'll see how this one works out.


to prepare for war

This is the first post in a long time. Why? Because stupid blogger (or maybe my internet connection) decided not to work after I created a magnificent post equivalent to 9 pages in word with a 12 point font. When I proceeded to reopen blogger and paste it again, my computer decided to crash. So I’ve been on strike for a while and haven't written any posts. But today I’ve felt the need to vent a bit. I have a lot of anger piled up and even more frustration and I figure this is a god way to let it out. Not that anybody reads this crap anyway.

So, classes began almost a month ago. The beginning was smooth, kids came in, teachers did their job and everything went well. Biology woman had a bit of a strong start as did physics guy, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Chem guy has been surprisingly nice to me thus far, I wonder why.

So far we’ve done experiments on spectrum analysis of the elements, experimental observation, water properties, density, genetics and dna extraction and electrophoresis, circular motion, motion, light properties, gravity, buffer properties, common reactions, chemical titrations, bernoulli’s law, food testing, empirical formulas, indicators and blah blah blah.

Actually, the last week of august was when most of those experiments took place, I officially named it the WEEK FROM HELL. Proudly sponsored by Dante’s treason shop and Lucifer Holdings Inc.

Things I haven’t done before: phenolphthalein and sudan III. I realized that phenolphthalein doesn’t dissolve all that well in ethanol (as the instructions made up by a previous lab tech indicated). Thinking back I realized that I read that methylated spirits would do it, so I used methanol, and voila, it worked. Sudan’s just a bitch to make because you must heat everything up and then let cool down and then filter and ah, takes too freakin long.

In any case, workwise everything’s good. And I say this even though some girls tipped over the tv cart and the tv went slam into the ground earlier today, generating a moment of much stress. Luckily the tv was sturdy (meaning old) and it didn’t break.

Now my personal life’s a mess. The last 2 weeks were all about the move. My parents sold the house to my uncle and bought the apartment right next to my grandmother’s, who is 87 and will soon be in need for permanent care and by living next door, she doesn’t have to hire a nurse. Last Wednesday we started moving and finished by Friday.

The apartment is nice but in bad shape, it’s been empty for about 4 years. The previous owner had bought it for his daughter as a wedding present but she moved out of the country and never got to live in it. The man’s relatively wealthy and kept the place just in case but never did anything with it, but 4 years can accumulate a lot of crap and damage some stuff. So the seals on the plumbing are all rotten and everything leaks in there. The people who last lived there did all these really expensive yet extremely retarded changes (like having the washer/dryer in the fucking kitchen, while there is a laundry space behind the kitchen), and nothing works. We need to overhaul the kitchen because the oven/stove doesn’t work and it’s gas operated. I have no problem with gas burners, but the oven… nah, no thanks, too much a hassle. And it's too damn uncomfortable, terrible use of space.

My bathroom is just plain awful, red toiled and a tiny little shower. My room is bigger than my room in the house, I also have more closet space to actually keep my shit organized. I have a big beam in the middle of the ceiling that I plant to hang my punching bag from and enough space for a big comfy chair. The living room is not bad either, pretty spacious if you ask me. The dining room is about the same size we had in the house. My parent’s room is absurdly small but cozy. As I mentioned, my bathroom is crap, and so is every bathroom in the apartment (3 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms), they all need to be overhauled, especially that of my parents. The view is not bad, we have the whole city at our feet, and not slums in sight, they’re all behind a hill or another. Only nice things in sight. I’m not malcontent with the place.

It sucks that I had to leave my dog behind, which is one thing that bugged the shit out of me during the move. My baby, my sophie, she’s like my only child and I had to leave her in the perhaps incapable hands of my uncle’s relatives. His immediate circle is not bad and he himself is not a bad person, but his mother in law, who lives with them, has got to be the rudest person alive. She started bossing me around in a very insulting way the day we were moving out and they were moving in, like I was an employee of hers or something, and like i didn't have anything else to do. He also must house his sister in law, who is a complete bitch and a useless parasite. She can’t do anything, she barely has any schooling, but she does have a superiority complex and thinks herself the greatest thing on the planet. I am officially at war with those two women so long as they don’t apologize for their rude and outrageous behaviour towards me. I’ve treated them with nothing but respect and have always been courteous and cooperative with them, and do not believe that I have ever done anything to deserve such treatment.

See children why education and politeness is so important.

I’ve also formally proposed marriage to my girlfriend. She said yes. But then the question comes in on how we’re doing this. I’m afraid this won’t work and that I might call the whole thing off. Honestly, it’s probably for the best as I cannot provide for her a decent life as we are and I absolutely want to get the fuck out of this insane country and she’s attached by the hip to her family, it's quite sick how they control her and how she lets them. Her family will fight to the very end to prevent her leaving the country, or even the city.

I want to go back north, maybe move out to Edmonton or something; she says she’ll join me, but somehow I find it hard to trust this promise as all her actions are geared to anchoring us to this madhouse. You don’t think about buying an apartment or furniture if you want to get the hell out of here as soon as you get married right? I’m in such deep shit.

But then there’s the issue of love and heartbreak. We love each other and I would hate to break her heart, but rational thinking calls for an end. But love is greater than rational thinking so I’m going to let my chemical dependence guide my path; you never know what it might end up looking like.

Then there’s the issue of money, we don’t earn enough money together to pay for a decent rented apartment. Well, we do, for just rent; but then there’s living costs and car costs and services to pay for. There’s simply not enough money.

Another problem is that I’m absolutely sure I can make it on my own in Canada, Germany, or wherever I am. I am not sure if I can make it with her, though. Mainly because I’ve lived there and know exactly what it takes to succeed, what sacrifices must be made, and I don’t think she has what it takes and definitely will not be up for the sacrifices and the challenges. But the whole point of doing this is so our future children have a better chance of having a nice, decent life. Since we’re both the offspring of immigrants, people who came to this hellhole in search of better opportunities (40 years ago this wasn’t a bad place at all, it looked like it had a future, but like all things are left to chance, and it went to hell). What kind of future can a person offer their children in a country that is going the way Cuba went 40 years ago?

Cuba is another one of the earth’s armpits, where poverty is the rule and there’s no freedom to do anything. People don’t often see this though, because all people that go to Cuba go as tourists and only see what they’re meant to see, they don’t get to see the reality. Don’t believe all you read about Cuba, it is not a nice place to live and people don’t have it easy there.

Well, then there’s science that worries me. Baby steps. Understanding and interest in science is decreasing, religious groups blocking the teaching of the sciences and political agendas pushing science backwards is screwing the planet over. We’re winning fewer battles every day, the age of enlightenment is ending because we’re too stupid to learn and accept the truth.

We’re digging our own grave here. But then again, if we keep on this trend, I might not have to worry about giving my kids a chance because we’ll all be dead due to draught, food shortages, disease and war. Mostly war for resources, especially water. But thinking of it, the timeline suggests it’s my offspring that will suffer the effects or our lack of resolve and action to fix this dump we call earth. If it all goes down like I think it will, the US will invade Canada and take over Canada just to take over the control of its water resources… and oil while they’re at it, in about 30 to 50 years.

Then again, once the humanity ceases to exist, bacteria and some species of insects will prevail. Perhaps even some kind of mammal and fish and bird. Hopefully some small populations of human beings will survive the crisis and they will have learned the lessons taught by selfishness and greed, and do it better next time around.

As I wrote this, an experiment on conservation of mass and one on metal displacement came in. Shouldn’t be too hard to make. Conservation of mass needs flasks, tubes, stoppers and corks plus 1M solutions of sodium carbonate, calcium chloride and sulfuric acid. You react Na2CO3 and H2SO4 and so on. You react Na2CO3 and CaCl2 and so on. All in sealed containers. The whole point is to prove that mass is kept throughout the reaction, and that matter cannot be destroyed. The other I just need to make some nitrates and metal shavings... piece of cake.

Cheers and peace to all.


Bosses are back

As i've mentioned in previous posts, i have many many bosses. The main boss, the superintendent, is the boss of all kind here. Since i'm school staff (as opposed to faculty), the head of staff is my boss, and all managers of staff sections are my bosses (IT, Maintainance etc). Since i'm working in the highschool, the principal of the highschool is my boss. Since I'm sicence, all science teachers are bosses, including those of middle school, since i serve all of them. And then there's the highschool assistants, the deans, and anybody that has any kind of seniority at the school.

Thing is, a lot of them don't know they're my bosses, and the rest doesn't care. I'm only mildly supervised by the high school principal, and somewhat supervised by the chair of science. As such, i'm an almost fully independent, self-supervised unit.

So, 2 of my bosses are back, the superintendant and the highschool principal. And they can't complain at all. I accomplished all that had to be done over the summer and over the last week I set aside a lot of time to have all labs fully operational by friday. That leaves me the rest of the week to distill water and clean out the fishtank in the bio lab.

