Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Are You as Sick of the Election as I Am?

Don't get me wrong. It's hugely important that we all go out next Tuesday and vote. Who-ever you vote for, you must vote. We don't deserve our Democracy if we don't. (Or maybe we do?)

But I am sick of the partisans, and the TV ads, and the attacks. I'm ready to vote. Can it be election day yet?

GusOn the other hand, it was cool to run into Levy Court At-Large Candidate W.G. Edmanson at Spence's Bazaar today.

I was walking my lunch. Mr. Edmanson had rented a space in the weekly flea market that forms at Spence's each Tuesday. He was there to meet possible voters and hand-out literature and lawn-signs.

I told him that I don't vote in Kent County, but that I wished him luck. I asked him how the Spence's booth was working. He said he's "not one of those in-your-face politicians" (I think I remembered that right) and that he was just there to give things away.

He seemed like a nice fellow.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Here's a Useful Resource for Some Delaware Bloggers

Given how closely some Delaware blogs are following and blogging the current election, I think the Center for Citizen Media's Election Day Bloggers' Legal Guide could be a help.

The idea is that bloggers can submit legal questions about blogging the election. They will be answered by Student Fellows at Stanford Law. The first example question caught my eye:
Can you be in the voting area except to vote? (Not in Delaware)
Word to the wise. (via theBivingsreport)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Please, No G's

In web-searching for the Punkin' Ale post I just wrote, I found that there are two wikipedia entries on Delaware's native sport: Punkin' Chunkin' and Pumpkin Chunking. Both contain a note that they should probably be merged.

Merged? Certainly. But leave out the G's.

In Punkin Chunkin, G's are superfluous (not that a true Chunker would ever use the word superfluous).

Dogfish Head Beer Praised, but Spelling is Questioned

Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale won a positive review from the blog Dethroner (a field guide for the modern man) today.

In Pumpkin Beer That Doesn’t Suck: Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Joel Johnson praises Dogfish Head's fall offering as "a fully round ale with just the right balance of pumpkin, spice, and malt flavors—and just a touch of brown sugar." He suggests checking it out when one is in the New England.

New England? Hrmph! That's Delaware's beer.

At least one commenter thought that the spelling "punkin" was a pun (or its kin?), maybe based on the notion that the Dogfish version of pumpkin beer was so much better than others that it could be said (in the vernacular, of course) to be "Punking" the other beers.

I set them straight, pointing out the the beer is a part of our Punkin' Chunkin' heritage.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Who Says the World Isn't Watching Delaware Vote?

The Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) has a story in its Diaspora section on the candidacy of Prameela Kaza, an Indian-American running against Nancy Wagner for the 31st Representative District seat in the General Assembly.

The IANS site requires login, but I found the story -- Indian American in running for Delaware house seat -- repeated on the Telugu Portal site.

Ms Kaza is a Democrat. She is no political newcomer; she is active in Kent County politics and civic life and ran against Representative Wagner four years ago.

The Telugu people are an ethnic group in India, and Telugu is an official language of that country. According to wikipedia.

So. 31st District voters: you vote for whomever you like. Just remember, though, the world is watching.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Delaware (The Band) Update

Morty Black stopped by Mike's Musings early today. Morty is a member of the Norwegian rock band Delaware. He left a comment on my posting about that band from last month.

Mr. Black has cleared up one mystery; he says the band named itself in honor of the 1992 debut album by The Drop Nineteens. Not only is the album named "Delaware," it includes a song of that name as well. Trouser Press described it as "mid-range Dinosaur Youth aggression."

Sadly, iTunes has let me down on that one.

Morty also says "We'll definitely come by [Delaware] if we go touring the states!"

That sounds cool, Morty. Have your tour planners book you into The Bottle and Cork. You'll want to play "the greatest rock'n'roll bar in the world."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Back from Chicago

Karen, the girls, and I went to see the Possum Point Players production of Chicago last night. It was great.

The Players are a big part of our history. On our first date, Karen and I went to a Possums show. Before kids, we were involved in many of their productions. Since kids, we've done a few, but with the girls' growing schedules, we have not been able to be as involved lately. We're still annual contributors, though, and we try to get to shows when we can.

Thematically, Chicago is a bit mature for Christina, but the choreographer for the show is a dance teacher of both of the girls, and there were cast members they both know, so we decided to just go see the show.

The Possum Point Players are a great resource for high school students in Sussex County interested in theater. This production included two kids who go to Sussex Tech with Colleen, and two others who were students at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts, including one with whom Christina did a school play a few years ago.

