January 7th, 2015

good-gulf

30?

After having the lowest average gas prices in the nation, I think all of West Michigan was wondering how long it would last. Apparently to Monday. The news reported that oil had dropped yet again on the world market.

Which would perfectly explain the 30¢/gallon jump from $1.76.9/gal to $2.06.9/gal for regular at our usual gas station. Perfectly, as in it doesn't explain it at all.

Given the Return of the Polar Vortex from last year, our first real snows of the year, over ice, and bitter wind chills over in Wisconsin and Minnesota triggering school closings for wind chills below -35°F, one expects the price jump is in reaction to that.

Or a full moon.

Or... insert any old story you want.

Happy New Year, folks.

Dr. Phil
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Crossposted on LiveJournal
smirking-winslet

It's All Sunshine and Roses With The Grand Rapids Press Part III

It's one thing to rant and snark online. I do actually feel bad when some poor person has to deal with irate customers -- which would be me. But I am also an educator and I feel the need to try to educate, as well.

Rather than just blogging into the aether, I continue to reply to and provide blog links regarding my annoyance at the latest round of changes with The Grand Rapids Press. Today I got this latest reply:
Thank you for taking the time to write in regarding the renewal price of your renewal statement. After an extensive review of our current pricing, cost structures, and operations, there were a number of factors driving the slight increase, including the cost of fuel to deliver papers and the cost of resources to produce the printed edition of the paper. Although, you are seeing a small increase over your previous rate you are still receiving home delivery at a discount with savings over the newsstand price.

In addition to your great rate, we would like remind you that home delivery of the paper provides you with inserts, coupons, neighborhood coverage, and many other added value such as;
1. Delivery of the paper to your home, in print and digital format.
2. Enhanced, exclusive local news coverage.
3. Complimentary 24/7 access to the all 8 digital versions of MLive Media Group publications.
4. Our many featured Membership Benefits, accessed on https://members.mlive.com
5. The convenience of our online subscriber services portal to file vacation holds, make changes to your delivery schedule or report delivery problems.

With that being said we hope you will see the value in keeping the newspaper that you have come to enjoy.

Please let us know if we can assist you further.
To which I answered:
I would point out that 20% is not a slight price increase to me. As I said in my second blog piece:

"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."

To take your points one at a time:
"In addition to your great rate, we would like remind you that home delivery of the paper provides you with inserts ---most of which we don't care about ---, coupon ---we pretty much have stopped clipping coupons because the yield is paltry compared to the effort, we just don't buy that stuff ---, neighborhood coverage, and many other added value such as;
1. Delivery of the paper to your home, in print and digital format.
--- Home delivery having been cut to 3x/week at best, and problematic digital delivery (a whole other issue which I am still working up -- yesterday I again tested the digital versions on the Kindle Fire HD and hoo-boy are there some issues)

2. Enhanced, exclusive local news coverage.
--- In other words, doing the job you're supposed to. For Allendale our local coverage has been enhanced... because of The Advance which comes delivered with the Sunday paper these days.

3. Complimentary 24/7 access to the all 8 digital versions of MLive Media Group publications.
--- See above. Though I have issued compliments on the Mlive emails I get -- it's the only reason the less-than-daily delivery works for me regarding the news.

4. Our many featured Membership Benefits, accessed on
https://members.mlive.com
--- a value if one uses them.

5. The convenience of our online subscriber services portal to file vacation holds, make changes to your delivery schedule or report delivery problems. -- provided your issue fits one of the allowable categories, otherwise you still have to call."

Plus, I see zero reasons why you can't create a bundle with this obnoxious TV Weekly so-called magazine. Not even asking for a discount. If you are delivering it, why do I have to go somewhere else to order? If I call up a pizza place and order a large pepperoni (which they make) and a 2L Coke (which they don't make), I don't have to call Coca-Cola separately. One stop shopping, now that would be a convenience. And with two different billing dates and all, do I have to separately arrange for a vacation hold/credit for the TV Weekly? This new system makes no sense from the customer side of things. Period.

Apologies for taking up your time. Again.

Dr. Phil
And yes, I will detail to all my less-than-satisfactory experiences trying to read the paper on the Kindle Fire HD.

Yes -- I have caught up on the daily comics to the 1st of the year.

No -- I have not been able to do the Hidako (?) puzzles, because they are just images under the glass -- though I guess the Sudoku that used to be in their TV section are bundled up for the whole week in the Sunday paper.

No -- I have not yet bought the ridiculous separate subscription to TV Weekly.