I went ring shopping with my girlfriend over the weekend. I'm supposed to take care of the engagement ring, so i'll ask for a loan from work to get it. My wages will be garnished for a while, but at least i won't be paying interest. I'm looking at about $1000 for a white gold solitaire with a ~.25 carat diamond (no such thing as white gold, that's just a name for yellow gold with rhodium plating. I haven't been able to find any with palladium or platinum plating, but those would still be out of my price range anyway). Another think we looked at was wedding bands. Some very original, some very nice looking, ALL extremely expensive. $1500 for the ones the gf wants. She says that at least those we pay for together. Which leads me to the question, and I know this sounds like male chauvinism, but if i'm making a compromise by providing a ring that costs so much money, what is in it for me? Women should just as easily have to provide something in return, and I ain't getting nothing in return. I belive that women should have equal rights and privleges as men, i'm pro-feminism, pro-choice and support gender equality and gay rights and all that crap. And I also think we should tear down the social rules that tradition brings upon us, especially those brought upon us by the clergy.

Say no to rings!

Our society is retarded.


Back to school dangerously near.

My little at work vacation is almost over. 2 months went by sluggishly and extremely uneventfully. Pooradise's crisis is getting worse by the minute and soon enough Somalia will have nothing on us. The great big freak of a president we have will yet again cheat his way into "winning" december's elections and then we'll be screwed. My mother, a journalist and political analyst, predicts that the government will call for riots protesting something (they don't need much of an excuse to do it, they'll go ape shit over nothing), and while the violence lasts, key opposition and non-conformist military people will be assasinated (and blamed on crime of course). And that's along with anybody else caught in the cross fire.

All this unrest makes me nervous.

This puts me into an awkward position to make some kind of quick plan to get the hell out of here. Canada is no longer an immediate option since the immigration process to get there are lengthy and are not guaranteed. I am left with little choice but to escape to europe, bless that german passport i have, which by the way i should renew, as it expires in 2007.

Once there i'll figure something out, we'll see.

The big issue here is what will happen with my girlfriend. She does not have german citizenship as i do, and thus cannot escape as easily as i can.

I'll let this play out, but i'm not dying for any government, political movement or love. She's coming, period. I don't care about the consequences.

In other news, things up here in the 4th floor have been quiet. I've finished sorting and rearranging the labs for the new school year, which starts on august 15th, some 20 days from now. The teachers should be back from their summer breaks on the 8th, so that they'll have enough time to prepare classes and all that. Meanwhile i'm sorting out all the stuff i'd like to throw out and donate. I found some insect boxes in the back cabinets of the biology lab. The good ones at that, glass covered and a special pocket for the naphtaline pouch. I might just start collecting once again, i'll set up some malaise traps in the back of the school, see what i can get.

I'm also moving. My parents sold the house, which is too big for us 3 only and have used the money to buy a smaller, cozier apartment in the same building my 86 year old grandmother lives. Pool, jacuzzi, sauna, gym, tennis and squash courts. Me likey them odds. There's one thing that sucks: i'll have to leave sophie, my dog, behind. At least not with strangers, my uncle bought the house, so i know she'll be fine and if any inconveniences arise, they'll call me. She's a good dog, well educated, good natured and very smart. She'll be fine i'm sure. Yet, however grim it may sound, i am comforted by the fact that she'll live no more than 2 or 3 more years. She's 7 yeard old now, and german shepherds don't live much more than 9 or 10 years. She's also had kidney issues in the past, which probably have decreased her life expectancy by a year. She's lived a happy life and she's always been cared for in a most loving fashion by all of us, i am sad yet not thoroughly unhappy about it, she'll be fine.



I had not realized until this morning how much crap I store in my lab. I found pH meters that were at least 20 years old, and a few microscopes with spidernests in them. And i mean, IN them, as in, inside the objective holder. Not being afraid of spiders, i found it quite neat how they managed to make a home out of a metal casing.

I did an inventory a few months back, of all the main equipment that the department has. It's a small department and it's all on the same floor, scattered in 4 labs, piece of cake. It took me about a month to complete as I was doing it little by little. Since there were separate lists of every type of equiment, i didn't notice how much equipment there actually is.

And then the worst came.

This week the IT department came into action and set up an MS Access databse for all of the school's equipment. They did their part and put in all the IT goods into the inventory. Everybody else is supposed to eventually put in all their equipment as well. So now i'm faced with the challenge... no wait, cross that, the time consuming pond scum task... of putting all the lists i made into this school inventory. This has never been done before, so it's a bit of a pain to do. It just too time consuming.

So I started on monday and I'm almost done. I'm saving the best for last though. I have between 120 and 150 vernier labpro probes to put in there.

Now, the time consuming nature of the task is that I have to create a code for each item, and each item needs to be labeled. Most items have a serial number created by the manufacturer, and i have to create a serial for the rest. As I assign codes to the items, i have to look for them by serial number, and then label them with avery labels according to their code and serial number. It has to match, otherwise the whole thing is a waste of time, and given the amount of time it consumes, it's a big fucking waste of time.

Other than that, the database is far from perfect. It's a bitch to enter data and everything has to be pre-sorted and predetermined.

There's one thing that really burns my balls, though. There's an input screen with 6 fields to fill out.

1- code
2- model
3- serial #
4- date of purchase
5- date entered
6- replacement year

I have little problem with the first 2. The code I create myself and the model is a pull down list, but i make that list on my own as every new type of equiment comes up, so that's no problem.

The first thing that burns me is the purchase date. I don't know when most of these things were purchased, so i don't know what to fill out in 90% of the cases. So i leave it blank, ok, no problem. Still, it'd be nice of them if they had given me access to the purchase records so i can find the invoices for the stuff in the lab. Then again, maybe not because that means craploads of files and i hate filing, so i've decided right now that this particular thing no longer burns my balls.

Second thing that really burns my balls... date entered. In this field i have to set the date of the day i'm putting it in. As in, today i've typed the combination 29062006 about 400 times. Yesterday about 300, tuesday 200 and monday 50. (Yes, i'm cataloguing even beakers and test tubes, what do you want me to do, it's equipment, they'll have my ass on a platter if i don't). What bugs me is that these computer geniouses have the brain power to tame Access and make a functional database (trust me, it's hard), but they didn't have the intelligence to just have the date entered field automatically fill itself with today's date. Flocking hell.

And here's the kicker.

Once i create a new record, i click this save and create new button on the bottom left of the input form, which saves and brings up a new input page for the next item. The previous record is saved and it cannot be modified, so if i make a mistake like duplicate codes or screw up the serial number, i can't fix it. The icing on that cake is that, if i even press space on the new upcoming form and i for some reason feel like going back to check on the code or model or serial or date etc, i can't go back forward to the new form to keep entering. Apparently, whether you go back or forward, if you did as much as press space, that record is saved. So there's a ton of blank records on the database. But this is really bad because at that moment, i can no longer go back or forth, this stupid message telling me essentially that the record has been created and cannot be modified comes up if i click anything other than the little quit X on the top right. Fun eh?

So that stupid little glitch not only forces me to close and reopen the database, it saves a bunch of blank entries and incomplete entries and really irritates me because i have to constantly recheck what was created and assigned and what wasn't, because often the glitch comes with a hefty serving of data loss.

Imagine my frustration.

And i'm a nervous guy with stress issues, i yell at machines. My voice is a bit faded now, after a solid day of data entry.

There's no world cup today. And there wasnt any yesterday. I'm bored out of my mind, but i guess this is a taste of what it will be like to not have 5 hours a day wasted away on the tv.

The next game will be germany vs argentina on friday morning (pooradise's timezone), a game i don't expect germany to win, but who knows eh? It'll be the final of italy 90 all over. In any case, i'll be watching it at work, while doing some more data entry.

Drink 1.5L of water every day, it'll keep your juices flowing.


nasty bits of humanity!

So the summer has been long and boring so far. I haven't felt like writing lately because there's nothing really good to talk about.

But come to think of it, i've done quite a few things!

In the last 2 weeks i've set up physics guy's classroom. I organized his books and cupboards. Turns out that he had a lot of unused space and a ton of stuff lying around, so i sorted the stuff lying around into the unused space and voila! a clean lab. I've also made it so that the chemistry glassware is nice and visible (having a big glass cupboard full of glassware makes a lab attractive, if i may say so), and the ugly physics crap is stored below eye level. Looks high tech now, i'm so proud.

I've also made an inventory of all sample microscope slides, around 400 of them, individually looked at to ensure quality of the sample, catalogued and sorted into the slide drawers. Not fun, i can tell you that.

I've also taken a look at the physics equipment that is no longer used, or not used very often, which is stored in locked closets out in the halls. There's tons of stuff we can throw out of there.

As for the biology lab, i'm not sure i can work there yet, since everything is covered with painter's plastic sheets and sealed up and locked and piled up in the centre and ah... actually i don't feel like going there to do anything. Chem guy's room is almost done with maintainance and i'll go in there later this week and hang up the saftey goggles holder on a wall. I'll also embark on a project to build bunden burner holders for the labs. It'll be a pain in the ass to find a way to build it, especially to meet the demanding tastes of mr chemistry. I'll figure something out, probably a board with holes big enough for the burner tips to fit through, hung on the wall with metal L supports...

