No Vote

Wednesday, 4 November 2015 12:35
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag)
No Vote Yet?

Yesterday was the first Tuesday in November, the traditional major fall election day. With the furious campaigning for President of These United States in the weeks and months leading up to Tuesday 3 November 2015... Oh. Wait.

It's just the off-year election after the mid-term election. We've still got a WHOLE YEAR of Presidential campaigning left.

Sigh.

No Vote?

So with election day rolling in, I couldn't remember hardly seeing ANY campaign signs anywhere, especially in Allendale, nor could I remember any Ottawa County or Michigan ballot proposals. So Monday night I checked, Googling "allendale mi ballot". The first hit was an Ottawa County site with several townships and other jurisdictions in the county -- but no mention for Allendale Twp. The Allendale Township site had a page for announcements -- and it was blank. Another website showed nothing for Allendale.

Would it kill the county or the township to put up a notice that there was NO Allendale Township election this round?

I did go down 84th Avenue in the morning and braved turning onto the M-45 traffic without benefit of a traffic light, so I could drive by the big church complex where elections are held -- no sign at the road saying VOTE TODAY.

Okay. Well, that's easy.

No! Vote

I don't normally delve into politics on this blog... but this hit the national news.

Back in September, I wrote about Cindy Gamrat (R) and Todd Courser (R) (DW) (LJ) and their shabby attempt to get back into the Michigan legislature:
In case you need context, Cindy Gamrat (R) and Todd Courser (R), managed to merge their offices in Lansing "to save money". Actually, though both married to other people, they used their shiny new combined office to cover their affair. It was eventually exposed, in part because the staff members refused to be part of the coverup. Courser thought he could put the dogs off the scent by producing a fake email smear campaign, outing him as gay -- apparently a fate worth than death or adultery.

In case you think this is only about the sex, remember they spent government money in order to conduct their affair. It was, apparently, a "mistake".

Rather than resign and let the State Legislature work on stuff like a third Real Try at funding desperately needed road repairs, they insisted on staying put until weeks of investigations and hand wringing and a vote late into the night resulted in... Gamrat being expelled from the State House and her brave suiter, Courser, bravely deciding to resign just before he was voted out as well.

Then this past week, Gamrat decided that since the voters hadn't weighed in on this, she was going to run for her seat in the special election. It is apparently legal to do so. But previously the Allegan County Republican Party had expelled her as well. Then Courser announced he was going to do the same -- run in the special election -- after getting approval (this time) from his wife.
Well, the results are in and neither Courser nor his girlfriend-not-his-wife will be going back to the legislature:

Gamrat came in third of eight candidates for the Republican special election primary, netting 9% of the vote. And in an 11 horse Kentucky Derby, Courser came in sixth with 4% of the vote. Thank goodness.

I was very peeved at both of these idiots, first for trying to use a "joint legislative office" to cover for their affair, second for Courser's idiotic plan to try to accuse himself of being gay, which he figured could be disproved, so when the rumors of the affair spread, no one would believe him. Third for not resigning when this all first blew up, because as God fearing good people and hardcore Tea Party Republicans, they couldn't imagine they did anything wrong. Thus forcing weeks of investigations, hearings and finally a long into the night vote, where the legislature expelled Gamrat and then Courser bravely let his girlfriend swing in the wind alone and resigned before he could be expelled, too. Which finally resulted in the two deciding that they should let their voters decide whether they should go back to their elected jobs as if nothing happened.

At her concession announcement at her home, Gamrat had her family on video call... from Florida. Right...

The special election itself will take place early in 2016.

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (cinderella-fabletown)
Originally I was going to write and post this before DST2007 dropped out of effect for 2015, but I missed the time. Indeed, I am writing this during the "free" hour between 1:59am EDT and 1:00am EST. Since not everyone reads newspapers with their above-the-fold reminder graphics or listen to local radio or TV, I always post a notice on my class webpages which my students are supposed to check every day:


Daylight Saving Time -- note there is no "s" -- is regularly mocked and hated in the United States of the 21st century:


For me, seeing as I am not a farmer, nor do I do many outdoor things in the summer evening (or anytime any more for that matter), the changeovers between DST modes generally results in having to battle the Sun in my eyes during my morning commute twice in the spring and twice in the fall. Alas, my commute starts off heading due east on roads. Fortunately, my current schedule doesn't put me in the same position westbound coming home.

Now there's a possible move to rid Michigan of DST altogether:
MICHIGAN -- As much of the nation prepares to turn the clocks back an hour Sunday, a Michigan legislator wants the state to dump daylight saving time.

The idea of Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, is not new. Others have tried to get Michigan off the twice-annual time change regimen without success.

In March, Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, sponsored a bill but it gained no traction.

Now, Lucido has sponsored a similar measure.

Introduced Oct. 14, his bill seeks to dump daylight saving time but also bring four Upper Peninsula counties into the Eastern Standard Time zone with the rest of the state. Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson, and Menominee counties now are in the Central time zone.

"There is no rational basis for (daylight saving time) whatsoever," Lucido argues.

He claims it leads to workplace accidents, health and driving risks, sleep disruptions and simple hassles for people that need to manually change clocks twice a year.

Lucido also believes that one intent of the program -- to save energy -- was never a proven outcome.

"It doesn't save anything. It causes problems," he said.

Lucido's bill has been referred to the House Government Operations Committee for a possible hearing.
Interestingly, Michigan has not always adopted Daylight Saving Time:
In 1967 the Michigan Legislature adopted a statute, Act 6 of the Public Acts of 1967, exempting the state from the observance of DST. The exemption statute was suspended on June 14, 1967, however, when the referendum was invoked. From June 14, 1967 until the last Sunday in October, 1967, Michigan observed DST, and did so in 1968 as well. The exemption statute was submitted to the voters at the General Election held in November 1968, and, in a close vote, the exemption statute was sustained. As a result, Michigan did not observe DST in 1969, 1970, 1971, or 1972. In November 1972, an initiative measure, repealing the exemption statute, was approved by the voters. Michigan again observed DST in 1973, and has continued to do so since then.

