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 […]

Nov 012015

“Ahmed” has been annoying Gretchen with requests for an appointment since Monday, but she’s been putting him off, of course. “There’s no way,” she emphatically told me, “that running the air purification system overnight will get rid of the stench. He’s got to be the last consultation on a Friday or working Saturday, as usual, or find yourself somebody else to come in and take care of receptions the next morning. You remember what happened the last time we let him come in on a weekday that wasn’t followed by a long holiday weekend or at least a Sunday, don’t you?” Indeed I do. A typical American would think a ripe durian fruit smells like, well, the most charitable description […]

Aug 162015

Friday morning at nine, I was visited by Dr. Lura Tradkrammer, Division Director, Office of Water, US Environmental Protection Agency. My clients don’t come more agitated and anxious than she was. I could feel the tension and apprehension exuding from her as she forthrightly positioned herself in the chair directly in front of my desk. “Mr. Collins,” she timorously declared, “I’ve heard a lot about you, and frankly I was – and remain – highly skeptical of your alleged talents.” “So why are you here?” I asked. “Because the Administrator ordered that the Deputy Administrator recommend that the Assistant Administrator for Water Quality instruct the Deputy Assistant Administrator of my Division to require that I see you.” “Okay,” I observed, […]

Jun 112015

Weeknights at the Round Robin Bar tend to be quiet, uncrowded and convivial – unless it’s a Friday, when things become a bit more, shall we say, kinetic. Last night should have been one of the former, naturally, but it definitely wasn’t. When I walked in, there were Horn and Hardart, going at it hammer and tongs. “You bastard!” Horn complained, pounding his fist on the bar. “OPM paid Microsoft Federal eight figures for software and support, and God damn it, that was supposed to include some [expletive] security!” “Read the EULA,” Hardart retorted. “The software product is provided ‘as is’ and without specific guarantee in whole or part, expressed or implied!” “Now I know why you joined Congressional Country […]