October Ends

Friday, 30 October 2015 09:45
dr_phil_physics: (autumn-snoopy)
I got snowed on yesterday.

Oh, it wasn't at all serious. And it isn't all that unusual for West Michigan to see flakeage sometime in October. And there was no accumulation -- it was 41°F, after all. But I did see many small white things falling out of the sky in Kalamazoo as I finished my drive in on Thursday. And there were still flakes falling on me as I walkered from Blazer to Everett.

The month is ending with cold, wet weather. Will even rain on the little kiddies on Saturday's Halloween. November, however, is going to start with a week in the 60s, even 70s, and sunshine. Go figure.

Wednesday was Exam 2 day in both my classes. Unlike Monday and Tuesday, which started in the 30s, I realized it was 50°F at 7:30, with a high of about 55°F. Since I don't have a proper raincoat currently, I use a waterproof winter coat. I skipped the heavy sweatshirt, since I would've broiled with sweatshirt and coat in the rain -- and I can turn up the heat in the Blazer on the drive. Good call, because the heating system in Everett/Rood was caught off guard. It was hot and humid inside. In fact, the front door to Rood Hall was propped open with a rock.

As for the exams, in a fifty minute class, I'd like to see the first papers turned in between the 20-30 minute mark for PHYS-1070 and 30-40 minutes for PHYS-2070. The former clocked in at just fourteen minutes -- pretty much no one finished before time was called in PHYS-2070. Guess there'll be a curve. Just joking, there's always a curve.

Gas as $2.18.9/gal this morning in Allendale. It's been jumping around this week, sometimes with very different pricing on nearby gas stations, instead of the usual gentlemen's agreement colluding slash responding to market forces. Low of $2.14.9 and high of $2.38.9/gal. The latter, alas, was at the Shell station in Wayland, where I sometimes gas up on the way home. They also are the only station I use with a 29¢ differential, instead of 20¢/gal.

Guess gas prices this week are as uncertain as the weather.

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (autumn-snoopy)
So, it's the One-st of October -- and we've had a full week of autumn now.

Took a while for the weather to sort itself out. The week before the equinox, summer ended on a cool note. But for most of the first week of fall, we had maybe three days with highs in the 83° to 89°F range, then days in the 70s which were just putrid. High humidity, with air you could shovel. Everett's air conditioning has been irregular since before the semester started and it was brutally humid in the buildings. Not only was there no point in trying to do a Van de Graf generator demo in E&M, my hands were sticking to the wrist rest on OUEST, the university's Dell laptop... Ugh.

Wednesday morning the temp was about 41°F. Today it was clear and 39°F. Ah-hhh, this is better.

There are leaves down in some places, but not a lot of color yet. It was funny that on the 23rd or 24th, as I drove up to my handicapped parking space, there are these two relatively recent maples in the lawn by Everett Tower. The one on the right -- half the big leaves were green and half were sort of beige. The breeze was blowing a snowstorm of beige leaves onto the ground. It looked like something you'd see on a cartoon, or maybe the pine needles falling off all at once on Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. (grin) We're talking about knocking off all the beige leaves in minutes, not hours or days or weeks. Very odd looking.

Maybe October will bring some pleasant cool jacket weather -- and some great leaf color. We shall see.

No pictures yet.

Dr. Phil
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Thursday, 3 September 2015 12:50
dr_phil_physics: (good-gulf)
Last week of August and the weather was practically fall-like. The highs in the 70s, except for one day where I think it only got up to 69°F. Lows were in the 50s, and even the high 40s.

It's September now and... ugh.

Yesterday was one of the top five hot days of 2015. Still didn't break 90°F in Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo, although Mount Pleasant was 90°F on Tuesday and 91°F on Wednesday. Lows have been in the high 60s, low 70s. Heavy fog Tuesday morning. Lighter fog Wednesday morning. And Thursday? Murk. As in humid.

The air feels awful. And in prepping for the Fall Semester -- starts Tuesday! -- I came into Kalamazoo twice. Wednesday and now Thursday. Yesterday was pleasant. But today... ugh. The A.C. in Everett Tower is doing nothing. The air is just as thick and heavy and damp as outside, albeit a little bit cooler. As in a few degrees. Not sure how long it is practical to be here today, although I now hear a background rumbling in the building. Is the A.C. back on? We'll know in a while.

Right now, not only is my skin clammy, but my palms are sticking to the wrist wrest on OUEST. (Say that fast six times!) Thankfully, years ago I rigged up a Radio Shack 110V 5" computer cooling fan and have the air circulating in my little office.

It feels cooler if I turn the overhead lights off.

At home, I had the annual heat pump and furnace checks done on Tuesday, and the big accordion pleated air filter replaced -- not sure that got done last year. But we're in good shape. Had the batteries changed in the thermostat controller. 3xAAA and the old ones tested in the yellow on my tester, so glad I thought of that. High tech worries on a system that used to use just a simple coiled bimetallic strip and a glass bead with two wires and a drop of mercury. Progress.

Gas prices. Well, the BP refinery in Indiana is back in operation. I suppose you could say that gas prices are dropping, though they never seem to fall as fast as they rise. This all while crude oil is running under $40/bbl and in fact is so low that the dreaded fracking oil sources are shutting down exploration and calming down production because oil is too cheap to pay the bills. I'd say that the free market is doing what environmentalists were unable to do to save the planet -- except oil is not exactly a free market.

After regular topped locally at $2.99.9/gal, it dropped to $2.72.9 last week. Wednesday is was $2.52.9/gal and Thursday $2.50.9/gal. "They" are still talking about under two buck a gallon gas by Christmas -- it was supposed to before Labor Day, but then the BP in Indiana "crisis" flared up.

The big summer road projects are beginning to show signs of getting somewhere. Usually during the summer I take "the back way" to connect from M-45 Lake Michigan Drive to M-11 Wilson Avenue. It's curvy and pleasant and takes you away from the big parking lots and three sets of traffic lights at the Meijers in Standale. But... this summer they took out and replaced a bridge. Then they did roadwork on Wilson. And they are currently rebuilding the M-11 28th Street/I-196 intersection and interchange, resulting in me avoiding that area and some ugly detours. Just as well I didn't have summer classes this year.

The bridge on the back road is done and yesterday they were painting a few miles of lines on all the shiny new pavement. Yay. Similarly the new paving on Wilson is done. And all four legs of the I-196 interchange are open again, so I can use my usual routing if I so choose again.