One of the leads was our old friend Donna DeKuyper, a Lewes neighbor. Donna and I worked together in the Possums' Big River years ago and performed Love Letters together as well. The other female lead was Becky Gaffney, second wife of a former co-worker, though I have never met her. Both ladies are strong singers and did a great job as did Lorraine Steinhoff, of Dover, as Mama.

Another old friend, John Hulse, played Amos. John has a wonderful tenor and has developed an acting talent that serves him well. It was also interesting to see Destiny Kerstetter, manager at the Schwartz Center in Dover, perform as a member of the chorus. She was the topic of a cute story in yesterday's News Journal about her having been proposed to on-stage at the Schwartz Center Thursday night.

This was a wonderful production of Chicago. I think that's a tough show for community theatre to do well, and the Possums did it very well. They pulled no punches. The cast were up to the acting challenge and the singing challenge. It was great.

And I enjoyed the traditional cellphone overture before the show. As the lights dimmed, an announcer asked that there be no flash photography and that patrons power-down their phones. What followed was an Ivesian symphony of cellphone turn-off music warbling from all points in the theatre.

Friday, October 20, 2006

OK. That's Done.

The other day I finished reading Blue at the Mizzen by Patrick O'Brian. It's the 20th and final novel in the O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series.

This is a series of novels about Jack Aubrey, a ship captain in the British navy during the Napoleonic wars, and his "particular friend" Stephen Maturin, ship's doctor and intelligence agent. It's a great series of novels that combines action and adventure with a Jane Austin-like close observation of personality and social interaction in the 19th century.

I started working my way through the series back in May, somewhat by chance. I had read all of those books before, of course. My brother Matt turned me and our other brothers on to the series years ago and we traded the first several books back and forth within the family, eagerly awaiting each new title. Since then I've read a few of them several times more.

After reading Master and Commander this spring, I decided to make my way through the series again. For the first few I was interspersing O'Brian novels with other sorts of books. After a bit, though, I decided to just stick to O'Brian until I finished the series. I found I couldn't wait
to get back to that world.

In the end, it took almost exactly 5 months to read all 20 novels. It was great fun. In another 5 years or so, I think I'll do it again.
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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Delaware Blogosphere is Starting to Look Like a Community

We've been increasingly trading links back and forth and commenting, often intelligently, on each others' blogs.

Now, Hube, at Colossus of Rhodey, offers an [un]abashedly thorough guide to the Delaware blogosphere that looks at most of the Delaware blogs. There are some on my list of Delaware blogs that he didn't cover, but he got most of them.

Hube looks at where each blogger sits on the political spectrum and which blogging software they use. He makes a judgment of the look of each blog and provides some thoughts about each blog's content.

Well done, Hube.

Also today, Bill Slawski, of Newarking, has proposed a Delaware Blogging Conference. That's an intriguing idea.
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Monday, October 16, 2006


...maybe we should be careful about trusting what we read on blogs, especially from anonymous commenters. The October issue of Management Science includes a paper entitled "Strategic Manipulation of Internet Opinion Forums: Implications for Consumers and Firms."


...maybe we need to add a few law professor bloggers to our blogrolls. Both TommyWonk and Jason point to today's News Journal editorial (Internet becomes less of a shield for bloggers) about growing legal challenges to blog-speech. Luckily, there is a Law Professor Blogger Census (Version 5.0) over at Concurring Opinions. It includes a list of law professors who are bloggers. There are 290 of them.

(Both via Resource Shelf)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Here's a Cause Worth a Donation

I was honored last week to be quoted in a story (Teacher's torch to blaze for years) on a new scholarship fund set up in memory of former Lewes Mayor George H.P. Smith, who passed away in September of last year.

Mayor Smith's Daughter, Barbara Smith-Shelton, has founded the Hon. George H.P. Smith Memorial Scholarship to help students at Lewes' Cape Henlopen High School who plan to become teachers.

Before he was Mayor, George Smith was a highly respected teacher. That's an aspect of his life that I had mentioned in my memorial posting last year. Kim Hoey, a freelance writer and old acquaintance, found that posting and quoted one of my favorite memories of the Mayor: his school-master approach to running meetings.

The fund is being managed by the Greater Lewes Foundation. Donations can be made through the Foundation, at Box 110, Lewes, DE 19958. More information? Try the Foundation at (302) 644-0107.

By the way, there's a sweet picture of Mayor Smith posted with the Cape Gazette's memorial story last fall.

I hope you will join me in making a donation.
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Did You Know That There is a Norwegian Alternative Rock Band Named "Delaware?"

I didn't. But there is.

Petter, Morty, Joffe and Richard make up a band called Delaware, out of Drammen, Norway. They use MySpace and a blog to market themselves and have two albums out: ...and everything reminds me and Lost In The Innocence Of Beauty.

