Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I Hope the General Assembly Passes This Legislation

My State Senator, Gary Simpson, has introduced a bill to name a local nature preserve after an old friend. Senate Bill 268 would name a nature preserve of 599 acres on Angola Neck the "Til Purnell Nature Preserve" to honor a woman I've known for almost as long as I've lived in Delaware.

I have shared in the past my great respect for Til and for her husband Skipper. I think that this act by the legislature would be a fitting tribute.

I was interested to see that Senate Bill 268 quotes (apparently verbatim) the Cape Gazette article about Til that I linked to in my post about her in July of 2005. I don't know that I've ever seen a bill that is mostly text from a newspaper story.

Unusual, but I think it works in this context.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Some of What We Found at the Botanical Gardens

I got a few decent shots from my brief wander through the Botanical Gardens in Washington DC the other day. I put 13 of them together into a Flickr Set.

I'm particularly proud of this one. I need my friend Sandy to explain to me just what flowers these are, though, before I can add that information here.

Update: Sandy tells me that this is one of the Phalaenopsis genus of orchids.

Here's an Idea I'd Like Delaware to Consider

In New York, it looks like drivers of low-emission, clean, fuel efficient cars are going to get a discount on tolls. A story on ( Green' cars worth greenbacks on Thruway) says that the state of New York will issue Green Transponders to cars that meet certain efficiency standards and that those transponders will mean discounts on tolls on the New York Thruway. My Prius and I would like that idea to spread.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


I've been on the road a lot lately, and I'm just about to head out again. I've had little time for blogging, I'm afraid.

This past week I was at a conference of the National States Geographic Information Council, NSGIC, in Annapolis. This is a group that meets all day and into the evening, with few breaks and little time to play on-line. Exhausting.

We spent much of Wednesday in Washington DC, where we hosted a legislative breakfast of national groups interested in the use of Geospatial data. Several of us visited our Congressional delegations to talk about policy issues related to geospatial data.

My friend Sandy Schenck, of the Delaware Geological Survey, and I had a quick meeting with a staff member in Senator Carper's office. We also had a little time to wander around Capitol Hill.
Kids at the Capitol

It was a very cold, but pretty, day. I took several shots of the Capitol and some of other sites around that area. Several colleagues and I wandered through the National Botanical Gardens, a green-house complex just across the way from the Capitol. I have a few shots from that visit that I still need to crop, balance and post.

Soon, I hope.

For now, Karen and the girls and I are headed south to Virginia for the evening for a birthday party for Karen's uncle.

Monday, March 20, 2006


This was our tree yesterday, starting to blossom. Spring started this afternoon, though there's snow and cold rain in the forecast tonight.

The tree started to pop early, fooled by an over-warm stretch a week or so back. Now we're cold again.

I hope things settle down soon.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

More Bragging

Sorry. Can't be helped.

I had great fun earlier this week learning a new software plug-in to the GIS software we use at work. It lets me export some of the geospatial data we publish at the Office of State Planning Coordination to a format that opens using the free Google Earth browser.

I have posted Google Earth versions of the Delaware Municipal Boundaries, the State Strategies, and the PLUS Project areas.

It really doesn't take much to make me happy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Out Cedar Neck

Church on Cedar Neck
This morning was dry and crisply clear, though windy. I took a detour out Slaughter Neck to Slaughter Beach, and then back to the highway by way of Cedar Neck. This was another part of my on-going "east of Route 1" photo project.

I found shipping out in the Bay off the mouth of the Mispillion River. I found unique signage in Slaughter Beach. I think I took a photo of the Mispillion Light.

The church above was on the way back in, just before I got to the highway east of Milford. There was something about the tree, the simple small church building, and the white picket fence that called to my camera.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Things Change. Fast.

The moon is just past full tonight. I noticed this as I was driving Colleen back from her dance class.

I realized that is was exactly a month ago that I was rolling along those same roads enjoying the moon shine on newly fallen snow.

Tonight, the moon was shining through not-quite bare tree branches and onto snow-free fields. The temperature, even after dark, was still in the low 70's and the trees are starting to show buds.

It's only been a month, but at this time of the year the weather changes fast.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bragging: On Mapping

I've always wanted to mess around with Google Maps and create my own little mash-up. This week-end, I finally made a start, albeit a modest one.

For some years now, I've been running a small web site for the Rehoboth Summer Children's Theatre, a non-profit theater company that produces hilarious two-person children's plays, usually based on classic fairy tales.