As for Western Michigan University, one can't complain that they don't want to finish up New Student Week with a bang:
The Bronco football team opens its season with a matchup vs. Michigan State at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Sept. 4, at Waldo Stadium. Many WMU offices will close at 2:30 p.m. in anticipation of increased traffic on campus.
Western has never beaten a Big 10 opponent -- and the Spartans are highly ranked nationally. I believe only Ohio State has a better national ranking in the Big 10. Of course rankings mean nothing now and very little later when they are used to justify the networks' choices for bowl games and the mythical pseudo-playoff national champion.

However... I expect Western to give it a good start. And I'll post the results Friday night with the appropriate school LJ icon for the winner. Full disclosure -- I work at Western and indeed worked for a while on a second Ph.D. in Science Education here AND I like Michigan State and have something like two Continuing Education credits from them for taking the six week 2004 Clarion workshop when it was still held in East Lansing.

Tuesday will be a parking zoo on campus. Fortunately, I have the handicapped hangtag, which means I don't have to compete for parking spaces. See, they don't actually ticket students for parking in faculty spots for the first two weeks or so -- and the students know this.

Ugh, indeed.

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (kate-winter-coat)
While some 75+ wildfires are roaring out West -- Sasquan, the 73rd WorldCon just concluded in Spokane WA, was heavy with smoke some days, even could be smelled inside the convention center -- our weather here in West Michigan is just a wee mite different.

Last full week of August and the highs have been 69°F, 66°F, 60°F and 68°F so far today. Overnights the last two nights have been in the fifties. Gray, overcast days and rain.

The last two mornings one could have, in theory, moved the heat pump over from cooling to heating. I've been wearing my heavy black sweatshirt all week.

Ah, weather. Unpredictable in its infinite variations on a theme.

For the record, the global average temperature for July 2015 was the warmest in the database.

Interesting side note -- I saw a map of the smoke plumes from the fires out West and they almost make it to Illinois. Don't worry about global warming heat waves and drought, we'll just let it all burn and then block out the sun and create untold -illions of nucleation sites for rain to form. (snort)

Also, the BP refinery in Indiana is back up again, so everyone burn all the gasoline you want for Labor Day!

And the selling frenzy on Wall Street has cooled off a bit, too. The Dow closed at 16,285.51, up 619.07 (3.95%) today. Doesn't negate all of the slide from last week, but even so. Stay the course, good buddies...

Dr. Phil
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dr_phil_physics: (wmu-logo)
Wednesday ended up being a good day -- a very productive day.

It almost wasn't.

Late Tuesday night a storm rolled through while I was preparing handouts for a Wednesday meeting. Yes, I have surge protectors -- even on laptops -- but still. If things are going bad, then you just know they'll go all the way to putrid if they have a chance. Meanwhile, the forecast for Wednesday had a nasty line of thunderstorms rolling through Kalamazoo and the US-131 corridor between 11am and noon -- just when I would be expecting to arrive in K-zoo.

Why don't you leave earlier, Dr. Phil? Sure. If I had planned on leaving early, say on a school day, I would be going to bed earlier -- not working on a number of things on the computer until after 3am. I've been using mornings as nap time after getting up with Mrs. Dr. Phil and getting armored up in my foot brace. Left to myself, I'm afraid I tend to go to bed around 4am... I am not going to try to stupidly function on 2-3 hours of sleep.

What was bad about the forecast wasn't just rain, but big storm. 60mph winds. Hail. See, I work really hard to keep my bad foot dry. It was storm water getting into an open blister on my foot which probably caused the initial infection back in April 2013 -- and I'm still recovering from that. Also I still have a hole in my foot, though these days it doesn't go down to the bone. And it's one thing to get in and try to be careful when one is teaching. But for a meeting? Pfft. Alas, rescheduling was going to be complicated.

But by 7:35 in the morning, the Weather Channel app on my Kindle Fire HD was showing that the line of storms wasn't going to come in until 1pm. That was the time of the meeting, so I'd already be on campus. In fact, it never did rain -- percentages were dropping steadily during the day -- not until after dinner in the evening.

So after a nap, quick check of emails, bathroom, a hard boiled egg -- we added an egg to my diet to bring my protein levels up and promote healing, but it's easier to mess with the egg at home (grin) -- I gathered up my stuff and headed out. Time out logged in the Blazer was 10:11.

Gas has been flirting between $2.38.9 and $2.89.9/gal for the last month or so. And then it's been going down -- "$2 gas for Labor Day" said the pundits. Until last week when it shot up 30¢ one day and 30¢ the next, eventually pinging up at $2.99.9/gal for regular. Seems a BP refinery in Indiana was unexpectedly down. This after the gas mavens were already nervous about a West Coast refinery outage, even though there's no way for gasoline to easily cross the Rockies, so their shortage shouldn't have affected Midwest prices. Anyway, this morning regular was $2.87.9, making midgrade $3.07.9 -- except I had a 75¢/gal coupon from Family Failure -- which made it $2.32.9/gal. "$2 gas for Christmas" say the pundits this week.

Don't you love it when your 75¢ discount just happens to be magically eaten up by the 60¢ spike plus the 20¢ grade differential?

The drive in was mostly sunny, with some big clouds playing in between blue patches of sky. It was humid and unfortunately, the A.C. on the Blazer has been getting more and more anemic with each passing week. We'll take it in for a recharge tomorrow. But I couldn't just open the windows. I've been on doxycycline for over a year, and while I've not had much problem with it being a photoreactive antibiotic, in truth I am a little mole person who doesn't get much direct sun. And I needed the UV protection of the glass.

But I got in. My usual handicapped parking space was there. I made copies of the handout I'd written in the wee hours. No problem with making the 1pm meeting.

See I'm teaching PHYS-1070 Elementary Physics this fall -- the 29th time I've taught this course -- and we are switching to a free online Physics textbook. One that we're using for PHYS-1130/1150, the full year course. For the one-semester PHYS-1070, I've been working on chopping it down to a reasonable amount of material. The meeting was about the PHYS-1080 lab course, which is getting completely updated for the first time in a long time. To put it another way, some of the labs previously used had been typed... Making it all interesting is that the three largest group of majors taking this course are pretty different -- Aviation, Speech Pathology and Exercise Science. Good meeting. The lab people have been working hard.

