January 5th, 2015


MBPI Resolutions

Talk about the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator and reactions are always fairly polarized. Look, trying to break all of humanity into 16 groups (more if add in the X as indeterminate for any of the four dichotomies) is always going to be problematic and an oversimplification. The real problem with Myers-Briggs is that it gets cheerfully adopted and used by the likes of HR people to justify things it was specifically NOT designed for, such as hiring decisions. What it is better at is understanding the working relationships between two disparate individuals.

Since Mrs. Dr. Phil first ran into this in the late 80s at Michigan Tech, we've been amused by it. We had a trip to Marquette and back, listening to this one set of tapes describing the interactions between types of inter-MBPI marriages. The piece was really funny and the INTP/INTJ version was humorously prescient.

Which leads me to this bit of nonsense for the first Monday of 2015. Myers-Briggs New Year's resolutions:

“I resolve to find practical implications for my work since the physical world does, unfortunately, exist.”

Outcome: Derives a theoretical implication for the practicality of their latest project and considers their resolution a success.

Who, me? Living in my head? Over analyzing everything? Moi?

Of course when I explained what I was doing, Mrs. Dr. Phil immediately asked about INTJ:

“I resolve to listen to the opinions of my less intelligent underlings.”

Outcome: Derives motivation from the opinions of commoners to fuel a series of research projects that prove everyone’s opinions to be indisputably wrong.

Yeah, I don't do New Year's resolutions either.

Dr. Phil
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Crossposted on LiveJournal

The Grand Rapids Press Breaking The Faith With Its Readers?

The first of the year and I suddenly started having issues with the print edition of The Grand Rapids Press, which I have noted before only does home delivery three days a week: Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday. So I wrote to the editor, after having a helluva time trying to find a contact point online. (Yes, I could have searched the paper itself, but since the paper is spending so much effort online, I was determined to do it their way.)
The Grand Rapids Press is not making it easy. Try to find a contact address for complaints, and you get directed to... Circulation. Or Letters to the Editor, which then sends an automated reply talking about formatting for publication... So, I'll write to you directly.


Tuesday 30 December 2014
-- Mon and Tues "Red and Rover" was actually "Rose is Rose", a different comic, normally seen only on Sundays.

Thursday 1 January 2015
-- Thu "Red and Rover" was actually "Rose is Rose"
-- There were no Wed comics.
-- Thinking I didn't get the home delivery edition, since it's only 3x per week, I:
---- Wrote a lengthy explanation of issues which is somewhere in the Letters to the Editor
---- Requested a new paper for "incomplete paper" for "next delivery day"
---- It was delivered today, Sunday 4 January 2015
---- It was the same, only one day's worth of comics.

Sunday 4 January 2015
-- No Fri or Sat comics following the Sun comics.
-- A dreadful new TV section that has numerous problems -- does no one understand layout and composition any more? Yes, I realize this is a no-win situation for you. But only sometimes listing FOOD and HIST in the listings and not at all in the Channel Guide? And Saturday night split across a page turn unlike Sun-Fri? Etc.

I understand the realities that forced the GRPress to switch to 3x home deliveries, and as far as the new goes, I can live with this partly by the Mlive email digests I get. But the comics? It's as if the newspaper has stopped caring.

I have not tried the digital edition in over a year. It was useless on my Kindle Fire HD then. You promised seven days of comics in the three home deliveries a week -- I'd like that, please.

Thank you for your time.

Dr. Phil
Included in Monday's reply, which never addressed the TV section, was this money quote:

"Yes we have changed the format availability for our comics, moving the bulk of them to a 24/7 availability online."

Excuse me? And I am supposed to know this how?

For example, this wasn't mentioned on the front page of Sunday's paper, NOTE TO READERS:
Familiar features in new locations

You'll see a few differences in your Sunday paper starting today. Some familiar features have moved or changed...

• A free sample edition of TV Weekly replaces the Diversions section. To order TV Weekly, visit xxxxxxx or call 1-800-xxx-xxxx.

• The puzzles...

