March 15th, 2008


Brown Season

Tis the Seasons

Pi Day, the Ides of March, St. Urho's Day, St. Patrick's Day. Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter. The Spring Equinox.

While it is neither officially Spring nor quite springlike, we have arrived at that very Northern and Midwestern of seasons -- the Brown Season. Out in the country there is no green in any of the exposed grass lawns. The fields, the mud, the leftover corn stalks, the bare trees... all are brown.

And yet, it is not the same brown as in November. A winter's worth of cold and melt, snow and rains, have beaten down the weeds and dried the life out of the remaining stubble. With the ground soft and damp, it is both difficult to tramp through and waiting to break out into song. (grin)

With such signs of Spring beginning to appear around us, despite cold and damp and sometimes gray skies, it is oddly invigorating. And I feel sorry for those who live in those "warm" climes and are not able to share in this annual renewal.

No, really. Stop snickering. I'm being serious here!

Sigh. O ye of little faith.

Dr. Phil
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The Silly Season

We're Not Preying On Your Fears -- Why Do You Ask?

Saw a bit in yesterday's Grand Rapids Press that Alaska's two senators are going to try to use the current economic situation and the potential for $4/gallon gasoline to once again push for oil drilling in ANWR. First, will everyone STOP talking about $4/gallon gasoline? You're just giving "them" permission to go ahead and raise gas prices that high, because it's what "everyone" is saying is going to happen, so it's not "their" fault. Uh-huh. Second, even if common sense left the room and we as a nation decided to go into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and start poking and prodding around for oil, does anyone really believe that any appreciable amount of oil will get down here before 2018 or 2028? If any of the oil comes down here anyway. A lot of the Alaskan oil currently is sold to Japan, freeing us up to buy oil from overseas, as I understand it. So pumping oil out of ANWR isn't going to end or prevent $4/gallon gasoline from coming. Third, even if they could get oil out of ANWR quickly and used if for domestic use, it only really becomes economic to buy and use ANWR oil only IF gas is like $4/gallon. Or more.

Forgetting the environmental issues, I haven't seen any economic analyses yet which make sense to go into ANWR for oil.

You're Not Doing Your Part -- Spend More, Dammit

Yesterday's paper also had a sidebar saying that consumer spending dropped something like 0.2 or 0.6% in February even with seasonal adjustments. Now seasonal adjustments are designed to take into account things like Christmas and seasonal jobs. But what I want to know is how much the weather is taken into consideration. After all, during the sixteen weeks of February 2008 (grin), we had a lot of weekends with horrendous weather and I don't know about you, but a lot of people stayed home rather than go shopping here in West Michigan and in both the regular and unusual snow belts all across the country. So either there was a slight drop despite the cruel February weather or else there was a slight drop which might be explained away just by not completely taking into account the waves of storms after storms after storms.

Or... people could be holding onto their remaining bits of money because they don't like where the economy is going. There's a strike at an axel company nearby and a number of auto plants are having to shut down nationwide. That on top of the rest of the usual economic stuff.

Oh, and remember that the Consumer Price Index doesn't include "volatile" things like food or gasoline, so it can't possibly be that inflation is eating into discretionary disposable income spending.

So Is It or Isn't It?

The last time everyone was sent checks from the IRS as an economic stimulus, no one mentioned at the time that it wasn't free money, but an advance on the next year's tax refunds. So that a year after spending the money, people either were facing a smaller tax refund or had to cough up the money and write a bigger check to the IRS. Nice.

You'd think with a history like that someone would bother to mention the 2008 economic stimulus checks and whether it's free money or an advance loan against your next year taxes. But no. As it stands, I had almost convinced myself it was different this time around because of the way people were using the words "rebate" versus "refund", but recently I began to have doubts. If nothing else, these economic stimulus checks will count as income, so it will affect your taxes next year one way or another.

Not to worry though. Any confusion or financial hurt that occurs in April 2009 is so far off... that it's after the November elections. (double-entry-grin) That way the people who count won't get hurt at all. (triple-witching-hour-grin)

Dr. Phil
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Woo-Hoo for Goblins!

Jim C. Hines

Michigan fantasy writer jimhines Jim C. Hines recently had his third Goblin book, Goblin War, published, so he's doing the publicity thing. And I've been behind in checking out his blog, so I was pleased to see the following in a post from last week:

5/8: Booksigning at Schuler Books, Alpine location in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Had to grab a calendar and figure out the Day of the Week (Thursday), but that's an old complaint. And I'm sure there will be updates as to time, etc. Great thing about Schuler Books is that their Chapbook Cafe has excellent food, so assuming I can get there in time, a little dinner, a little booksigning, a little spending of money in Schuler's -- sounds just about right. (grin)

Serial Presents

We recently gave the first book, Goblin Hero, to a nephew. Amazingly, digging around we found the Jig temporary tattoo and bookmark for Goblin Quest which came in an issue of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine quite a while ago. So I took that and printed off an interview I found with Jim and added it to the present. My nephews think it is SO cool that I actually KNOW some authors from ConFusion, WisCon, WindyCon, Clarion, etc. So I figure we'll get two more presents out of Jim before we have to threaten him to write more. (grin) And the Schuler's appearance means we can get 'em signed. Cool. No, it IS cool. I'm not particularly rabid about signed copies for myself, but I love to give them as presents.

Read on, good friends.

Dr. Phil

UPDATE: Speaking of ASIM, their website has a brand new interview with Jim C. Hines about Goblin War.
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