And then there's the world cup.

Aside from DEUTSCHLAND! being the best team *ehem*'(i'm so biased), the world cup has been good so far. Miroslav Klose, although Polish born, chose to play for Germany and he's done outstandingly well. Matter of fact, the 2 players that have done most of the scoring are polish, Klose and Podolski. Bless their nads. Otherwise, Germany also counts with Bastian Schweinsteiger, a brilliant midfilder and free kick specialist; Oliver Neuville, one of the elders and an excellent forward; and how can we forget Bernd Schneider, another one of the elders, whose ability to set up chances is unkanny. Now what i don't understand is the hype about Michael Ballack, he's not that great and he hasn't done much for the team (that i've noticed anyway.

I must applaud Jürgen Klinsmann for his choice in team for the cup. He got rid of the usual suspects and got some fresh new blood into the team. I swear if i saw Kahn, Jeremies, Bierhoff or Marco Bode playing again, i would drop my german colours and pick up another one of my bloodlines, be it swedish or french colours. (I figure Osbahr is scandinavian, and I also have Bastian and Bünjer blood, both french). And though he hasn't had any experience coaching until 2 years ago, i think he's done a fantastic job at it.

The best game so far was yesterday, Portugal vs Holland. Such violence... it was awesome seeing the dutch player just shove the shit out that portuguese player when this dude was injured, I swear that portugal player must've flown about 2m in the air from that push. And then when this dude Deco grabbed the ball and the dutch layer grabbed him and laid him flat on the ground. Two of the best portugal players are out due to injuries received during this game and 2 more due to red cards, this means that portugal will have to play shorthanded in the quarter finals... which i like, because they suck... stupid goat farmers. But it goes to show how nasty human beings can get, if one can get violent in a simple game, imagine at war.

The england game against ecuador was also awesome. Rooney is a beast. It was great seeing him just plow his way through the ecuador defense. Then again, ecuador played extremely well and england was lucky that beckham's so good at what he does.

I'm just hoping the final will be Germany against someone else than Brazil, i think everybody is tired of seeing those fuckers win. Then again, an Australia Ghana final might alsot be nice... hehe. I'd so go for Australia.

A particular hobby of mine right now is the yahoo fantasy fifa game. My team, Bendover FC is ranked 2nd of 4 in our little league (until yesterday i was always 1st, but my brother's friend got ahead of me), and something like 1750 out of maybe 10000 teams in the fans of germany league, and overall in the 66000 region from well over 100000 teams worldwide. Not bad eh? It's all in good fun and I think i'll beat my brother's friend at it. We'll see.

For now i'll be watching the Italy vs Australia game, go australia of course.

Cheers to all the football fans around the world.



I just noticed that the last time I wrote was 7 days ago. Holy crap i'm lazy.

Nothing to report about the last 7 days anyway. Tomorrow is the last day of school for the kids and the beggining of summer repairs and maintainance.

So far i've been helping clean out the labs, picking up dirty glassware and plastic reusables. Yesterday i had a nasty encounter with 10 posters biology woman has on her wall, each had about 30 little masking tape circles behing so the poster held up. The glue on the tape decomposed a bit and made a mess on the back of the posters, and my hands got all sticky. I estimate I removed 300 tape stickies from the back of those posters.

I got a few work orders for repairs in the classrooms and for some lab equipment. I am to hang speakers on the side of the smartboards and to clean drawers and shelves of the labs. I'm still dealing with rusting of metal shelves caused by the NaOH incident in general science guy's lab. It'll eventually either eat more through the metal or get neutralized, eitherway i'm not happy with the result.

Remember people, always check your glassware before storing hazardous chemicals for extended periods of time.

Anyway, so far on my list of summer boredom jobs:

- Hang speakers
- Thorough cleaning of lab shelves, fumehoods and drawers
- periodic fishtank cleaning and daily feeding
- reorganizing physics guy's room to physics and chemistry room configuration
- throwing out ALL THE BLOODY GARBAGE FROM ALL THE LABS (seriously, we have too much crap that hasn't been used in years lying around and in storage)

I'll eventually start posting more pictures of the labs, crazy things we have and other stuff that happens here, however i need to install photo editing software and of course, get a digital camera.

World cup.


Tomorrow aside from being the last day of school, it's also the FIFA football world cup, Germany 2006. Fun eh?

My pseudo german upbringing has always made me a faithful fan of germany. I've been subjected to many dissapointments, especially in '98 (when germany got booted in quarter finals after losing 3-1 against fucking CROATIA), and again in 2002 when germany was ever so close and then after a pathetic game that was played like 7-year-olds against brazil in the final, everybody chasing the ball, nobody scoring, Germany lost 2-0. And don't even get me started on the 1994 cup, when they lost to BULGARIA (%$#^%%%@#$!) 2-1 in quarter finals, 4 years after they won the world cup and had the exact same team. Idiots!

This year i have absolutely no expectations for them as I lost interest in football when i moved to canada and started watching ice hockey, which is just a tad more exciting than football. Go senators. Then again, hockey was ruined after the strike, all those RETARDED new rules.

Another funny aspect of my current situation is that because of the end of classes, all the american staff are leaving on vacation. That leaves virtually nobody supervising.

I've asked around, nobody has anything for me to do. Initially i thought i'd be assigned to recover some files and build a filing system with the highschool assistants, but turns out that no, they'll do it on their own. I'll jump in and help still; the worldcup isn't all the interesting and I only care when Germany plays anyway.

Chem guy, my supervisor, read me an email from the highschool principal that read that since i've only been at this particular job for 4 months, i'm not entitled to vacation time, and continued to instruct chem guy to give me TONS of stuff to do over the summer. Right...

Thing is we've coevered almost every base already. There's not that much to do (well, i don't know yet, maybe the few things on my list will take more time than i think, maybe the list will grow over the summer, who knows). So i'll be relaxing and keeping the chemicals in their cupboards. No labcoat for me!

this is going to suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck...


i wanna be sedated

Funny how when we find ourselves super busy we pray for a break and a little of nothing to do, while when we're bored and have nothing to do we become all hyper and look for something to do.

Right now I'm the latter.

What is more disturbing about the matter is that I could be doing a million more productive things, like reading, studying, learning, building something. Instead, I’m sitting here writing in my blog.

So bored that I can't think of anything to write. Maybe I should take a sedative and wake up in a while, perhaps the day will be over by then.



I had a bit of a blue moment last night.

One thing I've never shared in my blog is what happened right after I returned to pooradise from the north.

I had a very good life over there for so many years, but it ended in a slow and cruel fashion. If I think about it, it was a rite of passage for me. Seems that everybody in my family goes through it (moving to another country around the age of 20 and coming back to this nightmare of a country); everybody, all the way from my great-great grandparents and my grandparents (both sides) through parents and my brother and I.

I went there a 19 year old child and came back a fully fledged 24 year old man, in a matter of speaking. I love the place and really loved living there, the freedoms I had in that place I haven't experienced anywhere else. I took it for granted of course, you don't know what you have until you lose it, and it always applies.

Weird thing is that I knew I would lose it eventually and thus gradually prepared myself the event. The last year of my stay there were a bit sour due to my psycho ex, who wasn't my ex back then, but she is now. But otherwise life was awesome.

My last 2 years were awesome in many ways, but above all there was my roommate, Charis. I moved in with her in June 2003. I found her through a posting on the housing message board at school.

I was looking because I was sick and tired of my former roommate, a girl also from pooradise. She was just nasty: chain smoker, heavy drinker, partying all the time, people over all the time, noisy, nosy, lazy, and dirty and she justified all this by telling everybody that she is epileptic, which she really is; all the more reason shouldn’t have held such a lifestyle. I haven't spoken to her since the day I moved out so I say was, as I don't know if her lifestyle has changed at all.

I saw the posting for various apartments that day and called a few. Some were taken, some were too expensive. I picked a Friday to go see a few of the places I thought were ok. First I went to see a nice penthouse in a building in a quiet, secluded area of the city. The place was nice, the price was right and the guys were nice, but transportation would have been an issue due to distance to school and I wasn't too fond of the idea of living with 5 guys who happened to be party animals and hosted parties in the penthouse every Friday night. I thanked the boys and moved on. Then, I saw a room in a house not too far from there but to tell you the truth the place was a royal ghetto hole. I saw a few more places I couldn't afford for the hell of it and I went to charis' place last.

As I entered I found 4 mildly drunk women in their 30's, asked me to come in, they showed me around. The place was nice, tastefully decorated, wood floors, newly refurnished kitchen and a nice big bathroom. The room I was to live in was considerably larger too. I asked how much and the price was $415 per month, about $100 less than where I was living with nasty girl but about $50 more than the penthouse which at the time was the other option I was considering. But then I realized the building had a late night convenience shop right downstairs and a whole bloody mall right across the street with a supermarket, clothing and a couple of restaurants. Another fact that was well worth the extra 50 was that I would only need to take a bus and then the train that left me smack dab in the middle of the university. The party animal place I would have had to take 3 buses to reach school, buses which were very crowded and not very comfortable. The train on the other hand was nice and comfortable and never crowded.

