August 24th, 2014

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Captain Scarlett and the Mysterons

After years of using the 1996 Blazer -- the Teal Machine -- as a single person vehicle, Mrs. Dr. Phil has ridden in it more in the last couple of weeks than... ever. Three times this week alone. Now if I can only keep it clean. (grin) Certainly easier than transferring the walker and hang tag between Blazer and Bravada.

Meanwhile, our travels around West Michigan have only highlighted the gas price insanity. Wednesday, regular was $3.30.9/gal, dropped to $3.26.9/gal Thursday afternoon. By evening we were seeing it thirty cents higher. Por que? Huh? Maybe it was the near 100% humidity which caused the gas price to SWOLE UP. Today, it was dropping... $3.52.9... $3.51.9... $3.48.9..., though Family Fare in Allendale was still up at $3.54.9/gal. Why? Dunno. But this was a weekend (Th F Sa) with 50¢/gal off coupons, so maybe they were cheating. Alas, no coupon for us. Had to get out early, before a grocery list.

But we did stop at Potters on the way home for more tomatoes and Red Haven peaches.


It always seems that these produce signs are done in the same "font". But of course the graph design is simplicity itself. White background, all caps letters painted with a thick brush -- of course it looks like the same sans serif font. Note the color coding for each item. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Today's field trip was a run way to the other side of town to Celebration Woodland, the second run theatre in the Jack Loeks chain. There was one blue handicapped parking spot left -- win! But could we see our movie? It was 12:24, there was a line -- and the 12:35 showtime wasn't listed. Worse, the monitor had what looked like the words Sold Out clipped after the title -- the only other thing of interest was Malificent at 1pm... oh wait, that's just the title chopped up.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier 2D [PG-13]
Celebration Woodland Theatre #11 12:35pm 2x$5.00

This came out in April and we just never got around to it. Thank goodness that it's another of the marvelous Marvel movies, because it was very popular and four months later, still playing in town. There were just two in the small theatre when we got seated, but more kept filing in. There may have been twenty all told -- pretty good for a first show on a Saturday at any point in a movie's run in Grand Rapids.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier follows Captain America: The First Avenger of 2011 and the next year's marvellous Avengers. Wikipedia reminds us that this was the "ninth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)". Guardians would be the tenth. There was plenty of eye candy for 3D and IMAX 3D, but 2D was certainly good.

This movie has been out long enough I am not particularly worried about spoilers -- consider yourself warned.

Steve Rogers is such a good character -- practically the anti-Tony Stark. And Scarlett Johansson rules 2014. She has become such a kickass action heroine, no matter what her hair color -- it's red for this movie. There's been a clamor for a Black Widow movie. There's a perfect opportunity with all her aliases blown at the end. Surely Marvel has been so clever so far, that they planned this? Please? Natasha keeps on trying to line Steve up with a date -- and they have these marvelous banal conversations about women from various departments at SHIELD, sometimes in the middle of the action. It's a sweet note of normalcy amidst all the unreality around them.

Falcon. Billed as the first black superhero. He's seamlessly introduced from the side, not a member of SHIELD and very different from Don Cheadle's role in the Iron Mans. Can't wait to see more of this Falcon. And SHIELD? Riddled with rot. We thought Steve Rogers had disposed of HYDRA back in WW II.

The Winter Soldier himself. He shares a bit with Vanko, the villain in Iron Man II. But as I mainly go along for the ride, rather than having devoured the Marvel canon in print, it never occurred to me that the Winter Soldier was Bucky, Steve's best friend and another deep freeze WW II refugee. Only he doesn't know who he is. On the other hand, I assumed that Nick Fury's death was faked. I mean, it's Samuel L. Jackson -- he had his asked-for big death scene in the Star Wars franchise. In fact, for a superhero movie, there are more hospital beds than I've seen since the bad Pearl Harbor movie the other year. Including a cameo by the British bombshell agent from The First Avenger -- now an old lady who helped create SHIELD.

Then there's straight arrow Robert Redford. Always plays the good guy, which was calculated I'm sure. He even explains his traitorous plot with such compassion -- saving seven billion and it only requires the sacrifice of twenty million. Only.