I mean, really, they buy Parade magazine from a syndicate. They could do the same with the TV Weekly. They just don't want to have to say they're raising their rates. And I'm curious -- a lot ok f Times when I am in another city, I will buy the local paper (or have the hotel deliver one) to get, in part, the TV listings. Guess Grand Rapids is just going to have to let its visitors go high and dry, because they're not in the "in crowd" who knows.

And by the way -- No, I am still not sold on the new Washington Post Kindle Fire app.

One of the things one can do with a newspaper is clip or save articles. Neither online paper seems to allow that.

Although it might be possible to download the PDF version of The Press and clip from that. I am surprised there's no Link or Facebook/social media Shares on the Post's online version.

You would think that in this electronic era that newspapers would want the world to know that someone actually subscribes to and then actually reads and actually likes the paper... but no.

Alas.

It continues anon, gentle reader...

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr-phil-nikon-f3-1983

Seven Degrees of Freedom

7°F.

That was the temperature for much of the day through about 2pm. Yes, it's colder and snowier elsewhere, but it's what West Michigan's got to work with. And though the forecasts were for more crap through about Sunday, the day surprised us. Brilliant sunshine in the morning, with blue skies between big white clouds and perfect white snow on everything. So I decided to go out and do some photography.

The last time I went out driving was Monday 29 December 2014 -- way back last year. Since I have a much delayed dentist appointment Friday, I did want to make sure the Blazer was running in the cold after over a week. Not that I expected any problems, but you know, you have to get out every now and then.

The plan was to go out at noon -- but the driveway was blocked as the neighbor across the street came bopping up with his lawn tractor snowplow. Yay.

When I did go out, it took almost twenty minutes to get down the driveway. Oh nothing wrong, I was just shooting the trees covered in snow and drenched with snow. Later I took photos around Allendale in both sun and near whiteout conditions. Alas I cannot show you those pics today, because I was using film.

The Nikon F3blue, now outfitted with its new MD-4 motor drive, Type R screen, DA-2 Action Finder, MR-3 auxiliary shutter release, AH-3 Tripod Adapter baseplate -- loaded with Ilford XP-2 B&W film (C-41 process) -- and the cheap-to-me Nikon 35-70mm f3.3-4.5 AI-S Zoom-NIKKOR. How cheap? I may have had paid $17 plus shipping for it. Its autofocus cousin, inherited from Wendy and Paul, I use with the digital Nikon D1. But the latter is a DX sensor, so the 35-70 acts as a 50-105mm effective focal length. 70mm in FX/film is just a tad short. I shoulda brought the 70-300mm f4-4.5D ED AF-NIKKOR.

The Nikon F4s, with MF-22 Data Back -- loaded with some ISO 400 Fuji color negative film -- and the 28-200mm f3.5-5.6D AF-NIKKOR, a really good lens for shooting from the front seat.

What I can show you is a couple of pictures back at the house I shot on the Nikon D100 with the 28-80mm f3.5-5.6G AF-NIKKOR. These are all through the open bathroom window, but through the screen. That softens the images a bit, but not too bad.


It's the Thirteenth Day of Christmas... usually we turn off the lights after the 6th, but leave them up for snow scooping in the dark, if needed. The lights are still on. The festive red bows were so pretty in the morning all caked in snow. This is about 2:30pm though and the temp was up to 12°F. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


On the right side ofthe heat pump exterior unit, there's a red nameplate. Last night the snow all along the side had made a cap on it several inches high, but beginning to curl over from lack of support. Didn't get that. You can see in this shot the front walk and the steps leading down to the garden area. Uh, the sidewalk? The steps? Oh, never mind. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Last year I got some reasonable snow shots with the D100 in bright sun. This tight snow field is pretty tough for an early digital camera, but I like the gentle stark composition. Or it's a polar bear in a snow storm... (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Both rolls of 35mm film are 36 exposure and the counters are in the mid-20s. So I don't know when they'll get finished, developed and scanned. Uh, and Nikon? I know it's WAY too late to bring this up, but WHY do the frame counters on the F3 and the F4 go in opposite directions? I'm having to make old-fashioned manual exposure notes, and several times I misread the numbers and had to go back and fix them. Some day I'll buy an F5 and an F6 -- both of those have memories and can download exposure info to a CF card. But this is not that day.

Besides, I love the F3, and I'm having a ball with the F4s and the ridiculous 7.1:1 zoom range on the 28-200mm lens.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal