Why didn’t California gasoline prices go up on January first?

On January first I drove by the gasoline station just like I d0 every day. The price was marked $2.439 a gallon. The price was cheaper than the day before. Hours later they had raised the price to a few pennies above the price it was the day before.

Where was the ten to fifteen cents higher price caused by the tax hike on January first? The deep seated conspiracy theorist in me shouted enemy action.

It’s bad enough to get selfies from a friend who is visiting Utah and the picture shows gasoline at $1.89 a gallon.

A reasonable guess is that the gasoline companies knew the price was going up so they did not lower the price of gasoline in the preceding months to lessen the shock when the tax goes into effect. It would have made the companies a nice little profit and it would not scare buyers away or to another brand of gasoline. It would take market wide (state wide) collusion but big oil has been accused of worse.

The tax money collected will go into the general fund. It would take a very dedicated reporter to determine just how much money was collected for this cap and trade tax. On budget reports it will be lumped in with many other similar taxes. Once in the general fund the money will be spent on whatever the politicians think is the most important thing is now.

From what I’ve seen of the national level politicians and the federal budget that just passed the most important thing was to increase the amount they could receive as campaign donations. Or in simple terms get re-elected. Will that be the use of the new gasoline tax monies?

Only someone with skill and talent could show how much money was collected in the new gasoline tax and how much of it was spent for carbon emission reduction, above what was spent last year. Politicians know how to spend money but will it be for things that befit the voters of California?

Don’t forget these are the same lawmakers that are trying to tax fuel saving cars such as electric cars because they were not paying their share of road costs. That would imply that they do not care about the environment they just want to  collect more tax money.

Write on, draw on.  Professor Hyram Voltage

One Monday down and only 51 more to go this year.

After several days of very light traffic the roads are back to normal, not that heavy traffic is a good thing when you have to drive that road.

Write on, draw on.  Professor Hyram Voltage

Rain in California

We had a little bit of rain for a couple of hours the other night. Most people would call it a mist. That’s a big thing where we have had only a few hours of rain in the last ten months. I was expecting it to get the ground soaked and then get some real rain and real mud slides. Didn’t happen.

More cities are talking about putting in desalinization plants to make fresh water. This county depends on agriculture for a large part of it’s economy. Desalted water cost to much to use for farming.

The voters in this county have stop every company that wants to move a large number of jobs into the county. There is one airplane parts manufacture has been trying to move into this county for years and bring 5000 jobs. The locals don’t want it.

Desalted water is to expensive to use for farming and if the drought goes on for much longer the farms go out of business. Without jobs who will be able to pay for the water to drink?

This area of bedroom communities is going to become a nice place to visit but you can’t afford to buy the water to live there.

Write on, draw on.   Professor Voltage.

Halloween and Payback

Last night I handed out candy to the trick-or-treaters. Not many people do that on my block. I must live on a block of cheapskates. The lights were out at most of the houses near me.

I had my lights on, Halloween music playing, and a big bowl of candy waiting.

I liked Halloween as a kid, dressing up and getting candy. When I was very small we lived out in the country side and there was no trick-or-treating, but they did hold a carnival at the grade school.

Handing out candy is payback for the good times I had as a kid.

There is more than one way to do a payback, so why hide and be angry?

There were not as many children out this year as there were last year. I estimate 75 to 100 for this year, where last year it was 150 to 200.


Write on, draw on.  Professor Voltage.

Dealing with the Government, a Good Experience

I needed to change some information with the federal government Office of Personnel and Management and I was dreading doing it.

I put it off as long as I could. Then I had to do it.

After a long search I found the letter they sent me with my Unique Identifier Number (UIN) on it. The government web site gave me nothing but trouble. I quickly found out that you cannot bookmark a link to the inside of the web site so you can return to that place quickly. You have to start on the home page and go through all the drop down menus.

After hours of going around in circles with the web site I get a page that says you can’t do what I want to do and it said call this number.

I prepare myself for a long wait (restroom break, coffee, and water) and make the call.

I got a person after a couple of rings. She was cheerful, knowledgeable, and fast. In a couple of minutes I had three problems taken care of.

If only the rest of the government worked like this.

Now I’ve jinked it, people reading this will call instead of trying to use the web site which will cause long telephone wait times.

I should have bought a lottery ticket yesterday.

Write on, draw on.   Professor Voltage.

Hospital Food is really that Bad

The last couple of days I’ve been with a sick relative in the hospital. Been doing a lot of hand holding while the doctors try to figure out what caused the problem. Don’t let anyone fool you, we need more tools, diagnostic techniques, cures, research. One day you’re going to get sick and wish there was a better way to get well.

It’s been long, long days with someone who needed me there. After a grueling day of waiting for tests to be run, or this or that doctor to see my relative I was hungry. The nurse said they had a spare lunch tray and I could have, I was hungry and not thinking to clearly so I did. How could they mess up Mac and Cheese (macaroni and cheese). It looked fancy with good presentation. But it was next to a big pile of steamed cauliflower. The chicken soup was too thin and lacked flavor.

In their defense it was a heart healthy meal but no wonder my relative wasn’t eating.

It was warm when served but the Mac and Cheese had that no fat taste or lack of taste. It also was devoid of salt.

So it’s not so much the fault of the hospital, the problem is that we eat such unhealthy food.

Three food groups; Salt, sugar, and diet coke.

Write on, draw on.  Professor Voltage

What’s the Holiday Hurry

Driving home tonight and I passed three houses on my block with bright red Christmas lights. It’s not Halloween yet.

I like a little competition but these people are getting carried away. There wasn’t a single orange or black (UV) light set out for a Halloween decoration.

Red is the color of lights to have for Christmas this year. None of the lights I passed blink. When I put mine up they blink and they don’t go up until after Thanksgiving.

I guess using Christmas lights would be OK if you were dressing up as an elf or Santa Claus for Halloween, but that’s just tacky.

It’s almost as bad as the Big Lots store. On October 2nd they had more shelves of Christmas stuff than Halloween stuff. Next thing you know they will have Christmas stuff for sale along side the fourth of July stuff.

Even the guy that leaves his Christmas lights up all year hasn’t turned them on yet.

Slow down and enjoy each holiday as it comes. They only come once a year.


Write on, draw on.  Professor Voltage


Artists don’t respect their customers

Artists don’t respect their customers. I attended a panel at the recent Conjecture 2014 conference where two artist gave a talk.

I have mentioned before that I find artists are not morning people. The panel started at 10:00 AM yet one panel speakers complained that it was too early. I am on the computer working by 7:00 AM every morning along with other engineers I know. To us 10:00 is time to take a break from work and stretch our legs.

Neither artist brought a laptop to the panel (although one said she had one in her hotel room) yet both artists wanted to show pictures of great artwork to the attendees and did not have hard copies. There’s always problems with getting the laptop to talk to the projector but this is ridiculous. Ended up having to walk to the speakers table to look at their cell phones to see the artwork.

Is this an example of the artist disconnect with their customers or is it artist arrogance where artist believe that people will buy whatever they make because it is art and they are very good. What if people are not buying the type or style of art the artist is producing. Could this be why there are so many starving artists?

Maybe I care about my customers, maybe I care to much? Maybe I’ll always be an engineer and never an artist.

Write on, draw on.  Professor Voltage.

Luna Eclipse

It’s cloudy many nights of the year here so Wednesday Oct 8 I got up at 3:00 AM to see the totality of the Lunar Eclipse. The moon does not get as red as the news would make it. Also there was a thin bit of white on one side of the moon instead of being completely red. Unlike a solar eclipse the Lunar eclipse takes a long time to unfold.

While waiting for the moon to slip fully into the shadow I saw that the Orion constellation was high over head. I turned my binoculars on the three stars of Orion’s sword. I had forgotten that the three stars were doubles. I need magnification to split (show them as two stars) them.

The sky was clear and the stars were bright, even with four street lights visible from the back yard. The stars barely twinkled. I should have gotten a copy of Sky and Telescope. There were two stars that most likely were planets but I don’t keep track of which planets are where in the sky like I use to so I don’t know which ones they were.

I could hear the barking of sea lions in the night air. There was plenty of traffic even that early in the morning. The dew was heavy too.

After 45 minutes I headed back inside. It had been a long day and the coming day promised to be a hard long day also.

Still I got to see the eclipse and the temperature wasn’t as bad as the time I went down to Baja California to see the total eclipse of the sun.

Writ on, draw on.  Professor Voltage.