Thursday, June 30, 2005

Golf in 2005

Let's let this serve as an aggregation of posts about golf played in 2005. I hope it will be a long list.

March 25, 2005 -- Lighthouse Sound, Ocean City, Maryland. With Andy Southmayd, Sandy Schenck and Rich Catonese. 126 for 18 holes. (Rainy. Cold)

April 24, 2005
-- The Heritage, Midway, Delaware. Father/daughter fun game, with Christina.

May 22, 2005 -- The Heritage, Midway, Delaware. Practice game. Alone. 54 for 9 holes.

June 19, 2005 -- Marsh Island, Angola, Delaware. With Andy Southmayd. 112 for 18 holes.

July 3, 2005 -- The Heritage, Midway, Delaware. Practice game, joined with three strangers. 123 for 18 holes.

July 10, 2005 -- Bethany Bay, Millville, Delaware. With Andy Southmayd. 88 for 18 holes on an executive length course.

July 18 and 22, 2005 -- North Country Golf Club, Rouses Point, New York. Richford Country Club, Richford, Vermont. Vacation golf. No scores.

August 21, 2005 -- The Heritage, Midway, Delaware. With Andy Southmayd. I'd post my score, but it's too depressing.

September 18, 2005 -- Marsh Island, Angola, Delaware. Epworth United Methodist Church fellowship scramble.

October 10, 2005 -- The Rookery, Milton, Delaware. With Andy Southmayd. In the not-rain.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Photo Project: Water Towers

At Town Hall, Bridgeville
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie.
It was an accident. I swear. However, it seems I've started collecting digital images of water towers from around Delaware.

I blame this shot of the Bridgeville water tower. I was going for the contrast with the blue sky, but it got me thinking about trying to get shots of water towers from all 57 Delaware cities and towns.

This could take a while.

Are You Part of the Charles Darwin Posse?

Grass-roots marketing: Charles Darwin has a posse -- free bookmarks and stickers. I get a kick out of this sort of thing.

And, while you're there....

Evolution Outreach Projects

Monday, June 27, 2005

I Have the Teeth of a Greek God

Well ... a statue of a Greek God.

Okay. A statue of a Greek God that's been lying on the floor of the Aegean Sea for several centuries. Lying there among the broken amphorae and rotting timbers of a wrecked trireme.

Never mind.

I had my mid-year dental check-up today and I'm thrilled to report that it didn't go nearly as badly as I was certain it would go. In fact, for a 43-year-old guy with a lifetime of questionable dental hygiene habits in his past, my teeth are in fairly good shape.

I have a fear of the Dentist. I know it is irrational.

My Dentists are very nice young guys; I've been to a Dead show with Dr. Barnhart. They do great work without a lot of pain.

But the reality for me is that the several days before a Dental appointment are a trial. It is true that the anticipation is worse than the reality. I project all sorts of unpleasant possible outcomes.

The worst part? The knowledge that any Dental problems found will reflect badly on me and my discipline. It bugs me that cavities, gum disease, and other possible problems could be my fault.

But my teeth are okay. My gums looked pretty good. My brushing and flossing have been effective.

As I walk away from the chair and out to pay my bill, I always feel this incredible wash of tension out of my neck and shoulders. As much as I try to go in relaxed, as much as I manage tension by getting into the cool new technology they now have, as much as I tell myself it'll be cool, I still have that tension.

But here's my secret: I try to stay aware of the fact of that tension. I remind myself that it will seem worse ahead of time. In fact, that's why I wrote this.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Trip to the Water Park

Floating Tubes
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie.

Karen, the girls, and I spent our traditional start-of-summer day at Jungle Jim's water park at the entrance to Rehoboth Beach today.

There are water slides, pools, lounge chairs, and a "lazy river" in which to float.

We particularly like the up-to-five-people family slide in which we all sit in a big round raft and spin down into a pool of water. We also enjoy the one we call "The Master Blaster" -- a water-jet assisted raft slide.

For Karen and I, the great pleasure in this is hearing Christina scream and Colleen laugh in pleasure each time down.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Lonely Donut of Friday Afternoon

The Lonely Donut of Friday Afternoon
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie.

