Monday, May 29, 2006

And So We Begin Again

Summer arrived this week-end. It drove down from Pennsylvania late on Friday afternoon, having skipped out of work an hour or so early.

At least, that's how it seems. I feel like it was only last week, or the week before, that we were starting to have warmer days. And now? Overnight, we've started another summer beach season.

Memorial Day Weekend, 2006, has been a hot three days. There are plenty of tourists here for the sand and sun. Lewes and Rehoboth both have newly gussied-up main drags. Rehoboth has a wider beach.

We spent some time Saturday on the beach at North Bethany with parts of my family. Today, we spent the afternoon on the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park.

So here we are again. Traffic. Rude drivers. Families in our restaurants after a day on the beach during which their smallest members have become over-tired, over baked, over-stimulated and on the edge of a breakdown. It can get ugly.

On the other hand, we live at the beach. We can spend an entire day in the surf and still be home in our own living room, cleaned in our own showers, with our cats on our laps, after a very brief drive. That may just make it all worthwhile.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

It's Alive!

This is a Jacaranda Tree given to me by my friend Sandy. He'd grown it from a seed collected on a business trip we took out to California some years ago.

It has lived on our porch for a few years now. By the end of last summer, it had grown too tall for comfort. Sandy suggested cutting it back to within a foot or so of the ground and letting it "bush out."

This spring, I did so and have been worrying about it ever since. In the last week, though, I was pleased to see a few new shoots coming out the sides.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Another Walk in the Park

Park Path
Park Path

I took a sunny lunchtime walk in Dover's Silver Lake Park earlier this week. Of course it was another opportunity to take pictures.

I would have posted this earlier, bit Flickr was having a bad week and I have been working out a kink in my back that may in fact be a Buick.

The Flickr folk seemed to have straightened their site back out and my spine is starting to come back into something like alignment. So here it is!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Fire in Dover

Fire Damage
We had minor excitement in Dover this morning when a fire broke out in the attic of the Old State House, on the Green. The building is in the middle of extensive renovation, so there was nothing much inside to be damaged, and the fire fighters caught it quickly and put it out fast. I understand one of the renovation construction workers was injured, but I don't know how badly.

I took a break to get a few shots of the aftermath. Greg Hughes, of the Government Information Center, was more on the spot and got lots of shots of the actual fire fighting. He's posted those on his Flickr site.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Getting Back on Course

Cart Path
I took time this morning to try some golf. I walked a truncated round on the Heritage Golf Course.

The Heritage is close to home and inexpensive. But it is also being redeveloped as a shorter course with townhomes. You can see some of the evidence above.

The back portion of the course has been scraped clean and the fourth and seventh holes are closed. Other holes are drastically shorter. And there's a huge mound -- Mount Golfmore? -- looming over several holes.

I needed to get out and see how bad my swing has gotten. I'd hit a bucket of balls at a Dover-area driving range recently, but it's just not the same.

I'm still a rotten golfer, but I was somewhat heartened by my play. I scored a respectable six on the tough, island-green par-5 and I scored what I think is my first Birdie on a par-3.

The eighth hole has been cut down to a very short 90 yards. The first time through I hit too much club and bounced over the green entirely. The second time around I dropped down to a wedge and bounced to within about a yard of the hole. I'm not a great hand with a putter, but I sank that one.

I guess I'm still a duffer!
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This View of Hybrids Bugs Me

There's a story on hybrid cars in the Business section of today's News Journal. The article -- Can hybrid cars really save you money? -- takes the line that most of these articles have seemed to take lately. That is, now that gas prices are rising, are hybrids really a good way to save money?

It's a valid question, but it ignores the main reason that I and many other early-adopters had for buying our hybrids: air quality. I love the higher mileage that my Prius gives me. I've long wanted a way to cut my personal use of a non-renewable energy source. But my chief concern was, and is, to reduce the amount of air pollution that I create. And my Prius does that quite well.

To be fair, this particular article does allow that the environmentalist angle remains valid, but it quickly goes back to busily debunking the notion of hybrids as a way to save money on gasoline.