So on May 31st, exactly 3 years ago, I moved into the apartment with charis. She was away in another city for that weekend, but she left some instructions and an order to make myself at home and enjoy. She has two cats: Frankenstein, a black long hair sock and Barbie, a white shorthair sweetie. I met them and quickly became friendly with both.

As I got to know Charis I found that she's one of the most interesting people I've ever met. She's in the army, a Corporal back then, I think she's been promoted since I left. She is much older than I am, almost 20 years older and veteran of 2 failed marriages. She had a strong but kind personality and we shared a passion for good liqueur. She has lived in one of the coldest places on earth, and done tours of duty in the deepest of the Canadian north, well inside the arctic circle. She became my friend quickly and soon after she was my best friend.

In February 2004 she had an offer to move to subsidized military housing, to which she agreed and asked me to move with her to the house which was located in what remained of a former military base near the airport of the city.

And there we lived for 1 year in absolute harmony. But as all good things must end sooner or later, I graduated from university and it just so happened that my student visa would cancel itself 90 days after I graduated. I got my school papers on February 20th 2005 saying that I was officially a biologist. And then time came to pack. That must have been one of the most painful experiences I've ever had to live through, especially because when you pack up you find some many memories of all that makes your life in the place a good life, and also because you must leave a lot behind. My school notes, my papers, my books, MY SKATES, my friends, my life. All behind.

I returned to pooradise with a few of my most prized possessions (a couple of textbooks, pictures, a few gifts, some other books, my computer, my electronic devices and some other stuff) and clothing; that was all.

I came here on March 8th 2005, and went into a deep, chaotic depression. It's unbelievable how I feel sad by even remembering it, I guess I haven't worked through it completely. It was a miserable time for me, 2 months of nothing. I didn't feel like doing anything and there was little reason to do so. I found that after one is gone, no matter how many emails or msn chats you have with people, you lose your friends anyway. I was left with 2 friends who helped me a great deal, one is a girl I grew up with and consider to be my baby sister. The other is my current girlfriend whom I fell in love with gradually and now know she's the one for me.

I returned to the north on May 2nd to finish up some unresolved business and to haul over some more stuff. Came back to pooradise once again in a haze of sadness and self pity, on May 14th 2005. I spent a long time trying to deal with all the feelings of loss and sadness. Not having a job or a social life, only my dad to yell at me 14 hours a day, didn't help either.

But my girlfriend pushed on and finally managed to get me out of the cycle and now I’m relatively happy, compared to back then anyway.

What happened last night is that I saw a movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. I know, total chick flick, but the views of Tuscany are truly amazing and it's a very relaxing movie. I'm not into chick flicks but this one I particularly like because of the views and Diane Lane, whom I might add is smoking hot for a woman her age (38 back then, 41 now). She plays a woman who loses everything and builds a new life in another country. In a way that reminded me of my situation. The movie ended and while in a sleepy state of warm fuzziness, I stupidly went to open my much dreaded box of memories, that damn box that contains all the stuff that reminds me how great my life in the north was. I'm so afraid of that box that I keep it well hidden in my closet and last night was the first time in 7 months that I open that box.

My philosophy is that if you want to keep moving forward, you mustn’t let memories slow you down and look back. In a way that is the reason why I keep it out of sight, to prevent any sudden urges to remember the good times.

Those memories bring such joy and such pain. And the pictures where my ex is featured brought me anger.

The emptiness that those memories generate led me to meditate and reconsider a bit about my life, which kept me reconsidering until 4am.

I concluded that I have gone through a lot, I have a family that supports and loves me, a girlfriend that is crazy about me and I have a decent, well paying, boring job. I can't complain. Other than living in this shit country, my life is awesome.

And I bitch too much about my coworkers. They're all nice really, aside from chemistry guy who's a bit dry and whom I’ve had friction a couple of times, everything is good here. School's almost over so I’ll have them out of my hair for 2.5 months.

Life's great, don't waste it whimpering.


Murder numbers are official!

Driving to work this morning i purchased a newspaper from a street vendor. The head story is about colombia, how Mr Uribe won the first presidential elections round by 60%, while his extreme left wing counterpart only got 22% and some other dude the rest. Then we see a huge picture of driver Fernando Alonso in his har waving after winning the Monaco GP yesterday.

Among other stories, we find a curious little note on the bottom half of the paper, one that states "600 murders accounted for in the city" and a footnote that states that this is just up to april, not may.

The blurb of the article on the front page states:
"The index of murders in the capital increased by 51% compared to 2005. Should this tendency be maintained, which according to experts is caused by the remarkable social hatred present in our society, the current year will close with well over 2170 violent deaths"

The note goes on inside the paper saying that statistically this is by far the worst year ever and that this puts us right up there with the most dangerous, not-at-war countries of the world.

Reassuring isn't it?

Monday started extremely weird. I was asked last minute on friday to act as substitute teacher for biology and chemistry today and tomorrow. Some mixup happened and it wasn't clear who would do first period and who would do second period. In the end nobody showed up for first period, and the kids were left alone in the hallway for 15 minutes.

While this happened, i met general science guy who told me he had a bit of a mishap in his lab. He had kept a beaker full of saturated NaOH, a powerful base, in his cupboard over the weekend. He hadn't noticed that the beaker was cracked at the bottom. Of course, the wonderful caustic slowly leaked out of the beaker over the weekend, eating through the paint and metal of the shelf it was on. The beaker barely stood balancing itself on one of the cracks on the metal. The grand total, 3 shelves with holes in them, a lot of equipment damaged because of the spill, 2 damaged beakers and about 30g of dry, hydrated NaOH everywhere.

I swept and picked up most of the big stuff and then proceeded to vacuum and neutralize the whole thing with 0.5M HCl. The results were pretty good but the holes weren't all that nice. I patched it up by setting a sheet of aluminum over the holes.

At 1200 i have to sub another biology class and have them do some stuff with hormones and review some other stuff.

On the bright side, i can go home at 1630 today as all co-curricular activities have ended, which means no more after school science workshops and no more labs for me to clean up.

June 9th is the date i look forward the most: the start of the fifa world cup and the end of classes.

I shall bring a TV to my lab and then have a hell of a time watching the matches. That IF i don't have anything else to do, we'll see. If i have, i'll record them and watch them at home later.


Finally, an experiment

Physics guy asked me today to prepare a solubility laws experiment for his grade 10 chem class. I'm still waiting on the request sheet to prepare it.

It saddens me that we have such a limited supply of silver nitrate. All I have is pretty much 20mL of 0.01M and a scholar chemistry 1L bottle of 0.1M which i have instructions not to open it unless I absolutely have to so that it doesn't run out. There's 2 things that are very wrong that.

Granted, silver nitrate has a very long shelf life. I've read so far that some techs keep large supplies for over 8 years, as long as the temp is stable, it's kept in a dark bottle and it's stored in a dark cabinet.

What's wrong with saving?

In defense of saving i must say that these chemicals are expensive and a bitch to obtain because suppliers here in pooradise are extremely unreliable, overcharge and don't always have the appropriate stock. And then there's those we buy on the net and bring through currier from the states. Pooradise's customs are very corrupt, a lot of the shipments made to us never get here because the customs officials steal the merchandise and sell it (don't know to whom, but we actually lost a whole box of pre-made agarose for gel electrophoresis, i wonder what they thought it was). Another thing is that these days, with our paranoid, opressive and the-US-is-trying-to-kill-the-president-bullshit government, customs are opening all mail packages coming in and going out "to ensure no confidential information is sent over to the enemy" (like they've never heard of the internet eh?). Bullshit! they're looking for stuff to steal. Yes they get paid very little but that is not our fault and doesn't give them the right to steal my gels.

But anyway, on to the reason why saving is wrong.

First, there's the notion that the kids' parents are paying through the nose to get them to study here. In other words, the department should have enough money available from the school so that the kids can do all experiments properly and learn. By limiting resources you're limiting the children's education, and thus the money the parents pay for the school is unjustified. So for money's sake, we better keep the children happy so the parents are happy. Otherwise the parents will take the kids to one of the other 2 international highschools in town, which aren't as good as this one, but if resources get limited by saving, the quality also goes down which then puts us right there where the other 2 schools are.

And the second notion is, why buy it if you're not going to use it? It's like a guy I know that got a bottle of Glenfiddich single malt special reserve whisky as a gift for his 20th anniversary at the company he worked for (he's an older guy). I must say that's some pretty nice booze. He has not opened it. The reason? He's waiting for an ocassion special enough to merit opening it. He got the bottle in or around 1989, not sure. The problem? Aside that he got the bottle back when Indiana Jones was the coolest and Jordache pants were in style, he's also not a whisky drinker, he doesn't like it and would much rather drink good russian vodka.

Same is happening here with the silver nitrate. We buy it, we wait for experiments that would merit opening it but since we got plenty of cheap lead nitrate, we replace all reactions that would use silver nitrate with lead nitrate.

AH! but there's always a hidden agenda as well.