I half expected him to sit up and wipe his bloody mouth with his handkerchief a la The Sting after gunned down by Nick Fury. Thankfully, no.

Stan Lee has a cameo as a Smithsonian security guard -- great moment. "I am so fired."

The three Insight helicarriers are impressive, but Mrs. Dr. Phil wondered why no one noticed all the construction in the Potomac. Actually, Washington DC is always torn up. Would they really notice that much dredging and trucking in that much tonnage of parts? (grin) For me, could you place the main critical computer parts in a more vulnerable place than an open air platform on the exposed underbelly of giant ships flying overhead? What could possibly go wrong? Especially since it's guarded even less than the tractor beam controls in the Death Star. Of course they also have a tape drive era AI supercomputer with USB ports added, so it's not like they provide a realistic model for computing. (And what's up with massive storage and computing power USB drives -- we saw this in Lucy, too. Oh, wait. Scarlett Johansson. Got it.)

And if Guardians gives us the 80s soundtrack -- Star Lord's mix tape has become the number one album -- here we get a brief homage to Marvin Gaye.

We also get two hints of future troubles. Damned HYDRA keeps springing up new heads. And the head of the unit that was hunting Steve? He's burned and injured -- and not dead yet. Also Bucky is learning who he is. Does that make a third trouble? Or another ally? I for one will wait for more movies. Shoot, I have to still make up the last Iron Man and Thor movies. (sad-hospitalized-grin)

Well played, Marvel. Well played.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Trailers: 50:1, yet another horse racing movie. Down on their luck trainers get one last chance with Mine That Bird in 2009, who goes on to the Kentucky Derby with, drum roll please, 50:1 odds. Guardians of the Galaxy will eventually make it to Woodland. Of all the summer movies, this is the one we would both want to see on the big screen again. Exodus: Gods and Kings looks like Ridley Scott's The Ten Commandments.

Dr. Phil
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On Friday There Were Bees

Had a series of errands to do on Friday, including picking up some prescriptions. Now in the winter I got some impressive pictures of diamond snow and the snow banks. Here I swung back to look at this white bush -- hydrangea? -- out front, that seemed to be entertaining some bees. Bumble bees, it turned out. The medium small ones we have around here, not the really big fuzzy corkers we get out in the country. I had the whole D100 small camera bag, so I could park next to the bush and rack out to 200mm on the 80-200mm f4.5-5.6D AF-NIKKOR.


This is the last shot I took. Having to fight the autofocus a bit, as it didn't want to hone in on the bumble bee, but I could get the flowers. My little friend wasn't quite in focus, so I added a couple steps of sharpness. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Early on I snapped off three frames quickly -- the D100 runs at maybe 2,5 fps on Continuous, so I'm better off triggering multiple shots on Single. Two shots were wings down -- the middle one was wings up. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


AF did much better with the bumble bees crawling over the flowers, though they disappear into the flowers quite rapidly. This is a nice shot, I think. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Full resolution crop of same, with one step of Sharpen added. Despite the hazy light, it's not the camera -- these bumble bees have rather muted yellow colors in real life.
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Also took the time to run up to Chevy for an oil change. Was going to take the cutoff down to the bayou at Eastmanville, but Thursday night we'd seen signs for construction on the bridge over the Grand River and...


Flagman for single lane operations just south of Leonard on 68th Avenue. Cropped for better detail. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


They were actively working on the smaller bridge over the bayou. The bridges were replaced some ten years ago, but the concrete had chipped on the top due to road salt and cold. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The turnoff, down to the little park created after they condemned the house between the bridges due to flooding a few years ago, is just behind the cement truck on the left -- you can see the brown sign on the right. As a result, I skipped driving down to the waterfront.

That's okay. Despite the hazy light and near 100% humidity, I scored some bumble bees, so it was definitely worth dragging the camera bag with me.

Dr. Phil
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Fall Presidential Faculty Staff Picnic

Monday, the weather was beautiful. Wednesday, turned out to be beautiful. Tuesday... well, it was forecast to rain. Perfect for GVSU's big fall picnic. But, they were scheduled to be using the plaza outside the old library and were putting up a tent. So I drove onto campus around 5:20 to find Mrs. Dr. Phil standing near the handicapped spots in Lot M, and I wheeled my way with the walker. There was actually a break in the clouds and some sun out over Zumberge Pond -- which didn't last.


My first look at the outside of Zumberge Hall. Formerly Zumberge Library on the right side, it's Grand Valley's first dedicated Administration building, along with the extension at the left. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


The big tent complex. Tables set up in front of us, band in the tent behind. There are two big sculptures on the plaza, the blue Transformational Links and the white star thing reaching for the sky. We ended up out of the way on the left, so my walker didn't take up space. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

When I first got seated, there were a couple of guys who I think work Buildings and Grounds. They told us a contractor had come in and erected the tents in a very short time. I want to say the last time I was at a picnic on the plaza that it rained. In fact, I might even go so far as to think the weather's been 50:50 over the last ten years. Doesn't matter. Doesn't stop people from coming. Lots of people having a good time as every one gears up for Fall Semester. GVSU starts this week, WMU starts next week, day after Labor Day.


While Mrs. Dr. Phil searched for sustenance, I took a shot north... (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


... And northeast to show the party. When we got there the south end of the tent wasn't too full, but it filled up. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Alas, we forgot to bring home a menu and I didn't take a picture of one. But these picnics have really evolved. At first, just hot dogs and hamburgers. Later they added grilled Portobello mushrooms for them as didn't want meat -- or just wanted variety. This year you couldn't even get a hot dog or a hamburger. (grin) Instead there were heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with basil, barbecued chicken and pork, stunning beans and all kinds of good things. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Two of these three -- of Kathryn, Carol and Mary -- are retired library staff. (grin) It was getting dark and rainy and I switched on the D100's popup flash. Besides the light weight, the built in flash is one of the reasons for dragging the D100 around instead of the D1 series pro cameras. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Mary's Ed sporting a fine hat. Me? I was wearing my leather rain hat, in anticipation of the rain. Fortunately, there were stiff clear plastic walls to the tent and the pouring rain stayed off us. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


And Kathryn's Bill sporting a lovely Greek fisherman's hat. His is black, I have a dark brown one. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The rains stopped for a while, with hints of blue sky. The band concluded a set with Styx' Come Sail Away, which had been a huge campus dub video a couple of years ago. But then gusts of wind starting blowing the plastic wall up against the stiff brim in the back of my leather rain hat, so I took that as my cue to start getting back to the Blazer. Mrs. Dr. Phil caught up with me just before Lake Michigan Hall and the rain. I ended up driving her back around to the Mary I, the new library and thence to where she'd parked.

A lovely night.

Dr. Phil
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Anchors Away (snicker)

Sigh, I Have To Live With This...

Oh yes, we have to go there.

In the navy
Yes, you can sail the seven seas
In the navy
Yes, you can put your mind at ease
In the navy
Come on be bold and make a stand
In the navy, in the navy
Can't you see we need a hand
In the navy
Come protect the motherland
In the navy
Come on and join your fellow man
In the navy
Come on be bold and make a stand
Yes, this is Mrs. Dr. Phil with an anchor tattoo on the arm.

No, Mrs. Dr. Phil didn't join up. Or have a legendary shore leave. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Friday Mrs. Dr. Phil went back to GVSU after an early supper for the final freshman welcome evening bash at the library. And she ended up working a table on the fourth floor that was doing press-on temporary tattoos. The staff at the table of course had to test them out. Besides a State of Michigan -- please, both U.P. and L.P. -- and some others there was this anchor. What? We're not Hope College! True, but Grand Valley IS the Lakers, so...

Turned out that the anchor was their most popular tattoo. And the students managed to get up through all the floors. One of the goodies they were given were name stickers -- something like "This is my study spot" -- which they could put on the back of a chair. Sounds like fun. But methinks that the upper classmen will have some thoughts about this. (grin)

Of course, for me this just gives me the heebie-geebies. I can't stand the thought of ink or paint on me. So while I might admire excellent tattoo art and think temporary tattoos are a hoot for the kids, KEEP THEM THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME-EEE!

Dr. Phil

PS -- And yes, I know in the real world it's Anchors Aweigh, not Away. This is not the real world.