The vast majority of Michigan is in the Eastern Time Zone. Only the Upper Peninsula counties that border Wisconsin (Gogebic, Iron, Dickinson, and Menominee) are in Central Time.
Of course, the ridiculous DST2007 we currently operate under, was actually proposed by... duh-duh-DUH... a MICHIGAN congressman -- and a Republican at that. Thanks, Fred Upton:
Starting March 11, 2007, DST was extended another four to five weeks, from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November. The change was introduced by Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Edward Markey (D-MA) and added to the Energy Policy Act of 2005; the House had originally approved a motion that would have extended DST even farther from the first Sunday in March to the last Sunday in November, but Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) agreed to scale back the proposal in conference committee due to complaints from farmers and the airline industry. Proponents claimed that the extension would save "the equivalent of" 10,000 barrels (1,600 m3) of oil per day, but this figure was based on U.S. Department of Energy information from the 1970s, the accuracy and relevance of which the DoE no longer stands by. More recent studies by the Department of Energy and California Energy Commission have predicted much smaller energy benefits.[8] There is very little recent research on what the actual positive effects, if any, might be.
And, of course, I was in high school and had to deal with the Nixon-era nearly all-year DST:
In response to the 1973 energy crisis, DST in the United States began earlier in both 1974 and 1975, commencing on the first Sunday in January (January 6) in the former year and the last Sunday in February (February 23) in the latter. The extension of daylight saving time was not continued due to public opposition to late sunrise times during the winter months. In 1976, the United States reverted to the schedule set in the Uniform Time Act.
Part of the reason people hate DST in that they could never figure out when it was supposed to happen -- they kept changing it. Originally the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October:
On July 8, 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1986 into law that contained a daylight saving rider authored by Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA).[3] The starting date of DST was amended to the first Sunday in April effective in 1987. DST continued to end on the last Sunday in October.
The system I started out with as a kid was simple enough -- Indiana and Arizona were oddities which stayed on Standard Time, as they straddled two time zones. Alaska and Hawaii were disconnected from the Lower 48, so weren't on my radar as a kid. Me, personally, I could live with the old rules for DST. Alas, I don't think going back is likely to be a choice. All or nothing now. And trust that software updates will handle many of our devices twice a year.

So, what else did I take advantage of on this extra-long Saturday night? Well, I stumbled onto a movie on TV I hadn't seen, amused as much as the 12-1 schedule, since it was running into the time change.

R.I.P.D. (Rest In Peace Department) [PG-13] (2013)
FXHD 12:00am EDT to 1:00am EST

A Boston cop is killed and discovers he's "not quite dead yet", as the R.I.P.D. still has a use for him. He's teamed up with a Wild West lawman, who's been around the block a few times. Sort of like the TV series Dead Again -- and like that show, you no longer appear in the same body to the living, so don't try to go back to your old life.

Of course Ryan Reynolds doesn't listen. Old codger Jeff Bridges has to show him the ropes. It's a lot like Men In Black, only this time they're dealing with deados, rather than aliens. Kevin Bacon figures in the beginning and the end, and he's smiling, which is never good.

A silly fun romp, R.I.P.D. tanked at the box office -- go figure -- but it was a pleasant enough diversion for two hours. The worst part were the interminable triple-damned commercials. (evil-grin)

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2009)
October is waning. Many years I have gone to WindyCon in November, but since this cold thing has run its course over most of two weeks, I feel like I am behind too much. Too many evenings and weekends where I haven't gotten stuff, including writing, done. I had contemplated doing a day trip to Chicago -- or even an overnight, though I wouldn't be able to get my shoes on and off -- but I think I'll just have to pass on WindyCon this year. (sigh)

But... we're in the active planning phase for the 42nd iteration of ConFusion, the wonderful January con in Michigan.
The answer is 42. That's right, ConFusion is celebrating its 42nd year of science fiction and fantasy fandom. Join us at our new hotel January 21-24th, 2016. We have some amazing people joining us this year. Don't miss it while we discover the meaning of life, the universe, and ConFusion!
Pre-registration runs through 15 December 2015 -- adult rate is "$42". Then it'll cost you more.

This is the fourth hotel ConFusion has been in since I started going around 2003. The Doubletree in Dearborn the last couple of years was okay, but I really miss the Marriott in Troy MI.
We’re at a new hotel this year, the Novi Sheraton in Novi, Michigan.
The hotel is now booking reservations for the weekend.
$109/Night -- 2 night minimum, must book before Jan 1st, 2016
There was a notice on Facebook the other day that rooms in the ConFusion block were filling up fast, so Monday I jumped on it. You can make room reservations here. Not only did the Sheraton have a choice of accessible rooms in king or two double beds, but this is the FIRST con hotel I've dealt with where there's a pull-down menu for checkout time... including LATE checkout! Normal checkout is Noon, but I signed us up for a 2pm checkout. I typically try to do panels through about Noon or 1pm on Sunday, and it's nice not to have to be all packed and loaded before you even start the day, especially in the winter.

All this flurry of activity was partly driven by the Programming people, who are working on setting up panels and stuff NOW. If you are thinking of going to ConFusion and be on a panel, you need to get your badge name and hop onto the Programming tab and make sure the good people running ConFusion know what you're interested in.

Haven't heard back yet about Readings. The last several years there have been joint Readings, which often works out well. Last year I had a very early Sunday morning reading (DW) (LJ), which didn't get me a lot of feedback, as I read from Book 1 of my YA series. This time, I hope to be reading from the beginning of Book 2... We'll see. (grin)

For future reference, the floor plans for the Sheraton Novi and its meeting rooms:



Hope to see some of you there!

Dr. Phil
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No

Sunday, 20 September 2015 17:21
dr_phil_physics: (miss-michigan-usa)
Today's Sunday GRPress also had, on page I1 of the Opinion section, the following editorial at the top of the page. It was a joint statement of the editorial boards of The Press and the Kalamazoo Gazette, which both encompass the 80th Michigan state legislative district, and in its entirety is says, "No":


It took several tries to get this -- the Kindle Fire HD has a user-facing camera only, so I had the paper in one hand and the Kindle in the other. But the shutter release is on the screen and even with the case, the Kindle is slippery. Finally I rested the Kindle on the top of my four-footed cane. (evil-grin)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I posted this to Facebook, adding the comment:
Philip Edward Kaldon And the cowardly adulterous compatriot who was the other half of this pair and resigned rather than be expelled, after wasting money and time in the Michigan legislature, has decided he may run for his old seat. Agreeing with his girlfriend that the voters should decide, with permission from his wife. Ugh. -- Dr. Phil
In case you need context, Cindy Gamrat (R) and Todd Courser (R), managed to merge their offices in Lansing "to save money". Actually, though both married to other people, they used their shiny new combined office to cover their affair. It was eventually exposed, in part because the staff members refused to be part of the coverup. Courser thought he could put the dogs off the scent by producing a fake email smear campaign, outing him as gay -- apparently a fate worth than death or adultery.

In case you think this is only about the sex, remember they spent government money in order to conduct their affair. It was, apparently, a "mistake".

Rather than resign and let the State Legislature work on stuff like a third Real Try at funding desperately needed road repairs, they insisted on staying put until weeks of investigations and hand wringing and a vote late into the night resulted in... Gamrat being expelled from the State House and her brave suiter, Courser, bravely deciding to resign just before he was voted out as well.

Then this past week, Gamrat decided that since the voters hadn't weighed in on this, she was going to run for her seat in the special election. It is apparently legal to do so. But previously the Allegan County Republican Party had expelled her as well. Then Courser announced he was going to do the same -- run in the special election -- after getting approval (this time) from his wife.

The Detroit Free Press said "Disgraced lawmakers Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat apparently think their constituents are suckers, as they seek to win back their seats."

Should either succeed, they will have proudly thumbed their noses at the morality they have previously professed and, given their stand on cutting costs, forced the state to expend a small fortune on both their investigations, hearings, votes and, of course, the special election. Oh, I suppose all those costs were ALREADY spent -- all because they neither one of them were capable of doing the honorable thing and resign from office once their duplicity was discovered.

