January 15th, 2013


The Day The Freezer Died

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

A Bit Of Immortal ConFusion This Weekend

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
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
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)

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)

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)

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)

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