When I buy a dozen donuts for a meeting or an office event, I never let the donut shop staff just randomly select the donuts. If I let the counter staff fill out the dozen, they will more than likely add a filled donut or two. These need to be avoided; they are hard to eat, impractical, and not really good for you.

Have a look at the break room, coffee table, or microwave stand in any office at 4:00 in the afternoon. When there are donuts left, it will usually be that creme-filled monster, a gooey jelly-beast, or maybe a half of one of those odd donuts covered with shredded coconut.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Book I Read: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

It has been a while since I've offered a book review/book report here. It's not that I haven't been reading; I just haven't run across anything remarkable enough to be worthy of mention here in a while. Or maybe I haven't done so at a time when I felt like writing at length. Besides, if all I posted about was the books I've read, this site could get boring. Quickly.

I've just finished reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer. I think this one is worth a mention.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a novel set in present-day New York City. The protagonist is a nine-year-old boy who lost his father in the fall of the World Trade Center on 9/11. The novel follows his quest to illuminate his father's memory and, although unwittingly, to discover his family history.

This is a wonderful book. Foer offers a free look at Chapter 1, as a PDF file, on his web site. Have a look, I think you'll see the charm.

I was struck by the echoes of The Tin Drum, a disturbing novel of World War Two published in 1959 by the German author Gunter Grass. There was also a movie version in 1979.

I read The Tin Drum a year or so before the movie came out, while I was in High School. It was one of the books that really conked me at that point in my life. It helped confirm me as a lifelong reader.

The echoes?

In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the boy's name is Oskar Schell. The child in The Tin Drum is Oskar Matzerath.

Oskar Schell obsessively plays a tambourine. Oskar Matzerath plays a child's tin drum. Both kids exhibit a variety of obsessive/compulsive behaviors.

In both books, the reader is witness to some of the major human tragedies of the 20th and 21st centuries. Both books tie tragedies in their present settings to tragedies in history and track families through human upheavals.

There are other echoes; these are the obvious, hit you over the head, ones.

At root, both books are about the effects of war and conflict on children, on families and on the innocent.

I recommend them both. I also think I will look for Foer's first book -- Everything Is Illuminated -- next time I'm in the library or bookstore.

For now, I'm just embarking on a pleasant trip to Botswana in the latest edition of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, by Alexander McCall Smith. Karen gave me a copy of In the Company of Cheerful Ladies for Father's Day.
Filed in:

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I Hide, Therefore I Am

I Hide, Therefore I Am
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie.

This cat never wants to be seen, but she chose the wrong hiding place this evening.

Monday, June 20, 2005


White Flowers
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie.

I'm not much of a gardener, but I'm proud of the way the yard looks this spring. These are some of the perennials in the side yard flower bed.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fourth Golf Game of 2005

I played a round of golf with my buddy Andy Southmayd this afternoon. It was part of our Father's Day.

We played Marsh Island, a shortish 18-hole course near Angola, Delaware. It's an odd course, with a string of funky par-3 holes crammed into the back nine. But I had a gift certificate for part of the cost, and the course is proposed to be plowed under in favor of a housing development, so I wanted to get back out there again.

I started well, carding a par-4 on the first hole and staying within sight of par on the next few holes. Until the sixth, when I fell apart. I mostly pulled back together on the back nine, but it wasn't a great round. I ended up with a 112. On the plus side, I shaved strokes off on the back nine.

We had fun, though, swapping stories and laughing, and comparing what we'd received from our broods for Father's Day. Afterwards, we met our families at Big Fish Grill for a pleasant dinner.

Day at the Beach

We spent Saturday at the beach at North Bethany. My brothers Bob and John, with their sons, were with us, along with my parents and our friend Lynne, who brought along two of her three girls. It made for a pleasant group of adults, and just the right mix of kids.

One in the Surf
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie.
Colleen, Emily and Rachel spent most of their time body-surfing with boogie-boards. Robert joined in as well, but at a slight distance.

It was a slightly over-cast day, so we worried less about the sun than we might have. Last week's Sunday at the beach was incredibly clear and left us with nasty sunburn.

We were more careful this week-end anyway. Notice that Colleen is wearing her board shirt in the surf.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Today was (finally) the last day of school -- for the girls, anyway. Karen still has a week of in-service ahead.

We are now just a month away from our week in northern Vermont. Twenty-nine days, to be precise.