But I guess it's a Michigan thing.

Dr. Phil
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Prop 1 Goes DOWN

Wednesday, 6 May 2015 02:27
dr_phil_physics: (construction-zone-speed-limit)
So, Proposition 1 went down to defeat in Michigan. "The Free Press called the election for the no side less than one hour after the polls closed, based on analysis of exit poll results and early returns showing the no side winning by 4-1 margins in many parts of the state." I can't say I'm surprised.

Back on Thursday 23 April 2015, a friend on Facebook asked her readers what they thought about Prop 1 -- she honestly wanted to know. And I wrote first comment:
Haven't decided. While we need a lot of infrastructure repairs and I applaud Gov. Snyder's efforts to promote Proposal 1, I need to dig further because some reports talk about other things. Also, I think the sales tax increase is (1) regressive and (2) division and multiplication by seven is not simple. Right now it sounds like it will go down to defeat by a wide margin. Dr. Phil
That sounds about right.

The Detroit Free Press article linked above mentions an:
EPIC-MRA... poll, conducted April 25-28 for the Free Press and WXYZ-TV (Channel 7). According to the newly released results, 64% of respondents said they would support a one percentage point increase in the sales tax if they knew all the extra revenue raised would go to roads, bridges and transportation.

It's the same poll in which 61% of the 600 likely voters surveyed said they planned to vote no on Proposal 1. The poll, which included 20% cell phone users, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Here's the deal: Michigan has some of the worst roads in the country. It's not that hasn't been any new construction (M-6 in West Michigan) or repairs done in the last 15-20 years, it's that the legislature simply hasn't had the will to spend the funds anywhere close to maintaining a status quo, let alone improving things. Everyone talks about jobs and business, but if the roads suck, who will invest in Michigan's future?

There have been some successful projects. I remember the first time I was on the M-10 freeway in Detroit, it was completely bombed out. It was closed and stripped down completely and rebuilt. It's now a smooth modern 70 mph city freeway. But you can't then not keep these things up.

Michigan has gone through a whole series of anti-tax measures. Gotta cut the Michigan income tax. Gotta restrict local property taxes. Gotta cut the schools. (The legislature is currently crowing about increasing the schools budget by 2%, but doesn't want to point out that they are raiding the schools budget to pay for higher education, which they have been defunding for twenty years.) The worst, of course, was the unwillingness to touch the fixed state gasoline tax. It hasn't changed in forever AND all that work developing vast improvements in fuel economy while the prices have hopped around had come home to roost.

A 50¢/gallon fuel tax was voted down.

To his credit, Governor Rick Snyder (R) has made infrastructure a priority. He's tried a whole slew of attempts. Prop 1 was the latest deal which could actually pass the legislature with a two-thirds majority. Why was it a ballot proposal? Because it involved changing the state sales tax from 6% to 7%, eliminating the sales tax on gasoline and moving revenues around. Why was it defeated? Well, in part because the voters didn't trust it. I don't think they understood why a road repair funding proposal had anything to do with school funding. (It had to do with how they messed up school funding years ago.) And 7 really is a terrible number to do math with -- 7% sales tax, 1.07 multiplier, dividing $1.00 by 7 to figure out the sales tax brackets.

I commend Gov. Snyder for two things. (1) After indicating that the state needed about a billion dollars a year for ten years to try to get a handle on the highway crisis, he vetoed a Republican plan to fund about half a billion dollars a year through cutting all sorts of other programs. The legislature had acted like that bill would be sufficient and they could wash their hands of dealing with taxes. Snyder is a numbers man and he knew the numbers didn't add up. (2) Once the Prop 1 bill was passed, he went on a statewide tour talking to everyone who would listen about road repairs. He carried a metal bucket with him, filled with chunks of concrete that had fallen from bridges and overpasses onto the roads, and gave them out as party favors to make his point. He'd hold up a big chunk and ask what if that came through your windshield? Or you drove over it and broke your car?

Gov. Snyder is not my favorite governor by a long shot, but he tried, man. He tried.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

So with the polling against it, we come to Election Day. One with a single solitary item on most ballots across the state. A rainy, overcast day. I haven't seen final numbers, but the turnout was expected to be under 20%.

Mrs. Dr. Phil voted on her way to work. I think she had ballot 22 or 28. I went out after 3pm. The parking lot, usually filled on election days, was mostly empty. Precinct 3 of 5 is small, so I used my two canes and didn't even bother with a walker. I had ballot 248 and machine record 221.

I hadn't decided how I'd vote until I got there. I wish the legislature would do its job, not be so scared shitless about realizing that tax money needs to come from somewhere and had just made a case for a clean bill that would fix the roads. On the other hand, I had no confidence that the legislature would be able to agree on anything else -- until they heard it from their constituents.

In the end, I filled in the bubble for YES.

Not that it mattered.

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (Default)
Earthquake.

Michigan.

West Michigan.

An earthquake in West Michigan? WTF?

Yup. A magnitude 4.2 earthquake, centered four miles south of Galesburg MI, which is east of Kalamazoo, and four miles down.

And. We. Missed. It.


Seismic data from Fermilab in Batavia IL. Timestamp along bottom is in CDT. via Facebook.
©2015 Fermilab (All Rights Reserved)

"The earthquake struck at 12:23 p.m. roughly 5 miles south of Galesburg at a depth of 3.7 miles beneath the ground, the USGS says."

This is not the first time this has happened to us, but we were driving to Grand Haven MI along the back roads when the earthquake "hit". Never even noticed it. Once again. We only found out when someone at Bekins mentioned the quake about an hour and a half later after we ordered a new refrigerator and stove. Of course our house shudders every now and then anyway. It's built on sand which transmits sounds and vibrations quite well and there are a few people who do Big Things moving dirt and rocks around for fun and profit. Plus people playing with explosives.

As I've mentioned before, we have a very low success rate with observing natural phenomena in West Michigan, which made the 5 April 2015 Lunar eclipse sighting so wonderful.


Capsule infographic from the United States Geological Survey via Facebook. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 USGS (All Rights Reserved)

To the people of California, Alaska and all around the Pacific Ring of Fire, I know you're laughing at a 4.2 quake. But come on, it's the second strongest earthquake recorded in Michigan ever! 4.6 in Coldwater MI on 9 August 1947 wins top honors. That was 68 years ago. 24,738 days! I'm pretty sure the 1960s earthquake that cracked the plaster along the stairs in the house I grew up in back in Medina in Western New York was stronger? Hmm, nothing listed in the Northeast above a 5 in the early 60s. Well, it was 75 year old plaster. Anyway, the point is: You can shovel snow, it's harder to shovel an earthquake or a hurricane. Why the hell do you think we live in West Michigan?

Best story on the news last night was the pastor of a small church who was giving a sermon when the quake struck -- on why it was important for them to raise money for relief in Nepal, devastated just a week ago by a powerful quake. The newspapers last week had human interest stories from the Grand Rapids immigrant and international student community about residents here concerned about finding out what happened to their families and loved ones in Nepal.


