Sunday, March 27, 2005

Southward, Ho!

Friends. This week begins spring break for my kids. Karen and I plan to whisk them southward on a tropical spring break. Back next week-end. Don't forget to feed the cats.

But, before we go, let me just take a moment to tip my cap to Al Mascitti, of the News Journal, for his take on the Sussex County Council's vote on the Terri Schiavo case -- Sussex council suffers delusions of grandeur on Schiavo case. "Delusional popinjay"! Man, that's apt.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

First Golf Game of 2005

I played 18 holes yesterday at Lighthouse Sound, just outside Ocean City, MD. I played rather badly (unoffical score: 126 strokes [But hey, it was raining to 40 degrees!]), but still saw signs of hope. There were several golf shots that actually looked like golf shots. The occasional putt drained impressively. There were even a few holes on which I had a shot at par (not that I ever made par, but still....).

Golf is one of those games which no one can always play well, but almost everyone gets at least one shot each round that brings hope and that brings them back for the next.

I played with Andy, who has taught me the game; Rich, who has long been Andy's golf buddy; and Sandy, a colleague from my life as a spatial data coordinator. It was something of a risk, bring together friends from my work life and friends from my home life, but I was pleased with the mix; we all had a great time, plenty of laughs, and everyone made some impressive shots.

After, Sandy had to head back to Newark. Andy, Rich and I were joined by our lovely wives for a wonderful dinner at the club's restaurant.

All things considered, it was a very pleasant day.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sin Tax Update

I was interested to read the News Journal editorial today on the proposal for an increase in the Cigarette tax here in Delaware. The editorial -- Gov. Minner should ask for even bigger tobacco tax increase -- makes some good points. Both Janet and Delacrat, in their comments on my previous post, more or less suggested that maybe the proposed increase wasn't enough. We'll see how it goes!

Guerrilla Art

There's an artist from England who calls himself Banksy. Recently he snuck his art into the major New York City museums, including this faux insect specimen he added to the Museum of Natural History.

This image is from a great collection on Wooster Collective.

I thought this was funny. I first read about it on MetaFilter this afternoon. This evening, the artist was interviewed on NPR's All Things Considered.

At least, it may have been him; the artist known as Banksy did admit that the interview might just be one more prank.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Sin Tax Time!

This will get interesting. Governor Minner announced some of her legislative agenda today. A major part of the story is a proposed hike in the cigarette tax (News Journal). According to the story, it's "not to raise more money but to further discourage teenagers from smoking."

I have to admit, I was a smoker. I started smoking as a teen. I started smoking because as a 17-year old I was mature-looking enough to buy cigarettes for a young lady I wanted to impress.

Seven years later the young lady was long gone from my life, but I was still smoking -- two packs a day before I finally quit. I quit in the fall of 1986. It was hard to do but entirely worth it.

So I think I can support the idea of a sin tax; it might have made it a little harder for me to get started. Maybe I would have not started. That would have been good.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Coffee With Linda

Karen and the girls and I assisted this morning at two church services at the United Methodist Church in Rehoboth Beach. Karen, of course, is a key member of the Church Bell Choir. Colleen, a favorite stand-in was on hand to fill-in for one of the choir members who was absent. Christina filled in for a missing Kids Choir member. The four of us provided percussion for an African-themed hymn. Great fun.

We played at the early service, then had an hour or so to kill before the late service. Christina went to Sunday school. Karen, Colleen and I wandered over to Brew-Ha-Ha for chai tea, hot chocolate and a mochachino. A small clatch of bell ringers and choir members was there; Linda, John, Gail, Aleta, and Ken. Bill, Cathy and Lindsey Shook were at another table.

We pulled up chairs and had a pleasant hour catching up with friends, gossiping, and laughing.

Church is about community. Community is about friends. Friends are about laughter.

It's a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I Do Enjoy A Good Freudian Typo!

How long before they find this and fix it?

Update: By 1:00 p.m., on 3/18/05, they'd found and fixed it.

One of Those Things That Ought To Mean Something But Probably Doesn't And Yet I Figured I Should Report On It Anyway

Putting on my uniform shirt this morning (regulation blue, button-down, Oxford cloth), I found myself once again pushing one of those drier sheet thingys out of one of the sleeves. This isn't the first time this has happened.

There are four of us in the house, but the drier sheet thingy always seems to settle comfortably into one of my shirts when it manages to hide among the laundry. Maybe it's because I'm the largest person and there's more room in my sleeves.

But why is it always in my right-hand sleeve? That's just troubling.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Giving new meaning to the idea of a "perp walk"

This is a photo by Jim Cresson, from the March 11 edition of the Cape Gazette. It's for a story about the return to Delaware of dog that was part of a pack that attacked a local boy. The owners had apparently tried to hide the dog in Virginia. It was found and has been sent back. I was really struck by the expression on the dog's face in this picture; it's like he knows the charges he faces.

Friday, March 11, 2005

On Reynolds Pond

Sunset, Reynolds Pond, on Route 30 north of Milton, Delaware. March 10, 2005

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What Do They Think We Do Around Here?

This is the bulletin board across from the elevators on the first floor of the Thomas Collins Building, in Dover, where I work.

Something about this has been bugging me as I pass to and from my humble office.

The Calvary Assembly of God's flier is to be expected, as is the Longaberger Basket Bingo party that's set, in Camden, for the Ides of March.