They describe their music as "characterized by vocalist Richard Holmsen's both angelic and raw, desperate voice." And they say that their concerts include "delicate, almost acoustic ballads that turn into monsters of screaming guitars and pounding drums."

Though the question is asked in their delawaremuzic community forum, I have not been able to discover why they call themselves "Delaware."

They have never been to the First State.
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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thank Goodness for Garrison Keillor

Being horribly busy all the time, running hither and yon, and delivering the girls to the various parts of their lives (and, to be honest, my internet addiction) has led me to neglect what once was a great pleasure in my life: listening to Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion every Saturday evening.

I often like the music on that show, and the gentle, subtle humor can be a nice change from the caustic broadsides we've become used to in our modern lives. But it is really the quality of his writing that I miss.

Justin, over at Down with Absolutes, has posted a great political commentary by Keillor, from back in June. That led me to a little light Googling and that led me to The Old Scout, a collection of Keillor columns.

The most recent -- The cranky man's guide to contentment -- is a great example. In it, Keillor works his way from a pleasant visit to Missoula, Montana, through various musings on happiness, past a variety of urban vexations, and so to the present political situation.

His conclusion:
The power of righteous vexation is what keeps so many old Democrats hanging on in nursing homes long past the time they should have kicked off. Ancient crones from FDR's time are still walking the halls, kept alive by anger at what has been done to our country. Old conservationists, feminists, grizzled veterans of the civil rights era fight off melanoma, emphysema, Montezuma, thanks to the miracle drug of anger. Slackers and cynics abound, not to mention nihilists in golf pants and utter idiots. Time to clean some clocks. As Frost might have written, "The woods are lovely, dark and thick. But I have many butts to kick and some to poke and just one stick."
I believe I'll add The Old Scout to my on-line reading list.

Corrected (1:18 p.m.): Corrected misattribution from Mike to Justin. Thanks, Nancy.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Report from New Orleans

Earlier this month, my sister Margaret and her husband Lou went to New Orleans to spend a week volunteering with the St. Bernard Project a grassroots nonprofit that is working family by family and house by house to try to help rebuild the parish.

They drove down in their pick-up, packed with tools and other donations from friends and family. During their week, they helped with rehabilitating a house and organizing the Project office. They stayed in a Bed and Breakfast that wasn't too damaged and had a chance to see New Orleans both as tourists and as people driving around trying to get a job done.

They took a number of pictures. The amount of damage still evident a year later can be sobering.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

High School Football

Kick-OffSussex Tech and Caesar Rodney High Schools made-up their rained-out Friday game this past Monday afternoon. I had the day off (Thanks, Columbus!) so I was able to attend, and take a mess of pictures.

The game started at 4:30. The home stands at Tech face west, so I had to deal with looking, and photographing, into the setting sun, but the skies were clear and blue.

The CR Riders are a very good football team. They led 41 to 0 at the half, but Tech's Ravens came back with a pair of touchdowns in the second half.

Of course, I was there mostly to watch my kid play the bass in the marching band.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What's The Deal With the Ducks?

A DuckA comment from imsobob on one of my Peabody Duck photos on flickr led me to realize that I need to explain what's going on there.

I spent last week in the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the annual NSGIC Conference. Downtown Little Rock itself is photogenic, but the photos I wanted to take all week were right in the Peabody Lobby. I finally got to be in the lobby at the right time of day on my last day in Little Rock.

A tradition at the Peabody Hotels is to host ducks in the lobby fountain. The Manager of the Peabody Memphis was hunting, and drinking, with a friend back in the 1930s. As a joke, they left their (then legal) live decoy ducks in the hotel fountain when they returned late one night. It has become a tradition and spread to the Little Rock and Orlando Peabody Hotels as well.

Ducks 3Each day at 11 and 5, the ducks march a red carpet. In the morning they come down on the elevator and march to the fountain. At 5 in the afternoon, they march back to the elevator and so to their rooftop home.

The last day of my conference, I was finally able to make it to the 5 p.m. march. It was great fun. I was particularly charmed by the little girl in blue.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Moved to the Inactive-Blog List

following the brush: Shae is on hiatus. But hey, she just got married! She'll be back.

The Meaning of Life, and Other Weighty Matters...: She does say "occasional..."

Red White & Blue Hens: I guess they are studying.

Upstart Radical: The last entry (a month ago) was titled "I'm Back."

It's a Small World Web

Heidi Cool, over at Case Western Reserve University, refers to an earlier Musings entry in a posting on the value of links within blog postings: From Case to Colby in 8 jumps: The value and vagaries of external links.

She'd followed links from an unrelated blog posting at Case and, within 8 links, found my entry on the Babson Gravity Monument from back in April of 2005. She points to a Colby Echo article on the monument, which I found most interesting.