If you think of who gave the order to save the silver nitrate, you might see some hidden reasons behind it. The chair of the department is also the chemistry teacher. He's been teaching here for about 4 years, a couple of years more than any other teacher in the department and thus was made chairperson, which makes him think he's special, which he isn't because he's getting paid the same as all other teachers but has to work a bit more than everybody else. It's like getting promoted from corporal to sargeant in the army, same shitty pay for a 10-fold increase in responsibilities.

I've noticed he has a tendency to be pushy because he thinks his experiments and his demos are more important than anybody else's. He will give me the request sheet one week in advance and bug me from the get go, asking me to finish his stuff first, without considering i might have other experiments on the waiting list that are due before his. I prioritize depending on procedure, time requirements and especially when the experiment is due.

This leads me to believe that in his selfish and inconsiderate mind he thinks he has priority for the nitrate and that HE will decide which experiment merits the silver nitrate, namely, his experiments. I will see is this is true or not, eventually.

But anyway. In between writing this post, which i started at 8am and finished at 11am, i did the prep for the experiment and i'm a bit dizzy from not having enough cafeine in my system.

Which reminds me i left the magnetic stirrer on.


the hangover

Sunday afternoon and into the night, there was a party. And here i am on monday morning, with that ever familiar feeling that i might have had a bit too much to drink. I'm pretty sure my girlfriend drove me home, however,I am not sure how i entered my house and crawled into bed.

Monday as usual didn't star with much action. I got brownies from biology woman, which was nice of her. Physics guy started to drop off a bunch of old experiments and stuff that needs putting away. Haven't heard from chemistry guy at all today.

Since my parents are on an island, nobody's been cooking at home, which leaves me with no leftovers to bring to work for lunch. Then there's the tiny issue that i spent all of my usable money (not touching the savings, ever) on the car and on the girlfriend, so I have no money to buy lunch.

The solution?


I found 3 apples in the fridge this morning and figured they'd be good for my hangover (electrolytes and vitamins) and that they might do the job of feeding me. I'm lucky biowoman brought the brownies. So i'll be living off yogurt, apples, brownies and to top it all off, coffee. At this time, after 1.5L of water, 2 cups of coffee, 2 apples, 4 brownies and about 14 visits to the washroom to have nice long leaks, I am feeling a bit better.

I have a bunch of stuff to wash but I don't feel like washing it. Logically, the sooner i do it, the sooner it'll stop weighing upon my mind. So i'll half ass it and put it away before lunch, i.e. eating my remaining apple.

Who discovered earth?

Best Answer - Chosen By Voters

The great god Hoo rolled over one morning after a particularily successful night of drinking, and found the Earth propped on his desk. He also found a traffic cone, three giro wrappers and a half-eaten pizza sub.

Hoo does not quite sure where the Earth came from, but vaguely remembers drinking with some bearded guy in robes with a booming voice who wanted to show him something cool.

Then there were a few rounds of upside-down Margaritas, some tequila shots, and maybe some Bottle Caps and not even Hoo knows what happened after that.

So Hoo has been tending the Earth ever since, or at least dusting or watering it every once in while, when he remembers.


I'm back, doused in marianara


I've been miraculously cured by large doses of tylenol and much required rest.

There's nothing to say about yesterday's and today's agenda.

I prepared .5M iron III chloride and .5M potassium thiocyanate for chemistry guy for a concentration reaction experiment. You put 5mL of ferric chloride in a tube, then add drop by drop the thiocynate (love playing with the poisons). Turns a colour. Then add dry ammonium chloride, turns another colour. Neat eh?

Otherwise, i've cleaned up a lot. I've organized microscope slides. I've been bored to death.

In my free time i've taken a lot of time to research into the whole creationism vs evolution debate currently baking in the US.

Here's one thing everybody should know. I don't believe. Not in god, saints, virgins or churches. It's all a big pile of bullshit to me.

Don't get me wrong on what's to come, i respect people's beliefs, people are free to believe whatever they like. However, I truly believe that faith is the surrender of reason, when you surrender reason you start thinking irrationally.

In my eyes, people who believe blindly in god, saints, virgins and churches do so because they don't want to question anything, as in, don't want to learn about, let's say, the origins of life, speciation, evolution, etc. These things, as you can probably assume, are very dear to me because these are concepts that took me years of studying to understand fully.

Why do i choose to believe that life couldn't have been started by a "superior being"? Simply because there's no evidence of this. Now, biology has some attractive theories on how life might have begun and how species evolve that actually have some evidence backing them. As for "intelligent design", random chance has as good a shot at explaining these things happening.

Most religious people that have challenged me to provide evidence and reasoning for this have gotten plowed by my very-well-informed-on-the-topic brain as they can't refute science they can't understand. Of cource, most eventually resort to ask me to provide proof that god doesn't exist. I'm not going to waste time proving something exists or doesn't exist, especially since it can't be proven. But that's aside the point

I do realize however that they can be as wrong about religion as I can be about science. I don't think science has all the answers... yet, but i do believe that research and investigation is way better than assumption.

On to my point.

In the US there has been heated debate in some states about what is appropriate teaching material and what is not. There's also been debate about sex ed, gay rights and contraception.

I was shocked when it was announced in kansas that creationism would be taught as an alternative to evolution. I'm not too familiar with american politics, but I thought that their government was a secular one, as in, without religious influence. This ruling put religious influence right into federally funded school classrooms, and it clearly violates their precious constitution which I believe says that no religion is superior than any other and as such, should be excluded from government decisions.

So here's the worst part. I placed myself in the shoes of a parent that doesn't believe and had kids in this particular kind of school where creationism would be taught. I've always agreed that people should make their own choices and I'll present both sides of the issue to my kids and have them make their own choice. But i'll make sure that is anybody forces their beliefs onto my kids, i'll force a baseball bat into their skulls. So I thought i'd organize everybody that was against this and star my own movement.

And then I ran into the church of the flying spaghetti monster.

The FSM is a very good parody on religion and it raises a really good point on what the "american taliban", as some like to call the religious nuts who pushed for this, is trying to do to the education and personal freedoms in their state (still, what do i care, i have bigger problems right here in pooradise, but let's explore this further).

It seems to me that these religious right wingers feel so
threatened by science that they've decided to become as
fundamentalist about their shit as the taliban and other hard core
religious sects.

This was started with a letter to the kansas school board where Mr Henderson, the author, stated that his newfound belief (that the flying spaghetti monster created everything, controls everything and wants everybody to wear pirate suits) should also be taught in the classroom along with intelligent design and evolution. With this he essentially told the Kansas school board that their infringing into everybody's personal freedom of religion. Why's that? Because they'd be teaching something that is not representative of everyone's belief system in that particular area. Now, evolution may not be part of their belief system either, but i'll sure like to see their kids going into college without the slightest notion of what evolution is.

The whole thing about the FSM is just hilarious, and as long as it angers fundamentalist religious readers who, in order to remain in control, keep their subjects ignorant to alternatives.

In my defence, before anybody gets itchy fingers and starts typing an offensive comment, you can't say I shouldn't speak about religion because i don't know anything about it. I beg to differ, i know plenty about it, more than most religious folks know about science. Not saying that all religious folks are less knowledgeable, by all means, there's plenty of people with better understanding of science and other things than I am that still keep their belief.

I am attacking oppression. I live in a country with an oppressive "love me or prepare for puniment" government. I say teach the children biology in biology and religion in religion classes. Let the kids make their choice to believe or not to believe and you're going to save yourself a generation of rebels without a cause.

Not sure if i made any sense but those are my 2 cents.




I haven't been feeling well since saturday. It burst today at 3am when i woke up and felt the cold sweats and a big headache. I decided to call in sick at work and took the morning to sleep. At 12 i decided i felt good enough to move to work for a little bit. I was received by chemistry guy who said i should not have come and that i should go home. I did not dislike his attitude and he's moved up a little on the chart.

As soon as I get some things straight i will go home.


ignorance is bliss

Friday was rather exciting because I was so exhausted that I had a hard time keeping awake by 16:30, and that was mainly the reason of my angry late posting and threats out to random people.

In my anger I failed to mention that on Friday morning, before getting the chemicals, I went with a mechanic, Mr Calo, to get the Jetta from my girlfriend's building. He's in his 50s with a worn face yet kind face, told me that it wouldn't take long to replace the hose. Of course, since nothing could have gone right on friday, i left the keys of the car at home and couldn't open it to pop the hood. So we drove back to my house and got the keys. About an hour later the car was being driven by Mr Calo to the shop to have the cooling system purged of air and have a problem with the automatic locks fixed.

At 17:45, while on my way home, i got a call from the shop. The car was ready. Excellent. Now to dish out my precious salary, which I had been waiting axiously for 15 days. $180 was the bill. Check signed, drove away.

The weekend went rather uneventful. Saturday I had lunch with my parents and girlfriend and then went on to watch movies. Love Actually and The Village to be precise.

Cute but unfunny, love actually. I don't know what the purpose of the movie was as I didn't learn absolutely anything from it. You guess it, hate chick flicks.

