April 15th, 2014


The Ides of April Returneth Again

First off, Happy Birthdays to my grad school office mate Dave and goblin/princess author Jim on this Tax Day.

After many days in the 50s and 60s and even some reports of 70°F temps, it was 23°F this morning. And an inch of new snow on the ground. So much for seeing the lunar eclipse in the wee hours. Of course, it's still spring, and so the inch of snow did not stop the birds from singing away happily in the pine trees at 6:30am. The concrete sidewalk along the house and the concrete pad in front of the garage looked liked they'd been newly shoveled, but it was just their absorbed heat energy melting the snow away.

Driving along just before the sun came up, it was all clean white outside. One had to watch out for patches of ice on the roads, but mostly the roads were clear. However, ice began to build up in the left hand lane of US-131, so everybody stayed in the right lane for the most part. Speed dropping from 70mph to 50mph in some areas where the snow blowing across the highway, as per usual, formed a lumpy mass of ice. Twice I switched into 4WD for a while.

I stopped at the Citgo at D-Ave to use the bathroom. The door to the stall was closed when I came in, so I called out, "Occupied?" No response. When I got closer I put my single point cane in my left hand along with the quad-foot cane and knocked on the door. "What?" came the indignant reply. What do you mean What? What did you think I meant when I asked Occupied? You're sitting on the john and someone knocks on the stall door, what the fuck do you THINK they're asking? (Shakes head) I don't understand people sometimes. Especially when I'm being polite instead of just grabbing the door handle and yanking, without checking.

As I got out of the Blazer on campus, there was a very fat robin, feathers ruffling in the stiff cold breeze. It was running along the sidewalk, not flying. Going for yesterday's wormsicles on the sidewalk?

Right at the windbreak by the door into Everett, a gust of wind blew off my winter hat and knocked the single point cane out of my hands, as I moved it on the top of the walker into the Dalek position, so I could get through the door after pushing the red door assist button. Dammit. Grabbed the hat, dropped the cane, though fortunately the latter ended up leaning against the walker, so I didn't have to do any running or gymnastics. Given the bitter cold wind, I should have worn the heavier parka, which has a hood.

Yesterday I had a student poke his head into my office while I was working with another student. "What's the schedule for this week?" The last week of classes, the schedule is the same -- we meet M-F. "No, I mean what are we doing this week?" Physics. "What days are important?"

Well, shit, fuck me for a duck.

Of course, what he was REALLY asking was can I go away for fun on the weekend early? And the answer is... no. Not by my schedule. But this is college. Go right ahead and skip class as many times as you want. But you miss the good stuff, like today explaining that "in a fair fight" Gravity loses to Electric Force by a factor of 200 million dectillion (!!!).

2,280,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times larger.

You don't see that every day.

Also regarding large numbers, I noted in passing through Allendale this morning that regular jumped from $3.64.9/gal to $3.79.9/gal -- thus regular today goes for what midgrade sold for yesterday. Why the jump? Dunno. Maybe it has to do with the snow. Maybe it has to do with Ukraine. Maybe it has to do with Steven Colbert taking over from David Letterman a long time from now. Maybe it's because the Ken Burns documentary on the Gettysburg Address is on PBS tonight. Who knows?

So how's your day?

Dr. Phil

Teh Stupid

(phone rings in office)

(hit Speaker button)

-- Phil Kaldon.

-- Hello, is this Dr. Phil?

-- Phil Kaldon.

-- Is this, uh..., THE Dr. Phil?

-- Are you trying to reach the Dr. Phil Show in California?

-- Uh, yes.

-- This is a Physics professor in Michigan. My website clearly says I am not the Dr. Phil on television, which is the only way you could've gotten this phone number. Sorry, I can't help you.

-- Oh. (crestfallen)


Dr. Phil

PS - Haven't gotten one of these in a while.

On The Nature Of The Fifteenth Of April

In my post on the "spring" weather for today, I noted words of birthday cheer to two people on this Ides of April -- or more appropriately Tax Day in the U.S. Of course, as with the transient nature of some days, dare I call it a holiday?, April 15th is a bit mutable. In 2012, for example, taxes were due on Monday 16 April 2012, since the 15th was a Sunday. Except they made it for the 17th, because of a D.C. holiday...

But like any day of the year, there are going to be birthdays. And because of the day, I tend to remember them more than others.

And then there were two Facebook posts -- one from a close friend and one a writing friend:
6 hrs ago
My father passed away years ago, but his birthday was yesterday. He always seemed to spend his birthday filling out his tax forms, so I still commemorate it that way too.

Last night I worked on taxes, but I finally filed for an extension after many years of completing my filings at the last minute. I'm sure he's laughing at me. LOL
This was closely followed in my Facebook by...
13 mins ago
Fourteen years ago today, my father died. I will note two things:

1) The old man always told me that there was no escaping either death or taxes. Rather economical of him to pass on this date.

2) Edward Gorey (who like my father was also born in Chicago) also died on that day. And you know, I never, ever, saw the two of them in the same room together. Hmm.
I know when my father died (DW), but it's just a day. Not like when people have events tied in with other events. Being born on Christmas. Or 9/11/2001. Or having a father die on Tax Day.

Yet this affects us, clearly. And if you put it into a story, someone would complain that you're not being realistic.

Happy Birthday. And Condolences.

Dr. Phil

It's Going To Be A Long-Long Summer

Political ad, from the Republican Governors Association, against Mark Shauer. Showing very fake cartoon rain in front of an abandoned factory. Complaining about supporting the Stimulus.

Why he even supported a tax on bottled water!

Close up on older woman. "Who taxes water?"

Then that smug little face, "The Shauer's over," which says I Am A Republican And I Just Said Someting In Stupid Logic And I'm So Proud That Dumbasses Who Are Just Like Me Will Believe This Shit That Could Never Melt In My Mouth.

Who taxes water? Why anyone. More to the point, I believe she was referring to a tax on disposable bottles, because they are costing a great deal in waste. As opposed to Nicaragua, where when Mrs. Dr. Phil was there a couple of years ago, they were recycling every plastic container they could get their hands on.

But if they wanted to tax water... It's bottled water. It sure as hell isn't free. Have you priced bottled water lately? The vending machine outside my lecture hall charges $1.50 per 20 ounces. That's $9.60/gallon! Hell, gasoline, which we always complain about, is only up to $3.84.9/gallon.

Water, which can be 2½ as dear as gasoline.

It's a luxury item.

Why the hell can't it be taxed?

Oh wait. It's because we want to convince the masses that taxes, like welfare and public good, are evil things and we must leave those delicate flowers in the 1% alone or we (the 1%) will be unhappy.

Ticks me off.

And given recent Supreme Court rulings, this year will be even worse than 2012.


Have a nice day.

Dr. Phil

ADDENDUM: I am not anti-conservative or even anti-Republican. It's just that the conservatives and Republicans that I have known and those I have admired have allowed themselves to be pushed aside by people who revel in ignorance fueled by money from those who do not want what the rest think they want. And that smug smile... (shudder)