Dec 212015
 

Starting Wednesday afternoon and continuing into Thursday, Austin Houston Crockett Bowie Bonham III called my office a total of eleven times, requesting that Gretchen schedule an emergency telephone consultation with me as soon as possible. Actually, “requested” and “as soon as possible” put it rather mildly – as regular readers of this Web log know, Austin is from Texas, wealthy, and accustomed to having his way. “That [expletive] cowboy is driving me nuts,” she complained. “Can’t we bump somebody or work late or something, please?” The compromise arrived at was to start business early on Friday; 6:00 AM, to be precise. Since Austin was calling from Texas, which is in the Central Time Zone, of course, that meant he had […]

Nov 282015
 

At noon on Wednesday, Gretchen let me know that my sister-in-law Katje was on Line Two and wanted to speak with me. Since the extended family Thanksgiving dinner was slated to occur at my home this year, and Katje is a very committed and emphatic vegan, I assumed that was the reason for her call – to make sure there would be sufficient strictly healthy vegetarian fare, especially beans, spinach, kale, broccoli, pulses and brown rice; to verify that, for example, the pumpkin pie crust was not going to be made with any animal products, such as lard; to discourage the use of butter, milk and cream, organic or otherwise, whether from grass-fed or ordinary cows, in the mashed potatoes […]

Nov 192015
 

This morning, my ten-thirty AM consultation was with an economist from the USDA. We spent about an hour and ten minutes discussing the ramifications of the Renewable Fuel Standard and its impacts on the corn market. Manufacturing fuel ethanol from corn was a stupid idea when it got started during the Carter administration, of course, and it’s a still a stupid idea today, but stupidity never kept the US government from doing anything the farm lobby and agribusiness happen to want. There was still plenty of analysis remaining, but my guest cut things off twenty minutes early. “Thanks, Tom,” she said with a smile as a gentleman whom I had never met opened the door to the reception area and […]

Nov 092015
 

At the request of my dear sister Rose’s parish priest, I accepted a telephone consultation appointment with Sister Moecha Meretrix, the principal of the Catholic school to whom Rose sends her vast brood of Catholic children, Mother Superior of a local Dominican convent, and, as it happens, a member of the Ecumenical Congress of the United States of America Board of Directors. I was very busy during the week, so I arranged for her to call me at my home in Great Falls, Virginia on Saturday afternoon. Tom: Hello, Mother Superior Meretrix. MS: Uh… hello, is this Tom Collins? Tom: It is indeed, Mother Superior. MS: Um… how did you… Tom: I have Caller ID, Mother Superior. MS: Oh. I […]

Sep 212015
 

This morning, I received a visit from Dr. Benjamin Cash, a branch chief from the Treasury Department. He was there to review the results of a currency logistics mathematical model which I developed after being requested to do so last June, when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that a portrait of a woman would replace Alexander Hamilton on the obverse side of the US ten dollar bill. The model calculates the lengths of service and rates of circulation, inactivity and return for destruction of ten dollar notes bearing various female portraits, assuming the reverse remains constant and consists of a neutral image of a well-known public building, in terms of a matrix of parametric partial differential coefficients representing esthetic, political, […]