Strongest part of the quake was in a thirty mile swath. Motion of around 3cm/sec. Allendale is located at the upper left, in the middle blue LIGHT range. via MLIve.
©2015 USGS (All Rights Reserved)

A WMU Geology prof on the Channel 3 News last night reiterated that this was unusual but not common. Indeed, most Michigan earthquakes original outside of the state. A number of quakes in 1811-12 were connected to the New Madrid Fault in Missouri, which is still a ticking time bomb for the Midwest. And in the U.P., the Keweenaw had some quakes a hundred years ago that were probably collapsing copper mines below.

This particular fault lit up quite well, so it is now fairly well defined. Especially good, since this fault was unknown at noon yesterday.

But I was sure, after the recent reports from Oklahoma, that someone was going to bring up fracking.

And I was not disappointed -- less than twenty-four hours after the quake I saw the first hysterical article posted on Facebook about a possible connection to Michigan allowing high volume horizontal fracturing. Now, to be truthful -- as a scientist, I have no idea. But last I heard the fracking was only approved recently? Ah, 2010. Are any wells actually active? Or are people mistaking the old low yield salt water injection wells that have been running since like the 1930s in West Michigan? Seems there are a handful of operations since 2011-13. (Note microscopic print from the Dept. of Environmental Quality.) We'll see how this develops.


The wags got out early. The photo is stock -- the same Rebuild message was used in Melbourne and several other places. Truthfully, a few bricks fell out of a chimney near the site and we know one person in Grand Rapids who got a crack in a plaster wall. I am sure there was more damage, but we're talking small potatoes here.
©2015 Memegenerator.net (All Rights Reserved)

Despite having effectively missed the event, this is what passes for news here. Wonder if the folks arriving for Tulip Time in Holland MI were exited about all this?

Dr. Phil
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B.C.

Monday, 23 February 2015 23:02
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
So I guess there's a new cop show coming on TV called Battle Creek. No surprise that WWMT-TV -- which is a CBS affiliate, and is based in Kalamazoo, covering West Michigan including Battle Creek MI -- is all over flogging this new show. They're sponsoring a premiere at a movie theatre in the next week and the show itself airs starting Sunday March 1st. I guess the producers of Battle Creek also did some TV show called Breaking Bad, which a few of you might have seen.

Tonight on the 11pm News they were showing interviews they did with with the cast out in the field, literally, as in the set was in a cornfield outdoors. Now, it's February and here in West Michigan there's snow, temps are down near zero and falling, with windchills going down to -25°F. The corn here, including the field corn, is long harvested. So either they filmed this back in the fall and have been sitting on the footage until now or, horror of horrors, maybe they aren't filming Battle Creek in Battle Creek.

Asked and answered -- the corn field is on a back lot in L.A. What a surprise. They have to be careful not to show buildings, palm trees or the myriad planes flying in and out of LAX. But they have a nice looking John Deere green tractor. I understand they came by Battle Creek with the cast and all back in the summer to look around and hang out with the Battle Creek police.

Oh gosh, is that the Allstate Mayhem guy? It is. Dean Winters. Never knew his name, but we recognized him because the interview on the set had him all beat up -- just like the Mayhem guy. We loved the Mayhem commercials.

And Kal Penn is in the series. He's been on House, the Harold & Kumar movies which we haven't seen -- and he took time out from Hollywood and served in the Obama Administration as Associate Director of Public Engagement. (At first we were trying to remember if Penn had a Michigan connection, thinking maybe he'd been in the locally done 2011 movie 30 Minutes or Less, but that was Aziz Ansari. No, not going there with the "they all look the same" crack -- we're just bad with names.)

Maybe, we'll have to tune in.

Even though Battle Creek isn't actually filmed in Battle Creek.

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (apollo-saturn-v)
Things I Did Not Know Existed

Internet research takes you in directions you never expect.

I was doing Google Maps to locate The Jam Pot, the bakery store of the Holy Transfiguration Skete, Society of St. John, a Catholic monastery of the Byzantine Rite. It's off M-26 on the northern shores of the Keweenaw Peninsula -- north of Houghton, just past Jacobs Falls and before Copper Harbor MI. And with Google Maps, you can scroll around. I was looking at Brockway Mountain Drive and then decided to see the northern terminus of US-41 (1990 Miles to Miami). And then I decided to see how far the private road goes to Lake Superior...

And there on the edge of webpage, along the tip of the Keweenaw, past the end of the main road, was a tag for Keweenaw Rocket Range.

Urrr?

Click on it, and there's a link to a webpage: The Keweenaw Rocket Range 1962-1971 In the Copper Country of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

No, this was not some hobbyists launch site nor a humorous joke by the Michigan Tech students. This was an actual NASA launch site through the University of Michigan and Michigan Technological University. Really?

At first it was small sounding rockets for weather research. Then a test program for a multiple rocket launcher on a buoy. And finally, two Nike-Apache rockets which traveled up a hundred miles to space and back. (Space officially begins at just 100 kilometers.) There was even talk of launching a couple of surplus Redstone boosters -- the ballistic missile line used for the first suborbital Mercury-Redstone NASA manned launches with Alan Shephard and Gus Grissom in 1961 -- for either polar launches or suborbital around the other side of the planet. That didn't happen.

I have a mild affection for the Nike rocket, as there was a Nike missile base near where I grew up in western New York -- my Cub Scout troop did a field trip there when it was an active site. They even popped a missile out of its hardened launcher for us. Cool.

You can read about the history in the link above. Naturally, the two Nike-Apache launches launched in JANUARY of 1971, during a series of blizzards that dumped 94" of snow...


Google Maps of Copper Harbor, US-41 and the Keweenaw Rocket Range.


Google Maps satellite view closeup of the site.
Two NIKE-APACHE rockets were fired off from the Keweenaw Missile Range as a part of the IGY, International Geophysical Year, in a coordinated launch with other NASA facilities in North America. Although other research sounding rockets had been fired from the Keweenaw Range in years previous, these were by far the largest rockets fired.

Preparations went on through the Fall of 1970, but took until January, 1971, to bring things to a readiness. Weather that winter also took a toll. These pictures were taken by Roland Burgan, then WHDF (Houghton, later WCCY) General Manager, & News Director, over two trips made into the site on two consecutive days, Thursday, January 28th, and Friday, January, 29th., 1971. Accompanying Roland was a brother, Read, then General Manager of WGGL-FM, (PBS station at MTU). The first launch had been set for Thursday, but was postponed at the last minute by uncooperative high altitude winds. The launch went as planned on Friday, at noon. Temperatures that day hovered at -20 deg.F

Ground crew waiting for results.


Nike-Apache at launch from the Keweenaw Rocket Range. (Click on photo for larger.)


Memorial stone put up by PFRC in 2000. (Click on photo for larger.)

Go PFRC. I was never a member of PFRC -- the Permanent Floating Riot Committee -- Michigan Tech's SF club only because we lived 14 miles out of Houghton in Laurium, so I was never able to go to the meetings on nights and weekends. Plus... I wasn't active in going to cons yet. But PFRC, ably assisted by legendary adviser and Physics professor Gary Agin, was always a class act in the finest traditions of Michigan Tech.