We're headed for just south of the Canada/US border.

But we'll stay on our side, never fear.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Yes, We Do Have Responsibilities

Weblogging is a form of publishing, so we need to take our responsibilities fairly seriously.

Checking through my blogroll this evening, I read Buzzbait's post on getting a letter threatening legal action from a developer he'd posted about on his blog Stupid and Wrong.

Then, I checked the Blogger Buzz site and found a timely link to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and its Legal Guide for Bloggers.

Funny how these things tend to coincide.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Tie Will Be Just Fine

A commercial just ran on my local cable outlet suggesting that folks "take Dad to Hooters on Father's Day." It features a scene with a cute little blond child lisping an order of wings and a soda for her Daddy to the nice lady (in the short shorts and tight top).

There's a billboard in our area for the Hooters in Rehoboth Beach. It announces that kids eat free on Tuesdays. Right.

Are we re-branding here? Not really.

Karen, Colleen, and Christina, pay no attention. A tie will be fine. In fact, maybe we should go out to Big Fish Grill for Father's Day.

It's a Wonder The Food Doesn't Kill People

When I got home from the City Council meeting this evening, Karen and Colleen were watching Hell's Kitchen, a Fox reality show in which hapless wanna-be chefs are verbally abused by a professional Chef as they compete for a prize that appears to be their own restaurant.

I saw about half the show. Two teams of contestants competed to fill restaurant orders (for real customers) while "Chef" yelled and swore at them. The point of the show seems to be to see who will break under pressure, break out in a string of obscenities, or break down in tears.

Questions of emotional voyeurism aside, what I found myself wondering was "how can the food they are making be anything other than horrible?"

I have no scientific evidence for this, but it seems to me that when people make food while under intense emotional pressure -- angst, unhappiness, hatred -- some of that bad feeling must make its way into the food.

There's an angry woman who works in the local convenience/sandwich shop up the street from my office. Sometimes she's behind the register and sometimes she's making sandwiches.

When she's on the sandwich line, I go for the fruit cup.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I'd Like to Suggest A Song

I don't plan to get into MP3 blogging, but wanted to point out a song that I have not been able to get out of my head.

John Vanderslice is offering a free MP3 download of the song Trance Manual from his new album Pixel Revolt. The album is due out in August.

I hadn't heard much of Vanderslice before finding this song on his web site. I now can't stop listening to it. It's soft and dreamy with an insistent chime as a drone tone. The melody is beautiful and the lyrics are just on the other side of clarity.

I like it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Please, Permit Me to Brag

Colleen, our eldest daughter, was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society this evening.

Colleen is finishing seventh grade at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts. She started there in first grade the first year the school was in existence and has made some great friends.

Miriah Hearn (center) and Emily Southmayd (right), joined Colleen (left) in the Honor Society. These three have been together for seven years now and will finish out the eighth grade together next year.

The girls also have friends in the current, graduating, eighth grade. Many are already in Honor Society and they had the pleasure of welcoming Colleen and her classmates into the group this evening.

Caitlin Owens and Rachel Southmayd, the two on the left, are among those eighth graders. That's Nikki Mook next to Colleen. She taught most of these kids in second grade and returned tonight to see her former students honored. On the right is Erin Bunting, another great kid who joined the Honor Society.

Here's Colleen with Michelle Norton, Miriah, Stephanie Keller (8th grade), Rachel, Arias Davis (8th grade) and, peeking over the top in back, Wayde Marsh (8th grade).

Karen and I are hugely proud. Colleen is 13. She drives us nutty almost every day. But she's very bright, hard working, and creative and she's simply shining in school. Academics. Music (she sings and plays bass and flute). Dance.

And her sister, our young Christina, is following right in her footsteps. Click on by again in another four years and I bet you'll see a very similar blog entry.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Three Things I Noticed Today

The soles of my sneakers hold heat.

When I can, I devote my lunch hour to a workout at the Dover YMCA. Often, I set myself to at least a half-hour, brisk walk on a treadmill. (I read the news-scroll at the bottom of the cable news show as I walk). Afterwards, as I stretch, I notice that the soles of my sneakers (tucked in turn into opposing thighs) are noticeably warm. They've accumulated heat by friction as I walk.

Spinner hubcaps
look silly on a minivan.