That's fine, and may be a valid point (though I note that they focus mostly on the Honda hybrid), but I have to insist that gas mileage is not the main reason to own a hybrid.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

On Indian River

On Indian River
This is the view from our table this evening at the restaurant known as Serendipity, in Oak Orchard, Delaware. The dining room over-looks the Indian River about where it broadens out into Indian River Bay.

We had dinner there with Andy and Lyn and their daughter Rebecca. Our Colleen and their Emily and Rachel were at Sussex Central High School getting ready for the Dance Gala we attended after dinner. Christina spent the afternoon with a buddy and met us at the show.

There were groups from the high school, from various dance studios, and from the Southern Delaware School of the Arts. They were all very good, but I was quite proud of the girls from SDSA. They were the only middle-school group dancing. They held their own; they more than held their own.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I Used to Be Unique

A report from R. L. Polk & Co. confirms what I've been seeing out on the road:
Nationwide registrations for new hybrid vehicles rose to 199,148 in 2005 -- a 139 percent increase from 2004 according to R. L. Polk & Co. For the second year in a row, Toyota Prius led the segment commanding 52.6 percent of new registrations. However, with more models entering the market, hybrid share for any given vehicle is being challenged.
I used to be one of the only folks out there in a Prius. Lately, there are more and more of us. I don't mind; I think it's good to have more low emissions vehicles out there.

I do miss that sense of being special, though.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Returning to an Old Favorite

Sunday evening, I finished reading the novel I'd borrowed from the Lewes Public Library. This week is full enough that I won't have a chance to get back to the library again until the week-end, at the earliest.

So I found myself in front of the book shelves late that night, scanning the titles of books that I've read and thought enough of to own a copy. I was looking for a book I could comfortably revisit.

As is often the case, I eventually grabbed one of the Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O'Brian. I keep coming back to these books. This time, it was the first in the series, Master and Commander. This book, by the way, does not tell the tale that was told in the movie of the same name; it gives an introduction to Captain Jack Aubrey and his pal Stephen Maturin.

At the start of the book, Jack is given a promotion and his first command, a "little small squat merchantman with two masts" as Stephen calls it when he first sees the Sophie.

Small, old, slow and not very powerful she may be, but a command is a command and Jack celebrates with too much food and too much drink. He wakes on his ship at dawn the next day, hug-over, sour and sick. But slowly, the sun comes up.
As his thoughts ranged on so the low cabin brightened steadily. A fishing boat passed under the Sophie's stern, laden with tunny and uttering the harsh roar of a conch; at almost the same time the sun popped up from behind St. Philip's fort -- it did, in fact, pop up, flattened like a sideways lemon in the morning haze and drawing its bottom free of the land with a distinct jerk. In little more than a minute the greyness of the cabin had utterly vanished: the deck-head was alive with light glancing from the rippling sea; and a single ray, reflected from some unmoving surface on the distant quay, darted through the cabin windows to light up Jacks coat and its blazing epaulette. The sun rose within his mind, obliging his dogged look to broaden into a smile, and he swung out of his cot.
I love the language in these stories, and I've always been a fan of seafaring stories. So what if this will be my eighth or ninth time through this book? I love these books.
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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Blossoms Arriving

Stamen and Pistil
A few of the Iris Lily blossoms we've been waiting for have arrived. Flowers for Karen. For Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Boat in Downtown Dover

A Shallop
An exhibit on 17th Century Delaware opened at the State Archives Building today. As part of the opening celebration, a replica of the boat Captain John Smith used to explore the Chesapeake Bay was (dry)docked outside the old part of the Archives Building today.

Smith used a boat like this -- about 30 feet long and built in two pieces for shipping across the Atlantic -- to explore the Chesapeake and many of its tributaries 400 years ago.

Some researchers recently used GIS tools to study John Smith's logs, map out his travels, and figure out that Smith and his crew came far enough up the Nanticoke River to have entered into what is now Delaware. So, of course, we now claim him as one of our own.

I love boats; especially wooden, sailing-type boats. I love the rigging, and planking, and ropes. So, of course, I took a small series of photos.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Blossoms Pending

Pending 3
We're waiting for these and other blooms to pop in our yard this spring. If my memory serves, this one in the side yard is an iris. (Update: Looks like this is a Lily. What do I know....) The day-lilies in the front yard are close as well.