Oh, and while I was on campus, I downloaded the textbook onto my second Kindle Fire HD -- 93MB took about 15 seconds. This is what happens when the WiFi nodes are hooked up to gigabit Internet. At home the DSL is the limiting factor, not the WiFi. My students will have no excuses. (big-grin)

Lunch back at my office. Then a 3pm conference call with the care facility in North Carolina where my mother is these days. Hmm, is it still a conference call when only one person is on the other end? Anyway, things are stable. Stable is good.

Rechecked the Weather Channel app -- no rain until at least 8pm now. No particular reason I had to stay until 5pm or later, so Elvis Left The Building at 4:35. Campus is pretty empty right now. By next week things will begin hopping. So, I took this opportunity to go left, instead of right, out of Lot 61. HEY! They finally fixed the road markings! A couple of years ago they changed the left and right turn lanes onto the street into a single exit lane, to make the entrance lane bigger. Because they had created a new bus stop, taking up a chunk of the parking lot and they needed the clearance for the buses to make the turn. But they put in the new new bus stop last year -- or was it the year before -- freeing back up all the parking spaces. Unfortunately, they left only one exit lane. So normally I turn right and at 5pm I'd be stuck behind all these idiots waiting to turn left onto a traffic jam.

Anyway, the point of my turning left was to go down to Parking Services and get my '15-'16 campus parking hangtag. Yes, as part of the Part-Time Instructors union contract we finally got real parking permits. Before I had to get a temporary permit every semester, which was taped to the far side of the windshield and had to be peeled off and moved if I was driving a different vehicle.

Next week they'll be lines out the doors with grad students, part-timers and some campus apartment dwellers all getting parking. Today? No line. Two wads of people obviously together -- and three clerks. So at 4:45, I was in and out in minutes. Don't even have to sign any stupid paperwork anymore either.

Coming out there was another SUV in one of the 15 minute business parking spots past my Blazer in the Handicapped parking. A black family was standing around their tailgate. In the middle of the parking lot lane was a trio of blonds. Apparently the girls on the right had realized that the college student girl on the left with her family was in their dorm -- and they'd gone over to help the family figure out the byzantine paperwork and parking procedures. Ah... one group of students feeding the hard won arcane knowledge to the next student. Gotta love college.

Easy drive home, except for playing sun battles again. Amazing how you end up with drivers arm in both directions between morning and evening. How is this fair? (evil-grin)

We're getting closer to being operational for Fall 2015...

Dr. Phil
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Sunday, 16 August 2015 17:48
dr_phil_physics: (red-haven-peaches)
31 days of August.

That makes August 15½th, a few hours ago, the halfway point.

In just a little over three weeks we will have Labor Day. And the next day classes begin again at Western Michigan University. The grind begins anew.

It is a beautiful August day here in West Michigan. The sky is blue. The temperature is 89°F, once again Not Ninety. At least so far.

Under other circumstances I would be out with my cameras and long lenses, maybe over at the crowded lakeshore. Or chasing trains, except it's Sunday.

At home, though, it is August bug noise season. The last few nights when I have gone to bed after 4am, the bugs have still be going -- and loud enough that I think the bedroom window needs to be closed. But it is closed.

Every morning I check my temperature. But the new Walgreen's thermometer I got a few weeks ago beeps so quietly, I had to do a repeat to try to hear its DONE tone, because the bugs outside were so loud.

Right now I have headphones on and Mrs. Dr. Phil has Bluetoothed her Kindle Fire HDX to Echo and is playing podcasts while she cooks. And I can still hear the bugs.


There are reasons why we haven't mowed the yard in over ten years...

And we have peaches. Flaming Furies and Red Havens. And big local tomatoes.


It's lovely.

It's August.

It's summer.

Limited availability, your mileage will vary, check your newspaper for current listings, offer not valid in all fifty states...

Dr. Phil
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90? 90!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015 14:32
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
The official weather temperatures are not always the same as we imagine it or what some local thermometer is saying. As I've reported earlier, we've flirted with 90°F temps in West Michigan, but neither Grand Rapids nor Kalamazoo actually officially hit 90°. Until now.

I thought we'd hit 90° on Friday 17 July 2015 (DW) (LJ), but that was just our thermometers here in Allendale and not the official GR or Kzoo reports.

Monday night's forecast, pointed out that there were 90s in Michigan on Monday. 91° in Sault Ste. Marie and Alpena, 90° in Marquette. Those are all in northern Michigan. But the forecast 90s here didn't materialize.

Tuesday, though, we finally did it. Holland reported 91°F -- they may have hit 90° earlier. And Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo both hit 90°.

For Kalamazoo, it had been 326 days since the last temps of 90° or higher -- that would be 5 September 2014.

For Grand Rapids, it was even longer. 683 days or 13 September 2013. That was way back when I was in the hospital for The Year Without A Summer. Hard to believe that Grand Rapids never hit 90° all last summer, but then both last year and this year Lake Michigan had almost frozen over -- and the cold lake water has moderated the temperatures here in West Michigan.

Remember, kids, climate and weather are not the same thing. And that climate change involves churning which will give highs and lows.

Dr. Phil
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Saturday, 18 July 2015 11:20
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
Friday 17 July 2015 -- the temperature in West Michigan topped 90°. Hot muggy.

Big deal, I hear you say. And on our trip South before the 4th of July, the temperatures all through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia were all in the 80s and 90s. And when we came down out of the mountains on I-77 and onto I-74 in North Carolina? By Mt. Airy it was 101°F.

But when we got back on the 2nd, I was surprised to hear the Channel 3 weather guy saying that there'd only been ten days of temps in the 80s in West Michigan so far this year. Even last week a couple of possible days above 90°F didn't get that high. And the shore report had the Lake Michigan temperature in one location coming in at 38°F. In July.

No Global Warming? Hardly. The cool summer is due to the cold winter -- for the second winter in a row, Lake Michigan almost froze over. Instabilities in the weather patterns had pushed a big blob of cold Siberian air over the Pole and striking down into Canada and the Great Lakes in the U.S. I keep saying, global warming means churning -- and sometimes you get more cold and more snow in some places, even as the average land and ocean temperatures rise.