Of course they put up a memorial plaque and then replaced it with a proper stone. At the end of a series of impassable roads and beyond the ends of the earth on the shores of Lake Superior. The weather should just be about perfect right now.
Copper Harbor, MI
Thursday 1:00 PM
Cloudy
-6°F
Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2012)
Final Updates!

This weekend.. Back to the ConFusion -- Friday 16 January to Sunday 18 January 2015. The Doubletree Hotel Detroit/Dearborn, 5801 Southfield Road, Detroit, MI 48228, is hosting for the third year.
Back to the ConFusion, the 41st ConFusion by name and 42nd annual January gathering (starting with the AA Realx-I-Con in 1974), is a go! 2015 looks to be an exciting year--it will be the year that Marty McFly really traveled to in Back to the Future II, whatever that Facebook meme says, so look out for those hoverboards, they must be right around the corner. (No, seriously, look out!) We're anticipating another excellent con, with the first-time appearance of author Karen Lord, researcher Dr. Cynthia Chestek, and gaming gurus Monte Cook & Shanna Germain. We'll also welcome back Heather Dale, now performing as our Music Guest of Honor. And then there's Aaron Thul, longtime fan and conrunner, returning after two years away as our Fan Guest of Honor. Please do join us, and we hope to see you there in January!
For some previews, ConFusion has a cool Tumblr.

Plus Detcon1 -- last summer's NASFiC in Detroit -- is holding a party Friday night. See below.

The full Program is now available as a PDF.

Six panels, moderating one -- and a reading! Now with panelists and rooms!

ConFusion Schedule for Dr. Phil Kaldon

Friday 6pm: Dearborn
Every Creature (Real and Fantastical) Poops
You may have read the book Everyone Poops, but it's 
so human-centric. What about mermaids, centaurs, 
and other fantastical creatures? Let's see if we can 
analogize from real species to arrive at a theory of 
fantastical pooping. (Caution: conversation may stray 
into food, sex and gestation.)
Rowena Cherry, Cindy Spencer Pape, Lucy Kennedy, 
Dr. Phil Kaldon

(Friday 7pm: Michigan - Big Top
Opening Ceremonies)

Friday 8pm: Warren
Ghosts of SyFy Past
Come reminisce about the actual science fiction SyFy
used to show, and talk about the network's plans to
get back to its science fiction roots.
Julie Winningham, Philip Kaldon, Aset, Steve Drew'

(Friday 9pm: Erie
Detcon1 Thank You Party)
Life seems so empty now that we're not running a NASFiC 
anymore. So we're going to throw one last party this weekend 
at MI Official ConFusion to say thank you to everyone who 
supported us. We'll have ribbons and shirts and some other 
surprises to give away, food and drink, plus a DJ Scalzi-inspired 
playlist and a slideshow of our favorite pictures from the con. 
Join us in the Erie Room Friday night!

Saturday 10am: Dearborn 
Building a Better Dragon
No two writers imagine the same dragon. How would
yours be different? Flying, fire, temperament,
teeth: what makes a good dragon?
Christian Klaver, Philip Kaldon, Cinda Williams Chima, 
Steve Buchheit

Saturday 11am: Southfield 
Time Travel Devices, Doors, and Deus Ex Machinas
How to travel through time (in literature and media)	
Philip Kaldon, Ferrett Steinmetz, Andrew Zimmerman Jones, 
Laura Resnick
 
Saturday 4pm: Dearborn 
Time Travel (im)Possibilities
Would 1.21 gigawatts get the job done, or would
the flux capacitor even work? Time for our panelists
and audience to debunk our favorite time travel
devices in literature and popular media.
Bill Higgins, Philip Kaldon, Ron Collins, 
Andrew Zimmerman Jones 

Sunday 10am: Warren 
Tomlinson/Kaldon reading
Patrick S. Tomlinson and Philip Kaldon read from their works.
This will be the first public reading from
the opening chapters of The Lost Kingdom YA project
I am working on.  I had planned to read this at
WindyCon, but alas the weather kept us away from
Chicago in mid-November.  Their loss is your gain.

Sunday 11am: Erie 
Science or Science Fiction?
Science fiction novels continue to impress with
amazing technological advances in so many areas.
What's more impressive, though? That some of them
are reality! Come talk about some of the things
you see on the news today that you first read
about years ago in a book.
Philip Kaldon, Jason Sanford, Andrew Zimmerman Jones, 
Patrick S. Tomlinson, Brent Seth 



Note: Room map is from 2013. (Click on map for larger.)

Anyway, these are all fun panels to be on and I am very excited about my reading.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2012)
Now with Updated Almost-The- Final-Schedules and Room Maps!

Not this coming weekend, but the next. Back to the ConFusion -- Friday 16 January to Sunday 18 January 2015. The Doubletree Hotel Detroit/Dearborn?, 5801 Southfield Road, Detroit, MI 48228, is hosting for the third year.
Back to the ConFusion, the 41st ConFusion by name and 42nd annual January gathering (starting with the AA Realx-I-Con in 1974), is a go! 2015 looks to be an exciting year--it will be the year that Marty McFly really traveled to in Back to the Future II, whatever that Facebook meme says, so look out for those hoverboards, they must be right around the corner. (No, seriously, look out!) We're anticipating another excellent con, with the first-time appearance of author Karen Lord, researcher Dr. Cynthia Chestek, and gaming gurus Monte Cook & Shanna Germain. We'll also welcome back Heather Dale, now performing as our Music Guest of Honor. And then there's Aaron Thul, longtime fan and conrunner, returning after two years away as our Fan Guest of Honor. Please do join us, and we hope to see you there in January!
For some previews, I just discovered ConFusion has a cool Tumblr.

Six panels, moderating one -- and a reading! Now with panelists and rooms!

ConFusion Schedule for Dr. Phil Kaldon

Friday 6pm: Dearborn
Every Creature (Real and Fantastical) Poops
You may have read the book Everyone Poops, but it's 
so human-centric. What about mermaids, centaurs, 
and other fantastical creatures? Let's see if we can 
analogize from real species to arrive at a theory of 
fantastical pooping. (Caution: conversation may stray 
into food, sex and gestation.)
Rowena Cherry, Cindy Spencer Pape, Lucy Kennedy, 
Dr. Phil Kaldon

(Friday 7pm: Michigan - Big Top
Opening Ceremonies)

Friday 8pm: Warren
Ghosts of SyFy Past
Come reminisce about the actual science fiction SyFy
used to show, and talk about the network's plans to
get back to its science fiction roots.
Julie Winningham, Philip Kaldon, Aset, Steve Drew'

Saturday 10am: Dearborn 
Building a Better Dragon
No two writers imagine the same dragon. How would
yours be different? Flying, fire, temperament,
teeth: what makes a good dragon?
Christian Klaver, Philip Kaldon, Cinda Williams Chima, 
Steve Buchheit

Saturday 11am: Southfield 
Time Travel Devices, Doors, and Deus Ex Machinas
How to travel through time (in literature and media)	
Philip Kaldon, Ferrett Steinmetz, Andrew Zimmerman Jones, 
Laura Resnick
 
Saturday 4pm: Dearborn 
Time Travel (im)Possibilities
Would 1.21 gigawatts get the job done, or would
the flux capacitor even work? Time for our panelists
and audience to debunk our favorite time travel
devices in literature and popular media.
Bill Higgins, Philip Kaldon, Ron Collins, 
Andrew Zimmerman Jones 

Sunday 10am: Warren 
Tomlinson/Kaldon reading
Patrick S. Tomlinson and Philip Kaldon read from their works.
This will be the first public reading from
the opening chapters of The Lost Kingdom YA project
I am working on.  I had planned to read this at
WindyCon, but alas the weather kept us away from
Chicago in mid-November.  Their loss is your gain.