This week-end I started putting together the 2006 edition of the Theatre's web site. Today I had some time to register the site to use the Google API and start trying to add a map of the Theatre performance locations. I read through the documentation, explored several tutorial sites, sweated through false-starts and errors and came up with what I think is a neat little map, integrated into the Theatre Site page.

I'm terribly pleased with myself. Now that the ice is broken, I'll have to think of some other fun maps to add.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Working on Second Street

Second Street Work 2
Lewes' main commercial street, Second Street, is undergoing an extreme makeover. This will look great when it is done, but it was a mess today as I walked around town. The wind was up and dust and grit were blowing everywhere.

I took the day off today and had a massage. I met my co-workers at lunchtime for a farewell lunch for Ann Marie Townshend, who is leaving us to become the planning director for the City of Dover.

The sun was out, so I took some time to wander around my city and take some pictures. It's hard to go far in Lewes without finding something fun to photograph.

Let's face it, we live in a lovely little town.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Musical Morning

I've taken the morning off from work today to await the arrival of the Piano repair man.

Karen and I have my grandmother's old baby grand piano in the next room, and it needs work.

When my grandmother passed away many years ago, the piano went to my older sister's house. She was the only one with kids at the time, and we all thought that that made sense. About ten years ago, when none of her kids showed a strong desire to play piano, it came to Karen and I mostly on the strength of the fact that Karen is an actual musician.

It's a lovely old instrument, but we think it needs some serious attention. It dates back to around 1900 and was once outfitted with a player-piano mechanism.

My father grew up with this piano in his living room in the 1930s and 40s, but he didn't take to it.

I remember sitting at it in the 1970s in my grandmother's house as a kid, experimenting with different combinations of notes and being endlessly fascinated with the sustain pedal. How many notes could I get to sound at the same time? It made a grand sound.

So I am waiting here for the man who can look it over and tell us what needs to be done to bring this wonderful old instrument to life.

On a slightly related note, I've added a new section to the sidebar here. I have been playing around with the Pandora music site lately. They now make available snippets of code to add links from weblogs to the "stations" that Pandora users can create.

It stuck it below the Blogroll. Have a look and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

13 Curves Road

13 Curves Road
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie.

This morning I took a drive down 13 Curves Road, which runs from Primehook Road to Cods Road, east of Delaware Route One and southeast of Milford. I counted 20 curves, but maybe I was counting bends that don't really qualify as curves.

Minor Irritant #324

Who-ever had the book I'm currently reading before me was a smoker.

I'm just about to finish The Pale Horseman, part of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories series. It's a fine example of British historical fiction, mining the rich past of the British Islands and their centuries of war and conquest. I'm quite enjoying it.

I'm a dedicated patron of the Lewes Public Library. I visit every week or so, peruse the new releases, choose two (judged usually by their cover, to be honest), and take them home for evenings of escapist literature, or grand drama, or modern, post-modern, or whatever, reading.

Sometimes, though, my visits to the worlds in these novels are colored by the smell of stale tobacco. When someone has had a book before me and has smoked his or her way through it, I can tell. It's not on every page, but every once in a while I open to a page that the last reader exhaled a lung-full of used Marlboro onto.

It's kind of a drag.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

So Long, Al. You've Got Work; So Write

Al Mascitti is leaving the News Journal to become a radio talk show host. He's been trying out the talk show format for a while and, from all the reports I've read, he likes it and is pretty good at it.

I'm going to miss his writing. Al's not someone I always agreed with, but he can write and he does "acerbic columnist" rather well.

My problem is that I'm not usually able to listen to WDEL; I'm a down-stater and not generally able to listen to talk radio at the office.

I'm hoping that Al will take up blogging. He wrote a few blog entries as a News Journal columnist on the News Journal web site. But it was infrequent and the newspaper's blog set-up was not the best.

I checked this afternoon, and found that is already taken. It looks like is available.

There are other blogging systems, of course. I'm just trying to start the conversation.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Morning Sun. Kitts Hummock.

Morning Sun, Delaware Bay, Kitts Hummock
Because I felt like having a pretty picture on-line.

I Concur

The News Journal editorial writers have weighed-in on the Indian River School Board prayer issue in an editorial today: Indian River insists on expounding Christian faith in public forums
It can be legitimately argued that a Christian prayer before a board meeting of exclusively Christian members is a personal right. But those members represent a cross-section of taxpayers and parents, not all of whom are Christians. How can the board honestly represent those constituents and publicly preach their own religion in tax-supported schools?