Today is supposed to be really ugly, temperaturewise. 96°F forecast, will feel like 101-105°F with the big muggy humidity. First, though, we had to have a big nasty storm line roll through. One of the news commenters on Facebook had posted the radar picture and the forecast saying 0% chance of rain -- the storm was moving through so fast it wasn't showing up in the predictions correctly. Our house in the country got slammed, big time.

And... the power went out at 9:45am. We were lounging in bed, listening to Weekend Edition on NPR. The radio had cut out around 9:30 when the timer finished. Restart. So when it went out at 9:45, I first thought it was either the clock radio or the radio station. But Mrs. Dr. Phil said the power was out. By the time I turned my head, the clock near me was blinking 12:00 ... 12:00 ... 12:00.

The storm was hitting the west, bedroom, side of the house so hard I never heard the generator start up. And it started right up, because our power locally was only out for maybe four seconds. Storm is long gone, but the power is still out -- approaching the two hour mark.

Happy summer...

Dr. Phil
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35 50 Fight

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 17:12
dr_phil_physics: (7of9borg)
Well, we finally had a day where the high in Allendale topped fifty -- the highest I had at home was 50.8°F. Yesterday was supposed to be partly cloudy, but instead we had foggy and overcast all day. Today started out even foggier, but by midday, was all blue skies and sunshine. Lots of melting going on.

Yesterday I did go out to shoot some black & white film in my second Nikon F3 -- the F3blue with the MD-4 motor drive I got at Christmas (DW). I decided to try the 35-135mm f3.5-4.5 AF NIKKOR that came with the Kodak Pro SLR/n, and it turned out relatively easy to use as an AI manual focus lens. The push-pull zoom is very smooth and the focusing ring turns really easily. The Nikon F3 Type R focusing screen I bought, designed for running the split-image rangefinder with f3.5 to f5.6 lenses, worked very well, and the grid lines in the R screen are just bonus for when you're twisting and turning to shoot from the driver's seat of a vehicle.

Again, this is why you buy professional equipment.

A couple of weeks ago I realized that three of my 35mm Nikons were coming up on the ends of their rolls -- the F3blue, F4s and the N2020 -- and I'd started all the rolls I'd bought in 2013-14 when I got home from the hospital the first time. So, since I don't shoot film all that often, I just got four different rolls of pro film -- two B&W and two color negative, all C-41 color process.

So I was pleased to finish up the roll of Ilford XP-2 ISO 400 black & white film in the F3 yesterday. Pleased other than I missed one good shot: after circling around, I was coming up to 48th Avenue westbound on M-45 and to my left were two cars. Both were at 45° to the intersection and there was zero gap between them. My guess is that the little car pulled a right turn on red right into a car going straight on M-45. Or else the bigger car ran the red light. Either way, I had the perfect sight angle for shooting right between the cars as I sat at the light. Grabbed the F3, zoomed to 135mm, focused, pressed the shutter release. Nothing. As I put the camera down when the light turned green, I saw the red LED on which said I was at the end of the roll.

Because I had been shooting the F3 since December in the cold, I used the countdown counter on the MD-4 motor drive. It has enough torque to rip frozen film off the spool if you're not careful. So I wasn't sure if I had really hit the end of the roll, or the end minus 1, meaning I could've had one more shot. Actually, no. When I changed rolls this afternoon the shutter was only partly cocked, so I was at the end. Well, I've missed pictures before. It happens. Especially when you're dealing with only 36 exposures (or 24) and not 2GB or more of flash drive. And realize, if I had a digital SLR with me, I might not have had it out of the case, or had a long enough lens on it to get the shot I wanted.

So I had two errands to do in Allendale this week. Being a clever person, I figured I could do the Walgreen's trip today -- and then tomorrow or Friday do the other errand and pick up the negatives and Photo CD. Alas, not to be.

I've used Walgreen's for the C-41 processing and scanning because it was convenient. Their scanner only goes to 1 megapixel, but even that's enough to reduce to around 600x400 pixels for webpages. And the color has been good, and especially the richness coming from film.

New person at the Photo desk at Walgreen's, no problem, she called in the manager. Get my phone number, start the order. Two rolls, develop, Photo CD, proof picture, no prints.

Um, they don't do that anymore.

I mean, I had been impressed that they still did enough photo business to do 1 Hour developing in-house. Alas, those days are gone. They've contracted out to some third-party lab. And these guys do not return the negatives.

Do. Not. Return. The. Negatives.

First of all, totally unacceptable for professional film. Second, I haven't even seen any of the scans these new guys can do. With the 1MP scans I'd been getting, I had the negatives, which meant if I really needed to, I could send individual strips out to get them professionally scanned at a higher rate. But without the negatives, totally at the mercy of the lab.

For those of you who grew up on digital and have never used film -- or have forgotten -- the negatives are the real photograph. Scanner has dust on it or set wrong? JPEG corrupted on the Photo CD? Scan it again. It's the backup.

And remember, too, there is nothing wrong with this 33-year-old camera. Or the 20-25 year old zoom lens.

Now some of you might be clever enough to comment that, "well, you already don't get your checks back from the bank." And that's true. But there are differences. Check verification from a scanned check doesn't require a very good image. And technically, you do lose forensic information if you were doing some big criminal probe, such as fingerprints, pen pressure, ink brands, etc. But mostly we can live with our old bank scanned checks, even if new technology comes along.

Negatives aren't like that. As I said, they can be scanned by better scanners and more skilled operators.

My camera store in Grand Rapids, on Fulton between John Ball Park and GVSU's downtown campus, is gone. They managed to survive the 90s, but somewhere around when we got our first digital camera in 2003, they went away. There is still a pro-capable camera store in West Michigan, but their G.R. store is way on the other end of town and their Kalamazoo store is way on the end of town. That's why I've never checked their photo processing. Otherwise, it's one of the real pro labs which require shipping. And, quite frankly, more expense.

After I check out to see what Meijers is doing (close) or Costco (other side of G.R.), which is who pro guru Ken Rockwell gets some of his film processing done in California.

We'll see.

Dr. Phil
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We Made It...

Monday, 9 March 2015 12:15
dr_phil_physics: (cinderella-fabletown)
... across another rift in the space-time continuum (DW) on Sunday. We think we're all right, but by the evening it was clear that the sun had moved and was higher in the sky than it was on Saturday.