Sunday 11am: Erie 
Science or Science Fiction?
Science fiction novels continue to impress with
amazing technological advances in so many areas.
What's more impressive, though? That some of them
are reality! Come talk about some of the things
you see on the news today that you first read
about years ago in a book.
Philip Kaldon, Jason Sanford, Andrew Zimmerman Jones, 
Patrick S. Tomlinson, Brent Seth 



Note: Room map is from 2013. (Click on map for larger.)

Anyway, these are all fun panels to be on and I am very excited about my reading.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2009)
Not this coming weekend, but the next. Back to the ConFusion -- Friday 16 January to Sunday 18 January 2015. The Doubletree Hotel Detroit/Dearborn‎, 5801 Southfield Road, Detroit, MI 48228, is hosting for the third year.
Back to the ConFusion, the 41st ConFusion by name and 42nd annual January gathering (starting with the AA Realx-I-Con in 1974), is a go! 2015 looks to be an exciting year--it will be the year that Marty McFly really traveled to in Back to the Future II, whatever that Facebook meme says, so look out for those hoverboards, they must be right around the corner. (No, seriously, look out!) We're anticipating another excellent con, with the first-time appearance of author Karen Lord, researcher Dr. Cynthia Chestek, and gaming gurus Monte Cook & Shanna Germain. We'll also welcome back Heather Dale, now performing as our Music Guest of Honor. And then there's Aaron Thul, longtime fan and conrunner, returning after two years away as our Fan Guest of Honor. Please do join us, and we hope to see you there in January!
I had four panels and a reading, but they've given me two more panels, from Friday evening to Sunday noon. Including an important reveal -- see below...

Preliminary Schedule for Dr. Phil Kaldon


Friday 6pm: Every Creature (Real and Fantastical) Poops
You may have read the book Everyone Poops, but it's 
so human-centric. What about mermaids, centaurs, and 
other fantastical creatures? Let's see if we can 
analogize from real species to arrive at a theory 
of fantastical pooping. (Caution: conversation may 
stray into food, sex and gestation.)
Rowena Cherry, Cindy Spencer Pape, Lucy Kennedy, 
Dr. Phil Kaldon

(Friday 7pm: Opening Ceremonies)

Friday 8pm: Ghosts of SyFy Past
Come reminisce about the actual science fiction SyFy
used to show, and talk about the network's plans to
get back to its science fiction roots.
Update 12-19-2014: I asked and no, this 8pm panel
does NOT conflict with the Opening Ceremonies, which
are scheduled for 7pm. So you have no excuse not to
come to the so-called SyFy Channel fish fry... (grin)

Saturday 10am: Building a Better Dragon
No two writers imagine the same dragon. How would
yours be different? Flying, fire, temperament,
teeth: what makes a good dragon?

Saturday 11am: Time Travel Devices, Doors, 
and Deus Ex Machinas
How to travel through time (in literature and media)	
Ferrett Steinmetz, Andrew Zimmerman Jones, 
Laura Resnick, Dr. Phil Kaldon

(Saturday 3pm: Mass Autograph Session)

Saturday 4pm: Time Travel (im)Possibilities
Would 1.21 gigawatts get the job done, or would
the flux capacitor even work? Time for our panelists
and audience to debunk our favorite time travel
devices in literature and popular media.

Sunday 10am: Tomlinson/Kaldon reading
This will be the first public reading from
the opening chapters of The Lost Kingdom YA project
I am working on.  I had planned to read this at
WindyCon, but alas the weather kept us away from
Chicago in mid-November.  Their loss is your gain.

Sunday 11am: Science or Science Fiction?
Science fiction novels continue to impress with
amazing technological advances in so many areas.
What's more impressive, though? That some of them
are reality! Come talk about some of the things
you see on the news today that you first read
about years ago in a book.
No room assignments yet -- hopefully it won't be a LONG walk/roll from adjacent events. Anyway, these are all fun panels to be on and I am very excited about my reading.

I've said it before -- ConFusion is one of my favorite weekends of the year and I was gypped out of it last year. So if you can, please come on over!

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

Hooray?

Tuesday, 5 February 2013 14:39
dr_phil_physics: (rose-airplane)
GRR

860 days ago I wrote about the possibility of Southwest Airlines coming to Grand Rapids (DW). Southwest is, of course, the biggest of the discount airlines, and the hope is having Southwest here will cause ticket prices out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport to drop.

Yesterday the airport people scheduled a big announcement for 11am and indeed, as part of the Southwest takeover of Air Tran, Southwest will officially be an airline in Grand Rapids. Also, they're going to bring in bigger aircraft than Air Tran was operating.

Years ago I flew Southwest and was amused by their positive attitude corporate culture. I'm sure today I'd be less satisfied, especially with the probability that they'd make me buy two tickets, but overall flying in and out of GRR can be rather expensive, so having Southwest here should make others happy.

One funny aspect of the announcement was that while the airport people were being coy about what the announcement actually was going to be, one of the staffers at WOOD Radio went to the Southwest website before 9am and found the newly revised map showing routes coming out of Grand Rapids. (grin) Ah, research. What a wonderful thing.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: Dr Phil Confusion 2013 (dr-phil-confusion-2013)
Friday 18 January 2013
8:00p
Michigan


After my 7pm panel upon arriving and checking into ConFusion, I did a quick run through Registration -- and then on to the Opening Ceremonies.


Con Chair Lucy Kennedy. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


And Programming Chair Dave Klecha, helping out with introductions, up until the introductees started taking over. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Guest of Honor Mary Robinette Kowal and Science Guest of Honor Jennifer Ouellette. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Mary was invited as SF/F writer and professional puppeteer, and then there was no time for doing puppetry. Dave Klecha said he invited her just to have her tell the story of The Worst Puppet Show Ever, which she did. And required the rocket to her Hugo award as a prize -- that Hugo rocket got a lot of workouts at ConFusion!


Guest of Honor Charlie Stross -- with Hugo demonstrator Mary. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Subterranean Press Guests Maria Dahvana Headley and Kat Howard whooping it up at the fun of being invited. And asking for and getting... (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


... their escorts. Security maybe? (multiple-grins) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Then I went by Ops and got my name plate sign for my panels -- it turned out it was hidden inside another sign which was why it wasn't at Registration -- hit up the ConSuite for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then up to the room to work.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: Dr Phil Confusion 2013 (dr-phil-confusion-2013)
No Ferrett at ConFusion 2013

Some of you may know author Ferrett Steinmetz. I've run into him at cons for a couple of years and have been reading his blog and some of his stories for a while. Neat person, comments on all sorts of things. Last year I shared a reading with Ferrett (DW) which was a lot of fun.