No kidding. I passed a beat-looking Ford-type minivan on Delaware Route 113 this afternoon. It had spinner hubcaps. Wrong. Just . . . wrong.

"Fruitful confusion" is an intriguing phrase.

In an interview on All Things Considered this evening, Norwegian Jazz Pianist Tord Gustavsen used the phrase (at least as I heard it) "fruitful confusion" to describe the benefits of the access we now have to music and art from different cultures from all over the world. I was struck by that phrase, and briefly considered using it as a Blog title. But a Google Search turns up quite a few uses of the phrase, some of them in reference to the information management practices of the Bush administration. So I guess I'll leave it alone.

Still, it's nice to be struck afresh by an unexpected combination of words.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Weekending for the Work Week

Mark Cutrona (over at To Seek A Newer World) posted the other day about working for the weekend; the idea that the working week is just a thing to be gotten through to get to the weekend.

Well. There comes a time in life when that formula gets reversed and you find yourself longing for your quiet, restful workday. Don't get me wrong, I work hard. It's just that life with growing children gets mighty hectic, no more so than at this time of year when the school year is winding down and the band, choir, and dance classes have end-of-semester performances to get through.

Let me outline our weekend for you.

Friday Night.
The school's dance classes held their spring dance performance. Karen and the girls stayed down at the school and I stopped by home to pick up my mother- and father-in-law. They had come into town that morning for a wedding in Ocean City on Saturday. The performance was wonderful. I got to see my little girl, becoming my grown-up daughter, dance on point and dance very well.

We start with the neighborhood yard sale. We had not planned to take part, but I couldn't help putting out a few large things that I'd like to get rid of. Only a few people stopped by, leaked from the neighbor's garage, which overflowed with stuff. Several folks seemed insulted that we had so little out. One guy needed a broken down rusty bike, though, so I made a few bucks.

Saturday evening, Baba and Grandpa headed down to Ocean City for the wedding of an old friend's kid. Karen and I went to Ocean View for the retirement party of the principal of the girls' school, the Southern Delaware School of the Arts, where Karen also works. Great fun, good food, nice people, and a heartfelt send-off for a guy that folks seemed genuinely happy to work for. But it was a late night.

Karen was due to play a flute part at church. I was due to mow the lawn. There was also a teen to drag out of bed and set to studying.

Once up and studied, Colleen was headed to see the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants with several friends who had all read the book. I got to drive the group to the theater.

After I dropped that group off, Karen, Christina and I headed down into Rehoboth Beach for Christina's Ninth Birthday Party (two months late) at the Wacky Bear Factory. She and several friends made teddy bears (below), ate ice cream sundaes, and played games for several hours.

After two hours of fun, we headed home again to gather up Colleen (since dropped back home by one of the other parents) to get ready for her performance as part of Roadshow; the show band of the Southern Delaware School of the Arts. They were due to play at dusk at the Bethany Beach bandstand.

We loaded up an electric bass and headed out again. The Roadshow performance was fun; 5th though 8th graders playing a big-band style mix of hits from the fifties, sixties and seventies. Colleen is a very talented bassist. There are other very good players in the group and their shows are fun.

But we were not back home until about 9:30 p.m.

I'm headed to bed. And I'm looking forward to a quiet workday tomorrow. Of course, this week also holds another band concert Monday night, Honors Society Tuesday night, Dance Recital rehearsals Thursday and Friday nights, and the recital itself on Saturday.

A Dad's work (driving and waiting) is never done.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Oh. Dear.

From today's News Journal: Man, 78, accused of trying to shoot neighbor.

Willard Werner thought he had a good reason to try to kill the man; the guy was trying to keep Willard from marrying his 16-year-old daughter.

Some kind of reverse-shotgun-wedding?

According to the story, the girl was also against the idea of a marriage. That shows good sense.

It's All Just a Bureaucratic Game

I wonder -- just slightly -- about the symbolism here. The public square in front of the Municipal Services Building in Philadelphia is strewn with gigantic game pieces.


Wednesday, June 1, 2005


The Oasis Restaurant, in Austin Texas, apparently caught fire in a lightning storm last night. It was mostly destroyed.

I had dinner there last fall as part of a professional organization meeting and caught a decent sunset photo, which was one of my earliest blog entries.