One thing about not teaching this semester, I don't have to deal with the vernal equinox. Or more specifically, the east-west sunrise/sunsets. Despite my working part-time, given nearly three hours of commuting, there are many semesters where I get to deal with heading east on roads dead into the rising sun. And some schedules I have had to also deal with heading west on roads dead into the setting sun. Oh, I have a clever system to defeat the sun from searing my eyeballs, using an old library catalog card stuck under the lid to the vanity mirror on the driver's sunshade to hang down as an extra shield, but there's a week or two of low sun to deal with in both the Spring and Fall semesters.

It always amazes me that (a) people still drive at full speed directly into the sun and (b) there aren't more terrible accidents.

But... there is sun today. In fact, we're in the middle of a week or more of sunny days. And over the weekend the highs hit 42°F. This week the highs will be from 45°F all the way up to 52°F -- actual temperatures will likely vary from forecasts. (grin) Realize that the low Thursday morning was 0°F and Friday was 8°F. We're likely to have lows than don't get below freezing Real Soon Now.

All this means that there is a great deal of melting going on. I haven't checked the snow totals between last winter and this, but the big difference between 2014 and 2015 was when the extreme cold and snow hit. This year it has been more February than January. So the snow totals have snuck up us. Same with the Great Lakes ice coverage. Subzero weather in February, especially a few nights below zero with little wind, has just sucked the heat out of the lakes. The percentage of ice coverage had jumped from 50% to over 80% in 2½ weeks. "The entire Great Lakes is at 88.8 percent ice coverage, with the highest totals coming from Lake Huron and Lake Erie at about 96 percent ice coverage, according to NOAA. Mar 1, 2015"

That was a week ago.

This week, you can really see how this warmup has affected Lake Michigan:
                  3/8/2015  3/8/2014
Great Lakes        78.5%     90.8%
Lake Superior      89.3%     91.8%
Lake Michigan      48.6% **  92.9%
Lake Huron         91.9%     94.7%
Lake Erie          93.3%     95.3%
Lake Ontario       44.9%     52.1%

** Two weeks ago they were talking about Lake Michigan 
freezing over completely.

Data: The NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
It's too early to declare this Spring, for sure. And a few days of 40s and 50s do not mean we've seen the last of the weather. But compared to the incessant drubbing that places like Boston have gotten this winter -- or Buffalo when it was still called "autumn" -- West Michigan doesn't have the same level to complain about.

Certainly not the worst in Michigan. The Northern Lower Peninsula has seen lots of sub-zero temperatures. And MLive is circulating a story from the Lansing State Journal marveling about Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie:
You're the president of Lake Superior State University in the U.P., home of the mascot Fog Horn the Sailor. The thermometer outside your ivy tower office reads minus 40. Not wind chill. An actual number of 40 below zero.

Well, a normal person would send out an email blast to the 2,500 hearty souls on campus: Stay Home. No school today.

Not Tom Pleger, who is the president up there in Sault Ste. Marie. He kept the doors wide open open and he reports, with a smile, that students survived. In fact he attests that many of those students come there for the U.P. outdoor experience.

But 40 below? Are they that desperate for that kind of experience?

"Students safely made it to class. Business continued, and we're in the U.P. and we are tough." And that, he indicates, applies to students and faculty alike, including the president.

"I walk to work," the native of Wisconsin reveals, and after telling everyone to wear mittens and bundle up, he crossed the windblown campus and encountered a "student in shorts." Pleger figures it was an athlete just leaving the university gym.


In fact one of those students confided to the president that when he came home from spring break, the temp swing was 130 degrees.
Yeah. Almost forgot. It's Spring Break week for Western Michigan University. (grin)

Oh, and kids? Remember you don't have to specify the temperature scale at -40°. Same for Fahrenheit and Centigrade -- can't happen in the absolute scales of Kelvin and Rankine.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (good-gulf)
Since I'm not driving to Kzoo every day -- or even every day at all -- I haven't been beset by watching the gas prices every day. Hence the lack of reports here. However, it's still all insanity.

We had gotten down to $1.77.9/gal, and briefly even lower. Then prices settled in the mid-1.80s and low-1.90s. In the last two weeks prices suddenly jumped up to over two bucks. Mrs. Dr. Phil caught herself thinking OUTRAGEOUS -- then realizing how outrageous it truly was to be outraged by paying two bucks for a gallon of gas.

On Friday gas was $2.26.9/gal, and I filled with mid-grade at $2.41.9/gal (OUTRAGE, I say!). But...

Yesterday, Tuesday, I saw that the same gas station was "down" to $2.20.9/gal. Heading back out of town, I saw Admiral, which always likes to mess with people, had regular at $2.14.9/gal.

Today, Wednesday, seventeen hours later -- and the two main stations in town, Family Failure and Mobil, were at $2.38.9/gal and $2.39.9/gal respectively.

Similar odd happenings are happening with the temperature.

End of last week it got in the mid-30s and briefly got up to 41°F. Then it dropped to single digits over the weekend. And we're back up to mid-30s. With freezing drizzle and possible black ice on the previously dry and cleared roads.

As for Saturday night, every forecast keeps lowering the overnight low. A friend on Facebook said earlier in the week that one of the long range models pegged Grand Rapids at -22.1°F for a low. The Weather Channel app was predicting -4° to zero. Now it's down to -8°F for Allendale. Then over the next week the temps porpoise up and down, no two days looking like the other.

Ah, making light of Michigan's "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes".

Meanwhile, John Schoffstall of my 2004 Clarion class wants to know exactly what terrible thing Boston had done. Because it's getting hit with snow storm after snow storm -- and not inconsequential ones at that. I don't think they'll be dug out from this one before the next one hits tomorrow. We're talking U.P. level snowfalls, except in a major metropolitan city.

I mean, you can bury Maine any time and mostly the world doesn't care. But Boston? I'm not sure the T was running yesterday.

It's felt as if we've missed everything here in West Michigan. And it's true that we've had long stretches without daily snows. But there's been enough since the start of the year, plus the November pre-winter blizzard, that all the West Michigan communities are still above their average snowfalls to date -- but less than last year's unrelenting pummeling.

WMU has had three snow days this academic year so far.

Meanwhile, the climate change deniers are shrilly declaiming that "it's cold in the Northeast!" and "Antarctic ice has grown!" Failing once again to understand that weather is not climate, that large scale variations and churning are necessary consequences, or how science works.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (snowflakes-4)
I went to bed before 4am last night -- the snow had finally started and I could see from the front porch light that surfaces like the heat pump outside had a fine coating of white.