And then about a week ago, Ferrett posted that he hadn't felt well and headed off to the ER. Heart attack -- triple bypass.

At my reading with Mary Turzillo this year, Mary brought a bag of various nail polishes. Ferrett had posted that people do "pretty princess nails" and send him pictures. No, I didn't do it -- I have a phobia about ink/paint/stains on me. But Steve Buchheit looked over the scarlet red polish, but finally decided to do a couple of nails in gold glitter, a coating of which Mary had done, too.

So naturally I took pictures -- in black & white. (grin)


Steve Buchheit showing off his efforts. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Mary's sparkly nails. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Elsewhere At ConFusion

Have a slice of pi, Ferrett. (irrational-grin)

I'm assuming that this was an art installation on the wood frame around the raised central lobby bar area -- lovely calligraphy of Pi and hand written... (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


... for 20 or 30 feet! (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Then there was Al Bogdan's photo shoot for Jim Hine's charity fundraiser, involving Jim, John Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal, Patrick Rothfuss and Charles Stross trying to recreate a real book cover with impossible poses:

Here's the photo.


And the mocked up cover. (Click on photo for larger.)


Of course the big reveal was scheduled for 3pm -- RIGHT DURING MY READING. So when Jim Hines came to the 4pm panel we were on, he came bearing one of the signed prints, which I had him model for me. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

So this page is for Ferrett. Enjoy the fun.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: Dr Phil Confusion 2013 (dr-phil-confusion-2013)
Al Bogdan

Al and I keep doing dueling photographs at various places. As we sat in the corridor outside the ConSuite -- I was heading back to the room and the corridor, ConSuite and bank of three elevators all form a sort of chokepoint in the Doubletree -- I squeezed off a couple of shots. Though Vibration Reduction has greatly increased the odds of me getting pictures in all these low-light, available-light situations, autofocus efficiency is low and besides, with slow lenses and dim light you can't always keep track of whether you've got a nice facial expression.

Al was griping about the latter. Something about it being too easy to turn such multiple shots into animation. So I assured him, that if that was the case, I'd create an animated GIF for him. And the rest of the world.


Al Animated -- just because I can...
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

But here's a little reunion of the 2004 Clarion gang -- me behind the camera, Al and Sarah Gibbons.

Sarah and Al sitting in corridor chokepoint outside the ConSuite. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Sarah Gibbons

Sarah was our "copy girl". A grad student who slaved over the Clarion copier at MSU and turning our 115 stories and 385,562 words of deathless SF/F prose into reams of copies for the 18 writers, staff, archives and all the instructors. A very thankless and necessary task.


I kept running into, and running by, Sarah Gibbons -- so I finally stopped to get a picture, so I could mention that I saw her here at ConFusion. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


After Sunday's "SF Radio" performance, Patrick Rothfuss signs one of Sarah's books. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (kate-winter-coat)
When We Lived In The U.P. We Called This Monday

As I write this at 5pm on Monday, MLK Day (Observed) and Inauguration Day (Observed), it's 9°F outside. News reports the roads as slick -- it's been snowing all night. But the lake effect here outside Allendale is nowhere close to the 6-14" predicted.

I won't mock the weather, though. Even if we had much tougher Januaries in New York, Chicago, the U.P. and here in previous years, the mild winters of late mean that the local drivers aren't used to the skating rinks. And they forget the basic Physics which suggests that road salt doesn't do much at 9°F. I'd thought of going to the P.O. Box today, but with being off at WMU for MLK Day, there was no reason to go out and test the roads in the middle of the day. So I caught up on sleep, and watched the TV coverage from D.C. And edited lots of photos from the weekend.


Backyard at 4pm. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


View out the garage -- you can still see Mrs. Dr. Phil's tire tracks from this morning, not fully filled in. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

On The Way To ConFusion

With an Alberta Clipper bearing down on the Great Lakes, I kept a "weather eye" on the weather, so to speak. But Friday dawned as a cold but partly sunny day -- actually warmed up to the upper 20s or so by the afternoon. By the time I got to ConFusion, the weather was still clear, but the wind picked up. Biting wind. While I hid in the hotel on Saturday, the winds roared through, gusting up to 60mph and Sunday morning there was a report of some 96,000 homes without power.


Looking west to go south to go east... at the edge of campus, on the way to Dearborn/Detroit by 3pm. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2012)
The Long Day

Four of my five panels, plus my reading, were all today. Pretty much only did my sessions, plus meeting people. Very satisfying day -- I mean, somebody has to help provide the content for all the people here. Passing the Registration desk today, I asked and found that we're over 800 here at Immortal ConFusion 2013.

Still not impressed with the new hotel, but I'll save it all for a good rant afterwards.

Saturday 19 January 2013
11:00a
Dearborn
Doing It Wrong... On Purpose
Story trumps all; sometimes research takes a backseat, anachronism becomes expedience, and logic needs to curl up next to physics and cry. What have authors deliberately done wrong to further the story? Do they have favorite examples of such? How does one do something "wrong" right? (Dr. Phil Kaldon, Holly McDowell, James Davis Nicoll (M), Laurie Gailunas, Ron Collins)

Lively discussion on the things we have to do for story. So are you "allowed" one impossible thing in a story before you lose your readers? Two? (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


The room wasn't completely full, so technically it wasn't Standing Room Only, but there was some crowding over by the door. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And... A Balloon T.A.R.D.I.S. and a Dalek? (Yesterday someone had put a folded paper crane on the Dalek's plunger arm -- hee-hee.)

The balloon artist was funded by ConFusion -- as was the grant to build the Dalek the other year and require the builders to bring the Dalek for a couple of years. The laptop by the T.A.R.D.I.S. shows the balloon artist building it in Fast Forward. A little annoyed that I must've been fooled by the leaning T.A.R.D.I.S., so the picture isn't quite level. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

More coming.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2012)
I'm Here

So far, not totally impressed with the Doubletree Dearborn -- I miss the Troy Marriott. But... it's ConFusion, so here we go!