Monday, May 8, 2006

From The Other Side of The Lens

I got to meet one of my favorite photographers this evening. Kevin Fleming, one of Delaware's best known photographers, stopped by to get a shot of me in my car for a story on commuting for the Delaware Beach Life magazine.

I have become a sort of serial subject for commuting stories over the years. I think it started with Terry Plowman, publisher of Delaware Beach Life, who did a commuting story (I think for the Delawarean) some time back, before he started his own magazine. That story included an off-hand comment about "the Zen of commuting" that caught the eye of a reporter working on Zen thing for the Washington Post some time later.

Recently, a writer working for Terry's new magazine called to ask me some questions for a new story about commuting.

I stayed away from the metaphysical this time.

And so, this evening, I got to meet Kevin Fleming, who came by for a quick photo shoot. He set up a timed exposure of me driving past him in my Prius. The end result looks like it'll be a neat-looking smear of car and background with me, a bit more in focus, behind the wheel.

It was a great pleasure to meet Kevin, and fun to watch him work.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Moments of Minor Transcendence

The other day I was driving through downtown Dover, on my way back to the office. I had the windows down; it was a bright, breezy, beautiful mid-day.

I had the radio on, tuned to a singer/songwriter station on Sirius. I don't recall what was playing, but it was acoustic and melodic.

It was just noon when I came to the intersection of State Street and Loockerman Street, in the heart of Dover. Church bells started ringing to mark the hour. It was a carillon, I think, playing a hymn.

What caught my ear was the fact that for just that moment, the song on the car radio and the music from the church steeple were in harmony and rhythmically in synch.

I love it when that happens. It is a reminder that there's order, if only accidental, in the chaos of life.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Monthly Blog-Roll Clean-Up

It's time to edit the "SITES I READ" list over on the right hand side of this blog. As a general rule, I try to edit them out when they've been down for a month. There's only one of those this month.

Political Pet -- Nothing since the end of March. Spotty up until then.

Stupid and Wrong -- He said he'd shut it down after the recent Smyrna election. He kept his word. He has been roundly praised by many Smyrna voters.

OMA / Kyla -- She has recently decided to abandon blogger and start over elsewhere. She did not post a forwarding URL, but invites people to e-mail and request it.

I also wanted to note that, while I do regularly check all of these sites, I can't say that I consistently read them. The left/right political split among some Delaware bloggers has become a deep vein of spite. I have lost interest in tracking personal pissing matches.

Most of my blog-roll is made up of Delaware blogs. I have an interest in linking to any Delaware blogs I can find. That doesn't necessarily mean I recommend them to you. Just so you know.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Spring Marsh Walk

I returned this week to the trail at the St. Jones Center south of Dover for another lunch-time walk. As usual, I combined exercise with a little photo-exploration.

This is the trail I took last fall and again in the winter. I wanted to see how things look now that the trees have new green leaves. The trees were quite lush, though the marsh itself has not greened-up yet. One tree I had admired back in November has been cut down.

I was very aware of the abundant insect life along this trail. Flies were zooming around. Bees bumbled from flowering tree to tree. Wasps were hanging here and there. I decided I like this walk a bit better in the late fall and winter.

I do plan to revisit the marsh/boardwalk areas as the season progresses. I want to see the marsh in full sedge.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Um... What?

Um... What?
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie.

Burger King, Milford. This just doesn't seem like something I want to eat.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Pride is Pride, I Guess

This evening I found myself behind a guy in a Nissan pick-up with a little sticker on the back of his camper-top.

It looked like the sign for a unisex bathroom; a euro-stick-figure man next to a euro-stick-figure woman. In a pale, mono-tonal, light blue.

There were differences. Euro-stick-man and euro-stick-woman appeared to be holding hands. And her skirt was shorter than usual.

There was writing beneath the two euro-people. I couldn't quite make it out what it said, so I had to slide up close behind the Nissan at a traffic light to get a look.

It said "Straight Pride."

Cute. But I think it would be more effective if I didn't have to sidle up so close to the guy's rear-end to see it.