• The Linda Black Horoscopes...

• The Celebrity Birthdays...

• The Stocks and Mutual Funds pages will not appear in print, but can be found in our Digital Editions... to gain access to our Digital Editions seven days a week.
Notice any comments about the comics? Nope I didn't either.

I did see an explanation for the bizarre new TV section, maybe. It's a freebie promo from some other outfit. But there's no mention if this is a one-off or part of Their Evil Plan to once again try to get rid of a weekly printed TV listing. Which failed the last time they tried.

Look, I get it. The TV section is a lot of work. But I get the Sunday paper and can sketch out a whole week's of television in a few minutes, then during the week we can quickly see the circled items -- or choose something else. And None Of This Requires A Power Switch.

And TV Guide? It has the same problems as this TV Weekly thing. I don't need to have listings for Grand Rapids... and Detroit and Lansing and South Bend IN. The old format had one page, where you see in one glance the conflicts during Prime Time. Not trying to juggle between pages. And certainly not scrolling through endless online pages.

And here's the thing about the funny pages. When I was a kid, that was the only part of the paper I read. As I got older, I started reading the intervening pages before I got to the comics. By ten I could read The New York Times, which didn't even HAVE comics. Or at least not the serial ones. You had to read the Times to get the ones on the Times Op Ed pages. Which I did.

Dear Grand Rapids Press. You are not The New York Times.

Way to go with coming up with a nice way to get kids uninterested in following the comics, in considering a newspaper a thing, and driving them to spend MORE time in front of a screen. Yeah, that'll build your future business base after you've driven off us old fogeys before we've even died.

Oh, and the real howler on Sunday's front page? Right below the column on changes, was this:

"You've got to know how to please the customer in this business."

Shame that the Press doesn't read their own paper. They might learn something.

Remind me again why I am buying a local newspaper subscription?

Dr. Phil
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Crossposted on LiveJournal

Grand Rapids Press Fail Round Two

So I got a response to my previous emails and a link to my blog post on The Grand Rapids Press Breaking Faith With Its Readers? (DW).
Dr. Kaldon,

Again thank you for your email and for the link to your essay. The information regarding the changes to the TV listing have been printing weekly since the weekend following Thanksgiving. Here is additional information on the new partner product, TV Weekly magazine - We have partnered with a local Michigan company to provide the TV Weekly magazine subscription as a substitute for the TV listings. This significant upgrade features 44 pages of local content including: channel guides; large, easy to read type; puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku; sports listings; celebrity features and birthday information; horoscopes; a cable conversion chart; relevant stories; news; and expansive movie listings.

We will provide free samples of TV Weekly in the paper on January 4 and 11. The samples will allow you to experience TV Weekly and will contain information on how to subscribe.

Beginning Sunday January 18, TV Weekly will be delivered on Sundays to those who subscribe to TV Weekly. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Now I know why I didn't see the messages -- given the irregular not-every-day-of-the-week service plus the Mlive emails, I simply don't read the newspaper cover to cover like I used too. Too much of the articles I've already read by the time they show up 1-2 Days later. THIS is the problem with not making a daily paper a daily paper.

Plus... the cable conversion chart is not complete, not that I need it much, but still, they're touting it as a feature. And two TV sections ago they used to have movie listings, so we're restoring functionality. The previous TV Guide included Sudoku and crossword puzzles, which for now are relocated to another section. The old section offered seven Sudoku/week. The new, offers two -- and no author/source listed. Celebrity birthdays are already in the Entertainment section of the paper on Sunday. And as a physicist, I cannot tell you how pumped I am to get horoscopes. I can not. Really.

This is the problem with one-size-fits-all products. They don't match, they don't fit. We've been down this road before.

So... what does this new joy of a weekly TV section cost? Good luck trying to find out. The cover price is $2.99 an issue, as if anyone would pay that much for it. It didn't say in the paper. It doesn't say on the newspaper subscription page. And go to the TV Weekly webpage -- and it doesn't say either! You actual have to click on the Subscribe button to even see a price and I don't think that's cool:

1 year subscription - $39.00 - 52 issues = $0.75 each


Tuesday, Thursday, & Sunday Print Delivery + Daily Digital Edition + My Michigan Membership - Only $14.77 every 4 weeks!BEST OFFER!