Now the village was a bit better but also extremely uneducational. Raises many questions though, especially that of how myths are created. I absolutely love the ending, when Ivy encounters, fights and subsequently kills the beast whom they do not speak of, namely the retard in one of the suits. Fantastically chilling scenes.

Sunday was mother's day, you can guess how that went.

As another weekend drew slowly to a close, another monday brought upon us.

Monday started uneventfully. I did a little bit of clean up as I had glassware from 3 experiments lying around in dire need of a good wash. Chemistry guy ordered nitric acid and copper filings to make a copper nitrate demo. Then he requested I take the Br2 gas/liquid bulb to his lab. And finally he asked I bring him some table salt from the cafeteria and some ice for the Br2 demo. No idea what the demo is about so I'm not going to write anything about it.

Biology woman requested a set of caps for some nalgene bottles.

Physics guy requested that I speak less loudly as he was hungover from a wedding saturday through sunday.

Other than seeing him having lunch a minute ago, i haven't done anything for general science guy.

I washed the dishes lying around, put away all the vernier equipment lying around, labeled and put away chemicals.

And now I have on my waiting list:

- mono microscope with a jammed stage
- new chemicals to be placed on the inventory
- all the dishes just washed need to be stored
- play some heli attack 3

Oh, and I say ignorance is bliss because what you don't know doesn't hurt you.
Truly phylosophical statement, if you consider that in most cases you hurt because you know. If you don't know, how can it hurt?

Good day.


Decompression sickness

Decompression sickness is what divers suffer when they climb too rapidly from their diving depth. What happens is that the nitrogen dissolved in your blood takes a while to dissolve in the blood. If you're under pressure, the nitrogen will gladly stay dissolved, the more pressure the better. But then, if you go up too fast, the nitrogen will start agglometaring and form bubbles. The first symptoms are dissorientation and a stoned-like attitude. Then muscle cramps, big bad ones. Eventually these bubbles are unleashed and go into your heart, you die of a heart attack.

I say this because as I emerged from traffic and got into another traffic jam, i started feeling like all that stuff above.

It was 9:30am and I had agreed with the purchasing guy from the school to go pick up some chemicals on the other side of the city. It had rained hard, tropical rainforest style. I got into my car and started driving and met the worse traffic jam i have ever seen in my entire life. A driving distance that usually takes about 15 minutes to drive without traffic took me ONE AND HALF HOUR to do. And all the while i was driving a standard transmission 1986 toyota land cruiser. My knees still hurt.

Aside from the fact that it took me 1.5h to get to that end of town, I didn't know exactly where the place was, because that particular area of town is a massive tangle of industrial complexes, streets, service roads and cars everywhere violating every traffic rule in existance. And, people can't drive in the rain, not here, not up north, i don't think anybody in the rain (well, come to think of it, perhaps the irish and the british). People become just stupid at the wheel and although they're trying to be careful, they try to drive so carefully that they become even more reckless because they're not paying enough attention to what's ON the road and all their attention is on the road conditions.

Say! if you drive slowly, wouldn't that allow you to pay attention to both the road and other drivers and pedestrians? jesus.

I found the building where the chemical suppliers are after passing in from of it a couple of times, granted, it was raining. BUT! You'd think that if you want people to know where your business is, you would have a big sign that indicates where your store is, right? But no! their sign was about 15 inches wide by 5 inches tall. Sons of bitches i say.

So i go in, wet of course. I ask for help and a nice older man tells me that the guy in charge of sales is in the washroom and will be back shortly to take my purchase order. So i sat in the waiting area.

45 minutes later the guy comes in with a smile on his face. Nobody said anything about him being an hour in the washroom. The older man pointed to me and told him he had a customer. He went into the employees only area and took his sweet time to get coffee, chat with some coworkers and finally get to his station to see what i wanted, which he asked in a very rude way.

I gave him my purchase order of 31 chemicals for my lab. He went to his computer for about 15 minutes and then came back to tell me that the prices on the list were no longer right, everything had gone up 5%. I said, ok, sure, i'll pay cash for the difference. So I handed him the company check that I had for the amount i was told on the phone by the sales department of the company.

He saw the check and flat out told me "we don't accept company checks unless the person or people that sign for the check are present with the stubs of the last 5 checks that were signes off this account". At least that didn't take him 20 minutes.

So i went back, endured another 1.5h of rain and traffic. After I got out of what looked like the worst part of the rain and traffic, the rain started again everything slowed down again to 2km/h.

I was pissed. The purchasing guy gave me this check and he probably knew that company checks couldn't be confirmed with the bank and sent me anyway. I ask myself right now why i had to go and not him, isn't that what he gets paid for? I'm sure he's busy but gettign the chemicals was not a life or death thing , i didn't need them until october. He said "i need to get all this done so it can be paid and included in this year's budget". Not being sure what the hell that meant, i went anyway.

I drove home and had lunch instead of having lunch at work, my mom made an excuisite pork tenderloin, the highlight of my day.

I went back to work and returned the check to the business office and went to talk to purchasing guy, who told me "you'll go back there tomorrow and pay with cash, i'll get you the cash". Jeez, great, $1000 worth of bills in my pocket... reassuring. And going back, yai!

When I enter my lab, exhausted and sweaty (5 floors up by the stairs, humid and tired, there's no elevator, you tell me) chemistry guy barges into my lab to get 2L beakers. I asked if they were for the colorimeter activation stuff and he said "yes, the 1L beakers are too small, they can't fit 2 100mL beakers".

"I know" I said, to which he replied rudely "you didn't tell me, you should have told me and i could have had the time to set up proper baths differently" and he walked into his lab.

Now here's the icing on the cake. He tells me off about something I TOLD HIM WOULD HAPPEN, VIA EMAIL, 2 DAYS AGO (i have both printed and electronic copies of this email).

So now i'm pissed. He owes me an apology i thought. But no! He gives me another work order, like nothing ever happened.

I think it's too soon to declare war on this guy, as i've only been here over 3 months, so i'll treat him nicely for the time being. Once i'm rooted more firmly in the structure of the place, i'll think of something.

So now, at 17:30 local time, as I finish writing this, my head is deflating and i'm turning back to my normal rather pinkish complection.

But before i go, I have one message for all bosses out there.

All bosses and employers be warned, you are only humans like your employees, just as fragile physically and mentally. There's plenty a man can do about about your constant abuse. You're no better than them. Treat your employees with kindess and respect or face the consequences.



Soothing Jah

I edited the links section to have a permanent "today is not a good day" on it. Just as a reminder, don't be fooled by my tone.

As i write this I am listening to Negus Nagast a what appears to be Venezuelan roots reggae band. I found about it because my friend Lamar from Jamaica told me about it, and it's delicious reggae. I think everybody should buy their cds and listen to them. Perhaps the music will make the world a more relaxed place.

Today I was told by chemistry guy that the colorimeters were not functional. I proved that they were, but found 2 that were not working properly, so touche chemistry guy and touche myself. Thing is that when you plug in the vernier colorimeters on the go!links or the labpros onto the computer and start logger pro (the logging software that took all the fun out of data collection, i say *pfew*), the probe becomes active and it works.

Now if you're testing probes, logger pro only lets you have one set of probes (up to 4 on the labpro, 1 on the go!link) at one time for a given experiment. If you are to test the probes and need to change them, you need to restart logger pro every time you want to test a new one. Neither chemistry guy nor I knew this, but it took me about 20 seconds to figure out once i tested it, it was the first options of what might be wrong.

But since we only have 2 new colorimeters and 5 of the older ones (the ones made for the TI CBL2, which we used before the purchase of the laptop carts).

The 2 brand spaking new ones worked really well and have this thing that the older ones didn't have, a calibration button which calibrates the colorimeter with the blank by just pressing it. On the older ones you have to go onto the experimental menu on logger pro and do all this crapload of stuff to calibrate the damn thing.

But anyway, i digress.

I tested and found 2 old ones that were not working. The first turned on but didn't show voltage values for transmittance, thus i concluded the bulbs are busted. Then there's the other one that read fine on water at 0 transmittance but when testing a dilute crystal violet which is supposed to have an absorbance of about .360 at 595nm, read nothing. So i concluded the 595nm diode is busted. Not sure how they are structured, but assuming they use diodes, it's probably that. Or, it just ocurred to me, the lens is dirty/foggy.

I'll open both and see what's wrong.

Short day today, let's see what's in store later.


hydrochloric dreams

Yet another 6 hours at work.

In 20 minutes time i will finish the second part of the 10th grade chemistry experiments, the one neutralizing HCl. It ought to be entertaining, we'll see how this works out.

I fell asleep today at my desk. Nothing like a good afternoon nap after lunch. I'm becoming George Costanza.

I woke up to realize i put too much soap in the dishwasher, and suds were foaming out of the machine. I went and picked the mop up and mopped the whole thing dry. I really ought to consider buying dishwasher detergent to avoid this in the future.