There are the usual cards from the Masonry Contractor, from Handyman Sam, and from the Party Planner.

There are memos from the Building Management people telling us why we're too cold in the winter and too warm in the summer. And someone has posted a news brief on donating coats to the needy.

All this I understand.

But, the card that has caught my eye each time I use the elevator is the card from ASAP Bail Bonds. That one puzzles me.

Of course, I am certain that when one needs a bail bondsman one needs that bail bondsman as soon as possible indeed. But what possible need is a building full of state employees likely have for that no-doubt valuable service, soon or late?

Lawyers? Possibly. Psychologists? Maybe. Massage therapists? Definitely.

But a Bail Bondsman? Man, I hope not.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

My Own Subdivision!

Welcome to the Woods of Mahaffie, a new 34-lot subdivision in Olathe, Kansas.

I was expecting this new neighborhood to be closer to the Mahaffie House and Stagecoach Shop, the historic site in Olathe that several generations ago was an inn run by some of my forebears. It turns out to be somewhat north of that site (see the neat google map). The subdivision site is on the east side of N. Nelson Rd., across from W. 122nd St.

I used the Olathe city web site's on-line map system to nail down the location. A nice Internet Map Service, by the way.

I shared the plot map with some of my colleagues at the State Planning Office.

"Kinda cookie-cutter," was the reaction. I guess I have to agree.

Still, there are 34 lots in this thing. The branch of the Mahaffie clan that I'm part of numbers just about that now. If Karen and I and our kids and my siblings and siblings-in-law and parents and nieces and nephews each bought a lot, we'd just about fill the place up (with maybe one lot left for a clubhouse?).

Then we could rename it: "The Woods (Full) of Mahaffie(s)"

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Bummer: Chuck Thompson Has Passed On

I'm saddened to read that Chuck Thompson has died (Yahoo! News - Hall of Fame Sportscaster Thompson Dies). Chuck Thompson was the Voice of the Orioles on the radio and, along with Jon Miller, talked me through my introduction to Baseball and helped make me a fan of the Orioles. I'm still looking forward to the start of the season, but there's a hole now.

Irony, Anyone?

I've been enjoying the on-going story of dissension in the ranks of the Delaware GOP following the last election. Not because I am a democrat, I am (and a liberal one), but because it seems to highlight some of the things that drive me crazy about both major parties: mostly that sense that party members have to toe the line regardless of common sense or regardless of what may be best for their constituents.

Terry Strine, the current head of the Delaware republican party, is being challenged in his bid for reelection to the post in part because of charges that he, or at least his family, supported democrat candidates in some downstate races. Those charges come from, among others, Jud Bennet, from my home town, who lost his race for County Council by only 3 votes.

Most recently, a small stink arose at the state GOP Committee's annual dinner, which featured Bob Elder of the infamous "Swift Boat Veterans," when an e-mail criticizing Mr. Strine was sent out by a group calling itself "Swift Boat Republicans for Truth." ('Swift Boat' group criticizes GOP chair, from the 3/5/05 News Journal)

That raised a few hackles.

With an election for a new party chairman just weeks away, Delaware GOP National Committeewoman Priscilla Rakestraw said the e-mails violate the party tenet that members should not speak badly of one another.

"There are people who are out to destroy our party," Rakestraw said in a quick speech before Elder took the stage at the Dover Sheraton. "There are people who are using the Swift Boat name to advance their own political agenda. If we're going to have a campaign, let's campaigning on the issues - not engage in smear campaigns."

Yes. Let's do stop resorting to all the smear campaigns, shall we?

By the way. Everyone seems to be wondering just who these "Swift Boat republicans" might be. Let's see, who do we know in this whole mess that has some tie-in with boats? May I quietly point out that Mr. Bennett was a Delaware Bay Pilot?

Friday, March 4, 2005

Heavens! Is It That Time Almost?

The other day, I was having lunch with a colleague in Dover. It was one of those places with several television sets posted high up on the walls around the dining room. My eye was caught by a flash of green on one of the screens, a glow of light, white lines and men in uniforms. I turned to look and saw one of the first games of spring training from Florida. It was the Yankees playing the Pirates.

Spring training baseball games are like little packets of summer that you can open when it's in the mid-20's and snow is in the forecast.

I know that the season is still well down the road, but I can't help but have a little hope when I see baseball, even pre-season baseball, on the tube again!

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

In Other Words, He's Not Even Willing To Listen

Delaware State Representative Gerald Hocker has strong feelings about gay rights. So strong, in fact, that he has publicly declared in today's Cape Gazette newspaper (Sussex County is divided on gay rights legislation) that it's not worth anyone's time to try to get him to consider legislation banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Rep. Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, said he does not need to be lobbied, despite a new repackaging of the bill with limiting language about the legislative intent.

“I hold my ground against the bill. It is a completely antibusiness piece of legislation, and I do not think it is needed,” Hocker said.
The bill is a watered-down (at least in my view) version of legislation that passed the House last session but was sat-upon by a right-wing committee chair in the Senate.

Opponents worried that the bill would open the door to same-sex marriages (gasp, shudder). So the new version was re-written to say that that is not the intent of the bill.

Representative Hocker is not convinced. Or rather, he's not even willing to discuss the issue. I guess that's what bugs me. I don't mind if I lose an argument; if I can even have the argument.