Newest Woodworking projects

Winter break afforded me the opportunity to work on several projects.  I completed two tables and a wall hanging, and a Scrabble-type game for the Museum.

another Michigan Table - all in Maple







Table for owner of Castor Concepts


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Jobs available at BASF

Just got this from a recent alum, now employed at BASF,  they are looking to hire some folks

Research Technician-1100955

Job Description
This position’s primary role is to provide support (lab and pilot) to the Development Group in the North American Urethanes Systems business. This Group’s success is measured by the successful market introduction of new products meeting customer and market technical requirements and the commercial requirements of the business.

Tasks include:
· Under supervision of a staff scientist, conduct lab experimental programs and scale up pilot-machine trials
· Applications may include flexible or rigid foams, coatings, sealants or adhesives,
· Specific tasks include accurate blending of ingredients, reacting these under controlled conditions to produce prototypes for evaluation. In many cases, such prototypes are prepared in pilot machines using dispensing pumps and molds.
· Testing of prototypes using industry-norm physical test methods (strength, hardness, durability, etc.)
· The successful candidate will also be an active participant in other departmental assignments and activities (Safety Program)

Required skills:
· Minimum 2 years college with strong background in chemistry, physics, engineering or related technical areas. BASF recognizes Institutions of Higher Education which are accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or equivalent.
· 3 years of experience in working with lab environment
· Basic mathematics to calculate formulation recipes interpreting test results, etc.
· Developed computer skills and proficiency in MS Word, Power Point and Excel are required.
· Must have good communication skills and be able to work well in team environment under time pressure and shifting priorities.
· Higher level position requires competence to work with minimal supervision
Desired skills:
· Bachelor or Associate Degree in Chemistry or related science
· Competency to become conversant in basic chemistry principles
· Aptitude to work with pilot machinery in preparing prototype articles for testing
· Strong Laboratory skills desirable in setting up lab experiments, work-up and analysis
· Organization skills (time planning, record-keeping in lab notebooks)
· Solid background in safe work practices

Go here to apply online to this position.

*Disclaimer: BASF, The Chemical Company shall not be liable for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided in the Comments section, and conclusions drawn from such information are the responsibility of the user.

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Spring Break

well-deserved. . . .it has been a tough first half of the semester, lots going on. . . I am teaching a full load, in addition to being chair, which is a lot harder than I imagined. . . I am again, behind in my grading, but the second exam for my orgo students went really well, they really did an outstanding job!! Average was 80.0!! and I thought I had written a tough exam, they made me proud!!
This semester we are trying something old. The students do not have tablets. I do. I am trying to see differences and, boy, do I ever see differences. The first is the almost complete lack of willing engagement on the part of the students. If I ask a question I get virtually no responses. With tablets, I could ask a question and I would get 20 responses instantly. Students REALLY want to be anonymous! Classes are much more labored and I doubt is students are having as much fun as they did when they had tablets.

I also am noting that roughly a third of the students are checking out the Posted lectures on my Moodle site. . . most are looking at the PDF files, but not the DyKnow files, which suggests they are MAC users principally. Hmmm. . . .
Anyway, the Spring Break is almost upon us!

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Spring Semester – Bring it!! :)

Well, we have just one more day until Spring Semester 2011 begins. I am TOTALLY looking forward to the start of the Spring Semester!! Good students, good friends, good people coming together!! I am energized by this environment!!! Let’s do great things together!!

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Pictures of My Woodworking projects

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Mole Day (Well, millimole Day) Breakfast

So, it has been my tradition to celebrate Mole day with a breakfast so that we can record our presence at 6:02 AM on 10/23.  We have held this event at a local truck stop diner, the 115, every year for the past 13 years, except when I was on sabbatical. Why, you say, would you not celebrate Mole minute in the evening? Well, military time puts only 6:02 AM as the true 6:02, Evening is 18:02, so that does not count.  Also, getting up at 5:30 takes initiative, and enthusiasm, neither of which is required to meander over for dinner.  I have had numerous alums tell me at alumni events how they remember the Mole Day Breakfast (and how little organic chemistry they remember, years later) as one of the the fun things they did in college, so I take that anecdotal evidence to suggest that we should continue.  The problem this year was that Mole Day, the 23rd of October falls on a Saturday, so I have zero interest. . . . SO, I decided this year to celebrate Millimole Day (6.02 x 10^20) which is today.  Below are some pictures of this morning’s crew of students who showed up.  4 drove east instead of west, so arrived late. . . but their enthusiasm is duly noted.  Thanks everyone for coming!!

Mole 2010

In the dark

Millimole Minute!!

2010 the late arrivals

The late Arrivals.

In case you are nostalgic for Mole days of the past.  Check out these photos

1997, the first year!

The first Mole Day Breakfast, 1997

we were young. . .

Cliff Harris and I in 1997

So long ago. . .


Mole day, 1998

1998, Year 2


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Week four Musings

34 students in organic chemistry, 19 are signed up to use tablets many started out using the tablet as their note taking device, not using paper.  There has been a shift in recent weeks.  Not sure why folks are back to using paper and pencil. . . the first exam is friday. . .

The students seem less connected to the technology than in the first year.  we have had “Zero” Crashes, so DyKnow 5.3 is better than 5.2. Students appear reluctant to engage in the technology. . . .Taking longer to get status responses,

I am also having difficulty with Multiboard again. . . trying to find a workaround.. . .

The hardware is beginning to fail. . . we had wrapped out power cords together to reduce clutter in the recharging cabinet. . . . they are failing at an alarming rate. . .  we have unbound the cords, and now the cabinet is a chaos!!  the work around will be to NOT use the recharging cabinet to recharge, but only for storage and have the students use the power cables at their tables. . .  I am looking for small cloth storage bags for the power cords. . . to keep things tidy in the cabinet.

we have also had 3 tablets with serious hardware failures.. . we spent the last of our HP grant on some more tablets, and have upgraded faculty computers as well.  We have purchased Fujitsu’s this time, less pricey and available. . .   We definitely have to find funding for upgrades,  these older tablets are approaching 4 years old. . . .

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National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

If you plan to pursue a graduate degree after Albion, consider applying for a graduate research fellowship!!  Check out the following link for graduate fellowship opportunity.

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Moodle site has Syllabus

Please register for my class on Moodle, ( there you can find handouts, notes from class, etc.  I have posted my syllabus there.  handouts to follow.


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Welcome, Organic chemistry students!

Welcome to Chemistry 211!!  This blog will be a the location of a number of things to assist you. . .  I will post things to this page, such as handouts, links to the Moodle site where handouts can be found, and other things that you might find helpful. . .

As an example.  I received the following e-mail from a professor at another institution who is selling a tutorial package for $10 for organic students.  This is NOT an endorsement, but perhaps you might investigate further, if you want.

Dr. French:

I am a chemistry instructor who has developed some chemistry software for my students that I would like to bring to your attention, and make available to your students at a very reasonable price.  The College Chemistry Tutor contains over 3100 General Chemistry problems in 81 different categories, 20 multiple choice tests, and 22 lectures (PowerPoint format) to help your students prepare for their exams.  The Organic Chemistry Tutor contains over 1100 problems in over 50 different categories, such as Nomenclature of Alkynes, Reactions of Aromatic Compounds, and Synthesis of Carboxylic Acids. It also contains 16 practice tests and 22 lectures.  With each program, the students can work the problem and check their answers.  Each problem has its own solution, which not only gives the answer but also shows how to solve the problem.  The cost for these CDs is only $10.00.

Your students can learn more about the software and download a free trial version by going to  They can purchase the software using either a credit card or a check. They can order the CD or download the product for immediate use. I also sell the CDs through some college bookstores.  Please contact me if you would like your bookstore to carry the software.  Both the College Chemistry Tutor and the Organic Chemistry Tutor are available for Windows (2000 and later) and for Mac (OS X 10.4 and later).

I have attached two flyers with some information about the products, and I would appreciate it if you could post them, or announce the availability of these products to your students. I have had many college students tell me how helpful the programs were.  Please feel free to pass along this information to others if appropriate.  Thank you very much.

Brian McRae
Chemistry Tutor Software

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