Chemistry guy asked me to prepare and test a rate and activation energy experiment (NaOH + crystal violet), as he thought it'd be a good idea that i try them and see if they amounts were correct and so on. He also suggested i should try all experiments first, to see if all goes as the manuals predict. That should give me something to do, but it's a little late in the year to do ask me to do that, most topics have been covered and most experiments have been done already.

The activation energy experiment was kind of fun. I prepared .1M NaOH and luckly found 2.5E-5 crystal violet solution in one of the cupboards, that stuff is a pain in the ass to make. I measured 10ml of each, cooled them to 10°C, mixed them and measured the temp and absorbance at 595nm for 2 minutes. Nice steady increase in temp, and nice steady decrease in absorbance 595nm.

The students use laptops hooked on to Vernier LabPro, an interesting device for data collection. There's like 30 probes you can attach to the machine and it reads out nicely on a computer screen, Texas Instruments graphic calculator or a palm handheld. I have about 15 different probes and measuring devices on my shelves, i entertain myself a lot with these.

The most convenient ones are the motion detectors, temperature probes and pH probes, mostly because most of my thermometers have no batteries in them; motion and sound detectors are just plain cool and pH probes are way more precise.

We'll see how this works out today, should be interesting.



Monday morning started with a wide array of problems. People are such idiots, and it seems the older you get the more idiotic you become.

Take for example this:

My garage door is manually operated, as in, they're a set of wide swing doors that have a bunch of securing arms and must be opened by hand. Our garage is 5.5m long by 6.5m wide and fits exactly and very tightly 3 cars, two of them at less than 1 inch from the walls on the side, which gives us about 40cm to get in and out of the cars when all are parked inside. At the moment there's only two because of the jetta issues, anyway, so parking is relaxed, but that's no my point.

Since the door is wide, it opens out to the street and it needs to be swung to be closed, i have to park half the car on our mini driveway (1.9m long from the street edge to our garage door) leaving half the car on the street while i close it. I have no choice, if the car is too close, the door would hit the car and it'd be impossible to close because the door swings in an arch of 1.5m in radius, leaving most of the mini driveway useless when taking the cars out. Still, we're extremely considerate while taking out the cars; we turn our emergency blinkers on, we let all cars go through and so on. It's rarely been an issue.

Much consideration has been given throughout the years to replace the door. Many engineers and architects have taken good looks at the space and all have concluded there's no space to build anything that will allow us to install an automatic garage door that will give us freedom of space and movement. This is simply because there isn't enough space to do anything other than to store cars as our garage is a cement encased box. Had we installed at some point one of the older types of doors, we would have lost valuable ceiling space (which we need since my dad's truck is 1.79m tall and the garage is only 1.98m tall), or we could lose valuable length space (an average sedan will be about 4m in length).

Of course, now, when there's many more options to do this, we can't afford any of them, so the door has and will remain like this for years to come. Then again, this is completely counter intuitive, because the manual garage door takes time to open and close, leaving ourselves exposed to potential danger, if somebody would want to rob us or something.

Anyway. Another important thing to point out is that the street we're on has a 40km/h limit, which nobody should exceed because our house is located on the out side of a tight curve that has no visibility to what is coming because of a property with a big wall on the in side of the curve, and everybody should take caution when driving up or down the road. Then again nobody does.

This morning I started the car to let it warm up a bit while i opened the door, went and opened the door and proceeded to get in the car, drive it out of the garage and neatly park it half and half, as described above, in front of the garage entrance.

As I got out of the car to close the garage door I see a green '99 corolla approaching the curve way too fast and driving down the middle of the road. I could see the face of the driver, an older man probably in his 70's with white hair and a grumpy face. He was driving too fast of course, and in order to avoid an accident due to the curve he needed to break abruptly, which he did while flipping me off and honking his shreeky horn at me.

I asked myself, what did I do? Why are you honking at me? You saw my car from a distance with the emergency blinkers on, had plenty of time to break and there was plenty of space for 2 cars and most definitely enough space for you to go around safely. On top of this there was nobody coming up, which should have made this a non-issue.

I stood there looking at him with my arms extended inquisitively while he drove away.

I have to admit i was a little angry that this guy would do something so irresponsible and then blame his poor driving on my lack of money to get a fancy automatic garage door. I finishes closing the door and drove away.

But guess what.

At the entrance of our neighbourhood there's a newspaper stand, and he was buying newspaper.

I stopped the car, lowered my window and while perfectly faking a kind mood called out to the older man.

"Excuse me! Excuse me sir!", I called. He turned around with a puzzled look on his face.
I asked, "why did you honk at me and flip me off just now?", to which he replied with an angry tone "Because you were parked in the middle of the curve you moron".

I kept my face straight and kind and said, "sir, i live there, I have no choice but to park that way while i take my car out of the garage. You saw the car from a distance and yet did nothing about it". Then he said, and this drove me over the edge "you came out of nowhere punk and cut me off, learn how to drive".

He was being irrational, where does he get the balls to say something like that?. I reconsidered my mild attitude, as I didn't come from out of nowhere nor did cut him off, my car was stopped and I was outside of my car.

I told him in a more aggressive tone "it's not my problem you can't drive properly, you were coming in too fast, were not paying attention and you lie, I didn't cut you off. My car was parked, my blinkers were on on and I was ouside the car, and you had more than enough space to go through. More so, i'm not insulting you I strongly suggest you respect me, as I've shown nothing but respect for you. Get your act together before you make any accusations. I park that way because my garage door doesnt allow me to park any other way, if you don't like it, you buy me a new door."

His face was a deep shade of red, highlighted by his white hair. I think at some level he knew i was right and had no way out. He proceeded to flip me off, again. I told him to grow up and to take some viagra and get woman. We both drove away.

Lesson: nobody won. We behaved like children. I am 24, I still have the right to behave like a spoiled child, as most men my age do. But him, i had never expected it. I can speculate upon many reasons for his behaviour, but only he knows. Perhaps he was having a bad day, perhaps he is like this every day. Whatever the reason, i hope not to cross paths with him again because i cannot foretell the result of such a rematch.

However childish it may sound, i think i have the right to say he started it, and he aggravated it.

On to daily duties!

So far today i haven't done much and the day holds no promise of action. I just found out from general science guy that the kid who borrowed my crazy glue on friday didn't think of poking the tip with a needle to let the glue flow, instead he squeezed hard enough to have the back of the tube open... big mess. At least I wasn't aware of the incident and maintainance took care of the spilt glue, i don't share my acetone with anybody.

I took the laptops to chemistry guy's room and left them for him to use today. Right now I shall log on to yahoo answers and see if i can share knowledge with anybody, and perhaps learn something.

The afternoon was equally dull, a little copying here and there and I made some 0.1M NaOH for some colourimetric reactions. How lucky i am that there was crystal violet already made.

Yeah, life's that easy.
Cheers to you.


Frisky Friday

Today! Finally! TGI!

'Tis friday, about fucking time.

Even though this week was short because monday was off, it felt like it wouldn't end. I was just about ready to shoot myself by wednesday when i realized i still had 2 more days to endure before the weekend.

Today i shall demonstrate the how-to and let the 10th graders do the mole-mass and mole-coefficients experiments on their own. That ought to be entertaining, especially after the first student gets hurt with either the acid or the bunsen burners, mostly because I will lecture them on the associated risks of this experiment, repeat myself about 100 times, get told they know 100 times and still kids getting hurt because they think chemistry is a big game.

I ran into this most curious blog before, called "Pao's life". I found it interesting because her latest post was about the movie "my friend totoro", a japanese anime created by master anime creator Hayao Miyazaki.

What I found peculiar about this post is that she had pictures of the totoros.
Check out the totoros halfway down the page of Pao's life post
They're all so happy, the totoros. I think they're vegetarians... i wonder if they eat weed all day, because they all look a bit stoned.


It's friday again, and if you read my blog habitually, which i know you don't, you would know that it's cleanup and lead testing day.

Cleanup is almost done, I have to put the washed stuff in their storage cupboards and do the test, then i'll leave to run the lab.

It's been almost a year since I started dating my girlfriend on a boyfriend/girlfriend basis. Our anniversary is on the 20th and I don't know what to get her as a gift. I was thinking an Ipod, but then I realized what they cost and I may not be able to afford the damn thing. Perhaps jewelry... we'll see, i have to get paid first, pay off money owed and then see what I can afford.

Yesterday one of the 11th graders started screwing around with the biology fishtank and somehow managed to slide the lighting of the tank INTO the tank. One of our zebras died from a blunt force trauma from one of the corners of the lamp landing on top of him, may he rest in the toilet... in peace.

That brought the number of zebras to 3. I'm sure before the end of May they'll all be dead.

Classes officially end on May 26th. Now I wonder, what is going to happen to me while everybody is on vacation. Since i'm not an overseas teacher or employee, i don't get time off. I'm subjected to the laws of pooradise, which allow employers not to authorize vacation time until the employee has worked 1 year for him. So i'm going to be stuck at the school doing god knows what for god knows how long. I'm sure it'll be very little for very long, but who cares. I still get paid.

On the positive side, the FIFA world cup is happening this summer, which means i'll have something to do. I'm already collecting the official sticker album (panini), and have it almost full. Now all i need to do is relocate my tv from home to my office and sit back and enjoy the games while doing very little for very long.