Ms. Cool and I were at Colby together; she graduated a year after I did and I remember the name, I think. She certainly remembered mine.

She's right, it's the links within blog posts that make for information flow and discovery. I think we all have a duty to try to find new things to point to, to spread knowledge.

Sometimes, I'm afraid, we tend to get into ruts and blog about, and point to, the same things and the same places, over and over. I will try to break out of that mold and cast my web-net farther afield.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Another Protest Song

The WXPN All About the Music Blog has a new protest song by James McMurtry.

McMurtry's God Bless America isn't quite the screamer that Michael Franti's Light Up Ya Lighter is, but it speaks to me:
Negotiation's just no fun
And it don't serve our interests none
Gonna turn up the heat till it comes to a boil
So we can go get that Arab oil

And we'll suck it all up through the barrel of a gun
Everyday's the end of days for some
Republicans don't cut and run
Tell me ain't you proud of what we've done
I like it.

Why is it Called "Little Rock?"

The Little RockI've just spent a week in the capital of Arkansas and I learned a few things, including why the city is called "Little Rock."

As it turns out, the city is named for a little rock formation in the bank of the Arkansas River.

The story, as I have it from Shelby Johnson, Arkansas' GIS Coordinator and our host last week, is that as European trappers and traders came up the Arkansas River there were few landmarks as they entered what is now Arkansas. Much of the land they found was low, flat and featureless.

When they came upon a bedrock outcrop the size of an elephant, it stood out in their minds and became their landmark. "Meet me after the season at the Little Rock," I imagine them saying. It would have become a natural place to trade and eventually would grow into a settlement, a town, and a capital city.

The Little Rock itself is now partly buried by the concrete base of a railroad bridge. It is accessible via a decaying footpath and has a scruffy but informative historic marker affixed to it.

Turtles 2If you visit, don't be fooled by the even littler rock in the river just off-shore. It is popular with the local turtles, but is not the little rock that gave its name to the future home of the Clinton Presidential Library.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Home at Last

It's good to be back home, after a week away at a professional conference.

I flew back yesterday afternoon, after a meeting of the NSGIC Board of Directors. I was on the one daily flight from Little Rock to BWI, along with a few others from the NSGIC Conference. We had a pleasant gab-fest in the departure area in Little Rock and took our leave at baggage claim in Baltimore.

I was at my car by 7:00 and planned to drive a short way before stopping for supper. I figured I'd be home by 9:30.

Unfortunately, the winds from the northeast storm now off Delmarva led the Maryland Transportation folks to not open a third east-bound lane on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, as they normally would on a Friday. Because that third lane would be on the west-bound span, and a gust could knock a vehicle into on-coming traffic, they have a wind-restriction.

The result was a crawling slow back-up from the bridge west for many miles and up Route 97, the highway from BWI to Annapolis. As it turned out, I didn't even reach the bridge until 9:30 and wasn't home until 11:30.

What fun.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Update From Little Rock: At the Clinton Library

Clinton Library at NightI'm sorry to say that most of my photos from within the Clinton Library from the other night did not come out well enough to post on flickr. We were asked to not use flash photography, so my shots, while interesting to me, are not sharp enough for "publication."

I did get some cool shots outside.

The evening's event was sponsored by TeleAtlas, a company that DelDOT and the three Delaware counties are working with on a comprehensive statewide update of road data in Delaware. They had one of their data-gathering cars there for us to check out. These cars, and vans, and outfitted with some high-end locational data gathering tools. They are simply driven around, by highly trained folks, to find what's there.

Pretty cool.
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Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Still in Little Rock

Bridge at Dawn 2I'm still ensconced in a hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the middle of a grueling week of the annual NSGIC Conference.

I've mentioned before how crazed this organization is; we meet all day, for days on end, trying to cram as much content as possible into one week. As a result, of course, I'm usually too pooped to post.

I have been trying to blog the conference on the NSGIC blog. I have been reduced, by limited web access, to one post a day (generally). I'll keep working that angle.

Thursday morning I will make a presentation on using blogs, wikis and other social media to increase communication among our user groups. I guess I'd better get to writing that.

This afternoon, I did get a chance to take an hour's walk around downtown Little Rock. With my camera, of course.

This evening, our social event was a dinner at the Clinton Presidential Library. It is a fascinating place. Very impressive. The meal was great and the crowd was interesting, as usual.

Because we were at a presidential library, we all made an effort to rise to a certain sartorial level. One long-term NSGIC leader remarked that he'd never seen the group look so classy.

Yes, I did take photos at the Clinton Library. I'll post those tomorrow.
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