March 27th, 2014


Look For, The Union Label...

I had vaguely heard something about this a while ago, but today the NLRB ruled that Northwestern University scholarship football players were employees.


You can imagine that NU and the NCAA are NOT pleased and you bet they've appealed to the full National Labor Relations Board.

Guess this is what happens when you have real scholar athletes. (grin) They do know how to make an argument.

Okay, so what's the deal? They're students. They get to attend Northwestern on scholarship -- worth $60,000/year ***. In return they get to play football. OR, Division I sports is a huge cash machine that everyone gets a piece of, except the athletes, who are actually forbidden to cash in.

But this isn't about the money, interestingly enough. If it was, the NCAA would rule them ineligible. Instead, this is about getting a seat at the table. Health and safety issues, especially in football, are in heavy rotation -- among other things the players want to make sure they get the long term care some of them might need.

Note that I said earlier this only applies to private colleges. And it is not by any means a done deal. Appeals and negotiations abound.

But the landscape is on the verge of a major change. And it shall be interesting.

Go Cats!

Dr. Phil

*** I should note that in 2014, as it was in 1976, that not only do most NU students have some sort of scholarship, over half get the full deal. They don't have to work for free, however.


So. Last week we had the first day of Spring. Not that you can necessarily tell around here.

This week alone: My commute on Monday started at 16°F, with a coating of snow over everything outside, including our driveway which had been over 90% clear over the weekend -- just one pesky patch at the confluence of the drift patterns from the front yard and the shadow zone from the front stand of tall pines. I drove in 4WD most of the way in -- roads were icy. Tuesday it was 9°F and again, it was snowing, though not very enthusiastically. Wednesday was clear at 7:40am, though I wished it wasn't. Much of the first 20-30 minutes of the commute has me heading due east and right into the rising sun. Fortunately I have a workaround, since the sun visors don't come down nearly far enough -- I stick an index card under the edge of the cover to the vanity mirror on the main sun visor, so it protrudes down at an angle. If adjusted just right, then binocular vision will cause an overlap zone right where the sun would be hitting me dead on.

Today it was rain. The temperature was around 33°F and they were promising a mixture of rain and freezing rain. Hadn't particularly noticed the latter until on US-131, when I had to turn the wipers back on and chunks of sloppy thin ice slid off the bottom edge of the wiper blades. And on campus, the sidewalks were gritting with a thin layer of tiny icy frozen rain pellets.

Of course today was the day when I couldn't remember putting up the handicapped hangtag before I came in. Fortunately I could go into the microscopic "break room" and peer out its window and could clearly see the blue & white hangtag on my rear view mirror. So I didn't have to get dressed back up and wheel myself outside to check.

Spring is coming, though the Long Winter Of Our Discontent is lingering on a bit. Certainly our little bit of snow is nothing like what hit the edge of the East Coast the other day. And our 9°F morning in West Michigan isn't like the well below zero temps in the Northern Lower Peninsula. But Spring? Not a chance here.

What annoys me is the Spring advertising campaigns. Somewhere around the Winter Olympics we started getting a TV spot going on about now that Spring was here and they had these happy people walking, biking and playing along a nice suburban cul de sac and the voiceover was chatting about all the things you could get at... Meijers. Come on, Meijers, you're a bloody West Michigan corporation. Can't you look out the window and see what's going on and maybe adjust your advertising to suit? Likewise the ad last week on the Vernal Equinox Eve going on about now that the snow is clear and the grasses is growing by inches every day... Yeah, in many places you couldn't even yet see the brown mat of flattened grass. Way to go, Husqvarna.

Well, it isn't like you can go into many retail stores at the end of March and actually find any currently needed gear -- winter coats, boots, gloves, snow shovels, salt, parts for your snowblower. All those things have been packed up for weeks to get out the spring and summer fashions, lawn tools, swimsuits, etc.

Can we go back to having REAL seasons in stores? And this includes putting Christmas, etc., in the right place in the calendar, too.

Is that too much to ask?

Dr. Phil