Fun fun all around.

Have a nice weekend.


the moth

The last few days were so uneventful and boring that i didn't even bother writing. Oh my dear audience. That's if i have any audience...I haven't thought of that. I don't know how many people will read this and i really don't care. Ok, I care enought to try to make the blog entertaining wit sarcastic remarks and funny anecdotes, but not enought to do anything to get people to read this... but then again i don't know how to do that so let's leave it at that.

On tuesday I prepared 2 chemistry experiments for the 10th grade chemistry class of physics guy. One was mole-mass relationships and the other was or moles and chemical coefficients. Both simple experiments yet both require copious amounts of materials.

Mole-Mass relatioships:

This I think is the most hazardous experiment 10th graders will ever do, mostly because it involves fire and 6M HCl. I like HCl as much as I like stepping on dog shit, and 6M is nothing to laugh about. Essentially, the experiment reacts hydrochloric acid with sodium hydrogen carbonate (a.k.a. sodium bicarbonate, baking soda). The result? NaCl, sodium chloride, plain table salt.

NaHCO3 + HCl -> NaCl + CO2 + H2O

The whole point is to determine how the equation balances out by how many moles reacted with what, and by weighing the resulting NaCl once all the water is evaporated.

First you weigh a flame dried evaporating dish. Then grab about 2.5g of NaHCO3, put it on the evaporation plate, add about 5mL of HCl and let it react. The reaction can be fast and violent, so it's best to add the acid slowly and constantly, using a dropper, this is also so that once the bicarbonate is reacted (i.e. stopped bubbling) you can stop in time to avoid excess. It would also be good to cover the evap plate while reacting with a watchglass, so it doesn't spatter around.
Then you evaporate the resulting NaCl solution in the evaporation plate, carefully, moving the flame back and forth, you don't want spills from the boiling of the liquid. Once the stuff is dry, weigh it and find the mass of the NaCl formed.

So you calculate from the amount of moles of bicarbonate added and the final mass of NaCl and extrapolate the amount of moles reacted in total from the reaction... simple enough eh? This will give you an idea of how many atoms of what reacted with how many atoms of what else.

Moles - chemical equation coefficients relationships:

This one's similar but far simpler. This one's also done to determine the ratio of moles reacted in an equation. The whole point is to react a sulfate of one metal with another metal.

CuSO4 + Fe -> FeSO4 + Cu

What sucks about this experiment is that it's better to use an analytical balance, as amounts need to be exact to get good results. And students are known to break everything they touch (not all of them but most), so they have to do it with the shitty balance, no way i'm letting them use my nice balance.

Here's how. Grab a beaker, put 50mL of distilled water in it. Then dissolve 8g of CuSO4 (copper sulfate) in it. Stir. Add 2.2400g of powdered iron metal yo the blue juice. Stir for 5 minutes, then let settle for 2 minutes. Transfer by either decanting or filtering (i'd rather filter, it's quicker, and drying is a snap, but you'd have to weigh the filter paper circle first). Rinse the beaker with distilled water and pour whatever's left through the filter. Put the paper in a 40 degrees centigrade oven for an hour and weigh the resulting dry copper metal on the paper, substracting the weight of the paper of course.

From the weight of the Cu and its atomic weight, you can see how much Cu reacted out of the Sulfate (in theory all of it) and establish a ratio of Fe-Cu reacted in the whole shenannigan. Fun eh?

After about 2 hours of getting everything together i took a break. A break that lasted until 17:30... which is when i leave work. I found this game on shockwave called death from above, it's about world war I airplane dogfights. Quite fun, but too easy, won it in 1 afternoon.

I almost forgot, why this post is called "the moth". This country, being in large part a monstruous rainforest, has a lot of giant moth species. They're as big as birds. One of the math guys, the one next door to me, called me in to see if i could delicately deport a large dark moth from his room, without hurting it, kinda like what the US wants to do with the mexicans. Of course, while trying to grab it i snapped a bit of the wing off, thus hurting it. It's important to point out that adult moths (the ones that fly) don't bite as they don't have mouthparts that will allow them to do so. But anyway, i snapped a bit of the wing off and chased it around for a while. Eventually i got tired of chasing it to grab it with my hands and went and got one of the biology butterfly nets. And just like a cartoon character, chased the moth out of the room, into the hall, down the steps and caught it in front of the principal's office. Lots of people watched me do this. Ridiculous doesn't begin to describe it, but everyone myself included got a good laugh from it. The moth was safely released in the courtyard and flew away to become something else's foot. It sucks being at the bottom of the food chain.

Right now i'll go have lunch and later I'll sit around some more. Perhaps even write another piece. We'll see. Don't think so.

Every day is a free writing exercise.



The demo from the iodine clock was successful on friday. Thing is, reacting KI with H2O2 releases a lot of I vapour. It was my turn this morning to dispose of a giant beaker full of wonderful Iodine releasing glory. Now, as chlorine, iodine is also very toxic, especially in high concentrations and more so when you have to breathe it in.

I have a few other thinks to dispose of so it's time to call the chemical disposal people and have them take this away.

Follow up on the car:

My mechanic called me this morning. The replacement hose costs about 150 bucks.

(Lean more about the hose)

Bullshit of course, he's trying to profit from something that most likely cost him half, because I saw the hose on the internet for 50. Add nother 50 to the intermediary that brought it here and you have what, 50 bucks more for making a call.

Since i'm not going through the ordeal of getting this thing brought over from the states again, i'll have to subject my wallet to that loss.

I hope it all works out when I sell the jetta, as in, get my money back for selling it at a higher price than originally paid.

The weekend

As I said on friday, this was a long weekend, monday off. Saturday I had to attent a party at the local Hilton hotel, a wedding of one of my girlfriend's cousins.

Generally, when one thinks of Hilton, one thinks of WOW! Paris Hilton! Expensive!. But here in pooradise, Mr Hilton built the hotel right smack in the jaws of downtown, and one thinks OH Crap! I'm not going there. Now, back in the 60s i'm sure that having the hilton there must have been the 'shiznit' because downtown was nice back then. Fourty years of corruption and decay led the downtown of the city to go to hell, and now it's considered to be the single most dangerous place in the city, the Hilton, the city's theatre hall and all the fine arts and science museums in the middle of it and all. About 8000 crimes, including around 100 murders, are committed in this part of the city every year.

So I went to the Hilton, didn't have much choice really, the girlfriend would have been angry at me and i'm more of the conflict avoidant type, better safe than sorry.

So, "the party"... I'm no critic but the party sucked. I'm still happy i went out and enjoyed myself for a bit, but I was so bored and tired I decided to make like the trees and leave at 2am leaving the gf behind (which didn't make her very happy). The affair lasted until 5am.

Not being very familiar with the area, street lighting and signage being also quite poor, I took the worong way out of the hotel, thinking I was gong south east. Wrong!, I was gong north west, deeper into the dangerous area. Very few people go in there with a relatively decent car (i was using my mom's, a 97 subaru) and dressed with a tie at 2am and live to tell about it. I was going on this wide one way avenue, thinking I was going east, towards relative safety, which I was neither. As I kept on driving, things got progressively worse. I went trough 2 "police" checkpoints. I saw plenty of guns but no badges or uniforms, people get kidnapped at such checkpoints. I reduced my speed at both checkpoints but wasn't stopped by the "officers" nor I had any intention of stopping.

The road I was on ended with a tunnel at the foot of a hill and I thought "big no-no", so i turned left and drove into what is potentially the most dangerous 10 sqare kilometres in the continent, which oddly enough, is in the vicinity of the country's government palace, legislature and congress. As I drove I started feeling anxious because there were few people on the streets, fewer cars and very suspicious looking characters waiting for pedestrian lights on interesections where there were no cars (one way they take everything you have and kill you is to wait until you stopped at the light and then come and get you).

As I kept driving I heard gunfire here and there. Then I realized the gunfire was drawing nearer to me and then about 20 guys on shitty motorcycles came past me, followed by about 50 guys on shitty motorcylces... and they were shooting at each other. I slowed down immediately to let them pass me and once I saw a way to turn back i stepped on it and u-turned hollywood style, away from the shootout. I grabbed my phone and called my parents for guidance assistance, who luckily enough grew up near there and knew the area pretty well. They guided me into an avenue that led to a highway i was familiar with. I sped at 170kmh (110mph) up this avenue to reach the highway, thinking once I was on it would be safe.

I reached the highway and slowly relaxed, turned on some music and drove home.

Sunday morning came, and fully recovered from the shock I went with my mother and retraced my steps. It's not even 1/10 as dangerous during the day because there's lots of people out. That was the moment when I fully understood how deep in it I was and how lucky i am to be alive. Some good luck that was bestowed upon me by my grandfather (he had a few such extremely close calls in his life and always came out unscathed).

Having this experience I have taken a vow never to go in there again, no matter what. Many have already told me it's impossible to avoid going in there but I can sure as hell try.

Sunday and monday were relaxed and calm.