We watched it snow all day. Very fine, almost dry. But it was coming out of the east and at steep angles to the vertical -- this is never a good sign.

Then came the incomplete reports that Detroit area schools were starting to close for Monday. And the snow over Chicago had stalled -- some areas up to two feet already -- and "Heather, it's still snowing." Chicago schools closed.

A message Mrs. Dr. Phil got on Facebook said that Western and Eastern were both closed. Sure enough, a check of Western Michigan University -- the university that never closes -- had pulled the plug first, sometime before 9:30pm Super Bowl Sunday night:

I had been betting that WMU might close before Grand Valley -- last night's forecast had Kalamazoo and areas along I-94 and south getting more snow than along I-96.

It's still snowing here, but is it a lot? Are the roads too slippery? Don't know. But GVSU did close the library at 6pm tonight. We'll see...

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (snowflakes-4)
So, earlier this week, I talked about on Monday (DW) twice (DW) and Wednesday (DW) how Winter Storm Juno / Blizzard '15 actually forced an incoming storm to stall and go around West Michigan.

Pictures, or it didn't happen. This is not gloating, BTW, but merely observation.

Tuesday, as opposed to the total shutdown of air, sea, rail and highway, this was my drive down US-131 to Kalamazoo around 11:30am. There'd been clouds to the south, but they soon disappeared. BTW, this is Exit 61 coming up and the big sign on the left is to the Gun Lake Casino. The vehicle in the median isn't the state police but MDOT or Allegan County maintenance. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Pulling into my handicapped spot, I noticed that there'd be considerable melt since the previous Thursday, but they also hadn't cleared this one sidewalk connector directly in front of the Blazer, so I would have to take the sidewalk to the left and then jog to the right. This student with a dark purple jacket and blue backpack cut in front of me, so I had to wait -- sure enough she turned and provided some humanity for the shot. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Steps leading down to the front garden area. Shot through the window screen. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)
Compare to...

This was three weeks ago -- full set here.

Wider angle shot showing patches of clear in lawn and the driveway. Yup, not very threatening here. Certainly didn't stop the rabbits from scampering around. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

All current photos taken with the Nikon D1 and a 35-70mm f3.3-4.5 AF-NIKKOR. The D1 isn't ideal for snow, it's 1st gen DSLR sensor tends to blow out highlights, but it does nicely with neutral colors and I am always surprised at how well the digital war horse works.

Thursday, we had freezing rain overnight, but not much more than a tenth of an inch -- Mrs. Dr. Phil had some detail-work she could do at home. It snowed on and off, but by afternoon the open patches of ground hadn't filled in very much. Today, Friday, was mostly overcast with a little sun.

January 2015 is closing with much more snow here than December 2014, and there were snow days for schools AND universities, but still not anything like New England. February is going to start with cold and snow. How much? We shall see...

It is FAR too early to call this winter a bust in West Michigan compared to the long harsh winter last year.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (snowflakes-4)
Monday night watched MSNBC all evening to watch the pre-game coverage of Blizzard '15, aka Winter Storm Juno. Buffalo was yawning at predictions of up to 26" of snow in some places east of them. Not after eight feet in a similar timeline just some weeks ago.

So let's review:
Global Warming does NOT mean no snow or cold
Weather is NOT Climate
Weather Forecasts are NOT Prophecies
Predictions are NOT Certainties
Accuracy is NOT Precision
Weather Forecasts are NOT Weather Control
But they got it wrong, some whine. New York was not buried!


The forecasts are wrong a lot!

Okay, let's think about this. One of the reasons why forecasts are off is that we have more of them. I frequently on this blog mock storm forecasts that never materialize, but that's more mocking the We Are ALL Going to DIE coverage by the media. Storm Center 8. Severe Weather Center 3. These are just two of our Grand Rapids TV stations. And it's still Severe Weather Center 3 when the forecast is for sunny and 60°F.

I put The Weather Channel app on my Kindle Fire HD. Right now, if I were to turn it on, it'd not only give me a 10-day forecast, but for the first day or two it'd give me hour-to-hour forecasts. Now with that many forecasts, isn't it reasonable that some of them are going to be off? And predicting the exact track and production of a storm from two weeks out... the science gives you some idea, but not the same as weather on the ground when it comes.

As it should be.

And let's not forget, this morning there were still reports of 78mph winds in Nantucket. And Boston did get clobbered. And New York? Although we heard apologies from the mayor and the National Weather Service, frankly, I think it's a lot of hooey. This was the forecast, they had information from several days out and decided to clear the streets and highways and skies and rails ahead of time, so that people wouldn't get stuck or wrecked and need rescuing, either in the heart of the storm or just when the crews were needed to move this shit out of the way. NPR this afternoon pointed out that with airlines canceling so many thousands of flights, it left equipment in place, rather than diverting it or out of position, so when things start up again everything will be in the right place at the right time.

For gosh sakes they showed snowplows in one coastal town plowing a little snow -- and sea water off the streets from the storm surge. This is not an everyday or trivial event.

We don't have climate control. I don't know that we want climate control, because like the Mississippi River and other giant things we try to control, Nature will try to force things back and we won't like it. Making a nice day for a picnic here, might create a hurricane over there instead. I learned that from A Wizard of Earthsea. (grin) Systems and the interactions between systems. This is big stuff.

But the Farmer's Almanac gets it right and they just use a secret formula!

The Old Farmer's Almanac tells you they get it right. And I seem to recall some studies that suggest they do okay. But see, their specialties are broad regions and broad time periods. The upper Midwest will see dry conditions early in the fall but expect big storms by November -- or something. They might very well be right or mostly right, based on their secret sauce formula that uses past performance to predict broad future behaviors. But it ain't telling you what Friday's weather in Grand Rapids MI AND Bangor ME will be, and certainly not the 11am and 2pm forecasts on those days.

The old joke about weather forecasting is that the "best" forecast is predicting the same thing for today as yesterday -- it'll be right about half the time. Since many weather patterns persist for a few days, you can see how this works. And it's self-correcting, if you update each day. But predicting the same weather every day for a week, a month, a season, a year -- why you'd end up with a forecast that says rain and 57°F every afternoon. And by gum, you'd be right sometimes. But more likely in October or May, than July or February.

