August 20th, 2015

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Meanwhile On The Paying Job...

Wednesday ended up being a good day -- a very productive day.

It almost wasn't.

Late Tuesday night a storm rolled through while I was preparing handouts for a Wednesday meeting. Yes, I have surge protectors -- even on laptops -- but still. If things are going bad, then you just know they'll go all the way to putrid if they have a chance. Meanwhile, the forecast for Wednesday had a nasty line of thunderstorms rolling through Kalamazoo and the US-131 corridor between 11am and noon -- just when I would be expecting to arrive in K-zoo.

Why don't you leave earlier, Dr. Phil? Sure. If I had planned on leaving early, say on a school day, I would be going to bed earlier -- not working on a number of things on the computer until after 3am. I've been using mornings as nap time after getting up with Mrs. Dr. Phil and getting armored up in my foot brace. Left to myself, I'm afraid I tend to go to bed around 4am... I am not going to try to stupidly function on 2-3 hours of sleep.

What was bad about the forecast wasn't just rain, but big storm. 60mph winds. Hail. See, I work really hard to keep my bad foot dry. It was storm water getting into an open blister on my foot which probably caused the initial infection back in April 2013 -- and I'm still recovering from that. Also I still have a hole in my foot, though these days it doesn't go down to the bone. And it's one thing to get in and try to be careful when one is teaching. But for a meeting? Pfft. Alas, rescheduling was going to be complicated.

But by 7:35 in the morning, the Weather Channel app on my Kindle Fire HD was showing that the line of storms wasn't going to come in until 1pm. That was the time of the meeting, so I'd already be on campus. In fact, it never did rain -- percentages were dropping steadily during the day -- not until after dinner in the evening.

So after a nap, quick check of emails, bathroom, a hard boiled egg -- we added an egg to my diet to bring my protein levels up and promote healing, but it's easier to mess with the egg at home (grin) -- I gathered up my stuff and headed out. Time out logged in the Blazer was 10:11.

Gas has been flirting between $2.38.9 and $2.89.9/gal for the last month or so. And then it's been going down -- "$2 gas for Labor Day" said the pundits. Until last week when it shot up 30¢ one day and 30¢ the next, eventually pinging up at $2.99.9/gal for regular. Seems a BP refinery in Indiana was unexpectedly down. This after the gas mavens were already nervous about a West Coast refinery outage, even though there's no way for gasoline to easily cross the Rockies, so their shortage shouldn't have affected Midwest prices. Anyway, this morning regular was $2.87.9, making midgrade $3.07.9 -- except I had a 75¢/gal coupon from Family Failure -- which made it $2.32.9/gal. "$2 gas for Christmas" say the pundits this week.

Don't you love it when your 75¢ discount just happens to be magically eaten up by the 60¢ spike plus the 20¢ grade differential?

The drive in was mostly sunny, with some big clouds playing in between blue patches of sky. It was humid and unfortunately, the A.C. on the Blazer has been getting more and more anemic with each passing week. We'll take it in for a recharge tomorrow. But I couldn't just open the windows. I've been on doxycycline for over a year, and while I've not had much problem with it being a photoreactive antibiotic, in truth I am a little mole person who doesn't get much direct sun. And I needed the UV protection of the glass.

But I got in. My usual handicapped parking space was there. I made copies of the handout I'd written in the wee hours. No problem with making the 1pm meeting.

See I'm teaching PHYS-1070 Elementary Physics this fall -- the 29th time I've taught this course -- and we are switching to a free online Physics textbook. One that we're using for PHYS-1130/1150, the full year course. For the one-semester PHYS-1070, I've been working on chopping it down to a reasonable amount of material. The meeting was about the PHYS-1080 lab course, which is getting completely updated for the first time in a long time. To put it another way, some of the labs previously used had been typed... Making it all interesting is that the three largest group of majors taking this course are pretty different -- Aviation, Speech Pathology and Exercise Science. Good meeting. The lab people have been working hard.

Oh, and while I was on campus, I downloaded the textbook onto my second Kindle Fire HD -- 93MB took about 15 seconds. This is what happens when the WiFi nodes are hooked up to gigabit Internet. At home the DSL is the limiting factor, not the WiFi. My students will have no excuses. (big-grin)

Lunch back at my office. Then a 3pm conference call with the care facility in North Carolina where my mother is these days. Hmm, is it still a conference call when only one person is on the other end? Anyway, things are stable. Stable is good.