Friday 18 January 2013
7:00p
Dearborn
Planning The Perfect Murder
Television and movies have given us the impression that forensic scientists are modern day wizards. In the real world, things work a little differently. This panel discusses the ways that television gets it wrong, both in what police can and can't do. Then they work out how to get away with murder...all in the name of fiction, of course. (Diana Rowland (M), Dr. Phil Kaldon, Sam Sykes)

First Panel -- Made it just in time, though I didn't have my registration badge until afterwards. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Dave Klecha ran Programming this year. Here he is just outside the Michigan room after the Opening Ceremonies, as people waited for the Dessert Reception over in Erie to open. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Ran into my Clarion/WOTF pal Al Bogdan in the ConSuite. The really SMALL ConSuite in Room 124. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

On the other hand, the ConSuite DID have cashews. And the traditional con peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Some things you just can't tamper with. (grin)

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-confusion-2012)
Immortal ConFusion
18-20 January 2013

Doubletree Hotel Detroit/Dearborn‎
5801 Southfield Road
Detroit, MI 48228

It's almost time to drive across the width of Michigan and whoop it up in a ConFusion sort of way. They've got the Programming Schedule up on the ConFusion website now. So here's my five panels and a reading:
Friday 18 January 2013
7:00p
Dearborn
Planning The Perfect Murder
Television and movies have given us the impression that forensic scientists are modern day wizards. In the real world, things work a little differently. This panel discusses the ways that television gets it wrong, both in what police can and can't do. Then they work out how to get away with murder...all in the name of fiction, of course. (Diana Rowland (M), Dr. Phil Kaldon, Sam Sykes)

Saturday 19 January 2013
11:00a
Dearborn
Doing It Wrong... On Purpose
Story trumps all; sometimes research takes a backseat, anachronism becomes expedience, and logic needs to curl up next to physics and cry. What have authors deliberately done wrong to further the story? Do they have favorite examples of such? How does one do something "wrong" right? (Dr. Phil Kaldon, Holly McDowell, James Davis Nicoll (M), Laurie Gailunas, Ron Collins)

2:00p
Ontario
Let's Remake Star Wars
Star Wars stands as one of the most influential science fiction franchises in the world, but the titular movie is now 35 years old. In an era when a movie half that age is ripe for a remake, why would Star Wars be immune? What would a post 9/11, technologically more advanced original trilogy look like? How would characters change, as an audience would know who were twins, who gets the girl, and who is the father? Does the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012 make this more likely, or less? (Dick Smith, Dr. Phil Kaldon (M), Josh Parker, Michael Underwood, Saladin Ahmed)

3:00p
Model T
Reading: Dr. Phil Kaldon & Mary Turzillo
Join Dr. Phil Kaldon & Mary Turzillo as they read from forthcoming works. (Dr. Phil Kaldon, Mary Turzillo)

4:00p
Dearborn
Lady Voldemort
How would Harry Potter have changed if the ultimate dark lord had been a female? (Dr. Phil Kaldon, Jim C. Hines (M), Sarah Zettel, Steven Harper Piziks)

8:00p
Dearborn
Pop Culture In SF/F
Fantasy has its urchins, Sci-Fi the dilettantes...but what about everyone else? When crafting a world either fantastic or futuristic, what do we imagine that the common folk would do for fun? What news or events would they discuss? Would they know what village produced the most heroes, or debate the thrust/weight ratio of government warships? Would there be a general popular culture in an imagined past? Could we avoid one in an imagined future? Does the addition of these elements do more than aid verisimilitude? (Brian McClellan, Dr. Phil Kaldon (M), Holly McDowell, Lawrence Schoen, Sam Sykes)


(Click on map for larger.)

So if you're at this end of the globe, come join us for a weekend of SF/F fun. We're in a new hotel this year and the weather... well the weather is expected to be coldish and there may be some snow. But I'm not seeing the blizzard we got one ConFusion a few years ago. (grin) Anyway, Monday is a university holiday -- MLK Day -- so should I get snowed in...

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (kate-robot-chicken)
Back In The Mid-80s

When we moved to Laurium MI in the Upper Peninsula and Mrs. Dr. Phil started her job at the Michigan Tech library, we started off without a lot of money. The old mining house we rented was an odd duck, "renovated" by the landlord would be one way of putting it. But it was warm and comfortable enough.

At some point, possibly after our October 1984 formal wedding, we decided to buy a chest freezer for the basement, so we could take advantage of storing some of the leftovers, baked goods, meats and things on sale. We looked at several at the local Hancock hardware store, and settled on a 6 cu.ft. Whirlpool chest freezer -- a sort of beige colored cube. The salesman wanted us to get the larger rectangular 9 cu.ft. unit, but we liked the look of the little 6 cu.ft., plus without kids how much freezer storage did we really need? The kicker was there was a scratch on the front kickplate of the floor model, so we got it for about fifty bucks off the price.

A trip to Ace Hardware in Calumet got me some wiring, a box, outlet and a new circuit breaker and we had the unit resting on two very heavy boards I'd acquired somewhere from a shipping crate.

The freezer was moved twice -- once to Henry Street in Allendale, where it survived about a year-and-a-half in the garage, subject to heat and cold, and then in the basement in the current house for the last twenty-some years.

Which Brings Us To Sunday Morning

Mrs. Dr. Phil went downstairs to get the second dozen bagels we bought before Christmas. And found they were not frozen. Also a little fuzzy in the bag. Also that the freezer smelled BAD when opened. Yup, it died -- death date unknown.

Now some people would be really upset at losing tons of food in a dead freezer, but really, though the freezer was stuffed, we just lost the bagels. Everything else in there was old. We used to buy frozen pizzas on sale to have a cheap quick meal from time to time, but I can't remember the last time we did that -- so the couple of pizzas in there were at least five years old. And the other things were of even more depressing vintages. There was a plastic tub of chicken stock on the bottom that had a paper tape label of June 1993 or something like that on it! Enough frost had accumulated that there was a couple of inches of water in the bottom once the contents was removed.

So really, the lost food was pretty much amortized over the last twenty years, so a dozen bagels from the bagel store in Holland is pretty much small potatoes, to mix our food metaphors here.

Six cubic feet ended up as three garbage bags, too much to fit in our old Rubbermaid trash bin. But the overnight temps have been about 19°F, so leaving one of the bags outside the garage before the midweek trash hasn't been a problem.

The Ironic Wrinkle

Saturday was our 29th anniversary (judicial version). Rather than going out, Mrs. Dr. Phil made a really wonderful batch of spaghetti with eggplant and turkey Italian sausage, flavored with a very nice Spanish red wine. And capers. Since she'd shopped at the D&W in Holland, we also had a loaf of a garlic sage sourdough bread. Oh, seriously YUM.

Which meant that we had nice big slices of garlic sage sourdough bread instead of moldy bagels for our late Sunday breakfast downstairs with the Sunday paper. (grin)

When Mrs. Dr. Phil posted on Facebook that we'd lost the freezer, many of our friends immediately decided that she deserved a new freezer as an anniversary present. "so what IS the proper gift for 29 years -- white-goods, by any chance?" Turns out, according to one website, 29 years is furniture. Didn't say what kind. Well, we did use the lid of the freezer for some tasks...

Seriously, though, we don't really need a chest freezer. My folks had bought a big double door freezer back in Medina one winter when we bought a big chunk of a cow -- half or a quarter, I don't remember. And in Greensboro, we ended up with a 2nd refrigerator in the shop to handle the overflow of produce from the garden, etc. But with just Mother at home, we unplugged that last year. We don't need the reserve.

Still, the big upstairs refrigerator is as old as our house -- about twenty years -- so maybe we'll budget a new fridge this summer. Be proactive and replace it before we have a product emergency. That and the dishwasher sometime.

Ah, entropy.

Dr. Phil

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