So we're already paying $192.01/year for The Grand Rapids Press. This new "deal" will cost us $231.01/year, an increase of 20% for getting an inferior product from last month.

And it's not like this 20% cost increase is going to The Press. THEY aren't lowering their price to pay for less work and costs on their end. Profit for them.

Plus, here's the kicker, I have worked home delivery -- for The Chicago Tribune. And do you think that having two tiers of Sunday customers, those with and without the TV Weekly delivered with the Sunday papers is going to go well? I. Don't. Think. So.

This deal sucks.

I keep hearing Darth Vader in the background, breathing heavily, and saying, "Pray I don't alter it any further."

The other music I hear swelling in the background is a funeral dirge for the American newspaper. If this is what they think their customer wants, I do hope their resumes are current.

Look, I can get local news from three local TV stations and their websites. For free.

I can find a lot of the comics online. For free.

And I'm a published author -- I WANT the comic authors to be paid, dammit.

But... you can't keep cutting and cutting and costing me more and claim it's sunshine and roses. That just doesn't fly.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to me. Sigh. I am going to have to rethink this newspaper subscription thing. At least cut back to Sunday only.

Sunday Print Delivery + Daily Digital Edition + My Michigan Membership - Only $10.84 every 4 weeks!

That'd save me... $192.01/year - $140.92/year = $51.09/year. Hey, I can afford to buy the stupid TV Weekly and still have $12.09/year to buy 1-2 extra movie tickets a year. After all, the Powers That Be at the Press already expect me to use the Daily Digital Edition to read the funnies four out of six days a week -- they've made it a no-brainer for me to CUT my subscription. And some of that money saved will go to support a local business other than The Grand Rapids Press.

Unless their whole goal was to cut out home subscription and fire a lot of drivers.

Either way, well played.

Dr. Phil

NOTE: Mrs. Dr. Phil points out we pay every six months. So not totally sure if this best rate above is correct -- I'm just going on what was on the website. Obviously, to be continued...
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Crossposted on LiveJournal

First Winter Snow 2014-15

After the intense snows of mid-November, resulting in snow days at both GVSU and WMU, December was... nothin. Totally month snowfall measured in tenths of inches. White Christmas forecast... and cancelled.

So the snow started Saturday night, first weekend of the new year. On and off during Sunday. 19°F in evening. 9°F when I went to bed at 2am., 8°F Monday morning at 6:45am. Everything looked like it was coated in white vacuum form plastic, but traffic on the road seemed to be cruising at reasonable speeds. 11°F at noon. I saw some blue sky from the bathroom at 1:20pm. I had thought of going out to take some pictures in the snow, but spent the day scoping out the effective Grand Rapids Press rate increase/service decrease. (sour-grin)

North murk 4:30ish on Monday, still snowing, but much lighter than earlier. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Finally, snow. All week is supposed to be snow. Still don't know what the winter is looking like overall. But at least even if I was teaching I wouldn't have had to drive in this crap today, while West Michigan tries to remember how to drive -- there were a LOT of slide offs yesterday. Western doesn't start classes until next Monday the 12th.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

First Lines of 2014

An Amusing Meme Used Before

Which I got from Mary Robinette Kowalski in 2011:
This is one of my favorite memes. It’s a look at the last year, through the first line of my first blog post of each month.
The thing about LJ memes is that you don't always know where it'll take you, so I'm willing to give this another try. I modified this, giving the blog title and the first line(s) or paragraph(s). This is all cut-and-paste, typos and all. If you want to see the context or whole posts, or just the whole year, you can go to my 2014 LiveJournal page or 2014 Dreamwidth page.

Dr. Phil's First Lines of 2014

1 -- Happy -- I am home.

I am healthy.

I can walk.

I can stand.