Rechecked the Weather Channel app -- no rain until at least 8pm now. No particular reason I had to stay until 5pm or later, so Elvis Left The Building at 4:35. Campus is pretty empty right now. By next week things will begin hopping. So, I took this opportunity to go left, instead of right, out of Lot 61. HEY! They finally fixed the road markings! A couple of years ago they changed the left and right turn lanes onto the street into a single exit lane, to make the entrance lane bigger. Because they had created a new bus stop, taking up a chunk of the parking lot and they needed the clearance for the buses to make the turn. But they put in the new new bus stop last year -- or was it the year before -- freeing back up all the parking spaces. Unfortunately, they left only one exit lane. So normally I turn right and at 5pm I'd be stuck behind all these idiots waiting to turn left onto a traffic jam.

Anyway, the point of my turning left was to go down to Parking Services and get my '15-'16 campus parking hangtag. Yes, as part of the Part-Time Instructors union contract we finally got real parking permits. Before I had to get a temporary permit every semester, which was taped to the far side of the windshield and had to be peeled off and moved if I was driving a different vehicle.

Next week they'll be lines out the doors with grad students, part-timers and some campus apartment dwellers all getting parking. Today? No line. Two wads of people obviously together -- and three clerks. So at 4:45, I was in and out in minutes. Don't even have to sign any stupid paperwork anymore either.

Coming out there was another SUV in one of the 15 minute business parking spots past my Blazer in the Handicapped parking. A black family was standing around their tailgate. In the middle of the parking lot lane was a trio of blonds. Apparently the girls on the right had realized that the college student girl on the left with her family was in their dorm -- and they'd gone over to help the family figure out the byzantine paperwork and parking procedures. Ah... one group of students feeding the hard won arcane knowledge to the next student. Gotta love college.

Easy drive home, except for playing sun battles again. Amazing how you end up with drivers arm in both directions between morning and evening. How is this fair? (evil-grin)

We're getting closer to being operational for Fall 2015...

Dr. Phil
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Crossposted on LiveJournal
helsinki-in-2017

A Semi NPR Fail

Who, What, Why, Where, How -- the journalist's questions.

I've long been in a battle with newspapers for not putting the damned day of the week next to dates, particularly announcements of events, concerts, etc. Truthfully, our ability to go to such things is very much dependent on weekends and free evenings.

But sometimes they do less than full diligence.

Coming home from K-zoo Wednesday, All Things Considered on the Ann Arbor NPR station repeater ran a piece around 5:50pm on the Hugos.

Now I've kept fairly low key about the squabbles about the 2015 Hugo Awards -- the science fiction honors handed out at WorldCon each year. More than one news outlet has had sloppy reporting and research. I think they get seduced by the word "puppies" in combination with controversy, and either figure it's a joke or doesn't require much heavy duty research effort.

Alas, I have to call out National Public Radio on the carpet a little bit.

To their credit, they presented it as a case of two sides and had clips from Brad Torgersen for the Sad Puppies and Kameron Hurley for the... Un Puppies? *** But it was a pretty short piece.

I'm sure there'll be megabytes killed and slaughtered on many sides for what was and was not said. For example, not bringing up the two puppy camps -- the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies -- is a vast oversimplification and tends to tar people with too broad a brush. Or the record setting number of memberships and Hugo votes.

But here's the worst part:
MAYER: The Hugos will be given out this Saturday at the World Science Fiction Convention, where organizers will also meet to discuss changing the nomination process. Petra Mayer, NPR News.
An innocuous concluding statement, right?

Except for the glaring omission of "Sasquan", "Spokane" and "73rd WorldCon". WorldCons are individual efforts done by a particular hardworking community cohort each year, and as far as NPR's coverage, it might as well be a secret cabal meeting in an undisclosed location. I mean, Wikipedia got the reporting right: "The 2015 Hugos will be presented at the 73rd Worldcon, Sasquan, in Spokane, Washington on August 22, 2015."

Except maybe for missing the word "Saturday." (grin) Way to go, NPR, you got that right.

Dr. Phil

*** Please note that "Puppies" is what the two puppy groups called themselves. I do not use it as a pejorative.

75th WorldCon NOTE: Hugo voting is long over, but if you are AT Sasquan, you can still vote for the 75th WorldCon site selection. Me? I voted for Helsinki, as you could guess from my LJ icon.
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Crossposted on LiveJournal
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