If you think weather forecasting is complicated and requires massive supercomputer models, just imagine what weather control would take.

You want to know what weather control looks like? It's clouds rolling in at 11:55am on Friday, light rain at 2:02pm, followed by heavy rain from 3:17pm to 4:42pm. Why? So workers won't want to cut out early on a Friday. THAT's what you'd get for paying for weather control in the real world.

I'll stick with looking at the computer models, hoping for the best -- and trying to not have to drive in impossible conditions. 4WD and modern roads are not invincible combinations.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
i might be the only person in west michigan kvetching that it was a sunny day in the 70s on saturday -- i hate summer colds -- i hate summer flu worse. when i'm sick, i want to open a window and breathe in clean cold winter air.

personal temps vary in the 99 to 100 range, so the high fever is past. eating real food again. yay.

but sleep. sleep is tough. my sinuses like to whistle sometime at the exact angle i prefer to sleep -- and then i have to sleep in a chair. too much chair is bad for my bad leg. add in flu congestion and fitful "rest" all night.

maybe tonight will be better. but i'm not optimistic...

dr phil
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
At Least Not In The Forecast

So... we're supposed to have rainy days until about Thursday. Might even have some snow in there as well. But for Monday, the rain was supposed to start about noon. Which explains why on my drive in that the rain drops began to fall about 9am. By 9:15 it was pouring. And at 9:30 when I pulled up to Everett Tower on campus, it was raining hard enough that I put on my rain hat even before I got out of the Blazer.

Oh well. I had an old bag of papers I was bringing, and figured that I could haul it in on my little cart this morning. Except not in the rain. My other bags zipper shut, so they came in just fine.

West Michigan Attempts Spring

Several friends from various parts of the country have been posting pictures of early flowers and other signs of spring. Except for Alaska and Colorado, which keep bringing back snow reports after bouts of more pleasant weather.

We finally, I think, made it up to about 60°F this weekend -- and later this week we may make it almost to 70°F. Saturday was supposed to be windy and raining. We had the gray. We had the blustery winds. But Allendale didn't really see any rain while the sun was theoretically above the horizon. Sunday it was supposed to be sunny all day. Nope. Sun didn't really make an appearance until about 4pm, then it cleared up a bit, though high haze made the sun a bit wan.

Good For The Asparagus?

When my parents were at U of I in Champaign IL, they said that whatever the weather was doing, the farm report would say "it was good for the corn." Weather these days can be good or ill for crops. But there was a piece about Michigan asparagus farmers in nearby Oceana County over the weekend, and they said that the cool spring without a late hard frost (so far) is good for the asparagus. Last year it was hot, not just warm, in February and March, and so the freeze in April damaged a lot of things. The asparagus farmers lost 23% of their pickings. Oceana County accounts for something like 60% of the Michigan asparagus crop. Don't know where Ottawa County fits into that total, but there's an asparagus farm down the road from us and we're eagerly awaiting their first crop, especially since they decided to open up to regular folk for sales the other year. (grin)

As For Gasoline

Last week gas prices slowly made their way down from near four bucks a gallon to $3.85.9/gal. Sunday I noted that regular in Allendale was down to $3.65.9/gal. If I were going to make a prediction -- which I am always loathe to do -- based on what happened at the beginning of the recession, when gas dropped below two bucks a gallon, I'm thinking we're about to see gas prices drop as the Sequester effects begin to really take hold. No guarantees, of course, but I don't think the oil companies want to be made into bogeymen right about now. So they'll lay quiet. Not sure we'll get down to $1.55.9/gal again, but under three? I can see it in a few weeks.

Dr. Phil

The Three Seasons

Thursday, 21 March 2013 15:00
dr_phil_physics: (rose-after-rescue)
In Which Our Hero Falls To His Fate

I hate falling down. Nobody outside of professional stuntmen and some athletes probably do, but being a klutz I'm no good at it. Also, with my size I worry about falling and doing some serious damage to myself. Hasn't helped that balance and good footing with my bad left leg nerve leaves staying upright a tenuous balancing act. (grin)

In truth, though, I don't fall down all that much, thankfully. Before this year, I think it was probably ten years ago that I slipped on some ice on campus and had to pick myself up. Now, you must understand that I sleep on a futon on the floor. And I have exercises twice a day and sit on the floor to change my socks. But there's a ready chair nearby for me to use to help me get up. Standing up in the middle of nothing, that's not easy for me.

Earlier this winter I fell in the middle of the night heading to the bathroom. Hadn't realized that my left foot had gotten wrapped in a blanket, so Down Goes Frazier. Sort of a slow motion fall, on carpet. I almost laughed, except that I didn't want to wake up Mrs. Dr. Phil -- of course she woke up when I went THUD, so there's that. But other than being a little sore, no real damage.

However, Tuesday as I was heading out the front door of Everett Tower to cross the windy gap over to Rood Hall and my 1pm Physics class, I opened the door and went to plant my cane and... underneath the fluffy white snow was very slippery wet ice. Cane slid and in midstep onto the slight slope outside the door my feet slipped and down I went. Funny thing is that I was carrying a wedge seat cushion for the hard metal chair in the lecture hall, and that might've been involved.

Actually my immediate reaction was that I was damned cold. Wet and cold. My hands, which slid on the wet ice under the snow were so damned cold. Of course that same coating of ice meant that there was not sand, salt or the rough surface of concrete exposed to tear up either my clothes or the palms of my hands. So... this is good? And while I could get on my hands and knees, I knew I couldn't even trust the cane to prop myself up with and get up. I assumed that I had to slide back to the windbreak outside the doorway and lever myself up.

But rescue came. Prof. Kamber came out of Everett and one of my students stopped by to help -- after he skidded to a stop and got off his bicycle!!! Really? Riding a bike on sheets of wet ice? Didn't we cover static and kinetic friction and its effects in class?

Once I had my left foot planted, I just hoped that the two gentlemen could hold on and support my unfortunate bulk. They held, and I managed to get up.

As I headed to class, I suggested that Kamber tell the secretary to call for salt. And indeed, coming out fifty minutes later after class, the ice was completely melted. When I left to come home, the sidewalks were wet and sloppy and the parking lot was something of a mess, but that was just on campus. All the roads were wet but clear. I didn't have to struggle with a long commute on a skating rink.

I don't think I really damaged anything. Though in the middle of the day on Wednesday, I realized that I'd forgotten I'd slipped on the ice the day before and that perhaps that's why I had odd aches and pains, so took some Advils.

But I hate falling.

Winter Blows In Again and Again

And of course the insult to injury is that "spring" was coming. When we lived in the U.P., we always seemed to get a major storm right about St. Patrick's Day, just like the last of our giant front yard snow pile up there used to melt on Mother's Day. Here in West Michigan, the St. Patrick's Day storm isn't as consistent. Mrs. Dr. Phil wondered if the weather we had at the end of last week was this year's version. Maybe not.

Meanwhile people to the north of us in the U.P. were getting serious snow -- 16" to 24" by reports -- and there are snow tracks from the Plains states through the Midwest south of us, and on into WV, PA and NY. So I'm not really complaining, as others have repeatedly gotten clobbered worse than us, and even the weather forecasts of areas around here getting clobbered haven't done so much of that, either.

Vernal Equinox

Supposedly it happened on Wednesday morning at 7:02 EDT. You couldn't tell that by either the color of the lawn (white) or the overnight temperatures -- about 14°F this morning, with wind chills about -4°F. Mrs. Dr. Phil was grousing about it being a cruel month of January this March. (grin)

At least I hadn't heard a lot of reports about either flowers coming up or lots of buds or blooms on the fruit trees due to unseasonably warm February and March conditions like last year.

So we'll let the March storms get it all out of their system and wait for a real spring day to show up. Eventually. They always do.

Dr. Phil


Monday, 11 March 2013 14:24
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
Spring Will Come

Here are a list of reasons why Spring will someday return to West Michigan:

-- The temperature in Grand Rapids last night at 11pm was 54°F.

-- That was 11pm EDT, having endured the DST2007 early shift to Daylight Saving Time.

-- At 6am Monday, it was still 42°F.

-- It was already 50°F before 9:30am Monday.

-- There were worms on the sidewalks this morning after last night's rains.

-- College basketball conferences are having championships and tournaments, as a sideshow to the upcoming NCAA Division I tournaments.

-- The Cubs are losing a lot of spring training baseball games in Arizona.

-- There are Easter Peeps for sale in the gas station in Wayland MI.

-- WMU's Spring Break is over for Spring Semester, most of which takes place in the Winter and not the Spring.

-- Rain actually makes things wet, instead of freezing into sheets of ice.

-- 4WD not required for the drive in today.

-- Did I mention there was WORMSIGN on the sidewalks this morning?

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
Pretty Much A Miss

If it seems that all I am blogging about is the weather, it is because my long commute dominates my weekday life. Friday afternoon and all day Saturday we were in a Winter Weather Advisory and in the middle of the lake effect snow patterns -- up to a foot. By the time I got home on Friday, the snow falling outside the garage looked to be in layers -- each layer at a different distance was falling slowly at a different angle. Neat. While there were times we were in heavy horizontal snow on Saturday, the sun came out and the snows stopped. The persistent lake effect snow bands were just south of us. The region got anywhere from 0.4" to 16" of snow -- we only got a couple of inches of light very dry snow.

But... even though every time I mention the weather someone else is really getting clobbered, the real problem around here has been the ice. And here my classes are getting a real lesson in coefficients of friction.

Saturday the temps were in the upper 20s, but dropped overnight. By midnight is was down to 9°F. 1°F at 2am. 0°F by 3am until at least 7am. Then the warm up. 16°F at 10am and 26°F Sunday afternoon. The winds and the sun dried the roads in Allendale. Pale blue skies and pale clouds that looks airbrushed with no hard edges up until about 4pm.

This shed is in the middle of the asparagus fields near 68th Avenue. When I saw it at 3:50pm, there was blue sky and you could really see the two snowmobile tracks splitting around the shed. Alas, I should ALWAYS listen to my inner artistic demon and turned around right then and there. After I did my errands at Walgreens, I came out to gray skies which ruined the look. The lack of sun cut the edges of the tracks and the darkening skies dropped the shutter speeds. Though I did shut off the engine to shoot this shot, at 300mm (450mm effective focal length in DX), the shutter speed wasn't high enough to kill the motion shake as I wanted. Still... a nice composition. But it could've been much cooler. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Even with the above kvetching, I am consistently amazed at what I can pull out of that first generation pro sensor in the Nikon D1.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (dr-phil-driving)
No, Prudent

While the rest of the nation is watching the northeast as two storms merge to form Snurricane Nemo and New York to Boston is supposed to "get it", the northern part of Nemo came through Michigan last night.

The irony is that yesterday, Thursday, was the first morning commute in some three weeks that I was able to drive at full posted speeds the entire way. Roads clear. It was sunny in Kalamazoo. In Grand Rapids, though, the afternoon was already picking up half a foot or more of wet heavy snow. This wasn't the dry lake effect snows we've been getting. It was near freezing and there was a lot of water content, making for slushy, slidey road conditions, plus bands of freezing rain.

K-zoo was in the 3-5" snowfall range. Our house was just south of the one-foot plus range. Our neighbor plowed our driveway twice by 10pm -- probably a good move on his part since the heavy wet snow would be tough for his little plow to work on in large scale.

But even while the sun was shining in my office yesterday afternoon, I advised my department chair that it was possible I wouldn't be driving in today. I was expecting a very long commute and on Fridays we just do a quiz in class. So I arranged to have people cover the quizzes and emailed PDFs of the quizzes to the office last night.

I was right, of course. Traffic cameras showed slow driving. I've already pushed past 2½ hours on the drive in just this week due to icy conditions. Why drive in, risking life-limb-vehicle, just to be late to a quiz and give another?

Of course the sun came out this morning and it looked all white and pretty. But I know I made the right choice.

Pictures Or It Didn't Happen

The back deck was completely clear before Thursday afternoon. And because it was warm enough, I was able to open the sliding screen door and shoot. It may not look so bad now, but the roads early this morning were coated with a thick slurry of shit. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

This morning, the snow cap on top of the heat pump was at least a foot high. With the temps in the upper 20s and bright sunshine, it had been whittled down to 6-9" by 1pm. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Rather impressed myself with getting the Nikon D1 to deal with the overblown snow highlights, even while shooting through a window screen. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Icicles forming quickly from the roof melt. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Dr. Phil


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