2 -- Pay Attention! -- But I Worked Five Days

Long strange week. Monday was a snow day. Tuesday was half a snow day -- GVSU closed but WMU didn't. I guess that makes Monday three-quarters of a snow day, since WMU closed and GVSU closed at 2pm. Anyway, on Tuesday I declared it a Too Dangerous To Drive day. Lest you think that this made it a three day work week for us, Mrs. Dr. Phil busied herself by reviewing for a journal and other stuff for classes. I worked and even Skyped in my lecture on Tuesday.

3 -- The Long And Short -- Wavelengths, that is.

I've been meaning to do this for a long time. I have two sibling camera setups. The Nikon D100R (a D100 converted to infrared use) with a 28-80mm f3.5-5.6D (New) AF-NIKKOR and a regular D100 with a 28-80mm f3.3-5.6G AF-NIKKOR. And I wanted to shoot them essentially side-by-side or rather serially, so I can see the same image in visible and IR

4 -- Ah, Deadlines -- What's the quote? I love deadlines -- I love the sound they make whooshing by.

Nice of the Kindle Fire HD spellchecker to have "whooshing."

5 -- May Day May Day May Day -- It's the First of May. 2014. We've managed to get through an odd April, only to have May weather start out equally unsettled.

6 -- The News We Knew Would Come -- By now everyone has probably heard the news. Checked my Friends feed this morning on LJ and there was official news about Jay Lake and his long battle with cancer.
Jay passed this morning, June 1 at 5:45 (PDT). Lisa and friends were with him. He will be missed.
Jay Lake had many, many friends -- he was generous with his time. And thousands more who, like me, saw him at a few cons and voraciously read his daily blog posts. His Link Salad -- a term I stole for my Astronomy classes -- was a daily fixture. And several times items I came up with were linked by Jay.

7 -- HBO 20 -- Lost In Space -- The Matrix -- Twentieth session: Lost In Space (conclusion)
There is a semi-time travel motif to the third act of Lost In Space. And they even manage an Omega-13 do-over. The second act is a Don't Go Down Into The Basement movie. Hint: you have a giant robot and have found a strange ship which may be from the future with no people but the power is on. Send the damn robot.

Any signs of intelligence in the first act are pretty much gone by the third.

8 -- Please Release Me Let Go... I Don't Love You Anymore... -- As if there aren't enough reasons to hate phones and telemarketers, there's a new and disturbing issue that has been building for a couple of years... And getting worse.

9 -- The Dread Pirate Roberts Goes To College -- Most weekends we do movies on Saturday. But this is a three-day weekend -- the last three-day weekend of the year -- and the official end of summer. So with rain forecast as possible on Saturday and Monday, we decided to see what the options were for Sunday. There's the new Daniel Radcliffe movie, but at Celebration North it would be in the evening, otherwise we'd have to go to Rivertown. We've talked about seeing Guardians of the Galaxy again, but that's a low priority. In the end, there was one amazing movie to see. A little early, so we didn't finish the Sunday paper first, but a nice day for a drive.

10 -- Foreign Objects / Aliens / What The Hell...? II -- Huh. It happened again.

While up at Michigan Tech, there was a new bruise, area of bleeding, but on the back and side of the heel, not the bottom. Mrs. Dr. Phil had joked that maybe it was that other missing piece of hydraferra blue that went missing trying to get out. But really, we thought it was irritation of resting on the back of the heel in the AFO orthotic during twelve hours of driving.

11 -- A New Theory -- Thursday morning gas was $2.96.9/gallon for regular, $3.11.9/gal for midgrade. No coupon. (Sigh)

12 -- It's Official -- Sabbatical 2.0 -- I'm adjunct. I don't get sabbaticals, unless I want to declare one.


Health -- 3
Teaching -- 2
Writing -- 2
Rants -- 2
Other Topics -- 3

Of course cherry picking just the first post of the month misses lots. But it's like posting the first lines of story -- you never know what you get. And it amuses me.

Dr. Phil
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Crossposted on LiveJournal